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Island of Mystery
Very mysterious. Those flying people, I mean.

An island Setting where the island in question is crawling with strange and mysterious people, creatures and places, ancient, magical or high-tech. These islands are often very hard to locate (at least more than once). Usually tropical, they can have a variety of terrain, but generally default to jungle. The island can be big, but not too big. Too big and it's really a small country and doesn't have the same sense of isolation.

These islands are often shrouded from regular folk in a number of ways... being uncharted, in the middle of The Bermuda Triangle, having a permanent fog, a magnetic anomaly, space-time vortex, invisibility cloak, force field, magic cloaking spell, SEP field, unpleasant smell. Sometimes they are raised from beneath the ocean. Because of this visitors tend to be accidental by way of shipwreck or crashing airplane.

Most stories about one of these start with the protagonist(s) arriving on the island, and ends with them leaving.

They are hard to get to. They are even harder to leave.

Things to look out for on the Island:

One of these provides some very useful plot elements:
  • Their size can be as large as the plot demands (Although never so large as to indicate they can just trek completely away from their troubles).
  • Their inaccessibility means the protagonist(s) are on their own, can't call for help and must deal with their situation by themselves.
  • They have McGuffins on them. Treasure, lost technology, previous castaways etc.

The concept of one of these is ancient.

Parent trope of Turtle Island and Island Base. Examples that function mainly as IslandBases should be put on that trope's page.

Not to be confused with the fan-fic Mystery Island or the novel TheMysteriousIsland.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In Vexille the Mega Corp. Daiwa has turned the the entire nation of Japan into one. The rest of the world has been sealed off with an electronic field, and no one knows just what's going on there, except they keep exporting high-level robotics to the highest bidder. When Vexille manages to land there, she finds the inhabitants of all the islands have been made into test subjects by the Mad Scientist head of Daiwa for his cybernetics research, turning the entire place to a wasteland.
  • One Piece, being a manga about seafaring pirates, features several such islands as settings. There is the dinosaur inhabited Little Garden, the horror themed Thriller Bark with all its zombies, the sky island Skypiea which has xenophobic Native American inspired warriors and corrupt religious zealots, and many other such islands.

Comic Books
  • Tintin has seen a few:
    • The island of Flight 714 has caves, ancient ruins, ancient ruins in caves, anomalous physical properties and is ultimately a landing site for alien spacecraft.
    • The crashed meteor in The Shooting Star becomes a Mysterious Island with giant plants and insects.
    • The Black Island contains ruins and a mysterious, dangerous beast which turns out to be a gorilla. In Scotland.
  • The Marvel Universe has
    • Monster Island, home to many mutant Kaiju, as well as resident meglomanic Mole Man, a cave to The Lost World.
    • Kratoa, The Living Island is a small island subjected to nuclear testing that turned the island's ecosystem into a hive-mind entity. Kratoa has had children.
  • The DC Universe has
    • Themyscira, or Paradise Island. Hidden from mortal eyes by magic, on it resides the Amazons of legend, complete with classical Greek architecture. Blessed by the Olympian Gods, no man is allowed to physically set foot on it. The Olympian Gods stop by there from time to time. Themyscira is presently located in the Bermuda Triangle, but possesses the magical ability to teleport to any location or time period its inhabitants desire. Doom's Doorway to the underworld is there, guarded by the Amazons. Mythical, magical and outsized creatures live in there, and in the waters surrounding.
    • Dinosaur Island. Because dinosaurs live there. Also believed to hold the mystical Swords of Fan. Theorized in-universe that island exists in a state of temporal flux, as expeditions there find not only dinosaurs but World War II Japanese soldiers. Used as a proving ground for United States robotic weapons.
  • Largo Winch has Sarjevan(e), a lovely Baltic island that's basically a James Bond set - isolated by sheer cliffs and only accessible via a remote-controlled secret passage.

Fan Works
  • The island Applejack finds herself stranded on in Mother Of Invention. So far we have an unseen monster in the jungle, mysterious ruins marked with the Arc Words, and a force field cutting off escape from the island.

Film
  • Invoked in universe in the first Scooby-Doo movie: our separated gang are invited to the Spooky Island, a resort with a ghostly and mystical theme, by the owner Mondavarious.
  • The island at the end of Deep Rising. Apart from the giant creature that attacked the ocean liner, the island itself apparently is home to at least one creature large enough to make trees move, as well as having a volcano on it.
  • Skull Island in King Kong. Dinosaurs, giant insects, natives who perform Human Sacrifices, and the giant ape himself.
  • The Island Base of Dr. Totenkopf at the end of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. More dinosaurs, plus dangerous robots and a spaceship!
  • The Isle of Bronze in the 1963 movie Jason and the Argonauts has ancient Greek architecture full of treasure and a giant bronze statue that comes to life.
  • The island(s) full of dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and sequels. Now including abandoned research stations!
  • The Godzilla film series has Monster Island, home to many Kaiju, a research base and a force field containment system.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean. The Isle de Muerta where the cursed Aztec gold was hidden, a place shrouded in fog that could only be found by those who already knew where it was. Following the events of The Curse of the Black Pearl, it was reclaimed by the sea.
  • The Isle of Naboombu from the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks is accessible by magic and populated by anthropomorphic animals.
  • Attack of the Crab Monsters is set on a remote irradiated Pacific island with a research team on it, now populated with enormous once-human land crabs.
  • The Killer Shrews is set on an isolated island with a research station now being terrorised by mutant shrews.
  • Isla del Muerta from the movie version of House of the Dead has zombies, evil experiments gone wild and a villain from the days of Spanish sailing.
  • Island of Terror has a silicon monsters who eat bones on a remote and isolated island, created through genetic engineering by a Mad Scientist.

Literature
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. A mad doctor turns animals into animal/human hybrids through vivisection.
  • The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne. A group of balloon-wreck survivors on an island are threatened by pirates and helped by a mysterious benefactor. He turns out to be Captain Nemo, who survived the maelstrom at the end of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
  • R'lyeh, the island of Call of Cthulhu has ancient ruins and the Big Guy himself.
  • Dinotopia. Surrounded by a storm system and dangerous reefs that prevent safe travel to or from the island, it is inhabited by shipwrecked humans and sentient dinosaurs who have learned to coexist peacefully as a single symbiotic society.
  • The island of Leshp from the Terry Pratchett novel Jingo. It tends to raise itself from under the sea on a regular basis and is covered with Chthonic architecture. An homage to R'lyeh, home of Great Cthulhu.
  • In The Dresden Files Demonreach is an uncharted island hidden in Lake Michigan with a Genius Loci spirit that Harry Dresden beats into submission and makes into his ally, giving it that name in the process. It later turns out to be a prison for Eldritch Abominations that was built by the original Merlin himself, and Harry's the Warden.
  • Peter Pan. Neverland, home of the title character and the Lost Boys. Uncharted and accessible only through magic, children never grow old and die there and can fly with a little help. The geography of Neverland is shaped by the minds of the children residing there.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians. The Island of Ogygia, Calypso's home/prison, which cannot be reached by any normal means. The fates only allow heroes that Calypso can't help but fall in love with to wash up there, but eventually they all go, leaving her alone once again. The Heroes of Olympus indicates that Odysseus seemed to be working on a way to find it again, and now Leo might have the means to finish it. In any case, he's sworn on the River Styx to return there.
  • The uncharted island of Caprona, from the 1924 novel The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs, had a dicey volcano, dinosaurs, hostile sub-human tribes, and a mysterious evolutionary cycle.
  • The islands encountered by the eponymous ship in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. One of them has invisible inhabitants and a sorcerer, one has a dragon's lair, another has water that turns anything that falls in to gold, and the last has three old men in an eternal sleep and is inhabited by a star.

Live-Action TV
  • Gilligan's Island had a plot-sensitive volcano, cannibals from neighboring islands, giant spiders, mysterious caves, and seemed to be a magnet for eccentric-characters-of-the-week.
  • The island of LOST. Caves, ancient ruins, castaways, physical anomalies, weird creatures, angry natives, secret research stations, doomsday devices. It's got the lot.
  • Fantasy Island. Each week people go to what they think will be a nice vacation but which turns out to be a Secret Test designed to teach them a lesson. Their fantasies are fulfilled magically; guests travel in time, change sex, and other impossible things. Mr. Rourke is intimated to be several centuries old and possibly God.
  • Danger Island from the The Banana Splits show. Possibly home to the lost city of Tobanya. Contains castaways and comes with three tribes of cannibalistic native.
  • Living Island, home to H.R. Pufnstuf. Jimmy is shipwrecked and lives with the denizens there. Everything on the island is alive and sentient... houses, castles, boats, clocks, candles, books, trees, mushrooms, etc.
  • The CW's live-action adaptation of DC comics' Green Arrow, Arrow. Oliver Queen finds himself stranded on a seemingly deserted island in the South China Sea. Soon he runs into a mysterious Chinese man, a mysterious military organization, and more.

Mythology
  • Atlantis and all the attendant mythology surrounding it.
  • The legend of King Arthur has Avalon. as described in a narrative of the life of Merlin by the medieval historian Geoffrey of Monmouth:
    The island of apples which men call 'The Fortunate Isle' gets its name from the fact that it produces all things of itself; the fields there have no need of the ploughs of the farmers and all cultivation is lacking except what nature provides. Of its own accord it produces grain and grapes, and apple trees grow in its woods from the close-clipped grass. The ground of its own accord produces everything instead of merely grass, and people live there a hundred years or more. There nine sisters rule by a pleasing set of laws those who come to them from our country.
  • Irish myth has Brasil or Hy-Brasil. Said to be cloaked in mist, except for one day every seven years, when it became visible but still could not be reached.
  • The Isle of Demons. It was believed that the island was populated by demons and wild beasts. The demons and wild beasts would torment and attack any ships that passed or anyone that was foolish enough to wander onto the island.
  • The Voyage of St. Brendan describes St. Brendan's sailing trip to the "Land of Promise", a paradiscial island in the Atlantic Ocean which is permanently surrounded by dense fog and can only be found by saintly persons who enjoy the grace of God. This island was widely considered a "lost" but real island and appears, as "St. Brendan's Isle" and in various locations, on many maps from the 13th to the 18th century. The island holds a special place in the folklore of the Canary Island, where la isla de San Borondón (or Samborombón) is considered the westernmost island of the same archipelago, and there are many reports about sightings and even people setting foot on the island. Nevertheless, the island was erased from the maps in the 18th century for being mythical.

Pinball

Tabletop Games
  • Forbidden Island is set on an island filled with ancient ruins that hold various treasures that a team of adventures must recover before leaving the island. The island is slowly sinking and the players must race to complete the mission before they all drown.

Theatre
  • The island where the magician Prospero lives in The Tempest, from which he conjures a magical storm to strand his brother's ship on its shores.

Video Games
  • "Shounen Kininden Tsumuji" has an island called Kagami island which holds an important artifact that allows anyone to enter the Demon Castle in the sky.
  • Tomb Raider (2013) is set on Yamatai, an island kept remote by fearsome storms that shipwreck Lara. She finds a previous cast-away, a nazi research station, angry native cultists with an eye to perform a sacrifice and (naturally) caves with ancient tombs. Ticking quite a few boxes.
  • The videogame of King Kong, following Peter Jackson's 2005 movie, is set on the mysterious Skull Island.
  • The island of Myst, which is full of strange devices which are portals to other realms, Atrus' empty laboratories and, other than the player, has no one on it. As the name suggests, it's a mystery to solve.
  • Crash Bandicoot is set on a series of Islands, all lorded over by Doctor Neo Cortex, a Mad Scientist and his hybrid creature creations.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island has cannibals, a castaway, caverns, ancient ruins, a volcano and is hard to locate.
  • The archipelago of Far Cry contains not-so-abandoned genetic research facilities and genetically altered mutants.
  • The Donkey Kong Island of Donkey Kong Country has mysterious caves and ancient ruins.
  • The islands of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker are full of mystery. Caves, ancient architecture, weird creatures both big and small, IslandBases...
  • World of Warcraft. The Timeless Isle in Mists of Pandaria, a place where time stands still and where the ancient emperor of Pandaria tests the mettle of heroes against the August Celestials.
  • In Spellcasting 101 the protagonist has to move from island to island, each of which has its own peculiarities.
  • Versteckte Insel in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is a former Spanish colony, and the game's primary setting. Home to the El Dorado statue, and all of the dark secrets that come with it, every expedition there throughout history ends in failure, up until the statue sinks into the pacific ocean at the end of the game.

Western Animation
  • The island of Sindbad in Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor. It's on the back of a whale (according to Sindbad's Villain Song), and is the home of many beasts Sindbad captured, including a two-headed giant and a gigantic eagle.
  • Wakfu: The world of Wakfu is full of mysterious islands after suffering from a great flood, caused by a giant Ogre flooding their world with his tears. The flooding got so bad that it's to the point that even the main nations could technically be considered island nations. But more specifically:
    • A couple of islands the main characters visit with Eliatrope ruins are partially cloaked to be invisible to sailors.
    • Moon island. An island of ritualistic natives that worship a monkey named Moon.
    • Wabbit Island. An island of rabbit people with a famous dungeon for adventurers to challenge.
    • At one point the main characters visit a deserted tropical island populated with giant dinosaur like creatures. While trying to find a safe place from the monsters the boys fall victim to some Enthralling Sirens.
  • Lampshaded in The Simpsons' version of The Odyssey: "Who decided to give every weirdo an island?"
  • DuckTales: When Scrooge goes to find the lost play of William Drakespeare, he finds a strange island that seems to be inhabited by characters from Drakespeare's plays, and who all seemed determined to throw them off the island. They eventually find the play, and find out that these are actually actors, descendants of Drakespeare's original theatre company.

Real Life
  • Australia seemed like this when first discovered by Europeans, due to all the bizarre wildlife.
  • Cracked has an article dedicated to talking about real life islands like these that exist today. Including:
    • An island covered in incredibly dangerous snakes that have a venom that "causes your flesh to rot off your bones"
    • A chain of islands where the air is so toxic because of volcanic gas that everyone living there wears gas masks to breathe. And it's shaped like an old woman's head.
    • An island of cannibals.
    • The giant floating island of plastic in the middle of the Pacific. Looks vaguely solid, but you'd fall right through it if you landed on it. Then you'd get eaten by sharks.

Hub LevelVideo Game SettingsIt's All Upstairs From Here
Island BaseSettingsIt Came from Beverly Hills
Hurl It into the SunImageSource/Comic BooksSupergirl

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