View Kickstarter Project
Our Kickstarter campaign has received $82,000 from 2,400 backers, well past our original goal ! TV Tropes 2.0 is coming. There is no stopping it now. We have 41 hours left. At $100K the tropes web series will also be produced. View the project here
and discuss here
You Got Murder
aka: Letter Bomb
"Special delivery, a bomb. Were you expecting one?"
When the postal service is used to kill someone, usually by letter bomb, biological weapon, or some kind of magic that uses the written medium. Sometimes, an e-mail or other New Media messaging device is used in place of an actual letter or package.
One of the forms Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb
Anime and Manga
- In the first episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Sousuke detonates his shoe locker when he discovers it's been tampered with, under the assumption that someone planted a bomb in it. Of course, it was just a love letter, but he cites a case in which someone was killed by a bomb in the mailbox. This happens several more times.
- A certain special parcel delivered to Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent and his wife Gilda in The Long Halloween. Both targets survive, although Gilda is hospitalized.
- One of Magic: The Gathering's joke supplements contains a 'letter bomb' card, which gets shuffled into the opponent's deck and hits him for massive damage when drawn. There was a legit card that has a similar damaging effect though it worked by poisoning (turning face up then being shuffled into their deck) one of their cards rather than being planted.
- Jingle All the Way has fun with this. Myron, a disgruntled postman, threatens a radio DJ with a package that he claims is a bomb which he discovered in the mail and kept for use in an emergency. It accidentally falls out of his hand and is revealed to be...a music box. Later, when the police show up, he threatens them with a different package. When the police let him go a retired bomb squad officer claims it's just a "harmless Christmas package", which blows up in his face, only turning his face black. When Myron hears the explosion he is surprised and disgusted that somebody really had sent a bomb through the postal system.
- Blazing Saddles: "Candygram for Mongo!"
- In Magnum Force, Harry and his assistant both have their mailboxes wired with explosives when the mailbox key is turned.
- In the Swedish film Sprängaren (adapted from the novel by the same name), the murderer sends the protagonist, who is a journalist, a bomb package. Subverted in that the protagonist never receives it. It explodes at the post office, killing one of the employees, and the protagonist doesn't find out that it was addressed to her until later.
- The hitman Trabucco (Walter Matthau) disposes of one of his victims this way, early in the film Buddy Buddy.
- The Inspectors, a film about US Postal Inspectors, follows the investigation of a mail bomb murder (interestingly enough, the Postal Inspectors are a Real Life law enforcement agency... in fact, they are the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the United States.)
- Subverted and spoofed in Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet. Detective Nick Carter receives a perfume-scented letter. He's savvy and immediately suspects it might contain a bomb, and uses "a gift from his friend Roentgen" to check it. It's just an invitation/free ticket to a night club.
- Package bombs delivered by a motorcycle courier are the weapon of choice for the Mad Bomber in Quick.
- Erast Fandorin receives a bomb package on the day of his marriage. He survives, his wife doesn't.
- The Stephen King short story "Everything's Eventual" centers around a young slacker hired by a mysterious firm because he has the ability to compose "glyphs" that can drive the viewer to suicide. They sends him a list of names and addresses, and he puts the glyphs on letters.
- In the book A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva, the death is caused by a letter bomb sent to an ex-Mossad agent turned Nazi hunter.
- Sherlock Holmes is sent a little ivory box containing a sharp spring infected with a deadly disease in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective". He sees through it immediately, but plays along and uses self-starvation and make-up in order to pretend he's dying from the disease, and trick the killer into confessing.
- One episode of The Avengers had letters containing an enhanced cold.
- Dad's Army. The platoon is given a mission to test security at an army base, and decide to infiltrate disguised as firemen. As usual things go wrong and they end up fighting a real fire elsewhere. A high-ranking officer arrives and tells Mainwaring not to worry as his 'other plan' worked. Turns out Wilson sent a fake bomb in the mail.
- Used in an episode of Early Edition.
- Jonathan Creek had a writer poisoned with a hallucinating drug contained in a enclosed letter glue from some fan mail. Once he licked the letter he went a bit nuts and managed to stab himself in the back with a sword.
- In the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "The Saint" a social worker is killed by a lye bomb delivered in the mail.
- In the Law & Order episode "Big Bang", a physics professor's wife is killed by a letter bomb. While the bomb itself was not meant to be lethal, the letter opener the victim used was blown into the woman's throat, killing her.
- Monk put a spin on this one, in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect". Monk is working on a mail bomb murder case, and must figure out how his prime suspect was able to send the bomb while in a coma. And, of course, he does.
- NCIS had DiNozzo contract pneumonic plague this way. He got better.
- In Warehouse 13, a teenaged Stalker with a Crush uses this as his method of revenge once he gets his hands on Poe's quill pen.
- The Criminal Minds episode "Won't Get Fooled Again". Also played with in "Poison", where the unsub tries to kill his former bosses by poisoning the glue strips of envelopes they are using.
- Dungeons & Dragons has Explosive Runes (as mentioned in the OotS example), The Sepia Snake Sigil (which paralyzes readers), the various Symbol of... spells, and cursed scrolls that have nasty effects when read.
- d20 Modern has rules for sending any spell via email to effect the person who opens it (or even teleporting an assassin to them via IM for a sneak attack).
- The anger mages of Unknown Armies have a spell that lets them enchant a letter, note or e-mail with another one of their spells (which can include damaging spells).
- This is the M.O. of the villain Death's Messenger from the Dark Champions sourcebook Murderer's Row.
- Exalted has Bureaucracy Charms that allow you to write a Strongly Worded Letter with such venom that it actually does damage to the reader.
- One case in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney involved one of these. Specifically, a poisoned stamp that the recipient was asked to use on his response letter.
- Eternal Darkness had an assassination attempt at Charlemagne by sending him a scroll with a magick attack. Unfortunately, Anthony opens it first and spends the next 600+ years cursed in agony locked in a room. (And Charlemagne still gets killed.)
- At the start of Final Fantasy IV, the protagonist is tasked with what first appears to be a simple Fetch Quest: Deliver a "Package"/"Bomb Ring"/"Carnelian Signet" (depending on version) to a nearby village. To his horror, the item activates on its own upon arrival and conjures monsters that torch the entire village. In Final Fantasy IV The After Years another enemy tries a similar trick, but this time it backfires.
- A serial killer in Trauma Team sends mailbombs Actually, she impersonates a deliverywoman, so there's no record of the packages being sent
- In at least one of the Worms games, one weapon consists in a bomber dropping explosive envelopes (heavily affected by the wind).
- One Batman: The Animated Series episode had the Scarecrow dosing people with his patented "fear toxin" by telegram.
- In an episode of TaleSpin, Shere Khan sends some pirate allies a special letter after they fail in their shared evil plot. Hint: its ticking and its NOT a clock.
- Parodied in The Venture Bros.. The Monarch mailed Dr. Venture a live cobra but by the time Dr. Venture actually got around to opening his mail, it was dead.
- In one Justice Friends short, Disgruntled Postman attempted to mail a bomb to the US President, only to be stopped by Major Glory. What made it ridiculous was that it was a very big and obvious bomb.
- In 2001 there was a series of attacks which consisted of powdered anthrax being posted to various people. Read all about it on the other wiki.
- Ted Kaczynski carried out attacks mainly consisting of posting bombs to universities and airlines. Hence the nickname he's more commonly known by; The Unabombernote .
- One of the first Real Life letter bombs was constructed by Martin Ekenberg in 1904. He tried to kill a former employer and frame the Social-Democratic party...
- The first known reference to a bomb being sent by post was in the diary of a Danish historian named Bolle Willum Luxdorph. In a 1764 entry, he mentions a package full of gunpowder (with a flintlock mechanism designed to go off when it was opened) injuring a colonel (and later being followed up with a letter threatening to send a larger one).
- A Darwin Award nominee - the attempted letter-bomber who neglected to pay enough postage. The letter was Returned To Sender... and so was he.
- C-list actress Sharron Guess Richardson sent ricin-laced letters to government officials (including the President and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg) in 2013. None of the attempts were successful (such officials have their mail screened, and such an attempt would never have succeeded) and when caught, she tried to blame her husband for it. In July of 2014, she was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the federal charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin, after making a plea deal.
- When the rivalry between Scotland's "Old Firm" football clubs flared up in 2011, a few high profile Celtic fans were sent letter bombs.