->''Hear the tolling of the bells''\\
''Iron bells!''\\
''What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!''\\
''In the silence of the night,''\\
''How we shiver with affright''\\
''At the melancholy menace of their tone!''
-->-- '''Creator/EdgarAllanPoe''', "The Bells"

A single, plaintive church bell, given its time to fade away in an appropriately haunting manner. It's a way to add ominous portent to any soundtrack, and it's commonly used to evoke death, or execution, to punctuate a particularly grim turn of events, or just to lay on the creepy atmosphere.

Generally speaking, the bells are a disembodied part of the soundtrack, but occasionally, they are an on-stage article.

Combine this with the OminousPipeOrgan, OrchestralBombing, and/or some OminousLatinChanting for particularly epic [[BigBad villainy]].

If used in-Universe and not as part of the soundtrack, this is a type of PortentOfDoom. Compare OminousMusicBoxTune and XylophonesForWalkingBones.



[[folder: Anime]]
* In ''Manga/{{Amatsuki}}'' the demonic Yakou carries around a little bell that [[BrownNote drives anyone who hears it insane]].
* ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'': The anime provides a chilling example in the score. It might as well be the punctuation mark on the end of hope. The first episode also pointedly has the church bell ringing when the front gate opens, not long before the Colossal Titan appears. At least the second time around, the bells signal for civilians to evacuate and they successfully do though the connotations are still the same.
* In ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', if you are in the Soul Society and you hear ''[[BloodKnight small, jingling bells]]''... you are doomed.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'' ends many episodes on the note of a disembodied bell - then there are the symbolic bells that appear in episodes 25 and 30.
** There's an especially dark example in the last episode; as in [[OnceAnEpisode every episode]], about halfway through, the show cuts to two of the Death Note rules showing in the screen back-to-back. However, instead of playing music over this part as usual, this episode leaves the moment entirely silent - with the exception of one bell toll. Not to mention, the rules that it's showing us are these:
--> '''Death Note Rule''': All humans will, without exception, eventually die.\\
'''Death Note Rule''': When they die, the place they go is [[CessationOfExistence Mu]].
* In ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' the theme of Frieza "A Chilling Elegy" gives a single bell in the first ''30 seconds''.
* The opening titles of ''Manga/ElfenLied'' begin with an ominous bell tolling. This is reflected at the end of the series when the broken grandfather clock chimes for the first time in years, signifying...?
* Episode 39 of the ''Anime/FullMoonOSagashite'' anime, foreshadowing [[spoiler:Eichi's death.]]
* ''Anime/IlSolePenetraLeIllusioni'': The opening song begins with disembodied bell tolling and a shot of the heroines on a graveyard, then suddenly turns into a HeavyMetal guitar riff solely because of RuleOfCool. The effect is really stunning.
* Some parts of the ''[[VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry Higurashi]]'' soundtrack have deep bells in the background, usually when it's related to Oyashiro's curse.
* Averted in ''Anime/PokemonTheRiseOfDarkrai'': "Oración", the song that restores order to Alamos Town, is played on the bells.
** ''Anime/PokemonDestinyDeoxys'' plays it straighter with [[BigBad Deoxys']] signature three bell strikes.
* The Duel Called Revolution in ''Anime/RevolutionaryGirlUtena'' goes to full swing with the toll of a lone bell that starts the duel's theme song. Most duels are also opened with the knell of several bells in the [[ChaosArchitecture otherwise unseen]] bell tower.
* When Chrona's introduced in ''Manga/SoulEater'' s/he goes AxCrazy on Medusa's orders and harvests [[MuggingTheMonster some gang members' souls]] at the same time the bells of the church this takes place in are ringing. Although the really ominous part is when they stop at exactly the same time Maka realises a [[ISenseADisturbanceInTheForce church full of souls]] has disappeared save one.
* In ''Anime/XamdLostMemories'' a single bell sounds when a dropship releases its humanform.

[[folder: Commercials and Film Trailers]]
* A very morbid radio PublicServiceAnnouncement has a school bell ringer slow down and crossfade into the sound of a church bell as the announcer compares the number of children killed by AIDS to the number of schoolchildren in America.
* The trailer for ''Film/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet''.
* The trailer for ''Film/ThreeTenToYuma2007'' used the train bell to make it seem more like it should be a ghost train, rather than the Prison Train.

[[folder:Films – Live-Action]]
* Inverted in ''Film/{{Damnatus}}'', where the bell appears on screen but is not part of the soundtrack (OrchestralBombing being in effect at the time). Though in this case it's not a church bell but a small hand-bell wielded by a doom prophet who is presumably [[RageAgainstTheHeavens raging against the heavens]] as the Inquisition nukes his planet.
* Bells accompany a mass hanging in ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanAtWorldsEnd''.
* Somewhat overused in the ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' featured movie ''Film/FutureWar'':
-->'''Crow:''' According to the bells, it's 97 o'clock.
* Used figuratively in ''Film/TheGunsOfNavarone'': the heroes have to save two thousand soldiers "for whom the bells have tolled.": They'll be wiped out by an imminent enemy attack if not promptly evacuated/reinforced.
* Ominous bells can be heard during the music that plays in ''Film/TheLostWorldJurassicPark'' when the T-Rexes attack the trailer, and later when they attack the survivor's camp.
* Creator/FrancoZefirelli uses a tolling bell to usher in the dead lovers' bodies in the final scene of his 1968 production of ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet''.
* The mental hospital setting of ''Film/TheDeadPit'' features a clocktower, and its tolling is featured on many occasions.
* The film of ''Theatre/SeventeenSeventySix'' concludes with the bell in the tower of what is now Independence Hall tolling in the background as the United States Continental Congress signs the Declaration of Independence. You'd expect it to be tolling in triumph, but instead it is tolling in signal of the darkness ahead: thirteen not-really-united colonies facing the full might of the British Imperial Navy in a time when Britannia ''did'' rule the waves, with a badly-trained army, little to no money, and a hanging for treason awaiting every one of them if they failed -- which seemed likely, if not all but certain. When they said, "We pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor," they ''meant'' it.
* ''Film/{{Commissar}}'', a film set during the Russian Civil War, ends with Klavdia and her Red Army unit marching out to face a White Russian battalion that seems to outnumber them by quite a bit. Freeze frame, doomy church bells, fade to black.
* A single bell chimes six times in ''Film/EdwardScissorhands'' when [[spoiler:Jim falls to his death after being stabbed by Edward]].
* ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'': When Judge Doom first appears, his appearance is marked with a single bell tone followed by [[EstablishingCharacterMusic ominous music]] as the camera pans up his black-clad figure.

[[folder: Literature]]
* Creator/EdgarAllanPoe's poem "The Bells".
* Also Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death". The clock is striking midnight just as the Prince encounters the mysterious figure in the black room. As the striking ends the Prince and every other character in the house drop dead and the candles blow out.
* Creator/MercedesLackey's ''Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar'' series has an actual Death Bell in the capital city, which rings itself whenever a Herald dies. When it rings, all Heralds within earshot immediately know for whom it tolls. For momentous deaths, Heralds not within normal earshot can hear it, too. [[spoiler: Because it transmits over a combined magic/psychic web which connects them.]]
* Creator/JohnDonne's [[http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/meditation17.php Meditation #17]] provides the inspiration for this trope's title.
* The Creator/DorothyLSayers novel ''[[Literature/LordPeterWimsey The Nine Tailors]]'' is named for a church's bells. The plot involves a group of men "ringing a full peal" on the bells; a task that takes them nearly a full day. Guess where the murder victim is found. [[spoiler:And how he died.]]
* The bell Digory just ''[[SchmuckBait has]]'' to ring in ''Literature/TheMagiciansNephew''.
* ''Literature/TheVampireChronicles'': Lestat has a tendency to say "Hell's Bells", apropos absolutely nothing, whenever the situation is getting bad. Particularly in "Queen of the Damned".
* The Bellman is the main character in ''Literature/TheHuntingOfTheSnark'', and his bell rings ominously at appropriate points throughout the poem.
* In Creator/TadWilliams' ''Literature/MemorySorrowAndThorn'', the climactic confrontation with the [[BigBad Storm King]] atop Green Angel Tower is heralded by a series of piercing phantom bell strokes, marking the progress of the ritual that summons him back into Osten Ard.
* In ''Literature/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame'', the bells in the cathedral tower are the only things Quasimodo are really able to hear. They give him comfort, but the story has a real DownerEnding.
* Creator/ErnestHemingway's ''Literature/ForWhomTheBellTolls'' does not actually contain any literal bells tolling in the manner of this trope, but the title is from the same line in the TropeNamer poem by John Donne and touches on the idea thematically.
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', the bells in King's Landing toll when [[spoiler: king Robert dies]], then not much later when [[spoiler: Ned Stark is executed]]. For doom, indeed.
* In ''Literature/AChristmasCarol'', each ghost arrives at the tolling of the hour bell.
* In Creator/ConnieWillis' ''Literature/DoomsdayBook'', the abbreviated funeral rites instituted for the Black Death require that the church bell be tolled after each burial: nine times for a man, thrice for a woman and once for a child. Professor Dunworthy finally finds Kivrin while she is tolling the bell for Father Roche.

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* The demise of dungeoneers on the children's game show ''Series/{{Knightmare}}'' was met with two tolls of the bell. And inevitably an [[CatchPhrase "Ooh, nasty!"]] from the host.
* In ''Series/{{Farscape}}'', this is part of the [[TearJerker extremely moving]] death scene of [[spoiler:one of the two John Crichtons]].
* The "Cloister Bell" from ''Series/DoctorWho'', heard only when the TARDIS is on a collision course or when the whole universe is threatened. This first features in ''Logopolis'' (the last Fourth Doctor story) and can also be heard during ''The Trial of a Time Lord'', ''The Sound of Drums'' (collision course), "Turn Left" (armageddon), and "Time Crash" (collision course).
** Also [[spoiler: at the end of "The Waters of Mars" and the trailer for "The End of Time" that follows.]]
** And [[spoiler: "The Eleventh Hour" (TARDIS seriously damaged).]]
** It also appears in [[spoiler:"The God Complex", when the Doctor sees inside the room holding his greatest fear but the audience only sees his reaction]].
** In "Face the Raven", the trope is exercised as an ominous bell begins ringing on the soundtrack [[spoiler: the moment Clara realizes that she's going to die.]]
** The Citadel on Gallifery has a large number of these which begin sounding in [[spoiler:"Hell Bent" when the Doctor returns, bent on disrupting all of space and time to save Clara]].
* {{Narm}}fully applied in ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' in one of Sylar's HeelFaceRevolvingDoor schemes.
* One was added to the normal theme tune of Series/{{QI}} for the "Gothic" episode.
* ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003'': As Galen Tyrol wanders through the ruins of [[spoiler: Earth]], he is flooded by the sounds of a phantom city, triggered by [[spoiler:the memories of his previous life]]. These sounds, including a tolling bell, eventually lead him to the spot [[spoiler: where he died]].
** The first shot of Caprica City we see in the Miniseries also has the sound of a bell in the background.
* {{Creator/BBC}} Election Night 2015 – even if the party you supported did well out of it, announcing the [[spoiler:accurate]] exit poll to Big Ben striking [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wixn14r9y0#t=304 ten o’clock]][[note]]Broadcasting results of polls (including unofficial ones) is illegal whilst polling stations/places are open (07:00-22:00)[[/note]] made it sound like awful news.
** On the other side, ITN/ITV have used Big Ben for it’s [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDQW8qnhspU News at Ten]] title sequence for years.

