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[[quoteright:350:[[ComicBook/ElfQuest http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dangerous_forest_8454.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:If you go down in the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise...]]

->''"Beware, beware, the Forest of Sin\\
None come out, though many go in."''
-->-- ''Literature/TheMinpins''

In horror/thriller/fantasy movies, holidays or outings in woodsy locations never seem to bode all that well. This trope is OlderThanDirt, with the wilderness being viewed as dangerous for much of human history.

Two or more people, often a group of teenagers, go for a casual hike or a vacation at a secluded retreat in the [[TheLostWoods deciduous wilderness of North America or Europe]]. Horrible things ensue. The soon-to-be-not-so-happy campers get stalked through the trees by [[AxCrazy psychopathic]] [[SerialKiller killers]]; they run afoul of [[CannibalClan tribes]] of [[HillbillyHorrors inbred hillbillies]]; ghosts, werewolves, witches, druids, fairies and other such beings toy with them; [[TheDarknessGazesBack malevolent eyes gaze at them from every shadow]]; perhaps even the [[WhenTreesAttack trees themselves attack them]]; [[ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight they hear strange noises in the night]]; people disappear; [[GoAmongMadPeople people go insane]].

[[DownerEnding Rarely do movies of this flavor end happily]]; often with everyone ends up dead, although there may be a FinalGirl. This has almost gotten to the point at which such movies almost have {{Foregone Conclusion}}s.

The {{horror}} equivalent of the HorribleCampingTrip; for a doomed wilderness expedition, see RiverOfInsanity; sometimes may overlap with WildWilderness but with much darker overtones. See also TheLostWoods, for when forests are portrayed as enchanted, mysterious and full of strange things, which may or may not overlap with this trope. Subtrope of DeadlyRoadTrip. See also SwampsAreEvil.



[[folder:Fairy Tales]]
* In ''Literature/HanselAndGretel'', a people-eating witch waits in the woods.
* In ''Literature/LittleRedRidingHood'', a people-eating ''wolf'' waits in the woods.
* Many stories feature a WickedStepmother and/or AbusiveParents sending their children specifically to the woods to die, whether of starvation or in hopes they'll be eaten. However, in some tales such as [[Film/{{Morozko}} Jack Frost]], the woods [[SubvertedTrope actually hide more benevolent/neutral creatures who help the protagonists]]. This is explicitly the theme of the old (early-1900's) play, "Babes In The Wood", with a wicked relative leaving the children to die in the woods so that said relative can inherit the children's estate. In the original, the children die and the birds come and cover them with leaves. After the appeal of this light tragedy wore off, there were many subverted versions made where the children survive somehow.

[[folder:Fan Works]]

* In ''Roleplay/WeAreAllPokemonTrainers'' Tagg lives next door to an area known as the Sea of Trees, which happens to be based on Aokigahara, the forest infamous for being the second-most popular spot for suicides in the world. It's infested with Ghost types and the souls of those who have died in the forest.
* In the Agatha & Sam Gaiden sidestory of ''Fanfic/PokemonResetBloodlines'' the title characters have to venture in the Drowning Woods at the base of Mt. Silver when Agatha's younger brother runs off on his own. Like the above example, it's also based on Aokigahara and infested with evil Ghost-types.
* In ''Fanfic/{{Popped}}'', Rainbow Dash and Applejack venture into a dense forest in an effort to find a missing Pinkie Pie. [[spoiler:Things don't exactly end well for either of them.]]


