Trap Is the Only Option

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Robin: Holy broken beaks! He must be kidding if he thinks we're gonna fall for that!
Batman: It's an obvious trap all right, Robin. But we have to take the bait and see what the Penguin's up to.

The New Adventures of Batman

Someone sets a trap. It's an obvious trap. It's a blatantly obvious trap. You'd need to be blind not to spot it.

Let's walk into it!

The reasons for this vary. Sometimes, it's because one of the hero's True Companions or a Love Interest is being held hostage, and the hero can't turn his back on them. Sometimes it's because the heroes need a lead to the villain's plot and taking the bait is the only way. Perhaps the heroes have an idea of what's in store for them, and the makings of a plan. Or maybe it's just because the hero or villain enjoys a challenge. In any case, the choice is made: trap or no trap, it's their only chance.

Video Games may sidestep any logical rationale at all for walking into a trap, leaving Stupidity as the Only Option, because your characters apparently really are that dumb. When an explanation is given, it falls under this trope—otherwise, contrast Stupidity Is the Only Option and But Thou Must!.

Compare Schmuck Bait.

Examples of Trap Is the Only Option include:

Anime and Manga

  • Yu-Gi-Oh. Just about every trap card (or anything with Spell Speed 2) ever is practically unavoidable.[1]
  • In the Read or Die OAV, one clear path into the I-Jin fortress suddenly becomes apparent. Joker instructs his team to take that path, stating that while it is obviously a trap, he has a few tricks of his own to play. (See the From Russia With Love quote below)
  • In episode 7 of Code Geass, Cornelia tries to lure out Zero by attacking the Saitama Ghetto; Lelouch immediately recognizes it's a trap since it's an almost perfect recreation of Clovis' attack on Shinjuku Ghetto in the first couple of episodes. He still goes anyway because of his overconfidence, but Cornelia is a much better commander than Clovis, and the Saitama rebels are quick to surrender and less competent than the ones he lead in Shinjuku, so he's almost captured and only escapes when C.C. lets him pull off an unsolicited Decoy Getaway.
  • In an early chapter/episode of Ranma ½, a student who's madly in love with Akane finds out about Ranma's phobia of cats and decides to lure him into a cat-filled room to humiliate him. He does this by sending Ranma a letter telling him to show up at a particular location if he ever wants to see Akane again...while Akane's standing right next to Ranma and reading the letter too. He then does a hilariously poor impersonation of being the kidnapped Akane (once again, while Akane's right next to Ranma) when Ranma shows up at the designated location. Ranma still goes along with it because he just wants to know what the hell this weirdo is up to. Bad choice.
  • In an aptly named episode of Digimon Adventure 02 "The Insect Master's Trap", the chosen children enter into Arukenimon's trap to find out what she is up to.
  • By about a third of the way through Inuyasha, the heroes just start to assume that they're walking into yet another of Naraku's traps—almost at the rate of Once an Episode. They're usually right, of course. But most of the traps are Xanatos Gambits or Batman Gambits; not walking into the trap often means letting Naraku take Shikon no Tama shards, working with no other leads, or mass killings of commoners.

Comic Books

  • The villain Black Mask's pathetic first appearance in Batman was marked by him walking into an obvious trap. He was obsessed with masks, and was killing people that had "wronged" him with them. Then one of the people he wanted dead, Bruce Wayne, held a Masquerade.

Batman: Good job, Alfred - Black Mask won't be able to resist an invitation like this.
Robin: But what makes you so sure, Batman? It's the most obvious trap imaginable.
Batman: Which is why he'll come.
Narrator: The Crypt...
Tupeng: It's obviously a trap, Black Mask.
Black Mask: Of course, Tupeng - and moreover, it's obviously an obvious trap.
Thespis: But you still plan to go?
Black Mask: Of course, Thespis. How could I resist?"

  • One time Superboy walked into a cage-like green structure with a sign on it saying "Luthor Trap to Capture Superboy. Enter Here Please", figuring that no one would tell him its a trap and thus put him on guard. Both Luthor and the narrator acknowledged his idiocy here. To be fair, this was actually a dream.



Number One: What makes you think the head of the British secret service will oblige you by falling in with your plan?
Kronsteen: For the simple reason that this is so obviously a trap. My reading of the British mentality is that they always treat a trap as a challenge.

