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Trap Door

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The trap door is an easily activated door in the floor of the Supervillain Lair, activated by a convenient switch or lever. Though a favorite of the Diabolical Mastermind, it might also be installed in the office of a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Somehow the hero (or minion who has disappointed the Big Bad) will always be sitting or standing exactly where the trap door opens, where it will usually lead to the Death Trap. If generous, the trap door will include a slide, otherwise it's just a drop.

And somehow, the seams around the trap are always invisible before it opens and after it closes. This is easier to do in animation, of course, unless it's given away by a Conspicuously Light Patch.

Mostly spoofed these days, often with a pun so old it creaks; "Nice of you to drop in!" Also often subverted by Trap-Door Fail — having the would-be victim end up standing next to the trapdoor when it opens.

For its intentional use on some game shows, see some of the examples of Eject the Loser.

Compare Pit Trap, which can be triggered by touch as an actual trap and occasionally lead to a Bottomless Pit, Spikes of Doom, or something the victim will not like.

Not to be confused with the series about one of these working in reverse.


    open/close all folders 

  • One of Pepsi's Superbowl ads featured Elton John as a bored king who dropped various performers through a trap door in his throne room into the dungeon if they fail to entertain him. Naturally, the commercial ends with the king getting dropped through it himself by the ad’s hero, a singer played by The X Factor winner Melanie Amaro.
  • A Skittles commercial has three people sitting on a rainbow. The moment one of them starts questioning if the rainbow they're sitting on even exists, the rainbow folds over beneath him, trap door style, causing him to fall.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: In Episode 64, Yelena leads Porco and Pieck into one, claiming that Magath wants to see them. Pieck only realizes too late that it's a trap when Yelena cuts a rope with her knife and they fall into it.
  • Bleach anime #159. Trap doors open up under Renji Abarai and Dondochakka Bilstin, sending them into an arena where they confront the Espada Szayel Aporro Granz.
  • Used in the Chunin Exams in Boruto. ALL of the examinees fall through it. To pass the test, an examinee has to avoid coming in contact with any of the ink pooled at the bottom.
  • Spoofed and used as a Running Gag in Excel♡Saga. Excel is "trapdoor'ed" almost constantly by her employer, Lord Il Palazzo, as punishment for being, well, herself. In one episode, the trap door is implemented as a form of transcontinental transportation.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Team La Verite. In episode 5, Ikyo Suzuki uses a trap door to send Ryuuka down the garbage chute.
  • A variation in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, when attempting to strike Telence T. D'Arby at DIO's mansion, a vortex hole suddenly appears below and pulls Jotaro in along with Joseph and Kakyoin when they tried to get him out.
  • In Kill la Kill, Ryuko is dropped through one by her Stealth Mentor into a hidden Creepy Basement under her house, where she encounters a Clingy MacGuffin.
  • In Last Period, the haunted mansion in episode 3 features one, which takes out all the heroes except Liza.
  • Used straight by Dessler(Desslok) in Space Battleship Yamato. One of the few comedic points of both the original and the remake is a Gamilas general who gets a trap door opened under his feet after annoying Dessler with inappropriate laughter.
  • Time Stop Hero: In the royal palace of Mount Cape's basement, Lovisa tends to drop people down a trap door that leads to the sewers.
  • Yes! Pretty Cure 5 uses this whenever the Nightmare Group wants to get rid of someone. They come back, though.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, when Bandit Keith confronts Pegasus at gunpoint (in the dub, he merely points at Pegasus) in a last-ditch effort to get revenge. Pegasus nonchalantly opens a Trapdoor that dumps Keith into the ocean. In the manga, he uses his MacGuffin to weld the gun to Keith's hand, and have Keith shoot himself. (Keith in the anime, even in the original Japanese, survives the fall.)

