Scenery Dissonance

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"He was distressed to think that something so nasty could happen somewhere as idyllic as this."

A form of Mood Dissonance, this is when either:

  • Type 1: Unpleasant scenarios are presented in settings with pleasant scenery.
  • Type 2: Pleasant scenarios are presented in settings with unpleasant scenery.

For the former, the impact of the whole can be more than that of the sum of its parts, whether because it seems a waste that the character enjoyment of the scenery is curtailed by the situation, or for whichever other reason. For the latter, it can be used to indicate that hope is not lost, even when it seems like it.

Compare Crapsaccharine World, except that this refers to a moment rather than the setting. See also Daylight Horror and A World Half Full.


Examples of Type 1:

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     Art 

     Films — Live-Action 
  • The movie The Rundown mostly takes place in beautiful South American jungles, contrasted with a brutally oppressed town and a lot of fast-paced gun violence...and some horny monkeys.
  • In Revenge of the Sith, the execution of Aayla Secura takes place in a lush colorful alien jungle (viewable here).
  • Winter's Bone is a chain of horrible events set in beautiful, snowy forest environments.
  • In In Bruges, the beauty of the titular city is a plot point. Almost all the main characters die. Some of them very gorily.
  • A lot of the ultraviolence in A Clockwork Orange takes place in picturesque surroundings: the abandoned casino, the writer's modernist house, the cat-lady's art gallery...

     Literature 
  • This is brought up in The Lightning Thief. When his mother apparently dies, Percy reflects that it doesn't seem fair for the weather to be so nice and the scenery so idyllic. He feels like everything should be cold and grey.
  • Lord of the Flies takes place on a paradise island, and is about a group of schoolchildren growing increasingly savage and inhuman after losing contact with the civilized world.
  • The Republic Of Trees - a group of teenagers escape to the forest, trying to build a new society free from all the crap created by the adults and end up re-enacting the horrors of the French Revolution.
  • The nineteenth-century novel Lady Audley's Secret invokes this trope by specifically stating that though we might think of the English countryside as idyllic and pastoral, there are as many gruesome murders committed there as there are in the city.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Carnivāle takes place in some really scenic settings, and features occasional horrifying violence.

     Music 
  • The Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song "Where the Wild Roses Grow" is a murder ballad set in a very pretty environment. The video is a nice supplement.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Deliberately invoked in the Vampire: The Requiem sourcebook Chronicler's Guide. It suggested that whenever the characters had a confrontation with The Devil, the scene should always be a nice, comfortable surrounding, like a children's playground or a perfumed and clean restroom.

     Video Games 
  • Common in the Ecco the Dolphin series. Plenty of the scenery is pleasant, but the games are clearly quite dark.
  • Also in Knights of the Old Republic, Manaan. Beautiful water world. Bad things happen. And Taris, too; the whole planet gets bombed eventually.
  • Hell looks like a pink and green crystalline palace in Final Fantasy II.

     Web Comics 
  • In Niels, one scene has Niels quietly enjoying a beautiful sunset... while two cops slowly drown under the dock he sits on.

Examples of Type 2:

     Anime and Manga 
  • One Piece: Near the end of Dressrosa arc, the battle of Dressrosa is over, and the kingdom is in ruins. Yet, by the next day, the citizens are happily resuming their lives and rebuilding the city, and even throw a small celebration over the heroes (our protagonist group) who saved the country from being utterly destroyed.

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