It isn't easy being a Meido
"There is one neat effect when characters unwisely venture into a corridor and the door slams shut on them. Then a laser beam passes at head level, decapitating one. Another beam whizzes past at waist level, cutting the second in two while the others duck. A third laser pretends to be high but then switches to low, but the third character outsmarts it by jumping at the last minute. Then the fourth laser turns into a grid that dices its victim into pieces the size of a Big Mac. Since the grid is inescapable, what were the earlier lasers about? Does the corridor have a sense of humor?"
Whenever there's a security system in place, there's always a highly visible laser sensor grid with man-sized holes in it. The infiltrator must then use cunning acrobatics or clever trickery to navigate around the lasers to reach the target on the other side. Or, if he's MacGyver
, he can rig up a cunning system of mirrors to deflect the lasers around himself.
Often, the grid can be disabled briefly without triggering the alarm, usually just long enough for the intrepid heroes to sprint the length of the hall/gallery/vault in question. Unless the plot calls for them to be caught, in which case the grid will re-activate an instant too soon. Sometimes the beams are invisible to the naked eye, requiring some Applied Phlebotinum
to make them visible; this may take the form of an aerosol spray or high-tech goggles. Many times, to spice things up, additional devices like temperature sensors, seismic detectors, or metal detectors are added to the mix.
Most times the lasers in question will be purely sensory in nature, but occasionally they are actually dangerous in and of themselves, whether through being actually harmful or deadly to touch, or through being a tripwire that sets off a bomb or something else nasty.
Invariably, the grid will not cover the target itself, leaving a comfortable alcove for the protagonist to work in, once the system has been traversed.
In reality, low-power lasers can't be seen from the side, even with Cool Shades
; they don't energize the air enough with photons to cause it to glow, and any laser that would
give off a glow would be harmful or even deadly to touch. The aerosol trick does work on visible-frequency lasers, but if it scatters too much energy the alarm will still go off. Diverting a laser sensor with mirrors works in principle. In practice, however, it would be impossible to position the mirrors with enough precision to pull it off, or to find mirrors sufficiently flawless that they could be moved into place without their edges breaking the beam.
Real security systems don't even use lasers. A much more reliable and accurate method for detecting intruders is a standard thermal motion detector or sonar-driven door sensor. Also, non-coherent infrared beam detectors can be used, like the kind of system in your TV remote or under your garage door, for much less money.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on hazardous hallways. For more, see Death Course
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- It appears an Intel ad for their I5 processor, featuring the Madagascar penguins trying to steal said processor.
Anime & Manga
- Natsuki and Mai prepare to infiltrate a laser hallway in Mai-HiME, only to discover that Mikoto has already walked into the lasers and triggered the alarms.
- In episode one, Rin uses cigarette smoke to reveal the lasers in an air vent. She then tries to sneak through, but unfortunately her butt trips the alarm. Hilarity Ensues...immediately followed by Squick.
- In episode five, Mimi now hides out in a Buddhist temple that comes with a "laser cage" consisting of vertical laser beams to trap intruders and leave them open to fire by her army of nuns with guns. Since it's designed to contain rather than detect, the beams are spaced at a small distance from each other.
- Averted in New Getter Robo: in the second episode some people pass through laser sensors that weren't visible to them (only to the audience from an angle where they were practically pointed at the camera) and were aimed in five different angles, making it so it'd be all but impossible to get past them even if you could see them.
- In Goshuushou-sama Ninomiya-kun, this trope is combined with gag boobs to comical effect. After much careful sidestepping, the lasers eventually Tsukimura Mayu's breast obscures one of the (sensory-only) beams and sets off the security response.
- One features in the second episode of Angel Beats!, likely as a Homage to Resident Evil. The group is trapped in a locked corridor and have to dodge the increasingly complicated laser patterns. Matsushita ends up sliced into pieces, but of course, Death Is Cheap here and he revives soon after, although his clothes are shredded.
- Occurred in a Kochikame TV special when one of the circus villains acrobat through the laser room which holds the gold head statue.
- Double Subversion in 009-1. The lead character does the usual tricky laser dodging maneuvers (somewhat justified in that she's a cyborg) and gets all the way through to the end. She pulls out a device to plug into the machine at the end of the hallway, uses it, then unplugs it - and the cable falls into the laser beam, setting off the alarm. This triggers another laser grid, this one deadly, as demonstrated by cutting the wire which had tripped the alarm. The heroine tells her partner to leave her, but naturally, they escape.
- The second-season episode "Cash Eye" of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex features a laser hallway which is quickly defeated by the Major. Her actual navigation of the hallway is protrayed in such a perfunctory way that the trope is somewhat subverted: nobody looks impressed afterward and her animated movements aren't particularly dramatic. (Her breasts are given far more artistic attention in that scene than her ability to defeat this particular laser hallway.)
- The priceless diamond in Air Bud: Spikes Back is protected by lasers.
- The laser hallway in the Resident Evil movie where most of The Squad is slaughtered and shredded into pieces, including one poor bastard who winds up getting "cubed." The contraption returns in Resident Evil: Extinction.
- Cube, the movie that inspired that scene, featured similar devices which sliced the characters to pieces whenever they entered a room.
- In Executive Decision, the concept of the laser hallway is shrunk and applied to a bomb. There are two metal contacts that, if they touch, close the circuit and detonate the bomb. All around the contacts there are (unmoving) laser beams which, if interrupted, would detonate the bomb as well. One of the good guys dons what look like ordinary night vision goggles that give him the ability to see the beams, so he can hold a plastic straw in between the contacts without interrupting any of them.
- The entire plot of Entrapment (1999) appears to have been constructed to provide an excuse for Catherine Zeta-Jones to twist and bend her way through laser beams in a Spy Catsuit.
- According to Word of God, that is exactly why it was made.
- The most improbable laser hallway ever, as well as the most improbable method of moving through a laser hallway ever, appeared in Ocean's Twelve, in the lobby of a museum. Not only were there about two dozen beams, they were moving, and moreover, their movement was randomized, which means there's no way to predict how and where to move through them. Nonetheless, the French jewel thief extraordinaire makes it through.
- In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back the jewel thieves make their way through a laser hallway using various different acrobatics (each trying to upstage the last). They're foiled however when the last girl through (Ali Larter by the way) lets one rip through her Spy Catsuit as a result of eating fast food. This sets off the audio detection alarm.
- Anne Hathaway's Agent 99 navigated a laser web in the 2008 Get Smart movie. The lack of a Spy Catsuit in this case was more than made up for by the presence of a slinky silver dress with a nice high split up the side. Then Agent Smart navigates it as well, though with a bit less dignity because the lasers also burn.
- I remember seeing one British war movie (forget the name) which had an agent breaking the German naval codes out of a safe guarded by invisible beams (he put on infra-red goggles). Rather ironic when you realise the codes were actually obtained by the less glamorous but methodical method of Ultra cryptography (still classified at the time the movie was made).
- Appears in the 2008 St Trinians movie, which gives us just about every heist movie trope in the space of thirty minutes.
- The... er, heroes... of Ali G Indahouse have to cross a room criss-crossed with lasers. Naturally they can't see the beams, so "Dave, we has to use your special powers." Dave lights up his bong, takes a good strong hit, and blows the smoke out into the room. Once the lasers are visible, they can be avoided — and the best way to do that of course is to dance the Robot the whole way.
- Jack Black navigates his way through a laser hallway in order to reach the Pick of Destiny in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. The lasers themselves are fairly standard; however, this is probably the only example on this page that involves deactivating them with the genitals.
- A strange example in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Not actually laser, rather forcefields that turn on and off at intervals, but achieving the same purpose. They were strong enough to stop a lightsaber, so they'd probably disintegrate anyone stupid enough to step into one, but the characters were all smarter than that.
- An early version of this trope occurs during the robbery that opens The Return of The Pink Panther (1975), with the beams (columns of bright light rather than visible lasers) revealed by an aerosol spray can.
- In a tech-free variant, the bungalow shootout in Near Dark turns the vampires' hideout into a Sunlight Hallway, as bullet holes in the walls allow beams of skin-searing light to penetrate and crisscross the room.
- The Pacifier has a laser-and-pressure-plate hallway that can only be navigated by doing the goofy dance the Disappeared Dad taught his smallest child.
Live Action TV
- Shadowrun. The Neo-Anarchists' Guide to Real Life gives information on this defense system and how to defeat one, including setting up a network of mirrors to create a safe passageway through it.
- Heritage Games' Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier, adventure "The Slaver Ruins". One corridor is protected by Frickin' Laser Beams that will damage anyone they hit as if shot with a laser rifle.
- Beyond Good & Evil loves these. In fact, when you're not avoiding being seen by guards, you're dodging laser beams. Or both, at the same time.
- In the Crusader games, invisible lasers appear every once in a while that trigger all sorts of nasty business if the player walks through them. The emitters, however, are visible, albeit very tiny, and can be blown up.
- Appears in Deus Ex and the sequel Invisible War. Often appears without holes, but it does tell the player to find a solution.
- In the original, red beams trigger alarms (which in turn activate any turrets in the area) while blue beams trigger something else...sometimes trivial sometimes instantly lethal. EMP devices are temporarily effective.
- In the sequel, blue is replaced with white (and only shows up once) while green shows up to trigger gas traps and gold beams are weapons themselves.
The NPC that tells you these useful tips also mentions that the light is holographic to scare away intruders, while the beams are invisible. While some uses of this warning are justified, more than a few times the bad guys would have done better to turn off the holographs. Still, the writers did their homework enough to handwave.
A better use of holographic beams springs easily to mind - put them somewhere other than (though perhaps near) where the invisible operational beams are.
- A "Resident Evil room" (The developers call it that and a poster for it appears a room or so back) appears in The Nameless Mod as part of the labyrinth created by the insane Shadowcode. Interstingly enough, the lasers are triggered only by your body. You don't even need a mirror - just take a box and block the beam creating a safe passway. Huh.
- A large room full of lasers is in Human Revolution.
- Metal Gear Solid 2 has laser hallways rigged to explosives. They actually are invisible unless you use the IR goggles or plain old cigarette smoke. Only one can be crawled through. The rest require you to find and shoot their control systems.
- Lasers also appear in the original Metal Gear Solid and the gameboy version as well. They trigger an alert when broken (or in one case in MGS, flood the area with poison gas).
- Psychonauts has a laser tunnel in the Lungfishopolis level.
- Quake II has many such traps, and in one instance as the Marine attempts the jumping puzzle, guards hidden in alcoves in the walls appear to take shots at him. One in E3-M1 could be circumvented via an alternate route.
- In Quake IV there is a level in which the player comes across a few space marines nearby a laser hallway. The marines point out that the lasers are deadly, as discovered by one of them who foolishly thought he could dance his way through. The player, however, having been mostly stroggified, can pass through without triggering the trap.
- In Resident Evil 4, Leon has to dodge through a laser hallway about halfway through the game — which is actually a nod to the movie. This happens again in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles when Chris and Jill infiltrate an Umbrella base at the end of the game.
- Persona 2: If you mention the Laser Trap in Xibalba first, that's what you'll encounter. You will encounter it later anyway even if you didn't choose it.
- Sly Cooper & the Thievius Raccoonus had tons of these scattered throughout. Initially sensory, they would switch over to weapons-grade lasers if they detected intrusion. They were, in all cases, visible from any angle without any need to apply phlebotinum. A Making Of video in the third game showed beta footage of Sly using a spray can of some sort to use in order to see invisible lasers within a maze.
- Oni is chock full of moving laser bars. Two end bosses are massive cybernetic brains who use a rotating pattern of laser beams against the player. The bosses are inert until the beams are crossed, then they unleash some impressive firepower at the player (who they don't seem to otherwise even see). At several places, there are large obstacles behind which the player can hide to avoid being intercepted by the lasers... and which also hold the terminals to disable the boss. They are situated inside the boss chamber.
- In the adventure game Koala Lumpur: Journey to the Edge, one puzzle involves navigating three laser-beamed hallways. Each one has a distinct pattern (a clue at the entrance of each reveals it). The Fridge Logic nature of this setup is somewhat mitigated by the fact that it's on board a space station in an alternate universe, and that the station is owned by a child genius who might have just been going with the Rule of Cool rather than the best possible security system.
- Unreal II: The Awakening has a hallway with blue killer laser complete with audio cues.
- Robotrek has lasers in an enemy base which activate/deactivate in a pattern. They're invisible unless you're wearing a pair of special goggles. Tripping a beam activates an alarm that brings enemy troops running into the room.
- Mega Man 2 has Quick Man's...pretty much the entire level. Here, though, the laser beams are huge and kill you if you so much as touch them. You will also see them in Mega Man X5 as a shout out.
- I Wanna Be the Guy has a room that pays homage to the Mega Man level.
- Ring Man's level in Rockman 4 Minus Infinity has 2 sections filled with laser beams. Fortunately, they are not one hit kills.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Sonic Adventure 2 had a bunch of these, mostly in vertical passages of shooting levels, but also notably in Security Hall.
- Shadow the Hedgehog had some also, though these were usually just beams and could be defeated by pulling a block out of the wall with the vacuum gun to block the laser. In one case, you have to pull two blocks out, one on each side of the passage you're trying to get through.
- Also appears in a number of levels in Sonic Heroes. The most notable level is Mystic Mansion, where Team Chaotix have to destroy a ring-stealing robot and then hit a switch (which has several lasers touching it, and it's very small) in order to reach the rest of the level. Oddly, the other teams don't have to deal with this room and the one before it, and one of the characters on that team (Espio the Chameleon) can turn invisible...and when he does, most lasers don't hurt him. The only ones that do are in Final Fortress, and they're huge and very different from the small red ones you usually see (they're even different colors, and they fire at you instead of being the classic grid!).
- Amusingly subverted in Fallout 3. The Enclave fortress doesn't have the traditional laser beam corridors, but it does have anti-vermin laser traps under the various passageways. If the player crosses them, a weak flamethrower is ignited. They are utterly ineffective against the player at that point, and not only can they be avoided by simply going fast — the player needn't even bother with them to exit the level.
- Win Back for the N64 has all sorts of horrible death lasers set up everywhere...including among the a.c. vents on the top of the main building. Not really explained how or why they were put there...but funny when the enemy freaks out and runs straight into one. Thankfully they move slowly enough Jean-Luc (yes, really) can somersault past. The blue variants don't kill immediately, but alert enemies or activate other traps.
- Gears of War 2 has a laser hallway with instant-kill flamethrowers. One person must turn them off in sequence (only one can be off at a time) to allow the other to run the gauntlet.
- No One Lives Forever includes a serious of laser hallways, leading up to a completely impassable one...where Cate simply yanks open a floorboard and goes under it.
- The Metroid Prime series features some Morph Ball tunnels with lasers, hallways with eye-like structures that shoot lasers, and in Prime 2, a regular laser hallway (though with not many lasers). Prime 3 has a single corridor wired with invisible lasers, designed to teach the player to use their shiny new X-ray visor to look for traps like this.
- Shows up in Half-Life in two forms (both visible): blue for laser tripmines, and red for turrets. On a notable instance in Half-Life, a missile warehouse is crisscrossed with lasers from tripmines planted everywhere, to the point where tripping one single mine will toss the whole building up in smoke.
- There is actually a laser hallway in Zork III, yet another of the series' numerous anachronisms.
- Space Quest IV has one of these; you have to use cigarette smoke to see the lasers so you can adjust them to let you pass safely.
- The first game had a laser fence that you had to disable by reflecting the beams with a piece of glass.
- Lampshaded in The Sims 2, if the Sim works in the criminal career and steals a diamond protected by a laser field with convenient gaps. The Sim in question is even said to wonder aloud why no one simply uses a solid laser wall.
- The inexplicably explosive lasers in Conkers Bad Fur Day.
- The Art of Theft makes a gameplay mechanic of these lasers.
- Permutations of this pop up in the Ratchet & Clank series.
- The alarm type appears in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines at the end of one level. The visibility can be justified by the player being a vampire with super senses, the fact that they are arranged so that they can be crouched under or jumped over can't.
- The deadly type appears later on. Justified in their impracticality as being specifically designed to test the survival skills of vampires.
- Duke Nukem 3D has the Laser Trip Mine.
- Some hallways in Second Sight are blocked by a laser grid. In order to get past it, you have to use the astral projection power, as your "ghost" can move through these barriers but not through physical objects.
- Perfect Dark had a laser hallway in an early level that could only be circumvented by waiting for a maintenance robot to pass though and temporarily deactivate it. A later level has a huge laser grid surrounding Air Force One that required you to find a way around it.
- In Telltale Games' Hector: Badge of Carnage you break into the backroom of a sex shop only to find one of those in your path. You get through it by flipping the switch located right by the entrance to turn off the lasers. Hector is way too fat to squeeze through the gaps in the laser grid.
- Mission: Impossible 64 has you descend through a laser grid to reach a computer terminal, just like in the first movie.
- P.N.03 has a number of standard laser hallways, as well as Wave Motion Gun-caliber death beams.
- The City of Heroes "Casino Heist" Summer Event mission, being based on the tropes of The Caper, has one of these.
- A few instances in Penumbra appear in some varied forms.
- Black Plague features explosive packs wired to lasers that trip if the player walks through. They can be disabled by a small puzzle or switches.
- Requiem is more of a hallucinatory type. Malfunctioning blue lasers in one area, while harmless to Philip, cause the ball required in a puzzle to teleport back to the start. And later is a ring of red lasers that disintegrate anything on contact - it's even resistant to any object held towards it.
- As a potential shoutout to Quick Man's stage, Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures has timed instant-death rays in the "Future Fuckballs 2010" and "Laughin' Jokin' Numbnuts" stages.
- Orokin towers in Warframe have the weaponized variety in spades, ranging from stationary to rotating to vertially/horizontally sliding. These energy beams will murder anything that stands in them for more than half a second or so. Fortunately, the emitters can generally be destroyed from a distance. The towers often contain challenge rooms that combine lasers with timed doors and motion-slowing patches on the floor; Parkour skills are required to reach the end in time and collect the rare equipment contained within.
- Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror has laser trip mines whose beams are invisible except with the infrared or EDSU goggles.
- The Strong Bad Email Bike Thief features a laser hallway that's more of a Laser Couch.
- Appeared in a lonelygirl15 video, of all places; in "Mission Possible", Danielbeast has to navigate one of these.
It was pretty offensive they would invoke at least 4 of the worst tropes in fiction in what is supposed to be a convention-smashing ground-breaking series, including Everything Is Online and Pac-Man Fever, which you would assume would be eradicated in early drafts when your target audience — to the point that people far enough outside it are unable to even gain access to view your show — is Internet-savvy computer geniuses.
- Lampshaded in Freemans Mind while trying to navigate a room with tripmines placed on possibly every available surface, right near a couple of missiles already stored in the room. He also is confused as to why all lasers are visible in Black Mesa.
- In the DuckTales episode "Dime Enough for Luck", Magica De Spell tricks Gladstone Gander into stealing Scrooge's Number One Dime. The dime is guarded by an impressive set of moving lasers that he bypasses because he has unusually good luck.
- In the first episode of the '90s X-Men series, the beams are detected by smelling ozone, revealed by super-summoned fog, and shut down by scaling overhanging pipes to reach the control panel.
- In X-Men: Evolution, Iceman uses an ice bridge to pass the beams along the floor, and when bragging to Shadowcat, he's spinning the keys (to disable the security system) on his finger. They fly off, fall through a beam, and trigger the alarm. The look on Iceman's face is priceless.
- These show up all the time in Kim Possible.
- Drakken even has a laser snow field around one of his lairs.
- The best one is from "A Sitch In Time", where the entire room is filled with deadly laser beams, and Kim gets her first job: using her cheerleading and gymnastics moves to dive through all the beams and turn it off. She was looking for jobs like babysitting.
- The early Kids' WB toon Road Rovers did a variant on this in an ep titled Hunter's Heroes, replete with mirror deflection. (The website linked from this entry also acknowledges the difficulty on this page [see "Deflector"].)
- Batman: The Animated Series
- In her first appearance, Catwoman uses a clever way of getting past such a hallway (actually, a room) to steal a diamond necklace; she uses her housecat Isis - who can see the infrared beams and, thus, can steer around them with her sleek body - to get the jewelry for her.
- Harley Quinn simply jumps around the beams when she goes to steal a diamond. Works fine, but then Ivy activates the alarm during her own robbery from another wing of the facility.
- In The Spectacular Spider-Man one of these appears, somewhat peculiarly, in the genetics labs at Empire State University, to deter theft of the "ooze." This doesn't stop the Black Cat from trying, however.
- In the Wallace & Gromit short The Wrong Trousers, Feather McGraw's plan for bypassing the lasers protecting a diamond is by having a sleeping Wallace, strapped to remote-controlled Techno-Trousers, walk on the ceiling, then using a retractable arm on Wallace's helmet to snatch the gem. It almost works, until the arm swings over and the diamond hits one of the lasers, activating the alarm.
- DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp featured Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby having to go through one of these in Scrooge's office building. One difference from other example: those lasers are lethal.
- In Code Lyoko, Yumi encounters once a laser hallway of the deadly variety in Sector 5. Good thing she's the most acrobatic of the team.
- The closing credits of C.O.P.S. had Nightshade navigating one wearing special goggles in order to see the lasers.
- In Transformers Animated, it isn't so much a hallway, but the Autobot's base is filled with motion sensors. In "Home Is Where The Spark Is", they sense movements and grab the Autobots.
- Parodied in a Dexter's Laboratory episode where Dexter just walks under the lasers (in a library, close to the devolution box!) since he's really short.
- Used and mocked in The Venture Bros. when Doctor Girlfriend and Henchmen 21 try to go to the Monarch after Dr. Killenger becomes his new right hand man. A hallway has laser tripwires, and Doctor Girlfriend nimbly flips and weaves through them all. Henchmen 21 tries, and just trips into a lot of them from the start setting off an alarm (nothing deadly, just sirens). Doctor Girlfriend then just opens a secret hallway to where the Monarch is and leaves 21 behind.
- Used in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toon, where April, Casey and Splinter are forced to traverse one of these in order to rescue the turtles in an early season 3 episode. While it proves easy enough for Splinter and April (who in this episode reveals that she has taken a level in badass) it proves quite difficult to the graceless Casey.
- This has been seen at least twice on The Backyardigans.
- Doctor Doofenschmirtz installs an "anti-platypus security" system in one episode of Phineas and Ferb that includes a laser hallway, among other traps. Naturally, Perry manages to avoid every trap easily.
- Trevor Goodchild uses one on Ćon Flux in the first episode of the TV series. It's suggested he knows the problems with this setup, he just likes to watch the gymnastics she does to get out of it.
- Robin and Red X both overcome a tangle of lasers that are protecting a Xenothium vault when Robin goes after whoever was in the Red X suit in Teen Titans.
- The episode "Double Date" from Justice League Unlimited sees Huntress use an aerosol spray to reveal lasers in Mandragora's home. She simply vaults and flips through them.
- Parodied in an episode of Ozzy and Drix. Drix and Maria encounter a laser hallway blocking the entrance to "The Fear Center". Drix gets through it by squeezing between every laser as carefully yet clumsily he can. After he's done, Maria, who is a cop, simply pulls out her ID card and deactivates the lasers.
- On Uncle Grandpa, Uncle Grandpa and company end up accidently breaking into a bank vault scattered with lasers while looking for a treasure. They end thinking it's a dance rave.
- In the SWAT Kats episode The Dark Side of the SWAT Kats, our heroes (and their Evil Counterparts) have to jump through one of these to break into Pumadyne Weapons Lab.
- There's a "laser maze" game at the Excaliber casino's arcade in Las Vegas.
- The British Museum uses a "beam system" to protect some of its exhibits. However, given that they're not protected in any other way, nobody bats an eyelid when someone sets off the alarm (since it can be easily done innocently by someone who's leaning in to get a closer look), and the "beam system" gets a sign to itself... it's probably not there because it's effective.