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A jinx is a living bad luck charm, someone who unintentionally causes calamity everywhere they go. They aren't malicious and they aren't trying to cause harm; they just happen to be very, very unlucky, and bad luck spreads.
The difference between a jinx and someone who is Born Unlucky
is the latter's bad luck falls only on himself. Normally, the jinx is perfectly lucky himself but causes horrible bad luck for others; sometimes, it's the case that he causes bad luck for others because
he's so lucky himself, as a form of Equivalent Exchange
. Because of this, a jinx is likely to become a social leper— people avoid him to avoid the bad luck. Jinxes: Even when they win, they lose.
Oddly enough it would seem that in all media, no one has ever thought to consider the potential chaos a jinx could inflict in the world of insurance policies.
Compare Walking Disaster Area
, where bad things follow the hero because he's the hero
. Doom Magnet
is an extreme form. When this is weaponized, it's Winds of Destiny, Change
. May be a Cosmic Plaything
, Butt Monkey
, or Chew Toy
. Approach with caution.
Not to be confused with The Jynx.
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Anime and Manga
- Seina Yamada in Tenchi Muyo GXP is not only unlucky enough to count as a Cosmic Plaything, it usually bleeds off onto those around him. One subtly extreme moment comes when a horse jockey falls off his horse in the middle of a race because a man cheering for him was listening to the race on the radio when Seina happened to walk by.
- Touma in A Certain Magical Index has a rather unique case: his supernatural-dispelling right arm also happens to dispel luck. Usually his own. It is mentioned that the reason he was sent to Academy City was because the people of his hometown labelled him a jinx, but Academy City, being such a center of science, is not likely to have anyone so superstitious as to do something similar.
- Yuuko Aioi of Nichijou is an inversion. The biggest Butt Monkey of the series, the final episode displays that for all of her own rotten luck, she is unwittingly helping people around her, such as bumping into her friends and knocking them out of the way of something that was about to hit them, or pulling at them and inadvertently stopping them from stepping on ants.
- Asebi Inoue of Ben-To is this to nearly everyone around her.
- Terry Sanders Jr. of Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, who has been the Sole Survivor of several squadrons is shunned by most of his fellow soldiers and believes himself to be cursed. His idealistic CO Shiro Amada, the original Ensign Newbie, struggles to help him overcome it.
- Jinx Malloy, a recurring character in Archie Comics (of the "causes bad luck in others" variety). He's so infamous in Riverdale that when he goes out, he wears disguises so no one will run away in terror at his approach.
- Archie Comics also has another character named Jinx, but she is just a normal (if mischievous) little girl.
- Joe Btfsplk from Li'l Abner (who has his own article on The Other Wiki).
- 'Unit Jinx' is an official military position in Tank Vixens, and an inversion, they're Born Unlucky and luck works like magnetism so those around them get good luck. Sonya Guildencrantz is the official jinx for the 101st Tank Crushing Brigade.
- The Strontium Dog story arc "A Sorry Case" had Johnny deal with having to escort someone off-planet, a fellow by the name of Sorry Bobbs with whom bad luck follows wherever he goes. Naturally, that makes the simple escort a lot harder than it initially sounded. On several occasions Sorry Bobbs flat-out calls himself a jinx.
- In Spider-Man comics, when The Black Cat made a deal with Kingpin to attain superpowers, this became her power.
- Heck, Spider-Man himself. Horrible things have happened to pretty much the entire supporting cast.
- Jonah in The Beano was an example with a very specific form of bad luck. If he was anywhere near a ship, it sunk. (Sometimes this was directly his fault, so doesn't count as this trope, but sometimes it just happened all on its own.) He remained perpetually oblivious to this, and couldn't understand why it was so hard for him to get a job as a sailor. (Phrase Catcher, from every ship's captain who encountered him: "Aargh! It's 'im!")
- In PS238, a running not-so-gag is that Captain Clarinet's life gets progressively worse every time he gets involved with Moon Shadow in any way, even though Moon Shadow is technically never to blame for any of it. After a while, he starts to lampshade this ("You are such bad luck!").
- The infamous "Jonah" Franz from Sturmtruppen, from the former-Fourth Battalion. (Former because it was annihilated by mistake by a bombardment).
- Groo The Wanderer. You'd think that, as monumentally stupid as he already is, he wouldn't need the help of this trope on top of it. You would be wrong.
- The Spanish film Intacto has this as its main premise: certain individuals in the world have the ability to suck people's luck to add to their own. The luckiest of them all(played by Max von Sydow) is so lucky, he plays Russian roulette with five bullets to one empty chamber and always wins.
- Dora Lynn in Get Over It. "Wherever she goes, bad shit happens. I mean, weird bad shit happens."
- In Pure Luck (1991), a girl who has terrible luck is lost - they find her by employing another jinx - guy with bad luck, assuming that whatever bad luck she stumbled into he will stumble into, too.
- In The Cooler, Bernie Lootz is employed by a Las Vegas casino to simply wander near any gambler who is winning too much. Because of his aura of bad luck, the gambler will instantly start losing.
- The main character in Mr. Hulot's Holiday tends to accidentally create chaos wherever he goes, frequently getting caught up in the aftermath. In one incident, the simple act of searching for a lost ping-pong ball results in an entire hotel lounge full of people starting to fight with each other.
- Douglas Fackler in several Police Academy films. In the first film, an apple core casually thrown by him escalates into a city riot. Simply walking through an office is enough to start a localized disaster that results in dozens of people injured. He's completely oblivious to all this, of course.
- In Godzilla (2014), everytime Ford Brody is with a group of people, he tends to be the sole or one of the few survivors.
- Sailors had a habit of attributing any streak of poor luck to a single person, often turning on them to rid themselves of the poor luck. (See The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Literature).
- The title character in the book Jinx by Meg Cabot.
- In Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Empire the Mule's clown Magnifico appears to be this. Everywhere Toran and Bayta take him, the Mule's forces eventually arrive and conquer the place. Bayta eventually realizes that Magnifico is actually the Mule and has been emotionally manipulating the local populations to surrender.
- The Odyssey: Odysseus had this problem, due largely to Poseidon hating his guts.
- A major character in Sergey Lukyanenko's Labirynth of Reflections is actually named Jinx (or rather, it's a nickname given to him by those around him). He is stuck in Cyberspace and it seems that Cyberspace itself is preventing him from exiting by all manners of freak accidents and coincidences.
- The Mariner's crew considers him one after shooting an albatross, his ship's good luck charm, in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. After the attack, his crewmates force him to wear the albatross around his neck as a sign of his guilt, and they all die subsequently, each cursing him "with his eye" as he drops; the albatross only falls off the mariner afterwards, when he relents in his malice towards the dumb chums, and blesses the water-snakes.
- "Jinxie" Penlan, one of the 597th's Mauve Shirts in the Ciaphas Cain novels, has an interesting habit of having terrible luck which inevitably ruins whatever plan, ambush, or surprise the enemy is cooking up, or points her in the right direction to kill them. Oddly enough, her squad's morale is better than most, believing that misfortune will happen to her, leaving the rest of them unscathed.
- The main character "Mitchie" from the SF short story Prone - a patriotic youth who joined the army in the midst of an prolonged interplanetary war, and whose Jinx abilities have been growing exponentially over time. after his presence nearly destroys the military academy, he's secretly sent to live as a civilian on the enemy homeworld, which will probably win the war in a few years
- Billy Lathem, aka 'the Jonah', was a minor Nightside character who could inflict misfortune on others at will, manipulating probabilities so that the worst possible outcome would supplant the result that'd actually happened.
- This is Magician Murphey's magical talent in the Xanth books.
- The Italian short novel "La Patente" (The License) revolves around Chiarchiaro, a man whose life is ruined because he's rumored to be this. However he decides to ask a "Jinx-License" and manages to get some cash through this.
Live Action TV
- A "bad luck for others" example in the Monty Python's Flying Circus "Accidents sketch" where a man goes to a house and disaster ensues, with multiple people being killed. Watch it here.
- Cousin Oliver considered himself a Jinx on The Brady Bunch.
- The X-Files episode "The Goldberg Variation": A man has the power to make everything go his way, but avoids using it because every time he does he becomes a powerful jinx because of Equivalent Exchange.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "Grail", there is a character nicknamed "Jinxo" who believes himself to be one of these, after his departure from the previous four Babylon stations happened just before each one met some kind of ignominious fate. The final conclusion seems to be that it was just a temporary string of unfortunate coincidences. One character even suggests that he should have been called "Lucky", since he'd left the first four Babylon stations just in time to avoid personal disaster.
- After winning the lottery with seemingly cursed numbers (these numbers have turned others into jinxes as well), Hurley from LOST becomes a Jinx. While he is being interviewed by a reporter, his grandfather drops dead of a heart attack. Soon afterwards, his brother's wife leaves him, his mother falls and breaks her ankle when he blindfolds her to take her to a new house he bought her, the house in question goes up in flames, and he is mistakenly arrested by the policemen he approaches for help. The worst point is probably when a news reporter and camera crew interviewing him enter a restaurant he recently bought and are promptly killed when a meteorite hits it.
- One episode of Big Time Rush involves the boys trying to help a friend of theirs get a singing gig. But disaster follows her wherever she goes, costing her a lot of jobs. This includes hospitalizing a large number of international agents by triggering a large explosion trying to perform for them (at the Palm Woods, because the boys were afraid they'd endanger the city taking her out to meet them). Ultimately, they find a band who is looking for a super destructive lead singer, which her natural 'talent' made her perfect for.
- Fat Paul in Sirens is one of the unseen other members of the group that somehow manages to get called out to major accidents.
- Barney on The Andy Griffith Show was convinced someone was a jinx in one episode.
- Jimmy Jinx, "the unluckiest man in the world", appears in one episode of The Slammer. He manages to cause accidents wherever he goes, including causing Mr Burgess to walk into a lamppost. Inside the prison. Twice.
- Champions. If a character has 4 or more dice of Unluck, the bad luck affects those around him.
- The third edition of GURPS also had Jinx as a character disadvantage. It was removed in the fourth edition, possibly because for a typical PC, it was more of an advantage than a disadvantage, especially since the ability was irresistible. For those wanting to keep it, the denizens of the Steve Jackson Games forums have worked out a method based on the Visualization ability.
- They suggested that Odysseus from Greek Mythology was this. After all, he survived his adventures, while all of his men died, and Polyphem the cyclops blew his INT roll when Odysseus was there.
- The Jackelope's foot in Deadlands gives the owner exceptional good luck, at the cost of giving exceptional bad luck to everyone else in the posse. This reflects the fact that, when alive, the Jackelope acts in much the same way, as it feeds on the souls of those killed by the accidents its bad luck aura causes.
- The Pariah Dog from Fallout2 is an example of this, constantly causing characters around it to miss shots, injure themselves, and lose ammo and weapons. It's also Nigh Invulnerable, thanks to ridiculously high health, abject cowardice, and the aforementioned trait.
- The player can also pick the Jinxed trait, but it affects them just as badly as the other characters. Unless they max out their Luck stat, in which case they become a "disaster for others" variant.
- This is one interpretation of Zaeed Massani from Mass Effect 2 and his ability to be the sole survivor of any fight he's in, along with a combination of skill and disregard for casualties.
- Jinx from Teen Titans has the superpower of making things go wrong, in other words she has weaponized this trope.
- The terminally unlucky Eugene in Hey Arnold! is referred to in-universe as a jinx. Played with in one episode when Eugene realizes that Arnold is always around when bad things happen to him, and decides that Arnold is the real jinx. To make it more obvious, he was BORN on Friday the 13th. Admittedly, most of Eugene's bad luck falls on himself (not that he really notices or cares). Still, one episode had everyone except Arnold refusing to go on a rollercoaster with him, sure that something bad would happen. Predictably, it stalls halfway through, and the rest of the episode involves efforts to rescue them (most of which fail).
- Misery in Ruby Gloom. Usually, the bad luck only strikes her, but every Friday the 13th it reverses and she gets good luck while everyone around her is hit by bad luck.
- Badluck Schleprock, a regular on The Flintstones Spin-Off The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show.
- On Generator Rex, Rex goes on a double date with Noah, and his date, Annie, is a Cute Clumsy Girl known as the "Blonde Widow" because all her previous dates ended up in the hospital "or worse." Noah specifically chose Rex because he's the only one who could possibly survive a date with her.
- The black cat in Bad Luck Blackie actually uses his natural bad luck to help out cats in need of his services. He helps a small kitten who is being bullied by a bulldog out by causing the dog bad luck, which usually takes the form of heavy objects falling on the dog out of nowhere.
- In an episode of Martha Speaks, Martha gets jinxed walking under a ladder and then later breaking a mirror, at least she THINKS she is. She does get quite a lot of bad luck, and it begins to appear that everyone she runs across does as well. While it turns out to be coincidental, it still makes her The Woobie for the episode.
- Lucky the black cat in an episode of Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats does get a lucky charm for a while, but that protects only himself, not nearby characters.
- Filbert of Rocko's Modern Life gets jinxed by a "misfortune cookie." At the end of the episode, his lucky charms do get him a small victory but pretty much wreck the world in the process. Luckily (well, relatively), later episodes disregard the cookie's promise of eternal misfortune.
- The My Little Pony And Friends episode "Woe is Me" features a character who goes by the name of Woebegone who was cursed into being this by a witch when he accidentally crashed into her cauldron during a game of tag. Rather than honestly apologizing he made excuses, saying "I guess I'm just bad luck." So she made him literally be that way. The episode's plot revolves around the ponies not giving up on him and not letting him give up on himself until at last he decides to defy the old excuse, and refuse to be bad luck. This causes the curse to get lifted.
- In an episode of the Hub's Pound Puppies, a group of creepy alley cats try to blackmail our heroes into getting them fish by saddling them with a pup named Taboo who has bad luck follow him wherever he goes. Turns out the source of Taboo's bad luck was the cats secretly tailing him and causing trouble.
- Ringo thinks he's a jinx in The Beatles episode "Good Day Sunshine."
- Astoria Carlton Ritz from The Transformers.