aka: Cross-Melting Aura
Occult Detective, The Hunter, and The Men in Black in charge of policing the supernatural threats that step out of line, a thorough knowledge of how Our Monsters Are Different is vital. They need to know all the Weaksauce Weaknesses, the various Kryptonite Factors, and develop Depleted Phlebotinum Shells in order to properly exploit the weaknessess of their prey. This is what helps level the playing field and save the lives of countless heroes as the forces of darkness run from the light hissing and burning. Except, of course, when it doesn't. Some especially old, powerful, determined, or twisted creatures may be so completely evil that they actually make the holy item crumble, spontaneously combust or even liquefy in apparent fear and impotence. Much like Holy Burns Evil but inverted, the evil character or force defiles the holy / pure item to the point it's destroyed or at least rendered inert. Of course, such destruction is never subtle and is catered to the holy item. Holy statues will weep tears of blood, prayer slips will have their holy runes drip off, and the Place of Protection will sour and die. And crosses, as seen in the accompanying image, catch flame and burn to ash. However, the evil character can still be one-upped if the holy influence is combined with a person who has great faith and virtue. When a person is affected in this way, they are Allergic to Evil. Compare Fight Off the Kryptonite and Scissors Cuts Rock, for other characters resisting their weaknesses with raw power. Contrast Turn Undead, which can similarly be rebuked this way by a sufficiently powerful evil entity.
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Anime & Manga
- Meier Link in Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust causes crosses to bend when he gets near. Not only that, but his presence also causes running water to freeze, mirrors to break, and flowers to wilt and die.
- In the animated Hellsing, this is how Alucard defeats Incognito: he uses his cross-melting aura to make a long silver stake to impale Incognito on: first through the chest and heart, then vertically all the way through.
- In Naruto, the First Hokage's necklage is able to contain the Ninetails/Kyuubi inside him when he manifests up to four tails. Beyond that though...
Films — Live-Action
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, Buffy holds a cross out in an attempt to ward off Lothos and he grabs it, causing the cross to burst into flames. He even mocks her for her "puny faith"... upon which she corrects him by invoking her "keen fashion sense" — and whips out a can of hair spray to turn the cross into an impromptu flame thrower.
- In The Devil's Advocate, when Lucifer enters a church he makes the holy water boil by dipping his fingers in and all the angel statuary cry.
- Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
- Dracula's brides make Jonathan Harker's cross liquefy off his body as they seduce and drain him. Thankfully the process seems not to have superheated it, as it flowed off his chest harmlessly. It was a small cross; not enough power to ward them off (the bride that melts it recoils for a bit before regaining her composure and working her magic).
- Subverted with the vampiric Lucy as she most likely isn't powerful enough to go against crosses (being newly turned and all).
- Played straight against Dracula who burns the cross Helsing tries to use against him.
- In Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, Pinhead liquified the cross held at him by a priest, seriously burning him.
- In Van Helsing, Van Helsing holds up a huge honkin' silver crucifix to stop Dracula. He grabs it, screaming in agony; at which point it catches fire, melts, and he laughs.
- The Lair of the White Worm avoids vampires' weakness to crosses and at one point, the film's antagonist sprays acid-breath onto a crucifix to melt it.
- The original Fright Night (1985) has scary-movie actor turned vampire hunter Peter Vincent tries to use a cross against the vampire. The vampire takes it away from him and tosses it, noting that since Vincent doesn't believe it will work, it won't. Charley tries it, using a much smaller cross. His greater faith actually causes Jerry to cringe away.
- The remake Fright Night (2011) has this occur has a crowning moment of snark when Charley tries it on Jerry:
- In Dracula (1979), Jonathan Harker tries to ward off the Count with a wooden cross, but he just smiles and grabs it, making it burst in flames.
- Occurs in The Apocalypse Door by James D. Macdonald.
Wherever the rosary touched the bag above the fungal glop, a thin trickle of grey smoke rose up into the still apartment air.
"Looks like that'll kill it", Simon said.
[...] It wasn't the fungus that was on fire after all. It was the rosary.
- In the Eisenhorn book Hereticus, a priest mistakes Cherubael for a manifestation of the God-Emperor and runs to meet it with an Imperial aquila. While the aquila manages to keep Cherubael away at first, eventually the daemonhost manages to melt the aquila.
- Happens again in 'Salem's Lot, when Callahan's faith falters when confronting the ancient vampire Barlow: when agreeing to toss aside his cross to save Mark Petrie, he hesitates, and the cross loses its power. Later in the same continuity (or at least partly), in The Dark Tower novel Song of Susannah, Callahan has gained confidence and knows the proper answer to such a challenge: he doesn't need to throw the cross away, but he can tuck it away and still retain the power of faith radiating from him and hurting the vampires.
- Played with the sun itself by Tolkien. Throughout Lord of the Rings we've been told that the forces of Sauron like Orcs, Trolls and Nazgūl are afraid of the sun, and sunlight weakens or outright destroys them. And in the third book, we see Sauron's army on the march to Minas Tirith. Cue the sun fading and the day becoming dark as night.
- The pall of darkness is later blown away by a wind out of the west (wind being commanded by Manwė, holiest of the Valar), which also just happens to give Aragorn's stolen boats the extra boost of speed required to provide effective reinforcements to Gondor.
- The Dresden Files
- Subverted in the third book, Grave Peril. While attending a vampire ball, a Red Court vampire (less vulnerable to faith than the undead Black Court) laughs at Michael's cross and grabs it mockingly, saying that it was immune to such things. The vampire then immediately bursts into white flame.
- Of course it can be played straight depending on the person. In the Dresdenverse holy symbols only work if the person who is using it to protect himself actually has faith in what the symbol stands for. So a cross held by someone who has no faith is only holding a useless trinket. In Michael's case, he is literally a holy warrior chosen by God.
- When Harry needs to use something, he uses the pentacle given to him by his mother. To him, it represents his faith in magic guided by human will.
- All faeries are burned horribly by the touch of iron. All faeries except Mother Winter. She has iron teeth.
- Both the book and film version of The Keep, have a version of this, although the two versions have slightly different circumstances. In both versions one of the German officers holds up a cross to ward off Molassar the vampire. Who is actually not a vampire at all but a sort of Humanoid Abomination Emotion Eater who predates written history. Both times there is a brief moment where it seems to be working, and then Molassar reaches out, grabs the cross, and effortlessly turns it into a twisted lump of metal. Rather more satisfying in the film version because it's happening to the Smug Snake SS Major instead of the noble, conflicted, My Country, Right or Wrong Wehrmacht Captain.
- In the Doctor Who story "The Curse of Fenric", the doubting priest's holy symbols are ineffective against the Haemovores. This is because the Haemovores are not actually repelled by holy symbols (like a cross), but rather the faith that their wielder has invested in them. As by this point in the story, the priest's faith is severely wavering, what power he may have had has simply seeped away...
- There are numerous examples in Supernatural. Hallowed ground can repel minor demons, but not any that get named/affect the plot. Episode 4.09, "I Know What you Did Last Summer", features a statue of Mary bleeding from the eyes as the demon Alistair approaches.
- The video for Dimmu Borgir's Sacrilegious Scorn has a priest threaten Shagrath with a wooden crucifix. Shagrath merely looks amused, grabs the crucifix, and sets it aflame.
- The Baali in the Old World of Darkness. Being Satanist vampires, they are the only ones in the setting actually vulnerable to crosses (rather than to faith) but as they grow more powerful, they can repel religious people in turn.
- Being the inverse of the Zenith Caste, Midnight Caste Abyssals in Exalted have the ability to toughen themselves against holy beings. This can also, more literally, be a result of Abyssal Resonance eruptions. Lastly, a class of First Circle Demons called teodozjia are basically hardcore Yozi priests, and engage in a battle of this vs. Good Hurts Evil if they come across a Zenith Caste Solar.
- In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, it's stated that when a priest shows a vampire his symbol, there's actually a battle of wills going on. If the priest wins, the emblem repels the vampire. If the vampire wins, well...
- In the game The Darkness, the final part of the game seems to involve the eponymous Darkness (which is generally weakened by light) supercharging due to a solar eclipse. With the greatest source of its weakness blotted out, it reaches a power level where it explodes lightbulbs that are near it, destroying both light sources and potential light sources.
- In World of Warcraft, the suicide/lichification of Ras Frostwhisper by the Lich King is evil enough to corrupt the Stratholme Cathedral, remove its connection to the Holy Light, and consecrate it to the Scourge.
- In King's Quest II: Romancing The Throne, the silver cross given to you by the monk will protect you from Dracula. But in the AGD Interactive Fan Remake, if you try the cross on his equivalent (the Affably Evil Count Caldaur), he'll kiss it and sarcastically say "God bless Kolyma". (This may have a little something to do with the fact that the monk is evil in this version...)
- In Sword of the Stars II, the Xombie Plague is so powerful that even the normally Kung Fu Proof Zuul are not immune.
- In The Binding of Isaac, the Bible kills the Final Boss and the True Final Boss in one hit. In the expansion, attempting to use it against any of the new bosses backfires horribly.
- Dracula in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 creates one after (failing to) break a paladin he just bested with a "Reason You Suck" Speech. And just to drive the point home, he begins to chant the same Latin prayer that the paladin's chanting. The end result is a cross melting aura that causes such a massive explosion of power it can be seen from space and also destroys his 100-something acre castle. When it clears up, Dracula's standing in an empty field of nothing but ashes with a molten red crucifix and a rather confused look on his face. In this case, it's not because he's too powerful or evil for the cross, it's because he is still God's chosen champion.
- Dracula also has one in Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles when he is first revived. He flies past a church, causing the cross on its steeple to crumple as if Magneto had taken a disliking to it.
- Ghosts in Silent Hill 4 cause Henry to slowly lose health just from proximity. But he can protect his health by wearing a holy medal or lighting a candle, both of which weaken ghosts as a bonus... the problem is the medals slowly break because of the ghost's evil and the candles burn out; making them limited use and rare items for dealing with the unkillable ghosts.
- May appear in Sluggy Freelance, in "Vampires". Riff, being Jewish, uses a Star of David against vampires, since any holy symbol will do. (They even consider a can of beer, but not light beer.) The powerful Lysinda Circle vampire Valerie grabs the symbol from around his neck and crushes it; she doesn't seem harmed by it at all, and while she's touching it, there's a hissing noise. It could be some version of this trope, though it might also be that it's actually burning her, but to such a small extent that she's able to ignore it.
- Appears in Tales of the Questor. Magnetized iron damages most fae creatures, but the Princeling merely acts indignant that someone would dare to think that a magnetized horseshoe would hurt him.