Yep. We're boned.
Apparently, multiplying the number of TV screens multiplies the oppressive factor of whatever scene they're in.
If there's Orwellian surveillance at work, the cameras will feed to a room carpeted from ceiling to floor by screens. Hard to keep track of? Bah! It's ominous. If the Evil Overlord
is hijacking the airwaves for a broadcast, we will see it played in Times Square
or some decent approximation
, or he's hardly an Evil Overlord
at all. If the computer system is maimed, chances are the owners will have conveniently filled their headquarters with screens, just so that they know how screwed they are.
Perhaps we're just that fond of variety in television.
Compare Do Not Adjust Your Set
where the villain uses everyone else's screens. Also compare The Big Board
, which is just one gigundous screen.
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Anime and Manga
- The Obsidian Shrine in Mai-HiME has a bunch of monitors attached to a central console.
- In Digimon Adventure 02, Ken's fortress had a dozen or so screens posed at different angles in front of his chair. Often, they were all showing the same thing from different angles.
- Played with in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Inside of Thymilph's Ganmen, he has multiple monitors. One of them is a close-up of Yoko's breasts.
- A number of the bounties in Cowboy Bebop aren't confronted directly by Spike, he only manages to find a trap room full of TVs. And, the fool that he is, he ends up usually succumbing to some kind of ultrasound incapacitating thing that makes anybody who enters the room collapse within a minute (not before he gets a Monologue to the face first). (Somebody else ends up taking care of the bad guy when this happens).
- The Gag Series Negima!? uses this often.
- Chrono Crusade: In the manga, Aion kills Pandaemonium, who then searches for another host. He believes there's nobody left to host her, but several large screens pop up along the walls of the room they're in to show who she plans to take over next—Rosette Christopher.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS: The TSAB Headquarters has multiple screens; however, the only time they're seen is when Quattro is using her Silver Curtain illusion ability to bring them all offline.
- Gendo Ikari in Neon Genesis Evangelion uses a lot of screens that mostly show the same picture (note especially the first episode). Actually, NERV in general seems to be outfitted with these redundant displays all over the place. Heck, they aren't even the villains; they just like feeling oppressive.
- Death Note. You don't get much more ominous than every screen in the Hacker Cave informing you that your systems have been completely wiped.
- In The World God Only Knows, Keima's Gaming Room has at least six wide-inch screens, and countless other TV sets of various sizes. All for satisfying his obsession with Dating Sims.
- Mekakucity Actors: When Hibiya uses his powers to find the Big Bad's lair, the first thing he notes is "a wall of TV screens". They're implied to represent the multiple time loops experienced by the cast.
- The Matrix Reloaded: The Architect's chamber is filled wall-to-wall with screens, showing Neo. The implication is they are other Ones from earlier instances of the Matrix. It was also used for surveillance so he could see anywhere in the Matrix at any given time, be it past or near future, which actually made sense. Often the screens would work together to form a bigger image.
- This is foreshadowed in the first film in the scene where the Agents interrogate Neo; the view shows multiple screens showing Neo in the interrogation room, then zooms in on one screen which becomes the actual scene itself as the Agents walk in. This effect is used and reversed multiple times in the Neo/Architect sequence.
- Scary Movie 4: The Architect is parodied by George Carlin — He has cameras in Cindy's house - including her bathroom - on the wall of screens in his lighthouse.
- Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies has a room like this — fitting for a villain who's a media baron.
- The Witches of Eastwick: Darryl Van Horn has a bank of TV screens, apparently just for the hell of it. One woman isn't enough for him, why should he settle for one screen?
- Serenity: Mr.Universe's control room. Although the number of screens is toned down and really just to show how random Mr.Universe is.
- A comedic version occurs in Back To The Future Part II. In the 2015 segment, Marty's son comes home from school and watches a half dozen TV channels at one time.
- Babylon A.D.. In the apartment in New York there was a setting that showed what was likely hundreds of channels at once. Though that seemed to simply be a menu setting, as it was possible to single one out.
- Hot Fuzz. The head of the Neighbourhood Watch Association has an office (in the police station) with multiple monitors from CCTV cameras all over the village.
- WarGames has the terrifying climax of JOSHUA 'playing' thermonuclear war over and over again on multiple screens, just to ram home how utterly screwed the human race is if he ever actually launches the nukes.
- Jesus Christ Superstar (2000): There is this in Caiaphas' room. Well, the room and the priests themselves are ominous enough even without the screens.
- The Man Who Fell to Earth: Thomas Jerome Newton, being an Alien Among Us, can tell what is going on in the wider scheme of things by watching many televisions. In fact, these screens only become ominous as they distract him from paying attention to those around him, and the many streams of information overwhelm him at least once.
- The control room of the Facility in The Cabin in the Woods. Becomes Nightmare Fuel when the monsters get loose, and the individual screens show people dying in horribly varied ways.
- There's one set up at the Nuclear Disarmament Summit from G.I. Joe: Retaliation
- How the Shredder is introduced in the 1990 live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.
- Gormenghast: Villain Steerpike has a hidden chamber where he watches all comings and goings in the castle — except instead of TV screens, it's all down through hidden mirrors and periscopes.
- In Hell To Pay, Jeremiah Griffon has a wall of TV screens in his conference room, playing non-stop world news and financial reports. Probably a Shout-Out to Ozymandius, except that Jeremiah admits they're mostly for effect: he's a centuries-old immortal and nothing on the news is likely to surprise him, but the display intimidates potential business rivals by making him appear brilliant and informed.
- The second book in the Alosha series, Shaktra, is a fantasy example of this, with a group of hive-minded alien races attempting to recruit the Earth races via the Internet. Eerily glowing screens ensue, used to intense atmospheric effect.
- In The Gap Sequence, Holt Fasner's mother Norna is a bed-ridden invalid who spends all day watching Every.Single.News.Channel from human space and collating all the information therein. Her near-omniscience is one of the secrets of her son's immense power.
Live Action Television
- Dollhouse either plays this straight or shows us a mind in a weird way when Victor joins Mindlink.
- A non-ominous example: the Muppet control room on The Jim Henson Hour consisted of hundreds and hundreds of TV screens. This made sense, as the idea was that Kermit the Frog assembled the show by tuning into every television feed in the universe and picking the best stuff. This being the Muppets, characters could also get flung out of screens and into the control room itself.
- V (2009): Maggie gets past the Visitors' lower-tech for-show surveillance room and into their real one. Lotsa screens.
- Battlestar Galactica: Some rooms in Cylon Baseships are covered in screens or have rows of screens in them (best visible in the climax of Guess What's Coming to Dinner). In what may be a subversion, they don't actually show anything comprehensible. Just more of the pseudo-Chinese Cylon glyph language that is already projected everywhere.
- In the second season of the horror anthology The Hunger, narrator Julian Priest, a Mad Artist who inhabits an old prison, can monitor the comings and goings of others in his domain via the security system with its many television monitors. Some of the opening and closing sequences feature him using the screens to illustrate his points. It's worth nothing that Julian is played by David Bowie, whose first major dramatic role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth (see Film above), so this might be an Actor Allusion.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "The I in Team" a scene of Buffy and Riley making love moves to one of Professor Walsh watching them on a bank of screens. Becomes a Crowning Moment Of Awesome at the end of the episode when Buffy uses those same screens to threaten Walsh after The Uriah Gambit fails to kill her.
- In the second season of Continuum, Escher has one of these walls full of screens. He uses it to keep an eye on everything via the city's many surveillance cameras.
- In both the book and the TV series of H2G2, when the Vogon Constructor Fleet arrives to announce to the people of Earth that their planet is, regrettably, scheduled for demolition, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz hijacks every TV set, radio, telephone, computer screen, et c, to relay the message.
- When Sky Television began broadcasting to Britain in 1989 they set up some advertising displays with multiple screens in public places. What they apparently forgot was that Sky receivers could only receive one channel at a time, so all the screens had to show the same thing.
- Some cable company headquarters have a giant wall of monitors showing every channel they provide. This is so that when someone calls in who's having trouble with their service, the employee can just look up and instantly see what's supposed to be on the channel they're talking about.
- The control room of Minatur Wunderland, a large model railroad in Hamburg, has a control room with about a hundred screens for five operators.
- It's been said that President Lyndon Johnson has a special TV with three screens made so that he could watch all of the major news networks at once. It only played the sound from one screen at a time, though.
- His contemporary, Elvis Presley, just bought three ordinary televisions and sat them next to each other.
- Television master control rooms contain a bunch of video monitors that show multiple cameras/feeds.
- BP released a poorly photoshopped image of their control room during the Deepwater Horizon blowout.
- Network Operations Centers, whether for large telecoms or datacenters, are the ultimate expression of this concept. Most have dozens, and possibly over a hundred, different large screens plastered over every single inch wall space, with desks having dozens more. They show everything from individual machine consoles to network traffic flow, call volumes and destinations, potential intrusion alerts, power issues, HVAC status, to trending of any of a hundred different metrics. Small NOCs will have less than a dozen people in them; large ones up to a hundred.
- Traffic control centers for major metropolitan areas are this, combined with The Big Board. They will have one or two very large screens (often floor-to-ceiling or close to it) showing the entire region's traffic flow, then dozens of other wall-mounted screens displaying individual traffic cameras and smaller neighborhood details.
- Exalted: The central control room of the Realm Defense Grid. Supposedly the system can look at anywhere in Creation, and in the Infernal splatbook, the use of Blasphemy charmsnote is guaranteed to make the user appear in their screen.
- The 2013 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has a humorous version in the Department of the Future, which has five screens set up for the Chocolate Television demonstration. When Mike Teavee zaps himself into Cyberspace via the transporter, he not only appears on different screens, but manages to jump from one to another at will as the others try to find a way to get him out.
- Kingdom Hearts II: The Dark City has one landmark that stands out: a tall building topped with a cluster of warped television screens of various sizes. Strangely, nothing is actually displayed on the screens at any time, and the building itself is only important because some important scenes just happen to occur around it. Additionally, DIZ has computers that control the virtual Twilight Town. Roxas seems to enjoy destroying those.
- Chrono Trigger: The Mother Brain boss fights with three screens that heal her every round. You can actually target them and take them out, but it makes her go berserk and nearly impossible to defeat. The trick is to leave one screen alone and kill the other two, which reduces the healing but leaves her beatable.
- Deus Ex: The Conspiracy uses this in its intro sequence. The Villains stand in front of a wall covered in monitors showing news broadcasts and scenes from the old PC intro. In the end they all synchronize into a big screen showing the hand grasping Earth.
- Players in City of Heroes can purchase monitor banks◊ and mega monitors◊ for their hero/villain lairs.
- SaGa Frontier: Genocide Heart, the last boss of T260G's quest, is a supercomputer who fights in a room full of display screens. These screens act as its Life Meter: as it is damaged, more screens fizzle out and show static.
- During Red's quest, you fight a boss in front of a bank of screens displaying an Idol Singer (who is actually a Black X operative). The screens change what they display each round, and the party is hit with different effects depending what's on the screens.
- Phantasy Star Online: During the first phase of the Vol Opt (or its Ultimate mode evolution, Vol opt ver.2) Boss battle, the supercomputer's visage is displayed on, and moves between, the multiple monitors encircling the chamber while he throws various electrical attacks at the player characters. While his face is visible on screen, attacks against the monitors break them and deal damage to him. By the end of the phase, all the screens are broken, either through damage or the explosions that occur after defeating him.
- Half-Life 2: Quite common for the Combine. Unfortunately, since the engine can only render from one camera at a time, they always end up showing the same thing. They all show the same thing, but by God are they determined to show whatever the hell it is. The standard monitor is made up of three screens! And then there's the consoles themselves to consider... Of course, once you hit The Citadel, they crank it up to 11.
- No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle has Travis smash his way into Jasper Batt Jr.'s office at the end. If you look, you will see many screens on some of the walls, and close inspection of some of them show that Jasper has been keeping an eye on you, Henry and just about everyone else!
- Shows up in the endgame of Fallout: New Vegas, specifically if you side with House or become the Wild Card. After installing the override chip in Hoover Dam, all the computer screens with have either House or Yes Man's image upon them.
- One of the early puzzles in Strange Cases 4: The Faces of Vengeance involves clicking on a wall of TV screens until they're all showing part of the same creepy picture.
- In The Stanley Parable, there is a large room with screens on the surrounding walls, monitoring Stanley's co-workers (if they were around).
- Sluggy Freelance: Hereti-Corp holds its shadow-faced meetings in one, often lampshaded, e.g. "Why is this room so dark and ominous when there are so many bright glowing screens?"
- In an episode of the X-Men animated series, Mojo comes to take the heroes to his dimension by appearing in multiple TV screens while Scott and Jean are at the mall. Eventually, his assistant Spiral would go from the same image on all screens to one life-sized image spread across them... and step out into reality.
- Averted in Inspector Gadget - although Doctor Claw is the kind of villain to sit in his lair and say sinister things while watching his minions by video, making him perfect for this trope, he pointedly has just one screen.
- Robot Chicken: Parodied in the end of the title sequence. The titular chicken is strapped down in front of a wall of TVs showing various sketches from the show. One of the TVs is snowed out; it gets zoomed into and displays the last couple credits. It's implied you see the point of view of the chicken, and all the random crap during the show is the chicken looking from screen to screen.