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Eldritch Location

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"We're talking about a higher order of reality... The world they come from, the world I come from, has... more of everything. I don't think you understand yet; the light of Heaven would slash open your corneas. The music of Heaven would puncture your eardrums and drive you insane. The air of heaven would burst your lungs and boil your blood. Only spirit can bear Heaven's touch."
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In fictionland, some places just don't agree with the laws of physics, geography, and the way we understand the world.

Eldritch Locations take many forms: Lost Worlds, Wonderlands ("Wonder" is not always a good thing), Strange Planets, Incomprehensible Voids (like the Primordial Chaos), Giant Skulls of Eldritch Abominations, the insides of Eldritch Abominations, Alternate Universes, ordinary-looking buildings... basically, wherever the author decides could use some weirdness.

These are usually depicted as bad places, but not always. The ones that aren't are usually sources of Surreal Humor.

If this place is a planet or country, then it will often feature an Alien Sky, as well as Mix-and-Match Critters or Starfish Aliens by the herd. Expect all geometries to be alien or sinister, and reality to be taking the day off. However, like any self-respecting Cosmic Horror Story, you can bet this is only a small part of its fundamental strangeness.

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If it even exists in the same dimension as our Insignificant Little Blue Planet, chances are it's either outside the world entirely (and often accessible only by a Cool Gate), or located in a strange, unknown corner of the Earth. It may have never been seen by man before. If so, expect at least one character, upon seeing it, to widen his eyes and gasp: "What is this place?!"

The Big Bad may set up A Very Definitely Final Dungeon or an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield here. This kind of location ranks highly on the Sorting Algorithm of Threatening Geography, being a surreal land where things that should make sense don't and where the hero is definitely out of place. Conveniently for video games, this lets the developers set up gameplay challenges unconstrained by normal physics or geometries. A classic example is Super Mario 64, where the trope-naming Lethal Lava Land is only around halfway through and the final level is just an abstract set of platforms and structures hanging in the sky.

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Compare World of Chaos, Lost World, Dark World, Dream Land.

See also Genius Loci, Garden of Evil, Ominous Floating Castle, World Tree, Hyperspace Is a Scary Place, Bigger on the Inside, Year Inside, Hour Outside, Journey to the Center of the Mind, Ominous Clouds, and Void Between the Worlds.

Some common settings, such as the Sugar Bowl, can fall right into this trope if you think about them enough. Reality Is Out to Lunch will generally be in full effect here.


Example subpages:

Other examples

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    Advertising 
  • This BMW X4 advert has the car driving through several cities in a strange wobbly world where the earth itself undulates and waves like a rolling ocean.

    Films — Animation 
  • The eponymous House of The House (2022) is a very strange and distressing place, especially in Chapter 1. Among other things, it can be renovated without anyone inside hearing the noise, food appears on the dinner table without any sign of servants or catering staff, the upper-story corridors turn into an impassable labyrinth that shouldn't be able to fit in the building, Mabel and Isobel fall asleep in the attic and wake up to find themselves outside the drawing room, and the House somehow manages to survive the drawing room fire. In Chapter 2, the Developer seems cursed with bad luck simply by staying here, as things keep breaking and insects keep returning to the building no matter how many times the developer exterminates them, even mutating them into beings capable of impersonating potential buyers - assuming they weren't like that before. In Chapter 3, Alien Geometries return with a vengeance when Rosa falls into the basement, only to wind up in Cosmos' tent... and in the ending, the house is so weird that Cosmos is somehow able to modify it into a sailing ship with the contents of a standard toolkit.
  • Pooh's Grand Adventure:
    • The world outside the Hundred Acre Wood gradually starts to become this, albeit toned down, as the landscape becomes colorless and barren compared the usually vibrant environments the heroes tend to live. We see gray mountainous landscapes filled with dead trees and fog coated wastelands.
    • Skull, which looks like a contorted screaming face. The massive tunnels inside are filled with extensive roots, almost resembling dead oligodendrocytes and blood vessels. Face carvings appear throughout the interior with deep howling winds similiar to moaning cries.
  • The "Outside World" as seen by the Anthropomorphic Food of Sausage Party, which is a dark, cold place littered with the remains of half-eaten food and zombified corn coming out of turds. This dark, cold place is no more than the pavement of a central street in a busy city so human locales are just as amplified in the eyes of food as humans themselves.
  • Yellow Submarine: The Beatles' Liverpool abode is a grim little wharfside hovel on the outside. Inside, it's a cavernous palace with endless corridors that open into scenes from King Kong (1933), Magritte paintings, and the like, while various outsize objects, inanimate and otherwise, run in and out of doors when no one's looking. The places they visit on their journey are similarly extradimensional.

