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I'll wait in this place where the sun never shines

Wait in this place where the shadows run from themselves
Cream, "White Room"

A featureless white room. So featureless, in fact, that you can't even tell where the walls, floor, and ceiling end--they all blend seamlessly together under the uniform light, so the chamber looks more like a white void than a room. Sometimes, the only indication that it's not a void is the fact that the characters have something solid to stand on.

As literal white voids represent some "other realm"--usually a result of a dream or crossing over to another universe--physical rooms that replicate this visual effect will have the same connotations. They make excellent cells for imprisonment or interrogation--the absence of visible exits (or any sign that the outside world exists at all) implies no possibility of escape. Or, the white can represent sterility, making these rooms suitable for otherworldly hospitalization. Or, it can represent the limitless possibilities of a blank canvas, so this room could be a currently-inactive holosimulator, or some other place where literally anything can happen.

Occasionally, there are a few pieces of furniture (color is optional) in the room for the characters to sit down and have a discussion. May be an extreme form of Ascetic Aesthetic. When this effect is produced unintentionally by poor description, it is a Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue.

Remember that nothing screams futuristic, cutting edge, classy purity (as well as "concentrate on my smoking hot bod" Am I Right?) like a white void in your workout video.

Often a sign of the Lazy Artist in Sequential Art when the background is missing.

The diffused high-key light often makes this the opposite of Chiaroscuro.

See also Misery Lit for when a book presents the white void room on its cover to represent death.

Examples of White Void Room include:

Advertising

  • Carmax had a series of TV commercials with people standing in a completely white room. Cars would appear and disappear in response to their description of what vehicle they wanted to buy. (The original ad bore an uncanny similarity to the "We'll need guns. Lots of guns" scene from The Matrix, below.)
    • A great deal of car commercials actually take place in the void.
  • How about those Progressive commercials? It's a white "store" filled with only empty boxes labeled with policies, and people in white clothing are employees there.
  • The setting of most Apple Computer ads since the introduction of OSX, including the testimonial-based "Switch" campaign, the Justin Long-John Hodgeman "Mac vs. PC" ads, and more recently the iPhone ads. The notable exception is the iPod ads, which lean more toward the opposite extreme.
  • A set of three PlayStation 3 commercials (one Nightmare Fuel) featured a not-seamless white room. This is the Nightmare Fuel one.
  • Those late-'90s Gap ads that everybody's forgotten by now.
    • Referenced by Ozy and Millie once when Avery decides to become a marketing icon. "I plan to spend a lot of time dancing weirdly in front of a white background."
  • One of the more famous "Got Milk?" commercials involved a man who dies and wakes up in an empty white room in what seems to be heaven. Of course, then it turns out to be the other place.
  • This En Nuestras Manos Public Service Announcement, featuring various celebrities in a White Void Room, proudly showing their pulseras.


Anime and Manga


Audio Drama

  • The final episode of Night Terrace series one, "Home", is set almost entirely in a white void. It turns out to be a "bubble universe" outside of ours, created by Auguste Night's experiments with quantum foam which also created the Night Terrace houses.

Comic Books

  • X-Men has the White Hot Room, which is sort of outside the universe and mostly seems to exist so that various wielders of the Phoenix Force can have conversations with themselves.
  • Invincible has a room that isn't actually a white void, but drugs in the water supply have mind-control ingredients that make everyone see it that way. It's for the super-soldiers.
    • Er, as to the spoiler, that's only on occasion. It's really for whatever they need to keep quasi-invisible that day.
  • In Doom Patrol, former Brotherhood of Evil member Eric Morden volunteers for an ex-Nazi scientist's experiment in which he's temporarily immobilized and placed in a spherical white room where he can do nothing but sit and stare at the whiteness until he goes mad. Eventually a tiny black dot, projected on the white expanse, seems to him to grow larger and larger until it transforms him into the abstract, shadowy villain Mr. Nobody with the power to drain the sanity from others.
  • In one of Warren Ellis' issues of Dv8, Copycat steps on a booby trap that apparently teleports her into one of these. The white void later turns out to be a simulation, a result of being teleported to another room in the facility and hooked up to a virtual reality machine.
  • Jean Van Hamme's Le Grand Pouvoir du Chninkel features le Non-Monde (the Non-World), a white space between the worlds.
  • The universe itself is turned into a very large White Void Room in Zero Hour: Crisis In Time after Hal Jordan as Parallax has finished erasing it with his entropy rifts, in which only a few surviving heroes get to witness him recreating the universe.


Comic Strips

  • Every comic strip, almost all of the time, due to the ever-shrinking size of the average strip, and artists' inability to fit anything but talking heads into each panel, as referenced in various Calvin and Hobbes strips, for instance here
  • The Family Circus: The "featureless white void" became a running inside joke on The Dysfunctional Family Circus. The "featureless white room" is mentioned here as a specific example.


Film

  • THX 1138 (pictured) is the Trope Maker.
  • In The Matrix, the Construct appeared like this when its users aren't running simulations. It could also be used to procure supplies to take into the Matrix, such as guns. Lots of guns.
    • The Architect's lair would be this if he didn't stick a bunch of TV's to the wall.
  • Men in Black has some, specifically the Deneuralizing Room. Eventually, we come to realize that it's basically a large toilet bowl.
  • In Bruce Almighty the Supreme Being invites the protagonist into a white loft.
  • The Vincenzo Natali film Nothing is mostly set in a white void.
  • The Made for TV Movie Mr. Stitch (Sci Fi Channel, mid-1990s, basically a very weird retelling of the Frankenstein story) featured a white room with minimalistic furniture, as the space where the titular creation spent his first several weeks of consciousness before escaping.
  • The detention room in Sky High detention room was this plus desks. The room turned off a student's powers, by the way.
  • The "Midnight Radio" song in Hedwig and The Angry Inch.
  • The center of the Torus in Epoch.
  • The ending scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • The shower at the beginning of Nowhere is a white void room. The movie starts off with credits over a white screen and pans down, down, down to show the main character, named Dark, in a white void with gray steam. A shower head seemingly floating in space. The scene is shot from far away so that Dark looks dwarfed by the infinite whiteness on the screen. When his mother knocks on the bathroom door, the shower is seen for the cramped, normal utility that it is.
  • The time travel chamber in Guest From the Future is a blank white room with a small control stand in the center.
  • The Day Of Wonders virtual reality program in the Apocalypse film series by Cloud Ten Pictures takes place in a white room with the Digital Avatar of the Antichrist offering whoever enters it the Mark of the Beast, with the alternative being death, usually by decapitation.
  • Mission to Mars features one inside the Face of Mars.
  • In Richard Lester's The Knack (and how to get it), Tom sees a room is for rent in the protagonist's home, moves in unannounced, and promptly starts painting everything in it white, including the furniture, floor and windowpanes. Tom is a bit mad, and was evicted from his last place for painting it white.


Literature

  • William Sleator's SF novel, House of Stairs where the setting is just a big white void... criss-crossed with stairs.
    • And one toilet, and a pellet dispenser. And somewhere, presumably very far off, is an elevator that gets you out.
      • That toilet is their only water supply (so they wash up in it too), and the only non-stairs element besides the machine. It constantly flushes, but still.
  • Such a scene was included in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Involving Harry meeting and speaking briefly with Dumbledore. It stops being a blank white room and becomes King's Cross Station fairly quickly, though.
  • Inverted in The Time Ships, by Stephen Baxter. The Time Traveler is imprisoned by Morlocks by means of a single shaft of light in a seemingly-infinite black room. He's psychologically unable to walk out of sight of the beam.
  • Played straight in Dr. Franklin's Island by Ann Halam. Semi, the main character, and Miranda, her friend, are able to communicate through radio when they are animals, but in a white-void-like space where they both appear in their human forms, where Miranda has a large black clamp on her leg, the same as the one she is wearing to stop her flying away as a bird.
  • Once Harry figures out who killed him in Ghost Story, he is taken out of the Battle in the Center of the Mind between Molly and Corpsetaker, and ends up in one of these while he talks to Uriel.
  • The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect has several characters in a post-Technological Singularity universe living in white void rooms. Most, though, find that they don't really want to live in a completely featureless white void, and and up decorating their living areas, thus completely missing the point of not owning anything when there's no longer any meaning to concepts like "home".


Live Action TV

  "God really IS an old, white guy."

  • In Angel, the "White Room" that connects Wolfram & Hart's terrestrial office to the Senior Partners was one of these, with a creepy little girl serving as the Conduit at first. Later, a large black panther assumes the role, and then, an evil doppleganger of the visitor. It's not a nice place to visit.
  • Most of the holding chambers in The Initiative are like this.
  • For a really obscure example: A 1990s Comedy Central sketch-comedy show called "Limboland" was entirely set in one of these.
  • Penn and Teller Bullshit takes place in one of these. True to the show's form of pooh-poohing hocus-pocus, though, the camera sometimes pulls out and reveals that the white void is just a set, with cameras and lights and crew (something that is very easy to forget when you only watch TV and movies from one side of the camera).
  • The Eyewitness series of science/nature documentaries feature an opening sequence in which the camera zooms through a kind of Mishmash Museum with animals of all sorts running about; the walls also have screens and picture frames depicing various images from the natural world.
    • The museum itself is shown as being like this throughout the documentaries themselves, with video clips being introduced by the camera panning to the screens and picture frames. It also had the added strangeness effect of the pictures depicted being different every time, because they would be related to the subject matter.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The show featured an early example in "The Mind Robber" serial, as the Doctor and his companions find themselves trapped in the land of Fiction. Ths being Doctor Who, you actually could see the edges of the walls, but the cast never did...
    • "Warrior's Gate" is set almost entirely in one of these, to eerie effect.
  • Used a few times in Star Trek, albeit they're not so much "rooms" as actual white voids:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation. At the beginning of the episode "Tapestry", Picard apparently dies on Dr Crusher's operating table after being shot through the heart. He wakes up in a bright white void in which he can make out a white-clothed figure who reaches out for him only for it to turn out to be Q, who informs Jean Luc that he's dead and they're going to spend eternity together. Picard is not impressed.
    • In the Deep Space Nine episode "The Visitor", a white void is used to represent the "subspace vacuole" that Captain Sisko is trapped in.
    • Also used in Deep Space Nine when Sisko speaks with the Prophets.
  • Art Attack
  • An episode of The X-Files had Mulder captured and interrogated in one of these rooms.


Music

Video Games

  • Castle Oblivion from Kingdom Hearts may count as an entire building made of White Rooms if it weren't for the revisited levels from the previous game, and the tiny decorations in the rooms. Even the revisited levels themselves are described as White Void Rooms that have been magically reshaped by Sora's memories, and in Kingdom Hearts 2, Namine gets a similarly blank white room of her own in an otherwise dark, dusty mansion. The room's in-game name is, appropriately enough, "The White Room".
  • The white room behind the mirror in Super Mario 64 DS. It has in it just one star.
  • The Rakatan prison in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
  • In Super Paper Mario, when Sammer's Kingdom is destroyed, the door that led there now leads to a vast, empty landscape.
  • The original Hitman game ends in one of these; a later release, Hitman: Contracts starts off in that same room.
  • Several appear in the original .hack games, sparsely furnished and frequently falling apart due to corrupt or deleted data.
    • .hack//G.U. has some as well, most notably The Creator's Room.
  • The map gm_construct has one of these, until you change the color of its walls.
    • Fun glitch-make the walls in that room transparent. Enjoy the trippy!
  • When transitioning between areas in both Assassin's Creed games, Altair/Ezio are placed in a room like this until the area fully loads.
  • The final Cutscene in Command and Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight is in a white void room inside the Scrin tower.
  • Ganondorf's ultimate fate at the end of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is to be sealed away in Another Dimension which is depicted as a white, formless void where he can do nothing but spew vile invectives at the heroes.
  • The final battle in King of Fighters XIII against Ash under Saiki's control takes place in a White Void Room.
  • Sonic Generations uses one as its Hub Level, with small previews of each of the nine levels being used as their entrances.
  • Asura's Wrath final phase of the Chakratarvin the Creator boss fight the boss itself turn an entire plane of existence into this just by his raw power alone. It looks a lot like The Creator's room from .hack GU above. Helps that it's made by The Same Company, and is likely a Shout-Out.


Web Animation


Webcomics


Web Original


Western Animation

  • Some Looney Tunes cartoons end with this void when the cartoon's film supposedly breaks, after which a character steps out into this to address the audience: "Ladies and gentlemen, due to circumstance beyond our control, we are unable to continue with this picture."
    • In this case, the blank white image is used simply to show that the film is gone and the camera is just projecting white on the screen. (Remember they all started out shown exclusively in theaters) The idea is that the audience might not be sure the whole thing's a gag... until the character shows up, anyway.
  • The Teen Titans episode "How Long Is Forever?" has a seemingly insane Bad Future version of Raven being held in a white room, apparently for her own protection.
  • Invader Zim's Room... with a MOOSE!!
  • There was a SpongeBob episode where Squidward was on a Time Machine that went haywire and ended up in one of these.
  • This is what Chalk Zone is without any chalk in it.
    • Minus the floor. It's literally a bottomless abyss.
  • According to a Family Guy cutaway, Purgatory is this.
  • In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends movie, Frankie is held prisoner by an imaginary friend who controls a pretend world in a toy box. (Aactually, she's more of the first person he's seen in a very long time and so he gets very excited. She genuinely enjoys the experience but she's not allowed to leave his world.) When Mr. Herriman tries to take her back to Foster's, the friend in control of the world gets very angry. As he chases them he destroys the world and it becomes one of these, albeit with debris and landmarks still around.


Workout Videos


Real Life

  • Some CIA interrogators "break" detainees who won't confess by making them spend time in a featureless white room that's brightly lit all day and air-conditioned enough to be uncomfortable.
  • These rooms are actually not uncommon and used for photo shoots. The walls and floor are painted white and the corners are carefully filled in, rounded together and painted white to give it a blank uniform appearance.
  • While not seamless voids, white rooms are a very common form used in newer art galleries. The theory is the white walls do not draw attention away from the exhibits.

Notes

  1. Technically not featureless, but it was clearly meant to invoke this trope
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