Evil Is Deathly Cold

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Hellfire is overrated.

In fire there is the spark of chaos and destruction, the seed of life. In ice there is perfect tranquility, perfect order, and the silence of death.


Evil is not only dark, it is also cold and deadly, while good embodies warmth and life as well as light.

Much more likely for the Big Bad or Evil Overlord than pettier sorts of villains. Tends to factor into Fisher King. Whereas Good is probably located in the Ghibli Hills or Arcadia, Evil is invariably located in the Grim Up North.

Very common for the Undead. Even ghosts leave conspicuous cold spots where they wander.

Can feature with a Winter Royal Lady or An Ice Person, but does not have to; ice can also be an elemental power unrelated to good vs. evil. The key is whether the cold is used as an indicator of evil and death. It will be more destructive than other elemental powers in this trope. Evil items like the Artifact of Doom may exhibit this as Thermal Dissonance, they're always cold no matter where you put them.

The obvious foil to Fertile Feet. Indeed, it may not be clear in a story whether the return of sunshine, life, and warmth is owning to the hero's influence or because the Big Bad's has No Ontological Inertia. (Babies Ever After may coincide with this—or function as a mundane alternative.)

The elemental opposite is Evil Is Burning Hot.

May be a factor in why Spring Is Late is such a dangerous trope.

Not to be confused with Evil Is Cool.

Examples of Evil Is Deathly Cold include:

Anime & Manga

  • Code Breaker: Sakura, who is sensitive to people's scents and body heat, is shocked when she discovers her friend Ogami's Evil Twin Light Is Not Good possible brother's body is "as cold as ceramic".
  • The vampires from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure have incredibly cold body temperatures. In fact, Joseph was able to tell Straights was a vampire simply by the fact that his breath was not visible when temperatures were below freezing.
    • And one of the (inconsistent) explanations for the vampires' ability to flash-freeze their enemies' blood is that they are simply that cold.
  • In Dragon Ball, this is a running theme with the names in Frieza's family: Lord Frieza/Freeza, King Cold, Cooler...

Comic Books

  • In Marvel Comics, N'Kantu, the Living Mummy, describes undeath as "like life, only colder."
  • Also, in The DCU, Kid Eternity was surprised to find, after being dragged into Hell by Beelzebub, that Hell is incredibly cold. Beelzebub explains that "It's cold in Hell. So cold you'll pray for eternal fire. And eventually, we answer your prayer."
  • In Preacher (Comic Book), the Saint of Killers' hate is so strong that when he's killed and sent to Hell, it freezes over.
  • Mr. Freeze is a twist, in that he's a villain, and he's deathly cold, but he's not completely evil.
  • The Spider-Man villain, Tombstone is described as being cold to the touch.
  • The Hellraiser comics have a cenobite describe hell as cold, but they tend to go in for more of an Ironic Hell so it might be personal.

Fan Works

  • The Plains of Death in With Strings Attached are desperately cold: “The chill of death.” The Twisted Temple, high up in the Misery Mountains, is also frigid, and The Brothers of Doom are immune to cold.


  • Officer Matt Cordell of the Maniac Cop trilogy is described as feeling like ice, even through his clothing. At one point in Maniac Cop 2 a blind war veteran describes coming into contact with Cordell as being similar to an incident in the war where he was trapped under a pile of mangled corpses.
  • In The Secret Life Of Ian Fleming—yes, that Ian Fleming—Fleming is able to identify female enemy agents by the fact that their lips are cold. Later, he hooks up with his UST, and notes her lips are burning hot.
  • Subverted somewhat in The Amityville Horror remake, where George feels cold everywhere in the house except the basement, where the evil originates.
  • Subverted and lampshaded in The Bag Witch Project, a short Blair Witch parody film about four roleplayers who get lost during GenCon and can't find their way back to the occupied part of the Milwaukee convention center. Would be this trope, if it weren't a satire:

"I'm tired, I'm hungry, I'm even cold. How can it be cold? We're indoors. And it's August!"

  • Poltergeist - Evil is shown as cold, especially in part three during Lara Flynn Boyle's shower sequence.
  • In Van Helsing, Dracula lives in a frozen castle on the other side of an ice mirror.
  • In the Asian movie Beyond Hypothermia, the main character is a female assassin who has an abnormally low body temperature.
  • The Frost Giants as depicted in 'Thor all have ice-based powers, and are all terribly sinister.
  • In The Exorcist, Regan's bedroom is shown at times to be so cold that other characters pause to put on heavy coats before entering the room.



He was six feet four, and forty-six, and even colder than he thought he was.

  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel His Last Command, when Maggs is thrown through a Chaos warp gate, and Mkoll jumps after him, they find it frigid, as well as impossible, with the stars all wrong and blocks of stone floating in the sky. They escape through another gate, and are found covered with frost (but alive).
    • In Only In Death, frost forms about Soric's cage because of the psychic forces unleashed from Chaos.
  • Lowered temperature is a by-product of psychic power in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. It doesn't necessarily mean evil, as good psychic characters can cause it too. But when evil does come along, it really is deathly cold.
  • Joe Chip from Philip K. Dick's Ubik plays the trope straight as he reflects on death: "They must be wrong about hell, he said to himself. Hell is cold; everything there is cold. The body means weight and heat; now weight is a force which I am succumbing to, and heat, my heat, is slipping away".
  • The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper: The Dark uses powerful cold-based magic to prevent the retrieval of one of the six Signs.
    • Also averted, as the ice candles are actually neutral, and end up being reclaimed by the Light.
  • Dementors, who causes the temperature of whatever room they're in to drop about 30-50 degrees.
    • Also, the wizarding school Durmstrang - where Dark Arts are actually taught to students and Karkaroff is headmaster - is 'somewhere north', based on their heavy cloaks and school clothes.
  • While she isn't evil as much as just lonely and pure horror itself, the Groke from The Moomins is also very, very cold and probably as close to a cosmic horror you can have in that kind of series.
  • The Others from A Song of Ice and Fire are malevolent creatures in the North who are heavily associated with cold. The same goes with the wights that they create. In the R'hllor religion, a god called the Great Other is heavily associated with cold and is considered evil, though R'hllor at times seems no less destructive.
  • The Norns in Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn are very fond of cold, and their master, the Sealed Evil in a Can Storm King, both uses and draws his strength from the power of cold.
    • The Other in Otherland, also by Tad Williams, causes a sensation of killing cold in most people who encounter it within the virtual world. The reason for this is a key plot point.
  • In The Pendragon Adventure, Bobby describes Saint Dane as being deathly cold when he grabs him.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover, being rather cold itself, says that Zandru has seven hells, each one colder than the one before.
  • H.P. Lovecraft was afraid of the cold, hence stories like Cool Air and At The Mountains of Madness
  • The Wheel of Time series starts off this way, with a "year without a summer" as the result of the Dark One's influence. Inverted several books later with a "year without a winter" from the same cause—or perhaps a subversion, since the first may have really been the work of Ishamael.
    • In general, the Dark One is presented as being a fan of extreme and unnatural weather, whether it's too hot or too cold- fitting, for a god of chaos, decay, and evil.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel The Killing Ground, an atrocity's vengeful ghosts are "glacial cold."
  • In Lee Lightner's Warhammer 40000 Space Wolf novel Wolf's Honour, Madox's sword strikes with numbing cold. Which drives Ragnar's decision to take Refuge in Audacity.
