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Inexplicable Treasure Chests
Well, that explains that dungeon's chests. Doesn't explain the cows, though.

It was a watchtower for crying out loud. Thousands of years ago when this place was brand new it had nothing of value. Nobody has come along since then and added treasure for you.

Treasure chests containing items are almost ubiquitous in video games — pick almost any Action Adventure game or RPG. Often they contain only a single item.

Their existence is generally shrouded in mystery. Who is responsible for putting them there? Somebody had to have done it at some point. ("The game designers" don't count.) Think about it. Treasure chests just don't materialize spontaneously—except in some games where they actually do appear out of thin air.

Furthermore, why are they almost always brightly colored, as if to stand out? Have you ever seen a bright red and gold treasure chest in real life? Or for that matter, have you ever seen one at all?

And why are they invariably brand new-looking without the slightest hint of wear, even if the temple or dungeon they are located in supposedly hasn't been visited for 10,000 years? Bonus points when they contain food or other perishables, modern currency or items that wouldn't have existed when the chest was made or equipment that exactly fits the party members' preferences no matter how improbable. In fact, if anything this implies that those chests were put there and stocked fairly recently, which means you're probably looting what amounts to somebody's supply cache or trust fund, however unconventional.

And perhaps most strangely, why doesn't anyone ever open them except you? This is sometimes subverted by having several of the chests in a dungeon be empty, perhaps indicating other adventurers have passed through — although there's usually no pattern to which are open and which aren't. Of course, there might be a reason after all...

Occasionally, this trope makes sense if you're raiding, say, the ruins of an abandoned castle — the chests are thus implied to be the wealth of whoever lived there. But the question still comes up of where the items in most other places, such as the Planet Heck, came from...

Probably the most ridiculous manifestation of this trope comes in instances where monsters drop chests. It isn't so ridiculous for bigger baddies who could just swallow whole convoys, boxes and all, but what about smaller creatures which could fit into the boxes themselves?

See also Crate Expectations. Contrast Empty Room Psych.

Chest Monster is a subtrope. Buried Treasure, aka Pirate Booty is a related sister trope.

For other things that probably shouldn't be there, see Blatant Item Placement.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • The Legend of Zelda series. In later games, the powers that be were even considerate enough to color and size-code the chests to match their contents.
    • The "modern currency" part is justified here, as Rupees have been in use for at least 1000 years before Hyrule was founded and haven't changed much since.
    • Furthermore, many of these chests appear out of thin air when certain arbitrary requirements are met.
    • Weirdly, there are at least three chests per dungeon in which Link can find a map, a compass, and exactly the item needed to defeat the boss. Although this is all possibly justified in some of the dungeons, which were mentioned to specifically be abandoned houses, castles, or temples. And in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, several weapons were explicitly stated to be where they were because someone hid them there for a hero to find. How convenient.
      • Apparently they were put there on purpose.
    • Unusually, in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, in the Temple of Time ruins, a large treasure chest is seen open, and (worse yet) empty.
  • Ultimately justified in The Immortal, when at the end Mordamir reveals he put the chests throughout the dungeon so that his student would survive to bring him his amulet. (Of course, many players don't survive that long.)
  • The World of Mana games from Secret of Mana on feature chests that inexplicably spawn from defeated foes.
  • All the items you need in Ufouria are to be found in chests scattered everywhere.
  • Ōkami is full of these. While sometimes they almost make sense (like when they're buried or in the hold of the Ghost Ship), you really have to wonder how someone managed to haul them up Catcall Tower...
  • These show up in AdventureQuest occasionally, despite the fact that the game doesn't generally let you walk around and explore. They're treated as monsters and usually give you gold or potions.
    • Lampshaded in one mission that all the monsters get their money from a Princess of Thieves of sorts. Some potions are given to you by NPCs as thanks for saving you or parts of quests.
  • Cave Story has some fun with this. At one point, you find a live dog inside a treasure chest. Its item screen description tells you that the dog really likes chests, and has gotten in the habit of sleeping in them. At another point, you have to collect jelly from flying jellyfish. You would expect that this would involve collecting the stuff off the body of the jellyfish, but instead, the defeated jellyfish drops a treasure chest containing the jelly in a jar.
  • Treasure chests are all over the place in La-Mulana. Unusually, you don't open them directly; you have to solve some sort of puzzle first. Especially weird since the ruins were already being explored by the protagonist's father... why is everything in place again?
  • Monsters in Zombie Hunter tend to drop chests after death for some reason.
  • In Lost Kingdoms, red treasure chests contain magical fairies and monster cards which can only be used by people with ultra-rare runestones like the player...
  • The 2003 video game of The Hobbit has treasure chests everywhere, including part way up trees in Mirkwood. They are colour-coded as wooden, silver, or gold. Unlocking them is a minigame involving timing with moving parts, where failure can lead to injury or poisoning.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising explains that almost all the chests you find come from the "Treasurefish", flying fish creatures that travel everywhere delivering chests to random places. If you find one flying around, you can kill it to take its treasure right then and there.

    Beat 'em up 
  • In Spinmaster, treasure chests are everywhere on the ground. They often even fall from the sky or are carried by flying creatures. Some of the chests are flying on their own.
  • Dynamite Dux has these littered throughout the stages. They give points when touched.

    Action Game 
  • God of War. Even Hades had chests full of health and magic.
    • Magic chests they can maybe get away with. But Health chests in the Land of the Dead?
  • Made as blatant as possible in No More Heroes. The chests are orange and gold, there are exactly five during each boss mission, and they contain either trading cards or money. They are also half as tall as the protagonist. A separate type of box contains health/battery powerups. Plus, any that you miss on a initial runthrough of the game are back, in the same place and with the same contents, when you do any additional runthroughs with a clear file saved. This is the only way to get 100% Completion, as the missions can only be done once per game.
  • The Tower of Druaga has a hidden treasure chest on every floor (except those that don't have one), and the most inexplicable thing about them is the Guide Dang It methods needed to get them to appear.
  • In Attack Of The Mutant Penguins, not only are there treasure chests lying around, but they have to be opened by dropping gremlins on them. Coins could be substituted for gremlins, if you could find them.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Subverted in some cases in the game BioShock, explained in others. There are instances where opponents will run to use health stations you also have access to including a boss fight against Dr. Steinman, and hacking a station will cause it to harm enemies who try to use it. In addition, the random gear laying around is usually explained as having been left there when the previous residents were killed or mutated beyond being able to use them, or is bought from automated shops
  • Justified somewhat in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, in that the "chests" are actually backpacks with various supplies, weapons and ammunition, either dropped by people when they were killed or left behind by those who wanted to come back later to retrieve them (and many of these are in dangerous locations no one would dare approach without reason). Bizarrely enough, however, almost all of these caches are completely empty until you acquire PDA entries detailing their locations by searching particular dead characters.
  • Justified in Borderlands where most chests are found in enemy bases or friendly towns. But, due to the fact that nearly all loot is randomized this leads to unusual situations like finding weapons that are far more powerful than the ones nearby mooks are using. Or there are upgrades that mooks can't use or should be using (like buffs an advanced turret found when dealing with simple bandits or item that regenerates ammo). Or there are weapons that don't make sense being there, like sniper rifles in a tight winding caves or shotguns on sniper perches.
    • Fridge Brilliance in action: If you have a sniper rifle in tight, twisty caves and you're not a badass Vault Hunter who can digistruct your weapons from the electronic aether, you might prefer to stash it in a chest rather than have it encumber you in your exploration. Likewise, if you're a sniper, you don't need your shotgun at the moment you're sniping, so you might put it away in a convenient nearby box that will keep out the dust and sand, and then get shot before you can retrieve it. Of course, this still doesn't explain why you find guns and ammo in toilets. Not the outhousenote , but in the toilet bowl.
  • Serious Sam II has got treasure chest items which yield points.

    Hack And Slash 
  • In Diablo II, many treasure chests are found in the open air, in the wilderness. Most are not locked, and those that are are opened by one universal flavor of Interchangeable Antimatter Keys.
    • There's a Wild Mass Guessing about this on Diablo's WMG page.
    • The game also had various stashes under rocks and things that functioned identically to chests. Sometimes subverted with the chests/stashes being empty or already opened - but not too often. Occasionally, a fireball that comes out.
    • Also occasionally averted by using furniture appropriate to the type of loot, like bookcases or weapon racks.
      • Still rather jarring to watch a weapon rack containing nothing but swords spit out a bow, or an armor rack holding a Rogue's breastplate automagically turn into a freakin' hat.
  • In Drakengard, there are chests sitting in the midst of barren, empty fields. What's even more bizarre is once you pilfer the chests, they sink through the ground into parts unknown. Blinking out would have been acceptable, but I guess the game's programmers felt like creeping the player out if they bothered to watch.
  • Purposely subverted in American McGee's Alice. The reason that Alice has a Sanity Meter instead of a normal health gauge, and she regains sanity by consuming the essence of her slain enemies, is because, as Word of God says, that plot-wise, it was just a more interesting way for Alice to restore lost health than finding bandages or medicine lying around Wonderland in boxes like it's often done in games like this.

    MMORPGs 
  • EverQuest II LIVES on this trope. Weapons, armor, and treasure in general doesn't drop off monsters. Oh no. They're found inside one of the four qualities of treasure chests that the monsters inexplicably carry around on them. This often overlaps with Impossible Item Drop, since you might kill a three inch tall fire beetle and it'll drop a Master treasure chest half the size of a bank vault.
  • World of Warcraft does this. Most players get used to the idea to the point where they don't even notice this trope. Sometimes they may have Fridge Logic moments about it if it contains, say, cheese, but even then most don't really realize it. The only time it really calls attention is if two stacks of the same item are in the same chest. Seeing a stack of three apples followed by a separate stack of 2 apples listed as a separate item can really break the suspension of disbelief and make one begin to question the nature of the world...of warcraft.
    • As of Cataclysm, these chests have become more rare, and now spawn even in the previously chest-free continent of Northrend. Every chest contains cash and a single item of superior (blue)quality, as well as more experience points than even a quest of the appropriate level.
    • Notice that most of these chests are guarded by mobs. That at least suggests that the chests aren't just scattered about and are in fact still being used by the enemies for storage. In fact, if a high level player-character is standing next to some hostile low-level monsters — a player much much higher level than a monster can get within a few feet of it without being attacked — and opens a chest, the monsters instantly attack him (as ineffectual as such an attack might be with such a level-difference).
    • Never mind why the "large battered chest" is there, the big question is what we should fry it in.
  • Guild Wars gets fairly ridiculous about this. Each region has its own kind of chest, with a unique key that must be purchased in nearby towns, and with unique kinds of loot. They can be found literally anywhere. While it's rather implausible in places like the frozen seas and forests of Cantha, it's downright ridiculous in the various Hell analogues.
  • Final Fantasy XI was a bit closer to justifying this trope than most FFs with the treasure chests and coffers, as they either appeared in dungeons, as most were populated by enemy beastmen (although how you keep finding chests and coffers in ruins abandoned for eons still doesn't make sense), and any other chests are found in special fights said to be sealed treasures with monsters in them(the chests in Limbus, however, are never explained, and were also the first kind to not be just brown or grey). Now, however, all monsters in the outside areas before Chains of Promathia have a 10% chance of dropping a chest of some sort. While the items help leveling, it's never been explained where all of them came from, especially considering some of the monsters that reveal a chest can't even carry one. How can a bee carry a giant, square box?
    • Final Fantasy XIV usually keeps treasure chests and coffers regulated within dungeons only; some of the dungeons are either abandoned structures or places that fell out of use for generations, which would make sense to have treasure boxes being left behind as the remains of what once inhabited the area. Patch 2.1 introduced treasure chests that can be dug out of the ground at any point around the world, but attempting to open them releases monsters and only by defeating them can you get the goodies inside. The chest will also disappear after 5 minutes for some reason.
  • Particularly odd in the MMO La Tale, since treasure chests can spawn almost anywhere on a given map. Where do they keep appearing from?
  • Gaia Online features multiple varieties. On the main site, and all of the flash games except for zOMG!, you may occasionally run into a "Flying Magical Giftbox" or "Enchanted Chest", which must be caught by clicking on it, and grants you a random rare piece of clothing or furniture, depending on the color of the container being opened. In zOMG!, inexplicable treasure chests (and crates, and baskets, and on one occasion a safe) are placed around the map. Opening them can grant a large number of regular drops, or (if your level is too high) nothing at all. Judging by their appearance, these chests appear to be Animated, and it is implied the safe was placed at its location by NeXuS Corp, but since you never see any of the chests move, there's no explanation as to what they hell they're doing there.
    • It should be noted that if you do see a flying giftbox in zOMG, you are best advised to run for your life!
    • Of course, given all of the other stuff Gaia's gone through, the chests are usually the least unusual things to think about.
  • Averted and parodied in Kingdom of Loathing. The cargo hold of the Penultimate Fantasy Airship is packed wall to wall with Penultimate Fantasy treasure chests. "Man, these guys must be really obsessive about collecting treasure. It's like they're trying to get 100% of the treasure in the world, or something."
    • And completely inverted with the Sunken Chest - it can't be opened, under any circumstances. Instead, it's used as part of the recipe for a familiar.
  • Atlantica Online usually links the chests to quests or a treasure map.
  • Averted in RuneScape. There are many, many chests in the world that contain nothing interesting...and thus no tangible items of any kind for the player to claim. Effectively, they are nothing but scenery. Despite this, they still typically have a 'search' option.
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online: Chests are the standard reward system, almost guaranteed to be found at the end of a dungeon and often after defeating a mini-boss. Sometimes mini-boss chests might contain only a key or other item necessary to progress. Sometimes the chests mysteriously appear only after defeating a boss. Parodied in one quest where a chest appears after solving a puzzle and freeing a captive (which happens to be a mindflayer), and he asks: "Aren't you even going to ask where I was keeping that?"
  • In the Might and Magic games, you can even find them in populated towns. They're almost always booby-trapped however, requiring a party member with the Disarm skill to open them. (The dwarves who live in Stone City in VII have a sick sense of humor; the place is full of heavily-trapped chests, and most of them are empty.)

    Point And Click 
  • Darby The Dragon has these scattered across Dragondale, uniquely with each one in a different color. You conveniently get a skeleton key for all of them at the beginning of the game. However, it turns out that each one contains nothing more than one huge gold coin.
  • One of the sacred treasures you have to find in the first King's Quest game is a chest that magically fills itself with a limitless supply of gold coins. Sure, it's not like inflation is involved or anything.

    Platform Game 
  • While not treasure chests per se, the enormous pods which contain X's various upgrades in the Mega Man X games are found littered all over the various Maverick's hideouts...placed there a century ago by X's long-dead creator, and left respectfully undisturbed by the Reploid criminals that now inhabit the area. By the time of X8, there have been well over fifty of these capsules. Dr. Light was apparently a very busy man in his last days. X6 hangs a lampshade on it, at least - the first capsule you find has Dr. Light bemoaning how much trouble the future is in if you had to open this set.
    • Ever so slightly (and vaguely) Hand Waved by the ending of X5 where it's implied that the holographic Dr. Light is slightly more sentient and mobile than implied by his capsule appearances. Of course, nothing is ever made of this almost-revelation again.
    • One (five if you count one of the Gaiden Games) out of those 50+ capsules is outfitted for Zero, a robot that Dr. Light should have no knowledge of. Only two words can describe it...
  • And finally, Mega Man Zero had conveniently-hidden boxes containing cyber-elves and Secret Disks.
  • The monitors in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Never mind how they got there, what powers them? (and why is Robotnik so sporting that he'll have a bunch of them inside his bases?)
    • The British version of Sonic continuity created an explanation for this: the monitors were actually originally computer terminals for a worldwide internet set up by Dr Kintobor as part of his Retro Orbital Chaos Compressor machine designed to rid the world of evil and store it in the Chaos Emeralds. When the ROCC went wrong and exploded, turning Kintobor into his Evil Counterpart Robotnik, the overload resulted in the monitors all shorting out and leaving them with random 'power-ups' inside (as well as scattering the rings that had made up the ROCC all over Mobius).
    • Docfuture's Let's Play of Sonic 2: Special Edition offers an even stranger explanation. In short, they're alive. Poor, poor Failure Cresh.
  • Legend of Kay features not only your standard treasure chest waiting in a corner, but also treasure chests materializing out of thin air as soon as the area is cleared of enemies.
  • Treasure chests, with some oversized ones, are present in both DuckTales games.
  • Wizards And Warriors has treasure chests all over the place.
  • Both the NES and Wii versions of A Boy and His Blob have treasure chests all over the place. One might wonder who left them there.
  • In Ghouls 'n Ghosts, treasure chests just seem to materialize when approaching them.
  • In Moon Crystal, it seems that careless people have left their treasure chests on top of tree branches, roofs and even ship masts and so on.
  • Crystal Caves has treasure chests scattered around as well; a key allows you to open all chests found on the same level for score.
  • Jak and Daxter had actual treasure chests all over the world from the tropical islands to the frozen mountains.
  • Common in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. Most of them respawn.
  • In Fez, treasure chests can often be found out in the open and usually contain a single-use key.
  • Atlantis No Nazo abounds with treasure chests, which contain nothing but points.
  • The worlds of Flink are practically littered with treasure chests, which are also useful for throwing at enemies.
  • Mighty Bomb Jack has treasure chests everywhere, containing bags of points, powerups and secret collectibles. Some of them can't be opened at lower power levels and may block Jack's way, but at higher power levels chests can also be opened by walking through their sides.
  • Super Mario Bros. has the random ? blocks that seemingly appear everywhere for no real reason in particular (the first game had them turn out to be transformed Toads, the later ones just cut out the idea altogether). Whether it be the hub, a level or the main antagonist's fortress of doom, there will be at least 10 or more of these things just lying around in the open with random items or money inside. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team even had stats for 'percentage of blocks hit/opened' that a bored player could try and max out. Super Mario RPG also just has tresure chests, which also have a percentage to max out.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • The Research Cubes in Darwinia were fairly Inexplicable: although we know they're Sepulveda's research and why they're in Darwinia, there's no logical explanation for them being scattered on random mountains.
  • The last mission of the Allied campaign of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge. Can anyone please explain what is a pair of oil derricks doing in Antarctica? And a region of Antarctica surrounded by impassable cliff faces that make actually transporting the oil to somewhere else by any means other than airlift or teleportation impossible, nonetheless.
    • Not that the warring factions don't have access to teleportation, mind you.
      • Or regular old airlift technology in the form of helicopters and airships. Plus oil is abundant around Antarctica - why wouldn't the factions try to control this valuable resource?
  • Age of Empires III has "relics" scattered about the maps. Some of these make sense like abandoned wagons or a rare wild animals. Others are just treasure chests that are being guarded by Jaguars, for some reason.

    Rhythm Game 
  • Patapon 3 has treasure chests scattered all over levels. At one point, one of the large enemies even throws one at the player's army.

    Roguelike 
  • In Nethack many chest are locked. If you don't have anything normally used for opening locks like a credit card or a wand of opening then you can try to force the lock by prying open the lid with a bladed weapon, but this has the danger of destroying your weapon. If you don't want to risk your bladed weapon (or don't have one) then you can try kicking the chest until the lock breaks, but this runs the risk of shattering any potions contained in the chest. Alternatively, you can use a blunt weapon to try and bash the lock apart, though there's a chance you'll go overboard and smash the chest apart completely, along with some of the contents. The Dev Team Thinks of Everything.
    • Chests are sometimes booby trapped as well, blasting you with various unpleasant magic and possibly destroying some of your current inventory. And after all that, the chest in question can turn out to have been empty all along.
    • Since monsters can't use containers you use chests for safely storing items you don't want to carry around but you also don't want getting into the hands of any monsters.
      • Although Gelatinous Cubes can and will devour chests and all their contents, so true security requires a little extra effort..
  • Played straight, after a fashion, in Dwarf Fortress. If you abandon a fort and then come back with an adventurer or reclaim party, every item in the fortress that wasn't walled up or underwater will be strewn around the map at random, apparently by the various unpleasant creatures that moved in when you left. Finding everything and putting it away can end up taking longer than evicting the hostiles.
    • Averted otherwise though, as any chest you find in Adventure mode always has a reason to be there.
  • Dungeons of Dredmor has chests you can either lockpick or smash apart. Smashing the chest has a chance of destroying the item inside as well (as signified by the message "You smashed it up good!"), but lockpicks also have a chance of breaking upon use, causing you to sometimes use 2 or even 3 lockpicks on a single chest. Fortunately, lockpicks are fairly plentiful. A skill in the Burglary class has the ability to potentially give you an infinite number of lockpicks.

    Role Playing Game 
  • The Final Fantasy series.
    • In Final Fantasy VI (III in Japan), there is a specific dungeon where most of the chests are empty, a clue that someone else has been through here recently. At the end of this dungeon you actually meet the unknown looter, who turns out to be Locke, the Treasure Hunter of your former party, who got split up after the semi-End Of The World As We Know It. After having him rejoin the party, he gives you the treasures he got.
      • More generally, certain chests contain marginally better loot when you return later in the game if you resist the temptation to crack them open on first sight. Which has its own set of problems - it takes much convolution to concoct and explanation that doesn't involve the treasure "evolving" or something. They might be Schrodinger's Chests - their contents are not decided until the chest in question is opened.
    • Final Fantasy VIII was considered bold and unusual for not having treasure chests lying around everywhere. They just had Draw Points instead.
      • There are a few in D-District Prison (Zell even lampshades it by saying "Hey, there's a box!"), and the odd couple of random items lying on the ground here and there. They are noticeably scarce if you're more used to VII and IX-types though.
    • Final Fantasy XII has treasure urns, which are A) randomly not there, B) Regenerate when you leave the area, C) Have random loot, particular to each chest, and D) somehow connected, as opening any one of four seemingly arbitrary chests (including one right at the beginning) will make a later one (containing the Infinity+1 Sword) to not be there later on.
    • Lampshaded in Final Fantasy Tactics A2, when Luso finds an empty chest in an area that they believe never to have been seen by humans, and he complains about not being able to trust a world where there wouldn't be treasure in such a box.
    • Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings attempted to justify this trope. When questioned about the inexplicable treasures chests on the flying continent, Llyud explains that his people deliberately place treasures in ornate chests all over the continent as offerings to the gods; and that therefore you can loot them with impunity, as the gods want their treasures used to help fight for good.
    • Subverted in Final Fantasy XIII. The high-tech chests and network shopping terminals scattered along the main characters' path seem inexplicably convenient at first, but eventually it becomes clear that the main villain arranged for their placement in order to help steer the characters into accomplishing the objective the villains want them to accomplish.
    • Two types in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest: SaGa-style brown boxes which hold restoratives (and said items respawn!), and the more traditional RPG treasure chest which holds actual equipment and magic books.
    • In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years you often pass through the same dungeon with a different character, sometimes with only hours or days between the different passes. The chests will have been refilled and the monsters altered to match the challenge for the new character. The Underground Waterway gets raided by Cecil in the original FF4, Palom and Porom in a flashback, Edward seventeen years later in his chapter, and just a few days or maybe hours later by Ceodore and the hooded man in Kain's chapter. Likewise the Lodestone Cavern is looted by Cecil in FF4, Palom seventeen years later, and Edge in the final chapter. And finally, Mount Ordeals gets raided by Kain, Porom and Tsukinowa, the last as he follows and spies on Porom! And that's not counting the Bonus Dungeon of every chapter, which you are explicitly told you need to loot several times to get everything.
  • The Dragon Quest series. The original Dragon Quest did subvert the last part a bit, as some of the chests you encountered were empty.
    • Most of the stuff in chests was worthless anyway, except for the occasional plot coupon. Everything worth having was either bought or found in arbitrary locations.
    • Hanging a lampshade on the subject, near a group of chests within the (good guys') castle, a guard tells the player, "Never does a brave man steal." It's doubtful how many players this stopped — there's no penalty for doing it anyway — but it made a few have to think about it first.
    • Also lampshaded in Dragon Quest VIII; in the first town, there's a book in the "intro to newbies" part of the inn that mentions the abundance of chests lying around. It brings up the question of who put them there and why, then answers itself with "Who cares? Consider it a gift from the Goddess!"
  • Romancing SaGa 3 - In the Devil King's Palace one of the chests actually has something inscribed on the inside of it The inscription is actually a prayer required to fight the boss of a bonus dungeon, and if you're playing the game with a translation patch, another prayer which is the last step towards unlocking the Developer's Room for the patch.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series. In the first game, many of these chests contain dalmatian puppies.
    • Also in the first game, some chests can't be opened until you learn that the keyblade can open locks, which isn't that far in. In 358/2 Days you visit the same locations many times for different things yet the locations of treasure chests and their contents is different for each Mission. Also other members of Organization XIII will ask you to find so many during that set of days for a reward. Did they place them there for you to find?
  • The Dark Cloud series. In the sequel, a clown might pop out to offer you a choice between two surprise treasures.
    • Ignoring the chests in dungeons, there are also Inexplicable Treasure Chests that appear in Georamas and other non-adventure areas. This is Hand Waved in the first game which explains that Seda has been putting them there to help you, but the second game doesn't even bother explaining the Miracle Chests AT ALL.
  • Xenogears features not only loads of random treasure chests all over the place, but for whatever reason, the developers of this game decided that the physical size of the treasure chests must be proportionate to your Gears in areas where you're forced to pilot them. This means that you'll encounter dozens of treasure chests that are the size of small houses.
    • Better still, these house-sized treasure chests frequently contain bottles of medicine. Individual bottles of medicine. When they are large enough to hold thousands.
  • Monsters in Xenoblade drop their loot in one of three types of treasure chests (Wooden, silver, or gold) that inexplicably pop out of their bodies once they meet their demise. It's a little odd to see the tiny monsters like bunnivs and fliers leaving behind chests that are twice as big as themselves.
    • There are also a few traditional treasure chests in places that actually make sense, such as ancient sealed vaults.
  • Parodied in the original Wild ARMs, where in the beginning when you go through Jack's scenario, most chests that can be gotten normally are empty, often with a note on the side that says Ha, ha, I got here before you did!
    • Completely lampshaded with glee in Wild ARMs 3's in-game hints (by a certain "Alan Smithee" no less!). The hint says "there's no idea who put them in such remote places but hey, finders keepers!"
  • Chrono Trigger at least had vaguely forest-y chests in forest-y areas. There were also the super "Sealed by a mysterious force..." chests, which existed in multiple timezones - careful use of Applied Phlebotinum in the past would make better stuff appear in the chest in the future. And once you've grabbed the future loot, of course, you can safely go back and get the past loot too; grabbing the past loot first would make the chest disappear in the future, logically enough. One Ultimate Weapon (Marle's) had to be obtained this way.
    • The mysterious force chests are at least partially explained (they're the items left behind by an ancient civilization when their world went all Atlantis on them), and it's legitimately explained why you're the only one who can open them. One or two are even referred to as heirlooms by the families that keep them, and for the others, well, the entire world was flooded and all sorts of other things happened, so it's not so odd that they could end up everywhere. This doesn't explain why nobody cares when you open up their ancient heirlooms and keep the contents, though...
      • There is one case where the "nobody cares" aspect is explained - in one house, the man standing by the chest tells you, "This chest has been in the family for generations, but we can't open it. If you can open it, it's yours."
  • The Pokémon games (well, the portable ones, at least) leave ubiquitous orbs all over the place. Perhaps they are some kind of item ball?
    • In the Japanese, "Pokeballs" were called "Monster Balls", which does seem to imply that balls can be made to hold various things, not just Mons. This may explain the Inexplicable Treasure Chests as well as the Hyperspace Arsenal.
    • Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness use chests that simply look like Poké Balls. Although they appear to have a significantly larger carrying capacity than the balls found in the handheld game. (A chest may contain 3 of an item, rather than just 1 like in the handheld games.)
  • In Mega Man Legends the ruin systems Volnutt and The Bonnes dig in are loaded with uniform chests housing anything from keys, to refractor shards, to buster upgrades, to junk, to fairly common construction material. Considering they even house trapped chests and chest monsters, one may imagine they were designed with the expectation to be ransacked millennia in the future.
  • Mega Man Battle Network has Mystery Data, large, floating diamonds that have stuff in them. This includes Green Mystery Data, which, oddly enough, regenerates.
    • The Mystery Data in MMBN isn't inexplicable, though. In fact, it makes quite a bit of sense given the setting. The network is administered by various persons—and intended to be roamed freely by Navis, especially Navis belonging to kids. So it's entirely plausible that the Mystery Data is placed there deliberately as a treat for net-surfing Navis.
    • Mega Man Star Force has Mystery Waves. They're pretty much exactly the same.
  • Averted in Knights of the Old Republic, where items are stored in various types of lockers. Some are still empty.
    • It further subverts a related trope by the fact that, while people in homes are normally fine when you come in and help yourself to all their possessions, at one point in the second KotOR when you waltz into an apartment and snag a few items, the apartment's occupant shows up to berate you for stealing his stuff. This, however, is a case of Oneshot Revisionism.
    • In the Manaan levels in the first game, a survivor of the attack is actually hiding in a (full-sized) locker, so they do serve some useful purpose, after all.
      • People on Taris will ask you to take what you want as long as you don't hurt them. This happened every time.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, some treasure chests are outdoors, for example, in the middle of a swamp. Many are also trapped, even when there's nobody around who could have installed the traps.
  • Lost Odyssey attempts to avert this trope by disguising the chests as everyday items. Still, who keeps healing herbs, money and equipment behind posters, anyway?
  • Eternal Sonata has treasure chests which almost always contain character-specific weapons. As if they knew the party would be coming along...
  • Persona 3 has armor like dog suits and robot parts in briefcases around the dungeon (which is the main characters' transformed school, no less), almost as if some Cosmic Being knew you had a fighting dog and battle android in your party...
    • Given a cosmic being has a wiretap on the main character's soul, this may well be the case. And given the nature of Tartarus, the briefcases and their contents are among the least bizarre things.
    • Persona 4 either justifies this or not depending on the dungeon, but plays it completely straight nonetheless. Given the TV World is pretty much the collective unconscious, some dungeons it makes a modicum more sense to find random chests: possibly Yukiko's Castle but definitely Void Quest, the JRPG parody. Less so when visiting the bath house or strip club.
  • Live A Live hangs a lampshade on this one by featuring a man whose job seems to be putting treasure chests in places. At one point, if you release him from prison, he'll go back and put more stuff into the treasure chests you've opened.
  • Subverted rather morbidly in Suikoden III, where treasure is acquired by looting corpses, presumably of people killed by the local monsters. Strangely, Suikoden III is one of those games where treasure regenerates after a certain amount of time has passed...so evidently, some new guy bearing more treasure was considerate enough to go and die in exactly the same spot.
    • There is an interesting (or annoying, depending on your view) second subversion of the whole "treasure chests lying around to be looted by the heroes" thing: one of the four main characters that you control is grossed out by the concept of looting bodies and won't touch them, ever. However, he also has the least overworld map access of the four, so there are only a couple places where it would even come up.
  • The Fable games have two varieties of inexplicable treasure chests. One is the standard type, while the other requires silver keys that are collected around the game world. These keys can only be picked up by the hero, apparently, and their effects on NPCs are not explained or explored. There must be some reason nobody else has picked them up. But anyway: the presence of these treasure chests provides an interesting karmic conundrum. In these games, a player can go into a random person's house and steal items from their bookshelves and drawers. Doing so will register as a crime, with constables being alerted and naughty points being allotted. However, the player can open a treasure chest in the same person's house, take whatever it contains, and incur no penalty whatsoever.
  • Parasite Eve sort of uses this with storage boxes dotted throughout the city and you can store one item in each box too if you need to, but one has to wonder why there would be random guns in random parts of the city.
    • Well, it IS New York City...
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, as a way of keeping save file sizes down, takes this to a whole new level with regenerating chests, treasure boxes that actually refill themselves after a few days.
    • However, apart from that the chests are not that inexplicable. For a start, there's several different forms, so the chest in a dusty dungeon is not the same as the chest in a nobleman's palace, and neither are the same as in a lost elven city—unless, say, bandits decided to move in and bring their own sacks and chests. Also, some are empty, some are smashed apart, and others contain fairly useless items. Finally, the types of objects in each chest (or barrel, or coffin, etc.) are different depending on where they are - you'd find food in the marketplace, but not in a dungeon, and clothes in a chest of drawers but weapons in the chest, and so on and so forth.
    • Oblivion has an entirely different kind of inexplicable chest: the kind with a supposedly expensive and extremely difficult to pick 5-pin lock, which ends up containing twelve gold, a cheap set of scales, and a leek. Maybe the ancient elves just had really strange ideas of value.
    • Some of the places you loot have been explicitly looted by others in the past, who tell you that you might want to check for what any "new inhabitants" may have brought with them. It makes sense, since a cave you've raided will gain new items when it gains new inhabitants — though they may be only imps and giant rats.
  • The second Golden Sun features a dungeon where the first room contains about a dozen chests, which are revealed to be empty upon inspection. It had been visited by pirates, who took all the available goodies (that don't require Psynergy to reach).
    • In addition, the first dungeon (which served as the last dungeon in the first Golden Sun) has a chest that used to contain a high-level item. When you open it, it says there's still an Herb (minor healing item) inside. Why the previous party would have left this in a chest, however, is left to the player's imagination...
      • In the first game, by the time you would've gotten to that point, Herbs were useless.
  • A sidequest in The World Ends with You's endgame has cardboard boxes with items triggered by certain Event Flags; however, you do eventually find out who's been leaving them around just for you.
  • In Star Ocean, the last enemy you slay in each encounter will become a chest. Although this can be interpreted as a figurative representation rather than a literal one, as the chest will burst open to give you a bag of gold, a bag of experience points, and any items the encounter gives.
    • Disgaea 2 also has enemies that become chests but this only happens if the last attack was made with a bow. No explanation is given as to why this is.
  • Blue Dragon has special "Ancient" treasure chests (grey metal with a jewel on top) that sometimes only appear when a certain enemy is defeated, but there are still dozens of plain wooden chests littered everywhere in the world. And no one has ever tried to open them.
  • In the beginning of Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura the blimp with the main hero crash lands in the wilderness quite a walk from the nearest town. You step just a dozen steps aside from the crash site and what do you see? A frigging huge treasure chest! And its contents change depending on the PC's race! And in most of the cases they don't match!(i.g. you'll get a bulking set of enchanted armor if you play as a flimsy elf.) Who's fooling around there, that's what I'd like to know.
    • ...Maybe it was somebody's luggage? You do find corpses and bits of blimp strewn all over the area too, if memory serves.
      • That, or it was the random possessions of the imp who was guarding it. He even built a little camp around the chest.
  • The Granstream Saga is slightly better about this—there are still plenty of chests (including in a poisonous-gas-filled volcano), but the items in them are often rusty weapons or broken armor, so at least there's an excuse for other people not emptying them and their not being inexplicable well-maintained. (And fortunately, you happen to have a magic armlet that can restore broken items!) The trope goes as usual for the chests with healing herbs or fruits in them, of course.
  • Lampshaded and invoked hilariously in Ar Tonelico 3. Who put the chests everywhere? Tilia did. Over seven hundred years ago.
    • She just wanted people to visit the inside of the tower.
    • Why is there a treasure chest in the sewer? Because nobody would ever want to go down there, obviously!
    • Instead of just opening treasure chests, why not rummage their stuff in general?
  • Lampshaded in a skit in Tales of Vesperia, when an exhausted Karol describes their trip through the desert:
    Karol: Sand and bones, cacti and treasure chests, the sky and the wind and the sun and...
  • Special mention goes to the Mother series, where they aren't just treasure chests, but PRESENTS literally gift-wrapped for you. In Mother 3, this goes to the extreme in how Inexplicable these Treasure Chests are by some containing fireworks that go off when you open them, bursts of music, sound effects, and/or smells. One present is an entire onsen (hot spring) in a present. Which your entire team can bath in to restore health and PSI.
  • Averted in Dubloon which, being a pirate-themed RPG, most (if not all) of the treasure chests make perfect sense.
  • Possibly justified in Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (they were absent in the first game) by the Animus putting them there to make sure Ezio has what he needed. Other times, the chests actually make some sense (such as the Assassin's Tombs and Lairs of Romulus).
    • Toned down somewhat in Assassin's Creed III, where the chests' locks not only have to be picked, but they are also far rarer and larger. Since they are usually placed inside forts, it is implied that they are the regimental funds.
  • Valkyrie Profile has treasure chests in places that aren't even inhabited by sapient beings. Those chests might contain godly artifacts that the game urge you to return to Odin. Maybe the servants of Hel brought them there.
    • About the only treasure chest that is explicable is the one that contains Creation Gem in the Tower of Lezard Valeth. Must have been part of his project to create homunculus.
  • Taken to absurd lengths in free-to-play in-browser RPG Arcuz. Because the game can only handle items occurring inside chests, enemies "drop" items in chests that fall out of the sky when they are killed. This could be excused as metaphorical shorthand—looking in a chest as visual representation for looting the body—except that not all enemies drop chests, and when they do the chests are empty 50% of the time.
  • Mass Effect 2 justifies this with having research data on weapons scanned directly from the guns themselves and Shepard taking credits from lost datapads and computers. It gets a bit less justified when Shepard can get "salvage" from computers and medi-gel stations and have it instantaneously turned into credits without having to sell any of it.
    • The explanation is that "valuable" technologies get uploaded to Cerberus when you scan them, then they pay you a bounty for the tech (which explains why you can't loot just anything any more). The real bizarre thing is what they're willing to pay for, such as scraps of Purgatory's hull or random bits of equipment in a Citadel machine shop.
  • Dark Souls has chests just chilling out in random spots in the world. Some make more sense than others.
  • In Master Of The Monster Lair, you as the main character build your own dungeon out of tunnels and specialized rooms for monsters to live in. One of those rooms is a treasure chest room, where monsters are inclined to just dump any equipment they have on their person.
  • Averted in Evil Islands. The few treasure chests that you find usually have some kind of background that you can check accesing the quest menu.
  • Starting with part 2, the Video Game/Disgaea series has treasure chests on specific story maps as well as random ones. In addition killing enemies can create chests. Disgaea 2 also slightly averts the trope in that enemies will attack chests with just as much, if not more, priority to attacking your party.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Far Cry 3 has myriad "loot chests" scattered about the world, some of which are quite hard to get to. A few are located in ancient, sealed tombs, with typical contents being (to quote one Redditor): "A poker chip, a photo of a dwarf, and $7 - I'd really like to hear the story behind that loot". Such feeble, anachronistic contents are bad enough, but many chests that are much easier to locate - in enemy outposts, for example - contain significantly better loot.
  • Minecraft has these in randomly-generated dungeons, often containing things like string, some cocoa beans, a bucket and a vinyl record. Features a rare inversion, too; treasure chests are fairly easy to build, so if you're playing in a multiplayer server, you can place one in a hard-to-reach spot as an Easter Egg for another player.

Non-video game examples:

    Literature 
  • In the Discworld book The Last Hero, this sort of thing is accepted by the barbarian heroes of the Silver Horde as a regular occurrence in dungeons, along with medkits and similar items. When an outsider mentions how strange it is, they're shocked on realizing he makes sense, and begin to suspect something's not right with the world...
    • Dark Lord Harry Dread said he maintains them in his evil lairs, as part of the whole hero/villain arrangement.
    • The related phenomenon of treasure being arbitrarily hidden under altars is Lampshaded all the way back in The Colour Of Magic, when Hrun the Barbarian Hero takes it for granted that riches simply turn up there, like apples under apple trees.
  • In The Elminster Series, apparently one of Elminster's jobs is stocking dungeons.
    • Somewhat justified in that he's a Chosen of the goddess of magic, so spreading magic and advancing its cause is indeed part of his "job"...and leaving the occasional fake "old" spellbook or magic item in some dungeon or tomb for adventurers to eventually discover is one of the more entertaining ways to do so.

    Web Comics 
  • RPG World parodied this by having Hero make up an almost plausible story about world-venturing pirates who hid their treasure all over the world in chests when their golden age of piracy came to an end. Reka, the resident pirate of the group, instantly calls him out on it.
  • The eponymous Goblins had a token Poorly Locked Treasure Chest placed right in the middle of their warcamp for no reason whatsoever apart for serving as an incentive for the adventurers to raid the camp. A Genre Savvy goblin confronted the seer of the tribe about it and tried to reason that if they had to flaunt the chest like that, maybe they could at least use some of the magical items stashed inside to repel the impending attack. But respected customs are not to be discarded so easily just because it "makes sense", you know!
    • When they did end up using the items, one of them turned out to be insanely dangerous for the wielder. It seems that fact just got lost amid the tradition.
  • Played straight and justified in universe in Our Little Adventure. Julie explains that either other adventurers leave the junk behind for some reason, or it's simply the work of the Lady of Fate and Fortune.
    • Finding a cube apparently always means treasure.
  • Justified in Homestuck; the lab complex where the Trolls spend most of their time is littered with chests full of random items. The existence of the chests is probably down to the video game that the characters are basically living in, and the reason they're always full is that the Trolls keep stealing one anothers' property and hiding it elsewhere. Meanwhile, John's game planet is covered in 'Pyxis tubes' which often contain objects of variable worth, and these are also justified as that planet's mail system.
    Karkat: WHAT IS IS WITH ALL THESE CHESTS ANYWAY? AND WHY DO WE KEEP SQUIRRELING OUR USELESS SHIT AWAY IN THEM? I REALLY SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN A MEMO ABOUT THIS. LIKE, THE RULES OF CHESTIQUETTE.
    [...]
    Kanaya: Well I Think The Chests Are Fun They Make For Nice Suprises


Player: Who would actually go through the trouble to leave this chest all the way out here? Ah, Who cares? Free Stuff!

Gold Silver Copper StandardTreasure TropesLoot Drama
Inevitable TournamentRole-Playing GameInfinity+1 Sword
Idiosyncratic Combo LevelsVideo Game RewardsInfinite 1-Ups
RPG WorldImageSource/Web ComicsWrap Around
Improbable Power DiscrepancyAcceptable Breaks from RealityInfinite Flashlight

alternative title(s): Inexplicable Treasure Chest; Treasure Chest
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