"Bad Horse! Bad Horse!These horses not only cause nightmares, they sometimes are night mares. Want to emphasize how badass a hero or villain is? Simple, give them a truly monstrous looking horse! Standard fare include menacing wings, red eyes, horns, fangs, and split hooves (sometimes claws). Horses that are nothing but skeletons are also popular choices for The Undead to ride, and sometimes the horse can appear either to be Wreathed in Flames or leave burning hoofprints. Usually either truly untameable or ridden by villainous characters, but sometimes subverted into being tamed by The Hero. As these days horses are kept mostly for recreation and are often seen as something like oversized pets for little girls, the idea of scary and dangerous horses might seem a bit silly, as they lack any claws or fangs. But make no mistake, an angry or panicked horse can be truly frightening and easily kill a man with its hooves. Many examples were inspired by the horse in the painting ''The Nightmare'' by Henry Fuseli, which in turn was based on the "Mare", a goblin or Horny Devil that sat on a sleeper's chest and gave them bad dreams. Often goes hand in hand with Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as well as The Wild Hunt. A Sub-Trope of Cool Horse. A Sister Trope to Hellhound. Compare Moody Mount, where a horse is difficult to ride and tame for mundane reasons. Contrast Unicorn (which are sacred) and White Stallion (which generally portray an image of heroism). No relation at all to Hellish Copter, nor to Undead Horse Trope.
Bad Horse! Bad Horse!
He rides across the nation, the thoroughbred of sin!"
Bad Horse! Bad Horse!
He rides across the nation, the thoroughbred of sin!"
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- From Berserk:
- The Skull Knight's horse, though much like its rider, it isn't evil
- Later in the manga, a horse that Guts used to kidnap supporting character Farnese gets possessed by one of the demons after him, which wants to "mount" her (yes, in that way). Unlike many of its peers, the demon-horse comes fully equipped, because that's just the kind of manga Berserk is. She is only saved when Guts ends up flashbacking to Casca's rape during the Eclipse at that very moment, serving to set him off in a big way; with very messy results for the once-helpful steed.
- The party later runs into a kelpie, which is a weird frog-horse hybrid.
- The horses in the anime short A Country Doctor look pretty damn creepy.
- When Hellsing's Alucard pulls out his Soul Slave Army it includes horses. Big, undead horses made of shadows and blood.
- Entei from InuYasha, an horse yōkai that obeys only the most powerful of yōkai.
- Part II of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure features a chariot race where the horses have been transformed into vampires with Super Speed.
- Killbeat the lascivious and sadistic bicorn from Legendz. Unusual in that she never serves as a villain's mount, instead she's a major villain herself!
- Magic Knight Rayearth:
- Alcyone, the Magic Knights' first opponent, rides around on one of these.
- Lantis in Rayearth II also has the ability to summon one as part of his Dark Is Not Evil appearance.
- A lot of playing with this goes on in Reign: The Conqueror, an Ćon Flux-style animated story loosely based on Alexander the Great. Alexander's horse is a demonic horse, and at least half the main cast if not more expect Alexander to go the Dark Messiah route, which would make the horse appropriate, but Alexander ultimately rejects that route. Alexander's horse, Bucephalus, really was an unstable horse, according to Plutarch. This was probably the first time he was described as a murderous horse.
- D's horse in Vampire Hunter D in at least one incarnation is actually some sort of cyborg, but can appear pretty monstrous. A memorable caption in Anime Insider had someone ask D what was wrong with it, and all he could say was "I don't know." According to the light novels his horse is a perfectly ordinary cyborg horse that can be bought from any livery stable in the Frontier, but D's influence will make it gallop faster and longer than any other, at least until its inevitable demise from the wildlife or from D riding it too hard.
- Nightmare, one of Doctor Strange's recurring foes, rides a gaunt black unicorn named Dreamstalker.
- Caleb, the 19th century ex-slave turned Ghost Rider, has one of these as his ride, as do other Riders of roughly the same era. As befits the Ghost Riders, these horses are usually on fire.
- A Marvel villain called Dreadknight who first fought Iron Man early in the hero's career (and has been infrequently seen since, opposing the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and Captain Britain) has a bat-winged flying horse called Hell Horse, which was sired via genetic engineering.
- Conan the Barbarian once had to fight the Hell-Hordes of Chaos, led by Prince Gaynor who rode steeds that inexplicably had beaks. And melted in the rain.
- The '60s comic book of Ripley's Believe It or Not True Ghost Stories explored a few scattered legends of giantnote black horses, in a story entitled "The Devil's Steed."
- Appropriately enough, Tarra rides a fire horse in Swordquest: Fireworld.
- My Little Pony: the movie.
- It's revealed during Hope for the Heartless that when Avalina first met her future Cool Horse, he was in great grief due to his previous rider's death and projected his grief as fury, refusing to allow anyone to tame or approach him. Known as Malwolaeth and Diafol Ceffyl ("Death" and "Devil Horse" in Welsh), he was believed by everyone but Avalina to be a lost cause and intended to be put down, but against everyone's expectations, Avalina got through to him, earning his Undying Loyalty.
- One parody of Robot Unicorn Attack, with Heavy Metal music and background symbolics and one of these as the character.
Films — Animated
- In the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence of Disney's Fantasia, the evil spirits summoned by The Devil Chernabog ride various horrific sorts of supernatural steeds, from airborne goats and boars to horned skeleton horses. One of these horses makes a reappearance in The Black Cauldron.
- Gaston's horse from Beauty and the Beast.
- Jafar can be seen riding on one of these at the very beginning of Aladdin.
- Snowball from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: The horse is especially... noticeable... in the Disney version of Irving's short story.
- In Mulan, the horses ridden by the Huns (particularly Shan-Yu's) have demonic red eyes, thick black bodies, and, of all things, FANGS.
- The nightmares created by Pitch Black in Rise of the Guardians take the shape of black demonic horses.
Films — Live-Action
- The mounts of the Nazgûl in The Lord of the Rings look pretty monstrous (and later they upgrade to riding vulture/dragon "fell beasts") and have been specifically bred to withstand the Nazgûl's presence.
- The Caretaker/old Ghost Rider in the 2006 Ghost Rider movie, as per the comic, transforms his horse from an ordinary steed to a burning horse skeleton.
- The Scarecrow briefly rides around on a police horse in Batman Begins. Due to the hallucinogens covering the area, the horse (and The Scarecrow) appears to be demonic from the point of view of a young boy.
- The Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow has a horse like this.
- The spiderweb horse in The Brothers Grimm.
- Ilmarinen the blacksmith from the Finnish film Sampo (better known as MST3K's The Day the Earth Froze) forges a horse so his buddy can plow an evil witch's field full of snakes. It comes out of the flames a bright and, err, rather fiery red. Yes, this film is based on a folktale, why do you ask?
- In the Tombs Of The Blind Dead horror series, the titular undead monks ride equally undead horses.
- The undead gunslinger villain of House II: The Second Story rides a stop-motion skeleton horse to the climactic showdown.
- The Puca from Behind the Waterfall might qualify, even though he doesn't burst into flames.
- Avatar has the pa'li and the ikran, and if you're too badass to be satisfied with those there's the toruk and palulukan.
- Odin rode a rare heroic example of one in Thor. His horse, Slepnir, is a giant black horse with eight legs. Considering it was shown inside of a pillar of exploding light, it invoked this trope quite a bit.
- The Dutch horror movie Sint has a horse that doesn't look too hellish at first sight, more like a bit of a zombie horse, but it definitely has hellish powers, and runs across the rooftops.
- In Dragon Bones, Ward's father owns a very fierce stallion, who throws him off one day, causing his death. Ward's uncle believes the horse is the monster from hell that has come to destroy the house of Hurog (there's a curse on the family), and recommends to put it to death. Ward ... decides to keep the horse and rename it "Pansy". It turns out it's a normal, though Cool Horse
- The Thestrals in Harry Potter as semi-examples, since they look like skeletal crosses between pegasi and dragons, only those who've seen death up close can see them, and to everyone else they're invisible. However, they're actually quite gentle and end up significantly aiding the main characters.
- The baby thestral in the movie is Ugly Cute.
- Spoofed a number of times in Discworld. Death tried to use a demonic horse, but his skeletal horse kept falling apart and his flaming horse kept setting fire to the stables. He eventually settled with the very un-Demonic pale horse Binky. The new Death in Reaper Man plays it straight, though, with a skeletal horse.
- Also played straight with Boris from Going Postal. Though he wasn't anything supernatural, it was 10 pounds of angry in a 5 pound bag. Definitely the type of horse you'd describe as "hellish."
- The unicorn from Lords and Ladies seemed pretty because of its glamour, but if you looked closely (as Granny Weatherwax would tell you to) you would realise the fact that it was a large, angry horse with a huge horn. The "horses" ridden by the elves, meanwhile, are carnivores. We aren't told what sort of meat they prefer...
- Subverted in Good Omens, where the actual Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse trade in the traditional horses for hogs. Motorcycles, that is.
- Anor (fangs, claws, eats meat) and the Horse with the Twisted Horn from Mary Stanton's The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West — fittingly enough, since these are the horse-world's equivalent of the Devil.
- Susan Cooper novel Silver on the Tree. Will and Bran are menaced by a terrifying skeletal horse.
- The horse in the Edgar Allan Poe short story "Metzengerstein" qualifies.
- The titular pony in the French fairy tale The Goblin Pony kidnaps children who offer to ride it and brings them to the seashore to drown them. Such a fate befalls Old Peggy's grandchildren when they decide to ride the pony on Halloween.
- The Hrulgin (singular: Hrulga) of David Eddings' Belgariad universe definitely fall under this. They have claws and fangs, eat meat rather than grass, are intelligent but utterly insane, and travel in herds. Oh, and they're also evil. Enough so that even the team's designated horse-empath reluctantly had to give up on taming one. He did consider catching one of the foals and crossbreeding it with a normal horse, but abandoned the plan on realizing you don't want a carnivorous horse in a kingdom based on cattle drives. Oh yeah, and they're all black, but that almost goes without saying...
- He's got what amounts to telepathy where horses are concerned. The hrulgin are similar enough to horses that it almost works, but different enough from horses it makes him nauseous to try (the hrulgin are amused by this).
- Interesting variation in the Old Kingdom trilogy — the skeletal, fiery horse being ridden by Hedge actually commits suicide by leaping into a river when Hedge is knocked off, because becoming a Hellish Horse put it in so much pain.
- Karsa Orlong from Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen sets out into the Jhag Odhan to get himself a Jhag horse, a gigantic breed the Jaghut cultivated to be carnivorous and especially aggressive. He names his steed Havok, after his father's late destrier.
- The Dresden Files: Summer Knight has Harry making a voyage into Faerie and encountering a unicorn. But since this is the Winter quarter of Faerie, the unicorn has scales and a gigantic corkscrew on its head.
- In The Riftwar Cycle, the Dark Elf leader Murmandamus rides a horse covered in red scales, whose mane and tail are living flame. Naturally, its eyes glow red too.
- In a Shout-Out to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Welkin Weasels features the dreaded manless horsehead, the hovering head of a riderless horse which flies around eating people.
- Spellsinger's M'nemaxa is a monster in the shape of a winged horse made up of suns, with dragonfly eyes.
- In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, rathorns (pronounced rath-orn, rather than rat-horn) are carnivorous armored unicorns matching many of these tropes, being fanged, double-horned (nose and forehead), red-eyed, and armored with ivory-like plates on head, neck, chest and forelegs. The armor plates continue to grow as long as the rathorn is alive, so the really old ones are also in constant pain and likely to smother in their own armor. They are notorious man-killers with really bad tempers, and are generally some combination of black and white, from all-black to all-white or various combinations.
- Quest For A Kelpie by Frances Mary Hendry has a Scottish girl seeking out a Kelpie to ride to grant a wish (see below to see why she didn't do research on that one).
- In "The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention", Dorothy L. Sayers describes how Lord Peter Wimsey encounters a mysterious, silent "death-coach" drawn by noiseless, headless horses. Of course, Lord Peter had had a few...
- It should perhaps be noted that in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving does not describe the Headless Horseman's "goblin horse" as being anything other than "a black horse of powerful frame," though it does have a tendency to vanish in a "flash of fire and brimstone."
- Roger Zelazny character Dilvish, the Damned spent two hundred years unjustly condemned to Hell. When he came back, he rode a fire-breathing, talking horse made of black steel and with cloven hooves. It also turned out to be capable of assuming human form. The "horse" was the demon who helped Dilvish escape Hell ... or maybe not.
- In The Lord of the Rings, the Mouth of Sauron rides a huge hideous horse, with a face like a skull, and flames burning in its eye sockets.
- In the Forgotten Realms Drizzt novels by R.A. Salvatore, Jarlaxle has an obsidian figurine which he can use to summon a nightmare from the lower planes. Later on, he gives another figurine to his dwarf companion Arthogate, allowing him to conjure a demonic, fiery war pig hellbeast to serve as his mount. It should go without saying that this makes him the envy of every other height-deprived character in the series.
- The Laundry Files novella Equoid: Equoids are large, carnivorous, sterile offspring of a different kind of Unicorn. Yes, you can ride them, if you don't mind your saddle having a roll cage and protective mesh to keep them from eating you. They're said to be the origins of such legends as kelpies, Baba Yaga's herd, the mares of Dionysus and the spawn of Shub-Niggurath.
- In Sheep's Clothing, the vampire Russeau uses vaguely demonic horses to pull his coach, because normal horses freak out at the presence of the supernatural.
- In the sequel, Hungry as a Wolf, Wolf Cowrie has taken possession of one of these horses and named it Lucifer.
- The Moon of Gomrath sees Susan, a novice white witch in all but name, petting an insistent pony in a field. She wonders why it is so keen on her getting on and riding it, but eleven-year-old female instincts take over. She realises as it gallops over a cliff into a flooded quarry, and its eyes turn a blazing demonic red, that maybe it might have been wiser not to give into temptation.note . In the sequel Boneland, Susan's presumed death is apparently down to her riding a horse into a lake at night, falling off, and drowning. The same demonic entity again?
- Horses appear rather hellish in the Bannon And Clare series as it is, as they are often turned into a Magitek cyborg instead of being eliminated by steam vehicles. Near the end, Bannon, a sorceress, combines the bits of dead horse cyborgs which were destroyed to prevent her following into a big monster horse made of corpse parts and metal scraps, much larger than a normal horse, which flies. It falls apart at dawn, as her powers work best at night; but by then she is close enough to the goal. Except that she's about 20 feet in the air.
- Tamora Pierce's Tortall universe has the Hurroks, bat-winged horses with fangs and claws. "Hurrok" is said to be a slurring of "horse-hawk."
- The Not-Horses from Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom look the part, being metallic and having glowing eyes. But they're fairly amiable and make for great mounts given that they are magical constructs. Even better, the not-horse Arthur rides is called Skwidge.
Live Action TV
- Mahou Sentai Magiranger (and its American adaptation, Power Rangers Mystic Force), has Barikion (Catastros), the black horse ridden by the dark knight Wolzard (Koragg). A normal horse at normal size, but can become Humongous Mecha-ish with an Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever spell (much as the Rangers themselves that year, instead of the usual machines.) There is also a good counterpart: Unigolon (Brightstar), a white unicorn ridden by the Red Ranger.
- He's mass-produced: A villain from later in the series has a chariot pulled by two of the mecha-horsies. The whole thing actually rides up from a pit in the ground that he creates.
- In the famous ballad "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", a Cowboy sees a herd of Hellish cattle as well as damned souls of cowboys on Hellish Horses telling him to "change his ways" if he doesn't want to share their fate.
- The Nightmare, or rather "Nacht--mar" in At Night It Comes (naturally) by Lost in Oblivion -
Breath of the thunder. Hooves of flame.
Down in the darkness you answer no name...
- Voltaire's song "Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children".
- The WWI German march song "Der Tod im Flandern (Death at Flanders)" begins as:
Der Tod reitet auf einem kohlenschwarzen Rappen,
Er hat eine undurchsichtige Kappen.
(The Death rides with a coal black steed: he has an intransparent black cloak)
- There's a whole lot of hellish horses on the cover◊ of Sufjan Stevens's A Sun Came!
- Sleipnir from Norse Mythology, one of the oldest examples, had eight legs and other monstrous features, as well as a pretty sick origin. Despite this, though, it was a relatively gentle and well-behaved horse. Meanwhile, there's also Hrímfaxi, the black horse of night itself, and Skinfaxi, Árvakr and Alsviðr, the flaming steeds of day and the sun.
- In Icelandic folklore, draugar can appear as horses. A draugr is a dangerous and powerful undead that can change form when tormenting the living, and one of their forms is that of a grey horse with a broken back, but no ears or tail.
- The Fairy Raed, also known as The Wild Hunt, has appeared in various forms in European mythology. Generally, the horses being ridden were huge and black, sometimes with demonic features, and together with their riders, who were either the damned or Fae, and hellhounds would hunt the living (or the dying, or the recently dead, depending on who you asked) and drive them to hell. Just seeing the Raed was bad luck, foretelling strife or plague. Depending on the time period and location, the leader of the Raed was either a lost soul or deity. Odin has been associated with the Wild Hunt.
- The wild hunt has also appeared in numerous works over the years, including poetry, fantasy novels, and videogames.
- Also appears in Celtic Mythology with the kelpie, or water-horse, a shapeshifting monster which more often took the form a horse and inhabited bodies of water such as lochs (in fact the original tales of the Loch Ness Monster described it as a kelpie). These monsters would often disguise themselves as fine ponies or horses and stand near the water's edge. Once a person mounted the water-horse, its skin would become inescapably sticky and it would plunge into the deepest part of the water, drowning the unfortunate victim, who was then torn apart and eaten (apart from the liver, which would float ashore).
- Depending on the versions, it could turn into an attractive man/woman to make luring people into the water easier.
- Similarily, Swedish folklore has the Bäckahäst, or Brook Horse, an otherworldly beautiful, but predatory, pale horse that instilled a nigh-irresistable urge in all children who saw it to ride it. For every child that got up on the horse's back, its spine would lengthen so that there always was more room for more riders, and every child that got up on it could also never get off again. Finally, the Brook Horse would leap into a river or a brook and drown all of its riders. It was often believed that the Brook Horse was an alternative form of the Neck, a fiddle-playing spirit that would lure young women close to it with its music and then drown them, and some legends describe the Brook Horse as a pale horse with arms and hands, walking on its hindlegs.
- Older Than Feudalism: The Eighth Task of Hercules was to steal the Mares of Diomedes, who had regularly fed them human meat. Some accounts say they could also breathe fire from their nostrils. At the end, Hercules himself killed Diomedes and fed him to his Mares. In some versions of the myth, the Mares became tame for the rest of their lives after devouring their evil master. Others have them being released into the forests of Argos and killed by bears, wolves, and lions sent by Zeus himself.
- The Celtic Puca (or Pooka) can play this trope straight, or it can be more benevolent, Depending on the Writer.
- In Brazilian folklore, a woman who fornicates with a priest turns into a Mula-sem-Cabeça (Headless Mule). It's a dreadful black mule that has no head, but somehow, manages to spew fire from its non-existent nose. It also has iron hoofs that make a horrible noise when the mule gallops. The transformed woman has to ride through seven parishes each night until she returns to the original parish where she sinned, or someone stabs her with a needle.
- In Greek Mythology the sun god Helios has a chariot pulled by fiery horses — in case you missed that detail, their names, Aethon, Aeos, Pyrois, and Phlegon, will remind you, as they are Greek words and expressions relating to fire and light. Other sun gods of other Indo-European religions share the sun-chariot motif, but much on the steeds isn't specified, an exception being Surya, whose horse is seven headed.
- The Four Horsemen of The Bible.
