"It doesn't kill you. What it does is make you feel like you're in a noisy little dark room ... naked and ashamed ... and there are things in the dark that need to hurt you because you're bad ... little pinching things that go in your ears and crawl on the inside of your skull. And you know that if the noise and the crawling would stop ... that you could remember how to get out... But you never will."
The opposite of the Happy Place
and the darkest corner of the Mental World
, the Black Bug Room is the place inside a person's head where all of his or her negative feelings dwell and fester. A person's consciousness may get sent there when his or her mind breaks under the strain, or other characters may end up there by taking a wrong turn during a Journey to the Center of the Mind
In movies, entering the Room is often shown with a Madness Montage
. Compare Room 101
for the non-metaphysical version with all the same effects. Not to be confused with Debug Room
. See also Psychological Torment Zone
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Anime & Manga
- In Berserk, this is where every single bad emotion is stored in Guts' mind, especially all of the horrifying memories of the Eclipse.
- Most of Lucy's interior monologue and reasoning in Elfen Lied takes place in an incredibly large black void. Could count as a Black Bug Room given that her reasoning is mostly governed by her murderous insticts and tortured past, so she sees the room as a spaces where humans remind her that she is pathetic and doesn't belong in their world, with her diclonius instinct sweetly promising that everything will be better is she just kills every last motherfucker in sight.
- Soul's Black Room in Soul Eater.
- After a group of villagers hangs Nemesis in Nemesis the Warlock, he kills one of the culprits with a literal Black Bug Room. The survivors eventually get the message and un-hang him.
- The Trope Namer is the event in New X-Men #116, where Cassandra Nova sends Cyclops there.
- It's brought back in Astonishing X-Men #14, where Emma Frost brings him there for some Psychic Surgery.
- Scott Pilgrim's worst enemy Gideon Graves specializes in this. Scott's own Room is a desert.
- In The Cell, a lot of Carl Stargher's subconsciousness functions as his Black Bug Room, from the memory of his childhood home to the display chamber of grotesque dolls (which are actually representations of his victims).
- Flatliners involves accessing a Black Bug Room during a near death experience. It turns out by the end that the characters are each experiencing a manifestation of their deepest personal guilt.
- Inception has this in the form of Cobb's reconstructions of his memories. Specifically, of his greatest regrets in that hotel room.
- The Hospital from Jacob's Ladder. Complete with grimacing eyeless anesthesiologist of doom.
- This is what hell is like for the main character's wife in What Dreams May Come.
- In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Room With No Doors by Kate Orman, the eponymous Room (which the Doctor starts dreaming about being trapped in) functions as a Black Bug Room for the Doctor, although its actual origin and purpose turns out to be something quite different.
- In Hannibal by Thomas Harris, Hannibal Lecter has an 'oubliette' in his memory palace that contains some troubling memories.
- Black feathers and the yellow feather "Curious Yellow" in Vurt.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager novel Mosaic, Janeway keeps dreaming that she's stuck in a small room with a locked door (mirroring the current crisis, where the Voyager is pinned down by the Kazon while part of their crew is stuck on a nearby planet.) Behind the locked door is the memory of the accident that killed both her father and her fiancée.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Glory's description of the state of her victims after she drains their sanity is highly illustrative of this. More interestingly, this is also the state Glory herself descends into if she goes too long without brain-sucking anyone.
- The Attic in Dollhouse
- In the Red Dwarf episode "Terrorform", a planetoid is transformed into a physical representation of Rimmer's Black Bug Room. It turns out to be designed to represent his entire Mental World. Unfortunately, most of Rimmer's psyche is Black Bug Room.
- The episode "Won't Get Fooled Again" involves Crichton becoming trapped in a Mental World that becomes progressively Black Bug Room as time goes on, with plenty of repressed fears and insecurities rising to the surface in humanoid form. Ironically, for someone so traumatized, Crichton does a pretty good job staying out of his Black Bug Room during the rest of the series.
- "Mental As Anything" gives D'Argo a Black Bug Room in the form of his cell on Moya. At the end of the episode, D'Argo's brother-in-law is imprisoned in his Black Bug Room, reliving his worst memory for the rest of his life: disfiguring the corpse of his sister so that D'Argo would be blamed for her murder.
- If you botch a Pilot Safety/Nightmare check in Bliss Stage, this is where you end up. Your Anchor loses control of the dream and the other players get to add personalized horror to the narration.
- This trope is the bread and butter of manitous that animate the Harrowed in Deadlands. Every time a Harrowed goes asleep, the manitou puts them into their Black Bug Room, with the purpose of weakening their will and eventually taking full control of their undead body.
- Subverted with Jasper Stone, whose manitou is too afraid of him to wield any power over him.
- The World of Darkness
- In Mage: The Ascension, this (referred to as "the Quiet") is one of the possible results of botching a spell, especially one that relates to mind magic. The mage goes on a Journey to the Center of the Mind through their Black Bug Room and, if they don't die or go insane, returns cleansed of all their paradox.
- In Mage: The Awakening, Insanity Realms are said to by far be the most dangerous and disturbing parts of the Oneiros. They're literally the metaphysical landscapes embodying a person's derangements, and anyone who visits them temporarily suffers the derangement they embody...and they don't let go of visitors very easily.
- Wraith The Oblivion has a similar example known as the Harrowing, which occurs when a wraith is discorporated (takes enough damage to lose coherency). It's as much a struggle against one's own personal nightmares as a fight against some of the more insidious influences of Oblivion.
- Desmond finds himself in one come Assassin's Creed: Revelations with a twist: he's actually exploring his own memories in an attempt to piece together his past and separate them from those of his ancestors so he doesn't end up like Subject Sixteen.
- After being temporarily consumed by the Nightmare in Devil May Cry, Dante retreats into his Black Bug Room, where he fights off various monsters from his past. Well, that's what the in-game files said.
- Drakengard 2 features this near the end of the game, when Nowe travels into Manah's mind to save her from a Heroic BSOD. It's freaky enough to begin with, what with the series of empty doorframes, and having to chase around the constantly teleporting Creepy Child. And then you have to fight a goddamn army of red-eyed black-and-red-silhouette things. And they keep coming. And then during the second stage, the background becomes row upon row of these things, just watching you.
- In EarthBound, the Sea of Eden in Magicant is said to be this.
- The elevator in I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, where Ellen is confronted by a biography of her traumatic life — and a reconstruction of the man who raped her. Whether this place is a physical reconstruction or the literal place within Ellen's mind is up for debate.
- In a similar vein to the Silent Hill example, some of the dungeons in the Persona franchise are at least partially formed from the minds of the people who are trapped in them, so they're bound to include these. A notable example is from Persona 4 Arena, specifically Labrys' once her Shadow reveals itself. The environment switches from a mostly normal school to a hellish security room with a giant incinerator in the background, dismantled and broken mannequins hanging off meat hooks, and blood running down the windows repeatedly.
- In Psychonauts, a secret room in "Milla's Dance Party" is a cage made of fire with ghostly monsters behind it, whispering menacing things about a tragedy from Milla's past. Keep in mind the ENTIRE rest of the level has a bright, disco/party theme, and this single room is the disturbing exception.
- This is the only time you'll get to take a good look at the monsters-you'll see them twice more over the course of the game, and you'll be busy fighting them both times. They're a representation of a person's nightmares. They're caged up here because Milla has iron control over them, which, considering what they actually are (dig the memory reel in the vault you find nearby and you'll see what I mean), is pretty impressive given how relevant they are to her current job.
- More specifically, they're of people who burned to death. Milla considers herself to blame for the orphanage, 'the Milkman' really is for the building he set on fire.
- The nightmares were actually originally designed to be Milla's personal demons, not as generic nightmares. The developers moved them to the Milkman stage because it didn't make sense story-wise for children to be attacked during a training lesson from a fully-fledged Psychonaut. Their design matches up with the tragic secret locked in her vault. Milla is constantly running this noisy party in her mind to drown out the nightmare-inducing memories of her childrens' cries as they died in a fire. Seriously, ouch...
- In Second Sight, the interrogation room appears to function as this during John Vattic's flashbacks and visions. Or does it?
- The entire town of Silent Hill may be one of these. Also, the dark room full of literal bugs in the Historical Society of Silent Hill 2.
- The entire game in Twisted Metal: Black is either Sweet Tooth's Black Bug Room or his Happy Place. He's so Ax-Crazy, it's hard to tell.
- Yume Nikki: The entire game. Other than possibly the rooftop and Masada's spaceship.
- The fansequel .flow has an even more disturbing case of this.
- In Mass Effect 3, Shepard is repeatedly forced to confront their own black bug room, in which they try to save a young boy, only to watch him burn.
- Condemned 2: Bloodshot has the main character's hallucinations mysteriously go to a place filled with oily black monsters, getting progressively worse as black oil starts covering everything in that place, and then never show up again.
- In Blip, Mary, Hester, and Liz take a trip into Bishop's subconscious. In there, they find a room with infinitely tall walls, and every secret in Bishop's life is scrawled on those walls. In the center of the room, there's a small table with a laptop on it, which has a video that shows the trio that certain recent events were not all that they seemed.
- This is one possible explanation for the entire city in which Zimmy of Gunnerkrigg Court spends much of her time — dystopian, unmaintained, populated by people who drip black smoke from where their faces should be, and containing other such oddities as giant spiders, bottomless trash cans, gruesomely injured mannequins, and glass windows containing incomprehensible silhouettes of people and centipedes. It's even scarier when you discover that Zimmy can accidentally drag other people into it and that things from there can escape and start using those people as People Puppets.
- Kano Jurgen's mind in Kagerou by Luka Delaney seems to be one giant "Black Bug Room" called the Zones where some of his personalities live.
- Shelly's boiler room in Wapsi Square is a subversion. It is dark, unsettling, and occupied by one of the creepiest little girls in the history of fiction. However, the girl is easily the friendliest personal demon to appear in the comic, and essentially acts as a conscience.
- Happens during the AH.com: The Series episode "Craptastic Voyage", in which the crew journey into Doctor What's mind and are tortured by the nightmarish memory of his elementary school teacher.
- In Animerica, Big Bad Kiyone is revealed to have an Enemy Within that was subsequently created from his hidden negative feelings on his brother Kasuse but we dont actually get a glimpse of his mind until next season when he is confronted by his evil side once Ron gives him a moving speech. From the looks of it, it consists of him being tied up in spiked vines to a black pillar in a purple-black hued room with his inner demon smirking at him in a sinister chair across the room. Here, it attempts to give him another Breaking Lecture but then...
- Tangency, the off-topic section of RPG.Net, uses the "Black Bug Room" tag to describe stories of miserable events where the posters reading cannot try to stop things like that from happening again by doing something productive — they're just topics on the deepest of human fuckery (such as animal and child abuse). Inverted in that there are also topics on heartwarming subjects, described with the tag "White Puppy Solarium." Futuba imageboards often fill the /x/ sections with these. The Holders Series was born out of this.