Ida: Yeah. Decon protocol, honey. That's what you get for being made of meat.
Ida: Yeah. Decon protocol, honey. That's what you get for being made of meat.
— The Middleman, "The Clotharian Contamination Protocol"
A standard for any setting where there's a chance of contamination, usually by an alien virus. Also, since decontamination usually means stripping and scrubbing, it also gives a chance for fanservice, humor or both. Hazmat Suits are often involved with it.
Compare Metal Detector Checkpoint.
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Anime & Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion:
- In episode 13, "Lilliputian Hitcher", Shinji, Asuka, and Rei must enter one of these (naked and at the same time) in preparation for a test of their Eva's systems, much to Shinji and Asuka's dismay. Rei, of course, doesn't seem to be bothered.
- Rebuild 2.0 has a scene as well. When the gang visits a maritime life preserve, they have to go through a very rigorous decontamination process involving x-ray booths, hot showers, cold showers, hurricane-strength drying chambers, being completely submerged in disinfectant all to keep the purified water tanks that way. This despite allowing visitors to the open roof of the complex, basically defeating the point. As always, Rei is completely impassive while her peers scream through the whole process. Unlike the above example, though, this time everyone is allowed to keep underwear during decon.
- Gas and light is used in Xabungle. As it's something they always have to go through to enter a dome, the "Civilians" think that it's part of the pomp and circumstance of the "Innocent" side.
- Tony "Iron Man" Stark, the last normal human alive in Earth X, sealed himself away and let only his robot Avengers in after getting decontaminated.
- In issue #1 of Transmetropolitan, the first thing Spider Jerusalem does in his new apartment is take a shower. Because it is a Cyberpunk City of Adventure, the shower instead vaporizes him clean, burning all of the hair off of his body in an instant.
- In Phlogiston Theory, Bubblegum devised a method of cleaning Feuer (who is a flame elemental) without using water, instead used a combination of liquid oxygen and powdered magnesium, the chemical reaction causing her body to briefly flash similar to a small sun and vaporize whatever mess the little princess may be covered in.
- In canon, the extensive decontamination procedure going through 17 stages is just glossed over in seconds while showing an indicator. In Going Another Way however, the whole procedure is shown. One then can understand why the pilots are exhausted and downright happy the ordeal was finally over, though they are still horrifically embarrassed by their continued nudity.
- This slashfic was written just days after Star Trek: Enterprise first aired, by an Australian writer who wouldn't have had the chance to see it but clearly understood the erotic possibilities.
Films — Animation
- The human cities in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within have a decontamination protocol against the deadly phantoms haunting the outside world. Aki bullshits her way around it to hide the ghost contained in her.
Films — Live-Action
- The Andromeda Strain (1971) had an extended Decontamination Chamber scene while the scientists were entering Project Wildfire. It was done to prevent any Earth microbes from contaminating the facility and interfering with their experiments.
- The radiation scrub-down is featured in Dr. No (including Sean Connery's Carpet of Virility and Ursula Andress in Nude-Colored Clothes).
- A radiation scrub-down is also featured in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
- Downplayed in Zenon: Girl Of The 21st Century. Zenon's parents work in a standard biological research laboratory on a space station. When she walks in to visit them, the decontamination chamber only causes lights to flash for a couple seconds before releasing her.
- An ultraviolet decontamination room is used on Saturn 3, as part of the airlock system. However, the researchers undergo this process with their space suits on, presumably because the UV levels would fry them to a crisp or cause more cancer than a lab rat. A regular wet shower follows toward the interior of the facility.
- The Predator. Casey Bracket has to strip for decontamination and change into a jumpsuit before entering the laboratory where the Predator is Strapped to an Operating Table. When the Predator wakes up and starts killing everyone, she tries to flee but the door won't unlock until she goes through the decontamination procedure again. She strips again only to be caught when the Predator breaks into the chamber, huddling naked in a frosted glass stall while the Predator approaches her. Of course, to those familiar with the Predator MO, a huddling, naked human is no threat or sport, and she's left completely unharmed.
- The Chain Reaction includes a memorable scene where the protagonists Larry and Carmel are both placed in one by the WALDO agents, where they are stripped down and given a good dowsing.
- An entirely non-fanservice version in Blade Runner 2049 when Sapper Morton uses one to clean off the Hazmat Suit (which looks like a Used Future spacesuit) he uses to work in his protein farm, before removing the suit and entering his residence.
- Another non-fanservice version in Arrival, where both the First Contact Team and the vehicles carrying them to and from the alien spacecraft are decontaminated as a precaution.
- Likewise in Cosmic Sin (2021) when the crew of a spacecraft who've made First Contact have to go into decontamination, over the objections of the scientist who would rather debrief them right away while their memories are fresh. And if they had spent less time arguing over it, they might have noticed the blatant Virus-Victim Symptoms on the crew before they started to Kill All Humans.
- The Ship Who...: The planet on which the Cades are working at the opening of The Ship Who Searched is a Mars-type planet with an atmosphere that humans can't breathe, but which can support other types of life. Unfortunately. Decontamination procedures are required whenever someone comes in through the airlock. Readers are treated to some graphic depictions of what can happen when decontamination procedures prove inadequate or aren't followed properly.
- Circle of Magic:
- Briar's Book, or The Healing in the Vine as it's known in the United Kingdom, features a horrible plague, and Briar and his teacher Rosethorn are exposed to it and have to set up briefly in a plague house, trying to tend the dying. People who haven't been exposed yet can go in and out in special magic-treated clothes, scrubbing themselves and burning the clothes when they leave. Very unsexy. Also, one of Briar's housemates assists in the search for the cure, which involves handling the distilled disease inside of a greenhouse, and lots of decontamination both going in and coming out. Also very unsexy.
- Sandry has to go through one in Magic Steps to work with the unmagic, as prolonged exposure turns people into Empty Shells and nobody wants it getting into, say, the water supply. It's made of heavily-spelled tents with showers of magically treated water going in and out.
- Lensman. It's mentioned that the Galactic Patrol base on Trenco has to have thorough decon procedures as the native life is so voracious that the base has been depopulated several times; even the smallest form of life rapidly reproduces and eats everything else.
- The Strain: Eph and Nora have to strip and decontaminate before investigating the plane. Eph notes the process of sterilization reduces sexual tension.
- The novelization of Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars describes, in detail, the decontamination procedures when you have to travel from a yellow zone back into a blue zone. It includes, but is not limited to, having your clothes incinerated; being sprayed with a substance that hardens and is then ripped off, along with a layer of skin; and taking a pill that causes you to vomit, urinate, and have a bowel movement in rapid sequence... and having that examined for Tiberium contamination... before you're allowed in.
- Commonplace in Newsflesh for any reporter who has had to go into a zombie-infested location.
- Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead features a decontamination chamber between the pequeninos' land and the human city. It sprays unpleasantly caustic fumes, causing coughing and watering eyes.
- In the My Teacher Is an Alien series, Peter has to go through one when he is (willingly) abducted onto the alien spaceship New Jersey. When he's too embarrassed to undress, the aliens use The Nudifier on him. It's not entirely clear what the rest of the process is, however, as they wind up putting him to sleep through it (and some brain surgery to give him Translator Microbes). Later two human friends of him come aboard, but because they were teleported in apparently they don't need to go through the process.
- In the Goosebumps 2000 book Brain Juice, the main characters are abducted by aliens and need to be decontaminated before they're presented to the Emperor as potential new slaves. This process would involve acid shot from hoses that would be inserted down their throats. Fortunately, the Emperor gets impatient and orders they be brought forward before this can happen.
- The Andromeda Strain: The "Wildfire" labs are designed for researching extraterrestrial microbes, so keeping the facilities sterile is Serious Business. There are multiple, redundant decontamination procedures the scientists must go through just to enter the labs, and one of these is a brief flash of intense light and heat that burns away their outermost layer of skin, and all the microbes on it. It takes nearly 24 hours to go through the complete procedure.
- In the Star Wars Legends book Before the Awakening, sonic showers are a form of personal hygene device notable for not using water. Given its name, it is implied to use sonic waves.
- The Dragon In The Sea, by Frank Herbert has a post-World War III Cold War where nuclear subtugs are sent to covertly steal oil from underwater wellcaps, sometimes in radioactive zones. The subtug's decontamination chamber uses high-pressure detergent sprays to wash the oil off an ABG suit.
- Happens to Sydney Bristow in Alias after she almost gets dissolved by acid (the suit is this close to failing when Sark switches it off in return for Sydney helping him bump off Sloane—apparently).
- The Andromeda Strain: Like the film adaptation, the scientists go through a lenghty sanitization process before entering the secure Wildfire lab to study The Plague. Unlike the film, the sequence is also played for fanservice given the cast is composed of sexy scientists who have their naked bodies sprayed and soaped up in slow motion. And while no actual nudity is seen, they still show plenty of skin. Angela's front is covered by suds but she has a Toplessness from the Back shot with a gratuitous Side Boob and both Bill and Stone are shown from the waist up but are both Shirtless.
- Angel. Winifred Burkle is shown showering after being splattered with blood during a séance gone wrong in "Hell Bound". This gives Ghost!Spike an opportunity to write a message for her on the shower stall.
- The bath of caustic chemicals the Minbari of Babylon 5 use is able to strip away their top layer of skin, including filth, microbes and dead-skin cells along with it.
- In the Bones episode "The Man in the Fallout Shelter" Zack cuts into bones that release spores of Valley Fever. He and Hodgins have to get into the decontamination shower together
- In the short-lived BBC comedy Come Back Mrs. Noah, the crew have to undergo the decontamination procedure before the Master Computer will allow them to go to sleep. With some difficulty they zip themselves up in the bulky and unflattering "decontamination bags", which spray their intimate regions causing them to contort and giggle, then vent from the rear of the bag with a loud farting sound. Ah, British 70's comedy...
- In one episode of Criminal Minds featuring an anthrax threat, Reid has to go through one of these after being exposed to a broken vial of spores, to prevent anyone else from being infected by coming into contact with him.
- This happened to Sara and Greg on an episode of CSI leading to a hilarious exchange between the two once they're back at the lab that Grissom hears out of context. The look on his face is priceless.
- Doctor Who:
- A plot point in "The Enemy of the World". The villainous Salamander has convinced the inhabitants of an underground bunker that nuclear war has broken out. There's a decontamination chamber with a prominently-displayed radiation meter that Salamander makes a show of going through every time he returns from the supposedly-ravaged surface. One of the ways Astrid persuades the bunker people that she's telling the truth is by deducing and then demonstrating that the meter is rigged to show a high level of radiation that falls as "decontamination" takes place and will do so regardless of what goes in the chamber.
- "New Earth". The chamber is built right into the hospital elevators, and a massive plot point at the end.
- Averted on ER, when a benzene-exposed Carter is hastily stripped and hosed down in a prefab shower-stall in the ambulance bay. Not played for Fanservice, either.
- The "biosphere" episode of Eureka. Almost always played for awkward sexual tension moments.
- In The Girl from Tomorrow the 30thC version of showers are just glowing lights that remove all contaminants, including hair dye.
- In Helix, which revolves around a CDC team sent to contain an outbreak of The Virus at a Research, Inc., decontamination is both depicted and merely inferred between scene changes. In particular, CDC team member Julia is caught and infected by Patient Zero Peter while she's taking a shower as part of decontamination procedures in "Vector".
- In the second season of Heroes, Peter Petrelli is restrained, stripped naked, and forcibly showered in a bad future by men in decontamination suits as a precaution against an airborne disease.
- In episodes of I Dream of Jeannie just after astronauts come back from outer space they're stuck in quarantine for a while just in case there's an alien virus out there they've picked up. Truth in Television since astronauts of the time really did get stuck in quarantine after missions. (See Real Life below.)
- As shown above, used in The Middleman with great glee. Or, as MM himself said, "Quit your grinnin' and drop your linen!"
