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Good morning, [Insert Name Here]!! You wake up bright, early and refreshed in...hmm. Where are you? You can't quite recall much of anything, but judging by the decor, you might be tempted to call it a woefully understaffed hospital of some kind. Maybe you're here for your own good, what with your amnesia and all. At any rate, surely it can't hurt to look for some answers?

You step out of the prominently-marked Quarantine Room and decide to take a stroll around. Something's not quite right about this place. There's cryptic writing on the walls in what looks like blood, the halls are strewn with corpses, the only other people you find are either trying to kill everybody else or getting slaughtered, and the people in charge are either completely out of touch with reality, utterly incompetent or helpless to fix a situation gone horribly, horribly out of control.

And why is the back of your hand demanding you feed it human lungs?

Welcome to the Crazy Place, my friend. It's your job to escape from it.

An Escape From the Crazy Place ensues when you have a protagonist trapped in a bottled World Gone Mad: it might be a hospital suffering an outbreak of the Hate Plague, an insane asylum taken over by its own inmates, an underground City in a Bottle, a spaceship under attack by zombifying parasites or generally any setting where a once-orderly (and sealed-off) environment has fallen completely into chaos and the protagonist, who is (or has good reason to believe themselves to be) the Only Sane Man, is tasked with escaping (usually with the lingering risk of releasing the craziness upon the world at large in the process). Frequently, the protagonist finds fellow survivors; less frequently do these escape, let alone remain sane. Worst-case scenario, everyone is out for themselves, and the depths of depravity will be plumbed as the survivors eat each other. Possibly literally.

The Escape From the Crazy Place is an effective Horror setting, but it can also be played for laughs.

A subtrope of Closed Circle. For the post-apocalyptic variant, compare City in a Bottle.

Examples of Escape From the Crazy Place include:

Anime and Manga

  • The CG anime Gregory Horror Show starts off with an everyman lost in the woods who happens upon a mysterious hotel in the middle of nowhere; he gets not only a room for the night, but the experience of his life as he tries to escape from Gregory House (not that one) and all its crazy inhabitants. In the end, he confronts his own feelings and manages to escape...only for him to realize how crushingly dull his life is and return to the House, not as its prisoner but as its willing guest. The second season has a woman going through much the same ordeal, but instead of solving her personal problems and escaping, she is consumed by them and becomes a permanent resident.
  • The King of Bandit Jing story arc "Seventh Heaven" has the eponymous King of Bandits intentionally landing himself in the titular maximum-security prison in order to steal a treasure created by the legendary magician Campari, one of Seventh Heaven's many inmates. Of course, said treasure has the power to bridge the real and dream worlds, and Jing ends up dealing with man-eating mice, the Ax Crazy mirror halves of a "saw a man in half" trick gone horribly wrong, and a giant dodo who learns to fly before discovering the tragic truth about Campari and freeing him from his prison, both mental and physical.



  • In the Time Scout series, most downtimers who end up on Shangri La either want to go home or go crazy. Only Jack the Ripper would dream of going uptime to the present and ruling as a god.

Live Action TV

  • The Prisoner. He is not a number; he is a free man, but the people at the glorified madhouse called The Village seem to think otherwise. "Number 6" is forced into their service as an operative, all the while trying to escape; things come to a head in the Grand Finale, where the minions of The Village gather together to hold a grand celebration ostensibly to honor his achievements, but when the mindless goons begin repeating his words over and over, Number 6 snaps and a glorious Gainax Ending ensues where he discovers that the mysterious Number 1 is himself in an ape mask and shoots his way out with two fellow prisoners to the tune of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love".
  • Tower Prep has been described as "The Prisoner Meets X-Men".

Web Original

  • Ben Croshaw's 1213 stars yet another amnesiac protagonist in a hostile hospital environment full of monsters and madmen. The twist? The protagonist is not entirely normal himself, and there's a secret the people in charge are keeping that turns the entire situation on its head.
  • The Trope Namer is the Choose Your Own Adventure Escape From The Crazy Place by J. J. Guest. The protagonist starts off in a padded room with a clown named Donald McRonald; wacky hijinks and dadaesque nonsense ensue as the unlikely pair attempt to Escape From the Crazy Place and thwart the efforts of the Bowler Hat Guy to keep them trapped there forever. The game is technically Unwinnable, though: there are clues that apparently lead to an ending, but they either lead into each other or are simply red herrings. The author admitted that he couldn't come up with a satisfying finale, so there wasn't one...but exploring everything the Crazy Place has to offer is rewarding in and of itself. That, and as one character subtly hints, you can "escape" any time simply by closing your browser...
  • MS Paint Adventures' Jail Break starts out like this, causing a spawn of fan adventures to adopt the general idea. The Ontological Mystery of the mental hospital is an extremely easy setting to pull off, though, which means most of the fanworks are, uh, uneven in quality.
  • Ruby Quest. Endearing, disturbing, heartwarming, heartwrenching, cute, cuddly, dark and bloody. A Girl in a Box wakes up to find herself in an underwater lab; a boy is imprisoned in the floor below. Employing her wits, she frees the boy, makes a friend, and decapitates a zombie. This sets the tone for an adventure full of mystery, madness, sweetness and High-Pressure Blood. And Body Horror. Lots and lots of Body Horror. Stitches (the zombie) is first encountered as a head attached to a bloody, snakelike mess of bones and organs, and his head itself splits open to reveal a gaping maw full of teeth. And Daisy, originally a sweet little puppy-girl, is mutated beyond recognition and serves as the story's first real boss fight.

Web Comics

Video Games

  • Planescape: Torment has this trope nested in itself several times.
    • It begins with the Nameless One waking up in a morgue manned by some very disturbing and morbid characters who are aided by pitiful zombies.
    • During the course of one playthrough, the Nameless One will also escape from: a nation of the undead; a slum of insane folks (by following worshipers of chaos through a painted door); a fake "dungeon" made by mechanical beings running a psychological experiment on dungeon crawling adventurers; a nonsensical maze containing a deadly witch; a town whose Always Chaotic Evil residents are sending it into an Epiphanic Prison because of their Chronic Backstabbing Disorder; Hell; and a fortress filled with furious shades. This list is not exhaustive.
  • Portal puts the player in control of a woman named Chell with no past, no personality, and no way forward except to do as the crazed computer running the so-called "Enrichment Center" commands. This involves running through death courses armed with only your wits and an unorthodox BFG which makes holes in the fabric of space-time that you can use in new and interesting ways. Eventually, you discover that the cake is a lie and you make a bid for freedom through a part of the Center you were never supposed to see, destroying the computer and finally escaping...only to be dragged right back into Aperture Science, while the credits song reveals that the computer is Still Alive.
    • The trope is used again in the sequel. It should be a lot easier to escape now the Enrichment Center is in ruins, right? Well, guess who wakes up G La DOS? Nice job breaking it, hero. However, at the end of the game G La DOS actually lets you go. This actually counts as a Twist Ending, considering the atmosphere of the game.
  • Henry Townshend of Silent Hill 4 is one of the rare non-amnesiac cases; in fact, unlike many examples, he's actually trapped in his own room, with the major mystery being the circumstances of his imprisonment. His front door is chained up and no one can hear him. The only way out is a hole in his bathroom, which leads him to a nightmarish mirror world populated by monsters: there are others trapped like this, but despite his best efforts, they all meet a gruesome end at the hands of the serial killer Walter Sullivan. Eventually, it is revealed that Walter Sullivan killed himself in prison, but not before completing the first half of a grisly ritual that has turned him into a sociopathic demigod; he is in the process of completing his transformation through a second round of killings, and Henry and his love interest are marked for death unless they can stop him.
  • The System Shock games have an introductory cutscene and that tutorial/choice thing, respectively, but the player barely knows anything and for that matter the characters are pretty clueless too, when the game starts. It fits the trope pretty well.
    • Strictly speaking, you're not trying to escape in the latter game, as there's nowhere to escape to if you don't fix up the FTL ship.
  • Bioshock plays a lot like this in the beginning of the game with Jack seeking the nearest refuge from a plane crash and ending up in Rapture, a city overrun with psychopaths and corruption. The first third of the game is his attempt to escape to the surface with the mysterious Atlas. He still is trying to escape the place throughout the rest of the game, but has some unfinished business before he leaves it behind.
  • The white chamber details a game describing the events of a girl who has just woken up on a space station that's missing its crew and has a weird habit of shifting into a Dark World. Your goal is to discover what is going on, where everyone is, and why you seem to be unable to remember how you got here.
  • Limbo of the Lost begins with the main character Benjamin Briggs awakening in a cell with a crazy man hanging from the ceiling as company, and has to escape. Most players will likely be clamouring to escape their own little Crazy Place with Alt-F4 about five minutes later.
  • Dead Space 2: You wake up in insane asylum, things get worse.
  • Corpse Party: A handful of students wind up in another dimension where a haunted school exists, they need to escape, and survive.
  • The Bright in The Screen. Having trouble finding yourself?... There you are! Continue to the right. Mind the gap.
  • Unreal I: You spend the game trying to get of a deadly planet after a prison ship crash, then trying to get off it again in the add on pack Return to Na pali.