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Timon: What's the plan?Timon: Good idea--HEY!
Simba: Live bait.
The Heroes need to lure the Big Bad into a trap.
For this you are going to need bait. While you could use a MacGuffin, we all know that the best bait, is live bait.
If you're the Heroes then you need to look for volunteers. There are two versions that pop up. The first is one of the Heroes agrees to be The Bait risking a Heroic Sacrifice. The other version is for the resident Butt Monkey or Chew Toy to become a Less Than Willing Volunteer. A common resulting conversation in a Five-Man Band is as follows:
The Hero: I'll be the bait.
The Lancer: What are you talking about? I'll be the bait, you need to lead the attack. Just make sure you don't screw it up, 'cause if I end up dead I'll kill you.
The Chick: If this is to succeed it will need both of you. I'll be the bait. (It's all I'm good for anyways.)
Hero & Lancer strenuously disagree with this idea.
The Big Guy: I could be the bait.
Everybody else looks at him like he's crazy because who would even'' think ''of the Big Guy as bait?
Comic Relief Guy or The Smart Guy: Hey don't look at me, I'm not gonna be the bait!
Of course the bait ends up being The Smart Guy (Cue the "Why do I always have to be The Bait" whining) or it ends up being The Chick. Occasionally it will end up being The Lancer, which is more likely if he and The Hero are Rivals.
Sometimes the argument between Hero and Lancer will get so fierce that, instead of volunteering to be bait, The Chick or whoever will just sneak out and make themselves bait, while the argument rages on.
Villains usually just get themselves a hostage for bait -- although occasionally a Mook will get stuck with the job. Being villains, they usually are not happy about it.
- On the rare occasions on Pokémon where the kids need live bait for a plan, they either go for Team Rocket or Ash. The giant Claydol had Ash and James (dressed as eggplants no less).
- Lelouch Lamperouge of Code Geass uses his Geass to make himself forget that his partner Suzaku has disarmed the bomb keeping his sister hostage. Using himself as The Bait to distract the Mind Reading Mao to buy time for Suzaku to get close enough to catch Mao without him realizing it.
- Marv and Dwight both do this in Sin City. Marv draws Kevin out into a series of traps by firebombing his house. Dwight draws Manute and his men out to a back alley by using Miho's archery skills.
- This was basically Shinji's role against the 3rd Harbinger Asherah in Aeon Entelechy Evangelion.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, Larkin wanders into the Jantine Patrician quarters and runs when he spots some of them. They give chase and are struck down by his companions. Only then does Larkin complain that he always gets to be the bait.
- Both played straight (with Tracy) and subverted (with Lindsey) in Into the Storm. The girls' employer is conducting training sessions against Navy SEALS, and at different times they get tapped to play the hostage. In Lindsey's case, she was told to make sure both teams lost by sneaking out of the field.
- In James Swallow's Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, Iskavan is told that his entire force has been sacrificed as bait to draw the Blood Angels in -- and is jeered at for not even being able to die when he ought.
- The Tripods. In order to capture one of the Masters, the protagonist rides a green-painted (to catch their attention) horse past one of their Tripods, and when it gives chase lures it into a hidden pit.
- In Chris Roberson's Imperial Fists novel Sons of Dorn, Captain Taelos suspects something about his being left with the scouts on-planet. He learns in due course that the rest of their force had lurked until the scouts had drawn out the full Chaos force (and died nearly to the last man).
- In Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive the bridgemen are this.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Devil in Iron" Octavia is used to lure Conan.
- In "The Frost Giants Daughter," the title character lures Conan into a trap -- and discovers this is not wise unless you know that your defenders can take him.
- In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Invincible, Geary sets up the fleet in a compact formation to provide the bear-cows with a nice neat target.
- Bait duty debates happen a lot on Buffy, and usually Xander gets the job, being as he's the Butt Monkey of the series.
- In Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Sailor Venus takes on this role for much of the show. She sees this as a good use of her life because she has a terminal illness and knows she'll reincarnate before long anyway.
- In Dragon Age 2, Isabela's personal quest in chapter 3 requires her to take on the role of bait.
- The function of several cards in Magic: The Gathering. One of the best examples is the Taunting Elf, which has the ability that when it attacks, everything capable of blocking it has to. This can be used to allow all the other creatures to attack unimpeded, or to lure out a creature that normally wouldn't be used as a blocker. Since the elf is a 0/1 and thus unless enhanced is incapable of dealing or taking any damage, it generally doesn't survive the process.
- In Order of the Stick, Belkar -- he did not even figure it out first.
- In Endstone, Pablo proposes it, for dragons.
- In Blue Yonder, Jared wants to escape to the open so that the attackers who took his parents and sister will come after him. He succeeds.
- In Sinfest, Satan includes a girl among other baits.
- Scooby Doo, need I say more?
- Iago, from Aladdin, much to his everlasting chagrin.
- The baby dinosaurs in Land Before Time use poor little Ducky for this.