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Safely Secluded Science Center

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Some scientists (and their employers) are perfectly okay with their research being conducted in slick, brushed steel laboratories situated in corporate skyscrapers high above major population centers. However, some experiments are a little too volatile for an urban setting. Sometimes, this is because the need for secrecy outweighs the convenience of working in the heart of a city; more often, it's because the subject matter is simply too dangerous to be allowed anywhere near the general populace in case of an accidental release.

So, in the interests of avoiding media attention and collateral damage, the laboratory is situated in an isolated spot somewhere off the beaten trail, where the experiments can be conducted as safely as possible. Possible locations include deserts, jungles, deep caverns, the bottom of the ocean, the surface of another planet, or deep space itself. For good measure, if there is some kind of settlement in the vicinity, it'll often be a small town at the most and — implicitly — populated by people that won't be readily missed.

Such labs can be run by a government, a corporation, a heroic team, or maybe just an average joe or jane performing good old-fashioned DIY mad science. Expect some kind of Black Site to be involved in the case of government labs. Almost any field of research can be studied here, as long as it's dangerous enough, but weapons testing is a popular one (see Testing Range Mishap for why).


May count as a Scienceville if the city in question is sufficiently isolated.

Compare and contrast Eerie Arctic Research Station, which is usually isolated for the sake of scientific research that can only take place in the Poles.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • "Project Twilight" kicks off in an isolated military lab hidden away in a moory wilderness; as it quickly becomes apparent, it's run by the Forge as part of a WWI-era initiative to create vampire super-soldiers. Unfortunately, the isolation of the base works against it when the test subjects break out, killing the doctors and fleeing the area en masse. Unfortunately, one of the doctors survived and ended up being remade into Nimrod, the Forge's personal assassin and a recurring villain.
    • In "Project Lazarus," the Doctor is captured by the Forge and delivered to their alpha facility, an isolated research base hidden in Dartmoor national park - built under the ruins of the original WWI base. It's currently studying a race of interdimensional aliens and later, a cloning experiment using the Doctor's DNA.
    • "Night Thoughts" takes place on a rain-lashed island somewhere in the outer Hebrides: according to Major Dickens, the British army used the area as a wartime testing ground for chemical weapons, and because of the grisly reputation it acquired as a result, efforts to repopulate the island fell apart even after it was completely decontaminated... making it perfect for the secrecy-obsessed Major Dickens: he and his academics are trying to master an early form of time travel that they believe will allow them to bring a human being back from the dead; for good measure, Dickens has actually faked the death of his chief scientist and has been keeping his team on the island as prisoners in all but name, just to preserve secrecy.
    • "Enemy of the Daleks" leads the Doctor and co to Roark 359, a laboratory complex hidden away on the Paradise Planet of Bliss. Not only is this place the only settlement on the entire planet, but the facility's been partially evacuated due to the ongoing Dalek war and depopulated by a mysterious plague spreading among the researchers, leaving only the unhealthily obsessed Professor Shimura. It turns out that Shimura is directly responsible for the "plague", having infested his colleagues with the bioengineered larvae of his own creation in order to birth the first generation of Kiseibya - an anti-Dalek bioweapon.

    Comic Books 
  • Last Daughter of Krypton: Zor-El had his research laboratory built on a lonely rocky plateay so he could conduct his not-quite-legal scientific experiments "away from prying eyes".

    Films — Animation 
  • In Big Hero 6, a secluded island laboratory on San Fransokyo's outskirts belonging to Dr. Krei was used for highly volatile teleportation research with Abigail Callaghan, the leading professor's daughter, as a test subject. Upon entering the abandoned lab, Wasabi notices a sign reading "QUARANTINE" and asks what it means.
  • Syndrome from The Incredibles has an Elaborate Underground Base concealed in a volcano on Nomanisan Island and uses it as a testing ground for the Omnidroid series of Killer Robot, designed to eradicate superheroes.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Professor Allen Hobby's research facility is hidden in the flooded and otherwise-abandoned ruins of Manhattan, presumably because hatred of mecha has become so widespread that Cybertronics needed a place to develop new models without angry mobs showing up. It's here that David is created and where he is eventually lured back to in the climax — revealing that an entire product line of Davids and Darlenes have been completed.
  • The big twist of Dark City is that the entire city is actually a secret research facility floating in deep space, and the human inhabitants of the city are just abducted test subjects for the Strangers' efforts to uncover the truth of the human soul. For good measure, the central laboratory is hidden hundreds of feet beneath the city — to the point that it requires an underground monorail service to reach — and the Strangers themselves only venture out to adjust the memories of their captives — or to hunt down a test subject running loose.
  • A creepy, understated version in Ex Machina: Eccentric CEO Nathan Bateman lives in a forbidding, modernist mansion deep in the Alaskan wilderness. It doubles as his research center where he works on perfecting artificial intelligence.
  • Saturn 3 is a research station on a moon of Saturn (whether Tethys or Mimas is not specified). There, two scientists conduct research on boosting agricultural output. Then, they are joined by Control Freak Benson and the prototype Killer Robot Hector. A Mile-Long Ship swings by twice a year, Saturn 3's only visitor.
  • In the X-Men Film Series, the pristine wilderness of Alkali Lake is used to conceal Colonel William Stryker's Weapon X Base. Underground and partly built into the nearby dam, it was first used for the experiments that gave Wolverine his adamantium-coated bones; during X2: X-Men United, Stryker is found to have expanded his experimental efforts to brainwashing mutants and recreating Cerebro as part of an attempt to kill all mutants.

  • The Andromeda Strain has the Wildfire Project housed in a bunker deep in the Southwest desert, where select scientists work to analyze a contagion from a space probe that almost completely depopulated Piedmont, Arizona. The film adaptation has this complex entered via a hidden elevator disguised as a tool shed.
  • Ashes Of Empire: During Imperial Night, we learn that the Empire deliberately placed their biowarfare labs on isolated bases on the fringes of Imperial space to keep them far away from Imperial citizens. Unfortunately, after the Empire's fall, those labs were now in the perfect spot to be looted by reivers trying to scavenge enough high-tech to keep their spaceships running.
  • The Locked Tomb: Gideon the Ninth: The God-Emperor summons Necromancers from the Nine Houses to a palatial laboratory complex on his own planet, which he abandoned and sequestered nine thousand years prior, to challenge them to rediscover the process by which his first servants were transformed into immortal Lyctors.
  • The Jedi Academy Trilogy introduces the Maw Installation, a top-secret Imperial research centre for the development of new Superweapons. It's a Space Station hidden in a black hole cluster, accessible only along classified safe routes; this also keeps the more naive scientists from learning what their research projects are really being used for.
  • Jurassic Park features John Hammond conducting genetic experiments on Isla Nublar, an island off the coast of Costa Rica, with the intention of developing it into a wildlife park with real dinosaurs; unfortunately, despite the claims of sparing no expense, the place was chosen more to preserve the initial secrecy of the project rather than safety, and the security protocols are full of holes — hence the disaster that results in Jurassic Park being shut down before it can even be opened. The second novel reveals that most of the real experiments took place on Isla Sorna, the company's secret factory floor: it was here that most of the dinosaurs were actually hatched and raised.
  • In The Master Mind of Mars, reclusive genius Ras Thavas keeps his lab in the Toonolian Marshes, because he has made more than a few enemies, but the marshes are full of some of the most dangerous beasts on Barsoom, including the dreaded white apes. A later book sees him forced to relocate to the abandoned city of Morbus.
  • Julia's travels in The Magician King eventually lead her to Murs, an isolated commune in the south of France: here, the hedge-witches of the Free Trader Beowulf Group conduct top-secret research into the deepest mysteries of the world. Quite apart from being a beautiful place to live, its relative isolation keeps their work from being investigated by "legitimate" magicians. Even so, it takes a lot of tests before Julia is allowed to join their experiments and finally learns of their true goal: they're trying to make contact with the oldest and most benevolent form of divinity by summoning a goddess.
  • 1984 mentions that Oceania has many experimental stations such as these scattered across the world, in Brazilian jungles, in Australian deserts, and even in islands off the coast of Antarctica. Given the Forever War gripping the world, all of them are concerned with developing new weapons, some of them as fanciful as earthquake generators and giant magnifying glasses. However, given that said war is secretly integral to the stability of the Dystopia that currently dominates the world, nobody's interested in actually winning it, so none of these projects ever come to fruition: they're just another means of eating up surplus resources that might otherwise be used to improve the standard of living.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's novel Sixth Column. After the PanAsians destroy the U.S. government and occupy the U.S., a secret government laboratory underneath the Rocky Mountains is tasked to develop superweapons that can defeat the invaders.
  • The Terran Federation of Starship Troopers maintain laboratories on Uranus and Pluto.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Andromeda Strain: The Wildfire lab is an isolated underground laboratory that allows scientists to analyze and experiment on a deadly disease without fear of it leaking to the outside world. Only the scientists are even allowed inside, and they have to go through a rigorous Decontamination Chamber just to get inside.
  • Farscape:
    • In the episode "Nerve", Scorpius' Gammak Base is hidden on an isolated moon deep in the Uncharted Territories, where things like wormhole physics and intelligent viruses can be studied without endangering Peacekeeper Space. In fact, Crichton and the rest of Moya's crew would never have learned of its location if they hadn't bumped into Captain Larraq in "A Bug's Life", and wouldn't have gone anywhere near it if they hadn't needed to steal medical supplies in a hurry.
    • After managing to uncover the wormhole data he needed, Scorpius upgrades to a full-blown command carrier, takes it into deep space, and uses it as a permanently-docked base for his experiments in wormhole weapons. By the events of "Losing Time," he's already managed to create a wormhole and begin sending test pilots into it.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • "Unnatural Selection" concerns the events on Darwin Genetic Research Station, an isolated research facility on the planet Gagarin IV. As it turns out, the isolation is well-justified, as the scientists have managed to engineer children with immune systems so powerful that their antibodies attack anyone in their immediate vicinity, resulting in a plague of Rapid Aging among the base personnel.
    • "Brothers" reveals that Data's creator, Dr. Soong, has established a secret laboratory on an uninhabited jungle planet where he can continue his cybernetic experiments in seclusion — until he finally summons Data and Lore to his side, of course.

