Follow TV Tropes


Underwater Base

Go To
Think of it as your regular secret base. Except instead of birds, you have sharks.note 

"If you're looking for me,
You'd better check under the sea,
'Cause that is where you'll find me
Underneath the Sealab
Underneath the water
At the bottom of the sea."

Characters have their base of operations underwater in a domed lair. The glass dome is unrealistic but due to the Rule of Cool, they are common. Somewhat more common with villains, but there are scientific research bases and oil drilling bases in some works. The underwater lair is good for keeping out unwanted visitors. After all, it takes more effort to break in if you have to be looking out for giant squids and sharks at the same time. To get to the base, a submarine is needed. The characters may be imperiled by an undersea monster.

Compare Elaborate Underground Base, Island Base, Space Base. See also Underwater City.

While fictional heroes and villains like to keep their submarines in undersea bases, in Real Life, navies put their submarines in sheltered pens at the surface level. In Real Life, scientists build underwater habitats for oceans and marine creature research. NASA uses some underwater habitats to train new astronauts, making this a Real Life application of the "Space Is an Ocean" trope.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Daimos: The Brahmins' Home Base on Earth is an underwater base serving as their headquarters to launch attacks from.
  • Boa's fortress in Flying Phantom Ship.
  • GaoGaiGar: The Gutsy Galaxy Guard's headquarters is an underwater "Harbor Reef Base" located underneath the Japan Aeronautics headquarters. Later, after the 31 Primevals trash both the Aeronautics headquarters and the base with their attacks, they relocate to an orbital space station base.
  • Great Mazinger: Marquis Janus Home Base is an Island Base that can submerge.
  • Mazinger Z: The Dragon Baron Ashura is commander of Dr. Hell's sea and submarine fortresses and has two underwater bases: Salude and Bood.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman has had a few, and thus by extension, so has Eagle Riders and Battle of the Planets.
    • The most noteworthy is Crescent Coral Base (Center Neptune in BotP), which has thrusters on the bottom allowing it to physically move and change locations if discovered and projects a fake coral reef above on the water surface to fool people.
    • Gatchaman II has G-Town, a huge mobile base (more like a city) at the very bottom of the ocean.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Aquaman: Plenty of these have shown up in stories. For example, Dr. Stephen Shin worked at a research station called Triton Base.
    • Super Sons: Batman and Superman gift one of these to Jon and Damian after they proved their ability to work as a team. It comes with everything: weight rooms for training, a supercomputer for analysis, and a mini-fridge for snacks.
    • Superman:
      • Superboy (1994): The villainous Silicon Dragons' base is an elaborate underwater affair off the coast of Maui that gets flooded section by section as Superboy and the Suicide Squad infiltrate it.
      • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man: Lex Luthor has a mobile submarine base (until Superman destroys it).
      • Superman established an undersea Fortress in the Sargasso Sea in Action Comics #244, but he abandoned it shortly after.
      • Supergirl: Supergirl has her own undersea base — called Sanctuary — in Supergirl Volume 6 #12. Unfortunately it got blown up in issue #20.
  • Star Wars: Invasion: The resistance on Artorias is based in a complex under its seas, the only place left unscathed by the Vong's Hostile Terraforming.

    Fan Works 
  • Soul Eater: Troubled Souls has Subterrene, the base of operations of Novus Partus located directly beneath the surface of Bermuda.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The mobile undersea drilling rig in The Abyss is a textbook example. It's also somewhat closer to being scientifically accurate, as the rig's interior is pressurized. It takes hours to adjust to the rig's atmosphere going down, and under normal circumstances it would take days to decompress back to normal surface pressure.
  • Austin Powers: "Welcome to my submarine lair! It's long, hard and full of seamen."
  • Captain Nemo and the Underwater City puts the city of "Templemere" under a dome at the bottom of the ocean, where the submarine Nautilus has its berth — and this is supposedly done during a time when the best technology is steam-powered.
  • The titular research base in DeepStar Six.
  • The 1966 film Destination Inner Space is about an underwater research station being menaced by an icthyoid alien.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra features one of these as the villains' main base.
  • The monster-hunting coalition Monarch's flagship facility in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) is built into underwater bedrock, with its above-water facilities being disguised as a mundane oil rig. Monarch has another, more remote base in the middle of the Indian Ocean, which is shown in the novelization.
  • The research base in Leviathan (1989).
  • The plot of The Neptune Factor starts with the destruction of a small undersea research station.
  • Stromberg's home in The Spy Who Loved Me.
  • The two drilling rigs in Underwater. The reason why the spoiler is there is because when the protagonists reach the second rig, lost some time prior to the film, they find more evidence that the company they work for is running on Weyland-Yutani rules: the stuff they drill is much more important to them than their lives and potentially those of the entire human race.
  • Virus Shark: The majority of the movie is set on the Cygnus Research Facility, an underwater base that was repurposed as a research facility.

  • Animorphs: The plot of #15 involves the Animorphs morphing sharks to investigate and destroy the Yeerks' underwater base where they're modifying sharks to have brains controllable by Yeerks, to use in the invasion of Leera.
  • Beebe Station from the Rifters Trilogy.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events:
    • It is alluded to that the Ancient Conspiracy owns one.
    • Also, in The Penultimate Peril, Hotel Denouement is actually a library under the water that reflects the hotel. Everything on the hotel is written backwards so that it's correct in the reflection.
  • Sphere is primarily set in a US Navy deep-saturation underwater research habitat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Doctor Who story "Warriors of the Deep" is set in an underwater base, from which nuclear weapons were controlled.
  • The Looking Glass station in Lost, used by the Others to block all communications coming to the island.
  • Lost in Oz has a heroic version with Bellaridere's underwater palace.
  • The New Avengers: In "Forward Base", the eponymous base turns out to be an elaborate submersible community hidden in Lake Ontario.
  • In Ocean Girl, the scientists live and work inside an undersea habitat called the Oceanic Research Centre of Australia, or ORCA for short.
  • In Raumpatrouille, both Spaceship Base 104 (the military headquarters and that of the Galactic Security Service) and the crew's private homes are situated at the bottom of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
  • MATnote  has one such base under Tokyo Bay in Return of Ultraman. The base is destroyed in the final episode.
  • Super Sentai/Power Rangers:
  • Total Recall 2070: Farve the android's mysterious creator is hiding in a derelict underwater base inside a radioactive lake that hasn't been visited by humans in decades.
  • The UFO (1970) episode "Reflections in the Water" has an underwater alien base.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Kadath Station in Deep Madness is halfway between this and Underwater City. On the one hand, it is a very extensive location that requires trains to connect between sections. On the other hand, every square inch is necessary for the base's function, there are no commodities and it's very claustrophobic.
  • Old World of Darkness:
    • The sourcebook Blood Dimmed Tides features one of these in the form of Project Deepwater, an underwater laboratory built right on the edge of the Mariana Trench. The result of an ongoing alliance between Pentex and the Technocracy, it was established for the purposes of harvesting supernatural resources from the ocean — and for continuing Pentex's efforts to ruin the environment.
    • As discussed in the splatbook for the Void Engineers, there are several that are maintained by the Engineers, as their explicit aims are to explore everything, not just space or Umbral realms (plus, things learned with underwater exploration are frequently applicable for exploring space/other dimensions). However, prior to the Avatar Storm, this was given much less attention (and, consequently, much less budget than other Engineer programs). Post-Avatar Storm, their remoteness (particularly from the Sleepers) combined with the loss of bases in Umbral realms result in increased importance of these bases for the Technocracy as a whole; several even get upgraded to Underwater Cities.
  • Several new underwater territories have been added to the futuristic Risk 2210 A.D. board game, compared to its original, much better-known, incarnation.
  • Transhuman Space features a wide range of established sub-aquatic operations; the most exotic are deep in the ice-covered oceans of Europa, a moon of Jupiter, where a miniature war is being fought for the future of the moon.

    Video Games 
  • Anno 2070 requires you to build a few of these to harvest certain high-end resources. There's also an NPC faction, the Ebashi Trench Observatory, who may have a base in the region. You can trade with them, and they'll even sell you spare submarines.
  • In Beyond: Two Souls, you infiltrate an underwater base where the Chinese are trying to build a condenser portal.
  • Rapture of BioShock is an Underwater City, of course, but the more utilitarian areas of it fit this trope.
  • The Ocean Palace of Zeal in Chrono Trigger, at least before it turns into the Black Omen.
  • The future time zone of Dark Fall II: Lights Out contains a submerged research facility close to where the lighthouse used to be called D.E.O.S. (Deep Explorations of Space). It's where the sentient space probe Malakai was developed and launched from.
  • Deep Fear is essentially "Resident Evil, but in an underwater military base!", although it does make use of the setting update, mainly by adding the lack of oxygen and conserving it as major game mechanics. It also quietly acknowledges how incredibly expensive a facility would be to make, requiring civilian corporations to share parts of it for maintenance after the US Navy cut its funding — one of which was an agricultural company breeding surface animals to become your enemies when a mutating virus spreads around. Whoops.
  • The Pasadena Ocean Lab in Deus Ex is just an advanced research facility for the Big Bad, and devoid of life,* but information there is vital to his plans, and The Dragon makes an appearance.
  • The Swedish game Djuphavsjakten ("The deep sea hunt") features this. The exact details are a spoiler, as it turns out to feature this trope twice — once you capture the villain's first underwater base of operations, it turns out he has a larger underwater base deeper into the ocean, leaving the good guys to build up the captured base for their own underwater operations.
  • There's an abandoned underwater base in EarthBound Beginnings which was originally used by Ninten's great-grandfather.
  • Final Fantasy V has the Catapult, an underground/underwater base of Lost Technology. Among other things, it features an airship docking bay, a teleporter and a ship-sized elevator to the sea surface. And the icing on the cake? It's yours now.
  • The deep-sea military installation NORAD VI in The Journeyman Project, where a robot is sent to launch a nuclear missile that would disrupt world unification.
  • Knights of the Old Republic has one owned by the Selkath on Manaan — "owned" being in the past tense.
  • Constructing underwater structures is a popular activity in Minecraft.
  • Cycorp's Manufacturing Center in Net:Zone is a Cyberspace variant, accessed by a virtual submarine. Cycorp used it to construct their CY-11s, but it's since been taken over and altered by Walter Sayle for building and unleashing his Cyberworm virus.
  • The undersea base of the villainous team in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. Which team it is depends on what you're playing. In Ruby, it's Magma; in Sapphire and Emerald, it's Aqua (while Magma's base is instead hidden inside Mt. Chimney).
  • Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin takes place in an abandoned underwater research station originally built by the Psychonauts to harvest and study Psilirium, a mineral that has severely disorienting and mind-altering effects on psychics. The reason it was abandoned was that the Psilirium deposits were so big and powerful it overwhelmed nearly everyone working there, causing vivid hallucinations.
  • Rockman 4 Minus ∞ has the second half of Dive Man's level. Mega Man finds it by using Rush Marine to dive down to the point where the background is black and heading right.
  • The underwater research facility Pathos-II is this in SOMA, It was primarily used for building satellites to be launched in a magnetic railgun, but since comet Telos scorched the Earth above, only the base's inhabitants survived.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Eggman has a few of these. Examples include Tidal Plant, Ocean Base (which has surprisingly little in the way of underwater segments), and Aquatic Base (Super Drowning Skills here).
  • In Subnautica, you can make these using the Builder tool, the right blueprints, and raw materials. You get most of these blueprints from scanning abandoned bases left behind by the survivors of another human spaceship that crash-landed on the planet years earlier. And then you find decidedly non-human installations built by the very same alien Precursors that are responsible for your predicament in the first place...
  • The Blackwater Research Facility in Tomb Raider III: The Lost Artifact, covertly built beneath the Channel Tunnel between France and the UK.
  • Grineer Mad Scientist Tyl Regor from Warframe owns several labs under the surface of Uranus' oceans,note  featuring Grineer Drekar units and water leaking from the ceilings.
  • The last mission of the WOPR campaign in WarGames Defcon 1 has the players locating the last NORAD base, which is hidden in the Sea of Japan, by capturing a NORAD lab in Tokyo causing the base to rise out of the waters. They then send their units to destroy the base, leading to WOPR's The Bad Guy Wins ending.
  • The final location of Within a Deep Forest, and the setting of the Knytt Stories level An Underwater Adventure, which is an alternate version of Within a Deep Forest's story.
  • X-COM:
    • Since X-COM: Terror from the Deep is basically X-COM UNDERWATER!, these make up the bases of your organization. The alien bases, including T'leth, also apply.
    • The final mission of XCOM 2 involves an assault on an ADVENT controlled underwater base.
  • This is the setting of the entire game of X-Perts, an underwater research facility/nuclear weapons storage that has been hijacked by terrorists.

  • Madblood's lair (a later one) in Narbonic.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, the UNS Internal Affairs Intelligence agency's base is a huge, roughly spherical submarine that drifts about in the ice-covered ocean of the moon Europa.
  • In We Are The Wyrecats, Lamar's base of operations is located in the Mariana Trench.

    Web Original 
  • Coyle Command has Poseidon's vault.
  • Gaia Online: The Final Boss battle of zOMG! Chapter One takes place in Labtech X's Underwater Base.
  • How to Hero mentions that the superhero team Hero Force has an underwater headquarters where they host mahjong night for retired superheroes every Thursday at 3 pm.
  • Villain Source (Your Online Source For Everything Evil) naturally has one of these for sale. However you have to provide your own aquatic construction personnel. And avoid flooding the place from the obvious and accessible control panels.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Sea Base Alpha in the EPCOT attraction The Living Seas, before the Nemo makeover.
  • Jules Verne Undersea Lodge was once a research base off the coast of Puerto Rico, but was moved to an artificial lagoon in Key Largo, Florida. It now serves as a unique hotel room.
  • The Aquarius Reef Base is an underwater habitat for research. It is 5.4 mi (8.7 km) off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It is built on the ocean floor 62 ft (19 m) below the surface, next to a coral reef.Since 2001, NASA has used Aquarius for its NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) missions to train astronauts. NASA sends groups of astronauts underwater because it is a way to simulate human spaceflight in preparation for their space exploration missions.


Video Example(s):


Would Rather Drown

The Teen Titans' submarine is broken, but they need to escape a collapsing underwater lair. Beast Boy offers to transform into whale and carry the team out in his mouth, which most of the team accepts. Raven, having been subjected to both drowning and the inside of Beast Boy's mouth, says she'd rather drown. When the rest of the team leaves, she stays as if fully intent on doing just that, until Starfire pulls her to safety.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / NotHyperbole

Media sources: