"Once upon a time, there was a place that wasn't a place. It had many names: Avernus, Gehenna, Tartarus, Hades, Abaddon, Sheol... it was an inferno of pain and flame and ice, where every nightmare had come true long since. We'll call it Hell."
Hell's the place where bad people go and burn forever
when they die. Or Hell's the place where bad people go and freeze forever
when they die. Or, for the more nihilistically minded
, it's the pain of nonexistence
, where everyone goes when they die. It might be an evil world
where the forces of darkness rule everything
. Or it's an evil world where the forces of darkness are held prisoner. It might be the Outer Darkness, with wailing and gnashing of teeth
. Or it could be a dusty wasteland inhabited by dreary, half-bird people
. Sometimes it's Earth
, and even if it's not, Hell's often portrayed as eagerly looking for opportunities to expand
. Hell's almost certainly the opposite of Heaven
, and sometimes it's portrayed as being at war with Heaven, though the theological basis for this idea is a little shaky. Sometimes Hell is reserved only for the worst of the worst, but other times, it's ridiculously easy to wind up there
. Maybe Jean-Paul Sartre was right, and Hell is other people
. Or Stephen King
was right, and Hell is repetition. Whatever else it is, Hell's almost certainly ironic
Hell is many things for many religions and philosophies, but a few pop-cultural constants have emerged over time. Hell used to be considered a fiery, literally subterranean underworld
ruled by a horned devil
and, while this interpretation still lives on in cartoons and parodies, the trend for more recent treatments almost always involves placing Hell in Another Dimension
. While the exact details of Hell's environment vary depending on the source, it's always a place of suffering, meant to be inhospitable to human standards of comfort
. More often than not, fire and brimstone
imagery at least plays a part in the setting, though the image of Hell as a ruined, twisted version
of the real world has lately become popular as well. Often Dying Dream
stories in the horror genre end with the revelation that the character's actually in an Ironic Hell
The inhabitants of Hell are usually divided between human prisoners and their demonic captors
, though occasionally the demons are simply high-profile prisoners themselves, and sometimes they're the only inhabitants: modern fantasy stories and video games in particular tend to use Hell as a form of Sealed Evil in a Can
, while downplaying or outright rejecting the idea of it as a human afterlife. If there are human captives in Hell, they'll typically be functionally immortal, at least while they're in Hell: after all, eternal torment wouldn't be eternal if it could really kill you. Of course, if the people damned to Hell don't have any bodies
, then this might not be an issue... and it might make escaping from Hell that much easier for them
. But just as often, Hell is portrayed as single-occupant only, and the damned all have their own separate versions of Hell, disconnected from each other.
In modern horror and fantasy, Hell's often given portals
that can send living people back and forth between the two worlds. A portal usually serves as the vehicle for a living hero to stage a rescue
of a loved one from Hell, or for someone to break out out on their own
. The more recent idea of Hell as a parallel reality, though, gives such gateways a more mystical aspect: whereas classical ideas used famous caves as tunnels into the underworld, modern hellgates are usually invisible until opened by magic. Sometimes the magic itself is the gateway, and can be opened from anywhere, usually via a Tomeof Eldritch Lore
or an Artifact of Doom
The theological roots of Hell, and the modern pop-cultural image of it, come from a variety of sources, from Christian beliefs to Greek and Egyptian mythology to medieval literature. In more recent times, Asian conceptions of the afterlife, particularly the Chinese and Japanese ideas of Hell, have attained some prominence in the West, particularly through video games and manga/anime. The idea of a moral dichotomy in the afterlife, with different fates reserved for the virtuous and the wicked, goes back to Egyptian Mythology
. Making Heaven and Hell entirely separate places is a relatively recent idea from Judeo-Christianity. Many other ancient religions gave the same bland afterlife to everyone who died, save for those lucky few favored by the Powers That Be
The current name (meaning "hidden") comes from "Hel" the Norse
goddess and ruler of her same-named Underworld
, for the same confusing reasons that the English days of the week are a mix of Norse and Roman names. In Greek versions of the Christian Bible
it's even referred to as "Hades" from Classical Mythology
, with the Hebrew version being "Sheol". As the joke goes, this is explained by some faiths having so many sinners that they've had to export them to other religions.
Trying to separate the reality of Hell from its theme park version
is a hopeless cause. Not only is the reality of Hell debated, but what's realistic and what's not often depends on who's being asked. Many evangelical Christians believe that Hell is a literal, lake of fire filled with evil spirits. More liberal theologians often take the position that Hell is the willful separation of the soul from the light of God, and that any suffering beyond that is self-inflicted
. Perhaps for this reason, many serious stories about Hell that are set in the "real world
" won't even try to directly depict Hell, and rely more on what the characters who've been there have to say about it. Sometimes this lack of an onscreen Hell
is explained by saying that seeing it would drive a person mad
Stories that don't necessarily want to deal with the religious angle, but still want to use the basic idea of Hell for dramatic purposes, might use a thinly disguised "dimension of pain and suffering" instead. If it's a story with some science fiction elements, this'll often take the form of Hyperspace Is a Scary Place
See Fire and Brimstone Hell
, Ironic Hell
, Bloody Bowels of Hell
, Circles of Hell
, Self-Inflicted Hell
, To Hell and Back
, Planet Heck
, Like a Badass out of Hell
, The Legions of Hell
For Hells that aren't so bad
, see A Hell of a Time
. For gloomy and/or subterranean afterlives that have nothing to do with wickedness or eternal punishment,
see The Underworld
See also Heaven
and Fluffy Cloud Heaven
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Anime and Manga
- Hell Girl is mostly about the titular Punch Clock Villain and her crew sending people to hell in a variety of imaginative ways. The catch is that they do that in a mail-order magical hitman way and their customers will 100% surely also go to hell after their own death since that is the price for contacting the hell's correspondence. The story goes to great lengths to show the horrible implications of the job and throws many Stealth Insults at things that are the norm in Japanese society, which is highly unusual for anime.
- The Shadow Realm in the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh!, because death is too much for children to deal with, but an eternity of being Mind Raped in Another Dimension of torment is totally kid-friendly.
- Dragon Ball Z has Hell (or the Home for Infinite Losers in the English dubs). This is not depicted as torture (even has an amusement park), though if the dead villains like Frieza and Cell cause trouble, Pikkon will be sent to beat them up and lock them in prison for a while.
- In Dragonball GT, however, Frieza and Cell send Goku to a new area where there is torture, where their plan backfires.
- Berserk's cosmology is rather complex, but a lot of its realms would certainly seem hellish in the eyes of any mortal, particularly the Nexus, which is where the Band of the Hawk were transported following the activation of Griffith's Crimson Behelit. The actual Hell is the Abyss, where the souls of both people and demons go after death and where the Idea of Evil resides.
- In one of the early episodes/chapters of Bleach, a gateway to Hell is opened for a particularly evil hollow; it's said that only people who were unforgivably evil in their human lives go to Hell. Hell itself wasn't elaborated upon or mentioned again until the fourth movie, where it's shown to be a Dante's Inferno-ish like Multi-layered domain. The first level is a strange floating city-like structure with pathways, the second level is just a bunch of small islands and the third level is a stereotypical potrayal of Hell, complete with lava and brimstone.
- In YuYu Hakusho, the gateways to the various Hells are in a rather distant corner of the Spirit World. Apparently they differ in punishment factor, though at least one (the one Toguro chose for himself) is ten thousand years of brutal mutilation.
- In Digimon Season 2, the Digimon Emperor goes into the Dark Whirlpool or something like that and extracts data from Devimon, who was destroyed by Angemon in Season 1. While good Digimon are reborn whenever destroyed, it appears the evil Digimon go here.
- Hell is vaguely hinted at in the Season 1 episode "No Questions, Please", when Vademon tells Izzy that his curiosity makes him greedy and will have him sent to Hell ("A very unpleasant place", he says).
- In the wider Digimon mythos, we have the Dark Area, which is pretty much hell. Evil digimon are sentenced there instead of being reborn like most Digimon, where they then become Fallen Angel or demon digimon. This is also where the infamous Seven Great Demon Lords, who include several expies of Satan make their home.
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Shishio, his girlfriend, and one of their cronies end up in hell, which is depicted as a dark place full of skulls...which he aims to take over from Lord Enma himself.
- During the Duel Coaster event in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, V uses Spell and Trap cards based on the concept of Naraku, the Buddhist Hell. (He gets rid of them afterwards, however, focusing on a science-fiction themed deck.)
- Hell has been a popular subject for many painters, the most famous of all being Hieronymus Bosch who made some of the most memorable and creative images of the location ever.
- Pieter Bruegel the Elder portrayed Hell in "De Dulle Griet" ("Mad Meg"), where a giant woman invades Hell along with an army of housewives.
- Gustave Doré 's illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy are also famous.
- Marvel Comics often features an evil dimension called "Demonic Limbo" in its storylines. While technically not a part of the afterlife, its inhabitants are called demons, and it certainly looks the part. In Marvel's fictional history, Dante's Inferno was actually based on that dimension (and Dante's real adventures and battle against its ruler). The Stygian Deep, Mephisto's home realm, occasionally serves the same role, as did the dimension Nightcrawler teleports through - at least it did for one brief story arc.
- Along with the various death gods (such as Hela and Pluto), there are multiple "devils" in the Marvel Universe. These include Mephisto, Satannish and Marduk Kurios (the father of Daimon Hellstrom). Each of them has their own segment of Hell. Due to recent events, Hela is now renting space from Mephisto's realm.
- The DCU has a single Hell, although it is typically divided amongst a variety of warring rulers. The exception was for a brief time during the late '90s and early '00s, when the demon lord Neron seized total control. He was eventually deposed and demoted after making an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Heaven.
- Hell in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac is a seemingly ordinary city with a gigantic eye where the Sun should be, staring down at people all the time. This renders them obsessively paranoid, vain and violent, as each person thinks the eye's watching him alone and the smallest personal slight or accidental faux pas is rendered unbearable.
- Hell in the Johnnyverse evolved as Vasquez continued to make comics in it. While its original conception is heavily allegorical, when it comes up in Squee! it is pretty much classic fire and brimstone Hell. This is still played for laughs though, as another part of Squee's dinner with Devil and his antichrist son Pepito.
- The Hellblazer comic book, and even moreso its movie adaptation Constantine, revolves around a conflict between Heaven and Hell. Hell, in the movie version, is shown as a twisted version of reality that's filled with demons and swept up in a constant storm of Hellfire.
- In the comics Hell falls more in line with the DCU (or at least Vertigo) conception of Hell, even dealing with events from other comics (like Lucifer leaving, and the resulting power vacuum). It's much more of a Biblical Hell, with the fire and brimstone, desiccated wastelands, and a wide variety of bizarre and horrible demons finding unique and terrible ways to torture people. It seems to work on its own internal rules, however, which mostly serve to keep the demons in check against one another, and to a lesser extent against humans. Of course, after being flipped off by Constantine one to many times the devil (not Lucifer, but the Devil) starts breaking the rules.
- Spawn centers around Hell and its secret war with Heaven in the modern world. This version of Hell's definitely the fire and brimstone variety, with each level ruled by a different demon lord.
- "Hell Lost" tells the story of the inevitable Counter Revolution in Hell, as the fallen angels inevitably realize they not only got a raw deal, but that Hell, quite simply, sucks balls.
- Résurrection is said to be Hell in Requiem Chevalier Vampire
- Tintin: Near the end of Tintin and the Broken Ear, the two antagonists drown and are flown to Hell by grinning demons.
- Suske en Wiske: In "De Sprietatoom" the Mad Scientist Savantas dies and his spirit goes to Hell. They refuse to take him in, though.
- Nero: Nero has often gone to Hell, namely in the stories "De Hoed van Geeraard de Duivel", "De Paarse Futen", "De Terugkeer van Geeraard de Duivel" en "De Kolbak van How", though it always turns out to be All a Dream.
- Urbanus: Urbanus went there too a couple of times.
- Zander Cannon's graphic novel Heck uses Dante's classic nine-circled Hell as the setting for a Buddy Picture with a sinister twist.
- In The Lion King Adventures, the eternal darkness that bad animals get when they die is this. Even the villains are afraid of it.
- In Pony POV Series, Pony Hell is not only a Genius Loci, it's inside Havoc, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Mass Hysteria.
- In Sonic X: Dark Chaos, Hell is the Demon homeworld and official capitol of the Demon Empire. Once a temperate planet, it was long ago turned into a rocky ball of magma rivers and lava seas. Caronius, capitol city of the Demons, is built around its hollowed-out core.
- In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, Tartarus is The Smurfs' version of hell. However, in the story "Smurfing In Heaven", the Tartarus that Empath goes to is just as much a supernatural illusion as the Shining City Fluffy Cloud Heaven he was just in.
- What Dreams May Come features something of a Self-Inflicted Hell, as well as a self-created Heaven. After a journey that takes him through various sorts of twisted landscapes, the hero finds his wife, who died from suicide, living as an amnesiac in a ruined, monochrome version of their old house.
- As Above, So Below features characters descending into hell to face their own personal demons under the cartacombs of Paris. "Abandon all hope, ye who enter"
- Lucio Fulci's The Beyond has a city overwhelmed by the forces of Hell, and the heroes finding that the only way out is to go right through the hellgate. There, they find an endless, mist-shrouded plain of dust littered with fallen bodies, as the narrator repeats an earlier book passage: "and you shall face the sea of darkness, and all therein that may be explored". And then the movie ends.
- Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey has the heroes dying and, due to a mix-up during a seance, ending up in Hell. Disappointed that they were "totally lied to by our album covers" (it appears to be a series of floating rocks over a fiery abyss, with the damned sentenced to perpetual hard labor), they complain to Satan, who casts them into a personal Hell, with each one facing the embodiment of his deepest fear.
- The cult horror movie The Gate and its sequel deal with a gateway to Hell, a realm of imprisoned demons who want to reclaim the world. The first movie only shows an underground tunnel, although another dimension is implied, while its sequel briefly shows a blue twilight world of rocky spires. While the first movie gives the gate a physical location, the sequel shows that the right spell can open it anywhere.
- Dan Aykroyd's original idea for Ghostbusters III was the boys somehow ending up in a Hell-like dimension, explained as normally being hidden between the "frames" of the real world. He described it as being like New York City... during the worst traffic jam and the worst heat wave imaginable.
- Though we only catch a glimpse of it, Drag Me to Hell gives us a brief but horrific sight of what appears to be a Fire and Brimstone Hell.
- Hellbound: Hellraiser II depicts a gothic-looking, otherworldly area of Hell (or, at least, a very Hell-like dimension that promises unimaginable sensations) called the Labyrinth, where the people who solve a cursed puzzle box end up. Escape is possible, and the first two movies focus more on human villains who've returned to the real world and need blood to restore their bodies than on the cenobites themselves.
- Hellraiser: Inferno also directly depicts Hell, although in a variation. It adapts itself to the person who is being punished. Almost the entire film, which is set in Los Angeles, actually took place in Joseph's own personal hell as he was being tortured mentally instead of physically by the Cenobites. He's stuck chasing the personification of his own dark side who goes around murdering all of Joseph's loved ones for all eternity with the reminder of what he once was before falling into hedonism.
- In Event Horizon, the ships first attempt at Faster-Than-Light Travel goes horribly wrong, and apparently hyperspace really is a scary place, because the original crew killed one another in really gruesome ways. According to a later character, whose sanity has slipped a little thanks to the Genius Loci of the ship, where it went was worse than hell and that "hell is only a word."
- The main character of Scanner Cop finds himself temporarily in Hell, when he uses his Psychic Powers to follow the mind of a dying woman beyond the border of life and death.
- Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn plays this straight with an interesting interpretation of Hell.
- In this series, it is a vast place called Nazyra and within this otherworldly super galaxy are several worlds created and maintained by the dark souls who venture there.
- The Nine Dark Worlds of Nazyra are connected to the souls of Earth. Like its counterpart, Averya, it exists on a higher dimensional plane that overlaps the lower dimensions rather than existing apart from them.
- Dante Alighieri's Inferno is the origin of many pop-culture ideas about Hell, such as the Circles of Hell and the ironic punishments for each category of sinners. Unfortunately, it's not as much a work of theology as it is hard sci-fi for the 14th century, and borrowed quite a bit from...
- Homer's Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid, which introduced the River Styx, Cerberus, the descent with a guide into the underworld, and various ironic punishments for the sinners. Other Greek and Roman myths, such Orpheus descending into the Underworld, Persephone's abduction by Hades, and Hercules capturing Cerberus also helped create many of the To Hell and Back trope's elements.
- Paradise Lost also sets most of its story in Hell, particularly in the demon capital Pandemonium, as Lucifer and the rest of the demons plot their next move against God. It's a much more passive setting than in the Divine Comedy, and human sinners are never seen (since, at this point, Adam and Eve are the only humans around).
- The picture caption comes (more or less) from Sartre's book No Exit (Huis Clos). The spirits of three deceased people are stuck, apparently forever, in a single room. The original quote is "l'enfer, c'est les autres" ("Hell is other people").
- Will Leicester's Hell's Bells series is (mostly) set in Hell, and seems to take the plot of Paradise Lost as something approaching fact for its backstory. The skies may be red, but aside from that Hell and Pandemonium come across almost exactly like 19-century California and 21st-century Los Angeles respectively, with Pandemonium being a modern metropolis and the Wilds surrounding it fairly barren and lawless.
- In Shaman of the Undead hells (plural) are lands on the other side of the mirror that are ruled by powerful demons. Only demons and people who died possessed go there after death, and sufficiently skilled mirror walker can destroy the whole thing if she knows how.
- C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce portrays Hell as a seemingly endless twilight city (actually an infinitesimally small world created by the minds of its inhabitants), upon which night is imperceptibly sinking. The night represents the final judgement and the arrival of the demons: until then, anyone can leave Hell if they wish, but most of the people there are too proud, angry or despairing to believe in or accept Heaven's offer.
- The Bible, of course, is the Trope Codifier for the Western concept of Hell as the wicked's everlasting punishment, but it's surprisingly short on details. Revelation describes a lake of fire that those who aren't listed in the Book of Life are cast, which may or may not be the same thing as Hell, while Jesus describes "the outer darkness" as a place for the wicked. The main words used in the New Testament for describing it are Hades, Tartarus and Gehenna, the first two coming from Greek mythology while the latter's a Hebrew reference to the burning of garbage and the bodies of condemned criminals.
- Norse Mythology brings us the word Hell from "Hel", the goddess of the dead, though it doesn't exactly have a matching concept; Niflheim, the cold abode of the dead that she ruled, was The Nothing After Death. Norse people believed in different possible destinies for the Afterlife including rebirth and a holy mountain where, according to The Other Wiki the members of the Norse clans would lead lives similar to the ones they had lived in the world of the living. Some psychic people could look into the mountain and what they saw was not intimidating, but instead it was a scene with a warm hearth, drinking and talking. The idea that only warriors avoided Hell is a misconception.
- Hell of Dora Wilk Series seems like a fairly pleasant place when we see it for for the first time, with nice houses and lovely old town, but that's just residential area. Apart from that, it seems to be mostly barren wasteland with local overlords' residencies here and there. There's also Samael's domain where souls are recorded and tortured, and old battlefield where angelic and demonic blood never soaked into the ground.
- In Eric, the Fire and Brimstone Hell is of the typical variety, with lakes of fire, terrible demons, and souls in torment. The thing that the demons hadn't realized, though, is that, lacking physical bodies, the whole lakes of fire and iron maidens business doesn't actually hurt the victims. The newest demon king attempts to turn the whole thing on its head by instituting new torture in the form of extreme boredom and pointlessness.
- Buddhist texts call Hell Naraka, which can be divided into two categories: the icy Hell and the fiery Hell. The cold one has no demons, but the victims must spend an extremely long time there, alone and naked. The worst of these Hells, Mahapadma, is so cold that the victim's body cracks into pieces. The fiery Hells are much more active, with Yama's attendants torturing victims to death in various ways. The victims quickly revive, only to suffer the same fate again and again, for a very long (though not endless) time. The worst of the fiery Hells (and the lowest of all the hells), Avici, is reserved for those who commit one or more of the Five Grave Offenses (murder of one's father, murder of one's mother, murder of a Arhat or enlightened being, shedding the blood of a Buddha, and causing a schism within the Sangha, the community of Buddhist monks and nuns), and life and suffering in this Naraka lasts the longest out of all the hells put together.
- One of the Kilrathi hells is called Nagrast, a name given to an ice world orbiting a brown dwarf where survivors from a battle at the end of the war have gathered in an Enemy Mine situation, in False Colors
- In I, Lucifer one of the few things Lucifer is very vague and evasive on is the exact nature of hell, whether it's a horrific place or actually not so bad. It's very difficult to assess if he's hiding something or just messing with the reader.
- In his chilling short story "Other People" Neil Gaiman portrays Hell as a single room, the walls covered with instruments of torture, where a single soul enters, and the demon goes through each instrument of torture over and over again, until the pain of each becomes bearable. Then they start picking through the soul's mind, making them relive and reexperience every lie and misdeed, every mistake, all their doubt and guilt. And then... well, you'll have to read it.
- In the Culture novel Surface Detail, Hell, or the appropriate equivalent is a very real possibility. It should be noted that that the Culture Universe is based on incredibly advanced technology, such as recording mindstates (which are often analogised as 'souls'). A variety of afterlifes can be created in the form of flawless computer simulations. Whilst the vast majority are benign or pleasant, some civilisations deliberately create a Hell simulation to send their dead to. The more horrifying thing about this is that most of the Hell builders think that it's a good idea. Needless to say, the running of Hell programs is one of the very few things the Culture actively dislikes and makes a point of making this known.
- In Warrior Cats, there's the Place of No Stars (also called the Dark Forest), a forest covered in fungus, lit only with a Sickly Green Glow, with sludgy rivers, and no prey. Each evil cat is meant to walk the Dark Forest alone, but they haven't exactly been doing that lately.
- Played interestingly in the Riftwar Cycle. The cosmology of that series is layered, with at least fifteen "circles"- seven heavens, the mortal plane, and seven hells (there may be more, but anything above the highest heaven or below the lowest hell is completely incomprehensible to human minds). The catch is that which parts are "heaven" or "hell" are subjective, since everyone sees their own circle as the default, so to angels the mortal plane is actually part of Hell, while to the demons its part of Heaven. Each circle down is progressively nastier- the circle just below the mortal plane is very similar to it, albeit far more brutal, while the fifth circle down is the most classic hell, and is home to The Legions of Hell. The sixth and seventh hells are little mentioned, but are said to be the home of Eldritch Abominations, while the third and fourth were consumed by those same abominations, who are currently working on the third and influencing the second- and we're next on the menu.
- The german e-novel "Magicalogen" has a hell near the end of the third part. It has twenty-nine levels which are very different (a sea, a jungle, a bakery, a moldy cellar, a labyrinth of public toilets...) Each level is ruled by another Lord of Hell and whenever a new Lord is appointed, it grows a new level. The dead here are bodiless souls but some Lords give them bodies made of snow, blood or chocolate. There are several living servants of the Lords but no demons (which were earlier established as a completely mundane and mortal species of reptiles). Oh, and it's located in a big rock that is Bigger on the Inside. Other hells are mentioned to exist. As you can probably tell from this, the novel isn't completely serious.
- The Brothers Grimm: Several fairy tales have the protagonists go to Hell and meet Satan there. Often they try to make a Deal with the Devil too.
- Star Trek: Voyager shows us the Klingon idea of Hell in the episode "Barge of the Dead". At first appearing as a barge sailing through a sea of blood, when it arrives at the gates of Hell, B'lanna finds that it's actually an Ironic Hell, as her version is Voyager itself, lit dim and red, with the crew at their most callous and mocking, on a journey that will never end. But the episode's ending leaves open the possibility that it was All Just a Dream.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation also leaves open the 'dimension of pain and suffering' aspect with stories that involve realms or areas of subspace that are inhabited by creatures with wholly malevolent intentions toward humanity (episode 6x05, "Schisms")
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys occasionally featured the Underworld in its stories, and it usually doesn't appear as anything more than an expansive, misty cavern, or the windowless palace of Hades. Hercules does, however, get to visit his dead family in the Elysian Fields.
- In the third season of Lexx, the crew finds themselves orbiting two planets called Fire and Water. The planet Water, as the name suggests, is almost entirely water, While Fire is a waterless desert. As it turns out, Water and Fire are the Lexxverse's equivalents of Heaven and Hell, respectively
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has countless "hell dimensions" as well as "heavenly dimensions", though sometimes Hell and Heaven are both referred to as proper nouns. Angel was lost in a hell dimension for several centuries and, though we never see what it's like, he arrives back on Earth almost completely insane. One episode shows us a different hell dimension, which includes at least a giant factory where captives are used as slaves until they're too old, and then thrown back to Earth to die on the streets of Los Angeles.
- The series finale did finally show what lay beyond the Hellmouth that lies hidden beneath Sunnydale, and which many of the show's villains had sought to end the world by opening. However, we still see nothing more than a huge cavern at the very entrance of the hellmouth, filled with Turok-han. No comment was made about where the giant tentacle monster, the first to come out on previous openings of the hellmouth, went (it may have been killed during "The Zeppo," since we never learn the details of that fight).
- The spinoff show Angel continued exploring the idea of hell dimensions. Angel's own son Conner is eventually lost as an infant to "the Quor'Tath, darkest of the dark dimensions". Although that world's also not seen onscreen, Conner reappears after a few months as a very powerful, and very traumatized and angry, demon-slaying teenager.
- Hell, this time in the proper-noun sense, would later turn up in the episode "Hell Bound", as a century-old ghost has remained free by sending other souls to Hell in his place. Although the vortex to Hell is seen, the characters and audience never find out what lies beyond it.
- The oft-mentioned "Home Office" dimension of Wolfram & Hart is heavily implied to be one of the worst of the hell dimensions. When Angel becomes a Death Seeker and tries to invade it, he gets his own Heroic Blue Screen of Death. Home office is overrun with humans, seeing that it's Earth.
- The underworld in Legend of the Seeker resembles the traditional depiction of Hell. Everybody seems to go there when dying no matter how they act during their life time.
- Supernatural generally depicts Hell as a place where demons live and where people go when they make deals with demons and are later killed by hell hounds. It is glimpsed once at the end of Season 3, where Dean is killed by Lilith and the Hell Hounds and is in a yellow and black cloudy area with several chains hooked into him. It is later mentioned that a month is equal to several years, and that Alastair tortures people there until they agree to torture other souls.
- And from the glimpses we've seen of Lucifer's cage, there's also a definite fire element to Hell on this show.
- And in a late Season 6 episode, we see what's happened to Hell ever since Crowley became the new King - he turned it into an endless waiting line. And when you finally reach the end, it just starts over.
Crowley: "The problem with the old way was, a lot of the people who came here were masochists anyway. A lot of 'thank you sir, may I have another spike up the jacksie?' But just look at them. No-one likes waiting in line."
- Most of Old Harry's Game takes place in Hell, with Satan dishing out cruel punishments to those involved, and trying to keep the place under control.
- Dungeons & Dragons has an infinity of evil planes in the Abyss, most of them based around mythological underworlds and demons. The dead don't necessarily go there, but they are home to some very, very nasty evil deities who often have plans for expanding their reach to the mortal world.
- The Nine Hells of Baator, which paid homage to Dante's version. It's also home of all types of nasty, but with a different slant along Alignment lines—the devils of Baator want to rule The Multiverse, whereas the demons of the Abyss want to destroy it.
- In fact, D&D has several planes of ultimate evil, collectively known as the Lower Planes. From Lawful Evil through Neutral Evil and to Chaotic Evil, they are: the Infernal Battlefield of Acheron, the Nine Hells of Baator (or just "Hell"), the Bleak Eternity of Gehenna, the Gray Waste of Hades, the Tarterian Depths of Carceri (aka "Tartarus"), the Infinite Layers of the Abyss, and the Windswept Depths of Pandemonium.
- The D20 game Infernum uses Hell as its setting and as the default adventuring locale. This is because you're encouraged to play as a demon instead of a human.
- The New World of Darkness sourcebook "Inferno" details Hell, which in this setting appears to be a personification of human evil, and grants the opportunity for unpleasant spirits, the ghosts of evil people, and goetic demons, escaped Anthropomorphic Personifications of dark human urges, to become corrupting Dominions. Just looking at it can damage your Karma Meter - it's not an evil act, but you are looking at the heart of all sin in this or any reality, and it's nearly impossible for it not to erode your moral standards.
- The Supernal Realm of Pandemonium is generally hellish, albeit of the self inflicted variety, the rationale being that when faced with a place of pure thought, people will generally force themselves to confront their worst aspects.
- Subverted in Demon: The Descent - while demons believe in Hell, they aren't tied to the metaphysical realm of the Inferno. Rather, "Hell" is an idealized state that differs from demon to demon, but typically embodies a world where the God-Machine has no sway over them.
- In the Old World of Darkness, there was the Abyss from Demon The Fallen. Here, Hell was the absence of God... and everything else, in fact. And since the titular demons had just been tossed in by God and had a bunch of anger issues, they quickly turned on one another and made it into the classical version.
- The oWoD also had the Thousand Hells from Kindred of the East. The spirit realms that became the Hells were originally intended to be for the punishment and correction of Asian mortal souls. Then their rulers, the Yama Kings, discovered that they could draw strength from pain, suffering and corruption, and were more than happy to embrace this new source of power, diving headlong into corruption themselves. In the present day, correction has no place in the Hells; it's all about torment and suffering.
- Warhammer 40,000 calls it "the Warp".
- Malfeas in Exalted...the dumping ground for the Primordials who didn't end up minced. By and large, mortal souls don't end up here; it's not intended for them.
- In KULT, we have Inferno as classic hell. Nowadays, most souls end up in Purgatory instead. Catch is, Astaroth no longer gives a damn about the place and lets his subordinates manage Inferno as they please, so you can get punished for a sin you never committed at all. And with fewer souls coming to Inferno, they will give you some extra For the Lulz. Just goes to show just what kind of a Crapsack World we're dealing with.
- Crypt Worlds has a very deadpan Hell. The main way to get there is by falling through a green fog hole in the ground below a sign saying "GO TO HELL". When you go down there, there is a room of cultists trying to awaken a god, and through the only door is a waiting room where the receptionist tells you that all you have to do is wait 30 seconds before the next door opens and you can return to the land of the living. But there is still Nightmare Fuel, because on one of the tables you can see an NPC lying down. The NPC's name is "You".
- The Doom games all involve teleportation experiments in a future space setting that have accidentally opened portals to Hell. Something of a Hyperspace Is a Scary Place plot, except the games make it clear that what the scientists call hyperspace actually is Hell, which is mostly portrayed with seas of lava, brimstone mountains and a burning red sky.
- The Diablo games use Hell and an attempt to stop a demonic invasion in their stories: the first game features the catacombs of Tristram's cathedral eventually warping into a Hellish landscape, while the sequel involves a journey straight into Hell itself, a landscape of burnt, smoldering plains of ash. The third game ups the ante by having you stave off an assault by Diablo's demons upon the High Heavens by journeying to Hell and destroying the gates Diablo is using to invade before battling your way to the Crystal Arch to stop Diablo from destroying it and plunging everything into darkness forever.
- The story of Fear Effect revolves around the dealings between the demons of the Chinese Hell and the crime syndicates of a near-future Hong Kong.
- Painkiller involves a modern man's Heaven-sent mission to assassinate the demon lords of Hell. After an extensive battle through Purgatory, Hell itself turns out to be a series of still, deserted scenes depicting war throughout the ages.
- Hellgate: London takes place in a near-future England where the gate to Hell has opened and the modern world has long since fallen to the demons. The Earth itself is gradually succumbing to "the Burn", a reverse-terraforming process that's creating a new Hell on Earth.
- Devil May Cry likes to visit Hell for its last few levels in a given game.
- If you dig far enough in Dwarf Fortress, you'll eventually encounter a vast sea of magma, filled with bizarre, vicious creatures and twisted fauna. That's not hell. Hell is lower. It's much, much, worse than anything else in Dwarf Fortress.
- In Super Paper Mario, the area of the afterlife (known as aftergame) that dead characters end up in first is The Underwhere. Queen Jaydes (a reference to Hades) will send them to The Overthere (Heaven) if they are good, and if they are evil, will send them below to "suffer for eternity among the game-overed". This fate is clearly Hell. Shaydes sent there become Skellobits. One wonders how many of the Skellobits are any of Mario's old enemies, like Tatanga and Cackletta and the Shroobs...
- The Elder Scrolls have the Oblivion Realms, every Daedric Prince rules one of their own. Although not all Oblivion Realms are "evil" or "bad", the one the player visits in Oblivion (by going through a very ominous Oblivion Gate) is the one belonging to the Daedric Prince of Destruction, Mehrunes Dagon. Complete with burning and scourged landscape, random Eldritch Abominations, carnivorous plants, lava lakes, mutilated corpses hanging around, intimidating towers, fortresses with names like Meat Grinder and a blood-red sky.
- By contrast, Sheogorath's realm appears relatively benign - on the surface. Until you realize that everyone there is some flavor of insane and an in-game book reveals that the water, food and air are all contaminated with mind-altering spores.
- In-universe sources point to several of the other known Realms as being hellish — Periyte's is described in terms similar to what Mehrunes Dagon's Realm was shown to be, Vaermina's Realm is literally a place of nightmares, Malacath's is a place of bitter air filled with "anguish, betrayal, and broken promises like ash" and Molag Bal's is a darker image of Nirn, filled with charnel houses and vast slave pens.
- Oddly enough, Hell does appear in a Final Fantasy game (Final Fantasy II, to be exact). And you end up making the Emperor the ''ruler'' of Hell. Oh, Crap doesn't even begin to describe it.
- Hell in Shadow Man is a vast zombie-ridden wasteland with sprawling rivers of blood where everyone goes when they die.
- The webcomic Ctrl-Alt-Del has proposed a specific hierarchy of Hell specifically related to the cardinal sins of gaming: http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20090928
- Baldur's Gate 2 and the Throne of Bhaal expansion feature some parts of the Nine Hells, including your own pocket plane and Bhaal's Throne of Blood, which is a series of organic, bony islands in a void of darkness, surrounding the central island, where the 'throne' is.
- It's possible that the lower level of the Ancient Cistern in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is hell. It's full of zombies, bones, poisoned water, it's like the underworld in every way. Link even CLIMBS OUT OF THIS AREA BY A ROPE at one point, which has been used a few times to show people escaping hell.
- And they do establish a devil in Majora's Mask, whom Sharp sells his soul to.
- Guild Wars has the "Realm of torment", home to a god who revolted, and his followers, who play a major role in the Nightfall campaign. This version is a collection of creepy realms, but not fire and brimstone.
- Asura's Wrath, having Hinduism and Buddhist tones for the games mythology, has Naraka, depected a endless realm of golden clouds with bottomless abyss and towers made out of stone faces. Asura climbs up a tower in here multiple times throughout the game after dying many times.
- Dokapon Kingdom has Heck (the game is silly) as the last area the adventurers go into. The first section of the dungeon is the typical fiery wasteland, and the heroes have to fight their clones. The second section is more of a dark and evil castle, though.
- In Sonic Adventure, the second segment of Red Mountain descends into a volcano. There are cells in the walls with rather surreal looking prisoners dancing to the beat of the level's song. The level is also filled with skulls that breathe fire, giant spiders, and tomb stones. An in game mission refers to this area a 'burning hell' so its pretty much explicitly supposed to be a hell analogue.
- The Silent Hill games often feature characters having to face their own personal hell. Particularly notable in SilentHill2 where protagonist James goes down, deeper and deeper into the earth.
- In Bayonetta, Inferno is this.
- South Park lampooned the concepts of Heaven and Hell mercilessly, with a likeable Satan and an underworld that often doesn't seem particularly bad, especially given since virtually nobody except Mormons go to Heaven.
- Futurama gives us Robot Hell, a subterranean, industrial hell for, well, robots. It's located beneath New Jersey, and only applies to robots who join the Church of Robotology and then reject it. In addition to being a mechanized version of the fire and brimstone variety, each level features a different, ironic punishment for Bender's sins.
- The Looney Tunes short Satan's Waitin' has Sylvester the Cat repeatedly descending to Hell and then returning to Earth as his nine lives are used up in pursuit of Tweety Bird.
- Devil's Feud Cake has Yosemite Sam going to Hell, but being offered a reprieve if he can bring Bugs Bunny down to take his place. Utilizing clips from earlier cartoons, Sam is depicted repeatedly trying and failing in this endeavor; in the end, the Devil offers him one more chance, but Sam declares, "I'm a-stayin'!"
- Tom and Jerry also used Hell at least once, in a short involving Tom threatened with Hell unless he can get a pardon for his sins signed by Jerry. The Devil in this case is supporting character Spike the Dog, with horns and red skin, and Hell is a fiery cavern. The episode also features the escalator form of a Stairway to Heaven, and ends with Tom greatly relieved to find that it was All Just a Dream.
- Animaniacs had Yakko, Wakko and Dot arriving in the Underworld (the fire and brimstone variety) and generally tormenting Satan with their own unique brand of insanity. Eventually Yakko freezes Hell over, and he and his siblings are kicked out, only to find themselves in Heaven.
- The Simpsons: In the "Devil and Homer Simpson" segment of the Halloween Episode "Treehouse of Horror IV", the Devil - in the persona of Ned Flanders - sends Homer to Hell after he sells his soul for a donut. Homer is immediately dispatched to the Ironic Punishment Division of Hell Labs, where he's strapped to a machine that force-feeds him "all the donuts in the world". (The punishment fails, however, as Homer greedily devours each and every one of said donuts with no complaints.). Later Homer is put to trial and judged by a Jury of the Damned, consisting of various celebrities who lead an evil life and now spent eternity in Hell.
- In "Treehouse of Horror XI", during the segment "G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad" Homer is sent to Hell again, where apparently John Wayne resides too.
- Pinky and the Brain had an episode where Pinky sells his soul to the devil and gets snatched away into a traditional Fire and Brimstone Hell. Similarly to the Simpsons example, the devil tries various torture methods on Pinky but they all backfire because he just thinks they're fun amusement park rides.
- The main setting of Jimmy Two-Shoes is either Hell or some reasonable equivalent. In the original pitch, it was explicitly Hell, with Jimmy sent their by accident after dying, but in the finished product it's vague, but heavily implied. It varies between a Fire and Brimstone Hell and A Hell of a Time.
- In one episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the three-headed dog Cerberus from Greek mythology briefly leaves his guarding place at the entryway to Tartarus, where all sorts of horrible creatures are said to dwell, and shows up in Ponyville. Luckily, Fluttershy and Twilight help get him back to his post and no lasting harm is done, but the fact that pony Hell was more-or-less introduced remains a tad unnerving.
- Introduced and dismissed quickly as a gag, no less. However, it came back in a big way in the season four finale: something did get out when Cerberus was away, and it was being held there for a reason. Tirek has been gathering his power and getting stronger since his imprisonment, is only now ready to show us exactly what in the land of pretty magic ponies is so nasty it gets sent to such a place.
- Adventure Time features the fire-and-brimstone-with-screams-of-the-suffering version of Hell, called the Nightosphere. It's filled with demons, and it's said to be sustained via Chaotic Evil. It's apparently not a dimension for the deceased, however.
- The urban legend "Well to Hell", documented on Snopes, tells the story a Russian geological team whose equipment accidentally drilled all the way into a subterranean Hell, revealing a scorching darkness filled with the screams of the damned. While there's a slight element of truth, in that a Russian geological team did discover something interesting during a dig, that something apparently wasn't the underworld.
- What they did was drill a hole as far as possible into the earth's crust, before it became too difficult due to the heat. They found interesting geological anomalies, but no Fire and Brimstone Hell.
- There are a couple of other places named "Hell" in real life:
- Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, named because of the high violence and crime rates which, until the 1990's, were found there.
- As you can imagine, many places on earth have been called hell in a more tongue-in-cheek manner. New Jersey is actually really nice...