  • We Are All Pokémon Trainers: The main PEFE HQ is located on an isolated Mirage Spot in the middle of the Sea of Kyogre, is constantly moved around by Hoopa's rings so it lacks a fixed location, is mostly invisible to satellite surveillance, routs teleportation to special spots, and has a psychic field that not only makes humans ignore the island but prevents its visitors from telling others its location directly. As a result, only the most trusted PEFE employees or outside individuals are allowed to visit. There they do all sorts of science in relative safety and secrecy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Rifts, these were hugely popular late in the 21st century, as governments and megacorps began to delve deeper into artificial intelligence, cybernetics, genetic engineering and other areas. With global tensions rising, the construction of such underground facilities proliferated. A.R.C.H.I.E Three is located in such a facility. The Coalition's Lone Star research complex originally belonged to the U.S. government. The Angel of Death operates out of the hidden Mindwerks complex in Poland. These centers are avidly sought by seekers of Lost Technology.
  • In the Traveller adventure Signal GK, the Langren Center can be found deep in the mountains of the hot region of the planet Ochre. It is a private facility that performs research and development for the Solomani Confederation government and corporations. Its true purpose, however, is to act as cover for a secret underground electronics factory. The factory is meant to provide vital electronic components for the Confederation military in case of another war with the Imperium.

    Video Games 
  • Another Code: When Richard restarted his experiments into Another, he took up shop on Blood Edward Island due to his fears of the technology falling into the wrong hands. It's suggested that his benefactor, Bill Edwards, encouraged him to invoke this trope in order to make it easier to get rid of Richard once the tech had been completed.
  • Chicory: A Colorful Tale: The science lab where colour creation is studied is isolated between cliffs on the foothills of the mountains.
  • Destroy All Humans! features Area 42, a thinly-disguised parody of Area 51 run by Majestic: as with the inspiration, it's a military research base hidden deep in the desert, commonly studying crashed Furon spaceships and reverse-engineering their technology. However, there's also a testing zone for nuclear weapons nearby, which comes in handy when Crypto needs to blow up part of the facility.
  • EarthBound (1994): Dr. Andonuts's lab is secluded in the distant cliffs of Foggyland (pictured above).
  • The crux of Evil Genius is the creation of an underground lair hidden on a remote desert island of indeterminate location, upon which you can safely research and develop all the technologies you'll need to make a name for yourself as an international supervillain. It's not quite remote enough to keep pesky spies at bay, and you'll have to upgrade to a jungle island about halfway through the game but eventually you will be able to create the doomsday device with which you can take over the world.
  • Evolve Idle's laboratory appears at the interstellar stage. It allows scientists to do research without the watchful eye of the public.
  • The Big Empty of Fallout: New Vegas. Originally a colossal Scienceville hidden under Big Mountain, it's only become more isolated with the fall of civilization; even when one of the Think Tanks' experiments ended up transforming the mountain into a crater and exposing the facility to the open air, the high walls and sophisticated defenses kept anyone from investigating too deeply — and those who do manage to break in usually end up having their brains sucked out. As a result, the Big Empty remains unexplored to this day... up until you show up.
  • The generators in Frostpunk were generally set up far from civilization in order to avoid their construction being compromised by civil unrest. The Arks in particular are a group of buildings supported by a generator and a small community of engineers (45 at the start of the eponymous scenario) created for the purpose of preserving various seeds to restore the vegetation of the Earth at the eventual end of the ice age. The main conflict in the scenario derives from attempting to prepare for a storm that endangers this project while also helping out New Manchester, a city of several hundred people that reaches out to you with a scout, is in dire straits and would be doomed without it. Some of the engineers don't hesitate to make it clear that they feel that saving New Manchester isn't worth compromising their own mission to preserve the seeds in the Arks.
  • The Humane Labs and Research of Grand Theft Auto V is a Forbidden Zone in the San Chianski Mountain Range of the State of San Andreas. Research on chemical and biological weapons is being done for several Federal agencies.
  • In Guild Wars 2, The Inquest, a group of evil Mad Scientist Asura who have been pushed to the fringes of Asuran society, have a number of secret labs in obscure locations throughout Tyria. These are typically located in isolated, rural locations far from any settlement and are often partially underground.
  • The Black Mesa Research Facility in Half-Life was intended to be one of these, an isolated mostly underground multi-disciplinary organization in the deserts of New Mexico. Unfortunately, it wasn't isolated enough.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Robbie and Purah's laboratory used to be near Hyrule Castle. However, after Calamity Ganon attacked and turned the castle into a malevolent fortress, the two scientists moved to further areas and separated so Ganon's forces couldn't kill them both at once. Purah built her new lab near the peaceful Hateno Village, while Robbie built his in the remote and underpopulated hills of Akkala.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The ice planet of Noveria is privately owned and leased out for research too dangerous or controversial to take place anywhere else. On top of being the only inhabited planet in its system, most of the research facilities are situated on different mountaintops for safety's sake; one such base that Shepard visits in the first game is Peak 15, a lab owned by Binary Helix — a company that numbers Saren Arterius and Matriarch Benezia among its key investors. As it turns out, they're trying to recreate the long-extinct Rachni — and have been almost completely overwhelmed as a result by the time Shepard gets there.
    • From the same game, Virmire has remained unsettled despite the lush jungle conditions, thanks to its position close to the highly-dangerous Terminus Systems. With nobody willing to colonize it or even go near it thanks to all the politics, Saren feels safe using it as a secret lab where he can research Reaper indoctrination and cures for the Genophage.
    • The facility on Ilos where the Protheans were researching how to reverse engineer the mass relays was so well hidden that the Reapers didn't find anything about it when they captured the Citadel in the previous cycle. This made it possible for the scientists on Ilos to survive in stasis long enough to at least partially finish what they started and sabotage the Citadel to make things more difficult for the Reapers next time.
    • The second game actually begins aboard a top-secret deep space installation used by Cerberus for work on the Lazarus Project — bringing Commander Shepard back from the dead! Unfortunately, the secrecy and isolation turns out to be totally ineffective as a security measure, given that the project ends up being compromised from within by a traitor.
    • Pragia's isolation and aggressive botanic growth makes it ideal for just about anyone needing to keep their activities hidden from prying eyes — including scientists. Several years prior to the start of the series, Cerberus set up a research facility deep in the jungle and began experimenting on kidnapped biotic children in an effort to create Super Soldiers — even forcing them into gladiatorial games and conditioning them into enjoying violence through narcotic drugs. Jack is the only known survivor of this barbaric process (up until Aresh shows up), and as such, her loyalty mission involves returning to the now-abandoned base and blowing it up.
    • In the Overlord DLC, Aite is being used to hide Cerberus' efforts to control the geth, apparently because the planet will collide with its moon within the next two hundred years, discouraging major colonization attempts. With a population of fewer than two million settlers scattered across the planet, Cerberus can conduct Project Overlord in seclusion — to the point that it actually has four bases on different parts of Aite: a communications facility, a power station, a crashed geth ship being harvested for units, and the main lab. Predictably, by the time Shepard arrives, it's all gone horribly wrong.
    • In the third game, Cerberus is found to be running a lab on Sanctum; with the harsh weather and the freezing temperatures keeping all but the most determined miners away from the planet, it operates largely undisturbed until Cerberus turns hostile and Shepard arrives to shut it down.
    • It's eventually revealed that Cerberus HQ - an administration center and laboratory complex - is a space station hidden in the orbit of a dying star. Because the star itself is so obscure, and because its solar output renders anything close enough virtually invisible to long-range detection, the Illusive Man and his scientists are able to conduct the most secret of their experiments in total privacy.
  • A recurring motif in the Metroid series is that the eponymous Metroids are so dangerous and so sought-after that the Space Pirates and The Federation have to carefully store them in isolated and heavily fortified places, preferably where there's plenty of frigid cold. Examples include Mother Brain's fortress of Tourian (Metroid, Super Metroid, Metroid: Zero Mission), a laboratory amidst the frigid Phendrana Drifts (Metroid Prime), an isolated section of the floating Skytown (Metroid Prime 3: Corruption), and restricted labs hidden deep within space stations (Metroid Fusion, Metroid: Other M).
  • The Black Mountain of The New Order: Last Days of Europe. An underground laboratory complex owned by deranged scientist Trofim Lysenko, it's been built into a mountain just outside the mining town of Magnitogorsk. This is the center of Lysenko's efforts to create super-soldiers that can destroy Germany; unfortunately, Lysenko and his NKVD compatriots are more than willing to abduct test subjects from Magnitogorsk to that end...
  • Outlast is set in the Mount Massive Asylum, an aging mental hospital taken over by the Murkoff Corporation and converted into a secret lab. Situated atop a mountain in a rural area of Colorado and populated mainly by patients nobody cares about, secrecy is all but guaranteed. Unfortunately, the isolation of the facility works against it, so when they finally achieve a breakthrough that bites them in the ass, they find themselves trapped, miles from safety, and with only one radio able to contact local police.
  • Outpost: The original game and its sequel had the Hot Labs, specialized labs dedicated to dangerous research into things like nuclear energy and retro-viruses. Because of the nature of the research, the Hot Lab could only be built on the planet's surface and it was very much recommended it be kept away from the main colony as said lab had the potential to spontaneously explode and take out any other nearby buildings or connecting tubes.
  • Portal: The Aperture Science Enrichment Center is a massive underground complex of laboratories and testing facilities all hidden under fields in Michigan. Portal 2 reveals that isolating the Center was one of the few good decisions Aperture CEO Cave Johnson made: past experiments included such things as armies of mantis men, dangerously toxic fluids, ridiculously hostile artificial intelligences, and potentially apocalyptic attempts at time travel.
  • The Umbrella Corporation of the Resident Evil series has at least attempted this many times by building their bioweapon labs under remote mansions, in subterranean facilities, on remote islands and the like, but deadly outbreaks invariably happen anyway from various combinations of malfeasance, sabotage, betrayal, and basic incompetence.
  • In Second Sight, the remote Siberian village of Dubrensk harbors an underground research facility. The heart of Project Zener, it was used to study and harness psychic powers for the benefit of the USSR, with potential Psychic Children being brought in from all over Russia to be experimented on. Unfortunately, though chief scientist Victor Grienko was successful in unlocking their powers, the Zener Children were not cooperative, having been left unable to age and often disfigured thanks to the medical procedures. The project was judged a failure by the Kremlin and shut down, but thanks to Dubrensk's isolation, Grienko was able to secretly continue his experiments independently until — following the collapse of the Soviet Union — he got the attention of the NSE and cut a deal with them, prompting the events of the game.
  • The Secret World
    • During the Cold War, the Red Hand set up numerous research facilities across the wilderness of Romania, both for the sake of secrecy and safety. One of the less prominent ones was a small holding facility hidden under Hatchet Falls, deep in the rarely-travelled forests beyond Harbaburesti: this place was used to house the vampire Janos Dragosani as part of a program to use vampires for the space program. Since then, it's been abandoned, rediscovered, and repurposed by the Orochi Group — though Dragosani is still alive within the purpose-made holding cell.
    • Another notable one is Facility 9, a training ground for "Phantom Cosmonauts" situated in an observatory not far from the isolated hamlet of Harbaburesti. Here, the Red Hand hoped to use Anima and the Filth to create superpowered explorers who could travel not just into space, but into other dimensions. Naturally, everything went wrong and the program was shut down... though one of the most successful Phantom Cosmonauts is still active, unfortunately.
    • The most prominent of the Red Hand bases was Facility 10 AKA "The Slaughterhouse," a colossal underground bunker burrowing deep under the Carpathian Mountains: here, the Soviets were attempting to create vampire super-soldiers with the aid of Mara — up until the project spiralled out of control and forced the government to seal off the entire complex. Unfortunately, the complex proved a little too self-sufficient to be starved out; it's still active today.
    • The Orochi Group have continued in this vein by building a secret research base of their own in the mountains, concealed under a dam. Known as the Nursery, it was established for the purposes of studying some of the most dangerous phenomena of the Secret World, including werewolf shapeshifting, demonic possession, ghosts, and even the Filth. Though safety was a key consideration, secrecy is even more important to the Nursery, because the test subjects are all kidnapped children — chosen specifically to see how all these horrific phenomena react to the young.
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty: A secret mission involves investigating a Dominion research facility located on an asteroid in the Castanar system, a non-descript star system on the fringe of Dominion space. The Raiders find the Dominion has been experimenting with Hybrids, and then one of them gets loose...
  • StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm begins with Kerrigan undergoing tests at research station EB-103, a Umojan facility located on the tiny planetoid XT39323, both for secrecy and to make it easier to contain the Zerg if they lose control of them.
  • Sunless Skies occasionally features derelict laboratory complexes floating about the open sky, usually in the depths of the Reach and well away from heavily-populated areas. You never find out exactly what the scientists hoped to learn, or what forced them to abandon their experiments... though on the upside, you can at least scavenge some decent loot.

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius: In the sunk queendom of England, the Sparks of the Realm are gathered in an underwater dome farther apart from population centers, where they can process their Mad Scientist experiments in peace. And the dome is rigged to explode in case they ever invent or discover something really dangerous.

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • Project Y of the Manhattan Project, a.k.a. Los Alamos Laboratory. For obvious reasons, the government wanted the site that designed, built, and tested the first atomic bombs to be in a remote location but subverted prior to that - the Manhattan project was so-called because its original location was New York's island of Manhattan.
  • Several of the Soviet Union's Naukograds were situated in remote areas of Siberia, with ten of them also being Closed Cities.
  • The Stennis Space Center, built by NASA in a rural area at the border of Mississippi and Louisiana, is the nation's primary rocket-engine test facility. The risk of explosion and overwhelming noise required an isolated facility, while still accessible to barges transporting the Saturn V first stage (from New Orleans) and second stage (from California). It's been testing both government and commercial rocket engines ever since.
  • The United States National Radio Quiet Zone is located in rural West Virginia to isolate it as much as possible from any kind of electromagentic interference for scientific research and intelligence gathering.