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Whenever The Dark Lord rises to gather his armies and bring destruction upon the lands of men, elves, dwarves and the race of funny midgets, he always, always, always does this from a stronghold built in the most frigid, dark, frigid, remote, frigid, cold, benighted corner of the wasteland that usually gets simply called "the North".

This trope may stem from how generally inhospitable the North often is to human (and other) life. While a gentle cover of snow can imply romance, and snow can often be used to create an incredibly beautiful and peaceful otherworldly air, when taken to blizzard-level extremes it becomes an icy hell. As many forms of Always Chaotic Evil creatures are somehow protected from extreme cold- for example, the undead simply don't care about temperatures- the North is an environment where the Forces of Good are often at a disadvantage. It might also have its roots in Medieval history, as the Vikings would often come from Scandinavia to the European coastlines for some good ol' pillage and burn.

Northern wastelands being what they are, now and then some ancient civilization or other figures out such an inhospitable place would be perfect for preserving the Sealed Evil In A Can.

It is interesting to note that while it is true that people living up north on a standard-shaped planet don't get all that much sun in the winter and tend to be a bit gloomy, people seem to forget that they also don't have a proper night in the summer.

Not to be confused with Oop North, though it's not exactly a barrel of laughs over there, either.

  • In The Silmarillion, Morgoth's fortress is in the north extreme of Beleriand.
    • There's also the Witch King of the Lord Of The Rings fame, whose realm of Angmar lay in the far north of the world.
  • The Witch Lich King of the Warcraft fame, whose realm of Northrend lies in the far north of the world.
    • Averted in World of Warcraft: The snowiest, coldest region -- Dun Morogh -- is located on the equator. It's also considerably less grim than many other regions.
  • In the campaign setting Midnight, the evil god who was cast down from the Heavens retreats to the North to gather his strength and from there launches his campaign of conquest.
  • In George R. R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire, the Wall protects the civilized people from all kinds of scary stuff that live in the north.
  • The elves of the Iron Kingdoms sealed the heart of the dragon Everblight on the top of the highest mountain they could find. Guess which direction a horde of monstrous Body Horror dragonspawn is pouring out from?
  • Even in the Finnish national epic Kalevala, the northerners are the bad guys.
  • The world of Warhammer gets steadily nastier the further you head north. Past the merely inhospitable Russia Kislev, you get to Norsca and the evil Vikings Norsemen, and beyond that Kurgan and its evil Chaos Vikings Marauders. Further north, through the Chaos Wastes (daemon-infested black deserts where reality is wearing pretty damn thin) you eventually reach the Realm of Chaos, which is basically hell. All of these regularly spew out The Legions Of Hell to lay waste to the Old World.
  • And then there're the longstanding myths about Hyperborea and Ultima Thule.
  • Truth In Television: Hadrian's wall and the Antonine Wall were built by the Romans to keep marauding Scots Picts out of England Britannia Inferior.
  • In Okami, the source of all the monsters and lair of Yami, Lord of Darkness lies to the far north.
  • In the Prydain Chronicles, Arawn's fortress is in the north.
  • JV Jones' Sword of Shadow.
  • While Barbara Hambly's Dragonbane's plot is situated in the south, the north it starts in is incredibly grim.
  • Durham's Acacia has villains heading from the north.
  • I'm pretty sure Sara Douglass' Axis and Wayfarer Redemption Trilogies played up with that, but I (thankfully) managed to repress most of my memories of these books so I'm not sure.
  • In Shannara, the Warlock Lord is based in the North, at Skull Mountain, but in the sequels, the threats come successively from the West, the East, and the South.
  • In The Wheel Of Time, The Blight is a huge northern land, home of the Dark One and full of evil creatures and desolation. It's separated from the rest of Randland by the "Mountains of Dhoom" and incursions of evil forces are buffered by the border nations.
  • In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the Sheriff of Nottingham hires thugs from the north -- Celts, who drink the blood of their dead, and seem to share the Sheriff's (evil) god.
  • In The Chronicles Of Narnia, Narnia was often at war with the evil giants that live in the Wild Waste Lands of the North. It was also in the north where the White Witch built up her power and where the Lady of the Green Kirtle lived and held Prince Rilian hostage.
  • Santa Claus is an aversion.
  • In the original The Legend Of Zelda, Death Mountain, the dungeon home of the Big Bad is located at the northernmost portion of the map
  • In the Dungeons And Dragons Forgotten Realms setting, the land of Angmar Vaasa in the north of Faerun is where the Witch-King Zhengyi created his Castle Perilous and launched an invasion of the neighboring country of Arnor Damara.
  • In Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, the ancient temple to the Ogdru Jahahd was somewhere in the Arctic circle.
  • The grand finale of the original, un-expanded Final Fantasy XI is in the frozen wastes of Xarcabard, where the Shadow Lord masses his armies.
    • The finale of Final Fantasy VII takes place in the Northern Crater.
  • His Dark Materials: The baddies' fortress of Bolvangar in the first book, Northern Lights.
  • The blighted wasteland and Dark Tower of the Big Bad Torak in The Belgariad are in the far north...east, close enough.
  • The Ancient North, which consists of the northern half of E�rwa, is save for a few human holdouts an After The End wasteland populated by tribes of vicious Sranc. The headquarters of the evil Ancient Conspiracy are at the northern edge of that.
  • The final dungeon of Golden Sun: The Lost Age is located on the blizzard-ridden northern continent. Amusingly enough, it's a fire-based dungeon covered in ice, demonstrating that the northern reaches weren't always so cold.
  • Inverted in the C&C Tiberium timeline: The element Tiberium, with its extreme mutagenic and toxic properties, has its growth stymied by the cold. Guess where the Good Guys strike from?
  • In Skies Of Arcadia, The Empire is headquartered on a perpetually grim and stormy Floating Continent north of most of the rest of civilization. The actual arctic ice cap isn't so bad, though; it just has one dungeon and a couple of Bonus Bosses, no worse than the rest of the world. Of course, given that Arcadia is a torus, it's impossible to tell whether this dungeon is the north pole or the south pole.
  • Many, many of the villains in Redwall originally came from here.