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Almost Out of Oxygen

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"Your air supply is running out!"
Sparks, Rock Raiders

Dammit! The Spacecraft is damaged! The Submarine can't return to the surface! We're enclosed underneath a million tons of rocks! The oxygen will only last us 110 minutes!

Always Close to resolving their unfortunate predicament (the climax) the crew is nearly out of oxygen. Involves a type of Magic Countdown to increase tension.

Only Hollywood Science actually has people die from the lack of oxygen when in an airtight space. In shows where the science is harder, the protagonists are threatened by carbon dioxide poisoning instead.note  Of course, from the characters' perspectives, this generally doesn't make any difference.

It is also very possible to die from hypoxia per se. Compare Drowning Pit, Trapped in a Sinking Car, and Buried Alive which are deliberate Death Trap variants of this. See also Oxygen Meter, where this is used as a game mechanic.

May lead to a Cold Equation.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Lagoon: The crew of the German submarine the Lagoon crew are sent to loot in the third arc were stranded on the bottom of the Indian Ocean due to a diving accident. The protagonists find their corpses fifty years later, long dead from CO2 poisoning. It is never explained how the protagonists are able to breathe inside the submarine without their diving gear.
  • Used in a couple of Doraemon movies set Under the Sea, where for traveling underwater Doraemon would use one of his gadgets, the Adaptation Light, which allows the user to remain in the depths of the ocean for as long as 24 hours.
    • Doraemon: Nobita and the Castle of the Undersea Devil have Suneo and Gian going off on a reckless treasure hunt in the Bermuda Triangle, forgetting to re-apply the light and nearly suffocate and drown when the light's effects expires, if not for their new friend Eru arriving on time.
    • A later underwater adventure in the Marianas Trench, Doraemon: Nobita's Great Battle of the Mermaid King, have Shizuka being captured by The Dragon of the film's villain, and Doraemon and the boys must retrieve Shizuka as quickly as possible and reapply the light on her before she drowns, making it with 0.93 seconds to spare.
  • In Dr. STONE, the first of the ISS astronauts to attempt to return to Earth end up missing their intended destination by a country mile and land in the ocean, with their shuttle upside-down so they can't get out, and a limited supply of oxygen. Since everyone on Earth has been Taken for Granite, Byakuya has to land on a nearby island and use a rowboat to rescue them.
  • In Et Cetera it happens when the protagonists get trapped in an underground tunnel on their way to the Syndicate's base.
  • Green Box: Subverted. Sena considers if he needs more oxygen if the Green Box is airtight, but using magic to get the oxygen and the internet in appears to be one of the room's unwritten properties.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, when Jolyne and Weather Report get in a room affected with zero gravity, the air gets dissipated along with oxygen, causing their blood to boil. Weather Report quickly uses his Stand to give him and Jolyne cloud suits made from the remaining oxygen left.
  • One Piece: Caesar Clown, being a Logia user with the power to manipulate all types of gasses has the power to invoke this, in fact he does this quite often. It makes him incredibly dangerous despite his lack of any real fighting skill.
  • Planetes:
    • Used rather tragically in the climax. Cheerful Idealist Ai Tanabe is trying to make it to shelter across the lunar desert while carrying an injured companion who is also now a terrorist and criminal. Ai refuses to leave her behind, even though the extra weight is slowing her down and burning her oxygen faster. She doesn't make it to shelter before her air runs out, and is faced with the choice of taking the other person's oxygen tank so that she will survive, or letting them both die. She chooses not to take the oxygen; in the next clip we see her falling on the ground screaming and clawing at her throat while the terrorist sends up a flare gun to signal for help (ensuring her own capture and imprisonment). Ai is later seen to have survived, but is permanently damaged.
    • This scene plays differently in the manga — unlike the anime that loves to overplay the emotional side of things and add melodramatic episodes, it's much more casual and matter-of-fact. First, it wasn't Tanabe and Claire (who is an anime-only character), it was Hachimaki and his co-trainee for the Jupiter mission, Leonov, and there wasn't any animosity involved; and second, long before they run out of oxygen, they are saved by Tanabe and Yuri.
  • One dark Pokémon: The Series Japanese radio drama has Jessie and James as the only survivors of a spaceship crash. In a romantically tinged moment, Jessie and James talk about their relationship while Jessie runs out of oxygen.
  • Reborn! (2004): Tsuna was nearly killed due to lack of oxygen trapped in Hibari's Hedgehog's Needle Sphere Form as his Trial (The Vongola Trial demands the successor to be put under genuine life-threatening situation. Oh, not to mention being mind-raped). He passed, of course.
  • Space Brothers: While on the surface of the Moon, Hibito actually does run out of oxygen during a mission. He's only saved by the timely arrival of the BRIAN oxygenating rover, which allows him to refill his tanks before he passes out and suffocates.
  • In Speed Racer, button "F" on the Mach 5's steering wheel engages the car's "submarine" mode. The air tank on board the car only has enough oxygen for half an hour, though. At the end of one 2-parter, Speed and Trixie are trapped in the Mach 5 underwater when its oxygen tank is nearly empty. They're seen gasping for air and everything.

    Comic Books 
  • There's a variation in ElfQuest: Siege at Blue Mountain when Skywise gets magically trapped in a small air pocket inside solid rock, and doesn't know why it's getting hard to breathe. Fortunately Cutter is aware of his plight and working to get him out.
  • Human Torch #38: Professor Marko's Hydromatic Vacuum attempts to suck out all the air in the world, and is almost successful as people throughout the world gasp for air.
  • In Jo, Zette and Jocko album "The Stratoship H-22", during the test flight, one of the portholes of the stratoship gets loose and Mr Legrand and the pilot are out of oxygen.
  • One issue of Judge Dredd that took place on a moon colony (where oxygen was apparently a utility you had to pay for), the criminals escaped the Judges, only to learn that they were behind on their oxygen bill, resulting in the atmosphere of their hideout being vented. They all suffocated trying to escape.
  • Subverted in Last Daughter of Krypton. Supergirl believes she runs the risk of running out of oxygen while travelling across the galaxy towards Argo City. It's only several issues later that Kara discovers she doesn't need to breathe.
  • Tintin: This is a driving problem throughout Tintin: Explorers on the Moon; the oxygen supplies were meant for four people, but then it turns out they have two accidental stowaways (the Thompsons, who thought the launch was scheduled for 1.34pm, not 1.34am), and later still, a third, deliberate stowaway. It's solved in part by the Accidental Murder of the saboteur and Heroic Sacrifice of The Mole.
  • Too Much Coffee Man: TMCM's visit to the moon and the International Space Station has him gasping for air.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip featured a poem Calvin wrote about alien invaders who, rather than landing on Earth and conquering it, simply drained its oceans and atmosphere, while a crowd of people is seen shouting and gasping for breath.
    The tube then sucked up the clouds and the air,
    Causing no small amount of Earthling despair.
    With nothing to breathe, we started to die.
    "Help us! Please stop!" was the public outcry.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Battle for Terra, Jim runs out of Oxygen on his spacesuit, and the other protagonists have to synthesize it for him. Later in the movie, Jim has to choose between pumping Oxygen into a room to save his brother, or to pump the native air into a room to save the female protagonist. He takes a third option. Another example in the movie is when the terraformer activates, and it is stated that Terra will run out of Native Air, killing all native species, unless it is destroyed; however, the humans are running out of oxygen. The situation is resolved with Jim's heroic sacrifice, and a compromise between species.
  • Capture the Flag: Frank's space suit is running dangerously low on oxygen after he, Mike and Amy escape from Carson's moon base, hench why he is forced to go back to the moon lander and replace his oxygen tank, leaving Mike and Amy to take on Carson themselves. He barely makes it in time.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 12th Man: One man, two hours of oxygen, one escape pod, and 11 Ax-Crazy psychopaths who want it as much as he does.
  • The Abyss: Everyone gets to breathe a sigh of relief after The bomb is disarmed, but then suddenly, an oxygen check is asked for and the guy only has 5 minutes of oxygen left, and it took much longer than that to get down there...
  • In Angels & Demons, Langdon and an escorting guard visit the hermetically-sealed Vatican Archives when a rolling blackout shuts off the air filtration system and traps them inside, slowly suffocating them. They're surrounded by reinforced, bulletproof glass, so Langdon's solution to escape is to tip the massive bookshelves into each other and smash through. They end up passing out right when the shelf hits the glass to seemingly no effect... and after a few seconds of being under the weight, then the glass shatters, freeing them.
  • In Apollo 13, a central plot point is having them MacGyvering carbon dioxide filters from their command module into the ventilation system of the LEM. The filters and the ventilation system socket are different shapes.note  So the crew and Mission Control have to figure out how to (literally) fit a square peg in a round hole. All the more impressive because it's Based on a True Story and totally accurate.
    • Oxygen was also a critical problem in the opening minutes of the crisis, but not for the traditional reason. The dwindling liquid-oxygen supplies were also used to run the fuel cells that provided power (and drinking water) for the command/service module. They had plenty of breathing oxygen in the lunar module's tanks - but if they ran out of power before they could get the LM up and running...
  • Avengers: Endgame opens with Tony Stark and Nebula aboard the Guardians of the Galaxy's ship, the Benatar, about to run out of oxygen and food. Luckily, Captain Marvel appears to rescue them.
  • In the 1959 version of The Bat, Cora almost suffocates when the door of the secret room close, trapping her inside, and she cannot find the switch to open it.
  • Averted in Das Boot when the submarine is stuck underwater, but the crew has to be very careful to wear their breathing masks and monitor CO2 levels.
  • Averted in Event Horizon where it's not the lack of air that threatens the crew but the rising CO2 levels due to running out of usable air filters. Well, that and the ship being alive and trying to kill them.
  • In Galaxy Quest the Big Bad orders to suck the air out of the ship's residential area. The crew manages to reverse the effect just in time before everybody dies.
  • This initial crisis in Gravity — the space shuttle is destroyed by a cloud of orbiting debris. The only astronaut with a Jet Pack has to retrieve his companion who's been thrown into space, look for survivors, then tow them to the International Space Station before the oxygen in their suit packs run out.
  • Towards the end of the kung fu film, House of Fury, the Yue siblings' father, Master Yue, has been captured alive by his old rivals and is being locked in a decompression chamber draining of oxygen. The siblings, Nick and Natalie, have to Race Against the Clock fighting off enemy mooks to reach their father in time, which they thankfully succeed.
  • Tuck in Innerspace has a very limited supply of oxygen in his minisub, so Jack must get him (and the chips) back to the lab before it runs out.
  • Happens to Cooper in Interstellar. Dr Mann cracked his helmet and took the emergency supplies. And again, when he exits out of the black hole.
    • Humanity is suffering from this due to the Blight reducing the level of oxygen in the air to the point everyone is slowly suffocating.
  • In Morning Departure, running out of oxygen becomes a real risk for the four crew remaining on the crippled submarine after it is discovered the remaining breathing units were broken in the crash, and that speedy rescue may no longer be an option.
  • A Quiet Place Part II. There's a furnace set up as a panic room in the abandoned steel factory, with a timer to let you know when you're running out of air and need to open the door. While hiding from a creature, Marcus accidentally locks himself and the baby inside, and has to contemplate using the baby's oxygen to save himself. He doesn't, and fortunately his mother returns in time to open the door.
  • In Red Planet, Earth itself has run out of oxygen, so the main characters have to send oxygen producing algae to mars to create livable air. The main characters start to run out of oxygen in their habitation module, when one of the characters removes his helmet to find that Mars somehow has breathable air.
  • RocketMan (1997): Randall trades oxygen packs with Ulysses to give buy time for them to get back to the lander. Justified in that he just set a record for lung capacity, but he still nearly asphyxiates, and Overbeck lampshades the danger.
  • Spaceballs: Planet Spaceball attempts draining the air from Planet Druidia's atmosphere with the Mega Maid, and people are seen gasping even inside buildings.
  • In SpaceCamp, a shuttle full of teenagers accidentally gets launched during an engine test without enough oxygen for an actual mission.
  • In True Legend (2010), Ying, the wife of Su-Chan, gets captured by the main villain and Buried Alive in an airtight, coffin-sized metal box. Much of the film's climatic finale has Su-Chan battling enemies left and right and defeating the villain in a lengthy kung fu duel, but Su-Chan ends up killing the villain before extracting information on where his wife is buried. Unfortunately, by the time Su-Chan does find his wife and dig the metal box out, she had succumbed to loss of oxygen.

  • In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Nautilus is trapped under the Antarctic ice. Oxygen is not a problem, due to the Nautilus having plenty of electricity and water around, but without caustic potash to bind the CO2 the heroes are screwed anyway.
  • Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident is loaded down with action tropes, and accordingly applies this one while the imperiled character is surrounded by fiery plasma. However, it also mentions that it's rising carbon dioxide levels that's the danger.
  • In Doom, Fly and Arlene are trapped on Deimos, orbiting Earth, with a leak in the pressure dome. Oxygen is bleeding out but the facility is so large that it takes over a month before the air is dangerously low.
  • While exploring tunnels in an asteroid in Galaxy of Fear: Spore, our heroes get locked in and, according to their spacesuits, with only twenty minutes of breathable air remaining.
  • Have Space Suit – Will Travel: The protagonist Kip, who has a secondhand but well-designed spacesuit, and Peewee who has cheap tourist spacesuit, have to escape across the Moon's surface from the villains who kidnapped them. The problem is that Peewee only has one full bottle on her spacesuit, so Kip has to keep filling hers with the air from his own suit, and his oxygen bottles are the screw-in type while Peewee's have bayonet sockets. He's able to jury rig a connection using hose and surgical tape.
  • In The Planeteers: The Tenth World, Penton and Blake visit a planet that is too cold to have gaseous oxygen. They're trapped away from their spaceship by alien monsters, and find that they're using up oxygen faster than expected because of the planet's high gravity. (The same story also has Blake getting drunk on too much oxygen after his valve malfunctions.)
  • The Seventh Tower: When a Magic Misfire traps Tal and Crow within an airtight barrier, each considers killing the other to improve their chance of surviving until the barrier dissipates. Neither does, and they fall unconscious from oxygen deprivation, but wake up in safety.
  • Spaced Out (2016): After racing through a space junk shower on the lunar surface, Dash finds his oxygen level is dropping at an alarming rate. He barely manages to make it back inside of Moon Base Alpha before his oxygen supply runs out. It's later revealed that one piece of space junk tore a hole in his suit, which caused his oxygen to leak out.
  • The Space Trilogy: In the first book Out of the Silent Planet, Ransom, Weston, and Devine have only ninety days to get home with a limited supply of oxygen. The characters move and speak as little as possible in order to reduce their respiration, and they only barely make it.
  • In the first Starbridge novel, the three main characters are on a small spaceship when most of the oxygen-generating plants up and die. As they are too far out now to either reach their destination or turn back, their only hope is to search for an oxygen-bearing planet to harvest some plants for oxygen production before it's too late.
    • One of the characters, who is a medical doctor, gives a much more accurate than usual description of what they can expect when the oxygen gets too low.
  • Magic isn't supposed to be able to save you from vacuum if you're Thrown Out the Airlock, but Damien from Starship's Mage is no ordinary mage. When he and Grace are cast into deep space by an explosion, he manages to create an impermeable shield to hold their oxygen, while Grace (also a mage) cycles carbon dioxide into oxygen.
  • Under the Dome by Stephen King provides an Earth based example: A giant fire is consuming the entire town and, due to the fact that there is very little oxygen intake into the dome, it becomes very hard to breathe.
  • Warlocks of the Sigil: Quinn during his swimming lesson, Kole can't help because of her leg he manages to summon an air bubble

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100:
    • The Ark not having enough oxygen to sustain the life of their population is the entire reason that The 100 are sent to the ground.
    • In Season 2, people from Mount Weather can't survive on the radiation-soaked Ground without wearing a Hazmat suit. On several occasions, they run into trouble when their suits' oxygen tanks start running out before they can get back to safety.
  • Batman (1966): The cliffhanger of one episode has this. Batman and Robin are tied up in a room while the Penguin has his mooks remove all the air from the room with a "giant reversing bellows".
  • The Blacklist: Samar is buried alive and rescued moments before she would have died. Unfortunately she was still deprived of oxygen too long and suffers progressive, irreversible brain damage.
  • Blake's 7
    • "Time Squad": While answering a Distress Call Blake and Jenna get sealed inside a tiny spacecraft whose oxygen has already been used up. Despite being barely familiar with the Liberator at this point in the series, and their Ace Pilot stuck on the spacecraft with Blake, the others have to scoop the craft into their cargo bay so it can be broken into.
    • "City at the Edge of the World": Vila and Kerril are unexpectedly teleported to an automated spacecraft, where a recorded voice informs them they will remain alive only as long as the air that was teleported with them lasts. When they don't die as expected, Vila realises that air is filtering through the Forcefield Door from a habitable planet outside, as the spacecraft has reached its destination.
    • "Headhunter": Orac puts Scorpio into Lock Down to prevent the Monster of the Week from escaping. It responds by shutting down life support, but fortunately the crew get into rescue suits in time. Avon then has to break quarantine to rescue them, as the suits have limited oxygen supply.
    • "Assassin": Our heroes seize the spaceship of a Professional Killer, who escapes and shuts off the life support remotely, forcing them to split up and search in the limited time they have left.
    • "Warlord": Xenon Base is sabotaged; bombs destroy the teleport and all entrances, yet the ventilation is left intact to spread a lethal virus. So the people trapped inside have to shut down life support leaving them with air for around 20 hours, and it will take at least four days to dig themselves out.
    • "Hostage": Travis locks our heroes in an airlock and starts to pump out the air. Vila wants to know how many minutes they have left before they die of oxygen deprivation. Avon's reply? "I'll let you know."
  • Bones has an episode where Brennan and Hodgins are buried alive with a limited amount of air. They manage to jury-rig a carbon dioxide filter out of commonly available equipment.
    • Not to mention puncturing the tires to release more oxygen.
  • In the Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episode "Avalanche," a network of missile complexes is attacked, and those inside are killed by what at first appears to be some sort of poison. The team sent in to investigate scans for all manner of poisonous gasses, but finds nothing. Then one of them takes off his breathing mask, and quickly discovers that all the oxygen has been removed.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Planet of the Daleks": On the planet Spiridon, the TARDIS is threatened by plants that shoot a fungus which covers her exterior and, in an inversion of New Powers as the Plot Demands, starves her of oxygen, forcing the Doctor to rely on some convenient bottled oxygen...which is also running out. Never mind that the TARDIS is a spacecraft as well as a time machine, so should have a sealed environmental system.
    • "Smith and Jones": A hospital is teleported onto the Moon — thankfully the air's kept in a bubble around the building. Of course, that doesn't mean the oxygen won't start to run out...
    • "Orphan 55": Traversing a series of low-oxygen tunnels to safety, the Doctor's Motor Mouth nearly gets her asphyxiated as she runs out of air faster than everyone else. Fortunately, she discovers that the Dregs exhale oxygen, allowing her to refill her air supply.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: A non-science fiction example, the Season 4 episode "Dukescam Scam" is a Locked In A Vault episode where Uncle Jesse and series antagonist Boss Hogg accidentally become trapped in an airtight vault and a race against time ensues for series heroes Bo and Luke to find the only man who knows the combination to the vault. Viewers are constantly reminded how much time before the one hour's worth of air runs out.
  • The Expanse: Both forms of this trope are in full effect, and often. While carbon dioxide poisoning is a constant threat, there are several instances where air begins to leak out into space as well, threatening the characters with a nasty cocktail of suffocation, sub-zero temperatures and vacuum exposure. The Expanse is well noted for both the original authors and show writers for having Shown Their Work, with much of the science being knocked right out of the park in terms of accuracy and terror.
  • Farscape: In one episode, D'Argo (who can survive in the vacuum of space for fifteen minutes) and Crichton (who is in a damaged suit) are stranded when Crais jumped away with Talyn.
  • Firefly: Subverted in "Out of Gas", where River points out that they'll freeze to death well before suffocating.
    River: You're afraid we're going to run out of air. That we'll die gasping. But we won't. That's not going to happen. We'll freeze to death first.
  • Odyssey 5: In the pilot, a shuttle crew in orbit is faced with this, on account of Earth going boom while they are up there.
  • Red Dwarf: In "Quarantine", the quarantined crew members are sentenced to two hours WOO (With Out Oxygen). It actually implies the carbon dioxide problem; all that's said is that the air will 'become unbreathable'. Of course, this isn't a problem as they escape quickly enough.
  • Sanctuary: In "Requiem", Magnus is shown trapped in a room with computer monitors indicating both falling oxygen levels and lethally increasing amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • The Silent Sea: After the astronaut's ship crash-lands on the moon, the astronauts have to walk seven kilometers to Balhae Station moon base. They just barely make it, with their O2 tanks down to 1% and multiple astronauts gasping for air by the time they enter the moon base and hook up to the station's oxygen stores.
  • Stargate SG-1: When Teal'c and O'Neill are trapped in a hybrid Goa'uld-human Space Fighter stuck on autopilot, the main problem is finding a way to retrieve them before they run out of air. By the time the rest of the team reaches them (in a tel'tak shuttle), O'Neill is delirious from lack of oxygen (Teal'c is in a deep meditation in an attempt to conserve air).
  • Stargate Universe: The three-part pilot is titled "Air", after the first struggle they face on board the ship. There are major leaks spilling the air out into space which had to be fixed, one in a seemingly unreachable spot. Once they fix that, they find out the carbon dioxide scrubbers aren't working. D'oh.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise
    • "Shuttlepod One": Trip Tucker and Malcolm Reed find debris of what they wrongly assume to be the crashed starship Enterprise on an asteroid. Because of the limited oxygen supply and reach of the shuttlepod, they believe they're stranded in space and try to face their oncoming deaths in their own conflicting ways.
    • "Minefield": When a Romulan mine attaches itself (and Reed) to the Enterprise, Reed becomes convinced that the bomb can't be disarmed in time, so he detaches his air supply hose. However, Archer simply shares his air supply, tells him to knock off his attitude and keep walking him through disarming the bomb.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Day of Honor", Tom and B'Elanna are adrift in spacesuits after their shuttle is destroyed. Turbulence soon punctures one oxygen tank, forcing them to share. By the dialogue, the other oxygen tank should have been enough to provide for both of them for a very long time, but it was also (albeit less critically) damaged by the same turbulence.
    Paris: When we first met you didn't have a very high opinion of me.
    Torres: That's putting it mildly. I thought you were an arrogant, self-absorbed pig.
    Paris: Flattery won't get you any more oxygen.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): In "The Man Who Could Not Die", Diana Prince is tied up and trapped in her garage with the car left on in order to kill her. She escapes her bonds just in time to transform into Wonder Woman, she does the spinning... but passes out entirely mid-spin! Bryce Candle, the titular man who could not die, arrives in the nick of time!

  • Done in Sega Pinball's Apollo 13, for the "CO2" Mission.
  • The "Trunk Escape" from Theatre of Magic, which locks the magician in an underwater trunk, then gives players a limited air supply (time limit) to complete the illusion.

  • In The BBC's 1980s science fiction drama Earthsearch the four heroes have left their starship in a shuttle to explore another, apparently derelict, ship. On the way back they discover that a robot (planted by a defeated bad guy from an earlier episode) has taken control of their own ship and is flying it away. It turns out they have enough fuel to catch up... eventually, but only after their air has run out. As if that wasn't bad enough, said robot then sets out from their ship under its own power to finish them off anyway. Fortunately this provides the answer to both their problems - the crew discover that the villain had upgraded the shuttle with plasma cannons, and once they've destroyed the robot they realise they can turn the shuttle around and accelerate backwards using the plasma cannons' recoil.
    • In an earlier episode a computer controlling the environment in a lunar dome determined that the four humans were a threat and started pumping the air out. Luckily they managed to talk it out of it just in time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Alien: The Roleplaying Game tracks assorted "Supplies," like food, water, power, and air. The Game Mother can call for Supply checks when appropriate, where you roll the number of Supply in Stress dice, each 1 that comes up costs you one of that Supply. So as your Supply gets lower, the odds of it going down again decrease... but if it does go down, you'll be dangerously low, if not out completely.
  • One Paranoia mission features an airtight elevator car on a slo-o-ow nonstop trip to the 99th floor. Do the Troubleshooters choose to laser some holes in the elevator car, or in their teammates who are treasonously using up all the oxygen?

  • Aida: A lethal version occurs in the finale between Aida and Radames, set to the reprise of "Enchantment Passing Through".

    Video Games 
  • This becomes a game mechanic in games that use an Oxygen Meter.
  • In Among Us, one of The Imposter's sabotage options is to disable the oxygen, requiring Crewmates to go fix it before it runs out completely.
  • Astroneer: A common occurrence when you stray too far from a supply source. Your backpack contains around 70 seconds of air on its own, and visual cues will warn you when you reach 50%, 25%, and near empty. Once the suffocation warning pops up, you have around ten more seconds to reach a source before you expire.
  • As the Death in the Water series is set entirely in underwater trenches, you'll be constantly searching for spare oxygen tanks when your current tank's meter starts depleting. Fail to procure one on time and you'll lose a life.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze adds an Oxygen Meter for the first time in the series. As diving underwater, the Kongs must touch air bubbles or items surrounded by air in order to replenish the meter.
  • In Elite Dangerous the player has a limited reserve of Oxygen (depending on their life support, anywhere from 5-25 minutes) that turns on when their ship's Canopy is breached. If you fail to enter a station's airlock before the timer runs out, your ship explodes. For added difficulty, a canopy breach renders a large portion of the Diegetic Interface - crosshair, ETA, target position, etc - invisible as the holograms have nothing to project against.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, both the player's ship and enemy ship have oxygen systems that maintain oxygen throughout the ship, and rooms that don't have oxygen in them will quickly drain the health of everyone in that room (with some minor exceptions). This trope comes into play when the player's oxygen system is damaged (or worse, breached) and the crew are otherwise distracted; running from the medbay to the oxygen system to patch up the room and restore functionality, all while the global ship supply drops below 10% capacity, can be harrowing.
  • A Hat in Time: When Hat Kid swims in water for too long, she'll start drowning.
  • In Iron Lung your submarine will routinely inform you of your oxygen levels as you progress. This only drops with game progress, not in real-time, so you will inevitably be on the brink of running out at the end of the game.
  • Agent 5 has only ten minutes of oxygen to escape the Mars Maze in The Journeyman Project. The game gives you very Nightmare Fuel-inspired hints that you're running low; first the music slows down and fades out, then a loud heartbeat fades in, and finally adds in panicked, heavy breathing.
    • The second game, Buried in Time also does this when exploring a damaged space station, as your oxygen supply slowly depletes with every few moves you make, and only a few areas have air inside them.
  • Oxygen Not Included: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Finding oxygen-containing caves and ways to generate oxygen is a large part of the gameplay.
  • The Persistence:
    • Certain loot chests can only be opened after running through a damaged portion of the ship that's had all its oxygen sucked out. You'll take continuous damage until you get past the door to where the chest is, which is always conveniently secure.
    • The mandatory section of the third floor requires you to go through a part of the ship with a gaping hole that opens up into the void of space. Like the chest rooms, you'll have to be quick running through before the damage from suffocation gives you a game over.
  • Pikmin (2001): When Captain Olimar crash-lands on a planet that totally isn't Earth, he has thirty days to repair his ship before he runs out of breathable air. Inverted in that in Olimar's case, oxygen is the poison that's going to kill him.
  • In Rock Raiders, most of the later caverns have a limited oxygen supply, and Sparks will continually warn: "Your air supply is running out!" until you build enough Support Stations to maintain the oxygen levels. The actual point is when he starts saying, "Your air supply is running low." and you can hear a heartbeat over the background music.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog series, you can only stay underwater for a limited amount of time and when you're out of oxygen, the Magic Countdown appears and the music starts playing.
  • As if Spelunker wasn't Nintendo Hard enough, its levels also ran on a timer—the eponymous spelunker's air supply. There are some powerups to refill the air meter, but good luck getting to them.
  • In Subnautica, there is a high possibility of this occurring while harvesting resources or trying to escape danger.
  • Sunless Sea: The Zubmariner expansion has an oxygen meter whenever you've submerged, which can be refilled by resurfacing and finding vents in the zeefloor. It lowers slowly, so there's usually little risk of running out unless there's a fire on board or you're distracted, but if you get low on it you will have to resort to desperate measures to consume less, including ejecting wounded crewmen through the airlock.
    The crew complain of headaches. The air is heavy and stultifying. Conversations slur.
  • X Universe: If you eject from your ship with your Spacesuit, a O2 indicator will appear in your info. It tells you how many percents of oxygen you still have, and it takes about 2 hours to deplete it. And when it happens, you blow up.
    • In the plot of X3: Reunion, you end up in a damaged Spacesuit after your Goner transporter is destroyed by Yaki. The player has 90 seconds to reach the 3 km distant Truelight Seeker. As if it wasn't enough, you're inside of an Asteroid Thicket. Since the maximum speed of a suit is 12 m/s, the time is barely sufficent.
      Computer: "System operational. Visor failure detected."
      Julian: "This just keeps getting better."

    Web Comics 
  • In The Lydian Option, the Tha'Latta use venting the atmosphere as a method of quelling prison riots in their asteroid prison — killing all of the prisoners inside. The human prisoners are forced to seek an escape facing an imminent venting.

    Western Animation 
  • Final Space: The whole first season features the main character, Gary, reflecting on the various events that occurred over the course of ten minutes while leaking oxygen from his spacesuit in each opening. Said events lead up to his and his crew's failure to save the planet Earth from the Titans' annihilation.
  • Futurama: In "Love and Rocket", the Planet Express ship computer (which has developed a crush on Bender and gone completely insane) cuts off the oxygen supply, so Leela and Fry have to wear spacesuits while they try to switch it off. Fry notices that Leela's air tank is running low, so he sacrifices his own oxygen to keep her alive. He gets better.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks:
    • "Veritas": When he wakes up on the outer hull of the Romulan warship, Rutherford finds Billups delusional from nitrogen intoxication, with only a minute of air left in his tank.
    • "Hear All, Trust Nothing": An EMP by the Karemma knocks out power on the Cerritos as well as Deep Space Nine. The girls at the Awkward First Sleepover Mariner is attending immediately panic about it being hard to breathe. She thinking they're overreacting before she discovers the candles they made is actually burning oxygen twice as fast. She solves this problem by stunning them with her phaser, along with herself and her girlfriend Jennifer... mere seconds before the power came back.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Water War", Anakin gets jumped by a Quarren soldier who pulls his helmet off before Anakin kills him, and nearly drowns trying to get it back while fighting before Ahsoka returns it.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Played with in "The Call", where the atmosphere of the mining field is breathable for some species, but the Clouzon-36 needs to be filtered out for humans. When Ezra is knocked into the crater, he loses his helmet and starts to suffocate. Thankfully, he manages to communicate with the purrgil, who grab his lost helmet.

    Real Life 
  • The sinking of the Kursk. In a tragically ironic twist, it was the emergency oxygen generators reacting violently with water leaking into the sub that killed off the final survivors.
  • Hypoxia is a very real danger to people who operate at high altitude, such as mountain climbers and pilots. Though in this case it's not so much "running out" of oxygen as simply not getting enough of it from the atmosphere to begin with. One of the symptoms of hypoxia is a sense of euphoria, or a feeling of everything being a-ok. Hence, a piece of advice to novice pilots: If everything seems to be going well, check your oxygen.


Video Example(s):


Mariner Saving the Oxygen

Jennifer actually finds her friends as annoying as Mariner does, and was hoping that she'd tear them a new one. When Mariner starts stunning them all to conserve oxygen, she is giddy.

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Main / InLoveWithYourCarnage

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