How comfortable would you be with moving into the old Evil Overlord's citadel? Or spending the night in Count Dracula's vacant coffin? Maybe you would fancy a dip in the old dunking pond where the witch was finally defeated? If you feel that some unspeakable lingering evil will come to claim your soul and send you into damnation if you even think about doing these things then you have the right instincts.
Evil leaves a sticky trail, and even after it's been gone for ages, that trail will have left traces in the places it frequented. A realm, structure, or space that was once evil or had an evil presence within it will always have the possibility of some evil residue lingering just beneath the floorboards. The place may have been repurposed by the forces of good, but make no mistake, there are still tiny dregs of evil left in the bottom of that barrel. The effects of whatever the dregs are may not manifest right away, they may even take centuries to appear, but when they do, whoever is renting out Evil's Old Apartment will find themselves dealing with a far more insidious threat than usual.
The dangers also tend to have a higher mortality rate than whatever the scope of the work is used to dealing with. In extreme cases, the current inhabitants might find themselves facing a pissed-off remnant of the previous occupant.
While the things left behind can be anything between belongings left by the previous evil, to malicious magical remnants lurking in the walls, all of them, without fail, will be extremely well-hidden and easily missed by any initial scan. However, obvious things like garbage or chemicals that the previous occupant didn't properly dispose of may also rear their head as some kind of threat. The most likely places characters will find residue, when it does manifest itself, will be in the basements, attics, and storage spaces of the structure. In cases where the evil residue is not centered around an object or location, it may be present throughout the entire residence in the shape of a curse.
Canny villains can even weaponize the residue by leaving a Fail Safe or Soul Jar in a dusty corner of the building. Not-so-canny villains can just take the option of leaving a malevolent curse that persists after their departure/demise. The most common cause of attacks, however, is people unearthing and tampering with physical remnants of the previous evil.
This trope lends itself more readily to magical settings, but it can also fit into the world of sci-fi through things like failed experiments or viruses in the system. One may try to break the curse or cleanse the evil that has taken root in the place, but such things are never easy (if even possible in some settings), and usually require something extraordinary, such as divine intervention or a World-Healing Wave.
Compare Sealed Evil in a Can (for when a presence is sealed within a place), Leaking Can of Evil (for when the originator of the evil is not directly present but is still is an active part of the threat), Murder Into Malevolence (when an act of evil taints a being instead of a place) and Villainous Legacy (for when the work of a villain lives beyond them). See also Unholy Ground. See Residual Evil Entity for when evil "taint" gets "washed away", but winds up as another creature later, and Fantastic Fallout, for when intense magic use permanently alters or taints a location.
Contrast Indian Burial Ground for when a site is actively haunted by a presence.
- In Inuyasha, after the mortally-wounded bandit Onigumo sold his soul and his body to become Naraku, the spot where he formerly lay was left corrupted, and even fifty years later, nothing grows there, even as moss has overrun the rest of the cave.
- Judge Dredd: While hiding out in the Mega-City following Necropolis, Judge Death briefly occupied a room in the Sylvia Plath block managed by the virtually blind and deaf Mrs. Gunderson. After he moved on, his evil presence left a psychic mark on the place, causing a homicide and suicide epidemic that led to virtually the entire block being abandoned.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): Cosmos is so powerful that she leaves the world mutated in horrible, grotesque ways in her wake, and they stay that way long after she leaves. The Everfree Forest, an area seen throughout the series that's full of monsters and has wild nature the ponies can't control, was created by her through her mutating a herb garden.
- The series Red Light Properties is about a psychic who makes his living going to houses with violent pasts and clearing away any ghosts or poltergeists that might have taken root there so that a real-estate agency can more easily sell them.
- At one point in X-Men, Magneto raised a previously constructed base he somehow found out about from the ocean floor. This place is said to be where arcane rituals were carried out, rituals so terrible they permanently tainted the place with evil that no force could cleanse. Nothing much seems to come of this besides young Illyana Rasputin getting dragged into Limbo and becoming Magik.
- The Demon Spiral has this happen to the Uchiha Compound post Uchiha Massacre. It was downright soaked in evil energy, and priests are hard at work cleansing it years later (it's indicated that they've only managed to de-ghost a couple major structures and traces of the evil are likely to linger for centuries at least). A couple of the ghosts attack Naruto when he goes to give Sasuke his homework while Sasuke is absent from the academy.
- Resonance Days has the Spawn Sites, enormous empty cities that simply exist in the afterlife with no known creators. The places have some sort of bad energy to them that makes those who spend too long there lose their minds, and the food, despite being readily available, should not be eaten. To make things worse, this is where recently deceased magical girls and witches wake up, meaning that if they don't find someone to give them the lay of the land quickly, they are very likely to go insane from a mix of bad energies and trauma within their first few weeks. And the kicker? No one knows why they are like this. No one creates them, there is no known reason for them to have such bad energies, and even their names (seen on streetsigns) all sound frightening and uninviting.
- The region of Etherdale has the misfortune of being located between two such spawn sites and too far out of the way for anyone to have done anything about it until recently. The result is not pretty. The vast majority of witches and magical girls who spawned in either of the two sites had nowhere to go, and ended up going insane before long, forming into groups of feral witches known as Covens. And since Clap Your Hands If You Believe is in effect in the afterlife, these covens started to influence the enviroment, turning it just as twisted and mad as themselves, on top of the already existing bad vibes. At this point, the entire phenomena is self-sustaining, and any girl unlucky enough to spawn in either of the local spawn sites is all but guaranteed to go mad and join a coven, voluntarily or not. And then some human traffickers moved in.
- In Ju-on (and its American remake The Grudge), it is established that when a particularly violent death full of rage and fear occurs in a place, that rage and fear becomes permanently bound to that location as a ju-on (or "curse" to English speakers). This ju-on takes the form of an Onryō, the Vengeful Ghost of the murder-victim that stalks and kills anyone unfortunate enough to enter their house. The sequels go on to elaborate that the victims of the curse themselves become similar ghosts and a new curse is born in the location they died in, becoming something like a supernatural plague.
- The Deadlands in An Outcast in Another World. One phrase of advice is given: don’t go there. They’re later revealed to be Blighted zones, where all life and matter quickly decays, and the air is toxic. No one can live in those areas, and the simple advice given to the main character when he asks about them is 'don't go there'.
- Septimus Heap series novel Flyte. The Dark Wizard DomDaniel despite having only occupied the rooms of the Extraordinary Wizard Marcia for a few months leaves behind a nasty taint of black magic that attempts to possesses Marcia when she least expects it.
- Harry Potter: Voldemort leaves behind a pretty nasty Soul Jar during his time at Hogwarts but his left overs are small potatoes next to the nigh demonic Basilisk the founder of the Slytherin House stored in the pipes.
- In the third book of the Graceling Realm series, it's discovered that the former ruler of Monsea (who was Graced with the ability to make people believe anything he wanted to), left a nasty taint on the kingdom for his daughter to deal with when she assumes the throne. The good old king, in addition to being Cursed with Awesome, was a creepy sadist whose favorite pastime was to torture his subjects with his gift. The fallout of having literally hundreds of people mentally tortured into believing things leaves the new ruler with the problem of having the occasional person or two go completely nuts out of the blue. Needless to say she tires of it real quick.
- This is a big magical law in the Tolkien's Legendarium.
- In The Lord of the Rings, a place contaminated by the forces of evil is forever tainted, even if it was originally built by one of the Free Peoples (one example is Minas Morgul, formerly a Gondorian city of Minas Ithil, which was so tainted by evil that the Gondorians had to destroy it rather than reclaim after Sauron's defeat). Various attempts to reclaim places such as Moria (a former Dwarven underground kingdom) invariably end in tragedy. No one makes an attempt to claim Saruman's tower of Orthanc after the evil wizard is banished: they just surround Orthanc with Ents and Huorns and make sure no one tries to squat in the tower. Only the places that were merely destroyed by Sauron's minions, not claimed as their own, such as Osgiliath and Fornost, are rebuildable and reclaimable.
- It even works if a completely nice structure is built on evil-infested ground. The fortresses built by Gondorians in Mordor to keep Sauron's lackeys from resurging, such as Cirith Ungol and Morannon, eventually withered, became abandoned, and Orcs moved in without any opposition.
- The current page quote shows that this doesn't just apply to structures but the very ground itself. The land leading up to the Black Gate were so polluted and devastated that no life would ever come there again- The Desolation of Mordor. Similarly, the Brown Lands, which used to be the gardens of the Entwives. Exactly what happened to this land to poison it so was unknown, even to Aragon.
- The biggest example of this in Tolkien's writing is when, in The Silmarillion, the whole world is tainted by Morgoth pouring his spirit into it to control it. In the early days the world was as beautiful and perfect as Valinor before Morgoth introduced evil, suffering, and decay. This also affects everyone who lives outside of Valinor, even to the present day.
"The lies that Melkor, the mighty and accursed, Morgoth Bauglir, the Power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; and ever and anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days."
- A Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane example is in A Song of Ice and Fire: the castle Harrenhal was built by the tyrannical king Harren, who died right there when a dragon roasted the castle, and him with it. Since then, everyone that has become master of Harrenhal and its attached fief winds up being destroyed in one way or another, and as a result Harrenhal itself is widely believed to be an unholy and cursed place. The mundane explanation is that Harrenhal is absurdly huge and expensive and so impossible to adequately supply and man, plus it's still damaged from the aforementioned dragon-roasting. On the magical side of things, those flaws had little to do with the fates of the last few people to own the place.
- The Wheel of Time provides us with the nightmarish hell hole of Shadar Logoth. The city was once a great and heroic city on the side of light but during a long war against the full onslaught of the Shadow - (Analog to the Devil), the city got a new counselor that convinced the people of the city that they had to be as dark and as hard as the Shadow to stand a chance. This attitude led quickly to the city abandoning all its allies to fend for themselves against the shadow and created an air of supreme paranoia within all its residents. The atmosphere of hatred within the city was literally so potent that it seeps into the foundations of the city. Fast Forward a thousand years or so and Shadar Logoth has become an Eldritch Location that serves as the only source of evil within the entire series on par with the Shadow.
- In the Hurog duology, castle Hurog is stained by the evil magic that turned the place into a Powered by a Forsaken Child building. This is implied to be the reason why an unusual high number of people don't survive their childhood there, turn mad, or have other things wrong with them. Ciarra, for example, was born mute, with no physical reason to be found. She gets better once the place is de-cursed and she goes to live somewhere else.
- Redwall: Saint Ninian's Church used to be a harmless place until Cluny the Scourge captured it and used it as a headquarters for his assaults on Redwall Abbey. After he was defeated, its former occupants never moved back in, leaving it abandoned and letting other invaders claim it during their attacks. After several generations of being a vermin base, Rollo orders it destroyed because it's become nothing but a home for evil.
- Star Wars Legends:
- In The Thrawn Trilogy novel "Heir to the Empire" it's averted in the case of the Imperial Palace as New Republic leadership ask Luke Skywalker if he can feel any remnants of the Emperor's presence before they move into the palace. However, even though the Emperor didn't leave any sort of presence behind, their moving in works against the New Republic thanks to Delta Source before it's uncovered.
- Also in "Heir to the Empire", Luke visits Dagobah to see if Yoda had left any behind any writings or other materials that could help him in training Jedi. Luke finds a beckon call in the middle of the infamous dark side cave by Yoda's former home. Upon revealing it to Leia, she tells Luke that a Dark Jedi had once traveled to Dagobah and was confronted by a Jedi there who was a member of the same mysterious species that Yoda was. When the Dark Jedi was killed by the Jedi, the cave he died in was imbued with his presence. note
- Both Leia and Mara Jade feel the remaining presence of the Emperor during their respective visits to the Endor system. Leia is particularly affected when the Falcon travels through the exact spot where the Emperor died, and is overwhelmed by the malevolence she felt there.
- The Canterville Ghost: The bloodstain on the carpet started out as Rustproof Blood from the murdered Lady du Canterville, however, Mr. Otis cleaned it up. Simon du Canterville, the titular spectre, won't have it and keeps replacing it. By using Virginia Otis's oil paints.
- H. P. Lovecraft fiction:
- The Blasted Heath in "The Colour Out of Space" is either this or Leaking Can of Evil by the end.
- Exham Priory in "The Rats in the Walls", and specifically the dark cavernous realm under it, where rampant cannibalism was practiced, drove the descendant of the family mad and caused him to revert to his ancestors' murderous habits.
- In the short story "A Hot Time in the Old Town" by Desmond Warzel, a racism fueled murder in a rental house somehow poisoned the place with hatred. After the house killed another black tenant, the house's owner never looked for more tenants. Instead, he spent the rest of his life watching over the house to make sure it didn't claim more victims.
- American Horror Story is all about this trope, due to being an anthology of horror stories all set (almost) in a specific place.
- American Horror Story: Murder House is about a haunted house that traps the souls of those that die in it ever since a Mad Scientist resurrected his deceased son, which might be actually sentient, and who ultimately manipulates its ghosts in order to orchestrate the birth of the Antichrist.
- American Horror Story: Asylum is about a mental hospital for the criminally insane which is locked in a deep history of instutional abuse and perversion that makes sure anyone locked in it just gets crazier and crazier. All the suffering and insanity even managed to make the asylum the focus point of several supernatural entities, ranging from aliens to the devil itself. In fact, the trope name was used word for word in a deleted scene for the season.
- American Horror Story: Coven is about a school for witches posing as a private all-girl academy, but which saw so much magic rituals, curses and betrayals of all kinds that it now traps the souls of the deceased in its walls.
- American Horror Story: Hotel repeats Murder House, except here the haunted house is a full haunted hotel, which was specifically built by a serial killer for the explicit purpose of being a deadly trap, and is currently under the ownership of a vampire. It got enough dark energy to actually have a demon summoned in it and becoming a resident of the building.
- American Horror Story: Roanoke is about a patch of land cursed by a mass sacrifice to the "old gods", resulting in the terrain becoming a slaughtering ground once every blood moon, haunted by not just aggressive ghosts but also Hillbilly Horrors.
- American Horror Story: 1984 repeats Murder House and Hotel, with a summer camp which, due to a curse put on it by the first ghost to haunt its grounds, is doomed to see its occupants regularly mass-slaughtered by serial killers or ghosts.
- The final arc villain of Being Human (US) involves what appears to be the ghost of a little girl revealing herself to the cast. She's later revealed to be the spirit of the house, an incarnation of the dark rituals performed in its basement in the past, involving the sacrifice of the same little girl whose appearance it currently wears. It feeds off carnage and suffering, and is active now because it's angry that the main characters are tying up all their problems and conflicts. She's eventually exorcised through great effort.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Where the Wild Things Are", a children's home turned college dorm (called the Lowell house) is tainted by the lingering psychic mojo of the sexually abused children that once lived there. The mojo manifests itself as a gang of poltergeists that heighten and live vicariously through various college students' steamy, err... interactions.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Civil Defense", a Cardassian computer program that the Federation accidentally triggers tries to kill everyone aboard the station in increasingly severe attempts.
- Doctor Who: In "Ghost Light", the events of the episode left a psychic trace in the house strong enough to terrify the 13-year-old Ace when she broke in a hundred years later.
- In the Supernatural episode "Home", Mary Winchester is killed by Azazael as her wound has infected with a telekinetic poltergeist inside her old home, which terrorizes anyone who is inside it. But when Mary sacrifices herself to defeat the poltergeist, they cancel each other out.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Just about anything corrupted by Chaos becomes this, often the only way to remove it is to destroy the planet, which the Imperium does via the Exterminatus.
- A variation with the Orks: a planet that's been invaded once will pretty much always have them, since the way they reproduce is by releasing spores on death that float around and eventually mature into even more Orks (these will either join an Ork warband or horde or, if none are available, become Feral Orks, which have a lower level of technology than the regular kind), though using fire to dispose of their corpses helps a bit. Having a completely infertile world (Forge and Hive worlds usually quickly become such) helps a lot more. Interestingly, one of the Aeldari Craftworlds actually found a way to remove the spores using reconditioned anti-gravity farming vehicles, but they hate humans so much that they aren't sharing.
- Deadlands offers a metaphysical mechanism of this trope working. In this universe, an evil place is feared by people, and things feared by people become evil because of Clap Your Hands If You Believe. So, any villain who lives in a town or house long enough to give it a frightening reputation, automatically stains his real estate and makes it evil-infested.
- There is a kind of highly destructive glom, an amalgamation of reanimated remains - organic and mechanical - which can arise out of the carnage of battlefields, and are more destructive than other types due to some of their contents being weapons, so many battlefields are given a wide berth. They're not the only things that can spawn in such areas.
- Dungeons & Dragons has variant rules for evil acts to taint the land where they occur or the objects or creatures involved in them. Depending on the magnitude of the atrocity, this could cause anything from a persistent chill to Hostile Weather to a permanent region of powerfully Unholy Ground.
- The Gates of Hell fan supplement contains lengthy descriptions for the taint in a location where a devil entered the Material Plane (wildlife scared away, other devils easier to summon and harder to control, bad weather, people dying rising as undead...).
- Magic: The Gathering has several examples, the most triumphant one most likely being Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. A legendary land that represents the final burial place of a Deader than Dead Big Bad of most of the game's early history, simply playing Urborg turns every single land in the game into a Black Magic-powering swamp.
- The Shadowlands in Legend of the Five Rings are the site of a dark god's fall and the area his taint has covered. Held at bay by the Crab Clan and the Carpenter's Wall.
- Princess: The Hopeful: Any place where an act of great evil was committed can become tainted by the Darkness, weakening those with good intentions and corrupting the souls of anyone who spends too long or experiences emotional stress within its boundaries. Fortunately, Taint can be cleansed, either by physically destroying the Tainted Placenote , or by performing deeds of goodness and hope to oppose its corruption.
- Similar to the Deadlands example above, some highly dangerous entities can come into existence on the battlefronts of Ancient Rome, both World Wars, and Vietnam, in Pinnacle Entertainment Groups' Savage Worlds settings for alternate dark fantasy versions of those eras. The horror and anguish of war seems to simply create them there.
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Ritual to return a destroyed vampire to unlife can only be cast at an "accursed location" where a large-scale tragedy occurred, such as the site of a terrible slaughter or a Ghost Town where everyone turned to cannibalism.
- Mega Man ZX: Areas M and N were the crash site of the space station Ragnarok, with which Mega Man Zero's Big Bad Dr. Weil fused himself long ago and where Model W's malevolent energies have been seeping into ever since. Said area is full of strange phenomena, including the appearance of Reploids there who should've died long ago.
- World of Warcraft:
- Areas invaded by the Legion are often heavily corrupted by fel energy - plants become sickly or die, animals are driven mad, and even water becomes contaminated. Felwood, the Badlands, and other regions are so badly tainted that even decades later they remain ruined.
- Shadowmoon Valley was a vibrant grassland until Gul'dan used the Cipher of Damnation to sever the connection between the Orcs and the elements. This created a massive fel volcano at the center of the valley which turned the entire region into a volcanic hellscape. Even decades later, the act was so vile that the memory of Gul'dan's betrayal continues to repeat itself.
- Pandaria is a continent wide example of this phenomenon. Although it looks charming, Pandaria is infested with the disturbingly powerful remnants of an exceedingly nasty Old One known as Y'Shaarj. Although he was defeated by the Titans long ago, Y'Shaarj cursed the land with his dying breath to be forever riddled with shadows of "his former self". The curse is thought to be behind the shadowy emotion eaters known as the Sha, as well as other mysterious phenomena that plague the island.
- On Draenor, the god Sethe was killed long ago but the land where his body and blood fell were corrupted beyond recovery. His blood still boils in pools between the Spires and any arakkoa who touches it is twisted physically and magically.
- The Blight from Dragon Age corrupts everything it touches. Even after the Archdemon is dead the lands the Darkspawn ravaged never fully recover as a result of the corrupting effects. Some areas of the Anderfels are so ravaged by the Blight that not only does nothing grow/live there, but also corpses don't decompose. No insects, grubs, or even bacteria can exist in such wasted places.
- Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening: The Baroness of the Blackmarsh was an Elizabeth Bathory Expy in life, and she actually became a demon to torment people further after her (deserved) death, filling the Blackmarsh with evil. While the Blackmarsh itself was able to recover after her second death, both of the people who lived upon the grounds where her house once stood died mysterious deaths. After the second one, no one ever built a house or lived on that spot again.
- BlazBlue: in the backstory, the Black Beast ravaged the world while leaving seithr, Toxic Phlebotinum that pollutes the ground and waters, and can cause deterioration of the human body and mind. After the battle against the beast (called the Dark War) is over, most of the world in the lower elevations (including the seas) have been covered in seithr, forcing the survivors to build cities in high mountains to avoid them.
- Terraria: The Corruption, Crimson, and Hallow biomes, which infect 'pure' biomes such as the forest, desert, or jungle. The former two spawn Eldritch Abominations, while the last biome is a Crapsaccharine World. Before beating the Disc-One Final Boss and entering Hardmode, these biomes can only spread through grass and foliage, but afterwards, they spread much more aggressively; if no contingenciesnote are made by the player, they're easily able to corrupt half of the overworld before the defeat of another boss slows the spreading of these biomes. The Dryad can keep track of how much of the world has been infected by these biomes and will tell you when asked, and sells purification poweder that restores purity to a small area of effect; the Steampunker, a Hardmode NPC, sells the Clentaminator, a non-combat spray gun that alters biomes on huge swathes of terrain based on what solution it's loaded withnote . You can clean up, corrupt, crimsonify or hallowify the entire world with it, in a handful of minutes.
- Thaumcraft. One of the core mechanics of most versions of this Minecraft Game Mod is "Taint", which spreads through and corrupts the world. It'ss used differently throughout each version.
- Thaumcraft 2: If an area's atmosphere becomes saturated with Taint, surface-level blocks will gradually change into Taint Blocks. In addition to making them impossible to extract usable resources from, most mobs that spawn on them will be always hostile Lightning Bruiser versions of themselves... and some of them will help the Taint spread.
- Thaumcraft 3: Taint is replaced with Flux. It still has consequences for overdoing things with thaumaturgy but no longer to the extent of the world destroying levels of taint that were possible in Thaumcraft 2.
- Thaumcraft 4: Taint is back in the shape of small biomes automatically generated in the world. Taint can be artificially spread through Flux Goo (created mostly by careless alchemy), and can also corrupt Aura Nodes, the focal points of magic that exist in the world. Fortunately, its spread can be turned off in the mod's config file.
- Thaumcraft 6: Taint does not spawn naturaly, only appearing from a Flux Rift when too much Flux is in the aura.
- Doom: If the statement that "the Demons have brought their own reality with them" in Doom II's story text is anything to go by, being tainted by evil is why none of the canon levels from the Doom series' 2D graphics era to be set in the land of the living look at all recognizably or convincingly like a real-life example of the type of location the level name suggests it is supposed to be. This trope could also be seen in the first game when going from Phobos to Deimos. The facilities on Deimos show various signs of demonic influence — rivers of blood and magma, vines growing on the walls, a blood-red sky, demonic symbols inscribed in various places, and a few rooms with surfaces of flesh and intestine, with or without skin. It all builds up to The Reveal that Deimos has been transported to Hell.
- The Suffering and its sequel are set in locations where the atrocities of the past have left a supernatural imprint on the land, eventually resulting in manifestations of hideous beings modeled upon the violence and corruption that took place there, from Carnate Island's executions to Charm City's urban decay. Worse still, it's implied that this isn't abnormal, not even in the case of the island: any location in the world that's seen enough bloodshed and torment can manifest this phenomena - all it needs is the right catalyst.
- In Ōkami, Cursed Zones are lifeless areas covered with animate shadow, rivers of ooze, and statues that used to be living people. Only gods can move freely in a Cursed Zone, and even then death awaits them if they stay too long. The Hero's only recourse is to strengthen the nature around it, at which the point the world's inherent purity will instantaneously overcome the Zone and revert it to how it used to be.
- In Total War: Warhammer II:
- The special Landmarks buildings associated with Nagash, both in his Black Pyramid and his fortress of Nagashizzar, give a very high amount of Undead corruption to the region they're in, representing how the Arch-Necromancer's magic forever tainted the place.
- The same goes for landmarks associated with Chaos, giving chaotic corruption to the areas they're built.
- Song of Horror: Locations where the Presence's titular song has played become permanently haunted by it, and anyone in these locations is vulnerable to being spirited away by its manifestations. Most of the levels take place in locations where it has been played via the music box.
- Ashes 2063: Locations in the old world that look clean and un-scavenged often contain a phenomenon called in-game by the name "background despair", that seems to originate from people dying in despair and manifests as visual and auditory effects, and mechanisms working on their own accord; in high enough concentrations, people can simply vanish. More often than not, Haunts hang around these places. Background despair makes places inhospitable enough that you find part of a military base affected by it boarded off entirely.
- In Humper Monkey's Ghost Story, the barracks Monkey calls home used to be one of the places the Waffen SS trained their Torture Technicians. The place is thouroughly haunted, causing the strange deaths of about one NCO a month. It also has the requisite areas of palpable hostility, strange sounds at midnight, nightmare-inducing qualities, and electrical phenomena (to whit, phonecalls on disconnected lines consisting of panting) associated with haunted houses.
- Luke: The Plague Son Of Nurgle: Luke's transcendent filthiness appears to have infected the room he lived in on a level that transcends the physical. Even after the room was cleansed and scrubbed, spending too long in it starts to turn a previously-human girl into another Luke.
- Episode 9 of Meme House reveals that Bonzi's dark powers been corrupting the world, making it increasingly violent and chaotic. By this point, the world is at 80% corruption.
- Amys Crypt often posits this theory for unexplained phenomena and ghost stories, which is fitting as they have had episodes set in prisons, hospitals, reform schools, quarantine stations and Port Arthur.
- The ultimate evil Overlord from Ninjago was defeated by the heroes in the middle of a crowded city in a major "final" battle that apparently destroyed the Overlord forever and created a clearing about the size of a small park. Following a Time Skip of a few years they come back to this site and discover that Cyrus Borg, an eccentric tech genius, has built a sky scraper right on top of the clearing. Through this fine fellow's Genre Blindness a remnant of the ultimate evil becomes a virus in the network of his systems.
- Played With in The Simpsons when Marge sells a murder house to her neighbors without explaining the history of the property. Of course, Marge feels guilty about this soon after the transaction, and she decides to offer them their deposit back the next time she meets with them. When she finally goes to explain and apologize about the omission she discovers that they aren't angry at her about it and are in fact delighted with the house's history. The most troubling part about it is, the neighbors exhibit a bus load of horror movie tics during the conversation. Marge and the audience can't tell if they're just joking or if an actual remnant of evil exists within the property.
- Steven Universe: Kindergartens drain Life Energy from an area, causing environmental destruction that last extremely long. The prime Kindergarten on Earth was deactivated five millennia ago, and still cannot support life—it seems to actively drain some plants put in its soil.
- The concept of Nuclear Semiotics is the theoretical usage of signs and messages to invoke this trope on future human civilizations to leave depositories of nuclear waste, which can take thousands of years to break down, well enough alone. While several non-verbal ways have been devised to account for differences in language, the verbal message is perhaps the most famous and most haunting:
This place is a message... and part of a system of messages... pay attention to it!Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.This place is not a place of honor... no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here... nothing valued is here.What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.The danger is in a particular location... it increases towards a center... the center of danger is here... of a particular size and shape, and below us.The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.
- Related to the above, any place with radiocative waste or lingering contamination is as close as you can get to a scientific version of this trope in real life - altough it's 'evil' only in the sense that it's harmful to living beings. Of particular note is the Red Forest in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, one of the most contaminated areas in the entire planet that is, effectively, a real-life haunted forest that can kill you if you stay in it for too long.
- Urban legends about St. Petersburg in Russia portray it as "a city built on bones", referring to the fact that it was built by forced serf labor and many builders died during construction, and to the city's founder Peter the Great's general cruelty (and that's not even touching the German siege in World War II, when it was called Leningrad). In these legends, St. Pete is usually the place where something mysterious, gothic and fearsome happens.
- This is sometimes the reasoning behind lowering the prices of houses where people have died in. People do not like places where people have died, even those that don't believe in ghosts. The belief that death might leave some sort of mark on a place, if not an outright haunting, has driven off many a customer from an old house.
- Sandy Hook Elementary, where an infamous shooting occurred in December 2012, was torn down for this reason.
- Likewise, there have been talks to do the same with Columbine, where a similar shooting happened.
- Likewise the home of Fred and Rose West, infamous British serial killers and child abusers. Not only was the building razed and the land turned into a memorial garden, but the street was cordoned off while the demolition work was undertaken and the rubble was taken away under police guard and buried in landfill to deter Creepy Souvenir hunters. The county did not quite go so far as to ask the local vicar to make a referral to the diocese's exorcism taskforce, but one suspects it must have been under consideration.