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One of these doors just doesn't belong.

Our hero and his friends are wandering in an absurdly complicated place. Maybe it's The Maze, or perhaps an exceedingly long hallway with two doors. Either way, they are shocked to find that whenever they enter one of two doors, they go all the way back to the beginning! Forced to Try Everything, they finally notice something strange about one path, usually one of the following:

  1. Sounds or music are particularly audible near one exit.
  2. There is a lit torch or other light source next to the door.
  3. The door or other pathway features have received a Palette Swap.
  4. Or, you notice a character going down one pathway which just happens to be the right one.

The name of the trope comes from, but is not related to, the old Sesame Street song "One of These Things".

Examples of One of These Doors Is Not Like the Other include:

  • Paper Mario and Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door both had Type 2: the first in Bowser's castle, the second in the Palace of Shadow.
    • The original Paper Mario also had the path through the forest to Bow's mansion; each area had a different identifier that you used Goombario's field ability to learn.
    • Super Mario RPG used Type 4 in the Forest Maze. There's also a secret path through the maze to some goodies; you can get the directions from an NPC.
  • The Legend of Zelda loves this one.
    • The original game had two of these, the solutions to which needed to be purchased from nearby NPCs.
    • In Link's Awakening, the only way to get through the Wind Fish's Egg is to follow one specific route. And the only way to know this route is to read about it in the library.
    • Ocarina of Time had Type 1 (in The Lost Woods, leading to the Sacred Grove) and Type 4 (in the pathless desert leading to the Spirit Temple).
      • There were also trapped doors that would fall on you if you tried to open them. They could be recognized because they stood against the wall rather than in it.
    • Majora's Mask's doppelganger of the Lost Woods has Type 4: you follow a monkey. The path to Pinnacle Rock in the Great Bay Area is another Type 4. You have to follow a seahorse.
    • In the Oracle games, one such maze has several eyes embedded in the wall. You always use the door that none of the eyes is looking at.
    • In the final dungeon of The Wind Waker, a maze can be navigated only after Link kills the Phantom Ganon in each room and sees which direction its sword's handle falls. In the Forsaken Fortress, the correct path to the top of the fortress is marked by the lit torches.
    • In The Minish Cap, there's a graveyard with one of these. Signs in each area tell you where to go. After a few signs, though, they stop giving straight directions ("Left" or "Up") and start getting tricky, with things like "Same as two signs ago" or "The opposite of the last sign."
    • In Twilight Princess, you have to navigate The Lost Woods by following the Skull Kid and keeping tabs on where his light can be spotted.
    • In Phantom Hourglass, the only way to get through one island's maze temple is to first visit the local graveyard. This is actually a double solution. The inscriptions on the knights' tombstones provide the correct path through the maze, but the positions in which the tombstones are situated relative to each other also shows you the correct shape to draw later to open a dungeon.
    • In Spirit Tracks, one villager tells Link that he has to turn in the directions tree branches point in order to make it through the Lost Woods... but another villager tells him that the fourth tree "has no sense of direction".
  • In Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, you navigate one of these mazes by where the sound of dripping water is loudest.
  • In Killer 7, at one point you navigate by the sound of a singer's voice. Thing is, you can't do so just by listening. Instead, you have to switch to Con Smith: He's blind, so via Disability Superpower he can "see" the music as sound waves.
  • In Suda 51's next classic, No More Heroes, the final area ends in The Lost Woods, covered in fog, and it warps Travis back to the start if he takes the wrong path. Of course, he's guided by the ghost of Thunder Ryu, who points the way for him.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship is able to navigate through the Mines of Moria once Gandalf recognizes than one of the paths has fresher air than the others.
  • In the Black Forest subquest of Shadow Hearts: Covenant, you must follow the instructions of talking flowers to find your way through to the end. Different colors of flowers will tell the true way or send you on a path back to the beginning, depending on the order in which you talk to them. Subverted at the end in that instead of following the white flower, like you had the whole maze, the way to get to the boss is to listen to the black flower. If you listen to the white flower at the end of the maze, it will result in a Nonstandard Game Over as you get lost in the Black Forest forever.
  • The unbelievably awful SNES game Bebe's Kids pulls this on the player in the Haunted House level: There's essentially only five or so rooms in the level, and getting out is a matter of passing through the doors and bookcases in a specific sequence, with a meter that changes colour to tell you if you're getting closer. Just one false turn and you have to start over, though. And like every other level in this game from hell, it has a time limit.
  • In Seiken Densetsu 3, The Lost Woods offers a rather non-subtle version (but is missable). At night, the flowers leading in the right direction glow red. Pretty obvious to anyone who has played a game before, even without the characters in the game telling you, but can be confusing if you arrive during the day.
  • The Flash game Bowja the Ninja has a puzzle involving a maze-like cave full of doors numbered apparently at random. Entering one door leads to another cave full of numbered doors, and another. Attempting to guess the sequence just brings Bowja back to the start, and mapping doesn't work because it loops in odd ways. It's not any of the obvious mathematical sequences, like Fibonacci or the digits of pi. Anyone who wasn't a mathematician would probably have noticed that the correct sequence of numbers is written on the wall outside the cave.
  • In Kirby's Dream Land 3 for the SNES, one level has several sets of three doors. But if you use Kine (the fish) with the Spark power, you get this light bulb which reveals X's over the wrong doors and O's over the right one.
  • In some areas of Illusion of Gaia, there appears to be no door at all, but paying careful attention to the wind, or else the sound made by striking reveals the secret.
    • There's actually an area that follows this trope exactly: Will has to visit a set of two rooms and point out the differences between them to continue. These differences can be easy number or color of pots or hard the contents of a chest or the wind blowing through Will's hair. The chest one is particularly tricky because the rooms are completely identical... until you open the chest in one.
  • Wild Arms 5 has a brief puzzle section like this at one point: You're inside a square room with 3 identical exits and one slightly different one. Most of the differences are obvious, but the last one not so much: Shooting the pot next to the correct door gives you money, the ones next to the incorrect doors are empty. Bonus points for starting a random encounter if the short time limit runs out.
  • In The Neverending Story, Bastian gets lost in a maze for a while before realizing that he has to pass through the door that reminds him of the place he wants to go to.
  • Tales of Symphonia has an interesting variation on The Lost Woods in the elven forest, in that the screens aren't identical, but taking the wrong path will put you on a different screen completely at random. Fortunately, the guiding critter in this Type 4 isn't hard to find and activate. The correct path also never changes, so you can ignore the critter entirely if you've played it before.
    • There's also the teleport pads in the Palmacosta Ranch, which appear to be Magical Mystery Doors until you use the Sorcerer's Ring and discover that there's a shiny dot (which indicates a hidden item) next to the pad that advances you toward the boss room. Of course, picking up the item destroys the clue (unless it's actually a booby trap that summons guards on you), so you'd better remember which was the right way. And again, you can ignore it entirely if you've played the game often enough to memorize the right sequence.
  • The Clue Finders games commonly use this trope; but it's actually to test critical thinking. For example, you will be asked to identify what's different from the others in a few of the games' activities.
  • Devil May Cry 4 in the forest level, sort of. You have to make sure your shadow is behind you.
  • This trope came up in the original text-based Zork. A lot.
  • Nancy Drew: Last Train To Blue Moon Canyon has Nancy Drew find her way through an old mine, guided by a hand-held color wheel and the different colors of cave lizards that inhabit the passageways. Subverted in that you also have to search the paths that aren't indicated by the color wheel, in order to find all the clues to a later puzzle.
    • Some early games in the Nancy Drew series have you win a computer game to access someone's private files. The Game Within a Game is a maze, which you can win by always choosing the corridors that have a color motif you haven't seen previously.
  • The warp doors in Silent Hill 2's Nightmare Hotel. Only one of the doors warps you to the other wing of the building.
  • Karoshi 2.0 has one of these. Follow the trash cans.
  • A rather subtle instance appears in Space Quest 2, when the protagonist is swimming through some caves. At one point, there are two paths he can take. One leads to instant death, while the other allows him to advance through the game. Although this isn't mentioned in the game, in a published walkthrough guide called The Official Guide to Roger Wilco's Space Adventures, which is narrated from Roger Wilco's perspective, he chooses the correct path to take explicitly because it looks to him like it's the 'road more travelled'.
    • There's no indication which path is correct, but once you go the wrong way, you have the opportunity to turn back (and you should, it's a waterfall, numbnuts). Once you go the right way (an equally-deadly whirlpool), you lose control of your character immediately, which throughout the game has been an indication that the plot is progressing forward (usually). It's basically Fission Mailed: both rooms look like they will kill you after a long delay; one does, the other doesn't.
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has an ending level that involves running through a series of identical monster-filled rooms; progressing through them correctly requires looking for the doors that are surrounded by ice.
  • In Spectrobes: Origins, Slayso Tower has three different rooms with seven exit doors each, six of which lead to broken elevators and a Krawl fight. The correct doors to go through are (in order) the one with the different pattern, the one that you can hear wind through, and the one the Child Spectrobe identifies when sent searching (which most players would not have done due to the lack of hidden items in the rooms. Thankfully, if the player keeps choosing incorrectly, Rallen and Jeena will hint at, and eventually reveal, how to find the correct door.
    • The legendary weapons on each of those floors can similarly be found through the distinctive humming noise they make, which can be heard through the door.
  • In Secret of Evermore for the SNES, there's a forest that will either lead you around in circles or dump you in dead ends unless you only take the paths closest to a bizarre blue creature that appears on every screen.
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, you must must enter a series of doors in the Team Galactic base. Some doors lead to dead ends with trainer battles and items, and one leads to the next floor. The solution is to follow the doors with a motivational quote next to it.
  • Each of the Professor Layton games has mini-games you can solve during the course of the main story in order to unlock bonus puzzles, but one of the mini-games in Diabolical Box is actually required in order to finish the game. If you don't assemble the camera, you can't escape from the boiler room of the castle. There's only one visible exit (other than the door through which you entered), and the bridge which leads to it is destroyed. To get through this room, you must take a picture of the boiler room and find the three things in your picture which are different from the actual scene. As with all other photographable rooms, you are rewarded for this with a hidden puzzle, which you must then solve to open the door.
  • One of the puzzles in Jolly Rover has you using an enchanted conch to listen for ghosts singing my using it on one of four caves.
  • The first dungeon in Dragon Quest VII has a series of rooms that branch into four hallways. The trick is that each room has a mural hanging in the center showing a tree with four branches; you have to follow the path marked by a leaf.
  • In The Little Mermaid, the trick for getting through the final level was to go through the portals with flashing eyes.
  • In Final Fantasy IX, you are told that the Black Mage Village is found so deep in the forest that even the owls don't go there. The entrance is a repeating screen (it doesn't even reload; Zidane just walks through one entrance and comes out in another as though they were Scooby-Dooby Doors), and a sign in the middle helpfully informs you where there are no owls. You only have to go through the puzzle once, thankfully, given how many times one must return to the village.

Can you tell which door is not like the other
By the time I finish this article?