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Under Hollywood History, all historical ancient Mexican, Central, and South American nations are lumped into one exotic and often barbaric people: the Mayincatec, featuring aspects of the Maya (in modern Yucatan peninsula and Central America), Inca (in modern Peru) and Aztec (in Modern Central Mexico), plus many others (especially the Olmec, one of the oldest, as more continues to be discovered about them). It's a tossed salad of exciting bits from all their histories, with a topping of myth and fiction. And the dressing is blood.

Common Mayincatec traits

  • Human Sacrifice: Cutting out the heart of a living victim atop a ziggurat (step-sided pyramid).
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Men were the primary choice of sacrifice and virginity didn't factor into it. However, since Western-born cultures find virgin sacrifices abhorrent and dramatic, that's what Hollywood goes with.
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  • I'm a Humanitarian: The practice of trying to acquire mystical strength through the consumption of the blood, and specifically the heart, of one's enemies. Mesoamerica either originally invented it, or invented it separately from the rest of the world.
  • Cannibal Tribe
  • Lots of priests, religion, and monstrous gods.
  • Big stone temples with distinctive stonework, usually equipped with traps and underground labyrinths, ready to collapse.
  • Feathered headdresses, clubs studded with chunks of obsidian, loincloths.
  • Corn harvests, sun worship.
  • Blood Magic
  • Complex stone jewelry: earrings, necklaces, chest pads.
  • Ornate and colorful decorations, geometric patterns. Intricate and scary carvings.
  • Jungle settings and an abundance of wildlife: snakes, spiders, alligators/crocodiles, jaguars and monkeys. In case of Incas, llamas may pop up. May overlap with Artistic License – Geography, as the Valley of Mexico is actually a temperate forest land, the nearby highlands of Hidalgo and Querétaro are a Mediterranean-like semidesert, and the Inca were a mountain-dwelling culture rather than a jungle-dwelling one.
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  • A drug culture — coca and hallucinogens.
  • Panpipes, and bands of panpipers.
  • Conquistadores often feature as conquerors of the Mayincatec. Alternate history or fantasy variations have the Mayincatic seeking to slaughter and/or sacrifice their would-be conquerors. The Conquistadors are also often used as villains in stories where the Mayincatec are the protagonists.
  • Conquistadores mistaken for gods, leading to the downfall of the Mayincatec people. (In reality, it depended on the conquistador — the Tlaxcala people viewed Hernán Cortez as an equal and struck an alliance with him to defeat the Aztec kingdom, this alliance was upheld throughout the colonial era, and the local chiefs were even recognized as nobles of the Spaniard kingdom; Nuño de Guzmán in western Mexico did abuse this straight to exterminate local tribes; and Francisco Pizarro in Perú made the Inca empire a fiefdom of the Spaniard crown).
  • Desiccated bodies in ceremonial outfits: unwrapped mummies. This is occasionally portrayed like Ancient Egypt in the jungle rather than desert. (This only happened in the Inca empire, which expanded into cold deserts that lent themselves to mummification)
  • Gold, lots and lots and lots of gold. Sometimes enough to build a city. And hidden treasure. Idols. Cursed artifacts.
  • Sometimes hidden advanced technology and/or links to Ancient Astronauts.
  • Giant line drawings out in the desert, like the Nazca Lines.
  • The Long Count Calendar, which has 394-year b'ak'tun cycles, one of which ended on December 21, 2012. The historical Mayans did not predict any sort of apocalypse on this date — it is basically the Mayan equivalent of January 1st, 2000 — but it has nonetheless resulted in the Mayan Doomsday trope. Incidentally, the Mayan calendar is frequently erroneously mistaken for the completely different Aztec calendar.
  • Sometimes, when the producers do a little cursory research, an extremely sophisticated grasp of astronomy.
  • If they use a specific god, it'll most likely be the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent, or his Mayan counterpart Kukulcán. Since they'll probably know nothing beyond his name, they'll likely show human sacrifice to him, even though he was perhaps the only god in many pantheons who didn't ask for it.
  • Likely due to the prevalence of the aforementioned god, a Mayincatec Fantasy Counterpart Culture will often by populated by Lizard Folk (or even Snake People).

Generally the Mayincatec are more likely to be the villains than the heroes, and as such they are prone to Historical Villain Upgrade. The exception, of course, is if the story involves the Conquistadors, in which case they'll instead be portrayed as tragic victims of European expansion. Some Alternate History stories have them survive to the modern day, resulting in a Modern Mayincatec Empire.

In Real Life, the Maya, the Inca, and the Aztec (which is merely an exonym; the people called themselves Mexica) were all distinct Pre-Columbian cultures. The Maya and Aztec were comparatively close together (they both lived in what is now Mexico) and did engage in cultural exchange, but this is no reason to conflate them. Meanwhile, the Inca were thousands of miles away from them, their capital being in today's Peru, so conflating them would cross into Critical Research Failure territory. Their actual history is interesting and diverges from the trope quite a bit. There seems to have been some long-distance contact between the cultures (at a minimum, maize had been introduced to the Andes from Mesoamerica), but it was tenuous and the Mesoamerican and Andean civilizations were vaguely aware of each other at best. However, keep in mind that the trope is frequently also valid in modern Latin America.

Please see Pre-Columbian Civilizations, Native American Mythology, Aztec Mythology, Inca Mythology, and Mayan Mythology.

See Also: Hollywood History and Very Loosely Based on a True Story. Compare Spexico, Latin Land, The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires and Banana Republic, for when this happens to modern Latin American countries. Also compare Injun Country and Tipis and Totem Poles for composite versions of Native American cultures from North America. The European equivalent is Ancient Grome, when Roman and Greek cultures are mashed up together in Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece settings. See Egypt Is Still Ancient, which is when you have Egypt depicted as if it were still a land of Pharoahs and gods.


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  • In the trailer for Beverly Hills Chihuahua while Papi talks about how his ancestors fought with Aztec warriors, it shows an aerial view of Machu Pichu, an Incan city.
  • Hagaan Dazs Ice cream ran a campaign attributing the conquest of the Mayans and incidentally, the bringing of chocolate to Europe to Cortez.note 
  • Kahlua Liqueur ran a TV ad campaign featuring Mayinctecs.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita's the Legend of the Sun King have the gang entering the fantasy kingdom of Mayana, whose culture, lifestyles and traditions are inspired directly by ancient Mayans.
  • The ancient Ord tribe whose semi-ruined temples (well, entirely ruined temples by the time the Big Bad has messed them up) are featured in Explorer Woman Ray seems to be pretty much along these lines. It's claimed they used to worship the Sun and their temples have hidden treasure which no-one was able to find; their true secret is much more interesting.
  • Episode 3 of Flint the Time Detective happens somewhere in a South America covered in gold and being invaded by conquistadors.
  • The entirety of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure starts out with a cursed Stone Mask created by the Aztecs. Although we later discover it is the creation of an immortal advanced race of people known as the Pillar Men. It still doesn't explain why they dress Mayincatec. Or even weirder, using steel weapons in one of the flashbacks.
  • A startling Gecko Ending to Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro has Yako investigating her father in Brazil, and meeting a tribe of Yakuza Aztecs.
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold The heroes encounter the Maya, Inca, and Olmecs. In a twist, the Olmecs are Ancient Astronauts and the main villains.
  • Naruto features artwork illustrating a Mayincatec civilization built on a most certainly not nuclear energy source that was later treated as evil, because it gave humans too much power.
  • The paintings during the opening credits of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind look a lot like South American-Indian artwork.
  • Nazca is about reincarnations of ancient Incan warriors. In Japan. Wielding steel swords. Using scenery of the past Incan empire based on Spanish colonial buildings.
  • One Piece: Eneru's "cover arc" featured an ancient civilization on the moon that used South American-Indian artwork. It's not clear if the moon-droids are good or evil — they're fighting against traditionally evil-looking mink/weasel-men in Spanish armor); regardless, they're now in the hands of Eneru....
  • RahXephon uses the Mayan Long Count calendar, but also the Aztec terms ollin, ixtli, and yolteotl. In fact, knowing what those words mean in Aztec thought is essential for even understanding the story.
  • Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers sets its anime in a fantasy world full of Mayincatec buildings and clothing (at least among the common people).
  • ∀ Gundam had the heroes passing by a country that seems to be a blend of Mayan, Incan, and Hispanic influences.
  • Actually averted with the deck of Rex Goodwin, the Big Bad of Season 2 of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. His deck is strictly based on Inca mythology and doesn't touch a single aspect of Mayan or Aztec mythology.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe
    • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck has a literal example — a statue on the Isthmus of Panama with Aztec, Incan, and Mayan influences in its design, commemorating trade across the isthmus.
    • The classic Carl Barks' Donald Duck story Lost In the Andes has Donald and the nephews discover a lost, vaguely Inca-ish civilization where everything is cube-shaped or full of right angles, even the people and the wildlife. The natives are friendly, but consider it a terrible crime to produce anything round. Naturally, the nephews have brought bubble gum. Hilarity Ensues.
    • The NES game has him visiting Inca jungle.
  • The Aztecs and the fall of Tenochtitlan figure big in the backstory of Hellboy: The Island. The Aztec priests had gold tablets inscribed with the true history of the Ogdru Jahad and the creation of the world.
  • The Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis comic adaptation opens with Indy being offered as a sacrifice to (and turned down by) "the Aztec god of war, Tenochtitlan" (although it turns out to be All Just a Dream). Tenochtitlan was actually the capital city of the most warlike group of the Aztec Empire, the Mexica; its site is the oldest part of Mexico City. The Mexica's patron deity and the god of war, was Huitzilopochtli.
  • The Just Imagine... Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe version of Wonder Woman has Mayincatec flavoring, to contrast with the Greek mythological roots of the mainstream version.
  • The Zzutak Animators from early Marvel Comics.
  • In Robyn Hood: The Curse, the Big Bad is an Aztec sorcerer using a newly constructed pyramidal skyscraper as a temple to summon the Aztec gods through Blood Magic and Human Sacrifice.
  • Superboy Annual #3 (part of the Legends of the Dead Earth event) features a colony world called Aztlan whose settlers adopted a Mayincatec culture. One of the early colonists was a metahuman who inspired the others by fusing the myth of Quetzacoatl with the legend of Superman, beginning a line of Supermen and Superboys who believed they were granted their powers by the god.
  • In one of their early adventures the Teen Titans encounter the half-animal demons of the pyramid temple at Xochatan the Andes. (For clarification: "Xochatan" sounds awfully Mexican and not remotely Andean.)
  • The Chaams in Thorgal: The Land of Qa.
  • The Tick parodies this with The Deertown Aztecs — a former sports team that crashed in the jungle and now attempt to live their lives according to the only book they had: "Aztecs On My Mind." They have a temple pyramid complete with traps.
  • Tintin: The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun. The Incas are portrayed rather sympathetically, as even though they try to sacrifice the heroes, their interactions with outsiders have rarely been positive. Oh, and they suck at astronomy, as a plot point. On the whole Hergé, who got a lot of his information from National Geographic does not mix up the Inca with the Maya except with reference to the prophetic inscription mentioning the retribution that will befall the violators of Rascar Capac's tomb, which plays a large part in The Seven Crystal Balls. The Incas, unlike the Mayas and Aztecs, had no system of writing. The original version of The Seven Crystal Balls, serialized in Le Soir, also contained a lead disc with symbols "resembling Aztec or Inca signs", but Hergé excised the panel that showed it and texts that mentioned it when the album version was produced.
  • Tom Strong featured in one issue the "Aztech Empire", a super-advanced alternate version of the Mexica who "greeted Cortez with machinegun fire" (a neat trick without gunpowder or metallurgy... but it makes a good story) and proceeded to become interdimensional conquerors puppet-headed by an AI calling itself Quetzlcoatl-9. Basically think of them as "what if Jack Kirby did the Aztecs?"

    Films — Animated 
  • The Emperor's New Groove is pretty definitively set in the Incan Empire, although the word "Inca" is never said, and Kuzco's theme song guy refers to them as "Mesoamerican", which the Incans really weren't. Still, the mountain-and-jungle setting, the farming of llamas and alpacas, and the overall art style are all specifically Incan, as is Kuzco's name; Cusco (or Cuzco) was the Incan capital (and is still a provincial capital in Peru today). The animated series The Emperor's New School has decided to be a bit more specific and explicitly confirm that they are Incan, usually by way of jokes such as "Incan Idol", though extensive use of Gratuitous Spanish is present. And characters will have either Spanish or Pseudo-Quechua sounding names.
  • The Road to El Dorado features a sort of generic South American and Mesoamerican native culture that has a lot of aspects of this trope mixing Aztec and Mayan architecture with Incan clothing and a few names. Including the sacrifices—though that's mostly the bad guy trying to do those, presumably to fuel his Blood Magic. Notably it also features a practise of throwing gold down water bodies akin to the Muisca, making it a rare example of this culture being weaved into anything.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 2012 draws heavy inspiration from the 2012 phenomenon, Mayanism and the Mayan Long Count Calendar. Naturally, they erroneously present the Aztec calendar instead of the actual Mayan Long Count Calendar. Surprisingly, the Mayans themselves never actually appear, though footage of the pyramids in Mesoamerica does briefly show up in the opening.
  • Mel Gibson's controversial Apocalypto portrays the urban Maya as the The Evil Empire and a small Mayan village in the jungle as pure, innocent victims. There are obvious close parallels to Braveheart. He seemed to want to portray the Maya situation when part of the civilization collapsed and the cities had fallen into ruin and decadence, but he basically took every Aztec stereotype and gave them to the Maya. While they did practice human sacrifice and the period at the end of the classical era of the Maya was marked by increased warfare, neither are portrayed properly. It also has the priests offering the sacrifices to Kukulkan (Quetzalcoatl for the Aztecs), the one god in the Mesoamerican pantheon that abhorred Human Sacrifice.
  • AVP: Alien vs. Predator takes place mostly within a typically Mayincatec pyramid... buried in Antarctica (thanks to Ancient Astronauts). The experts who examined the temple seemed to think that it had features common to ancient cultures across the globe, (specifically Cambodian and Egyptian) but the main vibe was definitely Mesoamerican.
  • B-Movie Aztec Rex. Conquistadores led by Hernán Cortés meet Aztecs who worship two surviving Tyrannosaurus Rex. Houston Yeah!
  • Through From Dusk Till Dawn, the Titty Twister bar goes from Mayincatec-inspired nightclub to vampire den to a full-blown Mayincatec sacrificial pyramid almost buried in the Mexican desert. All within a short distance of the Mexican-American border.
  • The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky, averts the trope by sticking steadfastly (and accurately) to Mayan imagery and symbolism. Xibalba, the Mayan underworld is represented as a golden nebula. The historically-based section note  features Conquistadors, Mayan warriors and priests, and a step-pyramid temple based on the actual archaeological site of Uxmal wherein lies the Tree of Life. Within the work the Mayas are a collapsed civilization (which they were when the Conquistadors arrived.) The hidden pyramid is their last, secret hiding place, clearly already decrepit and neglected, with only a few dozen devoted guardians.
  • In House of Cards (1993), the language that Sally spoke with Selord is referred to as both Mayan and Nahuatl, two completely unrelated languages spoken by different civilizations.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • The Hovitos underground temple from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
    • The Maya-style temple in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The film has aliens living with the ancient Maya and teaching them about agriculture, never mind that the characters are in Peru, closer to the Inca than the Maya, and even so using Inca may have been inaccurate geographically speaking. The civilization is supposed to be an Expy of El Dorado located in The Amazon Rainforest, with references to the Maya and other Mesoamerican cultures. The temple also included artifacts from civilizations all over the world. It should also be noted, that apparently Indy picked up Quechua riding with Pancho Villa!
  • Kings Of The Sun, a film about a deposed Mayan king escaping to the future United States and meeting another native American tribe led by Yul Brynner.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl features cursed Aztec gold with Aztec-style skull carvings. The figure carved on the treasure chest itself is the "Gateway God" from the Gateway of the Sun at Tiahuanaco, Bolivia, hundreds of years and half a continent away from the Aztecs.
    • The treasure's backstory being an Aztec ransom paid to Cortes and then Cortes going back on his word and being cursed for it is actually closer to the story of Pizarro, Atahualpa and the Room of Gold than anything that happened during the Conquest of the Aztec Empire. The Aztecs didn't even use gold as a currency. Cortes had a long, mostly prosperous life after conquering the Aztecs (other than being barred from returning to Mexico), while Pizarro's pals were marred by infighting and assassinations, including Pizarro's own.
  • In The Pumaman the villain wears a golden Aztec mask containing alien mind control circuitry. He is fought by Puma Man, a "man-god", sired by ancient alien Aztec pumas and equipped with a magical Aztec golden belt. Most of the real fighting is done by his mentor Vadinho, an Aztec priest to the space gods... who lives in a temple in the Andes. Inca territory. Gah!
  • Literally in That Man from Rio. The plot involves some priceless ancient statuettes made by a South American people called the "Maltecs".
  • In the movie Unrest (2006) all the horrible events are due to the curse unleashed by an Aztec goddess, after a cave was discovered with 40,000 bodies sacrificed in his honor ... in Brazil, far from Mexico (and even the figure of 40,000 skeletons product of human sacrifice is too exaggerated even for the Aztecs).
  • The Lost Tribe of Aztecs in Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold kill intruders by dipping them in molten gold, which carries strong overtones of the El Dorado ceremony of the Muisca people of Colombia. They also use some torture tactics commonly ascribed to the Apache.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe competely reinvents Namor the Sub-Mariner and his corner of the Marvel world by giving them an ancient South American overhaul. The city of Atlantis is now called Talocan, which is named after an Aztec underworld.

  • Captive Universe: a Generation Ship is launched to the stars. The population of the ship is given a copy of the Aztec's culture which is depicted as brutal but ideal, from the designer's point of view: it is very stable and crushes all curiosity and restlessness.
  • In The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump by Harry Turtledove, a resurgent Mesoamerican religion that features Human Sacrifice is part of the plot.
  • Cautiously averted in El Conquistador. Here, the Aztec civilization is depicted in the most respectful and distinctive way possible, as Federico Andahazi is a careful researcher prior to his novels.
  • In The Dresden Files the leaders of the Red Court follow the Maya/Aztec variant, impersonating or replacing certain Mayan and Aztec gods - their King going by Kukulkan (a god who fits the concept of the Feathered Serpent deity that was shared with the Aztecs, in the latter as Quetzalcoatl, so it could be an In-Universe case of I Have Many Names). Of course, as Blood Magic using vampires native to South and Central America, the sacrifices are only to be expected. And while Kukulkan/Quetzalcoatl didn't generally ask for human sacrifice, it's implied that the Red Court's leaders - who were extremely bloodthirsty - usurped the pre-existing gods, exploiting the universe's rules on divinity to do so.
  • In his Earth (The Book), Jon Stewart implies the collapse of the Mayan civilization due to Cortés. Except Cortés didn't have anything to do with the conquest of Yucatan. He focused his efforts on conquering the Aztec lands. It would be other Spaniards who would attack the Maya later. In fact, the Maya wouldn't fall until over 150 years later, and their civilization was already in decline even before the conquistadors got there. They're still around, by the way.
  • Parodied as the Tezuman Empire in Discworld novel Eric by Terry Pratchett. Their god Quezovercoatl is a feathered boa, which is almost the same as a winged snake. And is actually a low-level demon about six inches high.
  • Everworld features the Aztecs still existing (along with many other ancient civilizations) in an alternate universe, ruled over by the Physical God Huitzilpoctli. As a result their whole civilization seems to revolve around getting him human hearts to eat, to the point that the people themselves are forced into eating the rest to survive.
  • Presumably on account of very little being known about them, when the Olmecs appear in S.M.Stirling’s Island in the Sea of Time books, their culture appears to be just a compilation of different Mesoamerican stereotypes like viewing strangers as gods and practising human sacrifice.
  • The Mask of the Sun by Fred Saberhagen features Aztecs and Incas from alternate futures where each survived and prospered trying to tamper with history as we know it to create their (mutually incompatible) histories. And the titular mask is a device from one of those futures that gives its wearer precognitive hints.
  • In Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus', where the author has somewhat Shown His Work in researching the Native American cultures, specifically Mesoamerican and Caribbean ones. He then postulates what would happen if Columbus never sailed West (the Tlaxcalans, even more bloodthirsty but much more progressive than the Aztecs, would rise to power, conquer their continent and then cross into Europe to Take Over the World). Except that the Tlaxcalans were nowhere near as bloodthirsty, war-loving or expansionist as the Mexica, the main ethnic group of the Aztec Empire.
  • In The Saga of the Borderlands of the Argentine writer Liliana Bodoc, the inhabitants of the fertile lands are Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the pre-Columbian peoples of America, so that among them we have the Zitzahay, who are governed by the Supreme Astronomers, wise men dedicated to studying the stars from the top of their tiered pyramids, and also the Lords of the Sun, a very powerful empire with a very rich culture but who also practice slavery and human sacrifice, and also have stepped pyramids.
  • Revealing Eden features descendants of the Aztec Empire living alongside an Ecuadorian tribe, when in reality the Aztecs never expanded past Central America. One scene also features the stone terraces built by the Inca — but somehow the Aztecs get the credit for building them.
  • MAR Barker wrote five novels based in the world of Tekumel, a world he created from aspects of virtually all Pre-Columbian Meso-American cultures. He created Tekumel for the same reason that Tolkien built Middle Earth: so that he could have a world to use as a linguistic playground. In Barker's case the languages he created were based on Indo-Asian and Meso-American languages, and the cultural mix is the result of deliberate choice, not lack of research.
  • Where's Waldo Now? has Waldo in the middle of a giant Aztec vs Conquistador battle. The Aztecs seemed to be winning. This may seem surprising, but during the Noche Triste (Sorrowful night), the 30th of June 1520, the population of Tenochtitlan (Mexico) rioted against the invaders and drove them out with heavy losses. Cortes came back with a vengeance...

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Feathered Serpent, an ITV historical drama from the 1970s featuring Patrick Troughton as the bloodthirsty high priest.
  • Horrible Histories:
    • In an aversion, the Mayans have not been featured at all, but the Aztecs and Incas are accurately treated as two distinct cultures.
    • Played straight with the hairstyles, of all things. Incan women are shown wearing horned hairdoes, when it was the Aztec women who wore their hair like that.
    • Also played straight in the sets: The Inca set from one series was used as an Aztec one in the next.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "Legacy of Terror". An Aztec cult is trying to resurrect the mummy of their god Nanauatzin. They sacrifice perfect people by cutting out their hearts. Features scary bird masks, feathered headdresses and a sacrifice scene at the top of a flight of steps at the local sports stadium in lieu of a step pyramid.
  • Legends of the Hidden Temple bases its entire design on this trope, most notably with Olmec, the giant stone head who served as the show's co-host.
  • Nick Arcade's Ancient Tomb level from The Video Zone.
  • During his time aboard the ISS, Larry in NUMB3RS makes himself a quipu, a recording device used by Andean South American cultures (e.g. the Inca) consisting of threads of llama or alpaca hair encoded by knots in a base ten system. It was primarily used to record numerical data for tribute payments. Unfortunately, Larry, who appears to know much about them, claims they were used by Aztecs (from North America). Furthermore, he claims to have encoded his memories on them, even though right now it's only being speculated that the quipu were used for more than numerical data and no other meaning has been decyphered.
  • On QI, the resident idiot Alan Davies makes this mistake. Stephen Fry calls him on it.
  • The X-Files episode "Teso dos Bichos" deals with a mummy called "amaru" that is found in the titular archaeological site (which is in Canada pretending to be Ecuador, despite the name being Portuguese for "Burial Mound of Critters") and then taken to a museum in Boston where the local archaeologists begin to be killed by a cat spirit.

  • Animusic: The large temple at the end of the video for "Heavy Light" resembles Aztec design. (The drum + laser arch drops circles of light which play the drums.)
  • Iron Maiden's The Book of Souls has artwork and the such based on Mayan mythology. Yet in the first single's music video, once they get to a Mesoamerican temple an Aztec sun stone is clearly seen.
  • Neil Young's Cortez The Killer is all sorts of confused. It mentions Cortez, Montezuma and human sacrifice - so Aztecs, right? But the very next verse (yep, right after the stuff about human sacrifice) we have "Hate was just a legend/ And war was never known". So maybe not the Aztecs. The Inca certainly "lifted many stones"... but they never met Cortez. The Incas, being the biggest empire with the biggest and best equipped army in the Americas before the Europeans showed up, don't seem to have "never known" about war, either.


  • Averted with the Twilight Histories episode “True Aztec” which features Aztec, Maya, and Inca characters, all of whom are correctly depicted as separate cultures. Also averted by the episode “Aztec Steel”, which accurately depicts Aztec culture.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The blood mages from Castle Falkenstein
  • Several Dungeons & Dragons sourcebooks, including Deities & Demigods, have presented versions of the Aztec pantheon suitable for use in campaigns.
    • The jungle continent Xen'drik in the Eberron campaign setting has a Mayincatec flavor.
    • The Forgotten Realms campaign setting featuresnote  the continent of Maztica, far to the west across the ocean from Faerun, with a dominant culture, the Nexalans, based closely on the Aztecs. It was subject to invasion by the Amnians and their admiral Cordell and became the site of a burgeoning Faerunian colony. Based so closely on the Aztecs, in fact, that it might technically not count as Mayincatec: rather than generic ancient South American culture, the Nexalans are Aztecs. With a quick word-find-and-replace for proper nouns and a light sprinkling of taking the mythology at face value (this was TSR policy at the time, though Maztica was one of the most severe offenders). Additionally, the sourcebook Serpent Kingdoms, describing the society and history of the yuan-ti (a race of evil snake people) gives them some distinctly Mesoamerican-inspired architecture and culture.
    • A classic adventure set in the World of Greyhawk, Lost Shrine of Tamoachan, has the Player Characters exploring the ruins of a Maya-themed temple. Later, the Olman people from Hepmonaland and the Amedio Jungle in the distant south were introduced with a culture that was pure Mayincatec.
    • The Hollow World of the Mystara setting, being a collection of Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, has the Azcan as Mayincatec.
  • Empire of the Petal Throne, (1975) published by TSR. It's set in the world of Tekumel, created by M.A.R. Barker (see the entry in Literature).
  • There are several examples of this in Exalted, as well. Firstly, the characters used to represent the language of Old Realm are pretty much directly based off of Mayan hieroglyphs. Also, the First Age was either completely loaded down with this trope, or it was mostly limited to the areas in the Southeast around Rathess, depending on your edition. The Dragon Kings go deeper into that aesthetic, sacrificing hearts to the Unconquered Sun, constructing geomantic temples and mastering astrology.
  • Feng Shui: The Darkness Pagoda from the Netherworld styles itself after the Aztec Empire, and its ruler, Ming I the Queen of Darkness, is one of the vilest villains of the entire Feng Shui setting.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • In the plane of Alara, which has been splintered into different shards each lacking two of the colors of mana. Naya has Red, Green and White mana but no Blue or Black, resulting in a sunlit jungle world with no need for progress and ambition. Its inhabitants are content to worship giant beasts as gods, down to occasional Human Sacrifice, and are fairly hedonistic. They are deliberately modeled after the Aztec and these aspects of their culture, but as the world as a whole lost their drive for more complex civilizations and has in fact lost their former empires they also resemble the Maya in this regard.
    • Ixalan is a more complete world, and has two factions that more properly resemble their real world counterparts: the Sun Empire, modeled after the Aztec with a few Incan trappings (alongside their brighly colored, feathered dinosaurs), and the River Heralds, a group of merfolk that is the local analogue of the Maya. Plus Vampire Conquistadors called the Legion of Dusk (as well as Pirates to round out the fourth faction)
  • Several Aztec gods are featured in the Rifts sourcebook: "Pantheons of the Megaverse". "World Book 9: South America Two" features the Empire of the Sun, a Magic- and Technology-using state ruled by the actual Incan gods. In addition, they also have several Nazca influences, not due to poor research, but rather an alliance and assimilation with the ancient Nazca Line Makers and their descendants.
  • One of the pantheons player characters can choose from in the tabletop RPG Scion is the Aztec one. It features Mictlantecuhtli, God of death and the underworld, who is a sadistic SOB even by the standards of Aztec Mythology, and that is saying something. The "Aztlanti" pantheon are not the only Central American pantheon; they're just one of the last ones left following the war with the Titans. Others are still around, but not nearly as powerful. The Atzlanti signature character, Dr. Aaron Tigrilla, is fairly sympathetic — he was a surgeon who got around that "necessary blood sacrifice" bit by sacrificing the leftovers of heart surgery to Tezcatlipoca. As you can imagine, this didn't go over too well when the board found out. He eventually becomes the god of extirpation, and works to patch up soldiers in the war against the Titans note .
  • Shadowrun: Aztlan. Something of an invoked trope in that it's explicitly noted in-universe that the Aztlan powers-that-be have deliberately thrown random motifs from old Latin-American cultures together to create a national identity to suit their own ends. One of the narrators of the Aztechnology sourcebook sarcastically notes that most of the Aztlan leadership are descended from European ancestors and have little to no grounding in the "ancient culture" they've "revived" at all.
  • Wraith: The Oblivion is unusual in having sympathetic Aztec ghosts. The Flayed Lands - the Dark Kingdom ruling over Central America, sometimes referred to as "the Dark Kingdom of Obsidian" when others bundle the North and South American Dark Kingdoms into it - operated on a semi-theocratic system that allowed them to reap Pathos freely from mortal devotion. Unfortunately, wraiths fleeing Stygia saw this system and were all sorts of horrified - Renegades because it reminded them of the empire they were fleeing, Heretics because of the associated sacrificial practices - and went all Cortez. The destruction of the Flayed Lands is part of what set off the Third Great Maelstrom, so nobody won there.
  • The Lizardmen in Warhammer, Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Mayincatec. Culturally they're closer to the Maya, with the interest in astronomy and prophecies and the like; however one of their major gods is based on Quetzalcoatl (since they're, you know, Lizards), and the jewelry they often carry is more Aztec-inspired, as is their focus on blood sacrifice. To complete the hat-trick, they have a habit of mummifying dead rulers and displaying them as relics, which is taken from the Inca (said mummified remains are haunted by Slann's spirit and are the most powerful magic users in the setting).
    • Meanwhile, in the grim darkness of the far future, the Rainbow Warriors space marine chapter are inconsistently depicted as taking after native South American cultures. Also interesting to note is that the ubiquitous chainsword used by the space marines and occasionally other factions is (probably coincidentally) extremely similar in both concept and appearance to the iconic macuahuitl, a wooden paddle with obsidian razor blades embedded in the sides, used throughout Pre-Columbian South America, most notably by the feared Jaguar Warriors. Just as obsidian is terrifyingly sharp but far too brittle to make an entire sword out of, the chainsword's teeth are usually made from mono-molecular materials that would be difficult if not impossible to forge into a single blade of usable length, not to mention easily breakable and costly to repair, which the Adeptus Mechanicus compensates for by attaching many tiny ones to a larger device.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Empires II:
    • The game does largely avert the trope, but has to use it to a certain extent to make the game function properly, such as using Eagle Warriors as a common unit to Mayans and Aztecs rather than just Aztec. Also, while both civilisations have exactly the same architectural style, this is due to putting its societies into aesthetic groups: East Asians (Chinese/Japanese/Koreans/Mongols), Western Europeans (British/Celts/Franks/Spanish), Eastern Mediterraneans (Byzantines/Saracens/Persians/Turks) and Central Europeans (Huns/Goths/Vikings/Teutons) all look the same too. Both Aztec and Maya wonders are pyramids, but are in totally different shapes that are accurate to their respective cultures.
    • Further avoided by the programmers since they did consider adding an Inca civilization in the x-pack, but decided to drop it when they found that it would require a completely different architectural style (the other reason was that they already had trouble designing two playable factions with no cavalry, and felt that they couldn't do a third that would come as different enough from either of them).
    • In the Aztec campaign the real life Tlaxcalans, whom the narrator describes as "wicked", are built using the Aztec civ. Understandable because the Tlaxcala were also Nahuatl speakers, with the same religion and weapons.
    • On the other hand, the campaign also has the line "even the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl demands more sacrifices" and the Aztecs taking the Spanish for gods, at least initially. But also the Aztecs winning by adopting cavalry and gunpowder, so...
    • The Aztec units' dialogue seems to be some kind of Mayan language, possibly not-completely-accurate Yucatec. Mayan units do speak accurate K'iche' Mayan, though.
    • Giving the name "Eldorado" to the Mayan Unique Technology is inexcusable. This seems to pursue the Mayas for some reason: When the fan-made x-pack Forgotten Empires (later officialized as The Forgotten) gave civilizations a second UT, the Mayans got one called "Tlatoani" - the title used by Aztec emperors. When fans complained, it was changed to "Obsidian Arrows", which also makes more sense as a name for the technology (a boost in archer damage to buildings). Later, "Obsidian Arrows" was found to be overpowered and was replaced with "Hul'che Javelineers", which allows skirmishers to throw two javelins instead of one (Hul'che is the Mayan version of the Atlatl, which is also the name of an Aztec tech buffing their skirmishers, though in a different way).
    • Forgotten Empires/The Forgotten does include an Inca civilization. It uses the same Mesoamerican building style and eagle warriors (who get even more obvious Aztec skins than in the previous x-pack), but it also has two unique units (Kamayuks and Andean slingers), units that speak Quechua, and in the final version the player even begins every game with a free llama.
  • Age of Empires III has playable Aztecs and Incas with completely different buildings and units roster, and even a hidden Mayan faction that is unlockable by launching two consecutive revolutions as the Mexicans (based on the Yucatán Caste Wars of the 19th century). Aztecs still speak bad Mayan.
  • Age of Mythology: The Atlantean civilization partially has this aesthetic when it was added as a playable culture in The Titans expansion pack, for example their trading caravans use llamas. This is probably based on a theory that the Atlanteans were the first to reach the Americas and build colonies there.
  • Averted in the Real-Time Strategy game American Conquest. All three civilizations have unique bonuses, building architecture and units.
  • In Age of Wonders 3, the Draconians, particularly their cities, have this design.
  • Aztec: an early videogame from the Apple II era. The Indiana Jones-like protagonist had to explore the Tomb of Quetzalcoatl in search of a jade idol, facing beasts, snakes, spiders, traps and fearsome blowgun-toting warriors rendered in all their '80s graphics glory.
  • Banjo-Tooie has Mayahem Temple, where sports like archery and kickball are practiced. In Real Life, while Mayans played Mesoamerican ballgames, they never practiced target shooting (and especially didn't worship a target shooting god).
  • Call of Juarez, a Western-themed FPS has the protagonists seeking and finding Aztec treasures.
  • Various Civilization games have played with this trope, but mostly avert it. The Aztec, Maya, and Inca are portrayed as different factions and typically have very different focuses—the Aztecs are an aggressive warmonger with a religion focus, the Inca are based around powerful infrastructure and food production, and the Maya are oriented towards scientific discovery through observatories. VI adds the relatively obscure Mapuche to the mix for good measure.
  • Curse of the Dead Gods features a temple to the titular Gods of Wonder (and Big Bad X'belz'aloc) that has Incan rope bridges, a huge emphasis on Aztec blood sacrifice, and a giant rotating stone wheel-door that bears much similarity to the Mayan long-count calendar. Justified, as the temple was built by the in-universe Chatac civilization, which is implied to have influenced the other cultures in Mesoamerica in a weird inverted example of Culture Chop Suey.
  • The Dancing Line level "The Maze" seems to take place in this setting, as it has various imageries (i.e. pyramids and golden statues) placed along the map.
  • Diablo II: Kehjistan combines Mayincatec building elements with South Asian jungles. It is also the seat of power of a monotheistic, very Christian influenced world religion, and most of it has a very Darkest Africa feel. They do practice blood sacrifice - to the prime evil Mephisto, probably without even knowing it.
  • Huitzil from Dark Stalkers is a Mayincatec space robot.
  • In Deadfall Adventures, the final chapter of the game takes place in Guatemala, in and around Xibalba, the Mayan "city of the dead". The game's mythology is correct regarding the city and its rulers, but here it's a real place, with a failed expedition of conquistadors (and their sailing ships, high in the mountains), one of whom's diary you can read.
  • Sauria in Dinosaur Planet and Star Fox Adventures is a combination of this and Prehistoria.
  • Donkey Kong 64 has Angry Aztec, with a llama in the middle of a tropical jungle in an island with no mountain high enough to match those of the former Aztec domains in historical Mexico. The level itself is mostly a desert. While Mexico does have coastal dunes, llamas reside in the mountains that are nothing like the Aztec themed desert of the work at hand.
  • Bloodseeker from Dota 2 has a vaguely Aztec motif. His gods require cubic furlongs of blood just to be satiated, and Bloodseeker contributes to that by shedding other heroes' blood and transferring its energy to his gods.
  • In the HD remake of DuckTales, the lock mechanism to access the Incan Temple of Doom in the Amazon stage is an Aztec calendar stone.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Cyrodiil, homeland of the Imperials and the heart of the various Tamriellic Empires throughout history, was stated originally have been a lush jungle and home to the Nibenese, a cross between a Mayincatec culture with some early Chinese Empire influences as well, with jungles, rivers, rice fields, tattoos, and stone cities. Later depictions transform it instead as a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of ancient Rome. This is justified as Tiber Septim, founder of the Third Cyrodiilic Empire, would use his powers post-apotheosis as the deity Talos to perform a Cosmic Retcon, transforming Cyrodiil into a temperate forest as a thanks to the Imperial Legions who served him so well in life. As shown in the prequel The Elder Scrolls Online, this change was retroactive, making it so Cyrodiil had always been a temperate forest.
    • Black Marsh, home of the Argonian race has aesthetic influences to this effect. There are some suggestions in the lore that some of its ancient stone cities and pyramid structures were not built by the Argonians themselves, but older civilizations which have since been wiped out.
  • Empire Earth 2:
    • The three civilizations represent the Mesoamerican civilizations, sharing the same design for buildings, units, and wonders (including two pyramids), differing in their unique units (Bola Throwers, Eagle Warriors, Jaguar Warriors, etc.) and minor combat bonuses.
    • The tutorial campaign features the Aztecs actually beating Cortes and eventually establishing a nation parallel to the United States, while the Incas become a fascist nation allying with Nazi Germany.
  • Fahrenheit (Released in America as Indigo Prophecy): Big Bad The Oracle is a Mayan priest who performed human sacrifice, magically living on into the present day. The other Big Bad is suspiciously Matrixish Artificial Intelligences the Maya fight against. It's a weird game.
  • For the King: The inhabitants of the jungle continent, featured in the Lost Civilization quest, are an indiscriminate mix of several different Central and South American cultures, including the Maya and the Aztecs.
  • Gift: The world of Paztec.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age has the city of Contigo, which is in this style. Bizarrely, it's also the birth hometown of Ivan, who lives in Kalay and looks European, and Hama, who lives near Xian and looks Chinese. And they're siblings.
  • Greendog: the protagonist is a cool surfer dude unfortunately cursed with an amulet that prevents surfing. He must track down a lost Aztec civilisation and recover six pieces of treasure in order to lift the curse.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: the Carja tribe displays many of these traits. Their capital city Meridian is a hybrid of several South American styles of architecture, and before the beginning of the game they were also said to have offered ritual sacrifices to the sun on behalf of their ruler, who is known as the Sun-King. Their priesthood is also frequently seen wearing elaborate headdresses.
  • In Illusion of Gaia, the first two main dungeons see you venturing into the ruined Incan city of Machu Picchu and then after traveling halfway across the ocean on the Incan ship of gold, visiting the Nazca lines, which are revealed to be a landing strip for the Moon Tribe's flying Sky Garden (never mind the fact that Machu Picchu and the Nazca lines are actually quite close to each other in Peru in reality, while they're on different continents in the game- the Comet did it).
  • Inca 1992, Sierra On-Line. Inca and Conquistadors at war in space!
  • Kolibri's last few levels (Penetration, Extraction, and Remission) take place around and in what appear to be Maya ruins.
  • The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning: The Tall Plains are a jungle-covered Temple of Doom area home to armadillos, Apes wearing feathered headpieces and decorated armor in a pseudo-Aztec style and wielding clubs loosely resembling Aztec weaponry, and a native population of anthropomorphic llamas.
  • The Lost Vikings: The jungle levels in the second installment include distinctive ruins riddled with traps and spear-throwing savages, and a shaman who needs to collect some ingredients for supposed time travel.
  • Mario Super Sluggers: K. Rool's new outfit has a marked pre-Columbian influence.
  • Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is set in the ruins of one of these civilizations. Ruins that are being dug up by a giant mining operation.
  • Refreshingly averted in Medieval 2 Total War Americas Campaign. The Aztecs and Mayas are both playable and are shown to be very different but with some overlapping features, for instance both worship the Feathered Serpent but call him Quetzalcoatl and Kukalkan respectively.
    • The Inca are nowhere to be found because the map doesn't go south of Guatemala, but the Tarascans are present and they originated in the Andes.
    • While the Aztecs are the only Nahuatl speakers most people know, the Tlaxcalla and Chichimeca are also present.
  • Block Man's stage in Mega Man 11 is a Chichen Itzá-like pyramid with Aztec-styled murals of Mega Man getting killed by an army of several of the enemies found in the stage, led by Block Man himself.
  • Metal Slug: the very first thing Marco and co. see in the series is a gigantic Olmec head in the background at the start of the first game's first level. Metal Slug 5 features Aztec-like shamans and their temple full of traps.
  • One of the new characters to be featured in Mortal Kombat X is Kotal Kahn, who looks like a straight example of this trope at first glance, but he is an overall faithful representation of Huitzilopochtli, and his name bears resemblance to Quetzalcoatl. Although in his backstory he actually ends up playing the role of the Mayan war god, Buluc Chabtan.
  • The ruins of La-Mulana appear to be located in Latin America and at first appear to be the work of ancient indigenous people. The boss Palenque is based on a famous Maya bas-relief often interpreted by cranks as evidence of Ancient Astronauts. The final year of the Aztecs' fifth age (2012) figures in one of the puzzles.

    Unusually, the mix of South American cultures is explicitly explained in the backstory; the ruins of La-Mulana are the birthplace of all civilizations. Every area contains elements of different cultures and mythologies, suggesting that these cultures actually borrowed theological, architectural, and mythological elements from La-Mulana. Lemeza notes this in one of his lectures on the Wiiware remake blog. Being an archaeologist, he is quick to point out the images, structures and elements, seen in multiple ancient cultures including the Mayan, Teotihuacan, Aztec, Tiwanaku, Inca, and even Persian civilizations.
  • OutRun 2006 has a Mayincatec race track. It ends with the atlantes from Tula, Hidalgo sitting next to the pyramids of Teotihuacán a few miles north from Mexico City, after crossing the pyramid of Chichén-Itzá in the Yucatán peninsula, which is next to the Major Temple in downtown Mexico City, and throughout the track you'll see Olmec heads from the southern Gulf Coast.
  • Path of Exile has the ancient Vaal civilization, one of the first civilizations to develop on Wraeclast and the first to discover thaumaturgy and the use of Virtue Gems. The Vaal made extensive use of human sacrifice and Blood Magic, developed advanced Magitek technology, and built great cities and pyramids. The Incursion update brings these traits to the fore and centers around raiding the Temple of Doom Atzoatl for its treasures. Alva, your NPC companion for incursions, has a very strong conquistador style to her design.
  • Persona 2 has "mystical" ruins created by Mayans mysteriously appear after the publication of a book of such rumors. Those ruins never existed before that. The book's release brought them into reality.
  • Pokémon: Game Freak loves America so much, they've dedicated at least one mon to each continent. The Kanto region gives us Zapdos, a thunderbird. Natives of Johto can get Natu, a quetzal, that evolves into Xatu, a totem pole. And in Unova, which is in the United States, you get Sigilyph, which looks like a living Nazca Line drawing.
  • Rise of Legends has the Cuotl, a race of jungle dwelling natives led by alien gods, who use animate stone jaguars and snakes as combat units.
  • Rise of Nations features the Mayans, Inca, and Aztec all separately, but the Aztecs do get the "Power of Sacrifice" as their starting power.
  • One of the scenes in Sanitarium takes place in a very Mayincatec village, where the villagers are terrorized by a bloodthirsty rampaging Quetzalcoatl. Except it's really your nemesis, so there's an excuse for out of character behavior. Also, you are at the time Olmec, a stone warrior god. Also, it all only exists within your mind.
  • The first half of Serious Sam: The Second Encounter takes place during the Mayan age, while The First Encounter took place entirely in Ancient Egypt. The player gets to visit Palenque and Teotihuacan, with the boss of the episode being the wind god Kukulkan aka Quetzalcoatl. While there are a few artistic liberties taken in the depiction, overall it's impressively accurate. Worth mentioning is that Kukulkan avoids two stereotypes: he is presented as a giant wind elemental spirit instead of a feathered serpent and the ingame bestiary explicitly says that he isn't evil or aligned with Mental's armies at all, instead he's simply doing his job as a guardian of a time portal and will even disappear after beaten as a sign of respect for the player. There are also references to several deities (Ixchel) and real historic people (Montezuma).
  • Shadowbane has a bunch of lizardmen who inhabit heavily Aztec influenced ruins. While the blood sacrifice aspect isn't played up much, the game lore say that they were up to something pretty bad - that is, until the centaurs killed off their priesthood.
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider has this as the theme of Lara's adventure trying to stop the Mayan apocalypse she started by taking a mystic dagger. It especially becomes a plot point midway through the game, after she finds the hidden Mayan city of Paititi in Peru, that's been kept far away from civilization since the Conquistadors. She outright hangs a lampshade on it when she begins finding Aztec, Mayan, and even Inca relics and ruins hundreds of miles from the extents of their historical empires, noting they shouldn't be there.
  • Shin Megami Tensei frequently includes Mesoamerican and South American gods in its Demonic Compendium, but they are almost always well-researched and specifically tied to their cultural origin. Of particular note, Soul Hackers and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (which takes its demon designs from the former) use Quetzalcoatl's "pale-skinned Caucasian priest" form rather than the too-literal (but inaccurate) "snake with wings" of the original series and the Persona subfranchise (Quetzalcoatl's "feathered serpent" form is actually Gucumatz, another name for the Mayan version of Quetzalcoatl, Kukulcan, and is depicted as a separate demon in the games.)
  • The Sealed Evil in a Can in Shivers originated from an unspecified ancient Central American civilization.
  • The Sims 4: Jungle Adventure has Selvadorada, where your Sim can go to find "Omiscan" ruins in an Indiana Jones-esque fashion.
  • Skies of Arcadia features the Ixa'Takans, a primitive Mayincatec Fantasy Counterpart Culture complete with an invasion by the very Spain-like Valuans.
  • The Mayan Pantheon was added to Smite in order to fill the role of a Mesoamerican culture. However they avert this trope by being faithful to the surviving records of real world Mayan mythology. Though worth mentioning is that one of the playable characters- the winged serpent god Kukulkan has an alternate costume referencing Quetzalcoatl, his more popularly depicted Aztec counterpart.
  • Soldier Of Fortune II has a level in Colombia that has Mayan temple ruins, which is a gross failure in geography.
  • The Mystic Ruins and Angel Island in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The ancient Knuckles Clan are based on the ancient Mayans and some are named after Central and South American locations. During the development of Sonic Adventure, Sega paid a few developers around $250,000 each to go down to Mexico and base the Mystic Ruins after the Mayan temples.
  • Spelunky has every Mayincatec trope in the book. Human sacrifice, priests with feather headdresses worshiping evil gods, underground trap-filled stone temples, and even a gold city. Oh, and throw in an Olmec head for good measure.
  • In Starbound, one of the playable alien races are the Avians, a bird-like civilization with all the Mayincatec trappings, that is deeply religious, usually doing blood sacrifices for their god Kluex.
  • Walled City in Star Fox Adventures has a very clear Mayincatec look, complete with the pyramids, though its inhabitants don't have any Mayincatec traits. It is a likely cross between this and Asian architecture, which may explain the presence of dragon heads near the Arwing. Likewise, Cloudrunner Fortress is a blend of Greek, Japanese and Mayincatec elements.
  • Ogre of Tekken is based on the real-life Aztec god of war Huitzilopochtli. The story claims that he's created by the Ancient Astronauts eons ago.
  • In Temtem the island of Tucma is a rather unusual example. It is based on northern Argentina and its Incan heritage, but many of its names are in Nahuatl and a cenote is plot relevant. Ultimately it eschews typical trappings like pyramids or blood sacrifices.
  • The Lost Kingdom park in Theme Park World, which name-drops Incan, Mayan, and Aztec cultures simultaneously.
  • The RTS/civilization game Theocracy is set in and around the Aztec empire. In the campaigns you play the Aztecs or other nearby tribes.
  • Tomb Raider: The City of Vilcabamba is based on the real-life last outpost of the Inca. It contains a gold idol modelled on a Tumi, a ceremonial knife used in sacrifices, as well as an Aztec sun stone.
  • Tombs & Treasure is a first-person graphical adventure game that has the ruins of Mayan city Chichén Itzá as a setting.
  • In Tony Hawk's Underground 2, one of the sections of the Pro Skater level has an ancient temple with native NPCs holding spears and wearing headdresses.
  • Mayincatec is the general aesthetic for trolls in Warcraft and World of Warcraft. Different types of trolls emphasize different Mesoamerican influences.
    • The cult of Hakkar, sometimes also called The Blood God, brings in the Aztec influence. Hakkar takes the form of a feathered serpent, referencing Quetzalcoatl. However, at least at present, Hakkar is highly hostile to living creatures. Technically, "blood god" is a misnomer because it's the souls he eats not the blood. This cult is most popular among the jungle trolls: but because the trolls are declining (they used to rule most of the world), they are turning to worshipping Hakkar in larger numbers.
    • The Zandalari trolls in World of Warcraft, especially the Battle for Azeroth expansion, are Mayincatec WITH DINOSAURS!. With them, the emphasis is on the Inca part: lots of gold and everything is enormous. Battle for Azerothalso introduced the Blood Trolls who are Aztec with a side of Chthulu cult. they worship the "Old God" Ghuun.
  • Wizard101 has Azteca, which was appropriately enough, released in late 2012.
  • Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire has a liberal sprinkling of this trope. The primary example is the Nahuatla tribe, who live in a city called Tichticatl. There's also a lost underground city formerly inhabited by the Kotl, who were Mayincatec lizard people.
  • Mayincatec designs show up a lot in Yume Nikki. It's anyone's guess why Mayincatec gods/symbols/abominations feature so much in the dreams of a Japanese Hikikomori.
  • Zuma is a color-chain matching game given a Mayincatec design theme. The aesthetic is mostly Mayan, but it references both Aztec (Ehecatl, Centeotl, Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl) and Mayan (Kukulkan) gods. There is even a passing mention to the Mixtec, another unrelated Mesoamerican civilization.

  • Aquapunk is this trope times Cyberpunk times mermaids.
  • The "Death Volley" chapter of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is an adventure set in a classic Mayincatec trap-filled temple. The end of the chapter hints at what gets revealed later: that King Radical built the culture that created said temple.
  • You can see traces of Mesoamerican culture here and there in Nahast: Lands of Strife.
  • Pilli Adventure has had several Aztec monsters show up, including a beheaded ball-game player and an animated water-pot.
  • One Subnormality strip features The Pink-Haired Girl being sent a drink at a bar by "the merciless Teoxhl...something something", who turns out to be a giant Mayincatec-style stone idol. The drink is jaguar blood.
    "Gawd, these desperate older guys are so creepy. You just know he's hoping you're a virgin too."
  • Wapsi Square establishes a link between Mayan and Egyptian culture via Atlantis. Quite surprising for what started out looking like a Friends-style webcomic sitcom. The Long Count Calendar (See main article above) is key to the plot.
  • The Water Phoenix King has been described as a formerly high-fantasy world where the Spanish Conquistador-equivalents switched sides and allied with Tenochtitlan to conquer Europe - and then the Abrahamic God screwed everything up.

    Western Animation 
  • On The Angry Beavers, in the episode "Moronathon Man," Norbert ingests a potion that makes him stupid. (Meanwhile, Dagget becomes a super-genius, because the potion couldn't make him any stupider.) Somehow, Norbert ends up on an island, where he sits atop a Mayan or Aztec pyramid, being worshipped by people who think he's a god, and fed fruit. The worshippers bow down and repeat his mantra: "DUUUUUUHHHH!!!!"
  • The Sun Warriors in Avatar: The Last Airbender resemble the Aztecs. Word of God says they added a few Asian traits into them.
  • Combo Niños, despite being quite animesque, is pretty much loaded with iconography in this trope line.
  • The Histeria! episode "The Montezuma Show"
  • Inspector Gadget:
  • The Simpsons receive an Olmec head of Xtapolapocetl in one episode. It frequently reappears as a Freeze-Frame Bonus. In an aversion of this trope, when Maggie sees the head, she points to a card saying Aztec, and Lisa corrects her, saying "Not Aztec. Olmec. Ol-mec."
    • In "The Mysterious Voyage of Homer", Homer's spiritual experience is mostly based on the American Southwest but with a few Mesoamerican trappings added, such as an Aztec-looking pyramid.
  • Superjail! had an episode where they uncover the ancient city of Pummel-onia, a Mayincatec shrine to war and fighting. They even have a god of war in ceremonial dress that was trapped in animal form.
  • In The Tick episode "Sidekicks Don't Kiss," Arthur was kidnapped by a group of "Aztecs." As with the comic example above, these "Aztecs" were originally a baseball team that got stranded in the jungle and copied Aztec culture through a book they picked up at the airport.
  • Subverted in X-Men: Beast and Jubilee are travelling around Peru, and come across an isolated tribe. Beast immediately notes that they are Mayan, not Inca, and about 3,000 miles south of where they should be.

    Real Life 
  • The Mexico pavilion at Epcot is built to look like an Aztec pyramid.
  • If there's human sacrifice in pre-Columbian North America (the only case after Columbus being the Pawnee), it will most likely be attributed to Mesoamerican civilizations.
  • The closest to a real life example of a Mayincatec culture is probably the rarely discussed Tarascan Empire in Western Mexico, a traditional enemy of the Aztecs. The Tarascans (who to this day call themselves P'urhépecha, or "Newcomers") speak a language isolate, were the first in Mesoamerica to work copper and bronze, and made ceramics with apparent Andean stylistic influences. It's been suspected for a long time that they descend from pre-Inca South American peoples that sailed to Mexico from what is now Colombia and Ecuador.
  • Inversely, the Manteño-Huancavilca culture complex in coastal Ecuador was once suggested to be of Mayan origin, due to some artistic influences and a local native myth about civilization being brought to the region by a foreign king who came from the sea.
  • The Huastecs are a Mayan people who migrated in ancient times along the Mexican Gulf coast, from the Yucatan to the modern Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The Aztecs conquered them around 1470 and were so impressed with their fighting, that they copied the Huastec battle dress for one of their ranks.
  • Most Nahuan languages (close relatives of the Aztec language, Nahuatl) are spoken in central Mexico, but some can be found as far as southern Chihuahua (Mexicanero) and northern Nicaragua (Nicarao). Nahuan languages are in turn part of the Uto-Aztecan language family, which includes many languages in the western United States, like Shoshone and Comanche.
  • During the Spanish conquest, many indigenous peoples allied with the Spanish and re-settled in places far from their land of origin, like Tlaxcalans in northern Mexico (and as far as New Mexico and Texas) and Nicaraguans in Peru. Tlaxcalans would end up composing the armies that conquered Philippines and certain Mayan tribes.
  • Etzatlan in the Mexican state of Jalisco is made of the name of the Itzas, the Maya people who built Chichen Itza in what is now the Mexican state of Yucatan, and the Nahuatl (the language The Mexica and many other Aztec peoples spoke) prepositional suffix, "tla/tlan," which means, "place of."
  • A complication in this trope is that it is often plainly apparent that there was a lot of cross-cultural exchange going on between the various city-building cultures of Mesoamerica. Elements like the Ball Game, some form of blood sacrifice (anything from token drops of blood to ripping out the hearts of whole village's worth of people one after the other), and substantial portions of basic mythological structures are often shared between multiple civilizations. As we can trace back complex civilizations in this region for at least a couple of thousand years, it would be quite surprising if there wasn't substantial appearance of similar cultural themes. But between Mesoamerican and South American cultures, not so much.
  • The Hernández Brothers Sect in 1960s Mexico was a scam that took advantage of the ignorance of their illiterate victims to claim "tributes" in exchange for favors from mysterious "Inca gods in the mountains" (victims and scammers alike being unaware that the Incas lived in South America). It went off the rails when the brothers, in order to keep The Masquerade when two victims were becoming wary, decided to bring in an Axe-Crazy prostitute, Magdalena Solís, and present her as the incarnation of the "Inca goddess" they were prophets of. Solís rapidly seized absolute control and, being actually versed in Aztec mythology, presented herself as the goddess Coatlicue and demanded human sacrifices by removal of the heart. Oops.
  • In architecture, the Mayan Revival makes use of techniques and iconography from various Mesoamerican cultures in a Modernist and Art Deco milieu.
  • While the feathered serpent was a pretty widespread god (and pretty much the only one non-experts can name) it was - ironically enough - almost universally described as abhorring human sacrifice, even during times and in cultures that were otherwise quite fond of ripping out hearts and whatnot.
  • The ceramics of the Moche in northwest Peru (100-700 AD) depict warriors in falcon or eagle-looking suits, who are (naturally) unrelated to the Aztec eagle warriors of Mesoamerica.
  • Right in the Midwest, the Mississippian civilization had large urban centers, a powerful priestly class, warriors associated with birds (though they were falcons rather than eagles), giant pyramids (of mud, not stone), and human sacrifice. They collapsed in the 15th and 16th centuries for not entirely clear reasons (though the plagues brought from Europe that killed off more than 90% of pre-Columbian North Americans likely didn't help). From their ruins emerged the Born in the Saddle nomads that most people associate with prehistoric North America.


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Alternative Title(s): The Inca, The Maya, The Olmecs, The Toltec, Hollywood Maya, Hollywood Inca, Hollywood Aztec


Mayahem Temple

Mayahem Temple, where sports like archery and kickball are practiced. In Real Life, while Mayans played Mesoamerican ballgames, they never practiced target shooting (and especially didn't worship a target shooting god).

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