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Amulet of Dependency

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"This magic keeps me alive, but it's making me crazy. And I need it to save you. But, who's going to save me?"
Simon Petrikov's Apocalyptic Log, Adventure Time

Sometimes a character finds, or manages to manufacture, an Amulet of Concentrated Awesome. This can be a risky endeavor. Sometimes the character goes on to become a successful superhero or supervillain, but sometimes that amulet turns out to be a Magic Feather, an Artifact of Death, or an Artifact of Doom. And sometimes the Amulet of Concentrated Awesome turns out to be Blessed with Suck.

Using an Amulet of Dependency gives you great power or other benefits that you quickly come to rely on, so after a short time it's not exactly easy to live without it. It also exposes the user (and sometimes his allies as well) to an Achilles' Heel that could be exploited by an enemy, and a Mana Drain that weakens him without help from an enemy.

Though the trope name says "amulet", this trope isn't necessarily something that's been created deliberately or something that deliberately came into the user's possession. It can be something acquired accidentally, a natural object, etc. It can also be a direct consequence or side effect of being Cursed with Awesome or Blessed with Suck, or part of a being's nature it was born with, such as supernatural beings that have certain vulnerabilities.

If the owner of the Amulet of Dependency is the Big Bad, they usually set up all sorts of Death Traps that the hero must survive to activate the Achilles Heel, thus setting the scene for The Hero's Journey. If the hero is the owner of the Amulet of Dependency, he typically has the option of finding a way to get rid of it, but he usually succeeds only with great sacrifice and often must simultaneously prevent it from falling into the hands of the Big Bad. If a sympathetic Anti-Villain, The Woobie, etc., ends up with it, it's a crapshoot whether there's any hope of getting rid of it.

Can be An Aesop about illegal drugs, but it often isn't.

The Amulet of Dependency can also be:

Please put examples that are really just one of these in those tropes, and use the space below for examples that don't fit one of those.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The girls from Gunslinger Girl are given medication that follows their implants and conditioning. As we're shown, the implants and conditioning already gives them extraordinary strength and skill at the cost of their previous memories and possibly their humanity. The medication that's supposed to help them along is also a crutch, with weird things happening to them should they be unable to take them; Triela becomes weak and unable to fight properly, while Angelica becomes so desperate to get her hands on a weapon she breaks Priscilla's wrist.

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • Dream/Morpheus and his ruby (or Materioptikon, as Doctor Destiny calls it), which he used as a tool to help him control his power, but placed so much in it that he was weakened and its loss helped guarantee his imprisonment. Decades later, its destruction by its wielder, Doctor Destiny, restored Dream to his full power when it was supposed to finish him.
    • But at the end of the series Morpheus's successor Daniel wears an emerald, which was the vehicle for Morpheus passing his power on to him. Daniel knows he will eventually have to destroy it lest he get too dependent, but the series ends before he does so.
  • The titular amulet in Amulet. It can be used to float in the air or beat back bad guys with glowy power, but use it enough and you lose your humanity. And it's sentient, and won't LET you take it off.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe gave Iron Man one of these in the form of a removable and compact Arc Reactor, which he uses in this continuity to power both his heart magnet and his armor. The comic versions of the character previously used more integrated power sources like sunlight, kinetic energy and mains current, though Tony's Bleeding Edge era designs have adopted the Reactor as well.

    Fan Works 
  • George's ring in With Strings Attached. It turns out to have bonded with him and contains part of his soul, though he doesn't find this out until it's forcibly removed from him. As he put it, it was like having his soul's arm ripped off.
  • In the Worm x Dishonored crossover fanfic, A Change of Pace, the Bone Charms and Runes give Taylor expanded powers, so much so that she refuses to part with the one that gives her limited foresight to prevent her death even if it would risk her burgeoning friendship with Glory Girl.
  • In RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse, the jinn of Naquah each have a bound item, a material focus that holds their essence together. Unfortunately, not only will destroying it kill them, whoever has it can use it to command them.
  • Prozalek's amulet in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Snaggers Keepers", which keeps the demon contained within him in check, which Nabby ends up stealing, much to the endangerment of his fellow Smurfs as Prozalek comes looking for the amulet and ready to destroy the village if he does not get it back.
  • Nutricula has Izuku's Quirk, which brings him back whenever he dies with a brand-new power related to how he died. However, this power is the only thing keeping him alive; when Aizawa uses Erasure on him, it renders Izuku a completely lifeless corpse. Suffice to say, Izuku is lowkey terrified of his teacher.

