The door opens into warm darkness. The air is filled with smoke, its bitter-sweet scent undercut by a faint stink of sweat and bile. An attendant scurries toward you, seemingly out of nowhere, bearing a pipe and a pill of opium.

You settle into the lower level of a two-tiered bunk much like a train sleeping compartment. Declining to close the curtain -- that is for those already drugged to either stupefaction or hypersensitivity -- you cast your eyes about the room as the first breaths of hot vapor connect with your lungs. Around you are men and women of every conceivable race and class, some silent in contemplation of their private fantasies, others talking to or amongst themselves in strange accents and hushed tones. They coexist in a peaceful single-mindedness that would be the envy of church or state.

This is not a luxurious place, not a picture-postcard place in red and gilt. The wooden walls know neither paint nor plaster; the floor is grimy; the air is close. But to the habitué, it is paradise.

The image of the opium den is often romanticized, probably because few such places still exist. The media are more realistic in portraying other places where drug users gather to get high, such as "shooting galleries" (where addicts gather to inject drugs, usually heroin) and crack houses.

Opium use was known as "kicking the gong (around)", thus explaining the use of that phrase in many jazz songs.

Historically associated with Chinese culture, but not all are from that area. Limehouse, in LondonTown, was [[http://eastlondonhistory.com/chinatown-in-limehouse/ not actually that bad at all]] (the actual reason for the prevalence of this trope is, to cut a long story short, that in the 1800s the British virtually got everyone in China hooked on opium because [[SpotOfTea the Chinese had a lot of stuff]] the [[UsefulNotes/TeaAndTeaCulture British wanted to buy]], but the British had nearly nothing the Chinese wanted).

Not to be confused with Opus Dei.

See also FriendlyLocalChinatown and YellowPeril.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* [[BewareTheSillyOnes Lau]] runs one of these in ''Manga/BlackButler''. The audience and Ciel enter it briefly at the beginning of, predictably, the opium arc.
* Granny Hao, Minnie May's old associate and underworld contact runs one of these off screen in ''Manga/GunsmithCats''. She also provides all sorts of highly effective Chinese herb remedies as a side business, that rival synthetic drugs in their effectiveness.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In the beginning of ''TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'' comic, Alan Quatermain is in an opium den.
** Towards the end he has to enter another one, and nearly relapses.
* The Blue Lotus in the ''{{Tintin}}'' book of the same name. This being a more upmarket, well-painted example, frequented by businessmen and diplomats.
* The least romanticized version possible appears in ''Comicbook/YTheLastMan'' as [[spoiler:virtually the entire continent of Australia.]]
* PeterDavid's ''Comicbook/FallenAngel'' has an arc where Lee smokes opium in a hookah in Asia Minor's place.

* In ''Film/DodgeballATrueUnderdogStory'', the {{mockumentary}} on how to play dodgeball claims that the game was invented in Chinese Opium Dens.
* Williams from ''Film/EnterTheDragon'' met his end in one of these at the hands of Mr. Han.
* The ''Film/DoctorMabuse'' films feature a few ones. The titular Doctor finds his victims there, among corrupt millionaires and aristocrats.
* ''Film/OnceUponATimeInAmerica''.
* In ''Film/{{Brick}}'', the area behind Carrow's Restaurant where Dode and the other stoners hang out is intended to reference this, as evidenced by the Asian-sounding musical cues.
* Both the graphic novel and film versions of Creator/AlanMoore's ''Film/FromHell''.
* ''Film/ThoroughlyModernMillie'' has one of these that doubles as a prostitution/white slaving ring.
* Harvey Keitel's eponymous (and [[NoNameGiven nameless]]) ''Film/BadLieutenant'' visits a latter-day heroin den that otherwise fits the trope.
* In ''Film/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'', Anthony passes by one while traveling through London.
* The Oscar-winning French film ''Indochine'': The protagonist is an addict who introduces her younger lover to them (even though he's supposed to be police its traffic). He drags her out of a den at one point.
* Eddie visits one toward the end of 1935's ''The Cocaine Fiends''.
* In ''Film/{{Tombstone}}'', Curly Bill comes out of an opium den just before he shoot Marshall White. Later a character picks up an opium pipe in a den that instead turns out to be Wyatt Earp's peacemaker, with Wyatt Earp still attached to it.
* In ''Film/{{Inception}}'', the dream-den beneath Yusuf's shop seems intended to evoke this.
* D.W. Griffith's tragedy ''Film/BrokenBlossoms'' takes place in Limehouse. The Chinese hero, a Buddhist missionary, falls on hard times and takes to the pipe.

* One shows up in the Literature/SherlockHolmes story "The Man with the Twisted Lip". [[TheWatson Watson]] got sent to retrieve another man and finds Holmes there; Holmes must reassure Watson that he's only there undercover as part of an investigation and has not "added opium to the list of my vices".
* Creator/CharlesDickens' ''Literature/TheMysteryOfEdwinDrood'' begins in one.
* Appears in at least one of the ''Franchise/FuManchu'' stories as a front for the Devil Doctor's activities.
* Creator/RobertEHoward 's Rhomerian "weird menace" novel ''Skull Face'' starts with protagonist Steven Costigan (a u.s. veteran of WWI) escaping the nightmares of the Argonne trench warfare in an Opium Den located, of all places, in London's Limehouse.
* Jack Black's (not ''[[NamesTheSame that]]'' Creator/JackBlack) ''You Can't Win'' is a ''brilliant'' memoir about his experiences as a train-hopping thief. He becomes addicted to opium and writes extensively about his experiences in these places.
* In ''Literature/AroundTheWorldInEightyDays'' by Creator/JulesVerne, the detective Fix gets Passepartout drunk and stoned in an opium den in HongKong in order to separate him from Phileas Fogg.
* Creator/RudyardKipling's "The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows".
* The title character in ''Literature/ThePictureOfDorianGray'' frequents opium dens.
* Opium dens are depicted in all their squalor in Creator/MercedesLackey's ''[[Literature/ElementalMasters The Fire Rose]]'', which is set in California during the age of trains.
* Creator/AgathaChristie's "The Lost Mine" on "Poirot's early cases" features one.
* In the Literature/SallyLockhart novel ''The Ruby in the Smoke'', Sally goes to an opium den to buy some opium for Mattthew.
* Darius goes to one regularly in ''Literature/ThePhantomOfManhattan''.
* An illegal opium den is depicted in the comic novel ''The Fairy Gunmother'' (original title: ''La fée carabine'') by French author Daniel Pennac. It appears in a flashback set in the 1950's in Paris and is frequented by war veterans and [[spoiler: high-ranking government officials]]


[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': "The Talons of Weng-Chiang".
* The Granada adaptation of "[[SherlockHolmes The Dying Detective]]" (though ''not'' the original story).
* ''Series/{{Highlander}}: The Series'': A good friend of Duncan Macleod's spent the better part of an Old West {{Flashback}} in one of these, trying to deaden the panic he'd felt about his role in the neverending Game. He eventually moved on to other drugs as the decades passed, and was a cocaine addict when Duncan was forced to MercyKill him.
* One appears in an episode of ''Series/MagnumPI'', in the 1980s(!)
* The "dive" that Sister Clarice frequents (and invites Amanda Greystone to) in ''Series/{{Caprica}}'' is fairly obviously a Fantastic Opium Den.
* Chuck Bass (who else?) takes refuge at one of these when his father dies, on ''Series/GossipGirl''.
* In the second season of ''Series/TheBorgias'', Juan Borgia starts to frequent an opium den in Rome on the advice of his physician to cope with a leg wound and an STD. The drugs only seem to heighten his paranoia and mental breakdown.
* In the series "The Knick" a Chinatown opium den is a favorite haunt of Dr. Thackery.

[[folder:Radio ]]
* Pip sinks into dissolution and decay in ''Radio/BleakExpectations'' and ends up in an opium den, thinking it's a Chinese restaurant. "Would you like some complimentary prawn crack?"

* Many a Music/CabCalloway song takes place in or refers to an OpiumDen, in which Minnie the Moocher and Smokey Joe 'kick the gong around'.
* Men At Work's ''LandDownUnder'' has one of these.
-->Lying in a den in Bombay
-->With a slack jaw, and not much to say

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The Meat King's Party mission from ''VideoGame/HitmanContracts'' features an opium den where you can pose as an attendant and serve one of your targets an opium pipe before taking him out.
* The Copper Coronet in ''[[VideoGame/BaldursGate Baldur's Gate II]]'' features a hidden black lotus den (at least, it does before you clean the place out).
* ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'' has a Skooma Den. Sweet, sweet Skooma!
** ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' Dawnguard Expansion has the Redwater Den. Yet another Skooma Den, though this one is pure evil. DO NOT buy the House Skooma. Even better, if you buy it don't drink it. It's drugged in which the hosts take the unconscious victims to a jail cell in the basement to be turned into Vampire Thralls.
* Wizardry 7 has one, and your characters ''get to participate''. If you do, your characters get visited by some kind of SpiritAdvisor who gives you a really powerful item.
* [[{{Wutai}} Kyo]] has one in ''VideoGame/SagaFrontier''. [[spoiler:Black X runs its drug operations out of it.]]
* You visit one in ''VideoGame/TheTestamentOfSherlockHolmes''.
* In the now LostForever Playdom interactive game ''Blackwood and Bell Mysteries'', when the group goes to Hong kong they have to search for clues in one of these.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' Halloween episode set in [[UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper Ripperian]] [[VictorianLondon London]] features one as the lair of Monty Burns.

[[ChooseYourOwnAdventure Do you:]]
* Talk to [[Literature/SherlockHolmes the client in the Deerstalker]] (Turn to page 23)
* Attack the cushions with your sword (Turn to page 45)
* Proposition the attendant (Turn to page [[RuleThirtyFour 34]])