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Escape from the Crazy Place

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"...what the fuck? Who are you?! NO! I DON'T WANNA BE A SCHIZOPHRENIC!"

Good morning, [Insert Name Here]! You wake up bright, early and refreshed in...hmm. Where are you? You can't quite recall much of anything, but judging by the decor, you might be tempted to call it a woefully understaffed hospital of some kind. Maybe you're here for your own good, what with your amnesia and all. At any rate, surely it can't hurt to look for some answers?

You step out of the prominently-marked Quarantine Room and decide to take a stroll around. Something's not quite right about this place. There's cryptic writing on the walls in what looks like blood, the halls are strewn with corpses, the only other people you find are either trying to kill everybody else or getting slaughtered, your phone can't get a signal, and the people in charge are either completely out of touch with reality, utterly incompetent, or helpless to fix a situation gone horribly, horribly out of control.

And why is the back of your hand demanding you feed it human lungs?

Welcome to the Crazy Place, my friend. It's your job to escape from it.

An Escape From The Crazy Place ensues when you have a protagonist trapped in a bottled World Gone Mad: it might be a hospital suffering an outbreak of the Hate Plague, an insane asylum taken over by its own inmates, an underground City in a Bottle, a spaceship under attack by zombifying parasites or generally any setting where a once-orderly (and sealed-off) environment has fallen completely into chaos and the protagonist, who is (or has good reason to believe themselves to be) the Only Sane Man, is tasked with escaping (usually with the lingering risk of releasing the craziness upon the world at large in the process). Frequently, the protagonist finds fellow survivors; less frequently do these escape, let alone remain sane. Worst-case scenario, everyone is out for themselves, and the depths of depravity will be plumbed as the survivors eat each other. Possibly literally.

The Escape from the Crazy Place is an effective horror setting, but it can also be played for laughs.

A Sub-Trope of Closed Circle. For the post-apocalyptic variant, compare City in a Bottle. Compare Escaped from the Lab.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Gregory Horror Show starts off with an everyman lost in the woods who happens upon a mysterious hotel in the middle of nowhere; he gets not only a room for the night, but the experience of his life as he tries to escape from Gregory House (not that one) and all its crazy inhabitants. In the end, he confronts his own feelings and manages to escape... only for him to realize how crushingly dull his life is and return to the House, not as its prisoner but as its willing guest. The second season has a woman going through much the same ordeal, but instead of solving her personal problems and escaping, she is consumed by them and becomes a permanent resident.
  • The King of Bandit Jing story arc "Seventh Heaven" has the eponymous King of Bandits intentionally landing himself in the titular maximum-security prison in order to steal a treasure created by the legendary magician Campari, one of Seventh Heaven's many inmates. Of course, said treasure has the power to bridge the real and dream worlds, and Jing ends up dealing with man-eating mice, the Ax-Crazy mirror halves of a "saw a man in half" trick gone horribly wrong, and a giant dodo who learns to fly before discovering the tragic truth about Campari and freeing him from his prison, both mental and physical.

    Fan Works 
  • Bird: The climax of the Alchemilla Asylum arc invokes this, as Faultline's mercenary band causes a cascade failure in the security system, releasing several dangerous patients. Taylor and her friends use the opportunity to escape in the chaos.

  • In the Time Scout series, most downtimers who end up on Shangri La either want to go home or go crazy. Only Jack the Ripper would dream of going uptime to the present and ruling as a god.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: Multiple students try to run away after arriving at The Scholomance, the evil Wizarding School where most of the plot is set. They don't get far before they're killed. The protagonist Emily also wants to escape eventually, but she has some tasks to take care of there first.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Prisoner (1967): He is not a number; he is a free man, but the people at the glorified madhouse called the Village seem to think otherwise. "Number 6" is forced into their service as an operative, all the while trying to escape; things come to a head in the Grand Finale, in which the minions of the Village gather together to hold a grand celebration ostensibly to honor his achievements, but when the mindless goons begin repeating his words over and over, Number 6 snaps and a glorious Gainax Ending ensues where he discovers that the mysterious Number 1 is himself in an ape mask and shoots his way out with two fellow prisoners to the tune of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love".
  • Tower Prep has been described as "The Prisoner (1967) meets X-Men".
  • In Beyond the Walls, Lisa and Julien have to try to find the red door to leave the house. This sounds a lot easier than it actually is, as that door might not be real and can only be found by correctly interpreting a specific poem.

