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Phantom Zone

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His parents built a very strange machine; it was designed to view a world unseen.
*eerie music*

Another Dimension where a cast can have adventures and epic battles without generally affecting any place outside of this dimension or vice versa (although that possibility might crop up as a multi-part arc). It's a different story for anyone inside of course.

This also allows said battles to be Invisible to Normals.

The laws of physics may not apply in this space, and characters might have powers they wouldn't normally possess.

Hurling a bad guy into an alternate dimension is a great way to provide a bloodless "death" for a Big Bad, or just set up his return because you never know when he might pop back out of that alternate dimension to ruin your day. If animated shows for young kids ever require a villain to be Killed Off for Real, they'll usually throw him in a phantom zone and then lock the door behind him; he's not really dead, but he's also never coming back. Of course, this can also be the setup for Sealed Evil in a Can via a Tailor-Made Prison.

The name comes from an alternate dimension in The DCU, where Krypton sent its condemned criminals; they didn't die, but they were almost completely unable to influence the world outside. Much like Australia.

In video games, this is sometimes the justification for the Amazing Technicolor Battlefield. See also Crystal Prison for a common cage.

May be related to the Void Between the Worlds, which, if supernatural powers are involved, may be the equivalent of Purgatory and Limbo.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Une is a literal Mirror Monster with her own mirror world—an uninhabited copy of the material world connect to it by reflective surfaces. Damaging it has no effect on the other side. Initially Une just lured her opponents there so could use her illusion powers, but after her Heel–Face Turn she deliberately pulled away participants in another battle to protect the ones nearby unable to fight.
  • The Doom Dimension from Bakugan Battle Brawlers is depicted as a cross between this and an afterlife that anyone can leave either through teleporting out or by using a time portal, but both require a tremendous amount of power (otherwise the former won’t work, while the latter will only be temporary before you return to the present)
  • An interesting version occurs in Bleach. The local Mad Scientist rigged up an entire town, sent it to the afterlife, and created an exact copy of the town, and set it up where the original was, in order to attempt to fool the Big Bad, and also to prevent people from dying while the Shinigami and Hollows are fighting each other. How the scientist prepared for people trying to enter/leave the town while this switch is in place is never explained.
  • In one episode of the OVER arc in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Bo-bobo, Don Patchi, and Tokoro Tennosuke combine into "Bobopatchnosuke" to defeat a trio of oddball ninjas. He does so by pulling them into an alternate dimension called "Majide Time" ("Maji de?" roughly translates as "seriously?" in Japanese), where he performs attacks that are even more bizarre than normal, growing more powerful as his thoroughly confused opponents repeatedly shout "Maji de?!"
  • Subverted in Bokurano. The fights between the giant robots involve one going into the other's home dimension, but all of them are inhabited, so they cause exactly as much damage as one would imagine. Cities are destroyed, thousands of innocents are crushed, etc.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • One technique simply creates an area where people are somehow absent; another employs a "sides of a coin" metaphor that prevents people on one side (like magicians) from interfering with those on another (those who aren't involved).
    • The distortion created from the clash between various supernatural powers in Baggage City produces one of these, which drew in the people involved in the battle and also made tragedy more likely to occur. It was engineered by GREMLIN as an experiment into Holism and its existence proven when it was shattered by the Imagine Breaker with Touma's appearance.
