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Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere

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"I've done far worse than kill you, Admiral. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on ... hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me — as you left her. Marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet. Buried alive. Buried alive."
Khan Noonien Singh, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Also known as an Oubliette, the Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere is the least dramatic Death Trap of all. Not being an elaborate plan of disposing enemies, the sealed room is usually more of an opportunistic ploy — the good guys have gone into an abandoned mine or ancient crypt or isolated cave of their own volition, and the villain just takes this lucky chance to seal them in forever. Of course, forever turns into the twenty minutes or so it takes the hero to find an alternate way out, or occasionally to be rescued. Sometimes the stakes are raised by having the room slowly fill with water or gas.

The quiet solitude of this trap can be used to effect a Locked in a Freezer plot between two characters.

Sometimes the tension of this Death Trap is increased by use of a good old-fashioned slowly-sealing door, which the good guys fail to squeeze through at the last second, or using a very small and unventilated space like a bank safe where the trappee will theoretically soon run out of air.


This trope might have roots in the Greek myth of Antigone, who performed funeral rites for her dead brother - a traitor to the state - and was sentenced to death by her uncle, King Creon. The death sentence was, simply, being sealed in a cave to die of hunger/dehydration. In the play by Sophocles, Creon later had regrets, but when he tried to let her out she had already hanged herself (It is a tragedy, what did you expect?).

This trap is often encountered in Medieval settings — the original Oubliettes were cellar rooms at the basement of the heaviest fortified tower in the stronghold, called the donjon (hence dungeon, an alternative spelling) with access only through a trap door at the upper floor.

