Minecraft: The Nether, Explained

Quick Links

  • Civilizations In The Nether
  • The Undead Plague And Nether Fortresses
  • The Fall Of Piglin Civilization
  • War Remains In The Soul Sand Valley
  • Endermen
  • The Afterlife
  • What Are Ghasts?

The Nether in Minecraft is a dark dimension, filled with lava and pigs. What exactly is it though? Minecraft doesn't have much of a story, but that doesn't stop us from looking at the lore behind the Nether, and why it exists.

Here, we are going to take an in-depth look at the Nether. It's important to remember that this will mainly consist of theories crafted by gamers across the internet; since Minecraft has not officially stated any lore related to the Nether.

Civilizations In The Nether

In the Nether, you will find a few different types of mobs including Piglins, Endermen, and Wither Skeletons.

Here at TheGamer, our theory is that Piglins are prevalent throughout the entire dimension, so it is very likely that this is the native species here. Piglins reside in Bastions, which could serve as their main 'village'.

Zombie Pigmen exist as well, which seem to be the zombified version of Piglins. The Nether is packed with this mob, so one potential theory is that Piglin were the primary species populating the Nether, before a 'plague' of sorts happened, causing Zombie Pigmen to appear and cause the downfall of Piglin civilization.

You can also find similar theories on Reddit, such as one by user timbonathan_scoobert.

This explains why Bastions are a bit run down and serve as defensive forts, rather than houses like villagers have in the Overworld.

The Undead Plague And Nether Fortresses

This plague theory can explain the existence of Nether Fortresses as well. If a plague spread through the Nether, causing certain Piglins to become zombified, the Nether Fortress could be the 'base of operations' for the force behind the plague.

Zombie Piglins and Pigmen are not hostile towards each other. This could be evidence that the two are from the same society and do not mean to cause the other any harm.

Nether Fortresses are the only place that spawn Wither Skeletons, a powerful mob that can cause the wither effect. This effect causes your hearts to turn black and decay over time. With this in mind, it's possible that the 'plague' is actually the Wither. Zombie Pigmen could be stuck in a withering state, causing them to endlessly roam around the Nether in a zombified state.

The Fall Of Piglin Civilization

Based on all we learned above, there was a war in the Nether between Pigmen society and the Wither Skeletons, led by the Wither. The Wither forces were too powerful for the Pigmen to handle, causing their civilization to crumble, leaving only Bastions for them to take shelter in.

Once the Wither forces won this war, the Wither itself disappeared. Now, to resummon it, you must collect three Wither Skeleton heads and some soul sand.

You can check out a similar theory about the Piglin and Wither Skeleton war on Reddit.

War Remains In The Soul Sand Valley

After the war ended, there were countless losses, which were buried in the Soul Sand Valley. In this biome, Nether forces were buried, with their souls imprinting in the sand.

Were Piglins buried here as well? This is a possibility, but within this biome, you will find blue soul flames. Interestingly, these flames scare Piglins. This could be evidence that Piglins were buried elsewhere.

Additionally, to resummon the Wither, you need to collect soul sand. With this theory in mind, this means that you need to essentially collect the souls of fallen Wither Skeletons to summon the Wither.

User DeathSlayer9521 on Reddit suggests that when you walk on soul sand, the trapped souls are released. Additionally, the reason that you sink down into the sand is due to the trapped souls pulling you down.


Endermen can spawn in soul sand valleys, nether wastes, and warped forests. They could be a second race living in the Nether along with Pigmen. However, they are much less prevalent. Over ten years ago on the Minecraft Forum, user WingOfWar pointed out that Nether portals were built to the height of Endermen, which was not a coincidence.

This theory proposes that Endermen were the original builders of the Nether portal. The portal itself and Endermen have the same purple particles that float around them, and Endermen have the ability to teleport.

Endermen went through this portal to the Overworld and met the society that lived here prior to our arrival. Together, the two build the Stronghold, but something may have gone wrong, and no portals were made for the Endermen to return back to the Nether.

Now, the Endermen population in the Nether is dwindling, with the majority of them residing in forests.

The Afterlife

It's hard to ignore the fact the Nether could be the Afterlife, or more specifically, Hell. The word 'Nether' means 'below', and oftentimes, Hell is referred to as being below us, similar to an Underworld. Many believe that the Nether is the Minecraft version of the Underworld, where souls go to die.

Overall, the Nether could be the Underworld, filled with its own civilizations, but it would also be an alternate dimension that mirrors the Overworld.

The Underworld can also be referred to as the 'Netherworld' since nether and under have similar meanings. Here, you can check out a Reddit thread explaining 'nether' in regards to hell and the underworld.

The Underworld theory is supported by the achievement that you obtain by going through a Nether portal. Upon doing this, you will get the 'We Need To Go Deeper' achievement, implying that the Nether is 'deep' below the ground.

What Are Ghasts?

Ghasts are giant white ghost-like mobs that float around the Nether. Upon death, this mob will drop tears for you to pick up.

One theory from a now-deleted Reddit thread suggests that Ghasts are the ghosts of those that die in the Nether. Ghasts are more likely to spawn in a Soul Sand Valley, which is essentially a graveyard.

Ghasts have a few achievements associated, Return To Sender, which involves destroying one with a fireball, and Uneasy Alliance, where you need to take a Ghast to the Overworld then kill it.

You may notice that the 'Uneasy Alliance' achievement mentions bringing a Ghast home, and that you are rescuing it. This backs up the fact that Ghasts are the souls of those who wander into the Nether through a portal and end up dying. If you play Minecraft with subtitles on, you will also see that Ghast noises are described as 'cries'. They cry when not actively attacking; this may be because the Ghast is in 'mourning' due to their death.

Ghasts don't have feet, but they make footstep sounds. Is this evidence that they were once living beings with legs?

Ghasts may even be players. When you die in the Nether, you respawn in the Overworld, but your 'soul' could stay in the Nether in the form of a Ghast.

Overall, there are many competing theories on what the Nether is. Minecraft has been around for a long time, giving players tons of time to think of new theories. Regardless of which theory you believe, the Nether is still a hostile environment filled with ruins and mobs that could kill you at any moment.

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