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Trapped in Containment

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Let me out!

So the Big Bad and his minions have stormed the secret laboratory and captured the MacGuffin. But we really need to show the audience what is at stake here without having the villain pass through the Moral Event Horizon. So one of the Mooks will be fumbling around with a vial of the stuff, it will fall to the floor, shatter, and everybody except said Mook will escape in time. The door will seal, and the Mook is left to his horrible fate as the rest of his compatriots look on sympathetically. He has been Trapped in Containment.

It needn't be a chemical weapon — it could be as simple as someone trapped behind a door as it fills up with water — although it usually is.

Note the odds are 99% that someone will attempt an Indy Hat Roll. Naturally, this trope doesn't count for those who succeed.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Black Lagoon during the Nazi arc, in a flashback three of the sub's crew are trapped in the forward torpedo room, which is is taking on water after a US depth charge attack. They choose to seal the door in order to save the rest of the sub, but it's ultimately futile as the sub was left too badly damaged to surface ever again.
  • In Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, one of the students mistakes a container of a biological weapon Sousuke had brought to school (he had gotten it by mistake — he had ordered a sniper rifle scope) for a drinks container and accidentally opens it. Hilarity Ensues as Sousuke tries to keep it from spreading outside the classroom and traps the entire class in containment.

    Comic Books 
  • Watchmen: The origin story for Doctor Manhattan involves this. He forgot his watch inside an Intrinsic Field Remover, gets shut inside it, and cheerfully asks his colleagues outside if they can open the door. They can only stammer back that once the door is closed, it stays closed until the experiment is over.

     Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Berezniki is quarantined in response to the escalating tectonic phenomena and missing-persons crisis, which only leaves everyone who's consequently trapped inside at the mercy of the Many. By the time Monarch, Mothra and other benevolent Titans arrive on the scene, Berezniki is a complete Ghost City.

    Film — Animated 
  • In the backstory of Astro Boy: The Movie and its Licensed Game, Toby was killed by the Peacekeeper after being trapped in containment with it.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008): A government agent sacrifices a scientist who is contaminated with Grey Goo while investigating a caged alien artifact, ignoring his pleas to be let out. The agent is less stoic when the contamination starts eating through the windows and his room is the next to be sealed and sacrificed.
  • Escape Room (2017): Two players are trapped in the autopsy room when the door locks on them. The other players can only watch helplessly through the observation window and the room fills with acidic gas, which causes them to dissolve.
  • The alien autopsy scene in Independence Day goes off script when the alien turn out to be only mostly dead and psychically takes control of the poor man in the surgical suite.
  • James Bond accidentally (or not) causes this to happen to a couple of scientists working for the Big Bad in Moonraker. Whether or not he cares is a different issue.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. When the Nautilus is sinking, Nemo orders that the engine room be sealed off so the water doesn't flood the rest of the ship, condemning the crew trapped in it to death by drowning.
  • Resident Evil Film Series:
    • Happens in the beginning of Resident Evil (2002). A villain deliberately breaks a container and releases the T-Virus. Later, when the Red Queen seals the room several researchers are trapped inside as the room fills with water from the fire control sprinklers.
    • In Resident Evil: Extinction the bad guy locks two assistant scientists in with a zombie when it breaks free of its restraints.
  • The opening scene from The Rock involves a Mook being trapped as some VX nerve gas does some funky stuff to him that definitely doesn't happen in real life. (At least, not with VX. Mustard gas, on the other hand...)
  • In Species, they're tooling around with the alien DNA when a camera breaks down in the sealed experiment chamber. Dr. Laura Baker and Preston volunteer to go in and try to replace the camera. Of course an accident happens and they are on their own to fight off the fast growing alien while the other team members are forced to watch from behind safety glass.

  • Much of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain is centered on this type of set-up. Near the end, one of the scientists is stuck within the contaminated area due to a failure of the lab's airtight seal. This in itself would be bad enough, but the entire lab is built on a thermonuclear device that starts counting down when the lab becomes contaminated, and will go off if the "Lone Man" doesn't deactivate it by turning a key in a special station. Due to construction delays, the section of the lab the guy with the key is in doesn't yet have one of those stations, and while the seals between sections aren't doing such a good job of containing the virus, they're very effective at containing people.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Season three of 24 has this happen on a larger scale involving a biological weapon and a hotel full of people.
  • Done in the pilot miniseries of Battlestar Galactica (2003). Colonel Tigh orders the hatches to the flight deck sealed to contain a fire, as the Galactica is under heavy Cylon attack. Unfortunately, there are 85 crewmen trapped inside. Chief Tyrol nearly has a Heroic BSoD trying to convince Tigh to let him make a rescue attempt, and then watching Tigh activate each hatch lock in turn.
  • Belgian sci-fi series Cordon, and its American remake Containment, sees an entire city district, infected with a virulent disease brought in ostensibly by an immigrant, Trapped In confinement.
  • In the Criminal Minds episode "Amplification", Reid is locked in a home biological laboratory when he notices a broken vial of weapons grade anthrax on the ground. However, he locks the doors himself as a way to save Morgan from the same fate. Luckily, they discover the antidote to the strain in time to save him.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Planet of the Daleks": A Spiridon slave opens up a deadly toxin the Daleks have been developing, leaving them trapped. Unusual in that the trapped Daleks are actually immune to the virus — but they still can't open the door because they are the only ones who are.
    • "The End of Time": The Nuclear Bolt cabinet has two operation booths, and is designed so that one must be occupied at all times. At the climax, Wilfred Mott goes inside to allow a trapped technician to escape. After the Time Lords are banished back behind the Time Lock, the resulting damage means that the cabinet is going to go critical, with the inside flooded with radiation, if anything inside is touched, but Wilf can't get out unless someone else enters the other booth. The Doctor is not happy about it, but he saves Wilf's life by doing so, causing him to regenerate.
    • "The Pyramid at the End of the World": The Doctor is trapped inside a lab filled with a deadly bacteria capable of wiping out all life on Earth, less than two minutes before it's going to be blown up in order to kill said bacteria. The only way out is through an airlock door that can only be opened by a combination lock — but the Doctor was blinded two episodes before and can't open it. And Nardole, who could pick him up with the TARDIS, is lying unresponsive on the console room floor because he was infected with the deadly bacteria. Ultimately, this is what spurs Bill to accept the Monks' offer — they have the power to restore the Doctor's eyesight so he can escape.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: In "A Man Without a Country", Remy has to evacuate a subway train. A Disposable Vagrant refuses to leave and gets sealed inside when Remy has to order the door seals when the weapon placed on board the train starts spraying Deadly Gas.
  • In Look Around You, the danger of the Helvetica Scenario is illustrated by a scene of a masked literally faceless scientist pounding futilely on a glass window while another stands outside taking notes.
  • In an episode of MacGyver (1985), a scientist creates a chemical for maturing plants. When her dog knocks over the vial, she is trapped with it and ages to death.
  • In the season 2 episode of The Mentalist called "Code Red", a bioweapons researcher finds out that one of the vials with a super-virus has spilled. She immediately locks down the containment room with her inside and calls CBI to get them started on looking for her murderer, knowing she only has hours to live.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "Blood Brothers", a scientist accidentally creates what appears to be a cure-all for anything ailing a person (while working on a safe knockout gas). This trope occurs twice. First, his research assistant punches the door in the lab after injecting himself with some of the compound, causing the containment system to activate in the presence of chemicals in the air. He is incinerated, as his boss refuses to open the door. The second time is caused intentionally by the scientist's brother, who activates the containment system, but the scientist and his girlfriend manage to escape just before they are incinerated.
  • In a season 4 episode of Primeval, Philip Burton has Connor run a scan on the entire ARC for any foreign organisms. He then walks into the creature pen and sees Rex out of his cage. Before he can do anything, the scan detects Rex and locks down the entire facility. Burton is trapped in the pen with the air being sucked out. Luckily, Connor realizes that Burton built his security system on Connor's own software, for which Connor has a backdoor.

    Video Games 
  • In Fallout 3, a radiation containment room containing the master controls at Project Purity provides an opportunity for all kinds of hijinx. First, your pop dies in there after he deliberately floods the room with radiation, trying to get the Enclave unit lead by Colonel Autumn to leave. After that, you return to the room and have to choose whether to Heroically Sacrifice yourself to reset the purifier to a safe level, or let Sentinel Lyons do it instead. You can Take a Third Option and have neither of you do it, resulting in a very big bang.
    • The Broken Steel DLC lets you send in a radiation-immune party member, if you have one with you. You can still go in yourself, but since the entirety of Broken Steel takes place after the main quest of the base game, if you do so with the DLC installed you won't actually die, just collapse and wake up two weeks later in a Brotherhood of Steel infirmary.
    • In the backstory of Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money, the guests at the Sierra Madre's Gala Event were trapped in the casino when it went into lockdown during the Great War. In the casino basement at the end of the DLC, either the Courier or Elijah can trigger Sinclair's trap and permanently seal themselves in the vault, leading to a Non Standard Game Over in the former case.
    • In Fallout 4, the Cambridge Polymer Labs sidequest locks you in the lab until either you find the correct components and synthesize the Piezonucleic Power Armor, or hack a Master-locked terminal. The lab's pre-war scientists suffered a similar fate when Director Jon Elwood-Wollum ordered a lockdown of the lab while the bombs were falling, and due to Willfred Bergman blocking access to the isotope components, were unable to complete the project and either starved to death or became feral ghouls.
  • In Hollow Knight, the second Bad Ending has Hornet locked in the Black Egg with the Knight turned Vessel, and also becoming the new Dreamer sealing the entrance. Since The Key Is Behind the Lock, she is effectively trapped forever, and no one can enter to put a stop to the Infection once this Vessel fails.
  • In Mission Critical, you find a diary of a traitor onboard the ship, who recounts a memory from his childhood of his parents, scientists specializing in nanotechnology. The parents were working with a prototype nanite colony designed to break down waste. However, the nanites break free, and the parents are stuck in containment as they are eaten alive in front of their children. This is described as the reason for the character's Face–Heel Turn, as he came to realize the evils of technology.
  • Two mooks do this to themselves in Perfect Dark when they trigger the nerve gas defense system in Area 51 - and lock themselves in the lab by doing so.
  • A delightfully cruel level in Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy. In it there were three gas chambers that seal once you enter the room. Bullets do no damage, and only by using telekinesis can you break the glass and not die of poisoning. The fun part came in with the fact that you would either get stuck with a scientist inside, in which case you could smash him against the glass to break it, or there would be a taunting faceless goon outside you could use to crack it. And if you're fast enough, you can trigger the doors and skip out while remaining outside, leaving the poor science mooks inside to slowly die.
  • Medic Anderson in Quake IV is killed by a Strogg Scientist after being locked behind a containment shield.
  • In Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, you're going in to rescue hostages from a building, then the terrorists lock all the doors and put gas into the ventilation system. You are too late, and stand outside the door hearing screams and dying as a bit of the gas floats out through the cracks in the door. Luckily, you have gas masks on.
  • Spy Fiction (2003)'s villain does this to a scientist in there to get rid of him while demonstrating what the virus, Lahder, could do.
  • Star Trek: Elite Force requires you to raise a force field when a crewman says that there's going to be a big explosion. If you do it too early, you trap him behind the force field with the explosions killing him. Note that this is followed by two crewmen telling you to stop an electrical surge, which you must do as soon as possible.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: When the Mandarin captures the Player Character to test how Our Vampires Are Different, one hapless Mook is sealed in a containment room with a wholly ineffective crucifix and the disgruntled vampire. Unfortunately for the Mook, killing him is the only way to advance the quest.

    Web Animation 
  • The township of Mountain Glenn in RWBY. The surface city was overrun by monsters due to a dearth of natural defenses against them. In an attempt to stave off death, the survivors entered the maze of deep caves and subway tunnels they had cleared out. But then an explosion freed a caves worth of monsters, and the government sealed the tunnels out of the city, creating the world's largest underground tomb.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Real Ghostbusters had times when either Slimer or Egon had to go into the Containment Unit. The danger presented here was that the parties involved would risk being trapped inside with hundreds of very pissed off horrors for a very long time. There's always a just-in-time rescue, but the writers made sure to milk every last second of tension out of it. (Never mind, of course, even with that last-second rescue, there's always the possibility of something else coming out...)
  • The Simpsons: One of Troy Mcclure's films starts with him in a genetics lab, wearing a hazmat suit along with the lab techs. Then he removes his helmet, prompting everyone in the lab to run for the door which closes behind them.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Mystery of a Thousand Moons", Padmé, Ahsoka, Jar Jar, Rex and several clone troopers are trapped inside a secret underground lab on Naboo being used by the Separatists when an airborne strain of the deadly Blue Shadow Virus is set loose in the facility. Not only are they (excluding Jar Jar, who has the only functioning Hazmat Suit, as Padmé's gets damaged during a firefight) going to all be dead in 48 hours if the cure isn't located in time, they have to stop the remaining battle droids from breaking out and letting the virus loose on Naboo.