A very standardized visual comedy sequence. A static shot down a hallway lined with doors, like a hotel or mansion corridor, comes up in the middle of the chase scene. The chaser and one or more groups of chasees enter a door. Then they emerge from a different door. Or opposite doors.
There are a few different gags used for the climax:
The characters being chased start doing the chasing.
The characters appear more than once in the same frame.
Another character appears: they will either be questioned and then disappear from the plot for good, have this as their debut scene, or get more involved in the plot if they have appeared before.
A Running Gag, literally and figuratively, this one is unique for one reason; every instance of the trope subverts itself by the time the scene is over. Thus, this trope was discredited as soon as it was created, yet still good for a laugh.
Usually animated, but can be done in live-action by locking off the camera at the end of the hallway to hide edits and allow room switches. In animation, allows tremendous savings on budget, since the same cross-frame run-cycle cels can be used over and over and over for the entire sequence.
Related to One of These Doors Is Not Like the Other, a trope in video games that often has characters repeating a single screen just like this.
This trope is Older than Television, from the old days of French Farce. It arrived on television in 1930s. In live theater, certain kinds of screwball comedies are known as "door slammers" for a climactic scene or scenes where the whole cast is chasing one another, in one door and out another, everyone just missing everyone else by an instant; notable examples include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Lend Me A Tenor.
Also called a "Freleng Door Gag", after Warner Bros. director Friz Freleng, who may not have created it but took it to a whole other level.
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In a rare use, a series of Cartoon Network gag commercials poking fun at The Blair Witch Project have Velma of the Scooby-Doo gang holding a camcorder during a chase scene and running into a few rooms shouting that she hates these door sequences before placing the camera down on an end table so it can resume the familiar angle as they go through the switch.
A commercial for Eggos did this once. The Guy in the Eggo suit saw 3 doors for brown sugar on one side and 3 doors for cinnamon on the other. He then experimented with one of the doors, and found it to be so amusing, he ran back and fourth between the doors, changing flavor based on which side he came out of. Eventually, he acquired both flavors split down the middle, and all 6 doors fell over because they were used that much. They crushed him while trying to escape. The commercial then moved on to the details.
"Leggo my eggo."
Anime & Manga
A similar gag shows up in an episode of One Piece during the "Thriller Bark" arc, for a Chase Scene where Perona's minion Bearsy chases Ussop through a forest of pillars.
Parodied in AMV Hell 4 by adding Benny Hill Show music and Scooby-Doo footage.
Happens in an episode of Kirby of the Stars, where Lololo and Lalala are trying to keep Kirby's two halves away from Dedede, Escargon and the episode's monster. In between slapstick antics, there are repeated scenes of everyone running between columns, complete with the "multiple versions of one character" joke.
Disney's Robin Hood has a sequence using the fair tents between Robin and Little John, the guards, and Lady Cluck; it ended up with the large guards propelling one tent like a train with the apropos sound effect and a mock American football run!
A sequence early in the film features a variant on this, where creatures and things ran back and forth between doors in a long hallway only when the main characters were not present. One has to wonder whether The Beatles were aware of it or not; since they never saw the creatures, they may not know their house is inhabited by so many zany creatures. Since they they later open one door and see King Kong about to abscond with Fay Wray, and another door has a locomotive chugging towards them until the door is closed, it's possible they had some idea.
There's also a more traditional sequence in Pepperland where the Fab Four are chased by Meanies in an area bordered by two lines of bushes.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action has a scene in the Louvre where Elmer Fudd is going after Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and the three jump into various paintings. It eventually becomes this when the three are jumping back and forth between the paintings in the hallway, dressed up as characters and/or scenery of said paintings.
Snoopy Come Home has this kind of a scene when the annoying girl Clara who kidnaps Snoopy and Woodstock chases them through her house.
Done in live-action outdoors using a long series of paired signboards in the film version of Godspell.
In the Jackie Chan movie Mr. Nice Guy, there is a brief door scene where two goons pursuing Jackie Chan's character pop out of two different doors, see each other, scream in surprise, and slam the doors. The first thug then hesitantly opens his door. The other door pops open and out comes Jackie Chan with the second thug in a headlock.
This happens with some frequency in the movie version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, when R and G try to find their way around Elsinore. While chasing after the Player King, they end up in a different hallway than him. This is meant as a sign of how the Player knows his way around the castle(and the play) while R and G keep getting lost in their roles.
There's a brief moment of this in Some Like It Hot when the gangsters are chasing the heroes around the hotel.
Borderline example in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. The Power Trio end up in the pound. Sassy escapes before they lock her in, hides until the handlers pass her by, and springs Chance and Shadow. One of the handlers walks in and finds them, so she leads him on a merry chase back and forth in a T-intersection, taunting him the whole time. After coming back from the same hallway she went down for four or five times, she struts back on-screen from the opposite hallway, congratulating herself.
A rare dramatic example: in The Adjustment Bureau, the Adjusters are able to travel from their secret base to anywhere in New York by passing through any doorway. When Matt Damon gets his hands on an Adjuster's Cool Hat, he and Elise are able to evade them, going from downtown Manhattan to Yankee Stadium to Ellis Island in rapid succession.
Even though The Little Rascals comedy short films were made LONG BEFOREScooby-Doo, one scene in the 1923 short film The Dogs of War! features these as a guard chases after the eponymous gang of kids when they trespass inside of a movie studio. The results are still hilarious.
In Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill, the curse placed on the ghost town somehow did this with the entire surrounding geography, no matter which way you leave town, you'll always end up right back at the center. Try doing one of these in the middle of the desert while being chased by zombies.
The "world's funniest puppet show" in Barry Hughart's Eight Skilled Gentlemen is a very slight variation (and a massive elaboration) on this.
The Benny Hill Show. Examples based off Benny Hill rather than Scooby-Doo can usually be identified by the music. "Yakety Sax" by Boots Randolph.
"Love and Monsters". Some considered this overly cartoonish and silly, while others thought it was all part of an enjoyably offbeat Something Completely Different episode. Some however, have cited it as evidence that Elton, the episode's focus and narrator is an unreliable one.
Also referenced in the TARDIS chase scene in the fourth Doctor series, "The Invasion of Time".
Also an abbreviated version is briefly used in early Ninth Doctor episode "World War Three", inside 10 Downing Street.
A live-action variant appears in an episode of It Ain't Half Hot Mum. Through various misunderstandings, several of the main cast arrange secret trysts with two different women in the same house. Hilarity Ensues as they burst in and out of the various doors to the same room, all miraculously managing to just miss each other.
Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide uses a chase scene like this in one of the episodes, involving Ned and his friend Cookie being chased by Loomer (the leather jacket-sporting bully). It involves going up and down staircases, whirling in and out of a classroom, and even the three stopping at an intersection with Loomer patting Ned on the back.
The live-action series The Ghost Busters uses this frequently.
The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash has a number called "Cheese and Onions" accompanying an animated film called "Yellow Submarine Sandwich", which naturally spoofs the Beatles' Yellow Submarine and includes a parody of that film's doors sequence.
Get Smart ("The Impossible Mission"). Max and 99 are undercover at a studio, and while dressed as Charlie Chaplin end up being chased in and out of the doors of a film set by two KAOS agents, accompanied by the appropriate zany music.
Most of the doors in town in The Secret of Monkey Island work this way, to keep you from being arbitrarily locked out of buildings you can't actually access. There are a few in The Curse of Monkey Island too, which are actually handy shortcuts from one end of the town set to the other.
In Silent Hill 2's Nightmare Hotel, one of the most nightmare fuelish and Mind Screwy locations in the series, going in a room door dumps you out at a certain other door in the hallway, and one of the doors transports you to the otherwise-inaccessible east wing of the building.
One of the Scooby-Doo video games actually uses this gimmick as a puzzle; you go through three doors, then have to choose a fourth door that leads to a secret room. The secret? The key door is whichever door the second door was.
A different Scooby-Doo video game used the trope in a different way: as you approach the infamous hallway, a large group of ghosts go in through the doors on one side and leave through the doors on the other. Your job is to go through the one door that the ghosts didn't go through, lest you lose some of your health from a fright.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance has a more sinister version where an Odin-empowered Dr. Doom uses his powers to create a hall of doors like this, with the simple task of finding a way out. The trick is to go back the way you came in.
The Magic Window attack from Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has a similar effect, with Mario and Luigi jumping through a magic portal and one or both brothers popping out at random to jump on the enemy. This can go on potentially forever if your reflexes are utterly inhuman, and it doesn't take long for multiple copies of each bro to appear onscreen at once.
In Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia this happens in one of the extra missions due to Palkia's powers, causing the player character, Sven and a guy from the Haruba desert to be randomly sent through several locations in Almia before finding Palkia and restoring everything to normal.
A minigame in Mario Party 4 involves a room full of warp pipes. Jumping into one results in popping out of a different one. The objective is to find the one that leads to the next area.
In Professor Layton and the Last Specter, the Black Raven pulls this off while Layton, Luke, and Emmy give chase. It's later revealed that there were multiple "Black Ravens" running around at the moment in order to achieve this effect.
One of Legendary Frog's "One Ring to Rule Them All" animations features one of these as Wayne the goblin is chasing Sam and Frodo. Yep, the gags include a Scooby-Doo cameo.
Subverted in the Evil Josh & Billy episode Speak No Evil. Evil Josh and his archrival, SuperSomeone, run through a door, and... cut to Josh jumping outside a window.
One 8-Bit Theater Parody had Garland and Red Mage being chased by imps, complete with cameos by other Final Fantasy I characters like Fighter and Black Mage.
In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, Schrodinger the cat winds up playing this with a bunch of robots. To his frustration, his attempt to end the gag goes ignored, and Schrodinger sulks off away from the doors while the robots still try to "chase" him through them.
In the "Smosh" episode That Damn Prison Escape Billy-Jean and Cletus (played by) are chased by the Neighbor on a segway and a Police Officer in the same style, at one point [[Robin]] runs out of one of the doors and the Officer is riding on an office chair.
Tessaract, one of the villains in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe had the power to bend space and time, and as such could potentially turn any hallway full of doors into this sort of scene. And she did it repeatedly when confronted with superheroes, who suddenly found themselves unable to escape the hallways until the effects wore off.
A chilling variant occurs in Entry #23 of Marble Hornets, wherein Jay is exploring the upstairs of a house, but no matter which door he goes in, he always winds up back in the hallway near the Slenderdoll. Especially freaky as it is shown from the first-person POV.
Used in the "Mini Minotaur" Tobuscus song.
Tex Avery (creator of the cartoon character Droopy Dog) was fond of this during his days at MGM (he especially loved exaggerating it).
Its occurrence in the Screwy Squirrel cartoon Lonesome Lenny was not only over-the-top (with additional chasers and chasees being added at random, including a cow, a lech chasing a screaming woman, and various clones of Screwy and Lenny), but self-referential, as the cow briefly stopped in the middle of the chase to hold up a sign reading, "Silly, isn't it?"
Lonesome Lenny wasn't Screwy's first use of the trope. Screwy and Meathead the dog had a Scooby-Dooby Doors scene in The Screwy Truant.
Tex also provided an interesting variation, rarely used these days: the chase sequence would happen in a seemingly normal room (with only two or three doors), but then additional doors would be quickly created as needed — the trick was to open a door violently, and a new opening was instantaneously created where it had hit the wall; this worked completely regardless of the door's hinges, so that when there was no room left on walls, doors were created on the floor and ceiling as well (the best example of this is Little Rural Riding Hood)... These scenes tends to be accompanied by the song "In and Out the Window".
Friz Freleng had his own variant: two characters chasing each other (with Mickey Mousing hopping steps) in a room full of doors: the chaser will see the chasee go into one door, go to it, but just as he opens it, the chasee comes out a completely different door; chaser goes to new door, cycle repeats. It shows up in Little Red Riding Rabbit (1944), and also in Buccaneer Bunny (1948), where one door suddenly has a cannon behind it.
The Donkey Kong Country episode "Raiders of the Lost Banana" has Donkey and Diddy briefly chase Polly Roger into this trope.
Done in the episode "McStroke", with Peter, Brian, Mr. Cow, and two McBurgerworld security guards.
And also in the much earlier episode "Family Guy Viewer Mail #1", during The Little Rascals spoof (with the actual Scooby-Doo gang making a brief appearance).
Subverted in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: the camera is at the right angle, the hallway is full of doors, and the characters are being chased at the time. They run through the door, followed by what's chasing them, then... nothing for about one second, then the scene changes.
Johnny Bravo used it during the self-referential Scooby-DooCrossover episode "Bravo-Dooby Doo". Eventually, it gets to the point where there are multiple Johnnys running through the doors at the same time.
Scooby-Doo made the trope enough of an institution that it became intimately associated with the various series, hence the name. Every modern usage includes at least a nod to the canine detective and the gang, if only in the music chosen. Even Scooby-Doo itself can't use it straight anymore.
A particularly weird subversion comes in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, where after the Phantom, Shaggy, Scooby, and Harry (a dummy) do this in the back of a tour van using some doors and shelves with curtains. However, Shaggy and Scooby eventually decide to just hide in one place about the same time the Phantom gets tired of doing this and decided to just set the entire vehicle on fire which Shaggy and Scooby narrowly escape before it explodes.
There was a game based on this trope featuring the gang and "Toxic Monster" from the opening mystery from Scooby-Doo Abracadabra movie. You open the door for the good guys and close the door for the monster. Here's a link for you to use.
Used during the episode "Cartman Joins NAMBLA", in a Scooby-esque chase scene between a large group of young boys, a gang of naked paedophiles (the entire South Park NAMBLA chapter), the National Association of Marlon Brando Look-Alikes (the "other NAMBLA"), the police and the FBI, and Kenny chasing his pregnant mother with a plunger. It ends when Kenny's father stumbles into the melee, and gets gang-raped by the NAMBLA chapter. There's also a random appearance by two gents on penny-farthings.
Also, a waiter keeps coming down the hallway and getting knocked down by the chase ("Sacrébleu!").
Also featured in Randy's daydream in "Spontaneous Combustion".
Done in the episode "Mad Mod", during a Scooby-Doo-inspired musical chase scene with the Titans pursuing Mad Mod through his surreal, trap-laden lair. This also contains a number of references to the Yellow Submarine doors, with Beast Boy doubling as the animals. And at one point during that doors sequence, Mad Mod drives a car with the exact same colour scheme◊ as the car in Yellow Submarine. At least twice during this sequence, it's further mixed up by playing with the perspective, where characters will emerge from a door, head to one either farther or nearer the viewer, but won't change size like they would if they were running down a normal hallway.
The hinges on the doors aren't consistent either.
A later episode, also featuring Mad Mod, had them do it with cars in the middle of a street. Though the camera pans across the street, the effect is the same. That sequence is more a direct homage to The Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night.
Spoofed in the Drawn Together episode "Clara's Dirty Little Secret", which first showed a similar situation with the house guests chasing each other and emerging from random doors, then zoomed out to reveal that the doors were all connected by a series of tubes, which the characters swam through.
Even Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater had them in the Catula episode.
Rocko's Modern Life had one in the episode "I See London, I See France", but near a French canal instead of in a building. The chase involved Rocko trying to find and impress a female wallaby, Heffer following a truck advertising a Chewy Chicken restaurant, and an insane tour guide hunting them down in his bus. At one point, the characters (including the vehicles) start walking up and down the sides of buildings and riding boats through the canal.
Used in BB3B when the kids take their grandmother whist she is still on a hospital bed and run away from the robots. However, the order of who is chasing who doesn't change.
Hilariously parodied in the episode where Timmy sneaks into Cosmo and Wanda's home in the fish bowl. With each door switch Timmy, Cosmo, and Marianne (an escaped bad godchild) would change clothes. And that was the least weird detail...
Used in yet another episode, "Dread And Breakfast". They seem to like this trope.
Shaggy parody: Zinkies, Doob!
And again in "A Chip Off the Old Chip," during the video for "Find Your Voice".
Timon & Pumbaa does this once in an episode where both title characters are kidnapped by a UFO, and they have to try to escape before it self-destructs. For the sequence, both of them HAVE been cloned, so the multiple versions of themselves actually makes some sense.
The Tom and Jerry short The Yankee Doodle Mouse has Jerry running between crates being chased by sentient sparks from a firecracker.
Used in the episode "Lost Smurf" when Papa Smurf, Hefty, Brainy, Wild, and Sassette get chased through a series of doors in a long hallway inside Castle Captor.
Also in the episode "Smurfing For Ghosts" when Peewit, Brainy, and Clumsy are being chased by ghosts in Quarrel Castle.
Used in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. The gang are being chased by a mad man with an axe throughout a castle; different characters ran through the doors including Scooby and the gang at one point.
Used in the episode "A Bird in the Hoof", while Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle chases after Philomena to the tune of a Yakkety Saxsound-alike. This may actually be a subtle subversion, as the characters always exit through the same side that they come out of.
In a U.S. Acres short on Garfield and Friends, Wade was chased by Lanolin and Orson's brothers in this fashion. Lampshaded by Orson (acting as an off-screen narrator) calling it "a typical cartoon chase".
Shows up in the episode "The Bride of Mighty Mouse" when a pig steals a farmer's hat and everyone chases the pig to try and get it back.
It also happens in the episode "Don't Touch That Dial" when Mighty ends up in the Ring-a-Ding show and the gang chases him, which is a parody of Scooby-Doo.
The Penguins of Madagascarplays with this in the episode "Cradle and All", where the penguins have to chase a human baby through a maze of crates. First the gag is played straight, with the penguins and baby entering and emerging from random pathways for a good few seconds, but then Kowalski realizes what's happening and gets the team to defy the trope.
"The Farnsworth Parabox" has an unusual variation: instead of doors there are several boxes, each of which contains an alternate universe, and each universe in turn has its own set of universe-boxes. This sets up a complicated cross-universe chase sequence with everyone jumping into and out of the boxes.
It's done in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop episode "The Terrible Trolley Trap", when the Ant Hill Mob search for Penelope on the Hooded Claw's steamship.