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Penny Arcade analyzes typical video game security.


Dr. McNinja: I don't know why the mayor would refuse to speak to me.
Secretary: He's not refusing to speak to you, sir. He's just out.

Dr. McNinja: He knows I can just appear in his office whenever I want. Your security means nothing to me.

Characters can enter the premises whenever the plot necessitates it, despite presumably locked doors or obvious obstacles. Any trouble they should logically run into seems to be deliberately not shown. Sometimes this is just a matter of not having enough money for a transitional set.

See also Key Under the Doormat, The Guards Must Be Crazy, Bavarian Fire Drill, Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, No OSHA Compliance, Unguided Lab Tour, and What's Up, King Dude?. Compare Unsafe Haven and Cardboard Prison. Unrelated to Joker Immunity, back when this Trope went by the name of Lex Luthor Security.

Examples of Swiss Cheese Security include:

Anime and Manga

  • It's sometimes fun to actually see how someone gets past what should have been rock-solid security. Some people go for a version of the Foe-Tossing Charge. But then, in the manga of The Slayers, a five-story building has been filled with warriors and magic-users fully capable of matching Lina in a fight. As the villainess gloats about her tight security, Lina walks in. She just used a flying spell to float up to the top floor.
  • Memorably done in the Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, when Kaiba specifically mentions sealing off all the entrances to the building with "steel shutters". Not fifteen minutes later Tea and Yugi's grandfather walk in with no explanation whatsoever. Naturally enough this is lampshaded in The Abridged Series.

Mokuba: But I thought I sealed all the exits? Oooh, I hate continuity...

  • In the first episode of Naruto, Naruto, a 12 year old boy who had just failed (for the third time!) to become a genin, manages to break in to the Hokage's office and steal a scroll containing forbidden ninja techniques. Lampshaded in Naruto the Abridged Series when the Hokage yells at a crowd of ninjas about it.
    • Earlier in that episode he was running away from defacing Hokage Mountain. Keep in mind that you can see it from just about every point in the village. Naruto is apparently a sneakier ninja than we thought.
      • That's the point. Natuto is Book Dumb, but he does have some skill.
      • Also, Naruto is on the authorized visitor's list for the Hokage's office. Its not that hard to break into a place that you have permission to enter.
    • In the manga, the ninja find him painting the monument instead of escaping from doing so, and he gets caught by the Third Hokage, but escapes by using the Sexy Jutsu.
  • Chapter 482 of Bleach: somehow seven masked men are able to boldly walk into Captain-Commander Yamamoto's office to deliver their declaration of war against Soul Society. Even getting past the front gate has in the past been shown to be very difficult and doing so unnoticed should be impossible, as seen by the commotion the heroes caused when they broke in an earlier arc. Yet these guys aren't noticed until they walk through Yamamoto's door.

Comic Books

  • While Smallville Lex Luthor's mansion security is practically non-existent, almost all comic book versions of Luthor are at least somewhat competent when it comes to security. Indeed, during the "Y2K" storyline (where Brainiac 13 seriously upgraded the city of Metropolis' tech level), Luthor's new, truly ridiculous security measures kicked Superman's ass.
    • Admittedly Batman still routinely walked through them as easily as if Lex had been living in a one-room shack with no door... but he's Batman.
  • It doesn't get played up much in The Movie but in the original comic version of Sin City, Cardinal Roark lives in a parish protected by elite federal agents. It is so heavily fortified, it has earned the nickname "Fortress Roark". Marv goes into great detail about how dangerous the place is... just before killing several guards with his barehands and waltzing into Cardinal Roark's bedroom.
  • In the first issue of Mega Man, Dr. Wily managed to sneak into Dr. Light's lab and reprogram the Robot Masters quite easily. This could be justified since the two were friends at the time, but Light never even knows they were there until the next morning.
  • Subverted in Ultimate Spider-Man, when Spidey tries to intimidate the Kingpin by dropping in on him unexpectedly, only to realize that the Kingpin put in shatter-proof windows to get rid of such problems. Makes the web head lose his cool. Kingpin doesn't even blink at the sound of Spidey hitting his window.
  • The Rich Mansion (as in, where Richie Rich lives) is an odd case. The place naturally attracts lots of thieves (Richie's family stores at least a portion of their assets in vaults built inside the house itself; either his parents don't entirely trust banks, or they have more material wealth than they can store in them, which might actually make sense.) While it seems easy for crooks to break into and rob the place, they tend to be caught later rather easily; so while the place has yet to be the target of a perfect crime, it does seem like, at least, the perfect target.
  • Scrooge McDuck has the same problem as the Riches with his money bin. It's a frequent target for crooks to rob, but never successfully.


  • In Minority Report, Tom Cruise's character goes on the lam, but manages to get back into the most secure portion of headquarters, using his own retinal scan. When he's arrested and detained, his wife uses his retinal scan AGAIN to break him out of containment.
  • In Serving Sara, the main character needs to get into a building with a security guard at a desk in the lobby. Admittedly, this isn't exactly airtight security, but his method of distraction is worth this entry. We see him looking at a tow truck whose driver is changing a flat tire, and then we cut to the lobby of the building, followed a second later by a flaming tire rolling past the guard.
  • Invasion of the Neptune Men features the Earth under attack from a group of aliens. The world is on high alert, scientists are working around the clock for ways to combat them...and a group of children can seemingly walk right into any military building without question. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode lampshades this: "Apparently the kids have level five security clearance."
  • In Terminator 3, it was never shown how the T-850, John and Katherine managed to get through a secret military base all the way to the well-guarded control room from where Skynet was launched. The novelization, however, did a Hand Wave.
    • Errr, it was shown. The base commander is Katherine's father, and upon being informed that his daughter had shown up at the gate with two other people and said it was an emergency, he ordered them brought to the command center so he could speak to them. You can get into anywhere if the commanding general lets you.
  • The Avengers 1998. The meeting of the Council of Minsters (a group of high government officials) apparently has no security whatsoever. Sir August and his color guard are able to walk right in without opposition, and walk out again unopposed after making extortion threats.
  • Mars Attacks!. The Martians are able to walk into the underground facility where the President of the United States is hiding after their attack. Not only are they not stopped, the Secret Service team doesn't even know they're coming until they appear.
  • Avatar almost gets away with the inverse of this: The only thing that tips Quaritch off to Jake and co's jailbreak is a gunship telling the base what it's doing, despite Jake's wheelchair.
  • In Daredevil, the Kingpin is surprised that Bullseye broke into his corporate office. When Kingpin asked how Bullseye got past his security, Bullseye pointed to a guard he just killed. Bullseye even admitted that killing the guard wasn't necessary, but funny.


  • Subverted in Anne McCaffrey's The Rowan. After the main character gets over their fear of travel she plans to pay a surprise visit to her boss, teleporting into his office. When her second in command tells the boss he arranges to switch off the security that would otherwise fry her the second she arrived (she's not the only teleporter).
  • Explained quite thoroughly in Good Omens: "Security bases are like beehives; they make a great deal of effort to keep people out, but once you're in everyone just sort of assumes you've been cleared by management and let you go about your business. Entire species of insects have made a niche for themselves this way." Other Terry Pratchett books expand upon this by noting that you will always be let through if you carry a piece of paper and stare at it angrily while muttering to yourself. Clipboards are among the ultimate disguises known to man.
  • In one of Kirk Mitchell's mysteries starring FBI agent Emmett Parker, Parker is accused of murder, being hunted by the FBI, and he manages to get into their Oklahoma headquarters. The only explanation given is that it's very early in the morning, well before office hours start. He even talks to an agent there and then escapes (the agent gets into trouble).
  • Played with in the second Deltora Quest series. The Shadowlands are a huge Mordor-like realm filled with the Shadow Lords servants, its borders however are completely and totally unguarded. The heroes mention out loud that it's not quite what they were expecting. They figure it out when a small lizard runs across the border but hits an invisible wall on the way back. Turns out the Shadow Lord is quite happy for people to get in, they just can't get out afterwards.
  • In The Dresden Files, Marcone doesn't even bother with security against Harry Dresden (mostly...) All businesses he owns are instructed to give Dresden the VIP treatment, and escort him inside immediately with special discounts and lifetime memberships. He also knows that a sufficiently motivated Dresden can pretty much destroy any nonmagical barrier placed in his way, so at his actual hideouts he makes sure that the walls are crazy reinforced, while the most dramatically appropriate doors are designed to explode into as few dangerous fragments as possible.
  • In Gaunt's Ghosts, in order to prove that only the Tanith are capable of protecting Mabbon, Rawne pretends to be an assassin and easily thwarts his bodyguards and breaks into his cell. Not only that, but actual assassins also happen to break in at the exact same time.
  • Bernie, in Lawrence Block's Burglar series, comments on how his uncle lifted a sign by pretending to be maintenence. Bernie himself often uses the clipboard routine.
  • Gregory McDonald uses a variety of methods to get Fletch in where he needs to be, and Fletch and Flynn discuss Flynn's methods of spying as a child in Nazi Germany.

Live Action TV

  • For all that Merlin's Camelot is meant to be impenetrable it is invaded constantly; even in the first episode. Merlin himself is able to go any where he wants.
    • It gets even worse in the fourth season. You know it's really bad when the villain says: "breaching the castle is the easy part".
  • Angel regularly lampshades how easily intruders can get into Wolfram & Hart without (immediate) notice. Indeed, after abusing this lax security for years when Wolfram & Hart was the opposition, Angel then discovered that their security didn't improve much even after he and his friends were put in charge of the W&H LA branch office.

Angel: Call security, put 'em on red alert. Nobody gets in this building without clearance from me. I want a guard at every entrance, every elevator, every stairwell. Cover the whole building.
Harmony: Okay, but you know how that never works?
Angel: Harmony!

    • And sure enough, it completely fails to work. In fact, the only result of Angel's order in this episode is to slow himself down, as he has to fight his way past one of the automated security systems in order to reach the facility that the villain is trying to break into. (And the villain, armed with magical security-bypassing measures, had strolled right through that same automated system a few minutes earlier.)
  • Frequently featured and lampshaded on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, often attributed to the villain's inability to find competent minions for security.

Spike: Do we have any security around here? Or have we finally found a restaurant that delivers...?

  • The Farscape three-parter "Look at the Princess" is full of this. Despite endless comments about how tight the security is in the lead-up to the Royal wedding, the various protagonists and antagonists have no problem carrying out various kidnappings, assaults and assassination attempts on each other.
    • Partially justified since the members of the royal family were in on some of the kidnappings and assassination attempts to begin with.
  • Nip Tuck season 5 is a major offender especially because the series is quite level headed and grounded in (to a point) reality. Colleen harassed Sean throughout half of the season, and in this time (from the point she is discovered to be an impostor) she managed to break into: the studio Sean was working in, his apartment to try to kill herself and die in his arms, his clinic (although it does have a flimsy security at best) in order to beg that he fixes her pulse, the Studio AGAIN, and this time presumably knocking out another minor cast member of the series he was part of since she took the role of an assisting medic within and in dangerous proximity to a blade, his apartment AGAIN to plant a BODY of a "rival" agent (she wasn't a real agent to begin with), and finally at his clinic AGAIN to try and murder him. That's made worse by the fact that she is an ordinary (albeit crazy) middle-aged woman. Not only does she break into 3 locations that ought to have some sort of security, she does so again in the SAME ORDER with apparently no difficulty whatsoever.
  • In the 2006 series of Robin Hood, the Merry Men seem able to waltz into Nottingham Castle any time they feel like it.
    • When Alan A Dale does one of his Face Heel Turns, he shows the Sheriff and Guy the passageways they use to get in. The Sheriff has them closed off. A few episodes later, this is forgotten.
  • Seinfeld has an inversion: Jerry would not let one of his own neighbors into his apartment building.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Shades of Grey", Jack O'Neill (who has been forced to resign from the Air Force in order to avoid criminal prosecution) is able to waltz into Stargate Command and straight into General Hammond's office, without security apparently noticing his presence at all. Now, he is a former Black Ops veteran and ex-second-in-command of the base, but it still stretches the bounds of plausibility quite a bit. In fact, all secret bases in Stargate SG-1 seem to have Swiss Cheese Security, from Goa'uld strongholds to the SGC to NID prisons.
    • The incident in "Shades of Grey" is actually more or less justified, as the entire thing was a Xanatos Roulette organized by Hammond and O'Neill, and the latter may have been secretly given means to bypass security and slip into Hammond's office undetected.
  • On the satirical Sitcom That's My Bush!, the Drop-In Character Larry is able to waltz right in the front door. At the White House.
  • Doctor Who: The amount of times that the Doctor has managed to wander into some top secret laboratory armed only with a smile and immediately start ordering people around belongs here.
    • Lampshaded when the Doctor and Ace found themselves wandering around Windsor Castle - walking towards the Queen:

The Doctor: Act as if you own the place.
Ace: What?!
The Doctor: It always works!

