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The Shut-In

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One of the earliest shut-ins.

Some people avoid going outside in Real Life. Fiction follows through by giving us an assortment of house hermit characters. They tend to come in three flavors:

  • The self-imposed shut-ins who for whatever reason (typically agoraphobia, OCD with contamination concerns, or anxiety disorder) cannot bring themselves to go outside, or simply do not want to do so.
  • Those with a physical condition that prevents them from going outside. Extreme obesity, extreme photosensitivity, immunodeficiency, or being bedridden and likely near death are the most common reasons.
  • Those who are kept inside against their will their entire lives, typically by family. Perhaps they have a facial injury or mental health condition the family finds embarrassing, as issue that's especially likely with Blue Blood families where status is crucial. Often ends up being a family's Dark Secret or Secret Legacy.

Since most fictional characters still need to eat to live,note  shut-ins who are still ambulatory and aren't captives may go outside occasionally to buy necessary food and supplies, but otherwise remain in isolation. Alternatively, a servant may bring meals to them or they may be long-term residents in a luxury hotel with room service.

Subtropes include:

  • Hikikomori: Although the word has connotations specific to Japan, as a trope it effectively covers agoraphobia as a whole.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: The tragic, non-consensual form of this trope.
  • Gilded Cage: Usually befalls a young person, almost Always Female, who is locked up in a luxurious lifestyle but is otherwise denied any socializing outside of interactions with her servants.

Compare The Hermit, Reclusive Artist, and Crazy Survivalist. Compare and contrast You Are Grounded!, which is typically short and doesn't include school. NPC Scheduling, especially in older games, may make characters look like shut-ins, but that's just due to the simplistic AI. Compare Convenient Coma and the like, where being a shut-in is merely a side effect of being unconscious and therefore completely incapable of going anywhere. Prisoners and rare cases like Truman who are prisoners in wide-open spaces don't really count, as they still have interactions with peers of their social standing within their microcosm. Prisoners in solitary tend to fall under Go Mad from the Isolation and/or Punishment Box.

Other Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Henry, in Black Clover, has a rare condition that causes him to be physically very weak while absorbing mana off of anyone near him, which he can't shut off and which he needs to do in order to live. As a result, he is unable to leave the house he was born and grew up in. He makes up for this by having the equally rare Recombination Magic, which he uses to roam about (technically speaking) by restructuring it into the setting's equivalent of a Humongous Mecha. Said house, by the way, is the Black Bulls' HQ and Henry is one of the quirky guild's founding members, with Yami occasionally visiting him so that Henry has enough mana to stay alive.
  • In BNA: Brand New Animal, Michiru Kagemori spent several months in her room after her accidental transformation into a tanuki beastwoman for fear of discrimination. As she is almost murdered on her trip to Anima City in the first episode, her fear was certainly well-founded.
  • The eponymous sheep princess, Momo, in Sheep Princess In Wolf's Clothing rarely left her room before meeting, and falling for, her servant, Aki. Even after that, due to being royalty, she's not allowed to leave the castle, and doesn't have any real desire to anyway, being what her maid calls a total homebody.

    Comic Books 
  • Magic Powder has Strangelight, a powder-addicted dwarf who pretty much can't leave her apartment because she's fried her brain on powder and can barely remember who she is most of the time.

    Fan Works 
  • Checkmate (Anla'Shok): The unnamed victor of the 47th Hunger Games has a hard time interacting with people without unwillingly imagining ways to kill them, although he doesn’t act on those thoughts. For the last twenty-three years, he has only come out at night to get food and wander the areas between District 10's farms and slaughterhouses. He once had prostitures come over, but for the past six years, hasn't trusted himself to be around anyone.
  • Ladybug in a Half Shell: Justified. Since he is, you know, a humanoid turtle mutant, Donatello has to attend the Science Expo through the use of a live-broadcasting camera with the explanation that he is a home-schooled shut-in with an overly-controlling parent. Oddly enough, that is not really a lie…
  • Darkness Burning expands upon Elsa's example from Frozen. Her parents make it a rule for Elsa to eat outside her room three times a week, but she otherwise never leaves her room unless for studying reasons. When her depression worsens, even that becomes less and less common until Elsa never leaves her room.
  • In The Royal Reunion, it's shown that Elsa and Anna's parents were shut-ins as well. They stopped visiting the castle town after a year because they couldn't make up any more excuses for why the castle gates were closed. They kept to themselves inside the castle, aside from times when they needed to leave for political reasons.
  • The Outside:
    • Ryuuko's an unwilling version of this, as Satsuki (agoraphobic) forbids her from going outside and the former was afraid of breaking her rules, so she complied.
    • Similarly, because she was sick all of the time, Satsuki started out as something this, until she had a near-fatal asthma attack the one time she did go outside, which lead her to become full-on Hikkikomori after the whole event traumatized her.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku used to lock himself in his room as much as possible when he was younger out of fear of hurting someone by accident. He wouldn't leave unless he has to use the bathroom, eat, or go to school. This backfires when he's five years old, as he's left home alone while his mom is out on errands, allowing Brainiac to storm in and try to choke him to death unopposed.
  • The Black Sheep Dog Series:
    • After Regulus betrays Voldemort by stealing his Horcrux, he goes into hiding in his estranged brother's flat and has never stepped out of the house ever since.
    • Orion is a more self-imposed version of his trope. An unsociable workaholic, he prefers to remain in his study, and only leaves the room unless there are more pressing obligations, such as meeting his father's summons or going to appointments. His niece mentions that getting him out of the house is a rare occurrence.

    Film — Animated 
  • Frozen (2013): Elsa and Anna are this way in the prologue. Due to fears of Elsa being attacked because of her Power Incontinence, their parents decided to keep them locked in the castle until Elsa could control her powers. Anna would play outside but not be able to leave the castle walls, and it's unknown how often Elsa went outdoors (if ever). The real plot starts at the now-21-year-old Elsa's coronation, where she and Anna break out of this.
  • In Rio, since Linda picked him up, Blu almost never went outdoors and had trouble socializing with other birds.
  • Turning Red: After Mei's parents discover that her red panda has manifested, her mother decrees that "No one can see her like this". They then confine Mei to her bedroom, cutting her off from the outside world, and furthermore they strip the room of all its furnishings except her bed. It's kind of justified because Mei can't control her transformations at all, but it's still a terrible thing to do to a highly extraverted thirteen-year-old girl.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Benchwarmers: Howie is terrified of the sun and of other people, so he lives in a very small room in his brother's house. He overcomes his fear by the end of the movie, however.
  • Castaway on the Moon is about a suicidal man turned castaway, because he can't swim off a tiny island in the middle of Seoul. The only person who notices him there is a young hikikomori woman, who eventually risks the outdoors to communicate with the man on the island (with elaborate schemes to get out unnoticed by anyone in the dead of night).
  • Copycat: After a devastating assault in a bathroom by Daryll Lee Cullum, Dr. Helen Hudson becomes agoraphobic and initially refuses to leave her apartment even when Peter Foley breaks into her house.
  • The Dark Knight Rises: Eight years after the end of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne has spent most of those eight years as a complete recluse, not interacting with anyone but his butler, Alfred. The police finally got organized crime out of Gotham, so the city doesn't need Batman anymore — and Bruce is still too heartbroken over Rachel Dawes' death to interact with the world in his civilian persona. But Bruce Wayne's withdrawal allows Bane's agents to establish a foothold in the city; by the time Batman comes back out of retirement, it's almost too late.
  • In both the book and the movie of The Eiger Sanction, Yurasis Dragon is unable to leave his cold dark room due to his extreme albinism.
  • i am sam: Annie, the elderly neighbor who babysits Sam's daughter Lucy when Sam works, is an agoraphobe who had not been outside in years. When testifying on behalf of Sam to his fitness as a father in his custody battle, her credibility is attacked by a lawyer bringing up this psychological condition.
  • Nim's Island: Alexandra Rover is agoraphobic and never leaves her apartment. When Nim writes to her explaining her trouble, Alexandra forces herself to go out and find her.
  • The Others (2001): The kids cannot go outside because of a genetic disorder (Xeroderma pigmentosum), as they might be exposed to sunlight and die. Once they realize they are already dead, they get to enjoy sunlight for the first time.
  • In Paris 36 (set in 1936), the old musician and songwriter Max (Pierre Richard) never wants to leave his house for some reason, pretending he knows the world as well as if he went outside thanks to his TSF radio receiver. Then, one day, hearing rising singer Douce sing a song of his on the radio motivates him to go outside, though not without a little effort (depicted onscreen with a Vertigo Effect).
  • The Glutton victim from Se7en. He even had his groceries delivered.
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019): Sarah Bellows. Due to her albinism, she was locked in her house and punished if she left the basement.
  • That Darn Cat!: In the remake, an elderly woman complains she never goes anywhere. We find out at the end that this is literally true. When her floor (someone else's ceiling) is destroyed, she falls through still in her armchair. She's happy, though: "I finally left my house!" Why she never leaves her house is left up to the viewer.
  • The Distant Prologue of the movie Copycat is of Dr. Helen Hudson being attacked in a public bathroom by a Serial Killer. When the action picks up 18 months later, she's so afraid to set foot outside her apartment that she can't even do so to escape from yet another killer.
  • Jeffrey Middleton from Snatched (2017) is a Basement Dweller who never leaves his mother's house due to his terror of germs.
  • Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl: Adele's aunt Dora is a severe agoraphobe who's quite ill. Even with Adele, her caretaker, she only communicates through notes pushed out from under her door.
  • Signature Move: Parveen never leaves the house, just watching Pakistani TV all day. Her daughter Zaynab attempts to get her outside for just a walk at least, countering her claim that her knees hurt too much by saying it'll just get worse if she doesn't move around more. Near the end, she finally leaves to see while Zaynab is competing in a lucha libre match.

  • Older Than Radio: Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, the protagonist of the eponymous novel by Ivan Goncharov (1859), goes in a self-imposed exile from public life, not leaving his Saint Petersburg apartment for years. What's most interesting here is that such behavior wasn't seen as something really extraordinary for a wealthy Russian landlord — a class that had such a high proportion of oddballs and weirdos that you might seem out of the line if you didn't have any eccentricities.
  • Eri Asai from Haruki Murakami's novel After Dark. After being deprived of a normal childhood because of her hectic modeling career, she abruptly locked herself in her room and went into deep periods of sleep, awakening only to eat and use the bathroom.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Charlie's grandparents stayed for twenty years without leaving their bed. Not the house; the freaking bed.
  • The protagonist in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is an example of this, hiding himself away from the world after developing leprosy.
  • Tendril from The Cold Moons is the badger equivalent. She lives by herself in a sett near a river. Several years ago, her parents and siblings were mauled by dogs. Tendril narrowly survived but was left crippled. and unable to walk far. She Hates Being Alone but no other badgers go near the area. Bamber is the first badger she's seen in over six years, but Bamber is only able to stay a few weeks before he must go back on his journey.
  • Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. The unhealthy amount of time he spends in his cramped, dingy apartment (emulating his mental state at the time) is theorized to be a contributing factor to the murders he commits.
  • In both the book and the movie of The Eiger Sanction, Yurasis Dragon is unable to leave his cold dark room due to his extreme albinism.
  • Final Girls: In a PTSD sort of example, one of the main characters is unable to cope with leaving the house at all after the events they've been put through. They were essentially forced to live a horror movie.
  • In the short comic "The Forever Box" by Sarah Mesinga (anthologized in Flight), the main character shuts herself in a magical time machine box with her books, laptop, and DVDs after the death of her brothers.
  • The Girl from the Miracles District
    • Karma never leaves her house, which is secured and armoured like a fortress, to the point Nikita nicknames it Castle in her narration. She's rather antisocial, tolerating only Nikita and Ilya (her caretaker) in her vicinity, and spends most of her time in front of the computer.
    • Kosma never leaves his library and tries to limit his interactions with other humans to a minimum, as he's afraid that any factor of his life that he cannot control will cause his berserk spirit to manifest. As of the end of the second book, he's starting to overcome it with Nikita's help.
  • None of the hellish spirits in The Great Divorce want to venture outside their "dwelling places" when darkness falls and 'They' arrive. Whether this is a case of Our Angels Are Different or Our Demons Are Different is not explicitly mentioned, therefore left open to interpretation. If anything, sunrise ironically comes first, and hoo boy the damned don't like that one bit.
  • Great Expectations: Miss Havisham was jilted on her wedding day and spent the rest of her life shut up in her mansion, still wearing her wedding dress, as the house decays around her.
  • In House of Leaves, Johnny Truant becomes one, after working on The Navidson Record for a while. It has an unhealthy effect on any reader's sanity... including yours, dear reader.
  • The Once-ler from Dr. Seuss's The Lorax is most definitely this, although he does tell his story for a small fee.
  • In A Macabre Myth of a Moth-Man, Ozzy is agoraphobic and refuses to leave the home he set up after escaping the lab. He monitors the world through a TV he rigged up, and has Moth-Man run various favors for him. Brett also stayed indoors quite a lot before dating Nina, because of a skin condition that made him sunburn very easily. After he discovered being out in the sun caused him to contract Melanoma, he stayed inside to such an extreme that his friends became very worried.
  • This is the lifestyle of choice for Spacers of Solaria in Isaac Asimov's The Naked Sun. Each Solarian inhabits his or her own nation-sized 'estate' physically remote from their fellows. Husbands and wives share estates but have separate quarters and meet only on rare and uncomfortable occasions. All this is enabled by highly advanced holographic communications and innumerable robots.
  • Nero Wolfe, the Great Detective in the series of mysteries by Rex Stout, is one of the self-imposed variants. He absolutely refuses to leave his luxurious Manhattan brownstone on business and is reluctant to leave it at other times if he doesn't have to, and usually only ever leaves if extreme circumstances demand it. It's downplayed, however; contrary to the popular impression he's not especially agoraphobic (at least, not in the "panics at being outdoors" sense it's commonly understood as since several of his other issues would technically fall under that banner), and can leave the house if necessary or if he chooses to. He's simply a homebody who prefers not to since he has everything he could want inside his house.
  • The Millenium saga, by Stieg Larrson, has a recurring secondary hikikomori character with the class-A hacker Plague, who suffers from social seclusion at a point that he is officially recognized as "socially incompetent" by the State and given a disability allowance.
  • Except to purchase food (and the next copy of Misery's romantic escapades, of course), Annie from Stephen King's Misery rarely if ever leaves her secluded cabin.
  • Two of the top five players in OASIS are directly described as being this in Ready Player One. It takes one of them getting killed by the Corrupt Corporate Executive to get the other to leave his home and find safety.
  • The Reformed Vampire Support Group: Most vampires end up this way. Most ordinary people think of vampires as the deadly predators they're portrayed as in the media. However, in reality, vampirism is a debilitating and unpleasant disease — which means that someone acting out a heroic fantasy of slaying evil vampires is really dangerous, and the safest way to prevent that is to prevent anyone from learning that vampires are real.
  • Victoria Victrix from the Secret World Chronicles by Mercedes Lackey became one of these through a combination of being betrayed by a lover and set on fire by a crazy relative. Her writing career allowed her to make a living without needing to leave her apartment for anything other than the horrifically stressful ordeal of grocery shopping, which she has to steel herself to perform for days and does as early in the morning as possible so that she doesn't have to encounter many people. She starts opening up more after becoming a superheroine, but her duties to her team are still arranged so she can perform them without leaving home, and her idea of hanging out with her teammates is to send an elemental to the bar where the others are hanging out to pick up drinks while she chats with them over the radio.
  • Belamy in Skate the Thief mostly putters around his upstairs rooms, never leaves the house, and rarely has visitors. This isolation is what makes him a prime target for Skate's burglary at the beginning of the book.
  • Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note: Nanaki is this in the beginning due to the application of On One Condition — he's required to stay in his family mansion until 20 as a condition of inheriting the family estate. Unlike most examples of this trope, he doesn't see it as too much of an issue, despite The Team found the whole idea appalling. Rendered moot eventually due to the bankruptcy of his father.
  • The Twilight Saga: Bella Swan falls into a deep depression and loses the will to leave the house in New Moon after Edward moves away to protect her.
  • In the backstory of Unnatural Issue, Richard Whitestone spends the bulk of his widowerhood in his chambers and library on the second floor of his country manor. He would have remained comparatively harmlessnote  had he not gotten fixated on bringing his wife back.
  • Jack Peter from The Boy Who Drew Monsters has severe agoraphobia after almost drowning when he was seven, and now he only leaves the house for doctor's appointments. His father wraps him tightly in a stadium blanket on the way to and from the car.
  • The Evolution of Emily: Emily's mom is severely anxious and agoraphobic. She'll occasionally venture outside if she's medicated, but mostly she stays in. Olivia isn't allowed off the property unless she's supervised by either Emily or their dad, so now that Emily is in public school, Olivia is more isolated than ever.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: In the episode "Gavin Volure", the eponymous character (played by Steve Martin) fakes being this trope. It turns out he's actually a white-collar criminal under house arrest.
  • Barney Miller: In "The Recluse", Wojo arrests a man after the man's landlord complains of non-payment of rent. The man hadn't left his apartment for 35 years; shortly after coming to the precinct, he dies.
  • Better Call Saul: Jimmy McGill's brother Chuck suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, and at the beginning of the show, he is revealed to have been a complete shut-in for years, aided by his assistant Ernesto. At the beginning of the show, his house is merely devoid of technology and he wraps himself in a tinfoil blanket. Throughout, he ventures outside a few times but sometimes falls back harder. Near the end of season 2, he converted his living room into a Faraday cage.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "Threshold of Fear", Jessica investigates a mystery involving her agoraphobic neighbor who has not left her apartment in 5 years.
  • Seinfeld: In the pilot (but not the series) Kramer is said to never leave the building.
  • Sherlock: Mycroft Holmes is portrayed as a morbidly obese shut-in who was barely able to move in The Abominable Bride.
  • Star Trek: In the Star Trek franchise, including the Expanded Universe, most emergency holographic personnel cannot leave whatever room they are designed to serve. This was the Emergency Medical Hologram's fate in Star Trek: Voyager, though later on an EMH Mk II was able to roam a prototype ship in the Alpha Quadrant, the Prometheus. Mobile emitters like The Doctor's grant holographic personnel true freedom.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "Nothing in the Dark", having once seen Mr. Death kill an old woman on the bus, Wanda Dunn has not left her apartment in many years out of fear that she will be next. Death has to resort to tricking her by pretending that he is an injured police officer named Harold Beldon who needs her help.
    • In "Night Call", Miss Elva Keene spends most of her life in bed or in her wheelchair, trying to pass the time and waiting for something out of the ordinary to happen. Her only regular visitor is her nurse Margaret Phillips and, outside of bills and advertisements, the only mail that she receives is an occasional letter from her sister. She is desperately lonely and feels as if no one cares about her.
  • Curtis from the Canadian series Twitch City can be interpreted as a Western example. He's an agoraphobic Canadian TV otaku who never leaves his Toronto apartment if he can possibly help it.
  • Monk:
    • The title character, Detective Adrian Monk, was a complete shut-in immediately after his wife's death. The canon story was that while he was always a neurotic freak, Trudy Monk was the one person who helped him keep his anxieties at bay and function normally. Once she died, he had a Heroic BSoD and shut himself up in his San Francisco home, not leaving for three years straight. It isn't until the arrival of his nurse Sharona that he starts transitioning back into society — well, transitioning as best as Mr. Monk can. Even as the series progresses, Mr. Monk is still getting used to simple things like going outside.
    • Later on it's revealed that his brother Ambrose has the same condition, though Ambrose hasn't gotten over his. He's eventually forced outside by Monk because his house was on fire.
  • In K9, Professor Gryffen becomes this after having accidentally killed his wife and children in a science experiment. He manages to overcome this in Eclipse of the Korven at the end of season one.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Played for Laughs in the episode "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification." Sheldon becomes obsessed with extending his life expectancy. Deciding that the outside world is too dangerous, he shuts himself in his room and builds a remote-controlled "Mobile Virtual Presence Device," equipped with a monitor, camera, and speakers so that he can interact with others.
    • Penny also becomes one in "The Barbarian Sublimation" when Sheldon introduces her to online gaming. She becomes a video game addict playing Age of Conan all day (skipping work, eating nothing but Cheetos, staying in her room the whole time except to break into Sheldon's room to ask him for help) all to escape the harsh reality of her life as she accomplished nothing in her acting career.
  • One episode of Wonderfalls concerns a morbidly obese man who hasn't left his trailer for a very long time. It turns out that he actually isn't morbidly obese anymore, but he still sees himself as fat. At one point, the protagonist Jaye admits to him that a part of her envies the Hikikomori lifestyle and that she'd be tempted to try it if she thought her family would leave her alone.
  • Twin Peaks has Harold Smith, whose secluded nature is due to agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces).
  • An episode of The Pretender had Jarod helping a woman who had not left her home since being raped a second time. This was actually intentional on the rapist's part, as the second rapist was actually the first rapist, who attacked her again because she had been recovering from the first assault.
  • Stephen Kepler in Dollhouse is this, or so it would seem...
  • Dorothy has a run-in with one in an episode of The Golden Girls when she's helping Sophia with Meals on Wheels. Martin Mull plays a hikikomori who hasn't left his apartment since the '60s because it's "just too hard out there".
  • Mollwitz in Fame. He's 38 and living with his mother, who doesn't allow him to talk to women. He has an office job but refuses to actually do work or talk to people.
  • In one episode of Law & Order: SVU, the Victim of the Week was a woman who had been raped several times in her life and in particular was being stalked by her rapist as well, and as a result, she almost never leaves her house. She has a neighbor pick up groceries for her and works from home (only stopping by the office once a week to deliver paperwork).
  • In Wizards vs. Aliens, the hobgoblin Randal Moon is the guardian of the family's magical Pocket Dimension and has not left in 500 years, in order to keep it from "sliding back into the Neverside." The task seems to have given him a certain degree of agoraphobia.
    "The is being so vast! Perhaps Randal Moon should be staying indoors after all."
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "What Will the Neighbors Think?", Mona Bailey has not left the Clackson Arms, the apartment building where she has lived for her entire life, in six months as she is a severe hypochondriac.
  • St. Elsewhere:
    • While doing the residency program's mandated community service in "To Tell the Truth", Fiscus encounters two elderly shut-ins: Sophia Pavlon, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a debilitating stroke, and Harry Cragen, who has barely left his house since the death of his beloved wife Helen almost a year and a half earlier. After Dr. Westphall tells him that everyone needs a purpose and something to live for in their lives, Fiscus introduces Sophia and Harry. After a rough start, the two of them hit it off and it is implied that a December–December Romance will ensue.
    • In "A Room with a View", an elderly shut-in named Amy Jeffries has observed the goings-on at St. Eligius, which is across the street from her apartment, since the 1960s. As she does not know any of their names, she gives the staff and patients at the hospital nicknames: Dr. Craig is Dr. Little Big Man, Dr. Auschlander is Dr. Kindly Grandfather, and the heart surgery patient Margaret Kimbrough as Miss Yellow Nightgown. When she sees Craig packing to leave, Amy becomes extremely upset as she is particularly fond of him. She calls the hospital to find out his name and leaves numerous messages for him. Craig eventually visits her apartment and it becomes clear that the St. Eligius staff are the closest thing that she has to friends. In "A Coupla White Dummies Sitting Around Talking", Amy is admitted to the hospital with a broken hip and meets several of her "friends" for the first time. Ten days after her operation, Dr. Gideon insists that she be discharged and sent to a convalescent home. However, Dr. Kiem takes pity on Amy, who is desperately lonely. She begins an adoptive grandparent program at the hospital with Amy as the first volunteer.
  • The Victim of the Week in a Without a Trace episode is agoraphobic. The agents fear she's met with foul play as she hasn't even left her apartment in years and probably wouldn't be gone for long even if she had finally worked up the nerve to leave.
  • Game On gives us Matthew, who has rarely left his flat since the death of his parents in a car crash. The few times he has to go out, he usually suffers a panic attack. The characters do try to get him out (although it usually never sticks), before he is told that he is suffering from PTSD and encouraged to go out in a bid to improve in the last episode, leading to him making it to Mandy's ill-fated wedding.
  • Truth Seekers: Helen has intense anxiety around crowds and public places, to the extent that she has entered the cosplay contest at Conventry Collectibles and Cosplay Convention 5 years running but has been unable to leave the car to attend. This is revealed to be a psychological reaction to being emotionally neglected due to her parents being absorbed with the negative press attention around her brother being 'The Hinckley Boy'.
  • Madge from The Trouble With You Lilian seemingly has a fear of the outside world, notably, she doesn't like the idea of other people being able to contact her via the telephone in "Fault on the Line", she warns Lilian of the threats of the laundrette and the people who go there in "The Long Wash", and deciding to go on a holiday is seen as a big step for her to take in "Long Way to Go".

  • In the Pink Floyd album The Wall, the main character Pink shuts himself in his hotel room halfway through the album upon completing his personal wall. Although this is darkly subverted when his manager literally breaks down the door to force him to perform that night, causing him to crack and lose what little sanity he had left and become even worse.
  • The Simon & Garfunkel song "I Am A Rock" is basically the Hikikomori theme song.
  • Entertainment for the Braindead portrays herself this way in some of her song lyrics. In "Resolution" she has to resolve to "leave the house at least once a day", and in "Relapse" she says, "I don't plan on leaving the house this year / If by then you still remember me, you'll find me here".
  • The song Flowers On The Wall is apparently about someone who is afraid to come out of his room.
  • "Isolated" by Chiasm is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Alison Moyet: "Invisible", which reflected her real-life situation for many years.
  • The video to Kim Wilde's Kids in America is about an agoraphobe, despite the song's lyrics.
  • Oingo Boingo's song "Private Life" is about a man who wants someone to save him from his room, his lack of friends, and his Porn Stash.
  • The Pub Rock song "Who Can It Be Now?" by Men At Work. When getting a knock on his door, the singer makes excuses as to why he shouldn't answer or actively sneaks around to make others think he's not home. He caresses his "childhood friend" (a guitar amplifier) while insisting that his mental health is fine.
  • Daniel Amos's "My Room" (from ¡Alarma!) is about a man who locks himself in his room, except for one day a week when he locks himself in a bigger room with other shut-ins. The song is a satire of Christians who don't socialize with anyone outside their church.
  • Warren Zevon's Splendid Isolation is about a person who wants to avoid human contact to the point that they eventually put tinfoil over their apartment's windows to keep everyone out.
  • "Introvert's Anthem" by Robots With Rayguns and Cazwell.
  • The Jet Set Radio-inspired album Memories From Tokyo-to has "24 Hour Party People" in which the protagonist laments how his lifestyle contrasts from the party animals that encourage him to be more like them when he'd rather just be himself and stay at home.

    Newspaper Comics 

  • RENT: Between Collins' departure and the "one magic night" Roger has barely left his house if at all.
  • In the third scene of Vanities, Kathy has holed up in an unidentified friend's apartment after a nervous breakdown due to her obsession with "an organized life". She copes with it by reading all the books she was assigned but never read in college, which leads her to become a novelist in the final scene of The Musical.
  • Johanna Barker from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is kept a prisoner in her own home by her tyrannical guardian Judge Turpin, who wants to shield her from the outside world and all its iniquities and has also come to desire her as more than a daughter (her having more than a passing resemblance to her mother Lucy Barker, who he had a serious lust for, did not help things at all).

    Video Games 
  • Nana, the protagonist's sister from Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed, is a downplayed example. She lives in the back room of the game bar MOGRA and is described as a shut-in, but does leave the bar on occasion (usually escorted by her brother). It's later revealed that her agoraphobia is the result of a falling out with her two best friends, which was actually a misunderstanding.
  • Richard Robbins of Another Code went into isolation for almost eleven years after the death of his wife in order to finish her memory research. He's a little behind on society when he reintegrates into it for the sequel, but otherwise seems to be alright.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has Michael Angelo, a former Vault Dweller whose experience growing up in a cramped underground environment has given him crippling agoraphobia. Unfortunately, this means that as the designer of neon signs, it means that he's unable to go out to get inspiration and thus tasks the player with taking pictures of various landmarks for him.
  • Bugsnax: Snorpy is introduced to the player refusing to leave his house until Chandlo forces him to; his bio lists "the indoors" as one of his favourite things. In his case, it's mostly due to his paranoia; when he is driven from his house for a minute, he starts complaining about chemtrails.
    Snorpy: (on the Snakgrappler) I built it so that I could help Chandlo with his basketballing problem. But I forgot that meant going outside, so you do it.

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Enforced with Betty. The residents of her universe didn't like anyone being around her, because they didn't want to risk her finding out about Melinda and breaking her seal. This made her bitter and hate everyone around her, and why only the words of an outsider would mean anything to her.
  • RWBY: In the Remnant fairy tale The Story of the Seasons, the Old Wizard has lived as a hermit in a forest for centuries. Not only does he receive no visitors, he won't even step outside his front door. When the four sisters begin visiting him to try and improve his life, he either communicates with them through a window, or allows them inside, but never leaves the house himself. It's the third sister, Summer, who is finally able to coax him outside and begin enjoying life away from the cottage. The fairy tale is a true story about the origin of the Four Maidens, whose powers the villains are trying to steal. The Old Wizard is a previous incarnation of Ozpin, who at the time was deeply traumatised by tragedy. The four sisters helped him begin the healing process.

  • Jack (David Hopkins): Used very nastily in the story arc "Two For You". A loser is offered what looks like a sweet deal — free room and board in a premium-luxury apartment as an advertising promotion, "So well cared for that you'll never have to leave this apartment again!" Of course there's a catch: he's unwittingly sold his soul in exchange for a "Matrix"-type illusion, and then he loses even that.
  • Not usually, but when her friends are absent for a while, Jodie from Loserz becomes this and spends so much time in her room that she's startled by the wind.
  • In Questionable Content
    • Marigold starts out as a recluse obsessed with anime (especially hentai) and World of Warcraft, who works on a family company website from home and almost never leaves her apartment. Once she's introduced to the other characters, she starts to get out more.
    • Hannelore's backstory is an extreme example. She suffers from some very severe OCD and grew up on a space station as a nervous wreck, drugged into insensibility half the time and incapable of surviving without constant supervision. By her first appearance in the comic, she had learned to manage her condition enough to get out and socialize, and continues to grow more comfortable in company. When she visits the station and is finally able to hug her father without freaking out from human contact, everyone present who knew her only as a child is shocked.
    • Bubbles is a retired combat android who lives at her workplace and almost never goes outside, thanks in large part to crippling self-consciousness about being seen by people. Faye takes it upon herself to bring Bubbles out of her shell, with some success.
  • Dr. Schlock from Sluggy Freelance has been devolving into a shut-in after taking charge of Hereti corp, often using video conferencing or inflatable decoys to communicate with people while staying locked in his office. His growing list of enemies and setbacks is not being kind to his sanity.
  • Rob, a side character in Ménage à 3, lives in the same building as the protagonists, and apparently hasn't left his apartment since the '80s.
  • Tower of God: Jaina Repelista Jahad is one of the Princesses of Jahad, but ever since she got that sweet lighthouse she never left her room, spending her days spying on the tower and playing video games like Skyrim.
  • Cadis Etrama Di Raizel from Noblesse used to be this. He would never leave his mansion unless personally summoned by the Lord of Lukedonia.
  • Malaya from How to be a Werewolf is a downplayed and justified example. Between how werewolves are most comfortable in their own territory in general and Malaya's absolute terror at the prospect of harming anyone if she loses control (again) in particular, she only leaves the house she lives in with her parents to work at her father's coffee shop.

    Web Original 
  • Critical Role: Marion Lavorre, Jester's mother, lives in the Lavish Chateau, where she also works as a performer and sex worker, and never leaves. She is eventually revealed to be severely agoraphobic, to the point that stepping out onto the street to kiss Jester goodbye is already a massive hurdle. When Trent Ikithon's people start mobilizing to abduct her and the Brennatos to torment the Mighty Nein, she is abruptly forced to leave the Chateau, causing her to have a panic attack so severe Caduceus has to use a Calm Emotions spell to keep her from fainting. She almost has another panic attack the next day when the route to the safehouse takes the group through central Zadash, and walks the whole way there with her eyes closed, clinging to Fjord's arm.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: Brian has to do community service for a DUI, so he's made to be a home health aide, to a grouchy and mean elderly woman named Pearl. Though they originally hate each other, Brian eventually finds out Pearl was a great singer who became famous for jingles, was booed when she tried to do opera and hasn't left her house in years. Brian falls in love with her, and sings an Emmy Award-winning song to her, convincing her to leave her house — and she's immediately hit by a truck.
  • Gravity Falls: In the episode "A Tale of Two Stans", it's revealed that Stan refused to leave his brother's house for several days after he inadvertently shoved him into an interdimensional portal until he ran out of food. When he went to buy food from a nearby store, the people there gave him the idea to impersonate his brother in order to make some desperately-needed cash by inviting them to the Mystery Shack, thus averting this trope.
  • Kim Possible: Wade, a genius hacker who occasionally helps the main characters, never left his house during the majority of the series. He was only seen outside in late season 3 and season 4, and no reason for his prior status was ever given.
  • King of the Hill: A one-off King of the Hill gag featured a ghoulish looking kid who is homeschooled and never leaves the house, being plastered to his computer while awake.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In one episode, Piglet is too afraid to leave his house after getting carried away by the wind during a storm. The others try to get him to come outside again, but it takes Pooh getting caught in another storm for Piglet to snap out of it and go save his friend.
  • The PJs: Juicy's parents can't leave their apartment because they're too obese to go through the door. His dad eventually does leave the apartment, though, in a later episode.
  • Steven Universe: "Legs From Here to Homeworld" reveals that White Diamond hasn't left Homeworld in eons. She finally leaves her own head at the end of "Change Your Mind".

    Real Life 
  • The Collyer brothers were compulsive hoarders who eventually gained fame. This fame led them to shut themselves in their houses until the first died in a freak accident, causing the second, dependent on his brother, to starve to death.
  • Howard Hughes shut himself inside his Desert Inn suite for long periods of time. He purchased the Desert Inn writ large, along with a number of other casino hotels for often trite reasons...such as to remove a neon sign that shone through his drapes. After his nine-year stay in said suite, his drapes were found to be rotten and never opened.
  • In 1874, the beautiful 25-year-old socialite Blanche Monnier had many suitors but decided to marry "a penniless lawyer", against the wishes of her family. Her mother, angered at Blanche's defiance, kept her locked up in a room for 25 years, surrounded by filth, without sunshine, weighing barely 25 kg, "lying completely naked on a rotten straw mattress". Adding insult to injury, the imprisonment began on her 26th birthday. It was only thanks to an anonymous tip that she was rescued, and even the officials had to leave the room shortly after they entered it because the atmosphere was so vile and rank. Her mother and brother went about their daily lives, pretending to mourn her disappearance. After her rescue, Blanche continued to suffer from mental health problems (anorexia nervosa, schizophrenia, exhibitionism, and coprophilia) and died in a mental hospital at the age of 61. Her lawyer lover had died suddenly in 1885.
  • The most well-known modern-day case of a "feral child", Genie, was kept in isolation similarly to Blanche Monnier. Her isolation, abuse, and neglect started when she was 20 months old until she was 13.
  • Prince Harry revealed in his memoir Spare that aside from the occasional official event, he was like this for roughly a year between 2015—2016. Although he never mentions a specific diagnosis, this and several other feelings he described strongly imply that he was suffering from depression.


Video Example(s):


Assassin shut-in

Are you surprised that Rei's a shut-in when he's not killing his assigned targets in the field?

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Main / TheShutIn

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