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The two opposing armies have both realized that chest-high walls are the key to victory: every single battleground is littered with chest-high walls, everyone's bombs seem specifically designed to reduce buildings to chest-high walls, the Locust have developed technology to make chest-high walls rise out of the ground, and if all else fails, Mother Nature herself will step in and make rocks fall from the ceiling, forming chest-high walls!
Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, on Gears of War 2

It seems in certain shows and video games involving vehicles or characters with special abilities, the setting the characters reside was planned from the get-go with their mischief in mind, usually regardless of whether or not it would be useful to anyone else (say, for example, the people who live there). In the case of vehicles, for example, the town may have an abundance of broken bridges that can be jumped over, flimsy fences protecting places where cars aren't "supposed" to go, a strange overabundance of seemingly useless ramps, etc. Of course these could be considered Acceptable Breaks From Reality, but still, you have to wonder why someone doesn't complain about those bridges.

Now, if you want to get Meta, the world was designed with the main characters in mind, but Bellisario's Maxim means it's not that simple.

The polar opposite of Malevolent Architecture, yet you will often see both of them in the same place. Overlaps almost completely with This Looks Like a Job For Aquaman or Plot Tailored to the Party. Also see Theme Park Landscape (which can be both malevolent or benevolent).

Examples of Benevolent Architecture include:

Comic Books

  • Lampshaded big time in the first Secret Wars when Spider-Man spends a couple of panels wondering if all the Mysterious Alien Architecture he is swinging from was placed on War World strictly for his benefit.


  • The Spirit (2008) lampshades this; the titular hero feels that he was reborn as the Genius Loci of Central City, and that it aids him as he fights for it. He does finds plenty of convenient structures for him to Le Parkour his way around, and snow does tend to fall on Mooks' heads just when he needs a distraction...
  • Terminator: Salvation features a base built by an evil AI, who thoughtfully filled it with human-accessible control panels, walkways, doors, and computer monitors. Sort of an inversion of the trope, in that the place should require an inhuman shape/size and abilities to get around in, but doesn't. Maybe it's because of all the Ridiculously-Human Robots, but still mighty convenient for humans despite the obvious remodeling.
  • Banlieue 13 is absolutely full of convenient parkour architecture, the prime offender being a rope conveniently hanging down the side of one building.
    • This is a possible subversion in that the character using the rope did appear to control that building/area, and may have placed the rope there for this explicit purpose.
    • Moreover, the urban architecture shown in Banlieue 13 is pretty faithful to the actual architecture found in those ghetto-like "cités" around Paris. And since Parkour was developped in those "cités", it's logical that their architecture seems so convenient.
  • In Jackie Chan movies, it's unclear if this trope is in effect, or if Jackie is simply capable of turning any architecture to his benefit.


  • Lampshaded and discussed in Lord Of The Isles by David Drake. It's Benevolent Architecture that a building crumbled in such a way that one character can easily climb the rubble from higher levels to reach a second-story window—but it's Malevolent Architecture that said rubble blocked the front door.

Live Action TV

  • In The Dukes of Hazzard it seemed that every time they needed to jump over something with their car there was a convenient ramp (usually a dirt ramp, but wooden ones and even auto carriers have been shown as well). There are also frequent instances of backroad turnoffs, offroad shortcuts, and hiding places in the woods that are used to outfox or hide from the cops.
  • Pacific Blue had this trope in spades. Not only did Santa Monica have a strange abundance of drivers that don't mind Bike Policemen and women skitching their cars, it seems that every alleyway in the city has a plywood ramp, some of which seem to teleport out of nowhere.

Video Games

  • Chest high walls.
  • Dark Messiah featured a mechanic where kicking enemies into spikes caused instant death; why the enemies set up racks of spikes in their homes or gardens was never explained.
  • Paradise City, the setting of Burnout Paradise. While by no means the first driving game to include an open world for you to drive in, this is the city in which the trope is more apparent: Broken Bridges everywhere, flimsy "Private Property" fences that can be knocked down by merely touching them (and which the game encourages you to destroy), highways full of gaps in the walls, ramps scattered around for no reason, a rail system without any (moving) trains that seems to serve no purpose other than a shortcut, etc. All of this is heavily lampshaded by the game's DJ, who every so often thanks the "lazy City Works Department" for not fixing the bridges and highways.
  • In Chibi-Robo!, there was always some way for Chibi to get to seemingly out of the way areas, be it by cord, house plant, books, etc.
  • In Dead Space, oxygen recharge stations are never seen outside areas that will be exposed to vacuum. Apparently the Ishimura's designers knew exactly where the hull breaches would occur.
  • Duke Nukem 3D is awash with shortcuts, especially once you find a jetpack. At least one level can be almost entirely circumvented.
    • The two Duke games for the N64 are a combo of Malevolent Architecture and Benevolent Architecture. Much of it is ultra-realistic stuff humanoids understand. The twists and turns of typical video game levels arise from damage done to the environment by previous battles.
  • The benevolent architects of Glider houses deserve praise for putting so many air vents in the floors. Without those vents, players would find it extremely difficult to overcome the forces of gravity, an extremely vital task since, though falling wouldn't kill you (even in Glider PRO, where you could fall from outer space), landing on the floor was always deadly.
  • Almost any video game vehicle sequence that isn't actually set on a track has these, but the example that springs to mind are the Half-Life 2 vehicles. Oh Grandma, what conveniently angled logs you have!
    • Not to mention that all the pits you have to go into just happen to have ladders so you can climb back out.
  • Thank goodness Japan is entirely cluttered with Things. Arranged domino-like in straight lines.
  • The Knight Rider video games were embodiments of this trope. No matter how high-tech the enemy base was, there was always some way for the car to get in, do what it had to do and get out. Granted, it had all the usual gadgets, such as two-wheel driving to fit in tight spaces, but still.
  • In the Legacy of Kain series, the combination of Benevolent Architecture and Malevolent Architecture is at times completely baffling. The most Egregious general example: Why are there always craggy walls when Raziel needs to climb to a ledge (Benevolent Architecture), but on the other hand, why can't he just climb any wall (Malevolent Architecture with a flimsy excuse)? And when he shifts between material and spectral realms, why do things always change to enable his routes? Defiance creates even weirder situations. On the one hand, many elements of Benevolent Decay are justified, as Kain and Raziel travel through the same places at different times, causing the decay that later benefits the other. However, often these environments will have water when Raziel is there, and it will be gone when Kain is there (he can't touch water), with neither an explanation nor a logical assumption to explain it.
  • The Zelda series, naturally. Obstacles scattered around the dungeons (and to an extent, around the overworld) are invariably designed so that they can be bypassed only by using specific items from Link's inventory. Particularly the item of that particular dungeon, but items from previous dungeons are allowed. Never, of course, items from later dungeons. This becomes particularly obvious when the items get more outlandish; it's not too difficult to imagine obstacles where a Hookshot might come in handy, but when Link acquires the Magnetic Gloves and dungeons happen to include vast abysses punctuated only by rotating columns labelled with North and South polarities... The Spinner in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess is another Egregious example - the dungeon it's found in is covered with slots in the walls for the Spinner to slot into.
    • Again in Twilight Princess there are a lot of places where Midna can jump you around. When you lack that ability due to her being mortally wounded, there are ropes spread across the areas you'd normally need her to cross.
      • Justified however, because the second time around there were non-flying enemies that had to get around the area.
    • A small subversion in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. The first dungeon has a bomb-able wall despite the fact that the bombs are not acquired until the second dungeon. The second dungeon (also the only one accessible as an Adult) has a spot where playing the Scarecrow's Song and using the hookshot is required. Both have minor rewards not required to complete the game.
  • Wii Ware game Lit, ostensibly set in a darkened school, has windows that once shattered spill outside light into the room, providing a path to safely walk to the exit (or next light source). These windows are on almost every wall of each room, even the ones facing further into the school, where there should be no light from outside.
  • The Metroid series. One has to wonder why so many planets throughout the galaxy have areas that can only be accessed by beings who can morph into balls. Or be opened only by Samus's beams.
    • Parodied excellently in this comic.
      • Somewhat believably Handwaved for the most part by explaining that much of the games' environments were either directly built by the Chozo, or in the second game built by people who "borrowed" Chozo technology; so it is reasonable to believe that Samus and her Chozo-created suit can navigate them. As for why the Space Pirates and other places do this...
        • If by second game, you mean Echoes, then we know that the Chozo and Luminoth were on about the same level in terms of technology and even shared some with eachother, but we're not exactly sure just how much the two races exchanged with one another.
      • Prime 3 kind of does this offscreen, as the Space Pirates seems to use them to transport Crawltanks, and most civilisations have either insects that burrow or maintenance drones.
      • The doors are handwaves in Prime 3 by having "force shields" over them which are vulnerable to various types of weapon fire. Samus needs a specific type of energy to shoot the forcefields off - the actual creators, presumably, use a key.
      • The scannable lore in Metroid Prime 3 justifies the benevolent architecture on Planet Bryyo by explaining that a prophetess forsaw Samus' arrival and worked to prepare the area for her.
      • The games (at least the Prime series, typically via scans) usually try to provide explanations for why certain obstacles are present (some are natural, serve certain functions, and some are a result of environmental or structural damage). Samus can just be seen as improvising. It's strange, though, that many of the tunnels she goes through seem just big enough to fit through with the Morph Ball and why there are a bunch of places that require a spherical object that just so happens to be the same size as the Morph Ball to receive kinetic energy or fire said object.
  • Mirror's Edge is made of Benevolent Architecture. That and Le Parkour.
    • Particularly odd in that the city was designed by a totalitarian government that wants all parkour destroyed.
      • The timeline suggests cause and effect. The government, architecture and security forces came first and at once. Thus it developed that dissenters did better running from the police rather than fighting, and that the best chance for doing so in that city was on foot rather than on the road or in the air. Parkour then became unusually relevant by real-world standards, and so eventually the government made cracking down on practitioners a priority - encouraging them to support the resistance.
  • Both Need for Speed Most Wanted and Carbon have city roads that make absolutely no sense in the context of a functioning city, and are very, very obviously designed to encourage street racing.
  • Somehow everything in the Prince of Persia series that causes damage to a building will turn the Malevolent Architecture that would be impossible to traverse into Benevolent. Ages of disuse have created the perfect path for the Prince to climb and jump across.
    • Then again, one imagines the places would be even easier to navigate if, say, the floors were still there.
    • Failing that, it definitely helps that they taught Le Parkour to royalty in ancient Persia.
    • And let's not forget that every time the Prince turns into his Super-Powered Evil Side in Two Thrones/Rival Blades, the path forward usually has attachment points for the Daggertail to Instantly Knot itself to. You never see any of those (fairly distinctive) architectural features otherwise.
    • Going by the foot tracks on some of the walls, running on them seems to be a relative normal way of travel in Persia.
  • It's amazing how much stuff in the Ratchet and Clank series uses absurdly oversized bolt cranks to operate, considering that until the fourth game, Ratchet was the only character to be seen with the absurdly oversized wrench to utilize them.
    • The second game did have such a wrench inside a "Break in case of emergency"-like case, so other beings may use them. Why they use cranks that can be so easily activated to block access to sensitive areas, however...
  • The eponymous colossi of Shadow of the Colossus occasionally have things built right onto them, allowing the main character handholds, ledges, and even platforms to park himself on.
    • There's the fact that for nearly every Colossus, the surrounding architecture is just perfectly designed to reach the Colossi and kill them, except those that aren't anywhere near architecture.
  • It's amazing how convenient the architecture can be for Sly Cooper and his various abilities. Apparently criminals are fond of putting hooks randomly around to swing from, or peaks to land on. The only time hooks, peaks, and so on became dangerous was ... the Cooper vault itself, built by the guys who actually use the manoeuvres.
    • Sly learns the "Spire Jump" in the first game, a move that specifically lets him land on small points. The fact that there are random lines going across gaps that just happen to have said points is remarkable, but all the others he can simply run across.
  • Even for a war zone Sniper Elite has a lot of barriers and perfect places to snipe from.
  • Many stages in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. A particularly glaring example being a suspension bridge in Sonic Adventure 2 that had a loop in it. I guess they don't call it "Radical Highway" for nothing...
    • You have to wonder why Dr. Robotnik decides to fill his factories with rings, springs and item monitors...
    • One particularly glaring example occurs in Sonic Unleashed, during an early Werehog stage. The Werehog can hang from ledges and edge along them. There's a ledge that's blocked by a wooden balcony, so the player has to drop down so he can hand-over-hand. On the other side is a ledge with a staircase going up to a locked door. Below is a hundred-foot doubtlessly fatal drop to the sea. The balcony mentioned earlier is coming out of the side of the staircase, which is a blank wall.
      • To say nothing of Empire City's highways. Either Dark Gaia's release seriously warped the place or the highways were designed by the same guy who made the "Radical Highway" mentioned above...
  • Every Splinter Cell level has a way to get in a room/past the guards/to the objective without using conventional doorways, making your job a lot easier if you just look around.
    • Very easily justified, since that's how stealthy infiltration works: find another way. Not so easy to justify when Sam must infiltrate CIA Headquarters, which should very much be a fortress and...isn't. Or, in Conviction, Third Echelon HQ that probably would have done some remodelling after learning that Sam Fisher's coming after them. Of course, he had only started a few days earlier, and what kind of a nut would break into a heavily guarded spy agency?
  • The Thief games are built with this trope in mind, to make it possible for the player to sneak past guards and monsters without having to kill them.
    • Thief 2: The Metal Age, "First City Bank and Trust": The security camera / turret sets that provide much of the automated portion of the security were, as lampshaded by a letter of complaint in the Security Office, badly placed, and can be avoided if enough care is taken. Justified Trope in that the human security guards have no reason to help make themselves obsolete.
    • Thief 2: The Metal Age, "Casing the Joint" and "Masks": The first two floors of Gervasius' mansion have extremely wide corridors with shadowy alcoves, providing hiding places from the guards (who won't get close to you thanks to the corridor width, unless you mess up) and from the security cameras. The security camera / turret pairs that cover each such Corridor Cubbyhole Run also have blind spots thanks to how they are recessed into the walls.
  • The dungeons in the Tomb Raider games seem to have been designed so that, after thousands of years of decay, they would still be wholly accessible by an individual with the physical stamina needed to crawl along ledges, swing from poles, and grapple from conveniently-placed wall rings.
  • Tony Hawk games: Everything is a skatepark! If it resembles a quarterpipe, it will be one. Anything can be grinded on (except when not). Of course, partially a case of Truth in Television, as skaters don't limit themselves to skateparks, and try to pull off tricks in increasingly odd places, but any realism goes out of the window when you do your first powerline grind. Same holds true with most skateboarding games, as well as BMX and Snowboarding games.
  • Lampshaded in the 2007 Transformers DS game(s). Every driving/skating/biking game apparently is a patron of Convenient Ramps Inc..
  • In Hype The Time Quest, in the town of Torras (all four of it) there are some conveniently placed boxes that lead over a wall that nobody else would ever need to go to, especially for the hidden button that leads to an extra magic... as well as an unexplained ladder that takes you to a well out of reach platform into three people's yards.
    • And near the canal, a ladder leads to an (apparently superglued) platform that leads to a weird attic with no door to the house beneath it and two DOORS (big windows) that conveniently take you to the other side, ultimately leading to a hole in the castle wall that appears to have been built there, since it comes with a built-in woodern plank floor with another ladder.
    • There's also a button that takes some sort of elevator (I thought this was medieval) that takes you down into the well, which has more conveniently placed platforms that lead either to a treasure chest, a magic button (that runs ANOTHER elevator), and the other elevator that ultimately leads to the castle well, where somebody nicely left a ladder. These carpenters sure saw Hype coming, didn't they?
  • Grand Theft Auto not only has ramps everywhere, leaping some gave you money. Early in the game(s), this actually mattered.
    • Even worse in Vice City, with ramps going from building to building to get you to the rooftop spotlight mission objective. Never mind that at this point you -own- a helicopter.
    • Donut Advertisers in China Town Wars saw fit to arrange their signboards such that it was always in the facing a ramp to allow unique stunt jumps. Signboard makers must love the repeat business.
  • In the various Unreal Tournament games (especially the earlier ones), many of the Capture the Flag and Bombing Run maps had areas specifically designed to be reached with the translocator, mainly as a way of creating sniper spots. This could lead to very interesting ways (mostly involving dropping down from above) to sneak into an enemy base while bypassing most defenses.
    • Justified in that UT is the future equivalent of a reality show/sport, where the arenas are designed to make interesting fights for the audience.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, everyone's favorite loony bin is revealed to have an endless number of human-sized air vents and, apparently, the masons had a near-fetishistic love of indoor stone gargoyles.
    • Ironically, while the design of the asylum is beneficial to Batman when in the role of the "invisible predator", the mooks make it clear they find it doesn't make their jobs easier. Some even note that the person who designed the place must have been insane; and to be fair, Amadeus Arkham really was insane.
    • Don't forget, Wayne Industries contributed a lot to that place. It is not only believable, but expected that Bats would have the place built pretty conveniently for his way of doing things, in case of such a disaster.
    • The sequel, Arkham City, takes place in Gotham proper, and Bats can now grapple onto more than just gargoyles.
    • In both games, Batman and supporting cast can just push at a vent from the inside with their feet, and it'll just hang by its last screw instead of crashing to the floor. But only when it's necessary to do so.
  • In the Jak and Daxter games, there always seems to be a source of eco just when Jak really needs it.
  • Justified in the Family Guy video game with Stewie's sky hooks. He quickly makes a comment about he paid city workers to install them everywhere for his convenience. Doesn't explain how they got inside Peter's body, though.
  • Bomberman. Every stretch of land is rectangular, isolated, and filled with blocks in a grid-like pattern.
  • In the Naval Ops games, naval warfare and sea-based superweapons dominate the world, with only negligible (onscreen) contributions from ground forces and air power.
  • F.E.A.R. and its sequel. If it weren't for this trope (such as a convenient hole in the wall, among others), it would have been impossible for the protagonists to proceed through the games. The environments tend to be such that they are fun to play in, but would be extremely inconvenient for their ostensible purpose. Such as the janitor's closet with the unlocked door to an elevator shaft.
  • Jumper games. Yes, it's trying to kill you too, but all levels can be passed with mere jumping, flipping switches and pushing crates around. This gets weirder in Jumper Three, which takes place on a very distant planet.
  • Modern Warfare's buildings are all conveniently half-smashed and reduced to just enough rubble to function as a realistic-looking paintball course.
  • Even though you can dig and build ladders, you don't really need them to climb the mountains of Minecraft. They're rather short and at least one of the sides will always be a slope climbable by mere jumping.
  • Happens all over the place in the San Francisco Rush series of racing games. Sure, the streets are cordoned off for the race, but someone still overlooked those ramps, subway tunnels, spacious sewer pipes, and hills that are just perfect for shortcuts...
    • There are corkscrews and loop-de-loops built in some of these cities. Not to mention one track that has a mini obstacle course.
  • Track Mania United and earlier versions, in contrast to the popular Nations, has environments that are either homages to other games (Outrun, for the Island environment) or attempt to look and feel very realistic. Coast in particular has a rural French setting that almost looks like something out of Gran Turismo. Then you get to the loops and corkscrew jumps. The Bay environment is a Japanese city and you get an SUV. It also has construction frameworks that very much resemble quarterpipes and loops, actual loops in the highway, giant jumps and highway roads that head at a sixty degree angle towards the sky. Justified in that this is a stunt racing game, but compared to the obviously artificial Stadium environment of Nations, some of those environments feel off.
  • In the second game of Portal, there are ruins that are conviniently just ruined enough to give you a path out. Granted, you have to really search for some, but they're still tere. And one has to wonder about the convenient placement of the paints.
  • Somewhat explained in Scarface the World Is Yours. Half completed arching bridges making de-facto ramps and great short cuts. But doesn't explain the ramp happy ships in the harbor that just happened to be lined up well.
  • Mass Effect has a few walls and corners that are useful as cover but they are essentially optional, and the game can be easily completed without bothering with them, even on Insanity, but Mass Effect 2 takes this Up to Eleven, with far, far, FAR more of them, although this is almost required by the increased difficulty - even on Normal, trying to fight even basic enemies without cover will probably get you killed.
  • In a rare RPG example, Golden Sun is quite shameless about it, to the point that most of the time the easy straight path is blocked one way or another and you have to look for a way around, fortunately there are always wooden stumps, water ponds, psynergy-sensitive plants, the characters are genre-savvy enough to realize that they need an adept of each element and as many flavours of psynergy as possible, then again, the main goal of the game is to prevent/enforce the lighthouses from being lit, and those where designed specifically so that only an adept of the matching element would be able to get in.
  • In the Uncharted series, no matter what part of the world you find yourself in, there are lots of bricks conveniently sticking out of walls in all the right places.
  • Night Trap has this as an essential part of the gameplay. Who the hell puts false walls and smoke traps with bottomless pits in their house?
  • Double Switch. Eddie tells you at the beginning that he designed the entire security system with traps around the apartment, because the neighbourhood sucks. Later, Lyle the Handyman will set up some traps of his own.
  • Deus Ex Human Revolution has convenient cover available almost everywhere for Adam Jensen to optionally sneak his way through any level. In fact, the only enemies that you absolutely have to kill are the bosses. When cover isn't available, Adam can always pick up a box or a fridge (with upgraded strength) and place it in such a way that it can be used as cover. No enemy will wonder why a fridge is suddenly standing in the middle of a room instead of the kitchen. There are also plenty of Jensen-sized air vents with unlocked covers. All you need to do is crouch to enter them.
  • Team Fortress 2 has structures that serve a purpose, but just so happen to have perfect spots for snipers, sentries, etc.
  • Particularly Egregious all throughout Mario and Luigi Partners In Time. In the present and the past, throughout the whole Mushroom Kingdom, regardless of who lives there, you will find hundreds of combinations of blocks, gates, buttons, and passageways intricately designed for two spinning men and two toddlers with hammers to get past. It's not even probable by Mario universe standards.
  • Skyrim isn't too bad about this but a nigh universal example is the barred door. Most of the longer dungeons have a quick exit method leading from the end of the dungeon straight to the beginning (but barring travel in the other direction). Usually is a barred door or a retractable bridge.
  • The Assassin's Creed series takes what would otherwise be a blatant use of this trope and works it subtly into the meta plot. First, the Framing Device of using the Animus to create a VR simulation of the protagonist's Genetic Memory creates a handy excuse for all kinds of Gameplay and Story Segregation tropes: in this case, the Animus is specifically programmed to make the environment easy to move around in so as to improve the user's ability to "synchronize" with his ancestor's memories. The result of this is a vast array of conveniently located poles, ledges, and other environmental features that seem to be tailored perfectly to Altaïr and Ezio's free-running skills. Oddly, once Desmond starts acquiring these same skills via the "bleeding effect", he begins finding areas in the real world that operate in exactly the same way.
    • Reality Is Unrealistic: Many of the odd grab-points on buildings that you find are actual elements of the period architecture. Looking at Medieval and Renaissance stone walls you often notice evenly paced crevices in the rock, for example; these were attach points for scaffolding that weren't considered worth the trouble to cover up.
  • Arguably, Jedi Academy. Normally, the lack of railings and Bottomless Pits would qualify most of the levels as Malevolent Architecture. However, if you take into account the fact that your character has the Force, it generally works in your favor, allowing you to send enemies flying over the edge.

Web Comics

Western Animation