Upon all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of Doom, and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair. Wherever they go, evil shall arise. Whenever they speak, their words shall bring ill counsel. Whatsoever they do shall turn against them. They shall die without hope, cursing both life and death.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 and Language 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:
— Morgoth, The Children of Húrin
- Bad luck, sometimes in the form of an actual "cloud" of misfortune following them.
- A physical defect like BO, Involuntary Shapeshifting (and/or Baleful Polymorph), ugliness or clumsiness.
- A Wound That Will Not Heal. (A milder form is a scar immune to Healing Hands or other healing magic.)
- To die in some circumstance, or have a specific accident/event happen. This may overlap with prophecy, if the curse is merely a cruel but accurate divination.
- To become The Punishment; an inhuman monster wracked with suffering who extends that suffering to anyone they can.
- The curse may Include a Tongue-Tied clause that prevents the cursed character from saying they're cursed to make it more difficult to remove.
- If you're a sports fan it means your sports team is forever doomed to not win a championship.
- 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.
- Killing the curser or otherwise getting them 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.
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Anime & Manga
- Ranma ˝:
- Ranma Saotome 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 Happōsai 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. Arguably, just living in Midland itself qualifies as a living curse.
- Hayate the Combat Butler: Athena, Mikado and Himegami 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. It almost, almost fails since the Tunnel not only gets bigger but brings other horrible effects to Miroku's body, but when Inuyasha and Kagome manage to definitely defeat Naraku, the Tunnel disappears and he's saved. The children that he and Sango have some time later are completely free of any effects.
- 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.
- Discussed several times in Detective Conan. Since it's set in a country with a rich mythology but the series itself is practically devoid of any actual magic, whenever a supposed "curse" takes place and causes deaths as a result, it's always a murder commited by a Genre Savvy human who takes advantage of said mythology to stage said kills.
- Fairy Tail: The basis of Zeref's and Mavis's death magic is the result of a curse by the god of life and death, Ankhseram. Also known as the curse of contradictions, as long as the recipient values life, everything around them dies. Discarding the value of life allows them to control the magic, however, because they place no value in life, they're probably going to kill people anyway. Other symptoms of the curse include constantly contradicting one's thoughts, causing abrupt mood swings, and Complete Immortality. What it boils down to is that the cursed is never allowed to be happy. When Zeref and Mavis fell in love with each other, Zeref found reason to live again despite already discarding the value of life, and found happiness because of the curse. This was the ultimate contradiction, and empowered his curse enough to bypass the immortality granted by her curse and kill her.
- In Castle Waiting, indirectly, the curse on Sleeping Beauty cause their problem: once it was broken, she left at once, and now the castle is waiting for royalty to return.
- 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 Prince" 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 "The Story of King Odd", a curse forces an elvish royal to live as an exile in the human world.
- Occurs in The Lion King Adventures story The Curse of Death. The Hermit of Hekima places a curse on Simba, where he will die in three days if he doesn't change his neglectful ways.
- With Strings Attached: 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. Although in reality, 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. After he's accidentally killed when Paul explodes, he runs off (with a very annoyed Grunnel in tow to keep him from disappearing) to surprise Brox at the Wizards University. It Makes Sense in Context.
- 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.
- God Slaying Blade Works has Shirou inherit "Curses Without End" as his first Authority on slaying Angra Mainyu. With it he can generate curses of varying types, from misfortune to death, and even create monsters from curses. He also discovers that infusing a curse into a sword allows it to act as a conduit for that curse, allowing him to partially bypass an enemy's magic resistance.
- The Writing On The Wall has Daring Do dismiss the eponymous writing as a curse meant to scare away tomb robbers from the ancient building. It is an entirely reasonable conclusion for an Adventurer Archaeologist to make, but unfortunately she is being Wrong Genre Savvy - the curse is a genuine warning of the danger of what the building was meant to contain: nuclear waste.
Films — Animation
- 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.
- Brave: Merida accidentally unleashes a bear-y beastly curse, by turning her mother and brothers into black bears. She learns from the Witch, that she must "mend the bond, torn by pride," before the second sunrise. It didn't simply have to be mending a family tapestry, as Merida thought, just The Power of Love in order to undo the curse.
