Follow TV Tropes

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


Nightmare Fuel / Tomb Raider

Go To

Across all the games

  • Core Design's games paid a lot of attention to the death animations, and the player is often treated to several seconds of Lara writhing in agony/burning up/drowning/turning to gold/stabbed with 6 swords/getting mangled by a T-rex, etc.
    • Falling onto spikes in games pre-AOD shows Lara being painfully impaled through whichever region of her body she landed on. You're then forced to watch her slowly slide down the spikes.
    • Diving/falling from too high is universally represented by breaking bones and an unnaturally-twisted neck.
  • Drowning is particularly more graphic in the newer games.
  • Winston, Lara's butler, followed her around in II and III when you played in her mansion, leading to some scares (and possibly Accidental Pervert). He also got in the way a lot, so many players ended up locking him in the kitchen freezer.


Specific games

    open/close all folders 

    Tomb Raider (1996)/Anniversary 
  • The centaur statue in Tomb of Tihocan, which explodes with absolutely no warning to reveal the skinless Atlantean demon beneath it, which then lets out an otherworldly scream as it starts shooting exploding balls of muscle at you.
  • The Hand of Midas, a stone hand apparently broken off a big statue that turns Lara to gold starting at her feet if you stand on it. By the sound effects, she dies of suffocation just before her head is transformed. You need to use the hand to solve a puzzle. Original-to-Video Game Remake comparison.
    • Even worse, if you happened to have been playing the 1996 original, it's possible that when it first happened you might have missed the name "Midas" inscribed on the base of (what's left of) the statue due to the pixelated graphics and the hand and a nearby boulder obscuring it from your peripheral vision. The fact that the "statue" apparently wasn't rendered anywhere above the calfs and instead ended at the ceiling likely didn't help either.
  • Since this game doesn't really change facial expressions, Lara can die and then just... stare at the camera with her usual, serious expression if the camera is positioned right. It's incredibly jarring.
  • Some decorative objects in the levels were billboarded 2D sprites rather than 3D models. Meaning that when Lara moved, they would appear to spin around to face her. One especially jarring instance of this was a sprite of a mummified corpse seen in the Tomb of Qualopec.
  • The huge drop in the final two levels which gives poor Lara time to scream three times before falling to her death. Oh yes, and the floor is made of magma that causes Lara's corpse to burst into flames as soon as she hits it.
  • In the Tomb of Qualopec, the room with the Scion piece, Qualopec's skeleton and his two mummified bodyguards can be seen on one side of the room. If Lara goes over to investigate, she'll notice that raw muscle is sticking out of the wrappings, foreshadowing the reveal of the Atlantean race. She'll also quickly notice that one of the mummies is turning its head to look at her. If she approaches it, it...falls over. This, with no background music at all.
  • The oversized rats that usually manage to sneak up on Lara are unnerving. They have a hideous screech and an unpleasantly wet 'n crunchy sound effect when you kill them.
  • The mummified creatures in the Egyptian levels, as well as the regular Atlanteans, are incredibly unnerving - even when they aren't actually attacking Lara. You can hear them stalking around, just out of sight, and uttering creepy, raspy groans. They're also fond of unexpectedly leaping around corners at Lara, shrieking, which usually succeeds in giving the player a good old Jump Scare.
    • The design of all Atlanteans is pure Body Horror. Strange, contorted creatures that mostly lack skin and instead expose their raw muscle, and explode into bits after being shot to death. Even the non-antagonistic ones seen in cutscenes look like this.
    • The now-primitive graphics in the first game actually makes things worse because you couldn't see the mummified creatures clearly. You look at them and think "What the hell is that?" And the groaning...
  • The various Atlantean creatures bursting out of their eggs. The fact that not all of the eggs explode when you approach them (some explode much later on, others do so when you pull a wrong lever in one particular puzzle) makes the sections of the game with the eggs even more tense.
  • The Abomination. A large, legless creature with random patches of skin, and just barely enough muscle to function. Watching it shamble about by its arms trying to catch you is as sad to watch as it is horrifying.
    • Lara's death at the hands of the Abomination. It grabs her by the leg (and she is clearly terrified,) then proceeds to wreck her stuff by smashing her against the floor three times (all the while you hear her bones breaking with each hit). Once the Abomination notices Lara is dead, it casually drops her body (which is now mangled enough that it contorts upon impact) to the floor. The scene plays out like a child trying to quiet a noisy toy by breaking it, which makes for some Fridge Horror as to the Abomination's mental state. Observe.
  • The Playstation 1 versions were (comparatively) barely graphic when it came to Lara's many deaths. When it came to Tomb Raider Legend and the remake Anniversary, the death scenes were ramped up if players failed to keep her alive in a Quick Time Event. One example, which is somehow violent without any bloodshed, is Lara being flung into the air by a T-rex and then being eaten alive in one gulp.
  • The Lost Island is pretty creepy in Anniversary—the flying demons were already bad, but where they come from...
  • Natla's knife welding, trench coat wearing henchman Kold, who has one white eye and speaks in a low, threatening voice.
  • The original Lara Doppelganger, A.K.A Bacon Lara which is basically Lara without any skin. It copies your movements perfectly, and acts as a puzzle, since you can't get past it by shooting it (try to, and it retaliates by zapping Lara). It's very firmly within the Uncanny Valley. In Anniversary, it not only looks more realistic, but the means of dispatching it (tricking it into jumping into a vat of lava) causes it to flail in a clear panic and scream in pain.
  • Just the way death by Falling Damage is represented in the series. "CRUNCH!"
  • The revised soundtrack for the PC version which cut out all of the musical cues from the PSX version, leaving only a few unnerving ambient sounds. This combined with the low draw distance ensures that Nothing Is Scarier starting right from the very first level.
  • Out of the Core Design games, TR 1 has the creepiest level ambiances.
    • Peru: mostly silence, broken by low drum beats and strange rushing sounds
    • Greece/Rome: howling winds
    • Cistern/Natla's Mines: strange shrieking sounds and water drops
    • Atlantis: low, steady heartbeats, ominous chanting, Jump Scare-worthy sounds of machinery
  • The original game lacked proper skyboxes due to engine limitations, resulting in a pitch-black sky that could easily be mistaken for a cavern ceiling so high that the surface can't be seen. Not that knowing you're really outdoors helps much.

    Tomb Raider II 
  • The Jade Swordsmen in the Floating Islands. Notable in that they slowly fly through the air towards you with an unsettling droning noise, and can be even more unnerving if you can hear them but can't see them...
  • The soundtrack alone for II... here's the one in particular that used to make the Floating Islands level so much worse.
    • In the Maria Doria levels, the main ambiance for the level features silent water drops and heartbeats. It's actually the ambience theme from Atlantis in the first game, which is equally or more creepy.
  • Most players when they get to the end of the first level will use a zipline to cross a massive pit and reach the finish. More inquisitive players may decide to climb down and check out what shiny powerups could be down there. When you finally get off the cliff and onto the pit floor, as you're about halfway across the pit, a T-rex pops out of the cave in front of you.
    • Then, should you kill (or just run past) the T-rex and find the secret hidden at the back of the cavern and start to run back, a second T-rex appears.
    • Even better? Unless you're using your flares, the cave is almost completely in the dark.
  • The spiders in Tomb Raider II are quite creepy, what with how they tend to suddenly appear and the loud shuffling sound they make as they move around. The giant ones in the Temple of Xian level are much, much worse. And they're encountered in a dark cave filled with huge webs.
  • The giant eel in the Living Quarters level. It only appears once, but it comes out of nowhere & does huge amounts of damage.
  • The yetis in the Tibetan levels, hulking creatures that have loud stomping noises and loud roars.
    • Especially when you encounter them in a temple that is completely dark.
  • 40 Fathoms. The level starts with Lara swimming at the bottom of the ocean in near-total darkness, with no way of surfacing for air or obvious means of escape while her Oxygen Meter rapidly drains and sharks are circling her. It's panic-inducing even if you know where to go. It also gets bonus marks if you've been using the level skip cheat to casually pass through the game, since you can only input the cheat when you're on solid land.

    Tomb Raider III 
  • The Damned; they say they are immortal and have tried suicide to no avail, along with the fact you have to find embalming fluid to stop them rotting, which is scary in itself. There's also Lara shooting them in the previous level, when using bullets it can be assumed they just got up later or something, but she can also blow them up with explosives, which comes with the idea that they are still fully conscious while blown to pieces.
  • The Temple Ruins where you go into a room and find one of the explorers suspended in midair with a hole through his chest. Cue scary music.
  • The Shiva Statues in the Temple Ruins. The first one encountered is an inanimate stone sculpture, holding up its 6 swords menacingly with an unsettling Slasher Smile on its face. In the very next room, Lara finds another statue...which glows with a strange orange mist, then promptly comes alive, turns completely black with red eyes, and chases her around the room with its 6 swords.
    • The second time they appear as enemies, the player might try to find a safe spot by climbing a set of stairs and taking refuge on the higher ledge. Not a wise choice, as the statue is savvy enough to climb up the stairs after Lara.
    • Lara's death at the hands of these statues. They pick her up using the pointed ends of two swords, use the other four to slash her to death and throw her on the ground. The statues laugh wickedly as they do so.
  • The Xenomorph-esque enemies towards the end, who spit blue fire and take several rocket and grenade blasts to kill.
  • The unfortunate RX-Tech scientists, who have mutated horribly as a result of the energies from the meteorite. They come in two types: those who still look vaguely human aside from the fact that their legs have fused together and they can spit poison, and those who have become gigantic brutes who can pummel you to a pulp. The very first encounters with each type are huge Jump Scares, and the first type comes with a Scare Chord for good measure.
  • One particular room in the RX-Tech Mines forces Lara to slide down a long slope into a pitch-black room with steam rising out of grates on the ground. A giant mutant rushes out of the hallway as she approaches it. After defeating the mutant, Lara must go into the pitch-black hallway from whence it came and crawl under the grates to pick up some items. As she does so, the player gets to watch another giant mutant run by right above Lara, enter the hallway, then wait patiently right outside the crawlspace for her to emerge.
  • Tomb Raider III, more so than the other games, often played a jump-out-of-your-seat musical sting to shatter the ambient silence before rolling a boulder or similar trap towards you. Sometimes, it would pop up for no apparent reason.
  • Some of the sound effects in the game are Pulling the switches that raise/lower the water level in London's water tanks produces a noise that does not sound anything like water flowing.
  • Also, the second-to-last level, the Lost City of Tinnos, has the creepiest, most unnerving ambience of any level in the game. Fittingly it's a remix of the Floating Islands theme from Tomb Raider II.
  • Area 51, which has creepy ambient noises that you don't know the source of, cryo-frozen aliens, and the big, devoid-of-enemies UFO hangar.
  • The appearance of the final boss, Dr Willard mutates into a creature that combines Body Horror, Giant Spider and My Brain Is Big into an unholy combination.
  • Towards the end of the All Hallows level, Lara swims through a set of flooded tunnels riddled with floating corpses.
  • The end of the level "Coastal Village", where Lara ends up finding a mercenary who had his leg chewed off. While there are plenty of cannibals around, Lara notes that they don't eat down to a person's bones. As they continue to have their discussion, the tribal music starts and steadily gets louder. The mercenary mentions that the cannibal tribe's god lives up in the hills. Guess where Lara's heading next?
    There's something spooky in that jungle.

    Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation 
  • In the Cambodia levels, Lara finds many skeletons of unfortunate explorers, and later finds one impaled on some spikes near a plinth, with its backpack in a hand (which Lara takes). Lara is just a teenager when she witnesses all of this.
  • Von Croy being trapped in the Isis' defensive mechanism (and the tomb sealing itself afterwards). From the looks of it, he was trapped there for many, many years, as the next time he is seen is after Lara becomes an adult and completes her last 3 adventures at least.
  • For some reason the first level's ambience is a remix of the Floating Islands theme. This has predictable results.
    • On that note of disturbing ambience, there is a track that plays in several areas, notably the Tomb of Semerkhet, that is incredibly unnerving to listen to. It's a sinister-sounding low tune that is interspersed with heartbeats, something banging against a metal rail repeatedly, and inhuman shuffling. This is the track in question.
  • In the first level, if Lara dawdles too long at the first slope, a jarring cutscene plays showing the point-of-view of an unknown creature swooping towards Lara, while strange wailing sounds play in the background. Turns out the creature is just a rabid dog.
  • The "entombing of Set" cutscene shows him placed in a sarcophagus, as a spiked ceiling slowly descends onto his body. The camera cuts to the drains on the contraption, through which blood now freely flows.
    • When Lara herself finds this area and takes the Ankh, blood again flows...filling the pools in the next room. Lara can swim in this blood. Perhaps this scene served as inspiration for the 2013 version...
    • The mummies in the same room as the blood pools. They're impossible to kill and make a noise that sounds like the unholy cross of a death rattle and vomiting. But the creepiest thing about them? It's very easy to miss, but if one looks closely, like the falling mummy in the first game, their heads follow Lara's every move.
  • Tomb Raider 4 has giant scorpions in later levels.
  • Towards the end of the game, things begin to get much darker. By the time you are in the last few levels, the sky has turned to an unearthly shade of dark green to make it clear just how bad things have become. The enemies also go from being largely human and animal enemies, to undead beasts and mythological monsters.

    Tomb Raider Chronicles 
  • The entire Black Isle level. From the heartless corpse hanging from the tree to the pale imps that would follow you around.
    • The hag in the page image deserves special mention. It is a creature that zealously guards a certain item, and when you try to approach said item, it grabs Lara and hammers her stomach with its elbow, forcing a return to the surface for air. You have to trick it into a cage at one point, which results in it getting taken out of the water and eaten alive by the changelings, which you don't get to see by virtue of the camera angle but can certainly hear.
  • Whatever The Spear of Destiny does. It's never really shown what exactly its power is, but it is implied that it is terribly destructive and, worst yet displays some sort of intelligence. On top of that, all we ever really see is a creeping white light, but whatever the characters that encounter it see visibly terrifies them.

    Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness 
  • Karel invading Von Croy's apartment, violently dismembering him, and sticking his glove into the body to retrieve...something while Lara is knocked out on the floor.
  • The near invincible sea creature found in the Bio-research Facility and Aquatic Research Area. It can't be killed without using an large amount of ammunition, is incredibly fast, and has an unusual looking mouth full of sharp teeth just waiting to gobble you up.
  • Wandering the deserted streets of Paris at the beginning while that ominous music plays in the background is quite unnerving, especially since you've been hearing about the Monstrum and have no idea where it might be.
  • Coming across one of the Monstrum's victims in Bouchard's hideout. The loud gurgling noises he keeps making will give you nightmares for weeks.
  • The Brother Obscura/Red Ghost in the Hall of Seasons level. The groaning he makes is quite scary, and if he even touches Lara, her health depletes.
  • Bouchard's death, warning Lara that she is not safe from the Monstrum, no matter where she hides. Lara is visibly freaked out when she discovers his body.
    Lara: What the hell’s going on around here?!
  • At one point in the Strahov Fortress, Lara witnesses Luddick being brought to Eckhardt, having been caught loitering around the loading zone. Amid pitiful pleas for mercy, Eckhardt reaches up to Luddick's face with his glove...and his death isn't pretty.
  • Kurtis' two levels mix gritty, disturbing horror with constant paranoia fuel. Throughout the abandoned prison facility, there are shackles, dirty wooden benches, rusty cells, rotten smears of brown food-like material on the ground, and the crazed, deformed prisoners with whips for hands...interspersed with dead soldiers, whose bodies have recently been ripped open by a creature you can only hear bounding around in the ventilation shafts.
  • The deformed prisoners in the Sanitarium. It doesn't help that they run at you pretty fast. The clawed ones in the Maximum Containment Area are even worse.
  • The fate of Boaz and the resulting boss battle against her.

    Tomb Raider Legend 

    Tomb Raider Underworld 
  • The Kraken. The whole level around him is filled with Paranoia Fuel: you have be super careful and if you touch him, you're dead. The fact that you first meet his tentacle underwater (and you must follow it) and the noises it makes only add fuel to the fire. Get too close to it and it will actively chase you down.
    • That's to say nothing about the way Lara dispatches it: she winches a giant platform with sharp spikes on the bottom into the air, then shoots the supports, causing the spikes to impale the Kraken- including its eyes- and force it to write in agony for several seconds before finally succumbing. In the HD version, a large amount of its blood spurts into the water while this happens.
  • The new doppelgänger; it breaks into Lara's home, steals the Wraith Stone, detonates the mansion, and kills Alister with ruthless efficiency. It turns out to possess superhuman speed and reflexes, and very nearly kills Lara the second time they meet.
  • Amelia's fate after being locked up in the underworld for twenty-odd years.
  • In the 360 expansion Lara's Shadow only, Natla's ultimate fate, while cathartic, is far more horrifying than simple death...

    Tomb Raider (2013) 

    Shadow of the Tomb Raider 


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: