->''"The term 'Closed circle' is a mystery term. It refers to a situation where contact with the outside world has been severed... This is where the setting is truly allowed to shine. The culprit and other characters are unable to escape the [closed circle]. At the same time, there won't be any new characters from the outside."''
-->-- '''[[MrExposition Itsuki Koizumi]]''', ''[[LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya]]''

%% One quote is sufficient. Please place additional entries on the quotes tab.

This is a stock plot designed to force the characters or players to stay in a location and get involved in the adventure... and not be able to leave until it's done.

The variations on this set up are nearly limitless, and can work in pretty much [[UniversalTropes any and every genre or setting]]. The classic set up though is as follows: The heroes are driving along, when all of a sudden what should happen but an inconvenient flat tire. Unfortunately, the spare is flat too, the rain is coming down, and of course [[DramaticThunder it's also thundering]]. There's no choice but to stay at the HauntedCastle until the weather clears. Lo and behold, the MadScientist living there has just reached the critical phase in his [[Film/TheRockyHorrorPictureShow breakthrough in bio-chemical research]], and ''of course'' something [[GoneHorriblyWrong goes horribly wrong]] and the [[TheUndead undead]] [[ManEatingPlant Venus flytrap]] gets loose and starts picking them off one by one. The heroes are now locked in and can't leave, have to solve the mystery to find the demonic plant's one weakness (hint: [[KillItWithFire it ain't water]]) and hopefully survive long enough to leave.

This plot bears similarities to YouAllMeetInAnInn, coupled with a BrokenBridge, and usually beginning as a DeadlyRoadTrip. Some genres can't get enough of it; ZombieApocalypse movies like ''Film/NightOfTheLivingDead1968'' and its various spinoffs, remakes, and homages all use it, as do most other monster movies and many {{Horror}} stories in general. They'll even up the drama by [[TenLittleMurderVictims picking them off one by one]] until only TheAloner is left to fight for their life. The screenwriting book ''[[TenMoviePlots Save the Cat]]'' calls the premise ''Monster in the House'', and points out that the story falls flat if the protagonist could just cheerfully catch a bus out of danger.

Think it's been around long enough to be a [[DiscreditedTrope Discredited]] or DeadHorseTrope? Nah, it's more like an archetype, a versatile tool used to [[JustForFun/HowToGatherCharacters stick your characters in one spot]] and force them to deal with the danger. The heroes can be [[SpacePolice space cops]], vacationers on a [[BeachEpisode beach trip]], or FBI investigators. They can be trapped by a ghost, simple mechanical troubles, a man in a mask, or an eccentric billionaire. To get out they might need to solve a mystery, survive a serial killer, repair their car, or just wait out the rain. Like we said, the variations ''are limitless''.

'''There are the following ways to go about this:'''
# The location, normally connected to the rest of the world, is made inescapable.
** [[ItWasADarkAndStormyNight Inclement weather]], see: HostilePrecipitation; SnowedIn.
** LockedInARoom
** BrokenBridge
** LockedDoor
# Orientation is difficult and any attempt to leave will end with GoingInCircles. Usually nightfall or bad weather is making it even more difficult. Maps, [[CellPhonesAreUseless phones, GPS etc. have been lost or destroyed]], or never existed in the first place. The characters are too glad to have one certain point on the horizon (even if it is the HauntedHouse) to risk wandering off and get hopelessly lost. In some cases this may be due to magic or space warps.
# If the characters arrived by vehicle, circumstances will prevent them from using that same vehicle to leave.
** The vehicle is inoperable. (The car has a flat tire, the motorbike has no gas, or the spaceship's [[FTLTravel warp drive]] is on the fritz). The characters must find a way [[TheGreatRepair to repair it]] before they can escape.
** The vehicle has been destroyed. A replacement must be found, stolen, or built. Typical DesertedIsland scenario.
** The vehicle is on a schedule, has already departed, and will not return for a certain amount of time. The characters do not realize the danger until after their ride leaves. In this case, their objective is to survive for the set amount of time until the [ferry to the mainland/chartered flight/evac chopper/etc.] arrives.
** The vehicle IS the dangerous, inescapable setting. See ThrillerOnTheExpress, DeathInTheClouds.
# The characters are under a compulsion to stay, either by their own will or because something else forces them to remain.
** The heroes are physically unable to leave an EnclosedSpace because there is no where to leave ''to''.
** Police or authorities quarantine the area, possibly in search of the characters if they're criminals.
** There's a SerialKiller or monster killing anyone who tries to leave.
** The location is [[LockedInAFreezer booby-trapped to be inescapable.]] Often there's a way to unlock the mansion, which might involve puzzles, murder, or solving a mystery.
** Your PlayerCharacter is holding the IdiotBall and simply refuses to leave [[ButThouMust Because The Plot Says So]].
*** [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation Alternatively]], your PlayerCharacter is on [[TheQuest a mission]] and [[{{Determinator}} will not be deterred]].
** The location is a MobileMaze that won't let them leave.
** Each of the characters is equipped with a RestrainingBolt that won't let them leave, or an ExplosiveLeash that will kill them if they try.
** The characters know that if they leave without solving the mystery, the culprit will escape.

This is the driving force behind many LetsYouAndHimFight scenarios: Why would this group of incongruous heroes and/or villains fight that other group of incongruous heroes and/or villains? Because some wizard/super-scientist/EldritchAbomination stuck them in a pocket dimension! Trying to get out is impossible because there are either no exits or because they're all locked in such ways that would be impossible to open by the group(s). The only way to open the Closed Circle is a fight to the death! Needless to say, most times, [[TakingAThirdOption they either find a way out that was NOT accounted for, or just take out the ringmaster of the whole debacle]].

Thanks to TechnologyMarchesOn, an increasingly unavoidable bit of FridgeLogic crops up in modern works regarding why the characters don't just call the police/mountain rescue/the Franchise/{{Ghostbusters}} on their mobile phones. Hence the nigh-omnipresent NecessaryWeasel that is CellPhonesAreUseless. Even works that avoid that trope play with it in that having a functional means of communication isn't really important, due to inaccessibility or a time limit that's shorter than the time it would take for rescue to arrive.

Subtropes include TrappedInAnotherWorld and EscapeFromTheCrazyPlace. A common such plot is DieHardOnAnX. In a VideoGame may be enforced by a BottomlessPit, BrokenBridge, InsurmountableWaistHeightFence, {{Invisible Wall}}s, {{Locked Door}}s, or a PointOfNoReturn. A good excuse for a BottleEpisode. In a TabletopRPG, this is a {{Railroading}} technique. See also GatelessGhetto. The GroundhogDayLoop could be considered a temporal version of this. EnclosedSpace is a subtrope.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'':
** {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d during the Island mystery. Itsuki even uses what might be the common name for describing it: a Closed Circle. Ultimately, [[spoiler:it turns out to have been an invoked trope.]]
** In the novels they later get in a similar situation while going on a ski resort. [[spoiler:Turns out this one isn't intentionally done, and it took practically all of Nagato's powers and some basic knowledge in graph theory for them to escape.]]
** The conclusion of ''The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya'' (both the book and the first season) is effectively a closed circle invocation as well, the circle being delimited by the dimensions of Haruhi's "closed space", and the time available to escape being delimited by how effectively the Celestials can stomp about. It is an interesting reduction of the trope to its simplest arrangement. There are only two people in the closed space, one of whom is the hero (Kyon), and one of them the unknowing monster (Haruhi), but only Kyon recognizes what is going on. Kyon has to figure out the "mystery" of how to escape the trap. The two ghostly intrusions (Nagato and Koizumi) are allowable in that their fates are also tied to the resolution so are arguably closed in as well, and they don't give Kyon any new information (they basically remind him of what they had previously told him).
* Roughly a quarter of ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' stories, rising to half for multiparters. For example, Episode 52 has one of these where the main characters get a flat tire and have to stay at a spooky temple where a murder takes place. At least the episode explains that it's a ''second'' flat tire, so they can't just use the spare. Though apparently there's no equivalent of AAA in Japan.
* In ''Anime/DigimonAdventure'', Myotismon creates a fog barrier that turns people around when they try to escape the city.
* ''Anime/HellGirl'' had an episode in which a writer and his daughter are trapped in an old asylum.
* Ruhenheim in ''Anime/{{Monster}}'' is a particularly grand-scale case of the horror take on this trope.
* ''Manga/BusouRenkin'': Doktor Butterfly's Alice In Wonderland does this in its dispersed form, trapping the students in the school so that the [[ZombieApocalypse Revised Humanoid Homunculi]] can feed on them.
* ''Manga/{{Uzumaki}}'' is set in a town where anyone entering by sea has their boat destroyed by hurricanes, all paths out on foot spiral back to the town, and in the end [[spoiler:[[KillEmAll the boundaries of the closed circle shrink to nothing.]]]] Rapidly.
* The Flying Pussyfoot in ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}''
** Also the case of the Advena Avis two hundred years prior.
* Kirisaki Island in ''Manga/DetectiveSchoolQ'' leaves classes Q and A stormbound on said island. There is a serial killer involved. [[spoiler: Fifty years ago, and the rest is Dan screwing with Class Q.]]
* ''Manga/LiarGame'' frequently invokes this trope by setting its various challenges in secluded locations. Rarely are the players physically prohibited from leaving, but only winners can truly "escape" by paying half their winnings to the tournament committee; the rest end up in crushing debt.
* If you are chosen by the titular ''Manga/{{Gantz}}'', try to exit a set area before the time limit and YourHeadAsplode. Everybody else is free to move through the area as they please, but the scenario is always set so they can affect nothing.
* Happens OnceAnEpisode in ''Anime/{{Mononoke}}'', since the Medicine Peddler always seals off the area with magic to protect its inhabitants and prevent the mononoke escaping. Moreover, two episodes take place in a boat out at sea and a moving train carriage.
* In ''Anime/YuGiOhCapsuleMonsters'', the gang has to complete five trials before being able to return to their world, and early episodes are spent wondering why they're in the Capsule Monster world in the first place.
* In ''LightNovel/RokkaBravesOfTheSixFlowers'', the main cast is trapped within a magical barrier that prevents them from leaving the forest. The plot involves figuring out who the traitor among them is who activated the barrier.
* ''Anime/ValkyrieDriveMermaid'' is set in the artificial island of Mermaid, where Armed Virus carriers are sent to be quarantined until a cure can be found.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The protagonists of ''ComicBook/ElksRun'' happen to ''live'' in their Closed Circle. Their town was built to be isolated from the rest of society, with the only way out being a tunnel through the mountains that could easily be blocked off during an emergency. Police investigation of a VigilanteExecution qualifies as an emergency to those who participated in said execution, no matter how much the rest of the cast wants to get out of town.
* ''ComicBook/TheMazeAgency'': Gabe and Jen are stranded on island with a (literal) boatload of suspects when the boat that brought them there is blown up in #20. And then someone is murdered following a séance...

* ''Fanfic/ACrownOfStars'': In chapter 45 [[spoiler:Shinji and Asuka are transporting troops from Avalon to their homeworld when the portal gets shut and they are cut off and trapped in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by warlords and bandit gangs.]] Their only option is [[spoiler:fighting the dictators ruling the wastelands and ruins as trying to convince the person who blocked the dimensional gate to let them leave.]]
* The first installment of the ''FanFic/ElementalChessTrilogy'' turns Central City into this when it gets invaded. All entrance and exit points are blocked off.
* ''WebComic/MegaManDissonance'': All teleportation in the city has been disabled [[spoiler:(except for the Element 5, naturally)]], so Mega Man and Proto Man must find out the source of the jamming.
* In ''Fanfic/HopeForTheHeartless'': When the invisible and powerful servants of [[CosmicEntity the Fates]] are assigned to temporarily serve and counsel the Horned King, they are bound within the borders of his castle courtyard.
* ''FanFic/EscapeFromTheMoon'': The entire story ([[spoiler:except for the last chapter]]) takes place in a small space station and the area right outside.
* In the Sabrina Gaiden of ''Fanfic/PokemonResetBloodlines'', when the title character begins to terrorize her hometown, some people try to escape, but they always run into her on the edges of the town.

* ''Film/DogSoldiers'': The house is surrounded by werewolves and their vehicle is damaged.
* In ''Film/TheEvilDead1981'' they can't leave the cabin because the bridge is out and the [[WhenTreesAttack trees]] are all rapey. Also, a curse is turning them into Deadites.
* Phil Connors, Bill Murray's character in ''Film/GroundhogDay'', not only experiences a GroundhogDayLoop but is perpetually stuck in Punxsutawney due to a blizzard blocking the roads.
* ''Film/ManosTheHandsOfFate'': Once the family arrive at the hotel, Torgo tells them, "There is no way out of here. It will be dark soon. [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment There is no way out of here]]." Michael decides it would be a good idea to stay the night. This is the least of [[TooDumbToLive his problems]]. Or the audience's for that matter.
* ''Film/PitchBlack'' just loved this trope. First, their starship crashes on a mysterious planet. They go to retrieve power cells so they can leave in a smaller, functional ship. The car they're using is solar powered, and seemed ideal on a planet with three suns, but as luck would have it, they have a solar eclipse, which releases the monsters that are harmed by light. As monsters pick off each of the characters, and they continuously lose light sources, the remaining characters are trapped in a cave, with Riddick holding the only working flashlight.
* ''Film/TheTrumanShow'' is a massive set for a reality show with only one real person, [[MeaningfulName Truman]] Burbank, with the creators deliberately {{Railroading}} ways so Truman could spend his entire life in the fictitious Seahaven set. Or that was the idea at least...
* Horror movie ''Film/{{Identity}}'' traps a handful of protagonists in a motel by way of a major storm. [[spoiler: Moving in any direction away from the motel will bring you back to the motel.]]
* ''Film/TheRockyHorrorPictureShow''. With only a few very minor variations, it precisely fits the classic version of car breaks down in the rain, protagonists are stuck in a spooky castle. Though this is only natural considering that it's a parody of (among many other things) exactly those kinds of stories.
* In the british chiller ''Film/TheHole'' they can't leave the titular bunker because [[spoiler: the leading lady has the key and won't open that door until the guy she is infatuated with will start to like her]]. The twist? ''The other three people with her don't know it''.
* In ''Film/{{Clue}}'' the butler locks all the characters up in a remote house in order to confront a blackmailer; later, when the blackmailer is murdered, the doors remain locked lest the killer escape. And if anyone does leave before they find the killer, they will say the one running is the killer.
* In ''Film/HouseOnHauntedHill1959'', Vincent Price's character locks several characters in his mansion with the promise of a large cash reward for staying the night. It was all a convoluted plot to expose [[spoiler:his wife's affair]] and to [[spoiler:kill her and her lover]].
* ''Film/HouseOnHauntedHill1999'' has this among its many {{Double Subversion}}s. This time the Price character is a mogul famous for parlaying his animatronic genius into into a thrill-ride empire, so everyone expects elaborately staged technological wizardry from him, and though everyone suspects he's behind locking them all in, they can't pass up the million he offers to remain there -- at least until it's too late to say ScrewThisImOuttaHere.
* The 2007 Spanish film ''Film/FermatsRoom'' has the main characters trapped in a locked room by the villain, with [[AdvancingWallOfDoom Advancing Walls Of Doom]] to make things more interesting.
* The eponymous contraptions of the ''Film/{{Cube}}'' movies are these. The protagonists are doomed to roam around a maze of cuboid rooms until they can figure out its particular structure and escape. [[spoiler:[[EverybodyDies Or not]].]]
* Protagonists of ''Film/HouseOfTheDead'' can't leave the island because zombies are swimming in the surrounding waters. Same thing happens later when they barricade themselves into the titular shack.
* In the SlasherMovie ''Film/TerrorTrain'', a murderer is onboard the titular vehicle and due to the winter, nobody can get off. They just have sit in and wait for the next station.
* Part of the initiation ritual in ''Film/HellNight'' entails being locked up inside an abandoned manor. Unfortunately, there's also a killer loose.
* The protagonists of ''Film/{{Unknown 2006}}'' are properly trapped in an AbandonedWarehouse in the [[SealedRoomInTheMiddleOfNowhere middle of nowhere]], doors are shut tight, windows are made of bullet-proof glass, cell phones are destroyed and the landline connection is cut. Lampshaded by one of the trapped characters: "Somebody's obviously gone to a lot of expense to secure this."
* In ''Film/{{Prison}}'', nobody gets out [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin because, well you know]]. Additionally, there's a supernatural force that won't let them.
* The eponymous villain in ''Film/PsychoCopReturns'' locks the protagonists up with him inside the office building they are partying in.
* ''Film/{{Alien}}'' is one of the more famous examples: the reason the characters can't leave is because the "haunted house" is a spaceship. Many other movies have copied this idea.
* All "games" in ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' movies are held in closed locations.
* ''Film/{{Quarantine}}'' is set in a quarantined apartment building. Enforced, in that one character attempts to escape and is promptly killed by a sniper.
* The entire point of ''Film/TheBreakfastClub'' is that none of the characters would even speak to each other if they hadn't been forced to stay alone with each other for the day.
* Played out on a large scale in ''Film/{{Tremors}}''. Yes, the monster's stomping ground is a great big valley, but it's a great big valley that no one can leave because the monsters can outrun them.
* ''Film/{{Pleasantville}}'' is physically isolated--it's surrounded by mountains on all sides, and all of the roads circle back in towards the city. No one is ever seen entering or leaving the town either. This all changes by the end, though, when [[spoiler: the teenagers who got sucked into the TV reality open up the worldview of Pleasantville's inhabitants, and there is now at least one road leading out of the town.]]
* The 1930 ''Creator/LaurelAndHardy'' short [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin "The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case"]] ended up having all the relatives of a recently deceased millionaire - including our two heroes - [[ArtisticLicenseLaw forcibly detained by a police detective in a mansion]]. Said detective believes one of them is the murderer and keeps them there until he finds the guilty party. One frantic character even attempts to escape out a window, but is stopped as everyone else is warned that cops are surrounding the mansion to prevent escape.
* This short was remade 15 years later as ''Film/TheThreeStooges'' short "If A Body Meets A Body". It follows the plot for the most part. In fact, the police detective is even played by the same actor, Fred Kelsey.
* In the Sharon Stone thriller ''Scissors'', her character (Angie) spends most of the movie trapped in a show home.
* In ''Film/RearWindow'', L.B. Jeffries is confined to his apartment with a multiple leg fracture.
* In ''Film/TheBlairWitchProject'', the main characters become lost in the woods while filming a documentary about the Blair Witch. Efforts to reorient themselves fail, even things like following a river or walking in one direction until they're out.
* In ''Film/{{Jumanji}}'' anyone who rolls the dice of the titular board game becomes a player. Once four players are chosen those specific people must finish the game in order for all the horror it unleashes to be undone.
* In ''Film/TheLegacy'' (1979), protagonists Maggie and Pete try to leave the Ravenhurst mansion after the other guests start dying, only to find that all the roads lead back to the mansion.
* ''Film/ProWrestlersVsZombies'' uses the setting of the penitentiary where they were performing the event to justify the wrestlers having difficulty escaping. Their cell phones were confiscated before entering under the auspices of security.
* ''Film/{{Flightplan}}'': Set aboard a plane, so there's only so many places a missing daughter could be hidden.
* ''Film/NonStop'': Also set on a plane, as an air marshal searches for a killer among the passengers.
* ''Film/TheKillingRoom'' (2009): Four subjects are locked in a room for a psychological experiment. They're then told only one can get out alive. The film also covers the man running the experiment and a new recruit for the program. They never leave the premises, and it's implied that if the new recruit does try to walk out before the experiment runs its course, [[YouCanNeverLeave she'll be killed]].
* ''Film/TheHauntingOfWhaleyHouse'': The ghosts lock all of the doors, making the doorknobs hot to the touch, and drain the cell phones. And an attempt to break the windows leads to the character attempting getting impaled with his own chair.
* Though nods to this are seen throughout the anthology, about 75 percent of the run-time of ''Film/FridayThe13thPartVIIIJasonTakesManhattan'' is set on a cruise ship that is out to sea, making it the straightest example of this trope in the series.
* In ''Film/{{Coherence}}'', a group of eight is bound to stay at a house because due to a time/space anomaly any attempt to leave the place will just cause the characters to reemerge at the same house in an alternate reality.
* ''Film/TheThing1982'' takes place at an Antarctic research base which lacks the resources for anyone to get off the continent without outside help. Blair destroys their communications equipment to keep the Thing from escaping alive, leaving everyone stranded for the next couple months until someone comes for routine resupplying, trapped with the monster than can assume the form of anyone its killed. [[spoiler:Then The Thing uses this to his advantage, destroying the base so everyone else will freeze to death while it hibernates until the resuppliers come and give it a way to the rest of the world.]]
* In ''Film/ExMachina'', Caleb is dropped off by helicopter into a compound in the middle of a vast wilderness, with no other means of leaving available to him. His communication with the outside world is cut off because his [[CellPhonesAreUseless cell phone has no signal]] and he can't use the keycard-locked house phones. This is entirely intentional on Nathan's part, as his goal was to create a secret and undisturbed place for his experiments.
* ''Film/ScreamPark'' has the protagonists trapped inside the locked fences of the park. Even if they got over the fence, their car keys were confiscated by the manager before the party.
* The Other World in the ''WesternAnimation/{{Coraline}}'' movie is only as big as the surrounding area of the Pink Palace. Once Coraline gets the idea to just walk away, she finds the forest flaking apart to reveal a white void - which reforms into the Pink Palace right in front of her again. It's presumably because the Other Mother doesn't have the power to reach any further. "Small world."
* In ''Cemetery Man'' the man in charge of a town's cemetery (and putting zombies back in their graves) finally has enough and tries to drive away. [[spoiler: Inexplicably the highway seems to have been destroyed and there is no way out]]

