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Hacker Cave

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Guess what's the most advanced piece of hardware in this room. The answer may surprise you.note 

Trestkon: You're still the resident hacker, eh?
Evil Invasion: I'm a programmer, I just hack when I need to.
Trestkon: I think this is the first office of a programmer I've ever visited without expensive hardware lying around on the floor among pizza boxes and empty cans of pop.
Evil Invasion: Sorry, but I just moved in. Give me a few days then this place will live up to all your prejudices.

The Big Bad is a Computer-Destroying Techwhiz. The Good Guy's on the other side. Now, how do you show the audience that they are awesome, other than having them grab a keyboard, punch a few buttons, and blow up a satellite in 15 minutes?

Throw in the 21st-century equivalent of the Mad Scientist Laboratory, and have them live in a room packed to the brim full of technological things, that's what. A Hacker Cave, known in chanspeak as a 'battlestation'.

Note that said definition of "awesome" must include one of the following words in its description (amongst others): Geeky, Technology, Things that go BEEP, Metallic, futuristic, pipes, blinkenlights, Billions of Buttons. Anime figurines and other otaku paraphernalia do apply. Must include more than one obvious computer tower with water cooling (because the hacker knows computers don't equal monitors), and the primary computer comes with at least three monitors, one of which is huge (never mind some of those monitors display only a looping picture that does nothing). May also include a retro 1980s coin-op arcade game (Pac-Man and Space Invaders are obvious favorites) in a corner, just because. There's no kitchen and the hackers seem to subsist on take-out food, snacks, and energy drinks.

When done well, the result will be unabashed Technology Porn.

"Real" hackers spend most of their hacking time peering at a text editor and thinking very hard, so one might think this unrealistic, but it still manages to be Truth in Television for many. A common cause is the need to keep any number of test machines on hand to verify programs' behavior on dissimilar platforms, or in complex networked setups. Demoparties and other hackish social occasions often resemble this trope too—as do the bedrooms (or basements) of hackers who deliberately seek this trope as an ideal!

Quite often, this trope will intersect with Voice with an Internet Connection.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Amy the Playful Hacker from Burst Angel somehow stuffed a Hacker Cave inside a Base on Wheels.
  • Death Note:
    • The control room of L's high-rise, though the large monitors are generally used for observing the security cameras of the building. There are only three actual computers with one monitor each, which makes perfect sense when you consider there are usually several people working at once.
    • Near gets a more organized variation, with a full wall of screens that can project anything from security footage to news archives to incoming transmissions... which, for some reason, blot out everything else the dozens of screens were doing at the time.
    • The dingy little apartment shared by Matt and Mello qualifies as well.
  • Digimon:
    • The Digimon Kaiser's headquarters in Digimon Adventure 02 is a rather strange instance of this trope - it's basically this, but the screens are kind of just floating there in featureless blackness and all the controls are on the arms of the Kaiser's chair. The room is apparently pretty small but otherwise has no distinguishing features. Its strangeness may be justified by it being in the Digital World instead of the real world.
    • Yamaki of Digimon Tamers is a black ops agent and computer programmer. His Hacker Cave is the HYPNOS headquarters, whose operation's center is filled to the brim with computers, wires, monitors, and even a massive overhead screen. At the beginning of the series, Yamaki is so obsessed with Digimon, he seems to never leave the place. When we finally see him at his apartment being fired but overcoming his obsession, he sets up a computer and accessories in his living room.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
    • In one episode, the Major visits a hacker who lives in the more typical dark, cramped room. This particular Hacker Cave is filled with (deliberately) anachronistic computer equipment, a good proportion of which is obsolete. There are also at least two robotic sex dolls lying around.
    • The Major gets one of these in Solid State Society, although hers is rather stylishly located in a light, airy penthouse apartment.
  • Celestial Being's founder Aeolia Schenberg has one of this in the epilogue of Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer.
  • Milluki's room in Hunter × Hunter resembles this, right down to the bookshelf full of various anime figures. As the premier black hat hacker in the setting, it's a fitting look to his abode.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Chisame's Magitek pactio item can create a perfect hacking space for her inside a TRON-like area complete with surrounding screens, numerous floating keyboards, and seven electronic helpers. Her own room surrounded by monitors probably also counts.
  • Sekirei: Matsu's room in the Izumo Inn is full of computer screens that let her watch several parts of the city through the satellites she hacks. Said room is also accessed through a secret door that's disguised as a wall.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: The titular character's set-up. Her $2000+ Cisco Catalyst switches running the latest IOS grew there out of nothing. Her computer has grown so much in later episodes that it's started to sprout from the outside walls like a plant.
  • Kururu's room in Sgt. Frog.
  • Satsuki in X/1999 has only one giant computer, but it's still in a cooled room under the Tokyo City Hall.
  • Noah and Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! both have one.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Most incarnations of the Batcave, especially after the Bat-Computer met the PC revolution.
    • Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon builds one of these for herself wherever she goes (unless someone else, like Supergirl in The Attack of the Annihilator, builds one for Babs). Her Clocktower lair in Gotham City was the original headquarters of her team the Birds of Prey.
    • Part of Red Robin's underground Cool Garage is a dedicated computer area that was designed using Tim Drake's knowledge from working on the Batcomputer and helping upgrade Oracle's systems.
    • Robin (1993)'': When a newly orphaned Tim moved to Bludhaven while dodging Bruce's offers to adopt him since he was still furious at Bruce's role in keeping Stephanie missing and then critical status from him he built himself a Robin's Nest in a boarded up loft that primarily consisted of an impressive computer system.
  • Blue Beetle: The Beetlecave! Jaime's hacker buddies, Hector and Nadia, basically turned their entire house into this. The actual 'Beetlecave', however, is the cyberspace face of it. All because Jaime's parents probably wouldn't like their son constructing a real cave in the crawlspace...

    Film — Animated 
  • Big Hero 6: Hiro Hamada has two: a small one set up in the corner of his bedroom, and a larger more elaborate setup in his aunt's garage.

    Film — Live Action 
  • A rather nifty one in The Arrival.
  • Live Free or Die Hard (a.k.a. Die Hard 4.0) has several examples. All the hackers that blow up at the start, or at least the ones we see, imply they have a mass of pimped-out computers. Then there is the truck the bad guys go around in. And again in the Woodlawn building, it has a massive super server to hold all the financial transactions of the USA (yet is able to be downloaded to a single laptop). Finally, there's Freddie "Warlock" Kaludis's (Kevin Smith) basement lair.
  • Ed, the consultant from I.T., goes to one every evening.
  • Hacker caves show up in the movie Hackers, including the huge multi-towered glowy Gibson supercomputer.
  • On that note, Griffin's setup in Jumper. Griffin even refers to it as "the lair".
  • The Matrix in a more cyberpunk style.
  • In Nerve, the backroom of The Cloud is set up as one. This is where Tommy and the hacker collective launch their botnet attack.
  • Number theorist Max Cohen in the 1998 movie π has a homemade supercomputer (named Euclid) that takes up his whole apartment.
  • Stephen lives in one in The Score.
  • Serenity: Mr. Universe's home in the Big Damn Movie of Firefly.
  • The basement of Kevin Flynn's arcade plays this pretty straight in TRON: Legacy, even when it was deserted for 20 years — the touchscreen computer was even counting the time up to that point until Sam brushes off the dust.
  • A proto-example: David Lightman (Matthew Broderick)'s bedroom in WarGames.
  • In Who Am I (2014), when the hero's grandmother gets permanently transferred to hospital, he turns her house into a headquarter for his hacker group.
  • The ending of Zero Effect.
  • Blade (1998): The vampires' archive beneath the nightclub that the Vampire Vannabe police officer leads Blade and Karen to. Within a dark, basement cave are rows of silver server racks, and a nook hosting Pearl, Deacon Frost's Evil Genius assisting with his research of the master plan, surrounded by laptops and a miniature TV.
  • The poster for Ratter depicts the stalker watching Emma through a screen in a very dark room.