    • The psychic paper helps too, although not against places that are actually prepared for that.
    • It also doesn't hurt that the Sonic Screwdriver can open any lock, and disable pretty much any other security device, or that the Tardis isn't exactly inhibited by walls.
    • This comes up in the first episode of season 6, where the TARDIS landed in the Oval Office.

Canton: Mr. President, that man just walked in here with three of his friends and a great big blue box... [points at the Secret Service head] and that is the man he walked past. One of them is worth listening to.

  • In Mutant X, seemingly every time Mutant X wanted into Genomex (the Big Bad), they waltzed right in with basically nothing to stop them. Unless the plot called for one of them to get captured, of course.
    • It's partially justified since one of their members does have the ability to phase through walls and the Sixth Ranger who joins in the third season has invisibility as her main power.
  • The number of times people have managed to invade, hack, or subvert the Andromeda Ascendant is more than a little disconcerting. It can be hand waved a bit with the fact that the ship normally has a crew of thousands instead of 6 and that the people on board haven't had enough training to properly run it, but still.
  • The same thing happened to the Enterprise on TNG a LOT. One episode of DS9 even had Odo tease Worf about it. Seriously, in TNG only the bad guys ever enacted IT security pertaining to anything except the self-destruct. Forget circuit breakers, surge surpressors, seat belts, where were the PASSWORDS?
    • Deep Space Nine has nothing to brag about. The turbolift is apparently unrestricted, very often people who shouldn't be allowed in Ops unescorted (like Quark) stroll right in.
      • Quark had a box full of chips and rods with various security clearances. At one point it is revealed that with the Cardassians, he had higher clearance than Odo. In his case it isn't lack of security, it's that he's just that good at bypassing it.
        • Mind you, Sisko's office is in Ops, and he's the Station Commander, which means both civilians and Starfleet/Bajoran personal are allowed to have access to him at all times (especially Quark, who is head of the stations business union).
          • It's important to remember that DS9 is currently being used for purposes the original designer never intended. Having the commander's office immediately adjacent to Ops is no problem if you're a military base (on a military base everyone going to see him is cleared anyway, and that's where the CO needs to be). It's likewise no problem if you're a commercial station (because then you're not dealing with military secrets so the only reasons to lock people out of anywhere are safety or property-related). The problem is if your station is suddenly trying to be both military-secure and commercial-open at once, at which point the architect goes 'Make up your mind!'.
  • In Prison Break one of the characters finds the President's brother in a house in the middle of nowhere. After going to a lot of trouble to fake his death, he doesn't even bother to lock the doors of his safehouse and Robin Tunney's character just walks straight in. Though they try to excuse this in the next episode by revealing that once in, nobody can open the doors out again. Though surely it would have been easier to just lock the doors from the inside.
    • Actually, you want people to fall into the trap, just to make sure no one outside finds out what happened. And any cell phone calls are intercepted.
  • The titular building of Dollhouse was originally impossible to find, let alone break into or escape from, until the end of the first season. After that, characters seem to be able to get in and out whenever the plot demands it.
  • Subverted in Burn Notice whenever Michael needs to get somewhere. They almost always show (or at least reference) how Michael gets to where he needs to be and it's usually acting like he's supposed to be there.
    • One Season Two episode has him walk into a government contractor with a friend claiming he lost his security badge. After he's inside, he further 'sneaks' into the high security area... by taking a soda can out of the trash and lifting a handprint.
    • A later episode has Michael again trying to get into a government building in order to obtain something. He walks in pretending to be the weekend cleaning crew. However, getting what he needs requires him to trigger an alarm. How does he get out? He allows himself to get caught by security, pretends he's drunk (and cuts himself on the window he had to break), and begs security not to report it since he -really- needs the job or his wife will take away the kids. Security pities him, reports a false alarm, and escorts him to the front door while suggesting he take the rest of the day off to clean up/sober up.
      • And in a later episode Michael once again triggers an alarm while already having gotten what he wanted inside a high-security building (specifically, an Police building). So he slips on an Police jacket and starts yelling at people to find the intruder. Specifically mentioning that new recruits are trained to follow higher ups orders without question, so all he had to do was act like one.
    • Essentially, the show takes great lengths to avert this with the point it always makes being that getting somewhere is generally very easy (ultimately, all security has some sort of weak spot whether it's a keycard, a person, or what not). It's getting into the right position to enter or leave without anyone thinking you're not suppose to be there.
  • Most of the big mansions in Port Charles of General Hospital have this type of security. It gets ridiculous with Greystone Manor, the home of mob kingpin Sonny Corinthos. That many people who want to kill him, and pretty much anyone who wants to can just waltz onto the premises?
  • White Collar has Neal walk into a bank dressed as a maintenance guy, insert fake credentials for himself into their mail system, change into a suit and walk up to a bank employee and pretend to be a freshly hired new accounts manager. The employee finds the 'new employee' package he planted and assumes that HR simply failed to call ahead. When his security badge fails to work, she uses her own since new badges tend to glitch out. With access to the inner offices, Neal easily swipes a real badge, walks into the vault, packs his briefcase full of cash and then walks out. However, this is a security test orchestrated by the FBI and Peter later shows the money to a conference room full of bank managers to prove to them how lousy their bank security is.
    • He also pretends to be a sportscar salesman to get into the dealership's computer system, and actually makes a sale. The implication is that he could've a)stolen a car b)gotten lots of people's banking records, or c)done both.
  • The 2009 version of V plays this trope completely straight in the first season finale when Erica is able to waltz into the Visitor soldier gestation pool and destroy almost all of the soldier eggs with impunity. Why weren't any of the other fully grown soldiers guarding the chamber?
    • That can be justified, since the Big Bad was keeping it secret, and was worried about security breaches. But why wasn't there at least a lock?
  • Played with in Torchwood. Gwen Cooper traces the location of Torchwood by talking to a local pizza delivery place and had no problem entering their secret compound. The Torchwood staff finally admit they wanted to talk to her after they nearly bust up laughing at her "covert" entrance. It's later proven to be very difficult to get into (or out of) Torchwood Institute.
  • The Leverage team is very good in getting past security but they usually have studied the target extensively and do a lot of prep work first. However, in one episode when they are forced to improvise, they are able to lie, steal and bluff their way through three layers of security so Hardison can infiltrate the control tower of an airport. Hardison is allowed in even though the security badge he is using belongs to a female employee and the guards verify the picture on the badge against Hardison's face. They do not want to be politically incorrect to someone who just had a sex-change operation so they let him in. The consequences of this type of failed security are quickly lampshaded when Hardison almost causes an airliner to crash.

