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Non Sequitur Environment

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Damn, I always mix up Engineering and the Portal of Doom!
SF Debris on an instance of this in "Where No One Has Gone Before"

Whether you're walking, swimming, flying or using some more exotic mode of transportation, the transition from one environment to another generally makes basic logical sense... so it becomes all the more noticeable when someone abruptly transitions into a completely different environment that doesn't connect with the area leading up to it, and no rational explanation is immediately forthcoming.

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As the name implies, this is essentially the travel equivalent of a non-sequitur. Among other things, characters encountering this trope might turn a street corner and find themselves in the middle of a desert; a mundane door in an ordinary suburban house could open into deep space; or perhaps the ocean might slowly dwindle away until it's been replaced by a forest on dry land - the possibilities are virtually endless.

The reasons for this vary: maybe the character's stepped through a Portal Door without noticing it; perhaps they're hallucinating due to drugs or Sanity Slippage; maybe they're under the influence of a Master of Illusion; or perhaps Reality Is Out to Lunch, or the story has moved to a World of Chaos. Whatever the case, expect the character in question to be immediately confused.

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May involve Bizarrchitecture or be part of a Revealing Continuity Lapse.

Compare Eerily Out-of-Place Object, Seamless Scenery and Patchwork Map. Contrast Unnaturally Looping Location, where the weird part is the fact that things aren't changing.


Examples:

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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played for laughs (just like everything else) in Airplane! When Rex Kramer is driving a car, first he runs over a biker, then starts swerving wildly (with no corresponding head tilting), and finally ends up in front of a bunch of people riding horses on a dirt path.
  • In Altered States, one of the earliest signs that something is wrong with Eddie Jessup's hallucinogen experiments occurs when he not only begins to experience evolutionary Body Horror while apparently sober, but opens the bathroom door to find himself staring into Hell.
  • This is what Hell's Bucket in Cabin Boy is like; when the crew go to sleep, the temperature is nearly tropical, and the next morning they're awakened by an iceberg crashing into their ship.
  • Because The Cell is partially set within the minds of various characters, the various dream environments often lack basic logical connections: a blanket gradually transitions into the dunes of a desert; the control room is suddenly replaced by a cage; a beach ends suddenly in a doorway back into the corridors of a palace; Catherine hides in a closet, only to turn around and find that there's now a room behind her — more specifically, one where Carl Stargher is butchering his first victim.
  • Late in Event Horizon, Dr Weir begins hallucinating while under the eponymous Ghost Ship's influence and transitions seamlessly from the ship's drive room to his apartment... just in time to relive the moment his wife committed suicide.
  • In The Tall Grass concludes with Tobin being transported in a jump cut from the depths of the field to a spooky-looking room as a result of Travis using the power of the Rock at the center of the field to teleport him out. To his immense relief, Tobin soon discovers he's actually in the Creepy Cathedral across the road from the field — before Cal and Becky entered it — allowing him an opportunity to save them both.
  • Despite taking place mostly in dreams, Inception largely avoids this, as futzing around with the dreamworld will result in the dreamer's subconscious becoming aware that something is amiss and getting violent. However, Cobb is revealed to have created a prison for painful memories inside his dreams in order to keep Mal's shade from causing trouble: when Ariadne pays a visit, she finds herself stepping out of an elevator into a hotel room, Cobb's house, and even a beach.
  • The Matrix Reloaded introduces perfectly innocuous-looking portal doors connecting the Merovingian's mountaintop chateau with other locations across the Matrix. As such, it's a bit of a surprise when Neo tries to follow the Merovingian back through doors that previously led to an urban restaurant, only to find himself suddenly up in the mountains. Happens a second time when the Keymaker escapes via a door leading into a carpark back in the city; once again, Neo tries to follow, only to get the same result as last time when one of the Twins slams the door in his face... so he gives up and just flies back.
  • Men in Black II ends with K opening a perfectly normal door in MIB headquarters (on Earth) and inviting J and Frank to take a look: on the other side of the door, they're seen to be standing in a locker high above a massive spaceport concourse dominated by giant aliens.
  • In The Ritual, the ominous-but-logical hiking trip through the forest suddenly takes a turn for Surreal Horror when Luke attempts to leave the cabin they were staying at — only to find himself back in the liquor store where he witnessed his friend being murdered. These visions and nightmares continue over the course of the film, sometimes with the terrain slowly dissolving from trees to shelves until the store has partially replaced the forest, other occasions featuring random elements of the store appearing suddenly out of nowhere. Luke is being psychically toyed with by the Animalistic Abomination stalking the group, having been selected as a potential worshiper.
  • Played for Laughs in Thor: Ragnarok. During Thor's meeting with Doctor Strange, Strange uses his magic to transport them around the Sanctum Sanctorum, though instead of using his visually-distinctive method of Thinking Up Portals, he simply teleports them via jumpcut — first from the entrance hall to a lounge room, then into a library, then back to the hall. As a result, Thor is left extremely disoriented, spilling his mug of beer at least twice and finishing up by falling down the stairs as a result of surprise teleportation.
  • In Orson Welles' adaptation of The Trial, buildings occasionally fit together in bizarre, nonsensical ways with no logical connection — befitting the claim that the story is said to possess the logic of a dream or a nightmare. At one point, Josef K opens a door in Titorelli's dilapidated shack, only to find that it leads directly to the file room of the law court.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey sends Dave Bowman on a plunge into a hallucinogenic hyperspace after he encounters the Monolith in space... and then, after several minutes of Hyper Space Is A Scary Place, he very suddenly finds himself in what appears to be a mansion — no transition, no portal, just a hard cut to a luxurious neoclassical interior. Bownman is extremely confused... and even more so when he sees himself standing in front of him a moment later.

    Literature 
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe features one of the most famous examples of this trope, occurring when it's discovered that the eponymous wardrobe is actually a Portal Door: as she climbs through it, Lucy slowly notices that the fur coats are starting to feel more like tree branches and the mothballs crunching underfoot seem more like snow... until at last, she finds herself in the land of Narnia.
  • Lev Grossman's The Magicians, being a parody of The Chronicles Of Narnia and other fantasy novels, exhibits several notable examples of this:
    • In the "Fillory And Further" novels, the Chatwin children often enter the eponymous fantasy world this way, eldest boy Martin first encountering it by stepping into a grandfather clock and emerging in another reality. Averted when Quentin and his friends discover Fillory is real and pay a visit, in which they make use of a much simpler teleportation device.
    • Early in the book, Quentin pursues a loose page from a manuscript into a hedge in New York during the autumn - only to find himself emerging in the idyllic Brakebills campus, in what appears to be the middle of summer. It's later discovered that most prospective students arrive in similar ways regardless of their environment; something always gets their attention and lures them into an invisible portal.
    • In Alice's Story, Julia arrives in Brakebills by stumbling out of a toilet stall, wondering aloud where the coffee shop vanished off to.
  • Where the Wild Things Are begins with Max being sent to his room, only for it to inexplicably transform into a jungle - in which he explores, takes a boat across the ocean, encounters a race of strange creatures, and returns.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who has this in play whenever the Doctor ushers someone into the TARDIS for the first time; in fact, it's not uncommon for first-time travelers to actually leave the TARDIS and circle it for a while, clearly trying to work out how an ordinary police box somehow opens onto the interior of an alien ship. Expect the words "It's Bigger on the Inside" to be used at some point.
  • Farscape episode "John Quixote" features Crichton and Chiana finding themselves trapped in a buggy virtual reality game and just barely managing to escape in time to address an ongoing disaster back on Moya. Hours later, they realize that they're still playing the game when — among other immersion-breaking glitches — they find Moya's docking bay doors opening onto the game's fairytale kingdom.
  • In the Game of Thrones episode "Valar Morghulis," Danaerys' journey into the House of the Undying is replete with this: already having transitioned abruptly from the outside of the tower to the inside without finding a door, she then finds herself emerging from the corridor into the throne room of the now-ruined Red Keep, then into the frozen land North of the Wall.
  • During one of the flashback sequences in The Haunting of Hill House, Olivia suddenly finds herself being transported from her reading room in the eponymous house to a morgue in the future. For good measure, it's currently occupied by two corpses — both of whom are recognizable to the audience as the adult forms of Luke and Nellie. And then the latter sits up and starts begging for help. Horror-stricken, Olivia takes a step backwards, trips, falls — and lands on the reading room floor.
  • This happens to Captain Archer of Star Trek: Enterprise whenever Daniels pulls him into some more time-travel shenanigans. He'll walk through a door on his ship and suddenly end up God-knows-when.

    Tabletop Games 

    Theme Parks 
  • In the original Disneyland, lack of space and inexperience on the part of the builders during initial construction phases resulted in quite a few abrupt transitions between different themed lands, e.g. turning a corner on Main Street, USA (a ca. 1900 small town setting) and suddenly finding yourself in the sci-fi futurism of Tomorrowland. The designers learned from this awkwardness, and parks built later on tend to feature more gradual transitions.

    Video Games 
  • In Alice: Madness Returns, Alice normally keeps the real world and Wonderland fairly distinct, despite her rather tentative grip on sanity. However, during a conversation with her solicitor in his palatial townhouse, she blacks out and awakens to find the building abandoned; proceeding outside, she finds that puddles of the Ruin and giant mushrooms from the Vale of Tears beginning to appear in the streets of London, until the earth cracks open and the Vale of Doom appears around the corner.
  • Whenever Scarecrow's fear gas shows up in Batman: Arkham Asylum, hallucinations cause environments to fuse and blend with very little logic: after being startled by a jumpscare in the morgue, Batman looks up to find that the room has begun to dissolve into a nightmarish jumble of platforms suspended above a maelstrom. Later, another dose of toxin sends him on a flashback to the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, resulting in the corridor ahead slowly transforming into the alley where they were shot; when he finally recovers from this latest trip, he finds that he's somehow ended up inside the clock tower of the main building - an area that was inaccessible up until now.
  • A frequent occurrence in Bioshock Infinite:
    • Early on, Booker experiences a dream in which he opens his office door to find himself on top of a building, watching airships bombard a city he doesn't recognize. It's actually New York in the 1980s, a vision of Columbia destroying "the Sodom Below".
    • Whenever Booker falls in combat and can't be resuscitated, he finds himself back in his office, but as soon as he opens his door, he always finds himself back in Columbia at the last point the game autosaved. It's eventually indicated that he's actually been replaced by another version of himself from another dimension.
    • During the climax, Elizabeth is recaptured by the Songbird and Booker pursues them into what appears to be a thunderstorm, but when he emerges on the other side, he finds himself ankle-deep in snow and Comstock House is surrounded by a blizzard - in the middle of July. It turns out he's stepped through a Tear into a Bad Future.
    • Finally, there's the Sea of Doors, a central hub of The Multiverse in which countless different possible universes can be accessed simply by opening the front door of one of the many, many lighthouses contained heere. Once she's unlocked her true power at the very end of the game, Elizabeth is able to open the door to scenes from Booker's past.
  • The Nightmare Realms in Bloodborne often switch from one kind of location to another without any kind of buildup, such as when stepping out through the face of a colossal Clock Tower brings you to a seaside fishing hamlet. Justified in that these realms are literal nightmares of powerful Eldritch Abominations unbound by the human understanding of physics.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow takes place in the Chaotic Realm which, as the name implies, has no rhyme or reason to it. Every screen transition takes you to a random new environment lifted from somewhere else in the game, often even with impossible placements like two areas that would actually overlap due to their size and shape but... don't.
  • Visits to the Oceanview Motel in Control; accessible only by pulling a light switch cord hanging from random ceilings, your arrival occurs via a jumpcut so sudden you might be tempted to imagine the road ahead of you literally changed.
  • In stark contrast to the naturally connected game world of Dark Souls I, Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III are patchworks of levels that couldn't and shouldn't physically connect to each other. DS2 is particularly egregious about it (such as when taking an elevator directly up from the Bubblegloop Swamp somehow brings you to the Lethal Lava Land that supposedly sank underground centuries ago), without offering any in-universe justification for it. While DS3 doesn't explicitly address this, either, it at least implies that the uncountable cycles of the First Flame fading and being reignited have broken the world so thoroughly, the few bits of it that still function desperately clump together to maintain some kind of order.
  • At various points in The Darkness II, Jackie finds himself plunged into a Lotus-Eater Machine in which he's a patient in a mental hospital - part of the Darkness's efforts to keep him from digging too deep into the truth. However, Jackie is rescued from one session here by the Darkling (disguised as a janitor) and ushered into a supply closet to learn more; upon turning around, Jackie finds that the door has been replaced by a tunnel leading into Hell.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: While a number of Skyrim's caves qualify to some degree, Bloated Man's Grotto is notable for appearing as a rocky outcropping surrounded by a dense forest under clear skies and a full moon, emitting its intense, blood-red light on the entire environment, despite externally appearing as an otherwise normal cave naturally formed in the mountains above Falkreath Hold. Given that the Dragonborn is sent there (unless the player finds and explores it beforehand) at the behest of Hircine, the Daedric Lord of the Hunt, to partake in the hunting of a rogue werewolf ( though Hircine will be equally pleased should the Dragonborn decide to help said werewolf by killing the hunters instead), it's implied that the location is actually one part of Hircine's Hunting Grounds.
  • A not-uncommon occurrence whenever Jason Brody gets stoned in Far Cry 3. In one instance, while exploring a cave in search of medicinal fungi, inhaling some hallucinogenic spores results in a jungle suddenly forming in the middle of the cavern; later, a Vision Quest provided by Citra abruptly shifts from the middle of the jungle to an underwater ruin when Brody opens a perfectly ordinary door to a shack.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Final Fantasy V takes place in a random mish-mash of environments populated by Eldritch Horrors, as it takes place in the dimension where everything that was swallowed by The Void was dumped.
  • The penultimate level of Final Fantasy IX is the aptly-named Memoria; a vast collage of memories from across history, most of the areas have little to any logical connection. Among other things, you can walk into the giant eye of the Invincible and then find on the opposite side the smoking ruins of the town it was about to destroy; pleasant ivy-hung cities feature staircases leading into space and curving around the scene of two planets merging; walking through a waterfall leads to the depths of an ocean; ladders overlook the birth of Gaia... on and on it goes.
  • A regular occurrence in Layers of Fear. Beginning in a relatively ordinary mansion, it soon becomes clear that all is not well after you open the door to leave the studio and find that the layout of the house has been warped beyond all recognition. After that, it's quite common for the environment to change behind closed doors or new rooms to materialize while your back's turned, or even for different interiors to "glitch" into existence around you. It turns out that your character is trapped in an endless loop of denial, alcoholism and insanity, and is hallucinating everything. The same goes for the sequel, in which the same door in your cabin may lead to different regions of the ship.
  • The Manhole is made of this: by climbing a beanstalk, you can find a forest above the clouds or a tropical island under the eponymous manhole; a tower sitting in the middle of the forest turns out to be a rook in a giant chess set bobbing in an underground canal, but only when you reach the top; a perfectly ordinary elevator can open in a sunken ship; a wrong turn in one of the canals can take you through the teacup of a rabbit living in a fire hydrant across from the manhole...
  • Neverending Nightmares exhibits a good deal of this in the final levels of the game, many of which incorporate areas from previous segments of the game. For example, in the "Wayward Dreamer" ending path, Thomas finds his childhood home merging with the asylum level and a bleak catacomb-like mockery of his house, with ordinary corridors giving way to ruined wards patrolled by eyeless inmates and dark stone halls infested with murderous dolls. Meanwhile, in "The Final Descent," the interior of the house grows more dilapidated and horrific, collapsing into bloodstained wreckage without rhyme or reason: along the journey, corridors abruptly give way to forests of hanging bodies, graveyards suddenly appear out of nowhere, staircases lead back into the asylum, Thomas awakens to find himself in the catacombs again... and the very last scene of this path features Thomas descending a very, very long staircase - only to find himself entering what appears to be a literal Womb Level. Justified, as the story all takes place in a nightmare.
  • Happens frequently over the course of Outlast II; in between exploring Temple Gate and dodging attacks by frenzied cultists, Blake experiences hallucinatory episodes where he finds himself back in the fourth grade at school - and most of the time, the transition between the real and the imaginary is almost imperceptible: Blake can be yanked down a well, only to find himself in the school's ventilation system; doors open randomly between the school and the homes and cultists; he can crawl through a narrow gap between houses and end up in a locker; at one point, he's knocked off a raft and into a lake - only to wind up in the school swimming pool. It turns out he's under the influence of a mind-control signal set up by the Murkoff Corporation.
  • In The Park, Lorraine experiences two of these while exploring Atlantic Island Park; first, while entering via the escalator, the late afternoon abruptly shifts into night and the park suddenly appears ruined - as if abandoned for several years. According to the timeline established in The Secret World, the park was shut down in 1980, indicating that the sunny, cheery-looking park encountered earlier was just a delusion. Later, while following Callum down to the basement of the House of Horrors, Lorraine finds herself stymied when the tacky haunted house suddenly transforms into her own home in Kingsmouth. This time, it's due to Lorraine being mind raped by Nathaniel Winter.
  • Occasionally, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time takes a turn for the Mind Screw whenever the Prince has an opportunity to expand his health bar. Discovering a hidden passageway in the palace of Azad, he enters - only to find that the ruined building has abruptly given way to an unearthly realm of rope bridges lit by an omnipresent blue light, with a magical life-extending fountain at the center. Even the Prince doesn't know what to make of it.
  • The final hellish Otherworld that Harry must explore in Silent Hill, fittingly called "Nowhere", is made up of random environments lifted from earlier parts of the game cobbled together into a disarray of madness. You might enter a bathroom in a school and come out of the elevator in a hospital, or go out the front door of the hospital and end up inside a residential house. You don't get a map either, so have fun!

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck: As the terrain of the Dream Bubbles is simply an aggregate of the dreamers and the dead within any one Bubble at a given moment, they tend to be disordered arrangements of scenes and places from multiple people's lives placed next to one another with very little transition. As such, it's entirely possible to, for instance, wake in a high-tech laboratory, walk out its door and find yourself in a little kid's bedroom within a suburban house placed incongruously within a city of Gothic spires, whose streets might then end suddenly into an open sky or a lake of fire.
  • Real Life: In one strip, Greg creates a Tabletop Game campaign world where this sort of transition is the defining factor — deserts next to forests, ice next to lava. His answer to criticism is "Anything's possible in Crazyland!"
  • Tip, the resident Casanova/Agent Peacock of Skin Horse, has developed this into a superpower, as the writers decided to turn the smash cuts that marked his successful seductions into an in-universe effect. Basically, if he needs to get into or out of somewhere, he just has to get an unattached woman to agree to a date — and the next panel will show the two of them elsewhere, hopefully where they need to be.

    Web Videos 
  • Downplayed in Everyman Hybrid; when Vinnie is traveling to Ohio, the scenery he's driving through keeps subtly changing from mid-Autumn (dead trees, gray sky), to mid-Summer (green trees, blue sky), and back again. It's just one of the many oddities that occur while he's on his trip.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: In "A Picture's Worth a Thousand Bucks", Peter and Meg walk through New York City and suddenly find themselves in Bedrock. They act as through they've wandered into a crummy neighborhood and promptly backtrack.
  • The Looney Tunes short "Duck Amuck" features several sequences wherein Daffy is moving through a scene while wearing appropriate attire, only for the antagonistic animator to randomly change the background into something wildly different, such as a farm abruptly turning into the snow covered artic. Elmer Fudd repeats this trick against Bugs Bunny in "Rabbit Rampage."

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