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Hacker Cave

Trestkon: You're still the resident hacker, eh?
Evil Invasion: I'm a programmer, I just hack when I need to.
Trestkon: I think this is the first office of a programmer I've ever visited without expensive hardware lying around on the floor among pizza boxes and empty cans of pop.
Evil Invasion: Sorry, but I just moved in. Give me a few days then this place will live up to all your prejudices.

The Big Bad is a Computer destroying Techwhiz. The Good Guy's on the other side. Now, how do you show the audience that they are awesome, other than having them grab a keyboard, punch a few buttons, and blow up a satellite in 15 minutes?

Throw in the 21st-century equivalent of the Mad Scientist Laboratory, and have them live in a room packed to the brim full of technological things, that's what. A Hacker Cave, known in chanspeak as a 'battlestation'

Note that said definition of "awesome" must include one of the following words in its description (amongst others): Geeky, Technology, Things that go BEEP, Metallic, futuristic, pipes, blinkenlights, Billions of Buttons. Anime figurines and other otaku paraphernalia does apply. Must include more than one obvious computer tower (because the hacker knows computers don't equal monitors), and the primary computer comes with at least 3 monitors (never mind some of those monitors display only a looping picture that does nothing). May also include a retro coin-op arcade game (Pac-Man and Space Invaders are obvious favorites) in a corner, just because.

When done well, the result will be unabashed Technology Porn.

"Real" hackers spend most of their hacking time peering at a text editor and thinking very hard, so one might think this unrealistic, but it still manages to be Truth in Television for many. A common cause is the need to keep any number of test machines on hand to verify programs' behavior on dissimilar platforms, or in complex networked setups. Demoparties and other hackish social occasions often resemble this trope too- as do the bedrooms (or basements) of hackers who deliberately seek this trope as an ideal!


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Noah & Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! both have one in the anime.
  • Lain's set-up in Serial Experiments Lain. Now, how did Lain, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, got all those $2000+ Cisco Catalyst switches running the latest IOS?
    • They grew there out of nothing. Her computer has grown so much in later episodes that it's started to sprout from the outside walls like a plant.
    • Given that Lain's parents are fake parents meant to "incubate" her, they can probably afford to spend money on that kind of stuff because it's their purpose.
  • Satsuki in X1999 has only one giant computer, but it's still in a cooled room under the Tokyo City Hall.
  • Death Note:
    • The control room of L's high-rise, though the large monitors are generally used for observing the security cameras of the building. There are only three actual computers with one monitor each, which makes perfect sense when you consider there are usually several people working at once.
    • Near gets a more organized variation, with a full wall of screens that can project anything from security footage to news archives to incoming transmissions... which, for some reason, blot out everything else the dozens of screens were doing at the time.
  • Amy the Playful Hacker from Bakuretsu Tenshi somehow stuffed a Hacker Cave inside a Base on Wheels.
  • Chisame of Mahou Sensei Negima!'s Magitek pactio item can create a perfect hacking space for her inside a Tron-like area complete with surrounding screens, numerous floating keybords and seven electronic helpers. Her own room surrounded by monitors probably also counts.
  • Kururu's room in Keroro Gunsou.
  • The Major gets one of these in Solid State Society, although hers is rather stylishly located in a light, airy penthouse apartment.
    • In the series she visits a hacker, who lives in the more typical dark, cramped room. This particular Hacker Cave is filled with (deliberately) anachronistic computer equipment, a good proportion of which is obsolete. There were also at least two robotic sex-dolls lying around.
  • The Digimon Kaiser's headquarters in Digimon Adventure 02 is a rather strange instance of this trope - it's basically this, but the screens are kind of just floating there in featureless blackness and all the controls are on the arms of the Kaiser's chair. The room is apparently pretty small but otherwise has no distinguishing features. Its strangeness may be justified by it being in the Digital World instead of the real world.
  • Yamaki of Digimon Tamers is a black ops agent and computer programmer. His Hacker Cave is the HYPNOS headquarters, whose operation's center filled to the brim with computers, wires, monitors, and even a massive overhead screen. In the beginning of the series, Yamaki is so obsessed with Digimon, he seems to never leave the place. When we finally see him at his apartment being fired but overcoming his obsession, he sets up a computer and accessories in his living room.
  • Celestial Being's founder Aeolia Schenberg has one of this in the epilogue of Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer.

    Comics 
  • Practically Every incarnation of the Batcave.
  • Oracle, from DC Comics, builds one of these for herself wherever she goes. The most famous of which was the Clocktower in Gotham City, original headquarters of the Birds of Prey.
  • The Beetlecave! Jaime's hacker buddies, Hector and Nadia, basically turned their entire house into this. The actual 'Beetlecave', however, is the cyberspace face of it. All because Jaime's parents probably wouldn't like their son constructing a real cave in the crawlspace...

    Films 
  • Freddie "Warlock" Kaludis's (Kevin Smith) basement lair in 2007's Live Free or Die Hard.
    • "It's not a basement, it's a command centre!"
    • Die Hard 4.0 had a couple of these, all the hackers that blow up at the start (at least the ones we see) imply they have a mass of pimped-out computers, then there is the truck the bad guys go around in. And again in the Woodlawn building, it has a massive super server to hold all the financial transactions of the USA (yet is able to be downloaded to a single laptop).
    • Warlock's basement even includes a copy of Gears of War set up in the background just because.
  • Stephen lives in one in The Score.
  • The Matrix in a more cyberpunk style.
  • A rather nifty one in The Arrival.
  • On that note, Griffin's setup in Jumper. Griffin even refers to it as "the lair".
  • A proto-example: David Lightman (Matthew Broderick)'s bedroom in WarGames.
  • Unsurprisingly, hacker caves show up in the movie Hackers, including the huge multi-towered glowy Gibson supercomputer.
  • Mr. Universe's home in the Big Damn Movie of Firefly.
  • Number theorist Max Cohen in the 1998 movie π has a homemade supercomputer (named Euclid) that takes up his whole apartment.
  • The ending of Zero Effect.

    Literature 
  • The geek house in Charles Stross The Atrocity Archives features this, only extended to include a laser pentagram for demon summoning
  • Cryptonomicon arguably sees Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse creating the world's first hacker cave when in the later stages of World War II his superiors discover his lab to be taken over by a massive and revolutionary self-built computer through which he has been running literal truckloads of punch cards to aid in his codebreaking work.
  • The Evil Genius Trilogy has a couple, With Hardware Heaven in the first book, and The War Room in the second.

    Live Action TV 
  • The IT department in The IT Crowd is full of obsolete (but notorious) computer equipment, cabling, geeky posters and the various bits of debris that a computer room accumulates.
  • Criminal Minds
    • Garcia's office.
    • An evil and substantially more complicated version turns up in "The Big Game"/"Revelations".
  • The X-Files: The lair of The Lone Gunmen.
  • Sleazy, unscrupulous, eleven-year-old blogger Nevel from iCarly has one in the closet off his living room. Upon discovering it, Sam referred to it as his "nerd cave."
  • In Continuum, Alec Sadler has one in the attic of his family's barn. The size of the set-up is somewhat justified by the fact that Alec is inventing, building and testing next-generation processing and communication technology.
  • The Watchtower in the last few seasons of Smallville was this for Chloe. Back in the high school days of the early seasons, the Smallville High Torch office was this for her as well, though in that case it was open to all students and faculty rather than being private property (it really was more a matter of Chloe being the only one who consistently wanted to be at the Torch!)
    • Lana also got one in Season 7, as she used it to spy on Lex's every move.

    Roleplay 
  • In Destroy The Godmodder the godmodder's room has been stated quite frequently to be one of these.
    • Attacks targeting his systems don't work because he supposedly has an infinite number of back-up computers.

    Video Games 
  • Baofu's "lair" in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment becomes the Player Headquarters for a while before it sinks into the ocean like everything else in the Narumi Ward after a certain event.
  • Lanette, Hoenn's resident computer geek in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire has a house that definitely fits this trope. She admits the place is a bit of a mess.
  • Otacon operates out of a cargo plane converted into a hacker cave in Metal Gear Solid 4, courtesy of Apple.
  • The Villain of Mega Man Battle Network 2 had this but instead the cave was a condo of 30 floors. May also play with Room Of Servers as the most of the rooms were filled to the brim with them.
  • Lucca's house from Chrono Trigger is littered with cables and books.
  • The very last stage in Condemned 2: Bloodshot evokes this trope to prove that Big Brother Is Watching.
  • DiZ of Kingdom Hearts owns one in the Basement of the Twilight Town Mansion. In frustration, Roxas happened to smash one of them.
  • TimeSplitters 1 and 2 have cyberpunk levels with underground hacker hideouts.
  • Mocked in The Nameless Mod, giving the page quote.
  • The Shadow Broker has a pretty impressive one in Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker. Liara manages to keep her hands on most of the hardware, setting it up in Miranda's old office by the time of Mass Effect 3.
  • Kinzie in Saints Row: The Third sets one up after joining the Saints, with nary a bed in sight...
    Kinzie: Sleep is forbidden.
  • Some Nosferatu in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines live in literal Hacker Caves.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Initiates, Assassin Emmett has a hacker cave set up onboard the Altair II.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dutch hacker Arie van Bruggen has two. His first setup is in his penthouse apartment hidden behind a false wall. His second, after he's forced to abandon the first one and go into hiding, is in the Alice Garden Pods capsule hotel, which is impressive in that one "room" in that place is nothing more than a bed, a closet the size of a cupboard, a bookshelf, and a curtain for privacy. Van Bruggen got around this by renting every single pod adjacent to his, then packing them completely full with server towers.

    Western Animation 
  • Wade's room in Kim Possible, which is usually only seen from the POV of his webcam.
  • Mr. Crocker of The Fairly Oddparents has "the Crocker Cave", which started out as just a phonebooth inside the janitor's closet, but eventually was retconned into a Hacker Cave / Mad Scientist Laboratory combination.
  • Code Lyoko: One of the few Hacker Caves that is actually underground, apparently.
    • And hollowed out from an abandoned auto assembly plant.
  • Lampshaded slightly in Invader Zim in the episode "Zim eats waffles". Dib is shown in his own hacker cave trying to record Zim's evil plans. Only to have his various hard drives miss the crucial moments of video.
  • Gimpy's dorm room from Undergrads.

    Real Life 
  • A rather extreme real-life example is which eleven computers are used to play 36 World of Warcraft accounts at the same time, by a single person (source).
  • This Facepunch thread. That said, unlike fictional Hacker Caves most of that seems to be clutter rather than serving any functional role.
  • Wiki Leaks' data centre.
  • Server rooms can get to look like this in real life; they tend to be located in the basement or some other room without much natural light, and usually double as storage for spare workstations and replacement parts and assorted mysterious bits and pieces that nobody ever gets around to getting rid of. Sysadmins exiled down there because they're considered unworthy of a proper office in more congenial surroundings sometimes brighten the place up a bit with posters and memorabilia, further enhancing the resemblance to this trope.
  • Some graphic designers/artists utilize this kind of setup too, as this photo shows us.


Hacked by a PirateMagical ComputerHackette
Great Big Library of EverythingSettingsHalloweentown
False UtopiaCyberpunk TropesIndustrial Ghetto
Serial Experiments LainImageSource/Anime & MangaSeto no Hanayome

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