CornwindEvilman on Oct 14th 2016 at 11:18:12 PM
Last Edited By:
intastiel on Oct 6th 2017 at 6:54:04 PM
Page Type: trope
A theory that crops up often in paranormal studies and theories is that actions and emotions leave a sort of "residue" on locations. This concept is usually used to explain why a place is haunted, suffering from poltergeists, and whatnot: bad things have "stained" the place. And sometimes, it seems, bad things stain souls as well.
It's an old saw: someone kills someone, often in an extremely cruel or vicious way, but they don't stay dead. Unfortunately, they don't stay themselves either. The actions that led to their demise have completely consumed them; all they want is to lash out at anyone they can, no matter how much or how little the person had to do with their demise. In a deeply tragic sense, they have suffered an even deeper, more final victimization; the murderer's deeds have corrupted them into something else. Sometimes you can reason with these poor — albeit dangerous — souls; sometimes they're just seeking revenge but striking out blindly... but sometimes they just want to keep inflicting pain. Madden Into Misanthropy has gone to its final, logical extreme: the person persists despite being dead, and all the entity wishes to do now is evil.
This trope only applies if the victim was a good or at least neutral person before their death. People who were monsters in life and remain so beyond the grave do not count.
- Bleach: Hollows are human souls that were not sent to Soul Society by a Soul Reaper (or if evil, sent to Hell), and turn into monsters that prey on the souls of both living and dead humans. They usually target their own families first, and can sometimes create other Hollows from their attacks on humans.
- Junji Ito's story 'The Seashore'' has this. A group of schoolchildren tragically drowned and seem to be spending their afterlife luring in new people to drown for the sake of killing them.
- Jason Todd from Batman is always a troubled, aggressive child, but he stands by Batman's Thou Shalt Not Kill code and fights by his side as Robinnote . Then the Joker kidnaps and brutally murders him during A Death in the Family, and years after that, the events of Infinite Crisis cause him to return to life.note Jason then adopts the Joker's original identity, Red Hood, and attempts to take over organized crime in Gotham in a ploy to kill Batman's Rogues Gallery while getting the Caped Crusader to finally kill a man, by any means necessary. Unlike most examples, he eventually manages to take a few steps back from the brink, though he remains the most radical and prone to trouble of the Robins.
- In both the original Japanese version of The Grudge, Ju-On, and its western remake, Kayako Seiki is an innocent woman with No Social Skills, who is killed alongside her child by her jealous husband and returns as an Onryo ghost. She kills her murderer first... then stays in her house and murders absolutely everybody who crosses her path or even telephones her house.
- Ringu has Sadako Yamamura, at least in her original backstory. Born with immense psychic powers she couldn't control, she attempted to lead a normal life before she was raped and tossed into a well to die. Only then did she decide she wanted to bring harm to the whole world. Her western remake incarnation, Samara, gets hit with Adaptational Villainy and is implied to have been evil in life as well.
- In the Candyman horror trilogy:
- Daniel Robitaille was a freedman raised in "polite society", i.e. white society, who fell in love with a plantation owner's daughter while painting her portrait. When she became pregnant, her father had a mob chase him down and brutally murder him. End result: Robitaille becomes the Candyman, a murderous spirit who now only cares to "empower his myth" by hunting down anyone who chants his name five times into a mirror and gutting them with a hook.
- Candyman invokes this trope himself in the first film: he torments and ultimately causes the violent death of the female protagonist. The twist ending reveals she too becomes a murderous spirit.
- In The Mummy (1999), Imhotep is a fairly shady character in life — murdering his liege lord for the sake of his lover, who is strongly hinted not to have had a choice in her relationship with said lord — but then gets The Punishment of a terrible curse that makes him suffer for eternity in undeath. When his sarcophagus is disturbed, he rises from the grave with horrific powers and a long list of grievances against the world.
- Subverted in Maniac Cop. The eponymous character was Lawful Good before being framed, sent to jail, and subsequently attacked in prison. In this case, it's implied that he's a Revenant Zombie (which the sequel confirms and runs with), but his more brutal behavior is down to brain damage changing his personality rather than being undead.
- In Necronomicon "The Cold" segment features a journalist being told the story of a young woman named Emily fleeing an abusive home by her daughter. It's revealed that he "daughter" is actually Emily, resurrected in the same way as Dr. Madden after being fatally shot by a rival for his affections. She's been coldly (no pun intended) killing people for their spinal fluid in order to still feel Madden's baby kicking inside her.
- In Darkness Falls, Matilda Dixon was a kindly widow who gave the children of her town gifts in exchange for their teeth. However, the fact she wore a mask and only came out at night (due to suffering severe burns somehow that left her sensitive to light) made the adults suspicious, and when two children disappeared, they blamed her and promptly lynched her... before the kids returned on their own, unharmed. As she died, Matilda swore vengeance, and afterwards haunts the town of Darkness Falls as a murderous ghost, killing anyone who sees her, seemingly at whim.
- They're Watching takes place in an isolated European villa where the nearby town burned a witch at the stake due to a plague. The Reveal is that the witch both foresaw her death and the events that would allow her return, and upon returning/reawakening/reincarnating (it's unclear), she promptly kills the whole village in a storm of terrible black magic. Assuming that the original witch did not cause the plague, it's a terrible case of Revenge by Proxy, since the townsfolk who killed her are all long dead.
- The Autopsy Of Jane Doe reveals that the titular Jane Doe was a victim of the witch trial hysteria and was horrifically tortured/murdered. Her rage over this and the baseless, hypocritical reasons for it happening seemingly turn her into a "witch": a powerful malevolent entity that haunts (and preserves) her corpse, who is still killing innocent people generations after her actual murderers died.
- In the Stephen King novel Bag of Bones, Sara Tidwell was a (black) blues musician who watched her son be viciously murdered due to racism, and then was raped and murdered herself. Her lingering spirit decides that it's not enough for the men responsible to pay for this crime: their descendants, including young children, all have to die as well. There's a vague line that outside forces might have caused Sara's ghost to become so nasty, but this is never confirmed in any way.
- This gets applied to the titular Doctor of Doctor Who in the episode "Hell Bent" after the events of "Heaven Sent." After being killed and cloned in a cycle for several billion years, the Doctor deposes the government responsible and begins to abuse time travel technology to try and prevent a friend's death in a way that threatens the entire space-time continuum.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- This is built into the rules for making a ghost in some editions; their Character Alignment becomes Neutral Evil regardless of who they were in life.
- Victims of undead with the "create spawn" ability (such as wights and ghouls) always fit this trope: they return as Always Chaotic Evil shadows of their former selves (literally in the case of Living Shadows), which must be slain to resurrect them or allow them to pass on to the afterlife.
- 1st Edition AD&D Fiend Folio: the revenant is an undead that can be created when a humanoid creature dies a violent death. It is dedicated to hunting down the creature that killed it, as well as any creatures that helped in the killing. Once it finds them, it will try to strangle its killer(s) to death.
- Pathfinder has similar rules on ghosts as D&D, but doesn't necessarily include an alignment change; it only notes that this trope is likely because the inherent trauma that would cause a spirit to linger could also cause an alignment shift to Chaotic Evil.
- In Yotsuya Kaidan, Oiwa is horribly disfigured and Driven to Suicide so that her husband can replace her with a younger woman and, with her dying breath, curses her husband's name. She comes back as an onryo, or vengeful ghost, and drives her husband to madness.
- The Girl In Red, a.k.a. Sachiko Shinozaki in Corpse Party. Just a normal little girl in life, who saw her mother murdered for no reason, and then was chased down and killed by the murderer, who might have also later returned and mutilated her corpse based on his own gnawing guilt. End result: a spirit so angry and vengeful that it creates a wholly separate reality to pull in and cruelly murder hundreds of victims.
- In the first Five Nights at Freddy's, it's implied that the animatronics are haunted by the ghosts of murdered children, and one of the possible reasons they're targeting the player is that they can't tell the difference between their killer and Mike Schmidt.
- In Pillars of Eternity, Lord Raedric is not the nicest person around, going Knight Templar about his misguided attempt to cure the Hollowborn plague in his domain. Still, if you help him secure his power base, he will ease his draconic measures after the plague is actually cured (by unrelated efforts), and prove himself a capable, if harsh ruler who will rebuild the Gilded Vale back to glory. However, if you kill him to stop his brutal ways, he will come back as a Black Knight and, if you don't kill him again, lay waste to his own old domain until nothing remains alive in it.
- In Final Fantasy X, fiends are the souls of humans whose unfinished business kept them on earth until they became bitter, angry monsters with no other purpose than to attack the living. Sin's attacks often leave huge numbersof souls that will quickly become monsters if they aren't sent on by a summoner.
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt:
- One quest takes protagonist Geralt to a cursed and haunted island, where he finds the ghost of a young woman pleading to help her spirit leave the island. It turns out that she's a nobleman's daughter and, during a peasant uprising, her entire family was slaughtered and the invaders had planned to rape and murder her. Instead, she drank a sleeping potion which put her in a death-like state that fooled everyone...including her boyfriend, who ran away and wished that everyone would die. Eventually, everyone DID die and she was stuck in her fake death, unable to move as the rats in the tower ate her warm body alive. The combination of the boyfriend's curses, her Cruel and Unusual Death, and the plague the rats carried (which is a long story in itself) turned the young woman's spirit into a Petra—a Plague Maiden that cursed the entire island.
- A Baron and his wife were in an unhappy marriage where he beat her constantly and she found herself pregnant with a child she didn't want. The wife was eventually visited by three evil witch spirits who offered to get rid of the unborn child if the wife agreed to serve them for a year. She agreed, and not long afterward, her husband beat her so badly that she miscarried. The wife and her other daughter decided to escape from the Baron that night and left the dead fetus on the bed. The Baron found his dead child and, in his grief, buried it in an unmarked grave without giving it a name. The dead child transformed into a Botchling—a malevolent and murderous spirit created from babies that died unwanted or unloved.
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