The Underworld

The realm of Hades. Kratos comes here a lot.

Everyone goes to Hell. Everyone.
Danny Estacado: The Darkness

The Underworld is often a gloomy, depressing realm, if only because it is often depicted as being Beneath the Earth. (The fact that people go there after they die might have something to do with it, too.) Still, it isn't evil. It's not Hell. All of the dead come here, whether they were saints, total jackasses, or just kinda so-so in life. Some versions of the Underworld judge the dead and grant them different living standards (or unliving standards, if you prefer) depending on their conduct in life. In others, there's no real judgment, and life—or whatever—continues much as it did before. Possibly they receive, in due course, a chance to go back.

See also Heaven and Hell, the Underworld's more exclusive counterparts. Despite its normally neutral nature, the Underworld, especially the Greek Mythology version, is susceptible to being Hijacked by Jesus and becoming Hell. Expect intrepid mortals to mount an Orphean Rescue for a loved one. See also Afterlife Antechamber, which is a waiting room or brief rest stop on the way to the true afterlife. Compare and contrast Mundane Afterlife.

Not so present in movies.


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     Anime & Manga  
  • In Berserk, all human characters who perish in the series (Apostles especially) end up being sent to the Abyss, a realm consisting of only nightmarish forms and a swirling ocean of writhing souls known as both Heaven and Hell.

     Comic Books  
  • The Darkness. According to Danny Estacado, a previous host of the Darkness Entity, and Nick (who is actually the true Devil that religious stories of Lucifer and The Devil are all based on) that all souls - whether they were good or evil in life - eventually fall into Hell. A rather disheartening side note is that there actually is a Heaven in the series but no human soul has ever been seen to enter it due to the fact only "beings of light" are allowed entrance.


  • Beetlejuice has the Neitherworld, which is pretty much the Underworld, with a Waiting Room From Hell.
  • The Necromongers in The Chronicles of Riddick speak of their promised land as "the underverse", an alternate plane where the dead go, and which has been visited by every Lord Marshal to have ruled their empire, gaining magical abilities because of it.
  • In Black Orpheus, a symbolic retelling of the Orpheus myth in 20th century Brazil, Orfeo is taken to a strange place where a pagan ceremony is taken place. He hears Eurydice's voice, and just as in the myth, he loses her forever when he turns to look.

     Folklore and Mythology  

  • In Greek Mythology, the Underworld is Hades, the realm of the god of the same name. Depending on their conduct in life, the dead can end up in the Elysian Fields, which are basically paradise, in the Fields of Asphodel, where they just sort of...hang out, or Tartarus, whose inmates are tortured for all eternity for crimes against the gods.
  • In Japanese Mythology, Izanagi, the father of the gods, went to the underworld to recover his wife, Izanami, after she died, but ran in terror from her when he saw she was now a rotting undead. Bizarrely, his son, the god Susano-o, on finding out his mother was there, just went to the underworld to live with her like nothing was wrong!
  • In Mesopotamian Mythology, the dead go to Irkalla, ruled by Ishtar's Darker and Edgier twin sister Ereshkigal. Ishtar tries to take over. She isn't successful, and in fact loses her beloved husband Dumuzi for six months out of the year. Sort of karmic payment for stealing Ereshkigal's husband and getting him killed.
  • In the Book of Genesis, everyone expects to "go down to Sheol" after death. The phrase suggests that Sheol is conceived of as an Underworld as opposed to a paradise.
  • In Norse Mythology, you have Hel, which like Hades is the realm of a godess sharing it's name. There is also Niflhel (Misty Hel), where the dead go when they die. Appearently that which is dead may die again.


  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian franchise:
    • During "The Phoenix on the Sword", Conan describes his people's gods: "Their gods are Crom and his dark race, who rule over a sunless place of everlasting mist, which is the world of the dead."
    • In "The Slithering Shadow", Natala is convinced that she and Conan have died, so strange is the city they find themselves in.
  • In Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy, the Underworld is characterized by strange stars and total lack of water. Late in the series, it's revealed that it's the result of a botched attempt at Immortality.
  • In His Dark Materials, God is a pretender who created an afterlife of near non-existence, where no one was happy; murderers and saints and poets and beggars all went to the same miserable, grey place.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians uses the underworld several times, although the movie interpretation is exclusively a Fire and Brimstone Hell.
  • In Literature/Riverworld, there are two afterlives: one for children who die before the age of five, and the Riverworld itself for those who die at an age where they'll be able to care for themselves once they're resurrected.
  • In The Salvation War, God had already accepted his most blindly devoted worshippers (historically maybe 10% of the population) and closed the gates of Heaven. This action had the effect of ensuring that everyone else (faithful or not) would burn in Fire and Brimstone Hell after death.

     Live Action TV  

  • In MythQuest, Alex walks into Hades to retrieve Euridice

     Stand-Up Comedy 

  • Rowan Atkinson had a sketch where he plays the Devil welcoming a batch of new arrivals to Hell, separating them by nationality, sin and religion. Turns out everyone but the Jews goes there.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Exalted's Underworld didn't exist until the titular Exalted Divided By Zero by killing the creators of the universe, who had never designed the world with mechanisms to cope with their deaths. The result was a gaping hole in existence, the Well of Oblivion, around which the remnants of the dead Primordials, the Neverborn, gathered, and a shadowy reflection of the living world formed.
  • The Underworld in the New World of Darkness is where ghosts who lose all their anchors to the living world end up. It's divided into the Autochthonous Depths, a massive underground labyrinth that bears a vague resemblance to the underworld myths of the nearest living civilization, and the Lower Mysteries, which are alien realms governed by strange laws enforced by the Kerberoi.
    • The Old World of Darkness, on the other hand, has the Dark Umbra, the place where wraiths materialize. It's split into layers; the Shadowlands, which mirror the living world, are at the top, while beneath them are a number of firmaments known as the Dark Kingdoms (America and Europe play host to the Dark Kingdom of Stygia) and an everswirling storm of unsettled spaces known as the Tempest. Below the Tempest lies the Labyrinth, which is not a nice place.
  • In Scion, the prison of the Titans drew the souls of the dead to it. When the gods noticed this - and that the dead still held a good measure of their humanity - each pantheon created an Underworld where the dead could go; as a consequence, most every mythological Underworld exists somewhere in Scion. However, the Titans' escape from their prison has caused upheaval across the various Underworlds.

     Video Games  

  • Super Mario Fusion Revival has Di Yu, a world named after the Chinese hell. Many enemies found there are either undead or demonic.
  • Mushroom Kingdom Fusion also has the Demon Realm, with levels based on Castlevania and DOOM among other things.
  • In the Fall from Heaven backstory, most souls go to an underworld-like place when dead.
  • The underworld map in the Fantasy game of Civilization 2: Test of Time.
  • The Underwhere of Super Paper Mario is actually very close to how the Underworld works in Greek Mythology. The dead that you meet there are even called "shades", and they'll tell you about how they lost their last life to spike pits. Aside from being darker, it's really not that bad of a place. (Unless you decide to take a dive into the River Twigz...)
  • The protagonist of Terranigma actually starts in the Underworld.
  • The Netherworld in Romancing SaGa. It also has Purgatory, a realm for those who choose to retain their memories of life until they abandon them and become reincarnated.
  • The underworld is one of many Netherworlds in The Multiverse of Makai Kingdom, and is implied to be the resting place of people too vile to even qualify as prinnies. It is ruled by Seedle, a former samurai who murdered his way to the top after being sent there.
  • In Lost Eden, The Valley of Mists is this for the dinosaurs, and is accessible by humans only by eating the Root of Ages. It's also where you learn the secret of the strange tablets you've been collecting throughout the entire game.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: The Dimension of Death. Implied to be a temporary holding place for souls.
  • According to Shadowman, everyone who dies ends up in Deadside- basically, hell- where they gradually lose their identities and become mindless zombies. The sole exception is the titular protagonist, due to the power of the Mask of Shadows.

     Web Original  

  • In The Gamers Alliance, the Land of the Dead is where all the spirits of the dead go regardless of their alignment. It used to be a neutral realm ruled by Dis Pater until Death took over and turned the land into the verse's equivalent of Hell with his corrupting influence.
  • Karzahni in BIONICLE, where Matoran used to be sent to for repairs. Unfortunately, the ruler, also named Karzahni, didn't do a great job, so he sent some the badly repaired Matoran away from their islands or kept them. The Turaga realized Matoran weren't coming back, so they stopped and told stories of Karzahni as a scary place where lazy Matoran were sent to.

     Western Animation  

  • The Underworld in Hercules, based as the entire movie is on Greek Mythology.
  • Adventure Time has the Land of the Dead seen in "Death in Bloom".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Big Good and sun goddess Princess Celestia put out lost dog flyers for Cerberus, and Twilight worries about the evils in Tartarus escaping. Putting something from Greek Mythology into a world that has little to nothing to do with the world of the viewer was a bit jarring. However, it definitely still counts: much much much later, the final enemy of season four was being held there and Cerberus' temporary absence so long ago was what allowed him to get free. No word on whether or not there are less nasty-looking areas for people who aren't imprisoned Big Bads, or if it's where the souls of the deceased go at all (unsurprisingly, My Little Pony doesn't bring up the souls of the deceased very often.)
  • In a Robot Chicken sketch, a man dies and finds out that everyone goes to Heaven. He passes by several people before seeing Adolf Hitler.
    Hitler: I'm just as surprised as you are.