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Monstrous Scenery

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"Hell of a party, huh?"
Sometimes, the background of an area in a video game or other type of visual work is relatively static or bland, as most of the action is focused around the main character, their allies, and enemies. How can you spice things up? By adding large creatures to the background, of course! Monstrous Scenery is when the scenery of an area is dominated by large beasts that pay little attention to the player character, better giving off the impression that there is a whole world beyond the main character's adventures. Relatively common in 2D Games; if present in 3D games and not animated into the background, expect them to be in an inaccessible area that can only be viewed but never reached. Other works of media can qualify for this trope if the creatures are treated as part of the scenery and do not interact with any character.

Note that to qualify for this trope, these creatures must be part of the scenery and should not interact with the player/main character, or at least must not do so for the majority of the level of a video game. Any random creature serving as scenery also does not qualify; it must be gigantic in order to give the impression that the player/main character is in a land of giants.

Compare Ribcage Ridge, for when the skeletons of giant monsters are used instead of living ones, and Genius Loci. Slightly more active variants may give the player a Cranium Ride or allow the player access to new locations via Colossus Climb, while still largely passive and invincible.

Video Game Examples

    open/close all folders 

  • Akuji the Heartless has a level where Akuji travels on the back of a giant snake and battles enemies, but the snake itself won't injure Akuji in any way in the level.
  • God of War:
    • God of War (PS4): The landscape of Hel is dominated by a Titan-sized eagle perching on the tip of the highest tower of the City of the Dead. Neither the main cast nor any secondary character describe it, let alone interact with it and call it by name (although it's implied it's a shapeshifting Giant from Norse Mythology known as Hraesvelgr, i.e. "the corpse swallower"). Similarly, Jörmungandr the World Serpent is a constant backdrop in the main Hub World, interacted with only in the beginning and then as a feature of the final boss sequence.
    • In God of War Ragnarök, the giant bird will speak to Kratos and friends briefly, to chide Atreus for freeing Garm to tear holes in reality.
  • Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat has a giant whale creature in the fjord's sea who periodically sticks its head above and below the water. But despite its size the monster is harmless and doesn't interact with the player.
  • The Phantom Menace have the third level, the underwater city of Otoh Gunga, where gigantic aquatic monsters like the Colo Claw fish and Opee Sea Killer from the film can be seen swimming outside the city's force-field walls.
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order: On Bogano, a huge dragon-like creature known as a Binog can be seen sleeping in the background; info about the creature can be obtained, but it cannot be interacted with. Interestingly enough, it disappears as Imperial presence increases on the planet but returns once they leave.

    Action RPGs 
  • Diablo III has one straight example and one downplayed one:
    • The Towers of Sin areas have multiple giant demons chained up and serving as part of the tower's foundations. Cydaea, the demon general who controls the towers, boasts about the enjoyment she gets from torturing them.
    • The Siegebreaker Assault Beast serves as a boss fight late in Act 3. When fighting demons on the walls of Bastion's Keep at the start of the act, you can sometimes see it on the battlefield below, fighting its way through the keep's defenders.
  • Jade Empire: Green ghosts can be seen floating around in Old Tien's Landing. Unlike most of the other ghosts in the game, these do not interact with the player.

    Beat 'em Up 

  • Cosmo Police Galivan: One stage has giant flying piranhas in the back while you fight enemy robots in the foreground.
  • Demon Skin has an area where two stone giants in the background pummel each other as you fight skeletons in the front and another where a reptilian monster is chained in an alcove and actually makes lunging moves at you, but it remains chained to the spot no matter what and you can't interact with it either.
  • Fantastic Four for the Playstation have a short stage in Atlantis where the players, in control of the four, fights Namor and his Fish People mooks while a massive giant octopus chills out in the back. Said octopus doesn't interact with the players in any way, save for filling up background space.
  • Jitsu Squad loves throwing assorted scary-looking monsters in the background... as scenery.
    • The Neon Boulevard penthouse stage have the Giant Eye of Doom of some huge monster peeking in, for starters. But the monster is merely an observer.
    • Pirate Bay has a Kraken randomly chilling in the background as you fight enemy pirates and ghosts up front.
    • The moat outside Castle Hellstorm have a Stock Ness Monster who's just... there. In the water, and doing nothing.
    • Infernia has numerous red-skinned demons and a couple of dragons adorning the back of the arena, minding their own business without interfering your fight.
    • Primal Rage is set in a valley full of prehistoric monsters, including T-Rexes, mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers and the like, but none of them can be interacted with.
    • The final stage, Realm of Rogue, is supposedly set in hell, and the background is crawling with activity, from walls with teeth to purple demons holding pitchforks and a gigantic monster about to drop a demon into it's mouth. The spirit world outside Origami's quarters on the other hand is populated by all kind of specters with two scary-looking demon centaurs beckoning the player. All of them serving as background filler.
  • Kabuki Z has a stage where a gigantic oriental dragon that takes up the entire background watches you fight, but being a background is its sole purpose.
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue have a level near a waterfront circling with sharks. But they stay underwater for the entirety of the game.
  • Ultraverse Prime have a jungle stage where the background is filled with Man Eating Plants who... doesn't interact with anything else, even as you fight mooks in the center.

    Fighting Games 
  • Blazblue:
    • The "Monorail' stage sometimes features a giant flying creature that passes by the vehicle during the fight.
    • Es's stage, "Apocalypse" features a cameo from the Black Beast itself in the background.
  • Darkstalkers: The "Fetus of God" stage features the titular colossal fetus in the background.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • In the Cloud Sea of Alrest stage, the country-sized titans that make up the inhabitable lands of Alrest periodically walk or fly across the far background.
    • In the Distant Planet stage, a large but motionless Red Bulborb, distinct from the one that serves as a stage hazard, can sometimes appear in the far background of the stage, as can a group of Cloaking Burrow-Nits.
    • In the Frigate Orpheon stage, the background is dominated by a cylindrical tank holding the huge Parasite Queen.
    • In the Living Room stage, giant puppies and kittens can sometimes appear playing in the background, but do not interact with the player.
    • In the Umbra Clock Tower stage, numerous immense, monstrous angels fly around the background, briefly looming over the fighters before flying away.
    • In Dracula’s Castle, several monsters will appear in the background and terrorize from the background. Dracula can be fought, but not in a standard match.
    • Brinstar is backed by a giant brain-like creature that occasionally wriggles around (and doesn't ever actually appear in any Metroid game).
  • Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: The Orbital Rings System Cargo Bay level features a giant Radam "spidercrab" fighting against soldiers. Sometimes, the soldiers will drive off the monster and start celebrating. Sometimes, the monster will win, drive off the soldiers, and fill the area with a poison gas. Neither outcome affects the fighters.
  • Weaponlord: The "Destiny Battle" stage has combatants fight on the stomach of a massive humanoid demon.
  • X-Men: Next Dimension: Apocalypse will sometimes appear in the background during fights in the Tomb level.

  • Heidelberg 1693 has a chasm containing a tentacled abomination while you cross a bridge above it. But the monster remains confined to the pit and there's no way for you to interact with it.
  • Hollow Knight: The kingdom of Hallownest is mostly dominated by ruined structures and the remnants of the kingdom's lost glory, but there are several spots where massive creatures can be seen in the background that pay no attention to the Knight:
    • In the Beast's Den in Deepnest, there is a massive trilobite-like creature that hangs suspended from the ceiling, far larger than the actual trilobite that can be fought in the Colosseum. While it can be touched and even attacked, it is immune to all forms of damage and does not respond to anything done to it.
    • In the locked room of the Abyss that contains the Lifeblood charm, a massive head (a single eye is larger than the player character) can be seen opening almost a dozen eyes in the background and moving up and down slightly as though breathing. There's no possible way to interact with it, and with how large its head alone is that's probably for the best.
    • The Land of Storms, the home of the Godseeker, is depicted in her memories as an apocalyptic wasteland where enormous insectoid figures loom in the background- these are presumably the Gods of Rain and the Gods of Thunder who abandoned the Godseeker's people.
  • Metroid: Samus Returns: SR388 is home to enormous creatures internally named "Bugcrystal02" (found in Area 4, resembling a crab with crystals growing out of its back) and "Bigbug01" (found in Area 6, resembling a spiked slug with one eye), which roam the caverns in the background and never directly interact with Samus Aran. Their titanic sizes serve to make Samus seem even smaller and more alone in these deep expansive underground environments.

  • Warframe: The Cambion Drift is loomed over by two giant worms — Fass and Vome — who pay no attention to the landscape and cannot be interacted with, but whose constant battle represents the Drift's time cycle.

    Open-World Games 
  • Chasing The Unseen have you exploring an abstract world and climbing through all kinds of background, including giant monsters whom were completely idle and ignores you. The trailer notably sees you running along the tentacles of a hovering Giant Squid.

  • Paranoiascape is a pinball game set in hell (yes, really) played from a First-Person perspective. While you face demons and assorted undead in the foreground, the background seems to contain as much action as well, from a meadow filled with gigantic, disembodied limbs to gigantic Sand Worm monsters.

  • Ayo the Clown: The Clown Town area has a giant monster sitting on the hills behind it, playing with toy cars. It's used to add to the game's Wacky Land feel.
  • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: In some of the 2D levels of the Licensed Game (such as the ones involving Scratt), large dinosaurs can be seen in the background that do not interact with the player.
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: Throughout each level, Clockwerk, the Big Bad of the first game, can be seen in the background of the scenery, watching you.

    Racing Games 
  • Mario Kart series:
    • In the N64 Sherbet Land level, an enormous penguin, much larger than the ones that serve as road hazards in the stage, can be seen standing on an inaccessible iceberg in the middle of the stage, but cannot be reached or interacted with.
    • In Dino Dino Jungle, two large red and yellow Noshi dinosaurs can be seen in the water at the bridge section, but only serves as scenery rather than obstacles, unlike the blue Noshi near the beginning of the course.
  • F-Zero GX: A giant Sand Worm is occasionally seen in the desert track. Thankfully, it doesn't do anything to hurt you and your competitors, since all it does is jump through the dunes.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Total War:
    • Total War: Warhammer:
      • The campaign maps are decorated with ambient creatures depending on the locale, such as nests of giant spiders in the forests, circling griffons and wyverns around mountaintops, patrolling gyrocopters in dwarfen territory, daemons within the Realms of Chaos, and sea monsters in the oceans.
      • Total War: Warhammer II: The final quest battle for the Vampire Coast is fought between your faction and the dark elf pirate Lokhir Fellheart for the honor of hunting and slaying the giant merwyrm Amanar. The battle itself is consequently fought in a submarine cavern surrounded by a veil of water, with the hill-sized sea dragon itself lurking just behind it, emerging occasionally to roar in fury or casting its shadow over the entire battlefield as it swims overhead.
      • Total War: Warhammer III: The backgrounds of the final battle maps within the Realm of Chaos are dominated by the shapes of the Chaos Gods as they look down on the clashes between their followers and invading challengers. Most take the form of immense humanoid forms half-seen within the gloom, while Tzeentch appears as hundreds of eyes staring down from the sky.
    • A Total War Saga: TROY: In Myth mode, the skies of the battle maps are visually dominated by the faces of the Greek gods as they look down on the battles of the armies and heroes of the Achaeans and Trojans.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon: The Ultra Plant, home dimension for Xurkitree, has, apart from the one Xurkitree you can catch, gigantic Xurkitree in the background that can't be interacted with, and a regular-sized one running down the giant Xurkitree vines lower down the cliff from your current position.

  • Cuphead: The Tipsy Troop, the first of the many bosses fought in King Dice's Boss Bonanza, are fought on the table of humongous casino restaurant, where many giant demons and ghosts appear on background as "customers", befitting the nature of The Casino located in Hell. While some other members of King Dice's "Court" also have similar background customers (such as the giant skeletons at Chips Bettigan's poker table), these are the most prominent.
  • Darius: Several stages have humongous dragons simply loitering in the background without interacting with your ship. One stage is even set on the back of a sleeping dragon.
  • DOOM Eternal: In the first level of the game, Hell on Earth, an enormous demon called a Titan can be seen in the background after terminating the first hell priest, but can't be interacted with in any way by the player.

    Wide-Open Sandboxes 
  • Chasing The Unseen runs on this trope; you're an explorer populated in a world occupied by kaiju-sized behemoths, none of them actually seeing you as a threat and simply leaving you alone as you perform a Colossus Climb on whatever creature the game has. It's practically a climbing game, but with giant creatures instead of strucutres.
  • Spore: In the earliest stage, you play as a tiny primitive organism. As you swim around searching for food, you can see much bigger organisms swimming far in the background. Thankfully, you're not large enough to attract their notice... yet.
  • Terraria: The Crimson as of 1.4 can have a background showing colossal eyeballs in a field. While giant eye monsters are fightable as enemies in the game, these are much bigger than any of them, and cannot be found in the foreground in any way.

Other Examples

  • Near the end of The Mist, David and the other survivors were driving out of the monster-infested town covered by the titular mist when they come across a multi-legged, multi-tentacled, kaiju-sized creature (identified in the film as the "Behemoth") who's easily the largest monster in the entire movie. Despite noticing the survivors, the Behemoth simply ignores them and casually strolls past.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Mandalorian: In Episode 13, "The Jedi", huge long-legged creatures can be seen in the background of many shots, ambling through the burnt-out forests of Corvus. They are never seen at closer quarters, and the only interaction Din Djarin has with one is staring at it through his binoculars before being ambushed by Ahsoka.

    Music Videos 
  • Of Monsters and Men: This is an extremely prevalent motif in many of their Concept Videos, as there's frequently a large beast either in the background or the actual setting of the action of the video. In "Numb Bears," the anteater that's seen walking throughout the video is actually walking atop a large, hairy beast that looks like a hill. In "Lakehouse" the mountain that the camera is panning over is actually a large monster with many eyes. In "Six Weeks," humanoid giants can be seen walking through the woods, but they don't seem to notice the traveller the video's point of view is likely animated upon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Forgotten Realms: The city of Waterdeep has giant living statues that will come to life to defend the city if it is threatened. In most low-level campaigns in Waterdeep, they will never have any need to awaken, making them only scenery to the player characters.

    Web Animation 
  • The web creator and 3D artist pwnisher initiates many internet challenges for fellow 3D artists. The submissions follow a basic visual structure or idea, but freely explore any type of genre, color palette, or art style. They often have very vivid and detailed backgrounds, and with that of course comes this very trope.
    • In his Alternate Realities challenge, the basic visual theme/structure is of a humanoid figure walking and dragging something along behind them with a large circular shape in the upper right hand corner. Many of the submitted animations show large creatures in the background.
      • In this animation a huge Patronus-like stag can be seen standing in the background.
      • In this animation a giant gorilla can be seen lounging and relaxing atop a mountain in the background.
      • In this animation a huge woman made of stone is seen slowly moving her arm in the background.
      • In this animation a giant with glowing eyes can be seen walking in the background, along with a giant eyeball.
      • In this animation a giant reptilian creature can be seen flying in the distance.
      • In this animation some large tentacles can be seen moving in the background.
      • Averted in this animation when the giant man in the portal seems to notice the protagonist.
      • At this animation a giant can be seen slowly moving in one corner.
      • In this one a giant floating whale can be seen.
    • In his Parallel Dimensions challenge, the basic visual structure is of a figure walking with their back facing the camera towards a large mountain in the background. This trope is exhibited by some of the animations in which large creatures can be seen in front of or near the mountain.
      • In this animation a giant spider can be seen peacefully moving around in front of the mountain.
      • In this animation and this one a large Zeus-like figure and a large Satan-like figure can respectively be seen sitting in front of the mountains, not paying any mind to the main character.
      • In this animation a gigantic snake's body can be seen moving in the distant background.
      • In this scene a giant art doll can be seen moving its arms behind the mountain.
    • In his Infinite Journeys challenge, the basic visual structure involves one or more characters with a rectangle in the middle through which something can be seen happening, usually a window or a screen of some sort. Though this trope is very heavily used in the submissions to this challenge, it is also heavily averted as there are several submissions in which the creatures do eventually interact with the main characters and the foreground.
      • In this animation many huge jellyfish can be seen ascending through the clouds.
      • In this one a pod of flying whales can be seen through the window.
      • In this animation a huge ent-like creature can be seen lumbering through the valley below.