Created By: TwentyTwoSevenths on June 30, 2012 Last Edited By: Morgenthaler on August 11, 2016

Supernatural Repellent

A particular substance repels the supernatural.

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In fiction, there are a lot of things the attract the supernatural: a cursed object, a summoning, owning a Soul Jar or some Sealed Evil in a Can, the list is practically endless. So, naturally, if there are so many ways to attract to the supernatural, there has to be at least a few ways to repel the supernatural.

Enter the supernatural repellent. In fiction, there are a number of ways to send supernatural spirits sprinting away, from common house-hold items, like salt, to actual houses or other places where evil can not follow you.

Speaking of salt, salt is a very common way to allegedly repel spirits, usually witches. This is supposedly because salt represents life, and thus repels the dead.

Super Trope to:

Compare Protective Charm, which is an artifact that protects you from other things, in addition to the supernatural. Contrast Summoning Artifact, an object which mainly attracts evil. See also Kryptonite Factor, which is about weaknesses for superheroes.


Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • Crossed: Early on, one guy is chased by a Crossed who abandons pursuit after both fall in salt. Despite it being pointed out that getting salt in your eyes is an effective way to kill your enthusiasm, the guy persists in believing they're afraid of it, and his next-to-last scene has him surrounded by Crossed, smiling cheerfully along with his wife in a ring of salt. His final scene is both being raped to death by said Crossed while his wife curses him out as an idiot.

    Film 
  • Hocus Pocus has this in both the object and the place variety. Apparently, witches can not cross a ring of salt, nor can they set foot on a graveyard. they can fly over the graveyard, though.

    Literature 
  • In The Dresden Files, a circle can keep out the bad, as well as the mundane. This becomes a plot point in Fool Moon, where a specialized three-circle is used to repel both the bad and the mundane, as well as trap the creature inside.
  • Parodied in the Discworld novels, especially in Carpe Jugulum, where much mirth is raised by recounting, in a Discworld context, all the things which Earth legends say are fatal to vampires. This ranges from the normal- garlic, and whatnot- to the more unorthodox- lemons, poppyseed, and carrots.

    Live Action TV 
  • Supernatural
    • And, of course, for a real supernatural repellent, this series shows that a ring of salt will protect you.
    • Another way to get rid of ghosts in the Supernatural-verse is iron, although it's also used to just kill or weaken them normally.
  • In a Dracula sketch on The Benny Hill Show, Drac is repelled by a picture of Nicholas Parsons, who was a Benny Hill show regular. Nicholas Parsons is the sort of clean-living, squeaky-clean TV and radio personality who a young damsel could trust with their virginity, her wealth, or her aging parents, knowing they're in safe hands. Comedians make much mirth from the sort of personality this implies - either oleaginously greasy, or else utterly boring. But he is regarded as a National Living Treasure and by all accounts is a totally decent and likeable guy. Dracula would be repelled.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • As it's been mentioned before, a lot of superstitions mention that salt is a very good way to get rid of demons.
  • Other repellents for the supernatural include garlic and crosses for vampires.
  • In Shinto, plates of salt placed by the door are said to repel evil spirits.
  • Wiccans believe that salt cleanses an area of negative/evil energy, and it's not uncommon to see a plate of salt on the altar.
  • Inverted by the Aztec goddess of fertility, Huixtocihuatl, who resides over salt and salt water.
  • In The Bible, iron was good for keeping fairies from steeling your baby and replacing it with a changeling. Coincidentally enough, it also says the Bible itself repels fairies just as well as iron.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Mirrors, garlic and holy symbols (and other holy relics) repel vampires.
    • Clerics can turn the undead, which causes them to retreat from the cleric.
    • The 1st Edition Advanced D&D supplement Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia mentions that objects covered in dung are reputedly unable to be touched by the undead.
    • 1st Edition Advanced D&D supplement Oriental Adventures. Magic items called "Noisome Spirit Chasers" are firecrackers that, when detonated, cause nearby spirits to leave the area.
  • In Age of Aquarius, radiation repels and hurts spirits. Those spirits who cannot simply leave the presence of the radiation isotopes (like earth spirits, bound to their land,) were subjected to a Fate Worse Than Death.

    Theater 
  • In the West End/Broadway version of Dracula, Van Helsing uses The Host as this.

    Video Games 
  • Scribblenauts, humorously enough, has the aptly titled "Zombie Repellent." Guess what it does.
  • Pokémon:
    • The aptly named "Repel" items (Repel, Super Repel, Max Repel, in ascending order of duration) in the series blocks Random Encounters with any wild Pokémon of lower level than the first one in the Player Party. It's drawn as a spray-can like bug repellent.
    • The Cleanse Tag is a held item introduced in Generation II. Equipped to the first Pokémon in the party, it reduces the rate of random encounters with lower-level wild Pokémon.
    • Inverted with the Generation II move Sweet Scent, which causes an instant random encounter if used outside of battle in a tile where wild Pokémon can appear (even overriding use of a Repel or Cleanse Tag).

     Web Original 
  • In Alice Isn't Dead the smell of heather oil repels the Thistle Man, so when she goes to confront him The Narrator slathers herself in it and shoves some whole heather branches into his mouth.

Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • June 30, 2012
    planswalker
    • A better example from Dungeons And Dragons are vampires. An enterprising hero can use a mirror to force the vampire to not approach them, as well as using garlic or a holy symbol.
    • Clerics in Dungeons And Dragons can use their holy symbols to turn undead, to a more general effect against all undead creatures.

    • In the Harry Dresden novels, a circle inscribed by a wizard can be used to repel supernatural baddies OR to keep out mundane forces. A plot point in Fool Moon revolves around a specialized three-circle intended to repel both at once while trapping a creature inside.
  • June 30, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In the original West End/Broadway version of Dracula Van Helsing uses the Host to repel Drac.
  • July 1, 2012
    aurora369
    No, clerics do not turn THEMSELVES undead. They turn undead as in "banish", not as in "become".
  • July 2, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons supplement Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia. Objects or persons that are covered in dung reputedly cannot be touched or hurt by the undead.
  • July 2, 2012
    AgProv
    Literature: In Terry Pratchett's Discworld, especially Carpe Jugulum, much mirth is raised by recounting in a discworld context all the things which various Earth folklores say are fatal to vampires. From the obvious - garlic - to the ludicrious - carrots, lemons and poppyseed.
  • July 2, 2012
    dalek955
    Of course, such repellents are unreliable against very powerful entities, who may generate a Cross Melting Aura.

    By the way, there's already a whole page on Turn Undead.
  • July 2, 2012
    TrustBen
    Supernatural also has the Leviathan, near-immortal maneaters who can be destroyed with a common household cleaner.
  • July 2, 2012
    NightNymph
    ^ I'm not sure if that is repelling so much as wounding?

    Is this trope going to include both? Because in the Supernatural-verse, there is both. For example, in that verse, salt does repell spirits, but it also causes them to vanish temporarirly if they are hit with it (and so therefor also hurts them). It is similar with iron which as you mentioned both repells and hurts spirits (as well as demons).

    Supernatural also has a list of things too long to mention individually which repell various monsters, ghosts, demons, and angels. These include symbols of various religions and peoples (such as pentagrams, the Anasasi symbols which keep away a Wendigo, and the various Enochian "angel-proofing" symbols), various herbs (such as the devil's shoestring herb which repells hell hounds), various concoctions (such as "goofer dust" which also repels hellhounds), natural "by products" (Cat's eye shells are mentioned as spirit repellents), and different types of metals and mineral compounds (like the aforementioned iron and salt).
  • July 3, 2012
    kamai
    iron and the bible were always good for keeping the fairies from stealing your baby and leaving a changeling in it's place; you could put an iron key, iron bar, or bible in the crib with the baby as changeling repellent
  • July 4, 2012
    aurora369
    In Age Of Aquarius, radiation hurts and repels spirits. Those spirits that cannot just leave the presence of radioactive isotopes (like nature spirits that are bound to their land) are subject to a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • July 4, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In a Dracula sketch on The Benny Hill Show Drac is repelled by a picture of Nicholas Parsons (a Benny Hill Show regular).
  • July 4, 2012
    AgProv
    You could add that Nicholas Parsons is the sort of clean-living, squeaky-clean TV and radio personality who a young damsel could trust with their virginity, her wealth, or her ageing parents, knowing they're in safe hands. Comedians make much mirth from the sort of personality this implies - either oleaginously greasy, or else utterly boring. But he is regarded as a National Living Treasure and by all accounts is a totally decent and likeable guy. Dracula would be repelled.
  • August 2, 2016
    DAN004
    Supertrope for Cold Iron (for fairy-like beings) and that "vampires hate garlic" trope.
  • August 2, 2016
    Chabal2
    Crossed: Early on, one guy is chased by a Crossed who abandons pursuit after both fall in salt. Despite it being pointed out that getting salt in your eyes is an effective way to kill your enthusiasm, the guy persists in believing they're afraid of it, and his next-to-last scene has him surrounded by Crossed, smiling cheerfully along with his wife in a ring of salt. His final scene is both being raped to death by said Crossed while his wife curses him out as an idiot.
  • August 2, 2016
    Arivne
  • August 2, 2016
    Arivne
  • August 2, 2016
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • 1st Edition Advanced D&D supplement Oriental Adventures. Magic items called "Noisome Spirit Chasers" are firecrackers that, when detonated, cause nearby spirits to leave the area.
  • August 2, 2016
    Antigone3
    "In The Bible, iron was good for keeping fairies from steeling your baby and replacing it with a changeling." Nope, not in any translation I've ever seen. Unless you can cite chapter and verse, this should be listed as folklore instead.

    Another Tabletop Games example: Night's Black Agents splits anti-vampire precautions into "Banes" (causes damage to the vampire) and "Blocks" (keeps the vampire and/or its influence away). Anything in the latter category is this trope.
  • August 2, 2016
    HeroGal2347
    ^ Right about the Bible one. It's not in there.

    Vampires Hate Garlic would be a subtrope.
  • August 2, 2016
    StarSword
    Video Games:
    • Pokemon:
      • The aptly named "Repel" items (Repel, Super Repel, Max Repel, in ascending order of duration) in the series blocks Random Encounters with any wild Pokemon of lower level than the first one in the Player Party. It's drawn as a spray-can like bug repellent.
      • The Cleanse Tag is a held item introduced in Generation II. Equipped to the first Pokemon in the party, it reduces the rate of random encounters with lower-level wild Pokemon.
      • Inverted with the Generation II move Sweet Scent, which causes an instant random encounter if used outside of battle in a tile where wild Pokemon can appear (even overriding use of a Repel or Cleanse Tag).
  • August 2, 2016
    StarSword
    Also, the Bible does not say that. That's post-Christian Celtic folklore.
  • August 2, 2016
    DAN004
    Wait, I just found Kryptonite Factor.
  • August 4, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    ^ I think that one is another Sub Trope of this one, as it's specific to Superheroes. I do see some signs of Missing Supertrope Syndrome there with several shoehorns on the page.

    This is a much broader Super Trope to a number of other ones like Cold Iron, Salt Solution, and Vampires Hate Garlic. In turn, this looks like a Sub Trope to Achilles Heel.
  • August 9, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    Since it seems the OP has forgotten about this one, I'll take up sponsorship.

    Updated to here.
  • August 9, 2016
    DAN004
  • August 10, 2016
    Katsuhagi
    Web Original
    • In Alice Isnt Dead the smell of heather oil repels the Thistle Man, so when she goes to confront him The Narrator slathers herself in it and shoves some whole heather branches into his mouth.
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