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Love Sacrificed For Power

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There is Human Sacrifice... and there is this.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Omeganian on Mar 17th 2017 at 2:15:35 AM
Last Edited By:
Omeganian on Dec 6th 2018 at 11:04:37 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Stonekeeper: To ensure that whoever possesses it, understands its power. The stone demands a sacrifice.
Thanos: Of what?
Stonekeeper: In order to take the stone, you must lose that which you love. A soul for a soul.

Human Sacrifice is an evil way of obtaining power, hardly anyone argues with that. But sometimes, when you need more power, a simple sacrifice is not enough. You need something more evil. You need someone really close to you. Your parents, your child... maybe even your One True Love. The price is high... and so is the reward.

Note; the trope isn't about when a relative is simply easier to get one's hands upon than a random person; it's when a random person simply won't do.

Sub-Trope to Power at a Price, Human Sacrifice, Targeted Human Sacrifice, Equivalent Exchange. Compare Sadistic Choice and Kill the Ones You Love, where it's not something good happening if you accept the deal, but something really bad happening when you don't. Can be considered the ultimate example of If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten. In some rare cases, the victim might be willing, in which case we have Heroic Sacrifice.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • This is the entire point of the Sacrifice required to become a demon from Berserk, as first revealed in the Guardians of Desire arc. By consigning that which you most love to be eaten by demons, the would-be Apostle (or Godhand) cuts himself or herself off from humanity and opens himself or herself to evil.
  • Naruto: Itachi implied that in order to awaken the Mangekyo Sharingan, an Uchiha must kill their loved ones. While Itachi did gain it with that method, the truth is that any kind of severe emotional trauma (such as losing a loved one) can awaken the eye; Itachi himself gain it when he was forced to kill his best friend Shisui because the latter knew too much about the conspiracy in Konoha.

Comic Books

Fanfic

Film

  • From Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, you need to sacrifice someone you love in order to get the Soul Stone. For Thanos, this rather limits the options, but, unfortunately, not enough.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, this is the main procedure of the Big Bad Ego the Living Planet, in which get children with women from diverse species to kill their mothers and use their children as human batteries so he can get more power and immortality. That includes Peter Quill and his mother, the latter was affected and died by cancer thanks to him. The extent of love is unclear, but blood connection does seem important.

Literature

  • In the backstory of A Song of Ice and Fire legendary Precursor Hero Azor Ahai fought against and ultimately triumphed (at least according to legend, as both Unreliable Narrator and Legend Fades to Myth is always in effect when it comes to events from the past) against a worldwide catastrophe thanks in part to a magic Flaming Sword he created. The dark side to the legend that's not always told, however, is that after several attempts to forge his magic sword, Azor Ahai finally succeeded by using his own wife as a Human Sacrifice in his third and final attempt.
    Salladhor Saan: A hundred days and a hundred nights he labored on the third blade, and as it glowed white-hot in the sacred flames, he summoned his wife. Nissa Nissa, he said to her, for that was her name, bare your breast, and know that I love you best of all that is in this world. She did this thing, why I cannot say, and Azor Ahai thrust the smoking sword through her living heart. It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstacy left a crack across the face of the moon, but her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel. Such is the tale of the forging of Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes.
  • Tarrant from the Coldfire Trilogy gained his immortality by ritually sacrificing his family.
  • At the very end of The Warlord Chronicles, Nimue uses her former teacher and lover Merlin as a human sacrifice to cast a spell that dooms Arthur and, much to Nimue's chagrin, all of Britain to the Saxons.
  • Kushiel's Legacy: The Religion of Evil of Drujan honors The Anti-God Angra Mainyu through "ill thoughts, ill words, ill deeds"; its Aka Magi are endowed supernatural powers like a Touch of Death through a ritual wherein they sacrifice someone they love. Ironically, this holds back their leader, the Mahrkagir, from becoming an avatar of Angra Mainyu, since he's a complete monster who's never loved anybody.
  • In The Dresden Files book Skin Game, the villainous Nicodemus conscripts Dresden into helping him break into Hades's vault for powerful treasures within. Part of this involves a door that can only be opened by the ghost of someone killed in the chamber. The only person Nicodemus trusted to do this was his own daughter, Deirdre, a fact that devastates him, but doesn't stop him.
  • N. K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy: The sacrifice of a loved one is necessary to become ruler of the The Empire, because the Top God who sponsors the Arameri dynasty demands that they show their willingness to do anything for the Empire. Also because rulership can only be transferred by the will of a mortal who has temporarily absorbed the power of the dead Top God Enefa, which invariably kills them.
  • Literature.Whateley Universe: From Silver Linings Chapter 2: Parts 2 to 9: The Purple Witch uses magic of this nature:
    the working to create that conjuration required the sacrifice of something loved.

Live Action TV

  • One episode of Lois & Clark dealt with Lois' former boyfriend who was obsessed with ancient druids, and was trying to assemble an ancient magical mask while performing human sacrifices along the way. He believed that sacrificing Lois, his true love, would be the final step. Ultimately subverted, he obviously never sacrificed Lois, but was able to use the mask's powers enough to give Superman a run for his money.
  • In Once Upon a Time, a Dark Curse requires you to sacrifice the person you love most in the world to cast it. The ramifications and loopholes of this are explored with unusual depth in the third season. More generally in the series, removing your own heart and locking it away increases your magical power and makes you less vulnerable, but at the cost of your positive emotions, leading to increasingly sociopathic behaviour.

Tabletop Games

  • From The Gates of Hell:
    • Amdusius grants power to children who kill their own parents. If the parents are dead, another two persons are designated by the Duke.
    • With Bael, a person must personally kill someone close to him (a wife or a child, for example), just to get an audience.
  • 1001 Science Fiction Weapons has the Witherslant Masters, who sell futuristic weapons in a Little Shop That Wasnt There Yesterday. Normally, the price for one of their gun is assassinating a certain number of people as chosen by them. However, their Omega Model gun (one only available if specifically requested), has a much simpler price - killing the one whom the client loves the most. Mind you; he's not told who the person is, he must figure it out on his own.

Theatre:

  • A more literal example is present in The Ring of the Nibelung, where Alberich gains the ability to forge the titular Artifact of Doom by renouncing Love, sacrificing his capacity to feel any sort of affection in exchange for the promise of power over the world.

Video Game

  • Guildenstern in Vagrant Story stabs his fiancee Samantha and offers her up as a sacrifice in order to obtain the power of The Dark.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • The Ebony Blade, signature weapon of the Daedric Prince Mephala, grows more powerful if used to murder someone who trusts the wielder.
    • Boethia the Prince of Plots demands a sacrifice of someone who trusts the player enough to follow them into battle before they will allow the player to retrieve the Ebony Mail.
  • Arkham from Devil May Cry 3 sacrificed his wife to demons in a bid to become a god.
  • After Jack of Blades is defeated in Fable I, you are given a choice between destroying the Sword of Aeons that Jack spent the game trying to claim, or using it to kill your sister Teresa and unlocking its power for your own use.
  • In Planescape: Torment, the Nameless One's Practical Incarnation willingly sacrificed Deionarra at the Fortress of Regret, knowing that her feelings for him would bind her soul there and allow him to use her to get through it. He ultimately failed in his quest but her spirit was able to help his next incarnation. This is actually an inversion; he used her love for him, but had none for her.
  • In Fable III, the Bloodstone Bludgeon grants a damage bonus if the wielder uses it to kill five people who love them. There's also the Tenderiser, which gains the ability to corrupt its wielder if they use it to kill three spouses.

Western Animation

  • In Young Justice the villain Harm murdered the only person he ever truly loved, his own sister Greta, to obtain the "Purity of Heart" required to wield the magic sword Beowulf, since someone who's pure evil is capable of it.

Feedback: 28 replies

Mar 17th 2017 at 3:48:23 AM

In Once Upon A Time, a Dark Curse requires you to sacrifice the person you love most in the world to cast it. The ramifications and loopholes of this are explored with unusual depth in the third season. More generally in the series, removing your own heart and locking it away increases you r magical power and makes you less vulnerable, but at the cost of your positive emotions, leading to increasingly sociopathic behaviour.

Mar 17th 2017 at 1:58:38 PM

Likely to overlap with If Youre So Evil Eat This Kitten (possibly another subtrope?)

  • Guildenstern in Vagrant Story stabs his fiancee Samantha and offers her up as a sacrifice in order to obtain the power of The Dark.

  • The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim:
    • The Ebony Blade, signature weapon of the Daedric Prince Mephala, grows more powerful if used to murder someone who trusts the wielder.
    • Boethia the Prince of Plots demands a sacrifice of someone who trusts the player enough to follow them into battle before they will allow the player to retrieve the Ebony Mail.

  • Arkham from Devil May Cry 3 sacrificed his wife to demons in a bid to become a god.

Mar 17th 2017 at 2:57:39 PM

I found this in Kill The Ones You Love

  • This is the entire point of the Sacrifice required to become a demon from Berserk, as first revealed in the Guardians of Desire arc. By consigning that which you most love to be eaten by demons, the would-be Apostle (or Godhand) cuts himself or herself off from humanity and opens himself or herself to evil. Unlike most of the examples on this page, this act is presented as a monstrous betrayal of everything the person holds dear and a crossing of the Moral Event Horizon, both because of the Cruel And Unusual Deaths often suffered by those who get the Brand put on them and due to the added little detail that anyone sacrificed in the creation of a demon gets his or her soul condemned to Hell for all eternity.

That sounds like it fits better for this trope.

Mar 18th 2017 at 4:45:45 PM

  • A non magical variety occurs in Dangerous Liaisons. The Vicomte falls head over heels for a woman of lesser standing. He is offered greater power in the French government if he dumps her at the behest of the Marquise. He simply repeats "It's beyond my control," over and over again to his beloved's entreaties, tears finally filling his eyes and spilling over after he has turned his back on her.

Mar 18th 2017 at 7:09:43 PM

  • In the backstory of A Song Of Ice And Fire legendary Precursor Hero Azor Ahai fought against and ultimately triumphed (at least according to legend, as both Unreliable Narrator and Legend Fades To Myth is always in effect when it comes to events from the past) against a worldwide catastrophe thanks in part to a magic Flaming Sword he created. The dark side to the legend that's not always told, however, is that after several attempts to forge his magic sword, Azor Ahai finally succeeded by using his own wife as a Human Sacrifice in his third and final attempt.
    Salladhor Saan: A hundred days and a hundred nights he labored on the third blade, and as it glowed white-hot in the sacred flames, he summoned his wife. Nissa Nissa, he said to her, for that was her name, bare your breast, and know that I love you best of all that is in this world. She did this thing, why I cannot say, and Azor Ahai thrust the smoking sword through her living heart. It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstacy left a crack across the face of the moon, but her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel. Such is the tale of the forging of Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes.
  • Tarrant from the Coldfire Trilogy gained his immortality by ritually sacrificing his family.
  • At the very end of The Warlord Chronicles, Nimue uses her former teacher and lover Merlin as a human sacrifice to cast a spell that dooms Arthur and, much to Nimue's chagrin, all of Britain to the Saxons.

Mar 18th 2017 at 8:06:06 PM

Naruto: Itachi implied that in order to awaken the Mangekyo Sharingan, an Uchiha must kill their loved ones. While Itachi did gain it with that method, the truth is that any kind of severe emotional trauma (such as losing a loved one) can awaken the eye; Itachi himself gain it when he was forced to kill his best friend Shisui because the latter knew too much about the conspiracy in Konoha.

Mar 29th 2017 at 12:08:29 PM

Theatre:

  • In The Ring Of The Nibelung, Alberich gains the ability to forge the titular Artifact Of Doom by renouncing Love, sacrificing his capacity to feel any sort of affection in exchange for the promise of power over the world.

Mar 29th 2017 at 3:23:32 PM

  • After Jack of Blades is defeated in Fable I, you are given a choice between destroying the Sword of Aeons that Jack spent the game trying to claim, or using it to kill your sister Teresa and unlocking its power for your own use.

Mar 30th 2017 at 1:13:33 PM

  • In Planescape Torment the Nameless One's Practical Incarnation willingly sacrificed Deionarra at the Fortress of Regret, knowing that her feelings for him would bind her soul there and allow him to use her to get through it. He ultimately failed in his quest but her spirit was able to help his next incarnation.
  • In Young Justice the villain Harm murdered the only person he ever truly loved, his own sister Greta, to obtain the "Purity of Heart" required to wield the magic sword Beowulf, since someone who's pure evil is capable of it.

Mar 30th 2017 at 6:59:25 PM

  • Blaz Blue: Relius sacrificed his own wife, Ignis, to turn her into a powerful combat puppet on par with the Nox Nyctores in the verse.

Apr 1st 2017 at 10:52:26 AM

^ To clarify; the trope is for when the closeness is required for the sacrifice, instead of it simply being a matter of a relative being the closest person available.

Jul 5th 2018 at 5:03:10 PM

In rare cases, the loved one is willing to go through this.

Jul 5th 2018 at 10:12:55 PM

Video Games

  • In Fable III, the Bloodstone Bludgeon grants a damage bonus if the wielder uses it to kill five people who love them. There's also the Tenderiser, which gains the ability to corrupt its wielder if they use it to kill three spouses.

Jul 6th 2018 at 2:10:04 AM

  • Blue Linked some TV Tropes page names.
  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.

Jul 7th 2018 at 9:03:32 AM

  • Kushiels Legacy: The Religion Of Evil of Drujan honors The Anti God Angra Mainyu through "ill thoughts, ill words, ill deeds"; its Aka Magi are endowed supernatural powers like a Touch Of Death through a ritual wherein they sacrifice someone they love. Ironically, this holds back their leader, the Mahrkagir, from becoming an avatar of Angra Mainyu, since he's a complete monster who's never loved anybody.

Jul 7th 2018 at 9:38:36 PM

  • In The Dresden Files book Skin Game, the villainous Nicodemus conscripts Dresden into helping him break into Hades's vault for powerful treasures within. Part of this involves a door that can only be opened by the ghost of someone killed in the chamber. The only person Nicodemus trusted to do this was his own daughter, Deirdre, a fact that devastates him, but doesn't stop him.

Jul 11th 2018 at 9:23:22 PM

As for the main quote for the page, how about Red Skull's dialogue in Avengers Infinity War on how to acquire the Soul Stone:

Stonekeeper: To ensure that whoever possesses it, understands its power. The stone demands a sacrifice.
Thanos: Of what?
Stonekeeper: In order to take the stone, you must lose that which you love. A soul for a soul.

Jul 15th 2018 at 12:05:06 PM

Oct 24th 2018 at 2:25:02 AM

  • Blaz Blue: Relius Clover turned his own wife, Ignis, into a powerful combat automaton. This was after he unsuccessfully tried to fuse his daughter Ada with the legendary automaton Nirvana.

Dec 3rd 2018 at 4:31:10 PM

Dec 3rd 2018 at 6:23:46 PM

Literature.Whateley Universe: From Silver Linings Chapter 2: Parts 2 to 9: The Purple Witch uses magic of this nature:

the working to create that conjuration required the sacrifice of something loved.

Dec 5th 2018 at 9:02:50 PM

I think I got another example of this in Marvel Cinematic Universe:

  • In Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2, this is the main procedure of the Big Bad Ego the Living Planet, in which get children with women from diverse species to kill their mothers and use their children as human batteries so he can get more power and immortality. That includes Peter Quill and his mother, the latter was affected and died by cancer thanks to him.

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