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Mysterious Antarctica

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"Antarctica is the Last Continent, so everyone likes to think there's something mysterious out there: tribes of white giants, misty craters full of unconvincing rubber dinosaurs, cities of the Great Old Ones With Unpronounceable Names..."

People have always wondered about what mysteries might lurk in unexplored regions. At first, people explored the land mass they lived on, voyaging up rivers, forging through dense Wild Wilderness and up into mountains. As Europeans explored more, they sailed to the Americas, and the mysterious unknown regions were revealed and mapped as part of colonialism. Eventually explorers traveled to Africa, Asia and Australia.

The last continent to be explored and mapped out was the desolate, icy expanses of Antarctica, which was long suspected to exist but ultimately dismissed as myth until 1820, when it was finally, officially, sighted by humans. Even now, most of its surface has only been mapped by satellite. Incredible cold and lethal winds conspired to keep humans away, which made it a fertile area for stories about mysterious buried alien technology, ancient aliens, and monsters frozen in the ice. This trend continues today — after all, who knows what may be under the ice?

In Real Life, rather than pyramids and UFOs, what's under the ice seems to pretty much be... more ice. The main inhabitants of Antarctica are scientists and the main economic activity is scientific research. A number of countries have research stations.

As time goes on, of course, Science Marches On, and the more fantastical versions of this trope are just as Discredited, just like the way depicting civilizations on the inhospitable planets of Mars and Venus in many a 1920s and 1930s Planetary Romance fell away once we knew that both were uninhabitable.

A particularly common variant is the Eerie Arctic Research Station, which despite the name applies to both the Arctic and Antarctic. Also see The Shangri-La for supernatural or mysterious depictions of another remote, icy region. See also Monster in the Ice, Grim Up North (the polar opposite), Polar Bears and Penguins.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In A Centaur's Life, Antarctica is inhabited by a species of snake people. The cold-blooded "serpentines" survive because of their advanced technological level and frequent use of geothermal power.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: In the original, negotiations between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon took place in Antarctica, since it was the closest thing to neutral territory in the Earth Sphere. These negotiations eventually lead to the signing of the Antarctic Treaty (sort of a futuristic Geneva Convention that, among other things, outlawed the use of nuclear and biological weapons, as well as Colony Drops).
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Antarctica was the resting place of the angel Adam; disturbing him is what starts the entire series.
  • A Place Further than the Universe involves the protagonists going on a civilian expedition to Antarctica, the "place" described in the title, which is also the title of Shirase's mother's book with the same name. Hinata even once describes it as a great place to get away from everyone.
  • In Sentou Yousei Yukikaze, the JAM invasion of Earth started on the Ross Ice Shelf when a hyperspace portal appeared and they came out shooting. The world got a rude wake-up call that day when panicked scientists at the McMurdo Research Station broadcast shots of 3 JAM aircraft shooting down a cargo plane that had just taken off. For extra points, if Lynn Jackson's flashback in the anime adaptation's first episode is accurate, this happened on Christmas Day.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham, an Elseworld mixing the Dark Knight with H. P. Lovecraft (mainly At the Mountains of Madness) opens with Bruce Wayne and his wards arriving in Antarctica to find out what happened to "the Cobblepot Expedition". Almost all of them died in the Mountains of Madness, Cobblepot himself joined the albino penguins, and one member of the expedition became an undead being that needs the Antarctic cold to survive (a mashup between Mr Freeze and Dr Muñoz from Cool Air).
    • Martian Manhunter: The Manhunter has a base there, in his case an entire buried Martian city.
    • Superman: In the post-Crisis comics, particularly during the Roger Stern era, the first version of the Fortress of Solitude was in the Antarctic. (It was generally referred to only as "the Antarctic Fortress.")
    • Wonder Woman (2011): The New 52 Wonder Woman foe known as the First Born was buried in Antarctica.
  • La Guerra de los Antartes: The Argentine Antarctica is the starting point of an alien invasion. As a result of the location, the aliens are named "Antartes".
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Mighty Thor: In one story, Thor finds the last survivor of a colony of Vikings who'd made it all the way to Antarctica in the eleventh century. The old man earns a Viking Funeral by helping defeat a monster that shrugged off Thor's strongest attacks.
    • Antarctica holds the Savage Land, a tropical jungle complete with dinosaurs, created (and sustained) by alien technology.
  • The Warlord (DC): There is an entrance to Skartaris, the Lost World of the series, in Antarctica near the South Pole.
  • In Watchmen Ozymandias' headquarters of Karnak is located here, complete with tropical vivarium. He takes advantage of the fact that Antarctica doesn't belong to any country to shelter three North Vietnamese men, who no longer have a country after Dr. Manhattan helped America win the Vietnam War.
  • Whiteout: Averted, as a murder mystery outside one of the research bases proves to be plenty to keep a U.S. Marshal occupied, no fantastical weirdness necessary. It's particularly noteworthy for how desolate and potentially lethal the setting is.

