Follow TV Tropes

Following

Artifact of Doom
aka: Artifacts Of Doom

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_eye_of_sauron_port.png
Oooh, shiny! note 
Image by John Howe. Used with permission.
Pete: It's always ultimately death. I mean, artifacts never release a plague of tickles or an epidemic of kittens.
Jane: Some do. They end badly, too.
Advertisement:

The Artifact of Doom is an unusual villain in that it is a (seemingly) inanimate object that somehow manages to be pure evil. It is the threat of corruption and falling to The Dark Side. It may also cause Great Insanity, death, or worse.

This item has a palpable presence beyond merely being a device. Its threat is ever constant, whether destroying those it directly opposes, or consuming those who dare use it from within with dark whispers of power. Nonetheless, it is incapable of action on its own; its power lies in manipulating its user to act for it. Therein lies the irony: if people would just leave the damn thing alone, it would be harmless, but since Evil Feels Good, some idiot will inevitably try it out and doom us all.

There will be a conflict among the heroes, between those who say they should dare to use its power and resist or purify the corrupting effects; and those feel it should be destroyed/sealed. The artifact will often make this conflict escalate to a Hate Plague with deadly consequences. This may be explicitly stated as one of its powers in the case of the Artifact of Attraction.

Advertisement:

Still think it's worth the risk? Think you can handle it? After all, once you realize how evil it is, all you have to do is get rid of it or destroy it... Both of which are easier said than done.

Often has An Aesop on how power corrupts and over-reliance on technology/magic is a bad thing.

If the artifact is a wearable item that refuses to come off (or you will never want or think about taking it off), then it's also a Clingy MacGuffin. If it's a Dismantled MacGuffin, then reassembling it is required to get the Set Bonus.

Usually found at half-price at The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday, or handed out by the Evil Mentor (if he hasn't turned himself into the artifact). If It Was a Gift, do not trust the giver thereafter.

Sub Tropes include the Tome of Eldritch Lore, Evil Weapon, Evil Mask, and the Summoning Artifact. Occasionally doubles as an Artifact of Death. More often, it is an Amulet of Dependency. Often overlaps with Happy Fun Ball when the artifact appears to be something harmless or mundane. The Soul Jar of an evil character almost always doubles as one of these. May also be the can of Sealed Evil in a Can. Contrast its equal/opposite Artifact of Hope. See also Sentient Phlebotinum and Holy Is Not Safe when the artifact was made by the good guys but still dangerous.

Advertisement:

Not to be confused with the Artifact of Doom³. Completely unrelated to The Artifact.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ann Cassandra: The Cassandra Mask. The mask's power lets its user warp the future to cause more disasters in exchange for becoming the mask's puppet and eventually dying. The mask then compels the nearest person to pick it up and use it.
  • Berserk:
    • There are small magical items called Behelits. They look like eggs with human facial features scattered around them at random. When their possessor hits an emotional nadir, the features rearrange into a screaming face, and the four members of the Godhand appear to offer the Behelit's owner the chance to become a demon... by sacrificing those close to them. And then there is the Crimson Behelit, owned by Griffith, which transforms its bearer into a member of the nigh-invincible, demonic Godhand. Curiously, the Behelits are mentioned to be completely harmless most of the time. It is only at one specific moment when held by one specific person that they become dangerous, and unfortunately it's almost impossible to tell when or who those are beforehand.
    • There's also Guts' Berserker Armor, which removes a human being's natural limits by nulling pain and allows the user to keep fighting by temporarily mending broken bones, stitching together wounds, etc. It's very dangerous for the obvious reasons that your body has limits for a reason and bypassing them is bound to hurt you, but it also has the effect of bringing out the wearer's "inner beast" (in the Skull Knight's case, his familiar skull motif, in Guts' case, "The Beast", his Hell Hound evil side), turning him into a raging monster incapable of distinguishing friend from foe. After using it just once, Guts got a patch of white hair, became partially colorblind, and lost some of his sense of taste. Constant use of it might have reduced the Skull Knight to his current ghastly state.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • The library of 103,000 grimoires in Index's brain counts. Not only do the grimoires themselves contain spells of incredible destructive power, the knowledge itself is dangerous. When one mage tried to absorb just one of the books while trying to obtain a healing spell to save a girl he loved from a curse, he nearly suffered a fatal aneurysm. The mage then wonders just what Index is considering that she can store the entire library in her mind without any negative side effects.
    • Dáinsleif would probably also count since it will trigger Ragnarok if it is fully unsheathed. Fortunately, its wielder can't bring herself to do so and it is destroyed shortly afterwards. In fact, this particular artifact of doom is so doomy that its first use seen is to cause fatal heart attacks just by threatening to use it!
  • In The Circumstances Leading to Waltraute's Marriage, dwarf-forged tools and weapons tend to be cursed. Gods and Valkyries are too powerful to be affected, but anybody else who tries to use them will suffer misfortune and death. The dwarves tend to do this out of revenge for their customers threatening and/or cheating them. When Jack Elvan (who was unaware of the threat of cursed tools) pays upfront and is polite, they give him a curse-free tool.
  • This is the entire point of Cube×Cursed×Curious, where the series revolves around the idea that a cursed item eventually becomes intelligent and able to take human form. And being cursed is just as traumatic to them.
  • Da Capo - the Giant Sakura Tree; though it is explicitly stated that it only fulfills one's fervently wished for desires, for some reason, it always end up working towards unimaginably evil ends (in the second season, it defeats the Power of Love). May be linked to its tendency to fulfill unconscious wishes even when this goes against the conscious desires of the user.
    • Sakura states in the second season that the tree's purpose of granting wishes may be inherently damaging as it disrupts the struggle which is central to human life, thereby disrupting the process of human life itself. Essentially, since people don't know what they want granting it to them will inevitably go awry.
  • The eponymous notebook from Death Note kills those whose names are written in it. This is slightly different from most of the other examples on the list, in that it doesn't appear to be sentient or possess any kind of supernatural corrupting power — the danger comes entirely from the power it places in the hands of the user, and how he decides to use it. Having power over other people's life and death is what corrupts, not the book. On the other hand, to quote Ryuk, "Don't think somebody who uses a Death Note can go to Heaven or Hell." What Ryuk doesn't say is that there is no afterlife — nobody is going to Heaven or Hell. He also mentions (in the very first episode) that the first human that picks up the Death Note will ultimately have their name written down by the Shinigami that dropped it. Sure enough, following Light's ultimate defeat in the final episode, Ryuk makes good on his promise and writes Light's name into his personal Death Note making it the first, and last time, Ryuk uses his own notebook in the series and finally closing the Kira case.
  • Digimon Adventure 02 features the Dark Spores. The good news: they make you faster and stronger, and provide genius intellect. The bad news: They turn you cold and sadistic. Worse news: their real purpose is to resurrect a seriously nasty baddie once enough of them have collected enough energy from those they've corrupted. Even worse news: they're imperfect copies of the real thing, so if they're not harvested, you die.
    • Don't play with the Beast Spirits in Digimon Frontier, either. You can learn to control yourself while using 'em eventually, but that's only after an episode or two of wrecking everything in sight. If you're not one of The Chosen Ones, using 'em at all may be hazardous to your sanity.
  • The Philosopher's Stone in Fullmetal Alchemist, which is forged with thousands of human souls, and can be used to ignore the rules of alchemy. Most people in FMA who possess one use it to commit mass genocide.
  • Inuyasha:
    • The Jewel of Four Souls, which was formed when a powerful miko locked her own soul into an endless battle with a multitude of demons in order to contain them after her death. Initially regarded as a Dismantled MacGuffin, a single shard of the Jewel gives demons enormous power. Even those with good intentions are inevitably corrupted by shard use. Then it's revealed to have a malevolent will of its own, making it the Man Behind The Big Bad, and the actual villain of the story.
    • Downplayed with the demon blade Toukijin. It is so powerful it possesses its creator, kills him due to the sheer force of its power, and then continues to animate the corpse afterwards until Inuyasha hacks off the corpse's wrist to separate the sword from the body. Not even the story's Ultimate Blacksmith is capable of approaching it, causing the protagonists to warn Sesshoumaru that he'll be consumed by the sword if he touches it. Cue their absolute astonishment at Sesshoumaru's effortless victory over the sword's evil via willpower alone. Eventually, Sesshoumaru destroys the blade when the force of his compassion becomes too strong for the sword's hate to handle. Sesshoumaru is able to eventually replace it with a better sword.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is filled to the brim with these:
    • Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency feature the Stone Masks, creations of the Pillar Man Kars. If a human wears the mask and it is splashed with blood, they become a Vampire, who can then create Zombies. If a Pillar Man wears it with the refined Red Stone of Aja known as the Super Aja, it makes them perfectly immortal and a Physical God.
    • The driving force for Stardust Crusaders, Diamond is Unbreakable, Golden Wind, and Stone Ocean are the mystical Bow and Arrow, created from a meteorite that struck Greenland that harbored a virus that when a suitable host is infected grants the host supernatural abilities known as Stands. The creator of the arrows is never revealed, but mafia don Diavolo finds the Arrows in an Egyptian tomb and sells several of them to the mystic Enya the Hag, who both use them for their own purposes, before they enter the hands of other villains and the heroes.
      • Stone Ocean also features DIO's diary and one of DIO's bones as other minor artifacts of doom, but the former is physically lost and instead part of Jotaro Kujo's stolen memories. The latter is given life by one of Pucci's minions which creates the Green Baby, and allows him to empower his Stand from Whitesnake to C-Moon, and it is technically one of Jonathan Joestar's bones.
    • In Steel Ball Run, the relics known as the parts of the Saint's Corpse, the Saint in question heavily implied to be the one and only Jesus, carry their own miraculous and mystical Stand-bestowing powers in the absence of the Bow and Arrow of the new universe. U.S. President Funny Valentine intends to gather the complete corpse in order to ensure the future of his country. In part of JoJolion, it is revealed that Johnny Joestar stole the corpse after the race to use its powers as the Stand Ticket to Ride to cure his wife of the mysterious stone illness that has cursed her family for generations. Its presence in the new universe's town of Morioh in S-City, M-Prefecture, Japan has apparently imbued the land itself with the power to bestow Stands upon the populace, with several locals who lived or fell into the Wall Eyes faultlines gaining Stands.
    • The Rokakaka fruit takes this role in JoJolion. It is found in the highlands of New Guinea and it has the miraculous ability to cure a human or animal of any medical ailment. However it works under the concept of Equivalent Exchange. Once a malady is cured, it causes part of the consumer's body to turn to stone. Yoshikage Kira and Josefumi Kujo steal and graft a Rokakaka branch with the hopes that it will cure Kira's mother Holy Joestar of her mysterious disease, but Kira dies before the fruit ripens and can be given to Holy. Josefumi tries to use the fruit to bring him back to life, but an earthquake hits Morioh after Josefumi gives the dead Kira the fruit, burying both of them under the ground below the lone pine. The combination of all these events result in our hero Josuke Higashikata's creation from their two bodies and souls. This new Rokakaka fruit now becomes the target of the Rock Humans in and around Morioh, once they learn of its new miraculous properties without any conceivable Equivalent Exchange side effects.
  • In Last Period, Luluna's pendant turns out to be one, crystallized from the despair and resentment of all humanity. It messes up the probability of gacha rolls, causing her to always call five-star summons while others can only get one-stars, and also has the potential to super-charge Spirals.
  • The Book of Darkness from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, which grants ultimate power to its user upon filling its 666 pages. Oh, and it takes over said user once said pages are filled and goes on an omnicidal rampage until it burns itself out together with said user, whereupon it resurfaces somewhere else to snooker another mage. The guardians that accompany it never mention that part for some reason. If you're savvy enough to not use it, it will just eat your life force instead. It's an interesting case, in that the only reason it's an Artifact of Doom is that it's malfunctioning. As it originally was, it was a harmless book meant to store knowledge of magic from all over the universe.
    • Fans also like to joke that Raising Heart is one of these. Especially in doujins, she and Nanoha are prone to unleashing big pink beams of death and destruction love and friendship anytime, anywhere, on anybody.
  • Nabari no Ou - The "Book of the Knowledge of All Living Things" is essentially this though it doesn't necessarily corrupt the holder himself.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has the "Lance of Longinus", a long, pronged artifact which grants its wielder (who has to be absolutely GIGANTIC to use it, by the way) absolute godly power. It plays a crucial role in both the Second and Third Impacts. The Lance is interesting in that it is not sentient, nor is its wielder, Adam, truly "evil"; it is only an Artifact of Doom from a human perspective, being as it will destroy us all if it falls into the wrong hands.
    • Classified Information suggests that the Lance actually is sentient, and comes in a set with a Seed of Life (i.e. both Adam and Lilith had one, but Lilith lost hers). It exists as the ultimate security device, but only does anything if something goes horribly wrong (such as two Seeds landing on the same planet).
  • In Pokémon Adventures, the Red and Blue Orbs are this, as merely touching them can drive you insane, and holding them for too long will cause them to fuse to your body and become crazed puppets for Groudon and Kyogre. Only by training one's mind and spirit can prevent this.
  • Soul Gems in Puella Magi Madoka Magica are an odd variation on this. They hold tremendous power, but anyone who possesses one could easily become an Eldritch Abomination by using them too much, or by losing control of their negative emotions. The twist is that they're the heroes' Soul Jars, not the villains', and the artifacts themselves are not evil, they're magical girls' souls made manifest in solid form. They become artifacts of doom over time by absorbing an amount of despair equal to the hope brought about by the girls' wishes and being depleted by the use of magic. Grief Seeds, the black and silver trinkets dropped by defeated Witches, play the trope straight: left to their own devices they'll eventually hatch and revive their Witch, and they're often found in places where they can prey on the suffering of others (such as hospitals and suicide sites).
  • The Dark Bring in Rave Master, which grant the user different powers while slowly corrupting them. Special mention goes to the Sinclaire, which are especially corruptive.
  • In the anime of Sands of Destruction, the "heroine" Morte carries around with her a little black sphere called the Destruct Code, which supposedly has the ability to destroy the world. However, she has no idea how to use it though it seems to react to main character Kyrie. Those who have played the game know that Kyrie himself is the actual Destruct Code. Here, he's a being that has existed since the dawn of the world, created for the specific purpose of destroying the world should the need arise. The little black sphere mentioned above was a device he used to store his memories; when he lost it 4 years prior he developed amnesia.
  • Soul Eater: The Black Blood is shown to be this. It gives the user great power (the ability to control your blood, seal deadly wounds and synchronise more effectively) however it does come at a price. Overuse leads to drowning in the madness, a black gooey substance which can only be overcome by an exorcism wavelength. The madness can even manifest itself as an alternate ego within your own soul, as seen with Soul's Little Demon.
  • The titular ∀ Gundam is revealed to be responsible for the Black History, a time when Earth's technology was destroyed, killing a great deal of Earth's population as well. Turn X is also capable of this scale of destruction. This news is disturbing to main character Loran, who has up to this point only used his Gundam to try stopping people from killing each other.
  • Regularly on Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
    • It's common practice to design cards so powerful they are too dangerous to be used. They have to be locked up and kept out of the wrong hands to give the protagonist and company something to fight for.
      • The Wicked God cards of Yu-Gi-Oh! R were considered too dangerous to even be printed by the people who created the aforementioned cards of doom. Naturally, someone decides to print and use them anyways. Unsurprisingly, one of them brain-jacks him.
      • The orichalcum cards are forged by taking a piece of a green meteorite, the orihalcum, and fusing it with a blank card. The card creates a specialized field of play that that works in favor of certain strategies. Unfortunately, their supernatural powers capture the loser of the game and place him/her in a pocket dimension to be used for a demon ritual. The orichalcum itself is the artifact that started the series - the meteor that turned the citizens of Atlantis into monsters when it crash landed, and were captured and turned into summon spirits by the Egyptians.
    • The Phantom Demon/Sacred Beast cards, which were so dangerous that they were locked up under Duel Academy. When they were summoned in Jaden's duel against Kagemaru, Duel Monsters cards started fading away because they were consuming their duel spirits.
    • The Millennium items around which the series is based are also dangerous. The Millenium Ring from the original series is the most notable example. While all of the Items (especially the Eye and the Rod) can be used for negative purposes (and tend to turn their owners into megalomaniacs or drive them insane), the Ring is the absolute worst, possessing the innocent Ryou Bakura and using him to trigger a plot that would have seen thousands of people dead, and history rewritten. Having the soul of a psychopathic tomb robber and a shard of a dark god's essence trapped inside of it will do that to an object.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX features the Super Polymerization card in season 3. The unstoppable fusion card used by villains to fuse any monsters to win duels, fuse dimensions to threaten reality and used by Jaden to permanently fuse himself and the Big Bad Yubel to end the conflict between them.

    Card Games 
  • The Black Scrolls in the Legend of the Five Rings Collectible Card Game and tabletop RPG are immensely powerful magical scrolls that corrupt any who study them. In fact anything (including people, places and objects) that has enough of the Shadowlands Taint does so, and various artifacts bear the Taint. These include the Bloodswords and the Anvil of Despair, just to name two.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Mirari twists and corrupts those who seek its power in the post-Invasion world of Dominaria in the storyline. However, this is a subversion; it's revealed in the end that it was only meant to be a probe, but ended up spilling magical power into the world, the power inevitably corrupting the bearer.
    • Also, within the card game exists the Door to Nothingness artifact. Its ability costs a ridiculous amount of mana, but when activated, your opponent loses the entire game. (Just make sure they don't redirect the target.)
    • Worldslayer: "Whenever equipped creature [i.e. creature wielding the sword] deals combat damage to a player, destroy all permanents other than Worldslayer." (note that this would include the creature equipping Worldslayer at that moment)
    • The Hedrons in Zendikar are powerful, valuable, and tend to be dangerous. Ironically, they were created to help imprison the Eldrazi, but the leaking power of the Eldrazi tainted them.
    • The Chain Veil. It's telling that Liliana Vess wants to get rid of it despite the artifact's immense power. Unfortunately for her, the Veil isn't done with her yet.
    • Urza attempted to utilize the The Golgothian Sylex in his war against his brother Mishra. It vaporized a good portion of an entire plane, plunging it into the magical equivalent of a nuclear winter. It ended the war. It's also what gave Urza his Dimensional Traveler abilities. Unfortunately it's a Cutscene Power to the Max because the card itself is practically useless.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Darkhold is a Tome of Eldritch Lore penned by Chthon (an Elder God turned demon lord) to serve as a foothold in Earth's dimension after his banishment from it. Anyone who uses it risks becoming enslaved to Chthon's purposes.
    • Possibly worse, the Resurrection Stone, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It also invariably drives all who possess it or seek to possess it insane. The consciousness of the gem is malevolent and seeks to bring chaos to the universe while feeding on Man's desire for immortality. Ultimately, no mortal being can withstand such power. Entire civilizations have been destroyed by the madness it brings with it.
    • The Serpent Crown, a multiversal artifact belonging to the Serpent God. Put it on your head and you are immediately property of the Serpent God forevermore. Even holding it for a few minutes can be tantalizing enough to consider maybe putting it on for a moment... Fortunately, The Power of Love (or just being a synthezoid) can counteract that compulsion.
    • The Infinity Gems probably aren't inherently evil (well, the Soul Stone might), but they are definitely trouble. The entire universe has been threatened more than once by a madman wielding the Gems.
    • The Tactigon from Avengers: The Initiative might go here. It's a shapeshifting alien weapon that can become whatever its host wants or needs. It's choosy, too; it won't work for just anybody, but it has an unfortunate tendency to pick hosts that are... troubled. Its first known host was a suicidal girl who at least tried to use the Tactigon for good, but its second host was out and out Ax-Crazy.
    • The alien costumes/symbiotes of Spider-Man, with an added Body Horror bonus. Years later, Flash Thompson, the fourth user of the Venom symbiote, learned that this wasn't originally the case at all!
    • The Mighty Thor: The axe used by Skurge the Executioner, known as the Bloodaxe. It was infected by Skurge's bloodlust and evil and those who picked it up found themselves infected by the same drive. Thunderstrike was killed freeing himself from this terrible curse.
  • The DCU:
    • The Heart of Darkness is a black crystal that can grant its host fearsome mystical powers. The cost? Said host almost always becomes a flesh puppet to the evil spirit within the diamond, often referred to as "Eclipso".
      • The only time Eclipso was ever contained, the captor used special tattoos all over his body to turn himself into a living prison. Unfortunately, those were broken by an accidental slice from his lover Nemesis, and the freed Eclipso ended up killing both of them.
    • Any of the various Green Lantern Corps rings could become an Artifact of Doom under the right circumstances. The Orange Lantern ring curses its owner with ever-lasting greed and hunger. The Red Lantern ring causes heart stoppage and uncontrollable rage, and you can't take it off without it killing you. The Black Rings bring the dead back as undead Black Lanterns that crave hearts.
    • Trinity War has Pandora's Box, which contained the Seven Deadly Sins of Man and can also re-contain them. It can only be opened by those with the strongest or darkest heart. Those that aren't get corrupted by it when they hold it. And in the finale, it turns out to be an advanced piece of technology that opens a doorway to Earth 3, the birthplace of evil, and allows the Crime Syndicate to arrive on the Prime Earth.
    • The Sandman (1989): When he is trapped in the opening chapter, Dream has his mask, ruby and pouch of dream sand stolen. While the mask doesn't do anything (the demon who gets it knows how dangerous and powerful it is) the pouch of sand falls into the hands of a drug addict who uses it to get a high, only for it to start turning her home into a nightmare landscape. The ruby on the other hand is used by a mad scientist who starts using its powers to take over the world and is stopped by the Justice League. The items themselves aren't evil, just really powerful because Dream poured his power into them to make them what they were.
    • This is how Grant Morrison describes Ultra Comics #1:
      "It's a haunted comic book, actually, it's the most frightening thing anyone will ever read. It's actually haunted — if you read this thing, you'll become possessed."
    • The Helm of Nabu (Doctor Fate's golden helmet) may be a (largely benevolent) version. Whether the Lords of Order (you'll note we didn't say Lords of Good, though in general they're more kindly disposed to mortals than their enemies the Lords of Chaos are) merely advise or actually posess the wearer varies depending on the writer; in some cases it's an actual partnership that can be broken by the human host at will, and in some cases once the host decides to put the helm on it's the last decision they get to make until the helm decides to remove itself.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): The Heart of Baetylus is a broken off chunk of the "Titan" that once tried to destroy all life on earth, that wants to remerge with its main body so that it can reaminate and restart working on that goal and warps the minds of those who hold it besides Hippolyta who was its chosen guardian.
    • Wonder Woman: Odyssey: The Flashing Blade, created by the Titans to kill gods themselves. It's a semi-sentient sword that longs to punish murderers and warmongers, but seems quite happy killing anyone who fights for whatever reason.
  • The Cauldron of Blood in Arawn was created by an evil druid and its fueled by the power of human souls. The Cauldron has an will of its own, and it happens to be a cuttroat bastard, and is constantly corrupting people into desiring it, promising godhood and ultimate power. It might as well as qualify as the real Big Bad in the story, as its machinations cause Arawn's Start of Darkness and nearly every bad thing that happens can be traced back to it.
  • Astro City has the Sekhmet Stone, a giant Sphinx-like stone face that is somehow alive and claims to have mystic insight. It is the ultimate leader of the Nebulous Evil Organization Pyramid.
  • The Winslowe in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire is something of a subversion in that it is alive, slightly mobile, slightly intelligent (actually quite intelligent), and to all appearances not the least bit malevolent or proactive in any way. That doesn't change the fact that any time it pops up, half the known universe goes violently crazy with avarice to possess it, because they're convinced it is the most important object/being in all of Creation.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: A Italian story center around a mysterious item from outer space that did absolutely nothing, but was still more an Artifact of Doom than a MacGuffin. It was so absolutely and completely useless anything done with it was automatically a waste of time and amounted to nothing. It was in the possession of Scrooge McDuck first, so he naturally tried to make money out of it, but his every attempt merely broke even, until he managed to sell it to Rockerduck (at zero profit). As time went on, the sheer uselessness of the item made it hold a peculiar fascination to people, and news of it apparently spread globally. Everyone was in fact so affected by the uselessness that they began to turn apathetic and think nothing was worth doing because it was useless, or were inspired to start doing completely useless things themselves. A researcher then came to the conclusion that the item could cause The End of the World as We Know It unless it was launched back into space to remove its effect on the collective psyche. But when they did this, the story subverted its own premise, because the item saved the entire planet; it was picked up by an alien armada of doom, whose leader consequently decided attacking the Earth would be pointless, and decided not to bother. Perhaps a True Neutral equivalent of the default evil Artifact of Doom.
    • The titular helmet of Carl Barks' The Golden Helmet is an interesting take. It was buried in North-America by the viking Olaf the Blue as proof that he had discovered the land, thus entitling him and his descendants to claim the entire continent as their own. Throughout the story, multiple characters get their hands on it, and are consequently driven mad with power, claiming America (despite few of them having any tie to Olaf) as their personal property. It's left ambiguous, however, if the helmet is actually cursed, or if it's just the darker sides of human nature shining through.
  • The titular Orbs of the Millennium Orb saga from the Disney Mouse and Duck Comics. They are a pair of orbs forged by the wizard Meringue the Malevolent in his bid for absolute power. While the orbs by themselves are nothing special, only being attracted to Mickey and Donald as well as reacting to certain sounds, should Meringue succeed in fusing them during the turn of the millennium they will turn into a scepter of unimaginable power for him to wield.
  • Although it's more of a Tome of Eldritch Lore in the Evil Dead movies, the Necronomicon develops into this in the comic book Army of Darkness spinoff, possessing a malevolent sentience, corrupting the people who stumble upon it for its own purposes, and generally trying its best to get rid of the hero once and for all. Oddly enough, as the comic books developed the Necronomicon into an Artifact of Doom, its Tome of Eldritch Lore traits seemed to diminish accordingly: more often than not, the comic book version of the Necronomicon simply uses its powers as it or its owner sees fit, with no spell recitation involved. This might've been a Pragmatic Adaptation for the comic book's episodic format, since very few people in the Evil Dead universe are qualified to translate and read the book's ancient language aloud.
  • Iznogoud: Once per Episode, Iznogoud acquires a bizarre magical artifact which the vendor assures will arrange a Fate Worse than Death for a victim of his choice. No points for guessing ahead of time that it will backfire horribly on Iznogoud himself. Just to name a few examples:
    • In "Dark Designs", Inzogoud acquires a magic pencil; when he draws a picture of someone or something and then tears the paper in half, the subject of the picture is banished to an alternate dimension. He can't get the spell to work until he takes art classes, and during an idle moment, his teacher sketches Iznogoud. When Iznogoud's art skills have finally improved, he sketches the Caliph and tears the page in half... unaware his teacher's sketch of him is on the other side of the page, so that they are both banished, and the Caliph ends up as sovereign of the island to which they were sent.
    • "The Box of Souvenirs" sees the title object, a camera, sold to Iznogoud by Japanese tourist Judoka Karate; when he takes a picture of someone or something with the camera, that someone or something is trapped forever in the photograph that results. Every time Iznogoud tries to take the Caliph's picture, someone or something gets in the way and disappears instead, and when he finally gets the Caliph alone, he is standing in front of a mirror and bends down at the crucial moment, causing Iznogoud to take a picture of his own reflection and disappear.
    • The title character in "The Merchant of Forgetfulness", Mumbaijumbo, sells Iznogoud a perfume which, when sniffed, causes instant and total amnesia in the victim. Iznogoud sprinkles it on the Caliph's flowers and food and finally puts it in an atomiser, but they are all sniffed by other people before the Caliph can get to them, and inevitably, the final victim is Iznogoud himself, who is left an empty shell.
    • In "The Jigsaw Turk", Iznogoud buys a 10,000 piece jigsaw from joke shop merchant Dokodah Bey; when the last piece is put in, the person of whom the puzzler is thinking will disintegrate into 10,000 pieces. There's one problem: there's a piece missing, which Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf have to retrieve from the factory, several days' journey away. After several further failed attempts to finish the puzzle, Iznogoud is forced to retrieve the missing piece from the palace bins; meanwhile, Dokodah Bey has found the missing piece in his shop, but the Caliph is the one who takes delivery of it, and Iznogoud returns with his own copy of the missing piece... just in time to see the Caliph put the last piece in, beaming that he's always thinking of Iznogoud. The luckless vizier disintegrates immediately.
  • In The Skull of Agarash graphic novel, a spin-off from the Lone Wolf series, the eponymous demonic cranium is yet another evil artifact that needs to be destroyed by Lone Wolf. The series is actually rife with these, and has a bunch more examples listed under Gamebooks.
  • The title artifact of The Mask grants its wearer Nigh-Invulnerability and reality warping powers, but also loosens their inhibitions until eventually they become a cackling Ax-Crazy mass-murderer. It's also addictive, and can't be removed by anyone other than the person wearing it (unless the wearer himself allows it).
  • Satirized in Nodwick by "This One Ring", which is a One Ring parody that inspired an epic The Lord of the Rings-esque plot based on hype alone. It has no actual powers, but only Nodwick realizes this and no-one else believes him. By the end of the story, history repeats itself when Nodwick bribes off the story's Gollum-equivalent with "this one rock". Yeah, it's just a rock. Cut to the Distant Finale...
    • The print comic also features a straight example in the Gauntlet of Supremacy. It renders its wielder immune to harm, fires powerful energy blasts, and gives the wielder dominion over all living beings near them. Unfortunately, it was forged by a God of Evil and a God of War working together, and drives its wielder to conquer the world and kill anyone who opposes them. Only said God of Evil can control it.
  • The Scythe in Death Vigil. Bernie uses it to raise the recently dead as Death Knights for induction into the Vigil, and create their veilrippers and clothes drawn from their most treasured memories. It's also the source of all her power. However Maria implies that the Scythe is far more than that, and Alicia calls it "The Shard." What that means, and what the Scythe's true purpose is, was not revealed by the end of the first series.
  • The Vector Cross Through from Star Wars Legends revolves around a Sith artifact called the Muur Talisman. Putting on the talisman makes you The Ageless, gives you immunity to the rakghoul plague, and grants you the ability to transform nearby (Forceless) humans into rakghouls that obey your every command. And you don’t even need to be Force-sensitive to gain these benefits, either! Unfortunately for you, the talisman is also the Soul Jar of an ancient Sith Lord named Karness Muur. If you’re strong in the Force, Muur’s spirit will take over your body. If you aren’t, Muur will abandon you in favour of someone who is, leaving you at the mercy of your formerly-obedient rakghouls. To make matters worse the talisman can move under its own power, cannot be dislodged once it has a firm grip on its host, and cannot be damaged by lightsabers. A strong-willed Force-user can resist Muur’s control, but then you have to deal with him constantly whispering in your head until you either die, go insane, or give in.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe Disney Canon:
    • The Helm of Momin, first introduced in Star Wars: Lando, though chronologically first appearing in Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith. Formerly the helmet of the Sith Lord Momin (a Mad Artist who made "artwork" out of pain and death), it initially acts as his Soul Jar, allowing his spirit to possess anyone who puts it on. And even after that spirit is crushed out of it, it still contains enough of a Dark Side presence to corrupt anyone who touches it, rendering them obsessed with owning the helmet and killing anyone else they encounter.
    • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra:
      • The Rur crystal from the first couple of arcs of the 2016 run. Long ago, a renegade Jedi calling himself Eternal Rur used the crystal as part of an experiment to gain eternal life. All he succeeded in doing was creating a copy of his mind within the crystal which quickly went insane, convincing itself it was the real Rur and that the actual Rur was an evil spirit who'd stolen its body. It proceeded to use its Force-based Technopathy abilities to kill Rur, and absolutely anyone it's encountered ever since.
      • The Fortune and Fate arc has Aphra's new team going after the Rings of Vaale, a pair of rings said to possess great power, but at a cost (one grants eternal life but drives the wearer insane, while the other grants great wealth but hastens the wearer's eventual demise). And it's said that proximity to them will drive anyone insane eventually, even if not actually wearing them, to the point that they ended up destroying the entire planet where they were forged.
      • In Issue #15 of the 2020 run, Aphra stumbles on a Thought Dowser, a device created by the Magitek cult known as the Ascendant which allows the user to control other people's bodies at the cost of overwhelming the user's mind.
      • Kho Phon Farruss' ultimate goal is the Spark Eternal, the culmination of the Ascendant's research, which can transform a non-Force sensitive person into a Dark Side wielder on the level of a Sith Lord. It turns out to be self-aware, and possesses Aphra when activated.
    • Star Wars (Marvel 2015): The fourth Annual features a pair of lightsabers once belonging to Darth Atrius, an ancient Sith Lord so consumed with rage that it contaminated the sabers. Now, anyone who uses them is infected with that rage; even Vader has trouble not being overwhelmed by it.
  • In Locke & Key, several of the magical keys hidden around Keyhouse can be rather dangerous if used in the wrong hands, but the most dangerous of all is the Omega Key, due to its only purpose being to open the Black Door in the caves underneath the house and unleash the creatures locked away behind it.
  • Subverted in Warlord of Mars. The Sword of Barsoom is seemingly this, being able to corrupt anyone who holds it and is said to give absolute power over the planet. Turns out it's just a normal sword with a gem that radiated negative psychic energy that makes anyone near them paranoid or aggressive, or submissive if weak-willed enough.

    Fan Works 
  • In Atlantis Rising, the Orichalcos comes back with a vengeance. The villain uses it to power his magic and his ultimate goal is to raise the Heartstone, the source of the Orichalcos' power, which has been quietly growing in the sunken city of Atlantis for millennia. A small piece of Orichalcum in Mariks unwilling possession also reawakens Yami Marik.
  • Rachel's blue-feather earring in AWE Arcadia Bay (Rogue_Demon) is an altered item that causes anyone who touches it to become possessed by the Hiss.
  • Baumann Revenge: The All Stars Staff is the one responsible for giving Mr. Baumann the desire to get rid of Ben Tennyson. Turns out that it didn't follow Baumann's desires, and it has Undying Loyalty to its one true master, DX-4. It has Nigh-Invulnerability. When Verdona used her magic to damage it, it wasn't damaged. Black Hole was not able to damage it, because it was made from an unbreakable material despite his power. In the end, the only way to destroy it was to trick it into turning into its One-Winged Angel form and destroying the dragon inside it.
  • Kyle in Becka Rangers Nemo Thunder goes Ax-Crazy the very second he touches the Jellyfish Staff. Even after they fix the staff so it won't make him completely evil, it still makes him a Sociopathic Hero when he's morphed.
  • The Body Reflects the Heart, the Shadow Reflects the Soul: Vanes of Order are golden feathers soon revealed to be shards of Yaldabaoth, the final boss of Persona 5. If handled with care by a Persona-user, they're harmless, and the Persona-user can use them as supernatural reality-warping batteries. If consumed by a Shadow, it instantly grows more robust. If wielded by a regular person, it serves as a conduit to help them unleash their Persona but acts as a Corrupter to them. And for someone with a darker heart, it can release darker impulses and eventually a Corporeal Shadow (Superpowered Evil Side that possesses the host). At worst, it can corrupt the Personal Shadow itself and force it to go berserk even if its owner accepts it.
  • The Black Book from Fallout: Equestria is the Zebra equivalent of the Necronomicon. It also corrupts everypony around it, and its misuse by Rarity and Princess Celestia was responsible for the downfall of Equestria.
  • Subverted in Cheshire (Miraculous Ladybug). Everyone within the Order and even the other Kwami think the Cat Miraculous — and Plagg by association — is this after centuries of villainous individuals wielding his destructive power. They logically assume that Plagg is purposefully choosing evil people or is actively corrupting his users to villainy. In reality, the ring is just a Slippery MacGuffin and Plagg is just really unlucky. Once Marinette ends up on the Order's radar, he's deeply frustrated that the first heroic charge he's had in literal millennia is being hunted down like a criminal by his fellow gods.
  • In Child of the Storm the Darkhold is very definitely this - kept in the vaults of a castle guarded by the most powerful technology, magic and soldiers that can be found, it has a well-earned reputation. And it proves its reputation when a spell from within it allows the Ax-Crazy Gravemoss to create monsters that Odin specifically exterminated and had all knowledge of destroyed. But the Darkhold cannot be destroyed. And it never forgets... Oh, and it's sentient, possesses the reader, and is the Soul Jar for the Elder God Chthon.
    • The Chitauri sceptre is treated as one. No one wants anything that has mind altering properties and that Thanos has had contact with in anywhere but the strongest vaults in Asgard.
    • After it's filled with Phoenix fire, Harry's 'phoenix feather' (or what Doctor Strange refers to as, "what you all so charmingly think is a phoenix feather"), given to him by Odin, becomes this, and is likewise locked away. This is not because it's inherently evil, so much as the fact that it contains the power of a fully fledged Dark Phoenix.
  • In Clash of the Elements The Dark Star turns out to be one of these, and it was cloned by Fawful for Cacklets ta to use in her plans.
  • The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum has the Bag of Tirek, which contains the soul of its maker, the same evil centaur from the My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle who wants to get revenge against the entire human race for Megan stopping them over a thousand years ago and enslave every living being under his will. Besides corrupting TCB!Celestia into an insane tyrant, it's also heavily hinted to have corrupted both universe's versions of Luna into Nightmare Moon.
  • In The Elements of Friendship, The Alicorn Amulet, as in canon, with the added bonus of ripping its wearer's soul in two. And it seems that Trixie was not the first victim of its horrors.
  • Equestria Girls: A Fairly Odd Friendship:
    • The Stone of Desire, a magical stone from Equestria which grants the user's every wish but fuses with their bodies and slowly corrupts them. Twilight assumes that Timmy has one, which is what leads the Rainbooms to getting close to him, in the hopes of getting rid of it before it drives him crazy.
    • The Medallion of Manipulation, which the Dazzlings use to Mind Rape Timmy into giving into his anger and darker impulses.
  • The Facing the Future Series story Royal Occupation has the Scepter of Fay, which makes anyone who possesses an Amulet of Aragon all powerful.
  • Fallen King has the Millennium Eye and Ring, but the Millennium Puzzle is the one most touched upon. Being near its pieces lets those in proximity summon monsters, and Pegasus plans to use it to rewrite reality.
  • A Future of Friendship, A History of Hate has the Tear of Covet, the gem that Miserain gives Scootaloo to enable her wish to become an adult. While it does as advertised, it turns out it was feeding off the despair she felt when her wishes blew up in her face to power a creature called a woebeghoul contained within it, and when she enters a Heroic BSoD, the ghoul breaks free and absorbs her before attacking Ponyville.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters has the Sword of the Berserker, also called the Sword of Thanatos, forged from the remains of the demon Abaddon. It can One-Hit Kill anything, but it also corrupts the user, turning them into a mindless Berserker.
  • The Immortal Game has the Sliver of Darkness, which was responsible for Princess Luna's transformation into Nightmare Moon, and more importantly to the story, Twilight Sparkle's transformation into Nihilus.
  • The Night Unfurls: Both Kyril's saw cleaver and journal are said to have an own will, that anybody who makes contact with it risk gaining Insight, which makes them susceptible from the madness within the nightmarish horrors of Yharnam. Hicks, Celestine and Olga almost learn it the hard way. If you are wondering why the owner, Kyril, is not affected, the reason may have something to do with his eldritch nature.
  • The Book of Shadows from Ojamajo Doremi: Rise of the Shadows is a subversion. Even though it has everything the Big Bad needs to complete her plans with (in addition to telling the history of the Shadows), it can also be used to defeat the Shadows once and for all.
  • A handful of then have been making their way into Demigod Power.
    • The first Big Bad uses one to summon an army of Keres, wraith-like death spirits, which he uses to attack camp.
    • Two are involved in the subsequent Ronin War, and they almost destroy the gods.
    • As of the Rise of the Hierophant arc, whatever the Breath of Hyperion is, it will most likely turn out to be this.
  • In the Pony POV Series:
    • The Alicorn Amulet is also this, with the twist that it actively wants a member of Trixie's bloodline to use it because Trixie's ancestor Magic Star created it in the first place using the Rainbow of Darkness as the materials. Another twist is the Amulet originally wasn't this trope, it was corrupted when it was used to seal away the majority of the evil Pure Magic Being Lilith, the First Witch, in order to defeat her.
    • In the Loose Canon Sequel Series Dark World Drabbles, a member of Trixie's family a thousand years later named Masquerade got her hooves on Alicorn Amulet. While it's largely offscreen, the Dark World Heroes apparently had quite a bit of trouble getting it off of her and it attempted to get Magica to put it on her (implying she too is of Trixie's blood). It's implied that Anasi (Alicorn!Trixie from a previous loop) covertly helped them do so and purify it so it could be used to forge an independent set of Elements of Chaos for use by the new Bearers.
    • Hydia spent a good chunk of her time before dying creating a lot of these to scatter across Ponyland as a last act of spite on Ponykind. This included the Inspiration Manifestation.
    • The Concept Killing Spear, AKA the Most Feared Weapon in Creation, is a unique case: it's not so much inherently evil or corrupting as so dang dangerous that using it for good is nigh impossible. This is because it erases anyone it kills from existence unless used very specifically, as was done with Rancor to Dark World!Discord, and everyone who's currently alive because of them, and everyone who's currently alive because of them ect., which can cause massive devastation. It was created by a Child Prodigy from Tirek's Chariot of Darkness to kill Cupid and Venus. She succeeded in killing Cupid with it, and the end result was sending countless lives to Oblivion along with him and drastically changing history for the worst, and until Nightmare Eclipse eventually surpassed it, it was the greatest amount of devastation done to reality by a mortal ever. The Spear is so dangerous that Strife (the literal Anthropomorphic Personification of Conflict itself) considers it unfit to remain in the mortal realm and kept it sealed in her realm, one of the most dangerous places in existence, just to make sure it was never used unless absolutely needed. It's telling that the only reason the Concepts don't just destroy it is because they can't, as only Destruction could do so and Discord ate him.
  • The Princess and the Dragon:
    • The Shadow Items note  can be used to invoke Shadow Magic, which among other things, can turn people into "shadows", corrupted, insane beings.
    • Orichalcum, which can enhance a sorcerer's magic and refine their control, but will corrupt their soul the moment they touch it.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: As in Friendship is Magic, Equestria seems to have no shortage of these lying around, including a few not in the show.
    • The Alicorn Amulet, which first shows up in a side-story where Twilight Sparkle tries to use it to make duplicate Elements of Harmony, and one of her candidates uses it to try and become a god. It reappears several months later in the hands of Spike... who proves resistant enough to its power to throw it in some lava.
    • The Guitar of the Sirens, a magic cursed guitar which can brainwash anyone who listens to it... unless the person using it is a talentless hack, or the pony they're using it on can recognize their talentlessness.
    • The Rainbow of Darkness, once belonging to Tirek himself. Later stolen by a dragon who manages to swallow it, making it part of himself.
  • Ring-Maker: Annatar considers the One Ring to be this, and initially doesn't even consider forging it, to the point of doing a Verbal Backspace when explaining the Rings of Power to Director Piggot to avoid the expectation of forging the One Ring.
  • In Romance and the Fate of Equestria, Trixie comes to Twilight asking for information on the Ears of the Beast, a magical artifact she's found. They turn out to be the actual fossilized ears of a chopped-up Eldritch Abomination. The artifact is wielded by cutting off one's own ears and replacing them with those of the Beast, granting immortality and immense magical power but an obsession with putting the Beast back together. Later on, the story's Terrible Trio are revealed to be wielding other pieces of the Beast.
  • Shadows Awakening: The Dark Treasures, formerly the Imperial Regalia of Japan — were corrupted into this by the Dark Champion of the Shadowkhan long ago. In addition to the fact that combined they can open the Forge of Shadows (the place where the Shadowkhan were originally created), they also have corrupting influences of their own:
    • The Kusanagi sword can possess the person using it and turn them into a Blood Knight berserker.
    • The Mirror of Despair puts Tohru in a coma when he looks into it, trapping him in a vision of a Bad Future until Uncle is able to wake him up.
    • The Jewel can bring a person's self-doubts and darkest thoughts to life as shadow doppelgangers to torment them. They can't cause physical harm, but the emotional torment is a useful tool in battle.
  • The Frozen fanfic "Sorry About The Mess" has The Mirror, an ancient object created specifically to corrupt those who use it.
  • In Sunset of Time, the Dark Regalia are ancient relics that amplify a pony's powers, and when all three are worn together it turns them into an alicorn. The catch is they corrupt the user's mind, driving them insane and evil, and are powered by dark magic. And the transformation into an alicorn as one assembles the set is pure Body Horror.
  • Always Having Juice: In the Juiceverse, the Chaos Emeralds turn out to be these, big time.. They appear to grant incredible power to anyone who wields them, but it drives them completely insane as a result and it's terrifying. While the primary example we see is Sonic himself (he becomes Super Sonic... albeit in Fleetway fahsion, so a very powerful psychopath and with Shock and Awe powers), Knuckles has stated that Chaos and Gerald Robotnik also went insane (unlike Sonic, they didn't have Knuckles to help). If a benevolent deity, a kindly scientist, and even the main hero are driven to complete and utter bedlam because of their power, then AHJ's Chaos Emeralds definitely qualify as these. This makes the Master Emerald's role in keeping them at bay all the more important.
    Knuckles: Too dangerous for anyone to use.
  • In With Strings Attached we have Blackfire, the Hunter's BFS, even though the Hunter doesn't think it's evil. He is disabused of that notion eventually.
  • The World of the Creatures features the Biolangra - a powerful magical object that grants the person who wields it the power to either unite or destroy all life in the eponymous world.
  • Zenith has The Pillar of the Sun. 1,000 years ago, it was stolen by Sombra as a weapon to kill Celestia. Unfortunately, 1,000 years later, it ended up getting Twilight, instead.

    Films — Animation 
  • Maleficent's spinning wheel from Sleeping Beauty. The interesting thing here is that any spinning wheel could have fulfilled the curse instead of one particular evil/powerful one.
  • The Black Cauldron from... The Black Cauldron is ancient and can create an army of undead.
  • The Kragle from The LEGO Movie, a device that can render the Lego universe forevermore static and frozen. Actually a tube of Krazy Glue.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls has an example overlapping with Holy Is Not Safe. Sunset Shimmer, who at that point is a pretty nasty piece of work, gets her hands on Twilight Sparkle's own Element of Harmony, and undergoes a horrific Painful Transformation into a demonic form which behaves about like Nightmare Moon did relative to Princess Luna: much less inhibited, much less moral, and much more magically powerful, but still recognizably herself. Originally, Sunset hasn't been willing to threaten a dog; after she transforms, she tries to kill a group of high-schoolers.
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Forgotten Friendship: The Memory Stone is an ancient Equestrian artifact that, in the wrong hands, can prove extremely disruptive. It can remove very specific memories with pinpoint accuracy, and is powerful enough to affect the whole student body of CHS at once. As Clover the Clever's story attests, pursuing a villain employing the Stone can be very frustrating, since you can be made to forget you were doing it in the first place. The Stone's only limitation is that it doesn't work across worlds, so those in Equestria remain unaffected. Destroying it returns all the stolen memories, but if not done within three days, the memories are lost forever.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The One Ring from The Lord of the Rings is the Trope Codifier and this page's image. It contains the bulk of Sauron's power and will corrupt whoever not named Sauron wears it. See Literature for more detail.
  • The Lament Configuration (the puzzle box) in Hellraiser films, a key to open a portal to the hellish realm of the Cenobites.
  • The gun from Juice. The moment Bishop uses it, he is unable to stop using it even on his friends.
  • The Coke Bottle, from The Gods Must Be Crazy. Although it's just a normal, ordinary soda bottle, its effect on a tribe of bushmen due to its usefulness and its rarity causes so much trouble (culminating in one of their number using it as a weapon to hurt another) that they decide it's an evil thing, which must be thrown off the edge of the Earth.
  • The "Key" with the blood of Jesus Christ in it from Demon Knight.
  • The cellar in The Cabin in the Woods is filled with Artifacts of Doom with the intention of getting the victims to play with the objects and doom themselves.
  • In The Brass Teapot the titular artifact's power latches unto the slightest trace of evil in a person's soul and amplifies it until the person is utterly corrupted by greed. It has left a trail of death and destruction across the entire world in the two millennia of its existence.
  • Avengers: Infinity War: The Infinity Gauntlet, a Tricked Out Glove holding 6 Power Crystals that can destroy entire worlds on their own. Together, they can unmake the Universe.
    • Not that the Infinity Stones themselves are exactly safe either. The Aether scared the Asgardians so much their plan for dealing with it was to put it in a box and forget about it, because it drains the life out of anyone who absorbs it (and seems to want to destroy everything, everywhere). The Power Stone kills anyone who touches it, causing them to burn up. The Eye of Agamotto is held by an order of mystics who freak out when Stephen Strange borrows it for a few minutes, on account of the fact misuse can irrevocably damage space and time (or just erase the user from existence). And while the Mind Stone and the Tesseract are less dangerous, it's implied they're sentient in some shape or form, and actively nudging folk around them for their own reason (also, the last person to touch the Tesseract hasn't been seen since). Though it later turns out they were transported to another planet and became the Guardian of the Soul stone, which itself requires the sacrifice of a loved one to obtain it.
  • In the hybrid live-action/animation movie Cool World, the Spike of Power created by Dr. Vincent Whiskers. It can breach the boundary between the real world and the cartoon Cool World. It fits this trope in that it can actually tear down the walls between worlds completely, leading to the Roger Rabbit Effect on a massive scale — and not in a fun way. The antagonist, Holli Would, craves it to anchor herself in the real world, but instead causes the chaotic Cool World to spill into real world Las Vegas.
  • In the game world of Of Dice and Men, the Libris Mortis or Book of All Souls is this. It will cause, as Tara puts it, "massive, world-ending zombie badness" if not destroyed.
  • Return to House on Haunted Hill: The cursed statue of Baphomet, which is the reason why Dr. Vannacutt's mental asylum is haunted by its previous inhabitants.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Suicide Squad: The statue holding the soul of the Enchantress. When June accidentally breaks it, she gets possessed by the Enchantress. The Enchantress' heart also counts, as it's her Achilles' Heel, and reclaiming it gives her back her full power.
    • Justice League: The three Mother Boxes. Brought together, they form the Unity, which can be used to terraform Earth into a new Apokolips.
      • In Zack Snyder's Justice League, the Unity causes an explosion that disintegrates everything in its path, Justice League members included. Only the Flash survives the blast by making himself intangible, and he uses his speed to travel in time and undo that carnage.
    • SHAZAM! (2019): The Eye of Sin, a mystical orb that contains the demonic personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins. Possessing it allows Dr. Sivana to become the Sins' Champion, giving him great power as long as at least one of the Sins stays inside it.
    • The Dreamstone in Wonder Woman 1984.It seems like an ordinary wish-granting MacGuffin, but is revealed to be created by the God of Lies, and have a cost to every wish. Because of all the wishes made, humanity ends up seconds away from nuclear oblivion before the spell is undone.
  • The titular boardgame from Jumanji will draw players in with its Jungle Drums and those who do start playing quickly learn that the game runs on Everything Trying to Kill You.
  • Two of the antiques deceitfully obtained in From Beyond the Grave prove to be this. The mirror in "The Gatecrasher" contains an apparition that compels Charlton to kill so it can feed and eventually manifest outside the mirror. The eponymous door in "The Door" was created by the evil occultist Sir Michael Sinclair as a means to trap those who entered through it, so that Sinclair can take their souls and live forever. (The other two items, the medal and the snuffbox, are not directly linked to fate of their possessors.)
  • Ouija Mummy: Ahotep I's necklace. It compelled Cassandra to bring it to her home, whereupon Ahotep I's spirit killed her, and when Natalie put it on, she ended up possessed by Ahotep's spirit after using her aunt's ouija board.
  • The music box in Wish Upon, which grants up to seven of its owner's wishes, but kills a person close to them in exchange for each one. After the seventh wish is made, the box claims its owner's soul.

    Gamebooks 
  • Monster Hunter by Larry Correia features several deadly artifacts. One of note is the Kamaresh Yar, which can be used to destroy the world, and even reverse time.
  • The Lone Wolf gamebooks: in addition to the evil armies, demonic Evil Overlords, various Sealed Evils in Cans, and hostile wildlife and environments, Lone Wolf runs into several Artifacts of Doom.
    • The Darklord weapons and the Death Staff are examples of evil weapons that have great power, but aren't healthy if their users aren't evil incarnate.
    • Story-wise, the worst artifacts are the Doomstones. The Doomstones are essentially crystallized Black Magic created by a powerful demon that eventually corrupts and kills anyone who uses them that isn't already a being of pure evil. Meaning that the strongest antagonists can use them with impunity, but Lone Wolf collapses as soon as he gets near one. The Doomstone of Darke featured in Book 16 The Darke Crusade deserves a special mention here. In the end, it turns out to be the REAL Big Bad of the book, having made the Disc-One Final Boss its frail, near-undead puppet.
    • A weird example is the Moonstone, a good Artifact of Doom: crops grow better, children are born healthier, summers are longer... but it threatens to destroy the natural equilibrium of Magnamund. The Legends of Lone Wolf series elaborates: the gods have literally set up a Balance Between Good and Evil. The Shianti were outsiders who meant well, but by putting the Moonstone into Magnamund, this gives Naar the right to match it.
  • The infamous videotape in The Ring will kill whoever watches it.

    Literature 
  • Monster Hunter International features several.
    • In book 1, there is the Kamaresh Yar, which the villain attempts to use to destroy the world. However, the hero Owen Pitt is able to use it to save his comrades from a deadly ambush.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien:
    • The quintessential example is The One Ring from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The Ring grants power proportional to that of the wielder, so the effect on a mere hobbit is minimal (it just helps them "disappear" and makes them live forever), but in the hands of an elven mage or a demigod like Gandalf, it's a world-breaking artifact. The downside is: it contains the spirit of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron (a.k.a. the Necromancer), so it will eventually corrupt anyone else who wears it, or owns it, or even sees it. Also, it's virtually indestructible, and the quest to destroy it takes about three-quarters of the plot.
    • The palantíri, also from The Lord of the Rings, are basically just sort of far-seeing crystal balls, but they are functionally dooming at the time of the story, because Sauron got hold of one and used it to psychically attack anyone who uses the others. (Victims include Saruman, Denethor and Pippin.) They also seem to exert a strong fascination and temptation to use them for some reason or other, but maybe that's just hobbit curiosity. Aragorn breaks the spell and wrests the palantír for his own purposes right after he spooks Sauron by showing him, reforged, the blade that cost him the ring and a finger
    • The Silmarils (of The Silmarillion) aren't precisely doomy, but they seem to have a dooming effect on everyone around them, because everybody who sees one (or even hears about it) covets them. Including Morgoth, who wears them in his crown even though their holiness burns him. Also, Mandos lays a Doom on the Noldor who seek the Silmarils, and anyone who gets involved with them, including the Sindar, the Dwarves and Men.
  • In the John Silke series of Death Dealer books (which are based on the painting by Frank Frazetta) the main character is given a helmet possessed by the god of death, which makes him a nigh-invincible warrior. On the flip side, it will put Gath (the name given to the death dealer) through slowly increasing discomfort, pain, and finally torture. The helmet can only be removed by an innocent young woman, and final love interest, named Robin Lakehair.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Legion, learning of the Black Cube causes the Cabal to change their plans. They give up their subtlety to openly contact the Alpha Legion and tell them they must flee the planet at once: their enemies are using the Blood Magic to bring about the Black Dawn, which will wipe life from the planet.
  • The first two books in Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain series had the Black Cauldron, based on a Welsh myth, used by Big Bad Arawn to create his army of the undead. (The Fates imply that the Cauldron once had other, more benign uses, but Arawn ruined the thing while he was "renting" it.) To destroy it, Someone Has to Die, and it can apparently corrupt former good guys who covet its powers. The Disney Animated Canon made a very loose adaptation simply titled The Black Cauldron.
  • The Piggy from William Sleator's Interstellar Pig also does nothing, but causes a lot of trouble. The aliens chasing it believe that, when an unknown timer runs out, only the planet with the Piggy will be spared from destruction. But the Piggy itself later tells the human protagonist that it has the "hiccups" and will actually only destroy whatever world it's on during its next hiccup. The hero soon realizes these are both lies to keep "the game" going: the Piggy's real purpose is to study each alien species, and the story of the game exists solely to manipulate everyone into alternately chasing it and tossing it like a hot potato.
  • In Steven Brust's Dragaera books, Morganti weapons have a cold, low-level intelligence that hungers to consume souls. The blades are so awful that they even unsettle their bearer. However, the most powerful Morganti weapons are called Great Weapons, and have a more developed intelligence that can be controlled, leading to a symbiotic relationship.
  • The Blackened Denarii from The Dresden Files. Just touching a coin is enough to invite the fallen angel bound to it into your mind, where they will toy with your perceptions, offer you power, and eventually turn you into their flesh puppet. Mordite (a.k.a. "deathstone") is worse. Any entity short of an Eldritch Abomination will suffer Critical Existence Failure simply by being near it.
  • An example by Ramsey Campbell is the Messa/Massa di Requiem per Shuggay, a morbid opera designed not only to drive its audience mad, but to summon the blind idiot god Azatoth at the end of the performance.
  • Not a traditional artifact, but any copy of the play The King in Yellow, eponymous to the short story collection by Robert W. Chambers. The subject matter of the play The King In Yellow isn't entirely revealed, other than that it's set in "the lost city of Carcosa", perceived to be very artistically written, though the first act is tame and the second act drops hard. Reading the play will either lead to madness or a dark fate. The King in Yellow himself is never seen, nor shown whether or not he actually exists, though he appears to be a Humanoid Abomination that embodies decadence.
  • The Illearth Stone from the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is pure evil and extremely powerful. Even shards cut from it are potent magic items that can corrupt people. Additionally, if the Illearth Stone or a shard of it is in one place for long, its evil anti-nature aura will kill off all the plants in a large radius around it.
  • The grail in Teresa Edgerton's The Grail and the Ring became this because it was corrupted when its powers were first revealed. Subverted Trope in that the object can be redeemed, and doing this is a necessary step to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Forest Kingdom:
    • Book 1 (Blue Moon Rising) features The Infernal Devices, a trio of magical swords made using evil powers, which have a tendency to corrupt their wielders, unless those wielders have a strong enough will. One of them makes a return appearance in book 2 (Down Among the Dead Men).
    • Spinoff series Hawk & Fisher book 6 (The Bones of Haven) introduces Messerschmann's Portrait, a magical booby trap. Its prisoner was the thief Wulf Saxon, who'd been imprisoned in it for 23 years after an unwise attempt to rob a sorcerer. Although insane at first after being freed, he regains his senses by a fluke of events and subsequently discovers he's acquired superhuman strength, speed and stamina, as if all the concentrated energy of those twenty-three years is at his disposal.
  • Things like this regularly turn up in Simon R. Green's Nightside novels, but in weirder forms (e.g. the Speaking Gun).
  • In P. C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, the Ivory Knife and the Book Bound in Pale Leather are this and yet not, in that they're given to the Kencyr by their God, and will be used by the three avatars of God, the Tyr-ridan. The Ivory Knife is the "very tooth of death", a pinprick from which is fatal, which rots and kills anything it touches. Heroine Jame keeps it in her boot sheath for the longest time.
  • The short story "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs. The monkey's paw grants the user's wishes, but at a tremendous price. "It had a spell put on it by an old fakir, a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people's lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow." The thing was created purely to cause suffering. It's pure evil.
  • The Wheel of Time has a city that acts like this. Shadar Logoth will quickly corrupt anyone who stays too long. This isn't much of a problem when you consider that people who enter will quickly get killed by Mashadar, an evil cloud that hangs over the city. Mat Cauthon picks up a dagger on his stay there, and this acts the same way. He quickly succumbs to hating people, and is nearly killed by the taint of the dagger before he is finally separated and healed of the taint. However, Rand eventually finds a way to use the city against the Big Bad without being corrupted by it, namely by making its power and the city's cancel each other out, albeit with the side effect of erasing the city and several kilometers of earth beneath it from existence.
  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower depicts two of a set of thirteen Artifacts of Doom — the Wizard's Rainbow, a scattered set of color-coordinated crystal balls that inspire a covetous "my precious..." instinct. The pink one, Grapefruit, appears to cause addiction to the Reality TV-esque visions it shows, and also possibly the slow draining the viewer's vitality. But the Doomiest of them all, Black Thirteen, instead inspires a mixture of terror and murder-suicides, and is implied to act as a sort of Weirdness Magnet for disaster when Jake and Father Callahan unknowingly decide to stash it in a subway locker beneath the World Trade Center in June 1999. Black Thirteen's doominess is a bit of an Informed Attribute, however, as the protagonists are able to use it to get all sorts of plot-relevant errands done with few side effects beyond the occasional creepy voice in the head / hallucinatory creepy music.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf novel Grey Hunter, Ragnar and other Space Marines encounter an artifact which makes vast promises to them. Ragnor only breaks free when it tells him he has to kneel to the Ruinous Power to get it. And the others don't break free on their own; he has to help them.
  • May or may not be averted in C. S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, as the inscription over the enchanted bell only claims it'll drive you mad if you refrain from striking it. Even if it couldn't really cause insanity, ringing the bell awakened Jadis and introduced evil to Narnia, which is "doom" in a way.
  • That tome of ineffable horrors, the Necronomicon originating in the works of H. P. Lovecraft, though this is largely the result of being heavily Flanderized; a major percentage of the Lovecraft's protagonists read the book without becoming more than mildly neurotic. Breakdowns only tend to happen when what they've learned from the book seems to coincide with their recent experiences.
  • Played straight with the original Necronomicon (only, any other copies are just books) in German author Wolfgang Hohlbein's Hexer stories, which is actively malevolent, extremely unsafe to read, and tends to draw supernatural evil to itself partly through its own power and partly because it's secretly one of the Seals of Power that keep the Great Old Ones in their respective prisons after their defeat by the Elder Gods.
  • In China Miéville's The Scar, Silas steals a statue from the grindylow which grants him mysterious powers, yet has the unfortunate side effect of slowly turning him into a fish-person.
  • The gauntlet in Karen Miller's Godspeaker Trilogy which is made from a Power Crystal and fashioned by Hekat for her son Zandakar. It destroys buildings and fries people where they stand. It also makes his hair turn blue. Zandakar later abandons it as he find it too destructive, his brother Dmmitak uses the gauntlet and never takes it off, even when he has sex. The knife which Vortka gives Zandakar is also an example of this.
  • Stormbringer, the black blade, in the Elric novels, forces Elric to kill everyone he loves, brings about The End of the World as We Know It, and ultimately survives the destruction and re-creation of the universe to spread its evil anew.
  • Discworld:
    • Terry Pratchett created a device called the Gonne ie. the world's first gun in Men at Arms. Anyone (almost) who so much as picks up the Gonne will think it "talks" to them; they begin to consider killing someone immediately. On the Disc, sometimes just being powerful or unique is enough to make something borderline magical, and the Gonne was both. What the Gonne feared most, though, was not destruction but replication.
    • In Soul Music, a primordial guitar bought at a little mystical shop takes control of an aspiring musician and his band mates. The guitar isn't exactly evil, but it is selfish, destructive, and intent on making sure "The Band With Rocks In" dies young and goes out in a blaze of glory, whether they want to or not, in order to popularize its type of music.
  • Crenshinibon, the Crystal Shard, in R. A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale Trilogy, is considered by many readers to be an homage to the One Ring. It's a sapient artifact forged from the souls of several liches, capable of constructing crystal towers that can focus sunlight into beams, and corrupts the wielder. The lore states that Crenshinibon was specifically created as a giant middle finger to the "good" races as it was powered by the symbol of all that is good — Sunlight. The liches apparently had something of a sense of humour.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Horcruxes are sort of like the One Ring; they primarily function as Soul Jars for Voldemort, but can exert a corrupting influence to defend themselves. Never mind that the creation of them is an act of evil; it requires the wizard to commit murder as part of the ritual.
    • Not exactly doomy but definitely addictive is the Mirror of Erised in the first book. It shows you your greatest desire, but it is just an illusion. (In the movie Harry is shown sitting transfixed in front of it.)
    • The Elder Wand prior to coming into the possession of Dumbledore and later Harry would also qualify. It is the most powerful wand ever created so its users typically become Drunk with Power and knifed when they're sleeping.
  • Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker features Nightblood, a sentient sword created for the purpose of destroying evil — except being a sword, it has no real idea what evil is, and as such continually goads its wielder to try killing everyone in sight just to be on the safe side, coming across somewhere between a Deadpan Snarker and a kicked puppy (when it isn't used). Despite not having any meaningful understanding of what evil is, Nightblood excels at the "destroy" part, and anyone with ill intent will feel compelled to pick it up, and will soon be involuntarily killing their partners in crime, while good people will feel overwhelmingly nauseous simply at the sight of it, although they can get over this to carry it. It does, however, like to urge its proper owner to kill almost anyone so... yeah, we'll call that a design flaw.
  • In The Picture of Dorian Gray, the portrait itself. Dorian cannot age and stays young forever thanks to its power, but the painting turns more horrible and wretched with each evil act that Dorian performs, as a physical manifestation of his tainted soul. Dorian is drawn to and repulsed by it. By the end of the book, he has the painting locked in his attic, afraid to even look at it. In a fit of conscience, he decides to destroy it, unable to bear to look at his aged and wicked face from the canvas. He stabs it, but in doing so, actually kills himself. While the portrait isn't actually evil, it reflects the evil in Dorian.
  • The board games Jumanji and Zathura, while not inherently evil or malevolent, still often rain down misfortune and disaster on the players in the form of lions, homicidal big game hunters, meteor showers, and invading aliens, depending on which game you're playing. In both games, the only way to get rid of them is to finish the game (assuming it hasn't killed you first). However, even if the heroes do manage to finish and dispose of the game, more often than not it will just worm its way into the hands of another group of unfortunate saps.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen book Midnight Tides, Rhulad Sengar's cursed sword (which he only grabbed to keep an enemy force from stealing it) grants him superhuman (super-Tiste?) strength and combat ability to match the greatest swordsman. And it even allows him to resurrect, as long as the sword remains in his hand, leaving him even stronger — hence harder to kill — than before. Unfortunately, the resurrection doesn't actually heal the wound that killed him (at least not immediately, or gently) and hurts, leaving Rhulad even less sane every time he's killed. And we've also seen, in the time between his death and resurrection, the Crippled God (the sword's creator and the series Big Bad) takes the opportunity to pound on Rhulad's soul before sending him back. Did we also mention the sword is cursed so that Rhulad can't let go of it, even if he wanted to?
  • The cricket ball hyperspace junction bomb created by Hactar in Life, the Universe and Everything.
  • The Bottle Imp has shades of this, in the Robert Louis Stevenson story of the same name. It will grant any material wish, but when its owner dies, he's doomed to go straight to hell. Ownership can be transferred to someone else but only if you follow the rules.
  • The demon bench end, from the story of the same name from Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror does this. It seems to do a combination of driving its owner mad and worming its way into their mind so they commit acts such as murder. It seems that one of the first acts it makes them do is the murder of the previous owner. Oh, and you can't give it away, throw it away and quite possibly you can't destroy it, or at least not by conventional means.
  • In Matthew Reilly's Six Sacred Stones and The Five Greatest Warriors, the sixth pillar gives the reward of "Power"; the ability to reshape the world according to its possessor's wishes. It also puts them through the ultimate version of power corrupts.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian novel The Hour of the Dragon, the Heart of Ahriman. Even one of the evil conspirators tries to get it from the Evil Sorcerer. Though interestingly, the Heart is actually noted to be a force of good, and the Evil Sorceror in question kept it close because he knew that it was the one power that could defeat his own dark arts and that he could never wield it himself. The conspirator in question only thought it was a source of dark power and intended to remove it under the belief it would weaken the sorceror, and Conan goes on a quest to get it back so he and his allies can defeat the sorceror.
  • The NeverEnding Story: Subverted with Auryn, which removes memories from its user but can also change somebody's personality, as for The One Ring. The longer the Bearer has Auryn, the more he begins to be upset, irritable and angry. This is the case for Bastian, at last.
  • Goosebumps:
    • The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, as the name implies, is a malevolent cuckoo clock with the power to turn back time, and will inevitably Ret-Gone the person who used it unless it's reset.
    • The killer camera in Say Cheese and Die!, which destroys or causes harm to persons or objects that it takes pictures of.
  • In Shadows of the Apt, the box. Scyla gets quite creeped out by its effect on her. The Living Shadow doesn't help.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: The Nautilus is this for Captain Nemo: at the State of technology in 1869, a submarine could destroy any ship and then escape unpunished. By using it as a Weapon of Mass Destruction, Nemo discovers that With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. Nemo last act in the book is to direct the Nautilus to a Giant Whirlpool, dooming himself and his crew.
  • Questing Stones are reputed to be this in Septimus Heap. No Apprentice has ever returned after having been dispatched with one of them, until Septimus is given one and survives the Queste in Queste.
  • In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, the Dancer, apparently. At one point two characters discuss whether one man who owned it had died when he disappeared — after all, all other owners have.
  • In the Book of Swords series, the twelve Swords forged by Vulcan all fit this to varying degrees, since they were forged for the ultimate purpose of spreading strife in the mortal world for the gods' amusement. The Swords' power and doominess is such that even the gods fall prey to them in the end. Tellingly, the only Sword that survives till the end of the series is Woundhealer, the only Sword that cannot harm anyone.
  • Sith Holocrons in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Not exactly in the movies, though, except as harmless fan-service atrezzo.
  • In Tom Holt's comedic fantasy Expecting Someone Taller, which is a very loose sequel to Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung, the Ring itself, as in the original, makes the bearer ruler of the world, but has a curse that all who bear it will come to a tragic and untimely death.
  • The Field Guide from The Spiderwick Chronicles. Its creator, Arthur Spiderwick, made it to document the existence of mystical creatures that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Unfortunately, the Big Bad Mulgarath wants the book so that he can use its knowledge for his own purposes.
  • Adventure Hunters: The war golems found underneath a country town are so powerful and caused so much damage the last time they were used that they have become the local Nuclear Weapons Taboo and everyone who knows anything about them will insist they are a myth to discourage anyone from using them again.
  • The Prince's Crown, in A. L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned, is this except under specific circumstances. To elaborate, anyone who touches the crown and is elementally aligned instantly dies unless an unaligned mage buffers them. A person who is not elementally aligned and touches the Crown will become a hoshek, a mage of pure evil. This can be averted by two people touching the crown at the same time, which instead allows one of them to bestow light magic on the other. The High Guardian of the Temple Of The Elements is capable of blessing the crown to negate these effects, allowing it to be used for the prince's coronation ritual.
  • The Sword of Martin from the Redwall series, is considered magic, but is good or bad depending on who wields it. Good characters can use it no problem and even gains master swordfighting skills while holding it. Yet if an evil character steals it and uses it for... well.. evil. They'll be cursed with misfortune and doom.
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain: Penny manages to find a cursed jade statue by accident in a school, which turns out to be guarded by an Eldritch Abomination.
    The mini-Machine reached The Machine itself, crawling up a leg to offer me the chunk of jade. Not just a chunk, a statue, a curling and elegant oriental dragon. I took it in both hands. Heavy, but not too much to carry. It looked mystical. What were the odds of finding a magical artifact here?
    The odds? Well, now that I asked, I'd just gone treasure hunting in LA, home of every cult, secret society, and unethical research project for the last 100 years. Oh, and I did it using experimental technology I didn't understand.
  • The "Unmaking Nexus" from Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, a living weapon that was commissioned by Zeus and constructed by The Fates during the final days of the first Titan War, is so powerful as to be able to kill an immortal god with a single sting. It can also just as easily kill the god who uses it, if they're not careful.
  • The source of Prismia's power in Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell is an amulet similar to the Alicorn Amulet.
  • The Book of Secrets in Perri Rhoades' Spectral Shadows could qualify as this. Especially since it supposedly contains The magic Blair needs to resurrect Salocin.
  • The Sharra Matrix in the Darkover novels. Superficially it is just a psychic Amplifier Artifact that allows users to start Playing with Fire. However, if used for its original purpose, as a weapon, it will goad them into summoning the Form of Fire, the "goddess" Sharra herself, who may or may not be an actual Eldritch Abomination. When a well-meaning group of idealists tries to use it to achieve Magic from Technology, they end up calling the Form of Fire and destroying a spaceport as the start of a campaign against the Terran presence on their Lost Colony planet.
  • One Skulduggery Pleasant short featured a pen which was used to commit a murder, but had no shutdown installed, so it would keep killing. Whoever picked it up would find themselves unintentionally writing out the idea of a horrible death in store for them, which soon comes true, though only the victim can see it happen. It causes you to die in a hallucination which is real but only for you - one holder is struck by lightning indoors, while the item is found in the home of a man who has been splattered all over his living room due to being hit by a charging train, which others heard but no-one witnessed as it somehow appeared in the room without making a huge hole in the house. The Skeleton Detective solves the case just in time to prevent the latest victim from being eaten by a shark on dry land.
  • The Saga of the Faroe Islanders: King Olaf urges Sigmund to trade the golden arm ring he got from Jarl Hakon and which was earlier worn by the statue of Thorgerd Hordabrud, because he foresees it will be the cause of his death. Sigmund does not want to let go of the ring. Years later, when Thorgrim finds Sigmund helpless from exhaustion on Suduroy beach, the ring induces Thorgrim to kill Sigmund from avarice. King Olaf's warning suggests this may be Thorgerd's revenge for Sigmund's conversion to Christianity.
  • In Karl Edward Wagner's Bloodstone, Kane attempts to obtain and use an ancient alien device of great power for his own purposes. Unfortunately, it has plans of its own...
  • Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive): The Shardblades represent the broken oaths of the old Knights Radiant, as well as centuries of blood and murder as people scrambled to win and steal them. When Kaladin touches one, he hears it screaming, though only he and the wielder can hear it. They're actually spren, killed by the broken oaths, given some semblance of life by bonding to a living being (enough to be summoned and dismissed at will, but no more). Being touched by a Radiant who still holds his oath gives them life and memory of their pain for a moment.
  • The Jungle Book: In Rudyard Kipling's "The King's Ankus", the eponymous object (an elephant-goad made from ivory and precious stones) looks like an Artifact of Doom to Mowgli when he discovers six men who have killed each other fighting over it. Being a Wild Child he doesn't understand why men would kill for something they can't eat.
  • Villains by Necessity: Valeriana's medallion is one of the last surviving Hellgates (called Darkgates in the book). A very small one, yes, but a Hellgate nonetheless. Given that, you'd think Sam would know better than to put the damn thing on, but that's part of its evil, tempting power...
  • Lampshaded in Broken Angels where the MacGuffin is a Martian spaceship. Turns out the local revolutionary group had already found the vessel, which they were planning to use a bargaining chip to achieve independence from the UN Protectorate. However the spaceship turns out to be a warship; on realising they had a Weapon of Mass Destruction they could use to crush the Protectorate, the archaeologist who's helping them is horrified to see them become Drunk with Power like they were being influenced by this trope, so she decides to Leave No Survivors to avert this.
  • In The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School, Amy has an encounter with a cloak that formerly belonged to Count Dracula. It confers vampiric night vision and Horror Hunger upon its wearer, and drains actual blood from the living if worn over exposed skin. (It looks newer and cleaner when it has fed well.) It also leeches the wearer's supernatural abilities if they have any; just as Amy gets a taste of Dracula's night vision and horror hunger — and an aversion to holy symbols — the next person it battens onto gets those plus Amy's telekinesis.
  • In The Divine Cities, the Voortyashtani swords are connected to the undead warriors in Voortya's afterlife and draw these back to the living world to wreak havoc on humanity when not stopped.
  • Infected cards in Card Force Infection break the power curve, but mess with their owner's mind, causing them to act unnaturally hostile. Concerningly, nobody seems to know where they come from — they just seem to show up in people's decks out of the blue. The Peppermint Knights seek out these cards and win them in duels so they can destroy them. The Blade of the Nephilim prefer putting the infected players into comas. Prior to the rise of Card Force, cursed items like this took the form of random objects like necklaces and diamonds.
  • The titular Book of Lies of The Book of Lies (2004) is a red tome that records any lie said in its vicinity. However, as time goes on, the Book neglects to record Exact Words lies, treating them as truths, and Marcel notes that it wants people to lie. This eventually culminates in the Book making a lie come true, by turning Starkey into the fictional dragon of Mortregis.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Averted in Doctor Who. The ancient Time Lords created The Moment, an ultimate weapon described as a "galaxy eater" and possessing the power to control time even beyond their usual technology. However, they were savvy enough to know just how tempting the power of such an ultimate weapon would be. So they deliberately gave it a sentient, telepathic, user interface as well as a conscience and the right to pass judgment on anyone who actually uses it. The Moment will try to dissuade any potential user. Despite the awesome scale of the Time War, the Time Lords were scared to dust off The Moment and use it for fear of what it would do to them as punishment.
  • Friday The 13th: The Series (no relation to the movies) was about a group of do-gooders who find that a vault filled with these things were sold to various people via Deal with the Devil. Naturally, they Gotta Catch Them All.
  • They have a strange habit of being in Sunnydale in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The best one is the Hellmouth, but there's others as well.
  • Angel:
    • The evil law firm that Angel is given at the end of season four (not technically an inanimate artifact, but hey). It's a powerful weapon that will do whatever he commands, but it's always working to corrupt his thinking so that he will give it the commands it wants. The dare-to-use-it/get-rid-of-it argument keeps cropping up, too. Also worth noting: The law firm exists to do business with evil. If they just plain stop helping evil with it, and instead try to use it only as a weapon for good, the business will fail, and another law firm, beyond their control, will pop up to replace it.
    • Angel also had a more straightforward Artifact of doom: the Shroud of Rahmon, a demonic shroud that drives anyone near it to go Ax-Crazy.
  • Power Rangers:
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Sword of Kahless appears to have the same effect on Worf and Kor, though this perception was unintended by the writers. As Kor mentions at one stage (whilst using the famous sword as a spit to cook his dinner), it's just a sword, not a holy relic. Nevertheless Worf and Kor each believe that their role in finding the long-lost bat'leth means they're destined to rule the Klingon Empire (Worf did become Chancellor and head of the Klingon Empire, albeit for a few minutes). After nearly killing each other they realize the sword will cause more problems than it will solve, and so they set it adrift in space. When the weapon is referenced in Star Trek Online, it is referenced as just a weapon that drew out people's dark sides because those who had it would have to deal with those who wanted it, thus going with the writers' intentions.
  • Masters of Horror: "John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns": Some guy, desperately in need to pay off his debts, goes in search for a long-lost film called La Fin absolue du monde on behalf of a private collector. Only shown publicly during its premiere (which resulted in a massacre), everyone that came into contact with it was driven to kill someone else or themselves.
  • A weekly Artifact of Doom provides the premise of the Sci-Fi Channel show Warehouse 13.
    • Some are so bad that they have to be kept in a special room in the Warehouse and continually be covered in the purple goo they use to neutralize them. Even then it's best not to get too close.
    • Five of them are especially bad:
      • one artifact has the potential to cause an extinction-level event when used at a certain location: the Minoan Trident when used in the caldera of a supervolcano like Yellowstone, the eruption of which would end human civilization).
      • The House of Commons Masonry is fueled by the rage of the entire Nazi war machine and can blow with the combined firepower of the London Blitz which is comparable to a nuclear blast.
      • the plot of Season 4 revolves around Ferdinand Magellan's Astrolabe which allows the user to go back 24 hours in the past but creates an Enemy Within which causes the user to ultimately go against the very reason they used it in the first place.
      • Another extinction-level artifact: the Chinese Orchid that unleashes a deadly fast-spreading incurable epidemic if so much as a single flower falls.
      • And an artifact that had to be encased in the hardest metal they could find: Pandora's Box. If opened or destroyed, all hope would vanish and then economy will collapse while riots and mass suicide would become commonplace.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The sarcophagus is a device that creates eternal youth, and can even bring people back to life, but it's credited as the main reason the Goa'uld are as evil as they are. The Tok'ra don't use it, because "it steals the soul." In the episode "Need", Daniel Jackson gets addicted to it, and eventually gets to the point where he just doesn't care about anybody else (which is really remarkable for him, at the time).
    • Also in Stargate SG-1 are the Ancients' Repository of Knowledge devices. Jack refers to them as Ancient head suckers because of the way they latch onto the recipients' heads to download the knowledge to them. These Repositories can download the entire knowledge bank of the Ancients into the mind of the user, however said information is too vast for the human mind to comprehend at our current evolutionary level. Therefore, anyone exposed to the knowledge bank will have their minds completely taken over by it, causing them to degrade and eventually shut down (die). Jack had his head sucked twice, and while he is able to build many advanced technologies, he becomes eventually unable to speak or comprehend anything other than the Ancient language and he nearly dies — the second time he has to go into stasis to escape death.
  • Parodied on A Bit of Fry and Laurie: "Flowers for Wendy" (purchased from the conveniently located street vendor who wasn't there yesterday) and "The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick".
  • Parodied in the Ripping Yarns episode "The Curse of the Claw."
  • The Objects in The Lost Room have the potential to be these, but they can also been used for good. The worst ones, though, are very dangerous, such as the Deck of Cards, which subjects you to terrible visions, and there's at least one combination of Objects with the ability to cause something unspeakably awful.
  • The Book of Pure Evil from the Canadian series Todd and the Book of Pure Evil is a Tome of Eldritch Lore that also functions as an Artifact of Doom. The book, which seems to be sentient and actively malevolent, appears to whoever has some great desire they wish to be fulfilled. In turn, the book (which can seemingly change its contents at will) provides a collection of spells that will grant that desire, though typically twist it in some way. The main character, Todd, was the first to use the book and it possessed him, causing him to nearly slaughter his entire school with The Power of Rock.
  • Babylon 5: The Thirdspace Gate opens the way for Eldritch Abominations to consume the universe. And they can make you want to open it when it's still closed.
  • Supernatural:
    • "Bad Day at Black Rock" deals with a rabbit's foot, taken from a rabbit captured in a graveyard at midnight during the full moon on Friday the 13th. It will grant its owner phenomenal good luck, until they lose it and will then have bad luck for the rest of their life (and after losing it, your luck will be so bad that "the rest of your life" won't be much longer).
    • "Out With the Old" features a large collection of these.
    • The First Blade, the "jawbone of an ass" with which Cain slew Abel, is selectively like this. For most people it would be harmless but not too useful, as bone doesn't make the most durable weapons. If you have the Mark of Cain on you it's potentially powerful enough to kill the highest-ranking angels and demons. If Dean is any indication, it's also a very thirsty knife, and warps the user into feeding it repeatedly. And if you die while still in possession of it, it brings you back as a demon.
  • Salem: The mallum.
  • The short-lived series Dead Man's Gun revolved around one of these as the central MacGuffin—every episode the fancy titular gun would fall into someone's hands, and possessing the gun brought trouble into that person's life until they either died, received their comeuppance, or learned a valuable life lesson, at which point the gun would leave their possession and become someone else's problem.
  • Azrael's Blade on Lucifer is a weapon angels (even fallen ones) consider monstrous. Belonging to the Angel of Death, someone killed by it doesn't have their soul sent to Heaven or Hell, but is simply obliterated from existence. In the hands of mortals it's even worse because it takes any reason that someone might want to hurt someone else, no matter how insignificant that reason might be, and amplifies it a thousand fold.
    Maze: So someone leave the toilet seat up...
    Lucifer: Trip to stabby town, yes.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider OOO centers around the Medals, nigh-invulnerable alchemical constructs that transform various types of human greed into energy and get more powerful the more you have. While dangerous enough on their own, the only weapon that works against them, the purple set of Core Medals, is even worse, as those are powered by the desire for nothing and will make an unwilling wielder go along with their wishes. The purple Cores are so dangerous that OOO ultimately leaves some of the other Medals intact, after destroying enough that their more dangerous uses are nullified, but shatters every single purple Core using their own power because even one is too dangerous to let exist.
    • Kamen Rider Build has the Pandora Box. It was found on Mars by astronauts and bought back to Earth, but when one of the astronauts at the unveiling ceremony activated it, it created giant walls that divided Japan into three parts, turned everyone present at the ceremony into power-hungry tyrants obsessed with opening the Box, and began emitting a cosmic gas that can be used to create super-soldiers. And that's when it doesn't work due to some of the parts being missing. When it does work, it consumes the whole planet in a massive black hole and feeds the resulting energy to its alien master.
  • In What We Do in the Shadows (2019) there is a hat made of witch skin which is extremely cursed and supposedly caused the Irish Potato Famine. The vampires Laszlo and Simon the Devious both desperately desire it because they think it's fashionable. It tends to be easy to take but hard to keep, as whoever currently has possession of it is afflicted with hideous misfortune. It doesn't act like an Artifact of Attraction for anyone else, they're just idiots.
  • Tidelands (Netflix): There is an ancient horn created by the sirens which has the capacity to inflict grave destruction. Adrielle and local gangster Grigori Stolin want it for different reasons, but Cal wants to make sure neither of them acquire it.

    Music 

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Ark of the Covenant from The Bible. More of a case of Holy Is Not Safe than a bringer of disaster, at least within authentic Judeo-Christian texts: anyone who touched the Ark without the proper ceremonies being observed would be instantly struck dead. This is why it is always depicted as being carried on staves. But, when used in accordance with God's commands, the Ark would cause good things to happen for Israel. In several cases where the Ark was captured by powers hostile to Israel, however, it is depicted as bringing disaster upon them (God apparently doesn't like it when His holy artifact is being kept as a trophy).
  • Classical Mythology: The Necklace of Harmonia, which was made by Hephaestus, for his wife Aphrodite's illegitimate daughter Harmonia. It allowed any woman that wore it to remain eternally young and beautiful, but was also cursed to bring disaster to its owners. It was worn by the queens and princesses of Thebes, most notably Jocasta, the wife/mother of Oedipus.
  • Norse Mythology: The ring of the dwarf Andvari in Prose Edda, from the tale of the Otter's Ransom. The ring had the power to increase gold, but when Loki robbed Andvari of the ring, he cursed it so it would cause the death of everyone that owned it. The further events suggest the curse of the ring is responsible for the death of Sigurd and the Niflungs.
  • The Ring of Gyges, a metaphor for corruption in Plato's The Republic. This ring merely turns the bearer invisible, as the One Ring had in The Hobbit, but Plato argued that the temptations the ring presents would ultimately corrupt anyone who chose to use it. Inevitably, theft, murder, and betrayal would follow, as these were the easiest and most obvious uses of the ring. Ultimately, the use of the ring proves so addictive that its bearer cannot part with it, and can think of nothing else but his jealousy of keeping it.
  • The Sword of Kullervo in The Kalevala, which in the end talks to Kullervo and is willing to help him committing suicide, enjoying drinking his guilty blood as well as it has drunk many an innocent blood.
  • In a Polish fairy tale, the fern flower will grant any wish, as long as it's only for yourself and you never share the benefits with anyone. If you are charitable even once, everything you wished for is taken back, and the flower disappears.

    Podcasts 
  • The Grand Relics in The Adventure Zone: Balance are a set of seven incredibly powerful magical items which cast a powerful thrall over anyone who picks them up. They encourage their new owners to use them, invariably with catastrophic results. The Bureau of Balance is trying to find and destroy them so that they can't do any more damage. As it turns out, it's more complicated than that. They were originally intended to protect the world, not destroy it, but that didn't really pan out...

    Radio 
  • Bleak Expectations: The Possessed Pen of Penrith, a pen supposedly imbibed with Satan's own inky blood. It allows whoever holds it to write a truly brilliant novel, at the minor cost of sending them insane and evil. Protagonist Pip Bin considers stealing it to shift a bad case of writer's block, only to find someone else had the idea first. Which is Harry Biscuit, who then injects the ink into himself to become fully evil.

    Roleplay 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The SHIMMER Singles Championship belt seems to have a habit of causing Face Heel Turns, either in pursuit of it (Madison Eagles), or once a wrestler becomes champion (Sara Del Rey, Cheerleader Melissa). The only Face to avoid turning heel the first twelve years was MsChif, who has a banshee gimmick. Eagles in particular sparked this line of thinking, as she seemed to have been driven crazy by the belt itself, defining herself by it before her first run had been ended by Melissa, who promptly turned heel herself. Though after those twelve yeas a face with no eldritch qualities managed to take the belt without turning. The Global Green Gangster Kellie Skater!
  • The Eye of Tyr, a cursed amulet that has factored heavily into CHIKARA history. The Eye allows its holder to control the mind of one person, but it must willingly be given away after use or it will bring misfortune. UltraMantis Black, who brought it into the promotion, refused to give it up after enslaving Delirious, leading to the formation of Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes. Even his attempt to free Delirious of its influence afterward backfired on him, eventually leading to the destruction of the Spectral Envoy.
  • The Money in the Bank briefcase in WWE. Regardless of who gets it, they almost always use it to cheat to gain the belt and become heels in the process. This was taken to its logical extreme during the Authority's reign of terror, when it was used three times to get a champion on their side.
    • Even when someone attempts to use it fairly, the case tends to find some other way to screw them over, usually by having someone interfere and get the match thrown out.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Crops up with depressing regularity in both Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. The Daemon weapons used by certain Chaos followers are somewhere between Artifact of Doom and Empathic Weapon.
    • Blackstone fortresses qualify. Unsurprisingly, the artifact in question is a spaceship.
    • On a slightly less grand scale than the Blackstone Fortresses, there are a number of brand new ones introduced in the Warhammer 40,000 RPGs from FFG: the Halo Devices. Mysterious, but probably non-human in origin, these things can make the bearer immortal, but you wind up unsane and inhuman. On the upside, that which does not kill you makes you stronger, and that which does kill you doesn't make you dead. You simply end up with a mind completely unlike any human, including the insane worshippers of the Chaos Gods, and a body that slowly mutates into a vaguely insectoid monstrous form. And it doesn't work if you are psychic, or a Chaos worshipper. And "killing" the bearer, just hurries it along. Needless to say, these are rare, highly illegal, and are worth more than star systems.
    • A particularly notable daemon blade is the Kinebrach Anathame, which directly lead to the Horus Heresy and creation of the Chaos Space Marines.
    • A daemon's True Name can qualify. Not a physical artifact in themselves, but they can be contained in such. They corrupt whatever container they're placed in, leading to insanity or death if that happens to be a person's mind, and are one of the only things that can reliably summon or banish greater daemons. Needless to say they are both highly coveted and jealously guarded, and have been the MacGuffin in numerous stories.
    • The Sword of Khaine (also an Evil Weapon) in Warhammer Fantasy was wielded by the Elven God of War Khaine. To drive back the first incursion of Chaos, the first Elven king picked up the sword, and after defeating the Big Bad but not destroying it, it gradually turned him evil causing a sundering between the Elf factions (one being led by his illegitimate son) and a civil war that continues to this day. The Dark Elves led by his son are still trying to reclaim the sword where it lies on its altar, which would give them to defeat the High Elves and possibly any further Chaos Incursions - it's possibly the most powerful weapon in Warhammer.
    • The Crown of Sorcery (more accurately called the Crown of Nagash) grants whoever puts it on tremendous magical powers, but also allows part of the spirit of Nagash the Supreme Necromancer to speak to them. It influenced the creation of at least one culture devoted to necromancy before it was locked away.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has tons:
    • The Hand and Eye of Vecna are the most notorious. One can give one's own eye and hand to use these artifacts, but you have to cut off your hand or gouge out your eye to use it, and With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. Oh yeah, and both of them will eventually result in you being absorbed into their original owner. These are also the only way to unmake the Sword of Kas mentioned below, via their property to let someone who possesses both the hand and eye cast wish once every 30 days.
    • And there's a story about the Head of Vecna, which is supposedly used in the same way, but doesn't actually do what the user expects. It does, however, do exactly what anyone with an ounce of sense expects. Even if it did work as advertised, it would still be a tremendously stupid idea to use it. His hand turns you evil, imagine what his brain would do.
    • Another Artifact of Doom associated with Vecna is the Sword of Kas, a weapon he made and gave to his second-in-command, Kas the Bloody Handed. Kas turned against him, and the resulting battle between the armies of the two evil beings killed both of them, leaving only the Sword and Vecna's Hand and Eye behind. Both were Not Quite Dead, of course; Vecna, as stated, became a demigod, while Kas became a very powerful vampire. The Sword of Kas is said to be a potent weapon for anyone who would oppose Vecna, but it is incredibly evil, and a hero who tries to use it for this purpose risks turning into a bloody, merciless warlord like Kas himself. The sword is also the only way to permanently destroy the hand and eye of Vecna.
    • The Demon Lord Orcus (the one who has a Trope named after him) owns one of the most dreaded artifacts in the game, the Wand of Orcus, which is actually a rod topped with a skull. (In the 4th Edition, the shaft is part of a vertebra.) Orcus rarely lets it out of his sight, but some sources say that he "lends" it to worshipers occasionally to spread evil and chaos. The Wand not only kills victims, it turns them into powerful undead monsters under Orcus' control. (Just which type depends on which edition of the game.) No-one can agree on just who the skull used to belong to; some claim it was a god of goodness and light who Orcus murdered, while others say it was a great mortal hero who challenged him and failed (though, if that is true, magic must have been used to enlarge it). Whatever the case, the goodness of the soul the skull once belonged to has been corrupted into blackest evil.
    • Evil-aligned artifacts in Dungeons & Dragons generally act like this; the Book of Vile Darkness Sourcebook lists some, and is named after a particular example.
    • The Book of Vile Darkness is, itself, a cursed artifact of sorts in Dungeons & Dragons. Originally penned by a race that seeks to kill deities, other evil wizards, including Vecna, contributed to it, and it is now a spellbook that contains some of the vilest magic known. The book can't be permanently destroyed As Long as There Is Evil, and even though pages can be torn out of it, the dark lore on these pages will eventually finds its way back into it, usually when another owner of the book stitches new pages into the book. If a Good-aligned cleric attempts to read it, they have to make a Constitution save or instantly die, and if they survive they have to make another save to avoid being driven permanently mad.
    • The 4th Edition took this to its logical extreme with the Heart of the Abyss; a shard of pure evil. Asmodeus stole a sliver off the shard, crafted it into a rod, and used it to kill the strongest of the gods. The Blood War fought between the devils and demons was spawned by this; Asmodeus wants the rest of the shard for himself, and the demons want the piece he stole back.
    • The Book of Keeping is not truly a cursed artifact, but still a dangerous one in the Dungeons & Dragons world. This book contains the information on summoning powerful yugoloths, the third group of fiends who round off the three Evil alignments alongside the devils and demons. The Book also contains the true names of several, if not all, yugoloths, granting their ensured servitude, with the sole exception of their leader, the General of Gehenna. No-one knows who wrote it — given that he would likely be the yugoloths' most hated enemy, he may no longer be alive. At least four copies of the Book exist, although some say as many as seven, and their owners tend to change frequently.
    • Notably, even some good artifacts are like this. It's not so much that they're overtly malicious, as opposed to either being unforgiving or intended for someone else. They don't necessarily mind being used for a bit, but be respectful. It is pretty much the rule for all major Artifacts throughout D&D that each of them must come with some curse or drawback. If it ain't cursed, it ain't an Artifact. This was stated explicitly in the 2nd Edition AD&D Book of Artifacts, and is implied elsewhere.
  • Iron Kingdoms: Madrak Ironhide's axe, Rathok. Its name even translates into "World Ender."
  • Exalted gives us The Broken-Winged Crane, the ultimate Tome of Eldritch Lore in the setting. Just reading it requires the unfortunate bastard in question to make a high-difficulty Willpower roll; if they fail, they pick up a form of insanity involving obsession over the tome and its contents. Its many-storied lore paints its various copies as imperfect reflections of the true tome that will come into existence at the dawn of a new dark age of Creation. In reality, the "true" copy is the book the Scarlet Empress wrote to try to wrest immortality from the Yozis. That did not go well.
    • The Third Edition supplement Arms of the Chosen contained examples such as the Forgotten Blade (a sword with powers to erase the memories of those struck by it, and ultimately erase people killed by it from the memories of others), Stormcaller (a katana containing a demon that causes a hurricane to start building every time it's unsheathed, and tries to instil a love of destruction in the wielder), Gorgon (a sword made from the prison of an Eldritch Abomination, that can turn people to stone and feeds on them), and Karvara, the Walking Devil Tower (a warstrider acting as the prison for a reality devouring Eldritch Abomination, that can erase people from existence by eating them, and takes control of its pilot when they Limit Break).
  • Every artifact in Houses of the Blooded. It's written into the rules: they can give you great power, but once a season, the Narrator can cause you to automatically fail a roll by saying "DOOOOOOOM!" A good Narrator will do this at the worst possible time.
  • KULT has rules for possessed or otherwise evil items. One example is a machine gun that, when picked up, causes the wielder to go on a murdeous rampage, shooting everything in sight, friend or foe.
  • Rifts has these things cropping up quite frequently:
    • Rune Weapons have a personality all of their own, some are not exactly good, and are often out to get you.
    • Angrar Robotics, seen in Rifts:Mercenaries, offer a powered armour and a giant robot which are actually demons, one for each crew member, forced to assume the shape of robot parts and sold to mercenaries. Slowly the crew takes on demonic qualities, and eventually the whole thing falls apart back into the shape of the demons, consuming the crews as the demons no longer need them.
    • One episode of the Rifter featured a series of items, one of which was claimed to be terribly powerful, and grant great power to the user, but this is unknown as it is lost on Rifts Earth after a series of events in which the holders of the item were quickly killed by various means before they could work out how to use it.
  • The Devils' Six-gun, from Deadlands:Reloaded. While introduced in a comic book which shows the process of its creation, stats are given in the back to allow its use in the RPG. The thing can cause an explosion if all six of its special rounds hit the same traget without a miss or reload, which is shown to be sufficient to bring the house down. If you use it even once, for good or evil, the fates no longer smile on you, and certain uses of Bennies are denied to you - the more commonly used ones.
  • 1001 Science Fiction Weapons for D20 has some of these, from the Benadanitto Torc and Black Gauntlet, which are legendary items with minds of their own and their own agendas, and aren't evil but will often convince, or even force, people to perform unsavoury acts in order to fulfil their goals and stop at nothing; through the Fulgichrome Blade, which is a living sword capable of infecting wounds to cause nasty effects and telepathically communicating with its wielder in order to subvert them and make them bloodthirsty killers, as it likes to see suffering; to the Morituri Staff, capable of self-repair and self-powering but no longer working as well as it should, and permanently draining 1 HP per day from the user, and the Xugulor, which attaches to the users arm, can only be removed surgically, and permanently drains 1 CON per 2d10 of damage it does. Also there are minor examples under other chapters, such as the whole chapter on radioactive weapons. Some of these are somewhat sophisticated, but not much better than the most basic, which is just a bar of radioactive material.
  • Pathfinder has the Relics of Kazavon, a set of seven powerful artifacts crafted from the remains of the dragon Kazavon. Bringing the seven relics together and resurrecting Kazavon is the goal of a religious group devoted to the god Zon-Kuthon, who had blessed the dragon and made him into His champion.
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill has Omens that include stat-boosting objects and powerful weapons but each time you find an Omen, the Haunt — a scenario in which the heroes have to fight something evil and one of them almost always becomes a traitor — has a chance to be triggered if you don't roll well enough and the chance increases with each new Omen you find. Its expansion Betrayal Legacy also has the Helm, which initially seems to be a benevolent artifact that gives you rerolls but turns out to be the thing keeping a God of Evil alive and filling it up completely opens portals to Hell.

    Theater 
  • Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung: The eponymous Ring, cursed by its maker to destroy all who possess or covet it. The curse comes with a truly ominous Leitmotif, which plays every time someone is killed because of it. Wagner, in loosely adapting the Norse Mythology example above, extended the symbolism of the lust for gold, relating it (in typical 19th c. fashion) to the "Wille zur Macht", the fundamental anti-social aspect of which he symbolized in the idea that the Ring could be made only by one who had renounced all natural affections.
  • In Sonic: Live in Sydney, prolonged exposure to the Chaos Emeralds made Robotnik sick of goodness and desire chaos, leading him to try and take over the world.

    Theme Parks 
  • There are a few in the attractions at Disney Theme Parks. A notable one is in the Indiana Jones sequence of The Great Movie Ride, where a real-life Cast Member plays the role of the poor fool who tries to take it.

    Visual Novels 
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! has The Portrait of Markov. It hints to the events of Project Libitina and is the first of several references to "The Third Eye".
  • The Fuyuki Holy Grail in Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero, after it became corrupted by granting a wish to create the source of "All The World's Evil".When it appears in the spinoffs, it's still bad news. In Fate/EXTRA, the Holy Grail War is even bloodier since there are at least 128 Masters, and There Can Only Be One. And that's not counting everyone who failed the preliminaries. And it's all orchestrated by an NPC who wants to use the Grail to sustain a Forever War. And in Fate/Grand Order, EIGHT of them end up scattered throughout time at various points in humanity's development in order to screw up the future.

    Webcomics 
  • The Book of E-Ville from Sluggy Freelance. Or at least that's how most of the characters treat it. While it contains more than one spell for summoning world-destroying demons, it has yet to actually do much of anything malevolent aside from following Gwynn around. Later gets a big upgrade. The book is the prison for K'z'k, a recurring Big Bad Omnicidal Maniac who wants to destroy all of reality and has done so numerous times. The book is a Clingy MacGuffin because it also contains the pharoah K'z'k was possessing when he was imprisoned, who thanks to the Timey-Wimey Ball is in love with Gwynn.
  • The motorcycle containing the soul of an Omnicidal Maniac, Evil Overlord unicorn named Sparklelord from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.
  • Goblins:
    • The Axe of Prissan is a Double Subversion: while Big-Ears initially senses a palpable aura of evil around it, and we initially see it in the hands of a monster, it's actually a Good weapon. The aura comes from the fact that it's a Restraining Bolt against a powerful demon, and it won't hurt a Paladin unless the Paladin wants it to. Except, the forces of Evil commissioned the weapon, knowing full well that over millennia it would wear out from the constant struggle between adventurers who are oblivious to the aura and paladins who either reclaim the weapon violently or see its Paladin wielders as Fallen Heroes. In Big Ears' hands, it's forced into situtions it could not handle (used against a Tautological Templar who has abused a loophole to keep his alignment Lawful Good, cracked by a half-demon who was never born in Hell) and is now spewing demonic corruption everywhere.
    • The Shield of Wonder is a straight example: it provides a random, usually very squicky, effect each time it blocks a weapon.
  • The statue of Eris in Discordia behaves like this (for the few scenes before it is destroyed) because it contains the Goddess of Strife within it.
  • The Omega Keys in Deviant Universe, which when used revive the Dark God Omega.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the Crimson Mantle qualifies. It's not clear that it has any direct control over the wearer, but it does give a divine command to enact a plan that could destroy all reality. It also halts the bearer's aging, which has the apparent side-effect of preventing he or she from maturing as well. Its current bearer is, in many ways, still the angry vengeful teenager he was when he first took up the Mantle.
  • Homestuck:
    • The Sburb Beta... sort of. It's never really clear whether it is the cause of anything or not.
    • Caliborn believes that the puppet Lil' Cal is a juju, an artifact whose sole purpose is to turn the lives of everyone who lives in the same universe with it into a nightmare. It's apparently so evil that one of the only times he gives sincere advice to the main characters is to tell them to get rid of it right now. Turns out he is the reason Lil' Cal is so dangerous, because Lil' Cal is destined to be his Soul Jar. He didn't know this at first, and when he does learn of it, he ceases being horrified by Lil' Cal and is instead proud of the suffering it brings.
  • The "Holiday Spirit" serves as this in the webcomic Holiday Wars and is deeply coveted by the Easter Bunny.
  • The swords Grace and Éclat from The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred.
  • In Impure Blood, the device — maybe. Caspian complains that no one knows what it does, and they are chiefly afraid of it because it comes from the Ancients.
  • In Endstone, the Banestone. The most powerful overstone, and it drives its rockers mad.
  • In Consequences of Choice The Invisus is a powerful stone entrusted to the class of Necromancers by the demigods of death.
  • Windows installation disks are treated this way in User Friendly. One was once microwaved (with the goal of creating the pretty effect created in the plastic by destroying a CD this way). It crashed the microwave. Piotr suggested putting an Elder Sign Seal on it and leaving it alone.
  • Sombra's broken horn in The Shadow Shard is believed to be one of these, which is why Twilight is asked to help destroy it. It is, but not for the reason the Ponies think.
  • Elf & Warrior: Gilly gets an enchanted axe that turns her into a mindless creature of destruction bent only on feeding the axe with blood. So not that different from how she was already, but now she talks less. Eventually Gillbert gets the axe, and explains the reason it rendered her mindless was because she wasn't killing enough. He is killing enough, and enters into a symbiotic relationship with the axe.

    Web Original 
  • In Hundred Companions we have Alister, a demonic executioner trapped in a sword for crimes hateful even to his fellow Chaotic Evil outsiders.
  • Collecting and containing these is the whole point of the fictional SCP Foundation. The SCP Foundation has dozens of these, given the classification "keter" from the Hebrew word "crown", which is used in Qabalah to describe the highest principle of the universe. The methods used to contain these things are... intricate. The "euclid" and "safe" ones are easier to contain but most of them are still incredibly dangerous.
    • Some of the artifacts aren't in any way evil or malevolent, but could end up destroying the world anyway, often very weirdly. Like by burying the whole world under cakes, or causing everyone in the world to ignore basic biological necessities in favor of arguing over some trivial subject.
    • Some of the creepiest artifacts are ones that are not, in themselves, in any way dangerous but allow access to things that are so obviously too dangerous to experiment with that they should be left sealed away but, given the SCP Foundation's nature, aren't being left alone. There are literally whole universes filled with things they should obviously leave alone but aren't.
    • There's even a set of loosely-interconnected drabbles about the many ways Safe-category SCPs could end humanity and/or the world. Like the peace-inducing doves.
  • Tech Infantry has the magical sword Kuar, which grants you invisibility and increasing magical power, then sucks out our soul. There is also The Orb, a mystical artifact of untold power which is sought by the Caal.
  • The Book of Stories in the eponymous The Book of Stories OCT is as old as time and holds every Story ever told in every World. It's on its way of becoming this due to a mistake one of its guardians made.
  • Pretty much anything created by the Drylon in Beyond the Impossible. Their technology is advanced enough to bend the rules of reality, but repeated use turns you insane. The effect is once described as “watering down your soul”.

    Web Videos 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: Linkara's Magic Gun is a subversion of this. The cultists who created intended it to be a a weapon powered by pure hate and agony, and used their own daughter to power it. But the weapon backfired, killed them, and the spirit inside the gun eventually became more benevolent and a partner of sorts to Linkara.
  • The Adventures of the League of S.T.E.A.M.: In the webisode "Curses!", the League have a cursed artifact appraised, in a curio shop run by Grant Imahara that apparently specializes in Artifacts of Doom. When our heroes realize what they have they keep passing it to each other, greatly confusing the Mummy that's sneaking up on them with hands outstretched.
  • In The Gamers Live, the Vorpal Blender of Mordor is this (and also a Shout-Out to the One Ring).
    Lodge: It's really powerful, and it's obviously evil, and you need to cast it back into the KitchenAid factory that made it.

    Western Animation 
  • The Key from Centaurworld can become an artifact of doom if its power is abused. Its main purpose is to power the portals between the human world and Centaurworld, but one of the things it can also be used for is fusing living things together to create monsters. Misusing it this way releases evil magical radiation that corrupts the user with repeated exposure. The being who became the Nowhere King used it this way in an attempt to create a family for himself because he didn't fit in in either the human world or Centaurworld. It turned him from a lonely pathetic creature into an Omnicidal Maniac Animalistic Abomination.
  • In Pirates of Dark Water, Dark Water itself can be hazardous to your health.
  • In the 90s' Spider-Man animated series, the Evil Feels Good factor of the alien costume was added, with him growing more dependent upon the suit the longer he used it.
  • In Wild C.A.T.s (1994), the series MacGuffin that the heroes and villains are in a desperate race to find, the Orb, is an artifact left behind by the Precursors on Earth that can give anyone power on a cosmic scale. It's also evil to the core, possibly more evil than the Big Bad himself. Guess the Precursors hid the thing on Earth for good reason.
  • Gargoyles:
    • The Eye of Odin isn't exactly evil, but it is incredibly dangerous to use because it enhances the dominant trait of the users' personality into what often amounts to a Superpowered Evil Side. Fox became a werewolf, and Goliath became a godlike Knight Templar. The only people who seem to be able to use the Eye safely are Odin himself and the Archmage, who is already a crazy Evil Sorcerer.
    • This stands in contrast to the Phoenix Gate, which is a subversion. Though many groups in the setting desire it as readily accessible time travel, it only allows the creation of a Stable Time Loop. Fans have inferred this to mean something else is controlling the gate and its users.
  • In one episode of The Real Ghostbusters, an Omnicidal Maniac summons a golden flute with the power to destroy the world.
  • A few Shen Gong Wu from Xiaolin Showdown probably qualified. One that definitely qualified was the Sapphire Dragon.
  • Spoofed to epic levels on The Venture Bros.. The ORB in is a small round device constructed by the greatest minds in history over hundreds of years, with the power to destroy the world. It is so feared that the Guild of Calamitous Intent, the OSI and the Venture Family each set up decades-spanning Batman Gambits to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. After all that fuss, it turns out that over 100 years ago, someone had the good sense to just break the stupid thing to keep it from causing trouble. Thus the century-long conflict over the ORB was a complete waste of time.
  • Aladdin: The Series:
    • The episode "Armored and Dangerous" has the invincible armor of Kileem, a powerful warlord who was undefeated in battle generations ago. The Sultan, who puts on the armor in order to stop a minotaur threatening Agrabah, becomes invulnerable and immensely strong, but is possessed by the spirit of Kileem, who turns out to be an inflammable tyrant and warmonger, who not only plans to conquer the Seven Deserts and later the world but condemns Jasmine to death for resisting him. Aladdin stops him by tricking him into destroying the statue that is the source of Kileem's power, releasing the Sultan from his control and saving Jasmine.
    • There's also Mozenrath's gauntlet. It amplifies Mozenrath's already prodigious control of magic and helps make him the most competent and dangerous villain in the show. It also steals his life force little by little (having already stripped both the life and flesh from Mozenrath's hand, with the implication that it will eventually do the same to the rest of him), and in some episodes Mozenrath is desperately trying to figure out a way to cheat death and keep the effects from killing him.
  • From Wakfu, the Eliacube is the most powerful artifact in the world, created as the acme of the magical science of the Eliatrope race. It acts as a very efficient Amplifier Artifact as long as it is feed with wakfu — the magic lifeforce found in all plants and beings. At first, you could think its great potential was simply misused by Nox, who's a madman, but the Start of Darkness episode "Noximilien" reveals that, 200 years before, the Eliacube already exercised a dangerous fascination over Nox, slowly turning him obsessed and insane. To further prove the point, it also drove his dog insane.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has the cursed Treasure of Crystal Cove (which holds a Sealed Evil in a Can) and the equally cursed Planespheric Disk that reveals its location.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • The second episode circles around an amulet with a bright green gem that causes the bearer to transform into the spirit of the Dragon of Aaragon when angry.
    • Later in the series, there's the Scepter of Dul-Aman. It gives the wielder (Tucker) neat powers, but it also causes him to become proud and imperious.
  • The two-part episode of Adventure Time where Finn and Jake went through Ice King's tapes revealed his crown to be one. It gives the wearer immense magical power and immortality... while simultaneously slowly driving them to utter madness and amnesia, aware of their mental degeneration the entire time. Notably, an Alternate Universe saw Finn suffering the same possession, minus the slowly part. This has led fans to come to the conclusion that Ice King/Simon must have had an amazing amount of self-control to last as long as he did. Even the final result of said Artifact of Doom's powers isn't nearly as bad as what could have happened in anyone else's hands.
  • In the animated Young Justice, the Helmet of Fate is this because of the much less equitable relationship between the spirit of the Lord of Order, Nabu, within and the wearer as compared to other versions. When someone puts on the Helmet of Fate, Nabu, the spirit in the helmet, takes over their body and becomes Doctor Fate. The wearer's mind become nothing more than a voice in Doctor Fate's head. The helmet can only be removed if Nabu wants it to. Since Nabu needs a body to keep order, the chances of him releasing the wearer from the helmet is slim. That wasn't so for Kid Flash and Aqualad when they donned the helmet in the episodes "Denial" and "Revelation" respectively. However, in the episode "Misplaced", John Zatara had to take his daughter Zatanna's place to free her, and has been his new body ever since. Nabu was kind enough, though, to relay Zatara's concerns about Zatanna joining the team.
  • A substance rather than an object, but otherwise, Dark Energon from Transformers: Prime, which is said to be the blood of Unicron, fits the bill perfectly. Turns dead Cybertronians into mindless berserker zombies. Powers up Megatron, but likely at a horrible cost to his sanity... He claims he can hear Unicron speaking to him, and it's entirely posible he isn't hallucinating, but it'd probably be more reassuring if he is. Can also be hazardous to your health just to be in contact with... Just ask Arcee or Raf, the first becomes dizzy and sick after contact with the stuff, while Megatron nearly kills the latter with it. If that isn't bad enough, Megatron forges himself a sword made out of the stuff that shatters the Star Saber. One final side effect is revealed during Predacons Rising. Anyone who dies with Dark Energon in their system is not allowed to enter the afterlife and can be possessed by Unicron as puppet.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, as a fantasy series, has a number of examples.
    • "Magic Duel": The Alicorn Amulet amplifies the user's magical powers to tremendous amounts, but also brings on paranoid megalomania and can only be removed by the user. By the end of the episode, The Great and Powerful Trixie is ranting about how she doesn't trust wheels.
    • "Inspiration Manifestation": The titular spell is inscribed on a stone tablet-like book covered in spikes, kept in a secret part of an ancient castle, on top of a pedestal the stairs leading up to which start to collapse if the book has been moved, guarded with a barred and locked gate. This should have been a hint. Sadly, Spike fails to take the hint and brings the book to an unwitting Rarity, who uses the spell and becomes a Mad Artist consumed by the desire to reshape the world according to her own creative whims and enough magical power to do so with little more than a thought.
    • "To Where and Back Again – Part 2": Chrysalis's throne. Thorax describes it as "carved from an ancient dark stone that soaks up outside magic the same way changelings soak up love." It generates an Anti-Magic field capable of depowering even Equestria's Physical Gods or Goddesses. Its influence also seems to make plant life whither, turning the area around the Changeling Hive into Mordor. Fittingly, its destruction is the go-to solution for all the problems faced by the heroes.
    • "Frenemies": Grogar's Bewitching Bell is an incredibly ancient yet powerful magic relic that, should one know the proper spells to activate it, can forcibly absorb magic from anything, store it safely within itself, and release it back to its original source or give it to someone else, making it both a Power Nullifier and Amplifier Artifact. Chrysalis, Tirek, and Cozy Glow make full use of it to become the final villains of the series. Even more noticeably, unlike the other mentioned examples it's Made of Indestructium, which is why the ancient hero Gusty the Great sealed it up inside a magic forcefield on a desolate mountain and why even after getting blasted by the biggest rainbow-beam-blast-of-the-magic-of-friendship in the whole show it's still intact.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: "Dodj or Daar" counts as one, as whatever punishment card you pull is made reality until the game finishes. This includes one player's arm doing whatever another's does, making you unable to walk on the ground due to it being 'lava', and most terrifying of all, making all the players physically unable to breathe. There's a reason Gumball and Darwin first hid the game under their bed, then threw it away.
  • Both versions of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe are full of these things, but likely the worst is the Star Seed from the original version. Supposedly created as an aftereffect of the creation of the universe, anyone holding this small, glowing sphere can do anything simply by requesting it. The problem is, nobody can hold such omnipotent power without being tempted by "its dark side" (as the Sorceress described it), and even He-Man almost succumbs to it when foiling Skeletor's attempt to claim it, though eventually, Heroic Willpower is enough to resist doing so.
  • The Adventures of Puss in Boots features the Scimitar, an evil talking sword that bends its user to its will and compels them to kill for it. It turns the heroic Thriffith completely evil, while Puss in Boots manages to subdue it with a little bit of struggle, and the (almost) Incorruptible Pure Pureness of Dulcinea allows her to wield it for an extended duration, but even she starts to become gradually more evil as time passes. El Moco, however, is evil enough that the sword doesn't need to control him entirely, because their beneficial goals put them on the same page.
  • In The Smurfs (1981) special "The Smurfic Games", Gargamel's cousin Argus gives Papa Smurf a powerful and dangerous magical item called the Medallion of Poseidon that he wants to see buried. Gargamel, hearing about the medallion from his cousin before he died, rescues the only book that didn't disappear with his cousin when he died and from it puts together all the items necessary to unleash its destructive power. Although Papa Smurf has buried the medallion and rendered its power inert, Brainy mistakenly unearths it and has Painter paint gold over it to present it as the Smurfic Games medal. As Clumsy is awarded with the medal which turns out to be the medallion, Gargamel recites the incantation that unleashes its destructive power ("Ravage the land as never before, total destruction from mountain to shore.") and thus the entire forest and village is rocked by a serious earthquake. Papa Smurf uses his magic to bury the medallion into the earth, thus stopping its destructive power from consuming everything.
  • The Inferna Copula from Trollhunters is a ring that houses the sorcerer/bounty-hunter Angor Rot's soul. Should another wear the ring, Angor's will is forced under the control of the one who wields it.
  • The Infinity Sword of The Super Hero Squad Show turns out to be this in Season 2, turning the person who holds it evil. Turns out one needs the Infinity Gauntlet armed with the six Infinity Gems to be able to hold the damn thing without it possessing you.
  • Again with the Infinity Stones in Avengers Assemble, the Stones actually have One Ring-like whispers (in your own voice) tempting you to use them.
  • The characters of Disney's TaleSpin ran into these with alarming frequency, as befit the adventurer nature of the series. The straightest example was probably the Idol of Doom, a small statuette that could cause calamities based on a specific couplet.
    Villain: Idol of Doom, Storm and Fire, Blast that plane higher and higher! ::Seaduck gets assaulted by fierce winds.::
    Baloo: Idol of Dook, Storm and Fire... Flatten that creep like a bicycle tire! ::Villain gets crushed under a cascade of rubble.::
  • Several artifacts of doom appear in Bunnicula.
    • One of the nastiest is a diamond that causes anybody who looks at it to become obsessed with keeping it all to themselves, so that people fight over it.. And if multiple people touch the diamond at the same time they all become fused together into a mass of Body Horror. The effects of the diamond can be reverse by shattering it, but it will repair itself after a short time.
    • Another one is the lucky locket, which is featured in a three episode trilogy. The locket shows visions of the future when it is opened, but the protagonists discover that this will lead to their doom because in the future some bad guys will steal the locket from them and use it against them and they can't simply prevent this future by destroying the locket to keep it from ever being stolen because no matter how badly they try to destroy it it always repairs itself.
  • Danger Mouse: Baron Greenback hires Count Duckula to find the Great Bone Idol, a vessel which holds the imprisoned bark of Cerberus. Whoever possesses it can control all the dogs in the world. DM and Penfold try to stop Duckula and they fail, but Team Rocket doesn't quite win—Duckula casually throws the bone back into its vessel after Cerberus' bark had been released, which causes him and Greenback to be overwhelmed with dogs with no way of stopping them.

 
Feedback

Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Artifacts Of Doom, Artefact Of Doom

Top

The Power Stone

An object of unfathomable power. Possessing enough raw energy to destroy planets, only beings of great strength can wield it for a limited time without just blowing up.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArtifactOfDoom

Media sources:

Report