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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Move along, nothing to see here. No, really, we mean it. Move along!


Never provide a dungeon without treasure. The longer they search and find nothing, the more your players will be convinced that the treasure is bountiful and exceptionally well-hidden. If left unchecked, they will eventually dismantle and excavate the entire site in their search for loot.


Over decades of play, gamers have been conditioned with the notion that there is no such thing as an "empty" room — The Law of Conservation of Detail demands that if a room is placed in a game, it must do something of value, be it a scripted plot event or NPC, Dungeon Shop, monsters to slay, Inexplicable Treasure Chests containing healing items or weapons/ammo, Plot Coupons to pick up, etc etc. After all, programmers and writers have limited time and money to do this, so they won't needlessly create a majestic cathedral and fill it with ... empty white space to distract the player from more important stuff. Plus, why torture those players out for a Hundred-Percent Completion by adding loads of copy-pasted rooms with nothing in them?

The purpose of this trope is often to keep players on their toes, either by filling the room with enemies (essentially a trap room) or to get the above confused reaction. Players who run into enough consecutive Empty Room Psych's may overlook or ignore a new one, thinking there's nothing in it, which is of course the one that does have a goodie. Other times it is entirely unintentional, when the developers forgot to remove a room that was part of greater expansion. Then again, it could be the designers really do just want to give us a pretty room for the sake of it.

Now if you wander into an exceptionally large empty room, especially one with a nearby Save Point, this usually means one thing and one thing only: Incoming Boss Battle!

An Empty Room Until the Trap is a common cause of this. If not, you may be looking at a Sidetrack Bonus, lucky you.

Not to be be confused with the psychological study of being left alone in an empty room. When played for terror, see Nothing Is Scarier. See Cow Tools for a non-video game sister trope.

Examples of Empty Room Psych include:


