The worst part about being lost in a maze is sometimes not the fact that it has so many twists and turns that look identical and at times seem to shift its corridors. What can really make them troublesome is that sometimes, they are the home of a vicious monster. A creature that prowls the labyrinth in search of prey, the entire maze its giant lair. Often, the creature isn't seen onscreen, with the only hints that something is living in there the bones of its victims, giant footprints, claw marks on the walls, Shadow Discretion Shots, and the occasional roar of something nearby. In many cases, this is to intensify the suspense of the one lost in the labyrinth, culminating in The Reveal Shot in which The Hero finally comes face to face with the monster.
Be warned. If the creature catches wind that someone is trespassing within its domain, it will continuously pursue its prey until either they manage to escape its lair or kill the beast. Usually in games, this beast ends up being the Boss Battle you'll have to win in order to escape. However, it is possible that the creature is too powerful for you to fight, and the only thing you can do is keep away from it; you'll die if it catches you.
This type of creature is a favorite to villains, who tend to confine monsters dangerous to even them to dungeons underneath their castles, while at the same time, employing a Trap Door to drop The Hero and his comrades into his pet's domain, thus prolonging their suffering as they feverishly try to find the way out (if the villain was stupid enough to put one innote ), while trying to keep from being found by the villain's pet.
In some frightening cases, the creature is smart enough to chase their quarry so that they'll run straight into a dead end and be cornered.
The types of monsters to reside in the labyrinths vary. It can be the classic Minotaur, a being of the giant insect family, something reptilian like a giant serpent or dragon, and even a sea monster if the lair is underwater. The beast is almost always an Animalistic Abomination or Dire Beast, but can be an Eldritch Abomination as well.
Can be used in a Trapped-with-Monster Plot, as well as complicating a Dungeon Bypass. Similar to a Dragon Hoard if the beast is guarding a vast treasure within the labyrinth. Similar to Abandoned Mine, especially if the beast's presence is a result of Dug Too Deep. Can be a variation of Sealed Evil in a Can, especially if the beast itself is searching for a way out. If the beast within the maze is a King in the Mountain, be careful not to invoke Awaken the Sleeping Giant. If the maze in question is a Pipe Maze or Absurdly-Spacious Sewer, see Sewer Gator. For beasts that are mazes, see Mobile Maze and Living Structure Monster. Similar to Isle of Giant Horrors where monsters reside on an island instead of a maze. For a wider range of monster dwellings, see Home of Monsters.
- In Kakurenbo, five demons hunt the group of children through a maze-like Ghost City in a twisted game of Hide and Seek until only one child is left. Four are straightforwardly monstrous in appearance and methods of hunting; their leader, the fifth, is far more subtle and horrifying.
- Invoked in Soul Hunter: the penultimate floor of Chou Kohei's cruise ship Queen Joka is a massive labyrinth, infested by many Yokai Sennin including a giant earthworm-man with corrosive powers and a hornet-man who uses pheromones and a bee swarm to command a small army of mummies (which are actually hollow and animated by the bees).
- During the Gourmet Pyramid arc from Toriko, the titular hero and Zebra have to explore the huge maze-like Dungeon which is the Gourmet Pyramid (Which is actually the roof of a sunken tower belonging to a huge underground palace) and find it infested with many dangerous animals, all of which are classified as special ingredients and need to be killed and prepared in a certain way. The objective of the arc, the Mellow Cola, is the tears of the biggest and baddest beast in the maze, the Salamander Sphinx.
- In Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth, one of Touhou Project's manga stories, one chapter has Reisen and Tewi getting lost in the basement of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, which is where the mentally unstable, highly dangerous Flandre happens to be locked up.
- In the Duelist Kingdom arc of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yugi and Joey fight a three-part duel against the Paradox Brothers in a special labyrinth field. Because the Paradox Brothers control the labyrinth, they set up several hazards like a ghoul that attacks from the walls themselves and a Giant Spider that emerges from a booby-trapped square in one of the pathways.
- One of André Franquin's Idées Noires comics is about a prisoner sent to a maze that turns out to be a planetoid. In a sequel comic, penitentiary officials appear in a helicopter, tell the perp that his sentence has been worsened, and proceed to airdrop a live leopard into the labyrinth.
- Mazeworld: At the center of the Death Trap-filled maze is the Doomster, a monster which adapts itself to the fears of the person who has managed to venture that far.
- Simon Dark: In the labyrinth beneath the Moss Estate which Simon and Tom have to pass through to stop the ritual the cultists are performing that will kill everyone in Gotham they run across three monsters. While they do attack the heroes Simon is able to mentally connect with them and realize the trio hates the cult too, and they all team up after the initial misunderstanding.
- Given the maze-like nature of the dungeons, this trope is unsurprisingly common in the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, with plenty of monsters roaming the labyrinths either by chance or by choice.
- In Keep of the Shadow Lord, you must enter a stone maze where a massive minotaur prowls, looking for a prey... then it's subverted when the beast proves harmless if you throw him a bone and his human master is the real threat.
- In the third book of the Gods and Warriors series, the House of the Goddess, the labyrinthine capital of Keftiu (Crete in real life), has been evacuated in response to a plague, but it's protected by a giant bull.
- Used a couple of times in the Harry Potter series:
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has the Basilisk, which resides within the titular chamber beneath the castle.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, during the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament, the Champions have to enter a magical maze with several dangerous beasts in it, including a Giant Spider, a Riddling Sphinx and a Blast-Ended-Skrewt. The film adaptation leaves the monsters out, and instead makes the maze hedge itself attack the champions with its branches and roots.
- The mysterious beast in House of Leaves stalks the explorers of the house, which quickly reveals itself to be an Eldritch Location that twists and changes around them. What the beast is is left ambiguous, with various theories in and out of universe calling it a (or maybe the) minotaur, a personification of the house, or an Animalistic Abomination.
