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Building of Adventure

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"That's it, I'm just gonna book a Motel 6 next time!"

"The whole building is a huge super-conductive antenna that was designed and built expressly for the purpose of pulling in and concentrating spiritual turbulence. Your girlfriend lives in the corner penthouse of Spook Central."
Ray Stantz, Ghostbusters

Why even bother with a City of Adventure? Sometimes, all it takes is one building to provide all the wackiness the plot requires. Besides, that way, you don't need to do any location shooting.

The Building of Adventure is frequently in the Middle-of-Nowhere Street or an Apartment Complex of Horrors. May be a setting in a Cozy Catastrophe.

Frequently, as in many examples below, the building will be a complex, arcology, or large structure. This still eliminates the need for location shooting and can result in very strange overuse of familiar props and scenery. Sometimes, especially when played for laughs, sections of a Building of Adventure will look nothing like other sections. However, at its most pure, this trope refers to a small, familiar set as the entire world of the story, a device often used in theatre.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The anime Android Announcer Maico 2010 has everything take place inside a radio station. (This is not true in the manga Maico 2010 on which it was based.)
  • The vast majority of Bleach's Hueco Mundo arc takes place in one massive building called Las Noches. Despite atomic sized explosions such as those caused by Ichigo's Hollow and Ulquiorra's Segunda Espada form, barely any of the structure is even scathed.
  • Hunter × Hunter had the Heavens Arena: a 210-story tower full of battle arenas, as well as malls and luxury hotels.
  • Hinata Inn, of Love Hina, was a sort of these. Tunnels, ancient underground civilizations of turtles, workshops, old rooms with creepy automata, whatever the plot called for.
  • Despite being animated, most of Rozen Maiden takes place within the confines of Jun's house, unless you count its Phantom Zone.
  • Like Hogwarts, Duel Academy in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is a school cut off from the rest of the world. In chronological order, 3 demons were sealed away, a maniac with a Kill Sat tried to brainwash everyone, and the island was sent to an alternate dimension.

    Comic Books 
  • The same can be said for the Avengers' mansion and Stark Tower.
  • In Batman, Wayne Manor, Arkham Asylum, and the Batcave all act as centerpieces for many stories.
  • Doctor Strange's mansion also acts as this and is an example of Genius Loci since it's at least somewhat alive.
  • The Fantastic Four had the Baxter Building and Four Freedoms Plaza as the center of their series.
  • The 1970s DC horror series, House of Mystery.
  • Enforced in Seconds (2014). Almost all of the important action happens inside the titular restaurant, due to the mushrooms only working inside its walls.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • All of the action, and most of the flashbacks, in Black Rat take place inside the high school.
  • The main action of Botched all takes place in a Moscow skyscraper, with the majority of it occurring on a single floor.
  • Except for the Flashback to Paris and the climactic scenes in the airport, nearly all of the action in Casablanca takes place in Rick's Cafe Americain.
  • The entirety of Cash on Demand takes place inside the Haversham branch of the City and Colonial Bank.
  • Crimson Tide takes place almost entirely inside a single nuclear submarine.
  • Apart from a couple of establishing scenes on a college campus, and the epilogue in a hospital, Death Factory is entirely set in an abandoned factory.
  • Most of Die Hard is set in or around a high rise office building in downtown L.A.
  • Dredd: The main action of the film happens almost entirely within Peach Trees after the protagonists are Trapped in Containment. Given that Peach Trees is a 200 story mega block housing over 75,000 people, there's plenty of scope for adventure.
  • The majority of the action in Green Room takes place either inside Darcy's skinhead bar, or just outside it.
  • Clamp Centre in Gremlins 2: The New Batch is some kind of souped-up, all-purpose commercial district. Even the relative size of the building changes from scene to scene. (Check out the clouds outside of Daniel Clamp's office.)
    MikeJ: So, they do architecture, food, TV broadcasting; of course the Clamp Building is home to a genetics lab (which looks shockingly like a children's daycare)!
  • The House of Yes: Takes place within the confines of the eponymous house.
  • Apart from the flashbacks to Lizzie Borden's home, and a brief scene in Bobby's photographic studio, all of Lizzie Borden's Revenge takes place in the sorority house.
  • Logan's Run is implied to take place After the End. All of mankind lives in giant domes full to bursting with all that one could want, all set to synthesizer music. But there's darkness in paradise...
  • The Man from Earth takes place in one room, and a few short scenes in front of the house.
  • The action in The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill never moves out of Kissey's luxurious boudoir and salon where she entertains her clients.
  • The house of Panic Room.
  • The Pit and the Pendulum (1991): Apart from an early scene in Antonio's bakery, the entire film takes within the castle of Toledo.
  • Raise the Red Lantern takes place entirely within one Chinese estate, but still gets an entry in Scenery Porn. Not a bad accomplishment by Zhang Yimou, to say the least. Despite the obvious differences in the works, comparisons to Gormenghast seem interestingly appropriate at times.
  • All of the action of Ratter takes place inside Emma's apartment.
  • Rear Window takes place entirely within one tenement building, with all the action either taking place in, or being observed from, a single apartment. Rope likewise is filmed in real time in one apartment, and Lifeboat takes place in a lifeboat. All Hitchcock films.
  • Reservoir Dogs mostly takes place inside the warehouse.
  • The Sadist takes place entirely in a junkyard until Doris briefly escapes to the abandoned property next door during the climax.
  • Film/Skyscraper is, of course, set on the titular skyscraper, a technologically advanced building in Hong Kong.
  • There are only two rooms in The Room (2003) and the roof.
  • Russian Ark, a two hour film completely inside the Russian State Hermitage Museum. In real time with a vengeance, as the film was made in one, uncut, shot. "2000 Actors. 300 years of Russian History. 33 Rooms at the Hermitage Museum. 3 Live Orchestras. 1 Single Continuous Shot."
  • Stag: The entire film takes place in Victor's Long Island mansion: much of it in only two rooms.
  • Apart from the prologue, Tiger House takes entirely inside Mark's family home or its grounds.
  • The Towering Inferno: Pictured above, it takes place almost entirely in and around a newly-built San Francisco skyscraper.
  • 12 Angry Men: Except for the opening and closing scenes in the courtroom itself, never leaves the jury room.

  • John DeChancie's Castle Perilous series — subverted in that inside the castle are 144,000 universes.
  • The Famous Five: Adventure appears in all of the books, but one of the buildings which feels most inherently full of adventure from the beginning is Smuggler's Top, with its many secret passages and tunnels.
  • Gormenghast: Gormenghast Castle, from Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan novels, blurs the line between a city and a single building.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Hogwarts and its grounds in the book series, though the books had a few scenes in other places — Knockturn Alley, Gringotts, or the nearby Muggle-free town, Hogsmeade.
    • Also the Ministry of Magic, which provides the setting for a great battle (the battle of the Department of Mysteries) and later an important infiltration attempt by Harry, Ron and Hermione.
  • Evenmore in James Stoddard's The High House.
  • The House in Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series.
  • Set up and subverted in Northanger Abbey. Catherine is sure that the titular building is going to be ominous and full of mystery since an ancient abbey is right out of the Gothic romances she so enjoys. She is, consequently, disappointed when it ends up being a well-lit, comfortably furnished building with every modern convenience.
  • Otherland: One of the virtual realities visited by the characters in the cycle takes the form of a single huge building, in which people live and die without ever going outside.
  • In Overheaven, there's Aeropolis, also known as the Free City of Aytan, which is so massive and full of interesting things that it's also an example of a City of Adventure. One building, 500 floors, 983,000 people, one independent sovereign republic.
  • The Rivers of London novel Broken Homes is set almost entirely in one tower block, which was created by a Brutalist architect who was also a powerful wizard.
  • Student Council's Discretion takes place almost entirely in the Student Council room. It's rare to even see the hallways or the school itself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family: 704 Houser, the only location to get its own spin-off show.
  • Are You Being Served? very rarely left Grace Brothers Department Store.
  • Babylon 5 didn't limit itself solely to the eponymous station, but many of the episodes were set entirely on it, in various sections.
  • Barney Miller's police station. Nearly all the stories are Bottle Episodes in the dilapidated precinct, which sees hostage crises, fire, suicide attempts, Jesus (Jesus), and guys that look like Jesus.
  • Initially, the bar in Cheers (probably for economic reasons). After a couple of seasons, scenes outside the bar became a regular occurrence.
  • The Vecindad in El Chavo del ocho.
  • In ER, most of the action happens within the Chicago County General Hospital.
  • The titular Fawlty Towers. Although "Building of Misadventure" may be a better description here.
  • General Hospital: The titular hospital was originally an example of this trope, in fact in its first few years almost all of the action was set entirely on the seventh floor. Eventually as money became available, character's apartments and homes were shown and the hospital was eventually shown less and less until the title of the show become somewhat of a misnomer, although the hospital set has been used a lot more lately. In essence, the show evolved from this trope to City of Adventure, since even now most of the action remains in Port Charles.
  • The earliest shows went a step even farther: drawing from stage traditions (and often in front of a live audience), they could have all the wackiness necessary to facilitate the series take place in a single room, such as Ralph and Alice's apartment in The Honeymooners.
  • JAG Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia has had its fair share of hostage situations, impostors, screaming births, and courtroom antics (including assault of counsel and an automatic weapon fired in the courtroom).
  • The bus station in The John Larroquette Show.
  • The 4077 base in M*A*S*H. The show mostly takes place at the base, though it was, after all, mobile.
  • The New Monkees rarely left the mansion they lived in.
  • The radio station in NewsRadio.
  • The courthouse in Night Court.
  • The action (such as it is) of Nightingales never moves out of the office block, and frequently never moves out of a single room.
  • Most of the plot in Only Murders in the Building takes place in the Arconia, the Upper West Side building where the three protagonists live, and that over the course of the series has hosted at least two murders, two pet poisonings, a stabbing, and the central hub of a graverobbing ring.
  • Most of the action in The Outer Limits (1963) episode "Demon with a Glass Hand" was filmed in the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles, the same building used as J.F. Sebastian's home in Blade Runner.
  • Almost every episode of Radio Enfer takes place at school, with the large majority of them taking place entirely inside of it.
  • Red Dwarf for much of its run. Indeed, in the first series, they did not leave the ship once. Of course, like the above two examples, the titular ship is the size of a small city anyway (6 miles long, 5 miles high, 4 miles wide — that adds up to a lot of interior space), although the lack of population makes that largely moot.
  • The tragicomic Roger & Val have Just Got In takes place entirely in Roger and Val's house and garage.
  • The Royle Family, right up until "The Queen of Sheba", was set entirely in the Royles' house, and mostly in the living room.
  • Bayside High from Saved by the Bell seems to contain the entire universe. A few of the kids' bedrooms were occasionally shown (always using the same redecorated set). The exception is the Max, where they often hang out after school.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine tried to do this in its early seasons, but branched out to the rest of the galaxy when the titular station couldn't seem to provide quite enough intrigue.
  • Superstore takes place almost entirely inside the Cloud 9 store and its parking lot.
  • The store in Today's Special.
  • Woops!: The farmhouse in Fox's 1992 After the End sitcom was more or less the center of the world. It had to be: it was the only thing left for miles around.

  • The Addams Family takes place entirely in the family mansion and surrounding grounds.
  • Zen Studios' The Avengers pinball is set on the SHIELD Helicarrier.
  • Sharkey's Shootout takes place entirely in Sharkey's exclusive pool hall.
  • In Twilight Zone pinball, everything is technically taking place inside a Curio Shop. At least until the player assembles the door panels and enters The Zone...
  • Most of the events in WHO dunnit (1995) take place at Tony's Palace, a hotel and casino.



  • Many plays of the Ancient Greek theatre, most notably Sophocles' Oedipus cycle. Although it is more correct to say that most Greek plays were set in front of one building, rather than inside one. The convention in the Athenian theatre was that all the action takes place outside, in the open air, because Greek theatres were open-air places themselves, and public business in Greece was traditionally conducted outside. The stage doors in the skene building generally represented the doors to a palace or townhouse (or occasionally a cave), while the left and right hand passageways at the sides traditionally represented the routes down into the city and out into the countryside respectively.
  • Anything from the French 17th century. Their theater theory emphasized unity of place; ie the whole play was supposed to take place in a single building, and usually in a single room.
  • August: Osage County, which is set in a three-story house, built entirely on-stage.
  • Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, the first and third installments of Neil Simon's Eugene trilogy, both take place in the Jerome household.
  • William Inge's Bus Stop is set entirely at... a bus stop.
  • The Foreigner takes place entirely in Betty Meek's lodge.
  • Variation in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, where the action takes place on the street outside of some houses in Rome, none of which are fleshed out beyond what is required for the joke or to fit the front facade.
  • Hamlet would be the only Shakespeare play set in one location (the grounds of Elsinore), if not for the brief Act IV, Scene iv. An argument could be made about the graveyard in Act V, Scene i as well. (The Kronborg castle at Elsinore doesn't have a graveyard on its grounds.)
  • Several David Mamet plays, most notably American Buffalo, and November.
  • Technically, Man of La Mancha is always set only in the dungeon, due to the Show Within a Show element.
  • The Mousetrap: The entire play takes within Monkswell Manor. (Even more specifically, it takes place within the drawing room of Monkswell Manor, with occasional noises off indicating what is happening elsewhere in the house.)
  • Wait Until Dark is set in the Hendrix apartment.
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has all of its action in George and Martha's residence.
  • You Can't Take It With You: The Vanderhof household definitely fits here.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Necromunda is set entirely within the lowest levels of Hive Primus - a vast hive city building and the pre-eminent such arcology on the planet Necromunda.

    Video Games 
  • Many Hub Levels are Buildings of Adventure. Such as Princess Peach and Count Dracula's castles.
  • The Addams Family mansion in the SNES platforming video games.
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent takes place entirely within, and beneath, Castle Brennenberg. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs takes place mainly in a compound that comprises the protagonist's home, personal chapel, and a massive underground meat processing facility.
  • The first Banjo-Kazooie game involves the eponymous duo trekking upward through Gruntilda's Lair while collecting Jiggies in the magical worlds accessed within it.
  • Canvas 2 takes place almost entirely either in Nadesico or Hiroki's home.
  • Castle, Forest, Island, Sea is set in a castle. Surrounded by a forest (that you never explore). On an island (which you leave in the ending).
  • Dracula's Castle in the Castlevania series. It helps that the castle itself is a Reality Warper.
  • Control takes place entirely inside the Oldest House. Well, technically.
  • Diablo series:
    • The original had all its action take place in the Tristram Cathedral and its various basements.
    • Diablo II had the Rogue's Monastery.
  • The Roivas family estate in Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.
  • The Final Fantasy Legend takes place in a tower, though due to some reality-bending similar to Bigger on the Inside four of the levels are worlds in and of themselves. It makes sense once you learn that the tower's creator is the world's god.
  • Final Fantasy X2: Last Mission: This roguelike spinoff of Final Fantasy X-2 entirely takes place inside a single large challenge tower, guarded by an old man who ensures nothing from the previous game comes with you.
  • The entire playable portion of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is set within Castle Oblivion.
  • The Like a Dragon series has the Millennium Tower, a skyscraper that is often used as the location of climaxes in which the protagonists must fight their way up the tower for a boss battle on the rooftops or in a fancy room.
  • The eponymous mansion in Luigi's Mansion.
  • Dr. Edison's manor in Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle.
  • Nitemare 3D is set in Dr. Hammerstein's mansion and grounds. Which somehow comprises a whopping 30 levels, many of which include portions of multiple floors. And these are sprawling Wolfenstein 3-D era levels, too, any one of which would constitute an impressively sized house.
  • Most of Persona 3 takes place in Gekkoukan High School/Tartarus. Pretty much all of The Answer in Persona 3 FES takes place in the SEES dorm.
  • The Prince of Persia series loves using this trope to exploit its gameplay. The original Prince of Persia was set entirely in one, with the Prince going from the bottom to the top through traps and enemies to rescue the princess. Later entries, particularly the Sands of Time saga, would have Cities of Adventure filled with Buildings of Adventure that the player spends large chunks of time in.
  • Jasper's adventures begin the moment he sets foot within the gates of Puzzle Clubhouse. It helps that the Clubhouse contains an endless variety of Portal Doors.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil: The entire game takes place in the Spencer Mansion, or other more high-tech facilities connected to it.
    • Resident Evil 0: After the initial train, the vast majority of the game takes place in a single Umbrella training facility.
    • Resident Evil 2: The majority of the game takes place in the Raccoon City Police Department. You do eventually leave it, but not until fairly late in the game. And even then, the other location, an underground laboratory, is accessed from a secret tunnel in said police station.
  • Shining in the Darkness: While you do make occasional stops at the royal castle and the nearby village, all the action takes place in the Labyrinth of the Ancients.
  • Silent Hill 4 is a Building of Adventure — Henry's apartment — with portals to other worlds.
  • The Stanley Parable takes place almost entirely inside the seemingly ordinary (and actually not at all ordinary) office building where Stanley works.
  • Super Mario 64 takes place primarily in Princess Peach's Castle and in some outdoor paths right outside it. The worlds you explore are magical Pocket Dimensions that exist within the castle's Portal Paintings and other portals.
  • The Tower of Druaga's eponymous 60-floor tower.
  • The entirety of Spider-Man: Edge of Time takes place in the Alchemax building.
  • Wolfenstein 3-D is a downplayed instance; each individual episode is stated to take place in one castle, with the levels of that episode constituting individual floors.
  • Ys series:
    • Ys Origin: Excluding an intro sequence with no combat, the entire game occurs in Darm Tower. The interior is very spacious, with the tower likely having a diameter of a couple thousand feet.
    • Ys IX: Monstrum Nox has a downplayed version in the form of the Balduq Prison. While most of the game's action takes place in the surrounding City of Balduq, at the end of every chapter there are special segments, in which you take control of the second Adol, that occur completely inside the prison. These segments trade the game's Hack and Slash gameplay for more puzzle-based approach.

    Web Comics 
  • Buildingverse got its name because of this trope. When Roommates began it was set in a single apartment building (#42). But as the series progressed and the 'verse grow there were more and more things added to the town (First an Extranormal Institute (St. Jude University) then restaurants (Sakura Sushi, Convenient Café) etc.), and story lines even outside of that from Oz to Paris. So currently we have a subversion.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Almost none of the action in has taken place outside of the titular school/industrial complex, with the exception of some brief foray into Gillitie Forest (which lies just outside the Court) and flashbacks to the Good Hope hospital. The comic still manages this successfully in spite of the fact that the titular Court is a lot like a small city (with housing complexes, commodities like hairdressers, and a full mass-transit system) due to the fact that the vast majority of the Court is disturbingly empty (even considering the robots).
  • The Mansion of E: Ninety percent of the action takes place in, around or under the titular structure.
  • Sweet Home (2017): The survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse make the "Green Home" apartment building their base and don't get to escape until the very ending.

    Web Original 
  • There's a small shared story-verse called "Xanadu", which is about a fair-sized costume convention called Xanadu, in which costumes became real, and those wearing them changed. Largely these stories take place in and around the convention center and the hotel, and certain areas - the central judging room, the big atrium, hallways — recur in different stories. Though a fair number of stories involve characters escaping into the rest of the world, but almost all of them start at Xanadu. Those that don't, reference it instead.

    Western Animation 
  • The Galleria Mall in 6teen. Modelled after some of the largest real-life malls in Canada, the place is absolutely super-sized, with hundreds of stores and restaurants, a massive movie theater, a hockey rink, and even a freaking amusement park. Its no surprise that the characters practically live in there, given its sheer scale.
  • The eponymous building of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends seems to have even more rooms than possible for a Victorian-styled mansion of its size, with practically every kind of accommodation imaginable for its weird and wacky denizens — some of which border on absurd.
  • Sealab 2020 is set almost entirely in titular underwater station, and surrounding areas.
  • This also applies to the adult-oriented parody series of the above, Sealab 2021. One episode even specifically advertised it as a building of adventure to get tourists to come to Sealab, which angered Quinn because Murphy took out a loan with Sealab as collateral to make said advertisement, meaning they have to follow through on hosting tourists to keep Sealab from foreclosing.
  • Staines Down Drains: Well, 'Drainage System of Adventure'. Almost the entire series takes place inside the town's drains.
  • Welcome to the Wayne: The titular apartment, The Wayne, is the main setting of the series. It's filled with all kinds of secrets and oddities.

Alternative Title(s): Single Setting