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Locked in a Room

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"That, my dear, is the classic telenovela trope known as the 'stuck in the elevator' scenario, in which two characters at odds are... stuck in an elevator."
Latin Lover Narrator, Jane the Virgin

Multiple (often two) characters, who usually share a large amount of animosity, get trapped in a room (safe, elevator, etc.) and must spend the episode alone together. During which time they learn a new appreciation for each other. Alterantively, a group of protagonists will be locked into a room with a door that does not open from the inside. While there, having nothing else to do, the characters will often engage in a Story Within a Story, whether it be retelling Bible stories or putting on a musical — until inevitably somebody opens the door and finds them all inside. When the newcomer tries to join in, the others already inside will shout "DON'T CLOSE THE DOOR!" but it will already be too late. This continues until every major character is inside and becomes a part of the tale. By the end of the plot, they will either be freed or give up on being freed entirely, instead opting to stay together and enjoy each other's company.

If being locked in the room also puts the characters in danger, then they are Locked in a Freezer. If their mates locked them there intentionally, to get them to resolve an issue or light a spark between them, it's also Ten Minutes in the Closet. If they must work together to accomplish something (such as escaping from the room), it's also Enemy Mine. If they're Locked in a Room and have no idea how they got there, that's You Wake Up in a Room, which is a type of Ontological Mystery. They're in trouble if one of them suffers from Claustrophobia. Sometimes takes the form of Subways Suck.

Usually a type of Bottle Episode, this trope is almost a requirement of any Sitcom that's been on for more than a couple of years.

This is also an extremely common trope for playwrights, particularly for short two-hander plays. In addition to being an easy way to force conflict, it makes set design much simpler.

Four walls are not a requirement - two characters locked out on a roof is essentially the same trope only without the claustrophobia. (In reality, most building codes state roof doors cannot lock on the outside, though, to prevent this from happening.)

See also Chained Heat, Rats in a Box, Room Escape Game, and Closet Punishment. Don't confuse with Anti-Interference Lock Up, where someone is locked up (often alone) so they can't interfere with a plan.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens to Shiro and Mozart in Afterschool Charisma, along with little Pandora. It's more to keep them safe than to make them get along, though, and they don't really learn a new respect for each other. Earlier, it looks like Napoleon and Ikkyu are going to do this to Shiro and Freud to help them reconcile... but they actually just throw them into the girls' locker room. While the girls are changing.
  • This is a major plot mechanic in Death Parade. Two characters enter a bar and are unable to leave until they play a game in which they stake their lives. The characters usually know each other: we meet a wife and husband and childhood friends, or they are related in some way, like a megafan and her idol or two victims of Domestic Abuse. Regardless of the nature of their relationship, the games always end up uncovering their traumas and developing their dynamic in some way. As it turns out this trope is justified as it is how the afterlife is set up. The characters are dead and are forced into an uncomfortable situation to be properly judged by Arbiters .
  • Subverted in Den-noh Coil. Yasako and Isako bond very slightly when they get locked in a room, and Isako later saves Yasako's little sister from a dangerous situation, but she ultimately remains as distant and antagonistic as before.
  • In Hitohira Nono and Mirei wind up in the store room with each other, which gives them a chance to discuss their differences. The fact that Nono just lost her voice (or fakes it) doesn't make things easier.
  • Chapter 78 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has Kaguya and Shirogane checking the equipment for the upcomming sports festival, only for the door to get jammed due to a tree branch. The thing is, they're so used to their ongoing Battle of Wits that both are convinced that the other is pulling an elaborate scheme to force them to confess, unaware of the actual danger they're in given the isolated location and the fact neither is carrying a phone. They almost end up having their first kiss when Shirogane falls on top of Kaguya, only for Iino to open the door at the last second (which ends up being an important plot point for the next several chapters).
  • An episode of Magic User's Club has Sae and Ayanojyo locked in a closet, with Sae more and more unnerved as she realizes how long it might be before someone finds them. The audience thinks it's sexual tension between her and the attractive Bishōnen... and then, when she's finally freed, the true problem is discovered as she races to the nearest bathroom.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion,
    • Shinji and Asuka are forced to spend an episode locked in a room so they can learn how to work in perfect sync with each other, in order to defeat an Angel which split into two parts that also move in perfect sync. (Admitedly, half this and half 'chained together')
    • Misato and Kaji get stuck in an elevator, which increases the tension of their relationship.
    • Downplayed with the infamous 'elevator scene' between Rei & Asuka. It's only a few minutes, but it spends those minutes building up silent tension because Asuka has grown to hate Rei. When Rei decides to speak...
  • Has happened twice in One Piece so far.
    • The first time is in the Alabasta arc. Captain Smoker is pursuing the Straw Hats, and due to Luffy's idiocy, they fall through a trapdoor into an inescapable cage, courtesy of the saga's Big Bad, Crocodile. He proceeds to spell out his Evil Plan, and Smoker learns that the Straw Hats are only there to help the country's princess foil the plan. Once they escape, and Zoro saves Smoker from drowning, he lets them go, and leaves to inform his superiors of what he learned. He has a newfound respect for the Straw Hats by the saga's end, when they have saved the country.
    • Occurrence number 2, post-Time Skip. Vice-Admiral Smoker and his protégé, Captain Tashigi, are waiting for the Straw Hats in the New World. When the pirates take an unexpected detour, to an island that is supposed to be uninhabited, they follow them. They soon discover that the arc's Big Bad, a Mad Scientist, is using it as a base. Long story short, they learn too much and are imprisoned along with three members of the Straw Hat crew (including Robin, who was Crocodile's Dragon and lampshades the situation's irony) and the Big Bad's subordinate who was revealed to be a Wild Card, Warlord of the Sea Trafalgar Law. They watch the Evil Plan play out in front of them, and are then exposed to it. When they escape, Smoker and Tashigi are forced into a full-blown Enemy Mine, and are almost friendly with the Straw Hats when it's all over.
  • Rito and Haruna find themselves in this situation, and in true To Love Ru fashion, they're naked.
  • In Toradora!, Ryuuji and Minori are locked in a warehouse together for a while.
  • The Mobile Suit Gundam SEED episode "War for Two" sees Athrun and Cagalli (then-enemies on the verge of becoming love interests) stranded on an unnamed Pacific island, where they confront each other and themselves about things they have done and mistakes they have committed until then.
  • One episode of Code Geass sees Lelouch, Suzaku, Kallen, and Princess Euphemia stranded pairwise on an uninhabited island. Lelouch gets to spend time with his half-sister Euphemia, while the piloting rivals Suzaku and Kallen get to work out their differences.
  • Chapter twelve of Omujo Omutsu Joshi has Morei call Shouta to a gym storage room to make a second attempt at confessing her love, the first having failed due to Shouta misinterpreting Morei's trying to appeal to what she incorrectly thought was his fetish as Morei confessing her fetish. They get locked in the storeroom and only escape when, in embarrassment after a Potty Emergency becomes Potty Failure, Morei punches Shouta through the door.
  • Komi Can't Communicate has a chapter where Komi and Tadano get locked in a gym storage room, giving the two of them a chance to catch up on everything that had happened recently while they wait for someone to let them out. Amusingly, since Komi has an ongoing agreement with her friend Manbagi to support each other's feelings for Tadano, she later suggests that Manbagi should lock herself in a storage room with him as well to even the score, which she agrees to.
  • She's My Knight: In Chapter 8, Mogami and Ichinose are trapped in the gym storage shed, and end up embracing because Mogami is afraid of thunder. Of course, this is exactly when their friends find them, and they scramble to say it's Not What It Looks Like.
  • In Chapter 39 of Hitomi-chan Is Shy with Strangers, Yuu and Hitomi get locked in a storage room by accident. Hitomi tries climbing out through the window, but she can't fit her bust through. Tachibana-sensei opens the door just as Hitomi has fallen on top of Yuu after he pulled her back through the window. She smiles and says she'll act like she didn't see anything.
  • Invoked in Chapter 38 of Tales of Wedding Rings when Elder Peridot locks Satou and the princesses in the Romca library. The library's single door can only be opened through the magic of the rings, meaning that the party can't get out unless they strengthen that magic by deepening their bonds... preferably in a way that allows the Elder to indulge her voyeurism fetish. It takes them a week, but they find a more platonic means of gaining the power needed to open the door.

    Comic Books 
  • After one of the fallings out of Katchoo and Francine, the main characters of the comic Strangers in Paradise, their mutual friends David and Casey trick them into a sound booth at a small record studio, then handcuff them together, lock them in, drop the key down Casey's front, and watch from the two-way mirror until the two reconcile. Again.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table: Brian, Dave, and Bob once locked themselves in Brian's basement. This story gave some insight into Brian's previously nebulous back-story.
  • One comic in Dance Class had one of the teachers passing by the dance studio with the occupants trying to wave him down. He thinks it's a dance routine they came up with and enters the room until they inform him that the knob on the door is stuck and they were trying to get him to open the door for them. Cue him and the others trying to wave down another passerby.

    Fan Works 
  • An unused concept for a Calvin & Hobbes: The Series episode had the five protagonists, the MTM, and Elliot all locked in a room together, all while a mysterious force is manipulating them.
  • In Lockdown a group of Gryffindors and Slytherins end up trapped in the Potions classroom due to a magic-seeking curse bomb having been set off in the entrance hall.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug fanfic Volpina, the Accidental Matchmaker, Lila gets Akumatized into Volpina out of frustration at Adrien's inability to recognize Marinette's crush on him, and, after a simpler attempt fails, locks them in the nearest locker room. The end result is in the title.
  • In Reparations after Draco's chemical-dependency patients observe his and Harry's typical antagonism, one locks them in the supply closet together.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prince of Slytherin, Harry interrupts a violent duel between Sirius and Snape by disarming them and leaving them locked up together. He then has Dobby deliver a bottle of Firewhiskey.
  • In The Final Curse Ron and Pansy's friends lock them in a hotel room because Ron keeps ignoring their status as soulmates.
  • In Pretty Little Secrets Harry locks Sirius and Remus in a room because they refuse to re-affirm their dying soulmate bond.
  • In Chemical Attraction or How Harry Deduced He Was Gay Ron and Draco's mothers lock them in a room for a week until they agree to end their hostility.
  • In Feeling for Understanding Dumbledore locks Harry and Snape in the Potions classroom until they achieve a certain level of understanding for one another.
  • Inverted in Retracted Resolve, where Yang locks Weiss out of their dorm room and won't let him or Ruby in until Weiss confesses how he feels about her.
  • In A Jock and a Hard Place, Danny and Dash try to avoid a hostile ghost in their school by momentarily hiding in a janitor's closet together, but when the creature leaves, they discover they're locked in. Since this happens at the end of a Friday, they'll be trapped until Monday unless they find a way out... and Danny can't even use his powers to phase himself and Dash back out as a last resort, because the closet is surrounded by a ghost shield. Turns to Locked in a Freezer when a further layer of defenses suddenly kicks on and automatically tries to destroy the ghost in the closet, aka Danny.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Breakfast Club revolves around a bunch of students serving a Saturday detention, locked inside their school's library. They eventually end up as close friends.
  • Carnage (2011) is about two sets of parents who meet in one set's apartment to discuss a fight their kids had. They are free to leave, one assumes, but Black Comedy ensues nonetheless. All four actors have won or been nominated for Academy Awards.
  • Cryptz: Likrish ends up being locked in a room by the vampires, and spends a lot of time trying to break out by hitting the door with bones he finds around the floor.
  • The four kids in The Hole are Locked in a Bunker. Lord of the Flies shenanigans ensue.
  • Referenced in one John Wayne movie.
    "Two men spend a long winter snowed-in in a shack. They either walk out good friends or..."
    "One of them walks out alone."
  • In Judas Kiss, Coco tells Lizard the story of how she and Junior first met when they got locked inside a supermarket cold room during a break-in gone wrong. By the next morning, they were a couple.
  • No Exit: A snow storm forces bunch of random strangers into a remote tourist welcoming center somewhere in the Sierra Nevadas and once the weather goes to shit, they are effectively stranded inside.
  • Invoked in The Parent Trap (1998), when the camp counselors force the twins to bunk together to work out their issues.
  • Lisa and Jackson from Red Eye are Locked in a Plane. By the end of the flight? They definitely don't kiss and make up.
  • Saw:
    • The first film is about two men waking up in a decrepit bathroom, chained to metal pipes on opposite ends of the room from each other, and they have to figure out why they're there, who put them there, and how to escape, while one of them is forced to kill the other to save his family from being shot.
    • Saw II has the main game's victims locked in the Nerve Gas House (of which the previous film's Bathroom is part of, as revealed at the end), expecting to work together to escape.
    • Saw IV has three victims trapped in a room inside the Gideon Meatpacking Plant. They're not necessarily locked in it, but if the room's door opens, two of them die. Rigg blows the trap and causes all but one of them (who was first implied to be a victim of the aforementioned two) to die.
    • Saw V provides an interesting example: each of the four traps in the main game is seemingly designed so that one person has to die for the others to move on, but all five could have survived to the end if they had worked together. "Five will become one" works on so many levels.
  • Based on a play of the same name, The Sunset Limited is set entirely within a dingy apartment and only has two characters.