- The Beast of London in Neverwhere is an archetypal mythical creature comparable to the alligators in the sewers of New York. It takes the form of a gigantic boar and prowls a maze far, far, beneath the city, where it also incidentally guards the prison of the angel Islington.
- In the Watership Down story "The Story of the Comical Field," El-Ahrairah goes into a maze that turns out to be home to an undescribed horror.
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Time Monster", the Kronos crystal is guarded by the Minotaur at the heart of a maze in ancient Atlantis. Jo is duped into the maze by Krasis, and the Doctor must venture into the maze and confront the Minotaur to rescue her.
- "The Horns of Nimon" features an alien monster that lives in a maze where the walls shift around to prevent anyone escaping. The Nimon looks something like a bull-headed man, and is explicitly compared to the Minotaur.
- "The God Complex" features an alien Minotaur that lives in a hotel-like maze that abducts those who have different faiths and beliefs, it's endless rooms containing the greatest fear of its prisoners to break that faith, reducing the prisoner to uttering "Praise him", allowing the Minotaur to feed on them.
- In "Heaven Sent", the Doctor finds himself in a revolving castle with a mysterious veiled creature that slowly chases him, only pausing when the Doctor confesses one of his secrets. The Doctor eventually makes it out by breaking through a wall of a substance harder than diamond that took him over a billion years to break through, having to constantly renew himself every time the monster caught him. After he escapes, the castle is revealed to have been his confession dial.
- Classical Mythology: The Trope Codifier is the legendary Minotaur of King Minos, who kept him within a gigantic labyrinth.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Two modules have a minotaur with its lair inside a maze.
- B2: Keep on the Borderlands. The minotaur has a cave complex inside the Caves of Chaos. Its caves have a spell on them that causes intruders to lose all sense of direction.
- S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Somewhere in the Caverns is a teleportation trap that sends victims to other planes of existence. One possible destination is a giant labyrinth with two minotaurs riding bulls. They will hunt down and kill anyone inside the maze.
- In some editions, minotaurs have a racial ability to never be lost in a maze, and are immune to spells that would put them inside one.
- Cultists of Baphomet, demon prince of beasts and minotaurs, sometimes honor him by constructing labyrinths, dumping victims in them, and then ritualistically hunting them while wearing bestial masks.
- Two modules have a minotaur with its lair inside a maze.
- 3D Monster Maze on the Sinclair ZX81 deposits the first-person player in a labyrinth with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The objective: escape before you become Rex's lunch.
- In Batman: Arkham Asylum, in order to obtain the spores needed to make an antidote for Joker's Titan formula, Batman has to traverse the sewers underneath Arkham Island, while being pursued by Killer Croc.
- Bubbaruka!: Several segments involve monsters stalking you throughout strange maze-like halls.
- Castlevania 64 featured a hedge maze with "The Gardener" a a scrapped playable character based on Ash from Evil Dead note . As soon as you meet up with Malus he chases you relentlessly with two unkillable hellhounds until you are both safe.
- Monsters wander five of the six mazes of Escape from the MindMaster. They're just trying to find their way out just like you, but if you bump into one, you lose a chance.
- Everhood: The Cursed Castle area has the Maze Monster, a Giant Spider who wanders the maze in the castle. If it catches you, it will throw you into a battle that you must escape.
- In Hunt the Wumpus, the player hunts the titular monster (which can be distinguished only by its stench) within a cave whose twenty rooms are connected like the vertices of a dodecahedron.
- King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow has a literal Minotaur inside a maze (it's even on the box art) that the Winged Ones chuck the protagonist into if he's tenacious and foolish enough to visit their realm. In theory, he's trying to save their princess, but mainly it's their attempt to get rid of him. However, if he manages to save the girl and get out alive, they owe him a favor.
- The The Legend of Zelda series is made up of these, with the player character having to traverse labyrinth-like dungeons to find one of the Big Bad's lead monsters.
- A good example of this is Lomei Labyrinth Island in Breath of the Wild. Several walking Guardians are Patrolling Mooks for the center corridor of the maze, while at least one stationary Guardian can be found lurking around a corner and flying Guardians patrol the top of the maze in case you try to be clever and climb over the walls. To top it off, the end of the maze drops you into a vast basement with about a dozen Guardians, which all activate at once when you open the treasure chest you land in front of.
- One level of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, appropriately titled "Lair of the Beast", involved Sly sneaking through a swamp where one of the Fiendish Five was housing a giant serpent, with Sly needing to keep ahead of it once it appeared onscreen.
- The Mole Men from Vanish serve as this.
- Debugging Destiny has Osborne, who begins the story this way. Then the maze gets destroyed.
- In the comic "The Labyrinth", a royal advisor is obsessed with building the King a labyrinth, which the King just gets annoyed with, citing he has no reason to need one. Then a guard walks in to inform the King that his wife has birthed a monster, much to the advisor's delight.
- Another has an Artifact of Doom guarded by a monster in a labyrinth. Then the monster breaks out of the labyrinth, wearing the artifact.
- Trevor (2020): What Trevor essentially becomes for the staff at the facility; between the ventilation system and multitude of corridors, part of the horror comes from the fact that he could be anywhere.
- SCP Foundation: SCP-432 ("Cabinet Maze"). The inside of SCP-432 is an extra-dimensional labyrinth made up of a complex maze of corridors. It is haunted by an unseen monster similar to the Minotaur of Classical Mythology.
- My Little Pony 'n Friends: An abominable snowman guards the icy labyrinth around King Charlatan's palace in "Baby, It's Cold Outside", and attacks the heroes when they try to cross it.