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Landmarking the Hidden Base

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Who would hide a secret base inside Mount Rushmore? Real Americans, that's who.

A hidden base would probably be best hidden in some bland ubiquitous building or under some random field or street. After all, bases would be easier for the enemy to find if you give them easy points of reference.

However in fiction that simply isn't dramatic enough, not only does your Evil Tower of Ominousness gain Evil Brownie Points for being cool and domineering, it also gains them if it is actually a well-known Real Life landmark you've taken over. An Elaborate Underground Base also gains kudos for being underneath, or very close to, somewhere with which viewers will be familiar. This actually goes both ways as heroes seem just as prone to settling in such a location as villains are.

Mount Rushmore is an oddly popular location; perhaps because it's easy to imagine those presidential heads not being made up of solid rock but instead holding masses of secret rooms inside. It must get awfully crowded in there.

Note this trope does not cover bases in or under fictitious landmarks like Fantastic Four's Baxter Building or "almost" landmarks like "The Jeffersonian Institute" in Bones. It also does not cover a fictional agency openly using a landmark as their base, such as UNIT operating out of the UN building in Doctor Who.

Of course this makes a Monumental Battle all the more likely to happen if and when the series has the base attacked.

Also see Weaponized Landmark, where the landmark shoots back; and Alternate Landmark History, for when there's something else unusual about the landmark.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Tamers used several floors of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building as HQ for HYPNOS.
  • Read or Die has its network of superspies based in a secret underground lair beneath the British Library. Justified in that they also work for the British Library.
  • Speed Racer villain Cornpone Brotch has a secret base under Mount Rushmore where he keeps an impressive collection of stolen art and cars.
  • In X1999, The Dragons of Heaven have their headquarters under the Diet Building, while the Dragons of Earth reside under the Tokyo Government offices.

    Comic Books 
  • The All-Star Squadron was based in the Trylon and Perisphere from the 1939 New York World's Fair. The Perisphere was their headquarters, and the Trylon was their Cool Garage.
  • In the earliest issues of Marvel's Alpha Flight, the super-secret Department H and their team of Canadian superheroes are headquartered directly beneath the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. Apparently we WANT supervillains to regularly blow up the historic seat of Canada's government, located on the busiest street in downtown Ottawa.
  • The teenaged antihero Anarky has his base of operations in the Washington Monument.
  • Possibly The Avengers Mansion, which is based on (but not confirmed to be) Frick House, a museum in Manhattan's Upper East Side.
  • Captain America: Red Skull established a secret base beneath Mount Rushmore in one story arc, using it to launch a bioweapon attack on the US.
  • A Fantastic Four tie-in novel had a supervillain (The Mad Thinker) craft a base in Mount Rushmore. Cue Reed sliding out of a nose. In the regular Marvel Universe, Mount Rushmore just tends to get blown up. Yes, more than once.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel): The Joes have a secret base that controls a Kill Sat hidden inside the Chrysler Building.
  • The Quorom, an all-purpose evil organization from Green Lantern, had one of its main bases under the Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. (and a villain containment pod under the Washington Monument). Not quite a good idea when heroes smash in through the roof.
  • In Hex, the Batman of the future had his secret base inside the Statue of Liberty. Granted in the post-apocalyptic future, it was probably no longer a tourist attraction, but it was still definitely a landmark.
  • In Invincible spinoff Guarding the Globe, Cecil shows team leader Brit around a new Guardians of the Globe satellite base — inside Big Ben. Brit isn't sold on the idea, and Cecil suggests having the Sphinx hollowed out to make room for a base there, too, maybe with a jet hangar. Brit can't tell if he's joking or not. He wasn't; a couple of issues later it's revealed that this is exactly what he did.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the League's headquarters is inside the British Museum.
  • Mr. Majestic, Wildstorm's Alternate Company Equivalent of Superman, has his headquarters inside (where else?) Mount Rushmore.
  • The Runaways second "Hostel" is an Elaborate Underground Base underneath the La Brea Tar Pits; it used to belong to their evil parents.
  • In Peter David's SpyBoy, the "good" spy team S.H.I.R.T.S. (Secret Headquarters International Reconnaissance, Tactics, and Spies) had their invisible headquarters suspended between the tops of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. (This got moved later, for obvious reasons.)
  • In Spyman, a short-lived title from Harvey Comics in the 1960s, the eponymous hero worked for the secret spy organisation LIBERTY who were headquartered inside the Statue of Liberty, the torch opening and closing as a launchpad.
  • In Superior Iron Man, while visiting San Francisco, Tony Stark built himself a futuristic base on Alcatraz Island. The X-Men also temporarily had a base on Utopia, an asteroid that crashed into San Francisco Bay.
  • Wynonna Earp: Black Rock, the top-secret containment facility for paranormal threats, is hidden inside Mount Rushmore. In this case, Mount Rushmore was constructed specifically to hide Black Rock.
  • The All-Purpose Emergency Squad (APES) from Young Justice had its headquarters inside Mount Rushmore.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Austin Powers
  • Boris and Natasha: Paulovitch has a laboratory inside Mount Rushmore that is accessed through Abraham Lincoln's nose.
  • In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, MACUSA headquarters is hidden inside the Woolworth Building in New York.
  • CONTROL headquarters was under the Smithsonian Castle in Get Smart. Inside an exhibit about CONTROL itself (which the exhibit claims was disbanded at the end of the Cold War), no less.
  • In Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Monarch have built some of their monster-monitoring outposts into landmarks like Angkor Wat and Loch Ness.
  • In the 1995 Judge Dredd film, Rico's secret cloning lab is located in the head of the Statue of Liberty.
  • The Man with the Golden Gun: The wreck of RMS Queen Elizabeth is used as an MI6 base.
  • In Mechanic Resurrection, an Arms Dealer has somehow turned the Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria into a submarine pen.
  • The Men In Black in Men in Black operate their New York headquarters underneath a ventilation tower for the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
  • In National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets the ancient mythical city of Cíbola was hidden behind Mount Rushmore. Or rather Mount Rushmore was created to hide Cíbola.
  • The villains in North By Northwest have a house on Mount Rushmore's peak.
  • The end of Now You See Me 2 reveals that The Eye has its headquarters inside Greenwich Observatory.
  • Q: The Winged Serpent nests in the top of the Chrysler Building in New York City.
  • The Return of Captain Invincible: Captain Invincible had a hidden base in the head of the Statue of Liberty... when he wasn't drunk off his mind in the Australian outback.
  • Part of the backstory for Stargate is that the Pyramids of Egypt were built to be landing pads and support facilities for Ancient Astronauts and their massive starships. The only pyramid we actually see being used for this in the movie is on the planet of Abydos, in the Kalium Galaxy.
  • In 1978's Superman: The Movie, Lex Luthor is hiding in a defunct wing of the DC equivalent of Grand Central Station. This example is unusual in that the police actually suspect Luthor's presence in there, but one detective is mowed down by a train when he gets too close.
  • Team America: World Police has the base in Mount Rushmore again.
  • Transformers Film Series
    • The first live-action Transformers movie had the FBI keeping Megatron and the All Spark inside Hoover Dam, which in the story was actually built to block out the Allspark's energy signature...or something.
    • Revenge of the Fallen had the Fallen's superweapon hidden inside of a pyramid in Egypt.

  • In the Alcatraz Series, our hero needs to infiltrate the Highbrary, the capital and ultimate base of the Evil Librarians, in order to bring his Love Interest out of her coma. It is, naturally, located directly under the Library Of Congress.
  • Arsčne Lupin's base in the Hollow Needle happens to be inside the Étretat Needle, a natural landmark of the Seine-Maritime.
  • In Brown Girl in the Ring, Toronto crime lord and obeah man Rudy has his offices in the main pod of the CN Tower.
  • Diogenes Club: Kim Newman's pulp homage/parody character Dr Shade apparently lives in a "secret" apartment in Big Ben. Since in Newman's world he's both a real adventurer and a magazine character (in a sort of takeoff of Direct Line to the Author), readers of the magazine wonder why it's described as secret. In "Cold Snap", his son says he still has the keys to the secret apartment but never uses it because he can't stand the incessant noise of the clockwork.
  • In the Doc Savage novel World's Fair Goblin, the villain has his secret lab hidden inside the Trylon and Perisphere at the New York World's Fair.
    • Doc himself lived on the top floor of the Empire State Building, although this wasn't a secret base. It was public knowledge.
  • In The Extraordinaires, the Immortals lair was beneath the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. Justified in that being at the prime meridian granted the location mystical significance.
  • In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Olympus is located above the Empire State Building, accessed via the elevator. Justified in that it's there precisely because the Empire State Building is so famous.
    • The Labyrinth in the Percy Jackson universe sprawls underneath much of the earth with entryways all over the place — including Alcatraz.
  • In the President's Vampire series, Cade's lair is in a secret chamber underneath the Smithsonian Castle.
  • The headquarters of Sigma Force is in the basement of the Smithsonian Castle. Handwaved by being a covert branch of the DoD and the necessity of its agents having access to all the labs and information contained within the Smithsonian Museum.
  • In School Supervision, the Inquisition's Saint Petersburg headquarters is in Saint Michael's Castle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: In "Testimony of a Traitor", Buck was accused of having helped foment World War III on November 22, 1987. A device to visualize Buck's memories seems to confirm his guilt, but he keeps flashing on Mount Rushmore. Buck manages to get to Mount Rushmore and finds that the President had a secret bunker inside. It turns out that Buck had been to the secret bunker where he was hypnotized to act as a double agent as part of a government operation to catch the conspirators who were trying to start the war.
  • The notorious Belgian mockumentary Bye Bye Belgium (a Flemish secession hoax reminiscent of Orson Welles The War of the Worlds broadcast) at one point reported the Brussels government holding an emergency meeting in a fictitious underground tenth ball of the Atomium.
  • Doctor Who does this a lot.
    • The Torchwood Institute has had bases:
    • UNIT has bases:
      • Under the Tower of London in "The Christmas Invasion" (revisited in "The Power of Three" and "The Day of the Doctor"). It beat their early place that had a conspicuous "Keep Out" sign. The Black Archive, a highly secure vault where they keep the most dangerous items, is part of this base.
      • The novelization of "The Christmas Invasion" says that UNIT built something inside 30 St. Mary Axe, and arranged for the skyscraper to be given its nickname, "The Gherkin" (gherkins are a kind of pickle), so that no one would suspect this.
      • In Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas, UNIT's top secret Museum of the Strange and Unusual, "the Vault", is under the Angel of the North. Lampshaded when Captain Matheson says "You thought we only had bases under London landmarks?" "The Day of the Doctor", however, Retcons it to be in London instead — which was then duly retconned again by Big Finish who stated that obviously you sometimes need two archives to keep certain exhibits apart from each other. So according to this, UNIT has both the Black Archive in the Tower of London and the Vault under the Angel of the North. The Screaming Skull, which establishes this, also claims that the Vault predates the Angel of the North, but UNIT was uncomfortable having a secret base not under a landmark — so they arranged to get one!
      • The Undergallery, first seen in "The Day of the Doctor", underneath the National Gallery in London. Apparently, some form of it has existed at least since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, as she appointed the Doctor to be its curator.
    • Various bad guys have based themselves in/under:
    • They make an attempt to justify many of these, explaining there is something important about the location or nature of the structure that they need. For example, the Torchwood Tower (Canary Wharf) exists because there was a rift high in the air, so they had to build a giant tower to reach it, The Hub's location was chosen due to its proximity with yet another rift and the Nestene Consciousness was using the London Eye as a giant transmitter to broadcast the signal controlling the Autons. In "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks", the Daleks attached Dalekanium strips to the top of the Empire State Building (which at the time was the tallest building on Earth) to kick-start a new race of hybrids with a solar flare.
    • Canary Wharf is also the headquarters of the British time-travelling military in an alternate 2006 visited by the First Doctor in the Past Doctor Adventures novel The Time Travellers. And the villain fought by the Sixth Doctor in the Missing Adventures novel Millennial Rites (for reasons broadly similar to the Tomorrow People villain).
  • Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere has an entire culture of "lost" people and things inhabiting the various stops of The London Underground.
  • Averted in Roswell. For some reason, the government keeps alien spaceships in secret basements under convenience stores, and in movie studios.
  • Stargate SG-1 had the Stargate under Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, which was the real-world home of NORAD. NORAD has since moved to Peterson Air Force Base, but the Cheyenne complex is kept on warm standby. Justified up the wazoo by the fact that this is an actual military base, so sticking a military base in it is hardly surprising. There are rumors that a door in the actual base is marked "Stargate Command", leading to a broom closet.
  • The Canary Wharf Tower one was done by the '90s remake of The Tomorrow People. The reasoning was that the immortal Egyptian villain needed to hide a power-focusing pyramid in the middle of London, hence the pyramidal top of the tower.
  • Warehouse 13 implied that Warehouses 1-12 were near the seat of power—the Pyramids of Giza and the British Museum were two examples.

    Video Games 
  • In Deus Ex, UNATCO's HQ and therefore a major MJ12 facility are both built on Liberty Island.
    • This one is justified in-game as a symbolic decision. UNATCO was founded in response to a terrorist attack that destroyed the Statue of Liberty.
  • Devil Survivor 2 has the JP's headquarters located right underneath the Diet Building in Tokyo.
  • EarthBound (1994) has a secret lab underneath Stonehenge (a Stonehenge, anyway, since Winters doesn't really seem to be on the Salisbury Plain).
  • In Evil Genius, a rival genius tried to build an underground lair inside the Great Wall of China, consisting of a single corridor. He was thwarted when Jet Chan invaded and used the interior of the wall to his advantage when fighting his minions.
  • Nearly everything in Fallout 3, since the game takes place in Washington, D.C. After the End. The most recognizable are probably the Washington Monument (Brotherhood of Steel and Three Dog's communications relay), the Pentagon (Brotherhood of Steel), the Mall and Museum of Science (Super Mutants), Museum of History (Ghouls), the Jefferson Memorial (Project Purity), the Lincoln Memorial (Slavers and eventually freed slaves), the ruined Capitol Building (in some ways the Bonus Dungeon), and the White House Crater.
    • Justified with the Pentagon and the Lincoln Memorial. The Brotherhood chose the Pentagon both because it was easily defensible and because it contained plenty of pre-War technology (including Liberty Prime). The slavers don't want slaves to be exposed to anything related to Abraham Lincoln.
  • Similarly, in Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 apparently a computer system linked to the United States anti-ballistic missile defense grid's mainframe is located under a dam in El Paso Texas.
  • LEGO Marvel Super Heroes features a HYDRA base located under the Empire State Building.
  • Due to the nature of the surface of post-apocalyptic Moscow in Metro: Last Light, this is not a common trope, but it hasn't stopped the Rangers from establishing an outpost in the ruins of St. Basil's Cathedral. Meanwhile, the Rangers' home station of Polis is located directly beneath the Moscow State Library.
  • In the Nasu Verse, the headquarters of the Mage's Association is located under the British Museum, despite being referred to as the Clock Tower.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is all about the terrible secret at the center of the Zone of Exclusion, buried deep within the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Conspiracy Theorists might also get a shudder at the inclusion of the Duga-3 Over-The-Horizon-Radar array's inclusion, known in Number Station circles as the Russian Woodpecker, suspected by some as being a Mind-Control Device or Weather-Control Machine. In the series, it does both. Not to be confused with the Brain Scorcher from the first game, which is merely based on the Duga-3.
  • In Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas, a top-secret Army Weapons Research Lab is located inside the lower levels of the Hoover Dam, which contains numerous highly dangerous weapons and vehicles. Why they just didn't do the research at nearby Area 51 isn't explained.
  • Vermillion Watch: Moorgate Accord: The Inferno Prison is underneath London Bridge (and the Thames), with entrance through a hidden door in one of the support pillars.

  • Though they maintain more conventional safehouses, The Chain in Necessary Monsters maintains a base under the Statue of Liberty called Liberty's Price. It's a huge cavern with occult symbols and an inverted, chained, tortured version of the Statue of Liberty as its centerpiece. However, Liberty's Price is implied to be older than the landmark built over it.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: In "Darksied Descending!", it is revealed that Batman has an auxiliary Batcave located under the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Ben 10 has the Plumbers' base inside the ever-popular Mount Rushmore. It's been destroyed more than once, but holograms are used to hide the damage.
  • Darkwing Duck: Darkwing's secret base is in St. Canard's Audoban Bay Bridge. In-universe this is the equivalent of a Manhattan-based hero hiding out in the Brooklyn Bridge. It is at least an iconic enough landmark that Negaduck enjoys the irony of using a magical power to bring the bridge to life and attack the city.
  • The Men In Black in Men in Black: The Series have their headquarters in a disused portion of New York's LaGuardia Airport.
  • In one episode of Phineas and Ferb, Dr. Doofenschmirtz has a hidden base inside Lincoln's head at Mount Rushmore.
  • The indie computer-animation short Pigeon: Impossible has a pigeon accidentally fall into a CIA agent's briefcase, activating a Big Red Button that launches a nuclear missile out of the Washington Monument.
  • Parodied on The Simpsons. In the "Treehouse of Horror VIII" segment "The Homega Man", a missile launch pad is under the Eiffel Tower.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, the Kingpin's lair is in the Chrysler building. There's a secret underground entrance so people not in the know won't find out where his base is (even though the lair's high ceiling looks like the interior of the Chrysler Building's spire might be expected to look). Of course, five seasons later, enough airborne bad guys have waltzed in and out that someone ought to suspect that something about that nice philanthropist Wilson Fisk isn't kosher.
  • Totally Spies!: WOOHP’s European HQ is located underneath the Eiffel Tower.
  • Parodied on The Venture Brothers The Monarch brags about how his base is in such a secret location that he flies by radar alone to get there, that it could be anywhere and nobody would find it... except that it's in the Grand Canyon and very visible.

    Real Life 
  • Gustave Eiffel built a private apartment for his own use on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
  • The White Cliffs of Dover hide a network of formerly secret underground tunnels.
  • Shuri Castle was used as the headquarters for the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle of Okinawa — specifically, the tunnel complex underneath the central buildings served as a major stronghold in the defensive and communication lines. The USS Mississippi shelled it during the battle, starting a fire that eventually destroyed the buildings by the time the castle was captured by United States Marines.
  • Walt Disney had a secret apartment within the iconic castle in the heart of Disney World.
    • This apartment unfortunately never got used since Walt passed away before the completion of the Magic Kingdom, and it sat unused for many years. Around the turn of the Millennium, the disused apartment was converted into "Cinderella's Room" and a stay here was advertised as the grand prize of a few contests. Since then, the apartment has seen very little use, and it's not actually possible to book this stay; it can only be won. Officially, anyway.
    • However, there is an apartment on the second floor of the Town Hall Fire Station on Disneyland's Main Street that Disney did use during the park's construction and for some time after it opened. It's a continuing tradition at Disneyland to always keep a light on in the apartment's window.
  • A civil defense bunker was built into the masonry architecture of the entrance ramp of the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge for use in case of Soviet nuclear attack. It was then forgotten about until a routine inspection came across it by accident in 2006, still stockpiled with blankets (marked "For Use Only After Enemy Attack") and cookies. Such bunkers and shelters were ubiquitous in cities across the US when nuclear attack was an everyday concern, but most were cleared out and closed down with the end of the Cold War.


Video Example(s):


America Fuck Yeah

The original plays strong as Team America goes on its first mission with Gary. Then the bummer version plays once Gary has left.

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