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Girl in a Box

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Santa Claus is getting weird.

The heroes will occasionally discover a girl who, for whatever reason, has been placed in a box, usually in suspended animation (or failing that, a box with air holes). Most of the time, this is part of the introduction of a new major character. Sometimes she could simply come in a box in mint condition.

Notice the phrase itself in Japan means a rich/noble girl that is usually overprotected and knows little of the world and may even have little freedom. Compare with "a bird in a gilded cage". So Japanese works sometimes give this metaphor a more physical meaning. There's even a movie from 1935 with the exact name, Hakoirimusume (literally, "girl in a box").

Possibly related to People Jars, although usually more benign. If the girl is dead, it may be a case of Body in a Breadbox or Dead Man's Chest. See also Punk in the Trunk, Packed Hero and Human Mail. Often, as in the page image, she'll have been stored in the fetal position, possibly naked.


Usually the female counterpart of a Sealed Badass in a Can but they can overlap. Another neutral version of Sealed Evil in a Can or Sealed Good in a Can.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • Also, in a later episode, the Doll that the Yakuza acquires and tries to sell as a sex slave.
  • Season 2 has it happening to Yin.
  • Scary, scary version with Number 28 in Elfen Lied.
  • During a dream sequence in Eureka Seven, Anemone appears naked and in the fetal position in a refrigerator.
  • Hyatt, Ropponmatsu I, and Ropponmatsu II are introduced to ACROSS members this way in Excel Saga. This only applies to the anime, not the original manga.
  • The Frame Arms Girls turn up at Ao Gennai's doorstep in this fashion, courtesy of Kotobukiya drone delivery.
  • Hako-chan (literally "Box-chan"), from The Girl Who Leapt Through Space. Her appearance is still mostly unknown due to her not leaving the box yet, though we do learn that she has light skin. There was one point where she almost came out, but then Aleida convinced her that staying in the box was better because "being in the outside world is worse than being in the box". Admittedly, it does seem to be a pretty nice box: it has some sort of camera system allowing view outside, though not from outside in, and text can be displayed on the door of the box like it's a computer screen. Also, it apparently has some sort of hovering/movement device.
  • Lucille Lilliant from Gundam X was a Lady in a Capsule. For worse, she's been locked for 15 years inside of it, and the enemy now wants to get to her to use her considerable Psychic Powers. Poor Lucille is physically indefense, as her body is pretty much comatose, but her conscience finds a way around that.
  • Given a Gender Flip in Hetalia: Axis Powers, where Italy is found hiding in a tomato crate.
  • Hina from Hinamatsuri first arrives in Nitta's apartment wrapped in a small metal cocoon.
  • Mimi from I Dream of Mimi. Akira buys her in a box thinking she'll be a normal personal computer, but she turns out to be a gynoid.
  • Izetta: The Last Witch begins with the title character being transported in a steampunk suspended animation pod to New Berlin by the Germanian military. Unfortunately for them, she wakes up enough to recognize her beloved Princess Finé, a prisoner on the same aircraft. One magical outburst later, her pod has been blasted open, the plane rent in two and the Germanians are short two important assets.
  • Yui from Koharu Biyori, being a robot maid. The Opening Theme specifically mentions this.
  • Michiru from Kono Kanojo wa Fiction desu first appeared naked in a large bag instead of a box.
  • Ginga Nakajima in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS was stored in a metal suitcase to be transported to the Big Bad when she was defeated and captured.
  • Princess Snow from MÄR. In her first appearance, she's encased in ice, only to be freed (and accidentally kissed by) Ginta. This freaks him out since she looks, sounds and acts exactly like his childhood friend Koyuki. Oddly enough, the second time she needs to be rescued, she's inside of an ACTUAL box in a fetal position. A Rubix Cube-like deathtrap to be precise, which will kill her if not solved correctly and even if it's solved correctly will kill whoever solved it instead. Putting a bit of a dark spin on this trope.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico:
    • Izumi, presented as a parody. "Where else? In the box."
    • The dub version is funnier: "As Schrodinger would say, the answer is in the box."
      • Yurika becomes one of these too in The Movie.
  • From The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Kyon's little sister hid in his duffel bag so he would take her on vacation with him. Spoofed in The Abridging of Haruhi Suzumiya:
    Kyon: Why is my bag so... ohmygod, a loli in a bag!
    • Amusingly, a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs - Kyon immediately notices that his bag is a good 30 kilos heavier than it should be and catches her. In the anime, he brings her along anyway, whereas in the light novels he sends her back home.
  • Zia in The Mysterious Cities of Gold, in the "smuggled aboard a ship" variety.
  • Byakki/Shiro in Our Home's Fox Deity, who was delivered in a box.
  • Melfina from Outlaw Star, in what is probably the example that most casual anime watchers will think of when you mention this trope.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: Utena's coffin scene. And the scene in the final battle.
  • In the third season of Robotech (aka Genesis Climber MOSPEADA), Marlene (Aisha) is found in an alien egg.
  • Rozen Maiden, which works perfectly. Where do you store porcelain dolls when they're not on the shelf?.
  • Lime, Cherry, and Bloodberry from Saber Marionette J are all introduced this way. They're also robot girls with their slavish devotion to the male protagonist preinstalled, so they hit this trope pretty hard.
  • Sgt. Frog: Keroro first met Angol Mois after finding her inside a closet that landed on Keron.

    Comic Books 
  • Ms. Marvel once featured a plot arc where The Puppetmaster was collecting superheroines, mind-controlling them and then selling them. He had teams out catching the women, and they would be shipped to his South American headquarters inside wooden crates.
  • The first issue of Jack Kirby's O.M.A.C. has the title character learning to his horror that the girl he likes is actually an android, built as part of an evil conspiracy. He learns this by finding her disassembled in a box.
  • Junior in Secret Six, due to a severe aversion to being seen, runs a criminal empire from inside a wooden crate, and travels inside a burlap sack.
  • In Pikappa, an alternate continuity of Paperinik New Adventures, the android Lyla Lay is found deactivated in a box in an old factory. Luckily, the janitor who found her happens to be versed in super-science, and can "revive" her.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Diana has Serva transported to Holliday College in a trunk when Serva needs a place to hide from her twin Hypnota. Serva is especially suited towards this method of travel given her job as a magician's assistant, but opening the trunk definitely surprises the Holliday Girls.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • The Aristocats: At the end of the climax, Edgar is trapped in a box and sent to Timbuktu.
  • In Heavy Metal, the villain of the "Den" sequence does this to Den's girlfriend to get him to cooperate.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Meet Cute of Just You and Me, Kid, George Burns finds a naked Brooke Shields hiding in the trunk on his car.
  • Bloodsucking Freaks: In this low-budget gorefest, one of the villain's many bad habits is stuffing young, blond women into wooden boxes to be sold to men overseas.
  • Boxing Helena: Jennifer Lynch note  made a movie about a trauma surgeon who keeps his bitchy ex-girlfriend in a box... but only after he trimmed her to fit.
  • In Sweet Movie, Miss Canada gets stuffed in a suitcase and shipped to Paris from North America.
  • The mermaid in the glass case in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Male version: in George of the Jungle, George ships himself back to Africa in a giant UPS carton.
    George: Next time, George get bigger box.
  • Another male example; at the climax of The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond subdues Nick-Nack by shutting him up inside a suitcase. (A normal suitcase; Nick-Nack is a midget and small enough to fit.)
  • Ultraviolet (2006): Another male case, a young boy is kept in a suitcase (using space-warping technology).
  • In The Cell, Carl Stargher puts his female victims in a glass box and leaves them there to be retrieved later, after they are dead.
  • In Shuttle after the protagonist is sold into sex slavery, she's trapped in a box and loaded onto a ship so she can be sent to her new owners abroad.
  • Liz in Live Animals is found in a small box, having apparently been kept for some time as a "toy" by the antagonists.
  • Tri Couleurs Blanc: A male example is used for comic and dramatic effect simultaneously.
  • In The Transporter, this turns out to be what is being transported.
  • Bianca in Lars and the Real Girl quite literally comes in a box (although, despite the title, she's not a real girl).
  • In the film version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Gael is discovered in a supply barrel after stowing away aboard the Dawn Treader.
  • Django Unchained: The first time that Django's wife Broomhilda is seen outside of flashbacks and fantasy sequences, she's naked in the "hot box" as punishment for trying to run away from Candieland, however, the circumstances make it very much Fan Disservice.
  • Oblivion (2013): Julia Rusakova later Harper kicks things off when her escape capsule lands on Earth and Jack investigates.
  • Der Wixxer sees the Earl of Cockwood smuggling entire girl bands in suitably large wooden crates (at least judging by the one example revealed on screen).
  • In Clash of the Titans, which is based on the myth of Perseus, Princess Danae and her newborn son Perseus are shut into a box and thrown into the sea by Danae's dad Acrisios, who is angered that she has had a child despite him locking her away from men. Danae's lover and Perseus' father is the god Zeus, who instructs the sea god to ensure that Danae and her child are taken by the currents to a safe place, the island of Seriphos, where Perseus grows to adulthood.
  • Countess Dracula: When the bailiffs call, Ilona's jailer hides her by stuffing her inside a trunk.

