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Series / The Lost Room

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The Lost Room is a miniseries that aired on Syfy in late 2006.

Detective Joe Miller (Peter Krause) is your standard police detective, recently divorced, fighting to keep custody of his daughter Anna (Elle Fanning), and currently working the case of two lightly-singed men being embedded into the walls of an antique store. Said men were fighting with a group of armed thugs over a motel room key that can open a door to anywhere as long as you're willing to walk through the same motel room every time. This is, obviously, a key people are willing to spend millions of dollars on and take countless lives for. Soon, Miller learns of the Objects, a collective of over a hundred other artifacts, each with their own powers (some very strong like the Key and some complete duds like the Bus Ticket that dumps you onto a highway outside of Gallup, New Mexico), all originating from that motel room, and all being vied over by separate groups.


Examples of tropes include:

  • Affably Evil: Kruetzfeld will do anything to get his son back, healthy, including having his men shoot Joe with a shotgun. But when he has to, he negotiates and seems sincere. Kruetzfeld does appear conflicted: he saves Joe from falling to his death (and taking the Key Kruetzfeld needs from Joe's corpse), but later after Joe saves his life, leaves Joe to a much more painful and prolonged death.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Knife + Watch = "A kind of telepathy"
    • Key + Comb + Watchbox = Access to an alternative version of Room 9.
    • Nail Clippers + Pack of Cigarettes + Ashtray + Clock + Key + Toothbrush + Watchbox = Something Very Bad.
  • And I Must Scream: The Occupant reveals that the Objects all sense one another, a sensation he likens to pain, electricity, and noise. While the Objects are inanimate and feel nothing, the Occupant does... and to him, it's unbelievable torture.
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  • Arc Words: "It's all I have left"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: While Wally's not usually judicious about using his ticket, he does seem to use it at least once to stop a bunch of guys from fighting. He then sends a teenage girl to just outside Gallup because she was mocking his bowling game.
  • Artifacts of Attraction: The Objects have a... knack... for making people covet them. Murderously so. Admittedly, some of them are so powerfully useful that they justify this sort of behavior.
  • Artifacts of Doom: The Objects. Some people see them as Pieces of God, "quantum hiccups," or merely their way of making a living.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Played with; the question is just fine, but the answer is unintentionally vague.
    Joe: What is this [key]?
    Wally: It's an Object.
    Joe: Yeah?
  • Ate His Gun: Averted, but not how you'd think. The Occupant tries to off himself with Joe's handgun. However, he ends up just spitting out the unharmed bullet, thanks to his invincibility.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The series operates on this trope. Many players in the object conflict are well-intentioned extremists, at least from their own point of view. the Legion wants to rid humanity of the Objects and the evil they've indirectly caused, and The Order of Reunification believes collecting the Objects is the only way to contact God. Others are in it for their own personal use: Joe wants to bring his daughter back from the Room, Karl Kreutzfeld wants to use the objects to resurrect his dead son and the Weasel is just a Chaotic Neutral.
  • Blessed with Suck: Most Objects do random things that would only be interesting at parties. Even the genuinely useful ones seem to bring more misery than anything else to their owners, so there's two distinct subtypes of this trope present.
    • The Bus Pass drops anyone who touches it just outside Gallup, New Mexico. Wally uses it to banish people he doesn't like.
    • The Comb allows you to stop time for up to 10 seconds, allowing for you to dodge bullets or find a hiding place. It also freezes everything else in place, making it so that you can't physically have any effect on anything around you during those 10 seconds (no opening doors, taking things out of people's hands, etc.) and causes motion sickness with each use (this is said by its primary holder to be lessened if you remember to stop and stand still right before time resumes).
    • There are also Objects with unknown or forgotten uses. They can only be useful in the fact that they're indestructible. The Coat, for example, doesn't seem to do anything, but can be used as a bullet-proof vest. Getting shot in the area covered by the coat will hurt, but won't kill you.
    • The Pencil makes pennies when you tap it, which could lead you to become rich. However, in order to get a large amount of money out of it, you would have to tap it so many times it would probably drive you mad (which happened to at least one of its owners, who eventually killed himself).
    • The Glass Eye is a highly powerful weapon, capable of flinging/disintegrating people and healing wounds. But to use it, you have to replace one of your own eyes with it.
    • The Occupant no longer ages and is invincible outside the Room, but he gets headaches from being near other Objects, his wife no longer remembers him, and he no longer legally exists, so he ends up in a mental hospital, presumably for life. All of the Objects have minds, but only the Occupant is sentient. So the Occupant can be driven insane and have severe headaches from the mental static caused by the Objects.
  • Blown Across the Room: The Pen seems to hit people with the force of a cannon, even though it's supposed to be microwaving them.
    • This could be a similar misrepresentation to how the Scissors "rotate things".
  • Break the Fake: The Objects are indestructible. Attempting to break, burn or tear something suspected of being an Object is, therefore, a common way of identifying fakes.
  • Brown Note: The Umbrella, Nail File and Deck Of Cards all have a Brown Note effect on whoever sees them.
  • Brutal Honesty: Once Ruber has taken the role of Prophet of the Objects, he has no issue with telling the police that he was the one who really murdered Miller's partner, because there's nothing they can do to stop him, as far as he's concerned.
  • Came Back Wrong: Averted. Kreutzfeld's son can be brought back to life as a memory with the Quarter, but it's always as a boy with leukemia.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The opening of Episode 5. Lee watches Joe trying to open the door of one of the motel rooms, with Anna trapped and pleading through the window for help.
  • Chekhov's Armory: Sort of the entire point, but the Bus Pass is notably far more useful than one would think.
    • Chekhov's Gun:
      • Kreutzfeld has sliding doors in every single part of his house, preventing infiltration via The Key. But then Joe sees he bought his son a playhouse for his birthday... Also counts as Nice Job Fixing It, Villain.
      • Wally mentions in the first episode that there's always a price to be paid when using the Objects. Early on it seems that it's just being put in danger for simply having a powerful Object, and Anna being taken by the Room. The whole "price" detail is ignored from that point onwards until it's picked up by the Occupant himself, at the tail end of the final episode, and it's a lot more dire.
  • Collector of the Strange: Anyone who associates with the Objects.
    • Mostly. Kang and the Sood are scrupulous about collecting information, not the Objects themselves because having an Object could get them killed. Though the Sood does collect signs of the Objects, so he might count anyway.
  • Cool Key: The Key can get you into the Room from any door that meets certain lenient qualifications (see Cool Gate).
  • Cool Gate: The door of the Room (the Door?) can open to any door that doesn't slide (regardless of it having a tumbler lock, it just needs one to be opened). It can even adjust itself when the destination door is tiny or isn't framed in a door.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • When Joe and the Weasel head to Kreutzfeld's home to acquire the Clock, Joe assumes that the door missing from the blueprints upstairs was merely walled over. Not only is he correct, but he also assumes that its knob will have been removed; he brought a power drill and a new doorknob with him to install in the door itself. Didn't think to buy a drill that was cordless though.
    • Joe borrows the Bus Ticket from Wally, in case he needs to teleport away. He does.
  • Cult: The Order of the Reunification, who believe the Objects are "pieces of God."
  • Cursed with Awesome: Merely possessing an Object will mess up your life. Besides people fighting over the Objects, many of them have terrible side effects, and the possessors tend to become increasingly paranoid and dysfunctional the longer they own one.
    • The Objects "call out to each other," tending to bring people who possess them into the lives of each other. This can be used by one person to track other objects. Knowing that person with the Pen and/or the Glass Eye could just walk up to you, kill you, and take your Object is a very disconcerting thought to have to live with.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Joe's fairly sarcastic to everyone he meets, though being impatient he usually only snarks once before getting mad. Jennifer gets a bit of this as well.
  • De Fictionalized: The Sunshine Motel.
  • Disney Villain Death: Averted twice. Kuertzfeld rescues Joe as he dangles from a fire-escape railing. Later, Joe rescues Kuertzfeld as he dangled from a prison guard tower railing.
  • The End... Or Is It?: At the end of the last episode, Joe tosses the Key in the Room and closes it from outside, hoping the reset would put the Key out of anyone's reach. At first it appears to work, but then the camera pans back to the Hotel and the door opens on its own, revealing the Key.
  • Enhance Button: Jennifer Bloom is looking at footage of the Conroy Experiment, where she zooms in and enhances on a scan of a copy of a fifty-year-old film, only to find the Occupant's face in the midst of the chaos. Not only does this not make any sense (the Occupant was miles away in a sanitarium at the time), but that piece of information ultimately affects nothing. And to make it even more annoying? That sequence wasn't in the original script. They added it in while filming.
  • Eye Scream: The Glass Eye is a powerful weapon, but only if you stick it in one of your eye sockets. For someone with a full complement of eyes, that leaves just one option...
  • Gilligan Cut: Wally describes the Watch to Joe, and says that it's useless by itself for anything but hard boiling eggs without heat. Cut to Kurtzfeld using it to hard boil an egg for a snack.
  • A God Am I: Ruber, in a hallucination, sees himself in the place of the Occupant... and promptly declares himself Prophet of the Objects and that collecting them all would make him God.
  • God is Dead: It's suggested at one point that the Event that created the Objects was the death of God.
  • Gold Fever: Dr. Ruber's character to a T, just substitute "Magical Key" for "Gold."
  • Gotta Catch Them All: When an Object enters the Room, it loses its powers and invulnerability. If you put all of them back into the Room from whence they came, no one really knows what would happen. But it would probably be cool. Or horribly lethal. Or nothing.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Anna, paired with Innocent Blue Eyes.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: The Scissors "rotate things." Joe isn't concerned when confronting the owner... until she sends him tumbling through the air with a twist of her wrist. No one said the center of rotation had to be inside the object.
    • So many Objects fall into this category, it's mind-boggling. The Pencil spawns pennies when you tap the eraser against a solid object; best "get rich" plan ever, if you have the patience. The Bus Pass drops you out of the sky outside of Gallup, NM from anywhere in the world, no tumble lock door required. The Glasses stop combustion, the Flask lets you Vader choke people, and the Watch hard-boils eggs. Anyone of these can be twisted around ala Death Note to achieve some pretty crazy things, even more so when synchronization is in play.
    • Joe himself, who often relies only his own wits, particularly against Object-users.
  • Heroic Neutral: Joe doesn't care so much about the fate of the Objects so long as he gets his daughter back.
  • Immortality Field: Inverted. The Occupant can only be killed inside the titular room, then the killer becomes the new Occupant.
  • Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality: On one hand, you have the Key, which can get you anywhere in the world with a tumble-lock door. And then there's the Pen, which microwaves whatever the tip comes in contact with.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Most of the "bad guys" are this, but Kuertzfeld in particular seems to truly care about his son, and even Joe. Although he betrays Joe when it benefits him.
    • Kuertzfeld lets the Weasel live, although has his men beat him.
    • Kuertzfeld tells Jennifer that he'll let her live if she doesn't interfere with him, when killing her (as he's killed others) would make things easier for him.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Ruber.
  • Knowledge Broker: There are two of these. Both state that they remain unobtrusive and not obtain the Objects themselves.
    • Suzie Kang runs a Pittsburgh dry-cleaning shop, and tracks the unrecovered Objects. She deals with anyone, and charges exorbitant prices. Joe, Ruber, and Kruetzfeld all deal with her.
    • The Sood, a bookstore owner in Las Vegas, is introduced later in the mini-series, and appears to work exclusively for Kruetzfeld. He seemingly only tracks Object-related signs, such as the Object combination that opens the vault and the path that the Objects have traveled.
  • Left Hanging: The miniseries was intended to serve as a pilot for a show that never made it into production. Joe gets his daughter back, but apart from that pretty much every plot thread is left dangling. Is Joe now an Object? Does he clear his name? What happens to Kreutzfeld, Ruber, Weasel, and the cabals? The promised comic continuation may answer these questions, if it ever materializes.
  • Made of Indestructium: Objects cannot be damaged, at all, unless you take them back into the Room. Even then, another Object from outside the Room will take on the power of a destroyed Object (in strict accordance with the Conservation of Objects). For example, if the Pen were to be destroyed while in the Room, some other pen somewhere in the world would become the new Pen.
  • Meaningful Echo: "There's always a price to pay for using the Objects." Wally says this early on, and while its context is different, the Occupant echoes this to Joe at the very end.
  • Mercy Kill: Twice, sort of. The collector trapped in Room 9 was "living," or rather trapped in horrifying agony. When Joe pulled her out and stabilized her with the Comb, she promptly keels over after telling him his daughter is alive. Later, The Occupant begs Joe to kill him, since life outside is hell for him since he can constantly hear / sense every other Object, like a constant drowning noise. Plus, doing so would make Joe an Object and allow him to rescue his daughter. The really scary part? The Occupant doesn't consider himself a person, just an Object with will.
  • Mind Rape: Don't look into the Deck Of Cards. It's bad for your health.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: Yes, the Key can sneak you into football games. Doesn't mean it should.
    • Or women's locker rooms, for that matter...
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Joe and Jennifer post-sexual encounter. Inside of the Room, no less.
  • The Mole: The Legion has a mole in Kreutzfeld's security team, ready to strike... but it turns out Kreutzfeld has a mole in the Legion.
  • Mr. Smith:
    • Joe's not very amused with the pseudonym Jennifer gives him.
      Joe: "Joe Doorman." Hilarious.
    • Also, The Occupant has the name "John Doe" when in the asylum.
  • Mugging the Monster: The Mechanic with the Glasses decides to threaten an increasingly unstable Ruber, who responds by setting him on fire.
  • Mundane Utility: The Watch hard boils eggs., and when combined with the Knife, gives "a form of telepathy". Despite the latter function, Kurtzfeld uses it to hard boil eggs.
    • The Cufflink lowers blood pressure...maybe.
    • Presumably all the Objects can be used for their original purpose. The exception is the Comb, which when used automatically freezes time for the user when they use it... whether they want it to or not. Word of God is that the comb won't work for bald men, because they have no hair to comb.
    • Joe uses the Coat to protect himself from rain. The Coat protects him from a shotgun blast, because all of the Objects are indestructible.
  • Necessarily Evil: The Legion collects Objects via the quickest means necessary - generally theft and making under-the-table deals - to keep them away from the general public and criminal worlds.
    • It's worth mentioning that their code forbids killing. Then again, there are times when they were forced to kill out of self defense or desperation.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: Jennifer is seen taking a sledgehammer to a series of nearly-identical radios, because the one she can't destroy is the Object she's looking for.
    • This is also how Joe manages to stop the owner of the Comb long enough to capture him and bring him into the Room: he throws a bunch of similar combs to him.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The Occupant is a living Object, and like all other Objects he can't be damaged.
    • Joe unwittingly uses the Coat, A known object with unknown abilities, as a makeshift bulletproof vest. It stops shotgun pellets just fine, without a thread out of place, but still transfers the force into Joe's body.
  • Noodle Incident: The Event. Nobody can explain what happened, because technically, it never did. The motel never had a Room 10. The effects of the Event were removed from the time stream, but somehow they still linger as the titular Lost Room and the Objects.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Ruber asks Miller to see the Key; when Miller won't give it up, Ruber shoots his partner and threatens to kill Miller for it. Miller knocks him out with the Nail File and goes to take his gun from his prone body, which is when Ruber's wife walks into the room. All she sees is Miller standing over the corpse of Destefano and (possibly) her husband, forcing Miller to flee.
  • Occult Detective: The Sood studies the Objects and their history.
  • Papa Wolf: The Weasel and his mooks learned this one the hard way when they tried kidnapping Joe's daughter.
  • Paranormal Mundane Item: The Objects are perfectly ordinary-seeming items with bizarre and unintuitive powers, like a comb that can stop time, a canteen that causes everyone nearby except its holder to asphyxiate, and a pair of scissors that forcibly turns whatever they point at around any axis. They were originally entirely mundane items that were part of a man's luggage within the titular room when a mysterious Event transformed them, and they have since been disseminated around the world as people fought over them. The Objects are also indestructible, except when inside the Room itself. And even if destroyed in the Room, their power will simply transfer to another object somewhere in the world.
  • Physical God: Ruber believes he can become one if he brings all the Objects together.
  • Plot-Sensitive Snooping Skills: Much is made of the Objects' potential significance, what might happen if they're destroyed or reunited with the Room, and what happened in the Room. Despite the Photo and especially the Glass Eye, it's comparatively late in the story before anyone stops and considers whose Room it was.
    • In an interesting if questionable fashion, this is something of an Enforced Trope. The Occupant has no desire to be found, and he willfully repelled anybody in possession of an Object, and only the Sood had tracked the Objects' movements long enough for any kind of pattern to be detected. The Wedding Photo and the Polaroid never being shown to anybody else before Joe asked about them definitely helped.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Unsurprisingly, this happens a few times. The most notable example was Joe and Kreutzfeld's trip to the Collector's vault. The vault's "combination" was actually three Objects (Key, Scissors and Clock). Each of these were used to remove or circumvent obstacles specifically designed with those Objects in mind.
  • Reality Warper: The right set of Objects are capable of opening a rift in reality, which only the current Occupant can close.
  • Required Secondary Powers: When the Comb freezes time, the person using it gets motion sickness from the rapid change in time flow. They also can't move anything frozen, because time isn't moving for anything else.
  • Reset Button: How the Room behaves when accessed with the Key. Whenever a tumbler lock is opened with the Key, whatever changes were made to the Room are reset in the following ways: Objects are returned to where and how they were at the time of the Event, and non-Objects are seemingly deleted (actually moved into another iteration of the Room, of which there's countless combinations). This is a big plot point, as Joe's daughter is left inside the Room during one of its resets, and the rest of the miniseries is Joe's attempts to learn how to get her back.
    • The reset also acts as a Chekhov's Boomerang: while the reset is usually used to get an Object out of a safe, or separate it from a group of non-Objects, it's also used to get the fingerprint of one of the Collectors.
  • Ret-Gone: Room 10 of the Sunshine Motel was brought out of time and space along with the person inside.
  • Secret War: Members of rival cabals have been known to fight over Objects, and according to the Sood there have been full-out cabal wars in the past.
  • Set Bonus: The point of the series. Even just a few Objects can have powerful combined abilities.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of the miniseries, Joe throws the Key into the Room to keep it out of everyone's reach, then drives away with Anna and Jennifer. Only for the camera to pan back to the door to Room 8 (the door Joe used to access the Room) and for the door to open, revealing the Room and the Key inside. Almost makes you wish the miniseries went to full series just to see what happens next.
  • Shout-Out: Sort of hard to see, but when Joe discovers proof of the Occupant, he talks to a librarian who says he appeared out of nowhere, claiming to be her husband, and he presented her with a photo of their wedding as proof. Similar to the sequence from It's a Wonderful Life when George runs up to Mary in Pottersville, screaming that they're married. Shout Out? Maybe...
  • Spoiler Opening: Nearly all of the most important Objects are shown in the credits, with the only non-Objects shown being the mugshot of the Weasel and the black and white photograph of Joe and Anna. Of course, Joe himself is an Object by the conclusion of the miniseries, so that one's not entirely a lie. Also, the Occupant's (wife-signed) Wedding Photo is shown.
  • Synchronization: The Objects are presumed to affect probability itself just to get closer to one another. The one exception being the Occupant, who happens to have a will of his own, and chooses to repel other objects away.
  • Tragic Dream: Poor Kreutzfeld, he just wants to bring his son back to life by ripping a hole in reality...
  • Time Stands Still:
    • The Comb has this power — if you run it through your hair, it stops time for roughly ten seconds.
    • Inside of the Room itself, time appears to be stopped, with the window always showing what is probably 1:20 PM, the time the Event occured.
  • Uncanceled: After five years, the Lost Room is coming back in the form of a comic continuation. Sadly, the product has since been placed on the backburner indefinitely.
  • Un-person: The Occupant, formerly Eddie McCleister. By becoming an Object, his entire history is erased; his wife doesn't remember him, and presumably his identification no longer matches anybody registered in the world, leaving him a John Doe at the asylum he was commited to.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kreutzfeld, who wants to recreate the Room 9 experiment to bring his son back to life.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: When the watch isn't with the knife, it can hard boil eggs. Useful if you really like eggs, but not for much else.
    • It could also be a ridiculous stealth visual pun. Consider that a watched kettle never boils... does a watched clock?
    • Joe has this reaction to the Scissors (they rotate things) when he first hears about them. He learns otherwise.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: It's implied the Occupant is immortal, and he's not very fond of this.
  • Weirdness Censor: Despite having been around for 40 years, having caused countless deaths, and having several organizations dedicated to tracking / collecting them, the media, the authorities, and the general public seem completely oblivious to the existence of the Objects. Very little is said as to whether an actual Masquerade is in effect; in fact, Wally seems outright annoyed that Joe doesn't know about the other Objects yet. Joe, Ruber, and Det. Bridgewater all work for the police department, but never get their higher-ups involved for various reasons. All that being said, it's no small wonder the government hasn't swooped down and locked everything up for scientific (or military) research.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Harold wanders off at the end of the Comb segment and is never mentioned again, after he gives the Comb to Joe. The Comb itself disappears without mention after Joe uses it to stabilize Conroy. It would come in helpful for him any number of times for Joe.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Joe just walks into an encounter with the holder of the Scissors, thinking their ability to rotate is another useless power. He's nearly killed as a result. There's also a funny moment early on where one of Montague's cronies (who is well aware of the Objects' powers) wonders what Joe's gun does.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: With the help of the Quarter. But only if you swallow it. And only for the time it's in your digestive tract.