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The Lost Woods

Aragorn: 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 games.

Examples

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    Anime 
  • 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.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "Hansel and Gretel"
  • 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.
  • Snow White is abandoned in the forest.
  • "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.

    Film 
  • 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.
  • Pan's 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...
  • The Hinderlands in The Nightmare Before Christmas might possibly be this. Maybe.
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • 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 Tanis.
  • 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 respectsor 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.

    Live Action TV 
  • 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.

    Music 
  • 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.

     Tabletop RPG 
  • 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.
  • Warhammer:
    • 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.

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The Forest of Illusion in Super Mario World in which all of the standard exits simply send you around in circles.
    • World 2 in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.
    • The middle of Soda Jungle in New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U. The rest is Bubblegloop Swamp.
    • Paper Mario:
      • Paper Mario 64 features Forever Forest as the setting for Chapter 3 up to the transition to Gusty Gulch. It is haunted, after a fashion, though the scary bits serve as hints more than haunts; and the enemy population consists of Fuzzies and Piranha Plants. Like in certain incarnations of Zelda's Lost Woods, going the wrong way just takes you back to more familiar settings, so becoming irretrievably lost from Toad Town is not a concern, except for the critters...
      • Boggly Woods in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is this area with a twist: the entire area looks like a photo negative. The later Twilight Trail is dark and scary, though the ghosts don't show up until later.
    • Super Mario Galaxy has Honeyhive and Gold Leaf Galaxy, which are a bit more whimsical than your standard Lost Woods, but they do have giant bugs, lots of bees (including a power-up), and in Gold Leaf, rabbits. Enemies that are standard fare for these worlds appear too, like Wigglers and Monty Moles. Gusty Garden Galaxy is like this to an extent as well, although it's not an actual forest.
    • Tall Trunk Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy 2, in which there are various planets either shaped like trees, logs, and even a giant slide much akin to the one seen in Super Mario 64.
    • Forest Maze from Super Mario RPG, which even features a Zelda style "one of these paths is not like the others" puzzle.
    • Mario & Luigi:
    • Mario Adventure has World 4, Kuribo's Woods.
  • Mushroom Hill Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
    • Green Forest and White Jungle in Sonic Adventure 2.
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog 2 there was a level called Wood Zone that was removed late in development, some fan mods of the game include it.
  • Viridian Forest, Ilex Forest, Petalburg Woods, Eterna Forest, Pinwheel Forest, and Santalune Forest in each of the Pokémon generations. Lostlorn Forest and Winding Woods are late-game examples in Gens 5 & 6 respectively.
  • Vine Valley in Donkey Kong Country, Gloomy Gulch in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (which is also a Big Boo's Haunt), Kremwood Forest in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, and World 5 (Forest) in Donkey Kong Country Returns. Fungi Forest in Donkey Kong 64 downplays the trope — the theme is forests, but the stage has no forest-specific obstacles or hazards.
  • Mazewood in Romancing SaGa. It is also the Domain of the Forest God; Cyril.
  • Wood Man's stage in Mega Man 2, and many others scattered across the entire series. Of course, all the animals are actually robots. Sometimes so are the trees.
  • Gaoracchia Forest from Tales of Symphonia
  • Tales of Symphonia has two: besides Gaoracchia is Torent Forest, which while not as dark or creepy does require you to follow a specific path or you'll just end up wandering around indefinitely.
  • World 1: Magic Forest from Superfrog
  • The Distant Woods from Kingdom of Loathing.
  • There are many of these in Final Fantasy games:
    • Final Fantasy V had the Great Forest of Moore.
    • Final Fantasy VI had the Phantom Forest.
    • Ancient Forest in Final Fantasy VII is a sidequest example of this trope. There's also the Sleeping Forest, which is integral to the plot, and cannot advance unless you have a magic harp in your possession.
    • Final Fantasy VIII had the Chocobo Holy Land, which was not actually a dungeon but was very old-growth, very remote and very hard to reach (except by chocobo).
    • Final Fantasy IX had the Evil Forest, which was actually quite evil.
    • Final Fantasy X had Macalania Forest, which was rather unusual in that it was also always frozen. The forest is implied to be made out of crystal which, somehow, is caused by the Fayth.
    • Jugner Forest in Final Fantasy XI. There's a twist, however, in that you actually can go back to ye olden days. As such, it's incredibly dangerous.
    • Final Fantasy XII has several, including Golmore Jungle, the Salikawood, and the Feywood.
    • Final Fantasy XIII has the Gapra Whitewood.
    • Final Fantasy XIV' has Black Shroud, with Gridania deep within.
  • Rainbow Butterfly Woods in Dark Cloud 2
  • The Black Forest Bonus Dungeon in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. Listen to the flowers and you'll get through...but remember that you want to get out when you reach the last junction, or you'll never get out again.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Trope Namer is the Lost Woods. In its first appearance, it was a homogeneous maze, a trait shared by its many later appearances.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past sees the return of the Lost Woods, as well as the establishment of it being a common resting place for the Master Sword. The game also has Skull Woods, the Dark World counterpart to the Lost Woods.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening also features the Mysterious Forest (it's a little bit mysterious, says a signpost).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has a setting called Kokiri Forest, where the protagonist grows up as an outsider. Connected to the Kokiri Forest by a hollow treetrunk is the Lost Woods, where visitors, upon staying too long, would supposedly turn into Stalfos. Children who get lost end up turning into Skull Kids. Link and the Kokiri are immune to this because they all have a fairy with them, but this doesn't protect you from getting lost and wandering back to the entrance if you take a wrong turn.
    • Woods of Mystery in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Instead of having to navigate them yourself, you get to follow a cute monkey through them, probably because the path through changes each day.
    • The Forbidden Woods make up the second major dungeon in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has Faron Woods, which is very peaceful and serene until the dark forces of the Twilight Realm corrupt it. There's also the Sacred Grove, where you follow a Skull Kid from Ocarina of Time to find the Master Sword in a clearing similar to the one in A Link to the Past, and also very reminiscent of (and structurally identical to) the Temple of Time in Ocarina of Time, for good reason. Last but not least, there's the Forest Temple, which is more organic than its Ocarina of Time counterpart.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks has a brief forest area you have to navigate, with intersections where you must look at the direction the nearby tree's branch is pointing to choose where to turn. Top it off with the LAST intersection in the puzzle being accompanied by a tree designed to point OPPOSITE of where you're supposed to go (a man from Whittleton does warn you about this, though).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword brings back Faron Woods, the area that eventually becomes Kokiri Forest and Lost Woods. The main area is rather maze-like, the inhabitants are Plant People, and the Master Sword ends up resting there. However, as the game takes place hundreds of years before the other examples in the series, the area is much more open than in other games.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds sees the return of both the Lost Woods and Skull Woods as they appeared in A Link to the Past. This time, the former also includes a maze in the "enter the wrong path and you return to the entrance" style.
  • Folklore's "Faery Realm" is a cross between this and technicolor Ghibli Hills.
  • World of Warcraft features a few of these, typically anywhere Night Elves make their abode:
    • Ashenvale is a prominent example, with the lighting always at essentially night-time levels and full of things like giant wolves and big, stompy four-story walking trees.
    • Also present in a small part of the Blade's Edge Mountains where the night elves have set up their lone town (versus Cenarion Expedition outposts) in Outland, which they've terraformed into a small slice of the Lost Woods.
    • Duskwood qualifies as well.
    • Northrend adds The Grizzly Hills and Howling Fjord.
  • Lusternia has the Glomdoring forest (which in the tongue of the fae means "Forest Without Mercy"), populated by the prerequisite living trees, harpies, and angry sentient grass. There's an underground commune consisting primarily of Drow-esque crossbreeds between Elves and The Fair Folk.
  • Several stratums in Etrian Odyssey are entirely this.
  • Wiese Forest (Chapter 3) in Riviera: The Promised Land has an area like this. Cierra leads you in this direction, thinking it's a shortcut to the next area, only to have Serene berate her for getting lost. Furthermore, you have to navigate through two different sequences to get out.
  • Xenogears had the Black Moon Forest.
  • Chrono Trigger rather subverts this in that most of the forests in the game are not pristine, forming more of an urban green belt in places. However, by its famously moody music track Secret of the Forest, one could easily forget this for a moment.
  • Chrono Cross had a few of these.
    • Shadow Forest, like most of Chrono Trigger's forests, is actually very accessible to human foot traffic in the game, but retains its ancient pristine cloud forest feel.
    • Gaea's Navel is far more remote and inaccessible, located on a plateau island with steep cliffs on all sides, complete with an unspoilt Lost World on top.
  • Nearly ever World of Mana game has at least one of these, owing to the series' central environmental theme. The most pristine, ancient and undisturbed of these forests usually is home to the game's Mana Tree plot device.
    • Seiken Densetsu/Final Fantasy Adventure/Sword of Mana had the sacred land Illusia, located atop an unreachably high plateau and being home to the game's Mana Tree.
    • Seiken Densetsu 2/Secret of Mana had several of these, with playable areas being small parts of bigass undeveloped forest land covering vast stretches of the world map. The Mana Tree's forest is located on the island of Pure Land, inaccessible from the water because of high cliffs, and inaccessible from the air because of dense clouds that never clear. With its deceptively peaceful zen-like music, Pure Land actually has some of the most difficult normal enemies in the game.
    • Seiken Densetsu 3 had the Mana Holy Land, actually set apart from the main world map and occupying a separate space. It is home to—you guessed it, the Mana Tree.
      • The game also has a forest maze that hides a Hidden Elf Village; the correct trail is marked by glowing flowers at night.
      • And in Carlie/Kevin's routes, the final dungeon is hidden beyond the Jungle of Illusion.
    • In Legend of Mana, Vadise lives in such an ancient forest, and the first time you go through it, Larc sniffs out the correct direction. (In subsequent visits, you're on your own.)
    • In Dawn of Mana, the Hidden Elf Village on the Island of Illusia where Keldy grew up is in such a forest, and you discover that it, in turn, is sitting on the Mana Tree, which also happens to hold shadows from Malvolia.
  • Parts of the Earth Area in Guardian of Paradise. As it's a homage to The Legend of Zelda franchise it also has a section where it becomes a full-on maze, but you're guided by a ferret/cat you saved earlier.
  • The unofficial remake of King's Quest II had a swamp like this, but not the original game.
  • King's Quest V: Absence Makes The Heart Go Yonder! has the Dark Forest, home of a Wicked Witch.
  • Neopets contains a browser-based RPG called Neo Quest II, and the fourth act of that game takes place in the Haunted Woods. The Haunted Woods are home to a Demonic Spider living in a cave, two Friendly Neighborhood Vampires living in (very) isolated castles, a boss (or bosses) that is widely considered to be the game's That One Boss right outside of a haunted house (and there's a World Tree of sorts nearby to boot), and an Eldritch Abomination living in a bog. The Haunted Woods in the site itself gives off this vibe as well.
  • The forest of Yoshpet in Ōkami was very magic even before the dark forces moved in.
  • City of Heroes:
    • Perez Park is an abandoned, overgrown, gang-infested city park that's a Scrappy Level for a number of reasons. One of which is that there's no reason to go there, thankfully. Villainside there's Nerva, and all forest areas in the game tend to be infested with the Circle of Thorns.
    • While Croatoa isn't entirely covered in forest, it does fit the trope better with the perpetual night/twilight, fog, and various magical creatures running about. Then there is Eden, which has tree mazes filled with various mutant plant life, including trees that suddenly come to life.
  • The Nasuverse features a monster forest named the Forest of Einnashe. Anything that wanders into its fifty-year cycle manifestation is swarmed from all directions by the forest and has its blood drained.
  • Jade Cocoon takes place entirely in Lost Woods. Then the Dark World counterparts of said forests.
  • Banjo-Kazooie has Click Clock Wood, which uses the concept of season change to show the progression of various events. Logically, the level becomes Slippy-Slidey Ice World in winter. On a different note, one of the dropped levels was Fungus Forest, which was put in Donkey Kong 64 instead as Fungi Forest. There's a framed photo in Banjo's house of Banjo standing in what is presumably Fungus Forest.
  • The Living Forest from Mortal Kombat is a forest made up of trees with faces that frequently growl. Deceptions Konquest mode also implies that they may bleed red blood (as you can see some cut down trees with red stuff inside of them).
  • Golden Sun has Kolima Forest, which has a Deku Tree style dungeon, and Mogall Forest.
  • The Dark Woods of the Serpent from Shadow Warrior.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has the Brecilian Forest, inhabited by many dangerous spirits due to being the site of an ancient massacre of elves by a human army. However, the player party will be sent in to deal with a werewolf problem.
  • The Path takes place in one of these.
  • Jolly Roger Island and Bowish Island from Dubloon consist mainly of forests.
  • Brave Soul has a forest called the "Lost Woods" because people get lost in it easily. Unless they have a map.
  • Played straight in 3D Dot Game Heroes, where the first dungeon is called the Grass Temple and the second dungeon is called the Forest Temple.
  • The second level of Bujingai. Made all more interesting by the fact that it's actually a bamboo forest.
  • Jables's Adventure has a forest area. Enemies include slimes, nut-throwing raccoons, and bears. The boss is a lumberjack. There are also Talkative Loon mushrooms as NPC's.
  • Knights of the Old Republic has the Shadowlands of Kashyyyk (already mentioned under film above; also, probably not the trope), the dark and dangerous ground level beneath the homes of the wookiees on the trees.
  • Wario Land:
  • Cosmos Cosmic Adventure has a few levels set in forests, but the fourth level of episode 1 best exemplifies this trope, with its creepy-looking trees (with eyes looking out of them), ghosts, and thunderstorm.
  • There are multiple sequences of traveling through a special zone of the forest in Brave Fencer Musashi.
  • Friday the 13th has a forest maze.
  • Darkroot Garden and Basin in Dark Souls, poorly-lit, surrounded by rock walls and long drops, and home to the Forest Hunters.
  • The entirety of Magical Whip: Wizards of Phantasmal Forest takes place in the eponymous forest the wizards are trying to escape.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has a number of these scattered through its games. Go into a thick one with mist curling around the roots of the trees, half-light the only light to see by, and the odd sight of an Ayelid ruin peeking out of the trees, and you have a good example.
  • Digimon World has the Misty Trees. Native Forest is really more of a Green Hill Zone or Ghibli Hills.
  • There are two in Shining the Holy Ark. One is the second dungeon that leads to a cemetery (complete with secret underground passage). The second is just before you reach the Haunted House. In both cases expect the dead to be roaming around and for trees to pop out of the ground to attack you.
  • The Dark Forest in Catacomb Apocalypse is such a nasty example it's practically Mordor at the same time — dark and full of nasty, black, twisted trees, many of which try to kill you, and are left standing there burning, apparently staying alive in that state indefinitely, after you defeat them.
  • Wardner has enough of a horror theme to have this as its first stage. Its third stage is similar, though more open and verging at times on Lethal Lava Land.
  • The Weird Woods in Lunar: The Silver Star.
  • Not even driving games are safe from this: Deep Forest Raceway in Gran Turismo has this effect.
  • Sequoia Forest in Jet Moto 3 goes from the surface to bridges suspended hundreds of feet in the air, but you can never see the tops of the trees.
  • The island of The Witness has a wide array of biomes (especially for its small size), but it is primarily covered in temperate forests. Strangely, one of the forests is in autumn while the rest are in spring/summer.
  • A Hat In Time has the Subcon Forest, where you're immediately warned to stay on the path.
    The people here get . . . kind of crazy when they leave the path.
  • Vagrant Story has the Snowfly Forest, source of endless frustration for many a player thanks to its mazelike series of teleports. Ashley mentions that he need only follow the snowflies to escape, but people get lost anyway because it's the concentration of flies in one area you have to watch out for, not the direction they're flying.
  • Dragon's Crown has a Lost Woods called...the Lost Woods.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. features the real-life Red Forest, stated to be where most of the Zone's mutants come from. Doubles as the game's second Bleak Level, after the Wild Territory.
    • In Shadow of Chernobyl, the entire place is rife with mutants, including the nasty strain of Pseudodog, the Psy-Dog. Before you kill the Brain Scorcher, the only "human" presence to be found is the Brainwashed and Crazy Monolith troops. After you do, there are a few batches of Loners at the roads, as well as Duty and Freedom duking it out near Pripyat, but the place still remains quite hostile, with Electros, Whirligigs and bucketloads of radiation if you so much as take a step off the paved road.
    • In Clear Sky, you visit a different, actually forested part of it, one closer to the trope's basic description. It's well-known for a large clearing with an odd rock formation filled to the brim with anomalies, the Pseudogiant that lives there, the many Burnt Fuzz anomalies in nearly every tree, and the Forester. Interestingly, it's actually more peaceful and less remote than the section the Marked One treads through, with a number of Duty patrols constantly securing the area against dogs and Snorks.
  • The Forest of Hope and Forest Navel in Pikmin. Pikmin 2, besides reusing the former (renamed Awakening Wood), has Wistful Wild as well.
  • World 3 in Something takes place in the woods. It has Munchers, Spiny/Muncher hybrids, and strange eggs with enemies inside. There's a section where the leaves are flashing in many different colors.
  • Quest for Glory had three of these during its run.
    • The forest of Spielburg in Quest for Glory 1 was a rather gentle Arcadia to some extent, but there were plenty of monsters roaming around to keep you on your toes. At night, however, it turns into a real Shadowland kind of forest, with much tougher monsters and more eerie occurrences (naturally, sleeping in the forest means instant death). The shift between these two types of Lost Woods is explained through the magical protection of the fairy mage Erana, which is stronger around the town and especially during the day. At night the magic can only defend her magical garden.
    • In Quest for Glory 3, with its east-African setting, it was a vast jungle on the edge of the savannah, three days away from the Shining City. This jungle is home to Leopardmen, a primitive Tree Top Town, a World Tree, and even a Temple of Doom. It also contains incredibly dangerous monsters. Naturally, since most of the game (particularly its earlier parts) take place mostly in the savannah and city, you can expect to be told often not to go in the woods.
    • The forest of Mordavia in Quest for Glory 4 is suspiciously similar to that of the first game, and yet contains many important differences. Instead of a west-central-European Lost Wood, it's an eastern-European Überwald suffering from the increasing effect of several local Leaking Cans of Evil. It's a little creepier during the day (and somewhat more dangerous too); but it is decidedly more dangerous at night, with pretty much Everything Trying to Kill You. Except — again — at the magical forest garden which — AGAIN — was built by the very same fairy mage Erana.
    • Quest for Glory 2 had no forests, as it was set in and around a city in the desert. The role of the creepy forest was suitably filled by that creepy desert, as well as the city's own narrow alleyways (though they aren't very dangerous... usually).
  • Minecraft has the Roofed Forest biome. Among other things, it has dense, old growth trees thanks to the biome's exclusive, thick Dark Oak trees. Fungi Humongi are present as well, thanks to Giant Mushrooms. Even the forboding elements come into play, since it's dark and thick enough for mobs that burn in the sunlight to take shelter in.
  • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc has Clearleaf Forest; And just like a lot of other video games, Rayman 3's forest level is the second world of the game.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • 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 Wanderers 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.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • 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.


Hungry JungleTree TropesTree Top Town
Last Fertile RegionTropes of NatureDon't Go in the Woods
Locomotive LevelVideo Game SettingsMacro Zone
Little Red Fighting HoodFairy Tale TropesLove at First Sight
Locomotive LevelSettingsLost World
The Lady's FavourChivalric RomanceLove at First Sight
ActRaiserImageSource/Video GamesAdventureQuest Worlds

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