[[folder: Music]]
* Music/{{ACDC}}'s "[[Music/BackInBlack Hell's Bells]]" is a popular choice of entrance music for MLB closers.
** Interestingly, this song is actually the TropeCodifier for entrance music in baseball: Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres adopted it in the 1990s, and the phenomenon caught on like wildfire after that. ("Hell's Bells" in particular has been used by several others since Hoffman, who retired in 2010.)
* Music/{{Metallica}}: "For Whom The Bell Tolls", a.k.a. the TropeNamer twice removed (got it from Ernest Hemingway who got it from [[OlderThanTheyThink "John Donne" above]]).
* Music/IronMaiden: "Hallowed Be Thy Name"
* Music/BlackSabbath fan. The refrain of bells in "Black Sabbath", when combined with the subject matter, doom-laden riff and Ozzy's screams, is brutally effective.
* Music/DaftPunk's "Aerodynamic" track starts and ends with some of these, and in the AnimatedMusicVideo directed by Creator/LeijiMatsumoto this coincides with the abduction of the band from their homeworld.
* Music/HectorBerlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" uses two bells, but they definitely make an ominous sound, especially when the [[StandardSnippet "Dies Irae" theme]] comes in over them.
* "Don't Go in the Woods" by Calibretto begins with a single bell toll.
* Music/MikeOldfield's magnum opus ''Music/TubularBells, part 1'' cools down near the end with the sound of a distant tolling bell, setting the piece up for its climax.
* The very end of the Music/PaulMcCartney song "From a Lover to a Friend" contains a church bell tolling softly three times. So softly, it's easy to miss.
* This trope is the third member of (mostly) instrumental Goth band Music/NoxArcana's Holy Trinity of Horror Sound Effects, along with OminousLatinChanting and IronicNurseryTune, though the music manages to be sublime, not formulaic:
** ''Darklore Manor'' uses ForDoomTheBellTolls in several of its tracks, most notably the title cut (which also includes OminousLatinChanting) and "Phantom Procession."
** ''Winter's Knight'', set in a Gothic cathedral, almost necessarily makes use of this trope in "Vigil," "Ghosts of Christmas Past," "Gregorian Hymn," "Veni, Veni, Emmanuel," and "Carol of the Bells."
** ''Transylvania'' includes the self-explanatory "Bats in the Belfry" and the even more bell-heavy "Gothic Sanctum."
** ''Blood of the Dragon'', while not a horror album, uses tolling bells to depict the evil army in "Legions of Darkness."
** Death knells, among other things, chime in during the last track of ''Shadow of the Raven'', [[spoiler:and there are even more if you listen long enough after the false ending]].
* The song "High Hopes" by Music/PinkFloyd ends with a melancholy church bell, possibly symbolizing the end of the band's recording career. On the compilation ''Echoes'' the church bells segues into a bicycle bell and then into Syd Barrett's upbeat psychedelic song "Bike".
** From "Breathe"'s reprise in "Time":
-->''"Far away, across the fields''
-->''The tolling of the iron bell''
-->''Calls the faithful to their knees''
-->''To hear the softly spoken magic spell..."''
* "Cygnus X-1" by Music/{{Rush}} (a song about flying into a black hole) begins with the low ringing of a bell.
* "From the Underworld" by The Herd (based on the legend of [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Orpheus]]) begins with a bell tolling.
* "Peace", a track from the short-lived British synthpop band New Musik, begins and ends with the tolling of a church bell. The song is a deceptively upbeat track about how humanity will never achieve world peace, repeatedly stating that "it's a countdown to destiny".
* Music/EltonJohn's "Funeral for a Friend".
* Music/MenAtWork's "Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive".
* Music/TheRollingStones' "The Lantern".
* Music/JohnLennon's album ''John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band'' begins with the tolling of a bell at the beginning of the song "Mother". His final album ''Double Fantasy'' references this by opening with a higher, more optimistic bell at the start of "(Just Like) Starting Over".
* Music/{{Eminem}}'s "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dqa9ad9OLg What I Am]]" (warning [[ClusterFBomb explicit lyrics]]; also turn up your volume)
* Music/TheSmashingPumpkins' "Disarm".
* Benjamin Britten's ''War Requiem'' uses two bells tuned a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritone tritone]] apart. The first sung line from Wilfred Owen's poetry makes the implications clear: "What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?"
* Used at the end of ''The Fighting Machine'' in Music/JeffWaynesMusicalVersionOfTheWarOfTheWorlds.
* "Haunted" by Music/{{Disturbed}} at the beginning and "Serpentine" during the bridge.
* Three of Dmitry Shostakovich's symphonies use bells to great effect.
** His 11th, inspired by the events of the 1905 massacre in the Palace Square of St. Petersburg, ends with an angry march symbolizing the people's anger and resolve in response to the end. The movement is titled "The Alarm" and ends in a furry with terrifyingly loud bells ringing over the orchestra.
** In his 13th symphony, a work for a huge orchestra with a chorus of 150 or so bass voices singing in unison, the 1st movement uses a somber bell throughout to toll for the victims killed in the massacre at Babi Yar during WWII.
** His 14th symphony, a very strange work for a small collection of strings, percussion, and two voices -- and is a setting of a collection of 11 poems about death -- uses bells at a handful of very disturbing climaxes. The silence that they fade into is awfully uncomfortable. Needless to say, Shostakovich was not a happy man towards the end of his life, this mainly being a response to Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death.
* In Music/TheProtomen's Act II, the end of the Father of Death has a repeating gong hit symbolizing [[spoiler:Emily's death]].
* In the title track and first single from Music/AvengedSevenfold's album ''Nightmare'', we get a tolling bell directly after the end of the first chorus, as the music comes back in hard for the instrumental section and in the bridge before the third chorus. And they're definitely for doom, as the song is more or less whoever the narrator is telling the subject of the lyrics how he screwed up and is doomed for being evil. Oh, and how IT'S YOUR FUCKIN' NIGHTMARE!
* ''Music/NightOnBaldMountain'' by Mussorgsky invokes this trope. Near the end, the loud, ominous music is interrupted by a single tolling church bell, winding down into a soft finish for the song. In the Disney/{{Fantasia}} segment, the church bell prompts the retreat of [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Chernabog the Dark God]] and his ghouls; the bell denotes ''his'' doom. Mussorgsky himself ''intended'' the ringing of the church bell as breaking up the witches' sabbat described by the piece; witches and evil spirits traditionally could not bear the sound of consecrated bells.
* The 1993 Trance song 'Dreams' from Quench makes good use of this trope.
* Music/DreamTheater's The Glass Prison starts with a single bell tolling before an extremely heavy riff kicks in. The song is about drummer Mike Portnoy's alcoholism.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo3TUtRnZi4 Coil's re-interpretation of Tainted Love]].
* Combined with OminousLatinChanting during the musical bridge of Music/{{Enya}}'s rendition of ''O Come, O Come, Emmanuel'', for peak creepy effect.
* The beginning of Music/{{Anthrax}}'s "The Giant" has some rather ominous sounding bells.
* Music/{{Emperor}}'s "Warriors Of A Modern Death"
* Horde's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jerUOjAHIy4 A Church Bell Tolls Amidst The Frozen Nordic Winds]].
* Music/IcedEarth use rapidly tolling bells on Boiling Point off their newest album Dystopia.
* Swiss Thrash trio Coroner's Pale Sister off the Mental Vortex album. It comes sharply and suddenly and is actually pretty jarring.
* The intrumental Music/KingDiamond song "Cremation" features tolling bells at the end.
* "The Box (Untitled Version 2)" by Music/{{Orbital}}.
* "Fallen Angel" by Possessed.
* Lampshaded, although not actually heard, in Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," a long, eerie ballad about an ore ship that sank in a storm on Lake Superior; ''after'' the deaths rather than as a PortentOfDoom.
--> ''"In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed, in the Maritime Sailor's Cathedral. And the church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times, for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald."''
* Bells are featured in the fifth movement of Mahler's Symphony no. 3. A boys' choir imitates the sound of bells, and tubular bells are also used. As an inversion of this trope, this is the most cheerful movement of the symphony.
* Bell sounds end Music/TheKinks' "Big Black Smoke", symbolizing the siren song of the big city that dooms its heroine.
* "Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age" from Gustav Holst's "The Planets" begins with the ominous tolling of bell-like harp harmonics. The same dissonant harmonies are accompanied by actual bells at the movement's clangorous climax. The music then becomes much more peaceful and harmonious, and the bells make a very gentle return.
* No Mercy by The Death Riders has this as part of the song's intro, combined with rain and thunder.
* ''Do They Know It's Christmas'', a well-loved song about how painful it is to starve to death, has church bells playing on the parts without singing.

[[folder: Pinball]]
* ''Pinball/{{ACDC}}'' has the Hells Bell on the upper-left playfield, and is movable in the Premium Edition.
* One tolls in the MatchSequence for ''Pinball/GameOfThrones''.

* ''Podcast/TheMagnusArchives'': When the altar server in the weird mass in "Desecrated Host" opens his mouth, instead of words he makes the sound of a tolling bell. When Father Burroughs tries to speak there, the same thing happens. Later, when his former fellow priests visit him in prison, it's all he can hear when they speak to him.

[[folder: Professional Wrestling]]
* The tolling of church bells is a big part of Wrestling/{{WWE}} wrestler Wrestling/TheUndertaker's {{Leitmotif}}.
* Wrestling/TripleH used Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls" for part of his entrance WrestleMania XXVII. Fittingly, he was fighting Wrestling/TheUndertaker that night.

* The adaptation of ''Literature/TheThirtyNineSteps'' broadcast on Aug. 1, 1938 by ''Radio/TheMercuryTheatreOnTheAir'' starts off with the ringing of heavy, ominous church bells as Richard Hannay, a murder suspect on the run from the police and enemy secret agents, is trying to catch a train.

[[folder: Sports]]
* Inverted in the 1999 US Open. Payne Stewart was playing the final holes in a duel with Phil Mickleson. Stewart needed a 15 foot putt on the last hole to win it. As he was reading the putt, the religious Stewart could hear church bells in the distance. He made the putt to cling to victory.

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'':
** The Bell of Lost Souls is located atop one of the highest towers of the Imperial Palace, and is said to be audible from the other side of the planet. It tolls once whenever a truly great hero of the Imperium dies, and while propaganda states that it rings at the death of each SpaceMarine, if that was true it'd be ringing night and day.
*** In his memoirs, Literature/CiaphasCain makes a comment about the Bell tolling for him, prompting [[LemonyNarrator Inquisitor Vail]] to add a footnote explaining that it was a figure of speech common among soldiers, and that Cain wouldn't have expected the Bell to ring for him - ''at that time.''
** An ancient bell inside Trayzn the Infinite's collection began ringing when Abaddon's thirteenth Black Crusade assaulted Cadia, tipping him off that [[NothingIsTheSameAnymore something big was about to happen.]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'':
** The [[RatMen Skaven]]'s creation myth involves a bell striking thirteen and a city's population of vermin rising up to consume its inhabitants. Thirteen remains the Skaven's holy number, bells are common instruments for unit musicians, and they have a war machine called the Screaming Bell that is one part mobile belltower, one part BlackMagic shrine. Each time it chimes, something terrible ''will'' happen, it's just a matter of whether it affects the enemy or the Skaven.
** The Vampire Counts borrowed this with their Unholy Lodestone upgrade to their Corpse Cart unit, a bell with a [[MadeOfPhlebotinum Pure Warpstone clapper.]]

[[folder: Theatre]]
* In Creator/GilbertAndSullivan's ''Theatre/TheYeomenOfTheGuard'', the headsman's bell announces the execution of Fairfax (who has escaped, but the other characters don't know this). All the more effective for starting up suddenly in the middle of a cheery CrowdSong.
* The hurricane bell in ''Theatre/PorgyAndBess''.
* ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'': "Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven, or to hell."
* As the Russian Swings act in Creator/CirqueDuSoleil's ''Theatre/{{O}}'' nears its finish, the bell on the middle swing begins to toll as an acrobat spins the swing up and over the bar -- and a funeral procession, complete with a wagon with a coffin upon it, crosses the stage in the background. However, the rest of the music and foreground action (which evokes a wedding party) remains cheerful, ''and'' the coffin on the wagon pops open to reveal one of the minor female characters, who cheerfully waves at the audience.
* In ''Theatre/TheCatAndTheCanary'', just as Mr. Crosby is about to read Cyrus West's will to his descendants, a muffled gong somewhere in the house is heard tolling seven. The CreepyHousekeeper explains that it is a warning of death: seven may live, out of eight persons in the house. [[spoiler:It's revealed that the gong was planted by the killer's accomplice.]]
* In ''Theatre/SeventeenSeventySix'', John Hancock orders the bell to be rung as the members of Congress sign the Declaration of Independence, closing the play. The Declaration is only the start to a long, hard struggle--with a badly-funded, -trained, and -equipped army against the might of the British forces, the future is by no means certain. The passage about "our lives, our fortune, and our sacred honor" isn't empty rhetoric--every man signing that document knew that it could put him at the end of a rope.
* In ''Theatre/PeerGynt'', the [[AllTrollsAreDifferent trolls]] scatter in fear at the distant sound of church bells, which they take to belong to a herd of monstrous cattle. This saves Peer Gynt's life, but Music/EdvardGrieg's music still plays the moment for horror.

