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Schmuck Bait

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You know what they say: Build a better mousetrap...
This is the description for Schmuck Bait. Do not read this, or else...

You would have to be an idiot to go near schmuck bait. Things like the Big Red Button with the dire warning signs; the dark alley in Vampire Town; the conspicuously untouched treasure chest; the room full of frighteningly realistic statues; the room full of "statues" that twitch every thirty seconds; or a seemingly innocuous game/video telling you to turn the volume up and/or look very closely at an image...

Making schmuck bait irresistible is a good trick. Often it takes advantage of the inherent appeal of Forbidden Fruit. Or a Curious as a Monkey character or a Super Gullible character will ensure it gets taken. Often in spite of warning cries from other characters. It can end badly.

See also Briar Patching, Genre Blindness, Too Dumb to Live, Idiot Ball, Distress Ball, What Does This Button Do?, Press X to Die, Reverse Psychology, Who Would Be Stupid Enough?, The Window or the Stairs, Don't Touch It, You Idiot!, and Tempting Fate. If taking the bait doesn't hurt you, it's a Fake Trap and possibly a Paranoia Gambit. If taking it does something good, it's Violation of Common Sense. If that something good is being able to progress, it's Stupidity Is the Only Option (Trap Is the Only Option for the non-video game version). If someone fell into a Schmuck Bait one day but understandably didn't noise about it, he may be subject to Oblivious Mockeries. Not to be mistaken for Snark Bait, Clickbait Gag or for something that actually baits your schmuck.Explanation 


Note that this term is used differently by screenwriters. It most commonly refers to Like You Would Really Do It, and can also simply refer to any sort of audience misdirection.

More information on this can be found here.

Example subpages:


Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • One former GEICO ad campaign featured a cartoon guy who brought the full brunt of some Obvious Traps onto himself. But some of them look too good to resist!
  • To launch a new television network in Belgium, TNT placed a button in a quiet square with a label that read: "Push to add drama."
  • "How 'bout a nice Hawaiian PUNCH?!"
  • The old jingle for Chiquita bananas warned consumers that they should never refrigerate bananas because they're a tropical fruit that hails from warm climates. What happens if you do it anyway? Think about it: What happens when you put most tropical fruits in the fridge? The skin darkens a bit, but the bananas inside stay fresh for a substantially longer time. The people selling them obviously don't want that, because then you're not running out to buy more as frequently.

  • The Rape Tunnel, an art installation by Richard Whitehouse. Exactly What It Says on the Tin: If you enter this tunnel then the artist will attempt to rape you. It's a followup to his other piece, The Punch-You-in-the-Face Tunnel. They were both fabricated stories, and the actual Schmuck Bait was to see who would take the story seriously and how; in this regard, it was successful if not predictable in light of this entire page.
  • Also from the art world, there was a controversy some years ago about a Danish exhibition that featured ten blenders, each containing water and live goldfish, with an invitation to the viewer that they could press the button if they wanted to. At least seven fish were pureed.

  • Jeff Foxworthy mentions such a scenario in one of his routines, where he and his family were standing in line at the movies and Jeff's mother forgot her hearing aid.
    Jeff: [facepalm; to audience] One, you're embarrassed to death. And two, when someone says something like that... YOU GOTTA LOOK!

