%% Image from Pripyat, a ghost town near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Pripyat-ab0728110_2700.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[MemeticMutation Abandoned clown train remembers you.]]]]

There's just something about the image of a playground that's been abandoned and neglected: chipped paint, rusted or partially decayed metal frames, overgrown sandbox, empty swings swaying ominously in the breeze, the conspicuous absence of the normal [[PlaygroundSong sounds]] of children playing and laughing. Everything seems empty and broken, in contrast to the usual cheerful feeling that a place where children gather is supposed to invoke. The scene may be creepy, or just forlorn.

Sometimes this is used to illustrate the nostalgic longing for a disappeared childhood and the [[GrowingUpSucks pain of growing up]], or the loss of innocence. Other times the Abandoned Playground is home to a CreepyChild humming an IronicNurseryTune, or haunted by [[UndeadChild ghost children]], either [[StringyHairedGhostGirl stringy-haired]] or {{cute|GhostGirl}}.

This could also include playgrounds that aren't actually abandoned, just empty. Visiting a place like this after hours when all the children have gone home can be equally strange and unsettling.

Or it may be a good place for our protagonists to [[TraumaSwing sit and contemplate their problems]]. The image provides a well of symbolism for writers to dip into, which is probably why these places appear so much in fiction.

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!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* An empty playground shows up in ''{{End of Evangelion}}'' as a metaphor for... [[MindScrew something, probably]].
* One rather creepy scene in ''{{Paprika}}'' is set in one of these.
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[[folder:Comicbooks]]
* This featured in Garth Ennis' ''Crossed,'' particulary the early ads for the series.
* A significant part of ''Comicbook/TheKillingJoke'' takes place in a most derelict amusement park that TheJoker 'bought' for his own purposes.
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[[folder:Fanfiction]]
* In ''FanFic/AeonEntelechyEvangelion'' in the dome where Rei lives (and the Dome itself is a GhostTown) there is a "recreational area", a small patch of grass with the tree (probably transplanted) on it, which has a [[FirstEncounterAssaultRecon swing]].
* {{Subverted}} in ''Fanfic/AllInTheFamily''. The Warden and the Mistress head out for this in Chapter 3. It then turns out not to be abandoned after all, as a mom with a young daughter comes along and kicks them off a swing.
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[[folder:Film]]
* In the movie ''Film/ChildrenOfMen'', Ki sits on the swing at an abandoned schoolyard during a quiet moment. It's wouldn't be notable except in another movie, but here the playground is abandoned because [[spoiler:nobody on earth has been pregnant for decades and all children have grown up]]. This is especially significant for Ki because MAJOR SPOILER:[[spoiler:she is pregnant]]
* ''Film/JasonGoesToHellTheFinalFriday''. Outside of Jason's old, abandoned home is a small playground where the protagonists battle Jason at night.
* Used in ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay'' in a brief piece recapping how the future's going to turn out. Optional skulls added.
* ''Film/{{Flatliners}}''. While David Labraccio is trying to track down Winnie Hicks so he can apologize to her, he goes to the school playground where he tormented her as a child. We see it as it was (with all of the children), then the children fade away leaving just the AbandonedPlayground, revealing that the scene we just saw was Labraccio's memory.
* The French short ''Replay'' explores the emotions of a boy in a Fallout-style dead and deadly world, and he finds his way to a park like this in a nearby ruined city. Watchable [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-cFHeoXAw8 here]].
* The playground at the beginning of the '70s version of ''{{Invasion of the Body Snatchers}}'' isn't abandoned, either, but something about it is just ''off'' and disturbing, maybe it's the sounds or something...
** Look carefully in that scene. Robert Duvall, in a priest costume, is on one of the swings.
* There's one in ''Film/TheExorcist'', too.
* Featured in a deleted scene of the ''Film/DawnOfTheDead2004'' remake, set right after Kenneth finds Anna. There are lots of toys lying around and a baby carriage too.
* The ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' movie ''Film/{{Serenity}}'' has one of these in the [[spoiler:newly destroyed by Alliance forces]] colony on Haven. River wanders through one and get a nice [[FramedSubject framed shot]] between a swing set that is on fire.
* ''Film/{{Koyaanisqatsi}}'' includes some shots of an abandoned playground in the abandoned Pruitt-Igoe housing project, just before its demolition.
* ''Film/RedDawn1984'': Matt and Jed are sitting in one of these [[spoiler: as they die]].
* The film of ''Film/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban'' features one of these as Harry runs away from the Dursleys' place at night. For some reason that is never explained, the swingset and merry-go-round start to move on their own.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* In ''Literature/{{Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban}}'', he sits in an abandoned playground after a fight with the Dursleys when the Grim appears. The playground is only empty because it's the middle of the night, but in [[Film/HarryPotter the movie version]], art director DaveMcKean makes the scene surprisingly creepy, even though it's daylight.
** And in ''[[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix Order of the Phoenix]]'', Dudley and his friends show up there just before the Dementors arrive.
* The FictionalVideoGame in ''Literature/EndersGame'' has a creepy playground level, inhabited by children who turn out to be wolves. Ender has to kill them to proceed.
* The Literature/FatherBrown story "The God of the Gongs":
--> "A bird flew over it in silence. And I felt that no man would ever be happy there again."
* Creator/RichardBrautigan has one of these in ''Literature/AConfederateGeneralFromBigSur''. Lee's friend Elizabeth lives in a rustic cabin with her children, but when Lee and Jesse visit nobody's home. Jesse is slightly unnerved by the abandoned playthings in the yard including a game the children had made with dirt, abalone shells and deer antlers: "Perhaps it wasn't a game at all, only the grave of a game." (Elizabeth's all right, though; she turns up later in the story, and presumably the kids are fine.)
* ''Literature/{{Dexter}} is Delicious'' features Buccaneer Land, an abandoned amusement park Dexter and Deborah used to love when they were children. It has fallen into disrepair and is now home to a bunch of fake vampires [[spoiler:and real cannibals]].
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/AreYouAfraidOfTheDark'' has this in the theme song.
* In Season 2 of ''TheWire'', after Ziggy confesses to murder, his cousin Nick gets drunk in the old playground where they used to play and reminisces about it. In Season 3, drug kingpin Marlo holds court in an abandoned park/playground because it's difficult to bug.
* In one of the early seasons of ''Series/{{Charmed}}'', Prue and Phoebe get stuck in one of these. [[spoiler:Home of all the creepy demon kids the Ice Cream Truck Man drops there, and The Nothing will slowly pick off anything that lives there.]]
* The Barracks on ''Series/{{Lost}}'' have a swingset, which was used happily by the Dharma kids (Ben, Charlotte) in the 70s. However, in present day it just serves as a reminder that the Others can't have children.
* In ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' there's a boy who's been left at the playground. It's dark, and he's the last one there, and then Drusilla shows up. Fortunately for him Angel shows up and stops her.
** The episode where Buffy reaches her eighteenth birthday has an ActionPrologue of Buffy fighting a vampire in a playground at night, with all the 'leave childhood behind' metaphors that implies.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' Sam notices that a playground is empty at four in the afternoon; it's the first sign that something is wrong with that town's children.
* ''Series/TheFugitive'' had its series finale set in an abandoned amusement park.
* ''{{Dollhouse}}''. Echo is programmed to believe she's a baby's mother in "Instinct". At the end of the episode when she's forced to give the child up, she sits in a playground in the park at night with her handler.
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[[folder: Music]]
* Music/{{Covenant}} mentions one of these in "The Road", based on the CormacMcCarthy [[Literature/TheRoad novel]] and film. "This was a fairground not long ago, a Ferris wheel and a proper show."
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The ''Tabletopgame/LittleFears: Nightmare Edition'' has one of these in Closetland, made worse by being intended to kill or trap children on top of it.
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[[folder:Videogames]]
* The PC game ''ThePath'' features one of these. The site is [[spoiler: where Ruby meets the wolf]].
* There's one in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' in the slums of Midgar.
* There's a few in ''VideoGame/{{Half-Life 2}}'', which are both creepy to see and fun to explore - a lot of the equipment responds to the physics engine. They're abandoned since humanity's reproduction was repressed 20 years prior, so [[HideYourChildren all the kids are grown up and there's no replacements being born]]. You can also hear the faint laughing of children in the first one you come across.
* ''SilentHillHomecoming'' has an abandoned playground. [[spoiler:You can find a photograph by the slide!]]
** ''SilentHillShatteredMemories'' also has one, and in a possible callback you can find an Echo Photo and Echo Message there.
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' has several irradiated children's playgrounds.
** The most prominent example (because it factors into an early, and very long, quest) would be the town of Minefield. As the name implies, it's full of mines [[spoiler: and a sniper]]. The quest involves making it to a certain part of the playground and (optionally) taking back a mine with you.
** The DLC ''Point Lookout'' has an abandoned fairground.
* ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' features these on at least two occasions. One is the playground where [[spoiler:Jackson dies soon after the nuclear blast]]. The other is in the Pripyat flashback. Both scenes are made even creeper by ghostly voices and laughter of children that are no longer there.
** There's also one outside the Afghani school in ''ModernWarfare 2''.
* ''VideoGame/{{STALKER}}'' features the same playground in Pripyat that appears in ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare''. This playground exists in real life.
* ''[[VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps Call of Duty: Black Ops]]'' also has an empty playground. It's in the level "Rebirth", right in the middle of the area covered with [[DeadlyGas Nova-6]].
* There's some creepy old playground equipment, complete with squeaking swing, next to the restaurant at the gas station in ''Barrow Hill''.
* The playground in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' gets this treatment whenever [[TokenMiniMoe Ilya]] isn't around to play with you, particularly in the Heaven's Feel Route. Said route also has Shirou sit down on a bench to contemplate whether to save the girl or save the world.
* In an outdoor level of ''{{Metro 2033}}'' there is one of these, and when you enter it, you see a flashback of kids playing. When the flashback ends, some of the equipment is still moving and you see a Dark One observing you.
* In ''VideoGame/Left4Dead2'' there's an abandoned playground in the level of ''Hard Rain'', this serves as a landmark for the player(s) when they're getting back to the boat.
* There is a playground right outside the house on the first part of ''VideoGame/SlenderTheArrival''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* WebAnimation/HomestarRunner has Papa Cardgage's Puddin Patch, from the Strong Bad email "unlicensed". It's a sketchy day-care with cinder-block walls decorated with OffModel pictures of Strong Bad and the Cheat, a barbed-wire fence, a ''ChalkOutline'' in the front yard, and no one there but [[CrazyHomelessPeople Senor Cardgage]] singing a vaguely-creepy nursery song:
-->'''Senor Cardgage:''' (''to the tune of "Frere Jacques"'') Where is Tompkins? Where is Cole Slaw? Here I am...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* One entry in ''WebVideo/MarbleHornets'' has Alex fleeing (or [[AlternateCharacterInterpretation seeking out]]) the Slender Man in a deserted playground.
** And then again in Entry #70 when he apparently returns to the same playground.
* Subverted in ''WebVideo/SuburbanKnights'', in which they battle on a playground that appears to be abandoned until a mother and daughter come to play. Angry Joe protests [[HypocriticalHumor that the girl's too old to play there]], and gets a DopeSlap from an [[EvenEvilHasStandards outraged bad guy]]. They try to continue the battle on ''another'' one, but [[spoiler:the [=TGWTG=] team escape before the Cloaks set up.]]
** Plus, [[spoiler: it's not as cool as the previous one.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' -- Season 7, [[Recap/TheSimpsonsS7E6TreehouseOfHorrorVI Treehouse of Horror VI]], Segment: Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace. Bart battles Willy at night in a foreboding, nightmare playground which is empty until the battle.
** Parodied in another episode where Bart calmly strolls through one (with an IronicNurseryTune playing in the background), with complete GenreBlindness.
* On ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'', there was an abandoned playground in the vasectomy clinic video showing the wonders of a childless future.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', turns out that Robot Hell is located in a abandoned amusement park. In New Jersey!
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Prypiat has a few that can be seen in documentaries. (But that comes with the whole "city of creepy abandoned stuff" thing.)
* Not sure if a theme park counts, but Six Flags New Orleans. It closed in 2005 to prepare for Hurricane Katrina and never reopened. It's ''creepy as fuck'' and unfortunately it's due to be torn down in...who knows when.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4JwgmPEIDQ River Country]], the first water park at Walt Disney World Resort was closed in 2001 and currently sits abandoned but thanks to being really close to the other Disney parks and hotels in Orlando is visable for other locations. Abandoned for various reasons that inculding high levels of a potentally dangerous amoeba in the lake water that was used in the park, a law that protects tourists from local unfiltered lake water, and a large drop in attendance thanks to being pitted against the larger Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks. Dispite being closed for several years the lights are still on, the music still plays, and the plumbing still works, there's abandoned furniture and clothing and toys laying around, the slides and stairs are overgrown with vegetation to the point of being barely visible, and the man made river and pools are stagment and/or nearly evaporated. Incredibly frightening if you find pictures people have taken of inside the buildings.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpyfW4LxaZ0&feature=watch_response Water Wonderland]] near Odessa, Texas.
* [[http://www.forgottenoh.com/Chippewa/chippewa.html Chippewa Lake Amusement Park]] was a very well known abandoned park in the American Midwest. When the park was closed in 1978 all of the still functional rides and buildings were simply left on the property untouched and unmaintained for 31 years. Time took it's course and the everything soon broke down and were overgrown by plants and trees. The buildings became dilapidated and most burned down and or collapsed from fire damage in the mid-2000's. However, many rides and a single building (the hamburger stand) continued to stand in varying states of decay. Most famously the [[http://www.forgottenoh.com/Chippewa/chpwa-ro-ferris1.jpg Ferris Wheel]] and [[http://www.forgottenoh.com/Chippewa/chpwa-ro-bigdip1.jpg Roller]] [[http://www.forgottenoh.com/Chippewa/chpwa-ro-mouse3.jpg Coasters]] which had trees growing in and through them.
** As of 2010-2011 the park is now being torn down. The hamburger stand and coaster have been demolished and the remains of buildings and rides will be likely be removed soon. The Ferris wheel and tumble bug ride are being saved to be possibly be restored.
* [[SchmuckBait Search with these words on Flickr.]]
* Americana Amusement Park, shown in ''Series/LifeAfterPeople''.
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