Dead End Room

You're playing a maze-type game, and you notice an exit you haven't used before. You go through it, and... hey, where are this room's exits?

Usually a subtrope of Unwinnable by Design (although can also be Unwinnable by Mistake or even Unwinnable by Insanity), a Dead End Room is used as a fiendish trap by the game's designers. Either the room simply has no exits, or if it has, they only lead back into the same room or into a closed cycle of rooms which connect only to each other, not to the main maze.

If they really want to hammer home the point, everything in the room hurts or kills you when touched, so your game will soon be over anyway even if you don't reset.

Expect some kind of friendly label to let you know you're screwed, such as "DIE MORTAL".


  • Jet Set Willy has one of the oldest examples — "Entrance to Hades". This is a room where you just keep falling down, respawning at the top and falling again until you run out of lives. If the player enters by a non-standard route, he can stand atop the "DIE MORTAL" letters without being killed.
    • Jet Set Willy II on the ZX Spectrum also adds "Water Supply". Up is out of reach, and down leads only through "well" (three times) to "Dinking Vater?", which is a dead end, and which in any case will kill you if you haven't got the fall from any height cheat.
  • Wriggler on the Spectrum has one in the Hell section.
  • Driller; driving into any of the triangular spaces of the map causes this.
  • Eye of the Beholder II had two No Exit examples.
    • In Temple Level 2, placing three gems in a niche opens a secret passage. If you go through it and into a room, the passage closes behind you and you're trapped forever.
    • In a room on Silver Tower Level 2, if you kill a dying Darkmoon cleric the door out of the room closes and traps the party inside permanently. Reload your last saved game.
  • Colossal Cave has Witt's End, which appears to be inescapable, and traps you if you try to go back west the way you came (or in almost any other direction). Instead you have to keep trying to go north until it randomly lets you go. More insidiously, there's an apparently worthless item (a magazine) you have to drop inside the room (not where you deposit your treasures) to get that Last Lousy Point. Possibly the very first Guide Dang It.
  • In Portal 2, while Chell and Weatley are running away from GLaDOS, the latter opens a room near your escape route and creates a bridge to it while inviting you to go in. As soon as you enter it, you're trapped and deadly neurotoxin kills you.
  • Planescape: Torment has an an area where you get stuck in a room where the only way out involves dying. Luckily the player character is immortal and will come back to life shortly after being killed.
  • Hexen version 1 has an accidental one; the Axe Room in Hub 4's "The Gibbet" has a door which cannot be opened from the inside, so once inside the only way out is to kill the second Heresiarch which eventually appears, and then either run to the door (which was briefly reopened by the Heresiarch's death) so as to explore the hub with the help of the wings you just gained, or go through the portal to the next hub (which of course you will need to do in the end). Unfortunately the action script for the ending, which teleports four Green Chaos Serpents into the room and then checks their number every five seconds or so, only proceeds if there are exactly three left, so if you manage to kill two or more of them between checks, you're trapped forever. This was corrected in version 1.1, which checks if there are less than four left.
  • In the PC shareware game MasterSpy, there are several; for example, in "The Underground Railway" are numerous ways to go through a train or turnstile to a sector where none of the ticket machines corresponds to any train or turnstile out, so if you take a ticket you trap yourself.
  • Several in Strife; if for example you go to see the Governor after having got the Chalice, he will lock the door and sound the alarm, causing a Zerg Rush of guards to teleport in (unless it's the registered version and you've completed his two missions, in which case he will simply tell you to get out as usual). A similar thing happens if you walk past the Power Station with the Chalice; you're not locked in, but still overwhelmed.
  • In Yume Nikki and its fan games, getting caught by a "chaser" such as a Toriningen will trap you in a dead end where the only way out is waking up or using the Medamaude note . Of course, there's also the infamous Uboa sequence, where you are trapped in the room with him, and contacting him will transport you to another inescapable area.
  • Another Unwinnable by Mistake scenario is some versions of Duke Nukem 3D (the four-episode version); if you play E4L9 (Critical Mass) in co-op mode on a version where the bug hasn't been fixed, you had better make sure you do so without dying, or you will be stuck at the start of the level, facing a now-collapsed staircase which you can no longer get past.
  • Technician Ted has probably the oldest all lethal example — "Down in the Sewerage".
  • The Black Hole in Atlantis No Nazo. As the "level" begins, the death sound plays immediately (to hammer in that you're doomed and there's nothing you can do about it) as you fall to your death. This repeats until you get a Game Over.
  • The NES game based on Dirty Harry can randomly send the player to a room with no exit and "ha ha ha" written on the wall.
  • Many branches in The Stanley Parable technically end in this.
  • Pathways into Darkness has a secret teleporter on "Happy Happy, Carnage Carnage" that sends you to a room on "Don't Get Poisoned" full of Demonic Spiders and with no exit.
  • Marathon:
    • In the Game Mod Infection, there are false exits on some levels that lead you to "Burn Like That Son of Aaaaah...", which consists solely of an elevator lowering you into a Lava Pit with enemies firing at you from the windows on all sides.
    • Another third-party scenario, Gemini Station, has the "Oubliette", where you are sent if you killed Jack Melville, which is a dead-end pit with a crusher trap.
    • The main games also have a few secret rooms that are inescapable if you don't get out before the door closes, such as those on "Smells Like Napalm" and "Blaspheme Quarantine".
    • The Developer's Room on the second game's final stage, "All Roads Lead to Sol", happens to be one of these if you aren't cheating, as it is only accessible before you release the lava, so the final arena will still be lava-flooded when you teleport to it from the developers' room.
  • In Sensory Overload, enemies can open doors that you can't, often from rooms that have no other door. If you enter a room of this type, you're up the Unwinnable by Insanity creek once the door closes.
  • Rogue will sometimes generate a level or starting room without an exit.
  • The life-draining Bloody Mirror Room in Silent Hill 3's Otherworld Hospital seems to be one of these, until you figure out that the door unlocks after Heather's reflection stops moving with her.
  • Fallout 3 has an unintentional one in Vault 92 where you can glitch through the floor in the Overseer's Office and end up in an inescapable Disconnected Side Area of the Living Quarters behind a jammed door.

Non-video-game examples

  • The titular cube of the Cube series is a gigantic series of these. Some are booby-trapped, while others are safe, with almost no way of knowing until it's too late. Escape is made all the more difficult because the rooms move. Cube Zero implies that even if you escape, the monitors kill you, or worse lobotomize you and throw you back into the Cube.

  • In the Discworld novel A Hat Full of Sky, young witch Tiffany Aching leads the misunderstood but inadvertently lethal creature, the Hiver, through the door of Death, which it craves, but discovers that the Door is one-way only. She has to do some seriously lateral thinking to get round this and return to the living world.
    • Also Played for Laughs with the Nac Mac Feegle. They can enter a pub easily enough, but leaving is another matter.

Live-Action TV
  • Used occasionally on the game show Knightmare. If a player took a wrong turn, he could be trapped in a room with no viable exits, and forced to wait until his life force ran out.
    • An "All Lethal" variation was a room which appeared to be escapable, but contained a huge bomb which exploded before the player could humanly reach an exit.

  • A man encounters a No Exit example when he tries to stay at the title establishment in The Eagles' "Hotel California".
    "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."
  • Heartbreak Hotel
  • The Four Winds Bar, in the Blue Oyster Cult's hauntingly evocative ballad Astronomy.

Real Life
  • At London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, the entrance to the Underground station appears to have been designed on the principle that anyone with a good enough head for heights to fly, is also capable of walking across a translucent glass floor with a clearly-visible 50-foot drop beneath.note  For those who find walking across such a floor psychologically impossible, the escalator down to the Underground is an example of this trope; it does not lead directly to the station, but to a mezzanine floor from which there is no way back up, and where the only way down is to cross one of those glass floors (or to be rescued by a kind employee opening the emergency staircase to allow the person down that way). Since the terminal opened, at least two people have been caught this way.