    Fan Works 
  • The Writing on the Wall has a large, fortified, heavily built structure surrounded by metal spikes with warnings in dozens of languages written inside. Clearly, its builders were very concerned about deterring tomb robbers. Too bad it isn't a tomb, but a nuclear waste storage facility, and the warnings of danger were all too real. This is based on a suggested idea for such a structure in the real world, which has long been stuck in the planning phase because it is really hard to figure out how to comprehensively prevent it from being schmuck bait.
  • A rather chilling example from the RWBY fic "Redemption." During the Mountain Glen mission, Coco comes across a bag personalized with Blake Belladonna's name, and returns it to her. Blake insists it isn't hers, but opens it to try and figure out where it came from.
  • In Robb Returns, Jon Arryn suckers Littlefinger into wearing as much heavy armor as possible and then hands him a heavy axe, before dropping him into the sea as part of his trial by combat.
  • In Sort the Dragon, the Hogwarts heads of house spend some time trying to figure out a way to warn students not to mess with Harry Potter without tempting them to do so. Snape even remarks that most Slytherins view "Do not do something" to mean "Do not get caught doing it". In the end, they institute a zero tolerance policy towards bullying and each head individually warns their house members to "Leave. Potter. Alone." Snape warns his Slytherins that if they still cross Harry, he won't bother punishing them as what happens will be on their head, though he is glad one of his prefects asks for clarification as to whether Potter is to be isolated or whether they aren't to antagonize him.
  • In Zeppo No More 2: The City Of Screams, a vampiric Xander throws Cordelia into a pitch black room and tells her "Whatever you do, do not turn on the light." Naturally she turns on the light...and sees the room is full of the mutilated remains of his victims, including the corpse of Buffy Summers and the face of Kate Lockley.
  • In Wyvern, Taylor (who has the alt-power to turn into a wyvern) wishes to catch her three bullies in the act, so she takes a very obvious recording device, covered with stickers saying 'YOU ARE BEING RECORDED', to school. She is promptly beaten up and it is stolen from her. There are several things wrong with this plan of action. One: it's not a recorder. It's just a very, very durable remote microphone. The recorder is in Taylor's back pocket. Two: it has a tracking beacon in it. Taylor can track it with the remote in her back pocket. Three: Sophia Hess stashes it in the same hidey-hole she uses for her illicit gear, which is right behind her locker. Taylor and Danny call the police, and they move the locker. With the PRT present.

  • Pick-a-path books are veritable minefields of Schmuck Bait. Choose the wrong options, and you're hosed.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure as well... the trouble with those though is that often times they subvert this and trick you with options that seem like obvious Schmuck Bait which turn out fine and options that appear harmless leave you to a horrid fate.
    • In one book, for example, you need to choose between whether you should run back into a burning building after a friend or escape. If you return then you live and get a relatively happy ending (complete with rescuing the friend's ancestor from slavery; it's a long story). If you escape from the building then you wind up being mistaken for a thief while trying to put out the fire, are publicly humiliated by being forced to wear a sign that says you're a thief, and then get shot and killed for inadvertently sitting and resting on the steps of a bank (which the police think you're looting).
    • Notable straight examples include chewing-gum that just happens to be plastic explosive (which you learn only after you try to chew it), and jumping overboard on a ship in a theme park, only to learn that the water 30 feet below you is actually just concrete with a shimmering water-like effect.
  • Some of the later books in the Fighting Fantasy series elevate Schmuck Bait to an art form. For example, in Return to Firetop Mountain you might be able to catch two of the Big Bad's spies (which requires dodging a couple of baits first, BTW). You kill them, and one has a bit of paper hidden in his boot. Woot! Secret info as your reward for being clever enough to reach that point, right? WROOOOOOONG! It's a cursed scroll.
  • In the interactive Zork novels there's usually a trap that asks if you found a certain item that doesn't exist. If you say "yes" the book calls you out for cheating and doesn't give you the option of going back and trying again that it usually does.
  • Same thing in the first book of La Saga du Prêtre Jean with the nonexistent key to a door that can't be opened.
  • The interactive 1st Edition (A)D&D game book Survival of the Fittest has a beautiful schmuck-bait trap. The entry at the bottom of each page is a ruse; no other entry led to them from any accessible part of the game. Some are straightforward, like "If you have gotten here you have gone to the wrong number, because there is no 14J. Subtract 1 from your Intelligence, and go to 1A." However, one of these inaccessible entries is particularly cruel: "You have stumbled across a Ring of Three Wishes! To use it in your campaign, just show your Dungeon Master this and the steps you took through this book to get here, then abide by his/her restrictions for the wishes." Given the prerequisites for being a DM, it may actually be doing you a favor.

  • Duncan Shiek's "Barely Breathing" is about a guy who has fallen for a woman whom he knows... he knows... will end up being bad news and likely breaking his heart and ruining his life. He knows he'll get hurt if he stays with her, but he's "thinking it over anyway." Schmuck Bait on a cracker.
  • The Airborne Toxic Event's "Sometime After Midnight" ends with the lines "You just have to see her/You just have to see her/You just have to see her/You know that she'll break you in two", which is definitely close to schmuck bait.
  • The "dance remix" of Perfume's Polyrhythm leaves in the song's bridge.
  • In the music video for "Do Not Push", Pomplamoose's mashup of "Call Me Maybe" and "Someone That I Used To Know", a couple gets mailed a literal Big Red Button labeled "do not push."

  • Jemjammer: The suits of armour in Spider Chateau. Jylliana predicts that they'll activate when the party passes their line of site. When Grak tosses a rock past them they attack, and Jylliana and Cacophony high-five.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Every single time The Rock asks somebody a question, he cuts them off before they can give him an answer.
    The Rock: How dare you little jabroni come on The Rock's show and not even have the class to introduce yourself? What is your name?
    Chris Jericho: I told you—
    • "It doesn't matter" is something of a Catchphrase for The Rock, to go along with his many, many others.
  • Another repeated schtick: "Oh god, my opponent has thrown a chair at me! HA HA, I caught it you dumb *kicks chair into the face*"
  • A general rule of thumb: if the resident Heel is offering to shake your hand, don't.
  • Using an aerial maneuver against Randy Orton. Try it! You'll be very lucky not to be on the receiving end of the RKO
  • In almost any tag team match between heels and faces, the heel team will do something to get the face outside the ring to come after them. 99% of the time the face falls for it and gets the ref's attention, allowing the bad guys to double team his poor partner.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In a scene from Spitting Image, President Ronald Reagan's brain is missing and he has two identical buttons next to his bed. One reads "Nurse" and the other one reads "Nuke". Guess which one he hits.

  • In Dino Attack RPG, the secret black operations Antarctica mission was explicitly said to be a secret mission because, if word ever got out that Mutant Dinos were invading Antarctica (not to mention that Shadow and Viper agreed to this mission behind Digger's back), the consequences would be dire. Unfortunately, Atton Rand was Wrong Genre Savvy and believed that PeabodySam wanted players to spread word about the mission, and so with the help of newly-created NPCs Cam O'Cozy and French Fries, he let Zenna spread the news that there were Mutant Dinos in Antarctica and realists were going behind the backs of idealists. Needless to say, dire consequences followed.
  • In the MSF High Forum, the nurse is infamous for turning people into, well, whatever strikes her fancy. She then leaves out a cake, with a sign saying "Free cake". She has had three victims of TF-cake thus far.

  • In Pokémon Live!, Giovanni's plan is to lure trainers to his Gym by offering a one-on-one battle for an exclusive badge, allowing MechaMew2 to learn every Pokemon attack in the world. He comments that he's learned 75 attacks total by the end of his first scene, and his commercial's only been running one day.
  • In Guys and Dolls, it's illustrated in the advice Sky Masterson got from his father;
    "One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to come to you and show you a nice, brand new deck of cards on which the seal has not yet been broken. This man is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of that deck and squirt cider in your ear. Now son, you do not take this bet, for as sure as you stand there, you are going to wind up with an earful of cider."
    • Later, when Nathan cons him into betting that he could take Sister Sarah to Havana, Sky looks up and says, "Daddy, I got cider in my ear."

    Urban Legends 
  • A lot of myths claimed that gel or rubber bracelets for teens are a sexual signal and the guy who can break one from a girl would get her compelled to have sex with him. Other myths claim if the guy can take the pull tab intact from a girl's can of beer or soft drink she will kiss him, and if he can remove the lid from the can she will have sex with him. Cue the poor guy try to break with bare hands the rubber which is designed specifically to not break easily... or remove with bare fingers the factory-crimped and rolled lid from an aluminum beer cannote .
  • Some Japanese urban legends are based around the victims taking the bait. A common one is Kashima Reiko, in which that if you read the legend, she'll appear before you. The legend itself is about a girl who got cut in half and rips other people's legs off in anger, if they knew about her or the legend based on her.
  • Many urban legends/games centered around summoning ghosts or spirits, like Bloody Mary or the Midnight Game, claim that dire consequences follow anyone who plays the game and doesn't adhere to a very strict formula. Many will specifically warn readers against even trying it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Disgaea Infinite, one path allows you to possess a Geo Symbol. If you do this, you get destroyed, triggering one of the Bad Endings.
  • Corpse Party: In Chapter 2, you are warned not to read the Victim's Memoirs to their conclusion. You may think "Tch! In Chapter 1 I was warned not to read that newspaper, but I had to in order to reach Chapter 1's True End. Let's take a look." Enjoy having Yoshiki realize that he's killed Ayumi and resorted to cannibalism.
  • Eroge! Sex and Games Make Sexy Games: Near the end of each girls' route, giving into temptation from Reina, Miki, Tomoko, and Lemon from Nene's, Iori's, Kisara's, and Momoka's routes, respectively, with grant you their bad endings.
  • "This Doki Doki Literature Club! VN just looks like some cutesy, saccharine Dating Sim. But why is there a blatant Content Warning on the Steam page about disturbing content? And why are the Steam tags full of stuff like "Psychological Horror", "Dark", "Violent" and "Gore"?"
  • In Zero Time Dilemma, the Healing Room segment ends at a big blue button circled by a flashing red message which reads "Warning: Do not push this button!" Phi is convinced that this trope is in full effect, whereas Sigma thinks it's a standout case of Reverse Psychology. Sure enough, Phi's absolutely correct - pressing it blows up the entire facility.
  • Katawa Shoujo contains this exchange:
    [In Shizune's route, Act 1]
    Misha: Shicchan is holding a 1000-yen note in one hand, Hicchan~! If you guess which one, you can have it If you don't...
    Misha: You're carrying all our books to school~! Right, Shicchan!? Right~!
    She and Shizune exchange nods
    Misha: Okay Hicchan~! Get ready~!
    Carrying three bags instead of one, I think about the day that's ahead of me. Of us.

