Scenery Dissonance YKTTW Discussion

Scenery Dissonance
Unpleasant events occurring in settings that are pleasant to look at.
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(permanent link) added: 2011-05-08 12:03:11 sponsor: neoYTPism edited by: Arivne (last reply: 2013-05-19 01:40:46)

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"He was distressed to think that something so nasty could happen somewhere as idyllic as this."

Do We Have This One?? Oh, and I'm open to title suggestions. (That, and suggestions for alternate page images, or reasons for or against the current one.)

(EDIT: THIS TROPE DOES NOT YET HAVE A DEFINITION. While unpleasant events with pleasant scenery qualify as this trope, whether or not pleasant events in unpleasant scenery qualify is as of yet undecided. Reasons for or against this go in the comments section.)

A form of Mood Dissonance, this is when unpleasant scenarios are presented in settings with pleasant scenery, or pleasant scenarios are presented in settings with unpleasant scenery.

For the former, the impact of the whole can be more than that of the sum of its parts, whether because it seems a waste that the character enjoyment of the scenery is curtailed by the situation, or for whichever other reason.

Compare Crapsaccharine World, except that this refers to a moment rather than the setting. See also Daylight Horror.

Subjective, of course.


  • Often happens in painting. Pre-Raphaelites and similar do this. Ophelia is a good example that you have probably seen, in fact there are several different versions, though the definitive one is linked here. Defiantly not a dead-horse in art one might add.

  • Many moments in Star Wars
  • Winter's Bone is a chain of horrible events, set in beautiful, snowy forests environments.
  • In In Bruges, the beauty of the titular city is a plot point. Almost all the main characters die. Some of them very gorily.
  • The movie The Rundown mostly takes place in beautiful South American jungles, contrasted with a brutally oppressed town and a lot of fast-paced gun violence...and some horny monkeys.
  • The original The Wicker Man - especially the final scene - was all about this.
  • The Thin Red Line is a recent-ish example of the "WWII in a tropical paradise" scenario mentioned above.
  • A lot of the ultraviolence in A Clockwork Orange takes place in picturesque surroundings: the abandoned casino, the writer's modernist house, the cat-lady's art gallery...

  • The Road contains some horrific things. Whether or not the washed-out, decaying landscape is beautiful or not can be debated.
  • Lord of the Flies takes place on a paradise island, and is about a group of schoolchildren growing increasingly savage and inhuman after losing contact with the civilized world.
  • The Republic Of Trees - a group of teenagers escape to the forest, trying to build a new society free from all the crap created by the adults and end up re-enacting the horrors of the French Revolution.
  • The nineteenth-century novel Lady Audleys Secret invokes this trope by specifically stating that though we might think of the English countryside as idyllic and pastoral, there are as many gruesome murders committed there as there are in the city.

Live-Action TV
  • Carnivāle takes place in some really scenic settings, and is features occasional horrifying violence.

  • The Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song "Where the Wild Roses Grow" is a murder ballad set in a very pretty environment. The video is a nice supplement.

Tabletop Games
  • Deliberately invoked in the Vampire: The Requiem sourcebook Chronicler's Guide. It suggested that whenever the characters had a confrontation with The Devil, the scene should always be a nice, comfortable surrounding, like a children's playground or a perfumed and clean restroom.

Video Games

Web Comics
  • Humon, author of the Niels, pretty much stated that she loves this trope. One scene has Niels quietly enjoying a beautiful sunset... while two cops slowly drown under the dock he sits on.

  • Truth in Television, as anyone who has looked at autumn scenery from a hospital room window could attest to.

EDIT: How do I make the image caption text smaller?
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