- Kate and Tony spend a few nights in a special quarantine chamber on NCIS after a possible exposure to terrorist-delivered plague. They debate whether the blue lights in the chamber actually destroy bacteria, or are merely there as a placebo to ease their fears. This would be an aversion, except for the Shower Scene involving them and Gibbs earlier in the episode.
- Psych, in the episode "Death is in the Air". Lassiter and Juliet get the hose-down as well as Shawn and Gus. Played for laughs, like everything else in Psych.
- Pushing Daisies, oddly enough, in the episode about scent.
- Red Dwarf: In the episode "Quarantine", Lister, Kryten, and Cat are stuck in a decontamination chamber because of Rimmer, who has decided to be an Obstructive Bureaucrat just to be a dick. They have to wait several days as the ship protocol requires to confirm they are not carrying any contagions from the planet they just visited. Ironically, Rimmer is the only person actually infected, and becomes an Ax-Crazy Creepy Crossdresser who talks to a penguin hand puppet.
- Sanctuary had this happen to Dr. Magnus in an alternate future with a Zombie Apocalypse.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Naked Time", the transporter room was shown to have the ability to decontaminate the outside of isolation suits with some sort(s) of radiation. Of course the sort of radiation that would do that would also, at the least, damage the skin of the people in the suits unless the suits blocked the rays...and unfortunately the idiot who beamed down with Spock had taken off a glove, been contaminated, and then put the glove back on- thereby making sure the rays would do nothing (not that they'd have done anything against an infection within someone's body anyway).
- Later Star Trek series's mention that the transporters do this themselves. It's used as a plot point in one episode.
- Star Trek: Enterprise, existing in a time before transporters with biofilters, had the decontamination room, which seemed to exist mainly for fanservice reasons. For some reason though two men sent on an away mission would never end up rubbing decon gel on each other.
- Happened to Sarah Connor on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles when she was working as a temp at a nuclear plant, and gets this treatment when she's exposed to radiation. It was portrayed realistically and looked extremely uncomfortable, but it eventually turned out that her boss faked her radiation test in an attempt to intimidate her.
- In The Walking Dead, the CDC scientist uses one when he spills a caustic chemical, then gets them on his suit. He runs to the chamber then realizes too late and watches in horror as the lab is torched, destroying his one good sample of the zombie virus.
- The X-Files: In episode "One Son", Mulder and Scully go through decontamination at the Center for Disease Control facility at Fort Marlene, including a shower where they're separated only by a shoulder-high wall. No words are exchanged, though even Chaste Hero Mulder can't stop his eyes flicking downwards when he and Scully turn to face each other.
- Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia. In the Botbusters adventure, an evil CompNode tries to get a group of robots to go through a Decontamination Chamber. It's actually a trap to spray them with a disease that will kill many clones in Alpha Complex.
- Decontamination showers are an essential part of Hazmat Hijinks, and appear in almost every level.
- There's a couple of labs toward the end of BioShock with decontamination chambers for entrances.
- In Dead Space, Isaac frequently runs into decontamination lockdowns. When that happens, the Necromorphs come out in force, and the quarantine is only lifted once Isaac puts them all down.
- Half-Life: "If you're ever in trouble, just step into one of these decontamination booths and hit the big red button. It's supposed to kill micro-organisms but, heh, believe me- they work on the big stuff too." For optimal results, lure in the Marine, than press the button.
- Space Quest uses a decontamination chamber exactly once in the entire series: at the beginning of the second game. Every other time that Roger goes on a space walk or visits a strange planet or goes on some crazy adventure involving goopy mutants, he apparently doesn't come into contact with anything contaminating.
- Anything contaminating he comes into contact with is likely to cause a Game Over in short order, such as the mutating goop from the fifth game. The Next Mutation also mentions in passing that the teleporters that are in frequent use automatically remove any worrisome contaminants which is vital to figuring out how to de-goop people.
- A door in TimeSplitters Future Perfect won't open unless you run yourself through a decontamination shower.
- In Mass Effect:
- The Normandy's airlock functions as a decontamination chamber. A beam of light sweeps over the characters as they wait to enter and exit the vessel, while the soothing voice of the ship's VI announces 'Decontamination in progress'. The characters are in full armor during the process. Once they are inside, they've taken the armor off, however, implying that changing clothes is part of the process. This serves as a sort of Dynamic Loading in a similar manner to Mass Effect's infamous elevators.
- Quarians are justifiably really big on decontamination due to their weak immune systems: visitors to the Migrant Fleet are not even permitted to take their environment suits off while on board. Even with the Normandy's decontamination airlock, Tali warns her fleet prior to docking that the ship is "not clean" and requests a decon team to meet them at the airlock.
- During Mass Effect: Andromeda, during the mission to rescue the Moshae, the team is temporarily stopped by the kett facility's decontamination chambers. Peebee and Jaal may even comment that, knowing the kett, they probably don't want to know what it's decontaminating them for. (Later, it's revealed what kett do to their prisoners ruins the immune system, so that might be it.)
- Doom³ has Decontamination Chambers near some (but not all) experimental teleporters. They also have a bio-scan system before you enter Mars City proper.
- The Deep Six mission from Max Payne has you going through one of these. The guy who helps you get through is killed by Horne's mercenaries shortly after helping you through.
- Champions Online features a hastily implemented Decontamination Shower in the overrun base in the Desert Crisis zone, one of two possible starting zones after the tutorial zone, and before the primary zones.
- In the inevitable sewer mission in the game Dark Forces, the briefing mentions having the decontamination shower warmed up a ready when you return.
- In System Shock, Citadel Station's Reactor Level has a shower designed to remove radiation. System Shock 2 also contains one on the UNN Von Braun spaceship, but it's only partly functional because you have to stand directly under the spray.
- Dwarf Fortress has "contaminants" ranging from useful but annoying mud to contact poisons which quickly and hideously kill anyone, and they all stick to the boots of any passing dorf. These guys aren't smart enough to go wash before they got the whole town splattered with this crap, so frequently visited places have to be protected by measures like shower entrances or waist-deep pools of water that the dwarves have to wade through.
- Done in Quake IV after the player comes aboard the starship.
- In the Emergency! series, contaminants are of the (effectively identical) chemical, biological, and radiological sorts. Contaminated people—alive, injured, or dead, and sometimes including your own emergency personnel—must be decontaminated in a special fire apparatus.
- In Live A Live, the medical bay aboard Cogito Ergosum is preceded by a decontamination chamber. It flashes red every time it's activated.
- In Metro: Last Light, Hansa doctors and scientists set up decontamination chambers in a quarantined Metro station that has been hit by an extremely potent virus. Biohazard suits, showers, UV lights, the works. The stations shows some of the most advanced pre-apocalypse technology, with portable MRI scanners and functional laptops.
- In The Sims 3 "Into the Future" expansion, you have a special item called the "Tardisian Well Sonic Shower", by which it uses sound waves instead of water to clean your Sim, and would temporarily prevent Hygiene decay when fully upgraded.
- A decontamination chamber is just past the entry of the base in Earthrise: A Guild Investigation. Using the 'equipment' setting instead of the 'personnel' setting earns you a game over.
- In Fallout 4, certain laboratories have decontamination chambers that can cleanse you of radiation. Inverted however with the Children of Atom's headquarters in the Far Harbor DLC, where due to being a cult of radiation worshippers they modified their decontaminator to instead irradiate people. The player can secretly fix this so that it does its job properly.
- In The Whiteboard, after Gino scared Jake (the skunk), Jake had to be decontaminated. In a large laundromat. Otherwise automated defense system kept mistaking him for a chemical or biological weapon.
- Gunnerkrigg Court. The Court has "decon rooms" but they don't perform traditional decontamination. Instead, they remove magic from any plants brought from Gillitie Wood, so they're safe to keep at the Court. Annie and Kat sneak into one of these rooms, but they don't find out its real purpose until many chapters later.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Going though one of these is necessary to enter Mora. The demo is done on a random old man, however.
- Whateley Universe:
- In the story "Christmas Crisis", Tennyo had to go through one after surviving a nuclear bomb. Since she looks more like Ryoko than anyone should, the soldiers around her who weren't worried about her dying of radiation poisoning were really looking forward to seeing it.
- Because of her history of bringing back unpleasant surprises after doing a bit of dimension-hopping, the school requires Josie Gilman to get a thorough decontamination every time she jumps, even if it is only to, say, across the campus. Or to Africa, which relatively speaking isn't much further, at least in comparison to some non-euclidean reality most people would go insane from entering...
- Jacques the shrimp from the movie Finding Nemo is in the dentist's aquarium's equivalent of a decontamination shower.
- The decontamination of monsters touched by children in Monsters, Inc. plays this for laughs.
- Used in Transformers: Animated by Sentinel Prime to pick on the Autobots who have been living on Earth by removing possible organic contamination.
- A variation can be found in the Gravity Falls episode "Dipper and Mabel vs The Future", where an explosion goes off with Ford crying out "Dipper, my face is on fire!" When Dipper comes to his aid, Ford's face is seen smoking but otherwise fine. He explains that he only cried out so that he could come quick and that he has taken to using an unknown detonation technique because it is "quicker than shaving."
- The Lunar Receiving Laboratory, used to decontaminate/quarantine Apollo astronauts returning from the Moon. Completed in 1967, it may have inspired Project Wildfire in the original The Andromeda Strain novel (1969).
- Underwater and space situations tend to have decompression chambers that serve a similar dramatic purpose.
- Work in any kind of clean room and you'll be decontaminated in and/or out with a variety of stuff, depending on what is in the work area.
- Anyone who is exposed to radiation is scrubbed down. Instructions for emergency workers after a nuclear accident involves shampooing hair, removing and burying all clothes and jewelry, scrubbing with a rough brush. This is to reduce the damage done by fallout and the radioactive dust and grime that might be covering you. It's one thing to be exposed to radiation for 2 minutes. It is another to have a bit of radioactive grime in your hair bombarding your skull for hours and hours.
- However, hair is generally not shaved anymore; it is simply cleaned instead. This is because razors can cut tiny holes in the skin and further expose you to radiation (and also because people generally want to keep their hair.)
- Similarly, there are procedures for decontaminating people and equipment exposed to biological or chemical warfare agents. Not necessarily a chamber, sometimes it's just a couple of buckets of bleach and water, some scrubby brushes, and pads saturated with charcoal (to absorb any agents in liquid form before they can get into your body). Note that these are often meant to be used on personnel already wearing chemical protective gear.
- Related to the decontamination room procedure is the "buddy" system. HAZMAT workers work in groups of at least two and once their shift is done and they need to exit the contaminated area they will clean each other before taking off their gear.
- Many modern hospital emergency departments have "decon rooms" designed to handle decontamination from nuclear, biological, and chemical exposures for limited numbers of patients. (Mass casualty incidents still require breaking out the old-school decon tents). These rooms are equipped with multiple high-pressure showerheads and hoses, a negative-pressure air filtration system separate from the rest of the hospital, and drains that run to separate holding tanks rather than to the public sewers. Emergency response protocol doesn't use or advocate specialized solvents or scrubbing skin with brushes anymore; 95% of decontamination can be accomplished simply by removing all clothing and a thorough wash with soap and water, and the old "shave and scrub" procedure actually worsens most cases of NBC exposure by creating breaks in the skin for the toxic agent to penetrate.
- Field saunas were used as this during World War II. Soldiers would collect lice like... well... lice and it was a useful means of cooking the lice to death.
- Not quite a chamber, but during the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK, people were required to decontaminate their boots when entering or leaving farms. Usually this involved simply walking through a patch of straw soaked in some sort of bleach.
- This is generally standard procedure in animal farms. Going from farm to farm with the same boots without cleaning them or changing them is an excellent way of introducing diseases between herds and is considered extremely poor form with farmers.