The best place to start when discussing self storage in pop culture is almost certainly Storage Hunters and Storage Wars, the two shows where it takes centre stage.
These programmes follow the adventures of professional auctioneers as they bid on a number of abandoned storage units, lockers and shipping containers. Sometimes they come across amazing, valuable finds; sometimes they find a bunch of total garbage.
Image credit: History Channel.
It’s surprisingly exciting stuff, and it captures much of the appeal of self storage in real life: if you don’t get an incredible trinket out of someone else’s disused storage unit, you can rent your own while you wait for yours to appreciate in value
To be honest, we’re not really sure what happened in Primer, Shane Carruth’s mind-bending 2004 time-travel film. It certainly seemed smart and impressive, and sometimes we like to tell people it’s one of our favourite movies at parties so we also seem smart and impressive. But in reality, it was pretty incomprehensible, and if real-life space-time voyages ever become a thing, we’d really prefer if they were in the Back to the Future style. You know: fast car, mad scientist. All that good stuff.
Image credit: StudioCanal.
Still, the time machine was kept in a storage unit, so it earns its place on our list.
The buddy-cop film is now a time-honoured cinematic tradition: a stoic, reserved police officer who plays by the rules is paired with a loose cannon man on the edge who doesn’t care how it’s done…so long as it’s done. They bicker for hours, there are some hijinks (during which the straight-laced cop looks constantly exasperated) and then they beat the bad guy and become best friends.
Image credit: Warner Bros.
Lethal Weapon might not have invented the genre, but it certainly kicked off the buddy cop renaissance. Unlike a certain by-the-book cop, we will never get too old for...this sort of thing. Even today, there’s a good argument that nobody’s yet topped the work of Murtaugh and Martin Riggs, the original dynamic duo.
Except in Lethal Weapon 2 where Riggs and Murtaugh don’t get the bad guy - an overhanging storage unit crushes him to heroically save the day. We are only disappointed that it did not join the team for 3 and 4 instead of Joe Pesci, who is usually cool, but was annoying and useless in these films
For some reason, self storage is portrayed in a pretty grim light when it takes centre stage in the movies. Why can’t there be a storage-focused screwball comedy – an affable Paul Rudd type hits it off with a kooky, effervescent Jennifer Aniston while keeping a collection of treasured family photos in a secure, convenient, customisable unit? Why is it always Hannibal Lecter storing a severed head in a pickle jar?
Image credit: Reuters.
Still, we take some comfort in the fact that these films tend not to do very well. Nobody much remembers Self Storage, a low-budget Eric Roberts vehicle about a mad doctor performing grisly experiments in his personal storage unit, or serial killer film Storage 24, which made…£44 total. Portray storage facilities as labyrinthine halls of chaos and gruesome murder at your peril, Hollywood!
That’s more like it! In 2012’s Skyfall, James Bond retrieves his famous Aston Martin DB5 from his personal storage unit. Goldfinger was set in – and released – in 1964, so his beloved car was kept safe for a good 48 years.
Image credit: MGM.
There’s also the eponymous Skyfall estate, where Bond, M, and Albert Finney (for some reason) retrieve a huge arsenal of dynamite, booby traps and guns from on-site storage facilities.
Disclaimer: Access Self Storage would like to express its strong opposition to storing a huge arsenal of dynamite, booby traps, and guns in its units. It is not legal, and you are very, very likely to hurt yourself.
[SPOILERS] How I Met Your Mother: a story of romance, camaraderie, and the miserable, crushing loneliness that can drive you back into the arms of an ex you were clearly unsuited to even decades after you decided, perfectly sensibly, that you were better off as friends.
Storage features heavily in “Farhampton”, the Series 8 premiere, where Barney Stinson, a man who habitually disrespects women in apparently comedic fashion, holds tender keepsakes of his ex-girlfriend, whom he habitually disrespected, in a secure self storage unit. Aww, he really does care!
Image credit: CBS.
Arrested Development, Mitch Hurwitz’s three-season saga centred on the squabbling Bluth dynasty, started life as a light-hearted sitcom with dense plotting, intelligent writing, and some incredibly blue men. But in episode two things took a turn for the tragic: an ex-convict, hired by the devious patriarch George Bluth Sr., burned down the family’s storage unit – and with it, their treasured memories and belongings.
Image credit: Netflix.
Del Boy and Rodney are no strangers to storage units, being market traders, wheeler-dealers, and general men-about-town. But after fifteen years of hard luck, it’s a storage unit that finally turns their fortunes around.
Image credit: BBC.
In “Time on our Hands”, the 1996 Only Fools and Horses Christmas Special, Del Boy and Rodney find an antique pocket watch in an old storage unit that sells for millions at auction. They do blow it all by the time the 2003 special rolls around, but you can’t really blame the storage unit for that.
Another buddy cop classic, in episode 9 of HBO’s True Detective, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s True Detectives use a storage unit to help them catch the bad guy. Time may be a flat circle, but self storage is cubic.
Image credit: HBO.
Self storage: it fights crime!
We’re certainly not suggesting you use storage units for nefarious ends. But if you are, like, not a supervillain, you are in no way plotting world domination, and you just happen to own bleeding-edge water vaporising technology that you haven’t yet used for illegal or evil purposes (such as, for example, unleashing a deadly fear toxin on an entire city of innocents) you probably could use a convenient self storage unit - just like Scarecrow did in Batman Begins.
Image credit: Warner Bros.
Well, it's not like you can leave that sort of thing out in the open.