In the Doldrums

"Captain's Starlog, supplemental. Our entire crew is eager to make First Contact with the Deltans, whose culture is based on sexual intercourse. Unfortunately Admiral Forrest has just informed me that the Vulcans want us to study the Dulthic Expanse, a vast region of space where nothing exists. It is commonly regarded as the most boring phenomenon in the universe."
Farce Contact, a Star Trek: Enterprise fanfic.

This place is barren, and it takes steps to keep it that way.

The Doldrums is a place with the distinguishing characteristic of being boring. But this isn't your standard, run-of-the-mill boring. This is advanced boring. Here is a place that defies the normal properties of space to create a barren wasteland. Its properties may include lack of purpose, loss of memory, time dilation, space dilation, lack of living things, and Involuntary Fading Disorder.

A variant of The Doldrums is an infinite featureless plane, often white.

Overlaps a bit with Mordor, but the key feature is the bareness, not the evilness.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The "Room of Spirit and Time" from Dragon Ball Z ("Hyperbolic Time Chamber" in the dub) is an infinite White Void Room where a year passes for every day outside. This, combined with increased gravity and wildly fluctuating temperature, can have an erosive effect on your sanity - Goku is mentioned to have tried it when he was younger, only to barely last a month.

    Comic Books 
  • In the DCU, the Phantom Zone associated with the Superman franchise.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: Davey Jones' Locker is a barren wasteland (for a while, anyways). Nothing but perfectly flat, white desert in every direction. It's called "The Doldrums" twice, and it is true to the original definition (It is a sailors hell, after all): no wind to sail on nor even water to sail in; Just Jack Sparrow, his ship, and a bunch of crabs.

  • Trope Namer (kind of; see Real Life below) and possibly the Trope Codifier is The Phantom Tollbooth. It's home to the anthropomorphic personifications of boredom, and you get there by not thinking.
  • In the Stephen King novella The Langoliers, the characters are stuck in between seconds. The resulting dead world acts in this manner, but it is fated to be eaten by Eldritch Abominations.
  • Similarly, the Troll Gods of The Elenium can access the world between seconds. While there are people and animals they're all frozen in place and cannot be moved and everything is quiet. It's very efficient for traveling long distances in a short time but also very unnerving.
  • The interior of the house in House of Leaves.
  • The Crapsack World of The Road might qualify.
  • The Muddletop Moors in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger novel The Day of the Dissonance. It's overcast all the time, food is tasteless and anyone traveling through it gets so bored and depressed that they just lie down and die. It turns out that the depression is caused by the telepathic broadcasts of the intelligent giant fungi who live there. But of course, Jon Tom provided some magical entertainment to the fungi and passed through the moors safely.
  • Xanth gives us the Neverglades. An infinite expanse of featureless marsh that traps people within it for all eternity unless you can overcome the spell in some way.
  • Some people end up in one in Discworld when they die, an apparently infinite dusky desert. Some march on resolutely, others just stay there with different results (Anghammarad, being a golem, enjoyed finally being free, Vorbis, having no clue what to do, was paralyzed with fear for a century).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The titular setting of the Doctor Who serial "Warrior's Gate". A subversion of sorts as doing nothing is the only way to get out.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • On "Death Wish", the Q continuum was described this way by a Q who had become so bored with his omniscience that he wished to commit suicide. In order to back up his statement, he led the crew to a part of the continuum inhabited by a group of Q who did absolutely nothing but sit in one spot - having done ''literally everything'.
    • Subverted on "Night" — they're moving as per normal, they just can't see it as the void is 2,500 light years across, and the stars are obscured by theta radiation.
    Chakotay: It's like being becalmed in the middle of the ocean. If it weren't for sensors we wouldn't even know we were at warp. We've only been crossing this expanse for two months and we're already feeling the strain. How do we last another two years?
  • One episode of The Twilight Zone (1959) has a man who only wants to read be the sole survivor when everyone else on earth is killed off. He finally has all the time in the world to read! And then he breaks his glasses.
  • Supernatural: Crowley invokes it when he reshapes hell into a long, long, long queue. And when you reach the end of it? You start it again.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Sheol in early Jewish myth, and Hades in Greek myth, were both places like this: neither good nor bad, just gray.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In Planescape, the properties of the Grey Wastes of Hades replace all emotions with hopelessness and gloom, and cause colors fade to gray.
    • The same is basically true of Dollurh in Eberron, except while only some evil people (and the occasional adventuring party) wind up in Hades, everybody winds up in Dollurh.

    Video Games 
  • The Guardian's realm looks like this in The Longest Journey. It turns out to be a Fisher Kingdom—in the sequel, the replacement for the first game's ailing Guardian adds plant life and a proper sky.
  • The Rakatan prison in Knights of the Old Republic is a big blank whiteness with a single prisoner being the only remarkable feature. Talking to him reveals that there were others as well who got trapped by accident and eventually ran off into the endless void.
  • All Minecraft maps have an upper and lower Void. The upper Void is simply the sky in the overworld and the End, while in the Nether it's the open space 128 meters above the bedrock ceiling. The lower Void, in all dimensions, is an infinite drop into black oblivion that kills entities (including players) that go past y-64.

    Web Comics 
  • Richard of Looking for Group gets locked in one called "the Infinite Plane of Suck."

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of SpongeBob SquarePants ends with Squidward in an endless expanse of white emptiness, until he mentioned he was, at last, alone. Cue voices saying "alone" and the word itself appearing in different colors and sizes.
  • There's an episode of the Care Bears like this, called "Drab City," where the titular bears find a town where everything is depressing and colorless, and all the people are apathetic. As they travel through the town, they begin to turn gray and depressed as well.
  • A cutaway in an early Family Guy episode showed the Griffins on holiday in Limbo. They were all just hanging in a featureless void, commenting on how it was neither good or bad.

    Real Life 
  • "The Doldrums" is originally a nautical term for areas with no wind, where the ship can't move. The longer the ship stays there, the more the sailors' refuse piles up around it (termed "sailing under Admiral Brown"), so when the wind finally does pick up, the ship's movement is blocked. Obviously, no longer the case with modern sailing, but a huge problem back in the day of tall ships.