The SCP Foundation is a fictional organization documented by the web-based collaborative-fiction project of the same name. Within the website's fictional setting, the SCP Foundation is responsible for locating and containing individuals, entities, locations, and objects that violate natural law. The real-world website is community-based and includes elements of many genres such as horror, science fiction, and urban fantasy.
On the SCP Foundation wiki, the majority of works consist of "special containment procedures": structured internal documentation that describes an SCP object and the means of keeping it contained. The website also contains thousands of "Foundation Tales", short stories set within the universe of the SCP Foundation. The series has been praised for its ability to convey horror through its scientific and academic writing style, as well as for its high standards of quality.
The Foundation has inspired numerous spin-off works, including the horror indie video game SCP – Containment Breach.
Overview of the seriesWithin the website's fictional setting, the SCP Foundation is a secret organization entrusted by governments around the globe to contain and study anomalous individuals, entities, locations, objects, and phenomena operating outside the bounds of natural law. If left uncontained, the objects would pose a direct threat to human life and humanity's perceptions of reality and normalcy.
The existence of SCPs is withheld from the public to prevent mass panic and to allow human civilization to function normally. When an SCP is discovered, the SCP Foundation deploys agents either to collect and transport the SCP to a Foundation facility, or to contain it at its location of discovery if transport is not possible. Once SCPs are contained, they are studied by Foundation scientists. Test subjects acquired by the Foundation are used to interact with dangerous SCPs due to the danger posed by those SCPs and the expendability of the D-class.
The SCP Foundation maintains documentation for all of the SCPs in its custody, which can include or link to related reports and files. These documents describe the SCPs and include instructions for keeping them safely contained.
Examples of contained SCPs
- SCP-055 is something that causes anyone who examines it to forget its various characteristics, thus making it indescribable except in terms of what it is not.
- SCP-087 is a staircase that appears to descend forever. The staircase is inhabited by SCP-087-1, which is described as a face without a mouth, pupils or nostrils.
- SCP-108 is a Nazi bunker system that is only accessible through a portal found in a woman's nose.
- SCP-173 is a humanoid statue composed of rebar, concrete and Krylon spray paint. It is stationary when directly observed, but it attacks people and snaps their neck when line of sight with it is broken. It is extremely fast, to the point where it can move multiple meters while the observer is blinking.
- SCP-294 is a coffee machine that can dispense anything that does or can exist in liquid form.
- SCP-426 is a toaster that can only be referred to in the first person.
- SCP-1171 is a home whose windows are always covered in condensation; by writing in the condensation on the glass, it is possible to communicate with an extra-dimensional entity whose windows are likewise covered in condensation. This entity bears significant hostility towards humans but does not know that the Foundation members are humans.
- SCP-1609 is a mulch that teleports into the lungs of anyone who approaches it in an aggressive fashion or while wearing a uniform. It was previously a peaceful chair that teleported to whichever nearby person felt the need to sit down, but it entered its current aggressive state after being inserted into a woodchipper by a rival organization.
- SCP-3008 is an IKEA retail store that has an infinite interior space with no outer physical bounds, causing prospective customers to be trapped after they become lost within the pocket dimensional world. It contains a rudimentary civilization formed by those customers, who are forced to defend themselves against humanoids designated as SCP-3008-2, which resemble IKEA employees and become aggressive during the night.
The SCP Foundation contains over three thousand short stories referred to as "Foundation Tales". The stories are set within the world of the SCP Foundation, and often focus on or reference SCP Foundation staff or SCP entities. Gregory Burkart, writing for Blumhouse Productions, noted that some of the Foundation Tales had a dark and bleak tone, while others were "surprisingly light-hearted".
The SCP Foundation lacks a central canon, but stories on the wiki are frequently linked together to create larger narratives. Contributors have the ability to create "canons", which are clusters of SCPs and Foundation Tales with similar locations, characters, or central plot. Many "canons" have hub pages that explain their basic concept and provide information such as timelines and character lists.
The genres covered have been described as science fiction, urban fantasy and horror.
CommunityThe SCP Foundation series originated in the "paranormal" /x/ forum of 4chan, where the first special containment procedure, SCP-173, was posted in 2007. Many additional special containment procedures were created shortly after; these new SCPs copied SCP-173's style and were set within the same fictional universe. A stand-alone wiki was created in January 2008 on the EditThis wiki hosting service to display the SCP articles. The EditThis website did not have moderators, or the ability to delete articles. Members communicated through individual article talk pages and the /x/ board; the website lacked a central discussion forum. In July 2008, the SCP Foundation series was transferred to its current Wikidot website after EditThis switched to a paid model.
