The Superstition Episode
is centered around some sort of unlucky superstition or superstitions.
Maybe it's Friday the Thirteenth
. Maybe a character accidentally breaks a mirror and freaks out
about the seven years of bad luck that they’re sure will follow. Maybe a skeptical character
pets a black cat or walks under a ladder to prove such silly superstitions aren't true. In any case, that character will be plagued by bad luck for the rest of the episode. The character may insist their extreme bad luck is merely a coincidence
, or they may be superstitious from the start. Either way, there may be another character who disagrees, and debates with them about the validity of superstitions.
If worse comes to worse, their bad luck will spread to their friends. Then their superstitious friends may try to avoid them
or they will try to avoid their friends so they won‘t catch their bad luck
. At the end of the episode something will happen that convinces the character they never were or are no longer jinxed, and the bad luck will never come up again.
Though the bad luck often is treated as "real", subversions that attribute it to a mundane cause are common. If the characters have no way to tell if the it's a coincidence or not, the bad luck may be interpreted as Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane
The episode often mentions other unlucky superstitions or good luck charms such as the Four-Leaf Clover
or Lucky Rabbit's Foot
. May be started by a Bad Luck Charm
If a character just happens to be unlucky for an episode, that's not this trope. Neither is Not My Lucky Day
, for when a character just misses extreme good fortune, though they may overlap. For it to be a Superstition Episode
, the bad luck has to be remarked upon
and attributed to some sort of superstition. For characters who are chronically unlucky, see Born Unlucky
. Supertrope to Chain Letter
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- In an Iznogoud comic, Dilat Larat breaks a mirror over his head to free a guy from a curse. As a result, the guy is blessed with seven years of good luck and Dilat is cursed with seven years of bad luck (that only last for the remainder of the comic).
- Archie Comics:
- One where Betty notices it is Friday The Thirteenth, and prepares for it. Unknowingly, she set off Disaster Dominoes that missed her, but got everyone around her involved.
- There was one other, with Archie bringing misfortune on himself trying to avoid bad luck—and not being careful.
- Whether Donald Duck is actually unlucky or brings it all on himself varies Depending on the Writer; in one comic Donald is superstitious and that causes him to bring harm on himself (such as a Blind Shoulder Toss after spilling salt brings in an angry customer). In the end, his nephews tell him that the Aesop is "being superstitious is bad luck".
- Triplicate Girl of Legion of Super-Heroes became Duo Damsel when one of her three selves was killed by Computo the Conqueror. While this was a nightmarish trauma for her that took her years to recover from (and too afraid to fight Computo again), she was never surprised; she had used her power three times that day, something that is considered bad luck on her planet. (Note that her third body was actually Not Quite Dead, and recovered with Braniac-5's help.)
- In Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #7, Lois wears an Egyptian hat as part of a story debunking superstitions. It seemingly causes her to contract the ability to kill with a kiss. (It was really a trick on the part of one of Metropolis' criminals.)
- There's a The Baby-Sitters Club book where Mary Anne thinks she's gotten a bad luck charm. It turns out some cruel girls just told her it was bad, and were using it as an excuse to play pranks on her.
- One of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch tie-in novels had characters who interacted with and then lost a lucky rabbit's foot have a run of extreme bad luck that gets progressively worse.
- A running gag in Ape Not Monkey (for example, the short arc starting here) is for Toby to try and discredit some superstition or other, only to be hit by a "coincidental" strike of bad luck.
- In Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, there was an episode pertaining to all the bad luck. At the end of the episode, with the girls' bad luck beginning with a misread legend, Yumi calculates that they gained 199 years of bad luck in a single day. Fortunately, when the legend is read correctly, they realize they actually gained a hundred years of good luck, then lost 99 of them. (The trio doesn't see that the day is Friday the 13th, presumably causing them to lose the one they have left and break even.)
- In the Code Lyoko episode "Hard Luck", Odd accidentally breaks a mirror. Ulrich tells him he'll get seven years of bad luck. Odd doesn't believe it and rants about how various superstitions are ridiculous. However, a series of unfortunate events plague him and eventually the rest of the team starts to consider him bad luck. At the end of the episode Odd finally admits he is jinxed, only for Aelita to tell him jinxes don't exist and he has to wait for his luck to change. It does.
- In an episode of Totally Spies!, Alex breaks a mirror and is convinced she'll have seven years of bad luck. Sam and Clover try to convince her otherwise, but unlucky things keep happening to her and she tries to quit being a spy so she won't hold them back. In the end Sam and Clover walk Alex under a ladder, telling her that the two forms of bad luck cancel each other out. Then Alex is back to normal, but Sam and Clover become unlucky.
- In an episode of The Wild Thornberrys, Eliza befriends an aye-aye who she insists isn't the cause of the bad luck that plagues her, calling that a silly superstition like walking under ladders, while she walks under a ladder.
- In the Hey Arnold! episode "Friday the Thirteenth", it's Friday the thirteenth and Arnold's and Gerald's families insist they carry around good luck charms and avoid unlucky things. Arnold and Gerald try to prove superstitions are false, but end up with bad luck. Because Wolfgang gave it to them.
- On one episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger breaks a mirror in Rabbit's home, and Rabbit tells him that means seven years bad luck. Tigger dismisses it, as it wasn't his mirror that broke, and he tries to help Rabbit avoid bad luck, which just results in Rabbit getting one misfortune after another. Eventually, it's revealed that the mirror belonged to Pooh, so Tigger tries to help him avoid bad luck, with the same results. Eventually, after everyone but Tigger suffers from bad luck, it become apparent that Tigger is the one who is unlucky, so he's cast out. The others feel sorry for him and reverse the bad luck by "fixing" the mirror (taping a picture of Tigger onto the mirror so that he thinks it's his reflection).
- The Donald Duck cartoon "Donald's Lucky Day": Donald is a courier delivering a package on Friday 13, and a radio broadcast on the subject puts him on edge. First he narrowly avoids going under a ladder, which leads him to crash into a mirror. Then he finds a black cat trying to cross his path, and spends most of the cartoon trying to elude it. And for added suspense, the package is a Time Bomb.
- In Arthur Brain gets so sick of a conversation on superstition brought on by inane Baseball rituals that he attempts to prove bad luck wrong by repeatedly ducking under a ladder, dancing on the pavement crack and breaking a mirror. Bad luck ensues. He tries to fix his bad luck by bringing a bag carrying good luck charms around with him all the time. At the end of the episode, he finds he's been carrying around the wrong bag, but everyone considers the sports clothes inside instead to be other good luck charms.
- There was an episode of Doug that invoked this. Doug seemed to have a lucky streak at winning games against his crush, Patti. After she gets ticked off about it, he tries to break his luck by breaking a mirror, running under ladders and doing his weird ritual involving mashed potatoes. Afterward, he is having all sorts of bad luck, but since he wants to lose a game against her, it would be good luck for him to lose, and his winning streak continues.
- The Noveltoons short "The Stupidstitious Cat". A very superstitious cat wants a bird for breakfast, and Buzzy the Crow is targeted. Buzzy uses the cat's superstition to outwit the cat. Buzzy then freaks out when he discovers it's friday the thirteenth.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures episode "Tough Luck", the Chan family receives a cursed Irish emerald that gives the owner bad luck. The only way to nullify the curse is to return the emerald to its tomb in Ireland, or for someone to receive it willingly. Having it stolen, however, leaves the curse with you.
- An episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy features Eddy being plagued by a cursed telephone. The worst part of it is, the bad luck is afflicted on him even if someone else answers it.
- A sort of version occurs in The Penguins of Madagascar. Rico gets a fortune saying he will meet a foul end. Skipper assures him that it's just a superstition. Julien, wanting Rico to believe the fortune, sets up a bunch of incidents to make Rico believe he's having bad luck. it later turns out that meeting a foul end meant that a duck (waterfowl) would crash down on him, meeting its "end".
- The Regular Show episode "Fortune Cookie" shows Benson getting a streak of good luck, while Rigby gets the opposite. When the group visits a Chinese restaurant and Benson gets a fortune of good luck while Rigby gets the opposite, Rigby becomes jealous and switches the fortunes when Benson's not looking. Benson reads his new fortune, which predicts bad luck, and mindlessly discards it. The rest of the episode shows Benson on a streak of bad luck, with Rigby getting the opposite.
- It's a one-shot, but the Tex Avery short Bad Luck Blackie is about a kitten who enlists the help of a black cat to give bad luck to the bulldog that kept tormenting it.
- The first act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Bad Luck Bogus" dealt with Bogus getting an overwhelming streak of bad luck after inadvertently breaking the bathroom mirror whilst trying to get rid of his overbearing Aunt Bogunda (An Expy of Mrs. Marcus, no less). Because of that, Bogus finds himself at the receiving end of all of kinds of unusual incidents, ranging from getting smacked by a sentient tube of toothpaste, slipping on a bar of soap, and not to mention being menaced and tormented by a huge and rather ugly lookalike that somehow entered the house by use of the broken mirror (The mirror acts as a portal to Bogus's homeland called Bogusland).
- An episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series featured an experiment named Shoe, who causes nothing but bad luck. At the end, the characters discover that he can be set to cause good luck instead.
- Parodied heavily in the episode "Superstitious Stimpy", where Ren ends up with a lot of bad luck for ridiculing superstitions on Tuesday the Seventeenth, but becomes a Skeptic No Longer once he finds out that he was born on that day, prompting them to try various insane ways to cure him of his "bad juju".
- The Smurfs had a few of them. One was where Clumsy accidentally broke Vanity's mirror and thought he brought seven years of bad luck on himself, and another was where the Smurfs thought Papa Smurf turned into a frog because he made that kind of wish at a so-called wishing tree.
- Rocko's Modern Life had an episode where Filbert is selected to appear on a game show for a chance to win a new house. Then he goes to a Chinese restaurant and receives a fortune cookie saying "BAD LUCK AND MISFORTUNE WILL INFEST YOUR PATHETIC SOUL FOR ALL ETERNITY". The rest of the episode is centered on the poor turtle attracting a horde of black cats, walking under ladders, breaking an entire store worth of mirrors, and repeatedly receiving the same horrible fortune after opening an entire bag of fortune cookies. When he actually makes it onto the game show, his bad luck causes the giant wheel to unbolt and lay waste to half of O-Town...but then it rolls back to the studio and lands on 'WINNER'.
- In the Popeye short "I Don't Scare", Bluto takes advantage of Olive Oyl's superstitious behavior to sabotage her date with Popeye.