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The trunks of cars are mainly used for stashing items that take up too much space in the cab of the vehicle. In fiction, generally, the trunks will be used for storing people, alive or dead. This can be for several reasons:

  • The person in the trunk is alive, trapped in the trunk, and being taken somewhere by some villain.
  • The person in the trunk is alive, and is hiding in the trunk to follow whoever is driving the car.
  • The person in the trunk is alive, and is being taken somewhere willingly, riding in the trunk to hide from authorities who might stop the car.
  • The person in the trunk is dead, and the driver may or may not have put the person in there.

Compare Dead Man's Chest, Girl in a Box. See also Trunk Shot.

Examples of Punk in the Trunk include:


Anime and Manga

  • In the Cowboy Bebop episode, "Mushroom Samba", Edward stows away in the trunk of a bounty hunter's car so she can get into town and obtain some food.
    • As it turns out, the police don't take well to finding an unconscious child in the trunk of a car during a routine check. Even when she's just asleep and crawls away during the ensuing rucus.
  • In The Breaker (Manhwa), Sosul is first discovered in the trunk of a car. Shi Woon and Alex knew they were supposed to be transporting some "cargo", but they didn't expect it to be a girl.

Comic Books

  • In the Birds of Prey series, Lady Shiva is presumed dead after being attacked by the assassin Cheshire. In reality Shiva was simply knocked out and kidnapped, and Catwoman ends up finding her bound and gagged in the trunk of Cheshire's car.
  • Subverted twice in the X Men graphic novel "God Loves, Man Kills." Tracking some villains surveying the mansion, Kitty Pryde uses her phasing powers to sneak into their car's trunk. Unfortunately, the trunk has sensors that detect her presence, and they activate knockout gas. Later, they try to execute her while the trunk is still closed, only to find the trunk empty, as she only inhaled a portion of the gas and retained enough consciousness to escape.


Film

  • Quentin Tarantino seems to like this trope, along with Trunk Shot.
    • In Kill Bill Volume 1, after killing O-Ren, The Bride stuffs Sofie into the trunk of her car. The Bride stops on a hill above a hospital, telling Sofie that she's only letting her live so she can tell Bill what she's done. She pulls Sofie out of the trunk and rolls her down the hill.
    • In Jackie Brown, a gun smuggler (played by Samuel L. Jackson) has one of his underlings (played by Chris Tucker) hide in his trunk, under the auspices of being ready for an ambush. He drives around the corner, pops the trunk, and shoots him twice.
    • In Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Blonde brings a kidnapped police officer to their hideout in the trunk of his car.
    • In From Dusk till Dawn, the bank teller that the Gecko brothers took hostage can be seen in a cutaway of their stolen car's trunk, bound and gagged.
    • In Pulp Fiction, after Vincent shoots Marvin in the face in Jules's car, they eventually put his body in the trunk, clean up the blood and gore, then drive it to Monster Joe's Truck and Tow to be disappeared.
  • Also common in James Bond films:
    • The Man with the Golden Gun: While Mary Goodnight is trying to hide a homing device in the trunk of Scaramanga's car, she's shoved into the trunk and the car is driven away. She eventually gets the trunk open, only to find she's hundreds of feet in the air.
    • Diamonds Are Forever: After being gassed unconscious, Bond is put into the trunk of a car by Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd and taken to a construction site to be disposed of.
    • Quantum of Solace: The Cold Open features Bond in a frantic car chase, after which it's revealed that he was transporting Mr. White in the trunk.
  • In Goodfellas, Billy Batts is put in the trunk after the trio of VillainProtagonists believe they've killed him and are taking him off to bury him somewhere.
  • The Transporter has its protagonist Frank Martin coming across a woman in his trunk (played by Shu Qi) upon breaking one of his rules (don't look in the package), which sets up the main plot of fighting a human trafficking scheme that we ultimately learn is being headed by the woman's own father.
  • Sin City - After Miho kills Jackie and his friends, the girls of Old Town have to dispose of the bodies and fast because Jackie was a hero cop. Dwight offers to dispose of the bodies in the nearby tar pits. The car Gail gets doesn't have a big enough trunk, so most of the bodies are chopped up to fit, and Jackie gets to ride shotgun with his head barely still attached.
  • Analyze This: near the beginning, the scene where the psychiatrist crashes into the mafia car, popping the trunk open.
    • In the sequel, Robert De Niro's character gets a job as a used-car salesman and uses the number of bodies a given car's trunk could hold as a selling point.
  • The Hangover - a pissed off naked Asian guy pops out of the trunk when the dudes search it.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Jessica puts Roger in the trunk of her car after knocking him out with a frying pan... so he wouldn't get hurt, you see.
  • In Mystery Date, the car in question has a leaky exhaust. This turns out to be relevant.
  • Marty in Back to The Future by Biff's goons.
  • In Help, Ringo is kidnapped and put into the trunk by Mad Scientists Foot and Algernon.
  • The Villain Protagonist Donnelly in the short film China Lake has a thing for putting his victims inside the trunks of their own cars.
  • In second installment of Bad Boys, Lowrey and Burnett forget they drive a suspect KKK member in their trunk. He starts to thrash about when the protagonists are being admonished by their captain for their last mess-up.

 Captain: Running people over is not enough for you? Now you're into kidnapping?


Literature

  • In American Gods, the bodies of the children that disappear in Lakeside are hidden in the trunk of the klunker, a ruined car put on the ice of the frozen lake each year. When the ice breaks, the dead child becomes a sacrifice to help the town stay prosperous.
  • In the Sookie Stackhouse book Club Dead, Sookie throws a weakened Bill in the trunk of a borrowed car to keep him out of the sun.
  • In Tea With The Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy, the protagonist is abducted and driven somewhere in the trunk of a car.
  • In The Fuller Memorandum, Bob gets abducted by cultists and stuffed into the trunk of a car, prompting him to give a slightly incoherent rant about how all how cars should be required to have transparent trunks.
  • An Older Than Feudalism subversion exists in The Bible: Abraham has his wife Sarah locked in a box (a literal trunk) because he fears that she will be taken by the Egyptians on account of her beauty. This ploy does not work, as he didn't stop to think that maybe, just maybe, the box would have to pass through Customs.
  • In Artemis Fowl the Fowl family limo has a specially air conditioned trunk for this purpose.
  • In one of The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton a Character Of The Week proves he's not a Dirty Coward by hiding in the trunk of the villain's car to escape from the house where they are being held captive and get help.


Live Action TV

  • In 24's second season, when Kim Bauer and her boyfriend Miguel are taking Megan to Kim's aunt's house, using Megan's father's stolen car, she is pulled over for speeding. The cop opens the trunk, which contains the corpse of Megan's mother.
  • In season 3 of Dexter, someone ambushes Dexter in the parking-garage as he's leaving work, ties him up and throws him in a trunk before driving off with him. Dexter - and the viewer - naturally assumes that it's the resident antagonist, The Skinner, taking him off to torture and murder, and Dex tensely frees himself of his constrains and readies himself to pounce the moment the trunk is opened - and so he does, squarely hitting... one of his colleagues, who'd chosen this rather melodramatic way to cart him off to a secret Bachelor-party. The rest of his colleagues are both impressed and amused by the reaction, and Dex rapidly recovers his cool.
  • Touched By an Angel - The Celebrity of the Week (Jack Ritter, if memory serves correctly) gets carjacked and stuffed in the trunk; after the car gets abandoned on the side of the road, the rest of the episode is a race against time to find him before he bakes to death.
  • On NYPD Blue a random car got in an accident with the car Andy & Bobby were in; they heard thumping & screaming from the trunk, which they popped to discover he had a woman in the trunk of his car.
  • Shane kidnaps JD in this way in Harpers Island, wrongly assuming that JD murdered Kelly.
  • Team Westen of Burn Notice often transports captured enemies this way.
  • In one episode of NCIS, the Creep of the Week is holding a navy officer for ransom, keeping her in the trunk of a car. This leads to a race against time to find her, as said Creep didn't know she had asthma (and therefore was in danger of suffocation before his deadline would come).
  • In Eureka, Fargo tries to fob his AI car Tabitha off on Larry, who refuses to accept her. Tabitha is self-aware and insulted enough to pursue both of them, lock them in her trunk, and drive around for a while until they're convinced she's going to kill them. She eventually lets Fargo go so he can save the town, though.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, when Malcolm and Reese realized that Francis decided to give a concert ticket to a girl he just met instead of either of them, the two decided to sabotage his date. The final act of sabotage managed to work out after Francis's car got pulled over by a cop and the cop finding the two stuffed themselves in the trunk of the car.
  • When Will works as a car salesman in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he has trouble selling a car to a group of Wiseguys until he shows them how well he fits in the trunk.
  • Nick Knight from Forever Knight obtained a vintage car explicitly to invoke this trope if he is caught away from shelter at dawn.
  • In The Sentinel episode "Girl Next Door", Blair rescues a woman who's been trapped in her trunk by her ex. Unfortunately she turns out to be a criminal who winds up dragging Blair--at gunpoint--into an armed robbery and a drug-smuggling operation. At the end of the episode, he takes satisfaction in stashing her back in the trunk.
  • In the first season finale of Life, Charlie Crews abducts the man who committed the murders for which he was wrongfully convicted and spends several hours driving around L.A. with the man in the trunk of his car. Amazingly, the abductee manages to survive with only a few cuts and scrapes when the car is T-boned so hard that it flips over and lands upside down.
  • The Professionals. Doyle is put in a trunk by the bad guys for later disposal, only for the car to be stolen by joyriding hoodlums. He eventually gets himself free and the car gets driven off the road for no apparent reason. No-one was harmed though as there were only a couple of crash test dummies in the front seat.


Music

  • In Eminem's song "Stan" (except in the radio edit), Stan says that his girlfriend is in the trunk of his car.
  • The music video for Kanye West's song "Flashing Lights" has himself locked up in the trunk of a model's car where she brutally murders him with a shovel.
  • "Goodbye Earl" by The Dixie Chicks is about a woman who (with help from her friend from high school) kills her abusive ex-husband by poisoning his food. She then disposes of his body down by the lake, and puts the body in the trunk to facilitate this.
  • Taken very literally in an early AFI video, with a literal punk in the trunk who is taken someplace and stabbed to death. Yep, nice.
  • The Tragically Hip song Locked In The Trunk Of A Car, which is pretty self-explanatory. It's actually a dramatization of an incident in which a group of Quebec separatist terrorists took a government official hostage and stuffed him in the trunk of a car after knocking him out. He was later killed.


Professional Wrestling

  • On WWE Raw Kane and Triple H were in a feud (the ever popular Katie Vick angle), and at the end of the episode Kane tossed Trip into a car's trunk and drove off - but then we saw the car trunk pop open just as they were going to black! Oops. Dealt with at the top of the next episode:

 Triple H: I've got a special guest gonna come out here later - but before we come to that, I'd like to give a little personal message to Kane. Kane, this is just advice, but next time you try to accost somebody by sticking them into the trunk of a car, you should try to make sure that the trunk does not have one of those child safety latches on the roof - I mean, you can just pull it and jump OUT of the trunk before the person even drives off. Just a bit of advice.


Stand Up Comedy

  • The Cheech and Chong routine "Pedro and the Man at the Drive-In" (on the Los Cochinos album) is about smuggling someone into the drive-in in the trunk, and then being unable to get the trunk open.


Video Games

  • In Assassin's Creed II, when Desmond and Lucy are escaping from Abstergo, they make it to the parking garage. Lucy has Desmond hide in her car's trunk on the way to the safehouse.
  • Valerie Hawthorne in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, was stuffed in the trunk of the car after being killed.
    • In the first game, after killing Ben Goodman, Damon Gant stuffed the body in the trunk of Edgeworth's car.
    • In Investigations 2, a pair of kidnappers stash their live victim in a large box thrown into the trunk of a taxi.
  • The aptly named "Dead Skunk In The Trunk" mission in Grand Theft Auto III has you drive a car with a dead mobster in the trunk while his "family" chases you.
  • In the first mission of the Russian campaign of Empire Earth, Grigor starts out hiding from the authorities in the trunk of his friend's Pyotr car and planning to escape Voronezh. However, he is aware that the trunk is "the first place the guards check" and thus they look for a better vehicle to smuggle him out. If they try to use the original car, they are caught and laugh at how Grigor tried to escape hiding in a trunk "like in a bad spy movie".


Webcomics

  • This trunk ninja in the webcomic Supernormal Step.


Western Animation

  • Family Guy does this a few times:
    • In the episode "Don't Make Me Over", in a cutaway gag, Neil Armstrong runs into someone after filming the moon landing. The man wonders why he is on Earth, because just saw the moon landing on TV. Neil Armstrong kills the man with his astronaut's helmet and stuffs him into the trunk of his car.
    • In the episode "8 Simple Rules for Buying My Teenage Daughter", Stewie knocks out his babysitter's boyfriend, because he is jealous of him. He throws him in the trunk of Brian's car. Weeks later, he completely forgets about him.
  • In an episode of King of the Hill, Hank, Dale, and Kahn are in Mexico, trying to cross the border to the US, in order to escape a fine that they were sentenced to pay. Dale says that if the Border Patrol sees Hank and himself, they will be fine, but Kahn will get them arrested if he is seen. Kahn hides in the car's trunk, but gets out of it after Dale freaks out at the border crossing.
  • Done several times on Beavis and Butthead:
    • The two get thrown in the trunk themselves on at least two occasions: By Todd in "Canned", and by Muddy in the film.
    • In "A Great Day", the two stumble upon a man who is stuffing a dead body in his trunk, who promptly pays them to go away and not say anything about it.


Real Life

  • This happened to so often in the GDR that its border guards were taught a good method to immediately find out if there was someone hiding in a car's trunk: As a person is usually heavier than normal luggage, the car will be pushed down by the springs on its rear, and this pushes the front up. So, if the car's headlights shine up at any higher angle than they are supposed to, there is someone hiding in its back.
  • This was a popular method of getting people into drive-in movies without paying.
  • Parodied by those Halloween decorations that consist of a disembodied plastic hand with a hook that attaches to the inside of the trunk so it looks like someone's hand is hanging out.
  • According to one story this troper heard, if you are locked in the trunk of a car, it's possible to push out the rear lights/indicators and stick your arm out to attract attention and not suffocate/cook yourself.
  • Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard # 401 requires glow-in-the-dark release catches inside the trunk of 2003 and newer vehicles built for the US market.
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