    Fan Works 
  • In Hatchling Quest, Antarctica became this after The Simurgh made her second appearance there and just vanished. Since then, any attempt to gather information about the continent has failed. Satellites show nothing, anyone sent there are never seen again, even capes with flight and teleportation powers vanish without a trace. We find out why this is in 15.16 the Space Pirates had a base there where they were studying Metroids!!! They somehow escaped, the base was abandoned, and the continent was quarantined.
  • In Vainglorious Antarctica is, unknown to modern humans, the site of several jotun colonies. This becomes relevant later in the story when the colonies sail up on glaciers to join forces with the invading jotun army.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien Hunter (2003): This is about Antarctic researchers, signals from outer space and a mysterious object that is found buried in the ice at a research base. If the object is opened and the creature inside awakes, it may lead to the annihilation of earth.
  • AVP: Alien vs. Predator: The alien site is buried under the ice of Bouvetøya Island.
  • Boa (AKA New Alcatraz) (2000): Construction workers digging an inescapable prison at the South Pole come across a giant prehistoric snake preserved in nitrogen.
  • Implied and invoked in Creepshow, with the segment "The Crate". A university janitor finds a forgotten, unopened crate brought back from a 19th century expedition to Antarctica, and what's inside is somehow still alive, and very hungry. The sequence is set entirely at the university campus and the surrounding town in what appears to be New England (knowing Stephen King, probably Maine), so we never actually see Antarctica in the film, but the story nonetheless relies on that continent's eerie connotations to build up a sense of the supernatural around the monster.
  • Deep Freeze (AKA Ice Crawlers) (2003): Scientists on an Antarctic ice shelf base with questionable activities are killed off one by one by a tentacled monster.
  • Encounters at the End of the World: This documentary feature talks about the history of exploration of Antarctica and how Antarctica was the last blank space on the map. Director/narrator Werner Herzog talks about how it's sad that after man made it to the South Pole, there were no more unknown spaces to explore.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): The Monsterverse version of King Ghidorah was found frozen solid in a state of hibernation beneath the Antarctic ice by Monarch. The Evil Plan of Alan Jonah and his eco-terrorists is to release him from his icy tomb, which they successfully do.
  • The Land Unknown (1957) has a US Navy helicopter crashing into a misty crater full of highly unconvincing dinosaurs.
  • Retrograde 2004: The action is based on a ship trapped in Antarctic sea ice. A team of genetically-altered time travelers come back to the present to try to prevent a future biological disaster. Two opposing time travelers fight it out amongst the ships' crew of polar scientists and researchers.
  • She (1935), although on the opposite Pole, is worth mentioning; it changes H. Rider Haggard's Lost World tale from Africa to the Arctic, at the time still mostly unknown and thus viewed like Darkest Africa.
  • The Thing (1982) is often considered the Antarctica horror movie, an adaptation of John W. Campbell's short story Who Goes There? (an earlier film adaptation was set in the North Pole). And it was embraced in a weird way: The Thing (and sometimes its prequel) is regularly viewed by members of the winter crew at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station after the last flight out, usually in a double-feature with The Shining.
  • In The X-Files: Fight the Future, Scully is abducted and taken to a giant UFO hidden under the ice of Antarctica.

  • In Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Nautilus travels under the Antarctic ice to find that it surrounds an ice free, southern ocean.
  • Antarctica by sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson. In this 20 Minutes into the Future world, secret communities in Antarctica are carrying out piracy and environmental terrorism in order to discourage mining and oil exploitation.
  • Antarctica Online by Vladimir Vasilyev and Aleksandr Gromov kicks off with the continent mysteriously swapping places with a number of islands in the Central Pacific. Interestingly, the authors are less concerned with the cause of the "jump" than the consequences, both ecological and political (mostly, the latter).
  • "Apartness" (1964), by Vernor Vinge. (His first sale!) Centuries after a nuclear war, an exploratory mission from the Sudamérican Empire discover a mysterious tribe living in squalor on the Antarctic coast. It turns out they are all that remained of two boatloads of white South Africans that fled their country when the war killed off their patrons in the northern hemisphere and the rebelling black majority literally drove them into the sea.
  • In David Weber's The Apocalypse Troll, the titular Troll (an alien-created, human-derived time-traveling cyborg killing machine) first lands in Antarctica. It starts a second Falklands War en route to its more permanent hiding place in the Southern USA.
  • The Babylon 5 Expanded Universe Psi Corps Trilogy of novels: Antarctica is where the Vorlons began their gene tampering on humans to produce telepaths, the targets being adventure tourists visiting an isolated part of the continent.
  • Stephen Baxter:
    • In Anti Ice, a Steampunk novel by Stephen Baxter, British Antarctic explorers discover a crashed meteorite full of a substance with properties similar to anti-matter.
    • Evolution: Baxter puts forth the theory that the dinosaurs on the continent (being already adapted for long periods of darkness without much food) survived the K-T extinction event and continued to evolve into cold-weather forms (Sabre-toothed Allosaurus? Awesome.) until the glaciers formed.
  • Greig Beck's Beneath The Dark Ice makes Antarctica the lost homeland of the cultures of the Americas, and goes one further by sticking a Lost World underneath that.
  • In Keith Laumer's novel The Breaking Earth an ancient pre-Ice Age civilization is discovered to have left its city and advanced technology behind in Antarctica.
  • Cthulhu Mythos:
    • At the Mountains of Madness: The titular undiscovered Antarctic mountain range (which dwarfs the Himalayas) is the location of the last city of the Elder Things (referred to in the novella as Old Ones, but generally known in Lovecraftian scholarship and fandom as Elder Things to prevent confusion with the Great Old Ones), a race of Starfish Aliens who fought against Cthulhu and His spawn, now abandoned and inhabited only by Shoggoths, the semi-sentient amorphous former servitors of the Elder Things who now mimic their former master's culture, even carving crude inscriptions after their style into the walls and parroting the voices of the Elder Things. There are also giant albino penguins there, and some other thing that is even worse. We never really find out what it is, but a brief glimpse at it severely shakes up the sanity of one of the explorers.
    • A Colder War, an Alternate History Cold War short story by Charles Stross, mentions that the United States lost the entire 501st Airborne Division on the plateau beyond Mt. Erebus. There's also a gateway to another planet beneath the ice of Lake Vostok. The plot centres around a Lensman Arms Race that started after the events of Mountains of Madness, including several shoggoth that the Soviet Union have gained sufficient control over to feel comfortable turning them loose against the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, in violation of an international treaty that even Those Wacky Nazis abided by. This ends about as well as you'd expect.
    • Cold Water Survival by Holly Phillips has a group of adventurers setting up a base on an iceberg that's split off from Antarctica; they realise that various Eldritch Abominations frozen in the ice are slowly thawing out as the berg travels into warmer regions.
    • The Crevasse by Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud has a 1920's expedition realise something is hiding in a nearby crevasse, but they aren't silly enough to hang around and find out, and afterwards refuse to acknowledge that what they saw was real.
    • According to The Cthulhu Wars by Kenneth Hite and Kennon Bauman, Operation Highjump was a reconnaissance-in-force of the Elder cities first uncovered by the Pabodie expedition. At the same time a smaller expedition was launched into Greenland (Operation Nanook) with the end game of securing the polar regions so that bases for research and surveillance of the Mythos threat could be constructed there.
  • Fingerprints Of The Gods theorizes that Antarctica was home to a super-advanced civilization, until the poles shifted and buried them in ice. (Your library might sort this book under non-fiction, but it definitely belongs here.) In Graham Hancock's defense, it's only really in the section about Antarctica where he goofed.
  • John Taine (Eric Temple Bell)'s The Greatest Adventure has the ruins of a lost supercivilization that created life... which backfired with a vengeance.
  • Halo: Ghosts of Onyx briefly mentions the Covenant digging in Antarctica, and there's only one reason the Covenant dig.
  • In René Barjavel's The Ice People a scientific expedition in Antarctica finds the ruins of an incredibly old unknown civilization and a vault with two Human Popsicles (a man and a woman). After reanimating the woman and managing to find a way to communicate with her, it turns that their incredibly advanced civilization collapsed after using a too efficient weapon of mass destruction against their enemies (who disappeared, too). The weapon was so powerful that it altered the Earth inclination, explaining why a whole civilization lived in an area which is now a frozen desert.
  • The report of an alien spacecraft discovered beneath Wilkes research station serves as the Macguffin for the various faction in the Matthew Reilly novel Ice Station to fight over.
  • The Land That Time Forgot: The tropical Lost World Caspak is located on a large island in the vicinity of Antarctica.
    • Also from Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Gods Of Mars takes us to the Valley Dor at the south pole of Mars, which is viewed very much this way by the rest of the planet - an unexplored region where people go when it's time for them to die, and from which no one may return. It turns out that they don't get to live out their final days in peace, however, but are instead either cannibalized or Made a Slave by one of two secret polar civilizations - the wicked First Born of Mars and the even worse Holy Therns. John Carter and Tars Tarkas must fight their way out, then convince their northern allies to mount an invasion to free all the enslaved people still down there. The next book in the series, The Warlord of Mars, features another uncharted region and undiscovered civilization at Mars' northern pole.
  • Look Into Monsters Eyes, being a Conspiracy Kitchen Sink, includes a flashback from Antarctica. Here, remnants of the Gestapo led by Baron von Sebottendorf established a facility called New Swabia near the end of WWII, and were later cut from communications, missing the news about Germany's surrender. This is discovered by the Allies' intelligence services, and they declare Operation Highjump (see below in 'Real Life' section), sending some American troops and Ian Fleming along them (he worked as an intelligence officer at the time). They're also joined by a disguised Nikolay Gumilev, under pseudonym James Bond (yeah), working for a Benevolent Conspiracy and chasing Sebottendorf. Turns out the location of the base was not random - it's one of the key nodes of portal/tunnel network that gave birth to Hollow Earth theories, and has access to the postwar bunker of one of the two reptilian Precursors (the other one is in the Arctic). Sebottendorf, being the only survivor of the race, made it as a second attempt on humanity, and was trying to open it with a Tetragrammaton (it works like a password). Also they had a thermic superweapon that made a new gulf in Ross Sea after being fired accidentally, and about half a dozen backup Hitlers.
  • In The Magicians, part of the students' education takes place at Brakebills South, in Antarctica, treated as a decidedly unearthly place where the bleakness of the landscape may induce Sanity Slippage. It's also a handy place to stash misbehaving professors.
  • The Monster From Earth's End by Murray Leinster. Made into a movie The Navy vs. The Night Monsters (1966). An airplane returns from Antarctica with plant samples, the pilot killing himself as soon as he lands. The plants soon grow into killer monsters.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and, as a fan-made sequel of sorts to Poe, Jules Verne's An Antarctic Mystery/The Sphinx of the Ice Fields
    • Poe's poem "Ulalume" mentions a volcano similar to Mount Erebus in Antarctica, except that it's on more or less the opposite end of the Earth: to fit the meter, Poe had to use the adjective boreal (northern), not austral (southern), when referring to the pole the volcano could be found near.
    • Poe's work also inspired James DeMille's A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder.
    • Satirical fantasy Pym by Mat Johnson is inspired by Poe’s novel, and follows a plot where the main character, professor Chris Jayes (and Arthur Gordon Pym) encounters and is enslaved by “Snow Honkies”— a giant, prehistoric species of human— that live in Antarctica.
  • In Andre Norton's novella "People of the Crater" and its sequel "Garan of Yu-Lac", Earth was colonized by a super-advanced civilization, the remnants of which still exist in Antarctica.
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner takes place largely in Antarctic seas shrouded in fog and haunted by spirits. Worth noting that Antarctica wouldn't even be confirmed to exist until some 22 years after the story was first published, and the predominant opinion at the time was that it did not, the two James Cook expeditions of the 1770s having gone as far south as to come within 75 miles of the continent before turning back from the relentless ice.
  • Simon Black in the Antarctic (1956) by Ivan Southall. The Australian Ace Pilot battles a lost tribe of cannibalistic Neanderthals.
  • James Rollins stuck a Lost World under volcanic Mount Erebus in Subterranean. Another one at a location called Hell's Cape appears in The Sixth Extinction.
  • Jean Johnson's Theirs Not to Reason Why has the time-traveling Immortal establish her Vault in Antarctica, so that the technology and information she needs eventually is both preserved and protected. Ia raids it for some technology she needs in the short term.
  • The Takers, a Two-Fisted Tales novel by Jerry Ahern, has an abandoned alien base with working UFO's under the Antarctic ice. It also contains the dead bodies of an earlier Nazi expedition seeking Atlantis — as it turns out, the base's defense system is also in full working order...
  • The White Darkness: She hears him before she gets there, but Sym survives in Antarctica with help from what's either a hallucination of a dead explorer in Spirit Advisor form, or the real thing.
  • Who Goes There?: An Antarctic expedition finds a crashed alien spacecraft with the cryogenically-preserved pilot, which turns out to be malign (and a Voluntary Shapeshifting variation on The Virus that, if it reaches civilization, could bring about The End of the World as We Know It).
  • Cityverse: Antarctica is home to a suspiciously friendly Eldritch Abomination.note 

    Live Action TV 
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Seeds of Doom", scientists found two pods there that turned humans into creatures that were like giant homicidal rotting broccoli stalks. The pods also made other plants turn against people.
    • Also, The First Doctor's last episode, "The Tenth Planet" (made when Pluto was still considered a planet) was set in Antarctica. The Cyberman weren't actually from there, but they had been found there.
  • The Michael Palin travelogue Pole to Pole ends here, of course.
  • In the Stargate-verse, the Earth's original Stargate (Not the one they've been using all along, that one was brought to Earth at the time of ancient Egypt) was found in Antarctica, and Atlantis also used to be 'parked' there — before the Ancients abandoned Earth, leaving behind an outpost with a superweapon. They also found a living Ancient Popsicle. It should be noted, though, that the Ancients were old enough that their settlement there actually predated the Antarctic's most recent freezing.
  • The Head: The summer relief team fly out to an Antarctica research station to find the entire winter team murdered or missing. It even includes a scene of the Winterers watching The Thing (1982), as per tradition, before everything goes to hell.
  • Walking with Dinosaurs had an episode, entitled "Spirits of the Ice Forest", on Antartica during the early Cretaceous. Though nowhere near as cold as it is now, Antarctica is portrayed as an eerie place full of Mysterious Mist and strange animals.

  • In Search of the Lost Cities of Antarctica by Bal-Sagoth
  • The Yes song "South Side of the Sky" might either be about a doomed climb up Mount Everest, or about an Antarctic expedition that ends in death, depending on different accounts.

  • Taken to absolutely chilling extremes in found-footage horror podcast The White Vault. A documentarian— compiling recordings, journal entries, videos, and other transmissions— spends the first two seasons of the podcast tracking the demise of a repair team sent to an Antarctic mining outpost. The team, originally there to address an equipment malfunction, soon discovers tunnels and a cave system beneath the ice leading to something ancient, inexplicable, utterly horrifying— and, unfortunately for them, very intelligent.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu, extrapolating on the aforementioned novella by Lovecraft, has a sprawling campaign called Beyond The Mountains Of Madness. Player characters return to the site of the original expedition to find out why there were only two survivors the first time around.
  • Being based heavily on 20s pulp fiction, Eberron has the Frostfell, a polar continent of ice that serves the exact same purpose.
  • In the EverQuest tabletop game, the Poles (both north and south) of the moon of Luclin are given the Antarctica treatment.
  • Antarctica is the home of Killer Penguins in GURPS Technomancer. And the Antarctic Space Nazis in Ken Hite's Suppressed Transmission for GURPS.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition sets an adventure here, clearly harking back to Lovecraft and Who Goes There. Possibly also a Shout-Out to the source of its name (see Real Life section below).
  • The New World of Darkness has a lodge of werewolves dedicated to making sure that something stays buried underneath Antarctica. At least... they were dedicated to that purpose. Then someone found a woman's face carved into the ice that started telling them how great they are for rescuing her and... well, they all went batshit and started worshipping it.
    • As the Contagion Chronicle reveals, it goes deeper than that—Antarctica is home to the Carriers, the most dangerous of the Contagious.
  • In the Old World of Darkness, there were several hints about a Vampire Antediluvian sleeping under Antarctica, with best bets being Malkav on his identity. Also (possibly connected, probably not), there are a number of strange, ancient and rather disturbing cities that only the Black Spiral Dancers (Wyrm worshiping werewolves) know about.
  • Pathfinder: The Antarkos Oceannote  is a mysterious and poorly explored stretch of iceberg-choked seas surrounding an enormous ice sheet. The waters teem with fish and krill, supporting large populations of primordial Sea Monsters, and the ocean's frigid waters are also home to city of stranded aquatic aliens and to marine giants who can psychically enslave other beings. In addition, there's something about the area that attracts vast numbers of incorporeal undead and animate dreams from every corner of the globe, making the southern ocean's waters, skies and ice haunted by wraiths, ghosts and specters of every sort.
  • In Scion, Antarctica is actually Atlantis. The Gods did not approve of the Atlanteans' wholesale Titan-worship and collectively destroyed it.
  • Not much is known about the Warhammer equivalent of Antarctica, only that the map says 'Here There Be Daemons'. According the fluff there's basically a portal to Hell there, spilling out The Legions of Hell... and there's nobody doing anything about it. Fortunately, they don't need to, as beastmen and daemons are good at slaughtering and killing but not very good at, say, building boats.
    • It's obliquely implied at several points in the backstory that the High Elves maintain a string of fortresses that watch over the choke points. (Contrariwise, the north pole has a full land connection to the mainland of the Warhammer world and can't be contained in this way.)