    Music 
  • In Blue Öyster Cult's "Astronomy", the viewpoint character (Desdinova, an alien puppet master) describes a place called The Four Winds Bar, which does not exist on any map, and is located "behind the clock" (outside of time). The bar is the origin of all wars, and its bizarre physical dimensions are described in vague terms of doors and windows. At the end of the song, the two women seeking Desdinova find themselves at the bar despite a lack of guidance.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Name a location originating in myths and if it isn't human homelands, chances are it is this trope.
    • The universe during the primordial times counts in any mythology.
    • From Christianity, Abaddon, an abyss that will open on Earth during the end of the world.
    • Celtic Mythology had a place called the Otherworld, the really weird home to the faeries and all sorts of mythical creatures.
    • From Norse Mythology, the entirety of Ygg-drasill (well, perhaps excepting Miðgarðr (Midgard).). Think about it. The universe is shaped like a tree. We live in one end of a branch. Where the tree grows isn't clear.
  • Almost any concept of the Afterlife.
    • The Bible actually has a lot. What they have in common is that they're not physical places, and no living being can see them. Sheol, the realm of the dead may or may not be this. Gehenna (what most people refer to as Hell these days) is the Lake of Fire which will exist literally everywhere that isn't the New Jerusalem (what most people call Heaven) or "the nations that walk in its light" after the end of the world.
    • The kingdom of Hades of Greek Mythology, which was thought to be accessible by the Real Life River Acheron in Greece.
    • The Duat in Egyptian Mythology, which was believed to be simultaneously below the earth, behind both the west and east horizons, and above/inside the sky.
    • Inuit Mythology has the Adlivun, said to lie under the sea and the earth, but only accessible through the Moon.
  • The "hollow" inside of the Earth.

    Podcasts 
  • Welcome to Night Vale, where everything paranormal is true.
  • In Alice Isn't Dead, a long haul trucker Character Narrator keeps encountering paranormal places in the course of her work, from an Evil Tower of Ominousness looming in the distance to Charlatan, a traveling Vanishing Village trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop that repeatedly violates the laws of physics in increasingly disturbing ways every time she passes through.
  • In The Magnus Archives, the titular archives rise above labyrinthine catacombs that organize and contain manifestations of primal fear. The building itself is a place of power for the acolytes of one of those forces, the Ceaseless Watcher.
    • Places touched by the other Powers tend to end up like this. One of the early stories catalogued by Jonathan Sims involves a chapel that, in complete darkness, seems to be infinitely long, with silence echoing for miles. When the lights come on... it's just another church.
  • In Midst, the universe is not as we know it. The Fold is an endless sea of microorganisms, or something like them, and it apparently reacts violently to light. Far more people live in the Unfold, which is filled with mica dust but otherwise is far more habitable. Midst is remarkable for floating right between the two.

    Radio 
  • Sometimes, the Gift Shop of The Museum of Everything will only allow you to leave if you can convince someone else to mind the shop. The museum itself might count, considering that the designer says that when he was commissioned to create a museum that would contain everything, and he realised that necessarily it must contain itself, he got a nosebleed.
  • Quiet Please!: In episode "Nothing Behind the Door", the nothing behind the door in the mountaintop cabin is...nothing. As in, an empty void of nothingness.

    Roleplay 
  • The Torn World from Dino Attack RPG, a mysterious, empty void where bricks go after they've been torn out of the Constructopedia. The dimension vaguely resembles space, but despite this, one can breathe reasonably well and there is gravity present (anyone who can't get a hold of a brick is likely to fall forever into nothingness). Also for some reason, no matter what kind of bricks are taken, they always break up into 1x1 pieces.
    • To a lesser extent, the Maelstrom Temple, which has a tendency to change its inner structure whenever your back is turned (making it very hard for one to find their way out), and it can create illusions to mess with your head.
  • Kakariko after it was destroyed by Bongo Bongo, covered with a thick miasma, and had almost everyone that lived there turned into an undead monster in Realms of Hyrule.
  • Ruby Quest: Cold Storage. Much of the whole facility, really. Especially the brig, with that growing dark pit and half of its gravity reversed.

    Visual Novels 
  • Demonbane:
    • The first game's final battle took place in a succession of these taken from the Cthulhu Mythos itself, as the sheer power being exchanged between Demonbane and Liber Legis causes "dimensional quakes" that randomly throw them all over time and space. They visit, in order: the chaotic darkness of the Void Beyond, the Great Library of Celeano, a ruined Yaddith of the far future, a living asteroid field, Prehistoric Earth, the Darkness of N'Kai, and in a couple of routes finally end up on the dead world of Yith.
    • The Shining Trapezohedron is itself an Eldritch Location, and sealed within it are all of the evil gods that Demonbane could not kill, trapped within one universe and screaming to get out. Slashing something with the Trapezohedron sends it to that universe... where that thing will be at the mercy of all those extremely angry, immortal, evil beings.
    • The sequel's villain turns Arkham City into an Eldritch Location, as it becomes a patchwork of different time periods, urban city and wilderness melting into each other, buildings that are upside-down and right-side up and everything in between, and time moves faster, slower, backwards, or not at all in various places.
  • The Red Night in 11eyes.
  • Nasuverse:
    • The Forest of Einnashe, first mentioned in Tsukihime. It's a forest that acts like a vampire, in that it eats every person and animal that comes upon it. And yes, it can move and hunt cities on its own. Good thing it's only shown itself every 50 years.
    • It also gives us Reality Marbles. It is a high-level magical barrier that forced reality around oneself to obey your vision of the world. As a result, it turns reality within one's proximity into one's own mental landscape, allowing them to use their ultimate techniques. These are traditionally possessed by Ultimate Ones and high-level spirits.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Sweet Puttin' Cakes, a miniature golf course "every bit as messed up as the cartoon on which it's based." Residents of Free Country, USA find themselves inexplicably teleported there simply by desiring to play miniature golf. The first hole is the "worm"hole, the 18th hole has par infinity, and the only way to leave is to will yourself back to reality. When Strong Bad returns, he remarks that his mouth "tastes like backwards."
    • We could go ahead and classify the Sweet Cuppin' Cakes world (which is apparently a real location) as an Eldritch Location. Just think of the inhabitants! A Strong Bad with a keyboard head, a black-and-white-talking wheelchair, a talking worm in a hole that appears to be able to warp from place to place. There's also the fact that characters can come from nowhere and that everything appears to be able to utilize hammerspace.
  • The city of Kirlian, in The Kirlian Frequency.
  • The second chapter of Dr. Wolf's Origin Episode takes place in such a place that takes the form of a library in the middle of a vast desert. Time doesn't move in the library, as Wolf doesn't age or require food, water, or rest the entire time he's there. The structure goes on forever in any direction, smells do not grow stronger or weaker anywhere or at any time, and Wolf always sensed a feeling of intrusion, as if the library sensed he and his master didn't belong and desired to expel or assimilate them.
  • Mictlan Wood, an eerie purple tinged forest where the antagonists of No Evil have set up shop, in a complex of pueblo dwellings near the wood's center. The whole place is filled with surreal undead creatures, living dolls, and flying, insect-winged skulls. It also appears to shift location, with entrances and exits to the wood appearing and disappearing throughout the series.

    Real Life 
  • The page quote from Zauriel, above, well describes the surface of the Sun. The innards of a star, the depths of a gas giant, the structure of a neutron star, and the vacuum of deep space all feature mechanical properties that are incomprehensibly alien in comparison to the natural laws as we know them. Small and frail is the magical bubble in which we live and thrive.
  • Singularities in general are this in whatever system they might manifest in. Simply, a "singularity" is an instance in a system where the normal rules of the system are inapplicable.
  • Notable cases of singularities include Black Holes. Also, Calabi-Yau space, the universe before the Big Bang, and anything beyond the universe. And the inside of an atom. Actually, the modern understanding of physics requires a lot of drugs to understand. The quantum physics as we know it doesn't allow an absolute singularity to form, even though General Relativity does, which may mean that no "true" black holes exist, whereas other theories challenge the idea of the Big Bang as the start of the Universe - it has already been all but disproved in the form it's being taught in schoolbooks, but the event's exact nature still eludes the scientists, and there are multiple conflicting theories without enough evidence to pick one over the others.
  • Planets with exotic atmospheric composition/pressure and/or sufficiently high gravity well can make for some extremely odd locations. There is one exoplanet for example that the scientists believe to be covered in boiling hot ice due to such conditions.
  • Our planet itself has one in the form of the ocean, especially deep down in the trenches.
    • Creatures born without what we would see as vital to living, pillars of sulfur belch toxic superheated smoke, the pressure so intense even thick steel can be crushed easily; and that's just scraping the surface of what's down there. Supposedly, there's more undiscovered species down there than there are extinct species.
    • Brine lakes. They are, for all intents and purposes, lakes under the ocean, complete with a shoreline. Even more mind screw-y, the density of the brine lake's surface means that any submarine that visits it can "float" on top of the denser brine lake surface. While already underwater. That's right, there is water at the bottom of the ocean; scientists found Goo Lagoon!
    • There is also the phenomenon of deep-sea gigantism, as well. For unknown reasons, with theories ranging from greater energy conservation, to protection against the pressure and cold of the deep sea, several animal species grow several times larger than relative species in other parts of the ocean. Such creatures include giant isopods, Alicella, the Japanese spider crab and various forms of giant mollusk, such as the seven-arm octopus and the giant squid. While many of these creatures are more or less larger versions of animals found elsewhere, it only adds to the strangeness of the abyssal ocean.
  • Conceptualizing how the world appears to animals with radically-different Bizarre Alien Senses — echolocation, electroreception, vibratory sense, etc — can reveal how different even an ordinary room must seem to them.
  • Antarctica. So many things make this place this. From four month summers and four month winters, places that look similar to Mars, hurricane winds that constantly happen with category 5 winds happening once every winter, green lights constantly appearing, it is one weird place.
  • The Darvaza gas crater. Geologists broke through to a huge gas cavern, decided it was too dangerous, set it on fire, and left it burning for over 40 years. It's literally called the gate to hell.
    • Similarly, there's the Eternal Fire of Baba Gurgur. The fire itself isn't as spectacular as the crater at Darvaza, but it's been burning there for 2,500 years.
  • The Brocken, a mountain in northeastern Germany, has been the setting of all sorts of supernatural stories, including numerous tales of witchcraft and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust. It is a genuinely weird place, with the most precipitation, fog, and persistent snow cover in all of Northern Europe (only the Alps has more snow), extreme winds (highest recorded is 163 mph), spooky optical illusions, animals that aren't found anywhere else outside of the Alps, and plants that would be more at home in Iceland or Scandanavia. It's also a very popular tourist destination, complete with a steam railway up to the top.
  • To a newborn baby, the outside world must seem like this. They go from spending their entire existence in basically a dark, wet, warm, cave to a (usually) well-lit and often uncomfortable world filled with huge creatures they aren't sure they can trust.
  • The basement at Chernobyl under what's left of Reactor Number Four. While constructing the containment facility, workers encountered something around one corner that caused their Geiger counters to go crazy. It turned out to be formed from the molten remains of the destroyed reactor, called "The Elephant's Foot" due to its shape. Anyone within view of that lump receives a lethal dose of radiation within seconds. That basement - hell, all of Reactor Four - is considered one of the most lethal locations on the planet.
  • The Well of Barhout is a hole in Yemen whose depth is unknown and filled with gas that drives people crazy. The locals are convinced demons live there and are too scared to even speak of the hole. For those reasons, it's also known as the "Well of Hell." As is described by Salah Babhair, the premier geologist of the area:
    We have gone to visit the area and entered the well, reaching more than 50-60 metres down into it. We noticed strange things inside. We also smelled something strange... It's a mysterious situation.


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The Quantum Realm

A dimension beyond the human comprehension of space and time that can be accessed by shrinking down to subatomic levels.

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