A hellscape is a harsh environment, an unpleasant place, or a scene thought to resemble hell.[1] A depiction of hell in a work of art is called a hellscape.[2]

Part of Jan van Eyck's Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych

The earliest known use of the term in print was in 1894.[2]

In real life


Writers have sometimes described wartime environments as hellscapes,[3] and after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the cities were defined as such by its survivors.[4] Writers have also used hellscape to describe the scene of a natural disaster such as a drought, plague, flood, or wildfire.[5][6][7][8] Projections of the consequences of global warming have been described by journalists as hellscapes.[9][10][11]

The usage of recreational drugs such as heroin has been described by its users as creating hellscapes.[12][13]

In the tech press, journalists have defined Internet disinformation as a hellscape.[14] Some have speculated the replacing of human labor with intelligent robots could lead to a future hellscape,[15] as well as child sex dolls.[16]

Vox wrote that postmodern philosophers have predicted a post-truth hellscape.[17]

In October 2022, after purchasing Twitter, Elon Musk stated that it couldn't become "a free-for-all hellscape".[18]

In movies


In movies, depictions of hellscapes are common.[citation needed]

Apocalypse Now depicts earthly hellscapes, during war.[19] Other notable examples in cinema include Blade Runner 2049,[20] Alien,[21] Mad Max: Fury Road,[22] as well as all of the Mad Max series.

In art


Hieronymus Bosch's The Last Judgement depicts a religious hellscape.[23] Other examples are Jan van Eyck's Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder's Dull Gret.[24]

In literature


Dante Alighieri's Inferno is one of the best-known examples of a hellscape. The Great Gatsby depicts the "Valley of the Ashes" as a hellscape.[25]

In video games


A number of video games depict hellscapes,[26][27] including Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.[28]


  1. ^ "hellscape, noun". Macmillan Dictionary. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  2. ^ a b "hellscape, n.". OED Online. December 2020. Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Hanks, Tom (September 2, 2020). "We Are Still Living the Legacy of World War II". New York Times. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  4. ^ Rothman, Lily. "Survivors of the Atomic Blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki share their stories". Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  5. ^ Cullen, Art (September 15, 2020). "Wildfires, Drought, Plague, Apocalypse". TheGuardian.com.
  6. ^ Greig, James (December 21, 2020). "The UK Is a Hellscape, and We're All Stuck in It". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  7. ^ Lynn, Kristy (September 22, 2020). "Americans Are Living In A 'Hellscape'".
  8. ^ "Blazing Fires Turn West Coast Skies into Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape". 9 September 2020. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  9. ^ Dahl, Kristy (22 July 2019). "Will the U.S. Be a Dystopian Hellscape in 2100 if Emissions Keep Rising?".
  10. ^ Madrigal, Alexis C. (November 13, 2018). "Gadgets for the Climate Hellscape". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  11. ^ Illing, Sean (February 24, 2019). "It is absolutely time to panic about climate change". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  12. ^ Farr, Stephanie (February 19, 2017). "A Hidden Hellscape". Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  13. ^ Wood, Sam (April 18, 2017). "Dr. Oz's tour of Philly's heroin hellscape airs today". Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  14. ^ Phillips, Whitney (February 3, 2020). "The Internet Is a Toxic Hellscape—but We Can Fix It". Wired. Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  15. ^ Drum, Kevin (October 30, 2017). "A Different Take: Our Robot Hellscape Awaits Us". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  16. ^ Lloyd, Alice B. (March 15, 2018). "Child Sex Dolls". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  17. ^ Illing, Sean (November 16, 2019). "The post-truth prophets". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  18. ^ Pitofsky, Marina (2022-10-27). "Elon Musk says Twitter can't become 'a free-for-all hellscape,' should be 'warm and welcoming'". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2022-10-28.
  19. ^ Phillips, Brian (14 August 2020). "A Journey Back Into the Nihilistic Hellscape That Is 'Apocalypse Now'".
  20. ^ Emerson, Sarah (October 9, 2017). "Is 'Blade Runner: 2049' GOOD or BAD?". Vice. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  21. ^ Scherstuhl, Alan (May 21, 2015). "The Immersive Dark Star Plunges Into H.R. Giger's Hellscapes". The Westword. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  22. ^ Vary, Adam B. (November 10, 2016). "Invasion Of The Big-Brained Sci-Fi Blockbuster!". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  23. ^ Blackburn, Gabe (May 1, 2020). "Hieronymus Bosch on Heaven and Hell". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  24. ^ Gotthardt, Alexxa (November 1, 2018). "The 11 Most Nightmarish Depictions of Hell in Art History". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  25. ^ "Corruption In The Great Gatsby". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  26. ^ Rivera, Joshua (December 22, 2020). "Video Game Hell Isn't Nearly Agonizing Enough". Wired. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  27. ^ "10 Horrifying Hellscapes That Video Game Heroes Call Home". WhatCulture. 9 December 2020. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  28. ^ Bolding, Jonathan (January 18, 2021). "Ninja Theory's upcoming game takes place in an absurdly photorealistic apartment". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2021-02-26.