    Video Games 
  • Similar to the Operation Highjump conspiracy theory (see below), in Call of Duty: Black Ops a Russian special task force is assembled to take out the last vestiges of the Nazi regime in a secret polar base developing Nova 6 about a month after WW2 officially ended. It takes place in the Arctic Circle, but its similarity to the conspiracy theory is probably not a coincidence.
  • The final Allied mission in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge is to destroy Yuri's final Psychic Dominator, which has been hidden in Antarctica.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, Nirn's version is Atmora, the northernmost continent. In ancient times, it was home to the Atmorans, an ancient race of men with Barbarian Tribe and proto-Horny Vikings traits. Thousands of years prior to when the games in the main series take place, Atmora experienced the "Frost Fall", a mysterious gradual cooling of Atmora which quickly rendered it uninhabitable to intelligent life. Most of the Atmorans migrated south to northern Tamriel, settling in modern day Skyrim and interbreeding with Tamriel's native Nedic humans to create the modern Nords (and possibly all races of Men save the Redguards, though sources greatly conflict and are heavily biased). Reports from the 2nd and 3rd Eras indicate that Atmora is now completely frozen over, with no sign of intelligent life.
  • The world of Golden Sun features the continent of Tundaria as its analogue for Antarctica. The continent is entirely featureless except for a single tower containing a fragment of an ancient, demigod-killing weapon.
  • The Penumbra series is a well done pastiche of various Mysterious Antarctica sci-fi horror stories, set in the modern day. It takes place in northern Greenland though.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, is set in the Schwarzwelt, another dimension filled with demons, accessed from Antarctica. The Schwarzwelt was originally one meter in diameter, but is slowly growing and will eventually engulf the Earth.
  • In Star Control 2, it is mentioned that when the Ur-Quan blasted all ancient human historical sites from space, Antarctica was one location they targeted. No one knows why.
  • Tomb Raider III's Excuse Plot revolves around four mysterious artifacts made out of a meteor that crashed into Antarctica, the work of an ancient civilization. The game begins with Dr. Willard's research team discovering maori statues in Antarctica. Eventually we learn that Charles Darwin's voyage uncovered a cave where the meteor itself was held, and that an ancient civilization used the meteor's mysterious power to craft artifacts that caused dramatic mutations. The recovered artifacts were lost by Darwin's associates; one remained in a temple on a South Pacific island where the descendants of the Antarctic civilization ended up. During the game's final levels, after Lara has collected all of the artifacts, she heads to Antarctica. She fights her way through Dr. Willard's camp and into a research station, following it into a mining operation overrun by mutants created out of Willard's employees by the meteor. Eventually, she discovers the lost city of Tinnos, a massive underground archaeological site populated by Willard's mutants and giant insects.

     Web Original 
  • In Fine Structure, the Antarctica Dome contains the machinery for calculating the Solution and the machinery for causing multiple Class 2 extinction events.
  • The affront to conventional morality that is the Tsalal of Green Antarctica, where due to tiny population numbers and incredibly low survivability, incest and cannibalism are commonly practiced.
  • The SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-1483, a portal to an alternate universe's Antarctic civilization.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles never featured Antarctica, but Greg Weisman's long-term plans would have had King Arthur found New Camelot there, with its own gargoyle clan, and the "Master Matrix" (presumably somehow related to the Grey Goo entity seen in "Walkabout") making it livable.
  • The Smurfs Season 9 episode "No Reflection On Vanity" takes place there.

    Real Life 
  • Many popular "alternate history" interpretations of human's prehistory suggest that Antarctica was the location of Atlantis and that, rather than sinking beneath the ocean, it was covered in ice and drifted south.
    • Another theory that at least makes somewhat more sense is that the Earth's crust suddenly shifted, bringing Antarctica from the equator to the South pole. (While this is based on current understandings of continental drift, Antarctica stopped being temperate long before there were humans or even pre-humans to colonize it.)
    • Many other esoteric theories (especially those related to theosophy) postulate that Antarctica was the home of a civilization which preceded Atlantis. Many prominent Nazis wanted to find evidences of this Hyperboreannote  civilization.
      • Russian fascist conspiracy theorist Alexander Dugin believes that the Hyperborean civilization located in Antarctica were the mortal enemies of Atlantis.
  • A common conspiracy theory is that many of the remaining Nazis ran to a base in Antarctica after the Second World War, where they built UFOs and escaped to the Moon/discovered a hollow earth/did something else.
    • Some basis in Real Life - Nazi Germany claimed Antarctic territory before the war, which has never actually been contested by anyone. Its main purpose was to produce fat from raw materials such as whale oil and to prevent having to rely on fat imports from Norway. However, nobody else recognized the claim so it's not considered to still belong to a state with no population. The flags are still there, though.
    • Conspiracy Theorists maintain that Operation Highjump — a scientific expedition to Antarctica in 1946 with a suspiciously-large military component — was actually the last shots of World War II as the allies flushed out the secret Antarctic Nazi military bases and superweapons.
  • In the 19th Century Symmes Holes leading to a Hollow Earth were supposed to exit at the North and South Poles.
    • The antarctic atlantis, secret nazi base conspiracy theories and hollow earth entrance theories were combined by Miguel Serrano, to form an occult sect based on Hitler's resurrection.
  • The Vela Incident. In 1979 a satellite detected a double-flash of light which some speculated was an unauthorised nuclear test near Bouvet Island, inspiring a couple of novels, and perhaps the choice of location for AVP: Alien vs. Predator.
  • Antarctica in its prehistory was actually quite the strange place. It was lumped with Australia to form Gondwana and boasted some truly unique forms of prehistoric life. In some ways, it was akin to a real-life Lost World, as differences in climate and evolving in isolation to the rest of the world allowed for creatures to exist whose families were very rare or extinct elsewhere. For instance, Temnospondyls lived in Southern Australia and Antarctica, where the cold climate kept them safe from crocodiles, which had driven the rest of their group into extinction virtually everywhere else in the world. The last remnants survived into the Early Cretaceous, when nearly everywhere else they had been extinct since the late Triassic.
  • The Flat Earth Society, built around the idea that the Earth is a flat disc with the North Pole in the center, imagines Antartica as a giant ring of ice that runs along the rim of Earth and prevents the oceans from flowing out into the endless void outside.
  • In medieval and early modern times, it was assumed there must be a vast mysterious southern continent — "Terra Australis Incognita", the Unknown Southern Land — in the southern hemisphere to 'balance' the land masses of the northern hemisphere. The 'Counterweight Continent' idea in Discworld is a reference to this. Various voyages of exploration in the enlightened eighteenth century proved that there was no such huge continent, and thus maps took it off and left a blank space at the South Pole. And then in the romantic nineteenth century Antarctica was discovered, and all the old ideas of a mysterious land were revived. Though, it was "Terra Australis" which gave Australia its name, as in the very early 19th century, it was considered to be the closest continent to the concept.
  • The worst plane crash in Australasian history took place in 1979 when Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed into Mount Erebus on a sightseeing flight due to a navigational error, killing all 257 on board the DC-10. Much of the wreckage still lies on the mountain to this day. Due to a trick of the Antarctic lightnote  they hit an invisible mountain.
  • Julia, an unidentified sound of... something.note