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The Corruption
The itsy bitsy symbiote crawled up the spider's arm...

"Don't you feel the power? Soon everything will be corrupted. Including you."
Ghor, Metroid Prime 3

A variation on The Virus with elements of The Dark Side, the Corruption is a force of chaos that gives some of its victims a Superpowered Evil Side before (or while) it mutates them into mindless monsters. The Body Horror transformation progresses gradually, and the final result tends to be a hideous, slithering creature which looks like the spawn of an Eldritch Abomination, an Enemy to All Living Things capable of inflicting the Corruption on any creature falling into its tentacled clutches.

In the standard plotline, it will usually infect The Hero at some point. While seeking to cure himself, the infected hero must struggle with malign influence and limit use of the evil powers granted by the Corruption, since using them tends to corrupt him further.

This often works by an interesting rule: Mooks and Red Shirts tend to be turned into raving, mindless beasts/monsters. If the hero or the villain catches it, they get Cursed with Awesome superpowers. Heroic Willpower is probably the reason for this temporary(?) emotional stabilization. Named villains and extras will usually give in to it much more quickly for the powers, and quickly betray humanity because of it. Expect them to get Drunk on the Dark Side and suffer a Super Power Meltdown because of it. Remember, Evil Is Not a Toy.

Nastier versions require a Mercy Kill. They may, in Dying as Yourself, recover just a few moments, but only if mortally wounded. Contrast with Power Degeneration, where the cause of eventual death is overuse of superpowers, or simply having them.

In video games, a Nonstandard Game Over may occur when the player is corrupted too much. You can tell you're getting too close to the edge if the PC gets Tainted Veins and Undeathly Pallor.

Compare with With Great Power Comes Great Insanity and Evil Makes You Ugly. Contrast The Corrupter, who also does their best to turn other characters evil, but is also a character in their own right, rather than an impersonal force. Usually represented visually by gaining Volcanic Veins, a Red Right Hand, and a Game Face or even a full on Slow Transformation.

Due to the Body Horror involved, it's a potent source of Nightmare Fuel.

Not to be confused with the third game in the Metroid Prime trilogy (even though it uses this trope as a critical story element).


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: Hollowfication is the insertion of Hollow reiryoku into a Shinigami soul and blending it with their original reiryoku to grant the Shinigami a massive power boost. However, the process also destroys their sense of self and eventually causes their soul to self-destruct unless given a vaccination derived from Human and Quincy reiryoku. Those who survive the process can learn how to master their hollowfication by defeating the Anthropomorphic Personification of their Superpowered Evil Side. However, Quincies have no natural defense against hollow taint and will die unless given a vaccination of Human and Shinigami reiryoku.
  • In Claymore, being turned into a Claymore is much like this. In fact one of the requirements for being a Claymore is heroic will power, without it you lose control of the power and Awaken into an extremely powerful monster.
  • In Freezing, the Stigma that grants the Pandoras the amazing powers they use to fight against the Novas is essentially Nova tissue. The risk of the Corruption taking over a Pandora is actually pretty low since Pandoras only have a few Stigmas attached to them. The people in charge of Pandora development came up with this policy after one Pandora with about twenty Stigmas fell victim to the Corruption and became a Nova. This Pandora was the protagonist's older sister, Kazuha. Since Kazuya has a similar "Stigma body" (the reason he can use "Freezing" without first forming a bond to a Pandora), Yumi Kim is concerned that he might suffer the same fate. The Novas can also force the Corruption to take over the Pandoras by eating them.
    • And now the people in charge want to see if the Corruption can be controlled and weaponized after the main character forced herself into Nova Mode and managed to bring herself back. Two Pandora veterans are horrified at this idea as they saw what happened to the aforementioned Pandora with the twenty Stigmas.
  • Happens to Yomi in Ga-Rei at least a couple of times, because a Sesshouseki possessed her.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry plays around the cause and effect Hinamizawa Syndrome is just a parasite that attacks the frontal lobe, so the afflicted becomes a very angry schizophrenic, with super strength Born Of Madness. It also makes them hear the desperate pleas of the local deity but that's hardly a power up at all.
  • In King of Thorn, Medusa usually causes the victim to be Taken for Granite. However, in certain people it brings on other types of Body Horror: a Lovecraftian Superpower at best, a One-Winged Angel at worst.
  • An episode of Kirby of the Stars featured the titular pink blob possessed by a corruption-inducing frog. The result was not pretty.
  • Nanoha Force has the Eclipse virus (which is not The Virus, despite its name), which grants the infected Anti-Magic and insane regenerative powers, at the price of slowly losing their sanity unless they regularly kill people. And that's only if you're lucky. Most people that are exposed to it just die.
  • Magical Project S - Pixy Misa is a part of Misao that she's not aware of, and gradually is growing stronger. After The Big Reveal and Journey To The Center Of The Mind, they start to integrate.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!'s Black Magic seems to be like this, giving superpowers while slowly turning poor Negi into a demon, with side effects of acute magical poisoning from the negative emotions it enhances; the further the poisoning and transformation progress, the more the Power Incontinence springs up. Played with in that he doesn't really mind, citing that he's "too upbeat" for it to kill him with negative emotion poisoning, and he already knows at least one literal Noble Demon.
  • Dark chips in MegaManNTWarrior.
  • In Naruto, the cursed seals, Sasuke's being a prominent example.
  • In Pokémon Special, just touching the Red and Blue Orbs will potentially turn you mindlessly insane, and holding them for too long will cause you to become crazy psycho-killers under the control of Groudon and Kyogre, with the Orbs themselves fusing into your body. Ruby and Sapphire had to train their minds so that they would not succumb to this fate.
    • A very similar thing happens in the Pokémon anime, too. The Blue and Red Orbs also absorb into whoever holds them for long enough. Pikachu becomes possessed by the Blue Orb, which causes him to go insane and electrocute everyone around him and obsess over helping Groudon defeat Kyogre. Archie also gets possessed by the Red Orb.
  • The plot of Princess Mononoke begins when Ashitaka is attacked and infected by a corrupted boar-god. While Walking the Earth, he discovers that his infected arm has supernatural strength and a will of its own.
  • The Raven's blood in Princess Tutu acts this way. It appears that Raven's blood grants those who are affected with it dark powers, but also twists their personality to be crueler and more selfish. Prolonged exposure ends with them turning into anthropomorphic crows and being completely under the control of the Raven himself.
  • When a Magical Girl uses her magic in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, her Soul Gem darkens. She must take a Grief Seed and use it to cleanse the gem, because if she doesn't, the Soul Gem will keep getting darker...until it eventually darkens completely and becomes a Grief Seed itself, resulting in the magical girl becoming a Witch herself. The worst part? No matter how long they do it, all magical girls will eventually fall to the corruption, becoming witches. Also, since the darkness in the Soul Gem appears to be grief, a Magical Girl who fails to cleanse hers will become gradually more and more desperate and broken until her eventual transformation. The only way to stop it? Either die before this can happen, or use your wish to destroy the Corruption and ensure that no one has to become a Witch (this latter one requires phenomenal magical potential since it alters the very laws of the universe).
  • An odd case in Rosario + Vampire: vampire blood injected into a wounded person will at first heal them and temporarily grant them vampiric powers, but repeated doses will begin to eat away at their body and mind. The result isn't pretty.
  • The Black Blood is used in Soul Eater to create an Eldritch Abomination. It infects the Dark Magical (insert gender here) and the two lead characters, radically increasing their power and risk of explosive insanity.
    • Strong manifestations of insanity such as powerful potential Kishin and Asura, the real deal, can even warp the minds of others. However, you're more likely to just hallucinate and be prone (or in Stein's case, more prone) to acts of violence. Running into one of them, namely the Clown, is one of the possible explanations for the Face Heel Turn of Justin Law. If so, and if it sticks, it'd be the first proper example of Stein's claim that "insanity is contagious" and that Asura's wavelength can corrupt previously normal people.
  • In Umi Monogatari, Sedna's influence is signified by too-bright or red eyes.
  • Uzumaki… good lord. The spirals are coming to turn you into a snail...
    • Gyo. GYAAAAH. you mean GASHUNK
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, half the people get corrupted in one form or another. The Seal Of Orichalcos is the best example, with it corrupting monsters even, giving them red eyes, an evil grin, and 500 extra attack points, and making the holograms real, among other things.
    • Yugi plays the Seal during one match, proving that he can be a mean little bugger... It was implied that it could well have been an act. Yugi was putting on to force Yami out of the mental rut he'd gotten into in Yugi's absence.
    • The Light of Destruction in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. It's responsible for corrupting the big bads of season 2 and 3.
    • Numbers do this to their owners in Yu Gi Oh ZEXAL. Number Hunters need magical or technological aid to resist their influence (like the Emperor's Key in Yuma's case, or the Photon Transformation in Kaito's).

    Comic Books 
  • Donna Troy after she's bitten by her own dead infant son in Blackest Night.
  • In Marvel UK's Captain Britain, the superhero-killing machine the Fury repairs itself with organic material— and anyone unlucky to have contact with it in its fix-up mode gets infected with its Nanomachines (though the term wasn't used back then) and turned into a monstrosity. Unusually for this trope, it didn't make you evil, just insane, hideously deformed, and easily mistaken for the Fury in a world where superheroes were trying to destroy said machine on sight.
  • Jackie Estecado is the receiver of this in the appropriately-named comic The Darkness.
  • In Valiant Comics' The Legend of Zelda, the Triforce of Power was like this as it started turning Link into a Ganon-like creature once he took possession of it. As Zelda pointed out, Power without Wisdom means nothing and unwilling to become another Ganon even though he expected giving up the Triforce of Power to kill him, Link tossed it. The power of the Triforce of Courage ended up restoring him to normal when it decided to reclaim him for getting rid of the other Triforce.
  • The Technarch Transmode virus in Marvel, even in an otherwise benign symbiosis, such as between Warlock and Cypher, and works both ways; as the organic lifeform becomes techno-organic the infector becomes Magus, a more powerful entity hostile toward organic forms and it's own offspring.
  • Every time Spawn uses the powers being a Hellspawn grants him, he gets a little bit closer to completely losing his humanity and becoming the commander of The Legions of Hell.
  • In the IDW Transformers Ongoing series, one of the earliest Primes, "Nova Prime" became infected with a parasitic energy known as "The Darkness" that dwelt in the ominously named Dead Universe. It was unclear exactly how much of what he did was down to his own expansionist philosophies and how much was the result of the Darkness controlling him, but it was clearly sentient on some level.
  • Venom and other symbiotes from Spider-Man.

    Fan Works 
  • This is a main theme in the Legend of Zelda fanfic series, the Bound Destines Trilogy, and its especially prevalent in anything having to do with Link's character development across each story.
    • In Blood and Spirit this is one of the important subplots in the story. After receiving a wound in battle against the Fierce Deity, Link starts to be corrupted by Majora in the same manner as Terminus's hero was. However, thanks to his strong Heroic Spirit, Link is able to resist it a bit more effectively, though he still cannot fully get rid of it. And even despite his resistance, the demon constantly assaults the hero, physically and mentally as it tries to wear him down throughout the course of the story.
    • In Wisdom and Courage, this theme is toned down a bit, but still present. Not confident that he will be able to face Veran in battle and win, Link turns to the Fierce Deity's Mask to grant him more power, despite the fact that he is warned that it could overtake his mind and spirit. And, when he puts the mask on for the first time in the story in chapter 29, he almost does lose himself to it, only to be brought back to his senses at the last minute by Zelda. However, due to Veran effectively breaking him by seeming to kill Zelda in front of him in chapter 33, he is apparently corrupted for a short time, until his spirit begins to fight back against the mask's influence and he is actually able to use its power to defeat Veran once and for all.
  • The The Realm of Darkness is described as such in Clash of the Elements.
  • A very subtle application in Dungeon Keeper Ami. At first it seems to be merely the compromises Ami is forced to make - this Alternate Dimension is a rough place, even when one doesn't have both the Villains AND the Heroes after her. But slowly things like giggling in a creepy manner at inappropriate times, and clothing that spontaneously turns black and grows bat-motifs starts sneaking up on her...
  • The Nightmare forces to Luna in Equestria: A History Revealed. Of course, she was already toeing the line of evil before, but after seeking them out, they accelerated her fall. And they were responsible in helping her darkness win the battle in her heart and complete her transformation into Nightmare Moon.
  • The voice in Luna's head from The God Empress Of Ponykind. It convinces Luna that Celestia doesn't care for her and sidelines her to take all the glory for Herself. It turns out to be Tzeentch, who faked his death in a gambit to get rid of the Emperor.
  • The unnatural blend of light and dark magic that is Celestia's cutie mark spell in Act II of Legends of Equestria functions this way for the Everfree forest (where the spell was originally cast), corrupting it over time from a beautiful, peaceful place into a twisted shadow realm.
  • Most of the remnants of Nightmare Moon in Past Sins. The remnants that aren't? Those would be Nyx.
  • Dark Chaos Energy from Sonic X: Dark Chaos. The negative energy of the Emeralds of Power given physical form, it is a highly toxic blue substance that is extremely radioactive, highly corrosive, and mutagenic. It is capable of corrupting and twisting anything.

    Film 
  • The Doom movie has mutants as enemies. Turns out humanity originated on a once verdant Mars before fleeing to Earth via the Arc (Gate?). What were they fleeing from? Well, having used Genetic Engineering to make a new chromosome that made them superhuman, it turns out it also unleashed the evil in the "unmapped 10% of the Human Genome", making a few people into mutant monster that could infect others with same monstrosity. The hero turns into a Hero with extra strength and stamina, but the baddie slowly mutates into a much more Bad Ass villain while normal civilians and soldiers turn to slobbering monsters. Turns out Rousseau was wrong, evil really is In the Blood.
  • Seth Brundle brings the Corruption down on himself in The Fly when he merges with a fly during the test of his teleportation device.

    Literature 
  • In The Dresden Files, there are the Thirty Coins, the Blackened Denarii. They are the very coins used to pay Judas Iscariot for his betrayal, and each one is now host to a bound Fallen Angel. They cannot affect the world until some mortal touches them, but at that point a variety of unpleasantness can ensue. They are very corruptive, avatars of Hell on Earth.
    • Also, in "Cold Days", we find a much more sinister form of corruption from The Outsiders has affected some powerful magical beings.
    • The Fae Mantles also have this effect on their hosts, slowly changing them into their predecessors.
  • The Shadow Plague from the Fablehaven series.
  • In Keys to the Kingdom, if Arthur uses the Keys too much, he will be permanently transformed into a Denizen, due to "sorcerous contamination".
    • According to the 6th book, he is past the point of no return. This could be considered Cursed with Awesome, however, considering that it helps him survive such events as getting shot in the side of the head and being dissolved by Nothing.
  • The Rings of Power in The Lord of the Rings. The more you wear one, the more it corrupts you. Gollum was a normal hobbit once and the Ringwraiths were human kings. This only applies to the rings that Sauron helped make, however, and only to humans or closely related races like the hobbits. Dwarves are just too bloody stubborn to corrupt (they turn really greedy instead), while Sauron never touched the elven rings and they are thus not subject to his taint. Tom Bombadil is immune to the ring's effects because he has absolutely zero interest in anything outside his little part of Middle Earth. The Ring was even a temptation to beings like Gandalf and Galadriel, who both implored Frodo not to offer it to them.
    • This is likely why Gandalf wanted to recruit the folk of the Shire in the first place. Hobbits seemed very resistant to the effect, possibly due to their innocent nature. The Ring's effect on Bilbo was minimal (although it did make him the longest-lived hobbit in history) and Frodo was able to successfully resist its power until the climax of the story. Even Gollum is shown still having a good side which can be coaxed out despite the extremely long time the Ring was in his possession.
  • Paradise Lost: Gustav Doré's illustrations show Satan's progressive shift from Fallen Angel to Devil. During the flashbacks he appears like a normal angel, albeit with a Horned Hairdo. In hell, his wings molt and become batlike, and on his way to earth he begins removing his angelic armor, eventually stripping naked. By the end, he's Jumped Off The Slippery Slope and become the traditional Big Red Devil in mind and body.
  • The Parrish Plessis series has the Eskaalim parasite. It grants a bounty of powers to the infected: Healing Factor, Feel No Pain, Voluntary Shapeshifting, and more. By the time you've allowed it to advance that far, you're no longer in the driver's seat, and it's too late to do anything about it...
  • In The Prince of Thorns, the Nominal Hero Jorg gets wounded with a necromancy dagger, which gives him Tainted Veins and restricted Necromantic ability. In the second book, he learns that this corruption makes him less and less human and brings him closer to being assimilated by The Dead King, the most powerful necromancer who has already subjugated most others.
    • Then, he gets a shard from a Fire Mage Gog in his body and this also leaves him vulnerable to possession from Ferrakind, Dead King’s fire equivalent. eventually he manages to deal with it by over-using both of his powers at the same time, which forced the two energies to fight against each other until they both got eliminated from his body.
  • In Those That Wake, hopelessness corrupts people and lets Man in Suit influence and control them.
  • In Voyages Of The Flying Dragon there’s the Wasteland Taint, which makes the earth itself look discoloured and diseased, and the air also gets infected until it gets to certain height above the ground. The only plants growing there become harsh and metallic, while all the animals become hollow and mindless versions of themselves, known as Demons. Humans simply get sick and die, however.
    • Late in the first book, it is revealed that Taint is the result of Earth’s power being depleted due to the industrial overuse of Elemental Bestia and is used by the Demon King to turn all other creatures against humanity, which is likely why humans don’t survive to demonhood.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, the aspirants are warned they can become "wulfen", wolf-like creatures. One does. Ragnar has to kill it. It speaks his name and dies. Only then does he learn it had been his best friend Kjel.
    • In Lee Lightner's Wolf's Honour, all the Space Wolves are threatened by its taking over.
    • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Deus Encarmine, many of the Blood Angels succumb to their "flaw" and begin to hallucinate that they are fighting the final battle between their primarch, Sanguinius, and Horus, and so become The Berserker; all of them are tempted by it, every fight, though Rafen notices that this time, it struck with uncommon quickness, among veterans.
    • In Deus Sanguinius, at the climax, Rafen succumbs to this; on the other hand, it does unlock the powers of the Spear of Telesto for him, and the daemon he fights is shocked to see that the many futures in which Rafen failed instantly vanish. Then the spear protects him. When the dying daemon unleashes it in the other Blood Angels, they terrify their enemies, who retreat although they never retreat, and the spear even lets Rafen bring back his battle brothers who had succumbed.
  • Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time novels had not one but two examples. Mordeth lurks in the ruins of Shadar Logoth offering gifts to visitors, which will corrupt them with the genocidal madness that destroyed his city and lead them to infect everyone close to them. And the Dark One occasionally "blesses" some of his followers with access to the True Power, a powerful destructive force which happens to be massively addictive and drives those who use it too often violently insane.
    • And that's without getting into his spiteful counterstroke as he was (re)sealed into Shayol Gul: he tainted saidin (men's magic) so that using it drove male Aes Sedai (the only legal order of magic) insane. This caused the Breaking of the World since the more they used saidin, the more it broke their minds, and since magic in this setting is already somewhat addictive, and most people start off not realising what, how or why weird things happen around them, male channellers tend to wind up nutso relatively fast. There's a reason the Red Ajah exists. Not anymore. Nyneave, Rand and friends removed the taint from saidin.
  • In Pact, this is what separates demons from other supernatural beings, many of whom are equally malevolent, and leads to diabolists (demon summoners) being hated and feared. Demons generate a taint, explicitly compared to radiation, which affects those around them, and in turn spreads to those that they interact with. Depending on the specific nature of the demon, the effects can be different, but they can turn animals hostile around them and drive people to violence. The taint is near-impossible to contain or avoid, so diabolists tend to spread it as they go-and whatever the effects are are always detrimental to human life, if to varying degrees.

    Live-Action TV 
  • At the end of season four of Supernatural, Castiel tells Dean that consuming enough demon blood to kill Lilith will permanently mutate Sam into a monster. Possibly, God cleaning it out of his system prevented this.
    • In the finale of season 6, Castiel has turned evil and absorbs the souls of Purgatory into himself upon which he declares himself the new God. In the first episode of season 7, he goes around killing corrupt and wicked people on a massive scale to prove his "godhood", but it eventually turns out that he's also hosting far older, nastier entities who are corrupting him. His body slowly degrades and mutates and he gets temporarily taken over to perform indiscrimate massacres, ending with being totally under their control after he loses the souls. His body goes through a meltdown under the strain, and the monsters escape out into the world.
  • Walter Sykes from Warehouse 13 was once a nice kid who found a bracelet that let him walk (he's crippled from the waist down). Unfortunately the bracelet's trade-off for giving something is to make one unable to feel true happiness or love, causing the person who uses it to become a sociopath addicted to the bracelet's power. Artie thought that he had gotten the bracelet away from Sykes before the corrupting influence took hold only to discover years later that he was too late.

    Mythology 
  • In Greek Mythology, although intended as a punishment from which humanity would learn, the Miseries sealed in Pandora's urn wound up being this instead. They turned all of humanity save Deucalion and his family into irredeemable monsters. And thus, the Great Flood.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Aberrant, White Wolf's superhero RPG, had Taint. The explanation was that the human body, even with the extra lobe and all, just wasn't suited to channeling the raw energies of the universe; channeling too much could affect your body in strange ways. It might start with glowy eyes and a strange timbre to your voice, but it would eventually grow into permanent stone skin, a short-range radiation effect... oh, and insanity. Thing is, to get to the true "break the universe" levels of power, you had to take Taint...
  • Blue Rose has an actual mechanic named Corruption. How does it work? If you get corrupted, the more corruption you have and the more deliberating effects your character suffers. Get too much and it will kill you. But you can embrace corruption, in which cause you instead get buffed. The more corrupted you are, the more POWER you have!
  • Call of Cthulhu may have been the original game to use this concept, with the Sanity score. The more you learn about the Cthulhu Mythos, the more effective a monster-hunter and magician you become... and the lower your Sanity drops until you eventually Go Mad from the Revelation and join the forces of the old ones.
  • In Changeling: The Lost, one possible fate for changelings (given the toolbox nature of the game) is to turn into True Fae as they reach the zenith of their power (which is inevitably followed by the nadir of their Clarity).
  • Eden Studio's Conspiracy X has the "Seepage" phenomenon, which occurs from dealing with the supernatural. When it corrupts a character, they start going insane. Continued exposure to seepage will at best turn your character into a babbling wreck, at worst it turns them into one of the things they were hunting.
  • Dark Heresy has this as a game mechanic called Corruption Points. If you accumulate too many, you start to mutate...
  • In The Dresden Files RPG players have to spend precious refresh points to gain new abilities, and when the refresh rate hits zero the character becomes so corrupted by power that they become unplayable. Interestingly, these abilities need not be supernatural and are sometimes forced upon characters who act in certain ways. A wizard breaking one of the laws of magic, for instance, must buy the Lawbreaker ability.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition sourcebook Oriental Adventures featured "Taint" as an effect of spending time in the Shadowlands or interacting with its natives. It came back as a setting-generic version in the 3.5 supplements Unearthed Arcana and Heroes of Horror: Taint slowly corrupts anyone who stays in a tainted area, performs evil actions, or is unlucky enough to fight a monster with the bestow taint ability. As your Taint score climbs, you go mad, endure horrific transformations, shift alignment to evil, and eventually turn into either a psychotic killer or a psychotic killer monster, at which point you roll up a new character.
    • Heroes of Horror even includes Prestige Classes with a Taint Score requirement. They are all either about embracing corruption or accepting that its destructive power is inevitable — but not going down without a fight.
    • Ravenloft has Powers checks: every time a character does something sufficiently wicked to call the attention of the Dark Powers of the demiplane, they may reward him with a special ability, which only serves to accelerate his damnation. Fail enough Powers checks to commit an Act of Ultimate Darkness and you end up a mockery of your former self, trapped forever in a domain of your own making.
  • Fittingly, this is a major part of Eldritch Skies: Hyperspatial Exposure allows one to tap into Psychic Powers and Functional Magic at initial infection. Higher levels cause hallucinations, increased attention from the Eldritch Abominations that live in hyperspace, and Blue and Orange Morality. Maximum levels cause horrific mutation, and at that point, you can't reverse it.
  • Exalted has three examples, which, in true Exalted style, has only one that is played straight.
  • This is the nasty downside of using arcanowave technology from Feng Shui, which is made of demons and Black Magic. Every time you use it, it sends bent magic into your system like a virus. If you use it too much, you start mutating into something horrific and run the risk of becoming an Abomination, one of the altered demons that the Buro, the government of the 2056 juncture where this technology hails, uses to fight its wars.
  • In Geist The Sin Eaters, Sin Eaters turn into Meat Puppets if they come Back from the Dead one time too many,.
  • Rather than having a special stat for corruption, GURPS cuts out the middleman and gives you disadvantages worth some number of character points, in proportion to the evilness of whatever's corrupting you this week.
  • The Possessed (from Inferno) turns into the embodiment of their Demon's Vice, and so on.
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, the Shadowlands is a vast wasteland infected with the evil of the hellish realm of Jigoku. Prolonged exposure to this evil realm infects living things with the Shadowlands Taint. Even the slightest scratch by anything in or from the Shadowlands can infect someone. The Taint causes increased strength, speed and reflexes along with psychological changes such as violent outbursts and paranoia. Even when killed, a Tainted body often becomes re-animated as a zombie. What few 'cures' exist are usually fatal and are more concerned with the well-being of one's soul than one's mortal body.
    • To a lesser extent, many of the spirit realms have their own versions of the Taint, referred to as "Control," on those who visit them for an overly long time. Taint is merely the most famous, but you can also end up with animal traits, or afflicted with a strange sense of mental chaos and prankster-ness.
    • The touch of the Lying Darkness also qualifies. Its effects can be incredibly powerful, allowing you to hide more effectively in the shadows and perform increasingly powerful darkness-related feats. However, in exchange, you lose your identity bit by bit, until you're faceless and have forgotten who you truly are.
    • Recently, madness has become another example, at least in the card game. The influence of the Mad Dragon P'an Ku has manifested itself in a few different ways in the card game - most prominently, the Fallen Keyword indicates a figure under the influence of madness (though in some cases these were hallucinatory versions from the dreams of P'an Ku IF he wasn't stopped) and Madness tokens, which could have various effects and lead to other such effects.
  • Nearly every single gameline in the New World of Darkness has Corruption in one form or another. Losing Morality is also a bit like this. You're less and less constrained by Morality as it falls, but if you hit zero, your character becomes unplayable. In fact, the Corruption is the gimmick of Cheiron Corporation's Hunters: they graft monster parts into their body. Squick.
    • The protagonists of the Old World of Darkness game Demon The Fallen have Torment, the spiritual residue of millennia in Hell. It afflicts all Fallen to some degree and can be used to supercharge a demon's powers, but doing so involves letting more Torment into your soul. It also acts as the game's Karma Meter: too much Torment turns you into a monster like the Earthbound.
  • Flux works a little like this in Promethean: The Created. It is the antithesis of the creative power Azoth, waiting for a Promethean who has become disenchanted with the Pilgrimage to stumble upon it. Its trademark "gift" is mutation, slowly turning the user into an inhuman form, though it also grants control over Pandorans, its "children". Prometheans refer to the slow dive into irretrievable Centimani as being "seduced by Flux".
  • In both D6 and D20 versions of Star Wars the RPG, PCs could acquire Dark Side points by using the Force for aggression or by committing evil acts. In the D6 version, acquiring too many made you lose your character. In the D20 version, it eventually reduced your stats.
    • In both d20 versions you can also lose a character with too many Dark Side points if the GM wants to run a light sided campaign, it's mentioned briefly in both rulebooks.
    • The Dawn of Defiance campaign has this as a rule. You cannot be dark side, period.
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 bring us Chaos, possibly the most developed and frightening example to date. It's ruled by the four gods of mutation, plague, debauchery, and bloodshed.
    • The gods Tzeench, Nurgle, Slaanesh and Khorne are descended from beings reflecting hope, determination, love, and honor respectively. The evil deeds and thoughts of the Warhammer galaxy's inhabitants spawned the overpoweringly evil versions of those beings that now rule the warp.
      • Warpstone is Chaos energy solidified into crystalline form, so while it's still as corruptive as true Chaos, it can also be used as Green Rocks by those blessed with either ignorance, a good sense of denial, or a willing embrace of Corruption.
    • And when we say most developed, we mean most developed. The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has a whole book on chaos taint, Tome of Corruption, including a D100 table for rolling up mutations, many of which have D10 to D100 tables of their own - of which 80% are a direct death sentence for your character either because they make him unable to live or because of the reactions of society. But it's certainly nice to have those tables...
    • Background material even establishes that mutation will occur faster or slower based on which god a mortal worships primarily. The followers of Tzeench (the Lord of Change) are most prone to bizarre mutations (the Thousand Sons Legion became haunted suits of Powered Armor trying to avoid Tzeench's mutation). Followers of Nurgle (God of Plague) are guaranteed to be wracked with numerous diseases constantly (The Plague Champion in Dawn of War II even mentions that his body is liquifying!), while followers of Slaanesh (Prince of Excess) and Khorne (the Blood God) mutate more slowly.
    • It says something about how nasty Tome of Corruption is that Black Crusade is actually Lighter and Softer, lacking pretty much all of the "Gotcha!" mutations, like Mindless, Chaos Spawn, Walking Head...
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • "The Fool" grabbed a random magical terminal seeking power, but ended up accessing "Spellbook of the Master", a high-level "Spellbook" that brings out anything in a Magician, ranging from their best to their worst. However, he unleashed and was consumed by extremely wicked magic inside "Spellbook of the Master", corrupting and transforming him into "Reaper of Prophecy". As a result, he went on a rampage.
    • "Dark-line Warrior Caingorgorm" may be intended to represent the state of "Crystal" after the final battle against "Gishki Zielgigas" and "Evilswarm Ouroboros" at the conclusion of the duel terminal storyline. With "Genesis Star God, Sophia" defeated, the united "Gem-Knights'" transformation into "Gem-Knight Master Diamond" is beginning to fall apart. In the midst of this, "Crystal" appears to have been corrupted by the remnants of the "Evilswarm" virus and has either taken control of "Diamond's" crumbling body or reassembled his damaged body using the remains of his fallen comrades.
    • Gishki Psychelone is an Verz/Evilswarm-infected Gishki Noelia.
  • This is generally how Magic: The Gathering treats Phyrexia, especially while its remnants invade and warp Mirrodin.
    • The Eldrazi have their own take on this.
  • The Exsurgent virus family in Eclipse Phase is both this and The Virus. Different strains can infect computers...or flesh...and the result is never, ever pretty, usually featuring Body Horror and always featuring Mind Rape. Oh, and they're very, very adaptive. Like, normal-viruses-on-crack adaptive. A digital strain can infect a nanofabricator, reprogramming it to produce biological and nanotechnological variants, which then go on to infect other beings and devices. Oh, and it can also be transmitted as pure sensory information, so you can get infected just by watching the wrong video, known as a basilisk hack. It comes in many variants, but as a rule, infection with any strain of Exsurgent is a death sentence. The Haunting and Mindstealer strains mentally convert their victims into pawns of the virus over the course of months and minutes, respectively, imbuing them with mind-breaking mental abilities and alien motivations. The Xenomorph strain acts much the same as the Haunting strain, but it transforms the victim's body as well. The only (relatively) benign strain is Watts-MacLeod, which confers Psychic Powers without any overt downside. Nevertheless, these infectees often begin having dreams of alien landscapes, strange urges and feelings, and even a sensation that something else is looking out from behind their eyes...
  • Wyrm taint in Werewolf: The Apocalypse corrupts a character's body and mind if left untreated. Gaia factions have rites for cleansing mild Wyrm taint, but severe Wyrm taint may necessitate an ordeal in Erebus.

    Toys 
  • Numerous substances and powers have this effect in BIONICLE. Infected masks, corrupted by the Makuta's shadow powers, turn anyone that wears them bad. Then, there is the poison of the Rahkshi Lerahk, which has the same effect. Shadow leeches, on the other hand, do not infect you with any substance, but rather suck away your inner "light", making your dark side grow stronger.
  • In Hero Factory, the villainous Meltdown developed an acidic substance which increased the anger in his targets, and got the better of Alpha Team Leader Preston Stormer, making him turn on his own men and his own advertising billboard.

    Video Games 
  • The Roguelike ADOM has several sources of corruption, including background chaos radiation which grows stronger as you approach the source (The Chaos Gate). Corrupted monsters may turn into writhing masses of primal chaos. A corrupted player will gain additional powers and be a writhing mass of Body Horror. Corruption-removal methods are the most sought-after thing in the whole game, because getting the full set of corruptions means you're close to an unavoidable Non-Standard Game Over.
    • And because some of the corruption side effects are really, really bad for your character. For instance, you can be drastically slowed down, instantly drain every magic wand you touch, poison everything you handle (including your own food and potions), and worst of all is the "unholy aura" one; everyone you meet, including powerful NPCs, will become hostile at the mere sight of you.
    • However, some corruptions grant you useful powers, and for several of the special endings, you need to be corrupted almost to the point of dissolution.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, we have a powerful, unpredictable magic known as Chaos in AdventureQuest Worlds. Chaos is a virus-like magical energy that can chaorrupt (short for chaos corrupt) objects and beings, and can also control their minds, making them Brainwashed and Crazy. This viral magic is controlled by the Big Bad, Drakath, and his Co-Dragons, the 13 Lords of Chaos.
    • Ledgermayne, the seventh Lord of Chaos, is chaos magic personified. To be fair, it was just a mass of mana floating in the Para-Elemental Plane of Magic when Drakath's chaotic influence gave it self-awareness. So much that Ledgermayne was uncontrollable, even by its own Truly Single Parent.
    • There's also the Chaos Shaper class, which players can buy after having had 15 months of membership in total. It lets them use the power of Chaos to land unpredictable effects on either themselves or their targets.
  • The Gohma in Asura's Wrath are stated as being corrupt impure beings that take the form of rocky and lava-esue animals. The strongest of them all are planet sized and can easily destroy planets casually, and nearly destroyed mankind. It took the combined power of Asura and the other deities to defeat them the first time around, but are hinted at making a comeback. It does, and the only way it is stopped is by Asura once again, who crushes the very essence of it's core.
  • Seithr in BlazBlue, a toxic substance spread over the world by the Black Beast when it attacked the world 100 years ago, renders most of the surface inimical to most life. Humans were forced to live in cities built at high altitudes to avoid succumbing to seithr poisoning. It's the Corruption since seithr is also the source of the setting's magic. The Ars Magus and Nox Nyctores used by most of the characters absorb seithr from their surroundings in order to use their abilities. The Kaka clan, including Taokaka, are able to tap into the seithr naturally with no apparent ill effects.
    • And then there's the Azure Grimoire, the most prominent Artifact of Doom in the series. Like the Nox, it also runs on seithr to function, unlike them however, it is a remnant of the aforementioned Black Beast and using it will slowly corrode the user's soul into another beast, and injuries through supernatural means are retained across timelines.
  • In Bloodnet, your hero is a vampire who has an instant-kill bite attack, but each use of it decreases his humanity a little and brings him closer to the Nonstandard Game Over (in addition to the normal decrease of his humanity with time).
  • Django gaining the ability to turn into a vampire in Boktai 2, at least storywise, has him completely lose control of himself and operate on instinct whenever he uses it, and has him at constant risk of losing himself to it permanently. Using the ability too many times will land you with a worse ending.
  • The Breach has the Yellow, claimed to be another dimension of sorts, although the exact details aren't clear. What is clear is that all people that are afflicted with it firstly die and become traditional zombies, then mutate further into all manner of creatures.
  • Ryu's "Dragon Mode" in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. The corruption accumulates slowly over the course of the game. If it reaches 100%, your game ends. Which you'll have to do for the final battle, anyway, ironically.
  • In Corpse Party, we have have the "darkening," in which the souls of anyone who completely loses hope of surviving in Heavenly Host Elementary are corrupted. Anyone afflicted with it essentially becomes an empty husk, rendering them beyond saving.
  • In Dark Earth, your character Arkhan is poisoned by a face full of liquid evil while on his very first day on his new job as a Guardian of the Flame, and starts to mutate into a creature of the Dark. You must help him find a cure before the transformation is complete. While one side-effect of the mutation is a Level of Badass, the more you use it, the more the mutation takes hold. When the mutation reaches 100%, you get a Non-standard Game Over.
  • The Technocyte virus in darkSector. The only reason that the protagonist has not gone insane is that because of a pre-existing condition, he cannot feel the pain that drives all other infected mad.
  • Darksiders II features Corruption, a force that can infect not only the living, but even the automatons of the Makers. The Corruption is ultimately destroyed throughout the universe when Death kills Absalom, the source of all Corruption.
  • Dark Souls has the Abyss. Most people who enter it simply die, but those who survive are driven violently insane and beyond reason, and often come out barely looking human anymore. Which is ironic, considering the Abyss was spawned from concentrated Humanity. Whether this is an inevitable consequence of Human power growing too great or if this is simply what happens when you can't control it properly is left ambiguous.
  • Dragon Age has the Taint, a disease/curse spread by Darkspawn blood. There's also the Blight, a physical manifestation of the taint upon the land, which spreads whenever they come up to the surface. It twists and corrupts all living organisms, mutating creatures into abominations such as blight wolves and ghouls (assuming the creatures manage to survive the initial phase of the infection in the first place). With each passing day, a blight grows, the earth itself withers and dies; the land is leeched of moisture, turning everything dry and brown. The sky fills with rolling, black clouds that block out the sun, making it easier for the darkspawn to surface. As this wasteland spreads, the corruption of the blight spreads with it, diseasing all in its path. And by "all" we mean "all"; as in, the corpses won't rot properly because even the bacteria responsible for decomposition are killed off. What makes it the Corruption is that Grey Wardens give in to it by drinking Darkspawn blood. This lets them sense Darkspawn, kill Archdemons permanently and avoid Ghoul-dom, at the cost of killing them a few decades later.
    • The Brood Mothers take this a step further: Human, elf, dwarf and qunari women are captured by the Darkspawn and force-fed Darkspawn blood. In order to survive they have to give in to the urge to eat the others which drives them mad and turns them into Brood Mothers
    • In the Warden's Keep DLC of Dragon Age: Origins, an old human mage does the most ingenious thing: he weaponizes the taint, creating an elixir which can give the player tainted blood-based powers. It's not pretty, ethical (or sane for that matter), but they are incredibly useful.
    • It got worse in the Dragon Age II DLC "Legacy" with The Reveal that Wardens don't die, but simply turn into ghouls when they hear the Calling. There is no avoiding ghoul-dom once the Taint enters a person's body and the Warden's unique version of the Taint simply delays the effects from becoming apparent by a few decades, hence why the Senior Wardens prefer to go out in a blaze of glory against the Horde before this happens. Larius, a former Commander of the Grey, was unlucky enough to survive long enough to turn and is now basically ignored by the Darkspawn.
  • The Corprus in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind kills plants, turns animals homicidal before slowly killing them, and mutates people into horrible, cancerous monstrosities. At the same time, the guy behind it is sending subliminal messages through dreams to random people, turning them into Mooks.
    • Naturally, it has some benefits as well, including immunity to disease and considerable toughness. Those corrupted by Corprus are alleged to be able to come back from the dead, too.
      • Even better, being infected with Corprus makes you immune to aging, which becomes a major factor in the main plot questline.
  • Imulsion in Gears of War infects anything organic that it touches, and gradually mutates it into a "lambent" form.
  • The black "mud", a literal manifestation of "all the world's evil", that flows from the corrupted Grail in Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero will maim, torture, and kill anything that touches it, and those who resist it from sheer willpower are either corrupted or disabled in some way. In the Heaven's Feel route of stay night, Sakura uses this power to overwhelm the majority of the Masters and Servants, taking Saber and Berserker back out to assist her genocidal rampage. This corruption was also the reason why Gilgamesh and Kirei managed to survive their "deaths" in Zero.
  • In the first few .hack// games, the ones where Kite was the protagonist, Kite has an ability called Data Drain (which causes the enemy to be weakened to a point where they are pretty easily killable) but using it causes Kite to risk infection from a computer virus, the very same virus that created Data Drain no less. If the infection reaches 100% then it's game over (the Data Drain is necessary to kill certain bosses in the main quest, but no infection is received from those bosses. It's also required to get "cores" which unlock story levels). In fact, as the % goes up, there's always a slight (increasing) chance of getting a game over. Not using it reduces the number.
  • Dark Eco in the world of Jak and Daxter.
    • The Dark Makers in Jak 3: Wastelander were once Precursors, but they were twisted by their exposure to it.
    • Jak fights against his own corruption in Jak II: Renegade after being pumped full of it by the Baron.
      Oracle: I sense there is a dark rage burning within you, and in time, it will destroy you with its madness. Only the last power of the Precursors can save you.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, utilizing your Drive Form repeatedly may result in Sora turning into his Anti-Form that resembles a feral Heartless. Although the form can fight with near limitless combos the lack of a finishing move means it can never be used to defeat a boss and the inability to control its appearance make it, for the most part, a penalty.
    • You take double damage and can't heal yourself while in this form.
  • The Taint of Lusternia is the effluence of an Eldritch Abomination. Those subjected to it lose their moral compunctions and become stronger, more intelligent, taller, and more demonic-looking; prolonged exposure exaggerates these characteristics further and can result in lichdom; and overdosing results in serious Body Horror. Gorgulu - the former ruler of Shallamar - is a good example of the latter.
  • Majin And The Forsaken Kingdom had The Darkness, which turns people into living tar monsters that can't be killed permanently. It also appears to warp their personalities in such a way that they serve the darkness without losing a twisted form of their own personality. Tepeu grows a tar coating from his feet up as he takes damage, though the majin can cleanse him any time they're not in combat.
  • Using Dark Chips in Mega Man Battle Network 5 will permanently reduce Megaman's maximum HP by 1 for each use. When his maximum HP hits 1, he becomes addicted to them and gains several new abilities.
    • The sequel series has "Noise". Noise, unlike other examples of this trope, isn't actively evil or even intelligent, just so chaotic that it seriously screws up any other EM waves (as well as biological systems) in high concentrations.
    • Mega Man ZX, courtesy of another scientifically-based (of sorts, just like the other examples above) Artifact of Doom, the original Biometal Model W. Model O seems to be this as well.
    • Mega Man Battle Network 6, where you can use your Beast Form(wolf or hawk depending on game) for three turns before it ends and you go into a weakened state. The trope comes into affect both in battle, where you lose control of Megaman if you enter Beast Mode again, and in the story, where Megaman several times nearly loses control to the beast.
    • Does Megaman X series ring a bell? Zero is practically a walking virus magnet.
  • The Metroid Prime series features this as a very prominent theme, having a highly toxic blue substance known as Phazon capable of corrupting everything, from small animals to entire planets. Throughout the games, Phazon takes over animals, metroids, highly advanced alien races, ghosts, machines, and entire planets, and takes sentient forms. The Chozo even refer to it as The Corruption.
    • Metroid Prime is set in the once paradisial planet Tallon IV, which was hit by a Phazon bearing meteorite known as a Leviathan around twenty years prior to the game. The resident naturalist Chozo tribe had to leave when the planet began falling apart due to Phazon corruption. Throughout the story, the player comes across several creatures infected by Phazon, most notably Elite Pirates, Fission Metroids and Metroid Prime itself.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Samus visits a second Leviathan-struck planet. Planet Aether became unstable due to the interaction between its own physical properties and those of Phazon, resulting in a permanent state of trans-dimensional flux that connected it with another version of itself, dubbed Dark Aether. Dark Aether is a barren wasteland full of Phazon, albeit not inhospitable, being inhabited by the Ing, which also have parasitic and corrupting abilities. Due to Space pirates being present in the planet, as well as the native Luminoth, the entire planet broke into a war of three opposing sides for survival. Several Aether creatures and those brought from Tallon IV by the pirates become victims of both phazon and ing corruption as well. Only one Ing was willing to touch Phazon without a middleman. That should have warned people.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption opens with attacks on three planets by Leviathans. Bryyo and Elysia are impacted by the meteorites, while Norion is saved in the last moment by Samus and the other hunters. In the process, all four hunters become infected with Phazon, and their bodies develop a tumor-like Phazon-producing gland that slowly corrupts them. The Galactic Federation decides to take advantage of the hunters' corruption by adapting their body suits with a phazon powered 'P.E.D.' weapons system. MP3 partially averts the mook-rule, as GF troopers can safely use phazon via tanksnote , while Samus is under serious threat of Terminal Corruption whenever she uses her P.E.D for extended periods. Her fellow hunters all fall victim to it. Samus is later sent to investigate the other attacked planets as well as the corrupted Space Pirate Homeworld and Phaaze, a seemingly sentinent planet entirely made of Phazon. With each main boss Samus beats, the resulting blast of Phazon energy further infects her, visualized by the tumor growing in her stomach. There are deformities on her face, can be seen reflecting in her visor, as well. By the end, one eye is completely black, one is bright "Phazon-blue", and there is a Phazon vein down the middle of her face. On Phaaze, her corruption grows so great her ship stops recognizing her, and she's forced to continually vent energy however she can to prevent the corruption from consuming her. If at any point she becomes fully corrupted, the game ends and she becomes a new Dark Samus.
  • The Spirit Eater affliction in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. The game's storyline branches depending on how you resist it/use it leading to multiple endings. In the best you're cured, in the worst you become a god-killing abomination and Bittersweet Endings are also available.
  • In Pandora's Tower, your character's Love Interest is infected with a curse that slowly turns her into a monster. It can be reversed by feeding her monster meat; the fresher the better, from dried out and rotten (worst) to still moving (best). The entire point of the game is to collect enough to fully cure her.
  • Shadow Pokemon from Pokémon Colosseum have their hearts closed. They get access to Shadow Rush (and good Shadow moves in the sequel, Pokemon XD). Also, in the sequel, all non-shadow Pokemon are weak to shadow attacks. They even get access to a super form, which can cause them to turn on their trainers and generally go insane. (In both games, a big part of the hero's mission is to rescue (or "snag") and then cure (or "purify") these Pokemon. In the sequel, however, a Shadow Pokemon is somewhat useful to have at times. Case in point, in the sequel, it is highly recommended that you use the Master Ball to snag Shadow Lugia from the Final Boss when you only have a team of five Pokemon, because he's almost impossible to defeat if you don't have it.)
  • GLaDOS' chassis in Portal 2 seems to cause any AI who is installed into it to become a testing-obsessed maniac. GLaDOS is notably nicer and saner after being removed from it, while Wheatley turns on Chell and starts trying to kill her after being placed in it. After GLaDOS is placed back in, she instantly turns back to being crazy and spares Chell only because she thinks killing her isn't worth the effort.
  • Prince of Persia (2008): Ahriman's essence - a black tar-like substance called corruption - is a bit of a subversion. While it drains the land of life around it, it also only afflicts people who made a pact with Ahriman. So really, if you become a Corrupted, it's your own fault.
    • Making a Deal with the Devil makes you into a more Badass corrupted and lets you keep some of your original personality. Just getting conquered by Ahriman or falling into the corruption turns you into a Mook version. Elika also mentions that some people who made deals just got turned into the mindless soldier version anyway.
  • The G-virus in Resident Evil works like this. William Birkin starts out with just an overgrown arm with claws, and ends up an amorphous mass of teeth, claws and tentacles. And eyes.
    • All the bosses in Resident Evil 5. Yes, includes Albert Wesker with the G-virus, Las Plagas and Ouroborous combinated in his body.
  • The Chimera in Resistance: Fall of Man utilize The Virus to transform humans into aliens and fight for your side. The protagonist of the game is also infected, but although he is mutated, he manages to retain his personality.
    • Resistance 2 reveals that he is not unique, but that all members of the special squad he's assigned to must regularly use suppressors to prevent them from becoming Chimera. These suppressors have side-effects, such as prolonged periods of psychosis.
  • The Dark Glass from Rise of Legends. It made the Dark Alin, which terrorized the Alin kingdom. In-game Dark Glass units have an attack which gives a permanent HP debuff.
  • Ryzom features a substance called the Goo, which is purple goo that spouts from fissures in the ground; the Goohead tribe abuse it as a psychedelic drug, the local wildlife becomes stronger and more hostile around it, and too high of a concentration of the stuff will cause you continuous damage while you're in the area.
  • The Secret World has the Filth, extradimensional black goo that seeps into this reality and does various horrible things to those who come in contact with it. Fortunately, the player character is immune thanks to the Bee inside them.
  • Done beautifully in Shadow of the Colossus. After every time you defeat a colossus, some weird dark tendrils come out and latch into The Wanderer. The effect is gradual enough that you don't notice how bad it's gotten until the final colossus, where (because of the wind and some camera close ups) you finally see how ragged and bad he looks, compared to the young man you started the game as.
  • In Space Quest 5, a failed experiment in genetic engineering creates the Puckoid plague that takes over at least one colony and the Confederation's flagship. It causes the infected beings to melt into primordial goo.
  • The Pox of LeChuck in Tales of Monkey Island. Whoever gets infected with this voodoo plague slowly loses their ability to reason and becomes more and more violent. It only seems to affect pirates for some reason, though.
  • Terraria the Corruption, Crimson, and Hallow biomes which infect 'pure' biomes such as a forest, desert, or jungle. The former two spawn Eldritch Abominations, while the last biome is a Crapsaccharine World. Before beating the Disc One Final Boss, these biomes can only spread across dirt, but afterwards, they spread much more aggressively, being easily able to corrupt half of the overworld before the defeat of another boss slows the spreading of these biomes.
  • Clive Barker's Undying: The undying curse. Not to mention just being near the Scythe of the Celt can cause someone to descend into bloodlust and madness.
  • Ember in Torchlight has this effect, granting magical power but at the risk of turning you evil.
    • Double-subversion; the ember itself wasn't corrupting, but the source of the Ember Blight was Ordrak, whose Heart continued to corrupt after his death. The Alchemist becomes obsessed with magical experiments on the Heart and Blighted Ember, succumbs to the corruption after donning armor made of it, and destroys Torchlight at the start of Torchlight II
  • The first villain faced in Tron 2.0 is an ex-executive who was incorrectly digitized into the computer world and became a virus, his poisoning presence was even referred to as The Corruption. Infected programs who attack you have a chance of infecting one of your subroutines (weapons and equipment), making it have the opposite effect until you complete a virus scan on that subroutine. Oddly, you eventually get to use the special weapons of the Corrupted yourself without risk of self-infection.
  • Fel (demonic energy) has this effect in Warcraft universe. Demons seem to radiate fel energy and any area with large amounts of demons will become either a barren wasteland or a twisted mockery of its former self. Living beings exposed to fel energy will mutate, making them more powerful but turning them insane, and causing them to become demons after long enough exposure. In fact, most demons were mortals before they were corrupted by fel energy.
    • Also seen with the influence of the Old Gods on mortals. Their Curse of Flesh transformed the immortal stone creations of the Titans and into mortal flesh and blood beings who were more susceptible to their whispers.
    • Turned into an actual game mechanic in World of Warcraft with Cho'gall. He inflicts his enemies with "Corrupted Blood" which gradually twists and mutilates their body, causing them to eventually sprout hostile tentacles before transforming into a Faceless One.
    • The Sha from Mists of Pandaria are an Emotion Eater version of this. They are empowered by negative emotions such as fear, despair, and anger, and can corrupt and control sentient creatures as well as the environment.

    Web Original 
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, this is one of The Blood Red King's favorite tactics: find an innocent person and turn them into monsters by granting them power and turning off any sort of moral control over that power and then letting them loose on the unsuspecting populace.
  • In TOME, The Forbidden Power is made of this trope. First it inhabits Alpha's body in episode 1, giving him false confidence in exchange for being able to harm players. Then, it changes him into a demonic form of himself which goes on a rampage. hen it finally seems Alpha has gotten rid of it, it simply corrupts Zetto instead and forces Alpha to fight him.
  • In the Whateley Universe, this is exactly what Big Bad Eldritch Abomination 'The Bastard' (real name unknown) is unleashing. It's so horrific that it corrupts werewolves into Body Horror slaves of The Bastard, which should be impossible. They're attacking a reservation of werewolves (and other were-animals) and Whateley Academy in the current Fey storyline, and when two innocent policemen are exposed, they have already turned into Body Horror monstrosities by the time Fey and her team find them. Fey has to kill them and disintegrate the corpses.
  • Zalgo.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, the Ice Crown grants its wearer ice powers and an incredible Healing Factor; however, it also physically and mentally warps them. The process completely destroys the person's identity, and can take years if they have sufficient willpower (but it's ultimately irresistible and uncurable). Oh, and the person is fully aware of it the entire time. The worst part is that the Crown is an Immortality Inducer, and No Immortal Inertia is in full effect. So even if the wearer is freed, he/she will die soon as the time deferred by the Crown catches up to him/her.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Princess Luna is corrupted by jealousy and bitterness and becomes Nightmare Moon. In Season 2, each of the Mane 6 is corrupted by Discord into the opposite of who they are. They are all restored in the end.
    • When Trixie wears the Alicorn Amulet to increase her magical ability, its dark power changes her from being loud and arrogant to being legitimately cruel and diabolical. When she is freed from the amulet and the effects of its corruption wear off, she becomes extremely remorseful for her behavior and apologizes to Twilight for all the harm she caused. Bonus points for the amulet making her eyes and horn glow red, when her natural aura is pink.
  • The Dark Water from Pirates of Dark Water is an interesting case. At times it acts like the Corruption, destroying nearly everything it touches (acting seemingly as a mindless force of nature.) When consumed as part of a magic potion, it can take over the user's body from within, granting them instant youth at first, but eventually turning him/her completely into Dark Water. At other times, the Dark Water acts like The Corrupter (since there is a sentient force in charge of it, which seeks to spread the Dark Water over the entire surface of the planet. It can also corrupt anyone who comes in contact with the Dark Water, turning them into a warped yet powerful servant.)
  • Dark Energon in Transformers Prime is more or less the Transformer equivalent of Satan's blood. Anything it touches becomes motile and malevolent, including dead bodies. Living 'bots that take it in tend to get powerups, but also go insane as they bend slowly to Unicron's willnote .
    • Also makes an appearance in Transformers: War for Cybertron, a videogame to which Transformers Prime is sorta a sequel. Its less corrupting there for living or formerly living things, but a lot more corrupting for nonliving things and feral creatures.
      • The novel Transformers: Exodus, which is sort of a prequel and adaptation of the game, is very explicit about the corruptive influence of Dark Energon. Start with euphoria, boosted power, and greatly increased violent tendencies... then add on instant addiction that will kill you real real slow if you try to kick the habit. Oh, and the stuff turns any normal Energon it comes in contact with into more Dark Energon.
    • In Predacons Rising, the Dark Energon prevents Megatron from joining the All-Spark after death and allows Unicron to hijack and transform his body.

    Real Life 
  • Methamphetamine abuse and addiction. For many users, the first few uses of methamphetamine provide great pleasure or greatly reduced need for things such as food and sleep, increased sex drive, and greatly increased focus and perceived capability - turning early users into work and sex machines. Unfortunately, the lack of sleep and the drug effect itself produces amphetamine psychosis and paranoia, the need for sex can make users make very unsafe sexual decisions, and addiction and tolerance means that more and more of the drug needs to be used to get the "good" effects - which increases the likelihood of the "bad" effects, and the human body is not capable of going without sleep and nutrition. Look up "faces of meth," or go to Erowid's meth vault to see what happens next.
    • Before meth was discovered, some people used cocaine or its derivatives (such as the Russian Civil War-era "Baltic Tea" (a solution of cocaine in vodka)) for this purpose.
  • Ketamine abuse. While, if somewhat managed in the short term, it can provide some short-term benefits (from the highs to proven effectiveness in some cases of depression and for pain management - both of which have been the target of serious medical studies), even moderate use beyond a very, very short term can become addictive (requiring at least small doses to stave off physical withdrawal), and can literally damage the bladder, liver, and urinary tract due to the drug's metabolization and being passed from the body as microscopic but sharp crystalline matter. Ketamine abuse can also lead to anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure from anything, as well as total disconnection from the ability to feel at all.
  • Tobacco use, in a far less immediately dramatic and more drawn-out way. Nicotine has some slight positive effects on performance and brain function as a mild stimulant (especially for existing addicts), and yes, to some, Smoking Is Cool despite the efforts to discourage that trope - except, unlike the similar stimulant caffeine, it's far more addictive, has more direct effect on blood vessels, and likely slightly more carcinogenic than caffeine on its own. The major problem, though, is that it's usually consumed via smoked or chewed tobacco - which are the "dirtiest" consumption methods, with the tar and other chemicals in the burned leaves (and/or the tobacco-specific nitrosamines in chewing tobacco) slowly damaging every system in the human body - resulting in everything from lung cancer to damaged teeth and gums to heart disease to emphysema to impotence and more when the smoker hits their forties onward. Some studies have also shown that nicotine can deepen or worsen depression and anxiety, and anecdotal evidence shows that it becomes a form of self-medication for both at the same time, with immediate "feel better" effects but long-term worsening.

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