  • Perhaps the oldest example of this is the Atari 2600 game Adventure. There is a dead-end section of three rooms where no items appear.
    • Possibly subverted in that almost any room can contain items in Game variation 3 (where all objects are placed randomly), and two of rooms that appear in Game 2 and 3 as dead-ends instead appear as important locations in Game 1 (where the layout of the kingdom is smaller and simpler). It's only in Game 2 that those rooms are entirely unimportant.
  • Subverted in Avalon Code. every room has at least three unique points of interest in them. Even in the cookie-cutter dungeon cells, the points of interest are all different.
  • The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past has a few rooms that lock the door behind you, make you fight tough monsters, then don't give you anything. Basically trap rooms.
    • A seemingly empty room in the fourth dungeon of the Dark World turns out to be important later. After bombing the cracked floor in the room above it, making light shine down into it, and bringing a girl you rescued into it, and having her stand in the light, she freaks out and reveals herself to be the boss.
    • The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages both have a few empty rooms conspicuously placed along your path which can drive a gamer insane until you realize they are only used in the linked game.
    • The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time had, not a room, but a hallway. Relating to a TON of fan theories, the "hallway" is in Zora's Domain. It can be seen as both child Link and Adult Link, but it is too far to reach with diving as a child, and as an adult, Zora's Domain is frozen. A certain glitch can get you under the ice and down through the hallway, only to find that it's empty. Before the glitch was common knowledge, many said you could obtain the Triforce through this hallway, or access the Unicorn Fountain, or achieve some other sort of goal.
      • There's also the hallway at the top of the Kakariko windmill that you need the Longshot to get into. When you get up there and climb to the top you'll find....a chicken. And nothing else. This is presumably to make sure that Kakariko Village doesn't lose its signature sound of clucking, but it's still a strange place to put it.
    • The giant egg in The Legend of Zelda Links Awakening contains an endless series of identical empty rooms. And, strangely, no matter how far you walk in any direction, the exit is always a short distance below you. By going through the doors in a specific sequence, you can reach a room with a hole in the floor, which leads to the final boss.
  • This is the reason one spends hours upon hours of exploring every nook and cranny in Super Metroid. Even though the game tries to throw you off with several apparently meaningless rooms complete with the 'dead end' background music. Sometimes there really is nothing there, but the player remains unconvinced.
    • When you get the X-Ray Scanner, you can finally be sure — a quick sweep with the scanning beam will reveal any false or breakable walls and any hidden items.
      • Towards the end of the game, in the hidden part of Norfair there are one or two corridors that seem dead ends even to the scope - until you run forward and see that that wall is actually just part of the decor and you can run right past it.
    • Most truly "dead end" rooms have enemy spawners, for easy (if time consuming) energy/ammo refills. Some false dead ends act the same way, so...
  • Castlevania games don't do this often. However, Portrait of Ruin has at least two.
    • Dawn of Sorrow has the piano. It plays notes, has two oddly-labeled keys, and has absolutely no significance beyond that it makes sounds. No items, no secrets, nothing.
    • Symphony of the Night has a few, including the one with the confessional.
      • The confessional room is needed to get a specific item for Hundred-Percent Completion. A specific useless item that can also be obtained using a Meal Ticket.
      • You can get grape juice which provides a few hit points. Late in the game, when your constitution is higher, it doesn't amount to much, but when you're first there in the chapel, you can just repeatedly collect grape juice (you can always tell when an attacking ghost shows up instead by the color of their outfits) to build up food items for mondo health increase. Though it does take a while, it's not useless: it's an ever respawning source of hit points, whereas meal tickets are limited.
    • Portrait of Ruin's empty rooms actually serve a purpose: to distract the player. Completing at least one quest requires the player to find a dead-end, seemingly empty room...and wait. Nothing else needs to be done, just...wait.
    • In Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, there's a secret room in the Pirate Ship that can only be accessed by Maria, but is empty except for an unusable door/mirror. Appears to be for something that was Dummied Out.
      • In Dracula X Chronicles, one of the soundtrack records is now hidden there.
    • In Simon's Quest, if you go past the stairway to the final town, you end up in a swampy dead-end area with a weird green color palette not used anywhere else in the game. There is nothing significant here.
      • It's not quite a dead end: there is a hidden staircase, but it's invisible.
      • The final town itself is a ghost town with nothing in any of the rooms except for a man who says "Let's live here together". The other towns have many useless rooms as well.
    • The original Castlevania had a very odd, if not unique, version of the empty room psych: the manual itself told you to be on the lookout for hidden doors to...well, it didn't say what kind of rooms specifically, but it doesn't matter, because in twenty-four years no one has ever found any such secret doors, because they aren't there. It's still a mystery why the manual even said they were there. So you could say this was a nonexistent room psych.
  • The Goonies II has many useless rooms (most with various people giving useless advice, like an old lady who's lost her glasses, or someone saying that it's fun to play the game) and one completely empty room. Lampshaded at one point by an Eskimo in the ice cave. "I'm Eskimo. There's nothing here." The empty-room dilemma manages to combine with another one — the hidden-object/passageway dilemma — to make the game a nightmare for first-time players who are completionists. Mikey has three tools he can use during the "3D" portions (fist, hammer and glasses) to either make items appear or to make a doorway in a wall/floor/ceiling. Also, in the side-scrolling portions, Mikey has very short-range bombs he can use to locate doorways. All of these factors come together into making quite possibly the most frustrating Metroidvania ever.
  • The Legacy of Kain games have a lot of these, mainly because lots of the content was cut, leaving areas you can get to, but not leading anywhere. There's even a site about exploring them.
  • Shadow of the Colossus averts this Trope to legendary degree by filling one of the largest open space virtual worlds ever with almost nothing but Scenery Porn. There are only 16 enemies in the entire game and unless you get horribly lost, you will only visit half the map getting to them. The remaining half is miles of gorgeous open fields, dark valleys, caves, ruins, cliffs, lakes, deserts, and mountains, all fully explorable and stuffed to the brim with absolutely nothing. However, there are several minor and mostly pointless features scattered around the map.
    • Eating white lizard tails increases your strength and eating fruit increases your maximum health. They are in fixed locations but will continually respawn so it doesn't qualify as a Treasure Hunt sidequest. Lizards are usually (but not exclusively) located at the shrines where you can save your game. The fruit grows on trees.
    • If you increase your stamina enough you can make it to the secret garden on top of the temple. There you will find an extra special fruit that will affect your maximum health much more dramatically than regular fruit. Unfortunately, in the negative direction.
      • While making your way to the Garden you will pass the very, very long bridge Wander first used to access the temple. If you muster the boredom patience it takes to traverse it you will come to the one and only entrance/exit to the sealed land. A tremendous wind prevents you from walking through. As time wasters go it's a pretty respectable one.
    • There is wildlife to be found. Hawks will buzz you as you ride your horse. If they fly close enough you can grab them for a short glide. The same goes for the doves hanging out back at Mono's place. If you happen to see any fish they can also be grabbed for a ride. Normal lizards everywhere can be killed and eaten to regain health but your health regenerates anyway so why bother? Here and there an invincible turtle.
    • In the 5C section of the map you will find the only genuine Easter Egg in the entire game. Near the shine there is a path down the cliff. Follow it and you will find the beach where Yorda and the horned boy washed up at the end of Ico.
  • The Lord of the Rings game for the SNES was filled with enormous, sprawling, gigantic... repeating screens. Literally ninety percent of every dungeon is absolutely worthless and serves no purpose other than confusing the hell out of you and getting you lost. And because of lazy graphics design, every room looks the same. Half the time, you think you're going in a circle, but you're not. It's just another goddamn empty room that looks just like the empty room you passed through a few minutes ago.
  • Ys Book I and II has a meaningless alcove at the entrance to the Shrine, and an empty room behind the boss room in the Abandoned Mine. The Cavern of Rasteenie and Solomon Shrine in Book II also have many useless dead-end rooms.
  • Enter the Matrix had an Empty Level Psych. One level in the vampire mansion consisted of walking from one door to another in the same room, then loading the next level. Considering how dodgy the game was, chances are it was just oversight on someone's part.
  • The .hack series contains a well-known example in an area (field) named Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground - the Hulle Granz Cathedral. It is an entirely vacant map, originally with a constantly overcast night sky, with a single short stone walkway leading from the cathedral to the middle of nowhere, around which was a lake of mist as far as the eye could see. There is absolutely nothing there and it serves no perceivable purpose in the MMO The World as it currently exists. Despite that, every subseries of the .hack franchise has featured a plot-relevant visit to the cathedral and many plot-relevant events have occurred there.
    • .hack//SIGN: Analysis of "he Epitaph of Twilight by clever players discerns that the field was Navel of Lake in the epic. Use of a Fairy Ocarina (which maps a dungeon level) or similar ability of the Wavemaster class reveals a hidden Chaos Gate (the cloudy sky and misty lake also cleared up temporarily; only the lake of mist returned). The hidden gate went to another hidden field where one of the many copies of AI Hardald Hoerwick resides, forever repeating the same message. The final battle before Aura wakes up occurs in the cathedral.
      • In-universe in-game rumors attest that "Navel of Lake" was a Root Town or a special event field in the beta of The World, the simulation called Fragment.
    • .hack//(games): In the cathedral, BlackRose's brother was defeated by an infected monster and was sent into a coma (also, Kite fights a low-level normal monster; since there are supposed to be no encounters on that field, it is never explained). It is also the field where Kite first reads the Data Drain skill book Aura meant to give to Orca. Various visits to the cathedral reveal Flashbacks to the anime and plot-important character interactions.
    • .hack//ROOTS: Shino takes Haseo to the cathedral to explain the existence of Lost Worlds - fields not normally accessible to normal players that serve no purpose in The World R:2 - and it also thrown into a coma by Tri-Edge in the cathedral, setting up the plot for the last third of the anime and the three following games of the series. Other Lost Worlds encountered in ROOTS are Hidden Forbidden Battlefield (Coite-Bodher Battlefield), Inverted City Megin Fi, Hidden Forbidden Sin Realm (World of Sin Ran Hati), and Hidden Forbidden Radiation (Arche Koeln Waterfall).
    • .hack//G.U.: As a cross-event between ROOTS and G.U., Haseo fights and is data drained by Tri-Edge Azure Kite in the cathedral and returns infrequently to encounter flashbacks, character interaction, and to talk with Aura directly; the finale occurs in the cathedral. Additionally, other Lost Worlds are encountered in the games; they are discussed here.
      • One important aspect of the cathedral is the statue of Aura: during the first part of the series, the shadowless statue is fixed by eight chains; when Aura is born, the chains are gone; the statue is missing during all of R:2 ("There used to be a statue of a goddess here. A goddess that existed in The World.").
  • Thief: Deadly Shadows had this as almost an entire level, and it was the creepiest thing. Throughout the game, you overhear people talking about an abandoned building called "the Shalebridge Cradle" that's supposedly more haunted than an Indian burial ground. So naturally, you eventually have to break in there. Since this is Thief, the player at this point has been attuned to trying to hear everything going on around them to discern where any enemies are. And there are sounds, echoes of mad men and children who all died in a fire (the place was an orphanage and an asylum... at the same time). But that's all there is: Sounds. Shifting shadows. A weird green apple that moves by itself. It's creepy as hell. So of course when you have no place to go except up the stairs, and the door to the attic starts banging REALLY LOUD, and you finally get the courage to open it only to find... nothing there? Complete Mind Screw.
    • Oh, but then you find a portrait of a little girl who looks like a minor character in the series up to that point. Turns out she's there as a (friendly) ghost because that "minor character" is actually an ageless Keeper who killed the girl ans stole her skin and oh God life was so much simpler when it was just robbing mansions full of guards!
  • The "Adventure Fields" in Sonic Adventure were absolutely rife with these; one particularly strange example is aboard the crashed Egg Carrier as Knuckles, it's possible to gain access to an area often referred to as "Eggman's Fun Room", a strange room of bright colors, a bed, and what appeared to be toys. The place served no purpose and wasn't even accessible to most characters, and was quite perplexing to some players.


  • Empty rooms are found painfully frequently in amateur Interactive Fiction. Many authors implement houses with bare-bones bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, and so on; smarter authors either make these locations more interesting, or omit them with a hand-wave along the lines of "There's nothing you need in there."
  • There is a 400-story skyscraper in Zork Zero, comprising nearly 2,000 rooms, of which only three contain anything at all — and one of those three is an Easter Egg. The puzzle is working out which rooms you need to visit. (The clues are in the Feelies).
  • The church in Shadow of Memories. Exists in every time you travel to, but is nearly always closed off or otherwise unenterable. There is nothing in there. Well, you can pick up an energy unit there in medieval times, but that's about it.
  • One of these was removed from Riven but can still be found in the code and in the background of one node. It takes the form of a bookmaking press on Crater Island (because, logically, there ought to be a bookmaking press on the island where they make books) that can be manipulated but serves no purpose. It was removed because playtesters kept assuming it was part of some puzzle.
  • Shenmue 2 was full of buildings with dozens of rooms and nothing whatsoever in them except for rooms that the player was told about anyway.
  • 7 Days A Skeptic from the Chzo Mythos. has a recreation room in the ship, with arcade games, books and an air hockey table and is pretty much the only room that has no relevence to the story besides decoration. Yahtzee's commentary on the special edition mockingly points this out.
  • In Myst, the temple in Channelwood is completely irrelevant to solving the game. It's just for decoration, and horror, what with the scary masks, the sacrificial altar, and the hologram of Achenar trying to speak the tree-dweller's language.
    • Much of the brothers' rooms are completely irrelevant to the game (rose to skull hologram anyone?). The only things necessary are the pages, and the page scraps.
    • ...and offering some insight into the lives of the two brothers, which is very important, since the player has to decide which of the two is telling the truth and should be set free. And, most importantly, the player must conclude that they're both lying bastards, and Take a Third Option
  • Inherit the Earth. Dear god, Inherit the Earth. You spend the better part of the game wandering through a town and finding out in which two houses there is actually something relevant.
  • Played to the hilt in Yume Nikki. This being a game loaded with Nightmare Sequences, you can guess what they're intended to do to the player.
  • Same goes for Yume2kki, Yume Nikki's fanmade "sequel." There is one room in the graveyard world that is particularly spooky – players call it the "weird room". All it contains is a long hallway with turquoise and green paint splotches and a small gray room with a weird, non-moving twisted creature on the floor. Not exactly an empty room, but the creature does not respond to anything you try to do to it in any way, so it may as well be a wall. There's some really creepy music playing in this area, but nothing actually happens here, and nothing changes when you leave. Well, at least 25 out of 26 times nothing happens, provided you walked all the way up to the thing before leaving.
  • Subverted in Safecracker, where what initially looks like a dead-end laundry room actually does contain the ceiling trapdoor that leads to the final goal. Your character at first assumes that this trope is being invoked as a joke by the mansion's late owner.
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. The "Sun" room is empty, apart from a submarine, but said item is useless the body of water it's lying in doesn't lead anywhere, due to the fact that building (not the Gigantic) you are in is in the middle of the Nevada desert, which aptly, is not well known for it's boating or swimming activities.
    • Not to mention that if you follow any of the storylines that lead to you entering that room, you are automatically killed before you can actually control the character to do anything in there.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island has the church on Melee Island - one of the first places you see...which is utterly empty for most of the game. Its only use is in the very final part where you are taken there automatically to stop LeChuck and Elaine's wedding. You can therefore play through the game without choosing to go into it at all.


  • One Knights of the Dinner Table strip includes the characters finding an empty hallway. One character mathematically works out how much time, money, and manpower it must have taken the builders to excavate thousands of cubic feet of solid rock, which leads him to believe that the dead end must actually serve some purpose. The group goes completely Off the Rails and hires a small army to continue the hallway, certain that they will find something.


  • Star Wars Galaxies has quite a few of these in every city in the game, including a theatre, the entire palace from Episode 1, a decorated beachfront with umbrellas, and a futuristic city-scape built on mountain tops with an impressive view. These do have a purpose in an MMORPG, as potential areas for chat, exploration, or deeper in-character roleplaying than normal games. Such empty rooms are expected and indirectly given a use as places that players can take their characters to get away from others or to immerse themselves further. Ever Quest, City of Heroes, and World of Warcraft also do this.
  • World of Warcraft initially suffered from this. The earlier games in the 'verse had established the existence of certain places, but the developers simply didn't have time to flesh out the entire world. Placeholders, Insurmountable Waist-Height Fences or other obstacles were added to (unsuccessfully) keep players away. Many of these locations were fleshed out in subsequent patches or expansions. Notable examples include Silithus, Searing Gorge, Maraudon, Dire Maul, Naxxramas, Karazhan, Zul'Gurub, Ahn'Qiraj, Mount Hyjal, Forlorn Ridge, Outland, Northrend, Black Temple, Icecrown Citadel, Ulduar, Uldum, the Emerald Dream, Grim Batol, Quel'Thalas, Zul'Aman, Gilneas, Blackwing Lair, the Caverns of Time, Undermine, Kul Tiras, and Old Ironforge.
    • There is a truly empty room in Silvermoon City. It has pretty scenery that matches the rest of the city but no NPCs, no items, no mobs, nothing. Several players have had their brains broken by the presence of this room that is simply there. Even when new trainers for a new profession were added, they were put in an already occupied room rather than in the empty one. It draws large crowds of roleplayers who find the empty room cool. Perhaps this was actually its purpose - to act as a playground for RPers.
    • Stormwind, Ironforge, and Darnassus have large numbers of empty buildings with no NPCs or apparent function. Also in Booty Bay, there's Deep South Tannery, which would be a place for leatherworkers to go, except there's no trainer there. There's nobody in the shop at all. Perhaps they'll arrive in a future expansion.
    • One conspicuously empty building in the trade district of Stormwind was later turned into an auction house to alleviate the overcrowding in Ironforge.
    • There are an unlistable number of Easter Eggs in this game that take the form of a useless but curious room or place. Some notable example would be Cut-Throat Alley, a small, named alleyway in Stormwind's Dwarven District with absolutely nothing in it, Challe's Home For Little Tykes, a random orphanage in the hills of Nagrand where a troll woman takes care of a few children and is rumored to secretly eat them, the crypt in Karazhan, a long expanse of tunnels under the tower with the nightmarish area called Pool of Forgotten Sinners (or something like that) which is a huge pool with dead bodies hanging upside-down from chains, and the Cleft in Teldrassil, a random cave southwest of Shadowglen which apparently only serves as a shortcut for attackers to enter the night elf starting area. There's also the abandoned Tauren village on the outer shores of Silithus, the random and useless Dwarf farm on the eastern shore of Arathi Highlands, and Newman's Landing on the western shore of Dun Morogh. The last is explained as where all Alliance players briefly appear before actually starting in the game. If you stand around there you can see new players flashing in and out like ghosts. They also put a merchant from Booty Bay with two guards here.
    • Both Dun Morogh and Tirisfal Glades have an huge, completely empty area in the western part of the zone. It's possible to enter both of these, but there's nothing there. Although it's speculated that there's an Old God living under the Tirisfal Glades area.
      • Come Cataclysm, these areas have been revamped into Easter Eggs, the area in Dun Morogh is now home to dwarven sledders and a camp of black bears. The area in Tirisfal Glades is now home to a lake, extremely high-level animal mobs, and a ring of mushrooms where fairy dragons will occasionally show up and put on some type of show with them.
    • Newly opened zones of Cataclysm are more-or-less this to anyone who doesn't have the expansion. Uldum and Gilneas are accessible, there's just nothing there except a few mobs and critters.
    • There are also a few bizarre areas that look like they would be important, but no quests send you there. There's too many examples to list them all but a couple of them are a strange island off the coast of Darkshore, which holds a demolished house, a wrecked boat and a few things like an Alliance shield, a burning campfire, and a lit lantern, but there's nobody there. Another is the seemingly abandoned campsite in northeastern Deadwind Pass, likely added just for an attempt at Nothing Is Scarier.
  • Since City of Heroes makes heavy use of Instanced Missions and Copy and Paste Environments, there are quite a few examples of empty room psyche in the game. Most this takes the form of random offices and meeting rooms you may encounter on mission maps. There are certain places on the world map that really are empty and don't serve any purpose at all, like an outdoor Tiki Bar in St. Martial, the numerous floating islands in Ouroboros, and the "Emo Gazebo" in the Ski Chalet.
    • Also interesting are cases of empty door psych. Most missions are accessed through doors, and on occasion you may encounter a door that looks like it should lead you to a mission, but never actually does. Examples appear in the Midnighter's Club, the Ski Chalet, and even the Studio B room in the Architect Entertainment Buildings. It's possible these doors exist only to serve as "spawn points" for players logging in. (A player logging in will emerge from the nearest spawn point, such as a door or Hospital Teleporter). This doesn't stop people from wondering what the hell is behind those doors though...
  • In Gaia Online' Zomg! game, there are a number of areas that are empty or have NPCs that just stand there and don't say or do anything. Usually, this is because of the fact that Zomg! is still in its beta testing stage and the gameplay (especially the earlier levels) are still being redone and altered. For example, the Barton Greens stage once had a golfing minigame, but that was scrapped and resulted in a screen with a Scottish NPC that doesn't say or do anything.


  • There is exactly one intentionally empty dead-end in I Wanna Be the Guy. It's called the Game Over Room, from the decoration that matches the message you get upon everything succeeding at killing you. It's the safest room in the game-- in the Game Over Room, the only thing that can kill you is the suicide button. It even says so right there. Except it's not actually empty in the full game. It has one of the secret items needed for Hundred-Percent Completion.
    • The Ryu Hayabusa room has a fake error message box that falls and kills you.
  • Similarly, one of the World 3 fortresses in Super Mario Brothers 3 consists of a few very large, empty rooms (though there is a boss at the end). There is, however, a time limit--and no obvious way out.
  • Rareware are veritable masters of this. Perhaps the most notable is the empty pillar room in Creepy Castle of Donkey Kong 64; a room with a stone pillar in the middle, a hanging light, and what appears to be an open shaft pouring light down. It's only accessible by one character through a series of transport pads, has a balloon for 10 bananas in it, but is otherwise empty and totally functionless. It borders on Mind Screw if you try to understand what effing purpose it has.
    • It's worth noting that 10 bananas isn't worth much in this game. You need quadrillions of things to get 101% completion, but only about 75% of the bananas.
  • Banjo-Kazooie contains an inverted example of this, as the Game Shark 'moon jump' code revealed a large, empty room hidden under one of the toxic waste pits in Rusty Bucket Bay. Though this doesn't actually have a purpose in the final game, hackers have found leftover Stop 'n' Swop data that may hint to a former purpose of this room.

Real Life

  • Averting this in Real Life is the key to keeping most of your valuables safe from burglars. According to a former burglar, "If I can't find money and valuables in the normal places I usually find them, I would continue to tear the house apart until I found something."
    • As a corollary: if you're traveling in a strange place, it's smart to keep a "decoy" wallet with a little cash to hand over if you get mugged, and hide the real valuables (your passport, large cash, etc.) in a money belt under your clothes. Ideally the robbers will take the wallet and go away.
  • As the opening line suggests, averting this trope is probably the reason for the ubiquitous "The Page Intentionally Left Blank" pages.
  • The practice exploring abandoned places such as old condemned buildings is the closest thing a human being can do to exploring an ancient and ominous ruins in Real Life. Almost all abandoned buildings in the real world are nothing but Scenery Porn, or Schmuck Bait for getting fined for trespassing, and have nothing but dust and random junk inside.
  • Many empty retail spaces never get occupied.
  • In real life there is a lot of empty spaces with nothing in them.
    • Not unless you count the vacuum of deep space (which is still probably populated with photons and weird quantum things from your proximity as an observer). There is no natural place on Earth or under it that is completely empty.
      • It greatly depends of the definition of emptiness. If you want absolute emptiness, there is none in the whole universe. If you don't count elementary particles, energy fields and not too dense gases, then there are vacuum chambers, vacuum flasks etc. When you discard gases in general, then even a typical empty room is, well, empty.
        • If you want to get technical about it, atoms consist of electrons (an other subatomic particles) which orbit at relatively astronomical distances from the nuclei. Since such vast gaps exist between the nuclei and electrons of atoms, most of the universe is empty space.
          • Electrons do not orbit. They exist in a standing wave over the entire atom, and to an astronomically small extent, the entire universe. If you want to get really technical, according to the Many Worlds Interpretation, the universe (multiverse?) is a configuration space with three dimensions for each particle, and the only thing in it is an amplitude, which somehow corresponds to the amplitude of that universe. According to the Copenhagen interpretation, there are sets of entangled particles, each working this way, that combine and separate according to unknown laws. The closest there is to an empty space is something with zero amplitude, but these are infinitely small, and zero is still a number.
        • To put it into perspective, see if you can comprehend the distance between the earth and the sun. The distance between the Nucleus and Electrons are much farther than that, with the particles being far smaller in scale. To say that most of the atoms in existence being made up of only 99.99% empty void is actually an Understatement.


Western RPG

  • Avencast: Rise of the Mage has an area in the academy of magic with three seminar rooms you can walk into... and one, apparently unremarkable, that you can't. Some players nearly drove themselves mad trying to get into that room.
  • Baldur's Gate II averts this by allowing you to press a key when you're in a room. Surprise! All removable items are now lit up in a nice shade of cyan. This is only possible with Throne of Bhaal installed, though.
    • Certain mods that allow you to run Baldur's Gate on the BG 2 engine make this almost a Game Breaker: Some items are cleverly (read: sadistically) hidden in containers that are only a few pixels wide, and these items tend to be very powerful. Using the cyan-highlight trick makes getting these items trivial. One notable example is a powerful Ring of Wizardry, obtainable twenty minutes into the first game, and making wizards able to cast about five more spells than normal. No big deal for a 15th-level wizard, a huge deal for a 2nd-level wizard.
  • Divine Divinity does the same thing Baldur's Gate II, but with a twist: Many of the highlighted "removables" are useless, nearly useless or have obscure and unessential purposes- basically inventory fillers. Having rooms loaded with these gives the game extra depth.
  • Planescape: Torment and the Mosaic Crypt in the Weeping Stone Catacombs. The mysterious rusted vents, the worn-to-illegibility scribblings on the tomb walls, the suspiciously lethal traps and even one of the recently deceased Collectors (Gris: " smells different.") all suggest there's something special hidden in there. Aside from the massive, conspicuous sarcophagus with an enchanted hammer and some old bones inside, there really isn't. It's been one of the more maddening red herrings in recent CRPGs, most likely caused by the budget/manpower/time/sanity constraints so obvious in the Black Isle games of the time.
    • The chamber also contains an acid trap, possibly as a Shout-Out to The Cube, where a character determines a room to be trapped because of its smell (noticably dry air to be exact) and the same character's later death via an acid sprinkler.
  • Might And Magic IX was loaded with these, albeit somewhat unintentionally.
  • The Elder Scrolls games have a lot of these; since one of the main points of the games (well, at least, of Morrowind) was exploration, it's inevitable that a lot of the ancestral tombs you explore end up having nothing interesting in them at all.
    • Made much worse and all the more painful in Oblivion by the fact that there are usually highly valuable gems well hidden by traps. Not to mention these dungeons can be huge and Bethesda apparently adores secret rooms.
  • Fallout 2 has some areas where the copious amounts of searchable container are all conspicuously empty. But you know that if you don't search them all...
  • Fallout 3 includes the Dunwich Building, which has a hideously evil altar in the basement. Unfortunately, it serves no function whatsoever, leaving players scratching their heads looking for the purpose. It took a year and a half for Bethesda to release an expansion that addressed it.
  • Fallout New Vegas Fallout seems to like this trope. In both of the REPCONN buildings (HQ and Test Site) there are TONS of rooms with next to nothing in them...and a couple with thousands of caps of goods in them. Indeed, the Brotherhood of Steel bunker has this as well, actually, most of the game does. Such as the Tops casino, which has hotel rooms that are locked....with about 12 caps worth of goods inside.
    • Of course, this kind of a reaction comes from die-hard dungeon crawlers who adhere to the "treasure" trope naturally. In the game context, loot is quite reasonably distributed by its purpose and rarity. Indeed, the whole economic system of Fallout world is nowhere near to being worked out, but what the hell.
  • In Ultima V, behind the fireplace in the Jester Chuckle's room in Castle Britain is a secret ladder that leads to a room that has a dead body in it. Curiously, there's a prisoner in the dungeon who says "He didn't mean to kill her, and it was Chuckle's fault." But doesn't say any more on the subject and attacks you. Other than this, there is no other mention of this; and Chuckles has no dialogue regarding it.
  • An all-too-common failing with beginning Neverwinter Nights mod designers. Sometimes you can even run across entire levels with not even the weeniest bit of flavor text.

Eastern RPG

  • Pokémon Players have been searching the answer to the following question, ever since Pokémon Red and Blue versions came out: "What-the-hell IS in the inaccessible grass next to Pallet Town?!" The wildest theories have found their way to the internet, from wild Celebies (a Pokemon that didn't even exist in that game) over rare items to near invincible Pokemon on level 100...however, if you use a hacking device to cross the barrier in front of the grass, you'll find that inside there is just one thing: An Instant-Game-Over. Once you set foot in the grass your game crashes.
    • It is possible to get into the grass if you go all the way north to Viridian City, where the patches end, then use the walk-through-walls code to enter the patch of grass from the north, onto a panel of grass one tile beyond the east or west edge of the grass. Walking in it will encounter Route 1 Pokémon on Route 1, and (I think) nothing in Pallet. Walking far enough from Pallet will find...a glitchy version of Pallet Town. Kick in the face or what?
    • And the whole truck issue. There's a singular truck in the game by the S.S. Anne, that's only reachable if you learn Surf before having the SS go away. Since decoration in the game was rare, there were loads of rumours about it holding a Mew. The remakes FireRed and LeafGreen gave a Shout-Out to this by placing a rare Lava Cookie there instead.
    • In Pokemon Silver and Gold, you had Ruins of Alpha Cave. There was quite a story about those caves, a whole special type of pokemon & pokedex associated to it (Unowns & UnownDex) and even an odd radio-station playing. Yet, the players who spent their time exploring it and capturing all Unowns would eventually discover they had been wasting their time, since there is nothing special about it. This was changed in Pokémon Crystal, and even further in Pokémon SoulSilver and HeartGold.
    • The cathedral (officially called "Foreign Building") in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl has a special design and all, but there's nothing interesting in there, not even music. Some players go there so they can play music with the chiming sound on their badges or get Pokémon cries recorded. Silly, yes, but it has been done.
    • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: There's a similar, tiny cave right next to Fortree City in Ruby and Sapphire called the "Scorched Slab" that only exists to house a single TM. Hatching Pokémon in it will list it as a separate birth location, à la the above cathedral. While even the tiniest bodies of water elsewhere will contain Pokémon who attack when surfing or fishing, you cannot catch ANYTHING in the relatively large body of water you enter this cave in. It was widely believed that this cave would gain significance in Pokémon Emerald, but it remained as useless as ever.
      • Rumour has it that the Scorched Slab is a homage to the tale of Amaterasu, and that cave represents the one the goddess hid herself in the myth. And that would be the reason for having TM11 (Sunny Day) there.
    • A rom hack of the Generation 3 games had a similar truck, which would reference the original rumor if examined. There was also a patch of grass in Gold and Silver, similar to the one near Pallet, only accessible by wallhacking; there were actually Celebi in there.
    • There were many weird theories about Dark Caves and what happens if you walk through them without using Flash. As with many similar Image Board creepypastas, they were made up from start to finish.
    • There is an area that appears in both Hoenn and the Sevii Islands called Altering Cave. The only Pokémon you'll find here is Zubat. There was plans for mystery gift to change what Pokémon you could catch here, however in Emerald, all of the Pokémon (Mareep, Pineco, Aipom, Smeargle, Stantler, Houndour, Shuckle, and Teddiursa) can be caught elsewhere in Emerald and can be traded over to FR/LG.
      • Many of the areas in the Sevii Islands don't really serve any purpose. The ending areas usually hold a somewhat rare item or move tutor at best. The only exception is Mt. Ember which has Moltres.
    • There's a house in the Survival Area of Sinnoh that you have to go onto the route just east, walk through grass of tough Pokémon, use Rock Climb to reach the ledge above and run back into town to get to. When you get there, the hiker living there tells you that you just did all of that for nothing, but it was great to finally have guests for once. (At least, he did in Diamond and Pearl. In Platinum it's one of the three move tutor locations.)
  • Players of other Final Fantasy games will find the rooms in Final Fantasy II's dungeons strange — most of them are red herrings, not just empty but rigged with very high encounter rates. You almost always have to fight to leave the room. Final Fantasy I also has lots of empty rooms, but doesn't rig them this way.
    • Savvy players will abuse these rooms to do the game's equivalent of Level Grinding. In the remakes, where stat increases are much harder to come by, these rooms take on a whole new meaning as training rooms instead of trap rooms.
    • Final Fantasy IV throws some of these at you in the Sealed Cave. There aren't that many, but getting into one requires that you defeat a Trapdoor monster, which is very powerful and uses an instant death move which is almost impossible to avoid entirely.
    • In Final Fantasy VII there's a manhole in Corel Prision which only has an empty chest inside and that's it. No random encounters, no other secrets, nothing. Many, many person-years have been spent trying to find out why (especially given all the other rumors about the game).
    • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest: All of the cavernous "temples" on the southern continent. Absolutely nothing useful in them besides restorative items and one brief, optional encounter with the Old Man.
  • While there are more than a few rooms empty of enemies or treasure in Vagrant Story, they all at least lead somewhere, except for one room early in the game which contains only a few enemies and nothing else, leaving you to simply leave the way you came in.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, there's a tall building in Welgaia with two identical rooms on each identical floor. Most of them are empty. One potentially contains Regal's Infinity Plus One Greave.
    • Also in "Tales of Symphonia". In Palmacosta there is a lighthouse that you can't enter because the guy in front of it says that everyone who goes up there gets sick. As soon as the first people to enter Palmacosta saw this they swarmed the internet with questions about it. Some presented theories that a secret item/weapon/character/boss/ability was up there. Eventually people did some searching and found out that it was part of a mini-game (that didn't give you anything in the Gamecube version and a Title in the Play Station 2 version).
    • A popular theory was that Raine's Devil Arm was inside the lighthouse, as it can be found among the city's ruins after Palmacosta gets destroyed mid-to-late game.
  • In the first Paper Mario game, there's a room in Bowser's Castle (the very last dungeon) that contains absolutely nothing. To get to it, you have to push a block and expose a hidden doorway, fight your way through a horde of tough enemies, and descend down countless stairs, all for...well, nothing. As it turns out, pushing the block in the opposite direction leads you to the room you really need.
    • Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door also contains an empty house in Twilight Town. Nobody lives there and it's never significant to the plot. There are two small, oddly-colored squares (pink and purple) sitting on a bookshelf there, but it's impossible to get to them.
      • The squares on the bookshelf are not unique. They're in most houses in Twilight Town. This only adds to the weirdness. It's possible that it was meant for Beldam and Marilyn to be found there, since after the game, they're friendly (or at least no longer hostile) toward Mario and aren't found anywhere else (they would also seem to fit in in a place like Twilight Town), but they aren't there. Considering that Twilight Town is meant to be creepy (and some think it is) its current use may be an attempt at Nothing Is Scarier, just to confuse the player.
    • There are a couple places in Rogueport that serve no important purpose. The house in the background of the flooded sewer area contains a single Star Piece and nothing else. The weird little enclave next to the harbor contains a single Star Piece and a badge. Nobody seems to live in either of these places and, but there's evidence that somebody does and they just sort of went missing or something.
  • Breath of Fire The area where you got the cleansing water is also the location leading to the Agni transformation.
  • In Seiken Densetsu III, in the town of Astoria, there is a house in the top-right corner of the map. Inside the house is... nothing. Just a single room. No treasure, no NPCs, no character monologues, nothing. It serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever and is the only house in the entire game not to feature at least a token NPC. This is somewhat vindicated by a minor battle occurring in the house during an eerie revisit of Astoria, in one of the game's three final gauntlets.
  • Most of Crisis Core's mission dungeons are made of this. Most would only contain 2 or 3 treasure boxes. Some of the missions on the large plains even contain none.
  • Sailor Moon Another Story does this massively, and often in no-encounter settings. The hospital, elementary school and university in Tokyo have many repeated identical rooms with nothing but background objects. Later in the game you come across towns and ruins with whole buildings that contain nothing. Even worse, there are many barrels and similarly-inviting background objects, and only three of these in the whole game have items (necessary for Hundred-Percent Completion of course).

Action RPG

  • This is one of the biggest complaints about Quest 64. Don't expect most rooms to have anything, lest you be driven to madness; the whole gameworld is mostly empty. Just don't get frustrated and ignore the conspicuously large patch of desert in the Barrens...
  • Dungeons in Ys games tend to have many blank dead-end rooms that seem to have no other purpose than to make backtracking more of a pain.


  • The Ramses Hed Docking Port level of Dark Forces Saga has a smuggler's ship docked with the space port. The goal is to find your way into the ship to plant a homing beacon, but when you enter it you have two choices of direction to follow. If you go left, you will navigate a seemingly endless series of corridors and rooms, blasting stormtroopers and aliens, until you arrive at ... an empty room. It's supposed to be the bridge on the front of the ship, but here's the rub: you're supposed to plant the homing beacon on the aft end of the ship. If you don't remember this tidbit, you're liable to spend hours searching for the switch, door, etc. that will end the level.
    • There's also two incredibly hard to access rooms that don't give you anything (possibly something was intended to be there; Dummied Out?) First, there's the prison level. You're given a code that will open the door of the guy you're trying to rescue. However, there's a cell that opens with a code that isn't written anywhere. Should you stumble onto it by trying different combinations, the door will open, giving you... nothing! Later, on Jabba's ship, there's a chute you drop through with a switch on the wall. With inhuman split-second timing, you can trigger a door to open... in the lower area you end up in if you fall into a hole in a certain part of the room (it's filled Gamorrean guards, the pig guys from Return of the Jedi. In this game, they're big-time Demonic Spiders material, very durable and their axes taking a lot of damage. Close quarters with a zillion of them? YOU WILL DIE.) Fight your way through what was intended to be certain death for the player, and you can get to a room... that has nothing.
  • Many rooms in the Descent games contain no useful items (or items you already have), and worse, are rigged with Monster Closet or Teleporting Keycard Squad booby traps.
  • The Marathon 2 level "Come and Take Your Medicine" has a large outdoor area that serves no purpose other than to get lost in. There's also a destroyable circuit that does nothing, and a door that can only be opened by enemies. "Nuke and Pave" also has a few redundant rooms, and the series as a whole has many "Locked Door Psychs"(doors that never open), and the occasional Dummied Out (inaccessable) secret room.
  • Killer 7: Despite the intense music in the background, nothing ever happens to you inside the Vinculum Gates.
  • Some maps in Team Fortress 2 are built as such. These are usually meant to be staging grounds for engineers, since the lone entrance makes it easy to defend, but lack of anything inside said room means the engie must leave his nest to retrieve precious metal to build with. These can also turn into serious Oh Crap moments if you take a wrong turn while running from the enemy and wind up in a room like this, with about a split second to realize the mistake you made before you're gibbed.
  • F.E.A.R. pulls this off with aplomb when you first enter the Armacham office building. You survive an intense firefight on the roof, and then... spend around ten minutes walking through a dimly-lit office building with nothing happening and you very likely jumping at every little shadow or slight noise. Worse is that there are signs of a struggle everywhere: broken windows, blood, the occasional corpse... but no indication as to what caused any of it. It's almost a relief when the enemies start showing up again half a level later.

Survival Horror

  • Silent Hill may be the one series entirely built around this trope, because the games (at least the early ones) involve psychological horror rather than full-fledged Gorn. Despite the fact that Nothing Is Scarier, an empty room is probably vastly, vastly preferable to a room with something in it.
    • In Silent Hill 1 there are several empty rooms in the game. No items, no monsters - nothing. Dissapointed, you turn to leave, when suddenly - breaking glass.
    • In Silent Hill 2 you're oftentimes forced to stick your hand inside dubious places, jump into gaping holes and traverse all sorts of Malevolent Architecture... and yet nothing will come from it. Then there's that one scene at the Toluca courtyard: the gaping, Sinister Geometry of the place, complete with a gallows in the middle, and the sounds of neighing horses stampeding in panic all around set up for at least a Boss Battle. You get a puzzle instead.
    • Silent Hill 3 has many rooms exclusively filled with monsters and featuring no health, ammo, plot points, nothing. Many players will remember that one room with the decapitated mannequin, or the one with the mirror in Brookhaven Hospital.
    • Silent Hill4: The Room literally and almost entirely takes place in an empty room.
    • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is made from empty rooms. Considering that enemies appear in scripted sequences built around major plot points and always signaled by a Musical Spoiler immediately turns everything else into an empty room expedition. The fact that the game manages to remain scary despite of this speaks boldly of its designers, though some might disagree on this point.
  • Galerians has bathrooms in practically every floor of every building the player can visit in the game. These bathrooms always offer at least one mirror that has the neat effect of actually reflecting the room and player (kind of a big deal in PSX-era games), several open stalls that cannot be entered or even looked into, and almost all (sometimes every bathroom you can enter in a building will) contain urinals. The player can usually "use" the mirror to prompt a thought on the current situation by the main character, but these rooms are otherwise universally useless.
  • There's an empty room in the original Resident Evil. No enemies, no items, no traps, no exits except the one you came in. Turns out it contains a key item in the playthrough with the other character.
    • Rooms like this abound throughout the series, containing nothing at all, a worthless item, or an enemy ambush. The music in RE 3's empty rooms is one of the creepiest.
  • Clive Barker's Jericho has so many featureless dead ends that the psych factor is worn off by the first third of the game.
  • Clock Tower: The First Fear has a few rooms like this, such as the mannequin room (Which contains nothing but mannequins, one of which has Bobby hiding behind it) and the trophy room.
  • Fatal Frame does this a lot. Granted, most of the rooms in the games will eventually have something in them, but it is often the case that the first time you go through them they will be totally empty. The games also make a point of having you backtrack through previously explored areas which will frequently be empty. It is really, really creepy.

Tabletop RPGs

  • One of the dungeons in the 80s Dungeons and Dragons adventure X3, Curse of Xanathon, features a room whose entire description is, and I quote, "This room is completely empty.". Guess which room in that adventure my players spent the most time in, apart from the climactic battle. They didn't quite go as far as the above Knights of the Dinner Table example, which may have been inspired by this very room, but they came dangerously close. Also makes this Older Than the NES, though not older than videogames in general.
  • There's one section in the World's Largest Dungeon that's like this. An entire region contained two dragons, an entire civilization of fish people, and some various other sorts and had between them: a pile of shiny rocks. 53 copper. some crystaline...forgable...metal stuff that EATS YOUR SOUL. And lots and lots of fish.

Text Adventure

  • Parodied by Homestar Runner's "Thy Dungeonman 3" game, where there really is a room that has nothing in it. It says so.
  • Parodied in Infocom's The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy text game. When you enter the engine room, the game tells you there's nothing there. When you use the look command it says, "I mean it, there's nothing to see!" Look a few more times and it finally relents: "Okay, maybe there are a FEW things to see..." And by few they mean about five.
  • Played incredibly straight in Glowgrass where a room is pretty much described as empty. The cupboards are concealed by touch panels.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • Grand Theft Auto IV has several empty apartment blocks with rooms you can enter. Some of them are occupied during missions, but there are plenty that aren't. Can be especially unsettling if the building has a lot of floors (like the plus shaped tower blocks) - you get the feeling you are being followed or that something is around the corner. Luckily you can escape at the top of most buildings.
  • Minecraft has caves that branch out into several paths which, most of the time, can lead deeper underground where diamonds and redstone ores can be found, lead to the surface, or even lead to underground structures like dungeons and mine shafts. However, some of the cave branches simply lead to a dead end with nothing in them other than the usual stone and dirt. Caves may also have an unnaturally large and circular-like room, but they serve no purpose.
  • Skyrim suffers from this as much as any sandbox game would be expected to, but most notable is the Headless Horseman, a ghost NPC who randomly appears and patrols an area during the night. He has little dialogue that he only says in specific circumstances, cannot be harmed by the player, does not lead to anywhere specific (except a few undead monsters) and is not linked to any quest.

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