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"Gas chambers are neat. They make the guy's bodily functions all let go simultaneously. Just think, he'll whizz, doodoo, and hurl all at the same time. It'll be like a Symphony in Gross, D-minor. It'll be like a 600-pound person sitting on his face and farting until he suffocates."
Phil Stromer

A Gas Chamber would be any room or facility where the victim will suffocate to death or be asphyxiated. An actual equivalent to the Gas Chamber might be used, a room where noxious or poisonous gas is being fed through the ventilation system. Or, it could be a room with a vacuum sucking all the air out, or people could just be left in a sealed room to eventually choke on their own carbon dioxide.

Serious Nightmare Fuel, with the extra horror of being Truth in Television for several million people during The Holocaust. A villain contemplating using one has usually crossed the Moral Event Horizon of villainy into Complete Monster territory.


Examples of Gas Chamber include:


Anime

  • Sabre Rider And The Star Sheriffs had an episode in which Sabre Rider went to the Outworld and confronted the main baddie, who proceeded to suck the oxygen out of the room, as he himself didn't need it.
  • This is what happens to Hinamizawa's population under the "Disaster of Hinamizawa" natural disaster coverup in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.
  • In Gundam Wing, Duo and Wufei are trapped in a little cell along with Professor G. The amount of air is limited (they are in space, after all), and Professor G says something along the lines of "If anyone wants to die, they should do so, and save some oxygen for the rest of us!"
  • In an early chapter of the Lupin III manga, a guard said Lupin would be heading to the Gas Chamber. Inspector Zenigata knows that the method of execution at this particular joint is the electric chair and any guard would've known that. He has just enough time to figure out the guard is actually Lupin in disguise before Lupin uses this knowledge against him and he sets off to rescue the guard Lupin sent to be electrocuted in his place.

Film

Literature

  • The Devil's Foot, one of the original Sherlock Holmes short stories, had a character place the title root--an obscure poison from Africa--into an oil lamp. The lamp was then lit, releasing the poison into the air and causing death and brain damage to the killer's victims. The murderer is later killed in the same way himself.
    • This one nearly killed Holmes and Watson when Holmes (in a rare moment of holding the Idiot Ball) experimented with the root to see if it's the culprit.
  • Another murderer used the poisoned candle M.O. in Edgar Allan Poe's The Imp of the Perverse.
  • The poisoned candle trick shows up again in the Discworld novel Feet of Clay.
  • One of the James Bond books has a sealed room with a window air conditioner which runs backwards to suck the air out.
    • Also appears in The Barsoom Project.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Rogues in the House", a glass wall falls down in a room, and the dust of the gray lotus is used, which drives them murderously insane.
  • The vacuum version is used in In Hero Years… I'm Dead involving a memorabilia room that the heroes are trapped in.

Live Action TV

  • The Prisoner episode "The Girl Who Was Death" had a room filled with poison-releasing candles that would explode if extinguished. The Prisoner escaped - this trap, at least - by placing all of the candles against the outer door and blowing them out with bellows.
  • A Sherlock Holmes mystery (one of the ones specially created for one of the many TV series) involved a person who died from a candle he didn't know was poisoned. Holmes flushed out the murderer by closing everyone in a small room and lighting the candle. The murderer, preferring a blown cover to death, broke the window.
  • One of the urban legends busted by Mythbusters involves a man who, after a particularly starchy dinner, falls asleep in a small unventilated room and asphyxiates on his own flatulence.
  • In an episode of Angel, an angry client tries to kill Gwen and Angel with a modified elevator and poison gas. Luckily, vampires don't need to breathe.
    • Similarly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Angel rescuing Giles, Willow and Buffy from the high school basement, where they were locked in with the gas turned on by an angry invisible girl.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Dominion," Daniel gets caught in a room that is accidentally being flooded with toxic gas. Despite trying to breathe through his clothing, he inhales the gas for several minutes before the leak is shut off, but he seems to suffer no side effects whatsoever.
  • In Farscape the Scarrans use a chamber flooding with paralytic gas. On learning he's trapped in one John yells, "Staleek, this is very unoriginal!"
  • One stunt on Fear Factor involved enduring a sealed chamber that filled with CS gas longer than anyone else.

Tabletop Games

  • In the 1E AD&D module The Hidden Shrine of Tamoanchan, the entire dungeon is this trope, at least until the PCs manage to open up some blocked ventilation passages.

Video Game

  • The videogame adaptation of The Thing has a scene where the protagonist is lured into a room quickly being filled with poison gas. The message left on a computer screen in the room is a nice touch:

 Breathe deep, Blake. Breathe deep and die.

  • Star Fox Adventures had such a room: you had to push blocks around while a special meter started emptying. This troper has never seen whether an empty meter means your life gauge starts emptying, or whether you got a failure cutscene, or whether you lost a life, but when you succeeded, the door would open, letting good air in, and also dropping the bars holding the Queen CloudRunner captive.
    • You got a failure cutscene and reappeared outside the room. This troper can't remember if there was any loss of health, though (but there wasn't any loss of continue).
  • Portal ends with GLaDOS attempting to flood the final battle area with a deadly neurotoxin after Chell destroys her morality core. She's quite nasty about it too, taunting Chell about her impending death from the deadly neurotoxin (along with jabs of a more personal nature.)
  • Onimusha 3 had a gas chamber trap where you had to unlock the door by completing a "simon says" minigame before you succumb to the fumes.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II features the Jekk'Jekk Tarr, a bar for aliens on Nar Shaddaa where the atmosphere is toxic to humans. It also had the HK-50 unit turn the entire dormitory section of the Peragus mining facility into one of these by sabotage.
    • Both games let you use computer terminals to release poison gas on enemies as opposed to fighting them directly.
  • Metal Gear Solid does this for a few spots if you get caught and one room where it will happen as a part of a storyline. In each case, gas fills the room and you quickly lose oxygen, but having an O2 mask equipped will slow it down. In two of these cases, there is no way to escape, and in the first, you don't even have the O2 mask. There is one room where gas is already there and you're forced to go through. Said area also has electrified floors, just in case, apparently.
    • The original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake also had gas-filled rooms that you had to traverse.
  • Tifa of Final Fantasy VII gets tossed into a gas chamber for a public execution midway through the game, and has to pick up the conveniently dropped key to her shackles with her feet to escape. Unlike other segments in the game, there is no time limit on this sequence - no matter how long you struggle, Tifa cannot be killed.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos turns the entire city of Chicago into one big Gas Chamber for our hero. He needs to destroy the antitoxin canisters and seal the generators before the toxin level reaches lethal levels.
  • Doom 3: An entire level is made into one of these, and you have to find the ventilation switch. "There's nothing but a slow death for you, as your lungs fill with toxic gases."(Dr. Bertruger)
  • In the original Perfect Dark, you must flee a room flooded with nerve gas during your escape from Area 51.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV, several Ayleid ruins contain an interesting variation on this: step into an empty portion of a large room, and walls will slam down, temporarily trapping you while the room is pumped with gas. There are also rooms that simply have vents that always emit toxic gas.
  • The original Resident Evil had a couple of poison gas death traps that activated if you did a puzzle wrong. In Code Veronica, a gas leak blocks your progress, and you have to find a way to activate the ventilation system to clear it.
  • In The Journeyman Project, the NORAD VI installation is flooded with sleeping gas, requiring you to obtain an oxygen mask before you go there.
  • There are three rooms in Batman: Arkham Asylum that end up getting filled with Smilex, forcing Batman to find a way to activate the ventilation system to purge the gas.
  • Parodied in Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, where at one point your party is trapped inside a cabin which is slowly filled with sugar substance[1]. The trap fails.
  • Prototype has it in the form of Bloodtox, a gas harmless to anyone not infected by the virus. Alex, a man made up entirely of infected material, discovered this fact when it was announced to a room full of soldiers he had infiltrated, that they had been exposed to the gas for the last ten minutes. His disguise didn't last long.
  • Ratchet and Clank Up Your Arsenal invokes this with an entire arena, requiring you to beat all the enemies before Ratchet succumbs. It's just sleeping gas, but it works by depleting your health bar.
  • There's a whole level dedicated to this in Dead Space. Standing too close to one of the Wheezers for too long will cause Isaac to die.
    • Also, Isaac sometimes has to go out into the vacuum of space.

Web Original

  • In Look to the West, gas chambers called "phlogisticateurs" are employed by the alternate French Revolutionaries to execute the more prominent enemies of the Republic, including King Louis himself. They are invented due to the work of Antoine Lavoisier, who takes his own life upon realising this. They use carbon dioxide and are not very efficient, only being used for particularly cinematic cases - most of the time the Revolutionaries use the Chirugeon, the in-timeline name for our guillotine.
    • In a twist, the phlogisticateur technology later becomes used to create test greenhouses that allow the widespread cultivation of cinchona trees, meaning a ready supply of quinine to combat malaria in Africa. This is intended to be a similar case to the fact that in our own history, chemotherapy drugs came about as a result of research into poison gas in WW 1.

Western Animation

Real Life

  • In the United States, this and the electric chair were the top methods of executing criminals during the 20th Century. Today only a few states still have this as an option.
    • Currently there are no convicts eligible for this method, so the last person to be executed by asphyxiation will be German national Walter leGrand 1999 in Arizona.
    • California, which was the most frequent user of this method pre-Furman, has declared this method as unconstitutional "cruel and unusual punishment". Instead, the executions are made with lethal injection today.
  • Nazi Germany used two main types of this.
    • There were the well known death camp "showers" where people were sent into fake bathhouses and gassed to death. In some places, such as Auschwitz, they used Zyklon B gas, a cyanide-based pesticide. At Treblinka, where the Jews of Warsaw and other parts of Poland were annihilated, they used carbon monoxide. Less well known and not used much were trucks where the people were loaded into the back, airtight doors shut and the truck exhaust pumped in. These were not economically practical and were discontinued.
    • The latter as well as the former have shown up in fiction.
    • The gassing truck was originally invented in USSR by NKVD, and called dushegubka.
  • Schrodinger's Cat is a thought experiment in quantum physics, that imagines a cat is locked in a box with a flask of poison gas, and a radiation-detector that will break the flask if a radioactive atom emits a particle.
  • Finnish Army uses gas chambers to train the recruits to use gas masks. The recruits are taken to a sealed airtight building, the sergeant sets off a tear gas charge, and the recruits are to put on their gas masks. Nobody is allowed to enter out until the gas has dissipated.
    • Similar training had been performed in Eastern Bloc armies throughout the Cold War: a large field tent had been used for the chamber, the recruits inside were to put on their masks at the instructor's signal and at the same time the instructor would set off the tear gas charge. Things would go nasty if the filters on some masks had been previously damaged, which often happened. That's why a tent was used, to roll up the fabric sides and release quickly those unfortunate recruits to open air.
  • At the Recruit Training Command, Navy recruits must go through the "Confidence Chamber", where the recruit's division goes into a room, the instructor sets off a tear gas capsule and the recruit must take off their mask and recite whatever the instructor tells them too. Oh joy.
  • Mandatory prep for a trip on NASA's Vomit Comet, the KC-135 weightlessness simulator, involves being put in a room that the oxygen is lowered in, then being required to remove your oxygen mask and answer math questions to see how your brain holds up. It's to help prepare people for what could happen if the thing loses pressure at 30k feet. It was even required for the cast of the movie Apollo 13 before their trips.

Relax. The example list is done. The page will be all over soon. Just take a long, deep breath...

Notes

  1. Sugar is treated as deadly in this game. The fact that diabetes is a status effect speaks for itself.
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