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Walking Wasteland
Time to redecorate. Black is nice, yes?

"And behold, I shall be a Blight upon the land, and everything I touch... Shall wither, and die."
Derek Powers, a.k.a "Blight", Batman Beyond

Now, you may be a Nice Guy or girl. You may be someone who's sweet, charming, and always nice to everyone. But, see, here's the thing: wherever you go, people and things tend to wither and die.

It's usually not any fault of your own, of course. In fact, it's probably the fault of the Phlebotinum; you may have got hit with a bad dose, or there's something about it that's just inherently flawed. Either way, you've got an effect around you that makes plants curl up, animals run screaming and, in time, men and women keel over. This isn't quite a Touch of Death; in role-playing game terms, it would be categorized as an Always On, Area of Effect power centered on you. And generally, it's a power that makes things die horribly.

But, hey. At least you're taking it like a trooper. And you've got a great personality, too...

Additional points if you can spread other havoc: souring wine, spoiling food, rotting wood, rusting metal, breaking mirrors/glass, etc. Often a side effect of I Love Nuclear Power.

Of course, sometimes you get Wastelanders who aren't so mistreated. Perhaps they're the Walking Wasteland because they're evil. Sometimes, they wouldn't normally care about the disasters they bring if it wasn't for the fact that they themselves are impaired by the fact they destroy things around them or kill people by being near them. On some occasions, the Walking Wasteland actually likes what they are. Of course, this more evil version is rarer and usually tends to be the second type (or the first mixed with the second) when it appears, simply because it's very hard to portray anyone as being capable of believing that "everyone around you dies" is some kind of Cursed with Awesome.

See Power Incontinence, Super Power Meltdown, and Enemy to All Living Things; also see Walking Disaster Area. If this comes as part of a superpower, you're Blessed with Suck. Contrast Fisher King and Fertile Feet. See also World-Wrecking Wave for a macro-scale event.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Emukae Mukae of Medaka Box can decompose anything. That is, cannot 'not' decompose anything. Untill Kumogawa tries to delete her Minus and ends up just giving it an off switch.
  • In Excel♥Saga, Watanabe is so smitten with Hyatt that he doesn't notice that the grass she's sitting on is dying, along with all of the other plants around her. Hyatt herself isn't immune to this effect, as she dies quite frequently. Also, the vapours from her blood alone are enough to kill every bird in the area, which proves handy when Excel needs to track her down after Hyatt is kidnapped.
  • Natsuki Amon from Get Backers. It was his tribal ability, and it led him to shun human touch for fear of draining the life of anyone he hung around with. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
  • Victors in Busou Renkin will drain the life out of anything that comes near them. And even if they wanted to they can't stop, as it's a natural biological process akin to breathing for them. Hence Kazuki's final solution of taking Victor and himself to live on the Moon.
  • Bleach:
    • Barragan has an aura around him that can age whatever comes near him, to the point where a love tap from him can break bones. When he goes One-Winged Angel, his Respira attack ages everything into oblivion, to Person of Mass Destruction levels.
    • Starrk was so strong prior to joining the Espada that lesser hollows simply died in his presence.
    • Aizen becomes one after his ascension. Humans without any spiritual awareness are especially susceptible, but anybody without enough strength that gets within a few feet tend to explode for no discernible reason. Later on, Captain Shunsui warns that Ichigo may gain a similar boost in power, but notes that such talk is merely precautionary rather than a certainty.
    • Zanka no Tachi turns Yamamoto into this. To the extent that his own power would destroy Soul Society if Zanka no Tachi was released for too long.
  • The Forest God Shishigami in Princess Mononoke is a god of life and death. Grass and flowers sprout beneath his feet as they touch the ground, but rot almost immediately when he lifts them. He has the ability to control this when judging creatures, either killing or saving them as he decides. During the climax his powers go haywire, simultaneously causing everything around him to rot away and temporarily returning life to the wolf god's head. The Cursed Gods, or Tatarigami, also qualify for this trope — everything they touch rots, including flesh.
  • Gildarts from Fairy Tail specializing in "Crash" magic, which destroys anything he runs into. He's actually pretty nice, but he's so absent-minded that he runs through building so often the town decided to change their landscape so he had a clear path through.
    • Zeref uses Death Magic, literally killing anything in his vicinity, unless he gives all concern for human life, but you're still probably screwed anyways. Just look at Hades.
  • Nobuo, from the Stink Bomb segment of Memories.
  • Tenchi Muyo GXP: Seina Yamada, the Unluckiest of Unlucky Everydudes, has a similar effect regarding his bad luck. Stand around him too long (or even have him walk by), and your luck starts to turn sour, too.
  • One of the few male Sekirei in the titular series has this as his themed ability, opposite his sister, who can invoke Fertile Feet.
  • Vash of Trigun is known as "the Humanoid Typhoon." Wherever he goes, destruction is sure to follow ... but it's not exactly his fault, since the destruction is frequently caused by people trying to collect the huge bounty on his head.
  • Many of the Shadow Dragons from Dragon Ball GT, specifically Haze Shenron (spreads pollution), Nouva Shenron (his body is hotter than the sun, so anything that comes near him disintegrates), Eis Shenron (he freezes anything near him), and Syn/Omega Shenron (he emits negative energy that corrupts and kills entire planets, and eventually the universe).
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Professor Frank seems to do this, but only in the Spirit World, where he seems to exude an evil aura that corrupts and rots the ecosystem, causing Ancient Fairy Dragon to intervene and try to kill him. (Ruka pleads with her to spare him, but when that fails, she is able to force a draw in the duel to end it and "kick" them both out of the place.)
  • Heretic Gods in Campione! cause disasters wherever they appear simply by existing in the mortal world. The severity of the disaster varies based on their nature. A war god triggers wars, a sun god brings drought and wildfire, a death god spreads pestilence, etc.
  • Some One Piece fruit users are so deadly in their elemental powers that they are capable of destroying their environment with ease. For instance Crocodile can turn ground into sand and make buildings crumble with his powers. Magellan also has a poison that can infect inorganic objects, basically turning his environment into a contaminated biohazard.

    Comic Books 
  • Omega Red, a (retconned as) Cold War-era X-Men villain, had the ability to produce a "Death Spore Pheromone" that physically weakened anyone exposed to it, to the point that it could kill someone who was exposed to it long enough. Including himself, if he didn't project them through his tentacles.
  • Also from Marvel Comics, Mojo has this as an Informed Ability - it is mentioned in his description but he never stayed on Earth long enough to cause a lasting effect.
  • Daredevil villainess Typhoid Mary has a wide variety of Psychic Powers, but gets her name from a power that makes those in her presence feel feverish and weak.
  • One issue of Ultimate X-Men focused on a mutant with the utterly unfortunate power to produce a combination of acids and poisons that would kill anyone in the area. He ended up killing his entire high school before fleeing to the desert; Wolverine was sent in to "take care of him", which the kid willingly accepted. Someone made a fanfilm about this issue.
  • The Flash:
    • The Flash had a minor villain named Fallout, whose exposure to a nuclear reactor made him a walking fallout zone. If that weren't sucky enough, he ended up killing his wife and son before he realized what had happened, and soon ended up in Iron Heights prison — as its power source.
    • The Flash had a friend with this problem: Chester P. Runk, a.k.a. "Chunk," a physicist who got a matter transporter stuck inside his body that turned him into a walking black hole. Chunk got the power under control eventually, though Wally had to solve the impending crisis when an incident with muggers caused the black hole to go wild again.
  • Minor Batman villain Professor Radium has this effect and three small-time bat-villains; Bag O'Bones, alias the One Man Meltdown, the Corrosive Man, and Doctor Phosphorus.
  • In The New Universe Dennis "Scuzz" Cuzinski developed the unwanted and uncontrollable ability to make anything he touches rot. Including his clothes.
  • In the Marvel Universe, the Radioactive Man constantly gives off nuclear radiation that causes radiation poisoning in anyone nearby unless he wears a radiation suit.
    • The similarly-powered mutant Hazmat.
  • The Squadron Supreme limited series has Foxfire, a villain who can induce things to rot by touching them. Then in the remake, Supreme Power, the character Nuke is reimagined as a man who constantly gives off massive quantities of deadly radiation.
  • Issue 11 of the Vertigo Comics horror anthology Flinch featured a story where a prison inmate with failing kidneys from his years as The Alcoholic volunteers for a medical experiment intended to train his body to grow replacement organs. The experiment goes horribly right: not only do his kidneys regenerate better than ever; he also grows an entirely new system of organs which take all of the toxins his body absorbs and turn them into sweat. The new organs are so effective that his sweat eats through clothes and flesh, and any living thing he touches dies in seconds.
  • The Decepticon Sunstorm from the Transformers Generation One comics releases powerful radiation from his body that causes other Transformers that get too close to short out. Then, their bodies start to melt from the heat.
  • The New 52's Earth 2 has Grundy, servant of the Grey who plan to rid the Earth of life.
  • Malak, the Iranian superhuman being from Supergod and his swath of destruction.
  • Elixir, from the New X-Men. One hand heals, the other kills.
  • Halflife, a minor Avengers West Coast villain, was capable of aging any living being by touching it. Given enough of a hold, she could whither away a living being to dust. She actually did this to the entire population of her planet, a slow version of this trope.

    Film 
  • Imhotep, from The Mummy Trilogy, suffers from this in the first movie, or rather everybody else suffers from it - he's fine with it. He's cursed with the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and the longer he remains on Earth, the worse and more widespread the effects around him (including water turning to blood, the sun turning black, and a plague of boils) become. Thankfully, the heroes manage to defeat him before the tenth plague, the death of every firstborn son, becomes an issue. When he's resurrected in the sequel, the curse seems to have been lifted.
  • Colin, the monstrous janitor-creature in the Silent Hill movie, spreads masses of diseased tendrils pulsing through just about anything he touches, including bathroom tiles. For double the horror, these tendrils eventually form birthing points for oversized flesh-eating cockroaches. According to the director, this particular facet of Colin's powers was meant to represent sexually transmitted disease, another nod to the fact that Colin is implied to have raped Alessa while he was still human.
    • In a happy accident, this also functions as a subtle Shout-Out to Silent Hill 4's Victims, who corrupt the environment in similar ways.
  • The dementors in the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are portrayed this way. Flowers wither and die around them, water freezes, etc.
  • Warlock (1989). The title character has a power often attributed to witches in Real Life: when he's in the area milk turns sour.
  • In the Elektra movie, Typhoid (loosely based on Typhoid Mary) decays everything in close proximity to her. She can rot wood and rust metal and even give people diseases by kissing, or even by breathing a puff of (presumably miasmatic) air in their direction.
  • A man possessed by the Big Bad in Constantine is shown slaughtering a herd of cattle simply by passing through it.
  • Inspector Clouseau is described this way by Dreyfuss in one of the Pink Panther series: "Today [that town is] a beautiful paradise in the Swiss alps: tomorrow, a wasteland!"
  • The creature from Monster A-Go Go becomes this shortly before disappearing.
  • In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Carrigan is resurrected by the Devil as Blackout, a being with the power to decay anything he touches. Except Twinkies.
  • In R.I.P.D., the dead spirits who don't move on see their souls start to rot. This "soul stank" manifests in their surroundings as a sort of decay, often affecting anything electronic. When the Big Bad reveals himself, his until-then-normal house abruptly rots and decays and practically falls apart around him.
  • Hedorah from Godzilla vs. Hedorah is a kaiju-sized version of this. It's an alien life-form that feeds on pollution and is essentially a walking pile of toxic sludge. In fact, Hedorah is so toxic that not only did it produce enough sulfuric acid when it flew to cause people below it to instantly die and be reduced to skeletons, but it also caused Godzilla's own hand to be severely burned when he tried to punch it.
  • In Annals Of The Western Shore's first book, Gifts, Orrec goes blindfold in fear of this trope, as his family's power of unmaking relies on Deadly Gaze and he can't control it—he destroys the face of a hillside without knowing how and doesn't want to do it to anything else. He's safe, though, because it turns out he has no gift after all.

    Literature 
  • Croyd Crenson (a.k.a. the Sleeper) from the Wild Cards series has the unique ability to become reinfected with the wild card virus every time he goes to sleep, giving him a new power (or disfigurement) each time he wakes. In one book, he becomes a walking plague vector for a mutated version of the wild card virus that can infect people who've already been affected by the original version. A few people gain new powers, but many more die horribly. The rest of the book is a chase to track him down before he kills anyone else.
  • The Neverending Story features a gentle lion-like creature named Graograman, also known as The Many-Colored Death. Any living being that comes near him is turned to sand, and this effect extends for miles around him. His residence is far away from civilization, in the Desert of Colors, and he is very lonely.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story Rappaccini's Daughter is about a girl who was raised on poisons. In time, she became poisonous herself and had to be kept in a special garden away from things that would be killed by her. When her lover gives her a vial of antidote so that they can hopefully be together, it kills her.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Deus Sanguinius, the advent of a Walking Wasteland daemon spoils food, turns wine to vinegar, makes babies be stillborn, and causes a psychic (on a spaceship, off planet) to weep blood.
  • Full darkangels in The Darkangel Trilogy cause blight if they roost too long in one place. As one character points out, though, it's rather stupid for them to do this, since they ruin their own hunting grounds this way. Smart darkangels move around their territory to keep the poison from taking hold in the ground.
  • The Last Battle shows the Calormene god Tash making grass wilt wherever he goes and making the air smell like rotting flesh long before you see him.
  • Saul Dagenham from The Stars My Destination became this, after his Phlebotinum went horribly wrong; his radioactivity was so toxic that he was forbidden by law to spend more than thirty minutes per day in the company of anyone, including his wife.
  • The Groke from The Moomins, who sucks heat and life from everything around her through no fault of her own. Her attempts to hug people in the animated series caused nightmares to a generation of children.
  • A related problem plagues Chief White Halfoat in Catch-22 — wherever his family goes, oil appears. Oil companies figure this out, and begin chasing them across the country, drilling for oil wherever they settles down and kicking them out.
  • Randall Flagg, the Big Bad of Stephen King's The Stand, has this as part of his Enemy to All Living Things package. Everywhere he goes, the vegetation wilts, and animals that look upon him tend to die of fatal brain embolisms.
  • In the German Eco-Science Fiction Pulp Magazine series Die Terranauten, published between 1979 and 1987, an ultra-powerful psychic called Llewellyn 709 suffers from being a Walking Wasteland due to Power Incontinence. While people with psychic powers (called "Treiber") are not uncommon within the Terranauten universe, Llewellyn was the result of an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong. While the Terranauten organization was made up entirely of people with various psionic powers who can telepathically merge with living sentient spaceships that teleport through space, most worlds in known space still needed technological stardrives to achieve FTL flight and distrusted the "mutants". In the past, governments had hunted down rebel psychics and subjected them to lobotomies, while corporations had tried to create "super-mutants" with vastly increased powers but under their control by subjecting psychics to a massive bombardment of psionic energy. (Note that not all of those test subjects had volunteered.) Unfortunately, many test subjects went insane or died. Those that survived were permanently altered. Llewellyn 709 found that his body was no longer dependent on food and water, but he radiated a psionic aura so strong that everyone in the vicinity would go insane and eventually die and reality itself would warp. While Llewellyn can use this as a weapon of last resort, he cannot shut the energy off and the uncontrolled outpouring of energy causes him excruciating pain. The scientists who had created him came up with a way of containing the energy, by wrapping Llewellyn's naked body head to toe into a cocoon of overlapping strips of material coated with a mineral that absorbs and blocks psionic energies, making him look a bit like an Egyptian mummy covered in golden bandages. From this he got his nickname "Riemenmann", after he had managed to flee the laboratory.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, they find milk and eggs have gone bad. Gaunt suspects it has happened all over the city, and that his watch stopped for the same reason: a Chaos incursion.
  • In the Dragonlance Kingpriest Trilogy, Fistandantilus has a minor version of this ability, coupled with Evil Is Deathly Cold- everywhere he goes the temperature drops and plants freeze and whither, and if he sticks around long enough (which he admittedly generally doesn't) animals will start to freeze and drop dead too. Even the spellbooks he writes are painfully cold to the touch.
  • BIONICLE: Voporak gives off a temporal force field that ages anything thrown at him and can more quickly age objects through touch.
  • Alan Dean Foster's Journeys of the Catechist briefly featured the living essence of corruption, aptly named, Corruption. One character hits Corruption in the neck with his sword, which promptly rusts and rots away in seconds.
    • A similar being, called the Drounge, was encountered in the third book. Descriptions of it's travels before encountering the heroes tell of mysterious plagues, withered crops, and epidemics. Even touching the thing rots away all the flesh on one character's hand.
  • Kyp Durron does it deliberately for evil effect in the Jedi Academy Trilogy.
  • Pollution in Good Omens has this effect; for the most part, it seems to be an ability to make pollution happen rather than directly creating pollution himself, but his touch can tarnish a silver crown so thoroughly that it turns completely black. Famine has shades of this as well; his presence makes people hungry and apparently causes any nearby food to stop existing.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them mentions the Nundu, a gigantic leopard-like creature whose mere breath is toxic enough to wipe out entire villages.
  • For some reason, Jason Voorhees is given this power in Friday The13th Hate Kill Repeat. Small animals and plants just drop dead if they stay too close for too long.
  • Though Hazel from The Heroes of Olympus is an all-around nice girl, she was Cursed with Awesome at birth. Gemstones and riches underground tend to pop out whenever she's around, but anyone who takes and tries to get rich off of them meets horrible ends. Pluto seemed to imply that most of his children are like this to some extent, Hazel just takes it Up to Eleven.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Rand, (partially) after he's first known as the Dragon and random stuff happens around him. More fully during the Gathering Storm bit where he's so close to crossing the Despair Event Horizon and falling to The Dark Side via Being Good Sucks. Completely reversed after his whole Dragonmount meditation into Fertile Feet (which itself has the Green Man example.
    • The Dark One (or perhaps the Bore) is sort of an example, with the ever-growing Blight being the area of effect for the stationary Pit of Doom.
  • In Reborn, Carol becomes this with plants when she is pregnant with the reincarnation of Rasalom.
  • In Warrior Cats, this is part of the power of the Dark Forest. If they enter the physical world, everything they touch starts to decay. During The Last Hope, a huge army of Dark Forest warriors appear on WindClan territory and their decay powers start turning it into a second Dark Forest. Fortunately, Ivypool and Hollyleaf chase off the warriors before it can happen.
  • In The Sharing Knife, Malices absorb ground constantly to exist and grow. Near the lair of a newly emerged one plants and insects die off, injuries to greater creatures are slow to heal, and decay more or less stops. The stronger they grow, the worse and more widespread the effects become, to the point where rocks lose their form and people die just by remaining within 'blight' long enough. Even after the Malice is slain it takes time for things to return to normal, and much of the continent the books are set on have been in the latter state since a great conflict that wiped out most of civilization centuries ago.
  • In Andre Norton's Dread Companion, when Kilda picks a flower while arguing with her, Bartare makes it wither in her hand to frighten her off. Later, Kilda's reflection turns to a skeleton. Whether the flower was just an illusion of this is not revealed.

    Live Action TV 
  • The 4400 had a story arc where a man went in for the promicin shot (50/50 chance of either gaining superpowers or dying horribly), and came out on the "lucky" side. His power? He released promicin directly into the atmosphere, which was instantly absorbed by anyone in the area who wasn't wearing protection. Needless to say, a lot of people half of Seattle died.
    • An earlier episode featured a 4400 woman who released a deadly virus into the atmosphere when she felt threatened or nervous (which, due to her apparent psychological issues, is pretty much all the time).
  • Heroes had three examples: Ted Sprague of season 1, whose inability to control his power to produce radiation killed his wife, Maya of season 2, who somehow kills everyone in her vicinity if she gets too stressed and Jeremy Greer of season 4, who can manipulate life forces, accidentally killed his parents by touching them.
    • Maya, at least, eventually learned how to control her power, and had it cured.
    • Ted's story featured one really cool scene where the camera lifted up to show the grass dying in a slowly expanding circle around him.
  • Possible example: Cady from Reaper. She's mostly a nice girl, though there have been hints of Yandere tendencies, but flowers and small animals die in her presence. She may or may not be the devil's daughter.
  • The Villain of the Week in the Brimstone episode "Carrier" caused infection in her wake.
    • Only if she kissed people, or had some other exchange of bodily fluids (before she 'died' she killed a bunch of people by throwing up in a reservoir). Mind you, her post-Hell infection made even The Devil nervous!
  • Happens in Point Pleasant for one scene near the end as the protagonist is walking out of a hospital.
  • In Supernatural, the Winchester brothers encountered a girl who had been resurrected and Came Back Wrong. This particular zombie wilted plants everywhere it went; the girl's grave, where she had been resurrected, had a good ten to fifteen foot radius of trees, grass and flowers that were dead. However, this was a side effect of the zombification status. The really bad part comes in where she's implacably Axe Crazy.
    • Pestilence becomes this when he turns on his ring's powers. This immediately causes everyone in the vicinity to develop painful and horrific diseases. Sam and Dean are both incapacitated when they get too close to him.
    • Death goes to get some food at a diner. When Dean enters he finds that everyone in the room died in Death's presence.
  • The Daily Show had a running joke about this, playing on former Vice President Dick Cheney's insistence that his residence (One Observatory Circle) be pixellated on Google Earth (while The White House wasn't).
    Jon Stewart: I'm not saying Dick Cheney absorbs light. Or that if he were to brush by a plant, that plant would three days later die.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a group of scientists create a highly advanced group of humans that are telepathic and could never get sick. The main problem is that their immune systems are so agressive that anyone who gets close to them starts aging rapidly and dies. They have to be kept in isolation forever.
  • Torchwood has Abaddon, a colossal demon whose shadow instantly kills anything it falls upon.
  • The Bringers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are said to cause sterility in both the land and in living things.

    Music 
  • The Grim Reaper is portrayed this way in Ensiferum's video for "From Afar". Everywhere he walks, plants shrivel and the bark peels off trees.
  • Nora in "The Talk of Nora's Badness" by The World/Inferno Friendship Society has this reputation: "Spreading trouble in her wake, like a great ship / Couples fight, milk spoils, flowers wither and horses kick / Babies cry, light bulbs burn out / Hard drives die when she walks about / Dogs howl and fall to the ground / Bottles break and drummers quit"
  • Nekron from the Dark Secret Saga: When he finally conquered the elvish valleys, his mere presence caused the spontaneous death of all the plants and trees. To drive it even further, even the rivers dried out or turned in disgusting swamps.

    Mythology 
  • In medieval European bestiaries, the basilisk, or "king of serpents", was one of these. Never mind biting; it could kill creatures with super-lethal poison just by looking them in the eyes, or when they inhale the noxious fumes it emanates. Not just animals and humans, by the way; it would cause plants to burn up and make stones explode with its poisonous aura and breath. The only way to kill it was to drop it in a weasel's burrow; the weasel was thought to be incredibly filthy, and the basilisk would presumably die from all the dross it took in from biting the weasel at around the same time the poison overtook the weasel.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mortasheen's Hollowile has a lesser version of this, having a moisture draining aura surrounding it that turns leaves brown and brittle in its wake.
  • Promethean: The Created: As part of every Promethean's Disquiet, if they spend too long in a certain area, a Wasteland starts to take hold as the Promethean's central humor goes out of control. Frankensteins, whose humor is fire, generate static electricity to the point where electrical equipment no longer works; Galateids, whose humor is air, lead to the wind growing still and stultifying; Osirans, whose humor is water, lead to water turning thick, oily, and generally undrinkable; Tammuz, whose humor is earth, cause the earth and stone around them to erode and turn to dust; and Ulgans, whose humor is spirit, cause the barriers between the material world and the Shadow Realm (And other places...oh dear) to collapse. Needless to say, it really sucks if you're one of the rare nuclear Prometheans...
  • Subverted in Warhammer Fantasy with chaos champion Aekold Helbrass, cursed to spread life with his every footstep and played straight Nurgle and his minions, who wither crops and sour milk with their passing.
    • Warhammer also has the Beastman special character Slugtongue, who is nothing but this trope - spreading a pall of sickness, famine, withering and death is what he's all about.
  • In GURPS the Lifebane disadvantage is a mild form of this - it kills small plants, insects etc. in the character's vicinity, but doesn't harm larger creatures. In Vampire: The Masquerade, a similar flaw was called Taint of Corruption.
  • In Deadlands, there is a flaw, fittingly named "Grim Servant o' Death", that makes you somehow a silent servant of the reaper; just being around in a place results in any and every sort of catastrophe. You are not affected, but around you, everything deadly that can go wrong, will go wrong. Not good for your reputation.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had a few prestige class options that allow players to become these if they wish (though they can also be used for npc villains), such as the Walker in the Waste, a mobile desert generator, who eventually could become desert-spreading Dry Liches.
    • In the Dark Sun setting, the two wizard classes were Defilers and Preservers; the major difference between them was that, while Preservers cast spells in harmony with nature but went up levels slowly, the Defiler went up levels quickly and killed all plant life in a foot radius equal to the level of spell they cast.
    • Walkers in the Waste are a subversion of the way this trope is normally played as they have gone out of their way to devote themselves to the desert and the ability to spread it across the world in the desert's ultimate gift to them. At least thats the flavor/story aspect. Once they gain the ability, they have to be consciously suppress it in order for it to stop, every turn (for the small mechanical cost of a free action per turn). You forget to tell your dm your using a free action to have the ability off that turn, you have your mini desert back. So its not like a switch which stays the way you leave it.
    • The elven strain of vampirism from the Ravenloft setting causes the afflicted to acquire a "black thumb", which kills plants on contact.
    • The odic, an undead spirit from the Basic/Expert/etc version of D&D, has a vegetation-killing aura.
    • The otherwise forgettable Blighter prestiege class generates the power for spellcasting by absorbing it from nearby vegetation, instantly killing and withering large swaths of fertile land. Sadly, the class is horrible from a game mechanics standpoint and does not at all live up to the flavor surrounding it.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the atrophal, a type of abomiation (a class of evil creatures with godlike powers detailed in the Epic Level Handbook). Its a stillborn god, basically a giant flying fetus animated by a spark of divine will and utter hatred for all things that live while it will never be able to. As part of its power it radiates a negative energy aura that affects all living creatures in 500m radius, supressing their level by 10 until they leave. That means anything level ten and below will keel over dead ( and rise as undead) before they even see it.
    • The Drowned (an undead monster spawned from people who died guess how) have a drowning aura. Anyone within a certain radius of them finds their lungs spontaneously filling with water. They can kill the crew of a ship simply by swimming underneath and waiting for those above to keel over.
  • Exalted features the Abyssal Exalted, who as well as actively setting out to ruin the world can ruin it just by being around. Ironically, this tends to apply more to those who actively try to do good deeds — they acquire Resonance, which is only discharged by the destruction of living things about them and other assorted horrible maladies. Of course, if you're an evil person to start with, you could find this funny. Whether or not Resonance is a form of Cursed with Awesome or Blessed with Suck depends an awful lot on the individual involved.
    • Infernal Exalted actually posses the ability to call Cecelyne the Endless Desert (a demon-god representing physical and spiritual wastelands) into Creation. Infernals are most definitely both Cursed with Awesome and Blessed with Suck as well as being chock full of Nightmare Fuel.
  • Magic: The Gathering has Phage and the Cabal Patriarch. Phage caused any organic matter she came into contact with to rot away (not a pleasant way to go), while the Patriarch drained the life force from those he touched.
  • In the Warcraft table top rpg, Sargeras, the Big Bad for the Warcraft setting, had an aura that raised the temperature by 50 degrees within a thousand mile radius of his location, causing serious enviromental damage. The closer to him, the hotter it got.
  • 7th Sea has the (theoretically extinct) Zerstorung school of sorcery, whose practitioners could decay anything they touched, and at higher levels, turn them to dust. Some practitioners could even do it from a distance. The sorcery is, however, controllable.
  • Warhammer40000 has Abaddon, who is sometimes depicted as causing all life near him to die, Depending on the Writer.

    Video Games 
  • In Brutal Legend, the Drowning Doom army has a unit called the Dirigible, a blimp that spreads crematory ash. Around it, the land turns to dead desert clay, and people involuntarily get depressed around it, lowering defense.
  • In City of Heroes, the hero Positron suffered a horrible accident during the Rikti War and lost control of his power to control nuclear energy. As a result, he spent the next few years bolted up in his powersuit, afraid that if he stepped out of it, he'd irradiate everything in the area.
  • The title character of American Mc Gees Grimm makes things around him as dark and ugly as he is as he walks around: pretty flowers become ugly weeds, cute animals become twisted and scary, happy and brightly dressed people become drab and mean (or just depressed), and many things start oozing blood or ichor. The more things he "grimmifies" in a stage, the more powerful the effect gets.
  • In the fantasy strategy game Age of Wonders, the Undead Reaper unit leaves a trail of wasteland terrain in its wake. Similarly, the Frost Queen unit blankets the ground with snow, and the Reaper's opposite number, the Nature Elemental, turns other terrain into fertile grasslands.
  • Dynamo Man from Mega Man & Bass has an experimental compact reactor inside him that will kill any living thing that gets too close.
  • In the cutscene preceding the battle against The Emperor in Ninja Gaiden, when the Emperor awakens, he flaps his wings once, and the entire field of flowers die instantly, and the world turns into what looks like Hell.
  • In MediEvil, after Zarok casts his second spell, its other intended effects are transmitted via his very presence: in his wake, the dead rise from their graves, plantlife begins to mutate, and a Sickly Green Glow will appear in places.
  • Heather of Silent Hill 3, due to the evil god gestating inside of her, causes anywhere she goes to be encroached upon by the Dark World of the series, a place so twisted calling it a wasteland would be a compliment.
  • In the Roguelike game Ancient Domains of Mystery, molochs leave a trail of blighted ground where they walk.
  • In Armored Core 4 and For Answer, NEXT's are this due to Kojima Particles (used for Primal Armor and Game Breaker Kojima Weapons), which are described as being radioactive and "polluting" (which probably means "hard to get rid off and will not go away naturally")
  • In Warcraft 3, the Undead Scourge had the "Blight" which turned all land around Undead buildings into plagued wastelands and killed all trees and vegetation. In addition, in the final Night Elf level, Archimonde had an aura that had a similar effect. The land around him would be blighted as he walked.
    • In the introductory movie for the first release of World of Warcraft, the footsteps of a Forsaken warlock set fire to the grass he's walking on.
    • There's also the Corrupted Blood incident, where a boss had the ability to inflict a health-draining Status Effect that was also contagious. Since the player was allowed to leave during the fight, some players got the bright idea to infect themselves and then wander out into the world and spread the disease as much as they could, causing a virtual epidemic (even certain NPCs were infected, but unable to die thanks to NPC invulnerability.) Even when Blizzard cracked down on the plague, infected users would still find ways to break through the quarantines and spread it further. The incident is now used as a case study on the spread of real-life diseases like the swine flu.
  • Muk from the Pokémon games, which is a giant sentient blob of toxic...well...muck. Its Pokedex entries state that it leaves a trail of contamination wherever it goes, and even a single touch of its body is enough to turn an entire pool of water rancid. However, in the Pokémon anime, we see Ash's Muk wandering the grounds of Professor Oak's ranch and sometimes smothering Professor Oak or even Ash himself, but neither the grounds or the humans are ever harmed by Muk's touch. Perhaps they can choose whether or not to use that "power"?
    • Of course, the Pokedex entries tend to be hard to believe sometimes (species of Pokemon that are often described as downright dangerous, are depicted as harmless or even friendly in the anime), making you wonder if some of the entries were more myth and rumor than fact.
    • Another interesting example is the Pokemon Garbodor, introduced in Pokémon Black and White. You would think as a living garbage bag, it would qualify, right? Wrong! Its the opposite, it picks up garbage and the like to reinforce its body.
  • The Smoky Progg from the first Pikmin game leaves a trail of deadly fog that will kill your Pikmin.
  • The Darkspawn of Dragon Age spread an effect called "the Taint" wherever they go that kills plants, mutates people and animals into twisted thralls, and even rots the ground itself like fetid meat. The codex states that some areas they've passed through are so noxious that dead bodies won't rot as all insects and bacteria are already dead.
    • It also states that it can takes decades for Blightlands to recover or even become habitable again afterwards.
    • The Messenger from Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening is the "perfectly nice person spreads wasteland" version of this trope, being a darkspawn imbued with sapience and free will who's decided to help out travelers in danger and just generally be a good guy. Unfortunately, he still spreads the Taint despite all his good intentions, as the epilogue notes.
  • In Grabbed by the Ghoulies, The Grim Reaper will drain all the color from objects and surfaces within a certain radius around him, turning them a sickly shade of gray. (They return to normal once outside this radius, however.)
  • Darth Nihilus from Knights of the Old Republic II is a Humanoid Abomination that feeds on the life energy of all those around him, and can devour the life force of an entire planet by speaking. Anyone who is in his presence for an extended period of time will slowly have their life and their mind devoured by him, turning them into semi-undead husks.
  • Baal in Diablo II cutscenes appears to do this, spreading a dark, smoky aura, blackening and cracking the ground, and even the skies darken at his approach. Whether the blighting aura is innate or intentional, it is suppressed while he's disguised as Tyrael.
  • It's said in Diablo III that the Prime Evils leave demons in their footsteps as mortals leave footprints, which certainly seems to be the case throughout the series. They also warp and corrupt their environment, and nowhere is this more strongly seen than when Diablo invades Heaven.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Misery of Ruby Gloom seems to have trouble with this.
  • The Justice League Unlimited episode "The Greatest Story Never Told" features a man who was accidentally turned into a walking black hole, sucking in everything in sight.
  • Looney Tunes's Pepe LePew is a milder example of this. His pungent aroma causes flowers to wilt, men and beasts alike to scatter, even the artwork on the Louvre to crack and peel.
    • There's also his occasional protege in Tiny Toon Adventures, Fifi LeFume, whose stench is even more potent, capable of melting metal. She seems to have far more control over it, however - most of the time.
  • Played for love with The Simpsons's Mr. Burns.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of The Fairly Oddparents:
    Mom: (sobbing) "Everything I touch dies!" (people around her step back slowly)
    Dad: "Oh, Dinkleburg! Don't you want to come over and give my wife a congratulatory hand-touch?"
  • The very presence of Sir Darkly, from Sushi Pack, causes everyone in the vicinity to instantly burst into tears, and wherever he goes flowers wilt, ice cream scoops fall off of cones, seesaws break, and water even freezes.
  • Batman Beyond's Derek Powers, being a walking piece of radioactivity whose proximity was both toxic and hot enough to soften metal. When making his first appearance in his superpowered form, he delivers a Badass Boast which provides the page quote.
  • A recurring villain of Grossology is Kid Rot, who due to a science experiment gone wrong causes everything around him to decay. In his initial appearance, he was a very sympathetic character and eventually discovered that things he rotted made for a compost that caused things to very rapidly regrow. However, this was dropped by his second appearance where he became less heroic and more insane.
    • This insanity, of course, is due to the fact that his rotting powers are caused by some sort of parasite inhabiting his inner body. It's impossible to remove, and slowly took over his mind.
  • The Lich from Adventure Time causes everything he touches to die. How are Finn and Jake told to follow him? By following the 'path of death he leaves in his wake, a several foot trench in the ground caused just by him moving over it.
  • Galvanised NegaDuck in Darkwing Duck. In the episode "NegaDuck", Darkwing gets split into a good and evil side by a device that splits things in two by separating the two kinds of particles that all matter is composed of, the good positrons and the evil negatrons. (Yes, It Runs on Nonsensoleum.) When the evil negatron-Darkwing gets hit by the ray again, he becomes "galvanised", sparkling with energy capable of destroying his surroundings, and sets out to destroy Saint Canard.
  • The staff power of Darkstorm from Visionaries was defined as Decay. Because of the program being a children's show, his power is only show to desiccate others, but not outright kill them.
  • Doctor Paradox's assistant in Ben 10: Alien Force got caught in an experimental time gate, warping him from the 1950s to the present day but also turning him into a humanoid monster who rapidly accelerates time, so much so that animals fossilize and concrete disintegrates by him touching them. The only two things shown to be unaffected by his contact are Doctor Paradox himself (as Paradox is unaffected by the passage of time) and gumballs (It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context).
  • ThunderCats has Plutar, a one-shot villain who could make any organic matter he touched instantly rot and crumble, even massive trees. Fortunately, he has a Weaksauce Weakness: soap.

    Real Life 
  • There's the real life Typhoid Mary, a private cook who spread typhoid to the families she worked for. She's well-known for her utter denial to believe she had the disease, to the point of being forcibly quarantined for the rest of her life so that she wouldn't infect anyone else. Although Mary Mallon was a carrier for the disease, she not only never displayed symptoms, but had actually tested clean for it at one point (due to being in temporary remission). In that time, the very idea that you can carry the disease and do not fall ill yourself was a fairly recent discovery, and even in the scientific community there were detractors. Not to mention an uneducated Irish cook.
  • Being irradiated, if media is to be believed. That depends primarily on the type of radiation the person has been exposed to. Photon radiation (like gamma for example) as well as Beta radiation (basically unattached electrons flying at high speed) can definitely give a man radiation sickness, but it doesn't actually turn one radioactive. Certain other particle radiation, like Neutron radiation or Alpha radiation (unattached Helium nuclei) on the other hand, are capable of turning other neutral objects radioactive. However, if a human was hit by enough Neutron or Alpha radiation to actually serve as a threat to anyone else by second hand radioactivity, the original human would be dead or at the very least incapacitated rather quickly by radiation sickness, and not actually capable of walking around after as little as a few hours at most.
  • Lung diseases caused by working with asbestos can affect not only the unlucky employee, but anyone in his family who hugs him or handles his clothes.
  • The mystery of Gloria Ramirez is still not conclusively solved, but the story of this California woman served as an inspiration for episodes of The X-Files, Law & Order, and Grey's Anatomy. After being rushed to the Riverside General Hospital while dying of cancer, Ms. Ramirez began to exude an oily, garlicky-smelling substance from her pores that caused nausea, fainting, muscle spasms and other documented symptoms in those attempting to treat her. Eventually the entire emergency room had to be evacuated, leaving behind only a skeleton crew who tended to her as she died. The most likely explanation is that Ramirez had been taking dimethyl sulphoxide, or DMSO, which is sometimes used as an analgesic and is known to have this effect when taken orally. The levels in her bloodstream might have been abnormally high due to kidney failure, and when exposed pure oxygen and several shocks from a defibrilator the DMSO turned into DMSO 4 (dimethyl sulphate), a highly toxic gas.
  • Secondhand smoke is well known to be dangerous to non-smokers.
  • During the Columbian Exchange, everywhere the Europeans went in the Americas, waves of disease followed, with casualty rates in the tens of millions. The resulting depopulation caused societal collapse throughout the western hemisphere, which led to the overgrowth of wild plants and animals in places that had been carefully cultivated — i.e., the better part of both continents. The Europeans were this trope played straight as an arrow.


Universal PoisonToxic TropesWithholding the Cure
Super SmokeMagic and PowersWhatevermancy
Waking Up at the MorgueDeath TropesWall Slump
Volcanic VeinsAdded Alliterative AppealWardrobe Wound
Sitting Sexy on a PianoImageSource/Live-Action FilmsFag Hag

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