Follow TV Tropes


Evil Elevator

Go To

"One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare. That door is opening once again and this time, it's opening for you."

Or Evilator for short.


Unlike the Elevator Action Sequence trope, where it's a fight scene in and around an Elevator, this is just an Elevator, that seems to be out to get you and anyone else that dares to go near it. This trope deals with elevators that apparently have a mind of their own. However, if the elevator fails due to explainable causes (bad maintenance, fire, earthquake), or because someone else damaged it, that's not an Evil Elevator, that's Elevator Failure.

Either the elevator wants to get you because it's vicious, or it has a cruel sense of humor.

The Scary, or 'Evil', version is where the elevator cable suddenly snaps without warning - plunging the riders down, either a few feet to terrify, or to their deaths. Sometimes the cable breaks while someone is inside the shaft, squishing the poor schmuck. Or if it doesn't fall, it makes ominous, creaking noises, or has a tendency to get stuck between floors - the odds of the last increases during an emergency situation.

When it's just mean, it jerk ups without warning, or drops. In very silly settings, this means the riders end up pinned to the ceiling, or flattened into a pancake. Often times, this kind of elevator has an operator that seems immune to the extreme forces that are apparently at work.

And of course, the doors closing can rip a man's arms off.

The main distinction between an evil and a mean elevator is that the evil is never played for comedy and usually results in someone dying, while the mean elevator leaves characters alive - but usually needing a change of clothes.

In Real Life, the modern-day elevator is safer than an escalator. However, if you are in a fictional setting, ride the elevator at your own risk.

The Hellevator is usually safe to ride, but the place it takes you to is decidedly evil and unsafe.


    open/close all folders 
In this Indian commercial for Chlormint gum, a pretty but vain young woman enters an elevator while proclaiming that one day she will be on posters everywhere. She finds a Chlormint gum packet on the floor and wonders why people like it so much. The elevator takes offense and its walls push in from both sides, squashing her flat. Her flattened, lifeless body is then hung on the walls as a poster.

    Comic Books 
  • Inferno (1988): One of these materializes in the Empire State Building when New York is being taken over by demons from Limbo. A Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of a group of paranormal researchers absently gets inside to head to the roof, only for the doors to close and the sounds of screaming to be heard. When the doors open again, the inside is covered in a mural depicting the scientists being attacked and tortured by all manner of evil looking monsters.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The elevator in Boo! will only take you to the hospital's very haunted third floor, no matter what button you press.
  • In Damien: Omen II, a scientist who is about to expose the Antichrist is killed when his elevator first ascends to the top and ignores button presses, enters freefall to the lowest floor, and a cable falls from above to bisects both the car and the guy.
  • Much of Devil takes place in an elevator. Though it's not the elevator as much as who's in it...
  • Final Destination 2: A woman gets her braided ponytail caught in the hook of a model arm, panics, and gets her head stuck between the elevator doors. It then cuts her head clean off. Earlier it took off a guy's shoe.
  • In Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the Gremlins commandeer one of the Clamp building's elevators with Kate inside it. They cut the brakes and cables, sending the elevator into a freefall, but because the Gremlins are all clinging to the bottom of the car, they get squished into slime when it lands and absorb enough of the impact to leave Kate unhurt, although with plenty of new, green stains on her uniform.
  • The title "star" of the Dutch-made horror film De Lift is a murderous elevator. Dick Maas, writer/director of De Lift, later remade the movie as Down (a.k.a., in its American DVD release, The Shaft).
  • In the TV movie Paper Man (1971) a number of college students are apparently being picked off by the college mainframe. One woman, played by Tina Chen, is first terrorised by a terminal printing "Death, Death, Death" and then chased down a hallway to the elevator by the lights going out behind her (creating a gaping maw). Once in the elevator she tries to leave but it stops between floors. When she tries to climb out the doors close and the elevator descends, killing her In the end we learn it's not the computer, or even the elevator, but a person is behind it.
  • In Poltergeist III an entire skyscraper is taken over by evil spirits that can travel through mirrors. Of course, the elevators are lined with mirrors.... And if that wasn't enough, a character is pushed into an open elevator shaft by one of these now-corporeal entities.
  • In Ready or Not (2019), Dora, one of the maids, is crushed to death by the door of the dumbwaiter.
  • Resident Evil (2002) has a woman getting decapitated as she tries to escape a trapped elevator. The reason she's trying to escape is that the crowded elevator she's in is stopped by the A.I. — then they hears the screams from the elevator next door passing by as it freefalls from the top floor to the bottom.
  • Ripper: Letter from Hell: When Marissa tries to leave A Party, Also Known as an Orgy, the rickety freight elevator takes her up instead of down, and strands her on the 13th floor. Where the killer is waiting for her.
  • One of the most famous scenes from The Shining involves an elevator opening from which a literal tidal wave of blood pours out.
  • Spies Like Us. The two Ace Tomato Company (eg. CIA) bigshots enter a drive-in theatre and activate the Pepsi machine. Next thing they know, they're screaming as they plunge down a Bottomless Pit to the Elaborate Underground Base.
  • In the film They, a victim of the boogeyman-like living night terrors tries to flee his infested apartment in an old-fashioned elevator, which proceeds to jerk up and down and rattle him half to death. Double subverted in that he makes it out of the elevator alive, only to be dragged down the open shaft by the night terror.
  • This was spoofed in Undercover Brother when the hero screams hysterically as he thinks he's plunging down a similar endless elevator shaft... only to realize he's just dropped a single story.
  • The protagonist of Vamp! has a close call with a malfunctioning elevator early in the film.
  • In Wish Upon, Meredith is killed when the elevator she is in suddenly plummets. It stops briefly and she uses the opportunity to call for help. The door opens and she is about to step out, when the elevator suddenly drops again and plunges all the way to the bottom of the shaft.

