Corpses can be found in the darnedest places, in fiction. While every Police Procedural
or mystery series uses the routine body-dump sites of alleys, roadsides, dumpsters, harbor bottoms or vacant lots, writers often feel the need to spice up their selection of crime scenes and corpse-disposal methods. When the placement of the corpse becomes so
bizarre that its strange location becomes an element of the mystery's plot — not just Whodunnit, but How/Why'ddeydoitthere
— then it's a Body In A Breadbox. Or duffel bag
. Or refrigerator
. Or whatever.
Sister trope to Dead Man's Chest
, which deals with the mechanics of fitting
a body into a confined space. Often overlaps with Peek-A-Boo Corpse
. Wax Museum Morgue
is a subtrope.
- In the Howard Chaykin The Shadow comic book series, a body is stuffed into the bottle of a office water cooler in the first issue. How this was accomplished is never explained—or even referred to again, as the perpetrator is known, and is pursued for his master plan.
- In an issue of The Maze Agency, a body was stuffed into a drum of liquid nitrogen.
- In Men In Black, Bug Edgar, posing as a waiter, is asked where Little Ivan, the guy he's replaced is. Bug Edgar says he gave him a break, and the camera pans to show that he means this literally, having broken his body in half and stuffed him into a shelf.
- In Tremors, a man who'd been trapped by Graboids for days is found high up on a power pylon, dead of thirst. Another man's head turns up half-buried in the ground, face-up under a hat.
- In the original House on Haunted Hill (1959), Nora finds a (fake) severed head planted in her suitcase.
- Alfred Hitchcock's black comedy The Trouble with Harry features a corpse that pops up in a series of odd places.
- Played With in Top Secret!, with a man being crushed in a car compactor (although the man isn't dead... yet).
- Does 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag count?
- In The Burbs, Corey Feldman finds a mound of bones in the Klopecks' trunk.
- In Donald Westlake's "The Risk Profession", a killer hides a victim by leaving it sealed inside its spacesuit, which he hangs inconspicuously in its storage closet.
- In the Lord Peter Wimsey series:
- In Whose Body?, the body in question is found lying, naked, in the bath of a man who had no previous connection to the living person it had been.
- "The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag" features a carpet-bag containing a severed human head.
- Edward Gorey used this trope in a limerick:
From Number Nine, Penwiper Mews,
There comes most abominable news.
They've discovered a head,
In the box for the bread,
But nobody seems to know whose.
- Corpses turning up in weird places is one of the signature features of Bones, so much so that most episodes' titles refer to the body-of-the-week's location.
- One mummified corpse on NCIS turned up stuffed inside a chimney.
- Inversion: On Homicide, a man's corpse was found at the site of his murder ... inside the morgue.
- In one episode of Picket Fences, a body was stuffed into a home dishwasher.
- Bodies in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise have been found nailed to trees, sealed up in walls, hanging from power lines, embedded in tar, posed like statues in a park, sealed up in an arcade video-game, and sitting behind the wheel of a car that's parked on a rooftop. Body parts have been found in even weirder places, like a head left in a coin-operated newspaper dispenser or a human eyeball dropped into a cup of street-cafe coffee by a passing crow.
- Asked about the unobvious places bodies might be found, Grissom mentioned having once found a head in a bucket of paint.
- Finn, examining a body that was hidden inside a piano, remarks that it's the first one she's found in such an instrument that had its limbs intact.
- Monk has played with this trope:
- In "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk", they find a dead man torn apart in a trash compactor. Not a household one, mind you, but an industrial-size one.
- In "Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation," they first find a body stuffed into an arcade machine. Later on they find the body has been moved; this time it was stuffed into a crate as part of a display.
- In "Mr. Monk Gets Drunk", Adrian has to find a missing body in order to prove that the killing happened in the first place, the body is found in one of the wine barrels.
- The page image is from "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert," where a body is discovered by a maintenance worker forcing open a port-a-potty with a crowbar, coincidentally as Monk and Natalie are walking by.
- In Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii, one of the novels, the body was buried in a luau pit and uncovered when diggers come to dig up a kalua pig.
- An episode of Due South dealt with a body who had been sealed inside the wall at police headquarters.
- In Fringe the discovery of a body stuck in a bank vault wall starts one of their cases.
- Used in the Remington Steele episode "Vintage Steele", which pays homage to the film of Arsenic and Old Lace (see below).
- Murdoch Mysteries, "The Annoying Red Planet": A body is found on a tree and the position is very bizarre and seems to defy laws of physics. Constable Crabtree, resident Agent Mulder, concludes that Martians did it.
- There was an episode of Law & Order that had a body in a cooler.
- On The Wire, a containerload of bodies is found at the Baltimore docks to open season 2. Initially, the deaths are ruled as accidental on the assumption that they were immigrants and their air hole was covered by another container. However, Cowboy Cop McNulty, recently reassigned to the Marine unit, manages to prove that the women were murdered in Baltimore city waters, dumping all the unsolved crimes on his old boss and kick off the plot of Season 2.
- On Warehouse 13, Pete and Myka discover the body of a lost warehouse agent handcuffed to a pipe in the basement of a St. Louis police station.
- In the pilot of Helix, CDC team member Dr. Alan Farragut finds that his brother Dr. Peter Farragut, a research scientist infected with The Virus, has killed a luckless security tech, stripped his clothes and squirreled his corpse away in an Air Vent at the Research, Inc. where he works.
- This is a Discussed Trope in the Supernatural episode "Heart" (S02, Ep17), when Sam says there may be human hearts behind the Häagen-Dazs.
- A wealthy woman's body on Castle was found squeezed into a wall safe. Many of its bones had to be broken to cram her inside.
- In Arsenic and Old Lace and its film adaptation, one of the running gags is hiding the body of Mr. Spenalzo, which gets shuffled around into various places, including a window seat.
- In the flash horror game, Exmortis, you find a dismembered head in a microwave.
- In the Steam bestseller Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you can find random parts all over if you look hard enough.
- Especially in Custom Games, where people have put human torsos over keys in dresser drawers. YMMV, as some levels can be beaten by actually throwing these parts at enemies so they chase them, letting you hide.
- Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: In case two, the victim is a staid, upper-class doctor, whose dead body is found pulling a wheeled noodle stand belonging to his pauper neighbor.
- Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer kept the body parts of his victims in various places in his apartment, including, infamously, a severed head that one of the arresting officers found in his refrigerator.
- Part of Adolf Hitler's skull was allegedly found in Russia, in a box labelled "Blue ink for pens".
- The corpse of Elmer McCurdy was found as a "hanging man" prop in a funhouse. Nobody realized it was actually a corpse...
- One infamous (false) Urban Legend claims that a couple who'd checked into a hotel room for the night complained about a bad smell in the morning, only to have the hotel staff discover a previous guest's corpse stuffed into the mattress they'd just slept and/or had sex on.
- In February 2013, a young woman's decomposing body was found in the rooftop water tank of Los Angeles's Cecil Hotel.
- October 2013: a patient at San Francisco General Hospital dies in a very underutilized stairwell.