Created By: Earnest on March 25, 2013 Last Edited By: Earnest on October 1, 2014

Soul Trapping Location

You die here and you are doomed to haunt it.

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Trope
Characters who die at this location are Barred from the Afterlife and forced to become one of the ghosts in a Haunted House, Ghost Ship or the like. The Soul Trapping Location is an evil version of the Haunted Fetter. Rather than serve as the anchor for a ghost with Unfinished Business to remain in the material world, it is instead a jailor/Tailor-Made Prison that binds the Souls of people who would normally move on to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory to stay and haunt the immediate area.

It's worth reiterating that this isn't just a case of a person's ghost lingering around the area they died in (like Moaning Myrtle of Harry Potter) instead of progressing to the afterlife, but a specific location where (due to whatever reason) any and everyone who dies there is trapped there.

In some cases it may be able to corrupt those trapped into evil or at least compel the trapped souls to harm visitors. Though it's possible at least one (innocent) trapped soul is a Pro-Human Transhuman and tries to help the living visitors leave alive and/or destroy the force keeping them there.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In Digimon Adventure, any Digimon who died in human world will stay dead (while dying in Digital World will revive them in the Village of Beginnings). Wizardmon died this way, and in Digimon Adventure 02, his "ghost" appears in a secluded part of the school when the previous heroes visit it.

Comic Books
  • In Starman, Jon Valor was executed for the murder of his son, and cursed Opal City to remain ghosts with him until his name was cleared.

Film
  • The Ghost Ship in the aptly titled Ghost Ship has become cursed to the point of being an evil Genius Loci that beckons and traps sailors who enter it.
  • In Rose Red the titular mansion is one. It traps the souls of men who die there, but women are trapped as a sort of corporeal semi-living mummy, able to use ghostly illusion to seem alive. Like the Overlook Hotel in The Shinning it gets charged up if psychics are inside. This is a bit of a running theme in works by Stephen King.
  • As in the novel by Stephen King, the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is a Genius Loci Haunted House that collects the souls of those who die there to bolster its otherworldly mojo and can manifest them as ghosts. Unlike the novel, we actually see it happen to Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson.

Literature
  • In Anna Dressed in Blood, the serial-killer ghost Anna haunts an old house and everybody she murders (usually homeless folks looking for a roof to sleep under) is stuck in the Haunted House with her, as a ghost, forever.
  • The Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's The Shining is a Genius Loci Haunted House that collects the souls of those who die there to bolster its otherworldly mojo and can manifest them as ghosts. Those with powerful Psychic Powers (such as main character Danny) give it even more juice.

Live Action Tv
  • The Murder House in American Horror Story is this.
  • Angel: Wolfram & Hart's LA branch, thanks to the fact that an evil mage was sacrificed on its grounds. Thus when an employee dies, his ghost keeps their spirit there, so that he can send it to hell in his stead.
  • On Supernatural the brothers investigate an old mansion haunted by the evil ghost of its original owner. The ghost murders anyone who enters the house and then hides the bodies inside the house. The spirits of the victims are thus trapped in the house and cannot pass on to the afterlife. The oldest of the trapped ghosts have either gone completely mad or have dissipated into nothingness.

Tabletop Games
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons adventure Return to the Tomb of Horrors, Acererak's fortress is built in such way that the souls of any adventurers who die there immediately go to fuel his ritual to ascend to godhood.
  • While Ravenloft has a lot of ghosts, there aren't that many soul trapping locations. However the domain of Mordent, which has a ghost for a darklord and does condemn everyone who dies there to become one after death.
  • In the Pathfinder module The Harrowing, even souls cannot escape the pocket dimension the module is set in. Any mortal who is sucked into this dimension is doomed to become a wisp drifting over a great marsh after their death instead of moving on.
  • Also from Pathfinder: Anyone who is executed via a Galtian "final blade" (magical guillotine) has their soul permanently trapped inside said artifact, to prevent resurrection of criminals and particularly of anti-revolutionaries.

Video Games
  • Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden has Leonard, a janitor who is working at the old Spalding factory in Old Neo New York. As the heroes travel around, he keeps talking about bringing them to his boss. It is revealed in intermittent cutscenes that Leonard was actually killed in a misaimed Slam, being reduced into a ghost doomed to walk around the factory. He finds this out when the heroes ask him about the last time he went home.
  • In The Elder Scrolls once the souls in a Soul Gem are used up, they're sent to the Soul Cairn to be condemned for all eternity.
  • In Seiken Densetsu 3, there is a ghost ship. While you can conceivably free the girl trapped on the ship, this means party members have to stay behind.
  • The city of Lea Monde in Vagrant Story lays claim to any soul that dies within and causes them to become walking corpses.

Visual Novel
  • In Corpse Party, the victims of Heavenly Host Elementary School are doomed not only to remain there, but also to suffer the pain of their own death for eternity.

Web Comics
  • Sluggy Freelance: Kesandru house was designed to trap the ghosts of everyone who died there in order to power a ritual to bring the house's builder back from the Raythdom after his Faustian Bargain.

Folklore
  • This used to be done on purpose, burying people inside buildings so their souls can become 'eternal watchmen', and that this is the true origin of the song 'London Bridge Is Falling Down'.


Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • March 25, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • Sluggy Freelance: Kesandru house was designed to trap the ghosts of everyone who died there in order to power a ritual to bring the house's builder back from the Raythdom after his Faustian Bargain.
  • March 25, 2013
    Astaroth

    I think the Shalebridge Cradle in the Thief series does something similar, if someone more familiar with the setting's lore wants to write an example.
  • March 25, 2013
    MrRuano
    Barkley Shut Up And Jam Gaiden has Leonard, a janitor who is working at the old Spalding factory in Old Neo New York. As the heroes travel around, he keeps talking about bringing them to his boss. It is revealed in intermittent cutscenes that Leonard was actually killed in a misaimed Slam, being reduced into a ghost doomed to walk around the factory. He finds this out when the heroes ask him about the last time he went home.
  • March 26, 2013
    Koveras
    • Acererak's fortress in Return to the Tomb Of Horrors is built in such way that the souls of any adventurers who die there immediately go to fuel his ritual to ascend to godhood.
  • March 26, 2013
    Ryusui
    • In Corpse Party, the victims of Heavenly Host Elementary School are doomed not only to remain there, but also to suffer the pain of their own death for eternity.
  • March 26, 2013
    Arivne
  • March 26, 2013
    Chabal2
    Lancre Castle in Wyrd Sisters has hundreds of them, from King Verence to the animals used for feasts to a screaming woman in a chariot to two very young twins to a monkeyman over whose burial mound the castle was built. The witches get around the problem by taking a pebble from the castle home (the ghosts are bound to its stones).
  • March 26, 2013
    DracMonster
  • March 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • Angel: Wolfram & Hart's LA branch, thanks to the fact that an evil mage was sacrificed on its grounds. Thus when an employee dies, his ghost keeps their spirit there, so that he can send it to hell in his stead.
  • March 26, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    Literature:

    • In Anna Dressed In Blood, the serial-killer ghost Anna haunts an old house and everybody she murders (usually homeless folks looking for a roof to sleep under) is stuck in the Haunted House with her, as a ghost, forever.
  • March 27, 2013
    Gitaxias
    The entire plane of Ravnica in Magic The Gathering. It is later explained(sort of), but anyone that dies on Ravnica will linger as a ghost for a while, and might cause trouble if they die unpleasantly.
  • March 27, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    What was the explanation? Was it the Guildpact cutting Ravnica off from the Multiverse, or was it the time spiral fractures in Dominaria creating Agyrem and trapping all ghosts in there?
  • March 28, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Might be worth iterating that this is not just any case where somebody who died lingers around the area they died in (like Moaning Myrtle of Harry Potter) instead of progressing to the afterlife, but a specific location where (due to whatever reason) any and everyone who dies there is trapped there.
  • March 28, 2013
    DunDun
    The Murder House in American Horror Story is this.
  • March 28, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    I wonder if Ravnica is really a fair example. It's an entire world, so it's more a matter of worldbuilding to say "everybody who dies, ever, becomes a ghost."
  • March 29, 2013
    Stratadrake
    I agree.
  • May 19, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Horror trope.
  • May 19, 2014
    DAN004
    In Digimon Adventure, any Digimon who died in human world will stay dead (while dying in Digital World will revive them in the Village of Beginnings). Wizardmon died this way, and in Digimon Adventure 02, his "ghost" appears in a secluded part of the school when the previous heroes visit it.
  • May 19, 2014
    Arutema
    • In the Pathfinder module The Harrowing, even souls cannot escape the pocket dimension the module is set in. Any mortal who is sucked into this dimension is doomed to become a wisp drifting over a great marsh after their death instead of moving on.
  • May 19, 2014
    Koveras
    Would this count?

    • Also from Pathfinder: Anyone who is executed via a Galtian "final blade" (magical guillotine) has their soul permanently trapped inside said artifact, to prevent resurrection of criminals and particularly of anti-revolutionaries.
  • September 12, 2014
    SharleeD
    Wryd Sisters isn't really an example of this, actually. Yes, Lancre Castle has a lot of ghosts, but that's just because it's been around a very long time and a lot of the royals who've died there had Unfinished Business; quite a few people (and elves, and vampires) have died there without their souls being trapped.
  • September 12, 2014
    nielas
    • On Supernatural the brothers investigate an old mansion haunted by the evil ghost of its original owner. The ghost murders anyone who enters the house and then hides the bodies inside the house. The spirits of the victims are thus trapped in the house and cannot pass on to the afterlife. The oldest of the trapped ghosts have either gone completely mad or have dissipated into nothingness.
  • September 12, 2014
    Illemar
    In Comicbook/Starman, Jon Valor was executed for the murder of his son, and cursed Opal City to remain ghosts with him until his name was cleared.
  • September 13, 2014
    zarpaulus
    • In The Dresden Files: Skin Game the Gate of Blood has to be opened by a Shade, quite probably one who died there, and after pulling the lever the Shade is taken to Tartarus. Nicodemus tells his daughter Deirdre that it won't be as bad as the usual place those who make deals with Fallen angels go, before slitting her throat so she can open the Gate. But Harry remembers enough Greek Mythology to know that's not true.
  • September 26, 2014
    rmctagg09
    In The Elder Scrolls once the souls in a Soul Gem are used up, they're sent to the Soul Cairn to be condemned for all eternity.
  • September 26, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    I read once that they used to do this on purpose, burying people inside buildings so their souls can become 'eternal watchmen', and that this is the true origin of the song 'London Bridge Is Falling Down'.
  • September 26, 2014
    bulmabriefs144
    In Seiken Densetsu 3, there is a ghost ship. While you can conceivably free the girl trapped on the ship, this means party members have to stay behind.
  • September 26, 2014
    hbi2k
    Film

    Literature
  • September 27, 2014
    SharleeD
    Actually, while the Ravenloft setting does have a lot of ghosts etc, not everyone who dies there becomes one. That's only true of the domain of Mordent, which has a ghost for a darklord and does condemn everyone who dies there to become one after death.
  • September 30, 2014
    aurora369
    Russian folklore ascribes this property to the Kremlin, of all places. Nearly everyone who died there, from the medieval prince Ivan the Moneybag to the Soviet Marshal Akhromeyev, were allegedly seen there as ghosts.
  • October 1, 2014
    jormis29
    Shining in the Rose Red example is spelt wrong
  • October 1, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In Supernatural season 9 we learn that ever since Heaven got closed for business at the end of season 8 everyone who dies and isn't going to Hell just hangs around as a ghost near where they died because there's nowhere to go. It's getting very crowded.
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