  • Cronos: The Cronos Device, at least during the initial nights after infection. It slowly "purifies" the victim's blood and makes them a vampire in all but name. Failure to use it leads to pain and hunger, though it doesn't quell the eventual thirst for blood.
  • Laserblast: A teenage boy finds an alien laser gun and necklace. He must wear the necklace to activate the laser gun, but doing so corrupts him into a monster.
  • Star Wars:
    • The decision to build the Death Star actually made The Empire easier to defeat. Death Stars take a lot of resources, and two-!
    • The Force itself can work like this. The more one taps into it and uses it, the more it uses them back, to the point of reducing everyone to a Cosmic Plaything and the Jedi / Sith even more so - at least, that was Darth Traya's thinking. The Dark Side of the Force tends to be far more addictive as the mindset of the Sith makes them more desperate to maintain their physical bodies and by extension their power in the material universe, to the point where many older Dark Lords were fine with becoming husks sustained only by the Dark Side.
  • Lampshaded in The Matrix: The rebel humans are dependent on (presumably nonsentient) machines that power their life support and equipment; if their enemies were to find the rebel humans' vehicles and bases, or gain control of them, they could defeat the rebellion quickly. The humans could just turn off the machines, but they would probably die if they did. note 

     Film - Animated 
  • In The King's Beard, fairies cannot survive long without their wands. Sophie's mother withered away due to Jasper sealing hers, and the same begins to happen to Sophie after Jasper steals hers. The effects worsen once Jasper starts directly draining Sophie's wand for power, even resulting in Sophie losing her Pointy Ears (though it's made clear that she can't survive long in this form, and isn't just being turned into a healthy human).

  • In Irish folklore, Merrow are forced to wear a red-feathered hat called a cohuleen druith or else lose their water-breathing and shapeshifting powers.
  • Selkies are able to transform between human and seal using magical sealskins.
    • The logical extension of this is the tale that a handsome man comes across the hat, shawl, or animal pelt of a beautiful faerie maiden. He hides it and then forces the maiden to marry him. Years later, after bearing children for him, she comes across the article of clothing and then runs away to freedom.
    • A variation of the story is that the maiden never finds the sealskin and grows into an old woman, and it is her granddaughter who finds it. As the grandmother would die of old age if she put on the skin (as seals don't live as long as humans), she lets her granddaughter keep the skin and become a selkie herself.
  • There is a ghost story that goes like so: a young man encounters (or worse, marries) a beautiful woman, who later turns out to be a monster who removes its skin or detaches its head. The young man pours salt, embers, broken glass, or some such on the skin or the sleeping body, and when the monster returns it dies, either from poisoning/burning brought on by contact with the irritant or due to the resulting organ failure because it cannot reattach.
  • In traditional stories, werewolves were witches who commonly transformed by wearing a wolf-skin pelt or belt, and without the skin they were powerless. As in the ghost story, destroying the skin could have serious consequences.

  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • In The Lord of the Rings, The One Ring is both an Artifact of Doom and a Soul Jar, but it deserves special mention here because it confers such powers on the user it is very tempting to use it to try to defeat Big Bad Sauron. Many of those tempted to use it don't understand that the Ring itself can never be used to defeat Sauron, as the Ring and the Dark Lord are one and the same. Plus, anybody with enough power to wield the Ring to even a fraction of its full potential will inevitably be corrupted by it. Sauron would still use other people's lust for the Ring (like Saruman's) to his own advantage. And he did play a deep game with the other Rings of power—giving great power to the elves and dwarves, but thereby making them vulnerable to his control through the Ruling Ring.
    • All the Rings are fundamentally Amulets of Dependency in their concept.
      • The Nine Rings given to Men granted the bearers power but soon they corrupted and enslaved their bearers, thus creating the Ring-Wraiths.
      • The Seven Rings given to Dwarves increased their ability to obtain gold but also inflamed their love of gold and their pride to self-destructive levels.
      • The Three Elven Rings were expressly used to maintain the timelessness of the Elven Kingdoms of Lórien, Rivendell, and the Grey Havens. The core of their use was to allow the Elves to maintain the "Old" World while Middle-Earth steadily changed. This made them more and more disconnected from Middle-Earth as it changed over time.
      • The One Ring increased Sauron's power over Middle-Earth, but he put so much of his own essence into it that he was weaker without it, and destroying it would destroy him.
  • The final product of the film and novel Perfume turns out to be this for the main character. He works for years to create the perfect perfume, killing dozens of people and doing all sorts of awful things. He hopes that with the creation of his perfect perfume, he'll become a god among men. After only one or two drops of the perfume on his handkerchief, he's immediately forgiven for all of his murders and called an angel. Then he realizes that the people are simply intoxicated by his perfume, and he really doesn't care about belonging to their world. He later pours the whole bottle over himself, after which he gets eaten alive by all within smelling distance.
  • Voldemort's horcruxes in the Harry Potter series are an odd example: obsessed with the idea of immortality, he intentionally tore his soul to pieces through multiple acts of murder so he could hide them safely away inside specially-chosen objects. Ultimately, doing so has given him a critical weakness: if he ever feels so much as a shred of genuine remorse for his actions, his shattered soul will recombine, an experience so painful that it could well kill him. (This turns out to be the merciful option, as dying otherwise will condemn him to a Fate Worse than Death.)
  • Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber brings this trope up a number of times, especially in the second half as it can then be tied into the concept of using raw power to cover for sloppiness and lack of forethought as habit-forming. Here using these stays a viable if deprecated option.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Norrell recounts how magicians would often seal some of their power in an object to prevent them being lost with illness or old age. Norrell explains that he resisted the temptation because the objects invariably get lost or stolen, weakening the magician even to the point of death unless they're retrieved.
  • The vampires of 19th-century fiction are commonly tied to something of significance to them.
    • Dracula was forced to sleep in contact with his native soil.
    • Carmilla had to sleep in a coffin filled with the blood of her victims.
    • Paul Féval: The brothers Ténèbre revived from repeated deaths by regenerating from within their tombs.
  • Elric of Melnibone's sword Stormbringer has aspects of this, along with being an Evil Weapon Of Doom— in particular, it allows him to go without the drugs he needs just to be able to do much of anything from day to day.
  • Most magical items on Discworld tend to default to this, with items like the Gonne, Imp Y Celen's guitar, and Coin's Metal Staff proving that anyone who uses them for power and wealth will soon be used by them in turn.
  • In Mistborn, the Lord Ruler's bracers are the source of his immortality, but by the same token if they're ever separated from him, he'll revert to his natural age- of about one thousand. Needless to say, keeping a hold of the things is pretty important to him, and he wears a lot of other metal (despite it being impractical in a setting where people who can telekinetically control metal aren't uncommon) largely to distract attention from them.
  • Villains by Necessity: Sam's unknowing use of Valerie's amulet gives him a new ability, while also addicting him to it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The few times the Doctor has gone without his sonic screwdriver since the 2005 revival of Doctor Who, the results have been mostly disastrous. Of course, he manages to get out of everything anyway, but still...
  • A lucky rabbit's foot appeared in Supernatural that turned one's luck really sour if it was ever lost.
  • Forever Knight had a case of this when Nick was 'cured' with Lidobuterine, a drug normally used in cattle. It made him basically human, able to eat and be in the sun, but he got more and more addicted and needed more and more to get the effect. When he didn't get it, he went into withdrawal and became agitated and irritable, just like an addict.
  • The Borg from Star Trek gain some advantages from their cyborg parts, but also grow dependent on them to the point of not being able to survive without them. Those implants are also frequently used to try to destroy them via Hollywood Hacking or Computer Viruses or Logic Bombs or some such.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • In Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Mythos spells and magic items grant the user great power but inevitably lead to complete insanity and probable death.
  • Shadowrun:
    • The drug Kamikaze tremendously boosted your combat abilities, but each use permanently destroyed part of your body's ability to resist damage, and would eventually kill you.
    • Focus addiction. Magicians who used foci (spell-boosting magic items) too often became so dependent on them that they lost part of their natural magical ability and had to use the foci to cast magic at all.
  • The Witcher: Game of Imagination:
    • Witchers' medallions. They are the only source of Arcane Points for witchers and, not counting emergency meditations, they can't be recharged instantly. If they are depleted, witchers can't cast their signs until a recharge. Not to mention when they are simply not wearing one.
    • Fisstech, being a fantasy-themed cocaine, provides quite potent, if short, bonus to awareness and reflex. There are times when it's a really good idea to just get high, or the characters won't stand a chance in an incoming fight. Every time characters take it, they face a roll for addiction, which goes harder and harder with each following dose, regardless of time between them. Eventually it's simply impossible to avoid the crippling addiction, which requires taking steadily increasing doses or facing all the withdrawal symptoms, combined with huge debuff. Most characters in-universe eventually die out of overdose or due to sharp withdrawal. It is technically possible to cure the addiction by Going Cold Turkey while being also assisted by qualified medical personnel, but it can take years of therapy and the character forever remains with serious Will problems (a really hard check is required when around fisstech, or the character will gladly go back to addiction).
  • Champions features the "Independent" limitation which can be placed on superpowers purchased through devices or magic items. The limitation effectively means that the points you spend on the power are separated from the character. If the device or magic item is lost, stolen, or destroyed, the points the character invested in the object are gone forever and must be regained through Experience Points.

    Video Games 
  • You rely on your flashlight a lot in Alan Wake, since Dark Is Evil. In a few levels where you lose it, your only option is "run away really fast".
  • Assassins Creed 3: Tyranny of King Washington DLC, Washington himself finds and becomes addicted to an Isu Apple artifact, even as he grows terrified that it's turning him into a monster. Luckily, he manages to order Connor to throw it into the sea at the end of the DLC.
  • Umbra Witches in Bayonetta, including the titular heroine, wear palm-sized Umbran Watch which essentially also serve as their Soul Jar. Witches can recover from practically all kinds of physical injuries, but if their Umbran Watch is broken, the result is almost immediately fatal (Having their soul separated from their body for too long is also fatal, but the time limit for the latter is more generous; for comparison, witches rarely survive longer than a minute after their watch is broken, but they can cling on to life for up to 24 hours while their souls are away). Thankfully for the witches, these watches are pretty sturdy, and the few times we see them broken, they are repeatedly damaged with supernatural sources instead of mundane weapons, and there's even one case where it serves as a Pocket Protector.
  • Stat-increasing items in Dungeon Siege, the ones that let one use more powerful equipment. If this trope is extended from just amulets to armor and weapons, it not only may limit the power of the items you can use (sacrificing damage bonuses), it will be harder to (if wanted) find desirable replacement items of greater power. Made easier to contend with in the Legends of Aranna expansion, in which progressively-with-level bonuses are made available.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy:
    • Phazon is a toxic substance that mutates and corrupts those it touches while giving them great power. It brings on many weaknesses such as draining life force and the possibility of a terminal corruption. The bad guys created many unstable freaks and mutants in their attempts to utilize Phazon as a weapon.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: The PED suit allows the user (Samus) to use Phazon to her advantage without suffering immediate harm. However, if you stay in the Super Mode that makes use of it for too long (approximately ten seconds of not using any attacks, the risk growing the longer it is turned on), you get a Non Standard Game Over where Samus turns into a Dark Samus (or a copy thereof). You can be forced into it involuntarily (if you're hit by a phazon based weapon or have the PED Suit hacked). Also, you use up health to use it (though the game is kind enough to return a percentage of your health used to start Hypermode if you manually disengage before it berserks).
  • Randal's Monday: The ring tends to endear itself to whomever owns it, or sometimes to people it wants to have it (such as Mel).

    Visual Novels 
  • Kanna in YU-NO claims that without a certain pendant, she'll die. We later see her without it and she later clarifies that she meant it's as important to her as her life itself. However, she really will die if she's separated from it for too long. Since it dissolves in water, she can't wear it in the shower and it is later destroyed in that manner. If you haven't managed to get a replacement by going through a specific side route, you get her bad ending.

    Web Comics 
  • Cinema Bums features an evil Halloween wig in these strips, which Doug continues to wear after the holiday is over. Fortunately, he's smart enough to remove it before it completely takes over.
  • Girl Genius: Agatha's trilobite amulet, though it started out as something entirely different, became the only thing holding the Other's possession of her at bay, allowing her to maintain her own consciousness. Even then, the Other was able to fight back, so "steps" were eventually taken.

    Web Original 
  • In the Creepypasta "The Cell Phone Game", the titular game dooms anyone who enters it to be Dragged Off to Hell. There are two ways to avoid this fate. The first is to find a protective item within two weeks. Said item will protect you as long as you wear it, but it will cause you to suffer. That's this trope. The second is to pass on the cell phone message to someone else, bringing them into the game. This offers a temporary reprieve that is halved with each successive victim. The protagonist's girlfriend Stephanie becomes increasingly desperate to avoid her fate dooming ten other students in the process and steals the resident school Neo-Nazi's own protective item, a cilice that makes him bleed, at gunpoint. It doesn't work because the cilice wasn't actually his protective item. His red Nazi Swastika armband was.

    Western Animation 
  • In Gargoyles, the Archmage acquires three magic artifacts and uses them together to wield enormous power. When the Eye of Odin is taken away from him, he is no longer able to control the internalized power of the Grimmorum Arcanorum, which overwhelms and kills him.
  • Adventure Time: Poor Simon Petrikov's cursed crown ruined his mind and left him a broken husk of a man... but he will die if he is without it, or it is somehow depowered for too long. Others who have worn the crown, such as the first Gunther and "Ice Finn", have also shown dependence and some degree of madness and physical change from it.
  • In The Smurfs (1981) episode that introduced Hogatha the witch, Hogatha was dependent upon a magical locket that granted her powers, and without it, her powers would be reduced to nothing. She spends much of the episode trying to get it back from both Smurfette (who inadvertently uses it to grant her wishes for her fellow Smurfs) and Gargamel (who later comes into contact with the amulet once Smurfette disposes of it). However, by the end of the episode, the Smurfs get a hold of the amulet and end up destroying it, which in turn destroys Hogatha... until she shows up again resurrected in "The Fake Smurf".
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Entrapta creates an upgraded suit of armor for Hordak to compensate for his degenerating body. It's powered by a First Ones' tech crystal, giving him incredible strength and dexterity. If removed, it causes the suit to malfunction, leaving Hordak weak and completely helpless.