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Room 101

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Welcome to Hell, Winston.

"You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world."
O'Brien, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Part 3, Chapter 5)

A Place Worse Than Death. The place no one wants to visit: a torture chamber, brainwashing program or place of punishment so terrible that it is spoken of only in whispers. No one knows just what is done there; those who are sent there either never return, or else are so traumatized that they cannot speak of the torments they experienced there.

The Trope Namer is the room in the Ministry of Love from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, where it is eventually revealed that those who are sent there are made to literally live out their worst nightmares. No matter what spark of individuality you cling to hope, love, loyalty, whatever it is you WILL be made to betray it in Room 101. You then irrevocably cross the Despair Event Horizon. As one character says, "You really do mean it, and nothing is ever the same afterward."

Many that take after the 1984 example also tend to mimic the seemingly-mundane name of the room, being structured to just a location and a number. The way it's treated and responded to by characters is what gives it its foreboding and terrifying aura.

When the threat is used humorously, it can sometimes be known as the Maximum Fun Chamber, or involve Cool and Unusual Punishment and Suckiness Is Painful. Often, the audience has to Take Our Word for It that You Do Not Want To Know what happens within. May also involve Animorphism. The widespread presence of these places in an Evil Empire may or may not be a sign of Industrialized Evil, depending on how personalized they are.

For the metaphysical equivalent see Cosmic Horror Story. The effect is the same, there's a... thing so terrible that it is spoken of only in whispers. No one knows just what it is; those who seek it either never return, or else are so traumatized (or, more likely, are driven so completely insane) that they cannot speak of the horrors they experienced by encountering it.

The name of the Orwell room inspired a TV series of the same name, in which celebrities sent their pet hates (including, in one controversial case, the Welsh) to Room 101.

Can be a Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere. Can also overlap with Place Worse Than Death. No relationship to Subject 101. Or Room 222, for that matter — unless the Ministry of Love knows the single episode of a soap opera can drive you nuts. Related to Psychological Torment Zone (a Location 101, if you will) and Black Bug Room (the Mental World equivalent). Sometimes employed for The Ludovico Technique.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Hollow Fields, underachieving students are sent to detention in "The Windmill". No-one who goes in ever comes out again. Which is because the teachers are using the children sent there as test subjects for a Grand Theft Me experiment. They sort of... Break... In the process.
  • Mahoraba has Shirogane's own Room 101 inside her classroom for students who misbehave in class or failed to do homework. When not in her classroom, she might borrow some random room for dealing punishments to her students. Played for laughs, misbehaving students are just heard screaming by other students and comes out pale as a ghost with no one ever willing to say what really goes on behind those doors.
  • 20th Century Boys: People who resist being brainwashed at Friend Land (which is already bad enough) are sent for more advanced treatment to Friend World, which is never actually described.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has the Fifth Laboratory, where the government's human experimentation takes place.
  • One Piece has Impel Down's Level 6 which the general public doesn't even know about, where society's very worse are kept pending execution and are meant to be forgotten and erased from history itself. Ironically, it's really not so bad down there compared to the rest of the place; the only torture the inmates endure is isolation.
  • Overlord (2012): The black capsule is an area of Nazarick's 2nd Floor that is ruled over by the area guardian Kyouhukou. The few humans who have been tortured there were left so traumatized by the experience that they will demonstrably do absolutely anything to avoid even the possibility of going back. Even powerful members of Nazarick have mentioned that they find the place horrifying. In the light novel's seventh volume, Invaders of the Large Tomb, we see what actually happens there: victims are eaten alive by cockroaches while being constantly healed so they don't die.
  • Class 3-E in Assassination Classroom is a downplayed example. If you are a student at Kunugigaoka Middle School, then you will move heaven and hell to not end up in 3-E. Not only is it in an old, derelict building, it's also on top of a mountain (that has to be climbed every morning). While it will not make you go insane, plenty of non-3-E students have nightmares of ending up in it, the students in it get abused by the other students, mentally tormented by the principal and usually end up on the very bottom of society. It gets way better once that class gets the task to kill a monster that exploded the moon though.

    Comic Books 
  • Fables has a group dedicated to removing the fable characters from memory. One of their punishments for fables who get out of line is what looks like a pit. Apparently being inside causes people to simply forget your existence, which for a fable can mean they simply fade from existence (Paul Bunyan was reduced to a midget after multiple trips).
  • In the classic (Earth 2) Batman story "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne", the Scarecrow crashes a wedding that Bruce is attending, and hits the congregation with fear gas, causing everyone to relive their worst fears. When Batman suddenly sees his allies (Robin, Batgirl, Commissioner Gordon, Superman) disappear before his eyes, Scarecrow actually mentions this trope by name: "So, Batman, your greatest fear, your Room 101, is autophobia!"
  • In Ted Rall's 2024, when Winston is arrested, he's forced to watch Channel 101, which is showing an unbearably boring documentary about rats.
  • The Sinestro Corps has small capsules like these called fear lodges, since as Green Lanterns power their rings through willpower, Sinestros can power their rings through their own fear, so they face their own worst fear so that their rings can collect it.
  • The now decommissioned Room 101 itself appears in the opening of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, which also reveal exactly where it was located; in the headquarters of MI-5, which had been the Ministry Of Love during the Ingsoc years. Somewhat disappointingly, but in line with the books deconstruction of 1984, despite the rooms near-mythical status in pop culture, it's little more than a dirty room full of mundane torture tools.

    Fan Works 
  • In the W.I.T.C.H. fanfic Ripples and its sequel Stirred, Level Zero of the Grand Royal Hospit of Meridian gains this reputation among the populace and the Rebellion. Mostly because it's where Will/Van and her assistants perform their medical experiments; while some of their test subjects are volunteers, the majority are imprisoned criminals and rebels.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Terry Gilliam's Brazil, which has a lot of elements inspired by 1984, has its own take of Room 101 at the "Information Retrieval" department, in which unlucky detainees are strapped to a chair and tortured by Jack Lint, who Gilliam described as "utterly and totally unscrupulous." The inside of a nuclear plant's chimney was used as filming location for this gargantuan torture chamber.
  • "Ward E" from the made for TV movie Stranded in Space (which was later made into an MST3K episode.)
  • The interdimensional gateway drive used in the 1997 film Event Horizon. This gateway was an interdimensional jump drive that could travel instantaneously to any part of the universe, unfortunately, the ship would travel through a parallel dimension analogous to Hell.
  • The Shining - Room 237
  • V for Vendetta, no one knows what happens to the people who are black-bagged...except of course for the ones who enact said black-bagging. And V, who escaped, and Evey, who was put into a fake interrogation by V.
  • While never specifically revealed, there is some speculation that the cube in the Cube movie series is one of these. Even if you manage to live through the deadly deathtraps of death, the massive psychological horror experienced within might make you wish you hadn't. And that's only if the people outside the cube don't immediately kill you.
  • In House at the End of the Street, The number of the prison cell Ryan ends up in is 101. It's implied that he is being tortured by the worst recollections of his life (though as a result of his own mental illness rather than outside interference)- and there are many.
  • In the The Kentucky Fried Movie parody "A Fistful of Yen," the villain sentences a spy with the most evil punishment imaginable. "Take him to Detroit." "No! Not Detroit!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!'
  • In Robot Holocaust, we have "The Room Of Questions" & "The Tortures Of The Damned".
  • In Addams Family Values, it's played for laughs. The camp counselors send Joel, Wednesday, and Pugsly for re-education at an isolated cabin tailor-made to produce Stepford Smilers. They're made to endure horrors like The Sound of Music, The Brady Bunch, Annie, and Disney movies.
  • The Hanoi Hilton has Room 18, where prisoners are subjected to Cold-Blooded Torture in order to break them.

