In the Terra Nova episode "Nightfall," Jim Shannon takes his daughter Zoe to The Eye, the underground room with the computer that has all of mankind's knowledge in it. There's a secure door to access this room, the same kind they've used at other times that requires either a combination or pass card to enter. Yet when they're trapped in the room, Jim sends Zoe through an access route to get outside and use the emergency release to open the door.

What's the point in having a secure door that requires a passcode or passcard if all one has to do to get in is just pull the emergency release?

  • 4
    Because of plot (>_<) – Izkata Nov 29 '11 at 3:10
  • 3
    I'm one of the people who does not accept answers like "Bad writing" or "The plot needed that." (Unless a writer of the work makes such a statement.) – Tango Nov 29 '11 at 3:25
  • 5
    @TangoOversway in that case you'll be severely disappointed by a lot of things happening in SciFi (or indeed any fictional) stories... – jwenting Nov 29 '11 at 7:01

It's not covered in the show, as far as I know, but I would venture to guess that access to the manual override might be contingent upon a loss of power to the door.

What one should really be asking, is "Why isn't there an emergency manual override on the inside?".

  • Actually that's an excellent point. As long as there is power, the override may be blocked. And, yes, it seems there's an issue with not having an override on the inside as well. – Tango Nov 29 '11 at 18:57

I can think of two explanations for the emergency release being outside the door. The in-universe explanation is that over-population made governments relax their safety code laws, in the hopes that horrible accidents kill off as many people as possible. That lack of safety laws carried over into construction of the base in the past, where the series takes place.

The other reason is that it's a plot hole, or a case of bad writing (or because the plot said so, or something else). In real life, there are a number of safety codes dealing with locked doors and the emergency release of said locks, for instance, these rules about fire exit safety. For the most part, this means that the door can be exited in one direction even if it's locked coming from the opposite direction. So, the scenario in question (getting trapped in the room) should never have happened. In a situation where it might happen (such as a door locking from both sides), if there were to be an emergency release, it would be on the inside of the room that the door provides access to, as opposed to the outside, otherwise, people could be trapped in a room. There might be cases where a manual release is required outside the door, as well, while still keeping the door secure from outsiders. In those cases, the release would likely contain a lock (likely, with a key that certain people have access to or know where it is). That way, people could access the room in an emergency, but the room would still be kept secure.

If, instead, it's a security door that practically anyone can access, then the question becomes "Why is there even a lock on the door?" In that case, the answer would be "bad design".

  • Would they even have to hope that people would die? If there's enough over-population, human life becomes so common that most people (and governments especially) stop even putting an effort in, without having to consciously care one way or the other. – blueberryfields Nov 29 '11 at 20:52

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