The presence of Mysterious Mist is a sign that there is something magical or supernatural about a certain place at that time. The mist itself is neutral, with the type of magical or supernatural event swinging it one way or the other.
It comes in a couple of forms. Most common, is mist appearing with or preceding some form of magical or supernatural event. This is frequently the opening of a portal or gateway between our world and another, with or without the appearance of a being of that world. In this case, the mist is most often merely a by-product of the magic used.
The mist can also come permanently attached to a location, regardless of the surrounding weather. Usually hiding a location that is magical itself and/or contains something magical. Valleys, islands, ancient forests, magical villages/cities and combined places of magic/worship are all particularly susceptible to this. This mist frequently has unnaturally straight edges.
Sometimes, rather than being influenced by magic, it is naturally occurring mist that is emphasised to add to the atmosphere of a scene. It is not connected to magic itself, but tells the viewer (and the occasional Genre Savvy character) that it is a suitable time and location for something supernatural or mystical is about to occur. This is most frequently found in locations such as graveyards. On rare occasions, this type of mist will apply even if there is no actual magic or supernatural events involved; in this case it will be as though magic were used (ie. The Cavalry galloping out of the mist at the crucial moment).
The Mist is often also referred to as fog, vapour or even cloud. The disappearance of any Mysterious Mist can be just as important as its presence, particularly if it is fixed to a location;this shows that whatever made the location mysterious and magical has now been removed or revealed.
Compare Empathic Environment, and the more sinister version of Mist Ominous Fog; also Smoke Out. Contrast Fog of Doom where the fog itself is actively dangerous, and Super Smoke. May be used to provide Fog of War. When in England or London, see A Foggy Day in London Town.
- The Secret of Kells gives a nod to Irish mythology by having the forest fill with mist when the fairy Aisling makes her first appearance. The mist dissipates as she becomes more friendly towards Brendan.
- Haunting Christmas Tales: In short story The Woodman's Enigma, a thin mist, seen to weave its way between the trees of a spinney, is suspected to be the ghost of the titular woodman.
- Strange mists come out every night without fail. At first glance they appear similar to mundane mist, but weather and temperature have no effect on them, and they won't enter buildings under any circumstances. The skaa believe that the mists steal souls, which is why the nobles don't need to guard them—no skaa will ever go out at night. The nobles themselves believe that the mists have some connection to Allomancy, the rare magical power they sometimes possess, but even then most nobles are disturbed by the mists. Kelsier insists that the mists defend the righteous, and declares himself "Lord of the Mists" to enhance his reputation. When he dies, this reputation helps the skaa brave the mists for the rebellion.
- In the second book, the mists start getting stronger, lasting longer and longer throughout the day, and even attacking people. The heroes realize that this is the "Deepness" that the Lord Ruler claimed to have defeated a thousand years ago. The attacks are by far the least dangerous effect; growing food in the World of Ash is already difficult, and with the mists blocking out the sun for longer and longer, it will eventually become impossible.
- In the third book, it is revealed that the mists are actually a manifestation of the power of Preservation, one of the two Shards on the planet. They were attacking people to force them to Snap, awakening their allomantic power. Ruin, the other Shard, enhanced them to block out the sun as part of his plan to free himself and destroy the world.
- The titular area of Deathmoor is constantly surrounded by mists and fogs, created by the resident Swamp Ghosts in order to mislead adventurers.
- In Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda the clearing fills with mist at the end of "The Forests of Silence" when the Topaz summons the spirit of Jasmine's dead mother.
- Also, the mist hiding the Valley of the Lost. At the end of the 7th book it vanishes, showing that they have the diamond and the spells on the Guardian and the Torans are lifted.
- The top of the Mountain in Rowan of Rin where the dragon lives is perpetually hidden in cloud regardless of the general weather.
- Darkfall from The Legendsong Saga by Isobelle Carmody is the home of the future-telling soulweavers, and is actually called the Misty Isle.
- Ruidean in The Wheel of Time is an ancient city shrouded by fog in the middle of a desert. Aiel who wish to become clan chiefs or Wise Ones must enter the city to learn the confronting truth of their race's past; not all survive. The mist is dispersed during Rand's battle with Asmodean just after Rand reveals the truth to almost the entire Aiel population. The mist vanishing symbolises the loss of secrecy.
- Also, mist appears when the Heroes are summoned with the Horn of Valere.
- Finally, there's the evil mist of Mashadar, which can form tendrils to attack people. In its strongest form, it absorbs the soul of any creature that enters it, controlling their body as a puppet.
- Daughter of the Forest uses mist when Sorcha's brothers are turned into swans. The mist is naturally occurring, but the description links it to their ritual and later Oonagh disguised as the magical Lady of the Forest appears out of it
- In Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness Alanna is riding though rising fog at night when the Goddess appears for a chat.
- Black London has fog that shows up right before mystical/supernatural events are afoot.
- In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader the Isle Where Dreams Come True is surrounded by a mist. Merges with Ominous Fog.
- Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence novel The Grey King uses mist a lot — it's referred to as the breath of the titular Grey King, hides his supernatural wolves in it and the King can summon mists at will.
- Michael Moorcock's Second Books of Corum novel The Bull And The Spear invoke the feth fiada during the attacks of the Fhoi Myore, a group of evil giants who've brought magical winter to the land. Freezing mist would always precede their coming and accompany their attacks.
- In Goblet of Fire, one of the obstacles in the maze for the final Triwizard task is a golden mist. When you step into it, you halluncinate that you've turned upside-down and are standing on the sky. Harry is afraid that if he moves a foot he'll plummet head-first to the ground thousands on feet below.
- One of the signs of a ghostly presence in Lockwood & Co..
- In Shaman Blues, the mists hide the power-spiral which turns ghosts into abominations.
- In The Girl from the Miracles District, the cursed bridge that drives people to commit suicide is perpetually covered with mist.
- Under the Pendulum Sun: The "uncultivated" regions of the Land of Faerie are blanketed in mist that responds to the mortal subconscious, conjuring up barely-substantial people, scenery, and whatever else they might literally dream up.
Cathy: But what is it out there when- when it's not mist?
Laon: Dreams. Thoughts. Things our minds give shape to.
- Orphan Island: There's a mist surrounding the island that obscures the view of the world beyond.
- In Black Dawn, during Maggie's dream where she first encounters Delos despite never having met him before, the area is filled with white mist, which is an indicator this isn't an ordinary dream.
- Goblins in the Castle: The North Tower of Toad-in-a-Cage Castle is enveloped in mist, signifying the spell that keeps the spirits of the goblins trapped there. The first time William sees the outside of the Tower after the goblins are freed, the mist is gone.
- Doctor Who:
- Mistfall is a time of fear and hiding for the Terradonians marooned on Alzarius in "Full Circle". It's when the dreaded Marshmen appear and roam the forests and all of the Terradonians retreat and seal themselves inside their crashed starliner.
- In "The Curse of Fenric", mist on the sea presages attacks and the arising of the Haemovores: the Vikings whom the curse followed from the Holy Land were terrified of a Black Mist that followed their longship all the way to Northumbria.
- In the BBC's production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes, Watson and Lestrade are waiting for the titular hound to be released when a fog rises, obscuring their vision of the area. The mist is natural (the story does take place in England), but since the creature they're waiting for has a long and mysterious past associated with it, the mist not only presents a practical problem, it also adds to the tension of the moment. This is also the first time the creature will be clearly seen (an earlier appearance engineered by the villain was very brief and intended to instil fear in the viewers), so the impending revelation adds to the emotional weight of the moment.
- Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "In Throes of Increasing Wonder...", after Lestat de Lioncourt is struck by Cupid's arrow when he first beholds Louis de Pointe du Lac, a mist abruptly appears behind him with an audible whooshing sound. This shot is imbued with a mildly ominous atmosphere, and it imparts to viewers (especially those who aren't familiar with either the source material or the 1994 movie) that this Mysterious Stranger (Lestat's identity isn't spelled out in this scene) isn't human and is dangerous.
- In episode 4 of MythQuest, the Lady of the Lake causes these when she appears near the surface or on land.
- In the Sherlock version of "The Hounds of Baskerville", the mists swirling around the moors turn out to be the actual threat; an aerosol hallucinogen that made Harry Knight believe he saw a spectral hound.
- In Classical Mythology, the gods can create a mist to hide themselves and others, usually for the purpose of rescuing a wounded soldier. This is called 'nephilistic rescue'.
- Irish Mythology knows of the féth fíada, the fairy mist (also known as ceo druidechta, druid mist). Supposedly, the féth fíada was used by the Tuatha Dé Danann to conceal themselves from observers; they also could travel in this mist — even over the sea. In stories set in later times, druids and even Christian saints are reported to make themselves invisible with magic mist.
- In Hoyle's Rules of Dragon Poker, when there's fog outside, all cards are hole cards and the first two rounds of betting are done blind.
- Ravenloft takes this trope and turns it into a fundamental part of the world. The Mists of the setting is a supernatural force controlled by the Dark Powers (or maybe are them) that can rip creatures, items or even entire nations from the prime material plane and take them into the mist, where they form supernatural Domains of Dread. Entering the mist is (usually) not dangerous in itself, but unless you have a Vistana's power to traverse it, there's no knowing where you might end up.
- In The Curse of Monkey Island, one island is wreathed in spooky mist. The Lost Welshman has been, well, lost in it for years, and you need to find him to get the way to the next island.
- In Escape from Monkey Island, there is the Mists of Time Marsh, plunging into which gets you displaced in time as well as space.
- In the Visual Novel/RPG hybrid Cursed Lands a creeping mist is spreading from the sinister Castle of N'Mar and blighting the surrounding landscape as part of a vampiric plot against the Human Empire.
- There are several places in the Pokémon games that have this. You're completely lost in it if you don't bring a Pokemon that knows Defog with you. One place that particularly fits this trope is a tower in Platinum. It's a burial place for departed Pokémon, and the upper levels are shrouded in mist.
- The move Misty Terrain, introduced in X and Y is a Fairy-type move invoking this trope. It prevents status conditions, such as sleep, poison, etc., on all grounded Pokémon and halves the power of Dragon-type moves from grounded Pokémon.
- In Sunless Skies, Worlebury-juxta-Mare is surrounded for miles by thick banks of cloud. You might be able to convince yourself it's sea fog, what with the creak of boats and seagulls on the wind. Anything which might suddenly appear and glare at you is probably just your imagination.
- Golden Sun: The island of Lemuria is surrounded by eternal mists and whirlpools that prevent access.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Not really mist, but... at one point, you need to acquire a particular smell before heading into a blinding snowstorm. If you go in without knowing the smell, you are returned at the very edge, implying you lost your way. The Faron Woods also have an evil purple fog falling on it that damages you, forcing you to use items and magic to either dispel or go above it.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The Lost Woods are covered in a thick mist that makes it hard to tell where to go. If you go too far off the correct path, Link will be totally enveloped in the mist and be sent back to the starting point.
- Persona 4: The world inside the TV is filled with fog, and on foggy days, mysterious events happen. it's explained as the fog from inside the tv world seeping out into reality
- Silent Hill: All of the towns are enveloped with thick fog. It's not certain if said fog does anything, but given that it's, well, Silent Hill... the mist originates as a practical solution to a hardware problem in the first game; the original PlayStation didn't have the power to adequately render a whole town, so the developers filled it with mist to facilitate this. The effect proved so chilling that it was maintained even when more powerful systems became available.
- Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy IV, the village of Mist is in the Misty Valley and is home to summoners that can call magical beasts. It's implied the presence of mist in the valley and the cave leading to the rest of the world are spawned by the Mist Dragon the summoners have called to guard them.
- Final Fantasy IX, lower parts of the Mist Continent are covered in mist that spawns monsters and are known to increase aggression in other beings. It's discovered early in the game that the Black Mages are beings manufactured using mist, and later on it turns out mist is the by-product of the Iifa Tree removing Gaia's souls from its cycle of souls and replacing them with Terran souls.
- Final Fantasy XII: There's the mist which while invisibly around everywhere pools and is visible in more magical areas. This mist is also magically charged, creating a type of Background Magic Field.
- Granblue Fantasy has Tramont island, though that name was forgotten long ago, and it is only referred to as the mist-shrouded island by the time the game takes place. It has a small village that is populated by zombies who are kept from dying or leaving by the same supernatural entity that also brought the fog. When the entity is defeated, the fog clears, although it is later shown to re-appear periodically. This hints that the island may have retained a subtle connection to the Otherworld.
- World of Warcraft has the Mists of Pandaria, which hid Pandaria from the rest of the world for 10000 years - only the sea turtles were able to find their way through. The mists disappear when the Horde & Alliance appear to shake things up.
- League of Legends features the Black Mist from the Shadow Isles. Originally when the lands were the flourishing Blessed Isles, a regular magic mist was formed by its denizens to hide them from the rest of the world, but after a magic disaster corrupted the lands, the Mist became a vessel of undead, tortured souls, constantly searching for more to include among them.
- Tlf Travel Alerts: Delays on the Victoria Line are because of the Creeping Sleep Fog or the Dust Cloud of Malfeasance. Please allow additional time for journeys.
- A possible variation in the short-lived animated series Father of the Pride: Sigfried and Roy, who are extremely talented showmen and are capable of using actual magic, use mist from a (sometimes) undetermined source to initiate a dynamic introduction. This mist is usually followed by casual conversations with the humans in the room at the time, and (occasionally) accompanied by a tiny magic trick just to show off or demonstrate the point they were trying to make. On a more straightforward example, one episode had two up-and-coming stage magicians propositioned to be the duo's rivals, and, quite possibly, replacements. One of their advertisements showed them dressed in scarlet-red robes, chanting a spell while standing around a giant spherical object. While this is happening, mist has begun to envelop the stage they are performing on.