Dolls and stuffed animals are often used as a symbol of childhood innocence, at least when they're not being creepy. So, who would suspect that the innocent little dolly, often in the hands of a child, has something less than savory in it that someone wants to slip under the watchful eyes of a higher authority? It might be stolen gems, illegal drugs, spy information, or other secrets that someone hopes everyone else will overlook; after all, what could possibly be dangerous about a cuddly teddy bear?
There's something rather insidious and reprehensible about using such a strong symbol of childhood to get things under the radar. Often, using a doll to smuggle something demonstrates or emphasizes the person committing the crime is highly unethical. At the least, they're corrupting a child's innocent toy, and at most they're willing to put an actual child with said toy at risk by using them to achieve their goals. Sometimes, a doll will be found with the goods, but the actual child long gone, implying a less than happy fate for the tot. Sometimes, the doll is an Orphan's Plot Trinket, where a lonely child who took simple comfort in a doll finds out it has actually been used to hide something valuable for all these years. And in the most extreme examples, the very doll itself will be made of an illicit substance or stolen material.
Often Truth in Television.
- In Finder Series, the key to a storage locker is hidden in a stuffed animal belonging to a child the triad boss is fostering.
- The Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episode "Red Data" features Motoko unintentionally getting involved with a kid in Taiwan who shows her that he's making toy animal figurines out of pressure-molded cocaine. As long as they paint the figurines correctly, they can pass off for the official toys.
- Lupin III:
- In Lupin III: Operation: Return the Treasure, Lupin's rival Mark hides a stolen diamond in a teddy bear he gives to the orphaned Anita, turning it into an Orphan's Plot Trinket years later.
- Lupin himself does this in Farewell to Nostradamus, hiding a diamond he stole in a dolly that later gets taken itself by a bratty little girl on an airplane. Taking things Up to Eleven, then the girl gets kidnapped with the doll, so Lupin is forced getting involved with a larger plot to rescue both.
- In The Chipmunk Adventure, diamond smugglers trick the Chipmunks and Chipettes into bringing their stolen goods by disguising it as a hot-air balloon race around the world, using the dolls meant as markers for each leg of the race to hide the diamonds.
- The Rescuers has Madam Medusa eventually stealing orphan Penny's teddy bear, seemingly to use as a hostage, but ostensibly to use it to smuggle the Devil's Eye, an enormous diamond, away for her own gain.
- In Antman And The Wasp, Scott's daughter Cassie buys him a "World's Best Grandma" trophy as a symbol of innocence and love. Scott genuinely loves it, but decides to hide the original Ant-Man shrinking suit inside the base to prevent it from being found by the feds while he's under house arrest. However, the need to recover the suit comes up when Cassie takes the trophy to school for show and tell day.
- In Batman Begins, The Mafia under Carmine Falcone are shown to be using stuffed animals to import street drugs and the League of Shadows' hallucinogens, with different types of animals going to different dealers.
- In The Night of the Hunter, the stolen money that the villain spends the film seeking is used to stuff a little girl's rag doll.
- Revenge Of The Ninja: Part of the MO of the Big Bad and the False Friend of Cho Osaki, is by smuggling heroin through porcelain dolls sold by Cho's antiques store. Cho is not amused.
- Traffic takes this to the logical extreme when the drug lord's wife, left running the empire after the drug lord is arrested, hits on a clever way of smuggling cocaine across the border: make dolls out of cocaine.
- Agatha Christie's By The Pricking of My Thumbs has Tuppence discover a battered, dirty doll in the long unused fireplace of an abandoned house. Later in the book, she inspects the doll more closely and finds it is full of uncut diamonds.
- A wholesome version of this trope happens in Karen Ackermans The Night Crossing. It is 1938 and a Jewish family is fleeing Nazi-occupied Austria for Switzerland. Since they are pretending to be Swiss citizens returning from a holiday (visiting Austrian relatives), they have to pack light so as to not arouse suspicion. It is their young daughters idea to hide their two silver, heirloom Sabbath candlesticks inside of her pair of straw-stuffed dolls.
- On Blindspot, the team discusses this when they seize a bunch of dolls from the hideout of a notorious smuggler. They run tests on the dolls to determine if there is anything hidden inside and then start testing the material the dolls are made off. Unfortunately, it turns out that the dolls contain a deadly bioweapon that kills the person doing the testing.
- Castle: The team realizes that their Body of the Week hid evidence inside a collectible doll they found when Castle bought the contents of her storage unit at auction and gifted to Captain Gates. Cue Castle bursting into Gates's office and smashing the doll... and finding nothing, because it was Gates's doll that she brought from home. So he smashes the other doll, too, and finds a USB drive.
- In Lost, Mr. Eko's drug ring smuggles heroin inside tiny doll-sized statues of the Virgin Mary.
- A variant in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut." The titular astronaut uses a doll equipped with an automatic garage door opener as part of his plan to murder his ex. At the end, he steals the doll from the little girl who had gotten it with the idea of dropping it out of the airplane he was testing while it was in flight, getting rid of the evidence.
- In one of the cons showcased in an episode of The Real Hustle, the con artists befriend some tourists on vacation and trick the tourists into becoming drug mules by asking them to deliver a stuffed animal full of drugs to one of their "relatives" when they return to the UK.
- In on episode of El Chapulín Colorado, a smuggling ring is taking advantage of a costume party to hand over a doll stuffed with stolen jewelry, and Chapulin is asked for help to figure out who are the criminals, and stop them.
- On Best. Worst. Weekend. Ever., teen hacker Patches hid a USB drive containing a pirated video game in his "Pit People Mushroom" plushie. While away at juvie, his brother Zed sold the plushie in a garage sale, so after breaking out to retrieve and sell the game, Patches forces Zed to track it down.
- The Boys (2019). In "Cherry", Starlight and The Deep bust drug dealers smuggling fentanyl in Homelander Junior Seven Kuddle Buddiez. Apart from yet another detail of how Vought makes money from merchandising their superheroes, it's also for Rule of Symbolism given the later revelations about Compound V.
- Wait Until Dark: A woman is smuggling heroin in a doll. She's trying to leave an airport with the doll when she gets spooked about cops and talks a strange man into taking the doll for her. The man, who has no idea what's in the doll, takes it home to his wife, who is blind. The wife then becomes the target of the gangsters.
- Grand Theft Auto V online has one scene for one of the heists where the players deliver a truck of action figures with cocaine inside them to... surprise! Trevor; one of the main anti-heroes from the campaign. Naturally, he plays with them.
- Given a Continuity Nod in Finance And Felony, where pills of drugs are often hidden in figurines as product and you can get one of them as a souvenir in your CEO Office, and another one the Bikers Update, where if you upgrade the equipment, and take the time to watch your workers process the cocaine... You see them cut a figurine in half, stuff it with cocaine, and pressing it back once again.
- Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has dolls of police mascot P.C. Badger being used to smuggle stolen jewels in the first case, with the crime (assault) being committed to stop the victim from discovering the scheme.
- An episode of American Dad! sees Roger put on trial, with Stan as a juror, eager to see him finally put away after years of pulling a Karma Houdini. During the trial, he tries to butter up the jury by showing he's a nice guy, and a woman comments how he gave her a stuffed bear for a birthday present. Stan convinces the jury to find him guilty, but Roger later escapes the prison bus and runs to the woman's home. He rips open the bear and takes out wads of cash stuffed inside. The woman can't believe it was there the whole time.
- There is a variant in Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, where a guy running a dart booth rigs it for rich kids to win, so that he can give them a teddy bear with his monkey sidekick hidden inside for burglary purposes.
- Family Guy: Mentioned in "The Thin White Line", in which Brian becomes a drug-sniffing dog. Although not seen directly, he comes home from work one day and gives a furious speech about the fact that he caught a man hiding drugs in his daughter's doll. O-One day, you see your reflection
Lois: So... how was your day?Brian: My day? Un-freakin'-believable! F-First, we nail this bastard who had the gall to hide his stuff in his daughter's doll—her DOLL, for God's sake! (takes a smoke) Oh, were's the line anymore? Well, I have news for you! I-I-It's not even on the radar screen! The days of decency and virtue are gone, honey! BAM! Freakin' evaporated like a dingy, stinkin' mud puddle! O-One day, y-you s-s-you see your reflection in it, and the next day, i-it's a... it's a damn oil spot on your cracked driveway, staring back at you, mocking you — blah, blah, blah — knowing the perverted truth will rot in the pit of your soul! That's how my freakin' day was!
- A short from Robot Chicken documented that Santa Claus from Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer was a coke pusher, with his preferred method of hiding the coke inside toy bears.
- TaleSpin: In the four-part pilot episode, "Plunder and Lightning", Don Karnage steals a stone that can conduct electricity from Shere Khan Industries, and Kit Cloudkicker steals it from him. When Kit reveals the stone to Baloo, they decide to turn it in to Khan for a reward of $50,000 so Baloo can buy the Sea Duck back from Rebecca, who acquired Baloo's Air Service when Baloo was unable to pay his bills. Before paying a visit to Khan Industries, Baloo and Kit hide the stone in Lucy, Molly's doll. When Baloo and Kit find out that Khan is willing to pay $100,000 for the return of the stone, they intend to return with the stone, but their mission is compromised when Karnage kidnaps Rebecca and Molly, holding them for ransom in exchange for the stone.