Video Games

  • Fallout 2 has the Navarro Enclave Base, whose beyond laughable security measures consist of a guy who merely checks you for a password, and, with some modest BS skills, you can get almost total access to the entire facility (which barely has any locks, ID Scanners, or any other security measure you'd expect from a high tech base), whereupon you can loot pretty much everything and walk out with no one blinking an eye, even if you're walking out in one of their Powered Armor suits and toting over half their now depleted armory on your person.
  • The second and third Resident Evil games take place in a zombie-filled city that's been barricaded by the US government. Despite this, people, vehicles, and attack helicopters regularly pass in and out without even seeing said blockade.
  • City of Heroes:
    • Although several semi-destroyed parts of Paragon City are sealed and only heroes above certain levels are allowed to enter, you can still find unpowered civilians—not ragged refugees, but people in obvious good clothes—constantly wandering around the ruins and cornered by gangs of superpowered thugs. Similarly, every door in the city will open to random passers-by, but heroes are not permitted entry unless they have a specific mission in the building.
    • Even more amusing when the civilian you had just rescued on the street enters the same building you were about to enter to clear it of bad guys.
    • And of course the same rules apply in City of Villains. Yup, you may be a psychopathic mass-murdering supervillain who eats people's souls for fun and profit, but trespassing... well, even you have standards, right?
  • In Mega Man games, this trope is played with. In some games you are able to just walk into Dr. Wily's fortress (some of the Mega Man X games actually teleport you into the final base). Some games avert this by requiring you to use your weapons to get inside and navigate some of the rooms. The "Magnet Beam" room from the first game and the platform hopping sequence to get in Sigma's front door in the first X series game are prime examples.
    • Gets particularly overdone in the Mega Man Battle Network series, as pretty much anyone can stroll into a secret base if they so desired. Sure, there is security, but unlocking it doesn't seem to be a hard task. Even after it's been shown people can actually lock a terminal from access. Only issue is the viruses.
      • MMBN could be considered the ultimate how-not-to guide for internet security.
  • Super Paper Mario: Mario and Luigi are able to sneak waltz into Bowser's castle just before he begins his invasion on the Mushroom Kingdom because he his minions forgot to lock the front gate. Whoopsie.
    • And that isn't the only Mario game where Mario is able to make it to Bowser's throne room with only minimal at the beginning of the game.
  • Golden Sun
    • At one point: The man who built the wall that's supposed to stop you had to take a few shortcuts in building the wall (and tells you how to get past if you read his mind). Even then it is only bypassable with telekinesis none of the builders would know existed.
    • In Lunpa, you have an invisibility spell, and in the second game's Kibombo Mountain sequence, it's indicated that Piers took out a lot the guards before you arrived. Golden Sun was generally pretty good about that.
  • Splinter Cell:
    • Sam manages to sneak into the CIA. The Cutscene shows him using a fake ID and regular clothes before shedding it for his stealth suit. For some reason, the CIA has plenty of dark areas for him to lurk in. In the PC version, he sneaks in from the lawn, using big, obvious fan vents. One of them he can simply slide up. The other one somebody left open.
    • Lampshaded when Sam asks how he's going to get his kidnap target off the premises: Lambert reminds him that Fishers support team pulling up to the loading dock in a black van is perfectly legit, so long as nobody spots Fisher as he climbs in the back.
  • Team Fortress 2: many of the capture-the-flag maps are basically military outposts disguised as lumber mills or grain silos and, minus the multitude of mercenaries, they have the worst security measures ever. Besides having all the doors left wide open (including one that looks like it could withstand a missile blast) and the intelligence just sitting on a desk in an empty room, there are lit-up signs pointing towards the intelligence. It's like they WANT it to get stolen.
    • Let's not forget the indestructible rail tracks and elevators that appear to be designed just for the purpose of letting the attacking team escort a bomb into an empty missile bay.
    • The fan-made map CP-Steel mostly avoids this trope by making the base capturable by opening the outer doors and eventually extending bridges, or being able to jump a bottomless pit.
  • Half-Life 2: Combine security measures involve force fields only passable by approved citizens or personel. Many of them can be shut off by pulling an obvious giant plug out of the wall or pushing the only button on a giant control panel. The giant and powerful Citadel has plenty of open windows that the player can jump into, and an elevator system that is easily accessible allowing the player to ride all the way to the top with little resistence.
    • You could argue the series is being ironic when it includes all of these easily passible technological wonders but thousands of impenetrable wooden doors.
  • Played for Laughs in Breath of Fire III at the McNeil Mansion. When trying to sneak in, you find a broken wall that they just fixed... poorly enough that when Rei leans on it, it falls over. Half the guards are either scared stiff or total screwoffs who don't care if you sneak in, same with the servants... one of whom even lets you use his bed as a Trauma Inn. Rei even lampshades this at one point.
  • In Star Wars: Battlefront, on Hoth. If the Empire tries to take Echo Base with a frontal assault, they're in for a fight. If a trooper takes a couple of minutes to circle around and enter from the hangar, he can often capture the entire base without firing a shot.
    • Played with on Endor with the Rebels. If you take a speeder and travel all the way around the map, and as long as no one sees you, you can pretty much waltz right into their shield generator building.
  • In Modern Warfare 2's Highrise map (depending on how skilled your opponents are) few people pay attention to the lower levels; this makes it somewhat easy to slip into the opponents base and start gunning down snipers focused at the map's center. There are a few points in other maps like this, but this is the most prominent.
  • In BlazBlue, pretty much anyone who ends up getting lost seems to find their way into Rachel Alucard's mansion. Despite her claims it should be much harder to find/access. "How did you get in here?" is practically her catchphrase.
  • The Penny Arcade comic used to illustrate the trope refers to Mass Effect 1, and it's actually rather Justified Trope. Any and all secure locks and computers can be hacked either by playing a Simon Says Mini Game or by slathering the aforementioned slime onto it, a paste of Nanomachines known in the game as omni-gel produced by breaking down unneeded armor and weapons. This simulates the process of doing some mental gymnastics to hotwire the device or using some gel to craft a perfectly suited "tool" - and characters can't even attempt to do either without the prerequisite L33t electronic or decryption skills.

Shepard: "Remember the good old days when you could just slap omni-gel on everything?"
Liara: "That security upgrade made a lot of people unhappy. "

  • Many times in the Pokémon series. It's understandable, given the capabilities of the villainous teams, but it gets ridiculous sometimes. Hell, it gets even more ridiculous with Team Galactic, as not only do they not make any attempts whatsoever to conceal the location of their bases, nor make them discreet, but the receptionists and all the other Mooks in the main lobby won't even act like you're slightly out of the ordinary. Hell, there's a locked door with a guard next to it, and once you find the key card and open the door that is clearly to remain closed off to outsiders, the guard continues to just sit there.
  • In Deus Ex most enemy bases are properly guarded. But somehow they always let some Data Cube with the passwords to their security systems lay around.
  • X-Com series, both for aliens and humans. The first games have potential entry points (Lift/Airlock and Hangars/Sub pens) spread all around the starting X-Com base. Aliens have nasty mazes good for ambush (alien gardens), but fail to guard the entrance too. Apocalypse is somewhat better, in that you can build a Security Station facility right away and have it working in 2 days, but the starting layout is no better - while Repair Bay is stuck next to the lift, it also stands toward the center of your base rather than on perimeter.

Web Comics

  • Molten Blade. Sure, they had a universal card key, but they were also shown bluffing their way past at least three checkpoints. Somebody really needs to be fired.
  • Nukees: At one point Gav breaks into a military base by claiming to be a pizza delivery boy.
  • El Goonish Shive: Elliot had no trouble breaking into the facility holding the Dewitchery Diamond. Recent evidence suggests that the whole thing was part of a Batman Gambit by Pandora Chaos Raven.
  • Nodwick: The title character gets the party into an enemy fortress by claiming that they are maintenance people. He comments that the Thieves Guild would be unstoppable if they invested in coveralls with 'Al' stenciled on them.
  • Quentyn Quinn Space Ranger, in the arc mocking Star Trek. "System, sir, singular. [...] you can access the reactor controls from the nursery".

Omnibus: Their security policy seems to be written by a dotty old grandam who keeps a copy of her financial information and her PIN number in a cookie jar in the kitchen... and a labeled copy of her house key under the welcome mat.


Western Animation

  • The Gargoyles were able to access David Xanatos' castle on top of the Erie Building seemingly at will, though he probably could have stopped them if he wanted to. Sometimes, that was the point.
    • While the Gargoyles come and go as they please (since they can fly), Eliza was denied access to the castle at least once when she was on foot.
  • There's the Looney Tunes version, in which you barricade the door with everything you've got, and then the creature you were trying to keep out appears behind you, with no clue of how it got in. "The Cat Came Back" sort of deal.
  • Dexter's Laboratory was always open to DeeDee, no matter how much security Dexter installed. At least he tries. In one episode he did manage to seal it off completely...but locked himself out in the process.
  • Lampshaded in the South Park "Imaginationland" three-parter:

"Why is it so easy for children to get inside the Pentagon?!"

  • Lampshaded in the I Am Not an Animal episode 'Home'. When the animals are trying to break back into the vivisection laboratory they are told that:

A klaxon sounds and all the security systems turn off, just as the guards all take a twenty minute break. For some reason.

  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: "I really should start locking those windows."
  • Happens a lot in Kim Possible. The hardest part is usually actually getting to the secret lair; once there, getting inside is cake.
  • In the original Transformers TV series, the Autobots were able to stow away on the Decepticon spacebridge pretty much at will, since the guards were always graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, especially poor Shockwave. Brilliantly parodied here.
    • No wonder, poor guy's got no depth perception. And everyone thinks he's just a one-eyed bloody monster...
    • Mind you, the Autobots were no better. By virtue of being on the small side, many were the times Laserbeak just flew in, and there was the time he rode in on an Autobot in tape mode. Soundwave managed to get himself carried in just as often.
  • The Superman: Doomsday animated movie had Lois Lane easily sneak into the most secure areas of Luthor's building and into his office, tranquilize him into unconsciousness, call up Jimmy Olsen to help her, both of them spend a few hours going through all his files, before finally dragging the unconscious (paranoid, ridiculously-intelligent, could lose everything if this got out) Luthor over to a retinal scanner and requiring nothing more than sticking his eye against the screen to get directly into a lab where Luthor's most dangerous, most secret project was going on.
  • In Exo Squad, a TV reporter has unescorted access to the bridge of the fleet's capital ship during military operations against Space Pirates. Geraldo Rivera has nothing on this guy...
  • Futurama has the Cryogenics Lab. Characters that have entered in the third millennium include Fry (multiple times), Nibbler, Bender (multiple times), Stephen Hawking, Al Gore, Gary Gygax, Nichelle Nichols, and basically anyone who wants to be frozen for a thousand years or so (or wants that to happen to someone else). No one even seems to notice.
  • Lampshaded in The Emperor's New School where it sometimes seemed that Yzma had more trouble getting into her secret lab than anyone else.
  • There are no examples of Batman's many hideout break-ins in the DCAU because he's Batman, so flimsy or top-notch security is all the same.
    • Although, break-ins to the Batcave (when not being used to just set up the new Robin, or allowed as part of a Xanatos Gambit) happen infrequently enough to be used to point out someone being a serious threat, without having devolved to the point of The Worf Effect quite yet.
      • But played straight in the pilot of Batman Beyond. Terry finds the Batcave just by fiddling with the clock that hides the entrance (a bat had gotten stuck in the clock face). For someone so paranoid about his identity, that was a severe lapse in competence.
  • In one episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes, Lucius goes through an elaborate, booby-trapped hall to a room guarded by a robotic hand that requires a complicated handshake to get past. Upon entering, Beezy walks in and gets a soda from the fridge.

Lucius: What is the point of having all the security of you just ignore it?!


Real Life

  • Social Engineering. Just ask Kevin Mitnick, a famous hacker. For example, need to get inside a door that can only be opened with a card key? Just stand outside, wait for someone to come by, say something along the lines of "I'm new here" or "I'm having a bad day, my card was destroyed..." People are nice enough to open doors with no questions asked. That is just one example.
    • A particularly devious method is standing next to the door while holding a bunch of (seemingly) heavy boxes, or folders, etc. Not only will people be willing to help you, but will most likely assume you have the card and just can't reach it.
    • Many places where card access is given to people who haven't had any kind of security instruction have large signs actually instructing you to close the door in front of the next person. They don't work, of course (the real solution would be to actually train people).
      • Most companies very specifically warn their employees against this, but people rarely cooperate. No one wants to be the Jerkass who wouldn't let the poor new guy in.
  • Similar to the above examples, the easiest way to get a password is to ring the building and say "This is Tech Support - can I have your Username and Password?" Despite the fact that Tech Support will never say this (they'll usually have an Admin Password that allows them into all accounts) and that people are warned never to give this info out, it still works a lot of the time.
  • A hard hat and a clipboard will get you in anywhere.
  • An event in which a couple crashed a White House party pointed out this. The White House actually used to be like this regularly, up until after the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. It was how the Prez kept in touch with the people.
    • It was pretty easy to get into the White House after the Lincoln assassination, too. Charles Guiteau, the future assassin of President Garfield, was able to get several meetings with the President to discuss his supposed pending appointing as Ambassador to France, even though Garfield didn't know him from Adam.
  • The TSA has never caught a real terrorist, but they did manage to arrest someone for transporting honey, and even got sick from it and demanded to be taken to the hospital.
  • Several Russian officials caught a lot of flak when a group of students revealed that they had broken into a Russian nuclear facility with almost zero effort. Once they got past the fences, they had free run of the place and took photos of everything they came across. Apparently there were no guards stationed at the facility or they all just decided to go on break.
  • While lobby guards keep an eye on who's coming into the lobby of a building, the building's employees and/or residents usually will politely hold the door open for anyone coming up behind who looks like they are coming in, too.
  • The US-Mexico border.
    • Even more so, the US-Canada border. The airspace is heavily monitored thanks to air-traffic control concerns and the Air Force, but if you're travelling on land then security only exists in the forms of Customs people at border crossing points. Go off a little way into the trees and you're pretty much on the honor system. It's officially known as 'The Longest Undefended Border In The World'.