See also Tailor-Made Prison and Closed Circle. Compare And I Must Scream and Maximum Fun Chamber. Super-Trope to the various structures with No Entrance.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the American dub of the 1st Movie to Cardcaptor Sakura, Clow Reed sealed his student (and former girlfriend) in an alternate dimension after she started practicing dark magic. Although she is long dead, her spirit is stuck in there, waiting for him to come back and set her free. Whether or not he ever intended to do so and when is unknown. Sakura has to set her free and help her move on to the afterlife, as this (very) unfriendly ghost attacks her and her friends.
    • In the original Japanese version, however, it is not an example of this trope, but rather of a Soul Jar, as the "seal" was voluntary on the sorceress' part (since she was waiting for Reed, her rival and secret crush, to return).
    • Clear Card revisits this trope when Sakura's room turns into one of these as a result of one of the new cards. The room seemly has no way out, and pushing on the walls only causes it to stretch. It soon begins to actively try to kill them, but they find a way to escape rather quickly when they realize it's made of rubber and so can be popped with a sharp object like you can a balloon.
  • In The Castle of Cagliostro, Lupin III is dropped down an oubliette into a dungeon filled with bones that date across centuries.
  • In Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, Kirby himself may be considered a Sealed Room In The Middle Of Nowhere. In one episode, he inhales a Dedede doll, which means he also inhaled Dedede himself due to the circumstances. At the end of the episode, Dedede and said doll are shown floating in what looks like outer space. This makes for less of a room and more of an alternate dimension of nothingness. It is never explained how Dedede escaped, but one can presume that the other characters figured out what happened and convinced Kirby to let him go.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, the Hyperbolic Time Chamber becomes this if one stays in it for more than two days, or if the door is destroyed, as happens during the Buu saga.
  • In Himitsu no Akko-chan episode 32 (the original 1969 series) Atsuko "Akko-chan" Kagami, to gain an empathic insight about her new deaf-mute friend, wishes herself deaf and mute as well. After realizing that not only she got her wish, but she got it so literal that her magic mirror took the liberty to remove her ability to vocalize as well, she runs away in distress, falling in a ravine. She then realizes that a. she can't hear, so she can't possibly know if someone is approaching the edge of the crevice and b. even if she somehow managed to know that, she'd still be unable to cry for help.
  • Sailor Moon: In the Anime, this is basically how Nehellenia's Can works from her perspective, though she also seems to have been asleep for awhile too. It also seems to function as a Year Inside, Hour Outside, since Nehellenia, having failed to seize immortality through the Golden Crystal, regains her youth when Queen Serenity's curse re-seals her. Disturbingly, she doesn't even try to escape it, outright admitting that she accepts eternal isolation if she can truly be beautiful forever. It's actually kinda hard not to feel sorry for someone whose self-worth is that low.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Hell (or The Underworld, depending on your translation) is this... inside of a pocketwatch.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics' version of Loki was trapped by Odin in the Room Without Doors on the Island of Silence... until he managed to escape. His previous punishment had been being transformed into a tree for a dozen centuries or so.
    • Also, at least before the late 2000's, Marvel's Loki was destined to suffer the exact same fate, and was once even chained up to face it, though this turned out to be part of a Ragnarok-averting Xanatos Gambit on Odin's part.
  • In Marvel's Acts of Vengeance crossover, Loki gathered several supervillains together for a scheme against The Avengers. Among the group were the Red Skull and Magneto. The Red Skull was Hitler's right-hand man. Magneto is a survivor of the Holocaust. So, in the Captain America portion of the crossover, Magneto took the opportunity to seal the Skull in an underground chamber with just enough water to survive, but no way to escape. The Skull is eventually rescued by his henchman Crossbones, who had to hire a Seers-type Occult Detective to find him.
  • In Superman: Red Son, the Soviet Batman attempts to trap Comrade of Steel in a bunker permanently illuminated with Red Sun lamps. Though, Superman manages to break free with Wonder Woman's help.
  • IDW's run of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic series features Twilight and Fluttershy falling into an abandoned one of these in the first story arc. A trap like this is of course no problem for Fluttershy, a pegasus... especially since Twilight just teleports them out anyway. Twilight helpfully defines the term "oubliette" for the target audience.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Pooh nearly suffers this fate in Pooh's Grand Adventure by getting trapped in a pit in a cavern with walls that are too slippery to climb, with seemingly no possibility of rescue because his friends think that he was killed. Before getting rescued, he realizes that he is never alone so it isn't so bad.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Just for a definition of oubliette, try Labyrinth, where the heroine falls through a Trap Door and gets stuck there (for a short time).
  • Saw:
