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Hyperspace Is a Scary Place

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"Between the stars the ancient unseen enemies of mankind wait and hunger. Every voyage into the nothing is a confrontation with horror, with the implacable things of the warp, and with man's own innermost fear."
Codex Imperialis, Warhammer 40,000
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There are very few things about space that are not freaky. Contemporary space shuttles ride pillars of fire and launching one involves spraying 1100 cubic meters of water on the pad as a muffler to keep the craft from being damaged by the noise. Works such as Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Larry Niven's short stories have pointed out that (barring teleportation) convenient real-space travel between planets has energy requirements on the same order as making significant holes in them. And let's not even get started on the whole 'infinite void of nothingness between the stars' aspect. Anything with the power to thrust people across light-years rightly should scare their astropants off.

Hyperspace, being Another Dimension or close, sets aside the natural laws that our universe and biologies need. It's sure to be mind-bendingly different and hostile to conventional life — even more so than the void of space itself. Clearly marked paths may be slightly safer, or ships may generate a safe field around themselves while travelling. If it fails, the ship is at best returned to normal space, or at worst the passengers are exposed to incomprehensibly fatal horrors. Authors will often take the time to point out that hyperspace or subspace is hazardous and fraught with peril, for both the characters and the ships that have to make passage through it.

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But long dissertations on it sometimes just don't make this clear. So, to really make a point about how dangerous and scary hyperspace is, they throw some really weird, scary stuff into their vision of it.

It might cause those who look upon it directly to Go Mad from the Revelation (so keep those view ports shuttered tight), and/or infested by Eldritch Abominations that would have even H. P. Lovecraft reaching for the absinthe. If Space Is an Ocean, Hyperspace is that part of the map marked Here There Be Dragons.

See also Void Between the Worlds, Eldritch Location, Alien Geometries, Acid-Trip Dimension, Ludicrous Speed and Time Is Dangerous.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Crest of the Stars has a peculiar form of hyperspace which is completely two-dimensional, except for a bubble the ships and missiles generate to travel in. Losing power and having that bubble vanish results in a particularly horrible death; people aren't compatible with two-dimensional topography.
  • In GunBuster, this trope is used as a joke to scare the younger space cadets by telling them that ghosts appear on ships during hyperspace travel.
  • Space Battleship Yamato:
    • The Yamato's first "space warp" jump is portrayed as a psychedelic experience, with afterimages, Yuki's (Nova's) clothes jumping about a meter to the right, and visions of the Yamato passing over prehistoric Earth, among other things.
    • Space Battleship Yamato 2199 revisits this trope. This time around, while the Yamato's first warp jump is still a trippy experience, the trippiness is more subdued. The really scary stuff comes from traveling through a subspace gate, the inside of which looks like traveling through a very rough storm.
  • Parodied in Tenchi Muyo! GXP, when Wrong Genre Savvy protagonist Seina feels cheated when his first jump into hyperspace features no light show of any kind; he specifically mentions some of the weirdness from Yamato when he describes what he expected.
  • In The World of Narue, hyperspace used to be much scarier but has been somewhat "tamed" in recent centuries. Strange alien creatures known as Serpents live in the hyperspace network, and their mere presence can destroy a ship mid-transit. The Serpents are completely inscrutable, and nobody has ever been able to determine why they let some ships through and destroy others. It wasn't until the Avalonians (and later the United Stars) figured out how to fight the Serpents that hyperspace became safe and reliable.
  • Not strictly hyperspace but the idea of dangerous extradimensional travel is in Martian Successor Nadesico. No ship can safely pass through a Chulip Gate unless at least one member of the crew has a specific kind of nanite in them: the kind that allows this person to perform Boson Jumps, the technology behind the Chulip. The Jovians found Lost Technology that allowed them to infuse these nanites into volunteers, allowing them to use the technology. Which makes everyone scratch their heads when the titular ship, an Earth design, not only jumps through a Chulip Gate but jumps eight months forward in time. Then it's discovered that the same kind of technology is on Mars, only this one is mixed up with the nanite technology being used to terraform the planet. End result? Anyone born on Mars has a superior ability to the Jovians: able to traverse time as well as space(on two occasions, a jumper ended up arriving at their destination before they left). Then it makes sense since the Nadesico had at least three Mars-borns at the time.
  • In Super Dimension Fortress Macross/the first arc of Robotech, there is "space fold" technology. The invading Zentraedi armies have little trouble using it, but when humanity first attempted to use it to get the SDF-1 out of harm's way, it didn't quite go to plan: the energy field that enveloped the SDF-1 during the fold also cut out an island underneath the ship and took it into space with it, the SDF-1 wound up in orbit around Pluto instead of the moon, and the space fold device didn't return to normal space with the SDF-1, forcing the ship to take the long route back to Earth.

    Card Games 
  • In the cosmology of Magic: The Gathering, the space between planes (sometimes called the Blind Eternities) will instantly kill anyone other than a Planeswalker or someone without serious magical protection (either fundamentally transforming the nature of the traveler, or bringing along a pocket or tunnel of normal space to ride in or pass through). The constantly-shifting currents of metaphysical energy look pretty bizarre, but at least they don't drive people insane... of course, that could only be because even Planeswalkers will be killed by it before they have a chance to go nuts. The Zendikar block introduced the Eldrazi, otherworldly horrors that originated from and live in the Blind Eternities. As denizens of the Blind Eternities, the Eldrazi are suitably maddening to mortals.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • This Multiverse, between the Fourth World, the Anti-Monitor, and Mr. Mind, is a scary enough place as-is (assuming it even exists). But then it was officially stated that the WildStorm universe was set there too, which brought in "The Bleed", the red gap between worlds (named for the space outside the panels of a comic book, of course).
    • The Phantom Zone, also known as the Still Zone or the Ghost Zone. It's complete whiteness in which you can get lost forever. Zauriel, an angel, even called it "limbo" once.
    • The entire DC Multiverse is basically contained by an enormous wall at the end of everything called the Source Wall. As seen in one panel, the Source Wall is an enormous screaming mass of writhing flesh, possibly composed of everyone who's ever tried and failed to discover the secrets hidden on its other side. Exactly what it looked like at the start is a good question, then.
    • And just for fun, Lucifer, who may or may not be in the DCU, once opened a gate into the Void, stated as being beyond the Multiverse. It was completely white, which doesn't sound that worrying until one considers that it goes on forever and literally the only landmark is the gate, which is going to get harder and harder to see... Note: the Void and the Source are definitely not the same thing. Lucifer also once got to the Source... and ignored it as completely irrelevant.
  • X-Men: The times we've seen the dimension Nightcrawler passes through, it resembles hell. This plot was also used in the comics with Illyana Rasputin's "stepping-discs", which moved the users through the demon-filled Limbo.
  • Marvel Universe has the Negative Zone, inhabited and usually ruled by Annihilus, as well as recently introduced dimensions such as the Neutral Zone, the last point before the edge of all existence. Home to eldritch abominations and predatory concepts, and completely hostile to any living thing that enters. The Ultimates (2015), present to get a good look at the outside of the multiverse, need to super-boost their quinjet just to survive a few minutes out there.
    • And beyond that is the nothingness, a completely dark space which is even more hostile. The quintjet breaks apart in a matter of seconds, and according to Galactus - dispatched to bail them out by Eternity - even he couldn't survive there very long.
  • Transformers
    • In the Marvel Transformers comics, there's also at least one instance of monsters living in the void between dimensions used as transport medium. When they got their hands on Ramjet, they tortured, unmade, and remade him until they got bored and tossed him back. The result: a not-all-there Ramjet who is simultaneously Cursed with Awesome and Blessed with Suck: Being "tormented" at the hands of these creatures resulted in his becoming Unicron-class powerful, and keeping a connection to the void that gives him all kinds of Reality Warper tricks (above and beyond what he had during his time as an agent of Unicron). Thanks, evil extradimensional god dudes! On the other hand, he isn't quite sane, and it's all he can do to hold his own atoms together. His presence is poisonous to reality around him. Not much fun.
      • In the IDW Comics "Infestation 2" crossover arc, they get loose and are every bit as horrible as they sound. And are apparently the inspiration for the Cthulhu Mythos. It doesn't seem especially clear that the creatures from this IDW megacrossover are the same as the ones from the much earlier Transformers Cybertron based story, but TF Wiki seems to be sure about it.
    • Later, by the Beast Era, they use the much safer Transwarp technology. Which has a chance of dropping you off anywhere, anywhen if you go off course. Fan convention comics reveal that "anywhere" used to include parallel universes and, presumably, void, until a group from one dimension was nice enough to build a safety net. They keep everyone they catch imprisoned in a single large city, able to move freely about it but not leave.
    • The IDW G1 continuity is largely an aversion; quantum jumping is surprisingly safe even though a certified scientist goes on the record about how it completely flaunts the known laws of physics. Just don't stand too close to the engines during a jump.
      • Quantum jumping later turns out to have another big danger; if a malfunction occurs and your ship's computer tells the quantum engines to take the ship to two places at once they solve the error by creating a second ship, literally duplicating the ship in every single way as it was when the jump was made. This is not inherently dangerous unless the two ships approach each other. If that happens, it creates a spatial paradox and one ship will start to overwrite the other.
      • Also, it's a good idea not to let the quantum engines get damaged. If they're hit bad enough, they start forming quantum foam. That's a good thing only if you enjoy being obliterated by a quantum force strong enough to destroy a planet.
  • When facing off against a shadow-wielding enemy, Invincible and his foe get dragged into the shadow dimension. He is warned that there are unseen, horrifying things lurking in there and they make their escape as soon as possible. (These things are likely why the enemy, formerly the sidekick of one of Invincible's father's friends, went insane.)
  • Fleetway's Sonic the Comic treats the Special Zone in a similar manner as the literature example below. It's a weird place where physics don't really apply, and a planet and an asteroid belt and some swirly things can comfortably be the same place. The characters originally considered it to be some kind of insane 'other place' you really didn't want to spend too long in, and are shocked to later discover it's inhabited. Of course, the locals aren't exactly normal, either.
  • The 1976 short comic "Approche Sur Centauri” from the French magazine Metal Hurlant (translated as "Approaching Centauri" when published in the American version of the magazine, Heavy Metal, in July 1977), scripted by Philippe Druillet and illustrated by Mœbius, featured a hyperspace pilot who briefly experienced a hellish dimension when the generator overloaded and he was "thrown outside the T/S continuum". Upon return, he insisted "I saw nothing...nothing..."
  • The Wildstorm: Adrianna Tereskhova was part of an experimental flight, trying to get a ship through The Bleed, the underlying part of all reality. The instant the ship turned on, it was crushed like a tin can, and everyone died. Then something rebuilt Adrianna. Now, she's able to teleport through the Bleed at will, something that gives Cole Cash a screaming case of the do-not-wants. Adrianna, for her part, actually enjoys looking at it.
  • In Knights Of The Dinner Table, a rare type of Bag of Holding opens not into extradimensional space but into "Bag Wurld," an endless desert that connects all bags of holding of that type. It's not much good for storage, but with a very good map and a decent-sized caravan you can use it to travel to and out of any other open bag. Of course, if you don't have a very good map, or someone closes your destination bag, you may be there a long time — entire cities and fortresses have sprung up around adventurers' caches.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Interstella 5555, Hyperspace is a very funky and psychedelic place with big shiny objects that can heavily damage your ship. And, during the protagonists' return trip, it's where the Big Bad attacks them as an Energy Being.
  • In Big Hero 6, Hiro and Baymax enter what can only be described as hyperspace in attempt to rescue a stranded pilot — it's both beautiful and haunting all at once.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Disney's (!) The Black Hole features a scene in which using a black hole to travel at right angles to reality sends the characters into Hell. Literally.
  • In Event Horizon, the experimental hyperdrive on the eponymous ship takes it to a dimension of "pure chaos and evil", according to one of the people who winds up spending a short while there. What's worse, something comes back to our world as the ship itself. It's a recurring joke among some Warhammer 40,000 fans that Event Horizon is a prequel, while other fans point to Weir as an unnamed Cenobite. At any rate, there's certainly a lot of similarity to both.
  • In The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Oscillation Overthruster allows vehicles to pass through solid matter, through a bizarre dimension filled with weird creatures. One of the first scientists to experiment with it ends up with his head phased into a wall, and gets possessed by an 8th-dimensional nasty, turning him into the main villain of the film.
  • In Star Trek, usually the warp drive either works or doesn't work. But in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a malfunctioning drive creates a Worm Hole that, in addition to being difficult to shut down, also sucks dangerous debris into the ship's path instead of deflecting it away.
  • While the infamous boat scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory isn't set in hyperspace, it certainly follows the trope to a T: the boat gradually gets faster and faster (to the guests' dismay), psychedelic flashing colors over disturbing images, strange noises, and Wonka singing like he's losing what little grip he has on reality.
  • In the film Supernova, hyperspace travel is visually terrifying. It's easy to imagine the energies involved destroying the ships and everybody in them. And what hyperspace does to living tissue if your suspension pod is not functioning perfectly is not something you want to think about.
  • In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the "Stargate" sequence after making contact with the Jovian monolith. The montage is interspersed with quick cuts of the astronaut's various horrifying facial contortions, just to drive the point home. When the sequence is done and the astronaut is in the "hotel", his face is covered in wrinkles, and he looks as if he's going insane. In the novel, the latter effect is explained as the result of Dave being kept in a kind of "alien zoo" until he falls asleep, and then they run his memories backwards while transforming him into the Starchild. It's only in the movie that he goes through the process of aging a couple of decades every time the camera pans around to show him looking at an older version of himself in the next room, then becoming that older self when in the next shot. (Yes, it's just as surreal as it sounds). If anyone was being weird in the movie, it was Kubrick.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Tom Hiddleston has implied that this is part of what pushes Loki from The Resenter of Thor to the full-blown Big Bad of The Avengers: his previous Freak Out was exacerbated by things he saw between universes after trying to commit suicide by wormhole at the end of Thor.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 introduces the concept of "jumps", which are essentially wormholes that connect to otherwise distant locations. In moderation, they're fine — doing 50 at a time is about the limit a human body can take, and most locations are never more than a few jumps away — but when you do 700 at once (like Rocket, Yondu, Groot, and Kraglin do), things get really weird.
  • In Lost in Space, hyperspace travel requires a stable conduit or passage to keep ships on-route, it's impossible to determine where you're going to come out. "There's a lot of space to get lost in out there." The reason the Robinson family went to space was to help supervise construction of a route to Alpha Centauri, via Hypergates, which would provide that route. But terrorists sabotage the mission and send their craft hurtling into the sun, forcing the crew to use the hyperdrive to the other side of the galaxy.
  • In WarCraft, the journey from Draenor to Azeroth can only be described as floating helplessly through water-like, black void between two points of light, with nothing but trees falling as they crash into the portal from Azeroth's side, and orcs rising upwards from Draenor. The experience almost kills Draka's unborn child.
  • In Interstellar, both the wormhole and the interior of the black hole are incredibly freaky. Both places cause the spaceship's internal electronics to go haywire, and both render the ship's maneuvering thrusters completely useless due to both places not being physical space. The black hole takes it Up to Eleven with the Tesseract, a three-dimensional construct at the center that manages to represent all instants of time for a given location simultaneously.

    Franchises 
  • Star Wars:
    • In Star Wars: A New Hope, Han Solo invokes this trope by explaining to Luke Skywalker why it's impossible to just blast into hyperspace and avoid Imperial ships: it's too dangerous due to the risk of accidentally hitting something or going off course. See Quotes page. As described in Literature below, however, the dangers are more mundane and along the lines of "Planets and stars are still in the way, and traveling fast enough to cross the galaxy in hours means that you can easily smash into one and vaporize."
    • In the old Legends continuity, Hyperspace is rather less dangerous than some of the other examples, but there are risks. A ship in hyperspace doesn't properly exist in realspace, but can be brought out by gravity wells. In the case of planets and asteroids that means appearing in realspace in time to safely change direction and go into hyperspace again; in the case of stars, black holes, and powered-up Imperial Interdictors it doesn't. That's why it's considered dangerous to stray out of established hyperspace routes, and mapping new ones is hazardous.
      • Going through a gravity well of sufficient size overloads your hyperdrive motivator (what you need to get in and out of hyperspace) and kicks you out of hyperspace; when you over load it, it can explode possibly taking the ship with it, so there's actually a safety feature that kicks you out before you run the risk of exploding. That's how a fleet of ships got most of the way through a system-wide interdiction field around Centerpoint station but still had to conduct repairs. One of the ships ended up damaged beyond repair because it tried to go a bit too long with the safety turned off.
      • It's also noted that getting Thrown Out the Airlock is instantly fatal when in hyperspace, unlike in realspace when it might take a bit. In Han Solo at Star's End, turncoat Torm is blown out an airlock into hyperspace. The victim's body is instantly and utterly destroyed.
      • Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor goes into considerably more detail about this, when Cronal has his ship disintegrate while in hyperspace... meaning there's no longer a hull separating him from it. This results in him being disintegrated on a subatomic level while fully conscious of every second of it. The whole thing is described from the victim's perspective.
      • One novel describes "Hyper-rapture", a form of madness caused by staring at hyperspace for too long; because of this, starships usually have windows that go opaque while in hyperspace. Staring into hyperspace for an extended period of time, if it doesn't give you "hyper-rapture", is said to make most people increasingly uneasy. It doesn't look "right". Death Star quietly underlines Darth Vader's evil/otherness/disconnect from humanity by noting that he likes staring into hyperspace, and doesn't feel the usual relief when his ship comes out into realspace again; similarly, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor has Cronal liking it. This is mentioned when one of the most evil villains in the Expanded Universe is given a Fate Worse than Death: by being locked in an escape pod and ejected into hyperspace. One escape pod has enough food and water to keep him alive for months, non-opaquing windows, and a very small area; he'd either go stir-crazy, get hyper-rapture, or survive those long enough to die from lack of supplies. Not to mention that rescue is literally impossible. Very, very bad indeed. As the person who inflicts this punishment on the villain puts it:
        "I don't know how long you will survive there. I do know that you will die there.
        Die slowly."
      • In the novelization for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, while the ship, The Salvation, is going through hyperspace, the Terror Walker tries to sabotage the ship's navicomp. While Starkiller battles it, he muses in terror that if the navicomp is deactivated mid-jump, the ship could either be blown to atoms or never return to realspace. Eventually, Starkiller defeats the Terror Walker by puncturing the ship's hull, causing the droid to be sucked out into hyperspace. Starkiller takes a moment to pity his foe, horrified by the thought of what it must be experiencing, even if it's a droid.
      • One comic shows that it's actually somehow possible to use hyperspace to go through a planet (though it's described as being more akin to essentially bypassing that section of space) but as the person who does so notes, it's really not recommended outside of extreme emergencies. Presumably has something to do with the fact that gravity wells can yank you out of hyperspace, so the result would be blasting out of hyperspeed within the planet's atmosphere (or worse, inside the planet itself) and blowing yourself to bits.
      • Marvel Star Wars introduced "otherspace", a dimension beyond hyperspace, a weird place with its own inhuman inhabitants; the effect is spoiled when said inhabitants are pretty much just big (read: Wookiee-sized) mean bugs, who later turned out to have come from realspace to begin with.
    • Star Wars Rebels:
      • "Gathering Forces" shows that a vessel without a functional hyperdrive cannot actually remain in hyperspace — when a hyperdrive-less shuttle detaches from its ship, it is shown immediately falling into normal space. The transition is fairly violent, and there's no guarantee you'll come out anywhere near somewhere inhabited, but it's better than the fate awaiting you in the old Legends continuity.
      • In "The Call", the dangers of unprotected hyperspace travel are retconned by the existence of an entire species of Space Whales that can and do regularly travel through hyperspace unprotected.

    Gamebooks 
  • In the Lone Wolf series, the Shadowgates allow travel between other dimensions and other planets. However, actually traveling through a Shadowgate is completely inimical to mortals, ravaging body and soul alike. The two times Lone Wolf travels through a Shadowgate in the Magnakai series rob him of Endurance points. In the Grandmaster series, Lone Wolf can eventually learn how to shield his body from the worst effects of Shadowgate travel.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda's Slipstream network isn't particularly scary, but it's like an ever-shifting maze that requires insane amounts of intuition to take the right path and incredible reflexes to steer in. Which is why computer systems cannot fly in it; they have no intuition, so they always only have a 50:50 chance of picking the right path at each branch (and your average trip through Slipstream involves a lot of these branches, so the odds slip with each turn), while lifeforms have between 70% and 99% success rate.
    An early episode showed what happens when you put a being who can predict probable futures into the pilot's seat. Trance ends up screwing up so bad, that it throws the ship 300 years back in time. Later on, though, she can be seen piloting without problems. Given what is revealed about Trance's nature later on, it's entirely possible she meant for the time jump to happen. Another episode involves a probe sent centuries before in order to prowl slipstream and map it out. Supposedly, a complete map of the network would allow efficient, safe passage to any ship, whether piloted by a living being or not.
    Dylan Hunt: Slipstream - it's not the best way to travel faster than light, it's just the only way.
    • When Andromeda lost her original crew during the first encounter with the Magog, it took her years (if not decades) to get back to Commonwealth space by making blind jumps without an organic pilot.
    • The Consensus of Parts uses Brain in a Jar in order to navigate Slipstream.
    • Series canon states that the very act of choosing a Slipstream path by an organic being makes their choice the correct one (kind of like the "Observer Effect" fallacy sometimes used to link Quantum Mechanics to pseudoscience), explaining why organics are so "good" at it and AIs can't do it.
  • Hyperspace in Babylon 5, while less scary than most hyperspaces in this entry, is still rather nasty. It has random currents that can throw you off course rather quickly if you have a navigational failure, no landmarks to navigate by other than the artificial beacons placed by the various races, and there's even some rumors about things living in it. (They're true, and though some of them are just annoying, there are lots of things that are far from nice.) And then there's the eponymous Thirdspace, a deeper level of which almost nothing is known because the only known attempt to access it (one device, opened twice) created a portal to the territory of an extremely powerful (enough to scare the Vorlons) and aggressive race that instantly attacks through it. Other less nasty but still dangerous problems include freak storms and vortexes that are capable of altering the currents and eddies and throwing ships off course, something that can normally prove fatal. Also, if you try to open a jump point within an already active gate, this will result in a very large explosion.

    Hyperspace is in actuality a shadow of Realspace. Gravity wells from normal space create the vortices in Hyperspace, and the drift effect is due to the galaxy being constantly in motion. Hyperspace compresses the space-time continuum so everything is exaggerated while travelling through it. Hyperspace beacons constantly need to be readjusted and hyperspace lanes tend to change over the years. Another unnatural effect of Hyperspace is that it boosts the telepathic abilities of any telepath. Travel beyond the galaxy is said to be the hardest thing any one race can accomplish, and only the ancient First Ones have travelled beyond the galactic rim.

    The First Ones have learned to use hyperspace rather well, with the Vorlons folding a pocket of hyperspace in on itself to hide a frigging enormous armada! The Shadows are even worse, being completely at home in the chaotic hyperspace. They never get lost and don't even need to open jump gates, simply phasing between hyperspace and normal space. In essence, the Shadows are true Eldritch Abominations who have made hyperspace their plaything.

    And in the Expanded Universe there's the Starshards; weapons from a long-ago war, made up of small pieces of neutronium that literally tear hyperspace apart as they travel through it, leaving a trail of realspace behind it like a comet's tail while at the same time warping the eddies in front of it.
  • Doctor Who
    • The Time Vortex in the Whoniverse has been shown to be hazardous to objects that travel through it without proper transport, even killing companion Jack Harkness. It also hosts a few creatures, such as the Chronovores and other beings, and, as of New Who, Reapers. The Vortex is viewable directly from a special window on the Doctor's homeworld called the "untempered schism" where one could actually stare at the raw power of time and space, as the Doctor described it. He said that all Time Lord children were instructed to stare at it until they either became inspired, went insane or ran away. The Doctor of course, ran away. (Although there's an argument to be made for all three.) The Master, on the other hand...
    • Travel between Alternate Universes requires traveling through the Void, a realm which the Doctor describes as containing absolutely nothing. "No up, no down, no light, no dark, no time". Someone using a specialist "void ship" can sit in the Void through the end of the universe and the start of the next, and while the Time Lords called it the Void and the Eternals called it the Howling, some just call it Hell.
  • Farscape
    • Wormholes are treacherous and difficult to navigate, and cause all sorts of tricky problems with time and space and turning into liquid when you don't quite understand them, and are inhabited by bizarre and dangerous creatures- ranging from gigantic phase-shifting serpents to sentient "Pathfinders" of dubious morality. On the other hand, one episode dealt with the dangers of Starburst, which is a short-range emergency FTL technology that works by temporarily slipping into another dimension and coming out pretty quickly. Somehow, the ship Moya gets stuck and splayed out in other dimensions — one of which causes mind-splitting noise, another which causes visual pain, and a third which causes elation and euphoria, in addition to the normal one — and has to be reassembled by moving all four ships in unison through the dimension while avoiding the interdimensional gatekeeper monster... thing. Luckily the Gatekeeper turned out to be friendly and helped them escape. The problem with that particular starburst involved Moya's pregnancy cumulated with other labor complications. As of some time after Talyn's birth, it is still said him starbursting would be dangerous. He does it even before properly learning to fly, though.
    • However, the normal mode of FTL travel for all ships, including Moya, is the Hetch Drive. It appears to move the ship through normal space at FTL speeds, isn't brought up all that much, and appears to be entirely safe.
  • In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "In the Blood", explorers on a spaceship are trapped in "trans-space," a hyperspace-like dimension that turns out to be the literal bloodstream of the universe, which is actually a living being. The "scary" part comes from the universe's defense mechanisms being similar to those of humans and actively seeking to destroy foreign bodies.
  • Stargate:
    • Played with in the pilot of Stargate Atlantis: Lt. Ford hazes the New Guy (Sheppard) by telling him that Gate travel is horribly painful... then drops the act, admits it's actually a lot of fun, and throws himself backward through the event horizon like it's a carnival ride.
    • Played straighter in the original Stargate movie and the first episode of Stargate SG-1, where travel through the Stargate was disorientating, made some people feel sick and everyone came through the other side freezing cold, no matter what the temperature on either side of the gate was. Oh, and it threw you out the receiving gate, no matter how fast you entered it. After the pilot of SG1, Children of the Gods, this was all dropped. This was later explained as being due to Earth's lack of the "Dial Home Device," or DHD, which is what they call the control panels the gates were built with. Normally, these regularly "update" the Stargates in the Gate Network to compensate for stellar drift. Since Earth's Stargate didn't have one, it was slightly out of sync with the rest of the network until they learned to compensate for it. This resulted in the rough ride. After this, there was only such a rough ride to the home territory of the Asgard (the first eight-symbol super-distant address) and to the Destiny at the beginning of Stargate Universe (even farther than that!)
      • Other episodes with a rough ride include "Red Sky", due to safety protocols being disabled.
  • Star Trek normally doesn't treat subspace as a bad thing. There are some exceptions, though:
    • Subspace containing aliens who like vivisecting humans.
    • Then there's the problem when subspace extrudes into normal space. Basically, being caught in such a flux means trouble. The energies and particles coming from them are generally not healthy, and stresses can tear starships apart. And you can forget about trying to use Warp Drive (indeed, one TNG episode showed that excessive warp usage was fraying the boundary between space and subspace like a well-trodden carpet). Thus the laser-like focus of the Federation when it comes to Omega molecules (seen in Voyager): just one of them will rip the space/subspace barrier for a radius of several light years. Get too many of these kinds of holes popping up and you can kiss galactic civilization as you know it goodbye.
    • One episode of The Next Generation deals with a terrorist group who use a "folded-space transporter" in their attacks. There's a good reason such technology is not widely used: prolonged use causes humanoid tissue to break down.
    • Wormholes containing Sufficiently Advanced Aliens the Bajorans thought of as the prophets. Averted in that they're actually quite nice and keep the wormhole open and stable. The Pah-Wraiths, on the other hand...
    • The Canon Discontinuity Voyager episode "Threshold" almost treated Warp 10 like this, but the actual results were mind-boggling from a logical, biological, and narrative standpoint.
    • Experimental interphase cloaking devices (largely different from the regular, completely safe cloaking devices) seem to operate by taking a ship and crew outside of the normal realm of matter and reality, which allows them not only invisibility but the ability to do things such as phase through solid matter. This can go horribly wrong in two different ways. The first is if a person is exposed to the radiation of a damaged device. They become cloaked. Not only will they be invisible, unable to be seen, they will lack coherence and slip through walls. On a ship, this could mean a sudden jarring motion could send a person into space. The second is if the cloaking device suddenly stops working as the ship phases through solid matter. If a crewmember is lucky, getting stuck in a wall will kill them instantly. (Both scenarios were explored in "The Next Phase" and "The Pegasus", respectively: Geordi and Ro are able to fend off a Romulan in the same phase by throwing him out of the ship and into space; and the final resting place of the Pegasus is inside of an asteroid, half-phased into the rock after the device finally failed.)
  • The Tomorrow People were presumably safe when jaunting through hyperspace. If they jaunted into hyperspace without protective gear, their bodies would be annihilated. Additionally, hyperspace was seen as a place where time had no meaning, but you'd return to your own time upon leaving. That is, unless some major temporal screw-up had occurred, which ran the possibility of freezing time temporarily.
    • Note that hyperspace was not instantly lethal. When breaking out, Elizabeth accidentally became stranded in hyperspace. While she was in deadly danger, there was a reasonable amount of time to deduce what had happened to her and mount a rescue.

    Music 
  • Van Der Graaf Generator goes with the Nothing Is Scarier version in "Pioneers Over C.". A group of astronauts attempt to use Faster-Than-Light Travel to explore the cosmos, and when they finally break the light barrier, they enter infinite nothingness, losing all sense of time and awareness, unable to return to reality as we know it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 is very explicit about the "scary" part.
    • The most common way of FTL travels utilize a kind of hyperspace known as the Warp. It is a parallel dimension where there is no time as we understand it (so one can reach destination hundreds years into the future — or into the past), but more importantly, it is a sink of all emotions and ideas (and probably souls) for all races of the galaxy. Guess what? The mix isn't very nice, it is downright nasty. Traveling through the Warp means traveling through a very literal hell, complete with demons, dark gods and so on. Gellar Fields maintain a pocket of "normal" space in and around the ship, but sometimes natives leak through. In the setting the Warp also fuels magic, so local mages (psykers) are always under risk of being possessed and often hear voices, offering... things.
    • For bonus logical headaches, there's a story about accidental time-travelers who were responding to a distress signal (also sent through the Warp) from a ship that was surrounded by enemy vessels... when they popped out, the ship they were aiding was nowhere to be seen, but they were in the middle of an enemy fleet, so they sent out a distress signal...
    • It was mentioned a few times that Gellar Fields can only protect from small predators. The only thing that saves the ship from bigger fish is that they don't notice or don't care about puny humans. Occasionally they do take notice, and then a lifeless husk will join thousands ships that were lost in the warp.
    • The Tau, due to lacking a strong Warp presence, don't have psykers, and thus no analogues for the Imperial Astropaths and Navigators. This leaves them with very limited access to the Warp, and next to no way to explore its nature and applications. Despite having advanced technology otherwise, the Tau are very primitive when it comes to psychic and warp-based technology, including their FTL drives. The Tau are restricted to the "shallows" of the Warp, "skimming" it instead of immersing their vessels any "deeper" (apparently Space Is an Ocean metaphors are plentiful when describing the Warp, but metaphors are the only effective method of describing a realm of illogical thought). While this means painfully slow FTL travel, even by the standards of the setting, it's a much safer and more reliable method of travel, although it still has its dangers. Unfortunately this also means that the Tau have less understanding about the dangers of the Warp than just about every other faction too, and even less understanding about the forces in it. Supposedly, they tried to duplicate the Imperium's Warp technology, but eventually decided "Screw this. Too many tentacles."
    • Even staying out of the Warp doesn't mean escaping this trope. Sometimes, a Warpspace/realspace overlap (known as a Warp Storm or Warp Rift) is generated that can swallow planets, star systems, or even entire sectors of space: the largest, the Eye of Terror, is roughly the size and shape of a dwarf spiral galaxy, meaning it's thousands of light years in diameter. It's never a good idea to be on any planet caught anywhere near one of these. While the exact effects vary on a case-by-case basis, the gist of it is that the rules of physics take an extended vacation, creating a lovely little World of Chaos in which denizens of the Warp can freely manifest, leaving them with plenty of time for Fun. As luck would have it, warp storms sometimes have beneficial effects as well. At one point the Imperium of Man found a Stone-Age alien species on an uncharted world, and as per normal procedure tasked forces to exterminate them. A warp storm blew up and rendered the star system off limits for about 6,000 years. Then the storm dissipated and the Imperium tried again, only to discover that in the interim the aliens in question, the previously mentioned Tau, had become a spacefaring culture more technologically advanced than the Imperium and fended off the incursion quite handily.
    • The Eldar Webway is a labyrinthine set of tunnels and passages through what is essentially an artificial dimension between Realspace and the Warp. While the Webway is nicer than the Warp, it's still quite nasty and host to its own brand of weirdness. Whereas the Warp is pure chaos, the Webway is more akin to Alien Geometries; rational and internally consistent, yet utterly alien. One of the Primarchs was lost trying to navigate it, and Commorragh, capital city of the Dark Eldar hidden deep within the webway, is an Eldritch Location with architecture that makes Inception look reasonable.
    • Of course, being 40K, some factions just don't care about the mind-breaking horrors inherent to the Warp. The Orks coat their vessels in "teef" to scare off daemons (which works because Orks believe it should), but even if that doesn't work, daemonic incursions are treated as a way of breaking up the tedium of long trips. Chaos followers have a much easier time navigating the home realm of their patron deities, but they still need Gellar fields to prevent daemons from coming to collect on their pacts. And the sheer might of the Tyranid Hive Mind plays havoc with the Warp and its denizens, meaning only the most powerful daemons can go anywhere near them, and they can't fight an entire hive fleet by themselves anyway.
    • Last but not least, the Necrons utilize impossibly advanced technology so they can simply ignore the Warp. Their take on FTL works by actually going faster than light rather than taking a short-cut, plus as a civilisation whose people are made of living metal, they have much less problems related to warp sickness. Of note are their attempts to get the warp to influence their bodies and flawlessly combine metal and flesh (something only Chaos has managed yet) which seldomly go lucky. However, it seems easier for them to just use the Webway.
    • The Warp used to be a relatively peaceful afterlife dimension called the Realm of Souls. The cataclysmic war involving the Old Ones + Eldar + Krorks (Orks) vs the Necrons and C'tan left behind so much devastation, bloodshed, and ill will that it permanently corrupted the Realm of Souls into the nightmarish Warp. The birth of Slaanesh sealed the deal and led to the creation of the aforementioned Eye of Terror, a permanent Warp/realspace overlap, in the process. A somewhat niche wild guess is that humans also had some influence, and if they didn't, they definitely did as the 40th millennium came to a close. Nobody fed the Dark Gods like humanity did, and the 13th Black Crusade proved this. Abbadon's destruction of Cadia produced so much chaos that what was once a few pockets of concentrated chaos turned into a Great Rift tearing across the entire Milky Way from one end to the other, spawning a new age dubbed Noctis Aeterna.note 
  • Warhammer features the Paths of the Old Ones, a series of pocket dimension "hubs" connected to each other and to real-world gates by "tunnels" through the realm of magic. Since the Old Ones disappeared, the Paths have been tainted by Chaos. The tunnels are even worse, containing "reality bubbles" that travelers can be trapped in. These may vary from alternate timelines to a daemon's personal playroom. And if you take a wrong turn in the Paths, you may just end up in the Realms of Chaos. Or worse, the Warp.
  • The game Fading Suns uses an inversion: hyperspace (what is between the Stargates) actually is the safe way. The real problem is that interstellar space (the traditional boundary is the orbit of system's Stargate) is filled with shapeless Cthulhoid monstrosities going by the lovely name of Void Kraken. (Something about the star, at least for some part of the star's life cycle repels the Void Krakens. The size of this safe zone varies with each system.) Still, spaceships jumping through hyperspace need to be protected by special shields, because otherwise people experience a strongly addictive quasi-religious epiphany. And fun stuff: before the discovery of Sol System's gate, there were several sleeper ships sent out. One of them was referenced in canon. The rest... Well, the general assumption is it's better not to think of what could have happened to the passengers.
  • While not used for space travel, Porté sorcery in the RPG 7th Sea involves tearing a bleeding hole in reality, stepping through into an hyperspace-like dimension, and tearing open another hole to get back. No-one knows what this dimension is like, because Porté sorcerers keep their eyes closed while inside it. Within this dimension, voices try to persuade or trick the sorcerer into opening their eyes. It's assumed that the sorcerers who never came back made the mistake of opening their eyes. It's not at all related that the country where most Porté sorcerers live also has ghosts without eyes or hands that appear in its mirrors. No, surely not. In later supplemental material, it is revealed that nearly all magic in the world of Theah weakens a barrier in a shadowy world that keeps an army of eldritch abominations at bay, and that every use of Porté magic to rip a hole in reality also rips a corresponding hole in the barrier.
  • In Traveller different cultures have different customs and/or superstitions about it. Among them, Vilani dim their lights (from when having enough power to go into jump was an issue), Aslan clans light a sacramental candle, Vargr, as the violent types, beat up one of their crewmates chosen for the honor, and the Droyne use special coins. Jump space is not so much feared as it is weird. If a jump works wrong one could be misjumped to a random point, which could mean anywhere. If it works really wrong, one stays in jumpspace, and no one knows what happens. Technically, one only stays in Jumpspace for a few trillion (subjective) years. Long enough for protons, stable as they are, to decay and, 168 objective hours or so later, all that emerges is a flash of hard radiation.
  • And the utterly forgotten 80's RPG Space Quest had N-Space filled to the bursting with Voidsharks, "Temblons" (think kraken with tractor-beam tentacles) and other horrors that all seemed to find carbon based life a tasty treat.
  • Rifts: Regular FTL travel is fairly simple and straightforward, if somewhat anemic as regards speed. Phase drives, however, are derived from the same technology and magic that the Prometheans use. They use this technology to shut portals and gates down on top of ships that are coming in, a fairly horrific action. But then there are the Rift drives. Though they normally travel through a dimension called the Flux Dimension, anyone who has played Rifts know that they're prone to all sorts of horrible things happening...
  • Given a nod in BattleTech, where the Kearny-Fuchida jump drive is occasionally poorly looked upon. This is, of course, thanks to a long track record of damn near epic foul-ups that have happened. Time-lost ships, ships that have emerged with massive holes that look like they've been bitten, ships emerging without crew, ships that jumped too close to another ship and were fused, ships where the same happened and the still-living crew were found literally embedded in the bulkheads, and some ships just plain disappearing. Never mind the fact that the Word of Blake apparently figured out a way to keep a ship in hyperspace so their recruits have a more interesting environment to learn in. And it has already been established that looking out a porthole during a jump is just plain stupid...
    • The things listed above are the exceptions to the rule — K-F Drives are 98% safe, as long as the capacitors don't blow. However, the understood mechanics of jump travel are almost as bad as the parts that aren't understood. Every single time a ship jumps, heat is manifested at the destination prior to the ship showing up. The more mass being jumped, the longer and hotter. It basically builds from the time the ship starts its jump to the point it emerges. Contrary to popular belief, jumping isn't instantaneous. Although still faster than light speed there is a lag depending on the distance and mass involved. A huge, fully-loaded battleship jumping the maximum (about 30 light-years) needs about 6 minutes to complete the jump. Problem is, due to all the Lost Technology from centuries of warfare, jump knowledge is either sketchy or kept secret. It's said there are two type of Jump Scientists. One who can recite the theory backwards and forth but make little headway in it... And those who are completely insane but in-between their ramblings they make discoveries.
    • One of the most dangerous things about the KF drive is what happens when a ship jumps: Any other ship within a radius of about one hundred kilometers will be shredded, at various levels of completeness from "kind of intact" to "on a molecular level" with the higher end being the norm. Though the process is instant, it's been noted that on occasion a destroyed ship will continue to transmit for several seconds after the jump flash ends. Also, because of the physics involved, you can't jump in the presence of two jump cores, whether active or not. If you want to transport a jump core, you have to either use the core itself to make the jump or painstakingly break it down into basically gravel and then reforge it (at great expense) once it gets to the destination.
    • The SLDF discovered that any trip via K-F Drive made all of their attempts at drone warship AI suffer what is described as a "paranoid psychotic break" in which they would lock out all communications and see everything that moved as a hostile that was actively attacking them. Any K-F deployment of drones had to be conducted with the AI powered down, then reactivated by a caretaker crew on arrival.
  • The Hedge in Changeling: The Lost can serve as a means of more expedient travel between long distances, provided one is willing to enter an ever-shifting maze and brave the dangers therein. True to the warped logic of its owners, the time it takes to get somewhere depends more on what happens along the way than on actual distance, meaning that getting from Miami to Tucson might require more time (and bloodshed) than from Miami to London. In the Infinite Macabre setting, it's made explicit that yes, the Hedge can be used for interstellar travel, though the base time for navigation is longer. Oh, and getting a ship back out requires finding a portal that said ship can fit through, which is implied to be a rare occurance.
  • Eldritch Skies lives and breaths this trope. As it turns out, the reason why people tend to go mad in the future of the Cthulhu Mythos is not because of secrets man was not meant to know. Rather, it's due to exposure to the hyperspatial entities, and hyperspace itself is The Corruption. As per Eldritch Skies, however, the expected role this would play is averted: the mental effects don't get really bad until Level 4 exposure, Level 1 gives you Psychic Powers and anything lower than Level 5 is treatable.
  • The canal network in Heaven's Reach, one of the alternate Exalted settings in Shards, is a sufficiently nasty place that it contains The Fair Folk, who dwell in the crazy-world that is the Wyld in the core setting, and all ships come with anima circuits to keep them from meeting horrific and bizarre fates. While most of the heavily travelled routes have had the evil kicked out of them over the years, the routes that were forgotten after the Malfean War have not.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In the Tomb of Horrors, going astral or ethereal while in the title tomb is not advisable. At all. It's an excellent way to get set upon and flayed alive by Type I-IV Demons.
    • In the Spelljammer setting, the space between the Crystal Spheres is called the Phlogiston. While not as disturbing as other examples on this page, it's still dangerous. Besides some nasty creatures living in "The Flow", the multicolored "matter" that pervades it is extremely inflammable. Even a candle will cause a small fireball; any form of fire magic is extremely unadvised there. It as also some weird effects on living beings, like putting asphyxiating creatures into a coma rather than dying. Some travelers have tried using this property to spare resources while cruising the Phlogiston's currents, but there's no guarantee that the subjects would wake up.
  • Fasa's old Renegade Legion setting was an interesting example. Tachyon Space wasn't scary per se, but normal matter wasn't capable of coping with it. If a jump lasted too long, you'd melt into a puddle of base elements before exploding into a shower of tachyons.
  • Stars Without Number: trying to use a spike drive without someone on duty at all times is a really bad idea. In the sense that you will likely never be seen again.
  • In Eclipse Phase, the Pandora Gates created by the TITANs can be... unpredictable. Stable connections will sometimes spontaneously shut down mid-transit, objects and gatecrashers occasionally disappear and never come out the other side, and exposure to the gates themselves can cause hallucinations and psychological side effects. And while according to transhumanity's understanding of their function, transit should be instantaneous, travelers sometimes report experiencing subjective hours or even days in a black void. Some gatecrashers say they heard whispering in the darkness, some recount terrifying experiences of encountering monstrous presences, and an unlucky few even come out the other side of the gate as a gibbering heap, their sanity ripped away by the transport.
  • In Deadlands, the Hunting Grounds (the astral plane or the afterlife) double as hyperspace; the one and only human starship designed by Dr. Hellstromme used it for interstellar travel. If you are thinking Warhammer 40K or Event Horizon, you are right. The ship, unlike the Event Horizon, did have some form of Gellar field, but shabby and inefficient, which makes a trip aboard it terrible but survivable. Except for the poor sod sacrificed to activate the demon-powered warp drive.
  • Swedish RPG Coriolis: The Third Horizon plays it straight twice over. While on the surface it inverts it in the same manner as Fading Suns, it turns out that just because the Portals are the less dangerous route doesn't mean they're automatically safer. In fact, Portal jumps require the crew to be in hypersleep as whatever makes the Portals work isn't exactly compatible with human perception or biology. The book makes it clear that, if the jump doesn't kill you outright, you'll need a new character as your old one will now be too crazy and maimed to be playable.
  • Modiphius' Cold & Dark is, for a horror game, a bit of a surprising majority aversion of this. Despite some weirdness (Visible color switching to greyscale, shadows taking a couple seconds to fade), ghostline jumps don't carry any odd risks in and of themselves beyond the usual risks in scifi works. Repeated jumps in a short time, however, increase the risk for Void Psychosis Syndrome.
  • In Starfinder, interstellar travel relies on traveling through a dimension called the Drift. Technically the Drift isn't that bad, apart from a few native critters, being completely empty. The scary part is that every time someone uses the Drift, a chunk is torn out of another plane and added to the Drift. As a result, travelling through the drift now means your ship might run into fragments from every nasty plane there is, the most inhospitable parts of the good and neutral planes, or even hazards from the Material Plane itself.

    Theatre 
  • Subverted hilariously in Qui Nguyen's play Fight Girl Battle World, in which the Human is told to brace for hyperspace, which then turns out to be funky hip-hop music. Everyone bobs their head in time. The human eventually catches on.

    Video Games 
  • Although not technically hyperspace, the plot of the Doom series revolves around teleporters that work by routing the teleported matter through Hell itself — the demons eventually notice the unexpected entry and even less expected exits and come through the teleporters themselves. In Doom 3, it's specifically stated that the Martian civilization's use of this technology nearly drove them into extinction, and it took a Heroic Sacrifice on the part of their entire species to send the demons back and close up the portals again before they could conquer the universe. And then humans came along and Unsealed the Can. If the demonic invasion wasn't bad enough, even travelling though a portal to another place on Mars can cause paranoia and insanity. Makes sense, since the hyperspace tunnel appears to be a bloody vein-like tunnel, and you hear screaming as you move along it.
  • Half-Life:
    • Half-Life has a similar premise: Xen is a parallel dimension that looks as if bits of planet and atmosphere, as well as predatory xenofauna, were transported there at random. Teleporters need to pass their signal through a Xen relay in order to return their loads to normal space. The relay is initially (when the technology was first created) a big machine attached to a crystal on Xen, but is subsequently "compressed" all the way to nothing; Half-Life 2 tells us that rag-tag Resistance teleporters simply swing around Xen like a dimensional sligshot, making teleportation cheaper and a bit safer.
    • On the other hand, Combine teleportation takes the hard way and rips a hole in the universe. It does have some advantages, like the Combine being able to go to any universe they choose and wherever in a given universe, but teleportation relying on Xen is cheaper and uses much less machinery, as well as able to perform intradimensional travel (as opposed to Combine teleportation which is only capable of travel between dimensions, leaving them reliant on local transportation to get around once they're in a dimension). Some factions can even use it without machinery at all, like the G-Man, who conveniently disappears through what is either teleportation or a crapload of hidden doors before you ever get close. Also, the Vortigaunts seem to like where/when/whatever plane of existence the G-Man keeps using and taking Gordon to, so much so as to wrench him and Alyx back into reality from it at the start of Episode One.
  • The Warcraft universe has the Twisting Nether, a realm that connects every world to one another. To those who know how to use its powers, it can act as a doorway between worlds. In its natural state it is the opposite of worlds, with mutable laws of physics defined by each individual and little sense of reason. Recently, however, it has become a major haven for the Burning Legion, who use it to punch holes into new worlds or intercept travelers passing through it.
  • Wolfenstein has The Black Sun Dimension, which is basically a small-ish pocket Universe being kept from collapsing by a source of unlimited power at its center, The Black Sun. The Veil is a barrier between our universe and the Black Sun dimension, through which Black Sun energy occasionally leaks in the form of energy pools. Oh, did we mention that the energy has the property of horrifically... altering whoever comes into contact with it, unless they use a precisely harmonized portal? There's even a sort of fauna, native to the Veil: the Geist, a species of monstrous insects that exist out-of-phase with our dimensions and can only be interacted with in the Veil... Unless you're really stupid and attract their attention, at which point all bets are off.
  • Star Control
    • In this universe, Hyperspace is quite nice. Quasispace (Hyperspace's Hyperspace) is even nicer! But God help you if you use "Dimensional Fatigue" technology wrongly. The Androsynth tried it, and they all disappeared overnight. There are no more Androsynth, only Orz. Strange creatures who are difficult to understand, implied to be merely projections of some greater being from Hyperspace's or Quasispace's Mirror Universe, and will happily kill you if you persist in asking about the Androsynth. Merely trying to research the fate of the Androsynth is enough to attract the attentions of Eldritch Abominations.
    • Also of note is the fact that Hyperspace isn't a total walk in the park; according to the backstory, the shift between dimensions causes intense nausea, much like a hyperactive space seasickness. The eerie background music playing while your ship travels through Quasispace really helps get the "scary place" feeling across. Some of it sounds like the screams or yells of... something. As some of the aliens describe it, Hyperspace is "above" regular space, and Quasi-space is "above" Hyperspace. The Orz come from "below".
  • In the sequel (of disputed canonicity) to the RTS Homeworld, Homeworld: Cataclysm, the central enemy came from Hyperspace. This was a little disturbing for everyone, as until then Hyperspace has been thought to be perfectly safe (assuming you had a safe way of getting in and out of it). The Naggarok, an alien exploration vessel using an experimental form of hyperdrive, essentially went 'too deep', or something similar, resulting in it picking up a passenger in the form of a sentient biomatter virus. Although it's worth mentioning that this explanation for how The Beast came to enter our galaxy is explicitly guesswork based on fragmentary information; all we know for certain is that the Naggarok exited hyperspace covered in Meat Moss that had eaten most of the crew.

    Interestingly, in an early script for Homeworld 2, the radiation clouds from a damaged hyperspace core were instead written as an area of space in which ships would be sucked into fiery tentacled hyperspace gates. The script describes them as "looking like they lead straight into hell". This interpretation would fit well with all the other religious symbolism in the game, but you can see why they dropped it; The radiation shields the Hiigarans eventually implement are much more believable than "portal into hell" shields.
  • The first warp zone in the original Star Fox, the black hole, is kind of like the warp gates in the later Star Fox 64, except you can choose where to go and it's a looping level. The second one, however, sends Fox into an alternate dimension filled with grinning moons, demonic paper airplanes, classical music, and giant slot machines. This would be a zany joke level if it weren't for the fact that General Pepper asks over the intercom where Fox and his team is, and the inability to complete the level. This implies that the entire Star Fox team is trapped in an alternative dimension, flying until they either run out of fuel or are shot out of the sky, while Corneria is obliterated by Andross and his army.
  • In Elite, a trip into hyperspace (or witch-space, as the game calls it) puts you at risk from ambush from Thargoids, who have a technology which allows them to lurk there. In some versions of the game you can force a hyperdrive failure by holding full pitch and roll while jumping, but you'd have to be either suicidal or very well armed to attempt it.
    • In Frontier: Elite II, mis-jumps sometimes occur, which usually just results in your ship emerging from Hyperspace too early but still with enough fuel to complete the jump. A severe mis-jump could have you emerge from Hyperspace in uncharted space thousands of light years from any inhabited system while simultaneously turning your hyperdrive into a pile of useless scrap metal. Fun.
    • In Elite: Dangerous Hyperspace works in such a way that you can't judge speed or direction in it, and you pass unidentifiable cloud structures and points of light while travelling in it. You can also hear some truly bizarre sounds in it, possibly coming from the Thargoids (mentioned above). Oh, and whatever you do, don't look behind you. And in case you think it's all just atmospheric, the Thargoids can still yank you out mid-jump.
  • In Xenosaga, the UMN, source of faster than light travel and communications, is also the source of the nightmarish creatures known as the Gnosis. This turns out to be because it is actually humanity's collective unconscious.
  • In Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, jump gates connect the solar systems of the Dodge Sector together. Unfortunately, prolonged use causes jump gates to become unstable and ultimately collapse, creating all sorts of nasty abnormalities (which has also led to a terrorist group rising up attacking any ships that use jump gates to prevent the potential destruction of the sector). You can travel through most jump gates safely, although it is never a comfortable experience. Attempting to use an unstable gate, however, can damage your ship and throw you into a completely different part of the Sector than you intended.
  • In Sword of the Stars, the humans and the Zuul use a specific dimension called "nodespace" to allow their ships to ignore the rules of physics. Unfortunately, nodespace is inhabited by Energy Beings known as "specters", who do not appreciate the intrusion and will occasionally cross over into real space and eat the population of one of your colonies to display their displeasure. The Zuul are especially at risk because of their manner of accessing nodespace: for an analogy, the spectres' annoyance at humanity would be like if you were sitting at home and someone came streaking through your living room, entering and leaving through your front door — the Zuul would be the guy who entered your living room by drilling his way through the walls with a pneumatic drill, and exiting by drilling through the wall at the opposite end. In the nude.

    In addition, looking directly into Node Space turns out to have really bad psychological side effects, and after a few unfortunate murder-suicides all human ships now shut all external views of their ships while performing node jumps. Word of God has said that Zuul find node travel delicious and deeply comforting, like burrowing into live flesh. The one and only time a Liir tried to enter nodespace on a human vessel, the second it felt the psychic emanations from nodespace it tore open the ship from the inside to avoid going through. Thankfully everyone onboard was fully suited.
    • According to The Deacon's Tale book by Arinn Dembo, traveling through the Hiver gates is extremely painful to a human and can even be fatal. Presumably, this applies to any species without an exoskeleton. There's a reason the races tend to stick to their method of interstellar travel.
  • The Shadow Shard in City of Heroes is like this, if only because almost all the monsters found in the place are Demonic Spiders. Of course, the landscape is trippy as hell, and that does a lot to turn it into one of the most unused zones in the game.
  • Toe Jam And Earl 2's Hyperfunk Zone is a most totally jammin' version of this.
  • The scariness of subspace in the FreeSpace series has less to do with subspace itself than the insinuation that using it for FTL travel will cause a horde of enraged Starfish Aliens, who may or may not actually live in subspace, with Nigh Invulnerable spacecraft to come and wipe your species out for their "sin".
  • The Halo universe's hyperspace is known as slipspace. In the early days of FTL travel, technicians sometimes had to repair the drives while in mid-jump, exposing themselves to the "slipstream" and risking injury, death, or even being completely erased from existence in the process. Even when the engine isn't operating, there's still a tendency for tools and technicians to turn up missing after a shift. Sometimes ships entering hyperspace will simply never reappear. Time dilation effects are present, which can cause unpredictable delays. It's also implied that slipspace travel has adverse effects on your health, thus the cryopods present on all UNSC vessels. Being Thrown Out the Airlock simply kicks you back into realspace, though you do get bathed in radiation in the process. Opening a slipspace rift while in an atmosphere creates a massive EMP pulse and shockwave that can knock down a Space Elevator. Trying to transition from realspace to slipspace when the slipspace drive isn't fully charged (at least on human ships) causes the ship to be blown into atomized bits.
    • Slipspace is significantly less scary for more advanced species like the Covenant and Forerunners, but even for them it can still be treacherous without the proper precautions.
  • The EVE Online expansion Apocrypha added star systems that are only accessible by wormholes and full of strange, sentient and Always Chaotic Evil machines called the Sleepers. This turned out to be a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation: the players found these systems less scary than intended, mapped them, colonized them and deciphered the Sleeper A.I. to safely farm them. Canonically, just warping and jumping through stargates are mentally traumatic experiences, to the point where ship crews are either permanently juicing anti-psychotic medication to keep them sane, or else are kept sedated when they're not actually needed for anything. A capsuleer's control pod does grant them immunity to this phenomenon, but considering that it tends to drive the user insane anyway, this could be considered a mixed blessing.
  • In Immortal Defense, you are the reason hyperspace is a scary place, since you're an immortal disembodied spirit with god powers, and you tend to tear apart fleets.
  • Minecraft
    • The Halloween update allows players to build a portal to "The Nether", a hellish underworld where every step you take translates to eight steps in the normal world. Where the terrain isn't covered by lava it consists of either a red rock that readily catches on fire or a quicksand textured with screaming faces. The entire dimension is inhabited by herds of zombie pigmen and flying jellyfish who spit exploding fireballs that tear up the landscape and set the rock on fire.
    • A later update adds another portal which leads players to another dimension called "The End", a dark world which consists entirely of a single Floating Continent suspended over an endless void, inhabited solely by Endermen and a single Ender Dragon.
      • Notably, the End becomes a lot less scary once you realize that 1) a simple bow with a sufficient quantity of arrows will keep you safe from the Dragon as you gradually reduce his health, 2) Endermen are effectively inert if you're wearing a pumpkin or will be distracted easily by Snow Golems, 3) you can farm them in very efficient structures that'll level you from zero to level 30 in less than a minute,
  • Dungeon Crawl gives us the Abyss, which is intimately tied to translocation spells; there are translocation spells that send a target to the Abyss, and a translocation miscast can send the mage the same way. It's a constantly shifting branch of hell, filled with demons and ruled over by Lugonu the Unformed, who grants powers of, naturally, translocation.
  • In the first episode of Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, when Sam and Max first use the power of Teleportation (outside the tutorial flashback at the beginning), the two travel through a bizarre multicolored void where Max is a talking skeleton with a creepy voice.
    Max: Enjoying the ride, Sam? A-ha-ha-ha-ha!
    Sam: Note to self: when traveling through Max's brain, keep your eyes shut.
  • The Breach refers to this as "the Yellow." It's full of yellow fog, nasty monsters, and strange glowing glyphs, and it's apparently beyond time as well. The inhabitants are quite welcoming, but they tend to become enraged at people who refuse to join them.
  • In Baten Kaitos the Trail of Souls that links Mira to the rest of the world. The "wavey" black void is liable to get you lost forever in a monster filed dimension if you get lost, and it even freaks out characters who regularly travel it. Motoi Sakuraba's music sets the tune perfectly.
  • In Loom you and a few other characters have the opportunity to tear open the very fabric of reality and go Outside. While it makes for convenient travel by going from tear to tear, it is very much not safe, as Outside is the dwellingplace of the dead, some of whom are not nice people at all. The climax of the game, after the Rend weave has been used to open a portal to Outside, involves going Outside to find the way to keep it out of the hands of the local Death God, which has the unfortunate side effect of trapping it in normal reality. The game was supposed to be a trilogy, but sadly went unfinished.
  • In Mass Effect, the Mass Effect Relays are not entirely mapped out by the species of the galaxy, since they were supposedly designed by the Protheans ( "supposedly" because they were actually created by the Reapers) who did not really leave any complete maps as to where they all go, and an explorer has no idea what is really on the other side. Used to be, when a new Mass Relay was discovered the Citadel Council would immediately send out an explorer team to leap to the other side and map out the Relay's destination. This came to a stop however when one exploration team discovered the rachni. The ensuing war lasted a century, which was only won when the Council employed the use of the krogan, which in turn lead to Krogan Rebellions. When the Turians came accross Mankind tinkering with an unexplored Relay, it started a small war.note  On top of hostile unknown races being at the other side of a Mass Relay, there is also a chance you could run into other nasty things, like black holes or massive fields of space-junk.

    Actually an inversion; using the relays by themselves is perfectly safe. Using the FTL drives on the ship is perfectly safe (provided you remembered to discharge the static buildup so it doesn't fry everyone on board). The REAL dangers come from the other people using these technologies, such as the aforementioned rachni or the Reapers. The sole exception is the Omega relay, which has a reputation of being a one-way trip: anyone that uses it never comes back. The reason being it goes to the galactic core, which is a very dense area with lots of gravity wells. Jumping to a normal relay allows for a significant margin of error: if you're a few thousand kilometers off your mark, it's no big deal. The Omega relay requires a margin of error so minute that the best pilot in the fleet, who can make a shot across the galaxy with a margin of error of 1,500 kilometers, can't do it.
  • The X-Universe has a mild example in its Portal Network. The gate pairs have a way of (from the younger races' perspective) randomly shifting around due to meddling Precursors. This sometimes causes colonies of one race to be disconnected from friendly territory and end up connected to that of enemies.
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has the Amala Network, a series of Magatsuhi-flowing veins that stretch over the Vortex World that can be traversed via Terminals. Occasionally, travel through the network can get one trapped inside of it; as a result, you'll find the network infested with demons trying to gorge on the Magatsuhi in the network. It is also dangerous for humans to stay in the network for too long, lest they be subjected to Body Horror, or worse.
    • The earlier Shin Megami Tensei I had a very Doom-esque explanation for the sudden demonic invasion of Japan — a blatant Expy of Stephen Hawking succeeded in inventing teleportation but it connected to the demon world, allowing demons to spill into Earth through his experimental terminals. He eventually fixed the system so it was safe to use, but not before it was too late to stop the invasion.
  • Runescape has a location called the Abyss. It has been said that whenever teleportation magic is used, for just a split second that is too short to notice, your body exists in three locations at once, the point of departure, the point of arrival, and in the abyss. When you actually get to see what the abyss looks like, for the purpose of using it as a short cut to the runecrafting altars, it turns out to be Bloody Bowels of Hell and is filled with swarms of highly aggressive monsters than can very quickly kill players who are low level or are not prepared for them.
  • Story design documents released from Earth And Beyond after its servers were shut down revealed that protagonists of the game, The V'rix, originated from hyperspace. To the players they appeared as terrifying insectoid creatures and ships, but the design documents revealed that this was merely a perception that played on human's primal fears and not their actual forms. They were the guardians of The Ancient Gate System left behind by The Ancients and showed up and started attacking humans (and documents revealed they would have ended up blowing up the Earth) because of our improper use of The Ancient Gates.
  • In Outcry, there's the so-called Shimmering World, which certainly fits the bill when you get there. It's implied that this is only due to your brother’s damaged psyche, though, and that the Shimmering World might appear differently for healthier people.
  • Warframe: The Void is described by the Orokin as "...a blinding night. The hellspace where our science and reason failed," and it seems to live up to this description aptly. Space seen through the windows of the vacant (kind of) windows of the Orokin installations is that of an inverted sky the emptiness of space becomes blinding white and stars black, noble gasses that we know of on Earth become solid and crystalline when exposed to Void energies and those exposed to it that it doesn't kill outright are left corrupted and broken. It's even worse for the Sentients, who are usually killed outright when they enter the Void, but can survive for a short time with heavy protection—but even then they are rendered completely sterile, destroying their greatest advantage. The Void is therefore the only reason the Sentients haven't overtaken Sol system, as most of them are trapped at a distant star. And then in the Chains of Harrow quest, we find out that Rell, an autistic child who was exposed to the Void (and should have become a Tenno, but was cast out by the other children before he had a chance) discovered a "great indifference" in the Void, an intelligence that finds life an annoyance that needs to be crushed and destroyed.
    • The end of this quest culminates in freeing Rell's consciousness from the void where it was trapped in a transference breakdown. This poor kid has been trapped in the space between worlds for years, barely hanging on while he's assaulted mentally by a personification of the void. When you finally free Rell, the Void notices you and takes a personal interest. And it's strongly implied that the void hasn't noticed your character, but you, the player.
  • The Shroud in Stellaris draws clear inspiration from Warhammer 40K's Warp, though no strong ties with FTL is implied. Jump Drive technology, on the other hand, can be obtained by studying the remains of the Space Horror, a very powerful space monster found inside a black hole, described as only partially existing in our universe.
    • However, even just researching Jump Drives, or in particular, Psi Jump Drives, puts the entire galaxy at risk of invasion by The Unbidden.
  • It's not entirely clear where you go if you use your hammer on a teleporter and it malfunctions in Wild ARMs 1 but it's called The Abyss and it's a very hard Bonus Dungeon filled with Bonus Boss.

    Web Comics 
  • In the web comic Bohemian Drive, one of the characters talks about the rumors he heard about wormhole technology as he steps into the teleportation booth, describing how it's this twisting, freaky experience. Then he subverts it by admitting that it's actually supposed to be quite smooth, as the welcome guy on the other side greets them with nothing else changing to indicate the change. Link
  • FTL travel in Harbourmaster involves the A-S drive, which surrounds ships with a field that allows them to slip into another "layer" of space called underspace. Time operates strangely in underspace; two minutes inside of it equals two-hundred light years of movement. Coincidentally, two minutes is also the maximum amount of time that can be spent in underspace before the ship and it's crew just... vanish. Nobody knows what happens to them.
    • It's also apparently extremely difficult to navigate in underspace. The Hub Beacons exist because without them pilots would be hopelessly lost, which risks either not exiting within the time limit or exiting a jump right next to a star or some other hazard. Even worse, it has to be a physical and sentient pilot; autopilots and drones sent into underspace are just fried, dooming any ships that try to use them.
    • It's mentioned that some people have tried to create land-based wormholes that tap into underspace. These actually work, in that they can potentially suck an entire landmass into underspace.
    • One reason the Qohathoth are so mysterious is that their methods of space travel were utterly insane and bizarre. Their starships were somehow capable of creating sound and vibration in space (which basically breaks the laws of physics). What little writings they left behind claim they achieved FTL travel using dark matter and that it warped space and time just by activating.
  • In Irregular Webcomic! hyperspace is fine. It's hyper-hyperspace that might drive people insane.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The Void is where both angels and devils live, and is a cold place of ash in the shadow of the flame of Creation. Humans and Servants don't have bodies there, and instead exist only as shades — shadows of their souls, pale imitations of the real thing. Distance is warped, so it is fully possible to walk to another world. However, those same warping effects can be extremely dangerous if you step off the road, assuming an unbound devil doesn't kill you first.
  • In Outsider, faster-than-light travel involves jumping between solar system's gravity wells. Miscalculating the jump can result in colliding with the star whose system you're targeting, bouncing off of real space until you eventually re-embed, being stranded in hyperspace, or being liberated into negative hyperspace. There's also the side effect (in non-Soia-Liron organisms, such as humans) of bad dreams and nausea after a jump.
  • In a D&D-based Penny Arcade comic series, the inside of a character's Bag of Holding exists in an infinite void haunted by titanic Eldritch Abominations, but when you need to hide a baby, you need to hide a baby.

    Web Original 
  • Void Domain has a handful of methods for instant transportation. None are completely safe. Eva's literally slingshots her through Hell, while Zoe's is a shortcut into a frigid dead-white "Between" space that everybody but her finds profoundly disturbing.

    Web Videos 
  • Appears in this spoof ad for a medicine called Herpex, which treats the symptoms of genital herpes... and causes the person taking it to teleport. One guy notes that "that place you go to between places can be a little... intense", and as we see when he takes his camcorder with him as he teleports, said place is basically Hell.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Futurama episode "Mobiüs Dick", Leela's obsession with a fourth-dimensional Space Whale causes the Planet Express ship and its crew to be pulled into the fourth dimension (after Leela makes Amy harpoon the whale). Much Mind Screw ensues:
    Hermes: I can see sideways in time! Emit ni syawedis ees nac I!
  • The Web in ReBoot, is a bizarre and disturbing level of Cyber Space that acts as a counterpart to the organized Net. There are no apparent separate systems in the Web, it is simply a continuous flow of energy and data, resulting in constant hurricane looking storms. It can only be accessed by portals and is filled with strange monsters, not to mention exposure to the Web or its creatures is corrupting without protection. Nobody knows much about the place or how it works, but everyone in the Net fears it. It is the chaotic opposite of the Net and most believe that the Web would destroy the Net if a portal between the two realms was left open too long. In the season 3 finale Megabyte gets dragged into it by the Web Creature and when he comes back out he's been twisted into an insane borderline Eldritch Abomination who can mimic other sprites.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The episode "SB-129" has the white void where Squidward is all...alone.
  • Steven Universe: Homeworld starships travel at FTL speeds via "gravity engines". They create a gravitational singularity point (similar to a black hole) and use the massive gravitational pull to warp space-time, changing the definition of speed. The gravitational singularity is constantly created (and, presumably, evaporated in nanoseconds) in front of the ship, which basically causes it to "continuously fall" towards the singularity. It's freaky as hell; from inside the ship it basically looks like you're rocketing through a dark, multicolored void. The lighting is distorted and there's a weird 3D stereoscopic effect over everything. The Gravity Screw is so extreme that the ship has to maintain a "containment field" to protect passengers from the effects; when the field gets temporarily turned off on the ship the Crystal Gems are using, the gravity suddenly becomes so intense that Steven is pinned to his chair and has fight with all his strength to reach the control panel. One unique aspect is regarding the idea of Faster-Than-Light Travel: The bodies of Gems are just Hard Light constructs projecting from their real "bodies", the small stones located on some part of their figure. This presents an obvious problem; if the ship is going faster than light, it is therefore traveling faster than the bodies of the crew. The containment field isn't just there to protect against gravitational effects, it's also to make sure the the physical forms of the crew stay with the ship. When the field is turned off, their bodies lose pace with the ship and trail behind it, only "catching up" when it decelerates. According to Amethyst, experiencing this feels just as bizarre as it sounds.
  • Kup of the Transformers, a giant mechanical war veteran, is still given "the shivers" by hyperspace (known to the Autobots as "The Void").
  • In X-Men: Evolution, the dimension Nightcrawler teleports through is shown to be a hell-like place with lots of lava and monstrous red velociraptors dwell.... Despite all this Nightcrawler comments it was "Not a place I'd vacation, but still wild." Of course, then the beasties got out...

    Real Life 

Alternative Title(s): Hyperspace Is Scary

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