Follow TV Tropes


Our Doors Are Different

Go To

The Doctor: Look at this. Classic design. Pressure seals, hinges. None of that shk-shk nonsense.
Nardole: Space doors are supposed to go shk-shk, not urrrrr.

The creators of a show or movie really want to demonstrate that we are in a highly advanced future setting. This usually involves some futuristic furniture, holographic displays and, surprisingly often, really weird door designs.

Doors and hatches tend to be pretty boring objects in Real Life. They are usually rectangular, flat and have only one or two moving parts, mostly because this is the most simple and efficient design.

In the minds of many set designers, future doors are different. This may include:

  • Automated: Manually opened doors are near-extinct in the future. Even the most rarely used storage room will have an automated door, or at least a door that opens as soon as you press a button.
  • Noisy: Sound effects are mandatory (swooshes and beeps are popular).
  • Lots and lots of parts: Highly complex designs with many interlocking and overlapping parts for no apparent reason.
  • No right angles: Non-rectangular shapes (especially hexagons) and protruding parts that use a lot of space and reduce clearance. Bonus points for huge and intricate locking mechanisms.
  • Converging from all directions: Door panels coming not only from left and right but also from above and below. Uses even more space. Less common in Live-Action TV because it is expensive to build on a set. A typical example is the "iris door".

Note that while the first two traits are justifiable in most cases, the others are often a consequence of Rule of Cool, with essentially no advantage over simpler designs.

This trope is mainly intended for high-tech door designs that are needlessly complicated and impractical. It usually does not apply when magic is involved, after all, wizards can do anything.



    open/close all folders 
    Anime & Manga 
  • Galaxy Angel has several including two-tone double doors that split diagonally along different axes.

    Comic Books 
  • ElfQuest has a variation: the exterior "door" to Blue Mountain is solid rock until the elf named Door is commanded to make an opening in it telekinetically.

    Fan Works 
  • All facilities in the multi-fandom Game Over series have metal doors that part down the middle and slide open and shut with a hydralic hiss. However, they are rectangular at least.
  • Averted, in contrast to the game, in Mass Effect: Interregnum - regular hinged doors are mentioned several times. Being set mostly in run down and poor areas, however, this is justified.
  • Used for Zee Rust in Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space when a sliding door activated by infra-red sensor is presented as a 'miracle of science'.
  • Rocketship Voyager. Averted with the eponymous rocketship which has manually-operated hatches, however the cube-ship of the Psiborg Collective has dilating doors.
  • This line from the Parody Fic B'Elannarella.
    Stepping into the ship's excretory orifice, Anna was spewed out onto the planet's surface.

    Films — Animated 
  • Wreck-It Ralph: King Candy's safe, which holds the source code for Sugar Rush, is secured with a Nintendo Entertainment System controller. In order to access it, King Candy uses the Konami Code.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Spoofed in Airplane II: The Sequel, where the doors were voice activated—to open them the characters (including William Shatner) made a Star Trek-like "Shhhk!" sound where upon the door opens with a shhhk! Repeat to get it to close.
  • The Black Hole. The Cygnus has hatches that slide up, down, apart and sideways. In one scene a door slides up halfway from the deck, providing cover for the Killer Robots' lower half while they fire over the top.
  • Forbidden Planet: The doors left by the Krell had two of these traits, "no right angles" (a flattened pentagon, leading to speculation that the Krell were Starfish Aliens) and "converging from all directions" (actually four doors—two raising to the roof, and one sliding to either side).
  • Lampshaded in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. A pair of aliens encounter a normal door and begin to panic when it doesn't open by itself.
  • Mars Attacks!. The humans Roll Out the Red Carpet for the Flying Saucer, which obligingly rolls out a tongue-like ramp to connect with it.
  • Oblivion (2013). The Tet has a triangular entrance with three rotating triangular doors, as befits its triangular shape. These doors are only shown after The Reveal that the Tet is alien spacecraft and not a human-built space station, so the trope is used to accentuate its alien design.
  • In Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (once featured on MST3K), the Martians doors opened by pointing at them.
  • Star Wars: Not only are they different from reality, it's rare to see two similar doors in a whole darn movie. The Empire seem to be fond of doors that close vertically and swiftly, evoking a guillotine.
    • The most standard Star Wars door appears to be the Imperial blast door, which appears with little change even in the pre-Imperial era: the guillotine-like device that slides up and down, resulting in a diamond-shaped passage.
  • These Are the Damned. Juvenile delinquent King is a bit freaked out at the sensor-activated automatic door used to enter the secret underground facility where the children are kept. The children can open it by waving a hand across a sensor, but he can't; plus the door won't open from the inside. This turns out to be plot-significant.

  • In Computer War by Mack Reynolds, a government bureaucrat goes on a brief rant about automatic doors, because what if he wanted to walk up to the door and not enter, to eavesdrop on someone inside? He concedes that at least it's better than the automatic doors of his youth that would open for anyone, instead of being programmed for specific people.
  • Dragon Bones: Doors are not intentionally programmed to love their existence, but Oreg mentions that it is hard to keep a door closed with magic, but easy to open it, as doors are made for letting people in and out, and it is against their nature to stay closed.
  • Harry Potter has a fantasy version in the vault doors of Gringotts bank: as befitting one of the most secure places in the world, the magic-enhanced locking mechanism covers the entire door, so everything moves when the goblin banker unlocks it.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Doors manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation are programmed to love their simple lives; they love nothing more than to open and close for passing users, and thank them profusely for so emphatically validating their existence.
  • The Machineries of Empire: Hexarchate spaceships connect their interior rooms through Extradimensional Shortcuts that can be rerouted at will, so, rather than bother with a door, characters might walk through a solid wall and get whisked down an infinitely-long hallway to their destination.
  • The Neverending Story appropriately, in the Temple of a Thousand Doors. Doors were described as extremely thin, thick, gingerbread, buttoned, caves, shaped like an ear, mouth, etc.
  • Hobbit doors are round in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The parody The Soddit notes how Awesome, but Impractical such a door is, given that all the door's weight is on a single hinge, making it prone to drafts and jamming.
  • Neverwhere. Door's family can open, well, anything. Their house is really freaky.
  • The War Against the Chtorr. In A Season for Slaughter, a robot probe is sent into a Chtorran nest, which turns out to have Organic Technology doorways resembling a labia. On seeing this on the camera screen, one soldier quips, "If there are teeth behind that thing, I'm turning gay."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • Many doors on the station (mostly to living quarters) are automatic, pentagon-ish and hinged at the top to rotate out of the way. The Observation Dome and Medlab doors slide horizontal to Centrifugal Gravity (though for whatever reason, the seal between Medlab doors is diagonal to this). However it is subverted on Earth where they have perfectly ordinary wooden hinged doors in most buildings. It would appear that the station needs doors that can be sealed in the event of a hull breach, which is not a problem on Earth.
    • On Z'ha'dum, the automatic doors open with the standard door noise. The shadows tried sneaking up on Sheridan by having the door open quietly, but Sheridan wasn't caught off guard.
  • Blake's 7 uses the downward-descending door version so that Gan can do a Heroic Sacrifice holding it up long enough for the others to pass beneath it in "Pressure Point". In "Orac", a rotating tube elevator rises from the sand to take the protagonists to an underground bunker. The entrance to Xenon Base in Season D involves a pair of revolving triangular doors.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In every season bar one of the classic series, the inner doors of the TARDIS are massive and power-operated, with hexagonal edges on the hinge side.
    • In "The War Games", the aliens' security chief has a door of the 'converging from all directions' design. The top part is deliberately made to resemble a guillotine blade. The aliens' space/time machines also have noisy powered doors, and it's strongly implied that the same is true of TARDISes in their default form. In the same story, some TARDISes are shown as featureless boxes with doors that actually slide outwards - like a gull-wing door that stays parallel to the surface it's projecting from.
  • Get Smart
    • Parodied in the Title Sequence where the bumbling hero enters (and in the credits, leaves) CONTROL's underground headquarters through a veritable gauntlet of automatic sliding or swinging doors. Hilarity Ensues.
    • In The Nude Bomb the entrance to the supervillain's mountain lair was a giant zipper. When Max sees it start to open, he says to (female) Agent 22, "Close your eyes, we don't know what's coming out of that thing!" In Control headquarters there's also a door disguised as the wall next to the door, as part of the Running Gag of spy gadgets.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The scene right before the movie starts shows a hallway with various different kinds of doors.
  • In Red Dwarf: The Promised Land, the doors on the Cat spaceship are just big sheets of plastic, hinged at the top.
  • SeaQuest DSV: Played very straight, with lots of different doors and hatches. Going red alert on the SeaQuest includes closing all kinds of hatches, so they show this off a lot.
    • Justified Trope (somewhat) in that the creators took steps to try and make SeaQuest appear as practical as possible. While contemporary subs of the time (1993) had fairly standard doors throughout, their prediction of the future (...of 2014) was that subs would be much more developed than they actually were over the years.
  • Star Trek
    • Used mildly on Federation vessels. The doors are automated and come with a trademarked sound, but are otherwise normal (except for knowing when they're needed). Played straight with Deep Space Nine, with lots of weirdly shaped doors because the space station was built by the Cardassians.
    • The creators went overboard with the automated doors. Almost every alien society has them, no matter what their technological level or whether there's actually an energy source available to power them. It should be noted that reality still writes the plot, as not a single door goes down into the floor, since the soundstage floor can't really be altered.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series had a set whose doors (and corridors) were unusually shaped; it was reused, with different trim and paint schemes, for many episodes set on alien planets or ships.
    • Interestingly, many of the doors in the hallways slide up into the ceiling despite the fact that there are pipes running along the ceiling and through to door's frame, meaning that the pipes either get cut off every time one of the doors opens, or don't actually do anything.

  • Analog: The October 1939 issue has a door that is shaped like a movie set's bank vault door, with small levers set into the centre instead of a wheel.

    Video Games 
  • Doors in Batman: Arkham Asylum are massive steel slabs with body scanners and several locks and slide open either very fast or incredibly slow. Justified since they are designed to keep the worst psychopaths from escaping the asylum, but it's not like they actually work.
  • Descent has a normal door design, but an occasional one with four corner panels that retract into walls. Descent 2 includes door panels that converge from all directions even more than a regular iris door. Descent 3 has a variety of doors, some of which take time to open due to their closure mechanism. In all games, shooting doors causes them to open (unless locked).
  • Becomes apparent in Doom 2016's SnapMap Mode where you can choose the type of door connecting two rooms, such as ascending vertically, splitting in two, splitting in four and more, but none that actually swing to the side via a hinge and opened with a handle. This may be a Mythology Gag, as the original IdTech Game Engine that powered the original Doom and its sequel was incapable of making doors swing open any other way. (They'd figured out how to do it by the time Hexen came out a couple of years later.)
  • Fallout 3 has overcomplicated doors everywhere, a standard secure door folds up sideways and then the middle part sinks into the floor. Then there's the Vault doors, which light up and having a warning klaxon and spin when the open button is pressed.
  • In the opening train ride in the first Half-Life, Gordon goes through a number of very elaborate blast doors in the tour of the Black Mesa Elaborate Underground Base.
  • Mass Effect and its sequels love their bizarre, six or more segment doors.
  • Both MDK games feature unusual doors, that fold themseves like origami. The most prominent example would be the folding "fan" door in vertical shafts in the first level of the second game. Since it was made by Bioware it kind of serves as a foreshadowing of the previously listed Mass Effect example.
  • Doors in Metroid are opened by firing energy weapons at them, are circular, and come in many, many component parts that open separately, or look like a bubble. Most often the doors seen are on planets once inhabited by Chozo, like Zebes, which are now occupied by space pirates. Usually, they're unlocked using weapons the space pirates do not possess. Galactic federation doors, to confuse players, are simple automated doors. The games in the Metroid Prime Trilogy explain shoot-to-open doors as Samus' weapon deactivating a force field intended to keep critters out.
  • The X-Naut fortress in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. It's on the moon. The doors require passwords and keys, and make a "swish" sound upon opening.
  • All doors in The Persistence are suitably science-fictional, either being totally automatic or automatic to those accepted by their retinal scanner. You only need to physically move malfunctioning doors that can randomly close in your face.
  • In Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, the doors on General Skun-ka'pe's ship slide in a different direction every time they open or close. For example, the first time, a door will slide to the right to open and then come up from the bottom to close. The next time, the door could open by sliding up and close from the left. Apparently, his ship, like everything in the game, runs on the Rule of Funny.


    Western Animation 
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command has just about every type of high-tech door/hatch you could think of, plus the occasional doorknob.
  • Futurama
    • In "Space Pilot 3000", Fry stares in awe of the automatic sliding doors that slide up. However, he's doing so directly under the door, so just as he says "Wow, just like in Star Trek" the door closes down on him. Then mere moments later, he goes through another door and looks up, expecting the door to come down again. Only this time, it closes on him from the side.
    • The doors to the bridge of the Planet Express ship from Futurama even work differently each time they're shown. Some doors even have two sound effects. A sound effect that you would normally expect from that type of door, and the Star Trek sound effect.
  • The Simpsons episode "Hurricane Neddy": When Ned's house gets destroyed by a tornado and the town rebuilds it there are several oddly shaped doors because the townsfolk who rebuilt his house don't actually know anything about building houses.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: The doors of the buildings on the Galardonian homeworld are round.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: In his book The Design of Everyday Things, Cognitive Scientist Don Norman describes the ways in which architects and designers invariably create fancy doors that are hard to operate, typically because it is not obvious which side is hinged, or whether they open inward or outward. In an updated edition, he notes that people have started telling him stories of "Norman doors."
  • The Evolution Door
  • Watertight doors on a sea ship can be expected to have at least six bolts and a complex locking mechanism ensuring that they are all engaged when the door is closed. Also, they can often be closed remotely and "should" have a distinctive alarm when they are remotely closed.