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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 tuck 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.
- 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.
- Mentioned in the Family Guy episode where Brian becomes a drug sniffing dog. Although not seen directly, one day when he comes home from work and is asked how his day went, he is furious about the fact that he caught a man hiding drugs in his daughter's doll.
Lois: How was your day?Brian: My day? Un-freakin-believable. First we nail this bastard who had the gall to hide his stuff in his daughter's doll-her doll, for God's sake!
- 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.