Follow TV Tropes


Dead-End Room

Go To
Uh... guys? Hello?

You can access the Chapter Selection Menu via the Home Menu. That's the only way out of this room. Got it? Good. Tutorial box out.

You're playing a maze-type game, and you notice an exit you haven't used before. You go through it, and... hey, where are this room's exits?

Usually a subtrope of Unwinnable by Design (although can also be Unintentionally Unwinnable), a Dead End Room is used as a fiendish trap by the game's designers. Either the room simply has no exits, or if it has, they only lead back into the same room or into a closed cycle of rooms which connect only to each other, not to the main maze.

If they really want to hammer home the point, everything in the room hurts or kills you when touched, so your game will soon be over anyway even if you don't reset.

If the game has a "regular" Game Over state, this effectively doubles as a Non-Standard Game Over.

Expect some kind of friendly label to let you know you're screwed, such as "DIE MORTAL".


  • Jet Set Willy has one of the oldest examples — "Entrance to Hades". This is a room where you just keep falling down, respawning at the top and falling again until you run out of lives. If the player enters by a non-standard route, he can stand atop the "DIE MORTAL" letters without being killed.
    • Jet Set Willy II on the ZX Spectrum also adds "Water Supply". Up is out of reach, and down leads only through "well" (three times) to "Dinking Vater?", which is a dead end, and which in any case will kill you if you haven't got the fall from any height cheat.
  • Wriggler on the Spectrum has one in the Hell section.
  • In Driller, driving into any of the triangular spaces of the map causes you to fall onto and be trapped on the moon's surface.
  • Eye of the Beholder II had two No Exit examples.
    • In Temple Level 2, placing three gems in a niche opens a secret passage. If you go through it and into a room, the passage closes behind you and you're trapped forever.
    • In a room on Silver Tower Level 2, if you kill a dying Darkmoon cleric the door out of the room closes and traps the party inside permanently. Reload your last saved game.
  • Colossal Cave has Witt's End, which appears to be inescapable, and traps you if you try to go back west the way you came (or in almost any other direction). Instead you have to keep trying to go north until it randomly lets you go. More insidiously, there's an apparently worthless item (a magazine) you have to drop inside the room (not where you deposit your treasures) to get that Last Lousy Point. Possibly the very first Guide Dang It!.
  • In Portal 2, while Chell and Wheatley are running away from GLaDOS, the latter opens a room near your escape route and creates a bridge to it while inviting you to go in. As soon as you enter it, you're trapped and deadly neurotoxin kills you.
  • Planescape: Torment has an an area where you get stuck in a room where the only way out involves dying. Luckily the player character is immortal and will come back to life shortly after being killed.
  • Hexen version 1 has an accidental one; the Axe Room in Hub 4's "The Gibbet" has a door which cannot be opened from the inside, so once inside the only way out is to kill the second Heresiarch which eventually appears, and then either run to the door (which was briefly reopened by the Heresiarch's death) so as to explore the hub with the help of the wings you just gained, or go through the portal to the next hub (which of course you will need to do in the end). Unfortunately the action script for the ending, which teleports four Green Chaos Serpents into the room and then checks their number every five seconds or so, only proceeds if there are exactly three left, so if you manage to kill two or more of them between checks, you're trapped forever. This was corrected in version 1.1, which checks if there are less than four left.
  • In the PC shareware game MasterSpy, there are several; for example, in "The Underground Railway" are numerous ways to go through a train or turnstile to a sector where none of the ticket machines corresponds to any train or turnstile out, so if you take a ticket you trap yourself.
  • Several in Strife; if for example you go to see the Governor after having got the Chalice, he will lock the door and sound the alarm, causing a Zerg Rush of guards to teleport in (unless it's the registered version and you've completed his two missions, in which case he will simply tell you to get out as usual). A similar thing happens if you walk past the Power Station with the Chalice; you're not locked in, but still overwhelmed.
  • In Yume Nikki and its fan games, getting caught by a "chaser" such as a Toriningen will trap you in a dead end where the only way out is waking up or using the Eye Palm effect note . Of course, there's also the infamous Uboa sequence, where you are trapped in the room with him, and contacting him will transport you to another inescapable area.
  • Another Unintentionally Unwinnable scenario is some versions of Duke Nukem 3D (the four-episode version); if you play E4L9 (Critical Mass) in co-op mode on a version where the bug hasn't been fixed, you had better make sure you do so without dying, or you will be stuck at the start of the level, facing a now-collapsed staircase which you can no longer get past.
  • Technician Ted has probably the oldest all lethal example — "Down in the Sewerage".
  • The Black Hole in Atlantis no Nazo. As the "level" begins, the death sound plays immediately (to hammer in that you're doomed and there's nothing you can do about it) as you fall to your death. This repeats until you get a Game Over, or, if you're playing the "Super Pitfall II" prototype, until you're returned to level 29 with only one life.
  • The NES game based on Dirty Harry can randomly send the player to a room with no exit and "ha ha ha" written on the wall.
  • Many branches in The Stanley Parable technically end in this.
  • Pathways into Darkness has a secret teleporter on "Happy Happy, Carnage Carnage" that sends you to a room on "Don't Get Poisoned" full of Demonic Spiders and with no exit.
  • Marathon:
    • In the Game Mod Infection, there are false exits on some levels that lead you to "Burn Like That Son of Aaaaah...", which consists solely of an elevator lowering you into a Lava Pit with enemies firing at you from the windows on all sides.
    • Another third-party scenario, Gemini Station, has the "Oubliette", where you are sent if you killed Jack Melville, which is a dead-end pit with a crusher trap.
    • The main games also have a few secret rooms that are inescapable if you don't get out before the door closes, such as those on "Smells Like Napalm" and "Blaspheme Quarantine".
    • The Developer's Room on the second game's final stage, "All Roads Lead to Sol", happens to be one of these if you aren't cheating, as it is only accessible before you release the lava, so the final arena will still be lava-flooded when you teleport to it from the developers' room.
    • Marathon: EVIL has at least two accidental dead-end room situations. First, in "Code 42", if you hit one of the switches for the double doors more than once, the door will permanently stop partway open, locking you out of the second half of the level. In the last level, "Life's End", if you forget to activate the elevator before going down the optional one-way lava river, you won't be able to get back to the level's exit.
    • In the scenario The Collective, the first level becomes Unintentionally Unwinnable on Total Carnage difficulty, since your Oxygen Meter will run out before the Slow Doors in the first room retract low enough for you to shoot the second switch.
  • In Sensory Overload, enemies can open doors that you can't, often from rooms that have no other door. If you enter a room of this type, you're up the Unintentionally Unwinnable creek once the door closes.
  • Rogue will sometimes generate a level or starting room without an exit.
  • The life-draining Bloody Mirror Room in Silent Hill 3's Otherworld Hospital seems to be one of these, until you figure out that the door unlocks after Heather's reflection stops moving with her.
  • Fallout 3:
    • An unintentional one occurs in Vault 92 where you can glitch through the floor in the Overseer's Office and end up in an inescapable Disconnected Side Area of the Sound Testing sector behind a jammed door. The only way out other than reloading a prior saved game is to use console commands in the PC version to open said door.
    • You can permanently lock yourself in Vault 106 by closing the main door as you enter, as there is no way to open it from the inside other than PC console commands.
    • Another Unintentionally Unwinnable example may occur on Mothership Zeta, where a Scripted Event failure leaves the player trapped on the Observation Deck.
  • The Minus World in Super Mario Bros. uses the same layout as World 2-2, but has no exit and keeps looping until you run out of lives.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money, if you read the "Sinclair's Personal Accounts" message on the vault terminal, the door permanently seals and you die in a Non-Standard Game Over. Of course, the intended purpose wasn't for you to die in there and that doesn't mean you can't abuse this knowledge.
  • In one level of Descent 2, in a room where you find one of the keys, there is a switch. If you shoot it, the door behind you locks, leaving you trapped.
  • Myst series:
    • In the first game, giving the fifth red or blue page to the respective brother warps you into their book, then they proceed to rip out the pages, leaving you trapped in a black void for eternity. K'veer (Dunny) also becomes a dead-end if you go there without the white page.
    • In Riven, two of the bad endings have the Stranger permanently imprisoned in the Trap Book meant for Gehn.
    • Myst IV: Revelation retcons the trap books into Prison Ages, which are normal Ages but with no linking book to exit them.
    • The Expanded Universe material describes Death Books, which immediately kill the traveller in some manner upon linking to the Age.
  • In Psychotic!, a World Builder game on the Macintosh, remaining in the San Ysidro bank vault for more than two turns results in the door locking and you dying of suffocation.
  • In Enchanted Scepters:
    • Violation of the Copy Protection causes the player character to be randomly sent to an arena where they are eaten by a T. Rex. "The pirates laugh 'Har, har, har!'" indeed.
    • If you didn't pick up the 68000 chip on the Silicon Beach so you can fix the submarine, you'll be trapped in the underwater city forever once your diving equipment is confiscated.
  • Space Quest:
    • In Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, The Maze has two all-lethal examples. One wrong path leads to a dead-end where Roger is eaten by the Cave Squid. At the end of the maze, there is a subterranean river with a fork in it. The left fork leads to an Inevitable Waterfall and certain doom. Later, the acid trap on Vohaul's space station is inescapable if you don't have the toilet plunger.
    • In Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon, going back into the generator pit after removing the ladder results in Roger being trapped and eaten by giant rats.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved:
  • Prince of Persia
    • Prince of Persia subverts this trope in Level 8 when the Prince finds himself trapped in a dead end by a closed gate, but the Princess's pet mouse reopens it.
    • Prince of Persia 2 has numerous examples, particularly in the cave levels:
      • Level 3 has a Healing Potion in a pit that's too deep to climb out of. The only way out is to commit suicide via the adjacent Lava Pit or use the Abort command. In the same level, one route has you perform a running jump to a gate that you have to pull up to and Indy Hat Roll under before it crushes you. If you're too slow, you'll be helplessly left hanging over a lethal pitfall.
      • One gate in Level 4 leads to an alcove with a life upgrade potion, but it can't be opened from the inside, so if it closes behind you, you're stuck for good. No mouse to rescue you this time.
      • In Level 5, if you move too far to the left while fighting the skeleton on the rope bridge, it will run to the right and step on a pressure plate that closes the gate on the next screen. If you subsequently trigger the bridge collapse as normal, you'll be trapped between the now uncrossable Bottomless Pit and the closed gate with no way to reopen it. Fortunately, the developers placed a checkpoint just before the bridge fight.
  • In Déjà Vu (1985), going east of the Peoria police station leads to Ace falling to his death in a construction pit.
  • In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, the glitch town reached by performing the Fairy Warp trick in Darunia is a dead end, as trying to leave causes Link to be stuck in the middle of the ocean.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest:
    • In the Definitive Edition, if you fall into the central pit of the Black Root Burrows before you have the Light Orb to make the moving platforms tangible and activate the torch switches, there's no way out other than suicide by Spikes of Doom.
    • In an optional room of the Moon Grotto, you have to solve a puzzle involving deadly laser beams and movable blocks to reach an Energy Cell and a couple of Ability Points pickups. A glitch in some versions can cause you to end up permanently trapped below the lasers.
  • In Cheetahmen's fifth level, jumping into a certain pit leads to a secret room with a 1-up like in the previous odd-numbered levels, but this time, exiting drops you in Level 10, a Minus World where you get stuck in a Cycle of Falling until Game Over. The unreleased sequel ends with you stuck in limbo after the second boss, or the third boss if you glitch-start on Level 5.
  • In Xland's ElectroMan, near the end of the eighth and final level you have to cross a pit by way of a series of precarious jumps across it. If you fall into the pit, there are a pair of dart-shooters to kill you and return you to your last checkpoint, a few screens earlier; but of course they are of no help if you're using the god-mode cheat. Fortunately, there is also a suicide cheat, probably designed for this particular scenario.
  • Fallout 4:
  • In Fallen London, pursuing the infamous "Seeking Mr Eaten's Name" quest all the way to the very end will land you in one of these. You can still rearrange your profile, and reread the final storylet, but everything else is locked out, and there's no way back.
  • Early on in Child of Light, there's a cave containing a Banshee and a Stardust item that you can't get out of without the Flight ability you earn after beating the first boss. If you happen to stumble into this trap, your only option is to let the ghost kill you and/or reload.
  • Doom II: Done deliberately in MAP12, "The Factory"; the door to the exit room is a yellow-key door outside and a red-key door inside, but there is no red key in the level, so unless one is playing in deathmatch mode or cheating, once inside the only way out is through the exit.
  • Also done deliberately in Electro Body (the original Polish/German release), as Copy Protection; completing the level sent the player to a room with several (lettered) teleports, all of which bar one led to inescapable trap rooms. One had to read the manual to get the correct letter of the teleport to the next level. This was removed from the ElectroMan version.
  • The Binding of Isaac has a rare chance to teleport you to the I AM ERROR room upon using Telepills, which is a room that features an item and a trapdoor down to the next level. However, in Wrath of the Lamb, doing this on The Chest would leave the player permanently trapped in an empty room. This was fixed in Rebirth by having the trap-door restart the level instead, and further fixed in Afterbirth by making it impossible to enter the I AM ERROR room from The Chest in the first place.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: In the final quest of the Thieves' Guild, the only way through to your objective, is by falling into a pit, with no apparent exit. This was played straight with the dead NPC you find at the bottom - fortunately, you avert this, because you have the Skeleton Key.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 features the Mystic Cave Zone Act 2 spike pit. Due to the way the Act was programmed, the developers were unable to make it a simple Bottomless Pit, so instead you hit a bed of spikes in a shaft too tall to climb out of. You'll usually die in about 10 or less seconds depending on how many rings you have... unless you have the misfortune of being Super Sonic, in which case you'll have to wait for your rings to deplete at a rate of one ring per second (which naturally takes a while if you have a lot of them), and then finally die so you can go back to the last checkpoint. The iOS port, not having the same technical limitations, modified this pit so that falling into it instead leads to a Secret Level, thereby averting this.
  • Eryi's Action has pots that, when entered a la Super Mario Bros. 2, lead you to a spike pit whereupon you will die swiftly. Literally every pot except for one, actually.
  • In No Man's Sky, you can end up permanently marooned on a planet (which may be a Death World that will kill you outright anyways) if you run out of fuel and said planet lacks the resources to refuel, or your ship gets severely damaged (or you accidentally swap out your good ship for a crashed one) and you are unable to obtain the materials for repairing it. Worse yet, early versions could strand the player at the very start of the game.
  • In Iji, using the Null Driver on the Final Boss warps you to Sector Y, a glitched version of Sector 1 with no exits.
  • Batman: Arkham Origins can glitch out when fast-travelling and strand the Caped Crusader in a black abyss reminiscent of the aforementioned Myst trap books. Worse, since the game autosaves when loading a new area, this event forces you to restart the whole game unless you have a backup save.
  • In Mickey Mousecapade, if you fail to pick up a key in the first part of the Castle for unlocking the Locked Door in the second part, you'll be trapped in a no-win situation, as Pegleg Pete will have respawned and will kill you if you try to backtrack.
  • After beating The World Ends with You for the first time, the game explains the Post-End Game Content you've unlocked, then drops you in a modified version of the final room with the exit sealed off. As the tutorial box cheerfully explains, the only way out is to use the shiny new Replay Mode menu to warp to a different chapter.
  • Vanish: Played with. Often when a player stumbles into a dead end that wasn't there before, they can simply turn around and go back the way they came. However, if a moleman is after you, the trope is played horrifically, lethally straight.
  • Players that violate the terms of service in Final Fantasy XIV are sent to a room that has a door, but it's locked and there is no way to open it. The player is basically trapped until a Game Master (who tells them why they are jailed) releases them back into the game.
  • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, Liberty Island has a hidden Developer's Room hosting a dance party, accessed by flushing a UNATCO flag down the toilet in Manderley's abandoned office, but make sure to save before entering, as you can't leave.
  • "Out Of This Dimension" from the original SNES Star Fox is a truly bizarre version of this. By shooting a specific asteroid in the third route's Asteroid Belt stage, a bird will hatch from it. Flying your arwing into the bird results in Fox being sent into a bizarre alternate dimension filled with paper planes attacking him and a slot machine for a boss. Once you enter this level, you can't leave it until you restart the game. Even defeating the boss traps you on an Unending End Card screen.
  • Neon White: One of Neon Violet's sidequest stages, titled "Hellevator", has you Stomping through a series of breakable floors down a shaft towards the goal, however if you don't pay attention to the floor numbers and go too far past the floor limit, you'll end up on a small speck of land with nothing but a sign that reads "Idiot Island" with no way off except dying or resetting. Doing this unlocks the "Idiot" achievement.
  • The first edition of Super Mario Bros. 2 had a notorious bug that could cause the player to be trapped in Fryguy's chamber; if they hit one of the mini-Fryguys with a Mushroom Block while under the influence of Mercy Invincibility from being touched by another, the former would fall offscreen rather than disintegrating and still be registered as alive, preventing the exit door from spawning. Later versions fixed this bug. A similar softlock can occur in the Final Boss room, where if you're too far to the left when Wart is defeated, which locks the screen scrolling, you won't be able to reach the exit. Unlike the prior bug, this one wasn't fixed until Super Mario Advance.
  • Void Stranger normally allows you to reset a room by picking out a floor tile and then walking into the Bottomless Pit that results. However, if the room you're in doesn't have a wall separating the dungeon and the HUD, you can sometimes actually pick out and place floor tiles until they connect to the HUD, then walk over to the floor counter and pick out a tile from that. This "glitches" out the game and dumps you onto an error screen surrounded by an infinite void. You can walk around, but nothing else to do, the only option is to exit the game and retry the floor.
  • In the Color Computer maze game A Mazing World of Malcom Mortar, the player can trap themselves in a dead end or block off the path to the level exit with an improperly placed permanent brick wall, both of which cause a Non-Standard Game Over. A player can also be pinned in a dead-end by a Fuzzy until their score/HP is depleted.
  • In INFRA, unlocking door B2 in the first level of the Bergmann Water Tunnels leads to a lengthy dark corridor where all the doors are locked with no means of opening them. After wandering and trying doors for a few minutes, Mörkö appears in a Jump Scare and knocks out Mark, who awakens two levels later.
  • In My House, attempting to warp to "sllahrednU", the Mirror World version of "Underhalls", via console commands instead places you in its version of The Backrooms, which, unlike the Backrooms reached by no-clipping out of the main map, are inescapable.

Non-video-game examples

Anime & Manga
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card: Sakura's room turns into one of these as a result of one of the new cards. The room seemly has no way out, and pushing on the walls only causes it to stretch. It soon begins to actively try to kill them, but they find a way to escape rather quickly when they realize it's made of rubber and so can be popped with a sharp object like you can a balloon.
  • In The Noozles, anyone who touches one of the spheres in Koalawallaland's Crystal Place is trapped forever, as happened to Sandy's grandfather.

Comic Book

  • Joker's Last Laugh ends with the titular character imprisoned in a room with no entrances or exits.

Film — Animated

  • Wreck-It Ralph: The NesquikSand Pit looks like this — and is, unless one can figure out how to attract the Laffy Taffies.
Film — Live-Action
  • The titular cube of the Cube series is a gigantic series of these. Some are booby-trapped, while others are safe, with almost no way of knowing until it's too late. Escape is made all the more difficult because the rooms move. Cube Zero implies that even if you escape, the monitors kill you, or worse lobotomize you and throw you back into the Cube.


  • Discworld:
    • In the novel A Hat Full of Sky, young witch Tiffany Aching leads the misunderstood but inadvertently lethal creature, the Hiver, through the door of Death, which it craves, but discovers that the Door is one-way only. She has to do some seriously lateral thinking to get round this and return to the living world.
      • Also Played for Laughs with the Nac Mac Feegle. They can enter a pub easily enough, but leaving is another matter.
    • In Witches Abroad, both Granny Weatherwax and her sister Lily end up (separately) trapped inside a mirror maze and are told by Death that they cannot escape until they "find the real one". Only Granny escapes; she figures out that none of the reflections are real, only she herself is.
  • The Abyss in the His Dark Materials universe is this. Nobody who falls into it can ever escape — not even angels.
  • The Give Yourself Goosebumps book Escape from the Carnival of Horrors has an area where you have to pick from a set of slides. Some of these slides are exits and you can proceed as usual, but some of these are "Doom Slides" that go on forever, with the Doom Slide page being a THE END page.

Live-Action TV

  • Used occasionally on the game show Knightmare. If a player took a wrong turn, he could be trapped in a room with no viable exits, and forced to wait until his life force ran out.
    • An "All Lethal" variation was a room which appeared to be escapable, but contained a huge bomb which exploded before the player could humanly reach an exit.


  • A man encounters a No Exit example when he tries to stay at the title establishment in The Eagles' "Hotel California".
    "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."
  • Heartbreak Hotel
  • The Four Winds Bar, in the Blue Öyster Cult's hauntingly evocative ballad Astronomy.

Theme Parks

  • In the queue for The Haunted Mansion at the Disney Theme Parks, you enter a seemingly-normal portrait gallery that, when a group of guests has been loaded in, mysteriously and ominously stretches to several times its normal height. When the room stops stretching, the Ghost Host (the ride's narrator) informs you that the chamber has no windows and no doors, and challenges you to find your way out. His method is implied to hang himself from the rafters, although that's not particularly helpful: his corpse hangs in the attic and is only made visible when a lightning flash makes the ceiling disappear - therefore, there's no way to reach the rafters to join him because, as mentioned, there's no windows and no doors. Of course, moments later, a pair of doors hidden in the wall open to take you to the next part of the queue before you can off yourself.
    • The reason for the stretching portrait gallery is interesting - when the ride was being built, guests needed to be taken from the entrance (inside the perimeter of the train tracks) to the show building where the ride was actually held (outside the perimeter). To achieve this, they built an elaborate elevator that moved downward (but the ceiling did not) that would take guests below the train tracks, and a hallway could take them the rest of the way out of the park. When the ride was replicated in other parks, there was plenty of room for the show building inside the park, and thus the elevator was unnecessary, but the effect was so popular that they did it anyway.
  • In the 2004 commercial for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights event, a man is shown to be stuck in an all-white hospital room, as each times he leaves, the door leads him right back to the same room. On top of that, something horrifying happens each time he's in the room.

Tabletop Games

Web Original