A spooky house. A staple of Horror
. Where Haunted Castles
would appear in European tales, the Haunted House takes its place in American stories. It is commonly associated with bumps in the night, strange lights, and a shady history involving violence and terror.
It might be a ramshackle abandoned shack standing alone. Or a Big Fancy House
maintained by a Creepy Housekeeper
. Or a typical suburban home
built on an Indian Burial Ground
. Or has a preturbed poltergeist
with Unfinished Business
using it as a personal Psychological Torment Zone
. It has a distressing tendency of killing its way through a family receiving it as an Unexpected Inheritance
, and if it gets a sufficiently sordid reputation it will be chronicled by a Haunted House Historian
who tries to warn new would-be victims- who of course read it as a travel guide
The house itself may seem alive, with a mind of its own
, yet it may be surrounded by dead trees and blackened grass
. Will usually be always in permanent night time
, if not having localised Grave Clouds
When you enter, the "wind"
closes the door behind you- and likely will not reopen
until its time for the next set of schmucks to take the bait
. Creepy portraits may adorn the walls and the eyes may literally follow your every move
. There are probably cobwebs
everywhere, draped over the ever-changing portraits
. The Ominous Pipe Organ
may start playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
all on its own. Mirrors reflect things that aren't there... when they aren't all broken
. There will probably be at least a couple Bookcase Passages
and Booby Traps
Many haunted houses as depicted in film and TV (particularly vintage productions), and in videogames, tend to be Bigger on the Inside
, with seemingly endless corridors and remote areas and rooms that seem incongruous with exterior views of the building. Sometimes it's simply because Artists Are Not Architects
, but frequently there is an implication that the haunted house is a form of Eldritch Location
: a Mobile Maze
in a Negative Space Wedgie
. If you find yourself in one of these, expect Endless Corridors
and Scooby-Dooby Doors
to be the least of your problems. In particularly bad cases, as the house gathers more life force
and fear energy
expect increasing levels of Bizarrchitecture
and Malevolent Architecture
, particularly if you're getting closer to figuring out how to get out or appoaching the heart of the house. In the core of these places expect to find blatant Alien Geometry
, or possibly even a full blown Psychological Torment Zone
This is somewhat a Discredited Trope
nowadays, with parodies, Abandoned Hospitals
, and amusement park attractions
being similarly popular to the straight portrayals. It's also an enduring trope, however, with stories of haunted houses going back at least to the ancient Romans
, making it Older Than Feudalism
Compare Haunted Headquarters
, which is any haunted primary setting, and Old Dark House
, which may or may not have a supernatural element. Big Boo's Haunt
is this trope in video games. Will often end up invoking Never Recycle a Building
, for good reason.
If it's merely the setting for a Scooby-Doo Hoax
involving Ten Little Murder Victims
, see Old Dark House
For the Atari 2600
game of the same name, go here
. For the Gottlieb Pinball
of the same name, go here.
open/close all folders
- In Keroro Gunsou, the Hinata house is haunted by a Cute Ghost Girl who appears sporadically throughout the series. She turns out to be really a very nice person. Also, she kinda sucks at haunting.
- Anna and Yoh's house in Shaman King.
- Ghost Hunt had one, based on the Winchester Mystery House.
- One chapter of Digimon V Tamer features Taichi, Zero and Gabou going to a haunted house to find one of the V-Tags.
- 0012 in Cyborg 009 may be the consciousness of a human cybernetically transferred to a mansion, but for all intents and purposes, this mansion is a haunted house: She can project her voice and a holographic image anywhere in the house; make objects levitate and manipulate the walls, floors, and ceilings; and has placed the house in a dark forest when 009 and the others arrive.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch spent at least one story dealing with a hostile haunted house, within which her magical powers were unavailable.
- The little cabin in The Evil Dead (1981) contains a haunted book, so, for all intents and purposes, is haunted.
- Gracey Manor in The Haunted Mansion (2003) starring Eddie Murphy is a parody.
- Beetlejuice is a haunted house comedy from the perspective of the ghosts.
