Dark Forest is the place that many creatures go after death. Martin the Warrior and Sunflash the Mace are the only characters known to have actually been to the gates upon near-death experiences, and spoken with other creatures there, still living to tell the tale afterwards.
The phrase "Dark Forest" appeared less as a reference to the afterlife in later novels, with the most recent usage occurring in Taggerung. Phrases such as "sunny slopes and quiet streams" have seemingly replaced it. A "Lord of Dark Forest" is spoken of in the mole song "Wurpledown Durr," as snatching away the titular character to Dark Forest.
"Hellgates" seems to serve as the vermin equivalent, though whether it refers to the same place or not is difficult to determine. According to Ermath, Vulpuz is the ruler of Hellgates; at other times this domain's ruler has been referred to as the Dark One. Despite this, when Fortunata, a conniving and duplicitous fox was slain, Lady Amber told her to "tell your deceitful tales to whoever meets you at the gates of Dark Forest."
- A fan asked if Dark Forest and Hellgates were supposed to be the equivalent of Heaven and Hell wondering because Dark Forest sounded bad. Brian Jacques replied that he tried "not to have any religious connotations at all" so it was an unintended comparison. Dark Forest is supposed to be "mysterious rather than menacing."