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Schmuck Banquet

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A blood-red banquet in the lair of a child-eating monster, who sits immobile at the end of the table? Well, okay, maybe just a quick bite.
"Free eats can't be beat! […] Is it too good to be true? ...Of course!"

Time and again while wandering deep through Mordor, the heroes come upon a strangely well-appointed city/mansion/hotel/derelict/etcetera with nobody there. They will often discover an elaborate banquet laid out on a table, saunas to bathe in, clothing to dress in, and rooms to sleep in. Without any curiosity as to what it is and who owns it — or the slightest bit of hesitation — our heroes will then spend the night there like the original "Goldilocks". (While it often does turn out to be a booby trap set by the villain, if it isn't, the heroes will leave the next day and think absolutely nothing of it.)

Not to be confused with the quite similar Lotus-Eater Machine. Has nothing to do with Eat Me. (Or "Drink Me", which is a separate trope) and no specific requirement to involve food or eating at all, title aside; compare Schmuck Bait. Also not to be confused with Dinner for Schmucks.

See also Food Chains, Eldritch Location, Exploring the Evil Lair, No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine. If the hero tarries a really long time, compare Year Outside, Hour Inside. If the actual owner is on his (or its) way home, compare Curiosity Killed the Cast.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon features several examples, particularly in Digimon Adventure:
    • Episode 8 has an abandoned mansion in the middle of a dark forest, and episode 17 has a cruise ship plowing through the middle of a desert. Both were traps. Some of the kids recognized the one from episode 8 as a trap, but they were too hungry to care by that point. Episode 17 has a Call-Back to the trap, but again they decide to risk it.
    • Episode 7 has the kids find a refrigerator filled to the brim with eggs and use nearby hot springs for cooking. Nothing bad comes of this, so this trope can be subverted. But the real reason that the kids don't question these things is because they had long since established that they are not in Kansas anymore.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Goku finds a hot spring halfway across Snake Way, which proves to be illusory; it's really a giant snake's gullet.
  • In Gintama, an alien sets a trap for Gintoki, Kagura and Shinpachi of a sumptuous banquet, then drops a cage on them to lock them in. Shinpachi, ever the straight man, provides the requisite banter with the villain while Gintoki and Kagura chow down.
  • Averted in Inuyasha, the Kitsune Inn is marked with a sign, so anyone entering understands that it is the annual kitsune magic test, and outsiders are going to be test subjects for kitsune illusions. Kagome proves to be very hard to ruffle, but consider what she's been through, besides traveling with Shippo for months.
  • Negima!: Used a great many times. The gang, unless undergoing Training from Hell, will almost certainly encounter conveniences while trapped for an extended period of time in some deserted island or underground cavern or magically-sealed area. It's generally quite obvious which wizard did it once that particular arc is over, however.
  • When the Straw Hat Pirates get separated before the time skip in One Piece, Usopp ends up on an island covered in food. As in, all the vegetation grows fruit resembling processed meals, like cooked meat and noodles. He quickly grows fat on the feast, before needing to be rescued because it turns out the entire archipelago is a series of giant carnivorous flowers, with the forests of feasts located on their petals. They lure in prey with the easy meals before flipping the now fattened and lethargic prey into the gaping maw at the center.
  • Princess Tutu references "Hansel and Gretel" in the third episode, when Mytho and Ahiru stumble upon a restaurant in a wooded area and are immediately ushered in by a woman and fed huge amount of (chillingly cold) dishes, even though they were only looking for some water. Ahiru immediately recognizes the similarities to Hansel and Gretel and tells Mytho the fairytale to try to subtly warn him, but he completely misses the point. In the end, it turns out the woman wasn't fattening them up to eat, but was actually possessed by Mytho's heartshard of Loneliness and desperate to keep people in her restaurant, which had fallen on hard times after her husband's death.
  • Averted in Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, where the banquet on the island has been explicitly set up for those who solved the first two puzzles by Descole.
  • Spirited Away: Happens near the start, with tragic results. It certainly looked like a restaurant (and it was, just not for humans, which they couldn't have been expected to guess) and as the father pointed out, he had cash and credit cards on hand. It definitely wasn't perfectly kosher, they could have been setting up for a private party for example, but it's hardly as bad as many of the examples here.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann the crew spends a night at a traditional Japanese inn (commented on by one character as being entirely too convenient and probably a trap), complete with banquet (that the same person comments on as smelling horrible and likely being poisoned) and hot springs (okay, now they're just asking for it). The food itself is not poisoned, but the whole thing is indeed a trap set by disguised Beastmen.
  • The Tower of Druaga has one of these in the form of a mansion that gives the visitors cherished things they have lost in the past, from childhood toys to bringing back their lost True Companions from the dead. The goal being to trap the heroes in the illusion so they do not continue on with their quest. Unlike most examples the "inhabitants" admit it isn't real. In fact one of the illusionary dead people prove enormously helpful.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman: Black and Gold: The first sign that the kindly old lady in "What Doesn't Kill You" is not what she appears is when she implores Diana to eat something from the feast laid out in the Necromanteion. She doesn't even lie about it helping Diana communicate with the spirits when she talks her into it, but Diana had the right of it when thinking it would be a bad idea.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Appears and is referenced in Dog Soldiers when the soldiers and Megan arrive in the house belonging to Megan's friends, which is strangely empty but there is food on the stove. Naturally the owners of the house are the werewolves that have been chasing them all night. Cooper mentions Goldilocks when listing reasons why the wolves are after them.
  • Dracula: Prince of Darkness has a pair of stranded tourist couples being brought to Castle Dracula by a mysterious, driverless coach and discovering one of these laid out for them by (unbeknownst to them) Dracula's The Renfield-esque manservant.
  • In Pan's Labyrinth, Ofelia comes across a banquet table, with the catch that eating anything will awaken the nearby monster. She had been warned not to touch any of the food, but she hasn't had dinner the night before and just can't resist grabbing the Idiot Grape. note 
  • Scooby and Shaggy come across one in Scooby-Doo (2002) while exploring the Spooky Island castle ride. It turns out to be both inedible, and lethal, as it comes to life and tries to eat them.

    Folk Tales 
  • Beauty and the Beast: Beauty's father stumbles into one of these when he takes shelter in the Beast's castle. In the original fairy tale it wasn't accepting the offered hospitality that caused the problem, though — it was picking a rose as he left in the morning. Specifically, the Beast left out the banquet as a form of Sacred Hospitality. He then got pissed when Beauty's father took advantage of the kindness and then went on to basically rob him (taking the rose without asking first).
  • The original Goldilocks tale is an Unbuilt Trope, since versions differ as to Goldilocks' motivations, although it didn't end well in most versions. While the food wasn't specifically put out for passing humans, the bears were quite distressed when they returned home to find her testing out beds in the house.
  • Hansel and Gretel: A classic example is the fairytale, in which two children lost in the woods stumble upon a house made of gingerbread and begin to eat on it. It belongs to a witch that eats children. Oops.
  • The Korean folk tale The Pheasant and the Gong: a woodcutter on a long journey gets lost in the forest. Tired and hungry, he stumbles upon a mansion, whose only occupant is a beautiful, charming, helpful young woman. It turns out she is the spirit of a snake he'd killed earlier in the story who now wants revenge for having killed her.
  • In the novelization of the ballad Thomas the Rhymer the Fairy Queen makes a point of only serving Thomas food made in human world, always specifying where it's from, since she intends to release him after several years of service, and if he ate the native food of the Fairyland he would be stuck there for good, and even she would have no power to help him.
  • In Andrew Lang's tale The Three Musicians, the eponymous characters come to a village where they hear about a castle full of wonders but inhabited by a terrible spirit that punishes the trespassers. One of the musicians, a fiddler, decides to sneak in and finds a magnificent banquet in a room. When he starts to eat, an old, fragile dwarf with a long beard appears to share the dinner, but drops his food on the floor. When the fiddler bends to pick it up, the dwarf beats him black and blue, then kicks him out of the castle. Same happens to the trumpeter, but the third guy — a flute-player — of course, is smarter; he tears off the dwarf's beard, which gave the latter an extraordinary strength, and forces him to reveal the magic secrets of the castle.

  • One Dungeons & Dragons-based Gamebook features a table filled with self-serving food in an otherwise abandoned castle. It's a trap, Have a Nice Death!
  • In the second GrailQuest book Pip may come across an elaborate feast in an abandoned house. It is, of course, poisoned. Oddly, while there's an anti-poison spell and it's hinted you should cast it first, the game doesn't make any allowances for your having done so — it's random luck whether you get sent to 14.

  • The Dark Tower: A disturbing example occurs where Susannah's demon counterpart (it's a long story) wakes up in an abandoned castle on the edge of the mountains between Thunderclap and End-World, and encounters a lavish banquet table in an otherwise deserted castle full of rumbling machinery and torture chambers. The food is not what it looks like in her dream.
  • High Judges in The Hunger Games often set up feasts during games in which items such as food and medicine are provided to present surviving tributes. Often, they serve as yet another occasion for further bloodshed, since stronger tributes use these feasts to attract weaker ones to kill; indeed, such feasts are commonly used to make games more active.
  • In one of the Land of Oz sequels, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, the protagonists come across a cabin on a deserted stretch of the Yellow Brick Road. A disembodied voice begrudgingly agrees to provide them food and shelter for the night, and they never see who provides it. The titular Patchwork Girl annoys the invisible host and winds up locked outside overnight, where she observes a large wolf coming to the door several times. In the morning, the protagonists who spent the night inside realize they're still hungry and tired as if they hadn't eaten or slept at all. The whole thing is never elaborated on, explained, or even referenced again.
  • In The Odyssey Odysseus and his crew stumble upon a cave with live animals. Thinking the animals are wild beasts, they began to take them for food. Then the cave's owner shows up, a Cyclops. Realizing their error, Odysseus offers to recompense the Cyclops for the animals that were butchered and eaten. The Cyclops agrees, by taking members of Odysseus's crew and eating them, raw, then sealing the cave shut with the rest trapped inside while he goes and lies on his bed right next to them.
  • In The Once and Future King, Wart (young King Arthur) and Kay go into the castle of Morgan le Fay, warned that they won't be able to leave if they eat anything. The whole castle is made of food, but thankfully neither of them is stupid/hungry enough to fall for it.
  • C. S. Lewis subverts this in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, with a banquet that appears to have put three men to sleep for years. Despite seeing the victims still sitting at the table, some of the crew are tempted to dig in, though the wiser among them shoot that idea down. Later it turns out that the banquet is perfectly all right — the victims fell asleep because during a heated argument, one of them grabbed the stone knife the White Witch used to kill Aslan, and they all dropped asleep as soon as he touched it.
  • In Warrior Cats:
    • When the forest is being destroyed by Twolegs (humans), the cats find little "dens" (cages) with kittypet food in them, and after they get trapped in them, they are taken away by the Twolegs. Leafpaw is hungry and desperate enough to try eating it and gets caught.
    • The cats attempt this as well: they leave out some freshly-killed prey stuffed with highly poisonous berries in the hope that this unexpected meal will look appealing to the local mountain lion, who they hope will eat it and die of the poison. It doesn't work; he merely swipes it aside and continues into the cave to attack the cats.
  • The Wee Free Men: If you eat anything inside a drome's dream, you'll never want to wake up; you just carry on dreaming while your sleeping body starves to death... (Though it doesn't work on Feegles, who have no trouble getting in and out of anywhere; after entering one dream to warn Tiffany, they stay behind to polish off the lavish banquet that was provided.)
  • Parodied in Woof Woof Story. A sapient wolf pack are trying to escort (oblivious) adventurers through the forest, reasoning that the less monsters they encounter, the sooner they will get out of the wolves' territory. So every single time the adventuring group sense monsters around, they are immediately slain by shadowy creatures too fast to recognize, who say nothing to the humans and follow them wherever they go. In the end, the wolves — seeing that the group is terrified and exhausted despite all their hard work — place a fancy banquet in their path. This doesn't help.
    He's heard of vampires, intelligent monsters that improve the taste of their victim's blood by instilling them with fear.
    The endless observation and hostile aura are all for the purpose of leading them here to be feasted upon.
    And the final phase of the plan is to have the adventurers clean themselves in the hot spring and fatten themselves up with the food.
  • Robert E. Howard's Xuthal of the Dusk starts off like this, after Conan the Barbarian and his Girl of the Week are attacked by what seems to be a dead man. Natala fears this trope when she sees a meal laid out. Conan tells her she's a fool since they are starving, but once he has eaten it does occur to him that it could be poisoned.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Greek Mythology:
    • The fate of Persephone. Kidnapped by Hades, she eats a few pomegranate seeds and bam — we've got winter. She has to stay down there for a few months every year and her mother angsts.
    • The Argonauts arrive on the island of Mysia and find a large feast laid out for them, with nobody in sight. Of course taking one thing from the table summons the Harpies to attack. The entire banquet was put there as a Kick the Dog to Phineus who had given up his eyesight for the ability to see into the future. A new banquet is put there every day but he can't eat any of it or else the Harpies will get him. However once the Argonauts get rid of the Harpies, he's free to eat as much as he wants.
    • The Greeks sailing with Odysseus scout ahead on an island in search of food, and are met by a beautiful woman offering them some. As soon as they dig in, the woman reveals herself to be the witch (or goddess, nymph, etc.) Circe and she turns them all into pigs, intending to eat them or just to torture them. Luckily, Odysseus arrives just in time to save them, with a little help from Hermes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Lost: As the game is about fairy tales from Hell, you'd imagine there'd be a few places in the Hedge that take advantage of this. One such place is a sumptuous underground manse, accessible only by ladder, filled with beautiful decor and giant marionette handservants that offer you the finest refreshments. And then you try to leave, and find that the ladder's disappeared, and the walls up are covered with an extremely slippery substance. And if you stay in that manse, you'll slowly become one of those genderless automatons, dedicated only to pleasing your "guests."
    • Some hobgoblins have a Dread power called "Much Depends On Dinner," which creates one of these out of thin air that is supernaturally tempting...Anyone who sees or smells the delicious offerings is instantly, ravenously hungry, and is drawn to the table, where they eat their fill. This can be a mask for any number of unpleasant outcomes, with the most benign being that the food is actually dried husks and dead leaves and not actually filling, and at worst hide poison or included fruits that give the eaters Goblin Debt.
    • If you have the Feast of Plenty Contract from the Chalice Regalia, you too can create your own Schmuck Banquet out of thin air — the food is supernaturally tasty and has magical effects, but everyone who eats what you provided are now saddled with a Wyrd-enforced debt to you.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Two modules had inviting feasts laid out: I6 Ravenloft and X2 Castle Amber:
    • Castle Amber: Some items are beneficial, some are baneful and some have mixed effects. The rub was that the courses were served in order by ghostly servants and the effects only became apparent after each player had decided whether or not their character would eat the particular course, it had been consumed by the brave/foolish adventurers or spurned by the wise/cowardly characters, and the dishes taken away to prepare for the next course!
    • Ravenloft: The meal is perfectly safe. The feast in Castle Ravenloft is specifically set out for adventurers. Strahd von Zarovich doesn't want his "guests" to die on an empty stomach.
  • Warhammer: One of the chambers of Slaanesh's palace is a banquet hall filled with foods that would be whatever was the favourite taste of the visitor. Taking one bite from anything forever trapped you within the chamber, gorging on the rest of the food there. He also has a hall where it was extremely calm and peaceful, but a single moment of rest would make you so lazy you would sit there forever and turn into sand, as well as a room filled with gold and... you get the point.

