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Dangerous Workplace

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"To ensure that sufficient power remains for core testing protocols, all safety devices have been disabled. The Enrichment Center respects your right to have questions or concerns about this policy."
PA System, Portal 2

Some locations in TV land are far, far more dangerous than their real-life counterparts. The chances of a violent death are high, for major and minor characters alike. Often Lampshaded by an X Days Since sign when played for comedy.

See also No OSHA Compliance and No Product Safety Standards.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Duel Academia in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. It's on an island miles away from the rest of civilization, and is sitting on top of the ruins which hold the spirits of three evil monster cards. That's not all: there's an abandoned dorm in which all of the students in it have mysteriously disappeared, and the school has made only minimal attempts to cover it up. The whole island is a magnet for evil spirits to manifest themselves in card games in which people's souls are on the line.

    Comic Books 
  • Any given supervillain holding facility is one of these, seeing as how they are one and all Cardboard Prisons. In particular, one ought not to work at Arkham Asylum without having your insurance paid up and your affairs in order.
    • And with Arkham, have a really good therapist on hand... considering the prison's track record for driving its employees insane.
  • X-Men: The Xavier Institute of Higher Learning was billed as a safe haven for mutants where they could learn how to develop and control their powers and bond with fellow mutants. Hazards include repeated invasion attempts by kill squads from alien empires, supervillain attacks, training simulators becoming sentient and murderous, anti-mutant hate group attacks, and occasionally the other students. The sad thing is that the Xavier Institute was still the safest place for mutants in the world. After one too many attacks the X-Men finally gave up and moved operations to San Francisco. When that didn't pan out either they created a new mutant "Utopia".

    Film — Live Action 
  • Sleep Dealer: The title is slang for third-world workplaces where impoverished "tele-migrants" use Brain Computer Interfaces to control mechanical avatars engaged in menial labor thousands of miles away in wealthy nations. The workers operate in cramped, windowless corridors where they stand in place for hours on end in a cybernetic harness, waving their arms and shifting side to side to control a robot puppet half the world away. They wear contact lens screens that transmit footage from their remote worksites and masks that prevent them from speaking with their colleagues. On a good day workers end their shift at a Sleep Dealer totally drained of energy, shambling off to their cramped barracks like zombies to get a few hours of rest. It's not uncommon to see employees collapse midway through a shift (only to be carried off the floor so another Node Worker can take their place). On a bad day, workers might end up blinded by the contact lens screens or electrocuted by a cheap harness.

  • The garment factory of The Angel of Khan el-Khalili, where Aliaa and her sister Aisha worked under horrible conditions. That included high quotas, dangerous equipment that could injure the workers, no breaks for hours on end, and owners who locked their employees in the building to stop them from stealing the wares. When a fire started in the workshop, the workers nearly died because they couldn't escape.
    Work at the factory has never been fair. You labor endlessly, for wages that are a pittance at best. Because you are women, the company pays all of you less. And if you are younger, less still. The machines are dangerous. Youíve seen women scalded by ruptured steam valves or lacerated by weaving looms. The floor bosses donít care. The company demands they meet quotas, and the lot of them wring every last bit of sweat and blood from each of you.
  • Willy Wonka's factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory practically runs on No OSHA Compliance, and the crazy inventions being tested on the Oompa-Loompas have resulted in such mishaps as one growing so much hair that "we had to use a lawn mower to keep it in check", 20 of them being turned into blueberries, one floating off into space, and (in the sequel) 131 being de-aged out of this plane of existence, though it's implied or stated that most of them were rescued. Note that Mr. Wonka, when similar disasters happen to his visitors, talks about the solutions as if they were standard safety procedures.
  • The Factory Witches of Lowell has the early-1800's fabric mills of Massachusetts, where raw cotton is spun into thread and woven into fabric all under a single roof. The Merrimack Mills is noisy, cramped, dark, poorly ventilated, and literally making the workers sick. Mill girls work thirteen hours a day, six days a week, continuously breathing in cotton lint (which causes lung diseases like Byssinosis) or at risk of injuring themselves with the dangerous belt-driven machinery. When there's no sunlight, the floors are lit by lamps that burn smoky, smelly whale oil. The book starts with them going on strike for better working conditions (like more windows for ventilation and workdays capped at 10 hours).
  • The Fragility of Bodies: The Buenos Aires train tracks are in a bad shape, with many of the security measures meant to ensure people don't walk into the tracks not working or not existing. This is a big part of why the Game of Chicken competition started happening there, as even if someone dies, people will assume it's an accident.
  • Hogwarts in Harry Potter. A castle which sits right next to a monster infested forest, with a notable fatality rate for students and staff alike. It gets even worse when the school is invaded by Death Eaters.
  • In Tom Holt's J.W. Wells & Co. series, the firm of J. W. Wells and Co. might seem like a great advancement opportunity - but that assumes you live long enough to advance. And don't wind up transformed into a piece of office equipment.
  • In The Man with the Terrible Eyes, there's Iotech. Aside from all the torture and unethical experiments going on, there are also shadow monsters being stored in the basement.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Camp Half-Blood is a safe place for demigods from monsters because of a magical barrier. However even inside the camp, games of Capture the Flag involve using real weapons, the children of Ares have land mines surrounding their cabin, and the camp director is Dionysus who is perfectly willing to turn his campers into dolphins or plants for making him mad. It also doesn't help that the Big Bad has found ways to get past the borders and allow monsters to enter the camp.
    • In the sequel series The Heroes of Olympus, the Roman version of Camp Half-Blood isn't much safer. They don't have any magical borders to keep monsters out except around the center of the city, leaving defending the city to the demigods themselves. This actually leads to the camp being attacked multiple times during the series.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: The existence of this trope motivated a Retool for the show's seventh season, which moved across the country to Washington and hauled the main character before a subcommittee to explain why his former workplace was so poorly defended. Over the course of seven seasons, CTU Los Angeles is the site of numerous incursions, including a terrorist bombing (S2), an EMP attack (S3), a nerve gas attack (S5), an assault by Chinese mercenaries (S6), three shootings of unarmed characters, two rampages by the same character in different seasons, a schizophrenic woman committing suicide, a murder disguised as suicide, multiple acts of non-lethal violence (torture, physical combat) between characters and multiple undercover informants working for the enemy. There's a reason why CTU Los Angeles was shut down - the producers of the show couldn't find any credible threat to throw against the division anymore. In total, more than 100 CTU employees died during the first six seasons of the series.
    • The licensed video game based on 24 includes a level set in the CTU. Naturally, it's been taken hostage again, only this time it's by Peter Madsen (Christian Kane of Leverage), setting off an EMP to render the office pitch-dark and inescapable.
  • Speaking of Christian Kane: He played a stressed-out attorney for two seasons on Angel. Why so stressed? Well, he works for Wolfram & Hart (a parody of real-life firm Jacoby & Meyers) which has a very high mortality rate for a legal firm. The banality of office work is taken to a macabre level on this show: clerks going apeshit and bludgeoning co-workers with fire extinguishers for failing to replace the copier toner; and of course the annual Christmas layoff (where employees aren't sacked but rather cut up and thrown into sacks).
    • One explanation for its ridiculous death rate can be attributed to the fact that apparently when under threat the entire building locks down and a spell is enacted to make anyone who dies come back as a bloodthirsty, indiscriminate zombie...why did they think that was a good idea?
    • Angel lampshades the "high-risk employment" of working at the firm in "Hellbound", noting for the first time that the building ought to be full of spooks — but isn't. This leads the good guys to realize that a particularly powerful ghost is feeding off the weaker ones.
  • Early on, the docks of the Babylon 5 station were this, as many necessary pieces of equipment had been built with sub-standard parts and there was no money available to fix it. In the end the dock workers go on strike after an accident claims one of their own, a government negotiator invokes the Rush Act to have it broken by the station military, and Sinclair - after reading the text of the Rush Act and seeing he's authorized to use any means necessary - reallocates money from the defence budget and gives the dock workers everything they demand for on the condition they get back to work, which they do.
  • Sun Hill police station in The Bill: At least 10 Police Officers have died inside this station, in its front car park or as a result of injuries sustained in either. Not to mention the prisoners who die in their cells.
  • Whitbury-Newton Leisure Centre in The Brittas Empire: a few dozen deaths onscreen, and the unnerving boast that "Last year, 600 people visited this Centre and nearly 500 returned home without any loss of life or serious injury" — all this in a Sitcom.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Sunnydale High, though admittedly this is no longer a problem as of the finale. Because it was swallowed up by Hell along with the rest of the town.
    • The Magic Box's storekeeper keeps getting killed over the seasons. In "Real Me", Giles decides to buy the shop and run it with the Scooby Gang there to hangout and protect him.
      • On an eerie note, none of the magic store's owners have lived. This includes Anya (killed by a Bringer) and Giles (killed in Season Eight).
  • Casualty 1906 makes London seem very dangerous, but this is due to the compression of a year of major medical incidents into a mini-series.
  • Criminalists aren't usually in as much danger as cops, but the Las Vegas Crime Lab on CSI is an exception. Either at the lab or in the field, characters have been shot, bitten, beat up, caught in an explosion...the spinoffs don't apply, though, as they are detectives rather than civilians.
  • British Soap Opera Dream Team had a staggering death toll for a show set at football club. The eight season was a particularly amazing year seeing 7 characters killed off in a crash when the season villain rammed his car into the coach carrying the team (he had earlier murdered another main character and the same season saw an unrelated suicide).
  • Global Dynamics in Eureka — and by extension, the entire eponymous town. According to one character, Eureka, which is a high-income, zero-unemployment, low-density suburban town, has a mortality rate twice the national average. Characters frequently take the senseless, totally random deaths of innocents, sometimes in terrible ways, in stride, apparently out of sheer desensitization.
  • Grey's Anatomy: Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital has seen a bombing, a shooting rampage, a plane crash, electrocutions...the fact that the place is named in memory of two man characters says a lot.
    • The doctors dub the place "Seattle Grace Mercy Death" at one point.
    • Oh, and everyone has suffered post-traumatic stress- There Are No Therapists being thankfully averted.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): Jonah Macon had quit his job at a Delaware gunpowder mill because the co-worker next to him had lost three of his fingers in an explosion.
  • London's Burning: A Justified Trope to some extent purely due to the nature of the job, but Blue Watch has seen a remarkable number of firefighters killed or forced out through injury and written off an improbable number of fire engines. And Blackwall seems to have an astonishingly high concentration of business owners with a cavalier attitude towards safety regulations, the consequences of which account for the majority of Blue Watch's call-outs. When a new character shows up in Season 9 with a reputation as a Doom Magnet it ends up being a bit of an Informed Flaw, because who'd notice the difference?
  • Luther: Sticking with British Coppers, working closely with John Luther will significantly lower your life expectancy. It doesn't often end well for innocent bystanders caught up in anything he investigates, either.
  • Midsomer Murders: A detective show about a quiet area of rural England where the murder rate appears to be about 1 in 4 people. Lampshade Hanging about this is, of course, rife.
  • Cabot Cove in Murder, She Wrote: a quaint, little Maine town... in which at least 50 people were murdered in every which way (poisoned marmalade, anyone?)
  • Smallville High had so many students mutate and die it's amazing anyone was left for their graduation (naturally graduation day had its own fatality).
  • The bridge of almost any starship in any of the various Star Treks: because of the unfortunate prevalence of Explosive Instrumentation, there's a good chance a member of the bridge crew will be injured or killed in any given battle.
    Kirk: The chain of command is often a noose.
    • But only if you decided to wear your red uniform that day. And not if you're in the credits.
    • Terok Nor (the Cardassian station now known as Deep Space 9) was certainly dangerous for the Bajoran slaves working in the ore refinery. O'Brien tells Jake tales about how hellishly hot it could get.
      Jake: How could the Bajorans survive that?
      O'Brien: A lot of them didn't.
    • Malon ships from Star Trek: Voyager are heavily-irradiated hellholes known for occasionally producing brain-damaged mutants. They are so dangerous that if a big one explodes, it could poison half a sector.
    • Much of the action of Star Trek: Picard takes place on an abandoned and damaged Borg cube, which is now the site of a reclamation project under joint Romulan-Federation control. The obvious dangers associated with the Borg are spelled out in a speech for new workers, and there's even an "X Days Since" sign indicating how long it's been since anyone was accidentally assimilated.
  • Warehouse 13: If you aren't careful, you can be bludgeoned to death by multiplying dodgeballs. If you are careful, it'll probably be one of the countless defective MacGuffins stacked haphazardly in storage falling off a shelf by itself that spontaneously ruins everyone's day. At one point the main characters have a conversation about how every single previous Warehouse Agent either died, suffered a massive crippling injury, or went completely mental in the line of duty and what it was like doing their job knowing that track record.

  • Tears for Fears: The setting of the song "The Way You Are" is a factory where on-site injuries are so common that everyone is apathetic whenever they occur, and the employees seemingly get hurt at random ("Not for rhyme and not for reason"). The first two verses hint that the narrator had lost his hands in a workplace-related accident, so he has prosthetics as replacements. The second stanza begins with machinery slowing down (the narrator associates this sound with a dying heartbeat), which is reminiscent of the noise it generated when it killed a colleague who was recently buried by his co-workers. They are so emotionally numb that they don't appear concerned that he's dead (or that any of them could be next to die on the job).
    These fingers aren't my fingers
    These hands are not my hands
    No one sees and no one cares what gets broken
    Not for rhyme and not for reason
    What gets broken, what gets broken

    And the rhythm of machinery
    Slows to a heartbeat
    Echoing ghost just laid by those who whistle while they work

    Video Games 
  • Hardspace: Shipbreaker has you disassembling space. Exactly as they were handed in, and under time pressure from mounting debt. Hazards include Explosive Decompression from pressurized ship segments creating deadly shrapnel in zero-G, and potential reactor meltdowns, and those are just the ones you can pretty much always expect; every ship can pack unique deathtraps, from high voltage power lines and unsecured fuel lines to dangerous lab equipment and even hostile AI presence.
  • Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee has meatpacking and preparation plant Rupturefarms, which is full of mines, huge ceiling to floor un guarded/fenced meatsaws often within metres of working employees (see: Slaves), huge Bottomless Pits, and guards ordered to shoot on sight. Oh, and grenade dispensers. Somewhat justified because the owners intend to turn the employees into another kind of meat, so they obviously aren't concerned about their safety.
  • The Bone Pit mine in Dragon Age II. Something horrible shows up to harass/kill/eat the workers in each act. In the first act it's dragons. In the second act it's a crime syndicate, giant spiders and the undead. It reaches a head in the third act when all of the workers are slaughtered by a High Dragon.
  • Aperture Science from Portal. Even before the whole "murderous AI kills entire staff and their daughters" thing, safety clearly wasn't high on the priorities list. In fact, the only reason they invented the long-fall boots, the one protective measure in the game, was because test subjects kept breaking expensive equipment after falling to their deaths.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • Freddy Fazbear's Pizza. In the day, it's nominally safe; by midnight, however, the animatronics start moving around, and when they find the night watch, they'll forcefully stuff him in a Freddy suit which is full of metal beams and wires, and the man inside ends up as mincemeat. The only thing protecting him are two mechanical doors which drain the limited power he has, and when it runs out, they both open up for Freddy to finish him off in the dark. It seems miraculous that the place has remained open since 1987. That declining business after several tragedies prompts its closure by year's end, not so much.
    • The "New and Improved" location in the second game is just as bad - not only are the new animatronics just as dangerous as their predecessors, but said animatronics are still kept around and are able to move. Also, there are no doors the night watchman can close — they have to rely on a Freddy head to fool the animatronics (or at least, most of them).
    • The third game reveals that at one point, Freddy Fazbear's Pizza used special animatronics that could be converted into costumes for employees. The locks keeping the animatronic parts locked around the sides, however, were prone to breaking should the wearer breathe the wrong way, leading to a painful death. At least Fazbear Entertainment had the sense to retire them after at least one casualty (though they admit they don't care if an employee uses one).
    • Also from the third game is the pizzeria's successor, Fazbear's Fright. It isn't much better in this regard; the management deliberately built their workplace by using crappy ventilation ducts that regularly cause people to hallucinate from oxygen starvation. They also use cheap wires that have a high risk of becoming aflame and burning down the whole building. Which, surprise surprise, it does in the "Nightmare" mode ending.
    • Fredbear's Family Diner from the fourth game isn't seen much, but it hardly seems different from Freddy Fazbear's Pizza. Aside from seemingly using the aforementioned hybrid costumes, the Fredbear animatronic is strong enough to bite through a human child's skull.
  • The USG Ishimura of Dead Space is a huge hazard to life and limb even before the space zombies start tearing up the place. It has a large area devoted to regrowing missing body parts, has lift door than can cut a person in half and huge health and safety problems.
  • The System Shock games have settings that both qualify:
    • Citadel Station in the original game in the months following the Hacker removing SHODAN's ethical restraints and going into stasis. Over the course of the Hacker's recovery from surgery, all hell breaks loose on board as SHODAN mutates members of the crew and turns them into cyborgs while whatever resistance is put up by survivors is put down, especially when Diego betrays them. One of the garden groves is converted to cultivate the mutagen and the station is fitted with a mining laser capable of wiping out Earth's population.
    • Even before the Many took over the ship, the UNN Von Braun from System Shock 2 had numerous issues, as TriOptimum cut some corners in her construction. The engine rooms have some serious malfunctions, including radiation leaks and no radiation suits, and the shipboard A.I. is laughably easy to hack into and reprogram.

  • Being Bronze Skin Inc. a company that specializes in tanning giant women, one can imagine that it is not the safest work environment of all.
  • The House of Cheese restaurant chain from Sluggy Freelance was specifically designed to set off a Manchurian Agent's killing trigger, causing her to massacre everyone inside.
  • Castle Heterodyne in Girl Genius is a prison/labor camp for political prisoners, especially Sparks. Being sent there is tantamount to a death sentence with a chance for appeal, a chance based on how it appeals to the Castle to kill them.
  • The Snail Factory features an extremely hazardous work environment as it primary setting and injury and death are so common that the management no longer tries to prevent these things but just tries to control its negative affects on employee morale.
  • In Kevin & Kell, predators at Herd Thinners often fight for supremacy. It's rare for a CEO to retire the peaceful way.

    Western Animation 
  • Regular Show: The Park. Even discounting the many incidents caused by the employees themselves (Mordecai and Rigby in particular), it's still plagued by dangerous situations ranging from mundane park miscreants to supernatural creature attacks on an almost daily basis. It gets to the point that much more competent replacements for the current staff refuse to stay a single day.
  • Springfield Nuclear Power Plant from The Simpsons is periodically flooded with radioactive waste, occasionally has storage barrels smashing through support columns and causing floors to give way, is infested with rats, has cooling towers that are very badly crumbling, has no lead in its radiation shields, and doesn't even have urinal cakes in its toilets. And that's not even counting the workers, who scream and panic whenever there's a problem with the reactor, who engage in everything from chess games to cockfights to "Nap Time", remove emergency procedure posters to make get-well-soon cards, and engage in log-rolling contests using waste drums. Homer Simpson is hardly the only lazy and incompetent employee at the plant — if anything, he's a typical example.
    "Wait... isn't he the Safety Inspector?"
    "It's best not to think about it."
  • Planet Express from Futurama, where the only thing that keeps the main characters from dying like all the other crews is Plot Armor.

    Real Life 
  • Pick a factory, any factory, before labor unions threatening (and going through with) everything from sit-ins to full-blown armed rebellion forced the management to improve safety standards. The role of the unions in setting safety standards has largely been taken over by federal-level government agencies like the OSHA these days, and opinion is divided on whether or not they do a better job of it.
  • Steel mills. There are around 1000 ways to get killed in one, and none of them are pretty. Lampshaded in the movie Super 8. The steel mill shown only at the beginning has a prominent banner of the ilk of 'X days since the last workplace accident' ... before a worker resets the already not-stellar number for the time to 1. This sets the tone of the movie to come as one where Anyone Can Die.
  • Ports and any other place featuring the near-constant movement of vehicles and other objects weighing several tons, often high over your head.
  • Professional kitchens are so potentially hazardous that the employees are constantly calling out their positions to avoid injuries.
  • Saturation diving is one of the most dangerous — and most well-paying — jobs in the modern world. Offshore oil rigs require regular maintenance, but because the amount of time needed to safely decompress from deep-sea diving can easily take several days, saturation divers are required to live in an environment of nitrox (along with heliox to prevent nitrogen narcosis). Thus, a saturation diver can dive more often with less need to decompress, since the nitrogen in their bloodstream is at peak saturation at nearly all times. Saturation diving is also rife with risks to life and limb: divers can fall victim to oxygen toxicity due to their physiology being accustomed to entirely different atmospheric conditions, heliox can sap body heat, and human error can easily lead to instant and gruesome death, as demonstrated with the accident at Byford Dolphin in 1983 that resulted in five deaths, one of which was the result of Explosive Decompression that completely obliterated the victim's body.
    • In a similar vein, albeit with different threats, divers tasked with fixing water treatment plants and other municipal facilities - at least in the West - are paid handsomely for a very good reason. In addition to swimming through exactly what you think would be in the water in such facilities, they also have to contend with strong currents, heavy machinery, tight spaces and a very, very strong risk of infection or poisoning. Unfortunately, in countries in active economic development such as India, the pay isn't nearly as good, their safety gear much less reliable, and the systems they fix prone to failure on a much more regular basis; many divers have been reduced to chunks of meat by the equipment after they had no choice but to try to clear blockages with their hands.
  • Any forest in which there's logging activity going on. There are hundreds of ways in which a tree can kill you and anyone nearby while you're trying to bring it down, and not all of them are even noticeable at first glance. Even the veterans can end up in the worst place possible when a tree refused to behave as expected. As a result, logging is currently rated as the deadliest job in the United States.