%% Zero Context examples are not allowed on wiki pages. Please add context before uncommenting.

->''You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack\\
And you may find yourself in another part of the world\\
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile\\
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife\\
And you may ask yourself, "Well, how did I get here?"''
-->-- '''Music/TalkingHeads''', [[Music/RemainInLight "Once in a Lifetime"]]

The characters [[ClosedCircle are locked in]], have no idea [[YouWakeUpInARoom how they got there]], why they're there, or how to get out, nor do they know exactly who is behind their predicament, if anyone.

The main thrust of such stories is the investigation of the restricted environment in which the characters find themselves, with the goal of mastering it, revealing its secrets, and eventually escaping. Often those approaching the truth are sharply [[YankTheDogsChain yanked back]].

The genre is usually a metaphor for the unknowns and Big Questions of RealLife: what is my purpose, why are we here, what can be done to solve the unsolvable?

May overlap with SmallSecludedWorld, WorldLimitedToThePlot, AlternateUniverse, PlanetOfHats, AdventureTowns or LotusEaterMachine. Almost always employs FailureIsTheOnlyOption and a veritable ''swarm'' of [[SchrodingersButterfly Schrodinger's Butterflies]] to obfuscate issues. There's usually a StrawNihilist in the cast saying it's all pointless.

See also the QuestForIdentity, where the main character doesn't even know who he is. A subtrope of the DrivingQuestion. The simpler versions are YouWakeUpInARoom. Often spawns an EscapeFromTheCrazyPlace. Some are examples of BeautifulVoid. Some fans may want the various mysteries to be LeftHanging. See also SendInTheSearchTeam, when the characters ''do'' know how they got there, and now they need to find out what happened. May have an AmnesiacHero.

Compare EpiphanicPrison. Contrast EerilyOutOfPlaceObject, for non-personal ontological mysteries.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
%%* Volume 36 of ''Manga/AhMyGoddess'' After a case of mass amnesia
%%* ''Anime/AngelBeats''
* ''Anime/TheBigO'' Roger Smith is a negiotator in a domed city (implied to be [[spoiler: a futuristic New York City]]) where everyone came down with a case of unexplained LaserGuidedAmnesia forty years ago. The outside world is seldom referred to, but it's implied to be largely an unexplored wasteland.
%%* In ''Manga/{{Doubt}}'' a group of friends are kidnapped and taken to an abandoned psychiatric hospital.
* ''Manga/DriftingClassroom'': A school building and the students inside find themselves transported to a barren desert world, with no clue how they got there.
* ''Anime/EdenOfTheEast'': A naked man wakes up outside the White House, holding a gun. Good luck figuring out what happened, chief.
* ''Anime/ErgoProxy'' has plenty of these, though only in individual episodes (e.g. 11, 14, 15, and 19)
* ''Manga/{{Gantz}}'' involves people dying, and then waking up in an empty apartment with several strangers. A mysterious sphere in the middle of the room commands them to go out wearing special equipment and hunt aliens.
* In ''LightNovel/{{Gosick}}'', Kazuya and Victorique end up on a ship that's pretty mysterious. Although they DO know how they got there (from a ticket given to a dead woman they didn't want to let go to waste) in flashback scenes the original children sent to the ship 20 years earlier was very much an Ontological Mystery. For Victorique it's solving the mystery AGAIN in order to survive.
* ''Anime/HaibaneRenmei'': the precise nature of the town of Glie is left mysterious throughout, and although there is a way for the Haibane to leave, it's never clear where they go or how, leading to speculation among fans that Glie is [[spoiler:an [[EveryoneIsJesusInPurgatory allegory for Purgatory, or that it IS Purgatory]].]]
* In ''Manga/{{Judge}}'', a bunch of people who are strangers to each other wake up in an abandoned building wearing animal masks. Every four hours, they're forced to vote to decide which one of them is going to die.
%%* ''Anime/{{Kaiba}}''
%%* ''Anime/{{Megazone 23}}''
* ''Anime/PrincessTutu'' features a small village where an old fairy tale seems to be coming to life. The world outside the village is rarely referenced, and people seem to take the odd happenings as completely normal. There's also an old legend about the author of said fairy tale, who left the tale incomplete after his untimely demise....
* ''Anime/GargantiaOnTheVerdurousPlanet'': A teenage boy has been fighting a brutal race of [[EverythingsSquishierWithCephalopods space mollusks]] for literally his whole life, when he finds himself flung through a wormhole to Earth...which is now largely flooded and was thought to be uninhabitable. After some {{Breather Episode}}s of him settling into a relaxed civilian lifestyle, [[CerebusSyndrome things start get getting foreboding]].
* ''Manga/UruseiYatsura: Beautiful Dreamer'' is built entirely around figuring out why the world keeps changing into increasingly improbable forms. It has something to do with dreams and the story of Urashima Taro...
* ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'': Humanity has spent the last century holed up within three massive Walls, protected from the Titans that appeared seemingly out of nowhere and devoured mankind to the brink of extinction. No one knows where the Titans came from, or even how the Walls that protect them were constructed -- the cult that worships them claims they were a divine gift. Information on the outside world is strictly controlled by the government, and people with interest in exploring outside the Walls are labeled as heretics.
** Oh, and [[spoiler:there are Titans in the freaking walls, too]]. Which is a hint as to this whole business, but still...
* ''LogHorizon'' is a more direct instance of this trope as unlike other 'trapped in an MMORPG' series's, the ''Elder Tale'' game didn't use any kind of special VR-Interface (just a standard keyboard/mouse/microphone setup), leaving the characters at a loss as to how they got transported into the game at all, or how they might get home.
* Several of these drive the story in OnePiece, the biggest of which is the nature of the "One Piece" treasure itself. There's also the "Void Century", a hundred-year gap in recorded history that ended with the World Government coming into power.
* ''Manga/ThePromisedNeverland'' starts in a peaceful orphanage that the children are only allowed to leave when they are sent to their "foster family" - [[PeopleFarm i.e sent to be killed and eaten by monsters.]] The protagonists learn the truth about what their orphanage really is and they do have access to books and scientific knowledge, but they have no idea what those demons are, what happened to humanity, or what awaits them if they manage to escape.
* ''Anime/KemonoFriends'' starts with an amnesiac girl in a savannah. There are several other girls with [[LittleBitBeastly animal traits]]. Also {{blob monster}}s, robots, and semi-functional machinery. Slowly uncovering just what's going on is much of the series' appeal.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/FinalCrisis Aftermath: Escape'' has a number of characters from Franchise/TheDCU's espionage community trapped in a dreamlike "Electric City" with no idea how they got there.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the world of ''Fanfic/HybridTheory'', there is a myth of Susano-o and Orochi. The fact that there are now at least three Orochis running around, each clearly the inspiration for the original myth which contained ''only'' one Orochi, means something has gone horribly wrong somewhere... Only Aaron has heard the voice of the one who set everything in motion, Chris being too dead at the time. There are many educated guesses, but no-one really has a clue as to what is going on. The lack of a cohesive universal backstory is bad enough on Earth where most of the societies appear 'normal' until their stories really get rolling. [[Anime/TenchiMuyo Washuu]] wakes up to find that the galaxy she's traveled end to end as a citizen of the peaceful Jurai Empire is now half-full of planets that ''have always been'' under the cruel thumb of warmongering [[Manga/SailorMoon Sailor Galaxia]].
* ''Fanfic/HomeWithTheFairies'' presents Maddie's insertion into ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' as a mystery. The readers know that Maddie [[TrappedInAnotherWorld fell into Middle-earth]], but Maddie does not. She only knows that she is in a field and not in her apartment. Then she walks to civilization, but finds a medieval village, where [[LanguageBarrier none speak English,]] and none know of America. Maddie discovers this fairy-tale world, but not why it chose her to come here.
* [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] and [[PlayingWithATrope played with]] in ''FanFic/TheRWBYLoops'' thoroughly. Due to the nature of the loops, the characters themselves know nothing firm about their pasts that WebAnimation/{{RWBY}} fans wouldn't know; this has a number of results, especially when the core series reveals some new factoid about their past, and feeds into the plot repeatedly.
* Though the medical ''do'' explain why Twilight is in an asylum in the MLP fanfic, ''FanFic/{{Asylum}}'', whether or not they can be trusted, whether or not Twilight is insane, and whether or not there are more sinister things happening in the world in which she woke are left to the reader to decide.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/WakingLife'' revolves around attempts by the protagonist to [[spoiler:wake up]] from a [[SchrodingersButterfly possibly]] [[spoiler:terminal dreamstate]].

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/{{Circle}}'': Fifty people regain consciousness in a dark room, arranged in a circle around a strange-looking mechanism that kills one of them every two minutes. The subjects range in age from single digits to near-centenarian, and not one of them knows how they got where they are. They quickly figure out the premise, however--not only must one of their number die every 120 seconds, but they are the ones who determine who gets whacked next. Zany--err, paranoid hijinks ensue.
* ''Film/{{Cube}}'', its sequel ''Film/Cube2Hypercube'', and its prequel ''Film/CubeZero''. A group of people of differing backgrounds and skill sets wake up in cubical rooms which connect to other cubical rooms (all of the rooms together forming a giant, you guessed it, cube). There are deathtraps. Have fun!
* ''Film/DarkCity'': The protagonist wakes up with EasyAmnesia and {{Telekinesis}} in a city with no exits and where day never dawns. Oh, and there's a dead hooker in the other room.
%%* As is the ''Film/SourceCode''.
* The first ''Film/SawI'' movie. In later movies it is already established who is behind all of it, but the OntologicalMystery still applies to specific (groups of) characters.
* ''Film/GroundhogDay'' is less interested in why the loops started or ended and more interested in how its protagonist responds to it. The commentary notes the story is about him changing from 'a prisoner of the time and place to the master of the time and place'.
%%* ''Film/{{Identity}}'': All the guests are trapped in the motel during a bad rainstorm that knocked out the power lines, ensuring that no one can call for help.[[spoiler: The ontological mystery part is, that everything is happening in the mind of a single person who suffers from multiple personality disorder (each of the ten guests represents one personality).]]
%%* ''The Exterminating Angel''
* ''Film/TheFountain'' portrays RealLife as an ontological trap that can only be escaped through death. TheProtagonist refuses to accept this and, having eaten from the bark of the mythical tree of life at the fountain of youth, becomes [[WhoWantsToLiveForever doomed to outlive the rest of humanity because he's trapped in a spaceship on the edge of a dying star.]]
