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Handcuffed Briefcase

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Your important stuff is safe in that briefcase.note 

Max: Oh, miss, I seem to have lost something.
Stewardess: Well, if you describe it to me, maybe I can find it.
Max: Yes, well, it was a black attaché case, about, oh... [gestures with hands] so big. Morocco leather. Beautiful case. And let's see... Oh, yes! There was a man attached to it.
Get Smart, "Closely Watched Planes"

When whatever is in the briefcase is too important to lose, the briefcase will often be handcuffed to the courier. Whether it's a Briefcase Full of Money, jewels, or most often top secret documents, it adds a level of security to the package. However, there are ways around this.

Even if we don't ever see what exactly is in the briefcase, seeing it handcuffed to the courier immediately communicates that it is something of great value or something requiring great security.



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    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Diana Prince is keeping a briefcase meant to be full of sensitive documents handcuffed to her wrist when the intel comes through that a bomb has been planted in it. Diana uses the opportunity to fake Diana "Prince"'s death via explosion.

    Fan Works 
  • Cyberpunk: Another Daybreak: To David's alarm, the briefcase containing the Cyclone Riser handcuffs itself to his wrist and will only unlock with Isu's direct permission, forcing him to skip school and try to contact her to get it off. Woz instead bypasses the lock and allows David to use it to rescue Jose from Ark, setting David on the path to becoming a Kamen Rider.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Bad Guys: During the gang's second attempt to steal the Golden Dolphin trophy at the charity gala, the passcode to unlock the display holding the trophy is in a briefcase handcuffed to the Chief of Police. As the case can only be opened with her fingerprint, Mr. Snake is tasked with getting the Chief's fingerprint and retrieving the code while she's distracted.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Blues Brothers: As seen at the big concert, Elwood Blues carries his harmonica around in a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. Jake carries the key.
  • In the opening of Cloak and Dagger, we see an officer handcuffing a briefcase to himself before leaving the limousine. Agent Jack Flack is tasked to steal this briefcase, and prepared for this, with a gadget watch that cuts through the handcuffs.
  • Condorman: Comic book writer Woody's task is to courier one to a Soviet Femme Fatale Spy. When someone throws a knife at him, Woody instinctively covers his face, raising the briefcase on its chain to miraculously block the knife. This convinces the Soviet spy that Woody really is the elite secret agent he's pretending to be.
  • Cube 2: Hypercube: Colonel Maguire (apparently a high-ranking Pentagon liaison officer) wakes up in the eponymous hypercube with a briefcase of this type, except the cuffs are not attached to him and the case is empty, so it's just one more thing to add to the mystery. The cuffs however are a Chekhov's Gun which get used later.
  • Daylight: The man who transports the jewels that the robbers (that start the whole plot) take carries them like this. The robbers use a very big wire cutter for the job, and also steal the man's car as a getaway vehicle for good measure.
  • The Day of the Jackal: Viktor Wolenski, the OAS bag man who picks up the mail for the OAS heads while they're hiding out in Rome, has his briefcase chained to his wrist when making his pickups. The chief of the French Action Service points this out as an obstacle for the operatives sent to intercept Wolenski.
  • The characters end up having to take one of these from a couple armed guards in Eagle Eye. Although the contents are unknown at the time, it's revealed later that it's an injection of a experimental compound that slows the heart rate to the point where they just hibernate, instead of suffocate.
  • Escape from New York: After a terrorist takes control of Air Force One, the President handcuffs a briefcase to his wrist and enters the plane's Escape Pod. Later on it's revealed that the briefcase holds a tape which explains the secret of nuclear fusion.
  • Played with in For Your Eyes Only where the duty officer on a Spy Ship is handcuffed to a console used to send nuclear launch commands in the event of war. When the vessel is holed by a Sea Mine he drowns, unable to escape from the torrent of water flooding through the breech.
  • In the Chinese comedy Girls Vs Gangsters, the girls wake up naked on a beach with two of them handcuffed to a briefcase. They have no idea how this happened.
  • The Golden Child. After Chandler Jarrell gets the Ajanti Dagger back into the United States, it's kept in a briefcase chained to Chandler's wrist for safekeeping. One of the bad guys chops through the chain during a fight to steal the briefcase.
  • In Iron Man 2 Happy Hogan carries around the Mark V "briefcase armor" locked to his wrist like this.
  • Lucy: Lucy's boyfriend Richard tries to get her to deliver a briefcase full of drugs for him. When she is reluctant to do so, he handcuffs her wrist to the briefcase, forcing her to make the delivery.
  • In The Man Who Never Was, and the book, the dispatch case with the false documents intended to deceive the enemy is handcuffed to the courier's body to ensure they will be recovered when the body washes ashore, as part of an elaborate deception plan.
  • As part of the con in Ocean's Eleven, the briefcase that holds the "jewels" is handcuffed to one of the titular eleven, until it is turned over to Benedict. When the briefcase is taken down to the casino vault, it is placed on top of the cart carrying The Amazing Yen. When Yen opens the cart, the briefcase almost falls to the floor - which would trigger the alarm - but he manages to grab the handcuffs.
  • Ronin (1998) has a briefcase handcuffed to the wrist of a VIP the mercenaries are ordered to secure with a MacGuffin inside. The trope is brought up during a planning session when Sam gets increasing frustrated over the lack of information provided to them by Deirdre. The case is indeed handcuffed to someone's wrist, so they shoot him and break the chain with a tiny explosive charge.
    Sam: Is the case heavy? Is it explosive? Is it chained to some poor guy's wrist and we're going to have to cut it off?
  • In Snatch., an 84-karat diamond makes its way to London in a suitcase handcuffed to Franky Four Fingers. Once Boris hears that only Franky could open the case, he decides to chop off Franky's hand with the case still connected.
  • During the opening of Spies Like Us, the courier delivering the satellite images has the briefcase chained to his wrist, and the photos are secured to the inside of the briefcase. Since he's not particularly cleared for the discussion about the photos, he's shoved into a closet. With the chain sticking out the door.
  • Spy Kids: While exploring a laboratory full of spy gadgets, Juni finds an object that looks like a lunchbox which is presumably used to hold important materials. It has an attached chain and handcuff so it can be secured to a person's wrist.
  • Used Cars: Kurt Russell's character Rudy is in the process of buying his way into state government and gives a Corrupt Corporate Executive a bribe in a briefcase, which the executive handcuffs to himself while they're both sitting in a limo. When Rudy decides to renege on the deal and use the money for (slightly) more noble purposes he grabs the briefcase and slams the car door on the chain on his way out, breaking it.

  • According to Dave Barry, seeing someone get mugged on the New York City subway is an easy way to identify them as out-of-towners, since native New Yorkers have long since learned to keep their valuables attached with solid chains bolted directly to their skeletons.
  • The Bourne Series. A courier has a metal cord wrapped around his body, then out of a sleeve to the briefcase. When someone asks why this trope isn't used instead, they're told there have been "too many severed wrists."
  • In one of the Corps books by W.E.B. Griffin, General MacArthur remarks to a Brigadier Pickering that he's the only person he knows who just takes MAGICnote  dispatches out of his pocket instead of carrying them in a handcuffed briefcase. The Brigadier replies that he delegates the job of carrying around the handcuffed briefcase to the sergeant who acts as his bodyguard, who was left outside the General's office.
  • A Colder War. A US black ops team carries a briefcase holding five kilos of high-grade heroin from Afghanistan through a Portal Network to US territory in Antarctica. Even though they only left a couple of days before, the protagonist notices a ring of bruises where the chain is attached to his wrist and the courier is visibly older.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. opened with two dozen men in identical outfits wearing identical masks taking the same train, each with a briefcase handcuffed to one wrist. Then the lights go out for a moment, and when they go back on, one man - the one carrying the real briefcase full of diamonds rather than a decoy - has his hand practically cut off, and his briefcase was missing.
  • Arrow
    • In "Streets of Fire", a courier with a handcuffed briefcase is sent to deliver the antidote to the Super Serum to Team Arrow, but is intercepted by goons who just use their Super Strength to snap the chain after killing the courier.
    • In "The Return", a bioweapon is being transported in an aluminum case cuffed to China White's minion. When Oliver catches him...
      Oliver: You have a choice to make.
      Minion: What choice?
      Oliver: Whether or not to keep your hand.
  • On Atlanta, a drug deal hits a snag when Darius brings the money in this fashion and forgets the key to the cuffs. The seller tells him ominously that they have ways of getting the money anyway. (They just open the briefcase and take the money out.)
  • Bones: One Victim of the Week is a diamond merchant who was transporting diamonds in a briefcase handcuffed to his hand. His murderer cut the hand off in order to get the briefcase.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Mayor sends Faith to pick up the Box of Gavrok from the airport, which is handcuffed to the courier. Kill-crazy rogue Slayer that she is, Faith just shoots the courier with an arrow, then when they can't find the handcuff keys, she takes out the Cool Knife the Mayor recently gave her as a present. The mook with her smugly tells her that the knife won't cut through steel. Faith replies with a smile: "No, but it'll cut through bone."
  • In Season 2 of Daredevil (2015), the Punisher wipes out a meeting of The Irish Mob and the police wonder why one of the corpses is missing a wrist. It's a couple of episodes before we find out why, when we see Frank Castle in possession of a suitcase attached to a bloodstained handcuff chain.
  • Elementary: In "Rip Off", the Victim of the Week had his hand ripped off so the killer could steal a handcuffed briefcase containing conflict diamonds. The briefcase was then thrown into a dumpster unopened, which confuses the police.
  • Get Smart
    • In "Closely Watched Planes", Maxwell Smart manages to lose the courier he's escorting on an airliner in mid-flight. He duly gives a detailed description of a missing briefcase to the stewardess, concluding with, "oh yes, there was a man attached to it."
    • In "Aboard the Orient Express", Max protests against the Chief sending 99 on a dangerous assignment to deliver a briefcase. After hearing the Chief tell her how only the agent receiving the case has the key to open the handcuffs, Max ends up handcuffing the briefcase to his own wrist. Was this just Max making one of his usual ditzy mistakes, or was it, as 99 assumes, a deliberate ploy to protect her by making sure he would have to make the delivery instead of her? The "Hmmm..." look he gets in his eyes right before picking up the handcuffs suggests she may be right.
    • In "The Groovy Guru", a female Control agent hands Max her purse which contains information on the Villain of the Week, and insists on handcuffing it to his wrist because there are purse snatchers in the area. Turns out she's a Double Agent, the purse contains a bomb, and she steals the key while doing a Fake-Out Make-Out.
  • Gilligan's Island had an episode where a briefcase with a set of handcuffs attached washes up on the island. Gilligan winds up handcuffed to the briefcase (fortunately, the key was inside the case) and has a dream where he's a spy.
  • This trope leads to a murder in an Inspector Morse episode. The courier who's wearing the chained money satchel is a conspirator in the robbery, but unfortunately his partner-in-crime carelessly leaves the key elsewhere when changing jackets. As a result he's murdered so his hand can be cut off.
  • In the JAG episode "Salvation", Lt. Roberts is assigned to carry the president's "nuclear football," giving actor Patrick Labyorteaux an opportunity for some physical comedy in the men's room as he tries to wash his hands with one of them handcuffed to the briefcase.
  • Mission: Impossible
    • One late episode had Casey impersonating a courier so she could deliver a handcuffed briefcase from the leader of one gang to the leader of another, allowing the team to locate the second leader so they could take him down. After Casey is cuffed to the case, the rest of the team learns that the briefcase contains a bomb meant to assassinate the recipient of the briefcase, leaving the rest of the team scrambling to keep up with Casey so they can get it off her before it blows.
    • In the episode "Fool's Gold'', several guards are shown lined up to deliver foreign currency for exchange. Each guard carries the currency in a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist to make it more difficult to steal.
  • Night Court. In "Dan, the Walking Time Bomb", a man with a grudge against DA Dan Fielding handcuffs a briefcase full of dynamite to Fielding's arm, and orders him to walk around pretending everything is normal. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Person of Interest. In "Search and Destroy", Root steals a kevlar-protected (but not chained) briefcase from a courier. Later when the original owners come after her, she uses handcuffs to attach the case to her wrist, to leave her hands free for fighting.
  • In the episode "High Court Storm" of Tiger Cubs, a High Court guard is seen going inside a courtroom with a briefcase that's been handcuffed to the guard's wrist.
  • UFO (1970): In the episode "Identified", Colonel Straker has a briefcase containing evidence of the existence of U.F.O.s chained to his wrist (it also has Self-Destructing Security). When the car he's riding in is attacked by a U.F.O., he's thrown out of it and the chain is broken. The evidence burns up in the fiery wreck of the car.
  • In The West Wing, CJ's first day as the President's Chief of Staff includes a Bulgarian official who's been sent to sell the US a bunch of nuclear materials his country doesn't want anymore, and he has to awkwardly manage the metal briefcase of paperwork that's handcuffed to him. (Despite being a fairly realistic show about the Presidency, though, the nuclear football never makes an appearance.)


    Tabletop Games 
  • Shadowrun adventure Bottled Demon. The magician Topal owns The Guiding Hand talismonger/lore shop. One day an old friend of his, Simon Templeman, enters his shop with a briefcase chained to his wrist. The briefcase contains a idol filled with evil magical energy.

    Video Games 
  • In PAYDAY: The Heist, Matt the escape driver handcuffs a briefcase of loot to his arm after betraying and escaping the crew. He loses the key after crashing his van, and the crew chooses to fly him and the briefcase out together, as they have neither the time nor the equipment to remove it through other means on-site (though that doesn't stop Hoxton from suggesting one).
  • In Tales from the Borderlands, Vaughn handcuffs a briefcase containing ten million dollars to himself for safekeeping. This backfires when bandits steal the case and attempt to drive away with it, with Vaughn being dragged along - outside of the car.

    Web Comics 

    Web Video 
  • The Hire. This is the MacGuffin in "Ticker". In a subversion the suitcase contains not secrets, valuables or a Weapon of Mass Destruction, but a human heart to be transplanted into the country's president. When it looks like the Driver might refuse the mission after a helicopter gunship attacks them, the courier chains the case to the Driver's wrist instead. "Now drive!"

    Western Animation 
  • In the Archer episode "Diversity Hire", Conway Stern handcuffs himself to a briefcase containing plans for a secret submarine engine before grabbing onto a helicopter rappel line. Unfortunately for him, Lana then fires a harpoon bolt into the briefcase and pulls on it so hard that Stern's hand is yanked off below the wrist.
    • This was the plan in another episode, handcuffing a briefcase full of bearer bonds to an agent's wrist until they could be delivered. Unfortunately, the chosen agent was Archer, who simply unlocked it and put it on retainer at the casino where the meet was happening, reasoning it's just as safe.
  • Once when Bugs Bunny was a presenter at the Academy Awards, the envelope was delivered to him this way.
  • Danny Phantom: The Ultimate Enemy: Mr. Lancer keeps the answers to the C.A.T. in one of these. Danny accidentally picks them up when he phases through the briefcase thanks to an opponent's attack.
  • In the Futurama film Bender's Big Score, Professor Farnsworth's doomsday device, kept within a briefcase bag, is directly handcuffed to him in order to prevent it from being stolen. Bender later gets around this by sawing the Professor's hand off.
  • Muppet Babies: One of their Imagine Spots had Kermit as a secret agent trying to transport a briefcase like this, and the others being enemy agents trying to steal it in one of those mystery-on-the-train scenarios. Their attempts to steal it got pretty blatant, up to Gonzo trying to hide it under his hat while it was still cuffed to Kermit's wrist!

    Real Life 
  • The U.S. President's Nuclear Football is handcuffed to one of his military aides who is at his side when he is away from the White House.
  • The list of winners for the 2015 Golden Globes was brought by representatives of Ernst & Young, in briefcases, with rhinestone studded handcuffs.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken used to hide the secret recipe in a briefcase and handcuff it to the wrist of a hired guard when its headquarters underwent security upgrades to get a new vault installed.
  • During World War II the British dumped a body dressed in a British officer's uniform off the Spanish coast, with fake plans on where the Allies were going to invade next. A leather-covered chain (used by bank couriers at the time) was attached to a briefcase, though since the cover story was that 'Major Martin' had been on a long air trip when his plane crashed into the sea, the chain was looped through his belt instead of run down the sleeve. British military couriers did not use such chains, but it was the only way of ensuring the suitcase stayed with the body; the British made some effort into giving the impression that 'Major Martin' was kind of a disorganized scatterbrain through some of the details on his body in order to give a plausible explanation for the handcuff and chain.