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Closet Sublet

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This space for rent.

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 or another tiny space that's likely not legal to rent as a room. Due to the small size of the room, the "tenant" is usually a child or teen. Happens a lot in anime, because in Japan some people do 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 capsule hotels 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.

In Real Life, in the urban areas with the highest rents, such as San Francisco and Hong Kong, landlords may illegally rent out tiny spaces made by partitioning off one room into several bed-sized units.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Konoe goes into Akuto's closet at least once to "observe" him in Demon King Daimao.
  • Doraemon sleeps in Nobita's closet.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • R.O.D the TV has very tall Maggie sleep in a closet. She likes small spaces.
  • This the plot of Rizelmine, where the main character's Unwanted Spouse takes up residence in his walk-in closet.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: Kiri Komori will randomly show up in Itoshiki-sensei's closet (or any other dark, enclosed space) when the "plot" requires.
  • 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.
  • Lum in Urusei Yatsura is the Trope Codifier, taking residence in her human "husband's" closet when staying at his house. (It's based on a pun: in Japanese, "an oni in the closet" is slang for a freeloader.)

    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.
  • Head Over Heels (2001): Referenced for laughs 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Harry Potter lived in the cupboard 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 not one but two spare bedrooms, but Dudley uses and of them to keep all of his stuff, and the other is used as a guest room.
  • 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 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • The Brittas Empire: The episode "Temple of the Body" reveals that after losing her home, Carole moved into a cupboard in the leisure centre, where she presumably stays for the rest of the series. A more extreme example would be her children, who Carole raises in the drawers and cupboard behind reception. Helps that by Series 5, Carole has managed to expand the cupboard into a full playroom.
  • 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 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?
    Jemaine: Yeah, I don't know what they're doing here.
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Sean Cullen Show had Winston the Cellar Dweller, who pays Sean rent.
  • 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.")
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 

    Web Animation 
  • Etra chan saw it!: Akamatsu sleeps in Tsutsuji's closet for several times, then it's revealed that he is only there because he has been hiding his porn magazines above the ceiling inside her closet the whole time.

  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, Mab takes up residence in Dan's closet after her Faery Grove gets blown up. Granted, it's 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 
  • In Bob's Burgers, Louise apparently hates people going into her personal space, and thus chooses to sleep in a converted walk-in closet rather than share a room with Tina. She once gave her mother the Silent Treatment for a week when she went in there to vacuum.
  • 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.
  • Played for Laughs in Futurama. Fry moves in with his Robot Buddy Bender, but it turns out that robots live in closet-sized apartments which they don't use for anything except "sleeping" standing up. For Fry's sake, they both move into a human apartment with plenty of space and lots of amenities, which Bender doesn't like until he finds a "homey" closet to claim as his bedroom. The episode ends with them having to move back into Bender's old place, with Fry resigned to the tiny space. It's then revealed that the wall of Bender's apartment slides up to reveal a "closet" of its own, which is the size of a human apartment and has multiple rooms.
    Fry: This is huge! Bender, why don't I just live in here?
    Bender: In a closet? Oh, humans!
  • 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 is a full-sized suite with several rooms (and one very rotten fruit basket that has been sitting out on the table the entire time).
  • In The Loud House, Lincoln's bedroom is actually a converted walk-in linen closet. While he sometimes complains about the size, Lincoln's at least happy to have his own room, while his ten sisters all have to double up. It also appears to be a fairly large closet—or at least subject to Your Size May Vary—since all of the siblings have fit inside at times.
  • 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.
  • 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: Your closet reminded me of my Cadmus pod. Except for the funny smells...

    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.
  • Hong Kong's 'coffin apartments' are tiny apartments about the size of a single bed. About 200,000 people live in these cramped units. These units, which are made by subdividing apartments with partitions, violate fire codes.
  • Japan's 'capsule hotels' is the example of these done (arguably) right. The COVID-19 Pandemic bring the 'capsule hotels' fad to an end, however.