Follow TV Tropes


World of Chaos

Go To
A bending road, a tiny raincloud, a city in the middle of space, and a sun and starry night right next to each other. All seems pretty normal to me.

"... Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking-horse people eat marshmallow pies...
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high..."

Improbable fauna, impossible flora, and — oh my — the sky's started melting. Yep, looks like you're in a World of Chaos.

This setting is a bizarre mixture of elements from our world thrown into a blender, with a few squirts of lemon and a pinch of LSD. Everything comes together in outlandish and unpredictable combinations. Bright colors, strange creatures, and total disregard for logic are all in play. Anything can and will happen.

It may be the result of a Mushroom Samba, or be All Just a Dream of someone with a particularly vivid imagination. But if it's real, the characters will need a lot of luck, and their intuition will be more valuable than intellect. Worlds of Chaos are places of great whimsy and danger, much of which stems from the inability to comprehend what's at work in them. In this respect, they're like The Fair Folk in the form of a place. Precisely why and how these worlds behave in this manner can vary, but they're usually dream worlds where reality is subjective and ever-shifting, realms dominated by primordial forces of chaos, or somewhere outside of the shaped and ordered universe altogether. If a God of Chaos is present in the same setting, changes are good he'll make his kip here.

Alien Geometries may be commonplace. Not to be confused with World of Weirdness (a more mundane world with some fantastic elements) or The Wonderland (which has rules, just not the ones we're used to). Worlds inhabited by Starfish Aliens may not qualify, as they may have a little more internal consistency even if they're beyond our comprehension, plus the inclusion of recognizable elements is what gives this setting much of its edge.

Related to World Gone Mad, which combines this with Crapsack World to create an absurdist hellscape that seems designed to punish any attempts at sanity or reason.

There's a good possibility you'll find yourself having tea with Cthulhu — possibly literally, if someone is simultaneously homaging Alice in Wonderland and H. P. Lovecraft. If this world used to be normal, it's been on the receiving end of a Bizarro Apocalypse. Compare Eldritch Location, Cloud Cuckooland, World of Weirdness and Reality Is Out to Lunch.

Not to be confused with giant Heartless ships.


    open/close all folders 


    Comic Books 
  • Justice Society of America: When Extant makes his own universe, this is the result. As first glance, it looks like your bog-standard sword and sorcery universe, just filled with endless hordes of knights dressed like Hawk and Dove fighting forever. Closer inspection is the laws of physics don't work properly, even with the allowance for your typically wonky comic physics, and buildings are built that shouldn't be able to stand and hurt the eyes to look at. This is what happens when the Reality Warper who makes the reality is completely insane.
  • The Sandman (1989): The realm of Dream, being the world where dreams happen. His sister Delirium's realm, even more so. To elaborate, the Dreaming is where your mind goes every night when you fall asleep. It has a sort of logic of its own, but the laws of physics are more like guidelines. Delirium's realm is where your mind goes when you're crazy, and what little is seen of it is pure stream-of-consciousness chaos.

    Fan Works 
  • Those Lacking Spines: Half of Vacillating Heights is an embodiment of disgustingly random Crackfic. The other half is a Shadowland representing Dark Fic.
  • Triptych Continuum has Eris, the world that existed before the Original Bearers Of Harmony found the Elements and used them to imprison Discord. It was a world of madness and terror where at any moment the air might turn to lead or the ground melt into syrup, but intermixed with the chaos were moments of beauty and wonder such as have never come again: singing rivers or clouds that played tag with you.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cool World: The Toon world is basically a chaotic parody of the human world, with Cartoon Physics and constant madness and disorder. A human cop who's been there for the past 50 years still prefers it over his experience in the Second World War.

  • Animorphs: In the prequel book The Andalite Chronicles, Elfangor, Esplin 9466note , and Loren accidentally create one when they all attempt to use the Time Matrix to return home at the same time while all participants are starved of oxygen and freezing to death. Since no place in the universe matches the multiple inputs the Time Matrix is receiving, it creates a new universe described as a nonsensical patchwork of the Yeerk homeworld, the Andalite homeworld, and suburban America. This part of the book gets substantially weirder in the next Chronicles title, The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, where it's revealed that Esplin was born and raised on a ship's Yeerk Pool and has never actually been to the Yeerk homeworld. So it's probably not a good idea to look too closely at the Yeerk parts of the mish-mash world.
  • The Chronicles of Amber: Ironically, the Courts of Chaos aren't this. Sure, maybe the sun and moon circle each other in the sky, casting night and day on opposite sides of a band of twilight, but that doesn't mean it's not consistent. Natural law in the Courts is such that this could easily be implemented; it isn't — in fact, ongoing efforts are made to keep things sorted out — because people live there. (Also why the Courts and Amber are sited some distance away from what they represent.) The Pit the Courts hover over, being a well of continual creation and its antithesis, comes closer to the trope. That said, most places too close to the Courts are too influenced by entropy to get a really satisfying level and form of continual change — it's real estate about a third of the way out towards Amber the trope seems to apply best to.
  • The Circle Series: A rare positive example of this can be found in the first installment. Before humankind becomes corrupted by sin and Falls from Grace, God does this sort of thing frequently — switching the sky and sea in their places, changing the world's colors — when He's in a playful mood.
  • The Dresden Files: The Nevernever, home to nearly every mythological being there is, is a realm of symbolism and magic more so than one of stable physics or geography. The parts nearer to Earth are simply the Land of Faerie, with dangerous mainly in the form of mythical monsters and fluctuating distances between locations. As one heads deeper, landscapes become increasingly bizarre and surreal, and the natives go from monstrous to demonic to worse.
  • The Half-Made World: Go too far in one direction and reality becomes unstable.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Infinite Improbability Drive can have these effects. When Ford and Arthur are accidentally picked up by the Heart of Gold, they find themselves in what seems to be Southend, but the sea stays still and the buildings wash up and down, Arthur's limbs start drifting away, Ford starts turning into a penguin, and they ask for help from a passing man with five heads crawling up a wall. Arthur also meets with an infinite number of monkeys who have just written a script for Hamlet.
  • InterWorld: Things found in the In-Between include yellow geometric shapes that eat each other, flying knees, disembodied mouths that eat themselves, suspended pathways "with the texture of polished polyurethane", windows that open on to horrible screams, undulating noodles, vortexes of pudding... all floating randomly in a void with infinite dimensions that causes synesthesia.
  • More Minds demonstrates what happens when absolutely everyone gains the power of Reality Warping. It's almost impossible to die, and you'll always have everything you want and need. This is not a good thing.
  • the secret lives of Princesses: The Princess of the Disorent's kingdom. Everything is haywire, mixed up and backwards. Parents do homework and children watch television late into the night. Dogs walk their masters on leashed.
  • Time Storm: The titular storms can change a locale's time frame by thousands of years or more as they pass.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Invisible Sun: The Actuality is an extreme World of Chaos. For example, physics don't have much meaning in the Actuality, because it implies a single set of inflexible rules governing all of reality, which doesn't exist there. Change and variation are as much a part of the Actuality as structure or reliability, if not more so. Gravity pulls you down, unless it doesn't, typically for a reason, but sometimes that reason isn't obvious, or even knowable.
  • Pathfinder: The Maelstrom, the Outer Plane embodying the Chaotic Neutral alignment, is an immense sea of infinite creative potential, where surreal landscapes can emerge in a moment, shift suddenly into each other, evaporate into nothingness and be suddenly replaced by something else entirely. It's one of the largest planes and one of the oldest; the other Outer Planes are believed the have first emerged as chance creations of the Maelstrom that happened to be stable enough to endure on their own.
  • Planescape: Limbo, the plane embodying the Chaotic Neutral alignment, is a roiling mixture of all the elements that forms a vast primordial soup constantly producing and reabsorbing random objects, landscapes and creatures. Order can be imposed temporarily by the willpower and imagination of sentient beings — but that just means that you really need to pay attention.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Realm of Discord is another dimension where the laws of physics can change on a whim. One moment you're fast, the next you're slow, and remember to watch out for exploding bubbles.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Daemon Worlds are literally worlds of Chaos, where the laws of nature do not apply and everything is governed by the will of the Chaos Gods and their daemons, which is very bad because the moods and desires of Daemons change more often than you would think possible.
    • The Warp itself is an ever-shifting nightmare realm without stable form or substance, given definition only by the will of powerful beings and constantly raging with battles between demons and worse.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Changeling: The Lost: Arcadia is so defined by chaos that the True Fae stake their existence on constant conflict with one another for more glories and titles; if they don't, they fade away into the background and are eventually undone. The game book describes it something like this (paraphrasing): "Arcadia is a place where your wishes come true. In other words, it greatly resembles Hell."
    • The actual Hell may or may not qualify. Being composed of all the collected vice and depravity in the history of the world, it's described as being so hideous that looking at it causes insanity, and even then human minds cannot fully grasp it, instead turning the images into something they can understand.
    • The Umbral Realm known as Flux from Mage: The Ascension and Werewolf: The Apocalypse is a sub-dimension of uncontrolled, chaotic creation.

    Video Games 
  • Alice in Wonderland features a world which is a mix of all the nonsense from both original books plus some extra nonsense added, like a house inside a chessboard inside a house inside a bath machine inside a house inside another house which is located underground.
  • Back to Bed: You are the subconscious of a narcoleptic sleepwalker creating safe paths through his dreams for him. The dream landscape is inspired by Escher and Dali.
  • Bayonetta: Paradiso in the first game. Floating rocks to step on are commonplace, one area is littered with pieces of buildings seen earlier in the game, gravity points to random directions depending on where you are with some mobile platform even having their own gravity, the background is either an endless expanse of golden clouds or starry night sky... it's a really weird place.
  • Dark Souls II: One interpretation of the very, very disjointed level design hinges on this aspect. It's nearly impossible to explain how one can fall into a giant whirlpool in the middle of a lake, end up in a dark underground sanctuary with titanic pillars and an enormous glowing crack in the sky, emerge from said cavern into a beautiful seaside town, travel dozens of miles to a drowned city by walking for five minutes through an underground passageway, descend below sea level into a cavern which happens to be AT sea level, and most mind boggling of all, ascend through an unseen elevator behind a giant windmill-laden tower in order to reach a sinking iron fortress... in the middle of a vast sea of lava which, if it's any indication, happens to be above cloud level.
  • Dragon Age features the Fade, a parallel realm to the mundane world where minds go when they dream. It is the realm of abstract entities — spirits and demons — and is shaped entirely by will, unbound by rules of physics like the mundane world. Mages are specially attuned to it, able to essentially have lucid dreams when they sleep normally, and can also enter the fade consciously through magical means. They are also especially prone to demonic possession, which is one of the main reasons mages are feared. Physical entry into the fade is impossible without extraordinary means (and the last time that happened, the transgressors screwed things up real bad.)
  • Fallen London plays this one for nightmares with the Iron Republic, Hell's colony in the Neath. The only law here is that there are no laws, no tyrants. This includes the laws of chance and physics, and the tyrannies of nature and logic. The lunatics who actually enjoy the place can change what little order is there by protesting it. No one enters and leaves this place unscathed, but that doesn't stop people from coming and going anyways. Your possible stint in this literally hellish place is one of the scarier parts of the whole game.
  • Final Fantasy IX has "Memoria", a mindscape created above the Iifa tree where Zidane and his party face off against Kuja in the final disc; it's a jumble of scenes and buildings gathered from the collective memory of the entire planet, where it's possible to walk through a giant, city-destroying eyeball into the ruins of a town it just attacked, walk up a staircase leading into space, pass through a waterfall and find yourself swimming through an ancient coral reef, or climb a ladder that overlooks the birth of the planet itself. Thankfully, Garland's around to explain what's happening.
  • Hyrule Warriors: Hyrule is turned into this after Cia opens the Gate of Souls. Legends has the Forsaken Fortress, which is several locations from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker that were nowhere near each other unceremoniously mashed together, with the ocean in the background abruptly cutting off in random places.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy is visually an amalgamation of multiple video games, so it's no wonder that there's wildly different areas with often no logical connection between them.
  • Kingdom Hearts: The final world follows this trope. The world is made of bits and pieces of destroyed worlds mixed in with lots of darkness to hold things together.
  • LEGO Dimensions: Several locations in the story mode have become Worlds of Chaos thanks to Lord Vortech. Among other things, Metropolis now houses the Eye of Sauron, Minas Tirith has been outfitted with technology from Aperture Science, and Mr. Burns' office has been demolished by the Joker.
  • The Manhole: You can climb a beanstalk growing out of the titular manhole: at the very top, you find a forest at night, in the middle of which is a tower that's actually a chess piece sitting in the corner of a vast network of underground canals — which you only realize when you reach the top of the tower. With the aid of a gondola-rowing elephant, you can use the canals to pay a visit to a walrus captain who operates an elevator that somehow arrives in a sunken ship, or you can carry on rowing and find yourself in the teacup of a talking rabbit who lives inside a fire hydrant just across from the Manhole. Said sunken ship can also be reached by climbing down the beanstalk, thereby making the whole thing circular. And there's a door on the sunken ship that takes you into a room full of flowers. Plus if you go inside the fire hydrant house, you can use a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to go back up to the tower.
  • Mortal Kombat has the Chaosrealm, one of the six realms. The place tends to make no physical sense and its inhabitants practice chaos like it was a religion. As expected, they are directly opposed to the Orderrealm.
  • OMORI: Headspace doesn't make any sense, being filled to the brim with technicolor objects and a well somehow holding a bonafide casino in it. Justified when it turns out that it's the delusion of a suicidal child trying to run away from his problems.
  • Quest for Glory II: The obstacle course created for the entrance exam to WIT strongly resembles the trope picture. Only there's no city and the road is more flat.
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl: The Distortion World where Giratina lives is a parallel dimension consisting mainly of chunks of rock floating in a dark void, with gravity pointing in different directions depending on where you are.
  • Sam & Max Hit the Road:
    • The Mystery Vortex. The overall setting of the game is faintly surreal, but, inside the Mystery Vortex, Reality Is Out to Lunch and won't be returning in any foreseeable future: warped perspectives, M.C. Escher furniture, doors that make you too small or too tall to open them, inverted gravity, booths that contain chaos dimensions, control rooms hidden inside mirrors, forests of shoe trees, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!
    • In the Telltale games, the whole world could qualify. Sam & Max's neighborhood is in-canon placed somewhere between the subway line of purgatory and hell.
  • Library, the setting of SINoALICE, clearly does not operate on our logic. It is full of portal books, and is inhabited by ever-hungry Nightmares and bloodthirsty Characters. One ending gives an explanation for why it's a World of Chaos: it was daydreamed on the spot by Alice while she was sleeping in class.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): The "End of the World" stage. Every stage features a different character to play as, and different levels altogether, there are giant wormholes that warp the colors while simultaneously vacuuming you into them, monsters made of lava and purple stuff attack you at any given moment, the environment changes from lava to forest to temple to desert at a moment's notice, and it is more or less designed to freak you out and confuse you.
  • Super Mario Bros.: While the later games tried to establish a viable, somewhat consistent Wonderland, the first one just plunged you right into a world where you were a plumber of Italian descent who must rescue a "princess Toadstool" by defeating a turtle-dragon while killing evil walking mushrooms with eyes, turtles with wings, carnivore plants growing out of green pipes and other similar enemies. Oh, and if you eat a mushroom which comes out of a shining floating block with a question sign, you grow bigger, and if you pick a flower, you can shoot bouncing fireballs. Jumping stars, climbable beanstalks, walking on clouds and jumping several times your height ensue. In fact, one could say that the series has used this as a "spring off point", so to speak. Because it makes little sense, anyway, Mario can go anywhere and let the developers worry more about gameplay concerns than whether the setting makes sense: space (Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel), inside other characters (Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story), and the past (Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time) are some examples.
  • Thief: The Dark Project: Any place messed with by the Trickster tends to be like this. A forest inside the house? Doors that lead nowhere? Rooms that look like they came straight out of an Escher painting? Windows that open to the void of space? One level of his very prominently features a river that flows uphill (including reverse-waterfalls), and at one point flows along the ceiling.
  • Wario Land 4: The Big Board level, where every single thing that happens relies on the dice blocks found in the level, and getting certain numbers can result in anything from being struck by lightning to enemies appearing to being set on fire.
  • Weird Dreams takes place inside the mind of a dying man under daemonic influence. Expect lethal candy floss machines, flying desert fishes, giant insects, bloodthirsty toys, bloodthirsty vegetation, a bloodthirsty little girl and what some fans refer to as embodiment of MS Windows 3.x.

    Web Animation 

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: While the world is more of a World of Weirdness, The Radical Lands is a world that seems to abide primarily by a combination of Rule of Cool and Totally Radical. As it turns out, the radicalness of the Radical Lands is so powerful that some of its energy bled into another universe. Specifically, the world of Dr. McNinja, which lies right between the Radical Lands and our universe, thus explaining the mix of mundane and weirdness of the world.
  • Axe Cop: Everything that happens is driven by whatever seems cool to its six-year-old writer.
  • Zebra Girl: The Subfusc, especially because of its inhabitants. When you have anthropomorphic psycho rabbits, nonsensical talking spiders from the moon and a flying doggy-snake thingy who is literally attracted to crucial moments, marriage proposals and other life-altering decisions, you begin to get the idea that this place is just downright bizarre. As for the location in itself, it quite obviously doesn't follow the usual laws of physic, and people there are able to float (not fly) if they let go of their concerns. There is also a place dedicated for people who feel at their lowest, adequately named "The Pit", and an healing river made by the flow of time... you get the idea.

    Web Original 
  • Addventure: The three adventures degenerate into madness very quickly, considering that they're Round Robins contributed to by thousands of various people.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: The setting itself is a straightforward World of Weirdness, but the characters' adventures also take them into full Worlds of Chaos. The Nightosphere, a hellish world over which Marceline's demon father rules, is explicitly stated to thrive off chaos. Most of Hunson Abadeer's job (which also became Marceline's job when she briefly wore his evil amulet) involved ruling over their realm like an Obstructive Bureaucrat, dishing out pointless rules and cruel tricks on apathetic and confused demons.
  • Several cartoons by Aleksandr Tatarskiy, including:
    • Last Year's Snow Was Falling: About half of it is the protagonist's daydream, about as much is the protagonist irresponsibly playing with a magic wand of transformation. The rest includes horse becoming a turnip, fir trees pretending to be deciduous (so that they wouldn't be cut for the New Year) and the protagonist drowning the (fake) end credits so that "no one will be any the wiser" (or "FINs sleep with the fishes" in another translation).
    • Plasticine Crow, specifically the third segment Or maybe... Or maybe.... The narrators are trying to recall the story as they are telling it, and the visuals reflect that. A crow keeps becoming a dog, then a cow, then a crow again. A temperate forest becomes tropical. A pound of cheese fits in an airmail envelope. A janitor hatches out of an ostrich egg.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Elmore. Its population consists mostly of Animate Inanimate Objects and Cartoon Creatures with the occasional Funny Animal thrown in here and there, despite every other city shown being dominated by humans, and even the non-anthropomorphic objects and animals are still sapient and talk. Furthermore, even the tiniest things can cause massive disasters, the most extreme example being "The Job ", which shows that anyone can destroy the Universe just by behaving in a very unusual manner.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Every individual in Miseryville is a Cartoon Creature and the sky and water are red for no apparent reason despite being blue elsewhere. Those are among the least conspicuous aspects. Completely justified though as Miseryville is strongly implied to be Hell (or something akin to a cartoon version of it) with the Cartoon Creatures being demons and monsters, and the "water" is really just a case of Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid. Word of God even says that all the one-off bizarreness in the show is created by Lucius Heinous VII's immense reality warping powers.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Discord attempted to turn Equestria into a World Gone Mad on several occasions, and the Pocket Dimension where he's made his home is an even more extreme variant of that. The Alien Sky is a mix of constantly shifting blue and purple, the few pieces of land are floating in chunks and come in colors and patterns that soil and grass have no business coming in, the gravity is largely optional and inconsistent, and some very weird fauna is seen flying around or lurking on the floating islands.
    • Discord's actual house is rather tame in comparison, though it still has some weirdness, like furniture on the ceiling and upside-down stairs that lead to nowhere. It's also in the little details, like the window cleaner leaving wetness behind rather than removing it, or bunny-shaped dust bunnies sitting under the couch. When Discord washes dishes, he does it in reverse — the dishes go into the sink clean and come out dirty.
    • Discord's house reappears in Season 7, when he invites Fluttershy over for tea. Its weirdness has visibly grown, with the house now including features like an upside-down volcano on the ceiling and swirling purple portal to... somewhere in the center of the floor. In his rush to make everything more normal for her, he organizes the realm of chaos, and this starts to make him disappear, because a being and realm of chaos cannot survive with too much harmony. It takes Fluttershy re-disorganizing everything again to save him from vanishing out of existence.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series:
    • "The Magicks of Megas-Tu''. The planet Megas-Tu is totally chaotic, and the only order is that imposed by its residents, the Magicks. Because of the time they spent on Earth, the things they create resemble those from Earth's past.
    • "The Jihad": The so-called "Mad Planet" may not technically violate any physical laws, but it undergoes constant radical geophysical changes combined with unpredictable weather.

    Real Life 
  • Dreams. You could be in the strangest, oddest, most bizarre circumstances of your entire life, and yet you just accept it all as completely normal. This can be played around with in lucid dreaming, where you're aware that you're in a dream, and shape it to your will. It's still a World Of Chaos, but now you're in control.
  • Hallucinations, especially drug-induced.
  • Any story and/or larger-scale art created by small children, as they understand some things (things fall, the sky is up, people meet, etc.) but not larger-scale connections. If they attempt to create something big, they will inadvertently just throw in elements they know randomly... even if the world, stories, animals etc. don't work that way. This explains for example Axe Cop.
  • While still adhering to the rules of physics, NASA and other agencies have found planets that are as close to this trope in Real Life as possible. One of them for example is so hot that its atmosphere contains liquid silicates and also has winds raging at over 500 kilometers per hour. In other words, on that planet it rains molten glass sideways.

Alternative Title(s): Chaos World