Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Nightmare Fuel / The Bible

Go To
Welcome To Hell. Enjoy your stay.

WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.

  • EVERYTHING ABOUT HELL. You're conscious, but as an immobile and rotting corpse, blind and helpless in the empty darkness of a void deeper than space. You can't hear anything; you can't see anything. You're all alone. All you can do is cry weakly from hunger, thirst, pain, and loneliness. Worms burrow through your flesh; you can sense them chewing at your bones, gnawing them down incrementally. And of course, all the while your blind eyes and nostrils are burning with fire and sulfuric acid. It goes on FOREVER. Jesus said even the Too Kinky to Torture wouldn't be able to handle it.
    • This snippet of text affected Fan Fic writer and Troll Monica Gilbey Bieber so badly that he wrote a journal detailing his reaction to this, and compares it to scaphism, an execution method which in itself is Nightmare Fuel.
    • The thing that is truly terrifying about Hell is that its prisoners are tortured physically and verbally; you'll be reminded of your sins and that you had time to repent in your life but didn't. And no matter what you do you can't get out. Numerous depictions of Christianity state that even the demons are being subjected to the terrors of Hell. Why do you think Satan is out in the world (such as being in the desert with Jesus) tempting people instead of working from Hell? Because not even the dragon capable of flinging a third of the stars with its tail wants to be in Hell.
    • Advertisement:
    • And some saints hint that being in Hell is actually a mercy for unrepentant sinners. Being with God could have been much worse in their state.
    • One interpretation is that Hell is just a state of shame and separation from God. Though, eternal boredom wouldn't be much fun (who wants to live forever?), even that interpretation lends itself to some less than appealing psychological trauma. Shame and guilt can be very damaging to people, so imagine what an eternity of it can do to you. Or that you are confronted with Heaven and God and perfect love and happiness are real and knowing that you're never, ever, EVER going to experience it and it's your own fault. In this interpretation, the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" describes the anguish of those who realize they've screwed themselves over. Forever.
    • Advertisement:
    • There's even a somewhat popular interpretation of Hell as a place where you're completely alone, cut off from everyone and everything. This might be one of the worst possible versions of Hell. Just think about that seriously and literally: You'd be completely isolated from the rest of the universe...
    • Orthodox Christianity states that Hell is both a place and a state of person. And the fire? It's God's love. It gives the absolved the eternal happiness and brings the eternal torment to the damned. (Keep in mind that repentant Orthodox Christians can still be saved even if they committed mortal sins, the others' fate is at best unknown.) You should have freed your soul from sins and passions (inborn sins and sins that became habits).
    • How terrible is Hell? An angel came to an saint Orthodox Christian, who suffered greatly because of illness and prayed to the Lord for release. An angel came and told him that in order to be saved, he should endure another year in humility...or to suffer three hours in hell. It took one hour for this person to want to get out, as it was like a very long time. He chose to suffer the rest of his life on Earth.
    • The understanding of Hell as a place that is, simply put, REALLY AWAY from God, the source of Life, for those who always refused to come to Him. Worse than all loneliness, sadness, fear, shame, guilt, despair, hunger, thirst, etc., ever experienced by anyone in their lives, because even now we still have the gift of life and enjoy the universal blessings from God. (Reading Hell this way is mostly based on the Biblical time culture being an agonistic honor-shame setting, meaning sin is understood as an honor offense against God that must be repaid by shame, either Christ's or man's). The fact that it is described as fire, suffering, etc. here and there, would add to the gravity of such a state. We usually don't understand it because we fear pain more than we fear being forsaken by God, but remember Christ's words at the Cross: being forsaken by God was THE worst part of the Crucifixion (and the atonement part). It's serious.
  • God Himself. Hollywood Atheists say, "How can we believe in something we can't see?" Anyone who's read the Bible will tell you that merely looking upon God in our current mortal state is an instant death spell. That's actually a bit comforting, in retrospect, that we can't see God 'cause, otherwise, we'd constantly be blowing up.
    • God used to walk freely with Adam and Eve, but as sin corrupted man, man can no longer do that because God's presence kills sin. The implication? His mere existence forces your mind to be incapable of sin.
  • Satan, an incredibly evil being who hates everybody and everything and wants nothing but to see you suffer and he appears... as the most beautiful of all angels, so wonderful-looking you could be effortlessly tricked to worship him if you saw him. Faux Affably Evil at its best/worst.
    • Unless you're accepting an Alternative Character Interpretation, it's pretty obvious that Satan is evil. However, why he's evil is rather terrifying when you think about it. To oversimplify, humans are evil because of external temptation (i.e., Satan and original sin) and selfishness. Satan predates external temptation, and he must know that it's not in his self-interest to oppose God. He is, quite possibly, the only creature to choose evil against his self-interest independently of any external factor. Satan is a creature that hates good so much that he would do absolutely anything to distance himself from goodness. It is a very horrifying notion. And why does he hate everybody? He simply can't stand anything that reminds him of God or His creations. All his animosity is derived from nothing but spite and pride.
    • There is a story in Orthodox Sacred Tradition that tells that, one day, a demon came to a saint to ask if God could forgive demons. The saint prayed to God and an angel appeared. The angel rebuked the saint for asking him, as the demon was simply tempting him. Then it said that even Satan could be forgiven if they would repent...but they wouldn't. But in order to show God's mercy, God told the saint the means how the demon could save itself: If the demon repented, it would be saved. And what next? The demon laughed and mocked the saint for this advice on how to save it, as it considered itself too high and mighty to repent. In short, God gave His enemies a way out...and they refused.
    • One woman once asked John Chrysostom how many angels became demons along with Satan. He responded that all of humanity, from Adam and Eve to the last man, is just 1%. There are trillions of evil Eldritch Abominations here, hating all of us simply because we are made in God's image and constantly tempting us to sin. The only being that prevents them from totally killing us is God.
      • Only problem with that is there's nothing in the Bible that indicates that angels rebelled with Satan (or that Satan even rebelled at all) except a possible interpretation of the Mind Screw that is Revelation which was written decades after Jesus left.
  • Let us not get started on what the angels look like. There is a reason why they have "be not afraid" as their Catchphrase. Even the prophet Daniel nearly faints when Gabriel appears before him!
  • The Flood, anyone? Once you get past all of the animals that Noah saved, EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING ON EARTH died. All of the animals that weren't in the Ark drowned. Everyone that Noah knew (save his immediate family) drowned. After they got off the Ark, they were ENTIRELY ALONE IN THE WORLD.
    • Not to mention the smell. Forty days and forty nights (maybe more, considering how long it might have dissipated) of every living thing rotting in the ocean.
    • The creation of the rainbow deserves mention as well. After having wiped out the overwhelming majority of the human and animal population, God places the rainbow in the sky every time it rains—a covenant, in a sense, that He will never do such a thing again, but also a reminder that He is perfectly capable of destroying the world and He's done it before. Even better if you take the interpretation by a certain gospel song: "God sent Noah the rainbow sign: / No more water—the fire next time!"
    • How about the Antediluvian world? Genesis says that, before the flood, with the exception of Noah, every inclination of human thought was evil. One can only imagine what it was like to warrant an apocalypse.
  • Genesis 4, the first murder:
    Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
    Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"
    "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"
    The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground."
    • When Cain repented, God said whoever killed him would get seven times his punishment.
  • Sodom and Gomorrah. Theories about why they attracted God's wrath run the spectrum from "failure to show proper hospitality to strangers" to "attempted violent assault and gang-rape of strangers," but either way, it got nuked. With fire and brimstone. The only survivors were Lot and his daughters; his wife dared to look back and got turned into a pillar of salt for it. There are other times God smote His enemies, but this one wins out for sheer obliteration.
    • Not to mention that the two angels come to the city to see how good people were, and all the guys lusted after them. The angels then went to the Lot's house where, because of aforementioned lust for the angels, they asked for them so that they could have fun. Lot refuses and instead offers them his virgin daughters.
    • Worse still is when they escape and later live in a cave in the mountains that Lot's daughters get him drunk and have sex with him. Repeat: Lot is date-raped by his own daughters.
      • Although, this was not long after Earth was created and there weren't a lot of people on Earth to mate with. Cain, for instance, had to have had a sister with whom he had relations with as the Bible says he did indeed have a son and there were no humans on Earth aside from him and his siblings and parents. So such a disturbing case wouldn't have been nearly as forbidden or taboo back then as it is now. Still, it gives you a better feeling about living in today's era, what with all the madness going on in Biblical times that isn't repeated today.
    • It should be noted that the men weren't lusting after the angels. They were not homosexual men. As we see from other cultures in this period, it was common for men of a region to go to conquered people (or just people in the area) and rape them, just to prove that they could overpower them.
  • The Plagues of Egypt. River of blood replacing the Nile. Swarms of insects filling the air (multiple times!). Rain of hail-fire crushing the land. Pure and tangible darkness blinding the whole country. All topped by the death of the Egyptian firstborn; all these Egyptian children are completely innocent for the plight of the Jewish slaves, yet they are all killed by the Angel of Death (which deserves a mention itself).
    • Note that the way God hardened the Pharaoh's heart (so he wouldn't free the slaves) is a point of contention: Many scholars believe it should be translated as "The Thought of God hardened his heart." Still scary.
  • All the messed-up crap on Books of Kings makes Game of Thrones look like a picnic.
  • The death of Jezebel also deserves a special mention for sheer graphic description and squick-iness. First, thrown out a window, then run over by a chariot, and then eaten by dogs. Yikes. (This is, however, a Karmic Death. Jezebel was responsible for the introduction of that particular wave of Baal worship into Israel. Although there are a few quibbles about whether they are the same, Baal was sometimes called "Molech," and a part of the worship of Molech may have involved the sacrifice of children by burning them alive.)
    • One author believes that the details of Jezebel's death prove the story's authenticity as she would have worn lead makeup on her face and henna on her hands and feet which would have tasted bitter and been left behind by the wild dogs.
  • The story of Job. Sure he's gets back almost everything he lost in the end, but to simply prove a point to Satan, God essentially allowed Job's life to be destroyed. Those children who died? Unique people who you can't simply replace. The worst part is that God simply could have said "no" to Satan. Being an omniscient being, God already knew how that story was gonna play out yet He let it happen anyway...
    • This becomes a subversion if one believes in the afterlife. God doubles every property and wealth Job once had, except Job still gets 10 children instead of 20, perhaps one day, they might one day reunite.
  • The Book of Ecclesiastes, the Teacher, once a knowledgeable person who had everything, has to accept the futility of life and how meaningless it is, and is tormented by the very wisdom he has. He's been Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life, but he can't. Everything he has will one day fade away, everything he knows will become meaningless. And there's nothing new under the sun. And in the end, no one can tell what happens after death, or to comprehend the status of being non-existent after death. King Solomon really poured out his despair in this book.
  • Jeremiah 20:17: "Because he did not kill me before birth, So that my mother would have been my grave, And her womb ever pregnant." It's even more horrifying in context.
  • According to the New Testament, Satan does not rule Hell, but one day, he will be imprisoned there forever and ever. Right now, he is here on Earth...walking amongst us.
    Stay alert! For your great enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for whom he may devour.
  • The life of the Gerasene Demoniac, the Trope Namer of Voice of the Legion, must have been a walking nightmare before he was exorcised. This poor guy was possessed not by one demon, but by an entire legion of them, so many that, when they were driven out of him, they possessed an entire herd of pigs and fled over a cliff. He was tormented day and night while possessed, engaging in self-harm and begging to be put out of his misery. When Jesus finally came to him, he was so psychologically (and probably physically too) messed up that he was almost beyond saving.
  • The sheer torture that Jesus had to undergo before dying can make anyone shudder.
    • The real Nightmare Fuel is that crucifixion wasn't something they made up just for him; it was a common execution method for criminals back then, especially rebels and slaves. Though they did not generally make the criminals carry their crosses to the execution place.
    • What makes it worse? He knew not everyone would believe him, or that he existed at all. So, unless Inclusivism or Universalism are true....
    • The "Agony in the Garden" incident that happened before it makes the crucifixion even worse. It would be alright if Jesus was portrayed as an invulnerable divine superhuman (as some Gnostic sects do, having him switch himself out with a fake image of himself and laughing at his executioners), but this scene shows that, whatever his godly status, Jesus is a fully human man who knows exactly what's about to happen to him and is terrified of the agony he'll have to go through for people who largely despise him. He all but begs God to find some way around the plan set for him.
  • The Book of Revelation deserves its own entry. What it contains includes, but is not limited to: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (all but the first one is tasked with bringing death upon mankind, and the fourth one is Death itself), oceans turning to blood, a meteor (shooting star) falling on the rivers of the earth making the water poisonous, unworldly locusts with scorpion stingers capable of inflicting pain so much that makes anybody ineffectually suicidal for five months, an army of 200 million mix-and-match creatures and riders that wipes out a third of mankind, etc. Angels are as creepy as they ever be and even Jesus is described as a both someone who can produce a sword from his mouth and lamb that has a slit throat and multiple eyes.
    • The horrifying image of the moon being covered with blood. Sure, it could just be a reference to a lunar eclipse, which makes the moon appear blood red. However, when there's a lot of smoke in the air (as in a forest fire) the moon and sun also turn dark red. In other words this image could also refer to a terrible war; as a city burns, the air is full of smoke.
      • And even if it does refer to a lunar eclipse, take note that it's happening at the same time that the sun is going dark. A solar and lunar eclipse happening at the same time. Which, if you know your astronomy, you realize is impossible. At that point, you're lucky if it's just the backstory to Thundarr the Barbarian.
    • Satan's form during this time will be a dragon large enough to sweep one-third of the stars from the sky with a flick of his tail.

  • According to a study on Leviticus 18:21, the demonic deity Molech was worshiped by heating a metal idol of him to extreme temperatures and then placing a living infant on its outstretched hands, while the poor child's screams were drowned out by drumming until it burned to death. Yikes.
  • The second coming of Christ itself for a lot of entities. It starts with the Earth shattering so violently the mountains and islands vanish, along with the sun turning dark and the moon turning red, with stars falling from the sky and landing on Earth (sounds like asteroids), along with supernatural fire hot enough to incinerate this whole dimension aka heavens and earth, after the 1000 years of world peace. The world's two most evil people, who make Hitler seem mild, are put into the lake of fire, a realm no one wants to go to... and the majority of the planet's humans are slain and the birds feed on it.
  • The Wolverton Bible - Famous ''Mad'' magazine illustrator faithfully recreates scenes from The Old Testament. Wolverton paid great care to the scenes from Revelation. Pleasant dreams.
  • Leviathan, Behemoth, and Ziz deserve a mention, especially since a common denominator for all three of these things is that they're monstrously enormous. Ziz, however, may be the worst of the trio, since it's reputed to have wings large enough to blot out the sun.
  • The seven brothers and their mom mentioned in the Maccabeus book. Family-Unfriendly Death doesn't even begin to describe it.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: