Rory: These things could do with some air holes.Related to Playing Possum and Trojan Horse, this is when a character hides in a bodybag and is wheeled into a hospital or other facility, then gets out and does his/her mission. If used as a means of escape, may end with the character being Buried Alive — but not for long. A subtrope — and a subversion — of Zipping Up the Bodybag.
Canton: Never had any complaints before.
Canton: Never had any complaints before.
open/close all folders
- Cassidy from Preacher escapes a police raid by hiding in a body bag — one of the police's body bags, to be precise; he slit his own throat and pretended to be a corpse.
- Spanish comic Mortadelo y Filemón moves this a step forward: Main characters need to infiltrate into a hospital. They see a slacker sleeping in the street. The characters impersonate nurses bringing the slacker in a pallet, claiming he needs urgent surgery for appendicitis. The slacker wakes up in the operating theater; when he leaves the hospital, he sees a peer loafing around and warns him: If the staff catches him sleeping, they'll operate him for appendicitis!
- G.I. Joe (IDW): Kwinn and Lighthorse smuggle Snake-Eyes across the border by hiding him a coffin inside a hearse and say they are returning a family member to be buried in his native land.
- Joker pulls a similar trick in The Dark Knight; as a means of getting close to a man who put a bounty on his head he has some of his henchmen bring him in a garbage bag and claim to have killed him.
- In the Hellboy film, Karl Ruprect Kroenen really was dead, but revives himself inside BPRD headquarters.
- This is how Herbert West gets into the morgue in the first Re-Animator film.
- James Bond pulls this off in Octopussy to sneak out of Kamal Khan's palace. He scares the crap out of the people carting the supposed corpse off.
- In Judge Dredd, Rico uses this ploy to escape from Aspen prison.
- Guile hides in a bodybag while pretending to be dead in the Street Fighter movie.
- Happens in The Mask of Zorro, as the way Zorro escapes from prison. Bonus Buried Alive!
- The last part of Rollie's revenge plan in F/X: Murder by Illusion depends on this as his escape plan; unfortunately, Leo sussed out his plan and was waiting for him outside the window.
- In Saw 3D, Hoffman hides in a body bag so he can sneak into the police station and kill Jill Tuck.
- Used in The First Great Train Robbery to smuggle one of the thieves aboard the baggage car.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Jack Sparrow uses the ploy to escape a prison by hiding in a coffin being tossed out to sea.
- In Highlander II: The Quickening, MacLeod and Ramirez get inside the headquarters of an evil Mega Corp. by driving right into a roadblock set by them and getting riddled with bullets. The employees cart them inside in bodybags, unaware of them being immortal.
- In Dead in Tombstone, Guerrero and Calathea sneak past Washington and Snake by hiding at the bottom of a pile of bodies being wheeled past on a mine cart.
- In Zwartboek, the Big Bad, a corrupt and treacherous member of La Résistance in German-occupied Holland, is smuggled away in a coffin by some of his comrades. Unfortunately for him, they've been told about his evil deeds, and deliberately seal the coffin and leave him to suffocate.
- Hilariously used in Johnny English Reborn, when the title character smuggles himself into the secret base.
- The Count of Monte Cristo.
- And (partly) averted: Dantes expects to merely be buried, at which point he can dig himself free and escape. However, he learns the hard way that the Chateau d'If buries its dead at sea - and still manages to escape, even though it's much harder going.
- This is how Matthew Hawkwood and Lassuer are smuggled off the prison hulk in Rapscallion.
- In the Star Trek novel Traitor Winds, Uhura uses this to get out of a hospital without being spotted by a conspiracy that has it in for former Enterprise crew; Christine Chapel is conveniently on hand to provide the bodybag.
- In Room, Ma fakes five-year-old Jack's illness and death so he can escape when Old Nick takes him outside to bury him. This is the only way either of them will be able to get out of Room.
- Used by the Exit organisation in the Phryne Fisher novel Blood and Circuses to smuggle a prisoner out of prison in a coffin.
- In the backstory of John Dickson Carr's Dr Gideon Fell novel The Hollow Man, this is part of the story that leads to the killer's vengeful motivation. Three brothers escaped from a prison by feigning death and allowing themselves to be Buried Alive, but the one who managed to escape from his coffin first ran away and left the other two to die. One survived and pursued him.
- In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean escapes from the convent of Petit-Picpus in a coffin.
Live Action TV
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The episode "Final Escape" subverts this when a male prisoner (female in the remake) plans an escape using this method. The prisoner is supposed to hide in the next coffin being used, then the prison undertaker is supposed to come and dig the coffin up once the coast is clear. When the prisoner feels that they've been waiting too long, they light a match to see that they're buried with ... the undertaker.
- Alias: Sydney Bristow once sneaked into a Uzbek military base this way.
- A variation occurs in Scrubs when JD attempts to escape the hospital so he can go home and have his day off. It goes alright, until he begins talking to the person who wheeled him into the elevator, who panics and hits him with a fire extinguisher.
JD: (in bodybag) Can you press "lobby", please? (Doug starts attacking him) OW! OW! OW! (unzips) Doug! Why are you hitting me?!Doug: 'Cause I thought you were a dead guy coming back to life!JD: ...Then why were you hitting me?!Doug: Dead people should be dead.
- Simon and River of Firefly use this technique to beat the security and get into a mega-hospital in the episode "Ariel." Bonus points for actually making their hearts stop to get in.
- The Carver in Nip/Tuck gets away using this.
- Ari does this to sneak into the morgue in NCIS.
- A variation: in the very first episode, "Yankee White", DiNozzo hides in a body bag as a decoy, while the rest of the gang spirit the real corpse away. Hilarity and severe bruising ensues.
- On The A-Team, there was an episode where Face (who was posing as a priest) smuggled Murdock out of the VA hospital in a casket. They then use it for Coffin Contraband to smuggle their weapons into the foreign country where the episode takes place. That time had an unconscious BA in the casket as well.
- Another variation occurs in an episode of MacGyver. Mac is trying to sneak out of Commie Land in a wooden coffin, but he ends up being discovered and his allies carrying the coffin throw it off the border bridge. Mac blows out the sides and it becomes a jet ski, he makes his escape and then the real plot starts after he gets back to the States.
- Doctor Who, "Day of the Moon".
Rory: These things could really do with airholes!Canton: Never had a complaint before.
- CSI: Catherine and D.B. use this trick to get themselves smuggled back into the lab when a hit team is looking for them in "Willows in the Wind".
- Breakout Kings: In "Steaks", two convicts murder an obese inmate and then hide in his coffin in order to escape.
- Hustle: In "Lest Ye Be Judged", Mickey uses a bodybag to smuggle Emma into the morgue so she can place a false postmortem report in the files.
- In Z Nation the main characters must hide in a morgue from a "zunami" of zombies. Warren has to hide in a body bag as zombies swarm the morgue.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Initiative shoot Werewolf!Oz with a Tranquilizer Dart, then put him in a bodybag to smuggle him off the Sunnydale college campus. As tensions are high among the Initiative soldiers because one of their own was recently killed by a wolf-like demon, the use of a bodybag is ominous.
- The New Avengers: In "Hostage", Purdey's kidnappers carry her out of her flat hidden in a coffin.
- In the fluff of Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution an organization poses as a team of exterminators and removes tranquilized espers from a safehouse by smuggling them in equipment bags.
- You do this with a fake death drug to get CIA agent Smith out of a clinic in Hitman: Blood Money.
- One mission in Grand Theft Auto V has Michael infiltrating a city morgue in order to uncover dirt on a suspected terrorist for his FIB handler Dave Norton. He does this by getting a Tap on the Head from Dave, then sent to the morgue as a John Doe, where he gets up on the slab and scares the living daylights out of the morticians. Notably, if you tilt your head with the right analog stick, you'll get unique dialogue from the doctors about how his corpse is "reanimating", while if you wait too long to get up, the doctors will start cutting you open and kill you for real.
- Assassin's Creed: Syndicate has this as a unique kill opportunity. During the Lambeth Asylum assassination, Jacob can slip into the morgue and hide on a gurney, whereupon he's brought upstairs to his target, a Mad Doctor who's giving a medical presentation. The doctor first notices something is wrong when he sees that his "corpse" is still wearing boots...
- Though no bodybag is used, the protagonist of Planescape: Torment looks ghastly enough to pass as a corpse, and can have himself smuggled into the local morgue when required.
- Dr. Griffin does this in KateModern to escape from an Order facility.
- Used to get Killer Frost into the morgue in Batman: Assault on Arkham.