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Request for Privacy

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"Remain if you wish, Kass. Know, however, that no one living will hear what passes between me and the Disciple of Aldur. Go and live — or stay and die."
Salmissra, Belgarath the Sorcerer

A character, usually in film or TV, is in a place with two or more other characters. This character asks others to leave in order to have a private conversation with one or more characters in the room.

The banished characters are rarely offended at being excluded and dutifully leave when asked. This is sometimes ironic because the asker does not trust the banished characters enough to include them, but does trust that the banished characters will be understanding about being asked to leave.

This trope is extremely common in media, serving a necessary narrative purpose, but relatively rare in real life. In a story, it is common for characters Alice, Bob, and Carol to be in the same place. If Alice needs to be alone with Bob for dramatic effect, i.e., the writer needs to have Alice and Bob talk without Carol overhearing, then having Alice banish Carol is often the most efficient means to this end. Also, it is common for Alice to want a private word with Bob so as not to embarrass Bob by dressing him down in front of others.

In some cases, the characters who are asked to leave may become offended and refuse, or comply but become resentful. Thus, the trope becomes a way to generate tension and conflict among the characters.

Another variation on this trope occurs when Alice asks Bob to leave so that she can be alone, sometimes to die in peace. It may also happen in Law Procedurals after an unexpected development in a trial: the lawyer whose case was adversely affected will say something like "Your Honor, may I have a moment to confer with my client?" and then try to plea-bargain or make some other major shift in legal strategy. Yet another variation is for something to go badly wrong in the private room and set up a Locked Room Mystery.

If the narrative focus follows the banished characters while the asker and someone else collaborate on a scheme offscreen, and later that scheme is successful, that overlaps with Unspoken Plan Guarantee.

This trope is very similar to Take Five. The difference is that in Request for Privacy, Alice explicitly tells Carol that she wants Carol to leave so she can talk to Bob alone. In Take Five, Alice does not explicitly tell Carol she needs to leave, and may make a phony request for Carol, e.g., asking her to check on something that doesn't really need to be checked on.

See also Talk About That Thing and Not in Front of the Kid. Compare Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee, where the departing character leaves on their own initiative to give the others privacy.


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    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • The Lion King (1994): After Mufasa saves Simba from the hyenas, he requests Zazu to take Nala home so he can talk to his son alone. Simba tries to hide upon hearing this, fearing what his father will do to him, and Zazu wishes him good luck. Mufasa then gives him a stern talking to about how he's disappointed with his behavior and how he irresponsibly put Nala in danger.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in Austin Powers in Goldmember. When Dr. Evil's son starts becoming evil himself, Dr. Evil shouts how it's getting a little crowded in the submarine deck they're all in and orders everyone to leave. Everyone starts getting up, but Dr. Evil then starts saying "Not you" followed by various people. By the time he's saying who doesn't have to leave, only Mini-Me hasn't been ordered to stay, making it apparent who Dr. Evil wants out of the room.
  • Back to the Future Part II: In Alternate-1985, Marty confronts Biff about the Gray's Sports Almanac while he's bathing in a hot tub with two bimbos, and he tells them to leave so he can talk to Marty privately about the Time Travel behind his wealth.
  • Batman (1989): Boss Grissom is having a council of war with Jack Napier and his advisers. When he makes a decision on what to do Grissom says "That's all, gentlemen" and shoos the advisers out. He then has a conversation with Jack where he asks him to take care of the problem (and sets him up to be taken out).
  • Constantine (2005): When Detective Angela Dodson arrives at the hospital to see her sister's body, her detective friend says to the other police personnel "Give us the room, please." and they all leave so he can talk with Angela privately.
  • Downfall: Adolf Hitler tells everyone to leave except four generals (to be more precise, he says that those four will stay, implicitly telling everyone else to leave), then screams at them so loudly that everyone else in the bunker can hear him. This is the scene that the Hitler Rants meme is made from.
  • Return of the Jedi: When Darth Vader brings Luke to Emperor Palpatine's throne room on the Death Star, Palpatine orders the guards to leave. His Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred! ploy to turn Luke to the dark side would presumably have been less effective with the heavily armed Imperial Guardsmen present.
  • A Blofeld Ploy example in The Spy Who Loved Me. Stromberg calls two scientists working for him into his office and tells them that one of the people involved in the project is a traitor. He then asks his secretary to leave the room. After she gets into an elevator he tells her that she was the traitor and drops her into a Shark Pool.
  • The Way, Way Back: Duncan asks his mother and her boyfriend to leave so that he can say goodbye to Owen in private.
  • In X-Men: Apocalypse, when Charles sees Raven has returned to the mansion, he asks everyone else to leave the room so he and Raven can talk in private.

