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Factories made to look like one of the circles of Hell. This goes beyond the typical sweatshop aspects of long hours, slave wages, and No OSHA Compliance. Those things may happen through negligence, but this factory cranks all those aspects Up to Eleven on purpose, until the place is an enclosed Crapsack World.

People are walking zombies there, and may die at any moment, while the cold, lifeless (or are they) machines don't stop moving. For some people, death may be a release. Those at the top either live fat off their profits, or are suffering from the effects of the environment as well, likely going insane slowly. And expect various amounts of smog, smoke, and toxic waste being spewed outside.

This trope started when mainstream factories were sweatshops, and then people were horrified by the meat factory descriptions given in the book The Jungle, and infamous Real Life incidents like the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.

Compare Dystopia, Industrial Ghetto, Polluted Wasteland.

Not to be confused with the band Fear Factory.

Examples of Nightmarish Factory include:

Anime and Manga

Fan Fiction


  • The lower classes in Metropolis worked in a place like this.
  • Swedish animated movie Resan Till Melonia has orphans forced to work in a Nightmarish Factory that covers an entire island. Kid Hero Ferdinand has escaped from there.
  • Through its use of cinematography and lighting, The Machinist makes an ordinary machine shop seem this way.
  • An entire city (at least) is like this in the Bad Future of Meet the Robinsons.
  • In a short segment in Head, The Monkees are being walked through a factory - as the guide extols the good life it brings, Davy keeps seeing unsettling scenes - an employee drinks blood from a spigot, a desk worker's head drops off - but the others impatiently tell him to keep up.


  • The meat packing industry in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle can be considered as the Trope Namer.
    • That's more of a modern interpretation, which is, ironically, is what the author intended. Sinclair, who was a committed socialist, originally wanted to showcase the flagrant abuse of workers, dangerous working conditions and owners' complete disregard of everything except their profits. Society of the day, however, latched on the (quite colorful, true) description of the industry's products, and unsanitary conditions in which they were made. The resulting outcry basically led to establishment of the Food and Drug Administration. As Sinclair himself said:

  I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.

Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • Certain hive-cities and Forge Worlds in Warhammer 40000.
  • The entirety of Autochthonia, Realm of Brass and Shadow, in Exalted. It's the interior of a machine-god, and it's large enough to be a self-contained world.

Video Games

  • Every Glukkon factory in Oddworld.
  • Present in the DLC The Pitt for Fallout 3.
  • The infamous factory level in Kirby 64.
  • The Hatter's Domain after being taken over by the March Hare and Dormy.
  • The penultimate stage in Half Life, The Factory.

Web Original

Western Animation

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