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Closed Door Rapport

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"Please, I know you're in there
People are asking where you've been
They say, "have courage" and I'm trying to
I'm right out here for you
Just let me in
We only have each other
It's just you and me
What are we gonna do?"
Anna, Frozen

In fiction, one great way to up either the drama or comedy of a conversation is to have it occur through a door. One party shuts the other out in an attempt to avoid the confrontation while the other desperately tries to communicate in spite of the obstructive barrier.

This setup is useful in providing physical distance between characters to mirror psychological separation, and for its flexibility in resolution. This distance may just as easily be broken down by the opening of the door as suspended indefinitely by the character choosing not to emerge. Usually, the character behind the door is the more emotionally closeted of the pair while the character on the outside is more honest and straightforward, having to persuade the other that opening the door is not a bad thing.

Most commonly portrayed with romantic relationships and between parents and children who don't see eye-to-eye. Occasionally accompanied by the stock phrase "let me in," providing a deliberate ambiguity between "let me into the room" and "take me into your confidence."

Sister Trope to Separated by the Wall. If it's a washroom door that the characters are speaking through, see Locked in the Bathroom.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • ef - a fairy tale of the two. has Hiro and Kei separated by a door as they work out her unlucky childhood friend status.
  • In Junjou Romantica when Nowaki confronts Hiroki about their breakup at Hiroki's workplace, Hiroki runs back to his office and locks Nowaki out causing a bit of a scene. He is not persuaded to open the door.
  • In Kimi ni Todoke Sawako and Kazehaya finally clear things up during the School Festival with a conversation behind the classroom's door.
  • Episode 22 of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury has Suletta and Miorine reunite and reconcile with Miorine's bedroom door between them.
  • Episode 3 of Suite Pretty Cure ♪ used this for one of the show's most emotional scenes (so far). The lock broke just before Kanade came to confront Hibiki face-to-face and would have done so otherwise.
  • In Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, this happens when Sakura hides in her room leaving Shaoran outside in the chess world.
  • In The Weatherman Is My Lover Koganei goes to Amasawa's apartment when he skips out from work and they have a heart-to-heart on opposite sides of the door, culminating with Koganei's request, "Won't you let me in? Let me into your heart, Amasawa." Amasawa decides to take his chance.

    Comic Books 
  • Crossed: "The Shrink" has a pair of estranged brothers talk to each other through a locked door, the one behind the door deliberately infecting himself with the Crossed virus so the older (the titular shrink) can do a therapy session with him as the disease takes hold (and as Crossed surround the house). At the end of the arc, it's been revealed that the older brother molested the younger one as children, the door is unlocked and the older brother joins him in the room to await being killed by the Crossed.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: After Rewind is badly injured in a fight, Chromedome slumps against the door of their quarters, when an unknown speaker comes to talk to him, saying that if Chromedome doesn't want anyone to end up like Rewind, then they've got a job for him... Chromedome's response isn't shown, but later issues confirm he definitely took the offer up.

    Fan Works 
  • In Lily's Secret Harry freaks out and hides in a closet after forgetting to keep his glamor spell active and Draco Malfoy tries to coax him out.
  • In A Muggle Gap Year, Bill Weasley spends an hour trying to comfort George through a closed door after their brother Fred's funeral.
  • In A Robust Solution, at first Fluttershy won't let Rarity into her cottage after Fluttershy's Freak Out, and Rarity has to talk to her through a closed, locked, and barred door.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Belle and the Beast have an angry discussion through her door when she refuses to come to dinner.
  • "Do You Want To Build a Snowman?" from Frozen. Anna repeatedly goes to her sister Elsa's door and asks her to play with her. In turn, Elsa, who is terrified of hurting Anna with her powers, repeatedly shuts her out. The song eventually culminates in the deaths of their parents, and even then Elsa is too afraid to let Anna in.
  • Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas: In "Mickey's Dog-Gone Christmas", Pluto wrecks Mickey's holiday decorations and is sent to his doghouse. A little later, Mickey, feeling guilty for yelling at him, walks over to the doghouse and tries to clear the air between them. When he gets no response, Mickey looks inside to find that Pluto has discarded his collar and ran away from home.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has Miles's dad trying to reach out to his son through the closed door of his dorm room. What he doesn't know is that Miles is silent because he's been Bound and Gagged with webbing from the other Spider People, who decided to kick Miles off the team for his own safety.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Across the Universe (2007) had this for one of their musical numbers. Prudence, who had a crush on Sadie, locks herself in a closet after she realizes that Sadie and Jojo are now a couple. So the gang (minus Sadie and Jojo, incidentally, who have a thing they have to get to) sing "Dear Prudence" to convince her to come out of the closet, get out of her funk, and see the world for how wonderful it is.
  • The Aviator between Howard Hughes and Katharine Hepburn. Hughes has locked himself in his room because of his fear of disease, and former Love Interest Hepburn turns up to rally his spirits.
  • In Death at a Funeral, Simon locks himself in the bathroom after realizing he's accidentally ingested a powerful hallucinogen. His girlfriend Martha spends the next half-hour trying to get him to come out. When he does come out, it's not through the door. It's through the window onto the roof. And he's naked.
  • In Love Actually Liam Neeson's character often talks to his stepson through the door, as Sam hardly leaves his room after the death of his mother. Sam mainly responds by leaving notes on the door itself.
  • In The Midnight Meat Train, after an intense sequence in which Leon barely escapes from Mahogany, he promptly locks himself in the bathroom to take a good look at his wounds when he returns to the apartment, resulting in a panicked Maya, already concerned about his growing obsession, attempting to reach him through the door.
  • The Negotiator milks this for all it's worth — both Danny Roman and Chris Sabian are introduced doing this. Roman is talking with a gunman. Sabian is talking with his wife.

  • This was a common trope in ancient Roman lyric poetry, portrayed as the narrator waiting at his lover's gate.
  • After Betsy the Vampire Queen, possessed by the Book of the Dead, attacks Jessica and nearly kills her, Jessica locks herself in her room. Betsy (full of remorse) leaves her a baby monitor and communicates with her via it for most of the book. Jessica doesn't respond.
  • Discworld:
    • In Men at Arms, Angua, shocked her secret is out, has two in quick succession, one from the canine point of view with Gaspode The Wonder Dog, and a later one with Carrot, who puts the human argument about her werewolf status.
    • Lords and Ladies sees Magrat Garlick having pre-wedding jitters and locking herself in her bedroom; Nanny Ogg has to talk her into getting married by being very persuasive through a locked door.
  • Catarina briefly does this with her brother in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! after he locks himself in his room out of fear of hurting her with his out-of-control magic. Since him growing up as a shut-in leads to one of the death flags that she's trying to avoid, she quickly decides to take a more... direct approach in getting him to open up to her.
  • Graceling Realm: Fire insists on only speaking with king Nash through a closed door after he couldn't stop himself and kissed her when they first met.
  • The "parent-child" variety features at one point in Komarr, featuring a young boy who has just learned he has a (treatable) genetic disorder but lives in a society where "mutants" are reviled and shunned, and so refuses to go to school. Miles Vorkosigan is able to first talk his way into the room, and then talk the young man into going to school.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inverted in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Repairs". Hannah is haunted by a malicious entity, which she believes is God's punishment for her sins. The agents confine her in the Cage, which is shielded in such a way that the entity cannot reach her. Sitting against the door, Hannah begs them to let her out before the entity hurts someone, and Skye, on the outside, talks her out of it.
  • Cheers:
    • In the episode "Dinner at Eight-ish", Lilith, Frasier, and Diane each retreat into the bathroom after different arguments over their relationships. Discussions continue through the door for the rest of the episode, until Frasier finally gets fed up and just locks the door.
    • A later episode has Woody and Kelly sort of have one of these... but since both Woody and Kelly are The Ditz, they miss the point, and Woody keeps opening the door every time he responds to Kelly, much to the bemusement of a watching Sam.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This happens between the Tenth Doctor and Jack Harkness, and it's lampshaded in a commentary that the two of them can only be open and honest with each other when one of them is trapped in a room full of deadly radiation and there is a giant closed door between them.
    • A truly heart-breaking example in "The Girl Who Waited", when older Amy sits outside the TARDIS door, telling her younger self to have the life with Rory she could not have with him.
  • The fourth season premiere of Once Upon a Time has a scene where Emma tries to reach out to Regina through a closed door. Regina is sitting slumped against the door, refusing to answer Emma's pleas as she blames her for robbing her of her happy ending with Robin Hood by bringing Marian back to life. Not coincidentally, this is the same episode that introduced Elsa and Anna to the series.

  • The J-pop song "Laugh Maker" by Bump of Chicken is about the titular character trying to convince someone who's been crying alone to let him in so he can cheer them up. The person eventually gives in, but discovers that the door is stuck and Laugh Maker has seemingly abandoned them. Just as they start to give in to despair, Laugh Maker breaks in through the window.
  • The Touhou Project-based spinoff "Locked Girl" features Marisa repeatedly urging Patuli to open the library door and come with her. Patchy's a bit too reluctant to try, so Marisa eventually resorts to using the Master Spark to blow the door to pieces so she can finally get through.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • in Christianity, this is invoked by Jesus in the Book of Revelation: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Rev 3:20, NIV). The line even inspired fan art by Holman Hunt.

  • Played for Laughs in The Comedy of Errors, where the door is used to obscure the identity of Separated at Birth twins from one another as they argue.
  • In Elisabeth, Franz Joseph sings about how much he misses Sisi's company and wants to be comforted by her thanks to his stressful duties as the Emperor. She has none of it, confronts him on his (and his mother Sophie)'s treatment of Rudolf, and demands final say on how her children are raised.
  • In ''Heathers, the song "Meant to be Yours" is all JD singing to Veronica while she's barricaded herself in a closet to hide from him. In the song, he explains his plan to blow up the school with everyone inside and breaks down the door to find that Veronica has faked her suicide by hanging.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Melody, the title character has a conversation with Arnold through her bedroom door in which she tells him that she’s sick. She’s really not feeling well, but Arnold decides to put going to work on time ahead of getting Melody some medicine to ease her pain. It is notable that he doesn't even come into the room to check on her.

  • In El Goonish Shive, this situation comes up twice during the "MV5" storyline, first with Grace and Ellen then with Sarah and Ellen. Oddly enough, both times involve the basement door and one of the girls involved being topless.
  • In Homestuck, Rose Lalonde destroys the gates that lead to her land (Land of Light and Rain) so that people have extreme difficulty navigating the gates that lead to her. This ends up isolating Rose, bringing her closer to the dark influences of the Horrorterrors since the others can only communicate through Pesterchum.
  • In The Meek, Phe locks her husband Luca out of their bedroom after a heated argument got out of hand and gives him an ultimatum; he can have his revenge, or her, but not both. It's not until Luca apologises does Phe open the door and drag him inside for make-up sex.

     Web Original 
  • Unwanted Houseguest: The music video for "Locked Out" is this. The song, however, ends with him commenting that he hasn't even bothered to knock yet, so it's possible the person inside didn't hear any of it and wasn't aware that he was there.

    Western Animation 
  • In Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, the HBO Storybook Musical version of The House on East 88th Street, Lyle locks himself in the closet when his old owner arrives to take him away from his new family, and Joshua sings to him through the door.
  • The Simpsons: In "Ice Cream of Margie (with the Light Blue Hair)", Marge holes herself in her bedroom after Homer accidentally destroys her popsicle-stick statues, and he tries to apologize to her from out in the hall. He eventually resorts to taking pictures of his own sorry expression to get her to know how sorry he is.
  • When SpongeBob SquarePants takes Pearl to her prom, she gets humiliated by his behavior, declaring the night ruined - and he breaks down crying and shutting himself in the girls' room. Pearl tries to console him through the door, and he replies in incoherent hysterical sobs.

Alternative Title(s): Discussion Through The Door