Rural and grassy environments in fiction seem to frequently feature windmills (especially if said environments are Dutch).
Once used to mill grain or pump water, windmills have long since been superseded thanks to the advent of more recent technologies, although there has been a movement in recent years to preserve, rebuild and use mills once again. They are nowadays similar to the lighthouses, serving no purpose other than being a distinctive landscape feature, often to add a rural, quaint flair, although they have occasionally been used to crank up the creepy factor.
Works taking place in ancient times still feature them doing what they were intended for in the first place: grinding grains.
They typically have 4 sails, but may have as many as 6 or as few as 3.
Sister trope to Lighthouse Point, since windmills and lighthouses are usually used in the same way. See also Land of Tulips and Windmills for the Hollywood Atlas version of The Netherlands, which make an abundant use of this trope. Unrelated to Windmill Political, No Mere Windmill and Windmill Crusader (except for the Trope Namer). In video games, it's likely to appear in Gusty Glade levels.
- One Piece's Luffy is from a village named Foosha Village, which means Windmill Village and is surrounded by lush green fields which house numerous windmills.
- In Foreign Correspondent, the journalist Jones witnesses an assassination in Amsterdam, then pursues the killer into the countryside. He winds up in open plains, with dozens of windmills visible. One of these windmills is turning against the wind; Jones figures this must be a signal and goes to investigate. Sure enough, the killer's accomplices are hiding there.
- A modern take on this trope are wind turbines, an obligatory trope for any depiction of an environmentally safe future. Action-wise however, Mission: Impossible III has a scene where our heroes in a Huey helicopter try to evade a pursuing Cobra gunship by flying through a wind farm.
- The Slipstream is a permanent world-encircling wind, like the jetstream but at low level, affecting the environment and culture of an After the End future. Naturally the communities that have evolved beneath the Slipstream have plenty of windmills and turbines to make use of the free energy provided.
- In The Windmill Massacre, a busload of tourists are on a day trip viewing Dutch windmills. The bus breaks down, forcing to take shelter in a shed next to an old windmill. A windmill that, according to local legend, is inhabited by a demonic miller who harvests the souls of sinners as grist for his mill...
- Averted in Don Quijote, where the windmills are actually very important to understanding the main character's mindset rather than simply being background scenery.
- The eponymous warhouse from Warehouse 13 has Don Quixote's Windmill in the background, just to add a bit of fantastical wonder.
- Jonathan Creek lives in an old windmill that's been converted into a rather nice living space and workshop for Jonathan's day-job as producer, technician and Only Sane Employee for a stage illusionist. It's a kind of establishing character set, indicating that Jonathan is mildly eccentric and moderately wealthy.
- The world of the Cool Kids Table game Small Magic features plenty of windmills at Jake's request. Initially it's stated they have no purpose, but later in the first episode the Queen states they are connected to what keeps the Oni locked away.
- One of the landscapes the player can build after donating 1,000,000 Bells to the City Hall in Animal Crossing: City Folk is a windmill (the other is a lighthouse). Its only purpose is to increase the town's ratings. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the windmill returns as one of the public works projects the player can decide to build.
- Windala in Breath of Fire is this in castle town form.
- In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, a weary old windmill stands guard outside the haunted village of /x/. Youll pass it by without much thought when you first arrive, but naturally youll need to uncover its secret before you leave. The chapter boss and the second PasSWORD shard are both hidden inside.
- In Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium, there's the Kinderdijk Stage, which is the fight in Holland in the middle of a landscape with a lot of windmills.
- The Windy area in Conker's Bad Fur Day features a tall windmill at the top of the spiral mountain at the center, but by the time Conker tries to explore it Rodent accidentally destroys it when he's blown away from the exploding Tediz island. According to Conker himself, it was meant to be the last level in the game (and because of its destruction, the actual level that serves as the last is the Panther King's castle).
- Donkey Kong:
- The Windmill Plains, from Diddy Kong Racing. After all, it's even in the name.
- As one could expect after seeing the level's name, many windmills appear in the "Windmill Hills" level from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Their rotating blades carry platforms and the Kongs have to jump from one to the other carefully as not to fall in Bottomless Pits.
- Ghouls 'N' Ghosts has The Village of Decay And Destruction.
- The Fantasy Meadows in Kirby Air Ride is a quaint, grassland racetrack. A windmill (to enhance the "Meadows" part) with blades made out our dragonfly wings (supposedly for the "Fantasy" part) sits in the background of the track.
- The bucolic Cookie Country from Kirbys Return To Dreamland has gratuitous, three-sailed windmills in the background. What is unusual about them is they seem to be actual trees with three giant, rotating leaves.
- The Legend of Zelda
- The Kakariko village windmill in Ocarina of Time is the town's most prominent feature. It is actually a windpump, as it is used to draw up water from the well that sits in from of it.
- A big windmill-slash-lighthouse is the main landscape feature from Windfall Island in The Wind Waker. A rather smart choice for a power source if the name of the island is to be believed.
- In Skyward Sword, two windmills appear Skyloft. The two actually are important to the plot, as rotating them toward the Light Tower activates it, which is crucial to find the Isle of Songs.
- A decayed, ominous windmill appears in Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident near Elmore's farm. It has been altered to be the source of the island's electricity.
- The Gale Shrine in Ōkami is actually a giant windmill. Its purpose is to protect Kusa Village from evil forces by blowing the Divine Wind. Sadly, the Yokai managed to make it stop rotating, depriving Kusa Village of its protection and causing the town to slowly become a cursed zone. Thankfully, Amaterasu manages to save the day.
- In Pokémon X and Y, the most prominent building in Dendemille town is a big, six-bladed windmill. It isn't known to serve any purpose besides providing a windy and rural flair to the town.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- In Super Mario Sunshine, the Big Windmill in Bianco Hills is a prominent landscape feature with unknwon purposes and its empty halls are where the first fight against Petey Piranha takes place.
- The Cloudy Court Galaxy in Super Mario Galaxy 2 features giant windmills whose sole purpose is to blow wind with their rotating sails, and the currents created can be used by Cloud Mario to move around.
- In Paper Mario 64, the Windy Mill can be found at the bottom of the conveniently windy Gusty Gulch, and it looms ominously before the path to a Boo-infested village. It serves as the entrance to a Tunnel that leads to Tubba Blubba's heart.
- In Paper Mario: Sticker Star, the windmill in Hither Thither Hill contains a pipe that leads further through the level (and nothing else), but its door is blocked by one of the sails. Mario has to use the Fan sticker to blow strong gusts of wind that make it briefly rotate and unblock the access to the door.
- Moo Moo Meadows in Mario Kart Wii is a rural track which features a windmill as a background feature near the end of the racetrack to enhance the "farm" feeling. It returns in the Mario Kart 8 version of the course, and another windmill was added next to it.
- Some windmills act as scenery elements in the upbeat Mario Kart 7 racecourse "Daisy Hills". One of them is in the way during the gliding section and it's rotating blades can block the racer's way.
- Mario Party 7 has Windmillville, a cheery Holland-inspired map with windmills that you invest in to get stars.
- The Yoshi's Woolly World level "Knitty-Knotty Windmill Hill" takes place in a grassland with an absurd number of windmills, some of which carry platforms on their sails so they can be used by Yoshi.
- Super Smash Bros.:
- The Water version of the Pokémon Stadium stage in Melee has a large spinning windmill at the left of the arena whose sails can be used as platforms. The stage reappears in Brawl as well.
- In 3DS, the Hither-Thither Hill phase of the Paper Mario stage features the aforementioned level trademark windmill on the right side of the arena, and its sails can be stood upon. When the Fan appears in the background and starts blowing gusts of wind, it starts spinning frantically, and the players will not be able to stand on it anymore.
- In Wii U, the Windy Hill Zone stage has a giant windmill on the right. Only a portion of the spinning mill is within the blastlines, so standing on it carries the risk of being swooped away from the stage straight into a KO.
- The first level in Wii Play: Motion's Trigger Twist takes place in a grassland with a rustic windmill sitting in the middle of it.
- The Witness: There's a windmill near the town in the center of the island. It's an important place to visit, since its basement features an underground theatre, as well as a shortcut to the cave system beneath the island. However, apart from a few environmental puzzles involving the sails, the fact that it's a windmill is not relevant and it could pretty much have been any other type of building.
- In Bloodborne, you can see several massive, immobile windmills on the horizon in Yharnam's higher points, and one of them can be entered in the Forbidden Woods, providing a shorcut between the beginning and the middle of the section.
- Windmill Isle in Sonic Unleashed takes place in the fictional location Apotos, inspired by Mykonos, Greece, with similar windmills.
- Genshin Impact has the First Town of Mondstat, the city-state protected by the Archon of Wind, and thus has windmills as part of its skyline.
- An old, long-abandoned windmill is the star of Disney's 1937 short "The Old Mill". Said short shows the life of various wild animals that live in the windmill before and during a violent storm that culminate in a lightning strike hitting the old building, destroying one of its sails.
- Perhaps the most recognizable landmark shown in the original opening to Thomas the Tank Engine is the Post Windmill, which has gone on to make countless appearances in the show through the years.
- Windmills are a very iconic obstacle in minigolf courses.