Scenery Gorn

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
Miracleman.jpg

Zaphod: I can just slouch about, taking a look at the local scenery..
Gargravarr: Have you seen the local scenery?
A blast door grinds open, wind howls mournfully
Zaphod: Ah. Okay. Well, I'll just slouch about then...
--The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (radio), Fit the Eighth.

Picture this: you are making your dream After the End film, comic, manga, or book, and you need a way to really knock it into your audience that this is, indeed, a Crapsack World. What do you do? Cue slow pan over abandoned, bleak, ruined cityscape or radiation-scorched wilderness. Preferably both. If you're doing a Cyberpunk work, be sure to have gloomy, twilit skyscrapers towering over masses of stinking poverty—lots of smokestacks by the slums, and advertising choking the more... economically robust areas. If you're making a Disaster Movie, be sure to have tons of destroyed skyscrapers, overturned cars, general burning chaos, or in the aftermath, mute, smoky desolation.

If it's post-apocalyptic, it's a look of abandonment rather that slums/sprawl or recent destruction. Buildings are crumbling, collapsed, torn open, leaning. There are rubble piles at the base of walls, peeling paint. Familiar objects are weathered, rusted, rotted, sun-bleached, and may be encrusted in dirt and dust which has been wetted by rain at some point and dried. Buildings, vehicles, etc may be half-buried in sediment as if a flood had come through, basically they're melted into the ground. Cracked desert soil is common, though not required, the next likely option is jungle-like overgrowth as the Earth retakes the city. Many of these elements are directly based on what has already happened in real abandoned locations.

Scenery Porn refers to lavish attention to background details, made in order to suck the viewers into a beautiful, gloriously detailed otherworld. Scenery Gorn, on the other hand, means to bludgeon viewers with a lavishly detailed depiction of absolute hell on earth, or scenes of complete and utter destruction and deprivation.

This is also popular with apocalyptic and disaster films. Compare Desolation Shot. Ruins of the Modern Age is a subtrope. Contrast Apocalypse Wow, which has a broader variety of uses. If the apocalypse involved a plague or virus instead of bombs, expect Ghost City.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) renderings seem to go hand-in-hand with Scenery Gorn, as everybody taking pics of real-life examples (below) seems to be addicted to HDR. Seems to be uniquely useful here since interiors lit only with sunbeams through windows or holes can't be accurately depicted with normal photographic technology when lit as they actually occur, and that natural lighting is essential to remaining authentic to the scene.

Keep in mind that the line between Scenery Gorn and Scenery Porn is highly subjective. Especially in settings where the abandoned ruins have long since been reclaimed by the forces of nature.

Crapsack World pretty much always involves Scenery Gorn, but the principle difference is that Scenery Gorn is just the scenery aspect. Crapsack World is the overall dynamics of the entire world.

Closely related (possibly sub-tropes) are Saharan Shipwreck and Ribcage Ridge, and often includes an Empathy Doll Shot.

Not to be confused with decorative lizard men.

Examples of Scenery Gorn include:

Art[edit | hide | hide all]

  • H. R. Giger's landscape paintings. Full stop. Freudian techno-organic hellscapes.

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Akira is mostly one long metaphor for the fragility of cities, so...
  • Barefoot Gen depicts Hiroshima during and after the atomic bombing.
  • Battle Angel Alita. Countless detailed scenes of the Scrapyard and the surrounding desert wastes. So relentless is the decay (and fastidious detail) of Alita that familiarity eventually blurs the line between Scenery Gorn and Scenery Porn.
  • Dorohedoro shows quite a lot of details for its cities. Being mostly a Crapsack World, it is no surprise that there are quite a lot of corpses (and often less pleasant things) decorating it, and sometimes corpses walking in it.
  • Fist of the North Star may qualify. The animation was low enough budget that the backgrounds were never exactly detailed, but you still had plenty of crumbling buildings and of course lots and lots of wasteland. The movie had a larger budget, and had several scenes of destruction and desolation, including an oil tanker impaling a skyscraper. That one appeared twice.
  • Gunsmoke/No Man's Land, being a Single Biome Planet, already has long stretches of desert as far as the eye can see, but once flashbacks to the city of July start happening, this comes into play in an even worse way.
  • Ghost in the Shell has lots of urban decay but for the most parts the cities are still inhabitated by lots of normal people, as it was based on the absurdly uncontrolled dense overgrowth of Kowloon Walled City. The first season of Stand Alone Complex even spends a great deal of time in the clean, bright, and wealthy parts of Japan, but in the second season there are a couple of trips to Tokyo, or rather what's left of it.
  • Laputa, featuring the decay of an ancient fantasy city
  • Wolf's Rain has quite a few examples, particularly the ruined city in "Scars in the Wilderness".
  • Texhnolyze, despite actually being masterfully detailed, features one of the more extreme examples of the Cyberpunk Scenery Gorn setting.
    • Blame and Tsutomu Nihei's works (Biomega, and Abara) could be the manga counterpart for this. There's enough vast, ruined cityscapes to.. well, cover the planet. Definitely an Author Appeal.
  • The Manga version of Berserk is known for being lavishly detailed, featuring battlefields littered with corpses mangled in different ways. It's a Crapsack World full of misery and death, and the art does not flinch from depicting it.
  • In the Naruto manga, we are informed that the lab of Orochimaru that Snake is headed to was for researching the Cursed Seal and this is accompanied by a lovely page-and-a-half layout of one of the escaped subject killing a dozen researchers with their blood all over the walls (including one whose head he just crushed into a wall). In the anime, we only see half of the bodies and there isn't any blood.
  • Tokyo Magnitude 80 has this in abundance, including the opening and ending themes.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle does this in Acid Tokyo.
  • In Ergo Proxy there are frequent shots of scenery gorn related to humans abandoning their cities and moving into massive domes.
  • The first minute of Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0 is nothing but this. Not to mention that in the entire series (both Neon Genesis Evangelion and Rebuild of Evangelion) almost every time an Angel has been defeated, we get a nice shot full of this, to show all the massive damage in its detail.
    • After Rei attempts to take down Zeruel with an N2 mine in 2.0, we're treated to a lengthy shot of a ruined Geofront that includes fallen buildings, burnt trees, and a few charred corpses.
  • Survival by Takao Saitou is set in Japan after a devastating earthquake and features lavishly detailed sceneries of destruction and decay on almost every page.
  • Violence Jack is Gorn on every level, including this one.
  • Madoka Magica: This is the result of Walpurgisnacht. And, depending on how you feel about industrial district, many other locations could qualify. We see the end result in episode 10. This one hits particularly hard because mere hours after the episode aired, well... it caused the two remaining episodes to be declared Too Soon.
  • Dragon Ball, as soon as the cast learns how to blow things up.
  • Macross Frontier combined this with Scenery Porn with respect to the Frontier fleet quite effectively over the run of the series. The first half of the series has the title Frontier fleet as a beautiful, clean, shiny, and lively city on a bay and quite an impressive Wagon Train to the Stars. There's a whole episode devoted to Sheryl gawking in amazement at every aspect of the fleet's ecosystem and cities. Then war happens, and by the last few episodes half the locations Sheryl visited no longer exist and the main island is a ruin of its former self of apocalyptic proportions. No exaggeration. By that time, the government had concluded that the fleet's ecosystem had been irreparably damaged, and within a few months it would no longer be able to sustain its population. Cue Grand Finale.
  • In Zeta Gundam, Kamille and Quattro enter a space colony that was gassed. The colony has low gravity, so building wreckage and lifeless bodies, including children, float around. Its both disturbing to the audience and Kamille.
  • Casshern Sins is yet another example of Scenery Gorn meeting Scenery Porn. The whole world is a desolate hellscape full of sand, rust and ruined buildings, where almost every living thing is dead, and even robots are struggling to survive. But it's all so gorgeously rendered that it manages to make the apocalypse look beautiful.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Watchmen. The aftermath of the psychic explosion from the post-teleport death of the creature Ozymandias beams into New York. Not much damage to buildings but TRUCKLOADS OF DEAD BODIES.
    • Inverted in the movie - buildings crashed by the hundreds in a perfectly spherical crater, but nearly all the dead are completely disintegrated.
  • Pick an issue of either Irredeemable or Incorruptible.
  • One comic in the Marvelman series, featuring Kid Marvelman, has London becoming just about the closest definition of Scenery Gorn after he goes on a murderous rampage through the city and gruesomely murders nearly every inhabitant in a highly disturbing manner. Some of the things shown include people running from a rain of severed hands and feet, skins hung up on clothes lines, corpses impaled on the hands of Big Ben, the Tower Bridge in ruin, mounds of severed heads, heads on pikes, cars full of people plummeting to earth, mutilated children wandering screaming through the streets, and countless dead bodies.
  • The Invisibles has the blasted, holocaust-slum lands of the Outer Church, devastated cityscapes filled with impaled corpses and stalked by the nightmare figures of the Archons and their servants.

Documentary[edit | hide]

Fanfic[edit | hide]

  • Tiberium Wars. The descriptions of ruined environments, destroyed cities, and the active annihilation of the landscape is done with almost worrying relish.
  • Land Before Time fan fics with Scenery Gorn? Hell yes!
    • The Mysterious World starts out normal. Later, it shifts to an outright scenery gorntastic depiction of post-apocalyptic London.
    • Time Gate LBT has some scenery gorn depicting Pittsburgh the entire US in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.
    • Out of the Shadows is an extremely dark and very bloody fan fiction. It starts out normal but dark. However, dark becomes pitch black, when the scenery gorntastic descriptions of a war ravaged Great Valley come in.
  • Poke Wars shows the raw power of undampened Pokémon by describing the ravaged landscapes that the battles leave behind.

Film[edit | hide]

  • James Cameron's Avatar has a fine example with the first human installation that we see on Pandora, a pit mine in the middle of a beautiful bioluminescent forest. Later in the film, the destruction of the Hometree.
  • Armageddon (The post-meteor shower shots of New York City)
  • Black Hawk Down.
  • Blade Runner. Almost the de-facto example of Scenery Gorn, with dozens of slow camera pans depicting the Los Angeles megacity.
  • Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
  • Cloverfield.
  • The battlefield scene at the beginning of Patton.
  • The Day After Tomorrow does this to the entire world.
  • Doomsday has many scenes of a decayed and abandoned Glasgow in the aftermath of a plague.
  • I Am Legend.
  • Independence Day's multiple shots of ruined New York and Los Angeles after the alien attack. (Also other cities around the world, as much of an afterthought as this parenthesis.) The strongest of these was probably when Jasmine first emerges from the rubble and sees the ruins of Los Angeles, complete with poignant background music.
  • Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings had this in spades.
    • LOTR is made of Scenery Porn during the "good times" parts, and Scenery Gorn during the "struggling times" parts. You could make the argument that LOTR could be referred to as simply Cinemasturbation for its attention to detail in everything.
    • The best example is probably the view of the ruination of the Shire in the Mirror of Galadriel (the actual canon Scouring of the Shire was cut from the films, so this was Jackson's way of wedging it in). As Sam and Frodo say in the books, seeing your own home devastated when you remember it being pleasant is far more horrifying than some anonymous landscape that you never knew before it was ruined.
    • Mordor itself is Scenery Gorn
  • While the Mad Max films are mostly set in regions that were pretty desolate to begin with, some urban ruins viewed from the air at the end of Beyond Thunderdome do invoke this trope.
  • 28 Days Later. London is still in good shape, it's just ominously empty and has some overturned cars and scattered trash. On the other hand, the entire city of Manchester is a burning ruin.
  • Terminator managed Scenery Gorn without actually having the budget to have that much actual scenery.
    • The larger budget of Terminator 2 allowed for this combined with Desolation Shot in the opening scenes, complete with the classic "sea" of human skulls covering the ground, and the title sequence of a children's playground burning in the nuclear fires.
  • Parodied in Scary Movie 4 where Detroit is shown this way both before and after the alien invasion, the only difference being the latter having TriPods.
  • Parodied in Idiocracy - the cause of the destruction is not war of any sort, but the degenerating intelligence of the human race. Incomplete highways that people drive off anyway, buildings held together with duct tape, etc.
  • The Matrix films (particularly the first) certainly spent some time on the "desert of the real".
  • No Country for Old Men has plenty of this - from the barren, desolate Texas scenery to the long shots of dead bodies in the early stages of decay. Lesser directors might have actually shown the firefight between the dealers that Llewellyn stumbles upon. This would have been a mistake, as the audience likely would have found it to be exciting. Instead, all we see is the horrifying aftermath, and it is incredibly disturbing and effective.
  • To show the raging chaos Los Angeles is in at the start of Demolition Man, the Hollywood sign is on fire.
  • Sky Blue has numerous shots of the desolate world being pounded by a 100-year-old toxic rainfall.
  • 2012's use of this was parodied even before it came out. The main characters say "Hey, come look at this!" often during the film just to show off the effects: LA crumbling and sliding into the sea, Hawaii, the Crack in Las Vegas, the tsunami coming over the... oh heck. It's two hours of Scenery Gorn. (The movie seems well aware of its purpose as such and dashes through the pseudo-explanation and character introduction with efficient haste to get to the show.)
  • The Remake of Dawn of the Dead starts with Scenery Gorn in the making. Tired from her long shift, the protagonist fails to recognize the numerous clues about the in-progress Zombie Apocalypse until the next morning.
  • Koyaanisqatsi's "Pruitt-Igoe" sequence.
  • Wristcutters: A Love Story is full of this. The movie takes place in an afterlife for people who commit suicide. It's pretty much barren wasteland with various heaps of trash strewn all over the place.
  • 9 is MADE of this.
  • The city in Se7en, where urban decay is exaggerated to emphasize that this is a Crapsack World. Also Real Is Brown, and heavy doses of Film Noir.
  • Take your pick among every war movie ever made.
  • The Dollars Trilogy was famous for this. While the environments were very beautiful, they were almost always parched, dusty and deadly-looking. Even the farm at the beginning of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is surrounded by miles of vast nothing.
  • Played for Laughs in Mars Attacks!! - The Martians are shown taking great glee in creating this. Among other things, our heroes are awarded medals in front of the wrecked Capitol building.
  • The Element of Crime: In the grim darkness of post-World War II Germany, there are only ruins and flooded buildings.
  • Star Trek III: The Search For Spock: Destruction of the Enterprise, and maybe the death throes of the Genesis Planet as well.
  • Tarkovsky's STALKER spends nearly three hours alternating between this and plain old Scenery Porn. It goes from a nearly-abandoned and falling apart city to beautiful grasslands and then to a half dozen destroyed tanks in about ten minutes. That is lightning quick for a Tarkovsky movie.
  • The Road is pretty much composed of this trope, along with After the End.
  • Dagon's Imboca has seen better days, to put it mildly.
  • Dances with Wolves, when we see the buffalo that were killed just for the sake of killing them.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon does this with the Decepticon invasion and destruction of Chicago.
  • Battle: Los Angeles has numerous wide shots of the titular city, with burning buildings, heavy palls of smoke, and countless strewn bodies. Pretty much any wide shot in the first two minutes and after the first twenty minutes involves this.
  • In Toy Story 3, the dump, the conveyor belt, and the incinerator. Dear GOD, the incinerator.
  • The original cut ending of Alien: Resurrection, restored in the special edition, has Ripley and Call sitting in a desert-like area of Earth filled with all kinds of debris. The final shot reveals that they're overlooking a thoroughly destroyed Paris, complete with the Eiffel Tower missing the top half and an orange-tinted cloudy sky (apocalypticly confirming an earlier throw-away line, "Earth... what a shithole.").
  • The Earth in WALL-E is weirdly both this and Scenery Porn: the trash-covered wasteland is both pretty depressing and awe-inspiring at the same time.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Dark Tower contains numerous, detailed descriptions of the post-apocalyptic land of Mid-World. Some of King's descriptions are quite creative, especially when it comes to mutated animals and "thinnies."
  • The page-quote is from the original radio broadcast of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but in Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, Zaphod visits essentially the same place, a bombed-out wasteland of a planet, littered with the crashed hulks of numerous buildings.
  • In the later Harry Potter books, as Voldemort has risen to power, Diagon Alley (the reader's original introduction to the fantastical magic world) is depicted with abandoned storefronts and dark figures. Evidence that the magical world is truly turning into a dark and unhappy place. The only exception is the Weasley twins' store, which stands out as a colorful and delightful shop... the reader knows it would have been just another store in the first or second books.
  • Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon, which is hardly surprising as it deals with the aftermath of a nuclear war.
  • Lucifers Hammer by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven is full of this.
  • H.G. Wells' works The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds do this. The first does this with Earth at the end of the planet, and the second does this with a barren, Red Weed-stricken London.
  • In the short story "Ananke" from Stanislaw Lem's Tales of Pirx the Pilot, a long time is spent describing the wreck of a huge (as in, 100000 tons heavy) crashed rocket.
  • The Zone from Roadside Picnic is a town that got turned into a disaster area by an alien visitation. It's described as looking completely normal, if deserted, at first glance, yet having many subtle unsettling details - non-decaying trucks, shadows that point in the wrong direction. It's riddled with invisible death traps and physics-defying artifacts.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Battlestar Galactica has this when the humans reach the first Earth.
    • Although it did not happen in the Miniseries, The Plan had shots of (almost) every Colony during the Cylon Holocaust, with Nightmare Fuellerrific images of burning cities and fleeing (or dying) people in a 10 minutes sequence.
  • Stephen King's The Stand.
  • Taken somewhat literally in one episode of Sanctuary, with the shredded bodies of hundreds of mermaids floating in the ocean. (Humorously enough, the mermaids are shown in graphic, almost clinical detail—except for Barbie Doll Anatomy.)
  • The first 17 minutes of the first episode of FlashForward is dedicated to showing the destruction that occured in downtown LA when the entire world's population simultaneously blacked out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. There are more images from around the world throughout the rest of the episode.
  • Life After People doesn't just show us scenery gorn, it gives us a depressing play-by-play of just how well the stuff we made would last without constant maintenance.
  • Storm Chasers has this on occasion when tornadoes the teams are pursuing strike a populated area; Yazoo City, Mississippi and the numerous tornado outbreaks in 2011 being among the biggest examples.
  • Threads. From the moment when the bomb hits Sheffield, there's nothing but scenery gorn - collapsed, burning buildings, piles of corpses, feral dogs. And when the action moves into the countryside, nuclear winter has taken care of all plant and animal life. Crapsack World doesn't even begin to cover it.
  • Doctor Who: "1980, Sarah, if you want to get off...]" The quote comes from "Pyramids of Mars," the scene where the Doctor takes her to an alternate 1980—a barren, stormy wasteland, shredded in the wake of Sutekh's wrath. Other Doctor Who stories to feature this include just about ANY Dalek story, "The Brain of Morbius," "Survival," and countless others.
  • Warehouse 13: At the end of Season 3, we get a rather graphic depiction of the Warehouse being completely destroyed in an explosion. It's quite impressive.
  • Shows up occasionally in Power Rangers/Super Sentai. Usually in Zord fights only a few buildings, if any, are damaged. But on special occasions the city can get quite smashed up. One of the best known is of course the rampage of the Dragonzord towards the end of the Evil Green Ranger saga from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
  • Parodied by Community in all three of their episodes about paintball. Jeff wakes up after a nap in his car to find the entirety of Greendale empty, with every square inch covered in dots of paint. Shutters are closed, everything's flipped over to form cover and there's things strewn all around. What's most impressive about this is that the first paintball episode wasn't the season finale, so somebody had to clean up the entire set ready to begin filming the last few episodes.

