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Inexplicable Treasure Chests

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Well, that explains that dungeon's chests. Doesn't explain the cows, though.

"It was a watchtower for crying out loud. Thousands of years ago when this place was brand new it had nothing of value. Nobody has come along since then and added treasure for you."

Treasure chests containing items are almost ubiquitous in video games — pick almost any Action-Adventure game or RPG. Often they contain only a single item.

Their existence is generally shrouded in mystery. Who is responsible for putting them there? Somebody had to have done it at some point. ("The game designers" don't count.) Think about it. Treasure chests just don't materialize spontaneously—except in some games where they actually do appear out of thin air.

Furthermore, why are they almost always brightly colored, as if to stand out? Have you ever seen a bright red and gold treasure chest in real life? Or for that matter, have you ever seen one at all?

And why are they invariably brand new-looking without the slightest hint of wear, even if the temple or dungeon they are located in supposedly hasn't been visited for 10,000 years? Bonus points when they contain food or other perishables, modern currency or items that wouldn't have existed when the chest was made or equipment that exactly fits the party members' preferences no matter how improbable. In fact, if anything this implies that those chests were put there and stocked fairly recently, which means you're probably looting what amounts to somebody's supply cache or trust fund, however unconventional.

And perhaps most strangely, why doesn't anyone ever open them except you? This becomes especially perplexing when the chest is somewhere where people still regularly visit, even in buildings or locations still in use. This is sometimes subverted by having several of the chests in a dungeon be empty, perhaps indicating other adventurers have passed through — although there's usually no pattern to which are open and which aren't. Of course, there might be a reason after all...

Occasionally, this trope makes sense if you're raiding, say, the ruins of an abandoned castle — the chests are thus implied to be the wealth of whoever lived there. But the question still comes up of where the items in most other places, such as the Planet Heck, came from...

Probably the most ridiculous manifestation of this trope comes in instances where monsters drop chests. It isn't so ridiculous for bigger baddies who could just swallow whole convoys, boxes and all, but what about smaller creatures which could fit into the boxes themselves? note 

See also Crate Expectations. Contrast Empty Room Psych and Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat.

Chest Monster is a subtrope. Buried Treasure, aka Pirate Booty is a related sister trope.

For other things that probably shouldn't be there, see Blatant Item Placement.


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  • These show up in AdventureQuest occasionally, despite the fact that the game doesn't generally let you walk around and explore. They're treated as monsters and usually give you gold or potions. Lampshaded in one mission that all the monsters get their money from a Princess of Thieves of sorts. Some potions are given to you by NPCs as thanks for saving you or parts of quests.
  • In ANNO: Mutationem, there are numerous chests throughout each area containing stuff used for combat or materials for Item Crafting. They can be identified with the Grom System that marks them with a yellow marking. The larger variants that have more items require a key hidden in various locations.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a series of hidden treasure chests in each level. Some of the chests contain a set item, which can boost a character's stats and make the character even stronger. You need to use each character to uncover the chests.
  • Cave Story has some fun with this. At one point, you find a live dog inside a treasure chest. Its item screen description tells you that the dog really likes chests, and has gotten in the habit of sleeping in them. At another point, you have to collect jelly from flying jellyfish. You would expect that this would involve collecting the stuff off the body of the jellyfish, but instead, the defeated jellyfish drops a treasure chest containing the jelly in a jar.
  • Giraffe and Annika has chests that contain items like Meowsterpieces.
  • The 2003 video game of The Hobbit has treasure chests everywhere, including part way up trees in Mirkwood. They are colour-coded as wooden, blue, or gold. Unlocking them is a minigame involving timing with moving parts, where failure can lead to injury or poisoning.
  • Ultimately explained in The Immortal, when at the end Mordamir reveals he put the chests throughout the dungeon so that his student would survive to bring him his amulet. (Of course, many players don't survive that long.)
  • Inexistence Rebirth: You can find treasure chests in the game that will give you items like money and potions for opening them.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising explains that almost all the chests you find come from the "Treasurefish", flying fish creatures that travel everywhere delivering chests to random places. If you find one flying around, you can kill it to take its treasure right then and there.
  • Treasure chests are all over the place in La-Mulana. While some of these might make sense (since the ruins were inhabited, and the race of seventh children, the Four Sages in particular and your father are all trying to help you succeed), there's still an alarming amount of software scattered through the ruins, all compatible with your personal computer. And in the original version, this meant games for the MSX - a machine that was only popular for a short while, in one country, on the other side of the world.
  • The Legend of Zelda series. Many of these chests appear out of thin air when certain arbitrary requirements are met. In later games, the powers that be were even considerate enough to color and size-code the chests to match their contents.
    • The "modern currency" part is justified here, as Rupees have been in use for at least 1000 years before Hyrule was founded and haven't changed much since.
    • Weirdly, there are at least three chests per dungeon in which Link can find a map, a compass, and exactly the item needed to defeat the boss. And in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, several weapons were explicitly stated to be where they were because someone hid them there for a hero to find. How convenient.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
      • In the Temple of Time ruins, a large treasure chest is seen open and (worse yet) empty. That's because you find it in the past. It has a Piece of Heart inside.
      • Near the beginning of the game, Rusl leaves you a Wooden Sword. In a chest. Logically, this means that either he lugged a chest up a ladder and into your house, or the chest belongs to you in the first place, and he just put the sword inside and closed the lid.
    • Spirit Tracks has, in addition to the usual chests, touristy "stamp stations" scattered around the world for you to find. Most are in very illogical locations, such as a secret pirate hideout, an active volcano, or a temple full of homicidal skeletons and sandtraps. The ones in logical locations usually require incredible feats to reach them (riding birds by lassoing the big sticks they inexplicably carry, in more than one case). To add further confusion, Link's old-geezer roommate somehow knows exactly how many stamp stations there are, despite having never visited any of them... not even the one 50 feet from his house!
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild eschews the traditional Zelda formula of linear dungeons; thus, treasure chests can be found nearly everywhere in the open world with little to no explanation, such as being underwater, buried in the ground, etc. Some enemy camps also have chests that won't open unless you defeat all the monsters in that camp.
  • The Legends of Owlia: You can find plenty of treasure chests in the game. They look like little brown boxes with wings on the front. When Adlanniel opens them, their contents fall out, and Tyto collects them and brings them back to her.
  • In Lost Kingdoms, red treasure chests contain magical fairies and monster cards which can only be used by people with ultra-rare runestones like the player...
  • Luigi's Mansion, much like the Zelda series, has chests that appear out of nowhere when you vacuum up a boss ghost. They can contain normal chest-y items, like keys or money, but sometimes have bits of Mario's clothing; why some person and/or ghost decided to put Mario's shoe in a magically-appearing chest is anyone's guess.
  • Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas: Like the game that this series takes oh so many cues from, you can find plenty of treasure chests containing various miscellaneous items throughout the game.
  • Ōkami is full of these. While sometimes they almost make sense (like when they're buried or in the hold of the Ghost Ship), you really have to wonder how someone managed to haul them up Catcall Tower.
  • Prodigal has these in places like old mines, a graveyard, an icy cave, and an abandoned castle. Some chests will even drop out of nowhere after completing a puzzle, defeating all the enemies in a room, or beating a miniboss in one case. Interestingly, some areas have chests that were already opened (although one of them does still have something inside).
  • Skylanders: Imaginators gives you Imaginite chests with new character pieces at a constant pace. Some of them are hidden in caves or tucked away in the levels, which makes sense. It makes less sense when enemies you run into on the M.A.P. are "carrying" a chest larger than their actual bodies. As for the chests that appear when you achieve level goals, reach other progress milestones, or pick a lock correctly ... magic?
  • All the items you need in Ufouria are to be found in chests scattered everywhere.
  • Valkie 64: Like its inspiration, the game has treasure chests scattered throughout the levels, each containing different things.
  • The World of Mana games from Secret of Mana on feature chests that inexplicably spawn from defeated foes.
  • Monsters in Zombie Hunter tend to drop chests after death for some reason.

    Action Game 
  • In Attack of the Mutant Penguins, not only are there treasure chests lying around, but they have to be opened by dropping gremlins on them. Coins could be substituted for gremlins, if you could find them.
  • God of War. Even Hades had chests full of magic and health. Magic chests they can maybe get away with. But Health chests in the Land of the Dead?
  • This is largely justified in the case of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, where almost all of the item crates you find are either in enemy bases or are at least somewhere among enemies, however the item crates found during the final showdown with Jetstream Sam, which takes place essentially in the middle of nowhere, are hand waved during one of the codec calls as being from a helicopter that conveniently went down in the area sometime off-screen.
  • Made as blatant as possible in No More Heroes. The chests are orange and gold, there are exactly five during each boss mission, and they contain either trading cards or money. They are also half as tall as the protagonist. A separate type of box contains health/battery powerups. Plus, any that you miss on an initial run-through of the game are back, in the same place and with the same contents, when you do any additional run-throughs with a clear file saved. This is the only way to get 100% Completion, as the missions can only be done once per game.
  • The Tower of Druaga has a hidden treasure chest on every floor (except those that don't have one), and the most inexplicable thing about them is the Guide Dang It! methods needed to get them to appear.

    Fighting Game 
  • Them's Fightin' Herds has treasure chests in the overworld and Salt Mine sections. Color-coded wooden ones will contain salt, dynamite, or health while metal ones have a common-to-rare cosmetic.
  • Treasure chests will show up in certain modes in the Super Smash Bros. series. Though how you encounter them and which items you get vary depending on the game. In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, you can find trophies in Smash Run, custom parts, and equipment. While in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate World of Light has you open chests in the world map to obtain coins, spirit points, and spirits.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Subverted in some cases in the game BioShock, explained in others. There are instances where opponents will run to use health stations you also have access to including a boss fight against Dr. Steinman, and hacking a station will cause it to harm enemies who try to use it. In addition, the random gear laying around is usually explained as having been left there when the previous residents were killed or mutated beyond being able to use them or is bought from automated shops
  • Averted in BioShock Infinite, where every chest has some kind of plot behind it with an accompanying Voxophone. Usually the chests contain 'evidence' confiscated by the police force who misplaced the keys later, or secret supplies hidden by the Vox Populi for later use.
  • Borderlands is riddled with inexplicable lockers, inexplicable safes, inexplicable gun racks, and inexplicable toilets, all full of treasure for you to take. Due to the fact that nearly all loot is randomized, this leads to unusual situations like finding weapons that are far more powerful than the ones nearby mooks are using. Or there are upgrades that mooks can't use or should be using (like buffs an advanced turret found when dealing with simple bandits or item that regenerates ammo). Or there are weapons that don't make sense being there, like sniper rifles in tight-winding caves or shotguns on sniper perches.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 has one map with lockers containing infinite amounts of either Pipe bombs, Molotovs, Pills, or Adrenaline. Pills might have some sort of explanation behind it, but certainly not the bombs and Molotovs. And if the contents aren't weird enough, these lockers can spawn in office complexes, historical underground tours, incomplete buildings, bars, and strangest of all, a wedding.
  • Serious Sam II has got treasure chest items that yield points.
  • In S.T.A.L.K.E.R., the stashes are metal boxes, backpacks, or even small spaces like pieces of large pipe, all with various supplies, weapons, and ammunition, either dropped by people when they were killed or hidden by those who wanted to come back later to retrieve them. Many of these are in dangerous locations no one would dare approach without reason, which justifies their status as secret stashes. Bizarrely enough, however, in the first two games, almost all of these caches are completely empty until you acquire PDA entries detailing their locations by searching particular corpses or buying the info off other stalkers. Call of Pripyat rectifies that: you don't need to get the info (which can't be collected off dead stalkers' PDA's either) to get the loot in the stash, you just have to know where it is and if you can't/won't look at a guide, good luck to you.

    Adventure Game 

    Beat 'em up 
  • Dragon's Crown has these all over the stages, whether the stage is an in-use fort, or in the middle of the woods. The chests are always locked and require the NPC thief to open them (and his lock-picking can be interrupted if he's attacked). Enemy thieves occasionally appear to try and snag the loot first. The game also contains a spell that simply summons a high-level chest as if from nowhere.
  • Dynamite Dux has these littered throughout the stages. They give points when touched.
  • In Spinmaster, treasure chests are everywhere on the ground. They often even fall from the sky or are carried by flying creatures. Some of the chests are flying on their own.

    Hack And Slash 
  • In Diablo II, many treasure chests are found in the open air, in the wilderness. Most are not locked, and those that are are opened by one universal flavor of Interchangeable Antimatter Keys.
    • Even in hell. To be fair, the chests there are skeletal cages, corpses and trapped souls. Although most of them are called "Hidden Stash" or similar, which is really weird since they usually stand in the wide open and consist of neatly tiled skeletons and a flickering flame.
    • The game also had various stashes under rocks and things that functioned identically to chests. Sometimes subverted with the chests/stashes being empty or already opened - but not too often. Occasionally, a fireball comes out.
  • In Drakengard, there are chests sitting in the midst of barren, empty fields. What's even more bizarre is once you pilfer the chests, they sink through the ground into parts unknown. Blinking out would have been acceptable, but in a game already full of unsettling moments, what's one more Mind Screw for the player?
  • Minecraft Dungeons: There are lots of randomly generated chests full of loot, oftentimes found just lying around in the middle of nowhere.

