Cramming the Coffin

A Sub-Trope of Disposing of a Body, this trope involves hiding a body in a coffin that is already scheduled to be buried or cremated. This can be done with the connivance of a crooked funeral director or, for the more desperate or less organised, by breaking into a funeral home the night before a funeral.

If it is done by a crooked funeral director, then the concealment may involve a false bottom in the coffin. Otherwise, the second corpse will just be shoved under the first and the lid screwed back down.

In fiction, at least, this ploy will usually be discovered when the pallbearers drop the coffin due to the extra weight, and two bodies spill out.

A variation involves burying a body in the bottom of a newly dug grave, so a coffin will be placed on top of the corpse and the grave filled in.

Contrast Together in Death, where lovers in life get buried together after they die.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • In "The Meek" in Batman #32, a serial killer uses his day job as a gravedigger at Potter's Field to hide the bodies of his victims by interring them in pauper's graves he is digging.

Film
  • This is how the vampires dispose of the bodies of their victims in Bordello of Blood.
  • In Death at a Funeral, the deceased's diminutive gay lover gets knocked out after his attempts to blackmail the two sons goes wrong, and the sons, thinking that they'd accidentally killed him, hide him in their father's coffin. Naturally, he wakes up at the worst possible time.

Jokes
  • Invoked with an old joke about a politician whose gravestone reads "Here lies a lawyer and an honest man", prompting passersby to comment "I didn't know they made two-man coffins."

Literature
  • Sherlock Holmes: In "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax", the villains are too squeamish to commit murder outright, so they chloroform Lady Frances and hide her in the coffin containing the body of her old nurse, which is due to buried the next day. Which is still murder, only a slow and painful one by asphyxiation.
  • In the Ellery Queen novel The Greek Coffin Mystery, the Queens search a dead man's man coffin for a missing will, and find two bodies inside instead of one.
  • In Death Toll: A Mystery by Jim Kelly, the bodies buried at a cemetery are being moved to higher ground to avoid flooding. When the grave of Nora Tilden, buried in 1982, is opened, grave diggers are shocked to find another body, a skeleton, on top of the casket. The body had to have been thrown into Nora's grave on the day she was buried.

Live-Action TV
  • Silent Witness: In "Hippocratic Oath", a hearse crashes and two bodies are discovered in the coffin. The team is charged with discovering the identity of the John Doe corpse.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "Mortal Coil", a coffin is dropped at a funeral that Jean is attending, revealing the body of Jean's friend and the local junk man. The investigation later reveals this is the second body to have been disposed of in this manner.
  • In season 3 of Dexter, not wanting to divulge the methods of his usual lifestyle, Dexter teaches Miguel Prado to dispose of bodies by burying them past the point of visibility within a to-be-used grave, intending them to be hidden beneath a new coffin.
  • An episode of Castle ("Anatomy of a Murder") has the Body of the Week disposed of this way, and just like the trope description above, the ruse is discovered at the funeral when the pallbearers drop the coffin open.
  • The Closer: In "Saving Face", the funeral of an former police colleague of Flynn and Provenza takes an unexpected turn when the casket is dropped, revealing not only their friend's body, but that of a nude, blonde woman.
  • CSI: In "For Gedda", the team investigates the murder of a man who was stuffed in an occupied coffin. The victim ends up being someone Warrick is familiar with.
  • Part of a plot by an undertaker to get rid of his wife in the Thriller episode "'Til Death Do Us Part".
  • The German crime show Ein Fall fur zwei had an episode where the criminal hides a body by killing a dog and burying it above the corpse (so when the scene is dug up, the cops only find the dog and think it's a waste of time). Only when the investigators have a Eureka Moment and think to dig deeper does he confess.
  • Midsomer Murders: The 'body buried in the grave beneath a coffin' is used in "Beyond the Grave".
  • Played for Laughs in Episode 11 of Monty Python's Flying Circus, where a group of undertakers carrying a coffin climb into it one by one as they become exhausted.
  • The "same grave" variant is used in an episode of Bones, though it was already occupied when the murderer hid the second body there.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Goodbye Iowa", Initiative soldiers search Spike's crypt, reading to kill any undead person on sight. Realising from the still-warm television that someone has been there recently, they lift the lid off a stone sarcophagus, only to find a skeleton covered by a burial shroud. After they leave, Spike appears from beneath the corpse. Buffy herself has pulled the same trick when hiding from vampires.
  • Variant in the Scandal episode "Run." Olivia is kidnapped, and the bad guys smuggle her out of her apartment by hiding stuffing her Bound and Gagged inside a body bag, with her murdered neighbor placed on top of her to further the ruse.

Professional Wrestling
  • Played with on WWE Smackdown in 1999: In a casket match (where whoever puts his opponent into a ringside coffin first wins) which was originally scheduled to be The Undertaker vs Triple H, the Undertaker pulled out and was replaced by two of his minions, Viscera and Mideon. HHH manages to get Mideon into the coffin and seal it, but then he gets told that because it's a two-on-one match he has to lock both of his opponents into the coffin for him to win. He loses.

Western Animation
  • A bit on Family Guy has the characters mentioning Meg's funeral. They cut away to a coffin being lowered into the ground...and then Peter runs in from offscreen, chucks Meg's body under the coffin and runs away yelling "Sorry, didn't want to pay for the hole!"

Real Life