  • Serenity, after Inara sends a message inviting Mal to come see her at the Companion training house, Mal and Zoe recognize it instantly as a trap, but because the bait's a friend of theirs (and Mal's Love Interest besides), Mal decides to go in anyway.

Wash: Yeah, but remember the part where it's a trap?

    • The best part is, of course, the reason Mal knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it's a trap:

Mal: Y'all were watchin', I take it?
[Everyone squirms uncomfortably]
Kaylee: ...Yes.
Mal: Did you see us fight?
Kaylee: No.
Mal: Trap.

      • No, the best part is the outtake on the DVD.

Mal: Did you see us fight?
Kaylee: No.
Mal: TRAP!


Anakin: I sense Count Dooku.
Obi-Wan: I sense a trap.
Anakin: Next move?
Obi-Wan: (grins) Spring the trap.

  • In Starship Troopers, the Roughnecks end up falling right into a Bug ambush, but as we later find out, command knew the Bugs had set a trap and sent in the Roughnecks as bait so they could confirm that there was a Brain Bug on the planet.
  • Done quite literally in The Great Mouse Detective.


  • Animorphs often used and Lampshaded this. Of course a few times they weren't actually traps, and one time Jake walked into one, everyone got killed, but Jake was thrown back in time, offered the chance to walk into said trap and said "screw it, let's go home".
  • At the end of the Black Jewels trilogy, the villains capture Lucivar's wife and child. He takes the bait, and then subsequently becomes new bait for his father. Who takes the bait, and subsequently becomes new bait for his other son. Who takes the bait. Unfortunately for the villains, he doesn't walk so much as saunter into the trap.
  • In Dune, when Paul Atreides tells his father Leto that their being given Arrakis was possibly a trap, Leto replies with the classic line "knowing there is a trap is the first step in evading it."
  • In Agatha Christie's Partners In Crime stories, Tommy and Tuppence are posing as private detectives, because the detective agency is suspected of dealing with a supercriminal known as No. 16, and Tommy's government boss wants them to flush him out. When Tommy arranges a meeting with someone who is quite obviously an agent of No. 16 who suspects he isn't really Mr Blunt, Tuppence complains that he's walking into a trap with his eyes closed. Tommy replies that, on the contrary, he's walking into a trap with his eyes open.
  • The Wheel of Time protagonists practically live this trope, especially Rand.

Rand: A trap's not a trap, if you know it's a trap.
Min: Like a chair's not a chair, if you know it's a chair?
Rand: Exactly.
Min: So what are you sitting on right now?
Rand: Not a chair.
Min: Then you're not an idiot.

  • In the Magic Legends II Cycle, the villain Nicol Bolas walks knowingly into Tetsuo Umezawa's trap. And is utterly defeated.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Hour of the Dragon, Conan the Barbarian speculates that he's about to walk into this, but it's better than sitting around.
    • Kull is told, in "The Shadow Kingdom" to come to the feast alone.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream, pilot Voort SaBinring notices the enemy attack pattern indicates they're going to spring a trap on their squadron. Squadron leader Jaina Solo decides to weather the trap out; they couldn't run every time they were targeted by a seeming Obvious Trap. It nearly proves fatal to her, and her Love Interest Jagged Fel.

Live Action TV


The Doctor: I shall have to go alone of course. It's funny. They always want you to go alone when you're walking into a trap. Have you noticed that?

  • On Lost, Jack and co. know that Michael is leading them straight into a trap by taking them to the Others' camp. Jack's plan is to go along with it and pretend they don't know it's a trap. Somehow, they still manage to get caught.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel are both pretty fond of playing with this. Probably done best in season 2, which is bookended with Buffy walking into two different traps for two different reasons, only to discover that both of them were just red herrings to distract her.

Angelus: And you fall for it every single time!


Video Games

  • Several City of Heroes missions play out like this; you know that no matter what your contact tells you, your mission's going to involve beating up some bad guys. Lampshaded in at least one mission description text.
  • Subject to sarcastic Lampshade Hanging in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, after a crime boss invites the Jedi Exile to a meeting and insists that she come alone:

Atton: Well, good thing it's not a trap.
Mical: No, Atton, I think it may be a trap!
Handmaiden: What are you talking about? It's obviously a trap.
Atton: Could you lighten up for just one second?
Kreia: It may be a trap - but traps work both ways.

    • It gets even funnier when the Exile encounters Mira on the way to the obvious trap, who tells right away that she's a bounty hunter (there's a huge price on the Exile's head) and tells the Exile to follow her... Into a trap. Then Mira walks into the same trap she just prevented the Exile from falling into. And the Exile follows her afterwards, without any protection despite knowing that the place is full of extremely poisonous gas.
  • In Mass Effect 2, the Illusive Man knows that the "derelict" Collector ship is a trap, but sends Shepard and crew to investigate anyway, not wishing to lose the chance to gain intel on the Collectors. He does neglect to tell Shepard it's a trap, so you have no idea until it's is sprung.
  • Portal 2 offers several of these.
    • A combination of this trope and Schmuck Bait: at one point GLaDOS offers you a door labeled "GLaDOS Emergency Shutdown and Cake Dispensary - Keep Unlocked". You literally cannot do anything else but try to open it, and she savagely lampshades it during her Evil Gloating afterward.

GLaDOS: I honestly, truly can't believe you fell for that. In fact, I had a much better trap prepared later on, after you escaped this easy one. If I'd known capturing you would be this easy, I'd have just dangled a turkey leg on a rope from the ceiling.

    • At one point, the Big Bad crashes an entire room into a walkway that you're using to escape from him, with a convenient opening inside. GLaDOS goes so far as to Lampshade the fact.

GLaDOS: Okay, yes, it's a trap. But it's the only way through, so let's just do it.

    • At the end of the game, there is a Booby Trap placed on a vital piece of apparatus. By contrast with the earlier example, this is not pointed out by anyone ahead of time, but it's clearly obvious if you look closely. But Thou Must! fall for it.
  • In Seiken Densetsu 3, the party elect to take the Sword of Mana into the villain's lair, knowing full well that it's a trap but also feeling it's their only chance to save their kidnapped friend.
  • The first Paper Mario has a coin block that opens a pit underneath it in the first dungeon that you must hit in order to continue. It would've been a rather clever trap if it weren't for the fact that you have to watch a cut scene that shows a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad constructing the trap right before you enter the room it's in.
  • In The Sacrifice campaign in Left 4 Dead, the survivors come across a wrecked train blocking their path and the only way through is to open the car door and open the other door on the other side. The car contains a Tank and the survivors can clearly hear it grunting and roaring inside, but they know they have to free it in order to move on and releasing the Tank also summons a horde of zombies on you. Don't think you can try to outrun the Tank and then open the other door to escape. The dev team is onto you.

Web Comics


Western Animation

  • Not uncommon in the Adam West version of Batman... or its animated sequel, which provided the above quote.
  • Looney Tunes - Elmer Fudd, in one cartoon, set a rabbit trap for Bugs Bunny. Bugs notes that he had never actually seen one in real life but recognized it from what his grandfather described to him. He decided to go along with it merely because he concluded Elmer must have gone through a lot of trouble to set it up.
  • The plot of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode 'Sonic Breakout' is based around Robotnik imprisoning a cartoonist who drew a less-than-flattering strip of the Eggman. In order to break into the prison and save him, Sonic willingly lets himself get captured by Scratch and Grounder... but not before putting them through the usual hijinx.
  • Beast Wars: During one season 3 episode, when the Predacons pull off another assault on the Maximal base, they blow open the front door, and Megatron lets Quickstrike lead the way. Inferno asks why he wasn't sent in instead.

Megatron: Because, Inferno, when expecting booby traps...
[Quickstrike gets flattened on a booby trap]
Megatron: ...always send the boob in first.

  • Kim Possible: In one episode, Shego leaves a blatantly obvious clue that she stole the MacGuffin. Ron figures that it's a trap... but it's such an obvious trap that Drakken won't expect them to fall for it, so the thing to do is surprise him by falling for it anyway. That turned out to be just what Drakken was expecting.
  1. In the case of traps that can be chained to their own destruction, such as Threatening Roar and Reckless Greed, this applies to the real game as well.