* In ''Film/{{Antichrist}}'', a couple retreats to a cabin in the woods after their baby falls out of the window while they are having sex. There, the wife goes AxCrazy, hits her husband in the testicles and attaches a millstone to his leg, and then cuts her clitoris off. He's forced to kill her and burn her corpse. Something to do with a fox, a deer and a bird. Also a more subtle, disturbing and creepy take on the trope, as it manifests as ''evil acorns'', forest animal stillbirths, and waking up with ticks all over your hand even ''before'' the genital mutilation.
* In ''Film/TheBlairWitchProject'', the evil in the woods of Burkittsville is never explicitly shown or explained, but it involves a dead child-killer, the ghosts of the children he killed and a witch or hairy creature that can mimic the voice of her victims. [[ApocalypticLog Things don't go well]] for a trio of film students who get lost in the woods
* In ''Film/CabinFever'', the kids go on a trip to a cabin in the woods and contract a flesh-eating disease. HilarityEnsues.
* Invoked in ''Film/TheCabinInTheWoods'' which focuses on this trope and - as its name points out - the cabin in the woods.
* The titular ''Film/DeadLands'' are described as a forbidden, scary place.
* In ''Film/{{Deliverance}}'', four yuppies go on a canoeing trip in the backwoods of Georgia and run afoul of the local hillbillies. One of them gets raped, another dies when going over a waterfall, and the three left alive have to defend themselves from a sniper up on a cliff.
* In ''Film/DogSoldiers'', a bunch of British marines on a training exercise in the forest get attacked by a pack of werewolves and are forced to hole up in a cottage, which turns out to be [[spoiler:owned by one of the werewolves themselves]].
* ''Film/DontGoInTheWoods'', about a group of campers who venture into the woods and come face to face with a deranged killer. More HilarityEnsues. [[{{Narm}} This time unintentionally]].
* ''Film/EdenLake'' has a young couple go to the English countryside, where they're set upon by a deranged band of children and teenagers. [[spoiler:It turns out their parents in the nearby town are even more deranged]].
* ''Film/TheEvilDead1981'', where a group of college students go to a cabin in the woods and accidentally unleash demons from a TomeOfEldritchLore. HilarityEnsues, including [[WhenTreesAttack tree rape]], DemonicPossession and, eventually, TimeTravel.
* In ''Film/TheFactsInTheCaseOfMisterHollow'' the woods of northern Ontario are where a SecretCircleOfSecrets[=/=]MysteryCult get up to the dirty business of worshipping ancient death-goddesses, and its heavily implied that HumanSacrifice is a part of that worship, as an OccultDetective examines a seemingly innocuous [[SpookyPhotographs photo]] of a group on a camping trip.
* ''Film/TheFinalTerror'' is set in a forest where a killer with a messy hair chases campers.
* Crazy cannibal hermit hunts people for food in ''Film/TheForest1982''. There are also ghosts.
* Two thirds of the ''Franchise/FridayThe13th'' installments, where generations of teenagers visit the infamous forestbound Camp Crystal Lake and/or its environs, and come up against the vengeful, hulking zombie of a drowned boy named Jason Voorhees (or [[MamaBear his equally vengeful mother]], or some [[LegacyCharacter random copycat killer]]). They're always being warned. They always ignore the warnings. They always lose the use of vital organs.
* ''Film/GrizzlyRage'': Four college students drive into the woods and quickly get targeted by a vengeful mutated bear.
* ''Film/Halloween5TheRevengeOfMichaelMyers'' ends with Michael Myers chasing the protagonists into an eerie, foggy woodlands with a car. When he crashes the car, he gets out completely unscathed and proceeds to stalk the victims through the forest with a butcher knife.
* In ''Film/HouseOfWax2005'', a bunch of teenagers (including Paris Hilton) driving on their way to a holiday (or some such) wind up in a seemingly deserted town in the middle of a forest, and fall prey to a pair of serial killers who turn all who come there into wax statues.
* ''Film/JustBeforeDawn'' is a typical SlasherMovie where bunch of twenty-somethings camp out deep in the woods and meet death. [[spoiler:What isn't so typical is the fact that [[TwoDunIt there are actually two killers]]]].
* Most of the action in ''Film/LemonTreePassage'' takes place in dense bush at night, when the protagonists go searching for their missing friends, and become easy prey for the malevolent force looking to pick them off.
* In ''Film/LesbianVampireKillers'', two down-on-their-luck young men go to the forests of Britain for a holiday and end up holed up in a cottage under siege by - you guessed it - {{Lesbian Vampire}}s.
* ''Film/LetterNeverSent'' is about four geologists who travel deep into the Siberian wilderness to hunt for diamonds, only to be caught in a harrowing struggle for survival after the forest catches fire.
* ''Film/TheLostWorldJurassicPark'' hits this in the third act, when the characters have to cross the [[TyrannosaurusRex tyrannosaur]] and [[RaptorAttack velociraptor]] territories to reach the old camp in the center of the island. Ironically, the moment the trope is played the most straight is when one of them leaves the group to go to the toilet and gets killed by a ZergRush of ''[[KillerRabbit Compsognathus]]''.
* In ''Film/{{Madman}}'', most of the "killer prowling for his prey" scenes happen in the forest surrounding the camp where the main cast work as counselors.
* The original ''Film/MothersDay'' features a trio of women going on a camping trip, only to be abducted by a family of psychopaths.
* In ''Film/NightOfTheDemon'', Holden breaks into Karswell's estate house late at night looking for crucial information, and is found out. Karwsell suggests he leave by the front door and out the drive, but Holden insists he'll go back through the woods he came through. As he leaves Karswell sighs "I ''told'' him not to go through the woods...he just wouldn't listen!" Holden encounters...''something'' in the dark...
* In ''Film/PansLabyrinth'', in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War a little girl whose mother is married to a fascist captain goes with her mother and stepfather to a retreat in the forest, where she gets wound up in (possibly imaginary) antics involving the fauns and fairies who live about the estate, discovering the secret to her past in the process. [[spoiler: Ultimately subverted in that the forest-dwelling fey creatures are good, despite being incredibly creepy. [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane Also, they're possibly not real in the first place]]]].
* ''Film/PicnicAtHangingRock'', more of a MindScrew than most such movies. A teacher and group of students venture into the Australian wilderness on a picnic. ''Something'' out there claims the girls one by one, and they're never seen again. Sort of an OlderThanTheyThink take on ''Film/TheBlairWitchProject''.
* Main cast of ''Film/{{Prophecy}}'' are stuck on forest in Maine ([[CaliforniaDoubling actually Canada]]) which is home to a killer bear that has been mutated by pollution from a local paper mill.
* ''Film/SimonSays'' involves a typical scenario of a group of teens deliberately looking for a remote location with bad history. Two strange guys tell them a story of a couple of twins, one of whom goes AxeCrazy and kills the other twin and their parents. The teens then meet a creepy long-nosed store owner (obviously, the same AxeCrazy twin) and head to the woods. Needless to say, the guy starts attacking them. There is another group of campers (adults, this time) who are killed by him in-between killing the teens.
* ''Film/SleepawayCamp''. Set primarily in [[SummerCampy a summer camp]], but at one point bunch of kids and a counselor venture into the woods. The kids never came back.
* ''WesternAnimation/StrangeMagic'': The fairies and elves are warned to not go into the dark forest or they'll be locked away forever by [[EvilOverLord the Bog King]].
* ''Film/TheresNothingOutThere'', complete with Lampshade Hangings a-plenty. There's even a scene where a van load of kids from a different movie show up.
-->"Isn't this the camp by the lake?"\\
"No! This is the cottage by the pond!"
* ''Film/{{Ticks}}'' has ticks mutated by herbal steroids swarming a forest.
* In ''Timber Falls'', a couple goes camping in the mountains and falls prey to a pair of deranged [[TheFundamentalist fundamentalist]] catholic maniacs.
* ''Film/TuckerAndDaleVsEvil'' parodies the trope: The preppy college kids camping in the woods ''think'' the hillbillies inhabiting in a rundown shack in the wilds belong here; in fact, it's their 'holiday home', they're fixing it up, and most of the confusion stems mainly from the college kids being prejudiced, elitist WrongGenreSavvy snobs who misinterpret the motives of the in-fact quite friendly and harmless (if not incredibly bright) hillbillies. It doesn't stop a lot of them dying in hilariously gory ways, however. Tucker and Dale even believe that the kids are part of some deranged murder-suicide pact.
* ''Film/TheVillage'' had this, with people being warned to stay out of the woods because of the monsters. When the girl protagonist goes to get help, she gets chased by them. [[spoiler:They turn out to be not real, but she only finds that out later]].
* In ''Film/TheVirginSpring'', two young Swedish women enter the spooky forest. They encounter a creepy old man in a cabin who might be Odin. Then one of them is raped and murdered by a pair of shepherds.
* ''Film/TheWatcherInTheWoods'', where a summer in the forest turns into an encounter with a wandering spirit and forces from another dimension.
* ''Film/{{Welp}}'' involves a Belgian Cub Scout troop going into French woods, where one of the Scouts begins to suspect a [[WildChild feral boy]] is stalking them. He's right to a degree, [[FromBadToWorse but it's actually a whole lot worse...]]
* In ''Film/TheWindmillMassacre'', the tourists have to trek through the woods to reach the mill after their bus breaks down (and falls into a canal). Most of the deaths occur in the woods rather than the mill.
* ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'' has the spooky forest around the Witch's castle, with a sign famously reading "I'd turn back if I were you!"
* ''Film/WrongTurn'' has a group of teenagers (and a former medical student) run into inbred cannibal hillbillies in the woods. The setting was also carried into the first two sequels, ''Film/WrongTurn2DeadEnd'' and ''Film/WrongTurn3LeftForDead''.
* ''Film/TheRitual'' features four friends taking a hike in Sweden to honor the memory of a fifth recently deceased friend. They decide to take a shortcut through a forest. Unfortunately, said forest is home to [[spoiler: an ancient Nordic god monster, possibly a daughter of Loki, and a village of people that worship her and give her human sacrifices.]]

* Creator/JRRTolkien:
** Mirkwood, haunted by a weakened shade of Sauron and a swarm of {{giant spider}}s. There are Wood-Elves living there, but they come across as far more sinister than many of the other elves in Middle-Earth.
** The Old Forest on the borders of the Shire, which is intelligent and actively hostile, as a result of being one of the last survivors (along with Mirkwood and Fangorn) of the old-growth forests that once covered most of the continent, the rest having largely been destroyed by Sauron's armies and by human expansion during the Second Age. It's full of thorny bushes that let people deeper into the forest but close up when they try to leave, it's actively tried to expand into settled land in the past, and in its depths waits [[WhenTreesAttack Old Man Willow]]...
** Fangorn Forest had a pretty bad reputation, probably due to the Ents' (a race of ultimately benevolent, though still dangerous, [[{{Treants}} tree-people]]) proclivity for taking down anything that might be a threat. Even Aragorn was wary of it. It's mostly due to the Huorns, trees that have woken up or Ents that have almost turned into trees (the process seems to go both ways). They aren't very intelligent, but they can move -- as fast as bullet train if needed -- and aggressively pursue anything they perceive as a threat if there are no Ents around to herd them.
** In the First Age there was the Forest Elf realm of Doriath. Technically it was one of the safest places at the time in Middle-Earth due to a magical barrier created by its Queen Melian meaning evil creatures couldn't enter. However, the barrier meant people who weren't invited would often get lost in the woods and die. Similar to Babes in the Wood, the twin princes Elured and Elurin are abandoned in the woods by the servants of Celegorm when the sons of Feanor sacked Doriath and their father King Dior was killed. Feanor's eldest son Maedhros repented and tried to find them but was unable to. It is left unclear what happened to them, though there is a story that says the birds and beasts led them to safety.
** The woods of Brethil in ''Literature/TheChildrenOfHurin'' are dangerous due to the large band of outlaws living there, the Gaurwaith (Sindarin for Wolf-Men). When he joined them, Turin made the wood dangerous for orcs by turning the outlaws into LaResistance.
%%* A recurring theme in the works of Creator/AlgernonBlackwood.
* In Arthur Machen's ''Literature/TheGreatGodPan'', some of Helen's earliest victims are driven to madness after going in the woods with her. (She is the daughter of the pagan nature deity Pan, who is depicted as a [[EldritchAbomination very dark force]].)
--> "Ah, mother, mother, why did you let me go in the forest with Helen?"
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'': The Forbidden Forest. The students are not allowed in for their own protection as the forest is host to a wide array of dangerous magical peoples and creatures, such as the [[ProudWarriorRace proud violent]] [[OurCentaursAreDifferent centaurs]] who consider the forest theirs to the exclusion of wizardkind and for whom "[[CategoryTraitor betrayals]]" like teaching human children are to be met with a [[PublicExecution painful execution]] and the [[ImAHumanitarian maneating]] [[GiantSpider Acromantula]].
* In the poem by Jacob Streilein ''WebAnimation/TheresAManInTheWoods'' an unjustly slandered teacher becomes the very thing the child behind his downfall said he was responsible for. "Do you hear that, Sid...? There's a man... in the woods!"
* In Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/TheGirlWhoLovedTomGordon'', the title character gets lost in the forests of LovecraftCountry.
* In the ''Literature/WarriorCats'' series, kittypets (house cats) are terrified of the woods, and tell stories about the savage wildcats that eat bones and the dangerous animals that live out there. Most feel that if you go into the woods, you won't come out, but some of them do like to explore there from time to time, and some actually join the Clans of cats that live out there.
* ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'':
** The Forest is filled with carnivorous trees, wolverines, and nasty witches and not a place to enter without caution. [[spoiler: Septimus and Nicko get almost killed in ''Flyte'' in this Forest]].
** In ''Queste'', [[spoiler: the forests of the Low Countries are also implied to be dangerous]].
* ''Literature/TheSwordOfShannara'': We don't recommend heading into the Black Oaks. There's wolves in there. Ironically, in trying to avoid it, the main characters stumble into the wraith-haunted [[SwampsAreEvil Mist Marsh]].
* Lois Lowry's ''Autumn Street'' is a children's book, not a horror story. But this trope definitely applies to [[spoiler:Charles]] near the end.
* The woods of Ithor in ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear: Spore''. Tash and Zak find out their ball has gone in there, and for once it's Zak who's inclined to be cautious and Tash who just goes in.
--> "It's so peaceful, [[TemptingFate I'm sure there's nothing dangerous here]]."
--> The sentence had barely left her mouth when [[WhenTreesAttack a bunch of vines wrapped themselves around Zak and pulled him into the air]].
* In Creator/DaveBarry's ''Literature/{{Twilight}}'' parody "Fangs of Endearment," one character tries to warn the protagonist (who, in a deliberate show of GenreBlindness, decides to grab the IdiotBall instead) not to go into the woods, and describes how a lot of hikers have died mysterious violent deaths there recently:
-->"I mean, sure, we usually get two or three violent-dismemberment hiker deaths a week around here; that's going on as long as anybody can remember. But a hundred and fifty-eight dead in two days seems like a lot. Doc Smelkins examined all of the body pieces we were able to find, and he ruled out natural causes such as hookworm."
* In the short story "[[Creator/NathanielHawthorne Young Goodman Brown]]", the protagonist goes into the woods, and he sees his wife [[MeaningfulName Faith]]'s [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic pink ribbon.]] He meets up with a LouisCypher, and sees that Faith has joined a Satanic cult, along with several other supposedly upstanding members of their Puritan community.
* The forest of the Spine in ''Literature/TheInheritanceCycle''. It's said that "though the trees were tall and the sun shone brightly, few people could stay in the Spine for long without suffering an accident." It's also mentioned that, around a hundred years before the current storyline, King Galbatorix lost half his army in there.
* [[SettingAsACharacter Forest]] in ''Literature/{{Messenger}}'' decides to kill people, seemingly at random -- and that's on a good day. It becomes even more malevolent to reflect the personalities of Village's inhabitants.
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' the prologue of the first book and several chapters of the later ones take place in the Haunted Forest just North of the Wall. Already dangerous due to the bitterly cold climate and the tribes of hostile barbarians living there, the woods beyond the wall become even more dangerous [[spoiler:due to the arrival of Others and their army of the dead]].
* ''Literature/TheWindInTheWillows'': Mole impulsively decides to visit Mr. Badger's house by himself after Rat evasively discourages the idea several times -- he finds out the hard way that the Wild Wood is not a safe place for small creatures to travel alone.
* ''Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar'':
** The Kingdom of Valdemar has the Forest of Sorrows; subverted in that though it certainly is dangerous... that's only if you have evil or cruel intent. A toddler would be safe in there but a group of bandits would get torn to pieces.
** The Palegis forest has the Tayledras invoking this for many reasons. Including the fact it is actually a very dangerous place to be.
* The Doctor Who novel ''The Way Through The Woods'' has a forest that the locals try to avoid, even building roads that go kilometers out of their way to avoid it, because an alien [[OurWereBeastsAreDifferent werefox]] crashed his spaceship there thousands of years ago, and the damaged vessel caused time (and space) distortions, meaning people that go in never come out. They just end up going in circles until they die. Of course, the human population doesn't know most of this, they just know that no-one who went in ever came out.
* ''Literature/HowToSurviveAHorrorMovie'' has this as a RunningGag; it claims that going into the woods is basically the equivalent of painting a target on your back.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/PowerRangersMysticForce'': Invoked, where the people of Briarwood are superstitious about the nearby woods. It turns out that the woods ''is'' home to a number of inhuman mystical beings... but they turn out to be pretty friendly for the most part. Just what they were so afraid of is a good question subject to WildMassGuessing (there are several quite plausible possibilities, none stated in-show). Though this was not ultimately kept in the series, the ads showed that the magical forest creatures were equally afraid to go into the city. The final episode has both sides overcome their mutual superstitious fears... which [[PlotHole weren't actually in the series proper]]. Ah, [[ScapegoatCreator Kalish]]...
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': In the [[Recap/RevolutionS1E1Pilot pilot]], Charlie and her brother have been repeatedly told not to go wandering because "it's not safe out there", despite being in their late teens/early 20's and obviously able to handle themselves. JustifiedTrope in that we don't know whether or not bandits or wild animals beyond the capability of Charlie's crossbow to take down are in the woods. And the militia appears to be just as bad of a threat, if not worse. The militia may have also imposed restrictions on how far ordinary citizens are allowed to range from their homesteads, just as medieval serfs (and plantation slaves in the pre-Civil War South) were bound to the estates of their masters. Get caught without a pass and you may ''wish'' the bear had eaten you first...
* ''Series/TheXFiles'':
** Episode "Darkness Falls" is about Mulder and Scully's nice trip to the woods. Or so Mulder thought at first, Not only do they have to deal with eco-terrorists who sabotage their car, radio and other equipment, but they discover that certain mysterious and deadly bugs are responsible for loggers' deaths. They nearly don't make it out.
** In "Detour", Mulder and Scully face "moth men" -- predatory creatures who are barely visible and who try to protect their space. Several people get lost in the woods, and the creatures also come back for those who have been in their territory. Mulder and Scully are stranded in the woods and discover a creepy pit with human bodies and injured people.
* ''Series/{{Strange}}'': In "Dubik", an evil presence lurks within the trees in a forest in Eastern Europe - a forest from which wood ends up being shipped abroad.
* In the episode [[Recap/SupernaturalS01E02Wendigo "Wendigo"]] of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'', campers disappear in in the Lost Creek Wilderness.
* The aptly-named Ghostwood Forest around the town of ''Series/TwinPeaks'', which contains a portal to the hellish Black Lodge, and is creeping with vaguely-defined evil and [[OminousOwl terrifying demonic owls]].