  • Atlantica Online usually links the chests to quests or a treasure map.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online: Chests are the standard reward system, almost guaranteed to be found at the end of a dungeon and often after defeating a mini-boss. Sometimes mini-boss chests might contain only a key or other item necessary to progress. Sometimes the chests mysteriously appear only after defeating a boss. Parodied in one quest where a chest appears after solving a puzzle and freeing a captive (which happens to be a mindflayer), and he asks: "Aren't you even going to ask where I was keeping that?"
  • EverQuest II LIVES on this trope. Weapons, armor, and treasure in general don't drop off monsters. Oh no. They're found inside one of the four qualities of treasure chests that the monsters inexplicably carry around on them. This often overlaps with Impossible Item Drop, since you might kill a three-inch-tall fire beetle and it'll drop a Master treasure chest half the size of a bank vault.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy XI was a bit closer to justifying this trope than most FFs with the treasure chests and coffers, as they either appeared in dungeons, as most were populated by enemy beastmen (although how you keep finding chests and coffers in ruins abandoned for eons still doesn't make sense), and any other chests are found in special fights said to be sealed treasures with monsters in them(the chests in Limbus, however, are never explained, and were also the first kind to not be just brown or grey). Now, however, all monsters in the outside areas before Chains of Promathia have a 10% chance of dropping a chest of some sort. While the items help leveling, it's never been explained where all of them came from, especially considering some of the monsters that reveal a chest can't even carry one. How can a bee carry a giant, square box?
    • Final Fantasy XIV usually keeps treasure chests and coffers regulated within dungeons only; some of the dungeons are either abandoned structures or places that fell out of use for generations, which would make sense to have treasure boxes being left behind as the remains of what once inhabited the area. Patch 2.1 introduced treasure chests that can be dug out of the ground at any point around the world, but attempting to open them releases monsters and only by defeating them can you get the goodies inside. The chest will also disappear after 5 minutes for some reason.
  • Gaia Online features multiple varieties. On the main site, and all of the flash games except for zOMG!, you may occasionally run into a "Flying Magical Giftbox" or "Enchanted Chest", which must be caught by clicking on it, and grants you a random rare piece of clothing or furniture, depending on the color of the container being opened. In zOMG!, inexplicable treasure chests (and crates, and baskets, and on one occasion a safe) are placed around the map. Opening them can grant a large number of regular drops, or (if your level is too high) nothing at all. Judging by their appearance, these chests appear to be Animated, and it is implied the safe was placed at its location by NeXuS Corp, but since you never see any of the chests move, there's no explanation as to what the hell they're doing there.
    • It should be noted that if you do see a flying giftbox in zOMG, you are best advised to run for your life!
    • Of course, given all of the other stuff Gaia's gone through, the chests are usually the least unusual things to think about.
  • Guild Wars gets fairly ridiculous about this. Each region has its own kind of chest, with a unique key that must be purchased in nearby towns, and with unique kinds of loot. They can be found literally anywhere. While it's rather implausible in places like the frozen seas and forests of Cantha, it's downright ridiculous in the various Hell analogues.
  • Averted and parodied in Kingdom of Loathing. The cargo hold of the Penultimate Fantasy Airship is packed wall to wall with Penultimate Fantasy treasure chests. "Man, these guys must be really obsessive about collecting treasure. It's like they're trying to get 100% of the treasure in the world, or something."
    • And completely inverted with the Sunken Chest - it can't be opened, under any circumstances. Instead, it's used as part of the recipe for a familiar.
  • Particularly odd in the MMO La Tale, since treasure chests can spawn almost anywhere on a given map. Where do they keep appearing from?
  • In the Might and Magic games, you can even find them in populated towns. They're almost always booby-trapped however, requiring a party member with the Disarm skill to open them. (The dwarves who live in Stone City in VII have a sick sense of humor; the place is full of heavily-trapped chests, and most of them are empty.)
  • Averted in RuneScape. There are many, many chests in the world that contain nothing interesting...and thus no tangible items of any kind for the player to claim. Effectively, they are nothing but scenery. Despite this, they still typically have a 'search' option. Most treasure chests that do contain valuables are locked and either must be unlocked with a key or be picked, and most but not all of these chests are located in places where it would make sense to find them like in tombs or in people's houses.
  • World of Warcraft does this. Most players get used to the idea to the point where they don't even notice this trope. Sometimes they may have Fridge Logic moments about it if it contains, say, cheese, but even then, most don't really realize it. The only time it really calls attention is if two stacks of the same item are in the same chest. Seeing a stack of three apples followed by a separate stack of 2 apples listed as a separate item can really break the suspension of disbelief and make one begin to question the nature of the world... of warcraft.
    • As of Cataclysm, these chests have become more rare, and now spawn even in the previously chest-free continent of Northrend. Every chest contains cash and a single item of superior (blue)quality, as well as more experience points than even a quest of the appropriate level.
    • Notice that most of these chests are guarded by mobs. That at least suggests that the chests aren't just scattered about and are in fact still being used by the enemies for storage. In fact, if a high-level player-character is standing next to some hostile low-level monsters — a player much much higher level than a monster can get within a few feet of it without being attacked — and opens a chest, the monsters instantly attack him (as ineffectual as such an attack might be with such a level-difference).
    • Rogues can pickpocket humanoid enemies to obtain lock boxes. Whilst there is no description of how large they are, it can be a little difficult to imagine that you could relieve an enemy of a box large enough to hold a breastplate or a BFS without them noticing. Even worse, sometimes the lock boxes will contain lock boxes, which in turn may contain more lock boxes...
    • While the average boss has its treasure on its corpse, some bosses (usually more monstrous ones, or ones that aren't bosses in the traditional sense, such as an airship battle) will instead have its treasure stored in a chest. Sometimes this is justified as a cache of treasures kept within whatever stronghold the players are assaulting (that is associated with the boss purely for gameplay purposes), but other times the cache will materialize out of nowhere, or otherwise still be in a strange place for whatever explanation is given for it.

    Point and Click 
  • Darby The Dragon has these scattered across Dragondale, uniquely with each one in a different color. You conveniently get a skeleton key for all of them at the beginning of the game. However, it turns out that each one contains nothing more than one huge gold coin.
  • One of the sacred treasures you have to find in the first King's Quest game is a chest that magically fills itself with a limitless supply of gold coins. Sure, it's not like inflation is involved or anything.

    Platform Game 
  • Afterimage: Treasure chests are well-scattered in different points of the biomes, particularly in platforms or ledges where you need some traversing or movement upgrades.
  • The worlds of Flink are practically littered with treasure chests, which are also useful for throwing at enemies.
  • The Arcade Game Magical Cat Adventure has treasure chests with wings.
  • Atlantis no Nazo abounds with treasure chests, which contain nothing but points.
  • Mighty Bomb Jack has treasure chests everywhere, containing bags of points, powerups and secret collectibles. Some of them can't be opened at lower power levels and may block Jack's way, but at higher power levels chests can also be opened by walking through their sides.
  • Both the NES and Wii versions of A Boy and His Blob have treasure chests all over the place. One might wonder who left them there.
  • Castle in the Darkness has orange treasure chests.
  • Common in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. Most of them respawn.
  • Clunky Hero: There are treasure chests strewn throughout the world of the game. They need to be struck multiple times before they open up.
  • Crystal Caves has treasure chests scattered around as well; a key allows you to open all chests found on the same level for score.
  • Downplayed in Curse Crackers: For Whom The Belle Toils, where the only chests in the game are either ones where you're required to find an item for Claire, or the ones that won't unlock until you've completed the target challenge in the same room. The latter is justified, as it's explained that the target rooms and chests are there for Knight training; however, there is no explanation for why there are training areas in places where the Knights wouldn't go to like the moon, a meteor, or inside an enchanted book. Claire also lampshades this trope when you bring the first item to her, saying that she hopes you didn't find it in some random chest.
  • Treasure chests, with some oversized ones, are present in both DuckTales games.
  • In Fez, treasure chests can often be found out in the open and usually contain a single-use key.
  • Fox N Forests has purple and gold treasure chests.
  • In Ghosts 'n Goblins, treasure chests just seem to materialize when approaching them.
  • Ghoulboy has big red-and-yellow treasure chests for Thulgar to open.
  • Goblin Sword has big red treasure chests with yellow lining.
  • Jak and Daxter had actual treasure chests all over the world from the tropical islands to the frozen mountains.
  • Kirby games feature treasure chests lying around, starting from Kirby Super Star. They can contain various items depending on the game, ranging from star coins to Plot Coupon items.
  • Legend of Kay features not only your standard treasure chest waiting in a corner but also treasure chests materializing out of thin air as soon as the area is cleared of enemies.
  • Mega Man:
    • While not treasure chests per se, the enormous pods which contain X's various upgrades in the Mega Man X games are found littered all over the various Maverick's hideouts...placed there a century ago by X's long-dead creator, and left respectfully undisturbed by the Reploid criminals that now inhabit the area. By the time of X8, there have been well over fifty of these capsules. Dr. Light was apparently a very busy man in his last days. X6 hangs a lampshade on it, at least - the first capsule you find has Dr. Light bemoaning how much trouble the future is in if you had to open this set.
    • Ever so slightly (and vaguely) Hand Waved by the ending of X5 where it's implied that the holographic Dr. Light is slightly more sentient and mobile than implied by his capsule appearances. Of course, nothing is ever made of this almost-revelation again.
    • One (five if you count one of the Gaiden Games) out of those 50+ capsules is outfitted for Zero, a robot that Dr. Light should have no knowledge of. The one is in X5, however, where the hologram speaks in the present tense and namedrops specific characters who didn't exist yet when Dr. Light was alive, implying that the program is operating currently and not a recording. Also the one for Zero admits that Dr. Light isn't familiar enough with his design to give him an armor like X, so all he can do is give him an upgrade to his defense and attack power.
    • And finally, Mega Man Zero had conveniently-hidden boxes containing cyber-elves and Secret Disks.
  • In Moon Crystal, it seems that careless people have left their treasure chests on top of tree branches, roofs, and even ship masts and so on.
  • The monitors in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Never mind how they got there, what powers them? (Moreover, why is Robotnik so sporting that he'll have a bunch of them inside his bases?)
    • The British version of Sonic continuity created an explanation for this: the monitors were actually originally computer terminals for a worldwide internet set up by Dr Kintobor as part of his Retro Orbital Chaos Compressor machine designed to rid the world of evil and store it in the Chaos Emeralds. When the ROCC went wrong and exploded, turning Kintobor into his Evil Counterpart Robotnik, the overload resulted in the monitors all shorting out and leaving them with random 'power-ups' inside (as well as scattering the rings that had made up the ROCC all over Mobius).
    • Docfuture's Let's Play of Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Special Edition offers an even stranger explanation. In short, they're alive. Poor, poor Failure Cresh.
  • Treasure chests are frequently encountered in Völgarr the Viking. What the chests contain depends on the equipment Volgarr is wearing.
  • Wallachia: Reign of Dracula has treasure chests. They require keys to open.
  • Wizards & Warriors has treasure chests all over the place.

    Rhythm Game 
  • Patapon 3 has treasure chests scattered all over levels. At one point, one of the large enemies even throws one at the player's army.

  • Away: Journey to the Unexpected: Since the game is a Roguelike, you can expect to find plenty of treasure chests containing things like triangles, fireworks, or hearts.
  • The Binding of Isaac has chests scattered throughout the basement and for some reason, they're even in the womb.
  • Dungeons of Dredmor has chests you can either lockpick or smash apart. Smashing the chest has a chance of destroying the item inside as well (as signified by the message "You smashed it up good!"), but lockpicks also have a chance of breaking upon use, causing you to sometimes use 2 or even 3 lockpicks on a single chest. Fortunately, lockpicks are fairly plentiful.
  • Loop Hero actually explains where the chests come from, but the answer only raises more questions. Battlefield tiles placed next to the looping path will spawn a chest at the beginning of each loop. How and why the chests spawn other than "because there's a battlefield nearby" isn't delved into.
  • In NetHack, chests spawn randomly in the middle of rooms. Many chests are locked. If you don't have anything normally used for opening locks like a credit card or a wand of opening then you can try to force the lock by prying open the lid with a bladed weapon, but this has the danger of destroying your weapon. If you don't want to risk your bladed weapon (or don't have one) then you can try kicking the chest until the lock breaks, but this runs the risk of shattering any potions contained in the chest. Alternatively, you can use a blunt weapon to try and bash the lock apart, though there's a chance you'll go overboard and smash the chest apart completely, along with some of the contents. Chests are sometimes booby-trapped as well, blasting you with various unpleasant magic and possibly destroying some of your current inventory. And after all that, the chest in question can turn out to have been empty all along. Since monsters can't use containers, you use chests for safely storing items you don't want to carry around but you also don't want to get into the hands of any monsters. Although Gelatinous Cubes can and will devour chests and all their contents, so true security requires a little extra effort.
  • In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games (from Explorers onwards), Pokemon will occasionally drop treasure chests in dungeons (and Gates to Infinity had a whole minigame about them). Each game has an NPC to open them for you, but none of them offer any explanation as to who is making the chests and putting treasure in them, why they're doing so, and why the chests are found in dungeons.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • At the beginning of Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, the blimp with the main hero crash lands in the wilderness quite a walk from the nearest town. You step just a dozen steps aside from the crash site and what do you see? A frigging huge treasure chest! And its contents change depending on the PC's race! And in most cases, they don't match! (i.g. you'll get a bulking set of enchanted armor if you play as a flimsy elf.)
  • Taken to absurd lengths in free-to-play in-browser RPG Arcuz. Because the game can only handle items occurring inside chests, enemies "drop" items in chests that fall out of the sky when they are killed. This could be excused as metaphorical shorthand—looking in a chest as visual representation for looting the body—except that not all enemies drop chests, and when they do the chests are empty 50% of the time.
  • Arkandian Legends: Almost every single dungeon has several treasure chests, with brown ones containing normal items, red ones containing artifacts, and black ones being the quest target. Also, every enemy spawns a treasure from the sky upon being defeated which contains gold and some items.
  • Blue Dragon has special "Ancient" treasure chests (grey metal with a jewel on top) that sometimes only appear when a certain enemy is defeated, but there are still dozens of plain wooden chests littered everywhere in the world. And no one has ever tried to open them.
  • Lampshaded in Chain of Oblivion upon opening one of several chests in the starting town.
    Reinhardt: You ever wonder who puts these here?
    Siegmund: Don't know. I wouldn't put it past the Crazy Guy, though.
  • Chest: If a dungeon has chests, all of them will be the same color, which can make it difficult to distinguish between real treasure chests and people who transformed into chests.
  • Chrono Trigger had vaguely-explained chests in forest, cave, mountain, and other types of dungeon areas. There were also the super "Sealed by a mysterious force..." chests, which existed in multiple timezones - careful use of Applied Phlebotinum in the past would make better stuff appear in the chest in the future. And once you've grabbed the future loot, of course, you can safely go back and get the past loot too; grabbing the past loot first would make the chest disappear in the future, logically enough. One Ultimate Weapon (Marle's) had to be obtained this way.
    • The mysterious force chests are at least partially explained (they're the items left behind by an ancient civilization when their world went all Atlantis on them), and it's legitimately explained why you're the only one who can open them. One or two are even referred to as heirlooms by the families that keep them, and for the others, well, the entire world was flooded and all sorts of other things happened, so it's not so odd that they could end up everywhere. This doesn't explain why nobody cares when you open up their ancient heirlooms and keep the contents, though...
      • There is one case where the "nobody cares" aspect is explained - in one house, the man standing by the chest tells you, "This chest has been in the family for generations, but we can't open it. If you can open it, it's yours."
  • The Dark Cloud series. In the sequel, a clown might pop out to offer you a choice between two surprise treasures.
    • Ignoring the chests in dungeons, there are also Inexplicable Treasure Chests that appear in Georamas and other non-adventure areas. This is Hand Waved in the first game which explains that Seda has been putting them there to help you, but the second game doesn't even bother explaining the Miracle Chests AT ALL.
  • Dark Souls has wood and iron chests just chilling out in random spots in the world. Some make more sense than others and a few are mimics. Particularly curious is how chests with sets of armor inside are used to imply their owner was killed there.
  • Starting with part 2, the Disgaea series has treasure chests on specific story maps as well as random ones. In addition, killing enemies can create chests. Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories also slightly averts the trope in that enemies will attack chests with just as much, if not more, priority to attacking your party.
  • Dragon Quest series.
    • Dragon Quest:
      • The original game did subvert the last part a bit, as some of the chests you encountered were empty.
      • Most of the stuff in chests was worthless anyway, except for the occasional plot coupon. Everything worth having was either bought or found in arbitrary locations.
      • Hanging a lampshade on the subject, near a group of chests within the (good guys') castle, a guard tells the player, "Never does a brave man steal." It's doubtful how many players this stopped — there's no penalty for doing it anyway — but it made a few have to think about it firstnote .
    • Also lampshaded in Dragon Quest VIII; in the first town, there's a book in the "intro to newbies" part of the inn that mentions the abundance of chests lying around. It brings up the question of who put them there and why, then answers itself with "Who cares? Consider it a gift from the Goddess!"
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, as a way of keeping save file sizes down, takes this to a whole new level with regenerating chests, treasure boxes that actually refill themselves after a few days.
    • However, apart from that the chests are not that inexplicable. For a start, there's several different forms, so the chest in a dusty dungeon is not the same as the chest in a nobleman's palace, and neither are the same as in a lost elven city—unless, say, bandits decided to move in and bring their own sacks and chests. Also, some are empty, some are smashed apart, and others contain fairly useless items. Finally, the types of objects in each chest (or barrel, or coffin, etc.) are different depending on where they are - you'd find food in the marketplace, but not in a dungeon, and clothes in a chest of drawers but weapons in the chest, and so on and so forth.
    • Oblivion has an entirely different kind of inexplicable chest: the kind with a supposedly expensive and extremely difficult-to-pick 5-pin lock, which ends up containing twelve gold, a cheap set of scales, and a leek. Maybe the ancient elves just had really strange ideas of value.
    • Some of the places you loot have been explicitly looted by others in the past, who tell you that you might want to check for what any "new inhabitants" may have brought with them. It makes sense since a cave you've raided will gain new items when it gains new inhabitants — though they may be only imps and giant rats.
  • Averted in The Enchanted Cave. There are treasure chests, but they were put there by the Big Bad to lure adventurers.
  • Eternal Sonata has treasure chests that almost always contain character-specific weapons. As if they knew the party would be coming along...
  • Averted in Evil Islands. The few treasure chests that you find usually have some kind of background that you can check by accessing the quest menu.
  • The Fable games have two varieties of inexplicable treasure chests. One is the standard type, while the other requires silver keys that are collected around the game world. These keys can only be picked up by the hero, apparently, and their effects on NPCs are not explained or explored. There must be some reason nobody else has picked them up. But anyway: the presence of these treasure chests provides an interesting karmic conundrum. In these games, a player can go into a random person's house and steal items from their bookshelves and drawers. Doing so will register as a crime, with constables being alerted and naughty points being allotted. However, the player can open a treasure chest in the same person's house, take whatever it contains, and incur no penalty whatsoever.
  • Fantasy Life, has some both in the overworld and dungeons. Some respawn after the area is left and some of the ones that only work once are made visible via pressing A if a question mark suddenly appears while you're walking around.
  • The Final Fantasy series.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, there is a specific dungeon where most of the chests are empty, a clue that someone else has been through here recently. At the end of this dungeon, you actually meet the unknown looter, who turns out to be Locke, the Treasure Hunter of your former party, who got split up after the semi-End Of The World As We Know It. After having him rejoin the party, he gives you the treasures he got.
      • More generally, certain chests contain marginally better loot when you return later in the game if you resist the temptation to crack them open at first sight. Which has its own set of problems - it takes much convolution to concoct an explanation that doesn't involve the treasure "evolving" or something. They might be Schrodinger's Chests - their contents are not decided until the chest in question is opened.
    • Subtly averted in Final Fantasy VII, where there are treasure chests (or rather, boxes), but only in populated areas or places that had some kind of human (or Ancient) presence in the past. In locations that have never been settled, stuff is just lying on the ground.
    • Final Fantasy VIII was considered bold and unusual for not having treasure chests lying around everywhere. They just had Draw Points instead.
      • There are a few in D-District Prison (Zell even lampshades it by saying "Hey, there's a box!"), and the odd couple of random items lying on the ground here and there. They are noticeably scarce if you're more used to VII and IX-types though.
    • Final Fantasy X does one better: The underwater section of the Via Purifico has a blue treasure chest that's a merchant. More specifically, interacting with it brings up the shopping buy/sell interface.
    • Final Fantasy XII has treasure urns, which are A) randomly not there, B) Regenerate when you leave the area, C) Have random loot, particular to each chest, D) change their content if one of the party members has a specific accessory equipped and E) somehow connected, as opening any one of four seemingly arbitrary chests (including one right at the beginning) will make a later one (containing the Infinity +1 Sword) to not be there later on.
    • Lampshaded in Final Fantasy Tactics A2, when Luso finds an empty chest in an area that they believe never to have been seen by humans, and he complains about not being able to trust a world where there wouldn't be treasure in such a box.
    • Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings attempted to justify this trope. When questioned about the inexplicable treasures chests on the flying continent, Llyud explains that his people deliberately place treasures in ornate chests all over the continent as offerings to the gods; and that therefore you can loot them with impunity, as the gods want their treasures used to help fight for good.
    • Subverted in Final Fantasy XIII. The high-tech chests and network shopping terminals scattered along the main characters' path seem inexplicably convenient at first, but eventually it becomes clear that the main villain arranged for their placement in order to help steer the characters into accomplishing the objective the villains want them to accomplish.
    • Two types in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest: SaGa-style brown boxes which hold restoratives (and said items respawn!), and the more traditional RPG treasure chest which holds actual equipment and magic books.
    • In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years you often pass through the same dungeon with a different character, sometimes with only hours or days between the different passes. The chests will have been refilled and the monsters altered to match the challenge for the new character. The Underground Waterway gets raided by Cecil in the original FF4, Palom and Porom in a flashback, Edward seventeen years later in his chapter, and just a few days or maybe hours later by Ceodore and the hooded man in Kain's chapter. Likewise the Lodestone Cavern is looted by Cecil in FF4, Palom seventeen years later, and Edge in the final chapter. And finally, Mount Ordeals gets raided by Kain, Porom and Tsukinowa, the last as he follows and spies on Porom! And that's not counting the Bonus Dungeon of every chapter, which you are explicitly told you need to loot several times to get everything.
  • The second Golden Sun features a dungeon where the first room contains about a dozen chests, which are revealed to be empty upon inspection. It had been visited by pirates, who took all the available goodies (that don't require Psynergy to reach).
    • In addition, the first dungeon (which served as the last dungeon in the first Golden Sun) has a chest that used to contain a high-level item. When you open it, it says there's still an Herb (minor healing item) inside. Why the previous party would have left this in a chest, however, is left to the player's imagination...
      • In the first game, by the time you would've gotten to that point, Herbs were useless.
  • The Granstream Saga is slightly better about this—there are still plenty of chests (including in a poisonous-gas-filled volcano), but the items in them are often rusty weapons or broken armor, so at least there's an excuse for other people not emptying them and their not being inexplicable well-maintained. (And fortunately, you happen to have a magic armlet that can restore broken items!) The trope goes as usual for the chests with healing herbs or fruits in them, of course.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series. In the first game, many of these chests contain dalmatian puppies. Fortunately, the developers were smart enough to avoid a particular bit of Fridge Horror: None of the chests in the underwater world of Atlantica contain the puppies.
    • Also in the first game, some chests can't be opened until you learn that the keyblade can open locks, which isn't that far in. In 358/2 Days you visit the same locations many times for different things yet the locations of treasure chests and their contents is different for each Mission. Also other members of Organization XIII will ask you to find so many during that set of days for a reward. Did they place them there for you to find?
  • The Legend of Dragoon mostly plays this straight, however an early dungeon has all chests, save those in the final chamber, be filled not with items, but insults aimed at Dart and the party.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails has treasure chests found everywhere; the landfield, the sewers, The Lost Woods, etc. Each having a variant of being normal/rare items, a Chest Monster, or one that needs a Required Party Member to open.
  • Live A Live hangs a lampshade on this one by featuring a man whose job seems to be putting treasure chests in places. At one point, if you release him from prison, he'll go back and put more stuff into the treasure chests you've opened.
  • Lost Odyssey attempts to avert this trope by disguising the chests as everyday items. Still, who keeps healing herbs, money and equipment behind posters, anyway?
  • Lunarosse also plays it straight, but it could be handwaved by the fact that Corlia based the whole world off her tabletop game experiences, so she might have subconsciously placed those to keep with the theme.
  • Mass Effect 2 rationalizes this with having research data on weapons scanned directly from the guns themselves and Shepard taking credits from lost datapads and computers. It gets a bit less justified when Shepard can get "salvage" from computers and medi-gel stations and have it instantly turned into credits without having to sell any of it.
  • In Master of the Monster Lair, you as the main character build your own dungeon out of tunnels and specialized rooms for monsters to live in. One of those rooms is a treasure chest room, where monsters are inclined to just dump any equipment they have on their person.
  • Mega Man Battle Network has Mystery Data, large, floating diamonds that have stuff in them. This includes Green Mystery Data, which, oddly enough, regenerates. The Mystery Data in MMBN isn't inexplicable, though. In fact, it makes quite a bit of sense given the setting. The network is administered by various persons—and intended to be roamed freely by Navis, especially Navis belonging to kids. So it's entirely plausible that the Mystery Data is placed there deliberately as a treat for net-surfing Navis.
  • In Mega Man Legends the ruin systems Volnutt and The Bonnes dig in are loaded with uniform chests housing anything from keys, to refractor shards, to buster upgrades, to junk, to fairly common construction material. Considering they even house trapped chests and chest monsters, one may imagine they were designed with the expectation to be ransacked millennia in the future.
  • In Miitopia, treasure chests can be found all around Miitopia during explorations. There are even achievements for opening enough of them!
  • Special mention goes to the Mother series, where they aren't just treasure chests, but PRESENTS literally gift-wrapped for you. In Mother 3, this goes to the extreme in how Inexplicable these Treasure Chests are by some containing fireworks that go off when you open them, bursts of music, sound effects, and/or smells. One present is an entire onsen (hot spring) in a present. Which your entire team can bathe in to restore health and PSI.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, some treasure chests are outdoors, for example, in the middle of a swamp. Many are also trapped, even when there's nobody around who could have installed the traps.
  • Averted and lampshaded in A Nightmare in Sunnydale California. When Dean Winchester starts rooting through a trashcan during a cutscene and an amnesiac Buffy Summers expresses disgust, he points out that they're going to need anything they can scavenge because it's not like this trope is going to be in action. Which is ironic because due to their being trapped in a nightmare by Freddy Krueger, it could have justification for being played straight.
  • Octopath Traveler: Chests litter all manner of locations, waiting to be opened: Brown chests offer normal items; Red chests usually yield weapons, equipment, or money; and Purple chests are unique in that Therion must be in the party to open these, and always contain a rare item.
  • Parasite Eve sort of uses this with storage boxes dotted throughout the city and you can store one item in each box too if you need to, but one has to wonder why there would be random guns in random parts of the city.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3 has armor like dog suits and robot parts in briefcases around the dungeon (which is the main characters' transformed school, no less), almost as if some Cosmic Being knew you had a fighting dog and battle android in your party. Given a cosmic being has a wiretap on the main character's soul, this may well be the case. And given the nature of Tartarus, the briefcases and their contents are among the least bizarre things.
    • Persona 4 either justifies this or not depending on the dungeon, but plays it completely straight nonetheless. Given the TV World is pretty much the collective unconscious, some dungeons make a modicum more sense to find random chests: possibly Yukiko's Castle but definitely Void Quest, the JRPG parody. Less so when visiting the bathhouse or strip club.
    • Persona 5: While you do play as a Phantom Thief exploring a Mental World, there's still no real explanation for why a museum, or subway station, or cruise liner, or a bank with actual vaults, would bother securing valuables in treasure chests you can lockpick.
  • The Pokémon games (well, the portable ones, at least) leave ubiquitous orbs all over the place. Perhaps they are some kind of item ball? In the original Japanese, "Pokeballs" were called "Monster Balls", which does seem to imply that balls can be made to hold various things, not just Mons. This may explain the orbs as well as the Hyperspace Arsenal.
    • Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness use chests that simply look like Poké Balls. Although they appear to have a significantly larger carrying capacity than the balls found in the handheld game. (A chest may contain 3 of an item, rather than just 1 like in the handheld games.)
  • Like the previous Rakenzarn, Rakenzarn Frontier Story will have chests regardless of which of the many worlds you travel to. You might be able to handwave with some worlds based on other games due to that just being how they normally operate, but when you get into worlds like Higurashi and there's still chests to crack open out in the forest, it's pretty clear they're just there 'cause of this trope.
  • Rakenzarn Tales plays it straight. It gets a lampshading if you take the Suiseki Valley path in Chapter 9 and find one of the chests there empty, at which point Kite reminds you that there are other people out there and they would nab chests lying out in the open too.
  • Romancing SaGa 3 - In the Devil King's Palace one of the chests actually has something inscribed on the inside of it. The inscription is actually a prayer required to fight the boss of a bonus dungeon, and if you're playing the game with a translation patch, another prayer which is the last step towards unlocking the Developer's Room for the patch.
  • Ruphand: An Apothecary's Adventure: The first treasure chest to be opened is remarked upon:
    Brill: A... treasure chest? In a cave where nobody lives? Weeeeeird.
    [Loots the chest]
    Well, it's not like I'm complaining about it.
  • In Star Ocean, the last enemy you slay in each encounter will become a chest. Although this can be interpreted as a figurative representation rather than a literal one, as the chest will burst open to give you a bag of gold, a bag of experience points, and any items the encounter gives.
  • Averted in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, where items are stored in various types of lockers. Some are still empty.
    • It further subverts a related trope by the fact that, while people in homes are normally fine when you come in and help yourself to all their possessions, at one point in the second KotOR when you waltz into an apartment and snag a few items, the apartment's occupant shows up to berate you for stealing his stuff. This, however, is a case of Oneshot Revisionism.
    • In the Manaan levels in the first game, a survivor of the attack is actually hiding in a (full-sized) locker, so they do serve some useful purpose, after all. People on Taris will ask you to take what you want as long as you don't hurt them. This happened every time.
  • Subverted rather morbidly in Suikoden III, where treasure is acquired by looting corpses, presumably of people killed by the local monsters. Strangely, Suikoden III is one of those games where treasure regenerates after a certain amount of time has evidently, some new guy bearing more treasure was considerate enough to go and die in exactly the same spot.
    • There is an interesting (or annoying, depending on your view) second subversion of the whole "treasure chests lying around to be looted by the heroes" thing: one of the four main characters that you control is grossed out by the concept of looting bodies and won't touch them, ever. However, he also has the least overworld map access of the four, so there are only a couple places where it would even come up.
  • Super Mario RPG has treasure boxes just floating in the air that can only be reached with Mario's jumping ability, which is similar to the "?" blocks that the Mario series is known for. The boxes can be found anywhere, even inside certain towns. One NPC, who has a few treasure boxes in his house, will call you out for stealing his things after you helped him get back to his house. He'll act relieved if you don't take his stuff.
  • Lampshaded in a skit in Tales of Vesperia, when an exhausted Karol describes their trip through the desert:
    Karol: Sand and bones, cacti and treasure chests, the sky and the wind and the sun and...
  • Unhappy Ever After: Starting with the Ash-forest, you will encounter treasure chests just hanging around.
  • Valkyrie Profile has treasure chests in places that aren't even inhabited by sapient beings. Those chests might contain godly artifacts that the game urges you to return to Odin. Maybe the servants of Hel brought them there.
    • About the only treasure chest that is explicable is the one that contains Creation Gem in the Tower of Lezard Valeth. Must have been part of his project to create homunculus.
  • Parodied in the original Wild ARMs, where in the beginning when you go through Jack's scenario, most chests that can be gotten normally are empty, often with a note on the side that says Ha, ha, I got here before you did!
    • Completely lampshaded with glee in Wild ARMs 3's in-game hints (by a certain "Alan Smithee" no less!). The hint says "there's no idea who put them in such remote places but hey, finders keepers!"
  • A sidequest in The World Ends with You's endgame has cardboard boxes with items triggered by certain Event Flags; however, you do eventually find out who's been leaving them around just for you.
  • Monsters in Xenoblade Chronicles 1 drop their loot in one of three types of treasure chests (Wooden, silver, or gold) that inexplicably pop out of their bodies once they meet their demise. It's a little odd to see the tiny monsters like bunnivs and fliers leaving behind chests that are twice as big as themselves. There are also a few traditional treasure chests in places that actually make sense, such as ancient sealed vaults.
  • Xenogears features not only loads of random treasure chests all over the place, but for whatever reason, the developers of this game decided that the physical size of the treasure chests must be proportionate to your Gears in areas where you're forced to pilot them. This means that you'll encounter dozens of treasure chests that are the size of small houses.
    • Better still, these house-sized treasure chests frequently contain bottles of medicine. Individual bottles of medicine. When they are large enough to hold thousands.

    Strategy Game 

    Shoot Em Up 

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Far Cry 3 has myriad "loot chests" scattered about the world, some of which are quite hard to get to. A few are located in ancient, sealed tombs, with typical contents being (to quote one Redditor): "A poker chip, a photo of a dwarf, and $7 - I'd really like to hear the story behind that loot". Such feeble, anachronistic contents are bad enough, but many chests that are much easier to locate - in enemy outposts, for example - contain significantly better loot.
  • Minecraft has treasure chests in randomly-generated dungeons, often containing things like string, some cocoa beans, a bucket, and a vinyl record. Features a rare inversion, too; treasure chests are fairly easy to build, so if you're playing in a multiplayer server, you can place one in a hard-to-reach spot as an Easter Egg for another player.
  • Terraria has treasure chests in unlikely places underground and in the caverns. Who placed them there is unknown, and many of them don't contain anything really valuable.

  • Don't Starve Together has only one such inexplicable chest: the Crimson chest that contains the Terrarium. The characters in the game remark how out of place it is (mainly because its actually from Terraria, Wortox's shenanigans just so happened to have brought it into the Constant).
  • Fortnite: Plays with this. Items, materials, traps, and weapons are usually either harvested or found by searching in buildings, but you do find the occasional treasure chest lying around. They usually hold the best loot and are often in out-of-the-way spots like attics or on rooftops. Luckily, they usually have a sound that plays when you wander near one. Oh yeah, and watch out for Mimics, too.
    • Also for a possibly modern variation, otherwise-ordinary cardboard boxes can inexplicably be found all over the place, and usually have useful stuff in them.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Black Clover, dungeons will occasionally appear from underground with no warning. Throughout the dungeon are a few scattered chests, with the best goods locked up in a treasury somewhere near the center. Scholars think the dungeons are long-forgotten tombs of past wizards, but why they have chests outside of their treasuries is a mystery. Some of them are also mimics, which contrary to typical video game logic are simply living chests full of pulsating organs.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, random chests can sometimes be found just lying around the titular dungeon. Unfortunately, a) on the most accessible levels they've long been picked clean, and b) some of them are actually predatory mimics waiting for an unwary adventurer on whom to munch.

  • The Infinite Loops justifies this with the existence of 'Roguelike,' a creature who loops into various worlds as a native fairy or rodent and then sets about putting loot where it would be expected. Like all loopers, though, he's incredibly stir-crazy, so he's taken to filling the dungeons with random stuff that can range from eldritch to funny to pointless to just plain weird.
  • Lampshaded in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World when the four go through Gothmarik Citadel and actively wonder why the bad guy who'd been inhabiting the place left all this treasure lying around. The reason? A lot of it is fake, though some isn't.
  • In I Woke Up As a Dungeon, Now What?, the chests are explained as things dungeons create to attract adventurers to them and gain mana, either from the adventurers dying or them fighting enough to gain experience. Chests cost mana, though, so the dungeons must carefully balance between enough chests to attract people and not too many chests to avoid draining themselves to benefit from the deal.
  • In Blessed with a Hero's Heart, Kee'ls Dungeon near Axel is known for having its treasure chest becoming magically replenished every year, and access to it is limited to ensure beginners have their chance at them without stronger people hoarding everything. As Luna later finds out, the coffers were actually replenished by the dungeon's minions at the behest of Keel, who seeks a powerful cleric that can finally free him from lichdom.

  • In the Discworld book The Last Hero, this sort of thing is accepted by the barbarian heroes of the Silver Horde as a regular occurrence in dungeons, along with medkits and similar items. When an outsider mentions how strange it is, they're shocked at realizing he makes sense, and begin to suspect something's not right with the world...
    • Dark Lord Harry Dread said he maintains them in his evil lairs, as part of the whole hero/villain arrangement.
    • The related phenomenon of treasure being arbitrarily hidden under altars is Lampshaded all the way back in The Colour Of Magic, when Hrun the Barbarian Hero takes it for granted that riches simply turn up there, like apples under apple trees.
  • In The Elminster Series, apparently one of Elminster's jobs is stocking dungeons. He's a Chosen of the goddess of magic, so spreading magic and advancing its cause is indeed part of his "job"... and leaving the occasional fake "old" spellbook or magic item in some dungeon or tomb for adventurers to eventually discover is one of the more entertaining ways to do so.
    • At least one of the Seven Sisters does so as well, it's likely a requirement of many of Mystra's elite servants to sprinkle magic items around particularly spellbooks for why so many lairs that by rights should have been looted ages ago still inexplicably have treasure to find in them.
  • Deliberately invoked in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: when creating the Dungeon in his capital city, Rimuru wanted it to feel like an actual JRPG dungeon crawl, complete with treasure chests with loot inside that gets better as the adventurers delve deeper. While his fellow Otherworlders tend to pick up on this quickly enough, natives to the world needed the concept explained to them when the Dungeon first opened for business.

    Live Action TV 
  • The series Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has its heroes' powers based on video games, including the ability to turn their surroundings into a game level full of blocks, power-ups, and treasure chests like these.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: There are monsters called Mimics that are camouflaged as treasure chests. Think about that, either heroes were so blase about random chests that an evil wizard/mad god thought this was a good wheeze or there have been chests lying around dungeons long enough for this thing to evolve such a disguise! They polymorph into treasure chests until an adventurer finds this "unopened treasure" and gets stuck to one of the slime-covered pseudolimbs of the creature, letting the mimic try to take a bite out of the schmuck. They don't just turn into treasure chests; they transform into anything that could have a volume of 150 cubic feet (5 feet by 5 feet by 6 feet) such as a stout bed or large door frame, but they can't change their hard bodies and rough texture. Of course, anyone who gets close and inspects it is already too close.

    Web Comics 
  • Goblins: The goblins have a token Poorly Locked Treasure Chest placed right in the middle of their warcamp for no reason whatsoever apart from serving as an incentive for the adventurers to raid the camp. A goblin confronts the seer of the tribe about it and tries to reason that, if they have to flaunt the chest like that, maybe they could at least use some of the magical items stashed inside to repel the impending attack. But respected customs are not to be discarded so easily just because it "makes sense", you know! When they do end up using the items, one of them turns out to be insanely dangerous for the wielder. It seems that fact just gotten lost amid the tradition.
  • Homestuck: The lab complex where the Trolls spend most of their time is littered with chests full of random items. The reason they're always full is that the Trolls keep stealing one another's property and hiding it... in other chests. Meanwhile, John's game planet is covered in "Pyxis tubes" which often contain objects of variable worth and function as that planet's mail system.
    Kanaya: Well I Think The Chests Are Fun They Make For Nice Surprises
  • Our Little Adventure: Julie explains that either other adventurers leave the junk behind for some reason, or it's simply the work of the Lady of Fate and Fortune. Finding a cube apparently always means treasure.
  • RPG World parodies this by having Hero make up an almost plausible story about world-venturing pirates who hid their treasure all over the world in chests when their golden age of piracy came to an end. Reka, the resident pirate of the group, instantly calls him out on it.

    Western Animation 
  • Video Power used this trope in its animated segment. Whenever Malkil of Wizards & Warriors showed up looking for a fight, a magic treasure chest with the spell that could defeat him would always spawn somewhere nearby. There was no explanation for how it worked, besides "game logic".

Player: Who would actually go through the trouble to leave this chest all the way out here? Ah, Who cares? Free Stuff!

Alternative Title(s): Inexplicable Treasure Chest, Treasure Chest