The War Room

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"
President Merkin Muffley, Dr. Strangelove

Take The Bridge off the Cool Ship, and put it in The White House or an Elaborate Underground Base, and what you get is The War Room. It's the nerve center for an entire country, criminal organization, secret society, hidden military base, or whatnot. It generally comes in one or a combo of the following three flavors:

  1. A dark, cavernous room filled with rows and rows of consoles with monitors, radar scopes, Big Boards and other sorts of technology, staffed by an entire warren of Bridge Bunnies.
  2. A dark and not-quite-so-cavernous boardroom, with a long central table with chairs around it, lit by a spotlight. If located in a Supervillain Lair, the seats around the table (except for the head one) may have trap doors under them.
  3. A, once again, dark room with a large, circular table in the middle, a la Dr. Strangelove.

Every version will prominently feature an enormous monitor that fills one entire wall. If The War Room is on Earth, the monitor will generally display a map of the world, marked up with real-time data about the organization's activities or serving as a Spreading Disaster Map Graphic. A large number of clocks above the big map, displaying time in different cities around the globe, is optional. All of this serves to keep the leadership (and the viewer behind the fourth wall) well-informed of the big picture.

Cue the ominous marching music as the leader sits down and listens while the underlings brief him on the situation. You can usually expect all the attendees in The War Room to be remarkably well informed of any relevant details and be able to instantly provide up-to-the-second intelligence when the senior person starts asking questions. Expect the meeting deciding fate of the 178 people in the Hostage Situation or how to take out the Big Bad's Doomsday Device to be concluded in less than five minutes.

The Invisible President, the Supporting Leader, The Brigadier and the Big Bad (all may or may not be part of The Omniscient Council of Vagueness) tend to spend a lot of time in rooms like these. Mission Control is invariably based here. If it's for the good guys, expect a lot of cheering coupled with a circular camera pan when The Hero reports his success.

Many naval vessels have a "ward room", the officer's mess, which is often misheard as The War Room. (The "war room" you're looking for is the Combat Information Center or CIC)


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    Anime and Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • Evangelion 303: The Senate committee overseeing the Black Project Evangelion has a war room of the "dark, large, with a central table and a row of seats surrounding it" kind.

  • The movie Fail Safe.
  • Apollo 13.
  • Ur-example: Dr. Strangelove, from which the above quote comes. A huge, elaborate set designed by Ken Adam.
  • Pier 24 in San Francisco from The Rock was the location of a mobile FBI War Room. The equipment and staffers were brought in on trucks.
  • ATAC in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory was the War Room for the orbital particle-beam cannon.
  • In the movie WarGames a set is built to represent NORAD's War Room. Much larger and more impressive than the real thing. In a possible Shout-Out to the Dr. Strangelove quote at the top, General Beringer tells someone not to run in the room, as they could get hurt.
    • But for some reason, the NORAD war room you see in the movies never has any Canadians present, even though it's the North American Air Defence alliance.
  • Undoubtedly what the new President Ronald Reagan was thinking of when, on his first tour of his new home, he asked to be shown the White House's War Room.
    • The Real Life version is rather impressive too, and probably inspired most of the 'rows of consoles' examples here.
    • Though not impressive enough for Armageddon which designed a new one.
  • In Star Wars, the Rebel Alliance keeps multiple War Rooms — one on Yavin IV, one on Hoth, and one aboard Home One, as well as others we don't get to see. The Jedi council chamber might also qualify, even though matters of war are not the only thing discussed there.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens has type 1 of the Crazy Awesome variety, where you need your tongue, both elbows, feet and your rear-end scanned just to get in.
  • Nixon's War Room in the Watchmen movie is based on Dr. Strangelove's.
  • Averted in the 2008 spy film Body of Lies.
    "No it's just me and you...what, did you think there would be some kind of war room and people running about with clipboards?"
  • Octopussy included a rare example of a Soviet War Room.
  • The National Military Command Center (NMCC) inside The Pentagon, as featured in The Sum of All Fears is a direct subversion to this trope. The movies's director, Phil Alden Robinson, says in the commentary that when he visited the real thing during pre-production he was so underwhelmed by what he saw, a sterile and boring office landscape, and liked it in a good way because it was so contrary to the typical Hollywood portrayal. Tom Clancy also liked it due to the authenticity it brought.

  • Any Supervillain Lair worth its salt (except when the Big Bad doesn't care to hear what his Evil Minions say).
  • Any film or TV show about the RAF in the Second World War will almost certainly feature this trope at some point - WAAF members with headsets, moving pieces around The Big Board, while various moustachioed Air Vice Marshalls look down from on high.

  • When Jake first meets General Doubleday in Animorphs. Jake notes that it seems an awful like what you'd see in a movie; old guys chomping cigars, guys in suits and a big map (that has his hometown crossed out, presumably because it isn't there any more).
  • The navies in the Lensman series have entire ships devoted to being The War Room.
    • Truth in Television. The US Navy does in fact have a pair of ships specifically designed and built to act as command and control vessels for major amphibious assaults - the Blue Ridge-class.
  • Both the good guys and bad guys have meeting rooms in Invasion Of Kzarch, and a considerable part of the story is focused on what both groups are doing in them.

    Live-Action TV 


  • In Pippin, Charlemagne uses a map and a Patter Song to show his soldiers the tactics they will use the next day's battle against the Visigoth army.

    Video Games 
  • Call of Duty 4 features a level called "No Fighting in the War Room." However, lots of fighting does happen in the titular war room later on. The title of the level itself is a nod to the quote from Dr. Stranglove.
  • In Team Fortress 2, some maps, such as 2fort, feature many War Rooms seen through windows to the side, which assist in giving the game its Spy Fiction feel.
  • In the Sam & Max Save The World episode Abe Lincoln Must Die, the War Room in the White House serves three purposes: drink coffee, eat cookies, and launch missiles.
  • Evil Genius has a control room, which looks like war room and acts like one. Except you dispatch mooks instead of conquering territories. It also has Inner Sanctum with Type 2 conference table.
  • Maleficent and her Disney villain allies had a war room in their HQ in Hollow Bastion. There they kept a close eye on Sora through a hologram, while thinking out strategies on how to find the Princessess of Hearts or how to conquer the worlds around the universe. The fighting in the war room happens when Sora, Donald, Goofy and their new ally Beast took down Maleficent.
    • The Organization XIII has their own war room in Castle That Never Was, which is completely white with extremely tall chairs standing in a circle. There they discuss their plans, figuring out their next move or commenting on the several setbacks Sora inflicts on them.
    • Merlin's house is basically the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee's war room. There they also discuss strategies on how to combat the MCP, the Heartless and the Nobodies and on how to rebuild Hollow Bastion to its former glory. They share information with Sora, Donald and Goofy from there. It's also from there Cid that control Hollow Bastion's defence system called Claymores.
    • Hades has his own personal war room in his chamber, with a Cosmic Chess Game board lifted directly from his movie.
  • Both Normandys of Mass Effect have these instead of the normal design. The SR1's is more of a Communication room that your crew uses as a meeting place. The SR2 has a more classic design, with a large table in the center, though the view-screen in replaced with a nifty holographic display.
    • The revamped Normandy SR-2 in Mass Effect 3 has a full-fledged War Room with the actual name as it's where the war against the Reapers is being planned out and directed. It has another nifty holographic display that displays the progress of the Crucible superweapon and a console that shows your War Assets and how ready you are for the final battle. The table from Mass Effect 2 is still present, but now it's shifted to a side room and used only for negotiations.
  • In the Knights of the Old Republic series, the central compartment of the Ebon Hawk serves as this.
  • Crossroad Keep in Neverwinter Nights 2 has one in the west wing of the castle.
  • Featured in Xenonauts on the splash screen. It is also represented by the Command Center during base defense missions, being the only room that absolutely needs to be defended no matter what, or the base is lost.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Cabinet War Rooms underneath Whitehall in London, serving as the nerve centre of Britain's war effort.
  • Truth in Television: Militaries and other Armed (and sometimes even unarmed, see political campaigns) factions tend to have these for a reason, as they generally serve as a large, central meeting area for conferences with underlings and field leaders to talk things through, plan out future moves and contingencies, and anticipate future developments.
    • This is one of the reasons generals in World War One stayed in large chateaux - not because they desired the luxury but because these were convenient places to house the large planning staff a corps or division needed, and they were frequently (though not always) already wired up to the telephone and telegraph network and serviced by decent roads. They were also generally (but again not always) beyond the range of enemy artillery.
      • Ironically, it was this exact circumstance that contributed to France losing the Battle of France in WW2 - the general staff was also residing in a single chateau, but the only communication services that were available to them were hourly motorcycle messengers.
  • The White House Situation Room, as seen in the historic photo of President Obama's National Security team watching the raid on Usama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.

Alternative Title(s):

War Room