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Little Stowaway

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Be sure to store your little sister in the overhead compartment before takeoff.

[Annie has smuggled Molly onto the ship which she and Daddy Warbucks are leaving for England on]
Miss Hannigan: [running onto the dock as the ship departs] Stowaway! Stowaway!
Warbucks: Isn't that Miss Hannigan?
Annie: Why yes, it is. She's coming to see us off.
Miss Hannigan: Stop that ship! Stowaway!
Warbucks: What's that she's saying?
Annie: I think she's saying... [thinks] ..."Stay awhile! Stay awhile!"

In fiction, children have a habit of hiding on ships, airplanes, spaceships, etc., whenever they decide to go on an adventure.

When they are discovered, the adults are frequently unable to leave them behind, usually because of sympathy and/or because it would be too expensive, difficult, or time-consuming to return them.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Spridle and Chim Chim of Speed Racer are often hiding in the Mach 5's trunk, half the time causing trouble, half the time helping solve it.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon's little sister hides in his travel bag to go with him on a vacation. Of course, she is instantly discovered, but in the anime version (pictured), they ultimately allow her to go with them.
  • Cowboy Bebop:
    • Ed isn't exactly a stowaway on the Bebop (blackmailing the crew by taking remote control of the piloting), but fits the trope in terms of how most of the crew regard and treat her: yet another unwelcome/annoying passenger and the final straw for the "No women, no pets, no kids" policy.
    • The trope gets played straighter in "Mushroom Samba", in which Ed and Ein stow away in the trunk of another bounty hunter's car. This causes the cops to think she's kidnapped Ed, who sleepily slips away during the commotion.
  • Vinland Saga: In chapter 8, Thors is departing from Iceland with the purpose to join the Jomsvikings in an attack on England. As families and locals see the voyagers off, Thorfinn (who was shown to be very upset about his father leaving in the previous chapter) is nowhere to be found, and Ylva suggests that he is sulking because he was previously scolded by Thors. After the ship has rowed out to the open sea and Thors declares that they have "reached the current" and the ship will now travel on its own, Thorfinn's voice asks whether that means "we can't go back, father?" Moments later, Thorfinn emerges from a barrel and hurries to the railing to pee.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: Anne, a.k.a. "Stowaway Girl" (she was nameless in the original manga), who imposes herself on the heroes after being caught stowing away on the ship they take early on. Eventually, however, they do figure out where her parents are and shove her onto the next flight to her home.
  • Pan in Dragon Ball GT. The reason they don't take her home is because she takes the device that would let them go home and easily keeps it away from the out of practice, not to mention larger, Trunks. Goku refuses to interfere with it, and she finally drops it down her shirt (which, when you think about it, shouldn't work), causing Trunks to give up.
  • Dr. STONE: Once the Perseus ship is finished and departs for the Treasure Island, Ryusui discovers that Suika snuck aboard even though she wasn't selected. He scolds her for it, as he didn't want to bring a child to what he knew could be a very dangerous trip.

    Comic Books 
  • In Violine, Violine stows away on an oil tanker.
  • Superboy: Jon Kent sneaks onto an Air Force transport plane to save his maternal grandfather, Sam Lane, from execution at the hands of Logamban military forces. He's also hiding from his mom, who has stowed away on the same plane and would not approve of him following her into a war zone.

    Fan Works 
  • Annabelle in the Transformers fic A Child's Innocence.
  • In Futari Wa Pretty Cure Blue Moon, Binbeat ran away from home and stowed away on a circus train that was really a front for the Etherium. Yeah, they did things differently before Eiender had a change of heart and went from Dimension Lord to Shadow Dictator.
  • In Mega Crossover Undocumented Features, Nadia and Jean of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water become accidental stowaways on the SDF-17 when it makes an emergency landing on their homeworld.
  • In the Lilo & Stitch/Cardcaptors fanfic A Trip To Japan, Experiments 419 and 426 hide in briefcases so they can tag along on the family vacation. Meanwhile, Kero (as per usual) hides away in Sakura's backpack.
  • In The Desert Storm series, Anakin helps his best friend Jax stowaway on Jedi Knight Dahvo's ship when Dahvo is asked by Shmi to bring her son to her on Shili. Thanks to a Force technique that Shmi had taught to Anakin and Jax, Jax is able to hide his presence for a full day.

    Films — Animation 
  • Russell in Up, though accidentally, by being on the porch of Carl's house when it takes to the air.
  • Chip in Beauty and the Beast stows away when Belle leaves the castle to care for her ailing father. Maurice outright calls him a stowaway and Chip comes to the rescue when Maurice and Belle are locked into the house by Gaston. This enables Belle to try and warn the Beast of the hunting party; the sight of her gives the Beast his Heroic Second Wind.
  • The Incredibles: The kids stow away on the jet when Helen goes to rescue Bob. By the time she finds out they are there, it's too late — their plane is shot down. Fortunately, they survive.
  • Capture the Flag: Mike and Amy stow away on board the moonlander, and thus accompany Mike's grandfather to the moon.
  • In Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion, Pectine stows away in... Getafix's cauldron, being small enough to fit in, as the druid travels to the Carnutes Forest with Asterix and Obelix. Well, Obelix did know she was here, but she made him promise not to tell.
  • In Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation, baby Swift Heart stows away in True Heart's backpack while True Heart is going on a mission to Earth.
  • In Frozen II, moving ice sculptures depict the parents of Elsa and Anna. Their mother Iduna stowed away in one of the royal carriages after saving Prince Agnarr on a journey to Arendelle, after they were separated from others (including Iduna's family) in the Enchanted Forest, which was trapped by a wall of mist.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The film version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has a little girl stow away on the ship to be with her father.
  • The Shirley Temple film titled Stowaway (1936). It's by accident—Heartwarming Orphan Shirley dives into the trunk of a rich guy's car to escape the rain, then falls asleep, and manages to sleep through the car being hauled onto the boat that the rich guy is sailing away on.
  • The Shirley Temple film titled Bright Eyes, in which Shirley's godfather is an airline pilot, which of course leads to Shirley stowing away on his plane.
  • In Interstellar, the hero refuses to take his daughter with him to the mysterious location, so she hides under a blanket in his car. By the time he notices her, it's too late to send her back and both continue the journey together.
  • An adult version in To Have And Have Not. Eddie is told to stay behind but sneaks onto the boat and thus becomes part of the nightly MacGuffin Escort Mission.
  • The French film En Solitaire (released as Turning Tide in the US), is about a young refugee who stows away on a yacht taking part in a race around the world. As the sailors are supposed to be making the trip solo, the captain of the boat has to keep him hidden when others are watching.
  • Laura in Logan escapes the Reavers and sneaks offscreen into the trunk of Logan's car which brings her to his hideout.
  • Yet another sci-fi version in the 1929 silent movie Frau im Mond (aka Woman in the Moon). Twelve-year-old Gustav hides on the rocket so he, too, can see the Moon.
  • Avengers: Infinity War. Tony Stark refers to 16 year-old Peter Parker as this (being the youngest and least experienced member of our heroes) on finding he's also hidden on the spacecraft taking them to Thanos, after Tony supposedly sent him back to Earth because he thought it was a Suicide Mission.
  • Captain Marvel (2019), as Nick Fury and Carol Danvers escape Project Pegasus on a quadjet, they hear a 'meowing' coming from behind them, meaning that Goose the cat had somehow gotten onboard before take off. Fury Lampshades it.
    Fury: We got a stowaway.
  • The Viking: Helga wants to join Leif on his voyage into the unknown sea west of Greenland, but Leif intends to leave her in Greenland. When Eric's and Leif's men are fighting, she uses the commotion to disguise herself with furs, pants, a horned helmet and a fake beard, and go aboard with Leif's crew. Later she is discovered hiding in the hold, and Leif accepts the fact.
  • In Wild America, brothers Marty and Mark set out on a road trip. Their younger brother Marshall is not given permission to come along, so he hides under their gear in the trunk until they're a safe distance from home. The older brothers promise their mother over the phone that they'll return Marshall after two weeks, but they end up keeping him for a full month.

  • Arthur C. Clarke's Dolphin Island: A cargo hover ship makes an emergency landing in the United States and a teenager named Johnny Clinton stows away aboard it. A few hours later it crashes into the Pacific Ocean and Johnny is rescued by dolphins, who take him to safety on an inhabited island.
  • Arkady Darell in Second Foundation. At the end, we learn that she probably wasn't acting entirely of her own volition.
  • Deconstructed in The Cold Equations. Marilyn is an eighteen year old girl who wants to join her brother in creating new space colonies. When the ship she's stationed on makes a stop by the planet he's on, she hides on the ship that's sent to land. The pilot is forced to send her out the airlock, because they don't have enough fuel to make it to their destination with an extra person on board.
  • The boy in My Father's Dragon hides in a burlap sack and is loaded onto a cargo ship to get to the island of the animals.
  • Joan Nixon's 1968 children's book The Mystery Of The Secret Stowaway centers around one of these.
  • In Francisco Coloane's novel "El último grumete de la Baquedano" ("The last cabin boy of the Baquedano"), the protagonist Alejandro is a 15-year-old who stows away in the Baquedano ship to fulfill his two life dreams: to be a sailor like his Disappeared Dad, and to search for his long-lost older brother Manuel. He's found out soon and, after some deliberation, soon is taken by the crew in as cabin boy. After several adventures Alejandro locates his brother, who's living in the Extreme South after Going Native, and returns home more or less happily.
  • The hero of Castaways of the Flying Dutchman ends up on the Dutchman when fleeing his abusive stepbrothers, where he is set to work with the cook.
  • Phone Home, Persephone! has Hades debunk the Classical Myth of him kidnapping Persephone, by instead recalling that she snuck onto his chariot, after he refused to give her a tour of the Underworld.
  • In The Savant, Arlo hides in the storage room of a luxury boat while he travels from Leros to Patmos. He can't wait for a more affordable ride and travel legally because he was falsely accused of sinking his last boat.
  • In Small as an Elephant, Jack, who is trying to get from Maine to his home in Boston before Social Services notices his mom abandoned him, hides in the bed of a pickup truck that is owned by a family from Massachusetts. Instead of taking him to his home state, they drive to their summer house in the middle of nowhere.
  • In Skin of the Sea, the yumbo boy Issa acts as a guide for Simi and Kola while they're on land. Later, when they're traveling to Esu's island, Issa hides in the hold so he can help them rescue Taiwo and Kehinde.
  • Goblins in the Castle: Violet, the title character of "The Stinky Princess", chooses to stow away in the goblin Bindlepod's saddlebag and run away to Nilbog with him. He is not amused when he finds her and insists on returning her to her parents, but the stench of goblin from said saddlebag has become entrenched in her body, and proves too horrible for the king to accept having her around their kingdom anymore.
  • The Monster Garden: When Frankie and Monnie run away, they hide under a tarp on a flatbed truck to travel to Mendicote Woods.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dark Matter (2015): This is how Das (later known as Five) got onboard the Raza before the pre-series mindwipe that erased everyone's memories while they were in stasis (leading them to adopt numbers as names). She pickpocketed a crook on the space station where she lived with a bunch of other homeless orphans, stealing what will later turn out to be the Blink Drive key, and he came looking for it, fatally injuring her friend TJ and wiping out the rest of their group. Having overheard Marcus (Three) and Jace (One) talking about their docked ship earlier, Das smuggles herself and TJ aboard via some crates and leaves him in the Raza's cargo bay while she goes in search of medicine for him. Unfortunately, she picked a ship crewed by the worst criminals in the galaxy, and she's caught by Marcus and nearly Thrown Out the Airlock until Griff (Six) interrupts him (Marcus then claims he was just trying to scare her, but it's left ambiguous whether he's telling the truth). Griff argues to the rest of the crew that they should keep Das around because she's a prodigy with computers and tech; Marcus votes to sell her off and Portia (Two) doesn't much care what happens to her as long as she's off the ship, not wanting a child crewmember, but Jace and Ryo (Four) side with Griff, making a majority. While this deliberation is going on, TJ bleeds to death in the hold.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This is how Adric got on the TARDIS. Many fans would not have objected to him being Thrown Out the Airlock, though.
    • And Zoe. It seems to be a mathematician thing.
    • Also Toby stows away on his father's pirate ship in "The Curse of the Black Spot".
  • Frontier Circus: In "The Smallest Target", Bobby stows away in one of the circus wagons to follow his mother.
  • A teenage example in Grange Hill: On a ferry trip to France, two boys try to take a boy who does not have a passport on the trip, by smuggling him through the coach emergency exit.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "Bushmaster", MacGyver goes to Central America to rescue a pilot accused of being a spy, only to find the pilot's daughter has stowed away.
  • Phoenix. In "Old Rules, New Game", a professional safecracker steals a van for his next job, only to find a two-month old baby inside, a fact that he only realises when he hears the baby crying that night, by which time there's a statewide manhunt going on for the supposed child-abductor.
  • The Power Rangers Lost Galaxy episode "Homesick" features a young Child Prodigy named Matthew, who stowed away onboard Terra Venture, but got homesick and tries to hack the ship's controls to make it fly back to Earth. When he is caught, he is told that going home is no option and he is put in the care of Damon (the Green Ranger). When Matthew helps stop Furio from accessing Terra Venture's control base, the grateful Rangers give him a ride back to Earth in the Astro Megaship.
  • Resident Alien: Max hides in Harry's spaceship to escape The Men in Black. Harry only discovers this after starting the flight back to his home planet.
  • Lupus is a stowaway on Marcus Flavius's ship on the TV adaption of The Secrets of Vesuvius.

