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 hesitation, our heroes will then stay 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 (its) way home, compare Curiosity Killed the Cast.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- "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 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.
- 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.
- "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).
- Greek mythology:
- Persephone in Greek mythology. 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 in Greek mythology 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 the Harpies, he's free to eat as much as he wants.
- Also from Greek mythology, 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Hes heard of vampires, intelligent monsters that improve the taste of their victims 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.
- 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.)
- At least two old Dungeons & Dragons modules had inviting feasts laid out: I6 Ravenloft and X2 Castle Amber:
- The Castle Amber one was dangerous: some items were beneficial, some baneful and some had 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!
- The Ravenloft meal was 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.
- As Changeling: The Lost 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."
- One of the several chambers of Slaanesh in both Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Final Fantasy VI:
- The Phantom Train with Everything Trying to Kill You has a dining car. Despite this though, the food is perfectly fine and will fully heal you. You don't even have to pay! The Phantom Train is packed front-to-back with hostile spirits, but there are plenty of Friendly Ghosts onboard too. The ghosts operating the train are all of the friendly variety.
- After the End, the once-besieged castle of Doma is now completely deserted and devoid of any life. But the beds are still good and comfy! And for free, too. Just don't bring the one guy who used to live here, or his nightmares are going to be quite vivid.
- A variation in Final Fantasy IX when the party celebrates the Festival of the Hunt by eating the feast already laid out for them. Technically there was nothing wrong with the food but Princess Garnet just managed to slip sleeping weed into everyone else's dishes so she could sneak off.
- Also 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).
- In 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Baleful Polymorph.
- 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 found themselves an ancient school build underneath Gallagher Elementary School in order to rescue Leaky Leona. Their trek to rescue her led them to a cafeteria where the food is laid out perfectly. Numbuh 5 is aware that it could be a trap so ordered everyone to not touch the food. But when the message is passed to Numbuh 3, she completely misheard the message and tells Numbuh 2 to "try the onion rings" but Numbuh 2 was already putting food on his tray. A gush of milk from where the food used to be began flooding the entire room, which ironically helps them get out as the only way to the next room is a heighted exit.
- Timon & Pumbaa: In one episode, 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). It's actually a trap set by a duo of anacondas for Fattening the Victim.