- Frozen: Anna is cursed (accidentally) by Elsa, while revealing to her sister a different curse (the Endless Winter) she'd brought about, by having a piece of ice put into her heart, which will slowly and painfully freeze her into an ice statue from the inside out. In both cases, it's The Power of Love that undoes the curse, but in Anna's case, it does not come from True Love's Kiss, but from defending her sister from an evil prince.
Films — Live-Action
- 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.
- 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.
- In Dragon Bones, the Hurog family has a family curse. Or two, depending on how you look at it. The local Friendly Ghost and magically bound slave Oreg cursed house Hurog because an ancestor of the protagonist had killed a dragon. However, the black magic that turned Oreg into the Genius Loci of castle Hurog wasn't healthy for the place either. The inhabitants tend to have short lifespans or go crazy, or both, something which is not referenced in the curse. (It's unclear whether it is even a curse, or rather a prophecy.)
- 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. Since he lives in the populous city of Chicago, this curse might have inadvertently made Harry very hard to kill.
- In Blood Rites, it's revealed that Harry's mother's could not directly curse her killer, a powerful vampire, so she instead cursed him so he could not feed.
- 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 — and conveniently his grandfather Ebenezar McCoy a.k.a. the Blackstaff as well — would 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.
- The plot of Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion is driven by a curse of corrupted virtues and ill luck on the country's ruling line.
- In Ursula K. Le Guin's The Tombs of Atuan, 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. It's 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 & Mr Norrell the Gentleman does this to Jonathan Strange, cursing him to 'Darkness, misery, and Solitude'. In practice this means he is surrounded by eternal night, everyone flees the eternal night in terror, and he deliberately and literally drives himself mad in a quest to free his wife.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.
- Patricia C. Wrede's "The Sixty-Two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd" features a variety of imaginative examples.
- David Eddings' 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 a curse with the 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. Then she marries him of her own free will.
- 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 that, in one such novel, when the mother, on evidence insufficient to hang a dog, concludes that her son had proposed to the woman 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 else transform into a murderous panther. However, with the birth of his son, the curse reacted to the boy's innocence and reversed itself. From then on, Lyonsbanes could ONLY act on another's 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.
- The Darkborn Trilogy by Alison Sinclair is 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.
- 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 Willie's Lady, Willie's mother, a rank witch, cursed his wife to die in childbirth.
- In The Caster Chronicles, in Lena's family, Casters are Claimed by Light or Dark on their sixteenth birthdays. They have no choice, unlike most other Casters. This is because Lena's ancestor tried to revive her dead lover.
- Hexes pop all over the place in Fancy Apartments although their little more than annoying in most cases. Rather more serious however, was the death-curse that one character got hit with.
- Curses are a subject of the horror anthology That Hoodoo Voodoo That You Do by Ragnarok Publications. In one story, a faithful Catholic woman curses her priest when she discovers he's been practicing Black Magic. Knowing such rituals have power, especially around him, causes him to freak.
- Egil's Saga: After his final falling out with King Eirik and right before departing from Norway, Egil on the island of Herdla plants a horse's head on a pole, turns it towards Norway and curses the land-spirits of Norway
"so that they may all wander astray, none reaching or finding his home until they drive King Eirik and Queen Gunnhild from the land."
- In Alison Sinclair's Darkborn trilogy, almost a millennia ago the great archmage Imogene cast a powerful curse that affected almost everyone in the world. Half of the population of this human-like race lost their sight and would burn to death in the presence of any light stronger than an open flame. So they were doomed to live only in the dark and became the Darkborn, while the other half of the population lost their ability to do echolocation and would rapidly lose the energy to keep their cells stable and dissolve without sunlight or other strong source of light. These would be the Lightborn.
- From A Song of Ice and Fire we get plenty of cursing and a few actual curses/ spiteful prophesies/ blood magic rituals which may or may not work, depending on the beliefs of the chracter and how much a person or reader buys into the workings of either Self-Fulfilling or Self-Defeating Prophecy — or, the possible magic. One thing most in the Seven Kindoms agree on, though, regardless of their individual levels of belief or scepticism: if Harrenhal is not actually under a known, specifically-worded curse (there are plenty of rumours about vague dying curses, the blood of innocents used in mortar triggering things, parents' invoking curses due to slain children, divine vengeance for the breaking of oathes — the whole enchilada; any or all of it plausible according to various beliefs married to events that have occurred), it's got the next best thing to it clinging to its stones. So much bad stuff has happened in and around it over just its relatively young 300 years, that it gives far more ancient keeps and castles, like even the dead scary Nightfort, a run for their ghost story money. And, usually beats them.
- One episode of The Middleman 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 its 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 incredibly evil 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.
- On Misfits, one of Rudy's many one night stands is upset that he doesn't want to date her and curses him so that his penis starts to rot. Simon has a vision that if he doesn't figure out how to stop the curse, it will fall off. It looks so bad that many people gasp or scream at the sight of it. At the end of the episode, he apologizes to her and she reverses it.
- After Caesar rejects her for political reasons, his mistress Sevillia writes out a formal curse according to Roman custom. It doesn't work, so she conspires to his assassination instead. Later she curses her long-time rival Atia, and this curse appears to be more effective — Atia's son gains all the power she wanted for him, but Atia loses the love of her life Marc Antony.
- After discovering his wife's infidelity, and realizing his children were keeping the secret from him, Vorenus curses them all to damnation. This is Serious Business for a Roman so Vorenus is aghast when he returns to his house and finds them missing. Pullo assures him he can just lift the curse when his children return. They don't, having been abducted and sold into slavery by an enemy of Vorenus while he was absent.
- Charmed: As a series about witchcraft, these pop up semi-frequently. The most notable instance was when Phoebe began receiving Past-Life Memories, coupled with physical manifestations of said past life attacking her. Throughout the episode, she comes to the revelation that her past self was evil, and a curse was put on her soul (by past Prue and past Piper, no less), dooming her (and all reincarnations of her soul) to die at the exact age Phoebe currently is. Through taking control of her past self's body, Phoebe herself is able to counter the curse, dodging her own demise.
- 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...
Myths & Religion
- 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.
- Norse Mythology:
- Andvari's cursed ring Andvarinaut caused the deaths of several people before it eventually lead to the destruction of an entire tribe.
- In Gautrek's Saga, Thor curses Starkad to never have children, to never own land, to be wounded in every battle he fights, to never remember his own poems, and to commit three great crimes in his life.
- The Super Indy Chamionship, a tournament of the International Wrestling Cartel, had a curse on it that a champion would always lose a belt upon entering, primarily the belt of the previous Super Indy Champion. This curse was eventually defeated by RJ City.
- After Mike Quackenbush, Lince Dorado, El Pantera, Equinox and Claudio Castagnoli all defeated Chris Hero with The Chikara Special in the Summer 2007 season, it was rumored that a curse had taken hold of Hero.
- The WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw had a short run of a curse, The Curse of the Undertaker. Eddie Guerrero was involved in a storyline with Taker that ended in him buried alive. Two days before its North American release... well, Eddie died. A game later, Undertaker said "Your grieving family will have no-one but you to blame when the inevitable occurs." 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.
Athletes and sports fans are often a superstitious 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:
Multiple SportsThe city of Philadelphia and the Curse of Billy Penn. Philadelphia's City Hall is topped by a statue of William Penn (the founder of both the city and the entire colony-now-state of Pennsylvania), and for many decades there was a gentleman's agreement in place that didn't allow any building in the city to be higher than it. This agreement was broken in March 1987 by the opening of One Liberty Place three blocks away. Before then, all four of Philadelphia's major sports franchises had seen a good deal of recent success:
- The Phillies had won the World Series in 1980 and had also clinched the NL Pennant in 1983 (if this doesn't seem like a lot, consider that prior to this, the team had been to the World Series only twice in its historynote and they lost both times - 1980 was their first World Series victory ever).
- The 76ers had swept the Los Angeles Lakers to win the 1983 NBA Finals; they also made the Finals in '77, '80, and '82.
- The Eagles reached Super Bowl XV in 1980 before losing to the Oakland Raiders (a big deal for a team whose last NFL title was in 1960).
- The Flyers had won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and '75, as well as appearing in the Finals in '76, '80, and '85.
- The Phillies lost the 1993 World Series in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays on Joe Carter's three-run walkoff homer.
- The 76ers lost to the Lakers in 2001 in five games (admittedly, they were big underdogs in that series).
- The Eagles probably had the most agonizing time - they lost the NFC Championship Game three years in a row (2002 to the St. Louis Rams, 2003 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004 to the Carolina Panthers) before finally beating the Atlanta Falcons in 2005 and reaching Super Bowl XXXIX...where they lost to the New England Patriots.
- The 2003 and 2004 NFC Championship Game losses came with the Eagles at home - since the NFL started giving playoff home-field advantage to teams with better records, no other team has ever lost back-to-back Conference Championship games where they hosted.
- The Flyers lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Edmonton Oilers just two months after One Liberty Place opened. They also got swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 after cruising through the first three rounds that year. They also made the Conference Finals five times (1989, 1995, 2000, 2004, 2008) before losing - 2000 especially stands out because the Flyers were up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series before dropping Games 5, 6, and 7 to the New Jersey Devils.
- 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 yearsnote . In the 50 years since:
- Not only did the Lions not win or even appear in another NFL championship or Super Bowl (the only other team to go so long without one is the Cleveland Browns), they had the worst winning percentage of all teams.
- They had a total of ten postseason appearances, of which they won one playoff game (1991 against the Dallas Cowboys).
- The losing was so bad that Barry Sanders, probably the best Lion in recent memory, who played for the team in the 90's and during which the Lions had five of the said ten playoff appearances, retired while in peak physical form because he couldn't stand the losing culture and front office mismanagement.
- Insult to injury: the Steelers won Super Bowl XL in 2006, which was held at the Lions' home stadium of Ford Field that year.
- 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 seasonnote .
- The "Madden Curse:" It's said that the athlete who is featured on the cover of the Madden NFL is doomed to misfortune, either a bad season, failing to meet expectations, or even being sidelined due to injury. This, however, is usually dismissed, simply being chalked up to athletes being featured when they're at the top, and having nowhere to go but down.
- The Arizona Cardinals and the Curse of the Pottsville Maroons. The 1925 NFL Championship game saw the Pottsville Maroons (Pottsville is a small coal-mining town in rural Pennsylvania) defeat the Chicago Cardinals 21-7, but the Maroons were stripped of their NFL championship after later playing in a supposedly unauthorized exhibition game in Philadelphia (both sides have disputed evidence on whether the game was sanctioned by the NFL). The Cardinals took credit for the title starting in 1933 under then-new owner Charles Bidwell (the Cardinals' owner in 1925, Chris O'Brien, actually refused to claim the title at the time because he felt his team didn't deserve to take the title from a team that beat them fairly), an act that angered many Pottsville citizens. Legend says that the angered citizens cast a curse on the Cardinals that will deny the franchise a title until the championship is given back to Pottsville and returned to the proper shade of red. The Cardinals won the NFL championship again in 1947, but it remains the last one for the Cardinals' franchise as of 2016 - after the 1947 championship they effectively dropped off the face of the earth as far as success (a total of five postseason appearances and one playoff winnote in sixty years). Things finally started to look up in 2008 with a revived Kurt Warner at the QB helm and an improbable run to Super Bowl XLIII...before losing a tight one to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23 on a last-minute touchdown. Their closest approach since was 2015 (a 49-15 steamrolling at the hands of the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game).
- Given that the impetus began with the Cardinals' claiming of the 1925 championship after they were purchased by Charles Bidwell and the team remains in the hands of his son Bill, some versions of the story direct the curse at the owners rather than the franchise itself.
- The NFL revisited the matter in 1963 but the vote among the owners was 12-2 in favor of continuing to recognize the Cardinals as 1925 champions; the two who voted against were Chicago Bears owner George Halas and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney. The matter was brought up again in 2003, but the owners decided 30-2 against reopening the case; the two who voted in favor of reopening were the Pittsburgh Steelers (again) and the Philadelphia Eagles. That the Steelers were the only team to support the Maroons' case both times lends some credence to the Cardinals' Super Bowl XLIII loss being curse-induced.
- The Cleveland Browns seem to be cursed and it may very well be to the shoddy treatment of Paul Brown - who they were named after. Basically Art Modell fired Brown in 1963 and the last championship for the city of Cleveland in any major sport happened the year afterward. Brown would go on to found the Cincinnati Bengals (whose stadium is named after him) who have been much more successful. When the Browns finally got a halfway decent team in 1995, Art Modell moved them to Baltimore. The Browns were re-founded in 1999 but have not regained from recurring crumminess. Oh and what happened to the Browns/Ravens in Baltimore? Well two Super Bowl titles... God hates Cleveland, apparently...
- The Socceroos (Australia's national soccer team) and their witch doctor curse. For the 1970 World Cup AFC/OFC qualification, Australia travelled to Mozambique to play a two-game aggregate against Rhodesia. According to team captain Johnny Warren's 2002 autobiography, for the deciding game some team members consulted a local witch doctor, who proceeded to bury bones near the goal posts and place a curse on Rhodesia. Australia won 3-1 to proceed to the final round against Israel, but they couldn't come up with the fee the witch doctor requested, so the witch doctor hexed them as well. What followed:
- Australia lost the home-and-home against Israel and the lone AFC/OFC spot to the World Cup.
- Australia did qualify for the 1974 World Cup, but didn't score a goal in three games and finished last in Group 1.
- Australia then failed to qualify for the next seven World Cups despite close calls in several of those qualifying campaigns (especially 1994, 1998, and 2002). The 1998 campaign especially stands out - Australia got to the OFC/AFC playoff against Iran for the final World Cup spot to be decided on a home-and-home playoff. The first game in Tehran ended 1-1, and in the second half of the second game in Melbourne Australia held a 2-0 lead until Iran scored goals in the 71st and 75th minute to earn the draw and qualify for the final spot on away goals.
- How it ended: two years after Warren's autobiography was published, John Safran read about it and travelled to Mozambique and hired a new witch doctor to lift the curse. The next year Australia qualified for the 2006 World Cup after defeating Uruguay in a shootout.
- 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 Andrettis (Mario, Michael, Jeff, John and Marco) to have raced at Indy since then, as of 2014 none have won another 500 as a driver (Michael Andretti won in 2005, 2007, and 2014 as a 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.
- 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 by a combined score of 42-9, 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 2-0 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, while Dent won the nickname Bucky Fucking Dent from Red Sox fans.
- 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, including being known as Aaron Fucking Boone by Red Sox Nation. 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."note The Cubs lost that game, lost the series, and have not played a World Series game since, the longest pennant drought in baseball. (The Cubs also hold the record for longest World Series drought - their last World Series win was in 1908.) Highlights since:
- The 1969 season. This was the first year each league was split into two divisions, and 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 - the next day the Mets took over first place in the division.
- The 1984 NLCS. The Cubs finished first in the NL East for the first time by 6 1/2 games. All that stood in their way was the NL West champ San Diego Padres in a best-of-5 series. The Cubs won the first two games at Wrigley, and fans could smell a return to the World Series. Then the Padres won Games 3 and 4 in San Diego. Then the deciding Game 5 - the Cubs had a 3-0 lead after two innings and still led 3-2 going into the bottom of the 7th. With a runner on second and one out, Tim Flannery of the Padres hit a grounder that went through the legs of Cubs first baseman Leon Durham, allowing San Diego to tie the game.note Then the next batter Tony Gwynn doubles in two more runs to give the Padres a lead which they would not relinquish.
- Game 6 of the 2003 NLCSnote . 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.
- In Japan, The Curse of the Colonel has afflicted the Hanshin Tigers ever since fans threw a statue of Colonel Sanders into the Dotonbori River after the 1985 Japanese Championship Series. It was believed that the Tigers would never win another championship until the statue was recovered, but they've kept losing since it was found in 2009. Some attribute this to the fact that the glasses and left hand are still missing.
- Despite huge national traditions in cycling, no French rider has won Tour de France since Bernard Hinault won in 1985. No French rider was in the top 3 between 1997note and 2014.
- Second curse broken in 2014 by Jean-Christophe Peraud (2nd) and Thibaut Pinot (3rd)
- It's an achievement in the Pro Cycling Manager (officially licensed game of the race, made by a French studio) series to win Le Tour with a French rider in career mode.
- No French rider has won a Grand Tour (Le Tour, Giro d'Italianote and Vuelta a España) since 1995, the year Laurent Jalabert won every available jersey at La Vuelta.
- No French rider has won Paris-Roubaix (biggest one day race in France, one of the five monuments) since Frédéric Guesdon won it in 1997. In fact, no French rider won any monumentnote between Jalabert's Il Lombardia win in 1997 and 2016.
- French monument curse broken as of 2016, where Arnaud Démare; won Milano-San Remo.
- 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 arenanote . 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 Byrnenote seats 19,040) weaponized it as a taunt of "19-40!". It was finally broken in 1994, capped by winning both Game 6note 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 Conference 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 that 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.
- No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, by far the longest such stretch in the Cup's history. This despite several close calls from various Canadian teams during that stretch: the Vancouver Canucks in 1994 and 2011, both times losing in Game 7note ; the Calgary Flames in 2004 (who lost in Game 7); the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 (who lost in Game 7); and the Ottawa Senators in 2007 (who lost in five games). The blame for the curse seems to fall on the Canadiens, though the exact cause varies by source - some say it is retribution for Canadiens fans rioting in Montreal after their team won the Cup in 1993, causing millions of dollars in damages; others say it is for nabbing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Marty McSorley for using a stick that was too curvy in Game 2note because the team asked Montreal Forum employees about whose sticks were illegal.note
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Bestow Curse (the reversal of the Remove Curse spell) is of the "cloud of misfortune type".
- The Geas/Quest spells force the target to follow a certain course of action.
- 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.
- Fourth edition brings us the Warlock class power Warlocks's Curse, which allows you to curse one foe as a minor action, who then takes more damage from any Warlock power you use on them, once per round.
- Ravenloft, in addition to making the normal D&D curse spells harder to get rid of, has "curses of vengeance" which can be invoked by any character on somebody they believe has wronged them (whether or not they've actually wronged them). They can have pretty much any effect the players and/or DM can come up with from merely annoying to deadly. They aren't guaranteed to work, though.
- 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 a 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.
- Vampire: The Requiem: Once upon a time, a Roman legionary stabbed the crucified son of God and was drenched by the spilled divine blood. For his treachery, he was turned into a vampire. At least that's what the Lancea et Sanctum tells everyone.
- Mage: The Awakening: Curses are in the purview of the Fate arcana. It's hard to make a curse that is lasting, unless you clearly state to the victim the means to foil it.
- Mummy: The Curse: See the title. But when it comes to hurling curses, the Arisen have several Utterances that have the "Curse" descriptor — and on top of that, if they're killed (temporarily, that is), they have the option to unleash such curses reflexively on the person who slew them.
- An integral part of the setting and mechanics of Exalted. With their dying breaths, the defeated Primordials enacted the Great Curse upon the victorious Exalted Host. The exact effects of the curse vary by Exalt type, with the effects being more severe the more powerful the type, but generally revolve around With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
- The baronets in Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore.
- Alberich's curse in The Ring of the Nibelung directly results in the deaths of several people and possibly causes Götterdämmerung.
- The Nutcracker: The title character was cursed to be a... well... a nutcracker.
- In The Book of Mormon, Elder Cunningham is reading the part of the Book where the Lord becomes displeased with the Laminites and turns their skin black, and then stops when he realizes that it's probably not the best part to be reading to Africans. The version of the Book that the Africans finally learn from Cunningham is somewhat different, including a story about God punishing Brigham Young for cutting off his daughter's clitoris by changing his nose into one.
- The Pokémon series has a move called "Curse". When a Ghost-type Pokémon uses it, it sacrifices half the user's maximum HP and saps ¼ of the opponent's HP every turn afterwards. If a non-Ghost type Pokémon 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 a 1000-year curse on anyone foolish enough to touch one of its tails.
- This was a plot point in Pokémon: Mystery Dungeon and the comic of it. The main character believes that he's cursed to be a Pokémon 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.
- It is also a legend that Ninetales will put a 1000-year curse on anyone foolish enough to touch one of its tails.
- 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.
- Heroes of the Storm has a map dedicated to this trope: Cursed Hallow. The Raven Lord demands tribute and the team that collects three will earn his favor. He will curse the opposing team reducing their minions to 1 Hit Point and preventing their towers from attacking.
- Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
- As indicated by the title, the game revolves around one. Specifically, the Pirate Master's curse that allows him to take control of his crew and those who use his weapons, which is the reason why Risky is willing to work with Shantae.
- The game also mentions that ancient curses are one of the things you must watch out for when handling relics as poor Barracuda Joe found out when he reads a mummy's curse that petrifies anyone who reads it.
- Curses are a part of the school of Dark Magic in Fire Emblem Awakening. Technically a "curse" is anything that causes a change in the natural order and as Tharja points out, this can cut both ways. At one point she "curses" an illness spreading through the camp to be easily recovered from.
- Fate/stay night introduces three types of magecraft that are deemed curses. These include Rin's Gandr, which decreases the physical health of the victim; Sakura's bounded fields, which act as the basis of her offensive and defensive magecraft; and the geis, which if willingly entered into compels the magus to obey certain conditions or restrictions.
- Angra Mainyu is an existence that consists solely of curses given the physical form of black mud, pouring unendingly from the Holy Grail. Only a few individuals are strong enough to resist the curses; all others are either consumed or warped on touching the black mud.
- Gae Bolg and Gae Buidhe are both cursed spears. Any wound they deliver is cursed to never heal properly so long as the spear exists.
- 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 its 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 the heroine 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, cursed the springs to transform her runaway stepchildren.
- In Dragon Mango, the stone is cursed not to let the sword be pulled out.
- MYth: A Promise has Gaia, Mother Earth herself, cursing Zeus to never know true love. And because it's Gaia's, the "prank" is impossible to fight or break. The curse is Zeus sees an illusion of Metis on girls and his lust controls his mind until he possess them. When he's back to his senses, he feels guilty, empty and lost.
- The Dreaded, insane paladin known as Kore is said to be under a curse, though he considers it a blessing.
- Forgath meets two adventurers, Idle and Bowst, who by their own admission are covered in curses from having tackled a dungeon crawl called "The Cursewalk". Idle mentions that the rabbit ears she now sports are just a minor one among those. As for Bowst, he's compelled to hit himself in the face every time he says the word "what" (thus forcing him to wear padded mittens to soften the blows), and he's also linked to a cursed sword (a very rude Talking Weapon) which he can't get far away without taking damage.
- In Whither, Finn is suffering from one. But the guardian witch says it's something else.
- In Meaty Yogurt, everyone born in the town of Middleville is cursed to die there. They can still leave their hometown, but in the end, they will always return.
- Whateley Universe:
- Techwolf looks like a seven-foot werewolf, as does his father, all because of a witch's curse on an ancestor.
- There's also the curse worked by Fey in "Christmas Elves" to karmically repay her enemies for all the evil they have done. Hekate manages to put her portion of it off with magical defenses of her own (and by running to the Necromancer for protection), but the curse is still out there waiting for her to come back out...
- The SCP Foundation has SCP-1510 who, when alive, was a Roman legionnaire cursed by King Jugurtha for not helping him escape capture. The curse caused him to wake up with his body rotting away, leaving his mind/soul linked to his helmet.
- Vatheon: Of many variations, thanks to curse weeks! Enjoy your random Zombie Mermaids, Ghost Pirates, and random amnesia!
- Prince Strong Heart in Lady Lovely Locks is cursed to live as a dog. He can transform back into a human for brief periods of time, but only so long as Lady doesn't see him.
- Total Drama:
- Beth in Total Drama Island curses her team with a cursed Tiki idol in "Boney Island".
- DJ believes that he cursed himself after destroying the remains of a mummified dog in the first episode of World Tour.
- In Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race, Josee curses her and her partner by taking a Hawaiian lava rock to use as a good luck charm.
- American Dad!: One episode has Stan yell at an elderly man for holding up a line, arrogantly declaring that the elderly are useless, and young people like him actually have ambitions (for him, climbing Kilimanjaro) to get on with. Fittingly, Stan is cursed to rapidly age into an old man. After climbing Kilimanjaro (expecting to be transformed back), he concedes that being old doesn't mean your life is over... which turns him into a young black man. Stan then realises his last interaction with a black person was "not positive".
- Phineas and Ferb: The episode "My Fair Goalie" reveals Ferb had been under the effects of the "emu curse" - he held the soccer ball while a herd of emus carried off the assistant coach, cursing him to never be on a winning team again. To break it, a boy in a sunday bonnet has to sing the note E flat about high C before him.
- 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 "Curses" work in real life. Although there is nothing magical or harmful about them, they can be quite effective.
- "I curse you to blink your eyes and control your breathing manually!" See?
- "May the song Final Countdown by Europe play in your head!"
- 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 Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon:
- 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.
- One of the most widely-believed traditional curses in folklore, that of impotency, can be quite effective provided its intended victim is at least slightly inclined to believe in curses, and knows it has been applied to him. This isn't supernatural: rather, a man's feelings of anxiety about the alleged "curse" can work to suppress the physiological effects of arousal, in a feedback loop that gets stronger every time the victim attempts to become aroused and fails, thus "proving" the curse's efficacy. Rituals performed to "break the curse" will often seem just as effective in such cases, as it alleviates the anxiety which is really to blame for The Loins Sleep Tonight.
- Touted as the "Kennedy Curse", several tragedies have happened to various members of the Kennedy family.
- Most notably, John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in 1963 at age 46.
- Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, just as he looked on track to win the Democratic nomination.
- These were not the first tragedies to befall the Kennedy family however. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr and Kathleen Kennedy both died in plane-related incidents 20 years earlier.
- 2 new-born Kennedy babies (Patrick and Arabella) died as well.
- Rosemary Kennedy, the eldest daughter of Joseph Sr, was lobotomised in 1941 to fix her mental instability, but the process only made things even worse, and she was institutionalised for the rest of her life.
- Poor Ted Kennedy. In 1964, he was in a brutal plane crash where he suffered from from a broken back, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and internal bleeding. He lived.
- In 1969, he accidentally drove his car off a bridge. The incident was controversial because he escaped while his passenger (his secretary Mary Jo Kopechne) drowned, and he was given a suspended sentence for failing to report the accident in time. Had his reputation not been tarnished by the incident, he might well have become President.
- He finally passed away in 2009 of brain cancer.
- David Kennedy, one of Robert F. Kennedy's sons, fatally overdosed in 1984.
- David's younger brother Michael LeMoyne Kennedy was fatally injured in a skiing accident in 1997.
- John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash along with his wife Carolyn and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette in 1999.
- More recently, Mary Richardson Kennedy committed suicide in 2011.
- It is speculated in martial arts circles that there is a curse on Bruce Lee and his family, as both he and his son Brandon died young (Bruce at 32, Brandon at 29).
- Tecumseh's Curse, which also has many other names, was allegedly a curse placed by Native American chief Tecumseh upon the American presidency that would cause anyone elected in a year ending in 0 to die while in office. Because U.S. presidential elections occur every 4 years, this means a dead president every 20 years. And for the longest time, this did happen:
- 1840: William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia one month after inauguration.
- 1860: We all know what happened to Abraham Lincoln.
- 1880: James Garfield was assassinated one year into his term.
- 1900: Much like Garfield above, William McKinley was also shot dead shortly into his term.
- 1920: Warren Harding died in 1923 from a stroke or heart attack.
- 1940: Franklin D. Roosevelt died a few months after winning his fourth election.
- 1960: Who Shot JFK?
- 1980: Ronald Reagan was shot and almost died, but survived.
- 2000: Some would say 9/11 was an assassination attempt on George W. Bush, as the Capitol was an alleged target of United 93. However, like Reagan, Bush finished two terms alive and well. It's been speculated that Reagan's survival ended up breaking the curse.
- On May 10 2005, Bush survived an assassination attempt when Vladimir Arutyunian threw a live grenade at his during a speech in Georgia, but it failed to detonate.
- The only exception to the above list was Zachary Taylor, who was elected in 1848 & died in 1850, but those who believe in the curse would argue it applies to him as well, since Taylor was a veteran of the very war where the U.S. fought Tecumseh.
- One of the most famous curses is that supposedly uttered by Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of The Knights Templar, when he was burned at stake in Paris in 1314. The two men responsible for his death, King Philip IV (called "the Fair") of France and Pope Clement V, died within a year. Philip's royal house, the Capetians, became extinct in the male line with his three sons (Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV), leading to a Succession Crisis and The Hundred Years War. Philip IV and his sons are thus popularly known as les rois maudits (the cursed kings) in France. Some like to believe that Jacques de Molay's curse continued to wreak havoc on the kings of France, as the following two dynasties also ended with three brothers ruling in succession, the Valois with Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III and the Bourbons with Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X. Conspiracy theorists on the other hand like to believe that the Knights Templar plotted revenge against the kings of France, morphed into the Freemasons and masterminded The French Revolution.