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Vanishing Village

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A plot that features a location that only appears or is accessible for certain periods of time. Frequently the home to a Lost World or civilization, it is usually found accidentally by "outsider" characters. Common features of the subsequent plot include one of the outsiders falling in love with a native, and/or the outsiders being required to leave within a certain period of time, or be trapped there.

Many examples are in reference to the 1947 musical Brigadoon, about two American tourists who stumble upon the mysterious town of the same name.

Compare The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday. Not to be confused with Hidden Elf Village, although the inhabitants of the Hidden Elf Village usually turn their town into a Vanishing Village if they have the phlebotinum to pull it off. Subtrope of Revealing Continuity Lapse.

Sometimes a Lost World or The Shangri-La, explaining why it remains hidden despite the best efforts of Google Earth; it wasn't actually there when they took that particular satellite picture.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The anime series Brigadoon: Marin and Melan has the same name as the play in the title and a world sort of similar to it. It also has robot gunsword-slingers from another dimension.
  • The second Read or Die manga (Read or Dream) featured a ghost library that appeared to the living once every ten years. Of course, you could visit it all you liked after you were dead, as long as you brought your books back on time.

    Comic Books 
  • One of these makes an appearance in Black Moon Chronicles. Demons use the protagonists' unwitting stay there to stuff main character Wismerhill's first girlfriend into the fridge.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes
    • One issue of DC's post-Zero Hour Legion of Super-Heroes features the planet Steeple, which is somehow only accessible for a limited period of time every ten years due to a black hole. Legionnaire Karate Kid ends up missing the window out of reluctance to leave an injured teammate, although they both ended up getting rescued anyhow.
    • Tyroc in the 1970's came from the island of Marzal, which had a similar problem. The story's title was The Brigadoon Syndrome.
    • Pre-Crisis Planet Rokyn had just such a relationship with the universe.
  • Loki's Manhattan apartment became one of these in the eight months they propel it forward when breaking the time stream in Loki: Agent of Asgard. Verity even checked the building plans — it was apparently never there. They also moved it magically several times, so probably many people managed to lose it in the course of the series.
  • Scare Tactics (DC Comics): The band finds itself stranded in a remote town named Beaumont, where they all experience their worst nightmares brought to life. After they escape, they stop at a gas station to ask about Beaumont, only for the Creepy Gas-Station Attendant to tell them there is no town in the direction they came from.
  • Captain Marvel Jr. visited the "City in the Mirage," which appeared once every thousand years, in a 1975 Shazam! comic that also saw his older counterpart visiting a future where giant rats have taken over the world.
  • Done in Sonic CD and later the Sonic the Comic series about the mysterious planet that appears during a yearly eclipse and disappears when it ends, with the majority of the plots being focused on escaping the planet before it fades back into whatever dimension it came from. Averted by Robotnik in Sonic CD, who chains Little Planet to Earth.
  • The Usborne Puzzle Adventure book The Vanishing Village has the protagonist searching for a village of this sort (as the title may suggest).

    Fan Works 
  • Star Wars: Galactic Folklore and Mythology: Brodo Asogian myth describes Ezan-Throgg, a phantom island hidden by dense fog that only appears on leap days once every five local years. According to legend, its king hid it with a magic cloak to protect it from invaders, but the shroud is lifted every five years by his daughters to let the suns' light reach their home.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The film version of Brigadoon.
  • Ghost Town (1988) is set in a Wild West Ghost Town that randomly appears and disappears. Murdered by a gang of outlaws, the sheriff used his dying breath to curse the gang and the town that been too cowardly to help him fight to linger on Earth until the outlaw leader Devlin was vanquished by a lawman.
  • In the 2009 horror movie Ghost Town, a gang of Satanic cultists wiped out an Old West town and then committed ritual suicide. The town then vanished into a pocket dimension. Every thirteen years, on Friday the 13th, the town reappears and traps any travelers who wander in, then the ghosts of the cultists terrorize and kill them For the Evulz. According to notes left by previous victims, if the travelers can't escape or break the curse by morning, the town will vanish, leaving them trapped for thirteen years and most likely killed by the ghosts long before the town reappears.
  • The Disney Channel Original Movie Halloweentown claims that the eponymous magical town is only accessible one night of the year (no points for guessing which night). At the end of the sequel, the heroes manage to use the Power of Love to force open the portal indefinitely.
  • Pleasant Valley, in Herschell Gordon Lewis' "B" horror film Two Thousand Maniacs! is a particularly nasty example. During the US Civil War, the small southern town was massacred and razed to the ground by out-of-control Union soldiers. Every century on the anniversary, it reappears to lure Northern visitors to a "festival" where they are gruesomely murdered.

    Folklore & Legends 
  • Brazilian Folklore: A common motif in a couple of oral stories across the country involves the narrator finding big mysterious houses full of people and festivities in an empty region at night when passing by. When the narrator goes to investigate where the sounds are coming from, the entire house and the people inside vanish, often because it was haunted.
  • Common in folk stories about The Fair Folk, regarding the way into Fairyland.

  • In the Deverry series by Kathrine Kerr, the dwarven island of Haen Marn teleports away when its inhabitants are threatened, disappearing for years at a time until ithe island deems it safe to return
  • While it's never been relevent to the stories, The Discworld Companion claims the country of Chimeria (which gets referenced briefly in The Colour of Magic, and never gets mentioned again) is a brigadoon, as is the Lost City of Ee (which is why so many adventurers have discovered it, only to lose it again almost immediately). There's also the Lost City of Leshp, seen in Jingo, which is obviously a reference to Atlantis, but also overlaps with this trope: It's built on an island of hollow pumice which fills up with volcanic gas over decades until it floats to the surface, then sinks when all the gas dissipates.
  • The Elric Saga has several examples: One book is called The Vanishing Tower, and is named after a tower which is an example of this trope; there's also Myshella's citadel, which is similar to the other vanishing tower but not the same; and the legendary city of Tanelorn is a location sought by many but not accessible in the normal way.
  • Forever After, an anthology with Roger Zelazny's name on front, features an assassin on a quest to take a magical artifact back to its resting place, after the Big Bad has been defeated. This city comes and goes, and no one is sure if he'll make it out. He doesn't. Also the Big Bad wasn't really dead, and it was his plan to send away the artifacts that could have defeated him—instead of being defeated, he had possessed the body of the hero and become King.
  • The Humanx Commonwealth novels apply this trope to an entire planet, Quofum.
  • Nils in the book Nils Holgersson visits Vineta, a city sunk into the sea for its vanity, during the one hour each century that it reappears above the waves. In this telling, the curse will be lifted if during that hour any of Vineta's merchants can sell anything to a living creature. Too bad Nils has no money with him, and when he runs to fetch a rusty coin he remembers seeing on the beach, the hour ends and the city disappears.
  • In The Secrets of Droon book City In The Clouds, the floating city of Ro only appears once in hundreds of years, and the heroes (and the villains) are in serious danger of getting stranded there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: "The Ghost Monument" has the titular location, said to appear once every 1,000 years. It's shortly revealed that it's the missing TARDIS caught in a materialization loop and unable to properly land.
  • Farscape has an episode with a group of planets at the centre of a time anomaly where time passes much faster than in the wider universe and which only become accessible for an hour or so every fifty-five years. It is suggested that since the spaceship Moya is part-way into the anomaly, it may be experiencing a milder but still serious level of time displacement.
  • Played mostly straight (as straight as the series could muster, anyhow) in the second season episode "Brigadoom" of Lexx, which was also a Musical Episode.
  • In The Orville episode Mad Idolatry, a planet phases in and out of our dimension, but for every 11 days of normal time, 700 years pass on the planet. This causes their technology to jump centuries ahead each time they reappear. Eventually, a sequel episode has the planet 50,000 years ahead of the normal universe.
  • The characters in Sliders are driven from one dimension to the next by the fact that each world is essentially one of these. Though this is only because of a malfunction with the device they use to go from world to world. If it worked right, they'd be able to come and go as they please.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The planet Meridian, in the episode of the same title, appears only once every 60 years.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted has a spell specifically to produce the Brigadoon effect.
  • In the GURPS Infinite Worlds sourcebook, places like Brigadoon are referred to as 'shiftrealms', and range from the archetypal 'town from the mists' to a subway car that always knows where its passengers need to go.
  • In Pathfinder, "Phantasmal" settlements only manifest under specific conditions, such as on a holy day or when the moon is shining, and can only be reached through Dimensional Travel otherwise.

  • As mentioned in the write-up, the Trope Codifier is the 1940s American musical Brigadoon, in which two American tourists stumble on the titular village in Scotland, which only exists for one day every century. Though unlike most imitators, Brigadoon examines in great detail what effect being trapped in a small town could have on someone; Harry is extremely unhappy in Brigadoon, and resents the fact that he can't get an education or really do anything except spend his life staring at the back-end of a horse. The fact that the love of his life is marrying someone else and he has no way to distance himself from her only makes things worse, and the other villagers response to his unhappiness is to tell him, with varying levels of sympathy, to suck it up. In the end, Harry is more than willing to Put Them All Out of My Misery.

    Video Games 
  • The Baten Kaitos series has Mira, an entire island that periodically fades in and out of existence and cannot be reached in Origins for this reason, and Sedna, a town that was completely turned to magnus and can be restored as a Side Quest.
  • In the Castlevania games, Dracula's castle (and the man himself) return every 100 years... in theory. In practice, various cults are always resurrecting them sooner.
  • Miragia in Commander Keen IV is a crystalline Domed City that constantly fades in and out of the world map. The level itself is filled with similarly vanishing Temporary Platforms.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online: The raid called "The Shroud" involves an devil invasion of the hero's world. It occurs because the devils' plane becomes "co-terminous" with the material plane every few thousand years, causing a Thin Dimensional Barrier that lets them cross over.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: The Hidden Elf Village of Ispares, the old hometown of Blackberry, is populated entirely by magicians. As a rule they keep their city hidden from the outside world, which comes in handy when the Dark Force invasion scours the planet for sources of magic.
  • The old cult adventure game, Kowloon's Gate revolves around an entire mysterious walled city suddenly materializing in the middle of Hong Kong, with the player character, a member of a Feng Shui-based paranormal research group being sent to investigate.
  • Pokemon Ruby/Saphire/Emerald features Mirage Island, a mysterious island that has a roughly 1 in 10,000 chance of appearing in Route 130 every day. Emerald also features Marine Cave and Terra Cave, which periodically appear and disappear in random locations.
    • Remakes Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire feature instead the Mirage Spots, a series of small islands which can only be accessed by soaring to one on Latias or Latios. Every day the set of islands that will appear is randomized, with more islands appearing if you streetpass people that have them.
  • Illusion Village in the first Robopon game.
  • The city of Dawn in Ultima III. "Dawn lasts for but a brief moment." Minus the "must escape or be trapped" part... the city's got a really favorable timeflow differential.
  • The eponymous continent of Ys in the first two games, and the lost city of Kefin in Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series has one of these. In "De Vil-Age Elder", Roger, Anita, the pups and Spot stumble upon Devilville, a village that was placed under a curse to disappear and reappear for one day every one hundred years. Everyone within the village becomes brainwashed into becoming endlessly happy, except for De Vils and chickens.
  • There is an example of this in Adventures of the Gummi Bears called "Gummadoon".
  • Spoofed in an episode of Beetlejuice, "Brinkadoom", where Beetlejuice and Lydia get stuck in such a place, a "sleepy little town" (pun intended) that vanishes for a millenium when all its inhabitants fall asleep.
  • Jem has this in one episode, in which they find shangri-la, and learn the curitive music, the city disappears after they leave, and the misfits cant' find it.
  • King has The Uncertain City from "Monsteritis", which flickers in and out of existence at random intervals. Anyone in The Uncertain City when it vanishes will also disappear, and won't return until the city flickers back into existence.
  • The fortress-city Tambelon from My Little Pony 'n Friends appears for about a day or so every five centuries, during which the evil goat warlord there, Grogar, attempts to conquer the world. When he appears during the series' present, he loses his power (at least temporarily) and his army, meaning that the next time he reappears he will be a much lesser threat.
  • Princess Cadence's home, the Crystal Empire, was once this in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Thanks to Twilight Sparkle and her friends (and to a greater extent, Spike), it has become a mainstay for the rest of Equestria after ridding it of its tyrant, King Sombra.
  • The Pink Panther: One episode of the series featuring a non-silent Pink features an Arabian kingdom cursed to only appear once every 500 years. The curse will only be broken if the Sultan marries an outsider.
  • Castle Captor in The Smurfs is a Haunted Castle that appears every 500 years to capture those who are foolish enough to enter its gates, and tries very hard to keep its captives from ever escaping before it disappears.