Vanishing Village

A plot that features a location that only appears or is accessible for certain periods of time. Frequently the home to a Lost World or civilization, it is usually found accidentally by "outsider" characters. Common features of the subsequent plot include one of the outsiders falling in love with a native, and/or the outsiders being required to leave within a certain period of time, or be trapped there.

Many examples are in reference to the 1947 musical Brigadoon, about two American tourists who stumble upon the mysterious town of the same name.

Compare The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The anime series Brigadoon: Marin and Melan has the same name as the play in the title and a world sort of similar to it. It also has robot gunsword-slingers from another dimension.
  • The second Read or Die manga (Read or Dream) featured a ghost library that appeared to the living once every ten years. Of course, you could visit it all you liked after you were dead, as long as you brought your books back on time.

    Comic Books 
  • Legion of Super-Heroes
    • One issue of DC's post-Zero Hour Legion of Super-Heroes features the planet Steeple, which is somehow only accessible for a limited period of time every ten years due to a black hole. Legionnaire Karate Kid ends up missing the window out of reluctance to leave an injured teammate, although they both ended up getting rescued anyhow.
    • Tyroc in the 1970's came from the island of Marzal, which had a similar problem, the name Brigadoon even being referenced in the story's title.
    • Pre-Crisis Planet Rokyn had just such a relationship with the universe.
  • Captain Marvel Jr. visited the "City in the Mirage," which appeared once every thousand years, in a 1975 Shazam comic that also saw his older counterpart visiting a future where giant rats have taken over the world.
  • Done in Sonic CD and later the Sonic the Comic series about the mysterious planet that appears during a yearly eclipse and disappears when it ends, with the majority of the plots being focused on escaping the planet before it fades back into whatever dimension it came from. Averted by Robotnik in Sonic CD, who chains Little Planet to Earth.
  • The Usborne Puzzle Adventure book The Vanishing Village has the protagonist searching for a village of this sort (as the title may suggest).
  • One of these makes an appearance in Black Moon Chronicles. Demons use the protagonists' unwitting stay there to stuff main character Wismerhill's first girlfriend into the fridge.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The film version of Brigadoon.
  • Pleasant Valley, in Herschell Gordon Lewis' "B" horror film Two Thousand Maniacs!
  • The Disney Channel Original Movie Halloweentown claims that the eponymous magical town is only accessible one night of the year (no points for guessing which night). At the end of the sequel, the heroes manage to use the Power of Love to force open the portal indefinitely.
  • In the 2009 horror movie Ghost Town, a gang of Satanic cultists wiped out an Old West town and then committed ritual suicide. The town then vanished into a pocket dimension. Every thirteen years, on Friday the 13th, the town reappears and traps any travelers who wander in, then the ghosts of the cultists terrorize and kill them For the Evulz. According to notes left by previous victims, if the travelers can't escape or break the curse by morning, the town will vanish, leaving them trapped for thirteen years and most likely killed by the ghosts long before the town reappears.

    Folklore & Legends 
  • Common in folk stories about The Fair Folk, regarding the way into Fairyland.

  • While it's never been relevent to the stories, The Discworld Companion claims the country of Chimeria (which gets referenced briefly in The Colour of Magic, and never gets mentioned again) is a brigadoon, as is the Lost City of Ee (which is why so many adventurers have discovered it, only to lose it again almost immediately).
  • Forever After, an anthology with Roger Zelazny's name on front, features an assassin on a quest to take a magical artifact back to its resting place, after the Big Bad has been defeated. This city comes and goes, and no one is sure if he'll make it out. He doesn't. Also the Big Bad wasn't really dead, and it was his plan to send away the artifacts that could have defeated him—instead of being defeated, he had possessed the body of the hero and become King.
  • In The Secrets of Droon book City In The Clouds, the floating city of Ro only appears once in hundreds of years, and the heroes (and the villains) are in serious danger of getting stranded there.
  • In the Deverry series by Kathrine Kerr, the dwarven island of Haen Marn teleports away when its inhabitants are threatened, disappearing for years at a time until ithe island deems it safe to return
  • The Humanx Commonwealth novels apply this trope to an entire planet, Quofum.
  • Nils in the book Nils Holgersson visits Vineta, a city sunk into the sea for its vanity, during the one hour each century that it reappears above the waves. In this telling, the curse will be lifted if during that hour any of Vineta's merchants can sell anything to a living creature. Too bad Nils has no money with him, and when he runs to fetch a rusty coin he remembers seeing on the beach, the hour ends and the city disappears.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The planet Meridian appears only once every 60 years.
  • Farscape has an episode with a group of planets at the centre of a time anomaly where time passes much faster than in the wider universe and which only become accessible for an hour or so every fifty-five years. It is suggested that since the spaceship Moya is part-way into the anomaly, it may be experiencing a milder but still serious level of time displacement.
  • Played mostly straight (as straight as the series could muster, anyhow) in the second season episode "Brigadoom" of Lexx, which was also a Musical Episode.
  • The characters in Sliders are driven from one dimension to the next by the fact that each world is essentially one of these. Though this is only because of a malfunction with the device they use to go from world to world. If it worked right, they'd be able to come and go as they please.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted has a spell specifically to produce the Brigadoon effect.
  • In the GURPS Infinite Worlds sourcebook, places like Brigadoon are referred to as 'shiftrealms', and range from the archetypal 'town from the mists' to a subway car that always knows where its passengers need to go.

    Video Games 
  • In the Castlevania games, Dracula's castle (and the man himself) return every 100 years... in theory. In practice, various cults are always resurrecting them sooner.
  • The city of Dawn in Ultima III. "Dawn lasts for but a brief moment." Minus the "must escape or be trapped" part... the city's got a really favorable timeflow differential.
  • Illusion Village in the first Robopon game.
  • Pokemon Ruby/Saphire/Emerald features Mirage Island, a mysterious island that has a roughly 1 in 10,000 chance of appearing in Route 130 every day. Emerald also features Marine Cave and Terra Cave, which periodically appear and disappear in random locations.
  • The Baten Kaitos series has Mira, an entire island that periodically fades in and out of existence and cannot be reached in Origins for this reason, and Sedna, a town that was completely turned to magnus and can be restored as a Side Quest.
  • The eponymous continent of Ys in the first two games, and the lost city of Kefin in V.

    Western Animation 
  • Spoofed in an episode of Beetlejuice, "Brinkadoom", where Beetlejuice and Lydia get stuck in such a place, a "sleepy little town" (pun intended) that vanishes when all its inhabitants fall asleep.
  • There is an example of this in Adventures of the Gummi Bears called "Gummadoon".
  • 101 Dalmatians: The series has one of these. Not only does it only appear every thousand years or so, it brainwashes any who enter into thinking they always lived there.
  • The fortress-city Tambelon from My Little Ponyand Friends appears for about a day or so every five centuries, during which the evil goat warlord there, Grogar, attempts to conquer the world. When he appears during the series' present, he loses his power (at least temporarily) and his army, meaning that the next time he reappears he will be a much lesser threat.
  • The season 3 premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic revolves around the Crystal Empire, an entire kingdom that vanished a thousand years ago, thanks to its evil ruler King Sombra casting a curse as he was overthrown and sealed away.
  • Castle Captor in The Smurfs is a Haunted Castle that appears every 500 years to capture those who are foolish enough to enter its gates, and tries very hard to keep its captives from ever escaping before it disappears.
  • Jem has this in one episode, in which they find shangri-la, and learn the curitive music, the city disappears after they leave, and the misfits cant' find it.
  • The Pink Panther: One episode of the series featuring a non-silent Pink features an Arabian kingdom cursed to only appear once every 500 years. The curse will only be broken if the Sultan marries an outsider.