A Hellgate (also sometimes called a Hellmouth) is a connection — doorway, portal
, interdimensional weak spot
, Negative Space Wedgie
, whatever — between the normal world and someplace bad
. Whether it explicitly links to Hell
or just to Another Dimension
, the primary plot function of the Hellgate to allow legions of scary, evil
weirdness to invade our world
A Hellgate can be a permanent fixture of the setting, in which case it will function as a Magnetic Plot Device
, putting the "adventure" in the City of Adventure
and providing a new monster for the protagonists to fight every week
Other times, the Hellgate itself is the driving force of the plot (or maybe just a MacGuffin
): the protagonists seek to close the gate, or to prevent it from being opened in the first place, or even to destroy it. This type of Hellgate tends to be more dangerous, and may even cause The End of the World as We Know It
if left unchecked.
Not to be confused with a part of New York City
near the Bronx.
Compare with Portal Network
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Anime and Manga
Films — Animated
- In The Princess and the Frog, the gateway between Earth and the world of the voodoo spirits is inside the mouth of a large, sentient voodoo mask.
Films — Live-Action
- In Hellboy, Rasputin teams up with Nazi occultists for Project Ragna Rok, an attempt to open a portal to The Void and summon the Ogdru Jahad to destroy the world. Hellboy is all that comes through before the portal gets destroyed. 60 years later, Rasputin comes back to make Hellboy reopen the portal.
- The penthouse apartment of the Love Interest in Ghostbusters.
- Lucio Fulci did three films that deal with the concept of "The Seven Gates of Hell": City of the Living Dead/The Gates of Hell, The Beyond / Seven Doors of Death, and The House by the Cemetery. The first one involves a gateway located in New England town of Dunwich, which resurrects the dead within the town which is opened when an evil priest hangs himself within the confines of a cemetery. The second deals with another of the Seven Gates of Hell, in an abandoned hotel in New Orleans which was opened when a local warlock trying to seal the doorway is killed by a lynch mob of dumb locals, turning their would-be protector into the head zombie in the process. The third involves the home of a mad scientist/ghoul named Doctor Jacob Freudstein as one of the Gates of Hell.
- The 1980s B-movie The Gate.
- Poltergeist has the portal in the children's bedroom closet.
- A hellgate resides in crematory oven of a funeral parlor in Night of the Demons.
- The eponymous spaceship in Event Horizon.
- In the 1977's horror film The Sentinel, the heroine moves to a remote building in New York that turns out to be an entrance to Hell.
- In The Amityville Horror the eponymous house has one in the basement that gets bigger and nastier in every sequel.
- Pacific Rim features one at the bottom of the sea where the Kaiju come through. As time progresses the portal becomes bigger and more stable allowing larger, greater numbers and a higher frequency of Kaiju attacks; the film's plot is the attempt to destroy the portal.
- The boltholes in Sherrilyn Kenyon's The Dark Hunters series are temporary spots where Daimons can slip back from the human world to Kalosis, the Atlantean Hell.
- The Dark One's prison in The Wheel of Time seems to be located around Shayol Ghul. More accurately, it is all over the world (hence the cuendillar seals being found everywhere), but it is weakest around Shayol Ghul, creating the Blight by allowing the Dark One's power to seep through.
- Eventually, Myrdraal drive the Trollocs through the Ways, destroying the hearts of several nations right before the Last Battle. In an unexpected display of Genre Savvy, the Forces of Good don't allow the Trollocs to dictate their field of battle. They ignore the invaders except to evacuate civilians.
- The gate of the old gods in Gil's All Fright Diner.
- In Eve Forward's Villains by Necessity, the goal of the main characters is to open one of these in order to save the world.
- In Discworld, the overuse of sourcery attracts the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions, and eventually tears open a portal to said Dimensions. Completely appropriately to the setting, Hell is of course somewhere else entirely.
- Dante Aligheri's Divine Comedy subverts this trope; it's a hellgate, but it's literally the gate to Hell; just an opening with an ominous poem scrawled into it.
- The tunnels in The Demonata.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, there's a crate that hell hounds come out of. In Prospero in Hell, when they decided on To Hell and Back, they have to crawl through it and a tunnel behind to get to the rather more traditional gate — which Dante got the inscription on, almost right even.
- The story of Spellbent kicks off when the protagonist participates in a simple magical ritual that is only supposed to call down some rain, but which somehow opens a portal to a hell instead.
- Dungeon Number One and the Bottomless Whirlpool in Septimus Heap are used in Darke as gateways for exiting and entering, respectively, the Darke Halls.
- In the Manly Wade Wellman short story 'Chorazin' a man finds a gate to Hell or someplace equally nasty in the side of a mountain. It's filled with piles of gold and precious jewels and some very unpleasant inhabitants. Wellman must have liked the idea, as he also used it in a Silver John story, though that one ended with John defeating its master, the demon Molech.
- The Dresden Files: Inverted. The Outer Gates were constructed not to let Outsiders in, or even to keep them out. Instead, they prevent them from getting in unnoticed, so that they can be turned back.
- In the fourteenth book, Cold Days, the Outer Gates are portrayed more like the Great Wall of China with the endless hordes of Outsiders on one side and the forces of the winter fae on the other. The latter fight non-stop to keep the former from crossing.
- Ackerman's field in Stephen King's short story N., which keeps back a terrifying monster called Cthun.
- What the Five Gatekeepers are there to guard and - when necessary - create in The Power of Five.
- The Hellmouth in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Averted in Angel at one point. Quartoth doesn't have a portal because it's such a bad place. The opening made to it was a tear in reality. The gate to Pylea may count, though.
- The Cardiff Rift in Torchwood.
- The anomalies in Primeval.
- The Thirdspace gate from Babylon 5.
- Supernatural has had two:
- In the second season finale, the Devil's Gate is opened (using the "kill anything" Colt) and an army of demons and John Winchester escape from Hell.
- In the fifth season finale, rings taken from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are used to create a portal to Hell through which Sam (possessed by Lucifer) and his little brother Adam (possessed by Michael) fall, trapping the two Archangels and ending the immediate threat of the Apocalypse). Appropriately enough, this occurs in a cemetery in Stull, Kansas, near the boys' hometown of Lawrence and, according to real life urban legend, home of a hellgate of its own (see Real Life, below).
- Power Rangers has had a few of these over the years - In Lightspeed Rescue the demons' master plan is to open one to free their brethren from the barren "Shadow World". In Ninja Storm, the entire season is a Xanatos Gambit by Lothor, who sent his monsters to their deaths week after week to fulfill a prophecy whereby the "Abyss of Evil" would burst open from the pressure of all the evil spirits contained within it. In Mystic Force's backstory, Claire's mother sealed away The Master's legions the behind the one they used to attack the surface.
- Super Sentai is no stranger to this trope. In Mahou Sentai Magiranger the forces of N Ma (the gate's creator who made so his army could attack the sufrace) had to be sealed from both the outside AND the inside. The parts relating to this were mostly the same in Magiranger and Mystic Force, but unlike Clare's mother, Lunagel didn't have to Cast from Hit Points with the sealing spell, and so didn't turn to dust immediately afterwards. Branken attempts to unseal the gate so he can attack the surface (Wolzard not having the power, or interest, so this the only he can leave), but after his death it's barely mentioned because all the monsters can freely travel to and from without it or any outside help.
- The Troop has Dimensional Mites, small creatures who resemble balls of light. Different from most other Hell Gates, in that they are actually LIVING Creatures who form together to make a portal to and from the Monster Dimension. The Troop keeps some of them in small capsules, which can be opened to make a portal anytime, and anywhere they please. The capsules are used to make a portal and send the monsters back to the Monster Dimension (though they can also be used to bring monsters over, as seen in episode 14)
- The Collector: Temporary portals to Hell appear to collect the Devil's debts. Only his clients can see or hear them.
- In Norse Mythology, the gate to Hel is called "Helgrindi" which translates to "Hellgate".
- The animated band Gorillaz have a personal Hell Gate in their basement.
- Boondox makes mention of these in a few of his songs.
- In Warhammer 40,000, the Eye of Terror is the largest (though there are others, such as the Maelstrom) Warp-realspace overlay. It's a light-years wide Negative Space Wedgie through which The Legions of Hell periodically attempt to destroy the galaxy.
- And it may be the largest in fiction. Based on the apparant size in the "Galactic Maps" shown in earlier versions of 40k, the Eye of Terror is a few THOUSAND light years wide.
- Chaos-worshippers' plots generally revolve around creating localized ones (say, about the size of a solar system).
- Warhammer Fantasy has the collapsed Warp Gates at the poles, through which Chaos enters the world.
- The entire game of Rifts is built around countless eponymous gates opening up as a response to the world's mana rising after the Third World War, ripping open the fabric of time and space. Not as many open up as frequently as when the whole sequence started, but there are some stable gates - such as the entirety of the St Louis Arch which is a permanent portal to various hell-like dimensions.
- Avernian Gates in Geist The Sin Eaters function as a portal to the Underworld. The gates take their name from Avernus (mentioned below under Real Life).
- Simiarly, there are Hedge Gates in Changeling: The Lost, which lead to... the Hedge. Changelings, hobs, and the Gentry can pass through them easily, but even humans can fall through certain gates by using Keys (such as being the seventh son of a seventh son, menstruating on a new moon, or singing a nursery rhyme while turning three times widdershins) or being lured in through an apparent manifestation of their Vice (e.g.., a Lustful man lured in by the illusion of a woman bathing).
- There was a Dark Thaumaturgical ritual in Vampire: The Masquerade that could open a gate into Hell for one day. Step one: Wash an entire wall with the blood of children. (Well, that's really step two. Step one is "Make damn sure none of the other supernaturals are waiting to drag you into the daylight for even thinking about doing this".)
- The supplement Inferno gives details on opening gates to Hell. Looking into an open gate is damaging to the sanity and morality, to say nothing of what might get out - or try to pull you in.
- Both Malifaux and Hell Dorado subvert this; it's humanity invading Malifaux/hell, instead of the other way around. Particularly glaring in Malifaux where the first time the breach was opened the Neverborn wiped the tresspassers, and closed the portal while throwing one body trough it before it fully closed. The body had one word written on it: Ours.
- Exalted has a few of these, some leading to the Underworld, some to Malfeas. To get to the Underworld, you enter a shadowland and wait until nightfall. Voila - now you're in the Underworld! Too bad the borders go back up at sunrise. There are sixteen secret ways into Malfeas from Creation, one of which is as simple as wearing green while riding through an area of desolation and ending up on the sands of Cecelyne, the Endless Desert (and yes, it's suggested people do this accidentally).
- The Hellgates in Devil May Cry.
- The Dark Portal in the Warcraft series was forcibly bored between Azeroth and Draenor, but since then it proved nigh-impossible to close (physical structure of the portal can destroyed as it's just a stone structure, destroying the rift connecting the worlds is another story), and also paved the way for the Burning Legion (and others) to eventually enter Azeroth.
- Other, more literal examples exist, one of the most significant being the one created by the Highborne during the War of Ancients using the Well of Eternity. While it never got strong enough to summon Sargeras (because it destroyed before that was made possible), it did summon a whole lot of other demons.
- In the original Diablo, reality is warped the deeper you go, until you finally enter what seems to be Hell. However, it's not the actual plane of Hell, but reality that has been warped by Diablo's presence and transformed into a place of nightmares.
- Apparently, whatever horrors were committed in the temple of the Zakarum under Kurast in Diablo II weakened the fabric of reality enough that it was easier to create a portal into Hell from there. This may have been because Mephisto didn't want to reveal himself to the world yet, though.
- In the Lord of Destruction expansion, the plateus are littered with portals to Hell. Those were likely forcibly created during Baal's ascent up the mountain, though, rather than being weak spots that always existed. Although maybe not — Harrogath was always a very important location, cosmogically speaking.
- In Diablo III, the Demon Lord Azmodan invades the mortal realm via a portal in the crater of Arreat left by the climax of the previous game. The hero must enter and destroy the Sin Hearts that continually spawn Azmodan's minions. In the final Act, Diablo opens similar portals within Heaven itself, and the hero must again shut these down from the inside.
- Hellgate: London is about, well, hellgates in London.
- The gates to Oblivion in, er, Oblivion. Specifically, gates to Mehrunes Dagon (the Daedric Prince of Destruction)'s plane of Oblivion, the Deadlands. In order to close each gate, one must march through the gate into Oblivion, battle your way through Dagon's demons, find the Sigil Stone powering the gate and grab the sucker.
- Subverted in the Shivering Isles expansion, where a gate opens to said location but nothing comes out of it, save for one complete loony (like all the rest in there) that gets killed by a guard anyway. The gate's purpose instead is to attract an adventurer capable of assisting the Daedric Prince Sheogorath defend his realm. Or rather, to attract an adventurer capable of replacing him so that his original self Jyggalag can escape the Shivering Isles.
- This is pointed out as being really odd, as someone with experience about Daedric summoning notes that opening portals to Oblivion that lasts this long shouldn't be possible. The reason for that is solved in-game in a more permanent way, less relying on there being an Emperor, though we only got some implying about why it only became an issue this time, and not all the other times in the past that no Emperor was there to light the Dragonfires. Sheogorath manages to explain away his ridiculously stable gate by saying it's not really an Oblivion gate to Tamriel, more a Tamriellic gate to Oblivion. The distinction is subtle, but significant.
- The teleporters from Doom and slipgates from Quake I; both series are by the same developer and feature similar gameplay.
- The chaos gate, the final destination of most players in Ancient Domains of Mystery.
- The chaos gate in Mega Man Battle Network 5. It's a Bonus Dungeon, but you have the option of opening it. This act floods the Internet with evil and powers up the viruses.
- In a sense, Exor the giant sword in Super Mario RPG.
- The Hall of Transference, which leads into Promyvion in Final Fantasy XI.
- Tartarus in Persona 3 is a borderline example; it's not an actual portal (more of a giant tower), but fulfills all the other traits of the trope by being a spawning and nesting ground for the Shadows.
- The Fatal Frame series is based around ritual sacrifices designed to keep a number of these closed.
- The Door of Komalie from the original Guild Wars. The Lich Lord opens it to let the demonic Titans enter Tyria from their imprisonment in the Foundry of Failed Creations.
- Ninja Gaiden II on the Xbox 360 has a Hellgate at the peak of Mt. Fuji.
- Ashtar's whole plan in Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos for the NES is to open one of these and bring about an age of "Eternal Darkness."
- Age of Mythology grants the Greeks the ability to summon an Underworld Passage from one point of the map to another, averting the trope... but the Titans expansion gives the Atlanteans the power of creating a small Tartarean Gate, allowing dog-like demons to continually respawn until the gate is destroyed.
- The main campaigns of both game and expansion center around attempts to open much larger Tartarean Gates in order to release Kronos and his... ummm... "Kronies".
- And in normal gameplay of the expansion, each civilization can summon a Titan or suitable mythological replacement from such a gate to help crush enemies and so forth. AOM really likes this trope.
- La Pucelle features portals into the Dark World as the randomly generated Bonus Dungeons.
- Big Whoop from the Monkey Island series is revealed to be this the third game, one with a power supply that will eventually run out.
- Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow's castle was built on "The Mine of Judgement" which leads directly into "The Abyss".
- An Inversion, sort of, in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The Ing themselves don't use the portals to Dark Aether, as they can't survive on Aether in their normal forms; they appear as mist that possesses creatures instead. Some of the portals appeared spontaneously, and some were created by the Luminoth so that they (and eventually Samus) could return the favor.
- Mass Effect: The characters are actually pretty Genre Savvy about the mass relays and refuse to open them until both entrances are discovered normally, for fear that something horrible and unknown might be waiting on the other side. The galaxy has learned this from bitter experience, as some thousand years before the game starts, when they blindly opened a mass relay, they got invaded by Rachni. In fact, the First Contact War started because humans were just opening mass relays whenever they found one, and this caught the turians' attention. There is indeed something out there - the Reapers. The cornerstone of the Reapers' plan was the fact that the Citadel itself, basically the centre of galactic civilisation, contains a mass relay. Every few millennia, species reach the Citadel, then Reapers invade and somehow breed using said species. Rinse and repeat.
- The portals in Half-Life behave exactly like this, allowing the Combine to come through and enslave Earth.
- The portals didn't allow the Combine to arrive, at least initially - the resulting portal storm, however, grabbed their attention. They then piggybacked in on the storm and used for their invasion. Not the intended result, but then the entire Resonance Cascade scenario never was to begin with.
- In Minecraft, you can actually build obsidian portals connected to the Nether, which, despite being a terrifying experience full of huge fireball-shooting ghasts and savage zombie-pigmen that will scare the living daylights out of the most jaded gamer, is actually an efficient means of transport. Every step in the Nether translates to eight in the normal world, so one can travel very quickly from island to island, allowing the creation of a large, interconnected empire. The Nether also contains unique resources like glowstone, a mineral used to craft the brightest lights available, and netherrack, which burns indefinitely without being used up (although not in furnaces; that would be a Game Breaker).
- Touhou has so many of these, it seems like people almost trip over them on the way to the store. Residents of one dimension of the Multiverse or another seemed to invade Gensokyo on an almost annual basis. It doesn't help that Yukari Yakumo can create portals to any dimension she wants at her whim.
- Devil Survivor has this in the endings where you don't run away. The whole freaking sky opens up into a demonic vortex and reality starts to collapse as the Bels fight for the title of demon king.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has an entire Negative Space Wedgie, the Schwartzwelt, open up in Antarctica. Inside, it's a maze of intertwining dimensions and horrors beyond time, releasing demons outside the field and into the mortal world. And the place is growing...
- Later boss Orcus is literally a Hell Gate.
- Shin Megami Tensei II has the idiotic Mad Scientist Mekata trying to create one of these to gain a limitless source of demonic servants. He screws the process by not using the correct items and is swiftly killed for his trouble. Later, The Hero repeats the procedure with the proper corrections and successfully establishes a link between Earth and the higher dimensions.
- The Pest Control minigame in RuneScape has a team of players cooperate to destroy interdimensional portals that are vomiting out deadly alien invaders.
- "Hell's Maw" is the name of both E1M8 and Episode 2 of Heretic. Closing it is the focus of the non-Shareware episodes.
- The Fade of Dragon Age isn't the local afterlife, but it's populated by spirits that reflect virtues and sins. The second category are driven to possess mortals, particularly mages, and can come through more easily where the barrier between worlds is weaker or "torn". The plot of the third game is kicked off by a rift bigger than anything we've seen before, allowing a demonic invasion into a world already on the brink of collapse.
- The Portal building in Cookie Clicker is stated to be a portal to the Cookieverse but is implied to be one of these. It costs 1,666,666 cookies to build the first one, and produces 6666 CpS. When the grandmapocalypse reaches its late stages, your Portals power up Grandmas.
- In the old "Cookie Clicker Classic" version, the image for the portal in the game window resembles an Oblivion gate.
- Dawn of War II's Retribution expansion has this in one of the mission where the Chaos Space Marines working under Kyras construct a port to the warp that they brag about every chance they get. Makes it all the more fun to destroy it.
- The portals left behind by Monoculus in Team Fortress 2 take the player to a ghostly Loot Island, the underworld section of the Halloween event map Eyeaduct.
- Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell: You get to Hell by summoning a fiery red portal in the air, and then jumping into it.
- Marx in Kirby Super Star splits in half and reveals one inside his face as his most powerful attack. Should Kirby get caught by the attack, he's briefly sucked into what can best be described as a dimension made of pain before being spat back out. You know, for kids!
- A portal to hell briefly opened up in Scary Go Round's Tackleford, and was only shut down by some quick legal beagling on the part of Shelley. At a cost.
- In Deviant Universe, Anarchy uses one to try and bring Omega back to Earth.
- In Sluggy Freelance, an alternative Riff's Dimensional Flux Agitator left a pinhole between the Dimension of Pain and the "Dimension of Lame", eventually allowing the demons from the former to invade the latter. There was also a similar pinhole between the main world and the Dimension of Sham-Pain, but the Dimension of Sham-Pain was such a silly alternative version of the Dimension of Pain that never amounted to anything much, particularly when those demons couldn't enter the pinhole.
- In Torg's comic Gunman Stan McKurt vs. The Gates of the City of the Damned, the apparent antagonist wants to open the titular gates, "the very gates of Hell itself," and Stan McKurt means to stop her. In the end she dies without a chance to explain herself, but those who can read (which does not include McKurt) find out that she only wanted to open the gates because they all are in the City of the Damned at the moment, so it would mean getting out.
- The Salvation War does this literally, with portals crossing dimensions are the only way for anyone to move between Heaven, Earth, or Hell. This means that the only way for either side in the massive three way war to attack any of the others is through the portal, but a portal big enough to move an army through is impossible to close. This really fucks the daemons over when the humans capture the Hellgate in Iraq. Smaller portals are commonly used for rescues or surgical strikes.
- At Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, there's a hellgate in the school sewers. Some genius thought it would be a great place to dump all the school sewage into. Stuff leaks in around the edges of the seal. Bad stuff.
- The ghost zone portal in Danny Phantom.
- Oddly enough, one seems to appear in the The Smurfs Christmas special, in the form of the stranger's travelling spell when he moves to try to steal away the two children.
- In the fourth season of Teen Titans, it turns out Raven herself is one. The prophecy states that "The gem was born of evil's fire, the gem shall be his portal" and she is the gem.
- Referenced in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "It's About Time", when Cerberus ends up in Ponyville after wandering away from his post guarding the entrance to Tartarus. Amusingly, Twilight Sparkle's trip to return Cerberus to Tartarus only takes a single day—and is so uneventful that it happens entirely off-screen. However, this becomes a plot point later when it's revealed that during this time Lord Tirek escaped from his prison in Tartarus during this time.
- The 'Seven Gates to Hell' is an old legend in Real Life occultism. Among the places nominated for the list is Patrick's Pit in Ireland; Mount Hekla in Iceland; an otherwise-unnamed valley in Italy; a town or place called Chorazin, listed under Literature above; the Vale of Hinnom just outside of Jerusalem, the entire city of Newark, New Jersey and an old Evangelical Church cemetery in Stull, Kansas.
- Darvaza has a 250 foot wide sink hole above a natural gas deposit that was set on fire so the methane wouldn't cause harm, and has appropriately gained the name "The Door to Hell".
- Avernus, a crater lake near Cumae, Italy, was believed to be the gateway to the Underworld by the Romans, mainly because the toxic fumes that arose from the lake would cause birds to fall dead around it.
- The infamous "Well to Hell" hoax had some people believing that a hell gate had been inadvertently created by a (real) drilling project in Siberia.