  • The Belgariad: The novel Belgarath the Sorcerer has an example where the people asked to leave are offended. When Salmissra tells the palace eunuchs to go away so she can have a private conversation with Belgarath, one of them complains. Salmissra tells him he's welcome to stay—but then he'll have to be killed.
  • Deryni: In King Kelson's Bride, when Liam's uncle Matyas and the Torenthi ambassador Rasoul arrive in Kelson's court to escort him back to Torenth, Liam (who is fourteen and serving as a royal squire) expresses some anxiety. Kelson has Matyas and Rasoul conducted to the withdrawing room and takes the boy aside with Prince Nigel to find out what the problem is. Turns out there are three: Liam doesn't particularly want to rule Torenth, is uncomfortable facing an adult role and he wants to get his knightly accolade from Nigel. After some reassurances and a proposal to extend Liam's tenure as a simple squire for a bit longer, the three go into the withdrawing room with Matyas, Rasoul, and Morgan.
  • In The Giver, Jonas's parents ask his sister Lily to leave the room so they could talk to him about the Ceremony of Twelve when he would be assigned a career. Lois Lowry's dystopia is very tradition-bound and this is likely something children aren't supposed to be told about until they're of age.
  • Subverted in The Obelisk Gate: Essun tells The Leader Ykka that they need to speak alone about a sensitive topic. Ykka refuses: first, to emphasize that she is the sole authority in the community; second, to show that she trusts the advisors who are present; and third, because the topic has to do with the heavily reviled Functional Magic they both possess, which she's trying to de-stigmatize by being open and up-front about it. They have the conversation in the advisors' presence instead.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire. Quentyn Martell, posing as a sellsword, asks Queen Daenerys to clear her audience chamber before revealing that he's actually a prince of Dorne there to propose a marriage alliance.
  • Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner: Serph asks all members of his tribe to leave not only the room but the general area in which he and the Maribel leader Jinana are going to negotiate their alliance. They leave... Only to come back and listen through the closed door no more than five minutes later.
  • In Wacos Debt by J.T. Edson, Carl Brarsand, sinister saloon owner, tries to get newly arrived Mary Anne Catlan alone to talk to her. Since she knows perfectly well that he's going to try to intimidate her into selling the ranch she inherited, she refuses to let her friends leave.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda: In "All Great Neptune's Ocean", President Lee of Castalia asks Captain Hunt's crew and his own entourage to give himself and Tyr Anasazi the room so that Tyr doesn't have to apologize in public for an earlier insult. Minutes later, screams and gunfire are heard in the room, and everyone rushes back in to find Lee shot dead and Tyr unconscious, kicking off a Locked Room Mystery.
  • You can almost play a drinking game with how often characters on Arrow ask "May I/ We have the room?" in order to clear the room of characters unnecessary for the current scene without having to come up with a good reason for the unnecessary characters to leave on their own.
  • Bones: In "The Woman in Limbo," Booth discovers that the Jane Doe case they're working on is Brennan's Missing Mom and goes to the Jeffersonian lab to tell her.
    Booth: I need the room, guys.
    Zack: The whole lab? For what?
    Hodgins: It's a cop way of saying "get lost."
  • Burn Notice: In "Bad Blood", Michael's childhood friend Ricky is implicated in embezzlement at the record label where he works as an accountant. After the ex-Gang Banger company president Sweet Valentine holds a meeting to fire a talent agent the suspected embezzler Eddie accused of trying to jump ship to the competition, he orders everyone out of the room, "except you, Ricky," to question him privately about the missing money. Given a Meaningful Echo at the climax of the episode—"Everyone out, except you, Eddie"—after he hears the Engineered Public Confession that Team Westen arranged.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • King Robert trusts Ned Stark to the point that he gives his most important commands when nobody is looking around, presumably because he takes for granted that his subjects won't question his decision even without witnesses. He names Ned his Hand in the Crypts of Winterfell halfway through the pilot and, a few episodes and a Hunting "Accident" later in "You Win or You Die", he asks him to write down his will before kicking the bucket. This proves to be the downfall of both characters: Robert's wife exploits the lack of witnesses to tear "Ned's shield" in pieces and arrest Ned before he would have told the truth about her children's real heritage.
    • In the episode "Baelor", Catelyn Stark meets with Lord Walder Frey to discuss an alliance with her son Robb's army. Initially, the discussion is held in front of the incredibly large Frey family, with several of his descendants attempting to butt in. Catelyn requests to talk to Lord Frey only, and he orders the rest of his family to leave, who immediately hurry out of the room.
    • Yara shows her control over the unruly Ironborn when she dismisses her men with a quiet, "Leave us", so she can give her brother a What the Hell, Hero? speech.
    • On a couple of occasions Lord Tywin Lannister dismisses his underlings, but as his son Tyrion gets up to leave adds a quiet, "Not you."
  • House of Anubis: Towards the end of Season 1, Fabian is trying to ask Nina to the prom, but they keep being interrupted. His final attempt is in the dining room, where Patricia walks in just as he's trying to ask. He awkwardly asks her to leave the room so he can ask Nina, which she's annoyed by at first, but gladly leaves after catching on. She returns as soon as they're done with the conversation, telling them that they're adorable, and she's starving.
  • Merlin (1998): Merlin has received a vision of Arthur and Morgan le Fay's night together. He rushes to Camelot and storms into the Round Table room during a meeting between Arthur and the lords. "Out, my lords. OUT! And close the door behind you," he commands, not wanting to embarrass his king in public.
  • In the Night Court (2023) episode "The Apartment", Abby has had a very long day, between the normal stresses of her job and finding out that her boyfriend has had to cancel plans to visit her, but she is trying very hard to keep her usual sunny disposition and not to lose her temper. And then she learns that her attempt to get a new and better apartment has fallen through because her prospective landlord hates judges. Dan and Gurgs happen to be in her chambers as this happens, so she asks them to leave. The camera cuts to outside her chambers, where you can hear a guttural scream of rage.
  • The Office (US): At the climax of "Did I Stutter?", Michael asks everyone in the room to leave following a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Stanley. Once they're alone, Michael tearfully asks Stanley why he keeps insulting him, to which Stanley responds that he doesn't respect him. Michael accepts this after regaining his composure but asserts his authority by telling him not to do it again because he's his boss. Stanley agrees, implying a newfound amount of respect, albeit a small one.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Once More Unto the Breach", Worf approaches Martok on the bridge of his ship to discuss a subject unpleasant to Martok: giving the elderly Kor a command in the Dominion War. Worf has barely started talking when Martok bellows, "Clear the bridge!" to get rid of everyone else, before privately explaining the reason for his dislike of Kor: Kor personally rejected him from the Military Academy for being a commoner, scuttling his entire career as a warrior until he was able to earn a battlefield commission.
  • Invoked and played with in Three Kingdoms, where on several occasions a character may meaningfully glance at other people present when addressing someone. Depending on who is involved, one of three things may happen: a) the other characters may take the hint and excuse themselves note , b) the person being addressed assures the speaker they can be trusted note  or c) the addressee orders the others to leave note .
  • Trust: In the first-season finale, after hearing the scathing reviews of his new museum, J. Paul Getty orders his staff out of the room so that they won't see him as he smashes the model in a rage.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia. This happened several times at the end of regular mission briefings in adventures.
    • The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues
      • Mission 2. Doss-V-DAN dismisses the rest of the mission group, tells the team leader that the opposition has Mind Control powers, and gives him a Suicide Pill.
      • Mission 3. All of the other Troubleshooters are dismissed from the room so the briefing officer Byre-B-WER can tell the team leader about the fake weapons that have been planted in a traitor's gear as a Secret Test.
    • Vapors Never Shoot Back Mission 3. Briefing officer Gore-V-DAL has the rest of the Troubleshooters leave so he can give the team leader advice on how to carry out the mission and tell him the passcode to an armored door.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney Investigations 2: President Huang requested a private meeting with Judge Courtney without his bodyguards shortly before he was found dead in a nearby film lot. It's later discovered that he was planning to kill Courtney to keep his true identity as the real president's Body Double a secret.
  • God of War Ragnarök: Odin regularly dismisses his fellow Aesir gods and servants whenever he feels the need to confide something of great importance to Atreus or discuss relevant topics, most notably the Rift under the Great Lodge and Mask tied to it. This approach is actually one of his many strategies to win the trust of Atreus to get what he wants.
  • Half-Life 2: Episode Two: Near the end of the story, Eli Vance asks his daughter Alyx to get him some tea, so he can reveal to Gordon his acquaintance with the G-Man and his role in the Black Mesa Incident, as well as ask him to destroy Borealis without trying to use it—something he obviously doesn't want Alyx to know beforehand.
  • In the Hitman World of Assassination Trilogy most of your targets will have at least one bodyguard trailing them at all times, and many Mission Stories set up an opportunity to have you and the target hold a private conversation as they dismiss their guards (or just dismiss themselves for whatever reason) to give you a chance to kill them unnoticed.

    Web Animation 
  • Minilife TV: In "The Final Match", when Snowball returns to Minilife Studios having learned that his kind are treated as servants to their creators, he confronts Chris and Ian for not telling him about it. Ian requests for Clair and Wilkins to leave the room so he and Chris can tell Snowball the truth and show him the Vampire Laws.

  • Unsounded: When a majority of the Queen's Council decide to withdraw support from her dynasty, one of them unceremoniously moves the Chancellor out into the hallway with magic before they continue to debate.
    Councilor: Ufal, begone. This discussion is beyond a mere mouthpiece such as you.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


The Murder of President Lee

"All Great Neptune's Ocean". Tyr Anasazi goes to apologize to President Sebastian Lee of Castalia for accusing him of genocide earlier in the episode, and out of respect, Lee asks everyone else to leave. The others chitchat for a bit, then Lee is heard yelling, and two shots are fired from a force lance. They rush back into the room to find Lee dead and Tyr unconscious.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / LockedRoomMystery

Media sources: