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Closet Sublet

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Mitch: Did you know there's a guy living in our closet?
Chris: You've seen him too? ...
Mitch: Why does he keep going into our closet?
Chris: Why do you keep going into our closet?
Mitch: To get my clothes — but that's not why he goes in there.
Chris: Of course not, he's twice your size. Your clothes would never fit him.

A character who, for one reason or another, is living in another character's wardrobe/closet. For some reason, the "tenant" is usually a child of some sort. Happens a lot in anime, apparently because in Japan some people do indeed spend time in their closets during certain types of weather. That's half the reason why even smaller houses have big closets. Of course, apartments and capsules in Japan don't have closets at all.

In addition, following from Trope Codifier Urusei Yatsura, it's a way to allow the Magical Girlfriend to live with The Protagonist without the two having to share a room.

This can be a more extreme form of Bad Bedroom, Bad Life if the character's in the closet by force.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • R.O.D the TV has very tall Maggie sleep in a closet. She likes small spaces.
  • Lum in Urusei Yatsura is the Trope Codifier. (It's based on a pun: in Japanese, "an oni in the closet" is slang for a freeloader.)
  • Although the floorplan for Misato's apartment shifts constantly from episode to episode, in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Asuka forces this arrangement on Shinji, comandeering his bedroom and forcing him into the smaller spare room across the hall. The supplementary books have floor plans, and according to them, Shinji got dumped into the study/sewing room.
  • This the plot of Rizelmine, where the main character's Unwanted Spouse takes up residence in his walk-in closet.
  • While Rukia of Bleach is in the mortal world, she stays hidden inside Ichigo's closet, to his chagrin. She eventually gets an upgrade by sharing his sisters' bedroom. She prefers the closet.
    • In some of the Omake shorts in the anime, it's not clear whether Rukia is actually renting the space, or has simply told everyone back home that providing closet lodgings and temporary storage is one of the duties of a Substitute Shinigami like Ichigo.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: Kiri Komori will randomly show up in Itoshiki-sensei's closet (or any other dark, enclosed space) when the "plot" requires.
  • It's hinted that Maika in Magikano frequently hides in her brother Haruo's closet and watches him sleep, as part of her obsession with him and her ultimate goal of some Brother–Sister Incest.
  • NieA in Niea_7.
  • Ren-Ren-Ren-Nagusaran-Rensia-Roroonren-Nakora in DearS. Since it's divided by a shelf halfway up its length, several other characters take up the bottom space (with Ren holding the upper space) over the course of the series.
  • Doraemon sleeps in Nobita's closet.
  • Tenchi Muyo!:
    • Ryoko is occasionally like this, only she tends to prefer rafters to closets.
    • Washuu winds up taking residence in an extradimensional space created using the Masaki broom closet under the stairs.
  • Konoe goes into Akuto's closet at least once to "observe" him in Demon King Daimao.
  • When Ilulu joins the Kobayashi household in the anime version of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, she chooses to take up residence in Tohru and Kanna's closet since there isn't any room in the apartment for another bed. Her sleeping arrangements (and the layout of the apartment for that matter) are slightly less defined in the manga, with Kobayashi merely mentioning that she and Kanna have a futon without any comment about what room it's in.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Harry lives in the closet under the Dursley's stairs before he starts getting strange letters addressed to:
    Mr H Potter
    The Cupboard under the Stairs.
    4 Privet Drive.
    Little Whinging
His aunt and uncle attempt to thwart delivery by finally moving him to the spare bedroom, but it predictably doesn't work.
  • In the Val Kilmer movie Real Genius, Lazlo lives in Mitch and Chris' closet. Sorta. The closet actually contains a lift to his hidden laboratory in the steam tunnels below the school.
  • In Charlie Kaufman's movie Synecdoche, New York the main character Caden Cotard moves into his ex-wife Adele's closet after taking the place of her maid, presumably without Adele's knowledge, living out the rest of his days there.
  • He Died with a Felafel in His Hand. The residents sharing an overcrowded Brisbane home are not happy when a Japanese student called Satomi wants to stay also until she produces a large wad of cash. So she's offered a narrow storage closet in the enclosed verandah.
  • Referenced for laughs in the 2001 film Head Over Heels 2001: when Amanda moves in with a group of fashion models, she compares the room she's subletting to a closet, so they show her that their climate-controlled walk-in shoe closet is actually much nicer.

  • Harry Potter lived in the closet under the staircase in the Dursleys' home prior to getting a bunch of Hogwarts letters specifically addressed to it in The Philosopher's Stone. He didn't like it much, as his cousin Dudley loved to bang down the staircase just to annoy him, and it was often full of spiders. As punishment, the Dursleys would sometimes lock him inside it. Further cementing Harry's status as the Un Favorite, the Dursleys do have a spare bedroom, but Dudley uses both of them to keep all of his stuff.
  • In a non-romantic, male example, Spider from Anansi Boys takes up residence in the tiny walk-in closet belonging to his brother, "Fat Charlie" Nancy. Or rather, his immense penthouse with a scenic view of a waterfall in the Amazon jungle takes up residence there. And Spider absolutely refuses to leave. Hilarity Ensues. So does a number of other things that are mostly entertaining when they don't happen to you.
  • In the book The Sugar Queen, there's a girl living in another girl's closet.
  • In The Westing Game, Turtle insists that her bedroom was designed to be only a closet. Her mother disagrees, but someone else who comes looking for the two of them asks why they're in a closet.
  • In the Mercy Thompson series, Stefan once crashed for the day in Mercy's closet. Justified, as he's a vampire and it was the only space in her trailer that could be entirely sealed off from light.
  • In the James Herriot All Creatures Great And Small series Tristan Farnon lives in the closet of James' room in Skeldale House. It seems that James got his room when he got the job of new assistant to Seigfried Farnon. This has led to amusement when some of Tristan's pranks involve him staying up later than James...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: With Anya gone, Spike ignominiously moves into a "spare room" in Xander's apartment.
    Xander: I know it looks like a closet but it's a room now.
  • The 2005 American sitcom Committed had a 'dying clown' living in the female lead's closet. When asked about this little eccentricity by a potential suitor, she reveals that she is subletting her apartment and a condition of the lease is that the clown gets to live in the closet until he dies. "They're used to small spaces, you know the cars."
  • In Pig Sty, due to events leading to too many people living in the apartment, Cal was forced to sleep in the living room closet.
  • In Prosecutor Princess something along these lines happens, with a man sneaking in and eating her food, using her shampoo, etc.
  • One recurring sketch on Nickelodeon's Turkey Television was an E.T. parody starring Adam Reed as a boy with a friendly alien living in his closet.
  • The Sean Cullen Show had Winston the Cellar Dweller, who pays Sean rent.
  • In Twitch City, the female lead can't afford to rent a room, so she rents a walk-in closet and redecorates accordingly. It doesn't look half bad.
  • In The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Cody decides to live in their suite's front closet when he gets fed up with Zack refusing to clean his side of their room. He moves back once Zack decides to clean it up (and because the fire department told him it was illegal for him to live there).
  • In The Office (US), Angela moves into Oscar's closet when he offers to take her in after she is evicted from her apartment.
    Oscar: When she got kicked out of her apartment, I invited her to move in with me. Ironic that now it's Angela who's living in the closet.
  • The Boys (2019). At the start of Season 2 we get a Contrast Montage of Hughie Campbell (now on the run as a federal fugitive) living in the cleaning closet of a gangbanger's basement hideout, versus the luxury apartment Starlight lives in as a celebrity superhero.
  • In Flight of the Conchords, Jemaine's ex Sally seems to be considering getting back together with him but insists that he'll have to move out of the apartment he shares with Bret, her previous ex-boyfriend. He enlists Bret and Murray to help him move a mattress to his new place, which turns out not to be big enough to fit it unless it's propped against the wall. (He later hosts a somewhat awkward party inside.)
    Jemaine: What do you think?
    Murray: It''s not a room, it's a cupboard.
    Jemaine: It's not a cupboard.
    Bret: It's a cleaning cupboard.
    Jemaine: It's not a cleaning cupboard.
    Murray: (looking past him) Is that—what's—is that cleaning products?
    Bret: Well, it must have, at one stage, been a cleaning cupboard.
    Jemaine: It's not a cleaning cupboard, it's an apartment. It's my studio apartment.
    Murray: More like a compartment.
  • Seinfeld has Elaine pretending that a janitor's closet in a building across the street from hers is her apartment so that she can order Chinese food from a restaurant that won't deliver as far as her side of the street. While it's Downplayed in that she doesn't actually live there, it doesn't stop her from having Jerry over for dinner or George and Kramer from promptly doing their typical Drop-In Character thing, mightily confusing the super, who's been interacting with Elaine under the assumption that she's the janitor. ("Janitor's meeting.")

  • The Israeli group Poogy has a song about a family who live in a wardrobe (most Israeli housing does not have built-in closets) because they can't afford an apartment.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one Zits comic Sara moved her bed to her she can use her room to store her abundant wardrobe.
    D'ijon: So your bedroom is now your closet, and your closet is now your bedroom.
    Sara: I finally got my priorities straight!


    Video Games 

  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, Mab takes up residence in Dan's closet after her Faery Grove gets blown up. Granted, its more a case of using his closet-door as an entrance into her own, private pocket-dimension, but it evokes much the same effect when she pops into and out of her "home".
  • Cookie's office in Furry Fight Chronicles is the janitor's room of a soapland. It's also her living arrangements. As of Chapter 19, this is also Muko's home until she gets an apartment.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs in Futurama. Fry wanted to live with Bender, but Bender lives in a robot apartment — which is the size of a closet since robots apparently don't use their homes for anything except "sleeping" standing up. They eventually find a great new apartment with lots of amenities, which Bender doesn't like until he steps into a small closet that he describes as "homey" and claims as his bedroom. The plot of the rest of the episode results in them getting kicked out and moving back to Bender's old place, with Fry resigning himself to the tiny space. It's then revealed that Bender's apartment has a closet of its own (the door to which is indistinguishable from the wall until it's opened by pushing a button), which has multiple rooms and is the size of a human apartment.
    Fry: This is huge! Bender, why don't I just live in here?
    Bender: In a closet? Oh, humans!
  • For several seasons of Family Guy, an apparently evil monkey lived in Chris's closet. It's later revealed that he's not evil, he's just crashing there until he sorts himself out emotionally from his divorce. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • A variation from King of the Hill; during the family's trip to Tokyo, they have an uncomfortable stay crammed into what they believe is a stereotypical tiny Japanese hotel room. It isn't until they're checking out that they discover that it was merely the foyer, and that the back "wall" was really a sliding door, behind which is a full-sized hotel suite consisting of several rooms.
  • In The Loud House, Lincoln Loud's bedroom is actually a converted walk-in linen closet—and while he has sometimes complained about having a smaller bedroom compared to his sisters and their parents, Lincoln's at least happy that he's able to have his own room. It also appears to be a fairly large closet, because in most episodes, it's shown to be able to not only fit Lincoln, all of his stuff and at least one other person (usually his Black and Nerdy best friend, Clyde McBride), but it can also fit all eleven of the Loud siblings (and still with room to spare).
  • In Bob's Burgers, Louise is happy to sleep in a converted walk-in closet rather than share a room with Tina because for some reason she hates the idea of anyone else going in her personal space. (She once gave her mom the Silent Treatment for a week simply because she went in to vacuum.)
  • Young Justice: According to the tie-in comic, Superboy spent his first night of freedom sleeping at Wally's house. When Wally wakes up, he finds him sleeping upright in his closet.
    Superboy: You closet reminded me of my Cadmus pod. Except for the funny smells...
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Norm, Doofenshmirtz's robot henchman, lives in a janitor's closet with his name on the door at Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: There was a case in Japan where a homeless woman secretly lived in a man's closet. The man noticed only when he realised that the amount of food he bought and ate didn't match up, and set cameras around the house.
  • George Clooney admits he used to live out of friends' closets when he was broke and couldn't afford rent while struggling to break into show business.
  • A property-for-rent advert in London aroused serious outrage when apparently a central London landlord was happy to rent part of his attic to a tenant for around £900 a month (about $1500 US). The space was painfully small, allowed no room to stand up, and as angry viewers pointed out, was illegal because there was no egress in the event of fire, limited access to shared bathroom and kitchen, and no external window. It turned out the advert was a prank by someone interested to see how far the housing crisis in the capital went — he had over a hundred serious replies.