Superstition Episode
A character does something considered unlucky and has bad luck for the rest of the episode.


(permanent link) added: 2012-08-01 14:55:12 sponsor: Amaryllis (last reply: 2012-09-29 21:41:18)

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The Superstition Episode is centered around some sort of unlucky superstition or superstitions. Maybe it's Friday the Thirteenth. Maybe a character accidentally breaks a mirror and freaks out about the seven years of bad luck that they’re sure will follow. Maybe a skeptical character pets a black cat or walks under a ladder to prove such silly superstitions aren't true. In any case, that character will be plagued by bad luck for the rest of the episode. The character may insist their extreme bad luck is merely a coincidence, or they may be superstitious from the start. Either way, there may be another character who disagrees, and debates with them about the validity of superstitions.

If worse comes to worse, their bad luck will spread to their friends. Then their superstitious friends may try to avoid them or they will try to avoid their friends so they won‘t catch their bad luck. At the end of the episode something will happen that convinces the character they never were or are no longer jinxed, and the bad luck will never come up again.

Though the bad luck often is treated as "real", subversions that attribute it to a mundane cause are common. If the characters have no way to tell if the it's a coincidence or not, the bad luck may be interpreted as Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.

The episode often mentions other unlucky superstitions or good luck charms such as the Four-Leaf Clover or Lucky Rabbit's Foot. May be started by a Bad Luck Charm.

If a character just happens to be unlucky for an episode, that's not this trope. Neither is Not My Lucky Day, for when a character just misses extreme good fortune, though they may overlap. For it to be a Superstition Episode, the bad luck has to be remarked upon and attributed to some sort of superstition. For characters who are chronically unlucky, see Born Unlucky. Supertrope to Chain Letter.


Examples:

Comic Books
  • In an Iznogoud comic, Dilat Larat brakes a mirror over his head to free a guy from a curse. As a result, the guy is blessed with seven years of good luck and Dilat is cursed with seven years of bad luck (that only last for the remainder of the comic).
  • Archie Comics had one where Betty notices it is Friday The Thirteenth, and prepares for it. Unknowingly, she set off Disaster Dominoes that missed her, but got everyone around her involved.
    • There was one other, with Archie bringing misfortune on himself trying to avoid bad luck--and not being careful.
  • Whether Donald Duck is actually unlucky or brings it all on himself varies Depending on the Writer; in one comic Donald is superstitious and that causes him to bring harm on himself (such as a Blind Shoulder Toss after spilling salt brings in an angry customer). In the end, his nephews tell him that the Aesop is "being superstitious is bad luck".

Fanfic

Literature
  • There's a Baby Sitters Club book (I don't remember which one) where Mary Anne thinks she's gotten a bad luck charm it turns out some cruel girls just told her it was bad, and were using it as an excuse to play pranks on her.
  • One of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch tie-in novels had characters who interacted with and then lost a lucky rabbit's foot have a run of extreme bad luck that gets progressively worse.

Live-Action TV
  • In The 10th Kingdom, Tony breaks a whole roomful of magic mirrors, and immediately starts to suffer from bad luck - starting with losing his way, and ending with literally breaking his neck.
  • M*A*S*H: Col. Potter makes Radar remove a Korean good-luck totem from the middle of the camp because it's blocking traffic, after which a bunch of bad things happen - from a lighter not working to a bus crash (literally). Radar puts a horseshoe up in Potter's office to ward off the bad luck.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: In a Halloween Episode Briso & Bowler have to deal with Bad Luck Betty, a superstitious deputy, while on a case. Where she goes bad luck follows, although she always says it's an accident - while also following various superstitions. For example, she managed to put the sheriff in a full body cast: she tossed salt over her shoulder just as he came in, which made him lose his footing and a grandfather clock fell on him.
  • A couple examples in The Brady Bunch
    • When The Brady Bunch went to Hawaii, they found this cursed tiki necklace that caused things to go wrong.
    • In one of the last episodes all the kids suddenly think that Cousin Oliver is a jinx - bad stuff happens when he's around. They get de-convinced of that when they take a tour of a movie studio and Oliver is the Umpteenth Customer, so they get to make a real movie.
  • An episode in season one of The Mentalist had a witch who had cast a death spell on the Body of the Week. After Patrick meets her, he prompts her to cast a death spell on Cho. During the rest of the episode, Cho had more than one close call...
  • Supernatural: In the episode "Bad Day at Black Rock," Sam accidentally invokes (by touching) a cursed rabbit's foot. He has incredibly good luck for a while until he inevitably loses it (as father figure, Bobby puts it "Everyone loses it"), and then Sam's luck goes extremely bad. Not a straight example perhaps, because the rabbit's foot is a cursed object, so it isn't just superstition - though how it works is based on superstition - because touching the rabbit's foot really IS good and then bad luck.
  • In the Castle episode "All Wrapped Up In Death", Castle becomes convinced he's been cursed by a Mayan mummy from a museum exhibit after he opens its sarcophagus and looks upon its face. The precinct razzes him about it (removing bolts from his chair so it collapses, then having the bomb squad rig the coffee maker to spew steam at him), but when the elevator stops working with Castle inside it, they tell him even they're not that cruel. He gets the curse lifted somehow by the end of the episode ... then cuts himself with a bread knife.
    Castle: What's the difference between "curse" and "clumsy"?
  • Scrubs references The Brady Bunch story when J.D. buys his own tiki necklaces for a group vacation. They joke around about certain things happening to them being bad luck, even mimicking the sound used for the Brady story, but overall it was just some arguments between couples and not actual bad luck.
  • Home Improvement also had Tim throwing away a chain letter (sent to him by Al) and refuses to believe there is bad luck associated with it. After a series of mishaps he is on the edge of believing, but Jill then reads of a list of all the Amusing Injuries he has had over the past couple of years and concludes his current streak really isn't all that different from his normal life.
  • In an episode of My Name Is Earl Randy makes Earl stay where he is because a black cat crosses his path; then just as the 5 hours (or however long it's supposed to take for the bad luck to dissipate) is up, it crosses his path again. Earl takes this as a sign from Karma to do a list item where he stole a woman's cat.
  • In the Friends episode "the One with the Giant Poking Device", Phoebe is refusing to go to the dentist because she's convinced that every time she goes to the dentist, somebody close to her dies.
  • A common theme in Gilligan's Island. Examples: In "Waiting for Watubi", Gilligan unearthed a tiki idol and was convinced it would bring bad luck. In "Voodoo", The Skipper was convinced that a voodoo witch doctor had turned Gilligan into a chimp.
  • This happened on an ep. of Taxi too. Reverend Jim had a strange dream involving Alex doing some odd things which culminate in him dying, Alex laughs off his concerns, and Louie spends the rest of the episode pointing out how all of the events happening to him match what Jim dreamed of. The climax of the episode involved Alex Tempting Fate by donning a weird costume (including a catcher's mask) and dancing around his apartment, when the doorbell rings. They open the door, revealing the dread spectre of a....Girl Scout selling cookies.

Webcomics
  • A running gag in Ape Not Monkey (for example, the short arc starting here) is for Toby to try and discredit some superstition or other, only to be hit by a "coincidental" strike of bad luck.

Western Animation
  • In the Code Lyoko episode "Hard Luck", Odd accidentally breaks a mirror. Ulrich tells him he'll get seven years of bad luck. Odd doesn't believe it and rants about how various superstitions are ridiculous. However, a series of unfortunate events plague him and eventually the rest of the team starts to consider him bad luck. At the end of the episode Odd finally admits he is jinxed, only for Aelita to tell him jinxes don't exist and he has to wait for his luck to change. It does.
  • In an episode of Totally Spies!, Alex breaks a mirror and is convinced she'll have seven years of bad luck. Sam and Clover try to convince her otherwise, but unlucky things keep happening to her and she tries to quit being a spy so she won't hold them back. In the end Sam and Clover walk Alex under a ladder, telling her that the two forms of bad luck cancel each other out. Then Alex is back to normal, but Sam and Clover become unlucky.
  • In an episode of The Wild Thornberrys, Eliza befriends an aye-aye who she insists isn't the cause of the bad luck that plagues her, calling that a silly superstition like walking under ladders, while she walks under a ladder.
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Friday the Thirteenth" it's Friday the thirteenth and Arnold's and Gerald's families insist they carry around good luck charms and avoid unlucky things. Arnold and Gerald try to prove superstitions are false, but end up with bad luck. Because Wolfgang gave it to them.
  • On one episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger breaks a mirror in Rabbit's home, and Rabbit tells him that means seven years bad luck. Tigger dismisses it, as it wasn't his mirror that broke, and he tries to help Rabbit avoid bad luck, which just results in Rabbit getting one misfortune after another. Eventually, it's revealed that the mirror belonged to Pooh, so Tigger tries to help him avoid bad luck, with the same results. Eventually, after everyone but Tigger suffers from bad luck, it become apparent that Tigger is the one who is unlucky, so he's cast out. The others feel sorry for him and reverse the bad luck by "fixing" the mirror (taping a picture of Tigger so that he thinks it's his reflection).
  • The Donald Duck cartoon "Donald's Lucky Day". Donald is a courier delivering a package on Friday 13, and a radio broadcast on the subject puts him on edge. First he narrowly avoids going under a ladder, which leads him to crash into a mirror. Then he finds a black cat trying to cross his path, and spends most of the cartoon trying to elude it. And for added suspense, the package is a Time Bomb.
  • In Arthur Brain gets so sick of a conversation on superstition brought on by inane Baseball rituals that he attempts to prove bad luck wrong by repeatedly ducking under a ladder, dancing on the pavement crack and breaking a mirror. Bad luck ensues. He tries to fix his bad luck by bringing a bag carrying good luck charms around with him all the time. At the end of the episode, he finds he's been carrying around the wrong bag, but everyone considers the sports clothes inside instead to be other good luck charms.
  • There was an episode of Doug that invoked this. Doug seemed to have a lucky streak at winning games against his crush, Patti. After she gets ticked off about it, he tries to break his luck by breaking a mirror, running under ladders and doing his weird ritual involving mashed potatoes. Afterward, he is having all sorts of bad luck, but since he wants to lose a game against her, it would be good luck for him to lose, and his winning streak continues.
  • The Noveltoons short "The Stupidstitious Cat". A very superstitious cat wants a bird for breakfast, and Buzzy the Crow is targeted. Buzzy uses the cat's superstition to outwit the cat. Buzzy then freaks out when he discovers it's Friday the 13th.
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures episode "Tough Luck", the Chan family receives a cursed Irish emerald that gives the owner bad luck. The only way to nullify the curse is to return the emerald to its tomb in Ireland, or for someone to receive it willingly. Having it stolen, however, leaves the curse with you.
  • An episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy features Eddy being plagued by a cursed telephone. The worst part of it is, the bad luck is afflicted on him even if someone else answers it.
  • A sort of version occurs in The Penguins of Madagascar. Rico gets a fortune saying he will meet a foul end. Skipper assures him that it's just a superstition. Julien, wanting Rico to believe the fortune, sets up a bunch of incidents to make Rico believe he's having bad luck.
  • The Regular Show episode "Fortune Cookie" shows Benson getting a streak of good luck, while Rigby gets the opposite. When the group visits a Chinese restaurant and Benson gets a fortune of good luck while Rigby gets the opposite, Rigby becomes jealous and switches the fortunes when Benson's not looking. Benson reads his new fortune, which predicts bad luck, and mindlessly discards it. The rest of the episode shows Benson on a streak of bad luck, with Rigby getting the opposite.
  • It's a one-shot, but the Tex Avery short Bad Luck Blackie is about a kitten who enlists the help of a black cat to give bad luck to the bulldog that kept tormenting it.
  • The first act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Bad Luck Bogus" dealt with Bogus getting an overwhelming streak of bad luck after inadvertently breaking the bathroom mirror whilst trying to get rid of his overbearing Aunt Bogunda (An Expy of Mrs. Marcus, no less). Because of that, Bogus finds himself at the receiving end of all of kinds of unusual incidents, ranging from getting smacked by a sentient tube of toothpaste, slipping on a bar of soap, and not to mention being menaced and tormented by a huge and rather ugly lookalike that somehow entered the house by use of the broken mirror (The mirror acts as a portal to Bogus's homeland called Bogusland).
  • An episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series featured an experiment named Shoe, who causes nothing but bad luck. At the end, the characters discover that he can be set to cause good luck instead.

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