Created By: 69BookWorM69 on January 20, 2012 Last Edited By: Anura on December 16, 2014
Troped

Dispel Magic

Reversing the effect(s) of a completed spell

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Magic with the ability to remove the effects of other magic. A form of Anti-Magic (and Sub-Trope to it), this applies to any ability that is used to reverse the effects of another spell that has already worked. If someone has been changed into a frog, a magic spell to change the frog back into a person (presumably the same person) is an example of Dispel Magic.

Contrast Counter Spell, which is a spell that interrupts another spell and prevents it from working in the first place, and No Ontological Inertia, where magic fades naturally upon the death of the one who cast it. Anti-Magic can prevent magic from happening at all as a passive defence, while Dispel can only remove magic that has already taken hold. Super Trope to Status Buff Dispel: anything that dispells a Status Buff specifically goes there.


Examples

     Anime & Manga 

     Comic Strips 

     Literature 
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Magic by Any Other Name is performed by weaving "threads" of the Elemental Powers. The normal way to cancel someone else's weave is to cut it, but a stealthier option is to unweave it. This is very much a Dangerous Forbidden Technique, since if you screw it up, the threads will resettle into a random pattern (such as a thermonuclear explosion.)
  • Xanth's Magician Grey Murphy can cancel out any magic, but only one target at a time (and can actually make magic stronger by leaning hard on his null effect, then removing it).

     Live-Action Television 
  • One episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch had Sabrina forbidden from using these types of spells (trying to simply "undo" her last spell simply caused a "No can undo" Flag to pop out of her finger) in order to teach her to be more responsible.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In addition to its use as a Status Buff Dispel, the dispel magic family of spells (also includes greater dispelling and Mordenkainen's disjunction) are capable of breaking spells. Mordenkainen's disjunction can also destroy magic items.
    • In 3.X Edition curse spells such as bestow curse and mark of justice are treated differently from other enchantments and can only be broken by the use of specific spells.
  • Forgotten Realms spell "Spellstrike". It removes effects of a single spell cast immediately before (in the previous round). The same sourcebooks has "Unburn", though it reverts ashes made by normal fires as well as magical.
  • Magic: The Gathering: "Disenchanting" (destroying enchantments and artifacts) is a standard effect seen often on green and white spells. Just about every expansion has a Naturalize and Demystify variant.

    Theatre 
  • Explicitly impossible in Wicked, which causes problems when Elphaba starts fiddling with magic at the behest of the Wizard. She gives wings to the monkeys, tries to take it back, and is informed that a spell cannot be broken once cast.

     Video Games 

     Web Comics 

     Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents uses Timmy's wish to turn back everything that happens in the episode into normal as an In-Universe Reset Button. Sometimes, however, it doesn't work, and they have to find a solution other than his "undo" wish.
  • The Simpsons had an episode where Bart was eaten by piranhas. Lisa pressed the rewind button. Bart was uneaten, the Piranhas swam backwards around him vomiting flesh onto his bones.

Community Feedback Replies: 41
  • January 20, 2012
    pokedude10
    This is a little too specific to be tropeable, it can be merged with Counterspell just fine. Tropes Are Flexible after all.
  • January 20, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    ^ I wondered myself if we were splitting hairs, but some of the others thought the distinction split-worthy. (I gather we aren't doing tropes with types anymore.)

    We can always merge the two again and make Undo Magic a redirect.
  • January 20, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    The ability to undo magical effects is more prevalent than one magician preventing another from completing a spell.

    Harry Potter has the Counter curses, which showed up once. On the other hand, it had numerous examples of characters using a spell to undo the effects of another spell. Neville's parents live in a hospital dedicated to alleviating the effects of a spell.

    Undoing ongoing effects are much more common than preventing the spell in the first place.
  • January 20, 2012
    pokedude10
    ^^ Assuming you meant after launch, That's generally what we try not to do. Tropes are supposed to be launched from YKTTW as complete articles. Launching something with the fallback plan to merge later just makes more work for the TRS.

    These two tropes are definitely splitting hairs. If this launches with the current distinction, I assure you someone will bring this up in TRS sooner or later. If I were you, I would contact the current sponsor of Counterspell via PM and see if you two can work something out before launch.
  • January 20, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Okay, explain to me how not letting a spell be cast is splitting hairs from undoing an ongoing effect.
  • January 21, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • Dispel Magic is a general purpose anti-magic spell that can eliminate already-cast spells.
      • Some spells are "reversible", i.e. they can be cast in a reverse way that has an opposite effect to the regular spell. If the regular spell is cast, casting the reverse version neutralizes it, and vice versa.
  • January 21, 2012
    pokedude10
    ^^ -Goes back and Reads my last post- ....

    ......

    ....Woah, I completely misread the two tropes. Yes, they are two completely different things.

  • January 25, 2012
    Anura
    Video Games
    I call for this to be renamed Dispel Magic.
  • January 25, 2012
    Glyndwr
    It is not Dispel Magic. Dispel Magic is a sub-trope of Counterspell. Regular counterspell merely blocks the spell that the enemy Wizard is casting. Dispel is a much bigger spell which stops all magic in a given area and time. This trope is about cancelling the effect of the spell, turning the Frog back into a Prince.

    The Simpsons there was a magic hoofer (TV remote control) Bart was eaten by piranhas. Lisa pressed the rewind button. Bart was uneaten, the Piranhas swam backwards around him vomitting flrsh onto his bones.
  • January 25, 2012
    Ryusui
    I suggest we call this Reverse Spell or Reverse Magic.

  • January 27, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    ^^ Dispel Magic is badly named. That sounds like Anti Magic.

    Oh, look at that; redlinked. Are you sure you know what you're talking about?
  • January 27, 2012
    billybobfred
    I was under the impression from various RP Gs that Dispel Magic is a term used to refer to... well, "this proposed trope" is the quickest way to say it, really. Final Fantasy's Esuna and, uh, Dispel, for example.
  • January 30, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    The title of this one isn't set in stone; I used it because of the discussion under Counterspell.

    And yes, crazysamaritan has the distinction succinctly summarized, and it seems there is a difference in the distinction.
  • February 8, 2012
    TBeholder
    Forgotten Realms spell "Spellstrike". It removes effects of a single spell cast immediately before (previous round). The same sourcebooks has "Unburn", though it reverts ashes made by normal fires as well as magical.
  • June 10, 2014
    WaterBlap
    Besides some formatting issues in the examples' section, what work is there left to do on this YKTTW?
  • June 10, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    To start with, I only moved the suggested examples up to the draft portion. As a subtrope, the supertrope needs checking, to move any legitimate examples down the chain if possible.
  • June 10, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Compare No Ontological Inertia, where the magical effects disappear simply because what created them has ceased to exist.
  • June 10, 2014
    Bisected8
    • One episode of Sabrina The Teenage Witch had Sabrina forbidden from using these types of spells (trying to simply "undo" her last spell simply caused a "No can undo" Flag to pop out of her finger) in order to teach her to be more responsible.
  • June 10, 2014
    DracMonster
  • June 10, 2014
    DAN004
    • The Fairly Odd Parents: This is used by Cosmo and Wanda whenever Timmy wants to turn back everything that happens in the episode into normal.
  • June 10, 2014
    UltramarineAlizarin
    I'd like to bring up this piece of text from Counterspell:

    • Subtrope of Anti Magic. The key distinction between this and Anti Magic is that this is stopping a spell while it's being cast, rather than removing its effects after it already has been.

    By that description, this seems to fall under Anti Magic. And there is a section of that trope dedicated to spell-based examples, so this sounds to me like a proposal to move that section to its own page.
  • June 10, 2014
    DAN004
    Anti Magic is supertrope to both Counter Spell and this, but more often than not, Anti Magic is actually "defenses against magic attacks" which comes up as a passive defense (unlike proactive ones in Counter Spell or curing ones as in this ykttw).
  • June 11, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    ^^ as DAN(^) said.

    Let's take the classic fireball spell. Anti Magic means it doesn't work, but there's a spectrum of how it doesn't work.
    • In your basic Anti Magic Field, the spell disappears with no effects.
    • In Counter Spell, another caster is destroying the spell while it is being cast.
    • In Undo Magic, the fireball has already destroyed a forest, but the "undo" restores it.
    That's a general description/analogy, not something that always works. ~Drac Monster gives another good example between types of Undo Magic.
  • June 11, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Comic Books
    • In the Archie universe, only magic from potions or an Artifact Of Doom has any sustained duration.
      • The Rich Bitch Alexandra Cabot from Archie Comics' Josie And The Pussy Cats series can cast witchcraft spells, but these are fragile spells that are broken by as little as Melody Valentine snapping her fingers, which Melody is wont to do.
      • Likewise, Sabrina The Teenage Witch has a few of her spells negated by clapping hands three times.

