"Beware, beware, the Forest of SinIn horror/thriller/fantasy movies, holidays or outings in woodsy locations never seem to bode all that well. This trope is Older Than Dirt, 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 deciduous wilderness of North America or Europe. Horrible things ensue. The soon-to-be-not-so-happy campers get stalked through the trees by psychopathic killers; they run afoul of tribes of inbred hillbillies; ghosts, werewolves, witches, druids, fairies and other such beings toy with them; perhaps even the trees themselves attack them; they hear strange noises in the night; people disappear; people go insane. Rarely do movies of this flavor end happily; often with everyone ending up dead, though there may be a Final Girl. This has almost gotten to the point at which such movies almost have Foregone Conclusions. The horror equivalent of the Horrible Camping Trip, for a doomed wilderness expedition, see River of Insanity, sometimes may overlap with Wild Wilderness at some point but with much darker overtones. Contrast The Lost Woods, which may even be hostile, but is not actively horrific. Subtrope of Deadly Road Trip.
None come out, though many go in."
None come out, though many go in."
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- In Hansel and Gretel, a people-eating witch waits in the woods.
- In Little Red Riding Hood, a people-eating wolf waits in the woods.
- Many stories feature a Wicked Stepmother/Abusive Parents sending their children specifically to the woods to die, whether of starvation or in hopes they'll be eaten. Though in some tales, such as Jack Frost, the woods 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 the 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.
- In We Are All Pokémon Trainers 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 Popped, Rainbow Dash and Applejack venture into a dense forest in an effort to find a missing Pinkie Pie. Things don't exactly end well for either of them.
- In 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 Ax-Crazy, 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 The Blair Witch Project, 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. Things don't go well for a trio of film students who get lost in the woods
- In Cabin Fever, the kids go on a trip to a cabin in the woods and contract a flesh-eating disease. Hilarity Ensues.
- Invoked in The Cabin in the Woods which focuses on this trope and - as its name points out - the cabin in the woods.
- The titular Dead Lands are described as a forbidden, scary place.
- In 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 Dog Soldiers, 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 owned by one of the werewolves themselves.
- Don't Go in the Woods, about a group of campers who venture into the woods and come face to face with a deranged killer. More Hilarity Ensues. This time unintentionally.
- Eden Lake has a young couple go to the English countryside, where they're set upon by a deranged band of children and teenagers. It turns out their parents in the nearby town are even more deranged.
- The Evil Dead (1981), where a group of college students go to a cabin in the woods and accidentally unleash demons from a Tome of Eldritch Lore. Hilarity Ensues, including tree rape, Demonic Possession and, eventually, Time Travel.
- In The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow the woods of northern Ontario are where a Secret Circle of Secrets/Mystery Cult get up to the dirty business of worshipping ancient death-goddesses, and its heavily implied that Human Sacrifice is a part of that worship, as an Occult Detective examines a seemingly innocuous photo of a group on a camping trip.
- The Final Terror is set in a forest where a killer with a messy hair chases campers.
- Crazy cannibal hermit hunts people for food in The Forest (1982). There are also ghosts.
- Two thirds of the Friday the 13th installments, where generations of teenagers visit the infamous forestbound Camp Crystal Lake and come up against the vengeful, hulking zombie of a drowned boy named Jason Voorhees. They're always being warned. They always ignore the warnings. They always lose the use of vital organs.
- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers 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 House of Wax (2005), 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.
- Just Before Dawn is a typical Slasher Movie where bunch of twenty-somethings camp out deep in the woods and meet death. What isn't so typical is the fact that there are actually two killers.
- In Lesbian Vampire Killers, 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 Vampires.
- Letter Never Sent 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.
- The Lost World: Jurassic Park hits this in the third act, when the characters have to cross the tyrannosaur and 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 Zerg Rush of Compsognathus.
- In 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 Mother's Day features a trio of women going on a camping trip, only to be abducted by a family of psychopaths.
- In Night of the Demon, 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 Pan's Labyrinth, 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. Ultimately subverted in that the forest-dwelling fey creatures are good, despite being incredibly creepy. Also, they're possibly not real in the first place.
- Picnic at Hanging Rock, more of a Mind Screw 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 Older Than They Think take on The Blair Witch Project.
- Main cast of Prophecy are stuck on forest in Maine (actually Canada) which is home to a killer bear that has been mutated by pollution from a local paper mill.
- Simon Says 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 Axe Crazy and kills the other twin and their parents. The teens then meet a creepy long-nosed store owner (obviously, the same Axe Crazy 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.
- Sleepaway Camp. Set primarily in a summer camp, but at one point bunch of kids and a counselor venture into the woods. The kids never came back.
- Strange Magic: The fairies and elves are warned to not go into the dark forest or they'll be locked away forever by the Bog King.
- There's Nothing Out There, 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!"
- 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 fundamentalist catholic maniacs.
- Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil 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 Wrong Genre Savvy 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.
- The Village 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. They turn out to be not real, but she only finds that out later.
- In The Virgin Spring, 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.
- The Watcher in the Woods, where a summer in the forest turns into an encounter with a wandering spirit and forces from another dimension. It's from Disney, and it's rated PG. Don't let that fool you.
- Welp involves a Belgian Cub Scout troop going into French woods, where one of the Scouts begins to suspect a feral boy is stalking them. He's right to a degree, but it's actually a whole lot worse...
- The Wizard of Oz has the spooky forest around the Witch's castle, with a sign famously reading "I'd turn back if I were you!"
- Wrong Turn 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, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End and Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead.
- J. R. R. Tolkien:
- Mirkwood, haunted by a weakened shade of Sauron and a swarm of giant spiders. There are Wood-Elves, however they come across as far more sinister then 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 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 Old Man Willow...
- Fangorn Forest had a pretty bad reputation, probably due to the Ents' (a race of ultimately benevolent, though still dangerous, 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 threat if there are no Ents around to herd them.
- In the First Age 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 sack Doriath and their father King Dior is killed. The eldest son Maedhros repents and tries to find them but is unable too. 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 The Children of Húrin are dangerous due to the large band of outlaws, the Gaurwaith (Sindarin for Wolf-Men). When he joins them Turin makes the wood dangerous for orcs by turning the outlaws into La Résistance.
- A recurring theme in the works of Algernon Blackwood.
- In Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan, 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 very dark force.)
"Ah, mother, mother, why did you let me go in the forest with Helen?"
- In the poem by Jacob Streilein Theres A Man In The Woods 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 Stephen King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, the title character gets lost in the forests of Lovecraft Country.
- In the Warrior Cats 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.
- The Forest in Septimus Heap is filled with carnivorous trees, wolverines, and nasty witches and not a place to enter without caution. Septimus and Nicko get almost killed in Flyte in this Forest.
- The Low Countries in Queste are also implied to be dangerous.
- The Sword of Shannara: 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 Mist Marsh.
- Lois Lowry's Autumn Street is a children's book, not a horror story. But this trope definitely applies to Charles near the end.
- The woods of Ithor in Galaxy of Fear: 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, I'm sure there's nothing dangerous here."The sentence had barely left her mouth when a bunch of vines wrapped themselves around Zak and pulled him into the air.
- In Dave Barry's Twilight parody "Fangs of Endearment," one character tries to warn the protagonist (who, in a deliberate show of Genre Blindness, decides to grab the Idiot Ball 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 "Young Goodman Brown", the protagonist goes into the woods, and he sees his wife Faith's pink ribbon. He meets up with a Louis Cypher, 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 The Inheritance Cycle. 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.
- Forest in 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 A Song of Ice and Fire the prologue of the first book takes place in the Haunted Wood just North of the Wall. The woods beyond the wall become more dangerous due to the Others, in the TV series called the White Walkers.
- The Wind in the Willows - 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.
- Valdemar has the Forest of Sorrows; subverted in that though it certainly is dangerous...that's only if you have evil or cruel intend. 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.
Live Action TV
- Power Rangers Mystic Force: 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 Wild Mass Guessing (there are several quite plausible possibilities, none stated in-show.)
- Revolution: In the 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. Justified Trope 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...
- The X-Files:
- 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.
- 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 "Wendigo" of Supernatural, campers disappear in in the Lost Creek Wilderness.
- The aptly-named Ghostwood Forest around the town of Twin Peaks, which contains a portal to the hellish Black Lodge, and is creeping with vaguely-defined evil and terrifying demonic owls.
- A song from Finnish heavy-metal band, Teräsbetoni, is called "Älä mene metsään" ("Don't go in the woods").
- A song by the Swedish techno-bluegrass band Rednex, called "Is he alive" tells about a Humanoid Abomination that plays the fiddle and hides in a mine in the woods.
- Queens of the Stone Age's 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.
- The Kinks song "Wicked Annabella" warns:
Don't go into the woods tonight'cause underneath the sticks and stonesare lots of little demons enslaved by Annabellawaitin' just to carry you home
- The plot of Rob Cantor's song "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 aloneIt's lovely down in the woods today but safer to stay at homeFor every bear that ever there was will gather there for certainBecause today's the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic
- 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!"
- Jim Gaffigan: 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 Serial Killer to get you when you come looking for me?"
- Eddie Izzard did a similar routine once.
"Let's go camping in the Forest of Death and Blood!"
- Norm MacDonald has a bit where he notes that nothing good ever happens in the woods, and that no missing girl ever comes bounding out of the woods perfectly fine.
- Pretty much every forest in the Warhammer World is filled with brigands, wolves, goblins, giant spiders, mutants, beastmen, minotaurs, cockatrices, chimeras, or even worse things. The forest of Athel Loren is in mainly ways the least scary, because the xenophobic Wood Elves will just shoot you full of arrows.
- That's really just if you're lucky. You're at least equally as likely to get lost on twisted, maddening paths that lead only where the forest wants them to lead, at which point all manner of suck will happen.
- 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.
- Indie game Summerland has the Sea of Leaves, a 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 savage, feral cannibals that already live in it.
- Indie game The Path instructs you not to go into the woods, and because this is an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood, 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 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.
- World of Warcraft 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.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time it is best to not go into the woods unless you are a Kokiri child if you don't you want to become a monster.
- Slender, featuring the long-limbed gentle...-man? thing?- mentioned below, is a textbook example of why forests should be avoided.
- Until Dawn, drawing inspiration from the many slasher movies that have employed this trope, is about eight friends who take a winter getaway at a hotel deep in some mountainous, snow-covered woods. It doesn't end well for any of them.
- In Night In The Woods, 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 The End of the World as We Know It.
- The Slender Man sure loves his pine forests, but he's not averse to other kinds of trees.
- A specific example is in Everyman HYBRID; in the episode entitled Joke's Over, Evan, Vince and Jeff see 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... 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...
- Marble Hornets narrows it down a bit- while Slenders can show up just about anywhere, wandering into the woods in Rosswood Park is practically guaranteed to end in a run-in with him.
- SCP Foundation does it in 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]. And this is before the SCP-899-1 manifestations appear...
- Nyx Crossing takes place in a forested area, which appears to be an Eldritch Location.
- The forest bordering Ink City is home to mindless ink monsters and other threats, and also holds the Fourth Wall. 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.
- Story of the Blanks is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic 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 Town with a Dark Secret hiding in its depths. In detail? 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 Cute Ghost Girl 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... which may be part of the reason why the game is so scary.
- Invoked by 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. In the end, the principal becomes the man in the woods and is implied to murder the child who started the rumors.
- In Demo Reel, 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.
- The locations page for Off the Page and into Life 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 The Big Bad Wolf himself lives there...
- The Haunted Woods in Neopets gives off this vibe, although it's just as visible as any other realm.
- In The Onion article 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, 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 nation’s 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."
- Elon gives Myari this warning in Ears for Elves 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 Stand Still, Stay Silent. 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.
- The dark forest sequence in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 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 Beauty and the Beast 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.
- The Amazing World of Gumball, "The Picnic". To get to the picnic area, the class has to go around the Forest of Doom (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 very, very bizarre predators like a teal deer with fangs and a rooster head and giant cyclopic bear with antlers.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The ponies of Equestria treat the Everfree Forest as an Eldritch Location, looking at it with fear, and preffering to avoid it when possible. Turns out, the forest is not so bad… it just happens to be an Eldritch Location for them only, because the plants and trees fend by themselves without pony aid, and the weather is not under the control of Pegasi; which clashes directly with the rest of the pony-ordered, cheerfully civilized Equestria. It is of note, though, that Everfree Forest DOES have some genuinely dangerous creatures, such as manticores or Ursas, other 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.
- One exception would be that Zecora lives quite happily in the forest.
- The Headless Horseman sequence from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow segment from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
- Since The Smurfs already live in the woods, they are warned in The Legend Of Smurfy Hollow not to go into Smurfy Hollow.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil has "The Forest of Certain Death" from "Diaz Family Vacation", a Mewni landmark which is just as bad as it sounds.
- In Over the Garden Wall, Wirt and Greg encounter a number of strange threats in the forests of the Unknown, including The Beast.
Truth In Television
- The Roman General Quinctilius Varus was warned by several German chieftains not to lead his army into the Teutoberg Forest as the warlord Arminius was planning an ambush. Varus did it anyway, and the entire army was destroyed.
- During the Peloponnesian War, Athenian general Demosthenes once led a group of 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, 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 Star-Crossed Lovers, 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 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. 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.
- 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 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 yeagers and rangers.
- 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.)