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The hero's journey is a long, winding road, fraught with dangerous monster battles, maybe a princess to save, and the inevitable dungeon. Many game designers (mainly console RPGs) have a story to tell, which involves you and your party going from Town A to Dungeon B to see NPC C, and occasionally going back to Town A to stock up on supplies for the next encounter.

With that principle in mind, the Video Game Geography of the game's world map will be designed in such a way that one or more dungeons will lead to parts inaccessible by travel on foot. You may have to bypass a Beef Gate at the end by defeating it in a Boss Battle, at which point you can travel freely through the dungeon at your leisure (provided you can still handle the monsters that lurk within). The Bonus Dungeon is almost always exempt from this trope, since those are often placed in far out-of-reach locations, presumably to dissuade newbie adventurers from getting themselves killed after wiping their feet on the welcome mat.

A Truth in Television: geography sometimes conspires to put up natural traffic barriers that can only be conveniently bypassed at a few locations, mountain passes and bridges over gorges being the classic examples. As a result, governments and rulers tend to put up border guard posts, fortresses, and other types of traffic control points on them to keep out unwelcome visitors.

Compare Convenient Questing and Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence. Can be circumvented completely once you Get on the Boat or acquire a Global Airship.


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  • 300 is based on the Battle of Thermopylae during the Second Greco-Persian War, making this an Enforced Trope. In order to invade Greece, the Persians have to go through the mountain pass of Thermopylae.
  • The Admiral (2014): Admiral Yi Sun-Sin is able to defeat the Japanese navy despite being vastly outnumbered because the Japanese take a shortcut around the Korean peninsula through the Myeongnyang Strait.

  • Beren and Lúthien: Finrod, Beren and their group need to reach Angband, the fortress of the Dark Lord. Unfortunately, the only way to travel from Western Beleriand to North Beleriand is through the Pass of Sirion, a narrow valley digged by the Sirion river. And you cannot go through the pass without being spotted by Sauron from his fortress overlooking the vale.
  • Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart: Lancelot is on a quest to rescue Guinevere, who has been abducted by Meleagant and taken to the land of Gorre. He has the following conversation with a local Bit Character he meets along the way. It's a slightly Downplayed Trope as this isn't the only route, but it is the shortest one and thus the one Lancelot insists on taking.
    Host: To-morrow you will reach a place where you will have trouble: it is called "the stony passage". Shall I tell you how bad a place it is to pass? Only one horse can go through at a time; even two men could not pass abreast, and the passage is well guarded and defended. You will meet with resistance as soon as you arrive. You will sustain many a blow of sword and lance, and will have to return full measure before you succeed in passing through.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Neck is a narrow strip of swampland between the North and the rest of Westeros, impassable except for a single road guarded by the (ruined) castle Moat Cailin. Whoever controls Moat Cailin therefore controls all land traffic between the North and the South, very useful in wartime.
    • The Twins is the only crossing point over the Green Fork river for hundreds of miles. It's controlled by House Frey, who never fail to exact their toll from travelers. The toll they demand from Robb Stark's army is an Arranged Marriage between Robb and a Frey daughter. While this gains the Freys as allies, it has serious consequences when Robb backs out of the deal later on.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Bretonnia is a country deliberately locked in Medieval Stasis, stubbornly refusing to upgrade to gunpowder weapons for its feudal armies as such things are deemed to dishonor Bretonnian soil. The main reason it hasn't been conquered by its Renaissance-level neighbors is that its protected by high mountains, the passes of which are easily defensible. It has a lot of beaches, but to get there you need to get past the Bretonnian navy, which is the most powerful in the world as the ban on gunpowder weapons very much does not apply to them.

    Video Games 
  • In the Nintendo Wars series, a one-tile pass can be completely choked off by placing a fighter jet on the open tile. If the enemy force has no units which can attack a fighter, you've effectively created an unassailable buttplug that breaks the map in your favor.
  • In order to not break the game's sequence, in Baldur's Gate II you start in Waukeen's Promenade and have to go to the Slums next, where you meet a representative of the Shadow Thieves who offers to help you and gives you a goal to shoot for this chapter. From the Slums, no matter which way you exit, you can suddenly go anywhere in the city.
  • Perfect World:
    • Subverted. Usually, the only thing leading you to your next destination is a small path and a yellow arrow. This has led to certain new players ending up in places inhabited by level 50 or higher enemies.
    • It's even worse with the Winged Elf race. This race has wings, so now all that's guiding you is a yellow arrow if you decide to fly there. Granted, all characters get flight at level 30, so everyone has this problem.
    • A new(ish) patch allows you to set an icon on your map that signals where you have to go (provided you check your quest log frequently), complete with an auto-walk/fly feature that makes a beeline to it; however, if you're not flying or paying attention you can easily fall down mountains, run right into walls or end up in higher level areas.
  • In Diablo II, the only way out of Khanduras (Act I) to the Desert of Aranoch (Act II) is through the Rogue's Pass, a narrow monastery pass through the mountains defended previously by the Sisters of the Sightless Eye and presently by the hordes of hell. Instead of having to go all the way through the monastery, there is a set of portculli that wagon caravans like Warriv's presumably take. The REAL mystery is how they got through the Underground Passage, a network of narrow, twisting caves just before the monastery.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest: Appears twice: The only way to reach Rimuldar (the first of only a few places in Alefgard where you can purchase Magic Keys) and the Southern Shrine is via the Marsh Cave and the only way to reach Charlock Castle is via a narrow channel with the bridge created by the Rainbow Drop.
    • Dragon Quest II: You cannot access a second continent until you get the Prince of Cannock. Then you cannot access a third continent without the Princess of Moonbrooke. Once you get to the third continent, you can get a ship that opens up the rest of the world except for the final area. Then you need the Eye of Malroth in order to reach Rhone Plateau which is surrounded by impassable mountains.
    • Dragon Quest III: Chokepoints are constantly used. For example, the only way to reach the lake where the Shrine Prison is located -which you need to do in order to progress- is to sail up two very narrow rivers. Though, your ship will always be pushed backwards by the Shrine's guardian's song until you gain the Lovely Memories item.
    • Dragon Quest IV: The Final Boss is in the Overworld behind the Final Dungeon, since you can only take your active party into a dungeon. This way, you can use a magical horn to summon the wagon with your inactive party members, who can then swap in and out during the big showdown. You remembered to give the horn to one of your active party members, right?
    • Dragon Quest V: Nadiria is comprised of three large landmasses linked by narrow bridges. As soon as the party set foot on the second continent, they are forced to walk down a narrow gorge so the player cannot possibly miss the town of Precaria.
    • Dragon Quest VI:
      • The Hero cannot leave Weaver's Peak -the starting town- and begin exploring the first overworld without fighting his way through the Pass to Haggleton.
      • In order to reach Murdaw's Underkeep, you need persuade the King of Somnia to open the checkpoint closing the southern mountain pass. In order to persuade the King, you need the Ra's Mirror. In order to undertake the quest for the Ra's Mirror, you need to cross the north-eastern mountain pass, which is blocked by yet another checkpoint until the Hero and Carver fulfill several previous missions.
      • The heroes need to descend into a cavern called the Lucid Grotto and obtain some Dream Dew to be able interact with the Phantom World. The only way to reach that surrounded-by-mountains cavern is via a narrow bridge.
    • Dragon Quest VIII:
      • The bridge between Trodain and Farebury is broken before the events of the story, so the kingdom of Trodain can only be approached from the west.
      • Subverted with the door to Moonshadow Land; the official (but legendary) doorway is atop Wisher's Peak, but the technical requirements are met by a window in Trodain Castle's library.
    • Dragon Quest IX: Grotto hallways have rocks or other obstacles every few feet, making it impossible to pass by larger monsters when they're sitting in the narrower areas.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Utterly averted in Final Fantasy II. Other than various islands, there's nowhere you can't go as soon as you leave the first town of the game (theoretically, at least, assuming you don't get horribly murdered by enemies several levels above you the second you stray too far off the beaten path.)
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, your trip to Galbadia Garden takes you through a forest in a narrow mountain pass. As soon as you set foot in that forest, the second Laguna sequence in the game begins, forcing what is effectively your party into a weird crystalline dungeon.
    • Final Fantasy IX: Conde Petie, the dwarf home situated on two roots of the Iifa tree spanning a chasm between a large plateau and the mountains, blocks passage to the Iifa Tree and Madain Sari, the village of the summoners.
      • Gizmaluke's Grotto is another example, a small cave that serves as the only ground passage between Lindbulm and neighboring Burmecia.
      • The various Gates (South Gate, etc.), in a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, are a mixed example. In-universe they regulate passage through the mountains, both on foot and by airship (at least those which rely on Mist). BUT, for the actual player's experience, they do not fit the trope at all. South Gate is the only one players can even enter, but the southern entrance/exit is up on a plateau they won't be able to reach or leave unless they already have one of the means to get past mountains (all of which render the chokepoint moot).
    • In Final Fantasy XII, thanks to an MMORPG-like overworld, it takes very long time to reach your real destinations marked on the map. Most dungeons — whether they are plains, mountains, beaches, forests, or caves — are just there to extend the amounts of running, fighting and minor cutscenes.
  • In Legend of Legaia, several such blockades exist:
    • Drake Castle (blocking Drake Kingdom from Mt. Rikuroa and Noa's cave; bypassable once Zeto's Dungeon is beaten), Mt. Rikuroa (blocking Drake Kingdom from Noa's cave; bypassable once Zeto's Dungeon is beaten), the Biron Monastery (blocking Drake Kingdom from the East and West Voz Forests and Genesis Trees and the Ancient Wind Cave), the Ancient Wind Cave (blocking Drake Kingdom from the Sebucus Islands; the Witch who runs the inn here explains that there haven't been travelers since the mist came, so travel between Drake and the Sebecus Islands before then presumably had to travel through the narrow caverns and consisted only of people on foot or traveling with Seru), and Zeto's Dungeon (the mist from which blocks a passage to Noa's cave). The Sebucus Islands go on to prove this game is filled with the cliche. Almost all of these literally follow the Mountain Passage premise, and those that do not operate in a similar fashion. Biron Monastery is a near-perfect example in that you must enter through narrow doors (multiple sets), proceed through the training/entrance hall, through a shrine room (close enough to a throne room), up stairs, past the sleeping quarters (barracks), and through another hall and up the stairs in the hall (multiple sets) and then out two more sets of narrow doors.
    • The Biron Monastery gets a pass, because the deadly mist that's been covering the world for the last ten years had to be held back somehow, and the solution to that was to make all entrances and exits in Biron airlocks. Traffic is restricted, but since there's no traffic to speak off, it's not a problem.
  • The Lufia series uses this trope a lot. Caves feature stairs leading out (or in, depending on your perspective, but you only see the stairs once you're inside), and many caves are mandatory routes of travel from one place to another (without a ship or submarine), which would seem to make traveling with a wagon or any sort of vehicle difficult. Also, many of these caves appear to be dark and wet and leading horses or any wheeled vehicle down a slippery set of stairs in darkness is not conducive to safe travel (though there are monsters anyway, but a sword can't thwart the danger of slipping and breaking your leg). The argument could be made that the stairs are simply an abstraction, but they could have just as easily abstracted a gradual slope rather than clearly cut (and bumpy for wheeled travel) stone stairs.
  • The first Star Ocean features the city of Coule sitting right smack in the middle of a mountain blocking travel between Kraat and Portmith.
  • StarTropics. Several times. This game perfected the implementation of the Fetch Quest, But Thou Must!, and Broken Bridge tropes.
  • Golden Sun has this; in fact, one the few occasions were it doesn't have it, it's common for players to miss the town/dungeon that they were meant to go to first (for example, people attempting to go to Kolima and instead going north and fighting Saturos -- who is a very hard early-game boss with 2000HP -- and then fighting the first real boss, Tret -- who has 500HP).
  • Phantasy Star III: Especially annoying, even if you're a Layan. Throughout the earlier generations, the only way to get to other worlds is by traveling through caves.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Justified in Morrowind with Ghostgate. It was intentionally constructed as the only way through the Ghostfence into Red Mountain. It is full of the Temple's elite soldiers and contains an inn/temple for pilgrims making a pilgrimage inside for religious purposes. However, you can freely hover over the wall at any point if you have a levitate spell, which can be learned very early in the game. You don't even actually have to go inside the building; you just have to hit a couple of buttons to open the gate. This makes sense, however, as the Ghostfence is meant to keep things from getting out. Given that most of what is contained within are deranged monstrosities, even hitting a couple of buttons is beyond their abilities.
    • Shows up in Oblivion in the Planes of Oblivion, where getting to the central towers often requires going through a series of caves filled with monsters or in a looping path around the rocks at the edge of the map. note  Mankind is not privy to the details of how you'd actually launch an invasion from these supposed military installations.
  • World of Warcraft has zones connected only at certain points, with the rest of the border blocked by impassable mountains, wide seas or gulfs, or in the case of Pandaria a huge wall. These can be skipped when you learn flying for each part of the world, though it is likely that by that time you will be done with questing there. A few chokepoints need to be opened by a quest event:
    • Getting to Winterspring means either fighting past the Furbolgs guarding the tunnel into it or gaining their trust, though with the expansions this has become both much easier and less important.
    • Most zones of the Calaclysm expansion have introductory quests that bring the player to them, though simply flying there is always an option.
    • The Vale of Eternal Blossoms, with the Hub City for Pandaria, is unlocked after a few quests to gain the trust of the Celestials guarding it.
  • Ossa Trail and Gaoracchia Forest in Tales of Symphonia.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, you have to go through a cave called the Weasand of Cados to get to the desert from Nordopolica.
  • The Legend of Dragoon is made of this, especially on Serdio. To get to Hellena Prison from Seles, you have to go through the Forest. From Hellena to Bale, you have to pass through the Prairie and Limestone Cave. From the Kingdom of Basil to the Sandoran Empire, you have to go through the Volcano Villude and the Dragon's Nest. Disc 2 is just as bad in Tiberoa.
  • In Wandering Hamster, Bob and James have to pass through the Troll Mountains to get to Lord Broaste's castle the rest of the world.
  • The map of Shining the Holy Ark is split down the middle by a mountain range. The only way to get through is by a going through a series of caves, that are of course invested with monsters. The top of the map is covered with Frictionless Ice which seemed to be designed to waste the players time.
  • The overworld maps in Guild Wars 2 aren't technically connected to each other, so geography is used to funnel the players to the portals that are used to travel to different areas.
  • The roads between each nation in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory are infested with monsters and capped with a Beef Gate that must be cleared once to allow the party to fast-travel past them. When Plutia asks why they have to do this when the previous game had no such mechanic, Neptune shrugs and comments it's a Retcon.
  • Dynasty Warriors and its many spinoffs tend to have the map littered with chokepoints very convenient for funneling you into confrontations with non-Red Shirt enemies. In the loosely historical entries, many of these are based on actual chokepoints, although the geography bears little to no resemblance to real life.
  • Faria: While the game mostly uses Broken Bridges, ocean crossings and unscalable cliffs to restrict travel between areas, the Second Cave somehow connects two widely separated continents, and the last town, which won't let you enter it until the endgame, blocks off the only way to the final area.
  • Used occasionally in Battle for Wesnoth, but downplayed or subverted as often as it's played straight thanks to Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors. For example, "shallow water" tiles will heavily slow most units down as well as inflict a stiff penalty to their defense stat while "deep water" is largely impassible, forcing you to fight for control of single hex-wide "bridge" tiles... unless you have access to flying units or merfolk (who actually get a terrain bonus from water tiles). Some Undead-faction units like zombies or skeletons can also use "deep water" tiles to become invisible thanks to their "Submerge" trait (which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin), but this doesn't come up much in campaigns because it'd be a huge Game-Breaker.
  • Total War: Warhammer has obstructions like rivers and mountains on the campaign map, although certain factions (Dwarfs, Greenskins, Beastmen, Wood Elves, and Skaven) have the ability to bypass them. The second game adds chokepoint battle maps where passing to the opposite side is only possible at one or two points.
  • Stellaris Invokes this by default in the galactic maps of hyperspace lanes that are randomly drawn up at the start of the game, as the algorithm that draws up the network will tend to have clusters of stars that are all connected to each other with only a few other hyperspace lanes leading out to other clusters. This leads to some systems naturally becoming chokepoints that are easier for the defender to place their fleets in to block invaders. This can be either Exaggerated or Defied in the game creation options by sliding the ruler for Hyperspace Lane Density back and forth (x0.25 makes for fewer hyperspace lanes on average per system, making chokepoints more frequent, while x5 would add so many lanes per system there probably won't be any chokepoints to speak of).
    • Experienced players will also know how to exploit these chokepoints to make them even more effective. FTL Inhibitors can be researched and automatically installed at stations, which makes it impossible for enemy ships to leave the system through other lanes than the one they arrived through, requiring them to capture the station first. Stations at chokepoints can also be outfitted with the finest defenses energy credits can buy, as well as a variety of subsystems that make enemy ships less effective. If you're really lucky, there'll be an inhabitable planet in the system. Since planets also get FTL Inihibitors once the tech is researched, you can build a perfectly servicable Shieldworld with a single planetary shield and more fortresses than you can shake a stick at. Congratulations, your chokepoint is officially undefeatable.
  • Last Scenario has a bunch of those as a way to let the player build on their teams. Unlike most RPGs, the game doesn't feature random encounters on the world map.
  • Wild ARMs featured a number of these as levels. You need to go through the Mountain Pass to reach Milama and the Guardian Shrine, Sand River to reach Ship Graveyard and climbing Ka Dingle is necessary to reach Malduke. Wandering Isle had to be traversed to reach the Dead/Fallen Sanctuary in the original but it was removed in the remake.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Serpent's Pass is one of the few direct routes across a lake to Ba Sing Se. Of course, it's guarded by a giant sea serpent, and later by the Fire Nation.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: In "Goose Chase", Temutai and his army have cornered Po, Zeng, and Xinshi against a cliff crevice. However, the opening to get into the crevice is only wide enough for one person, allowing Po to defeat the entire army as they enter one at a time. However, defeating an entire army is nonetheless exhausting, and he's totally helpless by the time Temutai himself gets in.

    Real Life 
  • The Strait of Hormuz, which separate the Indian Ocean from the Persian Gulf (with major oil fields) — sink a couple of vessels (or toss some mines) in there and you seriously damage the global economy as 20% of the world's oil passes through it annually.
    • In fact, this did happen during the Iran-Iraq war, where the Iranians mined the strait to prevent Iraqi tankers from passing through (which was effective for a while, up until the US navy engaged with the Iranians and sunk half their operational fleet). It's speculated that nowadays Iran can very seriously mine the strait again and cause naval damage in the event of a US-Iranian war.
  • The Suez Canal was blocked for several years following the Six Day War of 1967. For a more recent example that hits nerds closer to home, an accident in the Suez Canal in 2004 blocked a shipment of Playstation 2's heading for the UK holiday season. For an even more recent example, an accident in 2021 brought things to a halt for several days and caused a major bump in the road to the global economy.
  • The Khyber Pass, since time immemorial a chokepoint connecting Central Asia to South Asia.
  • The Panama Canal — its construction saves several thousand miles and several months' worth of sailing around a notoriously treacherous Cape Horn around the southern tip of South America. Very useful historically for the United States, as with it naval ships could be transferred much more easily between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as needed.
    • Historically speaking, the Panama Canal's dimensions have acted as a limit on ship size. The United States Navy has long been limited by its dimensions, with the South Dakota and Iowa class battleships having less than six inches of clearance on the sides. Similarly, the "Panamax" (Or, since 2016's lock expansion, "Neo-Panamx") specification denotes the upper size of commercial vessels that can fit. Modern American supercarriers are in the "post-Panamax" category of ships too large for the cannal.
  • Singapore, a major sea transit hub in South-East Asia. It's basically filthy rich just from harbor taxes alone. The Malacca Strait in general sees huge amounts of maritime trade (pirates are ever-present threat), which is why China is funding the development of the new Kra Canal in Thailand.
  • Gibraltar and its namesake Strait, as it connects the Mediterranean with the Atlantic. British control of it since the early 18th Century allowed it to exercise control over the trade through it and helps bottle up any potential invasion fleet from there sailing on the Isles.
  • The Bosporus and Dardenelles. Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul's location as a crossroads of trade both over land and by sea made it a very lucrative trading destination through history. Militarily, it also allowed its owner to severely restrict other countries' power projection. The current Montreaux Convention governs what Turkey can and cannot do in regards to other nations' ships passing through — during the Cold War the US-allied government often used those terms to largely keep the Soviet Black Sea fleet within the Black Sea and not out in the eastern Mediterranean.
    • The Soviets, in turn, got around these legal restrictions with some very creative totally-not-an-aircraft-carrier designs.note  They also turned the legal blockage back on the US on occasion — since the treaty stipulates a limit on the total amount of tonnage that can traverse the strait at a given moment, the Soviets would often just leave a ship there in mid-transit to prevent the US or other NATO ships from using it to get a ship into the Black Sea, effectively turning it into a Warsaw Pact lake.
    • Proposals for a canal bypassing the Bosporus Strait dated back to the 16th century, each time abandoned. Into the 2010s and the 2020s, the canal has been approved to be built 30 kilometers west of Istanbul that it would bypass the Bosporus relieving congestion, able to charge tolls, divert dangerous cargo, and to bypass the Montreaux Convention allowing foreign naval vessels into the Black Sea.
  • The Mohawk Valley in upstate New York was a vital target for both the British and the French during the Seven Years' War, serving as one of the only easy ways to get from the East Coast to the Midwest. French control would've heavily restricted the growth of Britain's northern colonies, while British control would've confined France to Canada.note  Years later, in peacetime, it became a key factor in the state of New York's economic growth; at one point nearly 80% of American exports went through New York City because of the Erie Canal running through the valley, connecting the Midwest to the Hudson River.
  • The GIUK (Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom) gap in the North Atlantic was a key consideration in warplanning for both World War II and a speculative World War III for the British and later the Americans. Control of this gap (combined with British control of Gibraltar) meant that supplies and manpower from the US could traverse the Atlantic relatively safely to the UK or Western Europe — they could still be harrassed (as happened in World War Two) but large-scale interdiction by hostile powers would be nigh-impossible.
  • The "Fulda Gap" of valleys in Hesse-Thuringen gained strategic relevance during the Cold War. Thanks to geography, NATO planners saw three plausible avenues of attack for a Warsaw Pact offensive against NATO: Hesse/the North German Plain, the Fulda Gap cutting through central-southern West Germany, and up the Danube River through Austria. The USA drew two conclusions about their enemy's intentions: one was that the Soviets would naturally focus on defeating them by attacking through the Fulda gap so they could take the Rhein-Main Air Base and the West German capital. The other possibility was that the Warsaw Pact would launch a pincer attack with two thrusts, one on the north German plain and one through the Fulda Gap, and attempt to trap NATO forces in a pocket between them. Naturally, Warsaw Pact force deployments in East Germany encouraged these impressions as this would make the opening gambit of the actual offensive — on the north German plain, to trap NATO forces in a pocket against the sea — come as a surprise. The Soviets abandoned the idea of responding to NATO aggression with such an offensive under Gorbachev (having made no plans for starting an aggressive war, in accordance with Soviet ideological claims that there was no need to do so as Capitalism would crumble from within), and upon the end of the Cold War withdrew from East Germany entirely.
  • The Saint Lawrence River in Canada is a massive river that goes from the Great Lakes (specifically Lake Ontario) all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, while passing by Toronto, Ottawa (the national capital) and Montreal, among other cities. For much of the history of Canada, it was a vital shipping route, but around the end of the 19th century, it was also an important strategic waterway due to commercial and military shipyards based on the Great Lakes. It is well-patrolled and protected even today, but especially during World War II, where it was a significant target for Axis submarines.
  • On a more tactical level, Thermopylae Pass was what allowed a severely outnumbered Greek army to hold up and inflict severe losses on the invading Persians during the second invasion of Greece before being overrun, buying enough time for Athens to be evacuated before the Persians could capture it. The pass being so narrow in an era where most combat was hand-to-hand meant that the Persians could not capitalize on their superior numbers. Notably, the Persians did shoot a disturbing number of arrows at the Greeks (archaeological digs have found and continue to find arrow heads from the area), but the heavy shields of the Greek soldiers made that tactic ineffective. The Persians did eventually win the battle, but only by finding a much longer path around the pass to attack the Greeks from behind.
    • This tactic was repeated a few meters away and about 2400 years later by ANZAC troops in World War II during the Nazi invasion of Greece (though sedimentary disposition had increased the size of the pass, making it less effective as a defensive barrier).
  • This is part of the reason the Caribbean is so associated with pirates during the Age of Exploration — treasure ships heading back to Spain from the New World must pass through here in order to be able to catch the mid-latitude westerly winds to get them back to Europe.
  • One of many reasons Switzerland is able to maintain neutrality despite being surrounded by "great powers" is because access to the country is generally only available through mountain passes in the Alps, which are easily defended against any kind of land invasion. And the sheer height of the Alps makes any kind of airborne invasion or attack impractical.
  • As a general rule, if there is a mountain pass, it becomes a natural chokepoint for defense. Mountains are the only barrier that cannot be easily circumvented; forests can be traversed or burned, swamps are dangerous but navigable, rivers can be bridged, and oceans can be crossed, but mountains are either tunneled through, which takes forever and is dangerous, or climbed over, which is equally dangerous to people, supplies and timetables.
  • Even in the age of long-distance air travel chokepoints have developed in airlines' flight networks, especially those in the long-haul business. Most major airlines use a hub-and-spoke model of route-planning where most if not all of an airline's flights fly either to or from a short list of a few major airports, or even just one, as this allows them to serve more destinations using fewer planes by using the hubs as a connecting airport and timing their arrivals carefully. For a large-scale example, Emirates uses Dubai International like this in order to connect many different cities in Europe with many different cities in the Asia-Pacific region without running into the Exponential Potential logistical nightmare of needing that many planes to serve them all.
  • The dawn of the jet age opened up passenger air travel from Western Europe to East Asia, but the jets of the time period would have needed to make several takeoffs and landings to get all the way from, say, London to Tokyo going east across Eurasia because throughout the Cold War the Soviet Union refused to allow foreign airlines to transit its airspace to get between two other countries. However, they discovered that going west the other way around through the Arctic and Alaska was doable on one fuel tank, and from there they could fly on to the rapidly-growing cities in East Asia; it also had the benefit of avoiding the need to fly over politically-unstable regions like the Middle East. Anchorage's airport became far busier of an airport in terms of takeoffs and landings than what its city's own population (less than 50,000 in 1970) would have merited if it hadn't become such an important stopover for such flights from the 1960's into the 1990's. The end of the Cold War (and Russia allowing overflight rights to foreign airlines, albeit at a sizable fee) and newer longer-range planes allowing nonstop flights across the whole ocean has brought passenger air traffic at ANC crashing down to a fraction of what it once was as evidenced by ANC's new expanded terminals now sitting mostly empty; it still serves as an important stop for planes flying cargo, though (turns out sending all your shipments to be sent across the Pacific into one location makes it a good place to sort them onto which exact plane they need to go on).