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Hellish Horse

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Whoa, Helly!

"Bad Horse! Bad Horse!
He rides across the nation, the thoroughbred of sin!"

Putting the "mare" in "nightmare"...

Want to emphasize how badass a hero or villain is? Simple: add a truly horrific horse!

Standard accessories include menacing wings, red eyes, horns, fangs, and split hooves like a goat (alternately, claws). Horses that are nothing but skeletons are also popular choices for The Undead to ride, and you can increase the glam with a fiery aura or hooves that leave burning prints behind. Usually either truly untamable or ridden by villainous characters, but sometimes The Hero can subvert expectations and take one for their mount.

As horses these days are kept mostly for recreation and sport, and are often seen as oversized pets for little girls, it can seem odd to think of them as dangerous. But make no mistake, a horse can weigh half a ton or more, and an angry or panicked animal can easily kill a man. In the medieval period, horses were bred and trained as Beasts Of Battle who could rear or kick on cue — and a horse capable of carrying a medieval knight in full armor was very large and strong indeed. They were the Sherman tanks of their day, and it's not a surprise that horses in the cultural imagination of the time were elevated from military equipment into legendary monsters.

Many examples were inspired by the horse in the painting The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli, which in turn was based on the "Mare," a goblin or horny devil that sat on a sleeper's chest and gave them bad dreams.

Often goes hand in hand with Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as well as The Wild Hunt.

A Sub-Trope of Cool Horse. A Sister Trope to Hellhound. Compare Moody Mount (where a horse is difficult to ride and tame for mundane reasons), Horsing Around (where the horses are simply rude or cunning), and Diligent Draft Animal (where the horses are used for moving loads). For similar connotations on antagonistic farm animals, see also Brutish Bulls, Gruesome Goat and Cocky Rooster.

Contrast the Unicorn, which is a holy animal (though not always nice), White Stallion (the usual mount of a hero), and Herbivores Are Friendly. No relation at all to Hellish Copter, nor to Undead Horse Trope.

Examples :

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Beauty and the Beast of Paradise Lost: The demon that steals women's faces travels in a carriage of bones pulled by skeleton horses.
  • Berserk:
    • The Skull Knight's horse, though much like its rider, it isn't evil
    • Later in the manga, a horse that Guts used to kidnap supporting character Farnese gets possessed by one of the demons after him, which wants to "mount" her (yes, in that way). Unlike many of its peers, the demon-horse comes fully equipped, because that's just the kind of manga Berserk is. She is only saved when Guts ends up flashbacking to Casca's rape during the Eclipse at that very moment, serving to set him off in a big way; with very messy results for the once-helpful steed.
    • The party later runs into a kelpie, which is a weird frog-horse hybrid.
  • Bomba by Osamu Tezuka centers on a Troubled Teen discovers he has the power to kill anyone he hates via the ghost of a warhorse his father knew.
  • The horses in the anime short A Country Doctor (based on the Franz Kafka story) look pretty damn creepy.
  • The first Robeast fought by GaoGaiGar is a giant robot made out of broken appliances from a garbage dump that has the face of a horse. This turns out to be because it was really a homeless degenerate gambler who had lost everything betting on horse racing, the biomechanical entities known as the Zondars who infested him having originally been created by an extinct alien race as a psychotherapy tool to create physical manifestations of people's trauma to help them overcome it, before they inevitably Turned Against Their Masters.
  • Hellsing: When Alucard pulls out his army of familiars during his Level Zero Release, it includes horses. Big, undead horses made of shadows and blood.
  • Entei from Inuyasha, a horse yōkai that obeys only the most powerful of yōkai.
  • Part II of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure features a chariot race where the horses have been transformed into vampires with Super-Speed.
  • Killbeat the lascivious and sadistic bicorn from Legendz. Unusual in that she never serves as a villain's mount, instead she's a major villain herself!
  • Magic Knight Rayearth:
    • Alcyone, the Magic Knights' first opponent, rides around on one of these.
    • Lantis in Rayearth II also has the ability to summon one as part of his Dark Is Not Evil appearance.
  • A lot of playing with this goes on in Reign: The Conqueror. Alexander's horse is a demonic horse, and at least half the main cast if not more expect Alexander to go the Dark Messiah route, which would make the horse appropriate, but Alexander ultimately rejects that route. Alexander's horse, Bucephalus, really was an unstable horse, according to Plutarch. This was probably the first time he was described as a murderous horse.

    Comic Books 
  • Conan the Barbarian: Conan once has to fight the Hell-Hordes of Chaos, led by Prince Gaynor, who ride steeds that inexplicably have beaks and melt in the rain.
  • Recurring Doctor Strange foe Nightmare rides a gaunt black unicorn named Dreamstalker.
  • Caleb, the 19th-century ex-slave turned Ghost Rider, has one of these as his ride, as do other Riders of roughly the same era. As befits the Ghost Riders, these horses are usually on fire.
  • The Iron Man villain Dreadknight has a bat-winged flying horse called Hell Horse, which was sired via genetic engineering.
  • Rebel Dead Revenge: Satan revives fallen steeds for his undead soldiers. The beasts are as ravenous for human flesh as their riders.
  • The '60s comic book of Ripley's Believe It or Not True Ghost Stories explored a few scattered legends of giantnote  black horses, in a story entitled "The Devil's Steed".
  • Robin (1993): Dark Rider's shadow mount is a horse with glowing red eyes, fire around its hooves, a spiked whip for a tail, the ability to fly, and is an intangible summon made of shadow and fire that only its summoner can touch.
  • Appropriately enough, Tarra rides a fire horse in Swordquest: Fireworld.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The Adjudicator's four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride powerful steeds with flaming manes.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): The trio of Egyptian deities who respond to Hera's attack on Themyscira travel to Olympus in a chariot pulled by two large black draft horses that have fire for their manes and tales and leave flame where they walk.

    Fairy Tales 
  • The titular pony in the French fairy tale The Goblin Pony kidnaps children who offer to ride it and brings them to the seashore to drown them. Such a fate befalls Old Peggy's grandchildren when they decide to ride the pony on Halloween.

    Fan Works 
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 11 of the third story, Diplomacy Through Schooling, Twilight's full-powered form as the Lady of Magic certainly resembles one... but at heart, she's still good.
  • It's revealed in Hope for the Heartless that when Avalina first met her future Cool Horse, he was in great grief due to his previous rider's death and projected his grief as fury, refusing to allow anyone to tame or approach him. Known as Malwolaeth and Diafol Ceffyl ("Death" and "Devil Horse" in Welsh), he was believed by everyone but Avalina to be a lost cause and intended to be put down, but against everyone's expectations, Avalina got through to him, earning his Undying Loyalty.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Lexi — a talking book who is capable of controlling paper into whatever he wishes — briefly transforms into a skeletal horse when he, Chloe and Atticus are in The Midnight Car. It doubles as a Genius Bonus; his human persona is based on a story Chloe made of the son of the "White Knight" Eligos. Eligos, a demon from the Ars Goetia, was said to have written into battle on a skeletal horse.

    Films — Animated 
  • Fantasia: In the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence, the evil spirits summoned by The Devil Chernabog ride various horrific sorts of supernatural steeds, from airborne goats and boars to horned skeleton horses. One of these horses makes a reappearance in The Black Cauldron.
  • Frozen II: One of the four spirits Elsa has to battle is the Nøkk, a horse made out of water that guards the Dark Sea. It has Glowing Eyes of Doom and it doesn't play around, repeatedly dragging her under the water every time she tries to breathe.
  • Mulan: The horses ridden by the Huns (particularly Shan-Yu's) have demonic red eyes, thick black bodies, and, of all things, fangs.
  • Rise of the Guardians: The nightmares created by Pitch Black take the shape of black demonic horses.
  • Unicorn Wars: The titular unicorns are presented this way. They're only shown as black silhouettes, some of them have Annoying Arrows sticking out of them from the bear soldiers' unsuccessful attempts to kill them, and their leader is implied to be some Eldritch Abomination pretending to be a unicorn.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avatar has the pa'li and the ikran, and if you're too badass to be satisfied with those there's the toruk and palulukan.
  • Batman Begins: The Scarecrow briefly rides around on a police horse. Due to the hallucinogens covering the area, the horse (and the Scarecrow) appears to be demonic from the point of view of a young boy.
  • The Day the Earth Froze: Ilmarinen the blacksmith forges a horse so that his buddy can plow an evil witch's field full of snakes. It comes out of the flames a bright and, err, rather fiery red. Yes, this film is based on a folktale, why do you ask?
  • Ghost Rider (2007): The Caretaker/old Ghost Rider, as per the comic, transforms his horse from an ordinary steed to a burning horse skeleton.
  • House II: The Second Story: The undead gunslinger villain rides a stop-motion skeleton horse to the climactic showdown.
  • Jumanji: Zebras are among the stampeding animals, and they will trample anything in sight.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The mounts of the Nazgûl look pretty monstrous (and later they upgrade to riding vulture/dragon "fell beasts") and have been specifically bred to withstand the Nazgûl's presence.
  • Sint has a horse that doesn't look too hellish at first sight, more like a bit of a zombie horse, but it definitely has hellish powers, and runs across the rooftops.
  • Thor: Odin rides a rare heroic example. His steed, Slepnir, is a giant black horse with eight legs. Considering it was shown inside of a pillar of exploding light, it invoked this trope quite a bit.
  • Tombs of the Blind Dead: The titular undead monks ride equally undead horses.

  • Trial of Champions has an unavoidable encounter against the Skeleton King, a powerful skeletal knight sitting on a skeletal horse, both who attacks you in tandem.

