Follow TV Tropes


Body in a Breadbox

Go To
From number nine, Penwiper Mews,
There comes really abominable news:
They've discovered a head
In the box for the bread,
But nobody seems to know whose.
Edward Gorey, The Listing Attic

Corpses can be found in the darnedest places, in fiction. While every Police Procedural or mystery series uses the routine body-dump sites of alleys, roadsides, dumpsters, harbor bottoms or vacant lots, writers often feel the need to spice up their selection of crime scenes and corpse-disposal methods. When the placement of the corpse becomes so bizarre that its strange location becomes an element of the mystery's plot — not just Whodunnit, but How/Why'ddeydoitthere — then it's a Body in a Breadbox. Or duffel bag. Or refrigerator. Or whatever.

For a body somehow stuck to the ceiling, see Ceiling Corpse. When a character wakes up to find a dead body in their bed, it’s The Murder After. Sister trope to Dead Man's Chest, which deals with the mechanics of fitting a body into a confined space. Often overlaps with Peek-a-Boo Corpse. Wax Museum Morgue is a subtrope.

Not to be confused with Stuffed into the Fridge, a Fan Speak term about characters being hurt or killed to send a message to the hero that originated from a woman being (literally) stuffed into a fridge.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Uzumaki: The first casualty of the spiral-related phenomena that befall Kurôzu-cho is Shuichi's father, who somehow ends up impossibly stretched out and contorted into a tight spiral that's stuffed inside a wooden tub. Shuichi and his mother discover the corpse when they investigate the strange tub left in their study.

    Comic Books 
  • Alexandra DeWitt, first girlfriend of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, provided the Trope Namer for Stuffed into the Fridge because of her murderer, Major Force, stuffing her body into Kyle Rayner's refrigerator.
  • Empowered: "Volume 9 Page 230": Ninjette references how comic books have (dead) women being put in fridges when talking about being slightly glad that she was on-top of one instead.
  • In an issue of The Maze Agency, a body was stuffed into a drum of liquid nitrogen.
  • In the Howard Chaykin The Shadow comic book series, a body is stuffed into the bottle of an office water cooler in the first issue. How this was accomplished is never explained — or even referred to again, as the perpetrator is known, and is pursued for his master plan.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The plot of 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag involves a med student and a mafia hitman having their bags switched, with the hitman's eponymous bag carrying the severed heads of eight poor sods that he killed for his bosses.
  • In Arsenic and Old Lace, a body is hidden in the compartment of a window seat before it can be transferred to the cellar for burial.
  • In Big Tits Zombie, Darna finds a zombie head at the bottom of the chest full of cash.
  • In Breakheart Pass, Deakin finds the bodies of Capt. Oakland and Lt. Newell hidden in the woodpile of the locomotive.
  • In The 'Burbs, Corey Feldman finds a mound of bones in the Klopecks' trunk.
  • In Clue, the Cook's body is found this way. The group heads into the kitchen to find her, but she doesn't appear to be there. Then she topples out of the fridge right on top of poor Mr. Green.
    • This also happens when Mr Boddy's body is found in the toilet, which falls on Mrs Peacock as she opens the door; the bizarreness of the location is lampshaded by Wadsworth as he recounts the first ending.
      Wadsworth: The murderer hit him on the head with the candlestick, and dragged him to the toilet.
      Miss Scarlett: Why?!
      Wadsworth: To create confusion.
      Mrs Peacock: It worked!
  • In GoldenEye:
    Wade: The last guy who dropped in there uninvited went home air freight in very small boxes.
  • In The Goonies, the group are in the basements of the Fratellis' restaurant, when they open a storage freezer and a corpse falls out against Chunk.
    Chunk: IT'S A STIFF!
  • In Hangmen Also Die!, the body of Inspector Gruber is planted in a pile of coals in Czaka's basement as part of a Frame-Up.
  • In Holmes & Watson, Holmes discovers a body concealed in his giant novelty birthday cake.
  • In House on Haunted Hill (1959), Nora finds a (fake) severed head planted in her suitcase.
  • During the hectic finale of Killer Dream Home Jules Grant discovers her estate agent's corpse half-buried in a compost bin. Quite some distance from the murder scene, so presumably relocated either a scare tactic or part of the villainess' insane Frame-Up plot.
  • Vivia finds Virgil's severed head (and hands) stuffed into the refrigerator in Killer Party.
  • In Men in Black, Bug Edgar, posing as a waiter, is asked where Little Ivan, the guy he's replaced is. Bug Edgar says he gave him a break, and the camera pans to show that he means this literally, having broken his body in half and stuffed him onto a shelf.
  • One of the victims in My Bloody Valentine 3D is stuffed inside a running dryer by the killer, and is half-cooked when discovered.
  • In Paradox, a body is found stuffed in a locker. The weird thing? It's a time travel movie. The guy who first complains about the smell in the locker room is the same one whose corpse is later found to be the source of the smell.
  • The film The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin has an infamous scene where the doctor protagonist visiting the infamous Ugandan dictator goes to the freezer to get some ice, only to find to his horror that Amin keeps the severed heads of several of his victims in there.
    Idi Amin: Doctor! For an African, you are looking very white!
  • Alfred Hitchcock's film adaptation of the play Rope is centered around this trope (a body stuffed in a chest) and two characters testing how long it'll take for it to get discovered.
  • Silent Night (2012): While searching the abandoned house, Deputy Bradimore finds Mrs. Roach's hand in a drawer; still clutching her ringing phone. The rest of her body is found in other pieces of furniture in the room.
  • Played With in Top Secret!, with a man being crushed in a car compactor (although the man isn't dead... yet).
  • In Tremors, a man who'd been trapped by Graboids for days is found high up on a power pylon, dead of thirst. Another man's head turns up half-buried in the ground, face-up under a hat.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's black comedy The Trouble with Harry features a corpse that pops up in a series of odd places.
  • In Unknown (2006), they find the body of a police officer stashed in a locker at an Abandoned Warehouse.
  • The Vagrant: Judy's head, hands, and feet are found arranged in a dish in Graham's refrigerator.

  • In one Babylon 5 Expanded Universe novel, the station maintenance department calls in Garibaldi when they declog a jammed waste disposal chute and find a severed human foot in the waste backed up behind the jam. The mystery deepens when security runs a DNA scan on the foot and finds that it matches a man who was reported as having left the station several days previously.
    He left without his foot?!
  • In the Midst of Winter: Evelyn takes her employer's car to get diapers in the middle of a snowstorm, for the boy she cares for, and finds a corpse in the trunk. Since she is undocumented, going to the police is not an option.
  • In Kraken, a human corpse is found inside a giant specimen jar in the preservation rooms of the Natural History Museum. That's not even the weirdest thing about it: the corpse is of a man who'd been alive until recently, yet the jar shows every indication of having been sealed at least a hundred years ago. Which is an early clue that the museum's resident angel of memory is taking an active role in defending its turf.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey series:
    • In Whose Body?, the body in question is found lying, naked, in the bath of a man who had no previous connection to the living person it had been.
    • "The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag" features a carpet-bag containing a severed human head.
  • In the period mystery Murder In The Place Of Anubis, a mortician in Ancient Egypt finds an extra, recently-murdered corpse hidden in the mound of salt under which a client's remains had been dehydrating as part of the mummification process.
  • In Donald Westlake's "The Risk Profession", a killer hides a victim by leaving it sealed inside its spacesuit, which he hangs inconspicuously in its storage closet.
  • Troubled Blood: The body of Margot Bamborough is finally found, 40 years after she vanished, entombed in concrete in an ottoman. The developmentally disabled mother and son who'd been living there the whole time never knew.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Corpses turning up in weird places is one of the signature features of Bones, so much so that most episodes' titles refer to the body-of-the-week's location. Some of the worst offenders: inside a giant chocolate bar, glued to a (very much not dead) street artist, dispersed among a few thousand cans of processed stew, and shoved inside a bowling alley pinsetter.
  • A wealthy woman's body on Castle was found squeezed into a wall safe. Many of its bones had to be broken to cram her inside.
  • CSI-verse: Bodies have been found nailed to trees, sealed up in walls, hanging from power lines, embedded in tar, posed like statues in a park, sealed up in an arcade video-game, and sitting behind the wheel of a car that's parked on a rooftop. Body parts have been found in even weirder places, like a head (in Vegas) or arms (in NY) left in coin-operated newspaper dispensers or a human eyeball dropped into a cup of street-cafe coffee by a passing vulture.
    • CSI:
      • Asked about the unobvious places bodies might be found, Grissom mentioned having once found a head in a bucket of paint.
      • Finn, examining a body that was hidden inside a piano, remarks that it's the first one she's found in such an instrument that had its limbs intact.
      • The winner has to be an episode that opens with several bodies in various states of decay in a forest. A man ignores most of the bodies and directs Grissom to one, and Grissom asks what's so unusual about it. The man explains it's not his. After the credits, we learn that the man is a long-time friend of Grissom's and operates a "Body Farm" (a scientific facility that takes bodies donated to science and monitors what happens as they decay). The body the man identifies as not belonging to him is not one of the bodies that he was watching decay...someone put the body there, hoping that it would go unnoticed.
    • CSI: NY: Invoked in "Blood, Sweat and Tears" by Mac and Co. investigating when a member of the polar bear club discovers the body of a nearly nude young man in a 2' x 2' x 2' wooden box on the beach. After Sheldon asks Mac to help unfold the guy, they discover that none of his bones are broken. Turns out he was a contortionist with a travelling circus.
  • On Days of Our Lives, the Salem Serial Killer of 2003-2004 left several victims in bizarre places. Cassie Brady's corpse fell out of a Thanksgiving piñata (Makes Just as Much Sense in Context), and Roman Brady's tumbled out of the bottom compartment of the cart carrying the cake at his own wedding.
  • An episode of Due South dealt with a body sealed inside a wall at police headquarters.
  • On Elementary, Sherlock is investigating a missing person and talking to the man's wife when he realises some of the pictures hanging on her wall have been recently moved. It turns out that when the murderers stashed the body inside the wall, they didn't put them all back in the right places.
  • Played for Laughs in the Fawlty Towers episode "The Kipper and the Corpse", as Basil and co. attempt to get a dead guest out of the way without the other guests noticing. The body winds up in a wardrobe, in the kitchen, propped up in an office chair, in a laundry hamper and finally dumped in the crowded lobby while Basil flees the hotel.
  • In Fringe, the discovery of a body stuck in a bank vault wall starts one of their cases.
  • Gordon and Bullock on Gotham investigated a murder in which the victim was literally stuffed into a fridge.
  • In the pilot of Helix, CDC team member Dr. Alan Farragut finds that his brother Dr. Peter Farragut, a research scientist infected with The Virus, has killed a luckless security tech, stripped his clothes and squirreled his corpse away in an Air Vent at the Research, Inc. where he works.