  • In Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman, the vampire-like Lamia preys on humans by drinking heat from them.
  • In Stephen King's The Stand Randell Flagg is repeatedly descibed as icy. Even in dreams, people feel cold when they come into contact with Flagg.
    • Which makes his sex scene - described from Nadine's point of view - pure unadulterated terror.
  • In Jim Butcher's Dresden Files novel Grave Peril, Harry describes a vicious spell as "cold"; Michael suggests it was "evil" and Harry agrees.
    • In Dead Beat, after an encounter with evil magic, Harry's lips are blue from the cold.
    • And the Winter Court of the fairies is also the Unseelie Court.
      • Although Dresden is often aligned with the Summer Court (and Dresden is generally on the side of good), it is explicitly said that faeries are neither good nor evil.
  • In the original novel The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, the phantom is described as having ice cold hands.
  • In Andre Norton and A.C. Crispin's Gryphon's Eyrie, the shadow creatures are bitterly cold and prey on the main character's warmth. At the climax, they deliberately go for the pregnant Joisan's baby.
  • In Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy, the Book of the Dead has a clasp which frosts over with condensation and a leather cover which sweats even on the warmest day. People in its presence have been known to start shivering spontaneously.
  • Subtly invoked in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, with the white-clad, emotionless Big Nurse, in contrast with the friendly, redheaded McMurphy. Both are usually described in terms suggesting winter and summer, respectively.
  • House of Leaves: the hallways that begin to appear in the house on Ash Tree Lane are described as being very cold, so that when Navidson and the others go on the explorations they are wearing winter coats. Navidson himself almost dies of cold after being inside for too long.
  • In the novel Grunts!, the Nameless Necromancer gets a freezing aura in addition to his Animate Dead skills. It's sufficient to coat nearby grass with frost as he walks.
  • In the Warhammer 40000 Eisenhorn novels, psykers' usage of Warp powers often comes with frost formation.
  • Used in Melissa Mar's Wicked Lovely, where the main villain is the queen of the Winter Court, who made a deal that allowed her to seal the summer king's power and expand winter's influence, which would eventually plunge the world into endless winter and kill everything. Averted in later books, as the Winter Court comes under new leadership and the Dark and High Courts are explored. It's implied that none of the courts are truly good or truly evil, but are merely being what they represent.
  • In Kingdom Keepers, Maleficent causes the air to drop in tempature to drop to freezing whenever she's around, to the point of leaving the ground where she walks frozen.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, Hell has large chunks of frozen wasteland.
  • Fistandantilus as presented in the Dragonlance main series and the Kingpriest Trilogy combines this with Walking Wasteland, as he's surrounded by a continuos aura of cold that withers plants and kills small animals near him. The spellbooks he writes are also painfully cold to the touch. Inverted with his apprentice/reincarnation Raistlin, whose skin is inhumanly hot and whose spellbooks give off an unnatural warmth.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere An Autumn Tale, Catarina's amulet is burning cold to Lindsey's touch
  • The final story of Margaret Mahy's The Chewing-Gum Rescue and Other Stories, "The Devil and the Corner Grocer", has the eponymous shopkeep feel a chill whenever the villain walks into the shop. At the climax, the demon manifests without his disguise, and it's freezing - until the grocer calls on the angel who's also been appearing throughout the book, who turns up with a much more convivial temperature.
  • In Warrior Cats, the power of the Dark Forest freezes over StarClan territory in The Last Hope.

Live-Action TV

  • Subverted in Stargate SG-1 with the Ori who appear to their followers as fire (and use fire to punish unbelievers.) Daniel even points out that traditionally fire was associated with good since it represents warmth and light.
  • In Supernatural, Lucifer shows this trope freezing a window with his breath, and states "Sorry if it's a bit chilly. Most people think I burn hot. It's actually quite the opposite."
  • Merlin's season four premiere shows the Dorocha, spirits of the dead resembling skeletons, who leaves their victims frozen and dead with one touch.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Wolf in the Fold," Scotty describes a moment when he was close to an attack by what turns out to be Jack the Ripper: "Cold it was, like a stinking draft out of a slaughterhouse...."

Religion & Mythology

  • A common belief in Northern Russia and Norse Mythology is that hell is very cold. Understandably, a religion that was born in the desert would think a lake of fire would be the worst fate a man can get, while up north, that sounds just delightful. Thus in Norse Mythology, while the warriors who died gloriously in battle get to live it up in Valhalla, those who died of sickness, old age, or in just plain boring ways get stuck in a cold, misty snorefest of Hel. Straighter examples still are the frost giants, who are more or less the ultimate evil in Norse Mythology.
    • That said, Norse Mythology also managed to mix this with Evil Is Burning Hot; not only is Loki, who tends to get identified with Satan (even if, at least before the whole thing was Hijacked by Jesus, it was a bit more complicated than that) a god of fire, but during Ragnarök, the forces of evil are led by Surtr, one of the oldest and most powerful of the fire giants. In conclusion, as in general in Norse Mythology, the safest way to characterise things is less either of these tropes and more 'everything is trying to kill you'.
  • An early Christian sermon from England (and one of the few bits of literature we have left written in Anglo-Saxon English) speaks of Hell as a dark, cold place far to the north.
  • Christian missionaries to Native Alaskans learned, very quickly, to speak of Hell as a very cold place.
  • Some Jews who believe in Hell believe that some souls suffer in ice and others in fire.

Tabletop Games

  • Unusual variant: the Necrons of Warhammer 40,000 are often associated with cold, but not ice-and-snow sort of cold-rather, the cold nature of the mechanical and the chill of the void.
    • Played straighter in the Imperial Guard novel Ice Guard by Steve Lyons. The planet of Cressida is plunged into an ice age-like state by the Chaos powers that are taking it over.
    • Chaos itself is usually subject to this, as warp energy tends to cause a noticeable drop in temperature in the surrounding area of a daemon summoning.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The Nine Hells feature both "boiling hot" and "absolutely frickin' frigid" variants. One of the archdevils, Levistus, the Lord of Stygia is actually trapped forever in unyielding ice, using telepathy to boss everyone around.
    • For extra irony, keep in mind: he was a dashing swashbuckler whose pride was his incredible grace of movement.
    • Cania is worse that Stygia, so cold that even mortals who use cold-weather gear will freeze to death quickly. Magic usually has to be used to survive in most areas of Cania. Ironically, the palace of Mephistopheles, the ruler, is not one of those places, as he and his servants are avid users of Hellfire, which he claims to have discovered.
    • A line in the Book of Erotic Fantasy has a wizard commenting that having sex with a vampire was like having sex with 'ice covered in thick velvet'.
  • Played straight with the Neverborn in Exalted, who have a lot of imagery revolving around darkness, death, and the chill of the Void. The Ebon Dragon sometimes gets in on this act, but is more associated with shadows, treachery, opposition, and the Shadow Archetype than anything else. Averted with Ligier and anyone associated with him; as the Green Sun that illuminates Malfeas, he burns very hot indeed.
    • Likewise, the Abyssal Charmset often evokes instances of the icy grip of death, chilling, et cetera. In fact, there's even an Abyssal hearthstone to that effect.
  • In Infernum, the 2nd and 9th Circles of Hell are like this. Tempest, the second Circle, is an unbroken range of mountains locked under a perpetual storm, while Pandemonium is circled by a 15-mile wide river of supernatural ice. Demons with the Chain of the Screaming Sky can also turn their kingdoms into this.
  • In The Dark Eye, the Netherhells, home of the forces of chaos that want to destroy the world, are proverbially cold.


  • While there are ice-themed villains in the Bionicle toyline, the comic book begins with a focus on Kopaka, Toa of Ice. He averts this trope in his internal monologue: There is evil on this island, and it is about to learn that justice...can be...cold.

Video Games

  • Warcraft:
    • The Lich King. No depiction of him will neglect to have ice and snow added.
    • In World of Warcraft, the (now obsolete) Frozen Shadoweave armour set gives bonus to shadow and frost spells, and was a favorite of Warlocks, Shadow Priests, and Frost Mages. Although none of those classes could use shadow and frost spells, as might be expected.
    • Many parts of Northrend (the domain of the aforementioned Lich King) are snowy. And Death Knights (who are undead creations of the Scourge, albeit prone to Heel Face Turns) use shadow and ice-based attacks.
    • The Scourge in Warcraft III also featured the Lich hero (who could hurl ice blasts etc) and the Frost Wyrm. It's probably not coincidental that Arthas' cursed blade is named Frostmourne. Liches who were normal mages/warlocks/shamans/bloodmages etc. in life suddenly become highly attuned to the power of cold when they enter the service of the Lich King. This was originally explained by their attunement to the frozen Northrend wastes, although there's also an unconnected lich found in a desert in Outland with the same mastery over cold.
      • It's explained in supplemental material that high elves and undead greatly prefer ice magic because it is very stable, precise, and easy to control, thus far more suitable to very long-lived beings than the far more unstable and difficult to control fire magic, which in turn is popular among humans, gnomes, blood elves, and the like.
  • In Battle for Wesnoth, Dark Adepts and Ghosts are two of the exactly three unit lines that get cold damage in default.
  • In the Roguelike game Moria, equipping a cursed item causes the message, "Oops! It feels deathly cold!" to appear.
  • Jin Kisaragi in BlazBlue. While his ice power is definitely not evil, his personality certainly gives off this vibe.
    • Yukianesa's power is pretty creepy though... It amplifies people's emotions, and for Jin that means his Ax Craziness when presented with Ragna the Bloodedge or Noel Vermillion.
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories replaces the rust and fire the town's evil alternate dimension has become known for with cold, covering everything with thick layers of ice.
    • justified considering the raw shocks suck the heat from things they touch, which is how they kill you
    • Also worth noting is the scene in the car, in which you are trapped in a car at the bottom of the lake. Suddenly, a Rawshock comes up against your back window and the water all freezes (but somehow you can still move) and the phrases, "Stop fighting" "It will all be okay" and "So cold" appear scraped onto your window.
  • "Oops! It feels deathly cold!" whenever you put on a cursed item in Angband.
  • Subtle example in Final Fantasy X: Seymour passes as a perfectly decent, saintly public servant in subtropical Luca and the green forests surrounding the Moonflow river and his capital city of Guadosalam. We find out he is evil in the trip to Macalania—his temple, and frozen through and through.
  • Bonechill in Super Paper Mario uses various ice-related powers. Oddly enough, his backstory seems to be largely based off of that of Satan in the aforementioned Dante's Inferno, as that of a Nimbi who fell from grace and was imprisoned in one of the lowest levels of the Underwhere (the Mario-verse's version of the Underworld) in ice.
  • You get to visit one layer of hell (see Dungeons & Dragons under "Tabletop Games") in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark. This one is so cold you take continuous cold damage from just being there without the appropriate protection. This leads to an obligatory, predictable, yet irresistible pun after you get out.

Mephistopheles: Last I knew, I thought I had trapped you for all eternity in an icy little place called Cania.
Player Character: Sorry, Hell froze over.
Mephistopheles: How very witty.

  • A more comical example can be found in The Addams Family: Pugley's Scavenger Hunt. In which the last level takes place inside a fridge. The difficulty spikes up to eleven with ice spikes, evil snowmen and slippery surfaces at every turn.
  • Vexen, Organization XIII's resident Mad Scientist from the Kingdom Hearts series. Master Xehanort has other powers, but uses ice magic for one of his biggest Kick the Dog moments in the Birth by Sleep trailer: freezing Ven solid and then dropping him off a cliff.
  • Inverted in InFamous 2: The Good end of the Karma Meter gets you ice powers, the Evil end fire powers.
  • Liches in Lusternia gain the ability to cloak themselves in an aura of cold, passively freezing their foes. They can do the same thing even faster with a touch.

Western Animation

  • Danny Phantom's ghost breath is explained by the fact that ghosts make the air around them very cold. If he can see his breath in an ordinarily warm place, there's definitely a ghost about. Eventually his "ghost breath" turns into ice-based powers.
  • In American Dad, Karl Rove freezes Klaus in his bowl as he floats past.
  • The Ice King in Adventure Time, as well as The Lich.

The Lich: "Aren't you... cold?"

  1. This leads to a fascinating Biblical Historical In-Joke. As described by Revelations, Satan will eventually be freed as part of The End of the World as We Know It, implying that after a few thousand years, he finally figured it out; a joke that only gets funnier with age. Not to mention, After the End, he'll be rid of the lake of ice... by being cast into a lake of fire.