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[[quoteright:325:[[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_baator_5565.jpg]]]]

It's not bad enough to have just one plane of eternal torment. Many times, {{Hell}} has multiple layers, with those layers being tailored toward punishing certain kinds of evil, and the ones further down holding even more horrible punishments than the upper layers. FireAndBrimstoneHell is usually just one of the lesser levels; sometimes they ''really'' get [[CoolAndUnusualPunishment creative]].

Often, Heaven will have a number of layers as well, corresponding to varying degrees of holiness and/or purity.

'''As a DeathTrope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.'''

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!!Examples:

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Manga/DragonBall'', Hell - also known as the [[{{Bowdlerise}} Home For Infinite Losers]] - seems to have a number of layers.
* ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'', where Younger Toguro requests to be sent to the last circle of hell, which is 10,000 years of torture for 10,000 cycles until his soul ceases to exist.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'': Although the real 'Hell' hasn't been seen, Impel Down, the strongest prison in the One Piece world is based on this, having each layers of prison floors a hell, (ie: Level 2 is 'Beast Hell', level 5 is 'Freezing Hell and etc..)
* The fourth ''{{Bleach}}'' movie mostly takes place in Hell. The first layer of Hell is a "city" of floating gray blocks with blue walkways between them all under a [[RedSkyTakeWarning red sky]]. The guards, called Kushanada, mostly patrol this layer, which contains damned souls that have gone insane. The second layer is a vast sea with stone platforms and giant bowl-like sculptures shaped like lillies floating on it. At least one has a Kushanada skeleton impaled within it. The sky here is a lavender color. The third layer has the bottom of the sea as its "sky" and is made of several plateaus pockmarked with pits of yellow liquid. The liquid can harm souls and is deep enough to hide Kushanada. The spaces between the palteaus are filled with clouds. The fourth layer is covered in dunes of blue grit, which formed from countless damned souls [[CessationOfExistence dying again]]. The most prominent landmark is a Stonehenge-like structure that partly encircles a LavaPit that has a giant humanoid skeleton halfway out of it. The horizon is concealed by yellow clouds which also fill the sky. The lowest layer is dotted with irregular pillars topped with lava pits. The Kushanada can emerge from the pillars. Rivers of lava flow between the pillars under a perpetual thunderstorm. Bones of various sizes cover most of the solid ground there.
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[[folder:Comicbooks]]
* ''{{Spawn}}'' features ten spheres of hell. They're distinguished from one another more by their native fauna than by their prisoners.
* DC's crossover ''ComicBook/UnderworldUnleashed'' used this model for Neron's hell.
* The ComicBook/XMen went into Hell once to save Nightcrawler's soul. It resembled Dante's Hell.
* [[Creator/MarvelComics Mephisto]]'s Hell is intentionally modeled after this, to intimidate the damned mortal souls who end up there.
* Two DisneyComics adaptations of ''TheDivineComedy'', [[MickeyMouse Mickey's]] Inferno and [[DonaldDuck Donald's]] Inferno. Both have the circles being of specific, family-friendly sins.
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' (the comic book incarnation) once featured Kirk, Spock, and [=McCoy=] having to get to the bottom of Dante's Inferno...so that Spock could mind-meld with "Lucifer" -- actually the powerful but sick alien telepath who'd incapacitated the entire ''Enterprise'' with the illusion (he'd read the actual book shortly beforehand) -- and snap him out of it, restoring things to normal.
* Zander Cannon's ''ComicBook/{{Heck}}'' uses [[Literature/TheDivineComedy Dante's map]] exactly: the nine circles, the horrific punishment, Satan at the center, the whole thing.
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[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''FanFic/StarsAbove'': The Nine, the story's antagonists, modeled themselves after the Circles of Hell in ''TheDivineComedy''.
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[[folder:Film]]
* Referenced in ''LiarLiar'': Fletcher, unable to lie, declares that he has "slipped into the seventh circle of hell."
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[[folder:Literature]]
* OlderThanPrint: Dante's ''[[Literature/TheDivineComedy Inferno]]'' isn't the TropeMaker, as it's based on some apocryphal scriptures, merely the TropeCodifier for the West. It's often not mentioned that Dante's Heaven and Purgatory are built in a similar way, with Purgatory having "terraces"--it's a step-shaped mountain--based on the SevenDeadlySins and Heaven having nine "spheres" associated with the Ptolemaic (geocentric) model of the Universe based on the Christian SevenCardinalVirtues with some modifications (e.g., the lower/inner three spheres are based on those in Heaven who were nevertheless deficient in some virtue) plus the otherworldly Empyrean (the abode of God).
* Midkemia in ''TheRiftwarCycle'' is sandwiched between seven hells and seven heavens, though it is pointed out that whether a plane is heaven or hell is subjective to the individual (i.e. Midkemia would be considered the First Heaven to someone from what they consider the First Hell, and vice versa). Also, it may go further up ''and'' down; it's merely that once you reach the seventh layer either direction, human minds are no longer capable of comprehending what's going on.
* Invoked, naturally enough, in Creator/LarryNiven and Jerry Pournelle's ''Literature/{{Inferno}}'', which is a 20th century take on Dante.
* In Jodi Picoult's ''The Tenth Circle'', Daniel, one of the main characters, creates a comic book about traveling through the circles of hell to rescue his daughter. It reflects off the struggles he's having at home.
* In the ''IncarnationsOfImmortality'' series, both Heaven and Hell possess different circles/regions. Where you end up depends on what kind of person you were in life. In Heaven you go to different circles if you were a philosopher or a military leader. In Hell people who litter ([[KnightTemplar yes]]) are forced to pick up litter in the freezing cold without any clothes until they've picked up as much litter as they contributed to, directly or indirectly, in life... though since this was shown and explained by Satan while giving a third party a supervised "tour" of Hell, its truthfulness is highly questionable, at best.
* In L. Jagi Lamplighter's ''[[ProsperosDaughter Prospero in Hell]]'', there are regions to Hell. Worse, there are Hellwinds which will blow you back to the appropriate place, even if you're a visiting still alive mortal.
* In ASongOfIceAndFire the main religion of Westeros is known to have seven gods (one of whom, the Father, is explicitly identified as a judge,) and seven hells, but no details of the hells are ever given, so it's unknown whether they belong to specific gods or are tailored to specific sins or have any sort of hierarchy of punishment.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Referenced by Shepherd Book in the ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds."
-->'''Book:''' If you take sexual advantage of her, you're going to burn in a [[MemeticMutation very special level of hell]]. A level they reserve for child molesters [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and people who talk at the theater]].
* An episode of ''Series/{{Angel}}'' had a characer trapped in a suburban style part of hell and Angel had to bust him out. Spike tagged along and told him that there's more than one Hell such as a "Freezing Hell".
* In the final episode of ''Series/{{Hex}}'', Mehpistopheles drily comments to Leon: "Well, if you'd been on a permanent loop through the nine circles of hell, you wouldn't look too hot either".
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[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
* Both the Aztec and Maya Underworlds are divided into 9 levels. In the Aztecs' case, Paradise and the Sky are also divided into 3 and 13 levels, respectively.
* The Hells of Buddhism are where people with particularly bad karma are reborn. They must live, die and be reborn again and again in whatever hell they're in until they have worked off all of their bad karma, which can last for many kalpas (eons) on end depending on which hell they're reborn in, with Avici, the lowest hell reserved for those who commit one or more of the [[MoralEventHorizon five unforgivable offenses in Buddhism]], being the longest in duration.
* The mix of Buddhism and local beliefs in East Asia has made Hell the [[CelestialBureaucracy Worst Bureaucracy Ever]].
* Somewhat inverted in Origen's notion of Hell. Hell itself was a level... of ''Heaven''.
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Outer Planes in ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', both good and bad (and neutral and lawful and chaotic) are almost always divided into different layers. However, a soul's actions in life determine which ''plane'' they end up on, usually not which layer of that plane. For example, those who lived a LawfulEvil existence wind up in Baator where their immortal soul is tortured to empower the devils who rule the plane, while evil warlords may face an eternity of war on the Infernal Battlefield of Acheron.
** The Nine Hells of Baator are obviously inspired by Dante, but the individual layers are tailored more to the [[DemonLordsAndArchdevils Archdevils]] who rule them rather than a particular type of damned soul. Dis for example is an infernal metropolis organized as an Orwellian police state under the paranoid schemer Dispater, while Maladomini is a reeking ruin fit for Baalzebul, the disgusting Lord of Flies. Malbolge is particularly disturbing for being made ''[[BloodyBowelsOfHell from]]'' its former ruler.
** The Abyss is probably infinite in horrifying variety, but tradition holds it consists of [[NumberOfTheBeast 666]] layers, each somehow worse than the last.
** The prison plane of Carceri is one that sends damned souls to a layer based on their mortal crimes. The Stygian bogs of Orthrys are home to political turncoats, while those who chose base lust over reason are consigned to the acidic jungles and razor-sharp grasslands of Cathrys. The unrelenting sandstorms of Minethys flay misers who refused to part with their wealth to help others, liars whose falsehoods brought others harm must cling to the cruel mountains of Colothys, while those too shallow and selfish to take the opportunity to help someone huddle on the freezing sandbars of Porphatys' stinging seas.
** As said before, even the good afterlives have layers. LawfulGood petitioners undertake a spiritual journey to progress up the Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia. By the time they reach the summit they either become such paragons of their philosophy that they merge with the plane itself, or perhaps AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence -- nobody knows since they don't come back.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Infernum}}'' is set in a Hell styled in this fashion, which is justified because demonic civilization literally arose from the 2400-miles-deep crater which Lucifer and the other First Fallen smashed into the land when they were flung from Heaven. The exterior of the crater, the First Circle, is called Emptiness -- a huge barren wasteland where even demons can get lost and wander forever. The bottom of the Pit is the Ninth Circle, the ancient city of Pandemonium. Descending from Emptiness to Pandemonium requires passing through Tempest[[note]]bitterly cold mountains ringing with eternal thunderstorms and maddening, ceaseless wind[[/note]], Tears[[note]]swamps, mudflats and rivers[[/note]], Toil[[note]]volcanic badlands and rocky hills[[/note]], Slaughter[[note]]mostly battlefield, with hints of plains and forests in the less war-scarred areas[[/note]], Industry[[note]]mostly city with some plains[[/note]], Delight[[note]]two-thirds forest, one third desert[[/note]], and the Malebolge[[note]]giant, deadly, volcanic mountains[[/note]] in that order.
* In both ''{{Warhammer}}'' and ''{{Warhammer 40000}}'', the [[GodOfEvil Chaos God]] [[SenseFreak Slaanesh]]'s palace is described in these terms, ringed by the [[ArcNumber six]] Circles of Desire: Avidity, Gluttony, Carnality, Paramountcy, Vainglory and finally Indolence. Each layer serves as a defensive mechanism, so that an intruder may be turned into a lifeless golden statue after lingering too long in Avidity, fall prey to the [[HornyDevils Daemonettes]] inhabiting Carnality, or become [[LotusEaterMachine trapped in Indolence until their body crumbles to dust]].
* The Seven Heavens of the world of the [[http://www.mimgames.com/cof/index.html Children of Fire]] RPG contain a number of realms that would be Hellish in the eyes of many a mortal. The Second Heaven is where the Fallen were cast down after [[{{Satan}} Sammael]]'s rebellion, and is a place of sightless torment. The northern realm of the Third Heaven, Tartarus, is where human sinners are punished, and is a desolate, lifeless place. Finally, the northern realm of the Fifth Heaven is where corrupted angels are punished.
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[[folder:Videogames]]
* NipponIchi, particularly ''Videogame/MakaiKingdom'' and ''Franchise/{{Disgaea}}'' not only has TheMultiverse, but multiple Netherworlds; occasionally warring on each other; much like the TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons version; but most are not nearly as GrimDark.
* ''VideoGame/DantesInferno'', natch. Since it's based on the TropeCodifier, they sure couldn't miss this one.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} IV'' mod ''VideoGame/FallFromHeaven'' has six circles of hell, one for each evil God/Goddess (except one, who was [[FaceHeelTurn originally good]]). Interestingly, hell in that universe isn't so much a prison for the wicked as it is a factory for the creation of demons to eventually wage war back on the outside world of Erebus. Each circle represents some aspect of evil to be cultivated in the inhabitants to turn them more and more demonic. There's even a circle of hell that [[LotusEaterMachine mimics Erebus]], designed to trick would-be-escapees of hell into giving up and returning to the other levels.
* Act III of ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights: [[ExpansionPack Hordes of the Underdark]]'' takes place in the frozen wastes of Cania, the eighth circle of Hell in the D&D cosmology.
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[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''CtrlAltDel'', like Dante, gives [[http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20090928 nine circles]], but they're for the different types of bastard you encounter in [=MMOs=]. {{Griefer}}s are forever spawn-camped, [[NinjaLooting Ninja Looters]] roll a 1 on every drop, and so on.
* Circles exist in ''Webcomic/AndShineHeavenNow'''s version of Hell. There's one specifically for people that get in the way of Integra's mission. Committing that sin takes precedent over any other sins the human or vampire may have committed (explained as because she's on a mission from God, fighting her is akin to fighting God).
* In ''[[http://www.jtillustration.com/hell Hell Lost]]'' Dante is revealed as being mistaken: they are not circles, in fact, but ledges that step down to the Frozen Plain described by Milton, where both a frozen lake and one of fire can be found.
* In ''DresdenCodak'', [[http://dresdencodak.com/2010/05/05/a-degenerate-prepares-for-hell/ plans for Hell involve figuring out which circle you end up in.]]
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[[folder:Web Originals]]
* ''TheOnion'' has an article with the headline [[http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28898 "Tenth Circle Added To Rapidly Growing Hell"]]. Corpadverticus, the realm of Total Bastards, is built to contain publicists and lobbyists, media whores, and awards-show hosts.
** Niven and Pournelle just stuck those types in Malebolgia with the rest of the flatterers (wallowing in shit).
*** They also added a second anus to them, which eternally flows with shit. It's right below their tongue (Spouting shit).
* [[http://www.squidi.net/comic/junkyard/img/punhell.png The Seven Levels of Pun Hell]].
* Barely anyone gets into Heaven in ''Bartleby Tales'' due to the God of the universe being a dick (only ''six'' souls out of virtually countless dead even made it to Heaven in the past year), so the first level of Hell was converted into the closest thing Satan could make to Heaven. The second (where the story is set) is AHellOfATime, helping people deprogram from a life spent following God's mindless taboos. The third through sixth are like purgatory, and only the seventh is a proper IronicHell (for people who're really, ''really'' evil.)
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' and all the levels of Robot Hell.
* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/GodTheDevilAndBob''. The Devil gets so wrapped up in his competition with God over Bob's soul (and, by extension, the fate of Earth) that his underlings turn the fourth circle into a luxurious golf course. When he finds out, he decides to show them what a tough course really looks like.
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