  • Septimus Heap: Septimus and Simon in Darke, when they are hiding from the Darke Domaine.
  • Done intentionally in David Eddings' The Belgariad. When Polgara finds that the bickering heirs of two rival countries are male and female, her solution to the feud is to lock the two together in a room, wait until the shouting stops, and then officiate the resulting wedding. Implausibly enough, this plan works perfectly.
  • Done to a couple of minor characters in a few different David Eddings series. Usually at Polgara (or her Expy's) behest.
  • In The Hunting of the Snark, the Butcher and Beaver both happen to choose the same spot to hide from boojums. The Butcher ends up teaching the Beaver some mathematics and natural philosophy, and they soon become good buddies.
  • The Nancy Drew mystery novels were written (by uncredited authors under a house pseudonym) for children and teens, therefore the editors were adamant that teen sleuth Nancy Drew could not ever be tied up, chained, or shackled, since these bondage predicaments could have sexual implications. But it was recognized that, for plot purposes, a story's villain might have a legitimate need to restrain Nancy's movements. The only acceptable way to do this was for the villain to lock Nancy in a room, leaving her completely unfettered within the room but unable to leave.
  • Room by Emma Donoghue. The book is about a mother and her five-year-old child who are kept captive in a small room for years by a kidnapper. The child was born in the room and has never been outside in his life. Has since been made into an Oscar-winning movie.
  • Happens to two main characters in Jackie Collins' novel Chances. Luckily, nothing happens.
  • Angel Child, Dragon Child: When Raymond and Ut get into a fight at school, the principal takes them to an empty classroom and makes them sit and talk out their problems.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Brady Bunch: Used this at least three times, each with Bobby involved:
    • "Little Big Man," where he locks himself with oldest brother Greg in the meat locker at Sam's Butcher Shop, somehow figuring the cold will escape. Bobby is small enough to fit through the window and save the day.
    • "Bobby's Hero," where Greg and Peter — annoyed once and for all at Bobby playing Jesse James with them every time they turn around — decide to teach him a lesson by locking him in the foyer-way closet and locking it. Their father, Mike, puts a quick end to things, playing the judge and telling Sheriff Greg and Deputy Peter to release the inmate immediately ... but Bobby's in for a real butt-chewing afterward (Mike screams into Bobby's ear to tell him to knock it off — permanently and immediately — with the Jesse James act).
    • "My Brother's Keeper," when Bobby and Peter, who had annoyed each other throughout the episode and still continued to test each other's nerves, nearly come to blows in their room. Bobby runs for cover inside the closet, but then the doorknob on the other side of the door falls off, locking him in. Peter leaves him in there for awhile, but then lets him out later once he realizes that Bobby is locked inside.
  • Smallville uses this trope a lot.
    • "Lockdown": Lex and Lana are locked in an overheating panic room.
    • "Mercy": Lionel and Martha are locked in an elevator.
    • "Nemesis": Lex and Clark are trapped in bomb-infested tunnels.
    • "Gemini": Chloe and Jimmy are trapped in an elevator.
    • "Descent": Lois and Jimmy are locked in a freezer.
  • I Spy raises this trope to an art form, as main characters Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott are locked in a room together in many an episode, giving them ample opportunity to flex their often hilariously witty repartee while attempting a frequently humorous escape.
  • This trope occurs on nearly every single episode of Vic TOR Ious.
  • In one episode of Drake & Josh, Megan locks Drake and Josh in a tree house.
  • iCarly:
    • The trio in iSpace Out.
    • The same thing happens when they're held hostage in the second half of iPsycho.
    • Done intentionally in iSam's Mom.
    • Spencer is trapped in a box For Science! in iOMG. The entire school population is locked into the school for an overnight project, which eventually leads to a Relationship Upgrade between Sam and Freddie.
  • NCIS:
    • The season 3 episode "Boxed In" is about Tony and Ziva getting trapped in a shipping container and the rest of the team trying to find them.
    • In the season 10 premier "Extreme Prejudice", Tony and Ziva are trapped in an elevator together and considering how much they bickered in the aforementioned season 3 episode, they seemed to have a bit more of a bonding experience this time around...
  • Happens to Susan and Edie during the fifth season of Desperate Housewives. It turns into a Truth-Telling Session... which ends with Edie throwing old magazines at Susan.
  • One episode of the NBC drama Las Vegas is an episode titled "The Night the Lights Went Out in Vegas". On a quiet night at the Montecito Hotel & Casino, the gaming area is almost empty save for a few people, since most of Vegas is at a highly anticipated magic show elsewhere. Suddenly, the power to the entire city goes out, and at the casino, a gunshot rings out, followed by a scream. The Pit Boss, the Casino Host and the Manager are locked in the gaming area with a bunch of strangers and a dead body with a bullet wound, which means someone among them is the murderer. The casino's entire security team, running on a skeleton crew, is locked in the Surveillance Room, unable to resolve the situation, which escalates due to one person's Claustrophobia. Two characters with off-the-charts UST are trapped in an elevator with a short, silent man who won't stop smiling. Needless to say, the episode is the high point of an otherwise ordinary series, and since it has a stand-alone story it's perfectly enjoyable even if you haven't watched the rest of the show and don't know anything about it.
  • Due South has Fraser and Ray Vecchio locked in a meat freezer during the first season, then in a bank vault during the second season.
  • In Grey's Anatomy, George and Alex are trapped in an elevator and are forced to perform an emergency operation on a patient with a gunshot wound. Leads to the first prominent case of Character Development in the show.
  • The premise is repeatedly and relentlessly beaten to a pulp in the That's My Bush! episode "Trapped in a Small Environment".
  • Blake's 7:
    • "Redemption" has Avon and Jenna in a cell together. Technically, they're allies, but that doesn't mean they like each other!
    • "Sand" has enemies Tarrant and Servalan stranded on a planet together, then stuck in a room that's buried in sand together. The end up consummating their Foe Romance Subtext.
    • Darkly subverted in "Orbit" when Avon and Vila become trapped on a sabotaged shuttle that's doomed to crash. At first, they try to work together to solve the problem, but Avon's pragmatism and self-preservation instincts end up getting the better of him, leading to him trying to take drastic measures to save himself. By the end of the episode, their relationship has been permanently damaged.
  • Babylon 5: The episode "Day of the Dead" has several people locked in different rooms with ghosts. Some are lost loves, some are friends they lost, at least one has a mortal foe giving snarky advice.
  • A variation of this occurred in Kenan & Kel, where people arriving in said room ended up getting locked in by the closing door.
  • The penultimate episode of The Prisoner (1967), "Once Upon a Time", features the most byzantine of all the Village's plots to break the hero: "Let's lock you in a room for six days with The Dragon while he hypnotizes you and digs up your repressed memories like an evil Sigmund Freud."
  • The Pretender has an episode in which Sydney and Miss Parker are trapped in the basement of an abandoned building. Sydney tells her about how the Centre, at one time, actually had good intentions and helped people.
  • Night Court examples:
    • In "The Blizzard", the homophobic Dan Fielding is trapped in an elevator with a gay man.
    • In "Earthquake", Dan and Roz are trapped in an elevator with two sumo wrestlers.
  • Star Trek:
  • House:
    • The main thrust of "One Day, One Room" is a patient refusing to speak to anybody other than House (he explicitly describes himself as "trapped in the room with her"), and the two of them forcing each other to confront their demons (being victims of rape and paternal abuse, respectively).
    • "Lockdown" has several pairs of characters trapped together; Wilson and Thirteen, Taub and Foreman, Chase and Cameron, and House and a dying patient.
  • Eastenders has done about fifteen of these.
  • One Foot in the Grave has episodes with the main character alone in his house, or in the dark with a power cut, and there is one episode in which he and his wife are stuck in a traffic jam. There is actually one episode which is just Victor and Margaret in their bedroom late at night trying to fall asleep. Technically, the door isn't locked, but the episode is essentially just thirty minutes of the two of them arguing. In the end, they get absolutely nowhere.
  • In Burn Notice, Michael gets stuck in a hostage situation with Agent Bly, who up to this point had been a major pain in Michael's ass, and vice versa. They have to work together to get out of the situation (with Bly shot, no less) and end up with a mutual respect.
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip has one of these episodes, only different: Jordan and Danny are trapped on the roof of a building. They lampshade it as something out of the plot of a sitcom, but it still follows the traditional form.
  • The tenth season Murphy Brown episode "From the Terrace" has many characters trapped on the terrace of their new space.
  • Daphne and Niles in Frasier spend an episode trapped on their roof, where they were supposed to be having a romantic date.
  • In the Dawson's Creek episode The Tao of Dawson, Joey gets locked in a storage closet with the hated Drue Valentine, and ends up softening towards him... only for it to turn out that he could have called for help whenever he wanted.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
      • "Homecoming" has the deliberate version. When Buffy falls out with Cordelia, the rest of the Scoobies conspire to lock the two in a limousine on the way to the Homecoming Queen dance with a note telling them to sort it out. Subverted because not only do they spend the entire journey arguing snidely over who should have which corsage, the journey then ends in the middle of nowhere, at which point bad guys appear and start hunting them down like animals... which actually does cause them to bond a little, in between running from gunmen and fighting demons.
      • Played straight in "What's My Line, Part 2". Xander and Cordelia are trapped in Buffy's basement with The Worm That Walks lurking upstairs. They start arguing about whether or not to break out, degrading into Volleying Insults which due to Belligerent Sexual Tension ends in The Big Damn Kiss. They then break apart, stare at each other in horror, and mutually agree to break out immediately.
    • Averted in Angel. Angel is furious with Cordelia because she rejected Angel's love only to sleep with his son. Later they're both on guard duty, in the same room for four hours.
      Cordy: So, all this time alone together. Could be good for us. Maybe we should talk.
      Angel: Maybe we shouldn't.
      Cordy: Valid point.
  • Family Ties had an episode where Mallory and Skippy were locked in a basement together.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In "Zero Hour", courtesy of the unique command style of General O'Neill. To force a pair of alien delegates to behave like adults and come to an agreement, he puts them in 'time out' together in a small room. With a fruit basket. In all fairness, it does work.
    • In a nod to this, Sheppard suggests something similar with the leaders of two soon-to-be warring villagers, but Weir turns him down. Given later events, everyone would have been saved some trouble had she ok'd it.
  • The West Wing: The episode "No Exit" traps four pairs of people in a White House lockdown, giving them time to argue and come to terms with each other. Ish.
  • Done in Birds of Prey (2002), wherein Helena and her wannabe boyfriend Detective Reese get locked into a sauna together. Tto avoid overheating, they both have to strip down to their skivvies.
  • All in the Family:
    • The first-season episode "The Elevator Story" has Archie get stuck in a stalled elevator with, among other people, a supercilious black businessman and a Puerto Rican man whose wife is going into labor.
    • In "Two's a Crowd", Archie and Mike get locked in the storeroom of Archie's bar. (This, after Archie had locked himself in the basement of his house a few seasons earlier; you'd think he would have learned...)
  • The Bob Newhart Show: Bob and Emily spend the 1976 Bicentennial locked in their apartment building's storage room.
  • Played straight with a twist on Gimme a Break!. Nell is trapped in a basement after an earthquake with a Hispanic woman who only understands Spanish. To top it off, she's also deaf.
  • In the third and final chapter of the 1996 Only Fools and Horses Christmas trilogy, "Time On Our Hands", Del Boy deliberately stops an elevator in order to force Rodney to open up to him about his wife Cassandra's miscarriage. As a nod to the frequency of the trope, Del then repairs the lift, revealing that it was never broken in the first place.
  • Friends has done this at least four times, the first time early in the first season with Ross, Susan and Phoebe locked in a janitor's closet during Carol's labour. The second is when everyone else is trapped together in Monica's bedroom by Ross and Rachel breaking up outside. The third is later, with Ross and Joey locked out on the roof after trying to watch a meteor shower. The fourth is during a citywide blackout, when Chandler is locked in an ATM vestibule with supermodel Jill Goodacre.
    "Is it a vestibule? Maybe it's an atrium. Oh, yeah, that is the part to focus on, you idiot!"
  • Doubly subverted in My Name Is Earl. The heads of two rival prison gangs were locked in a solitary cell together by a savvy warden. Once they got out, the fighting was worse than ever, but Earl later discovers that not only did the two leaders secretly make up, they became Star-Crossed Lovers.
  • Happened with nearly every main character in The 4400 episode "No Exit". They had to work together to survive and escape a building that was trying to kill them (long story). In the end it was revealed to be Marco's assistant PJ who was causing it, having taken promicin. Shawn died but recovered, having sorted out at least a few issues with Isabelle and Kyle. Meghan also died, got better, and got more UST with Tom. Maia and Diana had mother-daughter bonding time. Tom got a better understanding of Jordan, although they still seemed to hate each other.
  • Masterfully subverted in the episode "Dawg Days" from The Shield. After an escalating feud between two gang members threatens to spiral out of control, a group of police officers lock them together in a storage container overnight, they jokingly assume that the normal course of events will occur and the two will settle their differences. However, when they return the next morning one of the gang members walks out and proclaims of his 'container-mate' "he ain't coming".
  • Hancock (i.e. Hancock's Half Hour, after it was shortened to 25 minutes) episode "The Lift", with nine people in a lift designed for eight (though at the end the lift breaks down again with only two people in it).
  • M*A*S*H has several of these episodes. An early one has Trapper getting locked in a supply hut with Margaret Houlihan, resulting in a certain amount of sexual tension. Probably the most famous one is "Comrades in Arms", in which Hawkeye and Margaret are trapped behind enemy lines and take shelter in an abandoned hut. Debate rages as to whether or not They Did It.
  • In Kate & Allie, when the two title characters were having a fight, the kids handcuffed them together in the kitchen, through a counter — and then left.
  • In Moonlighting, David Addison and Maddie Hayes get stuck in an elevator, and finally have to deal with Maddie's pregnancy and her avoidance of David going on for months prior to this. Once they're free the audience learns that Agnes and MacGillicudy sabotaged the elevator to enforce this trope on Dave and Maddie.
  • The Goodies managed to trap themselves in their being encased in a block of concrete.
  • In the Battlestar Galactica (2003) episode "No Exit", Ellen Tigh, a Sharon, and a Cavil are in one room together for the whole episode, with the point being Cavil getting his existential issues off his chest. It doesn't work.
  • In the Eureka episode "If You Build It...", Larry and Fargo get locked in the trunk of a car together.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will gets stuck in the basement with his girlfriend. They really start getting on each other's nerves.
  • An interesting version appears in Heroes when Peter gets himself stuck inside Sylar's head while the latter is in a telepathy-induced coma. Naturally, they start seething at each other, complete with Sylar getting punched in the teeth. They end up having to draw a truce at the end of the episode, which allows them both to escape and wake up from their comas.
  • Castle:
    • In "Setup", Beckett and Castle are locked up while they are tested for radiation poisoning and again in the same episode when they are locked in a freezer to freeze to death.
    • In "Cuffed", Castle and Beckett wake up in a locked room, handcuffed together on a bed with no memories of how they got there. Tensions mount when a hungry tiger breaks into the room.
    • Lampshaded by Esposito when Ryan mentions that he and Jenny are driving down to Florida, rather than flying, for the holidays. Espo tells him this is a "relationship test" where Jenny can air any pre-wedding concerns she has, while he can't escape.
  • In Peep Show, Mark and Jeremy spend the best part of an episode locked in a stairwell.
  • Happens more than once on Diagnosis: Murder . One episode sees Steve and Jack locked in a room where Jack proceeds to have a panic attack due to his severe Claustrophobia. Another episode sees Steve and Jesse trapped in a room in the hospital after the hospital is blown up by a bomber and the door is blocked. The latter lead to the pair discussing what careers they would have chosen had they not became a policeman and a doctor. Jesse mentions that he wanted to own a BBQ restaurant, which he and Steve then do in the following episode and continue to do for the next 3 seasons.
  • In Benson, this seemingly happens at least once per season.
  • In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Mom and Dad", Barney notices his divorced parents Jerome and Loretta are Amicable Exes, and gets them trapped in an elevator as part of a Zany Scheme to get them back together. They realise what Barney is trying to do, and Barney's half-brother James (who wants his own dad to be reunited with Loretta) eventually rescues them.
  • Happens twice in Red Dwarf, first with Vitriolic Best Buds Lister and Rimmer stuck in Starbug that crashed onto an ice planet in "Marooned", then with the whole cast (Lister, Kryten, Kochanski, and the Cat) in the air ducts of Starbug in "Duct Soup".
  • Supernatural has a variation in season 3. Dean traps a demon in a devil's trap in a basement, but she triggers a storm that blocks the door out. Because he lost his exorcism handbook and can't remember the incantation, they are trapped together until Sam comes to the rescue.
  • Falling Skies has another "trapped beneath rubble" version with Tom and Dingaan trapped in the rubble beneath an alien ship after a battle. They manage to climb up into the crashed ship. Then they accidentally trip the self-destruct sequence...
  • Chuck and Sarah get locked in a trunk together in the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami". Note that this is while they're on the outs with each other, after Chuck has wanted to renounce their cover and date other women...
  • In one episode of Welcome Freshmen, Alex, Kevin, and Mr. Lippman are all to act in the school play, only Grant is upset that Alex will be kissing Kevin in the play, while Kevin was hoping a girl he wants to kiss would be cast instead of Alex, so before the play starts, Kevin locks Alex in the closet right before Grant decides to lock Kevin in there, and then Mr. Lippman gets locked in.
  • In one episode of Sesame Street, Gordon, David, Buffy, and Luis all get locked on the roof after the building inspector noticed the door was left unlocked (unaware that somebody was on the roof), right when it starts to rain.
  • In the Fraggle Rock episode "Marooned", Red and Boober get trapped in a cave-in.
  • In the Breaking Bad episode "4 Days Out", White and Jesse elect to go out to the middle of nowhere to cook for four straight days. Little did they suspect that the battery on their car would run out, trapping the boys out in the wilderness. What's worse, the backup generator they brought would be ruined by Jesse, leaving them without water in the middle of the hot New Mexico desert. After all attempts fail to get back, White and Jesse are forced to come to terms with each other, through delirious dehydration, and work together. When all hope seems lost, the boys collectively figure out how to create a battery and jump the RV, making it back home.
  • Person of Interest:
    • In "Aletheia", John Reese and Detective Fusco get thrown into the clink by the local sheriff after having a punch-up, with Fusco complaining that the sheriff doesn't respect his NYPD badge. But after giving Reese the Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! speech he didn't want to listen to before, Fusco just tells the sheriff to let them out.
    • In "Til Death", the Victims of the Week are a married couple who both hired a hitman to kill the other. Reese and Finch end up kidnapping them and locking them up in a safe house to resolve their issues.
  • Death in Paradise: In "The Complex Murder", Dwayne and JP get locked inside a shipping container that is being used as a lock-up. We then discover that Dwayne — who has been riding JP all episode because of his fear of drowning — suffers from Claustrophobia.
  • In the Parks and Recreation episode "Leslie and Ron", the gang is fed up with Leslie and Ron's feud and lock the two of them up in the Parks Department office for the whole night so they can resolve their differences.
  • The Partridge Family: In "To Play or Not to Play", the band is scheduled to play at an establishment whose employees are on strike. Laurie refuses to play because she doesn't want to be a strikebreaker. To end the strike, Danny locks himself, the manager, and one of the employees in an office and refuses to open the door unless they come to an agreement. Within two hours, the manager has agreed to almost all of the employee's demands.
  • In the Broad City episode "Citizen Ship", Abbi, Ilana, and Bevers accidentally lock themselves in a storage room. When their attempts at summoning help and ramming the door fail, they pass the time by playing "would you rather."
  • So Awkward: In "None of Your Business", Mr. Malone and Lou get trapped in the basement of the café, while chaos reigns above as the power of being temporary manager goes to Ollie's head.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Ye Gods", Todd Ettinger uses a spell provided by Bacchus to trap Cupid and Megaera in his office so that they can reconcile. They eventually manage to do so and get back together.
  • 18 to Life: In "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", the parents get trapped in Phil's garage with unresolved tensions and hash brownies.
  • Love & War: In "Something's Got to Give", Jack and Dana discover that their feelings for each other have reached a new level when they get stuck in an elevator at the Empire State Building.
  • Gossip Girl: happens more than once. The first is coincidental, when Dan and Serena are stuck in an elevator together during a blackout; this exacerbates the tension between them and they break up by the time the elevator opens. Enforced twice more, both times to cause a reconciliation between Blair and Serena; first Chuck traps them both in an elevator with champagne and macarons, secondly Dorota locks them both in Blair's dining room.
  • The Nanny: In "Whine Cellar", Fran and C.C. get stuck inside the Sheffield household's wine cellar. They try to chat, but C.C. gets increasingly exasperated by Fran's propensity to have Seinfeldian Conversations.
  • In one episode of Bones, Booth and Brennan are stuck in an Elevator Failure and talk out their romantic issues while trapped.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: In season three episode two, "Guide to: Reading and Principals", all the applicants for the new principal job become trapped and continue their own plot similarly.
  • It's a Living: In season four ep 1, "The Roof Show", Sonny gets stuck on the roof, and as each waitress comes up to tell him to get back to work they one by one also get stuck there, leaving Nancy, Howard and Amy to handle the restaurant by themselves.
  • Spin City: In season two ep, "Gentlman's Agreement", the Mayor comes under fire for going to a club that exclusive to males. He ends up stuck in a spa when a reporter waits outside to catch him in the act. Mike tries to get his staff to cause a distraction so they can slip the mayor out undetected, but miscommunication ends up with all the staff coming into the spa room. Mike ultimately solves the problem by calling the press and having the Mayor state the club is abolishing the male only rule and going co-ed, helped by the staff coming out of the spa in towels to cement the statement.
  • In Fred: The Show, the Nickelodeon series which is based on the YouTube series, Fred and Holly get stuck in the basement but look through old memorabilia of his life. In the end, it is discovered that Fred never even tried to turn the doorknob.

  • Paul Nicholas' "Heaven On The 7th Floor" is a song about himself and a woman being stuck in an elevator together and falling in love with each other. But since he doesn't mind what happens, he tells people not to rescue him.

  • In the episode "Pan-Pan" of Wolf 359, a malfunction on the Hephaestus causes Minkowski, Hilbert, Lovelace, and the ship's AI Hera to be trapped in a very cold room for several hours as Hera tries to debug the problem. Tensions were already high due to Eiffel's (apparent) death, and eventually everything boils over.

  • An episode of Adventures in Odyssey had Whit trapped in an elevator with a loud-mouthed radio personality...and a bomb. In the end the bomb turned out to be fake and it was all a mean-spirited practical joke.
  • Lampshaded in the What Does the K Stand For? episode "Riot". After describing his Amazingly Embarrassing Parents, Stephen says:
    Stephen: So, as you can imagine, the worst thing that could have happened to me back then would be to be stuck in a room with those two for days on end in some kind of strange siege situation, right? And we wouldn't do the "holed up together in a room" kind of hell episode of a sitcom, would we? You'd better believe it.

  • No Exit has three people, each with their own issues, trapped together in a room in hell. But not only can't they help each other, but they were specially chosen to keep each other company for eternity, tormenting each other's weaknesses with their own character defects.
  • The 1972 play 6 Rms Riv Vu has a man and woman, strangers to each other and both married, responding to a newspaper ad for an apartment to rent, and developing a romance after getting locked inside together when they show up to look at it.
  • In Wicked, Elphaba and Glinda unwillingly become roommates at school. They can't stand each other at first, but later become friends.
  • In Sweet Charity, almost immediately after Oscar and Charity meet, they get trapped together in an elevator between floors.
  • Curtains: Since Jessica Crenshaw was murdered during the Show Within a Show 's bow, Lt. Cioffi believes she was murdered by a member of the production and sequesters the theater until he can solve the case. The good thing is it gives everyone the chance to fix the show and work through their personal problems.

    Video Games 
  • In the first level of Second Sight, John Vattic has the opportunity to lock two security guards in the isolation cell he just escaped from; very quickly, the two of them discover that neither of them owns a working radio, and help will not be arriving for hours. Since the windows of the cell are large and shatterproof, the player has the luxury of watching the two guards slaughter each other. Bring some popcorn.
  • CLANNAD's storage room curse does exactly this. Perform the necessary ritual, think of somebody you want to be locked up with, and later that day you'll be locked up in a room with that person. You could end up being locked with Kyou, Nagisa, Tomoyo, Akio, or Sunohara. The anime adapts Kyou's version. The weirdest part is that it's part of a route that does not involve any of them.
  • Joker's relationship with EDI in Mass Effect 2 runs much more smoothly after the two are forced to run the ship by themselves after the Collector attack.
  • The core aspect of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is this. You go through a door, and try to get the required key and escape. The entire premise is you and the other people being trapped as well. Oh, and you can get Locked in a Freezer too if you follow a certain path.
  • Fate/hollow ataraxia features a scene that meets all the criteria, but instead of a room it's in a magical chest with Rin and Shirou trapped inside. This chest has properties including making outgoing cell phone calls get received in the future and having a Time Dilation effect.
  • In Homare's epilogue in Class Trip Crush, he and the protagonist end up accidentally locked into the library overnight. After considering their options, they decide to make the best of it and sneak out when the library opens in the morning.


    Web Video 
  • In the KateModern episode "Trait Positive", Charlie and Gavin get locked in the G&T IT office together over the course of a weekend, spanning seven episodes. Over that time, they bond. In the later episode "False Alarm", it is revealed that they also slept together that weekend.
  • In the SuperMarioLogan episode, "The Elevator!", Bowser Junior and his friends, Joseph and Cody, get stuck in an elevator on their way to a meet and greet hosted by Doofy the Dragon.
  • In season two episode five, "I'm With Stupid" of Con Man, all the characters get locked in together and put on a musical adaptation of Of Mice and Men, thereby also turning into a Musical Episode. As more people get locked inside, they end up joining the cast and become parts of the musical.

    Western Animation 
  • Used as the Framing Device in the Rugrats Passover special: Tommy, Chuckie, and Angelica (and eventually the rest of their families) get locked in the attic with Grandpa Boris, and Boris passes the time by telling the story of Passover, Whole-Plot Reference style.
    "Don't close the—"
    • Averted in "Driving Miss Angelica". Angelica and Chuckie get shut in the hallway closest, and Drew can't hear them as Angelica tries to open the door. She begins to panic as Chuckie calmly goes over and opens the door himself, and then informs her that she had been turning the doorknob in the wrong direction.
  • The same happened to most of the cast on Sealab 2021, in the episode "Trapped In The Closet". One by one, over the course of the episode, they were locked into a storage closet by a malfunctioning hatch. In an ironic inversion of Locked in a Freezer, the outside of the closet turns out to be the dangerous area, with angry attack dogs running around.
    • In "Cavemen" Quinn and Stormy end up trapped in a cave by a shark hungry for blood after eating rabbit carcasses. They're unable to call for help because Sealab is burning (yes, underwater) for some reason (it's implied Stormy had something to do with it). And they're running out of oxygen. They don't make it and are reunited in heaven with the rest of the Sealab crew (and also free hookers).
  • In the season two finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara finds herself trapped in a cave with recurring antagonist Zuko. The two initially argue, but began bonding over there similar rough childhoods, culminating with Katara nearly using a vial of spirit water to heal Zuko's deforming scar. However, this does not resolve their conflict, as at the end of the episode Zuko betrays Katara and her friends, deepening her antagonism towards him.
  • The second episode of Clerks: The Animated Series revolved around this. The old friends locked in an industrial refrigerator together started to reminisce about their wacky adventures, turning the trope into the framework for a Clip Show...except, since this was the second episode, there was only one episode to show clips from. This got even more surreal when the second episode was broadcast first, meaning viewers had never seen the clips it kept referencing.
  • One memorable episode of Animaniacs had Dr. Scrathensniff stuck in an elevator with Wakko Warner..
  • Ron Stoppable and Mr. Barkin spent an episode of Kim Possible locked inside a truck. They hardly got to know each other, because Barkin got goofier and crazier.
  • Arthur:
    • In "Happy Anniversary", Arthur and D.W. get into an argument at a diner, accidentally locking themselves in a dim storage cabinet. They're mad at each other at first, but team up to look around while their parents get help. Arthur uses his light-up costume (which D.W. thinks is silly) so they can see, and they imagine themselves as the protagonists of a Western drama they hear on an old radio.
    • In "Locked in the Library!", Arthur and Francine go to the library to work on a group project, but are mad at each other over an argument they had earlier. They both end up staying overnight, trapped inside and needing to work together to get out. When their attempts don't work, Arthur wanders off. He hears a woman's scream that he assumes is Francine's, and runs to find her. It turns out that Francine was watching TV and eating pizza in a back room; once she realizes Arthur was worried about her, she invites him to join.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Mountain of Madness", Mr. Burns and Homer wound up getting snowed in a log cabin. They both end up getting paranoid about the other's intentions.
    • Invoked in "The PTA Disbands", where the characters lock Skinner and Krabappel in a room to get them to work out the teacher's strike. After banging on the door for several hours, they finally agree to talk. Their mutual solution to end the strike: merge with the prison to install cells in the classrooms.
  • "Booth Buddies" in Star vs. the Forces of Evil has Star and Marco becoming trapped in a photo booth together after it breaks while Star tries to take dozens of photos to find one that isn't "fake". The repairman, Ben Fotino, tells them the booth is magic and will only let them out once they take a photo that shows their true feelings, which is problematic since they only have enough money for one more picture. They end up finally confronting when Star told Marco about her feelings for him in the previous season, and apparently Marco is embarrassed that he never brought it up again. They end up kissing while taking one last picture and the booth sets them free. It is then that Ben reveals that the booth isn't magic at all, but rather he intentionally trapped them there because he could tell from their photos that they "needed a smooch".
  • The Family Guy 150th episode "Brian and Stewie" center on Brian and Stewie locked in a bank vault for a weekend.
  • In Angel's Friends, Raf and Sulfus get trapped in the Caves of Obscurity for a time.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "Animan", Alya and Nino are locked together in a cage at the zoo. During their time, they bond and start dating at the end of the episode, becoming the show's Beta Couple.
  • Happens so frequently in Scooby-Doo it's become a cliché. It's usually Shaggy and Scooby who bumble their way into rescuing Fred, Daphne and Velma.
  • In the Corner Gas Animated episode "Shelter Skelter", Emma locks Brent and Lacey in her cold cellar because they were arguing earlier about Brent being too laid back and Lacey being too fussy. Brent and Lacey immediately realize that their bickering solves nothing and agree to work on their respective flaws, but Emma leaves the house before she can hear this, leaving them trapped. Once she's escaped, Lacey learns that Emma never really cared about getting her and Brent to resolve their differences. Emma just locked them in the cold cellar so Lacey wouldn't be able to hijack the town's disaster plan meeting.
  • In The Smurfs (2021) episode "No Smurf Out", Scaredy, Handy, Brainy, Smurfblossom, and Chef get trapped in Scaredy's house when none of them are able to open the door from the inside. They only manage to get out after 10 minutes when Scaredy opens a window to throw out a joke stool that Jokey gifted him.

  • One of the most common cliches of theater-style Live Action Roleplaying. The game has only limited space to play in, so locking the characters in a room (duly equipped with a Conflict Ball) is often used to explain why no one just leaves.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Locked In


Brendan stands up to Cellach

Brendan finally works up the courage, to stand up to his stubborn uncle, about how he has come to care only for the wall and forgotten about the book. It sadly doesn't end well, as Cellach locks him in his room.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / CallingTheOldManOut

Media sources: