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The Unknown serves as the main setting of the series, and is the titular location in "Into the Unknown", and "The Unknown". The Unknown is represented largely by expansive forest, through which Wirt and Greg travel through for several days. Edelwood trees are native to the Unknown.
The Unknown is a fairly rural area, mostly covered in undeveloped land: Rivers, thick forests, and swamps can be found in the Unknown. Civilizations including the town of Pottsfield, the Tavern, the Schoolhouse (the area surrounding the schoolhouse appears to have many wealthy citizens, evinced through the generous donations given at the fundraising concert) and explored during the series. Trodden dirt paths as well as cobblestone trails are also seen, which provides possible confirmation of the many inhabitants of the Unknown, who may travel often.
As seen in Chapter 6, as well as the one-shot Over the Garden Wall Comic (before the mini comic book series began), there are parts of the Unknown with widespread wheat fields. Also in Chapter 6, along with somewhat in Chapter 8, there are some swamp-lands bordering the river that the ferry sails on. Furthermore, there are several points where houses have been shown: Quincy Endicott and Margueritte Grey's mansions, Adelaide's cottage, Auntie Whispers' house, and the grist mill are all a good distance from one another.
Locations in The Unknown
- The Mill
- School House
- Quincy Endicott's Mansion
- The Riverboat
- Adelaide's House
- Auntie Whispers' House
- Cloud City (Greg's dream)
- The Woodsman's House
- Wirt and Greg's ventures through the Unknown begin around the grist mill, and end around the same location; this implies that the brothers were essentially going in circles in the spiritual and physical sense.
- A popular theory suggests that the Unknown is a sort of purgatory; that Wirt and Greg were teetering on the edge between life and death, and that to succumb to the Edelwood would be to lose their lives; further evidence of this was that in early versions of the series, the Unknown was referred to as "The In-Between," which implies that Wirt and Greg would be 'in-between' life and death.
- Along earliest versions, the Beast was originally intended to be named "Old Scratch", with a cartoony, Devil-like appearance instead dead bark for a body.
- The Unknown's various characters and scenery give homage to various historical elements of the past.
- The Woodsman and his daughter seem to be from colonial times, though the generic nature of their clothing makes it uncertain.
- Pottsfield references colonial times, as well as the concept of a "potter's field," an unmarked burial ground for the poor.
- Langtree's haircut implies that she lived in the late Victorian era; the character herself could be a reference to Beatrix Potter, a Victorian-era author who wrote and illustrated books with anthropomorphic animals, including the Peter Rabbit books.
- The denizens of the Tavern are a likely reference to The Canterbury Tales, a collection of 24 tales by Geoffery Chaucer; the titles of each story (sans the General Prologue) follow a specific format (ex: The Knight's Tale, The Miller's Tale, etc), much like how the inhabitants of the Tavern go by their roles (the Butcher, the Baker, etc) rather than actual names.
- Quincy Endicott is from the Georgian Era, and Margueritte Grey is from the French Rococo period.
- The anthropomorphic frogs on the ferry bear a resemblance to the early 1900's, in which stories and illustrations featuring human-like animals in fancy dress were common.
- Lorna's dress provides an intimation that she and Auntie Whispers are from the mid-1600s, with their Puritan-style dress.
- Beatrice and her family look to be from the Regency Era.
- Quincy Endicott is known for selling tea to make his fortune but there is no sign of any civilized areas. Most of the building in the Unknown are alone in the wilderness. The only town (excluding Cloud City) is Pottsfield which is small and rural.