  • BIONICLE Legends 2: Dark Destiny sees Jaller and his team of six stumble upon the forgotten land of Karzahni, BIONICLE's metaphorical version of Hell, which is actually a valley in a dried-up sea where things work backwards (ice is hot, fire is cold, waterfalls contain only dust, gentle breezes produce loud thunderclaps, and sitting on a rock for too long gets you Taken for Granite while the rock becomes a sessile organism capable of screaming when walked upon), inhabited by physically and mentally unwell villagers who've been stuck there for a hundred thousand years, and ruled by the tyrant Karzahni, who mind rapes people into obedience by using his Kanohi Olisi to project horrible visions of alternate futures. (Millennia ago, villagers who worked poorly were sent here to be healed, but Karzahni couldn't seem to do it well, and after some time spent deforming them and then sending them to the Southern Continent, eventually he started punishing the villagers instead.) Their only way out is distracting Karzahni by trapping him in his own vision which makes him aware of The Outside World, then hopping into six Toa-carrier canisters that can phase through rock, after being told by the canisters' crazed inventor that riding in them is deadly to anyone not a Toa. Jaller and company of course survive Because Destiny Says So.

    Video Games 
  • Planescape: Torment has this trope nested in itself several times.
    • It begins with the Nameless One waking up in a morgue manned by some very disturbing and morbid characters who are aided by pitiful zombies.
    • During the course of one playthrough, the Nameless One will also escape from: a nation of the undead; a slum of insane folks (by following worshipers of chaos through a painted door); a fake "dungeon" made by mechanical beings running a psychological experiment on dungeon crawling adventurers; a nonsensical maze containing a deadly witch; a town whose Always Chaotic Evil residents are sending it into an Epiphanic Prison because of their Chronic Back Stabbing Disorder; Hell; and a fortress filled with furious shades. This list is not exhaustive.
  • Portal:
  • Henry Townshend of Silent Hill 4 is one of the rare non-amnesiac cases; in fact, unlike many examples, he's actually trapped in his own room, with the major mystery being the circumstances of his imprisonment. His front door is chained up and no one can hear him. The only way out is a hole in his bathroom, which leads him to a nightmarish mirror world populated by monsters: there are others trapped like this, but despite his best efforts, they all meet a gruesome end at the hands of the serial killer Walter Sullivan. Eventually, it is revealed that Walter Sullivan killed himself in prison, but not before completing the first half of a grisly ritual that has turned him into a sociopathic demigod; he is in the process of completing his transformation through a second round of killings, and Henry and his love interest are marked for death unless they can stop him.
  • Resident Evil: Outbreak and its sequel are another non-amnesiac case. The eight playable survivors find themselves trapped in some part of Raccoon City when the zombie outbreak struck, and they must cooperate to find some means of getting out to safety. Available locations include a bar, an Umbrella lab, a hospital, a university, the city zoo, and a subway.
  • The System Shock games have an introductory cutscene and that tutorial/choice thing, respectively, but the player barely knows anything and for that matter the characters are pretty clueless too, when the game starts. It fits the trope pretty well. Strictly speaking, you're not trying to escape in System Shock 2, as there's nowhere to escape to if you don't fix up the FTL ship.
  • BioShock plays a lot like this in the beginning of the game with Jack seeking the nearest refuge from a plane crash and ending up in Rapture, a city overrun with psychopaths and corruption. The first third of the game is his attempt to escape to the surface with the mysterious Atlas. He still is trying to escape the place throughout the rest of the game but has some unfinished business before he leaves it behind.
  • the white chamber details a game describing the events of a girl who has just woken up on a space station that's missing its crew and has a weird habit of shifting into a Dark World. Your goal is to discover what is going on, where everyone is, and why you seem to be unable to remember how you got here.
  • Limbo of the Lost begins with the main character Benjamin Briggs awakening in a cell with a crazy man hanging from the ceiling as company, and has to escape. Most players will likely be clamouring to escape their own little Crazy Place with Alt-F4 about five minutes later.
  • Dead Space 2: You wake up in insane asylum, things get worse.
  • Corpse Party: A handful of students wind up in another dimension where a haunted school exists, they need to escape, and survive.
  • The Bright in the Screen. Having trouble finding yourself?... There you are! Continue to the right. Mind the gap.
  • In Unreal, you spend the game trying to get of a deadly planet after a prison ship crash. Then, you have to do it all over again in the expansion pack...
  • Subverted in Batman: Arkham Asylum in that Batman isn't trying to escape from the crazy place (though he is trying to stop the craziness that engulfed it), but is still in one.
  • In Outlast, at first you go in to investigate the Asylum, but discover it's filled with crazed monsters, and now have to escape it.
  • The player character in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords wakes up in Peragus II, a mining facility where all the staff were massacred by their own droids, and the mastermind who planned it lies in waiting.
  • Present in both of Team Psykskallar's major games.
    • In Afraid of Monsters, David Leatherhoff wakes in a dark, monster-infested hospital and has to get out. Unfortunately, the city outside isn't much better...
    • In Cry of Fear, Simon Henriksson wakes in an empty Stockholm. All he wants to do is get home, but his path leads him through several crazy places he must escape from: an unholy apartment complex, the city's subway station, a dark forest, and an asylum populated by axe-wielding psychopaths. Unfortunately, it's all in his poor, crazy head.
  • 1213 stars yet another amnesiac protagonist in a hostile hospital environment full of monsters and madmen. The twist: the protagonist is not entirely normal himself, and there's a secret the people in charge are keeping that turns the entire situation on its head.


    Web Original 
  • The Trope Namer is the Choose Your Own Adventure Escape From The Crazy Place by J. J. Guest. The protagonist starts off in a padded room with a clown named Donald McRonald; wacky hijinks and dadaesque nonsense ensue as the unlikely pair attempt to Escape from the Crazy Place and thwart the efforts of the Bowler Hat Guy to keep them trapped there forever. The game is technically Unwinnable, though: there are clues that apparently lead to an ending, but they either lead into each other or are simply red herrings. The author admitted that he couldn't come up with a satisfying finale, so there wasn't one...but exploring everything the Crazy Place has to offer is rewarding in and of itself. That, and as one character subtly hints, you can "escape" any time simply by closing your browser...
  • Ruby Quest: Endearing, disturbing, heartwrenching, cute, cuddly, dark and bloody. A girl wakes up to find herself in an underwater lab; a boy is imprisoned in the floor below. Employing her wits, she frees the boy, makes a friend, and decapitates a zombie. This sets the tone for an adventure full of mystery, madness, sweetness and High-Pressure Blood. And Body Horror. Lots and lots of Body Horror. Stitches (the zombie) is first encountered as a head attached to a bloody, snakelike mess of bones and organs, and his head itself splits open to reveal a gaping maw full of teeth. And Daisy, originally a sweet little puppy-girl, is mutated beyond recognition and serves as the story's first real boss fight.
  • In the Alice Isn't Dead episode "Alice", when the distressingly mobile Vanishing Village Charlatan insists on reappearing multiple times despite her driving away from it, illustrating a curious "Groundhog Day" Loop with bonus horrible violations of the laws of physics, the long-haul trucker Character Narrator becomes increasingly desperate waiting for the stoplight to change so she can depart. So are the citizens of Charlatan, judging by the weeping elderly man who attempts to escape by teleporting into the cab of her truck and mutely pointing to the road, only to be locked back into his loop as she leaves for the last time.


Video Example(s):


Mr. Hitcher

While going to HappyWorldLand, the Pig family's car nearly runs over a hitchhiker. Taking pity on him, they offer to give him a lift. It's then that Plucky hears over the radio about a psychotic killer escaping, with his description matching their hitchhiker, except for the fact he's wearing green wait, ''orange'' hightops.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / HostileHitchhiker

Media sources: