Follow TV Tropes


Holodeck Malfunction

Go To
"Real holographic simulated evil Lincoln is back!"

Kif: This is the holo-shed. It can simulate anything you desire, and nothing can hurt you. Except when it malfunctions and the holograms become real.
Amy: Well, that probably won't happen this time.

Some manner of simulator (whether Hard Light Holograms, a Cyberspace Virtual Reality program, or even just robot mannequins) suffers a Phlebotinum Breakdown. Naturally, said breakdown targets the safety features of the simulator first (rather than, say, shutting the whole thing down) and everything Goes Horribly Wrong, turning the sim, originally intended for training or pleasure, deadly.

A less complicated variant may simply change the Difficulty Levels of the training simulation. The hero got inside for an Easier Than Easy training, and suddenly discovers that he's in a Harder Than Hard (and usually deadly) training. This can be either the result of an enemy hack, or some imprudent dude who saw the Big Red Button of hardest level and asked: "What Does This Button Do?"

The heroes inside the sim may be able to fight their way out, or make the sim release them after a certain procedure (completing the game, most commonly). Sometimes however, all they can do is Try Not to Die while their friends on the outside repair the sim. And this is never as simple as turning off the power. Either pulling the plug would kill the occupants or it turns out to be impossible for some reason.

Sometimes involves part of the simulator software becoming self-aware. For the other common way for simulations to become deadly, see Your Mind Makes It Real. Compare Rescued from the Underworld. Compare and contrast Hologram Projection Imperfection. Compare Refugee from TV Land.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun has the cast modeling swimsuits inside a holodeck. Naturally, it malfunctions, and they start getting transported to random "locations," culminating in a 2001 homage on the surface of the moon.
  • My Hero Academia: Team Up Mission: In chapter 3, Melissa and Hatsume simulate so many disasters in the Unforeseen Simulation Joint while testing Midoriya's new costume that it overloads the system and causes all the disasters to go off at once, nearly burying them all under tons of rubble.

    Comic Books 
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: A simulator malfunction is explained as the "unique electrical nature" of Lighting Lad's body causing the simulator to go on the fritz. Safety protocols disabled, manual shutdown disabled...
  • X-Men: The X-Men's Danger Room goes haywire almost as often as Star Trek's holodecks. It's usually because some enemy has intentionally tampered with it rather than a random malfunction or user error. However, Astonishing X-Men makes this into a major plot point: it's revealed that the Danger Room itself became sentient long ago and reached out to Professor X for help... only for him to ignore the growing intelligence and force it to continue to run simulations against its will, reasoning that the X-Men's ability to train for emergencies was more important. This naturally makes the Danger Room furious and bitter, and over time, it gradually gains more power until it assembles a body for itself and takes on a cybernetic female body and identity: "Danger". When the truth gets out, the X-Men promptly label Professor X a massive hypocrite for condemning Danger to slavery for "the greater good," pointing out that this kind of Fantastic Racism against another sentient being is just like Magneto's beliefs. Danger would go on to pull a Heel–Face Turn and become a hero (or at least an Anti-Hero) who fights alongside the X-Men.

    Comic Strips 
  • Knights of the Dinner Table: Weird Pete's "Virtual Dungeon" turns into this, when a malfunction of the VR headsets results in the players attacking each other and one player jumping out of the window in an attempt to get away from giant spiders.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Virtual Smurfality", the Imaginarium upon its trial run overloads when the Smurfs go off into their own fantasy worlds, trapping them inside the worlds until Empath and several other Smurfs use the mindlink ability to get them all out before the crystals shatter.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, Kayaba admits that the entire death game aspect was the result of a programming error brought about by too much crunch time.
  • Two Sides of a Coin: Defied and Played for Laughs. Eleya allows some off-duty USS Destiny crew to come over to USS Bajor to take advantage of its more luxurious facilities, only for Gaarra to be paged back to the ship within the hour because somebody messed with a program and tripped the holodeck safeties.
    Gaarra: They're messing with the settings already?

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In OtherLife, Ren twice gets stuck inside the nanotech-induced scenarios, once in a loop that gradually breaks down, and once where her year-long prison sentence doesn't end naturally, and she eventually realizes that her "escape" to reality was itself part of the dream, and forces herself to awake.
  • Used briefly in Overdrawn at the Memory Bank. Aram Fingal gets "doppled" into a baboon in an Africa simulation; everything goes south when he gets attacked by an elephant. The technicians are able to pull him out of the simulator quickly enough, but can't find his body to plug his mind back into.
  • Invoked in Star Trek: First Contact. Captain Picard lures two Borg drones hunting himself and Lily Sloan into the Dixon Hill holosuite program, which is set in 1940s San Francisco, and turns the holodeck safeties off on purpose. This causes the bullets from a holographic Thompson submachine gun to hit the two drones with the force of real bullets, killing them both (and setting off a massive debate in the fandom over whether this indicates Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better for fighting Borg).
  • Westworld features the killer robot variant of this plot, as does its sequel Futureworld.

  • A virtual reality adventure gone out of control provides the basis of the plot of Dennis L. McKiernan's novel Caverns Of Socrates.
  • The Nightmare Machine from Galaxy of Fear. It's actually intended to take visitors through their worst fears, one by one. The Arrandas try it out, don't like it, leave, and go about their day, but later find they're actually still inside and can't just cut the simulation. Actually, it is a psychic monster and they were intentionally trapped by order of the Big Bad.
  • Vivian Vande Velde's Heir Apparent and User Unfriendly both deal with virtual reality games gone wrong; both games, ironically, were made by Rasmussem Enterprises. In Heir Apparent, people protesting the violence in Rasmussem's fantasy games (and fantasy in general) damage the computer equipment to which the protagonist is connected, forcing her to either win the game or die. In User Unfriendly, the protagonists have gotten a hold of an illegal copy of another of Rasmussem's games rather than pay for time and are playing it at their home. That doesn't go as planned either, and again, the only way out is to win. By "win," here, we mean solve the puzzles/defeat the game. You can die as many times as you like in Heir Apparent without dying in real life. The conflict is that she has a limited time before the game shuts down her brain, and she has to keep redoing everything she already did.
  • In Piers Anthony's Killobyte, the titular VR game is full-body immersion. A hacker calling himself Phreak makes a virus that keeps people from exiting normally, forcing them to wait until someone can manually pull them out, crashing their character and making them start over. While normally a harmless prank (he enjoys taunting his victims and messing up their games while they're locked in), this turns into a life-threatening situation when he traps a diabetic and a man with a pacemaker that could be shocked into malfunctioning by the game's death-penalty.
  • The "Better Than Life" simulation in Red Dwarf inverts this by working exactly as designed — it really is 'better than life'. Trouble is, once you're in, you aren't aware it's a game and even if you are, it's so good you don't want to leave. End result: you starve to death. The Dwarfers exit only by Rimmer being such a twisted and bitter human being that his neurosis first turns his own fantasy, then the others', into hell. The game actively hides itself from your mind — it wipes all memory of entering the game, and then constructs reasons plausible to the player for why they're able to get what they're getting. Becomes obvious when it turns out Cat's lavish fantasies are granted purely on the belief that he deserved them.
  • In Revelation Space, deliberate sabotage turns a training sim into a deadly trap.
  • In The Star Kings, the League's secret weapon used similar principle. During a battle Cloudmen would tap "telestereo" beams and insert recordings of shooting weapons. The energy output would be enough to destroy everything on the bridge within sight of a receiver, putting the ship out of battle or making it a sitting duck. Looks like telestereo receivers were built unreasonably powerful. Fortunately, all ships already had countermeasures — portable dampers that can suppress the shots leaving the receiver pad — and started using them when the hero figured out how the weapon worked. Probably the League was not the first to invent those.
  • Star Trek: New Frontier: Elizabeth Shelby's first week as a captain doesn't get off to a flying start when her CMO calls her down to the holodeck to see her deputy security chief has gone and gotten her head smushed in playing a super-hero program... because she deliberately turned the safeties off.
  • The entire premise of Sword Art Online's Aincrad arc — though, as the game's creator notes in the first episode, the game's deathtrap nature is not a bug, but a feature.
  • In the short story "Tales of the Sky, Tales of the Land" from Ares magazine issue Special Edition #2, the colony Generation Ship Argo suffers a problem during the 327th year of its voyage between the stars. A meteor impact disables the computer controlling the planet simulation deck (where colonists learn how to live on a planet), and a worm causes the backup computer to malfunction. As a result, the simulation becomes extremely dangerous and several people training on the deck are killed.
  • "The Veldt" features an educational holodeck program about the animals of the African plains. When the kids begin bypassing the safety protocols, their parents get worried about how real the simulation seems and try to shut the simulator down. When they try to retrieve the kids, the kids send the lions to eat their parents, so they can stay with the animals forever.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" has this as a major element of the plot. 100 years before, when the Vashta Nerada hatched from spores and began terrorizing the Library, its central computer CAL tried to teleport everyone out at once, but there was nowhere to send them, so she "saved" them inside herself. However, the thousands of people took up too much memory and made her forget about her status as a computer, so when she starts to remember, things start going haywire, both in the Library and her virtual reality.
  • The Orville, as a Spiritual Successor to Star Trek, naturally features a holodeck malfunction episode. However, it also deconstructs the concept by showing how utterly horrifying such a situation can be; the holodeck creates a bunch of disturbing monsters and events in a Cosmic Horror Story scenario to test Alara's ability to overcome fear after she suddenly froze during an emergency which resulted in the death of a crew member; what ensues plays out more like a horror movie than the wacky misadventures holodecks lead to on Trek. Furthering the deconstruction, it later turns out there wasn't a malfunction. Alara was doubting herself, so she forced Isaac to create a horror scenario, gave herself a temporary memory wipe so she wouldn't know what was going on and invoked Directive 38, which states that the head of security can override the captain's commands in an emergency, preventing anyone from aborting the simulation before she completes it. The rest of the crew is not amused by any of this and Ed tells Alara straight up that the only reason she's not getting a court martial for causing this is because nobody got hurt and he was impressed by the way she handled all the obstacles.
  • In Power Rangers in Space, lightning somehow results in simulated monsters breaking free, going to Earth, and impersonating townspeople to lie in wait for the Rangers.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • The simulation program in "Gunmen of the Apocalypse". Interestingly, the simulation is actually how Kryten's mind is interpreting his battle with the Armageddon Virus, with the others rigging the AR equipment to allow them to enter his mind to help buy Kryten time to construct the "dove program". It becomes a full holodeck malfunction when the Virus deliberately spreads to the equipment to both disable the intended exit method and remove the special skills from the AR program.
    • A subversion involves one of the game characters coming to life and Rimmer ends up shooting him with a bazookoid, helping to gain the confidence to become Ace Rimmer. Turned out, Lister had dressed up to play the part and loaded the gun with blanks.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Avatar", Teal'c gets trapped in a training simulation of the SGC getting invaded by Goa'uld. Problem is, despite all the successes they had, Teal'c still believes on a subconscious level that the Goa'uld cannot be beaten. Therefore, the game won't let him win because it's programmed to learn from the user, even by spawning nigh-invulnerable enemies and even if the electric shocks caused by dying in the simulation puts the user in cardiac arrest. Oh, and the failsafe-exit he could use to abort the simulation at any time? If this were a real fight, Teal'c wouldn't quit for any reason, so the program disabled it.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation is the trope namer. Five deadly words: The safeties are now off.
      • The most common "simple" breakdown is to lock the senior officers inside and turn off the safety protocols. More extravagant scenarios can occur, such as in "Elementary, Dear Data", when poorly worded instructionsnote  result in a fully sentient simulation of Professor Moriarty gaining complete control of the Enterprises's computer. The tendency for the holodeck to malfunction like this has become rather infamous.
      • "The Big Goodbye" is the first episode featuring a holodeck malfunction, trapping Picard, Data, Crusher, and a Red Shirt inside the "Dixon Hill" program with absent safety protocols.
      • In "11001001", a group of hyper-communicative aliens take over the Enterprise while Captain Picard and Commander Riker are locked in the holodeck, accompanied by a very alluring (and remarkably advanced) barfly program.
    • Between Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager this basic plot tended to happen at least Once a Season. That's a lot of episodes. Some explored issues regarding the tech that didn't require it to technically malfunction, usually someone becoming addicted to the fake reality it created.
      • At least three times, their holographic technology has accidentally created fully actualized sentient beings. In each instance, there is a deliberate action taken that simply has an unintended consequence. This is really rather ironic when one considers how much significance is attached to Data (and his sibling Lore) being fully-sentient androids, a technology which apparently only their creator fully understood and which the Federation cannot duplicate (at one point they wanted to disassemble Data to try to figure it out), yet it would seem that starship computers can generate fully-sentient holograms with just a poorly worded command from a user.
      • One time, they leave a program running too long, and eventually the perceptual filters (which apparently keep the holograms from noticing anything that doesn't fit the parameters of their program) futz out and they become aware that something weird is going on. The crew fixes that up by letting the holograms believe that they're real, but the crew are time-travelers.
      • Lampshaded when Worf joins the crew of DS9, and reminisces about his time on the Enterprise with an old shipmate:
        Worf: We were like warriors from the ancient sagas. There was nothing we could not do.
        O'Brien: Except keep the holodecks working right.
    • In an unusual nod to capitalism, notably averted with Quark's privately owned holosuites in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Having an unreliable holodeck drives away paying customers, so not only do they rarely endanger anyone, but Quark is able to use them to save the crew's lives at least once.
      • There is that one time ("Our Man Bashir") when everyone's "genetic patterns" are transferred into Bashir's James Bond Expy Holonovel for safekeeping while the transporter is repaired, and the safeties are turned off. Bashir at one point shoots Garak to stop him from leaving the holosuite and potentially dooming the crewmembers who are still caught mid-transport. In this case, the holodeck "malfunction" (or rather, deliberate reprogramming for emergency data storage after a transporter malfunction) actually saves their lives, as without a body to return to, all the crewmembers in question would have simply ceased to be.
      • Downplayed in "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang". The holographic Vic Fontaine is threatened by mobsters, and if the crew doesn't save him, he'll be permanently deleted. Deleting the bad guys or reprogramming the holodeck simply won't work (this would involve resetting the program, which would wipe all of Vic's memories of them and effectively reset him, Vic views this scenario as "death" for him): they have to solve the problem in-game and in-character. What's notable is that it's not a malfunction: it was programmed into the story by Vic's creator as an "expansion pack" of sorts. The crew is never in any danger at all, only the holographic Vic is ever in any danger. This is likely the only time in Star Trek that a crisis is caused by the holodeck operating exactly as intended. (Except perhaps for "Our Man Bashir" above.)
      • Vic Fontaine himself is a deconstruction of the trope. He's aware of his status as a hologram and is both aware of the 1950s Vegas simulation he lives in, and that it's just a simulation and there's a real 24th century outside. It's not entirely sure if he's sentient or just really good at responding to people. Vic even has control over his holosuite, being able to refuse to turn on when Nog abuses the holodeck to escape reality in "It's Only a Paper Moon". But unlike, say, Voyager's Doctor, Vic has no real desire to leave the hologram or for freedom. He is however very happy when Quark decides to leave the simulation permanently running as a thank you for helping Nog. Vic is never seen as a threat or as odd, and indeed much of the plot of "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang" entirely revolves around the crew's attachment to Vic as a character "within" the simulation.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • Played with in one rather trippy episode which starts off with the Doctor embroiled in an apparently "mundane" crisis, only for increasingly weird things to happen. Eventually, he's told that the whole thing is a Holodeck Malfunction. It is, but not the one he's being told it is.
      • In "Worst Case Scenario", a program is deliberately turned into a Death Trap by an actual villain with previously established engineering skill.
      • In "Bride of Chaotica!", the problem is actually the result of the holodeck operating exactly as it should when interdimensional explorers stumble into one of Tom Paris' "Captain Proton" stories. Doctor Chaotica reacts to the newcomers just like a campy, over-the-top expy of Ming the Merciless should: trying to conquer their civilization with his army of robots and giant Death Ray. Being photon-based lifeforms themselves, the aliens don't realize that Chaotica is a fictional character, and it's the ensuing war that puts Voyager in danger, not the holodeck itself. Although, as usual, simply turning off the holodeck or altering the program to provide a more convenient resolution scenario are not available options, though at least the safeties do still work.
  • In Warehouse 13, a prototype game console enhanced by an Artifact traps the users inside and starts to use their own fears against them. One of these fears grows strong enough to steal the controllers from the players, effectively trapping them inside.
  • The X-Files: The episode "First-Person Shooter" features a video game designer's fantasy wish-fulfillment character gaining sentience and infiltrating another designer's prototype virtual reality First-Person Shooter game to kill players (who, of course, die in real life). A famous gamer is brought in (but fares no better) and ultimately Mulder and Scully end up going in to take down the marauding avatar. Rather than, you know, just scrapping the killer video game or loading a backup copy of the game onto a different mainframe or something.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Rocket Age adventure The Lost City of the Ancients, the heroes have to deal with the security systems of a holographic TV station. Unfortunately, the facility's AI has mixed the military simulations with old adventure film scenarios, leading to utter insanity.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: The tutorial segment starts off in a virtual simulator constructed by Dr. Doyle's program. Initially, it had a slow start-up before it loaded up, after the fight against the Training Boss, the system malfunctions and causes a complete system backfire that knocks Ann out before she gets pulled out of it.
  • CrossCode takes place in a Game Within a Game accessed via a neural interface to connect players to an "avatar" within the game space for true immersion. A certain area seems to hold many players who have somehow become "trapped", not only unable to exit that particular area but not even able to log out of the game by any means. This turns out to be a subversion, though; these "players" are actually AI copies of real players who are unaware of their true nature. They cannot leave the game because they do not even exist outside of it.
  • The premise of the Doom WAD Cleimos is that monsters in a virtual reality combat sim come to life and take over a military base, and it's up to the player to wipe them out.
  • While the simulator in Fate/Grand Order is normally pretty good (it's how you perform your daily quests, after all), it sometimes malfunctions in Interludes or Trial Quests to serve the plot. It's about half and half whether the problem is user error or Wrong Context Magic interfering.
  • The whole backstory of Kid Chameleon. The game has a relatively subtle reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation, in that when the simulation ends, the simulation room looks exactly like the TNG holodeck.
  • The premise of the 1987 interactive fiction Knight Orc is that the protagonist thinks that he is a normal Orc in a generic fantasy setting, but a hardware malfunction causes him to realize that he's actually a low-level NPC monster in a simulated reality MMORPG. He bands up with several other bots to escape the simulation, while avoiding the staff and the player characters who are hunting him for XP and treasure.
  • One quest in the Citadel DLC of Mass Effect 3 ends with a glitched fight in the Armax Arsenal Arena that throws waves of the toughest mooks in the game at you. Unlike other Arena battles, falling in this fight will result in a Critical Mission Failure. Unusually, Shepard is actually trying to cause a malfunction, as the maintenance crew has asked them to tax the simulator as much as possible in order to pinpoint an elusive glitch and this plan works better than they thought it would.
  • Optic Sunflower's stage in Mega Man X8. The stage is a Maverick Hunter training base that makes heavy use of VR; to progress safely, you have to pass the "tests" with flying colors.
  • In Space Station 13, this can happen to the station's holodeck by releasing the safeties on the console, usually by a rogue AI or a traitor's cryptographic sequencer. With the safeties released, the holodeck can generate anything from swarms of killer bees or a powerful plasma fire.
  • Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth's first stage is a training exercise that gets hijacked by the Big Bad near the end.
  • Thousand Dollar Soul has Future Todd's earpiece, which created the entire game's world and populated it with AI copies of his past self and his love interest Angela. If either of them get their hands on the earpiece, their mind will completely (or partially, in one case) replace Future Todd's mind in his physical body.
  • This is the plot of X-Men (1993). Magneto infects the Danger Room computer with a virus to turn its simulations deadly; every level except for the last one involves beating these simulations.

    Web Comics 
  • Bob and George has Proto Man lampshade this during X's introduction. The second time the holodeck is used, it breaks while Proto Man is attempting a convoluted plot to get X's buster and holodecks even gets referenced by another character at one point. It's even implied that it never got fixed to begin with.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: "The Medium Beginning" parodies this: Dr Disaster sees several students and a teacher disappear from his simulator, and immediately assumes that the sim has trapped them. (Unknown to him, they have merely teleported to another building.)
  • Lampshaded in Intragalactic. When the cast gets their spacecraft repaired, the mechanic points out their holodeck is an unsafe model, prone to malfunctioning, to which captain Benjamin replies that it's the whole point of it. Holodecks just aren't fun unless they periodically lock people inside and turn off safety protocols.
  • Metroid: Third Derivative: To repair Samus's Varia Suit, JD has to upload Samus's consciousness to his computer. JD has Samus take the Space Pirate training program to help pass the time. Unfortunately, JD uploads Samus's mind on Mother Brain's Tourian network. Mother Brain wastes no time in attacking Samus.
  • Doctor Forrester's CFVDEWTOD from The Way of the Metagamer is specifically designed to fail and trap the user within a lethal "simulation", so that he can use it to take over the world.

    Web Originals 
  • In one story in the Whateley Universe, two hackers go after Team Kimba by trapping them in a sim without their armour or weapons, facing a group of pissed-off simulated attackers. The Kimbas manage to use their smarts to get out, but it's a Pyrrhic Victory.

    Western Animation 
  • In Animaniacs (2020), Brain creates a computer simulation of his ex-wife Julia, where he imagines the two of them living in marital bliss. This all falls apart when Pinky stumbles into the simulation... and by the end of it all the simulation attempts to murder Brain.
  • Futurama: The episode "Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch" parodies Star Trek with the Nimbus's Holo-Shed, which malfunctions and causes history's greatest villains to come back to life: Attila the Hun, Professor Moriarty, Jack the Ripper, and Evil Lincoln. Judging by the other characters' reactions, this sort of thing is distressingly common. Made all the funnier by Zapp Brannigan's line: "Damn! Last time that happened I got slapped with three paternity suits!" Once the problem is quelled, he claims he needs to de-stress... in the Holo-Shed.
  • Happens in an episode of Men in Black: The Series with a virtual reality training program. Although the program didn't really malfunction, Agent Jay used it before it was ready because he was upset for his qualifications not knowing that the program was more realistic than expected and could be mortal.
  • ReBoot has a variant with one of its Game Cubesnote . When Megabyte extracts Mainframe's core energy from the Principal Office, a Game Cube that lands on it gets corrupted, blending aspects of the game reality and the Principal Office. If the User wins the Principal Office gets destroyed and Mainframe crashes, but if anyone else wins the core energy leaves with the game and Mainframe crashes. Bob has to keep the game running until he can get the core energy back inside the Principal Office to stabilize the game and let it leave safely.
  • Speed Racer: The Next Generation: In the three-parter "The Fast Track", the energy amplifier used to allow Speed and Annalise to escape the sabotaged virtual track also allows some of the virtual constructs to exit the track into the real world. They are: a giant version of Conor, the X3 Melange, and the Mammoth Car.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Animated Series gives the original NCC-1701 Enterprise's rec room a hologram feature, a full decade and then some before TNG's (in)famous holodeck. You get no points for guessing what happens. "Once Upon a Planet" features the crew returning to the amusement park planet of "Shore Leave" to find that it is now actually hostile.
    • Star Trek: Lower Decks couldn't go without its own shot at this trope. In "Terminal Provocations", Ensign Rutherford shows off his holographic training program to Ensign Tendi, which features an anthropomorphic commbadge named Badgey that loads the various training scenarios. When Badgey freezes up at one point, Rutherford gives him a kick to the gut to get him working again. By coincidence, damage to the ship causes the holodeck safeties to malfunction, and Badgey immediately uses his newfound freedom in an attempt to kill Rutherford. Rutherford is ultimately forced to fight Badgey to the death. When the holodeck is reset and the safeties restored, Badgey is rendered docile once more, but still waiting for an opportunity to exact his revenge.
    • Star Trek: Prodigy subverts this in "Ghost in the Machine". The episode is initially presented as one caused by subspace disruptions, but the ending reveals that, after the crew decided that they no longer want to get to Starfleet, the Living Construct on the Protostar took control of the Janeway Hologram and had her order the holodeck to keep the crew trapped.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Rose Quartz's room in the Gem Temple can create things and simulations of people using clouds. In the first two episodes it appeared, a poorly worded or accidental request caused problems. Also, asking it to do a lot (such as simulating an entire town) can overload it and cause glitches. In its first episode, "Rose's Room", it inverts the classic form of this trope: something from the simulator doesn't become real, but the simulator instead attempts to replicate the entire town surrounding it in itself such that it's almost inescapable.
    • In "Open Book", Steven takes his friend Connie into the room to help her play out an alternate ending to her favorite fantasy novel series, and the room takes a request directed at her as a command, and creates a duplicate of her in order to fulfill it. Steven doesn't notice the switch, but does notice Connie is being unusually servile and passive. He promptly hits the room with a Logic Bomb by telling her "I don't want you to just do what I want." Initially, the room plays this trope straight, as the fake Connie stops obeying his orders and starts attacking him. In an unusually benign spin on the trope, it only did so to force him into a conversation with the real Connie that he wanted to have, but was too afraid to ever ask for.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) arc "Secret Origins", the turtles and Splinter are taken to the Utroms' Oracle Pod Chamber, which allows them to experience the aliens' collective memory in a virtual reality environment. Unfortunately, after some sabotage by Baxter Stockman, the environment becomes deadly, and the turtles are forced to look for the failsafe embedded inside the simulation before their minds can return to their bodies.
  • The Transformers: Rescue Bots episode "A Virtual Disaster" deals with Blades and Cody Burns playing a virtual reality game but becoming trapped in the holodeck-like VR chambers when an electrical storm messes with the system. Simulated fire becomes "real", and they must Win to Exit. The writers further included additional gaming references, such as the line "A Winner Is You" and "All Your Base Are Belong to Us". Blades also takes an arrow to the knee.
  • The Venture Bros.: In the episode "Eeny, Meeny, Miney... Magic!", Brock gets trapped in Dr. Venture's latest invention, the "joy can". At least, you would hope Rusty didn't intend for it to trap its occupants inside itself.
  • Happens twice in Winx Club, once in the first season and once in the second. The Trix had sabotaged the simulator both times.
  • Young Justice (2010) has the episode "Failsafe", in which Miss Martian, unable to process that she is in a Unwinnable Training Simulation after watching Artemis "die" in front of her, loses control of her powers and rewrites the entire team's memories so they believe the simulation is real — including their own deaths, causing them to slip into comas in reality. Although strictly speaking, this wasn't a holodeck malfunction; the only problem was the person using it.


Video Example(s):


Voyager's Holodeck History

The macroviruses end up causing the computer to manifest the greatest hits of Voyager's holodeck history, and for added fun makes the holodeck safeties "random". Worse, the entire ship has been outfitted with holoemitters as part of its museum conversion, so the characters have free rein.

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / HolodeckMalfunction

Media sources: