Hell in popular culture

Hell is a common theme for entertainment and popular culture, particularly in the horror and fantasy genres where it is often used as a location.[1][2]


Cartoons, comics and televised cartoon seriesEdit

  • In the DC Universe, the character Lobo was banned from Hell, as he caused too many problems there, thus achieving immortality, as he was also banned from Heaven for much the same reason. Hell in the Sandman Series is run by a triumvirate of Lucifer Morningstar, Azazel, and Beelzebub. However demons like Belial and the Rhymer Etrigan scheme to get into the triumvirate. When the Fire of Hell is extinguished, an act of evil is required to reignite it. This is done by Eclipso slitting Enchantresse's throat. Hell is divided into Nine provinces. The Nine Provinces included Pandemonia, The Odium, The Gull, Praetori, Internecia, Ament, Labyrinth, Err, and Purgatory. Everything there is made from the damned. The rulers of Purgatory, Blaze and Satanus, lead a rebellion by offering hope to the hopeless, and finally Blaze betrays her brother and becomes Hell's ruler.
  • In the comic strip Dilbert (created by Scott Adams) "heck" is a lesser version of hell reserved for people who have done misdeeds that are not evil enough to warrant hell. Heck is ruled by Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light who carries a giant spoon instead of a pitchfork.
  • In the one-panel comic The Far Side (created by Gary Larson in the 1980s) Hell is featured among other recurring themes, depicting Satan and his minions as grim-looking figures in robes with horns and pitchforks, running the place in a business-like manner: in one instance, the bespectacled secretary behind the typewriter asks her boss seen as a silhouette behind the office door: There is an insurance salesman here. Should I admit him in or tell to go to Heaven?
  • In the television series Futurama, the characters go to Robot Hell on occasion, where the Robot Devil and other evil robots reside. The entrance is located in New Jersey.
  • In the comic book series Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze sold his soul to the demon Mephisto to cure his adoptive father from dying of cancer. In the recent[when?] revival of the series the Ghost Rider is seen residing in Hell to pay up his end of the bargain. Hell is depicted as a red desert with cannons and pools of lava. We see the devil as a powerful political leader residing in a grand palace with many servants and advisors.
  • In the comic book series Hellboy by award-winning artist Mike Mignola, Hell is a dark, alternate dimension filled with flames and demons and where the infernal capital city of Pandemonium resides. In issue one "Seed of Destruction" the Nazis with aid of the mad monk Rasputin successfully breach the boundary of Hell via magic and call forth the infant Hellboy so that he may bring about the end of the world. They are stopped, however, by the Allied Forces, who rescue Hellboy and raise him.
  • The comic book Spawn sees Hell and its demons as an important plot element. Mercenary Al Simmons gets betrayed by his own employers, dies, and goes to Hell. He then makes a deal with the devil Malebolgia (Guardian of Hell) that if he agrees to fight with Malebolgia's army, he would get to return to Earth and see his wife again.
  • Hell appears in many episodes of the television series South Park, especially in "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?" and "Probably".
  • In the manga and anime series Yu-Gi-Oh!, there is a place where those who lose in so called "Shadow Duels" are forced to lose their souls and be banished to a realm of eternal night and torment, a realm simply called the "Shadow Realm". This is a pejorative replacement for the actual name of Hell, as English dubbers deemed it would be too inappropriate for the target audience they were aiming for.[citation needed]
  • The upcoming adult animated musical black comedy web series Hazbin Hotel is set in Hell. Hell is ruled by [Lucifer|Lucifer] although the damned seem to live in an anarchist system, with no authority, allowing powerful demons and gangs to exert their own influence. Demons do not die, thus creating an overpopulation issue. Angels from heaven control the population growth by performing yearly [Purge|purges], a solution not approved by overly optimistic Charlie Magne, the daughter of Lucifer and [Lilith|Lilith]. She founds a hotel where she expects customers to check in for [Redemption|redemption].


  • Hell appears in the 1922 film Häxan.
  • Mortimer Judd goes there in Dante's Inferno.
  • Hell appears in the 1926 film Faust.
  • Little Joe goes there in Cabin in the Sky.
  • Henry Van Cleve goes there in Heaven Can Wait.
  • Eddie Kagle goes there in Angel on My Shoulder.
  • Hell appears in Damn Yankees.
  • Hell appears in the 1959 film Santa Claus.
  • Hell appears in the 1961 film The Devil's Messenger.
  • Ebenezer Scrooge goes there in Scrooge.
  • Hell appears in the 1972 film Tales from the Crypt.
  • In the 1973 Adult Film The Devil in Miss Jones, The main character Justine Jones (who just killed herself by sliting her wrists) begs Mr. Abaca to let her "earn" her place in Hell by being allowed to return to Earth and become the embodiment of Lust. At the end of the film Justine Jones somehow finds herself trapped in her own private Hell.
  • Hell is subjective in the Hellraiser film series, as well as Clive Barker's novella. Upon solving the Lament Configuration, the sinner, or victim experiences a hell which they themselves defined by their own actions.
  • In the 1991 film Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, the title characters go to Hell.
  • Hell is used as a plot subject in the Friday The 13th film Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.
  • In the film Deconstructing Harry by Woody Allen, the protagonist descends into Hell where he has a chance to learn from the Devil himself (played by Billy Crystal), among other things about the significance of having air conditioning in Hell, and then proceeds to discover his own father.
  • What Dreams May Come, a 1998 film that won an Academy Award for its depiction of heaven and hell as the subjective creations of the individual, was an essentially mystical interpretation of heaven, hell and reincarnation. Aided by his personal angel (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), an accidentally killed man (Robin Williams) leaves his personal Heaven home and searches the depths of many and varied Hells to find and rescue his wife, who is in her own damnation because the loss of her family drove her to suicide. It was based on the eponymous novel by Richard Matheson.
  • 2000's Little Nicky depicts hell as a kingdom where monsters, giant fire birds, flying jellyfish and a large castle named the Castle of The Underworld belong. Satan (Harvey Keitel) performs tasks such as shoving a pineapple up Hitler's posterior.
  • In Freddy vs Jason, Freddy Krueger is rendered powerless in Hell with Springwood forgetting him. Freddy Krueger who is impersonating Jason's mother, resurrects Jason from Hell and sends him to Springwood to cause panic and fear.
  • Constantine (a 2005 Warner Bros. film) depicts as graphic a version of the traditional Christian version of Hell as can be found in cinema: it shows a parallel plane with many of the same buildings and structures as the normal world, but twisted, ruined and perpetually seared as if eternally hit by the blast wave of a nuclear bomb. This film is based on the DC/Vertigo comic series Hellblazer.
  • The 2006 film Silent Hill depicts Hell numerous times throughout the film. Hell is depicted as a modern world, but decayed and rusted, populated by strange and horrific creatures.
  • Inferno directed by Ron Howard depicts Dante's hell in popular culture, based on the novel by Dan Brown.
  • The film Drag Me to Hell tells the story of a woman cursed by an evil gypsy. The curse will send her to Hell unless she can get rid of it.


Roleplaying gamesEdit

  • In the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, there are seven hellish planes, usually called the Lower Planes. The Plane most often referred to as 'Hell' is the Outer Plane Baator and comprises nine levels, sometimes called the Nine Hells or the Nine Hells of Baator. The other planes are Pandemonium, an endless underground network filled with howling winds that cause madness; the Abyss, a collection of countless places of evil and chaos, each one worse than the one before; Carceri, the prison of the multiverse; Hades, place of grey and bleak plains; the four peaks of the vulcans of Gehenna; and Archeron, a place of broken weapons and engines of war from all battlefields.
  • In In Nomine, the forces of Heaven and Hell fight each other in a modern setting. Hell, the home location of all demons, is separated into several subdivisions called principalities, each ruled by one or more Demon Princes. All of Hell's principalities is named after a cultural version of hell (i.e., Hades, Sheol, Tartaurus, etc.) An additional area, known as lower hell, is where Lucifer resides.

Video gamesEdit

  • In Mortal Kombat, a version of Hell known as the Netherrealm exists, and is described as "the fiery depths of which are inhospitable to all but the most vile, a realm of demons and shadowy warriors"
  • The 1996 city-building god game Afterlife has the player build Heaven and Hell as cities.
  • In Bayonetta, Hell takes the form of a demonic realm called Inferno, a world inhabited by demons.
  • The fantasy horror video game Dante's Inferno, based on Dante's depiction of Hell in the Divine Comedy, is exclusively set in Hell, fully realised in its medieval Roman Catholic conception as a physical and supernatural environment full of grotesque suffering and torture in correspondence with various sins.
  • The video game series Devil May Cry features Hell as a location to battle through. The name of the main character Dante is a reference to The Divine Comedy, as is his twin brother Vergil.
  • In the first of the Diablo series of games, a portion of hell is featured as a pit deep under the ground largely characterized as a place of suffering, as the bodies of hundreds of apparently tortured people reside there. The game manual refers to this place as actually part of the mortal realm whose barriers with the metaphysical Hell have weakened, causing it to take on hellish attributes combined with more worldly ones.
  • In the second game of the above series, Diablo II, the player character ventures into Hell in Act IV to finish off the game by killing the titular antagonist again, in his own separate domain of the realm, the Chaos Sanctuary.
  • The famous Doom series also involves the concept of Hell, but with a science-fiction twist, as a future teleportation experiment accidentally opens a gate to Hell, releasing demons. Hell is treated in the Christian conception, replete with Satanic symbols and corporeal demons, as a parallel universe of crimson skies, black mountains and oceans of fire. At the end of the second game in the series Hell is wrecked, and the main character wonders where evil people will go when they die. In Doom 3 the player must travel to Hell to obtain a powerful Martian artifact.
  • The first Fear Effect game deals extensively with the Chinese concept of hell, replete with its aforementioned political ramifications. Several of the later levels actually take place in the Chinese hell.
  • In Hellgate: London, demonic armies have emerged from hell to reduce London to ruin and are slowly converting the world through a process called "Hellforming". The protagonist must fight back the demonic invaders.
  • Hell is portrayed as a battlefield frozen in time in the video game Painkiller. Everything from bullets to trenches to mushroom clouds are present in stark stasis, allowing the player to move about the vista to get a good look. The level culminates with a showdown with Satan himself.
  • In the game Tony Hawk's Underground 2, there is an unlockable level (within 2 others) that depicts Hell. Little Demons, rural citizens, and a jazz dancing Satan are in the level.
  • In Minecraft, players are able to create a portal to "The Nether", which is inspired by the classic "fire-and-brimstone" depiction of Hell.
  • In the Heroes of Might and Magic series, Sheogh, the equivalent of Hell, is the home of the Inferno faction, a dark kingdom of demons.
  • In the game Dwarf Fortress, Hell is blocked off from the overworld by semi-molted rock and the mythical Adamantine. Opening a pathway between the two unleashes a virtually endless amount of demons, effectively ending the game.
  • In Super Meat Boy, Hell is the fourth chapter of the game. It is depicted as a dark reddish environment with lots of lava.
  • In Saints Row: Gat out of Hell, The whole game takes place in a city set in hell.
  • Skullgirls has a stage called Gehenna, which is made entirely of flesh, teeth, eyes, and a lake of blood. It is said to be the domain of the shapeshifter Double.


  • Dante Alighieri's famous epic poem Divine Comedy tells how he visits Heaven and Hell. His visit to Hell is probably the most famous literary depiction of the concept. Hell has its entrance in the Northern hemisphere, the other side of the world to Purgatory, and the bottom of Hell is at the Centre of the Earth. Hell is systematically divided in thematical tortures for crimes of the same nature in its Nine Circles, for example people who were violent against others are trapped in the Seventh Circle of Hell in a boiling river of blood with centaurs firing arrows to keep them in their place. The people are judged by the serpentine Minos. Hell was created by Lucifer's fall; he is now trapped in the final level for Traitors. Hell is surrounded by the river Acheron, the neutral sit on the banks chased by swarms of insects and running after a banner. Dante claims to have seen several famous people being tortured in hell: biblical characters (Judas, Cain, ...), mythological characters (Medusa, the Minotaur,...), historical characters (Nero, Brutus, Attila the Hun,...) and people of his own lifetime. His journey is described with many imaginative details.
  • In Milton's Paradise Lost, Lucifer and the other fallen angels (such as Beelzebub, Belial, and Molech) are imprisoned in Hell for rebelling against God after the birth of Christ. Hell is Nine days' fall from Heaven and three times further than Earth. Between it and the Universe are Chaos and Night. In Hell, the fallen angels build Pandemonium. Hell's gate is guarded by Sin, Satan's daughter. In Book 10 a bridge is built from Hell to Earth by Sin and Death after the Fall of Man, which has been caused by Lucifer, while the fallen angels are turned into snakes.
  • In Piers Anthony's series Incarnations of Immortality, Hell, along with Heaven and Purgatory, are actual locations populated by the main characters and souls of the dead.
  • Wayne Barlowe's book, God's Demon, is set in Hell and follows the endeavors of a powerful Demon, Sargatanas, to achieve redemption. The hell depicted is in many ways the classical Christian perception of burning cities and desolate wastelands with souls being routinely tortured.
  • In the novel City Infernal by Edward Lee, as well as its sequels Infernal Angel and House Infernal, Hell is depicted as a modern metropolis (the Mephistopolis), albeit where electricity is provided by tapping the bio-electricity of tortured souls, chaos and suffering is systematically enforced, organic materials (bones, blood, et al.) are used for everything from food and building materials and everything in-between, and vicious horrors, both born and manufactured, run rampant, all of which serves as an affront to God. It's also said to exist in a version of Earth in a separate plane of existence, and that its dimensions are based on those of Heaven.
  • Emanuel Swedenborg wrote Heaven and Hell in which he claimed to have visited Hell.



  • GWAR uses the word "hell" and related concepts in the albums titled Beyond Hell (2006) and Hell-O! (1988).
  • Slayer's second studio album is titled Hell Awaits. Many of the band's other songs also have Hellish lyrical themes.
  • The 2004 Insane Clown Posse album, Hell's Pit is a concept album about Hell.
  • Bring Me the Horizon's third studio album, There Is a Hell Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is a Heaven Let's Keep It a Secret revolves around the themes of Heaven and Hell.
  • The Venom album titled Welcome to Hell was released in 1981.[3]
  • Gary Numan's (Musical Artist) released the album 'Exile' in 1997 of which has very strong anti-Christian views on God and the acts of which God seems to 'permit' to happen on earth. Also contains lyrics claiming Numan's personal dismissal of co-operating with God i.e. from the song 'The Angel Wars' - "I won't pray here or bow my head. I won't praise your name, I won't kneel down..." His newer albums, 'Pure' (2000) and 'Jagged' (2006) also put across songs with similar 'bases' but are not directly aimed at religion (specifically Christianity) and do not contain lyrics of personal 'conversations' with God or a similar nature.


  • Bleak Expectations BBC Radio 4 series spoofs Dante's Inferno in the 2nd episode of the fourth series. The underworld is a place for all souls before they are assigned to their respective heavens or hells.
  • The BBC Radio 4 comedy series Old Harry's Game is set in Hell. It was written by Andy Hamilton, who also stars as Satan.


  • In the Buffyverse, there are several places in the world that are natural gateways between the underworld and the world of mortals. One of these Hellmouths is located directly under the library of the Sunnydale High School. However, instead of there being one hell, there are hundreds of hell dimensions, in which demons are the dominant lifeform and non-demonic life is subject to great torture. Precise details of Hell are unrevealed, but Angel was sent to a Hell dimension for around four months on Earth and is said to have experienced five hundred years of torment in that time, leaving him temporarily regressed to a feral mentality before he begins to recover. When Buffy returns from death in Season 6, her friends believer her shocked and unengaging behavior is due to her being in a Hell dimension.
  • In Doctor Who, the Tenth Doctor comes across a being which identifies itself as 'the Beast', resembles popular interpretations of the Devil, and makes numerous references to Hell. In a later episode, "Hell" is said to be a synonym for The Void between dimensions, the coordinates of which are all sixes. The Void is nothingness, the place between Universes.
  • In the science fiction series Lexx, Heaven and Hell are depicted as two joined planets situated in the darkest part of the Dark Zone. The hell planet is known as Planet Fire to its inhabitants. When a human who has made bad choices dies in the Lexx universe, their life essence is taken to the Core of Fire. They are eternally reincarnated to suffer on the planet's surface. Hell is depicted as an endless burning desert, with distant towers dedicated to various types of punishment. The inhabitants have no memories of their resurrections or past lives, and exist in an ongoing cycle of suffering and death.
  • The television series Supernatural mentions Hell many times as the place that demons originated- demons in this world being human souls broken by their torture in Hell- and shows the place in a couple of episodes. Protagonist Dean Winchester was sent to Hell after a demon deal where he experienced forty years of torture in four months, and his brother Sam was trapped in a deeper part of Hell under the personal attention of Lucifer for over a year on Earth before his soul was rescued by Death; their father-figure, Bobby Singer, experienced his own Hell where he was tormented by demonic versions of Sam and Dean until he was rescued by the real Sam.
  • The television series Reaper has the main character Sam as a bounty hunter for the devil who must send escaped souls back to hell. Entrances to hell are places that are considered hell on Earth, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and a storage center where multiple murder victims are hidden.
  • Hell appears in some episodes of The Twilight Zone, most notability in "A Nice Place to Visit" and "The Hunt".
  • In the American television supernatural drama Ghost Whisperer, "Hell" is depicted as the place where ghosts go if they do not cross over into the light and instead go to the Dark Side.
  • In the British science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf several characters make reference to "Silicon Hell", the presumed alternative to the concept of "Silicon Heaven" programmed into most artificially intelligent devices in order to preserve their loyalty to humanity.
  • Hell appears in the superhero television series Legends of Tomorrow, portrayed as a slum. It is ruled by a triumvirate made up of Belial, Beelzebub and Satan.
  • Hell also appears in Good Omens.


  1. ^ Clute, John; John Grant (1999). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 460. ISBN 978-0-312-19869-5.
  2. ^ Hell and Its Afterlife: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives - Page 5 Isabel Moreira, Margaret Toscano - 2010 "But there is another side of hell in popular culture, as shown in horror films, where the monstrous is unleashed in order to explore the dark recesses of the human psyche, often unconsciously, for the purpose of releasing and Introduction 5."
  3. ^ [1]