"Memo to self:
never refuse to kiss the Queen of the Gypsies!"
A common indulgence of the horror
movie is the Gypsy Curse
laid down by the stereotypical Roma
(often an old woman).
come as a unique brand. They'll be done out of vengeance (usually to be seen as a Disproportionate Retribution
, at least from the victim's point of view) but also as some Laser-Guided Karma
that's being used as a morality tale. Hey kids, don't do that nasty deed because otherwise, one day, you might do it to someone who'll go totally apeshit and curse you!
On the other hand, even when being used for that particular Space Whale Aesop
, there seems to be a law of conservation of Gypsy Curses. The cursed person will find properly getting rid of the curse impossible
but there will be some rule
that allows them to transfer the curse onto somebody else like it's a forged banknote. As soon as the character finds this out, expect to have the next scene full of the most adorable, innocent looking
people in the world. This is all part and parcel of the crazy, traditionalist, demonic disingenuation of the Romani
portraying them as revenge focused
, not justice focused, uncaring of collateral damage and inspiring selfishness in others (in other words, it's kinda racist). It doesn't help that they're often Karma Houdinis
, escaping any repercussion for their actions...or even benefiting!
Also, don't ask about why these Romani slinging out curses are always portrayed as impoverished and homeless despite possessing amazing magical powers.
. Compare Indian Burial Ground
for a more American type of ethnic curse.
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- The Wolfman (1941) contains a sort of subversion. Larry Talbot is indeed cursed when he is bitten by the gypsy werewolf Bela, but the curse is unintentional, and in fact, Bela's mother Maleva proves to be the one character that believes and attempts to aid Larry once he sprouts his own fur and fangs.
- The greedy and gluttonous Billy Halleck runs over a gypsy woman while receiving a hand-job from his wife while driving. He's cursed to waste away no matter what he eats, a curse to mock his greedy nature. However, these gypsies discover the problem with cursing someone who really is enough of a douche to deserve it, when he sics the mob on them to force them to remove it. The curse ends up getting encased within a pie.
- The judge who acquitted Halleck and the police chief who soft-pedaled the charges against him and kicked the gypsies out of the town are also cursed. The former has scales grow on his skin, the latter gets horrifyingly extreme case of acne. They both commit suicide.
- Drag Me to Hell has a loan officer who refuses to extend a mortgage for the third time damned to spend all of eternity in hell.
- In Mystery Men The Spleen, to avoid fessing up to a fart, accuses an old gypsy woman of it. She curses him to forever be the one who "dealt it", and he is Blessed with Suck and KO capable farts.
- In ParaNorman, Norman's town focuses most of its publicity on this. Back in the 17-18th century, a witch condemned to death cursed the dead to rise from the grave every year, on the anniversary of her death. But then it's subverted in that the witch wasn't cursing all the dead - just the people who sentenced her. Furthermore, it wasn't to punish the town, it was to punish the very people she was raising, by forcing them to go through what she went through - unjust violence because of fear.
- A group of friends accidentally run over a Gypsy woman with their RV in Roadkill. Before she dies, the woman summons a giant bird to stalk and kill them all in order to avenge her death.
- Instead of a gypsy, it is a Depraved Dwarf working at a burlesque show that curses the protagonist of The Devil Within Her who spurned his sexual advances and groping, by saying “You will have a baby, a monster, an evil monster conceived in your womb, as big as I am small, and possessed by the devil himself!” Nine months later she gives birth to a demonically possessed Enfant Terrible with The Strength of Ten Men.
- Holes had the Yelnats family subject to a gypsy curse / Hereditary Curse combo. However it was a condition of a deal that was broken by the cursed member. As soon as it was inadvertently fulfilled by descendants of the participants in said deal, the entire family was showered with good luck and fortune.
- Oddly enough, in The Film of the Book, Madame Zeroni and her descendants are all portrayed as black, despite the backstory taking place in a fictionalized Latvia, where there would be a sizable population of actual Romani (especially in the late 19th century, before certain events cut the Latvian Romani population in half).
- In HP Lovecraft's Short Story "The Cats of Ulthar", the curse of a mysterious travelling people causes the eponymous cats to take vengeance on an old couple that kills cats for fun. The mysterious travellers are implied to come from Egypt, making them literal 'Gypsies'.
- Stephen King's book Thinner, as mentioned above in Film.
Live Action TV
- British folk-rockers Steeleye Span revived an old Yorkshire ballad about the ugliest witch on the borders. who one day tries to seduce a passing man who is having none of it, and rebuffs her with scorn. She offers gifts and riches, but he gets even more insulting. Humiliated and vengeful, she takes his good looks away and turns him into an ugly wriggling worm, to see how he likes it.
Alison Grose, she must be, the ugliest witch in the north country!note
- "Break The Spell" from The Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels.
There's a gypsy all dressed in white
Put my hand out, ask the question
Here's the silver, do you have the gift of sight?
Can you break the spell?
- Dr. Rudolph van Richten in the Ravenloft setting was cursed by the Vistani "to live forever among monsters and see all whom you love die by them". But then, van Richten himself cursed this whole tribe to be targetted by undead... and didn't know about either curse until many years later the sole survivor told him so. It turned out that curses invoked by Vistani aren't so special, but they have some traditional guidelines and a better chance that the curse will work.
- In fact, this happens a lot in the Ravenloft campaign. A good rule of thumb while you're there is, don't make the Vistani angry at you.
- In Psychonauts, the main protagonist Raz's circus family is said to have been cursed by psychic gypsies to die in water. This is used to explain why Raz's dad hates psychics and is used to justify the Super Drowning Skills enacted by the Hand of Galochio. This is also an extremely rare example of a gypsy curse applied to other gypsies, because the Aquato family are themselves Roma.
- In Quest for Glory IV, a gypsy is captured by the superstitious townsfolk and accused of being a werewolf and killing a town member. If you don't save him from being burned at the stake, he will curse you and everyone in the town with his last breath, resulting in game over. After clearing his name, you find out that he really was a werewolf.
- In Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within, Grace discovers that the source of the werewolf curse that Gabriel is investigating stems from a gypsy curse. After Baron von Ralick rapes a young gypsy girl, an old woman of the tribe curses him with lycanthropy.
- Killing Madame Toussaud in Arcanum will permanently penalize your character's charisma.
- Invoked in one of the missions of Assassin's Creed: Revelations, in which Ezio must discreetly assassinate (specifically, with poison) Templars who try to take the local Romanies' money chest so that they'll think the chest itself is "cursed" and be too scared to try to steal it.
- Played with in a Lance and Janice radio soap in Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time
Lance: I don't have the capacity for love, Janice. I was... cursed by a tribe of Gypsys.
Janice: I know Lance. I was in that tribe.
- Near the end of the "Gigantic!" arc of The Blonde Marvel, it was revealed that the giant invader was actually a wealthy playboy, whom a gypsy had cursed as punishment for his philandering.
- Sam & Lilah:
- Lilah was cursed (as a newborn) by an old Gypsy woman her parents accidentally ran down on a rain-slicked country road (on their way home from the hospital with baby Lilah). She cursed Lilah to have any man who falls for her suffer the same fate as the most prominent man who also bore the name. Her parents saw no need to tell Lilah about this... until she started dating a boy named "Jesus." Oh, and Sam (the other half to the title)? His name is short for "Samson." Lilah is short for "Delilah".
- This is turning out (so far) to be Cursed with Awesome for those effected by Lilah's curse. Sam gains Super Strength and super toughness (enough to get hit by a speeding car with nothing more than light bruising). We're not told explicitly what happened to Jesus; only that he rose from the dead three days later and is now a Physical God.
- Ozy from Ozy and Millie has a gypsy curse running in his family that makes his hair fall out every year. (Or not. Maybe it's just his father inventing this.) His father being a dragon, he is the first family member to have fur, so the curse hadn't had effect before.
- The trope is inverted in Rasputin Barxotka when a Russian witch pretending to be a gypsy, puts a bloodline extinguishing curse on Gurkha Basma and his Romani family, to retaliate against the murder of her husband.
- In Survival of the Fittest Spin-Off The Program, Durriken Lovel comes from a Romani family. The family legend is that the youngest born child of each generation is cursed to have horrible luck. Durriken is the youngest of his siblings, and then his name gets called out on Announcement Day...
- In a Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons, Homer receives a stereotypical gypsy curse that brings misery on all those around him after trashing a fortune teller's office. He gets rid of it by attacking her with a leprechaun. The gypsy and the leprechaun then proceed to have sex in front of Homer. The episode ends with them getting married by Yoda, where they proceed to have sex on the altar...It was a Treehouse of Horror episode, okay? WEIRD shit happens during those.
Homer: Well, I guess everything's back to normal.
Marge: May I remind you that Bart is dead?
Homer: Well, saying sorry won't bring him back.
Marge: The gypsy said it would.
Homer: She's not the boss of me!
- Courage the Cowardly Dog has Shirley the Medium, who repeatedly curses Eustace for being Eustace. She's even shown to be monitoring several curses she's put on people who offended her in another episode. Despite this, she's also shown saving Eustace and Muriel in several episodes, including her introduction.
- Happens in Action League Now in a parody of Thinner. Basically, a gypsy curses the Chief by muttering the word "fatter". He gains an uncontrollable appetite until he basically becomes a bowling ball with a head and limbs. Eventually, he explodes and turns back to normal.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants, a hagfish curses the Krusty Krab after being refused service. Mr. Krabs dismisses it at first, but then no one comes into the Krusty Krab and he starts losing money. He and SpongeBob eventually convince the hagfish to remove the curse... which she does by taking down a "Closed" sign she had posted in front.
Mr. Krabs: That's it? That's the curse?
Hagfish: I don't waste good curses on bottom feeders like you.
- In Dave the Barbarian, "the Nomads", known for being extremely touchy, curse the main character's homeland with a heatwave after Dave asks if their fishcakes are fresh. Then at the end of the episode, Dave accidentally smacks them with the door and they cast another curse that ends the show.
- Johnny Bravo: Johnny is cursed to shrink in size by a gypsy he angered. In another episode, Johnny's attempts to flirt with a gypsy fortune teller get him cursed to spend a day as a woman.
- In Archer, Cheryl frequently mentions an old gypsy woman who curses her and possibly her coworkers with various unfortunate fates that may or may not resemble their actual mishaps.
- One episode of Timon & Pumbaa has a gypsy put a curse on Timon after he tried to eat her (she was a bug). While Pumbaa was worried, Timon didn't believe in the curse...until the next day when he woke up as a bug.
- Garfield and Friends: When Garfield destroyed a gypsy's gig, she cursed him into becoming a wolf under the full moon. Even the gypsy didn't believe it would work until Jon confirmed it. She eventually ended the curse, but then Garfield retaliated by turning her into something even more horrifying: a mime.
- Family Guy once parodied Thinner in a cutaway gag involving Britney Spears ("thicker!").
- Littlest Pet Shop (2012): in "The Very Littlest Pet Shop", the pets infuriate a slow loris who shrinks the shop.
- A common legend in English Football is that a group of gypsies, angry about being ejected from their land so that Derby County could build their ground, cursed the club never to win a trophy. The club then went on to come agonisingly close on several occasions, but losing either in the semifinal or the final (In one final, they lost 6-0). However, after the club reached the FA Cup final in 1946, an agreement between the club and the gypsies was reached and the curse was lifted. They won.
- There's also the story that a woman claimed to have put a similar curse on Nottingham Forest (maybe she was a Derby fan...), but it clearly failed, since it was just before they won the European Cup two years in a row.