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An attack at the Rothschild bank

"Special delivery — a bomb. Were you expecting one?"
Inspector Clouseau, Revenge of the Pink Panther

When the postal service is used to kill someone, usually by letter bomb, biological weapon, poisoned food, or some kind of magic that uses the written medium; sometimes an e-mail or other New Media messaging device is used in place of an actual letter or package.

One of the forms Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb can take.

Worth noting is that in Real Life you're not supposed to send dangerous goods (fireworks, ammunition, etc.) by mail in the first place, not even for non-violent purposes.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the first episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Sousuke detonates his shoe locker when he discovers it's been tampered with, under the assumption that someone planted a bomb in it. Of course, it was just a love letter, but he cites a case in which someone was killed by a bomb in the mailbox. This happens several more times.
  • Perfect Blue: While Mima is trying out an acting bit on a crime procedural series, her two managers are discussing her part with the writer and producer when they receive a letter. It blows up in the face of one of them, who is later seen with bandaged hands. It was sent by Me-Mania, a Stalker with a Crush.

    Comic Books 
  • In the backup story for Annihilators, Rocket Raccoon receives a mysterious package in the mail. When he signs for it, a gun-toting clown pops out and immediately tries to murder him.
  • A certain special parcel delivered to Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent and his wife Gilda in The Long Halloween. Both targets survive, although Gilda is hospitalized.

    Card Games 
  • One of Magic: The Gathering's joke supplements contains a 'letter bomb' card, which gets shuffled into the opponent's deck and hits him for massive damage when drawn. There was a legit card that has a similar damaging effect though it worked by poisoning (turning face up then being shuffled into their deck) one of their cards rather than being planted.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Death Note fic A Cure for Love Astraea sends L a letter laced with sarin.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 16, Swift-Pad mentions an incident in which a wolf, corrupted by dark magic, attempted to send a letter that included a combination of runes that would have resulted in harm to the recipient. Fortunately, it was intercepted, and ever since then border security has included such things on their list to watch out for, and check all mail that's sent in and out of the Packlands to be safe.
  • Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past: A quartet of doxies concealed in a fake birthday present are probably not enough to be lethal to a human, although Hedwig is almost blinded by them, and their teeth are venomous. The real menace, however, is that in order to defend himself, Harry has to resort to magic, which gets him in trouble with the Ministry as he's underage. And when Vernon Dursley, who already hated Harry, sees the letter that the Ministry sends, it drives him into a seething rage; knowing that Harry isn't allowed to use magic to defend himself, he very nearly kills Harry.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted and spoofed in Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet. Detective Nick Carter receives a perfume-scented letter. He's savvy and immediately suspects it might contain a bomb, and uses "a gift from his friend Roentgen" to check it. It's just an invitation/free ticket to a nightclub.
  • The Batman (2022): The Riddler mails Bruce Wayne a bomb. Bruce isn't home, so Alfred Pennyworth opens the package. He realizes it is a bomb and hurls it away, so the explosion only hospitalizes instead of killing him.
  • Blazing Saddles: "Candygram for Mongo!"
  • In the 2010 vigilante film Boy Wonder, Sean Donovan writes a letter to the criminal who killed his mother, saying he forgives him but he must know if his father hired him to commit the crime. So the criminal won't incriminate himself, Sean tells him to send back the enclosed self-addressed envelope with a red stamp if his father is innocent, or a black stamp if guilty. The criminal licks the stamp and dies on the floor of his cell. It was the red stamp, but Sean had already killed his father thinking he was guilty.
  • The hitman Trabucco (Walter Matthau) disposes of one of his victims this way, early in the film Buddy Buddy.
  • In The Front Page, Earl Williams once sent a mail bomb to a famous industrialist as part of his anti-capitalist activities but it was returned due to insufficient postage, blew the roof off his boarding house, and led to his arrest for illegal possession of explosives.
  • In Holmes & Watson, Holmes is sent a box containing a mosquito infected with a deadly plague in an attempt to kill him before he can testify at Moriarty's trial.
  • The Inspectors, a film about US Postal Inspectors, follows the investigation of a mail bomb murder (interestingly enough, the Postal Inspectors are a Real Life law enforcement agency... in fact, they are the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the United States.)
  • Jingle All the Way has fun with this. Myron, a disgruntled postman, threatens a radio DJ with a package that he claims is a bomb that he discovered in the mail and kept for use in an emergency. It accidentally falls out of his hand and is revealed to be...a music box. Later, when the police show up, he threatens them with a different package. When the police let him go a retired bomb squad officer claims it's just a "harmless Christmas package", which blows up in his face, only turning his face black. When Myron hears the explosion he is surprised and disgusted that somebody really had sent a bomb through the postal system.
  • In Magnum Force, Harry and his assistant both have their mailboxes wired with explosives when the mailbox key is turned. Harry realizes it and disarms the bomb, but is unable to get over to his unsuspecting partner's apartment in time to save the latter's life.
  • Package bombs delivered by a motorcycle courier are the weapon of choice for the Mad Bomber in Quick.
  • In the Swedish film Sprängaren (adapted from the novel by the same name), the murderer sends the protagonist, who is a journalist, a bomb package. Subverted in that the protagonist never receives it. It explodes at the post office, killing one of the employees, and the protagonist doesn't find out that it was addressed to her until later.
  • In Thirteen Women, Ursula mails Bobby a box of poisoned chocolates for his birthday.
  • No God, No Master: The anarchists mailed package bombs to different business and government targets, though most of them didn't reach anyone as they had insufficient postage. None actually managed to kill any target.
  • Parodied in the short film The Box Assassin, where the eponymous hitman has the ability to conceal himself in a box of any size, so gets himself mailed to his target.

  • In the book A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva, the death is caused by a letter bomb sent to an ex-Mossad agent turned Nazi hunter.
  • Dungeon Core Chat Room: Innearth and some friends deal with a cyber-bully by persuading him to accept a traded monster — carrying a portal anchor, which is then used to bombard the target dungeon with explosives and poisons.
  • The Stephen King short story "Everything's Eventual" centers around a young slacker hired by a mysterious firm because he has the ability to compose "glyphs" that can drive the viewer to suicide. They send him a list of names and addresses, and he puts the glyphs on letters.
  • The Winter Queen: Erast Fandorin receives a bomb package on the day of his marriage. He survives; his wife doesn't.
  • Sherlock Holmes is sent a little ivory box containing a sharp spring infected with a deadly disease in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective". He sees through it immediately, but plays along and uses self-starvation and make-up in order to pretend he's dying from the disease, and trick the killer into confessing. He nearly breaks the charade when he sees Watson about to pick it up.
  • Wasp (1957): One of the protagonist's diversionary tactics is to send packages to several enemy officials, which contain a loudly ticking mechanism and a message saying "This package could have killed you". He later sends another batch which looks and sounds exactly the same on the outside... except this time the bombs are real.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of The Avengers (1960s) has letters containing an enhanced cold.
  • An UnSub sends people bomb packages in the Criminal Minds episode "Won't Get Fooled Again". Also played with in "Poison", in which the UnSub tries to kill his former bosses by poisoning the glue strips of envelopes they are using.
  • Dad's Army: The platoon is given a mission to test security at an army base, and decide to infiltrate disguised as firemen. As usual, things go wrong and they end up fighting a real fire elsewhere. A high-ranking officer arrives and tells Mainwaring not to worry as his 'other plan' worked. Turns out Wilson sent a fake bomb in the mail.
  • Doctor Who: In "Kerblam!", it turns out that one of the titular company's employees plans to kill thousands of innocent customers by including explosives in their deliveries, in an attempt to get the company into trouble. The customers' deaths are prevented, but some of the other employees had already been killed.
  • Forever Knight: In the Season 3 premiere, a Mad Bomber gives a gift-wrapped package to his girlfriend who is an airline pilot, thus bypassing security. He then uses his mobile phone to activate the bomb after she's taken off. Later Da Chief receives another giftwrapped package which seems to be a Red Herring when it only contains chocolates from the police commissioner, but when the package starts making the same sound that Detective Knight heard on the black box flight recorder when the last bomb activated, they realise the bomb is hidden beneath the plastic tray holding the chocolates.
  • Jonathan Creek had a writer poisoned with a hallucinating drug contained in an enclosed letter glue from some fan mail. Once he licked the letter he went a bit nuts and managed to stab himself in the back with a sword.
  • In the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "The Saint" a social worker is killed by a lye bomb delivered in the mail.
  • In the Law & Order episode "Big Bang", a physics professor's wife is killed by a letter bomb. While the bomb itself was not meant to be lethal, the letter opener the victim used was blown into the woman's throat, killing her.
  • Monk puts a spin on this one in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect". Monk is working on a mail bomb murder case and must figure out how his prime suspect was able to send the bomb while in a coma. And, of course, he does. The suspect had glued the packages to the top of the inside of the mailboxes, which wouldn't be found and delivered until the glue wore off, which would take weeks. The suspect had been planning to establish an alibi during the time by getting arrested for speeding and going to jail for the duration, only to end up in an accident that put him in a coma instead.
  • NCIS had DiNozzo contract pneumonic plague this way. He got better.
  • The Professionals:
    • In "Hunter/Hunted", Doyle receives a package in a plain brown wrapper. Knowing he hasn't mail-ordered anything from an adult bookstore, Bodie and Doyle carefully cut open the package to find a stick of gelignite harmlessly wired to Moriarty's Police Law, a taunt against Doyle by a Dirty Cop he put away.
    • In "The Untouchables", Doyle receives word of an assassination attempt on an Arab politician. CI5 stake him out, but the man arrives home without incident. Then a boy on a bike turns up to deliver the newspapers, and Doyle realises too late there's a rolled-up newspaper already sticking out the mail slot which explodes the moment the politician removes it.
  • In the fifth-season premiere of Sisters, the first Foreshadowing of Teddy's husband's impending murder is when they receive one of these. She's opening it, assuming it's a wedding gift, when he suddenly grabs it and throws it away just as it explodes (he's a detective preparing to testify against a drug cartel who wants to ensure his silence).
  • In Warehouse 13, a teenaged Stalker with a Crush uses this as his method of revenge once he gets his hands on Poe's quill pen.


