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[[quoteright:350:[[Film/CitizenKane http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/f61011be095040757b016a39baddff60.png]]]]

You know that old, foreboding house up on the top of the hill, surrounded by thick forests, and [[ClosedCircle accessible only by a single bridge that has a tendency to wash out during every rainstorm]]? Yeah, that one. Have you ever noticed that it always seems to attract eclectic groups of strangers who get invited for the reading of a will or a dinner party with a mysterious host? And why is it that the strangers keep [[TenLittleMurderVictims getting killed off, one by one]], during the night? It must be one of them doing it? But which?

Expect many [[SecretPath passageways hidden]] [[BookcasePassage behind bookcases]], usually operated [[ShaggySearchTechnique by candlesticks]], [[PortraitPaintingPeephole portraits with removable eyes for spying]], and the ubiquitous [[DramaticThunder thunder and lightning]]. Almost inevitably, all methods of communication with the outside world will have [[ClosedCircle somehow ceased to function]], if they ever existed at all... especially [[CutPhoneLines telephones]]. (This was more plausible in the early 20th century, a.k.a. [[GenteelInterbellumSetting Agatha Christie Time]], when many old dwellings had not yet been fitted with telephones and service in general was commonly more apt to fail.) You can also expect the lights to go out several times during the night. (Usually [[LightsOffSomebodyDies when it's least convenient]].)

May or may not be [[HauntedHouse haunted]] or have some curse or be hiding a DarkSecret. If the mystery is set in Europe, this may be a [[HauntedCastle castle]] instead of a [[BigFancyHouse mansion]]. See also HauntedHouse and HauntedCastle, which usually ''are'' haunted. In this trope, while a haunting may be real, it is more likely that the mysterious poltergeist is an [[ScoobyDooHoax elaborate hoax]].

Please keep in mind that ''not'' any old house with poor lighting will do for this trope. This is a classic trope of, and a great set piece for, [[MysteryFiction whodunnit murder mysteries]].



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'': The Rokenjima mansion, complete with being cut off from the rest of the world and its own witch stories.
* The ''Manga/XXXHolic'' movie ''A Midsummer's Night Dream'' takes place in one of these. [[spoiler: Though the house itself is the one making the guests disappear.]]

[[folder:Board Games]]
* The board game ''TabletopGame/{{Clue}}'' (aka ''[[TabletopGame/{{Clue}} Cluedo]]'') is perhaps the best known example of this trope.
* The game ''TabletopGame/KillDoctorLucky'', which is inspired by ''Clue'', also takes place in such a mansion.
* ''TabletopGame/BetrayalAtHouseOnTheHill'' takes place in one of these. Though you usually know who the bad guy is.
* ''13 Dead End Drive'' is a board game with this as the set piece and the players as potential heirs trying to bump each other off.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The titular ''House of Mystery'' and ''House of Secrets'' horror anthologies from Creator/DCComics, which later featured in ''ComicBook/TheSandman''.

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* Dr. Brainstorm attempts to scare Calvin and company in one of these in ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries''.

[[folder:Film -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/{{Clue}}'' the movie took place inside such a mansion.
* The movie ''Film/TheOldDarkHouse1932'' (as well as [[Film/TheOldDarkHouse1963 the 1963 remake]]) is the TropeNamer. In the former, group of characters get stuck on a stormy night in a house with dark history. The latter is a comedy murder mystery concerning a family fortune.
** Both movies are based on an old novel, ''Benighted'', by J.B. Priestly.
* ''Film/TheMonster'' (1925) might be the earliest example of this trope. The mansion/asylum currently occupied by Dr. Ziska has hidden passageways, hidden trap doors, steel shutters that slide down in front of the windows to prevent escape, and fireplaces rigged to emit knockout gas. And of course it's got Ziska's creepy lab down in the basement.
* Larry Blamire's ''Film/DarkAndStormyNight'' is an intentional AffectionateParody of this genre with a couple of LampshadeHanging moments.
* An old Creator/BelaLugosi movie called ''Ghost Story'' took place in such a mansion. Though since the movie was primarily meant to be humorous, there was no murder involved.
* The Don Knotts film ''Film/ThePrivateEyes'' featured one of these where the house staff are being knocked off one by one some time after the the lord and lady are murdered.
* ''Film/MurderByDeath'' is one of these movies, only the guests are all pastiches of famous fictional detectives.
* Even though it takes place in a radio station during a live show, ''Film/TheRadiolandMurders'' plays this trope pretty well. The biggest difference is that only certain important people conected to the station are in danger, and not everyone in the building.
* The original ''Film/{{House On Haunted Hill|1959}}'' is a modernized version of one (the house is a Creator/FrankLloydWright creation from 1923). [[Film/HouseOnHauntedHill1999 The 1999 remake]] is more of a traditional HauntedHouse.
* Xanadu is often presented this way in ''Film/CitizenKane''.
* The Creator/AbbottAndCostello movie ''Hold That Ghost'' takes place in an old abandoned inn that the boys inherited from a dying gangster.
* An old theatre serves this purpose in ''The Last Warning''. It was closed years ago due to a scandalous murder that went unsolved, and now it's about to be reopened with the same people that were working in it during the incident. The whole thing is actually a set-up to finally catch the culprit.

* Agatha Christie's ''Literature/AndThenThereWereNone'' took place in a mansion on an island, and the boat wasn't coming back for several days. Notably, the house has the finest modern amenities available in the era. Vera Claythorne comments on it.
* Sarah Waters' ''The Little Stranger'' takes place in a decrepit, isolated old manor house in Warwickshire.
* Creator/HPLovecraft's short story "Literature/TheShunnedHouse". Downplayed in that looking from the outside it doesn't seem particularly ominous or special.
* The titular setting for the ''Literature/FightingFantasy'' Gamebook ''Literature/HouseOfHell'' is one of these.
* Mildew Manor, a recurring location in Creator/KimNewman's work originally introduced as a HauntedHouse in [[http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/vampires/newstory/newman_p1.shtml the spoof Gothic play of the same title]] and later used for a variety of "spooky old house" tropes, serves as a whodunnit location in the ''Literature/AnnoDracula'' short story "Vampire Romance".
* Most of Foxworth Hall in ''Literature/FlowersInTheAttic'' is beautiful, but the giant, labyrinthine, dark, dusty attic with its forgotten relics and creepy schoolroom definitely falls under this trope.
* The titular manor in ''Literature/MurderAtColefaxManor'', fitting the trope even further by being set on cliffs above the sea.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheAdventuresOfBriscoCountyJr.'' had an episode that took place on an island during a gathering of famous bounty hunters where someone begins killing them off.
* The premise of the [[Creator/{{Syfy}} Sci Fi Channel]] GameShow ''Series/EstateOfPanic'' - find cash in an Old Dark House rigged with traps and scary surprises before you are locked inside of it for good.
* The show ''Series/{{Psych}}'' has an episode which is an homage to Old Dark House films in general and the movie Clue specifically, with guest appearances from several of the stars of Clue.

* ''Pinball/StrangeScience'' begins when two teenagers venture inside a seemingly-abandoned dark house, only to find the MadScientist and laboratory inside.

* ''Theatre/ArsenicAndOldLace'' somewhat parodies this, being set in an old Victorian house. It's not particularly dark, though its elderly owners disdain electric lighting, and it turns out to have a fair number of places for stashing dead bodies.
* ''Theatre/TheBat'' is set at the house of Courtleigh Fleming, the late president of the failed Union Bank. Rumor has it that the money robbed from the bank is stashed in a Hidden Room in the house. In an old country house whose lights tend to fail during storms, candles, pocket flashlights, and wristwatches with illuminated dials all become important items.
* ''Theatre/TheCatAndTheCanary'', where a young heiress and her relatives are harassed by a killer.
%%* Agatha Christie's ''Theatre/TheMousetrap''.
* ''Out of Sight... Out of Murder'' parodies this. A writer rents an old house (where a previous mystery writer vanished "under mysterious circumstances"), to write his murder mystery (he's not sure yet how it will end.) His characters show up, and one of them tries to kill him... but which one?
* Parodied by the play-within-a-play in ''Theatre/TheRealInspectorHound''.

[[folder:Theme Parks]]
* ''Ride/TheHauntedMansion'' at Disneyland was originally going to be this trope, but the concept was vetoed early on by Creator/WaltDisney who claimed that an abandoned, run-down mansion would look out-of-place on the main road of the otherwise pristine New Orleans Square. The future incarnations of the attraction (such as in Florida and Paris) end up playing this trope straight by having their mansions off of the main road and in their own mini-areas.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''[[Videogame/ChzoMythos 5 Days a Stranger]]'' takes place in one of these.
* One of the Dark Brotherhood mission from ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion'' sends you to one of these, only ''you'' are the murderer. (Though it's possible to convince the guests to kill each other.)
* [[http://shivergames.com/lucius/ Lucius]] plays this trope much like the Dark Brotherhood mission from Oblivion. You play a child of the devil who must kill everyone else in the house without arousing suspicion.
* The [[BigScrewedUpFamily Verlac]] [[BigFancyHouse mansion]], in [[LovecraftCountry the title]] [[TownWithADarkSecret town of]] ''Videogame/{{Anchorhead}}'', has [[SecretPath hidden passageways]], [[SpookyPainting unsettling]] [[PortraitPaintingPeephole paintings]], windows painted shut, and a [[spoiler:[[MadwomanInTheAttic Madman in the Attic]]]].
* The Shin-Ra Mansion in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' is unusual in that the hidden evil in it is not some creature, but records of experiments of [[MadScientist mad science]]. Sephiroth (a former test subject) goes mad from reading there records, and emerges from the house as the BigBad of the game.
* The best ''VideoGame/NancyDrew'' games [[TropesAreNotBad often take place in one of these.]] In particular, Blackmoor Manor and Thornton Hall are excellent examples of the trope.
* ''VideoGame/NeverendingNightmares'' begins in one, where Thomas and his sister Gabby live. And taking place inside of a nightmare, it only grows more dark and desolate as the plot advances.
* Episode 6 of ''VideoGame/MinecraftStoryMode'' will be this with several Minecraft [=YouTubers=] and the game's protagonists being the guests of "The White Pumpkin."
* Dark Manor in ''Videogame/KirbysEpicYarn'' though despite being haunted, the biggest challenge is simply navigating it due to the darkness, with the ghosts almost being {{helpful mook}}s, as they give off light, however minuscule. In an extra challenge where ''living'' "[[HarmlessVillain enemies]]" take residence in DarkManor Kirby and Fluff become the monsters of a MookHorrorShow.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[http://ravensblight.com/ Ravensblight County]] has many such houses. Ravensblight Manor itself, Dark Mansion, the Cliff House, Starc manor, all abandoned but for some... [[HauntedHouse THING inside]]. [[HalloweenTown Plus a lighthouse and a chapel to boot]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'', Batman becomes a vampire and invites several heroes to the Justice League satellite, which quickly becomes an Old Dark House, as he takes them out, one by one.
* The were-car episode of ''{{WesternAnimation/Futurama}}'' begins with Bender inheriting one of these off a dead uncle, prompting the following exchange:
-->'''Lawyer:''' ''(reading Will)'' To my nephew, Bender, I leave my castle...\\
'''Bender:''' Woohoo! Let's stay there tonight!\\
'''Lawyer:''' ...on the condition that he stay there tonight.\\
'''Bender:''' Ah crap! There's always a catch...
** The castle itself turns out to be full of robot-themed spookiness such as paintings with mechanized eyes which follow motion sensors, the Windows start-up music echoing through the halls, 666 in written in binary appearing ''backwards'' in the mirrors, etc.
* This is a staple of ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo'' and many of its imitators, though the victims are usually just kidnapped instead of murdered.
* This is played with on a episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', Homer's Aunt has passed away, and her will demands that the Simpson family must spend a night in an allegedly haunted house. Cut to the family entering the house, Homer declaring "There's no such thing as ghosts." The next morning, the family is well-rested, refreshed, having slept better and the water was better too.
* The old ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManAndHisAmazingFriends'' had an episode where The Chameleon invited Spider-Man and six other heroes to an island he owns and filled with traps so he could impersonate them, sowing distrust, and then kill them. He even uses a [[TenLittleMurderVictims Ten Little Indians-style rhyme]].