The current Wikidot website contains numerous standard wiki features such as keyword searches and article lists. The wiki also contains a news hub, guides for writers and a central discussion forum. The wiki is moderated by staff teams; each team is responsible for a different function such as community outreach and discipline. Wikidot users are required to submit an application before they are allowed to post content. Every article on the wiki is assigned a discussion page, where members can evaluate and provide constructive criticism on submitted stories. The discussion pages are frequently used by authors to improve their stories. Members also have the ability to "upvote" articles they like and to "downvote" articles they dislike; articles that receive too many net downvotes are deleted. Writers from the Daily Dot and Bustle have noted that the website maintains strict quality control standards, and that sub-par content tends to be quickly removed.
The Wikidot website routinely holds creative writing contests to encourage submissions. For example, in November 2014, the SCP Foundation held a "Dystopia Contest" in which its members were encouraged to submit writings about the Foundation set in a bleak or degraded world.
The Wanderer's Library is a sister website to the SCP Foundation. It is set in the same universe as the SCP Foundation, but consists of fantastical stories rather than scientific reports. The SCP Foundation also maintains a role-playing community, a forum on Reddit, a DeviantArt group, two Tumblr blogs, and a Facebook and Twitter account. Apart from the original English community, thirteen official foreign language branches exist.
ReceptionThe SCP Foundation has received largely positive reviews. Michelle Starr of CNET praised the creepy nature of the series. Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, writing for the Daily Dot, praised the originality of the SCP Foundation and described it as the "most uniquely compelling horror writing on the Internet". She noted that special containment procedures rarely contained gratuitous gore. Rather, the horror of the series was often established through the reports' "pragmatic" and "deadpan" style, as well as through the inclusion of detail. Lisa Suhay, writing for the Christian Science Monitor, also noted the SCP Foundation's "tongue-in-cheek style".
Alex Eichler, writing for io9, noted that the series had varying levels of quality and that some of the reports were dull or repetitive. However, he praised the SCP Foundation for not becoming overly dark, and for containing more light-hearted reports. Additionally, he praised the wide variety of concepts covered in the report and said that the SCP Foundation contained writings that would appeal to all readers. Leigh Alexander, writing for The Guardian, noted that the wiki's voting system allows readers to easily locate content which "the community thinks are best and most scary."
Winston Cook-Wilson, writing for Inverse, compared the SCP Foundation to the writings of American author H. P. Lovecraft. Like Lovecraft, SCP Foundation case files generally lack action sequences and are written in a pseudo-academic tone. Cook-Wilson argued that both Lovecraft's works and those of the SCP Foundation were strengthened by the tensions between their detached scientific tone and the unsettling, horrific nature of the stories being told.
Bryan Alexander, writing in The New Digital Storytelling stated that the SCP Foundation is possibly "the most advanced achievement of wiki storytelling" due to the large-scale and recurring process through which the SCP Foundation's user-base creates literary content.
Andrew Paul, writing for Dark Web on Medium, noted the large variety in style throughout the works and related the short-writing format to current trends in digital media such as Snapchat and Vine. He also describes its bureaucratic tone's political parallels, which in his eyes adds to the horror.
Cultural impactSCP Foundation: Iris Through the Looking-Glass is a light novel series written by Akira and illustrated by Sidu. The book focuses on a boy who is kidnapped by the SCP Foundation after he sees a picture of Iris, a female SCP, in every book he opens; the boy and Iris are forced to cooperate to escape the Foundation. The novel series began publication in Japan in September 2018, and was released by Seven Seas Entertainment in North America in January 2020.
In October 2014, a stage play entitled Welcome to the Ethics Committee was performed in Dublin at the Smock Alley Theatre. The play focused on the SCP Foundation's Ethics Committee, a body that tries to limit unethical containment procedures. In mid-2016, the Glasgow New Music Expedition under conductor Jessica Cottis performed works inspired by the SCP Foundation at the 10th annual Plug festival of contemporary music.
Video gamesThe SCP Foundation has inspired numerous independent video games:
- SCP – Containment Breach, one of the most popular games based on the SCP Foundation, was released by Finnish developer Joonas Rikkonen in 2012. The player character is an unnamed D-class who attempts to escape from a containment facility. The player must avoid armed Foundation guards and escaped SCPs, including SCP-173. The game includes a blink function, which makes the player close their eyes and allow SCP-173 to approach.
- SCP Secret Laboratory is a multiplayer game based on Containment Breach. Players have the option of playing as an SCP, an escaping scientist, a D-class, the armed militia of the defending SCP Foundation or the attacking Chaos Insurgency. Other video games include SCP-3008, and SCP-087.
- Control, a video game created by Remedy Entertainment, was first revealed at E3 2018 and was released in August 2019. The video game was heavily influenced by the SCP Foundation, with the game centered on a fictional Federal Bureau of Control that collects mundane objects imbued with paranormal influence to study and keep secure.