A character opens a surreptitiously bulging door to a storage area, and is buried in an avalanche of junk, followed by a skier or something if the authors are feeling particularly silly.
The set-up may often involve another character trying to clean up in a hurry (and by "clean up", we mean "just hide all the mess somewhere").
If the closet is continuously left in complete and utter chaos as a Running Gag, no-one will bother to organize this closet, and instead opt to quickly open it, retrieve what they need, and hastily shut it in one smooth movement.
Later, a character who is oblivious of the closet's nature innocently opens it, only to be buried under a heap of cleaning tools, souvenirs, novelties and whatnot.
Apparently, all household junk is rubbery and spongy enough that you can squeeze a roomful of the stuff into a single foot-deep closet, as long as you're strong enough to force the door shut afterward. Given the fact that many of these knickknacks can be comfortably squeezed into (and pulled out of) thin air, this may not be that inexplicable. Alternatively, the closet could just be really large on the inside.
Sometimes Truth in Television, but older. It was most notably the subject of a Running Gag on the popular radio series Fibber McGee and Molly — the former trope namer. Compare Closet Shuffle. Has nothing to do with actually blowing up closets, not with Transparent Closet, which is more metaphorical.
- A commercial for Rubbermaid food containers emphasized how one could keep their containers nicely organized versus other brands, demonstrated with an exploding kitchen cupboard full of Ziploc-esque containers.
- A 2003 Toys R Us commercial has Geoffrey coming back from delivering Big Book bonus toys with the weekend paper, only to realize he supposed to deliver bonus toy deals. Cut to a man opening his front door and getting buried in a pile of toys.
- In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 38, Paddi eats everything in a bunch of cans of food so that he can give them to Wolffy, who is pretending to be a Mexican merchant who wants cans (he's looking for the lucky doll's red can so that he can harness its lucky power). Paddi opens a closet in his house, only for a bunch of empty cans to fall on him.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- Diamond is Unbreakable: In the spin-off; Crazy Diamond's Demonic Heartbreak, Hol Horse accidentally shoots open a closet full of swords, which start chasing him thanks to the magnetism induced on him by Mariah's Stand.
- JoJolion: Joshu returns back to the Higashikata household after his Plague of Good Fortune starts getting out of control, but upon opening his bedroom, he gets struck by a huge pile of money that nearly traps him underneath.
- Happens in the very first episode of Mahoromatic, where Mahoro opens a bulging closet in Suguru's house only to promptly have an avalanche of matching shorts spill out all over her.
- In My Monster Secret, it's implied that Youko "cleans up" her apartment for visitors by shoving everything into her closet, since every time someone comes over she warns them against opening the door. It actually happens (off-camera) when Mikan invites herself in and opens the closet over Youko's objections, which conveniently knocks her out and keeps her from discovering Youko's secret.
- The Ranma ½ manga chapter and anime episode featuring the return of Principal Kunō to Fūrinkan High School have an office filled to the brink with coconuts, which crash upon the students as soon as they open the door.
- In R.O.D the TV, this happens with the three sisters' entire apartment, which is stuffed to bursting with books.
- In Stellvia of the Universe, Shima cleans up before a study session by cramming all of her stuffed toys into the closet. Jojo notices one sticking out and opens the door.
- Angel Love has Angel's apartment mail slot exploding with letters that were all addressed to her roommate Wendy when she put an ad out looking for a date.
- A minor Running Gag in Belgian comic Gaston Lagaffe. In the second half◊ of the comic that provides the current page image, we are shown Gaston's technique for filling the dreaded cabinet so that things don't fall out: he lays it down and quite literally shovels everything in.
Gaston: You haul sixteen tons, what do you get?
- In the comic Suske en Wiske, before the girl Wiske opens a medicine cabinet, she places a basin before it and stands back, as the contents fall out of it.
- A Running Gag in the newspaper strip Big Nate, with Nate's school locker exploding with an impossible volume of crap whenever he opens it (with Nate able to swiftly find whatever he wants to in the debris). Exploited in one strip, where he uses it to launch a new kid to the sick bay (he overshot the intended destination, but it's noted that given what's just happened to the kid, it may be for the best).
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin uses this trope to make it look like he cleaned his room — until his mom opens the closet.
Calvin's Mom: Back to work, kiddo.
Calvin: YOU made THIS mess! YOU clean it up!
- One The Far Side strip has a headhunter's wife being half-buried in skulls that come spilling out an opened closet.
- Garfield: Happens a few times, including this strip (in which Garfield is buried under an avalanche of clothes hangers) and another (in which Jon opens a closet and is drenched because he accidentally turned Garfield's water collection loose).
- Peanuts: In a 1963 strip, the latch to the door on Snoopy's doghouse gives way, releasing an avalanche of junk.
- In Harry Potter and the Unwanted Ticket, Hedwig's son Louis and a few other owls deposit most of the several thousand Hogwarts letters sent to Harry in Dumbledore's office. When the door doesn't automatically open for him later on, Dumbledore vanishes it and is pushed downstairs by a flood of mail.
- Happens with the Wardrobe in Epic Movie (2007), or so it shows in the commercial.
- The "broom closet" Hoggle opens accidentally in the oubliette in Labyrinth is packed full of stuff. However, since opening the door from the other side reveals a passage, that closet obviously isn't following the laws of physics.
Hoggle: Well, can't be right all the time.
- In one of Jeanne Robertson's videos she describes interviewing her Administrative Assistant who opens a closet before Jeanne can warn her "and the sporting world fell out upon her."
- Played for Drama in Little Woods. When Ollie has a surprise visit from her probation officer, she hastily crams her drugs in her closet. It's emphasized how close a call Ollie had by how the officer doesn't check her closet, then after he leaves she opens it and all the drugs splatter on the floor.
- The Berenstain Bears: In ...and the Messy Room, poor Mama Bear falls victim to this after Brother and Sister pack their closet with their toys. This also happens to her in the Animated Adaptation.
- Hannah Swensen: A variant in Blueberry Muffin Murder, where it's not opening the door that causes the problem. Instead, Hannah's friend Janie had been trying to retrieve Hannah's cat Moishe from the walk-in closet in her guest room, where Hannah keeps mounds of old clothing that she keeps meaning to take to the thrift store. While she's in there, the closet pole (which Hannah admits has been loose for some time) gives way, burying her in an avalanche of all the clothes that were hanging on it. It takes several trips, with an armload each, before Hannah can pull enough clothes out of the closet to uncover Janie. (Moishe, meanwhile, turns out to have hopped up on the top shelf.)
- The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks: This trope happens three times in the very first book, all to the same person. First, when Michael (the very messy owner of the title plant) is bribed to clean up his room, he really just shoved everything in the closet; his younger brother Norman finds out the hard way when he opens the door to find one of his hats and gets buried in an avalanche of junk. The second time, when he opens the door to search for missing socks, Norman is fully expecting this trope, but is only buried in junk up to his knees. The third time, he's trying to find his Super Splasher Water Blaster to water his plant and gets completely buried again (much to his annoyance, as Michael had told him he'd tossed most of the junk in their room out the window).
- Happens to Wolf with a broom closet near the end of The 10th Kingdom, when he, Tony, and Virginia are looking in Wendell's palace for the Evil Queen's room of Magic Mirrors. Played with in that as a wolf his senses should have told him it was the wrong room, except at the time he was actually working for the Queen (but only to fool her so he could save the poisoned guests and eventually Virginia), so he did this on purpose to keep anyone from being suspicious.
- 100 Things to Do Before High School: In "Become a Millionaire and Give It All Away Thing!", C.J. has to clean out the gym store room. Every time she opens the door, she gets buried beneath an avalanche of balls of different sizes.
- An episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show has Rob imagining the world has been taken over by aliens through the use of walnuts (it's a long story). The episode climaxes with Rob opening open a hall closet and a ton of walnuts cascading out... followed by his wife Laura.
- In the Free Spirit pilot, one of the first magic tricks that Winnie performs for Gene involves cleaning his room in the blink of an eye. Before she leaves to talk to Gene's father about possibly becoming the new housekeeper, Gene comments that before, he'd just clean his room by stuffing everything in his closet. He gets cut short when all the clutter that Winnie put away spills out of said closet.
- In an episode of Friends, Ross and Monica are cleaning out their dead grandmother's apartment. Earlier on they had had a discussion about how their grandmother was always collecting packets of sugar. Ross pulls down a box from a high shelf, and out spill piles of sugar packets.
- In an episode, Spencer is going on a camping trip and needs to get his sleeping bag out of the Shays' storage locker in the basement. Guess what happens next.
- In another, Sam rigs Lewbert's cupboards to bury him with golf balls.
- Newsradio discussed the tendency of Fibber McGee and Molly to do this when Mr. James gives Matthew a collection of tapes of the radio program.
Matthew: [laughing] There's this part where Molly tells Fibber McGee to clean out the closet. Guess what happens?
Dave: He opens the closet and all the stuff that's inside pours out on top of him.
Matthew: [stops laughing] Oh, that's what that sound is. [starts laughing again] That's even funnier!
- A Saturday Night Live skit involving a couple of water delivery men who have been hoarding their product ends with one of them opening a closet door and a cascade of empty water jugs spilling out.
- Shining Time Station: Subverted in the Schemer Presents episode, "How to Clean Your Room"; when Becky arrives to help Schemer clean his room, she finds it already clean. She suspects that Schemer hid all of his things in the closet, which is implied to be the case at first, as Schemer tries to prevent her from opening the closet. When she finally does, she finds out that it really is clean, and that Schemer really hid his things inside his murphy bed.
- Star Trek:
- Happens once in, of all places, Star Trek: The Original Series, episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", resulting in Kirk being buried in an avalanche of tribbles. Certainly embodies the spirit of the trope, but also justified in that the "closet" in question was a (formerly) grain-filled cargo bay.
- The fact that tribbles are still falling on Kirk's head after the trap is open is explained somewhat in the Deep Space Nine episode "Trial and Tribble-ations", when it is revealed that the tribbles are being thrown out onto him by people trying to identify which one is a bomb.
- Used twice in one episode of Three's Company when the gang goes on a trip to a cabin. Trying to find the bedroom, Jack opens a door which actually leads outside and is bombarded by a pile of firewood. Janet opens the closet and... you know the rest.
- Whenever the Kratt Brothers want to go on an adventure, they open the closet and just shield themselves from the falling safari gear. Then they pick up what they need from whatever fell on the ground and leave.
- Also subverted, as a female guest-host who occasionally visited was able to open the closet, take out what she wanted, and close it again, without any problem. Of course, the next time the guys opened the closet, they again had all their stuff raining down on them.
- Subverted further on other episodes where they expect the closet to do this and the closet doesn't do it, actually giving them the stuff they need. It seems like the closet is honestly self aware, and since this is an edutainment show, that might not be too farfetched.
- A Running Gag in Fibber McGee and Molly, a radio show where McGee owns such a closet. Originally the Trope Namer. Virtually all Exploding Closet references in media before 1980 or so are homages to Fibber McGee's closet, making this a possibly unique case of trope maker, codifier, namer and ur-example all in one.
- Dungeons & Dragons, Polyhedron magazine #98 adventure "A Handful of Dust". Most of Bendekar's house is stuffed with random junk that presses up against the inside of the front door. As a result, the door bulges ominously. If anyone opens the house's front door from the outside, a torrent of pieces of armor will fly out and falling on anyone within ten feet, inflicting 2-12 Hit Points of damage.
- In one of the Grimtooth's Traps books, we find Fibber McGee's Closet of Caltrops.
- PopTropica: On Big Nate Island, when you open Nate's locker, a cutscene shows you being blown away by everything in it.
- Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Sam and Max take a little souvenir from every case they do, and keep it in the closet. Once they get to the future and try to open the closet, Sam has to slam it shut before he's crushed under all that stuff.
- Girl Genius:
- Used early, when Agatha cleans up a lab by stuffing a nearby closet with all the junk, and then the overlord's son Gilgamesh decides to open it to get something. ("That's the worst filing system I've ever seen.") The bump on the head actually helps him clear up his thoughts.
- It's also used in a wallpaper that shows Agatha, Gilgamesh, and Tarvek housecleaning; Krosp has just opened a door and a huge pile of skulls have fallen outnote . The featherduster Agatha's holding seems rather inadequate to the task ahead....
- Homestuck: Dave's house... and a few pages later...
- In Sequential Art, the Exploding Closet is simply called "junk room".
- In The Whiteboard, when Cara invites Doc to her apartment, she asks Miki to tidy the apartment before he gets there. Miki says she'll bulldoze everything into the hall closet, and suggests that Cara ask Doc to open it in order to "test how durable your new boyfriend is". Subverted when he actually does so, however.
Doc: Something tells me Miki is really good at Tetris.
- Protectors of the Plot Continuum: This is a Once per Episode Running Gag in the missions featuring Backslash and Whitney. For no other reason than Rule of Funny, opening the closet door of their RC always results in a flood of items spilling out, frequently related to the continuum the badfic they're slated to spork takes place in (e.g. food, Maxim Tomatoes, and Invincibility Lollipops for a Kirby mission). Whitney is smart enough to get out of the way after opening the door; Backslash is not.
- The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: Kootie Pie hears King Koopa stomp towards her room, demanding for it to be cleaned. She shoves all her clothes in the closet, and they rain down on Koopa the moment he walks inside. She gets grounded and decides to run away from home.
- In the TV special, The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree, the closet full of the Bear family's Christmas decorations spills its contents on the floor a second after Papa and Brother open it.
- Codename: Kids Next Door has the entire plot of an episode revolving around this. It takes the Bigger on the Inside variant to extremes with the avalanche being from a literal Himalayan-themed mountain of junk inside the closet.
- This happens in the Code Lyoko episode "Sabotage", where Jérémie has to tidy up his room in a hurry for an inspection. Jim needn't even touch the closet: it bursts open each time he gets close to it.
- The Cuphead Show!: In the second episode, the closet Baby Bottle crawls into explodes when Cuphead opens it.
- Dog City: In "The Dog Pound", Elliot is accused of chewing Bruno's personal slipper (A serious crime among dogs) and placed under doghouse arrest. Panicked at the idea of going to jail, Elliot considers running away, opens his closet, and gets buried under an avalanche of stuff.
- DuckTales (1987): It happens to Huey, Dewey, and Louie when Scrooge opens their closet in "Raiders of the Lost Harp". The nephews have been told to clean their room, but they stuffed everything all at once in their closet.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "A Glass Of Warm Ed", when Eddy and Double D decide stay over at Ed's place to prevent him from sleepwalking, Eddy opens a nearby closet and immediately gets buried by stuffed food.
- An episode of The Flintstones has this happen to Fred when he goes to the closet to look for his bowling ball. It turns out that's where Dino was hiding his bones.
- Hilda: When Hilda's mom opens up the house's portal door, all the stuff the others asked for promptly buries her.
- Johnny Test: The first opening has Johnny opening a closet full of junk, including a surfboard he hops onto.
- Looney Tunes:
- In the short "Fool Coverage", insurance salesman Daffy Duck rigs up one of these to convince Porky Pig he needs to buy a policy. Naturally, it backfires and Daffy's the one who ends up buried in junk.
