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Unholy Ground

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That's not your home anymore.

"America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there waiting."

The trope is where a cemetery, temple, forest, etc. is considered holy... to the forces of evil. Whether it was the site of great and terrible crimes, incredible bloodshed, unholy rituals to malevolent beings or other atrocious acts, the very ground itself and any surrounding lands are now cursed. Exact results vary, but the most common are that evil is stronger, good is weaker and things buried here don't stay down for long.

If it's the burial place of some malevolent being, it will also be a Supernaturally Marked Grave. May otherwise be the result of a Leaking Can of Evil, an Unholy Nuke going off, or just because Evil Tainted the Place.

The site may be a Mook Maker for Night of the Living Mooks. If it produces way more zombies than it should, that is a Clown-Car Grave. If the effect covers an entire battlefield, that is a Corpse Land.


When this is a video game level, that's Big Boo's Haunt.

Sometimes overlaps with Indian Burial Ground. The inversion is Holy Ground.


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    Comic Books 
  • The third Captain Underpants, the one with the long title about the lunch ladies, had a very good page image about the hill where they buried the lunch ladies being haunted.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The area directly outside of Doom's Doorway is barren and generally unpleasant due to the doorway's status as a frequently Leaking Can of Evil and the fact that so many Amazons have died over the centuries fighting the horrors within as they try to escape.


  • American Gods has a variation. A god of death and darkness (and some say evil) Czernobog makes a stop near a place where a lot of human sacrifice was done in his name, spends half an hour shouting at, talking with and arguing with air on it. After that, his hair is not as grey as it once was and his grey mustache turns black as night. Blood sacrifice in their name works like that for all gods, good or bad. You could say that the ground was consecrated in the name of evil god in such a way that he can draw power from that blood sacrifice even centuries later.
  • Stephen King's Pet Sematary, which did not produce overtly undead resurrectees, but they still Came Back Wrong, and it's implied that their corpses are actually possessed by a demonic presence that haunts the area. which is why the original native inhabitants abandoned the burial grounds. Animals are less affected, but are still subconsciously seen to be "wrong" somehow, possibly because their limited brains can't properly channel the possession.
  • In Nick Perumov's Keeper of the Swords series, the entire world of Evial is like this, due to the presence of the entity known as the Western Darkness. Any graveyard can go bad, sooner or later, necessitating the presence of clerics and necromancers to deal with the undead. And necromancers are the safer, saner option: the sacrifices they need to stop the undead are just cats, while the priests will torture or burn some human sinners.
  • There are two levels of this surrounding the mountain Shayol Ghul (the site where the Dark One's prison overlaps with the living world) in The Wheel of Time. Travel north from the Borderlands, and one will find not the cold subarctic wastes one might expect but, thanks to the Dark One's touch, the Great Blight, a diseased jungle inhabited by deadly and unnatural creatures. Travel beyond that and you come to the Blasted Lands, the direct environs of Shayol Ghul where the corruption is so strong that nothing can survive at all there. Both regions become increasingly eldritch as the series progresses and the Dark One's prison weakens, warping time and space in Shayol Ghul's environs.
  • Elemental Masters: Sometime before The Gates of Sleep begins, Madame Arachne learns that one of her potteries has a passage leading to a hidden (and never de-consecrated) Roman Catholic chapel, from the days when Catholics in England had to hide their faith. She and her son defile it specifically so they'll have the ideal chapel to celebrate the Black Mass.
  • Downplayed in one Conan short story, Conan is wandering a desert and finds a ruined temple to shelter in. It's a bit creepy, but nothing out of the ordinary. The place was actually a temple to evil gods and countless people were sacrificed, so their ghosts haunt the ruins. The sleeping Conan's Ka however could see that these tormented (but not necessarily evil) souls were harmless and just monitored them. Unfortunately each ghost still possess an animating spark and with so many of them together and all of them hungry for Conan's life force, they joined to form a Nigh-Invulnerable Eldritch Abomination. Conan found he was powerless to kill the thing and had to Run or Die, leaving a group of trespassing bandits to their fate.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the backstory of Angel Wolfram & Hart de-consecrated the grounds of the Los Angeles branch office with the spilling of a serial killer's blood in the foundation. The ghost of that killer continued to haunt the offices until Angel & Co brought him back to life, after which they locked him in a sarcophagus for the rest of his eternal life.
  • Several Power Rangers series have tried to come up with better reasons than the original (in which it never came up) for why the villains only ever attack one city. For the demons in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue we get a doozy: The city of Mariner Bay is built upon their sacred ground. If they retake it and recreate their palace there, they'll become unstoppable. That means the city has to go.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Ars Magica, an area can take on an "infernal aura" if it is dedicated to satan or if something suitably atrocious happens there. In extreme cases, it warps the area into an Eldritch Location with multiple layers of reality, each more profoundly tainted than the last.
  • In Deadlands there is a whole mechanic for this, called Fear Levels. Ground becomes unhallowed if local Manitou (demons) become strong, and Manitou feed of human fear. So scare the populace, and their fears become real.
    • Regarding the undead-spawning subtrope, there are places (usually in areas with high Fear Level) with properties like these. Usually they produce Harrowed with a greater Dominion of the Manitou than usual, but sometimes garden variety zombies.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Unhallowed ground can be created with the spell unhallow. This strengthens undead against turning and provides bonuses against good creatures in general.
    • The 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide mentions "Evil Areas", places where Evil has created a special power base that reduce the chance for clerics to turn (repel) undead. They can only be destroyed by purifying them in some way, such as pouring holy water or casting a Bless and/or Prayer spell.
    • The Book of Vile Darkness supplement describes how evil actions can taint an area. The site of a murder or evil sacrifice might give people nightmares and make it more likely to evil undead to arise from corpses in the area. The site of an evil temple, massacre, or the abode of a fiend or powerful undead monster can be unnaturally cold and slightly warp objects left in it. A place of great evil that saw daily human sacrifices over centuries, or where someone built a portal to the Lower Planes, is tainted enough to traumatize creatures mentally and physically, and may impede the casting of spells like hallow or consecrate. And an unspeakably evil act like genocide or the birth of a malevolent god can leave a powerful dark aura that sickens and corrupts any creature that enters the area, and permanently warps the surrounding landscape and weather patterns.
    • Taint is an option in some D&D campaigns, that often occurs in lands blighted by some great evil, and has the potential to corrupt items and creatures, up to and including player characters and NPCs. It's most often used in horror campaigns, though any campaign that has you fighting encroaching evil can work.
    • In the Forgotten Realms, there is the Battle of Bones, a desolate area that was once the site of a massive and senseless battle between humans and goblins. It is so deeply seeped in death that all kinds of weird necromantic effects happen there. Undead rise spontaneously and are nearly impossible to turn, and even after hundreds of years the corpses still haven't fully decayed.
  • Exalted has the Shadowlands, areas where normal Creation and The Underworld overlap and the dead can walk freely. They're often created by vast death in an area or through some vile Necromancy.
  • Pretty much everywhere in Ehdrigohr. Since the land is infected by the Shivers, who come out every night, every burial ground that has not been properly consecrated risks sparking a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade and Demon: The Fallen, the fallen angel Kupala is bound within the soil of Eastern Europe.
  • The Tainted Places in Princess: The Hopeful, where acts of great evil have infused the land with the power of Darkness. Within the borders of Tainted Places all actions done with virtuous intent are penalized, creatures of Darkness can enter the real world, and those who spend too long within a Tainted Place become infected by the Darkness.
  • Daemon Worlds in Warhammer 40,000 are planets that have been overwhelmed and corrupted by Chaos, and have become shaped by the dominant daemon that shapes each planet to their own whim. Likewise, any place where Chaos forces operate may tend to suffer similar corruption effects that defy physics through the power of the Warp.

    Video Games 
  • The entire continent of Wraeclast in Path of Exile is, according to the lore, an unhallowed ground where the dead refuse to stay down, handily explaining the hordes of undead roaming the levels.
  • Warcraft III: Undead buildings spread a corruption called Blight, which turns ordinary ground into a black, fog-emitting morass with bones sticking out, and makes undead units regenerate health while on it. Undead buildings (save for the Necropolis) can only be built on blight, while non-undead buildings dispel it in a large radius when built. It can also be removed by area-of-effect dispel-magic spells, a good way to infuriate an Undead opponent since it prevents them from building until they put down some more blight. In The Frozen Throne expansion, the Undead can buy an item to create a circle of Blight at a location without needing to wait for a slooow-building Necropolis.
  • World of Warcraft: The Death Knight class has a talent ability called "Desecrated Ground". It corrupts the ground beneath the user removing and making him/her immune to effects that cause loss of control of the character. Paladins have a more or less corresponding ability called "Consecration", though it's simply an Area of Effect spell that deals holy damage.
  • Not literally unholy, but Zerg Creep in the StarCraft universe has a function analogous to Blight, though biological in nature. Unlike Blight, it slowly dies if there are no Zerg structures to maintain it but Terran and Protoss structures cannot be built on it. In Starcraft II, Zerg units get a speed bonus if moving on Creep, and it can be spread via Creep Tumors and stationary Overlords in addition to buildings.
  • Silent Hill is a textbook example. The land where the town is built was considered a haunted place by the local Indians before the settlers came, and after the town was built eerie things occasionally happened. Then a whole lot of evil went on and as a result the dark force inhabiting the land became much more active. Now the town summons anyone with a Dark and Troubled Past and torments them with monsters and visions.
  • The Shadow Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Monsters like Redeads, Gibdos and Stalfos roam its halls and the temple itself is a gathering place for Hyrule's bloody history of greed and hatred.
  • The village of Tristram in the Diablo series gradually became one of these after Diablo corrupted the town's cathedral. For twenty years afterwards rumor persisted of the land being cursed for any who tried to settle there.
  • Diablo II, in keeping with its theme of unholy corruption, features two more examples of desecration:
    • The Rogue Monastery, once one of the Rogues' most sacred places, was corrupted by the Maiden of Anguish Andariel, with many poor Rogues being tortured or worse down below.
    • The Cathedral of Light in the jungles of Kurast is so corrupted by the evil of Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred, by the time you get there that all of the Zakarum high priesthood have become demons, and the Cathedral has become a bloodsoaked shrine of evil known as the Durance of Hate.
  • Dragon Age II has the entire city of Kirkwall. It's revealed the city's very architecture is designed to harness arcane power and was used in an immense blood ritual, the sacrificing of thousands of slaves secretly abducted from the slavery trade, which took place during the Tevinter Empire days. This mass slaughter may have been to fuel the very ritual Tevinter Magisters used to enter the Black City and unleash the Blight on Thedas. As a result the veil is noticeably much weaker in Kirkwall with demons, blood mages and abominations far more frequent that any other location. Worse still the Chantry and Templars decided that the old slave prison was the best place to house the Circle of Magi. Unsurprisingly the death rate for Harrowings, a trainee mage's final rite of passage, is far higher in Kirkwall than anywhere else.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Dark Temple on Dromund Kaas, where the Emperor entombed some of his most deadly enemies, and where their power lies dormant, until an unwitting expedition opens the place and is driven mad, if not outright taken over, by the personalities of the entombed Sith.
    • The Sith temples in Korriban the former homeworld of the Sith race. A few Jedi who entered the ruins are corrupted by the spirits of the fallen Sith lords.
    • On Voss is a region known as the Nightmare Lands. Those who enter often never leave, and those that do are likely to be driven mad. The source of the corruption is a being called Sel-Makor, a creature of the Dark Side created when the Jedi began teaching the natives the ways of the Force, using it against the Sith. In the centuries that followed, Sel-Makor has spread its influence, inducing hatred and violence between the Voss and Gormak and growing ever stronger from the conflict.
  • Devil Summoner: The city itself whenever parts of it gets distorted by the Alien Dimension thanks to Sid.
  • Dwarf Fortress has Evil biomes. Evil lands have a multitude of negative effects, ranging from creepy flora and fauna (a type of evil grass is known as Staring Eyeball), to weather patterns that kill you or turn you into a Thrall, reanimating corpses automatically, conjuring boogeymen when you sleep in them, and whatever other horrible things the Toady One can come up with. Necromancers like to raise their towers there, and the occasional suicidal dwarf fortress will set up shop, but civilizations avoid the places like the plague.
  • It is implied that Carnate Island from The Suffering is an inherently cursed settlement - the various disasters and lapses in human decency being the island's attempt to get rid of the humans that settle there - and that the Malefactors (the monsters of the game) are the Island's last resort in doing so. The same could be the case for Baltimore.
  • Terraria: Graveyard mini-biomes act like this: they're constantly covered in thick fog, while zombies, demon eyes, and other usually nocturnal enemies will appear even in daytime. It also has the same background music as a Blood Moon. And it's very easy to make one: all you have to do is put around eight grave markers in one place, and there you go (which also means that if players repeatedly die in one place, they can accidentally create a graveyard and make the game harder on themselves).
  • League of Legends features the Shadow Isles as one of these. Once the peaceful Blessed Isles, they seemingly procured the secrets to eternal life, shrouding themselves in mist to keep themselves hidden from the rest of the world. One day, a mad king invaded the lands seeking to know their secrets in a vain attempt to resurrect his dead queen, and he forced his way into a ritual so botched that it cursed the isles with horrific undeath and eternal suffering; the game's resident Death World where not even death will let you escape. The surrounding mist became a vessel for the horde of countless undead souls, and every year, a "Harrowing" occurs where the "Black Mist" scours the rest of the world in an attempt to absorb more people into it.

    Western Animation 

  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • The planet Malachor is the site of a Sith temple, containing a holocron that can unlock the power to destroy life. And, apparently, it's already been used - the temple is surrounded by the petrified corpses of Jedi and Sith who fought a battle many years ago.
    • Dathomir is the home of the Nightsisters, practitioners of Black Magic. It's also the base of operations for Darth Maul.

Alternative Title(s): Unhallowed Ground, Profane Ground