White Void Room

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No, the background is not transparent, tropers.note 

I'll wait in this place where the sun never shines
Wait in this place where the shadows run from themselves
Cream, "White Room"

A featureless white room. So featureless, in fact, that you can't even tell where the walls, floor, and ceiling end—they all blend seamlessly together under the uniform light, so the chamber looks more like a white void than a room. Sometimes, the only indication that it's not a void is the fact that the characters have something solid to stand on.

As literal white voids represent some "other realm"—usually a result of a dream or crossing over to another universe—physical rooms that replicate this visual effect will have the same connotations. They make excellent cells for imprisonment or interrogation—the absence of visible exits (or any sign that the outside world exists at all) implies no possibility of escape. Or, the white can represent sterility, making these rooms suitable for otherworldly hospitalization. Or, it can represent the limitless possibilities of a blank canvas, so this room could be a currently-inactive holosimulator, or some other place where literally anything can happen.

Occasionally, there are a few pieces of furniture (color is optional) in the room for the characters to sit down and have a discussion. May be an extreme form of Ascetic Aesthetic. When this effect is produced unintentionally by poor description, it is a Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue.

Compare Blank White Void, for literal dimensions of white. Often a sign of the Lazy Artist in Sequential Art when the background is missing. The diffused high-key light often makes this the opposite of Chiaroscuro. See also Misery Lit for when a book presents the white void room on its cover to represent death. May overlap with You Wake Up in a Room.

Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Carmax had a series of TV commercials with people standing in a completely white room. Cars would appear and disappear in response to their description of what vehicle they wanted to buy. (The original ad bore an uncanny similarity to the "We'll need guns. Lots of guns" scene from The Matrix, below.) A great deal of car commercials actually take place in the void.
  • The Flo-based advertising campaign for Progressive Insurance.
    • They've quickly evolved into the "people and furniture floating in a void" variety of this trope. In addition, the employees wear bleach-white clothing, and the furniture seems to be self-illuminated, and there are empty boxes labeled with policies. The white objects in the white void make the void more memorable than other settings where only the background is white. The white clothing makes it seems as if severed heads and severed arms are floating in the white void.
      • It is especially glaring when they spend most of the commercial avoiding this trope by concentrating on a more realistic, documentary style filmed in an actual parking lot, with "used car salesmen" type employees from a competing insurance company. Then we cut from the tacky documentary... to angelic Flo in her Progressive heaven for high contrast.
    • The print ads and banner ads are more of the "photo shoot" variety found in the Real Life section of this page, with only the white void in the background, so you can focus on Flo's quirky, zealous visage.
  • The setting of most Apple Computer ads since the introduction of OSX, including the testimonial-based "Switch" campaign, the Justin Long-John Hodgeman "Mac vs. PC" ads, and more recently the iPhone ads. The notable exception is the iPod ads, which lean more toward the opposite extreme.
  • A set of three PlayStation3 commercials (one Nightmare Fuel) features a room likely meant to invoke this effect, but it's just a white room. This is the Nightmare Fuel one.
  • One of the more famous "Got Milk?" commercials involved a man who dies and wakes up in an empty white room in what seems to be heaven. Of course, then it turns out to be the other place.
  • This En Nuestras Manos Public Service Announcement, featuring various celebrities in one, proudly showing their pulseras.
  • Little Debbie's Fancy Cakes are white cakes always featured in this type of room, to seem more… fancy?

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

  • In Invincible, there's a room in the Pentagon that isn't actually a white void, but drugs in the water supply have mind-control ingredients that make everyone see it that way.
  • In Doom Patrol, former Brotherhood of Evil member Eric Morden volunteers for an ex-Nazi scientist's experiment in which he's temporarily immobilized and placed in a spherical white room where he can do nothing but sit and stare at the whiteness until he goes mad. Eventually a tiny black dot, projected on the white expanse, seems to him to grow larger and larger until it transforms him into the abstract, shadowy villain Mr. Nobody with the power to drain the sanity from others.
  • Jean Van Hamme's Le Grand Pouvoir du Chninkel features le Non-Monde .

    Fan Works 
  • This trope's use in bad fanfiction is lampshaded in the anniversary chapter of You Got HaruhiRolled!, which begins (and ends) with all the aliens standing around in one of these, after complaining that the anniversary chapter was just a reading of The Ugly Barnacle. The real chapter starts immediately afterward.
  • The room in White Box. Canvas seems pretty happy there, before he starts to remember colour...

    Film 
  • THX 1138 (pictured) is the Trope Maker.
  • In The Matrix, the Construct appeared like this when its users aren't running simulations. It could also be used to procure supplies to take into the Matrix, such as guns. Lots of guns. The Architect's lair would be this if he didn't stick a bunch of TV's to the wall.
  • Men in Black has some, specifically the Deneuralizing Room. Eventually, we come to realize that it's basically a large toilet bowl.
  • The Made-for-TV Movie Mr. Stitch ( a Sci Fi Original, mid-1990s, basically a very weird retelling of the Frankenstein story) featured a white room with minimalistic furniture, as the space where the titular creation spent his first several weeks of consciousness before escaping.
  • The detention room in Sky High (2005) is this, plus desks. The room also turns off the students' powers.
  • The time travel chamber in Guest from the Future is a blank white room with a small control stand in the center.
  • The Day Of Wonders virtual reality program in the Apocalypse series by Cloud Ten Pictures takes place in a white room with the Digital Avatar of The Antichrist offering whoever enters it the Mark of the Beast, with the alternative being death, usually by decapitation.
  • Mission to Mars features one inside the Face of Mars.
  • In Richard Lester's The Knack (and how to get it), Tom sees a room is for rent in the protagonist's home, moves in unannounced, and promptly starts painting everything in it white, including the furniture, floor and windowpanes. Tom is a bit mad, and was evicted from his last place for painting it white.
  • Nicole Kidman's character Suzanne Stone-Maretto often talks to the fourth wall while in one of these types of rooms in To Die For.
  • Poltergeist III: The original ending was supposed to show a progression through the apartment, where the environment goes from cold and icy, to more and more frosted over and blistery, until the Final Girl reaches a bedroom, which has become the wintery center for the villain's rage, with nothing but a zero visibility blizzard surrounding the two as they stand amongst some frozen bodies that are strewn on and around some frozen furniture. No walls, just an expanse... as can be seen here in general, and here in particular. However, the ending was reshot in a hurried manner, which shows some frost and mist in a shadowy bedroom, but otherwise avoids this trope.
  • Flashdance Alex and her friends work out in one of these rooms.
  • Daft Punk's Electroma features one. Exaggerated to the point in where the workers in the room are also wearing white and don't have distinguishable outlines, resulting in them perfectly blending into the white walls.
  • The portal rooms in the Phantasm series have this.
  • At the beginning of Under the Skin, the protagonist drags the body of woman into one of these, where she takes her clothing for her own, so she can prey on hitchhikers.
  • Oh, God! - Jerry goes to one of these for his interview with God. Though not seamless, it definitely invokes this trope, everything seems to be covered in a coat of white paint. There's a window that overlooks what seems to be a black, white, and gray city.
  • The Dawns Here Are Quiet: The members of the Amazon Brigade fighting against the Germans keep having flashbacks and imagine spots throughout the movie. Some are presented fairly realistically but some are presented symbolically in a White Void Room. For example, one woman imagines the massacre of her family by the Germans: they are sitting at the dinner table, screaming German dialogue is heard, and the white void room starts blinking red.
  • Cube ends with the last surviving character walking into a blinding white void. Given the metaphysical themes of the film it wouldn't be surprising that he's literally walking into a dimensional void, but the prequel reveals it to really be a giant room with white walls.

    Literature 

  • The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect has several characters in a post-Technological Singularity universe living in white void rooms. Most, though, find that they don't really want to live in a completely featureless white void, and and up decorating their living areas, thus completely missing the point of not owning anything when there's no longer any meaning to concepts like "home".
  • The Turkey City Lexicon deconstructs this trope under the name "White Room Syndrome." According to the Lexicon, to begin a story with "She awoke in a white room" is "a clear and common sign of the failure of the author's imagination," since, if you think about it, it's likely a barely coded description of the writer's own ideas slowly coming together while staring at a featureless blank white piece of paper.
  • Aside from the camera setup at one end and the television monitor setup at the other, the Television-Chocolate Room in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is "completely bare" and white thanks to the walls, floor, and ceiling being painted such, as well as the extremely bright light coming from overhead lamps (so bright that one cannot enter the room without donning special dark glasses).
  • In Instrument Of God, the magistrate tells two lawyers how they have a "stasis field" that suspends people in another area where ten minutes passes in their world no matter how long the person is in the field. In this case it's used to send someone to the prison law library, but in cases of misconduct or bad behavior ("sending them to Coventry") it can be turned into a completely white room. The magistrate even uses a Shout-Out to the White Room from The Matrix. It's used for solitary confinement for disciplinary cases, generally one minute, but it's considered so bad a punishment that the maximum time the courts will allow them to use it is one hour.
  • The Maze Runner. Thomas is placed in one at the end of "The Scorch Trials". Teresa tells him (via telepathy) that this is because he had started to show symptoms of the Flare, making him a danger to the other survivors. This turns out to be a lie; the real reason Thomas was placed in the white room was so that WICKED could stimulate a particular emotional response in him, enabling them to collect more killzone patterns.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Pilot Movie of the Showtime series Odyssey 5 had one of these. It was where a member of a race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens rescued the main characters and sent them to save Earth.
    "God really IS an old, white guy."
  • In Angel, the "White Room" that connects Wolfram & Hart's terrestrial office to the Senior Partners was one of these, with a creepy little girl serving as the Conduit at first. Later, a large black panther assumes the role, and then, an evil doppleganger of the visitor. It's not a nice place to visit.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Most of the holding chambers in the Initiative are like this.
  • For a really obscure example: A 1990s Comedy sketch-comedy show called "Limboland" was entirely set in one of these.
  • The Eyewitness series of science/nature documentaries is set in a kind of Mishmash Museum with animals of all sorts running about. This can be seen in its opening sequence , where the camera zooms through the museum's bizarre floor plan. The walls also have screens and picture frames depicting various images from the natural world. The museum itself is shown as being like this throughout the documentaries themselves, with video clips being introduced by the camera panning to the screens and picture frames. It also had the added strangeness effect of the pictures depicted being different every time, because they would be related to the subject matter.
  • Doctor Who
    • The "kindness centre" in "The Girl Who Waited" is mostly made up of these.
    • The Extraction Chamber in "Hell Bent."
  • An episode of The X-Files had Mulder captured and interrogated in one of these rooms.
  • The 1990 political thriller Die Kinder shows how this can be created in real life; the protagonist is being interrogated in one, and a Reveal Shot shows it's a white dome tent with a floodlight shining on the outside.
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit! takes place in one of these. True to the show's form of pooh-poohing hocus-pocus, though, the camera sometimes pulls out and reveals that the white void is just a set, with cameras and lights and crew (something that is very easy to forget when you only watch TV and movies from one side of the camera).

    Music 

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Every comic strip, almost all of the time, due to the ever-shrinking size of the average strip, and artists' inability to fit anything but talking heads into each panel, as referenced in various Calvin and Hobbes strips, for instance here
  • The Family Circus: The "featureless white void" is commonly seen in this comic, and became a running inside joke on The Dysfunctional Family Circus. The "featureless white room''" is mentioned here as a specific example, "Bil loved the power he wielded over us. He'd coop us up in featureless white rooms for months on end." And "Jeffy desperately tries to stop the scenery rushing in to fill the vacuum of their stark, white home."

    Video Games 

  • Castle Oblivion from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories may count as an entire building made of White Rooms if it weren't for the revisited levels from the previous game, and the tiny decorations in the rooms. Even the revisited levels themselves are described as White Void Rooms that have been magically reshaped by Sora's memories, and in Kingdom Hearts II, Namine gets a similarly blank white room of her own in an otherwise dark, dusty mansion. The room's in-game name is, appropriately enough, "The White Room".
  • The white room behind the mirror in the DS remake of Super Mario 64. It has in it just one star.

  • The Rakatan prison in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

  • Hitman: Codename 47 ends in one of these; a later release, Hitman: Contracts starts off in that same room.
  • Several appear in the original .hack games, sparsely furnished and frequently falling apart due to corrupt or deleted data. Dot Hack GU has some as well, most notably The Creator's Room.
  • Garry's Mod: The map gm_construct has one of these, until you change the color of its walls. Fun glitch: make the walls in that room transparent. Enjoy the trippy!
  • The loading screens in the Assassin's Creed games (known as "memory corridors" in-universe as a function of the Animus; similar backdrops are used on in-game menu screens too) are like this, typically white with animated line patterns everywhere (plus you can control your character too). In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, they are black and teal void rooms instead (though justified in plot, as, due to unique circumstances, its being played in the system's "safe mode"), while Assassin's Creed III gave it a visual upgrade with tons of distorted "fragments" flying around it too. This trope also comes into play immediately after killing a major target so that the assassin can take their time having a nice chat with the victim before escaping.
  • The final cutscene in Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight is in a white void room inside the Scrin tower.
  • This is where the Final Battle in King of Fighters XIII against Ash under Saiki's control takes place.
  • In the Chzo Mythos teaser game "The Countdown Trilogy - 2", the protagonist murders her boyfriend in one of these to join the Order of Blessed Agonies.
  • Virtue's Last Reward has the Q Room. The door just reads Q.
  • The standard color scheme in Antichamber.
  • The G-Man seems to enter this at the end of Half-Life 2 through an invisible door in space. It appears again on box art, desktops, and at the start of Episode One.
  • You can buy this type of room for your Miis in Tomodachi Life, it's actually the cheapest room in the game, being around 50 dollars. While most other rooms cost between $200 to $5000
  • The inside of the UFOs at the end of GUMP's first two flash games, "TERMINAL HOUSE" and "RENTAL HOUSE". Oh, and they're also home to flying one-eyed white...tentacle creatures.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Homestar Runner short "for kids", Homsar's educational preschool kids' show, Whaddaya Know Haddi-man? opens with a shot of Homsar in a featureless white room.
  • In episode 2 of Girl-chan in Paradise, the heroes fight one of Galacticamaru's captains in some kind of flat surfaced area that is all white. The ease of drawing it is lampshaded by Genstar.
    Genstar: Must be easy... To draw!

    Webcomics 
  • Lampshaded and justified early in College Roomies from Hell!!!. Mike's father comes to visit and comments on the lack of stuff in the room, which Mike reveals is due to the concealing white fog from all their garbage. Once the place was cleaned up, backgrounds became more prominent.
  • In a guest storyline in Narbonic, Helen shuts herself in one of these to magnify her madness in order to defeat a psychic.
  • Chrispy leaves out backgrounds for Precocious a lot. It's not as much of an issue in the strips that are in color, though.
  • The cover for issue #8 of the Image Comics series Deathblow.
  • Ask a Cat generally avoid backgrounds unless they're necessary.
  • The idling holosimulator from Gunnerkrigg Court.
    • More recently, this appears to be where Anthony Carver is keeping his daughter.

    Web Original 

  • Mr Deity is set primarily in one of these.
  • One of these plays a major plot point in Darwin's Soldiers story Card of Ten.
  • In Echo Chamber, the Administrator's headquarters is one of these.
  • In Journey of the Cartoon Man, Oswald Sherzikien brings Karen and Roy to his dreamotorium, a blank white space in which he "draws" various images to illustrate his plans.
  • Shoe0nHead addresses this trope in her review of a video that takes place in a White Void Room, where she says, "So, without further ado, here is, "Men-Never-Get-Hate-on-Youtube-Ever-This-Is-Only-a-Problem-Women-Face-So-We-Have-to-Address-It-In-Front-of-a-White-Background-With-Royalty-Free-Piano."

    Western Animation 

  • In Pink Panther cartoon The Pink Phink, most every object that the Pink Panther and the Little Man are competing to paint is shown in a white void space.
  • In Charade, the White Void Room where the Charades player is demonstrating his clues turns into water when he has to demonstrate Jaws.
  • The Teen Titans episode "How Long Is Forever?" has a seemingly insane Bad Future version of Raven being held in a white room, apparently for her own protection. Considering what she did to Dr. Light, this might have been a good thing for everyone else too.
  • Invader Zim's Room... with a MOOSE!!
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Seen in the episode "Squeeze the Day", there's also a small room somewhere in the mansion where "Never-Leave Steve" is implied to always be sitting in a single orange chair. When Bloo finds that room, assuming Steve is still there, the entire population of the house had gone to the beach without him, because they knew he would just mess up their day, otherwise.
  • In Regular Show, Park Avenue's home turns out to be pure white, including the furniture. Mordecai and Rigby had to spray paint the furniture orange just to see what they kept bumping into. Ironic, considering that Park Avenue's a graffiti artist and got mad at Mordecai and Rigby for spraying his home despite being the one who vandalized the park.
  • Pocoyo takes place in one.
  • Word Party portrays certain scenes as this, particularly the opening theme sequence.
  • Yellow Submarine has one of these.
  • Mixels makes use of one for most of the Season 2 theme songs, along with a few gags. The original version of Nixel Land appears to take place in one as well.
  • Inverted with 1975 animated short film Monsieur Pointu, in which famous violinist Paul Cormier, aka "Monsieur Pointu", performs against a Black Void Room (probably a stage covered in black curtains), as the animation gets more and more bizarre.

     Workout Videos 

    Real Life 
  • Some CIA interrogators "break" detainees who won't confess by making them spend time in a featureless white room that's brightly lit all day and air-conditioned enough to be uncomfortable.
  • These rooms are actually not uncommon and used for photo shoots. The walls and floor are painted white and the corners are carefully filled in, rounded together and painted white to give it a blank uniform appearance.
  • While not seamless voids, white rooms are a very common form used in newer art galleries. The theory is the white walls do not draw attention away from the exhibits.
  • The space where words seem to float on most writing programs.
  • This website, and many others.
    • Though the 2015 update has added some color.


Alternative Title(s): White Void

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhiteVoidRoom