Follow TV Tropes


"X" Marks the Spot

Go To

"To whoever finds this, check this out. You're totally not gonna believe what I just found! That is an actual spot in the shape of an actual X. X marks the spot. X is the spot! Mind blown."
Zak (recording his find), Zak Storm, "Morlock the Unstoppable"

In your everyday stock Pirate Booty Treasure Map, a path is drawn on a dotted line. It goes past illustrations of dragons and dolphins and palm-trees before coming to a complete stop at an "X". This is usually where you can find the stolen cargo buried on that beach. Bonus points if, upon arrival at the site of the buried treasure, there is an "X" on the ground as well.

Not to be confused with the educational short film of the same name. Compare Map Stabbing, for when something important is marked on the map using a weapon.

See also: "X" Marks the Hero.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece: In a clever variant, this is the only way to find Laugh Tale, the ultimate Treasure Island where the titular One Piece is located. A special variant of the ancient stone blocks called Poneglyphs are the "Red Poneglyphs", of which there are four, each one having the coordinates of a particular island. Once the locations of all 4 islands have been collected, a cross can been drawn on a map, with Laugh Tale located in the center of the intersection.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Dr. Jones makes a point of telling his class that X never, ever marks the spot. Later on, while looking for clues, he finds that one is actually a giant Roman numeral 10.
  • On It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the treasure is supposed to be under a giant W, formed by four palm trees.
  • In The Lost King amateur historian Philippa Langely is searching for the remains of Richard III and believes they are buried under a carpark. When she sees a letter R painted on the asphalt, she has a premonition that Richard's body lies beneath, even though the R stands for reserved. Turns out he is buried there, and amazingly, this is Truth in Television.
  • Low Tide: Peter buries the gold coins under a tree he carves an X into. Later, he moves them, burying them in the surf with an anchor as a marker.
  • Saw:
    • Invoked by Jigsaw in the Bathroom and Nerve Gas House games in the first two films, with an "X" symbol that indicates a certain location with useful items that the victims can pick up.
    • Jigsaw has two of them.
      • Mitch's specified test begins when he sets off a tractor's engine marked with a red "X".
      • Also used as a subtle Foreshadowing with a painted "X" that Edgar stands in front of. It gives away the aiming range of the shot Edgar had received.
  • The Three Stooges' Cash and Carry: In the old house, where some con men tell them a treasure is buried, the three are given a road map with an ambiguous "X" marked next to "Walla Walla". Curly suggests that each "Walla" represents a side of the house, and that they base the search on this. Later on, Curly finds an actual "X" on a support beam in the basement, but ends up pulling it away and sending the floor above with Moe and Larry coming down to him when he tries to put his pick to it but gets it stuck.

  • The Phantom Ship: A predecessor of sorts. Philip and Krantz bury what treasure is left from the Utrecht on an island for the Company to pick up later. They bury it beneath a coconut tree, which they have "marked with their axe."
  • Treasure Island is the Trope Maker. The map to Captain Flint's treasure is full of annotations and sports three red crosses to help guide the way to the treasure.

    Live-Action TV 
  • M*A*S*H: North Korean pilot "5 o'Clock Charlie" comes by every day at 5 o'Clock and tries to blow up an ammo dump that's near the hospital but misses. So the guys in the unit decide to help him by painting giant arrows pointing the way to the correct location. (He still misses.)
  • Discussed in episode "Dig Dug" of Stranger Things, where Joyce marks on one of Will's drawings with an X and proclaims "That's the objective. Find the X." upon which Bob jokingly asks "What's at the X? Pirate treasure?
  • In White Collar, Kate leaves Neal a linked list of clues for how to contact her. One of the clues is an empty Bordeaux wine bottle with a map of Manhattan drawn on the label in invisible ink; Neal figures out that she wants him to go to the location on the map marked by the "X" in "Bordeaux".

    Puppet Shows 
  • Parodied in Sesame Street where it's noted that normally X marks the spot, but since the treasure is in a library, this time "L" marks the spot.

    Video Games 
  • 60 Seconds!: One of the events involves the family finding an "X" on a wall outside and deducing if they should check it (via choosing a member). If you choose a member, it's very likely for them to find a hiding spot behind it (but not always), with you getting a random item you don't have in the shelter. There's also the chance that the chosen member will become tired or sick afterwards.
  • Dragon Quest IV: The Treasure Map places one at the location of the Yggdrasil Tree, where the Zenithian Sword can be found.
  • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, the scuba gear and pirate treasure Sly and the gang were looking for was buried on a spot with an X made of rocks laid out to mark its location.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: the final level of the Pirate Seas era takes place on an X, which the map says it's "Treasures! (Not zombies)". You do get a "treasure" there... after fighting loads of zombies.
  • In the Monkey Island series, buried treasure is almost always marked with an X, sometimes because it's intended to be found; others, because it's a trap for the obliviously greedy. The Secret of Monkey Island, LeChuck's Revenge, and Tales of Monkey Island all have such Xs, though in all these cases the treasure is well-hidden and not out in the open with a map leading right to it. The other games also have hidden treasure, but in secret rooms or caves.
  • After beating Dubloon's final boss, you can ask an old man on Pyrite Island for help in getting all the loot. He will put an X over any island in your Point-and-Click Map that still has unopened treasure chests.
  • In the ZX Spectrum game Driller, the player has to save an artificial planetoid by teleporting in drilling rigs to flare off a dangerous underground gas buildup in every sector and needed to follow clues as to the correct location to place the tower in each sector for maximum effect. In the first sector, a large "X" on the ground made it blindingly obvious where the first rig should be placed.
  • Discussed in Kingdom Hearts III when sailing in The Caribbean, if Captain Jack Sparrow is in your party. On your actual sea charts, Xes mark named islands that you can fast-travel to while on deck; in fairness, some of them do have treasure, and one of them even has a chunk of Orichalcum+ for forging your Ultima Weapon.
    Sora: Hey, shouldn't there be big Xes on the map to mark the treasure?
    Jack: It's never that easy, mate.
  • Banjo-Kazooie's Treasure Trove Cove has an X painted on the ground, which can be Ground Pounded to transform it into an arrow pointing the way to another X. After several iterations of this (including one that turns into a question mark), the player will find a treasure chest containing a jiggy.
  • Sunset Overdrive: When looking for a buried shipping chart for a Mooil Rig DLC sidequest, the location to dig is marked by a raised X on the ground.


    Web Video 
  • 7-Second Riddles: A kid finds a treasure-map and follows it to a spot in the garden. It's subverted, because he doesn't find anything when he digs- his steps aren't as big as the person who made the map, so someone else finds the treasure instead.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in an episode of Alphablocks, where the character X finds the treasure because X is said to mark the spot.
  • Subverted in the Darkwing Duck episode "Just Us Justice Ducks, Part 1": Negaduck has a huge and very obvious flag over his headquarters pointing out the exact location of his lair (right in the background of the scene at that), but Darkwing fails to see it and instead goes for a cryptically-placed clue at the site of their last confrontation. Of course, Negaduck was counting on Darkwing finding the clue and not seeing the obvious flag.
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "O-Ed Eleven", the Eds uncover a sheet of paper hidden in Eddy's brother's room. Edd does his best to decipher it, even laying it over a projection of a map of the neighborhood, but nothing comes of it. In a momentary fit of Cloudcuckoolander intelligence, Ed puts Eddy in front of the projection, the starting point being Eddy's nose and the end of the line leading to Eddy's ear (which so happens to be an X in design). Ed claims he was able to put it together because he is an older brother just like Eddy's brother.
  • At the beginning of the Zak Storm episode "Morlock the Unstoppable", the Seven Cs find a giant x-shaped hole in the ground of an island. They correctly assume that this means there is treasure where the giant x leads, so they venture in.
  • In The Loud House episode "It's a Loud, Loud, Loud, Loud House", the kids are following a map that supposedly leads to hidden money. Lisa notes that X marks the spot and she loves solving for X.
  • The Simpsons episode "Homer the Vigilante" references It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Molloy the Cat Burgler tells the Springfield police that he hid a large sum of money under a big T. They rush out to find it, and realize that there's dozens of big T's in Springfield, so they go talk to Molloy again to get detailed directions to the real big T.
  • In Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, Planet X conveniently has an X on its surface. They find it following a line of likewise alphabetized planets.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants episode Arrgh! also features this trope. The treasure Mr. Krabs is looking for lies underneath a kinda obvious large X.
  • The jerkass bulldog from Tex Avery's cartoon "Bad Luck Blackie" paints an X on the sidewalk exactly below a safe that's suspended from a pulley hoist. Bad Luck Blackie appears and stands on the X, whereupon the dog smugly releases the rope. Blackie hears the Bomb Whistle, looks up, assesses the situation, and calmly slides the painted X with his foot until the X is beneath the dog. Toon Physics dictate that a falling object must land on the X, even if it must bend gravity to do so. Therefore, it does.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "No Toon is an Island", Plucky finds an X on the ground and starts digging for treasure, but finds none. He then finds another X, and then another, which are really the X-Bird's tracks. Later, the gang finds two trees forming and X, and find the treasure buried there.
    Real Life 
  • A humourously coincidential example: When the long-lost grave of King Richard III was rediscovered under a car park in Leicester, many noted that it was located directly beneath a big 'R' (a 'Reserved Parking' marking).


Video Example(s):


X Marks the Spot

Indy defuses several cliches and says "X never, ever marks the spot". Later, the search for the knight's tomb leads them to a library where they realize the tomb is located. The entrance is marked with Roman numerals and the exact entrance is marked with the Roman numeral for ten, which is X.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / BrickJoke

Media sources: