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Schmuck Bait
aka: Obvious Trap

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This trope is under discussion in the Trope Repair Shop.
Ah, sweet! Free jewel!
If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry.

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 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.

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  • 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."
  • 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. This is, however, subverted if you ignore the warning and do it anyway. Think about it: What happens when you put most tropical fruits in the fridge? Yes, they take longer to rot. 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 always running out to buy more because the entire bunch spoiled in 2 days.note 

  • 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 bait was to see who would take the story seriously and how; in this regard, it was successful.
  • There was a controversy some 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!
  • John Robertson's The Dark Room, parodying old-school text adventure games, features a scenario where the audience member currently chosen to play can be presented with two options: ask for a hint, or an incredibly obvious trap. Going for the hint leads to the Guardian of the Dark Room making the obvious trap the only option.
    Guardian: You want a hint?! This is the wrong option!

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "The Golden Goose", one of the innkeeper's daughters tries to pluck one feather of the golden goose, and her hand becomes stuck to its wing. Her sister also tries to get a feather, and becomes stuck to her. Then, the third sibling shows up, sees her sisters stuck to the goose and screaming her to stay away, and she touches the goose anyway.
    At last the third also came with the like intent, and the others screamed out, "Keep away; for goodness' sake keep away!" But she did not understand why she was to keep away. "The others are there," she thought, "I may as well be there too," and ran to them; but as soon as she had touched her sister, she remained sticking fast to her. So they had to spend the night with the goose.
  • "Bluebeard": The titular serial killer's wives invariably fell victim to "don't go in this room".
  • Arabian Nights contain the story of "The Man who Never Laughed During the Rest of His Days". A young man is charged with taking care of his rich but gloomy uncle and his friends, who spends all their time grieving over some terrible fate that has befallen them. The uncle tells his nephew that he will inherit all his riches as long as he never asks the grieving men about the reason behind their sorrow. On his uncle's deathbed, the young man's curiosity makes him break his promise and ask anyway. The uncle then tells him that if he wants to avoid a terrible fate, he mustn't ever open one of the doors in the building. After the uncle dies, the young man inherits the house and is happy until his curiosity gets the better of him. He opens the forbidden door and finds himself in an earthly paradise ruled by beautiful women where he is immediately married away with the queen, who lets him rule by her side. But she also tells him that he must never open one of the palace doors. The young man spends seven happy years with his queen, but eventually cannot stop himself looking behind the forbidden door. He finds himself back in his home and unable to return to the queen and the paradise kingdom. He thus, just like his uncle and the other grievers, end up as the titular man who never laughed during the rest of his days.
  • In Alexander Afanasyev's "Little Master Misery", Misery badgers the poor brother into going to the tavern every day until he cannot afford buy even one drink. Misery then leads him to a buried treasury. After loading the whole treasury onto a cart, the poor brother states he can see one last coin shining in the bottom of the hole, but he cannot reach it. Misery jumps down into the pit to find it, and the poor brother quickly rolls one stone over the hole, shutting him in so that Misery does not drink up everything he has again. Later, Misery is released by the rich brother, and swearing to not be tricked again, proceeds to pester him until the brother has drunk his whole fortune up. One day, the rich brother suggests to play hide-and-seek in the yard, and Misery gloats that it can become tiny enough to hide in a mouse-hole, or the hub of a wheel. Since the rich brother calls him a bluffing liar, Misery makes himself smaller and pops into the hole of the hub. Instantly the merchant drives a wege into the hole and throws the weel into a flowing river.

    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.
  • In 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.
  • Rise of the Minisukas: When the Jet Alone Kai talks Shinji into lowering his AT-Field to talk things over, Unit-01's head takes a hammer blow from the robot, and Shinji's take several ones from Leader and Shiki for being so stupid. Shortly later, Shinji gets even by successfully carrying out a "Look. A distraction!" tactic.
  • 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.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Gold Quest, an Ocarina of Time Rom Hack, the Stone of Agony is available for sale at regular shops. It is renamed the "Useless Plastic Brick," costs a whopping 999 rupees, and the shop description says it does nothingnote  and that you would have to be insane to buy it. Actually buying it reveals... that it really is useless for the hack and that you wasted the maximum possible amount of money holdable all for nothing.
  • In Mythos Effect, after the loss of Digeris to the New Earth Federation, the Turian Hierarchy finds an abandoned Human spaceship, which they drag to a military base to reverse engineer it. Except, as a crewman of the merchant ship that found it reveals, it wasn't abandoned - it showed up right in front of them and then the human crew begged the Turians to destroy the ship while being clearly horrified and/or tortured by something. When the Turian navy scanned the ship, it was completely devoid of life.

  • Choose Your Own Adventure books often employ this trope. 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). Then again, serves you right for leaving your friend to their fate.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rusty Quill Gaming: Despite being repeatedly told that opening your eyes during a Gate spell is a bad idea, Grizzop and Sasha just can't help themselves when they use one to travel in the season 3 finale. The resulting disorientation from seeing spacetime twist itself into pretzels forces them to make an additional saving throw which they then fail, causing them to be separated from the main party and thrown into the far past.

    Professional 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.

    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 Gettin' Down in Your Town, the Shredder tricks the turtles into releasing him by threatening to expose a VHS tape containing footage of them committing terrible acts, reasoning that he can't show them what's on it because there are no VHS players in the dimension he was imprisoned in. It never occurred to them that maybe he didn't have a tape to begin with (considering he's in a Prison Dimension), and if the tape was real, then he would have no way to show it to anyone, making his threat toothless.
    Casey Jones: If they don't have VCRs in interdimensional-infinity, how could he make the video-tape?
  • 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 case 3 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All, you're given the option to say that the Judge is hiding the case's murder weapon. This will get you hit with a massively punishing penalty; if you haven't played utterly perfectly up to that point, it's game over.
  • 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 '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"?" The physical release outright says the game is a horror game on the back of the box.
  • 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.
  • In the H-Game "STARLESS", the male protagonist finds an ad for a rather-simple-looking job that pays an absurd amount of money for it? Hell yeah! What could possibly go wrong with that great job offer?

    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 
  • Afterlife SMP: After moving into Joel's house without asking, Joel led Jimmy (who held the Feline origin at the time) to a giant salmon he'd built, and told him that if he pressed the button on its nose, it would dispense Dreamies (a brand of cat treats). Jimmy, too excited to consider that Joel might not be telling the truth, pressed the button immediately... and was blown up by several TNT minecarts.
  • 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."
  • Critical Role:
    • From campaign 1: The glowing golden armour left untarnished on a corpse when all the bodies around it have been systematically looted? Is absolutely going to curse Vax the minute he touches it.
    • From campaign 3: When Bells Hells obtain the Shard of Rau'shan, Ashton is warned multiple times by multiple very powerful beings that since he already has the Shard of Ka'mort inside him, taking the power of this Shard into his body would kill him, while anyone else would probably gain immense power. Ashton proceeds to trick the Hells into letting him absorb the shard anyway, and immediately begins burning alive from the inside out as his body disintegrates. He only survives because of several rounds of constant healing and a lot of pure, dumb luck* and his constitution modifier is permanently reduced by 2 for his trouble. Taliesin, the person playing Ashton, snarks to Matt that he must have seen this coming, but Matt replies that he genuinely didn't, since he had gone out of his way to warn him not to do that multiple times.
  • 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...
  • 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!

Alternative Title(s): Shmuck Bait, Obvious Trap


"Gullible" on the ceiling

"Oh, so it d--ah! You stole my lungs."

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / OrganTheft

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