Follow TV Tropes


Chest Monster

Go To

"Computer roleplaying games often have mimics... which are always disguised as chests. Chest chest chest. It makes you wish that digital orcs would stick their electrum pieces in a foot locker or some variety of credenza, just to break the ennui of another piratey-looking wooden chest suddenly sprouting limbs and beating you to within an inch of your save file. It would be refreshing like the breezes of summer to be able to say 'Hey! I just had my clavicle shattered by an aluminum tool shed!'"
Lore Sjöberg, The Book of Ratings, D&D Monsters, Part 2

Adventuring's hard enough—you've got brain-wracking puzzles, hazardous environments (sometimes literally), and, if you're unlucky, the interface itself.

And now, there are monsters that disguise themselves as loot!?

A Chest Monster is an enemy or hazard that has disguised itself to look like something positive: as an ally, a Save Point, or—in the archetypical example—a treasure chest. They are frequently called "mimics" for this reason, and are generally stronger (sometimes much stronger) in battle than the surrounding Mooks in the area. Sometimes they are ordinary chests with a monster locked inside. It may or may not be possible to escape from a Chest Monster once it's been disturbed—you either defeat it, or die trying. For those who can slay these, beating a Chest Monster usually also means they'll drop loot, generally better loot than normal enemies and/or on the same level as a chest.


Obviously, Chest Monsters aren't threatening at all if you can avoid triggering them in the first place, but in games that encourage you to always open every last treasure chest in sight, this is easier said than done. It may or may not be possible to identify a Chest Monster without opening it up and springing the trap—sometimes there may be a minor flaw or difference that allows you to tell them apart from the genuine article; sometimes you can use an item or ability to analyze it and tell if it's real. Other times the placement is a clue—if a power-up is right there in plain sight with no guards or obstacles protecting it, it might be a trap. Or not. If all else fails and there are no clues, you'll just have to find out the hard way and hope it doesn't bite back. Thankfully, some games allow Cutting the Knot by revealing it by shooting the chest.


It makes you wonder; where did these things come from? Did a wizard make them, or have people in the world of Dungeons & Dragons been putting chests in dungeons so long mimics have had time to evolve to fill this niche?

See also Inexplicable Treasure Chests, Inn Security, and Alluring Anglerfish.

Compare Poison Mushroom, which is a harmful item disguised as a beneficial one, and Ambushing Enemy, which is an enemy that hides in and/or disguises itself as the scenery (though this trope applies if the monsters have to be dug out of the walls first). May overlap with Treacherous Checkpoint if the monster disguises itself as a Checkpoint or Save Point. The inverse is a Fake Trap, where something in the game is made to look dangerous or threatening, but is actually harmless. Can be seen as a form of Booby Trap.

Not to be confused with Chest Burster. Unrelated to a certain metaphor from the 6th Harry Potter novel. Has nothing to do with breast size.

Examples with subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • An episode of Rune Soldier Louie has a short fight scene with the party attacked by a door mimic, as well as a traditional treasure chest mimic.
  • One Piece:
    • The series has this during and episode in the Thriller Bark arc where Nami opens a chest and a surprise zombie pops out.
    • Luffy and Nami encounter a little man who, twenty years before, had fallen into a treasure chest and couldn't get out. He tries to invoke this trope to scare people away from his island.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, Joey opens a treasure chest in search of valuables, but it contains a Yamatano Dragon Scroll that captures him.
  • Pop Team Epic provides a bizarre example - an insect that disguises itself as a Japanese book store franchisee in order to lure in and kill "subculture bitches".
  • Double-subverted in KonoSuba. Kazuma and Aqua encountered a suspicious chest while exploring a dungeon, and to test whether or not it is a monster, Kazuma throws a rock at it. The chest itself is not a monster, but the wall behind the chest is.
  • Mimics in Delicious in Dungeon are actually a kind of crab that uses treasure chests both for protection (similar to hermit crabs) and as a way to to surprise prey (i.e. adventurers). Justified in that the setting has had dungeons for long enough that it's become a natural environment type, with its own evolutionary niches. This gets expanded on with the introduction of treasure bugs, the natural predator of mimics that slip in to lay eggs that devour them completely when they hatch. True to their name they resemble common treasures like coins and jewelry but are really insects with paralytic venom.
  • Fafnir's greed is demonstrated in episode 3 of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid when he plays a Dark Souls parody and is killed by a mimic despite Takiya warning him not to grab the chest.
  • Asta and Noelle encounter one in an episode of Black Clover, but instead of being full of treasure, it's instead full of the monster's internal organs.

