"Sea without a shore for the banished one unheard 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"
Lighthouses have been around for a long time. At one time they were invaluable to the shipping industry, making sure boats get into harbor without crashing into reefs or the shore
. Advances in technology have made lighthouses mostly obsolete though, GPS
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 or where the sea conditions change radically.
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 lead to stories about recluses working the lighthouse. Or it could be that due to 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.
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Anime and Manga
- 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's 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.
- Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea
- 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.
- Captain January
- 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.
- Shutter Island
- 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.
- A stock trope for Enid Blyton novels.
- 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. What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?...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.
- 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.
Live Action TV
- 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 had a lighthouse on Little Tall Island which featured 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 And Evil, in a subversion, has a nice friendly lighthouse where The Hero Jade looks after orphans until it is blown to bits.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bio Shock:
- BioShock: A lighthouse in the middle of the Atlantic contains a bathysphere station that leads to the destroyed utopia.
- Its Spiritual Successor Bio Shock Infinite continues the tradition by having a lighthouse at 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.
- The original Myst had a lighthouse in the Stoneship Age. It was creepy, but what about that Age wasn’t?
- Sierra produced its own version of a Myst-like game and named it, with good reason, Lighthouse. Said lighthouse was converted into a laboratory that could create portals to another world.
- 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.
- Ratchet And 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.
- 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).
- A memorable example in the second Thief game; 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 connected to a Falmer lair.
- Dark Fall 2: Lights Out is set on Fetch Rock, a lighthouse-bearing islet off the British coast.
- A lighthouse appears prominently in the opening act of Escape From Ravenhearst.
- 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.
- Note, in proper Spanish that should be "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homero".
- Donald Duck occasionally ends up in one. Usually one with a bird that doesn't agree with him.
- Portland Bill was 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.