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Tannhäuser Gate

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Image by TK769. Used with permission.

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the Shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those... moments, will be lost... in time, like... tears... in rain. Time... to die."
Roy Batty, Blade Runner

Tannhäuser (pronounced TUNN-hoiz-er, or ˈtanˌhɔʏ̯zɐ) was a German poet and Minnesänger whose poetry dates from 1245 to 1265 A.D. Outside his poetry, practically nothing is known of the historical Tannhäuser. In the 1400s, legend sprung up that he discovered the underground home of the goddess Venus, then sought atonement from the Pope for having worshiped her. Richard Wagner's three-act opera Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg popularized this legend in the modern era.

The film Blade Runner gave a brief Shout-Out to Tannhäuser, as Roy Batty mentions the Tannhäuser Gatenote  in his climactic speech: "I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark by the Tannhäuser Gate." What the gate exactly is has not been revealed. It became a meme to science fiction geeks anyway.

References to the Gate crop up repeatedly in other SF media as a Shout-Out to Blade Runner. References to the original Tannhäuser are somewhat less common.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, the battleship Minerva's Wave-Motion Gun is named Tannhäuser.
    • Given that the Archangel's Wave-Motion Gun based on the exact same technology is named Lohengrin, this is probably a reference to Wagner. Moreso since the Archangel was built and introduced long prior to the Minerva.
      • Definitely given that several of the Minerva's other weapon systems are named for Wagnerian Operas (Tristain [Beam Cannons], Isolde [Artillery] and Parsifail [Type of Missile])
    • There is also an episode named "Lohengrin Gate", which focuses on an Earth Alliance base in a mountainous valley that uses an emplaced version of the Lohengrin to guard the one entrance.
  • GunBuster has several pseudo-science and history shorts that detail the background of the series' universe. One of them concerns a physicist called Tanhauser who won the Nobel 5 years in a row for completely changing astrophysics. The "Tanhauser gate" appears to be what is currently known as a "wormhole's throat".
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, V uses a Spell Card called Tannhauser Gate. For bonus Sci-Fi points, it sets up the summon for the Xyz Monster Number 9: Canopy Star - Dyson Sphere.

    Comic Books 
  • A Christmas issue of Deadpool ends with the villain (dressed as Santa) trying to sway Deadpool from killing him by reciting Roy Batty's final lines. Deadpool knows enough about pop culture that the attempt just makes him angry and he kills the guy anyway.
    • Unless some inter-company theft occurred, this one was actually from DC's Hitman comics.
    Narration: "But a Blade Runner fan was this miserable heel / And Rutger's great speech from the end he did steal!"
  • The second My Little Pony Micro Series book includes a riff on the speech.

  • In Soldier, Kurt Russell's character is a veteran of the Battle of Tannhauser Gate. This and several other details were meant to tie Soldier into the same 'verse as Blade Runner (the screenwriter, David Webb Peoples, was a co-writer of Blade Runner). Apparently, it is a physical barrier or a jump gate as big as a planet.
  • Used by Owen Wilson as the titular character in Drillbit Taylor.
  • Hunter Prey: The crew of the Aurora says it that it has just cleared the Tannhäuser Gate before it arrives at the planet.

  • In And Another Thing..., Wowbagger gives the original quote while ranting about how much he wants to die. Blade Runner was one of his favourite movies.
  • Also by Eoin Colfer is Highfire, where the titular dragon rants the quote while off his head during a failed suicide attempt.
  • Paul Mac Auley's Evening's Empires: Tannhauser Gate is a location in the asteroid belt which the protagonist is trying to reach. Trantor was his last port of call. Combined with the black monoliths everywhere, it would appear that the original settlers of the belt were a bunch of geeks.
  • A rather more subtle instance, but Mortal Engines, in its Used Future setting, has a mountain range the divides Central and East Asia called the Tannhäuser Mountains. The only break in the mountains is an armoured wall-fortress of Batmunkh Gompa. The climactic battles of the book, and the trigger for most of the political events of the rest of the series, take place on or around this metaphorical 'gate'.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Babylon 5 features symbiotic slugs that preserve memories from long-dead races. One of them, just before dying, gives a speech about "The things I've seen" that is strongly reminiscent of Batty's speech.
  • In Cowboy Bebop (2021), when Jet speculates about Spike's past in the episode "Sad Clown A-Go-Go", he suggests that Spike may have been in special forces and served at the Shoulder of Orion or Tannhauser's Gate. Additionally Mad Pierrot recites the famous Tears in Rain soliloquy in the previous scene with some minor alterations.
  • Dark (2017), a series about time travel, features a clockmaker called H.G. Tannhaus. There's also a plot important gate in an underground cave.
  • Joel McHale on The Soup used this trope to make fun of Nancy Grace's Swift Justice on the 1/28/2011 episode.
  • Appears on a cinema marquee on the series finale of WandaVision.

  • Fightstar: The song "Tannhauser Gate" is meant as a shout out to Blade Runner.
  • Spray: In "Everything's Better with Muppets," the list of things that could be improved by Muppets includes "C-beams glitter by the Tannhauser Gate, quite good, I understand".
  • Electric Hellfire Club: Like the Fightstar example, "Tannhauser Gate" was clearly written as a Blade Runner shout out (lyrics here), specifically from Roy Batty's point of view.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • References to the Tannhauser Gates are included in the space fantasy maps.
    • Cadian Gate is the only safe route out of the Eye of Terror and the site of the biggest and most horrendous space battles in existence.
  • The various Heavy Gear franchise elements use what seems to be an elaboration of the Bladerunner version as their interstellar drive. Heavily traveled routes have stations that open the gate (which is cheaper) and larger ships have their own equipment for opening the gates (which is more flexible, and essential on exploration or military vessels).
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, it's an interstellar gate that changes monsters' levels.

    Video Games 
  • A level in Homeworld, spelled "Tenhauser Gate".
  • In the classic Duke Nukem 3D total conversion The Gate, the final level of episode 3, "Red Planet Blues," is named "Tanheuser Gate".
  • In Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, one fellow is out at night looking at constellations, and "Tannhauser Gate" is one of them.
  • There is an Orbis Starport in Elite Dangerous by the name of Tannhauser Gate in the Aztlan system.
  • The 13th mission in House Of The Dying Sun is called Slaughter at Tannhauser Gate.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, the goddess Aphrodite (whose true original form is a spaceship) talks about she knows and sees things that humans never will, like the "glittering Tannhauser Mirror Plane in the Outer Universe."


    Web Original 
  • Overheaven features the Tannhauser Gate as a rotating torus-shaped space station orbiting at the L2 Lagrange point, above the far side of the moon. It's an interplanetary travel hub, where Earth, Luna, Exonesia (the orbital habitats), Mars and practically everywhere else in Sol come together. It was envisioned and financed by Reinhold von Lowitz, a German ex-nobleman and Eccentric Millionaire with a passion for space and a fondness for Wagner. He named the station Tannhauser in reference to an Alternate Character Interpretation of the original myth, with Tannhauser as a sympathetic rebel against a repressive society. The idea is that much as Tannhauser tried to go home but found that he was no longer welcome there, von Lowitz had realized that he didn't belong on Earth anymore and chose to leave it behind for space.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • In the castle Neuschwanstein in Germany (the real life Disney castle) the rooms are designed around Wagner's operas. There is an huge ornately carved doorway leading to the Tannhäuser themed room. Quite possibly the closest Real Life Tannhauser Gate in existence.