* A song from Finnish heavy-metal band, Music/{{Terasbetoni}}, is called [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUHYOBoZHU0 "Älä mene metsään"]] ("Don't go in the woods").
* A song by the Swedish techno-bluegrass band Rednex, called [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1xueTp9gfk "Is he alive"]] tells about a HumanoidAbomination that plays the fiddle and hides in a mine in the woods.
* Music/QueensOfTheStoneAge:
** "Someone's In The Wolf": "Once you're lost in twilight's blue, you don't find the way, the way finds you".
** "Mosquito Song" implies that the cannibals are waiting in the forest.
* Music/TheKinks song "Wicked Annabella" warns:
--> Don't go into the woods tonight
--> 'cause underneath the sticks and stones
--> are lots of little demons enslaved by Annabella
--> waitin' just to carry you home
* The plot of Rob Cantor's song [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0u4M6vppCI "Shia LaBeouf"]] begins when the protagonist gets lost in the woods with a non-functioning phone. It's unfortunate that the eponymous "actual cannibal" lives there.
* "The Teddy Bears' Picnic"; especially the last verse:
-->If you go down in the woods today you better not go alone
-->It's lovely down in the woods today but safer to stay at home
-->For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain
-->Because today's the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic

[[folder:Religion and Mythology]]
* The Iron Woods from Myth/NorseMythology, full of trolls, [[OurTitansAreDifferent jötnar]], witches, giant wolves, and [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs jötunn witches who shapeshift into giant wolves.]]

* An old joke: A man and a young boy are walking through a forest. The boy says "I'm scared". The man replies "''You're'' scared? I'm the one who has to walk back on my own!"

[[folder:Stand-Up Comedy]]
* Creator/JimGaffigan: If you ever get up to go the bathroom at night while you're camping, you might as well say to your friends "Nice knowin' ya! You want to get killed with me, or do you want the SerialKiller to get you when you come looking for me?"
* Creator/EddieIzzard did a similar routine once.
--> "Let's go camping in ''the Forest of Death and Blood!''"
* Creator/NormMacDonald has a bit where he notes that nothing good ever happens in the woods, and that no [[MissingWhiteWomanSyndrome missing girl]] ever comes bounding out of the woods perfectly fine.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'':
** Pretty much ''[[CrapsackWorld every]]'' forest in the Old World is filled with brigands, wolves, goblins, giant spiders, mutants, beastmen, minotaurs, cockatrices, chimeras, or even worse things. The forest of [[HiddenElfVillage Athel Loren]] is in some ways the least scary, because the xenophobic Wood Elves will just shoot you full of arrows -- if you're lucky. You're at least equally as likely to get lost on [[LostWoods twisted, maddening paths]] that lead only where the forest wants them to lead, at which point all manner of suck will happen, especially once the [[WhenTreesAttack dryads]] get their hands on you.
** There is a forest in the Empire called the Witches' Woods, which is inhabited by Wood Elves. No one is allowed to enter the woods on pain of death, not even the province's Elector Count. No one knows what's in the forest, but best guess is Wood Elves that will turn trespassers into target practice.
* The indie game ''Summerland'' has the Sea of Leaves, a [[TheLostWoods supernatural forest]] that spontaneously covered the world one day. Travel through it from the few communities left is extremely ill-advised, since the psychic Call it emanates causes any human who hasn't suffered massive emotional trauma to degenerate into one of the mad hermits or the [[CannibalTribe savage, feral cannibals]] that already live in it.

* ''Theatre/EvilDeadTheMusical'' opens with the song [[http://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/evildead/cabininthewoods.htm "Cabin In The Woods" ]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Indie game ''VideoGame/ThePath'' instructs you not to go into the woods, and because this is an adaptation of Literature/LittleRedRidingHood, you know what's waiting there... but on the other hand, if you follow instructions and don't go in, nothing of note happens. So, even with a warning not to do it, and knowing what waits for you in there, you have no choice but to go in if you want a satisfying game-experience...
* The Ghoul's Forest Series of [[GameMod Game Mods]] reeks of this trope, you are chased through the forest by various ghosts dubbed ghouls, each ghoul kills you in a different manner and three of them scream you to death.
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' has the extremely creepy Duskwood region. The local [=NPCs=] ominously warn you to keep to the roads and only travel by day (though it doesn't make a lot of difference because ... well, how do you think the area got its name?) One of the loading screen tips advises you to keep to the roads if you want to avoid monsters. A sound piece of advice, actually, as monsters and other enemy [=NPCs=] usually prefer to wander off-road.
** Silverpine Forest is pretty much the same. Sandwiched neatly between the Werewolf kingdom of Gilneas and the Zombie kingdom of Tirisfal, you can't take two steps away from the road without blundering into something that's been horribly mutated or cursed.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'': It is extremely inadvisable to go into the Lost Woods unless you are a Kokiri child with a guardian fairy, if you don't you want to become one of the undead monsters that roam the forest. Oddly, it's implied by Saria that she and Link used to play in the woods before he received his fairy. This may either be attributed to him being guided by Saria, or simply that he's the bearer of a portion of the Triforce.
* ''{{VideoGame/Slender}}'', featuring [[Franchise/TheSlenderManMythos the long-limbed gentle...-man? thing?- mentioned below]], is a textbook example of why forests should be avoided.
* ''VideoGame/UntilDawn'', drawing inspiration from the many {{slasher movie}}s that have employed this trope, is about eight friends who take a winter getaway at a hotel deep in some mountainous, [[SnowMeansDeath snow-covered]] woods haunted by a psychotic killer [[spoiler:and infested with {{wendigo}}s]]. It doesn't end well for any of them.
* In ''VideoGame/NightInTheWoods'', [[PlayerCharacter Mae]]'s new paranormal abilities are tied to a mysterious ''something'' in the woods outside of town, that may or may not be tied to TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt.
* In ''VideoGame/Fallout4'''s ''Far Harbor'' expansion, the Island's woodlands are shrouded in a radioactive FogOfDoom and home to baddies such as [[SavageWolves Mutant Wolves]], [[DemonicSpiders Fog Crawlers]], [[AlwaysChaoticEvil Trappers]], and the [[ReligionOfEvil Children of the Atom]].

* Elon gives Myari this warning in ''Webcomic/EarsForElves'' after she's wandered into the dark, dangerous forest without him.
--> '''Elon:''' Why must you always put yourself at risk like this? We all know how dangerous the forest is!
* The staple and prevalent background scare in ''Webcomic/StandStillStaySilent''. Enhanced by the fridge horror of the fact it's not just the woods outside the settlement walls -- it's the entire known world. If the scene showing the landscape during the train ride isn't a dead ringer for this trope, nothing is.
* One need not be human to be endangered by entering the forest of Kellwood in ''Webcomic/CharbyTheVampirate'', though most humans seen in it are summarily killed and eaten by the monsters therein and the fact that it is [[BiggerOnTheInside ''much'' larger]] than it looks on human maps or when flying over it or walking around it would make it an easy place to become hopelessly lost.
* There are a number of human eating monsters in the forests of ''Webcomic/TheDreamwalkerChronicles'', and while some of the supernatural entities encountered are benevolent the one that attempts to help the main trio while they're in the woods ends up being killed himself.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[Franchise/TheSlenderManMythos The Slender Man]] sure loves his pine forests, but he's not averse to [[Blog/SeekingTruth other]] [[WebVideo/MarbleHornets kinds]] of [[Blog/JustAnotherFool trees.]]
** A specific example is in WebVideo/EverymanHYBRID; in the episode entitled ''Joke's Over'', Evan, Vince and Jeff see [[spoiler: the Slender Man in the woods. Evan chases after him, with Vince and Jeff following. Slendy vanishes and they suddenly find a circle of black bags. Vince cuts one open... [[{{Squick}} and there's a few pints of blood in there.]]]]
** Of course, if you do get on Slendy's radar, you might as well go into the woods. It's not as though you'll be safe anywhere else...
** WebVideo/MarbleHornets narrows it down a bit -- while the Operator can show up just about anywhere, wandering into the woods in Rosswood Park is practically ''guaranteed'' to end in a run-in with him.
* ''Wiki/SCPFoundation'' does it in [[http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-899 SCP-899]]. It's a bad idea to go near it if you're an adult. It's even worse if you're a child. And if you're a teenager going through puberty [DATA EXPUNGED]. [[spoiler: And this is ''before'' the SCP-899-1 manifestations appear...]]
* ''WebVideo/NyxCrossing'' takes place in a forested area, which appears to be an EldritchLocation.
* The forest bordering ''Roleplay/InkCity'' is home to mindless ink monsters and other threats, and also holds the FourthWall. Assuming you make it that far, it's best just to leave the Wall alone... touching it leads to ''bad things''. The City's first major Event involved a large group of residents venturing into the woods only to discover exactly WHY that was such a bad idea.
* ''VideoGame/StoryOfTheBlanks'' is a ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fan-game/creepypasta that uses the Everfree Forest (see Western Animation below) as the key to the storyline. In a nutshell, Apple Bloom wanders into the Everfree until she discovers a TownWithADarkSecret hiding in its depths. In detail? [[spoiler: Apple Bloom follows a mysterious filly to Sunny Town, a town in the depths of the Everfree where no adult pony has a Cutie Mark. Determined to find the filly who led her there, Apple Bloom eventually finds a creepy house on the outskirts of town... where she finds the charred bones of a filly in the fireplace. Fleeing back to the town, she finds the ponies have become creepy, undead monsters, who admit to killing the filly for getting her Cutie Mark and declare they will "protect" Apple Bloom from a similar fate. Apple Bloom just barely manages to flee with the aid of Ruby, the CuteGhostGirl who inadvertently lured her here.]] What makes things worse is that the story is minimalistic; we have no idea what happened (beyond the gruesomely obvious) or ''how'' Sunny Town ended up the way it did... [[NothingIsScarier which may be part of the reason why the game is so scary]].
* [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] by [[http://vimeo.com/93052696 There's a Man in the Woods]], a poem/video/story about a small child who pretends that there is a man in the woods so that he can get all the honeysuckle to himself. Because the protagonist of the video, the principal of the school, knows that there isn't a man in the woods, but doesn't do anything about it other than try to get rid of the rumor, he ends up getting fired in a fit of mass hysteria as parents decide that he isn't doing enough to protect their precious children. [[spoiler: In the end, the principal [[ThenLetMeBeEvil becomes the man in the woods]] and is implied to murder the child who started the rumors.]]
* In WebVideo/DemoReel, the bad guys drop off Donnie in the deepest part of some very creepy woods and leave him to die. With what happens to him later, he probably ended up wishing he did.
** Creator/DougWalker's characters don't do well in woods. His soldier in WebVideo/{{Sonic}} got captured and nearly got killed there, and WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic's venture into ''WebVideo/SuburbanKnights'' was [[ILetGwenStacyDie regretted]] for his belief that he got Ma-Ti killed.
* The locations page for Blog/OffThePageAndIntoLife reveals the Hanging Woods, which everyone avoids due to a town legend of a man that hanged himself there, and general creepiness. It's unknown if the woods are really dangerous or if it's all paranoia and rumors, mainly because no one's willing to go and check. At any rate, we ''do'' know that the reincarnation of TheBigBadWolf himself lives there...
* The Haunted Woods in ''{{Website/Neopets}}'' gives off this vibe, although it's just as visible as any other realm.
* In ''Website/TheOnion'' article [[http://www.theonion.com/article/report-leading-cause-death-still-venturing-beyond--52615 Report: Leading Cause Of Death Still Venturing Beyond The Pines]], disregarding this trope and venturing into the forest--whether by losing your way on a foggy night, [[GenreBlind looking for a shortcut despite repeated warnings not to]], or just waking up in the middle of the night and heading straight for the forest--turns out to be the leading cause of death among Americans.
-->"The report, which analyzed the nationís mortality data from the past decade, found that wandering past the tree line and entering the shadowy depths that lie therein results in approximately 650,000 deaths each year."
* The various forests of Remnant in ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'' are home to the creatures of Grimm, who will attack any human they can find. While it makes it handy for aspiring Hunters to go out and train, the forests are so infested that human civilization has barely expanded beyond a few small states, and going out into the woods alone and unarmed is basically a death sentence, as Yang and Ruby almost found out the hard way when they were children.
* One episode of ''WebVideo/BedtimeStoriesYoutubeChannel'' covers mysterious killings and disappearances in American and Canadian national parks. And suffice to say, don't go into the woods unless you want to end up like these people.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The dark forest sequence in ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' can be considered a subversion, given how all of what she thought were monsters turn out to just be cute little woodland critters, though not before briefly appearing to be horrible monsters.
* In one scene of ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'' Maurice accidentally takes the wrong turn in a forest, heading down a ominous looking path rather than the brighter looking path. It's not long before his horse gets spooked and runs away, leaving him to be pursued by hungry wolves. Later, after leaving the Beast's castle when frightened and rushing into the woods, Belle encounters the same wolves who would've killed her had the Beast not shown up to save her.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'', "The Picnic". To get to the picnic area, the class has to go around the Forest of Doom ([[IDontLikeTheSoundOfThatPlace Yes, that's what it's called]]). Gumball and Darwin misunderstand it as going ''through'' the Forest of Doom, so they do. They get lost and have to run from [[OurMonstersAreWeird very, very bizarre]] predators like a teal deer with fangs and a rooster head and giant cyclopic bear with antlers.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'': The ponies of Equestria treat the Everfree Forest as an EldritchLocation, looking at it with fear, and preferring to avoid it when possible. Turns out, the forest isn't so bad... it just happens to be an EldritchLocation '''for them only''', because ''the plants and animals fend by themselves without pony aid, and the weather is not [[PaintingTheFrostOnWindows under the control of the pegasus ponies]]''; which clashes directly with the rest of the pony-ordered, cheerfully civilized Equestria. It is of note, though, that Everfree Forest ''does'' contain a lot of genuine danger in the form of dangerous creatures such as [[OurManticoresAreSpinier manticores]], [[BasiliskAndCockatrice cockatrices]] and [[BearsAreBadNews Ursas]], as well as assorted nasty stuff like Poison Joke -- a plant which causes humorous afflictions on those who come in contact with it based on its own warped sense of humor -- and tends to offer some exotic new danger every time it's visited. It's just not as unnatural as the ponies believe. Zecora, meanwhile, lives quite happily in the forest.
* The Headless Horseman sequence from ''Literature/TheLegendOfSleepyHollow'' segment from ''Disney/TheAdventuresOfIchabodAndMrToad''.
* Since Franchise/TheSmurfs already live in the woods, they are warned in ''[[WesternAnimation/TheSmurfsTheLegendOfSmurfyHollow The Legend Of Smurfy Hollow]]'' not to go into Smurfy Hollow.
* ''WesternAnimation/StarVsTheForcesOfEvil'' has "The Forest of Certain Death" from "Diaz Family Vacation", a Mewni landmark which is just as bad as it sounds.
* In ''WesternAnimation/OverTheGardenWall'', Wirt and Greg encounter a number of strange threats in the forests of the Unknown, including [[EldritchAbomination The Beast]].
* In the HalloweenEpisode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Kaeloo}}'', Kaeloo warns Stumpy not to go into the forest. Stumpy ignores her, finds a cemetery which for whatever reason was inside the forest, and ends up accidentally causing a ZombieApocalypse by raising the dead.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The Roman General Quinctilius Varus was warned by several German chieftains not to lead his army into the Teutoburg Forest as the warlord Arminius was planning an ambush. [[TooDumbToLive Varus did it anyway]], and the entire army was destroyed.
* During the Peloponnesian War, the Athenian general Demosthenes once led a group of [[MightyGlacier heavy infantry]] into hilly ground held by his light-armed enemies. Predictably, using the high ground to their advantage, the missile troops ripped the Athenians to shreds. Demosthenes's surviving men fled into a nearby forest hoping the light infantry would not follow them there. They did not. Instead, [[KillItWithFire they set it on fire]].
* Aokigahara forest in Japan is most famous for the numerous suicides that have happened there. However, many people have also gotten lost and never returned. Aokigahara was a popular location for suicides long before, but the ''suicide fad'' really started to get going in 1960 when the forest appeared in a novel about a pair of StarCrossedLovers, who killed themselves. In the last decades the yearly average of suicides has grown increasingly, and the local authorities decided to no longer publish numbers when they hit 100 (discovered) cases in 2003.
* Schwarzwald, also known as the [[DarkIsEvil Black]] Forest, inspired many of the more violent German folk tales.
** Place names like Höllental (Hell Valley, leading up to Himmelsreich, or Realm of Heaven), Notschrei (Scream of Distress), and Siehdichfür (Be Aware) do of course help this.
** And it is a local tradition to dress up as devils, witches, monsters etc. in spring to party WILD and also scare winter away. Aversion for anyone who likes that kind of stuff
* In some parts of California, hiking off-trail is ill advised as you may stumble into a drug cartel operation (usually pot) and/or their booby traps. Or you might just stumble across somebody who already did... members of the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service take these warnings ''very'' seriously.
* In most large national parks, hiking off trail is ill advised (even for short distances) simply because the chance for you to get lost is huge, and several hikers have starved to death not a hundred feet from a major trail.
* One word: Siberia. Miles and miles and miles of endless forests in all directions, on a stretch of land big enough to cover all Lower 48 States plus Europe. Also consider this: it has the world's largest population of wolves, bears, wolverines, lynxes, boars and only gods know what else. Oh, and it's also the coldest place on Earth outside of Antarctica.
** Siberia consists of ''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiga taiga]]'', which is the Northern coniferous forest with spruces, pines and birches dominant, and ''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tundra tundra]]'', which is semi-desert permafrost where only the hardiest vegetation can survive. Even the ''Mongols'' dared not to venture into the taiga, let alone the tundra.
** Interestingly, Siberia can provide the woods-wise settler everything he needs: safety, shelter, game, fish, berries, mushrooms and arable land. In the 1970s Soviet surveyors, using helicopters, found previously unknown ''villages'', complete with Orthodox churches, in Siberia. The inhabitants were religious people who had run away the Communist regime in the 1920s to Siberia, and lived there without any contact to outside world -- unknowning of the Stalinist era, WWII and Khryushchev's era.
* This trope was the rule of thumb in medieval Europe; you could be killed by wolves, bears, bandits... and if you went into the wrong woods, the local nobleman or even the crown. There is a story from 13th century France where three students of the Sorbonne got lost in a forest and killed a quail to survive...and were hanged by a baron who owned the woods and used it for hunting. Thankfully, King Louis IX arrested the baron and was inches from hanging him, only freeing him after stripping him of virtually all power.
* Subverted by the [[UsefulNotes/FinnsWithFearsomeForests Finnish Army]]. They are forest specialists ''par excellence'', and every conscript is taught to survive and find his way in the woods. The woods do provide excellent hideaways and bases for Finnish jaegers and rangers.
** ... And played perfectly straight by the invading Russian soldiers said Fins where fighting. The Finnish Army had an overwhelming terrain advantage, and their snipers mowed those poor devils by the ''hundreds''.
* In Scandinavia, the proverb was that "water joins, but forests part". In Norway, much communication went by water, and dense forests were avoided. A case in point is the population of upper Hallingdal (a mountanous area in central Norway). The upper parts were populated first, and as time went by, people spread ''downwards''. The reason for this was the forest at the bottom of the valley, said to be a den of robbers. People crossed over the mountains (which were bare), to be on the safe side.
* During Russia's Time of Troubles, the invading Polish Army was searching the countryside in pursuit of Tsar Michael I of Russia when they learned that he was hiding in a particular monastery in the woods. A local named Ivan Susanin offered a Polish detachment to guide them there, but being a supporter of Michael, instead took them so deep into the woods that none (not even Susanin) came out alive. (Actually, while Susanin is a historical figure, the wood story is most probably fiction.)
* In some zones of Mexico, (particularly the states of Michoacán and Veracruz, which have the quite unlucky combination of thick forests and heavy cartel activity) it is ill advised to travel at night through forest highways, specially if you don't know the road. Although there are safer federal highways, other, more remote roads can be very dangerous. They are dark and often neglected, and you risk falling victim to muggers playing a WoundedGazelleGambit (when they're not blocking the road), or worse, getting mistaken by [[ProperlyParanoid local cartels]] for undercover rivals. Either way, it wouldn't end well.