  • In John Milton's Comus, Comus offers one, and is scorned. He only manages to keep the Lady there by using his Magic Wand and imprisoning her in her chair.
  • Happens in III, iii of The Tempest. Prospero's magic lays out a beautiful banquet, which the shipwrecked King and attendants find, then when they try to eat, Ariel shows up as a giant harpy and scares the crap out of them. This is most likely based on King Phineas' banquet in The Argonautica.

    Video Games 
  • In Avernum 3, the backwater town of Erox is suspiciously empty except for one guy hanging out in the common area of the tavern, who tells the player's party that they can help themselves to any of the food, drink, or rooms there. It's a trap laid by a group of human-eating Rakshasa.
  • Dragon Quest VI has the second Archfiend's arc, where a floating island is said to take its passengers to the Isle o' Smiles, a paradise on Earth. The island itself offers a large banquet and very full bar served by bunny girls to its passengers, who can't believe their luck. Astonishingly enough, all the passengers save the party are enslaved by Jamirus' troops. Once you beat him, you keep the island which doubles as an inn.
  • This is the overarching plot in the Interactive Fiction story Eat Me. Nearly everything (and everyone) you meet is made of food, and you can't enter the last area until you've fattened yourself up enough and made yourself a sufficiently poetic target for a Forced Transformation.
  • A variation in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim where you will trick a priest that early on was your quest-giver, as the new course for the feast of followers of Namira. As soon as the priest enters the banquet, he's already mind-controlled into taking a sleep (where you will carve him). The player can either take the first bite, or use the priest as bait to gather all of Namira's local coven in one place to kill them.
  • Final Fantasy:
  • Gretel and Hansel has a variation in the second game, where you drop into a banquet held by a treeman (the other guests are tied up) who offers you fare such as fish or leg of human. Eating it causes branches to sprout from your head, eating too much gets you one of the game's many deaths.
  • The Last Story: While exploring a heavily dilapidated shipwreck full of nothing but monsters, the party comes across a banquet room filled with high-class food that looks fresh and ready to eat. Everyone scoffs at how obvious a trap it is though (except for Big Eater Mirania who needs to needs a bit of sense talked into her first), and they quickly move on without incident.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has the free cake set out for you towards the end of the Glitz Pit arc. This is especially deceptive, because the first one is safe and restores all stats, while the second one later on will poison and weaken you (forcing you to fight without a partner in the next bout).
    • Mario Party DS starts with Mario getting a microscopic shard known as a Sky Crystal, and on cue, Kamek flies over the Mushroom Kingdom, dropping invitations from Bowser to a banquet as an apology for his antagonism. The invitations also land in the hands of Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong, who rush over to Bowser's Castle for the food, only for Donkey Kong to be turned to stone by Kamek. Mario and his friends arrive at Bowser's Castle, and as promised, the banquet is laid out in the open, but this turns out to be a trap for all eight guests to be locked behind a cage, be shrunk by Bowser, and have Mario's Sky Crystal be stolen. Come the end of the game, the entire banquet is devoured by the Kongs.
    • Bowser is treated to one after beating Midbus in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. He eats only a little and tries to get out, but the Boos force-feed him until he becomes too fat to move.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In the episode, Dad's Dungeon, Finn and Jake finds a banquet of fruits with three Fruit Witches tempting them to eat the fruit. Finn was about to eat it but Jake put the fruit away and put one of the fruit in a Witch's mouth which turned her into an apple.
  • Bugs Bunny: In a version of Goldilocks, the bears did intend to lure someone. Bugs becomes their victim because Mama Bear made carrot soup instead of porridge.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In "Operation: F.O.U.N.T.A.I.N.", Sector V venture through an ancient school build underneath Gallagher Elementary School in order to rescue Leaky Leona. Their trek to rescue her leads them to a cafeteria where the food is laid out perfectly. Numbuh 5 is aware that it could be a trap, so she orders everyone to not touch the food — but when the message is passed to Numbuh 3, she completely mishears the message and tells Numbuh 2 to "try the onion rings", and Numbuh 2 is already putting food on his tray. A gush of milk from where the food used to be begins flooding the entire room, which ironically helps them get out as the only way to the next room is a heighted exit.
  • The Cuphead Show!: In the episode "Sweet Temptation", Sugarland is an entire land made of candy that visitors are encouraged to eat by Baroness von Bon Bon. She only has two rules, tell no one else of Sugarland and don't eat her castle. She fully expects these rules to be broken, which turns the guilty into candy for her and her castle to eat. Even if victims manage to escape, the Baroness also expects them to eventually return for more sweets.
  • Timon & Pumbaa: "Brazil Nuts" sees Timon and Pumbaa run into a free-for-all restaurant in the middle of the Amazon jungle (since they're Funny Animals, the entrees are insects and the like). Timon, of course, digs in, but Pumbaa already suspects that something doesn't add up — and sure enough, they soon learn it's actually a trap set by a duo of anacondas meant for Fattening the Victim. In the end, the pair get back at the snakes with a similar trap, falsely promising fresh prey while leading them through a door dropping them into the piranha-infested Amazon River.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Suspiciously Convenient Accommodations


Inside Story banquet

Bowser is tricked into eating a ton of high-calorie foods to gain weight.

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