- Darkness (2002), starring Anna Paquin, had a family moving into a haunted house as part of an Evil Plan to complete a demonic ritual.
- Poltergeist features a suburban California home that is normal at first, but is invaded by ghosts that torment the owners in various ways. Because it was built on top of a cemetery.
- Invoked in Thir13en Ghosts in which an occultist builds an infernal engine in the form of a glass house, then deliberately moves ghosts into it as a power source.
- The Amityville Horror and all sequels.
- The Haunting in Connecticut: The house was formerly a funeral home.
- The Burbs: The suburban house next door takes on some cliches of a haunted house after the extraordinarily creepy neighbors move in. Though it's not haunted, the neighbors do turn out to be a clan of murderers.
- The Haunting (1963).
- Whether the House on Haunted Hill (1959) actually is haunted is moot. What's important is that people think it is.
- The House by the Cemetery. And being haunted isn't the worst part, there's an Undead Mad Scientist living in the cellar.
- The Changeling from 1980 features George C. Scott moving into a house that is haunted by the ghost of a crippled child who was drowned in the bathtub by his father.
- Played straight and Inverted in The Others starring Nicole Kidman. The house is haunted, but by the main characters, who don't realize that they're dead.
- Ju-on and The Grudge feature a Tokyo suburban house haunted by the family that was murdered there, and the rage formed from their emotions revive them as scary-as-hell ghosts. You step into the house, you are dead.
- The Conjuring has a house haunted by a multitude of evil spirits. They latch onto the family so even if they left the house the spirits would go right along with them.
- The Woman in Black with a house haunted by a woman and some stunningly creepy toys. It's no surprise this movie hits most of the classic haunted house traits since it not only takes place in Victorian England but also was released by Hammer movies.
- The Skeptic has a possibly explained example in Beckett's Aunt's house.
- The Legend of Hell House (1973, from Richard Matheson's "Hell House") is "The Mt. Everest of haunted houses". During two investigations eight people died, several from suicide. The latest investigation includes a physical medium (the only survivor of the last investigation), a mental medium, a skeptical physicist and his somewhat unstable wife. In the end they find the house's incredibly evil owner has willed his spirit to remain in the house, tormenting and killing as he did in life
- The climax of The Ghost Writer takes place in this kind of home, the home where the protagonist's mother was raised.
- Judith Spearing's Ghosts Who Went to School had a house filled with a ghost family. The bank who owned the property couldn't sell it, despite it being well maintained by the resident ghosts.
- Shaman of the Undead has two rather benign examples - house where Ida lives and trains is partly alive-ish (it's complex) and haunted by her aunt Tekla, and house she moves to later is inhibited by three ghosts that are rather curious than malevolent and prove helpful in solving the case.
- Shirley Jackson's classic novel, The Haunting of Hill House. The first paragraph has been cited by Stephen King as one of the finest openings in English-language literature:
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
- Matheson's Hell House rivals Shirley Jackson's Hill House.
- In Myth Adventures Skeeve received from the natives (Deveels), notoriously canny businessmen, a big house on Deva as a part of a deal. Why do they give him a cheap house? It has a back door that leads to the Uberwald-like vampire dimension.
- And the native vampires avoid it as haunted. Some even say they saw humans there — just imagine it!
- The Shrieking Shack in the Harry Potter series. Arguably, Sirius Black's house as well.
- The Shrieking Shack wasn't really haunted, but people thought it was due to the strange noises coming from it (which were caused by Lupin in his werewolf phase).
- Technically the Weasley's house had a ghoul in the attic.
- Subverted in Tom's Midnight Garden. Tom only thinks he is staying in a haunted house; in truth, he is travelling through time, during which he is able to pass through solid objects and people.
- Subverted in The Haunting of Grade Three, where the eponymous third-grade class has relocated to an old house, which has mysterious noises and objects that move seemingly of their own accord. In truth, the house is sinking, which accounts for the odd noises and movements.
- Subverted in The Ghosts of Cougar Island, which features an abandoned, seemingly haunted house. In truth, the "haunting" is caused by some runaway orphans.
- In "The Shunned House" by HP Lovecraft, the hero of the story becomes obsessed with a mysterious house that, since it was first built, wound up either driving its occupants insane or causing them a slow wasting death. It turned out that the house was built over the final resting place of a magician who slowly drained the Life Force from the people near him in the night.
- Also the titular house in "The Dreams in the Witch-House" has a haunted reputation, but is actually periodically visited by a living, immortal witch who used to live in the house, and still uses its sealed attic for her work.
- Arabian Nights: The story Ali the Cairene and the Haunted House in Baghdad.
- House of Leaves is a postmodern horror story about a family that slowly discovers that their house is Bigger on the Inside. Much, much bigger. Also, possibly there's a monster.
- Nick Arcade: The Creepyville board has a haunted house crawling with ghosts that scare Mikey (the player).
- In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, Donna thinks she's going mad because she can barely sleep, the house feels like it's haunted by stuff out of Edgar Allan Poe. It is.
- Edbrook Manor from Haunted 1988 is haunted by ghosts.
- Anne Rivers Siddons' The House Next Door is a very strange example in that the house is still unbuilt at the start of the book, and there's no obvious reason why it turns out the way it does (it's not built on a cemetery, for example). All the same, it's a very Bad Place indeed. It's the architect that's cursed. All his previous projects were unfinished because someone died or was blinded in a freak construction incident. No reason why it's him but he was adopted and doesn't know who his real parents were, so that tells us something. After they kill him and are killed by the house someone finds the plans to that house and it looks like it's going to happen again.
- The Clancy House, in Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots, where Mrs. Jeepers moves in. This is what initially signals to the kids that Mrs. Jeepers is a vampire.
- In The Dark Tower series, the Dean brothers visit the reputedly-haunted Mansion, but never work up the nerve to go inside. This was a wise decision, as the house itself is the guardian of a portal between worlds. A very aggressive guardian.
- Subverted in Chris Bohjalian's The Night Strangers. There are bones in the basement and multiple ghosts wandering around. However, the bones belong to a child who isn't haunting the house, and the ghosts are attached to the protagonist, ex-pilot Chip Linton, not to the house itself.
- Martha lives in one in Trick or Treat. Or at least, she believes it to be haunted — it is really a jealous friend of hers doing all the freaky things.
- In his memoir Running In The Family, Michael Oondatje mentions that the house where he's staying is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a young woman who committed suicide. She appears in one of the bedrooms, wearing a red dress, and no one ever wants to sleep in that room. Ondaatje doesn't mention seeing the ghost himself, but he does find the room to be quite eerie-looking.
- A staple in Lockwood & Co., in an Alternate Universe where hauntings have suddenly become rampant and which ghost-hunting agencies are hired to take care of.
- The Fighting Fantasy Survival Horror interactive adventure Novel House of Hell, deals with the typical "Car breaks down during a storm" and your character is trapped in a giant mansion filled with zombies, demons, other monsters, devil worshipers and many cliches like a hunchback. Interesting is that if you encounter too many jump scares, your character can literally die of fright.
- Inverted in a fun way in the Ahriman Trilogy. The Guest is an entity possessing the Bell house, though it acts much like a traditional haunting, even when it's trying to be nice. It feeds on emotion like a plant with sunlight, so a gloomy house gets a scary haunting, while a happy house gets a more mischievous ghost.
Live Action Television
- 30 Rock. Lampshaded by a Genre Savvy Liz Lemon.
- In American Horror Story: Murder House, the house is haunted by numerous previous residents who died there. Anyone who dies on the premises becomes a ghost, and this leads to something of a snowballing effect when the ghosts start killing people.
- In Being Human, George and Mitchell are able to rent a city centre house on the cheap because it's haunted by a girl called Annie. George, being a werewolf, and Mitchell, being a vampire, don't have a problem with this.
- The haunted, gothic Collinwood Mansion is featured in Dark Shadows.
- The British domestic comedy So Haunt Me deals with a suburban home haunted by its previous resident, a Jewish Mother. While the father is mostly annoyed by her presence, the other family members generally enjoy her company.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a couple of these in its time, such as in "Fear Itself" and "Where the Wild Things Are".
- Cordelia's apartment in Angel was also haunted. Except the ghost was friendly and generally treated like an invisible roommate (that Cordy called 'The Phantom Dennis').
- That's because she found out his name while doing research for the place. Mainly because it was originally haunted by Dennis' mother who was far less nice, and attempted to kill Cordelia or convince her to commit suicide, believing her to be Dennis' fiance, who she hated in life.
- And the reason behind the said haunting was that Dennis's mother walled him in a closet to keep him from moving out to live with the said fiance, and suffered a heart attack immediately afterwards.
- In the The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "The Eternity Trap", Sarah Jane, Rani and Clyde accompany Professor Rivers to investigate Ashen Hill Manor, supposedly one of the most haunted houses in Britain. As Clyde puts it, it's "Hogwarts, Tim Burton-style".
- The Stephen King-scripted miniseries Rose Red.
- The Monkees: Featured in "Monkee See, Monkee Die" and "Monstrous Monkee Mash".
- The Castle episode "Demons" has the Body of the Week be a ghost-hunter killed in a reputedly haunted mansion. Castle, naturally, eagerly buys into the possibility of demonic possession, while Beckett is a lot more skeptical. Although the case of the week is ultimately discovered to have a human hand behind it, it's still up in the air whether the house actually is haunted.
- Aaargh Manor is reputed to be the most haunted house in Bottom World, in The Legend Of Dick And Dom. The owner is faking it... but there is actually a ghost there as well.
- The X-Files, episode "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas". Mulder and Scully visit one on Christmas Eve to find the ghosts of two star-crossed lovers who formed a Suicide Pact.
Scully: Mulder, tell me you didn't call me out here on Christmas Eve to go ghost busting with you.
Mulder: Technically speaking, they're called apparitions.
- Doctor Who - "Blink" was described by Russell T Davies as the revival's first proper "haunted house" story (except with creepy alien statues instead of ghosts). "Hide" has a haunted house that no-one will go near except the local investigator, who, to Clara's bewilderment, went to the trouble of buying it.
- The Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories pilot concerns a haunted house that Tim, Eric, and Zach must spend the rest of their lives in for $1000 each that is particularly keen on tormenting Zach. It's not really haunted; it's Tim and Eric played a ridiculously convoluted prank on Zach.
- Diana Thornton's "Lover's Last Chance". The song starts by describing innocent childhood Halloween fun, but then< "All of them hush past the house on the corner/A darkened old mansion than never did sell/Even the grownups just whisper about her/Nobody knows how she died... or won't tell."
- The titular "Loa House" in King Diamond's song by the same title, from the Voodoo album.
- Genesis' 1983 song "Home by the Sea" is the tale of a robber who breaks into a house only to find that it's haunted.
- "The 13th Hour" (album) by Midnight Syndicate. The album's premise is the exploration of a haunted Victorian mansion once inhabited by the Haverghast family.
- Creature Feature's "House of Myth".
- Haunted House and its late-released sequel make it Older Than the NES.
- Final Fantasy VII has a Haunted House as the hotel at the Gold Saucer amusement park. The receptionist drops down from the gallows whenever you check in. Also, the Shinra Mansion, which has a bloody history in the game, and is filled with scrappy enemies when you reach it.
- Luigis Mansion is the story of Mario's hapless younger brother getting a free house... which he then has to clear of ghosts. Apparently, the whole thing was a ghostly creation, and it disappears when he's done. For some reason, the money in it wasn't, so he buys a new one. Which is presumably not haunted.
- In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, E. Gadd lives in one, albeit one inhabited by much more friendly ghosts than normal, due to the influence of the Dark Moon. When the Moon breaks, the ghosts are driven to mischief and malice and he is forced out. Luigi must go through 5 haunted houses throughout the game to restore the Dark Moon.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has a quest which involves buying a haunted house and clearing it of ghosts.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Dragonborn is asked by a Vigilant of Stendarr to investigate a house suspected of being used by Daedra worshippers. It turns out the disturbances are because Molag Bal's shrine has been desecrated by a cultist loyal to a rival Daedric Prince and suffice to say, the "King of Rape" is not someone to upset.
- There's several of these in Castlevania II Simons Quest.
- Might and Magic VII had one.
- A haunted house appears in the Neighborhood in Backyard Skateboarding.
- Ambridge Mansion takes place in one of these.
- In Annyseed, Uncle Tarkwin's mansion is known to be haunted. Perry Elliot, the ghost, frequently visits the library, and, (though he would like you to believe otherwise) Anny's bedroom.
- The Kesandru / Brie Meighsaton House in Sluggy Freelance.
- Stupidity in Magic has this. Twice, actually. Both times, the main cast is only called in to see why the house is haunted - they never get the house itself (they have their own place already, anyways). The first time, the ghosts were stuck in the house because of a curse, and most of them were happy to leave once the problem was fixed. The second time, the ghosts were haunting a house being rented out by a college - the rent was very reasonable, due to the haunting, and the college students only called for help because the ghosts had started possessing the occupants and were getting a bit violent; once things were fixed so that they wouldn't be in danger of getting hurt any more and they realized why the rent was so low, they were quite willing to let the ghosts stay - they preferred slightly-haunted accommodations that were within walking distance of the college to anything else they could've afforded.
- Goblin Hollow: well, Goblin Hollow.
- Lapse takes places almost singularly inside the protagonist's haunted home.
- This is the backbone of Amber: Journeys Beyond. Rule of Three on the ghosts, one from roughly 1910-1920, one from 1942, and a third from the late fifties.
- In Roza, they stumble on a haunted village.
- In Sinfest, Crimney trick-or-treats at one. It's good that Fuschia already has a crush on him.
- The Global Guardians PBEM Universe: Doctor Ka's New Orleans mansion is home to hundreds of ghosts. And some of them are angry. Very, very angry.
- The student republics in the new Forum/RPG, Grave Academy, akin to Hogwart's Houses, all have elements of this, the students being monsters probably help.
- The titular doom house in Doom House.
- You Have Become Your Avatar: The group investigated a mansion next to their hotel. Unfortunately, it was haunted by the Scissorman, who tried to kill them.
- The trio of heroes from Filmations Ghostbusters set up shop in what resembled a run-down haunted house—Ghost Command—that featured haunted appliances such as (most memorably) the wisecracking Ansabone. Similarly, the Big Bad Prime Evil had Hauntquarters, a cathedral-like building located in the Fifth Dimension.
- In South Park, Randy buys a Blockbuster Video store which has no customers because everyone now watches movies online. It is haunted like the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. After Randy sees a ghost dressed in a 1980s aerobics outfit ask for Turner & Hooch and disappear:
Randy: "Oh I get it! Video stores are so old they have ghosts in them! Okay I get it!" (pointing upwards) "But you're wrong!"
- In The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror segment, the Simpsons move into a haunted house, which does its best to make them leave... but they refuse, because it's their dream house. The segment ends with the house destroying itself rather than live with the Simpsons.
Lisa: You can't help but feel a little rejected.
- Subverted in another episode, where the family have to spend the night in a haunted house. Homer, foolishly, says it's perfectly safe since there's no such thing as ghosts. The spooky music rises and the door slams behind them, complete with a flash of lightning... Next morning, the sun is shining and it's beautiful out, and they've had a pleasant night's sleep and absolutely nothing's happened.
- In The Simpsons' sister show Futurama, Bender the robot inherits a castle and finds it's haunted by robot ghosts. The haunting is stopped when they find that it was caused by improperly shielded cables from the robot cemetery. Still it led to this great exchange:
Uncle: Come to us, Bender. You'll like being dead!
Bender: That's what they said about being alive.
- Who Killed Who? is about a detective trying to find a killer in a spooky house; he encounters ghosts, skeletons, and Santa Claus along the way.