This is one of the nastiest things a villain can do to his enemies (Bad Powers, Bad People
mean that very few heroes get access to such moves). It strikes the primary target and then spreads from the point of impact. It comes in two flavours - either it spreads over the target's body, causing increased effect until neutralised ( a Life or Limb Decision
is common in darker settings) or it spreads onto other people, forcing everybody to avoid the affected victims. The ways it actually work vary, from mundade (napalm will stick to your body and make you set other things on fire) to magical ( gradual petrification) or technological (Grey Goo
). May be the ultimate weapon of a Gradual Grinder
. Compare The Virus
- In One Piece , Magellan's poison gains this quality once he Turns Red, forcing the heroes to hastily discard anything they use against him. At one point his poison hits an escaping prisoner - he grabs onto his friend, begging for help, and ends poisoning him as well.
- In The Witcher, the basilisk is said to be so poisonous that if you run it through with a lance, the poison will saturate it and kill both you and your horse. The witchers claim the story to be false though.
- In Naruto the flames of Amaterasu spread from the original target. Since nothing short of high level sealing techniques can extinguish them against the user's will, it makes them extremely dangerous.
- In Bleach Barregan's aging curse spreads over the affacted object and onto anything it touches. this gets him killed when his last would-be victim cuts off the cursed hand and teleports it inside his empty ribcage
- In Girl Genius one of the Jaegermonsters gets stung by a weird monster. He saves his life by getting his arm cut off - just in time, since the poison is so potent, the arm melts by the time it hits the ground.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sokka and Katara get trapped in growing crystals that start to engulf their bodies. fortunately the crystal turns out to be edible
- In Diablo3, some of the witch doctor's spells possess this quality, making them perfect weapons against large groups of enemies.
- Some things in D&D work like this, most notably the spell Blackfire, which engulfs the victim in constitution-damaging "black flames" spreading to anyone who fails to move away in time.
- Green Slime will spread over and convert any living tissue it touches into more green slime. It will eventually convert the victim's entire body if not removed. Anyone touching the new green slime will be infected as well.
- Module C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. A substance called "liquid light" will spread, covering 5% of the victim's body per minute. After the victim's mouth and nose are covered, they will suffocate in two minutes. A Darkness spell will destroy it.
- One villain in Sailor Moon cartoon had her magical computer create nanobots that worked like this.
- In Homeworld: Cataclysm, the Beast infection can work this way. The infection beam can jump smaller targets; the infection can also spread via impact with cruise missiles or ramming frigates.
- Wildfire in A Song of Ice and Fire - with a bit of alchemy, the local equivalent of Greek fire gets all the power of modern napalm, a horror for anyone trying to put it out.
- Also greyscale - unusual in that the original point of infection does not matter - the symptoms will always start at the extremities and, unless you chop them off and get lucky, spread up your limbs until you you are a mad, half-calcified zombie.
- The Corruption in Princess Mononoke, though it never gets intense enough on secondary targets to spread further on.
- The imfamous "Corrupted Blood" debuff in World of Warcraft was essentially a highly damaging damage over time effect that spread to any nearby players. It's imfamous because an exploit was found that allowed it to be taken out of the one boss fight it appeared on by getting a pet infected and dismissing it and then summoning it again later. The resulting "plague" essentially played out like a Real Life epidemic.
- In Dragon Ball Z, Dabura's spit had a little of this. Gohan was able to avoid being petrified by removing the affected glove.
- The virus/infection from Tron 2.0 is like this; once you get hit with an infected weapon, you have to isolate and decontaminate your infected memory blocks before the contagion spreads to all your subroutines.
- Subverted in Harry Potter - the curse from the ring looks like this but the curse itself reaches deeper than the visible effect - cutting off the arm will do no good.
- In Infinity Gauntlet, there is a scene in which Thanos touches She Hulk and Sub Mariner during battle. A strange substance grows on them, eventually covering them until they die. They got better before the end of the story, though.
- Real Life: Arguably, any venom counts. Though cases of cutting off a poisoned limb are extremely rare.