Eventually it all falls apart.
"I seem to be spending a lot more time in closets since I got 'ere."
Someone has to hide some person from parties out searching for them, or whose presence would be rather awkward to explain. So they quickly herd the person into a closet, into an adjoining room, under a bed, or some other place (the more cramped and uncomfortable the hiding place, the more Hilarity Ensues
A classic screwball comedy usage is to have this keep on happening, with new hiding places becoming harder to find or more obvious.
Close cousin to Curtain Camouflage
. For added hilarity, combine with The Stateroom Sketch
. Might overlap with the other kind of "closet" if the hidden character is a secret same-sex romantic partner.
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Anime & Manga
- In the 7th novel of Haruhi Suzumiya, Mikuru from one week in the future drags Kyon into the broom closet to hide from her present-time self. Bonus points in that her present self is actually undressing and she's trying to prevent Kyon from seeing.
- Code Geass
- In the "Cupid's Day" episode, when Lelouch looks in horror at the stampede of girls charging towards him, Rolo immobilizes everyone with his Geass and drags Lelouch into the closet right behind him to make it look like he just disappeared into the air.
- Lelouch shoves CC under his bed just as Suzaku enters the room in a sound episode from the first season, and in the school festival episode of the second season he pushes her into a basin of tomatoes to keep Shirley from seeing her.
- Happens on the Class Trip in Toradora!. Taiga and the boys in the closet hear things they weren't supposed to hear; drama ensues.
- In The World God Only Knows: Keima Katsuragi uses his (quite real) sickness to make Ayumi fall for him, but when Chihiro unexpectedly arrives he hides her right next to him, under the bedsheets, and then proceeds to romance Chihiro. He even manages to make them both fall more for him at the same time, but not without making Ayumi pass out covered in sweat due to his hotness. The scene is a lot funnier than it sounds.
- A Textbook perfect example occur's in Claymade's The Dark Lords Of Nerima with Genma posing as Tōfū trying to hide Ryōga from the Senshi and all the time being interrupted by people who will be recognised and blow the whole gaffe whom Genma has to hide while distracting Ami so she won't notice.
- In the Glee fanfic All New, the Warblers go on a school trip to Europe to visit the show choir at a German school. The first day there, they are split into groups and assigned guides from the German choir. Kurt and two of his fellow Warblers, Adam and Simon, end up hiding from their guides inside a toilet cubicle. Hilarity Ensues.
- A fanfic called Birthday Gifts has the protagonist turning legal, and all girls in his Unwanted Harem successively knock on his door to "confess their love", only to be interrupted by the next one before things get steamy and quickly hide in increasingly improbable places, including An Ice Person hiding in the freezer.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- Used by the Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera, Horse Feathers and Monkey Business:
Thelma Todd: What are you doing in that closet?
Groucho: Nothing — come on in!
- Four Weddings and a Funeral does this.
- The Man with the Golden Gun: James Bond puts Mary Goodnight in a closet so he can make time with Andrea Anders. Ms. Goodnight is not pleased.
- Early in Live and Let Die, an Italian Secret Service agent is forced to hide in Bond's closet when M drops in unexpectedly. Moneypenny sees her, but keeps quiet.
- The Fifth Element has a rather spectacular example of this trope involving multiple people and a truly improbable selection of hiding places (including a freezer and a self-making pull-out bed). None of the people he hid enjoyed their hiding places very much. Leelo got wet and cold when the shower began its self clean, the military guys got frozen, and the priest nearly suffocated under the plastic that the bed wraps itself in.
- In the movie Confessions from a Holiday Camp (which has appeared on the IMDB Bottom 100 list), a character tells one of his lovers to hide in the closet because someone's coming. Shortly afterwards, he sends the new arrival into the same closet to hide her from yet another visitor. The process repeats until the closet is completely full of people that are supposed to be hiding from each other.
- Non-comedic example: In The Faculty, while breaking into the teacher's lounge looking for a scoop, Casey and Delilah hide in a broom when they hear teachers approaching. It's from there that they witness the school nurse being taken over and discover a dead body.
- Another spectacular example can be found in the 1949 film The Inspector General: two in a closet, one in a chest, one under a bed, and one on top of a canopy bed. Although the last one didn't work out so well...
- What's New Pussycat? takes this to absurd levels, climaxing in a hotel where all the guests (except the protagonist, he hopes) is hiding an illicit affair with someone else. At one point, in fact, Victor (Woody Allen) lets a woman hide in the closet of the room he's in with his date... then does the same with the man chasing her.
Date: Oh, Victor! I can't let you make love to me with someone in the closet!
Victor: Oh really, how many people in the closet do you need?
- In Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo, several people hide in a house when Antoine appears. Deuce's "male madame" T.J. pulls Kate's blind roommate Bergita into a closet. When they emerge from the closet minutes later, they're rumpled and post-coital, and Bergita's blindness has been cured! "You're black? (grins) I knew it!"
- The original Pink Panther movie features this done with Clouseau's wife trying to hide two people from Clouseau. Of course, he doesn't notice, even as their hiding places get less and less hidden.
- Blue Velvet, only it's not Played for Laughs but played for horror.
- In Zorro The Gay Blade, the governor's wife makes a pass at Don Diego in his bedroom, then gets shoved in a coffin-like box when her husband arrives. Conversing with Diego, the governor has a fit of temper and runs the box through with his sword, but his wife is unharmed when Diego checks on her once they're alone.
- La Reine Margot hides her lover the Duke de Guise in her closet when her husband makes a surprise visit. It shouldn't be a surprise given its their wedding night, but she pretty much forbade him to come to her.
- A mild-mannered zookeeper in Fierce Creatures winds up in a closet with a half-naked girl and a live sheep.
- In A Hard Days Night, Paul McCartney's grandfather steals a hotel worker's suit and locks him in the closet of the suite where The Beatles are staying. Hilarity Ensues when they come back.
- This happens in Victor/Victoria when King tries to find out if Victor[ia] is really a man or a woman. King's poor bodyguard gets the worse end of the deal, being trapped out on the balcony in the snow.
- A burglar is robbing a house when he hears the owner coming. He flees into the closet, but it turns out the owner is a singing instructor, and she's working with a less-than-promising student. Partway into the lesson, the burglar stumbles out and demands, "Call the police!"
- A Russian joke that takes this Up to Eleven:
A man comes home after a business trip late one evening and hears a sound from the bedroom. He opens the door to find his wife on the bed, which is rumpled. Thinking nothing of it, he changes and goes to sleep. Later, in the middle of the night, a naked man with a knife jumps out of the wardrobe and shouts: "I am fugitive criminal Ivanov!" and then runs through the door. A few seconds after that another naked man jumps out of the wardrobe and shouts "I am police detective Petrov, have you seen where fugitive criminal Ivanov went?" The confused husband gestured to the door. "Thank you, citizen—SWAT team, follow me!"
- In one of the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson books, the entire Ace Gang are forced to hide from "Wet" Lindsay in a toilet cubicle, and struggle not to crack up as they hear her talking to her friends.
- In Lord Byron's Don Juan, Juan's first lover hides him from her husband, his lawyer and a mob of the town's menfolk... under a scrunched-up blanket. It works. Alas, they didn't hide his shoes...
- In Jennifer Crusie's Faking It, Davy and Tilda meet when they are both hiding in someone else's closet.
- In one of the Flashman novels, the title protagonist reminisces that he once had to hide under a bed when a lady he was with heard her husband coming. He found a private detective already there, and they both had to wait under the bed while the lady and her husband occupy themselves above them.
- Once La Reine Margot hides both her husband and her lover in the same cabinet, at the same time.
- In the Arabian Nights, a woman hides the chief of police, the judge, the vizier and the king in her closet, each time saying her husband will be home soon. This actually isn't true, and it's just a plot by the woman to humiliate the dignitaries. Which she does, because they end up stuck in there so long that they all pee on each other.
- In The Burglar in the Rye,  Bernie Rhodenbarr hides in the shower when his victim returns early. In The Burglar on the Prowl, he hides under the bed. In The Burglar in the Closet, he hides in the closet.
- Mentioned in one of the Girls books by Jacqueline Wilson. Ellie recalls an occasion where she, Magda and Nadine hid in a toilet cubicle to avoid a gym class with a Sadist Teacher; but the teacher found them, ordered "the girl with six feet" out of the stall, and forced them to run laps as punishment.
- In an episode, everyone except Rachel and Ross ends up hiding in Monica's bedroom as Rachel and Ross break up in the lounge room. Later subverted when Rachel and Ross had another highly emotional fight with the other four characters trapped in the same room. Joey, in a rare moment of planning ahead, stashed a box of food, drinks, a deck of cards and other entertainments in the room after the last time, just in case. He also included condoms, "just in case [they] had to repopulate the Earth."
Chandler: And condoms are going to help us do that?
- Ross is also trapped under sofas and beds in multiple later episodes.
- Another episode had Joey needing to be hidden from Ross when he was checking up on Rachel. Monica and Chandler, in the adjacent room, pull him in while Rachel's back is turned. The result is similar to a Gaslighting; since Rachel doesn't know where Joey is, she spends the rest of the scene looking for him.
- This happens all the time on Desperate Housewives, but the most memorable was when tiny Eva Longoria managed to hide in a suitcase. Not even a very big suitcase.
- In the episode of The Burns And Allen Show "Silky Thompson; Gracie Writes 'My Life with George Burns'", Gangster Silky Thompson is hidden in the closet to avoid the police. Just then Harry Morton comes in looking to hide from a man he sold a swamp to.
Gracie: That's a shame, Harry. Had you come only a minute sooner you could have had a nice spacious closet, now you'll have to make do with the bedroom upstairs.
George: Make a reservation next time!
- In Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm hides under his girlfriend's bed to avoid being seen by her father. When the father asks what's going on, she gives a Sarcastic Confession. He then sits her down for a heart-to-heart on top of the bed, leaving Malcolm to be tortured in silence.
- The I Love Lucy episode "Drafted" involved a misunderstanding which caused Ricky and Fred to think the women were pregnant and Lucy and Ethel to think the men had been drafted. Accordingly, they plan a baby shower and a going away party, respectively, for each other. To keep the parties secret until the right time, they all shove all of their guests into the Ricardos' tiny closet—giving them a huge human knot to untangle at the end of the episode.
- An episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody includes a scene that is a direct homage to the closet scene from A Night at the Opera.
- In Against The Wall, Abby has to hide under the bed when her drunken brother comes over to visit Brody with whom she is in a Secret Relationship.
- Inadvertant example in The West Wing when Ainsley, getting a bit stressed while waiting in Leo McGarry's office to meet President Bartlet, has a bit of a panic attack moments before he arrives and flees into what she thinks is a bathroom, but is in fact Leo's closet. Bartlet is, needless to say, a bit bewildered.
Bartlet: Why's she in the closet?
Sam: She thought it was a bathroom.
Bartlet: Then why's she still in the closet?
Sam: That's a mystery to us all, sir.
- Doctor Who: Due to time travel, the Doctor is forced into this with three versions of River Song and one older version of himself. Played for Drama a bit, when the Doctor realises that one of the Rivers is on her very last date with his older self before she'll die.
- How I Met Your Mother: "The Over-Correction" opens with a How We Got Here Split-Screen Phone Call with four of the main characters each hiding in a different closet. The episode goes on to tell the story of three of the four sneaking around and hiding in Barney's various closets as they try not to be caught.
- In an early episode of ER, several staff members sneak upstairs to retrieve a crash cart that has been swiped by another department. To avoid detection, all five of them end up not only crammed into one bathroom stall, they manage to do so in a way that has only one person's feet showing under the door.
- Conan: Andy Richter sneaks into Conan's dressing room. When he sees Conan coming, he hides in the closet. Conan discovers him eventually and yells at him to get out.
- Played for Drama in Glee's school shooting episode. Brittany is in the bathroom when the shooting starts, so while the rest of the Glee club huddles down in the choir room, she ends up balancing on top of a toilet so that the shooter won't see her feet beneath the cubicle door. The viewer thinks she's all alone in there, until Mr. Schue comes to get her and it turns out that the other cubicles contained more students doing the same thing.
- One episode has Frasier hiding in Daphne's closet because he promised not to go in her room. And then went in her room.
- Happens in the form of the shower in Rescue Special Ops. Jordan is taking a shower at the RSO base when Heidi comes to talk to him, Vince then walks in and Heidi hides in the shower with Jordan. Vince later reveals to the other members that he knew that the two of them were in there but he didn't tell them that.
- In the season 5 opener of Castle, the titular novelist has just had passionate sex with Kate Beckett... when his mother arrives. Poor woman gets shoved in the wardrobe while Castle tries to stall his mother... and then realises that she's left her bra by his bed.
- To make it funnier, it's later revealed his mother knew she was there all along!
- In The Matchmaker and Hello, Dolly!, Cornelius hides in a coat closet and Barnaby under a table in an attempt to avoid Vandergelder. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Maurice Ravel's opera L'heure Espagnole (The Spanish Hour), a clockmaker's wife hides her two lovers inside grandfather clocks when an inopportune customer comes along. After many charades and clocks moving around, the customer becomes her third lover!
- In The Marriage of Figaro, Susanna, not wanting to be caught alone with him, hides the infamously flirtatious servant Cherubino (who had wanted to tell her all about his troubles after hitting on the count's wife) under her bed when the count knocks on her door to tell her about all the troubles he's having with Cherubino hitting on his wife (and he's there to hit on Susanna, too). The count is talking to her when the music teacher, Basilio, decides to come visit her to tell her all about the local news (mainly Cherubino's exploits). However, she doesn't want to get caught alone with the count, either, so she hides him as well. Of course, by the end of the song, all are discovered.
- In The Moon Is Blue, a few hours after Don has been knocked out by Patty's Overprotective Dad, when he hears someone ringing his doorbell and knocking, he hastily shoves her in his bedroom, remembering to put her purse and jacket in there as well. Unfortunately, when David picks up the phone he overhears her on the bedroom extension, and turns on Don with righteous indignation.
- In the Clock Tower series, this is your primary way of evading Scissorman or other pursuers: hide behind a couch, under a bed, in the closet or bathroom or whatever else you can find, and pray the killer doesn't catch on.
- Metal Gear Solid 2 lets Snake hide from soldiers via convenient empty lockers, as do subsequent games in the series.
- Ditto Resident Evil Outbreak, which also lets the characters hide under beds. Some characters, like Mark, are even too big/fat to utilize the lockers.
- This is your way of evading Pyramid Head at least once in Silent Hill 2.
- Class Trip Crush contains several instances of the girls having to scramble for hiding places to avoid being caught in the guys' room by a teacher. It usually results in the protagonist getting unexpectedly up close and personal with one of the guys by hiding in his futon.
- Two Looney Tunes examples:
- In "Racketeer Rabbit", Bugs Bunny does this twice to a mobster named Rocky (based on Edward G. Robinson), once as a prank and once for real.
- In "Tom Turk and Daffy", Daffy Duck does this repeatedly to hide a turkey from a hunter, then the turkey "helps" him the same way.
- Gargamel and Azrael get into a similar shuffle hiding inside a giant Papa Smurf statue in The Smurfs episode "The Trojan Smurf".