A sneaky way to make your opponent lose their balance and fall is to stretch a cord across their path and wait until they run into it. Usually the cord is placed at a low angle to prevent the trap from being discovered.
This happens a lot in cartoons, particularly old ones where it's Played for Laughs but it can also be used as a Death Trap in more serious works.
Compare Booby Trap where a rope is used to trigger some kind of deadly mechanism. See Hobbling the Giant when a giant character is being incapacitated by restricting their movement. Also see Banana Peel, Slippery Skid, and Pulling the Rug Out for other ways to topple an opponent.
Don't Try This at Home, even as a prank. A fall can very easily break someone's head or neck if they land the wrong way.
- One episode of Lamput has Lamput stretch himself into a shape similar to a rope or tripwire to make Fat Doc trip.
- Fruits Basket has a scene where Hatsuharu Sohma wants to speak with Kyo Sohma, who is currently running a marathon. He stops him by holding a piece of string across the race path and trips him.
Hatsuharu: [addressing the audience] By the way, what I just did was extremely dangerous, and had this been anyone other than Kyo they would've been seriously hurt, so Don't Try This at Home.
Kyo: DON'T TRY IT HERE! Who are you even talking to?!
- In Kemono Jihen, Shiki draws out a line of silk to trip Kabane on his way to the bath to interrogate him. It's so sticky that it would be impossible for Kabane to free himself without tearing the skin off. But given that he Feels No Pain and has a powerful Healing Factor, he does just that, freaking Shiki out.
- Wonder Woman Vol 1: Hypnota sets off a tripwire on an iced-over lake as a death trap, and when Diana trips over it she's sent through the thin ice.
- A variant occurs in Agreement and Disputation. Watson trips a trio of petty crooks by tossing his cane into the legs of the foremost, causing him to fall. The others can't adjust in time and in turn trip over him.
- The Bolt Chronicles: In "The Murder Mystery," Bolt and his animal accomplices kill the Director using this technique in part. They first make a crashing sound in the man's laundry room as a distraction. When he goes to investigate, he trips over a rope strung across the room's entryway and falls onto a letter opener affixed to the floor.
- Fun and Fancy Free: During the climax of Mickey and the Beanstalk, Mickey uses a vine to trip Willie the Giant while he and his friends escape with the Magic Harp.
- The Jungle Book: When Baloo tries to save Mowgli from being kidnapped by monkeys, two monkeys stretch a vine to trip him and make him fall down a cliff.
- In The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure, Littlefoot and Chomper pull the opposite ends of the vine to trip the sharptooth.
- In The Rescuers, Bernard and Bianca stretch a rope across the door sill which makes Madame Medusa trip as she backs out of the room.
- In Tangled, Pascal quickly makes use of Rapunzel's cut hair as an improvised trip-line against Gothel while she's distraught over her rapid aging. This sends Gothel plummeting out the tower window.
- In the horror film The Babadook, Samuel trips his possessed mother this way when she is on the stairs leading to the basement where he was hiding. He stretches the rope, she trips and hits her head on a wall which makes her dizzy and an easy target for Samuel to knock her out.
- In Dadnapped, Merv is finally defeated when Maurice and Skunk trip him into a pile of sludge, using a string of floss in his path.
- The Field Guide to Evil: In "Beware the Melonheads", Chris trips over a tripwire set by the Melonheads and slams his head into a rock: leaving him easy prey for the cannibal children.
- In Home Alone, Kevin makes one of the invaders trip over a rope taut across the upper corridor.
- Hudson Hawk. During the theft of the Sforza (horse statue), two guards go after Eddie and Tommy. Tommy runs to one side and pulls on a rope, causing the guards to trip on it and fall down.
- A Quiet Place Part II: As Evelyn carefully eases her way through a gap in a fence, taking care not to make any sound, she fails to see the trip wire stretched across the gap, set up to rattle glass bottles. Knowing the noise will attract the monsters, she has one word to the kids: "Run"
- The Howard Hawks classic Western Rio Bravo uses this to take down Sheriff John T. Chance to set up the final act. As the Mook who sets it tells Chance, once the latter recovers consciousness, the only reason it's NOT a Death Trap is because the Big Bad has given orders not to gun down the lawman where he lay. Yes, the villain comes to regret this.
- Star Wars: Famously used by the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi to try and take down Imperial AT-STs. It doesn't work (though it does slow them a bit).
- In the Criminal Minds episode "Zoe's Reprise", this is mentioned as the methodology the Bike Path Rapist used to start his assault on his victims.
- Doctor Who. The Fourth Doctor does this with his famous scarf in "The Hand of Fear". Eldrad comes charging after the Doctor and Sarah Jane, fails to see a thick multicolored scarf stretched across his path and stumbles into a Bottomless Pit.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action", Kirk places a wire from a dismantled radio above the ground across the door, starts yelling and two guards come rushing in and trip.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg does this prank on Rowley's dad in several books, tripping him with a wire while he's walking home. He doesn't understand why Rowley's dad doesn't find it funny.
- In the Hercule Poirot novel Dumb Witness, the victim is believed to have fallen down a staircase after tripping over a dog's chewtoy. Poirot, however, discovers the remains of a tripwire on the top step, a clue that points to murder.
- Goblin Slayer does this to a hobgoblin during the cave battle in the first arc, using Priestess's Holy Light spell to blind it so that it won't see the rope, just before plunging the late Warrior's longsword into it on the ground to finish it off.
- In the Protector of the Small book Squire, Kel sets one of these.
- In the Dinosaurs episode, "When Food Goes Bad", two of the creatures from the refrigerator do this to Robbie when he runs across the hallway after tricking him into thinking that Charlene is in danger.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, Dungeon magazine #14 adventure "Master of Puppets", the entry stairs to the abandoned shrine have a tripwire strung across the bottom of the stairs, 6 inches above the last step down. Any Player Character running or walking into it must make a Dexterity check at -4 or fall down, taking 1-4 Hit Points of damage and being stunned for 2-5 minutes.
- A very common trap trigger in Fallout 3, Fallout 4 and Fallout: New Vegas. Usually linked to bombs or strung-up grenades.
- The first trap in Kid Klown In Crazy Chase that Black Jack personally uses against you, positioning himself near the end of the level, he keeps the rope twisted around his legs and simply leans back like he's relaxing, stretching the rope taut. It's easy enough to jump over it, though if you do trip over it, he'll proceed to laugh at you.
- A useful hunting tool in Horizon Zero Dawn, particularly against the powerful robotic Thunder Maws. You can even upgrade the tripwire so that it will explode and cause fire damage to your prey.
- InThe Incredible Dennis the Menace episode, "Hospitality", Dennis is sent to the hospital for a tonsillectomy, but since he is afraid of getting an operation, he sets up this kind of trap in his hospital room so the surgeons can't sneak up on him and operate on him when he least expects it. When Mr. Wilson comes to Dennis' hospital room to drop off a tin of ice cream that his wife made for Dennis, he trips on Dennis' trap and falls down the stairs, injuring his leg and getting himself hospitalized as a result. To make matters worse for Mr. Wilson, he has to share a hospital room with Dennis.
- My Life as a Teenage Robot: In "Pest Control", Vladimir and the other lab rats take over Jenny's body, leaving Jenny's head to take control of Tuck's RC car. Jenny tricks Vladimir into chasing her towards Dr. Wakeman's swimming pool. As she jumps off a ramp and lands just outside the pool, Brad, Tuck, and Dr. Wakeman hold out a rope while hiding behind the bushes near the pool to trip Vladimir in Jenny's body, causing said body to land in the pool and trapping Vladimir and the other lab rats.
- Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!:
- The gang uses this to capture the faux ghost in Jefferson Stillwall's attic in "Haunted House Hang-Up". Fred and Shaggy get the ghost (who turns out to be Stillwall's greedy neighbor Asha Shanks) to chase him out the front door while Daphne and Velma use a rope to trip him up.
- The gang tries this in "Hassle in the Castle" to catch the phantom of the episode in one of Fred's traps, but they wind up catching Scooby in it instead.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode "Ugh", when the prehistoric versions of SpongeBob, Squidward and Patrick are fighting over the burning log, Squidward trips an unknowing Patrick on the run with his legs while hiding in the bushes.
- In the Super Friends episode "The Baffles Puzzle", Batman and Robin have entered a cave when Robin trips on a rope and causes a rockslide, trapping them in the cave.
- This is a very common trigger for explosive booby traps and has been used extensively by insurgents and terrorist groups during the Iraq War. Fortunately, in 1993, SFC David B. Chandler found an interesting way to find tripwires without setting them off. The solution? Silly-String.
- Interestingly, tripwires have been used for non-violent purposes as kill-switches in industrial settings. Particularly in those involving conveyor belts.