Created By: SharleeD on December 19, 2013 Last Edited By: SharleeD on February 28, 2014
Troped

Carpet-Rolled Corpse

A human body is transported covertly by rolling it up inside a carpet

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Trope
A (if not the) classic method for murderers, kidnappers, or smugglers to covertly transport a human body, dead or alive, is to lay it out on a carpet and roll it up inside. It's quick, tidy, and comparatively innocuous; unlike blankets, a rolled carpet does not sag or fold out of shape, and it's unlikely to seep fluids like normal cloth or tear like plastic bags can.

If used with a dead body, this trope allows a killer to carry off any evidence on the rug along with the corpse. With a living kidnap victim, they're restrained by the thick material and their cries are muffled; while suffocation is a risk, it can be made less likely if the carpet's ends are left uncovered (although pressure on the chest still poses a breathing hazard). Either way, a rolled-up carpet remains one of the few heavy cylindrical objects that can be hauled around in public without attracting much attention.

Out-of-character, this trope was first popularized in the theater, where it let an actor be discreetly carried off-stage after their death scene, rather than hauled off in full view and at risk of Corpsing.

Subtrope of Disposing of a Body, and one standard technique for a Cleanup Crew. Sister trope to Bag of Kidnapping if the body in transit is a living captive. Rarely, a person might arrange to have this trope applied to themselves, possibly as a Trojan Horse.

Often a Death Trope, so unmarked spoilers may follow.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • Crime Does Not Pay #132: In the story "A Fat Tip for Murder", the murderer rolls his second victim in a carpet to transport her to the hospital where they both work to disguise her as an anatomy class specimen. Like all the stories in the series, loosely based on a Real Life event.
  • In one of the Sin City short stories, Schlubb and Klump are sent to dispose of what they think is a body rolled up in a carpet (it has a pair of boots sticking out of one end), and are told not to look inside. It actually turns out to be a test of whether they can follow orders, and the carpet blows up when they try to steal the boots.

Film
  • Inextricably associated with gangster movies, originally because it (like the Chalk Outline) allowed directors working under the strictures of Moral Guardians to imply the presence of a dead body without actually showing one on-screen.
  • In The Punisher (2004), the Big Bad Howard Saint has the body of his associate Quentin wrapped in a carpet when he confronts his wife Livia over her supposed infidelity.
  • In The Machinist, Reznik kills the monstrous Ivan after he finds that he killed a little boy in his bathtub. He wraps Ivan's body in his carpet and drives it out to sea to dump it. When the carpet rolls open by accident Reznik finds that the body is missing, the answer only being revealed later on.
  • In the live-action film of Hogfather, a young woman with a part-time job as a tooth fairy is abducted by villains who roll her up in a carpet.
  • In "Film/Act of Valor" when Lisa Morales is kidnapped while playing Scrabble with Walter Ross. The gangsters knock her out, cut a square into the carpet she is on and roll her up in it.

Literature
  • In Pyramids, Ptraci is inspired by an old palace story to have herself wrapped in a carpet to be unrolled as a "gift" to Pteppic. Between the lint and the dizziness of being unrolled, it turns out less romantic than she'd expected it to.
  • Done in Everworld with the twist that the body was a living friend, but his friends were trying to smuggle him.
  • Mathias Sandorf by Jules Verne: Pescade had managed to reach the abducted Sava, when two of the abductors are about to enter the room. Pescade rolls himself into a carpet, then keeps rolling into the darkest corner of the room to hide.
  • In the young adult novel The Undertaker's Gone Bananas by Paul Zendel, the teenage protagonists find that their neighbor has his wife's body and his girlfriend's head rolled up in a carpet. They end up stealing his car, with the carpet attached to the roof, and taking in on a high-speed chase in order to get the cops to believe their story.
  • In Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, it is described how Cleopatra smuggles herself into Julius Caesar's apartment in either a bedsack or the coverlet of a bed (depending on translation), carried by Apollodorus, the Sicilian.

Live-Action TV
  • On the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "The Cadaver", a college prank convinces a student that he'd murdered the dead body (actually an anatomy class specimen) left in his dormitory bed while drunk. He wraps it up in a rug and drives away to bury it in secret.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena, posing as Cleopatra, has herself delivered to Gaius Julius Caesar wrapped in a carpet.
  • Briefly discussed in an episode of Bones where a skeleton is found bowed backwards with its feet touching the hands. Speculating how it got that way, Booth suggests that maybe someone put a dead body in a carpet which rotted away along with the flesh. Brennan starts laughing, saying that that would have taken thousands of years.
  • On an episode of Major Crimes the murderer wraps a body in a carpet and drags it to the street hoping it will be collected with the trash. Unfortunately it is a nice carpet, so a couple of college kids take it back to their dorm without realizing it contains a body until they unroll it.
  • Played straight in American Horror Story: Coven. Fiona murders Madison in cold blood and is promptly rolled up in a carpet by the butler/secret-keeper Spalding and taken away. The carpet is obviously missing afterward, which baffles the others in the house.

