Haunted Castle

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    Reichsburg Cochem. If it isn't, it should be.

    Last Chance Not To Go Near The Castle
    —Sign outside Dontgonearthe Castle in Carpe Jugulum, a Discworld novel set in Überwald

    This is the article for the trope Haunted Castle. For the Castlevania game of the same name, click here.

    On a foggy mountain peak in a spooky land looms the Haunted Castle -- and who knows what manner of beast lurks within its walls? It could be some sort of vampire, Frankenstein's Monster, the Mad Scientist, the Wolf Man, or even Bugs Bunny. Or maybe all of them at once.

    The protagonist will be driven to the castle by a thunderstorm, running out of gas, or by his own curiosity. In the valley below, the villagers will have warned the hero against spending the night in the castle, but he presses on into the night. His beautiful bride will question his decision, but will reluctantly accompany him.

    Once at the castle, the monster will take a liking for the bride. Perhaps she resembles some long lost love of the monster, or he desires her for some mad experiment.

    It will also typically be Always Night, with the sun never rising until the evil is vanquished. Expect Dramatic Thunder, Grave Clouds with a Chance of Rain, Ominous Fog, Cobweb of Disuse, and your typical Dark And Stormy Night.

    In an American setting, instead of a haunted castle, the Haunted House will be the monster's home, since actual castles are in short supply in the U.S. of A. They are plentiful in Transylvania.

    Examples of Haunted Castle include:


    • Castle McDuck in Disney's Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics—When first introduced in Carl Barks' "The Old Castle's Secret," it was purportedly haunted by the ghost of Sir Quackly McDuck, who sealed himself in its walls along with a chest full of treasure. In Don Rosa's comics, it's apparently haunted by every member of the McDuck clan, who watch over their descendants and help scare off enemies; Sir Quackly is the one who shows himself the most often. There was also a Scooby-Doo Hoax launched by their rival clan the Whiskervilles involving a ghostly hound.
    • Rueben Rueben, from Zip Comics, stumbled on a haunted castle with benevolent ghosts who gave him powers.
    • Doctor Doom's castle in Latvaria. The only monster is the human monster of Doctor Doom.


    • Any Dracula movie, or Frankenstein's Monster movie.
    • Played straight in the Underworld movies with Kate Beckinsale. A gothic mansion and a haunted castle both make appearances.
    • The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an Affectionate Parody of this trope, among others.
    • The ensemble comedy High Spirits (1988) was set in a Haunted Castle.
    • Van Helsing plays this straight but also kind of lampshades it since the whole movie is an deliberate mash-up/tribute to Universal Horror Classics.
    • Manos: The Hands of Fate played this exact trope, except they couldn't get a castle, so they used a smallish and rather boring house.
    • Castle of Blood depicts Edgar Allan Poe being challenged to reveal the inspiration of his stories. Big mistake—it leads to a night in a haunted castle. The film claims to be based on a story of the real Poe but nothing he wrote in our world really fits the bill. The movie was remade in 1971, titled Web of the Spider and was allegedly based on Poe's famous story Night of the Living Dead. Uh, yeah.
    • Many of Vincent Price's movies were set in haunted (or supposedly haunted) castles, The Pit and the Pendulum probably being the best example. Although P&P was directed by Roger Corman, other of Price's vehicles were directed by William Castle.


    • Walpole's The Castle of Otranto initially gave rise to this trope in popular culture, not to mention to Gothic Fiction in general.
    • Bram Stoker's Dracula, of course. Dracula greets Jonathan Harker: "Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will!"
    • Played with in the Discworld novel Carpe Jugulum, where the ancestral Überwaldean home of the Magpyrs is actually called Dontgonearthe Castle, and the Old Count would advertise it as if it were a tourist trap using Reverse Psychology ("Last chance to Not Go Near The Castle").
      • And it worked. People would come in for MILES just so they could Notgonearthe castle. And when, every few decades, the vampire there rose again (and was quickly quelled, of course), it just added to the interest...and the local economy. It helps even more that there's something with the roads that causes all traveling coaches to break a wheel as they near it...
    • Present in Christopher Stasheff's novel The Warlock's Companion; it's the location where half the story takes place. The other half is flashbacks, including one that plays with the trope by referring to an ancestor a few centuries ago who, seeing that haunted houses were becoming all the rage, but owning only a fairly recent mansion, instructed the house butler/majordomo to go out and buy an ancestral ghost from somewhere.
    • In James Thurber's The 13 Clocks, the Duke finds his castle haunted by the children he locked in the tower: that is, he hears their laughter, and children's balls come bouncing down the stairs. Cold as he is, he finds this more horrifying than the ordinary sort of ghosts.
    • Harrenhal has this reputation in A Song of Ice and Fire, partially because the Targaryens used dragons to roast the castle's holders alive centuries ago, and partially because most of the people who hold the castle end up experiencing misfortune ( Janos Slynt got sent up to join the Night's Watch, Amory Lorch got thrown in the bear pit when the castle was taken, Vargo Hoat had his limbs chopped off and fed to him by Gregor Clegane, and so on). On a more mundane level it's also built on an Awesome But Impractical scale, its sheer size making it a huge money-pit and a large amount of it standing empty, either because the damage caused by the Targaryens and their dragons was never fully repaired or because the current owners have no use for the space.
    • Hogwarts Castle is a unique form of this trope: the castle is indeed haunted by several ghosts, but most are perfectly nice (well, except Peeves, but he's a pest rather than an actual threat), and the castle is, of course, also a school. Most of the ghosts just hang around and give advice when asked, but one of them is actually teaching classes, and no-one's sure if he's even noticed he died.

    Live Action Television

    • Castle Forrester in Mystery Science Theater 3000
    • Subverted and played for laughs in an episode of the Canadian reality series Kenny Vs. Spenny. The two title characters have a competition to see who can stay inside an abandoned house the longest without getting scared. Kenny (the member of the duo that always cheats) tries a number of tactics to scare his friend Spenny, who's easily manipulated. In the end, Kenny is spooked out of the house by a loud noise, which he believed to be a ghost. It was actually a construction crane that fell on the house, making Spenny win the competition.
    • Also played for laughs in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Buffy vs. Dracula:"

    Riley: I've lived in Sunnydale for a couple years now. Know what I never noticed before?
    Giles: Uh, a castle?
    Riley: A big, honkin' castle.


    Tabletop Games

    • Warhammer Fantasy Battle has several, mostly concentrated in Sylvania.
    • * Dungeons & Dragons has too many examples to list, but the Ravenloft campaign is setting is especially full of them, due to its Gothic horror inspirations. Most notable is Castle Ravenloft, after which the setting is named.

    Video Game

    • Fighting your way through such castles is the very premise of the Castlevania series. In fact, Haunted Castle is the actual title of one of the arcade games in the series.
    • Keith's castle in Shadow Hearts is both a straight example and a subversion. It is haunted, as is only appropriate for a castle owned by a vampire, but the owner himself is a very nice guy; all the real trouble in the area is being caused by the mayor of nearby Bistriz.
    • World of Warcraft has two haunted castles, Shadowfang Keep and Karazhan. Groups can assault these castles to kill their Evil Overlord. Also, the Forsaken hometown of the Undercity is the dungeon of a Haunted Castle.
      • Only because the Undead killed everyone there, razed the surface, and moved into the basement, of course...
        • But other than that they're okay people.
          • Or to be exact, "normal" people with undead bodies, at least if you don't count Varimathras and the evil royal apothecary society
          • To be fair, the city was razed by the faction that made them rather than the splinter group that lives there now.
    • Foe Mansion in La Tale, complete with Frankenstein-esque monsters and ghosts.
    • Kuon features a cursed medieval Japanese mansion.
    • The gothic Castle in Amnesia the Dark Descent is located in thick Prussian forests which the locals are afraid to enter as it is supposedly haunted by the deserters of wars.
    • Warden's Keep from Dragon Age: Origins is an abandoned fortress inhabited by roaming undead, demons, ghosts and a centuries-old blood mage trying desperately to hold back a demonic invasion from the Fade.
    • Mundus's castle in the first Devil May Cry. Dante's not spooked easily, but it's filled with eerie contraptions and horrific demons.
    • Fatal Frame features Himuro Mansion for the first game and the Mansion of Sleep for the third. Both are big. Both are spooky. Both are designed to make sure you never come out again, dead or alive.
    • Quest for Glory IV has Castle Borgov, home to ghosts, vampires, ogres, and Toby.
    • The ruins of New Londo in Dark Souls, the remains of a once-great city flooded to seal away the Darkwraiths. It's now filled with ghosts, who are quite nasty,requiring the player to either be cursed or use special weapons to hurt them.
    • Almia Castle from Pokemon Rangers: Shadows of Almia is completely devoid of human life and crawling with ghost and psychic type pokemon. It's also covered in ice.
    • Hang Castle Zone in Sonic Heroes is filled with ghosts and witches and sprawls out as far as the eye can see. The following stage, Mystic Mansion, is set on the inside, with the final area on the roof at dawn, having survived the many traps within. The reason Sonic is here is because he's spotted a Chaos Emerald in the castle.


    • The Girl Genius webcomic has Castle Heterodyne. The ruined steampunk castle may not actually be haunted, but it's stuffed full of deathtraps, and its broken artificial intelligence tends to kill the people trying to repair it.
    • The upcoming Grave Academy, while not a comic per se, it is a Forum/RPG, that centers around a school for monsters which is located in such a castle.

    Western Animation

    • Ghosts always seemed to love that old haunted castle on the outskirts of town, in The Ghost Busters.
    • Subverted in many Looney Tunes cartoons
    • Bender's uncle Vlad's castle in the Futurama episode "The Honking". Near the village of Thermostadt, it was "haunted" by holograms of his dead ancestors.
    • And of course many adventures of Scooby Doo and friends.
    • Richard Tyler, in The Pagemaster, has to go through Dr. Jekyll's 'spooky' mansion (complete with dark clouds, lightning, bats, a full moon, and a kind of gravestone in the front saying that it belongs to him).
    • The Beast's castle in Beauty and the Beast. As the Beast gradually gets nicer, the action takes us further and further into the section of the castle that has pretty, neo-Classical architecture, until the curse is cured at the end and the whole building is like that.
    • Castle Wyvern in Gargoyles has this reputation, although we never see any ghosts in the castle itself.

    Real Life

    • Given that castles' whole purpose was to provide strongholds for military authority, the abundance of ghost stories which arise from their typically-bloody histories is hardly a surprise.
    • Windsor Castle for example is supposed to be haunted by the sad and shabby ghost of King George III who spent his last years there chatting up the shrubbery under the impression it was brother monarchs and being tormented by the doctors trying to cure him. And the ghost of Queen Elizabeth I still briskly walks the gallery she built for exercise on rainy days which is now the library.
    • The Tower of London is even more haunted for obvious reasons. The murdered princes Edward V and Richard Duke of York are seen playing around the White Tower, the headless ghost of Anne Boleyn stalks the halls terrifying the Yeoman Warders and so on.
    • Scotland is full of them. Most Scottish castles seem to have a ghost, though a couple of standouts are Edinburgh, Glamis and Fyvie. Here is a very incomplete list.