    Web Animation 
  • ASDF Movie:
  • Smosh's SHUT UP! Cartoons had this in one episode of Ninjas Versus Zombies. Spencer finds a rope with the word, "Pull". Spencer decides to pull it and nearly falls into a trap door.
  • In the Yellow trailer for RWBY, Yang strolls into a Bad-Guy Bar and uses a Groin Attack on Junior, the mob leader who runs the place, to get some information off him. When his goons descend on them, she lets his Juniors go and then playfully flirts with him, saying she wants to kiss and make up. He goes along with it and leans in, with his eyes closed. Unsurprisingly, she just socks him.
  • In the Zero Punctuation review for DayZ, Yahtzee mentions that on one of his 38 attempts (by the end of the video, anyway), he finds a pistol, rifle, and a ton of spare ammo at the top of a stairwell in an abandoned building. While questioning where the guns came from, as well as questioning the broken window and adjacent dead player (portrayed as a corpse with a bullet wound in their forehead) he is shot dead by a sniper (in the same spot as the aforementioned corpse).
    Yahtzee: Okay, lesson learned. Never gorp at your inventory screen while standing fully upright next to a window.

    Web Videos 
  • Every YouTube video with "ear rape" on title obviously has Sensory Abuse on it. Sometimes, the uploader includes a "Warning!" on the title.
  • Oh, I hope nobody plays this! [1]
  • CollegeHumor has a video called the "Retard Test". The patient is given this riddle: the red man lives in the red house, the orange man lives in the orange house, and the blue man lives in the blue house. So who lives in the white house? The patient gives "the white man" because of the way the riddle has been phrased. The doctor tells him "Wrong: the President lives in the White House. You're retarded." Not that it matters, from 2009 until 2017 the correct answer would also be "a black man lives in the White House."
  • Many Let's Plays tend to have a message stating "TURN YOUR HEADPHONES VOLUME DOWN" right before a really loud part. Many people INSTEAD turn their headphones volume UP.
  • In The Stinger of Anonymous by Matt Santoro, a fan commenter tells Matt to keep pressing 7, so he gets out a keyboard and does so. He explodes.
  • In the Tabletop episodes on Eldritch Horror, Jess Marzipan's character is given an opportunity to create a Dark Pact to kill a monster. Pat Rothfuss notes that it seems like a bad idea, but Jess just can't resist taking the Dark Pact because it fits her "(allegedly) reformed cultist" character so perfectly and there's only a 1/6 chance that she'll have to pay the consequences for it on her next Reckoning roll. Guess what happens when it comes time for that Reckoning roll?
  • This YouTube link is a not Rick Roll. The bait here being that you avoid the link because you're told it's not a rick roll...
  • This YouTube video could qualify as schmuck bait.
  • TakeThisLollipop Ah yes. I’m sure taking that Totally innocent looking lollipop is a wonderful idea that’s sure to leave you safe and not Tracked down and murdered!

Highlight only in case of emergency: Not now, you idiot! I said only in case of emergency!

Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Shmuck Bait, Obvious Trap


Waffles in the woods

Donkey discovers a plate of waffles in the woods. Shrek is quick to realize this is an obvious trap. But of course, Donkey can't resist and takes a teeny tiny lick--which triggers the trap, setting off a chain reaction that results in Donkey being knocked into a huge, deep pit.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / SchmuckBait

Media sources:

Main / SchmuckBait