  • Horses appear rather hellish in the Bannon & Clare series as it is, as they are often turned into Magitek cyborgs instead of being eliminated by steam vehicles. Near the end, Bannon, a sorceress, combines the bits of dead horse cyborgs which were destroyed to prevent her following into a big monster horse made of corpse parts and metal scraps, much larger than a normal horse, which flies. It falls apart at dawn, as her powers work best at night; but by then she is close enough to the goal. Except that she's about 20 feet in the air.
  • The Hrulgin (singular: Hrulga) of The Belgariad definitely fall under this. They have claws and fangs, eat meat rather than grass, are intelligent but utterly insane, and travel in herds. Oh, and they're also evil, enough so that even the team's designated horse-empath reluctantly had to give up on taming one — the hrulgin are similar enough to horses that it almost works, but different enough from horses it makes him nauseous to try (the hrulgin are amused by this). He did consider catching one of the foals and crossbreeding it with a normal horse, but abandoned the plan on realizing you don't want a carnivorous horse in a kingdom based on cattle drives. Oh yeah, and they're all black, but that almost goes without saying...
  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Ghosts: The title character of The Pooka, a ghost horse that will drag its victims off to the underworld.
  • A Chorus of Dragons: When Khirin is being chased by a demonic hunt in the afterlife at the end of The Ruin of Kings, the huntsmen ride a variety of monstrous steeds. No two are alike, but they include horses made out of living fire or darkness, ones resembling freshly slaughtered corpses, skeletal steeds with glowing eyes, scaled reptilian equines, and the like, many with cold blue flames sparking from their hooves.
  • In Chronicles of the Kencyrath, rathorns (pronounced rath-orn, rather than rat-horn) are carnivorous armored unicorns matching many of these tropes, being fanged, double-horned (nose and forehead), red-eyed, and armored with ivory-like plates on head, neck, chest and forelegs. The armor plates continue to grow as long as the rathorn is alive, so the really old ones are also in constant pain and likely to smother in their own armor. They are notorious man-killers with really bad tempers, and are generally some combination of black and white, from all-black to all-white or various combinations.
  • Dilvish, the Damned: Dilvish spent two hundred years unjustly condemned to Hell. When he came back, he rode a fire-breathing, talking horse made of black steel and with cloven hooves. It also turned out to be capable of assuming human form. The "horse" was the demon who helped Dilvish escape Hell... or maybe not.
  • Discworld:
    • Spoofed. Death tried to use a demonic horse, but his skeletal horse kept falling apart and his flaming horse kept setting fire to the stables. He eventually settled on a flesh and blood pale horse, Binky (with supernatural speed, flight, and intelligence, but those might come with the job). The edgy New Death in Reaper Man plays it straight, though, with a skeletal horse wreathed in blue flames.
    • Downplayed with Boris from Going Postal. Though he isn't anything supernatural, he's 10 pounds of angry in a 5-pound bag — definitely the type of horse you'd describe as "hellish."
    • The unicorn from Lords and Ladies seems pretty because of its glamour, but if you look closely (as Granny Weatherwax would tell you to), you'd realise the fact that it's a large, angry horse with a huge horn. The "horses" ridden by the elves, meanwhile, are carnivores. We aren't told what sort of meat they prefer...
  • Good Omens:
    • Subverted; the actual Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse trade in the traditional horses for hogs. Motorcycles, that is.
    • Early in the book, Crowley reminisces about how in the old days, as a demon, he was required to only ride horses that were "big black jobs with eyes like flame and hooves that struck sparks". Usually he ended up falling off. He is eternally grateful to humanity for inventing the internal combustion engine because he'd much rather drive his expensive, black Cool Car.
  • Fengshen Yanyi: Luo Xuan rides the Red Smoke Foal, a bright red horse which can spread flames from his hooves. In an unusual variant, at least three different Taoists ride a Hellish Camel instead.
  • Zigzagged with Rurune from The Fruit of Evolution. She doesn't look terrifying — in fact, she looks like a regular donkey. But she's also insanely overpowered, to the point she kills an elephant-sized Hell Wolf, an A-ranked monster so fearsome that a gathering of over two dozen adventurers would rather turn back than fight it, with a single kick to the face. She's also a Proud Warrior Race Guy who has spent her whole life dreaming of finding a powerful adventurer to call her master, as well as a voracious glutton with a particular taste for meat.
  • One of the students in the Griezelklas books by Tais Teng is a Kelpie, a girl who can transform into a horse with the ability to lure in prey, then riding them into the water to drown and eat them. She's got shark-like teeth in her horse form, by the way.
  • Harry Potter: The Thestrals look like skeletal crosses between pegasi and dragons, only those who've seen death up close can see them, and to everyone else they're invisible. However, they're actually quite gentle and end up significantly aiding the main characters. According to Word of God, the Elder Wand, the strongest wand in history, is the only one to use thestral feather as its core, befitting its purported origin as a gift from Death to the eldest Peverell brother.
  • The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West: Anor (fangs, claws, eats meat) and the Horse with the Twisted Horn — fittingly enough, since these are the horse-world's equivalent of the Devil.
  • In Heralds of Valdemar the greatest product of the art of horse breeding is the Shin'a'in battlesteed, created over many generations and with the help of mages and healers manipulating the line. They're ugly, muscular creatures with enormous blocky heads, impressive stamina and toughness compared to granite, and very different behavior from normal horses. Instead of herd animals, they're pack animals which are trained exactingly along with the riders who depend on them so that they're completely dependable and can make their own decisions and solve problems to an extent. Way over in Valdemar it's thought that a line of large, difficult gray horses is descended from a battlesteed bought in Vanyel's time but an actual Shin'a'in hired to sort out their behavior problems thinks this is hilariously improbable, as had Vanyel himself.
  • Hurog: Ward's father owns a very fierce stallion, who throws him off one day, causing his death. Ward's uncle believes the horse is the monster from hell that has come to destroy the house of Hurog (there's a curse on the family), and recommends it be put to death. Ward... decides to keep the horse and rename it "Pansy". It turns out to be a normal, though Cool Horse.
  • The Not-Horses from Keys to the Kingdom look the part, being metallic and having glowing eyes. But they're fairly amiable and make for great mounts given that they are magical constructs. Even better, the not-horse Arthur rides is called Skwidge.
  • The Laundry Files: The titular creatures in the novella Equoid are large, carnivorous, sterile offspring of a different kind of Unicorn. Yes, you can ride them, if you don't mind your saddle having a roll cage and protective mesh to keep them from eating you. They're said to be the origins of such legends as kelpies, Baba Yaga's herd, the mares of Dionysus and the spawn of Shub-Niggurath.
  • The Legend of Drizzt: Jarlaxle has an obsidian figurine which he can use to summon a nightmare from the lower planes. Later on, he gives another figurine to his dwarf companion Arthogate, allowing him to conjure a demonic, fiery war pig hellbeast to serve as his mount. It should go without saying that this makes him the envy of every other height-deprived character in the series.
  • In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving does not describe the Headless Horseman's "goblin horse" as being anything other than "a black horse of powerful frame", though it does have a tendency to vanish in a "flash of fire and brimstone".
  • In The Lord of the Rings, the Mouth of Sauron rides a huge hideous horse, with a face like a skull, and flames burning in its eye sockets.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: In "The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention", Lord Peter encounters a mysterious, silent "death-coach" drawn by noiseless, headless horses. Of course, Lord Peter has had a few...
  • Karsa Orlong from Malazan Book of the Fallen sets out into the Jhag Odhan to get himself a Jhag horse, a gigantic breed the Jaghut cultivated to be carnivorous and especially aggressive. He names his steed Havok, after his father's late destrier.
  • The Moon of Gomrath sees Susan, a novice white witch in all but name, petting an insistent pony in a field. She wonders why it is so keen on her getting on and riding it, but eleven-year-old female instincts take over. She realises as it gallops over a cliff into a flooded quarry, and its eyes turn a blazing demonic red, that maybe it might have been wiser not to give into temptation.note  In the sequel Boneland, Susan's presumed death is apparently down to her riding a horse into a lake at night, falling off, and drowning. The same demonic entity again?
  • Interesting variation in the Old Kingdom trilogy — the skeletal, fiery horse being ridden by Hedge actually commits suicide by leaping into a river when Hedge is knocked off, because becoming a Hellish Horse put it in so much pain.
  • Albedo from Overlord (2012) finds out that she has actually has one of these she can summon, a Bicorn in fact. Played for laughs when it's revealed that the thing won't let its succubus ride it because it's the Evil Knockoff of a unicorn and she doesn't meet the qualifications. Both Shalltear and Aura can't help but laugh.
  • Quest For a Kelpie by Frances Mary Hendry has a Scottish girl seeking out a Kelpie to ride to grant a wish (see below to see why she didn't do research on that one).
  • In The Riftwar Cycle, the Dark Elf leader Murmandamus rides a horse covered in red scales, whose mane and tail are living flame. Naturally, its eyes glow red too.
  • In Sheep's Clothing, the vampire Russeau uses vaguely demonic horses to pull his coach, because normal horses freak out at the presence of the supernatural. In the sequel, Hungry as a Wolf, Wolf Cowrie has taken possession of one of these horses and named it Lucifer.
  • In Silver on the Tree, Will and Bran are menaced by a terrifying skeletal horse.
  • Spellsinger: M'nemaxa is a monster in the shape of a winged horse made up of suns, with dragonfly eyes.
  • Summer Knight has Harry making a voyage into Faerie and encountering a unicorn. However, since this is the Winter quarter of Faerie, the unicorn has scales and a gigantic corkscrew on its head.
  • Near the end of Three Hearts and Three Lions, an unseen Hell Horse stalks the hero, shortly after he escapes from The Wild Hunt. From 1941-1944, there was an art journal in occupied Denmark called The Hell-Horse (Helhesten). Anderson's story features a Danish man who falls into a magical world after being shot by Nazis in WWII.
  • The Tortall Universe has the Hurroks, bat-winged horses with fangs and claws. "Hurrok" is said to be a slurring of "horse-hawk".
  • D's horse in Vampire Hunter D in at least one incarnation is actually some sort of cyborg, but can appear pretty monstrous. A memorable caption in Anime Insider has someone ask D what's wrong with it, and all he can say was "I don't know." According to the light novels, his horse is a perfectly ordinary cyborg horse that can be bought from any livery stable in the Frontier, but D's influence will make it gallop faster and longer than any other, at least until its inevitable demise from the wildlife or from D riding it too hard.
  • Welkin Weasels, in a Shout-Out to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, features the dreaded manless horsehead, the hovering head of a riderless horse which flies around eating people.

