Follow TV Tropes


Wretched Hive

Go To
Gin Lane: Not a good place for a holiday.

"Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."

Take the worst, grimmest and darkest side of society, give them a place where all their sins are given free roam to be expressed, collect it into a system that can just barely sustain itself and you get the Wretched Hive.

It will be a mostly lawless setting, usually (over) populated by criminals and outright run by Totalitarian Gangsterism. There may be no actual government in this Wild West or Scavenger World because it is miles or light years away from civilization, and if there is it's probably a Dystopia that's corrupt, incompetent, obstructive or perhaps just uncaring enough to not bother to spread its reach to all corners of society. Many officials are corrupt, such as Dirty Cops. If this hive has any truly good authorities, expect them to be extremely overworked, incapable of controlling the skyrocketing crime everywhere, and just too idealistic to change things. And that's if the setting has any functioning government at all. An alternative is to have it as a gang-like system ruled by a mob boss, Big Bad or Evil Overlord who allows evil, but only to a certain standard. It could be truly lawless with no authority other than the big stick you carry with you.

In many cases, the economy is no better. If this is true, facilities are usually falling apart, and the subways and buses are often full of crooks and junkies. And they're always late. Any schools in this place will almost inevitably be impoverished or sadistic. The roads may be cracked and broken, with a Trashcan Bonfire every fifty feet or so. Many buildings have been abandoned, to be occupied by vermin, hobos, or criminals. Decent, well-paid jobs are rare. Housing (if you can get it) is unsafe, filthy, and overcrowded. In short, poverty is the norm, not the exception.

However, prosperous and affluent settings can also qualify as this trope. While people are more likely to be in decent financial shape, don't expect things to be any better in terms of morality. At most, there's a pleasant façade to conceal the rot within. Sleazy, immoral decadence is frequently rife, and may not even be particularly hidden—if it is at all. Non-impoverished examples are arguably worse, ethically and morally speaking, since the inhabitants don't have deprivation as an explanation for the things they do.

This lawless setting is often wonderful for allowing all varieties of creativity, ideas and/or tropes to flow in, be played and interact in interesting ways, and many plot conveniences that the protagonists need to get away with doing active work rather than just handing problems over to the police or running into Fridge Logic when they don't get arrested for taking the law into their own hands, while there are several takes on all sorts of unlawful or devious acts. Gangs, cons, gambling, underground fighting, rampant prostitution, a thriving Black Market (ranging from one guy with some watches under his coat to a literal market), jaywalking and many more. This can be portrayed as anything from guilty fun or the inevitable underbelly of humanity to constant danger. The heroes can always find some misdeed around them to solve and the villains will have little problem finding a safe hideout or Bad Guy Bar to get together and plot schemes.

The Wretched Hive has a few Sub Tropes in increasing size:

  • Den of Iniquity: A room in the Big Bad's lair where the mooks get to indulge in various forms of debauchery.
  • Bad Guy Bar: A tavern of ill repute where the crooks get together to scheme or get a drink. The tenuous peace is only held together by The Bartender and his Bouncers. Bar room brawls and aggressive drunks optional.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: When New York City is presented in a form where it has become a wretched hive. This NYC may also use the muliple sub-tropes on this list.
  • The City Narrows: The back alley to the entire town; a small section of a city that has a bad name for a good reason and gets avoided by decent folk with any sense.
  • Dying Town: A town or city whose reason for existence disappeared a long time ago and left behind those who couldn't get out; when you have a lot of poor, desperate people in the same place, some of them will inevitably turn to crime, and that same desperation will also bring plenty of other social problems.
  • Failed State: A nation or municipality whose government has been pushed to the brink of collapse, leaving it at the mercy of crime, poverty and general lawlessness.
  • Hellish L.A.: When Los Angeles is presented in a form where it has become a wretched hive. This LA may also use the muliple sub-tropes on this list.
  • No-Tell Motel: A motel that serves as a nexus for all sorts of criminal activity and as a place for fugitives to hide out for a day or two. The owners don't care — as long as people pay and don't create too many problems for them, they'll happily ignore whatever goes on there.
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor: A port, harbour or coastal town that has fallen into wretchedness due to the flux of sailors and pirates and the sort of rough entertainment (booze, gambling, prostitution) they desire.
  • Outlaw Town: A settlement run by criminals, for the benefit of criminals.
  • Red Light District: A street, block, or even complete district of a city devoted to prostitution and other illicit trades.
  • Soiled City on a Hill: A city so far gone it is beyond saving. Wipe it off the map and start again.
  • Urban Hellscape: A glimpse 20 Minutes into the Future where violent crime rules the streets and police are either incompetent or have to be even more brutal to stop it.
  • Vice City: An entire urban sprawl that has fallen to wretchedness including its authorities which provide little sense of escape but also little constraint. Often overlaps with City Noir.

See also Gangster Land, City Noir or Industrial Ghetto. When Real Life New York City is portrayed this way, it's The Big Rotten Apple. Has nothing to do with bees.

Often paired with Crapsack World, but differs in that while the setting is less than ideal, the people in it need not be unhappy or universally sociopathic, nor is the worst result the most likely to happen. For cities which literally look like hives, see Hive City; notably, Hive Cities also tend to be Wretched Hives more often than not.

Opposite of the Sugar Bowl and Utopia in general, and Shining City more specifically. If the Wretched Hive improves over time, then it becomes a Heel–Face Town.

If an example fits into one of the more specific sub-tropes better, please list it there, rather than on this page.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Underground from Attack on Titan is an abandoned settlement built in caverns beneath the Capitol, and a place where the most destitute struggle to survive. Overrun with criminals and those with nowhere else to go, it is a place even the military avoids whenever possible. Levi grew up there, and describes it as a trash heap he and his friends were desperate to escape.
  • The fictional Thai city of Roanapur from Black Lagoon is regarded as the criminal capital of the world. Having four criminal organisations (The Mafia, The Mafiya, The Cartel and the Triads) sharing the city is bad enough, but just add up all the other crime groups that come there... Hell, even the protagonists are scum! In short, you do not want to be there.
  • The city that Alka visits in Episode 2 of Blade & Soul, and the one Karen runs a restaurant at. At one point, a guy dies on the street, only for a nearby guard and then several other people to start searching for valuables on his body.
  • The Zaraki region of Soul Society in Bleach. When the Blood Knight comes from there and treats slicing up people and smelling like blood as everyday activities, that's because there's a really bad place. Makes one wonder how Hell would be...
  • Case Closed: The City of Belka is the murder capitol of Japan, if not the (In-Universe) world, with the occasional Mad Bomber (and the Kaito Kid on a heist) running around for a change and the Black Organization terrorizing from the shadows (and Conan Edogawa always in the midst of it all). Off-shoot manga like Detective Conan: The Culprit Hanzawa exaggerates it for laughs, with the population of the city mostly Conditioned to Accept Horror.
  • Night City in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is just as awful of a place as it is in the game it's based on. It's plagued with crime, violence, and corruption on all levels of society. David is even warned by his fellow edgerunners that he cannot trust anybody in the city.
  • Lost Angels in Heavy Object is almost completely overrun by four criminal gangs which are actually fronts for spies from the four superpowers, and they're not shy about using military hardware against one another. The remainder of the population consists of actual criminals profiting off the "gang" wars or people effectively exiled from the rest of society.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood gives us Ogre Street, a fictional section of London. The first thing Jonathan Joestar sees when he enters is a stray cat eating a puppy. Right after that, he's beset by some of the locals, who aren't much friendlier. Upon hearing that Jonathan went there, Dio Brando (who also went there to acquire some poison) decides that he won't need a murder plot of his own, as the aforementioned locals would do it for him. Unfortunately, Jonathan is far tougher than the first group that comes after him, and his chivalry is enough to impress Speedwagon, who dedicates himself to helping Jonathan.
  • In the English translation of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Kereellis, the sock-puppet from outer space, complains once that the Russian night club the group visits once is not the wretched hive of scum and villainy he was promised.
  • From One Piece:
    • Since the World Government only controls one Island there, the second half of the Grand Line, dubbed the "New World" controlled by the Four Pirate Emperors, is rather chaotic.
    • For an example in Paradise, you need look no further then Mock Town, on Jaya. While pirates have the run of the town and often engage in piratical past-times like picking fights and killing each other, they tend to leave the regular townsfolk alone, if only so there are people to buy food and booze from. Also, the fact that said pirates spend money like water means that the economy is booming.
    • Sabaody Archipelago, while has lovely shopping areas and a thriving theme park, has a "Lawless area" where crooks and slavers operate uninhibited. After the Time Skip, during which the Navy moved their headquarters to the other side of the Red Line, the size of the lawless area increased.
    • Fishman Island has the Fishman District, an area underneath Fishman Island proper (The "Island" is encased in a gigantic bubble), where the New Fishman Pirates have set up base. It was supposed to be a home for orphans, but quickly fell into disarray. King Neptune has the entire district closed down when it becomes apparent that the negative environment was what contributed to the New Fishman Pirates' warped mindsets.
    • In SBS Vol. 104, Eiichiro Oda finally explains Eustass Kid's home island. It turns out, it's not a place one would want to live in. Why? Because it is an unnamed island unaffiliated with the World Government, making it a lawless place taken over by gangs instead of Kings or Queens. The place was divided into four districts and each one was under the rule of a local gang; Kid was the leader of one gang district while his 3 current crewmen (Killer, Wire, and Heat) were leaders of the other three.
  • Subverted in Princess Mononoke. When seen for the first time, the Ironworks are a bunch of grey roofs and tall smoking chimneys crowded together on a small hill surrounded by heavily barbed barricades inside the rotting stumps of a razed forest. But once Ashitaka gets inside, the steel workers are astonishingly well mannered and cheerful people who hold their equally charming director in very high regard.
  • Kyoto in Sengoku Komachi Kurou Tan has apparently been this since the Onin War. Every new warlord to take the city often let their soldiers rape and pillage as they will, leading to a rise in banditry and vagrancy. Nobunaga wishes to put a stop to it and appoints Shizuko to restore public order.
  • Lux in Texhnolyze is this trope. The parts of the city that aren't in the control of three vicious gangs struggling with each other are in hopeless squalor, and the "normal" populace can easily be more dangerous than the gangsters in those parts.
  • In Tokyo Shinobi Squad, Tokyo has become this following Japan's attempts at super-globalization. It's riddled with massacres, terrorists attacks, organized crime, and corruption. It has the highest crime rate in the world and people freely hire shinobi as assassins, bodyguards, and spies.
  • In the final arc of the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, the origin of the seven Millenium Items is revealed: they were created from a ritual using the bodily components of all the inhabitants of Kul Elna, a village entirely comprised of thieves, murderers, and other evil-doers. Unfortunately, this results in a few problems: First, due to the process that created them, the seven items are slightly tainted with darkness. Second, upon learning that an entire village (evil or not) was sacrificed to create them, Yami's father, the current pharaoh, became sick with grief that led to his death. Also, there was one survivor of Kul Elna, Bandit Bakura, whose rage and grief over his village's destruction enabled him to be used as an Unwitting Pawn by Zorc the Dark One.
  • Crashtown in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds. This was originally founded as a mining town to mine a precious mineral called dyne which is used to build D-Wheels, but was eventually taken over by two criminal gangs, who fought each other over the mining rights, eventually using dueling to conscript members into slave labor. The whole arc shows that there is No Honor Among Thieves when Yusei is used as an Unwitting Pawn for one of the leaders to win the conflict, only for him to be double-crossed by his brother. (At the end, the whole roster of Team Satisfaction comes together to bring the criminal rule to an end, making the conclusion both symbolic and satisfying.

    Comic Books 
  • Angel & Faith: Faith name-drops the Trope Namer when she and Angel investigate such places, including a demon bar where Harmony is stripping. Faith looks on in envy.
    Those are so fake.
  • Aztek: Vanity City. It's explicitly stated to be worse than Gotham. It is hinted that most of its buildings have Alien Geometries that increase violent tendencies in their inhabitants. The town turned its resident superhero from Captain Patriotic to a '90s Anti-Hero.
  • Batman:
    • Gotham City. Comic writer and editor Dennis O'Neil has described Gotham as "Manhattan below Fourteenth Street on the coldest night in November" — only year-round, and on the scale of a city. (For context, recall what a Wretched Hive New York was in the early 1990s, when O'Neil wrote that.) It is such a wretched hive that, in DC/RWBY, the Grimm have been able to cross over into that universe after sensing how bad it is.
      • In the New 52 continuity, Gotham's miserable state is partly due to the influence of the Court of Owls, a secret society that relies on Gotham being a Wretched Hive to maintain their power. They are devoting all of their resources and risking their own secrecy to getting rid of Bruce and his associates because Bruce's work as Batman and as Bruce Wayne might actually make Gotham a better place.
    • Even worse was Bludhaven, the focus of Nightwing, a city 30 miles out of Gotham that seemed to pick up all the filth that Gotham was too saturated to hold. Eventually it got nuked during Infinite Crisis.
    • It's been stated that one of the reasons Superman Stays Out of Gotham is because there's so much lead in the buildings it makes it difficult for him to use his x-ray vision. Given that, it seems very plausible that a significant portion of Gotham's crime rate is due to a significant portion of the city's inhabitants suffering from lead poisoning.
  • Coryana, an island nation that serves as the setting for the first arc of Batwoman (Rebirth), is one of these, and has even been described using the full Star Wars quote by the writers.
  • Supervillainess Bomb Queen rules over a city where she has outlawed superheroes and crime is more or less part of daily life.
  • New Hong Kong, in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire. It has one Law Drone, but since New Hong Kong has no laws, it spends a lot of time meditating up on a tower. New Hong Kong may have only one law ("There shall be no laws on New Hong Kong") but it has a great many customs, and the populace enforce them so effectively that it's actually quite peaceful — in the same sense that Ankh-Mopork is peaceful under the Thieves' Guild. Or as the residents of New Hong Kong put it: "There are no laws here. That doesn't mean that there aren't rules". Some of these customs include Everyone Is Armed and the New Hong Kong Wake, which involves drugging your dead friend/relative's killer with Truth Serum to get him to confess then leaving him to die of an overdose.
  • Dark Horse Comics Comics' Greatest World setting had two:
    • Arcadia, the setting for X (Dark Horse Comics) and Ghost. Arcadia is an orderly, smoothly run machine of a city. This is a world of shadow, danger, and bloody retribution. It is a city of corrupt officials and organized crime. The policemen who are not on the take are criminals in their own right.
    • Steel Harbor, the setting for Barb Wire. The city was based on a combination of Detroit and Watts during the period of their 1960s riots, only in the comic the violence is between superpowered gangs fighting for turf.
  • Copperhead: The Bastion out past the last vestige of civilization is a loose settlement/fortress composed entirely of criminals that have been exiled from everywhere else.
  • Doctor Who Magazine: In "The Cornucopia Caper", the Doctor visits Cornucopia, an entire planet ruled by an alliance of different criminal guilds.
  • Snowtown in Fell is described as a "feral city" where nearly all infrastructure has fallen apart.
  • The island of Kaloo in the South Pacific visited by Indy in The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #23. Marcus summarises the place to Indy thusly:
    "There's a mosquito-infested jungle island in the South Pacific called Kaloo. The Dutch had an outpost there but gave it up as dead loss. It was then taken over by an island drifter and a bunch of drunken sailors."
  • The planet Garnet, aka Hellhole. So bad that the local Green Lantern, Jack T. Chance, still uses lethal force (just not through the ring since they're programmed to not do that).
  • Cynosure from Grim Jack, where all the dimensions meet. In many dimensions you need to hire a bodyguard/private cop or a whole private army. Or just be a total badass.
  • Mega-City One from Judge Dredd is permanently suffering from criminals with military-grade weaponry. One might be able to go so far as to say EVERY Mega-City is one of these. note 
  • Legion of Super-Heroes gives us Rimbor, the homeworld of Legionnaire Ultra Boy. Yes, the planet is a Wretched Hive.
  • In The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, the town Dawson evolves into one during the height of the gold fever. The local mounties keep far away from the town, citing that: "There's only twenty of us!" Don Rosa makes a disclaimer in his foreword that the real Dawson City was in fact remarkably peaceful and law-abiding place for a town founded in the Gold Rush thanks to the efforts of the Mounted Police, and that apart from the name the town in the stories is based on its counterpart on the United States' side of the border, Skagway, which in contrast lacked any kind of law enforcement.
  • Lucky Luke: Several Far West towns (notably Fenton Town) that Luke usually brings back to the law.
  • In Magic Powder, Thesz used to be a glorious City of Adventure. Now it's a run-down dump, a "crumbling pile of garbage stacked on top of a graveyard". The only thing it has going for it is that it isn't ruled by elvish law, which isn't much compensation considering how many goblins and orcs now inhabit the place.
  • Shareen in Pathfinder: Worldscape is the capital city of an alternate dimension populated by killers, fighters and thieves from all over the multiverse, usually the worst of the worst make their home here and they prey on the weaker all the time. The only reason it isn't a completely lawless state is because its governed by a Decadent Court who is just as bad as their subjects and the local faith is a repressive Religion of Evil that takes its job very seriously in rooting out heresy and the guilty are forced to fight in the arena.
  • The Question: Hub City, which can legitimately claim to be worse than Gotham and Bludhaven put together. It was actually so bad that he was convinced that he had to leave for his own sanity and that's saying something.
  • Sin City. If the name was no indication, the fact that it was based on the worst parts of Las Vegas, LA, New York, and Chicago should fill you in.
  • Downlode in Sinister Dexter is one that covers most of Central Europe.
  • 1980's British science fiction comic Starblazer:
    • Issue 194 "Cabel and the She Warrior". The planet Netherworld is populated by thieves, murders, sadists, terrorists, arsonists and the infamous Vytronian Slavers.
    • Issue 208 "Planet of the Dead". The planet Vegas Prime's entire surface was covered in all manner of vice dens and it is home to various criminals both petty and serious. Law enforcement is thin on the ground and murder is commonplace.
  • Madripoor is one of the X-Men's choices when they need a Wretched Hive. Marvel's version of Singapore — sort of — how much it fits the Trope tends to ebb and flow. It certainly did in the past, being a haven for pirates and other outlaws, and in the present day it can vary depending on who's in charge. Regardless of who's in charge, the place does not extradite criminals, and seedier parts of it are thick with crime and lawless activities.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dogpatch, the setting of Li'l Abner, is described by creator Al Capp as "an average stone-age community nestled in a bleak valley, between two cheap and uninteresting hills somewhere." An extreme exaggeration of burlesque stereotypes of Appalachia, the place is a ramshackle backwater town full poorly made log cabins, neglected turnip farms and hog wallows, and half the inhabitants are lazy, dirty, ignorant, and with a few exceptions, ugly; the other half are scoundrels and thieves. The place was founded by Confederate General Jubilation T. Cornpone, a woefully incompetent general and notorious coward. (The statue in the town square was donated by a grateful President Abraham Lincoln, as said incompetence was a key factor in the Union's victory; Dogpatch residents are proud of this.) Of course, there's a good reason the town was designed this way. As the strip was introduced to the public during The Great Depression, Capp used it to let Americans laugh at people worse off than they were.
  • Calia, the so-called "Republic of Desperados" that was founded by escapees from Devil's Island, appears in the Modesty Blaise serial "The Jericho Caper".
  • Thimble Theater has Skullyville, a town in the Old West that's full of bandits, horse thieves, and the like. Shootouts and bar fights are commonplace in Skullyville, and the local sheriff is so surprised when Popeye allows himself to be arrested that he forgets he no longer has an office, as it was torn down to expand a gambling hall.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm mentions the famous Marvel example, Madripoor, which receives mixed descriptions - it's a place apparently well-used to weirdness (when Brother Smith of the Askani, who's short, grey skinned, with eyes like a chameleon, first appears, it's stated in passing that while he'd stand out in most places, in Madripoor they apparently see stranger every minute). It is also apparently a magnet for nastiness, going by the fact that Nicodemus, a 2000 year old genocidal maniac and leader of the Denarians, who sees apocalypse as "a state of mind") has been setting up shop there. By the sequel, he's its effective ruler - and per Clint Barton, who compares it with a mixture of Vegas, Mos Eisley, and Tortuga, going into detail about how governments rise and fall like dominos and everyone from the cartels, the triads and the Russian Mafiya, to the likes of HYDRA and the Hand, all have or want a piece of the pie (even Magneto was in charge for a while in the 80s)... with all that in mind, someone like Nicodemus doesn't even lower the property values.
  • An important detail in the backstory of the Black Lagoon fiction "Cold Guns" is the subversion (leading to eventual defiance) of Roanapur's reputation as this kind of town — after the various insanely violent high-profile slaughters that have taken place in the series, the Thai government has finally had enough and sent the army to bring order back to the city by any means necessary. While Balalaika is a hard-core Blood Knight enough to decide to stand and fight the government, all of the other organizations that called the city their home (most importantly Lagoon Company) decided that discretion was the better part of valor and left while the leaving was good.
  • The Dark World segments of Dungeon Keeper Ami have a certain vibe that reads like this. Actually played with to some extent- the waylaying, slavery, debauchery, and general amorality aluded to is pretty typical and even expected of the underworlders. Further enforced by the various cults of the Dark Gods. Some of the cities are actually fairly clean, leading to Vice City feel.
  • In Everqueen, Chtonia is depicted as a heavily polluted ruin ruled by gangs.
  • In Fallen Kingdom, Roy's Neon City is the heart of the Koopa Empire's vice, with casinos, bars, and other nightlife attractions running 24/7. Wario runs a similar cabal underground, built on money and greed.
  • In the eyes of the Psyche Master in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, Smurf culture in general is seen as this.
  • In Gensokyo 20XXV, we have "The Forbiddens", which are considered to be a no man's land, and, compared to the rest of the setting, these are the worst places to be, especially if one be woman or child.
    Amoridere: The Forbiddens is where the worst of the crap that tends to occur in this society occurs. Women and, sometimes, children are sold into prostitution where they tend to die and children are traded for just about anything or killed just because, as well as the fact that most of those areas are laced with various traps, the which of include landmines, snares, bear-traps, and vicious dogs, on top of the fact that those areas are best know for their pollution and toxins, as well as its corrupting influences.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction:
    Apple Bloom: This is my kinda town. Dark, crowded, full of ponies that aren't you two nut jobs.
    • In the Winningverse, and particularly in The Freeport Venture, there is Freeport, a Not-So-Safe Harbor run by a cabal of greedy merchant-princes, with guards so corrupt they are expected to supplement their income with bribes, and a haven for mercenaries, spies, and legalized piracy. Since it sits on an archipelago right between Equestria, Gryphonia, and Zebrica, none of those nations can make any move on it without the other two seeing it as a threat, which is what allows it to remain a Wretched Hive.
    • The Borderworld has Dragonfall, described as the murder capital of Equestria, which plays this trope for laughs.
  • Honnouji Academy in Natural Selection is just as chaotic and violent place as in Kill la Kill proper, but worse. All forms of crime, especially wanton murder, are heavily prevalent, the entire place is ruled by The Caligula, and Life Fiber experiments that result in all kinds of Body Horror happen in the background. As Ira Gamagoori puts it, what was once meant as a shelter from the madness consuming the world is now a den of Life Fibers consuming everyone within and driving them mad.
  • Season 2 of The New Adventures of Invader Zim introduces the planet Slumia. Due to being of little importance to the Irken Empire's military-industrial complex, instead being mostly used as a dumping ground for the civilian population, it is overcrowded and underfunded, being left with crumbling infrastructure and a powerful criminal element. In fact, it's established that outside of the small portions of the planet under direct military control, it's controlled almost entirely by the Green Claw Syndicate.
  • In The Night Unfurls, Ansur is described as a criminal underworld where crime is rife in spite of the periodical cleanups from Maia and other mercenaries.
  • One Hell of an Afternoon: Brockton Bay is even worse than Gotham, its dimensional counterpart, to the point that Taylor practically considers being in the latter a vacation, as much as it hurts Robin's home-town pride to think about. Knocking gang members off the streets is basically hero training wheels in Gotham, and Kid Flash notes that a lot of Gothamites actually take pride in it.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines portrays the Orre region this way. It's a barren wasteland where only the strong survive, and Cipher pretty much controls it. Agate Village is one of the few safe havens where they don't have any influence.
  • Similar to the anime in the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds fanfic, Outcasts (5D's), the Satellite is a broken down slum of crime and poverty suffocated under a totalitarian police rule, with conflicts between Security forces and gangs being very frequent. Aki's first experience in the Satellite is her getting caught in the crossfire of one such altercation. It's revealed in Rex Goodwin's narration that this was actually invoked by his predecessor, who dropped the Neo Domino's criminals onto the island and perpetuated the belief that all Satellite residents were dangerous.
  • With Pearl and Ruby Glowing takes place in the fictional Calisota City, which has a massive issue with sex crime. And that's not even going into the regular crime, the city being under control by the mob, corruption running deep into the local police department, and a religious cult that tortures, rapes, and even murders people that don't align with their fundamentalist viewpoints. Gets a Lampshade Hanging from the ad for a local personal injury lawyer: "It's Calisota. We should be in your speed dial."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The unnamed city where American Nightmare (1983) takes place is a seedy, decaying place where crime and prostitution run rampant and where the police are too apathetic to do anything about it.
  • Spoofed as Sogo the City of Sin in Barbarella. Since it was made in the 1960s for general release, the evil shown on the screen mostly consists of people in weird costumes looking darkly at the protagonists, plus some very mild bondage games. And women smoking from a giant hookah with a man floating in it.
  • Subverted in Battle Beyond the Stars when the hero lands his spaceship on the Planet Of Lawless Hats only to find the local worlds have raised an army and cleaned it out.
  • The Blue Iguana: As Vince and the boy drive into the crime-ridden Mexican tax haven of Diablo, they pass several dead bodies, two people doing a Super Window Jump while fighting, a man getting shot and then robbed, and a man being beaten while lying down.
  • St. Petersburg in Brother (1997). One of the songs of the movie's soundtrack has line "this city of murderers, the city of thieves and whores". Truth in Television for Ex-USSR during the Nineties.
  • Candyman: The Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago are the main setting, and the fear and desperation of the inhabitants give supernatural power to the title villain.
  • Casablanca:
    • As a way-station for people from all over Europe who hope to escape the Nazis, it has acquired a strong criminal element, whose police force is headed by a self-described "poor corrupt official". Ferrari, the head of all illegal activities in Casablanca, is "a respected man". A pickpocket swipes a man's wallet while warning his mark to look out; "There are vultures, vultures everywhere!"
    • Rick mentions it would be a bad idea to try conquering New York for this reason. The Germans simply wouldn't stand a chance against the local population.
  • The title ghetto in City of God — a place controlled by drug gangs where little children murder each other in the streets.
  • Red and the Blackwater Gang turn Edendale into one in Dead in Tombstone, even changing its name to Tombstone.
  • District 9 in the film of the same name is this all over — an alien ghetto of makeshift shacks whose inhabitants are listless, unemployed and often criminal, nominally run by a corrupt multinational but infested with gangsters, and the only authority is backed up by sadistic mercenaries. To get that authentic feel, the movie was filmed in a real-life Johannesburg slum.
  • Dodge City: A title pronounces Dodge City "the town that knew no ethics but cash and killing." A montage of gun duels and brawls and gambling houses follows. The main street is called "Hell Street". The citizens eventually look to Wade to clean up their town.
  • In Dust Devil, Bethany is shown to be little more than a wasteland full of human suffering, which is why it's such a perfect hunting ground for the Dust Devil, since it likes to pick off those who are ready to die.
  • Los Angeles and presumably all major cities in Elysium.
  • Escape from New York can qualify as well. Technically, in this film the island of Manhattan is a prison if you observe it from the outside, but if observed from the inside, it's a Wretched Hive. The film was shot in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. and East St. Louis, Illinois, the former of which was a real life wretched hive at the time (the area has since been cleaned up and restored) and the latter still is.
  • From Hell paints a grim picture of London around 1888 (especially Whitechapel, which, like St James was seen as The City Narrows in real life).
  • In the Australian film Gabriel (2007), after lucifers forces take over, Purgatory is transformed into an impoverished, filthy city swathed in perpetual darkness.
  • Gangs of New York: 19th century New York City is one of these (At least in the Five Points and Bowery neighborhoods, which are just about all we see).
  • San Venganza from Ghost Rider (2007) was so corrupt that all 1,000 of its inhabitants willingly sold their souls to Mephisto.
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night has "Bad City", an Iranian oil town which has rampant crime, no apparent police force at all, and a ravine that is permanently full of freshly-dumped corpses.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): The Knowhere space station, a severed Celestial head located at an unspecified place just outside of the galaxy. It's a port of call and observatory for intergalactic travellers, and it also serves as a mining colony for various valuable materials that are sold on the black market.
  • The Troll Market in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
  • Hobo With a Shotgun's setting of Hope Town, aka Scum Town, Nova Scotia, is an impoverished hellscape overrun by dirty cops and gangsters.
    I hate to tell you this, but if you grow up here, you're more likely to wind up selling your bodies on the streets or shooting dope from dirty needles in a bus stop. And if you're successful, you'll make money selling junk to crackheads, and won't think twice about killing someone's wife, because you won't even know it's wrong in the first place.
  • The New York City of the real world is portrayed this way in Last Action Hero. Two people are shot dead in the middle of a public street, with bystanders visible in the background, and one of the shooters takes the time to shout to the rooftops that he did it and wants to confess. The only reaction is someone yelling at him to shut up.
  • The railhead town of Hell on Wheels visited by the Lone Ranger and Tonto in The Lone Ranger.
  • In The Man from Kangaroo, Braggan and his gang have declared the small town of Kalmaroo a 'no preaching' zone and driven out every churchman who has attempted to establish a church there for two years.
  • Naked Lunch is mostly set in a fictitious North African port called Interzone, a Vice City dominated by the drug trade and the history of colonialism. It's also full of giant bugs, because it's a very weird movie.
  • In Never Grow Old, Garlow starts to turn into this after Dutch Albert and his gang settle in town, reopen the saloon and import a wagon-load of whores.
  • In One Foot in Hell, Mitch heads to Royce City, a disreputable border town, to recruit the criminals he needs to pull of his scheme of revenge:
    Mitch: Well, everything's set on his end. Now we tie up the other end.
    Dan: Where's that?
    Mitch: The border - Royce City.
    Dan: That hellhole? There's nothing there but lice!
    Mitch: That's what we're looking for, isn't it — human lice?
  • Tortuga in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
  • Indonesian action flick The Raid is set in a rundown apartment in the slums of Jakarta, controlled by a drug lord and populated by his soldiers.
    • The Raid 2: Berandal has a somewhat wider scope than the previous film, showing us the mansions, restaurants, and upscale clubs where the crime bosses pass their time — but even these luxurious places are filled with danger.
  • Sodom and Gomorrah has... well, Sodom and Gomorrah. The film was made in 1962, so the filmmakers couldn't be overly explicit in depicting the cities' sexual depravities (the most we get is some leering and hints that the queen has both lesbian and incestuous inclinations), but the fact that the citizens watch slaves being tortured to death for entertainment and would rather murder each other for valuables than escape the destruction of their city paints a vivid enough picture of just how horrible they are. The longer the Hebrews stay in Sodom, the more corrupt they become, until they slam their doors against the revolting slaves led by Ishmael instead of offering them sanctuary, and when Ishmael is brought before Queen Bera, none of the Hebrews present — not even their leader, Lot — intervene on his behalf.
  • Star Wars:
    • Mos Eisley from A New Hope, the trope namer. On a broader scope, the planet Tatooine. It's ruled by the Hutts, a race of gangsters. Every single city — not just Mos Eisley — is shown to be incredibly hostile and filled with criminals. As far as natives go, take your pick. You've got the thieving Jawas or the Always Chaotic Evil Tusken Raiders. Or The Empire. The Trope Namer is oddly inverted in The Star Wars Holiday Special, where the Cantina is more Cheers than a wretched hive of scum and villainy. It's also downplayed or even outright averted come The Mandalorian (which is set shortly after the fall of The Empire), where much of the population has seemingly emigrated from the port city and the Bounty Hunters Guild has abandoned its station on the planet.
    • The Prequel Trilogy has the lower levels of the city planet Coruscant like this.
    • And the Expanded Universe has Nar Shaddaa, a moon of it. This is because it orbits Nal Hutta, homeworld of the Hutts. As Cad Bane describes Nal Hutta, everyone on the planet is likely a criminal.
    • The Last Jedi has a double-subversion in Canto Bight. According to Rose, it's a hellhole filled with the vilest people in the Universe. However, when Rose and Finn get there, it's a beautiful luxury resort. Finn is enamoured, but Rose points out two stark truths: the laborers' lots are as bad or worse than in the more conventional hellholes on the Outer Rim, and that the only way anyone gets these levels of rich in this day and age is from war profiteering.
  • Streets of Fire: The unnamed city that the work is set in.
  • The title village in Village Of Tigers is a haven for bandits, marauders, and killers to gather around where they can organize raids on passing merchant caravans, stage ambushes and lure unwary travelers into their taverns to be mugged and killed.
  • Valley of the Fangs is a haven for bandits, marauders, assassins, brigands and all sorts of evil-doers, which nobody dares to enter or risk getting robbed and murdered. A band of heroes must infiltrate it, however, in order to recover an important scroll for taking down an evil tyrant.

  • Titan, the official setting for the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, has a couple of these.
    • One of the most notorious is Port Blacksand, well-known as the City of Thieves. It is a ramshackle collection of pirates, thieves and murderers who'd slit their mothers' throats for a few copper pieces (if mommy didn't get them first).
    • In the Sorcery! spin-off, Kharé is called the Cityport of Traps. A debauched collection of cultists and slavers of every conceivable race, who only manage to live together without killing each other because their city is the only thing resembling civilization in a wild, hellish wasteland.
  • Lone Wolf:
    • Ragadorn, main city of the Wildlands. It's a big commercial hub, but it's also teeming with thieves and cutthroats. The lord of the town and his Secret Police are no better.
    • Vakovar, in Magador, even more so. At least by the time Lone Wolf visits it, it's full of brigands. The worst part is that the current state of affairs is apparently an improvement over what it was like back when the Darklords were still in power.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrowverse:
    • Arrow: Starling City was like this before Oliver returned to set things right. Most of the city was controlled by corrupt businessmen, a lot of the most beloved people in the city were also horribly corrupt (just better at hiding it), and the Glades were basically a third-world country. The Arrow and his team improved things by taking out major power players and cleaning up the streets, but the various supervillains who keep nearly destroying the city repeatedly complicate their attempts to improve things.
    • Batwoman (2019): Just like almost every depiction of Gotham in any other media, be it comics or other adaptations. However, this Gotham is actually worse than usual, since Batman has been missing for years and Wayne Enterprises has collapsed in his absence. This is even used as the excuse for its previous Writing Around Trademarks treatment in the 'verse, as the place is such a hellhole no one ever wants to even talk about it. The rich travel in armored jeeps and have heavily armed escorts while shopping, any newcomers are mugged by thugs with military hardware, and while the cops aren't actively violent against prisoners, they are aggressively apathetic.
  • Channel Zero: The Butcher's Block neighborhood of the city of Garret is a sacrifice zone which is completely rundown, with little-to-no infrastructure or police input, with criminals and crazy people all over the place. And that's not even getting into the Cannibal Clan of Ax-Crazy murderers running around abducting and eating people.
  • Crime Scene: The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel: The docu-series focuses on the death of Canadian tourist Elisa Lam at legendary Hell Hotel The Cecil. The documentary makes it clear that rather than supernatural forces, the dark events at the hotel are fueled by its location on Los Angeles's poverty-stricken Skid Row and the hotel being a No-Tell Motel. At the time of Lam's death, part of the hotel had been rebranded as a hip hostel catering to foreign tourists like Lam who had no way of knowing what a wretched hive they were walking into.
  • Deadwood: Deadwood itself. Eventually gets a telegraph, employs a sheriff and elects a mayor. Remains a place where the preferred way of getting rid of inconvenient corpses is by feeding them to Mr. Wu's pigs.
  • Game of Thrones: Quite a lot of King's Landing in the Crownlands can be said to be this underneath some lovely or even outright stunning architecture, in a Stepford Smiler kind of way. Flea Bottom, however, doesn't try masking what it is, at all.
  • The eponymous city on Gotham is this by definition. When the mob controls the cops, you know things are going to be ugly. Of course this is to help tie it into the Batman mythos.
  • Justified: Harlan County is the rural version. The sheriff's department is on the take, the economy depressed, and the when it comes to employment the choice is between criminal gangs and families like the Crowders and the Crowes, or the brutally oppressive Black Pike mining company. The Miami cartel, the Detroit Mob, and the latter's Dixie Mafia subsidiary all have their tentacles in the region, further worsening the violence and the crime rate, as different factions within them jockey with each other and local criminals for control of the county. That's not even mentioning the town of Bennett, which is ruled by the eponymous Bennett clan, who use the town as a front for their marijuana operation, or Noble's Holler, an all-black community that keeps their racist white neighbors at bay by playing the rest of the county's gangsters off against one another. We've yet to meet anyone from Harlan who isn't caught up in illegal activity of one sort or another, and the efforts of the protagonists seem to do little beyond creating swiftly filled power vacuums.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: In the Law & Order universe, Hudson University is such a known hotbed of rape and rape cover-up that the R.A. of the victim in "Pornstar's Requiem", season 16 episode 5, tells the detectives he knows better than to ever take one of his students' rape complaints to campus officials.
  • Masters of Horror: In "Imprint", the remote island is "only inhabited by demons and whores".
  • Parks and Recreation: Played for Laughs with the fourth floor of Pawnee City Hall, which is incredibly creepy and houses all of the terrible departments like divorce filings, probation, and the DMV. To put it into perspective, the fourth floor has a room that specifically keeps the knives that have been confiscated from people who go up to the fourth floor to stab someone. As a whole, Pawnee itself averts this (despite being a relatively run-down area) and is primarily portrayed as being a Quirky Town.
    Leslie: They put a popcorn machine up there just to brighten things up, but they used the wrong kind of oil and a bunch of people had to get their throats replaced.
    Tom: I hate the fourth floor! Last time I was up there, I saw someone buy crystal meth from a vending machine! It's a bad place!
    Ethel: Try not to move things around, 'cause technically speaking this is still a crime scene.
  • Power Rangers in Space and Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: There's the wretched hive planet, Onyx. Well, it has this reputation, at least; for budget reasons we only ever see one town and its Bad Guy Bar.
  • Revolution: All cities apparently became like this after the Blackout: "If you were smart, you left the city. If you weren't, you died there."
  • The town of Riverdale. In Season 1, it was depicted as a quiet small town rocked by the shocking murder of maple syrup heir Jason Blossom. From Season 2 onward, it has become an epicenter of organized crime, supports multiple gangs, has serial killers, cults, rioting in the streets, been quarantined for weeks... In-universe all of this has happened within about a year and half, which is the fastest community decline you would see outside of a war zone!
  • Star Trek: Picard establishes that the Romulan Neutral Zone collapsed after the destruction of Romulus. Without any official form of law enforcement, the whole region has devolved into anarchy and is crawling with warlords and criminals.
  • Taboo: London is basically this, with the debauched excesses of the aristocracy, the brutal intrigues of warring nations, and the wealth, power, and privilege of amoral corporate executives serving to crush the common people beneath the heels of their masters.
  • Titans (2018) seems to have a Running Gag about how awful Gotham is every time it's mentioned or visited. Whole regions of the city are no-go areas, there's a nightly curfew and Barbara Gordon is police commissioner because no-one else wants the job.
  • Trailer Park Boys: Sunnyvale trailer park Nova Scotia, a mockumentary about three career criminal conmen, and their kin. This property is supervised by a drunk deranged discharged cop and his dimwitted obese underling. Overrun with feral children who randomly throw bottles at residences, and 3 career criminals who naturally cause hilarious hell during the course of the season which revolves around that seasons "Big Dirty" (career heist).
  • The Wire: Averted Trope. While the lion's share of the show takes place in neighborhoods of Baltimore where everyone is either a drug dealer or a drug addict, the show takes time out to illustrate there are nice parts of Baltimore. Furthermore, the series takes a close and careful look at how such disparate places can be so close together and yet so far apart. As Bubbles says when riding with McNulty in Season 1, "Thin line 'tween heaven and here."
    • In Season 3, Major Colvin's "Hamsterdam" — a project wherein he essentially legalizes drug usage in three designated areas in the Western District — shows what happens when you concentrate all West Baltimore crime in one place.
    • In the Season 4 premiere, a lecturer is giving a presentation to Western District cops on counterterrorism. Santangelo isn't too impressed by the lecturer, eventually interrupting to say, "No disrespect to your appendix, but if them terrorists do fuck up the Western, could anybody even tell?" which draws laughter from the other cops as they take their turns poking jabs at the counterproductiveness of counterterrorism training in their district.

  • In the Alestorm song "Nancy the Tavern Wench", the eponymous Nancy's tavern is such a hive.
  • The world set in "The Money Store" from Death Grips seems to be this, and at the same time it manages to be a blast to head-bang to.
  • Guns N' Roses' song "Welcome to the Jungle" also depicts a Wretched Hive. In fact, the line "You know where you are? You're in the jungle, baby! You're gonna die!" was said by a cab driver to Axl Rose during a trip to visit a friend.
  • Mötley Crüe's song "Wild Side" takes place in a Wretched Hive.
  • Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera depicts New York City as a grim and miserable place filled with criminals, drugs, and Apathetic Citizens who will watch a man die rather then help.
  • The street in the Space song "Neighbourhood" is definitely one. It's got an Omnicidal Maniac, an Ax-Crazy vicar and a family of criminals, amongst others.
  • Suede's "We are the Pigs" is set in a distinctly dystopian city.
  • The song "Night City", by The Sword, is about such a place — a metropolis on the dark side of a tidally-locked planet, ruled by slavers and pirates.
  • Warren Zevon's Transverse City, which opens:
    Told my little Pollyanna
    There's a place for you and me
    We'll go down to Transverse City
    Life is cheap and Death is free
  • "Colisseum" by Russian rock-band "Aria" depicts Rome as such:
    ''Crazy Rome was cursed by the gods
    City of cripples and widows yeah.
    People breathe in the toxic smoke here
    Cut their veins open with blades
    Here on holidays they go and watch
    People suffer and writhe in agony
    Ruthless death has its feast
    On the floor of the screaming arena."
  • Nas has described the Queensbridge projects and the greater New York City area as such in vivid detail in his music; most famously on Illmatic. And his rhymes were barely a mild exaggeration about the squalid and violent state of Queensbridge at the time. Constant shootings, gang warfare, drug abuse, and poverty were regular themes on Illmatic.
  • In Hell's Coming With Me by Poor Man's Poison, the town the song focusses on is portrayed as this, in addition to being a Town with a Dark Secret. The townsfolk are stated to "line their pockets full of money that [they] steal from the poor", which could imply any number of crimes from actual theft to extortion and corruption, probably a mixture of sorts. Apparently, the local preacher runs some sort of cult, and those who reject his teachings are killed and buried on the nearby hill. Several years prior, one of the townsfolk was badly beaten before being exiled for unknown reasons, swearing to return one day to take his revenge on the town. He ends up showing up one day, years later when nobody even remembers him anymore to take revenge on the townsfolk for all their misdeeds.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Hell is this in some interpretations, like "eternal separation from God". Believers consider this to be terrifying enough.
    • Sodom and Gomorrah from the Book of Genesis were considered so vile that nothing short of divine obliteration was enough to cleanse them. Sodom's population has been estimated by some to be between 600 and 1200 at the time of its destruction. And in all the city, not ten righteous men could be found aside from Lot, thus God destroyed it.
    • Nineveh from the Book of Jonah was a similarly wicked city. God told Jonah to preach the people there to repent, or else the city would be destroyed in three days. The king of Nineveh saw the error of his ways and told his people to mourn in sackcloth and ashes in hopes that they would be spared. God did not destroy the city, much to Jonah's chagrin. The last part of the Book of Jonah is God giving Jonah a big "The Reason You Suck" Speech because he would rather see thousands of people die than come to repentance.
    • After King Solomon's reign, Israel divides itself North and South, and lots of corruption and idolatry take place. And then it goes From Bad to Worse as they got involved in wars with neighboring nations such as the Assyrians.

  • The fallen space port of Svoboda in Nexus Gate fits the bill. It is controlled by crime syndicates and the playground of criminals of every stripe. Kovolis holds no stake in the port's ground.
  • Survival of the Fittest has this with Denton, New Jersey. Criminal gangs are everywhere in the city, which is practically run by the most powerful of them instead of by the Mayor himself, as the whole police force is either too corrupt or too inept to do anything. Like any other gangs, they've divided the city up between themselves, and they maintain a tense peace between them, as the bloodshed brought by a gang war is bad for business. Even then, though, shootouts and gang brawls are common, while anyone who sticks their nose in the wrong place turns up dead. This is considered highly unusual in SOTF's world, though, and no other city that has been seen is quite as bad as Denton. This came about as an attempt to justify all the gang members in Pregame, and the city apparently disintegrated into full-scale warfare after v2.

  • Fort Pike from ''The Hammer Trinity.
  • Thenardier's Inn in Les Misérables. Bonus points for the fact that Thenardier himself describes it as much in "Master of the House".
  • The title city of Kurt Weill's and Bertolt Brecht's opera, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.
  • The entirety of London in Sweeney Todd:
    There's a hole in the world like a great black pit
    And the vermin of the world inhabit it
    And it's morals aren't worth what a pig can spit
    And it goes by the name of London
  • Richard's explanation in Thrill Me of why he and Nathan wouldn't get caught if they murdered a kid is, "there's no shortage of perverts they could blame it on" — basically presenting Chicago as one of these.

    Theme Parks & Attractions 
  • The London Dungeon is about horrible things that happened in London, in times when the city was crime-ridden and quite unsanitary.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Mistral is home to Remnant's largest black market, a place to find illegal goods and hired killers, and the ideal place for "thieves and traitors" to hide due to the size of the kingdom and a lack of central authority making it difficult to enforce the law in the outer cities. That being said, the kingdom is still a place of high culture and technology, and for the upper class it is the fashion, architecture, and entertainment capital of the world.

  • Awful Hospital: The "community" living to the east of the Horrible Ghastly Death Woods, at least according to Celia and Balmer. Subverted entirely once we meet them.
  • Baskets of Guts has most of its story set in Ancard — a heavily urbanized city on a mountain with a population filthy enough to fit into Film Noir.
  • In Blue Yonder, Jared thinks he's been brought to one. (No cops. He overlooked all retired capes, though.)
  • The Ciem Webcomic Series features the cities of Craterville, Dirbine, and Viron. Contained therein are: Monsters, Mutants, alien gangsters, pedophile gangsters, serial rapists, international spies, thugs that break down motel room doors at random, arsonists, ex-government agents-turned-pedophile kidnappers, suicide bombers, debit card thieves, mass-murdering AI, and more. Guns (and darts!) are everywhere. Upon a visit, Miriam wishes to ask Candi: "How does anyone tolerate living here?"
  • Darths & Droids
    • Obi-Wan's well know quote about Mos Eisley is referenced in episode 59:
      GM: You walk into the town. It's a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
      R2-D2: Oh, how I love stock descriptions.
    • Picked further apart in episode 740.
    • Call-Back in episode 1564.
  • Erossus in Dominic Deegan. So kinky that you can buy little candies shaped like certain body parts and the police wear Stripperific outfits.
  • In Galactic Maximum, Earth, after the war.
  • In Inverloch, the early town of Rhyll is like this in its walled outer district. It's a de facto prison because the guards won't let any known criminals leave. (Varden, being among this group, attaches himself to Acheron and Lei'ella so he can slip out.)
  • The hinterlands from Necropolis. Remote countryside surrounding an old city that was ruined when the immortal rulers of the land conquered it centuries ago, it's a bad place for any human being to try to live. Human skulls are casually left alongside the roads, the ruined city has become home to devils that try to make bargains with anyone foolish or desperate enough (or both, as the comic's main character was), to come to them, the ordinary people live in poverty trying to eke out a living from the land, while bandits terrorize the countryside, free to destroy entire villages if they wish, and the area is so remote that despite all the powers of the Conqueror Queen and her husband the Seer King, their Magic Knight wardens, or the might of their armies, the people are left to fend for themselves as best they can.
    She was born in the hinterlands of the old necropolis, where the sky is gray, the days are short, and the wind rides bitter across the fields. Where folk fear the dead and despise the living. Where the broken wall of the ruined city does little to protect those without from the things within, and the sounds of their strange rites can be heard from leagues distant. In those days the Queen's Law was as brittle and thin as a shield made of leaves. Men in the hinterlands did as they wished and took what was in their power.
  • In Nip and Tuck, the Show Within a Show Rebel Cry features Midway, which is depicted as this in-universe, though it's not a bad place.
  • NonPack is a Mature Animal Story about anthro Gangbangers fighting turf wars in Rich Port, a World of Funny Animals version of Puerto Rico. It's depicted as a city where crime runs rampant and authority figures, from the barely visible police to a junkie priest, are ineffective and/or morally compromised.
  • The aptly-named Greysky City in The Order of the Stick. This strip tells you everything about how things are there, and it has a large and prominent Thieves' Guild that operates openly, with a sign and everything, and profits from protection rackets.
  • Haven Hive from Schlock Mercenary. Let's make a list: lack of any semblance of law with criminal gangs everywhere, check. A monopoly on medical treatment with legitimate doctors being forced to leave or killed, check. No OSHA Compliance with multiple highly flammable objects out in the open on a space station, check. People being kidnapped to be used to grow medical nanites for the medical monopoly, check. Fortunately Shep is now able to watch Pau and Shep's mother has taken over so it's become A World Half Full.
  • In Tales of the Questor, the Tumbledowns which is nothing but back alleys.

    Web Original 
  • Pretending to Be People features two:
    • There's The Den of Sin, where the rich and powerful watch people fight to the death and drink their blood.
    • There's The Scrap Pit, where more common people come to watch contestants fight against a suitably-terrifying opponent.
  • Rational Wiki uses the Trope Namer quote to describe 4chan.
  • After the events of Extermination in Worm, parts of Brockton Bay have become this. Imagine New Orleans right after Katrina, with super powered criminals and psychos who regularly steal supplies and worse. Then it went From Bad to Worse and the government considers condemning the entire area.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers had Tortuna. Nominally controlled by Her Travesty, though the Mooks are receptive to bribes. It's crawling with criminals of every stripe, and any human setting foot there at risk of being handed over to the local torturers to be mashed down for Life Energy. Yup, the heroes end up having to head there on many occasions.
  • Arcane: In contrast to the shining beacon on the hill that is Piltover, Zaun is depicted as this, with rampant crime, exploitation of the lower-class, prostitution, and oppression of the masses. It becomes even worse after Silco takes over.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender holds a few of these; the ice spring in the middle of the desert, the city of Ba Sing Se, the bar that Jun the bounty hunter is at, and the lovable port with the pirates. "Who's brave enough to look into this bag?"
  • The Boondocks: The neighborhood around Meadowlark Park in Woodcrest actually starts out as a decent middle-class community. Unfortunately, The Itis has such a toxic effect that the area turns into an impoverished (white-majority) ghetto almost overnight. The soul food turns its customers into fat, lazy junkies who become unemployed and homeless, so they resort to mugging other people just to get more Luther Burgers. The crime problem becomes so severe that police and emergency services refuse to go anywhere near the restaurant at night.
  • DC Showcase: Death takes place in Gotham City and focuses on a Starving Artist who gets fired from Arkham and spends most of the short in a rundown bar or his equally rundown apartment.
  • Futurama: Teddy Bear Junction, the worst scumpit in the galaxy!
  • Played with in Justice League: Superhero Hawkgirl's favourite bar is located in one of these.
  • Republic City from The Legend of Korra has a rather substantial problem with poverty, and some of the lower income areas are overrun with Bending gangs. This only gets worse once the Equalists get involved and launch an all out war against the city's Bending population.
  • Stormalong Harbor of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.
  • The Pirates of Dark Water: Janda Town — "Only the scum of the sea drop anchor here."
  • Episode XLV has the Scotsman takes Samurai Jack to one in order to restore Jack's memory, and he happens to have taken Obi-Wan's statement verbatim:
    Scotsman: Heckbucket Seaport. You will never find a more wretched dive of scum and villainy... and the crabcakes aren't bad either.
  • The Simpsons — The family visits New York City. According to Homer's flashbacks to his last visit NYC conformed to the trope. Every living thing was corrupt in some way. On his last visit, a random guy stole his camera, a cop stole his suitcase, and, while a pickpocket made off with his wallet, a pigeon stole his hotdog. On top of this, the teller he was reading at the time claimed that "crime [was] up eight million percent".
    Homer: And that's when the CHUDs came at me.
    Marge: Oh, Homer. Of course you'll have a bad impression of New York if you only focus on the pimps and the CHUDs.
    • Springfield is constantly referred to this.
    • Also, according to the "Oh Streetcar!" musical, New Orleans is the home of pirates, drunks and whores and tacky overpriced souvenir stores.
  • SpacePOP has the Vega asteroid, home to Renaldo's Roadhouse, a club full of lowlifes who dip bands they don't like in a boiling slime pit and trap bands they do like at the club to play forever.
  • Miracle City from El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, "a spicy cesspool of crime and villainy" according to the Opening Narration and is in fact the town's slogan. The nearby town Calavera takes it further.
  • Transformers has Kaon, the underbelly of Cybertron, where in several different continuities it is always the birthplace of the rebellions that later become the Decepticon movement, and typically houses a gladiatorial arena where underground blood sports are run. Megatron typically makes his name here as a gladiator before he becomes the commander of the Decepticons.
  • Brakmar in Wakfu is a place rife with criminal enterprise, violent shenanigans, and prostitution (yes this is a children's cartoon). The kicker is that this is a massive improvement over what it was like in the Dofus era before Sacrier tried to civilize the lot of them. It went from Commorragh to Gotham City.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Wretched Hive Of Scum And Villainy



Cowsick is an estate ridden with so much crime and poverty, that pedestrians are hijacked instead of cars.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / WretchedHive

Media sources: