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The War Room

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"He'll see The Big Board!"

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"
President Merkin Muffley, Dr. Strangelove

Take The Bridge off the Cool Ship, and put it in The White House or an Elaborate Underground Base, and what you get is The War Room. It's the nerve center for an entire country, criminal organization, secret society, hidden military base, or whatnot. It generally comes in one or a combo of the following three flavors:

  1. A dark, cavernous room filled with rows and rows of consoles with monitors, radar scopes, Big Boards and other sorts of technology, staffed by an entire warren of Bridge Bunnies.
  2. A dark and not-quite-so-cavernous boardroom, with a long central table with chairs around it, lit by a spotlight. If located in a Supervillain Lair, the seats around the table (except for the head one) may have trap doors under them to dispose of those who fail or otherwise displease the boss.
  3. A, once again, dark room with a large, circular table in the middle, a la Dr. Strangelove.

Every version will prominently feature an enormous monitor that fills one entire wall. If The War Room is on Earth, the monitor will generally display a map of the world, marked up with real-time data about the organization's activities or serving as a Spreading Disaster Map Graphic. A large number of clocks above the big map, displaying time in different cities around the globe, is optional. All of this serves to keep the leadership (and the viewer behind the fourth wall) well-informed of the big picture.

Cue the ominous marching music as the leader sits down and listens while the underlings brief him on the situation. You can usually expect all the attendees in The War Room to be remarkably well informed of any relevant details and be able to instantly provide up-to-the-second intelligence when the senior person starts asking questions. Expect the meeting deciding fate of the 178 people in the Hostage Situation or how to take out the Big Bad's Doomsday Device to be concluded in less than five minutes.

The Invisible President, the Supporting Leader, The Brigadier and the Big Bad (all may or may not be part of The Omniscient Council of Vagueness) tend to spend a lot of time in rooms like these. Mission Control is invariably based here. If it's for the good guys, expect a lot of cheering coupled with a circular camera pan when The Hero reports his success.

Many naval vessels have a "ward room", the officer's mess, which is often misheard as the War Room. Here, the "war room" proper would be the Combat Information Center, or CIC.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Mazinger Z: Both the personnel of the Photon Atomic Power Research Institute and Dr. Hell's troops had war rooms. The Institute's one was relatively small and it had large maps on a central table. Dr. Hell's was located in his throne room.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: It showed up as soon as the first episode. It was a large circular room with a big round central table surrounded by chairs, and huge world maps on the table and on monitors attached to the walls.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Central Dogma, the NERV command center.
  • The student council room in Best Student Council.
  • The NASA control center at Cape Canaveral in Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl
  • Dornkirk's throne room in The Vision of Escaflowne.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: The Moriarty crew has a room in the basement of the London Moriarty manor in which to keep the tools of their murderous trade and William's plans for their crimes, as well as to discuss and brief William's crew on the details of the newest plot (although sometimes they simply do this in the living room as well). In "The Tea Party" chapter, Von Herder is stationed there to guard it and its secrets with deadly force if necessary, and its existence is why the Moriartys work so devotedly to keep people out of their home and hire no outside servants.

    Fan Works 
  • Evangelion 303: The Senate committee overseeing the Black Project Evangelion has a war room of the "dark, large, with a central table and a row of seats surrounding it" kind.
  • Along Came a Spider provides a type 1 war room in Fort Asgard for Nondi Steiner and Ardan Sortek to brood over strategic decisions.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami builds herself a command centre designed to work around the limitations of a Keeper's usual spell selection. She uses a team of warlocks to scry on the battlefield, receiving their information via Scavenger Room messages, and replying by having an imp write messages. It's a bit cobbled together, but it works, and gives her a significant tactical advantage over her rivals.
  • HERZ: HERZ's Home Base -the organization the main characters work for- has one where the cast often holds meetings and reunions.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage: Season 2 reveals that Vaati has one in the Palace of the Winds, being a large room containing a large table with a map of Hyrule inlaid on its surface (which he upgrades to one of Equestria).
  • Fallout: Equestria - Occupational Hazards: Being based on the NORAD Chyenne Mountain Complex, the EQUAD facility has one of its own, complete with a Big Board. As one of the authors has an obvious fascination with Dr. Strangelove, this should come as no surprise.
    • The sequel Fallout: Equestria - Empty Quiver features even more, as while the EQUAD War Room is mentioned in an early chapter, it's later revealed that there's also a smaller War Room at the Vanhoover Air Base, as well as at Fort Maple. In both of the latter cases, people have to be reminded they can't fight in there.
  • Every state in Davion & Davion (Deceased) can be assumed to have several. Kerensky has one on his flagship and John Davion has one buried deep under Mount Davion.

    Film — Animated 
  • Monsters vs. Aliens has security where you need your tongue, both elbows, feet and your rear-end scanned just to get in.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Ur-example: Dr. Strangelove, from which the above quote comes. A huge, elaborate set designed by Ken Adam.
  • The movie Fail Safe, like its sparring partner Dr. Strangelove, is largely set in a cavernous underground war room where the characters receive constant reports on the possibility of impending nuclear war. While likely done largely for budget reasons, it's effective at getting the audience into the same mindset as the characters, some of whom begin to conceive of the whole thing as an elaborate puzzle or exercise, forgetting the staggering human costs at stake. Until the series of Wham Shots that end the movie, which suddenly remind the viewer of the human lives that are about to be lost in the limited nuclear exchange that follows.
  • Pier 24 in San Francisco from The Rock was the location of a mobile FBI War Room. The equipment and staffers were brought in on trucks.
  • ATAC in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory was the War Room for the orbital particle-beam cannon.
  • In the movie WarGames a set is built to represent NORAD's War Room. Much larger and more impressive than the real thing. But for some reason, the NORAD war room you see in the movies never has any Canadians present, even though it's the North American Air Defence alliance.
  • In Star Wars, the Rebel Alliance keeps multiple War Rooms — one on Yavin IV, one on Hoth, and one aboard Home One, as well as others we don't get to see. The Jedi council chamber might also qualify, even though matters of war are not the only thing discussed there.
  • Nixon's War Room in the Watchmen movie is based on Dr. Strangelove's.
  • Averted in the 2008 spy film Body of Lies.
    "No it's just me and you...what, did you think there would be some kind of war room and people running about with clipboards?"
  • Octopussy included a rare example of a Soviet War Room.
  • The National Military Command Center (NMCC) inside The Pentagon, as featured in The Sum of All Fears is a direct subversion to this trope. The movies's director, Phil Alden Robinson, says in the commentary that when he visited the real thing during pre-production he was so underwhelmed by what he saw, a sterile and boring office landscape, and liked it in a good way because it was so contrary to the typical Hollywood portrayal. Tom Clancy also liked it due to the authenticity it brought.
  • Independence Day features two. One is aboard Air Force One, where Whitmore, Grey, and Nimzicki observe the initial counterattack. Later, the control room of Area 51 is converted into one as they process all information on the rapidly losing fight.
  • The Admiralty War Room, an underground bunker where the Operations Division strives to Sink the Bismarck! Captain Shepard is shown entering the bunker at the start of the movie and leaving it at the end with a pretty WREN he's invited to dinner, only to find it's broad daylight outside.
    Sailor: These boys worry me. Four strips on his arm and he doesn't even know what time of the day it is.
  • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, John Connor and Kate Brewster are sent to Cold War-era war room bunker in order to survive Judgment Day.

  • When Jake first meets General Doubleday in Animorphs. Jake notes that it seems an awful like what you'd see in a movie; old guys chomping cigars, guys in suits and a big map (that has his hometown crossed out, presumably because it isn't there any more).
  • The navies in the Lensman series have entire ships devoted to being The War Room. They have no weapons, but do have strong defences, large tank-like displays showing the deployment of the fleet, and crowds of staff set up to communicate with individual sub-fleets and squadrons.
  • Both the good guys and bad guys have meeting rooms in Invasion of Kzarch, and a considerable part of the story is focused on what both groups are doing in them.
  • In the Discworld novel Jingo, Lord Rust turns the Rats Chamber (the council room in the Patrician's Palace) into one. The meeting table has been covered in sand to form a kind of map, and since everyone knows Klatch is all desert, Lord Rust assumes it's a good one. Once they actually arrive in Klatch, he uses a big tent for the same purpose.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • Ur-example, type 1: the real-life Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center (CMOC) command and control complex in Colorado, and its counterparts in Stargate SG-1 and Jeremiah.
    • Home of NORAD. However, Reality Is Unrealistic and the real Command Center is much smaller than in the movies. When most shows and films were made it was even less impressive than it is today. Here is what it looks like today.
    • NORAD itself was based off of the earlier SAGE air defense system which in the 1950's was pure science fiction. Each SAGE center had a two story Sector Control Room with real time vector graphic interactive computer display terminals and a large display scree where the brass could watch the fight against the Soviet bombers in near real time.
    • SAGE was in turn based off of the British sector stations and Group Operations Control Rooms used as part of the air defense network in the Battle of Britain.

By Series:

  • CTU Los Angeles in 24, as well as various enclaves, retreats, and bunkers employed by the various presidents depicted on the show.
  • Mount Weather from The 100 has a control room that monitors and controls the entire mountain, from communications to defense systems to life support.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Zephyr One, the Cool Plane that the SHIELD team starts using in Season 3, has its own CIC, for when it's acting as a mobile base.
  • Babylon 5: As the Shadow War looms, the Army of Light builds a war room aboard the station. With a large map of the galaxy, monitors that can provide real-time feeds of battles in progress as well as analyze intelligence, this is where many of the major decisions that determine the course of the war are made.
  • Daredevil (2015): The penthouse that Wilson Fisk manipulates the FBI into moving him to upon his release from prison contains a secret stairway from the bedroom down to a war room. From here, he has a bank of monitors that he can use to tap into security cameras anywhere in New York City. In episode 4, it is from this room that he watches over monitors as inmates on his payroll attempt to kill Matt in an orchestrated riot. Later in the season, he regularly conducts meetings with Felix Manning in this room, and at the end of the season, it's the sight of the event that proves to be his undoing, Vanessa ordering Ray Nadeem to be murdered.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Game of Thrones: High lords typically have a war room in their castles or in the field where they plan their next move around an elaborate big board. The most frequently-featured one is the war room on Dragonstone (first used by Stannis, then Daenerys) with its huge table map of Westeros, which was built by Aegon the Conqueror before he invaded the continent three centuries earlier.
    • In Season 7, Cersei has the floor of a courtyard in the Red Keep painted into a map of Westeros, in order to better plan the upcoming war with her various enemies.
  • The JAG episode "In Country" is an aversion to this trope as it features a fairly mundane looking National Military Command Center in The Pentagon.
  • The Man in the High Castle: The Nazi leadership has a command bunker in Berlin to oversee their global strategic forces and nuclear arsenal in a room very reminiscent of the War Room from Dr. Strangelove.
  • The equivalent on NCIS is MTAC, which looks vaguely like a converted movie theater (and was even used that way once, courtesy of Tony DiNozzo).
  • Person of Interest. Root has a rare Oh, Crap! moment when she's snooping around the restricted floor of a mental hospital, peeks in a window and sees Greer standing in front of an enormous computer screen showing Team Samaritan's worldwide operations. She's just stumbled into their secret headquarters.
  • Star Trek:
  • The main area of the Torchwood Hub.
  • UFO (1970): SHADO's art deco war room is located underneath a film studio.
  • The White House Situation Room in The West Wing and other series set there, which is usually considerably bigger and more dramatically lit than the real life version.


    Tabletop Games 
  • One variation of Paranoia lets the PCs play High Programmers, who occasionally get summoned to a Situation Room to coordinate Alpha Complex's response to an emergency.

  • In Pippin, Charlemagne uses a map and a Patter Song to show his soldiers the tactics they will use the next day's battle against the Visigoth army.

    Video Games 
  • Call of Duty 4 features a level called "No Fighting in the War Room," where lots of fighting takes place.
  • The Inquisition of Dragon Age: Inquisition has one of these, which mostly consists of a small room with a large table in the middle that they use to plan battles and missions.
  • A war room is one of the many constructable buildings in Dragon Quest Builders 2. The player is required to make one during the Moonbrooke chapter, and NPCs entering it will generate Gratitude Points.
  • Evil Genius has a control room, which looks and acts like a war room. Except you dispatch mooks instead of conquering territories. It also has Inner Sanctum with Type 2 conference table.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Maleficent and her Disney villain allies had a war room in their HQ in Hollow Bastion. There they kept a close eye on Sora through a hologram, while thinking out strategies on how to find the Princessess of Hearts or how to conquer the worlds around the universe. The fighting in the war room happens when Sora, Donald, Goofy and their new ally Beast took down Maleficent.
    • Her original castle at Villain's Vale had one too, but we never see it occupied by more than two people.
    • The Organization XIII has their own war room in Castle That Never Was, which is completely white with extremely tall chairs standing in a circle. There they discuss their plans, figuring out their next move or commenting on the several setbacks Sora inflicts on them.
    • Merlin's house is basically the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee's war room. There they also discuss strategies on how to combat the MCP, the Heartless and the Nobodies and on how to rebuild Hollow Bastion to its former glory. They share information with Sora, Donald and Goofy from there. It's also from there Cid that control Hollow Bastion's defence system called Claymores.
    • Hades has his own personal war room in his chamber, with a Cosmic Chess Game board lifted directly from his movie.
  • In the Knights of the Old Republic series, the central compartment of the Ebon Hawk serves as this.
  • Both Normandys of Mass Effect have these instead of the normal design. The SR1's is more of a Communication room that your crew uses as a meeting place. The SR2 has a more classic design, with a large table in the center, though the view-screen in replaced with a nifty holographic display.
    • The revamped Normandy SR-2 in Mass Effect 3 has a full-fledged War Room with the actual name as it's where the war against the Reapers is being planned out and directed. It has another nifty holographic display that displays the progress of the Crucible superweapon and a console that shows your War Assets and how ready you are for the final battle. The table from Mass Effect 2 is still present, but now it's shifted to a side room and used only for negotiations.
  • Crossroad Keep in Neverwinter Nights 2 has one in the west wing of the castle.
  • In the Sam & Max Save the World episode Abe Lincoln Must Die, the War Room in the White House serves three purposes: drink coffee, eat cookies, and launch missiles.
  • In Team Fortress 2, most maps have War Rooms visible through windows near your team's spawn point, which assist in giving the game its Spy Fiction feel.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
    • Mission Control serves this purpose, not to be confused with Central Officer Bradford, who serves as your Mission Control during missions. It's a big, otherwise dark chamber whose main feature is a glowing holographic representation of the Earth - sometimes called the Geoscape as a throwback to the original game - that tracks alien activity, XCOM assets, the state of XCOM's member nations, and ongoing research and construction projects. A separate, adjacent Situation Room hosts The Big Board that offers additional information about XCOM's finances, requests from the Council of Nations, a news ticker showing the state of the war, and the all-important "Doom Tracker" showing how close XCOM is to shutting down due to lack of support.
    • In the Enemy Within expansion, after you identify and attack EXALT's secret headquarters, you'll discover they have an Evil Counterpart Mission Control featuring a big red holographic globe (contrasting XCOM's blue). Because Evil Pays Better, they also have wooden flooring, oriental rugs, animal hides, and a big plush armchair in front of the globe where their leader (escaped before you got there) presumably contemplated nefarious deeds. Also, the whole thing is a skyscraper penthouse.
  • Featured in Xenonauts on the splash screen. It is also represented by the Command Center during base defense missions, being the only room that absolutely needs to be defended no matter what, or the base is lost.


    Web Video 
  • World War II: The set is dressed to look like one with host Indy Neidell's desk littered with telephones and books and a map pinned to the wall.

    Western Animation 
  • The Hall of Justice from Superfriends.
  • The Watchtower space station has one on Justice League.
  • WOOHP Headquarters in Totally Spies!
  • The Fire Nation war room of Avatar: The Last Airbender is only shown in flashbacks in two episodes, but they provide information vital to the plot: the reason why Zuko got his scar, and Firelord Ozai's plans for the Grand Finale.
  • Animaniacs: Parodied in an episode where the Warners get pulled to Camelot to deal with a dragon that's causing havoc across the kingdom. Yakko calls his siblings to the War Room, then asks King Arthur where the War Room is. When Arthur says they don't have one, Wakko pulls one out of his bag. Inside is a setup that would make any general or Mad Scientist envious, with monitors on every wall showing the rampaging dragon and at the bottom a group of military leaders and scientistsnote  around a table debating whether to destroy the dragon or capture it for study. The Warners decide to forget the War Room after that and deal with the dragon themselves.

    Real Life 
  • The Cabinet War Rooms underneath Whitehall in London, serving as the nerve centre of Britain's war effort.
  • Truth in Television: Militaries and other armed (and sometimes even unarmed, see political campaigns) factions tend to have these for a reason, as they generally serve as a large, central meeting area for conferences with underlings and field leaders to talk things through, plan out future moves and contingencies, and anticipate future developments.
    • This is one of the reasons generals in World War One stayed in large chateaux - not because they desired the luxury but because these were convenient places to house the large planning staff a corps or division needed, and they were frequently (though not always) already wired up to the telephone and telegraph network and serviced by decent roads. They were also generally (but again not always) beyond the range of enemy artillery.
      • Ironically, it was this exact circumstance that contributed to France losing the Battle of France in WW2 - the general staff was also residing in a single chateau, but the only communication services that were available to them were hourly motorcycle messengers.
  • The White House Situation Room, as seen in the historic photo of President Obama's National Security team watching the raid on Usama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.
  • While not a war room, this picture of the boardroom at the FIFA headquarters has often been visually associated with the Dr. Strangelove setup.
  • Reportedly, soon after being elected, President-elect Ronald Reagan went to the Pentagon and wanted to see the War Room; he was disappointed when he discovered the real thing didn't look anything like what was in Dr. Strangelove.
  • When George W. Bush was elected, a general at NORAD was heard to groan, "Oh God, he's going to demand to see the Stargate!"
  • The state-of-the-art National Defense Management Center, situated in the MoD's Third Building on the Frunze Embankment in Moscow, right across the river from the Gorky Park, features as much as three main situational rooms, covering all three described variants, only subverting then in that all three are brightly lit and are actually on the second floor instead of the usual underground:
    • Information Hall is a huge, cavernous room with one wall completely covered by the monitor screens, and all other plus the floor taken by the dozens of color-coded Bridge Bunnies' consoles. Day-to-day functions of the Russian military are managed there.
    • Management and Interaction Hall is the round-table version, where the top brass convenes for meetings and where the senior underlings and civilian liaisons are briefed on relevant information, as this hall also has a speaker's dais and the audience stands.
    • Decision-Making Room is the boardroom where the officers of the watch oversee the most mission-critical sides of the military machine. Notably also features the round table.