The Hedge Maze is a type of Maze found in ornamental gardens with walls made out of hedges, often found on the grounds of a Bright Castle, Haunted Castle or Big Fancy House. They are generally perceived as mysterious and magical, and sometimes foreboding, and if one is mentioned in a story chances are at some point the characters will have to find their way through it, perhaps while being chased or trying to beat the Villains to the center. The hedge maze often doubles as Mobile Maze and the paths paradoxically seem to move around as you're trying to navigate it. In the center is what the maze is protecting, often something magical and valuable that The Hero needs.
In mystery stories, you can count on finding a corpse in one of these. Since they're almost always a part of the gardens of a country house, you can expect the usual country house doings to be brought into it. Somebody seeking privacy goes there so as not to be disturbed, only to be permanently rendered past disturbing by a killer. Clandestine meetings are arranged, again often in the center of the maze, for important private conversations (like, say, blackmail). Lovers go there for a rendezvous. There's a house party scavenger hunt or village festival on the grounds, and one or more of the revelers goes inside. There may even be more than one trip inside the maze, especially if there's a reconstruction of the initial crime and/or a trap set for the killer.
The hedge maze was a must-have part of Western European gardens in the 16th and 17th centuries, including Hampton Court Palace in the UK. You can see maps, photos and engravings here.
Mazes in general, but especially the hedge maze, tend to be symbolic of navigating the subconscious and discovering the self. While overcoming the maze, the character confronts their own darkness and fears.
- Satori has one outside her palace in FREAKIN GENSOKYO.
- Starlight Over Detrot: The garden on the roof of High Steps Hotel is for all intents and purposes an impassable jungle navigable only by a mazelike network of small and winding paths, with the trellis overlying it preventing pegasi from taking the easy way out and flying over it. Hard Boiled, Taxi and Swift get rather badly lost in it when investigating Ruby Blue's murder.
- Laurence Olivier's character in Sleuth had one of these.
- The Avengers (1998). Steed and Mrs. Peel encounter one of these on Sir August's estate. While traveling through it Steed is attacked by Sir August and Mrs. Peel falls down a hole and is captured.
Mrs. Peel: Ah, yes, it's clear now. A love maze in a trapezoid shape. [snip] Originally late 17th century design, then copied.
- In The Shining, the Overlook Hotel has a big one. Just the place for a scary chase scene.
- In Labyrinth starring David Bowie, part of the titular maze is made of hedges.
- A hedge maze shows up in the Queen of Hearts' garden in Alice in Wonderland.
- J. J. Connington's 1927 Murder in the Maze features two corpses, one in each of the two centers of the hedge maze. In life they were successful-yet-hated twin brothers.
- Katherine Kurtz is partial to using these:
- In Deryni Rising, just after Alaric Morgan's arrival from Cardosa, Kelson arranges for his meeting with Morgan to take place in a summerhouse outside a boxwood maze. Nigel conducts him there, and during their conversation: "Morgan suddenly realized it was almost symbolic of the dilemma he now faced: convoluted, enigmatic, with new and unforeseen difficulties around every turn. Except that there was a way out of the boxwood maze."
- In Lammas Night, a hedge maze is part of the coven's outdoor ritual area. Some gates are moved when the area is being used for magical purposes, and walking the maze in the new configuration helps to prepare the coven.
- Sarah J. Mason introduced her Stone and Trewly series in 1993's Murder in the Maze. The body of a doctor's young wife is found in a hedge maze during a village fete.
- Karen Harper has a young Queen Elizabeth I as the lead sleuth in a series, including the fifth installment, The Thorne Maze (2003).
- Catherine Aird's 2009 book Amendment of Life has a gardener find a body in the yew maze he's working in, observed by his employer from an upstairs window of the main house.
- Emma Porter meets the Pym sisters in a hedge maze early in Aunt Dimity and the Duke, where they question her thoroughly about gardening. At the end of their chat, they send her to find the Duke of Penford's estate, and she finds herself drafted to restore the twelfth duchess's garden. She also finds her personal life resolved there as well.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, one of these serves as the location of the final challenge in the Triwizard Tournament. In the movie, it's downright a Living Structure Monster, removing the beasts that inhabited the maze in the book.
- In the Time Wars novel The Pimpernel Plot, a clandestine meeting takes place at the centre of a hedge maze in the grounds of an English country house.
- In A College of Magics, the villain's country house has a hedge maze that was designed and built by a wizard, and can be used as a trap where a person who goes in can't find their way out until the maze's owner lets them.
- In The Obernewtyn Chronicles a hedge maze forms the main route between the main house and the farms. It is made of greenthorn, the scent of which inhibits the Misfits' Talents.
- The Montague Rhodes James story "Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance" in More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1911) features a maze that can only be threaded by scions of the house.
- Lewis Barnavelt releases a malevolent 17th-century ghost from a crypt in the centre of the maze while on a visit to his ancestral pile in The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder.
- Discworld: Bertholt Stuttgart "Bloody Stupid" Johnson's contribution to the art of hedge mazes was to build one so small people get lost looking for it.
- Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: In Episode 2, Princesses Are Never Lost: (Everything Else Is Simply Misplaced):
a little path appeared beneath their feet. Pale green bricks fitted together in a complicated blocky pattern that led them through twists and curves. Without it, Gwen realized, they would be in trouble. The garden was a maze of hedges, with splits and forks leading every which way.
- The Ciaphas Cain novel Choose Your Enemies features a hedge maze in the local governor's orbital residence. A retainer teaches Cain's party the "childishly simple" trick to reaching the center and getting back out, but it still has a reputation for mysterious disappearances. The governor is actually the leader of a Slaaneshi cult that carries out sacrifices in the maze, and Cain has to go in there to stop them summoning a daemon. The hedges progressively mutate into Meat Moss as they get closer to the ritual site.
- In an episode of CSI: NY, the investigators find a college kid dead in one. It was the site of a banishment ceremony for a kid who wanted out of a secret group called Kings And Shadows. Another kid seized on it and killed the kid to cover something else up.
- Trigger Happy TV once pulled off a gag involving a hedge maze, some costumes designed to look like hedge walls, and an increasingly confused tourist. Watch!
- The Hedge of Changeling: The Lost is this trope's angry, abusive big brother: an Eldritch Location alternate dimension that forms the "border" between the material world and the Land of Faerie, with fey monsters, shifting paths, and thorns that snag pieces off your soul. And for Changelings, any doorway can lead to the Hedge...
- Dead Realm has this as one of the areas you can explore.
- The "Peach's Garden" track in Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii features a bit of a hedge maze.
- In Paper Mario, Mario has to navigate a hedge maze in Flower Fields to find Rosie so he can trade her a Crystal Berry for a Water Stone needed to save a dying flower named Lily.
- Banjo-Kazooie features a hedge maze in the Mad Monster Mansion level. It is a lot easier to figure out how to get through it once you realize that you can actually hop on top of the hedges themselves.
- The Interactive Fiction game Curses opens in a Big Fancy House, the grounds of which incorporate a hedge maze. One puzzle involves reaching a location that's completely surrounded by hedges.
- Super Mario Galaxy had one planet covered entirely by hedge mazes in which you have to chase rabbits there to obtain the Power Star.
- Sheep, Dog 'n' Wolf has one. It's filled with ghosts.
- In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, there's one in the Wonderland area, and you once have to chase a Heartless through the maze.
- In Castlevania 64, you see one relatively early on, and are pursued by a chainsaw-wielding Frankenstein's Monster and two stone dogs.
- One appears in Resident Evil 4, and you must find the items you need to advance while dealing with the enemies in it.
- The Sims series:
- Lanky Kong has to navigate one located in a greenhouse in the Creepy Castle area of Donkey Kong 64 to get a few normal bananas, one of his Golden Bananas, and, once that's done, spawn an Arena Pad.
- In Pokémon X and Y the Parfum Palace has four of these in its back garden. One of them hides the HM01 while you and Shauna have to chase and catch a Furfrou through another to get the Poké Flute.
- In Alice: Madness Returns, there is a hedge maze in Queensland... although the part you navigate isn't difficult, and once she's had a bite of cake (and eliminated a previously invincible minion responsible for many an Escape Sequence), you just sort of... step through it.
- One of the mazes in The Labyrinth of Time is this. Due to the titular labyrinth's convoluted layout that spans across time and space, this hedge maze connects between a construction site and a Malt Shop.
- In Mystery Case Files: Black Crown, the Crown Estate features a very large hege maze, and the Master Detective has to use a dog's guidance to avoid getting lost within it.
- In Iggle Pop!, the first world consists of hedge mazes. In fact, it is actually named "The Hedge Mazes". The later worlds' levels also are built like these, but they lack the vegetal theme.
- In Yandere Simulator, Akademi High School has a hedge maze located on the western side of the school. The player can find manga here. In the future, the player will be able to eavesdrop on students having private conversations there that contain important information.
- In Secret of Evermore, there is a hedge maze between Ivor Tower and Ebon Keep that also has a human-sized chessboard in the center.
- The Witness: The keep on the north side of the island features two different ways of activating the laser. One of them involves navigating through such mazes and inputting a specific path into the panel.
- Rollercoaster Tycoon and its sequel allow you to build these, either to a preset design or custom-made. Unfortunately, they're coded to rely on the same somewhat iffy pathfinding AI used by guests to get around the park, rendering more elaborate designs Awesome, but Impractical.
- The gardens at Halamshiral Palace in Dragon Age: Inquisition resemble one of these, with assorted side paths and hidden fountains.
- The north-west part of the maze from Grow Maze will become this after clicking on a grassy button.
- A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky: In front of Brunhilde and Solomon's mansion in Silver Spring, where Brick Jokes happen with people trapped inside:
Soldier: Why the hell did they install this maze?!
- In Chowder, an old apprentice of Mung Daal's tries to get even with him by taking Chowder to his "Deathly Maze", where he would get lost forever. Unfortunately, the plan fails because he gets lost in his own maze as well.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic the very first episode of Season 2 ("The Return of Harmony Part 1") has Discord trick the ponies into chasing him through a hedge maze where he has supposedly hidden the Elements of Harmony.
- The episode "Putting Your Hoof Down" has Iron Will (appropriately enough, a minotaur) giving a seminar on assertiveness at the centre of a hedge maze.
- One of No Heart's schemes in an episode of Care Bears involved leading the bears into a hedge maze that he had augmented with thorns.
- Ben 10: Charmcaster's debut episode had one.
- In a nod to The Shining example above, The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" parody had Bart cheating by using a chainsaw. Groundskeeper Willie gets understandably annoyed at first.
- Homer gets lost in one of these in "Stop or My Dog Will Shoot".
- An episode of The Critic has Duke with his own hedge maze, where both Pope John Paul II and Don King are lost in it and discussing ways to get out of it.