The Doctor: (fiddling with his sleeve) Oh, black tie. Whenever I wear this, something bad always happens.There are items that are believed to give you good luck, then there's this, an item that is deemed to be unlucky, the complete opposite of a lucky charm. When this item is in the possession of one character, expect very bad things to happen, like slipping on a Banana Peel, getting stuck in a puddle of glue that's been spilled on the sidewalk, or a plane suddenly runs out of gas and plummets to the ground right behind or in front of you. Essentially, this is an item that is deemed as unlucky, either because of its strange markings or its demonic shape or something. If you ever find yourself in the possession of one of these things, watch out. Bad Luck Charms tend to be harder to lose or be rid of than Good Luck Charms, with many of them being Clingy MacGuffins. Opposite of Good Luck Charm, obviously. Related to Artifact of Death. For this trope in character form, see The Jinx.
Martha: It's not the outfit, that's just you.
Martha: It's not the outfit, that's just you.
— Doctor Who, "The Lazarus Experiment"
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Anime and Manga
- In One Piece, the Kitetsu class swords are extremely sharp but also cursed and eventually lead the wielder to his tomb. So far, Zoro is the only one who has carried such a dangerous sword without ill effects, as his luck was stronger than the sword's curse. Note, this was probably a Shout-Out to the Real Life Muramasa swords, which have a similar fame.
- In Ojamajo Doremi, when Majo Ruka took over the Maho-Dou, she sold bad luck charms exclusively.
- The pendant that Nagi's grandfather gives Hayate in Hayate the Combat Butler adds more trouble for Hayate. Knowing the old man, it was probably deliberate. First hinted in the manga when Isumi exorcises some of the bad luck off the charm.
- A manga chapter of Nagasarete Airantou featured a cursed broom that brought misfortune to all who tried to use it... until it wound up in possession of Ayane, who has such horrible luck anyway that she completely failed to notice its effects.
- The Doomful Diamond from an episode of The Adventures of Mini-Goddess.
- The Lupin III (Red Jacket) episode "A Wedding Ring is an Accursed Trap" has Lupin steal the notoriously cursed Hope Diamond to give to Fujiko as an engagement ring. Among the misadventures afterward: Lupin's car is completely destroyed, Fujiko becomes an old crone, and Zenigata suddenly becomes a much better shot when firing at Lupin's gang.
- The title object in "The Unlucky Diamond" brings very bad luck (your chair collapses, the doorknob snaps off in your hand, rooftiles fall on you in the middle of the desert) to the holder; Iznogoud takes it from the beggar desperately trying to get rid of it, intending to present it as a gift to the caliph. Of course, it's a Clingy MacGuffin, and things only get worse.
- In another episode he buys a lucky charm medal from a vendor who has suffered horribly mutilating bad luck streaks, claiming "only his medal could save him!" Thinking the vendor out of his mind, he buys one from him to give the caliph as a gift... not realizing that the medal does work exactly as advertised (the vendor got all his mutilations before he was given his medal) and the Caliph has already been wearing one for years!
- The children's book The Bad Luck Penny. Leads to misfortunes like getting concussed by a baseball while sitting in the stands, and choking on your food.
- Jack Vance's Lyonesse: The Green Pearl features the eponymous item which will turn anyone who owns it to evil, until somebody else murders them to possess it. At one point the chain is broken when the owner is rendered helpless by somebody who's only interested in punishing him, and the pearl is temporarily forgotten.
- Starship Troopers: When going on his first deployment after the first half of OCS, the main character is offered a set of rank insignia that were used by a number of cadets who later flunked out for pure bad luck reasons. He grudgingly accepts them, which pleases the Commandant, who was the first to wear them and wants the "curse" broken.
- In "Hawaiian UFO Aliens" by Mel Gilden, the aliens are searching for a part stolen from their ship. The part causes local changes in probability, leading to bad luck and much weirdness in it's vicinity.
- In Rudyard Kipling's story "The King's Ankus" the eponymous jeweled artifact looks like this to Mowgli, who doesn't understand that the reason men keep killing each other for it is simply greed.
Live Action TV
- The Supernatural episode "Bad Day at Black Rock" had the Winchester brothers find a Lucky Rabbit's Foot talisman that gave the holder good luck until it left their person, at which point their luck would turn Necro Non Sequitur-inducingly bad. The only way to avoid certain death was to destroy the amulet in a specific ritual.
- The Brady Bunch episodes "Hawaii Bound", "Pass the Tabu" and "The Tiki Caves". Bobby finds an ancient tiki idol which appears to bring the family bad luck. The curse can only be lifted by leaving the idol in an old burial ground.
- In an episode of Scrubs, JD buys a pair of the tiki idols used on those Brady Bunch episodes for him and Turk when everyone takes a trip to the Bahamas. Even though, in-universe, they're just a prop, they appear to bring bad luck to the two.
- An episode from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine featured a drifting conman who stumbled across what appeared to be a handheld game-of-chance device (of unknown origin), press the button and one "wins" if the lights all blink and the music plays. He quickly realizes that "winning" seems to bring him incredible luck, which he parlays into building a gambling hall full of giant versions of the thing (by telling the replicator to just copy the original to a larger scale). The big devices begin affecting the entire station, not just the players, causing incredible streaks of bad and good luck. These start getting really extreme and randomly reversing, growing increasingly dangerous as the crew struggles to figure out what is going on.
- In Generation Kill the ironically-named candy, Charms, are seen as bad luck and are not allowed to be eaten within Team 1 Alpha's humvee.
Corporal Josh Ray Person: Oh, no. Now not only do we have to worry about all the Charms you've eaten, but now Brad's just pissed off God.
- A first season episode of Babylon 5 has a character nicknamed Jinxo, who is believed by many to be a walking Bad Luck Charm. He worked on the construction of all five Babylon stations. The first three stations were blown up in terrorist attacks, and the fourth vanished mysteriously. He refuses to leave Babylon Five because he thinks that if he does, something bad will happen to it. Another character tells Jinxo that he's got it backwards: he should be called "Lucky" because he managed to escape unharmed from four separate dangerous incidents. Jinxo says that he never thought about it that way before; the other guy comments that no one ever does.
- "The Clover", in The Middle's third season, inverts the trope by having a four-leaf clover, usually considered to be a good luck charm, bring Brick nothing but bad luck.
- Deconstructed in the 2 Broke Girls' episode "And the Pearl Necklace." Caroline and Max's debate over whether her pearl necklace or the loss of it was the cause of her misfortunes becomes a general discussion of whether luck exists.
- Herman Munster had the misfortune to get a ring containing the Fregosi emerald stuck on his finger. Things go From Bad to Worse when he accidentally swallows the Nathanson Ruby.
- The Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who provides the page quote, as he believes his black-tie suit brings him bad luck. He's only worn it twice on screen, but the first time he nearly gets killed by a giant soul-sucking insect thing in "The Lazarus Experiment" and the second time he spends the whole episode fighting for his life on a crashing spaceship in "Voyage of the Damned". Then again, that's pretty much his life anyway, suit or no suit.
Mythology and Religion
- The Bible: Whenever the The Ark of the Covenant ended up in the hands of rival nations, bad things happened to them. The curses usually ended when they gave it back.
- Sir Balyn removes a sword from a lady's scabbard. This sword ends up causing all kinds of horrible things to happen, eventually causing Balyn to kill his brother Balan in battle.
- In one Hägar the Horrible strip, Hagar asks Lucky Eddie how he bought the lucky penny he is carrying so cheaply. "It has a curse on it," he replies.
- Various cursed items in Dungeons & Dragons have this effect, giving out penalties to various stats when used. Ones that fall under this in particular are the gauntlets of fumbling (50% chance every 6 seconds of dropping whatever is in your hands), Bracers of Defenselessness (effectively increasing your opponents' chances to hit you by 25%), and a Cloak of Resistance hit with Opposite Effect (a penalty to all of your saving throws). Most of these are a Clingy Macguffin to boot.
- The Romanov Emerald in The Riddle of Master Lu is said to be unlucky, and bad things do keep happening to people who carry it. (Don't send it as an exhibit to your museum back home. It won't help your business to prosper.) In the end, you give it to a minor villain, who promptly cuts off some of his toes with a misaimed spade and then suffers a Disney Villain Death when trying to cross a chasm.
- The Witcher 2: Melitele's Heart is an ancient artifact that has been cursed; instead of protecting the user, it just makes them unlucky. The poor idiot who has the artifact will die unless Geralt can convince him that charging into a battlefield without armor and an artifact that may or may not be cursed is sure to get him kiled. If Geralt gives the amulet to an archwitch living a quiet life in the Khanduras, she'll offer to remove the curse or pay him for the artifact. Removing the curse grants you a regeneration amulet, invaluable between consecutive fights and attrition battles.
- Mindmistress invented a colorful design good luck charm that attaches to back. This charm really works, but she couldn't stop it from switching into bad luck mode which is colored in grays. It was stolen, and guy got rich, famous, etc, but it turned gray. He didn't know what it meant so he kept wearing it. Unfortunately he worn it for a month, increasing his bad luck to deadly levels.
- An episode of Garfield and Friends had Garfield receive the Klopman diamond from Jon's deceased cousin. Said diamond was said to be cursed, but Garfield doesn't believe it, despite all of the unusual disasters that befell him, until the end when he finally gives it to the lawyer who wanted the diamond in the first place.
- The Little Lulu Show episode, "The Curse Of The Thingamajig" had Lulu and Tubby find a mysterious object that they called a "Thingamajig". The Thingamajig gave them a lot of bad luck throughout the episode, until it was discovered that it was actually the hood ornament on a guy's car.
- The cursed emerald from the Jackie Chan Adventures St. Patrick's Day episode. When Jade gets it, she has two potentially fatal accidents in about a minute. When Jackie takes it off her, he immediately gets a phone call telling him he's bankrupt. They have to return it to its proper resting place in Ireland to break the curse - and just to make things more complicated, the curse only passes from person to person if the emerald is exchanged "willingly".
- An episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? had the gang in Greece, where Shaggy bought what he thought was a lucky amulet that keeps monsters away when in actuality, it was an emerald that attracted the Centaur that kept chasing the gang.
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Hawaiian Vacation", Candice finds a tiki charm which appears to give her bad luck, and keeps coming back when she tries to get rid of it. She interprets a local's advice to be "throw it into the volcano", but it turns out that there is a restaurant on top of the mountain, and the charm is a "your table is ready" alert device. After having bad luck throughout the episode, she refuses her free dessert simply because it was something the charm brought her. She then continues to suffer bad luck without it, just like usual.
- Happy Tree Friends has the cursed idol that causes certain death to anybody near it.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: one episode involved a mysterious unconnected phone that somehow rung. Eddy got his hands on it after Rolf discarded it and immediately got bad luck.
- The Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Shoe" featured Experiment 113 a.k.a. "Shoe", who was essentially a living bad luck charm. Subverted later on that Shoe's bad luck could be switched over to good luck by simply lifting up the horseshoe-shaped projection on his head.
- The animated Spirou and Fantasio had an episode where an already unlucky bad guy had to transport a full cargo of these for resale. Naturally, he crash-landed.
- A short on the What A Cartoon! Show, "Awfully Lucky", had a sleazy guy trying to get a rare gem to a museum offering a huge reward for it. The gem was cursed to give whoever owns it alternating extremely good and extremely bad luck. The guy ends up suffering all sorts of increasingly ludicrous calamities, and just barely living through them, trying to get the gem to the museum.
- A short with The Pink Panther had Big Nose as a bank robber who finds a horseshoe, but it brings him bad luck. Every time he tries to get rid of it, the Panther returns it to him.
- One episode of Danger Mouse centers on The Bad Luck Eye of the Little Yellow God. And boy, is it unlucky!
- On Total Drama Island, Beth once took a voodoo idol from Bony Island despite Chris's warning that doing so will curse the perpetrator, and after the Screaming Gophers lose the challenge it causes them to lose the two after it as well. Beth returns it and the Gophers win the next challenge, but it returns as part of a challenge in a later episode.
- Legend has it that the Hope Diamond is a Real Life example of one of these, but for the current owner, The Smithsonian Institution, they like to remark that it's given them good luck ever since they got it; it's boosted attendance with people wanting to see it.
- Some people feel that volcanic rocks stolen from Hawaii turn into these. More information from Snopes here.
- Also rocks from Iceland.
- Another urban legend claims that the car in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo in August 1914 has doomed all of its subsequent owners.
- Still another legend claims this about the James Dean car.