    Puppet Shows 

    Video Games 
  • This is how Sothe originally joins your party in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. He's stowed away on your party's ship when they sail to Begnion.
  • A Side Quest in Knights of the Old Republic involves a girl who had been kidnapped by the Mandalorians, escaped, and stowed away on the Ebon Hawk. Your options are to tell her to leave, learn to communicate with her (she speaks a garbled form of Mandalorian which appears to consist of one line over and over) and reunite her with her family, or wait until she leaves on her own.
  • In Sam & Max: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak, Sam and Max's great-grandfathers Sameth and Maximus discover that Baby Amelia Earhart has stowed away in their luggage on the Disorient Express.
  • A 17 year old Lara Croft does this in Tomb Raider Chronicles.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, Marco stows away on the Delphinus because he's tired of living in Lower Valua. He winds up becoming the first official non-playable member of Vyse's crew.
  • In Sunless Sea, the Monkey Foundling is a young girl living on an island with semi-intelligent monkeys. Depending how the player reacts to her stealing their clothes, she can later be discovered as a stowaway on your ship, at which point you have the option to let her stay aboard as a mascot.
  • Maribel attempts to stow away on her father's fishing boat at the start of Dragon Quest VII. The Hero has to blow her cover and get her kicked off the boat, setting the scene for her to join the real adventure later.
  • In Infinite Space, Katida Lanco sneaks onboard the player's ship after being rescued. Unfortunately, she suffers from a medical condition that makes long-term space travel almost impossible.
  • Meracle of Star Ocean: The Last Hope is one in her Back Story. She is from a primitive world, and snuck on board a visiting space ship because it smelled good. That is the start to the chain of events that leads her to join the party.
  • Kira Carsen's backstory in Star Wars: The Old Republic has her escaping Korriban by stowing away on a slave transport when she was 10.
  • In Grandia, Justin's friend, Sue, stows away on the ship he's on, and gets caught. Normally, the law of the sea requires that stowaways be tossed overboard in a barrel. However, since she's just a kid, they ultimately decide to be lenient and make her and Justin become apprentices sailors (since sailors can't be stowaways.)

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In Project Million, Mikey Insanity stows away in LC's suitcase in order to get to Florida.

    Western Animation 
  • The Christmas Tree: Lily stows away in Peppy's sled while going to the North Pole to see Santa Claus.
  • Jade of Jackie Chan Adventures does this. A lot.
  • As does Penny in Inspector Gadget, though she always hides herself from her Uncle (and often gets caught by the villains instead).
  • Lampshaded in the Jonny Quest TOS episode "Terror Island". When Race Bannon arrives at the island by boat, he says that the boys (Jonny and Hadji) can come out now. When they ask how he knew they were there, Race says that they've pulled the "stowaway bit" so often that he's come to expect it.
  • The Simpsons: In "The Wife Aquatic", Homer is on a fishing boat that ends up in a storm, and he discovers Bart hiding in the life-raft closet. Apparently, he couldn't stand another minute with Marge and Lisa on the island.
    Bart: They were gonna go to the folk art museum, then they were gonna paint crab shells! Not crush them, paint them!
    Homer: You did the right thing, boy.
  • Iceman (who is around 14 in this continuity), in an episode of X-Men: Evolution, stows away in the X-Jet so he can fight with the X-Men vets. It works partially - he managed to hitch his ride, but Professor X knew he was there all along.
    • It was also an excuse to have a team made up of the Original Five X-Men from the comic books for an episode. Mythology Gag for the win!
    • Another episode Grim Reminder, have Shadowcat and Nightcrawler, worried about Wolverine, stow away on the X-Jet when he goes back to the site of Weapon X.
      • That's not as much stowing away as being taken accidentally - Kitty was looking for a quiet place to write her parents an e-mail, and Kurt just showed up to mess about with her.
  • Adult version (well... Manchild version) on Archer; Pam and Cheryl stow away on a space flight, largely as an excuse to put the comic relief characters in the episode even though it's implausible enough that the main cast are there...
    • Pam and Cheryl stowing away onto missions is a series-long Running Gag to the point that eventually they're brought onto missions simply because they'd sneak aboard anyway.
  • In the four-part The Smurfs episode "Smurfquest", Sassette stows away while Papa, Grandpa, Handy, Hefty and Greedy Smurf go on a quest to recover elements in order to renew their long-life stone. They're none too pleased, but she comes in handy after all.
  • Bernice from Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose.
  • Occurs a few times in Defenders of the Earth. In most cases, it's Kshin (the youngest of the Defenders) and his alien companion, Zuffy, who stow away. However, in "The Would-be Defender", Earl Sump, a young wannabe superhero spending the day with the Defenders, smuggles himself onto Flash's ship and ends up endangering both himself and Flash.
  • Vicky the Viking (1974): In episode 1, Halvar, chief of the Vikings of Flake, promises his son Vicky to take him along on their next raiding cruise if Vicky can beat him in a footrace/stone carrying competition. When Vicky succeeds very much against Halvar's expectation, Halvar is in a quandary because he knows that the other Vikings are against taking Vicky on board. As a solution, in episode 2 Vicky suggests for Halvar to smuggle him aboard in a barrel, so he can later pretend he did not know that Vicky was on the ship. This works, and when Vicky is finally discovered, Halvar feigns surprise and indignation, but persuades the crew to take him along rather than to lose time by turning back. Meanwhile, Vicky's friend Ylvie, who has got wind of Vicky's plan, tries to join him by hiding in another barrel, but is found out before the ship departs.
  • Rugrats:
    • In the episode "Reptar on Ice", the babies try to reunite Reptar with his baby (a lizard they find in the backyard), in order to hide it from the grown-ups through, Tommy and Chuckie take turns hiding it in their diapers.
    • In the episode "Chuckie's Duckling", Chuckie tries to leave a baby duckling that imprinted on him at Tommy's place while he and the babies go play at the park. When the duckling attempts to follow after him, Dil hides it in his diaper, where it stays until they arrive at the park and reunite there.
  • The DuckTales (1987) episode "All Ducks on Deck" had the nephews stow in Donald's duffel bag to see him do something heroic in the Navy.

    Real Life 
  • In 1999 a 17 year old boy stowed away on flight from Boston to London, allegedly because he wanted to impress the Israeli intelligence service, resulting in a huge embarrassment for Airport Security and British Airways. There was no official word on whether the Mosad was impressed or not.
  • In 2010 a 16 year stowaway fell out of the wheel well of a US Airways jet as it made its final approach into Boston (what is it about Boston?) The exact cause of death was never determined, but he would have died from hypoxia even if the landing gear hadn't crushed him.
  • The Shackleton Antarctic expedition (1914-17) saw a young, unqualified friend of one of the crew stow away. He ultimately proved his worth, hanging on a lot better than several of the trained sailors; he survived along with the rest, although he lost all of his toes to frostbite.


Video Example(s):


What are you doing here?

When Cooper refuses to take Murph with him to the mysterious location, she hides under a blanket in his car. By the time Cooper notices her, it's too late to send her back, so they continue the journey together.

How well does it match the trope?

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