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Prison Dimension

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"Another dimension. The ultimate purgatory of punishment and exile. A timeless sensory deprivation tank that, in time... will drive any prisoner mad."
Eradicator, Action Comics (Vol 1) #983

Another Dimension that is largely used for the sole purpose of imprisoning someone or something.

Has shades of Pocket Dimension and Tailor-Made Prison. See also Phantom Zone, Sealed Evil in Another World and Sealed Evil in a Can.

If this dimension is an afterlife, it's most likely some variant of Hell.

Examples of this trope include:

    open/close all folders 

  • Mechamato: A variant, there are digital spaces primarily used to imprison bad robots.
    • After Rubika installs himself into Amato's Mechaniser, the device is able to capture bad robots inside of it, which is convenient since they were being held in Amato's garage and house until then. They appear in cages on the user interface after being sucked into it, but a view from the inside shows it to be an open space where all the bad robots can move around.
    • Rubika had King Boxel trapped inside the digital space of a tablet for a century. In episode 12, a monkey plays with the tablet and accidentally sets him free.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Dead Zone from Dragon Ball Z. As Garlic Jr. was one of the few villains who successfully became immortal, it was the only way to get rid of him.
  • The Prison Realm from Jujutsu Kaisen is a special-grade cursed object, capable of trapping a single person in a dimension surrounded by an impenetrable barrier, which prevents the victim from moving or using cursed energy. Taking down the barrier from the outside is difficult; escaping once trapped is impossible, even for Satoru Gojo.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Shadow Realm is often used this way when a duelist loses against an evil Millennium Item wielder. Similar are the cards that Pegasus uses to imprison the souls of Seto and Mokuba Kaiba.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU
    • The Phantom Zone, where Krypton sent their condemned criminals.
    • In Many Happy Returns, Supergirl has sealed Xenon away in an empty Pocket Dimension he can't leave.
    • In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, the Imps of the Fifth Dimension punish Mxyzptlk by banishing him to the Second Dimension forever.
    • In Escape from the Phantom Zone, Supergirl, Batgirl and their friend Ben Rubel are thrown into the Zone. When Ben wonders why he cannot feel anything but cold, Supergirl explains that is part of the punishment. Criminals are not supposed to find their banishment pleasant.
    • The Phantom Zone mini-series tells how Jor-El discovered the Phantom Zone, and believing exile in a pocket dimension was more humane and cheaper of a punishment than killing or rocketing criminals into space, he built the Phantom Zone Projector to send them into the Zone.
      Jor-El: I am about to propose a more humane, less costly, yet equally effective method of criminal the Phantom Zone.
      Councilor: Whatever that is, proceed, Jor-El. [...] By Rao!! She's vanishing—into nothingness!!
      Jor-El: No, gentlemen—into another dimension. Lara is with us in this room, at this moment. She hears every word we speak, sees everything we do. [...] She is a wraith, unable to affect the material world in any manner. Nor can it affect her. In the Phantom Zone, she feels no hunger, requires no sleep— does not age. She can neither touch nor be touched. She can only think— as our criminals will be forced to contemplate the folly of her crimes.
    • In Last Son, General Zod traps Superman in the Phantom Zone.
    • At the end of The Great Phantom Peril, Superman sends Faora Hu-Ul and all Kryptonian rogues back into the Phantom Zone.
    • At the end of The Death of Superman (1961), Lex Luthor is sent into the Phantom Zone forever.
    • In Reign of Doomsday, Lex Luthor traps the Superman Family in a dimensional maze located inside an invisible abandoned spaceship located on the far side of the Sun. Luthor also throws into his trap a bunch of Doomsday clones so the Supers are being permanently hunted down. However, Supergirl throws one Doomsday down an endless tunnel, and it does not return. Superman ponders it may be a way to get rid of the Doomsdays.
    • The Leper from Krypton: Subverted. Superman is dying from an alien disease that will him within hours, and Supergirl comes up with the idea of sending him into the Phantom Zone, where nobody can age or die until a cure can be found. The Phantom Zoners do not want Superman to be saved, though, so they use their combined mental power to set up a barrier that Superman cannot pierce through.
    • Supergirl (1984): Zaltar is banished to the Phantom Zone in punishment for stealing the Omegahedron, one of Argo City's life support systems.
    • The Dominator War: Brainiac 5 builds a device that throws the whole Dominator homeworld into the Phantom Zone to stop them from spreading across the galaxy.
    • Supergirl's Greatest Challenge: A race of shape-shifting aliens steals a Phantom Zone Projector to send Supergirl into the Zone.
    • The Speed Force from The Flash can be used as a prison. Its most notable prisoners include Superboy-Prime during the events of Infinite Crisis, and more tragically, Wally West during the entirety of the New 52.
    • The Monsterlands in Shazam! (2018) are a vast dungeon complex where the Magical Lands send their worst criminals. Most of them are the Earth-Prime counterparts of classic Captain Marvel villains, but somehow Superboy-Prime ended up there as well.
  • Marvel Comics' Civil War event revealed that Iron Man's pro-registration faction had a prison built in the Negative Zone to house those who refused to go along with the Superhuman Registration Act. When Spider-Man discovered this, he promptly defects to Captain America's side. Predictably to any readers familiar with the history of the Negative Zone, in post-Civil War stories this choice of location backfires badly when the xenophobic Negative Zone natives discover the prison.
    • Oh, it gets better. If the threat of Blastaar or Annihilus showing up isn't bad enough, simply being in the Negative Zone has mind-altering effects on those who stay too long. Super-powered beings all stuck in one facility in a place that starts slowly driving them mad from the time they enter? What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • The No Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) is pretty much made up of a typical prison for villains who prove to be a threat to The Multiverse. Even alternate doppelgangers enforce that and wonky gravity to prevent the prisoners from escaping!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, it turns out that the Council of Kangs used the quantum realm as an ad hoc prison for one of their alternate selves who sought to eliminate the rest of them.
  • The Isle of the Lost in Descendants is a prison dimension for all of the villains in the Disney Animated Canon. The moral dilemmas in such a plan begin with the fact that Mal and the other descendants are also living in exile even though they aren't guilty of their parents' crimes.
  • The One: Based on what we see of the Stygian Penal Colony, the entire Hades Universe (or, at least, that universe's Earth) may be used to dump interdimensional offenders with life sentences.
  • Concussion was banished to one in Zoom: Academy for Superheroes after going insane and killing his teammates.
  • Superman Film Series:

  • Discworld has the Dungeon Dimensions, which are less than a shadow's width away. The things living there hate everything in the Discworlds dimension for being more real than them.
  • The Elder Empire: The world of Asylum is an entire universe dedicated to imprisoning six Class-1 Fiends, nigh-incomprehensible and unkillable entities from the Void. The problem is that an Iteration needs living human souls in order to remain healthy and, importantly for Asylum, safe from the Void. So there are millions of innocent people trapped in this world who have been constantly used as playthings for evil gods for millennia. Word of God is that the Abidan (who trapped the Fiends) assumed they'd kill off humanity in a few centuries and let the world fall into the Void, which would be an annoyance for the Fiends but ultimately not a huge problem. Instead, they proved patient enough to keep the humans alive so that they could scheme and hopefully escape fully.
  • The place known as the Forbidding in The Elfstones of Shannara was a dimension created solely for the purpose of sealing demonkind away from the rest of the world many millennia ago. It is simply a black void where not even time exists and by the start of the story, Ellcrys the tree that maintains the Forbidding is dying and some of the demons manages to escape, kickstarting the plot.
  • Goblins in the Castle: Goblins on the Prowl reveals the existence of the Pit of Thogmoth, "a terrifying place of fire and demons" beneath Nilbog, which was sealed shut by a collaboration of humans and goblins in order to keep the demons prisoner inside. The villain of Goblins on the Prowl is seeking to reopen it, which is explained during the final battle as his wanting to reunite with his demon kin inside.
  • In His Dark Materials, the afterlife is revealed to be a huge prison camp for the souls of every sentient being of the Multiverse, where residents are slowly driven insane by psychological torture to the point Cessation of Existence is an improvement.
  • In Ward, the Wardens Super Team begin using empty alternate earths as inescapable prisons for supervillains after their home earth is rendered basically uninhabitable along with the super-prison built there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel has a few examples:
    • A dimension where Ax-Crazy Straw Misogynist Billy Blim was trapped until Angel was blackmailed by Wolfram & Hart into breaking him out.
    • A "holding dimension" described as the Senior Partners' version of a penalty box that resembles a US suburban town, in which inmates are stripped of their memories, spend time with a fake family, and then have their hearts cut out by a demon in a vicious cycle.
  • Arrowverse
    • Like its comic book counterpart, the Speed Force from The Flash (2014) is a Pocket Dimension that acts like a prison. Over the course of the show, Savitar, Wally West, Jay Garrick, and Barry Allen have taken turns as prisoners within, and a speedster is actually needed to keep the energies of the Speed Force in check or else it will threaten The Multiverse. The Speed Force can even send agents to capture anomalies (usually time-displaced speedsters) akin to a parole officer.
    • Supergirl has the Phantom Zone. Like in Smallville, it houses other types of alien criminals as well as Kryptonians. At the start of the first season, a prison Space Station leaves the zone and crashes into Earth, letting all the prisoners escape, the better to create many an early Monster of the Week.
  • Grimm: The Other Place, Another Dimension where humans are primitive and Wesen are dominant, appears to function as one for Zerstörer.
  • Smallville has its own twist on the Phantom Zone, in which it is typically only the very worst criminals (such as General Zod) who are reduced to phantoms. Most retain their physical form.
  • Supernatural: Purgatory mainly functions as the afterlife for all the monster souls in the universe. However, the Grim Reaper later reveals that it was originally built by God as a prison to prevent the primordial Leviathans, God's first beasts, from eating the rest of creation.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In Classical Mythology, the classic example would have to be Tartarus, in which it was a deep abyss where it had torment and suffering for the damned, especially those who offended the gods particularly.

  • The Murder-Free Hotel: "Gay baby jail" is a Pocket Dimension full of weighted blankets where the Host can send anyone if they're causing too much trouble. Stew was sent there for a time after attempting suicide over being apparently upstaged by Pamela, and the Spy was sent afterwards for criticizing the Host's decision to do this. Much later, after Vivi gets the pink smoke, she also sends Hydroxyl there, after it's evident that many of the Hotel's residents cannot live peacefully with him around.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Tarterian Depths of Carceri is home to the universe's traitors and exiles. It's not the worst of the Lower Planes (if you can survive the malice and backstabbing of its inhabitants), but while there are numerous portals linking to it, there are almost no ways out of the plane save for the River Styx, which is a dangerous route at best.
    • Other planes aren't solely dedicated to imprisoning people but have their own ways of sealing away problems. One layer of the Abyss is called the Wells of Darkness after the liquid-filled pits that imprison an assortment of godlings and demons, patrolled by undead that can kill with a gaze. The plane of Pandemonium consists of wind-blasted tunnels that grow narrower as one moves down through its layers, and it's rumored that various horrible creatures (or great treasures) have been sealed inside hidden vaults within the lowest layer's depths.
    • Belierin, Elysium's swampy second layer, is a rare heavenly example. Long ago, a war party of guardinals came across the Hydra, the immortal paragon of hydras everywhere. They were unable to kill the immensely powerful monster, but also couldn't allow it to roam the planes at will, and thus decided to teleport it to Belierin. They then closed off the layer, making portals or planar travel to and from it impossible — the only way out is through the river Oceanus, which crosses the layer, but the Hydra cannot stand the touch and smell of its waters. The guardinals have developed a tendency to use Belierin as a prison for other evil beings that they can't destroy, and nobody but them is quite sure of how many monsters have been put into that particular can by now.
  • Several in Magic: The Gathering:
    • Zendikar didn't start out as one, and indeed it mostly isn't, since its denizens are capable of living their lives (as much as you can in a Death World, at least), and planeswalkers can come and go as they please. However, centuries before the current day of the story, three powerful planeswalkers manipulated the plane's leylines in order to imprisoned the immensely powerful Eldrazi here. They are freed by accident by Nissa Revane.
    • Ixalan is one for planeswalkers. The presence of an immensely powerful artifact known as the Golden Sun (made by one of the same planeswalkers that imprisoned the Eldrazi) prevents planeswalking out of the plane. Planeswalkers who end up here by accident are stuck, and native planeswalkers can barely get a glimpse of the blind eternities before being pulled back.
    • Bolas' Meditation Realm becomes one at the end of War of the Spark. Originally a plane for Bolas to meditate and consider his planes, it is hijacked by Ugin, its original creator, and used to imprison a severely weakened and crippled Nicol Bolas.
  • The Strange has Homebound, a recursion where prisoners translate into armless, legless and eyeless versions of themselves and are wheeled into high-security cells, under both magical and technological wards, without the ability to interact with other prisoners.

    Video Games 
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura: An ancient Elven council used to dump the most powerful villains into a dimension called the Void instead of simply executing them, since it is possible to return Back from the Dead, but not from the Void. As it turns out, the Void isn't entirely unescapable and its most dangerous banished is working to get out from there.
  • Brawlhalla has Terminus, previously the only mine in the multiverse that contained the dangerous ore known as Darkheart. Because of how dangerous it was, the gods folded it into its own dimension to both quarantine the ore and to have a place to banish the undesirables. One of the playable characters, Petra, was born and grew up in Terminus and was entered to Brawlhalla by the rather rebel vakyrie, Brynn, because of how much of a warrior she was.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: If the player completes arcade mode, a cutscene will show Regime Superman being sucked into the Phantom Zone's portal at the Fortress of Solitude. As he desperately tries to escape, he sees memories of the events leading to his Face–Heel Turn before being pulled in by a demon. Superman is then seen trapped inside a crystal, screaming in anguish as he is sent further into the Zone. This is also his fate in Injustice 2 if the player picks the Absolute Justice ending, where he tells Batman that he will make a comeback even if he's permanently depowered. Batman states that he'll be ready the day Superman escapes the Phantom Zone.
  • Killer Instinct: Both Eyedol and his Arch-Enemy Gargos were trapped in a dimensional prison until Ultratech broke them out.
  • Kingdom Hearts: It's stated in Kingdom Hearts II, and later elaborated on in Birth by Sleep, that Pete's constant troublemaking led Mickey and Minnie to banish him to another dimension, where he remained until Maleficent found and recruited him.
  • The "trap books" in Myst work this way, designed to capture greedy interlopers. Riven explains that they are Linking Books that seem to lead to another world, but have flaws in them that prevent the link from being completed, leaving the traveler trapped in a featureless void with only the book's viewing panel to look out of, if they're so lucky that the book remains open. Anyone foolish enough to try the link after this would trade places with the trapped one. Later games retconned this so that the "trap books" were merely stable links to other worlds that contained no way back.
  • Remnants of Isolation: As said in the game's description, the setting of the game is "a castle in an isolated dimension", and it's meant to imprison mages.
  • Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse episode 1 lampshades this with the Penal Zone. (Heh heh, "Penal Zone.")
  • In Sonic Forces, Sonic and the Avatar/Custom character are sent to Null Space, a dimensional prison of nothingness made by villains Eggman and Infinite. They eventually break out thanks to Super-Speed, Determination, and The Power of Friendship.
  • The Hidden Object Game Surface The Pantheon is mostly set in a Prison Dimension: a hollow-world-style holding area in which a slave-trading race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens leave abducted humans, other aliens, and animals to fend for themselves until they're put up for sale.


    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation has a few of these.
    • SCP-2701 is a prison cell that is a portal to a prison dimension where inhabitants are subjected to total sensory deprivation. Not only that, but time passes much more slowly in the cell than in our dimension, and prisoners are essentially immortal. The prison warden, grief-stricken and angry after the murder of his daughter, eventually "sentences" all of his prisoners to the cell. One isn't scheduled for release until the 34th century -- our time.
    • SCP-2317 is slowly revealed over multiple entries to be one of these for a massive humanoid creature imprisoned in a spherical cavern beneath its desert landscape. Turns out that six of the seven chains binding it are broken and it's all but guaranteed to break out and destroy the world within a century. The Foundation can't even re-imprison it because they'd need the bones of a similar entity to fashion new chains and they have no idea how to find one much less kill it.

    Western Animation 
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes uses the Negative Zone Prison idea from the comic book Civil War arc, but instead casts it as the prison that Hank Pym, Tony Stark, and Reed Richards create after a massive prison break freed all the supervillains from the four old Super-prisons. Each inmate gets an 8x8 Cell and a personal Ultron Robot Warden. Many of the Avengers consider the idea morally questionable but don't have good answers when asked for a better idea.
  • Ben 10 has the Null Void, which was originally a penal colony created by the Galvan to house their own prisoners, but soon the rest of the universe, including the Plumbers, found out and used it as well.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures has the Netherworld, a dimension that the Demon Sorcerers were banished to by the Eight Immortals. The Netherworld is a seemingly infinite void filled with floating rocks, which condemns the Demons to an eternity of boredom.
  • Miraculous Ladybug has Pixelator's Blank White Void, where he traps anyone he attacks via Phantom-Zone Picture. A Reality Bleed via Cat Noir's Cataclysm ends up being needed to free everyone.
  • The Containment Unit in The Real Ghostbusters eventually evolves into this. It has become a huge endless Dark World inhabited by all the ghosts and spirits that the ghostbusters ever captured.


Video Example(s):


The Omega Dimension

The Omega Dimension is a frozen Death World that is used as a dumping ground for the worst criminals in the Magic Dimension, who are all encased in ice beforehand. But when the Trix are sent there, Icy uses her ice magic to free herself and her sisters from cryostasis and make their escape.

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