Created By: Pyroninja42 on September 1, 2011 Last Edited By: Pyroninja42 on September 3, 2011

Architectural Discontinuity

They just can\'t get a building\'s damn layout straight

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Needs a Better Description, Seen It a Million Times, Do We Have This One?, Needs More Examples, Up for Grabs


Alternative Title: Schizophrenic Architecture

Architectural Discontinuity is when in cartoons, the artists just don't give a damn about where things are located. Rooms and hallways are used once and discarded, sometimes replacing or shown near the few "standard" locations.

Examples:

  • In Spongebob Squarepants, the layout of the Krusty Krab (Hell, any building presented) is completely inconsistent. While most of the time Mr. Krabs' office, Cash Register, and the Kitchen have "normal" locations, they'll either be replaced by or pushed closer together for things such as bathrooms, freezers, and other things that only exist for single scenes.
  • Subverted in House of Leaves, where this is used with Malevolent Architecture and Eldritch Abomination to form a labyrinth that shifts and changes shape.
  • Averted in The Simpsons with their home, 742 Evergreen Terrace, as its layout is well known and easy to look up with the least amount of Google Fu.
  • On a wide scale: The layout of Black Mesa in the original Half-Life game seems to be a huge, sprawling complex, but if you actually lay the maps end to end, they twist back over themselves several times.
  • Dexter's Laboratory may be a deliberate version of this. His lab is a wildly inconsistent forest of giant blue computers.
  • The first few Harry Potter films had this problem with the layout of the Hogwarts grounds. Most notable was the way Hagrid's hut seemed to shift around.
  • The Full House house is inconsistent with the way its two stories are portrayed. Look carefully at the scenes in the upstairs hallway and you'll notice that the stairway is at a right angle, which would make the second floor wider than the first (which is impossible considering how the house looks from the outside). Also consider the kitchen stairway, which is on line with the living room stairway and should be on the other end of the upstairs hallway, also impossible if you consider the above.
  • The Flintstones' cave home is highly inconsistent from episode to episode, with no clear layout and new rooms as the plot demands. The use of Wraparound Backgrounds muddles things further, giving the illusion that the house is Bigger on the Inside.
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Okay, I know this is a piss-poor YKTTW, but this is really the best way I can describe it right now. I know I've got the main idea across, its just that my brain is fried and refusing to cooperate. So I'm hoping that just this once you guys will be forgiving and help. Besides, for this YKTTW, I'm declaring Open Season with the Wiki Magic and Rolling Updates, so if you guys can reach a general consensus on something, feel free to add it in. Don't fear, though, I won't abandon this trope, its just that my mental faculties are temporarily disabled.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • September 1, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    How about Architecture As The Plot Demands?

    The only example I can think of now is a known aversion, The Simpsons' house, 742 Evergreen Terrace's layout is well-known, and easy to look up with even the least amount of Google Fu.
  • September 1, 2011
    JonnyB
    On a wide scale: The layout of Black Mesa in the original Half Life game seems to be a huge, sprawling complex, but if you actually lay the maps end to end, they twist back over themselves several times.
  • September 1, 2011
    Pyroninja42
    Architecture As The Plot Demands doesn't describe it well, I don't think. Architectural Discontinuity immediately conveys inconsistency, which is the heart of this (potential) trope.
  • September 1, 2011
    hevendor717
    Dexters Laboratory may be a deliberate version of this. His lab is a wildly inconsistent forest of giant blue computers.
  • September 1, 2011
    pcw2727
    Shouldn't be restricted to cartoons.

    The first few Harry Potter films had this problem with the layout of the Hogwarts grounds. Most notable was the way Hagrid's hut seemed to shift around.
  • September 1, 2011
    Pyroninja42
    I guess it never WAS restricted to cartoons and comics, its just that is where this occurs the most.
  • September 1, 2011
    Maxaxle
    This also happens in video games, especially at loading points (is CTRL-C/CTRL-V so hard?!).
  • September 1, 2011
    Pyroninja42
    How does this happen in video games, specifically? EXPLAIN.
  • September 2, 2011
    TonyG
    • The Full House house is inconsistent with the way its two stories are portrayed. Look carefully at the scenes in the upstairs hallway and you'll notice that the stairway is at a right angle, which would make the second floor wider than the first (which is impossible considering how the house looks from the outside). Also consider the kitchen stairway, which is on line with the living room stairway and should be on the other end of the upstairs hallway, also impossible if you consider the above.
    • The Flintstones' cave home is highly inconsistent from episode to episode, with no clear layout and new rooms as the plot demands. The use of Wraparound Backgrounds muddles things further, giving the illusion that the house is Bigger On The Inside.
  • September 2, 2011
    Pyroninja42
    Anybody have an idea for a better description?
  • September 2, 2011
    deuxhero
  • September 2, 2011
    omnitarian0
    Well, Simpsons wasn't always an aversion: in older episodes the door in the foyer would lead to either the basement or a coat closet.
  • September 2, 2011
    Maxaxle
    To Pyro Ninja: I mean that textures get switched (look closely), hallways get stretched, and features appear on the door that were previously nonexistent (this is especially obvious in the Left 4 Dead series, with the safehouses: blocked-off doors, the ones that are from before or after the loading point you are at, always have blacked-out windows).
  • September 2, 2011
    Abodos
    ^^^My thoughts exactly.
  • September 2, 2011
    LeeM
    Massively averted by British newspaper comic The Perishers, at least when drawn by its original artist Dennis Collins in the 60s and 70s. The layout of the characters' home town was so consistent it might have been based on a real town. Having said that, the interior of Wellington's disused train station often looked bigger than the exterior.
  • September 3, 2011
    Pyroninja42
    Oh, so we have this one? I guess this can die.
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