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Dark Fantasy is a broad subgenre of Fantasy, which is "a genre of fiction set in a fictional universe." However, Dark Fantasy is unlike Fantasy in that it takes on a darker, more mysterious tone.

A Dark Fantasy is a fairytale without a happy ending, or it may have a happy ending that is only achieved with a great cost. It is despairing, violent, or sometimes even gory, but still contains elements of elegance and intrigue.

However, the term can also refer to a dark, almost vampiric style of fashion and general aesthetic mood, and a type of music as well. There may also be overlap with Spriggancore and Goblincore, as well as Dethereal.



  • Magic cast with ill intent, or magic that comes with a price
  • Potions, cauldrons
  • Trees with branches like long fingers
  • Bones, skulls, skeletons
  • Thin, dripping candles
  • Iron-wrought lanterns
  • Iron shackles and chains
  • Bloodied weapons
  • Dragons crouched upon their hoard
  • Corvids, like crows and ravens
  • Nocturnal animals
  • Venomous animals, like snakes and spiders
  • Animals that are generally associated with witches


  • Gloomy settings with dim lighting
  • Twilight, midnight
  • Perpetually overcast skies
  • Dark forests
  • Crumbling ruins
  • Hushed villages
  • Large ships rising out of heavy fog
  • Rough port cities
  • Citadels with severe, stoic guards
  • Palaces with pale, withdrawn servants


  • Stone castles and buildings
  • Climbing ivy
  • Gargoyles
  • Dungeons
  • Long, winding staircases
  • Creaking stairs
  • Secret passages
  • Hidden rooms
  • Spindly towers
  • Cobblestone streets
  • Rain-slick rooftops
  • Old, decrepit, or abandoned mansions, fortresses, and cottages


Dark fantasy elapses a broad amount of different fashion genres, but notably plays off of gothic, academia, pirate, and royal aesthetics. This is expressed through dark colors and heavy fabrics, such as wool, tweed, leather, suede, and velvet. (Please note that if you are creating a Dark Fantasy outfit, the cost of these different fabrics varies greatly and should be taken into account.)


  • Leather gauntlets, gloves, and belts
  • Knight armor
  • Minimal jewelry
  • Signage rings
  • Open, white poet shirts
  • Heavy jackets


  • Hooded cloaks
  • High collars
  • Masks
  • Gloves
  • Timepieces, or other clockwork accessories
  • Walking canes, especially those with ornate handles
  • Wire spectacles (mainly for the visually impaired, but can also be used just as a style)


  • Natural-textured hair
    • Hairstyles can be complicated if it fits the look that you're trying to achieve
  • Flowing dresses
  • Corsets
  • Ornate jewelry
  • Veils



First and foremost are the fairy tales. These are not the ones that Disney packages into children's movies, with their true love's kiss and happy endings. These are fairy tales in their original form, with heroines that are not always immune to death and villains who suffer worse before dying. Limbs will get cut off.

  • Berserk series by Kentaro Miura
  • The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
  • Black Wings Beating, by Alex London
  • Coraline, by Neil Gaiman (Modern Dark Fantasy)
  • Ferals series, by Jacob Grey (Dark Urban Fantasy)
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series, by Ransom Riggs
  • Six of Crows duology, by Leigh Bardugo (Dark Urban Fantasy)
  • Three Dark Crowns series, by Kendare Blake
  • The Conqueror's Saga series, by Kiersten White (Dark Historical Fantasy)
  • The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert
  • The Old Kingdom series, by Garth Nix
  • The Looking Glass Wars series, by Frank Beddor
  • The Beyonders trilogy by Brandon Mull
  • The First Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

Television Shows[]


  • Shadow And Bone


  • Disenchantment
  • Gargoyles
  • Over the Garden Wall
  • Berserk series
  • Bastard!!: Heavy Metal, Dark Fantasy
  • The Owl House


  • Alice in Wonderland (2010)
  • Coraline
  • Legend (1985)
  • Pan's Labyrinth
  • Snow White: A Tale of Terror
  • The Curse of Sleeping Beauty
  • Valerie & Her Week of Wonders

Tabletop Games[]

  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle
  • World Of Darkness (Franchise)


  • American McGee's "Alice: Madness Returns"
  • Little Nightmares (1 and 2)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch
  • FromSoftware's games (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls 1 2 and 3, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Bloodborne, and Elden Ring)
  • Fear & Hunger and Fear & Hunger 2: Termina





  • Reading by candlelight or by a window
  • Writing letters with a quill and ink, especially in cursive script
  • Keeping a diary
  • Pressing flowers
  • Silently working on your embroidery
  • Gazing out the window in quiet contemplation
  • Wistfully staring into the distance
  • Riding your horse through the forest glens
  • Pitching coins into the wishing well
  • Wandering the woods or the city at night
  • Leaving tokens at the feet of your ancestors
  • Feeding, communicating, and paying respects to corvids
  • Heeding what the owl says
  • Noting the passage of time
  • Walking into the mist