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Home Alone Booby Traps Ranked By How Much They'd Hurt

In 1990, director Chris Columbus and writer John Hughes released one of the most beloved Christmas classics of all time. With an all-star cast and a bright young newcomer at its center, "Home Alone" became a must-watch holiday favorite because it's a film about the joys of the season, about the importance of family and forgiveness, and of course, about the true meaning of the holidays.

Of course, "Home Alone" is also a film about an impish little kid who decides the only way to make it through Christmas Eve is to punish the two burglars trying to break into his house not by calling the cops, but by springing a series of elaborate traps on them. If you know "Home Alone," you know we're not just talking about whoopee cushions and squirting flowers. These are brutal, often agonizingly painful booby traps. By the end of the night, the bandits probably needed an emergency room visit as well as a trip to the police station.

But which booby trap is the most painful? That's what we're here to talk about. These are the traps of "Home Alone," ranked from least to most excruciating.

Feathered bandit

There are no doubt levels to the various traps Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) springs over the course of "Home Alone," ranging from the almost deadly to the ones that just leave a bit of a bruise the next day. There's one trap, though, that barely registers on the pain scale at all, at least at first.

In the middle of his siege with the Wet Bandits, Kevin calls out from the family formal dining room for Harry (Joe Pesci), who takes the bait and rips the door open, only to walk straight into a sheet of cling wrap that's been liberally coated with adhesive. He peels the plastic off, walks a little further, and trips a rope that activates a fan, which blows feathers all across this face.

Obviously, this isn't so much a trap as it is a piece of psychological warfare, humiliating the Wet Bandits as they fight to take the McCallister home. It could theoretically be at least a little painful when it comes time to get the feathers off Harry's face, but with a little bit of the right solvent, they'll eventually come right off. No harm, no foul — even if Harry looks like fowl. 

Tripped up

There's a very limited window between Kevin's realization that the Wet Bandits are about to break into his house and the time it actually happens. He's only really got about a day to prepare, and that means that, while some traps are extremely elaborate, others are tried-and-true classics that are simple yet effective, if only for a few moments.

Most of the battle against the Wet Bandits takes place downstairs in the McCallister house. Kevin does a fairly good job of keeping the bandits from climbing up to the second floor. They finally head up the stairs, however. To slow them down just a little longer while he prepares his escape, Kevin carefully places a tripwire on the stair landing.

The wire is firm enough and placed high enough that, when Harry runs into it, it flips him head over heels, sending him sprawling across the floor. Marv (Daniel Stern) is lucky enough to miss it, but because Harry fell, he only manages to grab Kevin's pant leg.

We can file this one under traps that'll leave a mark the next day, but otherwise don't do much in terms of pain. Still, it was a nice stalling tactic.

Micro Machines, big hurt

"Home Alone" writer John Hughes was a master of carefully placing comedic elements in his films that would pay off later, and he does it several times in this film. In the very first scene, Kevin's father reminds him that he has to go downstairs and pick up his Micro Machines, because "Aunt Leslie stepped on one and almost broke her neck."

Kevin uses this information not as a warning, but as good advice later in the film, when he decides to litter the foyer of his home with as many Micro Machines as he can. It pays off spectacularly later. Amid his battle with the Wet Bandits, with Marv in the den of the house and Harry in the dining room, Kevin calls out to them from the top of the stairs. Because each Wet Bandit is on one side of the foyer, they naturally go striding toward the center, and neither of them looks closely enough to sidestep the Micro Machines. It's a beautifully timed comedic pratfall. All those little pieces of plastic lodged in their backs would definitely hurt, but it's not the kind of thing that keeps the bandits down for long.

Going for a swing

Kevin McCallister may be an eight-year-old boy with a knack for annoying his family, but the kid is a master planner, and you can tell by the way the final act of "Home Alone" unfolds. It's not just a random assortment of booby traps that Kevin springs on the Wet Bandits. It's all arranged in such a way as to keep them downstairs for most of the night, then lure them upstairs so he can confuse them enough to make his escape out to his treehouse in the backyard.

It turns out that even the treehouse is primed with one last, very simple trap. Kevin uses bicycle handlebars to Zipline his way to the structure from the attic of the main house, which leaves Harry and Marv with seemingly no choice (they had a choice, they just didn't think clearly) but to climb out after him. Kevin, devious little master planner that he is, waits until they're about halfway out, then cuts the rope at the treehouse end, leaving both bandits swinging down into the brick walls of the house.

Honestly, depending on how deep the snow was, the bandits might have been better off just letting go and landing in the yard. It's the swing into the bricks that probably left the bigger bruises, and maybe even a cracked rib or two.

One doggie door, two shots

Kevin is, luckily for him, a member of an upper-class household in a massive home stocked with all manner of items he can use in his battle against the wet bandits, and he finds at least a couple of them in his brother Buzz's room. Perhaps the most useful of these turns out to be Buzz's BB gun, which is the first trap the kid springs on the Wet Bandits.

Before they do anything else, the bandits decide to simply try the back door of the McCallister house, hoping they can convince Kevin to let them in so they can go about their business. Instead, Kevin responds by reaching the gun out through the doggie door and shooting Harry in the groin. Marv, numbskull that he is, sticks his face through the doggie door to see what's up and gets a BB in the forehead for his trouble.

If you've ever been shot by a BB gun, you know they hurt. They don't always break skin, but they leave massive welts, and if they do break skin they can even get stuck under there. Harry and Marv each took a BB at extremely close range, which means those wounds stung for the rest of the night.

Slippery steps

Sometimes, in a tense survival situation, you have to do your best to let your natural surroundings work for you. For Kevin McCallister, that meant harnessing the power of winter in his home city of Chicago and using it to slow the Wet Bandits down before they even got in the door.

After they both take BB gun shots at the kitchen door, Harry tells Marv to try the McCallister house's basement, while he heads for the front door. As it turns out, Kevin has already thought of both options and covered each staircase with water that has since hardened into sheets of ice on the cold December night.

So, who has the more painful fall? On Marv's end, he slips right away and goes sliding down the basement stairs, hitting every hard edge on the way down and riddling his body with bruises. Harry's tumble is a bit faster, but no less intense, as he falls onto his back and goes into a roll that looks like it's hell on his neck. Let's just call it a tie and say that ice and concrete are never a fun combination.

Christmas cheer, Christmas pain

Unless you're in the habit of walking around outside barefoot to build up tough callouses, the bottoms of your feet are very vulnerable to all manner of nicks, cuts, tears, and pokes. Kevin knows this, probably thanks to having stepped on more than a few of his own toys over the years, and he uses it to his advantage when the Wet Bandits come calling.

After springing a trap in the basement that ensures that someone will lose their shoes and socks if they keep walking (more on that in a minute), Kevin adds an extra layer of foot-based pain in the house with a little window trap in the living room. He leaves the window by the Christmas tree open just a crack, so when Marv — frustrated that going through the basement didn't work for him — happens upon it, he's sure he's found the perfect way in. He's wrong. Marv and his bare feet, come right down on a collection of glass Christmas ornaments and lights, shattering them into his skin in the process. They may not penetrate that deeply, but having a bunch of tiny glass shards in your foot would definitely be a problem for the rest of the night.


When in doubt, just go with a little blunt force trauma. It's a good rule to follow if you're ever in a fight, and it's one that Kevin McCallister seems to have mastered. He uses it more than once over the course of "Home Alone," including one key trap in the basement of the McCallister home.

Early in the film, we see Kevin use his mother's laundry chute as a target practice stage, knocking action figures down from the kitchen into the basement with his brother's BB Gun. By the time the Wet Bandits arrive, he's put it to use by wedging an iron in the door and attaching it to a light bulb in the basement. When Marv pulls the chain, expecting to turn on the light, he instead looks up to find the iron barreling down on him.

You might not think a standard household iron can do that much damage, but when it's coming down at you from at least 10 feet and it hits you square in the face...well, there's a good chance Marv had at least a concussion for his trouble.

Not just for painting

Speaking of blunt force trauma, Kevin's other opportunity to bash the wet bandits in the head with something heavy came later in the film, with one of his very last traps. We've already talked about how carefully Kevin laid out the traps in the film, arranging perimeter defense and then flowing them all the way through to the foyer, where the wet bandits landed on the floor after slipping on Micro Machines. When they finally collected themselves and made their way up the stairs, he was waiting.

Kevin used the winding nature of his family's staircase to string up paint cans at a strategic point the bandits couldn't see from the first floor, then swing them down onto each bandit, connecting right in their faces. We know for sure that Harry lost a tooth thanks to this particular trap, but it's likely both bandits suffered more injuries. The next day their faces were probably rather seriously bruised, and there's a good chance a cracked orbital or nose bone was part of the deal too.

Hot head

So far we've talked about traps that made the Wet Bandits slip and fall, traps that bashed them in the head, even traps that cut their feet. Now, it's time to talk about fire. It's pretty clear from his planning that at least some part of Kevin was hoping that the bandits would turn tail and run before they ever actually got into his house, because he placed two of his most dangerous obstacles right at the doorways of the home.

At first, the bandits avoid the kitchen door because Kevin is lurking there with a gun, but after Harry is foiled at the front door of the house, he decides to try again. He finds the door unlocked, and pushes it open just enough to poke his head in to look around. That's when the pulley system Kevin has rigged up activates the old-school blowtorch aimed right at the top of Harry's head.

First of all, if the taller Marv had done this, it probably would have hit him square in the face. Harry's relatively lucky, as the fire gets only the top of his head. Even then, the flames expend much of their energy burning the stocking cap off his skull. Still, it is a burn, and a very direct one, so there's no way it didn't hurt all night.

Nailed it

"Home Alone" fans can often tell you the funniest trap in the film for them, the one that makes them giggle despite the bandits' pain, but they can also tell you the one that makes them squirm. Though there are probably a few different answers, most people agree on the same one: The Nail.

After fighting his way down the slippery basement steps and then recovering from a direct hit to the face from an iron, Marv is finally able to climb the basement steps leading up into the McCallister house proper. What he finds as he starts climbing, though, is that Kevin has painted each step with a heavy coating of tar. Thinking it's just sticky stuff that the kid put there to slow him down, he keeps climbing even as his shoes and socks are pulled off his feet. Then, he steps on the carefully placed upturned nail Kevin hid on one of the steps.

Watching that nail sink into Marv's foot is painful when all you're doing is sitting on the couch, so we can only imagine how much it might have hurt if it was real. That thing went deep.

Dangerous doorknob

As painful as all the other traps in "Home Alone" are, as much as we imagine it would sting to get a BB gun shot to the groin or a shard of a Christmas ornament in your foot, there's only one trap that can rank as the most painful thing either Wet Bandit goes through on that Christmas Eve night. It comes early in the film, but it leaves a mark so lasting you can literally see it in the film's sequel.

After Kevin thwarts them with his BB gun at the kitchen door, Harry tells Marv to try the basement, while he heads to the front door of the McCallister home. It's a hard door to reach because Kevin has slicked the stairs with ice, but Harry keeps fighting. By the time he actually gets to the door, he's so irritated and distracted that he doesn't notice the doorknob is glowing red. Thanks to a carefully placed electric charcoal starter on the other side of the door, that knob is a branding iron. When Marv grabs it, he gets burns so serious that he has a big "M" on his palm for the rest of his life. If you know anything about burns, you know that pain doesn't go away for a long time, and you also know there's probably some nerve damage that eventually comes along with it. Of all the "Home Alone" traps, that's the one that stings the most.