    I think what the OP has in mind is Red Mage turns some poor doof into a frog, "Beum froggus." Green Mage then undoes this with "Suggorf mueb" restoring the doof to his normal state. The Red Mage's magic is thus undone.
  • June 11, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    ^ it looks like you have two examples there, can you split them?
  • June 11, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Okay, one amateur edit, coming up ... :)
  • June 11, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Close enough. :)

    Comic Books
  • June 11, 2014
    DAN004
    Supertrope to Status Buff Dispel.
  • June 11, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Fixed the broken folder tags.
  • December 10, 2014
    Anura
    No you didn't, 'cause I just did. ;)
  • December 11, 2014
    StarSword
    Tabletop Games:
    • Dungeons And Dragons:
      • In addition to its use as a Status Buff Dispel, the dispel magic family of spells (also includes greater dispelling and Mordenkainen's disjunction) are capable of breaking spells. Mordenkainen's disjunction can also destroy magic items.
      • In 3.X Edition curse spells such as bestow curse and mark of justice are treated differently from other enchantments and can only be broken by the use of specific spells.

    Theatre:
    • Explicitly impossible in Wicked, which causes problems when Elphaba starts fiddling with magic at the behest of the Wizard. She gives wings to the monkeys, tries to take it back, and is informed that a spell cannot be broken once cast.
  • December 13, 2014
    Generality
    Contrast No Ontological Inertia, when a spell ends automatically because its caster dies or becomes unconscious.
  • December 13, 2014
    Koveras
    Anime and Manga
    • The Eclipse Drivers in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force are capable of instantly dispelling magic of any kind almost at whim, which makes them extremely dangerous to the magic-dependent society at large and to the magic-using main characters in particular.

    Video Games
    • In the Dragon Age series, Dispel Magic (or simply Dispel) is a common mage spell from the Spirit school that removes all dispellable magical effects (hostile and helpful) from a single target. Additionally, the Templar specialization for warriors typically has an ability that dispels all hostile magic around them (known alternatingly as Cleanse Area, Cleanse, or Spell Purge).
  • December 13, 2014
    troacctid
  • December 14, 2014
    Anura
    I guess I'm adopting this one for now? If the original owner would like to come back, though...
  • December 15, 2014
    Arivne
    ^ The OP hasn't edited any trope or work page since July, so they're probably not coming back.
  • December 15, 2014
    ZuTheSkunk
    • In The Elder Scrolls series, both Morrowind and Oblivion have a generic magic effect "Dispel" available for spells and enchantments. Its purpose is simple: it ends any spells currently affecting the target.
  • December 15, 2014
    Koveras
    I have fixed the Example Indentation and a broken wick in the write-up.
  • December 15, 2014
    Loquacia
    • Final Fantasy X has the spell Dispel which removes all status conditions (good or bad) from your team. Some bosses have this equipped to their regular attacks (I'm looking at you, Yunalesca) or throw it around the moment you try to give yourself a buff (Seymour Flux). Others have spells to immediately banish a summoned Aeon (either before or after the Aeon in question gets a chance to attack), though I'm not sure if this counts.

    • Final Fantasy XII also has the Dispel spell, which removes most positive stat buffs and a few negative ones (like Slow and Oil). Since effective Final Fantasy XII strategy typically requires careful maintenance of stat buffs, it's usually easier, faster, and cheaper in terms of mana to forgo Dispel in favour of using a buff that does the opposite thing to the debuff (for example, removing Slow with Haste).
  • December 15, 2014
    SolipSchism
    ^ The description explicitly states that Status Buff Dispel is a Sub Trope of this and that examples should go there if they fit. The Final Fantasy example that's already listed (and covers the entire series) should be removed from this, as well.

    EDIT: However, the Aeon-banishing spell/ability definitely counts, in my opinion.
  • December 16, 2014
    Anura
    I've added it, although I think that Banish Spirit might be distinct enough to be it's own trope.
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