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.
See also: "X" Marks the Hero.
- One Piece: In a clever variant, this is a way to locate Raftel, the ultimate Treasure Island where the titular One Piece is located. Using the writings of ancient stone blocks known as "red Poneglyphs", the writings show the position of a particular island; there are 4 such Poneglyphs in existence. Once all 4 islands are located, then you draw a cross between those 4 islands on the map, and Raftel is located at the center of that X.
- 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.
- Treasure Island may be the Trope Maker. Robert Louis Stevenson was painting a watercolor that he was using to entertain his nephew, and the painting of it became an engrossing story in its own right, with the appearance of the fantastically/horrifically named locations on the island culminating in the story's apotheosis, the X where the treasure is located. To hear the nephew tell it, it was quite exciting. The novel came from that rainy afternoon's adventure in watercolor.
- 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.
- Parodied in Sesame Street where they note that normally X marks the spot, but since the treasure is in a library, this time "L" marks the spot.
- 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".
- 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.
- Inverted in Girl Genius — the residents of Mechanicsburg inscribed a large X on the plain in front of their city to aid in targeting their Mad Science defense-weapons.. and an egomaniac x-themed attacker took this as a cue to pitch his tent there.
- In Freefall, a giant X on the ground is used to mark a drop zone for ice asteroids.
- Mocked in Schlock Mercenary. Hey, look, Nick foun' a big treasure map! Five pages later they discover why exactly it's marked "X".
- 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. (Which is located 100 steps to the east, not weast.)
- 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.