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
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. Dead End Rooms come in two varieties:
- No Exit: 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.
- All Lethal: 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.
Note that a room is All Lethal only if everything
kills you — if it's only some (or even most) things, as in Entrance to Hades, the room is No Exit.
Another distinction is that No Exit rooms may have some kind of friendly
label to let you know you're screwed, such as "DIE MORTAL
"; All Lethal rooms, of course, need no label.
- 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. It is No Exit rather than All Lethal because, 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.
- Dirty Harry on the NES has such a room, according to the Unwinnable by Design page.
- 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 No Exit, 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. 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 Doom II MAP12, "The Factory"; the door to the exit room is a yellow-key door outside and a red-key door inside, but there is no red key in the level, so unless one is playing in deathmatch mode or cheating, once inside the only way out is through the exit.
- 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.
- 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 lobotamize 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.
- Subverted in several Star Trek examples, where the protagonists manage to escape by the end of the episode.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- "The Royale". An away team finds a revolving door on a deserted planet. When they go through, they find themselves trapped in what appears to be an old-style hotel/casino called the Royale. They discover that it is was created by unknown aliens based on an old novel. They can't leave until they figure out how to use the book's plot to discover an exit.
- "Where Silence Has Lease". The Enterprise ends up trapped inside a black void. Despite all their efforts the crew can find no way to escape. Weird things start to happen to them, and they discover that they're being toyed with by an extremely powerful being called Nagilum.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Gravity", Tuvok and Paris go through a Negative Space Wedgie and end up on a planet in a pocket of space that can be entered but not exited, due to gravimetric and time distortions. Some aliens outside this pocket want to destroy this Negative Space Wedgie leading into it, as it has already stranded many of their ships, but the crew of Voyager do manage to find the Reverse Polarity needed to rescue Tuvok and Paris before the aliens can close the pocket for good (which would have collapsed the space inside it).
- 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.
- 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.