- In "Thumb Fun", Daffy overstuffs the trunk of Porky's car to similar effect... and it, too, backfires on Daffy.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Goldie Delicious, the historian of the Apples family, is well-established as a compulsive hoarder in her debut episode. In "The Perfect Pear", when the Apple siblings knock at the door of her cottage, said door bulges outward and explodes in an avalanche of books and furniture entirely covering the front lawn.
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: This is a small Running Gag whenever someone opens a closet, and have a bunch of knick-knacks avalanche on them.
Rabbit: Pooh, I want my shovel back, right now! And I'm going to get it!
- For example, "Lights Out" begins with Rabbit storming into Pooh's house after he allowed the bear to borrow his shovel, but Pooh forgot to return it. Pooh states he left the shovel in his closet and Rabbit, dismissing Pooh's warnings, opens the door and gets trampled in junk. The last item to fall is the shovel, which Pooh gleefully hands to a nearly buried and grumbling Rabbit.
Pooh: Your shovel?
Rabbit: You promised you'd return it last week, you silly bear! If I don't begin planting my carrots at the stroke of 12, how will they grow up to be midnight snacks?!
Pooh: I don't know, Rabbit. Uh...how?
Rabbit: [pulling his ears in frustration] AAARGH!!! Pooh, no more borrowing! Shovel. Now!
Pooh: Actually, I think I left it in the closet.
Rabbit: Aha! [sprints towards the closet]
Pooh: But, Rabbit...
Rabbit: No "buts" about it! [opens closet door, only to be trampled by Pooh's knick knacks; The last item to fall is the shovel]
Pooh: Here you go, Rabbit. Your shovel.
Rabbit: We must avoid the terrible fiasco that took place last year!
- In "Un-Valentine's Day", Rabbit holds a meeting about cancelling Valentine's Day. When Tigger asks why, Rabbit shows him by opening his cupboard, causing a flood of Valentine cards to fall out and bury Tigger underneath them.
Tigger: Abso-tively posi-lutely, longears! Er, but just one thing, what terrible fiasco are we talking about?
Rabbit: Tigger, allow me to refresh your memory. [opens the cupboard, and the cards inside fall out and bury Tigger] Too many cards were given last year. Ten zillion Valentines is more than any one animal can use!
- In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Ploys R' Us" the girls' room is constantly flooded with toys, which come from a sleepwalking Professor. When the Professor asks to come in the room the girls frantically try to hide all the toys, with Bubbles stuffing a bunch in the closet. As the Professor enters an avalanche of toys comes out and he demands to know where they came from. The girls claim they're presents from the city for always saving the day. The Professor is satisfied with that answer and leaves.
- In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Space Junk", Jet tries to clean the garage by stuffing all of his boxes in the closet. Then the closet explodes, letting all the boxes out, and the garage is messy again.
- In the Rugrats episode, "Stu Gets a Job", one of Tommy's attempts to keep Stu from going to work is by filling his closet with his toys. When Stu opens his closet, an avalanche of toys falls on him. Stu believes that Drew filled his closet with toys as a prank, to get back at Stu for not paying a loan (Stu thought he already paid it back but he still had the check).
- In The Simpsons episode "Supercalifragilisticexpeali(Annoyed Grunt)cious", after Sharry and Bart and Lisa clean up the room by shoving everything in the closet, under the bed and under the rug, as soon as they close the door, everything spills back out, making the room messier than it started out.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob has a closet full of trophies. Patrick ends up opening it in one episode, and is flooded by the trophies inside.
- An episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady go after a friend of Irma's in his apartment. He goes to escape, only for Bebop to jump in front of the door and tell him he's not going through it. He simply replies "Oh, that's okay. I don't use that closet much anyway." Confused, Bebop turns around, opens the door, and gets buried by the junk inside.
- A Running Gag in Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, where everytime Mr. Whoopee gets the 3DBB he has to open the storage, which leads to the character getting avalanched with all the junk he keeps in there. He always comes out unharmed with the blackboard he was looking for.
- Work It Out Wombats!: At the start of "Campout Confusion," Super is stuffing a bunch of things into the closet, but the closet bursts open.