Whether through magic, science, or pure imagination, many of our favorite storytellers love to create things with small exteriors that are disproportionately huge inside. Here are ten things from movies, TV, and literature that are “bigger on the inside.”
1. The Doctor’s TARDIS
Nothing else in all of geekdom can claim to be better known for being bigger on the inside than Doctor Who‘s TARDIS. Rooted entirely in science — sketchy as it may be — this ordinary-looking blue police box (a mid-20th Century phone booth used exclusively by British police) is in reality an incredibly sophisticated time machine-slash-spaceship that can literally go anywhere in time and space. The TARDIS’ interior exists in an alternate or pocket dimension (or something like that), with labyrinthine corridors connecting wildly diverse rooms such as a vast library, an observatory, a pool, collections of exceptionally advanced technology, and the Control Room, where the Doctor famously pilots her. Something so huge and complex would need a massive power source, and the TARDIS has one in the form of a star, frozen in time at the moment it goes supernova. I’m guessing it gets a lot better mileage than a warp drive.
2. Hermione Granger’s Beaded Handbag
On the run from the ultimate wizarding big bad, Lord Voldemort, Harry, Ron, and Hermione benefit from Hermione’s remarkable knowledge of all things magic. In the final book (and second-to-last movie), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, our trio of heroes keep on-the-move, but that doesn’t mean they have to travel light, thanks to the tiny beaded handbag carried by Hermione — which is magically able to carry anything and everything they might need on the inside. Known contents included a tent big enough for three people, various books, Harry’s invisibility cloak, food for their travels, and probably a decent-sized cauldron. It’s the ultimate vacation accessory.
The Potterverse gets bonus points for several other items that are magically bigger on the inside: the Weasley’s tent, as used at the World Quidditch Championships, is a meager camping tent on the outside but inside it was enormous; the average-sized Ford Anglia flying car can seat more than ten people; a bookbag holds a complete library of books; a chest contains a dungeon for holding prisoners; and more.
3. Digory Kirke’s Wardrobe
When Lucy Pevensie steps into the large wooden wardrobe in the attic of Professor Kirke in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, she expects nothing more than a hiding place where she can remain undetected and win a game of hide-and-seek with her siblings. What she finds is a winter wonderland filled with fantastic creatures like the faun Mr. Tumnus, the majestic lion Aslan, and the wicked White Witch. The story goes, as explained in prequel The Magician’s Nephew, that the wardrobe was made from the wood of a special tree that grew from an apple that originated in Narnia, thereby creating a magical portal between our world and the one created by Aslan. But it only worked as a passage between worlds for the Pevensee siblings once, though they would find other means of traveling to Narnia soon enough.
4. Mary Poppins’ Carpetbag
One of the earliest bigger-on-the-inside objects in literature, P.L. Travers gave her magical nanny Mary Poppins this remarkable carpetbag that could carry anything she required. Inside she carried a floor lamp, a wall mirror, a potted plant, and who knows what else. The Banks children got to witness the wonders of this bag firsthand the day that Mary Poppins arrived at their home; they even inspected the inside and found it to be a seemingly empty, ordinary bag. But we all know that looks can be deceiving — especially when this beloved character is involved. A popular recent fan theory wonders if Mary Poppins might have been a Time Lord in disguise.
5. Snoopy’s doghouse
The popular Peanuts dog who can do just about anything — including outsmarting the human kids he spends most of his time with — owns a doghouse that’s just as eccentric and whimsical as he is. The house is filled with Snoopy’s many possessions, which allow him to engage in just about any activity imaginable. The doghouse comes with a den, bathroom, library, rec room, laboratory , guest room, basement, numerous closets, hallways and staircases, and much more. There’s even a servant’s entrance!
6. Oscar’s trashcan
Everyone’s favorite Grouch lives in a trashcan that looks like an ordinary (and filthy) metal trashcan from the outside, but over the years it’s proven to be anything but ordinary. Though it’s often depicted only in total darkness, episodes of Sesame Street over the years have mentioned contents that far exceed its perceived size, such as an Olympic-sized swimming pool, art gallery, kitchen, ice-skating rink, a farm, and a bowling alley. Oscar’s so grumpy all the time… Who knew he had an appreciation for recreational sports and fine art? Oscar also regularly keeps several full-sized elephants in his trashcan as pets.
7. Ramona Flowers’ Subspace Suitcase
Scott Pilgrim’s one true love carries a bag wherever she goes. It looks like a purse, but it’s actually a suitcase — a Subspace Suitcase. Much like Bugs Bunny pulling an impossibly gigantic sledgehammer out of nothing (or maybe from behind his back), Ramona Flowers uses her suitcase to store all manner of useful items, most of which are entirely too big to fit into the bag under normal circumstances. The fictional conceit of the suitcase — not unlike the dimensional doorway of the TARDIS — is the notion of subspace, which has something to do with bending normal space. It’s similar to a wormhole, which allows for super-fast travel between two points too distant from one another to easily traverse. Ramona only uses the purse once or twice in the movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but it’s used much more in the graphic novels.