Misleading Package Size

Normally, due to people not wanting to waste too much material, packages tend to be about the same size as what's in them. Not when this trope comes up. In that case, an entire wooden box used for major transport could be used to carry a single pen, a steel suitcase the size of a rifle is used to transport a single ammo clip, etc. Tends to be parodied in cartoons, when they somehow pull a giant 30+ Inch TV out of a package the size of a shoebox, in which case it can overlap with Hammer Space.

Contrast Bigger on the Inside and Clown Car. Has nothing to do with Bigger Is Better in Bed. Or Gag Penis.


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  • A commercial once had a woman unwrap a package the shape of a tennis racket to reveal an armchair inside.

    Anime And Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: Anything from the Capsule Corporation (vehicles, appliances, houses, etc.) collapses down for storage in a capsule no bigger than a person's finger.

    Comic Books 
  • Iznogoud: In Iznogoud's Birthday, Iznogoud is given a box that contains a chain of boxes, the key point being that each box is bigger than the one containing it.

  • Greg Heffley of Diary of a Wimpy Kid recalls opening a video-game sized gift-box only to find a memory card.

    Live Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • In countless shooters, ammo crates big enough to keep a whole Company in suppressing fire for a week will hold a couple magazines.

    Western Animation 
  • In King of the Hill, Luanne gives Hank a shoebox gift, but turns to contain only a tiny gift box containing a pass to swim with the resort's dolphin.
  • Ghoul Friend: Mickey pulls out a huge toolbox, inside of which is only a teeny, tiny wrench.
  • In the animated adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, a large serving dish for Cindy Lou Who holds a series of increasingly small waiters with smaller serving dishes, the smallest of whom serves her a strawberry.
  • There's a Donald Duck cartoon in which he's a gift wrapper in a department store. He puts a small ring inside a large box, then tries to put a football in the box meant for the ring. He has to deflate the ball in order to fit it in.
  • In the Classic Disney Short "Pluto's Party", Pluto gets a present shaped like a huge bone, but when he bites into it, it turns out to be a wagon.
  • In the recent Disney short "How to Hook Up Your Home Theater", Goofy is having trouble opening a small package of cables. After failing to open it, a single drop of sweat causes the package to burst open, covering Goofy in about half a metric ton of cables.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Idiot Box", SpongeBob buys a television set just to play with the box it came in. The TV was about three times the size of the box.
  • Family Guy: Brian once received a Christmas present shaped like a wine bottle. He removed the wrapping paper to discover a book.
"I wonder what this is." [pulls ribbon, revealing book] "Oh."
  • Taz-Mania: In "Sub Commander Taz", he ordered a nuclear submarine from a comic-book ad. It was delivered in a crate that filled most of the room, but it turned out to be a toy so small it could be dropped into a water glass.
  • In Betty Boop's Birthday Party, Betty is given a piano as a birthday gift. The large box the guest had to push contained the stool, while the smaller box contained the piano itself.

    Real Life 
  • Tends to be used by children when they need to make a surprise, in order to make the other child think they got a huge gift. Alternatively, they just got lazy/bored and put a small box in a shoebox.
  • A lot of companies do this out of either false advertizing (Make the buyer think there is more in the package than there actually is) or just plain standard package sizes.
  • Things packaged for shipping often have much bigger boxes then the item itself. Justified, because they fill the space in with bubble wrap and shipping peanuts to prevent damage.
  • Small electronic components frequently arrive from distributors in hilariously oversized boxes. Presumably justified because the supplier didn't have a smaller box.
    • Silicon chips are often shipped in long thin tubes. In some cases a single chip will be shipped in a 15" tube long enough to hold a hundred chips. The long tube then requires a box 2 foot long to hold it, which results in a box big enough to hold a 24-pack of beer, just for one chip the size of a pea. If the tube had been cut to size, a jiffy bag would have been adequate.
  • Sometimes Truth in Television. These days security precautions package seemingly rudimentary things with too much tape, foam, bubble wrap, MORE tape, a box inside of a box, and more tape, to make it look comically unnecessary.
    • An anti-shoplifting measure is to package a single thumb drive or memory card note  with a 8 x 11 sheet of cardboard. The merchandise might fit easily in a shoplifter's pocket, but the packaging won't.
  • Consumer Reports magazine has a regular feature on its back page showing off various advertising bloopers submitted by readers. Items where the package size is (misleadingly) larger than its actual contents get labelled with the "Black Hole Award".
  • When CDs were first sold they came in boxes 3-4 times bigger than the disk. This was meant to help prevent shoplifting.
    • This one has been zigzagging, with "normal" CD cases (5mm thick with often a booklet), shrinking to thin CD cases (half the thickness, never a booklet), and growing back to DVD cases (width, height, and half the thickness of a VHS).
      • A number of box sets shrink this again, with an entire season's worth of episodes on between four and six discs, squeezed into a thinner-than-VHS-sized case.
  • Some parents will often package something small in a much larger box during a gift-giving holiday to tease them.
  • Bags of potato chips (AKA crisps) are about half filled with air, though there is a practical reason for this: Tightly-packed bags of potato-based snacks tend to crumble into dust during shipping as they press up against themselves. Corn-based snacks, like Fritos and tortilla chips, are less vulnerable and are often filled to the brim or at least three-quarters up.
  • Some game companies (notoriously Fantasy Flight Games) make boxes far bigger than the Tabletop Game they contain actually requires. This makes the boxes stack neatly on the shelves with other games, but it also means that a game consisting of two decks of cards, a handful of counters, and a rulebook takes up a 12" x 12" space on your shelf.