Tabletop Games
  • Dying Earth RPG adventure "The Exasperating Cadaver" on the Dying Earth website. The PCs are hired to deliver a "package", which turns out to be a body wrapped up in a carpet. They later discover that the body is actually still alive but drugged.

Western Animation
  • Done in Archer to dispose of a dead hooker. Referenced many more times when other people seemingly die, though it rarely actually happens.
  • Played with in one Mister Magoo cartoon, when Magoo wanders into a house used as a hideout by criminals and finds a rolled up rug in a closet, thinking it's a corpse, while he passes a man tied up on the floor and thinks it's a rolled up rug.
  • The Simpsons: In a Treehouse of Horror segment there's a Bottomless Pit in the woods near Springfield where people dump stuff they don't want anybody to ever find. We see the Springfield Mafia dump a carpet (presumably with body enclosed) down the pit.
  • Occurs early in The Simpsons Movie when Fat Tony and his thugs arrive at Lake Springfield with a rolled-up carpet. Police Chief Wiggum deters them, stating that no further waste dumping will occur at the lake. Though his fellow officers are suspicious, Chief Wiggum points out that Fat Tony mentioned "yard waste," so there couldn't be a corpse in the carpet roll.

Real Life
  • Many murder victims have been found wrapped up in carpets at body-dump sites.

Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • December 19, 2013
    Paradisesnake
  • December 19, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • Done in Archer to dispose of a dead hooker. Referenced many more times when other people seemingly die, though it rarely actually happens.

    • Done in Everworld with the twist that the body was a living friend, but his friends were trying to smuggle him.
  • December 19, 2013
    kjnoren
    This shouldn't be limited to hiding corpses, or even kidnapping victims. It's a "classic" hiding trick. I think I remember one of the characters in Mathias Sandorf by Jules Verne rolled himself into a mattress to hide in one scene.

    Hidden In A Carpet maybe?
  • December 19, 2013
    SharleeD
    The title mentions corpses because it's by far the most common variant of this trope, that springs to mind immediately if you see a character hauling a carpet that looks like it might contain a dead body. Also, this one's more about transporting a body covertly than merely concealing one. But you're right: it needs to include cases where someone is smuggled in this way voluntarily.
  • December 20, 2013
    Arivne
    Formatted the Examples section.
  • December 20, 2013
    kjnoren
    Checked the hiding example:

    Literature:

    • Mathias Sandorf by Jules Verne: Pescade had managed to reach the abducted Sava, when two of the abductors are about to enter the room. Pescade rolls himself into a carpet and into the darkest corner of the room to hide.
  • December 20, 2013
    TonyG
    Played with in one Mister Magoo cartoon, when Magoo wanders into a house used as a hideout by criminals and finds a rolled up rug in a closet, thinking it's a corpse, while he passes a man tied up on the floor and thinks it's a rolled up rug.
  • December 20, 2013
    Djanchorhead
    In the 2004 Punisher movie. The Big Bad Howard Saint has the body of his associate Quentin wrapped in a carpet when he confronts his wife Livia over her supposed infidelity.
  • December 20, 2013
    foxley
    In one of the Sin City short stories, Schlubb and Klump are sent to dispose of what they think is a body rolled up in a carpet (it has a pair of boots sticking out of one end) and are told not to look inside. It actually turns out to be a test of whether they can follow order, and the carpet blows up when they try to steal the boots.
  • December 21, 2013
    SKJAM
    In Crime Does Not Pay #132, the story "A Fat Tip for Murder", the murderer rolls his second victim in a carpet to transport her to the hospital where they both work to disguise her as an anatomy class specimen. Like all the stories in the series, loosely based on a real life event.
  • December 21, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dying Earth RPG adventure "The Exasperating Cadaver" on the Dying Earth website. The PCs are hired to deliver a "package", which turns out to be a body wrapped up in a carpet. They later discover that the body is actually still alive but drugged.
  • December 21, 2013
    JoeG
    • In the young adult novel The Undertaker's Gone Bananas by Paul Zendel the teenage protagonists find that their neighbor has his wife's body and his girlfriend's head rolled up in a carpet. They end up stealing his car, with the carpet attached to the roof, and taking in on a high-speed chase in order to get the cops to believe their story.
  • December 21, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • Xena Warrior Princess: Xena, posing as Cleopatra, has herself delivered to Gaius Julius Caesar wrapped in a carpet.
    • Briefly discussed in an episode of Bones where a skeleton is found bowed backwards with its feet touching the hands. Speculating how it got that way, Booth suggests that maybe someone put a dead body in a carpet which rotted away along with the flesh. Brennan starts laughing, saying that that would have taken thousands of years.

    Real Life: Cleopatra delivered herself to Julius Caesar like this.
  • December 23, 2013
    kjnoren
    Did a check of the Cleopatra example. and this trope is Older Than Feudalism, even if it started with a variation.

    I think this should go under Literature, since Plutarch wrote things down almost a hundred years after the events.

    Literature:

    • In Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, it is described how Cleopatra smuggles herself into Julius Caesar's apartment in either a bedsack or the coverlet of a bed (depending on translation), carried by Apollodorus, the Sicilian.
  • December 24, 2013
    Morgenthaler
    As this is frequently a Death Trope, there should probably be a spoiler warning at the top.

    The Punisher 2004 has its own page, so should be linked.

    • In The Machinist, Reznik kills the monstrous Ivan after he finds that he killed a little boy in his bathtub. He wraps Ivan's body in his carpet and drives it out to sea to dump it. When the carpet rolls open by accident Reznik finds that the body is missing, the answer only being revealed later on.

  • December 25, 2013
    JoeG
    • On an episode of Major Crimes the murderer wraps a body in a carpet and drags it to the street hoping it will be collected with the trash. Unfortunately it is a nice carpet, so a couple of college kids take it back to their dorm without realizing it contains a body until they unroll it.
  • December 26, 2013
    kjnoren
  • December 26, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Habeus Corpus Carpetus. Or Habeus Corpus Vestis if you want genuine Latin instead of Canis Latinicus.

    • The Simpsons: In a Treehouse Of Horror segment there's a Bottomless Pit in the woods near Springfield where people dump stuff they don't want anybody to ever find. We see the Springfield Mafia dump a carpet (presumably with body enclosed) down the pit.
  • December 26, 2013
    robbulldog
    The Mythbusters examined this particular trope in one episode.
  • December 26, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^^ Carpet Of Concealment might make it sound like when a trap door is hidden by a carpet, unfortunately.

    ^ Details?
  • December 26, 2013
    Lakija
    I like the current title, just for the record.

    • Played straight in American Horror Story Coven. Fiona murders Madison in cold blood and is promptly rolled up in a carpet by the butler/secret-keeper Spalding and taken away. The carpet is obviously missing afterward, which baffles the others in the house.
  • December 26, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Occurs early in The Simpsons Movie when Fat Tony and his thugs arrive at Lake Springfield with a rolled-up carpet. Police Chief Wiggum deters them, stating that no further waste dumping will occur at the lake. Though his fellow officers are suspicious, Chief Wiggum points out that Fat Tony mentioned "yard waste," so there couldn't be a corpse in the carpet roll.
  • December 27, 2013
    DAN004
    Title's good enough for me already.
  • December 27, 2013
    m8e
    I would prefer Carpet Rolled Body.
  • December 27, 2013
    DAN004
    Would a carpet-rolled stolen thing count?
  • December 28, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^ Only if it was played as a subversion, where it looks like there could be a body inside but it turns out to be a stolen statue or whatever.
  • December 29, 2013
    eroock
    Like this trope. When does it go live?
  • December 29, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Changed the incorrect namespacing in the American Horror Story Coven example. There is no namespace called "LiveTV".
  • January 3, 2014
    SharleeD
    Any more examples? If not, it'll be launched once there are enough hats.
  • January 3, 2014
    kjnoren
    I still think the name should be changed.

    Also, the current laconic can be slightly shortened and put in as the first sentence of the trope: "A body, dead, kidnapped, or just in need of cover, is hidden by rolling it up inside a carpet."

    As a rule of thumb, the first sentence and paragraph of the description should go to defining the trope. Discussing how and when it's used, or in which case, or the exact boundaries can come later. I'm also a fan of writing the laconic so that it also works as the trope definition, but that's just me.
  • February 28, 2014
    robbulldog
    Web Original
    • Often referenced in Bastard Operator From Hell, including this threat to an annoying boss
      "That was just a bit of voltage," I say. "This is just a roll of old carpet. This is just a spade and those are just bags of lime. This is just a map of abandoned forest trails with vehicle access. Ordinarily I would treat this like every stupid and uninformed request and just ignore it - BUT IF YOU WANT - I can make an exception in this case. Is that what you'd like?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=vwh4i3tpzsc6c5em4z8nwsjq&trope=CarpetRolledCorpse