Follow TV Tropes


Death Mountain

Go To
"It's called Death Mountain 'cause YOU WILL DIE!"

A stage in a video game, particularly platformers, that takes place on a mountain or similarly high, rocky place. Thankfully, the usual problems of low air pressure are generally not found in these stages. Instead, natural hazards include falling rocks, crumbling ledges, rope bridges, and of course, very, very long drops. High wind may be a hazard in some places as well. Enemies may include eagles or other high-flying birds, Bighorn rams, yetis, and whatever nasty things the world may have living in the inevitable caves.

Death Mountain is commonly merged with other areas. For example, the Lethal Lava Land version is of course a volcano, while others are snow-covered peaks. It's usually quite late in the Sorting Algorithm of Threatening Geography. Often also a Monster-Shaped Mountain. Despite the name, it is not portrayed as being the opposite of the real life Death Valley.


Named after the recurring area in The Legend of Zelda series. See Scaling the Summit for instances when actual mountain climbing is depicted.

Video Game Examples

    open/close all folders 

  • An Untitled Story has the Curtain and Highlands, which precede the former. The Curtain has the game's usual jumping puzzles complete with lethal ghosts, while the latter has a constant danger in the form of falling rocks.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The titular Death Mountain in The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, A Link Between Worlds, Breath of the Wild, and Hyrule Warriors is typically found in the northeast of the map, highly volcanic, and made up of complex series of ledges and plateaus that need to be navigated using a small maze of stairs and caves. Frequent hazards include falling rocks, pitfalls and steep areas, lava, and dangerous enemies like fire-breathing Lynels and Tektites that leap across ledges with ease. The Gorons, a people who can eat rocks and wade through lava, typically make their home here. In Breath of the Wild, Death Mountain is home to fire monsters and has lava lakes everywhere, and the extreme heat will set Link on fire unless he has protection.
    • In games where Death Mountain doesn't appear, a very similar area often will instead:
      • Tal Tal Heights, in Link's Awakening, serve the same gameplay purpose as Death Mountain, with the same appearance, maze-like layout and enemies.
      • Ikana Canyon in Majora's Mask is a tall, rocky landscape cursed with an evil aura that was unleashed from Stone Tower due to the Skull Kid's meddling. As a result, many undead enemies roam it, thus overlapping this trope with Big Boo's Haunt. Stone Tower itself also has some mountain-themed motifs, such as large boulders that roll towards the bottom, stone platforms that have to be activated with weight-sensitive switches, and pillars Link can latch onto with the Hookshot.
      • Dragon Roost Cavern in The Wind Waker is an example of the classic volcano subtype. When you put the Map of The Wind Waker on top of the Map of Ocarina of Time, several familiar places (like the Deku Tree) are in the same location. Dragon Roost and Death Mountain share their spot on the maps. We find out that there's a reason why some things are in the same places: the game's setting is a flooded, post-apocalyptic Hyrule and the islands were the old world's highest places, all that survived. Though it's not stated outright, Dragon Roost probably isn't just similar to Death Mountain.
      • Interestingly, when Death Mountain appeared in the original game, it was just set up like the rest of the dungeons in the game. However, it's found in a rocky part of the overworld with the expected falling rocks and hopping Tektites.
      • Skyward Sword has Eldin Volcano. It's obviously the same old Death Mountain, just a long time in the past. It's filled with lakes and streams of lava, and is hot enough that Link will need to wear protective clothing to avoid taking damage from the heat. It's mostly home to fire-themed enemies, and features multiple paths and caves blocked with rubble that must be cleared with bomb flowers.
      • The Minish Cap has Mount Crenel. It features Death Mountain's usual ledge maze, and menaces Link with falling boulders and leaping Tektites.
    • Some games, in addition to Death Mountain or an analogue, also feature icy mountains covered in snow and ice, often in the map's northwest.
      • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has Snowhead, frozen over with unnatural cold and home to white wolves and icy bats.
      • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has Snowpeak, where you fight the same sort of wolves alongside skeletal ice-people and encounter friendly yetis.
      • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has the Gerudo Highlands, a snowy mountain right next to the Gerudo Desert, and the Hebra Mountains, a maze of icy peaks in Hyrule's northwest. The extreme cold will hurt Link unless he has cold-resistant clothing or consumes an item that grants the same effect.
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has the Cliffside area of planet Bryyo. Justified as the large chasm it is close to is the result of the planet remaining badly affected by the war between its former inhabitants. It and the Thorn Jungle area are still part of the inhabitable 4% terrain within a Tidally Locked Planet, though.

