A standard Hall of Mirrors shot.
An excellent place for final confrontations with heroes, the Hall Of Mirrors wins high marks for ease of use. All you have to do is lure your victim inside by dashing in yourself, and then cackle with glee as they find you reflected back not once but a thousand times... When you have had your fun, seal the exits and fill the cramped space with some kind of liquid. Plain water works as well as anything, but why not add food dye for color. Or, for a touch of whimsy, use a sickeningly sweet fruit punch.
— How to Be a Villain, Neil Zawacki
During The Chase
, especially if at a carnival or Amusement Park
, the quarry will duck into a funhouse. When the pursuer follows, he will be confronted with a Hall of Mirrors
, dozens of panes of glass — every one of them reflecting an image of his quarry, taunting him. The pursuer has to figure out which is the real one before he escapes.
Though it often is so, the Hall of Mirrors
need not be in an actual funhouse, or even in a carnival setting. It can also be used outside a chase scenario, perhaps in its natural setting or even for a generic kaleidoscope effect.
And now, Here Comes the Science
Most of the trouble characters encounter in a Hall of Mirrors
results from the mirrors not behaving the way real mirrors do. This is justifiable with mirrors that are magic or otherwise likely to behave oddly anyway, but it also happens with mirrors that are supposedly ordinary.
Frequently, a main character will collide with a mirror, having not realized they were looking at a reflection. In reality, as you approach a mirror, your reflection appears to approach from the other side, which really should be a tipoff. However, when a mirror is reflecting another mirror or two or three, it can create the illusion of there being a place to run to without the viewers own reflection appearing to tip him or her off. In many real life hall of mirror set ups, however, the mirrored panels also have some clear glass (or clear plastic) panels mixed in just to make things even more confusing, and you can very easily walk into these as well since there is no reflection to warn you. A character who "walks into a mirror" may just be a director misremembering exactly why he mashed his face in that midway ride when he was seven.
Occasionally, a character will often see multiple reflections of an object, all of them quite close to the mirror surface, but will not be able to find the object. In reality, if the reflection of the object appears one inch behind the mirror, then the farthest that the real object can possibly be from the surface of the mirror is one inch.
It's also very common to depict a Droste Image
, which is easily created with two mirrors reflecting each other (though this is hard to depict in live-action without the camera being in the way).
Often these are combined, in which case it starts to seem like the "mirror" is actually just a sheet of glass and the object actually is on the other side (which is almost never the intention — although in real life it may be exactly the case). See also House of Broken Mirrors
open/close all folders
- In one episode of Betterman, Keita and Hinoki are lost in a hall of mirrors. The situation turns desperate when it becomes clear that they can't find a way out. When they find one another, they collapse into each other's arms, crying... when their schoolmates reveal it was an elaborate prank.
- Also used in Flame of Recca during the second fight between Recca and Mikagami. Like Batman and Lee, Recca smashes the mirrors to find the real Mikagami.
- Akira uses this as a strategy in Samurai Deeper Kyo.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Aki and Misty's final showdown takes place in one of these. Also, Misty has a field spell called Mirror Labyrinth, which apparently brings the monster's reflections to life.
- In one episode of Magical Angel Creamy Mami, the eponymous protagonist uses her Transformation Trinket in a mirror house. The reflections generate another Creamy Mami of the completely opposite personality.
- In the Sailor Moon Super S manga, a Rei/Mars who has had quite the identity crisis finds herself inside of one. She's then tempted by one of the Amazon Trio members, but she then rejects the offer of "a dream of love" and gets a power upgrade, becoming Super Sailor Mars.
- Played with in an anime episode of Golgo 13. A paparazzi plans to take the ultimate photo of his career — the world's greatest assassin as he takes his shot. He works out where Duke Togo will be shooting from, and to avoid getting shot himself plans to photograph Togo's reflection mirrored in the window glass of the hotel. Togo however sees a glint of light from his camera lens and fires a bullet into the window to smash the reflection, then turns and kills his target.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Yuzu Hiragi duels Masumi Kotsu in a "Crystal Corridor". When Masumi makes her final attack, Yuzu tries to save herself by picking up an Action Card on the floor, but runs into the card's reflection. Masumi mocks her and Yuzu realizes her Heroic BSOD caused her to not think and see clearly.
- One is found in the abandoned, ancient amusement park in theMonster Rancher episode "Amusement Park Ruins". Suezo and Mocchi play around in it first, then when fighting against the Evil Kuros, Suezo uses it to scare and confuse them.
- An issue of X-Men featured Cyclops and Colossus chasing Mystique into a Hall of Mirrors; by getting Cyclops to fire his Eye Beams at her reflection, Mystique tricked him into shooting through an energy amplification device which blasted Colossus, which in turn allowed her to get the drop on Cyclops.
- The Flash's longtime opponent(s) Mirror Master is extremely fond of this setting, for obvious reasons.
- The Golden Age Flash's first adventure included a room mirrored on all six sides, designed to drive its occupants insane.
- In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel, Batman chases the Joker into a Hall of Mirrors.
- They do it in The Killing Joke as well. Like Bruce Lee before him, Batman's solution is to smash the mirrors.
- And again in Batman/Judge Dredd: Die Laughing.
- In one of his first appearances, Mysterio was savvy to this solution, so he coated the mirrors in a deadly poison that could be delivered by any shard that could scratch Spider-Man's skin.
Films — Animated
- Another variation in Titan A.E., where Captain Korso follows Cale into an ice field, where his ship's image is being reflected everywhere. Preed thinks he's found the ship several times, only for the reflection to come to an uneven part of the ice, causing it to bend. Like many things in the movie, a rare case of something actually happening correctly.
Films — Live-Action
- The James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun uses this in the final confrontation between Bond and Scaramanga, and in The Teaser as well. Scaramanga ends up falling for the mirror thing in the finale.
- Enter the Dragon uses this in the final showdown between Bruce Lee and Mr. Han. Bruce defeats Han by smashing the mirrors.
- The Lady from Shanghai has a climactic shootout in one of these. The surreal shoot out is probably the Trope Maker.
- The climax of Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery is a very nice homage to that shootout.
- The Circus by Charlie Chaplin. Twenty years before The Lady From Shanghai—THIS is probably the Trope Maker.
- A variation in Jurassic Park: a Velociraptor runs into a polished metal door whose angle reflected Lex, trying to hide in a different place.
- Yet another variation takes place in the 1994 film version of The Shadow, when Shiwan Khan has escaped into a storage area full of mirrors. Ultimately, the Shadow uses his powers to shatter the mirrors (rather than his guns).
- The original plan was to have a more prolonged chase through the hall of mirrors, including flashbacks and banter. However, an earthquake struck before the scene could be filmed, shattering many of the mirrors. Since it would be too expensive to simply replace them, the directors went with a simpler version.
- Az én XX. századom features a denouement in a funhouse hall of mirrors, involving twins.
- In the film F/X: Murder By Illusion, Rory uses a sheet of reflective material to rig a decoy reflection of himself and lure a gun-toting thug in the wrong direction.
- The Man Called Flintstone (The Film of the Series of The Flintstones). While fleeing the Green Goose in an abandoned amusement park, Fred flees into one of these.
- The film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera musical includes a hall of mirrors in which the Phantom traps Raoul. The hall of mirrors is only mentioned in the musical, but in the original novel, Raoul and the Persian fall into a maze of mirrors that the Phantom uses to convince them they are trapped in a desert.
- Used with an extra symbolic twist in Face/Off: as the two main characters find themselves on opposite sides of a double-sided mirror, they point their guns squarely at their own reflections, which (due to the face swap) results in each man seeing the real face of their enemy. Also foreshadowed in an earlier scene, their first meeting after the swap: "it's like looking in a mirror, but... not."
- Skyfall. The "Bond opening sequence" briefly shows Bond in one, shooting at his own reflections. This foreshadows another character using a mirror to fool a mook so he can be shot.
- Conan the Destroyer faced a hall of magic mirrors which produced a monster that could not be harmed by direct physical blows. However, Conan realized that he could smash the mirrors instead and the monster was wounded with each smash until it fell.
- A variation occurs in X-Men: First Class. During the climax, Shaw uses a specially designed room that blocks him from Charles' telepathy. It just so happens to be a room of mirrors, implying the telepathic version of this trope. When Erik enters the room to confront him, he has no trouble spotting Shaw, nor does Shaw try to use the reflections to hide. Interestingly enough, once the room gets damaged, Charles is able to use his telepathy and help Erik defeat him.
- In The Man with the Iron Fists, Zhen Yi chases Silver Lion into a booby-trapped hall of mirrors. The mirrors could rotate, allowing Silver Lion to dart in and out. After smashing several mirrors, Zhen Yi confronts and defeats Silver Lion outside the hall.
- A flashback in Dracula 2000 shows Van Helsing capturing Dracula via mirrors set up in an alley. As vampires don't appear in mirrors Dracula fails to realise Van Helsing is actually behind him until it's too late.
- In Ray Bradbury's novel Something Wicked This Way Comes about a hellish carnival, a school teacher gets lost in a Hall of Mirrors while chasing a girl who looks like her at a young age.
- Bradbury's short story "The Dwarf" also features one of these.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Witches Abroad has a variation, wherein Granny Weatherwax and her sister Lily each face their own reflections in a Hall of Mirrors and are challenged by Death to find the one that's real. Lily searches endlessly through the mirrors, while Granny Weatherwax, after asking a couple of questions, looks down at herself and says "This one."
- Garry Kilworth's Welkin Weasels: Heastward Ho!: Maudlin ends up as bait to trap a wolverine ghost, and has to wait inside a mirrored labyrinth-box owned by the conjuror/ghosthunter. The conjuror claims the box, when closed, is of infinite internal dimensions and the only way to get out is to open the lid from the inside.
- In The Slayground by Richard Stark, Parker, corned by rival criminals in a closed up amusement park, takes a precaution to assure that he will not end up confused by the Hall of Mirrors. He spraypaints a white line across the mirrors in the Hall of Mirrors. That way, when he does not see the white line, he knows he has the actual person in his sights.
- The mirrors in Full Tilt are arranged in a maze, the challenge being to find the other side. This being the dark-magical sort of amusement park, it's possible to walk through the mirrors, but doing so will distort you to match the twisted reflection therein. There's no exit, but the mirrors cancel each other out if you walk through enough of them.
- In the Goosebumps book "One Day At Horrorland", there is Hall of Mirrors with the slogan "Reflect Before You Enter. No-one May Ever See You Again". The Hall of Mirrors traps the three kids in separate rooms and the walls move in to crush them. At the last second, the floor opens and the kids slide out safely. Oddly enough, mirrors are banned at Horrorland in the spin-off series because they are portals to Panic Park.
- In the Alan Dean Foster story "Mid-Death", some mercenaries venture into the extreme Death World environment of the Midworld mega-rainforest. One of them gets separated in the midst of a cluster of giant flowers, which turn from translucent to mirror-surfaced once she's been isolated; lost in their midst, she actually thinks of them as a Hall of Mirrors.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: Voyager had an episode where the ship was in a reflective cave with a hostile vessel. Their solution was to fire a lower powered phaser which bounced around until it hit the non-reflective enemy ship.
- Odd Bob the Clown does this in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode Day of the Clown in order to freak Sarah Jane out even more than she already is. It doesn't work. She uses her sonic lipstick to destroy one of the mirrors, revealing the way out of the hall.
- In Doctor Who, there's a hall-of-mirrors chase in the Second Doctor episode "The Seeds of Death," with an Ice Warrior lumbering after our hero. It's reminiscent of an old silent movie, and very tense despite the Warrior's slowness.
- Claire in Heroes uses the Hall Of Mirrors at Samuel's carnival to turn the tables on a Self-Duplication villain.
- The Time Trax episode "Almost Human" has Captain Lambert battling his clone in a mirror house.
- When MacGyver is chased by a brainwashed friend, he uses this to trick the friend into running out of ammo so he can approach and subdue him.
- A scientific example of infinite reflections occured in Mr Wizard where he had a child step into a small enclosure created by three mirrors and closed up the top with another mirror. Then, the camera zoomed out, suggesting that the kid was trapped there forever surrounded by himself...
- The Twilight Zone episode "In Praise of Pip".
- Appears at the climax of the Lois and Clark episode "Illusions of Grandeur."
- Leverage: In "The Carnival Job" Roper confronts a concussed Eliot in the a hall of mirrors, seriously screwing with the already disoriented man. The fact that Eliot and Roper look somewhat alike adds to the confusing effect.
- Dark Oracle: In the Season 1 finale, Blaze and Violet chase Omen down one, ultimately trapping him in a final hidden mirror at the end of the hall.
- In The X-Files episode "Humbug", Scully chases Leonard in the hall of mirrors at the funhouse. She fires at him but ends up breaking the mirror that reflected him. She walks down a hallway and bumps into a mirror. And then into Mulder so they decide to catch the thing outside.
- In Sonic Adventure, Amy is being chased by a robot, and she has to go through one of these in Twinkle Park. As it features such things as booby-trapped sections of floor, it's not exactly easy, which is odd as Twinkle Park is her first stage.
- In Spider-Man 2 for the PS2 one of the rooms of Mysterio's fun house is a hall of mirrors which create deformed clones of Spider-Man that attack him. The mirrors must be destroyed in order to progress.
- Fallen London has the Hall of Mirrors at Mrs. Plenty's Carnival. It includes mirrors that can kill you or drive you insane.
- Doom has what is called the "Hall of Mirrors effect" which happens when someone uses the noclip cheat code to walk into the walls of a level. It can also happen when a texture for a wall or object is not properly referenced. It looks like part of the screen is shimmering, and everything is leaving behind a trace because the screen buffer is not being cleaned between frames.
- This episode of Zap!
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Dr. McNinja encounters one of these on Dracula's moonbase. This is a problem because vampires "don't show up in mirrors, you see." (Dracula is hiding on the ceiling, and the doctor cannot notice him there in a mirror.) Doc, being the badass he is, manages to turn it around on him, though.
- An episode of The Simpsons had a corrupt detective being taunted by Homer in a hall of mirrors. In a subversion, the detective manages to shoot the real Homer on the first attempt.
Homer: Heh heh heh, whaddaya gonna do now? Ya can't shoot all of us. [BANG] Dammit!
- Lisa then promptly pulls out a laser pointer and aims it at the nearest reflection, blinding the detective several bounces later.
- Teen Titans: in one episode towards the end of Season 2, Slade chases Beast Boy and Terra through a causality-defying Hall of Mirrors.
- Kim Possible runs into these while chasing Adrena Lynn through an amusement park.
- One episode of Aladdin: The Series had the heroes try to find a certain magic mirror to ward off an obelisk whose shadow destroyed whatever it fell on; they would know it because it reflected one's true self. Aladdin found it when, although he was dressed in his royal garb, it reflected him as a "street rat".
- Batman pursues Baby Dahl into a hall of mirrors at the end of one Batman: The Animated Series episode. She breaks down and surrenders after seeing herself reflected in one mirror the way she should look (as an adult, instead of the looks-about-6 body she actually has) and ends up emptying her gun into the reflection while crying.
- This happens to Batman a lot, really: he chases the Joker into one during the first season finale of The Batman.
"If you think this is confusing, try living inside my head!"
- In the Disney cartoon Bone Trouble, Pluto ducks into a hall of mirrors to escape an angry bulldog, and amuses himself by playing with the reflections. When the bulldog appears, Pluto scares him off with multiple reflections of himself.
- Subverted in Static Shock. When a villain runs from Static into one, Static uses what must be the most obvious trick that nobody ever uses: He looks at the floor.
- In the Pac-Man episode "Nighty Nightmares", Pinky's dream is that Pac-Man has followed him into a hall of mirrors.
- An episode of Superfriends had Wonder Woman in a hall of mirrors. The reflections said to her, "You can't run away from yourself!"
- In "Reflections in Crime", Mirror Master was ironically cornered in one when his equipment was destroyed.
- In "Bizarro World", Bizarro traps Black Vulcan in one. He smashes every mirror in his path, but it takes him until the end of the episode, when Superman has already defeated Bizarro, to escape.
- In the Family Guy Exorcist parody episode, Carrot Top leads Peter into one of these, and the latter is too busy watching the reflections to notice a trapdoor which he walks into. This being Family Guy, he escapes via the use of a see-saw.
- In one episode of Gravity Falls, Stan sets up a decidedly low-budget one as an attraction at the Mystery Shack. Lil' Gideon, out to shrink Stan with a magic crystal, gets around the usual problem by breaking every mirror he finds.
- Vanity Smurf goes into a house of mirrors in an episode of The Smurfs and comes out with a bunch of copies of himself coming out of the mirrors.
- In a Cheese Festival episode of Hey Arnold! Arnold tries to pursue his love-interest into the Hall of Mirrors, but he is unable to properly confront her since he is unable to find the real one among the reflections. Helga follows Arnold into the same attraction, but is soon surrounded by dozens of Brainys appearing in all the mirrors. However, she easily knocks out the real Brainy who is standing right behind her like he usually is.
- When Mafia hitman Albert Anastasia got whacked in a barber shop, his assailants timed their attack well, entering when he had a hot towel over his face. Hearing their sudden arrival, Anastasia pulled the towel off, spotted their reflections in a full-length shop mirror, and instinctively lunged toward their images, having mistaken them for the actual threat. As this placed his back to the killers, he was shot from behind so fast he may never have realized he'd fallen prey to a Real Life variant of this trope.
- The Phantom of the Opera's mirrored torture chamber has basis in real life. It's more properly known as a catoptric cistula, and was mostly used for optical illusions such as making a few model trees look like a real forest.
- The Gurnee Mills shopping mall in Gurnee, IL has a truly awe-inspiring hall of mirrors in its main entrance. It's quite a long hallway, too—one can't help but to see oneself reflected into infinity.