* ''The Invisible Host'': human agency.
* Some of [[Creator/MatthewReilly Matthew Reilly's]] works have this. ''Contest'', ''Literature/IceStation'', ''Area 7'', ''Army of Thieves''...one would think he uses this trope so as to help concentrate the [[StuffBlowingUp explosions and other demolition]]. The protagonist of his short story "The Dead Prince" invokes this trope so as to prevent the culprit from getting away.
* In ''Discworld/{{Pyramids}}'', once the gigantic pyramid is completed, its incredible amount of PyramidPower [[spoiler:almost]] completely severs Djelibeybi from world, trapping its inhabitants with ALL of its gods. Since several of the gods often were responsible for the same thing, HilarityEnsues as the gods duke it out for control over things like the sun.
* Creator/AnthonyBoucher's ''The Case of the Seven Sneezes''
* Creator/AgathaChristie:
** ''Literature/AndThenThereWereNone'': Bad weather and sabotaged communications.
** Even better: ''Literature/MurderOnTheOrientExpress'' (1934). The entire murder investigation goes on while the titular train has been immobilized due to a snowstorm. The idea that the killer or killers could have escaped away is quickly shot down, by establishing that an attempt to escape on foot would be suicidal.
* Arthur Clarke's short ''Breaking Strain'': the realities of interplanetary navigation.
* Cyril Hare's ''An English Murder'': heavy snow.
* Creator/DorothyLSayers' ''[[Literature/LordPeterWimsey The Nine Tailors]]'': A car accident keeps Lord Peter in Fenchurch St. Paul during the New Year peal at the beginning of the story, and a flood traps him there for the endgame. In between he is not trapped, however, just at those critical times.
* In Ellery Queen's ''The Siamese Twin Mystery'', a forest fire traps the cast.
* Several interesting examples in Italo Calvino's ''Literature/InvisibleCities''. Cecilia is a city which has swallowed the world, Trude cannot be left because it is all cities and Penthesilia consists only of outskirts, leaving Creator/MarcoPolo uncertain as to whether or not he can ever be not in the outskirts of that city.
* Richard Connell's ''Literature/TheMostDangerousGame'': a man is shipwrecked on a remote island, with only an AxCrazy hunter for company.
* ''Christopher Manson's MAZE'' has two. The first is a network of menacing rooms that lead you around in circles with only one way out. The second is [[{{Hell}} where you end up when you take that one way out]].
* ''Dead Mountaineer's Hotel'': The characters are in a hotel in a snowy valley, and an avalanche locks them from the outside world for at least a couple of days.
* In Chuck Palahniuk's ''[[Literature/{{Haunted}} Haunted: A Novel]]'', the cast of characters trap ''themselves'' in an isolated theater, each unwilling to leave until they're able to present themselves as the hero of the resulting news stories and RippedFromTheHeadlines movie.
* Creator/MichaelCrichton loved this trope. Seriously, pick nearly any one of his books.
* ''[[Literature/TheMazeRunner The Maze Runner Trilogy]]'':
** ''The Maze Runner'' features a place called The Glade. A bunch of teenagers are trapped in it with no memory of their lives before they woke up there. The doors open at dawn and close at dusk, but only lead to a giant maze with no exit. Better yet, the maze changes every night while the doors are closed. Oh, and if you're in the maze at night, giant metal monsters attack you.
%% ** ''The Scorch Trials'', starts with yet another closed circle.
* ''Literature/TheHungerGames''. Twenty-four tributes are forced to fight to the death in an arena surrounded by force fields ''and'' natural boundaries like mountains and lakes. The Gamemakers can even instantaneously alter the arena to make it smaller and smaller as the games progress, thereby increasing the drama for the audiences both in- and out-of-universe.
* ''Literature/BattleRoyale'' takes place in a purposely vacated, remote island. Moreover, the students are equipped with radio transmitters that will explode if they somehow ''do'' manage to leave the confines of the island, forcing them to compete in the titular Battle. Moreover, as the "game" goes on, more and more zones of the island are made off limits, tightening the circle.
* ''Literature/TwentyThousandLeaguesUnderTheSea'': Even when the Nautilus travels around the whole world, TheProfessor Aronnax, BattleButler Conseil and IdiotHero Ned Land [[EnclosedSpace are confined to the submarine]]. They can only talk with Captain Nemo (since all the other crew speak a secret language).
* In ''Literature/{{Krabat}}'', you can't run away from the mill - the master (an evil wizard) will prevent it. [[spoiler:Even suicide won't work.]]
* In ''Literature/MurderAtColefaxManor'', the player can't leave the manor's grounds until they have solved the mystery. [[spoiler:Played straight when the player enters the caverns, as they are then unable to return to the manor or its grounds.]]
* ''Literature/ProjectNRI'' has the Niege Research Institute, where all the characters are trapped in.
* ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'':
** In ''Magyk'', Draggen Island is the Closed Circle, preventing Silas from returning and also [[BigBad [=DomDaniel=]]] from arriving.
** Syren island in ''Syren''.
** The Heaps' room in ''Darke''.
* This happens in several books of ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear''. It takes place on a number of different planets, and the very first book ended with their ride being destroyed. Although they were [[BigDamnHeroes rescued]] by the crew of the ''Millennium Falcon'', they were dropped off on another world to make their way from there right in the next book. In many other books, if the ship they picked up in the second one isn't damaged in some way, they have another reason they can't just leave.
* The novel ''Severance Package'' takes place mostly on one floor of an office building. It's revealed that the financial services firm where the main character works is really a cover branch for the CIA, and they're being shut down - the hard way. The people are given a choice: drink poisoned mimosas for a peaceful death, or be shot in the back of the head. The elevators have been disabled and the exit doors rigged with gas so no one can leave. Then the real fun begins ...
* The Other House and garden in ''Literature/{{Coraline}}''. If you walk too far, you find yourself coming back to the house again, and only Coraline herself and the cat can leave. The real Pink Palace is not this, but when Coraline attempts to call the police for help, they don't believe that her parents have been kidnapped and so she has to deal with the situation herself.
* ''Literature/WetDesertTrackingDownATerroristOnTheColoradoRiver'': As the water in the Grand Canyon retreats, David and the others find themselves trapped on a ledge high over the river.

* A very significant percentage of all theater-style LiveActionRolePlay games have some version of this trope. Otherwise, players being true to their characters might very well leave the game area.

[[folder: Live-Action TV ]]
* ''Series/AmericanHorrorStoryMurderHouse'', [[spoiler: anyone who dies in the house has their ghost become trapped in the house for all eternity. An example is shown when Violet attempts to leave the house, only to come through the back door, again and again.]]
* ''Series/BeingHumanUS'': Sally is unable to leave the house at the beginning, describing the outside as just "dropping off". However, she eventually learns to leave the property and venture outside. In [[Series/BeingHumanUK the UK version]], Annie is always able to leave the house, but usually chooses not to.
* ''Series/GilligansIsland'', so much so that people ask why they don't JustEatGilligan.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'', which starts with the survivors of a plane crash. Then in season five, [[spoiler: most of the ones who left the island returned]].
* This trope, which means that Ted has to put up Bishop Brennan, who is frightened of rabbits, whilst the parochial house is infested with rabbits, is bizarrely parodied in an episode of ''Series/FatherTed'':
-->'''Mrs. Doyle''': I've got some bad news Your Grace - I just heard on the radio that they've taken the roads in.
-->'''Bishop Brennan''': They've "taken the roads in"?
-->'''Ted''': Yes. They roll them up when it gets too stormy and store up in a big warehouse on the North side of the island so they don't get damaged.
* Common in ''Series/StargateSG1'' back in its early years, since the Stargate is the only way off of a planet and it's plausible that the team's access to it would be blocked.
** Even more common in ''Series/StargateUniverse''. The castaways have no control over ''Destiny's'' course or how long it lingers in a star system; they're just along for the ride.
* Used in at least one episode of ''Series/{{The Twilight Zone|1959}}'', "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" They don't find out the true identity of the titular Martian - or if there even ''is'' one - before they finally leave the circle [[spoiler: to their doom]].
* Used in one episode of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' where Dawn wishes to a Vengeance Demon that everyone would stop leaving her (really, she has abandonment issues, and for a very good reason, her father left them when she was 9, [[spoiler:her mother's dead, her sister died for a few months, came back and then ignored her, the people who have been taking care of her split up, one of them leaving and it just keeps getting worse throughout the show]]. They end up trapped in the house. With a demon.
* This is the premise of the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode "Midnight", in which the Doctor and a bunch of tourists are trapped in a train car with a mysterious and probably malevolent alien.
** Actually, it seems almost every other episode of the new series the TARDIS is lost, stolen or thought to be destroyed, only to turn up once the plot's been resolved.
*** Happens a lot in the original series, as well, to the point that "small group of people trapped in a base, being killed of by a monster/monsters" is pretty much the standard ''Who'' plot. Hell, in the second serial ''The Daleks'', the Doctor ''fakes'' this scenario by deliberately sabotaging the TARDIS so he can explore Skaro. This backfires when [[spoiler: the Daleks steal the piece he took from the TARDIS, making this a real Closed Circle scenario]].
** In one particular Rory/Amy era episode, there's ''two'' closed circles. One is entirely ''within'' the Tardis (though the other eschews it, for one traditionally nebulous reason or another). Only the antagonist has control over travel between the two. Oh, and one of them is imaginary, apparently. [[spoiler: What's real is a feature of the eventually resolved plot twist(s), of course.]]
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Sanctuary}}'', the characters were trapped because of a severe snowstorm which was delaying the rescue team from arriving.
* A BottleEpisode of ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'' is set up when JD offhandedly wonders if a patient may have SARS. The hospital is automatically locked down and quarantined until the events of the episode are over and the hospital is declared safe.
* A couple of episodes of ''Series/TheWestWing''. [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in "Holy Night," the fourth-season ChristmasEpisode in which everybody is waiting for it to stop snowing so they can leave the White House.
-->'''Leo:''' Dr. Keyworth, Dulles and International are both closed.\\
'''Stanley:''' Ah.\\
'''Leo:''' You mind being our guest for a little while?\\
'''Stanley:''' Thank you.\\
'''President Bartlet:''' And now we're one-third of the way through an Creator/AgathaChristie story. ''[leans forward]'' "Won't nobody be goin' nowhere. The bridge is warshed out." ''[awkward pause]'' Well, I'm finished. [[DontExplainTheJoke But I was doing the guy that says that in the Agatha Christie stories.]]
* The ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' episode "The Ten Little Grifters Job" - whose title is also an Creator/AgathaChristie [[Literature/TenLittleIndians homage]] - plays with this trope.
* The Village Head in Saengchori controls who comes and goes in ''Series/OnceUponATimeInSaengchori''.
* ''Series/SixHundredSixtySixParkAvenue'': Gavin traps a traitorous associate in an endless hallway with no way out until he cracks and confesses.
* Built into the DNA of ''Series/SapphireAndSteel''; it occurs in ''every'' serial. It was handwaved in various ways, generally along the lines of "Time won't let us leave", and contributed to the series' sense of unsettling claustrophobia.
* In ''Series/OnceUponATime'', the Dark Curse keeps the inhabitants of Storybrooke from leaving the city and keeps (most) visitors away. Even after the Curse is broken, those who cross the city's boundary lose all memory of their fairy tale selves.
* In ''Series/{{Helix}},'' several factors conspire to keep the CDC rapid response team at ResearchInc Arctic Biosystems during their investigation of an outbreak of TheVirus. It's CDC protocol to achieve full containment of a pathogen before leaving, the helicopters that transported them can't stay, due to the HostileWeather's ability to coagulate fuel, and satellite communication to the outside world, though instantaneous, is only active for an hour a day. Then the satellite is sabotaged directly after the CDC's lead researcher decides he's lost control of the situation and states that he intends to call for backup.
* ''OrangeIsTheNewBlack'' for the most part takes place in a women's prison.
* ''Series/LostTapes'': most settings in various episodes are usually some variation of this, with the characters ending up in an isolated or enclosed area that they can't easily get out of, such as [[BigfootSasquatchAndYeti the North American wilderness]], [[PrehistoricMonster an Australian rainforest]], [[OurVampiresAreDifferent an old house]], [[SandWorm the Gobi Desert]], [[OurZombiesAreDifferent a condemned boarding house]], and [[LizardFolk a sewer]].
* ''Series/AscensionMiniseries'': The show is about a murder that takes place aboard a GenerationShip that has been in space for 50 years, so the murderer has no way of escaping.
* Happened infrequently on ''Series/MurderSheWrote'', such as the episode where a murder took place on the victim's private island, one where Jessica and others are stuck at a 24 hour diner during a storm after their bus breaks down, and another where people are SnowedIn at a ski resort due to a blizzard.
* The ''Series/DeepSpaceNine'' episode "[[Recap/StarTrekDeepSpaceNineS04E10OurManBashir Our Man Bashir]]" has Bashir and Garak playing a ''Franchise/JamesBond'' holosuite program for fun, until a [[TeleporterAccident transporter malfunction]] raises the stakes by replacing five of the characters with five of the station's senior staff. What makes it this trope is that, if they try to leave, hide, or otherwise go OffTheRails before their friends outside can fix the problem, the program will end and erase the crew.
* ''Series/LesRevenants'': Towards the end of the first season, a few characters decide to get the hell out of the sleepy French town where a bunch of weirdness is happening. They keep driving through the same tunnel only to end up right back in town.
* ''Series/MurdochMysteries'':
** "Stairway to Heaven" is set at a lodge on an island [[HostileWeather during a heavy thunderstorm]]. Detective Murdoch arrives soaking wet and tells everyone there that the ferry to the mainland won't operate again until the storm lets up, so he and Dr. Grace have to work the murder case entirely onsite.
** "Friday the 13th 1901" starts as a "hen party" (a bachelorette party) on an island over a weekend. The boatman isn't scheduled to return for several days, the only boat on the island is found to have a gaping hole in it, and the period setting means there's no communications technology. Thus Drs Ogden and Grace have to take the lead in solving the problem of the ax-wielding killer.
* ''Series/MissFishersMurderMysteries'': "Murder Under the Mistletoe" takes place in an isolated chalet. A snowstorm leaves the chalet SnowedIn, with roads to icy to drive on, and engines of all the vehicles frozen. CutPhoneLines complete the isolation.
* ''Series/KamenRiderExAid'': The ''Kamen Sentai Gorider'' special uses this premise. [[TheHero Emu Hojo]] wakes up in a mysterious amusement park that seems to be on an island floating in the void. He (and the five other Kamen Riders who subsequently show up) quickly discover that it's impossible to leave the park; no matter which direction you go, you'll always end up back where you started. The plot thickens when the six realize that besides being Riders, the other common bond between them is that they're all dead...

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* PlayedForLaughs in ''ComicStrip/GetFuzzy'', whenever Bucky tries to pretend he didn't do whatever thing he did. Rob is always quick to realize that there are only three of them in the apartment, and he and Satchel can be accounted for.
--> '''Rob:''' (as Satchel freaks out over a broken piggy bank) Well, it's only you and me and Bucky in this place. And since you and I didn't do it...
--> '''[[TheDitz Satchel]]:''' This is no time for riddles, Rob! If you know something, then for the love of food, out with it!

[[folder:Role Playing Games]]
* ''Roleplay/RubyQuest'' is set in a big underwater facility with no escape. [[spoiler: Well, until the end.]]
* The entire point (at least initially) of ''[[Roleplay/IronheartTrilogy Escape from Ironheart]]'' is to, well, escape from Ironheart, a massive, supposedly inescapable prison.
* Almost all dramatic JournalRoleplay games take place in closed circles, forcing characters to stay where they otherwise wouldn't (unless a player drops). This is so prevalent that this type of game has earned the name "spooky jamjar".

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
This is a classic game master technique for getting players to [[RailRoading stick around for a while and follow the plot.]]

* In ''TabletopGame/BetrayalAtHouseOnTheHill'', the players always start in front of the main door, but can't just turn around and leave. You have to explore, triggering Omens, until the Haunt starts, at which point you ''may'' be able to escape... if the scenario ''lets'' you.
* In a ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}'' campaign, a DM can use the Mists to keep players from straying from a certain area (ie, players go into the Mists and emerge in the same place), but doing so is a cheap trick.
** Some individual locations within the setting are Closed Circles by their very nature, as with Baron Evensong's one-room study/prison.
* A ''Magazine/{{Pyramid}}'' article on unusual artifacts included the Enigma Van. While it could resemble any mode of transport suitable for the setting (from Conundrum Carriage to Secret Starship), the key points were that it was [[MysteryMagnet attracted to mysteries]], and once it found one it would break down until the mystery was solved. An obvious {{Deconstruction}} of the [[Franchise/ScoobyDoo Mystery Machine]]. The same series also had the Bloody Typhoid Mary Celeste, a vehicle which was more generally attracted to trouble (and therefore seen as ''being'' trouble - it was also very distinctive), but which would likewise break down if the [=PCs=] tried to leave before the situation was resolved.
* Mark Rosewater discusses the unique problems this trope presents for the story of ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering.'' Since ''Magic'''s main protagonists are almost all planeswalkers, and the defining trait of planeswalkers is [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin that they can freely move between planes]], each story must carefully explain why the protagonists either can't or won't just planeswalk away.
* Part of the setup for "Cthulhu City", a ''Trail of Cthulhu'' variant setting, is that there's no reliable, mundane way to leave the city, and even if you think you've managed it, you haven't, to the point where there's a specific page the GM can reach for to come up with an excuse for why this particular escape attempt didn't work, plus some extra ideas in the text for specific areas. These can range from the straightforward (stopped by the Transport Police; car sabotaged) to the suspicious and occult (ship sunk by Something in the water; encounters with cultists; lost in the fog) to the just plain weird (trees in the forest gradually blur together until the investigators find themselves on a city street; attacked by invisible serial killer; the outside world is a post-apocalyptic landscape, an alien world, Carcosa or something; the first time you fall asleep after reaching another city, you wake up back in Great Arkham, but part of that city has been taken back in with you).

* Used for the basic premise of ''Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark'', in which the characters are confined to a mansion due to both an inmate from the local asylum being loose and a relative's will stating that they forfeit their inheritance if they leave.
* Also the premise of ''Theatre/TheMousetrap''.
* Jean-Paul Sartre's ''Theatre/NoExit'' plays with this trope. The characters are only locked in by their own flaws and mediocrity.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''[[Franchise/AloneInTheDark Alone in the Dark (1992)]]'' The main character can't leave the mansion Derceto as the door mysteriously slams as soon as s/he enters. And if you try to open it, you get eaten by what looks like a giant ManEatingPlant.
* The makers of ''VideoGame/BioShock1'' went on record to explain why Rapture is a city at the bottom of the ocean and not, say, [[Literature/AtlasShrugged a hideout in Colorado]]: to [[JustifiedTrope justify]] this trope. Otherwise, the player character could simply find a plane or just walk out into the wilderness to get away from the freaks in an open air environment. In Rapture, you are stuck down there until you finish the job. [[spoiler:Which hides the real reason you are down there obeying orders.]]
** Similarly enforced in ''VideoGame/BioShockInfinite''. Instead of under the sea, Columbia is a city in the clouds, and Booker is sent there via a one-way [[ItMakesSenseInContext lightouse-rocket]], and it's just as inescapable. Any time he and Elizabeth devise a way to leave (mostly via the First Lady Airship) are thwarted by Elizabeth, the Vox Populi, Songbird, or some other external force. By the end of the game, Booker is basically begging Elizabeth to leave Columbia, but she refuses to go until Comstock is dead. [[spoiler: The PlayableEpilogue throws many, many wrenches into this plan, but also breaks the circle and takes the setting away from Columbia by going to various locations, including Rapture, both lighthouses, Wounded Knee, and Booker's office.]]
* ''VideoGame/SystemShock'' and its sequel both strand you in deep space.
** In the original, you are on a space station and are kept well away from the escape pods.
** In ''VideoGame/SystemShock2'', you are stranded out in deep space after the ship is attacked and the warp drive breaks down. This is bad enough, but it is made worse as it is the only warp drive in existence.
* Used in all of the ''VideoGame/ChzoMythos''.
** Five Days a Stranger, the house itself won't let you leave.
** Seven Days a Skeptic, you're on a spaceship. Help is coming in 7 days and the escape pods aren't an option.
** Trilby's Notes is slightly subtler, and some players may not even notice, but you try walk away from the hotel entrance, you'll simply reappear at the the other side.
** 6 Days a Sacrifice, you are trapped in an underground bunker and the accesses to the surface are inoperable/blocked.
* ''Franchise/DeadSpace''
** ''VideoGame/DeadSpace'' invokes this pretty early on, by having the shuttle you crash landed in explode in your face when you go back to try and repair it.
** Likewise ''VideoGame/DeadSpace2'', except this time it's not just the Necromorphs impeding your escape.
* In most of the ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' games the town you're in seems to have no entrance roads, i.e. a GatelessGhetto, or they're blocked by {{Insurmountable Waist Height Fence}}s. And to add to that, the district you start in is isolated from the rest of the city at the beginning of the game, either by BrokenBridge or BorderPatrol.
** Averted in the [[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV fifth game]], however.
* In ''VideoGame/InFamous'', Empire City has been quarantined following the explosion because of a spreading plague. And the military isn't kidding; an early mission is a blatant escape attempt only to watch [[spoiler: quite a few [=NPCs=] mowed down by a wall of machine guns at an exit point.]] Later on, gangbangers put hostages out for display on boats so the Navy won't sink them as they leave for open waters. [[spoiler: The player makes sure it doesn't come to that, but MissionControl assures him the gangbangers are wrong.]] Also happens on a smaller scale like ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' above; the routes into different boroughs are closed until the plot opens them.
* ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}'' does something similar. The main character can't swim, and the only other route out of the city is heavily guarded by the military, and impossible to break through without getting killed.
* ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime2Echoes''. Samus arrives on a planet in response to a distress call or otherwise, but her ship gets damaged, forcing a crash landing. Throughout the game, the ship is the process of gradually repairing itself while Samus is out and about on her adventure, and if you periodically return to the ship, you can even scan it and get a reading on how far the repairs have progressed.
* In ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'', most games evoke this trope to some degree:
** In ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil0'' Rebecca and Billy are trapped on a train, then a mansion, and finally an Umbrella research lab. All three locations are full of monsters and locked doors.
** In the first game, the your character and his/her team were attacked by mutated dogs and chased into the mansion. If you attempt to open the front door, one will jump in to attack you.
** ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil2'' starts with Leon and Claire fighting to escape the zombie-infested streets and get to the police station. Once they get there, the rest of the game is them trying to figure out how to escape.
** In ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil3Nemesis'' Jill is trapped in zombie raccoon city. At one point, Nemesis shoots down her rescue helicopter.
** ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilCodeVeronica'' has Chris and Claire stuck on a remote island and an isolated Antarctic research lab. Both of which are controlled by Umbrella and full of zombies.
** In ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4'', even after rescuing the President's daughter, the bridge to get out of town [[BrokenBridge is out]] and a helicopter [[spoiler:before Mike]] sent to pick you up apparently got shot down.
** ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilRevelations'': The characters spend the majority of the game trapped on {{Ghost Ship}}s infested with a new type of BOW. Bonus points for Jill and Parker's BSAA ship being destroyed by [[spoiler: Veltro agents]].
** ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilRevelations2'' takes place on an abandoned island near Russia. At one point, they find a helicopter but [[spoiler: Alex Wesker]] sabotages it causing it to crash.
* ''Franchise/SilentHill''
** In ''VideoGame/SilentHill1'' Harry Mason crashes his jeep after trying to dodge Alessa, who appears out of nowhere on the road. Later on in the game you can find the truck, but no vehicle including his truck works. Nor can he climb up the cliff he crashed down, and most of the town's exiting roads have [[BottomlessPit giant gaping pits]] straight to {{hell}}.
** In ''VideoGame/SilentHill2'', for most of the game you can backtrack to James' still working car parked in a freeway rest stop and theoretically leave, but you can't [[ButThouMust because then the game would be over.]]
** ''VideoGame/SilentHill3'' has a combo of case 1 and 3. At the beginning Heather goes into a ''slightly'' dark version of the mall populated by monsters by crawling out of a women's bathroom window and entering another section of a mall, but refuses to go back that way before facing monsters because the "weird old guy" is outside the bathroom door. Attempting to leave through that door after encountering monsters will reveal that the door can no longer be opened. In fact the long walk out of the bathroom to the other entrance of the mall, framed by the setting sun, is perhaps the only time direct sunlight seen in the series, and the alley is very appropriately blocked off by a van that leaves no space for the driver to enter or leave. Still, leaving through the women's restroom after meeting the first monster would ''probably'' still lead back to the DarkWorld. Interestingly, even after killing a boss and returning to the "real world" (quotations are used since it's still populated by flesh rending monsters) both she and the PI can't find any other real people but each other and two crazy cultists. Oh, and monsters, corpses, and monster corpses.
** ''VideoGame/SilentHill4'' actually does this ''three'' different ways, Henry starts off locked in his own apartment, then he discovers a way to travel to different locations - only to find that, due to locked doors, blocked exits, and enclosing fences, these areas are inescapable, too. Finally, [[spoiler: he manages to break free of his apartment, only to find that it's been a part of the DarkWorld all along]].
*** There's also a fourth example as part of a puzzle. Holding a specific item in his inventory in the forest will cause the pathway back to loop forever, so Henry must find a way to get it from point A to point B without carrying it.
** [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in ''VideoGame/SilentHillOrigins'' in a late cutscene when Dr. Kaufman asks Travis why he hasn't left yet if he hates the place so much, and Travis snaps back with an irritated "I ''can't''".
** Finally justified in ''VideoGame/SilentHillDownpour'': [[spoiler:The town won't ''let'' you leave - when Murphy gets smart and tries to hotwire a speedboat, the owner outright tells him that the town has "rules", and gets ''pissed'' if you break them. When Murphy ignores him, a horde of [[MakeMeWannaShout Screamers]] assault him and drive him away from the boat, plus all the giant fences that wall off explorable areas.]]
** ''VideoGame/SilentHills'': Other than the starting room and a mid-game break, [[spoiler:you spend the whole game wandering a very creepy hallway, which always loops back to start it all over again when you try to leave.]] Granted, word at the time was this wasn't indicative of what the full game was going to entail, but we'll never know since the whole thing was cancelled.
* ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou''; You're stuck in Shibuya whether you like it or not. Unlike most [=RPGs=] where the first town you visit is usually [[DoomedHometown blown to pieces.]]
* In the original ''VideoGame/{{Phantasy Star|I}}'', a guard forbids Alis from leaving the first town, although she can simply leave through another exit.
* In ''VideoGame/PhantasyStarOnline'', the people of Pioneer 2 are attempting to colonize the planet Ragol. However, colonization efforts are halted due to a mysterious explosion that cuts off all contact with the scientists already planetside, and can't proceed until the cause of the explosion and the fate of the scientists can be ascertained.
* ''[[VideoGame/LauraBow Colonel's Bequest]]'' and its sequel ''Laura Bow & The Dagger of Amon Ra'' both have closed circles. Though part two lets you wander about the city a bit before hand before [[LockedDoor locking the door]]. Both also have a SerialKiller walking about though only the first one is [[AxCrazy a psycho]] the other one is merely a [[MagnificentBastard man who would've gotten away with it]] if [[YouMeddlingKids Laura hadn't been there that night]].
** In fact many Creator/{{Sierra}} games feature closed circles, including ''VideoGame/LeisureSuitLarry 3, 6'' and ''VideoGame/QuestForGlory 1, 2, 4.''
** In at least ''Quest for Glory 2'', you actually can kind of leave through a magician's academy. However, [[ButThouMust It's game over if you do]]. Then again, it is an old Sierra adventure game, so that game over is [[EverythingTryingToKillYou par for the course.]]
** In the original King's Quest if you keep heading in one direction you will eventually end up where you started (provided [[EverythingTryingToKillYou nothing gets to you.]]. Later entries would bound the area with sheer mountains, oceans, deserts and other impassable terrain.
* In ''Videogame/FinalFantasyVII'', the characters are given a buggy needed to cross the obligatory knee-deep creek in their way to the next area. After crossing the creek, the buggy breaks down -- right in front of the town where the player needs to go. Once the quest inside that town is finished, the buggy is conveniently fixed, allowing them to cross the other obligatory knee-deep creek.
** If you went to the town first, thus not breaking the buggy, an NPC still offers to fix it for you. An odd oversight, as the town is easily spotted and the player is just as likely to go straight there.
* In ''VideoGame/DevilSurvivor'', everyone is caught in the Tokyo Lockdown -- nobody can get out of the Yamanote Circle, and has to deal with the demons, loss of electricity, limited supplies, and all the nasty ''human'' factors that come into play as the lockdown wears on.
* You ''can'' leave the dungeon in ''VideoGame/NetHack'' - but then the game calls you a coward and ends. You're actually ''supposed'' to leave once you have the Amulet of Yendor, but when you do, you step into the Astral Plane and head on up.
* In the original ''Videogame/{{Rogue}}'', the stairs only work one way until you get the Amulet of Yendor.
* In ''Videogame/AncientDomainsOfMystery'', you leave the Drakalor Chain (by going to the same part of the road where you arrived), but this permanently ends the game. Ideally you should do it after you finish the game's main goal. You can freely exit most of the dungeons and get back to the main map, provided you can survive the return trip. With the exception of the lowest levels of [[spoiler:the Caverns of Chaos]] once you've broken the elemental lock. After that, you can only go onward, to glory or death (or quitting, but where's the fun in that?)
* ''Videogame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'' has Joker take over the Arkham island, trapping Batman inside and forcing him to confront some of his major arch-enemies and a lot of henchmen. By the mid-point of the game, Batman displays that he could have left Arkham any time he felt like it, but refuses to do so until he gets the island back under control.
** While Batman himself could in theory leave whenever he likes, this is not true of other characters - at one point [[spoiler: Commissioner Gordon]] leaves via speedboat, only to be promptly recaptured by Joker's men.
** In the sequel, ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'', things just keep happening to keep Batman in the prison area rather than figuring out some kind of escape route. While the auto-targeting machine-guns and heavy guard presence, both on land and at sea, aren't in principle insurmountable, a) Hugo Strange knows his secret identity and will leak it if he leaves, b) he only has ten hours to figure out what's going on before "Protocol Ten" starts, and c) after a little while Joker poisons him and quite a few other people in Gotham, and the only hope of a cure in a meaningful timeframe is located within Arkham City.
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion'' - Intentionally invoked by the contracting client in the 'Whodunit?' quest for the Dark Brotherhood. The same client also awards a performance bonus for carrying the trope out to its murder mystery conclusion.
* ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsI'' starts because the characters feel this way. They live on a series of islands and feel like there's nothing to do, so they build a raft to see the world. Chain of Memories plays it straight. A narrow pathway leads to Castle Oblivion. There's nothing but an empty field in the opposite direction. To top it off, Marluxia appears and hints to Sora that Riku is there.
* ''VideoGame/{{Scratches}}'' not only uses this trope, it makes it ''your'' fault that you're trapped because you let your car's battery run down. Guess there aren't any cab services in rural England.
** [[AvertedTrope However the phone still works and you use it several times to communicate with the outside]]. And its also mentioned on the second day that the roads [[JustifiedTrope are closed because of the storm]].
* One of the main story quests in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' sends the PlayerCharacter into a Circle of Magi tower full of [[DemonicPossession abominations]] with the purpose of clearing out the creatures (and slaughtering any surviving mages, if the player [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential is feeling cruel]]). There is only one exit out of the tower and the door is locked behind the Warden when he/she enters. Incidentally, the name of the quest is "Broken Circle."
** The Golems of Amgarrak DLC also features this trope, as Jerrik and the Warden are unable to leave the thaig until the [[ThatOneBoss Harvester]] is defeated.
* In the first game of ''VideoGame/TheBardsTaleTrilogy'', the magic of the evil wizard [[BigBad Mangar]] has placed the area surrounding Skara Brae under perpetual winter conditions, making it impossible for the heroes to leave town for the entire game.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Shivers}}'', the player is locked in the museum grounds on a dare. In addition, once the player enters the museum, there is no way out.
* You are stuck in [[LovecraftCountry the eponymous]] [[TownWithADarkSecret town of]] ''Videogame/{{Anchorhead}}''. Your car broke down and has been towed away to the city of Arkham, and your purse and phone are in it. The only phone you can find doesn't work; the road out of town leads into wilderness. In addition, as [[spoiler:[[BigBad Croseus]]'s [[DemonicPossession power over him]]]] grows, your husband outright refuses to leave, and you're determined not to go without him.
* In ''VideoGame/DeadIsland'', military patrol boats surround the island and apparently shoot down any vehicle trying to pass by regardless of intention. [[spoiler:This is an attempt to keep the zombie experimentation as under wraps as possible via LeaveNoWitnesses.]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Penumbra}}'' Philip is forced to stay in the abandoned mine, first because of a blizzard outside, then because of a lack of accessible exits.
* Probably the only SurvivalHorror game in history to avert this is ''[[VideoGame/ClockTower Clock Tower: The First Fear]]''. At any point in the game, you can go to the garage, take the car keys, and drive away. [[spoiler:You can get two endings this way: One has Jennifer escape only to be found dead in her room 3 days later, the other has Scissorman rise out of the back seat as she's driving.]]
* In chapter [[spoiler:4]] of ''VideoGame/SpacePiratesAndZombies'' [[spoiler:you can't leave a system unless you kill lots of zombie bases or ships.]]
* Played with in VideoGame/LuigisMansion - At first, the front door is locked, but by the time Luigi finds the key, he's found evidence that Mario's probably somewhere in the mansion and therefore has no motivation to leave.
* All Sumio Mondo needs to do at Lospass Island in ''VideoGame/FlowerSunAndRain'' is stay one day at the hotel and then leave to disarm a bomb at the airport. Except there's a [[GroundhogDayLoop time loop]] that resets every time he fails, and first he has to solve a puzzle to leave his room, then open the stairwell, then unblock the lobby entrance...
* Yamatai Island in ''VideoGame/TombRaider2013'' is one. Storms pop up out of nowhere to destroy any transport that gets near the island (Along with any transport built or salvaged by the people on the island who try to leave), so the survivors of the Endurance are stuck there until Lara can figure out why and stop it.
* In many levels of ''VideoGame/EternalDarkness'', you can go to the main entrance and examine it, which will give you the reason why the current character can not or will not leave. For example, Paul Luther is framed for a murder and running away would be an admission of guilt, and Edwin Lindsey stays in the temple because nobody gets the better of Dr. Lindsey! [[spoiler: Even if that someone is an undead horror.]] The exceptions are Ellia who gets locked in by a GhostButler, and all the forbidden city levels (Pious, Karim, Roberto and Michael), as the forbidden city has no obvious exit.
* ''VideoGame/EphemeralFantasia'' combines this with GroundhogDayLoop. The game takes place on an island where time resets back to Monday at midnight on Friday, and the next ferry won't arrive until Saturday morning. Thus, only by ending the loop can one leave the island.
* ''VideoGame/TheMatrixPathOfNeo'' this is what happens when an Agent/the System 'seals' off an area in the Matrix. You can't leave until you've gotten rid of the Agents, or it's subverted in that you sometimes find a way out that they forgot to block off.
* The protagonist in ''VideoGame/{{Serena}}'' refuses to leave the log cabin for various reasons throughout the game.
* Like the [[VideoGame/AoOni video game]] that it was based off, the entire premise of ''VideoGame/HetaOni'' is that a group of nations are locked in a mansion, with one (or several) bizarre monsters trying to kill them. [[spoiler:The situation is inverted later, when the remaining nations find out what's going on and try to come to help out. They reach the mansion grounds, only to find that they can't get inside and must settle for fighting any monsters that wander out.]]
* As soon as you enter [[VideoGame/MysteryOfMortlakeMansion Mortlake Mansion]], you're trapped in there until the mystery is solved.
* The ''VideoGame/MysteryCaseFiles'' game ''Dire Grove'' has a form of this. The titular community is very isolated and experiences harsh weather conditions, so the residents pack up every fall and spend the winters elsewhere. Because of this, anyone who ''does'' go into the town during this off season has almost no chance of escaping it.
* ''VideoGame/DeadRising'' has Frank West invoke this ''on purpose'', telling the helicopter pilot to return in three days, as he is at the mall for a scoop. Unfortunately a zombie outbreak is happening at the same time, and the helicopter becomes both his and the survivors' only form of rescue. [[spoiler: [[FromBadToWorse At least at first.]]]]
* ''VideoGame/GoatSimulator'' has one boat in Goat City Bay that turns around and takes off when you land on it. If you ride it to its ultimate destination, it crashes on an island that has barriers around it to prevent you from "swimming" to shore. [[SubvertedTrope You can just pick "Respawn" from the menu to return to town, though.]]
* In ''Maze: Subject 360'' when the main character gets in her car and tries to leave Haven she encounters an endless road where everything looks exactly the same, courtesy of a malicious RealityWarper.
* The ''Phantasmat'' series has a variety of ways to trap its main characters, whether it's an avalanche or a car accident or the front door of a creepy old house vanishing.
* ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'': The Underground is one giant closed circle, thanks to the magical barrier preventing exit. The magic doesn't block entry at all, but the Underground only has two physical entrances, and local legends strongly discourage anyone from approaching. And the magic will allow someone with a sufficiently powerful SOUL to exit, but [[spoiler:the amount of power needed means a human has to kill a monster and take their SOUL to leave, or vice-versa]]. Unsurprisingly, the GoldenEnding has the barrier destroyed for good.
* ''VideoGame/ValkyrieDriveBhikkhuni'' is set in the eponymous island where Armed Virus carriers are sent to be quarantined until a cure is found. Unlike [[Anime/ValkyrieDriveMermaid the island of Mermaid]], Bhikkhuni is said to have developed an efective way to treat the symptoms of the disease.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Bloodborne}}'', Yarnhem is one of these. The game hides it well, by having gates in the game that are unopenable(and presumably would lead to other parts of the city or even outside) and due to the generally confusing city layout and large amounts of Gothic architecture(making it more difficult to tell what direction they're looking in).
* ''VideoGame/UltraDespairGirls'' has the cast trapped in a very bizarre robot-overrun town. When one character tried to escape via city canal, the bracelet on their wrist exploded in the middle of swimming out.
* One story in ''VideoGame/FateGrandOrder'' has two crime families and a larger crime organization under the front of the Marble Trading Company come together to hammer out the details for an arranged marriage between the two families in a beach house on an isolated island because of a letter threatening them to call off the engagement or someone would die. Unfortunately, whoever sent that letter came along with them and because transportation takes a while to arrive to the island, they're stuck with the murderer for several days. The protagonist accidentally intrudes upon it by magically possessing one of them in their dreams and [[spoiler:by giving the information to Sherlock Holmes, he deduces the island's location and charters a boat to go stop the murderer.]]
* In ''VideoGame/FredbearAndFriends'', when Thomas decides it's high time to leave the haunted pizzeria, he finds the exit door locked. After smashing the lock with a hammer, he discovers, to his horror, that the short corridor behind it that would normally lead to the exit now somehow ends with a solid wall, and the back door has likewise disappeared. [[spoiler:The front door returns after the clock hits 6 AM, although now it's locked with a keypad.]]

* ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'': 16 students are trapped inside a prestigious academy by a sadistic Teddy Bear named Monokuma. The only way to escape? [[DeadlyGraduation Kill one of your classmates]], then successfully cover up the crime.
** ''VisualNovel/SuperDanganRonpa2'' continues the trend but this time the students are trapped on a group of islands with no means of escape. There's even a closed circle within a closed circle when the students are trapped within a fun house located on the island.
* The characters of ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'' [[GenreSavvy joke about]] how being trapped on a remote island in a storm feels like an old-fashioned murder mystery -- right before the corpses start stacking up.
* ''Infinity'' series:
** ''VisualNovel/{{Ever17}}'' revolves around a group of people trapped in an underwater theme park.
** ''VisualNovel/{{Remember11}}'' involves ''two'' Closed Circle groups. Kokoro, Lin, Yomogi, and Yuni are trapped in a mountain cabin due to bad weather, and Satoru, Utsumi, Hotoru, and Yuni are at the SPHIA psychiatric hospital, which is located on a remote island.
* ''VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors'' and its first sequel ''VisualNovel/VirtuesLastReward'' are set on a cruise liner designed to flood after nine hours, and at an AbandonedWarehouse respectively, both converted to house a series of [[DeadlyGame Deadly Games]] intentionally designed to test the limits of [[WeAreStrugglingTogether group mentality]]. The third game, ''VisualNovel/ZeroTimeDilemma'', is set in a deliberately created ClosedCircle designed for an experiment, which the BigBad has modified to be even more [[DeadlyGame malicious]] than the first two.
* ''VideoGame/QueenAtArms'' has this going on, sort of. Protagonist Marcus is serving in the Ortheran army. Although a few chances come up for her to desert and run away, she is [[ButThouMust unable to take them]]. Even if the player has her try, it doesn't work.
* In ''VideoGame/EverybodysGoneToTheRapture'', this actually took place prior to the events of the game, in-universe; the village the game takes place in was apparently quarantined in the days leading up to the "Rapture." Plenty of people still tried to escape, with varying results.
* ''VideoGame/{{Obduction}}'' uses ''literal'' Closed Circles: each of the four abducted races is encased in a spherical bubble of force, cut off from each other. Even when you find a way to traverse the force-bubble walls, you only pop out on the opposite side of the same bubble, still confined within it.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/MitadakeSaga'' has an automatic lockdown triggered by the death of a teacher. This leaves the students trapped with a murderer. Who just so happens to be one of them...
* Goro of ''Webcomic/TheDragonDoctors'' had to fend off four thieves assaulting a hospital. The first attempt at doing so, activating an ice barrier around the hospital, accidentally locked the thieves ''in'' the hospital with her.
* The entirety of ''Webcomic/ProblemSleuth'' takes place inside a cruelly labyrinthine office building. The main characters spend all 1600+ pages solving its puzzles both in the building and in their imaginary worlds.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Most episodes of ''Franchise/ScoobyDoo'' and similar series start this way.
* ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' has 5-7 Maximals fighting 5-7 Predacons at Pre-historic Earth. Both factions' spaceships were totaled after the initial crash landing and the massive amount of energon radiation ensured that they could not communicate with any possible rescue parties.
** They do get the chance to get back several times, but the attempt is foiled each time. For example, the Maximals on Cybertron start sending out transwarp probes all over space and time, looking for Optimus Primal. One of these happens to show up in orbit of prehistoric Earth. The Maximals start building a communication array to contact the probe, but Megatron finds out and has the array destroyed, not willing to go to prison again. Another time, a transwarp wave is sent out from Earth and is intercepted by the Tri-Predacus Council (the rulers of the Predacons). They send a Predacon agent to find Megatron and arrest him but disrupt the wave before it reaches the Maximals. When the agent, a former Decepticon named Ravage, arrives, his ship seems like a way off Earth. [[StatusQuoIsGod it is destroyed at the end of the episode]].
* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' when the only bridge out of town is destroyed as a meteor is headed straight for them. Conveniently forgetting that Springfield has been shown to be on the ocean, bordered by a desert, a forest, and several other biomes.
* In the last few episodes of ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'', during the Weirdmaggedon arc, [[spoiler:the town is completely cut off from the rest of the Universe by the formation of a sort of bubble or dome]]. This is a rare example where this isn't really a bad thing, given the fact that it also keeps [[spoiler:Bill]] from leaving the area.
* [[Recap/FamilyGuyS9E1AndThenThereWereFewer In the season 9 premiere of]] ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'', ''And Then There Were Fewer'', a storm has taken out the bridge, stranding everyone in the mansion, there's no cell reception, and the landlines are dead.