    Comic Books 
  • During 52, The Question and Renee Montoya are investigating an abandoned warehouse and Renee suggests looking for a hidden lever or trap door. Question jokes about whether they're in Dungeons & Dragons, but then Renee actually finds a trap door and they fall with Renee landing on top of him.
    Question (dazed): "...elf needs food badly..."
  • Scrooge McDuck, of Disney ducks fame, has one of these in his office. He uses it quite often, be it to get rid of inconvenient salesmen or even of his own relatives.
    • Exactly where people end up changes between stories, or even within the story. On one occasion, the first person dropped landed outside on a mattress with a sign "And stay out!" next to it. The second landed in a bramble-bush. "I warned you!"
    • According to Don Rosa, Scrooge's trapdoor drops people in a tank filled with skunk oil.
    • In one of the stories of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion, Scrooge uses a stage trapdoor to drop Donald out of his dream so he can have some private dream time with Glittering Goldie.
  • In Action Comics #765, set shortly after Brainiac 13 has turned Metropolis into a 64th century city, Lex Luthor is informed that his control panel in the new Lexcorp building's conference room activates trapdoors beneath all the other chairs, leading to an Acid Pool. He decides he loves the future.
  • Mr. Beaver: In issue #2, trap doors are shown to be used in the first leg of the Alpha Academy entrance exam. Richard fell into one in the previous exam, and would have skewered himself on the spikes below if Mr. Beaver hadn't caught his wrist in time.
  • Thorgal, "The Fall of Brek Zarith": In the villain's treasure room, the entire floor is one giant (and very deep) lever-activated trapdoor, as a particularly greedy and careless Viking finds out the hard way.
  • Tintin:
    • In Tintin in America, gangster Bobby Smiles presses a button with his foot to make Tintin fall through the floor and into a room with some Knockout Gas.
    • Later, when Tintin is being given a tour of a meatpacking plant, Smiles arranges for him to lean against a trick guardrail, in the hopes of turning him into Human Resources.
    • In King Ottokar's Sceptre, Tintin is involuntarily ejected from a private plane by the pilot opening a trap door underneath his seat.
  • In Violine, one appears at the front door of the mansion, leading to a Rube Goldberg Device for cleaning visitors. There is also one in the President's room, leading to a moat filled with crocodiles. A third one appears in Muller's Torture Cellar as part of his Death Trap.
  • Wolverine: in the one-shot special "The Jungle Adventure" (written by Walt Simonson, pencilled by Mike Mignola), Wolverine falls through a trap-door while investigating a high-tech lab in the Savage Land, run by Apocalypse who provides the lampshade: "Greetings, Wolverine. You'll forgive me, but I'm required by law to say this, how nice of you to drop in so unexpectedly."
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Tigra Tropica places an incapacitated Steve Trevor on a trap door above a cage full of tigers and sets things up so that if Wonder Woman attacks her Steve will be dropped as tiger food. Diana manages to lasso her and save Steve from the tiger pit, though as the fall woke him he was unsettled by the experience.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Used straight/spoofed in The Castle of Cagliostro; the title castle is rife with secret passages, Portrait Painting Peepholes and of course trap doors.
    • When Lupin pays Clarisse a visit, the Count's men subtly herd him to the room's trap door and drop him like a bad habit.
    • More laughable is one that's an actual trap in the main entrance hall: It's even hooked up to a fake bust that spits out pictures, Polaroid style, of whomever it drops into the dungeon — Poor Zenigata gets to be the film's demonstration. Lupin, thus informed, manages to turn it on Jodo and one of his guards. The Count is merely amused when he sees the picture of them nearly falling in and commends Jodo for confirming that the trap works.
    • On top of those, when Lupin and Zenigata team up to escape from the castle dungeon, they start a large fire as a distraction; this works out beautifully when smoke starts pouring out of all kinds of danged places, many of which all but scream the presence of even more chutes and trap doors.
  • There are two of them in The Emperor's New Groove, both used to comedic effect. One apparently leads to a crocodile pit. The other leads to a random hole on the side of the palace.
  • A Goofy Movie, Bobby sends Principal Mazur down on the stage so Max can do his stunt.
  • Heavy Metal segment "Captain Sternn". After the title character pays Hannover Fiste the 35,000 zulaks, he pulls a lever that drops Fiste out of the space station and out of orbit, causing him to burn up on re-entry.
  • The Man Called Flintstone, the Green Goose uses one on Barney Rubble. Moments later, Fred Flintstone, unaware that it's there, falls into it as well.
  • In Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, Pete drops a few of his minions down "The Pit", followed by the required scream fading out... only to subvert it when the short one stands up on the floor to reveal that it's roughly two feet deep. They are later seen playing poker inside and hop out when Pete needs them again.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: Right before the finals of the Battle of the Bands, Trixie and her two bandmates trap the Rainbooms under the stage by pulling a lever and opening a trap door right under their feet.
  • In Robots, Ratchet tells his employees he doesn't wanna hear another word about former head of the company Bigweld:
    Bigweld: [on TV] So remember: whether a bot is made up of old parts, new parts or spare parts, you can shine no matter what yo—
    Ratchet: My goodness. What a remarkable legacy. Concern for the common robot. You don't come across old-fashioned values like that anymore, friends. And for good reason. THERE'S NO MONEY IN IT! Hello? Memo to Bigweld! We're not a charity! That's why old Fat-Face no longer sits in the Big Chair. He's a relic! So, I don't wanna hear another "Where's Bigweld?" [imitates baby whining]
    Loud-mouthed Chairman: We'll see him next month at the Bigweld Ball! He always goes to that!
    [Ratchet presses a button on a remote; a trapdoor appears below the chairman, and he falls into the hole]
  • Superman Theatrical Cartoons: In one early short, Superman can't fly yet and winds up dropped down a trapdoor. Of course, he's still stronger than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound...
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Fix-It Felix Jr. is captured by King Candy via a handy hole under the doormat.
  • Yellow Submarine. After they pass through the Sea of Science a creature drops into the sub. Ringo pushes a button and a door opens under the creature, dropping it out into the Sea of Monsters.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played with in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. During his introduction, Doctor Evil sends numerous minions into fiery pits with the push of a button, but when he reoccupies the Evil Lair thirty years later, the mechanisms are a bit rusty and the goon he incinerates is Not Quite Dead. Although, same said henchman survived a fall off a cliff with two broken legs and a bear mauling him at the end credits, so you can't blame it on the mechanisms themselves.
    Mook: I'm still alive, but I'm very badly burned.
  • The vampire superhero film Blade (1998) had a character named Dr. Karen Jensen fall down into a trap chute near the end of the film, where she found and killed her former research partner (who had been turned into a vampire slave), but climbed back out of the chute using an old bone for leverage.
  • Cadaver (2020): In one scene, Leonora falls into the catacombs below the hotel rooms when she presses a button on a painting, opening up a trap door right below her feet.
  • Carnival Night: Ogurtsov the humorless killjoy tries to stop the New Year's show, striding onto the stage during a big musical number and attempting to call a halt to the proceedings. He conveniently steps right onto the stage trap door, which Grisha activates, sending Ogurtsov to the basement while the audience howls with laughter.
  • The Gray Man (2022). Sierra Six goes to buy a counterfeit passport, not knowing there's a huge price on his head. While taking his photograph, the forger opens a trapdoor beneath him. Fortunately, he's able to break out just when the Big Bad and his mooks have turned up to kill him.
  • Havenhurst: There are plenty of trapdoors throughout the building, for dropping "evicted" tenants into the Torture Cellar.
  • Ringo Starr falls through at least two trapdoors in Help! One of them is in a pub and uses a beer glass (glued to its coaster) as a switch; fortunately for those trying to rescue Ringo, its seams are just visible. Another one is inside the area covered by an electrified cage somewhere in the Bahamas...
  • James Bond:
    • You Only Live Twice. Bond goes chasing after Aki, only to find her waiting for him in a subway corridor. He takes a cautious step forward and the floor tilts beneath him, sending Bond down a slide that dumps him into a couch in front of Japanese Secret Service chief Tiger Tanaka. A more lethal version is used by the Big Bad, who has a bridge that drops you into a pool of piranhas.
    • In The Spy Who Loved Me, Carl Stromberg has a trapdoor in his elevator that he uses to drop his treacherous secretary into a Shark Pool. He sends the elevator for Bond later in the movie, only to find Bond straddling the walls when the elevator doors open.
    • In an earlier film Diamonds Are Forever, Bond suspects the same trick and straddles the elevator walls, only to be felled by Knockout Gas instead.
    • Live and Let Die. Bond takes a seat in a booth at a restaurant owned by Mr. Big and tries to bribe the waiter for information only for his booth to rotate into the wall, placing him in Mr. Big's secret lair. The waiter silently pockets the money, sips on Bond's drink and goes back to work. Bond visits a similar restaurant later in the movie and is offered a booth against the wall which he pointedly refuses, taking a seat close to the stage. This time Bond finds himself descending through the floor to end up in front of Mr. Big again, who makes the "Thanks for dropping in" joke.
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Jabba the Hutt uses one to have Luke Skywalker drop in on his pet rancor. Unique in that you DO see that he's standing on some kind of grille, and earlier Jabba's minions made sure Luke was standing on the middle of it. C-3PO desperately tries to warn Luke about it, to no avail.
  • Kim Jong-Il had one in Team America: World Police. It's not outside the realms of possibility that this is Truth in Television. North Korea is that kind of country.
  • In one segment of the Walt Disney Presents episode "Mars and Beyond", the Martian leader pulls a rope and a trap door opens under the kidnapped heroine.
  • Labyrinth does this three times. First is when she gets past the guards with the riddle and says that the Labyrinth is "a piece of cake", the second is when Ludo is whisked right to the Bog of Eternal Stench, and then when Sarah gives Hoggle a kiss.
  • D.E.B.S. Lucy installs one inside a bank vault to bring Amy to her.
  • Justified Trope in the climax of Charade which takes place in an empty theatre. As the villain is about to shoot the heroine, Cary Grant's character activates a stage trap and he falls through to his death.
  • Wild Wild West. Dr. Loveless has one installed on the command deck of his giant mechanical spider. He uses it to drop Jim West down to the engine deck for a "whuppin'".
  • In Sinbad of the Seven Seas, Sinbad is dropped into a pit with snakes in it by Jaffar, the wizard of all that is evil. You know him, don't you?
  • Played with a couple of times in early Harold Lloyd short Ask Father. Harold is trying to get into his girlfriend's father's office to ask for her hand, but the father has some radical security measures. The first is a variation on this trope, a hidden conveyor belt that sends Harold zooming out of the office. Then when Harold gets back in a played-straight Trap Door sends him falling down a chute and out of the building into the alley.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: At the tail end of her "I Want" Song, Veruca is standing on a chute which opens up and sends her down a chute. Wonka tells her father that it goes to the incinerator.
  • Theatre of Death: The stage in the theatre has a trap door that is use to take a spear thrust during the voodoo sketch to make it look as if the actress has been stabbed. Discussed during rehearsal, it becomes a Chekhov's Gun during the climax.
  • In Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend, there is a trapdoor in Sanders' office concealing an old well. Sanders uses it as a trap in an attempt to dispose of Devlin, but it ends up being his henchman Walters who falls to his death instead.
  • In Once Upon a Spy, Marcus Valorium has one installed in the centre of the floor of his observatory headquarters. After first telling Chenault to take a step to the right, he activates it to drop Tannehill into his elaborate underground maze for the game of 'cat and canary'. Later, Chenault activates it to all himself and Dr. Webster to escape by dropping into the maze.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005). Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent stand in the Vogon airlock while klaxons sound, facing the standard giant, ominous-looking space door, waiting for it to open and send them to their doom. Nothing happens. Then a tiny and inconspicuous Trapdoor opens under them instead.
  • Michael from My Science Project is exploring a government aircraft boneyard when he falls through a trapdoor into an abandoned fallout shelter. He finds the time warp device there.
  • In Death Rides a Horse, Walcott has one in front of his desk for when deals go wrong. Ryan falls victim to it.
  • Winterskin: There's a door on the floor of Agnes' cabin that leads to the basement. John Carver had one in his house too.
  • Return to Oz: This effect is invoked when Dorothy assertively tells the Nome King that she is there with her army, to conquer him, and force him to restore the Emerald City. The Nome King chuckles, and the ground opens up, causing Dorothy (and later her friends) to fall into the King's vast underground dominion.

  • L. Frank Baum used this trope a few times in his Land of Oz.
    • For instance, Tik-Tok in Oz features a trapdoor used by the Big Bad over a hole so deep it goes to the other side of the world.
    • Rinkitink in Oz contains a subversion, where the villain opens a trap door under one of the heroes, but, unknown to the villain, the hero has an artifact that protects him from harm, so he floats over the gap instead of falling through.
    • Ruth Plumly Thompson used trapdoors frequently in her continuation of the Oz series. One notable example is in The Silver Princess in Oz.
    • The Muppet Wizard of Oz has the Wizard use a trapdoor to send the heroes out of his throneroom. The Muppet characters all fall through, but Dorothy is standing in the wrong place, and has to be asked to jump.
    • Also used in the stage version of Wicked; saying more would spoil.
  • Used by Dickens in Oliver Twist. Mr and Mrs Bumble go to meet Monks in a derelict warehouse overhanging a river. After their conversation Monks reveals that they'd been sitting on a trapdoor over the millrace. "I could have let you down quietly enough when you were seated over it, if that had been my game." He didn't, but he'd clearly planned for the possibility.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Slithering Shadow," Conan the Barbarian runs from soldiers into a woman's room. She uses this on him.
  • In Live and Let Die, one of Mr. Big's men has a trap door in his fish warehouse over a shark enclosure that he gets Felix Leiter to fall through - later on, he does so himself in a fight with Bond. The basic elements of this scene are used in the movie Licence to Kill.
  • Max & the Midknights: In chapter 13, when the Midknights, Sir Budrick, and Sedgewick confront Knothead in the castle, he offers to let them join him. Max says she'd rather die, to which Knothead replies by saying "Have it your way!", and pulls a lever, opening up a trap door beneath them.
  • In the K.J. Parker short story "I Met a Man Who Wasn't There", the narrating Villain Protagonist is a Boxed Crook police spy, and has a carpenter build a trap door built under the place in which a suspect sits, as a safety measure should a suspect try to attack him. Unfortunately, the first person he tries it on has magical powers including levitation.
  • The levitation version is also used in Swellhead. In that case the hero deliberately sits on the trapdoor in order to shake the confidence of the villain.
  • When Fandorin sits down to confront the Big Bad at the end of She Lover of Death, he notes that the heavy chair on a heavy rug that he sits down on won't move. That's because it's sitting on top of a Trap Door that the villain later triggers, sending Fandorin plunging into a death trap.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A variant of this appeared on Survivor :Exile Island. It was an immunity challenge where each competitor knelt on a platform above the ocean. If they were unable to hold onto the ropes that held the weights, the trapdoor would open and drop them into the drink.
  • Spoofed in a segment from That Mitchell and Webb Look where the architect working for the Evil Genius has built the trap door compliant to safety requirements. That is, with a red light, an announcement warning to clear the area, and yellow signs. The guy in the chair escapes.
    "Trap door? Is there a trap door?"
  • Spoofed in Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, when the Master accidentally falls down the same trap door three times. The journey back up takes three hundred and twelve years apiece, though he re-appears mere moments later due to Time Travel.
  • Get Smart
    • Affectionately parodied in a scene where Maxwell Smart and 99 are breaking into the villain's lair.
      Smart: (picking the lock) We'll be alright as long as this door isn't connected to a... to a...
      99: To a what, Max?
      (they fall through a trapdoor, which drops them into two chairs directly in front of the villain)
      Smart: Trapdoor.
      Villain: Mr Smart, nice of you to...
      Smart & Villain: (simultaneously) Drop in, yes...
    • In "The Groovy Guru", Max and 99 go in undercover only to find the eponymous Guru is expecting them due to a listening device he had planted.
      Max: The old "bug in a rug" trick, and we fell for it!
      Guru: You are about to fall for it again. (trapdoor opens under their feet)
  • MacGyver (1985): In "Halloween Knights", Murdoc uses a trap door to drop Mac into a cage.
  • Played straight in the second season The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Bat Cave Affair".
  • The Grand Master in M.I. High has one in his office for disposing of annoying underlings. It's not clear exactly what happens to those who fall through it, but the offscreen voice of one victim was heard complaining that it was uncomfortably warm in the cellar.
  • The Merchant Banker in Monty Python's Flying Circus gets rid of a charity collector this way (but keeps his collecting tin).
  • The "Sock It To Me" bits on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In frequently showed a character (usually Judy Carne) falling through a trap door.
  • Used as the gimmick for the game show Russian Roulette, where contestants are eliminated by dropping through the door they're required to stand on (although, as the show's name suggests, whether or not a contestant is eliminated is a random process). To make the gimmick's usage even more Anvilicious, there's a lever to activate the Trapdoor in front of each player, essentially forcing them to eliminate themselves in this manner. Another Anvilicious aspect was the fact that the platform was designed to look like the chamber of a revolver, with the six contestants as the "bullets".
  • One Saturday Night Live parody commercial was for a trap-door company. It began with scenes of malfunctioning trap-doors, complete with the voiceover, "Don't you hate it when this happens to you?"
  • The Syfy game show Total Blackout uses trap doors in a slightly different way. After each round, the remaining contestants stand in front of trap doors and, on Jaleel White's command, are told to jump onto them. The contestant with the least amount of points in the round drops out of the game, while the other contestants' doors stay shut.
  • In the Thunderbirds episode "Move and you're dead", Virgil paints a surrealist picture of Alan, who is less than amused. By way of retaliation, Alan presses a button which causes Virgil and Scott to descend rapidly through the floor.
  • On NBC's short-lived game show, Who's Still Standing?, one contestant (the "Hero") stands on a trap door on the center of the stage and faces off against a circle of 10 competitors also standing on trap doors (the "Strangers") in a series of trivia duels. Eliminated contestants drop 10 feet into a padded room below the stage. If the Hero decides to walk away at one point and keep their winnings, they have the option of either walking out of the studio or by dropping through the floor. And at the end of each episode, Ben Bailey (of Cash Cab fame), also drops through the Hero's trap door.


    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Dilbert, Dogbert recommends trap doors as a method of disposing of disgruntled employees who take advantage of "open door" policies. One strip shows him activating one from a desk, and another has him presenting one that drops the employee into rush-hour traffic to the Pointy-Haired Boss, who's dumb enough to fall into it himself.
  • One The Far Side strip had a family visiting a store that sells trap-doors, and their son has just fallen through one of them, with the salesman assuring them the kid's safe in the maintenance department and ushering them onto the next model.


  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Sneeky Peepers", Walter Denton installs a trap door next to a copy of Auguste Rodin's "The Kiss", mistakenly ordered for Madison High and covered with a tarp until it can be returned. Sneaking to take a peep, Mr. Conklin, Miss Brooks, Mr. Boynton, Mr. Stone and Walter Denton himself fall thought the trapdoor into a vacant (and locked) storage room in the basement

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pit traps, with or without accompanying trap doors, are among the more popular traps in role playing games, such as HeroQuest.

  • Many theaters are equipped with one or more trapdoors in the stage to aid getting a character onto or off the stage without it being clear where they came from, and occasionally as a way to bring in set pieces. (Unsurprisingly, as these are designed to reliably function as floor when not in use, they tend to be neither remotely nor quickly openable.)
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has a trap door built into the barber chair that often becomes a memorable part of every production. Allegedly the real Sweeney Todd used this as a method of killing rather than body disposal, as the victim would break their neck in the fall, which made less mess than a Slashed Throat.
  • The Phantom of the Opera uses a fair number of trap doors - for the candle holders to rise up during the trip to the Phantom's lair, or for Raoul to fall through when he jumps from the bridge into the lake. Naturally, there have been accidents: Sierra Boggess and Sarah Brightman both had all of the trap doors opening onstage. Brightman stood very still and waited for rescue, Boggess fell down a door and was only held back thanks to her puffy dress (although the show had to be stopped so she could be taken to hospital because she hit the edge of the door and broke some teeth). Davis Gaines missed the trapdoor and broke his ankle, so Raoul was on his knees for the rest of the show.

    Video Games 
  • The use of a trap door goes all the way back to Interactive Fiction text adventures of the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Zork/Dungeon that slams behind the player if the step down through it.
  • Several of these send Lan and the other net-battlers from the Netopia Castle meeting room into the dungeon in ''Mega Man Battle Network 2'. And then another one on the roof for Princess Pride after KnightMan is beaten.
  • Both played straight and inverted in Chrono Trigger. First, Crono and team are dropped down at least one trap door. Later in the game, Crono and team are the ones who force a villain down a trapdoor (in his own lair, no less). This becomes a running gag, as the protagonists use this against the same villain again, and can use this against mooks at several points in the game.
  • The Mill levels in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! feature trapdoors which buckle open when jumped upon. Sometimes these are locked and the monkeys have to unlock them first before proceeding trough them.
  • Double Switch. A number of the traps are essentially this, but some of them are a little more complex than that.
  • In certain spaces of the Pachisi tracks in the versions of Dragon Quest III that feature them, ending your run then and there.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: one remote Dwemer ruin high in the mountains is just a single room with a pedestal in the middle. When you touch it, a security system fires up, scans you for a few moments, and then the floor below you flips over and dumps you down the longest single drop in the entire game. You land in some Soft Water, though, and have to fight your way through some caves to get back to the outside world.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy IV, when Cecil and the party try to reclaim the seven crystals after defeating Rubicante, they fall into a trap door, and their attempt has become moot, forcing them to escape. Edge later uses it to his advantage in The After Years when he and the Elban Four were out matched against the Mysterious Girl. He leads then into the exact same spot... and as it activates, the Eblan Four took time to register the trap door. Edge drops calmly, while they flail momentarily before falling.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, after the crossdressing incident, Don Corneo uses a trapdoor to dump Cloud and friends into the Midgar sewers.
    • There's a Trapdoor in Castle Oztroja that you'll find when playing Final Fantasy XI. It's right in front of a locked door that has a two switches in front of it. One opens the door, the other springs the trap. It changes randomly each game day. It's possible to hit the switch and run away before you fall down, but if you don't know that, this can be annoying(Or deadly, if you're low enough in level).
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails:
  • In Les Manley in: Search for the King, the boss will drop you down a Trapdoor if you try to steal the keys while he's watching, and you can Have a Nice Death.
  • Used by you in Mastermind World Conquerer to dispose of your henchmen whose services are no longer needed.
  • Mega Man 8: In Clown Man's stage, the skull blocks have ones that send you straight down through them when triggered by the bell-ringers in the background.
  • There's a number of these in a storage area in Metal Gear Solid. They're pressure-activated, and you can hear them buckle just before they open. If Snake's too slow to get off them, he dies.
  • Minecraft lets the player construct trapdoors out of either wood or iron; normally the wood versions are just doors that can be placed on floors or ceilings, but when hooked up to a Redstone signal they can function in the more traditional capacity.
  • Mother 3: After Porky finishes his monologue, Lucas and the others are dropped from the 100th floor of the building all the way to the Final Dungeon.
  • NetHack. "A trap door opens up under you." Usually preceding some kind of death.
  • Night Trap has this, and many other traps, and manipulating them is an essential part of the gameplay.
  • Ryu Hayabusa is constantly punked by such pitfalls in the Ninja Gaiden games for the NES.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: At Freeway 42, Ann is dropped through one by the opposing Underground City tribe to fight their red beasts. Later on at The Consortium's research facility, she falls into another one when she's pitted against The Varanus.
  • A variation of this is present in Overlord II, in which the Villain Protagonist proceeds to magically activate a hole underneath the Too Dumb to Live civilians who add unreasonable demands to their notifications of rebellions in his village (borrowing the Minions, becoming Mayor of a town of his, borrowing his mistress, taking his Evil Chancellor in as a pet) and dumps them into the sea of Lava at the bottom of his Netherworld. It's ineffective when used on Rose however due to the character's magical hovering.
  • Pokémon Gold and Silver: The Ruins of Alph have these, triggered by completing each one of its puzzles and sending you inside the ruins proper.
  • The Power Bomberman stage High Life has trap doors that open when a switch on the wall is activated (which is done by exploding a bomb next to it). Falling into these leads to a One-Hit Kill. One of the variants is even designed like a dining room, with the trap doors located in front of the chairs.
  • In the SNES adaptation of Prince of Persia, Jaffar drops you down a trap door after the Boss Rush in the penultimate level.
  • Resident Evil 4:
    • A variation: Ashley panics and runs down a narrow hallway, avoiding spike traps along the way, before finally stopping to catch her breath, leaning against a dead end. Steel bindings promptly pop out of the wall to catch her, then the wall flips around, taking Ashley with it. This trap would be absolutely useless unless someone of Ashley's build was standing at that exact spot.
    • Salazar attempts to kill Leon with one of these by dropping him into a spike pit. Leon responds by using a grappling hook attached to his utility belt to latch onto a tiny ledge on the wall.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario 64: You have 8 Power Stars, so that you can open the first door with the big Star on it. Upon opening it, you run towards the painting with Princess Peach's face on it. Suddenly, it morphs into Bowser's face, and as you jump towards it, you run into an invisible wall... and just as you land, you start falling again. Bowser had installed a trapdoor to the Dark World in that very room anticipating you'd go for the painting in there!
    Bowser: Bwa ha ha ha! You've stepped right into my trap, just as I knew you would! I warn you, "Friend", watch your step!
    • In Paper Mario 64, this happens a couple of times. The first time is in the Koopa Bros. Fortress. When you enter one room, you (the player, not Mario) see the trap door being installed under a question block. Yes, you have to hit it. It drops you into a dungeon where Mario meets his next party member. The second time, as a Bowser-face shaped door in Bowser's castle drops you into a jail the first time you try to go through.
    • Wario World: Most rooms that aren't on the main path are accessed through trap doors. Bonus rooms tend to have either weak, wooden x-marked doors that Wario can ground pound through, or tougher metal doors that he needs to Piledrive something onto to open. Level bosses are accessed through octagonal trap doors that are blocked by the Stone Barrier.
  • Becomes a Running Gag in Tales of Symphonia: If there is a trap door, you can be sure that Sheena will fall into it.
  • In Tekken 5, Panda's ending involves her dropping Kuma down a trap door when he comes into her office, followed by falling through herself when Xiaoyu gets curious about the Big Red Button on Panda's desk.
    • Similarly in Kuma's ending, Kuma does this to Heihachi, who has come to try and reclaim control of the Mishima Zaibatsu, only for Heihachi to somehow climb back up and press another button that opens a trapdoor underneath Kuma.
  • Tomb Raider is full of these, whether sprung by Lara's doing or her stumbling into them. The latter usually has instant death traps such as spikes. A few others have to be opened or stumbled upon in order to proceed.
  • In Ultima V, the Sceptre of Lord British is being guarded by all three of the Shadowlords and a demon in their earthly fortress of Shadowkeep. Getting around that in bad enough. However, in addition, there are trap doors in the floor all around the sceptre itself; which leads to a lava pit and an instant Total Party Kill. If you're paying attention, you might notice the small dot in the floor that is usually only present for secret doors in the walls.

    Web Animation 
  • In Mystery Skulls Animated after Arthur grabs Mystery and jumps into Vivi's arms in reaction to the paintings around them coming to life one of the paintings smirks and tugs on a pull-string, dropping the trio through the hidden trap door they were standing on.


    Web Original 
  • Burnie Burns had a Henckman Bros. model 607 trap door installed in his office in Downstairs that he'd use to drop employees into the restaurant on the floor below. He also has one in the ceiling in the same spot that drops a 16 ton anvil.
  • Flander's Company: Hippolyte Kurtzmann has one in front of his desk in the "Super Pouvoir" music video, to get rid quickly of pesky supervillain candidates. Not seen in the series proper, though.
  • Random Assault: Sometimes, a host will fall down a trap door and won't be able to get out until their internet or Skype works aga-I MEAN until they climb out.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Young Gulliver episode "The Dark Sleep". One is used on Gulliver while he's in the witch's castle.
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik has used a few of these. Coconuts is a regular victim of one, sometimes multiple times in the same episode. The episode, "Boogey-Mania" had a mobile trap door with Hammerspace inside it.
  • Used twice in American Dad! when George W. Bush comes to their house for dinner. When Haley tries to confront him about his policies, Stan causes her to fall through a trapdoor. The second time, she puts her feet on the sides of the trapdoor, but then he widens the trapdoor with another button, causing her to fall in again.
    • In another episode, Haley and Jeff are playing an MMORPG when they come across a place called "Castle Roodpart". Jeff starts to puzzle over its meaning within the game's lore when Haley interrupts with "Crap, it's 'Trapdoor' spelled backwards." No points for guessing what happens next.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has an improvised version in the finale. When Sokka, Toph and Suki hijack one of the Fire Nation's airships, they trick the crew into doing to the bomb bay on the excuse of holding a birthday party (even funnier because it was someone's birthday that day after all). Then they open the hatches and dump everyone in the ocean.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Poison Ivy keeps one in her debut episode "Pretty Poison." Batman infiltrates Pamela Isley's privately owned greenhouse, aiming to secure an antidote for her lipstick to save Harvey Dent. While running along the stoney pathway he accidentally steps on a trapdoor, nearly dropping into a pit of huge, razor sharp cacti.
  • Defenders of the Earth includes an inversion of this trope. Monitor's security system includes a trap door which opens to reveal an energy mesh which instantly incinerates anything which touches it. This trap is first deployed onscreen when Ming takes control of Dynak-X and turns her against the Defenders. Mandrake nearly falls to his death when the rope he and three of his fellow Defenders are using to cross the pit over the energy mesh breaks, but Lothar pulls him up just in time.
  • In the first opening sequence to Dennis the Menace, Dennis and Joey fall through a trap door in a fun house which sends them onto a mine cart ride.
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • In the first episode Scrooge uses one to cheer himself up:
      Solicitor: Mr. McDuck, would you like to tip to the Retired Hand Hawkers of America?
      Scrooge: No! (pushes button)
      Solicitor: Ugh! (falls down while Scrooge laughs)
    • The first time Scrooge met Fenton Crackshell, he dropped him down a trapdoor. Fenton's persistent, though.
  • DuckTales (2017): In "Happy Birthday, Doofus Drake", Doofus has trap doors all over the place, sending those who displease him into his "honey bin" (which is also full of bees).
  • Spoofed in an episode of Family Guy, when Mayor Adam West tries to drop a protesting Peter through a trap door, except he's wider than the door and gets stuck. (The mayor apologises, "My malcontents are usually a lot skinnier.")
  • Filmation:
    • In the New Adventures of Batman, Batman and Robin are in a house owned by the Joker that has many trapdoors. They enter one room so equipped and Batman realizes that, although unaware of the exact danger, they have to exit the room now. As they race for a door, Joker starts opening trapdoors throughout the floor, but the Dynamic Duo manages to dodge them all. Unfortunately, the Joker is ready for that too, and suddenly the entire floor surface reveals itself to be a massive trapdoor itself and the Duo are captured.
    • Justice League episode "Bad Day on Black Mountain". After Mastermind teleports Superman to his lair, he activates a trap door under him and drops him into a cell lined with kryptonite.
  • In Frosty Returns Mr.Twitchell's latest product is an aerosol spray called Summer Wheeze that when sprayed at snow causes it to instantly melt. When he is showing it off to the town council one of the trustee objects to it on the grounds of environmental concerns. Twitchell then responds by having his pet cat Bones press a button on the table which sends said trustee down a trapdoor before turning to the clearly scared remaining council members and asking them, "Any other objections?"
  • Futurama. Zapp Brannigan shows you don't need a Drop Ship to invade a planet.
    Captain Zapp Brannigan: As you know, the key to victory is the element of surprise. [presses Big Red Button] Surprise!
    [bay doors open under soldiers, dumping them onto the planet below.]
  • G.I. Joe:
  • Parodied in Harley Quinn (2019) when the Joker is supervising the construction of his Supervillain Lair and Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs.
    Joker: I need a permit for a trapdoor? The whole point is no-one is supposed to know about it! Especially the City!
  • The Herculoids:
    • "Sarko the Arkman". Used by the title character to capture Dorno, Tundro and Gleep.
    • "The Antidote". The Spider Men ruler pushes a button to open one under Dorno.
  • Naturally, Lucius uses one of these on Jimmy Two-Shoes. He uses it to get rid of Samy's stuff, but it only takes one glare for Samy to drop himself down.
  • Jonny Quest episode "Dragons of Ashida". The title character has a servant pull a rope, which drops the floor out from under the Quest party.
  • Common in Kim Possible:
    • The first thing Shego does "in person" (after having appeared only in security footage) is walk into Drakken's lair, drop through a trapdoor into a waiting chair, and ask Drakken, "Ever considered a normal door?"
    • Another episode features a gag where the bad guy used said devices on mooks that failed him. As the mooks begin to wise up and not sit in the rigged chair, he opens another door that the mooks were standing on. One instance even has said bad guy directing his mooks to the point before pressing the button.
  • On the Looney Tunes short "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery", Daffy (as detective Duck Twacy) finds the Gangster's Hideout and spots a welcome mat on the front door conveniently labeled "Trap Door". Daff catches on immediately, steps to one side of the door and rings the bell, when a trap door opens up underneath him and sends him to the basement.
    • In "The Jet Cage," this is how Tweety uses the hatch on his flying birdcage to dispose of Sylvester when it returns to flight.
    • A trap door is how Duck Dodgers gets rid of his rampaging robot copies in "Attack of the Drones" after giving them fake awards. When several drones later get stuck, he has to shove them down the trap door himself.
  • In the always unintentionally awesome Mister T cartoon, there was an episode where a big New York Chinese restaurant has one of these near the door, with a big lever by the cash register. Naturally, it's there so that at one point it can swallow up our heroes as they try to flee, but you really have to wonder why it's there. To echo the Agony Booth recap, do they have that big a problem with customers who dine and dash? (Check it out here.) Also, it opens on a hundred-foot drop into a warehouse full of stolen merchandise, which ... makes you wonder about the thinking behind this particular criminal syndicate. Not to mention the architecture of New York's Chinatown restaurants.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Castle Mane-ia", the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters has trap doors which are activated by pressing a pipe organ's keys.
  • An old Popeye cartoon "The Dance Contest" has judge Wimpy dropping couples through trap doors if they're not good enough - or if they don't have any mustard handy.
  • Used plenty of times in Scooby-Doo. Daphne had a talent for finding them and getting stuck at the bottom...
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: In "System Failure", Entrapta has one equipped at the front entrance to her castle. It just leads to a cage and not any dangerous situation.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power:
    • Hordak had one to drop his hordsmen into. On the rare occasion one of them would avoid it, another trap would get them, some of which were far less pleasant. The mooks couldn't see it, since the whole throne room was paved in squares, and the danger spot was also the most respectful place to stand.
    • At one point, Mantenna jumped off the trapdoor to the side. The neighboring tile tipped up and slid him down into the hole anyway.
  • The Simpsons: Mr. Burns has a trapdoor in his office, which he uses to get rid of anyone who bugs him. It's been spoofed a number of ways over the years, including Homer getting stuck due to his weight, or standing in the wrong position (and jumping down the hole when Burns asks him to), or the trap having been removed for safety violations. In one memorable instance when the kids of Springfield Elementary came asking for donations, Burns dumped them out...only for them to fall back into the room through the ceiling.
    Mr. Burns: Oh, it's doing that thing again!
    • Then there's the Buzz Cola Trap Door: Fall into the flavor hole!
  • Star Wars Resistance:
    • Short "When Thieves Drop By" reveals that Flix and Orka have a trapdoor installed at the front of their shop, the Office of Acquisitions, for the purposes of dropping would-be thieves down it. Brothers and criminals Narb and Nod both separately fall victim to it.
    • "Descent": When Kaz, Yeager, Neeku and CB-23 are cornered by stormtroopers in the maintenance tunnels, they get rescued when the Chelidae, alerted to their predicament, open up a trapdoor they're standing on.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, "Lair of Grievous": Once Grievous gets to his control center he opens a trap door underneath the heroes that sends one of the clone troopers to a fiery death and nearly results in Commander Fil's death, though he and the Jedi react quickly enough to save him from the lava pit the door leads to.
  • Steven Universe: In "Friend Ship", lures them to an old gem space ship whose internal defenses she turns against them. She then pulls a smaller scale trap by putting a Hologram of herself on top of a Trap Door, which Pearl keeps attacking even after realizing is fake just before she and Garnet are dropped into a pit.
  • Superfriends:
    • One episode used a version of the above New Adventures of Batman trick, with the Riddler setting the trap. The Dynamic Duo find themselves in a room with a plainly-visible trap-door built into the floor, and just as Batman comments how obvious the trap is, the entire floor except the "door" falls away.
    • In "The Fairy Tale of Doom", several members of the Legion of Doom trap Black Vulcan, Green Lantern, Batman, and Robin in a trap door even though 1)two of them can fly and the other two carry grapple ropes as standard equipment and 2)they're in the Hall of Justice and ought to know where the trap doors are.
  • The Technodrome in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) has a circular, pizza-like one in the main control room. In one episode, Leonardo activates it with a control panel when Bebop and Rocksteady are standing on it.
  • Special mention goes to The Trap Door, which is basically this in reverse. Instead of the heroes falling in, the bad things come out.
  • In Visionaries, Darkstorm has several lever-operated trap doors in his throne room. However, the episode "Honor Among Thieves" sees him (courtesy of Ectar) fall into one of these traps.
  • Young Samson and Goliath episode "Operation Peril". After Samson and Goliath reach the ship's control room, the Big Bad pushes a button and the floor slides open underneath them and they fall into a containment area.

    Real Life 
  • In the 19th century practice of "Shanghaiing" (kidnapping people to serve as sailors), one method of doing this was to trick people into standing on a trapdoor in a bar, sometimes lured there by a pretty woman; the trapdoor would then open, so they would fall into the basement below. This happened in Portland, Oregon.
  • Some unused buttons on church organ consoles are jokingly labelled "pulpit trapdoor".


Video Example(s):


China Jones

Daffy Duck as China Jones tries to escape the wrath of a criminal, but falls for a fake trapdoor trick that activates a real one.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / TrapDoor

Media sources: