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"You wake up locked in a deserted jail cell, completely alone. There is nothing at all in your cell, useful or otherwise."

A specific type of Ontological Mystery (which covers this trope in passing).

A character wakes up in a setting that's unfamiliar to them. They don't know how they got there, who brought them, or for what reason. Frequently, getting out is not so simple as simply walking out the door.

Sometimes the character, or characters, will have no memory of prior events whatsoever, although this is not a necessary component. In more extreme examples, the character may not exactly know even who they are.

If the piece begins In Medias Res and the character wakes up in a room, and the audience has no idea where they are or what has gone before (or the character has only limited knowledge, possibly having been drunk the night before, or something bad happened to him, or he's in an alternate reality that only the audience seems to pick up on) that may be sufficient to meet this trope. Compare Good Morning, Crono.

Examples of You Wake Up in a Room include:

Anime and Manga

  • Gantz. Upon their deaths, the main characters are sent to a mysterious room; the room is obviously located in Tokyo, but cannot be accessed unless you are called there by Gantz.
  • Happens at least twice to Rosa in Umineko no Naku Koro ni. The first time is in the second arc's tea party. The second time occurs in the fourth arc, in what is implied-ish? to be a Dream Sequence Maria had.
    • Happens to somebody early on in the sixth arc.
  • Kirika in Noir woke up one day with no memory of who she was in an empty house that despite having photographs of parents, had no actual parents in sight. She found with her a pocketwatch, school ID with her name on it and a gun and killed a bunch of Mooks who showed up to harass her. The rest of the series deals with her trying to discover her identity.
  • Dangaioh: The four ESP'ers are all suddenly find themselves in service to Dr. Tarsan without knowing who they are/were, or how they got there.
  • In aptly named Locked Room arc of Psychic Detective Yakumo, when Takaoka-sensei (in the original novels & Ritsu version) / Yuuichi (in the Suzuka version) thinks he killed Yuri after hitting her a little too hard, he hides her body in the basement. Turns out she wasn't dead after all. Until she died trying to get out of the room.

Film - Live-Action

  • Dark City
  • Memento
  • A Scanner Darkly (film)
  • This is the modus operandi for the "Jigsaw Killer" in Saw: nearly every victim wakes up in a room, and the punishemnt for failure (when it's not immediate and messy death, is usually turning it into a Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere.
  • Pandorum... in a hypersleep capsule.
  • In Cube, its sequel, and its prequel, all the victims of the cube wake up in a cube-shaped room with no memory of how they got there.
  • The teleplay The Cube (unrelated to the above series) where a man awakes in a solid white room with people coming in and out doing various wacky things, but he cannot get anyone to tell him where he is or why he's there, he's only told that somewhere on the wall is a hidden door made just for him.
  • In the 2006 film Unknown, the entire cast wakes up with amnesia and locked in a warehouse.
  • Occurs in both The Hangover and its sequel.


  • Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes In Amber (which spawned two entire five-novel series) begins this way. The first-person narrator doesn't even know his own name when he wakes up in, well, a hospital room.
  • In A Snowball in Hell by Christopher Brookmyre, Darren "The Daddy" McDade wakes up in a hotel room he doesn't recognize. Things... don't end well for him.
  • The Tightrope Men was written by Spy Fiction writer Desmond Bagley as a deliberate evocation of this trope -- a man wakes up in a hotel room in Norway with a confused memory and a completely different face. Bagley decided to take the most terrifying situation he could think of, and then write a book explaining it. The protagonist has been abducted, brainwashed and altered through plastic surgery, then put in the place of a kidnapped scientist in order to create a few days confusion so the kidnappers can get away with their prize.
  • Eri of After Dark wakes up in a bed on the TV side. She has no idea how she got there, and neither does the viewer.
  • Animorphs In 'The Familiar', Jake wakes up in a room, his bedroom, only it's a futuristic bedroom, and he's ten years older, with no idea what happened in between.
  • The young adult series that begins with The Maze Runner begins essentially this way.

Live-Action TV

New Media

Tabletop Games

Video Games

 Ego: How did I get here? I remember...nothing.

Web Comics

  • In an example without the room, Willow of Earthsong wakes up under a purple willow/wiple tree with no idea whatsoever of what's going on.[1] This is echoed in a later wake-up, though she quickly remembers and the audience knows.
  • Furrocious starts with the main character waking up in a a gray room with a large door.
  • MS Paint Adventures likes this trope. Jail Break fits the definition perfectly, and Homestuck begins in a similar manner (three times).

Web Original

Fan Fiction

  • Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons : Chapter 11 Blackjack after being hauled out of a slaver camp half dead and emotionality worn out from making a Sadistic Choice passes out in a mine-cart... Only to wake up in a room next to a strange stallion named Prist who then explains that she was found unconscious and alone in the rain, a week prior, she has no idea how she got miles away from the slaver camp or what happened to her friends along the way.


  1. She's named after the tree, incidentally, it's not that apropos.
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