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Saved By The Coffin
Our hero eludes danger or discovery by hiding in a coffin.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-09-06 21:49:07 sponsor: Quatic (last reply: 2014-05-27 16:51:58)

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Occasionally our hero (or, possibly, our villain) will escape discovery or death by hiding in a coffin. Bonus points of the coffin is the hero's own coffin, especially if their enemy had made it to taunt the hero; or, if it is somebody else's and contains an actual dead body while being used as a shield. May involve (or be involved in) Faking the Dead, as with the Bodybag Trick (though in this instance no fakery is required).

  • Rosewood. The hero's mother is killed by white racists attacking the black town, and the hero himself is smuggled out in her coffin.
  • Terminator III. Ahnuld carries the hero and his girl through a hail of bullets and out of harms way in a steel coffin.
  • In Once Bitten, Mark and his Love Interest hide in a coffin when the Countess and her aide are searching the house for them. It doesn't hide them for very long, but long enough for the Love Interest to very quickly relieve Mark of his virginity, rendering him unsuitable for the vampiress's tastes.
  • In A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood's nameless character hides in a coffin and watches the rival gangs running the town go at each other.
  • Possibly Older than You Think — Laurel and Hardy used this in one of their first films, A-Haunting We Will Go, where they are escorting a coffin, not knowing that a criminal gang leader has hidden in it to escape the police.
  • In Funeral in Berlin this is supposed to be the method by which an East German defector is to be smuggled to the west; but the whole thing is a Soviet setup to catch the ones who smuggle out defectors.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow hides with a dead man in a coffin to escape from prison at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mans Chest.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword sets fire to the tomb complex Indy and Dr. Schneider are exploring for clues to the Holy Grail. The pair overturn Sir Richard's coffin as shelter from the flames.
  • Zwartboek:
    • The Jewish refugee Rachel passes through German inspection to her new hiding place by posing as a corpse and smuggled by a pair of sympathetic undertakers.
    • Subverted at the end when the treacherous Dr. Franken tries to escape with his loot through Allied inspection by hiding in a coffin transported by a corrupt undertaker he paid off. He is intercepted by the surviving two resistance members, and suffocated by bolting the casket shut.

  • In Moby-Dick, Ishmael survives the sinking of the Pequod by clinging to the coffin intended for Queequeg.
  • A slight variation, in The Count of Monte Cristo, hero Edmond Dantès is imprisoned in a cell next to a priest, whom he befriends after the priest accidentally tunnels into Dantès' cell while trying to escape. When the priest dies, and his body is put in a bag for disposal, Dantès uses the tunnel to sneak the priest's body into Dantès' cell, and then puts himself in the bag. He expected dig himself out of a shallow grave, but instead was thrown into the sea. His panicked yelling tipped the guards off to the escape, but they thought he'd drowned.
  • Pyramids: When Teppic rescues Ptraci from the prison, he hides her in an empty sarcophagus, leaving it open a crack. The next morning, the Genre Savvy high priest Dios comes along, spots the slightly ajar coffin, triumphantly has the guards open it, to reveal... wood shavings. Ptraci had gone out earlier to answer nature's call, and once the confused Dios had left (even checking the sarcophagus containing the king's mummy), went back into hiding.

Live-Action TV
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures. Galactic undertakers try to steal the Doctor's TARDIS by faking evidence of the Doctor's death so that two of his former companions will come to the funeral, where their memories can be harnessed to create a key to the TARDIS; the Doctor shows up and gets the companions to remember all of their adventures, overloading the memory capturing machine, which, naturally starts counting down towards blowing up. The companions survive by hiding in the lead-lined coffin created for the Doctor.
  • In the MacGyver episode "Deathlock", Mac uses this ploy to be carried out of East Germany (with stolen microfilm).
  • Dexter eludes the police when they raid the Trinity Killer's house (he was there to kill Trinity) by hiding in a coffin that Trinity had made himself until enough time had passed that Dexter (a member of the police department) could realistically have arrived.

Video Games
  • In Skyrim, a Dark Brotherhood aligned Dovahkiin needs to hide inside the Night Mother's coffin when The Penitus Oculatus raze the Falkreath sanctuary.
  • In one Punisher video game, Frank Castle hides in a coffin in order to ambush Gnucci family thugs
  • Justified in the opening cinematic of The Witcher. Geralt hides inside a striga's stone sarcophagus both for protection and because his contract is to cure the striga, King Foltest's daughter Adda. Spending a night near a striga's coffin breaks the curse long enough for one to suppress it with various charms, and the stone lid is just handy protection.
  • Near the end of Laura Bow 2, Laura evades the killer by hiding in a sarcophagus.
  • Joked with in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, where you save your game by going to your coffin.

Real Life
  • In real life, Rabbi Yohanan Ben-Zakai hid in a coffin to escape the Roman siege of Jerusalem; the coffin was carried outside the city by his followers for his 'burial.'
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