"Sea without a shore for the banished one unheardLighthouses have been around for a long time. At one time they were invaluable to the shipping industry, making sure boats got into harbor without crashing into reefs or the shore. Advances in technology have made lighthouses mostly obsolete, though; GPS and LORAN killed off the use of lighthouses in commercial shipping due to being much more accurate and cheaper to use and operate. Nowadays lighthouses are left alone for historical sites and tourist traps. The only places left where lighthouses have any serious use are where radio might not work, where the sea conditions change radically, or in places like harbors with narrow entrances or seamounts surrounded by barely submerged ridges where it is vital that the pilot of a ship have a blatantly obvious marker of where not to steer in the event of an electronics failure or disorienting weather conditions. Despite their current uselessness, lighthouses have been used as settings in modern and old stories, often in a scary capacity. It could be because the small number of people needed to staff a lighthouse leads to stories about recluses working the lighthouse. Or it could be that lighthouses being usually located on a lone island or a distant cliff makes them isolated and creepy. Add some Ominous Fog rolling in off the coast for extra atmosphere. The height also makes a lighthouse an ideal setting for a Climbing Climax, and relighting a lighthouse is a common quest for heroes. Of course, it can just as easily be a Subverted Trope. The protagonists could stumble upon a lighthouse that initially appears abandoned but is actually inhabited and well maintained. Lighthouses do not necessarily have to be haunted to be good for a setting; they can be just as atmospheric on their own. But the characters have to interact with it in some way.
He lightens the beacon, light at the end of world
Showing the way lighting hope in their hearts
The ones on their travels homeward from afar"
He lightens the beacon, light at the end of world
Showing the way lighting hope in their hearts
The ones on their travels homeward from afar"
— Nightwish, "The Islander"
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Anime & Manga
- The lighthouse on Enoshima island off the cost of Kamakura is features in several manga and anime:
- In Elfen Lied, the lighthouse forms an important backdrop, both in the manga and in the anime. It's only in the manga though that it ends up completely trashed.
- The same lighthouse plays an important role in Uta Kata.
- And the same lighthouse is visited by the main characters in Aoi Hana.
- And again in A Channel during the Beach Episode.
- Most of what happens in My Beautiful Girl Mari has ties with the town's lighthouse.
- An episode of Pokémon had Ash and Co. stop at Bill's Lighthouse, which initially appeared haunted. The episode eventually turned into an homage to the below-mentioned Fog Horn.
- An episode of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman involved a supposedly moving lighthouse. Yes, the bad guys were involved.
- One shows up in the twentieth chapter of Tegami Bachi. It's definitely of the spooky variety.
- One of the stories in Junji Ito's Uzumaki involves the spiral staircase inside the local lighthouse.
- The classic Batman story "Legend of Key Hook Lighthouse!" from Detective Comics #414 takes place in a haunted lighthouse.
- The team Excalibur lived in a lighthouse. Not haunted, but very magical.
- Aquaman is the son of a lighthouse keeper, and is usually depicted as living in the old lighthouse when he's not under the waves. But it's just an ordinary lighthouse, other than that.
Films — Live-Action
- The Love Light : Angela and her family keep a lighthouse. They're Italians and World War I is raging. Eventually Angela rescues an Italian sailor washed up on the rocks, and they fall in love...but the sailor shows an odd familiarity with German...
- Lighthouse (1947) A love triangle set in a lighthouse.
- The Fog (1980). A lighthouse that doubles as a radio station is attacked by ghosts and the heroine must scramble to the very top to avoid them.
- Occurs in the 1950s giant monster movie The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms which is loosely based on the Ray Bradbury story The Fog Horn.
- In The Ring, the Moesko Island lighthouse is the vital clue that lets Rachel know where the Cursed Video legend originated.
- The climatic final encounter with the Tooth Fairy in Darkness Falls takes place within, and atop, a lighthouse.
- In The Goonies, the entrance to the cave system is underneath a lighthouse.
- The lead character of Tormented murders his mistress by not grabbing her when she falls over the railing of a lighthouse, and is ultimately done in this way himself.
- Battle Royale has a very memorable scene in a light house.
- In Akunin, the murderer Shimizu and his girlfriend Mitsuyo take up residence in an abandoned lighthouse while hiding from the police.
- Lighthouse (1999) has a shipwrecked people from a prison ship fighting a killer in a lighthouse island.
- Lampshaded by Shaggy in Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster:
"Heh. Would you look at that. Our first suspect just happens to be the keeper of a creepy old lighthouse. You know, just once, I wish we found a mystery that started in a cheery futon showroom."
- Enid Blyton's The Famous Five: In the 19th book Five Go to Demon's Rocks there is a good example of the trope. The Five are staying in the lighthouse, and the adventure they get caught up in very much revolves around the lighthouse; and the climax involves lighting the lamp and ringing a bell on a stormy night as the only way of attracting help when they are locked in the lighthouse.
- Ray Bradbury short story The Fog Horn. A sea monster appears once per year to listen to a lighthouse's fog horn. One time, the lighthouse keeper decides to turn off the fog horn while the creature is listening to it. Big mistake.
- In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, the island of Demonreach features an abandoned lighthouse.
- C.B. Colby's Strangely Enough, sea story The Man Who Fell Forever. A sailor named Curly climbs a deserted lighthouse with a friend. When he gets to the top, Curly throws himself over the side. The horrified friend rushes down to the base and looks around, but can't find the body. Curly was never seen again.
- Thursday Next faces off against a psychic Enemy Within in a dark and crumbling lighthouse at the end of her mind.
- The poem Flannan Isle by W. W. Gibson tells of the mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers on an island off the coast of Scotland the night of Dec. 15, 1900. It is inspired by a true story.
- The narrator of H.P. Lovecraft's The White Ship is a lighthouse keeper, and it's implied that the solitude either a) made him more sensitive to the supernatural or b) affected his sanity.
- Haunted Lighthouse (2003). An R. L. Stine YA thriller.
- Koushun Takami's Battle Royale has one of its most intense sequences in one.
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf tells the story of a family going to visit a lighthouse on two different days, set ten years apart ...maybe.
- Shutter Island, both the book and the movie, has a lighthouse on the island with the asylum. It either contains the septic system for the island, or is a secret lab where the staff conduct experiments on the patients. It is actually an office of the head doctor.
- One of the stories in Letters from A Windmill by Alphonse Daudet takes place at a lighthouse on a mostly uninhabited island. Here the lighthouse was necessary for the ships but could be a very unpleasant place to its operators due to the isolated location.
- CattRokk light from Septimus Heap, whose Sphere of Light becomes a major plot point in Syren.
- The short story Three Skeleton Key, which inspired the below-mentioned Escape episode involves lighthouse keepers being trapped inside their tower by a horde of rats.
- An unfinished story by Edgar Allan Poe, called simply "The Light-House," deals with a lighthouse keeper's growing paranoia that the structure will collapse. Robert Bloch penned his own completion of the story and took it in a completely different direction.
- S.D. Perry's Resident Evil Caliban Cove features a lighthouse as the entrance to the Cove's cave system. It doesn't do much beyond conceal a carrier of Dr Griffith's modified T-Virus, holding an M16, who opens fire on the main characters.
- Moominpappa at Sea, one of Tove Jansson's Moomin series is set on a lonely island with a lighthouse. It deals with (among other things) the disillusionment of the titular character who starts out with a very romantic image of the setting and plans to use it as an inspiration for his book. Reality, however, kills his romanticism as the place turns out to be abandoned and depressing. A recurring theme is the loneliness of the island (which is very much described as a character in its own right) and of the job of the lighthouse keeper.
- Toward the end of Nine Princes in Amber, Corwin ends up at the secluded Lighthouse of Cabra, and is befriended by the solitary keeper, Jopin. It provides a break from the earlier activity, and Jopin (once he recognizes Corwin) provides some advice, and a boat to escape in.
- The Doctor Who episode "Horror of Fang Rock" takes place at a lighthouse.
- There was a TV series about a lighthouse which had strange creatures living in the walls. The lighthouse keeper's dog could see the creatures, but couldn't alert his owner to their existence. No, wait, that was the UK version of Fraggle Rock...
- The Goodies episode "A Little Light Housekeeping" features some typically surreal antics in and around a lighthouse and it also turns into a rocket.
- Lost season 6 reveals a random lighthouse with creepy mystical stuff (like a clock that can spy on people). It's in a isolated area that's apparently just minutes away from one of the major settings of season 1.
- A long forgotten kid's Brit Com called On The Rocks featured a pirate TV station that broadcast from a remote lighthouse. Obviously not very creepy.
- In The Prisoner's spoof episode "The Girl who was Death", a Mad Scientist with a Napoleon complex plans to launch a rocket against London from an isolated lighthouse. (Actually the lighthouse itself is the rocket. I say, you've guessed! You're not the Duke of Wellington, are you?)
- An episode of Pushing Daisies featured the murder of a lighthouse keeper. The team has to investigate during a dark and stormy night.
- Round the Twist took place at a lighthouse.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Aquiel" was about a mysterious disappearance on a subspace navigation array, a Lighthouse IN SPACE!!!!
- Stephen King's Storm of the Century has a lighthouse on Little Tall Island which features prominently in trailers and promotional art, despite the fact no character in the miniseries ever interacts with it (except for one creepy segment with Andre Linoge). However, it does get rather spectacularly toppled during the height of the snowstorm (a clear bit of miniature work), an event witnessed by most of the town which also leads to the disappearance and deaths of several characters.
- One episode of the new Twilight Zone concerned a lighthouse that was sort of a waypoint on the afterlife, where the newly dead arrived before being sent on their way.
- The long-running Soap Opera Guiding Light had a lighthouse in its (mostly) fictional town of Springfield which featured in a number of plots and was also made part of the opening credits in various ways through the years.
- Being set in an old seaside town in Maine (and filmed in Nova Scotia), Haven unsurprisingly has multiple lighthouses. One is the weekend prison of a woman who's overtaken by a succubus once a week, and another contains a portal to another world.
- The 100 has Jaha and Murphy reach an island with an automated lighthouse, still functioning nearly a century after the nuclear apocalypse. Possibly set up and maintained by ALIE to guide/lure people to her island.
- "Lighthouse" by The Hush Sound is about a ghost girl who haunts said lighthouse, along with the narrator and her friend, who become locked inside the lighthouse as well.
- The Lighthouse's Tale by Nickel Creek tells a story that not only takes place at a lighthouse, but is told first-person through the lighthouse's point of view.
- "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers", a famous song/musical piece by Van Der Graaf Generator.
- "The Ghosts of Heceta Head" by Lordi.
- "The Islander" by Nightwish provides the page quote.
- In The Adventures of Superman Radio Drama, Jimmy Olsen's aunt lived near an abandoned lighthouse where spooky stuff was going on.
- In one episode of The Navy Lark, C.P.O. Pertwee decides sabotaging a Lighthouse and becoming a wrecker is the perfect way to get some extra cash.
- The Escape episode "Three Skeleton Key" takes place in a lighthouse that gets overrun by a Swarm of Rats.
- The darklord Monette, from the Ravenloft game setting, resides in a lighthouse on a tiny island. Its beam is capable of luring in ships from other worlds via the Mists.
- Warhammer 40,000 takes this Up to Eleven as usual. Every day, a thousand psykers are sacrificed to the God-Emperor of Mankind, their powers helping his corpse power the Astronomican, the psychic lighthouse (which now occupies all of Mount Everest) that serves as a reference point in the Warp, without which FTL Travel would be impossible. note
- Dragon Quest IV had a haunted lighthouse about halfway through the game. Naturally the ghosts are messing around with the light and making ships crash, and naturally the heroes have to go stop them in order to progress with the game.
- The Curse of Monkey Island has Guybrush Threepwood repair a dilapidated lighthouse on Blood Island to summon The Lost Welshman.
- Beyond Good & Evil, in a subversion, has a nice friendly lighthouse where The Hero Jade looks after orphans until it is blown to bits.
- Ether One saves the lighthouse for the final level, and uses it as the site of The Reveal of the Twist Ending.
- Folklore has one of these. It serves as a bit of a motif for the game.
- Golden Sun has towers called Lighthouses, but they act more like seals on the power of alchemy. However, one can assume that during the times that alchemy is unleashed and the lighthouses are lit, they can actually function as lighthouses, since they're all somewhat close to the sea.
- Since Venus Lighhouse is closed to non-Adepts in the first game, Babi is having a new one built next to it, in the hopes that it will allow sailors to keep their bearings on the way to Lemuria.
- Grim Fandango had one of these at Rubacava. Not haunted, but it is important and fit in well with the film noir setting, looking similar to a lighthouse on the end of a jetty from the beginning of Mildred Pierce.
- BioShock: A lighthouse in the middle of the Atlantic contains a bathysphere station that leads to the destroyed utopia.
- BioShock Infinite continues the tradition by having a lighthouse on the coast of Maine be a secret launchpad for a rocket ship that takes pilgrims to Columbia, the city in the sky. The game also depicts all the myriad worlds of the multiverse as lighthouses, shining like stars across the sky between universes, which is one reason the exterior of Infinite's lighthouse is identical to the one encountered at the start of the original game.
- The original Myst had a lighthouse in the Stoneship Age. It was creepy, but what about that Age wasn’t?
- Half-Life 2 is the Trope Namer. The lighthouse is not that noteworthy, except for storing a crazy amount of guided missiles.
- There's an online escape game called Submachine, which ends up being pretty creepy. The second one takes place in a lighthouse that has apparently been buried underground.
- A lighthouse appears in the Gloomy Galleon area of Donkey Kong 64.
- The Prison section of Ghost Hunter has a lighthouse. It's beam can be seen in most (all?) of the aboveground areas. The boss battle for the level is fought near the lighthouse and its beam is critical for winning it.
- Tales of Symphonia has one in Port Paradiso. It's of note because characters mention that you'd better not go near it, but the quest surrounding it suffered a case of Dummied Out.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has a lighthouse on Windfall Island, not to mention the Forsaken Fortress and its watchlights.
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has a lighthouse level, though it is really just one boss fight with a giant crab and not much else.
- The Valix Belt level in Ratchet: Deadlocked is a lighthouse in space, constructed to prevent ships from crashing into an asteroid belt. The lighthouse gets disabled by the game's main villain, forcing Ratchet to reactivate it before it's too late. Not that they'd actually need one.
- Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One has a more conventional lighthouse the group runs up the side of while trying to escape a space octopus, which they then fight at the top.
- There's a lighthouse in the resort area of Silent Hill. It's the last of a series of four places to use the Channelling Stone, in order to get the Special Alien Ending.
- In Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, "lighthouse" is the last location of the game. It's actually a clinic called "Lighthouse", where Cheryl Mason is treated for psychiatric disorder caused by loss of her father.
- The "Last Stand" level in Left 4 Dead. It doesn't end well.
- In Breath of Fire III, the heroes have to relight a lighthouse that was shut down by faeries.
- Fallout 3 has a DLC area called Point Lookout. Most of it is a swamp, with a massive lighthouse looking over the coast. The lighthouse itself is on top of the Big Bad's lair. There is also an unmarked quest where you can find a lightbulb and relight the tower.
- Fixing the lighthouses of Britannia is one of the few Side Quests that still work in Ultima IX.
- The final location of the first Deep Sleep game, in which the only thing that can kill one of the Shadow People is the light from its bulb.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind the starting town of Seyda Neen has a primitive lighthouse. This is logical only because all traffic in and out of Vvardenfell is supposed to pass through Seyda Neen first due to quarantine (but it doesn't excuse other coastal towns, especially Gnaar Mok and Khuul, for not having lighthouses).
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has an optional dungeon called Frostflow Lighthouse, whose former inhabitants were a group of Determined Homesteaders who didn't realize their would-be homestead was built directly over a Falmer lair...
- Another mission has the player get hired by bandits to shut down the Solitude Lighthouse, causing a ship to wreck so they can rob it. When you go to collect your share, they try to pull You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
- A memorable example in Thief II: The Metal Age; the whole first floor was an elevator to the secret underground steam-robot base.
- Dark Fall 2: Lights Out takes place almost entirely in a haunted lighthouse. In several different time periods. Jonathan Boakes, the creator, based it on the Ballad of Flannan Isle.
- A much smaller lighthouse is one of the prominent landmarks of Saxton in Boakes's The Lost Crown.
- Diddy Kong Racing has one of the best uses of this. There's a lighthouse on the beach of Timber's Island that doesn't appear to do anything, until you beat Wizpig and win all 4 Grand Prix Trophies. The lighthouse then turns into a rocket shuttle and takes you to the secret 5th world in Space!
- Shantae's title character lives in a lighthouse in her hometown. The first game in her series begins with a cannonball crashing through the lighthouse roof.
- Final Fantasy XII gives us the Pharos: the immense, creepy, That One Level lighthouse to end all lighthouses.
- It's also an odd inversion of how lighthouses usually act: In most tales, even the creepiest, oldest lighthouses were once used to guide ships. The Pharos, however, is surrounded in Jagd (which causes airships to plummet) and the seas around the Pharos will sink any ship that gets close. The heroes are also not going to the lighthouse to relight the beacon at the top, but destroy it.
- Secret of Mana has one, but it's accessed midway through the game, but all it serves purpose for is NPC chatter foreboding of future plot points.
- In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, there is a lighthouse in the middle of the Thames River in Future!London. The cast comments on how weird it is to build a lighthouse in the middle of the river instead of at the mouth of the river. It's later revealed to be the top of a Humongous Mecha.
- Lighthouses are a bit of a motif in Nanashi no Game and on the last day the player character has to climb to the top of one for... some reason.
- The climax of Anchorhead takes place at a lighthouse.
- The lighthouse in Alan Wake represents a Hope Spot and a refuge in a game where darkness is very much your enemy. In the DLC "The Writer," it also serves as a Wave Motion Gun to wipe out the armies of Taken swarming Alan in his dreamscape.
- Dead Island features a lighthouse as a refuge at the beginning of the game.
- The last level of Dishonored takes place in Kingsparrow Fort, a military base built on Kingsparrow Island by the corrupt regime, with a giant lighthouse in the center of it.
- A lighthouse appears prominently in the opening act of Escape From Ravenhearst.
- An annoying enemy structure in the tower defense Cursed Treasure 2. It provides a speed buff for up to 3 enemies in a huge range. Seizing this structure makes it shoot damaging fire beams on the enemies instead, making life easier.
- In Animal Crossing, your town includes a lighthouse on the shore, and you may be tasked by Mayor Tortimer with turning the lighthouse on and off for a few days while he's out of town. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a lighthouse is one of the decorative structures you can build in your town.
- To the Moon has Anya, the lighthouse behind Eva and Neils client's house. River, the wife of their client, Johnny, was very attached the lighthouse, but Johnny never understood why.
- The Nancy Drew game Danger on Deception Island features the titular island's lighthouse, which has been abandoned and all but condemned for years. Naturally, this being Nancy Drew, you soon discover hidden passageways that link the lighthouse to a network of tunnels used to shanghai unsuspecting citizens in the past.
- Saints Row 2 actually has two lighthouses on its map. One near the northern shoreline of the city and one on the prison island. What makes the second especially notable is that it can be bought and turned into a crib for the player and their gang to hang out at. The police apparently don't mind that a high profile gang leader and his crew have set up shop roughly 50 feet from their front door.
- In Life Is Strange, there is a lighthouse at the top of a cliff in Arcadia Bay that can be seen in every outdoor scene. Max has recurring visions of watching a tornado destroy the town from the lighthouse cliff.
- The newly added Desolation Point map in the winter survival sim The Long Dark is an abandoned coastline dominated by a lighthouse. The lighthouse serves as a good choice for a player safehouse as it has a central location with other key areas (such as the Hibernia Processing whaling facility and the beached fishing trawler) within walking distance, and it gives an excellent view of the surrounding area, as well as having a bed, a fireplace and some supplies, though perhaps lacking in storage space.
- In Dear Esther you start at an abandoned lighthouse.
- The Secret World features a very large (at the time of its construction, the largest in the world) lighthouse on the eastern coast of the United States. Interestingly, it would be far more useful in the present day (due to the recent fogs covering the region) than at the time of its construction, when it mostly served as an ostentatious symbol to those in the know that the "Enlightened Ones" are here now, and anybody who wanted to evict them from their New World was welcome to try.
- Fallout 4:
- The main game has an unmarked lighthouse in the southeast corner of the map near Poseidon Energy and the Wreck of the FMS Northern Star.
- Far Harbor has the Brooks Head Lighthouse, and an unnamed half-sunken lighthouse outside the Invisible Wall west of Huntress Island.
- Mad Max: Jeet has built his stronghold by an old lighthouse although the stairs to the tower are blocked of by debris. There are several lighthouses occupied by enemies. At least one which is used as a lookout and sniper position.
- Where would Scooby-Doo be without haunted lighthouses?
- Clue Club episode "The Case of the Lighthouse Mouse".
- The Simpsons: The ending of "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Our Homer)" has Homer look for a soulmate at a lighthouse, but only finding a computer.
- Donald Duck occasionally ends up in one. Usually one with a bird that doesn't agree with him.
- Portland Bill is a British stop-motion animated children's series set in and around a manned lighthouse, and is mostly remembered for its cast all being named after various locations in The Shipping Forecast.
- A lighthouse in Steven Universe sits on top of the cliff face the Crystal Temple is built into. Ronaldo seems to spend a lot of time there, and when Steven, Lars, and Sadie come to watch some movies, it appears to be haunted. It actually has a corrupt gem within the walls that held a grudge against Lars.
- Almost every small town on the coast has a lighthouse as a tourist trap.
- There is actually a Florida city called Lighthouse Point.
- The lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt is the most famous lighthouse, since it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. For several years it was the tallest man made structure ever, before an earthquake and fire destroyed it.
- One night on a small tropical island, deadly venomous snakes crawl into a lighthouse, forcing the lighthouse keeper and his family to flee into the woods... where they're promptly killed by even more snakes. Sounds like a pretty good horror movie setup, but it would hit too close to home for those familiar with the aptly-named Snake Island.
- Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and a bit of Nova Scotia are all littered with Lighthouse Points. The most famous being the one at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia. The novel You Can Pick Me Up at Peggy's Cove by Brian Doyle features a memorable description of the Pandemonium that happens around the lighthouse at sunset as the throngs of tourists all jostle to take the perfect picture.
- Flannan Light, on Eilean Mòr off the coast of Scotland, as mentioned above in Literature. Even without the apocryphal addition of giant creepy birds (or something) hanging around the rock, the story of the three missing lighthouse keepers, which has never truly been explained to this day, is eerie enough to raise the hair on your neck. It's not surprising no one wanted to man the place afterward, so that it eventually had to become automated.
- The Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Oregon, which happened to be the one used for the pictures in The Ring, happens to also have a few ghost stories of its own.