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Hungry Jungle

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"Beware, beware the Bight of Benin. Where one came out, fifty went in."

When not a run of Jungle Japes, the jungle is a harsh and hostile place, frequently deadly for its denizens, but even more ferocious to outsiders no matter what gear they bring with them. This jungle is treated as a semi-sentient entity; a soup of consciousness composed of the ferocity of its native life and climate. And it hungers. It devours sane minds with its stifling and claustrophobic atmosphere, infecting all who enter with a slow, creeping madness in an effort to make them its own. This same climate breeds fetid decay and disease, which likewise infests the body. On top of this, the marvels of modern technology count for nothing. The humidity of the jungle devours advanced technology in a trice. Keeping anything working is a constant, day-to-day struggle to keep up with the jungle's ruination, which further wears at the sanity and morale of any who try it.


The only way out is to die or go mad. Here, you can't imagine there's a world beyond the jungle. The jungle boils everything down to its rawest, most savage form.

God help you if you have to fight a war here, which isn't unknown. Compare Darkest Africa. Also tends to be full of Big Creepy-Crawlies.

See also Don't Go in the Woods. Closely related to River of Insanity. Sort of like the Thirsty Desert, though the similar names are coincidental.



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     Fan Fic 
  • The setting of the first story in The Vinyl And Octavia Series, Vinyl and Octavia Machete Their Way Through The Jungle.
  • A.A. Pessimal's Discworld adventure Bungle In The Jungle deals with a brief and nasty border war in Howondaland. Among other things, an Assassin most used to cities is utterly appalled when a colleague with far more experience of these environments goes into detail about all the things that could kill you or else leave you seriously inconvenienced.


  • Skull Island in King Kong. Everything there wants to eat you.
  • Apocalypse Now, based on Heart of Darkness IN VIETNAM!
  • Apparently all of Pandora in Avatar. Made worse by having all the wildlife psychically linked to Gaia Eywa, which then goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge en masse. (Granted, the humans brought it on themselves, but still.)
  • The Thin Red Line. The jungle is beautiful, oppressive, and indifferent to the sufferings of the soldiers.
  • A running theme throughout the Predator franchise.
    • In Predator the film's portrayal of the jungle slowly moves towards this until the Predator invokes it full force by picking off the heroes one by one. As stated in the real examples, the actual shooting of the film was very tough due to the jungle conditions.
    • Predator 2 describes the city setting as a "concrete jungle" portraying the dangerous city in much the same manner of the harsh jungle.
    • Predators has a massive jungle on an alien world made for the very purpose of hunting. Needless to say it is cruel and harsh with danger lurking in the form of several Predators, alien animals and even fellow "prey".
  • The hostile, oppressive and unrelenting jungle, and the unseen horrors (real or imagined) lurking within it, is one of the things that gradually sends the conquistadors mad in Aguirre, the Wrath of God.


  • Heart of Darkness: A search party is sent up-river into Darkest Africa to investigate the mysterious Kurtz.
  • Star Wars: Shatterpoint features Haruun Kal, a planet covered in this kind of jungle. For Mace Windu, it comes to draw out and represent his own inner darkness. Felucia also tends to become this in the general Star Wars Expanded Universe.
    • In addition, Shatterpoint is based on Heart of Darkness. The Haruun Kal jungle is literally hungry, containing an invisible and planet-covering population of sporous fungi that eat most of the futuristic technology common in the Star Wars universe.
    • Although it's a swamp, in Galaxy of Fear the somewhat drier parts of Dagobah are portrayed as this. It's an amazingly hostile place to everyone except Yoda. Years ago a survey team crashed there, couldn't leave, and over a period of years they were picked off, they had children, their technology broke down... the Children they left behind, malnourished and uneducated, are friendly and much better adapted, but they are always, always hungry.
  • Shows up in some chapters of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, especially the part with Mary-Anne.
    • Actually somewhat inverted as well with Mary-Anne: "Sometimes I want to eat this place. Vietnam. I want to swallow the whole country - the dirt, the death - I just want to eat it and have it there inside me. That's how I feel."
  • Amazonia by James Rollins.
  • Robert A. Heinlein
    • Glory Road, begins in one, in Southeast Asia.
    • Tunnel in the Sky has a bunch of survival students stranded in an alien jungle in the early part of the story..
    • Heinlein's Space Cadet has Venus as a swarming, hideous jungle in which humans cannot survive unprotected except at the poles.
  • The first two books of David Weber and John Ringo's Prince Roger series (March Upcountry, March to the Sea) and part of the third (March to the Stars) are set in a planet which is covered in Hungry Jungle.
  • Of the dozens of people on the two expeditions in Congo by Michael Crichton, only four are confirmed to have made it out alive (though some ran away earlier). A combo of this trope, a volcano, and Killer Gorilla.
  • The appropriately named David Drake story "The Jungle", set on a terraformed Venus which has become a Death World.
  • One of the first "Jungle Venus" stories was Stanley G. Weinbaum's 1935 short story "Parasite Planet." After a mud volcano destroys his isolated shack the protagonist must trek through a nightmarish jungle full of horrifying creatures such as "doughpots", "Jack Ketch Trees", and "trioptes" to get to civilization.
  • The planet Pyrrus in Harry Harrison's novel Death World appears to be like this, then the protagonist discovers that it's a local effect sustained by feedback between mildly telepathic wildlife and the colonists.
  • While Midworld is the most obvious example, it should be taken as a given that any time Alan Dean Foster writes something with a jungle in it, it's going to be a Hungry Jungle.
    • For example, the varzea of the Viisiiviisii in Drowning World. Besides carnivorous animals (which do things like create sucking whirlpools in rivers and shoot toxic darts) and carnivorous plants (which move remarkably fast), spores and microplants and parasites will invade anyone who doesn't constantly try to clean them off, finding a way through even the best-sealed environmental clothing.
  • The second half of Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust has the protagonist, Tony Last, venture into the rainforests of South America in search of a gothic city. He contracts a terrible fever, his incompetent companion scares off the native guides and gets himself killed. Tony is 'rescued' by the head of another tribe... who reports to the search party that Tony is dead, and keeps him in the jungle, forcing him to read the complete works of Dickens- over... and over... and over...
  • As the inhabitants of a Generation Ship revert to savagery in Non-Stop, the ship's bioengineered plants grow out of control, turning most of the ship into this.
  • In the Legacy of the Aldenata novel Yellow Eyes, a second Posleen column tries to outflank the human defenders by going through the Panamanian jungle. Between the wildlife, the terrain, and the hostile natives, only one Posleen makes it through the jungle alive, who promptly surrenders, asking only one term: That he not be required to go back in there.
  • The world of Tanith in Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium Universe is a jungle-world with its evolution said to be over a million years beyond Earth's.
  • "Leiningen Versus the Ants" and its adaptations take place in the Amazon. The jungle and its killer ants are viewed as invincible forces of nature by the natives.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The People of the Black Circle" where the black lotus grows:
    It was the dread figure of the black lotus that had grown up as she watched, as it grows in the haunted, forbidden jungles of Khitai.
  • The protagonist of Leo Frankowski's Cross Time Engineer novel, Conrad's Search for Rubber, faces this when attempting to explore Africa. After the massive death incurred by both the explorers and the natives, Conrad vows to do no more exploration until he'd found a solution. His relatives from the future then proceed to come down from the heavens and give him a solution to his problems.
  • The Chronicles of the Kencyrath has the Anarchies, a forest tainted by ancient magic. At one point in "Dark of the Moon", a band of brigands follows Jame into the Anarchies. Only one survives to confront her as the bandits slowly get picked off by strange mushrooms, hills that absorb their sleeping forms, and weird creatures.
  • The Fire Swamp in the book/movie The Princess Bride, which is really more like a jungle than a swamp, and, let's face it, more like a fantastical deathtrap than a jungle. If the "lightning sand" and exploding geysers of fire don't get you, the giant man-eating rats will.
  • The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: The Crake Rainforest may not be alive and hungry but the Graak certainly is. The local Rindge avoid the place as much as possible for this very reason, and the entire region has a sort of Primal Fear vibe to it.
    • The jungle of Morrowindl is as bad or worse, being a dank, swampy mess, infested by predators, mutants, and Shadowen, including the monstrous Wisteron. The Black Oaks of Southland aren't much better, and characters go out of their way to avoid them, courtesy of the hungry wolf packs that make their home there. In The Sword of Shannara this results in them screwing up and heading straight into the far worse Mist Marsh.
  • Tarzan's native habitat.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men, much of the island. Virginia is abducted there, more than once, and the title men wander there after their escape.
  • The Gaunt's Ghosts novel Traitor General takes place on the planet Gereon. The Chaos influence drives the Ghosts team slowly insane, pitting them against each other uncharacteristically, and that seems pretty bad already... then they're forced to flee into the "Untill", a massive, unmapped swamp filled with moths so poisonous that merely brushing against them causes instant death.
  • Another Warhammer 40,000 novel, Fire Caste features a Single-Biome Planet, Phaedra, composed of this. Appropriate, as this novel is a Recycled In Space remix of Heart of Darkness. The world is described in a character's journal entry as "Too lazy to be a death world, too bitter to be anything else." It is a place in conflict between the Imperium and the Tau, with only a few feral human inhabitants as natives with little strategic value to either side, where both sides send the incompetent or uncomfortable commanders that they just want to get out of the way. The conflict is stagnant quagmire in more ways than one, and almost as many people are lost slowly to infection, predation, or desertion as they are fighting the enemy.
  • Invoked in The Jungle Book's "Letting In the Jungle": when Mowgli discovers that the inhabitants of a human village are not only trying to hunt him down, but also plan to kill Messua, the human woman who adopted him, he calls the whole jungle down on the place. His animal allies make the village unlivable to the point that its inhabitants, robbed of their food stores and believing themselves cursed, are forced to abandon the place entirely, and in very little time the jungle has overgrown and swallowed the site completely.
  • In Andre Norton's The Zero Stone, the planet Jern and Eet escape to is this, at least where they land.
  • Illustrated in very vivid detail many times by former United States Marine Corps Lieutenant Philip Caputo in his non-fictional account of The Vietnam War, A Rumor Of War.
    It took us all morning to cover the three miles between the landing zone and the village. Four hours to walk three miles, and the company had not once run into significant enemy resistance. It was the land that resisted us, the land, the jungle, and the sun.
    Everything rotted and corroded quickly over there: bodies, boot leather, canvas, metal, morals. Scorched by the sun, wracked by the wind and rain of the monsoon, fighting in alien swamps and jungles, our humanity rubbed off of us as the protective bluing rubbed off the barrels of our rifles.
  • As explained in James Alan Gardner's Vigilant:
    “You’ll be all right if you remember one simple principle. Everything here wants you dead. Even the things that won’t directly kill you still want you dead. You’re a waste of good nutrients; they want you recycled back into the ecosystem.”
  • Loompaland in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a Death World jungle — the Oompa-Loompas suffered from the double whammy of carnivorous predators, some of which could eat ten of them at a time, and unpalatable food (caterpillars, tree bark and beetles). (Note: In the pre-Bowdlerised original text, they were black pygmies from Darkest Africa rather than Caucasians from a fictitious country.) Yes, their lives as Willy Wonka's secret workforce may be Happiness in Slavery, but when this was the alternative...
  • The Hunger Games: a staple for the arenas at the Hunger Games.
  • The once-city of Sawa in The Girl from the Miracles District. It's overgrown with vegetation, full of creatures that want to kill you or turn you into one of their kind, and oversaturated with black magic.

     Live Action TV  

  • The Hill from Kiss Wood. Now with exploding plants.

  • The "Devil's Island" table of Balls of Steel is filled with erupting volcanos, cannibalistic natives, deadly spiders, and giant scorpions.
  • While not a jungle per-se The Bible features this during Absalom's rebellion. It is explicitly stated that the forest claimed more lives than the actual battle.

    2 Samuel 18:8
    8 For the battle there was spread out over the surface of the entire countryside, and the [hazards of the] forest devoured more men that day than did the sword.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons module WG6 Isle of the Ape, the title island was exactly like this. Food and equipment rotted quickly. Filled with dinosaurs, cannibal natives and giant apes, it was made even worse because many spells simply didn't work there, making the party's spellcasters and magic items much less effective.
    • Also, several layers of the Abyss (which has layers with pretty much every bad thing you could imagine and some you probably can't on them), and one layer of the plane of Carceri could qualify.
  • In the Traveller Double Adventure "Marooned/Marooned Alone", one terrain type on the planet Pagliacci is "Jungle". The players can encounter quicksand and the alien equivalent of army ants. If the water isn't filtered it damages the drinker, and each week the PC's must make saving rolls or suffer disease damage and/or equipment malfunction.
  • The Living Land in the TORG roleplaying game makes technology break down, dissolves any food if you don't eat it soon after killing or gathering it, is filled with fog that makes it easy to lose your way, and then there are the critters.
  • Catachan, the mascot for the Death World trope, in Warhammer 40,000. It's the recruiting grounds for an Imperial Guard regiment who are all Rambo. (and there's even a direct Rambo Shout-Out who's even more Rambo than usual)
  • Lustria in Warhammer. Basically the worst jungles in South America taken to eleven, most of the continent is covered in trackless swampland and rainforests teeming with swarms of aggressive insects stinged and bloodsucking alike, enormous carnivorous plants, giant snakes and man-eating dinosaurs, all quite happy to kill you — unless the plagues or the ever-present crushing heat do so before they can (and that's without getting into the zombie vampire pirates on the coast). The only reason anyone ever goes there is to search for wealth and magical artifacts in the golden cities deep in the jungle. Pity that there's a race of killer dinosaur-people living there who take a decidedly dim view to people walking off with their sacred artifacts...
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • In general, this is a common tropical spin on Green’s forests, as a natural result of Green’s love of untamed wilds, its profusion of ravenous monsters and gigantic insects, and its hatred of technology and skill in breaking it down.
    • The flavor text for the card "Ravenous Baloth", which depicts a massive reptilian predator, is:
    "All we know about the Krosan Forest we have learned from those few who have made it out alive." — Elvish Refugee
    • Zendikar is an entire world where nature is trying to kill you dead. Among other things.
  • New Horizon has the Narhhel jungle. It's mostly unexplored, filled with predators, and might have unknown technology lost in it.
  • In Rocket Age, most of Venus above the mists is covered in jungle full of dinosaurs, giant insects and horrifying diseases.
  • Numenera: The Caecilian Jungle is a large, star-shaped patch of rainforest at the northern end of the Beyond and home to a great variety of predatory beasts. Its depths are home to ruins and wonders — such as a frog-shaped temple that draws amphibians to itself, a miniature city and a garden of carnivorous plants — that draw a steady stream of explorers and expeditions, despite the fact there no one who ever went in has been know to come back out again.


  • BIONICLE has the "Forest of Blades", where soldiers have been captured and fused together with the trees, with their weapons jutting out.

     Video Games  
  • Guadalcanal in Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault. It comes to a point that Conlin, the Player Character, mentions at one point that the jungle could very well kill him before the Japanese even come close.
  • Dawn of War: Dark Crusade has a map where the description is from the notes of a Commissar Caern, recording the final words of a trooper prior to his execution for treason, along the lines of "I can't take it anymore! This jungle's going to eat us alive!"
  • Dxun, which appears in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and in related Star Wars material, is entirely covered in jungle and rainforest infested with a rich and varied assortment of vicious alien predators, and has a pervasive hot and humid climate that makes technology break down very quickly unless constantly maintained. It's not known as the Demon Moon for nothing.
  • Mass Effect has a few of these, including Zorya and Pragia.
    • Pragia is notable in that the jungle consumes things in hours. Constant efforts must be made to hold back the explosive plant growth, and failing for as little as six hours means your carefully constructed building is now mostly consumed by plant life.
  • Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy XIII has a variety of climates, but fits the spirit of the trope.
  • Shellshock 2 skirts this. It's about a zombie plague outbreak in the middle of The Vietnam War, so there are certainly a lot of nasty things lurking in the jungle, but it isn't really the jungle's fault. All the unpleasant stuff is ultimately of human origin, including the zombie plague.
  • The jungles of the Rook Islands in Far Cry 3 are surreal, colorful and teeming with flora, fauna and fungi, to say nothing of the Ruthless Modern Pirates and Private Military Contractors. It's almost as if the islands themselves are trying to bring insanity and/or death upon those who set foot on them.
  • There are many dangerous biomes in Terraria, but the Jungle is one of the nastiest to stumble into.
  • Several of the maps in Evolve fall under this. Truck sized herbivores will stomp you into a paste, smaller scavengers will gang up on you and rip you to pieces, huge ambush predators lurk in every sizable pond, and man-eating plants will devour you with one wrong step. And that's ignoring the gargantuan beast that's stalking you throughout the match, growing deadlier all the while.
  • Most of the Maguuma Jungle in Guild Wars 2 is not actually that bad; quite pleasant in fact, although there are a few places where you need to watch your step. On the other hand, the Heart of Maguuma to the west, the setting of the first expansion Heart of Thorns, is bordering on a Death World- filled with packs of hungry saurians, hordes of vicious chak, inhabited by several tribes of the froglike Hylek (some friendly, some xenophobic in the extreme) and, worst of all, patrolled by the Mordrem, particularly the deadly Mordrem Guard. This is the domain of Mordremoth, the jungle dragon. Literally. The jungle IS the dragon. And it is very hungry.
  • The jungle from Romancing Saga 3 is is nightmare labyrinth where you can get lose for hours to end due to the fact that every exit randomly transports you to a new area. The key is following the different colored butterflies near the exits to your destination of choice. One false step, though, and you will be led to deeper into the jungle until you luck runs out and fall before the creature that lurks there.
  • In Rimworld, the Tropical Forest biome presents many challenges and not many advantages. Thick mud and choking undergrowth make moving around or building anything difficult, and if the predatory animals don't get your colonists, the rampant disease will - a talented doctor will be worth his/her own body weight in gold. The silver lining is it's just as deadly for any raiders who are foolish enough to come into your jungle home.

     Real Life  

  • This image of a jungle in the Western mind is Truth in Television that stems from the colonial times. A Japanese WWII veteran, interviewed in The World at War, claimed that Allied troops had far more fear of the south east Asian jungles than Japanese troops did.
    • Considering what happened at Ramree Island, the Japanese should have felt the same way.
    • It was a major problem for the British at first, particularly leading to defeat in Burma and Malaya. But commanders like F. Spencer Chapman, Bill Slim and Ian Stewart deliberately trained their men to regard the jungle as neutral, which led to success later in the war. Stewart's 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who spent months on end training in the jungle before the war, were the only British unit in Malaya to consistently defeat the Japanese. Chapman spent more than three years behind the lines working with the Chinese, and came to believe so firmly that 'the Jungle is Neutral', that he made it the title of his memoir.
  • Filming of Predator seems to have been a little like this.
  • Many of the early Amazonian explorers seem to have experienced this—hideous fungal infections, hostile natives, trouble finding anything to eat, and everything else trying to eat them. A well-known (if now under siege) anthropological theory is that the Amazon is a "wet desert", in which civilization can never arise, and which dissolves the underpinnings of civilizations that try to migrate there.
    • Hence subverted; remnants of a flourishing civilization have been found in the Amazon, hinting even that much of the "wilderness" was in fact cultivated and kept under check for centuries. The diseases brought by the Europeans destroyed it before a single Westerner could witness any of it.
    • A slightly different theory is that the jungle can't be colonized by humans without agriculture, and that all "strict" hunter-gatherer tribes that live in jungles actually do some kind of small-scale itinerant agriculture and livestock rising (fowl, pygmy pigs, dogs) or get extra food from sedentary societies through trade. If true, this would mean hunter-gatherers actually didn't colonize the jungles until a few thousand years back. Sadly, rainforests are as bad for remains conservation as they are for working archaeological digs.
  • While technically rainforests, not jungles, big chunks of north-eastern Australia are like this.
    • Australian troops also fought in the Hungry Jungle in WW2, on the Kododa Track and other parts of New Guinea, Borneo and Bougainville. They later took what they learned there and brought it to the Vietnam War, where they terrorised the Viet Cong.
  • This is the reason why European colonization of Africa remained so limited for so long, even as the Americas and South Asia were successfully conquered. It was only with advances in pharmacology in the mid-19th century that Europeans, lacking natural immunity, had effective treatments for the diseases carried by mosquitoes and tsetse flies.


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