- The Nuckelavee of Orkney folklore was an evil, skinless horse with yellow veins and black blood, often merged with an equally grotesque human rider so that the two were one being. Nuckelavee would spread illness to crops, horses, and humans with its poisoned breath. The only way to escape it was to cross fresh water, which it refused to approach.
- In a popular legend from Italy, a sinner King is picked up by a fiendish-looking black mare who takes him to a ride across the whole peninsula, ending with the steed jumping with her rider into Vesuvius.
- Catalan mythology has Count Arnau, a sinful noble that was condemned to wander the Earth forever on a black horse that spills fire through the mouth and eyes.
- It should be noted that despite how it's generally portrayed in modern fantasy, the mythological creature known as the "Nightmare" is not this trope, but rather a sort of small goblin thing that brings bad dreams by sitting on your chest while you sleep. It's from German mythology, and the word "mare" doesn't refer to a horse in German but instead the mythological creature known as the "Nightmare".
- The Segua, Cegua or Sihua in Mesoamerica, it's a seductive beautiful woman that turns into a horrible mare corpse once she lured men, sometimes to kill them, sometimes just to scare the crap out of them.
- Dungeons & Dragons has the Nightmare: a horse-like monster from the Lower Planes that is ridden by Blackguards and powerful Evil creatures. It has glowing red eyes, a blazing mane, burning hooves and fangs. Oh, and they can fly and teleport across the planes. Numerous later fantasy works have later copied the idea, many of them likely not realizing "nightmare" as a horse-thing was a silly pun rather than an actual mythological creature. (The "mare" of "nightmare" is actually a goblinlike creature called a "mara".)
- In addition, Natara, Commander of the Infernal Charge of Avernus, has a black unicorn with bat-wings.
- A Dragon article introduced the Equars, nine intelligent magical horses from the Outer Planes that represented different alignments. They included the handsome, black Banecourser (Lawful Evil); the sickly, ratlike Roasinante (Neutral Evil); and the monstrous red eyed Charnalbalk (Chaotic Evil).
- Forgotten Realms has the Black Unicorn, which is a Chaotic Evil jet black unicorn that relishes the taste of meat (preferring human, elven and especially unicorn flesh).
- Ravenloft has corrupt unicorns called Shadow Unicorns, which are the Neutral Evil spawn of a fallen unicorn named Addar and one of the above-mentioned Nightmares.
- Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000:
- Daemonic mounts in both games range from Juggernauts of Khorne, rhino-like critters made out of a combination of iron and hellfire, to Steeds of Slaanesh, unnaturally-captivating serpents mostly comprised of breasts and a really long tongue. At the outer reaches of this trope are the Discs of Tzeentch, which are exactly what they sound like; flying, fire-wreathed metal disks that sprout swirling blades around the outer rim in combat. The generic Daemonic Mount (with no associating to any one god) is usually depicted as some sort of ashen-coat horse (hellfire eyes are usually left up to the painter).
- The Vampire counts in Warhammer have mounts called Nightmares, which fits this trope (the exact look of the Nightmare can vary, since it's cobbled together out of corpses, but it tends to be at least vaguely horse-like). There's also the Felsteed, which is a winged Nightmare (and, in previous editions, was named exactly that).
- Skeleton horses are often used by undead, earlier editions had them in use by both Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings.
- Also from Warhammer, special character Archaon rides a daemonic steed called Dorghar. Its other name? The Steed of the Apocalypse. It's basically a horse so powerfully evil that whoever rides it is foretold as the man who will finally allow the world to be consumed by Chaos.
- Age Of Sigmar adds a few more, including the Varanguards' massive, kinda horse-like things.
- Magic: The Gathering has a creature called Nightmare, as well as Thundermare.
- Orpheus characters who have managed to become Orphan-Grinders can summon one of these as one of their abilities.
- In Rifts, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride demonic horse-like mounts called Nether Beasts. Though Pestilence's Nether Beast looks like a giant beetle.
- Exalted: The Abyssals and their Deathlord masters ride them. A particular Abyssal charm gives a horse (or yeddim, or...) more running power or fighting power, but inevitably turns it hellish (as in, becoming a Creature of Darkness).
- In Battletech, one of the Clans alludes to this; the "Hell's Horses", named after a transgenic equine species that was carnivorous.
- In the prologue of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Venom Snake and Ocelot are chased by the Man in the Flames using a Horse- in the Flames. Later in the game you can even develop a alternative skin for D-Horse dressed just like him called Furicorn (without the flames, unfortunately).
- The Heroes of Might and Magic series has Nightmares - essentially horses / unicorns FROM HELL! True to their name, their very proximity lowers enemy morale and their attacks have a chance to send the enemy running away in terror. The debuted in IV aligned with the Asylum faction, before becoming part of the Inferno faction in V.
- The summon Ixion from Final Fantasy X has been described as a unicorn on steroids, and that's fairly accurate. The horn alone looks more like something one would see on a can opener - a can opener from hell that's used for scalping tortured souls. Fittingly, Dark Ixion from Final Fantasy XI is an endgame Bonus Boss.
- A pre-order bonus for Dragon Age: Inquisition grants you a mount called the "bog unicorn." It is so called because, rather than being a literal unicorn, it is an undead horse with a sword driven through its skull that gives the appearance of a horn. Rather than being brought back from the dead by mystical means, much of the dialog surrounding it implies that it simply willed itself back to life just to help.
- While not evil, Odin's Gestalt Mode in Final Fantasy XIII qualifies for this trope.
- Shin Megami Tensei's Horsemen of the Apocalypse each rides one of this. White Rider's covered in eyes.
- In World of Warcraft, Warlocks can learn to summon and ride Felsteeds and Dreadsteeds. They have flaming hooves and evil red eyes, and glowing red cracks form in the ground beneath it when they're summoned.
- The racial mount for the Undead is a skeletal horse. There are also two other hellish horses, The Huntsman's Steed and the Headless Horseman's Steed. Both are extremely rare (0.1% droprate) mounts that look like horses with flaming green hooves, burning eyes and green fire on their back. Bonus points for the Horseman's mount for being able to fly.
- There's also Baron Rivendare's Deathcharger, a skeletal horse available from the eponymous boss in the "dead" side of Stratholme, at an equally rare chance.
- In an early quest ("early" ignoring that the character's first 54 levels went by before the player is put in control) Death Knights gain an Acherus Deathcharger. Different color scheme, presumably different genealogy, different skin, but similar effect as the warlock mount. They also let out an ear-piercing shriek when summoned that can only barely be recognized as a neigh. Slightly different in that you catch the horse that gets horrifically converted into your undead mount yourself. You Bastard. For maximum comedy, steal the colt.
- There is also Attumen's steed, not ANY better than your normal epic mounts, but it is a Bragging Rights Reward on its own as it has a very low droprate.
- Then you can have Invincible, Arthas' Deathcharger, which can fly too, and slightly faster than common fliers. But most of its value comes from merely owning it, which shouts "I KILLED THE LICH KING ON 25-MAN HEROIC!".
- The Demonic Invaders faction in the Warlords Battlecry series have a unit called the "Nightmare". They look like normal horses, except for the red eyes, the body covered with spikes and the fact that they lack skin.
- Geryon from Devil May Cry 3 is a Hellish Horse boss. It's so badass that its drawn carriage can fire missiles.
- Ganondorf, unsurprisingly, rides one of these in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Again in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, where you have to face him in a horseback battle. He's a better swordsman than Link on horseback, but you've got Zelda and her Light Arrows to compensate.
- The game averts a potentially hilarious subversion. When Ingo took over Lon Lon Ranch, he originally intended to give EPONA to Ganondorf. Imagine seeing Ganondorf riding possibly the cutest horse in the ranch.
- The German translation of Ocarina of Time further emphasizes this: a Gossip Stone mentions that Ganondorf's steed may very well be from Hell.
- In Breath of the Wild, you can actually tame and ride a gigantic black horse for yourself. It's implied to be of the same kind that Ganondorf rode in the past. Ironically, you can even use this horse against Ganon in the final battle! It's also possible to ride one of the skeletal Stalhorses, but you're not allowed to keep it at a stable because the owner will exclaim "That's a monster, not a horse!" and will worry that it'll try to eat the other horses. On the bright side, a certain NPC in the Tabantha Tundra will give you 100 rupees for showing her a photo of one.
- Red Hare from the most recent Dynasty Warriors. Looks quite hellish in the official art for the game with Lu Bu, but quite gentle in the official art with Guan Yu.
- The first official boss in Final Fantasy XII is the Firemane — a gigantic, spectral warhorse made entirely out of living fire.
- Later horse-type enemies would have either ghastly, spike-covered, crescent-shaped helms that obscured their skulls, or simply had tentacles sprouting from their manes. The latter tend to be particularly vicious, and were often actual demons.
- A special mention goes to Helvinek, the purple horse demon appearing in the Necrohol of Nabudis, which is one of the few enemies that can actually chase you between zones.
- Later horse-type enemies would have either ghastly, spike-covered, crescent-shaped helms that obscured their skulls, or simply had tentacles sprouting from their manes. The latter tend to be particularly vicious, and were often actual demons.
- Night Mare from King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, is a black pegasus which Alexander has to charm with a concoction including sulfur, brimstone, and a hair from either Beauty or Cassima (fantasy horses like maidens) for the best-ending sidequest. It also eats deadly nightshade berries for lunch.
- Torahime from Muramasa: The Demon Blade rides atop a phantom horse with its skeleton visible.
- Regardless what color the horse originally was, all the horses the Lotus Clan from Battle Realms use (shadow steeds) are coal black and can breathe fire.
- Ruin of Darksiders, whose rider is none other than The Horseman of War.
- The Reaper Steeds of Brütal Legend.
- Downplayed with Ponyta and Rapidash from Pokémon. Both of them look like horses with flaming manes, but don't look that scary. Rapidash even combines this trope with the Unicorn, by being a unicorn with flaming manes.
- Red Dead Redemption Has a horse known appropriately as the "dead horse". In addition to being covered in claw marks, it's missing one eye, the lower jaw and half of its left front leg. It can be ridden, but not in normal game play, you have to use a edited save file or mod one yourself, but you can see it laying dead in the mission "Spare the Love, Spoil the Child" if you go to the cave, or in this YouTube video: .
- Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare: There's the Undead Horse, it appears when you whistle for your horse after it has died. It's faster and has infinite stamina, but it's much harder to control.
- It also has the Four Horses of the Apocalypse. War has a flaming mane, tall and feet, Death causes zombie's heads to explode, Pestilence is Nigh Invulnerable and is surrounded by a sickly green cloud, Famine is trailed by a swarm of locusts.
- In Dragon Quest IX, the first grotto boss is Equinox, a pretty Badass lookin' horse. He has powers related to darkness and hates humanity. In some of the higher-level grottos, one of the monsters that you can see running around is a recolor of Equinox.
- For a while in the more recent updates of Dwarf Fortress, kicking was incredibly powerful. Biting still is. Horses can use both attacks. And if you embark in evil territory, you can get attacked by skeletal and zombie horses, which are much harder to kill than living horses... to say nothing of the potential for randomly-generated horse demons and Forgotten Beasts.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- Shadowmere, who appears in both Oblivion and Skyrim, is an immortal, possibly undead horse with sleek black fur and glowing red eyes, in service to the Dark Brotherhood. Despite appearances, Shadowmere is always perfectly loyal to the Player Character once acquired.
- Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC adds Arvak, a skeletal, blue-fire-glowing horse you can acquire in and summon from the Soul Cairn. Like Shadowmere, he is perfectly friendly to the player.
- The Elder Scrolls Online:
- Nightmare, an enemy from Ragnarok Online, is exactly t;his. It is a ghost horse that is immune to non-elemental attacks.
- Kazak the Blood Covered One from Phileasson's Secret is a demonic humanoid horse demon who can walk on his back legs and carries a giant scythe.
- The Brook Horse, from Year Walk, is a pale, Sharp-Dressed Horse, halfway submerged in a river. According to folklore, it's quite infanticidal and, as it happens, during the game it wants the player to fetch it four Mylings, souls of murdered infants, in exchange for a key... The Brook Horse would make quite the perfect mount for Slender Man.
- Bayonetta 2 has one of the new demons, Diomedes, as a giant horse that can be summoned as a finisher for some of the enemies. Did we mention that Diomedes is a Hellish eight-legged Unicorn with a BFS rather than a horn?
- Dark Souls 2 has the Executioner's Chariot, an optional boss that spends its time torturing Undead endlessly for sport. It's a chariot pulled by a massive two-headed horse with glowing red eyes and is shrouded in darkness. The kicker? The description of its boss soul indicates that the horse was the thing in control of the chariot: the rider in the chariot itself was possessed by the horse's murderous will to inflict pain and torment upon its victims.
- Dota 2 gives us Abaddon, the Lord of Avernus, whose unnamed steed seems to be a translucent spectral horse, although it is never really mentioned in-game.
- In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt you encounter an imprisoned nature spirit, which asks Geralt to perform a ritual to free it. The ritual involves taming a black mare and bringing her to the prison so the spirit can use her body to manifest... afterwards, the mare has glowing red eyes and begins rampaging through the countryside, taking revenge against the servants of the beings who imprisoned it.
- One of the possible rewards for the first DLC is an enchanted saddle that turns Roach into a scary black horse that emits smoke, attracts insects and scares enemies that come close, stunning them.
- Warcraft III: Death Knights get to ride skeletal horses.
- Total War: Warhammer:
- Vampire Counts Hero Units can ride skeletal horses and undead Nigthmares, as well as felsteeds, winged Nightmares resembling bat-winged undead pegasi. A regular unit, the Hexwraiths, is mounted on skeletal, ghostly horses.
- The Warriors of Chaos ride monstrous steeds with flames around their hooves and muzzles.
- Phear Lap in Cuphead is a skeletal racehorse that acts a miniboss in the Devil's Casino level.
- Shadow of the Colossus has the Fourth Colossus, Phaedra, which resembles a giant horse with spindly, crab-like legs.
- In Girl Genius, shortly after Agatha joins up with the traveling band they unwittingly bring back a demonic horse that attacks the camp, and Lars is so terrified that all he can do is scream "Horse-horse-horse!" for several minutes while having a panic attack — at least, until the calming pie.
Horse! Pie! Horse! Pie! Horse! Pie!
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has a creepy black horse which stalks Ben Franklin II after he is raised from the dead. It turns out the horse is his intended mount, since Ben was brought back to be a Headless Horseman.
- Also, Sparklelord, although he was more of a motorbike or unicorn than a horse.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has Mook the Bigfoot's steed Oomrok, a hulking unicorn with a face like a stretched-out Jason hockey mask. Described as being "like a My Little Pony designed by Frank Frazetta."
- Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic has a nightmare as the closest thing to a real horse the orcs could procure. Naturally, it's more into raiding than chatting, but a little abduction and wild run is fine, too.
- In Mystery Babylon, when the Horsemen of the Apocalypse rise from the Pit, the pale horse of Death is an undead skeleton.
- Bad Horse, the leader of the Evil League of Evil in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is supposedly like this, according to other characters' descriptions, including having a terrible Death Whinny. Please note that he isn't a horse-themed villain, as much as an actual horse.
- My Little Pony:
- My Little Pony TV Specials: The pilot for the original series featured the Evil Overlord, Tirek/Tirac, a hellish centaur that kidnapped some ponies and turned them literally into nightmare horses for his own chariot.
- Nightmare Moon from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a straight example, though instead of a demonic motif she has a shadowy appearance appropriate for a moon goddess, including black armor and a mane that resembles the Milky Way.
- Luna's guards may also qualify. Not evil, but you wouldn't confuse them for any run-of-the-mill Royal Guard, what with their reptilian slit-pupiled eyes and bat-like wings.
- Played for Laughs in the episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen", where Twilight Sparkle becomes so angry she turns pale and her mane and tail ignite in flame for a few moments.
- "Hearth's Warming Eve" gives us the Windigos, malevolent winter spirits who feed on hatred and appear as a trio of spectral horses.
- "A Canterlot Wedding" has the Changelings, black insectile ponies that feed off of love; they have large, solidly colored eyes, frills instead of manes, chitinous-looking skin, fly-like wings, twisted horns, and holes in their legs.
- "The Crystal Empire" introduces King Sombra, who is, in theory, just a very powerful and evil unicorn, but his flowing shadowy mane, glowing eyes and wickedly curved and pointed horn push him definitively into Hellish Horse territory.
- "A Royal Problem" introduces one that isn't real but a literal nightmare: Daybreaker, the hypothetical Superpowered Evil Side of Celestia. Unlike Nightmare Moon, Daybreaker does have a demonic motif, including a literally fiery mane and burnt-red sclerae in her eyes. While Nightmare Moon is the result of Luna giving in to envy, Daybreaker is what Celestia would become if she stopped caring about others and decided It's All About Me.
- Futurama plays with this by having a HoloDeck simulation gone wrong and the holographic version of Spirit, a pony Amy wanted but didn't get as a kid (because she had too many ponies already) turn bad and grows fangs — while Atilla the Hun was riding it.
- Played for laughs when Robot Chicken did a sketch about "My Little Pony: Apocalypse Pony."
- Young Blood's skeleton horse in Danny Phantom.
- Don't forget Fright Knight's freaky winged demon horse.
- Parodied with relish in (of all places) Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer. Stormy's horse Skydancer rages screaming through the clouds, causes lightning to fire off everywhere he stomps, snorts freezing rain, and has the obligatory Goshawk-red mad eyes and badass attitude. Starlite (essentially a Small Name, Big Ego magical horse) challenges him to a race, overtakes him, and ends the winter in the process. The infuriated Skydancer screams and foams and snorts... a tiny rainbow.
- In Thundarr the Barbarian, the human heroes ride ordinary horses, while Ookla the Mok rides an "equort," something that looks likes a cross between a horse and a bug.
- In a Simpsons episode, Mr. Burns tries to bribe Lisa with three beautiful ponies. When Lisa regretfully refuses, they reveal their true nature...
- In the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, Venger rides a Nightmare (see Tabletop Games, above).
- In the She-Ra: Princess of Power episode "The Price of Power", there are the Dark Riders. They consist of armored skeletons (with the Horde emblem) riding dark grey bodied, black-maned bat-winged horses with Blank White Eyes.
- Filmation's Ghostbusters: Sir Trance-a-Lot's steed Frightmare. The note Headless Horseman appeared in one episode; unusually, there was nothing out of the ordinary about his horse because he wasn't there to scare anybody.
- On Doug, after lying about his level of horsemanship expertise to impress Patti, Doug gets saddled with a black horse named Sugar. Sugar is stubborn and unfriendly, but calms down when Patti takes the reins.
- Truth in Television, at least in terms of behaviour: Zebras kill more zookeepers than any other animal.
- Onagers (Asian wild asses or "half asses") had a similar reputation in Roman times. They gave their name to a type of catapult that was said to throw big rocks as far as a real onager could throw a man after kicking him.
- And historic warhorses got trained to show this behavior, kicking their attackers.
- In his Memoirs, General Marbot tells the story of one of his mounts, Lisette, a mare whose achievements include biting off the face of at least one Russian grenadier, kicking another to death and tearing his entrails out, doing the same to at least one stable-boy and being used as a guard-horse to catch a thief.
- Driving into or out of Denver International Airport treats you to the sight of what is supposed to be a statue of a Blue Mustang, but its eyes glow red. Drive by this at night and you can get a good idea of this trope. It's officially called "El Mesteño"note , but most locals refer to it as "Blucifer". Others nickname it the "Demon Horse" for good reason. And to make matters even freakier, it killed its sculptornote , making it a rather literal Creator Killer.
- Bucephalus, the famous mount of Alexander the Great, was said to be nigh-untamable and was initially turned down by Philip of Macedon when offered the horse by a trader until a young Alexander managed to subdue him. Many legends sprang up around Bucephalus that gave him supernatural origins and/or powers in the centuries that followed.