  • The Girl in the Box: Jackie, the protagonist of the teen novel. In this case, the "box" in question is a cramped basement, where she's being held after being kidnapped for unknown reasons.
  • The Wheel of Time: Gender Inverted when Rand al'Thor is captured by Aes Sedai, forced into a trunk, and tortured on his way to the White Tower. He's rescued en route in a bloody battle, but the experience causes him lasting trauma and claustrophobia.
  • E. Veltistov wrote a series of books about the adventures of Electronic, a Ridiculously Human Robot in shape of a boy. The first book is titled "Electronic - a boy from the box"
  • Discworld: A scene late in Pyramids evokes the Cleopatra legend below.
  • Mr. Hook's Big Black Box: There's any number of people trying to open the titular Box, all with their own ideas what might be inside. But when they finally get a moment of quiet, our heroes finally hear a young girl begging to be let out. Her name is Hope, and she doesn't know why someone locked her in there.
  • Eva Luna: A bunch of girls who were about to be sold to a prostitution ring are kept in a locked crate with limited air inside. Their ship got stuck due to bureaucracy and the girls suffocate to death.
  • Across The Universe (Beth Revis): Amy and the other passengers from old Earth are frozen into compartments, resembling boxes. Well, Amy is until Elder unplugs her.
  • The Long Ships: Viking Toke smuggles a girl on a longship in a large chest.
  • Anathem: A small landing ship is pried open to reveal the corpse of a woman of an alien lineage, bearing an enigmatic clue. The avout rush to preserve her body for study.
  • The Thinking Machine: The solution to "The Problem of Dressing Room A" involves the missing actress having been hypnotized and then folded into one of the trunks of her room, so she was carried out with the rest of her luggage when the troupe moved cities.
  • Provenance has a non-binary version: Ingray arranges for a famous convict to be smuggled out of prison and is dismayed when the person is delivered as a Human Popsicle — the only available ship out of town won't transport human cargo without proof of prior consent, which raises some very awkward questions.

    Live Action TV 
  • Firefly, Trope Namer:
    • Early ads trying to drum up interest for the series used the tagline "What do [list of quirky character archetypes] and a girl in a box have in common?" However, Fox messed that one up; they aired the pilot, the only episode where she's actually in a box, last. The reveal was an obvious homage to the trope-codifying scene in Outlaw Star.
    • Saffron, though it was less of an introduction and more of 'getting her on the ship without the other characters noticing'. Or possibly keeping her away from everyone long enough for them to work up a plan on how to out-con her.
      • They get rid of her the same way, when Inara traps her in a dumpster.
    • A male variant, Tracey was introduced to the show in a coffin. Too bad the episode has Bookends.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise, Trip meets a cargo girl from the same planet as the Next Generation example above, only to find out she's a Well, Excuse Me, Princess!. (Naturally, they make out a lot eventually after the hilarity starts ensuing.)
  • The Man Show had a skit where a midget woman in her early twenties was carried around in a suitcase, as a portable stripper.
  • Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie was a Girl in a Bottle, but close enough.
  • In Pushing Daisies, Chuck is in a coffin when Ned revives her.
  • CSI:
    • One episode dealt with a body found in a desert where the death pose was in an unusual position; turns out the girl had been attempting to smuggle herself into the country in a suitcase and died in it.
    • Another episode dealt with deaths at a circus, including one man who could contort his body into many shapes who was found in an extremely small box.
    • Yet a third dealt with "claustrophila," a confined-space fetish: a female practitioner (played by a real-life contortionist) allowed herself to be folded up in a large packing crate and mailed cross-town. Because the UPS delivery man didn't "handle with care," she was knocked out, asphyxiated, and arrived DOA.
  • Chuck:
    • A male version when Bryce is found to be still alive... and in a box.
    • Used by the protagonists several times, as well. Notably, Chuck hiding from an assassin in a coffin being transported by air, Casey and Sarah smuggling themselves aboard a train in coffins and subsequently imprisoning the Big Bad in one, (temporarily) and Sarah stowing away aboard an airplane having squeezed herself into a duffle bag.
  • NCIS had a gruesome twist on this trope in one episode, where the killer was avenging the deaths of three girls in a box. A group of officers, when they learned they were being sent home, arranged to ship their Asian girlfriends back to the States in a locked crate in the storage hold. But when their orders were changed at the last minute, none of them ended up on the same ship with the girls, who starved to death. The killer was the fourth girl, the only one who survived.
  • The series five opening of iCarly includes Sam in a suitcase.
  • Blindspot opens with the main amnesiac character, named Jane Doe until her identity can be found, discovered naked in a duffle bag in the middle of Times Square. The CCT cameras for Times Square can see the duffle bag being dropped off, but not who did it.
  • Game of Thrones: A male example when Varys saves Tyrion from his impending execution and has him delivered out of the country by ship in a box. By the time the ship makes it to the destination, Tyrion is delirious from hunger and thirst and has soiled himself several times.
  • The Magician: In "The Vanishing Lady", kidnappers knock a singer unconscious and then stuff her into a trunk, and then casually wheeling the trunk out of the theatre.

  • In The Breaker, the protagonist finds a girl in the trunk of a car.
  • In Redrum327, Gahui was locked in a safe in the middle of a forest by the rest of the cast (minus Gihu) as a child and left to die. She's rescued six days later, after tearing her own fingernails off trying to escape and nearly freezing to death during the raining days.

  • Another possible Trope Namer candidate is the Blake Babies' song of the same name. It came out in 1990, long before Firefly.
  • Gorillaz
    • Noodle is mailed to in a FedEx box. Talk about your Noodle Incidents...
    • Male variation: 2D got shipped to Plastic Beach in a suitcase.
  • Male example with a macabre twist: Velvet Underground's "The Gift".
  • Slipknot's song Purity
    • The live version starts with "This song... Is about a girl in a box."

    Mythology & Religion 
  • From Greek Mythology, Princess Danae and her newborn son Perseus were shut into a box and thrown into the sea by Danae's dad Acrisios, who had been told that Danae's child would kill and overthrow him. With some help from Perseus's biological father, the god Zeus, they were eventually found by the fisherman Dictys in a beach and he took both of them in.
  • According to Jewish tradition, this happened to Sarah from The Bible, because her husband was afraid she'd be taken by the Egyptians on account of her beauty.
    • The (male) baby Moses escapes Pharoah's order to throw every male child in the Nile when his mother makes him a basket covered in water-repellent pitch before sending him down the river. He's also promptly found by the Pharoah's daughter and raised as her own child.
    • Zechariah the prophet sees a vision of a woman in a basket with a lead covering over the basket, being carried by two women with stork-like wings to a place in the land of Shinar. Given that she is mentioned as being the personification of Wickedness, she is also considered Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • Snow White isn't introduced this way, but Prince Charming finds her in a glass coffin at the end of the story.

    Video Games 
  • In Artificial Girl 2, the heroine awakens from a crate in the protagonist's room.
  • Azel from (Azel:) Panzer Dragoon Saga.
  • Sexy Parodius: Players who successfully complete mission 3 face a mission filled with girls in boxes.
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the Borginian singer Lamiroir hides in a contrabass case after being very nearly killed by someone who wants her silenced.
  • This is how the Dragonborn first meets Serana in the Dawnguard expansion of Skyrim.
  • Final Fantasy VII: A male example is Vincent Valentine. Granted, you're replacing "box" with "coffin", but still.
  • Pokémon Colosseum: The female character is first seen (er, heard) trapped in a Bag of Kidnapping she was stuffed in.
  • In To Heart 2: Another Days Silfa / HMX-17c makes her appearance being shipped in a box to Takaaki's house. She also uses the box as her hiding place.
  • One of the fighters in Cyberbots is a girl in a jar, who hijacked a robot to escape from the government facility where she was stored. She beats up everyone she comes across due to fear and extreme misunderstandings.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Ooccoo, the odd bird-like female, keeps getting herself stuck in crockery inside the various dungeons, and is only seen if Link finds and breaks the particular pot in which she's trapped.
  • Sera from Digital Devil Saga.
  • Gaia Online has the Sentinel, a demigoddess who accidentally cursed herself into a box to be tortured by demons for a thousand years... and was released by Gaians looking for rare items, crazier than ever. By the same token, we have her counterpart the Overseer, Boy in a Clam.
  • Octavia in Tears to Tiara is found inside a box, tied up and helpless. Arawn decides he has enough women hanging around annoying him about how they're his wife or just being ditzy elves, so he decides to seal her back in and pretend he never saw her. Sadly, Arthur catches him and you recruit her instead.
  • In Killer is Dead, this is how Juliet (the heroine from Lollipop Chainsaw) makes a cameo. In Episode 51, a DLC chapter, if the player breaks open a barrel on a ledge that's shaking, Juliet leaps out and jumps away to the sound made in her own game when she uses her Big Jump move.
  • The bad ending for Haunting Ground has the main heroine trapped in a box at the end.
  • Suzy in killer7. Granted, she's just a head...
  • Rief in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, a male example, is kidnapped, trapped in a crate, and abandoned near Harapa in order to force the heroes to rescue him instead of following their original mission to Morgal.
  • Fatal Frame 2 had a ghost woman in a kimono box. She hid in the box to escape the Repentence, but died there.
  • In one Warriors Orochi 3 side mission, Gracia gets trapped inside a box that is sealed shut by Zhang Jiao's magic, leading Sima Yi and Masamune Date to fight Jiao and his brothers in order to break the spell to free her.
  • The Dolls (save for Cammy, Juni, and Juli) are seen stashed inside capsules in Street Fighter IV's Juri OAV. This is because their Brain Washing process has damaged their bodies and minds almost beyond recognition, and their capsules either keep them frozen until they can be restored or are part of their medical treatment
  • In Suguri you meet the Final Boss Hime sealed in a glass chamber in the final stage. Shifu awakens her and blackmails her to fight you.
  • Sarah, the protagonist in the white chamber, awakens in a boxy coffin and is seen hiding in one on the page image.
  • In RuneScape quest "The Tourist Trap", you rescue a kidnapped girl from slavery by smuggling her away in a barrel. She's not happy about it.

    Visual Novels 
  • During the rescue operation in The Eden of Grisaia the Thanatos system's autonomous behavior is finally noticed by Ichigaya, who begin shutting out its systems. In response, it fights back as well as it can as well as sending JB to remove its core: Kazuki Kazami, who has been in a tube for years. When she gets out, she's so weak she can barely even stand, let alone walk, requiring JB to carry her out.
  • This is how Ibuki meets his first Cat Girl, Mikan, in Let's Meow Meow. She is curled up, naked, and sleeping in a cardboard box on the street which he happens to stumble upon on the way home. His response? "I was expecting to see a kitten. How disappointing." Let me remind you that this guy specifically wished on the Cat God to have his own catgirl and he has a catgirl fetish.
    • To be fair, he initially assumes that was a dream and she a crazy homeless girl in a cosplay outfit.
  • At the beginning of Nekopara, the protagonist receives two boxes containing his sister's catgirls. They sent themselves by mail to stay with him after he moved.

    Web Comics 
  • Elie in Gifts of Wandering Ice was found in a little cryo capsule as a baby.
  • Times Like This: Although not real girls, this is how Robot Girl Nicki and a human-like stunt dummy are shipped to France as part of a Joan of Arc rescue effort.
  • Allen the Alien has a rare male example; Allen is put in a box after an Alien Abduction.
  • Plush and Blood: Katt.
  • In the beginning of Not What I Was a scavenger finds an amnesiac feline girl in a medi-tube that fell off the back of a transport.
  • In one story arc of Full Frontal Nerdity, the guys are playing a crossover campaign of Dungeons & Dragons mixed with Pirates of the Caribbean. They are hired to deliver a mysterious, locked box and while en route to their destination find themselves being followed by ships from three different navies. Realizing they've been setup they decide to open the box and see what is so important. Frank says that inside is a little girl which prompts massive freakouts from the guys.
    Shawn: AAAGGH! A little Girl!
    Lewis: The stuff of every adventurer's worst nightmares!
    Nelson: I'll just work out the point spread on her being a demonic horror, a dragon, or a device for making us have an alignment violation every five minutes.

    Web Original 
  • In Pixiv community, this is denoted as "箱入り娘" note .
  • Ruby Quest begins with the protagonist Ruby (a bunnygirl) waking up in a box-like locker. It ends with the minor character Daisy (a dog-girl) waking up in a box-like locker.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of The Botsmaster, a few of hero Zid Zoolander's Ridiculously Human Robots note their creator's crush on villainess Lady Frenzy. So they kidnap her and present her unconscious body in a box to ZZ on his birthday.
  • Aelita of Code Lyoko: Jérémie finds his virtual Magical Girlfriend in suspended animation in Cyberspace.
  • In the DCAU, Superman first finds Supergirl as the last frozen survivor of her homeworld.
  • Lampshaded in one episode of The Simpsons where Marge is eavesdropping on a cellphone conversation between Moe and Carl. According to Moe, Groundskeeper Willie ordered a mail-order bride from some other country but refused to pay a shipping fee, resulting in the girl stuck in the crate at the post office. (We have to take Moe's word on this here, but weirder things have happened on this show...)
  • Star Wars Resistance: In "Signal from Sector Six", while investigating a derelict freighter that was attacked by pirates and has dangerous creatures roaming loose, Kaz and Poe find an unconscious woman inside a crate, and take her off the ship to safety. She's one of the pirates who attacked the ship, and hid inside the crate to escape the giant creature eating the other pirates.

    Real Life 
  • This is supposedly how Julius Caesar and Cleopatra met for the first time (she was hidden in a rolled-up carpet, rather than a box, though).
  • Hugo de Groot, a Dutch writer in the 17th century was imprisoned in castle Loevestein. Every month the guards would replace his bookcase, which consisted of a large wooden trunk. Guess how he escaped.
  • In the pre-Civil War United States, some slaves managed to escape bondage by mailing themselves northward. The most famous of these was Henry "Box" Brown (not to be confused with a different Henry Brown, inventor of the safe.)
  • Many refugees have tried to smuggle themselves in ship containers with various degrees of success.


Video Example(s):


Esteban finds Zia

Esteban discovers Zia bound and gagged a box aboard the Esperanza.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / GirlInABox

Media sources: