Southern Gothic

The creepy, gothic version of the rural Southeast United States. Scenes show dying vegetation, decaying plantations, rusty farm implements, forbidding swamps with something lurking within, and frighteningly expressionless folk standing around doing...nothing, except staring at the protagonists.

The Southern Gothic is its own subgenre of Gothic media, characterized by bleak settings in the Deep South, flawed (and often disturbing) characters, and the darker side of the Southeastern United States including racism, sexism, and Barefoot Poverty.

Unlike The Savage South where the southern areas are teeming with life (most of which wants you dead), Southern Gothic settings have a constant feel of decay, death and malaise. Anything living there will feel unnatural on top of possibly being very dangerous. Supernatural elements are popular, especially with themes of the undead or "things that should not be" instead of the typical wild animals and hostile natives usually seen in The Savage South.

See also Deep South, Southern Gothic's mother trope. Compare Lovecraft Country, Campbell Country, Nordic Noir, and ‹berwald.


Comic Books

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has the Old South be full of vampires who attack and Kill Lincoln's family, incite a civil war and eventually have Lincoln murdered.
  • Children of the Corn is a rare west-coast example with an Amish feel, however, the decay, staring unnatural inhabitants and eerie isolation are still present.
  • House of 1000 Corpses where it's not full of wild near-tribal crazies everything is decaying, depressing and/or dilapidated.
  • Stoker, though set in Connecticut takes on a low-key, manicured version of the associated tropes (albeit populated with Fake Americans).
  • The Waterboy is comedic example where the decay and depressing state of the world is used to highlight Bobby's cheerful and optimistic Demeanor.
  • Winter's Bone
  • 1972 horror film The Other, along with the book it was based on. Set New England during 1935, and starring Creepy Twins, Niles and Holland Perry, it features old, decaying buildings, sun-parched yet oddly idyllic scenery, and horrible secrets.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird has elements of this, as well as being set in the Deep South.
    • Carson Mc Cullers' stories are soaked in this. She once accused Harper Lee of "poaching on her preserve".
  • Anne Rice's Blackwood Farm has more mausoleums than people, not to mention an entire house sunk to the second story in a swamp.
    • Pretty much everything Anne Rice does is Southern Gothic—with an emphasis on the Gothic part.
  • George R. R. Martin's Fevre Dream is very much this. Nineteenth century, steamers in the South, vampires with slaves and a creepy mansion.
  • A Rose for Emily, by William Faulkner, could well be the poster child of this trope. Emily Grierson's mansion, a symbol of better days long since past, is described in the most wretched terms of rot and decay—and the house hides terrible secrets.
  • H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu abandons the traditional New England as a setting for monstrous buried secrets, wandering Southwards to the dank swamps of Louisiana, where Cthulhu's cultists gather for celebration with orgies and human sacrifices.
  • Pretty much anything by Flannery O Connor.
  • John Saul set his horror novel The Right Hand of Evil in backwoods Louisiana and The Unloved in South Carolina.
  • Robert E. Howard's short story "Black Canaan" fits here.
  • Cherie Priest's Four and twenty Blackbirds mixes this with Magic Realism is a story of a girl who sees ghosts dealing with the legacy of her great-great grandfather, an evil sorcerer.
  • Many of the novels by V. C. Andrews.
  • Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road and God's Little Acre.
  • Shane Berryhill's Zora Banks Urban Fantasy series is a modernized example with Chattanooga, TN's genteel Southern heritage contrasted against its modern-day sleaze and supernatural crime.

Live-Action TV


  • Sons of Perdition fits this trope to a T.

Professional Wrestling
  • The Wyatt Family - a Charles Manson-meets-True Detective stable of evil southern cultits - play upon this in a way that's so legitimately chilling that it's probably inappropriate for what is, ostensibly, family entertainment.

Tabletop Games
  • Rage Across Appalachia, a supplemental book for Werewolf: The Apocalypse, runs on this trope. Memorable examples of horror from the book include the Bledsons, a rural family of bane-possessed men, and the Pigeon River Howlers, a bluegrass band made up of Black Spiral Dancers who corrupt their audiences through music and dancing.

Video Games


Western Animation