  • Common in Give Yourself Goosebumps, notably "Shop Till You Drop ... Dead!" and "Into the Jaws of Doom". Averted in "Elevator to Nowhere", in which the titular "elevator" is actually a dimension-hopping device and doesn't go up or down.

  • In Dream Park, the AI controlling a horror-themed attraction speaks to passengers entering the ride via elevator. It informs them that it's tired of pandering to humans' craving for fake scares, and will see to it that one of them genuinely won't survive the experience. One of the passengers does appear to die horribly, but she's a hologram and part of the attraction.
  • One of the Final Destination Novels has the big disaster at the beginning of the novel take place in a glass elevator on the outside of the building. The elevator gets caught and the gears continue forcing it to move, which causes it to tilt until everyone falls into the glass and it shatters, causing them to fall to their deaths. This continues until the thing is entirely sideways. Of course the protagonist wakes up from her vision in time to save her friends, but as Final Destination does, everyone dies in various ways eventually.
  • In the The Necromantic Mysteriesof Kyle Murchison Booth series, The Wall Of Clouds has an elevator that has a tendency to break and stop between floors. After several long minutes of terrified screams from the person using the elevator, it will again work and a dead body will be all that's left. It's implied that this has happened many times.
  • Philip Kerr's novel Gridiron, in which a computer-controlled building is taken over by a homicidal AI, has a variation. The evil computer kills a character by moving an express lift upwards at high speed, then stopping it suddenly. The victim is then described as "looking like Frankenstein's Monster".
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe
    • There is a variant in Survivor's Quest. Survivors in the ruins of Outbound Flight rigged the turbolifts — think elevators IN SPACE, with repulsor beams replacing cables — to imprison the heroes and suspend them between two Dreadnaughts. If they tried to cut their way out, one repulsor beam would shut off and the other one would crush them against a Dreadnaught. The two action-oriented parties immediately block the cameras and gets to work getting out; the noncombatant party talks their way into getting released. The one including Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker gets out of this using Badass Back, a synchronized strike, and a Wire Dilemma. The one including Aurek Seven gets out by siphoning power from one cable and directing it to another.
    • In another of the Expanded Universe novels, Luke Invokes this trope, he has to get a work crew out of a construction mecha during an emergency, and projects the image of a hungry maw over the elevator doors to make the workers take the stairs.
    • During Galaxy of Fear, when things start going wrong on the Star of Empire, Hoole tells the Arrandas they should never take the turbolifts in an emergency. Later some characters go into one turbolift, others into the other - and they both start going down way too fast, "screaming like a bomb being dropped." Dash Rendar manually hotwires the emergency brake for long enough for the people in his car to get out, but the occupants of the other car were not so lucky.
  • The Young Wizards protagonists, in a universe which has animate and usually murderous vehicles, need to get down from the top of a skyscraper. One suggests the elevator, the other asks whether he trusts it, and they quickly decide to take the stairs. Later, they have to move much more quickly, and they threaten said elevators with magic to make them cooperate.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The pilot of 666 Park Avenue has a woman being nearly killed by the elevator she was about to step off of. And two episodes later, the Devil-Dealer of the Week is pushed down an empty elevator shaft by the show's Big Bad, Gavin Doran.
  • The Bob Newhart Show
    • Not evil but sort of cruel: after a therapy session, a pleased Bob is telling one of his regular patients (Mr. Carlin) how well he is coming along with his inability to make decisions. As they walk to the two elevators, Mr. Carlin presses the button and both elevators' doors open at the same time. He stares at them for a while and storms out the stairway exit.
    • Bob himself is nearly done in on two occasions by a missing elevator car-and one time sees Death itself waiting in one that does arrive.
  • During one episode of Castle, Richard Castle is convinced he has been cursed. While riding the elevator at the police station, he first loses cell phone reception, then the lights flicker and go out, then the elevator shakes and stops. Not knowing what to do if the elevator falls, he lays flat on the floor. When the elevator door opens he is seen by Beckett and other officers. He is obviously upset. They call maintenance.
  • Crime Scene: The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel: After footage of Elisa Lam acting strangely in an elevator goes viral, many internet sleuths and conspiracy theorists wonder if the elevator was cursed or evil. The docu-series makes it clear the elevator was functioning properly.
  • Father Brown: A sabotaged lift is used to send one Victim of the Week plummeting to his death in "The Crackpot of the Empire".
  • A Villain of the Week in The Flash (2014) invokes this with his first victim, using his Technopath powers to make the elevator said victim gets into move rapidly up and down repeatedly. While the result is not shown onscreen, other charater's reactions imply that it is not pretty.
  • Freaky has a variation of this, where the elevator is bedecked with a host of traps to obliterate anyone unfortunate to tick off its operator. This manifests in a series of levels that are all potentially fatal, and may as a whole be never-ending.
  • In the Fringe episode "Power Hungry", an electrical manipulator gets in an elevator with several people and accidentally drives it into the ground.
  • In the Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "The Devil's Platform", satanic magic sends the Victim of the Week plunging to his doom in an elevator.
  • The Magician: In "Nightmare in Steel", a hitman attempts to kill Tony's new Lovely Assistant by sabotaging the elevator so that it bursts into flame when she presses a button.
  • The New Avengers: In "Complex", the murderous AI controlling the building causes the floor to drop out of the elevator beneath Greenwood's feet, send him plummeting to his death.
  • Referenced in Only Murders in the Building when the trio discovers a secret elevator in The Arconia. Oliver quips "Where does it go, Hell?"
  • Parodied and subverted in Perfect Strangers where Balki and Larry ride an elevator without knowing that it is being tested for maintenance. The technician tests the elevator's capabilities making it rapidly go up and down, scaring the heck out of the two. Balki, believing it to be haunted, tries to appease it.
    Balki: [while gently caressing the elevator] Can I call you Otis?
  • Parodied in the Saturday Night Live skit "Haunted Elevator," in which a couple rides a Tower Of Terror-esque Halloween ride where every floor is some spooky character, such as a ghostly butler or a zombie bride. Things go downhill when they arrive at a floor with a character by the name of David S. Pumpkins who, along with two skeleton backup dancers, just does a goofy, not-very-scary dance and asks "Any questions?" leaving the couple confused and slightly annoyed. Unfortunately for them, he keeps showing back up. In the end, he finally manages to scare them by popping up behind them and yelling "ANY QUESTIONS??"
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Geordi LaForge gets his ass kicked six ways to Sunday by the turbolift (and loses his VISOR) as a byproduct of a computer virus affecting the Enterprise in the episode "Contagion".
  • Supernatural: In "It's a Terrible Life", a security guard gets killed by a malfunctioning elevator in a haunted office building.
  • The X-Files: The episode "Ghost in the Machine" involves an elevator that is part of an office building's sentient computer network killing an investigator.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Mystic Elevator in Betrayal at House on the Hill moves around the house somewhat randomly (you roll to determine which floor it ends up on, but get to choose where), but on a roll of 0 will crash into the basement (which is dangerous in its own way) and harm all occupants in the process. Also, when the Haunting begins, the Traitor has complete control of the elevator and can make it go where they want, because they are "on the same side". Since the Traitor is unquestionably evil...
  • The card game Hecatomb had a creature type that was all evil animated objects, one of which was an evil elevator.
  • Almost every elevator in the Paranoia RPG qualifies; they possess A.I., have very boring jobs, and tend to be very, very disgruntled. Thus appears in the book Extreme Paranoia: Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Shot set in the universe.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has one, or at least implied from the character's reactions. Alucard sounded terrified, while Richter sounded like he was dying while riding it!
  • Variation: In the classic arcade game Elevator Action, the player can control his elevator to squash enemy agents passing underneath. The player can also fall victim to this.
  • One of dozens of Game Over screens on Fear Effect had your character crushed while trying to climb an elevator shaft and reduced to a smear of blood on the wall.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon had a preoccupation with elevators that go about halfway and then stop, forcing you to crawl, bash, shoot and stumble your way through what should have been a 5-second elevator ride but instead takes at least an entire level. There's an evil version too: The player is making his way through the maintenance areas, passing through an elevator shaft. Without warning, an elevator freefalls down the shaft a few feet in front of you. Oh, but there is one (count them, one goddamn time) that you get where you need to go without getting shot at... the doors open just in time to see the person you were chasing driving away very quickly.
  • Half-Life has a minor evil elevator moment in which the elevator only drops a few feet, but it's right over a vat of radiation.
    • There's also another elevator early on containing two scientists which drops from a lethal height. The event is timed so that it triggers a few moments after you reach it, so if you hit the button and don't know that's not what triggers it, you feel like a jerk.
  • Starting with Hitman: Blood Money, the Hitman series lets you be the evil in the elevator by letting you sneak on top of them and garrote whatever poor schmuck is in.
  • Fairly common in earlier FPS games, the first Jedi Knight for example, but usually due to the physics involved. If you weren't getting crushed underneath the descending platform, you were being squashed between the lift and the corridor ceiling. And you can basically forget actually jumping while going down.
  • Fifth boss in Radiant Silvergun is an elevator which tries to destroy the player with various components. It is also able to replace each destroyed component twice.
  • Unintentional example in Starbound: The elevator in The Grand Pagoda, due to its construction (rather than going up and down, it goes on a loop; a short bit to the right, down a long distance, then a bit to the left, then up again) is prone to whisking the platform away from under the player's feet, dropping them all the way down the (very long) shaft to an inevitable demise. As the whole place is severely broken, it kind of makes sense.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, an evil spirit of Ocean House Hotel tries to drop a lift on you.
  • World of Warcraft has a few dangerous elevators:
    • Every elevator in that you can die from falling off has inevitably accumulated a kill count, but far and away the most notoriously evil are the Undercity elevators (coincidentally, the obvious way to enter the city), the Aldor Rise elevator in Shattrath City, and the real first boss of Serpentshrine Cavern. The game even keeps track of the number of times you've died as a result of this under "Death by elevator boss" on your achievements card.
    • Those Undercity elevators really hate Tauren. Ironically, the Tauren city of Highmountain has its own dangerous elevator.
    • And with Cataclysm's entry raid "Blackwing Descent" has one so evil that strategy guides have been written for it, and is being tracked on the official armoury.
    • Also, Orgrimmar recently added some elevators to the top of a mesa, where the zeppelins and flight master are now located. However, because of what may be some kind of glitch, you'll occasionally just fall right through the platform.

  • Sleepless Domain: Word of God has stated that all of the monsters in the comic are based on specific phobias; one that appears prominently in Chapter 2 embodies the fear of elevators. The creature appears to have an elevator car embedded within its head, and an unnaturally long neck resembling the exterior of an elevator shaft. It also has what appears to be a floor indicator dial protruding from the back of its head; as it moves the needle from one side to the other, its victims are thrown into the air and slammed into the ground, as if they were experiencing a particularly violent elevator ride.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of The Real Ghostbusters, a building becomes so saturated with ectoplasmic energy from the Netherworld that its elevators turn into monstrous faces with gnashing mouths and lolling tongues, and vomiting up a never ending stream of ghosts.
  • The Elevator Monster from Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!. It at first appears as a man in a trench coat, in an elevator that mysteriously appears to people looking for one, except it has no buttons. It teleports poor victims to a dig site where they're forced into slave labor to unearth something the Skeleton King wants. When the team manages to confront, it changes form so the man is on top of the cabin, revealing that it was part of his body as well as the buttons across his torso.

    Real Life 
  • There's a fair amount of people in real life that are so terrified by the possibility of the elevators being of this sort that they take the stairs.
  • And for a reason. It sometimes does happen in real life...
  • Man is trapped inside elevator for almost 2 days.
  • Not so much evil as stupid, the University of Chicago's Computation Institute has an elevator that has been lovingly termed the "Bogovator" due to its erratic behavior. Much like the bogosort algorithm it's named after, the elevator (so the joke goes) goes to a random floor when you punch in a number, and if it's right, the doors open; otherwise, it tries again. While this is not quite true, it has certainly been observed to go the wrong direction, and occasionally go to the requested floor, forget why it's there, NOT open the doors, and go to a different floor instead.
  • In the Whitley Hall dorms at East Texas State University, the elevators got more and more erratic to the point that one student pushed the button for the 9th floor, and the elevator stopped at three other floors (without opening the doors) before finally stopping at the 9th floor and opening the doors. After ETSU joined the Texas A&M system, the elevators were completely replaced when they remodeled Whitley Hall to include a sprinkler system.