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Ominous Multiple Screens

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Yep. We're boned.

Apparently, multiplying the number of TV screens multiplies the oppressive factor of whatever scene they're in.

If there's Orwellian surveillance at work, the cameras will feed to a room carpeted from ceiling to floor by screens. Hard to keep track of? Bah! It's ominous. If the Evil Overlord is hijacking the airwaves for a broadcast, we will see it played in Times Square or some decent approximation, or he's hardly an Evil Overlord at all. If the computer system is maimed, chances are the owners will have conveniently filled their headquarters with screens, just so that they know how screwed they are.

Perhaps we're just that fond of variety in television.

Compare Do Not Adjust Your Set where the villain uses everyone else's screens. Also compare The Big Board, which is just one gigundous screen. Overlaps with Storefront Television Display if displayed on a storefront window. See also Ominous Television when it's just one TV.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Chrono Crusade: In the manga, Aion kills Pandaemonium, who then searches for another host. He believes there's nobody left to host her, but several large screens pop up along the walls of the room they're in to show who she plans to take over next—Rosette Christopher.
  • Spike never confronts the bounty in the Cowboy Bebop episode "Brain Scratch" directly. Instead, he only manages to find a trap room full of TVs and succumbs to some kind of ultrasound attack after a face on those TVs monologues at him for a bit. Luckily, Jet and Ed have already discovered where the villain was broadcasting from and manage to stop him before he can finish Spike off.
  • Death Note. The control room in L's HQ has these along one wall. You don't get much more ominous than every screen in the Hacker Cave informing you that your systems have been completely wiped. Near's HQ one-ups L's by having three walls covered with TVs.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, Ken's fortress had a dozen or so screens posed at different angles in front of his chair. Often, they were all showing the same thing from different angles.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS: The TSAB Headquarters has multiple screens; however, the only time they're seen is when Quattro is using her Silver Curtain illusion ability to bring them all offline.
  • The Obsidian Shrine in My-HiME has a bunch of monitors attached to a central console.
  • Mekakucity Actors: When Hibiya uses his powers to find the Big Bad's lair, the first thing he notes is "a wall of TV screens". They're implied to represent the multiple time loops experienced by the cast.
  • The Gag Series Negima!? uses this often.
  • Gendo Ikari in Neon Genesis Evangelion uses a lot of screens that mostly show the same picture (note especially the first episode). Actually, NERV in general seems to be outfitted with these redundant displays all over the place. They aren't even the villains; they just like feeling oppressive.
  • Ryuunosuke in The Pet Girl of Sakurasou has at least 3 screens attached to the computer in his room.
  • Played with in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Inside of Thymilph's Ganmen, he has multiple monitors. One of them is a close-up of Yoko's breasts.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Keima's Gaming Room has at least six wide-inch screens, and countless other TV sets of various sizes. All for satisfying his obsession with Dating Sims.

    Comic Books 
  • One character in Dark Angel (Marvel Comics) watches many screens, combining this with some form of ESP-type ability which he refers to as heuristics to predict the future.
  • Eejee's chamber in the Knights of the Old Republic comics.
  • Superman: In a goody-two-shoes version of this trope, Superman has been shown to have a room that resembles an empty missile silo filled from top to bottom with screens showing every news report from around the world at once. Justified since Supes actually has the ability to watch all the screens at the same time, so he can go out and help when necessary.
  • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: S.H.I.E.L.D. has several screens, but when the Heather Douglas clones show up, they all go into "Red Alert" mode.
  • In V for Vendetta, Norsefire head honcho Adam Susan has a very, errr... interesting relationship with the Master Computer Fate and its multiple screens. He also employs professional (and henpecked and cuckolded) voyeur Conrad Heyer to watch screens of just about everything, including all party members' bedrooms, even his own.
  • In Watchmen, this trope is used to demonstrate Ozymandias' superhuman intelligence: he can pay attention to all those screens at once. Ozymandias claims to see oncoming war from the vibes he picks up from the images, so the pictures take on a second dark significance.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Sebastian Ballesteros' hideout is filled with monitors through which he and his minions keep track of their targets and how Vanessa is reacting to their meddling with her mind, so that they can use her like a weapon and recall her to the facility if she show signs of resisting.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert:
    Dilbert: My pay is below market. Can I have a 20% raise?
    Pointy-Haired Boss: No, but I'll let you use two flat screen monitors in your cubicle so it feels like you're an evil genius in a secret lair.
    Dilbert: BU-WA-HAHA!
    Wally: Who got a second monitor?

