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City of the Damned

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At least the rent is cheap, right?

City of the dead
At the end of another lost highway
Signs misleading to nowhere
City of the damned
Lost children with dirty faces today
No one really seems to care
Green Day, "Jesus of Suburbia"

A literal Urban Hellscape.

When Hell is a city, it often represents the worst things you could imagine about cities: inescapable poverty, omnipresent street crime, Police Brutality, corrupt and uncaring government, arson (because what is Hell without a little fire?), factories spewing pollution in the air and drinking water, child labor, public buses reeking of piss, and all you'll have to eat are each other and that Burger King next to the bottomless pit. The biggest difference between Hell and The Big Rotten Apple is that all of the police and rich people exploiting you have red skin and horns on their heads, the pimps and prostitutes are all Succubi and Incubi and suicide isn't an option.

If Hell is divided into Circles, the City setting is usually reserved for only one of them, the rest of Hell including lush countrysides in perpetual war, oceans full of dead fish and sea monsters, volcanic calderas and pulsating caverns of blood and bone. In these cases, the urban Circle may be portrayed as being where the leadership of Hell resides. Alternatively, when all of Hell takes the form a huge city, the role of the Circles may be taken by different districts or neighborhoods dominated by a specific theme or sin — for instance, Lust may be the red-light district, Greed a financial neighborhood where infernal MegaCorps keep their headquarters, and so on.

When these cities are given names, they are often referred to as Dis or Pandemonium, after this trope's formative examples in The Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost.

Sub-Trope of Hell. See also Mundane Afterlife for similar depictions of the afterlife as similar to Earth. Not to be confused with Vice City.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Hell is a seemingly ordinary city with a gigantic eye where the Sun should be, staring down at people all the time. This renders them obsessively paranoid, vain, and violent, as each person thinks the eye's watching him alone and the smallest personal slight or accidental faux pas is rendered unbearable.
  • Hellboy in Hell depicts Hell as a sprawling and maze-like city. Other than its enormous size and convoluted geography, it actually looks fairly ordinary; if it weren't inhabited by skeletal ghosts, it would look very much like a city on Earth. However, the closer you get to the heart of Hell — and the capital city of Pandemonium — the more it begins to resemble the classic Fire and Brimstone Hell, with more imposing architecture and statuary.

    Literature 
  • In Damnation 101, Hell is presented as a massive, massive college town composed of either a massive academy teaching its demons how to eternally torture the humans that are sent there (which is all of them) or literal torture factories.
  • The Divine Comedy: In Inferno, the Sixth Circle of Hell is described as "the City of Dis", a Fire and Brimstone Hell where those most guilty of the sin of Heresy are imprisoned in flaming tombs.
  • Dr. Greta Helsing: The centre of Hell is a huge, surprisingly ordinary city on the shore of the Lake of Fire, with plenty of amenities and one Doctor Faust working at a health spa. Whether any damned souls are actually tortured there is left unmentioned, but several mortal characters have a very pleasant visit.
  • The Great Divorce portrays Hell as a seemingly endless "grey city" lit by perpetual twilight, at least as seen by its inhabitants (outsiders can see that Hell is really an infinitesimally small world created by the minds of the damned). Many of them don't even realize they are in Hell, as existence here just feels like a continuation of their life on Earth, only gradually growing worse. Anyone can create new houses or other buildings simply by imagining them, but they're all grimy, ugly, and strangely insubstantial. It's constantly raining in Hell, and the roofs do nothing to repel the water. The inhabitants go through cycles of squabbling with their neighbors, then moving away, towards the edge of the grey city, in hopes of finding some peace and quiet—and this results in the city's sprawl continuously expanding. But that process won't continue forever. The twilight is imperceptibly darkening, and the eventual nightfall represents the final judgement and the arrival of the demons. Until that time, anyone can leave Hell if they wish (on a bus of all things), but a surprisingly small number ever take up the offer.
  • Grounded for All Eternity: Hell is depicted as a suburban area for the "normal" residents (imps, daemons, oni, etc.), with only human souls imprisoned in the Pit.
  • In Paradise Lost, Pandemonium is the capital of Hell that was founded after Lucifer's rebellion, built by Fallen Angels under Mammon's request and Mulciber's instruction (who spent his time building palaces in heaven before his fall). It is described as being larger than any other human city and is made out of gold.
  • Shadow Police: In The Severed Streets, Quill discovers that under the rule of the Smiling Man, Hell is a facsimile of Victorian-era London.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, Hell is a huge city run by three demon lords (Satan, Beelzebub, and Belial) where the tops of skyscrapers are on fire and there is a lot of crime in the alleys. The demons appear to be more or less regular people, often thugs, and there happens to be a resident god, Lachesis of the Three Fates, making coins of the souls of those who are damned in the mortal world in a shop here.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Dis, the second layer of the Nine Hells of Baator, takes the form of an immense city of red-hot iron and stone. Like all planes and planar layers, it's infinite in size — someone approaching its edge seamlessly transitions to the middle of the city, with no edge in sight. Despite its immense size, the city always manages to feel crowded and oppressive, and is constantly shrouded in smoke and filled with the screams of the damned being tortured beneath its streets.
  • Exalted: Malfeas, the Demon City, sometimes simply called Hell, is the prison in which the defeated Primordials and their servants were trapped by the gods and the Exalted after the latter's successful rebellion. The Primordials were places and living concepts as much as they were individual entities, and in order to contain them the Exalted took their king, turned him inside out, and trapped him and his servants in his own tortured insides — and this twisted world-body is the Demon City itself. As it's the physical self of a living creature debased by shame and pain rather than something built by people to live in, it's rambling, chaotic, and without purpose or structure — streets widen and narrow without pattern before terminating in sudden dead ends, for instance, while towering blocks of masonry extend skywards with nothing inside them. The city also exists in several stacked layers, which Malfeas sometimes collides as a form of self-harm, and teems with hordes of demons.
  • In Nomine: A number of infernal realms have distinctly urban environments:
    • Hades, Asmodeus' Principality, is a massive urban sprawl of howling subways, flaring sodium lights, and choking smog, ringing the rest of Hell. It's portrayed as a grey police state of oppressive architecture and suspicious eyes more so than the lawless anarchy of most examples.
    • Shal-Mari, a realm shared by princes interested in the various pleasures of the flesh, takes the form of an infernal version of the Vegas strip. The red-light districts of Lust jockey for space with rows of eateries and street vendors serving Gluttony, interspersed with the theatres and cineplexes of Dark Humor and the glassy skyscrapers and glitzy gambling houses of Greed, all lit by lurid neon and cut through by streets teeming with demons and damned souls.
  • Pathfinder: Dis, the Infernal City, is the second layer of Hell. It's a metropolis of staggering size, filled with towers of iron, brass, and obsidian and monolithic buildings the size of entire mortal settlements, and home to a teeming population of devils, other lawful fiends such as velstracs and asuras, and hordes of damned souls, all under the watchful eye of Dispater, the archedevil of cities, prisons, and rulership. It even has twinned canal systems for ease of transportation, although one runs with liquid fire and the other with the memory-draining waters of the River Styx. It's given a detailed look in Distant Realms, a sourcebook dedicated to extraplanar metropolises, which describes it as one of the greatest trade hubs in the universe.

    Video Games 
  • Fallen London and Sunless Sea have the Iron Republic, a colony of devils where the laws of nature have been abolished and democratised, and the sky burns with the soul-smoke of factory engines manufacturing new laws for every new day. Laws made by and for devils are terrifying and dangerous to humans, and even trying to record what it's like to visit is described as like trying to sing wax or believe water — sometimes the words on the page turn hostile as you write them — but the infernal Red Science can build things that would be impossible anywhere else. Hell itself is said to be even worse.
  • New Hades in Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is a city set in Hell, composed of five big islands and several small ones surrounded by lava. The big islands are connected by bridges, while the small ones must be accessed by flying. In the center of New Hades, there is the Tower, a huge floating building that serves as Satan's palace. In the sky above the city, there appears to be a huge hole, which hovers right above the palace.
  • The City of the Damned in Shadows of the Damned is the setting's equivalent of Hell; a massive city set in the Underworld ruled over by Flemming where all souls sent there turn into demons under his thumb. For mortals, it exists just beyond the sound barrier on the Highway to the Underworld. The city includes plazas and living spaces, theaters, woodlands and swamps, old cemeteries, blood-filled sewers, a library, and Flemming's castle at its center.
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse: The Village of Lost Souls downplays this. A sort of "Suburb of the Insufficiently Virtuous", the souls of the dead there such as Rottytops live on in forgetful ennui. However, the genuinely hellish Oubliette of Suffering is close by, and the area surrounding the village is a Lethal Lava Land patrolled by monsters.
  • In Terraria, the center of the Underworld is a series of modernish high-rise apartments made of obsidian and Hellstone. As you travel to the edges of the world, the city gives way to seas of lava and the demons and imps become less common in favour of more animalistic hell creatures.

    Web Animation 
  • Hellaverse:
    • Hazbin Hotel is set in Pentagram City, the capital of Hell and a massive metropolis where lawlessness and mindless self-indulgence reign, populated by demons who at one point or another were humans whose sins sent them to Hell. Once a year, a temporary fix to the Pride Ring's Overpopulation Crisis in the form of a yearly culling by angels occurs, inspiring Charlie to create the Happy Hotel to help rehabilitate demons.
    • Helluva Boss: While not much of Imp City, where I.M.P.'s offices are located, is shown, much of the other Rings besides Pride are featured, with a lot of the demon inhabitants there being as if not even more corrupt, sadistic and callous as the inhabitants of Pentagram City. The Lust Ring is a Red Light District, the Greed Ring an Industrial Ghetto dominated by organized crime, and so forth.

    Web Comics 
  • Belzebubs: Sloth and Lucyfer spend their vacation at the city of Dis in Hell while their grandmother looks after their kids. Aside from the demons and the actual depictions of damned souls being tortured like in Dante's Inferno, it is otherwise portrayed as a nice tourist destination with romantic restaurants and Segway tours.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 


 
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The Greed Ring

The parts of the Greed Ring outside of Loo Loo Land seems to be populated entirely by mobsters.

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