  • Inversion: On Homicide: Life on the Street, a man's corpse was found at the site of his murder ... inside the morgue.
  • Inspector Koo: Subverted. A body in a moving box is delivered to Geon-wook's apartment. All the men freak out, but Kyung-yi doesn't, because she can tell the person inside the box isn't dead. It's the reporter, who Yi-kyung drugged before stuffing him in the box.
  • An episode of Jonathan Creek featured a body that got into a wardrobe while it was being carried up some stairs. At the bottom, the wardrobe was empty. At the top, the door was opened and the corpse fell out. The victim was breaking into Maddy Magellan's flat to retrieve an incriminating videotape she'd been accidentally given and, quite alive, got into the wardrobe to avoid being caught. However, before she left her own home, a pipe fell off some scaffolding and hit her on the head, leading to her Time-Delayed Death.
  • There was an episode of Law & Order that had a body in a cooler.
  • Monk has played with this trope:
    • In "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk", they find a dead man torn apart in a trash compactor. Not a household one, mind you, but an industrial-size one.
    • In "Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation", they first find a body stuffed into an arcade machine. Later on they find the body has been moved; this time it was stuffed into a crate as part of a display.
    • In "Mr. Monk Gets Drunk", Adrian has to find a missing body in order to prove that the killing happened in the first place; the body is found in one of the wine barrels.
    • The page image is from "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert", where a body is discovered by a maintenance worker forcing open a port-a-potty with a crowbar, coincidentally as Monk and Natalie are walking by.
    • In Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii, one of the novels, the body was buried in a luau pit and uncovered when diggers come to dig up a kalua pig.
  • Murdoch Mysteries, "The Annoying Red Planet": A body is found on a tree and the position is very bizarre and seems to defy laws of physics. Constable Crabtree, resident Agent Mulder, concludes that Martians did it.
  • NCIS has used this trope several times:
    • The fourth episode aired, "The Mummy's Curse", started with a body found in a cargo pod that had been not-so-accidentally dropped from an F-14 Tomcat.
    • A storyline involving several bodies found in a barrel formed a Story Arc over several episodes in seasons 1 and 2, ending in the aptly-named season 2 episode "The Meat Puzzle".
    • In a fourth season episode, a mummified corpse turned up stuffed inside a chimney. Oddly, this is something of a Truth in Television example. Real Life murder victims have turned up this way, such as this unfortunate individual. Getting stuck and asphyxiating was a major occupational hazard for 19th Century chimney sweeps, and it occasionally still happens to people, though mostly to burglars.
    • The episode "Skeletons" focused on a number of bodies that had been hidden in tomb niches in a military mausoleum.
    • In an exceptionally creepy episode called "What Lies Above", a body was found sealed in plastic and hidden underneath the floor of an apartment that had been the scene of two murders and was later rented by NCIS Agent Tony DiNozzo, and after him by Agent Tim McGee.
  • In one episode of Picket Fences, a body was stuffed into a home dishwasher.
  • In Psych, Shawn and Gus constantly run into dead bodies stuffed into closets and alcoves, usually while not even having reason to believe someone is dead. This is usually followed by one or both of them freaking out and screaming like a little girl. Lampshaded by Gus in "There Might Be Blood" after following the smell of onions to corpsey closet:
    Gus: "Why does it always have to be a dead guy?"
    • In the episode "Heeeeere’s Lassie!" they find the body inside the building’s laundry dryer. No explanation is given as to why or indeed how the killer put it there, but it does make for a dramatic reveal.
  • Used in the Remington Steele episode "Vintage Steele", which pays homage to the film of Arsenic and Old Lace (see below). A New Old Flame of Laura's, Wilson Jeffries, arrives at the Steele Agency after having moved a deceased body in order to protect an investment. Wilson, a banker, had convinced his employers to invest in a new cabernet being processed at the Claude Vandermeer Winery. When he finds a body in the wine cellar, Wilson puts it in the trunk of his car in order to avoid any bad publicity. However, when he gets to the Steele Agency, the body is no longer in the trunk. Not knowing the name of the deceased, Remington and Laura refer to him as "Harry" since the case reminds Steele of the Alfred Hitchcock film The Trouble with Harry.
  • This is a Discussed Trope in the Supernatural episode "Heart" (S02, Ep17) when Sam says there may be human hearts behind the Häagen-Dazs.
  • On Warehouse 13, Pete and Myka discover the body of a lost Warehouse agent handcuffed to a pipe in the basement of a St. Louis police station.
  • On The Wire, a containerload of bodies is found at the Baltimore docks to open season 2. Initially, the deaths are ruled as accidental on the assumption that they were immigrants and their air hole was covered by another container. However, Cowboy Cop McNulty, recently reassigned to the Marine unit, manages to prove that the women were murdered in Baltimore city waters, dumping all the unsolved crimes on his old boss and kicking off the plot of Season 2.

  • Edward Gorey used this trope in a limerick:
    From Number Nine, Penwiper Mews,
    There comes most abominable news.
    They've discovered a head,
    In the box for the bread,
    But nobody seems to know whose.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shadowrun 2nd Edition supplement Prime Runners. Two of the troll members of Wolfram's Gang, Hammerhead and Shoot-to-Kill, are boyfriend and girlfriend. After an argument, Hammerhead left Shoot-to-Kill and got together with an old girlfriend of his. Shoot-to-Kill tracked them down, waited until Hammerhead left, cut off the girlfriend's head and left it on a plate in the refrigerator, along with a note asking him to come back to her. Hammerhead made it back to her in record time.

  • In Arsenic and Old Lace and its film adaptation, one of the running gags is hiding the body of Mr. Spenalzo, which gets shuffled around into various places, including a window seat.
  • Rope is about this trope. The main characters stuff their victim in a chest and host a party to test whether it'll get discovered.
  • Pretty much every adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has Sweeney stuffing the body of his first victim, Adolfo Pirelli, in a chest before he disposes of it in much more ghoulish fashion.

    Video Games 
  • In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you can find random parts all over if you look hard enough. Especially in Custom Games, where people have put human torsos over keys in dresser drawers. Some levels can be beaten by actually throwing these parts at enemies so they chase them, letting you hide.
  • In the flash horror game, Exmortis, you find a severed head in a microwave.
  • Played for Laughs in LEGO Harry Potter, as Cedric Diggory's remains are hastily shoved into the Triwizard Cup trophy.
  • Persona 4: The bodies of the victims of the serial killer are found hanging from television antennas.
  • The RuneScape quest "The Hand in the Sand" has the player investigate how a severed hand ended up in a sand pit. The culprit turns out to be the owner of the sand selling business, who paid an apprentice wizard named Clarence to cast a mind control spell on his employee so he could trick him into working longer hours with no additional pay, but then murdered Clarence when Clarence realized that what they did was illegal and threated to tell the authorities. The head turns up in a different sand pit and the other hand is later found in a package that was sent through the mail but never delivered due to the address being unreadable. The rest of the body parts can be found as Random Drops from animals in the jade vine maze, except for one foot that is never found.

    Visual Novels 

  • Parodied in Poison Ivy Gulch when local undertaker Rigg R. Mortis reveals he literally keeps skeletons in his closet.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror XXVI segment "Wanted: Dead, then Alive", where Bart Simpson is killed by Sideshow Bob, and his body is eventually taken to Bob's house. When Bob returns home after attending Springfield University as a professor, he opens the wall compartment... and reveals Bart's corpse, which he has stuffed in there, now standing as a trophy.


Video Example(s):


Museum surprise

A body falls out of the fridge in the museum's 1950s exhibit.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / BodyInABreadbox

Media sources: