Unnecessarily Large Interior
"Isn't space on a space station kind of at a premium? What's the big corridor down the middle of it for?"
A tendency of Speculative Fiction
pictures and art direction to have interiors much larger than would be needed in reality. As in what could be a large room becomes huge and cavernous. Sometimes the story tries to justify this, claiming the Phlebotinum
needs this much empty space to work, but usually it's just because Bigger Is Better
(or because the higher the ceiling, the more stuff there is to drop down on the escaping heroes when the building collapses
Usually it's so big, that if it was done in live action, it would be too expensive to do it as a set, or even architecturally impossible
. Miniatures, matte backgrounds, or CGI would have to be used.
This can actually happen in nature
, as spelunkers can attest
, but even in Speculative Fiction art, this can be exaggerated.
Note that "Unnecessarily" is in the title for a reason. If there is an actual practical need for it to be that large, it doesn't count. The Galactic Senate building, in Star Wars
, is not an example, because it's obviously to hold all of the senators from the many sectors of the Republic, sort of like a sports stadium. Neither is the Vehicle Assembly Building in Florida. It's large enough to have clouds form inside it on humid days, but it does have the purpose of building rockets, which need that much space.
Often associated with Catholic Cathedrals
. May involve a Mile-Long Ship
or even a Planet Spaceship
. Compare Absurdly Spacious Sewer
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Anime and Manga
- Blame! is a manga set in a never-ending series of ridiculously large superstructures. This is more-or-less justified in-universe, as the machines responsible for constructing The City have been doing so unguided for countless millennia. This◊ conversation is held in a "room" that encompasses roughly the entire diameter of Jupiter. Because that's where Jupiter used to be before it was swallowed up by The City, only to be consumed for building material.
- Las Noches in Bleach is large enough to have its own sky, and extremely large towers. It's also literally the only building in that dimension, so it's not like they didn't have the space to do whatever they wanted.
- Kim's house in the the second Ghost in the Shell movie includes several large rooms including an enormous Music box style room and a great hall that appears to be outdoors. It's left deliberately ambiguous whether it's a real place or completely in virtual world.
- Gendo's office in Neon Genesis Evangelion is enormous, and the only thing in it is his desk. There's no possible reason for it to be this big, other than what appears to be a large Kabbalistic/occult diagram on the ceilings or walls. Fanon has it that space is at a premium in Tokyo-3, and this is all his understated way of showing off and intimidating.
- The dwarven city of Khazad-dûm in Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring seems to consist of huge empty spaces with free-standing stairs on the edges and straight across. The book has mostly corridors and normal-sized rooms, with a few great halls. In general fantasy fiction, dwarves in general tend to build things on an incredibly large scale; maybe they're compensating for something. The Hi-Ho Song sounds better with an echo.
- The giant halls also prove to be a major issue when the dwarves unleash an Eldritch Abomination: the Balrog Maia. The great halls allow it to move about with relative ease, seeing as how it's twenty times bigger than the whole Fellowship put together. The Literature of J. R. R. Tolkien suggests that the dwarves had trouble with honkin'-big dragons as well: Smaug from The Hobbit being obvious, but also Scatha the Wyrm, and other cold drakes.
- Taken to an even greater extreme with Erebor in The Hobbit, where the interior seems to consist largely of bridges and platforms supported by stone colossi, presumably because there was a whole extra dimension going to waste otherwise.
- Some leftovers of the Krell civilization in Forbidden Planet.
- The cavernous catacombs in the Hellboy movie.
- Parts of the Black Fortress in Krull.
- The sewers in The Matrix.
- Appears in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; apparently the director kept requesting that the backgrounds be bigger, and since everything in the background was Chroma Keyed, this was possible.
- Occurs throughout the Star Wars series:
- Huge, tall shafts in the Death Star in A New Hope. They're practically Bottomless Pits.
- The cavernous core of Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. Note that if you wanted to have an actual "Cloud City" in a gas giants (or rather Venus-like) atmosphere, this would be the way to go - basically, you would have the whole city as one huge airship floating far above the surface with little work needed to maintain it (and without explosive decompression/implosive? compression if you get a rupture in the hull, not to mention not having to use such strong materials in the first place). Obviously though, Cloud City from SW wasn't built like this (open views and active propulsion to maintain altitude)...
- The Bridge of the Republic cruisers in the first Clone Wars series.
- The hangar bay next to the Senate building (Where Anakin and Obi-Wan land after rescuing Palpatine) in Revenge of the Sith.
- Gallaxhar's ship in Monsters vs. Aliens is, for no readily apparent reason, sized to fit a nearly 50 foot tall woman. Justified in the hanger bays, where there are giant robots that need the room. Not justified in the rest of the ship, which has a ridiculously spacious interior despite the fact that the corridors leading to it cannot fit the robots and it's doubtful "rampage by giant woman" was taken into account when the ship was built.
- A justified example is the monster holding facility in Area 52. It was meant to house thousands of monsters of various sizes. The "unnecessarily" part comes from the fact that it never seems to house more than a handful at any given time.
- It would be neccesary for any time they wanted or needed to move Insectasaurus.
- The vault where the doors are stored in Monsters, Inc., which is larger than the rest of the factory put together (See here◊). Sure, there's a lot of doors, but there's also a lot of empty space. The whole structure could be at least half the size if doors were stored in the middle and not just along the walls.
- KGB General Gogol's office in the James Bond movies.
- Seen It a Million Times on book covers.
- From Douglas Adams:
- Life, the Universe, and Everything has Agrajag's shrine to Arthur Dent, which looks just like it was carved out of the inside of a mountain. Because it was.
- In Mary Gentle's Orthe series, Golden architecture in general seems to have been made of this trope, which is made much more explicit in the second book, Ancient Light. Like H.P. Lovecraft (whom see), Gentle uses 'cyclopean' in reference to this kind of architecture. The Emperor's throne room, seen in flashback, is poorly lit, so that someone standing in it "cannot see how high the walls are, or how far above is the ceiling of this great hall." It contains "great pillars; yards in circumference, vanishing up into darkness".
- Paul's throne room on Arrakis in Frank Herbert's Dune Messiah is unnecessarily large for the sole purpose of intimidating his visitors. The author also describes how the room gradually gets smaller as you approach the throne to create the illusion that Paul is larger than he is.
- Whenever H.P. Lovecraft uses the term 'cyclopean', look out for this trope. Used this in flashback in The Shadow Out of Time, with bonus Bottomless Pits.
- In GRR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, the Alchemists' Guild has a grand hall filled with green wildfire torches. Tyrion notes that the hall is only used to impress visitors and all the torches will be extinguished as soon as he leaves.
- In Terry Pratchett's Interesting Times, the throne room of the Agatean emperor is described as indicating to all viewers "look at me, I can afford to waste all this space". This is lampshaded in descriptions of Death's residence, which the Anthropomorphic Personification forgot to make the same size on the inside and the outside. Death made the rooms in his house into mile-long cubes (from the outside it's quite a normal size for a house), but because this is such a mind-boggling size for a room, humans like Albert (Death's housekeeper) mentally blot out the excess space, arranging the necessary furnishings on little patches of floor the size of normal rooms. As Death's residence isn't a part of the real world, this mental block works so well that Albert can step through the door of Death's office and instantly appear on the patch of carpet in the vast chamber's center, never actually setting foot on the intervening half-mile of floor.
- An Imperial officer in the X-Wing Series meets the current head of the Empire in her quarters and lampshades this when he sees that they are both spacious and quite spartan, not ornate or filled with expensive stuff like he'd have thought. He then realizes that on Coruscant, a densely packed planet-wide city, having a lot of wasted space is a good way to show off your wealth, power, and prestige.
- Many of the House on Ash Tree Lane's rooms in House of Leaves, notably the Great Hall (of which none the walls except the one with the entrance door in it were ever actually reached) and the Spiral Staircase (which, at its longest, would have burrowed clean through the earth and extended 3,000 feet out the other side had the House not been an Eldritch Location that was Bigger on the Inside). Especially since the rooms are entirely featureless and have no discernible purpose, so even the narrowest corridors are technically unnecessarily large.
- The underground chambers on Epsilon III in Babylon 5 were a deliberate homage to the Krell machine in Forbidden Planet.
- The secret underground bunkers of the Genii on Stargate Atlantis.
- In the Doctor Who story The Masque of Mandragora, Sarah Jane stumbles upon the Doctor's "boot cupboard", a massive room which has one pair of boots in it. When Sarah points out how absurdly large it is, the Doctor replies, "I've seen bigger boot cupboards."
- In The X-Files episode The Walk, a hospitalized soldier attempts to boil himself alive in a hydrotherapy tank to escape an astral projection that's been tormenting him (It Makes Sense in Context... kinda). The hydrotherapy room's cavernous ceiling disappears off into the darkness and the floorspace could have matched off against a small cathedral, even though there's only one hydrotherapy tank (which, for the record, is essentially a smallish hot tub). The hospital is otherwise completely normal in appearance and the Monster of the Week has neither the means nor motive to distort the room itself, so this can probably be chalked up to Rule of Creepy.
- The interior of most Imperial vessels in Warhammer 40,000 resemble cathedrals. Really, really big cathedrals, with Gothic Punk skulls and eagles everywhere.
- Just the fancy parts where all the important people like captains and navigators work. The rest of the crew is stuck with tiny dirty cabins under the engine room, if they're lucky, or sharing a room like that with 20 other people.
- So not unlike a modern-day warship or submarine then. Only, y'know, we in the modern day Navies don't have to deal with Hrud monsters under the floorboards.
- On Holy Terra there is the Eternity Gate, a colossal chamber leading to the Sanctum Imperialis, where the Emperor Himself sits atop the Golden Throne. The Gate lies at the end of a mile-long aisle, the gargoyle-covered roof hangs half a mile overhead past clouds of incense and swarms of fluttering Cherubim, and the thousand steps leading to the portal take pilgrims through a forest of banners and standards from warriors over the past ten millennia. The Eternity Gate itself is large enough to accommodate Humongous Mecha, while the Imperial Palace it stands in covers most of Europe.
- Eternity Gate is guarded by the two Humongous Mecha — two Warlord Titans from the famous Legio Ignatum stand an eternal vigil at its sides. And Adeptus Custodes unit standing guard in the Gate's hallway is said to consist of 10 000 super-supermen. You need all that place to just fit all that forces.
- Holy Terra as a whole is made of this trope, mostly. The Ecclesiarchal Palace, for example (contextually equivalent to the St Peter's Basilica example above) covers an entire continent (Australasia, to be precise) with a single contiguous structure. It's avoided by a number of other structures, such as the Hall of the Astronomicon, which is what you get when you hollow out and structurally reinforce Mt Everest, then fill it with cells and living quarters for the most powerful telepaths humanity can provide. The actual Hall itself takes most of the available volume inside the mountain, and is a single room stuffed, from top to bottom, with psykers, life-support systems and psychic amplifiers.
- It's invoked in both fluff and the literature whenever you have the POV of an average human in an Adeptus Astartes vessel/building: everything looks to be oversized, too tall and too wide and just generally too big... Then you remember it was built to scale for a genetically engineered Super Soldier sub-race who stand 8 or so feet tall before putting on Power Armor that's also about five and a half feet wide at the pauldrons. The oversized nature is one of necessity, and several passages show the opposite end of the spectrum, Space Marines (both in armor and out) struggling with the "cramped" sections that would be minor inconveniences for normal people.
- In general, tabletop games where combat is played out on a grid tend to feature buildings, furniture, and animals that are bigger than you'd expect, either to enable more different tactical movement options or to round up to the nearest number of units on the grid. This leads to phenomena such as chairs that are always spaced at least 5 feet apart from each other, horses that are 10 foot cubes, and simple peasant shacks that are 100 by 100 feet.
- The Citadel from Half-Life 2. Although it does hold Striders, Gunships, Razor Trains and other tools of oppression, most of what you see are colossal empty rooms with no discernible purpose.
- Since the Combine prefer to rule by intimidation rather than force wherever possible, most of the inside of the Citadel probably really is unnecessary, just there to make the outside even more imposing.
- Maybe the Combine was planning on renting out office space?
- The Black Mesa facility and the Aperture Science Enrichment Centre are similarly overbuilt, though the necessities of Science! mitigate this a bit. Black Mesa features a wealth of Bottomless Pits and absurdly large rooms of dubious utility, particularly in the places the tram-lines run through, and deserves special mention for its truly gargantuan bio-dome enclosures and numerous cavernous sewers. Aperture Science on the other hand has test chambers that are multiple stories tall, and the already unnecessarily large room that houses GLaDOS is in the center of a yet larger room whose dimensions are too great to see to the other side of. Black Mesa is a decommissioned ICBM launch facility: it's probable that, similar to the rocket hangars at Cape Canaveral, all the huge amounts of unused space in the building were once used for storing enormous atomic missiles.
- In Half-Life: Blue Shift the training level for the security guards (apparently one must get used to the body armor) is half a mile long, easy.
- For as large as Black Mesa is, if you map out the facility◊ (warning: HUGE image), you'll notice some interesting things; for instance, the big sludge pit in "Blast Pit" is mere feet away, on the other side of a wall, from the test chamber where everything goes wrong.
- In Portal 2 it's revealed that while the Computer Aided Enrichment Center of is pretty big, it's only one part of Aperture Science Facility as a whole. The main testing area is a massive modular series of ever shifting panels connected by catwalks and lifts, containing manufacturing facilities and assembly plants for the testing chambers, as well as a nuclear reactor. The Incinerator, which was just a hole in the ground in the first game, is revealed to be the size of a cathedral. The maintenance tunnels are massive, and the lower portion of the enrichment center is filled with layer upon layer of abandoned "Science Spheres" (the precursors of the modular Test Chambers), stacked one on top of the other in 9 colossal shafts. They even use enormous hatches the size of a small house to block off perfectly ordinary doors (though, admittedly, this was a gag by Valve).
- Everything the Forerunners ever built in the Halo series.
- The underground lab the "Hollow Bastion" area of Kingdom Hearts II.
- In Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame, level 11, the second temple level, is built around an extremely high room. How high is it? After opening the level exit, to reach it one must make a running jump across the room, sending a loose tile plummeting 21 floors down to weight down a switch. This is after climbing floor by floor up from the bottom and passing over the room's ceiling.
- You see this kind of thing everywhere in Second Life, in part because realistically-scaled rooms and corridors wreak havoc on camera position.
- This happens more than once in the Thief series.
- In Thief: The Dark Project:
- In "Lord Bafford's Manor", the two-story high atrium. It gives the archers clear, protected shooting, though.
- In "Down in the Bonehoard", the Halls of Echoing Repose are built in the shape of huge hexagonal light wells, the walls of which are tombs.
- In "Assassins", the atrium of Ramirez' mansion is the size of a ballroom.
- In "The Sword", the light well containing the sword itself. Arguably a Justified Trope, since the whole mission is a test to see if Garrett should be hired to steal the Eye. The area in which the Eye is located is somewhat similar to the area around the sword - a levitating object with enemies guarding it below, but which is accessible from above.
- In Thief Gold:
- In this version of "The Sword", the Brobdignag area (doesn't appear in the Dark Project version).
- In "The Mage Towers", each of the four elemental towers has a ballroom-size or better area on the first floor above ground level. This is particularly noticeable in the Water Tower (in which the space is largely flooded and almost empty) and the Air Tower (which has gigantic air shafts that act as elevators, in addition to the oversized area previously mentioned).
- Frankly, a building's importance in World of Warcraft can be measured by how large its interior is. Of course, even the materials used are larger then life. How were those goblins able to lift that screwdriver?◊
- Some of the halls in Utgarde Pinnacle, which are about 2 stories tall for no apparent reason, and Naxxramas, which has several unnecessarily huge rooms. While most instances are larger than the space they should be located is, Naxxramas deserves a special mention for completely breaking all semblance of suspecion of disbelief. In order to fit all the 4 wings inside it, it has to be about 10 times bigger on the inside than the outside.
- The final room in the Spider Wing takes the cake: A massive cylinder several times the height of the exterior building with no exits beyond the hole in the wall you enter it through.
- Many parts of Icecrown Citadel fall into this category, too, with the Forge of Souls set in a huge cavern that seems to house only a sparse couple of catwalks. Icecrown has the excuse of being built on a giant glacier that the majority of which sits below sea level in a huge rift. Arthas built his entire metal citadel to cover the damn thing. The players won't even truly see a quarter of the citadel's full interior.
- Super Robot Wars occasionally will have indoor missions, with fortresses or space stations that have room enough for whole squads of Humongous Mecha to all fly in. A particularly egregious example is in Super Robot Wars Destiny, where the final mission takes place inside, and the game lets you choose as your battleship for the mission the Battle 7 from Macross 7: A transforming Cool Starship that stands 1400 meters tall (about 200 meters short of a mile), and it still has room to either fly or walk.
- The browser-based MMO Travians allows players to buy and furnish houses of ever-increasing size (sometimes at considerable real-money expense). Since the only items of furniture that have a practical effect are beds, Roman baths and seating, most of the available houses are impractically large.
- Bowser's Galaxy Generator in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Okay, galaxies are massive places, but considering the entire final level/galaxy takes place in what's maybe about 1% of the castle space, it's fairly well under this trope. And this backdrop castle is big enough the planets in the level each have their own gravity and orbit.
- Ship and station interiors in Star Trek Online are several times larger than what appeared on any of the shows. The developers claim it's necessary for proper camera control to work.
- Many tombs and dungeons in the Tomb Raider series.
- The interiors of the Collector vessel in Mass Effect 2 seem like they're a lot larger than necessary. Shepard even theorizes the reason for this is the Collectors intend to "collect" every human on Earth.
- The Collector Base seen at the end of the game makes the vessel look comparatively miniscule, and the final chamber is absolutely massive. Justified: it's where they're making a new Reaper.
- In Dragon Age, the ruins of ancient civilizations like the Tevinter Imperium and pre-Blight dwarves are enormous, with towering spires or soaring vaulted ceilings (Fort Drakon, a former Tevinter outpost, is easily 10 times taller than anything else in Denerim). Fereldan and Orzimmar architecture of places people currently live tends to be much smaller, to the point of claustrophobic. It does reinforce the theme of Thedas' past being much more magical and High Fantasy than the present.
- Most of the old Tevinter buildings in Dragon Age II are also quite massive.
- Touhou: Strictly, this is an unnecessarily large exterior, but the garden of Hakugyokurou in the Netherworld is well over 1000 kilometers long. Luckily, the gardener is capable of superhuman speed. The Scarlet Devil Mansion's library is also known to be quite large (and Bigger on the Inside), but whether it actually qualifies as this trope is unclear.
- Dead Space 2: Given that it is based on space station you would though building space would at a premium, not so for the Church Of Unitology, who have large richly decorated rooms that hardly anyone would ever see. It does show how much power the Church has to have a place of worship bigger than an entire street of houses.
- Tristram Cathedral was dark and claustrophobic in Diablo. In Diablo III, it looks like one giant cavern, with the player running around on rooftops.
- Played for laughs in The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 3, where the king's bathtub is ridiculously enormous (king-sized, of course), being tall as the entire stage you're in.
- Many locations in Star Wars: The Old Republic are guilty of this trope.
- Most rooms in P.N.03.
- Gothic cathedrals in general. Many cathedrals and indeed many old-world religious structures have this characteristic as the sponsors, architects and craftsmen, seeing their work as personal sacrifice or symbols of the gods' vast power, tended to go all-out. Some rulers also built these structures as a show of wealth, and would also be motivated to make them as big as possible.
- The Seville Cathedral; built as a monument to Seville's wealth (read: for no other purpose other than showing off), its central nave is somewhere around the 115 meters x 76 meters x 42 meters tall!
- St. Peter's Basilica in Rome has a dome that's 42 meters in diameter. The rest of the church is... larger. It is the largest Christian church in the world and it's said that if its roof were to be removed, the second-largest church could be lowered inside, and the roof put back in place.
- The Roman Empire positively adored this trope. As the first hardcore users of the monumental arch, the dome, concrete and other innovations that allowed for construction of megastructures, they loved to show off their power by building structures with massively spacious interiors. Buildings like the Baths of Caracalla, the Pantheon and Hagia Sophia were designed specifically to awe people with vast, open, interior spaces. The Gothic Cathedral architecture mentioned above was itself inspired by Roman architecture.
- Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had his visitors cross an excessively-large room to meet him as a psychological intimidation tactic ala Gendo's office.
- Among the structures planned for Hitler's new German capital included a dome many times larger than any ever built. How it would be built was never fully engineered. The central dome of the Volkshalle was theorized to produce acoustics that would either render any speech unintelligible or magnify a speaker's voice to deafening levels, and would have been large enough to produce its own weather systems and indoor rain as the breathing and perspiration of its occupants precipitated. Since Berlin was built on swampland, the whole building would have sunk and/or collapsed under its own weight, but Hitler, being Hitler, decided to ignore this fact.
- Due to the internet competing with brick-and-mortar businesses and the miniaturization of electronics, this is in fact becoming very inverted in Real Life. Or maybe the interior is getting more unnecessarily large since the objects filling the space are becoming smaller?