"Don't be dyin' in my trunk!"
The trunks of cars are mainly used for stashing items that take up too much space in the cab of the vehicle. In fiction, generally, the trunks will be used for storing people, alive or dead. This can be for several reasons:
- The person in the trunk is alive, trapped in the trunk, and being taken somewhere by some villain.
- The person in the trunk is alive, and is hiding in the trunk to follow whoever is driving the car.
- The person in the trunk is alive, and is being taken somewhere willingly, riding in the trunk to hide from authorities who might stop the car.
- The person in the trunk is dead, and the driver may or may not have put the person in there.
The last one overlaps with Dead Man's Chest
, and may be part of a scheme for Disposing of a Body
Compare Girl in a Box
. See also Trunk Shot
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Anime and Manga
- In the Cowboy Bebop episode, "Mushroom Samba", Edward stows away in the trunk of a bounty hunter's car so she can get into town and obtain some food.
- As it turns out, the police don't take well to finding an unconscious child in the trunk of a car during a routine check. Even when she's just asleep and crawls away during the ensuing ruckus.
- On Speed Racer, Spritle and Chim-Chim would often hide in the trunk of the Mach 5.
- In the Birds of Prey series, Lady Shiva is presumed dead after being attacked by the assassin Cheshire. In reality Shiva was simply knocked out and kidnapped, and Catwoman ends up finding her bound and gagged in the trunk of Cheshire's car.
- In Superman #13, "Superman vs. The Archer", the ten-year-old Jimmy Olsen hides in Lois' trunk to follow her when she checks up on a scoop. He ends up saving her when the Archer kills her informant and tries to shoot her as well.
- Subverted twice in the X-Men graphic novel "God Loves Man Kills." Tracking some villains surveying the mansion, Kitty Pryde uses her phasing powers to sneak into their car's trunk. Unfortunately, the trunk has sensors that detect her presence, and they activate knockout gas. Later, they try to execute her while the trunk is still closed, only to find the trunk empty, as she only inhaled a portion of the gas and retained enough consciousness to escape.
- Miho from Sin City snuck into a mob enforcer's trunk while the car was still moving. Dwight was in the backseat along with some of the mob thugs as a Batman Gambit to get them to cofess to a hit before killing them. Apparently, Miho could hear the conversation going on and killed one on command byb shoving her Absurdly Sharp Blade through the trunk and into the guy's skull.
- X-23 was smuggled to Martin Sutter's house by Zander Rice in the trunk of his car when he decided to eliminate Sutter and his entire family after gaining full control of the X-23 project. It should be noted that Rice was dropping Sutter off at home at the same time.
- Tintin. Averted in "The Calculus Affair". After a long (and oft-times comic) car chase, Tintin and Haddock catch up with the car which they believe their kidnapped colleague was bundled into. The men in the vehicle indignantly deny everything and invite them to search the (empty) trunk. It's only after they drive off that Tintin realises the back seat seemed a bit large; turns out there's a compartment underneath it, in which Calculus had been hidden.
- Castlevania: Nocturne of Ruin: Mariabella Fox follows Jonathan, Charlotte, and the Lecardes to Castlevania by hiding in the trunk of their car. Charlotte even takes the time to chew her out for doing something so stupid, not just because of how dangerous Castlevania is, but because she could have suffocated in the trunk.
- John Gage is shoved into one in a junkyard after the kidnappers finish with him in the Emergency! fic "Run". By the time he's found, the hot California weather has left him near death.
- It's Roy, Gage's partner, who gets it in ''R is for Retribution".
- In American Gods, the bodies of the children that disappear in Lakeside are hidden in the trunk of the klunker, a ruined car put on the ice of the frozen lake each year. When the ice breaks, the dead child becomes a sacrifice to help the town stay prosperous.
- In the Sookie Stackhouse book Club Dead, Sookie throws a weakened Bill in the trunk of a borrowed car to keep him out of the sun.
- In Tea With The Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy, the protagonist is abducted and driven somewhere in the trunk of a car.
- In The Fuller Memorandum, Bob gets abducted by cultists and stuffed into the trunk of a car, prompting him to give a slightly incoherent rant about how all how cars should be required to have transparent trunks.
- An Older Than Feudalism subversion exists in a legend concerning Abraham, the patriarch whose account is told in The Bible: Abraham has his wife Sarah locked in a box (a literal trunk) because he fears that she will be taken by the Egyptians on account of her beauty. This ploy does not work, as he didn't stop to think that maybe, just maybe, the box would have to pass through Customs.
- In Artemis Fowl the Fowl family limo has a specially air conditioned trunk for this purpose.
- In one of The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton a Character Of The Week proves he's not a Dirty Coward by hiding in the trunk of the villain's car to escape from the house where they are being held captive and get help.
- In the second book in Bryan Davis's Raising Dragons series, Billy is Bound and Gagged and locked in the trunk.
- Burke often hides one of his friends (karate expert Max the Silent, or the Prof armed with a Sawn Off Shotgun) in his Plymouth's large trunk when going to a meeting with potentially dangerous dudes. They wear a padded refrigerator suit for the bumps and have a latch which opens the trunk from the inside.
Live Action TV
- In 24's second season, when Kim Bauer and her boyfriend Miguel are taking Megan to Kim's aunt's house, using Megan's father's stolen car, she is pulled over for speeding. The cop opens the trunk, which contains the corpse of Megan's mother.
- In season 3 of Dexter, someone ambushes Dexter in the parking-garage as he's leaving work, ties him up and throws him in a trunk before driving off with him. Dexter - and the viewer - naturally assumes that it's the resident antagonist, The Skinner, taking him off to torture and murder, and Dex tensely frees himself of his constrains and readies himself to pounce the moment the trunk is opened - and so he does, squarely hitting... one of his colleagues, who'd chosen this rather melodramatic way to cart him off to a secret Bachelor-party. The rest of his colleagues are both impressed and amused by the reaction, and Dex rapidly recovers his cool.
- Touched by an Angel - The Celebrity of the Week (Jack Ritter, if memory serves correctly) gets carjacked and stuffed in the trunk; after the car gets abandoned on the side of the road, the rest of the episode is a race against time to find him before he bakes to death.
- On NYPD Blue a random car got in an accident with the car Andy & Bobby were in; they heard thumping & screaming from the trunk, which they popped to discover he had a woman in the trunk of his car.
- Shane kidnaps JD in this way in Harper's Island, wrongly assuming that JD murdered Kelly.
- Team Westen of Burn Notice often transports captured enemies this way.
- In one episode of NCIS, the Creep of the Week is holding a navy officer for ransom, keeping her in the trunk of a car. This leads to a race against time to find her, as said Creep didn't know she had asthma (and therefore was in danger of suffocation before his deadline would come).
- In Eureka, Fargo tries to fob his AI car Tabitha off on Larry, who refuses to accept her. Tabitha is self-aware and insulted enough to pursue both of them, lock them in her trunk, and drive around for a while until they're convinced she's going to kill them. She eventually lets Fargo go so he can save the town, though.
- In Malcolm in the Middle, when Malcolm and Reese realized that Francis decided to give a concert ticket to a girl he just met instead of either of them, the two decided to sabotage his date. The final act of sabotage managed to work out after Francis's car got pulled over by a cop and the cop finding the two stuffed themselves in the trunk of the car.
- When Will works as a car salesman in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he has trouble selling a car to a group of Wiseguys until he shows them how well he fits in the trunk.
- In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah is tied up in the backseat of a car being driven by Cromartie. When she frees her feet and jumps out, he simply stops, picks her up and throws her in the trunk.
- Nick Knight from Forever Knight obtained a vintage car explicitly to invoke this trope if he is caught away from shelter at dawn.
- In The Sentinel episode "Girl Next Door", Blair rescues a woman who's been trapped in her trunk by her ex. Unfortunately she turns out to be a criminal who winds up dragging Blair—at gunpoint—into an armed robbery and a drug-smuggling operation. At the end of the episode, he takes satisfaction in stashing her back in the trunk.
- In the first season finale of Life, Charlie Crews abducts the man who committed the murders for which he was wrongfully convicted and spends several hours driving around L.A. with the man in the trunk of his car. Amazingly, the abductee manages to survive with only a few cuts and scrapes when the car is T-boned so hard that it flips over and lands upside down.
- The Professionals. Doyle is put in a trunk by the bad guys for later disposal, only for the car to be stolen by joyriding hoodlums. He eventually gets himself free and the car gets driven off the road for no apparent reason. No-one was harmed though as there were only a couple of crash test dummies in the front seat.
- For most of the pilot episode of The Americans the Jennings' Oldsmobile has a Soviet defector in the trunk.
- Bodies in trunks of cars occasionally surface as the Victim Of the Week in the various CSI episodes.
- Top Gear:
- How do we know the Rolls Royce Corniche that Jeremy Clarkson is driving actually belongs to James May? Easy...because May is trapped in the boot.
- One of the tests used for finding the ideal car for members of the Albanian Mafia is seeing if a body will fit into the trunk. Unfortunately, said body is decidedly large.
- Invoked when Richard Hammond is reviewing the fifth generation Mustang, noting that bad guys in movies tend to stuff people into the trunks of muscle cars. He then points out a convenient trunk release lever mounted on the inside of the trunk lid which shows a man leaping from the trunk.
- Supernatural. In the final episode of Season 4, Sam captures a demon who lets the woman she's possessing resurface, so Sam has to listen to her pounding on the trunk lid, begging to be let out.
- In the eighth season opener, Dean reveals that he has Crowley locked in his trunk.
- In one episode of Person of Interest Reese uses this trope as an interrogation method. He'll stop driving recklessly and let the mook out of the trunk when he agrees to talk.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Charlie kidnaps a restaurant critic and his neighbor and puts them in a trunk in "Paddy's Pub: Worst Bar in Philadelphia", and is later put in the trunk himself on a trip to Atlantic City because the gang think he'll be less nervous about leaving Philadelphia if he can't see the outside world.
- In the finale of Season 2 Luther has to get rid of a psychotic gangster killed in self-defense by the woman he's hiding in his flat. At the same time an ex-cop working as an enforcer is trying to find out what happened to his boss. At first Luther hides the body on the roof of his apartment complex, but has to get rid of it when the enforcer comes around, dragging it into the lift in a huge sports bag. The enforcer catches Luther locking the trunk of his car and forces him to open it at gunpoint, revealing the bag...is full of sports equipment. Later the police answer an anonymous tip-off and find the body hidden in the enforcer's car. When he realises he's been set up the enforcer flees, expressing admiration for Luther's cunning.
- In the Due South episode "Pizzas and Promises", Ray hides in the trunk of a car to figure out where the car thieves take it to get repainted (the plot revolves around a scheme to repeatedly sell and steal the same used cars, repainting them and replacing the Vehicle ID Numbers each time). The bad guys figure out he's in there and dump the car in the river, necessitating a rescue from Fraser.
- On My Name Is Earl, Joy used this tactic while attempting to cross the border to Mexico because she was afraid of going to prison for the rest of her life.
- In The Breaker, Sosul is first discovered in the trunk of a car. Shi Woon and Alex knew they were supposed to be transporting some "cargo", but they didn't expect it to be a girl.
- Played for laughs in Creature from the Black Lagoon, which features a moviegoer is trapped inside the trunk of his friend's car after a botched attempt to sneak into the drive-thru.
- On WWE Raw Kane and Triple H were in a feud (the ever popular Katie Vick angle), and at the end of the episode Kane tossed Trip into a car's trunk and drove off - but then we saw the car trunk pop open just as they were going to black! Oops. Dealt with at the top of the next episode:
: I've got a special guest gonna come out here later - but before we come to that, I'd like to give a little personal message to Kane. Kane, this is just advice, but next time you try to accost somebody by sticking them into the trunk of a car, you should try to make sure that the trunk does not have one of those child safety latches on the roof - I mean, you can just pull it and jump OUT of the trunk before the person even drives off. Just a bit of advice.
Stand Up Comedy
- The Cheech And Chong routine "Pedro and the Man at the Drive-In" (on the Los Cochinos album) is about smuggling someone into the drive-in in the trunk, and then being unable to get the trunk open.
- In Assassins Creed II, when Desmond and Lucy are escaping from Abstergo, they make it to the parking garage. Lucy has Desmond hide in her car's trunk on the way to the safehouse.
- Ace Attorney:
- Valerie Hawthorne in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, was stuffed in the trunk of the car after being killed.
- In the first game, after killing Bruce Goodman, Damon Gant stuffed the body in the trunk of Edgeworth's car.
- In Investigations 2, a pair of kidnappers stash their live victim in a large box thrown into the trunk of a taxi.
- In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Pal Meraktis wanted to do this with what he thought was Alita Tiala's dead body, so he could dispose of it. He couldn't get his car started (unbeknownst to him, someone had shoved a pair of panties in the exhaust pipe), so he settled for shoving her in the back of the next-door mobile noodle stand. This all bit him bad when it turned out Alita wasn't actually dead, and shot him not long after coming to.
- The aptly named "Dead Skunk In The Trunk" mission in Grand Theft Auto III has you drive a car with a dead mobster in the trunk while his "family" chases you.
- There is also the mission "Have a Heart" in Grand Theft Auto IV, in which Elizabeta kills Manny Escuela and his cameraman and you have to deliver the bodies to a back-alley surgeon with enough care that the trunk won't fly open from an unwanted crash and the police won't chase you down.
- Continued in Grand Theft Auto V, where Devin Weston is stuffed in a trunk by the protagonists, and then the car is pushed off of a cliff, with predictable results.
- In the first mission of the Russian campaign of Empire Earth, Grigor starts out hiding from the authorities in the trunk of his friend's Pyotr car and planning to escape Voronezh. However, he is aware that the trunk is "the first place the guards check" and thus they look for a better vehicle to smuggle him out. If they try to use the original car, they are caught and laugh at how Grigor tried to escape hiding in a trunk "like in a bad spy movie".
- Reservoir Dogs has a driving mission where Mr Blonde is driving the cop he kidnapped back to the meeting point. If the player slows down for a certain amount of time the cop jumps out and flees.
- In Mafia II, one of the first things the newly-released-from-prison Vito Scaletta must do is help bury a body, which had been mistakenly left in the trunk for "a couple of days".
- Given its nature as a gangland simulator, no matter how wacky, Saints Row 2 features this in one of its missions. In the Brotherhood mission "Bank Error In Your Favor," The Boss, starting his Roaring Rampage of Revenge over the death of Carlos, finds out that Jessica, the one who ordered Carlos dragged to death, is isolated at a bank. They kidnap Jessica, stuff her in the trunk of her own car, and drive to a demolition derby where the car is parked in a line of cars for Jessica's boyfriend Maero, the Brotherhood's leader, to destroy with his monster truck. She ends up crushed to death and Maero founds out too late how and why when the Boss throws him the keys to Jessica's car.
- Subverted in L.A. Noire, in an early case you find the bloody remains of a missing man in the trunk of an abandoned car. During the investigation, you learn that he butchered a pig in there to fake his own death and run away with his mistress. Played straight later, when thugs try to jam Jack Kelso in one, only for him to escape.
- Happens a few times in Sleeping Dogs':
- In the regular story, Wei does this when transporting Dogeyes to Mrs. Chu's restaurant so she can have her revenge for his ordering Winston's death, and then when bringing Naz in to Inspector Teng, complete with an "End Of Mission" cutscene set from Naz's POV as he's pleading to be let out of the trunk.
- In Roland Ho's string of side missions, Wei traps a deadbeat in the trunk of his brand-new racecar (which he bought while still in debt) and drives like a maniac until the deadbeat agrees to pay, then does this in a straight up kidnapping to convince another one to pay.
- In freeroam, this is a gameplay mechanic: just grab a pedestrian and press "B" while holding them in front of the trunk. Besides this, there are four cars across the map with people already locked in them. Two of them are legitimate kidnappings that Wei unwittingly foiled. One is a woman who was "trapped" in the boot of her car willingly and was just in the middle of some really elaborate foreplay, so she's not at all happy about being "rescued" prematurely. The last is a rival Triad gangster who thinks you are one of his kidnappers and comes out swinging; you can either beat him senseless or just stuff him right back into the trunk and leave.
- In the Phoenix Wright Musical Project, during the song "The Way Things Were", Wendy Oldbag snaps at Gumshoe "Oh what would you know, you disrespectful punk? Back in my day, you talked like that and we'd lock you in a trunk!"
- This happened to so often in the GDR that its border guards were taught a good method to immediately find out if there was someone hiding in a car's trunk: As a person is usually heavier than normal luggage, the car will be pushed down by the springs on its rear, and this pushes the front up. So, if the car's headlights shine up at any higher angle than they are supposed to, there is someone hiding in its back.
- This was a popular method of getting people into drive-in movies without paying. Used in the movie Thunderbolt And Light Foot
- Parodied by those Halloween decorations that consist of a disembodied plastic hand with a hook that attaches to the inside of the trunk so it looks like someone's hand is hanging out.
- According to one story this troper heard, if you are locked in the trunk of a car, it's possible to push out the rear lights/indicators and stick your arm out to attract attention and not suffocate/cook yourself. Depending on the model of the car, you'd likely need to remove a screw or nut to unfasten it first.
- At least some models of cars now come with a mechanism inside the trunk itself that, when engaged, causes said trunk to spring open.
- Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard # 401 requires glow-in-the-dark release catches inside the trunk of 2003 and newer vehicles built for the US market.
- Serial killer Joel Rifkin was stopped for driving without a license plate. Police found a dead prostitute in the trunk of his car.