Of course the woods are enchanted. They all are. Gimli:
Nature Boy is right. When was the last time anyone saw a regular, non-enchanted forest? You can't grow two trees next to each other without some wizard or demon coming along and enchanting them.
The Lost Woods are no ordinary forest. They are a vast old-growth forest where the trees reach into the heavens. Their canopies cover the sky, leaving only shafts of sunlight steaming between the branches. Even the normally tiny mushrooms are huge and imposing
. (Whatever size they are, it's probably not a good idea to eat them. Probably.
) Nature has run wild, and man is not welcome here. If you are forced to enter, it's best to lower your axe
or else risk the attention
of the Ents
Besides your usual forest creatures, all manner of strange things lurk in the shadows. In any setting, it may be home to a Tree Top Town
. In ye olden days, the Lost Woods were home to The Fair Folk
, the Wicked Witch
, the Savage Wolf
, The Marvelous Deer
(which might lead you astray), Plant Person
and the occasional tree out to kill you
. In the modern day, it's home to the axe-wielding Serial Killer
, and campers — particularly those of the teenage variety- had better stay out of them
. In The Future
, it's home to cloaked snipers who want to make a hunt out of you. And Ewoks
On the other hand, the Lost Woods may not always
be dangerous, but they're shadowy and creepy and only a Crazy Survivalist
(or Nature Hero
/ Jungle Princess
) would actually try to live in this place. Thus, they are commonly used in European and North American settings as a closer-to-home version of the Jungle
This trope frequently goes hand in hand with The Maze
. It may also be a Shadowland
for even Arcadia
, but even more likely for a brilliant and happy city
As a setting for videogame
stages, The Lost Woods are a cousin to the Green Hill Zone
, and frequently occupy the second level
— apparently operating by the logic that a forest is a little more dangerous than Ghibli Hills
but not by a whole lot, and that plains and forest aren't too different considering that both are defined by the type of vegetation they have. Unless the stage is placed much later, then things will usually be a lot more difficult. They may or may not be haunted
(later stages often are), but either way, expect everything to try to kill you
Frequently a Genius Loci
, but it's not required. For a slightly more realistic setting, see Wild Wilderness
. Compare The Hedge of Thorns
Named for the infamous Recurring Location
in the Zelda
open/close all folders
- Windaria Haunted Woods to be precise. It looks creepy enough but evil spirits live there too. They prey on fear and can lead to death and confusion.
- "Hansel and Gretel" meet a cannablistic witch in the forest, because they got lost in one.
- In "The Six Swans", the king meets the Wicked Stepmother to be in the forest; later, her stepdaughter runs away to find her brothers in the forest; another king finds her there and falls in Love at First Sight.
- "Our Lady's Child" was abandoned in the forest for refusing to confess to having looked through the forbidden door; the king finds her there and falls in Love at First Sight.
- The One-Handed Girl hides from her brother in the forest; a prince finds her there and marries her. When her brother tracks her down and convinces the king and queen that she is a witch, she goes back; there she rescues a snake, gets back her hand, and receives a magical ring, with which she wins back her husband.
- In "Biancabella and the Snake", Biancabella's mother-in-law orders servants to kill her. They carry her off into the forest to do so, but only mutilate and leave her there.
- In "Brother and Sister", the title characters run off into the forest to escape their Wicked Stepmother. Because she is also a Wicked Witch, she enchants the streams they come to and finally turns Brother into a deer. They live in the forest until the king finds her there and falls in Love at First Sight.
- "Babes in the Wood". Sometimes combined with Robin Hood as a Pantomime.
- In Vasilissa the Beautiful, where Baba Yaga lives
Now deep in this forest, as the stepmother well knew, there was a green lawn and on the lawn stood a miserable little hut on hens' legs, where lived a certain Baba Yaga, an old witch grandmother. She lived alone and none dared go near the hut, for she ate people as one eats chickens. The merchant's wife sent Vasilissa into the forest each day, hoping she might meet the old witch and be devoured; but always the girl came home safe and sound, because the little doll showed her where the bush, the flowers and the berries grew, and did not let her go near the hut that stood on hens' legs.
- In Schippeitaro, where the evil cats live.
- In True and Untrue, where True hears the Talking Animals.
- In The Fire-Bird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilissa, the archer picks up the firebird's feather in the forest.
- In The Three Little Men in the Wood, it is, of course, in the woods where the stepdaughter meets the three little men.
- Star Wars had Dagobah and Endor. Also Yavin 4 (the site of the Rebel Base in the first movie) though we don't see much of it, and Kashyyyk, which is so lush with vegetation that it manages to be this and Jungle Japes.
- Pans Labyrinth.
- The Fire Swamp from The Princess Bride.
- The forest in The Brothers Grimm, at the heart of which lies the tower of the evil queen/sorceress.
- That creepy forest from The Wizard of Oz.
- The woods through which Tristan travels in Stardust.
- The Appalachian woods in the first two Evil Dead movies. An ordinary forest under normal circumstances, once the Book of the Dead's been read aloud, it transforms into a twisted, fog-shrouded Genius Loci of living trees, shifting paths, and roaming, unseen spirits. The spell might have the same effect anywhere: the evil it awakens is said to lie dormant in "the forests and dark bowers of man's domain".
- Avatar, in which the entire forest is also one massive planetary ecological hivemind of sorts.
- The headless horseman's burial site in Sleepy Hollow is located in a creepy forest completely devoid of animal life.
- Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure has the Deep, Deep Woods, which the dolls are warned to stay away from by Marcella. While at first it seems to be a normal forest, made spooky by the darkness of night, it ends up being the gateway to The Greedy and Loony Land.
- Princess Mononoke. The forest has its own ancient tree spirit, giant wolves, giant boar...
- Where Lilli runs away to and meets the miners in Snow White A Taleof Terror.
- Snow White & the Huntsman plays with this trope with The Dark Forest and the Sanctuary. One is an evil forest and one is full of fairies, but they're both undoubtedly ancient forests filled with strange creatures. However, the Huntsman, being one of the only people to have survived entering the Dark Forest before, has learned that while it is treacherous and filled with dangerous creatures, the real danger is that it is full of hallucinogenic spores. Combined with the superstitions of the average person of the time, a person wandering the Dark Forest perceives it as much more hellish.
Legends & Myths
- In Norse Mythology, Jįrnvišr (Jarnvidr), which means "Iron-wood", is a forest inhabited by giantesses and giant wolves. Norse heroic legend also has "Myrkvišr inn ókunna", "the unknown Mirkwood", a vast and little explored wood located somewhere in Eastern or Central Europe.
- In the legend of Genevieve of Brabant, she lived in the forest after escaping Malicious Slander. Fortunately, a magical deer helped her there.
- The above quote from DM of the rings was actually considered true by the Ancient Greeks. Forests (and mountains, valleys, or anywhere else where nature dominated the landscape) was considered to be "numinous": haunted by spirits and immortals.
- It also helped that there was a god, goddess, demi-god, nymph, maenid, sprite or other spiritual creature in charge of pretty much every natural feature from rivers to trees to small hills.
- In Arthurian lore, the Forest of Broceliande in Brittany, the location of many adventures of the Arthurian knights. Broceliande was known for being inhabited by fairies and home to the Lady of the Lake. Other notable locations in Broceliande are the Val sans Retour (Valley of No Return) where Morgan Le Fay imprisoned her lovers, the Fountain of Youth, and the tree where Merlin was imprisoned, as well as the Tomb of Merlin.
- The Old Forest and Fangorn Forest from The Lord of the Rings, Mirkwood from The Hobbit and Nan Elmoth from The Silmarillion. Doriath also counts for anyone who doesn't have permission to enter. Tolkien liked this trope.
- Garroting Deep, and the other remnants of the One Forest, in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
- Ratleaf Forest from Tailchaser's Song. It's old, foreboding and 'The big bad sets up his fortress there.
- It's arguable that every Tad Williams book has an example.
- The books of Robert Holdstock's Mythago Cycle make heavy, heavy use of this trope. Ryhope Wood, the focus of the books, is a remnant of very ancient forest that brings to life figures from the collective unconscious. From the outside, it's a small wood that's nearly impossible to penetrate. From the inside, it's an enormous stretch of primordial wilderness, where time runs differently.
- Both the Deepwoods and the Twilight Woods from The Edge Chronicles are fitting examples of this trope.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels, Tanith used to be like this, with mobile trees, before it was destroyed the day the regiment Tanith First & Only, Gaunt's Ghosts, was founded. The Ghosts themselves are marvelous at stealth, and Gaunt attributes it to their learning how to get around on their homeworld.
- In Straight Silver, the forests of Aexe Cardinal remind them of Tanith. They also contain a mysterious woman who makes predictions to Gaunt and lends him a car that just vanishes (along with its keys) when it gets them where they are going.
- Discworld has Skund Forest, home of gnomes, witches and talking trees. There's also Cutshade Forest in "Troll Bridge", which Cohen the Barbarian calls "proper darksome" and full of giant spiders ... at least before it was sold to a lumber mill, chopped down and replanted with spruce.
- The forest of Maleperduys has this reputation in The Reynard Cycle, and for good reason. It's a literal maze inhabited by Wargs.
- Harry Turtledove's Tales of the Fox series has the forest around Ikos, where strange things live, which has a mind (or mids) of its own, which doesn't necessarily care for people, and roads only exist at the forest's sufferance. It can also make unwanted travelers vanish in unexplained but silently ominous ways. It's implied that the forest exists to protect the Oracle of Ikos, placed by the all-seeing god Biton.
- A Song of Ice and Fire has weirwood forests, especially those with a heart tree, due to their association with the children of the forest and the old gods. A more malevolent version would be the Haunted Forest beyond the Wall, due to the Others.
- In Chivalric Romance, an ideal location for knights going on their quests. Also, where Percival's mother lived in fear her son would Turn Out Like His Father, a Knight in Shining Armor; it didn't work.
- A benevolent version is the setting of Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Green-Sky Trilogy. The forest covers the entire world and is a friendly, nurturing place to the tree-dwelling Kindar people. The Erdlings, who have spent many generations trapped underground, eulogize the forest as a lost paradise, but the first Erdling to escape from the caverns experiences the forest as both lonely and threatening at first.
- The Forbidden Forest in Harry Potter is filled with centaurs, unicorns, giant spiders, and other magical beasts to the point that students are punished by having to go in it at night.
- The Forests of Silence, an example of this trope are a major plot point in the first book of the Deltora Quest book series; it's also the name of the first book.
- In Patricia A. McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe, the enchanted forest swallows up Talis.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Beyond the Black River", the setting. With raiding Picts and a swamp demon.
- In Josepha Sherman's The Shining Falcon, the forest. Exactly how evil depends on whether the leshy like you.
- The eponymous protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" is a colonial Puritain who ventures into these and learns some disturbing things about everyone he knows and respects—or does he?
- The Saga of Recluce has the Accursed Forest (later Naclos), a sort-of-sentient being whose massive Order and Chaos flows ties all of its animals and plants together into a single entity. While no more dangerous to simply pass through than any other forest, it fights back with deadly force against anyone attempting to tame, cultivate or cut it.
- The Enchanted Forest Chronicles take place in an unpredictable, but usually benign, enchanted forest. (At least, the later three do; Dealing with Dragons takes place in the Mountains of Morning, where the dragons live.)
- The Forest in Septimus Heap is this in spades.
- Neil Gaiman's Stardust has the "serewood", where the trees will eat you if you leave the path.
- The eponymous wood of Hexwood - either it's a small piece of wooded land near a housing estate where the local kids go to play (littered with crisp packets, and you can see through to the other side in places) or it's a vast forest containing a rushing river with waterfalls, caves, an Arthurian-style castle and dragons. Or both. And that's not all that's going on, either.
- The Black Oaks in The Sword of Shannara.
- William Morris' The Wood Beyond the World.
- Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole has "The Endless Forest".
- In Living Alone by Stella Benson, the Enchanted Forest.
- The city of Taparak in Burying the Shadow is built into a huge petrified forest, not unlike a Lord of the Rings elf settlement.
- In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, walking through the woods caused Jenny's brother Tom to be swallowed up by it. When Jenny returns seven years later, it swallows her as well.
- The Pelagiris Forest in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar.
- Glen Keene, before becoming a lead character animator at Disney, wrote a series of Christian children's books. One of them was called Adam Raccoon in Lost Woods, and the eponymous forest was aptly named.
- Journey To Chaos: The Rose Forest is made of trees that are constantly watching its inhabitants. Carnivorus Venus Fly Traps can mimick the effects of Enthralling Sirens. Every animal living here can wield magic and they don't take kindly to strangers. This is aside from the Always Chaotic Evil monsters roaming the area. When Eric first arrives in A Mage's Power, he would have died on three occassions if not for a local escort. The best part? This is not a "special magical forest". This is a "normal forest".
Live Action TV
- In the Doctor Who episode In The Forest Of The Night, apart from having sprung up overnight instead of being older than memory, the forest takes on many aspects of the Lost Woods. At the end of the episode, the Doctor theorizes that the forest that features in myths and fairy tales is a remnant of a cultural memory of an earlier occasion when something like this happened.
- The Blood Trees from episode 5 of MythQuest. Yuki-Onna, a snow demon, lives there.
- The Sopranos use a real-life one in "Pine Barrens," in which Chris and Paulie go to the New Jersey Pine Barrens (mentioned below) to dispose of a body. Things went horribly wrong. For a realistic show with a setting in an honest-to-God real place, they managed to make it really creepy.
- Horror-punk band Calibretto's song "Don't Go in the Woods". It falls at the end of the mostly tongue-in-cheek Dead by Dawn EP, yet it's an oddly sincere song, with the narrator lamenting that he didn't warn his "baby" strongly enough to stay out of the woods. What happened is never explained, but "I fear I'll never see you again".
- The Decemberists' rock opera, The Hazards of Love, is set in woods such as this, ruled over by the dread Forest Queen.
- The Agapeland album Nathaniel the Grublet has Direwood, a spooky forest that causes any Grublet caught there after sunrise to disappear (whether it effects anyone else this way isn't clear). It even has its own song, sung by Thurl Ravenscroft.
- Changeling: The Lost plays on the idea of the Lost Woods with the Hedge, another dimension that makes up the gap between Earth and Faerie. There are wonders in it, yeah, but it's also a predatory dimension full of hobgoblins and soul-rending thorns. And it's remarkably easy for ordinary humans to get lost in...
- Exalted has the far East, surrounding the Elemental Pole of Wood. This serves as the source for the vary concept of plantishness in Creation. Eventually, the trees grow so thick that the branches and leaves fill up what would be the sky, and the roots crowd out the earth itself, leaving nothing but an endless procession of trunks, roots, and branches.
- Ravenloft has Lost Woods in spades. Much of the southeastern Core (the main landmass) is covered in thick, primeval forests. Notable areas include Verbrek (full of savage werewolves), Kartakass (full of intelligent wolves that hunt humans by shapeshifting into seductive human forms), and Tepest (where the goblins are the least of your worries compared to The Fair Folk and the hags).
- Legend of the Five Rings has the Shinomen Forest, which is almost completely unexplored and seemingly full of mysterious ruins that predate humanity. Legend holds that these were built by a race of snake-people who sleep within the forest. This turns out to be true, but is actually a good thing, as the snake-people are quite heroic.
- Much of the Old World is covered by vast forests full of Beastman, Minotaurs, and worse things.
- The Wood Elves reside in Athel Loren, a magical forest thats filled with forest spirits. If the Wood Elves don't kill trespassers, then they would end up getting lost in the forest for days, and come out like its been years.
- Indie RPG Summerland has this as a central motif-the world has been spontaneously covered by a supernatural forest called the Sea of Leaves, inhabited by sentient beasts, eccentric hermits called the Lost, and savage Wild tribes, who have forgotten they were once human. Those last two were normal people, but had their personalities overwritten by the Charm Person effect the Sea has on normal people (the Lost are treatable, the Wild are not). You play as a Drifter, a person immune to the call...which is probably worse than being normal, since it requires having such overwhelming trauma in one's past that you can't deal with normal people.
- Usually one fifth of every Magicthe Gathering set. Lorwyn and Shadowmoor took place in the same woodsy fairytale land, the first being enchanted and the second being cursed.
- The Skull valley in Annyseed, everything in it is a little bit more mysterious.
- Gillitie Wood from Gunnerkrigg Court.
- No Rest for the Wicked is a Fairy Tale pastiche, so naturally half the world is covered in forests of this type. Perrault doesn't believe November because she says she came through one.
- The characters in College Roomies From Hell, especially Margaret, keep ending up in a forest like this.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the forest next to Dr. McNinja's office is haunted and filled with various undead horrors. He hates the place.
- Wooden Rose The forest
- Memoria: The children go to find the witch in this.
- Bird Boy:
- Roza in search of a curse-breaker
- In Thistil Mistil Kistil, where he meets Loki
- In Impure Blood, where Roan was growing up in one before his capture.
- In Endstone, even Kyri finds some woods dark and foreboding.
- In Rusty and Co., where they camp.
- In Wake the Sleepers, where Locke flees.
- In Doodze, outside the gates.
- In Tales of the Questor, the squire hopes to take refuge in one.
- The Everwood Forest and the much larger Silverfronds Forest in Our Little Adventure.
- In Erstwhile, Maid Maleen and her servant have to sleep in one.
- Surprisingly averted so far in Ears for Elves, given that this is fantasy set in a forest full of elves. There may be something in them (see Elon's warning under Dont Go Into The Woods), but we haven't seen it yet.
- The Order of the Stick has the aptly named Wooden Forest, complete with witches, bandits and a dragon lair.
- Blindsprings has the forest otherworld in which we first encounter Tamaura.
- The Woods in Warlock Games
- The Grove near Whateley Academy. The spirits there will happily do favors for Fey, who's the reincarnation of an ancient Sidhe queen, and respect at least some of her friends, but the average human is still very much not welcome. Campus security has an eye on that forest and makes an effort to intercept people (including students) heading there without authorization for generally good reasons.
- Tasakeru: The main characters live in the titular forest, an ancient, abandoned, mostly unexplored wilderness that is home to not a few strange things...
- Neopets has the Haunted Woods.
- Post-Colony Drop, Faerieland has become a non-dangerous example of this. We hope.
- The Tensian Forest north of Sterling is teeming with gates that periodically allow anything from simple steam, to outright Eldritch Abominations into the normal world. Located in the forest is the guild HQ of Dire, who devote an entire division to patrolling the forest 24/7 for anything...terrifying. The only reason the guild seems to stay in the forest is for its beautiful scenery (along with the fact that the officers of guild possess the skill and strength to handle anything within the forest).
- One Hundred Yard Stare: Macy might have wandered into this in episode five.
- SCP Foundation - SPC-416, the "Infinite Woods". An intersection of six-dimensional space in our three-dimensional environment, any foot travel inside of it renders the traveler unable to leave by foot. The only way of safely extracting a person it in is via air-lift. GPS trackers on personnel who enter the woods show their objective rate of traversal falling off to zero the further they go into them, even if their subjective experience is that of maintaining a constant speed.
- The Ravelwoods from The Wanderer's Library, described in detail in The Journal of Aframos Longjourney, are a textbook example.
- Marble Hornets's Rosswood Park fits the bill, complete with Alien Geometries, trees as far as the eye can see and an Eldritch Abomination from The Slender Man Mythos seemingly residing within.
- In The Gamers Alliance, the Land of the Living has had its share of ancient magical woods over the past ages. In the Third Age Survivor's Woods in Libaterra turned into a dark, magical forest when two rival Faerfolc settled into it and changed it to suit their needs while enthralling giant spiders, nymphs, treants and wisps to do their bidding. Another mysterious magical forest is Kitsune Mori in Yamato where the secretive shapeshifting foxes known as the kitsune dwell.
- The Everfree Forest in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, home to creepy trees, kaiju-sized bears, cockatrices, manticores, parasprites, at least one full-grown dragon, poison joke, literal timber wolves, and other assorted dangerous plants and animals. To the ponies, however, the very scariest thing about the Everfree Forest is that the laws of nature work differently there than they do outside of its boundaries; the plants grow, animals take care of themselves, and the clouds move — all on their own! For those unfamiliar with the show, the ponies take care of those things everywhere else.
- The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Picnic" has Gumball and Darwin getting lost in the Forest of Doom on a school picnic. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender the episode "The Swamp" features the highly magical and mysterious Foggy Swamp.
- "In the swamp, we see visions of people we've lost, people we've loved, folks we think are gone. But the swamp tells us they're not. We're still connected to them. Time is an illusion and so is death."
- In Over the Garden Wall, The Unknown is largely covered in this. The Beast lurks in the shadows of these woods, and his Edelwood trees grow in them.
- Probably the best example for the Japanese, Aokigahara, sometimes called the Sea of Trees, is an incredibly dense and hard-to-navigate forest. It's also the second-most popular site for suicides...
- Anywhere that counts as part of the Boreal Forest, especially in Canada. A 10-minute drive out of your local Northern town, and you find yourself literally facing the same countryside that the first settlers had to deal with. Great for hiking and hunting. Can overlap with the Ghibli Hills, especially in summertime.
- The Trans-Taiga Highway in Quebec is 362 miles of unpaved road through the taiga forests.
- Most parts of eastern and northern Russia. Especially the taiga, a.k.a. The Other Green Lung of the Planet. There are thousands of kilometers of unpaved and badly-paved roads through the taiga forests, with settlements few and far between. And that's the settled area. Futher north, there are no roads, only directions. Evenkia and Western Yakutia, for example, have no permanent roads, only zimnik (seasonal roads that become available when mud freezes in winter).
- While not as vast and sparsely populated as the East Siberian taiga, the Scandinavian and Russian taiga (which includes the central and northern parts of Sweden, Norway and Finland, and the northern part of Eastern European Russia) definitely counts.
- The Black Forest in southern Germany. Supposedly named because the tree covering is thick enough in some areas to kill all light.
- Finland. As the Russians found out, the inhabitants not only included more than one Savage Wolf, more to the point, a more dangerous type of predator.
- Though most of these woods have been rather tame industrial forest for nearly a century. Wood was Finland's main export followed by paper, until consumer electronics were invented. But in the dead of winter it doesn't make much difference.
- Even in an area like the Blue Ridge Mountains, with civilization relatively close by, it's deceptively easy to get lost if you're dumb enough to start wandering off the trail.
- The Amazon Rainforest. Go in without a guide (preferrably a native) and it's a fair guess you won't make it out.
- The Red Forest. So called due to the staining of the trees by a caesium isotope during the Chernobyl disaster. It actually has a higher incidence of mutation in its trees, leading to gigantism and albinism in the plants, leading to pretty surreal landscapes. Being hideously radioactive has ensured that exploration is few and far between.
- The south-western corner of Tasmania is still pretty much uninhabited even today - and its World Heritage Zone listing bids fair to keep it that way. It's sufficiently densely forested and isolated that it's possible that thylacines still survive in it, and we'd never know...
- We could probably list the entirety of southern New Jersey, with the exception of Atlantic City. Driving down the Pine Barrens roads at night can easily give you the impression that you're somewhere in Lovecraft Country.
- The pines have reclaimed several small towns. Wander through the wrong section of the barrens, and you might find bits and pieces of what used to be houses...
- The contrast is probably more highlighted with Jersey's usual depiction in media as an industrial Place Worse Than Death. You think nature's going to save you now?
- A whole lot of the surprisingly sparsely populated tropical African nations. Drive an hour away from any major city and you might as well have gone back to the stone age. Just miles of badly paved (if paved at all) hills, swamp, and jungle.
- And instead of wolves and bears, there have leopards (though only in a few nations), snakes,surprisingly scary forest elephants and giant spiders! Luckily, if you do come across a village (and are in one of the better countries) someone probably has a phone you can borrow.
- Hawaii's Highway 137, which is utterly surrounded by deep jungle. Yes, that tiny, windy, one-way trail is officially a state highway.