%%* ''Film/{{Paycheck}}''
* ''Film/EdenLog''. A man wakes up in the middle of a dark cave, not knowing how he got there, and trying to find his way out.
%%* ''Film/{{Pandorum}}'', which bears a few similarities to ''[[Film/EdenLog Eden Log]]''.
%%* ''Film/AlienCargo''
%%* ''Film/HouseOf9''
* ''Film/{{Mindhunters}}'' The characters know ''why'' they're on a secluded island: an FBI profiler training exercise. It doesn't take long before they're cut of from the outside world and it turns out that there's a killer amongst them who starts murdering them one by one.
%%* ''Film/{{Memento}}''
* ''Film/{{Exam}}'' has the characters at a job interview in which they are presented with a 'test' that turns out to be a blank sheet of paper. They have to work out what the problem is and then solve it, and they're all rivals for a highly sought after job. If any of them leave the room, they lose the chance. Panic rises and things get violent...
* ''Film/NineDead''. The protagonists all wake up in a cell chained to a wall. Their captor tells them that one of them will die every ten minutes unless they can tell him why they are there.
%%* ''Film/{{Captivity}}'',
* For ''Film/{{Inception}}'', one of the clues that you're in a dream is when you can't remember how you got to where you are.

* The "amnesia game" is one of the most common types of theatre-style live-action roleplaying games. Only the DeadlyDecadentCourt is more popular.

* The Creator/HPLovecraft short-story "The Outsider": a man has lived his whole life in a dark castle beneath an all-enclosing forest that blocks out the sky. Yet, he feels strangely that he has not always been there...
* Creator/WilliamSleator's ''Literature/HouseOfStairs'': five teenagers wake up in the titular House of Stairs. It's a giant complex of interlocking stairs and platforms, but none of the stairs lead out; they only connect to other parts of the maze.
* ''Literature/{{Issola}}'': A couple of people our protagonist considered completely indestructible have gone missing. Not even Sethra Lavode, who very much deserves her ShroudedInMyth status, can find them by herself. She knows how to get Vlad there, and he arrives to find his two friends stuck in unbreakable, seamless chains in an empty room with no exits that appears to be on another planet. The plot hinges on figuring out how the hell the bad guys managed it, and why.
%%* ''Literature/{{Minotavr}}'' (Minotaur).
* ''The Helmet of Horror'' by Victor Pelevin. Several people wake up in rooms connected only by a chat-like computer system; each room opens into a labyrinth. Some labyrinths are real, some metaphorical, and one is accessible only through dreams.
* ''Literature/{{Dungeon}}'' series: beings from all times and spaces are brought to a nine-leveled artificial prison called the Dungeon. At no point in the series is the Dungeon's origins, masters or purpose made clear, only speculated on.
* ''Literature/{{Illium}}'': Spans three planets rather than a room. The mystery is just what has happened between our time and this imaginary far future to make the latter so bizarre. For a start, where did all those Greek gods using advanced technology and living on Mars come from? The characters on Earth in particular take their condition as a mystery to be solved and try to escape the definite confines that are set upon them even as they are able to teleport around the world freely.
* ''Literature/TheTrial'' by Creator/FranzKafka
-->Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested. [[spoiler: At the end he finds out that he is guilty of life and original sin. Once he realizes the nature of his crime, he submits willingly.]]
* Also by Kafka, ''Literature/TheCastle''. A surveyor is summoned to the town surrounding a tremendous castle of [[ObstructiveBureaucrat Obstructive Bureaucrats]], and nobody is sure why; the protagonist thinks he knows who he needs to talk to so he can find out, but first he has to get an appointment with the undersecretary and convince him to give him an appointment with the regular secretary... and so on. He is inexplicably appointed two childish assistants that mostly just make fun of him. The book was never finished, so it's not clear if there ever was an ending.
* ''[[Literature/TheMazeRunner The Maze Runner Trilogy]]'':
** ''The Maze Runner'' has the main protagonists trapped in a [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin maze]].
** ''The Scorch Trials'', is about them trapped in the deserts of a future Earth.
* ''Literature/{{Riverworld}}'' by Philip José Farmer has apparently everyone ever born trapped between a desert and a river, with their intact memories from birth to death in our real world. If you happen to die again, you wake up again in a different spot along the river. Later books provide an unconvincing rationale for this.
* One of the many themes in ''Literature/HouseOfLeaves''. It's also one of the less {{Mindscrew}}y themes, which should give you some idea of what the book is like.
* ''Literature/MoreThanThis'' begins as the protagonist wakes up in an abandoned town after he dies and has no idea why.
* In the Creator/RobertSheckley short story "Potential", the protagonist awakens to find himself alone on a spaceship that was apparently hastily constructed and launched at the last minute, just before Earth was destroyed. He has no memory of anything, even his own identity. The ship is automated and has no controls; it is searching for a planet, but the protagonist has no idea what kind of planet or what he's supposed to do when he gets there. A hastily scrawled note tells him where he can find a video recording that explains his mission. He finds that it's been destroyed.
* In the Creator/FredricBrown short story ''Literature/HallOfMirrors'', a 25-year-old man suddenly finds himself fifty years in the future. In a locked room, with a letter addressed to him on the desk. Reading it, he learns that he is actually 75 years old, but has just de-aged himself, which erased his memory of the last fifty years. The letter is from his older self, and it includes the horrifying explanation of ''why'' he has done this. And may have to do it again, fifty years from now.
* Creator/PiersAnthony's ''Literature/{{Mercycle}}''. The characters are not locked in a room, however, they are compelled into the task of riding bicycles under the ocean with no idea who hired them and for what purpose. It's pretty much ''Film/{{Cube}}'' in the sea.
* ''Literature/TheDivineComedy'' begins with Dante lost in a dark forest with too little memory to explain how he got there beyond being extremely tired when he left the true path. He only escapes the forest thanks to the intercession of Beatrice, who reveals that Dante's deviations came as a result of seeking to replace his dead love with lesser, counterfeit goods.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Both ''Series/{{Buffy|the Vampire Slayer}}'' and ''Series/{{Angel}}'' did this in one episode each: "Tabula Rasa" for Buffy and "Spin The Bottle" for Angel. In both cases, a spell intended to affect memories went wrong and resulted in the entire main cast [[LaserGuidedAmnesia losing their memories]]. In "Tabula Rasa," they got complete IdentityAmnesia. In "Spin The Bottle," they got IdentityAmnesia removing all memories since their teenage years. In both cases, there were many logical but amusingly wrong deductions made about what was going on before they managed to undo the spell.
** "Spin the Bottle" was particularly hilarious given that the dour, contemplative Angel was once the hard-drinking thug Liam. Oh, and he doesn't remember he's a vampire.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'': A plane crashes on an island and weird things start happening. Beyond that, what happens is a matter of debate within the fandom because the mystery about the nature of the island is mind screwy.
%%* ''Film/TheLangoliers''
%%* 1977's ''Fantastic Journey''
%%* ''Series/LandOfTheLost''
%%* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' had several episodes based on or employing this subgenre:
%%** The original pilot, "The Cage"
%%** "The Empath"
%%** "The Mark of Gideon"
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'':
%%** "Allegiance"
%%** "Remember Me"
%%** "Cause and Effect"
%%** "The Next Phase"
%%** "Frame of Mind"
** "Clues": The ''Enterprise'' crew is revived by Data after having been rendered unconscious by a NegativeSpaceWedgie. It quickly becomes apparent that they were unconscious much longer than they had thought, that Worf has somehow sustained a major injury, ship's records have been tampered with, and that [[OOCIsSeriousBusiness Data is desperately trying to cover up]] whatever happened during the lost time.
** "Conundrum": The characters' memories are erased and they are left with no contact with the outside world. They need to figure out the purpose of the ship, their roles on it, and the validity of their apparent mission to destroy a planet. Their only initial clues are their positions on the bridge and the design of the ship.
%%* ''Series/StargateAtlantis'': "Tabula Rasa."
%%* ''Series/TheAvengers'': "The House That Jack Built."
* ''Series/TheTwilightZone'':
** "Five Characters in Search of an Exit." An Army major, a ballerina, a hobo, a clown, and a bagpiper wake up in a cylindrical grey room, with no memory of their lives before that moment, and a deafeningly loud, gonglike noise occasionally makes the room shake wildly. All make guesses about where they are and why. Limbo, a dream, space, and hell itself are mentioned. Where and what they are is revealed -and turns out to be entirely unexpected.
-->'''Ballerina''': "We don't know who we are, we don't know where we are. Each of us woke up one moment, and here we were in the darkness. We're nameless things with no memory no knowledge of what went before, no understanding of what is now, no knowledge of what will be."
%%"Stopover in a Quiet Town," and the pilot episode "Where is Everybody?"
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS6E2TheMindRobber The Mind Robber]]" starts when Salamander's interference crashes the TARDIS outside time. Venturing outside, the Doctor and his companions find themselves in a nightmare of impossible happenings and literary characters come to life.
** "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E12BadWolf Bad Wolf]]", where the Doctor, Rose and Jack all wake up in DeadlyGame [[GameShow Shows]] with no idea who brought them or why.
** "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS31E7AmysChoice Amy's Choice]]". The Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves being transported between two realities, forced by the Dream Lord to choose which is real and which is a dream. [[spoiler: When the Doctor realizes that the Dream Lord is a manifestation of his own dark side and can manipulate events in both worlds, he correctly concludes that both scenarios are dreams.]]
** "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS32E11TheGodComplex The God Complex]]" with a [[HellHotel nightmarish hotel]] that has a room for ''everyone'' and no apparent exit. The Doctor even lampshades it.
---> '''The Doctor:''' Big day for a fan of walls!
** "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS34E5TimeHeist Time Heist]]" begins with the Doctor answering the phone and then suddenly he, Clara, and two people they have never met before are in the most impregnable bank in the galaxy, having agreed to rob it on behalf of a mysterious benefactor, recorded a message to themselves explaining that they have accepted this mission, and then erased their own memories of doing so. Half the episode is them carrying out the heist, the other half is trying to figure out who orchestrated this whole thing and how they seem to have infiltrated the bank already yet still need help robbing it.
** "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS35E11HeavenSent Heaven Sent]]" has the Doctor accept a transmat from an unknown source that leaves him in an enormous castle, deserted except for a GrimReaper-like monster.
%%* ''Day Break''
* In 1969 Creator/{{NBC}} aired ''Film/TheCube'', an hour long teleplay about a man trapped in a cube, wondering what was real and what wasn't. It was written and directed by Creastor/JimHenson, [[PlayingAgainstType of all people]], [[http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3907143513685066286&q=source%3A012548278483389840673&hl=en# in a very un-Muppety not-played-for-laughs kind of way.]]
%%* ''Series/NowhereMan'' - Of the LossOfIdentity variety.
%%* ''PersonsUnknown''
* ''Series/TheOuterLimits1963'': "The Probe," the last episode of the original series. A group of plane crash survivors find themselves in a mysterious closed environment full of lab equipment, stalked by a grotesque monster, with no idea how they got there or how to get out. It turns out that [[spoiler:they were brought aboard an alien space probe, the monster is a huge, mutated microbe, and they're released when they manage to communicate with the aliens]].
%%* ''Series/TowerPrep''
* The [[Recap/BlackMirrorWhiteBear second episode of season two]] in ''Series/BlackMirror'' has the protagonist wake up from presumably an attempted suicide attempt and amnesia to an empty street, until she notices people filming her actions on their phones, and an AxCrazy mob of MalevolentMaskedMen.
** The series' [[Recap/BlackMirrorWhiteChristmas Christmas special]] starts with two men in an isolated outpost and [[spoiler:one of them has no idea how he got there]]...
* ''Series/{{Castle}}'': "Cuffed" opens with Castle and Beckett handcuffed together in a locked room with no memory of how they got there.
* ''Series/AshesToAshes'': Modern day detective Alex Drake is transported to a strange new 1981 world when she is shot. Using her psychological training, she must examine if she is in her own mind, undergone time travel, etc. in order to return to her daughter back home. [[note]]The writers knew what the world was from the start, so the ending didn't fall into a ''Series/{{Lost}}'' trap of not being able to tie up loose ends. Clues are even in the [[Series/LifeOnMars2006 prequel series.]][[/note]]
** The mystery is examined [[TimeDilation from]] [[EpiphanicPrison every]] [[PsychologicalTormentZone angle]].
* Prequel to ''Series/AshesToAshes'', ''Series/{{Life on Mars|2006}}'' has Sam Tyler... who is less concerned with investigating the world than he is with trying to adjust to it.
** Sam actually rather likes his new world. In fact, [[spoiler: after [[RedPillBluePill weighing his options]] when he leaves, [[IChooseToStay he commits suicide to return.]] ]]
* ''Series/TheFortyFourHundred'': In the fourth season episode "No Exit" Tom Baldwin, Diana Skouris, Meghan Doyle, Marco Pacella, Brady and P.J. wake up to find themselves locked into the NTAC offices in Seattle where they work joined by Tom's son Kyle and oldest nephew Shawn Farrell, Diana's adopted daughter Maia, as well as Jordan Collier and Isabelle Tyler. During the episode they have to fight the building itself as it turns on them, cooperate, find out why they're there and find a way out.
* ''{{Series/Dollhouse}}'' plays with this trope in "Needs", in which the Actives wake up in their sleeping chambers with their original personalities before they were mind-wiped, but with no memory of how they came to be there.
* ''Series/ThePrisoner'' woke up in The Village, with no idea why he's there, and who's really in charge. Even the very possibility of escaping it is an open question.
* ''Series/RedDwarf'': In "Thanks for the Memory", the characters wake up with no memory of the last four days. Lister and the Cat each have a foot in a cast. Four pages have been torn out of Lister's diary, the ship's black box is missing, and the jigsaw puzzle Lister had been working on is finished. They have to track down the black box and play back its recording to find out what happened.
* The characters in ''Series/BeyondTheWalls'' know how they got ''into'' the House, but that's about it. Julien has a vague idea about finding a red door to be able to leave, but he has been in there for the better part of a century, without much progress, despite mapping the place. As it turns out, the only way to leave is [[spoiler: a rather difficult combination of interpretation of scripture, having a very specific epiphany and the balls to journey into the deepest bowels of the house, where the zombie-like inhabitants crawl around in the hundreds]].
* ''Series/DarkMatter'' is a paradigm of the trope: six people awaken from hypersleep aboard a spaceship with no idea who they are or what they are doing there, and the series' plot is driven by their attempts to find out.
* ''Series/BlackMirror'': In "White Bear" Victoria Skillane wakes up with amnesia in a room she does not recognise. She then starts to experience terrifying encounters in what appears to be some kind of strange post-apocalyptic world and an apocalypse she has missed. She later finds out that [[spoiler: she is and has for an unknown amount of time been trapped in a creative method of punishment for crimes she committed before having her memory repeatedly wiped, with members of the public being invited to watch her be tortured and then paraded through the streets every day]].

* ''Cthulhu City'', a setting for ''Trail of Cthulhu'', is about a set of characters trapped in an impossible city which is best described as a mix of all of the fictional cities in Creator/HPLovecraft's work, ruled by the forces of the Franchise/CthulhuMythos. There are several possible explanations for this; figuring out which one is true and escaping the city are two of the main long-term goals.

%%* ''Theatre/NoExit''
* ''Theatre/{{Waiting for Godot}}'': While Vladimir and Estragon know where they are and why they're there, they don't know if it's the right place or even who they're waiting for is, other than his name is Godot.
%%** ''Endgame'' also, with a JustBeforeTheEnd flavor to it.
%%* ''Theatre/SixCharactersInSearchOfAnAuthor'' is Luigi Pirandello's way of making the ''theater itself'' into an Ontological Mystery.
%%* ''Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead'': Repeatedly discussed by the titular characters
* The second half of the fourth Bottom Live show has Richie and Eddie inexplicably falling into a steel dome and thus the two of them have to figure out how to escape and get back to their show for the second act.

* ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}''. Although the characters themselves don't ask questions relating to how they, a [[SchizoTech bunch of sentient cyborgs, came to be living a primitive lifestyle on a tropical island ]], WordOfGod has stated that this was a major source of the series' appeal in the early years, as the viewer would be curious as to how this situation came about. The Matoran were unaware that they were suffering from mass amnesia, so they were just as surprised as the viewers were when their origins were slowly revealed over the next few years of storyline.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* A genre of web games, the [[RoomEscapeGame "escape-the-room game,"]] is based on this. The player is trapped in a room and has to search the place for items in order to get out. It typically starts with some EasyAmnesia to explain why the player doesn't know how they got into the room. Examples include ''[[http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/room Crimson Room]]'' and its sequel ''[[http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/viridian Viridian Room,]]'' and ''VideoGame/MysteryOfTimeAndSpace''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Countdown}}'' by Access Software opens with the protagonist waking up in a mental asylum without memory.
* ''VideoGame/{{Myst}}''. Interestingly, the first game has the 'who am I and where I am' set up but the the rest of the series does not because the player is expected to retain this knowledge from the first game, or [[LateArrivalSpoiler get the crib notes of it]]. The exception is ''VideoGame/MystVEndOfAges''.
--> [[http://www.deviantart.com/art/How-to-play-Myst-71495581 On starting the game you are confronted by a single question that follows you for the duration of the play]]: "What is going on?" [[TropesAreNotBad This is in no way a bad thing]]. The compulsion to explore and learn more about the world in ''is'' the game.
* ''VideoGame/TheSeventhGuest:''
--> '''Ego:''' How did I get here? I remember... Nothing.
* ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'' is an all-puzzle GaidenGame. The protagonist has no memories nor any idea how they arrived at the Enrichment Center and the plot is driven by her attempts to escape.
%%* Neku in ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou,'' and technically any player who [[spoiler: bet their memories on winning the Reapers' Game.]]
* ''5 Days a Stranger'' from the ''VideoGame/ChzoMythos'' series. Trilby's perfectly innocent attempt to rob a deserted mansion turns into a nightmare when he and several others are trapped inside by an unknown force.
%%** VideoGame/TwelveThirteen
* ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' begins with the amnesiac [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Nameless One]] waking up in a mortuary in the otherworldly city of Sigil. Piecing together who the Nameless One is makes up most of the story.
* ''VideoGame/TheNeverhood'' begins with our hero Klaymen trapped in a room (see above) with no information, and goes from there. Justified in that you later find out [[spoiler: he had just been created and doesn't ''have'' any backstory.]]
* ''eXperience112'' (''The Experiment'' in America), the player is trapped in a control room with no memory how he got there. Notable in that you do not leave the room -- you use its controls to manipulate another character into solving puzzles for you.
* In ''VideoGame/EternalSonata,'' Frederick Chopin views all of the events that transpire in the game as nothing more than a dying dream. Finding out whether or not that's true is a major element to the story.
* ''VideoGame/TheWhiteChamber:'' You wake up in a coffin [[spoiler: on a space station.]] You can leave, but you'll die of asphyxiation.
* ''VideoGame/{{Theresia}}'' for the DS fits this perfectly, with the main character slowly regaining her memories throughout the game, and the house is filled with deadly traps.
* ''VideoGame/SilentHill4: The Room'' - the only chapter in the series in which the protagonist didn't willingly enter.
* This style is one of the [[OlderThanNES oldest computer games:]] ''[[http://www.freearcade.com/Zplet.jav/Advent.html Adventure,]]'' originally copyright 19'''73'''; ''[[http://www.freearcade.com/Treasure.jav/Treasure.html Adventures in 4 dimensions,]]'' originally copyright 1979, updated in the early 90's; and ''[[http://www.freearcade.com/Zplet.jav/Count.html The Count]]'' which was originally written for the UsefulNotes/TRS80, which was only sold from 1977 to 1981.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'':
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaLinksAwakening'', if you press the islanders on how they arrived on the island or the outside world, they're unable to respond and get migraines.
** The beginning of ''VideOGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'': Link is sent into a parallel world after being transformed into a Deku Shrub and finds himself in the middle of a strange town, unable to escape because there are guards in every exit blocking his path. He needs to find out exactly where he is, what is going on and how to return to normal in three in-game days' time before the world ends. Afterwards, the game plays like a regular ''Zelda'' game.
** At the start of ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild'', Link wakes up in a strange cave called the Shrine of Resurrection with no knowledge of [[AmnesiacHero who he is]], how he got there, or why he's being guided to specific locations. While you eventually get a chunk of exposition at the end of the tutorial section explaining the basic gist of the backstory and Link's role, there are still lots of recoverable memories, old diaries, and NPC interactions that give you a much more complete picture of what happened.
* The prologue of ''VideoGame/AmnesiaTheDarkDescent''. The rest of the game is about rediscovering your past identity and past actions. [[spoiler:Which are far from pleasant.]]
* The goal in ''VideoGame/RuleOfRose'' is to learn of Jennifer's past and come in terms with it.
* ''VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors'': You wake up in a 3rd class cabin of a flooding ship [[spoiler:(a recreation of a flooding ship, anyway)]], and must escape in under 9 hours (through a mysterious "Nonary Game"), after which the floodgates will reopen and the ship will do its submarine impression.
** The same goes for the sequel, ''VisualNovel/VirtuesLastReward''. You wake up in a mysterious facility [[spoiler:in a base on the moon]], and are forced to play the "Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition" in order to escape.
** In ''VisualNovel/ZeroTimeDilemma'', the last game of the trilogy, you wake up imprisoned in another underground facility, and are forced to play yet another deadly game. However, this game takes place before VLR chronologically, and the setup suggests that only three people can escape alive. Yet ''four'' of the participants in this game appear in VLR, and a fifth is confirmed to survive by WordOfGod. How this is possible is one of the most salient plot questions. Also, while most of the characters do know how they got to the facility this time, some of the details aren't revealed to the player until much later, and (as in the previous installments) there's one character who has no prior memories at all.
* Videogame/{{Submachine}}, a point-and-click adventure series has infinite layers of complexities and strange dimention-warping room-escape-esque games. Even when in a literally infinite open space, you still cannot escape.
* In ATLUS' game ''VideoGame/{{Catherine}}'' every one of the sheep in the Nightmare World start off completely oblivious, including Vincent. Many conversations on the landings involve trying to discover who the rumored witch is, why they are there, and whether or not there even is an exit. The only sure exit from these nightmares [[spoiler:is death]]. [[spoiler:The trials themselves are highly symbolic of maturity, dealing with Vincent's unwillingness to take responsibility]].
* The main characters of ''Videogame/LevelUp!'' are a girl with no backstory and a guy with no memories [[CrashIntoHello who lands on her fence.]]
* ''VideoGame/FragileDreamsFarewellRuinsOfTheMoon'' is a variation of this. It can be summed up as "[[TheLastManHeardAKnock the last man on earth]] went outside."
* ''VideoGame/{{Second Sight}}'': The player character wakes up in what looks like a hospital room with amnesia and is trying to find out who he is and why he is there.
* ''VideoGame/OperatorsSide'' begins with your character mysteriously waking up in a space station's control room after a monster attack, not knowing how he got in there or where his girlfriend is, with his only link to the outside world being a cocktail waitress named Rio.
* ''VideoGame/TheStarshipDamrey'', for the 3DS you wake up from Cold Sleep with amnesia, you can't get out of your box, and you need to explore the eponymous ship using remote controlled robots. It uses a lot of NothingIsScarier
* Nageki's situation in ''VisualNovel/HatofulBoyfriend''. He has no memories, is restricted to a handful of rooms, and most people are "[[InvisibleToNormals ignoring]]" him.
--> I feel uncomfortable. Where did I come from? Where was I born? The fact that I am trapped in here is the least of the mysteries plaguing my mind. Nervous. I'm nervous.
* ''VideoGame/SystemShock'' and the sequel, ''VideoGame/SystemShock2'', both begin this way. In the first game, you awaken from a coma aboard Citadel Station. In the latter game, you are brought out of cryo aboard the starship ''Von Braun''. While you are initially left to piece together clues in the first game, the second game starts you off with being in contact with MissionControl from the word go. [[spoiler: Of course, you don't know who is actually on the other end of the radio, and she's not telling you everything.]]
* ''VideoGame/BioShock1'' has your character narrowly survive a plane crash, seeking shelter in the underwater city of Rapture. [[LateToTheTragedy Which has gone completely to hell.]] Similar to ''VideoGame/SystemShock2'', you have a MissionControl [[spoiler: who is not entirely honest with you.]] Its sequel ''VideoGame/BioShock2'' and its DLC ''The Minerva Den'', has two Big Daddies that can strangely use Plasmids.
* ''VideoGame/TheWitness'': The player starts at the end of a dark metal tube shelter underground, opening doors to climb up onto a castle's patio. [[spoiler: The normal ending returns the player to the same spot, undoing all of the work they have done. The hidden GoldenEnding as well as hidden in-game audio reveal this area to be the starting point of an elaborate virtual reality simulation.]]
* ''VideoGame/HorizonZeroDawn'' has a variation; the life and upbringing of PlayerCharacter Aloy by ParentalSubstitute Rost is shown in detail from the start, but Aloy has some big questions about how she ended up under Rost's guardianship in apparent contravention of her tribe's customs, and players also have some big questions: "why the hell is Earth inhabited by primitive humans and robot dinosaurs?" and "what does the title actually mean?" being the most obvious. Answering these questions is one of the major focuses of the game.
* Each main game in the ''Franchise/DanganRonpa'' series focuses on a group of elite high school students who wake up trapped in a ClosedCircle (in the first game, it's a school; in the second game, it's a cluster of deserted islands). Though much of the plot centers around solving murder mysteries as a result of the [[DeadlyGraduation killing game]] they've all been unwillingly recruited into, the students (especially the PlayerCharacter) are simultaneously striving to learn about their surroundings, unmask the mastermind and find alternate ways to escape.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''ComicStrip/{{Fleep}}'': one person, in a phone booth, sealed in concrete.
* Webcomic/TheArtistIsDead! begins as one. [[WorldOfChaos The answer]] just complicates things.
* ''Webcomic/TheEnds'' has as a central plot element the question of whether the inhabitants really exist or are simply living out a self-inflicted hell created when they blew themselves up in a nuclear apocalypse.
* ''Webcomic/BlankIt'' takes place entirely in this scenario, with the two main characters appearing unexplainably in a blank white void.
* ''Webcomic/ProblemSleuth'' starts off in a rather simple locked room version of this, but rapidly grows to encompass an imaginary universe, demonic mafia kingpins and a army of courtesan angels. In the end the main character goal is to escape the office building they start off mysteriously trapped in and reach the streets of the real world.
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'': A young boy starts a multiplayer video game and finds himself and his house are suddenly TrappedInAnotherWorld, while back on Earth [[spoiler:meteors are destroying civilisation]]. That's only the beginning...
%%* ''{{Voices}}'' starts out as this.
* ''Webcomic/ABeginnersGuideToTheEndOfTheUniverse''. You are alone in a house which is floating in a void. Also, you have [[ThePowerOfCreation godlike powers]]. What the hell?
* ''{{Superego}}'' has ten individuals trapped in an AbandonedHospital [[spoiler:in the middle of an abyss]], and they have to work together to get out.
* The Seedlings from [[{{Webcomic/Morphe}} morphE]] wake up in crates with no idea how they got there and are made prisoners of a rich and beautiful mage who wishes to train them in the art of magic (or kill them, whichever is more convenient). The first moment the survivors get alone they begin comparing notes to find out how and why they got in this situation. Best they could manage is that all but one of them were local to Chicago.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* This happens a lot in WebVideo/MarbleHornets, what with the amnesia gotten from Slenderman and [=ToTheArk=].
* ''Roleplay/RubyQuest'', an interactive, multiplayer story, as played on [[http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Ruby 4chan.]]
** The SpiritualSequel, ''Roleplay/NanQuest'', is very similar (it's known how Nan got into the hotel, but not the other characters).
* The base plot of many a [[MassiveMultiplayerCrossover multifandom]] [[JournalRoleplay roleplay]], often nicknamed 'spooky jamjar games'. The setting is a 'spooky jamjar'.
* The blog ''[[http://hellisaplacewherenothingeverhappens.blogspot.com Ontological]]'' (part of Franchise/TheFearMythos) begins when the main character wakes up in a house without doors...instead all the windows and places where the doors should be are bricked up and he is unable to escape.
* All three games on ''Website/{{Addventure}}'' begin with the protagonist finding himself in a void or in a strange room.
* Creator/StuartAshen and the fictional "retro" video game (and board game) ''Vinnie Vole's Existential Nightmare''. Vinnie the Vole is trapped in a bare empty room. What do you do? [[spoiler: Nothing. The only way out is suicide, which Vinnie eventually opts for in spite of the player's protestations.]]
* ''Machinima/TheStrangerhood'': Everyone wakes with amnesia in a mysterious town, and only a scary faceless voice seems to know what's going on and won't tell anyone. This being a comedy series, we never find out either.
* The framing device of ''WebVideo/{{Televoid}}'' A man finds himself in a room with an old television set, dimly aware that he has to produce videos for an unseen audience for unknown purposes.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TwelveOunceMouse'': As near as can be said with any certainty, the character Mouse himself almost definitely realizes he is one when memories of appears to be a wife and family prompt him to reflect that he really doesn't remember anything from his own past much before the series.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLifeAsATeenageRobot'', the "Enclosure of Doom" episode starts with Jenny and Killgore regaining consciousness inside a high-tech structure, complete with DeathCourse, with no idea how they got there. [[spoiler:It turns out they're trapped inside Armagedroid, Killgore's HumongousMecha.]]
* The plot of the 2007 ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind." Homer spends the episode trying to regain his memories of the previous night. [[spoiler:InvokedTrope because Homer accidentally learned about a surprise party the town was holding for him, and asked Moe to concoct a GargleBlaster that would [[LaserGuidedAmnesia un-spoil the surprise for him]].]]
* ''WesternAnimation/OverTheGardenWall'' opens with the two main characters already lost, and neither of them ever bring up the exact circumstances that got them lost, [[spoiler: though the audience finds out in the penultimate episode.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/InfinityTrain'' follows a girl named Tulip, who finds herself trapped on a bizarre train full of puzzles and pocket dimensions, trying to find her way home with the help of a robot named One-One. By the start of the pilot episode, she'd already been stuck there for a week, with no idea how she got there or why there are glowing numbers on her hand.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Congratulations. Whoever you are, wherever you are, you are part of the [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters very, very large]] EnsembleCast who was born into one of these.