    • The main plot arc of the original Saw, with a twist: the hostages are free to leave at any time, but they must saw off their feet to do so. Adam winds up getting sealed in the room at the end anyway.
    • At the end of Saw 3D, Hoffman is chained in the room from the first movie, by none other than Dr. Gordon.
  • As the page quote shows, this was Khan's intention towards Kirk in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. However, he misses a few things; namely, that the "barren rock" is actually the site of a thriving "Genesis cave" that contains everything they need to survive, and that the Enterprise is still nearby.
    • Khan wants to do this to Kirk specifically because he feels that Kirk did this to him. Kirk sort of did, but it was an accident — Kirk's intention was to leave Khan and his crew on an uninhabited but habitable planet so that they would be unable to hurt anyone but would have the ability to make a relatively decent life for themselves, only for the planet to be turned into a barren wasteland by a natural disaster six months later. When the planet was relatively hospitable, Khan himself understood this decision as a mercy and was pleased with the opportunity, but after the natural disaster, he began to blame Kirk for leaving them there and never checking up on them.
  • The Cube movies featured mazes made of giant shifting cubes full of deathtraps in the middle of nowhere, although admittedly Cube 2: Hypercube does reveal that the second maze is indeed formed with non-Euclidean geometry and thus the endless cubes were all inside a single lab room all along.
  • In the Pirates of the Caribbean series, when (Captain) Jack Sparrow gets trapped in Davy Jones' Locker.
    • Also, the time he'd been marooned by the Black Pearl's mutinous crew.
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Indy and Marian are sealed in the Ark's chamber.
  • In the opening of The Matrix Revolutions, Neo is trapped in Mobil Avenue (Mobil being an anagram for Limbo), a shiny, empty underground train station literally in the middle of nowhere.
  • In 1408 the protagonist becomes trapped in a posh hotel room and completely isolated from the outside world. There is even some fire evacuation literature which transforms from a normal floor layout to a display of just his room, with no entrances or exits.
  • Fiorina "Fury" 161 in Alien³ is basically this. The prisoners spend their lives in a prison facility in the middle of nowhere, on a planet in the middle of nowhere in the universe. As the warden puts it: The prisoners are free to leave anytime they want, only the rest of the planet is a much bigger shithole than the facility itself.
  • In the 1944 film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost the Ghost is the spirit of Sir Simon de Canterville, who ran away from a Trial by Combat and hid in his room; his father refused to believe he had run away and to prove it had his room bricked shut, deaf to his son's pleas.
  • The central concept in Fermat's Room, combined with math riddles that activated deathtraps when not solved.
  • In the 2003 Korean film Oldboy, Oh Dae-su is confined to a hotel-like room for fifteen years, fed only fried dumplings and with a television as his only form of information on the outside world. In the end, it turns out that the room isn't exactly "in the middle of nowhere" — Oh Dae-su later uses the taste of the dumplings to work out the location of room, and then proceeds to beat the living shit out of his captors.
  • Most of the cast of The Hole, since they don't know that one of their supposed fellow captives, Liz, is actually the one keeping them locked up.
  • The Dark Knight Rises has "the pit," a prison carved out of the ground hundreds of feet deep with no ceiling and walls nearly impossible to climb.
  • The Expendables 2 featured most of the crew being trapped, at least for a little while, inside a collapsed mining tunnel.
  • In La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In) the doctor's mansion, Vera's room in it and Vicente's dungeon beneath it.
  • The glass-enclosed cell in The Cell is located in an underground chamber in the middle of nowhere.
  • In the short horror film, daughter, the main character, a mother, finds herself trapped in a dreamlike version of her own house where darkly surreal things happen. It turns out this place is an Ironic Hell where the mother is trapped for all eternity as punishment for taking her own—and her daughter's—life. Also, it's implied that all of Hell is composed of Sealed Rooms in the Middle of Nowhere, where each condemned person receives a punishment exclusively tailored to them.
  • The Call ends with the villain locked up and left alone in his own well-hidden Torture Cellar.
  • In Ex Machina, this is Caleb's ultimate fate, locked in Nathan's room, in Nathan's locked-down house with no power, hundreds of miles from any sort of help. There is a fridge full of water, but there's little chance of him getting out or of anyone coming to look for him before he dies of starvation.
  • The 2009 film Hunger 2009 (not to be confused with the 2008 Hunger) features four characters being sealed in a bunker deep underground with plenty of water, but very little light and no food as a twisted doctor starves them as a science experiment. Several weeks later, on the verge of starving to death, they're provided with knives by their captor and reminded that humans contain meat...
  • The 1961 film The Pit and the Pendulum ends with a couple of memorable examples: Elizabeth accidentally gets sealed away in an iron maiden, forgotten in an abandoned torture room and is therefore locked up forever. Also, Medinas' mother Isabella was sealed up in a tomb alive.


  • The Girl in the Box has the eponymous girl kidnapped and locked in a dark cellar for no apparent reason. The novel consists of her writing her story and pleas for help on an old typewriter in the cellar as she begins to run out of food and water. And we're not even given the benefit of a happy ending. The story ends with her final entry (in which she is still trapped) and the reader never learns what happens to her.
  • In King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard, the protagonists find themselves locked in the treasure chamber, which is complete with a slowly-sealing door they don't manage to squeeze through. (Neither does the traitor who activates the door, who tries but gets out too late and gets crushed by it; this could make a trope by itself.) Fortunately, our heroes eventually find another way out.
  • A room, literally sealed, and literally in the middle of nowhere—the narrator in Dan Simmons' books Endymion and The Rise of Endymion is writing up his story while trapped in a box which is floating in space. Oh, and there's a "Schrodinger's Cat" mechanism, set to release poison gas into the chamber at a random moment.
  • In Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, it is revealed at the end of the fourth book that King Mendanbar, who no one has seen since the battle at the end of the third book and who Daystar ultimately rescues, has been stuck in the castle for 17-odd years inside a magical room of Zemenar's creation. He didn't need to eat but was most certainly conscious of time passing.
  • This is what happens if a Vacuole splits off from the Pattern in The Wheel of Time — or at least, it is one of the possible outcomes.
  • The entire cast of Chuck Palahniuk's book Haunted is trapped in a particularly dangerous version. And it's stated that they're not the first to have been trapped there either...
    • Trapped yes, but the room is not all that dangerous (aside from the moldy upholstery). All the danger comes from the deranged psyches of the trapped individuals who convince themselves that when(if) they are rescued, they'll get more attention if they're in the worst possible situation. They proceed to torture themselves and destroy all of their food supplies so as to have the best story.
  • Jack Vance's Dying Earth tales includes the Spell of Forlorn Encystment "which constricts the subject in a pore some 45 miles below the surface of the earth," and apparently keeps them alive indefinitely. Those few who are released are usually left irretrievably insane.
  • Lloyd from The Stand is left in his jail cell and forgotten after The Virus kills everyone who remembers that he's there. Randall Flagg waits until he is half-crazy from solitude and forced to cannibalism before rescuing him.
    • King also did this in a short story, called (appropriately) A Very Tight Place. The room? A steel-plated, overturned, and uncleaned port-a-toilet located on a long-abandoned construction site.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado. The narrator, in revenge for an insult, lures a drunken friend into the catacombs beneath his palace. With the promise of the titular cask of wine, he gets him to enter a niche in the wall, then chains him in place and bricks up the niche, completely deaf to enjoying the pleas for mercy.
  • Aladdin, in the Cave of Wonders, both in the original and the Disney version. Would have worked too if he didn't have a genie with him.
  • Honoré de Balzac's "La Grande Breteche." A creepy variation on the theme of hiding your secret liaison in your clothes closet when your husband unexpectedly comes home. In this story, a nobleman comes to suspect his wife of hiding a man in her closet. Rather than insult his wife by opening the door and having a look for himself, the husband simply has the servants brick up the wall in front of the closet door.
  • In The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, in order for the titular town to remain a Utopia, one child must be locked away in a dark basement room.
  • Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Room With No Doors.
  • Her Acres of Pastoral Playground by Mike Allen. The Sole Survivor of a Cosmic Horror that has swallowed the entire Earth has sealed himself and his farm off via a spell; but while time flows normally inside the protected area, outside he can hear his future self screaming mindlessly for all eternity as the spell will eventually fail.
  • In Issola, Morrolan and Aliera are magically abducted by the Jenonine and chained up in a room with no doors or windows, that turns out to be on another world which the Jenonine are using to steal amorphia from theirs.
  • In Matthew Reilly's Six Sacred Stones, Jack and Zoe were sealed in an ancient shrine by their supposed allies. 2 minutes later, they were out to save the day. How? Well, the crocodiles got in...
  • In Animorphs, David is tricked into a Mode Lock as a rat both to remove him as a threat and because The Heart of the team believed it to be a better alternative than killing him. The process of mode locking was two hours cramped to be sure he couldn't change forms. This rather quickly and apparently becomes a Fate Worse than Death. The whole two hours, he's pleading, screaming, and threatening the "heroes" to free him through thought speak, now his only means of communication. To be completely sure he's out of the waynote , they have to maroon him on an island until his rat form dies. He's still screaming, and his thought speak can be heard by passing boats for years, haunting the island. But no one can do anything to help him, short of literal Deus ex Machina.
  • In the Nameless Detective novel Shackles, Nameless is kidnapped and transported to a remote cabin where he is shackled to the wall. He is left with food and water to keep him alive for a certain number of days, after which he will start to dehydrate and starve.
  • The Fablehaven series has the transdimensional backpack turned into this.
  • Jorge Luis Borges's "The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths" deconstructs this trope: The Prideful King of Babylon mocks the King of Arabia by forcing him to enter his Big Labyrinthine Building. The King of Arabia asks for God's help, and gets out. He tells the King of Babylon he knows a simpler, better version of this, and some day he will show it to him. Years later, The Arabian King wars on and dethrones the King of Babylon, then crosses the Arabian desert with him and abandons the King of Babylon there, where he died from thirst and hunger.
  • The protagonist of Kevin O'Donnell's short story "Gift of Prometheus" literally ends up nowhere. He is trapped in a grey void by a malfunctioning time machine, with an agonizing wound, potentially for eternity.
  • In Bridge of Birds, Number Ten Ox relates the story of the Dragon's Pillow, a misplaced section of the Great Wall of China that ended up near his (entirely peaceful and interior) village. An Imperial soothsayer was bribed to have a poor peasant named Wu bricked up alive in the tower to serve as an eternal sentry. Unusually for the trope, the peasant's ghost was quite philosophic about his fate, and even helped pass on a vital clue for the protagonists to solve the mystery of the village's poisoned children, hundreds of years later. It's strongly implied that the whole thing was arranged by the King of Heaven.
  • In Gone Fishing by James H. Schmitz, the protagonist deduces that a harmless retired scientist has built a teleporter, and plans to learn his secret and then murder him. Then he is knocked out. When he wakes he finds that the scientist was onto him, and has kidnapped him and left him in a remote mountain cabin. He doesn't realize just how remote until he goes outside and sees the Alien Sky.
  • At the end of the The Milkweed Triptych, the sociopathic seer Gretel is imprisoned on a tiny wind-swept island off the Scottish coast, with her food being supplied once every six months.
  • Crystal Rain starts with someone finally getting out of a sealed escape pod in interplanetary space; about as far in the middle of nowhere as there is.
  • An Alternate Universe story by Harry Turtledove explores a situation where the first atomic bomb was dropped on Berlin rather than Hiroshima. Here, the Fuhrerbunker is well enough protected to just about survive the blast. But Adolf Hitler is trapped a long way underground, alone in a room damaged badly enough for him not to be able to open the door, surrounded by corpses and with Berlin above him being a blasted sea of rubble. with no way out, he ends up shooting himself...
