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Welcome to the Black Bug Room.

Everyone has their own Black Bug Room.

This is yours, Scott.
New X-Men #116

The opposite of the Happy Place and the darkest corner of the Mental World, the Black Bug Room is the place inside a person's head where all of his or her negative feelings dwell and fester. A person's consciousness may get sent there when his or her mind breaks under the strain, or other characters may end up there by taking a wrong turn during a Journey to the Center of the Mind.

In movies, entering the Room is often shown with a Madness Montage. Compare Room 101 for the non-metaphysical version with all the same effects. Not to be confused with Debug Room.

Examples of Black Bug Room include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Animerica, Big Bad Kiyone is revealed to have an Enemy Within that was subsequently created from his hidden negative feelings on his brother Kasuse but we dont actually get a glimpse of his mind until next season when he is confronted by his evil side once Ron gives him a moving speech. From the looks of it, it consists of him being tied up in spiked vines to a black pillar in a purple-black hued room with his inner demon smirking at him in a sinister chair across the room. Here, it attempts to give him another Breaking Lecture but then...

Comic Books


  • This is what hell is like for the main character's wife in What Dreams May Come.
  • In The Cell, a lot of Carl Stargher's subconsciousness functions as his Black Bug Room, from the memory of his childhood home to the display chamber of grotesque dolls (which are actually representations of his victims).
  • The Hospital from Jacob's Ladder. Complete with grimacing eyeless anesthesiologist of doom.
  • Flatliners involves accessing a Black Bug Room during a near death experience. It turns out by the end that the characters are each experiencing a manifestation of their deepest personal guilt.
  • Inception has this in the form of Cobb's reconstructions of his memories. Specifically, of his greatest regrets.


  • In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Room With No Doors by Kate Orman, the eponymous Room (which the Doctor starts dreaming about being trapped in) functions as a Black Bug Room for the Doctor, although its actual origin and purpose turns out to be something quite different.
  • Black feathers and the yellow feather "Curious Yellow" in Vurt.

Live Action TV

  • The Attic
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Terrorform", a planetoid is transformed into a physical representation of Rimmer's Black Bug Room. It turns out to be designed to represent his entire Mental World. Unfortunately, most of Rimmer's psyche is Black Bug Room.
  • Glory's description of the madness she induces to Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer strongly suggests this.

 Glory: Think about it. You think your hand hurts? Imagine what you'd feel with my fingers wiggling in your brain. (Tara looks very scared) It doesn't kill you. What it does ... is make you feel like you're in a noisy little dark room ... (Glory frowns and fidgets uncomfortably) naked and ashamed ... and there are things in the dark that need to hurt you because you're bad ... little pinching things that go in your ears ... (Tara begins to cry) and crawl on the inside of your skull. And you know ... that if the noise and the crawling would stop ... that you could remember how to get out. But you never, ever will.

  • In Farscape, the episode "Won't Get Fooled Again" involves Crichton becoming trapped in a Mental World that becomes progressively Black Bug Room as time goes on, with plenty of repressed fears and insecurities rising to the surface in humanoid form. Ironically, for someone so traumatized, Crichton does a pretty good job staying out of his Black Bug Room during the rest of the series.
    • "Mental As Anything" gives D'Argo a Black Bug Room in the form of his cell on Moya. At the end of the episode, D'Argo's brother-in-law is imprisoned in his Black Bug Room, reliving his worst memory for the rest of his life: disfiguring the corpse of his sister so that D'Argo would be blamed for her murder.

Tabletop Games

  • In Mage: The Ascension, this (referred to as "the Quiet") is one of the possible results of botching a spell, especially one that relates to mind magic. The mage goes on a Journey to the Center of the Mind through their Black Bug Room and, if they don't die or go insane, returns cleansed of all their paradox.
  • Wraith: The Oblivion has a similar example known as the Harrowing, which occurs when a wraith is discorporated (takes enough damage to lose coherency). It's as much a struggle against one's own personal nightmares as a fight against some of the more insidious influences of Oblivion.
  • If you botch a Pilot Safety/Nightmare check in Bliss Stage, this is where you end up. Your Anchor loses control of the dream and the other players get to add personalized Nightmare Fuel to the narration.
  • This trope is the bread and butter of manitous that animate the Harrowed in Deadlands. Every time a Harrowed goes asleep, the manitou puts them into their Black Bug Room, with the purpose of weakening their will and eventually taking full control of their undead body.
    • Subverted with Jasper Stone. His manitou has no power over him and is himself afraid of him.

Video Games

  • In Psychonauts, a secret room in "Milla's Dance Party" is a cage made of fire with ghostly monsters behind it, whispering menacing things about a tragedy from Milla's past. Keep in mind the ENTIRE rest of the level has a bright, disco/party theme, and this single room is the disturbing exception.
    • This is the only time you'll get to take a good look at the monsters-you'll see them twice more over the course of the game, and you'll be busy fighting them both times. They're a representation of a person's nightmares. They're caged up here because Milla has iron control over them, which, considering what they actually are (dig the memory reel in the vault you find nearby and you'll see what I mean), is pretty impressive given how relevant they are to her current job.
      • The nightmares were actually originally designed to be Milla's personal demons, not as generic nightmares. The developers moved them to the Milkman stage because it didn't make sense story-wise for children to be attacked during a training lesson from a fully-fledged Psychonaut. Their design matches up with the tragic secret locked in her vault. Milla is constantly running this noisy party in her mind to drown out the nightmare-inducing memories of her childrens' cries as they died in a fire. Seriously, ouch...
  • The entire town of Silent Hill may be one of these. Also, the dark room full of literal bugs in the Historical Society of Silent Hill 2.
  • The entire game in Twisted Metal: Black is either Sweet Tooth's Black Bug Room or his Happy Place. He's so Ax Crazy, it's hard to tell.
  • In Second Sight, the interrogation room appears to function as this during John Vattic's flashbacks and visions. Or does it?
  • The elevator in I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, where Ellen is confronted by a biography of her traumatic life—and a reconstruction of the man who raped her. Whether this place is a physical reconstruction or the literal place within Ellen's mind is up for debate.
  • After being temporarily consumed by the Nightmare in Devil May Cry, Dante retreats into his Black Bug Room, where he fights off various monsters from his past. Well, that's what the in-game files said.
  • Drakengard 2 features this near the end of the game, when Nowe travels into Manah's mind to save her from a Heroic BSOD. It's freaky enough to begin with, what with the series of empty doorframes, and having to chase around the constantly teleporting Creepy Child. And then you have to fight a goddamn army of red-eyed black-and-red-silhouette things. And they keep coming. And then during the second stage, the background becomes row upon row of these things, just watching you.
  • Yume Nikki: The entire game. Other than possibly the rooftop and Masada's spaceship.
    • The fansequel Dot Flow has an even more disturbing case of this.
  • In Earthbound, the Sea of Eden in Magicant is said to be this.
  • Desmond finds himself in one come Assassin's Creed Revelations with a twist: he's actually exploring his own memories in an attempt to piece together his past and separate them from those of his ancestors so he doesn't end up like Subject Sixteen.

Web Comics

  • This is one possible explanation for the entire city in which Zimmy of Gunnerkrigg Court spends much of her time—dystopian, unmaintained, populated by people who drip black smoke from where their faces should be, and containing other such oddities as giant spiders, bottomless trash cans, gruesomely injured mannequins, and glass windows containing incomprehensible silhouettes of people and centipedes. It's even scarier when you discover that Zimmy can accidentally drag other people into it and that things from there can escape and start using those people as People Puppets.
  • Shelly's boiler room in Wapsi Square is a subversion. It is dark, unsettling, and occupied by one of the creepiest little girls in the history of fiction. However, the girl is easily the friendliest personal demon to appear in the comic, and essentially acts as a conscience.
  • Kano Jurgen's mind in Kagerou by Luka Delaney seems to be one giant "Black Bug Room" called the Zones where some of his personalities live.
  • In Blip, Mary, Hester, and Liz take a trip into Bishop's subconscious. In there, they find a room with infinitely tall walls, and every secret in Bishop's life is scrawled on those walls. In the center of the room, there's a small table with a laptop on it, which has a video that shows the trio that certain recent events were not all that they seemed.

Web Original

  • Happens during the AH Dot Com the Series episode "Craptastic Voyage", in which the crew journey into Doctor What's mind and are tortured by the nightmarish memory of his elementary school teacher.

Western Animation


  • Tangency, the off-topic section of RPG.Net, uses the "Black Bug Room" tag to describe stories of miserable events where the posters reading cannot try to stop things like that from happening again by doing something productive—they're just topics on the deepest of human fuckery (such as animal and child abuse). Inverted in that there are also topics on heartwarming subjects, described with the tag "White Puppy Solarium." Futuba imageboards often fill the /x/ sections with these. The Holders Series was born out of this.