TV Tropes Needs Your Help
View Kickstarter Project
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here
and discuss here
A stock trick in any Hollywood Voodoo
practitioner's arsenal is the Voodoo Doll, a tiny figurine created to vaguely resemble another person (sometimes using that person's hair or blood) which is then tormented in various ways, such as by being held over a fire or jabbed with needles. As the doll is damaged, so is the person connected to it
, making it a wonderful long-range means of revenge
In reality, so-called "voodoo dolls" are not a part of Vodou at all. They originated in Europe where they were called poppets,
and Vodou's actual use of dolls (which have nothing to do with sympathetic magic) was most likely mistaken for this by European onlookers. And contrary to what Hollywood shows, they aren't just for torture. Some places in New Orleans and Haiti do sell "voodoo dolls" marketed to ignorant tourists, though.
Occasionally Played for Laughs
in which the victim jerks around like a puppet when the doll is moved.
Incidentally, there is a real Vodou practice involving sticking nails into dolls, but all they do is nail them to trees to serve as guides to wandering spirits.
If you see someone pounding nails to a straw doll in anime or manga, in most cases it's not Hollywood Voodoo
but a Japanese curse ritual called ushi no toki mairi
open/close all folders
- Many commercials like using voodoo dolls for humorous effect, such as the Sprint Commercial with the guy sticking pins into dolls representing overages and roaming fees.
- One old Lipton Iced Tea commercial had a jilted bride turn to a mambo to torture her fiance. The mambo sticks a voodoo doll of the guy into a fire, making him feel like he's burning... until he drinks a bottle of Lipton, which puts the mambo's fire out. The mambo is nonplussed for a time before smirking and pulling out a pin...
- This ad featuring Bill Clinton, which is also very much Hilarious in Hindsight.
Anime & Manga
- Skip Beat! gives us Kyouko, who has quite the spread of voodoo dolls based off Sho. In the early part of the manga, she also has a large amount of Ren-themed ones as well. This later becomes a point when she gives Maria a realistic Ren-doll for her birthday. In more recent arcs, she has created a Reino doll in around 7 minutes.
- Lime-iro Senkitan's Kinu Fukushima has personalized voodoo dolls for everyone aboard the Amanohara, and non-personalized ones for other occasions. Her favorite thing to do with them is stab nails through them to stop her friends from getting in her way, for love or otherwise.
- Basil Hawkins in One Piece has them stored inside his body somehow. When attacked, he remained unharmed while the collateral damage took out buildings around him. Elsewhere, several unfortunate bystanders were flattened because they'd taken the blows for him. This also overlapped with a One winged Angel, since Hawkins can somehow become a gigantic living voodoo doll as well
- Muteki Kanban Musume: At episode 4B, Megumi is trying to curse The Rival Miki by nailing a wara ningyo (a straw doll that represents people) to a sacred tree in the Temple at the top of the hill.
- Ranma ˝'s Gosunkugi often uses them, but they have absolutely no effect. And he hits his own fingers frequently trying to nail them.
- Hidan from Naruto can turn himself into a human voodoo doll if he obtains some of his target's blood. He kills people by inflicting wounds on himself that would be fatal to anyone who isn't immortal like him.
- One chapter from Urusei Yatsura has Lum use a clay like substance molded in the shape of Ataru to make him fly across his bedroom. Ataru attempts to use this substance as a voodoo doll against Cherry, but fails since he doesn't have something of Cherry's physical being to make the doll work.
- Rurumi from Gokukoku No Brynhildr has the power to use an ordinary doll like this.
- In one issue of The Spectre, the eponymous hero fights against a Gypsy who uses one of these to attack people for no good reason.
- In the Tintin story Prisoners of the Sun, the Incas reveal this was how the seven archaeologists were tortured remotely. When the dolls are destroyed, the archaeologists are released from their trances.
- Baron Sunday, a minor Superman villain from the 80s, was a crimelord who used voodoo dolls to assassinate his competitors.
- In a Richie Rich comic book story, Richie's father was the victim of a voodoo doll.
- Creepshow's framing story ends with two trash collectors finding the kid's comic book that his Jerkass father had thrown out, with one of them noticing an ad for a nifty voodoo doll, but someone had already clipped out the order form. We then cut to the kid's father having severe chest pains as his kid upstairs furiously jabs a needle into the doll.
- The young Maharajah in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom uses one to cripple Indy as he's busy fighting with a Giant Mook, requiring Short Round to step in and save Indy from certain head-squishing death. Yes, yes; the Thuggee cult didn't use voodoo dolls in real life, but it should be obvious by now that Indiana Jones isn't a documentary anyway.
- In Dogma, Loki constructs a voodoo doll of the chairmain of Mooby's board of directors, and after a "The Reason You Suck" Speech (to the entire board), smashes it. The chairman recoils in fear, but is unharmed. "Come on, I don't believe in voodoo," Loki says, as he walks out laughing. (He comes back in with a gun – "But I do believe in this." – and shoots almost everyone.)
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Blackbeard made a voodoo doll of Jack in order to keep him under control. It was thrown over a cliff to see if Jack would survive the jump and didn't appear again until The Stinger where it ended up in Angelica's possession.
- In The Wise Man's Fear, mommets (figurines made of wax or clay and using bits of hair or blood) are key components in Malefesance magic. Kvothe uses an even more grisly version, stabbing an actual human corpse to maim people nearby.
- In Witches Abroad Mrs. Gogol has a voodoo doll intended to be Lily, but when Granny Weatherwax gets in her way she makes it of her instead, stabbing it in the leg and making her stagger. Granny Weatherwax deals with it by sticking her hand into a torch, causing the doll to burst into flame.
- In Sweets to the Sweet, Creepy Child Irma makes a voodoo doll of her abusive father, rendering him bedridden and unable to carry out his regular beatings of her. When his equally Jerkassish brother figures out what's going on, she claims the doll's just a bit of candy, and bites its head off to prove it...
- This is how one of the witches defeats Septimus in Stardust.
- In Fool Moon of The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden uses the same principle to temporarily disable a very powerful loup-garou. Saying precisely how would be a spoiler — and ruin a Crowning Moment of Funny.
- In The Witches of Eastwick, the titular women make a wax doll to curse their romantic rival, Jenny Gabriel. The film version changes the victim to Darryl Van Horne presumably to keep them sympathetic.
- In Andrei Belyanin's Bride Elimination, princesses from various countries arrive to the Russian capital to marry Tsar Gorokh. Among them is Tambamba Mumumba, one of the daughters of the ruler of Nigeria. When someone starts poisoning the princesses, the African girl is the first suspect. Baba Yaga sneaks into her room and finds dolls made to look like all the other princesses and numerous other attributes commonly associated with Hollywood Voodoo. The protagonist (a modern-day cop) immediately calls it Voodoo (despite voodoo being a New World religion, although its roots do stem from West Africa where Nigeria is located). It's even pointed out that Voodoo only works on someone who knows what it is (i.e. it's all in their heads). Tsar Gorokh becomes enamored with the girl after meeting and speaking with her (she speaks bad English, and Gorokh is an Omniglot). The protagonist goes to her room and finds a doll of the tsar, which he breaks to find pieces of hair and fingernails. Naturally, the tsar only fell for this after she explained it all to him.
Live Action TV
- Mimi once used one on Drew in an episode of The Drew Carey Show. Oddly it causes him pain in his arm although she's stabbing the doll somewhere further south.
- For all the liberties they take with the various mythologies their Monster of the Week episodes are based on, The X-Files actually gets this one right on two occasions.
- One episode involving actual Voodoo has no mention of dolls at all as far as villains and evil are concerned. But a kid tires to sell Scully a doll that should protect her. Mulder buys it from him for Scully.
- Episode "Theef" has poppets used to inflict harm from afar used not by a Haitian witch doctor but a practitioner of Appalachian folk magic.
- In one episode of Tales from the Darkside, "Baker's Dozen", an evil hoodoo witch and her slimy business partner sell gingerbread men that act as voodoo dolls. The hoodoo witch also regularly torments her assistant by using the magical dough to turn him into a mouse. In the end, both of them get a nasty Karmic Death. The witch sneaks a gingerbread man of her partner into his belongings with a lipstick stained napkin. The man's wife sees this and crushes the cookie in a fit of jealousy. Cut to the man in the shower screaming in agony as blood fills the tub. The witch laughs in triumph and turns her assistant into a mouse again just for kicks. Suddenly she starts to get a headache. As the pain worsens, she realizes that her assistant must have baked a thirteenth cookie (hence a baker's dozen) that represented her. She shrieks off-screen while the camera focuses on a mouse nibbling the gingerbread man's head off...
- A witch doctor used voodoo dolls to control the castaways (and turn the Professor into a zombie) in the Gilligan's Island episode "Voodoo".
- In an episode of Seed, Zoey's grandmother erroneously believes that Harry is the man who knocked Zoey up and left her to raise the child alone for nine years (Zoey is actually a lesbian and Harry was just the sperm donor). She puts a curse on Harry and makes a voodoo doll of him. When Harry gets hold of the doll he decides to store the doll between two Playboy magazines just in case it really works.
- On Good Eats, Alton sticks metal skewers (the kind used for kabobs) into a doll made to look like W. As he analyzes what's wrong with each kind of skewer (wrong shape, not sturdy enough, too sharp, not sharp enough, etc.), he causes W lots of pain.
- During a host segment on Mystery Science Theater 3000, the 'bots use an Ernest P. Worrell doll to curse the main character of the movie they are watching (Gamera).
- In American Horror Story: Coven, Queenie describes herself as a human voodoo doll; whatever she inflicts on her body appears on anyone she chooses, while causing no pain or injury to herself.
- Marie Laveau uses an actual voodoo doll on Hank Foxx as punishment for not killing the witches of Miss Robichaux's Academy.
- On Salem, Mary makes a poppet and plants it in Anne's room. She later uses it to threaten Anne's life to gain leverage over the magistrate and make him follow her order.
- Angel. After Team Angel takes over Wolfram & Hart, Gunn fires half his staff for being too evil, and later finds one of them trying to smuggle in a voodoo doll of a black man in a pin-striped suit.
- In the video of "No Light, No Light" by Florence + the Machine, a voodoo doll is used against Florence, causing her to fall off a skyscraper.
- The subject of the Ozzy Osbourne song "Little Dolls".
- In the Masque Of The Red Death setting for Ravenloft, certain voodoo-inspired magic users can do this.
- Scion features voodoo dolls as a possible Relic for a child of the Loa; however, as the authors have done their research, they swiftly outline that the dolls are associated with hoodoo, but some of the Loa have picked them up for laughs. The description notes that they can be used to channel the Health Purview "and be sold to tourists for an outrageous markup."
- A number of cards from the early days of Magic The Gathering (such as Black Vise and The Rack) feature a poppet getting maimed somehow to represent effects that targeted your opponent. The poppet itself got its own card in Time Spiral, Stuffy Doll.
- Not to forget the actual Voodoo Doll card itself, which plays up the "black magic" theme despite being an artifact by putting demands on its user as well — the cost to activate it goes up each turn (as does the damage it inflicts), and once the player can no longer pay it it's apt to blow up in their face if they have no alternative method of keeping it tapped.
- These crop up fairly often in Monkey Island games. They tend to work at a limited range, and the spell to make them is a riff on the "Old, New, Borrowed and Blue" quatrain.
- In StarCraft II Gabriel Tosh has a thing for these, and if you chose to side with Nova instead of him he tries to use one on Raynor. It gets Tychus instead. And Nova decide to stab it on her goodbye.
- The title character of Voodoo Vince is a voodoo doll who can perform Limit Breaks based on doing absurdly violent things to himself.
- The Voodoo Doll is one of Caleb's many weapons in Blood. Unlike other voodoo dolls, it basically hurts whatever is in front of Caleb when he stabs it with the pin, instead of being keyed to a single being. You can also rip the doll's head off to do extremely high damage to every enemy in front of you.
- Dragon Age: Origins - The Feastday Pranks DLC gives each party member two special gifts, one that puts their approval through the roof and one that reduces it by the same amount. Morrigan's gift is a voodoo doll of Alistair. Its effects include "Burning Sensation", "Two Left Feet", and "Strangely Stimulated".
- Elements has the card "Voodoo Doll", which inflicts all damage and harmful effects onto the opponent.
- Terraria has the Guide Voodoo Doll, which will allow you to harm the guide. However, he respawns after you kill him. If you throw it in lava while in the Underworld, it causes Wall Of Flesh to spawn in addition to killing the guide normally, which turns on hardmode for your world if defeated.
- There's also the Clothier Voodoo Doll, which lets you kill the Clothier, which also summons Skeletron when done at night.
- In Touhou: Subterranean Animism, Parsee's "Midnight Anathema Ritual" is derived from the Japanese version. In this case, she's skipped the doll and is trying to pound nails into you directly, but the idea is there. As a result, she's often shown with such dolls in fanart.
- Alice, a character specializing in creative use of dolls, doesn't do this in canon but sometimes does in fanworks.
- The Pokémon Banette is inspired by these dolls.
- Mojo from Chrono Cross is a human-sized one with a giant nail through his chest.
- God pulls it on Satan in this Sinfest strip.
- Gwynn of Sluggy Freelance made one of Riff and had some fun poking it in the eye, microwaving it, and throwing it in a desk drawer.
- The Repository of Dangerous Things has a few including one "living" doll. It's kind of cute, but smacking it around turns out to be a very bad idea, as it can choose whom it depicts and is capable of self-mutilation (the doll can be repaired later, after all).
- For 25 cents Mama Zora can make a reversible version of this (see next pages).
- Yvette has not been proven to build one of these yet. But there have been two dolls she's made (of Ursula and Ms Monster) that are implied due to the lock of hair thing. (Ursula, as far as we know, didn't donate; Ms Monster's wasn't really asked for hers..)
- Die in Webcomic/Homestuck has a voodoo doll which erases people from the timeline altogether until the pin representing them is removed from the doll. This may take effect retroactively or not, and can be used to kill people or bring them back from the dead (by placing their pin on the doll after their death, then removing the pin).
- Played for Laughs in Teen Girl Squad Issue 12. Early in, The Ugly One is seen sticking a series of pins into a doll resembling the Arrow'd Guy. Later on, the Arrow'd Guy jumps up from behind a skeleton with an Ugly One voodoo doll, screaming "BAD JUJU!!!"
- Smosh has an episode where Anthony uses a voodoo doll of Ian to sabotage Ian's job interview. He later gets one of himself and uses it for...other reasons.
- Gary, My Possession is a short film shot from the perspective of a kid using a voodoo doll to torture another kid that he really, really, doesn't like.
- Filmation The New Adventures of Superman episode "The Deadly Super-Doll". A supervillain named The Sorcerer is a master of the ancient arts of wizardry, occult ritual and Black Magic. He creates a Superman doll from the magic clay of the ancient wizard Philbias and uses it to control the Man of Steel's body.
- A variant of this trope appears in The Smurfs episode "Denisa's Greedy Doll" when Gargamel puts Greedy's apron on Denisa's doll and casts a spell on it so that whatever happens to the doll wearing the apron also affects Greedy. The Smurfs turn the tables by having the doll wear fabric from Gargamel's robe.
- A Super Chicken cartoon has him and his opponent The Fat Man fighting by hitting and twisting voodoo dolls of each other.
- An episode of Batman: The Animated Series subverted this trope in the episode "The Worry Men", a mystical doll that supposedly gives you good dreams and takes your worries away when you put it under your pillow while you sleep. One of Bruce Wayne's wealthy friends buys some of these "worry men" dolls on a trip to Central America, and distributes them among Gotham City's when she returns home. However, the worry men are actually infused with the Mad Hatter's mind control technology, which he uses to manipulate the wealthy Gothamites into robbing themselves. Batman wrecks the plan and and captures the Mad Hatter, and as Bruce Wayne pays to fly the legitimate Hollywood Voodoo practitioner who the Hatter forced to help him back to Central America. The worry men's magic turns out to be Real After All when the practitioner gives Batman a worry man that helps him sleep...and also gave the Mad Hatter a different type of worry man that gives him nightmares.
- One Cold Open for Earthworm Jim featured Evil the Cat using one of these on Jim. 'Aw, sympathetic magic sucks!' Then he found out it worked both ways ...
- A variation appears in an episode of Fairly OddParents called Yoodoo Dolls, which had all the same abilities as regular voodoo dolls with the addition of being able to make people talk.
- The Powerpuff Girls:
- In the episode, "Birthday Bash", The Amoeba Boys give the girls voodoo dolls of themselves for their birthday. Mojo Jojo then points out to them that they're not supposed to give the girls the dolls, they're supposed to keep the dolls and stick needles in them.
- Played straight in the episode, "I See a Funny Cartoon in Your Future'', when Madame Argentina buys three voodoo dolls of the girls and uses them to torture them. The girls get back at her by buying a voodoo doll of her duck sidekick, Fred, and barbecuing it.
- Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island has the villains using these on some of the Scooby gang at one point, though to immobilize them, not to torture them.