  • Duel on Syrtis, by Poul Anderson. A Hunting the Most Dangerous Game tale IN SPACE! ends with the Great White Hunter apparently killing the alien prey, but his spacesuit has been damaged so he takes a drug to immobilize his body and slow his metabolism until he's rescued. Turns out the alien is Not Quite Dead and drags the human to an isolated cave, then connects up some spare oxygen tanks so he'll live a very long time...
  • Played with in the Known Space story The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton. Gil is abducted by an Organ Theft gang and wakes up in an anonymous apartment (memory-form technology is used to extrude furniture from the walls when needed, so in a neutral state it's almost a White Void Room). Gil has arranged for a police psychic to read his mind at regular intervals to ensure he's OK, but without knowing where he is that's no help. Fortunately he's able to make an accurate guess as to his location, but with no visible clock he still has no idea how long he's got before the psychic checks on him.
  • In The Canterville Ghost, the titular spectre was executed for murder by being chained up in a secret room of the castle with a plate of bread and a mug of water just out of his reach.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Adventures of Superman episode "The Defeat of Superman," the villains of the week shut Lois, Jimmy, and Superman into a basement room in their former hideout. The door is steel-plated and the villains threw a Kryptonite stick into the room, preventing Superman from breaking them out.
  • Game of Thrones: Dany seals up Xaro Xhoan Daxos (with Doreah) in his own vault as revenge for betraying her.
  • In an obscure example is in the little-known show called Prey, where one of the heroes was put in cell in the middle of a blank room. The was the Cliffhanger show finale, so The Resolution Will Not Be Televised, although The Invisible Man gave a Shout-Out to it when the actor who had played the prisoner was let free.
  • Sapphire and Steel. At the end of their sixth Assignment the title characters are suckered into a room that's sent into another dimension with no way back. The twist is that since they can't be killed (at least by conventional means) they'll probably be stuck there with just each other for company forever.
  • The episode "Apocrypha" from The X-Files involves a Body Surfing alien lifeform that manifests as a sentient black oil. The alien's final host body belongs to the traitorous Alex Krycek, who gets the unpleasant task of returning the creature to its ship — which happens to be stored twenty floors underground in an abandoned missile silo. The episode ends with a shot of Krycek screaming in terror as he pounds on the now-sealed steel door of the silo. In true X-Files fashion, however, Krycek returns the following season without a scratch on him (with a Hand Wave explanation for how he escaped the silo).
  • On an episode of Highlander: The Series, an old foe of Duncan's who had been left to rot in an insane asylum locked him in a decommissioned ship's brig, with the intention of letting him out after he'd been there for an equal term. Duncan being immortal, this wasn't quite a deathtrap, but it would have been very, very unpleasant.
    • One episode had an immortal marooned on a tiny barren island, where he starved to death — over and over again — until somebody finally found him. (Unlike in the films, immortals in the series couldn't walk underwater without drowning over and over, or staying seemingly dead until brought to the surface, so that wouldn't have worked well.)
  • In Heroes, this was Hiro's way of dealing with Adam, after their little disagreement in feudal Japan. So he cannot kill him nor hurt him in any way? Good thing he can still teleport him to any time and place he wants! For example, inside his supposedly empty tomb.
    • The show does it again but this time Peter and Sylar are trapped inside Sylar's own head with only each other to annoy.
  • Angel:
    • The season three finale "Tomorrow" has Angel sealed into a metal coffin and dumped into the Pacific Ocean. The following season opens with him going mad from blood-thirst and isolation.
    • A fifth season episode of saw Angel, as branch director of evil law firm Wolfram & Hart, lock a resurrected murderous doctor into a tiny closet where he can't move, can't scream, and can't blink for all eternity.
    Eve: "If there's anything Wolfram & Hart excels at, it's keeping their unmentionables unmentioned."
    • And via Flashback in the first season episode "Rm w/a Vu" where Dennis Pearson's mother walled him up to keep him from running off with his girlfriend. She was planning to let him out after a while, but had a heart attack and died just after finishing the wall.
  • Doctor Who
    • At the end of "The Pandorica Opens", the Legion of Doom locks the Doctor into a box. The next episode starts out by showing the Bill & Ted scheme by which he arranges his escape.
    • At the end of "The Vanquishers", Inston-Vee Vinder and Kate Lethbridge-Stewart force the Grand Serpent to enter a portal door at gunpoint, then seal it behind him. He finds himself standing on a tiny asteroid, with no planets visible for light years in any direction. It's Laser-Guided Karma for how the Grand Serpent had Vinder reassigned as the sole occupant of a tiny space station in retaliation for trying to expose his crimes.
  • Bones: Dr. Brennan and Hodgins are captured by the serial killer "The Gravedigger," knocked out, locked in a car, and buried four feet underground in the middle of an abandoned coal field.
    • This was standard practice for this particular villain, as the name suggests. Not so much a serial killer as a serial kidnapper BTW — early victims' locations were revealed after a ransom was paid, allowing for last-minute rescues — but the Gravedigger does eventually get pissed enough to do this to people for revenge too.
  • A vengeful serial killer on CSI buried Nick Stokes alive in a plexiglas box, with a video feed to a website so his colleagues could watch him suffer. When the residents of the fire ant nest he's buried next to begin finding the cracks in the box...
  • The MO of a serial killer in Cold Case was to hold his victims captive and psychologically torture them until they lost the will to live, then completely seal them in and let them starve to death.
  • In one episode of NUMB3RS a reporter is abducted to keep her from running a story that would torpedo a property developer's scheme. The kidnapper doesn't want to kill her, so he decides to keep her prisoner in a cabin on an otherwise bare tract of rural land until a bid goes through, after which it will be too late for the story to stop him. Charlie, with the team's help, parses this out and is able to rescue her.
  • Blake's 7
    • In the seminal episode "Rumours of Death," Avon teleports himself and a notorious torturer into an underground cavern with absolutely no surface access, and, after getting the information he needs, leaves him there. He's "merciful" enough to leave the man a gun. This is how the episode begins.
    • In "Gold", Servalan abandons an underling who tried to double-cross her on a desolate planet. However she apparently decides to just shoot him instead, as the last we see is her driving away from his corpse.
    Keiller: I don't suppose I'll get paid now, will I, Servalan?
    Servalan: What use would money be to
    Keiller: But're not goin' to...Servalan, nobody lives here! There's no shelter, no food. Let're not going to leave me here alone?
  • This is used twice in Bron|Broen once for Mette and the young children, locked in a shack in the middle of nowhere with a live grenade and the other was August trapped in a coffin-shaped box behind a fake wall.
  • Supernatural: Ma'lak boxes can serve as this. They're coffinlike enclosures warded so that even near-omnipotent beings will be locked in forever. Dean makes plans to have himself locked in one and dropped to the bottom of the ocean when he's possessed by Apocalypse!Michael. Jack solves his problem by killing Michael. Later, when Sam and Dean decide he's too dangerous and must be sealed away forever, he blows his way out of the Ma'lak box within seconds.

  • 2D's current location in the Gorillaz narrative is the basement of Plastic Beach, an artificial island in the middle of the ocean. He's being held captive and forced to sing by Murdoc, and the isolation of the place is one of the things that makes this possible.
  • Finnish song Balladi Olavinlinnasta (Ballad of Castle Olavinlinna) tells about a girl who is masoned inside a chamber in the castle wall because of treason. Castle Olavinlinna is a real castle. According to the legend, her tears watered a rowan tree which grew on the bailey wall. The rowan, which was centuries old, finally fell on a stormy night in 1950.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • This trope is well encountered in Nordic folklore. A traitor — usually a young lady who has fallen in love with an enemy warlord — is masoned inside a castle or town wall as punishment for her treason and left to die of starvation. This trope is present at Castle Olavinlinna in Finland, town of Visby in Sweden, Castle Kuressaare and Põlva in Estonia and town of Haapsalu in Estonia.

  • The episode "No Way Out, No Way In" of Adventures in Odyssey has Mr. Whitaker waking up severely injured and in need of medical attention in a room with no doors or windows and no memory of how he ended up there. His only hope of survival is to convince the mentally disturbed man that lives in the room to go get help.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The effective purpose of the spell "imprisonment" is to trap the target in a sealed chamber, deep underground. Granted, they are in a magically sustained stasis until the end of the world (or the spell is removed by its reverse, "freedom"), so it isn't actually played for drama after the effect, except possibly as a Fate Worse than Death.
    • Also the spell "maze" for a similar effect which the target will eventually escape on its own.
  • Baron Lyron Evensong, a minor darklord of Ravenloft, is cursed with a version of this trope. Every evening, he's compelled to return to the music room of his residence and close himself inside, remaining until dawn. To the rest of the world, he's there overnight, but to him the world outside the room vanishes and leaves him stuck there for 100 years: magically-sustained and ageless, but stir-crazy and bored out of his mind. Any unfortunates he can lure into staying in the room with him through dusk experience this trope also... unfortunately for them, without the benefits of agelessness.

  • The Opera Aida ends with Radames sentenced to death by starvation/dehydration in a tomb for unknowingly revealing the location of the Egyptian army to the king of Ethiopia. It's a happy ending, though, because Aida sneaks in before the door is sealed, and they get to die together. What? This is opera we're talking about, that is a happy ending!
    • The musical has both Radames and Aida sentenced to this, with Amneris interceding to give them the small mercy of being allowed to endure it together, but also makes it a little happier by revealing that Aida and Radames find each other in a later reincarnation.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit is about three people locked in a hotel room. It turns out they've died and gone to hell. Their punishment is to have to suffer each other's company for the rest of eternity. As the protagonist famously says: "Hell is other people."
  • Some of Samuel Beckett plays (Waiting for Godot, Krapp's Last Tape) have elements of this.

    Video Games 
  • In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the main characters talk as though this has happened to them when the Vizier traps them in the crypt. Of course, one Mind Screw dream sequence later, it turns out that Farah's easily managed to wriggle out thanks to her extreme flexibility, and the Prince soon discovers that the Infinity +1 Sword is stored one room over.
  • In Persona 3, the party is investigating the presence of a Full Moon Shadow inside an abandoned underground military base when rival group Strega decides to lock them in. Rather than trying to escape, they simply call on outside help after defeating the Shadow.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, a door hooked up to a lever is either "always open" or "closed and locked," with no other states in between. The player can take advantage of this when creating his Death Traps, either for building "starvation chambers" for recalcitrant dwarves or to seal the room off so that you can reroute water or magma into it. A lever is actually completely unnecessary: one can simply mark the door to be "forbidden", and dwarves will never open the door, even if it leads to their death.
  • Reversed in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: in one mission you are required to kill a group of construction workers (they looked at your sister funny or something). The mission is fairly routine until the last guy, who runs into a portable bathroom and you push him into a pit and fill it with cement. He doesn't get rescued.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, one of the paths involves the Nazi Villain offering Indy a choice of giving up the Stone Discs (needed to unlock the entrance to Atlantis) or Die. When Indy complies, the Nazi rewards him by sealing him in the room. Luckily, Indy manages to tunnel out in about 20 minutes.
  • In the first Myst game, one possible ending sees you and Atrus sealed permanently into the Age of D'ni, due to your neglecting to retrieve the missing page of the book that would release you, much to Atrus's annoyance.
    • And two other endings have you sealed up in one of the brothers' prison books.
  • A humorous version of this happens in Rayman 2: The Great Escape. After The Cave of Bad Dreams, you find a room filled with gold. If you choose to accept the gold, you end up stranded on a stormy island with it... and you're really fat for some reason. Also, Game Over since you're the only one who can save the world.
  • In Lost Odyssey, this happened to Seth at one point in her backstory, when she got captured by rival pirates. Realizing that they couldn't kill the immortal they instead opt to chain her up in a cave on an uncharted island in the middle of nowhere.
  • While it isn't instant death, in Super Mario 64 DS, there is a star hidden in the mirror room you can get as Luigi, by passing through the mirror, and than exiting the door on that side of the room, in which, you access a completely empty white room with a star.
    • Also, the secret white door in the character select room... How many people entered it after earning the star and heard the Boo's screeching on the other side?
    • The "Black Room of Death" in the original 64.
  • The titular room in Silent Hill 4: The Room, which is stuck in an alternate dimension, as Joseph's notes say.
  • A very common final challenge for the Nancy Drew series of games.
  • In Half-Life: Opposing Force, the player character, Adrian Shepard is trapped in an Osprey in an unknown dimension by the G-Man(A part of his intergalactic Xanatos Gambit no doubt), this dimension oddly enough is the exact same one G-Man gave Gordon Freeman his job proposal in Half-Life.
  • Pathways into Darkness has an airlock-type room on "I'd Rather Be Surfing" where you slowly suffocate to death unless you use the Red Cloak to speed up time. Also, a hidden teleporter in "Happy Happy, Carnage Carnage" transports you to an inescapable room in "Don't Get Poisoned!" full of Venomous Skitters.
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Dr. Nefarious and his right hand robot Lawrence wind up on a small asteroid. Also doubles as a massive Brick Joke in Deadlocked when the same asteroid floats by the destroyed space station. They ultimately crashed into another planet, as revealed in A Crack in Time.
  • At some point, Divine Divinity teleported the player into the House of Madness, a locked house seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Outside is a perpetual night, the wind can be heard and the ground is covered with precious emeralds and rubies, but it is impossible to get out as trying to go through a door automatically teleports you to one of the other doors of the same house. To escape, the player has to lie on one of the beds and sleep, as advised by a talking skeleton tied to a wall. This is not particularly pleasant as most of the beds are covered with rotting corpses.
  • The various Might and Magic games are filled with these. Be it jungle, desert or the middle of the ocean, you will find hidden rooms, locked out of sight, and usually filled with monsters who attack you on on sight.
  • One of many, many ways to kill Sims in The Sims, though the sealed room isn't necessarily in the middle of nowhere.
  • There's Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock, where there is a massive hole in the road out of Hall Lock. If David stays where he is, the unexplained goblin comes for him. If he goes in, he risks being poisoned, sucked into the mines, or blown up.
  • The penal zone in Sam & Max: Freelance Police Episode 301.
  • In the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Dead Money, the casino's vault was set up as a death trap by the owner, Frederick Sinclair, to ensnare Dean Domino if he read the message on the vault's terminal, permanently locking both the vault door and the basement elevator, so no one could enter the vault again either. After Vera confessed her betrayal, Sinclair changed his mind and attempted to disarm the trap, only to be killed by a Deadly Gas leak in the pipes. As a Non Standard Game Over, the Courier can fall victim to this trap.
    • Or trick Father Elijah into activating the trap himself.
    • This is effectively what many of the Vaults became since, aside from the Control Vaults, they were all designed as twisted social experiments. Most of the Overseers had been ordered to keep anyone from leaving, effectively trapping everyone inside to suffer whatever insane conditions Vault-Tec put them in. Examples include subliminal noise generators driving everyone insane, exposure to hallucinogenic gas, and infamously, a single inhabitant trapped alone with nothing but a box of handpuppets for company.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the Dremora Lord Dregas Volar, wielder of the last Daedric Crescent Blade, has been sealed inside of Magas Volar, a Daedric shrine not physically connected to the outside world and only accessible with a magic amulet. Defeat him, and you automatically get teleported back out, with the Crescent Blade now in your possession.
  • Ghost Trick has a room sent off into the depths of the ocean. It is all to get rid of a very special dead body that the antagonist does not want to be used to travel back in time with.
  • Zero Escape series. In Virtue's Last Reward, 9 people are trapped in a warehouse not knowing the exact location. They are forced to play a game where they need 9 points to open a door that leads outside. However, the door only opens once and once it closes, it stays closed forever trapping whoever didn't make it outnote .
    • In Zero Time Dilemma, 9 people are trapped in another warehouse in the middle of the desert. This time, the rule is that 6 people must die in order for the door to be opened and just like the prequel, the door only opens once and anyone who didn't leave are trapped.
  • Life Is Strange features a Torture Cellar called "The Dark Room" which is located under a barn in the middle of nowhere.
  • In the Mass Effect 3 DLC The Citadel, the villain Shepard's clone attempts to dispose of Commander Shepard and their companions by locking them in a sealed storage vault. Shepard just waits until they're gone before having Liara's drone, Glyph, open the door.

    Web Comics 
  • In Girl Genius, the acting troupe manages to stumble into an oubliette. The traitor asks if anyone knows how to get out and then, when everyone answers in the negative, escapes via grapple gun.

    Web Original 
  • In The Onion's reality TV series parody, the eponymous Sex House appears to be this.
    Derek: "I wanted to take a walk, and get some food, and think about why I'm here, but the door was locked. And we had to give up our phones, and we don't have Internet access."

    Western Animation 
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward temporarily ends up in a blank, white "void" as a result of a time-traveling mishap. Though he's initially delighted by the solitude of the place, the experience quickly turns into a nightmare as his every spoken word becomes visible, turning into garishly-colored fonts that quickly fill up the screen. Attempting to run away in any direction only takes him back to his starting point. (Fortunately, he quickly breaks through the "floor" of the room and falls back into his time machine.)
  • Invader Zim features a rather unique version of this: A Room with a Moose. It is a dimension that consists entirely of just that: one room whose sole occupant is a moose. You can't get any more "In The Middle Of Nowhere" than a pocket dimension with no means of escaping it.
  • Part 2 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's season 2 finale opens with Twilight having been trapped in a secluded, crystalline cavern. Princess Cadance's imposter explains that these are the caves beneath Canterlot, which have been almost entirely forgotten and block all sounds made from within, meaning that Twilight has no hope of being rescued (the implication being that she'll eventually die of thirst or hunger). Fortunately, Twilight is so powerful that, in a fit of rage, she manages to magically blast her way through the magically-resistant crystal walls.
  • Star Wars Rebels, "Path of the Jedi": Masters whose Padawans failed the test remain trapped in the hall of the Lothal Temple forever, as the temple will only open for both Master and Padawan in either direction. This ensures that a master who failed their padawan by taking them on such a vision quest when they weren't ready dies alongside their student instead of going on to take on any more padawans.
  • The episode "Friend Ship" of Steven Universe features Peridot attempting to trap the Crystal Gems inside a very old, abandoned gem spacecraft. Fortunately, her inability to work the archaic technology (as well as Pearl and Garnet making up after a recent conflict and being able to fuse into Sardonyx once again) enables them to catch up to Peridot so she is forced to escape, leaving them with a way out as well.
  • In Archer, at one point Barry kidnaps Malory and locks her, Bound and Gagged, in an underground chamber with air provided by a pump. The rest of the main cast have to help him beofre she runs out of air. However, since she's a Retired Badass, her escape makes up the B-plot of the episode.

    Real Life 
  • Extreme cases of solitary confinement combined with life imprisonment can border on this.
  • Leap Castle, thought to be the most haunted castle in Ireland, has an oubliette that was discovered to be filled with bones. So many, in fact, they filled three carts when it was emptied. The scariest thing was, a pocket watch from the 1840s was also found in there, long after the castle was thought to be abandoned...
  • Oubliettes in general have some of this, as the name indicates it's something you forget about. After you've shoved someone in there.
  • Elizabeth Bathory. Since she was a noble, she couldn't be executed for her multiple murders (as her servants were). So she was locked in her room for the rest of her life with no human contact (save for a slot in the door, though which they'd slide her food). She lasted three years.
  • Standard punishment for Vestal Virgins who broke (or were accused of breaking) their vows of chastity. Spilling their blood was forbidden, but so was burying someone alive in Rome. Sealing them in a room with a few days' worth of food and water so that the room is "technically" habitable, though...
  • There are legends in several countries in Southeastern Europe about people, usually women, being "built in" as a form of human sacrifice into a newly constructed building or bridge, so that the construction will hold. Some later versions tell that the person's shadow was walled in, which soon after led to their death. These legends have inspired many similar folk songs and tales in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, though whether such a practice truly existed in these regions in ancient times is still up for debate, since there is little proof.
  • In ancient Egypt, a dead pharaoh was typically buried with all the things he would need to ensure a comfortable afterlife - such as food, fine clothing, and all his favored servants. However, the servants were not required to be dead at the time the tomb was sealed...
  • When Napoleon was exiled a second time, it was made sure that he would never return. He spend the last years of his life on St. Helena, a small island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, 2,000 km from the nearest coast, which he shared with a small British naval base.


Video Example(s):


Trapped in the Well of Souls

The Nazis seals Indy and Marion in the snake-filled Well of Souls.

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Example of:

Main / SealedRoomInTheMiddleOfNowhere

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