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Subterranean Index

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A list of tropes pertaining to subterranean locations, the things found therein and stories set in underground places.

Compare Underwater Index and Index in the Sky.

Despite the names, Noob Cave (the earliest, easiest level in a game) and Platonic Cave (named for Plato's allegory likening a deceptive artificial controlled "world" to being trapped in a cave) are not examples.


  • Abandoned Mine: Abandoned mineshafts and mining complexes used as unnerving and foreboding locations, concealing unpleasant things in their shadows.
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  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Strangely roomy, extensive, traversable and well-lit sewer systems.
  • Ancient Tomb: Often found underground.
  • Beware the Skull Base: Giant skulls acting as dungeons or fortresses.
  • Beneath the Earth: Vast and complex underworlds abound in fictional settings.
  • Buried Alive: Being sealed underground while still alive.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: A cave whose entrance is hidden by a waterfall.
  • Cave Mouth: A cave whose entrance looks like a mouth.
  • Claustrophobia: Caves often prompt feelings of being trapped.
  • Creepy Basement: Rooms underground are dank and frightening.
  • Creepy Cave: Natural caves are scary and dangerous.
  • Crystal Landscape: Often found in caves.
  • Dig Attack: Attacking an enemy by burrowing underneath them.
  • Digging to China: Digging through the Earth to emerge at another point on its surface.
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  • Down the Drain: A level that takes place inside a sewer or other pipe system.
  • Drill Tank: A weaponized vehicle that drills its way through the earth.
  • Dug Too Deep: People who dig too deep into the earth risk encountering dangerous things indeed, deep underground.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Villains often set up shop in complex and high-tech bases hidden underground.
  • Fast Tunnelling: Characters who can dig unnaturally fast, or just unrealistically so.
  • Funny Terrain Cross Section: Cross-sections of the soil showing all sorts of wacky and humorous things buried in the earth.
  • Minecart Madness: Mine level in videogames using the minecarts and their tracks as transportation.
  • Mole Miner: Funny Animal moles portrayed as miners.
  • Mole Men: An underground civilization of vaguely humanoid creatures.
  • Mole Monster: A videogame enemy that burrows underground, emerging only to attack.
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  • Mystical Cave: A cave with magical or spiritual qualities.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Stereotypical dwarves live in underground halls mining the earth.
  • Planetary Core Manipulation: Adjusting or draining the core of a planet.
  • Rollercoaster Mine: Out of control minecarts on elaborate underground tracks.
  • Sand Worm: Enormous, wormlike beasts that tunnel unseen underground to attack prey walking above.
  • Secret Underground Passage: A subterranean passageway that acts as a way to get from point A to point B without being detected.
  • Sinister Subway: Subways used as spooky or sinister settings.
  • Stalactite Spite: Falling stalactites.
  • Subways Suck: Subways are more trouble than they're worth.
  • Thrown Down a Well: Imprisoning someone someplace they cannot escape from, generally a pit like an oubliette.
  • Time Capsule: A buried capsule with a record for those who dig it up.
  • Tunnel King: A character who specializes in digging and/or inhabiting tunnels and mines.
  • Tunnel Network: A complex system of tunnels allowing for stealthy or sheltered movement below the surface.
  • Under City: A city that used to be on the surface, but is now deep underground.
  • Underground City: Inhabited, full-scale cities beneath the earth.
  • Underground Level: Videogame levels set underground and inhabited by cave- or ground-themed enemies.
  • Volcano Lair: A secret base inside a volcano.
  • A Way Out of a Cave-In: The heroes seem trapped underground, but then they notice the telltale sign of a way out.