- Opacity: Some are see through, others can actually block light from passing through them like a real object. Oddly, this doesn't necessarily mean they cast shadows.
- Emitter: Though common, many eschew this entirely. Instead of an emitter all you need is a powerful enough computer or piece of Phlebotinum with a monitor to make a hologram. If they do have an emitter, it will almost invariably be a Data Crystal or Power Crystal.
- Range: Usually it's unlimited. Only rarely are they limited to a line of sight to their emitter, frequently they act as independent autonomous beings so long as the device is on, no matter how far they go or if there are objects in between.
- Glamour Failure: Despite often being the photonic equivalent of Deceptively Human Robots, they will exhibit signs of being artificial because they: don't cast shadows, hair or clothes won't flap in the wind, are "too simple," or are not rendered very realistically.
- Stuttering and Static: Related to Glamour Failure, holgrams generally fizz, pop, stutter and show other signs of malfunctioning right out of the box, though, for some reason, none of the users ever seems to notice this. For examples see Hologram Projection Imperfection.
- Clipping: Because they're intangible, people and objects can and will (hilariously) pass through them. Some holograms might have a "rendering failure" while so abused and go static-y, others might simply act annoyed, and some will gleefully stick their heads through walls like ghosts to see what's on the other side. Again, don't expect interposed objects to affect the emitter.
- Integrated Speakers: One fun aspect of holograms is that they can actually speak or make noise, regardless of being unable to affect air or matter directly. This isn't a big deal for indoor or emitter-bound holograms, since it's not a big stretch to imagine there's also a speaker system hidden nearby. This is usually something that falls into Willing Suspension of Disbelief for unbound holograms though, since a holographic female computer avatar holding up an Etch-a-Sketch with her dialogue would be too funny.
- Integrated Camera: A hologram AI or projected image of another person can usually see through the hologram's eyes, regardless of if a camera installed near the emitter would be limited in what it can see. It's usually understood that holographic technology can somehow not just project light but "see" everything in its vicinity.
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Anime & Manga
- Cowboy Bebop episode "Pierrot Le Fou". While fighting Mad Pierrot/Tongpu in the Space Land amusement park, Spike goes through a door into an area forbidden to customers. A hologram of a flying cherub appears, repeatedly telling him "It's not safe in here! Let's play outside" to try to get him to leave.
- Used quite often in the later Macross series, usually in combination with Idol Singers:
- In Macross Plus, the virtual idol Sharon Apple (whose processor unit is a HAL-like black metal box with an eye) can only "manifest" to her audience as endlessly-customizable holographic avatars. The one pulling the strings is the female protagonist Myung, a former singer who served as the template of Sharon's AI. By the end of the OAV, Sharon has taken control of the Macross itself, and she projects thousands and thousands of dreamlike holograms all across Macross City... as well as a titanic version of herself that envelops the titular mecha. Only Guld's Heroic Sacrifice, Myung's Action Survivor actions and Isamu's destruction of the AI itself manage to stop her.
- In Macross Frontier, Sheryl Nome typically performs her songs wearing a full-body holo-suit onto which a variety of costumes are projected (from the Stripperiffic to the regal ones.) Despite their nature, these holographic costumes have some level of solidity, as they can interact with the environment and vice versa.
- In a Shout-Out to the Macross Plus example, the climax of the series shows a gigantic hologram of Ranka Lee manifesting above the Vajra homeworld, depleting the NUNS pilots' morale and dropping the Frontier's populace into despair... and also disguising the Battle Galaxy under Grace's command. This hologram is disrupted when the Macross Quarter fires its Heavy Quantuum Cannon at it.
- The members of Walkure in Macross Delta extensively use holograms, not just for stuff like instant costume changes, but to do things like distract a roomful of Aerial Knights so they can jump in and rescue the heroes.
- Ladonia in Axis Powers Hetalia, who lives in Cyberspace (and possibly also in Sweden) and only has a physical form as long as his laptop is turned on (and sometimes not even then).
- In Aldnoah.Zero, Princess Asseylum uses a holographic disguise to keep herself hidden among Earthians. In the second season her half-sister Lemrina uses holographic disguises to impersonate Asseylum, who is in a Convenient Coma.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! features holographic monsters created by the various Duel Disk or arenas used by the characters. In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V technology has developed enough for the holograms to be made of Hard Light. This is then promptly deconstructed as the hard light holograms can and do hurt people.
- The Spider-Man villain Mysterio frequently uses holograms.
- When Alan Moore's Tom Strong travelled to Terra Obscura, he encounters Dark Age Virtual Ghost The Terror.
Tom Strong: The lasers aren't aimed at us. They're creating a criss-cross lattice of beams in the chamber's center. On my world, I've heard rumours of technology like this. Apparently, when two powerful lasers cross beams, it can create a hovering plasma ball... except this is scores of lasers. Properly manipulated, the plasma can emit almost intelligible sounds. They call the technology "God's voice"...
- In one of Yoko Tsuno's stories, "The Prey and the Shadow", a secretary named Margaret is forced to become the model for one of these, for reasons that her boss won't disclose. Fearing for her life and that of another girl whom she's impersonated (said boss' daughter, the apparently mentally unstable Cecilia), Margaret decides to latch on the titular Action Girl for help... and she's got good reasons, since the hologram's a part of a cruel Evil Plan to get Cecilia killed.
- Nightcrawler of the X-Men has a device that creates a hologram to let him appear normal, but he rarely uses it.
- Doctor Doom's Hologram Projector consist of a projector and a transmitter. It can project images derived from a signal from the transmitter. He often attaches the transmitter to one of his Doombots or other minions and watches the image from a safe location.
- In Pouvoirpoint, starship Entreprise-2061 is occasionally visited by the crew of another distant vessel, in the form of glitching holograms. The main character himself makes a visit to the other ship in a holographic way.
- Hound is famous for his hologramming ability in Transformers Meta.
- In When There Was A Tomorrow, Noble Six fools Covenant soldiers with this hologram distraction several times. In a Shout-Out to Total Recall (1990), the last "hologram" asks some confused Covenant soldiers if they really think it's him, causing them to hesitate. It's him all right.
- Magical holograms exist in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, with the Imaginarium being a fantasy version of Star Trek holodecks.
- The Cloud Horn in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World turns out to be a hologram, and the musician Mevaryat confesses that for the last few concerts, another hologram of him playing the thing fooled the audiences. (They were keeping this a secret because the destruction of the Cloud Horn, the “Soul of Svenjaya,” would have caused the Svenjaya to riot had it become known.)
- Also, while on Tipaan trying to get the Cloud Horn in the first place, Ringo pretends to be a G'heddi'onian by wearing a portable holoprojector that lightens his skin and gives him a more appropriate face. He later uses it to sneak past some people looking for him.
Films — Animation
- Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within used holograms for computer interfaces of all kinds, even keyboards. This leads to an awkward moment late in the film when the facility that a group of Red Shirts are in loses power, leaving the workers stuck at workstations suspended over an open area when the keyboards vanish. It also leaves them as sitting ducks when the Phantoms attack.
Films — Live-Action
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: The black Lectroid leader sends Buckaroo a record player-like device that generates a hologram of herself.
- Iron Man: Tony Stark has created a holographic drafting table that he uses to design his armor in 3D (aided by his Magical Computer butler). He can even "wear" the hologram by sticking his arms in.
- The Last Starfighter: The images Zur projected into the Starfighter base.
- Outland: Naked holographic women dance/copulate? in the bar used by the miners.
- Resident Evil: the Red Queen's projected "little girl" image.
- I, Robot: Dr Lanning uses a holo-mitter to speak to Detective Spooner after his "suicide".
Lanning: I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right questions.
- Star Wars:
- Episode IV: A New Hope. Princess Leia's image projected out of R2-D2, and the chess pieces in the game between R2-D2 and Chewbacca.
- You can see the evolution of the technology over the course of all six films. In the prequels, holograms are almost exclusively rendered in varying shades of blue. By the time of the original trilogy, they're in color, and much larger (see Vader's massive hologram of the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back, and R2's larger-than-life hologram of Luke in Return of the Jedi).
- By the time The Force Awakens rolls around, holograms can be confused for the real person.
- Superman II:
- Lex Luthor creates a laser hologram device to project images of himself and Otis playing chess. This fools the guards so they can escape Metropolis Prison.
- While Superman is talking to the computerized image of his mother Lara in his Fortress of Solitude, her image steps out of the crystal and moves around.
- In Flubber the robot Weebo projects a holographic hot girl avatar for herself to fondle the main character in his sleep. It's weirder in context.
- Futureworld (sequel to Westworld). Two Delos guests play a chess game using holographic pieces.
- Minority Report includes a scene with a holographic projection of a home movie. The film uses an interesting effect wherein the hologram only has partial depth and is not entirely three dimensional. It is not explained whether this is due to imperfect technology or the fact that the 3D hologram is trying to render from a 2D original.
- Tank Girl. Kesslee's head after his operation.
- The original Total Recall (1990) has a device to create a photo realistic hologram that mimics the user. It is used late in the film to trick a bunch of armed guards. There's also a tennis-training hologram that Lori uses to practice her serve. Total Recall (2012) has holograms used for things like signs, to Quaid's disguise, to the recording Hauser left to Quaid which is Hauser's head floating between two ornaments.
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. When Duke first meets the Joes they have a device that projects a holographic image of their commander General Hawk.
- Logan's Run. In the scene where Logan is interrogated about Sanctuary, the main computer creates holograms of his head that express his thoughts.
- The Matrix. The bridge of the Nebuchadnezzar (and presumably the other hoverships) has a holographic display that shows other objects (like Sentinels).
- The Whisperer in Darkness, made in the retraux style of a 1930's Universal Horror film, has the protagonist hooking a machine up to a Brain in a Jar and saying he's not going to be fooled by some parlour trick with a radio, only to be stunned to see a Huge Holographic Head talking back to him.
- The whole plot of Pixel Perfect revolves around Roscoe creating a holographic lead singer for his friends' band.
- In Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly finds himself attacked by a holographic shark advertising Jaws 19 playing at a nearby holographic movie house in Hill Valley of 2015. Initially scared at first by the shark, Marty comments afterward that it still looks fake.
- Cyberjack: Nick uses a set of holograms of himself running through a corridor to confuse the hell out of the bad guys, who spend about five minutes running all over the place trying to catch him before they realize the trick he's pulled on them. Then the last "hologram" runs up to The Brute and punches him in the face.
- Escape from L.A.: For his government-mandated mission to the future hellhole of Los Angeles island, Snake is given a device that projects a holographic image of himself to fool enemies. Notably, he uses it in the climax to fool the dictorial U.S. President.
- Used to safely simulate monsters, enemy soldiers, weapons and other threats in Dream Park and its sequels.
- In Neuromancer, the character Riviera is a showman with the ability to project holograms due to having an emitter implanted in his chest. He has a taste for guro-type shows when onstage, and offstage he's no better. For example, he likes to amplify his experiences in drug use by projecting a scorpion over his hypodermic while shooting up-and to create traffic accidents by projecting the scorpion onto the dashboards of passing vehicles and hoping the driver panics. It is also his Chekhov's Gun although firing it doesn't quite get the result he was hoping for. the other characters recognize immediately that a hologram is a controlled laser, and could be used as a laser weapon just strong enough to fry a retina over-easy, as the Finn puts it. Riviera eventually uses it as such against the ninja bodyguard Hideo. Unfortunately for Riviera, ninjas are quite skilled at enduring pain and fighting in the dark, so this serves only to make Hideo want to kill Riviera.
- Return from the Stars has holographic "photos" (a flat piece of paper which displays a holographic face above when unfolded) as well as holographic theatre. The protagonist blunders into one such a spectacle, thinking it to be a gathering of real people and attempts to ask the actors for directions before realizing what a spectacle he has just made of himself.
- A commonly used ability of the Chee in Animorphs, both the books and TV series. The Chee are androids who pass in human society with human holograms. They often project holograms to hide conversations with the Animorphs, or in at least one book, hide the kids' escapes with their parents.
- The central atrium of the Prometheus Corporation’s HQ in The Chronicles of Professor Jack Baling has an enormous hologram of Prometheus as its centerpiece.
- Star Trek in all its incarnations. Of special mention are the Holodecks in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager. Unlike many holograms, Federation holograms are as solid as they want to be, due to a combination of force fields and replicator technology. (Indeed, when a holodeck creates food for you to eat, it's no longer a hologram in any sense; it's real food, replicated on the spot.) They're also realistic enough to fool very smart people for extended periods of time (as in TNG's "Ship in a Bottle"). While 24th century Federation holodeck technology requires a lot of infrastructure, at one point Voyager's Doctor acquires a mobile emitter made with 29th century technology. It's smaller than a cellphone but allows him to travel anywhere.
- Al from Quantum Leap.
- Rimmer in Red Dwarf is a hologrammatic recreation of his dead self, sustained by a floating light bee. Since he cannot touch or taste anything, trying to get himself a real body is a recurring plot until he gets a Hard Light drive in Season VI that allows him to switch between hard and soft light modes. Holograms are apparently expensive to run: the only people to be resurrected are the ludicrously richnote and a few vital Space Corps personnel (Red Dwarf can only run one holo at a time).
- Becoming implausibly common on present-day detective procedurals, including Bones and CSI: NY. Most police departments can barely afford toner for copiers, yet the lab rats still get this to play with? There is actually a way to project an image mid-air like this, though it requires lasers so powerful they'd start fires. The process also (sometimes) produces gasses that might turn the fluid in your eyes to acid. Bones did eventually phase out the absurd holographic rendering device (and it's been lampshaded that the Jeffersonian Institute has much nicer equipment than your average police station).
- One incarnation of Andromeda (the Spaceship's Persona) is a hologram.
- Stargate SG-1 seems to regard holograms as being pretty high up the technological tree, as full on holograms are the exclusive province of the Ancients and Asgard. Late on Anubis steals the plans, along with some other Asgard goodies. To what use does he put this technology? As an interstellar telephone with which to taunt his enemies, of course!
- In RoboCop: The Series, Diana, a secretary whose memory was uploaded into the OCP supercomputer after she was killed, could project an image of herself in a hologram.
- Babylon 5:
- Actual holograms (as in, not volumetric displays) show up a handful of times as part of a Minbari fleet commander's standard equipment. Basically the displays fold down around the command staff and then the (flat) screens display fully 3D images of the battle around them.
- The technomages play the trope straight, creating volumetric displays with no visible emitters, possibly crossing the line into Hard Light.
- Mission: Impossible has concealed hologram projectors as part of the team's arsenal since the later seasons in the '60s series. The '80s revival uses them even more frequently and even has an episode named after the trope.
- Covered in the "Where's My Hoverboard?" episode of White Rabbit Project. Kari even shows viewers how to build a simple "hologram" viewer using some acrylic and an iPad.
- Williams' and Bally's "Pinball 2000" platform used a mirrored glass to display animations, scores, and other information from a computer monitor onto the Pinball playfield, for a psuedo-holographic effect. Only two pinball machines were released on this system before the company closed: Revenge from Mars and Star Wars Episode I.
- Creature from the Black Lagoon used a holographic creature in the middle of the playfield that lights up and waves its "hand" back and forth during multiball.
- Call of Cthulhu supplement The Fungi from Yuggoth. The Yithian Communicator is a device the Yithians of the distant past use to communicate through time. The device has a red jewel that projects an image (presumably using laser light) of the Yithian itself.
- Dungeons & Dragons. The Judges Guild supplement Wilderlands of the Magic Realm has an high-tech artifact in the shape of a boulder that is powered by geothermal energy. It projects a laser hologram of an elven princess.
- Iron Crown Enterprises Cyberspace main rules. Several high tech items can generate holograms.
- Electra brand holoclothes are exactly what they sound like: they consist entirely of a holographic image of clothes created by a belt-worn generator over the user's naked body. Better hope the batteries don't run down and the device doesn't malfunction (one known flaw is for the clothes to remain in a chair after the wearer gets up and walks away).
- Holojewelry is a small holographic projector mounted on the wearer's body. It can create images such as false faces, masks, dancing flames and swirling mists of color.
- Holovision is a device that can project three dimensional images. They can display TV shows, games or other forms of entertainment.
- Classic Traveller:
- Adventure 2 Research Station Gamma. One room in the station has a hologram of a constantly rippling waterfall on one wall.
- Adventure 3 Twilight's Peak. In the Ancient base, when a gold wall patch is touched a section of wall opens and a holographic image of food appears. If the image is grabbed, the food will be teleported into the person's hand.
- Marvel Super Heroes adventure MLBA1 Mutating Mutants. One of the rooms in the secret laboratory has holographic projectors that create illusions of Doctor Doom and two Sentinels (mutant-hunting robots).
- Star Frontiers:
- A holo screen is a defensive power screen that projects a three dimensional image (hologram) around its user. The holographic image is stored on a holodisc that is inserted into the holo screen.
- Adventure SF1 Volturnus, Planet of Mystery. Several examples can be found inside the Eorna underground complex.
- In the Asylum Common Room the PCs can find a holovision (three dimensional holographic television).
- The Eorna History Museum and Cultural Center has displays explaining Eorna history and culture that include holograms.
- GDW's Dark Conspiracy supplement Darktek. The Holoweb can create a moving holographic image.
- In Rocket Age they range from big flashy projectors to wrist mounted devices ala Total Recall (1990).
- Used very often in the Metroid Prime series. Planets are commonly projected for navigation purposes and in the Aurora Units frequently relay messages in this form.
- In Halo, both the UNSC and the Covenant have holographic display technology (the latter having reverse-engineered them from the Forerunners), with human AIs in particular able to project visual avatars of themselves ranging from a female nude to a literal black box. Halo: Reach and Halo 4 also feature holograms that can be deployed to distract enemies, a Covenant technology that was later reverse-engineered by the UNSC.
- In Destroy All Humans!, Crypto's commander, Orthopox, uses a holographic projector called a Holo Pox Unit to communicate with Crypto from the mothership.
- Crosses with Real Life: Sega's Time Traveller and Holloseum notoriously claimed to be hologram games when it wasn't—it was basically a flat image suspended in midair using mirrors (ie relatively crude Pepper's Ghost technology).
- Holograms in The Crystal Key look and act exactly like the ones from the Star Wars franchise (fittingly for a game where the villain is obviously meant to be Darth Vader.) They're all Apocalyptic Logs, and they're your primary source of backstory given that what few sentient beings are still alive are all working for the villain and trying to kill you.
- Ridiculously common in Dead Space, your characters inventory, access panels, even lift buttons are holograms projected on to thin air. Curiously all videos are 2D and limited to the colour blue.
- Mass Effect has holograms for VI interfaces and communication. They are usually limited to a single colour at one time.
- Assassin's Creed:
- Assassin's Creed II features one in 1499 under the Vatican, manned by Minerva.
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has several under the Colosseum in Rome, manned by Juno, though only Desmond can see and hear them. she's more direct in how she operates.
- Assassin's Creed III has several within the Grand Temple, all showing different ways to try to avert the First Disaster, and another interface in the center of said Temple... though it turns out the holograms aren't just holograms after all, including both Minerva and Juno this time.
- During the Space phase of Spore, players can buy a hologram emitter that will project a representation of the ship's Captain onto a planet's surface. Anything the hologram "grabs" is transported into the ship's hold.
- Mega Man:
- After beating Mega Man 2's Alien Wily, the hologram projector broke and it was revealed the real Dr. Wily was controlling it.
- In Rockman 4 Minus Infinity, the same thing happened with Wave Man and Crash Man, and the bubble Mini-Boss in Cossack 3 is implied to be from a projector. The alien also returns, but Mega Man kills it before it finishes forming. The True Final Boss, the Petit Robot Masters, are also holograms.
- The Dr. Light capsules in the Mega Man X series (Or are they?).
- The Deus Ex series has holograms for communication purposes, oddly the holograms look the best in the Prequel (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) even being mistaken for real people on occasions but the worst in the last (canonical) game (Deus Ex: Invisible War) where they are tinged blue and strobe slightly.
- Unusually, two holograms appear in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Keep in mind that the Legend of Zelda series is mostly based on medieval Europe. Both of the holograms are of Zant, a major villain in the game; the holograms act as the minibosses of the Palace of Twilight, the penultimate dungeon in the game.
- Tears to Tiara 2: Kleito is a dragon, but appears in the form of a [[Hologram]] of a little girl. The hologram is projected by the floating city of Tartetos, which also supplies her with magic and allows her to teleport within city limits.
- Throughout the entire series, there are information storage devices known as "Holodisks"... and there are "Holotapes".
- Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas; both games have "Brotherhood holotags" which are dog tags that are holographic.
- Fallout 3 add-on Point Lookout; Professor Calvert or at least his brain. It's pretty much the only way he can communicate to people.
- Fallout 3 add-on Mothership Zeta; The Alien Captain's message at the end.
- Fallout: New Vegas add-on Dead Money; features multiple Holograms as walking cameras, security, vendors, and even living people like Dean Domino or Vera Keys, with the later recording her last moments. It also includes the "Sierra Madre vending machine" a self-contained matter transformation device that has a holographic interface that displays the item being purchased.
- Dead Money also features the Holorifle, a weapon devised by Father Elijah as so he and the people he strong-armed into helping him could have a way to defend themselves in the dangerous casino. The holorifle fires a cluster of four hologram cubes that cause damage when they hit and extra damage for 15 damage for 3 seconds afterwards (this is referred to "holorifle damage").
- Fallout: New Vegas add-on Old World Blues; features where the Holograms, and vending machines, of Dead Money were developed. Including a hologram of the K9000 cyberdog gun.
- Rogue-archtype ships in Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages come equipped with hologram generators, which can be used to create decoys to confuse opponents.
- Kirby: Planet Robobot has the Holo Defense API, which sends out holograms of Kracko, 2 Doomers, a Ice Dragon and the Coily Rattler to attack you.
- Snake Broskin of Bro Force has the hologram makers from Escape from L.A. as his special move. The holograms are real enough to fool the (admittedly very stupid) Mooks and can act as a teleporter but at the cost of having the same range as a thrown grenade.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Kay's 'Little Thief' computer was used to project holographic recreations of crime scenes.
- Galatea's hologram hat in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!.
- In Times Like This, holograms are encountered frequently in visits to the future (or in objects brought back from the future):
- Follower: The military base has one as part of its combat simulator. It appears to also use Hard Light too.
- Arthur has "Binky", a virtual band, whose life performances are basically holographic projections.
- Synergy projects Holograms from Jerrica's Jemstar Earrings in Jem.
- Scooby-Doo loves these. Villains often uses projectors (holographic or otherwise) to make their act seem more genuine.
- Iron Man: Armored Adventures has holograms, coming in both a blue, full-body, full-size projection that's, and a small, flat, orange head-only projection that is emitted from a villain's communication wristband.
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, all Miseryville phones can project holograms.
- In the Julius Jr. episode Do the Dez Bop, it is revealed that Marv has a hologram camcorder/projector system hidden in his hat.
- Like his comic counterpart, Nightcrawler in X-Men: Evolution has a hologram device so he can appear normal. As the Evolution version of Nightcrawler is a bit more self-conscious, (not to mention for the first two seasons, the existence of mutants is hidden from the public) he uses it more often than the comic version.
- Wade uses a hologram projector to enable Kim Possible to spend time with her cousin Larry while simultaneously accompanying Ron to Monty Fiske's mansion. The real Kim is with Larry, somewhat to her dismay since she considers him an annoying gamer-geek. This leaves Ron and Rufus on their own when Fiske turns out to be a villain....
- Men In Black The Series: The two-part finale "The End Game Syndrome" features a hologram broadcast from orbit with the ability to project lethal energy beams.