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 12 Monkeys:
    • In the futuristic dystopia, James Cole is questioned and briefed by the panel of scientists while strapped to a Shackle Seat Trap as a sinister globe holding a confusing array of cameras, microphones and video screens is held in front of his face.
      Terry Gilliam: You try to see the faces on the screens in front of you, but the real faces and voices are down there and you have these tiny voices in your ear. To me that's the world we live in, the way we communicate these days, through technical devices that pretend to be about communication but may not be.
    • When Cole and Dr. Railly see a news program identifying them as wanted fugitives, they have an Oh, Crap! moment on realizing that a camera in a nearby video equipment store is projecting their faces on a huge multiple screen.
  • Babylon A.D.: In the apartment in New York, there's a setting that shows what is likely hundreds of channels at once. However, this seems to simply be a menu setting, as it's possible to single one out.
  • A comedic version occurs in Back to the Future Part II. In the 2015 segment, Marty's son comes home from school and watches a half dozen TV channels at one time. Then it turns serious when they all begin flashing messages that announce that Marty was fired.
  • The control room of the Facility in The Cabin in the Woods. Becomes Nightmare Fuel when the monsters get loose, and the individual screens show people dying in horribly varied ways.
  • Not present in the main movie, but concept art for Captain America: Civil War shows Zemo seated in the middle of a room full of screens showing (many identical) images of the Winter Soldier.
  • There's one set up at the Nuclear Disarmament Summit from G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
  • Hot Fuzz: The head of the Neighbourhood Watch Association has an office (in the police station) with multiple monitors from CCTV cameras all over the village.
  • In the 2000 filmed performance of Jesus Christ Superstar, this appears in Caiaphas' room. Well, the room and the priests themselves are ominous enough even without the screens.
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth: Thomas Jerome Newton, being an Alien Among Us, can tell what is going on in the wider scheme of things by watching many televisions. In fact, these screens only become ominous as they distract him from paying attention to those around him, and the many streams of information overwhelm him at least once.
  • The Matrix:
    • In The Matrix, multiple screens show Neo in the interrogation room before the camera zooms in on one screen, which becomes the actual scene itself as the Agents walk in. This effect is used and reversed multiple times in the Neo/Architect sequence below.
    • In The Matrix Reloaded, the Architect's chamber is filled wall-to-wall with screens showing Neo. The implication is that they are all of the different choices which Neo could be making at this particular moment, choice being the one fundamental flaw in the programming of the Matrix that allows the One to keep popping up, despite the Machines' best efforts to prevent it. It's also used for surveillance so that he can see anywhere in the Matrix at any given time, be it past or near future, which actually makes sense. Often, the screens work together to form a bigger image.
  • Toward the end of the short film Rings, when Jake Pierce reaches his seventh day after watching the cursed video tape, he panics and tries to play the tape across a bank of TVs in an electronics store, only to get caught and thrown out by a security guard who happens to be in the same Ring group as Jake.
  • In Scary Movie 4, the Architect is parodied by George Carlin — he has cameras in Cindy's house (including her bathroom) transmitting to the wall of screens in his lighthouse.
  • Serenity: Mr. Universe's control room, though the number of screens is toned down and really just to show how random Mr. Universe is.
  • Farley Flavors spends most of Shock Treatment in his office, watching these.
  • Slackers has a non-ominous example: one slacker has a room with the walls lined with shelves full of televisions, showing ordinary TV footage. One of them has the words "TV IS" on it; below, a TV has the words "WE ARE", and below that, "IMAGINE YOUR SELF".
  • Zeke in Sliver owns a surveillance room with numerous video monitors which he uses to spy on tenants of an exclusive New York residential building.
  • Shredder is introduced watching these in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990).
  • Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies has a room like this — fitting for a villain who's a media baron.
  • WarGames has the terrifying climax of JOSHUA 'playing' thermonuclear war over and over again on multiple screens, just to ram home how utterly screwed the human race is if he ever actually launches the nukes.
  • In Watchmen, Ozymandias is shown in his lair viewing a wall filled floor to ceiling with television screens, each showing a different image, in order to demonstrate his ability to pay attention to each one simultaneously.
  • The Witches of Eastwick: Darryl Van Horn has a bank of TV screens, apparently just for the hell of it. One woman isn't enough for him, why should he settle for one screen?

  • The second book in the Alosha series, Shaktra, is a fantasy example of this, with a group of hive-minded alien races attempting to recruit the Earth races via the Internet. Eerily glowing screens ensue, used to intense atmospheric effect.
  • In The Gap Sequence, Holt Fasner's mother Norna is a bed-ridden invalid who spends all day watching Every.Single.News.Channel from human space and collating all the information therein. Her near-omniscience is one of the secrets of her son's immense power.
  • Gormenghast: Villain Steerpike has a hidden chamber where he watches all comings and goings in the castle — except instead of TV screens, it's all down through hidden mirrors and periscopes.
  • Nightside: In Hell To Pay, Jeremiah Griffon has a wall of TV screens in his conference room, playing non-stop world news and financial reports. Probably a Shout-Out to Ozymandius, except that Jeremiah admits they're mostly for effect: he's a centuries-old immortal and nothing on the news is likely to surprise him, but the display intimidates potential business rivals by making him appear brilliant and informed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica: Some rooms in Cylon Baseships are covered in screens or have rows of screens in them (best visible in the climax of Guess What's Coming to Dinner). In what may be a subversion, they don't actually show anything comprehensible. Just more of the pseudo-Chinese Cylon glyph language that is already projected everywhere.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "The I In Team", a scene of Buffy and Riley making love moves to one of Professor Walsh watching them on a bank of screens. At the end of the episode, Buffy uses those same screens to threaten Walsh after The Uriah Gambit fails to kill her.
  • In the second season of Continuum, Escher has one of these walls full of screens. He uses it to keep an eye on everything via the city's many surveillance cameras.
  • Daredevil (2015): In season 3, Wilson Fisk has a secret room in his penthouse with a big row of TV monitors, overseen by a poor technician who he's blackmailed into working for him.
  • Dollhouse either plays this straight or shows us a mind in a weird way when Victor joins Mindlink.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981): In both the book and the TV series, when the Vogon Constructor Fleet arrives to announce to the people of Earth that their planet is, regrettably, scheduled for demolition, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz hijacks every TV set, radio, telephone, computer screen, et c, to relay the message.
  • In the second season of the horror anthology The Hunger, narrator Julian Priest, a Mad Artist who inhabits an old prison, can monitor the comings and goings of others in his domain via the security system with its many television monitors. Some of the opening and closing sequences feature him using the screens to illustrate his points. It's worth nothing that Julian is played by David Bowie, whose first major dramatic role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth (see Film above), so this might be an Actor Allusion.
  • A non-ominous example: the Muppet control room on The Jim Henson Hour consisted of hundreds and hundreds of TV screens. This made sense, as the idea was that Kermit the Frog assembled the show by tuning into every television feed in the universe and picking the best stuff. This being the Muppets, characters could also get flung out of screens and into the control room itself.
  • The teaser of "Radio Harry" from Resident Alien ends with a zoom-out of a bunch of monitors showing all of the prisoners at General McAllister's Black Site, along with their names, place of capture and length of detainment (in one case: 31 years!) as McAllister promises "I'll find out the truth about all of them."
  • V (2009): Maggie gets past the Visitors' lower-tech for-show surveillance room and into their real one. Lotsa screens.
  • In Season 3 Episode 3, of Warehouse 13, Love Sick an ex-worker for computer store "Tiger Electronics" broke through the system and communicated with the workers and customers, unknowingly infecting them with the computer virus he used to gain access to unknowing user's webcams, via Judah Loew ben Belazel's Amulet.

  • The Feel Good Inc in the Gorillaz eponymous video is filled with gigantic, constantly flashing screens.
  • Mentioned in the Keldian song "Change the World".


    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: The central control room of the Realm Defense Grid. Supposedly the system can look at anywhere in Creation, and in the Infernal splatbook, the use of Blasphemy charmsnote  is guaranteed to make the user appear in their screen.

  • The 2013 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has a humorous version in the Department of the Future. When Mike Teavee zaps himself into Cyberspace via the Television Chocolate transporter, a bank of five screens is brought down in an effort to find him; he jumps from one to another at will as the others try to find a way to get him out.
  • In Matilda The Musical, Miss Trunchbull is watching them the first time Miss Honey enters her office.

    Video Games 
  • Chrono Trigger: The Mother Brain boss fights with three screens that heal her every round. You can actually target them and take them out, but it makes her go berserk and become nearly impossible to defeat. The trick is either to leave one screen alone and kill the other two, which reduces the healing but leaves her beatable, or to bring along the otherwise-worthless Lucca, whose almost-worthless Hypnowave attack is 100% effective against the screens.
  • Players in City of Heroes can purchase monitor banks and mega monitors for their hero/villain lairs.
  • Deus Ex: The Conspiracy uses this in its intro sequence. The Villains stand in front of a wall covered in monitors showing news broadcasts and scenes from the old PC intro. In the end they all synchronize into a big screen showing the hand grasping Earth.
  • Shows up in the endgame of Fallout: New Vegas, specifically if you side with House or become the Wild Card. After installing the override chip in Hoover Dam, all the computer screens with have either House or Yes Man's image upon them.
  • Half-Life 2: Quite common for the Combine, whose basic monitors start out as irregularly-shaped multi-display monstrosities and only get more baroque from there. Unfortunately, since the engine can only render from one camera at a time, they always end up showing the same thing. They all show the same thing, but by God are they determined to show whatever the hell it is. Of course, once you hit The Citadel, they exaggerate it.
  • Portal: When you finally find GLaDOS at the endgame, her mainframe is surrounded by a cluster of monitors showing a sped-up slideshow of dozens of random images. Some of the monitors change to a timer when she starts filling the room with neurotoxin.
  • Kingdom Hearts II: The Dark City has one landmark that stands out: a tall building topped with a cluster of warped television screens of various sizes. Strangely, nothing is actually displayed on the screens at any time, and the building itself is only important because some important scenes just happen to occur around it. Additionally, DIZ has computers that control the virtual Twilight Town. Roxas seems to enjoy destroying those.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has Travis smash his way into Jasper Batt Jr.'s office at the end. If you look, you will see many screens on some of the walls, and close inspection of some of them show that Jasper has been keeping an eye on you, Henry and everyone else.
  • Phantasy Star Online: During the first phase of the Vol Opt (or its Ultimate mode evolution, Vol opt ver.2) Boss battle, the supercomputer's visage is displayed on, and moves between, the multiple monitors encircling the chamber while he throws various electrical attacks at the player characters. While his face is visible on screen, attacks against the monitors break them and deal damage to him. By the end of the phase, all the screens are broken, either through damage or the explosions that occur after defeating him.
  • Total Distortion: Two hallways in the Distortion Dimension are covered wall-to-wall in monitors that show a video that negatively affects your health if you walk through them. You have to upload a better video to the hall's control panel to get by safely.
  • Armed & Delirious: The Great Rabbit's surveillance monitors in his office, which he uses to keep tabs on Granny's movements. Some puzzles have to be solved by sabotaging his security cameras as well.
  • SaGa Frontier:
    • Genocide Heart, the last boss of T260G's quest, is a supercomputer who fights in a room full of display screens. These screens act as its Life Meter: as it is damaged, more screens fizzle out and show static.
    • During Red's quest, you fight a boss in front of a bank of screens displaying an Idol Singer (who is actually a Black X operative). The screens change what they display each round, and the party is hit with different effects depending what's on the screens.
  • In The Stanley Parable, there is a large room with screens on the surrounding walls, monitoring Stanley's co-workers (if they were around).
  • One of the early puzzles in Strange Cases 4: The Faces of Vengeance involves clicking on a wall of TV screens until they're all showing part of the same creepy picture.
  • In Super Lesbian Animal RPG the Reality Scrambler machines found in several of the game's dungeons appear to be a jumble of various computer monitors and piping, with the screens displaying static and colors as they corrupt their surroundings.

    Visual Novels 
  • Downplayed, if not subverted, in Double Homework when the protagonist and his classmates are searching through Dennisís apartment. While Dennisís multiple-screen setup is weird, none of them seem to be put off in the least by it.

  • Girl Genius: The command center of the Master of Paris in the Awful Tower has the walls covered in screen depicting the goings on all over the city. While the Master is benevolent he's also quite dangerous and his control over his city is both renowned and feared.
  • Sluggy Freelance: Hereti-Corp holds its shadow-faced meetings in one, often lampshaded, e.g. "Why is this room so dark and ominous when there are so many bright glowing screens?"

    Web Animation 
  • Broken Saints:
    • While Rami certainly has a lot of monitors for his computer, they aren't so much ominous as helping sell his hacking expertise. Well, at least before he gets a message.
    • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness gather in a room filled with screens like this.
    • The final confrontation takes place in a room with a lot of monitors. Especially disturbing are those on the life sized crucifix.

    Western Animation 
  • Big Hero 6: The Series: Obake, Big Bad of Season 1, has this as part of his Supervillain Lair. He apparently even has cameras in Krei's office, staring right into his face. How he's able to do this is never shown.
  • Averted in Inspector Gadget - although Doctor Claw is the kind of villain to sit in his lair and say sinister things while watching his minions by video, making him perfect for this trope, he pointedly has just one screen.
  • Robot Chicken: Parodied in the end of the title sequence. The titular chicken is strapped down in front of a wall of TVs showing various sketches from the show. One of the TVs is snowed out; it gets zoomed into and displays the last couple credits. It's implied you see the point of view of the chicken, and all the random crap during the show is the chicken looking from screen to screen.
  • In an episode of X-Men: The Animated Series, Mojo comes to take the heroes to his dimension by appearing in multiple TV screens while Scott and Jean are at the mall. Eventually, his assistant Spiral would go from the same image on all screens to one life-sized image spread across them... and step out into reality.

    Real Life 
  • The control centres of space agencies around the world, like the one at NASA's JPL, while hopefully not ominous, certainly do qualify, with usually one or multiple large screens taking up an entire wall and rows of consoles.
  • When Sky Television began broadcasting to Britain in 1989 they set up some advertising displays with multiple screens in public places. What they apparently forgot was that Sky receivers could only receive one channel at a time, so all the screens had to show the same thing.
  • Some cable company headquarters have a giant wall of monitors showing every channel they provide. This is so that when someone calls in who's having trouble with their service, the employee can just look up and instantly see what's supposed to be on the channel they're talking about.
  • The control room of Minatur Wunderland, a large model railroad in Hamburg, has a control room with about a hundred screens for five operators.
  • It's been said that President Lyndon Johnson has a special TV with three screens made so that he could watch all of the major news networks at once. It only played the sound from one screen at a time, though.
    • His contemporary, Elvis Presley, just bought three ordinary televisions and sat them next to each other.
  • Television master control rooms contain a bunch of video monitors that show multiple cameras/feeds.
  • BP released a poorly photoshopped image of their control room during the Deepwater Horizon blowout.
  • Network Operations Centers, whether for large telecoms or datacenters, are the ultimate expression of this concept. Most have dozens, and possibly over a hundred, different large screens plastered over every single inch wall space, with desks having dozens more. They show everything from individual machine consoles to network traffic flow, call volumes and destinations, potential intrusion alerts, power issues, HVAC status, to trending of any of a hundred different metrics. Small NOCs will have less than a dozen people in them; large ones up to a hundred.
  • Traffic control centers for major metropolitan areas are this, combined with The Big Board. They will have one or two very large screens (often floor-to-ceiling or close to it) showing the entire region's traffic flow, then dozens of other wall-mounted screens displaying individual traffic cameras and smaller neighborhood details.
  • Monty Oum's standard work setup involved a huge number of screens, at which he seemed to be both watching inspiration material and working on multiple things at once.
  • Chinese package delivery giant Alibaba created a 24-hour TV special for November 11th, 2015note  whose background, although it was one big screen, functioned as a wall of monitors divided into various stats, updates, and the occasional live transmission. In front of the big screen were presentations, interviews, and performances with Alibaba's founder as its host. Rather than something ominous, however, this TV special presented itself as something glorious, as it was practically one big infomercial with guest stars like Daniel Craig and Kevin Spacey talking about discounts and bargains available from Alibaba on that day only.
  • Sir Terry Pratchett famously favoured a multi-screen set up in his writing room ("the Chapel") so he could see the current draft, the previous draft, his research, and Doom all at once. He was once asked why he had six screens, and replied it was all he had room for.


Video Example(s):


I'll Find the Truth

In the opening of "Radio Harry," Lisa Casper asks General McAllister what she thinks about the latest prisoner at their black site facility. McAllister admits that she's not sure yet, but promises she'll find out the truth about all of them as a set of nine monitors are shown, with prisoners that have been captured for as long as 31 years.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / OminousMultipleScreens

Media sources: