Archdeacon Robert: Someone's coming. Quick! It might be the area Dean. Eat it!
Adam: What? Come on.
: Eat it in the name of Chuch unity. Eat it. Eat it all!
Done something unspeakable with something edible? Then there's only one way to destroy the evidence: eat it, or at least make someone else do it.
Often played for laughs, especially if the evidence is something that no-one would normally consider edible.
If the evidence is a human body
, things become rather more morally awkward
May induce I Ate WHAT?
Not to be confused with Feed the Mole
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Anime and Manga
- In Ranma ½, when Kodachi gets a photo of a Not What It Looks Like scene between her and Ranma, she makes hundreds of copies and scatters them everywhere. Ranma proceeds to catch and eat them all.
- But the ultimate example is the "Ukyo's Secret Sauce" story where, when confessing that he (accidentally) ruined Ukyo's personal sauce that she has been aging for ten years failed to cause the whole mess to subside (Ukyo jumped to the conclusion that Akane forced Ranma to claim it, so it made things worse), Ranma gulps down the whole cask, and almost dies from it. Note that this was less to hide how terrible it tasted from her (she was the first person to find out), but more from desperation to return things to the way they were, so that he wouldn't have to reveal whether he loved Akane or Ukyo better. Before that, he devoured every okonomiyaki that Ukyo made with it, but that was to protect her from eating them out of pride, and potentially making herself terribly sick.
- In the manga of Death Note it's explained that Light eats the killer scrap of paper he used to kill Higuchi with.
- One chapter of Franken Fran had a man attempt to serve his murdered daughter to the guests at her birthday dinner. Unfortunately, Fran instantly recognized the human meat for what it was, being a surgeon.
- In Kara no Kyoukai, when Araya Souren asks how Lio Shirazumi will hide the body of his first murder, he responds by EATING THE BODY IN THREE HOURS.
- Used in K-On! when the club is allowed to sell their teacher's guitar, Ritsu attempts to keep most of the money for the girls by telling her it sold for much less than what was paid. The teacher then asks for the receipt, which has the real amount on it. Ritsu tries to eat the receipt before finally handing it over.
- In Watchmen, when a kidnapper realizes he abducted the wrong little girl and her parents won't be able to pay the ransom, he kills her and feeds her remains to his German shepherds to get rid of the evidence. When Rorschach realizes this, he snaps and burns the kidnapper alive. It was a defining moment in his life, and he never recovered from the psychological trauma.
- The EC Comics story "Cold Cuts" uses a variant of this trope. A man who carves up his wife's body and stores it in a frozen food locker is forced by a business emergency to leave it all in a friend's hands. When he gets back, he finds his friend is throwing an impromptu dinner party. "The butcher was closed..."
- In Jeff Smith's Bone, Phoney Bone eats a slice from the pie set aside for Gran'ma Ben. When Thorn approaches, he stuffs the entire rest of the pie into Fone Bone's mouth.
- In Journey into Mystery, Big Eater Volstagg facetiously suggests that he could eat kid Loki. "There would be no evidence. A perfect crime!"
- This is word for word what a washed-up Hollywood movie director commands the demonic servants he's recently acquired to do with the body of their latest victim in an old issue of Vampirella.
- A less lethal example in Tintin. A message is smuggled to the boy reporter in his prison cell, so in case of a search Tintin scrunches it up in a tiny ball and has his faithful dog Snowy swallow it.
- In Black Queen, Red King, the Earth Changelings eat their kin's dead bodies and those of the humans they kill in order to keep the police and other humans from finding them. The main character also eats his own severed arm to keep it from being foundnote .
- In the famous Roald Dahl story "Lamb to the Slaughter" (filmed as an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and later as an episode of Tales of the Unexpected), a woman beats her husband to death with a frozen leg of lamb, and then puts it in the oven to roast as if nothing had happened. She later offers dinner to the detectives who come round to investigate the murder, and they sit around discussing the mystery of what happened to the murder weapon as they eat it.
- Parodied in Feet of Clay: Vimes claims he'll have to "eat the evidence", when a group of civic leaders find a packet of "arsenic" in his desk, and does so. Of course, he's actually making the point that it isn't arsenic; it's sugar.
- Played with in Monstrous Regiment: The regiment encounters some spies, one of whom tries to eat the codebook to destroy it. It turns out the codebook was poisoned, so that by eating it not only would the code book be kept out of enemy hands, but so would the spy.
- In the short story Two Bottles of Relish by Lord Dunsany, a man uses the title items to help dispose of the corpse of the person he murdered. He also cuts down ten trees and chops them into logs, solely (as the last line of the story informs us), "in order to get an appetite."
- Thieves' World short story Blood Brothers. After One-Thumb paralyzes a drug dealer, he slices him up and feeds him to his dogs.
- In one story in Star Wars: The Han Solo Adventures, a skiptracer shows Chewbacca a thick warrant he has to repossess the Millenium Falcon. Chewie responds by eating it, only to be told that there are multiple copies of the warrant.
- In his book Marked Cards and Loaded Dice, Frank Garcia told the story of a gambler who cheated by slipping an extra card into his hand. An angry victim insisted on searching him. If he was caught with the extra card, he would be killed. He did the only thing he could: he palmed the card into a sandwich, then ate it.
- In the short story Seventeen Oranges by Bill Naughton, a boy caught stealing seventeen oranges eats all seventeen, including the peels and pips, while the policeman is off fetching his parents. He also never eats another orange in his life.
- In The Three Musketeers, Athos forces his servent Grimaud to eat an incriminating letter, to make sure the Cardinal won't ever find it.
- In the book You Don't Know Me by David Klass, the protagonist sends a love note to the girl he's after. She eats it, and he spends a chapter trying to work out what the gesture means until she explains to him that she saw the teacher coming and didn't want him reading the note out in class.
- Near the end of the book version of The Name of the Rose (by Umberto Eco), the villain tries to eat a unique book rather than let the protagonists have it. Bonus points because he had already poisoned the book.
- In the Silence of the Lambs' predecessor, Red Dragon, serial killer and Hannibal Lecter Loony Fan Francis "The Tooth Fairy" Dolarhyde sends Lecter a fan letter (of sorts) written on toilet paper because, he says, "it will dissolve very quickly if you have to swallow it."
- In the story Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart, the heroes have killed a henchman of their enemy, but cannot get out of his castle to hide the body. They can get into the kitchen, however, so they cook every single part of him and put the food among that prepared for a banquet. Number Ten Ox is squicked by it all, but Master Li Kao gets really enthusiastic about making the food good (so the lord of the castle won't start asking questions to the kitchen staff), and we get a really good description of how to cook a man.
- In Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Boys vs. Girls series, the Hatford boys pick apart a pumpkin pie brought over by the Malloy girls because they're sure it's been tainted or booby-trapped somehow. When it becomes clear nothing's wrong with it, they're forced to eat the entire thing to keep their mother from realizing there was ever a pie there.
- In a Bill Pronzini short story, a man shoots the lawyer who embezzled from his late father. He's caught in the lawyer's locked high rise office, and there's no trace of the gun anywhere in the office or nearby. The police are baffled. They only find out two key facts when it's too late: one, the murder weapon was a homemade zip gun, easily disassembled into small component parts. Two, the killer for a time worked for a circus: as the Man With the Iron Stomach...
Live Action TV
- In Peep Show, Jez runs over the dog which belongs to a woman who has expressed an interest in Mark. Rather than admit it, which would ruin Mark's chances of getting a job with her father, they try to burn it, only to find dog doesn't burn well. When caught by the love interest, they claim it's barbecued turkey, and eat it to prove it. Unfortunately, they can't eat the metal dog tag, which gives it away.
- Blackadder Series 4 episode 2: Blackadder shoots a carrier pigeon to avoid receiving orders to attack from his Commander. Unfortunately it turns out the message the pigeon was carrying was that it is now a capital offence to kill a carrier pigeon, so Blackadder decides to eat the evidence for lunch.
- Vyvyan of The Young Ones ate the TV on one occasion, in order to avoid paying the compulsory British television licence fee.
- "It's a toaster."
- And apparently he's not the first, as the TV licensing inspector called it "The old trick, eh?"
- Drake & Josh tried to eat sushi instead of putting it in boxes because the conveyor belt was going too fast.
- Which was pretty much a perfect homage to the Chocolate Factory episode of I Love Lucy.
- In a mystery-style sketch on The Muppet Show, Fielding the Butler, played by Gorgon Heap, ate the evidence that he killed Lord Bottomley - including the detectives investigating the murder.
- In Jekyll, Jackman forces his best friend (working for the Government Conspiracy) into eating a key when he feels his transformation starting. Hyde is almost fooled, but then sees that his friend's mouth is a little wet, and puts two and two together. ("Did my daddy make you dribble...?")
- Dharma eats a court deposition in an episode of Dharma and Greg, but ends up in jail for destroying evidence.
- In an episode of Green Wing, Martin steals his girlfriend's phone out of her bag in order to erase a voice mail message. So that she doesn't see the phone, he decides to hide it...in his mouth. Somehow she fails to notice this and starts kissing him, causing him to swallow the phone whole. It's probably worth mentioning that the phone was not unusually small, and occupied most of the inside of his mouth.
- In another episode, Dr Statham steals a patient's gallbladder on the operating table and ends up trying to eat it. This, of course, is normal behaviour for Dr Statham.
- Alan Partridge does a bit about this in one episode of Im Alan Partridge.
- The last episode of Jonathan Creek features the theft of a porcelain idol in front of about twenty people - it turns out that it had previously been switched with an edible duplicate and scoffed. Unfortunately for the thieves, the one who ate it happened to be allergic to one of the food colourings used on it.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- In "Doublemeat Palace" Buffy suspects that the fast food chain's burgers are made from people. Unfortunately she doesn't tell Xander the reason she left a hamburger on the table—she wanted Willow to analyse it—in time to stop him from eating it. Fortunately he left enough crumbs behind for Willow to determine that that the big secret behind the Doublemeat Palace is that all of their "meat" is cellulose based—they're selling veggie burgers, with a little real meat flavouring.
- In the episode "Dead Things," Warren kills a woman by accident, then suggests the Trio summon a demon large enough to devour her corpse. Andrew points out that the only thing he can think of that could do that would be uncontrollable, and go for them first.
- Not quite evidence, but in an old episode of Police Story, a patrol officer, dealing with a motorist he pulled over ranting that he played golf with the Lt. Mayor and would have his job, walked over to his patrol car, pulled out his lunch box's jar of peanut butter, spread some on the motorist's (then just paper) licence, and ate it, challenging the motorist to tell the Lt. Mayor that. At the end of the episode, his sergeant is laughingly telling the officer about this call he got from the Lt. Mayor's office.
- In an episode of Frasier, after getting themselves involved with a black market dealer in caviar, Frasier and his brother Niles find themselves forced to eat five pounds of the fish eggs in order to avoid arrest by U.S. Customs. Turns out they don't actually care about the caviar, but about the pirate DVDs the mob is also smuggling.
- Subverted in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, when Garak is leaving the station for a prolonged period of time, and he decides to toy with his friend, Doctor Bashir:
Garak: "If you go into my quarters and examine the bulkhead next to the replicator, you'll notice there's a false panel. Behind that panel is a compartment containing an isolinear rod. If I'm not back within 78 hours, I want you to take that rod... and eat it."
Bashir: "...You're joking."
Garak: "Yes doctor, I am."
- Richard Hammond (aka "Hamster") has eaten things to keep Jeremy Clarkson from getting his hands on them in Top Gear, including a cardboard picture of a car (intended for the Cool Wall) and a piece of paper with the points for that week's challenge (which would prove Richard won by more than just one point).
Jeremy Clarkson: [waving the chewed card] Look what he's done. He's eaten it.
James May: [calmly] Hamsters eat cardboard.
- In Saved by the Bell, Screech had tampered with the girls' oven to help Zack win a cooking contest by replacing a knob with a fake knob. Screech switched back the knobs after the contest and kept the fake knob. When the girls confronted Zack and Screech...
Screech: Don't worry, I ate the evidence. (burp)
- In one episode of CSI, a suicide victim is found with a loan voucher from a casino in his stomach.
- Another episode had the owner of a barbecue restaurant murdered by his wife and cook. They disposed of the body by cutting it up, cooking it and serving it to the customers.
- Another episode had a woman chopping up her victims' organs in a blender and eating them.
- The 300th episode had a burglar swallow a roll of film she and her accomplice were sent to steal. Unfortunately, her stomach acid reacts lethally with the chemicals of the film.
- As mentioned above, the "Lamb to the Slaughter" episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
- One episode of Cops showed a suspect trying to eat a stash of marijuana he was hiding in his car. However, the police caught him before he could finish his impromptu meal.
- An episode of Red Dwarf involves Lister and Rimmer having to finish off two huge jugs of moonshine in 10 minutes.
- In the episode "Field Trip" of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Ned forges a signature on Cookie's parent permission slip so he can go on the school field trip. But when the vice principle tries to compare it to the real signature of Cookie's mother, Cookie quickly eats the permission slip.
- One episode of M*A*S*H had a wounded quartermaster official thank the doctors who saved his life by swapping the canned food the unit was supposed to get with the side of beef that was to be shipped to the headquarters of the general whose orders got the man wounded. When the general sends out MPs to track down the missing beef, they arrive at the camp just as the Colonel is about to start carving the roast. He deals with the MPs by inviting them to join the unit for dinner, after which they can honestly report back that there was no beef in the camp.
- In another episode, Klinger bought a goat, with the intention of making money by selling the goat's milk. During an OR session, the goat chewed through the rope it was tied to and ate the payroll money, for which Hawkeye (as that month's paymaster) was responsible. An investigator comes to look into the problem and refuses to believe their story - until he goes back to his tent to find the goat eating a report he was working on.
- In yet another episode, Col. Flagg reveals that he doesn't know the phone number of his headquarters. The phone number is in a capsule he swallowed and he must regurgitate the capsule in order to make the call.
- In Community episode "Cooperative Calligraphy", Troy suggests this is the reason the pen disappeared. The others are incredulous to this theory.
Troy: Maybe nobody took it. Sometimes I think I lost something really important to me, and it turns out I already ate it.
- There's one episode of The Dukes of Hazzard where the secondary antagonist has made Boss Hogg sign a contract that he's having second thoughts about. Boss tries to eat it, and the guy smugly asks if he'd like seconds. Naturally, he made copies.
- Subverted and played for laughs on NCIS. Tony and Ziva act as Director Shepard's protection detail during a reception at a hotel, and Tony is hungry, but Ziva won't let him touch the food since they're there to protect the Director and not to eat. When a dead body shows up and the rest of Team Gibbs arrive to investigate, Tony takes the opportunity to sneak some bacon from the buffet table, leading to this exchange:
Gibbs: Stop eating the evidence.
- An episode of Elementary had a pickpocket who ate a bag of white powder he had stolen when the police picked him up. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't cocaine, but anthrax.
- In the Russian sketch show "Gorodok" (The Little City), one sketch was about a policeman shows a suspect a stack of documents and says it's the evidence against him. Then he leaves the suspect alone with the documents. The guy is quick to follow the trope... only to be informed that the police merely needed to dispose of some old papers.
- In an episode of Murder, She Wrote, the murder weapon was a frozen fish. The killer had grabbed the closest thing to defend herself in a restaurant kitchen, then left it there to be inevitably cooked and served.
- In an episode of Rev, Archdeacon Robert persuades a panicked Adam to eat a compromising document in case it's discovered by the Dean. It's just a prank to humiliate Adam and punish him for screwing up, though
- In one episode of Barney Miller, recurring petty thief Marty tries to do this with a small bag of marijuana but fails. Then he tries to claim that he was hungry.
- In an episode of Border Security, a man seeking entry into Canada is found with a baggie containing a white substance. He swallows the bag and goes into cardiac arrest, forcing CBSA officers to frantically search his car for any clues to what the substance was so he can be treated properly.
- A 1994 sequence in For Better or for Worse involved some friends of Elizabeth trying to get her hooked up with Anthony (who liked her but was too shy to say so) by writing a fake note that claimed to be from Elizabeth to Anthony. When the note was discovered by a teacher, taken away and then returned to Anthony at the end of the class (still unread), one of the friends, Dawn, grabbed the note and ate it to avoid embarrassment for everybody involved. Elizabeth and Anthony still ended up getting together, and many years later (after various intervening twists and turns) got married.
- In a series of Peanuts strips, Snoopy imagines himself to be a spy, and steals Sally's report which he thinks to be a secret document. When Sally catches him, he eats the paper, much to her anger. Yes, a dog really did eat her homework.
- In another Peanuts story arc, Charlie Brown sent Linus to scout another baseball team and told him to make notes on a square of bubble gum so he could destroy them easily if necessary.
- In one Dilbert strip, Mordack the Denier eats Wally's requisition form for a new computer (in front of him) and says "We lost the paperwork." Wally responds by holding up a giant stack and saying "Good thing I made 75 more copies."
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin occasionally likes to pretend he is a forcibly detained space captain while at school. Upon being sent to the principal's office in one strip, he eats his hall pass since it is considered "evidence" in his imaginary world.
- GURPS suggests using Universal Digestion for this purpose.
- A common usage of the Matter Eater mutation in Paranoia.
- In the first case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, a suspect eats a small glass bottle that had been used for carrying poison his girlfriend used to poison an attorney. He also ate the large gold necklace it was attached to. It was too big to swallow, so he chewed it up into pieces first. The shards of glass were apparently not a problem, because this is Feeny we're talking about.
- Parodied in Kingdom of Loathing, upon decoding the Cobb's Knob map:
You memorize the location of the door, then eat both the map and the encryption key. For no particular reason, really, it just seemed like a cool spy thing to do.
- In the Nancy Drew game Resorting To Danger, Mr. Mingles eats one hard-sought piece of evidence, and Nancy has to chase the little dog around a mazelike garden to retrieve some documents before he swallows them, too.
- This is a Running Gag in SPY Fox. Every time Professor Quack shows Spy Fox a blueprint to a spy gadget, Quack promptly eats the blueprint when he's done and can do this with infinite copies of the same blueprint; according to him it's the best way to keep a secret. Quack's comments about this practice get more extreme with every game; in the first he declares blueprints a good source of dietary fiber, in the second he writes blueprints on flavored paper as preparation to be eaten, and in the third he claims to be on a "blueprint-only diet".
- On Homestar Runner, at the end of Episode 10 of Teen Girl Squad, Strong Bad is caught trying to make out with a drawing of the "new hotness" version of The Ugly One, and tries to save face by claiming the picture is a piece of pizza and eating it. Strong Sad isn't fooled for a moment: "Uh, Strong Bad, were you just first-basin' it with that piece of loose-leaf?"
- In one episode of American Dad!, Stan gets a secret order. He promptly eats the file - then he's informed that it will self-destruct in ten seconds.
- The Simpsons:
- Fritz has the hilariously stupid idea of eating a peace treaty that he doesn't want to happen in Princess Sissi.
- In a variant, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy start out the feature-length Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island having just been fired from their jobs as a contraband-sniffing dog and handler at an airport. That's because they ate an entire storage room full of contraband foodstuffs that Scooby had detected in people's luggage, not realizing it was needed as evidence against the culprits.
- Lo attempts to do this in an episode of Stoked!, but spits out the piece of paper she tried to eat because she didn't like the taste.
- Chowder does this in "The Prank", eating the giant pie that squashed Mung. Endive then spends much of the episode trying to stop Chowder throwing the evidence up again.
- The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: In "Candy Colleague", Flapjack disposes of the eponymous colleague by eating him while Doctor Barber is out of the room.
- In an episode of Gasp, Gasp and the other pets have to dispose of the enormous number of disgusting cupcakes (somewhere over 300) that Gasp had baked before the family gets home. They do this by eating them.
- Teen Titans Go!: In "Laundry Day", Robin disposes of the roster that proves it is his turn to do the laundry by putting it into a blender, turning it into a smoothie and drinking it. He later burps it back up.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Inspiration Manifestation, Spike does this when he finally gets a hold of the book that's been corrupting Rarity, hoping it'll break the spell. It doesn't.
- Rated "A" for Awesome: In "ET Phone Noam", when Noam decides to leave with the aliens, Thera writes him a love letter confessing her feelings for him, telling him not to read it until he gets to his new home planet. When the aliens turn out to be evil and the group rescues Noam, he goes to read the letter, but Thera snatches it from him and gulps it down.
- The prisoner in the MGM Tex Avery cartoon "Cell-bound" is trying to escape from his cell by digging his way out, spoonful-by-spoonful. When he hears the warden approaching, he eats the spoonful of dirt present at the time.
- The British Special Operations Executive during World War II made code books out of rice paper so they could be eaten if necessary.
- Parodied in a Michael Bentine sketch where a spy has to eat the secret plans of a rocket - and then a large model of the rocket.
- The paper was thought up by Jasper Maskenlyne, a famous magician who would create dozens of gadgets for the British, including a special boot issued to commandos that contained a compass, a little map, and a garrote wire. Apparently bedrolls made of similar paper were also used; they were soaked in vegetable oil to make them waterproof, and as an added bonus it made them taste better if you had to eat them.
- In Real Life, a man named Antonio Vasquez beat two men up with a sausage, and a dog ate it, destroying the evidence. He was caught when he left his wallet at the scene. And his pants.
- Watch this man◊ cleverly snatch and eat what may or may not have been a note implicating him in a bank robbery.
- In a sad but amusing incident of a man attempting this, the mortally-wounded captain of a French ship captured during the Napoleonic Wars attempted to do this to his code papers. Unfortunately he picked the wrong set of papers and instead chewed up his own commission.
- Sun Tsu in Ancient Art of War tells of a spy who's given battle plans written in silk that's enclosed in a ball of wax. The spy is instructed to swallow the ball and proceed to a location, sneaking past the enemy; once there, the ball will pass through his digestive system and out the other end. The spy doesn't know it, but the plans are phony and his whereabouts are leaked to the enemy so they will capture him and think the phony plans are real.
- At various South African diamond mines there used to be (and probably still is) an X-ray machine through which all workers have to pass on leaving to ensure that they did not seek an unofficial bonus to their paycheck.
- Before X-ray machines were invented, a daily cavity search was a part of black miners' routine - the white miners just had to empty their pockets and boots.
- Played for Laughs with this t-shirt design.
- A related example, a man once tried to beat a DUI by eating his own underwear in the hopes that it would absorb the alcohol and defeat the Breathalyzer.
- Steve Brill, a man famous for foraging on plants that grow in natural parks and other public places in New York and encouraging such activity, was once arrested for such activity back in 1986 due to violating "nature preservation laws", but the charges were dropped when he (naturally) ate the evidence (i.e. the plants he picked), creating a public relations debacle for the authorities. He's become the official spokesperson for natural foraging ever since, and is tolerated by officals.
- A hang glider instructor whose passenger died apparently swallowed the flash memory card from an onboard video camera documenting the incident.
- More than one street dealer has won the Darwin Awards (or at least a trip to the ER) for doing this with their entire stash of illicit drugs.
- A retired police chief acting with the Crimestoppers eats the evidence to protect the identity an anonymous tipster in a drug trial after the judge ordered public disclosure of the tip, on account of there possibly being enough data to reveal the tipster's identity. He's currently held in contempt of court and may be jailed, but he says that while he is unhappy with the outcome, he is ready to be put in prison among prisoners who would doubtless want revenge so that future tipsters to Crimestoppers won't be scared off by the possibility that their identities might be revealed.
- At least one spy in the American Civil War resorted to this rather than let the documents they were carrying be confiscated by the enemy.