Holy Is Not Safe
Something holy which is potentially dangerous to anyone, rather than just being dangerous to evil.
Needs Examples Description Needs Help Up For Grabs Already have? Better Name

(permanent link) added: 2012-12-06 13:27:00 sponsor: KhymChanur edited by: StarSword (last reply: 2012-12-18 21:51:22)

Add Tag:
"But He said, 'You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.'"

Everyone knows it's a bad idea to mess around with evil. If you're foolish enough to poke a concentrated ball of malevolence, you've got no one but yourself to blame for the consequences. But surely we should expect goodness to be a bit more, well, user-friendly? A bit less liable to reduce you to a pile of ashes for looking at it crosswise?

Don't count on it.

Even when Light is Good, it can still be too hot to handle. Maybe holiness is judgment untempered by mercy, and only the most incorruptible people can come in contact with it and come away unscathed. Maybe it's really temperamental, and objects violently to being used for any but the most noble causes. Or maybe it's just that light burns, and enough holiness in one place is naturally dangerous to anyone, not only the wicked. In any event, you'll probably rest easier with some safe distance between yourself any anything really holy.

This may be the logical extreme of White Magic. While Black Magic involves drawing power from others, and has a tendency to kill or corrupt anyone, White Magic generally helps others through self-sacrifice and purges evil. Think about the implications of this: if you aren't willing the make the sacrifice you get punished, while if you are worthy enough, you get sacrificed. Likewise, anyone helped by your sacrifice is likely to be saved or punished by its effects.

Closely related to Holy Hand Grenade; the distinction is that this trope refers to holiness being inherently dangerous to Muggles, whereas Holy Hand Grenade is when holiness is weaponized. Sometimes manifests as Cast from Hit Points or Brown Note. See also Humans Are Flawed for a possible reason Holy Is Not Safe. Contrast Revive Kills Zombie, in which something beneficial to normal beings is harmful to unholy ones. The Evil Counterpart is Evil Is Not a Toy.

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • The Innocence in D.Gray-Man is the Divine Crystal used as a weapon by Exorcists. As such it is obviously harmful to evil beings... but it can just as well be harmful to the good guys. Parasitic type Exorcists (whose weapon is a part of their own body) are actually stated to have a short life-span due to the sheer amount of energy it consumes. Also, any Exorcist who forgets his mission will be eaten by the Innocence from the inside, and die after turning into an uncontrollable monster that indiscriminately destroys everything around it for several hours. And finally, non-Exorcists cannot stand being exposed to pure Innocence, even if they aren't evil.
  • In Scrapped Princess, Ginnungagap is the highest known military grade offensive spell, and is so powerful that it must be sanctioned for use, by way of unanimous decision, by the High Council. The attack itself covers an unbelievably wide area and is devastating enough on it's own, but the real threat is resulting shockwave triggered by it. When used, it caused a mega-tsunami that devastated the majority of the continental coast![[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • As in the scriptures, the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark is an inherently dangerous artifact. Indy and Marion only survive the movie because Indy remembers the Bible saying not to look upon the open Ark. Those Wacky Nazis aren't as lucky.
  • Dogma uses the idea that God's voice is fatal to mortals as a plot point. It places Metatron (see Mythology, below) in the role of Mr. Exposition, and is used to destroy the renegade angels.[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • In Supernatural, angels and demons both have to possess a human in order to walk the Earth. Angels require the consent of the human who is to be their vessel, but just because they're angels doesn't mean it's all going to turn out okay. Many angelic vessels are killed or left broken like victims of bad lobotomies after the angel is finished with them.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
  • This is Older Than Feudalism. In Greek Mythology seeing the undisguised glory of a god would strike mortals dead, as happened to one of Zeus' many human lovers.
  • From The Bible:
    • In the Book of Exodus, Moses asks to see God's face. God answers that this would kill Moses, but He does arrange for Moses to see His back instead.
    • The Ark of the Covenant was far too holy for any ordinary person to come in contact with. Attempting to touch it, even for a good reason, as in the case of the Israelite in 1 Samuel who tried to prevent it from falling on the ground, would result in that person being struck dead instantly.

      At another point in 1 Samuel (Chapters 4-7) the Israelites tried to use it as a good luck charm in battle against the Philistines. Its presence ended up galvanizing the Philistines who ripped the Israelites a new one and captured the Ark. Then the Philistines made the mistake of keeping it in the same room as an idol of Dagon, and God struck them with a plague of tumors and rats. The Philistine cities started playing hot potato with the thing and eventually decided to send it back to Israel with a guilt offering. Aaaand the Israelites promptly had a whole bunch of people die from looking into the Ark.
  • Judeo-Christian tradition has the archangel Metatron[[note]]meaning "He who stands before the throne[[/note]] whose job is to be the voice of God, employed any time in the Bible when people hear the voice in the sky. Presumably hearing God's voice is just as dangerous as seeing His face.
  • In later interpretations of Arthurian legend, the Holy Grail tended to be this. Only Sir Galahad, the purest of knights, could survive looking upon it. This might also be said to apply to the Siege Perilous, Galahad's seat at the Round Table, which marked the knight destined to complete the Grail Quest. Anyone other than Galahad who sat in it would immediately die.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • In Final Fantasy VII, the White Materia, Holy, is the Planet's ultimate defensive measure. It wipes away anything it judges as a threat to the Planet, which could easily include humanity.
[[/folder]]

Indices: Older Than Feudalism, Religion Tropes, Tropes of the Divine

replies: 54

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy