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White Void Room
THX 1138's imprisonment.

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.

Remember that nothing screams futuristic, cutting edge, classy purity like a white void in your workout video. Another possibility is "concentrate on my smoking hot bod")

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:

    open/close all folders 

    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 PS3 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.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, any alchemist who opens the Gate of Truth is transported to a white void.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: Zone resides in one of these.
  • The Hyberbolic Time Chamber, a.k.a. the Room of Space and Time, from Dragon Ball Z looks like a small but ornate building with two huge hourglasses flanking it, all of which is located in a white void.
  • Though this probably wasn't the intent in Bleach, this was its definite effect. See: Lazy Artist definition. Although there are occasions where this likely was the intention, for instance Hueco Mundo, which is effectively this in the form of a barren desert, and Las Noches, which is a colossal fortress of blank, white walls, both of which were likely intended to be bleak and featureless.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Homura's apartment is one of these.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men has the White Hot Room, which is sort of outside the universe and mostly seems to exist so that various wielders of the Phoenix Force (past and present) can talk to each other.
  • Invincible has a room that isn't actually a white void, but drugs in the water supply have mind-control ingredients that make everyone see it that way. It's for the super-soldiers. Er, as to the spoiler, that's only on occasion. It's really for whatever they need to keep quasi-invisible that day.
  • 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.
  • In one of Warren Ellis' issues of Dv8, Copycat steps on a booby trap that apparently teleports her into one of these. The white void later turns out to be a simulation, a result of being teleported to another room in the facility and hooked up to a virtual reality machine. She grows to like the isolation, because her Split Personality starts integrating, until her teammates pull an Unwanted Rescue.
  • Jean Van Hamme's Le Grand Pouvoir du Chninkel features le Non-Monde (the Non-World), a white space between the worlds.
  • The universe itself is turned into a very large one in Zero Hour: Crisis In Time after Hal Jordan as Parallax has finished erasing it with his entropy rifts, in which only a few surviving heroes get to witness him recreating the universe.

    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.
  • In Bruce Almighty the Supreme Being invites the protagonist into a white loft.
  • The Vincenzo Natali film Nothing is mostly set in a white void.
  • The Made-for-TV Movie Mr. Stitch (Sci Fi Channel, 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 was this plus desks. The room turned off a student's powers, by the way.
  • The "Midnight Radio" song in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
  • The center of the Torus in Epoch.
  • The ending scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • The shower at the beginning of Nowhere is a white void room. The movie starts off with credits over a white screen and pans down, down, down to show the main character, named Dark, in a white void with gray steam. A shower head seemingly floating in space. The scene is shot from far away so that Dark looks dwarfed by the infinite whiteness on the screen. When his mother knocks on the bathroom door, the shower is seen for the cramped, normal utility that it is.
  • 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.
  • In π, the protagonist finds himself in one of these. It's implied that he's standing on the border of life and death as he calmly starts to recite the universal number, which has previously been noted to possibly be God's true name. He wakes up from this state, only to realize that he was probably hallucinating.
  • Daft Punk's Electroma features one. Exaggerated to the point in where the workers in the room are also wearing white don't have distinguishable outlines, resulting in them perfectly blending into the white walls.

    Literature 
  • William Sleator's SF novel, House of Stairs where the setting is just a big white void… criss-crossed with stairs. And one toilet, and a pellet dispenser. And somewhere, presumably very far off, is an elevator that gets you out. That toilet is their only water supply (so they wash up in it too), and the only non-stairs element besides the machine. It constantly flushes, but still.
  • Such a scene was included in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Involving Harry meeting and speaking briefly with Dumbledore. It stops being a blank white room and becomes King's Cross Station fairly quickly, though. The film version goes both ways, being a blank white version of King's Cross.
  • Inverted in The Time Ships, by Stephen Baxter. The Time Traveler is imprisoned by Morlocks by means of a single shaft of light in a seemingly-infinite black room. He's psychologically unable to walk out of sight of the beam.
  • Played straight in Dr Franklins Island by Ann Halam. Semi, the main character, and Miranda, her friend, are able to communicate through radio when they are animals, but in a white-void-like space where they both appear in their human forms, where Miranda has a strange black bracelet on her leg, the same as the one she is wearing to stop her flying away as a bird. Semi dislikes the white space, saying that it feels like being dead.
  • Once Harry figures out who killed him in Ghost Story, he is taken out of the Battle in the Center of the Mind between Molly and Corpsetaker, and ends up in one of these while he talks to Uriel.
  • 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).

    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.
    • D'Hoffryn's place of business is a featureless black void.
  • For a really obscure example: A 1990s Comedy Central sketch-comedy show called "Limboland" was entirely set in one of these.
  • 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).
  • 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 show featured an early example in "The Mind Robber" serial, as the Doctor and his companions find themselves trapped in the land of Fiction. Ths being Doctor Who, you actually could see the edges of the walls, but the cast never did...
    • "Warrior's Gate" is set almost entirely in one of these, to eerie effect.
    • Apparently, these were a fixture of Terry Nation's early scripts.
    • In Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, the heart of the TARDIS is one of these.
  • Used a few times in Star Trek, albeit they're not so much "rooms" as actual white voids:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation. At the beginning of the episode "Tapestry", Picard apparently dies on Dr Crusher's operating table after being shot through the heart. He wakes up in a bright white void in which he can make out a white-clothed figure who reaches out for him only for it to turn out to be Q, who informs Jean Luc that he's dead and they're going to spend eternity together. Picard is not impressed.
    • In the Deep Space Nine episode "The Visitor", a white void is used to represent the "subspace vacuole" that Captain Sisko is trapped in.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise. T'Pol is shown meditating in a mental version of this to avoid distractions. Unfortunately she discovers her brief "intimate relationship" with Trip Tucker has led to a somewhat more permanent connection when he appears in there as well.
    T'Pol: Why are you here?
    Tucker: I was about to ask you the same thing. Is this a daydream?
    T'Pol: I'm meditating. This is where I go in my mind.
    Tucker: Well, I would've thought you'd pick a more interesting place. Like the beach, or one of those Fire Plains you showed me.
    T'Pol: Please leave.
    Tucker: Exactly where am I supposed to go?
  • An episode of The X-Files had Mulder captured and interrogated in one of these rooms.
  • The 1990 political thriller Die Kinder shows how one can be created in real life; the protagonist is being interrogated in one, and a Reveal Shot shows it's a white tent with a floodlight shining on the outside.

    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 
  • The Expanse, the Void Between the Worlds, in Shin Megami Tensei IV, due to the influence of the White. More creepily, the Monochrome Forest is this trope applied to a small plane of reality. Despite being a forest instead of a room, it manages to achieve the same effect.
  • 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 Super Mario 64 DS. It has in it just one star.
  • The Rakatan prison in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
  • In Super Paper Mario, when Sammer's Kingdom is destroyed, the door that led there now leads to a vast, empty landscape.
  • The original Hitman game 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. .hack//G.U. 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.
  • Ganondorf's ultimate fate at the end of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is to be sealed away in Another Dimension which is depicted as a white, formless void where he can do nothing but spew vile invectives at the heroes.
  • 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.
  • Sonic Generations uses one as its Hub Level, with small previews of each of the nine levels being used as their entrances. Used properly in the game's epilogue, where both Dr. Eggman and his past self from 20 years ago are both stuck in a true white void.
  • Asura's Wrath. In the final phase of the Chakratarvin the Creator boss fight the boss itself turns an entire plane of existence into this just by his raw power alone. It looks a lot like The Creator's room from .hack//G.U. above. Helps that it's made by The Same Company, and is likely a Shout-Out.
  • Virtue's Last Reward has the Q Room. The door just reads Q.
  • The standard color scheme in Antichamber.

    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 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Some Looney Tunes cartoons end with this void when the cartoon's film supposedly breaks, after which a character steps out into this to address the audience: "Ladies and gentlemen, due to circumstance beyond our control, we are unable to continue with this picture." In this case, the blank white image is used simply to show that the film is gone and the camera is just projecting white on the screen. (Remember they all started out shown exclusively in theaters) The idea is that the audience might not be sure the whole thing's a gag... until the character shows up, anyway.
  • 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!!
  • In the Spongebob Square Pants episode "SB-129", Squidward was on a Time Machine that went haywire and ended up in one of these.
  • This is what ChalkZone is without any chalk in it. Minus the floor. It's literally a bottomless abyss.
  • According to a Family Guy cutaway, Purgatory is this. It doesn't have a floor either; you're just suspended in the void.
  • In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends movie, Frankie is held prisoner by an imaginary friend who controls a pretend world in a toy box. (Actually, she's more of the first person he's seen in a very long time and so he gets very excited. She genuinely enjoys the experience but she's not allowed to leave his world.) When Mr. Herriman tries to take her back to Foster's, the friend in control of the world gets very angry. As he chases them he destroys the world and it becomes one of these, albeit with debris and landmarks still around.
  • A "What If?" episode of Futurama ends with Fry destroying the universe, yet he and a few others survive, suspended in a white featureless void.
    Stephen Hawking: Great, the entire universe was destroyed.
    Fry: Destroyed? Then where are we now?
    Al Gore: I don't know, but I can tell you where you're not: The Universe.
    Gary Gigax: Well who wants to play dungeons and dragons for the next quadrillion year?
  • 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.

     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.


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alternative title(s): White Void
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