Temple of Doom

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Also called the main characters' special graveyard.[1]

"Where there's ruins, there's riches! And booby-traps we can steal ideas from!"

Strong Bad, Homestar Runner

An ancient temple or city, usually buried deep within the jungle or in the middle of the desert. The temple is often full of ancient yet sophisticated machines and Booby Traps that still work to lethal effect even after thousands of years without maintenance.

The Temple of Doom is almost always inhabited, often by the same Mooks and monsters found in the surrounding environment—oddly, they know how to avoid every single trap in the Death Course—but you can also expect things like ghosts, skeletons, living statues and other ancient guardians. And naturally, whatever treasure you go in there to find will be found in the very spot the Giant Space Flea From Nowhere has decided to make its home.

Occasionally, the Temple of Doom will be co-opted by the Big Bad to use as his base, which would explain why the traps still work. In which case, you can also expect his Mooks and a few high-tech surprises as well.

Named for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which serves as an obvious inspiration for these levels.

May contain valuable artifacts. Logical location for Look on My Works Ye Mighty and Despair, if the work is philosophically inclined.

May be part of an Advanced Ancient Acropolis, and imply a Mayincatec religion, culture or whatever.

Compare Ruins for Ruins Sake, Dungeon Crawling, and Landmark of Lore.

Examples of Temple of Doom include:

Comic Books

  • Classic Carl Barks stories with Donald Duck and his relatives usually featured this as a plot device. There are also two scenes which Indiana Jones copied from such stories, which both Lucas and Spielberg proudly admitted. The one is the introduction idol and boulder scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was taken from the Seven Cities of Cibola and the other is the water bursting through the tunnel to the canyon side, near the end of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This wasn't an actual trap of the temple, in the movie, but it was in the original comic, The Prize of Pizarro, which also contained some other traps used throughout the Indiana Jones' films. After Barks, other writers would too feature such temples and ruins.



  • Deconstructed in Reaper Man. The temple of doom is staffed by a pair of bored priests. About the only excitement they get is listening to interlopers get killed by the deathtraps. There's even a little thermometer fundraising poster on the wall for the Temple Of Doom Roof Repair Fund.
  • Some Fighting Fantasy gamebooks featured such a place. Actually, one of the books is titled Temple of Terror.
  • Temple. An ancient South American temple buried in a giant pillar of rock, full of demonic cat monsters. And treasure, obviously.
  • Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard: Common in the stories. The problem in "The Devil in Iron" kicked off when a fisherman disturbed a body of a Necromancer; "Black Colussus" opens with a thief raiding a ruined city.

Live Action Television

  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena visits one of these in the episode "Prometheus".
  • One cannot count how many entered The Shrine of The Silver Monkey and never returned.
  • On Lost, the Others are mentioned as having a temple of some kind in the third season finale. In typical Lost fashion, it isn't seen until the sixth season premiere. It is guarded by a large stone wall, a tunnel system, and various other weapons, and contains a healing pool of some sort. The Temple's exact significance is unknown.

Tabletop Games

This is part of the hat of the Necrons in particular, though their architecture is a metallic version. Imperial scholars have been studying some of the surface bits of them for generations, but it is only in recent history that the Stasis Tombs have begun to "wake up", their Inter-spacial Gates opening with a Sickly Green Glow, and legions of metal skeletons animate and begin their terrible work.
  • Exalted has more than a few of these, but one stand-out example is the city of Denandsor. Buried in the jungles of the Scavenger Lands, it's full of the treasures and wonders of the First Age, as well as the means of production to make more. So why hasn't anyone claimed it yet? Well, when the Great Contagion hit, the guy in charge of the city (who didn't fully understand how it worked) turned on every defense at once in the vague hope that it'd do something. As a result, not only is it full of giant automatons that will stomp any intruders, but it's also cloaked in a field that instills horrible dread in whoever enters the city walls. If people survive getting into the city, they usually don't stay for long.

Video Games

  • Skies of Arcadia: Nearly every Moon Crystal is found in one of these.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has so many, it'd be quicker to list games in the series that don't have one of these.
  • Donkey Kong Country has a "Millstone Mayhem" stage as the last non-boss stage in Monkey Mines, as well as a "Temple Tempest" level near the end of Vine Valley.
  • Star Fox Adventures really likes these: Volcano Force Point, Ocean Force Point, Walled City, and Krazoa Palace.
  • A large number of levels in the Crash Bandicoot franchise.
  • A very large number of levels in the Zelda franchise. There's the occasional level inside a suitably enormous creature, and occasionally a level still inhabited by its original builders (the Gerudo Fortress in Ocarina of Time, the Hyrule Castle Tower in A Link to the Past), but most dungeons are of the Temple of Doom variety, frequently mixed with some other theme. In The Adventure of Link, not only are all eight dungeons Temple of Doom-type, the monsters within them are ostensibly not on the same side as the ones on the World Map.
  • If it wasn't for this trope, everyone's favorite Tomb Raider would have enormously less to do for a living.
    • Oddly, sealed-up tombs, with no apparent exits to the outside world apart from the door Lara Croft has just opened, still contain live animals, burning fires, infinite
      • There are some bits of bone or shredded clothing that indicated a...sticky end for some explorers in some levels.
  • Final Fantasy VII's Temple of the Ancients.
  • Final Fantasy X has three lost temples, each with a sidequest that unlocks an Aeon.
  • While conspicuously light on the booby-traps, Final Fantasy XII has the Tomb of King Wraithwall, complete with a That One Boss, a Bonus Boss, and lots and LOTS of undead things crawling around. And it has the Stillshrine of Miriam. And Giruvegan. And Ridorina. And the Sochen Cave Palace. It makes you wonder why modern civilization bothered to build anything, since there's probably enough hidden temples and lost cities to house a nation.
  • Mayahem Temple from Banjo-Tooie.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has several dozen "Daedric ruins" scattered around the country. Each comes complete with a Giant Statue of Doom, Gems of Doom that summon Demons of Doom to attack you when you try to snatch them, and plenty of Cultists of Doom.
    • The various ancient Nord barrows in Skyrim also qualify, being filled with booby traps and mummified tomb guardians.
  • The Ceras Lake Ruins in Suikoden V. Ask not, "why give a sluice control for a dam a complex three-layered lock that can only be unlocked by three buttons on the far sides of a labyrinth, a door controlled by a one-of-a-kind magic rune and fill it with Magitek robot guardians?", because the game certainly isn't going to tell you.
  • La-Mulana has a single Temple of Doom, the titular ruins, contain all the levels in the entire game.
  • Levels 10-13 of Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame are set in a literal temple, which actually contains most of the Mooks in the game. Levels 6-9 are in a the ruins of a palace, now inhabited by snakes and flying heads.
  • Diablo II has lots of them, naturally. Working from memory, there's the various Tombs of Tal Rasha; the temples under the Flayer Jungle, large parts of Kurast...
    • The original Diablo was a series of Basements of Doom.
  • The "Temple of Bù" in Little Big Adventure—traps, skeletons and stuff, not to mention it is located underground in the middle of the desert. In the second game, it got turned into a Theme Park and the aliens' secret base.
  • The third Quest for Glory game features such a temple as the base of the demons looking to do a divide and conquer on the different peoples of Tarna.
  • Oddworld: Abe's Oddyssey has the Paramonia and Scrabania temples.
  • Metroid has some, though the temples are mostly futuristic (the biggest being "Temple Of Doom meets Eternal Engine" Sanctuary Fortress from Metroid Prime 2), and the most dangerous aren't contraptions, but post-abandonment inhabitants (or in the case of the Sanctuary Fortress, old inhabitants, the haywire-security robots).
    • Super Metroid: Ridley and company inhabit what appear to be ruins of Chozo civilization, deep within Zebes.
  • Tales of Symphonia has eight Temples Of Doom, one for each element, where you find the summon spirits.
  • Mother 3 features the Chupichupyoi Temple; however it isn't a dungeon, but a key location, and it doesn't try to kill you at all.
    • A straighter example from the franchise is EarthBound's Scaraba Pyramid.
  • The Wild ARMs games are full of these, often just lying around inexplicably, often with fiendish traps that just happen to be able to be bypassed using one of the tools the party has picked up along the way.
  • Both Valkyrie Profile and Valkyrie Profile 2 have about half a dozen of them.
  • World of Warcraft has one or two dungeons that fit, but the best example is probably the Sunken Temple. A large temple to the serpent god Hakkar, sunk beneath the waters of a lake, hence the name. Infested with dragons and zombie trolls.
    • Also the Black temple. Filled with demons, crazy orcs, a big bad and even an eldritch abomination.
    • Most of the troll temples/ruins qualify (Zul'Gurub, Zul'Aman...)
    • Zul'Drak is an entire leveling zone that is a Temple of Doom. And there is a more classic enclosed Temple of Doom at the far end of it.
    • The Temple of Ahn'Qiraj.
  • All of the temples in Secret of Mana.
  • Super Smash Bros.. Brawl has a classically annoying Ruins level in the Subspace Emissary.
  • Fallout 2 begins with a Temple of Doom. There's no justification for it in game or real world history, but it's so Doomy that surviving instantly makes you The Chosen One, even though one of your tribesmen are waiting for you inside.
  • Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem features two: an ancient temple in the Angkor Thom region of Cambodia, that is home to Mantorok (as well as all kinds of traps), and the Forbidden City, which is home to the essences of the Ancients at the start of the game (though not quite as trap-filled as the former).
  • Dragon Age: Origins has a few, one being a stronghold built to protect the Urn of Sacred Ashes, and one being a not-fully-explained Tevinter ruin in the depths of the Brecilian Forest that changed hands a few times long before the players arrived. Both share the same tileset, but have very different arrays of enemies inside.
  • You can build your own in Dwarf Fortress, should you so desire.
  • Uncharted. Since it's basically Tomb Raider without the mammaries, it has all the same temples and nearly as much doom.
  • Pokémon Gold and Silver has a rather tame version of this. The Ruins of Alph contain puzzles which you can solve, but once you do, the floor drops out from under you and strange creatures attack you with mystical power.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the Hidden Temple, which is loaded with all kinds of traps involving arrows, poison gas, boulders, swinging blades, and an homage to the Indiana Jones puzzle that used stone tiles engraved with letters. Although a few of the puzzles are necessary to locate the Hidden City during the level 11 quest, most of the incentive for visiting the Hidden Temple lies in the traps themselves, which provide quick stat gains if you can keep your HP above zero, with the caveat that you'll gain no items, currency, or familiar experience like you would from adventuring somewhere with monsters to fight. The Ancient Buried Pyramid is another Temple of Doom, this time filled with monsters that impede your progress in solving the puzzle in the lower chambers. It's worth noting that these two examples are located in a jungle and a desert, respectively.
  • The Shadow Warriors' hideout in Double Dragon.
  • Chapter 4 of Resident Evil 5 mostly takes place in a Temple of Doom.
  • The Shrine of Storms from Demon's Souls fits this trope to a T, especialy the second stage. Deadly falls everywhere, explosive sphers of energy, arrow traps when you least expect them, enemies positioned in such a way that you can't see them until it is too late and invisible enemies that ambush you and are more than happy to backstab you when you are busy dealing with other enemies. Also, did we mention the place is pitch dark in some places?
  • Clockwork Ruins Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy 2.
  • Jumper Two begins with Ogmo falling into such a temple. Sector 2 of Jumper Three also fits this trope.
  • Fun Orb's "Tomb Racer".
  • Resident Evil 5 uses an ancient African ruined city as a setting. It has a few traps, some more ridiculous than others.
  • Albion has the Drinno, the abandoned section of the Druid School. There's also Khamulon that is built on this theme, but it's actually a city.
  • The Temple Stage in the Famicom/NES version of Salamander/Life Force and the TurboGrafx-16 version of Gradius II.
  • Blaster Master's Stage 2.
  • There's such a level in Bujingai Swordmaster. However it's partially averted, since the temple itself is full of light and looks quite normal, if it weren't for some traps and the demons all around.
  • The second level of Viewtiful Joe 2 even references the title- Viewitiful Heroes and the Statue of Doom.
  • You'd think that an Owl Temple would be nice to an Owlboy? Nope.
  • Minecraft has two types of doom temples. The first is a pyramid in desert regions where the basement has some treasure chests, but stepping on the nearby pressure plate will make the TNT below explode, killing you and destroying the loot. The second are temples in jungle areas which are less dangerous that the TNT traps in the pyramids, but the temples have tripwires connected to a dispenser filled with arrows and you will be shot to death should you trip the wires.
  • Shining the Holy Ark has three. South Shrine which is part Shifting Sand Land with weird corridors that turn you upside-down. West Shrine which is basically one big puzzle to get a door to open and East Shrine; which is overgrown with giant ancient trees.
  • Something Rom Hack series
    • Oldschool Temple in Something. The graphics come from the Pyramid Levels in Super Mario Bros. 2 and the Labyrinth Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog. The music is a remix of Marble Garden Zone Act 2 from Sonic the Hedgehog 3. The level is filled with large pits in the first half and Thwomps and spikes in the second half.
    • Puzzle Temple in Something Else. To complete this optional level, Luigi has to solve the puzzles, which requires proper use of the springboards and P-Switches.
  • Rockman 6: Unique Harassment
    • Pharaoh Man's level, Ancient Temple, takes place in an ancient temple in the desert. It uses Pharaoh Man's tileset from Rockman World 4 in the first half and Uranus's tileset from Rockman World 5 in the second half. Doc Robot with Enker's powers is the mid-boss of this level.
    • Mr. X Stage 2 is based on the Labyrinth Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog, complete with drowning mechanic and reused tileset. For some reason, the boss of the level is a Dr. Cossack clone.


  • The fantasy satire The Fourth opens with one of these, though it ends up being more of a Noob Cave than anything else.

Web Original

  • Journey Quest contains the Temple Of All Dooms as a storage for the Sword of Fighting. It seems to follow the trope, though it's weak to Cutting the Knot.

Western Animation

  • The temple of the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode, "The Firebending Masters," with killer spikes, a secretly-cached MacGuffin, a room that fills full of killer glue, and a justification for the fact that everything's still working: the ancient extinct civilization that built it is not actually extinct. How everyone missed this, who knows.
  • The ancient ruins Daring Do explores in "Read It and Weep" is filled with gauntlets of deadly traps, and was apparently built on top of an active lava flow that can also be utilized as a trap.
  1. Clockwise from top-left: EarthBound, Metroid, Wario Land, La-Mulana, Kirby and The Amazing Mirror, Spelunky
  2. Plus the attractions based on them at Disney Theme Parks.