[[folder: Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/AgeOfEmpiresII: Age of Kings'', the music that plays after a loss begins with a bell. (And continues with a particularly mournful choir section accompanied by the faint sound of wind, no less....)
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedI'' had this during the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cc-ClutaN_I trailer]], ''leading up to'' the assassination. This is also true ''after'' you've been discovered (or successful) in each assassination: the city bell rings to rally the guards. The AttractMode video for ''[[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII 2]]'' has a bell sound as the second target falls back dead from Ezio's gunshot.
* In the third mission of ''VideoGame/{{Black}}'', the second of two snipers in a slightly eerie graveyard scene is in a bell tower. If the player can dodge him long enough, they can shoot the bell and cause it to break loose from its moorings, crushing the sniper. This will create an extremely loud tolling sound and is possibly the game's CrowningMomentOfAwesome.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Castlevania 64}}'', when you open the second gate to the castle, the clock tower bells begin to ring. Then the camera pans up...and [[spoiler: fake]] ''Dracula'' is seen [[PowerFloats hovering in the sky]]. He then threatens you with a painful death, indulges in an EvilLaugh, and vanishes.
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaSymphonyOfTheNight'''s "Requiem for the Gods," the theme of Dracula's Royal Chapel, combines this trope with a positively eerie CherubicChoir plus OminousPipeOrgan.
* The background "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwSJRLJpRPc music]]" of [[VeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon Terra Tower]] in ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'' consists of nothing but deep bells, somber strings, and unintelligible vocals, all the better to convey the utterly ''alien'' atmosphere of a fortress displaced across time and dimensions, populated by ghosts and bizarre constructs.
* The first game in the ''VideoGame/ClockTower'' series used this trope to chilling effect during the title sequence.
* The Dead Ringer fight in ''VideoGame/CryptOfTheNecrodancer'' features "For Whom the Knell Tolls", in which church bells frequent the track. Understandably, as Dead Ringer's main gimmick is to attack church bells around the room to summon minibosses.
* Heavily subverted in ''VideoGame/DarkSouls''. For a very grimdark kind of game, online players may sometimes hear a lonely church bell ring in a certain part of the world. This means that another person has rung said bell. Since the bell is actually one of the early game objectives that require fighting a particularly powerful boss, and is named The Bell of Awakening, hearing one actually gives a powerful sense of ''hope'', as someone has achieved that particular objective, so you can too!
** On the other hand, it's played straight in the soundtrack; both [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZVyHH-voR8 Sif's]] and his master, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbTI_Bzy29I Artorias' theme]] features sad bells that emphasize their tragic story.
** ''VideoGame/DarkSouls3'' also plays it straight in the theme for the boss fight against the Abyss Watchers, setting the melancholy tune for the fight against what remains of the menacing Undead Legion.
* The Wraith in ''Videogame/DeadByDaylight'' has a bell that turns him invisible if he rings it, giving any survivors around an audible warning of him doing so.
* The first boss of ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry 3'', the Hell Vanguard, makes a bell-toll sound whenever it uses one of its teleport attacks.
* Any track from ''VideoGame/{{Disciples}}'' will have this motif somewhere in the overworld tracks. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WzuMqaUgGk&feature=related Here's an example for your enjoyment.]]
* Very heavily used in ''Franchise/DotHack'' games (and carries over to ''VideoGame/DotHackGU''): All the themes of the Eight Phases contain a similar-sounding, specific {{Leitmotif}} made of the sound of bells. Interestingly, one theme [[spoiler: Macha]]'s stops the bell leitmotif at the intro, symbolizing that the Boss is, in fact, your former friend. The themes associated with Phases in GU also uses the same leitmotif, with the same aforementioned bells. It manages to make most of the boss fights very, very creepy.
* The background music for the final boss of ''VideoGame/{{Drakengard}}'' is a bell tolling over and over.
* In ''VideoGame/EternalDarkness'' levels set at the Amiens Cathedral, a sound effect accompanying a low SanityMeter are peals of churchbells.
* ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' has this in the soundtrack piece [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0gb5LCvDBA "Not My Vault"]]. ''Dead Money'' uses a church bell ambient track near the Campana del Sol (the belltower where you trigger the gala event), appropriately. "Acolytes of the New God" from the first two games, also reused in ''Vegas'', combines this with [[TickTockTune ticking clocks]] and {{ominous chanting}}.
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'':
** Sephiroth's first theme in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' is full of them.
** The introduction for ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'', which talks about an ancient war that [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt devastated civilization]] and the threat of [[ViciousCycle history repeating itself]] in this regard, is accompanied by ominous background music featuring bells.
*** It gets used again in "[[CrowningMusicOfAwesome Dancing Mad]]", heralding the final showdown with [[MonsterClown Kefka]].
*** And once more before that, as the Overworld theme in the period of time after TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt and before the heroes get revved up to save what's left. [[SlidingScaleLongName It's that kind of a game]].
*** The above ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' examples also overlap with OminousPipeOrgan, though TheEmpire's theme does not, instead opting to accompany the bells with mostly brass instruments.
** Used in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' when the party gets turned into l'Cie by Pulse, after being branded by Anima. Heard twice in the the sequel, ''[[VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII2 XIII-2]]'', first when Lightning is taken to Valhalla and then in the ending, when [[spoiler:Valhalla gets engulfed by Chaos]]. In all three cases, the bells toll thirteen times.
** In ''[[VideoGame/ChocobosDungeon Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon]]'', the tolling of the Bell of Oblivion signifies that one person within earshot will [[LaserGuidedAmnesia lose very important memories.]]
* In ''VideoGame/GrimFandango'', whenever Manny draws his scythe, a death knell plays softly in the background.
* ''VideoGame/HalfLife2'' has the song Ravenholm Reprise that starts with one of these. It plays in the next-to-last map of "We Don't Go to Ravenholm", [[spoiler: as Father Grigori sends you off into the town's mines, while he stays behind to fight off the remaining zombies, saying, "Look to your own salvation!".]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Halo 2}}'', a church bell tolls at the beginning of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ccviYnxOGs "Blow Me Away"]], and in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U15QkWgEv2Q "Destroyer's Invocation"]].
* The theme for the Necropolis town in ''VideoGame/HeroesOfMightAndMagic III'' utilizes several sonorous church-bell tones as well as a men's choir, for maximum creepage. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXGBh_3J25g Listen to it here.]]
* ''VideoGame/IMissTheSunrise'' has a short section like this as part of [[http://tindeck.com/listen/kjuv its boss battle music.]]
* ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2'' has this during the mission when Roxas is escaping the Castle That Never Was.
** "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBq6vhdBweI Graceful Assassin]]" uses these as well, as well as OminousPipeOrgan; fittingly played against the final boss of the game.
** ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep'' has the music for [[spoiler:[[FieldOfBlades the Keyblade Graveyard]]]], successfully making the ruinous world even more bleak and ominous.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Koudelka}}'', The BonusBoss, Gargoyle, is summoned by Church Bells.
* In the ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'' campaign ''Death Toll'', there is a crescendo event where a ZombieInfectee starts ringing a church bell to summon a horde of zombies to try and kill you.
* A recurring motif in ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda''.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'': The ominous background music in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jao4wRpXKvE this video]] is frequently punctuated with the bell rings of the Clock Tower. It plays when there are only six hours left until [[EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt the moon crashes into the earth.]]
** ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Twilight Princess]]'' has Blizzeta's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrYf4s_zDBY first boss music]], which [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9yncTPSKzI then goes into]] OminousPipeOrgan territory.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheMinishCap The Minish Cap]]'', Hyrule's bells toll three times before Zelda is irreversibly dead and Vaati then becomes invincible. It's even foreshaddowed by an NPC in the game, who tells you that ''something'' will happen, once this bell tolls. She never says if it's a good or bad thing. [[spoiler: Before the final boss battle, the first two bell rings can't be skipped due to being scripted, [[NonStandardGameOver but if you take too long to defeat the Darknuts before you stop Vaati...]]]]
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSpiritTracks Spirit Tracks]]'', the background music in the Tower of Spirits gets more and more defined as you climb higher and higher up the staircase. Somewhere toward the middle of the climb, snares accompanied by bell rings dynamically enter.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker The Wind Waker]]'':
*** When Link rings the bell at [[spoiler:the top of the Tower of the Gods]], an entrance in the ocean opens up that leads [[spoiler:down to Hyrule in a frozen temporal state.]]
*** The mini-boss battle theme sports some particularly epic bells in the beginning.
* Occurs during the music of the "Armageddon" ending of ''VideoGame/LiveALive'', with the song eventually fading out on one final bell.
* ''VideoGame/LufiaIIRiseOfTheSinistrals'':
** The henchman theme [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47FDYcmHLTE Shudder]] has a bell that rings at the beginning and end of each chorus.
** The last level where the music is nothing but bells and chanting.
* In ''VideoGame/MonsterHunter Tri'', the final boss theme opens with a kinda sinister-sounding bell.
* The [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uduv2mfC09k music]] played during the ''real'' final boss battle against [[BigBad Bowser]] in the game ''VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBrosWii'' [[spoiler: when he is turned into a giant and rampaging through the foundation of his own castle.]] Combined with the chanting in the background, it has a very overpowering effect.
* ''VideoGame/{{NieR}}'''s [[AllThereInTheManual backstory]], which ties the game to the aforementioned ''Drakengard'', explains that [[TerribleTicking if you start to hear ringing bells]], you're in the final stages of [[TheVirus White Chlorination Syndrome]] and won't be human much longer.
-->"[[ApocalypticLog I c a n]] ''[[ApocalypticLog h e a r]]'' [[ApocalypticLog s o u n d s]]"
* In ''VideoGame/{{Overwatch}}'', the map King's Row has a bell in a clock tower, with its gongs as part of its theme. The bell also gongs ominously several times after the attacking team captures the point and brings out the payload. Fitting, as [[spoiler: the payload is an EMP designed to kill all the omnic refugees in the area.]]
* ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'':
** Every time the local steeple's (very creepy) bell sounds in Twillight Town, someone gets [[BalefulPolymorph turned into a pig]]. Goombella even begins to fear it will happen to her or Mario.
** Metatron uses bells, and considering that you are fighting the voice of God, this should come as no surprise.
* ''VideoGame/PathOfExile'' has [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6oBOPFWl5A Dominus, Ascendant]], which plays when you fight High Templar Dominus's OneWingedAngel form atop the [[EvilTowerOfOminousness Scepter of God]]. For bonus points it includes an ethereal choir and [[AutobotsRockOut electric guitars]].
* In ''VideoGame/Persona3'', [[spoiler:after destroying the Arcana Hanged Man Shadow, SEES thought that the Dark Hour is over. [[WhamShot Except it isn't]], and they begin hearing a bell ringing from Tartarus, signifying [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt the Fall]].]]
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'':
** ''VideoGame/PokemonDiamondAndPearl'' versions have this at Spear Pillar, [[spoiler:leading up to the hero's ultimate battle to stop Team Galactic from transforming the world with Diagla/Palkia.]] Used again in the Diagla/Palkia battle theme tune remix in ''[[VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Super Smash Bros. Brawl]]''.
** The [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyAp8JhtNCI theme]] for the [[EldritchLocation Distortion World]] from ''Platinum'' features a bell, which helps add to the grim and otherworldly feel of the place.
** Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza's battle theme from the [[VideoGame/PokemonRubyAndSapphire third-gen games]] also features ominous bells at the beginning. In addition, a distinctive set of three bell strikes serves as a {{leitmotif}} of sorts for [[StarfishAlien Deoxys]], recurring in its pre-battle and battle themes.
* ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonVsAceAttorney'' has the Bell of Ruin in Labyrinthia. [[spoiler:When it was rung about 10 years prior to the game's events, it caused all inhabitants to fall unconscious on the eve of the annual Fire Festival. This caused the whole town to be consumed in a blaze that was later called "The Legendary Fire". Only 4 persons survived the fire. This happened because the bell was made from pure silver and all inhabitants suffered from a special illness that caused them to fall unconscious when they heard the sound of pure silver being rung.]]
* Interesting use in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4'': early in the game, a church bell suddenly rings out while the player is surrounded by [[NotAZombie Ganados]] in a village. It's pretty creepy. On the other hand, it also summons the villagers, who drop their weapons and ignore the guy they had been trying to kill just seconds earlier. Thanks for that, Ada.
* One of the more memorable BGM tracks in ''VisualNovel/SchoolDays'' is an arrangement of the title song [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cksD9UHK4w for bells]]. The piece has quite a somber feel to it, which fits the themes of remorse and lost innocence which run through the game.
* Ominous bells are used many times in the ''Franchise/SilentHill'' series, such as in the DarkWorld school, the moth battle, the Historical Society in ''2'', and the subway platforms in ''3''.
* In ''VideoGame/ShadowHearts'', you battle against the entity that passes for {{God}}. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa0mfu5wZdw Behold.]]
* When you fight any of the Fiends in ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIIINocturne'', you can hear faint bells in the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qyd3Y-vrwSI theme that accompanies them.]] In this case the sense of dread isn't necessarily for story purposes as much as it is [[NintendoHard gameplay]] [[ThatOneBoss reasons.]]
* ''VideoGame/TheSimpsonsHitAndRun'' features a track in several missions such as ''There's Something About Monty'' with a bell in the background.
* Ramirez's theme from ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia'' more or less contains ''every single'' "scary music" trope in the book, only stopping short of actual OminousLatinChanting.
* In ''VideoGame/SoulNomadAndTheWorldEaters'', the song "Penal colony of the soul" uses this trope, although it's hard to notice, but is easier to at 2:13. You can hear it [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ret60k-_-U here.]] It never plays in the normal playthrough [[spoiler:OR the demon path, it only plays in a non-canon fight (which is very difficult to reach, let alone grind enough levels to WIN) with Median the Conqueror]], so it could be considered a wasted song. The song is also called "Babylon of Souls" and "Purgatory".
* ''VideoGame/{{Spore}}'''s Black Cloud ability uses this every time you click the icon.
* ''VideoGame/{{Starcraft}}'' The moment Tassadar commits his HeroicSacrifice is marked by a single bell toll in the soundtrack. It's subtle and easily missed though.
* In ''VideoGame/SyphonFilterTheOmegaStrain'''s first bonus mission, Agent Stone snipes Dmitri when the church bell tolls 3:00 to cover the sound of the shot.
* A few versions of [[Franchise/StreetFighter M. Bison's]] theme. Mostly anything before the [=CPS2=] versions of ''VideoGame/StreetFighterII.''
* Tabuu's battle theme from ''[[VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Super Smash Bros. Brawl]]'' has prominent bells and [[OminousPipeOrgan organs]].
* Part of the BigBad's {{leitmotif}} in ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia''. Justified by him being [[spoiler:an angel controlling the Cruxis and the Church of Martel]].
* ''VideoGame/TheTalosPrinciple'': In the music at the temples in areas A and C (the latter of which is the same music as on the title screen).
* In ''VideoGame/{{Terranigma}}'', the [[BigBoosHaunt zombie-infested town]] of [[spoiler: Louran]] contains this. Needless to say, the place is really, really creepy.
* In ''VideoGame/TwistedMetalBlack'', the Freeway stage has church bells in its ambient soundtrack.
* ''VideoGame/TheWalkingDead'' in Season 1 Episode 4 Chuck says the trope name when a mysterious woman got the church bells ringing attracting the walkers towards the gang.
* At the beginning of the cinematic where Arthas returns from Northrend and [[spoiler:murders his father]] in ''{{VideoGame/Warcraft III}}'', church bells celebrate his miraculous survival. The good use of bells probably contributed to it earning the fourth place in [[http://www.gamespy.com/articles/771/771937p1.html GameSpy's Top 25 Video Game Cinematic Moments]] article.
** The moment is even commemorated in-game in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'': players can hear echoes of the bells beneath the ruined belltower in the entrance to the Undercity.
* At one point in ''VideoGame/{{Ys}} II'', you ascend a bell tower, where Maria Messa will be executed when the bell tolls four times. Unfortunately, YouAreTooLate to save her, for now ([[DisneyDeath she gets better later]]). The music also has a bell-based melody.
** In ''Ys IV'', the song "Temptation of the Master Harlequin" also features tubular bells.
* The opening cinematic of ''VideoGame/ZorkNemesis'' has a single bell ringing with a particularly ominous aftertone. You later find a bell with the same tone, but its use is rather underwhelming: [[spoiler:you hang onto the rope after ringing the bell and get lifted up to window level so you can access a locked room]].

[[folder: Web Comics]]
* Some of the music in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' has doom bells, but [[RedAlert an air-raid siren]] usually plays this role instead. [[http://homestuck.bandcamp.com/track/atomyk-ebonpyre Observe.]]
** [[http://homestuck.bandcamp.com/track/trollian-standoff Trollian Standoff]] uses bells along with Ennio Morricone-ish strings and whistling to set a very ominous atmosphere for an epic three-way confrontation ... that goes [[DarkHorseVictory completely into left field]].
** Also clown horns.
* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'', Mechanicsburg has the aptly named Doom Bell, used to herald momentous occasions, such as the birth of a new scion of the ruling Heterodyne family, for the anointing of a new lord of the family and city, or just because. The bell has an effect of inflicting existential despair upon all who hear it. Only members of the Heterodyne family and their loyal army of Jagermonsters seem completely unaffected, while those used to it or are strong enough [[ScienceRelatedMemeticDisorder sparks]] themselves to be regarded as peers to the Heterodynes seem to be able to power through hearing it. [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20111031 Witness its power over the next several pages.]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* In the {{Creator/Pixar}} short ''Sanjay's Super Team'', a Hindu god uses the sound emitted by a prayer bell to drive away a demon. [[spoiler:This fails, but then Sanjay uses the prayer-candle holder as a bell, which succeeds.]]

[[folder: Real Life]]
* Prior to the advent of radio, the tocsin was used for {{emergency broadcast}}s. The tocsin involved a single church bell tolling, to be joined by all the church bells in an area tolling at once, slowly at first, then with ever-increasing tempo. This let the people know that they were about to be attacked. On September 7, 1940, this actually happened in Britain. Misuse of the code word "[[UsefulNotes/OliverCromwell Cromwell]]", used to get home defense in a higher state of alert when it was only supposed to be used if a German invasion were actually underway, led to the ringing of church bells all over the country as Britain's armed forces manned their stations to repel the Germans.
* Eastern Orthodox Churches use a tolling bell to indicate the start of a funeral service.