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The Underworld

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The realm of Hades. Kratos comes here a lot.

"Everyone goes to Hell. Everyone."
Danny Estacado, The Darkness

The Underworld is often a gloomy, depressing realm, if only because it is often depicted as being Beneath the Earth. (The fact that people go there after they die might have something to do with it, too.) Still, it isn't evil. It's not Hell. All of the dead come here, whether they were saints, total jackasses, or just kinda so-so in life. Some versions of the Underworld judge the dead and grant them different living standards (or unliving standards, if you prefer) depending on their conduct in life. In others, there's no real judgment, and life—or whatever—continues much as it did before. Possibly they receive, in due course, a chance to go back.

See also Heaven and Hell, the Underworld's more exclusive counterparts. Despite its normally neutral nature, the Underworld, especially the Greek Mythology version, is susceptible to being Hijacked by Jesus and becoming Hell. Expect intrepid mortals to mount an Orphean Rescue for a loved one. See also Afterlife Antechamber, which is a waiting room or brief rest stop on the way to the true afterlife. Compare and contrast Mundane Afterlife. If you were looking for the criminal “underworld”, try The Mafia.


Not so present in movies.

If you were looking for the band, it is at a different realm.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Berserk, all human characters who perish in the series (Apostles especially) end up being sent to the Abyss, a realm consisting of only nightmarish forms and a swirling ocean of writhing souls known as both Heaven and Hell. Given what generally happens to people there, most readers would describe the place as Hell.
  • In Death Note, Ryuk informs Light that anyone who uses a Death Note can neither go to Heaven nor to Hell, but rather to a place called "Mu," or "nothingness." Eventually, Light figures out that this applies to everyone, whether they have used a Death Note or have never even seen one. The original series implies that this entails Cessation of Existence, but the prequel novel Another Note, the narrator Mello hints that Mu may actually more of a Mundane Afterlife or simply a generic world of the dead.

  • Rowan Atkinson had a sketch where he plays the Devil welcoming a batch of new arrivals to Hell, separating them by nationality, sin and religion. Turns out everyone but the Jews goes there.

    Comic Books 
  • The Darkness. According to Danny Estacado, a previous host of the Darkness Entity, and Nick (who is actually the true Devil that religious stories of Lucifer and The Devil are all based on) that all souls - whether they were good or evil in life - eventually fall into Hell. A rather disheartening side note is that there actually is a Heaven in the series but no human soul has ever been seen to enter it due to the fact only "beings of light" are allowed entrance.
  • The Avatar published Lady Death comics took place in the Labyrinth, a dark domain in the afterlife inhabited by demons or humans from the living world that were sentenced there. It wasn't necessarily considered a Hell or a place of torment, though it was populated by many monstrous beings.
  • Starting in Wonder Woman Vol 2 Themyscira holds and guards Doom's Doorway, which leads to the dangerous outer reaches of the Underworld full of monstrous creatures seeking to escape to earth. If one manages to pass through far enough to reach Hades itself Elysium is also contained within so there are some nice places there as well, just not anywhere near the door.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Beetlejuice has the Neitherworld, which is pretty much the Underworld, with a Waiting Room From Hell.
  • The Necromongers in The Chronicles of Riddick speak of their promised land as "the underverse", an alternate plane where the dead go, and which has been visited by every Lord Marshal to have ruled their empire, gaining magical abilities because of it.
  • In Black Orpheus, a symbolic retelling of the Orpheus myth in 20th century Brazil, Orfeo is taken to a strange place where a pagan ceremony is taken place. He hears Eurydice's voice, and just as in the myth, he loses her forever when he turns to look.
  • In The Scorpion King II: Rise of a Warrior, the heroes visit the Underworld to steal a sword required to defeat the Big Bad. It's depicted as a great white desert that soon sprouts spikes from the ground becoming a dark swamp filled with tormented corpses and cursed souls. They also have an hour left to complete their mission or else they are turned into stone.

  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian franchise:
    • During "The Phoenix on the Sword", Conan describes his people's gods: "Their gods are Crom and his dark race, who rule over a sunless place of everlasting mist, which is the world of the dead."
    • In "The Slithering Shadow", Natala is convinced that she and Conan have died, so strange is the city they find themselves in.
  • In Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea, the Underworld is characterized by strange stars and total lack of water. Late in the series, it's revealed that it's the result of a botched attempt at Immortality.
  • In His Dark Materials, God is a pretender who created an afterlife of near non-existence, where no one was happy; murderers and saints and poets and beggars all went to the same miserable, grey place.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians uses the underworld several times, although the movie interpretation is exclusively a Fire and Brimstone Hell.
  • In Riverworld, there are two afterlives: one for children who die before the age of five, and the Riverworld itself for those who die at an age where they'll be able to care for themselves once they're resurrected.
  • In The Salvation War, God had already accepted his most blindly devoted worshippers (historically maybe 10% of the population) and closed the gates of Heaven. This action had the effect of ensuring that everyone else (faithful or not) would burn in Fire and Brimstone Hell after death. When humanity finds out, they decide to fight back.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In MythQuest, Alex walks into Hades to retrieve Euridice
  • In Once Upon a Time the Underworld is a sort of Mundane Afterlife where the recently dead go to sort out their unfinished business before passing on to their final destination, and it's ruled by Hades, who doesn't like his subjects leaving.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Greek Mythology, the Underworld is Hades, the realm of the god of the same name. Depending on their conduct in life, the dead can end up in the Elysian Fields, which are basically paradise, in the Fields of Asphodel, where they just sort of...hang out, or in Tartarus, whose inmates are tortured for all eternity for crimes against the gods.
  • In Japanese Mythology, Izanagi, the father of the gods, went to the underworld to recover his wife, Izanami, after she died, but ran in terror from her when he saw she was now a rotting undead. Bizarrely, his son, the god Susano-o, on finding out his mother was there, just went to the underworld to live with her like nothing was wrong!
  • In Mesopotamian Mythology, the dead go to Irkalla, ruled by Ishtar's Darker and Edgier twin sister Ereshkigal. Ishtar tries to take over. She isn't successful, and in fact loses her beloved husband Dumuzi for six months out of the year. Sort of karmic payment for stealing Ereshkigal's husband and getting him killed.
  • In the Book of Genesis, everyone expects to "go down to Sheol" after death. The phrase suggests that Sheol is conceived of as The Nothing After Death instead of some sort of paradise or punishment.
  • In Norse Mythology, you have Hel, which like Hades is the realm of a goddess sharing its name. There is also Niflhel (Misty Hel), where the dead go when they die. Apparently that which is dead may die again.
  • See the other wiki if you are interested in many more assorted examples (one can't choose one's afterlife carefully enough).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted's Underworld didn't exist until the titular Exalted Divided By Zero by killing the creators of the universe, who had never designed the world with mechanisms to cope with their deaths. The result was a gaping hole in existence, the Well of Oblivion, around which the remnants of the dead Primordials, the Neverborn, gathered, and a shadowy reflection of the living world formed.
  • The Underworld in the New World of Darkness is where ghosts who lose all their anchors to the living world end up. It's divided into the Autochthonous Depths, a massive underground labyrinth that bears a vague resemblance to the underworld myths of the nearest living civilization, and the Lower Mysteries, which are alien realms governed by strange laws enforced by the Kerberoi.
    • The Old World of Darkness, on the other hand, has the Dark Umbra, the place where wraiths materialize. It's split into layers; the Shadowlands, which mirror the living world, are at the top, while beneath them are a number of firmaments known as the Dark Kingdoms (America and Europe play host to the Dark Kingdom of Stygia) and an everswirling storm of unsettled spaces known as the Tempest. Below the Tempest lies the Labyrinth, which is not a nice place.
  • In Scion, the prison of the Titans drew the souls of the dead to it. When the gods noticed this - and that the dead still held a good measure of their humanity - each pantheon created an Underworld where the dead could go; as a consequence, most every mythological Underworld exists somewhere in Scion. However, the Titans' escape from their prison has caused upheaval across the various Underworlds.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a very classically-inspired variant in the "Theros" block, where the realm of Erebos functions as this in a manner similar to that of Hades, right down to being named after the god who rules it. All mortal souls on Theros go here after death, and coinage minted from clay burial masks is the local currency. Interestingly, there is a way for the dead to return to the land of the living— by forging a golden mask to wear in order to escape Erebos. Sadly, the act of forging this mask and returning to the mortal world also removes the memories of the would-be fugitive, turning them into a shambling zombie known as a Returned.
  • In the Eberron setting of Dungeons & Dragons, the souls of the dead go to the grey wasteland of Dolurrh, where the pervasive hopeless apathy of the realm causes them to fade into Shades. The world's primary religion accepts this as the natural order of things, although others, like the Church of the Silver Flame, promise deliverance from Dolurrh to the faithful.
  • In Pathfinder, the Boneyard serves this role, though unlike most examples it's usually a temporary measure. It's a True Neutral realm that takes all souls after death before judging them and assigning them to their proper afterlives. Souls who are themselves True Neutral remain there forever, while other choose to flee and hide within the realm rather than submit to judgement.

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Fusion Revival has Di Yu, a world named after the Chinese hell. Many enemies found there are either undead or demonic.
  • Mushroom Kingdom Fusion also has the Demon Realm, with levels based on Castlevania and DOOM among other things.
  • In the Fall from Heaven backstory, most souls go to an underworld-like place when dead.
  • Due to the main setting being in the sky, the surface world, known as the Crimson Horizon in Granblue Fantasy, serves as this. Nobody knows what it's actually like down there since flight technology stops working after a certain altitude, and some say that it's the land of the dead. What is known however is that there are demons down there, who occasionally attempt to invade the sky world.
  • The underworld map in the Fantasy game of Civilization 2: Test of Time.
  • The Underwhere of Super Paper Mario is pretty much one big Expy of the underworld from Greek Mythology. It's populated by creatures called Shaydes (Shades) who lament about how their "games were ended" and ruled by Queen Jaydes (Hades), who acts as a judge for the Shaydes. Other characters include a ferryman named Charold (Charon) who provides you safe passage across the River Twygz (River Styx), a three-headed Chain Chomp named Underchomp (Cerberus) that guards the entrance to the Overthere (Elysium), and three old hags (Fates) who live on the Underwhere Road (Tartarus).
  • The protagonist of Terranigma actually starts in the Underworld.
  • A typical feature of the God of War series, though its appearance varies between games. In the first game, all that is seen is a river of blood and several pillars made of bones, with rotating bridges with blades on them that are implied to be made of flesh. The second game does away with the gore-related aspects, though it still looks distinctly hellish. The third game, however, has a depiction that is significantly more faithful to the Underworld of Greek Mythology, with only the part of Tartarus actually looking like Hell. Kratos regularly comes down here and manages to escape in some form or another, though in earlier cases he required help of some kind.
  • The Netherworld in Romancing SaGa. It also has Purgatory, a realm for those who choose to retain their memories of life until they abandon them and become reincarnated.
  • The underworld is one of many Netherworlds in The Multiverse of Makai Kingdom, and is implied to be the resting place of people too vile to even qualify as prinnies. It is ruled by Seedle, a former samurai who murdered his way to the top after being sent there.
  • In Lost Eden, The Valley of Mists is this for the dinosaurs, and is accessible by humans only by eating the Root of Ages. It's also where you learn the secret of the strange tablets you've been collecting throughout the entire game.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: The Dimension of Death. Implied to be a temporary holding place for souls.
  • According to Shadowman, everyone who dies ends up in Deadside- basically, hell- where they gradually lose their identities and become mindless zombies. The sole exception is the titular protagonist, due to the power of the Mask of Shadows.
  • The Underworld can be accessed in Harvest Moon: Light of Hope. Gorgan is the Underworld King. Nova is his (presumably Half-Human Hybrid) daughter who decided that she preferred to live on the surface. The Underworld isn't particularly hellish as it has its own inhabitants and society.
  • Rayman 2: The Great Escape has The Cave of Bad Dreams, where Polokus's nightmares are sealed. It has ghosts coming out of the ground, lots of skulls, and is referred to as the Kingdom of the Dead in the PS1 version.
  • Fox Eye's Roguelike Hades Vanquish takes place in the titular underworld, where Mana's soul goes after she dies from cardiac arrest at the beginning of the game. True to Fox Eye's Author Appeal and Signature Style, this take on Hades has many of its floors underwater. The player must navigate through each floor of each area in Hades while fighting off monsters and making sure Mana doesn't drown in each floor's submerged areas in her bid to escape from the underworld and get a second chance at life.
  • The setting of Hades, as can be divined by its title. Hades himself has made his palace in the deepest layer of Tartarus, wherein he manages his realm and listens to the petitions of the dead, and protagonist Zagreus will have to carve his way out of all three traditional layers of the Underworld (Tartarus, Asphodel and Elysium) plus the banks of the river Styx during his repeated attempts to run away from home.
  • The dimension of Khalderun is stated to be Summoners War: Sky Arena's "land of the dead." It's a dark world full of demons and undead, and holds the second awakening dungeons for the Grim Reaper and Howl (a spellcasting ghost monster).

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the Land of the Dead is where all the spirits of the dead go regardless of their alignment. It used to be a neutral realm ruled by Dis Pater until Death took over and turned the land into the verse's equivalent of Hell with his corrupting influence.
  • Karzahni in BIONICLE, where Matoran used to be sent to for repairs. Unfortunately, the ruler, also named Karzahni, didn't do a great job, so he sent some the badly repaired Matoran away from their islands or kept them. The Turaga realized Matoran weren't coming back, so they stopped and told stories of Karzahni as a scary place where lazy Matoran were sent to.
  • Dreamscape: Notably, its where the Overlord of Evil is sealed.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time has the Land of the Dead seen in "Death in Bloom".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Big Good and sun goddess Princess Celestia put out lost dog flyers for Cerberus, and Twilight worries about the evils in Tartarus escaping. Putting something from Greek Mythology into a world that has little to nothing to do with the world of the viewer was a bit jarring. However, it definitely still counts: much much much later, the final enemy of season four was being held there and Cerberus' temporary absence so long ago was what allowed him to get free. It's eventually shown that Tartarus is the place where monsters and those who committed crimes against all of Equestria are imprisoned.
  • In a Robot Chicken sketch, a man dies and finds out that everyone goes to Heaven. He passes by several people before seeing Adolf Hitler.
    Hitler: I'm just as surprised as you are.
  • Appears in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy often. Located miles beneath the surface, oceans of lava and macabre, monstrous architecture are commonplace. It's populated by monsters and demons of every type imaginable with many of the show's supernatural characters coming from the realm (including the Grim Reaper himself). Despite the similarities to Hell though, most of the monsters live a normal Earth-like life and many seem to be quite amiable if frightening.
  • Wishfart: Dez and his friends visit it in several episodes, with Akiko specifically being native to there. Located just beneath the City of Adventure, it's a fiery wasteland populated by demons and the spirits of the deceased, and ruled by a giant angry demon known only as the King of the Underworld. On the few times its inhabitants interact with the surface, bad stuff happens.
  • Fangbone! has the Skullbanian afterlife known as the Nightlands, a barren wasteland shrouded in perpetual darkness where the memories of those who have passed through the realm play out for others to see. In its heart however is a Warrior Heaven in the form of a vast feasting hall home to the spirits of countless barbarians.


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