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Locked in a Freezer

Two or more characters are locked in a walk-in freezer, meat locker, bank vault, or some other small, contained space where they're subjected to extreme cold, lack of oxygen, or both. Death is usually imminent. The characters talk a lot, often coming to a greater understanding of each other. Rescue comes in the nick of time. Sometimes.

Of course, in most places in real life such freezers have to be openable from the inside precisely to prevent this kind of thing from happening. The best treatments of this trope provide some explanation for why it isn't so (e.g. the lock has been deliberately sabotaged in such way, the characters don't know how to open the door for some reason or there's something blocking the door on the outside, etc.)

When not in normal use, many restaurant and hotel walk-in freezers are security-locked on the outside with a padlock and hasp to prevent against theft - not unreasonable as the contents can be worth tens of thousands of pounds. This will also over-ride the safety release on the inside door. While whoever locks up at night is legally expected to check first, there is potential scope here for dramatic potential. Workers dealing with walk-in freezers in Great Britain are legally entitled to a break every fifteen minutes at normal room temperature to guard against hypothermia...

When done deliberately, this is a kind of Death Trap.

Sometimes used as a Framing Device for a Clip Show, as parodied in the second (yes, second) episode of Clerks: The Animated Series. Also a good setup for a Bottle Episode, where the entire show takes place within that one room.

If the characters are locked in, but not in peril, they are simply Locked in a Room.

Sometimes used in conjunction with Snowed-In. One common variation is having all the characters go to a cabin, then having an avalanche trap them there. Since the peril takes place over a longer period of time, this usually allows for more Locked in a Room-style interpersonal interaction and Character Development. Another variation has the trapped characters being hostages in some sort of Sadistic Choice situation. Another, much more fun variation adds a pregnant woman and the inevitable Screaming Birth. This version usually takes place in an elevator, rather than a freezer. Sub-zero temperatures are not conducive to childbirth. Claustrophobia makes things interesting too. Another variation has trapped characters of the opposite sex warm each other with their bodies' heat, which leads to even greater understanding of each other.

Unrelated to Stuffed into the Fridge. Similar in ease-of-escape terms but opposite in temperature terms to Sauna of Death.


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Examples:

    Advertising 
  • A Jack in the Box commercial featuring Jack finding himself locked in a freezer with a male, middle aged, overweight employee. A young, female employee comes in to look for something just as the two are trying the body-heat huddle.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Used with some regularity in the Macross series. In the original, Hikaru/Rick and Minmei are trapped in actually a very LARGE area of the SDF-1, but as the ship is massive and not fully understood even by the crew, they have no way out and run the risk of starvation before being rescued. In Macross Frontier, Alto, Sheryl and Ranka are trapped in a small, hardened combat shelter (to shield them from the local area being reduced to vacuum) and the air recycling gives out.
  • An episode in the third generation of Robotech, the heroes are trapped in a collapsed subway. Drama ensues.
  • In the anime version of D.N.Angel, Daisuke and Satoshi get locked in the school freezer. In an interesting reversal, they go in as friends and start chugging through some of the requisite Character Development - including trying to warm each other with their bodies - but one of their topics is a bit sensitive, and it leads to their alter-egos taking over and trying to kill each other.
  • Subverted in Glass Mask. Tsukikage locks Maya and Ayumi in a meat locker not to get them to understand each other better, but in order for them to better understand the characters they'll be performing in an upcoming play.
  • Matsuzaka, from High School Debut, decided to lock Haruna and Yoh inside the school basement's freezer as revenge for Haruna beating her in softball during middle school. Subverted, however, in that Matsuzaka only planned to lock them in there long enough for them to start fighting over supplies (one blanket, one piece of chocolate, etc.) and eventually break up, leaving Haruna heartbroken. Completely backfired, obviously.
  • Used in Akikan!, Melon trying to cooldown as her carbon dioxide was going away. The handle eventually gets pulled off by Kakeru, completely trapping them.
  • The Pokémon episode "Snow Way Out" had Ash and his Pokémon trapped in a snow cave during a blizzard, trying to warm themselves off of Charmander's tail. Ash shields a windy cave opening with his body, which leads to a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when the Pokémon refuse to return to their Poké Balls, opting to stay cold with their trainer instead.
  • Happens in an episode of Black Jack, where Black Jack is locked inside a giant nuclear shelter with a bunch of whiny businessmen. As time passes, their oxygen supplies diminish as well. Seeing Black Jack as their only hope, the businessmen offer him huge amounts of money to get them out of there. He makes sure they honor their word.
  • Toyed with in Hana no Ko Lunlun. A little girl is trapped in an unused freezer in Sicily and the man who opens said freezer and saves her is actually a Punch Clock Villain who's on the run and has great lockpicking skills. Later, Lunlun tries to stop a robbery and gets locked in a tightair vault; the Punch Clock Villain hesitates at first since he might get caught right before the Statute of Limitations kicks in, but ultimately goes saves her... and when he's done, the state has already passed (and by five minutes), thus the policeman in charge lets him go as a free man, even congratulating him on a work well done.

    Audio Play 

    Comics 
  • Played straight in the limited series/graphic novel Arkham Asylum: Living Hell. Main character Warren White, "the Great White Shark", sent to the eponymous madhouse to escape jail time, finds himself spending several months severely abused by the inmates and asylum employees, culminating to one night where truly psychotic inmate, Jane Doe, kidnaps White during a asylum-wide communications blackout and takes him to the freezer usually used for storing Mr. Freeze. White is then tortured by Doe, discovers that she is going to replace him using a mansuit, made with real skin, and locked in said freezer with the temperature lowered down to an extreme subzero state. The result is White losing several of his fingers, hair, ears and nose and upper lip to frostbite, making for some horrific imagery. He is eventually saved by, of all people, the ghost of the man who White had pushed to suicide, who wished to haunt White, but ultimately ended up being unable to do so. This all leads up to White's descent into madness that turns him into a "super" villain.
  • The Flash villain known as Heatwave was trapped in one as a child, leading to his crippling fear of coldness and his fire gimmick.
  • In Horndog, Leonard gets locked in a storeroom in a parody of The Shining.

    Films 
  • 1950s cult classic The Blob does unusual things with this one. The eponymous blob is running around a small town one night, eating people. We are now aware of the dangers. The main character and TheChick run into a grocery store meat locker to hide. They learn two things: 1) Amorphous blobs have no difficulty fitting through cracks beneath meat locker doors and 2) the Blob doesn't like cold.
  • Short Circuit 2 had Ben Jarvhi and his con man associate Fred locked in a Chinese restaurant freezer by the bad guys, and manage to type out a series of musical clues to Ben's girlfriend Sandy for her to follow and rescue them, but not before the requisite talk and coming to terms with one another.
  • In the animated film Flushed Away, the hero's first encounter with the villain culminates in their being trapped in a freezer (?), about to be frozen with liquid nitrogen. Naturally, they escape within half a minute; the two henchmen we see the most of during the film get frozen instead (they went to check on the prisoners), but later get free (and aren't dead).
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight sees Charlie Baltimore and her daughter locked in a freezer. Charlie uses a meathook to scrape a hole in the ground under the door, fills the hole with gasoline, and blows the door off its hinges. She's nothing if not resourceful.
  • In the Kevin Bacon vehicle Hollow Man, Elizabeth Shue's character (the former girlfriend of Sebastian, the man who is now invisible) and her boyfriend are trapped in a freezer. The boyfriend is unconscious and bleeding severely, so she seals his wounds with duct tape, then rigs a magnetic device out of a defibrilator and assorted objects to open the door (which had been sealed from the outside).
    • The scene from Scary Movie 2 is a direct parody of this. Cindy manages to build a whole bulldozer to knock the door down.
  • The protagonist of Belgian film L'Iceberg is trapped in the freezer of the fast-food restaurant where she's a shift manager. Rather than bonding with someone else, she has an epiphany of some sort (since it's nearly a silent film, it's never made clear exactly what was on her mind). Although she's discovered and freed the next morning and returns to her family, shortly afterwards she develops a compulsion first to imitate an iceberg in her sleep and then to actually desert her family to visit one.
  • In the third Saw movie, a side character is not only locked in a freezer but chained by the wrists to the ceiling, naked, and periodically sprayed with cold water while the protagonist tries to find a way to free her. He fails to save her, but manages to escape himself.
  • Jack Nicholson is locked in a storeroom in The Shining.
  • In the Danish film The Green Butchers, a number of characters die or nearly die by being trapped in a meat locker overnight. The first one was an accident.
  • In the comedy The Tiger Makes Out, the frustrated protagonist attempts to abduct a woman as a social statement - he stalks one potential target, a restaurant worker, into a walk-in freezer, and gets trapped inside as she leaves, unaware of him.
  • Under The Rainbow has a scene where Chevy Chase and Carrie Fisher's characters get trapped in this manner. For Fisher, it's made worse by the fact that she's clad only in bra and panties (leading to a You Must Be Cold moment).
  • Disney's Tangled has this with Rapunzel and Flynn in a blocked tunnel filling with water. They have their deep and meaningful and share their deepest secrets; Rapunzel's, incidentally, gets them out.

    Literature 
  • The Discworld novel Men at Arms has Odd Couple Cuddy and Detritus locked in a freezer as part of becoming Buddy Cops. Due to the setting, Magitek has to be invoked to justify the existence of the freezer in the first place. Cuddy got out when Detritus threw him out of a window...
    • In the later novel Thud!, it is discovered that at the legendary battle of Koom Valley, the Kings of Dwarfs and Trolls, trapped in a cave, had played the titular board game while waiting for death. This leads to a detente between the two races.
  • Subverted in Saki's The Interlopers. Two men arguing over a strip of land end up trapped under a fallen tree. They form a friendship, but only as a form of insurance, as they assume that one of their friends will come and save them, and both would rather live than take the gamble of possibly being shot by the other man's allies. However, they do not get saved in the nick of time as they expect, but are instead eaten by wolves.
  • In Coupland's jPod, Evil Mark managed to get himself locked in a U-Store-It for four days with only a bottle of Gatorade autographed by John Madden and a pack of gum and collectable football cards. He now surrounds himself with as many edible objects as possible, including a stapler made of marzipan...
  • In Polar Star, the sequel to Gorky Park, Renko is locked in the freezer of a Soviet factory ship by some people trying to kill him. He tries to get out by lighting some oily rags near the heat sensors, but it doesn't work. Ironically he then gets freed by someone walking past who hears him singing (as he's now high from the fumes).
  • The plot of the Italian novel Blackout by Gianluca Morozzi. Unusually for the trope, it's understood that the Evil Elevator is behaving strangely and that there should be an automatic alarm going off, their cell phones should still be working, and the doors shouldn't be wedged shut. It turns out that the elevator was rigged. Two young TV executives looking to break into the reality show industry came up with the idea to select an apartment at random, fix the lifts, wait until two or three people were in the elevator together, and then put it on lockdown and film the results. Driven by greed, they don't stop the cameras even after some seriously messed-up stuff has gone down, but to protect themselves from liability they decide to market the resulting fiasco as recordings taken by the elevator's security camera, which the station purchased and edited into a TV program after the survivors were rescued, instead of as an event orchestrated by the producers. The book lampshades the fact that "there were so many holes in this version of events, you could have driven a truck through them", explaining that the Italian populace is such that they're willing to swallow this for the sake of entertainment, and that the people who comment on the doors working strangely, et cetera, are dismissed as paranoid conspiracy theorists. The American straight-to-video adaptation of the novel just has the elevator crash for no reason.
  • In the Goosebumps novel Egg Monsters From Mars, the twelve-year-old hero is locked in a deep freezer with the eponymous Egg Monsters. They form a blanket over him so he will not freeze, and eventually he escapes. Now consider the implications of this given that the book ends with him laying an egg on the front lawn. Yeah.
  • A key plot point in The George Elliot Murders by Edith Skom.
  • In The Stand (at least the uncut version) there is a series of vignettes about how people who were immune to the superflu died of other causes. A particularly nasty woman who was overjoyed at the death of her husband and child manages to lock herself in a walk-in freezer. The power was off, so she didn't freeze to death but she could die of starvation and thirst. No big loss.
  • In a scene in the Star Trek novel The Final Reflection by John M Ford, the protagonist (a Klingon captain) and two loyal subordinates are locked in his ship's walk-in freezer by a traitor. The situation is even more serious for the hero than usual because Klingon biology is keyed to very warm temperatures; while trying to escape, he remembers stories about exposure to subzero temperatures causing the blood to freeze in other Klingons' surface capillaries and the skin to turn black and slough off "like bark from a tree".
  • In O. Henry's A Retrieved Reformation, Jimmy Valentine, a retired safe cracker, has to come out of retirement to save his fiance's niece from a bank vault. Unfortunately, he's still at large, and the detective looking for him happens to be in the bank watching him. He lets him go at the end.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 novel, Atlas Infernal by Rob Sanders has the protagonists attempting to escape an enemy fleet intent on capturing them by purposely flying into a "cold star" (called a Kryonova, it saps all heat from the area around it, should not be possible, but being deep in the Negative Space Wedgie that is the Eye of Terror, you are lucky if it is only the laws of physics working backwards) to inflict Locked in a Freezer on their pursuers as well as themselves. To keep from freezing all the way to death and their ship becoming brittle and shattering under its own physics like their pursuers, they set their ship's fusion core to critical meltdown in an attempt to counteract the heat-sapping effects of getting near the Kryonova. Naturally this ruins their ship, but a last minute intervention by the Magnificent Bastard Monster Clown Harliquins sees them safely out of the Eye and into the much safer Webway. The purpose of their intervention isn't quite as nice as it seems...

    Live Action TV 
  • I Love Lucy, "The Freezer". They actually did this twice; there is another episode during the story arc where they go to Europe, and they get caught in a cabin in Switzerland that's buried under tons of snow.
    • But in the freezer episode only Lucy is trapped.
  • In the Magnum, P.I. episode "Paper War", Magnum and Higgins are trapped in an elevator in a building scheduled for demolition, and end up resolving some of their animosity, which had escalated to ridiculous heights by the middle of the episode.
  • Alice, "Don't Lock Now"
  • Star Trek: Enterprise, "Shuttlepod One" has Malcolm Reed and Trip Tucker stuck on the eponymous shuttlepod, seemingly the last survivors of their crew. It's this episode that starts the two of them on the path to developing a genuine friendship.
    • Although, actually, the real problem here is the danger of running out of oxygen. They deliberately shut off the heating only to preserve as much oxygen as they can.
  • Tom and B'Elanna's Relationship Upgrade comes as a result of an imminent-death-admission-of-attraction while they are stuck in spacesuits running out of oxygen with Voyager out of range of their comms and their shuttle destroyed.
    • Also an interesting variant in the appropriately-titled episode "One", in which Seven of Nine is forced to run the ship by herself for six days after the Doctor's mobile holo-emitter malfunctions with the rest of the crew in cryo-stasis due to the hostile environment and, due to her history as a Borg drone (and thus member of a collective consciousness), she suffers much more severe psychological effects of the isolation than a human would.
  • The Babylon 5 episode "Convictions" sees this happen to G'kar and Londo Mollari in a sealed elevator. Subverted, as G'kar spends the entire affair happily hoping they'd die before being found, since it would mean Londo's death without G'kar being culpable — the first thing the two do when the elevator is unsealed (following G'kar's Big "NO!" since this means they'll both survive) is to exchange Volleying Insults indicating they hate each other even more than before.
  • Red Dwarf, "Marooned": With a slight twist, as Lister is in mortal danger, but hologram Rimmer is not.
    • Also subverted by the ending, where Jerk Ass Rimmer emerges with a new appreciation of "nice guy" Lister, until he learns Lister lied to his face and then destroyed Rimmer's property to cover up.
  • The Brady Bunch Greg and Bobby get stuck in Sam's meat locker when Bobby closed the door to measure himself to see if he had grown, since he was upset about being short. He felt better after his diminutive size allowed him to climb through the small window on the door.
  • In the episode Baby It's Cold Inside of Three's Company, Jack and Mr. Furley are locked inside Mr. Angelino's freezer after they were robbed. While inside and thinking they were going to die, Jack tells Mr. Furley that he isn't gay.
    • Jack, Janet, Cindy and Mr. Furley fake being trapped in an elevator to try to scare Bart Furley into giving Ralph his job back, only to find that Bart is no longer claustrophobic after buying the building just to own an elevator to overcome his fears. (Upon hearing this, it is Ralph that gets claustrophobic.)
  • It's Garry Shandling's Show poked fun at this device when Garry got locked in a freezer with Jeff Goldblum. Garry said in an aside, "Can you see this coming?"
  • Night Court had a classic "Locked In an Elevator" episode, where Dan was locked in with Roz and two sumo wrestlers.
    • Another episode had Harry locking himself inside a tiny, airtight safe.
  • An episode of The Pretender opened with Jarod and Argyle locked in one, and most of the episode is a flashback leading up to how they wound up there.
  • One Life to Live had some episodes involving Viki and Dorian, two of the show's older characters, where trapped in a cave following an avalanche. They learned to respect each other, as well as dreamed of what it was like to be each other.
    • In fact, their last scene together was when they were locked in a conference room due to the door jamming. They spent much of the episode remembering the fond memories of each other and the friendship they developed.
  • Kenan & Kel (not to be confused with Kevin & Kell) in one episode wherein Kel mistakes the freezer for a restroom in a restaurant due to a faulty sign, which he himself knocked over just then and accidentally placed in the wrong direction. New people keep coming in and locking the door behind themselves before the others can stop them. Eventually the entirety of the restaurant, from the staff to the customers, except for one guy, end up trapped in the freezer. Eventually, that one guy needed to go to the restroom, which results in everybody but him and the main characters running out free.
  • An episode of The Dukes of Hazzard in which Uncle Jesse and Boss Hogg trapped together in an airtight bank vault subverts this somewhat. The characters come to the required greater understanding of each other, even becoming friendly as the air grows thin. Them Duke Boys show up in the nick of time, and after the rescue mirthfully point out the air vent in the seemingly airtight vault, turning it into Locked in a Room.
  • The MacGyver episode "Last Stand" has MacGyver and a fellow hostage locked in a freezer by a sadistic armed robber. It's only part of the episode, and Mac gets the two of them out instead of just sitting around awaiting rescue, but the statutory amount of heart-to-heart talking still manages to take place.
    • A clearer example of the trope, notwithstanding that no freezers are involved, is the episode "Phoenix Under Siege", with MacGyver and his estranged grandfather trapped in a room with a time bomb.
    • Yet another example in "Soft Touch", when Penny and a Russian defector are Locked in a Freezer by assassins, leaving Mac to get them out. No heart to heart talk in this one though (since the two first met that very day).
  • An episode of British children's show Press Gang had Spike trapped under the rubble of a collapsed record shop, only able to speak to another trapped girl through a piece of piping. She later died of her injuries. A later episode had Lynda trapped in a bank vault and running out of air.
  • During season 1 of Stargate SG-1, Carter and O'Neill are trapped in Antarctica (which they think is an ice planet) when the gate malfunctions (due to it being fired at by enemy Jaffa). Carter digs out the DHD from a block of ice and tries to dial Earth, but fails since they're already on Earth. So they spend a while talking before Daniel Jackson's idea gets them rescued, right when O'Neill is about to die from the cold and a broken leg.
  • In an episode of Stargate Atlantis, Rodney and a Red Shirt are flying back to base when their shuttle malfunctions, crashing into the sea. After the other guy sacrifices himself for him, Rodney finds himself in a race against time to escape, alone on the bottom of the sea as the leaking cargo hold slowly fills with water. He spends the episode arguing first with the Puddle-jumper (an inanimate object) and then with an amorous hallucination of Sam Carter.
    • In another episode, Sheppard and the pregnant Teyla end up in the situation. The former references the pregnant woman sub-trope, but all that happens is Teyla has her baby kick a couple of times.
    • The season 4 episode Trio has Carter, McKay, and Keller all trapped in a room in an unstable Genii mine, where they try to build their way out through various schemes. Also, a few children show up who could send for help, but only mock the team's plight instead. So they have to get themselves out after all.
  • Desperate Housewives used this plot once in the third season.
  • An episode of the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids TV series featured Wayne and his estranged brother Randy accidentally shrunk and then placed inside of a Play Doh container by a little kid, who forgot to put air holes, leaving them to slowly suffocate. Subverted by the fact that the talk causes them to start fighting and bumping against the walls, giving them the idea to tip over the container and escape.
  • Season 1, episode 4 of Ashes to Ashes — Gene and Alex are locked in an airtight (and overheated) vault while searching a government facility. As is typical for any encounter involving, well, Gene Hunt, no one's feelings are directly discussed, but shirts are removed and Alex gets to come face-to-face with her fear of death.
    • In a later episode, Alex, on her own, gets locked in a walk-in freezer.
  • Only Fools and Horses has one very moving scene where Del and Rodney are trapped in an elevator — Rodney's wife has recently miscarried, and Del finally manages to get him to talk about it. It is eventually revealed that Del hit the emergency stop himself, just to trap Rodney into talking.
  • Due South did this a couple of times. Once in an actual meat locker (they wrapped themselves in meat in an attempt to keep warm while they reconciled. Then in another episode they locked themselves in a bank vault (Intentionally, Fraser's idea) to prevent a bank robbery and then...rigged the sprinkler system to slowly fill it with water (also intentionally, also Fraser's idea), not only adding danger and speeding up their buddy talk but saving the day when the bank vault is finally blown open and thousands of gallons of water deluge the crooks, allowing the duo to take them out.
    • There was also the time that Fraser and his superior officer, Meg Thatcher, were locked into a giant egg incubator. This lead to a certain amount of stripping, sexual tension, and a near-death near-confession.
  • The Canadian show Fries With That?, being set in a fast food restaurant, tends to have such situations happen every so often.
  • Eureka: "House Rules" is the embodiment of this trope. Later on this happens with Cafe Diem's freezer.
  • Benson, "Cold Storage"
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had like two of them. One where Wil, Carlton, and Uncle Phil are trapped ina cave in a mountain, and the other was a less perilous probably more Lock In A Room situation (but why bother putting them on different pages?) Where Will, Carlton, and Jazz are trapped in an Elevator.
  • The NCIS episode "Boxed In" sees Tony and Ziva locked into a shipping container by gun-toting smugglers. It doesn't result in any appreciable change in their relationship, but it does capitalize on their Unresolved Sexual Tension.
    • Somewhat irrelevant, but according to the DVD commentary, the container they were filming in was actually really, really hot, to the point that the actors had to be swabbed off between takes.
    • Additionally, the season 10 premier episode "Extreme Prejudice" has Tony and Ziva trapped in an elevator. The danger in this circumstance comes from possible heat exhaustion and the fact that half the building just exploded and could potentially come crashing down upon them at any moment. The writers took this as another opportunity to cash in on their Unresolved Sexual Tension with arguably better results...
  • Similar to the Stargate Atlantis example, Booth is locked in a ship rigged to blow by the Gravedigger, with the ghost of CPL Teddy Parker, Parker Booth's namesake. Booth gets a chance to resolve some issues from his Army days.
    • This, combined with Buried Alive is the Gravedigger's MO, typically the victims are buried in a capsule of some sort (a car or some other large container) with enough air to last 24 hours. They then put them up for ransom. Two little boys died despite the ransom being paid because the Gravedigger had forgotten to make sure there was enough air for both of them, and the same thing almost happened to Bones and Hodgins when she stumbled accross the kidnapping-in-progress.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Midnight", the Doctor goes on a shuttle tour with a handful of civilian tourists, leaving Donna behind in the belief that it's going to be a lovely, peril-free trip. Unfortunately, it turns out the diamond-encrusted, radiation-blasted planet the hotel is built on isn't as uninhabited as previously thought: the shuttle is disabled, the drivers killed by direct exposure to the sun, and something gets inside - something that takes people's voices. What follows is a horrible subversion of the show's normal Humans Are Special theme, as the other passangers descend into murderous paranoia, completely ignoring the Doctor's pleas for calm and rationality.
    • Later, in "Amy's Choice," the Doctor, Amy, and Rory are trapped by a man who calls himself "The Dream Lord." In one reality, they're being swarmed by instant-death-gas-spewing aliens. In the other, the Tardis is alowly drifting toward a "cold star"- that is, a star that emits cold instead of heat. At the end, the real one turns out to be neither. It was all a hallucination caused by psychic pollen.
    • This episode is also important to this trope because it is while trapped in the dream reality (after Rory is killed by one of the aliens, who turns him to dust) that Amy realizes it is really Rory she loves and then she proves it by killing herself and the Doctor by crashing a van, thus destroying the first dream reality.
  • A Happy Days episode has Richie and his friends lock themselves inside an airtight vault in the basement of Howard's hardware store.
  • Lampshaded to within an inch of its life in an episode of That's My Bush!.
  • A variation on CSI: New York had an investigator trapped in the victim's time-locked panic room with the corpse. Unlike most examples of this trope, the boxed character's life wasn't seriously in jeopardy; rather, it's the evidence he had to salvage in haste, using improvised materials, before decomposition set in and ruined the clues.
  • True Blood's wacky season 2 plot line had Andy and Sam locked in the freezer of Merlotte's while hiding from a deranged mob trying to sacrifice Sam to Satan. They got out eventually, using brute force and some amusing trickery.
  • The 1960s Batman had at least one or two episodes where the Dynamic Duo were trapped in this manner by Mr. Freeze, usually at temperatures of -20F or less. In one instance, as the shrinking square of heat became only big enough for one person, both Batman and Robin jumped out to spare the other. Batman grabbed Robin and put him right back in. How did he get out of it? Thermal Bat-underwear.
  • In an episode of White Collar Peter and Neal end up locked in an air-tight vault.
    • The problem here is that they could get out by pressing a button, but then the episode's Big Bad would shoot them. All the while the air is being sucked out.
  • In Dark Oracle, Dizzy and Rebecca two supporting characters, are locked in a school cafeteria meat locker by a crazed stalker. When they get out they're dating, to no one's surprise.
  • Played straight in Castle. Beckett and Castle get themselves locked in a freezer in the two-parter "Setup"/"Countdown".
  • Spooks episodes "I Spy Apocalypse" and "Diana" both featured the main cast locked down in the Grid, apparently in mortal danger:
    • The former episode saw a scheduled lock-down exercise turn into the real thing (or so it seemed) after reports of a real chemical attack on London reached the Grid.
    • The latter featured the entire cast being held hostage by a deranged ex-coworker who had a bomb and a bone to pick about Princess Diana's death. Turned out the bomb was a fake, and the hostage situation was part of an elaborate ruse to trick the Royal Family into moving to a "safe location" which had a real bomb planted in the walls.
  • In one episode of The Munsters, Herman and Grandpa get locked in a bank vault when they try to return some money that they accidentally stole (Herman having been mistaken for a bank robber earlier in the episode). Fortunately for them, the real robbers show up and blow open the vault, after which they pass out in fright when Herman and Grandpa step out to thank them for the rescue.
  • One of Sheldon Cooper's more practical and sensible ideas is for the rest of The Big Bang Theory's core crew to acclimatise for a trip to the North Pole by spending time inside the lock-up deep freeze room at the Cheesecake Factory. Irked by a passing Sheldon insult, Penny invites him to reflect on the fact the freezer may only be opened from the outside and she might just go a bit deaf...
    • And Howard, Raj and Leonard spend three months locked in a freezer with Sheldon - on the grand scale - while on a research trip well above the Arctic Circle. Howard dismisses the idea of building a crossbow, figuring that the most elegant engineering solution to the problem of offing Sheldon will be with an icicle.

    Manhwa 

    Video Games 
  • Sanitarium started a level where you had a limited amount of time to unlock a morgue freezer door or die. It even showed your breath when door was closed and everything is frozen, and the breath clouds and ice disappear when it is opened. That, plus a person stuck in one of the storage cabinets defrosts.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance has this as the explanation for where the staff of a base that was taken over by AIM Troopers has gone: The were forced into a cold storage chamber, and except for some minor cases of frost bite they were perfectly fine.
  • Pathways Into Darkness has you locked in an airtight room at one point. A Guide Dang It to escape from, you need to equip the item that makes time go faster.
  • The Silent Hill series did this several times, for example the Flesh Lip/Hanger Boss Battle where Laura locks you in a room in the hospital. Other examples: the Bug Room in the Historical Society, where James is locked in a room with bloodthirsty insects and his flashlight battery goes dead, and the Bloody Mirror Room in Evil Brookhaven Hospital (SH3), where the door locks and Heather's life slowly drains, but the door unlocks just in time, when the reflection stops moving. Not to be confused with the Boss Battle with Eddie that takes place in a literal meat freezer, where you aren't forcibly locked in.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion there is a short story about this. Even thought it's named The Locked Room, a thirsty ancient vampire definitely makes it the dangerous variant.
  • This is what can happen in one mission in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Your lawyer friend will get scared by the gun fight and runs to a meat locker to hide in. If you follow him in and there's mooks around, a mook can actually lock you and your friend inside the freezer, making the mission a failure.
  • In the Nintendo DS version of The Sims 2, there's a huge freezer. Often, a friend will be trapped in the freezer and will need you to rescue them (by simply going up to them and pressing "Rescue.") While being in the freezer decreases your sanity, you can regain it by using the meat punching bag in the same room.
  • Happens to Junpei, June and Santa in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. It first seems to be a murder attempt by Lotus, but is cleared up to be a trap of sorts.
  • In Escape from Horrorland, after Lizzie suddenly goes missing soon after the two of you land in Werewolf Village, you find her in the butcher shop, locked inside the freezer, covered in frost and too numb with cold and fear to panic.
  • Not as cramped as a walk-in fridge, but in one of the Nancy Drew games, she's locked inside a ski-resort outbuilding by the culprit and must get out before she freezes to death.
  • In BioShock, you have to turn over your weapons to enter Fontaine Fisheries, then Peach Wilkins locks you in the freezer to fight him along with Splicers and Security Bots with only your wrench and plasmids.
  • At the end of the Fallout: New Vegas quest "The Legend of the Star/A Valuable Lesson", you find the corpse of a thief who was locked in the Sunset Sarsaparilla Headquarters vault and suffocated to death, and he also happens to be carrying your prize, along with a holotape of his last moments. In Dead Money, the Courier can die a special death by being locked in the Sierra Madre Vault, or they can do the same to Elijah.
  • You Find Yourself in a Room is a philosophical text adventure game with no pictures. The adventure starts kind of creepy but is okay. There a few nonsensical things and the game slowly realizes that it hates you. The game is eternal and you find yourself in a room. To escape, you have to tell it that it has become "corrupted" and become somewhat human. You are unable to tell it that you want to drink the blood, though...
  • Used for the first kill in Lucius. Justified in that Lucius locked the door.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, when a very hungry Molly and Golly discover a walk-in freezer full of food, Molly makes reference to the relevant Brady Bunch episode. Golly, unsurprisingly, doesn't get the reference.
  • In Off-White, a snow leopard caused an avalanche or something that trapped a group of sledders.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of The Batman has Batman and The Riddler locked in a sea can that has sank to the bottom of the ocean and is slowly filling with water. The Riddler has basically resigned himself to his fate and tells his origin story, although they do ultimately team up to escape.
  • One episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold plays this straight when three heroes trapped by Mr. Freeze take advantage of the opportunity to chat about their early team-ups whilst they work on getting out.
  • The Simpsons, "Mountain of Madness": Where Homer and Mr. Burns are trapped in a log cabin buried underneath an avalanche of snow.
  • This happened to Sam in an episode of Rocket Power, although it wasn't the focus of the episode — it was to show that everyone was ignoring him the entire episode because of Otto's mischief.
  • Used as a Framing Device for a Clip Show in the Totally Spies!! Shoot the Shaggy Dog episode "The Elevator". The spies are locked in a disabled elevator in a high-rise building after the crook has escaped. All their gadgets have been left behind or destroyed as well. As they try to MacGyver their way out, they reminisce about events in past episodes, clips of which are shown. Eventually the elevator gives way and falls to the bottom of the shaft (No One Could Survive That), where they are pulled out by Jerry and company.
  • Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil had something of a subversion; the title character was locked in a freezer at work... but the actual danger was that she was locked in with a convicted sex offender obsessed with her.
  • Though it didn't involve being locked in a room, a similar situation occurred in the Code Lyoko episode "Cold War". Yumi was pinned under a tree in normal winter clothes while the temperature dropped below arctic levels. Ulrich refused to leave her side despite all his efforts to save her failing. Considered a main Tear Jerker moment by fans.
    • An earlier example was in "Ultimatum" where XANA possesses the school principal and kidnaps Odd and Yumi, taking them to a freezer warehouse. Neither of them hold up well with Yumi getting the shivers so badly Odd gets worried enough about her safety that he yells at XANA for endangering her more than necessary for the apparent plan.
  • In one episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants, Squidward runs into the Krusty Krab on a Sunday to get away from Spongebob and accidentally locks himself in the freezer, whefre he is frozen in place for a thousand years and awakens in the distant future.
    • A later episode, "Truth or Square", has Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward and Mr. Krabs trapped in the freezer during the Krusty Krab's anniversary celebration. They attempt an Air-Vent Passageway escape, but spend most of the episode lost in a maze of vents, which is where most of the other aspects of this trope play out.
  • Though not a literal freezer, Iron Man in the 90's animated series falls down an ice chasm, and has to review past memories to keep his brain active in order not to die, before he can be rescued.
  • The Fairly Oddparents episode "Snow Bound" featured Timmy and Vicky getting trapped in a cave during an avalanche.
  • As mentioned in the page intro, Dante and Randal find themselves Locked in a Freezer in only the second episode of Clerks: The Animated Series. And then in Randal's video store, with the thermostat turned way down. And then in an ice skating rink...
    • They use the occasion to flashback on all the wacky adventures they've had (mainly just the first episode and the first five minutes of that one)
    • Two of the flashbacks show that Dante and Randal have been locked in a freezer twice before. They somehow forgot how they got out the first two times. And the "Next time on Clerks" segment shows them locked in a freezer again.
  • In one episode of Family Guy, the Griffins wind up trapped in a secret safe room with the sprinkler system going off, resulting in the room slowly filling with water.
    • And of course there was the infamous "Brian and Stewie", which was an entire episode dedicated to Brian and Stewie being locked in a bank vault.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender , a more literal version is used in a Fire Nation prison (the titular The Boiling Rock), where the punishment for firebending is to be locked in a freezer. Zuko has already demonstrated the ability to survive prolonged submersion in arctic waters, so it's nothing to him. Played straight in The Cave of Two Lovers, where the Gaang and a group of traveling hippies are trapped in a cave. The danger is primarily from roving beasts and being lost forever in a maze that's constantly shifting.
  • An episode of Chowder featured this where Chowder, Mung, and Snitzel were accidentally trapped in Chowder's bathroom. The worst part about it was that Chowder had to go but needed privacy. Naturally Hilarity Ensued from this.
  • An episode of Disney's Recess had this happen as the end result. When Spinelli was given tickets to a wrestling match by the bratty Ashley group, she and her friends were naturally suspicious, except for Mikey and Gus. After many attempts to learn what the trick was, Spinelli, T.J, Vincent, and Gretchen finally broke into the Ashleys' clubhouse where they discovered that the tickets were genuine. Unfortunately, the clubhouse's security system locked down, resulting in them trapped while Gus and Mikey went to the fight.
  • Rigby from Regular Show tried to prevent this with Genre Savvy common sense to prop the door open before leaving the lockable door. It failed still because he tried to prop the door open with a couple of bags of ice.
  • The plot of the King of the Hill episode Nancy's Boys is launched when, during a "random service check," Hank winds up rescuing a restaurant owner from this fate, earning him a reward of free dinner for four.
  • The Hey Arnold! episode "Heat" inverts this: Mr. Green the butcher relaxes in the freezer during the heat wave, not caring that it doesn't open from the inside.

    Real Life 
  • In addition to the numerous potential food thieves who have been locked in freezers, armed robbers have been known to lock restaurant employees in freezers during a heist.
    • This is actually recommended by some managers as a pretty smart idea, as modern freezers are impossible to seal from the outside and are easy to open from the inside specifically because of this trope. Simply huddle in the freezer for a few minutes then walk out and call the police.
  • Used to be a common danger to small children when old fridges and freezers were built with a mechanical lock that could only be opened from the outside. After the fridges were dumped children might play in them and get stuck. Due to this problem the Refrigerator Safety Act of 1956 forced manufactures to come up with an alternative, the magnetic closures that we see today.
    • Supposedly, this happened in Brazil in the 70s. People replaced their old-style freezers by modern ones (which can open from the inside). The old ones were thrown in landfills, and homeless people found them to be nice places to sleep...until they realized they couldn't get out. For a while it was thought to be either suicide or murder, until someone linked the pieces.
    • Numerous children simply entered one at home, only to choke to death before their parents realized where they were. There's a reason why fridge doors don't lock up anymore.
  • A soldier stationed in Iraq had trouble keeping cool, so he decided to have a kip in the walk-in freezer. He was woken up a little later suffering hypothermia and mild frostbite. While his superiors agreed that it was a dumb move, they understood why he did it.


Literally Shattered LivesThese Tropes Were Frozen TodayMysterious Antarctica
Lava PitDeath TrapMurder by Cremation
Living with the VillainNarrative DevicesLocked in a Room
Happiness in SlaveryStockholm SyndromeLocked in a Room

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