  • From The Ant King by Benjamin Rosenbaum, Vampire has a blacklit cavern, brimming with these, which increase by the day.
  • Cryptonomicon arguably sees Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse creating the world's first hacker cave when in the later stages of World War II his superiors discover his lab to be taken over by a massive and revolutionary self-built computer through which he has been running literal truckloads of punch cards to aid in his codebreaking work.
  • The Evil Genius Trilogy has a couple, With Hardware Heaven in the first book, and The War Room in the second.
  • The geek house in the early novels of Charles Stross' The Laundry Files features this, only extended to include a laser pentagram for demon summoning
  • Masquerade of the Red Death: Phantomas' lair under Paris is full of computers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Astrid: William, the leader of Astrid's autism-spectrum support group, is a white-hat hacker, and his flat is full of assorted computer equipment.
  • In Continuum, Alec Sadler has one in the attic of his family's barn. The size of the set-up is somewhat justified by the fact that Alec is inventing, building, and testing next-generation processing and communication technology.
  • Criminal Minds
    • Garcia's office.
    • An evil and substantially more complicated version turns up in "The Big Game"/"Revelations".
  • Sleazy, unscrupulous, eleven-year-old blogger Nevel from iCarly has one in the closet off his living room. Upon discovering it, Sam referred to it as his "nerd cave."
  • The IT department in The IT Crowd is full of obsolete (but notorious) computer equipment, cabling, geeky posters, and the various bits of debris that a computer room accumulates.
  • In Reboot The Guardian Code, the Sourcerer has one that's seemingly set up in an Abandoned Warehouse somewhere, as well as a mobile setup in the back of a van.
  • Silicon Valley:
    • Erlich Bachman has converted his suburban Palo Alto home into an "incubator" for freelance programmers, supplying them free rooms on the condition that he owns 10% of anything they create there. The living room is nothing but computer workspaces, and the garage is filled with servers.
    • In season 4, Gavin Belson gives the Pied Piper programmers a tour of the suburban garage where he and Peter Gregory built Hooli as youths. When they walk out, we discover that he's transported the garage into a larger garage where he also stores his various aircraft and supercars.
  • Smallville
    • The Watchtower in the last few seasons was this for Chloe. Back in the high school days of the early seasons, the Smallville High Torch office was this for her as well, though in that case, it was open to all students and faculty rather than being private property (it really was more a matter of Chloe being the only one who consistently wanted to be at the Torch!)
    • Lana also got one in Season 7, as she used it to spy on Lex's every move.
  • The X-Files: The lair of The Lone Gunmen.

  • In Destroy the Godmodder the godmodder's room has been stated quite frequently to be one of these.
    • Attacks targeting his systems don't work because he supposedly has an infinite number of backup computers.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Samantha Ford has one in The 11th Hour, with 3 computers side-by-side that can apparently show live feeds of the Stauf Mansion. The room itself is pretty sparse, with a TV at the back and some doors, but granted, she's confined to a wheelchair.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Initiates, Assassin Emmett has a hacker cave set up onboard the Altair II.
  • In Beyond A Steel Sky, Leet's lair is hidden in the industrial level and has a lot of old computers. Most importantly, he has a LINC chair which can be used to access LINCspace.
  • One of the V.I.L.E. lairs you have to investigate in Carmen Sandiego: Math Detective.
  • Lucca's house from Chrono Trigger is littered with cables and books.
  • The very last stage in Condemned 2: Bloodshot evokes this trope to prove that Big Brother Is Watching.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dutch hacker Arie van Bruggen has two. His first setup in his penthouse apartment is hidden behind a false wall. His second (after he's forced to go into hiding) is a temporary set up inside a capsule hotel; impressive, since a "room" in that place is little more than a bed and a privacy curtain. Van Bruggen got around this by renting every single pod adjacent to his and stuffing them completely full with server towers.
    • Pritchard's office is filled with electronics. He even has an arch built out of old CRT monitors.
  • Lester's house from Grand Theft Auto V; due to him being a Genius Cripple, he normally doesn't leave all that much. On occasion, he will be out in the field, including the "Obvious" version of The Big Score, where he helps take down Merryweather choppers with RPGs.
  • The flash game Hackers Escape is a Room Escape Game based on this trope.
  • DiZ of Kingdom Hearts owns one in the Basement of the Twilight Town Mansion. In frustration, Roxas happened to smash one of them.
  • Burns Flipper's hideout in The Longest Journey, found in an old shipyard.
  • The Shadow Broker has a pretty impressive one in Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker. Liara manages to keep her hands on most of the hardware, setting it up in Miranda's old office by the time of Mass Effect 3.
  • The Villain of Mega Man Battle Network 2 had this but instead the cave was a condo of 30 floors. All packed with Servers, said servers were also emitting high amounts of Electromagnetic radiation to the point it was distorting the movements of the residents of the town it was in.
  • Otacon operates out of a cargo plane converted into a hacker cave in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, courtesy of Apple.
  • Mocked in The Nameless Mod, giving the page quote.
  • Baofu's "lair" in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment becomes the Player Headquarters for a while before it sinks into the ocean like everything else in the Narumi Ward after a certain event.
  • Lanette, Hoenn's resident computer geek in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire has a house that definitely fits this trope. She admits the place is a bit of a mess.
    • Similarly, Cassius, the Kalos storage expert, has a messy house full of rack servers and other equipment.
  • A two-room example shows up in Ripper in the residence of Joey Falconetti, who is claimed to be the world's greatest hacker. It's packed with tons of monitors and a few loudly humming servers with blinking lights, plus a hologram projector for good measure. When protagonist Jake Quinlan meets Falconetti face-to-face, he discovers that the man was apparently hooked into a hammock packed with tubes and cables, whilst logged into cyberspace for 80 hours straight. In a Cyberpunk game such as this, though, other non-hacker locations like the Manhattan police station and the Woffard cottage show flavors of this as well.
  • Kinzie in Saints Row: The Third sets one up after joining the Saints, with nary a bed in sight...
    Kinzie: Sleep is forbidden.
  • TimeSplitters and TimeSplitters 2 have cyberpunk levels with underground hacker hideouts.
  • Some Nosferatu in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines live in literal Hacker Caves.
  • Appears all over the place in Watch_Dogs and its sequel. They act as safe houses in the first game (where you save your game by sleeping as well as changing your outfit).
    • Aiden's apartment has a few screens and a projector set up, although it's specifically to help in the search for his niece's murderers. It gets destroyed by the Black Viceroys.
    • The Black Viceroys' server room, the upper part of the Rossi-Fremont fortress which acts as the headquarters for Iraq and where he keeps all his blackmail material.
    • The Bunker, the testing site for the first ctOS system and the player's primary HQ when it's unlocked. It's awesome.
  • In Watch_Dogs 2, there are Hackerspaces, locations where DedSec is set up and acts as their headquarters.
    • A villainous example comes from the hackerspace belonging to Prime_Eight as well as their leader Lenni. It's taken from them by DedSec as retaliation for attacking their servers with ransomware in a failed blackmail bid.

    Visual Novels 
  • Dennis from Double Homework has one of these in his apartment, the geek that he is.

  • In Giant Days, the house in which Esther and Ed both take rooms in their final year at university is largely occupied by computer geeks, and so has something of this trope about it.
    Daisy: I thought they would be expensive, but it turns out that in this house, broken laptops are as freely occurring as aluminium in the Earth's crust.
    McGraw: I believe that's only the third most abundant element.
    Daisy: Oxygen and silicon are represented by power supplies for no-longer owned peripherals and casually abandoned twisty ties!

    Western Animation 
  • Code Lyoko: One of the few Hacker Caves that is actually underground, apparently.
    • And hollowed out from an abandoned auto assembly plant.
  • Mr. Crocker of The Fairly Oddparents has "the Crocker Cave", which started out as just a phone booth inside the janitor's closet, but eventually was retconned into a Hacker Cave / Mad Scientist Laboratory combination.
  • Lampshaded slightly in Invader Zim in the episode "Zim eats waffles". Dib is shown in his own hacker cave trying to record Zim's evil plans. Only to have his various hard drives miss the crucial moments of video.
  • Wade's room in Kim Possible, which is usually only seen from the POV of his webcam.
  • Gimpy's dorm room from Undergrads.

    Real Life 
  • A rather extreme real-life example is which eleven computers are used to play 36 World of Warcraft accounts at the same time, by a single person (source).
  • This Facepunch thread. That said, unlike fictional Hacker Caves, most of that seems to be clutter rather than serving any functional role.
  • Wiki Leaks' data centre.
  • Server rooms can get to look like this in real life; they tend to be located in the basement or some other room without much natural light, and usually double as storage for spare workstations and replacement parts and assorted mysterious bits and pieces whose purpose nobody quite recalls but nobody ever quite gets around to getting rid of. Sysadmins exiled down there because they're considered unworthy of a proper office in more congenial surroundings sometimes brighten the place up a bit with posters and memorabilia, further enhancing the resemblance to this trope.
  • Chances are, if you are more thoroughly involved in computers or electronics (gaming, IT, pc building, etc.), your workspace could morph into this over time.
  • Some graphic designers/artists utilize this kind of setup too, as this photo shows us.
  • The Los Altos garage where Apple was founded has been named a historic site.