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four. Trope Namer. Winston has an extreme phobia of rats, ever since he was a young boy. The culmination of his stay within the Ministry of Love, and the chilling climax of the novel's plot, involves him finally being sent to Room 101 where they have a rather unique helmet-cage apparatus waiting for him. Rats are put in one end, his head in the other, and the barriers between his face and the feral rodents are removed one by one until he surrenders; That's not to say "pleads for mercy" or "admits defeat", he has to fully surrender to Big Brother by compromising the last shred of integrity and humanity he's been clinging to, by begging them to inflict this terrible torture on his love interest, Julia, instead of himself.
    • Rather hilariously, Room 101 was named after a conference room at the BBC, where George Orwell had to sit through boring meetings. The inspiring room was later used as the basis for an art piece by Rachel Whiteread which filled the room with plaster, tore the walls around from it and took out the plaster left over. Seen here.
    • A short parody of 1984, "1984 Has Been Unavoidably Postponed" by Alan Coren, had the Ministry of Love turn out to be short of rats — and Smith wasn't scared of anything else they had to offer. He wound up actually trying to help them find a creature they could torture him with:
      "If it's any help, I can't stand moths."
      "Moths?!" Esmond screamed. "What do you think we are, ruddy Harrods? We can't get moths for love nor money!"
      "Comes in here asking for moths," muttered Esmond's assistant.
  • Stephen King has used this trope more than once in his stories.
    • The room 1408 in the short story and movie adaptation of the same name. Somewhat unusual in that it's the room itself that does all the torture, and no one knows why.
    • In The Shining, Room 217 (Room 237 in the Kubrick version) serves the same basic purpose. Danny Torrance initially surmises that certain areas of the Overlook Hotel are just as dangerous as Room 217 and should be avoided.
    • In Carrie (and its film adaptations), Margaret has a small, cramped closet in her house filled with religious paraphernalia. She locks her daughter Carrie in there to pray for hours on end whenever she so much as takes a tiny step out of line. In the '02 version, though, Carrie manages to make it into a refuge of sorts from Margaret's insanity, hiding a stash of fashion and gossip magazines in there. The '76 version also has Carrie hiding there with Margaret's dead body as her house burns down.
    • The Dark Tower has the Door to todash space itself in Castle Discordia. Going through it is implied to be a Fate Worse than Death by Mia.
  • The "Objective Room" in That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis is a sort of mental torture. At a glance, it's an unremarkable room, but the closer you look, especially at the pictures on the walls, the more unpleasant it gets.
  • Subverted in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - the Total Perspective Vortex is a machine that causes the soul of whomever gets put into it to commit suicide by showing them how insignificant they are in the universe, but when Zaphod Beeblebrox goes in, it turns out that it merely reveals he's the most important thing in the Universe. This is later attributed to this all occurring in a universe specially created for him, where he truly was the most important person in the universe (go... read the book).
    • At any rate, he's pissed off enough at Zarniwoop for first abducting him and then bursting his bubble about how he survived the Vortex that he eventually slugs him.
  • In Poul Anderson's "Sam Hall," the story opens with the protagonist's nephew being arrested and sent to a Room 101; the protagonist must hide that they were related.
  • The Pilo Family Circus has its own Funhouse, a place that even other circus employees avoid, as it's the home of the Matter Manipulator, a flesh-sculpting magician responsible for the creation of the Freakshow. Carnies are sent there as punishment for suitably unpleasant crimes, and visitors to the show that actually enter are never seen again. The only example we see of a victim of the Matter Manipulator besides the freaks is Winston the Clown, who has the flesh of his stomach ripped out and replaced with hot coals.
  • Shayol, the prison planet in Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind stories, named after Sheol (the Hebrew name for the Underworld). In the actual story 'A Planet Named Shayol', it is revealed that the planet hosts a virus which causes those infected to become immortal, but also to become painfully mutated and grow new limbs, which the Instrumentality harvests for replacement parts.
  • Discworld
    • The HQ of the Cable Street Particulars in Night Watch, one of Discworld's darkest moments. There is a chair for people to be strapped into, there is a gully on the floor for blood to run, the walls are heavily soundproofed, and there is a single tooth left on the floor.
    • The Girls' Working School/Grey House in Monstrous Regiment. And some of the places the inmates get sent on work hire. When Polly mentions that the headmaster seemed all right whenever she met him in town, Tonker replies "he was good at seeming." Only a few details are given, but escapees Tonker, Lofty, and Wazzer are all Shell Shocked Veterans and none of them are over twenty.
  • This is the test Richard has to go through to get the Key in Neverwhere. He's shunted into an illusionary double of an Underground station and confronted by his friends and girlfriend, who tell him he had a complete psychotic break and everything he's experienced so far is a delusion. And then it starts convincing him to kill himself...
  • In the novel Hell House, the whole mansion qualifies, but over it all seems to be the ballroom, to the point Ben Fischer makes it a point to try avoiding it.
  • The book The Mysterious Benedict Society has the Waiting Room: so horrible that even those who have never been there cringe in fear of it. one of the main characters gets sent there, and it's just a room full of mud and insects; nevertheless, he is nearly broken by it. Later, Milligan gets captured and sent to it and it turns out to work to the party's advantage. He is able to hold his breath and sink down below the mud and then escape.
  • Crowden, the big bad of Witchfinder: dawn of the demontide, has a demonic cabinet, into which he places people to be tortured. One incredibly unlucky victim had to spend a month inside it.
  • Dungeon Number One in Magyk. It is essentially a huge chimney-like pit full of rancid water that drowns most of its inhabitants...if they survived the fall, that is.
  • In Shades of Grey, people whose merit score dips down low enough get sent to Reboot, where they supposedly are retrained to fit into society. It turns out to just be an 'abandoned' town with a town hall painted with a color that kills you.
  • The Danish fantasy series The Shamer Chronicles featured a room that was covered head to toe in carvings of faces that would whisper the worst things you could imagine to you - remind you of horrible things you have done or play on your insecurities until you were driven mad.
  • In the Wheel of Time series, the Aes Sedai have one of these underground in Tar Valon. Thieves brave enough to try to rob the place get sent there, and are quietly released the next morning, apparently unharmed but never trying that again. We find out later what it is: You're strapped to a block and the local magic really does give you immersive hallucinations of your worst fears.
  • This is what Teddy assumes the lighthouse is in Shutter Island.
  • In the novel Unwind by Neal Shusterman, the main characters are running from the law because they are scheduled for unwinding. The room where the unwinding takes place is one of these, except everyone knows exactly what goes on, just not how. We are later treated to a disturbing scene of unwinding from the victim's point of view.
  • In The Dream Catcher by Monica Hughes, about a society of telepaths in a domed city, misfit Ruth is sent to The Black Hole, a room with a terrifying reputation for stories of people who'd be driven mad from just a few minutes inside it. Subverted when, it turns out all it does is block telepathy. Most telepaths can't handle it, but Ruth actually finds the place pretty relaxing, and the door wasn't even locked. It was actually a test to see if she was the type of person who could survive without being connected to the telepathic community.
  • The house where the narrator is kept in The Yellow Wallpaper. Justified, as it used to be a Bedlam House. (And in a way, it's still being used as such because she is there to recover from hysteria. Needless to say, her being kept in a house (and especially her bedroom) that she thinks could be haunted does not help her.
  • Animorphs drops some mentions to Visser 3's personal torture chamber aboard his Blade Ship. For his underlings even death from starvation is much more preferable than ending up in there.
  • Cell 25 in Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25.
  • One strange example appears in the Goosebumps short story "The Chalk Closet." At a certain school, students who misbehave are sent to the closet, where they are forced to listen to the sound of Nails on a Blackboard for eternity.
  • The Disturbed Ward in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest subverts this. Despite the electroshock therapy and lobotomies performed there, it's actually a refuge from Nurse Ratched's tyranny, and the staff will often try to prolong a patient's time in the Disturbed Ward because Ratched is just that nasty.
  • Downplayed in "Cell One", a realistic short story by Chinamanda Ngozi Adichie. The titular cell is on a corrupt police station where prisoners are abused by the staff and abuse each other. The ordinary cells and the treatment therein are hellish enough, but everyone's afraid of cell one even though they don't know what's in there. Someone's carried out of there dead, and after the narrator's brother is released after having spent a short time there, he isn't traumatised out of his sense, but he doesn't speak of what happened and has signs of physical abuse and has turned much more somber than he used to be.
  • The 4 levels of dungeon in the bowels of the Red Keep from A Song of Ice and Fire were always horrible. The first level was for containing prisoners who'd committed minor offences. The second was for highborn prisoners. The third, known as the Black Cells were for containing criminals who had committed awful crimes. Ned Stark was sent there after he allegedly betrayed Joffrey. Tyrion Lannister was also sent there after allegedly killing Joffrey, before being freed by Varys. The fourth level was described by Varys as "Once a man is taken to the fourth level, he never sees the sun again, nor hears a human voice, nor breathes a breath free of agonizing pain." Once Qyburn takes control of the dungeons for his "experiments", the place gets really frightening.
  • Bounders: While trying to find and remove the occludium tether in The Forgotten Shrine, Jasper and Mira run through a VR room that scans their minds, then plays simulations of their worst memories, all while hiding them from each other and making them feel like they're frozen in place. By the time Jasper finds the other door, Mira is in a Troubled Fetal Position on the floor.
  • ''Matilda': Mrs. Trunchbull send misbehaving pupils to the Chokey, a small piece whose walls are adorned with nails and broken glass.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A terrorist played by Quentin Tarantino in Alias had a portable version of Room 101; "The Box," which he kept threatening to open if he didn't get answers. It turns out it was full of needles spiked with something that would cause a terrible burning sensation that he'd jam into the fingers of his torture victim; painful, but at the same time, not exactly up to the massive hype he built up.
  • Arrow. In Season 5, Oliver Queen is injected with a hallucinogen that will make him experience his worst fears, then locked in a cell with a pistol loaded with one bullet.
  • Babylon 5: While Sheridan is being tortured in "Intersections in Real Time", his interrogator keeps mentioning Room 17 as the place Sheridan will wind up if he doesn't start talking. Eventually, it's subverted when Sheridan's willingness to die before talking ultimately gets him sent to Room 17. Instead of getting subjected to some brutal, final torture, Sheridan is brought to an identical interrogation room and starts the whole process all over again. The ultimate horror of Room 17 is simply that the torture will never stop.
  • Black Mirror: "Playtest": While not used in the same sense as Orwell's novel, the trope is absolutely played straight in the episode's climax. Cooper is terrified to open the door to the access point that he is led to believe will allow the mind-altering game to end, as he thinks it will contain his greatest, deepest fear. After some coercion from Katie he opens the door to find his suspicions were true; the game does not end, and he is subjected to his deepest personal fear: succumbing to Alzheimer's and losing his memory and his mind just like his father did. Continuing this trope, when he finally is booted from the game and returns home to America, he enters his mothers' bedroom to find to his abject terror that she has fallen into dementia in his absence. Poor Cooper actually died abruptly in reality from the game crashing and he spent his last living moments literally living out his worst nightmare, screaming out for his mom.
  • Dark Angel: Manticore's Reindoctrination process for rogue or misbehaving genetic experiments. It was partly revealed to include excruciating brainwashing sessions via laser beam through the eye, and other forms of physical and psychological torture.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Long Game": There's a slight subversion with Floor 500 of Satellite 5, since everyone wants to be promoted there because "the walls are made of gold". However, it turns out to be a place of horrors, with the implication that the only people "promoted" there are troublemakers the Editor and the Mighty Jagrafess want to get rid of.
    • Played absolutely straight in "The God Complex", featuring a space prison resembling a hotel. Each inmate has a room which contains their worst fear, and a Minotaur-like monster that feeds on the inmates after they've been subjected to their worst fear. The Doctor thinks the Minotaur is feeding on their fear, but it is revealed the purpose of the rooms is to force the inmates to reveal their faith in someone or something to protect them, and that is what the monster manipulates and feeds on.
    • In "Heaven Sent", the Doctor is put to the ultimate test: He is trapped in his Confession Dial, a miniature prison, and subjected to torture for 4 billion years. What makes it especially horrifying is that it's explicitly stated in "Hell Bent" that Confession Dials aren't even supposed to be used that way.
  • The Attic, on Dollhouse. We don't see what it actually does until late in season 2, but it's mentioned well in advance...
    Topher: You know that feeling when you have a name on the tip of your tongue? Well... that's what it's like. For every thought you never have.
  • La Femme Nikita: Section 1 had a cell known as The White Room, where captured hostiles were routinely subject to torture, interrogation and "Cancellation".
  • Game of Thrones has Theon Greyjoy tortured, flayed, castrated and brainwashed into "Reek" inside a Medieval Room 101 underneath the Dreadfort.
  • Invoked on Good Eats in the episode where Alton teaches a 32-year-old man how to make breakfast himself (instead of having his mother come over and make breakfast for him.) Alton instructs his assistant, Clarence, to take the man down to Sector 12. Which turns out to be... a simulation of a grocery store, where Alton shows his pupil how to buy bacon.
  • Room 9 from season 2 of Heroes. Maury's apartment where Matt Parkman and Nathan Petrelli are trapped within Maury's illusions of a twisted alternate of the S1 "Bomb" Future.
  • The red bag on British sitcom Ideal. To put it in perspective, gangster Psycho Paul was said to have 'cried like a little girl' after looking inside it, and even Ax-Crazy hitman Cartoonhead is scared of it.
  • Incorporated has the "Quiet Room", a torture chamber for anyone who breaks SPIGA's rules. People sent there have a tendency to not come back.
  • The Sadist Teacher 's classroom in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide is indeed room 101.
  • The Professionals
    • Bodie and Doyle lampshade this trope after capturing a hitman who refuses to say who employed him. So they take the hitman to the business of an East End gangster whose brother he killed and handcuff him to a lamppost outside. "Oh he won't kill him. But he'll wish he had." The hitman wisely decides to talk.
    • In "Private Madness Public Danger", Cowley threatens to turn a drug pusher into a drug addict by forcibly injecting him with pure heroin.
  • The humorous BBC chat show (and later, celebrity panel show) Room 101 where celebrities come on to talk about their most hated things, their pet peeves, and stuff they find annoying. They all have to make a case for their hatred, and if successful, the item is dumped into Room 101 itself.
  • Roswell: The FBI Special Unit tortured Max inside "The White Room".
  • Severance (2022) has the Break Room, where employees are sent if they violate Lumon rules. There, they are forced to state their remorse until the lie detector determines they are telling the truth. However long that takes.
  • There is a stealthy nod to the trope in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Coming of Age". Wesley Crusher is taking a test to enter Starfleet Academy, and the last test is a personalized "psych test" meant to pit the candidate against their greatest fear (although Wesley is passed up for admission this time around, he is commended for handling his test well). When he is summoned for the beginning of his final test, he is summoned into "Room 101".
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Skynet's machines operate one of these in the basement of an abandoned house in the wasteland. Precisely what happens down there is never made clear, but Derek Reese is subjected to whatever it was they did down there. Creepily enough, coming from said room is the sound of a piano playing a particular song by Chopin - the same song is playing an episode later while Cameron is ballet dancing, and later on in the series it is revealed that Allison Young, the girl whose face and identity Cameron stole, had a mother who liked that same song. Coupled with Derek Reese's familiarity of and hatred toward Cameron, there is a strong implication that she's tied to this particular instance of Room 101.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Room 2426", the titular location is a torture chamber where prisoners such as Dr. Martin Decker are taken when they have information that the State wants. In Martin's case, the location of the notebooks detailing his research into a new bacteria strain.

  • In season 1 of Within the Wires multiple episodes mention the Extensive Studies Lab, how the patients who come back from there are affected, and the various tools used there for a procedure only referred to as "carpentry."

  • The Trope Namer example is mocked in an episode of The Goon Show called "Nineteen Eighty-Five!": Protagonist Ned Seagoon is locked in a room and forced to listen to a recording... of himself, singing (Harry Seacombe, actor for Neddy Seagoon, was in fact a very accomplished opera singer).
  • Also in That Mitchell and Webb Sound, in a sketch depicting the problems of working in Room 102. Especially when those noisy buggers next door are torturing someone whose worst fear is a whale with the face of his old French teacher. Also brings up the problem of what happens when people start getting wise to how Room 101 works. Seems a suspiciously large number of people have suddenly developed a fear of sexual intimacy. And even the staff are making sure everyone knows about their crippling phobia of beer...
  • And in The Burkiss Way, Room 101 contains the show's recurring irritant Eric Pode of Croydon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Unknown Armies has the Rooms of Renunciation, pocket dimensions where someone the universe doesn't like gets shut in until they come out different. How different? Depends on the room...
  • Exalted has the Monstrances of Celestial Portion, which is like this to the Solar Exalted. Yes, even the immortal god-kings of Creation have something that makes them scream in fright. What are they? The Deathlords traded some favors to the Yozis to create an engine that would invert a Solar Exaltation's nature and make them serve the cause of death, turning those bestowed with it into the Abyssal Exalted. And if a Solar's stuck in one of them... well, it ain't pretty. Hell, a Solar can't even look at one without feeling sick.
  • Likewise, Werewolf: The Apocalypse has the Spiral labyrinth, which werewolves are forced to walk to turn them into Black Spiral Dancers (except in one notorious case where that didn't work, and Celeste Walks-The-Spiral-Backwards destroyed the labyrinth instead). Mage: The Ascension works on reincarnation of every mage's avatar, but has a horrid ritual to destroy avatars. And Vampire: The Masquerade contains a few fates worse than death because all the vampires are, of course, already dead.
    • Also from Mage, the Cauls, which invert a mage's avatar, turning them into one of the Nephandi, mages dedicated to corruption and destruction. For that extra nasty twist, when a Nephandi dies, it's possible for their reincarnation to be born with their past life's twisted avatar - corrupted from birth. (That ritual to destroy avatars is intended to preempt this.)
    • Heck, in Mage, the New World Order (one of the Conventions of the Technocracy) actually HAS a Room 101, in direct homage to 1984.
  • Warhammer 40,000 brings us Commoragh, home of the Dark Eldar-a planet-sized extradimensional City 101, which is as horrible as it sounds, since its residents live on squick.
    • The Inqusition keeps a well stocked interrogation centre in the Damocles Gulf just for aliens and heretics. The most infamous is Interrogation Chamber IX.
    • Mankind's first contact with the Necrons occured when a contingent of Sororitas were disintegrated to the last woman, in a place called... Sanctuary 101.
    • Dark Elven cities in the Fantasy Battle setting are just as bad.
  • Dr. Dominiani has a whole asylum floor full of these in his domain of Ravenloft, which he uses to systematically drive people mad.
  • In KULT, The Abyss, a great chasm where Demiurge's citadel once was. Only Astaroth has ever been known to get in there and return, but only barely alive. And he refuses to speak about anything inside that place.

  • Urinetown in Urinetown has this reputation. It turns out, though, that there is no Urinetown; those who are sent there are just thrown off a building to their deaths.

    Video Games 
  • In BlazBlue, this is what can be described as Relius Clover's Astral Finish: Sending people to the Room 101 that is his lab.
  • In Downfall (2009), the main couple books a room in a hotel which is revealed to be room 101. You can imagine how well that went...
  • Fallen London players perusing the "Light Fingers" ambition encounter a Room 101 in the evil hellhole that is the Orphanage It actually contains nothing worse than mops, its a store room.
  • Half-Life 2: Hellhole Prison Nova Prospekt combines this with Human Resources, Brainwashed and Slave Mooks.
  • Killer7 has the Forbidden Room, which may or may not be the source of the horrific screaming and moaning heard in the building throughout the game. Eventually it's revealed to contain Kun Lan and Harman playing chess, the entities who rewrote Garcian's identity, shaping him into a pawn in their endless metaphysical battle.
  • Mother Base in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has a room used for interrogations referred to as "Room 101". In addition to being an obvious reference to Nineteen Eighty-Four, it also refers to its location on the base; level 1, Warehouse 01 of the Command Platform.
  • In Gadget: Past as Future, the West End Hotel has Room 306 set aside for the Sensorama, and dissidents are brought here to be brainwashed by the device, being forced to endure propaganda and strange visions beamed into their heads. Few who enter this room come out with their psyche intact, often left a jibbering wreck in the process. In-game, you get a glimpse of this room near the start. At the endgame, you unwittingly end up in the room, and the Sensorama shows you a New Era Speech by dictator Paulo Orlovsky, leading to a Gainax Ending shortly afterward.
  • In The Secret World, the Fear Nothing Foundation's downtown recruitment centre features one of these in the form of its mysterious 3rd floor. All the new recruits know and fear it, knowing that they'll only be summoned there if they've managed to piss off the counsellors; for good measure, past victims are unable or unwilling to explain what happened up there. However, it's also revealed that the counsellors are scared of it, too: turns out it's actually haunted by the murderous ghost of one of the punished recruits, having died over the course of brutal experimentation. It's also heavily implied that the punishments are an integral part of the FNF's indoctrination process: quite apart from the mention of disobedient recruits having left the floor "smiling like broken glass," Kinji's final letter to his parents is revealed to have been written in the aftermath of his visit to the 3rd floor.
  • The Punishment Sphere facility from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Drones—the uneducated, disaffected unskilled worker class — will never, ever riot if you have one of these. It's never explained what's done (though according to the sound file that plays when you build it, one man who was tough enough to take it quickly broke when his wife was put in...), but whatever goes inside must be really, really, really nasty, because building it also halves that city's scientific research output and prevents citizens from becoming Talents, the educated and creative class, which also prevents that base from ever entering an intellectual Golden Age.
    • The game also references "nerve stapling" as the dictatorial method of quashing Drone Riots. Nerve stapling is implied to lobotomize its victims into mindless workers. Not necessarily gruesome per se, but certainly a flagrant violation of human rights nonetheless (and a horrific punishment by any measure).
      • In fact, using the Nerve Staple option to "calm" your populace is considered an Atrocity by the other factions, and will temporarily do horrible, horrible things to your economy as everyone stops trading with you for several turns (which can be devastating for any faction that relies on trade routes and external income, as in the other Civ games) and you get temporarily chucked off the Council.
      • If you manage to get the UN Charter repealed by the Council, then it is no longer considered an atrocity to nerve-staple people or use nerve gas on civilians. Planet busters are still a no-no.
    • In Dragon Sun by Michael Ely, nerve stapling is developed by Yang's scientists in order to more effectively control his population and create a nigh-unstoppable army. When the others find out about it, they are utterly horrified and put Yang in jail for life. The victims they find have some sort of electrodes in their heads used to induce intense pain.
    • When a rival faction is defeated by the player, a short clip (one for male, female, and Progenitor) shows that leader in a punishment sphere.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has a grim fate for any incapacitated soldiers who outlive the rest of their unit and are carted off by the enemy. The survivors wake up in a painfully-bright, sterile observation chamber where they can do nothing but pace or stand and await their fate, while their foes gawk from the other side of the windows. When those windows are sealed, their captors stick probes in their still-living brains to "interrogate" them by recording whatever data they can wring from the prisoner before they inevitably expire from the process. This horrific facility is... the Alien Containment Chamber in XCOM's headquarters. It's not for nothing that Central Officer Bradford refers to Dr. Vahlen, XCOM's head scientist, as "the aliens' worst nightmare."

    Web Animation 
  • Takanshi Kiara of hololive often makes mention of "The Usual Room", where she apparently sends KFP employees to be punished when they fail her or misbehave. When questioned by Ina about what goes on in there, Kiara revealed some punishments including walking across a floor covered in Legos barefoot and being forced to complete a one million piece jigsaw puzzle that's missing a single piece.


    Web Original 
  • In Mortasheen, the Devilbird Diablymous uses this as an attack against its opponents, feeding on the fear the act generates and leaving its victim traumatized.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-231 is held in a room where it must be subjected to Procedure 110-Montauk once every 24 hours, to prevent mass casualties associated with Fetus Terrible events. This procedure can apparently inflict as much mental stress on the Class D Personnel carrying it out as the physical suffering it entails to its subjects, which has resulted in the suicide of at least one of both groups (with one of the aforementioned events having occurred after SCP-231-3 "self-terminated"). What happens during Procedure 110-Montauk has been expunged from non-restricted records, except for a warning that it's "as horrible as you have heard" and "does involve brutal [REDACTED]."

    Western Animation 
  • Invader Zim: Parodied in "A Room With A Moose", where Zim opens a wormhole and had several options of places he could choose from to send his rival Dib. Out of all the unpleasant places he could send Dib and the rest of the class, he chooses... "A ROOM... WITH A MOOSE!" (His other options included a dimension of pure itching, and another of pure dookie.)
  • Also parodied in Animaniacs in one episode the Warners end up in Hades, where they annoy Satan. He eventually threatens to lock them in a room of "agony worse than all others", which turns out to be "whiny protest songs from The '60s."
  • Lake Laogai from Avatar: The Last Airbender is a place where the corrupt Dai Li do something to brainwash people. You'll find yourself completely stripped of your identity and memories, or simply a Manchurian Agent ready to kill your friends in a second.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Burns' Heir," a man is told Bart has been brainwashed by Mr. Burns and has to reprogram him. He tries to do this in the room 101 of a motel.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Cutie Map - Part 2", Starlight Glimmer locks the Mane Six (and any other dissenters to her Cult) in a room that constantly extolls her philosophy over a loudspeaker at all hours of the day. Fluttershy pretends to succumb to the abuse in order to spy on Starlight.
  • Batman Beyond has this in the form of the "ISO" room at the Ranch run by Dr. Wheeler in "The Last Resort". For most of the episode, there's no explanation of what it does, though we do get to see one of the former inhabitants though. He sits quietly and appears to be painting, but when Terry gets close and asks him a question, he is completely unresponsive. Then you realize the tablet that he's painting with is devoid of paint and the canvas he's vigorously moving the brush across is completely blank. We eventually learn just what the ISO does when Terry meets with Chelsea, who was sent to the Ranch just for speaking out to the principal against it, who explains to him just what it actually is — total sensory deprivation used as torture and punishment.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil has this in the form of Saint Olga's Reform School for Wayward Princesses. It serves as The Dreaded for quite a few episodes until Star and Marco finally go there in an attempt to bust Star's friend Princess Pony Head. They aren't wrong at all about the place. St. Olga's itself has the "Solitary Conform-ment" room, where especially troublesome students are brainwashed into obedience with a high-speed slide-show on princess etiquette.
  • Casper's Scare School has this as well. The students are told of a place so scary and horrible that only the screams of the monsters who enter are heard when you get near it. Subverted in that.... In what can't be a completely unforeseen twist, the place is a garden full of beautiful flowers and trees where the banished monsters sit and drink lemonade. The place contained things the would be scary to a stereotypical monster who was used to slime and mummies and vampires etc.