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"Another secret society meeting in a warehouse. Do you think the owners charge them rent?"
Varric Tethras, Dragon Age II

Some settings speak louder than others. An Abandoned Warehouse screams "let's rumble" at about the same volume that a grand but derelict house on a hill shouts "supernatural and creepy". If any given cordial enemy says "let's meet in an abandoned warehouse", you can pretty much drop the "cordial" part right then and there, and if nobody fires or at least brandishes a gun during the warehouse scene, it's usually only because it's a children's show. And even then, it'll still involve whatever nerfed magical battle powers the show entails.

For extra trope points, the warehouse should feature a large and complex series of catwalks running among the rafters. This allows the villain to position additional Mooks there for the hero to shoot down, and means that they may retreat onto them for the traditional Climbing Climax. There will also be lots of chains and hooks hanging from the ceiling for unexplained purposes, still-operational machinery that can be turned on, as well as lots of water dripping from the roof to give off some nice and eerie clanking and dripping noises for the "cat and mouse"-style chase.

An abandoned pier or dock area is a common variation. See also Abandoned Hospital. Sometimes overlaps with Darkened Building Shootout.

Common iterations: pre-appointed confrontations, busting up a bunch of Mooks in a video game, and ambushes. In Super Hero settings, there will generally be large amounts of property damage, since "abandoned warehouse" is shorthand for "building we can completely destroy during production without feeling guilty."

Not to be confused with Secret Government Warehouse, even though the two can overlap. Nor the Abandoned Warehouse District, which exists to be totalled during an even bigger fight.

Warehouses are great locations for a film for a few real reasons, though - they're big, open spaces and require little set dressing. Production companies usually already know a lot of local warehouse managers as warehouses make great temporary studio sets when the studio is pressed for space. An empty warehouse (or a half full one) is usually happy to make a few extra bucks by hosting a film, and requires little more than making sure a maintenance guy is on hand to help with power, etc.

Can serve the same purpose of a Parking Garage, with the exception that a parking garage does not need to be abandoned to appear as a credible place where things can happen while none is passing through.

In Real Life, abandoning warehouses is rather common, which makes this trope Truth in Television. Also see Never Recycle a Building.

Contrast Not-So-Abandoned Building, if the warehouse only seems empty.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The final confrontation of Death Note is deliberately arranged to take place in an abandoned warehouse with no windows and a single entrance.
  • The abandoned factory that Momo used to train Yuko in Chapter 6 of The Demon Girl Next Door is eventually revealed to have been involved in several important events in the past: First with Sakura's confrontation of Ugallu, then whatever happened that eventually caused two people to be sealed.
  • The end of the "Animation USA" episode of Excel♡Saga was in an abandoned pier, where Excel espoused the virtues of Western and Eastern animation while beating up gangsters.
  • The final confrontation of The Garden of Sinners occurs at an abandoned warehouse somewhere in the Mifune City docks. This is justified by the fact that the warehouse is the base of operations for the Arc Villain of the final chapter, who needs a lot of space in a relatively remote and inaccessible location to grow his mystically enhanced weed.

    Comic Books 
  • Hawkman: Post-Hawkworld, the old Chicago Union Stock Yards is used as the home of the Netherworlders, a populace of metahumans.
  • Spider-Man: In Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man tracks down the man who killed Uncle Ben to an abandoned warehouse, where he is surrounded by police.
  • Superman: In The Leper from Krypton, villain Ventor's headquarters are located in an abandoned warehouse where he keeps his equipment, including his brainwashing devices.

    Fan Works 
  • It is possible that The Bunker is an abandoned warehouse.
  • The climax of With Strings Attached takes place in an abandoned warehouse that's being used to house the Vasyn.

    Films — Animated 
  • The LEGO Ninjago Movie: The Secret Ninja Force's base is located in a warehouse that, according to a sign outside, once belonged to the Brick Recycling company before they closed down.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: The kids have their La Résistance meeting in Carl's Warehouse, a desserted and disheveled place, in order to rescue Terrence and Phillip.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The final shootout in Hard Target takes place in a derelict warehouse.
  • The final battle between Connor MacLeod and the Kurgan in Highlander takes place in an abandoned warehouse.
  • Law Abiding Citizen. The Vigilante Man antagonist liquidates his assets and buys a large number of abandoned factories so he can carry out his plans undisturbed.
  • In Razors: The Return of Jack the Ripper, Professor Wise gathers the six writers for a weekend long intensive workshop in abandoned Victorian warehouse/factory. He comments no one has used the place since an infamous horror movie was shot there years ago, and these days it is only used for illegal raves. The warehouse turns out to be haunted, and perhaps worse.
  • Most of the "games" in the Saw franchise take place in abandoned warehouses and similar buildings, usually ones that John Kramer had bought and originally sought to restore before becoming the Jigsaw Killer.
  • Star Wars: Attack of the Clones ends with Count Dooku reporting to his master in a vacant factory complex.
  • It looked like Sam Flynn had made his home out of an abandoned warehouse in TRON: Legacy.
  • The primary location in Unknown (2006) is an Abandoned Warehouse in the middle of nowhere, where the protagonist is trapped and try to find a way out.
  • Parodied in Zoolander, where the walk-off is held in "the old Members Only warehouse."

    Literature 
  • In the first Able Team novel, Carl Lyons and Rosario Blancanales capture three prisoners and take them to an empty warehouse so they'll think they're going to be tortured. The FBI agent who drops them off says, "You won't be disturbed in there. The previous tenants imported very illegal substances — they won't be back for ten to fifteen years."
  • Discworld:
    • In Thief of Time, Unity bases herself in a roofed space between four industrial buildings, which might once have been a warehouse, but which all four now vaguely assume belongs to one of the others.
    • The Pork Futures Warehouse is actually full of future pork (in keeping with the Literal-Mindedness of Ankh-Morpork citizens), but it plays similar narrative role as an abandoned warehouse in e.g. Men at Arms and Thud! It's also very cold — with semitransparent carcasses of future pigs as a creepiness bonus.
  • The city in Eden Green is going through a decade-long recession, leaving many businesses and warehouses boarded up —- perfect hunting grounds for giant alien needle monsters.
  • The Dresden Files: The White Council uses an abandoned warehouse in Chicago for trying and executing violators of the Laws of Magic. Such places turn up numerous times in the series. When used by practitioners of black magic, the abandonment is justified in-universe by the fact that even regular people sense something is not right and leave the areas alone.
  • Kane Series: In "Cold Light", Kane is being hunted by Lord Gaethaa and his men in the town of Sebbei, depopulated by The Plague. He lures two of them into an abandoned warehouse that was used to store textiles. He then proceeds to close the door to cut his enemies from the rest of the group and after a short fight sets the warehouse on fire. He escapes through a hidden tunnel. The other two don't.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrowverse:
    • In Arrow Oliver Queen's HQ is underneath the derelict Queen foundry — but not for long, as he quickly turns it into a nightclub, giving him an excuse for being there. There are actually repeated instances of abandoned warehouses and other buildings being used as hideouts/bases by various characters throughout the series, though it's justified as most of the action takes place in the rundown part of the city known as the Glades (and it's not like the city's economy improves with a major terrorist attack happening for every season finale). To the point that in a Season 3 episode, Ray actually takes the time out of a serious mission to wonder just how many abandoned warehouses Starling City has.
    • Lampshaded in the Supergirl crossover episode with The Flash, in accordance with the latter's repeated instances.
      Barry: Livewire's ability to absorb the electrical energy in the air surrounding her gave me an idea. So I wrote an algorithm to monitor variations in meter usage around the city, and it all leads to that warehouse. I see bad guys love their abandoned warehouses on your Earth, too, huh?
  • Every episode of the 1960s Batman TV series had the villain's hideout located in an abandoned warehouse.
  • Parodied in the Boy Meets World episode "The Thrilla in Phila". When discussing where their grudge match should take place, Joey the Rat and Cory have the following exchange:
    Joey: Tonight. Midnight. The abandoned warehouse on seventh.
    Cory: No. Four o'clock. Feeny's backyard.
    Joey: No! Eight o'clock! The abandoned shipyard by the pier.
    Cory: No! Dinnertime! My kitchen!
    Joey: Is it abandoned?
  • In the Broad City episode "Working Girls," the distribution center where Abbi tries to pick up a package for Jeremy turns out to be a run-down warehouse on North Brother Island, staffed solely by an old woman named Garol who sits at a desk in the middle of the warehouse eating yogurt.
  • In Buffyverse:
    • In Angel, Gunn's gang, as well as some street-level demons, use abandoned warehouses as their living and working area. Cordelia also gives birth to Jasmine inside an abandoned meatpacking plant, which is given a sinister air thanks to its rows of hanging meat hooks.
  • The Comic Strip Presents: Parodied in "Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown" when our heroes (an Affectionate Parody of Bodie and Doyle in The Professionals) find the Docklands are being redeveloped.
    Bonehead: Where's all the wasteland and the disused factories, Foyle?
    Foyle: Where's all the rusty girders?
    Bonehead: Dammit, there's no puddles to run through!
  • The Criminal Minds episode "Ashes and Dust" has an arsonist who likes to watch his victims burn to death and a man dying of leukemia who's disgusted and angered that the arsonist is using the group he founded to target victims. The arsonist gets lured by the man to an abandoned building filled with highly flammable material. When the arsonist asks how the man plans to escape, he says, "I don't," and lights the building up, killing them both. Doubles as a Thanatos Gambit and a Dying Moment of Awesome.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Sound of Drums", the Doctor, Martha and Jack hide from the Master in an abandoned warehouse and discuss backstory.
  • The second episode of Flash Forward had the main characters' investigation of the blackouts lead them to a creepy abandoned warehouse full of dolls hanging from the ceiling.
  • Hawkeye (2021): Clint and Kate get captured by the Tracksuit Mafia and brought to an abandoned toy store. They point out how unnecessarily creepy it is. One of the Tracksuits goes on a rant about how with New York's gentrification, it's actually getting really hard to find a good abandoned building for criminal enterprises, so yes, they had to settle for the creepy toy store.
  • Iron Fist (2017). In Season 2, Davos sets himself up in a warehouse because the spartan accommodation reminds him of the monastery he grew up in. His minion tries in vain to get him to try a hotel with proper plumbing and room service.
  • Miami Vice has an abandoned hangar that appears as the site of a weapons demonstration in "Evan," a double execution in "Phil the Shill," a secret lab in "Missing Hours," and a drug deal in "To Have and to Hold" before finally getting blown up in Bad Boys (1995).
  • The MythBusters occasionally make use of real abandoned warehouses, usually at NAS Alameda, an abandoned United States Navy base, for testing some of their myths.
  • The Professionals. CI5 used the former Wembley Palace of Engineering for training, and of course, scenes take place in the usual unused warehouses, derelict dockyards and decommissioned WW2 airfields.
  • Subverted in the Saved by the Bell episode "The Rave". Plans to host a rave at a warehouse are derailed when it turns out that it's being turned into a Walmart. "Stupid economic recovery."
  • Stargate Atlantis: Michael uses abandoned warehouses on evacuated worlds through the later seasons to set up his mad science laboratoria and safe houses.
  • Supernatural: Crowley is fond of using abandoned warehouses, factories, and hospitals as his bases. Crowley's hardly the only one; supernatural creatures, in general, seem to love 'em.
    Dean: Wow, will you look at that? Our ninth abandoned factory. Ain't that America?
  • Dingy abandoned warehouses are everywhere in Super Sentai/Power Rangers, giving the Zords and giant monsters an endless supply of empty buildings to crush. The second season even occasionally referred to the "abandoned warehouse district" of the city.
  • In the Torchwood episode "Combat", there is a gang of men who hold death cage matches with Weevils (the vicious stock alien of Torchwood) in empty warehouses.
  • On the Australian show Water Rats the Sydney Water Police often look for runaway kids in abandoned warehouses and other buildings.

    Music 
  • Lindsey Stirling's "Spontaneous Me", along with a couple other pieces, include her dancing in empty parking lots or on abandoned and run-down buildings.

    Radio 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks and Walter Denton visit the now-abandoned warehouse of the "Jackpot Amusement Company" at the end of "Student Government Day". Miss Brooks pulls the arm of a rigged one-arm bandit machines that had been left behind by the racketeers, winning the jackpot.

    Roleplay 
  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Benjy is transformed into a bug monster and seeks refuge in one of the abandoned warehouses near the coast. Said warehouse was already occupied by a local criminal gang, who attacked Benjy and prompted him to murder them all in self-defense. This sets up a later altercation where the others characters find Benjy in the warehouse full of corpses and attack him immediately, fearing he'll kill them next.
  • Abandoned warehouses appear in versions one, three, and four of Survival of the Fittest. In V1 A number of fights break out inside of it over the time the act is running, and towards the end, the warehouse is blown up altogether at the culmination in one of the most action packed scenes of the entire first game. The v3 one, on the other hand, is an abandoned military storehouse and (by implication) a rec center where the soldiers played cards. Version 4 has one that apparently used to contain logging supplies, but unfortunately, the boxes remain padlocked.

    Video Games 
  • In Cosmic Star Heroine, there's a warehouse acting as a side dungeon on Araenu; it has nothing of note except for some loot and monsters.
  • Die2Nite has ruins named "Warehouse" and "Disused Warehouse" that serve as special item spawn locations. Few of the items found at these abandoned buildings are rare, but nearly all of them are useful to the town in some way.
  • Level 1 of Disney's Hide & Sneak is set in a plethora of abandoned warehouses, where Mickey/Minnie begin their mission to rescue their loved one.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has an abandoned warehouse that seems just to be there to loot. Dragon Age II is set in a city chock-full of hiding places for gangs, cults, blood mages and serial killers.
    Fenris: These warehouses are occasionally used to store things... and not just for clandestine meetings.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series (III and onwards) feature plenty of abandoned warehouses for shootouts. A nice example is in Grand Theft Auto IV when Dimitri arranges with Niko to meet in an abandoned warehouse after Niko killed Faustin, only to have Dimitri turn on him and have a grand shootout.
  • In Half-Life 2, City 17 and the environs are full of old, rusty, decaying industrial works that have understandably been shuttered since the Combine invasion. There are a few warehouses and piers, but for some reason pride of place goes to the inordinate number of abandoned garages seen during the "Highway 17" chapter.
  • Halo 3 has the multiplayer map Foundry. Notably, it was the first multiplayer map built from the ground up to be customized in Forge. That, in turn, influenced its design, and a large open warehouse was a logical square shape which could then be filled with any combination of crates and such for terrain.
  • Hellgate: London warehouses have the same random layout and collection of enemies as any other maps, but with their specific texture and a few unbreakable crates thrown in for props/obstacles. They can be quite fun if you have an attack that ricochets, off walls, ceilings and floors.
  • In Left 4 Dead the survivors will usually pass through one or more warehouses on each level. They can be either abandoned or are crawling with infected.
  • In The Saboteur, La Résistance sets up one of its hideouts in the basement of a deserted slaughterhouse Those Wacky Nazis used as a base for their own before an Allied air raid.
  • Saints Row 2 has a district of abandoned warehouses, in various states of decay and occupation.
  • A large chunk of the levels in the Unreal series (especially the Tournament games) are described as being abandoned warehouses, factories, smelting plants, stress-testing labs, etc. that have been re-purposed as battle arenas.

    Webcomics 
  • Subversion: The Renegades in Elf Blood appear to live in an abandoned warehouse to prying eyes, thanks to judicious application of Pixie Glamour. Inside, however, it's reasonably homely and they live there quite comfortably. It's still a warehouse, though.

    Web Originals 
  • New Life SMP: As a Copper Golem, Sparrow moves away from his old campsite and settles in an abandoned factory, making use of the mechanical parts already there to build machinery and make more Copper Golems.
  • In Sailor Nothing, Dark General Radon demands to meet Himei in an abandoned warehouse after kidnapping her cat.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode "Double or Nothing", Albedo works on his "bomb" in an abandoned warehouse.
  • In Megas XLR, signs on buildings reading "Empty Warehouse", "Good thing this is abandoned", and "Abandoned Warehouse District" are common, since it's the writer's favorite trope to make fun of. There's also the "Gunpowder, Ball Bearing, and Shrapnel Factory", the local public school, and the PoP TV studio.
  • In Sheep in the Big City, Sheep tries to lose General Specific in the "Spotlight, Dry Ice & Ominous Music Warehouse."
  • The Simpsons:
    • Subverted in "Burns, Baby Burns". Homer and Larry Burns are being chased by the police (since they faked a kidnapping) and Homer suggests they hide in a nearby abandoned warehouse. They open the door only to find that it's full of people at work.
      Homer: D'OH! Stupid economic recovery!
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror XXXIV" segment "Ei8ht", the adult Lisa and Nelson, who are working as a criminal psychologist and police officer, respectively, are investigating a serial killer and track the killer's pattern to Ana Gram's Spooky Abandoned Warehouse, where the slogan is "If it's gotta be cryptic, it's gotta be Ana Gram's". There, Nelson gets murdered and Lisa learns she's the killer they're searching for, or more accurately, her trauma-induced split personality is.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
    • Michaelangelo asked in one episode why villains always chose to meet in abandoned warehouses. Raphael told him it was "because there aren't any old, abandoned luxury penthouses!"
    • Later, The Shredder subverts the trope by setting his hiding place in a hotel room and expecting the Turtles to look for him in abandoned warehouses.
  • The future Detroit of Transformers: Animated has a surprisingly large number of these, possible due to the "robot revolution" which made many human jobs redundant. The Autobots live in an abandoned warehouse/car factory, the Headmaster has his base in one, Lockdown was able to disguise his ship as one without anyone noticing, and Megatron found yet another one to meet Lockdown and collect Starscream from him. This is a bit justified because abandoned warehouses are one of the few places big enough to house giant robots comfortably.

 
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Sabrina and Vincent check out a deserted warehouse in Surrey during a manhunt.

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