    Card Games 
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has a reference to this in the form of Dark Mimic LV1 and Dark Mimic LV3, who both look like chests and give the player an extra draw when activated.
    • They even act as a traditional Chest Monster in Yu-Gi-Oh World Championship Tournament 2008. In the Pyramid in the World of Sunlight, there is occasionally a treasure chest. it will give you GP, a card... or a challenge by Dark Mimic LV1.
    • Other cards also allude to this, such as Yaranzo (classic demon in a treasure box) and Stuffed Animal (demon teddy bear), as well as the Man-Eating Treasure Chest.
    • Hungry Burger fits this trope as well.

    Comic Books 
  • In Gold Digger, a flashback strip to one of Gina and Britanny's early adventures has them encounter one of these that's actually guarding a treasure (inside itself). Upon finding out after taunting them that they're actually not interested in stealing said treasure because they're adventurer archaeologists and not thieves, the disappointed monster instead challenges them to a contest: they can keep anything they can snatch before it can bring its toothy lid down to bite, fair and square. Of course, Britanny Diggers is a were-cheetah with super speed...

    Films — Animation 
  • A real, living chest is one of the servants of The Beast who ambushes Gaston's invading mob in the climax of Beauty and the Beast. Specifically, a guy steps on a carpet that traps and rolls him up, then dumps him into the chest, which closes, licks, and burps.

  • The Arabian Nights includes “The Tale of the Fisherman and the Djinni”, in which a dangerous djinn, trapped in a bottle by King Solomon centuries before, threatens the human who releases it. This is perhaps a borderline instance of the trope, but it makes the basic idea Older Than Print.
  • The Harry Potter books have this with The Monster Book of Monsters, a Care of Magical Creatures textbook that is actually a furry, sharp-toothed monster itself, and will try to bite the reader if s/he doesn't open it the right way.
  • Discworld
    • While not an enemy of the protagonist, the Luggage from the Discworld novels is still a ravenous Chest Monster. But it does its master's laundry. It is, however, quite harmful to everyone else. It can also be distinguished from, say, the sort of luggage to steal underwear from, by the feet underneath. And the fact that it will, without eyes, look at you in a very unfriendly manner.
    • The Cabbage Frog in The Discworld Almanack is a frog that grows large flaps of skin that resemble cabbage leaves, and then waits for butterflies to try to lay eggs on it.
  • In Dougal Dixon's After Man, the oakleaf toad is this trope for smaller invertebrate-eating animals. Camouflaged by the leaf-like appearance of its body, it lures in prey such as shrews or small birds with its tongue, which resembles an earthworm.
  • There Is No Epic Loot Here, Only Puns: When Delta succumbs to temptation and takes the option to randomise the guardian of her underwater shortcut, she gets a giant clam full of fake treasure. She's initially scared by its appearance, but it turns out to be rather affectionate. To her, at least. Intruders may find themselves seized and pinned, though since it's Delta's dungeon, not actually eaten.
  • Villains by Necessity: Called an "Aydaptor", one nearly devours Arcie. Later it's domesticated with a spell into a pet by the adventuring party following them, to its horror.
  • Everybody Loves Large Chests: The main character of the story is a mimic that loves tasty and shiny things.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied with the paedophile disguised as a school in Brass Eye.
  • In The Future Is Wild, the Spitfire Beetle is this to a Spitfire Bird. The bird normally goes to a certain flower to stock up on chemicals for its Super Spit. Four Spitfire Beetles work together to form a fake flower, attracting the bird, which they all jump on and take down.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The great-granddaddy of this trope is the mimic, a blobby monster that can imitate any stone or wood item. The artwork in the first edition Monster Manual depicts one in the shape of a chest, setting the mold to be followed in its videogame descendants. Incidentally, it's capable of making anything it touches stick to it as if glued and thereby making sure whoever touches it first is out of the fight. The second edition compounds the problem by adding a variant that can grow to the size of a building, inflicting a Total Party Kill on any group unfortunate enough to enter the "dungeon." (It's common DM practice to have that type pose as a gazebo.) Fifth edition's Fizban Treasury of Dragons describes hoard mimics, specimens who have grown large and skilled enough to pose as entire treasure troves. They usually live symbiotically with dragons with whom they share lairs — the dragon gets a handy decoy and intruder-disposal system, while the mimic gets a steady stream of prey.
    • The wolf-in-sheep's-clothing looks like a tree stump with a fluffy bunny on its top. Underneath, it's an all teeth and tentacles abomination.
    • The "bag of devouring" is a fake Bag of Holding that's actually the mouth of an extradimensional predator, which may or may not be asleep.
    • The 3rd edition Epic Level Handbook has the living vault which, in addition to containing valuables, is a powerful creature.
    • Not truly a member of this trope, but it is implied that Nimicri, a Genius Loci found in the Planescape campaign that is found in the Chamada layer of Gehenna, might actually be related to mimics, possibly one with divine blood.
  • Tails of Equestria: Mimics hunt by disguising themselves as inviting objects, such as treasure chests, doors and chairs, and waiting for people to come close enough to attack.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Shiners are a type of giant amoeba that inhabits damp, dark places such as ruins and spreads itself thin over objects, giving them a shiny, glittering appearance that makes them seem more interesting and valuable than they would otherwise be. When treasure hunters or tomb robbers try to grab a shiner's perch, its shoots gouts of acid at them.

  • Adventurers!! makes fun of this, this time by having the monster be bigger than the box it's hiding in.
  • Awful Hospital: The Chest Worm, a worm that leaves its chest-like head on the surface while hiding its body underground.
  • Awkward Zombie adds a piece of Fridge Logic; if Mimics evolved into the shape of treasure chests, why do people still make treasure chests that look like Mimics?
  • Crystal Heroes features a mimic disguised as a toilet.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: One of the many traps in Mammon’s nigh-impenetrable vault are entire rooms filled with DND-style treasure chest mimics (though some take different forms), designed explicitly to lure in any greedy adventurers looking for treasure. They can take on many shapes and sizes, including coins. Unfortunately for them, they're kind of stupid; if you leave a room full of mimics alone, they'll eventually copy each other haphazardly until the whole room is filled with copies of one single object.
  • Our Little Adventure: One appears and is fought. The way it acts, the color of the speech bubbles and its general appearance suggests it's a minion of the Lady of Fate and Fortune.
  • Rusty and Co. follows the adventures of a party of iconic D&D monsters, one of whom is a Mimic whom default form is a chest. And his real name is "Boxford".

    Web Original 
  • DSBT InsaniT: This is Kayla's main power, creating treasure chests that contain traps. She can even hide inside of them!
  • The Shortest Story: Mimics deconstructs it a bit, with evolutionary pressures moving them away from the normal treasure chests.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-6106 is an ambush predator that transforms itself into a text document to eat anyone who reads it. It's currently taking the form of the SCP file describing it.
  • Trials & Trebuchets: The Keeper of the Book of Warlocks, or "Keepsie" is an intelligent Mimic, and a rare friendly example of the trope. They were created with the purpose of keeping a log of all the warlocks who have ever attended Wildcliff.

    Western Animation 
  • One appears in the Adventure Time episode "Dungeon", vomiting treasure when awakened.
  • One of these shows up as the Monster of the Week in the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Shirley the Medium". When Eustace Bagge receives a suitcase as an inheritance from his deceased brother Horst, he eagerly opens it up expecting to find money inside, only to discover that it contains a strange demonic entity with gigantic, long arms. The "Box Demon" tries to grab Eustace, Muriel, and Courage, eventually succeeding at pulling Eustace inside the box. The episode ends with Eusatace finding himself trapped in a Pocket Dimension filled with a vast sea of money, much to his greedy delight. However, he can't spend any of it.

    Real Life 
  • The old snake-in-the-can-of-nuts prank is a popular real life example.
  • In nature, this trope is known as "aggressive mimicry", the phenomenon where a predatory organism disguises itself as something harmless in order to lure its prey in.
  • The Alligator Snapping Turtle lies in wait wiggling its wormlike tongue until a fish comes along and thinks it's about to get lunch. Then it becomes lunch.
  • The golden lancehead, a pit viper unique to one island off the Brazilian coast, catches birds by lowering its tail beneath the branch it's coiled on and twitching the tip. Birds approach to investigate the "wriggling grub" and get snatched up by the snake.
  • The spider-tailed horned viper, which is native to Iran, uses an even more sophisticated lure; as its name implies, the end of its tail is shaped like a spider, and it completes the disguise by wiggling the tail back and forth so that it looks like a spider skittering around. Insectivorous birds coming to try and nab the "spider" will suddenly find themselves being attacked by a bird-eating snake. Interestingly, the snake only seems to feed on migratory birds, suggesting that birds native to the area have already learned to recognize the difference between it and real spiders.
  • The monkfish, a species of flat angler fish that hides in the sea floor buried in the sand. It waves a lure to attract unsuspecting fish, and when the fish gets close enough it jumps out of the sand and gobbles it down.
  • The megamouth shark has an iridescent lining and array of photophores inside its mouth, which may resemble a swarm of bio-luminescent zooplankton, attracting plankton-eating krill straight into the shark's maw.
  • There is a type of starfish that stands up on the tip of its arms, forming a kind of tent. Small fish will then see it as a convenient hiding spot from predators, sitting right below the starfish's mouth. Also, wading birds of prey such as herons will extend their wings on sunny days, creating pools of shade where they stand in the shallows. Small fish gather to rest in the wings' shadows, or to look for insects that might have fallen from the "overhanging branches".
  • There's cases where an octopus is found inside a clam instead of, well, clam flesh. Apparently it doesn't like being found out.
  • Some types of wine involve pickling a live viper in a bottle for months. Usually the snake dies but sometimes, it doesn't. There are even instances of snakes coming back to life and biting people who try to open the bottle.
  • A popular internet gag involves linking to a source that appears to lead somewhere innocent (or perhaps not so innocent...), only to instead link to Rick Astley's ''Never Going to Give You Up''. The following link is not one such example: [1] And there is also the similar gag of tricking somebody into going to a Shock Site.
  • There are websites out there that are set up to look like they sell vacation packages and give the visitor the option to be paired up with a companion of their age choice, with the age choices all being under 18 years old. These are actually fronts for federal agencies, who use these false websites to catch pedophiles.
  • Many illicit file sharing sites will have a download button for the file you want, usually just some hyperlinked text with a bold typeface at best...and often at least one or two large "DOWNLOAD" buttons that are ads in disguise. At best, you just get sidetracked, at worst, you're taken to a page laden with malware.


Video Example(s):


Luigi's Mansion 3 Chest

Luigi has to drive out the Spirit Balls possessing a chest, then suck them up and reap the sweet rewards.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ChestMonster

Media sources: