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Weight and Switch

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If you're an Indiana Jones fan, you probably know the scene by heart. After dodging one Booby Trap after another on their way through the Temple of Doom, the hero approaches the MacGuffin he's spent the past few hours searching for, neatly resting on a pedestal and seemingly unguarded. It's tempting to grab it, but somehow he knows it's not that easy.

The prize, you see, is resting on a Pressure Plate, and removing the payload would most likely set off yet another trap. So he ever so carefully swaps it with something of equal weight, and the trap is none the wiser. (Just as often if not more, though, the trick fails and the trap goes off anyways so the audience can see their action escape sequence.)

Like Indy Hat Roll and a handful of others, just about every instance of this trope is a Shout-Out to the famed adventurer (see Raiders of the Lost Parody). See also Land Mine Goes "Click!" when the "treasure" is a fellow human being. Compare with Replaced with Replica.


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    Film — Live-Action 
  • A variation occurs in Entrapment, in which Classy Cat-Burglar Gin secures a pressure plate with chewed bubble gum before removing the jeweled mask from it.
  • Indiana Jones is, naturally, the Trope Maker. When he performs the trick in Raiders of the Lost Ark, though, the bag unfortunately proves either too heavy ornote  too light after a Hope Spot: the trap goes off, leading directly to the Indy Escape. As mentioned above, more or less every other example of this trope seems to be presented, and/or interpreted as a reference to this film.
  • In the Indiana Jones parody at the beginning of UHF, George does this, carefully and dramatically weighing the sand bag in his hands before... sighing and just taking the statue (an Oscar). Somehow the trap is still triggered.

  • Ascendance of a Bookworm has a magical variation of this. The protagonist needs to collect a feybeast egg from a volcano that risks erupting if too many of the living beings that absorb its Background Magic Field magic are removed. As she needs the egg precisely because it can accumulate a lot of magic for something its size, her group comes in with a bunch of depleted Power Crystals to leave in the general area in place in the egg so they can absorb the magic that would have otherwise gone into getting the collected egg to the point where it could hatch.
  • Clue: In book #14, chapter 10 ("The Dangerous Diamond"), part of the security system around the titular diamond is a counterweight system, which would detect the absence of its weight and sound an alarm. The thief outsmarts it by immediately replacing the diamond with the Lead Pipe.
  • In Deltora Quest, Lief uses an otherwise worthless Chekhov's Gun to fill a hole left by a Plot Coupon. In this case, the problem is size, not weight. And like many other examples here, it doesn't work.
  • In The Fifth Elephant, this is the method used to switch the genuine Scone of Stone - the throne upon which Dwarf kings are crowned - with a replica, thus invalidating the coronation of a controversial new monarch. note 
  • Shows up in If I Pay Thee Not In Gold by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey. The catch being that while there's an obvious sensing device of this type, the creators are not stupid and would have known from the start that any likely thief would be equipped on the spot to create an exact replica and make the switch, so the thief in question does so - after first filling the area with fog and freezing it to temporarily jam whatever mechanisms are in the pedestal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Andromeda with an Indiana Jones-esque adventure in a jungle planet, Beka steps on such a trap. They consider counterweights, but then Dylan just pushes her away from the poisonous darts.
  • Breaking Bad: During the episode "Dead Freight", Walt, Jesse, Mike, and Todd are attempting a train heist for their supply of methylamine. Because the cargo tanks are weighed before and after the train's journey, they need to pump in the approximate weight in water to the amount of methylamine they steal to prevent their heist from being discovered. Walt figures that the manufacturers will chalk up the watered-down methylamine to China shipping out diluted goods to cut costs rather than suspect they got robbed.
  • The Crystal Maze: This happened in one of the children's special episodes. The correct solution was to put weights on four pressure pads, using a metal bar so that one weight could apply to two pads. The young contestant instead stood himself on the fourth pad. Richard declared that this was not the right method of solving the game, but let them have it anyway.
    Richard: Somebody will be watching that on CCTV, probably Mumsey, saying "No no no no! You didn't do it properly! People want to see the game played properly!
  • Variant attempt on CSI, in 'Grave Danger'. The glass box Nick was buried in was equipped with explosives designed to go off when pressure was removed from them. Grissom uses a backhoe to dump in a pile of dirt roughly equivalent to Nick's body weight to stop the explosion. It fails, though the dirt does muffle the blast.
  • Parodied in Even Stevens, in the episode 'Raiders of the Lost Sausage', Louis and his father find a Golden Sausage buried in a treasure room underneath their house. Louis, expecting a booby trap, suggests swapping it with a rock. It works, but while dancing in celebration, they accidentally knock the rock off, triggering the room to collapse. They escape, but lose the sausage in the process. Amusingly, Louis is played by Shia LaBeouf.
  • Fort Boyard: Downplayed, in that when the team enter the treasure room, they spell out the password by standing on lettered tiles, and if there are not enough players, they can place cannon balls on the other letters.
  • Highlander did this in 'The Cross of St. Antoine'. Amanda was trying to help Duncan steal back a cross statue another immortal had wrongly taken. She has to use this technique to prevent the alarm going off when she removes the cross from its display.
  • An episode of Mythbusters tested the Entrapment example of holding the pressure plate down using chewed bubble gum. That didn't work, but trying it with duct tape did.
  • NCIS: Tony directly references the Trope Maker when he and Ziva have to rescue a sleeping girl on a pressure plate wired to a giant electrical circuit which will kill her if she shifts her weight too much. However, she starts to wake up while Tony is getting water tanks to spoof her weight, forcing them to hastily pull her off just in time.
  • An episode of Sliders had a similar example to the above with a booby-trapped hopscotch course. Quinn uses a plank as a see-saw to drop Wade's weight in bricks onto the pressure plate, and they manage to get out of the way just before the trap activates.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? parodied it during a game of Weird Newscasters. Ryan's (the weatherman) quirk was "Indiana Jones on an adventure," and his "idol" was Drew's mug...which, of course, he successfully swiped.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon magazine #5, adventure "The Stolen Power". The stolen Book of Infinite Spells is protected by a pressure plate trap. If the Book is lifted off without being replaced by another object of about the same weight (10-15 lbs.), the trap will release Knockout Gas.
    • Also in module I4 Oasis of the White Palm. In the Crypt of Badr Al-Mosak, the Star Gem of Shah-pelar is in an area where only part of the floor is real; the rest is actually acid-filled pits covered with illusions. If the gem is removed from its pillar without replacing it with something of equal weight, the real floor sections will be covered with energy beams that will do serious damage to anyone passing through them.

    Video Games 
  • In the Discworld game, Rincewind tries to switch his money bag (filled with sand) with a jewel at a temple. As usual with this trope, it fails.
  • Various pressure plate traps abound in the dungeons of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. However, a fast player can swap out the treasure with something of equal weight. Whether or not it works depends on how good you are.
  • Edwin Lindsay's chapter in Eternal Darkness features a room with a bronze bracelet guarded by a naga statue. Taking the bracelet causes the doors to close and the naga to spit darts at Lindsay and demand that he "Give it back!". To progress, Lindsay must replace the bronze bracelet with a worthless iron bracelet discovered earlier. Appropriately, this is very much an Indiana Jones expy chapter.
  • A punny version in Heavy on the Magick on the ZX Spectrum, where in order to retrieve the werewolf-destroying nugget you have to switch it with a piece of nougat.
  • One of Etsuko's minigames in Incredible Crisis involves having to do this with a golden pig, swapping the right amount of groceries in and out of her shopping bag to equal the weight.
  • Used a few times in Kingdom of Loathing. One Bad Moon event has you switch a pair of loaded dice with a pair of regular dice; unfortunately, because regular dice don't weigh the same as loaded dice, just when the player character thinks they're safe, they're riddled with poisonous darts. Played straighter in the Nemesis quest, where the player character switches out their starting weapon with its enhanced version in the Tomb of the Unknown Adventurer.
  • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, the way Guybrush replaces a book for another over the bed of Governor Phatt is exactly the same way Indiana Jones swaps a sandbag for an idol in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • The player does this in the first Resident Evil game and its remake, thanks to finding imitations of keys and shotguns and such, replacing the original ones from their perches. One room contains a shotgun that's weighing down a pair of hooks. If you take the weapon and attempt to leave, the next room will lock the exit and the ceiling starts descending upon you. You have to put the shotgun back, find a broken shotgun later and use it in place of the functioning shotgun so that you can get it safely. In Jill's scenario, it's possible for both doors to be locked if she takes the shotgun without replacing it and only Barry's impeccable timing in coming by when he did is what saves her.
  • In Sam and Max Hit the Road, Sam uses this trope to steal Conroy Bumpus's toupee. It fails spectacularly, but he gets it anyways.
  • Shantae: Risky's Revenge: Uncle Mimic tells a story of how he looted some treasure by emptying the contents of his bowels onto the pressure plate.
  • Use of this technique is necessary to acquire one of the Chao eggs in Sonic Adventure; it's in a room where the exit locks when the egg is removed, and it needs to be replaced with an egg-shaped rock.
  • Tyranny has a magical variation in the Burning Library, where the Silent Archive is part of a spell that is preventing the whole place from completely crumbling to the Edict of Fire, meaning that in order to get it without the whole placing coming apart you have to replace it with an Artifact of equal magical power.

    Western Animation 
  • In Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, Barbie tries this to remove the Dreamhouse's CPU. She grabs a Bag of Holding, pulls a guitar, an anvil, and a lamp out of it, then tries to slide the bag onto the CPU's platform. The bag proves heavier than the CPU, causing a giant Barbie styling head to pursue Barbie, Midge, and Summer.
  • Dexter of Dexter's Laboratory does this in "Nuclear Confusion", when Dee Dee steals an unstable nuclear isotope that he needs to power his new reading lamp and forces him to follow a series to clues to recover it, otherwise it will go critical and destroy the Earth. When Dexter finally finds it in Dee Dee's bedroom, which is inexplicably filled with Indiana Jones-style traps, he attempts this stunt by swapping out the isotope with a stuffed teddy bear, but sure enough, he ends up setting off another trap, in this case, a giant yarn ball.
  • A delayed version in Futurama: When Leela rescues the head of Lucy Liu from (which is using her to illegally download copies of her brain into robots) she sets off the Pressure Plate sensor, so Leela replaces Liu's head with Madeline Albright's.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Billy and Mandy Begins" during Billy's... creative story of how he and Mandy met Grim, the two find Grim's skull in a temple. Grim praises how Billy came with a bag of sand that weighs as much as him, though Billy tosses the sand out in disappointment and simply grabbed Grim's skull.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Jackie is shown doing it in a museum to make off with a talisman, while Viper instead uses high-tech to steal a diamond. Satchel Switcheroo ensues.
  • The Daring Do book Rainbow Dash reads in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic features the Indy-Expy heroine making a dramatic show of getting ready for the swap, only to just take the idol off the platform without bothering to put down a replacement.
  • In Phineas and Ferb episode "We Call it Maze", Ferb does this in order to get a key to help through a maze. He even temporarily dons Indie's trademark hat and coat while he does it.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Indy Swap


Stealing the Idol

After dodging a floor full of pressure traps to get to the idol, Indy guesses that the idol itself might be on another one, so he swaps it for a bag he's filled with sand to approximately the same weight. After a moment when it seems to have worked, the pedestal holding the sand bag sinks and the entire temple starts to collapse.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / WeightAndSwitch

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