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Uncanny Atmosphere

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An Uncanny Atmosphere is basically when the characters/audience get the feeling that something is wrong in their environment. They don't know exactly what's going on, but they do know that something is definitely wrong.

For example: character walks into an area and gets the feeling that something is wrong there. Maybe everyone is gone? Maybe the inhabitants are all brainwashed zombies? Or, everything seems fine at first. But slowly, the characters/audience start to feel an undeniable sense of wrongness in the atmosphere.

Intentional use of the principles of Uncanny Valley are often applied to setting and background characters to increase drama or hint at conspiracy. The colors are a bit off (The Matrix), the people are too nice (The Stepford Wives), everything is too clean or it's just too quiet. This may be a sign of a Crapsaccharine World.

Compare to Uncanny Village and Nothing Is Scarier.


Comic Books

  • Wonder Woman (1987): Asquith's use of magic has made his home feel decidedly off, and it doesn't help that Diana knows he's been living there but the magic has artificially aged and decayed the place so that it looks like it's been abandoned for years.

Fan Works

  • Always Visible: Fully relevant to the final chapters of the third act, where Galbraith visits an underground institute somewhere on the outskirts of London.
  • The Kingdom Hearts story, "Hi Roxas", presents itself as a poorly-written High School AU story that bears little to no resemblance to the canonical story. It's pretty much the kind of story you'd expect from a "my first fic" story... until Roxas enters study hall and meets Demyx. From the way he speaks alone (His first line, written exactly, is, "Oh, man, it's worse than I thought."), Demyx is clearly out of place, and an indicator that there's more to the story than it appears. Roxas himself doesn't see anything odd about Demyx other than the fact that he was not his usual teacher, "Mr. Leon Strife". The following chapter makes it clear that the story is actually Kingdom Hearts II's prologue sequence Gone Horribly Wrong.


Video Games

  • Okage: Shadow King - The Highland Village. Everyone there talks in a distant, dreamy tone. Turns out the village is a feeding ground for the Vampire Evil King.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: The Glitz Pit. About halfway through you'll be able to smell a conspiracy brewing.
  • In Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, your return to peaceful Phenac Town from the first game is deliberately designed to invoke this. New players won't see what's wrong, but people who've played Pokémon Colosseum will take notice that all of the NPCs are acting contrary to their personalities in the previous game, and the roaming Pokemon are also all wrong (for example, the jogger lapping the fountain has a Duskull following him instead of a Castform). It's unsettling, but at the same time one has to wonder if the programmers just plain didn't look into how things were in the first game. And then you find out that every single person in town had been kidnapped and replaced by a disguised Cipher member. Yikes. After you've solved that problem, Phenac returns to exactly how you remember it from Colosseum. Well played, Genius Sonority.
  • The Silent Hill series. When a character first enters the town, they notice that no one is around and even before they find their first monster, they know there's something wrong there.
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - The Seaside Town. By talking to the villagers you'll eventually realize that something is wrong here. You eventually find out that Yaridovich has kidnapped all the townspeople and has disguised himself as all of them.
  • All of Termina from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
    • A more specific example is if you visit Romani Ranch on the third day. Romani's facial expression is bound to bring up some questions.
  • In Persona 5: The Royal, if you accept Maruki's deal, you'll be dragged into his Utopia where everyone's desires are filled at the cost of stagnation, and even dating multiple girls has no negative consequences.
  • I'm On Observation Duty has the player monitoring (seemingly) empty houses via security cameras. The houses are weirdly laid out, with furniture arranged in ways that don't necessarily make sense, and random objects scattered about that can move on their own or disappear entirely.

Western Animation

  • Miraculous Ladybug: In the episode "Party Crasher", Gabriel realizes something is off when he senses overwhelming happiness in his mansion. Usually, Gabriel is a Control Freak Abusive Parent, which is not very conducive to overwhelming happiness (it's coming from Adrien's bedroom, where he is having a Wild Teen Party with his male classmates... and most of the show's male cast).
  • Steven Universe: The glitched version of Beach City from "Rose's Room". The city is eerily desolate at first, and the citizens are robotic and repetitive when spoken to.


Video Example(s):


"There's only... Joy!"

Since the Agreste Estate is usually a barren and dour place due to Gabriel's control freak nature and tendency to make his own son miserable, Hawk Moth finds it odd when he senses an overwhelming cloud of positive emotions.

How well does it match the trope?

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