  • Alpiner takes place entirely on mountain slopes.
  • Jet Force Gemini has the Single-Biome Planet Rith Essa. where the main characters (Lupus at first, then Juno and Vela eventually) fight a horde of Drones who overrun the rocky crags. One of the later levels, Ascent, has a part where the currently-chosen character has to fly (with the help of Jet Pads) between very tall rocky pillars standing above the cloudy chasm. The last level is set inside an Underground Level instead, as it's a mineral mine where Vela has to look for an important item (and do so with a Tribal disguise).

    Eastern RPG 
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm has Mt. Dramatica, the main dungeon in Chapter 3. Expect a lot of climbing around on cliffs, pushing boulders, dodging falling rocks… and fighting robots built by the Mad Scientist who’s holed himself up in a cave at the summit.
  • Death Peak in Chrono Trigger is another snowy version. Your first obstacle is even passing through a very windy area without getting sent back to the start.
  • Dragon Quest IX has the Heights of Loneliness and a volcano, the Magmaroo.
  • Etrian Odyssey V has the second stratum, Jagged Reach, an orange rocky landscape overrun by wild creatures, including a gigantic monster (the Primordiphant) that must be avoided at all costs until the postgame when it's fought in Bonus Boss form during a sidequest. In this place, there are stone columns that can be knocked down to either make way through the floors, or incapacitate a F.O.E. (and deplete part of their HP in the process). Be warned that a specific kind of F.O.E. can do the same thing against you, however.
  • Final Fantasy:
  • Monster Hunter has Heaven's Mount, which debutes in the fourth generation. It is home to several Flying Wyverns like Rathian, Rathalos, Tigrex and Seregios. Close to this location are the Sanctuary and the Speartip Crag, Boss Only Levels where Elder Dragons are fought.
  • Mother:
  • In Pokémon, it is usually home to Fire, Rock, and Fighting-types, and of course Zubats in the caves. It can also be home to Poison-types (if it's a volcano), Ice-types (if it's high enough to be snow-capped) and the Hiker trainer class, and tends to be associated with powerful trainers, Legendary Pokémon, or both.
    • Mount Silver in Pokémon Gold and Silver and its Heartgold and Soulsilver remakes. There are no falling rocks, but the wild Pokémon are annoying enough, and then you face Red, the highest leveled trainer in any game to date, when you reach the top.
    • Mt. Chimney in the Hoenn games, a towering volcano that dominates the region, something especially noticeable in the Sky. The lake of lava at its summit was home to Groudon in Emerald, and the Pokémon that live on and in the mountain include slugs made of lava and Numel and Torkoal, who are essentially walking volcanoes themselves. The mountain’s presence is heavily felt in northwest Hoenn — three separate Routes wind through Mt. Chimney’s roots, volcanic ash litters Route 113 to the north, and Lavaridge Town, on its slopes, cannot be reached except by flying or cable car, due to unclimbable ledges.
    • Also in the Hoenn games, Mt. Pyre, hollowed out to make a cemetery, combines this trope with Big Boo's Haunt. At the top, you can find the Red and Blue Orbs which awaken Groudon and Kyogre.
    • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl:
      • Mount Coronet. You have to slog through several dungeons (bring plenty of Repel), battle Team Galatic mooks, and then encounter the version's legendary at the top, at Spear Pillar. And if you're playing Platinum, you go right from there into the Distortion World.
      • Stark Mountain is that way too. It's full of falling ash, lava pits, and high level wild Pokemon (especially the Koffing and Weezing that like to explode in your face). There's a big cavernous maze inside, and Heatran waits at the end.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon have the snow-capped Mount Lanakila, the highest mountain in Alola. Traditionally the place where the island trial was completed by challenging all four island kahunas, it is now home to Alola's new Pokemon League and Elite Four. It is also home to unique Ice-type variants of Vulpix and Sandshrew which developed their new typing to adapt to its cold environment, and Crabrawler will evolve into the Yeti-like Crabominable when leveled up here.
    • In terms of the spinoff games there is the Volcano in Pokémon Snap, home to an egg which hatches into Moltres.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Eldam Mountains (also a Slippy-Slidey Ice World) in Ys III, Ice Mountain and Fire Mountain in both versions of Ys IV, and Grana-Vallis Mountain in Ys VI.

    First Person Shooters 
  • In Unreal Tournament, both the DM-Morpheus and DM-Plungemap maps are set at the top of skyscrapers so high that gravity is low. For some reason, no one wears oxygen masks or cold-weather suits.
  • DM-Peak from UT99 is a tiny wooden monestary wound around the top of a rocky spire with rickety bridges over long drops. The new, planetside CTF-Face(ing Worlds) in UT3 might also count.
  • The Nature Park in Water Warfare. It has damaging geysers (with delicious tempting items on top nine times out of ten), and its boss is even a cave girl.

  • Demon's Souls: The Stonefang Tunnels, a huge maze-like series of tunnels that earned the nickname "Tunnel City."

  • "Tempest's Spine" is a raid in Dungeons & Dragons Online where you enter the base of a very, very tall mountain (surrounded by fire elementals and lava), work your way past many traps, respawning mobs, an underwater cavern and ambushes to the summit to meet an insane giant that controls the weather. One wrong strike from him and you will be flung off the summit. Without a "feather-falling" item, you'll get a quick and fatal understanding of the height of that mountain. But having a feather-falling item on if knocked off means that you're sailing far away from the mountain's base and to enemies that are unlikely to be nice to you as you try to regroup with your party.
  • Guild Wars:
  • Kingdom of Loathing: The Big Mountains, especially Mt. McLargeHuge, where you can fight things like ninja snowmen and seven-foot-tall dwarf miners. Its peak, where you can only go if you have very high cold resistance, is full of yetis instead.


  • Panel de Pon and Tetris Attack have their respective final battles set in a mountain cavern, which PdP actually calls Death Mountain.
  • The island of The Witness has a relatively tall mountain overlooking its southeast coast. It's also The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, as the whole game involves activating at least 7 beacons in order to unlock the mountain's summit.

  • Sonic Drift 2 has Dark Valley, which serves as the third track of the Purple GP and first track of the Blue GP. Falling off the edge of the track results in a claw having to put your car back on it.
  • The Stunt Race FX level Big Ravine is set in a massive chasm complete with lightning and falling rocks.
  • Mario Kart:
    • Mario Kart 64 has Choco Mountain, a brown canyon based on Chocolate Island from Super Mario World. It returns in Mario Kart DS as a retro track.
    • Mario Kart: Double Dash!! has DK Mountain, in which the drivers hop onto a barrel cannon to be shot towards a large gray mountain and then go back to the start line to complete each lap. It returns in Mario Kart Wii.
    • Mario Kart 8 has Shy Guy Falls, in which the drivers have to go through a large waterfall with anti-gravity.
  • F-Zero has the Red Canyon, which has only been featured in the 2D games so far (save for Chapter 2 of GX's story mode).

    Rhythm Games 

    Rom Hack 
  • Something: Worlds 4 and 6 in Something Else take place on the mountain mentioned in the intro. In World 4, Luigi has to deal with Yoshis, Killer Bills, a very dark cave, and an underground mine. Luigi has to stop the invasion of the mountain village by Von Toad II and his frog cronies. In World 6, Luigi has two ways to approach the last castle. On one path, Luigi has to deal with exploding bullet birds and slippery ice blocks. On the other path, Luigi has to deal with slippery ice physics and plenty of platforming perils.
  • Muncher Mountain, the third level in Super Mario World: Piranha Island, takes place on a very rocky mountainside. The first half is covered in thorns and hungry Munchers, so Mario has to take a Rocket Pipe Barrel to navigate it. If the pipe barrel touches anything dangerous, the barrel blows up and kills Mario, no matter what status he's in.

  • Cuphead: Rugged Ridge, a level set in an area of precarious mountains and ruins featuring bottomless pits, steep ridges, a ruined castle, and a population of mountain goat miners, Evil Living Flames, ooze monsters, dancing satyrs, miniature dragons, and a giant cyclops lurking in the ruins.

    Shoot 'em Up 

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • The Krasnogorje mountain in Metal Gear Solid 3. It's high up enough that the air is lighter, and as such Snake's stamina drops faster in this area.

    Western RPG 
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Zion Canyon from Honest Hearts. On a smaller scale, the main game has Black Mountain and Mt. Charleston/Jacobstown, both of which are irradiated Super Mutant strongholds.
    • Back when it was actually a mountain, what is now known as Big Empty used to be this. Despite their good intentions for the progress of humanity, the facilities inside the mountain had created many, many dangerous weapons, creatures and machines. Some examples include the giant Roboscorpions, the incredibly venomous and totally sterile Cazadores and Nightstalkers, the Cloud that corrodes everything it touches including those who inhale it, and weather machines capable of producing skin-tearing sandstorms. Not only that, but many of the test subjects were in fact Chinese prisoners from the war times who were forced to live in the mountain's concentration camps. Fast forward to where the game takes place, not only have the creations begun escaping the labs, but the remaining head scientists that had lost their sanity long ago are dangerously close to discovering how to leave the mountain and taking their experiments to society.
  • The natural habitat of the Fire Dragon in Gothic II. No actual lava, as the volcano seems to be dormant, but plenty of long drops and an assortment of fire-related nasties to battle - although the latter can be avoided by transforming into a bug and just crawling past them. They ignore anything that small. It's possible to make it all the way up to the crater and the dragon itself without a single fight.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Red Mountain in Morrowind is a variation: the main dangers, instead of being very long drops, are the creatures infected with blight and corprus emanating from the crater. The Dagoth Ur Facility also has Lethal Lava Land elements. It is supposed to be much wider than it is tall. The entire island of Vvardenfell is, in fact, Red Mountain with its outer slopes.
    • Skyrim sends you up the Throat of the World, the highest mountain in all of Tamriel. It is quite a bit easier to die from very long drops than what was the case with Red Mountain, which is rather encouraging, considering Red Mountain is supposed to be the other contender for highest mountain on the continent.
  • Child of Light has the Cliffs of Erin, which require the assistance of the living mountain Magna to reach, because Gameplay and Story Segregation prevents Aurora from simply flying there.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Dwarf Fortress:
    • Mountains are one of the biomes generated in worldgen, marked by high elevation, jagged terrain and impassable cliffs. You cannot start a fortress there, and you cannot cross mountain tiles in adventurer mode unless you can fly. Besides regular mountain wildlife such as mountain goats and yaks, mountains are also home to yetis, good and evil gnomes, giant eagles and rocs.
    • There are also volcanoes, which are essentially freestanding mountains with a large tube full of lava reaching from the lava lake at their top to the magma sea at the bottom of the map. One the one hand, they provide easy access to otherwise difficult-to-obtain magma and obsidian. On the other, they allow various types of fire elementals to make their way from the magma sea to your fortress.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 has a variation of a sort: The final quarter of the "Red Dead Redemption" mission if you go with John involves the Pinkerton gang attacking you on a mountain while you're trying to escort John out to safety. Once the Pinkertons are defeated, Micah launches an attack on you, and you have to fistfight your way to a draw. And in the ending, if he doesn't kill you already as long as you're in High Honor mode, the tuberculosis definitely will while you're watching the sunrise.

