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Sauna of Death

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The Hero is trapped in a sauna or steam room by some villain who has locked/barred the door and must get out before dying of dehydration/heat-stroke.

This trope amuses people who are used to real saunas to no end: in any real sauna, because of the tendency of heat to rise up, one can easily lie down on the floor, which tends to remain cool even in the hottest saunas. This might work in a Roman sauna, which uses hypocaustum (underfloor heating) to heat the bath. The Romans used wooden clogs called coturnae to avoid their feet getting burnt.

Similar in ease-of-escape terms but opposite in temperature terms to Locked in a Freezer. Occasionally, when characters of opposite genders are featured, they will be driven to strip off at least the outer layers of their clothing. This generally has an effect similar to the freezer situation in which the characters huddle together for body warmth.

May be used as an example of Homicide Machines.

May be an Amusing Injury in cartoons if the character physically shrinks in size, like a piece of laundry, or becomes skeletally thin from too long in a steam cabinet.

Being trapped or killed in an actual oven falls under Cooked to Death. If the work uses a tanning bed instead, see Trapped In a Tanning Bed.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Knights on Dinosaurs have the gang entering the underground world of Enriru on a high-tech floating ship capable of phasing underground. Halfway through, Doraemon and friends suddenly feels their surrounding temperature suspiciously rising, to the point where Nobita and Gian are ready to strip down to their underpants (much to Shizuka's chagrin, who starts covering her eyes). It was then their benefactor, Banhou the Dinosaur Knight, calls them on loudspeaker to hit a switch beside their quarters' door for the air-conditioning. It turns out they're passing an underground volcano and Banhou nearly forgot to inform his guests from the surface about the air-conditioning.
  • Subverted in Gintama, where somebody tries to do this to Gintoki and Hijikata... only instead of realizing the villain is there, they just accept it as part of a challenge and start trying to make things even hotter. Unsurprisingly, this episode drew waves of squealing fangirls.
  • The bizarre series Ippatsu Kiki Musume uses this as one of the many life-and-death situations in which protagonist Kunyan finds herself. Keeping with the series' Finagle's Law setup, the door isn't locked but she can't open it because both her arms and legs dislocated simultaneously. When she tries to open the door with her mouth, the first attempt bashes her nose against the door and the subsequent nosebleed makes the knob slippery and harder to turn. Yeah, it's that kind of series.
  • Lupin III: Part II episode "A Safe Bet" has a safemaker's son seeking revenge. In this case, it is one of those enclosed one-person units. Lupin, of course, manages to escape and the kid is expecting as much. The sauna is a warning shot.
  • Mission: Yozakura Family: Taiyo, Shinzo, Kengo, and Nanao get into a contest over who can last the longest in an inn's sauna, which goes up to a blood boiling 300 degrees Celsius. Taiyo and Kengo immediately feel like they're melting once the temperature gets up to 200, while Shinzo manages to hold on. Nanao is in similar discomfort, but decides to cheat by using his mutated form, which can adapt to heat better. He ends up winning after lasting 60 minutes in the sauna, while Shinzo lasts 50 minutes, Taiyo 15 minutes, and Kengo just 12 minutes. The sign on the door even warns patrons to be careful about burning themselves to death.
  • Downplayed in Monster Musume when Killa the killer bee attacks Kimihito, Centorea, and Rachnera. They trick her into entering a sauna and lock her in, not to kill her, but just to get her overheated to the point where she stops trying to fight, since high temperatures are her Weaksauce Weakness. The fact that being in there long enough could kill her is brought up, but not an issue as they let her out before she loses consciousness.
  • UQ Holder!: Played for laughs when the cast magically lock Kirie and Touta into a tiny sauna in an attempt to get them to grow closer romantically. When the possibility of this trope comes up, it's pointed out that they're both immortal. Then it's quickly pointed out that Touta may not die, but Kirie's immortality is of the resurrection kind... and if she does die, time will be rewound to her last "save point", meaning all their Matchmaker efforts would be erased.

    Comic Books 
  • In the humoristic Italian comic Alan Ford, the villain (an incredibly obese and ill man who wants to become handsome and healthier by replacing all his organs with fully functional ones token by various people) is at one point put in a "sauna box" by his dragon to "lose some weight" before the operation. Sadly, he is forgotten and left there for far too much time, causing him to become skeletal in appearance and eventually die from fear when mistaking himself for the Grim Reaper, much to the shock of his medic/right hand man.
    • In another issue, the villain (a fat devilish man) tries to force Alan and Oliver to talk and then to execute them by locking them inside a sauna. They're saved by his henchwoman who wanted to redeem herself... though in reality she was still trying to kill them for her own agenda and the sauna simply malfunctioned.
  • In an Archie comic book, Veronica was placed in an overheating steam cabinet and left to die by a supervillain. Jughead (who was in superhero mode) was charged with rescuing her, but didn't do a very good job of it. Losing quite a bit of weight and starving in the ordeal, she consumed a vile concoction the beanied one had prepared earlier for his lunch so as to fatten back up a bit — grossing everyone, including the bad guy, totally out.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship": the tsar locks the fool into his bathhouse and orders the furnace cranked up to kill him. The fool, of course, borrows his friend's straw that can soak up any heat and actually has to try to stay warm in the bathhouse.

    Films — Animation 
  • The French animated movie Lascars features an accidental example. Here, the bad guys only want to lock up Tony Merguez in the sauna to get him out of the way. However, the tip of the pitchfork that is used to block the door is also touching the button to raise the heat. So, each time Tony shakes the door to try open it, he's pressing the button and augments the temperature. By the time he realizes this, the sauna is at full steam.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is the premise of the thriller 247°F.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, the Count locks himself in a sauna with Monsieur Villefort and raises the steam to its maximum, interrogating him until the stress and heat combine to force Villefort to confess his culpability in the Count's imprisonment.
  • Happens in the movie Daddy-O, which was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
  • The first victim in Death Spa is Laura, who is taking a sauna when the door is locked, the steam is cranked up, and chlorine gas is pumped into the sauna along with the steam.
  • The Extended Cut of Escape Room: Tournament of Champions has in the opening sequence a woman trapped in an overheating sauna puzzle.
  • The Tanning Beds of Death from Final Destination 3 could be considered a less dated variant of this.
  • In Girl House, Loverboy attempts to murder Mia by jamming a crowbar under the door of the sauna, cranking the temperature up to max, and sabotaging the controls.
  • A death trap operating on the same principle (though not made to look at all innocuous, as in some examples) was shown in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.
  • In I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Ben/The Fisherman attempts to fry Julie while she's using a tanning bed (not a good idea when a serial killer is on the prowl) by tying it shut with a zip-tie and cranking up the intensity. Luckily, rescue arrives quickly.
  • James Bond:
    • In Thunderball, both novel and film, James Bond locks his rival Count Lippe in a Turkish Bath, causing him serious injury and delaying the SPECTRE scheme in which Lippe was supposed to play a part. See also Villain Ball to know why Bond was fighting Lippe.
    • Seemingly toyed with in Goldeneye — Xenia Onatopp tries to seduce and kill Bond in a steam room. The novelization implies that the heat plays more of a role in Bond's initial inability to fight back.
  • At the start of Killer Workout, Valerie is seemingly burned to death when a tanning bed malfunctions.
  • In Master of the Flying Guillotine, the One-Armed Boxer lures the Thai kickboxer into a cabin with a metal floor that his students heat up with a bonfire. The floor burns the feet of the barefooted Thai, allowing the One-Armed Boxer to pummel him to death with ease.
  • A pack of crooked doctors tried to kill Moe and Larry this way in Monkey Businessmen, but Curly freed them by blowing the door off its hinges.
  • An inversion happens in a teen movie Snowboarders. On New Year's Eve in a mountain hotel, an older woman locks a teenage girl inside an outdoor sauna because she thought she was hitting on "her" hotel owner – and turns off the heat, making it an equivalent of Locked in a Freezer.
  • In the low-budget thriller The Steam Experiment, a group of four tourists are tricked into getting trapped in a sauna by a deranged environmental activist, who intends to boil all of them alive to demonstrate the effects of "global warming on humans".
  • Urban Legends: Bloody Mary features the tanning bed variant. The character is Stripped to the Bone by the heat.
  • In The War of the Roses, being trapped in his own sauna is what almost kills Oliver Rose. Well, one of the many things. Most of them precipitated or planned by his wife.
  • In What's New Pussycat?, Woody Allen tries to do in friend/romantic rival Peter O'Toole by cranking up the heat in the steam room they're in. O'Toole thrives on the steam, and Allen nearly passes out (doesn't help that he's fully dressed, sportcoat, glasses and all).

  • Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter this is one of the bad endings you suffer when you try to reverse the enlarging effects of the cake by sweating it out in Arnold's sauna. It works, but you get stuck in the same sauna and instead shrinks into nothingness.

  • Animorphs: The Animorphs find a hospital that has been taken over by Yeerks, in which anyone who checks in leaves with a Yeerk in their brain. They track the source of the Yeerks to the hospital's jacuzzi, to which Jake decides to solve the problem by setting it to boil, cooking all the Yeerks in there alive.
  • In one of the Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. novels, an undead patron of the Zombie Bathhouse who'd remained in the sauna way, way too long has all the flesh slip away, ending up in a puddle of tissue on the floor. Being a zombie patron, the unfortunate sauna-user still walks away, but as a bare-boned skeleton.
  • In Richard Matheson's novel Hell House (in a scene that never made it to the movie The Legend of Hell House) the scientist trying to prove that a haunting is all science finds himself locked in a sauna. While he's trying to get out and others are trying to batter in the door, the mud from the tarn outside starts to seep in and fill the room. It becomes a race to see if he'll escape or if he'll die from the heat or drown. When the door is opened and he's pulled out there is no mud on him or in the room
  • Possibly referenced in Iorich, where Kiera has Vlad soak himself in a hot spring to soothe his aches after a beating. Once he emerges, she remarks that she'd heard Easterners' hearts would explode from that much heat, but she hadn't believed it. (This gets her a "Look", by the way.)
  • Journey to the West, the monkey Sun Wukong is put into a furnace. He survives though.
  • In The Body In The Bath House, one of Lindsey Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novels, the newlywed couple Marcus and Helena move into their first marital home and strightaway wonder what the bad smell is. Then they discover the builder they hired has taken the opportuinty to dispose of a body. In the hypacaust underneath the sauna.
  • Used against Nancy Drew in Two Points to Murder, when she's investigating a college basketball team and gets trapped in the sauna room. She winds up stripping to her underwear to buy time before finally figuring out an escape.
  • Raoul and the Persian get trapped in one in The Phantom of the Opera. To be fair, it wasn't exactly a "steam room" per se — more like a "heat-and-optical-illusion room", but it still qualifies.
  • Phryne Fisher: The title character and Sascha are locked in a Turkish bath by the killer in Cocaine Blues to prevent them from sharing the truth of the killer's identity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens on some occasions in 1000 Ways to Die:
    • The segment "Who Fart-Dead?" had a group of college coeds competing to see how long they would last in a sauna, and when one of them farts her way to victory, driving the other students out, she wins, but ends up being cooked to death.
    • "Gang Banged" had a mobster's son during the Prohibition Era seeking revenge on rival mobsters who murdered him. When he corners them in the steam room, he slips and his gun misfires, puncturing the steam pipe and cooking his face to death.
  • In The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Brisco and Lord Bowler are tied up in a sauna, though the intended method of death is the exploding boiler rather than the heat.
  • Batman (1966): The Bookworm once locked Batman and Robin in a steam room disguised as a giant cookbook, saying it was a recipe for steamed bat. And it wasn't a sauna, it was hooked up to super-heated steam from a steam tunnel.
  • In the Charlie's Angels episode "Angels in Springtime," the protagonists investigate a murder at a creepy spa. At one point, a villain padlocks Kris into a sauna and turns the heat way up. Kelly goes back for her forgotten watch, realizes Kris is trapped inside, and breaks in with a fire hydrant.
  • On an episode of The Chronicle, the tabloid reporters were dealing with the angry ghosts fat people killed in a fat farm sauna. In the end, they had to rescue the murderer from suffering the same fate.
  • Shows up in an early episode of CSI, though the sauna only exacerbates a treatable injury to the point of death, and isn't used as a weapon in the strictest sense.
  • Dark Justice. A Black Widow killer bumps off her first husband this way.
  • Father Brown: In "The Enigma of Antigonish", the killer of the week locks Father Brown, Mrs. McCarthy, Sid and the woman who was his next targeted victim in the hot room—having removed the door handle from the inside—in an attempt to Make It Look Like an Accident.
  • Get Smart: In the episode "Smartacus", KAOS is operating a chain of Roman steam baths where they inject truth serum into the steam to extract secrets. When Max and the Chief come to investigate, KAOS locks them inside and cranks up the heat.
    Max: The temperature in here is definitely getting too high.
    Chief: Why do you say that?
    Max: My locker key is melting!
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: In the episode "For Those Of You Just Joining Us...", the show's production staff is locked in a sauna during a trip to a team-building camp. Kevin Sorbo, aka Hercules, saves them by knocking down the door after a quick Look Behind You moment to keep his powers hidden.
  • Jake and the Fatman: In "You Don't Know Me", Andrew Blaine, a friend of McCabe's is ousted from his company by his protege, Charles Hatton. He also learns that his wife aided him. When she catches Hatton with another woman she snaps and threatens him. He is later killed when someone tampers with his sauna.
  • Appears on Kenny vs. Spenny in the "Who can wear a Gorilla suit the longest?" episode, though the endgame was to force the other participant to remove the costume (and lose the competition), not actually kill them.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "The Wolf Hunter of Little Worthy", a saboteur attacking a glamping site smashes the control on the sauna; causing the camper trapped inside to almost be cooked alive.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, "Cocaine Blues": As in the book (above), Phryne Fisher and Sascha are locked in a Turkish bath to prevent them from revealing the truth of the drug enterprise being run through the building. She jams the steam machines in a bid for time, which causes an off-screen explosion once they're safely clear.
  • An early episode of Murder, She Wrote has Jessica in this situation.
  • In Powerhouse, one of the kids is taking advantage of a weight loss program run by crooks who were using it to get the bakery he was working at empty for a robbery with the neighboring bank. Deciding he had outlived his usefulness on the night of the job, the crooks talk him into using their sauna, lock him in and turn up the heat full blast. Fortunately, he was able to manipulate a vent to signal SOS which his friends spotted and rescued him.
  • Pretty Little Liars: In "Hot Water" this happens to Spencer when "A" sabotages the sauna she's on and lock her from the outside. She almost dies, but Aria arrives in time to save her.
  • Number 6 finds himself trapped in a Sauna Box Death Trap during The Prisoner (1967) episode "The Girl Who Was Death". It doesn't explode, though, he merely escapes.
  • Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators: In "This Envious Court", Louella's mother is lured into a sauna and locked in by the killer. Lou only arrives just in time to save her.
  • Parodied in Sledge Hammer! where Hammer and Doreau question a perp in a sauna (who discovers it to be a Sauna of Death for different reasons). To discover their clothes have shrunk by about four sizes.
  • This happens to Clark Kent in a Season 1 episode of Smallville, where the villain threw him in and barricaded the door. Of course, the sauna has kryptonite in it. He manages to break a hole in the door's window before he collapses, which saved him from dying until Pa Kent could rescue him.
  • This happens twice in Spin City.
    • In one example the only reason why most of the main cast was trapped in the sauna was because a nosy reporter was prowling outside.
    • In another example, Stuart and Carter get trapped in the boiler room of city hall while trying to fix a circuit for a vending machine. Carter couldn't get the fuse box open, so Stuart grabs a conveniently located crowbar... which was being used to prop open the door. To make matters worse, at the end of the episode when Mike finally finds them, it's revealed that there was a phone in the room the whole time.
  • The kids attempt to deal with the Flayed Billy in this manner in Season 3 of Stranger Things. Unfortunately, being Flayed comes with Super-Strength, allowing Billy to break out.
  • Bizarrely used in Wonderfalls, when the sister and her rival are at the gym rivalling with each other. They then head to the sauna, where the sister storms out, accidentally locking the rival in the sauna. Later, it turns out that being locked in a sauna forced her to have a crazy Native American vision quest and become leader of her tribe, thus solving every single problem on that show. Hooray, logic! But that's how all the plots in Wonderfalls work. (That is, they all involve that sort of Rube Goldberg logic, not "every time someone gets locked in a sauna and has a vision quest.")
  • Wonder Woman (1975): In "I Do, I Do", Diana succumbs to knockout gas while in a sauna.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock 2 has Subject Delta optionally open a locked sauna door in the Adonis Luxury Resort, finding both a woman's corpse and an Audio Diary. The highly dehydrated look of the body implies she was trapped in the sauna's heat until she died.
  • Dishonored has a bathhouse in the Golden Cat brothel that features a few steam rooms. It's possible to kill one of Corvo's targets by waiting for them to go into the steam room, locking the door, and putting the steam on full-blast.
  • Can be subverted or played straight in Goldeneye Rogue Agent. You can either use EM Hack to futz with the controls and trap the guys inside the sauna, or you can try to fight them, guns blazing. If you do it with the Goldeneye, you can't grab the weapons left behind. Take this into account.
  • Hitman:
    • In Hitman: Codename 47 (and the remake of the mission in Hitman: Contracts), the player can kill one of the targets by blocking the door to his steam room and increasing the supply. It helps that he has a heart condition.
    • The Hokkaido level "Situs Inversus" of Hitman (2016) has a sauna that remains occupied by two NPCs. If you increase the temperature, they'll leave (unless you lock the door beforehand). This is one way to get an accident kill on the target for that level; Yuki Yamasaki who is looking for a hotter-than-normal sauna.
  • In Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, the Goddess Althena is put into something similar.
    Eiphel: Then believe what you will as you fade into nothing... in the flames of the Fornaceron!
  • In Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek, there is one puzzle where Nancy is locked inside a sauna.
  • Oxygen Not Included: While not exactly a sauna, the same effect of the air growing hot enough to suffocate and even scald is perfectly possible if you're not accounting for heat generation and sources, such as running machinery and outside biomes (especially geysers). Certain enclosed rooms can quickly become deadly, and your entire base slowly so, from the top down.
  • In Persona 2, the party at one point in both games run into an oven trap on their way to stop the Masquerade.
  • The Gold Luger deathtrap in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica. It heats the room up to a deadly degree. There's also an actual sauna in the guards locker room that has a zombie in it.
  • This is one of the many, many ways you can kill people in The Ship.
  • In The Sims 4's Spa Day game pack, staying in a sauna for too long will kill a Sim.

    Visual Novels 
  • Downplayed in Double Homework. If the protagonist chooses to make contact with Rachel when he comes to the ski lodge, she tells a story of how Dennis talked to her while she was walking into the sauna, trying to get in her pants, and hinting not-so-subtly that he’s willing to sexually assault her.

    Western Animation 
  • A variation of the Sauna Room is the Sauna Box, which has been used in countless cartoons as a means for wacky anthropomorphic animals to dispatch their rivals. (Usually the cartoon animal locked in the Sauna Box has their head turn red as they get hotter. In more creative examples of this trope, their head will actually turn into an overheating thermometer.) This trope usually ends with the Sauna Box exploding in a spectacular fashion, or a radically reduced victim emerging from a cloud of steam.
  • Happens in the Code Lyoko episode "New Order". XANA locks Yumi and Ulrich in a room and raises the temperature, making it a Death Trap. Although the real point is to show the two avoiding looking at each other when they are forced to start taking their clothes off; as if their relationship needed any more UST.
  • The "Sauna Box" variation appears in the Darkwing Duck episode "In Like Blunt." Launchpad's part of the death trap (which is meant to set off Blunt and Darkwing's) is a steamer. While Sharp saw it mostly as part of the device to kill his nemesis, it's implied (especially from Blunt and Darkwing's panicked reactions when they remember they left him in it) that it would have killed him eventually.
  • Subverted in Futurama, where Fry and Bender rupture a steam pipe in Zapp Brannigan's brig. When they're released, they've kicked back and are initially reluctant to leave.
  • Attempted on Inspector Gadget in the health spa episode. It happened a second time in the second-series episode "Gadget's Gadgets"; here, the mad Dr. Noodleman had him in there to "loosen his gadgets." The hapless gumshoe saved himself by freezing the sauna with a can of "Refridge-a-Gadget."
  • In one of The Pink Panther show bumpers, Blue Aardvark was shrunk to ant-size by a steam cabinet. Charlie then chased him around for a while.
  • Rugrats (1991): In "The Big Flush", this happens accidentally, in what is apparently the worst-designed sauna in the world. The lever that controls the sauna is right outside the door, and when the babies pull it, thinking it's the flusher to the pool that they think is a giant toilet, they accidentally trap Didi and Betty inside. Fortunately, they are let out at the end of the episode, though severely overheated and dehydrated.
  • The Simpsons: The first attempt on the life of Homer Simpson in "The Great Louse Detective" by Frank Grimes Jr., in revenge for his father whom Homer drove insane. He was actually already in danger by being in the sauna at all because of his obesity and heart problems. The sauna controls helpfully included the setting "murder".
  • In one episode of The Shnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show There is an episode where the titular characters try to lose weight and eventually get themselves trapped in a sauna.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Larry's Gym", after Larry opens his titular gym and announces that first visits are free, Mr. Krabs locks himself in the steam room to make sure his first visit is permanently free. At the end of the episode, when Larry closes up the gym for the night and Mr. Krabs is still locked in the steam room, he pulls open the door to find he has turned into a cooked live-action crab.
    Larry: What is that smell? Mr. Krabs, how long have you been in there?! [pulls the door open]
    Mr. Krabs: I think I'm done! Would you mind rubbin' a little butter on me?
  • Invoked and Downplayed in Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race, where one of the challenges in Finland was to spend ten minutes in the sauna, fully clothed, and then run outside and jump in the freezing water. This was quite difficult for most of the contestants, though the Adversity Twins actually had a Disability Immunity due to "temperature dyslexia."
  • Totally Spies!: The girls are locked in such a trap by Tim Scam, who had brainwashed their mothers.
  • We Bare Bears: In "Spa Day", Panda gets locked in a sauna with an eccentric old Korean man, and desperately tries to open the door when the old man starts succumbing to heat exhaustion. Fortunately Panda manages to accidentally blow the door open. Even more fortunately, the old man turns out to be the sauna owner's father, and out of gratitude Mrs. Chang calls off Grizzly's debt.

    Real Life 
  • Incredibly, this has actually happened. The World Sauna Championships 2010 in Finland ended in one contestant getting killed and another suffering third degree burns and falling into a coma for two months. Mind you, it was about a contest on being able to stand longest in the hottest sauna. An autopsy revealed that the contestant who died had used painkillers and anesthetics to bypass his physical limitations.
  • People sometimes do get killed in the sauna if they pass out because of an attack of disease or drunkenness.
  • "Sweat lodges" can be used wrongly, as in the case of a "character-building retreat" in Arizona in 2009 that killed three people.
  • A sauna is intended to cause perspiration, which implies losing body fluids. First-timers are usually advised "to drink a lot" to cover the fluid loss. This is to be interpreted as "to hydrate a lot", not to "get plastered a lot". Being inebriated in a sauna will lead easily to passing out and being dehydrated to death, due both to the effects of the sauna and the dehydrative effects of alcohol (alcohol impairs the body's ability to reabsorb water, and too much of it can lead to vomiting). For this reason, it is strongly advised NOT to drink any alcoholic beverages stronger than mild beer in the sauna.


Burnt to death

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