  • Battles in Day Break Illusion happen in the "Astralux," which is something like a collective subconscious.
  • Digimon:
  • Dragon Ball:
  • The Red Night in 11eyes. While the space of the battles is confined to inside the city, the place gets severely wrecked up and, thankfully, none of the property damage that occurs within transfers back to the real world.
  • Eternal Alice: The Merveille Space. It becomes a plot point because Aruto is the second male to be able to enter it apart from Alternate L. Takion.
  • The Class Cards in Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA hide in darkened replicas of portions of the real world, much like Closed Space in Haruhi Suzumiya, which collapse and vanish shortly after the card is captured. It's a good thing the collateral damage isn't transferred to reality, because some of the fights cause extreme environmental devastation.
  • Rider's Reality Marble in Fate/Zero generates these. Ultimately leads to his own destruction, as it allows Archer to use his world-destroying weapon without damaging the real world.
  • Gluttony's stomach in the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and Brotherhood anime is literally an unending bloodsoaked void with no exit in which Ed, Ling, and Envy get trapped.
  • GaoGaiGar's Dividing Driver created a pocket dimension where the Humongous Mecha could fight the Monster of the Week without the property damage usually associated.
  • Closed Space in Haruhi Suzumiya, where giant ethereal beings known as Celestials rampage about destroying everything. No damage is reflected in the real world, but the Celestials still need to be destroyed in order to destroy the Closed Space and prevent The End of the World as We Know It.
  • A fox spirit in Kanokon uses these to provide privacy when she attempts to have sex with the show's protagonist. At one point, the zone breaks down, returning them both to the middle of a crowded street in front of about fifty of their schoolmates.
  • The Humongous Mecha of Sortie! Machine Robo Rescue have the ability to create special fields known simply as Zones to contain any enemies or obstacles that might get in the way of their rescue efforts.
  • Similarly, the Barriers in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which works by displacing magic users into a contained Phantom Zone, though damages to the environment are still retained and need to be fixed by The Federation afterwards. Useful in the first two seasons where the setting was the non-magical Earth, so only the magical heroes would be trapped with the current threat. Nigh useless in the third season and beyond, where the setting is Mid-Childa where everyone is a magic-user, including the Innocent Bystanders.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Evangeline is able to create one of these with her magic, transporting herself and the victim to her special resort. Naturally, only seconds actually pass while this is happening.
  • Invoked by the protagonists of Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!. Nyarko even lampshades it in the first episode as a "convenient barrier", twice, explaining it as "important information", complete with an Aside Glance.
  • In Prétear, Shin, who is too young to fight anyway, has the job of setting up the zone where the outside world can't be influenced or damaged and then watching as the grown-ups take care of business.
  • The witches of Puella Magi Madoka Magica hang out in bizarre "labyrinths" that are only accessible in a small area, and the entrance is Invisible to Normals. But normal people can still get sucked into them, usually to their doom. Walpurgisnacht is so powerful that it doesn't need a labyrinth, so it rips the city to bits instead.
  • The Alice Game in Rozen Maiden is fought in N-space, while the series otherwise takes place primarily in a single Building of Adventure.
  • Seal of Suppression (Fuzetsu) from Shakugan no Shana. Stains everything red, everyone outside forgets that the sealed area exists and avoids it subconsciously, and lets the Flame Hazes and Denizens wreak as much havoc as necessary within its limits.
  • Star Driver: The Zero Time.
  • X/1999: The Kekkai are seven magical seals spread around Tokyo to prevent the impending apocalypse. Each Kekkai is protected by a magic user belonging to the group known as "Dragons of Heaven", sworn defenders of humankind's continued existence. Another group, the seven Dragons of Earth, meanwhile, are protectors of Earth from humanity, tasked with destroying all Kekkai. When the two sides battle, one of the Dragons of Heaven must erect a Kekkai Field to remove the surrounding landscape (minus the muggles) from the regular space and into the Phantom Zone, where they can battle unimpeded. If the Dragon of Earth attacker is killed or driven off, the Kekkai Field is removed safely, undoing any structural damage that occurred inside; however, if the host Dragon of Heaven is killed instead, their Field fails and all battle damage becomes permanent, with horrifying consequences to the hapless muggles caught in it.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has the Shadow Realm. The Millennium Items each can transport the area around the user (and anyone else in it) to the Shadow Realm, an Another Dimension full of Mons that can be summoned to fight each other. Alternatively, they can trap a person's mind in the Shadow Realm, leaving their body functioning normally (although from the fact that Jonouchi/Joey breaks out of it, this is implied to be an illusionary spell cast on the victim) or seal their soul into a Soul Jar. (Yami Marik does the former, Pegasus does the latter.)
  • Yumeria: Averted. The dream world looks like a Phantom Zone, but as Mone's appearance in the real world at the end of the first episode attests, there's a very real connection between the two.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City: Samaritan has access to such a dimension, but rather than use it for criminals or epic battles, he uses it as... a storage closet, mainly holding all the awards and plaques he regularly receives. It's also a convenient place to change his clothes when no phone booth is available.
  • Grant Morrison's Marvel Boy series had the "pocket battlefield", a small cube that essentially does to physical space what the "incoming games" did to Mainframe on Reboot; impose a virtual yet tangible interactive environment on the local reality, but the twist being that said environment gives anyone in it except the designated user a major case of the heebie-jeebies, giving him an advantage over his foes.
  • Superman:
    • The Trope Namer is the Phantom Zone (as well known as Ghost Zone, Limbo, Hyperspace, Underworld or The Land of No Return), the barren, harsh dimension absent of any physical material and located outside of the normal space/time continuum to which Kryptonian criminals are banished.
    • Since it was Jor-El -Superman's father- who discovered the Zone and developed the Phantom Zone Projector -which could send people into it-, the Zone inmates bear a massive grudge against the House of El and the last members of the lineage: Superman and Supergirl.
    • In Convergence: The Adventures of Superman #1, Superman and Supergirl have to go into the Zone. Superman warns his cousin that "The Zone's dangerous. Filled with Krypton's worst. And because our fathers built their prison, we'll be targets". As they fly over the place, Kara notes that the Zone is "Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles", and the sky changes colors constantly and suddenly. Superman states that "Nothing in the Zone makes sense".
    • In Supergirl (Rebirth), Lar-On was quarantined to this place, where he would remain frozen outside real time. However he escaped the Zone through a dimensional rift.
    • In The Great Phantom Peril, the entire population of Earth is sent into the Zone.
    • In Strangers at the Heart's Core, Supergirl's hardships start when a dimensional rift lets criminal Shyla Kor-Onn out of the Zone. Later, Supergirl gets thrown into that grey-looking, immaterial limbo, and has to fight her way through the Zoners to find Mon-El.
    • The Zone definitely had some unpleasant properties, but it also had some beneficial effects: Superboy put Mon-El in the Phantom Zone after he was exposed to lead (which causes fatal poisoning for members of Mon-El's race). In the Zone, Mon-El's illness did not progress and he did not age, which was good because it took until the time of the Legion of Super-Heroes (around a thousand years) before an antidote was discovered and he was able to leave the Zone.
    • In The Untold Story of Argo City, it is revealed that Supergirl's parents Zor-El and Allura became trapped in a pocket limbo-like dimension called the Survival Zone which drifts through the galaxy.
    • In The Girl with the X-Ray Mind, villain Lesla-Lar builds a portal device to pull the Kryptonian criminals out of the Zone. Later, Supergirl creates a Phantom Zone Projector to send them back in the "twilight dimension".
    • In Escape from the Phantom Zone, Supergirl and Batgirl are thrown into the Zone at the same time that Xa-Du, one of most depraved Kryptonian criminals, is slaying other inmates as part of a scheme to get out of his prison.
      Supergirl: The Phantom Zone.
      Batgirl: And that is...?
      Supergirl: A dimension beyond time. Cold, dark, empty... I was there once. I would forget it if I could.
    • In The Phantom Zone mini-series, it is revealed that the Phantom Zone is surrounded by an endless energy wall, beyond which spread even weirder dimensions created by a cosmic being called Aethyr.
  • Superlópez: The "dark dimension" in which Superlópez squares off with the witch Morgana and her horde of demons.
  • Supreme (the good Alan Moore version) has Looking-Glass Land, literally the same world visited by Alice, but on a different continent of that planet, used to exile the criminals no normal jail could hold.
  • Grant Morrison's JLA (1997) introduces the Still Zone, where the League battle the White Martians and, later, Prometheus. According to these stories, the Still Zone (or, as Prometheus calls it, the Ghost Zone), which the White Martians use in place of Hyperspace, is both the Phantom Zone and (according to the angel Zauriel) Limbo...and probably also the Stasis Zone that was at the time standing in for the Phantom Zone in M'Onel's origin and the Buffer Zone that Bgzltians phase into. A later story adds Epoch's "timeless void" and DC One Million's "tesseract space" to the list.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Supergirl (1984) movie has the title character thrown into the Phantom Zone by her nemesis Selena using the power of the Omegahedron, which strips Supergirl of her powers in the process. Zaltar, who came to the Phantom Zone as a self-imposed exile for losing the Omegahedron in the first place, pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to allow her to escape and regain her powers.
  • Doctor Strange (2016) shows the Mirror Dimension, which looks like the mortal world put through a kaleidoscope. Sorcerers can do pretty much anything there, but the normal world stays unaffected. The titular hero tries to take advantage of this at one point to trap his enemy- only to realize that his enemy is far more powerful in the Mirror Dimension.
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore:
    • Dumbledore sends a drop of what appears to be pensieve water at Credence to transport him unknowingly to a fake Berlin where they duel before emerging out of a puddle at the end.
    • Due to the blood pact breaking, Dumbledore and Grindelwald seem to get transported to some kind of pocket dimension where they can duel with nobody else around.
  • At the end of Fantastic Four (2015) the gang go back to the extradimensional Planet Zero where they got their powers and have to defeat Doctor Doom to stop him reaching Earth.
  • In Everything Everywhere All at Once Alpha Waymond creates a "Burner Universe" where he can explain things by intercepting her before her tax interview and telling her she can either go to her interview or the janitor's closet and slips her a note telling her how to Flash Sideways to the universe where she went to the closet instead.

  • The Nevernever in The Dresden Files
  • Max And The Midknights Battle Of The Bodkins: The Land of Shadows, or as the Bodkins know it, the Land of Knot, where the Bodkins have been trapped for who-knows-how-long by Prince Torin, and is only accessible by walking into a tree. There's a mirror that the Bodkins have been trying to repair in Knot to get back to Byjovia, but so long as the last shard is out of reach, only child-sized Bodkins can go through it.
  • The Twilight in Night Watch (Series).
  • The Dreamlands in H. P. Lovecraft's stories are a subversion of this — humans are still rather insignificant, but they are insignificant in a mythical if dark fantasy land that people in the Waking World are unaware exists.
  • Scott Corbett wrote a series about ghost detectives, that had ghosts almost completely unable to affect the living world.
  • Fairies will erect a "Time Stop" for this purpose in the Artemis Fowl series. On the inside, an impassible, dome-shaped forcefield will cover the area. Muggles can enter the area from the outside but they'll find it devoid of the people that are in the time stop.
  • The Cloak Society: The Gloom is a dimension accessed via shadows, which the villain Phantom can draw power from and control. Cloak uses it for Extradimensional Shortcuts and, in an Inversion of the Trope Namer, manage to trap the heroes there using the Umbra Gun.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battles in Kamen Rider Ryuki take place in a "Mirror Dimension" that is populated by ravenous monsters. This dimension can be accessed through any kind of reflective surface.
    • The Americanized version, Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, has this element, but the mirror dimension is a Parallel Universe named Ventara that was once populated until the Big Bad came to town, and the monsters (except for the ones the Riders are contracted to) all belong to him. There's also a Phantom Zone in the true Superman-form: for Never Say "Die" purposes, defeated Riders don't die, but are sucked into the "advent void," never to return.
      • It's not just Never Say "Die", as it becomes a plot point that getting sent there is not permanent
  • Smallville had Clark Kent visiting the phantom zone three times, at least one of them accompanied by his cousin Kara. It is bleak wasteland, and inhabited by criminals (and phantoms) who are very dangerous. Phantoms who escaped from the zone are a recurring problem for Clark. On the other hand, Clark is able to banish some of his deadliest enemies to the phantom zone.
  • Supergirl (2015): Supergirl's rocket remained trapped many years into the Zone before breaking free and landing on Earth. Season 6 features the Zone more heavily, and has it occupied by actual Phantoms that force the inmates to experience their worst nightmares.
  • Ultraman Nexus. Ultraman Nexus creates a so-called "Meta Field" that surrounds him and the Monster of the Week, creating a pocket dimension with a weird-colored sky and a rocky, craggy ground. In an interesting twist, the evil counterparts of Nexus, Dark Faust and Dark Mephisto, can transform this Metafield into the "Dark Field," a pocket dimension with a darker sky (natch!) that weakens Nexus slightly. Also, when the battles do threaten a real-world city, it becomes a major plot point.
    • The Ultraman franchise as a whole gives us the Monster Graveyard, which had originally appeared in the 35th episode of the original Ultraman. It's a section of space that effectively acts as its own dimension, full of Floating Continents and the semi-spectral forms of monsters defeated by Ultramen floating around in suspended animation. It's been the site of several major battles in the franchise's history, but often serves as a free supply zone for villains in need of a monster to resurrect to fight the heroes.
  • VR Troopers had the Battle Grid for when they wanted to deal with the Skugs in relative privacy. For the actual Monster of the Week, the usual MO was for JB to use the Vortex command to return them to Cyberspace, which had a suspicious resemblance to Super Sentai's BBC Quarry (every time). Also, in the second season, new Dragon Despera had the ability to send the whole fight to another dimension where the monster was usually stronger with a lot of crazy powers it never had in the 'real' world. "Escalate to the Indigo Sector!" (And when the hero got the upper hand there, it was time to do it again. "Escalate to the Fractal Zone!")
    • In the Metal Heroes franchise, the villains' use of this trope is seen in several series. Where Power Rangers/Super Sentai villains make monsters grow, Metal Heroes villains send the fight to a trippy alternate dimension where the monster is three times stronger. As seen in modern movies and sentai team-ups, the original was Space Sheriff Gavan and its "Makuu Space". In VR Troopers, Space Sheriff Shaider footage gives us the Indigo Sector and Fractal Zone. Jikuu Senshi Spielban footage of the franchise trying it differently by letting the hero initiate it to protect the city gives us JB's Vortex Command. Even Juukou B-Fighter had it, but the Gaohm Zone was used infrequently and wasn't always somewhere that couldn't exist on Earth, so Big Bad Beetleborgs didn't adapt it, instead giving a different explanation for the few instances of the battle ending up somewhere bizarre.
  • A rare Super Sentai example came from Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger, when AbareMax could use his powers to send the battle into an alternate dimension full of weird stuff, and basically give the Monster of the Week a Curb-Stomp Battle; once they returned to normal reality, the monster would pretty much explode right then and there. How exactly the AbareMax powers granted this ability isn't made clear; it wasn't clarified any more in Power Rangers: Dino Thunder either.

    Tabletop Games 

  • The Field of Shadow, also known as Zone of Darkness in BIONICLE. It's a featureless, normally empty and pitch-dark pocket dimension attached to the Matoran Universe, but the Brotherhood of Makuta uses it to store away the Zivon when they don't need it.

    Video Games 
  • Purgatorio in Bayonetta has some elements of this. Anyone in it is Invisible to Normals, but it does allow people in it (such as the title character) to interact with the real world to some degree. In fact, it's the only place where the demons of Inferno and the angels of Paradiso can interact with the mortal world.
  • Your final battle against Lavos in Chrono Trigger happens in one of these, with backgrounds from various eras overlayed with a lightshow. Also, when you enter Lavos's shell, if you save, it has "???" as the time period. Fights with the Mammon Machine and Lavos's Shell also happen in some kind of a lightshow.
  • Item World from the Disgaea series qualifies to a certain degree. While having somewhat realistic battlefields (with grass and trees and blocks and even graveyards) and inhabitants (whom you fight, uh), these locations still float in colorful space and can only be quitted upon completing every ten floors or with the help of a specific item... Come on, it's up to a hundred floors of various sizes that exist inside equipable or non-equipable items! All the destruction that takes place (remember Laharl's Meteor Impact skill) are unseen and undamaging for anyone outside said worlds.
  • The boss battle with Giygas in EarthBound (1994).
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce has the Yami world. Certain Yami clan combatants are even able to create a Yami Space, a localized area with the physics of the Yami world.
  • The Void from Final Fantasy V, especially when you factor in Gilgamesh (yes, that one.) He's been able to join in and have fun in all sorts of dimensions. The best part? It's all canon.
  • Another example would be the optional fight against Diablos in Final Fantasy VIII, which takes place inside of the Magic Lamp Cid gives you.
  • The final track in F-Zero GX's Story Mode, as well as the final track in the Diamond Cup Grand Prix (same setting, different layout).
  • In Guild Wars, the crystal dragon Glint hides inside a grain of sand... in the middle of a desert. It just so happens this magical grain of sand contains a Phantom Zone where Glint makes her home. The place is pretty huge and includes six areas, one of which houses Glint herself. You can even optionally fight Glint as a superboss.
  • Another Dimension in Kirby's Return to Dream Land.
  • The Midnight Channel in Persona 4 is a spooky, fog-filled dimension that exists inside televisions. Persona 3 has a Phantom Time in the form of the Dark Hour, 60 extra minutes between one day and the next that most people can't perceive.
  • The Distortion World in Pokémon. You can fight a giant, ultra powerful, legendary Pokemon, capture it, and make it fight. Nothing else really, except run around.
    • Subverted in the anime equivalent, the Reverse World. Whatever you destroy in this world, affects the "real world" greatly.
  • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon The Voidlands is a hellish landscape where the spirits of Pokemon turned into stone are sent. The only exit is an upside-down mountain that corresponds to the Pokemon world's Reverse Mountain that has a water spring that can undo petrification.
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue have these happening in levels where the bosses can grow fifty-foot into behemoths after their initial defeat, where you then summon the Train Megazord. Then the level automatically throws you into a blank void made of purple and blue aura for the battle to continue while avoiding collateral damage.
  • The Bydo home dimension in R-Type is a Phantom Zone of sorts, and, what with being inhabited by the Embodiment of Evil (the Bydo), is a very scary place. Often, the final levels of the games would take place in that dimension, which could get downright disturbing.
  • Shinobi Barriers in Senran Kagura are a variant of this, although the extent varies. Sometimes they simply prevent them from harming or being detected by bystanders, other times they embrace this trope to the fullest as personalized pocket dimensions.
  • Eternity Space in Star Ocean: The Second Story more or less works this way, though it's technically already not involved in the story any more by the time the game begins.
  • The entire plot of Subspace Emissary mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl revolves around the titular subspace.
  • The Noise Plane and Imaginary Plane in The World Ends with You.
  • The Domains in Shin Megami Tensei IV are labyrinths Demons construct to entrap their prey, and you go through a fair few of them on your quest. The Monochrome Forest also counts.
  • ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal: The Fairy Duel Arenas are pocket dimensions with increasingly bizarre architecture. While the low-level arenas appear as rather reasonable Ruins for Ruins' Sake, high-level arenas may look like a giant stone corkscrew or a number of random stone slabs just floating in the sea of nothing.

    Web Comics 
  • "The Infinite" for Jenny Everywhere and "the Unfinite" for Jenny Nowhere can have this role, as well as serving as a home base for each; for example, Jenny Nowhere drags Jenny Everywhere into the Unfinite when they first meet in Jenny and the Multiverse.
  • The webcomic Captain SNES shows "What a RPG battle looks like from outside".
  • A nameless, Lovecraftian dimension exists in Dominic Deegan that has, so far, been used as a convenient way to get rid of villains so they can return later. Although the indiscriminate infiltration of tentacles into their various orifices seems to be a bad side effect of staying in this dimension for too long.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Universe Zero, chosen because life never formed there.
  • The timestream serves as this for rogue time traveler Scarlett in the Web Comic TRU-Life Adventures.

    Western Animation