Silver was considered a mystical element in folklore, and thus its properties become reality in fiction. The metal can do many things, from channel magic, to stopping evil (including warding off or harming vampires
), making magic mirrors, to turning water into a Healing Potion
The myth of silver's mystical properties goes deep into human history. As a noble metal akin to gold, this is often attributed to something along the lines of silver's Incorruptible Pure Pureness
. In fact, it's because of something people noticed a very long time ago: if you put water in a silver pitcher, it takes a lot longer for it to get unhealthily scummy. Silver has antimicrobial properties
that make it quite useful in medicine. In ancient and medieval alchemy silver was also the metal with an affinity corresponding to the moon, so many of the mystical properties of the moon also became associated with the metal (which would certainly explain its usefulness against werewolves). Rare in post-medieval works, but common in pre-christian pagan mythologies also also to associate it with the Sun
, and many solar deities are described with silver objects (like Saule
's silver thread or Amaterasu
's silver mirror.
Due to the above, silver is almost always considered to be on the good end of magic (and items formed of it may also be Made of Good
). Some works can make it evil or used for evil when Light Is Not Good
This trope is the reason vampires
traditionally have no reflections and don't show up on film
. Old-timey mirrors used silver backing to achieve reflection, and black and white film used silver nitrates to capture the image (plus some old camera models included mirrors in the light capture mechanism); since vampires are unholy, their light is not picked up by divine silver. Of course, silver nitrates were phased out of film even before film itself was made obsolete by digital cameras, and modern mirrors are usually backed by much cheaper aluminium, but the associated between vampirism and lack of image reproduction still lingers.
A Winter Royal Lady
might prefer silver due to it fitting in with that trope's color scheme.
If Gold–Silver–Copper Standard
is involved, expect gold
to be even more powerful, while silver still has its own powers. The two of them used together can also be a sign of divinity
A Super Trope
to Silver Bullet
(which is also called "(Moria) silver"), Crystal Skull
, Power Crystal
, Thunderbolt Iron
(another metal with mythic history), Cold Iron
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- Taken to extremes in the Blade trilogy, where a minor scratch from any sharp silver object causes vampires to immediately crumble into dust.
- Silver shavings are among the ingredients listed by Hellboy for the all-purpose paranormal-monster-killing bullets he uses for the Samaritan revolver in his self-titled movie.
- In Dracula Untold, pure silver is one of the weaknesses of vampires, and it appears that light glints off of them in such a way that it also makes it hard for the vampires to see.
- In the Magic: The Gathering novels, silver is the only material that can travel back in time without nasty side effects, hence why Karn the silver golem was made. Silver also channels Blue and White mana, and in Innistrad it has the stereotypical effects against vampires and werewolves.
- In The Silver Chair, the eponymous item is used to brainwash a prince.
- The rat god, in Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly, can only be sealed away with pictures using silver in them. When the god uses his mind tricks to get a master painter sent away, the people trying to stop it remember that the silver in film could do the same thing (as this took place in Hollywood during The Roaring Twenties).
- In The Dresden Files, silver is pretty useful all around but ancestral silver is even better, i.e. it is the only thing that can kill the uber-werewolves loup garou. Harry has inherited a silver amulet from his late mom and it saves his butt at least once.
- In Harry Potter, goblin-wrought silver is nigh-invulnerable, and can absorb the properties of what it pierces in order to make itself stronger. It's unclear how the goblins make it this way, or whether it's truly silver or simply called so because the same colour. There are many other objects in the series which are made of silver (the Pensieve) or have the appearance of silver (unicorn blood). Finally, several spells, most notably the Patronus, take a silver colouration.
- Inverted in Mistborn, where silver is one of the few metals which doesn't have special powers. Word of God is that Sanderson originally wanted to use silver in place of tin (which grants Super Senses), but then he found out the pewter does not in fact contain silver, and had to change it to maintain Magic A Is Magic A (since silver would have been paired with pewter, which grants Super Speed, Super Strength, and Super Toughness, and every pair consists of a metal and its alloy).
- In Shadows For Silence In The Forests Of Hell, silver is the only thing that can harm the shades or reverse their Touch of Death.
- John the Wanderer from Manly Wade Wellman's Silver John stories carries a guitar with silver strings. This is because silver is the only substance in the world Satan fears, and as a consequence, it's proof against all beings of evil and darkness.
- Some of the Fighting Fantasy books make silver weapons the only ones capable of harming ghosts.
- Garrett, P.I.: taken Up to Eleven. Silver is the fuel of sorcerers' magic and thus an extremely important natural resource. The superpowers of the world fight wars over the control of the areas where silver is mined.
- In Murderess, this is obviously a recurrent theme in everything Moonfolk-related, given their deep reliance on the moon and moonlight.
- Spirits in The Bartimaeus Trilogy, being made of air and fire, are weak to the earth and other metals, silver being the most painful for them.
- Like in The Bartimaeus Trilogy (and being written by the same author, ghosts in Lockwood & Co. are weak to silver.
- In A Wolf In The Soul, Greg's inability to gargle silver water helps Dr. Belew figure out that he's a werewolf.
- Thursday Next's one-time nemesis, Acheron Hades, is Immune to Bullets, possibly Nigh Invulnerable, and is probably but not directly referred to as a demon. However, Thursday finds out Acheron is vulnerable to silver when she stabs him with a pair of silver scissors.
Live Action TV
- In Moonlight it's mentioned that the reason vampires couldn't be photographed is because of the silver used in producing the negative, the silver reflecting the photographee's soul. (Which is also why they don't cast reflections in mirrors.) But modern digital photography and video don't use silver, making vamps easy to capture images of.
- In True Blood vampires are weakened by contact with silver. It hurts too, and will leave burn marks on unprotected skin. Has been shown applied as chains, handcuffs, "pepper" spray and intravenously as a torture method.
- In Supernatural, silver is one of the most common monster weaknesses (next to salt and iron). Shapeshifters, lamias and werewolves are all, in some way, vulnerable to silver and hunters often test people with silver to make sure they aren't monsters.
- In The Vampire Diaries, it's initially assumed that werewolves are vulnerable to silver (which the local werewolf plays up by avoiding touching a silver knife). While this was a Fake Weakness, it turns out that silver does have an effect on werewolves—it jumpstarts their already impressive Healing Factor. Attacking a werewolf with silver, therefore, is literally less effective than anything else you could hit them with.
You know, I think werewolves were probably the ones who started this whole "weak to silver" thing, just for moments like this
- Invoked with the Silver Wizard in Silverball Mania, who's the source for the game's various mystical activities.
- Dungeons & Dragons uses this a lot for so many items.
- In Rifts, Silver is one of the few things that can hurt nearly every supernatural creature in the game, up to and including many Gods. Consequently, nearly every PC in the game usually has at least a single silver-plated knife or cross. One nation at war with a kingdom of vampires equips Silver-plated swords on their Humongous Mecha.
- In Warhammer 40,000, psycannons (designed specifically to fight daemons) fire shells that are not only charged with negative psychic energy and inscribed with holy symbols, but are (of course) tipped with silver.
- In a few of The Elder Scrolls games silver weapons (and daedric weapons, which were technically magical in nature) were the only way to harm ghosts without magic.
- Vampires and werewolves are also weak to silver weapons (but still vulnerable to normal ones).
- League of Legends has Vayne, a ranged carry/assassin. One of her abilities called Silver Bolts causes every third consecutive shot on the same target to deal a % of the target's maximum health as true damage letting her easily chew even the tankier champions.
- The protagonist of The Witcher, Geralt, is a monster hunter, a Witcher, who uses a silver sword in his monster-slaying work. Said monsters are mostly things like zombies, werewolves and vampires and the like, so silver weapons hurt them more. Business as usual. Though as he is quick to point out, his silver sword works against human monsters too.
- Some of the best armor in Final Fantasy I was named Silver equipment, but was made Mithril in the remake.
- Upon the reawakening of the deadites in Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick, several vortices materialize in the town of Dearborn, and Ash is tasked by the local priest to close them with silver. This leads to a mission where he has to hunt for biker gang members who had raided stash of it recently.
- In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Silver Arrows can only be obtained late in the game and were needed to fight Ganon, The King of Evil. Specifically, they're used to deliver the killing blow once he was stunned by the Golden Sword. Later games would replace them with the Light Arrows.
- In the original Ys duology, silver is one of the higher equipment tiers, and a rash of thefts has been going on recently. It turns out that Silver, at least in this region, is in fact Cleria, the only metal capable of harming both games Big Bad.
- In Zombies Ate My Neighbors, silverware is useful for taking down werewolves.
- It turns out, in And Shine Heaven Now, that if one runs out of silver bullets, the silver filling in a tooth taken from a Holocaust victim can work in a pinch to take down a werewolf.
- Silver proves to have mystic powers for a race of malevolent alien clouds in an episode of Underdog. Why do they want all the Earth's silver? Because every cloud really must have a silver lining.
Other / Multiple Media
- Conan the Barbarian stated that the only weapons effectives against demons are silver and fire. He later used a huge candelabra made of silver to smash a demon and make it fall in a fire.
- In the LARP "The Realms," Silver is a weapon enhancement which is noted in the rulebook to have enhanced effects against certain types of beings.
- In The Witcher verse, witchers typically carry a silver sword to deal with monsters. Do note that these silver swords are not made of pure silver but are either made from steel and silver-plated, or made from one of a multitude of silver-based alloys, in order to make the swords manageable.
- From a Magical Metals list found on the Net
Silver: The metal of the moon, silver is well-known for being able to ignore lunar-based defensive powers such as those of lycanthropy. Unlike gold, silver will tarnish readily unless protected, but it needs no special preparation for most magical uses. Awakened, 3 ounces of silver (6 quantities for enchanting purposes) will grant moderate bonuses to divinations and magical wards it is used in. Unfortunately, silver is also strongly attuned to goodness and purity, it does not readily tolerate evil enchantments, having a marked tendency to decay into iron should the evil continue to be forced into it, though the presence of blue sapphire will aid the metal in resisting wickedness, and emeralds will weaken the silver if set in it. Like gold, but to a much weaker degree, silver can provide support for a spell, and also like its yellow cousin, it requires strengthening for physical reasons if used in weapons and armor. A wide selection of alloys can be made using silver, many exhibit varying degrees of tolerance for magical lightning, a quality the pure metal does not seem to have. Quite a few spells utilize the innate goodness of silver to strike out at evil, generally this does not harm the metal in the least.