The creators of a show or movie really want to demonstrate that we are in a highly advanced future setting. This usually involves some futuristic furniture, holographic displays and, surprisingly often, really weird door
Doors and hatches tend to be pretty boring objects in Real Life
. They are usually rectangular, flat and have only one or two moving parts, mostly because this is the most simple and efficient design.
In the minds of many set designers, future doors are different. This may include:
- Automated: Manually opened doors are near-extinct in the future. Even the most rarely used storage room will have an automated door, or at least a door that opens as soon as you press a button.
- Noisy: Sound effects are mandatory (swooshes and beeps are popular).
- Lots and lots of parts: Highly complex designs with many interlocking and overlapping parts for no apparent reason.
- No right angles: Non-rectangular shapes (especially hexagons) and protruding parts that use a lot of space and reduce clearance. Bonus points for huge and intricate locking mechanisms.
- Converging from all directions: Door panels coming not only from left and right but also from above and below. Uses even more space. Less common in Live-Action TV because it is expensive to build on a set. A typical example is the "iris door".
Note that while the first two traits are justifiable
in most cases, the others are often a consequence of Rule of Cool
, with essentially no advantage over simpler designs.
This trope is mainly intended for high-tech door designs that are needlessly complicated and impractical. It usually does not apply when magic is involved, after all, wizards can do anything
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- Galaxy Angel has several including two-tone double doors that split diagonally along different axes.
- ElfQuest has a variation: the exterior "door" to Blue Mountain is solid rock until the elf named Door is commanded to make an opening in it telekinetically.
- All facilities in the multi-fandom Game Over series have metal doors that part down the middle and slide open and shut with a hydralic hiss. However, they are rectangular at least.
- Averted, in contrast to the game, in Mass Effect Interregnum - regular hinged doors are mentioned several times. Being set mostly in run down and poor areas, however, this is justified.
- Star Wars: Not only are they different from reality, it's rare to see two similar doors in a whole darn movie. The Empire seem to be fond of doors that close vertically and swiftly, evoking a guillotine.
- The most standard Star Wars door appears to be the Imperial blast door, which appears with little change even in the pre-Imperial era: the guillotine-like device that slides up and down, resulting in a diamond-shaped passage.
- Spoofed in the second Airplane! movie, where the doors were voice activated and made a sound when the command to activate them was given. So you had William Shatner making the Star Trek door sound and the door making its own variation as it obligingly opens.
- Forbidden Planet: The doors left by the Krell had two of these traits, "no right angles" (a flattened pentagon) and "converging from all directions".
- In Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (once featured on MST3K), the Martians doors opened by pointing at them.
- Lampshaded in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. A pair of aliens encounter a normal door and begin to panic when it doesn't open by itself.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Doors manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation are programmed to love their simple lives; they love nothing more than to open and close for passing users, and thank them profusely for so emphatically validating their existence.
- Neverwhere. Door's family can open, well, anything. Their house is really freaky.
- The Gringotts door in Harry Potter is an example of the doors being different in a fantasy, rather than SF, setting. So many parts move when the goblin unlocks it, that it's pretty much a door whose entire surface is its lock mechanism.
- The many, many locks are justified in this case, as Gringotts is supposed to be one of the safest and most secure places in the world. It's only right for such a place to practically hold a world record in how many locks, physical and magical, its vault doors have.
- Hobbit doors are round in Lord of the Rings.
- The Neverending Story Appropriately, in the Temple of a Thousand Doors. Doors were described as extremely thin, thick, gingerbread, buttoned, caves, shaped like an ear, mouth, etc.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: Used mildly on Federation vessels. The doors are automated and come with a trademarked sound, but are otherwise normal (except for knowing when they're needed). Played straight with Deep Space Nine, with lots of weirdly shaped doors. The creators went overboard with the automated doors. Almost every alien society has them, no matter what their technological level or whether there's actually an energy source available to power them. It should be noted that reality still writes the plot, as not a single door goes down into the floor, since the soundstage floor can't really be altered.
- Babylon 5:
- Many doors on the station (mostly to living quarters) are automatic, pentagon-ish and hinged at the top to rotate out of the way. The Observation Dome and Medlab doors slide horizontal to Centrifugal Gravity (though for whatever reason, the seal between Medlab doors is diagonal to this). However it is subverted on Earth where they have perfectly ordinary wooden hinged doors in most buildings. It would appear that the station needs doors that can be sealed in the event of a hull breach, which is not a problem on Earth.
- On Z'ha'dum, the automatic doors opened with the standard door noise. The shadows tried sneaking up on Sheridan by using a quiet door, but Sheridan wasn't caught off guard.
- SeaQuest DSV: Played very straight, with lots of different doors and hatches. Going red alert on the SeaQuest includes closing all kinds of hatches, so they show this off a lot.
- Parodied in the Get Smart underground headquarters, with the veritable gauntlet of doors, hatches, etc. The already-bumbling main character has to go through them to get to work; Hilarity Ensues.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: The scene right before the movie starts shows a hallway with various different kinds of doors.
- Doctor Who:
- In every season bar one of the classic series, the inner doors of the TARDIS are massive and power-operated, with hexagonal edges on the hinge side.
- In "The War Games", the aliens' security chief has a door of the 'converging from all directions' design. The top part is deliberately made to resemble a guillotine blade. The aliens' space/time machines also have noisy powered doors, and it's strongly implied that the same is true of TARDISes in their default form.
- The X-Naut fortress in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. It's on the moon. The doors require passwords and keys, and make a "swish" sound upon opening.
- Fallout 3 has overcomplicated doors everywhere, a standard secure door folds up sideways and then the middle part sinks into the floor. Then there's the Vault doors, which light up and having a warning klaxon and spin when the open button is pressed.
- Mass Effect and its sequels love their bizarre, six or more segment doors.
- In Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, the doors on General Skun-ka'pe's ship slide Ina different direction every time they open or close. For example, the first time, a door will slide to the right to open and then come up from the bottom to close. The next time, the door could open by sliding up and close from the left. Apparently, his ship, like everything in the game, runs on the Rule of Funny.
- Doors in Batman: Arkham Asylum are massive steel slabs with body scanners and several locks and slide open either very fast or incredibly slow. Justified since they are designed to keep the worst psychopaths from escaping the asylum, but it's not like they actually work.
- Space Pirate Doors in Metroid are opened by firing energy weapons at them, are circular, and come in many, many component parts that open separately. Weirdly, they're unlocked with weapons the space pirates do not possess. Galactic federation doors, to confuse players, are simple automated doors.
- The Metroid Prime games explain shoot-to-open doors as Samus' weapon deactivating a force field intended to keep critters out.
- Futurama parodies this, and even has the "swoosh" sound from Star Trek, as well as Fry pointing out that it's just like Star Trek. The doors to the bridge of the Planet Express ship from Futurama even work differently each time they're shown.
- Some doors even have two sound effects. A sound effect that you would normally expect from that type of door, and the Star Trek sound effect.
- The Simpsons episode "Hurricane Neddy": When Ned's house gets destroyed by a tornado and the town rebuilds it there are several oddly shaped doors because the townsfolk who rebuilt his house don't actually know anything about building houses.
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command has just about every type of high-tech door/hatch you could think of, plus the occasional doorknob.
- Truth in Television: In his book The Design of Everyday Things, Cognitive Scientist Don Norman describes the ways in which architects and designers invariably create fancy doors that are hard to operate, typically because it is not obvious which side is hinged, or whether they open inward or outward. In an updated edition, he notes that people have started telling him stories of "Norman doors."