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Living in an Empty Room
A traumatized or just plain crazy person lives in a barren, empty room.
Needs Examples Tropeworthy? Up For Grabs

(permanent link) added: 2013-03-15 12:57:44 sponsor: BlackDragon (last reply: 2013-03-23 05:27:48)

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There wasn't anything in your room - only a bed and a small desk. It looked like a prison cell. No television set... no family pictures... not even a poster. A lifeless room... almost like your empty heart.
Rose
That's why I tried to keep you out.

There's a certain, undefinable quality about a room that makes it feel 'lived in'. Lacking this is what makes some visual media sets look like the characters are Living in a Furniture Store - because they're lacking that certain quality. But it's possible to take it a bit further than that - a room, a home, which is completely barren. There's a bed there - or maybe just a mattress on the floor. Whatever lightsource there is, will be bare and utilitarian. There's nothing there that doesn't serve a clear purpose. It gives a chilling impression, because no normal human being would deliberately choose to live like that.

And that's a key to this trope - it has to be a deliberate trope. Nobody can really blame the inmates of your average Prison for having barren rooms (though even there, creative prisoners usually find a way to spice things up a bit), nor can a homeless or destitute man be blamed for sleeping on a dirty mattress on the floor. These characters are different from this. They have the means to live normally, they just don't want to, for whatever reason.

  • Parker from Leverage turns out to sleep on a bed in the middle of a vast, empty storage-room. When the rest of the team go there (by necessity), they comment that while creepy, it's... not really unexpected, where Parker is concerned.
  • As mentioned in the quote at the top, Raiden/Jack from Metal Gear Solid, due to his traumatic past as a Child Soldier
  • Patrick Jane, the main character of The Mentalist, is living in a rather nice, big, fancy house... but his bedchamber is completely empty except for a mattress on the floor. The only splash of color is a smiley-face painted in blood over it... left behind by the serial-killer who murdered his wife and child in that same room.

Seen it... well, a bunch of times, if not quite a million. I just can't recall any of the other offhand. In fact, if anyone has watched Leverage more recently than I, some sharpened details on the example from that one would be appreciated.
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