Curses are a very old trope. Very
old. They served as warnings to listeners against defying morality or doing the taboo, for fear of angering the gods and incurring some terrible punishment. What might bring down a curse? It depended entirely on the story. Eating Forbidden Fruit
, crossing the bridge after midnight, speaking out of Pride
or even unkindness to strangers can trigger a curse.
The curser might be a petty
god, witch, or even a normal person driven to great anger. Words
have power, especially spoken from the heart. Doubly so if the heart is filled with bitter rage. Triply so if the person is dying
. But even in ordinary circumstances, Be Careful What You Say
, or you may well cast a curse on a loved one. For that matter, if you make The Promise
and say, "May [curse] fall on me if I fail!" you can curse yourself. Or the curse might not be cast by anyone at all, it may well be a 'maliceless' effect of breaking some taboo. And there's no guarantee that the cursed person is the offender; a Hereditary Curse
may steadily descend through a family.
A curse may be Laser-Guided Karma
, in which case it will fit the crime like a glove. Otherwise — and sometimes even when it is Laser-Guided Karma
— curses are the very darkest
of Black Magic
The effect of the curse on a character and story is that of a potent driving force. Getting rid of it can drive a character to do great and terrible things. Enduring one can add drama and complicate a hero's life. Resolving it
is cause for a satisfying resolution. Whatever the case, curses aren't minor things.
Curses can come in all shapes and sizes. Common curses include:
Curses can also be put on inanimate objects
, such as swords
, and places, both houses
and lands. Places tend to turn to Mordor
under curses, or at least smell bad
, and both places and objects inflict bad things on the people about, or owning, them.
Curses can be cut short
- Giving back a stolen item, apologizing, or otherwise setting right the original offense.
- Completing an Impossible Task.
- Dying and coming back, usually as part of finding a loophole in the curse.
- Passing it on to someone else, like a bad penny.
- Getting the cursing person to die. (Not effective in cases of a dying curse.)
- For a country, putting the rightful king on the throne. (This may or may not fall under the first as well.)
- The Power of Love. Sometimes this simply requires actually being loved by someone else, sometimes it requires the person to receive True Love's Kiss to seal the deal. Furthermore, many curses are susceptible to the Power of Love even if it's not supposed to be a condition of the curse.
For some reason, a curse that turns you into a member of the opposite sex
hard to break, doubly so if you were a man
It isn't awesome
and was not meant as a blessing
, this is a wicked spell
intended to harm or even kill the cursed character. A common variant is the Gypsy Curse
. Contrast the Protective Charm
, which can block or lessen curses. See also One Curse Limit
, in which a victim can only suffer a single curse at one time. See also Curse That Cures
, when a character seeks out a curse because it will cure them of a sickness or injury as a side effect.
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Anime and Manga
- Ranma ½: Ranma fell into a cursed spring where a young girl drowned — as a result, whenever he is splashed with cold water he will turn into a girl. This is where most of the plot complications and comedy stem from. If he is splashed with hot water, he changes back. Several other characters apparently fell into magical springs where something drowned in it, and suffer Involuntary Shapeshifting themselves.
- Besides Ranma's curse there are several other curses as well as cursed objects. Such as the other cursed springs, the curse that a ghost placed on Happosai to get him to steal her panties, the cursed paintings, and more.
- Berserk: Guts and Casca have the Brand of Sacrifice as a result of Griffith's betrayal during the Eclipse, which acts as a magnet for ravening demons that want to eat them alive, causes them pain when the monsters draw near and generally makes their lives a living Hell.
- Hayate the Combat Butler: Athena, Mikado and Himegami have been to have been placed under a curse for trying to steal the power of god. Exactly what these curses are hasn't been stated yet. Part of Athena's was to be stuck in the Royal Garden for eternity, though at least that part of the curse is no longer valid. And it's after this has been cleared that she talks about being cursed, so we know that's not all there is to it.
- Air: The curse the Buddhist Monks pull on Kannabi has the effect of killing her and her next incarnations if they are to fall in love or be loved. Only true happiness can break the curse and make the next life much better.
- In InuYasha, Miroku's family was cursed by Naraku with the Wind Tunnel: a black hole in the palm of the right hand that's passed down through each generation. The Wind Tunnel absorbs everything in front of it unless sealed by enchanted prayer beads, and it's constantly expanding which culminates in it being strong enough to break the seal and consume its bearer and all that surrounds him, just like it has already done with Miroku's father and grandfather. The only way for Miroku to free himself and his descendants from this fate is to kill Naraku.
- In Bloody Cross, half bloods are all cursed to die when they turn 18 unless they drink a pure demon's blood or find a God's inheritence strong enough to remove the curse.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, the protagonist, Yugi, solves an ancient puzzle which houses the spirit of a 5000 year old Pharaoh, and according to both the Dub and the original Japanese version, he is supposedly 'cursed'. It's a rather beneficial curse, though, as he gains an alter ego voiced by Dan Green and becomes an expert in all kinds of games, even beating the world champion in a card game the first time they play against each other. And it comes in handy during the "Waking The Dragons" Arc, where the Seal of Orichalcos, a regular card, seals the loser's soul. If having an extra soul was ever an advantage, this would be the time.
- C'hou is riddled with curses, which seem to be easy to cast.
- Lyndess was cursed by the Dalns gods to remain on Ketafa until she figures out how to cross the ocean without using any sort of vessel (ships sink under her, it's too far to swim, etc.). Another thing that will break the curse is if she apologizes to the god who cursed her, but she can't, because...
- Ketafa itself is under a curse: the gods cannot see anything on the continent.
- Actually, no, it's not, the gods are just ignoring the continent, but no one knows this.
- As'taris is cursed to return to his house every evening until Brox returns or he dies. (Brox did this to ensure that As would not go skylarking off after rumors of monsters.) Also, he's cursed not to initiate combat with anyone. He often tries to get people to fight him, but no one will.
- In the Total Drama story, Courtney And The Violin Of Despair, a curse on the titular violin is the root cause of Courtney's string of misfortunes.
- Penelope has the titular Penelope receive a hundred plus year old curse on her family that their first born daughter would be ugly until she were accepted by "one of her own." This is why her parents went about trying to get her married, but it turns out the curse can be interpreted as "when she accepts herself." As soon as she becomes okay with the idea that she's going to be ugly forever, and it's not a cause for angst, does the curse lift.
- Drag Me to Hell has the protagonist be cursed by a gypsy woman to be terrorized by a Lamia for three nights before being bodily dragged into hell. All for denying her a third loan extension on her house.
- The antagonists in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl are cursed to be undead as long as Aztec gold they stole remains scattered.
- Ladyhawke has two lovers, Etienne Navarre and Isabeau de Anjou, who are kept apart by a demonic curse laid by the corrupt and jealous Bishop of Aquila, who wanted Isabeau for himself. By day, Isabeau becomes a hawk, and by night, Etienne becomes a wolf. The only time they can both see each other in human form is at dusk and dawn of each day for one fleeting moment, but they can never touch. The two break the curse by surviving until the "day without a night and a night without a day" (a solar eclipse) and standing together before the Bishop in human form.
- Sophie in Howl's Moving Castle, cursed to be an old woman and be unable to tell anyone her plight. It appears that her remembering that she is cursed is a key in the curse maintaining its effects. That, or her self-esteem issues. Whenever she appears more confident, she grows younger. When she goes back to being shy, she ages up. The book the film is adapted from features the same curse, which Howl attempts to secretly break on his own but discovers Sophie is unconsciously retaining on herself. Later, her concern for an injured Howl overcomes her shyness and the curse finally lifts.
- In the Stephen King movie Thinner, a man is getting a blowjob from his wife while driving. He hits and kills a young Gypsy woman. When he avoids justice by using his connections in a Screw the Rules, I Have Money! way, the woman's father gives the protagonist a Gypsy Curse.
- The entire plot of Ella Enchanted is driven by a curse placed on Ella as a child that makes her unable to ignore orders. Usually she gets around it by finding loopholes in the orders she's given, but this becomes hazardous when Prince Charmont falls in love with her and they begin to become entangled. Ella is rightfully concerned that because of her condition, she could be ordered into hurting him (and Sir Edgar does exactly this in an attempt to off Char and grab the kingdom for himself). The curse is resolved after she sees her image in a mirror and orders herself to no longer be obedient.
- The Beast of "Beauty and the Beast" was cursed to be a beast until a woman honestly loved him.
- In "Brother and Sister", the Wicked Stepmother had cursed streams so that her stepchildren would be transformed to beasts if they drank from it. Her stepson succumbed and became a deer, turning back only when she died.
- In all variants of "The Kind and Unkind Girls", the unkind girl behaves badly toward a stranger or employer and is cursed. Some include "Diamonds and Toads", "The Enchanted Wreath", "The Two Caskets", "The Two Cakes", "The Three Little Men In The Wood", and "The Three Heads In the Well".
- In "East of the Sun, West of the Moon", the hero was cursed into a white bear by day by his Wicked Stepmother. When the heroine looks at him by night, that means to break it was gone; she succeeds only after a long Quest.
- In "The Singing, Springing Lark", the hero is cursed into the form of a lion by day, and if he ever lets sunlight fall on him, he will be transformed again, into a dove, and have to wander for seven years.
- "The Frog King" was cursed into that shape. As were the heroes of "The Queen Who Sought a Drink From A Certain Well" and "The Well of the World's End".
- In "Snow-White and Rose-Red", the bear is a cursed prince.
- In "Sleeping Beauty", the princess is cursed to die from pricking her finger on a spindle before her 16th birthday. Another fairy manages to modify this to make her sleep a century.
- In "Snow White Fire Red",
- an ogress curses the hero to be unable to marry anyone but the heroine.
- another ogress curses the hero to forget the heroine as soon as his mother kisses him.
- In "The Dove", any kiss whatever makes him forget the heroine.
- In "The Six Swans", the princes are cursed by their Wicked Stepmother.
- In Hans Christian Andersen's "The Wild Swans", having cursed the princes into swans, the queen tries to make the princess ugly and stupid:
She took three toads with her, and kissed them, and said to one, "When Eliza comes to the bath, seat yourself upon her head, that she may become as stupid as you are." Then she said to another, "Place yourself on her forehead, that she may become as ugly as you are, and that her father may not know her." "Rest on her heart," she whispered to the third, "then she will have evil inclinations, and suffer in consequence." So she put the toads into the clear water, and they turned green immediately. She next called Eliza, and helped her to undress and get into the bath. As Eliza dipped her head under the water, one of the toads sat on her hair, a second on her forehead, and a third on her breast, but she did not seem to notice them, and when she rose out of the water, there were three red poppies floating upon it. Had not the creatures been venomous or been kissed by the witch, they would have been changed into red roses. At all events they became flowers, because they had rested on Eliza's head, and on her heart. She was too good and too innocent for witchcraft to have any power over her.
- In "The False Prince and the True", the old woman proves to be under a curse. She is actually younger than the young prince who married her.
- In The Love of Three Oranges, many variants have the prince cursed to marry no one but the woman from the oranges.
- In "King Oddur", a curse forces an elvish royal to live as an exile in the human world.
- In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, curses are various forms of nasty magic. Particularly dreadful is the "death curse," a wizard's last spell, Cast from Hit Points. Examples include:
- Harry is under a death curse to die alone.
- In Blood Rites, it's revealed that Harry's mother's death curse, against a vampire who could not be magically injured, managed to cut that vampire off from all sources of power.
- There's also the entropy curse, a magical working that causes luck to turn hideously against the target. Harry has seen entropy curses that are well put-together (causing falling masonry and snapped power lines to fall on the target) and... not so much (resulting in a target being hit by a car... while water-skiing, or crushed by a frozen turkey falling from an airplane).
- The bloodline curse in Changes, which is meant to kill everyone related to the target of the curse, no matter how distant the connection. Originally intended for Harry's daughter so that he'll die by proxy, he turns it on the entire Red Court, wiping out one of the major players in the supernatural world in one fell swoop.
- Fool Moon has the curse on Harley MacFinn's family line, which caused him to turn into a rampaging super-werewolf during the full moon. Said curse was supposedly laid by St. Patrick, though the source of that information (a demon) is questionable.
- In Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana, the entire country of Tigana and all its inhabitants are cursed.
- Patricia A. McKillip:
- Xanth. Many. Cursefiends have this as their power, and the Furies use it on anyone who is not (in their eyes) a dutiful enough child. Which means everyone.
- In Andre Norton's Witch World, That Which Runs The Ridges turns out to be under a curse.
- Harry Potter, a "curse" appears to include any spell with a malevolent effect, particularly charms.
- The Unforgivable Curses: the Cruciatus Curse (Crucio), used for torture; the Imperius Curse (Imperio) used for Mind Control, and the Killing Curse (Avada Kedavra), which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Unicorn blood will save you from dying "even if you are an inch from death", but you will live a "half life" from the moment you drink it.
- If a person continues to divide their soul, they lose their humanity and their very nose, and eventually suffer a Fate Worse Than Death.
- There are also curses that work in more traditional ways, e.g., jinxing the Defense Against The Dark Arts teaching position so that anyone who takes the job will never last longer than a year.
- Teresa Edgerton's second Celydonn trilogy revolves about the curse on a land, and breaking it.
- Lois Mcmaster Bujold's Curse of Chalion is a curse of corrupted virtues and ill luck on the country's ruling line.
- In Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy note , Arha curses another priestess. Unusually, there is no reason to believe that the curse has any actual effect.
- Hero Series: In Heroes Adrift, the troupe Lee and Taro travel with is cursed to not be able to stay in one place for more than a few nights. If they do, someone dies.
- In Terry Pratchett's Equal Rites, Granny Weatherwax assures Esk that she will curse under the right conditions, such as when people ain't showing respect. Often "curse" means that you tell someone you've cursed them and the next time something bad happens to them, they think "That was because I didn't show respect to the witch." Granny Weatherwax has been known to actually curse people, just in less traditional ways. For example, instead of turning someone into a frog just making them think that they are a frog. Much easier and more fun too.
- Later witches novels more or less follow the line that cursing works, but not unless they know you've done it. Unlucky Charlie, the target for the cursing at the Witch Trials cannot be aware you've done it because he's a scarecrow, so points are given for general inventiveness. Except for the year when Granny Weatherwax made his head explode.
- In Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell the Gentleman does this Jonathan Strange, cursing him to eternal darkness. As it turns out, because of the imprecision of the spell the darkness entraps any English magician who comes into contact with it, starting with Mr. Norrell. The Raven King also cursed a few places during his reign, mostly over matters of civil unrest or rebellion.
- In Patricia C. Wrede's Thirteenth Child, Uncle Earn accuses Eff of casting a curse when she is five — too young to cast magic. Later, William asks Eff if her nervousness springs from being under a curse.
- David Eddings's The Elenium has an unusual variant of a benevolent curse. A god wants to hide his followers from obliteration and simultaneously give them magical powers to defend themselves. A blessing won't do, because blessings "ring in the air" and are easily detectable by magical means. So the god uses curse with exact same effects instead. It is notable that, while benevolent, it's still a curse; the god can't bring himself to curse his beloved followers directly and curses their drinking water instead.
- In Thinner, by Stephen King, the protagonist is put under a curse that causes him to waste away. (His judge and lawyer are cursed with hideous acne and skin cancer that will eventually kill them too.) His response is to track down the gypsy and curse him—by taking out a contract with a hit man to kill his family.
- The entire plot of Ella Enchanted is driven by a curse placed on Ella as a child that makes her unable to ignore orders. Usually she gets around it by finding loopholes in the orders she's given, but this becomes hazardous when Prince Charmont falls in love with her and they begin to become entangled. Ella is rightfully concerned that because of her condition, she could be ordered into hurting him. The curse is resolved when Ella tries so hard to refuse Char's order to marry him that her love for him overcomes the curse.
- Conan The Barbarian: In "A Witch Shall Be Born", as a result of a Deal with the Devil a witch is born to the royal family every century.
The curse of the kings of Khauran! Aye, they tell the tale in the market-places, with wagging beards and rolling eyes, the pious fools! They tell how the first queen of our line had traffic with a fiend of darkness and bore him a daughter who lives in foul legendry to this day. And thereafter in each century a girl baby was born into the Askhaurian dynasty, with a scarlet half-moon between her breasts, that signified her destiny.
"Every century a witch shall be born." So ran the ancient curse. And so it has come to pass. Some were slain at birth, as they sought to slay me. Some walked the earth as witches, proud daughters of Khauran, with the moon of hell burning upon their ivory bosoms.
- In George Eliot's Silly Novels By Lady Novelists, she recounts how one such novel, when the mother, on evidence insufficient to hang a dog, concludes that her son had proposed to the women she wanted him to marry after all, and then finds out that he didn't, she starts to curse her son. A perfectly mundane novel, for all the Melodrama. Perhaps it's just as well that her son's true love interrupts her to say that she refuses to marry the son without his mother's blessing.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero In Hel, Mephisto's folly is caused by amnesia, which he inflicted on himself to escape a curse.
- In the Avatar Trilogy we are introduced to Kelemvor Lyonsbane, last scion of a family of cursed mercenaries. The curse began when his ancestor betrayed a powerful sorceress and was cursed to never again act purely for profit, or transform into a murderous panther. However, with the birth of his son, the curse reacted to the boys innocence and reversed itself. From then on, Lyonsanes could ONLY act on anothers behalf out of thoughts of profit.
- In The Shahnameh, the one who kills Esfandiyār is cursed to die and suffer in this life and the next. Fortunately for Rostem, it can see through Uriah Gambits.
- In Tanith Lee's The Dragon Hoard, the events begin with Prince Jasleth and Princess Goodness being cursed by a witch who was upset about not being invited to their birthday party.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men, one dying man curses the man who betrayed him.
- In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, why Cedar is a werewolf.
- Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series starts with Allie breaking a curse on a boy.
- Alison Sinclair has a trilogy of novels set in a country under an eight centuries old curse laid by a psychotic mage in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge over the death of her daughter, the country is now divided into the Darkborn who are incinerated by daylight, and the Lightborn, who melt away in the dark and rely entirely on magical lights to sustain them through the night.
- In Wen Spencer's Tinker, Tinker knows that although elves can turn you into a frog, they can't cause a curse — a plague of bad fortune. She just feels like she was hit by one.
- Subverted in Inkheart, where Dustfinger pretends to place a curse on Basta in order to frighten him, as Basta was threatening Meggie with a knife.
- Grettir of the Old Icelandic Saga Of Grettir The Strong is cursed by a revenant to always have bad luck, to never marry and to be in fear of the dark for the rest of his life. All of the curse comes true.
- In E. D. Baker's The Wide Awake Princess, an old woman asks Annie for food — and then throws it away, contemptuously. She's cursed with toads and snakes falling from her mouth.
- In Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, Hugi recounts how Mother Gerd had cursed a peasant's field — and only killed the thistles.
- In the Child Ballad Willies Lady, Willie's mother, a rank witch, cursed his wife to die in childbirth.
Live Action TV
- One episode of Middle Man had a survivor of the Titanic cursed with immortality so long as his tuba remain intact for his heinous crime: pretending the tuba was his child and thus stealing the seats of a woman and her child. The tuba itself is an Artifact of Death capable of killing anyone who hears it's E Flat note by filling their lungs with the icy waters of the North Atlantic. After a decades he comes to consider himself Cursed with Awesome though.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel has Angel, a vampire cursed with a soul. If he ever has a moment of perfect happiness (such as having sex with Buffy), the curse is broken, he loses his soul, and he reverts to being Angelus, the vampire that he was before getting cursed.
- Merlin episode The Lady of the Lake. Freya was a Druid girl cursed to turn into a winged werepanther at the stroke of midnight.
- Alestorm's "Captain Morgan's Revenge" has its title character pronouncing a dying curse upon the mutinous crew who have made him Walk the Plank:
And as he fell down to the depths, he swore a deadly curse:
"As sure as Hell's my final fate, you'll all soon die or worse!"
Now as we stand before the gallows waiting for the end,
I'll say these final words, my friend...
- Classical Mythology:
- Oedipus, maltreated by his sons, cursed them to kill each other. Leading to the events of Seven Against Thebes.
- Theseus, believing what his wife Phaedra had claimed about his son Hippolytus, cursed him, resulting in Hippolytus's death.
- After Hecuba avenged the murder of her son by killing Polymestor's sons in front of him and then blinding him, Polymestor himself curses Hecuba - or maybe simply foresees her doom — to go insane and drown herself.
- Laios, King of Thebes, for some reason tries to kidnap Pelops' son. Pelops curses him, saying, "May your own son kill you, Theban!" Laios' son is Oedipus; the outcome is well-known.
- Pelops' other sons are Atreus and Thyestes. Atreus catches Thyestes in bed with his (Atreus') wife. Atreus butchers Thyestes' children and serves them up to their father at a banquet. Thyestes curses Atreus' line. Thyestes' curse is fulfilled by Helen, wife of Atreus' son Menelaos, who runs off with Paris of Troy, and by Clytemnestra, wife of Atreus' other son Agamemnon, who consorts with a son of Thyestes and murders her husband.
Athletes and sports fans are often a superstious bunch, so if there's a long drought of success or a string of near-misses (especially those under odd circumstances), sports curses often come about. Here's some notable ones:
- The Detroit Lions and the Curse of Bobby Layne. Layne was a quarterback who spent 8 seasons with the Lions in the 1950's, leading them to several NFL championships in that time. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958, to which supposedly he responded by saying the Lions would not win for 50 years*. In the 50 years since:
- Not only did the Lions not win another NFL championship or Super Bowl (the only other team to go that long without one is the Cleveland Browns), they had the worst winning percentage of all teams. The Lions remain the NFL team with the longest championship drought.
- They had a total of ten postseason appearences, of which they won one playoff game (1991 against the Dallas Cowboys).
- The losing was so bad that Barry Sanders, who played for the team in the 90's and during which the Lions had five of the said ten playoff appearences, retired while in peak physical form because he couldn't stand the losing culture and front office mismanagement.
- To cap it all off, in 2008 (the 50th year of the curse) the Lions became the only team in NFL history to lose every game in a 16-game season*.
- The Boston Red Sox and the Curse of the Bambino. The Red Sox sold former player and baseball legend Babe Ruth to the now-hated rival New York Yankees in 1920. Prior to this, the Red Sox had a great deal of success, winning the World Series in 1915, 1916, and 1918; the Yankees, meanwhile, had been terrible since their inception. From 1923 through 2000, the Yankees won twenty-six World Series championships (at least one in every decade except the 1980's) and the Red Sox won zero. The curse finally ended in 2004, when the Red Sox won the World Series in a four-game sweep against the St. Louis Cardinals after coming back from a 3-0 series deficit in the ALCS against the Yankees, the only time such a comeback has ever happened in baseball. Highlights in between:
- The 1978 season. On July 18th, the Red Sox had a seemingly-insurmountable 14 game lead in the AL East before the Yankees got hot and managed to tie Boston in the standings on September 10th after a four-game sweep at Fenway Park, which fans took to calling the "Boston Massacre". The two teams ended the season tied atop the AL East, so a one-game playoff at Fenway was needed to decide who would play for the AL Pennant against Kansas City. Boston had a 3-1 lead in the top of the 7th before light-hitting Bucky Dent (who managed a total of 40 home runs in an 11-year career) got a 3-run homer over the Green Monster. The Yankees won 5-4 and went on to win the World Series.
- The curse gained media prominence in the 1986 World Series, where the Red Sox had a 3-2 series lead against the New York Mets going into Game 6 and getting a 5-3 lead with 2 outs in the bottom of the 10th inning before losing that game (capped off by an error by first baseman Bill Buckner that let the winning run in) and Game 7. This led to George Vecsey's articles that posited the existence of the curse in national media.
- It got played again in 2003, when the Red Sox and Yankees met in the ALCS - Game 7 was at Yankee Stadium, where the Red Sox held a 5-2 lead with one out in the 8th inning before the Yankees tied it and eventually forced extra innings, where a pinch-hitting journeyman Aaron Boone hit a walkoff homer in the 11th. Comparisons to Dent's homer in 1978 were widespread. The Red Sox would get their revenge the next year.
- The Chicago Cubs and the Curse of the Billy Goat. As the story goes, during Game 4 of the 1945 World Series a bar owner named Billy Sianis brought his pet goat to the game at Wrigley Field (even purchasing a separate ticket), but was kicked out because the goat's odor was bothering others. Sianis was infuriated and declared, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more."* The Cubs lost that game, lost the series, and have not played a World Series game since, the longest pennant drought in baseball. (By extension, the Cubs also hold the record for longest World Series drought - their last World Series win was in 1908.) Highlights since:
- The 1969 season. The Cubs had an 8 1/2-game lead in the NL East in mid-August and still held a 5-game on September 2nd over the second-place New York Mets. The Cubs then collapsed while the Mets went on a tear, ending with the Mets finishing first in the division with an 8-game lead over the Cubs. As if to drive home the point, a black cat had walked by Cubs captain Ron Santo while he was in the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium on September 9th.
- Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS*. The Cubs had a 3-2 series lead on the Florida Marlins and were up 3-0 with 1 out in the top of the 8th inning at Wrigley. Then a high foul ball towards the left field was hit, and a Cubs fan named Steve Bartman (among others) reached for it, knocking the ball into the stands, ruining any chance of making it the second out. The Cubs pleaded for fan interference but didn't get it. The Marlins then scored eight unanswered runs before the inning was over, winning that game as well as Game 7.
- The New York Rangers and the Curse of 1940. The Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1940, which was also the year the mortgage was paid off on Madison Square Garden, their home arena. Management celebrated by burning the mortgage document in the Cup itself - this was said to invoke the curse, and the Rangers did not win the Cup again for 54 years (a Stanley Cup drought record that still stands). "1940" would haunt Rangers fans all those years, especially once fans of the New York Islanders (who won the Cup four straight seasons between 1980 and 1983) and later the New Jersey Devils (whose old home Brendan Byrne* seats 19,040) weaponized it as a taunt of "19-40!". It was finally broken in 1994, capped by winning both Game 6* and Game 7 of the Eastern Confernce Finals against the Devils AND hanging on to win the Cup in seven games against the Vancouver Canucks after taking a 3-1 series lead.
- Game 7 of the Eastern Confernce Finals gets special mention because it seemed like the Curse would not die - the Rangers had a 1-0 lead in the closing seconds before Valeri Zelepukin of the Devils scored the tying goal with 7.7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Then Stephane Matteau scored in double overtime to send the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals.
- It could just be the early 90's in general was when the Curse was vicious - the '91-'92 season saw the Rangers play well, winning the Presidents Trophy (best regular season record) before losing to eventual champ Pittsburgh in the Patrick Division Finals (during which goalie Mike Richter let in a goal from a shot from the blue line). The next season things were looking good, but then defenseman Brian Leetch broke his ankle and the Rangers finished last in the division that year. And how did Leetch break his ankle? He took a taxi to the Garden before a game, stepped out, and slipped on an ice patch in the street.
- Bestow Curse (the reversal of the Remove Curse spell) in Dungeons & Dragons is of the "cloud of misfortune type". The Geas spells force the target to follow a certain course of action.
- Although cursed items can have such fun effects as changing your species, gender, alignment or making your hair grow longer..once
- The Book of Vile Darkness has a nice assortment of alternate Curse effects, including sterility, blindness and deafness, the next person the target is introduced to will hate the target uncontrollably forever, critical successes become critical failures, all creatures of a designated species are permanently invisible to the target, age the target one age category, and cause all the target's wealth to vanish.
- It also has an assortment of Greater Bestow Curse alternate effects, including permanent destruction of one of the target's magic items, give an incurable disease to a friend or family member of the target, the target's touch turns precious metals into lead, the target cannot use spells from any source, and the particularly nasty all the target's friends and family suddenly hate him/her.
- The Book of Erotic Fantasy obviously adds STDs and impotence to the possible effects of a curse.
- GURPS: Magic has Curse which prevents the victim from having any meaningful success. Thaumatology has Doom, for days worse and worse things happen to the target until something really horrible finally strikes.
- Changeling The Lost includes both Contracts that count as curses (impairing performance, affecting one's behavior, etc.) and the ability to write an one-sided pledge that will greatly muck up a person's day until conditions are met.
- Geist: The Sin-Eaters features a Manifestation known as "The Curse" that results in different afflictions depending on what Key the Sin-Eater uses to power it. For instance, the afflicted may be the center of a contagious Hate Plague (or other suitable emotion) (Passion), have every mechanical object he tries to handle explode in his hands (Industrial), have nature turn against him (Primeval), become burdened by some unknown weight and unable to sleep (Grave-Dirt), or unable to communicate with anyone (Stillness).
- Vampire The Masquerade: Once upon a time, Caine saw that his brother Abel had produced a better sacrifice, and murdered him. God cursed him from this crime, and this is why we have vampires.
- Mage The Awakening: Curses are in the purview of Fate arcana. It's hard to make a curse that is lasting, unless you clearly state to the victim the means to foil it.
- The Pokémon series has a move called "Curse". When a ghost-type pokemon uses it, it sacrifices half the user's maximum HP and saps 1/4th of the opponent's HP every turn afterwards. If a non-ghost type pokemon uses it, the move just cuts the user's Speed stat to raise their Attack and Defense.
- It is also a legend that Ninetales will put an 1000-year curse on anyone foolish enough to touch one of its tails.
- This was a plot point in Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon and the comic of it. The main character believes that he's cursed to be a Pokemon because in a past life he grabbed a Ninetales' tail and let his friend Gardevoir take the curse in his place (as a legend has it). It turns out that Gengar was the human who left Gardevoir to take the heat.
- The characters Salabesh the Onyx and Jumble Murdersense in Planescape: Torment: the former overheard someone defining him as a kind person, and cursed him to defecate from his mouth and speak through his anus; even the (usually unfazed) main character reacts to that with a Big "WHAT?!".The latter cursed Reekwind to a life of uncontrollable flatulence and B.O., and will curse the Nameless One with hiccups should he speak to him.You can then give him a taste of his own medicine by learning and using one that silences him, preventing him from countering with one of his own.
- Some have pointed out an interesting pattern with the game Eversion. Blind Lets Plays of this game seem to botch the recording on world five, forcing the letsplayer to redo it while not blind to that stage anymore. Every. Single. Time. The game may actually be cursed.
- Anyone who enters the Dark World in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is transformed into a form reminiscent of what's inside their heart. Which doesn't explain why Link turns into a bunny. The seven maidens sent into the Dark World to break the seal on it are cursed to turn into crystals. Carrying a special pearl allows Link to ward off the curse.
- In the Nintendo Power comic version, people who enter the Dark Realm change into monsters when they lose control of their emotions, and those who can't control them turn into monsters permanently. Link eventually gets his under control and it stops affecting him, but he meets an archer named Roam who eventually succumbs.
- A tiny demon curses Link to only use half of his magic power per spell. In other words, the demon's "curse" turns out to be extremely beneficial.
- Ezlo, in The Legend Of Zelda The Minish Cap, was turned into a hat by his former apprentice Vaati.
- In The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess, being in the realm of Twilight turns him into a wolf. Later, he is cursed to turn into a wolf by Zant, even when in the World of Light.
- Zant is fond of curses. Midna herself used to be a Twili, but was cursed into the form of an imp by Zant.
- He was also cursed to become a Deku Scrub by Skull Kid in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
- If he touches a Blue Bubble in Majora's Mask, he is "jinxed" to be unable to draw his sword for a period of time.
- Which is a Shout Out to the red/blue bubbles from the original The Legend Of Zelda's Second Quest, where touching a red one disabled Link's sword until the player located and touched a blue one.
- Another NPC, Kafei, gets turned into a child by Skull Kid, right before he's about to marry his fiance Anju. Link has to go through a subquest to get them back together. The end of the game never shows if he broke the curse, but he's never shown during his wedding and the point of view is much higher than that of a child. In the manga retelling, the Kafei subplot is revealed to be a Karmic Transformation brought on by Kafei picking fun of Skull Kid's age...hence Skull Kid turning him into a kid as well.
- The Nintendo Adventure Book The Crystal Trap features Ganon cursing all three pieces of Triforce to turn to crystal. Since the Triforce of Courage is in Link's heart, this meant he is trapped in crystal as well. Guided by the reader's choices, Zelda has 24 hours to find the three ingredients required to shatter the crystal before the spell becomes permanent.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the Bigger Bad Demise forever dooms Link's and Zelda's reincarnations to face an everlasting cycle of his hatred taking form and wreaking havoc on the world, essentially causing every other game in the series to happen.
- In Monster Girl Quest, if the Elf Queen beats the protagonist, she curses him with infertility before abandoning him in the wilds.Since all monsters want from humans is to mate with them, he'll basically get captured and tossed away until he starves.
- The Curse Of The Meldrews in the Interactive Fiction game Curses (appropriate, no?). Not so much subverted as trivialized, since the Curse involves never quite being able to finish anything.
- The Curse of Monkey Island revolves around Guybrush trying to save Elaine from a cursed ring that transformed her into a gold statue.
- Not surprisingly, this shows up in Final Fantasy a few times.
- The recurring spell "Curse" appears in multiple games. Effects across the games include reduced stats, preventing limit break use, stopping job changes in battle, inflicting a variety of other status ailments, stopping the DMW wheel, or reducing the amount of successful interrupts by a character while increasing the number of successful interrupts by an enemy.
- Another recurring spell, "Doom", starts a timer that kills the afflicted character when the timer runs out. In Final Fantasy VIII, the Curse spell actually inflicts Doom, though the Curse status ailment is a separate entity.
- In Final Fantasy I, the prince of the elves was cursed by the dark elf Astos with eternal sleep. Only an herb from the witch Matoya can wake him. Unfortunately, she's blind and needs a special eye to see...and Astos stole it from her.
- In Final Fantasy III, Djinn curses the kingdom of Sasune and turns everyone in the kingdom of Sasune to ghosts. Two future party members, Ingus and Refia, missed getting cursed because neither was around when the curse hit. The only way to lift the curse is with Princess Sara's Mythril Ring, which needs to seal the Djinn inside and then be purified.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, the character Reis was cursed into the form of a dragon when she took on a curse intended for her lover, Beowulf. Because The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, she also appears to have no memory of her life as a human either, though the dragon Reis still joins the party when Beowulf rescues her. He eventually changes her back when the party recovers the Cancer Zodiac Stone and she joins the party as a "Dragonkin" (Dragoner in the PS1 version) with all her dragon skills.
- In Final Fantasy IX, Cid's wife Hilda turns him into an Oglop as punishment for cheating on her and runs off in the only non-Mist powered airship in the world. This turns out to be supremely bad timing since Kuja has just manipulated Alexandria into attacking Lindblum. He later tries to undo it but ends up turning into a frog instead. Eventually they have to track his wife down and convince her to undo her curse. Wouldn't you know it, Kuja also kidnapped her since he needed her ship. When she's finally rescued, she changes Cid back, but threatens to curse him again if he ever acts unfaithfully again.
- Kings Quest II Romancing The Stones: In the AGD Fan Remake, The Father is exposed and defeated, but pulls a One-Winged Angel and puts a parting shot on Graham, a Retcon explaining some events of the other games:
The Father: Thrice now I curse, and from the first, your family shall feel the worse. Soon shall you see, they'll surely be, in the most dire jeopardy.
(Referencing Alexander's enslavement and Rosella's nearly becoming a Human Sacrifice
to a dragon in game 3) Then, as your foe, 'tis I who'll sew, the spell to cause heart to slow.
(Referencing Graham's heart attack in the 4th game) And for my shame, for you the same, o'er Daventry your heirs shan't rein!
(Referencing the 6th and 7th games, but invoking a Fanon
theory on the latter)
- The premise of Dragon Quest VIII is that everyone in the kingdom of Trodain except the main character has been cursed by the villainous Dhoulmagus. King Trode is now a little troll-like creature, Princess Medea is a horse, and everyone else is a statue. The main character escaped the curse because a memory wiping curse that was cast on him when he was younger had the beneficial side effect of rendering him immune to other curses.
- You must fight two curses in The Game Of The Ages. One on your own town, one on a race you visit.
- In Beyond The Beyond, super-strong knight Samson faces off against the sorceress Ramue (one half of the Big Bad Duumvirate) early on in the game. She throws a dark magic-infused scarf at him, which he dodges at first, but ultimately wraps around him and saddles him with a curse so powerful that ordinary priests can't remove it. The curse sticks with Samson until the party ascends to Heaven and personally asks Arawn (the God of this setting) to have it lifted.
- Warlocks from World of Warcraft have a variety of curses they can inflict on a mob or character including the Curses of Agony, Doom, Elements, Exhaustion, Recklessness, Tongues, and Weakness.
- Goblin Hollow: The Quest against the curse.
- In Sluggy Freelance Zoe considers the necklace tattoo that gives her Involuntary Shapeshifting powers to be a curse. It wasn't designed to be that way; for the original wearer, it was a precious gift that allowed her to sneak around with her true love without her father knowing the truth. Obviously, the original wearer didn't have best friends who think turning you into a camel is funny.
- The Dreamland Chronicles: Nicodemus's excuse for not giving back the amulet is to test for this.
- El Goonish Shive: The Dewitchery Diamond was made specifically to remove curses that affect one's body, and works by creating a permanent clone of anyone who touches it, AND transfer the curse to it. The original will be able to reassume the cursed form at will (as well as any other forms he was forced into for the next few hours), while the clone can spread the curse to others. What constitutes a curse can vary, and the Diamond will work it's effect on anyone who touches it while not in their original form.
- Roza's motive for everything is to break the curse on her.
- In American Barbarian, Rick threatens a dying curse
- In No Rest for the Wicked, the beggar woman laid a curse on her for not giving her bread the third time.
- In Our Little Adventure, Lenny is a little worried that Emily will curse his armor
- In Sinfest, Lil' E hexes Slick.
- In Erstwhile, the Wicked Stepmother, being also a Wicked Witch, [[www.erstwhiletales.com/brothersister-21/ cursed the springs to transform her runaway stepchildren.]]
- In Dragon Mango, the stone is cursed not to let the sword be pulled out.
- Techwolf of the Whateley Universe looks like a seven foot werewolf, as does his father, all because of a witch's curse on an ancestor.
- The WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw had a short run of a curse, The Curse Of The Undertaker. In one storyline, Eddie Guerrero was involved in a storyline with Taker that ended in him buried alive. The next year... well, Eddie died. A game later, Undertaker said "Your grieving family will have no one but you to blame." Nothing too big, but he said it to Chris Benoit, who killed himself and his family the next year. A year after that, Randy Orton was injured after an in game feud with Taker.
- King Tut's tomb was opened in 1922. It's been long stated that a curse on the tomb killed everyone involved, though such stories are rather exaggerated and often flat out untrue. Well — everyone involved died. Eventually.
- Older than Dirt: Mesopotamian kings inscribed very elaborate curses on their stelae, threatening the hatred of the gods and long lists of nasty misfortunes upon any future king who overturned their decrees.
- Some Ancient Egyptian tombs threaten curses of misfortune and divine retribution upon would-be desecrators.
- William Shakespeare wrote a "do not disturb" curse which is inscribed over his grave at Westminster Abbey:
Blest be he who spares these stones / and curst be he who moves my bones.
- Most societies, particularly animist ones, believe in curses of various sorts. For instance, throughout the Middle East, you'll find women wearing or carrying blue eyeball charms to protect against the evil eye.
- No French rider has won Tour De France since 1985 *. No French rider has been in top 3 since 1997*.
- No French rider has won Paris-Roubaix (biggest one day race in France, one of the five monuments) is Guesdon won it in 1997.
- The "Andretti Curse" is the affliction of bad luck to the Andretti dynasty in the Indianapolis 500 since Mario Andretti won the race in 1969. Despite there being five Andretti's (Mario, Michael, Jeff, John and Marco) to have raced at Indy since then as of 2013 none have won another 500 as a driver (Michael Andretti won in 2005 and 2007 as an car owner). Some of the most notable examples of "Andretti luck" include Mario Andretti's finishing second after Bobby Unser was disqualified and then-reinstated as winner in 1981, finishing second behind Danny Sullivan (who spun his car but saved it earlier in the race), his engine blowing in 1987 after leading most of the race. Michael Andretti led most of the 1992 race but his engine failed ten laps from the finish. Marco Andretti was passed by Sam Hornish on the run to the finish line in 2006.