Music[edit | hide]

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Though some places are less Grimdark than others, official art of Imperial cities in Warhammer 40,000 counts as this before the conflicts that blast them into ruins. Mountains of skulls, the charred remains of witches or mutants hanging from gibbets lining the streets, gothic cathedrals towering over throngs of hollow-eyed citizens, ominous hive cities dotting industrial wastelands covering entire planets...
    • The Planetstrike expansion allows Scenery Gorn of the do-it-yourself variety. Scenarios consists of a defender setting up a fortress, and the attacker blowing it to hell with orbital bombardments and drop troops. One battle report displayed before-and-after pics of the battlefield - the "before" image was a standard-issue Imperial desert fortress encrusted with fortifications, and the "after" image was mainly craters, still-bubbling laser beam scars, and similar wreckage.
  • Rifts wallows in this, between the post-apocalyptic ruins, the Cyberpunk aesthetic of the cities, and the Alien Intelligences and their magical creations and experiments. External and internal artwork is full of Scenery Gorn; check out the cover of Madhaven, for example.
  • Wraith: The Oblivion and the later books of Orpheus go into great detail describing the Shadowlands, the realm of the dead. Places and things with strong emotional attachments that are destroyed in the world of the living still exist in there, but greatly damaged and decayed and crammed in together with other things from different eras. Necropoli, or reflections of still living cities, are particularly prone to this, as are places strongly associated with death; several places associated with the Holocaust are so horrific they get their own very disturbing yet surprisingly respectful volume. As it takes place after a huge Underworld cataclysm, Orpheus makes the Shadowlands an even nastier place to be.
  • The blasted landscape of Dominaria in Magic: The Gathering's Time Spiral block is as much a star as the characters going through the block's storyline.

This can't be Jamuraa. We could not have failed her this badly...

  • Shadowrun gives us such appalling sights as the Shattergraves, Bug City, the hellhole that is much of West Africa, and assorted toxic waste zones.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Plaguelands in World of Warcraft, as well as most of the other undead areas. The Eastern Plaguelands are particularly decrepit. The sky is a sickly rusty orange, the trees have tumorous growths sticking out of them, there are mutant creatures everywhere, and that's all before you reach the Plaguewood. It all gives a definite impression that the land itself is being poisoned.
    • After the Cataclysm expansion, a good percentage of Azeroth's geography now counts as this. Ironically, even as the Barrens have been split in two by a molten fissure and the Badlands scarred by dragonfire, the Western Plaguelands have made a nearly full recovery from the plague of undeath.
  • In Battlefield: Bad Company and its sequel you can actually make it happen as environment is highly destructive.The creators were well aware of how fun it is to destroy maps,thus gave players a lot of destructive equipment:C4,grenade launchers,rockets,tanks and more.In BC 2 you can bring down whole buildings and dig craters in the ground!
  • The introduction to Fallout 1 ends with a slow zoom out to reveal the television we have been watching is sitting unattended in a ruined house in a blasted, ruined cityscape.
  • Final Fantasy VII begins with this trope: a wretched cyberpunk metropolis of Midgar in birds-eye view... and then you fall into the shoes of terrorists blowing up a scary mad science installation.
    • Another scene not that long afterwards (well, relatively; this is an RPG we're talking about) involves literal gore as well, which, according to your tastes, also doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome - your party must outrun the Midgar Zolom to proceed, which, at this point in the game, is very strong. Upon escaping it, they prepare to enter the Mythril Mine... and see the corpse of another Midgar Zolom impaled on a tree, courtesy of Sephiroth.
  • Emblematic of the Silent Hill series, which at best features abandoned, fog-shrouded streets and buildings in varying states of disuse and decay, and often switches to a twisted mirror characterised by blood, metal gratings, rust, blood, and more blood. Oh, and monsters. Lots of monsters.
  • Resident Evil. The old school Playstation series resorted to using static images for scenarios due to their much higher detail, which happened to be good enough to stick for the Gamecube releases.
    • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis deserves special mention for its many cutscenes depicting Raccoon City's descent into chaos, culminating in a nuclear strike that obliterates the entire town. It was very impressive CGI at the time, and even today the destruction is glorious to behold.
  • BioShock (series) has your character arrive on the scene in Rapture after a lot of crap has gone down. Evidence of firefights, messages written in blood on the walls, damaged electronics and wires, corpses, and whole areas frozen off by sub-zero seawater leaks are visible at every third step. Ghostly hallucinations and audio tapes give you an idea of what the slum used to be like.
    • During the first underwater section of the sequel, Subject Delta can see the Rapture skyline, complete with decaying, flooded buildings.
  • STALKER actually manages to do a good job of this. You don't expect to see abject ruination on the scale of an all-out nuclear post-apocalypse, but the empty, decaying land and the ugly concrete convey the idea of an eerily unlivable zone picked over by the desperate. Of course, then you find the mutants, zombies, and deadly anomalies—but aside from all that, just the patina of rust and decrepitude over everything is haunting.
    • In the early betas, STALKER featured even more desolation and destruction; eg. the Dead City with collapsed Soviet-era flats, an old research center in the Dark Valley and more.
    • Most of the scenery is directly based on the photos taken by the game designers in the real area surrounding the infamous Chernobyl nuclear plant. Which, in turn, may not be Scenery Gorn to some but a fascinating and perhaps beautiful outlook into the future after humanity. There have been a few references on the History Channel taking a look at this in their Life After Humans series.
    • The ghillie sniper missions from Call of Duty 4 evoke a similar atmosphere, albeit without anything more fantastic than arms-trading terrorists and wild hounds.
  • Speaking of Call of Duty 4... When Jackson, one of the player characters, staggers out of the crashed helicopter into the hellscape created by the detonation of Al-Asad's nuclear bomb, allowing the player to soak in the devastation before dying of radiation poisoning2.
  • In Modern Warfare 2, the beginning of "Of Their Own Accord". You come out of the bunker and the trenches, to be presented with the ruins of the Washington Monument filling your screen, and the National Mall churned up by shellfire and more trenches. Just to ram the point home, the level up to that point has no music, only radio chatter and distant shell-fire. As you come out of the trench, the music starts, and it's a heartbreaking orchestral piece, perfect to set the tone.
  • Definitely System Shock 2. Seeing what happened to the Von Braun...
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin goes out of its way to show you just how horribly devastated post-explosion Fairport is. One of the most powerful moments is when you reach the epicenter of the explosion... or rather, the edge of the epicenter. Throughout the game, you've been seeing this titanic rising dust cloud spreading over the sky in the distance, but it isn't until the last hour or so of the game that you actually reach the crater itself, which is so vastly immense that standing at the edge simply boggles the mind.
  • Halo 3: ODST plays this especially strongly during the nighttime segments of prowling the Covenant-occupied New Mombasa. Abandoned cars, destroyed vehicles, and burning buildings are common.
  • Resistance 2 shows a shot of San Francisco in flames, being destroyed by Chimera ships, a destroyed Chicago, flooded and filled with corpses as the Chimeran Citadel looms over the city and the abandoned suburban towns of Orick and Twin Falls, made worse by the fact that each town is filled with cocoons, especially the child-sized ones that fill the playgrounds and backyards.
  • According to the developers' commentary, this is used together with Scenery Porn to reward the player for surviving certain sections of Half-Life 2 and Left 4 Dead. Some notable scenes include:
    • The Citadel in Half-Life 2 and at the end of Episode 1.
    • The ruined cityscape after the tunnels in Episode 1.
    • The railroad bridge in Episode 2.
    • The gas station, the view from the top of Mercy Hospital and the airplane crash in Left 4 Dead.
  • Being set in Warhammer 40,000, Dawn of War, its expansions and sequel, has this trope out the wazoo. Levels of devastation range from "simple" craters and structural damage to piles of bodies and ruined vehicles to the very ground and sky itself mutilated and warped by the influence of the Immaterium.
    • Dawn of War II: Retribution may take the cake. One mission has you deploy to a world only for an Imperial fleet to warp in moments later and prepare the world for Exterminatus. Your objective changes from "Get the Big Bad" to "Run like hell to the teleporter beacon." The world has been transformed from a verdant jungle to a burning hellscape, and you race your heroes along the molten rims of craters extending miles into the planet's crust as the ground heaves and screams beneath you. Meanwhile Chaos forces, Tyranids, and Orks are in a frenzy, alternating between running madly and attacking each other in a blind panic. It's both spectacular and screamingly difficult.
  • In World in Conflict, most of the campaign and multiplayer battles tend to end with the map you've been fighting in reduced to nothing more than blackened ground, craters, and ruins. The sky even darkens a little from all the smoke if a battle drags out.
  • In In Famous, a good portion of Empire City is in ruins, which makes for a more visually interesting setting than the generic cityscape Empire looked like before the RaySphere went off. True, it's mostly a boring gray, but even that serves a purpose as it contrasts nicely with Cole's colorful electricity-based powers.
    • The city of New Marais in the sequel has its own example in Flood Town - a ruined parish, still flooded and in ruin, with scrawled messages all over the buildings as the people who live there try to hold on.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, After the End of the World of Balance occurs, and right before Celes' awakening, there's a silent camera pan across the new, twilit face of the World of Ruin, driving home the point that nothing will ever be the same anymore.
    • And then the ending cinematic indulges in Scenery Porn to show how despite all of the devastation, life (and hope) goes on.
  • The Oblivion dimension in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
  • The tutorial of Guild Wars Prophecies ends with the Searing, magical fire raining down on your Doomed Hometown. The next few missions take place in the ruins, which are now a burned-out wastleland; this is particularly effective if you remember how beautiful it was during the tutorial. Other uses of Scenery Gorn include Nightfall's Desolation, a sulfurous desert inhabitable only by the undead and the demonic, and Realm of Torment, the hellish prison of a banished god.
  • The Butcher's room in Diablo, red with blood and full of human bodies mutilated, impaled and/or hung up on hooks.
  • In Cave Story, the Egg Corridor starts off nice and operational. When you visit it again later in the game after It Gets Worse, it's badly damaged as a result of the giant dragon egg hatching.
  • Prototype starts you off in a decent-looking version of Manhattan. As The Virus spreads, the infected areas increase in size—and these are nasty, with blood-red skies, fleshy tendrils crawling across the architecture, crows circling overhead, and, at the center of each one, a building covered in giant, throbbing, suppurating zits. Ew.
  • Metro 2033 has this when you get out onto the surface, coupled with snow, howling wind, and ruined buildings.
  • In Splinter Cell Conviction, Downtown Washington, D.C. after the EMP bombs go off with wrecked buildings or vehicles, fires in the streets and various casualties (you even get to see someone succumb to his wounds before your eyes, with his companion weeping over his body) does more to drive in the evil of Tom Reed's plan than any amount of ranting could. Similarly, the inside of the White House is also disturbing.
  • The Nightmare Ned video game features some really scary scenes, as per the name.
  • Planet Helghan from Killzone 2.
  • American McGee's Alice has this in spades. It's hard to single out just one screenshot for comparison, but this [dead link] pretty much sums up the mood of the new "Wonderland" created by Alice's unbalanced mind.
    • Its sequel, Alice: Madness Returns wavers between gorgeous scenery porn (Oriental area) and horrific scenery gorn (the Hatter's Domain) until Queensland. Then gorn rules the day.
  • Certain areas of StarCraft II, particularly when the Zerg come calling. Tarsonis, Tyrador, and Aiur are big on crumbling buildings, corpses, infestation, and creep, but none of them to the gleeful extent of Mordor Char, especially in "The Gates Of Hell".
  • Most areas of Odium, especially the docks in the beginning.
  • The Enrichment Center in the beginning areas of Portal 2 definitely fits. It's even eerier when you can easily recognize places from the first Portal now crumbling and decaying.
  • The ruined areas of Haven City in Jak and Daxter 3. Like the above example, it's unnerving when you can make out areas you've visited in the previous game now in a state of severe ruin.
  • Manhunt is made of this trope, as the story takes place in a crappy, run-down stand-in for New York City. From the abandoned projects to the empty mall, it's everywhere.
  • Saya no Uta: The protagonist, Fuminori, gets to see literal scenery gorn all the time! Ain't he lucky?
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time When Link emerges from the Temple of Time for the first time as an adult and sees the devastation that Ganondorf's seven-year reign has wrought: The bright, colorful Market with its happy music has been turned to ruins, the carefree villagers replaced by Redead zombies. Likewise, beautiful and majestic Hyrule Castle has been replaced by the onyx coloured Ganon's Castle—hovering over a lake of molten lava, to boot.
  • The bad futures in Sonic CD are dystopian worlds corrupted by Dr. Eggman. Sonic can make these futures better if he fixes what Eggman has done wrong in the past.
    • |The 2006 game and Sonic Generations feature Crisis City, a desolate, ruined city of the future full of flames and wreckage.
      • Also returning in Generations is the ruined Station Square that Perfect Chaos flooded and wrecked in Sonic Adventure. Some of the broken highways are clearly remnants of the Speed Highway stage (which is also in both games).
  • One of the first few things to realize in Inazuma Eleven 2 is that the whole Raimon academy is totally destroyed by aliens. The scene specially pans on the soccer club, which is the heroes' important stronghold in the first game. The school gets better, and more fabulous than ever.
  • Some games in Castlevania series feature this as backgrounds, which include destroyed buildings, flame, and hanged/impaled corpses.
  • Many "City" stages in Contra series are this, usually since you're required to jump from a destroyed building to another while dodging alien rushes and bullets.
  • Togainu no Chi takes place in the ruins of Toshima; the gritty artwork for the backgrounds is very much this.
  • Dark Souls, a Dark Fantasy taking place in the ruined land of Lordran, naturally has plenty of this, from the decrepit Undead Burg to the vile shantytown pit of decay that is Blighttown to the water-logged ruins of New Londo. In fact, according to Director Miyazaki, this sort of beauty is a Central Theme of the game.
  • Dowerton Station, unpleasant enough in Dark Fall: The Journal, has graduated to full-on Scenery Gorn in Dark Fall: Lost Souls.
  • In Final Fantasy V there's a place called Gorn Town that is essentially the abandoned ruin of an ancient town, complete with broken pillars, ruined buildings and plants that have overgrown everything. It was renamed to Gohn in the GBA release, which somewhat ruins the joke.
    • The Ship Graveyard much earlier in the game also qualifies - an entire dungeon made up of nothing but wrecked and ruined ships, many of which are submerged.
  • Afterfall: In Sanity has some awesome scenery gorn, particularly in the City of Light.
  • Super Metroid has Old Tourian, the wreckage of the first game's Tourian, as well as the wrecked ship.
    • In Fusion, after you destroy Nettori, Nightmare lays waste to Sector 5, flooding most of the area.
  • In Chrono Trigger, 2,300 AD is nothing but ruined buildings and blasted land.
    • Chrono Cross gives us the Dead Sea, which is a city from 2,300 AD frozen in time as it was being further destroyed by tidal waves.
  • Because of the post-apocalyptic setting for Fragile Dreams Farewell Ruins of the Moon, expect areas like a deserted amusement park and subway station to be full of this trope.
  • Mass Effect 3: pick a world attacked by Reapers, any world. There's Earth, where you're gunning down Husks not a hundred feet from Reaper Destroyers and their foghorns from hell; Palaven, where you can watch from orbit as cities are consumed by enormous firestorms; Tuchanka, where—okay, Tuchanka was like that before, but it's still a desolate planet full of crumbling ruins and baked dirt although there is still greenery there, and you can do a lot to help; Rannoch, which might or might not feature the remnants of the entire quarian Migrant Fleet falling from orbit; Thessia, which is being invaded en masse by the enormous Banshee husks, made of horribly mutated and dessicated asari; and the Citadel itself, which is torn up by a Cerberus assault and sports scarred decks, charred walls, and splattered blood for the rest of the game. Suffice to say, the galaxy looks like Hell—and it kind of is.
  • Company of Heroes featured this, but in a twist, instead of immediately starting off this, you are the one doing the destruction. Its a sight when you first start off, some french villas, beautiful market squares, and walls. But once the battle actually starts, artillery starts falling, blowing up houses, grenades and mortars start scarring the landscape, and tanks break apart the walls. By the end a battle, the landscape is completely changed, with only an inkling of the past beauty.
  • This trope is almost the entire point of Space Funeral.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Marble Hornets: The strange industrial basement that Alex and later Jay searches has strange blood marks smeared over the walls. Alex's house is in a similar state on the second story before the blood mysteriously disappears later.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In The Animatrix compilation, The Second Renaissance has a shot of a ruined city in the snow in the aftermath of the robot-human war and a scene featuring vast ranks of robot mega-buildings: the buildings are densely covered with matrix pods, each holding a helpless human.
  • Thundarr the Barbarian took this one step further: forget the trashed cities, is that the MOON in pieces up there?
  • Who-Ville in Horton Hears a Who, after Vlad drops the clover from what would be unspeakable hights; to the Whos at least.
  • In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the Kill Sat race between Terry in the Batmobile and Joker with the Halcyon-class laser weapons platform. It's an awesome action scene until you pause to reflect on the fact that Terry just overflew a local shopping mall. The casualties probably outdo those in the first Batman movie's gas attack by an order of magnitude, at least. Then consider the plan to burn a smiley-face into the city from orbit For the Evulz, then add in the typical cyberpunk themes of urban decay and corporate-owned megastructures...
  • The opening sequence of Adventure Time has this right at the beginning. You see a wasteland with some nukes and broken televisions lying around, followed by a zombie-like arm waving out from a tree stump. Also, in "Ocean of Fear", you can see the remains of a city when Finn and Jake go underwater. That's not all, though. In "Mortal Folly", the entrance to the Lich's lair bears resemblance to a subway that's been attacked by the black plague. Oh, you can also see a huge crater in the Earth in "The Real You" if you pause fast enough when Finn puts the glasses on and when they're taken off.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Pictures of abandoned Detroit buildings are even labeled "ruin porn".
  • Abandoned resorts around the Salton Sea. Salton Sea was created by accident in 1905, and saw massive development starting in the 1920's, resorts and marinas popped up all over. But having no outlet (all water which comes in ultimately evaporates) and fed primarily with agricultural runoff and prone to flooding, the water turned toxic by the 60's and mass fish kills turned the place into a stinking cesspit and guests and owners alike packed up and abandoned everything rapidly. It's not only known for the gorn of decaying buildings but the alien landscape of cracked salt-encrusted, dead earth and isolated pools of unnatural green-colored water.
  • Abandoned nuclear missile silos, often full of vintage equipment, and partially flooded.
  • Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike, abandoned via bypass in 1968. Now an example of cracked, wildly overgrown asphalt but still a recognizable highway. Principle setting for filming of The Road.
  • Centralia, PA, abandoned after an invasive coal mine fire undermined much of the small town and flooded it with high levels of carbon monoxide. Inspiration for Silent Hill. In reality, the town was never a big settlement and today most of the abandoned buildings have been demolished and disposed of in an orderly fashion, but there's still all the city block roads, some huge, cracked, smoking upheavals in the ruined Route 61 highway, and various black, smoking cracks in the ground surrounded by death, as the trees and foliage killed by the heat and gas drop all around and into them. A few longterm holdout residents defied the evacuation and continue to live in the town, which lacks any functioning stores or businesses.
  • Most examples are very large, very durable purpose-built buildings which could not effectively be retasked once they outlived their initial purpose, and have been too expensive to tear down. e.g. asylums (mental health isn't conducted this way anymore), sanatoriums (which were for long-treatment of tuberculosis), hospitals (based on obsolete technology), boarding schools (which are rare nowadays), factories based on obsolete products or manufacturing methods, and workhouses/poorhouses (good riddance).
  • Sometimes gorn is reversed. Adam Hats factory in Dallas lay derelict for decades, but then converted into trendy, high-priced hipster lofts without compromising its vintage exterior, which may explain why these structures aren't torn down.
  • Abandoned Six Flags New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina left it under 4–7 ft of brackish water for over a month, leaving most buildings and all ground rides total losses, even though superficially they appear intact. All abandoned amusement parks are inherent examples of this trope, as the dissonance of its joyful, cheery purpose is consumed alive by weeds, sun fading, and rust is readily apparent in almost any photo.
  • Many pictures of the Dust Bowl show tremendous gorn, the most amazing being cars and farm equipment more than half-buried in deposited dust; they appear to be melting into the earth itself.
  • Post nuclear-meltdown Chernobyl was one of the best real-life examples of this trope.
    • The nearby town of Prypiat is similar, but more in an eerie and deserted way. (Particularly with the new funfair that had just been built before the accident.) The animals seem to like the situation though...
  • Post-WW 2 Hiroshima and Nagasaki probably take the title in that category.
  • Major disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides and volcanic eruptions. See the photo galleries The Other Wiki has for Hurricane Katrina, the Great Haitian Earthquake, Armero, and Pompeii.
  • The endless footage of the collapse of the Twin Towers in the days and weeks after September 11, and the pictures of the WTC site between the attacks and the clearing of the rubble.
  • Post-WW 2 Warsaw. It's so damn impressive that they managed to rebuild it almost completely, even expanding it.
    • All firebombed European cities after WWII.
  • For the first ten years after the eruption, the northern slopes of Mt. Saint Helens in Washington. Hundreds of square miles of blasted, gray wasteland covered in burned-out trees and rivers choked with ash and tree trunks. Even today, comparing the lush forests nearby to the colorless desert at the base of the mountain is rather sobering.
  • The paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel.
    • Both of which pale before the "Master of the Aftermath": Zdzislaw Beksinski.
  • Any place there has been a recent forest fire.
  • Many places in Japan are starting to look like this after the 2011 earthquake.
  • Heck, many places in Japan looked like this before the 2011 earthquake. Gunkanjima is a Scenery Gorn tourist attraction.
  • The great Soviet Union, when it was still great, had a tendency to build massive structures in a unique function-over-form styling (or lack thereof). Then it wasn't great anymore, money ran out, and they stopped building stuff that looked like it came out straight from Command & Conquer. More importantly, a large amount of the existing structures and the small cities surrounding them were abandoned, and now they are a favourite target for adventurous photographers. Witness the gorn.
  • Mountaintop removal mining.
  • Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois, which rotted away for over three decades before finally being demolished in 2012 and is most notable for being the mall from The Blues Brothers (it was already abandoned even then, hence why they had no qualms of trashing the place).
  • Fort Ord, an abandoned military base on the Monterey Bay, full of old beige post war buildings now boarded up and being enveloped by nature.