    Live-Action TV 
  • GARO has the Madouba, which resemble metallic horses. Unlike most examples, they assist the Makai Knights.
  • Mahou Sentai Magiranger (and its American adaptation, Power Rangers Mystic Force), has Barikion (Catastros), the black horse ridden by the dark knight Wolzard (Koragg). A normal horse at normal size, but can become Humongous Mecha-ish with a Make My Monster Grow spell (much as the Rangers themselves that year, instead of the usual machines.) There is also a good counterpart: Unigolon (Brightstar), a white unicorn ridden by the Red Ranger. The character model was reused and recolored: Hades God Sleipnir in the later part of the series has a chariot pulled by two of the mecha-horsies. The whole thing actually rides up from a pit in the ground that he creates.
  • Pushing Daisies has the "Ghost" of John Joseph Jacobs riding a horse that somehow blows fire from its nostrils.

  • In the famous ballad "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", a Cowboy sees a herd of Hellish cattle as well as damned souls of cowboys on Hellish Horses telling him to "change his ways" if he doesn't want to share their fate.
  • The Nightmare, or rather "Nacht--mar" in At Night It Comes (naturally) by Lost in Oblivion -
    Breath of the thunder. Hooves of flame.
    Down in the darkness you answer no name...
  • Neon Indian's "Sleep Paralysist" video features some eerie horses with glowing green eyes that come out at night and get the souls of sleeping girls to ride them. One could say that they're... night mares.
  • Voltaire's song "Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children".
  • The WWI German march song "Der Tod im Flandern (Death at Flanders)" begins as:
    Der Tod reitet auf einem kohlenschwarzen Rappen,
    Er hat eine undurchsichtige Kappen.
    (The Death rides with a coal black steed: he has an intransparent black cloak)
  • There's a whole lot of hellish horses on the cover of Sufjan Stevens's A Sun Came!
  • Manowar's eponymous "Dark Avenger" is given of these to go with his new sword for his return from Hell to the world of the living. As narrated by Orson Welles, no less.
  • "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler: The demonic outlaw cowboys ride on these black horses in their battle with the angelic white cowboy in the music video.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Sleipnir from Norse Mythology, one of the oldest examples, had eight legs and other monstrous features, as well as a pretty sick origin. Despite this, though, it was a relatively gentle and well-behaved horse. Meanwhile, there's also Hrímfaxi, the black horse of night itself, and Skinfaxi, Árvakr and Alsviðr, the flaming steeds of day and the sun.
  • In Icelandic folklore, draugar can appear as horses. A draugr is a dangerous and powerful undead that can change form when tormenting the living, and one of their forms is that of a grey horse with a broken back, but no ears or tail.
  • The Fairy Raed, also known as The Wild Hunt, has appeared in various forms in European mythology. Generally, the horses being ridden were huge and black, sometimes with demonic features, and together with their riders, who were either the damned or Fae, and hellhounds would hunt the living (or the dying, or the recently dead, depending on who you asked) and drive them to hell. Just seeing the Raed was bad luck, foretelling strife or plague. Depending on the time period and location, the leader of the Raed was either a lost soul or deity. Odin has been associated with the Wild Hunt.
    • The wild hunt has also appeared in numerous works over the years, including poetry, fantasy novels, and videogames.
  • Also appears in Celtic Mythology with the kelpie, or water-horse, a shapeshifting monster which more often took the form a horse and inhabited bodies of water such as lochs (in fact the original tales of the Loch Ness Monster described it as a kelpie). These monsters would often disguise themselves as fine ponies or horses and stand near the water's edge. Once a person mounted the water-horse, its skin would become inescapably sticky and it would plunge into the deepest part of the water, drowning the unfortunate victim, who was then torn apart and eaten (apart from the liver, which would float ashore). There's also a more obscure fire counterpart, known as the Each Tened.
    • Depending on the versions, it could turn into an attractive man/woman to make luring people into the water easier.
    • Similarily, Swedish folklore has the Bäckahäst, or Brook Horse, an otherworldly beautiful, but predatory, pale horse that instilled a nigh-irresistable urge in all children who saw it to ride it. For every child that got up on the horse's back, its spine would lengthen so that there always was more room for more riders, and every child that got up on it could also never get off again. Finally, the Brook Horse would leap into a river or a brook and drown all of its riders. It was often believed that the Brook Horse was an alternative form of the Neck, a fiddle-playing spirit that would lure young women close to it with its music and then drown them, and some legends describe the Brook Horse as a pale horse with arms and hands, walking on its hindlegs.
  • Older Than Feudalism: The Eighth Task of Hercules was to steal the Mares of Diomedes, who had regularly fed them human meat. Some accounts say they could also breathe fire from their nostrils. At the end, Hercules himself killed Diomedes and fed him to his Mares. In some versions of the myth, the Mares became tame for the rest of their lives after devouring their evil master. Others have them being released into the forests of Argos and killed by bears, wolves, and lions sent by Zeus himself.
    • There were also the horses of Hades that pulled his chariot. There names were Orphnaeus, Aethon, Nyctaeus and Alastor. They were said to be as black as night and breathed either fire, or mist of pure death. One unfinished epic mentions him driving them in front of an army of the dead during the war against the giants.
  • The Celtic Puca (or Pooka) can play this trope straight, or it can be more benevolent, Depending on the Writer.
  • In Brazilian Folklore, a woman who fornicates with a priest turns into a Mula-sem-Cabeça (Headless Mule). It's a dreadful black mule that has no head, but somehow, manages to spew fire from its non-existent nose. It also has iron hoofs that make a horrible noise when the mule gallops. The transformed woman has to ride through seven parishes each night until she returns to the original parish where she sinned, or someone either stabs her with a needle or take away her bridle while she is transformed. The myth also has variations across Latin America, such as the Almamula in Argentina.
  • In Greek Mythology the sun god Helios has a chariot pulled by fiery horses — in case you missed that detail, their names, Aethon, Aeos, Pyrois, and Phlegon, will remind you, as they are Greek words and expressions relating to fire and light. Other sun gods of other Indo-European religions share the sun-chariot motif, but much on the steeds isn't specified, an exception being Surya, whose horse is seven headed.
  • The Four Horsemen of The Bible.
  • The Nuckelavee of Orkney folklore is an evil sea-creature; whenever it makes landfall, it takes the form of a skinless horse with yellow veins and black blood, often merged with an equally grotesque human rider so that the two were one being. Nuckelavee would spread illness to crops, horses, and humans with its poisoned breath. The only way to escape it was to cross fresh water, which it refused to approach.
  • In a popular legend from Italy, a sinner King is picked up by a fiendish-looking black mare who takes him to a ride across the whole peninsula, ending with the steed jumping with her rider into Vesuvius.
  • Catalan mythology has Count Arnau, a sinful noble that was condemned to wander the Earth forever on a black horse that spills fire through the mouth and eyes.
  • Despite how it's generally portrayed in modern fantasy, the mythological creature known as the "Nightmare" is not this trope, but rather a sort of small goblin thing that brings bad dreams by sitting on your chest while you sleep. It's from German mythology, and the word "mare" doesn't refer to a horse in German but instead the mythological creature known as the "Nightmare".
  • The Segua, Cegua or Sihua in Mesoamerica, it's a seductive beautiful woman that turns into a horrible mare corpse once she lured men, sometimes to kill them, sometimes just to scare the crap out of them.
  • In Hindu Mythology, the demon Keshi transforms into a giant horse in order to do battle with the hero Krishna. It is said that while in horse form, he gains the ability to move at the speed of thought, and his hooves carve deep trenches into the earth as he gallops.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech: Clan Hell's Horses takes its name from the titular species, genetically altered to survive the mountains of planet Circe. True to their title, they are red-furred, carnivorous and wildly impossible to domesticate.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The Nightmare is a horse-like monster from the Lower Planes that is ridden by Blackguards and powerful Evil creatures. It has glowing red eyes, a blazing mane, burning hooves and fangs. Oh, and they can fly and teleport across the planes. Numerous later fantasy works have later copied the idea, many of them likely not realizing "nightmare" as a horse-thing was a silly pun rather than an actual mythological creature. (The "mare" of "nightmare" is actually a goblinlike creature called a "mara".)
    • In addition, Natara, Commander of the Infernal Charge of Avernus, has a black unicorn with bat-wings.
    • Dragon: An article in issue #243 introduces the Equars, nine intelligent magical horses from the Outer Planes that represented different alignments. They included the handsome, black Banecourser (Lawful Evil); the sickly, ratlike Roasinante (Neutral Evil); and the monstrous red-eyed Charnalbalk (Chaotic Evil).
    • Forgotten Realms has the black unicorn, which is a Chaotic Evil jet black unicorn that relishes the taste of meat (preferring human, elven and especially unicorn flesh).
    • Ravenloft has corrupt unicorns called shadow unicorns, which are the Neutral Evil spawn of a fallen unicorn named Addar and one of the above-mentioned Nightmares.
  • Warhammer:
    • Daemonic mounts in both games range from Juggernauts of Khorne, rhino-like critters made out of a combination of iron and hellfire, to Steeds of Slaanesh, unnaturally-captivating serpents mostly comprised of breasts and a really long tongue. At the outer reaches of this trope are the Discs of Tzeentch, which are exactly what they sound like; flying, fire-wreathed metal disks that sprout swirling blades around the outer rim in combat. The generic Daemonic Mount (with no associating to any one god) is usually depicted as some sort of ashen-coat horse (hellfire eyes are usually left up to the painter).
    • Warhammer Fantasy:
      • The Vampire counts have mounts called Nightmares, which fits this trope (the exact look of the Nightmare can vary, since it's cobbled together out of corpses, but it tends to be at least vaguely horse-like). There's also the Felsteed, which is a winged Nightmare (and, in previous editions, was named exactly that).
      • Skeleton horses are often used by undead, earlier editions had them in use by both Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings.
      • Archaon rides a daemonic steed called Dorghar, the Steed of the Apocalypse. It's basically a horse so powerfully evil that whoever rides it is foretold as the man who will finally allow the world to be consumed by Chaos.
      • Among the beasts used by the Dark Elves are Dark Pegasi, which are distinguished from their regular counterparts by black coats, bat wings, horns and red eyes, among other demonic traits.
    • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: The Varanguards ride massive, kinda horse-like things.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Nightmare is typed as both a Nightmare (that is, a living manifestation of fear) and a Horse, and resembles a shadowy equine with flames burning at its hooves.
      "The thunder of its hooves beats dreams into despair."'
    • Plague Mare, another Nightmare Horse from a later set, is a black horse with red eyes, a mane trailing off into shadowy mist, and purple flames flickering at its nostrils.
    • The Cult of Rakdos in Return to Ravnica has Carnival Hellsteed. It has six legs and two skeletal heads.
  • Orpheus characters who have managed to become Orphan-Grinders can summon one of these as one of their abilities.
  • Rifts: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride demonic horse-like mounts called Nether Beasts. Though Pestilence's Nether Beast looks like a giant beetle.
  • Exalted: The Abyssals and their Deathlord masters ride them. A particular Abyssal charm gives a horse (or yeddim, or...) more running power or fighting power, but inevitably turns it hellish (as in, becoming a Creature of Darkness).
  • Pathfinder: Nightmares are evil horse-like creatures that inhabit the plane of Abaddon and are used as mounts by the Neutral Evil race of fiends, daemons. The leaders of the daemons, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, each rude an exceptionally powerful unique nightmare, with powers and appearance based on its rider's aspect. The Apocalypse Horse of death looks like a decaying corpse and can cause Rapid Aging, the apocalypse horse of pestilence is covered in leaking sores and can inflict enemies with leprosy and other awful diseases, the apocalypse horse of famine is emaciated and drains strength, and the apocalypse horse of war appears alive and hearty and possesses an Agony Beam.

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: In the prologue, Venom Snake and Ocelot are chased by the Man in the Flames using a Horse- in the Flames. Later in the game you can even develop a alternative skin for D-Horse dressed just like him called Furicorn (without the flames, unfortunately).
  • Heroes of Might and Magic has Nightmares, essentially horses/unicorns from hell. True to their name, their very proximity lowers enemy morale and their attacks have a chance to send the enemy running away in terror. The debuted in IV aligned with the Asylum faction, before becoming part of the Inferno faction in V.
  • Final Fantasy X: The summon Ixion has been described as a unicorn on steroids, and that's fairly accurate. The horn alone looks more like something one would see on a can opener — a can opener from hell that's used for scalping tortured souls. Fittingly, Dark Ixion from Final Fantasy XI is an endgame Superboss.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: A pre-order bonus grants you a mount called the "bog unicorn". It is so called because, rather than being a literal unicorn, it is an undead horse with a sword driven through its skull that gives the appearance of a horn. Rather than being brought back from the dead by mystical means, much of the dialog surrounding it implies that it simply willed itself back to life just to help.
  • Shin Megami Tensei has an array of demons/Personas who appear as either monstrous horses or as fiendish horse-riders.
    • Eligor and Berith both appear as fiendish knights riding mighty steeds.
    • There are multiple fiends who appear as humanoid horses. Orobas is a fire-wielding demon price from the Goetia. Kumbhanda is a life-sucking evil spirit from Japanese Buddhist mythology, which appears here as an emaciated horse-man. Mezuki is a horse-faced oni from the Chinese Buddhist hells. The Kinnara and Kinnari are male & female spirits (respectively) from Indian Hindu beliefs. Hayagriva appears as a humanoid, fang-mouthed zebra with its arms either missing or bound behind its back. Indara is the embodiment of the Horse in the Chinese Zodiac and appears as a crimson humanoid horse wielding two maces or a sword.
    • Naturally, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse each ride one of this. White Rider's covered in eyes.
    • Bicorn is a black horse with red eyes and two curled, goat-like horns. Lorewise, it's described as an Evil Counterpart to the unicorn; a savage, flesh-eater that symbolizes wickedness and impurity.
    • Kelpie is a malicious fairy horse that likes to drown and eat humans. It appears as the front half of a green, water-soaked horse that trails off into tendrils of interweaving water weeds, as a Shout-Out to Dungeons & Dragons.note 
    • Orias is a fiendish humanoid lion who appears riding a blue-and-white horse.
    • Centaur is notorious for appearing not as the traditional "man's upper torso on a horse's shoulders", but as a borderline Animalistic Abomination; a humanoid body with horse's legs and no head, but instead having two horses fused to the humanoid body's shoulders where their front legs should be, with the horizontally-aligned heads forming a semblance of a face, and each horse's hindlegs melded into a singular twisted "arm".
    • Sleipnir appears as an eight-legged horse with curving, blade-like horns.
    • In the Devil Summoner sub-line, Nightmare changes from its traditional Creepy Child or Undead Child appearance to instead being a Creepy Child dressed up in a horse costume.
    • Mezuki is a sword-carrying oni with the head of a horse.
    • Gamigin is a literal example of the trope, being a Goetic demon who appears as a talking horse.
    • The Jersey Devil appears as an emaciated black horse with bat-like wings, a devil's tail, overly long, spindly limbs, and a twisted, near-bipedal bodily composition.
    • Apaosha is the demonic personification of drought in Zoroastrian mythology, and appears as a horse with bat's wings and a fanged human skull for a head.
    • Vine is a Goetic demon who appears as a shaggy humanoid with a Skull for a Head and a lion's face in his chest riding a black horse with a unicorn-like horn.
    • Hrimfaxi appears as a half-formed ghostly horse.
  • In World of Warcraft, Warlocks can learn to summon and ride Felsteeds and Dreadsteeds. They have flaming hooves and evil red eyes, and glowing red cracks form in the ground beneath it when they're summoned.
    • The racial mount for the Undead is a skeletal horse. There are also two other hellish horses, The Huntsman's Steed and the Headless Horseman's Steed. Both are extremely rare (0.1% droprate) mounts that look like horses with flaming green hooves, burning eyes and green fire on their back. Bonus points for the Horseman's mount for being able to fly.
    • There's also Baron Rivendare's Deathcharger, a skeletal horse available from the eponymous boss in the "dead" side of Stratholme, at an equally rare chance.
    • In an early quest ("early" ignoring that the character's first 54 levels went by before the player is put in control) Death Knights gain an Acherus Deathcharger. Different color scheme, presumably different genealogy, different skin, but similar effect as the warlock mount. They also let out an ear-piercing shriek when summoned that can only barely be recognized as a neigh. Slightly different in that you catch the horse that gets horrifically converted into your undead mount yourself. You Bastard!. For maximum comedy, steal the colt.
    • There is also Attumen's steed, not ANY better than your normal epic mounts, but it is a Bragging Rights Reward on its own as it has a very low droprate.
    • Then you can have Invincible, Arthas' Deathcharger, which can fly too, and slightly faster than common fliers. But most of its value comes from merely owning it, which shouts "I KILLED THE LICH KING ON 25-MAN HEROIC!".
  • The Demonic Invaders faction in the Warlords Battlecry series have a unit called the "Nightmare". They look like normal horses, except for the red eyes, the body covered with spikes and the fact that they lack skin.
  • Geryon from Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening is a Hellish Horse boss. It's so badass that its drawn carriage can fire missiles.
  • Ganondorf, unsurprisingly, rides one of these, in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, as well as in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, where you have to face him in a horseback battle. He's a better swordsman than Link on horseback, but you've got Zelda and her Light Arrows to compensate. It also shows up in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom where Ganondorf, who had become the Demon King after stealing Queen Sonia's Secret Stone, rides it while leading his army of monsters to destroy Hyrule to make his new kingdom.
    • The game averts a potentially hilarious subversion. When Ingo took over Lon Lon Ranch, he originally intended to give EPONA to Ganondorf. Imagine seeing Ganondorf riding possibly the cutest horse in the ranch.
    • The German translation of Ocarina of Time further emphasizes this: a Gossip Stone mentions that Ganondorf's steed may very well be from Hell.
    • In Breath of the Wild, as well as its sequel, you can actually tame and ride a gigantic black horse for yourself. It's implied to be of the same kind that Ganondorf rode in the past. Ironically, you can even use this horse against Ganon in the final battle in the former! It's also possible to ride one of the skeletal Stalhorses, but you're not allowed to keep it at a stable because the owner will exclaim "That's a monster, not a horse!" and will worry that it'll try to eat the other horses. On the bright side, a certain NPC in the Tabantha Tundra will give you 100 rupees for showing her a photo of one and it's useful for crossing Gloom patches in The Depths.
  • Red Hare from the most recent Dynasty Warriors. Looks quite hellish in the official art for the game with Lu Bu, but quite gentle in the official art with Guan Yu.
  • The first official boss in Final Fantasy XII is the Firemane — a gigantic, spectral warhorse made entirely out of living fire.
    • Later horse-type enemies would have either ghastly, spike-covered, crescent-shaped helms that obscured their skulls, or simply had tentacles sprouting from their manes. The latter tend to be particularly vicious, and were often actual demons.
      • A special mention goes to Helvinek, the purple horse demon appearing in the Necrohol of Nabudis, which is one of the few enemies that can actually chase you between zones.
  • King's Quest VI:
    • Night Mare is a black pegasus which Alexander has to charm with a concoction including sulfur, brimstone, and a hair from either Beauty or Cassima (fantasy horses like maidens) for the best-ending sidequest. It also eats deadly nightshade berries for lunch.
    • The sequel, The Princeless Bride, features another one called Necromancer, who gallops through the skies of Ooga-Booga baring the ruler of the land, Count Tepish. Helping them is one of the tasks Rosella must complete.
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade: Torahime rides atop a colossal phantom horse with its skeleton visible.
  • Battle Realms: Regardless what color the horse originally was, all the horses the Lotus Clan use (shadow steeds) are coal black and can breathe fire.
  • Darksiders: Ruin, whose rider is none other than The Horseman of War.
  • Pokémon:
    • Downplayed with Kantonian Ponyta and Rapidash note . Both of them look like horses with flaming manes, but don't look that scary. Rapidash even combines this trope with the Unicorn, by being a unicorn with flaming manes.
    • The Crown Tundra DLC in Pokémon Sword and Shield introduces a closer example in Spectrier, one of two possible Legendary steeds for Calyrex. It's a Ghost-type, pitch black horse with a flowing purple mane and hooves that aren't visibly connected to the ends of its legs. The lore surrounding it shows that it was once considered a menace in the area because of its tendency to harrass locals and raid their crops, but was eventually tamed by Calyrex. Its counterpart, Glastrier, is further from this trope, being a white horse covered in spikes made of ice, but is described as acting similarly to Spectrier and still represents the harshness of winter.
    • Pokémon Uranium, a fan game, has Oblivicorn, a dark, fearsome and Red and Black and Evil All Over version of its more benevolent unicorn preevolutions.
  • Red Dead Redemption Has a horse known appropriately as the "dead horse". In addition to being covered in claw marks, it's missing one eye, the lower jaw and half of its left front leg. It can be ridden, but not in normal game play, you have to use a edited save file or mod one yourself, but you can see it laying dead in the mission "Spare the Love, Spoil the Child" if you go to the cave, or in this YouTube video: [1].
  • Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare: There's the Undead Horse, it appears when you whistle for your horse after it has died. It's faster and has infinite stamina, but it's much harder to control.
    • It also has the Four Horses of the Apocalypse. War has a flaming mane, tall and feet, Death causes zombies' heads to explode, Pestilence is Nigh Invulnerable and is surrounded by a sickly green cloud, Famine is trailed by a swarm of locusts.
  • DragonQuest:
    • Dragon Quest V: Kon the Knight, one of the main enforcers of the evil Order of Zugzwang, is a grey-skinned, red-maned giant horse. Normal enemy versions of him, Revaulting Horses and Pummel Horses, are encountered later in the game, while Revaulting Horses themselves can be recruited.
    • Dragon Quest IX: The first grotto boss is Equinox, a pretty Badass lookin' horse. He has powers related to darkness and hates humanity. In some of the higher-level grottos, Tantamounts and Godsteeds, normal enemy versions of Equinox can be encountered. All three of them reappear in Dragon Quest X and Dragon Quest XI, with more variants introduced in the former such as Hippocampers, while the Equinox itself becomes a Degraded Boss in the latter.
  • For a while in the more recent updates of Dwarf Fortress, kicking was incredibly powerful. Biting still is. Horses can use both attacks. And if you embark in evil territory, you can get attacked by skeletal and zombie horses, which are much harder to kill than living horses... to say nothing of the potential for randomly-generated horse demons and Forgotten Beasts.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Shadowmere, who appears in both Oblivion and Skyrim, is an immortal, possibly undead horse with sleek black fur and glowing red eyes, in service to the Dark Brotherhood. Despite appearances, Shadowmere is always perfectly loyal to the Player Character once acquired.
    • Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC adds Arvak, a skeletal, blue-fire-glowing horse you can acquire in and summon from the Soul Cairn. Like Shadowmere, he is perfectly friendly to the player.
    • The Elder Scrolls Online:
      • The Nightmare Courser is a black horse with flaming eyes, nostrils, and hooves available in the cash shop.
      • The Storm Atronach Horse is another, built similarly to the series' Storm Atronachs, a type of elementally aligned lesser Daedra.
    • From the backstory, the Direnni Clan of Altmer (High Elves) were masterful conjurers, known to be able summon Flame Atronachs in any shape they desired. During the Battle of Glenumbria Moors against the Alessian Order, they famously summoned Flame Atronachs in the shape of horses and rode them into the battle.
  • Ragnarok Online: Nightmare is a ghost horse that is immune to non-elemental attacks.
  • Phileasson's Secret: Kazak the Blood Covered One is a demonic humanoid horse demon who can walk on his back legs and carries a giant scythe.
  • Year Walk: The Brook Horse, is a pale, Sharp-Dressed Horse, halfway submerged in a river. According to folklore, it's quite infanticidal and, as it happens, during the game it wants the player to fetch it four Mylings, souls of murdered infants, in exchange for a key... The Brook Horse would make quite the perfect mount for Slender Man.
  • Bayonetta 2 has one of the new demons, Diomedes, as a giant horse that can be summoned as a finisher for some of the enemies. Did we mention that Diomedes is a Hellish eight-legged Unicorn with a BFS rather than a horn?
  • Dark Souls 2: The Executioner's Chariot, an optional boss that spends its time torturing Undead endlessly for sport. It's a chariot pulled by a massive two-headed horse with glowing red eyes and is shrouded in darkness. The kicker? The description of its boss soul indicates that the horse was the thing in control of the chariot: the rider in the chariot itself was possessed by the horse's murderous will to inflict pain and torment upon its victims.
  • Dota 2:
    • Abaddon, the Lord of Avernus, has an unnamed steed that seems to be a translucent spectral horse, although it is never really mentioned in-game.
    • Chaos Knight is basically the setting's equivalent to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and rides an appropriately demonic-looking horse named Armageddon.
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt you encounter an imprisoned nature spirit, which asks Geralt to perform a ritual to free it. The ritual involves taming a black mare and bringing her to the prison so the spirit can use her body to manifest... afterwards, the mare has glowing red eyes and begins rampaging through the countryside, taking revenge against the servants of the beings who imprisoned it.
    • One of the possible rewards for the first DLC is an enchanted saddle that turns Roach into a scary black horse that emits smoke, attracts insects and scares enemies that come close, stunning them.
  • Warcraft III: Death Knights get to ride skeletal horses.
  • Total War: Warhammer:
    • Vampire Counts Hero Units can ride skeletal horses and undead Nigthmares, as well as felsteeds, winged Nightmares resembling bat-winged undead pegasi. A regular unit, the Hexwraiths, is mounted on skeletal, ghostly horses.
    • The Warriors of Chaos ride monstrous steeds with flames around their hooves and muzzles.
  • Phear Lap in Cuphead is a skeletal racehorse that acts a miniboss in the Devil's Casino level.
  • It's possible to invoke this in Robot Unicorn Attack 2, particularly in the aptly themed "Inferno" level. Unlock the right combination of mods, and you can be playing as a nightmare beast any daemonlord would be proud to ride.
  • Shadow of the Colossus has the Fourth Colossus, Phaedra, which resembles a giant horse with spindly, crab-like legs.
  • Minecraft zig-zags the trope with skeleton horses, that appear as traps in the Overworld during thunderstorms. Get close to one and it'll spawn four more, all mounted by skeleton archers with iron helmets and enchanted bows; that said, the skeleton horses themselves are not hostile and can even be ridden like normal horses, provided you put a saddle on them.


    Web Original 
  • Creepypasta Cookoff: The subject of "An Equine Question" is creature resembling a horse, but it has hair thick enough to be used as rope, can talk like a human, and will apparently survive decapitation
  • Bad Horse, the leader of the Evil League of Evil in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is supposedly like this, according to other characters' descriptions, including having a terrible Death Whinny. He isn't a horse-themed villain, as much as an actual horse.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle, the pilot for the original series, features the Evil Overlord, Tirek/Tirac, a hellish centaur that kidnaps some ponies and turns them literally into nightmare horses for his own chariot.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • Nightmare Moon is an evil Winged Unicorn with an all-black coat, midnight-blue armor, sharp teeth, slit-pupiled eyes, and a mane resembling a moving star field.
      • "Luna Eclipsed": Luna's guards. Not evil, but you wouldn't confuse them for any run-of-the-mill Royal Guard, what with their reptilian slit-pupiled eyes and bat-like wings.
      • "Feeling Pinkie Keen": Played for laughs. Twilight Sparkle becomes so angry that she turns pale and her mane and tail ignite in flame for a few moments.
      • "Hearth's Warming Eve" introduces the Windigos, malevolent winter spirits who feed on hatred and appear as a trio of spectral horses.
      • "A Canterlot Wedding" has the Changelings, black insectile ponies that feed off of love; they have large, solidly colored eyes, frills instead of manes, chitinous-looking skin, fly-like wings, twisted horns, and holes in their legs. Ironically, after undergoing a Heel–Face Turn, their redemption sees them transformed into brightly colored and far less intimidating-looking forms.
      • "The Crystal Empire" introduces King Sombra, who is, in theory, just a very powerful and evil unicorn, but his flowing shadowy mane, glowing eyes and wickedly curved and pointed horn push him definitively into Hellish Horse territory. The comics from IDW Publishing make him a full-blown Animalistic Abomination, being a shadowy demon-thing in the shape of a unicorn as opposed to flesh and blood.
      • "A Royal Problem" introduces one that isn't real but a literal nightmare: Daybreaker, the hypothetical Superpowered Evil Side of Celestia. Unlike Nightmare Moon, Daybreaker does have a demonic motif, including a literally fiery mane and burnt-red sclerae in her eyes. While Nightmare Moon is the result of Luna giving in to envy, Daybreaker is what Celestia would become if she stopped caring about others and decided It's All About Me.
  • Futurama plays with this by having a HoloDeck simulation gone wrong and the holographic version of Spirit, a pony Amy wanted but didn't get as a kid (because she had too many ponies already) turn bad and grows fangs — while Atilla the Hun was riding it.
  • Played for laughs when Robot Chicken did a sketch about "My Little Pony: Apocalypse Pony."
  • Young Blood's skeleton horse in Danny Phantom, and Fright Knight's freaky winged demon horse.
  • Parodied with relish in (of all places) Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer. Stormy's horse Skydancer rages screaming through the clouds, causes lightning to fire off everywhere he stomps, snorts freezing rain, and has the obligatory Goshawk-red mad eyes and badass attitude. Starlite (essentially a Small Name, Big Ego magical horse) challenges him to a race, overtakes him, and ends the winter in the process. The infuriated Skydancer screams and foams and snorts... a tiny rainbow.
  • In Thundarr the Barbarian, the human heroes ride ordinary horses, while Ookla the Mok rides an "equort," something that looks likes a cross between a horse and a bug.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Mr. Burns tries to bribe Lisa with three beautiful ponies. When Lisa regretfully refuses, they reveal their true nature...
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons (1983) cartoon, Venger rides a Nightmare (see Tabletop Games, above).
  • In the She-Ra: Princess of Power episode "The Price of Power", there are the Dark Riders. They consist of armored skeletons (with the Horde emblem) riding dark grey bodied, black-maned bat-winged horses with Blank White Eyes.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters: Sir Trance-a-Lot's steed Frightmare. The note  Headless Horseman appeared in one episode; unusually, there was nothing out of the ordinary about his horse because he wasn't there to scare anybody.
  • In Doug, after lying about his level of horsemanship expertise to impress Patti, Doug gets saddled with a black horse named Sugar. Sugar is stubborn and unfriendly, but calms down when Patti takes the reins.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Tom has a skeleton horse. Apparently, he didn’t know he was dead, and seems quite distraught by the realization.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television, at least in terms of behaviour: Zebras kill more zookeepers than any other animal. There's a reason that despite thousands of years worth of attempts to domesticate them, no one has ever succeeded.
    • Onagers (Asian wild asses or "half asses") had a similar reputation in Roman times. They gave their name to a type of catapult that was said to throw big rocks as far as a real onager could throw a man after kicking him.
    • And historic warhorses got trained to show this behavior, kicking their attackers.
    • In his memoirs, General Marbot tells the story of one of his mounts, Lisette, a mare whose achievements include biting off the face of at least one Russian grenadier, kicking another to death and tearing his entrails out, doing the same to at least one stable-boy and being used as a guard-horse to catch a thief.
    • Some horses have apparently Ascended to Carnivorism with reports of certain individuals killing and eating small animals or human beings. While horses are only one of many traditionally herbivorous animals have been reported nibbling on flesh every so often as cheap protein, how widespread this behaviour is remains up to debate given that herbivores that have been fed large amounts of meat can actually become sick and die. Most often it occurs as a response to either extreme stress or a serious dietary deficiency, typically calcium.
  • Driving into or out of Denver International Airport treats you to the sight of what is supposed to be a statue of a Blue Mustang, but its eyes glow red. Drive by this at night and you can get a good idea of this trope. It's officially called "El Mesteño"note , but most locals refer to it as "Blucifer". Others nickname it the "Demon Horse" for good reason. And to make matters even freakier, it killed its sculptornote , making it a rather literal Creator Killer.
  • Bucephalus, the famous mount of Alexander the Great, was said to be nigh-untamable and was initially turned down by Philip of Macedon when offered the horse by a trader until a young Alexander managed to subdue him. Many legends sprang up around Bucephalus that gave him supernatural origins and/or powers in the centuries that followed.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Evil Horse, Demonic Steed


Geryon, the Timesteed

Geryon, once a noble beast who served as a steed to many heroes, now corrupted into a monster after ingesting demonsoul essence.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HellishHorse

Media sources: