Follow TV Tropes



Go To
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

"Once upon a time, there was a place that wasn't a place. It had many names: Avernus, Gehenna, Tartarus, Hades, Abaddon, Sheol... it was an inferno of pain and flame and ice, where every nightmare had come true long since. We'll call it Hell."

Hell, the Inferno, Hades, Tartarus, Gehenna, H-E-Double Hockey Sticks, "HFIL", the "Shadow Realm", whatever you want to call it, is where sinners eternally suffer after they die.

Maybe it's full of fire and brimstone. Or it's the pain of nonexistence, where everyone goes when they die. It might be an evil world where the forces of darkness rule everything. Or it's an evil world where the forces of darkness are held prisoner. Or it's the Outer Darkness, with wailing and gnashing of teeth. Or it could be a dusty wasteland inhabited by dreary, half-bird people. Hell's almost certainly the opposite of Heaven, and sometimes it's portrayed as being at war with Heaven, though the theological basis for this idea is a little shaky. Sometimes Hell is reserved only for the worst of the worst, but other times, it's ridiculously easy to wind up there. Whatever else it is, Hell's almost certainly brimming with ironic punishments for the damned.

Hell is many things for many religions and philosophies, but a few pop-cultural constants have emerged over time. The standard Hell has historically been a fiery subterranean realm ruled by a Big Red Devil with horns. While this interpretation lives on in cartoons and parodies, the trend for more recent treatments almost always involves placing Hell in Another Dimension. While the exact details of Hell's environment vary depending on the source, it's always a place of suffering, meant to be inhospitable to human standards of comfort. More often than not, fire and brimstone imagery at least plays a part in the setting, though the image of Hell as a ruined, twisted version of the real world has lately become popular as well. Often Dying Dream stories in the horror genre end with the revelation that the character's actually in an Ironic Hell.

The inhabitants of Hell are usually divided between human prisoners and their demonic captors, though occasionally the demons are simply high-profile prisoners themselves, and sometimes they're the only inhabitants: modern fantasy stories and video games in particular tend to use Hell as a form of Sealed Evil in a Can, while downplaying or outright rejecting the idea of it as a human afterlife. If there are human captives in Hell, they'll typically be functionally immortal, at least while they're in Hell: after all, eternal torment wouldn't be eternal if it could really kill you. Of course, if the people damned to Hell don't have any bodies, then this might not be an issue... and it might make escaping from Hell that much easier for them. But just as often, Hell is portrayed as single-occupant only, and the damned all have their own separate versions of Hell, disconnected from each other.

In modern horror and fantasy, Hell's often given portals that can send living people back and forth between the two worlds. A portal usually serves as the vehicle for a living hero to stage a rescue of a loved one from Hell, or for someone to break out on their own. The more recent idea of Hell as a parallel reality, though, gives such gateways a more mystical aspect: whereas classical ideas used famous caves as tunnels into the underworld, modern hellgates are usually invisible until opened by magic. Sometimes the magic itself is the gateway, and can be opened from anywhere, usually via a Tome of Eldritch Lore or an Artifact of Doom.

The theological roots of Hell, and the modern pop-cultural image of it, come from a variety of sources, from Christian beliefs to Greek and Egyptian mythology to medieval literature. In more recent times, Asian conceptions of the afterlife, particularly the Chinese and Japanese ideas of Hell, have attained some prominence in the West, particularly through video games and manga/anime. The idea of a moral dichotomy in the afterlife, with different fates reserved for the virtuous and the wicked, goes back to Egyptian Mythology. Making Heaven and Hell entirely separate places is a relatively recent idea from Judaism and Christianity. Many other ancient religions gave the same bland afterlife to everyone who died, save for those lucky few favored by the Powers That Be.

The current name comes from Hel the Norse goddess and ruler of her same-named Underworld, for the same confusing reasons that the English days of the week are a mix of Norse and Roman names. In Greek versions of the Christian Bible, the aforementioned Underworld is even referred to as Hades from Classical Mythology, with the Hebrew version being Sheol. As the joke goes, this is explained by some faiths having so many sinners that they've had to export them to other religions. Granted, Sheol/Hades is presented Biblically as a temporary state of Purgatory, and not synonymous with the eternal Lake of Fire known in Greek by the metaphor "Gehenna" (also called "Abaddon").

Trying to separate the reality of Hell from its theme park version is a hopeless cause. Not only is the reality of Hell debated, but what's realistic and what's not often depends on who's being asked. Many evangelical Christians believe that Hell is a literal, lake of fire filled with evil spirits. Theologians more in line with C. S. Lewis often take the position that Hell is the willful separation of the soul from the light of God, and that any suffering beyond that is self-inflicted. Perhaps for this reason, many serious stories about Hell that are set in the "real world" won't even try to directly depict Hell, and rely more on what the characters who've been there have to say about it. Sometimes this lack of an onscreen Hell is explained by saying that seeing it would drive a person mad.

Stories that don't necessarily want to deal with the religious angle, but still want to use the basic idea of Hell for dramatic purposes, might use a thinly disguised "dimension of pain and suffering" instead. If it's a story with some science fiction elements, this'll often take the form of Hyperspace Is a Scary Place.

What Hell is like differs between adaptations, often in wildly conflicting ways.

See also To Hell and Back and The Legions of Hell.

For Hells that aren't so bad, see A Hell of a Time. For gloomy and/or subterranean afterlives that have nothing to do with wickedness or eternal punishment, see The Underworld. Has nothing to do with the real life city of Hell, Michigan.

See also Heaven and Fluffy Cloud Heaven.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk's cosmology is rather complex, but a lot of its realms would certainly seem hellish in the eyes of any mortal, particularly the Nexus, which is where the Band of the Hawk were transported following the activation of Griffith's Crimson Behelit. The actual Hell is the Abyss, where the souls of both people and demons go after death and where the Idea of Evil resides.
  • Bleach:
    • In one of the early episodes/chapters, a gateway to Hell is opened for a particularly evil hollow; it's said that only people who were unforgivably evil in their human lives go to Hell.
    • The non-serial fourth movie depicts Hell as a Dante's Inferno-ish multi-layered domain. The first level is a strange floating city-like structure with pathways, the second level is just a bunch of small islands and the third level is a series of plateaus filled with an acerbic yellow liquid. The fourth is a seemingly endless desert of blue dunes made from the remains of those who have died again. The fifth and lowest layer presents a stereotypical portrayal of Hell, complete with lava and brimstone.
    • The post-series Echoing Jaws of Hell arc reveals that deceased captains of Gotei 13 are cast into Hell following their funeral procession, because their reiatsu are deemed too risky to be kept in Soul Society. Not only they gain new titles but they become much more powerful in Hell.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Adventure: Hell is vaguely hinted at in "No Questions, Please", where Vademon tells Izzy that his curiosity makes him greedy and will have him sent to Hell ("a very unpleasant place", he says).
    • Digimon Adventure 02: The Digimon Emperor goes into the Dark Whirlpool or something like that and extracts data from Devimon, who was destroyed by Angemon in Season 1. While good Digimon are reborn whenever destroyed, it appears the evil Digimon go here.
    • In the wider Digimon mythos, we have the Dark Area, which is pretty much hell. Evil Digimon are sentenced there instead of being reborn like most Digimon, where they then become Fallen Angel or demon Digimon. This is also where the infamous Seven Great Demon Lords, who include several expies of Satan make their home.
  • An episode of the Doraemon anime has a paper box gadget which can suck people who do bad things (like lying, stealing things, wasting food, or even killing a bug) into it, where they are tortured in different chambers as in the Asian folk religion version of Hell... until they grab the white rope to get out of the gadget or tamper with the gadget.
  • Dragon Ball Z has Hell (or the Home for Infinite Losers in the English dubs). This is not depicted as torture (even has an amusement park), though if the dead villains like Frieza and Cell cause trouble, Pikkon will be sent to beat them up and lock them in prison for a while.
    • In Dragon Ball GT, however, Frieza and Cell send Goku to a new area where there is torture, where their plan backfires.
    • In the manga, apparently that is not the case. According to Piccolo, he tells Vegeta when he dies, he will go to Hell where he will remain until he is reborn as a new lifeform. In Kid Buu's case, he definitely reincarnated.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' depicts another version of Hell that Frieza was trapped in after dying: a Crapsaccharine World in which he is stuck in a cocoon and forced to commune with colorful elves and fairies while being serenaded by teddy bears. If the above is true, Frieza is definitely going to remain in Hell until he is reborn without any memories of his genocidal past.
  • Hell Girl is mostly about the titular Punch-Clock Villain and her crew sending people to hell in a variety of imaginative ways. The catch is that they do that in a mail-order magical hitman way and their customers will 100% surely also go to hell after their own death since that is the price for contacting the Hell Correspondence. The story goes to great lengths to show the horrible implications of the job and throws many Stealth Insults at things that are the norm in Japanese society, which is highly unusual for anime. Hell itself is tailored to the misdeeds of those who are sent there by others while reserving more classic torments for its clients.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Shishio, his girlfriend, and one of their cronies end up in hell, which is depicted as a dark place full of skulls... which he aims to take over from Lord Enma himself. Oh, and apparently, it's located inside of a pocketwatch!
  • The Shadow Realm in the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh!, because death is too much for children to deal with, but an eternity of being Mind Raped in Another Dimension of torment is totally kid-friendly.
  • During the Duel Coaster event in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, V uses Spell and Trap cards based on the concept of Naraku, the Buddhist Hell. (He gets rid of them afterwards, however, focusing on a science-fiction themed deck.)
  • In YuYu Hakusho, the gateways to the various Hells are in a rather distant corner of the Spirit World. Apparently they differ in punishment factor, though at least one (the one Toguro chose for himself) is ten thousand years of brutal mutilation.

  • Hell has been a popular subject for many painters, the most famous of all being Hieronymus Bosch who made some of the most memorable and creative images of the location ever.
  • William-Adolphe Bouguereau makes it clear the scene where Dante and Virgil in Hell is et by including a stereotypical demon and tinting the entire painting in reds and orange that call to mind a Fire and Brimstone Hell. This puts the horrible violence Capocchio and Shicchi are inflicting on each other in context, and in lieu of other horrors, seems to suggest a Self-Inflicted Hell.
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder portrayed Hell in "De Dulle Griet" ("Mad Meg"), where a giant woman invades Hell along with an army of housewives.
  • Auguste Rodin's The Gates of Hell do their best to capture Dante's Inferno in stone. Almost all of the figures are in poses emphasizing their terrible agony, whether they're crying in the arms of their damned lovers, fleeing from skeletons, or being crushed under the gates themselves.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU has a single Hell, although it is typically divided amongst a variety of warring rulers. The exception was for a brief time during the late '90s and early '00s, when the demon lord Neron seized total control. He was eventually deposed and demoted after making an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Heaven.
  • Zander Cannon's graphic novel Heck uses Dante's classic nine-circled Hell as the setting for a Buddy Picture with a sinister twist.
  • The Hellblazer comic book, and even more so its movie adaptation Constantine, revolves around a conflict between Heaven and Hell. Hell, in the movie version, is shown as a twisted version of reality that's filled with demons and swept up in a constant storm of Hellfire.
    • In the comics Hell falls more in line with the DCU (or at least Vertigo) conception of Hell, even dealing with events from other comics (like Lucifer leaving, and the resulting power vacuum). It's much more of a Biblical Hell, with the fire and brimstone, desiccated wastelands, and a wide variety of bizarre and horrible demons finding unique and terrible ways to torture people. It seems to work on its own internal rules, however, which mostly serve to keep the demons in check against one another, and to a lesser extent against humans. Of course, after being flipped off by Constantine one to many times the devil (not Lucifer, but the Devil) starts breaking the rules.
  • "Hell Lost" tells the story of the inevitable Counter-Revolution in Hell, as the fallen angels inevitably realize they not only got a raw deal, but that Hell, quite simply, sucks balls.
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Hell is a seemingly ordinary city with a gigantic eye where the Sun should be, staring down at people all the time. This renders them obsessively paranoid, vain, and violent, as each person thinks the eye's watching him alone and the smallest personal slight or accidental faux pas is rendered unbearable. Hell in the Johnnyverse evolved as Vasquez continued to make comics in it. While its original conception is heavily allegorical, when it comes up in Squee! it is pretty much classic fire and brimstone Hell. This is still played for laughs though, as another part of Squee's dinner with Devil and his antichrist son Pepito.
  • Marvel Comics often features an evil dimension called "Demonic Limbo" in its storylines. While technically not a part of the afterlife, its inhabitants are called demons, and it certainly looks the part. In Marvel's fictional history, Dante's Inferno was actually based on that dimension (and Dante's real adventures and battle against its ruler). The Stygian Deep, Mephisto's home realm, occasionally serves the same role, as did the dimension Nightcrawler teleports through — at least it did for one brief story arc.
    • Along with the various death gods (such as Hela and Pluto), there are multiple "devils" in the Marvel Universe. These include Mephisto, Satannish and Marduk Kurios (the father of Daimon Hellstrom). Each of them has their own segment of Hell. Due to recent events, Hela is now renting space from Mephisto's realm.
    • An interesting aspect of this version of hell is that every Demonic Entity in the Marvel universe (Sutur, Mephisto, Zarthos, etc.) has a place in a central area of hell and each's location is dependent on their power at the moment. In the center of this area the throne which each dark ruler believes belongs to the one being of absolute evil (which would be Lucifer in Christianity or the absolute ruler of evil in any other religion). The closer a dark lord is located to this throne, the higher their standing in the hell dimensions. None of them dare try to claim the throne however, as each is fearful that to do so would cause the other lords to rise up and destroy the usurper or worse, the owner of the throne (the true devil and incontestable embodiment of evil) might return.
    • Immortal Hulk introduces the Below Place, the absolute lowest foundation of all creation. It looks like an endless blasted wasteland, filled with empty husks of people's loved ones repeating what they said in life, and the One Below All. However, the narration during the Hulk's first visit posits that Hell is not a place. Hell is the absence of a loving god of any kind.
  • Nero: Nero has often gone to Hell, namely in the stories "De Hoed van Geeraard de Duivel", "De Paarse Futen", "De Terugkeer van Geeraard de Duivel" en "De Kolbak van How", though it always turns out to be All a Dream.
  • Résurrection is said to be Hell in Requiem Vampire Knight.
  • Spawn centers around Hell and its secret war with Heaven in the modern world. This version of Hell's definitely the fire and brimstone variety, with each level ruled by a different demon lord.
  • Suske en Wiske: In "De Sprietatoom" the Mad Scientist Savantas dies and his spirit goes to Hell. They refuse to take him in, though.
  • Tintin: Near the end of The Broken Ear, the two antagonists drown and are Dragged Off to Hell by grinning demons.
  • Urbanus: Urbanus went there too a couple of times.
  • Vertigo Comics, particularly The Sandman (1989), explores Hell a bit, and in particular what happens to it once the devil loses interest in watching over it. By the end of that story arc, Heaven retakes possession of Hell, and now the routine punishments are supplemented by angels earnestly and happily encouraging the inmates towards rehabilitation... which, from their perspective, makes it even worse.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • In the pages of Wonder Woman (1987) Hades' underworld realm includes Tartarus, a realm of torture, pain and bondage for spirits that have managed to piss off the Greek pantheon and wind up in Hades.
    • Wonder Woman (2011) changes Hades' to a much more dreary and horrific place overall and calls both the place and the god Hell, but with Wonder Woman (Rebirth) revealing everything from the New 52 Wonder book to have been an elaborate fake this is done away with.

    Fan Works 

  • Along With The Gods: The Two Worlds has 7 Hells as its main setting, separated based on different crimes, which derives from Buddhism. These Hells include Violence, Murder, Betrayal, Injustice, Indolence, Deceit, and Filial Impiety. The protagonist, Ja-hong, must face his crimes in each Hell in order to prove his innocence so he can reincarnate. Should he fail, he'll be creatively and cruelly punished like all those who came before him.
  • As Above, So Below features characters descending into hell to face their own personal demons under the catacombs of Paris. "Abandon all hope, ye who enter"
  • Lucio Fulci's The Beyond has a city overwhelmed by the forces of Hell, and the heroes finding that the only way out is to go right through the hellgate. There, they find an endless, mist-shrouded plain of dust littered with fallen bodies, as the narrator repeats an earlier book passage: "and you shall face the sea of darkness, and all therein that may be explored". And then the movie ends.
  • Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey has the heroes dying and, due to a mix-up during a seance, ending up in Hell. Disappointed that they were "totally lied to by our album covers" (it appears to be a series of floating rocks over a fiery abyss, with the damned sentenced to perpetual hard labor), they complain to Satan, who casts them into a personal Hell, with each one facing the embodiment of his deepest fear.
  • Drag Me to Hell: Though we only catch a glimpse of it, the movie gives us a brief but horrific sight of what appears to be a Fire and Brimstone Hell.
  • In Event Horizon, the ship's first attempt at Faster-Than-Light Travel went horribly wrong, and apparently hyperspace really is a scary place, because the original crew killed one another in really gruesome ways. According to a later character, whose sanity has slipped a little thanks to the Genius Loci of the ship, where it went was worse than Hell and that "Hell is only a word."
  • The cult horror movie The Gate and its sequel deal with a gateway to Hell, a realm of imprisoned demons who want to reclaim the world. The first movie only shows an underground tunnel, although another dimension is implied, while its sequel briefly shows a blue twilight world of rocky spires. While the first movie gives the gate a physical location, the sequel shows that the right spell can open it anywhere.
  • Ghostbusters: Dan Aykroyd's original idea for Ghostbusters III was the boys somehow ending up in a Hell-like dimension, explained as normally being hidden between the "frames" of the real world. He described it as being like New York City... during the worst traffic jam and the worst heatwave imaginable.
  • Hellraiser:
    • Hellbound: Hellraiser II depicts a gothic-looking, otherworldly area of Hell (or, at least, a very Hell-like dimension) called the Labyrinth, where the people who solve a cursed puzzle box end up. Escape is possible, and the first two movies focus more on human villains who've returned to the real world and need blood to restore their bodies than on the cenobites themselves.
    • Hellraiser: Inferno also directly depicts Hell, although in a variation. It adapts itself to the person who is being punished. Almost the entire film, which is set in Los Angeles, actually took place in Joseph's own personal hell as he was being tortured mentally instead of physically by the Cenobites. He's stuck chasing the personification of his own dark side who goes around murdering all of Joseph's loved ones for all eternity with the reminder of what he once was before falling into hedonism.
  • The Night Flier: In a departure from the short story, in the climax, Dees demands to see the vampire's face, who then sends him into a trance so the protagonist can witness a glimpse of Hell, where he's mobbed by the deceased people he profited from in his life.
  • The main character of Scanner Cop finds himself temporarily in Hell, when he uses his Psychic Powers to follow the mind of a dying woman beyond the border of life and death.
  • The Sinners of Hell, also known as Jigoku, is a relatively rare example of Buddhist Hell, and graphic enough to be the very first gorefest movie. Besides the standard Fire and Brimstone Hell, there's stuff like a river filled with pus and sewage, and demons hard at work torturing people for their sins.
  • Han Solo references Hell in The Empire Strikes Back but for a time it was unclear how it worked with the Force in place of actual deities. Star Wars Legends expanded on this, revealing that while all dead sentients entered the Netherworld of the Force, the truly evil enter a region known as Chaos/Hell/The Void and are reduced to wandering, disembodied spirits residing in perpetual madness. Though some other material contradicts this by instead stating that such a place is a myth, and instead everyone becomes one with the Force regardless of what they were like in life. While others state such a place does exist but it only occurs on the most powerful of dark side users.
  • What Dreams May Come features something of a Self-Inflicted Hell, as well as a self-created Heaven. After a journey that takes him through various sorts of twisted landscapes, the hero finds his wife, who died from suicide, living as an amnesiac in a ruined, monochrome version of their old house.

  • Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn plays this straight with an interesting interpretation of Hell.
    • In this series, it is a vast place called Nazyra and within this otherworldly super galaxy are several worlds created and maintained by the dark souls who venture there.
    • The Nine Dark Worlds of Nazyra are connected to the souls of Earth. Like its counterpart, Averya, it exists on a higher dimensional plane that overlaps the lower dimensions rather than existing apart from them.
  • The Brothers Grimm: Several fairy tales have the protagonists go to Hell and meet Satan there. Often they try to make a Deal with the Devil too.
  • Dante Alighieri's Inferno is the origin of many pop-culture ideas about Hell, such as the Circles of Hell and the ironic punishments for each category of sinners. While each Circle is different from the last, there are some things generally true of Hell: each damnation will be more painful after the Last Judgement and each of the Damned is kept exactly as they were in life. From that last part, Dante learns what a soul looks like when separated from God and how self-destructive that separation is.
  • Hell of Dora Wilk Series seems like a fairly pleasant place when we see it for for the first time, with nice houses and lovely old town, but that's just residential area. Apart from that, it seems to be a mostly barren wasteland with local overlords' residencies here and there. There's also Samael's domain where souls are recorded and tortured, and old battlefield where angelic and demonic blood never soaked into the ground.
  • In Eric, the Fire and Brimstone Hell is of the typical variety, with lakes of fire, terrible demons, and souls in torment. The thing that the demons hadn't realized, though, is that, lacking physical bodies, the whole lakes of fire and iron maidens business doesn't actually hurt the victims. The newest demon king attempts to turn the whole thing on its head by instituting new torture in the form of extreme boredom and pointlessness.
  • Will Leicester's Hell's Bells series is (mostly) set in Hell, and seems to take the plot of Paradise Lost as something approaching fact for its backstory. The skies may be red, but aside from that Hell and Pandemonium come across almost exactly like 19-century California and 21st-century Los Angeles respectively, with Pandemonium being a modern metropolis and the Wilds surrounding it fairly barren and lawless.
  • In I, Lucifer one of the few things Lucifer is very vague and evasive on is the exact nature of Hell, whether it's a horrific place or actually not so bad. It's very difficult to assess if he's hiding something or just messing with the reader.
  • C. S. Lewis:
    • The Great Divorce portrays Hell as a seemingly endless twilight city (actually an infinitesimally small world created by the minds of its inhabitants), upon which night is imperceptibly sinking. The night represents the final judgement and the arrival of the demons: until then, anyone can leave Hell if they wish, but most of the people there are too proud, angry or despairing to believe in or accept Heaven's offer. Even of those who try, many are unable to bear the feeling of being in Heaven or the cost of permanent admission (giving up the evil in one's nature).
    • In The Screwtape Letters, meanwhile, Hell is a Vast Bureaucracy run by devils with desk jobs, since Lewis believed that the worst evils of the twentieth century were done by Corrupt Corporate Executives. Damned souls become food for their tempters.
  • The Licanius Trilogy has the Darklands, described as a world where every remnant of joy or life or hope, everything that makes life bearable, has been utterly erased. Shammaeloth is imprisoned within the Darklands, and he is trying to enter the real world in order to make it over into a second Darklands.
  • The German e-novel "Magicalogen" has a hell near the end of the third part. It has twenty-nine levels which are very different (a sea, a jungle, a bakery, a moldy cellar, a labyrinth of public toilets...) Each level is ruled by another Lord of Hell and whenever a new Lord is appointed, it grows a new level. The dead here are bodiless souls but some Lords give them bodies made of snow, blood or chocolate. There are several living servants of the Lords but no demons (which were earlier established as a completely mundane and mortal species of reptiles). Oh, and it's located in a big rock that is Bigger on the Inside. Other hells are mentioned to exist. As you can probably tell from this, the novel isn't completely serious.
  • The world of origin of vampires in Brian Lumley's Necroscope connected to our world in Russia through a "grey hole" is considered by the Russians hell. Although for the natives of that world our world is Hell.
  • In Sartre's book No Exit (Huis Clos). The spirits of three deceased people are stuck, apparently forever, in a single room. The original quote is "l'enfer, c'est les autres" ("Hell is other people").
  • Homer's Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid, which introduced the River Styx, Cerberus, the descent with a guide into the underworld, and various ironic punishments for the sinners. Other Greek and Roman myths, such Orpheus descending into the Underworld, Persephone's abduction by Hades, and Hercules capturing Cerberus also helped create many of the To Hell and Back trope's elements.
  • In his chilling short story "Other People" Neil Gaiman portrays Hell as a single room, the walls covered with instruments of torture, where a single soul enters, and the demon goes through each instrument of torture over and over again, until the pain of each becomes bearable. Then they start picking through the soul's mind, making them relive and reexperience every lie and misdeed, every mistake, all their doubt and guilt. And then... well, you'll have to read it.
  • Others: In a murky, vaporous cubette, timeless reflection on a lifetime's misdeeds torments a deceased, unnamed movie star.
  • Paradise Lost also sets most of its story in Hell, particularly in the demon capital Pandemonium, as Lucifer and the rest of the demons plot their next move against God. It's a much more passive setting than in the Divine Comedy, and human sinners are never seen (since, at this point, Adam and Eve are the only humans around).
  • Played interestingly in the Riftwar Cycle. The cosmology of that series is layered, with at least fifteen "circles" — seven heavens, the mortal plane, and seven hells (there may be more, but anything above the highest heaven or below the lowest hell is completely incomprehensible to human minds). The catch is that which parts are "heaven" or "hell" are subjective, since everyone sees their own circle as the default, so to angels the mortal plane is actually part of Hell, while to the demons it's part of Heaven. Each circle down is progressively nastier- the circle just below the mortal plane is very similar to it, albeit far more brutal, while the fifth circle down is the most classic hell, and is home to The Legions of Hell. The sixth and seventh hells are little mentioned, but are said to be the home of Eldritch Abominations, while the third and fourth were consumed by those same abominations, who are currently working on the third and influencing the second- and we're next on the menu.
  • In Shaman of the Undead hells (plural) are lands on the other side of the mirror that are ruled by powerful demons. Only demons and people who died possessed go there after death, and sufficiently skilled mirror walker can destroy the whole thing if she knows how.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Vorin religion teaches of "Damnation", called Braize in the old songs, as the place where the Voidbringers come from. From there, they launched an attack and took the Tranquiline Halls, forcing humanity out of Heaven and onto Roshar, then fought to drive humanity off Roshar as well. Humanity, led by the Heralds of the Almighty, eventually managed to drive the Voidbringers off Roshar. After death, those who lived sinful lives are cast into Damnation to be tortured for all eternity, while the virtuous and skilled fight to retake the Tranquiline Halls (the dead who are not skilled enough simply lie sleeping until the Halls are reclaimed). The truth is that Braize is simply another planet in the system, though it is the origin of the Voidbringers and is owned by Odium. It's unlikely that it has any part in the afterlife (not to mention the question of whether the Tranquiline Halls even exist), but the Heralds were forced to return there to be tortured after every Desolation, until they were resurrected to fight the next one. Four and half thousand years ago, nine of the Heralds finally gave up, abandoning the last of their number to be tortured in Damnation alone.
  • In the Culture novel Surface Detail, Hell, or the appropriate equivalent is a very real possibility. It should be noted that that the Culture Universe is based on incredibly advanced technology, such as recording mindstates (which are often analogised as 'souls'). A variety of afterlives can be created in the form of flawless computer simulations. Whilst the vast majority are benign or pleasant, some civilisations deliberately create a Hell simulation to send their dead to. The more horrifying thing about this is that most of the Hell builders think that it's a good idea. Needless to say, the running of Hell programs is one of the very few things the Culture actively dislikes and makes a point of making this known.
  • In Warrior Cats, there's the Place of No Stars (also called the Dark Forest), a cold, wet, and muddy forest covered in fungus, lit only with a Sickly Green Glow, with sludgy rivers, and no prey. Each evil cat is meant to walk the Dark Forest alone, but they haven't exactly been doing that lately.
  • One of the Kilrathi hells is called Nagrast, a name given to an ice world orbiting a brown dwarf where survivors from a battle at the end of the war have gathered in an Enemy Mine situation, in False Colors

    Live-Action TV 
  • The spinoff show Angel continued exploring the idea of hell dimensions. Angel's own son Conner is eventually lost as an infant to "the Quor'Tath, darkest of the dark dimensions". Although that world's also not seen onscreen, Conner reappears after a few months as a very powerful, and very traumatized and angry, demon-slaying teenager.
    • Hell, this time in the proper-noun sense, would later turn up in the episode "Hell Bound", as a century-old ghost has remained free by sending other souls to Hell in his place. Although the vortex to Hell is seen, the characters and audience never find out what lies beyond it.
    • The oft-mentioned "Home Office" dimension of Wolfram & Hart is heavily implied to be one of the worst of the hell dimensions. When Angel becomes a Death Seeker and tries to invade it, he gets his own Heroic Blue Screen of Death. Home office is overrun with humans, seeing that it's Earth.
  • The fourth season of Arrow introduces magic into its superhero universe with the magical investigator John Constantine, who disappears after his first appearance because he's in Hell. As in, the Arrow off-handedly mentions Constantine is literally in Hell to his Jewish girlfriend, and the two go about their business with no further interest in the very real eternal punishment of the netherworld.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has countless "hell dimensions" as well as "heavenly dimensions", though sometimes Hell and Heaven are both referred to as proper nouns. Angel was lost in a hell dimension for several centuries and, though we never see what it's like, he arrives back on Earth almost completely insane. One episode shows us a different hell dimension, which includes at least a giant factory where captives are used as slaves until they're too old, and then thrown back to Earth to die on the streets of Los Angeles.
    • The series finale did finally show what lay beyond the Hellmouth that lies hidden beneath Sunnydale, and which many of the show's villains had sought to end the world by opening. However, we still see nothing more than a huge cavern at the very entrance of the hellmouth, filled with Turok-han. No comment was made about where the giant tentacle monster, the first to come out on previous openings of the hellmouth, went (it may have been killed during "The Zeppo," since we never learn the details of that fight).
  • Ghosts (US): When the robber-baron husband vows to make the Bed and Breakfast an on-going orgy, (his ghost power is to cause anyone he passes through to become horny), he says that he will never change and there is nothing the other ghosts can do about it. His wife, who was also a ghost, shouts, "Go to Hell!" and immediately a hole in the floor opens up, red lights are seen and moaning heard, and the ghost gets dragged down underground. The other ghosts, who had never seen this possibility before with all the others who had died in the house, are understandedly horrified.
  • The Good Place has a corresponding Bad Place, where anyone who doesn't meet the very high bar for entry to the Good Place is sent. It includes punishments ranging from acid pits to eternal children's dance recitals to the No Exit-esque psychological torture of Michael's neighborhood.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys occasionally featured the Underworld in its stories, and it usually doesn't appear as anything more than an expansive, misty cavern, or the windowless palace of Hades. Hercules does, however, get to visit his dead family in the Elysian Fields.
  • The underworld in Legend of the Seeker resembles the traditional depiction of Hell. Everybody seems to go there when dying no matter how they act during their lifetime.
  • In the third season of Lexx, the crew finds themselves orbiting two planets called Fire and Water. The planet Water, as the name suggests, is almost entirely water, While Fire is a waterless desert. As it turns out, Water and Fire are the Lexxverse's equivalents of Heaven and Hell, respectively. The Prince of Fire, eventually known simply as "Prince" and the show's most enduring Big Bad, was apparently The Grim Reaper but got tired of his job. Once upon a time he wasn't basically The Devil, but now is another story.
  • Hell is often mentioned and appears from time to time in Lucifer (2016). In this show, it's not your actions that damn you; It's your guilt. Even a hero will have to face eternal damnation if they feel guilty for something, as Dan Espinoza finds out, and you can only ascend to Heaven by making peace with your guilt. Time also works differently: Around two months on Earth is thousands of years in Hell, if Season 5 is to be believed (although it wa stated that a few seconds equals thirty years in Season 1). The torture is different for every person, always being a loop of either a bad event that has happened in one's life (the car accident that ruined his life for Carlisle, or being repeatedly killed for Lee) or something that one loved being used against them (Malcolm loved life so he was starved and isolated, while Charlotte loved her family, and thus was forced to watch them be killed by a criminal she helped out). God can also condemn people to Hell, as he did with his wife, the Goddess of Creation. The titular character states that the doors to ones Hell Loop are always open and that they can leave anytime they want.
  • In 1985, Saturday Night Live devoted their upbeat "Where You're Going" fake PSA to the place, as a parody of beer & champagne ads, showing some yuppies getting theirs for their lives of "false values, empty ambitions, and raw greed".
  • Star Trek: Voyager shows us the Klingon idea of Hell in the episode "Barge of the Dead". At first appearing as a barge sailing through a sea of blood, when it arrives at the gates of Hell, B'lanna finds that it's actually an Ironic Hell, as her version is Voyager itself, lit dim and red, with the crew at their most callous and mocking, on a journey that will never end. But the episode's ending leaves open the possibility that it was All Just a Dream.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation also leaves open the 'dimension of pain and suffering' aspect with stories that involve realms or areas of subspace that are inhabited by creatures with wholly malevolent intentions toward humanity (episode 6x05, "Schisms")
  • Supernatural generally depicts Hell as a place where demons live and where people go when they make deals with demons and are later killed by hell hounds. It is glimpsed once at the end of Season 3, where Dean is killed by Lilith and the Hell Hounds and is in a yellow and black cloudy area with several chains hooked into him. Supplementary material refers to that as the "waiting room", with hell proper having the traditional fire. It is later mentioned that a month is equal to roughly ten years; and while being horrifically tortured, you are offered to begin torturing others, with the (possibly false) offer that in doing so your torture will end. All humans eventually become demons, possibly starting when they begin to torture others. The demon Alistair is considered Hell's greatest torturer.
    • From the glimpses we've seen of Lucifer's cage, there's also a definite fire element to Hell on this show.
    • In a late Season 6 episode, we see what's happened to Hell ever since Crowley became the new King — he turned it into an endless waiting line. And when you finally reach the end, it just starts over.
    Crowley: "The problem with the old way was, a lot of the people who came here were masochists anyway. A lot of 'thank you, sir, may I have another spike up the jacksie?' But just look at them. No one likes waiting in line."
    • In Season 8, however, Hell appears to have shifted back towards actual torture, as when Sam enters it via Purgatory in order to free Bobby's soul, he finds himself in a medieval dungeon, filled with cells whose inhabitants are constantly tortured, apparently by demons disguised as their loved ones.
  • The main setting in the sitcom Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell.

  • Insane Clown Posse rap about Hell and its inhabitants on a regular basis, since their "Joker's Cards" Concept Album cycle are about death and the afterlife. The album Hell's Pit is, as the title implies, entirely about Hell and the damned. The opening track is even someone dying and falling into Hell's Pit.
    "Welcome to Hell. Why did you choose this?"

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible, of course, is the Trope Codifier for the Western concept of Hell as the wicked's everlasting punishment, but it's surprisingly short on details.
    • In The Four Gospels, Jesus describes "the outer darkness" as a place for the wicked there will be "weeping and nashing of teeth." The main words used in the New Testament for describing it are Hades, Tartarus and Gehenna, the first two coming from Greek mythology while the latter's a Hebrew reference to a place outside Jerusalem considered Unholy Ground.
    • The Book of Revelation describes a lake of fire that those who aren't listed in the Book of Life are cast, which may or may not be the same thing as what Jesus discusses.
  • The Qur'an, Islam's holy book, is quite detailed on Hell and describes it as a physical place of burning, torture, and punishment for sins by angels. The Hadith and Islamic literature go into further detail about the layers of Hell and which types of sinners go where. Hell is said to be guarded and kept, not by Satan, but by an angel named Maalik, an angel of punishment who has not smiled since Hell was created. According to most views, Hell is usually not eternal (unless God decides so, of course) but is more like a prison sentence, where sinners are punished by angels to cleanse themselves of their sins and then are permitted entry into Heaven. It is also often believed that nearly everyone (with the exception of children, martyrs, etc.) will experience Hell as no human is without sin.
  • Classical Mythology has Tartarus, the closest equivalent of the Biblical Hell. It was used to contain the worst of the worst, those who dared to defy the will of the gods, and those who committed hubris. Notable inmates included the male Titans who lost the Titanomachy, Tantalus, Ixion, and Sisyphus. As with the Norse Hel, Tartarus was a god (more specifically, a protogenia), brother of other primal concepts such as the Night (who had a residence in Tartarus) and the Earth.
  • Norse Mythology brings us the origin of the word "Hell" from "Hel", the goddess of the dead, though it doesn't exactly have a matching concept; Helheim, or Niflhel as it was also called, the cold abode of the dead that Hel ruled, was closer related to The Nothing After Death rather than some posthumous punishment. Norse people believed in different possible destinies for the Afterlife including rebirth and a holy mountain where, according to The Other Wiki the members of the Norse clans would lead lives similar to the ones they had lived in the world of the living. Some psychic people could look into the mountain and what they saw was not intimidating, but instead it was a scene with a warm hearth, drinking, and talking. Though Valhalla awaits (some of) those who die in battle, the idea that only warriors avoided Hell is a misconception... All that said, though Hel's realm was no Hell, there was a punishment waiting for the worst of the worst, dishonorable villains that would be turned away by any and all hosts; they were sent to Nastrond, a fortress located in an abandoned corner of Niflheim, deep under Yggdrasil's roots, where they would be just within the reach of Níðhöggr.
  • In Zoroastrianism, after a person's soul crosses a bridge to the land of the dead, they are greeted by a woman who is the Anthropomorphic Personification of their actions in life. If the person had led a good life, she appears beautiful and takes them to the House of Song. If they were sinful, the woman is hideous and throws them into the ravine known as the House of Lies. Inside, sinners do nothing but eat the foulest, disgusting things one can imagine — corpses, rotten food, feces — all while trapped in the dark, cold, and smelly expanse. No matter how crowded it may get, those inside think they're all alone.
  • Buddhist texts call Hell Naraka, which can be divided into two categories: the icy Hell and the fiery Hell. The cold one has no demons, but the victims must spend an extremely long time there, alone and naked. The worst of these Hells, Mahapadma, is so cold that the victim's body cracks into pieces. The fiery Hells are much more active, with Yama's attendants torturing victims to death in various ways. The victims quickly revive, only to suffer the same fate again and again, for a very long (though not endless) time. The worst of the fiery Hells (and the lowest of all the hells), Avici, is reserved for those who commit one or more of the Five Grave Offenses (murder of one's father, murder of one's mother, murder of an Arhat, or enlightened being, shedding the blood of a Buddha, and causing a schism within the Sangha, the community of Buddhist monks and nuns), and life and suffering in this Naraka lasts the longest out of all the hells put together.
  • Mongolian Shamanism has Kasrygan, where those whose bad deeds in life outweigh their good ones are sent. It is a giant cauldron filled with boiling black tar where sinners float. The worst ones sink to the bottom and suffer there forever, while those who have committed at least some good in their life have a chance to reach the surface. Those in Heaven who benefited from these sinners' good deeds can send spirits to the surface of Kasrygan to pull them up by the hair and bring them to paradise.

  • Bleak Expectations: In series 4, Pip Bin goes to Hell to rescue his wife after she winds up there due to a mix-up with a very large knife. It looks less Judeo-Christian than he imagined, thanks to some modernisation. Also, his nemesis has managed to take over the place while the Devil's off on maternity leave. Pip's stuck in the Cool and Unusual Punishment sector, passing through the area where the masochistic damned are tortured (they're enjoying themselves immensely).
  • Most of Old Harry's Game takes place in Hell, with Satan dishing out cruel punishments to those involved, and trying to keep the place under control.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a whole spectrum of hellish realms of existence in the Lower Planes, where fiendish outsiders originate, dread deities hold court, and evil mortals' souls are sent upon death. Each of these planes in turn has layers that add more variety to the horrors and torments they offer. Running the spectrum from Chaotic Evil through Neutral Evil to Lawful Evil, we have:
    • The Windswept Depths of Pandemonium, an endless maze of twisting caverns and tunnels filled with shrieking winds that eventually render the plane's inhabitants deaf, insane, or both.
    • The Infinite Layers of the Abyss, a seemingly endless spiral of madness and horror that's home to demons out to tear down all of creation.
    • The Tarterian Depths of Carceri, a prison plane for the multiverse's worst exiles, betrayers, and the deposed.
    • The Gray Wastes of Hades, a realm of such darkness and despair that those sent there soon fall into hopeless apathy.
    • The Bleak Eternity of Gehenna, a land of towering volcanoes where the utterly self-interested yugoloths play the demons and devils against each other.
    • The Nine Hells of Baator, the bastion of devils out to subjugate the multiverse under the tyrannical rule of Asmodeus.
    • And the Infernal Battlefield of Acheron, where armies of the damned slaughter each other without purpose for all eternity.
  • Exalted: Malfeas, the dumping ground for the Primordials who didn't end up minced after they were overthrown and for the demons, which in-universe are essentially the multiple souls of each Primordial and the spawn thereof. The whole thing is essentially the "stomach" of their king, after it was torn open and had all the Primordials, including Malfeas himself, stuffed in before it was sewn shut. It takes the shape of a chaotic red city arranged in multiple layers, with the other primordials' world-bodies providing additions like an ocean of acid and a massive desert. By and large, mortal souls don't end up here; it's not intended for them.
  • Infernum uses Hell as its setting and as the default adventuring locale. This is because you're encouraged to play as a demon instead of a human.
  • In Nomine: Hell is detailed in multiple books, being a game about the secret War between angels and demons. The exact nature of a damned soul's afterlife depends on what they did (and therefore whose Principality they wind up in). Those who furthered the Word of Lust can maybe hope to be considered a sort of favored pet in a Hellish brothel. Those who furthered the Word of Media can look forward to an eternity where watching some mindless entertainment, such as a spinning top, is the focus of their existence. There is also the classic fire and brimstone Hell for those who furthered the Word of Fire itself. It is, like Heaven, spatially infinite, and always has some extra room to accommodate the inflow of the damned or a new Principality. The demons whisper rumors about the terrible things that one can find in the hinterlands outside of claimed Principalities or in the dark depths of the Lower Hells beneath it all, but only Lucifer truly knows the full nature and extent of the realm.
  • Kings of War: The Abyss. In beginning the 37 evil half gods were cast down by a Celestian into a massive crack in the earth and imprisoned them beneath it. The wicked ones however turned it into a real hell complete with 9 circles.
  • KULT: Inferno is a classic hell. Nowadays, most souls end up in Purgatory instead. Catch is, Astaroth no longer gives a damn about the place and lets his subordinates manage Inferno as they please, so you can get punished for a sin you never committed at all. With fewer souls coming to Inferno, they will also give you some extra For the Lulz. Just goes to show just what kind of a Crapsack World we're dealing with.
  • New World of Darkness:
    • The Inferno sourcebook details Hell, which in this setting appears to be a personification of human evil, and grants the opportunity for unpleasant spirits, the ghosts of evil people, and goetic demons, escaped Anthropomorphic Personifications of dark human urges, to become corrupting Dominions. Just looking at it can damage your Karma Meter — it's not an evil act, but you are looking at the heart of all sin in this or any reality, and it's nearly impossible for it not to erode your moral standards.
    • Mage: The Awakening: The Supernal Realm of Pandemonium is generally hellish, albeit of the self inflicted variety, the rationale being that when faced with a place of pure thought, people will generally force themselves to confront their worst aspects.
    • Demon: The Descent: Subverted — while demons believe in Hell, they aren't tied to the metaphysical realm of the Inferno. Rather, "Hell" is an idealized state that differs from demon to demon, but typically embodies a world where the God-Machine has no sway over them.
  • Old World of Darkness:
    • Demon: The Fallen has the Abyss. Here, Hell is the absence of God... and everything else, in fact. And since the titular demons were tossed in by God and had a bunch of anger issues, they quickly turned on one another and made it into the classical version.
    • Kindred of the East: The spirit realms that became the Thousand Hells were originally intended to be for the punishment and correction of Asian mortal souls. Then their rulers, the Yama Kings, discovered that they could draw strength from pain, suffering, and corruption, and were more than happy to embrace this new source of power, diving headlong into corruption themselves. In the present day, correction has no place in the Hells; it's all about torment and suffering.
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has two versions. Erebus is "Hell as punishment," a realm of molten silver where werebeasts who have committed some terrible sin can find redemption by spending years having their transgressions literally boiled away. Malfeas is "Hell as demon realm," the home of the Wyrm and a realm of burning green hellfire, where the embodiments of vice serve their twisted master and both innocent slaves and corrupted servants are exposed to the terrible majesty of the incarnation of all corruption.
  • Pathfinder has three realms in the Outer Sphere designated for evil mortal souls depending on their alignment.
    • If you were Lawful Evil you go to Hell, a strictly regimented evil empire with nine uniquely horrible layers. Once there, your soul will be used as slave labor or a disposable mook in Hell's various wars, before eventually being used as the raw material for a new devil if you don't get destroyed first.
    • If you were Neutral Evil you go to Abaddon, a vast landscape larger than entire planets made up of every environ imaginable, all of which are hostile. This realm is ruled by daemons who will annihilate you if they catch you, whether by eating you or burning you as fuel for one of their unholy experiments. Surviving long enough will net you the "privilege" of becoming a daemon yourself and continuing their omnicidal cause. Oh, and did we mention that even if you didn't get sentenced here, daemons might still poach you from your rightful afterlife and cast you here to hunt you for sport?
    • If you were Chaotic Evil you go to the Abyss, an unfathomably deep series of pits and caverns boring down into the Outer Sphere itself. There the Abyss feeds on you sin to produce new demons, typically consuming the soul in the process.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Warp, also called the Immaterium or Realm of Chaos, serves as a combination of Hell and a particularly nightmarish version of hyperspace. It's an immaterial realm in a state of constant flux and upheaval, influenced more by emotions and perception than anything else and serving as a mirror of the collective thoughts and emotions of the inhabitants of the physical universe — and since the world of Warhammer 40,000 is a horrible, horrible place, the Warp is a realm of constant terror and nightmares as a result. It is also home to endless hordes of Daemons and Eldritch Abominations and to the dark gods they serve, all seeking to pour into the mortal realms, drag them into the Warp and devour the souls of anyone unfortunate enough to get sucked in. In some places, the Warp "leaks" into the physical universe. These areas, known as Warp Storms, are places of Alien Geometries where space and nature don't work as they should and FTL travel is largely impossible, and serve as home to the worshippers of Chaos and beachheads for the various Daemonic invasions of the universe.
  • Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: The Realm of Chaos functions largely in the same way as the Warp does in Warhamer 40,000, but without the hyperspace aspects. The areas where it bleeds into the mortal world are specifically at the poles. Since the game is set in the northern hemisphere, this also justifies the setting's use of Grim Up North — the further north you go, the closer you get to where the world ends and Hell begins.

    Video Games 
  • Asura's Wrath, having Hinduism and Buddhist tones for the game's mythology, has Naraka, depicted as an endless realm of golden clouds with bottomless abyss and towers made out of stone faces. Asura climbs up a tower in here multiple times throughout the game after dying many times.
  • Baldur's Gate 2 and the Throne of Bhaal expansion feature some parts of the Nine Hells, including your own pocket plane and Bhaal's Throne of Blood, which is a series of organic, bony islands in a void of darkness, surrounding the central island, where the 'throne' is.
  • Bayonetta: Hell, known as Inferno, is one of the three realms (alongside Paradiso (Heaven) and the human realm), and all that's really known about it is that Umbra Witches summon demons from there to do their bidding, with the caveat that they go to Inferno after death. In Bayonetta 2, the titular protagonist has to go into Inferno itself to rescue her friend who's been dragged down there after a Finishing Move that went haywire, and Inferno turns out to be a heck of an Eldritch Location, with vines that unfurl and serve as paths from one floating landmass to another, local fauna that makes garden weeds look like expensive bouquets, and of course bloodthirsty demons ready to rip apart any intruders.
  • Bloodborne: As hellish as Yharnam and the other locations are, the Hunter's Nightmare is the closest to an actual Hell. Various monsters and enemies found there are thereafter becoming blood-drunk as punishment for the Old Hunter's deeds at the Fishing Hamlet by the Great One Kos. Many of the characters found there are characters that have been presumed dead in the main Bloodborne title, and the blood river that leads to Ludwig even possesses allusions to the blood river found in Naraka, the Hindu/Buddhist Hell.
  • Crypt Worlds has a very deadpan Hell. The main way to get there is by falling through a green fog hole in the ground below a sign saying "GO TO HELL". When you go down there, there is a room of cultists trying to awaken a god, and through the only door is a waiting room where the receptionist tells you that all you have to do is wait 30 seconds before the next door opens and you can return to the land of the living. But there is still Nightmare Fuel, because on one of the tables you can see an NPC lying down. The NPC's name is "You".
  • Detroit: Become Human: The dump is a place where rejected androids are discarded to suffer forever while wailing for parts to complete their dismembered bodies. The location is referred to as "Hell" in-game and borrows most of all from Gehenna, the valley of children's corpses Jesus alludes to in his biblical description of Hell. It also borrows from other infernal depictions, including a mobile population of mutilated suffers like in Canto 28 of the Inferno and a wall of hands brushing against our protagonist just like in What Dreams May Come.
  • Diablo: The games use Hell and an attempt to stop a demonic invasion in their stories: the first game features the catacombs of Tristram's cathedral eventually warping into a Hellish landscape, while the sequel involves a journey straight into Hell itself, a landscape of burnt, smoldering plains of ash. The third game ups the ante by having you stave off an assault by Diablo's demons upon the High Heavens by journeying to Hell and destroying the gates Diablo is using to invade before battling your way to the Crystal Arch to stop Diablo from destroying it and plunging everything into darkness forever.
  • Dokapon Kingdom has Heck (the game is silly) as the last area the adventurers go into. The first section of the dungeon is the typical fiery wasteland, and the heroes have to fight their clones. The second section is more of a dark and evil castle, though.
  • Doom:
    • The various games in the series involve teleportation experiments in a future space setting that have accidentally opened portals to Hell. Something of a Hyperspace Is a Scary Place plot, except the games make it clear that what the scientists call hyperspace actually is Hell, which is mostly portrayed with seas of lava, brimstone mountains, and a burning red sky.
    • DOOM (2016): Hell is the main source of Argent Energy, an incredibly powerful source of energy suitable to fuel humanity after fissionable materials have run out. Of course, the process of accessing this energy resource is incredibly dangerous, and no human who has gone into Hell itself has ever survived the process, save Samuel Hayden, who is a human mind in a nine-foot tall combat robot chassis, and the Doom Slayer. And the Doom Slayer, being what he is, was such a brutal and deadly opponent that he terrified Hell itself with the sheer wrath and ruin he inflicted on them.
    • DOOM Eternal': In the Ancient Gods DLCs, Hell's origins are finally revealed. Hell was once a realm known as Jekkad, the first and original creation of Davoth, who back then was the original Father. He sought immortality for his people, and created the Maykrs for the purpose of finding this secret. But when the Maykrs found the secret of immortality, they feared what Davoth would become and betrayed him, stealing his power of creation and his name, and sealing his realm off from the rest of creation. Davoth's rage transformed the realm of Jekkad into what we know now as Hell, Davoth himself would become the Dark Lord of Hell, and the people of Jekkad would become the very first demons.
  • Dwarf Fortress: If you dig far enough, you'll eventually encounter a vast sea of magma, filled with bizarre, vicious creatures, twisted fauna, and adamantine. The magma sea is actually pretty nice handy, being an inexhaustible supply of energy and awesome. You're not in Hell yet, though. The real hell is lower, beneath the adamantine, and serves as the de facto True Final Boss of Fortress Mode.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has Oblivion loosely in this role. Oblivion is one of the three parts of the Aurbis, essentially, the knowable universe. It is the infinite void surrounding Mundus, the mortal realm (which contains the planet Nirn, and the continent Tamriel, where every game in the series to date has taken place). Beyond Oblivion is Aetherius, the realm of magic. While Oblivion itself is said to be infinite, it contains the 16 known "planes" of Oblivion, each belonging to one of the Daedric Prices, as well as over 37,000 "pocket realities" and "chaos realms". In addition to the Daedric Princes, these planes and realms are home to all manner of lesser Daedra as well. As the Daedra are the et'Ada ("original spirits") who did not make any sacrifices to create Mundus, the mortal realm, they retain their Complete Immortality. While their physical bodies can be slain (within Oblivion or manifested on Mundus), their spirits simply return to Oblivion to reform. The planes of the Daedric Princes are very much Eldritch Locations crossed over with elements of Genius Loci where the Princes themselves are Fisher Kings. Just as the Princes themselves are technically Above Good and Evil, operating within their own scale of Blue-and-Orange Morality, but who can appear more malevolent depending on how their actions impact mortals, their planes are similarly varied. Some are said to be quite beautiful and wonderful places, like Azura's realm of Moonshadow or Sanguine's "Myriad Realms of Revelry". Others are much more hellish. Typically, mortals who pledge their souls to the service of one of the Daedric Princes end up in that Prince's realm after death. In some cases, the Princes are able to forcibly capture souls as well. To note some of the more hellish Daedric planes:
    • Mehrunes Dagon is the Daedric Prince of Destruction. His realm is known as the "Deadlands", a very Fire and Brimstone Hell location with seas of lava and the land itself being a blasted hellscape. Despite its appearance, it is also said to feel deathly cold to mortals, who feel an "unearthly chill" within. You'll spend plenty of time within during the main quest of Oblivion.
    • Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Corruption and Domination, goes more for the Bloody Bowels of Hell aesthetic for his Daedric plane, known as Coldharbour. It resembles a ruined and desecrated copy of Nirn that is filled with suffering and "spattered" with blood and excrement. It contains charnel houses full of the dead and slave pens beyond count. It is said that no mortals willingly visit this place except in error. It is said that the smell of the place alone is enough to kill most mortals.
    • Numerous other "hellish" planes of Oblivion exist, and they can be read about in greater detail on the series' "Daedra" Characters sub-page.
  • Fear Effect: The story revolves around the dealings between the demons of the Chinese Hell and the crime syndicates of a near-future Hong Kong.
  • Oddly enough, Hell does appear in a Final Fantasy game (Final Fantasy II, to be exact). And you end up making the Emperor the ''ruler'' of Hell. Oh, Crap! doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • Guild Wars has the "Realm of torment", home to a god who revolted, and his followers, who play a major role in the Nightfall campaign. This version is a collection of creepy realms, but not fire and brimstone.
  • Hellgate: London takes place in a near-future England where the gate to Hell has opened and the modern world has long since fallen to the demons. The Earth itself is gradually succumbing to "the Burn", a reverse-terraforming process that's creating a new Hell on Earth.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: The lower zone of the Ancient Cistern symbolizes Hell, contrasting the idyllic, heavenly upper zone. It's full of zombies, bones, poisoned water, it's like the underworld in every way. Link even climbs a rope to get out of it at one point, which has been used a few times to show people escaping Hell.
  • Stygia in Nexus Clash is a combination of Fire and Brimstone Hell lakes of fire and Evil Is Deathly Cold frozen wastes, with the 'middle ground' inhabited areas crammed with charnel houses, slave pens, and literal Hellhole Prisons. The most unsettling thing about it, however, is that when looked at in the big picture the landscape of Stygia exactly mirrors that of Elysium, which rather strongly implies that the Angels and Demons aren't so different.
  • Painkiller involves a modern man's Heaven-sent mission to assassinate the demon lords of Hell. After an extensive battle through Purgatory, Hell itself turns out to be a series of still, deserted scenes depicting war throughout the ages.
  • SaGa Frontier: Visited at the end of Blue's quest. Hell resembles a stereotypical Fluffy Cloud Heaven, complete with angels fluttering about... Until you fight the Hell's Lord and he shifts from his humanoid form to his monstrous one, causing the realm to transform into a more classic depiction. Saga Essentials mentions this was the result of a Mystic using the rings from Riki's Quest to wish for Heaven. Since the rings are inherently evil, he got what looked like Heaven but was actually Hell in disguise.
  • The Hell Dimensions of The Secret World are a cluster of unpleasant afterlives featured throughout human mythology, including not only the Christian Hell, but also the home of the Oni and (presumably) the Norse realm of Nifleheim. In practice, most of it note  is a Fire and Brimstone Hell littered with the ruins of ancient city-sized machines, most of it so toxic that humans can only survive on a long-term basis by being irrevocably transformed into a demonic entity — hence why players are eventually turfed out at the end of the dungeon missions. Lore and dialogue eventually reveals that the Hell Dimensions were originally an experiment in world-building conjured up by The Host, ultimately abandoned when the Host created Gaia; starved of nourishing Anima, Hell and all its residents turned vampiric, forcing the demons to essentially prostitute themselves to human wizards to buy their Anima-rich souls. As such, when Eblis turned up in Hell, he was able to exploit their desperation and turn the demons into an army capable of invading Earth...
  • Hell in Shadow Man is a vast zombie-ridden wasteland with sprawling rivers of blood where everyone goes when they die.
  • The Silent Hill games often feature characters having to face their own personal hell. Particularly notable in Silent Hill 2 where protagonist James goes down, deeper and deeper into the earth.
  • In Sonic Adventure, the second segment of Red Mountain descends into a volcano. There are cells in the walls with rather surreal-looking prisoners dancing to the beat of the level's song. The level is also filled with skulls that breathe fire, giant spiders, and tombstones. An in-game mission refers to this area as a 'burning hell' so it's pretty much explicitly supposed to be a hell analogue.
  • In Super Paper Mario, the area of the afterlife (known as aftergame) that dead characters end up in first is The Underwhere. Queen Jaydes (a reference to Hades) will send them to The Overthere (Heaven) if they are good, and if they are evil, will send them below to "suffer for eternity among the game-overed". This fate is clearly Hell. Shaydes sent there become Skellobits. One wonders how many of the Skellobits are any of Mario's old enemies, like Tatanga and Cackletta and the Shroobs...
  • Warcraft has two places that can qualify:
    • First, there is the Twisting Nether, a chaotic dimension of pure magic populated mostly by demons of the Burning Legion, which can be accessed every now and then throughout the game. Those worlds that the Burning Legion conquers are generally destroyed and pulled into the Nether, and their devastated remains which serve as bases for demon activity definitely look hellish (if unusually green) enough - take Mardum or Outland's Shadowmoon Valley. It isn't actually the afterlife (mortal souls go to the dimension called the Shadowlands instead), but if a demon dies somewhere else, their soul reforms there - which makes it important in the Legion expansion, as destroying the Burning Legion's demons within the Twisting Nether, thus ensuring they do not come back, is the only way to stop their advance. As a result, the Twisting Nether (or more specifically Argus, the Burning Legion's capital situated there) is the expansion's final questing zone, where the most difficult dungeon and raid are located.
    • The aforementioned Shadowlands, however, do have a literal Hell, introduced in the expansion also called Shadowlands: the Maw. It is a massive desolate wasteland where the most dangerous of souls, which wouldn't be accepted elsewhere in the afterlife, reside, ruled by an ancient deity known as the Jailer, the expansion's overall antagonist. Much like Argus, the Maw is a dangerous high-level questing zone, with the story focused around rescuing innocent souls who were wrongly consigned to the Maw due to the Jailer's machinations, as well as important leaders of the Alliance and the Horde who were dragged there while still alive. Unlike Argus and other worlds in the Twisting Nether, the Maw isn't as fiery, but it definitely is miserable and torturous enough.
  • Wario Land 4 has a level called Fiery Cavern, which is based on Hell. This is evidenced by its placing in the Sapphire Passage, a set of horror-themed levels, as well as the whole place freezing after pressing the frog-shaped switch that opens up the exit. In other words, Wario literally escapes when Hell freezes over.

    Web Animation 

  • In Bob and George, the Author first tells Megman and Protoman that the White Space is Hell.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del has proposed a specific hierarchy of Hell specifically related to the cardinal sins of gaming:
  • Dominic Deegan's version of hell is the traditional underground cave with a hint of fire and brimstone. There's no one devil, but instead a variety of demon lords of various positions and abilities who like to recruit lesser demons and torment souls for all eternity. It serves as the setting for a number of storylines, most obviously the aptly named "War in Hell". By the end of the comic, Karnak has killed or depowered all the other demon lords and become the equivalent of the Devil.
  • In Hell Inc, the economy of Hell revolves around the use of processed souls as currency, although some souls are spared this literal objectification and recruited as potential demons. In the day-to-day existence of Hell, Inc., the system mostly exists just to sustain itself with the suffering of those it consumes and benefit the higher-ranking demons, rather than in earnest service of a divine justice.
  • In Jack (David Hopkins), much of the action takes place in, and most of the characters live in Hell. This is only logical, as the protagonist is not only the Grim Reaper himself, but also Wrath — one of the seven embodiments of the classical deadly sins. Hell does not have a clear geography as it keeps changing to torment its inhabitants (Trying to climb a tiny hill might end up being harder than scaling Mount Everest) in response to them. Hell tends to be harder on the damned, the worse their sin is perceived to be.
  • pictures for sad children has Paul, a ghost going to hell, which is a Latin-American hotel (possibly Mexican, since John Campbell lived in México for a while) where he meets Jeremy, the main's character roommate who died and is spending his time in hell doing exactly the same thing he did while he was alive.
  • Sluggy Freelance: The Dimension of Pain, first introduced as Saturday filler material before getting a somewhat more dramatic focus in the "That Which Redeems" Story Arc, is a cavernous realm home to demons who feed on human suffering.

    Web Original 
  • How to Hero has a guide for heroes who want/need to operate in Hell. It includes methods of getting in, getting out, and dealing with Greg the Skeleton King if you run into him.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time features the fire-and-brimstone-with-screams-of-the-suffering version of Hell, called the Nightosphere. It's filled with demons, and it's said to be sustained via Chaotic Evil. It's apparently not a dimension for the deceased, however. The First Dead World seen in "Together Again" fits more conventionally, being a massive pit where the souls unfortunate enough to wind up there are trapped neck-deep in mud as they are tormented and generally inconvenienced by monsters.
  • Animaniacs had Yakko, Wakko, and Dot arriving in the Underworld (the fire and brimstone variety) and generally tormenting Satan with their own unique brand of insanity. Eventually Yakko freezes Hell over, and he and his siblings are kicked out, only to find themselves in Heaven.
  • Danny Phantom: According to Butch Hartman, the Ghost Zone has its own version of Hell called "The Unworld", a nightmare realm that forever traps any human or ghost there without their respective powers. The only way any being can get there is through a ghost portal that did not have the exact calculations made when the portal was built.
  • Futurama gives us Robot Hell, a subterranean, industrial hell for, well, robots. It's located beneath New Jersey, and only applies to robots who join the Church of Robotology and then reject it. In addition to being a mechanized version of the fire and brimstone variety, each level features a different ironic punishment for Bender's sins.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Miseryville, the main setting, is either Hell or some reasonable equivalent. In the original pitch, it was explicitly Hell, with Jimmy sent there by accident after dying, but in the finished product it's vague, but heavily implied. It varies between a Fire and Brimstone Hell and A Hell of a Time.
  • The Looney Tunes short Satan's Waitin' has Sylvester the Cat repeatedly descending to Hell and then returning to Earth as his nine lives are used up in pursuit of Tweety Bird.
    • Devil's Feud Cake has Yosemite Sam going to Hell, but being offered a reprieve if he can bring Bugs Bunny down to take his place. Utilizing clips from earlier cartoons, Sam is depicted repeatedly trying and failing in this endeavor; in the end, the Devil offers him one more chance, but Sam declares, "I'm a-stayin'!"
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In one episode, the three-headed dog Cerberus from Greek mythology briefly leaves his guarding place at the entryway to Tartarus, where all sorts of horrible creatures are said to dwell, and shows up in Ponyville. Luckily, Fluttershy and Twilight help get him back to his post, and no lasting harm is done, but the fact that pony Hell was more or less introduced and dismissed quickly as a gag remains a tad unnerving. It came back in a big way in the season four finale: something did get out when Cerberus was away, and it was being held there for a reason. Tirek had been gathering his power and getting stronger since his escape, and when he finally shows up at the end of Season 4, he showed exactly what in the land of pretty magic ponies is so nasty it gets sent to such a place.
  • Pinky and the Brain had an episode where Pinky sells his soul to the devil and gets snatched away into a traditional Fire and Brimstone Hell. Similarly to The Simpsons example, the devil tries various torture methods on Pinky but they all backfire because he just thinks they're fun amusement park rides.
  • The Real Ghostbusters in episode "Chicken, He Clucked'' the Ghostbusters go to hell after been hired by a demon. Hell is basically an office building. They go to hell again in episode "Hanging By a Thread", this time the depiction is more on the traditionally Fire and Brimstone Hell with lava rivers and red caves.
  • The Simpsons:
    • It's implied that Homer went there during one of his near-death experiences in "Homer's Triple Bypass".
    • In the "Devil and Homer Simpson" segment of the Halloween Episode "Treehouse of Horror IV", the Devil — in the persona of Ned Flanders — sends Homer to Hell after he sells his soul for a donut. Homer is immediately dispatched to the Ironic Punishment Division of Hell Labs, where he's strapped to a machine that force-feeds him "all the donuts in the world". (The punishment fails, however, as Homer greedily devours each and every one of said donuts with no complaints). Later Homer is put to trial and judged by a Jury of the Damned, consisting of various celebrities who led an evil life and now spend eternity in Hell.
    • In "Treehouse of Horror XI", during the segment "G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad" Homer is sent to Hell again, where apparently John Wayne resides, too.
  • South Park lampooned the concepts of Heaven and Hell mercilessly, with a likeable Satan and an underworld that often doesn't seem particularly bad, especially given since virtually nobody except Mormons go to Heaven. Hell has a million times more people than Heaven, making it the largest Hell in all of fiction. In the show, it is usually depicted as a cavern with stock footage of a volcano erupting in the background, while in The Movie, it's a large rocky CGI wasteland underneath a swirling fire vortex.
  • Tom and Jerry also used Hell at least once, in a short involving Tom threatened with Hell unless he can get a pardon for his sins signed by Jerry. The Devil in this case is supporting character Spike the Dog, with horns and red skin, and Hell is a fiery cavern. The episode also features the escalator form of a Stairway to Heaven, and ends with Tom greatly relieved to find that it was All Just a Dream.

    Real Life 



Inferno, the realm of darkness and birthplace of demon-kind.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / Hell

Media sources: