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The creators of a show or movie really want to demonstrate that we are in a highly advanced future setting. This usually involves some futuristic furniture, holographic displays and, surprisingly often, really weird door designs.
Doors and hatches tend to be pretty boring objects in Real Life. They are usually rectangular, flat and have only one or two moving parts, mostly because this is the most simple and efficient design.
In the minds of many set designers, future doors are different. This may include:
- Automated: Manually opened doors are near-extinct in the future. Even the most rarely used storage room will have an automated door, or at least a door that opens as soon as you press a button.
- Noisy: Sound effects are mandatory (swooshes and beeps are popular).
- Lots and lots of parts: Highly complex designs with many interlocking and overlapping parts for no apparent reason.
- No right angles: Non-rectangular shapes (especially hexagons) and protruding parts that use a lot of space and reduce clearance. Bonus points for huge and intricate locking mechanisms.
- Converging from all directions: Door panels coming not only from left and right but also from above and below. Uses even more space. Less common in Live Action TV because it is expensive to build on a set. A typical example is the "iris door".
This trope is mainly intended for high-tech door designs that are needlessly complicated and impractical. It usually does not apply when magic is involved, after all, wizards can do anything.
- Dilating Door - Doors which are Cool but Inefficient
- Script Reading Doors - Doors which know when to open, when to close, and when not to
- Galaxy Angel has several including two-tone double doors that split diagonally along different axises.
- Elf Quest has a variation: the exterior "door" to Blue Mountain is solid rock until the elf named Door is commanded to make an opening in it telekinetically.
- Star Wars: Not only are they different from reality, it's rare to see two similar doors in a whole darn movie. The Empire seem to be fond of doors that close vertically and swiftly, evoking a guillotine.
- Spoofed in the second Airplane! movie, where the doors were voice activated and made a sound when the command to activate them was given. So you had William Shatner making the Star Trek door sound and the door making its own variation as it obligingly opens.
- Forbidden Planet: The doors left by the Krell had two of these traits, "no right angles" (a flattened pentagon) and "converging from all directions". See it here, starting at 2:20.
- In Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (which was once featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000), the Martians doors opened by pointing at them.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Doors manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation are programmed to love their simple lives; they love nothing more than to open and close for passing users, and thank them profusely for so emphatically validating their existence.
- Neverwhere. Door's family can open, well, anything. Their house is really freaky.
- The Gringotts door in Harry Potter is an example of the doors being different in a fantasy, rather than sci-fi, setting. So many parts move when the goblin unlocks it that it's pretty much a door whose entire surface is its lock mechanism.
- Hobbit doors are round in Lord of the Rings.
- Star Trek: Used mildly on Federation vessels. The doors are automated and come with a trademarked sound, but are otherwise normal (except for knowing when they're needed). Played straight with Deep Space Nine, with lots of weirdly shaped doors. The creators went overboard with the automated doors. Almost every alien society has them, no matter what their technological level or whether there's actually an energy source available to power them. It should be noted that reality still writes the plot, as not a single door goes down into the floor, since the soundstage floor can't really be altered.
- Star Trek the Original Series had a set whose doors (and corridors) were unusually shaped; it was reused, with different trim and paint schemes, for many episodes set on alien planets or ships.
- Babylon 5: Many doors on the station are automatic and hinged at the top. However it is subverted on Earth where they have perfectly ordinary wooden hinged doors in most buildings. It would appear that the station needs doors that can be sealed in the event of a hull breach, which is not a problem on Earth.
- On Z'ha'dum, the automatic doors opened with the standard door noise. The shadows tried sneaking up on Sheridan by using a quiet door, but Sheridan wasn't caught off guard.
- SeaQuest DSV: Played very straight, with lots of different doors and hatches. Going red alert on the SeaQuest includes closing all kinds of hatches, so they show this off a lot.
- Parodied in the Get Smart underground headquarters, with the veritable gauntlet of doors, hatches, etc. The already-bumbling main character has to go through them to get to work; Hilarity Ensues.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: The scene right before the movie starts shows a hallway with various different kinds of doors.
- In the Doctor Who serial "The War Games", the aliens' security chief has a door of the 'converging from all directions' design. The top part is deliberately made to resemble a guillotine blade. The aliens' space/time machines also have noisy powered doors.
- The X-Naut fortress in Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door. It's on the moon. The doors require passwords and keys, and make a "swish" sound upon opening.
- Fallout 3 has overcomplicated doors everywhere, a standard secure door folds up sideways and then the middle part sinks into the floor. Then there's the Vault doors, which light up and having a warning klaxon and spin when the open button is pressed.
- Mass Effect and its sequel love their bizarre, six or more segment doors.
- In Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, the doors on General Skun-ka'pe's ship slide Ina different direction every time they open or close. For example, the first time, a door will slide to the right to open and then come up from the bottom to close. The next time, the door could open by sliding up and close from the left. Apparently, his ship, like everything in the game, runs on the Rule of Funny.
- Doors in Batman: Arkham Asylum are massive steel slabs with body scanners and several locks and slide open either very fast or incredibly slow. Justified since they are designed to keep the worst psychopaths from escaping the asylum, but it's not like they actually work.
- Space Pirate Doors in Metroid are opened by firing lazer weapons at them, are circular, and come in many, many component parts that open seperatly. Wierdly, they're unlocked with weapons the space pirates do not possess. Galactic federation doors, to confuse players, are simple automated doors.
- Subverted in this strip from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, when Bob is surprised that alien doors have doorknobs.
- Futurama parodies this, and even has the "swoosh" sound from Star Trek, as well as Fry pointing out that it's just like Star Trek. The doors to the bridge of the Planet Express ship from Futurama even work differently each time they're shown.
- Some doors even have two sound effects. A sound effect that you would normally expect from that type of door, and the Star Trek sound effect.
- The Simpsons episode "Hurricane Neddy": When Ned's house gets destroyed by a tornado and the town rebuilds it there are several oddly shaped doors because the townsfolk who rebuilt his house don't actually know anything about building houses.
- Truth in Television: In his book The Design of Everyday Things, Cognitive Scientist Don Norman describes the ways in which architects and designers invariably create fancy doors that are hard to operate, typically because it is not obvious which side is hinged, or whether they open inward or outward. In an updated edition, he notes that people have started telling him stories of "Norman doors."