    Tabletop Games 
  • d20 Modern has rules for sending any spell via email to affect the person who opens it (or even teleporting an assassin to them via IM for a sneak attack).
  • This is the M.O. of the villain Death's Messenger from the Dark Champions sourcebook Murderer's Row.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has Explosive Runes (as mentioned in the OotS example), The Sepia Snake Sigil (which paralyzes readers), the various Symbol of... spells, and cursed scrolls that have nasty effects when read.
  • Exalted has Bureaucracy Charms that allow you to write a Strongly Worded Letter with such venom that it actually does damage to the reader.
  • The anger mages of Unknown Armies have a spell that lets them enchant a letter, note, or e-mail with another one of their spells (which can include damaging spells).

    Video Games 
  • One case in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney involved one of these. Specifically, a poisoned stamp that the recipient was asked to use on his response letter.
  • Eternal Darkness had an assassination attempt at Charlemagne by sending him a scroll with a magick attack. Unfortunately, Anthony opens it first and spends the next 600+ years cursed in agony locked in a room. (And Charlemagne still gets killed.)
  • In the backstory of Fallout: New Vegas, the Courier had been hired to deliver a package to a community that had grown up in an abandoned military base. Unfortunately, the base was full of nuclear missiles, which the package automatically activated. The sole survivor of the ensuing holocaust now carries a major grudge against the Courier.
  • At the start of Final Fantasy IV, the protagonist is tasked with what first appears to be a simple Fetch Quest: Deliver a "Package"/"Bomb Ring"/"Carnelian Signet" (depending on version) to a nearby village. To his horror, the item activates on its own upon arrival and conjures monsters that torch the entire village. In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years another enemy tries a similar trick, but this time it backfires.
  • inFAMOUS begins with an average mailman named Cole MacGrath being tricked into opening a package containing a bomb-like weapon called the Ray Sphere, which activates the device and causes an explosion that wipes out multiple city blocks around him. He survives (relatively) unharmed because as a superhuman Conduit, the energy from the Ray Sphere just gave him electrical superpowers instead of killing him.
  • Paradise Killer: Half of the council was killed by a demon smuggled into their chambers in a containment crate, then remotely opened when they convened.
  • A serial killer in Trauma Team sends mailbombs. Actually, she impersonates a deliverywoman, so there's no record of the packages being sent.
  • In at least one of the Worms games, one weapon consists of a bomber dropping explosive envelopes (heavily affected by the wind).

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • One Batman: The Animated Series episode had the Scarecrow dosing people with his patented "fear toxin" by telegram.
  • In the Corner Gas Animated episode "Dream Waiver", Hank sets up a bunch of fake emergencies to convince Karen and Davis that they need to retake their first aid training. In one scenario, Hank pretends that he was bitten by a snake sent to him in the mail by his "international enemies", then he fails Karen and Davis for thinking that the correct response is to Suck Out the Poison.
  • In the Donald Duck cartoon "Donald's Lucky Day", Donald is a delivery boy who unwittingly delivers a time bomb set to explode at midnight. He only finds out just moments before it goes off.
  • In one Justice Friends short, Disgruntled Postman attempted to mail a bomb to the US President, only to be stopped by Major Glory. What made it ridiculous was that it was a very big and obvious bomb.
  • In one The Pink Panther short, the Panther is forced at gunpoint by a crook to deliver a package containing a bomb to an embassy within half an hour. Complicating the matter is an Angry Guard Dog who won't let the Panther pass, even tossing the package back out when the Panther leaves it behind the gate. Fortunately, the Panther gets out of the mess when the package falls into the sewer and goes off under a manhole cover the crook was standing on, propelling him right into the dog.
  • Happened to KBBL in The Simpsons when Bill and Marty didn't give Bart the elephant he asked for. Their boss tells them that the station is being bombarded by angry calls and letter bombs. A pile of envelopes is shown on a nearby desk and several of them explode at once.
  • An attempted one happens in Smiling Friends, although it's subverted at the last second. The hobbit-like critter Mip is on a journey to reach the princess of the Enchanted Forest and present her with a gift... said gift being an IED. He was trying to kill her due to his Stalker with a Crush attitude, although a fight between Charlie and Pim results in Mip's death, to which he simply shifts the delivery onto Pim in his stead. Just before it blows up, the princess tosses it out a window. The entire thing is based on the real-life case of Ricardo López, a reoccurring topic of discussion for series co-creator Zach Hadel.
  • TaleSpin:
  • Parodied in The Venture Bros.. The Monarch mailed Dr. Venture a live cobra, but by the time Dr. Venture actually got around to opening his mail, it was dead.
  • The Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoon "Sugar and Spies" has the Coyote delivering a bomb in a package to the Road Runner, but it gets sent back to him for insufficient postage. It explodes before he can retrieve another stamp for it.

    Real Life 
  • In 2001 there was a series of attacks which consisted of powdered anthrax being posted to various people. Read all about it on the other wiki.
  • Ted Kaczynski carried out attacks mainly consisting of posting bombs to universities and airlines. Hence the nickname he's more commonly known by; The Unabombernote .
  • One of the first Real Life letter bombs was constructed by Martin Ekenberg in 1904. He tried to kill a former employer and frame the Social-Democratic party...
  • The first known reference to a bomb being sent by post was in the diary of a Danish historian named Bolle Willum Luxdorph. In a 1764 entry, he mentions a package full of gunpowder (with a flintlock mechanism designed to go off when it was opened) injuring a colonel (and later being followed up with a letter threatening to send a larger one).
  • A Darwin Award nominee - the attempted letter-bomber who neglected to pay enough postage. The letter was Returned To Sender... and so was he.
  • C-list actress Sharron Guess Richardson sent ricin-laced letters to government officials (including the President and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg) in 2013. None of the attempts were successful (such officials have their mail screened, and such an attempt would never have succeeded) and when caught, she tried to blame her husband for it. In July of 2014, she was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the federal charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin, after making a plea deal.
  • When the rivalry between Scotland's "Old Firm" football clubs flared up in 2011, a few high profile Celtic fans were sent letter bombs.
  • Icelandic pop singer Bj√∂rk found herself just barely missing one of these in 1996 thanks to Loony Fan Ricardo López. López was obsessed with the singer and resented her interracial relationship with the Jamaican-Scottish DJ Goldie, leading him to prepare and mail a letter bomb rigged to fire sulfuric acid in Björk's face before committing suicide on video. Thankfully, police were able to intercept his acid bomb before it could even reach Björk, though the very fact that López even sent the bomb in the first place traumatized her in the years following.
  • Theodore Roosevelt was twice targeted by letter bombs during his time as a police commissioner of New York City, first as a package delivered to his office in August 1895, which was almost set off before the person doing so realized what it was (it turned out to be filled with sawdust that was rigged to ignite), and the second time as an actual letter in April 1896 while he was away attending the funeral of a cousin. Lacking stamps when it was delivered to the post office, the envelope was partly opened and identified as a bomb (made with matches and gunpowder) by a postal worker, then taken to police headquarters and defused by a police detective before Roosevelt ever came in that day. Roosevelt, for his part, refused to be intimidated either time.
  • Rare document dealer Mark Hofmann sent bomb packages to two different people in order to distract investigations into him selling forgeries. A third bomb went off in his own car, injuring him, and this sent police off the trail. He was eventually caught when witnesses to the first bombing identified a letter jacket that Hoffman owned, identifying him as the one who delivered the package.
  • The 1919 Anarchist Bombings involved a group of Galleanist Italian-born anarchists in the US sending numerous package bombs to prominent business and government targets. Most were stopped in post offices as they had insufficient postage, and none actually killed anyone, although one unfortunate maid of a US Senator lost her hands when she opened the package. Others completely failed to explode. A bomb package was hand-delivered to US Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer as a result, but it killed the bomber instead when it detonated prematurely. The First Red Scare resulted, with thousands of foreign-born "radicals" arrested without warrants and deported. The infamous Sacco and Vanzetti case was likely related as well, since they were Galleanists (possibly involved in this, although it's not proven), later put to death for two robbery-related murders that happened the next year probably due to the anti-anarchist hysteria.
  • In 1978 Synanon, a drug rehabilitation programme turned cult, attempted to assassinate lawyer Paul Morantz by stuffing a live rattlesnake in his mailbox. Morantz was bitten as he attempted to retrieve his mail (the cult had cut the snake's rattle off, giving Morantz no warning) and spent six days in the hospital.

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Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Letter Bomb, Mail Bomb


Trauma Team

Alyssa has an absolute BLAST with her new mail-order teddy bear.

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Main / YouGotMurder

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