Curse That Cures

"Sadly science doesn't have a cure for cancer. The supernatural however..."
Teen Wolf 2.12, "Master Plan"

Despite the obvious downsides, a Curse or inhuman transformation has one or two redeeming features that, to be frank, can make it a very tempting offer to someone already in the grips of an injury or disease. For example, undeath has the palpable upside of curing vast swaths of ailments and maladies... sure, it's by virtue of killing you and thus making the asthma/cancer/stubbed toe irrelevant, and it saddles you with a Horror Hunger, but hey! At least no more Incurable Cough of Death!

While this can be analogous to the "Awesome" part of Cursed with Awesome, the "Curse" part is not to be underestimated. It's basically the difference between "Nooooo! I don't wanna be a vampire! ...Of course, it DOES give me a superpower I could use to defeat the Big Bad," whereas this trope is more "I don't wanna be a vampire... but if I have to choose between dying of AIDS, or becoming a Vampire... I'm gonna go with vampire." What's more, while Cursed with Awesome is about a "curse" that is actually pretty cool and useful, the Curse That Cures is at best an even trade and usually the one silver lining in an actually pretty crappy case of cursing.

Still, this silver lining is actually significant enough that at least some will rationally and calmly consider taking the "Emergency" out of Emergency Transformation fully knowing the many downsides it carries. In fact, vampires, werewolves, cyborgs, transhumans and the like may well try to sell a potential victim—err, convert with the fringe benefits while soft-pedaling the flaws. On the other hand, this trope can be paired with Transhuman Treachery if the convert knows the curse involves doing a Face–Heel Turn.

Of course, given that life itself is a terminal disease, some people don't have to be sick to go looking for a cure.

Compare Disability Immunity, where an existing disability gives a character immunity to a harmful effect. Also compare Beneficial Disease, which (though possibly fatal) gives a character a power or immunity to something else. Contrast One Curse Limit, where attempting to put a second curse on someone fails because they're already cursed.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • The manga One Piece has an interesting version of this trope. Brook ate the Revive-Revive Fruit, which meant that he knew that he'd be able to come back and live a second life as an undead of sorts. It isn't known how much he knew of the Fruit's ability; he probably assumed correctly that his body would revive regardless of its condition. However, he had no idea that due to circumstances of his death he would be Cursed with Awesome.
  • In Black Blood Brothers, Chan was made a vampire using Kelly Wong's blood to save her life at her mother's request.
  • In Gunslinger Girl, Rico is a cyborg, Professional Killer, Child Soldier, and for all practical purposes, a slave owned by a Government Agency of Fiction... and she loves her job despite actually remembering her previous life. Why? Because it beats being a quadraplegic. The same could be said for practically all of the girls, who would have been dead if it weren't for the Welfare Agency.
  • At the start of Hellsing, Seras is being held hostage by an enemy vampire when she finds herself between her captor and the business end of Alucard's pistol. Alucard asks her if she will agree to help him. When she nods, he mortally wounds both Seras and her captor. Alucard keeps his word and converts Seras to save her.
  • In Nightwalker, Shido's secretary Riho ends up mortally wounded by Shido's nemesis Cain. She asks Shido to turn her into a vampire, and he obliges.
  • This is the backstory to Nyanpire: a dying kitty is saved by a vampire, who turns him into a vampire by feeding him blood.
  • In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, after Fay has his eye ripped out and is obviously dying Kurogane makes this call and convinces the vampire Kamui to turn Fay into a vampire who can live off Kurogane's blood. It works, but Fay is pissed at Kurogane for a long time after for more reasons than one, though they eventually reconcile.

     Comic Books  

  • The comic book Blood + Water has two vampires turn a friend dying of Hepatitis C for this reason. The change even completely undoes all of the physical damage he had suffered over the years of the disease. Interestingly, he confronts them over waiting those years before turning him, and they reveal it was because their Spider-Sense warned them doing so would have a dark consequence. In this case, awakening the ancient Food Chain of Evil that were prehistoric super vampires. They had chosen to ignore it because they cared too much about him to continue to watch him suffer.
  • The 1988 anthology Strip AIDS USA (a charity AIDS relief book) had a story where lycanthropy proves to be a great cure for HIV. Luckily, the recipient becomes a Friendly Neighborhood Werewolf.
  • An interesting variation is seen in Marvel's SpiderIsland2015. A certain virus has turned everyone in Manhattan in humanoid spiders (superheroes included, up to Captain America, Iron Man and Hulk). So main characters come up with desperate scheme of neutralising the virus - infect them further with similar curses that tend to transform people in werewolves, giant lizards and green goblins. This decision brings its own obvious problems, but still works.
  • Used as the setup for the graphic novel Harriet the Invincible, where the titular Harriet is cursed to fall into a Sleeping Beauty style sleep when she turns 12. However the same curse must keep her alive until her 12th birthday in order to come true; effectively rendering her invincible. She uses this loophole to follow her true passions of cliff-diving, monster-slaying and adventuring.

     Fanfiction  

  • This is the idea behind the "'D' Program" in The Return, anyone in the program is eligible to be turned into a succubus if they are wounded seriously enough. Even if they are male.

     Film  

  • In Corpse Bride, while being dead isn't exactly a picnic what with the gradual decomposition the dead suffer, it has its upsides. Mainly that any pains felt in life are completely gone. Mayhew, who died of a coughing related illness, actually was fairly happy at the turnaround.
    Victor: Mayhew! How nice to see... [notices he's dead] I'm so sorry.
    Mayhew: Oh, yeah. Actually, though, I feel great.
  • In Daybreakers, becoming a vampire, like 95% of the population has already done, cures cancer and any other illnesses one had as a human, in exchange for not being able to go out in the sunlight and becoming dependent upon consuming human blood to survive. Too bad they're running out of humans to give blood.

     Literature  

  • Played for horror in Dragon Bones: Oreg is an immortal slave, who can only be killed by his current owner. He survives any injuries caused by someone else. His father and first owner, who had magically bound Oreg's soul to castle Hurog had him whipped by someone else in order to punish him without killing him.
  • Used in the book series Year of Rogue Dragons (a Dungeons & Dragons novel) by the Big Bad to force dragons to become dracoliches. He messed with an ancient curse meant to keep dragon's numbers down by driving them insane, and since undead are immune to Mind Control, they had to take his offer to become liches or die.
  • One of the Night World books is about a girl with cancer whose vampire boyfriend offers to turn her to save her life.
  • In one Mercy Thompson book a werewolf talks his father into getting infected, to save him from cancer. It does cure the disease but the father fears his werewolf side, which ironically only gets him more unstable (since he doesn't even try to get in tune with his animal side, he can't control his rage)
  • Claudia from Interview with the Vampire. Louis and Lestat find her almost dead of the plague; they turn her into a vampire.
  • This is how Edward views vampirism in Twilight - on the bright side, he was saved from a horrible, wasting death from Spanish flu and is now impossibly beautiful. On the negative side, he is hard as rock, dead, can't go out in direct sunlight, constantly thirsts to kill people and has to go to high school for the rest of his life (which is forever). This is why he is unwilling to make Bella a vampire, despite the fact that she wants to be one.
  • Subverted in Blood Price by Tanya Huff. Victoria is slowly going blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa. But she refuses to allow Henry to turn her into a vampire.
    • Invoked latter when the heroine was dying anyway. The reason she was against turning was Curse on the Vampires that invokes extreme territorial feelings in them and enticed them to fight and kill each other.(And for good reason.)
  • One of the reasons Gerald Tarrant from the Coldfire Trilogy turned to The Dark Side and become a vampire-equivalent was because of a congenital heart defect that would have cut short his illustrious life. It comes back and nearly kills him when he becomes human again in Crown of Shadows; it leaves him weakened for the rest of the book.
  • Invoked with a dose of Heroic Sacrifice in the Kate Daniels series. Being turned into a vampire is a fatal process, and there's no sentience on the other side. If you're infected and you can't fight the virus off, you die and leave a blood-crazed, berserking corpse behind. But The People, an international corporation dedicated to studying undeath and vampires and taking over the world will pay certain individuals to be infected, if they can have the vampire once it's been made. Basically, if you were going to die anyways, it's a way to leave your family with some extra money.
  • Referenced in The Misenchanted Sword, where a Wizard tells the protagonist about a man who came to him after being cursed with a horrific stench, and when they couldn't undo the curse, they instead put another curse on him that suppressed the sense of smell of everyone within 100 feet of him.
  • In the Bordertown series, one of the major characters, Wolfboy, was a drug addict when he was turned into a Wolf Man by a half-completed curse. This immediately cured the addiction.
  • In Patricia C. Wrede's short story "The Sixty-Two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd", a curse is used to cure another curse—a local boy realizes the family's curse-induced lycanthropy can be cured by inciting the Caliph to curse them with something else, since there's a limit on how many curses one person can have at a time.

     Live Action TV  

  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Lie To Me," a childhood friend of Buffy's sells her out to some vampires in exchange for being turned into a vampire to cure his fatal brain tumor. Buffy was quick to point out that the vampires in her 'verse don't have the soul of the human the body belonged to; his body would move around, and a demon might have his memories, but "he" would still die.
  • The sister series Angel reveals that Darla was turned while dying from syphilis. When she was later returned to life as a human, she nearly died of the same disease and only survived by being turned again.
    • An analogous situation arises later on the show, albeit in the opposite direction, with Darla again. She is "cured" from her soullessness temporarily by becoming pregnant with Connor. The catch is that, in order to give birth, she has to die (or, undie).
  • In one episode of Forever Knight a blind woman regains her sight after being turned.
  • Moonlight: Beth asks Mick to do this for her fatally wounded fiance. He refuses. He musta seen that ep of Forever Knight.
  • Stargate SG-1: This is how Colonel O'Neill views blending with a Tok'ra to cure himself of a fatal disease. Initially, he refuses vehemently and repeatedly, but finally gives his consent. Turns out he had good reason to refuse since the symbiote completely took over his body like a Goa'uld instead of sharing with the host as the Tok'ra usually do. By contrast, Jacob Carter takes finding out about the stargate...and aliens...and the idea of sharing his body with an alien parasite very much in stride and views it as kind of an adventure, in addition to being a necessity.
    • Much earlier, millionaire Adrian Conrad becomes a Goa'uld host for this reason. It doesn't go well.
  • Teen Wolf: Scott loses his asthma once bitten. A minor upside to being low man on the Food Chain of Evil, getting an Enemy Within and a target of Van Helsing Hate Crimes.
    • In season two, Gerard Argent wants to use this trope to survive cancer.
    • Also, Erica had severe epilepsy which required anti-seizure medications with pretty bad side effects themselves, which didn't always work for her anyway. The bite took care of all of that, leaving her healthy, beautiful and confident.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Rumpelstiltskin walks with a limp before he becomes the Dark One, and his Storybrooke incarnation Mr. Gold uses a cane as well, since there's no magic there. As the Dark One, his leg seems to be all right, although not much else is.
  • In Being Human (US), a Bubble Boy with a weakened immune system named Kenny asks Aidan to be turned into a vampire so that he can live a (relatively) normal life. Unfortunately for him, Aidan has been dosed with werewolf blood and any vampire he sires becomes a hideously mutated werewolf/vampire hybrid.
  • In iZombie, Liv infects Major to save him from a mortal wound. He is not appreciative at all, so Liv injects him with the remains of the cure (it's later revealed that the cure is only temporary).

     Tabletop RPG  

  • The whole point of worshiping Nurgle in Warhammer40000: if you are already covered in diseases and rotting flesh, you can't get old, and you won't feel pain. You also have the patronage and love (yes, actual, unconditional paternal love) of the only kind god in the entire galaxy.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade when you are turned into a vampire all injuries, illnesses and disabilities disappear. However, now you are at the bottom of the pecking order surrounded by vampires who want to use you as a pawn and aren't shy of killing you if it helps them, must prey on humans to survive, can be smelled out by werewolves who will hunt you with prejudice and have to pretend you're human while dealing with the "burns in sunlight" thing.
  • The Legion in Mage: The Awakening are mages who summon Abyssal spirits to consume and replace their body parts in exchange for Lovecraftian Superpowers. Some of the most powerful members replace their brains, rendering themselves immune to any form of mortal madness. Given the kind of people who join the Legion and where they tend to fall on the game's Sanity/Karma Meter, letting an unnatural being from beyond the walls of reality do their thinking for them is generally an improvement.
  • If someone in Dungeons & Dragons is stuck with a curse that they're unable to break, one option is to take on a second curse, which supersedes the effects of the older spell. Hardly ideal, but if fell magic is sapping your mind, cursing yourself with something like infertility is pretty benign by comparison.

     Video Games  
  • In World of Warcraft human refugees from the area of Hillsbrad willingly accept being cursed with werewolfism (the Worgen Curse, it is called) because doing so will prevent them from being raised as undead should they be killed. On the other hand, several humans from Gilneas accept being raised as undead to prevent themselves from contracting the Worgen curse.
  • Corprus in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is a magical disease that transforms its victims into mindless, tumor-ridden monstrosities. However, it also grants its victims immunity to all other diseases. They also become The Ageless; it is kind of moot, of course, if you're a constantly mutating zombie thingy, but becomes an invaluable asset to the Nerevarine, who is cured from the negative effects of corprus while retaining the good ones.
    • In Skyrim Vampirism and Lycanthropy can cure any disease as well as making you immune to disease. However one of the cures for Vampirism is Lycanthropy. You cannot again become a vampire while having Lycanthropy, as Vampirism starts as a disease, which you are immune to. Each have side benefits/problems and you can only be 'cured' in this way by specific individuals.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Shadow of Death, Sandro doesn't mind losing his flesh and blood when his transformation into a lich is complete. He's glad to be rid of distractions like footsores and body odor.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has a perk "Rad Child" that makes radiation this. The healing from the perk is so potent the character can virtually absord incoming damage at higher irradiation levels. They, however, still fully experience the rather drastic penalties from irradiation, including instant death once it reaches a cap.
  • The second mission of Metal Slug 3 features a zombie outbreak. Getting hit by a zombie attack turns your character into a zombie with a slow firing rate and movement speed, with another zombie attack killing them outright. However, being zombified also renders the victim immune to human attacks, and also grants a wide-range blood vomit attack. There's a notable section of the mission consisting only of human enemies (including helicopters).

     Visual Novels  

  • In Hakuouki, Kaoru encourages Okita to take the water of life and become a fury; sure, he'd end up with a debilitating sensitivity to sunlight and an overpowering thirst for blood, but at least the fury Healing Factor would cure his terminal tuberculosis. It's a subversion: Kaoru is lying, all just part of his dedicated campaign to torment Okita in order to make Chizuru suffer. Although the Healing Factor does buy Okita time, his tuberculosis continues to take a toll on his body, and in the anime adaptation it's a major factor in his death via The Last Dance.
  • Hustle Cat's Landry had an unfortunate run-in with a bratty teenage witch, landing him with a curse he believed could potentially cause his heart to explode. In his panic, Landry allowed another witch to place a protective counter-curse which would turn him into a cat - the only time he can temporarily reclaim his human form is while on the second witch's property.

     Web Comics  
  • The cures holding Velvare together in The Silver Eye. They does a good job, for the most part, considering he's supposed to be dead but sometimes Melete's magic is weakened, and he starts to fall apart again. The worst is in Chapter 10 when he's gone 8 straight days without sleep, and his cuts are bleeding so much, they completely soak through his clothes.
  • Xykon from The Order of the Stick. It is revealed in the prequel Start of Darkness that he became a lich, under Redcloak's suggestion, to escape a magical disease that was preventing him from using his sorcerer magic. Also, they were prisoners of a powerful druid and had little other options for escaping.
    • He also happily notes that becoming undead has cured his arthritis (he became undead at about age 80).
      • ...Then he discovers that he can no longer taste food. Now his only pleasure is making people suffer. Which he proceeds to do non-stop.
      • He didn't mind losing a certain body part, however. According to him prior to the transformation, "it hasn't moved on its own for 16 years."
  • Happens in this Nodwick strip. Apparently, Yeagar, Artax, and Nodwick are so dumb, that when the Evil Sorceress She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed turns them into her brainwashed slaves, it makes them smarter.
  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures , Mab needs to shield one of her friends from possible death at the hands of many possible assailants so that he can live long enough to bring about a revolution. However, she finds one possible solution unappetizing...
    Albanion: Ooh! You know what you could do! Let him get killed and then arrange him to be brought back as an undead! That would totally work!
    Mab: No! Ew ew ew! No! Friends don't let friends become zombies!

     Western Animation 
  • In Superman: The Animated Series becoming Metallo is certainly traumatizing for Metallo; he's no longer human, and cannot experience taste, smell, or even touching. However, at first he believes this Trope applies, believing it was necessary to save his life from a deadly disease. However, he eventually learns it was a cruel subversion; Luthor arranged to infect him with the disease on purpose to turn him into a weapon to use against Superman.
  • In Totally Spies!, Clover is fiercely allergic to dandelions; in one episode, where she's captured and implanted with small robots that enhance her muscles and control her movements, her two friends remedy this by shoving dandelions in her face until she starts violently sneezing, and sneezes the robots out.

     Real Life  

  • At least one person with severe allergies deliberately gave himself hookworm. The upside is that it distracted his immune system enough to free him of his allergies. The downside is that now he has hookworm.
  • According to legend, the discoverer of acupuncture used to suffer chronic pain, until he took an arrow to the knee. The older pain disappeared, and he deemed the new wound well worth it.
  • The protist responsible for malaria lives and breeds in blood cells. Certain genetic blood disorders, like Sickle-Cell Anemia and Hemoglobin-C Disease, will interfere with this, functionally giving people malaria resistance/immunity. This is why native peoples in malaria-infested areas tend to have a higher incidence of sickle-cell or related genetic changes. People with only the traits of Sickle-cell or Hemoglobin-C inherit similar but possibly lesser protections but little or no illness from their ancestor's blood legacy.
  • There have been cases where people suffering from syphilis were cured by getting malaria, or otherwise catching something that produces a dangerously high fever — too high for syphilis to survive.
  • There are occasional, mostly unverified rumors of people who infect themselves with autoimmune diseases as a means of curing blood cancer, or the other way around, the two diseases supposedly "cancelling each other off" in some fashion.
  • In the late 1700's, it was discovered that milk-maids, farmers and cattle workers who had been previously infected with cowpox or horsepox were resistant to deadly smallpox infections. Thus, inoculation, the first form of vaccination (which even now is named for cows): people were deliberately infected with cowpox, survived and recovered from it (which humans normally survive, although it's pretty nasty to live through), and came out immune to smallpox — the beginning of the end for that disease.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CurseThatCures