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All right, contestant, you've made it to the final round of everyone's favorite Game Show The Trope Is Dope. Now you have a choice to make between two fabulous prizes. The first is an all expense paid trip around the world, complete with a complimentary Rolls Royce and $5 million in cash. The second is ... the Mystery Box! What's inside it? No one knows. It could be week-old garbage, or the keys to your new mansion. Maybe it's filled with rocks and mud, or maybe fabulous diamonds. It could be anything! Troper, make your choice! . . .

You're gonna choose the box, aren't you? (chuckles) Sucker.


Film -- Live Action

  • In "Weird Al" Yankovic's UHF, there is a game show parody called Wheel of Fish. The contestant wins a very tasty red snapper fish, but is given the choice to take a box. The contestant chooses the box and is mocked: "You took the box! Let's see what's in the box!" ... (box is opened; audience gasps) ... "NOTHING! Absolutely NOTHING! Stupid! You're so stupid!"

Live Action TV

  • Let's Make a Deal is the Trope Codifier.
  • This was also the premise of Treasure Hunt US.
  • Deal or No Deal subverts this, in that it's almost always mathematically sound to take the box rather than the deal.
  • Sale of the Century: Two examples on the NBC/syndicated run:
    • "Instant Cash," where a contestant can, in exchange for the amount of his lead, take a 1-in-3 shot at selecting which box held a mini-cash jackpot (two had $100, the other $1,000 plus $1,000 per show until claimed).
    • During the "Fame Game" segment, one card read "Mystery Money or Pick Again," where the contestant could take an unknown cash amount ($2 up to $2,000) or try to select another number.
  • Truth in Game Shows, certainly. In the 1960s (and revived in The Nineties) there was a British show called Take Your Pick, where the contestants had the option of taking either the prize money or the key to Box 13. Related to the Monty Hall Problem.
  • At one point in Boy Meets World, Eric tries to bribe some information out of a hotel desk clerk. The clerk refuses to divulge the information for "Mr. Washington" (a $1 bill) but says he might for "Mr. Franklin" (a $100 bill).

 Eric: Mr. Franklin isn't here, but how about two Mr. Lincolns ($5 bills) and ... a mystery bag! (pulls out small bag with a clown face on it and dangles it in front of the clerk) Maybe it's good. Maybe it's not.

  • On Just Shoot Me, Nina wants a raise, and Jack offers her one... or what's inside the box. She takes the box, of course, which only has a picture of an ugly baby inside (it's one of Maya's baby photos).
  • Pick a Box was one of the earliest shows on Australian TV. It started on radio in 1948, moved to television in 1957 and ran until 1971. The catchPhrase of the program was "The money or the box?".

Video Games

  • Found in, of all places, Call of Duty - World At War when playing Nazi Zombies. Using your points to open a box instead of purchasing a gun is a bit of a crapshoot. You may end up with a sniper rifle (which is horrible to fight zombies with at close range) or the all powerful Ray Gun.
  • Team Fortress 2 has the "Mann Co. Supply Crate" that randomly drops along with everything else. To open it you need to buy a key from the ingame store for $2.50USD. These crates can contain commonly dropped weapons (Enjoy your two dollar Equalizer.), Paint to recolour your hats or a special hat that has a particle effect applied to it. These hats have a <1% chance of actually being in a crate.

Western Animation

  • In The Simpsons, Mr. Burns pulls this out when trying to bribe some nuclear safety inspectors.

 Mr. Burns: You can either have the washer and dryer where the lovely Smithers is standing. Or you can trade it all in (pulls out a box with question marks all over it) for what's in this box.

Inspector: The box! The box!

  • In Family Guy, Peter's offered the chance to get a free boat, but he decides to take the Mystery Box instead, which merely contains tickets to a stand-up comedy show.

 Peter: A boat's a boat, but a mystery box could be anything! It could even be a boat! And you know how much I've wanted one of those!

Lois: Then let's just...

Peter: We'll take the box.

  • In one Looney Tunes cartoon, Daffy Duck turns down the "million box" which has a million smaller boxes inside it... and once Bugs gets the box, it's revealed that each tiny box had a dollar bill inside.
  • In the first episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo, Shaggy and Scooby are offered their choice of a fancy doghouse, the airplane in which they arrived or the Mystery Box. The last is actually the Chest of Demons; when opened, it releases the 13 demons that had been trapped inside.
  • The Jetsons and the Spacelys entered a game show and the Jetsons won. George then had a choice: collect the Grand Prize or whatever was behind the force field. If he picked the force field, Mr. Spacely would get the Grand Prize. Fearing for his job, George chose the prize hidden behind the force field. The force field then revealed a new stove (it was earlier shown to the viewers that the Jetsons needed one) and Mr. Spacely got a set of Cogswell products.
  • Roy Rooster won 1 skillion dollars, a mansion with two kidney-shaped pools (to be anatomically correct) and several other prizes but traded everything for whatever was behind curtain number three. He got a dirty sock. The host commented that he's been on it for years and never gave any money but got rid of several socks already.
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