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Anime and Manga
- A character in the manga does this as part of his hereditary Human Vault job; he can retrieve it easily if he has to. It's one of the many Nightmare Fuel moments if you think about how he'd have been prepared for the role.
- Mokuba does this as well, hence his Duelist Kingdom kidnapping in the manga. He claims the Big Five watched him every time he went to the bathroom, hoping it would pass. Eventually, they use an X-ray to scan his stomach and make a copy (why then never considered laxatives isn't clear) but when Yugi defeats Pegasus, this becomes redundant. (In the anime, he hides the key in his locket instead).
- One of Jackal's men in Fist of the North Star does this in an attempt to keep Jackal from releasing the Devil's Rebirth from his cell. It doesn't work out that well though, as Jackal rips him open to get it back.
Films — Animated
- Done in the Coraline movie by the Other Mother.
- In Puss in Boots, Jack swallows the key that locks the box where the magic beans are kept.
- In Mickey and the Beanstalk segment of Fun and Fancy Free, the giant attempts to swallow the key when locking Goofy and Donald in a chest, but decides to put it in his pocket which Mickey soon retrieves.
Films — Live-Action
- The forgettable Bio-Dome had one of the Idiot Heroes swallow the key to the titular biodome to keep the project going.
- Apparently forced on one of Jigsaw's captives in the original Saw, so that another prisoner could be required to cut it out of his body to stop her own rapidly-approaching demise. No, contrary to what she'd been told, the key-swallower was not dead when she started cutting.
- Done again in the final movie, Saw 3D. The protagonist must free a woman from her trap, with the key in her stomach attached to fishing line coming out of her mouth, with fishhook included, so he had to be very careful when pulling it out or else the hook would tear her apart from the inside.
- In Cube Zero, Dodd tears out a power coupling to prevent the villains from killing his colleague Wynn and swallows it when their leader Jax confronts him over this. Subverted, as Jax simply paralyzes Dodd and personally cuts it out of him.
- Easy Street: When The Bully has the The Tramp trapped in his apartment, he locks the door and swallows the key so The Tramp can't escape.
- In Superman III, Gus does this with the starter key to his machine after he realizes it's about to murder Superman. Unfortunately, the machine has a mind of its own and restarts itself.
- In Kiss Me Deadly, a woman with information the bad guys want is killed, but she leaves a hint with Mike Hammer that reveals she'd swallowed a key to finding the MacGuffin of the movie.
- In the Mouth of Madness: Trent tries to leave town after the people turn into monsters and take Styles (who has been corrupted by Cane by then) with him, but she swallows his car keys. Trent punches her out and hotwires the car.
- In World War, due to the Lizards not understanding English expressions too well, they threaten to throw Rance into prison and "eat the key".
- In Joey Pigza Swallowed The Key, this is done by the titular character entirely by accident: he suffers from ADHD and develops a habit of putting the key in his mouth and then using the string attached to it to pull it back out just before he swallows it. When his exasperated teacher removes the key from its string to discourage this, he still unthinkingly puts the key in his mouth and since there's no string to retrieve it this time...
Live Action TV
- Tales from the Crypt
- "Carrion Death" has a criminal and a cop that are handcuffed together. The cop is killed, but he manages to swallow the key before the criminal can get it, forcing the criminal to lug the dead cop along as he attempts to escape across the desert.
- Mr. Duvall of "Dead Wait" swallows a highly-valuable black pearl to keep Red from stealing it. Unfortunately, Red has a knife and no compunction about murder, so this backfires rather gruesomely.
- In Jekyll, there's a scene where Claire swallows the key keeping Hyde locked up. (In this case, it turns out she didn't actually go through with the swallowing, and the key stayed hidden in her mouth.)
- In the CSI episode "Abra-Cadaver," the killer, a Stage Magician who was perfectly willing to kill his family members for the sake of illusions, does this at the end (although Grissom did think to check his mouth). Foreshadowed by a mention of the Harry Houdini example below.
- The Suite Life on Deck: In one episode Mr. Blanket, the school's insane Guidance Counselor, handcuffs Moseby and Zack together and swallows the key.
- The televised Zorro with Duncan Regehr twisted this — at the end of one episode, he chained up the alcade in the town square and forced the alcade to swallow the key.
- Played with in The Mighty Boosh: in the episode "Jungle", Bob Fossil eats a key, slowly biting bits off it and chewing them.
- Not done intentionally, but El Blanco the Graboid ate a gangster in an early episode of Tremors: The Series, who happened to have the key to a mob safety-deposit box around his neck at the time. In a later episode, the gangster's surviving associate returns to try to kill El Blanco and retrieve the key, hoping to empty the deposit box of its millions.
- Done accidentally in Coupling, when Jeff Murdock holds the key to his girlfriend's handcuffs in his mouth and then does his best Darth Vader impression. He spends the episode trying to find a way to get it out before she realizes what's gone wrong.
Jeff: (on laxatives) If I take all of them at once, do you think there's a danger of liftoff?
- Arrested Development: GOB tries to do this in the episode ""Key Decisions" to aid his escape from prison, but first has trouble swallowing the key and later is unable to pass it because of a Shy Bladder.
- In one episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Pearl, Brain Guy, and Bobo are all trapped in a dungeon in ancient Rome. Bobo has the idea to regurgitate a key to undo their shackles, and Pearl compliments him for his ingenuity in lifting a key off a guard and swallowing it. Turns out Bobo didn't do that; he just thinks there's one in there because he swallows stuff all the time. It works, kind of — he found a hairpin after a while.
- Angel: an ex-champion turned Death Seeker does this to ensure a demon will kill him to get it back; he's actually hidden it in a thermos of coffee, so the demon won't get what he wants.
- In Disney's Shake It Up episode "Show It Up", Flynn helps Deuce prepare for the talent show by suggesting he perform magic. During one trick, Deuce is chained to a chair and was supposed to have held the key in his mouth rather than swallow it.
- Played with in an episode of 30 Rock, when Liz mimes locking her mouth and then swallowing the key. Jack then points out that that makes no sense.
- In the NCIS episode "Dead Man Talking", a USB drive is found in the victim's (a fellow agent) stomach. The team realizes that the man knew he had only seconds to live and swallowed the disc so as to keep his killer from getting it, and knowing that the team would find it during the autopsy and use the evidence on it.
- King Smudge, from Fisher Price's Great Adventures Castle, does this in order to prevent anyone from freeing his brother, King McBeard.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, a man imprisoned on suspicion of desertion will offer you the key to a chest in exchange for food and water. When you ask why they didn't find it when he was arrested, he explains that he swallowed it, "but it's, uh...come back into my possession since then, so to speak."
- In Shadows of the Servants, the doctor swallowed the key to a strongbox before she died. You can't open the box containing the ashes from her cremation, but can put it in the fireplace so everything except the key will be destroyed.
- One of Papa Morté's goons in Shadowman: 2econd Coming swallows the key to the Wild at Heart to keep Mike confined in the bar for what they hoped would be an easy hit job. Too bad for them, Mike quickly dispatches all the goons and simply retrieves the key from their splattered remains.
- Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney: Dzibilchaltunchunchucmil does this in guarding the Bell Tower, which causes some problems in retrieving the key to unlock the door.
- Mad Father: A good portion of the game is trying to evade danger, such as resurrected corpses and dolls, while trying to unlock the next area. At one point, underground, the player must find a key to progress past a door. The key is really easy to find. An undead dog then comes along and decides to swallow it. Then the player must go on a small quest to knock out the dog and cut open its stomach.
- Final Fantasy XIV has the whale primal, Bismarck, eat floating islands to sustain its strength. One of the islands it swallowed happened to have a very important key to a floating city which both the protagonists and antagonists are hunting for. This creates a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario; ignore the key while the primal continues to consume islands and eventually the planet's life force or kill the primal to get the key and risk the bad guys of coming in to steal it. The latter happens.
- In one Tom and Jerry cartoon where they were doing their take on Robin Hood, Tom swallowed the key that went to Robin's cell.
- Storm Hawks: Stork tries to keep the Raptors from getting their hands on a Graviton Crystal by swallowing it.
- On the Looney Tunes short "Fin n' Catty", a cat corners a fish inside a shower, so he locks the door and swallows the key. Only then does the cat realize the shower stall is filled with water (which cats hate, as everyone knows) and he tries to punch the key out of his stomach.
- In the Donald Duck cartoon "Trick or Treat", Don locks away all his Halloween candy in a closet and swallows the key. A witch then casts a spell on Donald's feet so that they kick out the key. (He then kicks the key under the door of the closet, making the witch angry, and increasing the spell's potency so his feet make him ram the door down.)
- The Professor in Futurama did this with the spaceship keys to stop anyone from wasting fuel, only to "recover" them the next day.
- In the Looney Tunes short "Hyde and Tweet", Sylvester did this after finally capturing Tweety. Only after Tweety's transformation does Sylvester realize that he's trapped.
- Doug: In "Doug's Fan Club", Doug imagines locking up Todd and Wesley in a safe right before promptly swallowing the key.
- Robotboy: Gus did this twice, first to stop Kurt from using the bathroom so Tommy can torture him for Robotboy's whereabouts and second while Tommy burns the containment unit holding Robotboy imprisoned (Ironically, the second example ended the episode with Constantine and Dr. Kamikaze locked outside of their submarine lair).
- Dexter in Dexter's Laboratory does this in one episode when he discovered Dee Dee went through the secret bookcase entrance to prevent her from ever getting in again. Little does he know, however, he had also locked himself out of his own lab as well.
- In an early episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy, Double D instructs Ed to hide the key. The guy slips the key between two slices of bread and eats it as a sandwich. Chewing and all.
- Taz-Mania: Taz does this after he has cornered Francis X. Bushlad (who is disguised as an attractive female Tasmanian devil) in "A Young Taz's Fancy".
- The Simpsons: In "On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister", the manager of the Sprawl Mart locks his employees inside the store, and then taunts them by swallowing the bathroom key.
- Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: In "Arbor Day", Ami chains herself, Yumi, and Kaz (the latter two were not as willing as she was) to a tree to prevent the bad guy from cutting it down. She then swallows the key to the padlock on the chain, and after the bad guy learns his Green Aesop, she expels it on command by hiccuping.
- Harry Houdini was reputed to do this with a handcuff-key in preparation for his escape act, then regurgitate the key when needed.