Created By: Goldfritha on June 1, 2012 Last Edited By: Goldfritha on January 18, 2013

Holy Names Hurt Unholy Beings

Using the names of holy beings hurts unholy ones.

Name Space:
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Page Type:
Trope
Invocations of God or holiness -- sometimes even in idle profane language -- damages devils, demons, and other unholy beings, with anything from mild pain to serious injury -- or maybe they just don't like it. They may be unable to utter the names and so have to resort to euphemisms.

It tends to be a much weaker reaction than It Burns!, for the obvious reason that it's a lot easier to invoke the names than to lug about a holy object. To prevent its being too much of a Weaksauce Weakness, idle invocation may not cut it, and the character may have to be holy, at least to do serious damage.

Where Good Hurts Evil meets up with Words Can Break My Bones and I Know Your True Name, and they decide to form a Power Trio.

Examples

Literature
  • In Isaac Asimov's "Pact", the devil talks about er -- Above.
  • Lord of the Rings: "...all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King. More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth".
    • Sam and Frodo drive The Watchers in Cirith Ungol through this.
  • In Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, the witch warns Holger not to pray or cross himself. He's a Na´ve Newcomer and doesn't realize this means she's summoning a demon.
  • In The Armor of Light, Marlowe repeals a demon by invoking a holy name, and thinks he has conclusively shown that it is the name itself and not the virtue or holiness of the man speaking it that is effacious.
  • In the book version of Darby O'Gill and the Little People the Little People wince at anything pious. True to folklore much of which thinks of the Fey as spirits under a divine curse for some sin in the past, usually not taking sides against Satan.

Live Television
  • Supernatural: Demons flinch at the sound of God's name, though only if it's said in Latin as Christo.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the cleric spell Holy Word as well as the evil equivalent Blasphemy. They're not that discriminatory when it comes to hurting beings, but they do their worst stuff to diametrically opposed beings (evil for Holy World, good for Blasphemy).

Video Games
  • Nethack: most monsters are repelled by engraving Elbereth, and cannot attack a character who is praying if the prayer will succeed.
  • In RetroMUD there is a God of Good named Sikkar. Good aligned spiritual spell-casters can learn a spell called 'Holy Word', which works by invoking the true name of Sikkar and harms evil beings. Inverted with the evil equivalent 'blaspheme', which works by invoking the true name of Sikkar backwards and harms good beings.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • In Cosmic Christmas, Gabriel encounters a demon who claims to be defecting back to the angels. Unsure whether to trust him, Gabriel asks him to sing a hymn with him. The demon only sputter, and claims to have forgotten the words, before the music from the hymn drives him off.

Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • June 1, 2012
    NightNymph
    Live Television
    • Supernatural: Demons flinch at the sound of God's name, though only if it's said in Latin as Christo.
  • June 1, 2012
    aurora369
    Lord Of The Rings: "...all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King. More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth".
  • June 2, 2012
    Chabal2
    Does Dune's "my name is a killing word" count?
  • June 2, 2012
    Goldfritha
    Only if it works specifically on the Unholy, and because it was Holy, in Dune
  • June 2, 2012
    nameheregrrer
    Also in Lord Of The Rings, Sam and Frodo drive The Watchers in Cirith Ungol through this.

    Nethack: most monsters are repelled by engraving Elbereth, and cannot attack a character who is praying if the prayer will succeed.
  • June 2, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
  • June 2, 2012
    Goldfritha
    hmm. . . it counts if she's complying to avoid the treatment, but not if she is compeled to do it.
  • June 4, 2012
    Topazan
    • In RetroMUD there is a God Of Good named Sikkar. Good aligned spiritual spell-casters can learn a spell called 'Holy Word', which works by invoking the true name of Sikkar and harms evil beings. Inverted with the evil equivalent 'blaspheme', which works by invoking the true name of Sikkar backwards and harms good beings.
  • June 9, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    Dungeons And Dragons has the cleric spell Holy Word as well as the evil equivalent Blasphemy. They're not that discriminatory when it comes to hurting beings, but they do their worst stuff to diametrically opposed beings (evil for Holy World, good for Blasphemy).
  • June 28, 2012
    TheEpicN00b
    in The Bible, Moses kills an Egyptian by invoking God's name.
  • June 30, 2012
    TBeholder
  • July 7, 2012
    DarkConfidant
    I'm agreeing that this is not separate enough from Holy Burns Evil to count as a separate trope. At best, it might be an internal subtrope, but even then...
  • July 9, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    • In Cosmic Christmas, Gabriel encounters a demon who claims to be defecting back to the angels. Unsure whether to trust him, Gabriel asks him to sing a hymn with him. The demon only sputter, and claims to have forgotten the words, before the music from the hymn drives him off.

    @The Epic N00b: He does? Where? I only recall the Egyptian he killed before he ran away.
  • July 9, 2012
    tyrekecorrea
    Sorry, but this is just a watered-down version of It Burns.
  • July 29, 2012
    isk2837
    Chapter 14 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic Wild Horses introduces a priest who can kill vampires by saying things like this - "Jesus Christ rebukes you, O Demon! By the sacred Name of Jesus and that of Mary, His Holy Mother, and by the power of the Most Holy Rosary, I command you: Be gone, unclean spirit! I exorcise you, Demon, this servant of Almighty God and His sealed Image, by the grace of the Most Holy Spirit, by the sprinkling of this holy water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
  • July 29, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    It Burns and Holy Burns Evil pretty much covers the entire thing. This is a senseless subtrope.
  • January 13, 2013
    jatay3
    In the book version of Darby O Gill And The Little People the Little People wince at anything pious. True to folklore much of which thinks of the Fey as spirits under a divine curse for some sin in the past, usually not taking sides against Satan.
  • January 14, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^Not to mention it's also covered by Brown Note. Motion to discard.
  • January 18, 2013
    dvorak
    In the bible, simply mentioning Jesus drives away demons.
  • January 18, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Any Exorcism movie usually has this.
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