Non-Video Game Examples

  • Discworld: The Ramtops are a high mountain range extending from the edge of the Disc all the way to its Hub. They’re extremely high, steep and craggy, and while flat land is plentiful most of it is also vertical. What kingdoms there are are built on ledges and cliffs along the edges, with the plot-important kingdom of Lancre clinging to one of the largest. The higher crags are home to trolls, dwarves live under most mountains, and the peaks near the Hub, full of reclusive monasteries and yetis (essentially trolls with asbestos wool for fur), rise even higher than the rest, eventually reaching the icy spire of Cori Celesti, home to the gods, at the very center of the Disc.
    They rose tier on tier, speckled with snow, trailing endless pennants of ice crystals high overhead. No one skied in the high Ramtops, at least for more than a few feet and a disappearing scream. No one ran up them wearing dirndls and singing. They were not nice mountains. They were the kind of mountains where winters went for their summer holidays.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The Mountains of the Moon are a high, harsh mountain range that surrounds the Vale of Arryn and makes it impossible to invade, with the only path through, the High Road, being often no better than a stony track and completely impassable in the winter. Rockslides are common, and the peaks are infested with barbarians and vicious shadowcats. The Eyrie, the castle of House Arryn, is perched high on the Giant's Lance, the highest peak in the mountains, and can only be reached by a long, difficult climb up a steep, narrow goat trail. This makes the Eyrie completely impregnable to attack — unless you can fly.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The map at the beginning features a range of peaks named the Death Mountains in the far north. More generally, the mountains that have to be crossed in most quests in Fantasyland tend to feature impossibly high, sharp peaks and steep cliffs that don’t seem to have ever been eroded, leading Jones to conclude Fantasyland has never gone through an ice age. This is where you’ll find dwarves, who have likely hollowed out a few of said peaks for their Fastnesses, as well as cliff-dwelling clans that live alongside telepathic eagles and hawks.

  • The Night At Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky.
  • The mountain Monkey in "Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey's Head" on Demon Days by Gorillaz.
  • Billy the Mountain in "Billy The Mountain" from Just Another Band from L.A. and "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary" from Studio Tan (1978) and Läther (1993), both by Frank Zappa.

    Theme Parks 
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Expedition Everest's Forbidden Mountain at Disney Theme Parks is as close as you can get to this trope in Real Life.
    • The former at Paris is even closer. Your train actually goes through broken trestles, falls through a bridge that has been washed out, a flooded cave, and an earthquake.

    Western Animation 
  • The Dragon Prince: The Cursed Caldera is an extinct volcano rising high above its surrounding peaks, dominating the skyline as a looming presence over the horizon. Its sides are crossed by deep ravines, precarious paths and steep cliffs, dotted with dead trees and infested with horrifying monsters. The people who live in the nearby village are terrified of it and won't go anywhere near it, even though a miraculous healer is said to live at the mountain's peak. In truth, the monsters are nothing but illusions conjured up by the peak's resident, who is simply a skilled illusionist rather than a healer.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Mount Everhoof, the mountain on whose peak Gusty the Great hid Grogar's bell, is a high, snowy crag prone to sudden avalanches, buffeted by harsh winds that make flight impossible, cut by deep ravines and home to dangerous monsters. Nobody can reach its peak alone.

    Real Life 
  • Above 8,000 feet is where there's insufficient oxygen to sustain human life, appropriately called Death Zone. Fourteen mountains are higher than 8,000 feet, but the most famous is perhaps the Everest. And yes, people have died trying to scale it.


Video Example(s):


DK Mountain

A dangerous mountain with a sharp road and falling rocks. It's one of the harder tracks in the gamne.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeathMountain

Media sources:

Main / DeathMountain