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Bookcase Passage

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Villain: I wish for the entire wall to rotate, turn upon its axis. Roundy-round!
Builder: Why?
Villain: I just do.

At least 90% of all Cool Houses have featured one of these, particularly historic buildings such as castles, manors, and Victorian mansions. A Bookcase Passage is where a Secret Room or a Secret Underground Passage is hidden behind a bookcase or triggered by the removal or manipulation of a book in a bookcase. The title of the book used as the hidden switch may be a clue or a joke.

It doesn't have to involve books; it could be any kind of hidden or secret passage with a disguised door. It just tends to be behind bookcases an awful lot. Another common form is where the passage is hidden behind a fireplace or painting, and activated by a lever of some kind, which is often hidden under or behind a decorative object, such as a small statue. The switch is often found using a Luck-Based Search Technique.

Occasionally, there's a gag where two characters go back and forth through the passage and keep missing each other because they're on opposite sides of the bookcase. This is most likely to happen when the bookcase doubles as a revolving door — a common design decision.

See also: Book Safe, Concealing Canvas, Missing Floor (for secret floors in a building), and Strange Secret Entrance (for ways to hide the entrance to a place).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The discovery of one leads to the solution to a murder in Case Closed, which has at least two mysteries surrounding old houses and the secret passage(s) therein.
  • In The Castle of Cagliostro, Fujiko enters the passage via a bookcase in the castle's library which leads to a fireplace in another room, which leads to an observation room behind the Count's office, equipped with a Portrait Painting Peephole.
  • Digimon Universe: App Monsters: The heroes discover a hidden passage in the local bookstore owned by one of their friends' family. It becomes their secret headquarters with the permission of that friend, while the rest of the family remains oblivious to the fact that they have a huge basement just below their store.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), Fuhrer Bradley has one in his office, leading to an elevator to Dante's secret base.
  • Shuchi'in Academy's library has one of these leading to an old lookout tower in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Karen accidentally comes across it during the culture festival, which puts her in the perfect position to spot Kaguya and Shirogane's First Kiss.
  • Queen Millennia: There's an elevator behind the closet in Yayoi's room to the alien underground jungle, with her parents none the wiser until the present.
  • Smile PreCure!: By moving the books on any bookshelf in a very particular way, the bookcase itself becomes a Cool Gate where the destination is based on what or where the traveler is thinking about. This aspect is Played for Laughs in episode 6 where Miyuki has a Teleporter Accident just because she saw a penguin on a book's cover as she's walking through the door and lands in the South Pole! Don't worry about her too much because Exposed to the Elements was thankfully in play.

    Comic Books 
  • In Sandman Mystery Theatre, Wesley Dodds' basement lab is reached through one.
  • The Batcave in comics-continuity has its access passage hidden behind a large grandfather clock. The traditional trigger to open it is to set the time on the face to the moment of his parents' deaths.
  • In Tintin: Land of Black Gold Dr. Müller's study has a trapdoor entrance hidden in the fireplace. The trope is Played for Laughs in the Animated Adaptation.
    Thomson and Thompson: [together] We think you're smuggling drugs!
    [Ben Salaad's henchman, Allan, emerges from a hidden bookcase entrance leading to their opium cellar, and proceeds to crush Ben Salaad behind the bookcase in the process]
    Allan: RUN FOR IT, OMAR!
  • Commando. In "Castle of Darkness", a couple of British spies are about to be discovered in a castle in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, but one finds a secret passage in the room they're in. He used to be a joiner before the war, so he could see where the wall panels didn't fit together properly.
  • Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1968): The Tower of Terror, in the grounds of Castle Ravenlock, has a secret passageway concealed within a real iron maiden. That combination ends badly, as Fury jams the secret door - a villain then calls the castle's 'hell hound' to attack Fury, before trying to escape through the iron maiden. The hound crashes into the iron maiden, slamming it closed and skewering him.
  • In the Wallace & Gromit comics, Wallace finds one in "The Curse of the Ramsbottoms", activated by the eponymous book. It leads to Rhett Leicester's secret evil lair.
  • In The Supergirl Saga from the Superman comic book titles in 1988, The Pocket Universe Superboy's secret lab is discovered by Lana Lang accidentally touching a brick in the wall of the Kents' house's basement.
  • In Red Robin, Tim designs his loft so that the access to his underground garage, gym and first aid set up is a sliding panel in between two built-in bookcases.
  • Parodied in Paperinik New Adventures in a second series issue: Lyonard's home includes a secret room perfectly hidden behind a bookcase passage... but one of the books has a tag with "Secret Passage" written on it because Lyo never remembered which book acted as a lever.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, Tantalus Lulamoon has one of these in his manor that conceals a tunnel that leads to the Canterlot Underground.
  • In the Facing the Future Series, upon becoming mayor of Amity Park, Tucker established an underground ghost-fighting bunker underneath City Hall that's accessed through an elevator behind the the bookcase in his office.
  • As expected of a mysterious, ancient Boarding School, the St. Hetalia Boy's Academy of Outcast contains one such passage. It's located in the private rooms of Student Council Historian (and secret member of the Founders) China, and is revealed by pulling the arm of the replica terra cotta soldier.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Igor, when the main character and his sidekicks are being chased and seemingly have no way out, Brain starts fiddling with the wall, looking for a secret passage. Igor tells him not to bother, there isn't any secret passage. He bangs the opposite wall in frustration, only to hit the switch for a secret stairway.
  • In Wind in the Willows, there is a secret entrance/exit in Toad Hall, between the parlor inside and a river dock outside, that rotates when a button is pressed.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Addams Family. Because, you know, they live in a haunted mansion. And the book switch? Greed.
  • Batman Begins, like the live-action TV, feature a bookcase secret passage. It's enhanced into a safe vault locked by a fingerprint lock in The Dark Knight. Begins gets bonus points — the trigger is plunking out a couple of notes on the nearby piano.
    • Lucius Fox also has a secret elevator behind one of these that goes direct to Applied Sciences.
  • There is a safe concealed behind a bookcase in the library in The Beast with Five Fingers.
  • The protagonist of The Best Offer has a secret cabinet hidden behind his wardrobe.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers and Black Widow are exploring a bunker that was once S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters when Steve finds an elevator hidden behind a movable file cabinet. The elevator leads to the hidden complex holding the computer with Dr. Arnim Zola's mind.
  • The secret passages from the board game also appear in Clue; while in the game no indication is made of how or where the passages are concealed other than in the corners of rooms, in the film each is hidden in fairly unique ways. The passage from the study to the kitchen opens through a rotating painting in its frame and the back of a cold cupboard, while the passage from the conservatory to the lounge opens through a brick wall next to a set of shelves and...a rotating fireplace. Also, the ordinary doors of the library are disguised as bookcases, which surprises Colonel Mustard when they are closed.
  • The store security room turns out to be hidden behind a shelf and false wall in Cornered!.
  • In Curse of the Crimson Altar, one of the secret tunnels to the witch room is concealed behind a bookcase in the library.
  • The Equalizer 2. Robert McCall is shown to be Crazy-Prepared and love reading, so it's no surprise he has a panic room hidden behind a bookcase in his apartment. When the villains turn up there looking for him, he talks Miles (who is painting his apartment) how to activate it (by removing Native Son and pressing the button it's concealing). However the villains suspect the room is there and trick Miles into thinking they have left so he leaves the panic room.
  • Subverted in Inferno. When the Palazzo Vecchio is surrounded by police, Sienna is impressed when Langdon quickly finds an escape passage behind a painting, only for Langdon to point out that he was shown it in the official tour.
  • Death Line: While searching Manfred's house, Inspector Calhoun and Sergeant Morris find a secret room hidden behind a bookcase in Manfred's library. The room contains a video setup that Manfred used for secretly filming his bedroom.
  • In Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, Simon Little has a secret passage concealed behind a bookcase in his basement. Cueball uses it on multiple occasions to slip out when the building is under police surveillance.
  • Used to access KAOS headquarters in the 1989 Get Smart TV movie. The fact that the Doppelgänger posing as Seigfried doesn't know the 'book combination' is used to expose him as an imposter.
  • In The Ghost and Mr. Chicken Luther Higgs discovers one of these by throwing a book at it. It later turns out to play a vital part in solving a twenty-year-old murder mystery.
  • In the movie serials The Green Hornet and The Green Hornet Rides Again, the secret passage leading to the Black Beauty's garage is hidden behind a chest of drawers in Britt Reid's bedroom.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has two.
    • The fireplace version is used when Indy and his father are tied up in a burning room.
    • A variation occurs when a descending flight of stairs appears after Indy's father leans back in a chair.
  • Used in several Buster Keaton films (The Haunted House, Neighbors (1920), One Week, Sherlock, Jr.).
  • James Bond
    • In Dr. No, the secretary of MI6's man in Jamaica has a radio concealed inside a fake bookcase.
    • In the Bond parody Casino Royale (1967), Femme Fatale Spy Marta Bond finds one in the toilet. As she's rotated around to the other side of the wall she quips, "First john I've ever gone round with."
    • Live and Let Die has Bond enter the Filet of Soul restaurant that acts as a front for Big Bad Mr. Big's operation. Bond sits at a table while casing the joint, only for the wall behind him to spin around and send him right to Mr. Big's office. It's subverted later on when 007 enters another Filet of Soul location and, clearly remembering what happened last time, takes a seat as far away from the back wall as possible… only for a trap door to open beneath him.
    • The Car Chase in Octopussy ends when Vijay drives his auto-rickshaw through a large movie poster concealing the door to a British Intelligence safehouse. Another poster automatically slides down over the torn poster, so when The Dragon arrives moments later it looks like they vanished into thin air.
  • In King of the Zombies, the entrance to Dr. Sangre's secret voodoo lair is concealed behind a bookcase.
  • A lot of the secret doors of Kingsman: The Secret Service open this way. One particular example is the entrance from the tailor's shop, which opens by pulling a particular hanger.
  • The Last Leprechaun: Ethel and Tommy use a passage hidden behind the fireplace. They later use a passage behind a bookcase to go to the basement.
  • The Matrix Reloaded has one in the Merovingian's chateau that leads to the dungeons.
  • In Mermaid Down, a bookshelf on Dr. Beyer's boat turns into the door to the chamber where he dissects his victims alive if you pull on a lever disguised as the biography of H.H. Holmes.
  • In Prince Caspian, the eponymous prince has a secret passage hidden in the wardrobe of his bedroom. The film doesn't make it entirely clear where the passage leads, but quite possibly to the stables.
  • The Princess: The Princess uses a couple secret passageways to sneak around the castle.
  • The Rocketeer: Neville Sinclair's mansion has one for his Nazi communications room.
  • Shanghai Knights has the fireplace version.
  • Moriarty has one in his hideout in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon. It even comes with a trap for anyone who tries to follow him through it.
  • In A Study in Terror, the Duke of Shires enters and leaves his library through a passage concealed behind a bookcase.
  • In Theatre of Death, a passage concealed behind a bookcase in Davras' library leads to his secret lair in the attic.
  • In Transylvania 6-5000, Odette enters the library and sneaks up on Gil via secret passage from the Mad Scientist Laboratory under the castle that is concealed behind a bookcase.
  • In TRON: Legacy, it's an Arcade Game Cabinet Passage.
  • In Underworld (1927), there’s a secret hideaway behind the bookcase.
  • The seventh Wee Sing video The Marvelous Musical Mansion takes place in a mansion that has a bookcase secret passage of the sort where the person who triggers the door is flipped around to the other side. In this case, the viewer does not get to see what is behind the bookcase door but hears explosively lively band music coming from within.
  • In What a Carve Up!, there are multiple bookcase passages in the library. One leads to the music room; another to the vaults.
  • In X2: X-Men United, Xavier's School for the Gifted was shown to have secret passages hidden along the hallways.
  • Young Frankenstein has one of these, where the characters think one of the books must activate it, but can't find the right one, so one of them grabs a candle from the wall to bring more light, and that activates it.

  • There's one in the library of Wyrdhurst Hall in Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil, and it's triggered by removing a book from the shelf. The book on the trigger mechanism is a children's book, and the passage eventually leads to the nursery room where the daughter of the house was imprisoned by her father.
  • In the The Babysitters Club books, Dawn lives in a colonial-era farmhouse and discovers a secret passage leading from her own bedroom to the old barn.
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin initially expects one in the men's quarters at the palace, and is disappointed that his room has windows on every side except the one where the door to his sisters' quarters are, so there can't be any secret passage. (In the adventure novels he knows, there's always a secret passageway which the heroine uses to rescue her beloved from his abusive wives, or such.) Later, he is shown that there is a secret passage in the husband's quarters, previously inhabited by the princesses' late husband, Keifer. And discovers that it was used recently, even though there was no need to flee the palace...
  • These are prevalent in the book series based on the Clue board game. One book is even titled, "The Secret Secret Passage".
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • Lord Vetinari touches seemingly innocuous parts of the wall in order to open the secret passage to the "apartment" where Leonard of Quirm lives. It also includes an Indiana-Jones-style security system (or perhaps not).
    • Averted in Guards! Guards!, where Vetinari reveals he didn't utilize a similar passage in the prison cell where he is being held because it feels too much like running away.
      Vetinari: Never trust a ruler who puts his faith in tunnels and bunkers and escape routes. The chances are that his heart isn't in the job.
      • In the same book, however, he probably does utilise secret passages later when pulling The Cat Came Back on the increasingly unhinged villain. The villain is quite sure there aren't any secret passages, but as Lord Vetinari later observes, this fails to grasp an essential truth about secret passages.
    • There's a secret passage in the ratcatchers' headquarters in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Locating its trigger is delayed by Malicia insisting that you're supposed to give up looking, and then you trigger it by accident.
    • Averted in Maskerade, where everyone is certain that the Opera Ghost's secret passage into Box Six must be very cleverly hidden because they've searched the box several times and can't find it, but he still gets in even though the door is locked. Granny Weatherwax looks the box over for a few minutes and comes to the conclusion that the reason they can't find the secret passage is that it doesn't exist: the Ghost has a copy of the key.
    • In Wintersmith, Roland reflects that one of the advantages of living in a castle is that when he barracades himself in his bedroom to escape his aunts, it stays barracaded. When the aunts shout through the door that they'll starve him out, he glances at the far wall, where there's a patch of lighter stone with a slightly crooked candlestick next to it, and thinks that there's many advantages to living in a castle.
  • In Doom: Hell on Earth, Fly finds the escape route of the chemist's basement hidden behind a bookcase. There was a fake book to operate it but the bookcase was blown to pieces before he could figure it out.
  • In Dragon Bones, Ward meets the local Friendly Ghost and Genius Loci, Oreg, who shows him a secret passage to Ward's own room that Ward had not known about. It is not entirely clear whether this passage existed before Ciarra and Ward needed a way to get back to the room - as a kind of Genius Loci, Oreg can influence the building quite a bit.
  • In The Dreamside Road, A camouflaged door in the Cloud family mausoleum hides the corridor leading to Aunt Sucora’s hidden room.
  • Elsabeth Soesten: In No Good Deed..., there's one in Cuncz's chambers in the castle at Leyen. Its presence is Lampshaded by Elsabeth when she finds it.
  • The Famous Five books contain many secret passages, but the most notable bookcase one is in Five Get into Trouble, where one shelf of a bookcase opens to reveal a secret room.
    One shelf of books seemed different from the others, less tidy, the books not quite so jammed together. Why should one shelf of books be different?
  • In one of the stories in The Incredulity of Father Brown, a decaying manor house occupied by an Impoverished Patrician family has a secret passage hidden by a fake bookcase filled with books about mythical and fraudulent topics. Father Brown is actually apologetic about it when he reveals it as the key to the mystery since it's precisely the kind of Gothic Horror touch he's spent the rest of the story deconstructing.
  • Two examples occur in the Greyfriars story "Billy Bunter's Christmas Party", with one secret passage and a secret trapdoor where the MacGuffin is hidden.
  • "The Hound (1924)": The protagonists are implied to have the single entrance to their underground macabre museum hidden behind a bookcase. The passage, in any case, is described as "the secret library staircase."
  • The secret stairway in Hawthorne's The House Of The Seven Gables.
  • A staple of many Gothic Horror stories; Ann Radcliffe, acknowledged Trope Codifier (along with Horace Walpole) of the genre, used them fairly often. One which figured particularly critically in the plot was that of The Italian.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Kull story "The Shadow Kingdom", Brule finds one in Kull's palace.
  • Laszlo Hadron and the Wargod's Tomb: Areton Sarm conceals the elevator to his treasure vault with one of these, much to Laszlo's delight.
  • In Mademoiselle de Scuderi by E. T. A. Hoffmann, the novella's villain Cardillac has a house that has a secret entrance/exit that allows him to slip out and murder while people think he's at work.
  • In The Mad King by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Blentz castle has a network of secret passageways, with entrances behind fireplaces and portraits, used by both the heroes and the villains.
  • At one point in Mairelon the Magician, Mairelon and Kim have to hide in a priest's hole hidden behind a bookcase when their attempt to burgle a library is interrupted by the arrival of another party seeking to steal the same item from the library. They then have to force themselves to not laugh when three more people show up to try to steal the same item over the course of a few minutes.
  • Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls: There's a secret path behind the fireplace in Mrs. Smith's room behind her fireplace. It's opened by pressing one of the fireplace bricks.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: A one-way mirror in the lead soprano's dressing room conceals a passage that leads to the Phantom's underground base. If lit from the front, it's an ordinary mirror; if lit from behind, Erik can appear in it.
  • In Andre Norton's The Prince Commands, Michael finds such a passage, in time for some Exact Eavesdropping.
  • The Radix: Instead of a petty bookcase, Prince Zaki uses a terrarium full of scorpions.
  • In The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne, the Amateur Sleuth comes to the conclusion that there must be a secret passage from the eponymous Red House to a nearby pavilion. But where in the house does it start? Well, it had better not be in the servant's quarters, because he can't go there without raising suspicion. And the same goes for the master bedroom and other guests' bedrooms and so on. In the end, the only place where he can go look without looking suspicious turns out to be the library. So he looks in the library, and sure enough, there it is! Behind a bookshelf and all.
  • Rivers of London: In Whispers Under Ground, a secret passage from the Underground tunnels is disguised as one of many bricked-up alcoves alongside the rails. Secret-door clichés are Lampshaded when Peter presses one of the bricks at random, thinking to get that corny idea out of the way... and it works!
  • The Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" centers around a secret room, accessed by a concealed panel in one wall.
  • Belamy has one in Skate the Thief that leads down to his basement and alchemy lab. Skate Lampshades the silliness of the design, recalling a memory of an older thief ridiculing the idea.
    “You probably won’t ever see one,” Haman had said, resettling his spectacles and reviewing the page in front of him, “since they fell out of style ages ago; people in this city learned fairly quickly what poor protections they were.”
  • In Something More Than Night, a melodramatic movie mogul's home features secret passages with the doors disguised as paintings and posters commemorating his movies, which also double as peephole paintings. It's suggested that he got the idea from one of his own movies, which did the more traditional bookcase opening, but he's not that much of a reader.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The Emperor had a whole network of secret passages and turbolifts installed when he refurbished the Imperial Palace. In The Thrawn Trilogy novel "The Last Command" Mara Jade is able to use her knowledge of this network to sneak up behind an Imperial commando team sent to kidnap Leia Organa Solo and her family.
    • In The Krytos Trap, Corran finds a turbolift hatch hidden in a hologram of the Emperor in a library on the Lusankya.
  • One of these crops up in The Tamuli, prompting Deadpan Snarker Stragen to deride the villain's taste in literature.
  • Thank You for Taking Care of our Enchanted and Haunted Castle: Apparently, a secret passage exists between the library and the kitchen, accessible by pulling out Guillaume le Clerc’s Bestiary from one of the bookcases.
  • In Unnatural Issue, Richard Whitestone's secret library and Work Room is concealed by a bookcase in his bedroom.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In ALF, Kate and Alf go to a creepy old house; after encountering a few scary tropes alone, Alf triggers a bookcase, sending him and Kate down a slide into the basement, where they find a control panel, as the house was used for horror movies. It also has a real ghost, though, albeit a friendly one.
  • Given a high-tech twist in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Hot Potato Soup": yes, the secret passage is behind a bookshelf, and yes, there's a certain book that's the trigger... by unsnapping a section of the spine to reveal a security keypad.
  • Altered Carbon. Suntouch has one, but it's been so poorly designed that it leaves scratches on the hardwood floor when opened/closed. Takeshi Kovacs spots it almost immediately.
  • Angel. In "Long Day's Journey", Gwen Raiden has one to her panic room, saying you should never pass up a good cliché.
  • The Barrier: Emilia has a hidden room behind one of her shop's shelves. The shelf itself holds controlled goods for which she doesn't have the proper papers, which make a convenient Infraction Distraction for any police force that shows up to search the store.
  • The way to the Batcave in the Batman (1966) TV series was hidden behind a bookcase (the switch is on a desk, however). Although the switch is concealed in a bust of William Shakespeare.
  • Batwoman (2019)
    • In the pilot episode, Kate Kane is in Bruce Wayne's old office and notices the display case holding Martha Wayne's pearls is in the wrong position on the bookcase. Where it should be, there's an indentation in the surface and a locking lug. Kate puts the case back in position and turns it, causing the hidden door to the Batcave elevator to open.
    • In "Off With Her Head", Mary Hamilton-Kane has worked out that Kate is Batwoman, and tries to activate the door she once saw Kate and Luke Fox going through by pulling out books at random like you would in the movies. When Luke asks what the hell she's doing, she has to feign an interest in reading The International Periodical of Technology and Innovation, Vol.2.
    • The cellar where Beth/Alice was held captive for 11 years is hidden behind a textbook example.
  • Played for Laughs in a first-season Blackadder episode where our heroes, running from assassins, accidentally discover a secret passageway by pulling a crucifix. Shortly afterward their pursuers enter the now empty room, quickly conclude that they must have gone through the secret passageway, pull the crucifix and follow them.
  • In the first three seasons of Chuck, at least one entrance to "Castle" is behind a stack of lockers.
  • Columbo: In "Dead Weight", the killer has a revolving bookcase in his house that he uses to conceal the Body of the Week until he has a chance to dispose of it.
  • In Criminologist Himura and Mystery Writer Arisugawa, the house of a kidnapped actor has a secret room hidden behind a bookshelf. Himura suspects something related to the bookshelf when he notices that the actor's wife refuses to look at it, and Arisugawa ends up opening it by accident while on an unrelated tangent. Said room is where the wife hid the actor's body after she accidentally killed him, only for it to mysteriously disappear.
  • The Crown (2016). Implied when Lord Altrincham is summoned to the tiny office of Assistant Private Secretary Martin Charteris to discuss his public criticisms of the Palace, only to have Queen Elizabeth II herself turn up. At the end of his audience, Lord Altrincham is asked to step outside for a moment, and when Charteris invites him back inside he's bemused to find that the Queen has somehow vanished, despite there only being one door.
  • CSI: NY: A closet Neo-Nazi in "Yahrzeit" keeps his horde of Holocaust memorabilia behind a bookcase that slides in front of the entrance. The investigators find it after Mac notices scratch marks on the floor.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Curse of Peladon", just about any torch on a wall can be lowered to activate a secret door.
    • In "Terror of the Zygons", Sarah Jane Smith finds a passage behind a bookcase, leading to the alien spacecraft under Loch Ness. She activates the opening mechanism by pulling out a book, which she could only reach via portable steps fetched for her by the villain.
    • In "The Curse of Fenric", the entrance to the secret lab under the church is concealed behind a bookcase in the crypt.
    • "Knock Knock": One of Bill's new housemates mentions that the old house they're moving into is just the place you'd expect to have one of these. It later transpires that the entrance to the tower, where the tenants had been told not to go, is hidden behind a bookshelf.
    • Hidden passages behind bookcases also appear in The Sarah Jane Adventures stories "Eye of the Gorgon" and "The Eternity Trap".
  • Father Brown: In "The Mask of the Demon", the Victim of the Week has a secret room concealed behind a bookcase that he uses to secretly film his Casting Couch assignations.
  • In a Throwaway Gag on Frasier, Niles explains that to get through the secret passage in his 3-story apartment, one must "poke Mrs. Dalloway on the bottom."
  • In the episode of Friends where Phoebe tries to meet Sting, she starts pulling books on his bookcase looking for a secret passage.
  • House of the Dragon: Rhaenyra Targaryen's bedroom at the Red Keep has a secret passage which leads to some door out of the castle that's not guarded. She and Daemon use this route to surreptitiously leave the Red Keep to go on their date in "King of the Narrow Sea".
  • Into the Badlands. In "White Stork Spreads Wings", The Widow escapes Quinn's attack on her Big Fancy House through a bookcase door opened by a key inserted into a fake book, meaning her pursuers—even though they know it's there—can't follow once it's shut.
  • In the original The Legend Of Zorro series, Zorro's massive fireplace is the entrance to the cave where he keeps Tornado.
  • The passage leading to Principal Rita's secret underground grotto/sea access on Mako Mermaids: An H₂O Adventure is hidden behind one of these. The book you have to pull to activate it is crushingly obvious. (Hint: it's the book on mermaids.)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Tar-Palantír has a secret Trophy Room hidden behind a bookcase than can be accessed only with a star-shaped sigil.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Blood Wedding", Barnaby finds a priest hole/secret passage concealed behind a bookcase. Most tellingly, the passage leads to the room where the first murder was committed.
  • Mission: Impossible: Used as a plot point in Season 4's "The Double Circle".
  • Deconstructed in That Mitchell and Webb Look, when a stereotypical Diabolical Mastermind tries to have one installed in his lair, only to be informed at length by the builder of the impracticality of his request. To start with, he wanted it put in a supporting wall, and the trigger would have been "this volume of Ms. Katie Price's 'Being Jordan'." He tries to go for the fireplace version, only to be told the fire will have to go unless he wants smoke everywhere. He eventually settles on a "nice, simple Trap Door." He gets one, albeit one that follows workplace safety guidelines to the letter, with automatic guard rails, a warning siren, and a countdown giving the victim lots of advanced warning to get out of the way.
  • In The Monkees episode "The Spy Who Came In From the Cool", there is a secret exit from the pawn shop through a harp case. Micky jokes that he thought it was through the accordion.
  • An early episode of NCIS has a bad guy whose secret computer room is hidden behind a sliding floor-to-ceiling bookcase. It's quite well done, too. The agents only spot it when McGee notices the high-speed Internet cable connection that goes behind the bookcase and vanishes into the wall.
  • In Season 4 of Person of Interest, Harold Finch is shown entering Team Machine's secret base by entering a specific code in a vending machine, which opens up to reveal a hidden doorway. The following season Harold and Reese have to get to their base quickly, only to be held up by someone trying to get a candy bar.
  • Player: Seong-gu has a secret room hidden behind his bookcase.
  • In Power Rangers: Dino Thunder Tommy has one of these leading to the home base of the Dino Thunder Rangers.
  • Psychopath Diary: In-woo has a hidden room full of weapons hidden behind his bookcase.
  • In the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Jeff gets trapped in an oubliette behind one of these.
  • In the Ripping Yarns episode "Whinfrey's Last Case" our intrepid hero is cornered in his hotel room with enemies approaching. Fortunately, he's in smuggling country, which means his small room has dozens of secret passages — his only problem is choosing which one to take.
  • In Stargate SG-1, one of these is featured in Merlin's Laboratory. Yes, THAT Merlin.
  • An episode of Warehouse 13 has an art collection behind a concealed door activated by turning a statue. The statue is so incongruous with the rest of the decor that Pete spots it immediately.
  • Get Smart. In "Weekend Vampire", our heroes accidentally activate the wall twice without realising what's going on, with Max and a villain who's listening behind the wall changing places behind an oblivious 99.
  • Daredevil (2015)
    • In "Regrets Only", Matt and Elektra break into a safe but can't find the MacGuffin they're looking for. Matt's super-senses then detect an electrical cable running behind the wall. He shows Elektra where the cable stops; there's a vase there that Elektra turns to open a door to a hidden vault. Elektra then takes credit for finding it. "I'm a genius!"
    • A variation in "The Dark at the End of the Tunnel", when Frank Castle realises Colonel Schoonover's toolshed has a false wall behind shelving that hides a Wall of Weapons.
    • In "Aftermath", Wilson Fisk is ostensibly under house arrest in a hotel penthouse but has a secret staircase behind a shoe rack in his bedroom closet that leads down to a secret command center where he can conduct meetings with Felix Manning and underlings without the FBI noticing.
  • In the Starsky & Hutch episode "A Body Worth Guarding," two fascists meet in a secret room hidden behind a sliding door with a bookcase in front of it.
  • Referenced in an episode of Happy Endings where Dave and Alex give their real-estate agent increasingly ridiculous requirements for their new apartment. She finally finds one that meets almost all of them, aside from this.
    Realtor: It doesn't have a secret turny-roundy bookcase, but it is zoned for one and I know a guy.
  • In the series finale of Just Shoot Me!, Finch reveals that Jack had one of these installed at some point, connecting the liquor cabinet in his office to a bookshelf by the stairs in case he ever needed to make a quick getaway.
  • Honey West:
    • A sliding panel in Honey's office leads to her apartment.
    • Syndicate members in "Whatever Lola Wants..." have a sliding mirror leading to their secret lair.
  • The short-lived 1980s comedy Mac Gruder And Loud was about a pair of police officers who had to keep their marriage a secret, due to their precinct's policy against fraternization on the force. To get around this, they moved into a duplex apartment building, and a secret passage through a grandfather clock allowed them to visit each other.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Chateau Picard had one installed during WWII to hide from the Nazis. In the 21st Century, Picard and Tallin make use of it to hide from Adam Soong and his Borg commandos. Unfornately, Soong sees there's a dust void on the floor besides the bookcase, and realizes he can slide it to the left.


  • In Adventures in Odyssey, Wooton's secret room where he draws the Powerboy comics is located behind a bookcase, as is Whit's secret computer room (the key that unlocks the bookcase is hidden a Book Safe of The Last Battle).

    Tabletop Games 
  • The classic Clue has two on the board. Also shown in the film of the game.
  • Dungeons & Dragons adventures come with a variety of secret doors, now regularly duplicated.
  • Drawing an Event card in Betrayal at House on the Hill possibly lets you create this.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a card titled Suspicious Bookcase. It's primarily a defensive tool, but if you pay enough mana, you can use it to prevent your opponent from blocking your attack.
    All the books were dusty with disuse, save the one titled Camouflage and Its Practical Applications.

  • In The Bat, the door to the Hidden Room is disguised as a fireplace.
  • In The Cat and the Canary, the lawyer is last seen alive standing in front of a bookcase with a hidden passage behind. His Peek-a-Boo Corpse appears in a different hidden passage behind Annabelle's bed.

    Video Games 
  • Bébé's Kids (the infamous SNES game based on the movie of the same name) has this in the haunted house level, as the revolving door type. The added twist is that depending on which side you open the bookcase leads the player to different locations. Though this raises the question of why can't you access both areas since there would have to be a gap in the dividing wall in order for the bookcase to open.
  • In Realms of the Haunting you'll find one in the Study early on in the game which leads to the Mausoleum.
  • Alone in the Dark (1992) has one.
  • There are a few instances in Baldur's Gate where hidden doors are behind bookcases.
  • Clandestiny has one in the library, along with many other types of secret passages.
  • Dead Secret features a passage located behind the wall of the closet in Josie Herrera's room.
  • Deus Ex has this in spades and in all sorts of shapes - from secret rooms behind the bookcase shelves to a whole abandoned and forgotten tunnel system hiding behind a non-functioning WC in a public restroom being used as a refugee camp.
  • Dishonored: At Dr. Galvani's house, there's a bookcase with a selectable book on a shelf. When clicked, this opens the bookcase and reveals a Secret Room. The room contains a rat sample that can be used to poison the bootleg elixir producer at the Whiskey Distillery. In the Golden Cat mission, you can return to find a rune.
  • Dishonored 2: In the first level, Corvo or Emily has to escape Dunwall castle by travelling through the safe room. It is hidden behind a bookcase and opened with a special ring that Sokolov designed. Inside are various weapons, large quantities of gold and old drawings of Emily. In the final level, the player can return to the room and find Ramsey frozen in stone by Delilah as well as Emily's doll from Dishonored.
  • Eternal Darkness:
    • In the first church level, the passage to the catacombs is behind a bookcase. In later visits to the level, that's moved and gets hidden behind wine barrels.
    • Oh, and the room which holds the titular tome is behind a bookcase which required you to set the time on the clock to 3:33.
    • Not forgetting the firecase entrance for the tome's chamber when you play as Max, the game really liked this trope.
  • Fallen Aces has a secret prison cell located in a library. With a nearby desk having the button that triggers it.
  • Fallout:
  • There are oodles and oodles and oodles of these in the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. They are all opened by casting the spell Alohamora on them, even though Alohamora is just supposed to pick locks. They're also present in the PS1 versions of that game and The Chamber of Secrets, but are easy to tell because all the Bookcase Passages look the same. Interestingly, rooms are re-used between the two games and have the same bookcase passages, yet they lead to completely different places, perfect for Hogwarts!
  • Part 2 of Hugo's House of Horrors contains a bookcase that opens when a book is taken out, causing Hugo to disappear.
  • Last Half of Darkness has a secret passage hidden behind a tall bookcase, revealed by the clue "Secret lab just over there, right behind bookcase of bare".
  • Myst:
    • The game has a bookcase passage and a fireplace revolving door in the same room.
    • Fireplace elevators have become a sort of recognizable theme in the series, despite appearing only infrequently. Eventually Revelation gives you a fireplace and the option of entering in Tomahna's kitchen; if you try, it toasts your hand instead. You can even increase the fire with a bellows lying inside.
    • Oddly, neither the original fireplace in the Myst Library nor the fireplace elevator in Atrus + Catherine's bedrooms function as fireplaces, as there aren't any chimneys in the ceiling. Yet the latter has tools and fire logs next to it anyway. Also, in URU, apparently the Myst fireplace has no visible source of light.
  • There are two secret passages hidden behind bookcases in Castle Borgov in Quest for Glory IV.
  • The opening cinematic of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 features one of these.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, there is a Bookcase Passage in the Giovanni mansion, and there is also one in Grout's house.
  • Trace Memory has one that's triggered by playing a secret melody on the piano.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, there are three of them around the Sky Pirate base. One is behind a bookcase in the captain's office, one is a rock wall that splits in two, and one is behind a tombstone.
  • In the Thief series, these are pretty common, particularly when concealed by bookcases or tapestries.
    • In Thief: The Dark Project, the following missions have secret passages: "Lord Bafford's Manor" (tapestry), "Escape from Cragscleft Prison" (tapestry), "Assassins" (bookcase, fireplace), Constantine's mansion (various secret panels and rooms)
    • In Thief Gold, all three missions not in the original game have secret passages: "Thieves' Guild" (various secret panels); "The Mage Towers" ( the Central Library has a secret room behind a bookcase); "Song of the Caverns" (the Opera House has many secret passages, one of which is accessed through the furnace, and most of which are marked on the map you should get from the building's former owner)
    • In Thief II: The Metal Age, both the Rampone warehouse complex and Shoalsgate Station have secret passages or rooms behind bookcases. Shoalsgate and Lord Gervasius' mansion are both riddled with secret passages. Garrett's own apartment has a hidden compartment where his equipment is stored.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • One of these in the Culling of Stratholme.
    • And in Karazan where it leads to an optional boss.
  • Played with in Star Ocean: The Second Story the only difference is that it is not a book that triggers the moving of the bookcase but rather something in the same room which leads to the Secret Underground Passage
  • The Laura Bow games have secret passages coming out their ears.
  • In The Sims 2: Apartment Life and Video Game The Sims 3: Supernatural, you can buy a bookshelf that serves as this. Any Sim you have direct control over can use them, but no Sim will ever use them by their own free will—meaning Sims can become trapped behind them, unable to figure out how to get out.
  • There's one in Metal Gear Solid, in the room you fight Psycho Mantis.
  • Kingdom Hearts has one of these. The book's names were mostly references to Final Fantasy.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: In the book room of the Oceanside Spider House in Great Bay, there's a bookcase that has to be moved sideways to reveal a small hole where one of the Gold Skulltulas hides.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, with a twist: The books don't trigger anything, but you need to return them to their proper place, so you can climb on them later, when shrunken down, in order to reach a Minish-sage who lives on one of the shelves.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has several in the library of Hyrule Castle. One hides a tunnel leading to a dock, while another hides King Rhoam's secret study.
  • Assassin's Creed II:
    • The entrance to the chamber with the six famous assassin statues and Altair's age-old armor.
    • There's another one earlier in the game: the fireplace in the Auditore mansion in Firenze, hiding the room where you acquire the assassin outfit.
  • Manannan's study in King's Quest III has a bookcase passage leading to an underground room with a spellbook, magical ingredients, and other wizarding paraphernalia.
  • Safe Cracker has a number of hidden passages within the Crabb & Sons headquarters building, ranging from a fireplace panel door in the basement, operated by a large clockwork machine; to a hidden staircase to a room on the first floor, accessed when placing a checkmate on Jerry Crabb's chessboard. The way to get into Jerry Crabb's office is hidden behind a bookcase passage as well.
  • In Romancing SaGa 3, instead of a bookcase, it's a mirror, the glassy surface disappears revealing a doorway. Only 2 exist in the game, one in Monica's room and is only used for story purposes, and the other in Maximus' Hideout which holds a chest containing Stardust Armor
  • In Beyond Dark Castle, Prince Duncan uses a fireplace passage to access the castle.
  • The Resident Evil and Silent Hill series have several of these.
  • Hugo 2: Whodunnit? kicks off with both characters finding and using one of these (which, for some reason, takes them to different places).
  • The series' successor Nitemare 3D has tons of them. In addition to many actual bookcases (all of which are secret passages), there are dozens of sliding panels per level. Finding them all is necessary for 100% Completion.
  • Doom: Many levels have secret doors and passages (handwaved in the novelization as being part of mechanisms for transporting and sealing off materials. Doom II introduces a bookcase texture for walls, which leads to many, many, many exact examples of this trope in maps featuring library-like areas.
  • Unreal: Minor example in the Nali Castle: it reveals a super health pack instead of an actual passage.
  • Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor: A bookshelf it reveals an actual passage. The book that does it is very difficult to spot, however.
  • Rule of Rose: There is a hidden door in wall panel in the VIP section of the airship, but you need perfumes of four seasons to trade for a key to get through and find the only firearm in the game...with only one bullet in it.
  • Minecraft: Redstone mechanisms involving pistons, which push and pull other blocks, can be used to create passages revealed when bookshelves withdraw at the push of a button or flick of a lever. The chiseled bookshelf, a block added in Updated 1.20 that can be used to store individual books and generates a redstone signal when used, is specifically geared towards this sort of use by activating linked mechanisms whenever a book is placed on or removed from its shelves.
  • Hexen II: There's one of these in Blackmarsh's mortuary. It leads to a small cell area and a passage to the hub's boss.
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has two in the main game and one in Justine.
  • AmsterDoom has the painting variant in a stage set in Het Rijksmuseum. It turns out The Night Watch has a hidden corridor behind leading to an alien base.
  • Super Mario 64 has one in Big Boo's Haunt that leads to a room with a star.
  • The 7th Guest was meant to have one, according to the script, but eventually became a moot point in favor of passages even more bizarre than that. Examples include hovering over and then fitting inside a sink's drain pipe and entering a door that doesn't fit with the hallway outside, instead exiting from the kitchen's oven on the other end of the house.
  • Scratches: At the end, a loose grate below the living room fireplace in Blackwood Manor hides a small prison cell in the basement, where Robin, James Blackwood's son was kept hidden from the public.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: The secret room of the Blades is located behind a door disguised as a wardrobe. It's a perfectly functional wardrobe, but its back wall can be opened, revealing a secret passage.
    • Similar secret doors are found in other places (though not so functional as wardrobes): one in Hjerim (the house you can eventually purchase in Windhelm) which leads to a secret storage room, and another in Riftweald Manor in Riften (the house owned by Mercer Frey), which has a secret and booby-trapped passage to the Ratway.
    • In Dawnguard, in Castle Volkihar, you have to go through a door disguised as a fireplace, opened by a wall-mounted candlestick, to proceed to the portal leading to the Soul Cairn.
    • In Dragonborn, one of the houses on Solstheim has a bookcase passage in the cellar.
  • Blood (1997), which is a pastiche of horror of all kinds, including Gothic Horror, has quite a lot of such passages. A good rule of thumb: if you find bookcases, search for secret places.
  • A variant appears in Kingdom of Loathing; here, pulling the book lowers a staircase (which either crushes or replaces the flimsy stairs already present). This is the only time in the game you actually click on a picture instead of one of the choice buttons.
  • The manor house level in Call of Duty has a fireplace passage.
  • The rotating fireplace variant is found in a mansion in the bayou in MySims Agents. You need to repair a nearby clock's mechanism to make it work, and it leads to a passage where you, ahem, break the case wide open.
  • In Paper Mario 64, there's a switch in Peach's bedroom that makes a grate in the fireplace fall; you walk through into a tunnel that leads to a rotating platform into a certain other room. Peach uses this passage several times over the course of the game.
    • In Paper Mario: Sticker Star, a bookcase appears in The Enigmansion. Paperizing it to the right place causes it to open up a passage.
  • In Penumbra Black Plague, drawing a specific book from a bookcase will reveal a hidden room.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has the same bookcase passage as the above The Matrix Reloaded example leading to the dungeons.
  • Inside Nikifor's house, Umang finds one in The Sacred Rings, though this one needs to be powered up in order to open, and the switch to go through is easy to spot.
  • The second gym in Pokémon Black and White has a puzzle with a variant of this. After solving the puzzle, which involve a series of books in the library bookshelves, one will move over, revealing the stairs leading to the Gym Leader, Lenora.
  • Pokémon X and Y has a more usual example. Late in the game, a bookshelf in Lysandre Café can be shoved aside to reveal the entrance to Lysandre Labs.
  • There is one of these in The Ultimate Haunted House, albeit not very well hidden, that leads to the library. Entering the library is easy, getting out is less so (you have to pull on a specific book).
  • One makes an appearance in Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion, leading to a short secret passageway which contains a Portrait Painting Peephole.
  • Batman: The Telltale Series: Bruce has one of these open into a secret elevator that takes him from his Wayne Enterprises office to Lucius Fox's laboratory. To activate it, he has to move the black knight on his office chessboard.
  • The Sexy Brutale: What one of the secret passages uses as its cover. Also, a hidden panel necessary to save one of the guest's lives is hidden behind a bookcase.
  • Spider-Man 2: The bookcase in Mysterio's apartment (or "hidden fortress" as he calls it) conceals an elevator which takes Spider Man to his "Funhouse of Doom", which appears to be larger than the apartment complex itself. How he set it up without his landlord knowing is a mystery.
  • In The Darkside Detective, the city library has a secret passage behind the shelves in the Horror section, opened by pulling on a particular book. It leads to a secret room containing the librarian's collection of contraband occult texts.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein features a few. One is plot-critical and is used by La Résistance to smuggle the player into a Nazi-occupied village; the others are easy to miss and only hide secret rooms.
  • Pajama Sam in No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside: A small library in Darkness's house has a rotating bookcase that flips around after pushing in books of a specific color. (They change every playthrough.) Behind the bookcase is a secret passage that leads to a Mad Scientist Laboratory and an exit to the mines. In certain paths of the game, there will be a magnet hanging on the hook on the wall behind it, which you'll need to collect the lunchbox if it is underwater and the nail in the mines, which you'll need to fix the chair in the potion room if the mask is in the room with the dancing furniture. To get the magnet, Sam must find a way to the other end of the bookcase passage.
  • In Curse of Briar Rose, the first installment of the Dark Parables series, one of these leads to a hidden shrine to the title character's fairy godmothers, which contains some useful clues for solving the case. Later installments occasionally employ variants of the trope.
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game: Of course the New York Public Library has one. Fortunately, the PKE Meter and Paragoggles can assist you in finding the exact book.
  • Arcana Manor, in The Cabinets Of Doctor Arcana, is unsurprisingly the home of one such secret passage. It doesn't come as much of a surprise, since it isn't found until after the player has seen the Point-and-Click Map in the Library (which explicitly labels one room as "Secret Room"). The secret elevator, however, is another story, since it leads to a completely hidden level.
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has spinning bookcase in the Livre Ex Machina to access a secret room.
  • In story mode of Them's Fightin' Herds, Arizona can find a secret bookcase passage in Reine’s museum which leads to a sleeping bear.
  • La Pucelle: In an attempt to learn more about the land of Fatima, Prier's group gets permission to use Cresson Castle's Library. Having found nothing, Prier's short temper causes her to kick the bookcase, causing a passageway to open up.
  • In My House, the house's electrical panel closet is hidden behind a bookcase in the basement rec room, and only unlocks after collecting the first few MacGuffins, drawing the attention of the player with a sparking sound. Interacting with the panel, though, causes the house to catch fire and locks the player into a Bad Ending.

    Visual Novels 
  • Even Ace Attorney gets in on this act - Investigations features a pair of these (fireplace variant) as a critical clue for the lead-up to its finale.
  • Aquarium: Of the mansion's cupboards is blocking the passage to the outside.
  • The Miroku mansion from Spirit Hunter: NG has a second floor, but seemingly no way to access it. Akira discovers the door leading up by placing a certain mask on a frame in the entranceway, which causes said hidden door to swing open.

    Web Animation 
  • Final Fantasy VII: Machinabridged is well aware that AVALANCHE headquarters is accessed via pinball machine and uses it regularly for comedy. Not only did Wedge find it this way, but so did one of Don Corneo's goons, which leads to Shinra finding out about them.
  • In Lackadaisy, speakeasy Proprietrix Mitzi May is shown pushing a tall, bookshelf-sized glassware cabinet inward like a door to exit the Little Daisy Cafe and enter a small underground foyer where a doorman guards the entrance to the Lackadaisy Speakeasy.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • Played for Laughs in a CollegeHumor video where the 2 dungeon keepers setting up the passage disagree over which book should be used to trigger it.
    Draven: Sherlock Holmes?
    Ozool: Too on the nose; you might as well label it "Pull Me".
    Draven: So I guess that just rules out The Secret, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Open: Andre Agassi's Autobiography.
  • Stampy's Lovely World:
    • In the library of Stampy's House, there is a secret passageway behind his fireplace which leads to his treasure vault of diamonds and gold, accessible via a lever next to the fireplace. Stampy has also added a failsafe escape route in the vault in case anyone traps him inside.
    • HitTheTarget, Stampy's Arch-Enemy, also had one in his house in the Helpers' Village which connected to an underground lair, where he imprisoned Stampy's dogs after kidnapping them. Stampy discovers this in Episode 92, "The First Cake". Both the house and the Helpers' Village have since been destroyed a couple of years after that encounter.
  • The door to the original room where The Whiskey Vault was filmed is hidden behind a section of a bookcase.

    Western Animation 
  • A variant involving a secret door into a pyramid appears in an early episode of Cyberchase. Matt claims that in the movies, you just press a brick and a door opens. He tries to invoke Luck-Based Search Technique by randomly pressing on various bricks. Didgit leans against the pyramid and remarks "This has as much chance of working as I have of growing feathers." right before he triggers the door himself.
  • The entrance to Dexter's Laboratory was behind one of these.
  • There's at least one in Gargoyles — the Prague episode of the Avalon World Tour has the Allies of the Week opening up a secret way up into the attic where the Golem was via bookshelf door. The building exists in Real Life but said attic is just off-limits, not hidden.
  • The Ghost And Molly Mcgee: Lampshaded in "Monumental Disaster", when Libby pulls on a book titled "Secret Levers 4 Secret Doors" to open a secret passage in the Brighton library to the archives.
  • In Gravity Falls, Grunkle Stan has a secret passage hidden behind the Mystery Shack's vending machine. It's the first sign that there's more to him than meets the eye...
  • Littlest Pet Shop (2012): In the segment of the episode "Littlest Pet Shop of Horrors" parodying Misery, Penny Ling, in Annie Wilkes' role, pulls a book revealing a standup stage that she made in honor of Pepper, playing Paul Sheldon's role.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Castle Mane-ia" shows that Celestia and Luna's old castle has a lot of these. All three groups (Twilight and Spike, Fluttershy and Rarity, Applejack and Rainbow Dash) stumble across or fall victim to them.
  • Razzberry Jazzberry Jam: In “Phantom Of The Jam”, the Jazzberries discover a trapdoor leading to a secret subbasement which is activated by pressing on one of the bricks in the basement wall.
  • There are scads of examples in Scooby-Doo.
  • Parodied in The Venture Brothers, when Dr. Venture thinks Dr. Orpheus has one of these.
    Dr. Venture: Hey, if I pull this candle down, will it—
    Dr. Orpheus: Get wax on my carpet? Yes.
  • Lampshaded in Young Justice (2010) when Robin and Artemis are hiding from pursuers in the library of the Cave (headquarters of the Team and formerly of the Justice League).
    Robin: There's a secret passage behind one of these bookcases.
    Artemis: Really? Cliché much?
    Robin: You should see the Batcave.
  • Hilda: In episode 8, the entrance to the hidden section of the library is, fitting enough, behind a bookcase.
  • Subverted in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Got Game?"; Perry attempts to enter his underground lair through an elevator hidden inside a bookcase, but the elevator turns out to be out of order, so he's forced to take the Absurdly Long Stairway down.
  • Played with in the Milo Murphy's Law episode "The Math Book". In the library, Milo notices a single red book out of place and reaches for it. Of course, Murphy's Law being what it is, it just causes the bookcase to collapse. And then part of the wall collapses, and there's the secret tunnel.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: There's a bookcase in the Creation Station that, when a book is pulled, turns around and reveals Leiko's guitar. In another episode, it reveals a soundproof room for Zadie to make a lot of noise.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television, as bookcases are often conveniently sized for a door and provide an ideal way to camouflage the necessary gaps.
  • Priest holes, during the Tudor anti-Catholic purges.
  • You can also order your own! Or just build your own (page is an overview, but contains links for the actual process).
  • A Youth Hostel in Scotland has a not-so-secret passage (there's a sign marking its location) underneath an elaborate staircase triggered by rotating a marble statue a few meters away. This was enormously shocking because old Scottish castles aren't exactly the typical location for budget accommodation!
  • The International Spy Museum has one which is a dark twist on the trope. It was in the office of a KGB official and led to a Torture Cellar where interviewees would be taken following casual conversation in the office.
  • Richard Garriott has one of these, along with numerous other types of secret passages in his house.
  • Speakeasies were often hidden behind these during Prohibition.
  • The actual house, with the secret staircase, used by Hawthorne as the setting for The House Of The Seven Gables.
  • The Eye Spy (a.k.a. the spy bar) in Orlando has at least one of these.
  • As does the Safe House in Milwaukee.
  • The only way into the hidden loft that Anne Frank, her family, and a few other Jews used as their hiding place during the Holocaust was a staircase hidden behind a bookcase.
  • Played very straight in the case of Denmark's Bleking Street Gang back in the '80s. When their covert hideout apartment was finally found, investigators found nothing incriminating at all, until someone pointed out that the exterior didn't quite match the interior. One bookcase removal later, they were staring at a massive cache of guns, machine guns, hand grenades, RPGs, landmines, etc.
  • The Eerie Pub Co chain of bars in Great Britain often hide their customer restrooms behind bookcases. While the books on the shelf aren't real and are easily identified as such after moderate examination, they still serve to confuse new customers unfamiliar with the decor.



Diego Simeone introduces Antoine Griezmann to an underground fight club hidden in the basement of the Champions House.

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5 (2 votes)

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