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Bad Luck Charm

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There are items that are believed to give you good luck, then there's this, an item that is deemed to be unlucky, the complete opposite of a lucky charm. When this item is in the possession of one character, expect very bad things to happen, like slipping on a Banana Peel, getting stuck in a puddle of glue that's been spilled on the sidewalk, or a plane suddenly runs out of gas and plummets to the ground right behind or in front of you.

Essentially, this is an item that is deemed unlucky, either because of its strange markings or its demonic shape or a dark magic spell. If you ever find yourself in the possession of one of these things, watch out. Bad Luck Charms tend to be harder to lose or be rid of than Good Luck Charms, with many of them being Clingy MacGuffins.

Opposite of Good Luck Charm, obviously. Related to Cursed Item and Artifact of Death. For this trope in character form, see The Jinx.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Doomful Diamond from an episode of The Adventures of Mini-Goddess.
  • The Lupin III: Part II episode "A Wedding Ring is an Accursed Trap" has Lupin steal the notoriously cursed Hope Diamond to give to Fujiko as an engagement ring. Among the misadventures afterward: Lupin's car is completely destroyed, Fujiko becomes an old crone, and Zenigata suddenly becomes a much better shot when firing at Lupin's gang.
  • The pendant that Nagi's grandfather gives Hayate in Hayate the Combat Butler adds more trouble for Hayate. Knowing the old man, it was probably deliberate. First hinted at in the manga when Isumi exorcises some of the bad luck off the charm.
  • A manga chapter of Nagasarete Airantou featured a cursed broom that brought misfortune to all who tried to use it... until it wound up in possession of Ayane, who has such horrible luck anyway that she completely failed to notice its effects.
  • In Ojamajo Doremi, when Majo Ruka took over the Maho-Dou, she sold bad luck charms exclusively.
  • In One Piece, the Kitetsu class swords are extremely sharp but also cursed and eventually lead the wielder to his tomb. So far, Zoro is the only one who has carried such a dangerous sword without ill effects, as his luck is stronger than the sword's curse. Note, this is probably a Shout-Out to the Real Life Muramasa swords, which have a similar fame.

    Comic Books 
  • Iznogoud:
    • The title object in "The Unlucky Diamond" brings very bad luck (your chair collapses, the doorknob snaps off in your hand, roof tiles fall on you in the middle of the desert) to the holder; Iznogoud takes it from the beggar desperately trying to get rid of it, intending to present it as a gift to the caliph. Of course, it's a Clingy MacGuffin, and things only get worse.
    • In another episode he buys a lucky charm medal from a vendor who has suffered horribly mutilating bad luck streaks, claiming "only his medal could save him!" Thinking the vendor out of his mind, he buys one from him to give the caliph as a gift... not realizing that the medal does work exactly as advertised (the vendor got all his mutilations before he was given his medal) and the Caliph has already been wearing one for years!
  • Lucky Luke: in his childhood, Luke's guardian was an inveterate gambler whose lucky charm (a gold nugget) was stolen. Luke goes after the charm, and suddenly the gambler finds himself winning every game, coming close to owning the town prison... and then Luke returns, gives him the nugget, and all his luck evaporates, ending up Tarred And Feathered.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Hägar the Horrible strip, Hagar asks Lucky Eddie how he bought the lucky penny he is carrying so cheaply. "It has a curse on it," he replies.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Kangaroo Jack: Louis's red jacket is a zigzagged example. Louis views it as a Good Luck Charm, despite him and Charlie seemingly suffering nothing but misfortune when Louis is wearing it. Examples include getting caught with stolen property and the jacket (which contains $50000 they were ordered by Sal to deliver to Mr. Smith) winding up on a kangaroo. But then it is revealed that the money Charlie and Louis were supposed to deliver to Smith was payment for their execution on Sal's orders. Charlie has a complete turnaround regarding the jacket at the end, saying that if Louis hadn't put the money in the jacket and then put the jacket on the kangaroo, they would have delivered the money to Smith without incident and been killed by him as Sal wanted.

  • Crypt of the Sorcerer: While exploring the Howling Caves, you come across a rat-infested corpse of a dead adventurer, whose outstretched hand is holding onto a beetle-shaped ivory amulet. In a moment that borders on Schmuck Bait, the book then asks if you'd like to pry the amulet from the rotting corpse's dead hands. It turns out that is an Amulet of Misfortune which drains away a huge chunk of your Luck Stat — the previous owner died a few days after unearthing the amulet.

  • All The Light We Cannot See: The Sea of Flames diamond, the novel's Mineral MacGuffin. Played with, in that while the diamond is an Immortality Inducer—if you have it, you will never die—the diamond brings bad luck on other people, people you are associated with. People you care about.
  • The children's book The Bad Luck Penny. Leads to misfortunes like getting concussed by a baseball while sitting in the stands, and choking on your food.
  • In "Hawaiian UFO Aliens" by Mel Gilden, the aliens are searching for a part stolen from their ship. The part causes local changes in probability, leading to bad luck and much weirdness in its vicinity.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: In one of the Tarma and Kethry stories, the two wind up in possession of a small medallion, about the size of a coin, cursed to be one of these. The only way to get rid of it is to pass it to someone who doesn't know what it is, so they eventually set themselves up to be robbed by bandits, freeing them of the medallion and the associated bad luck.
  • Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book: In "The King's Ankus", the eponymous jeweled artifact looks like this to Mowgli, who doesn't understand that the reason men keep killing each other for it is simply greed.
  • Jack Vance's Lyonesse: The Green Pearl features the eponymous item which will turn anyone who owns it to evil, until somebody else murders them to possess it. At one point the chain is broken when the owner is rendered helpless by somebody who's only interested in punishing him, and the pearl is temporarily forgotten.
  • Starship Troopers: When going on his first deployment after the first half of OCS, the main character is offered a set of rank insignia that were used by a number of cadets who later flunked out for pure bad luck reasons. He grudgingly accepts them, which pleases the Commandant, who was the first to wear them and wants the "curse" broken.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Deconstructed in the 2 Broke Girls' episode "And the Pearl Necklace". Caroline and Max's debate over whether her pearl necklace or the loss of it was the cause of her misfortunes becomes a general discussion of whether luck exists.
  • A first season episode of Babylon 5 has a character nicknamed Jinxo, who is believed by many to be a walking Bad Luck Charm. He worked on the construction of all five Babylon stations. The first three stations were blown up in terrorist attacks, and the fourth vanished mysteriously. He refuses to leave Babylon Five because he thinks that if he does, something bad will happen to it. Another character tells Jinxo that he's got it backwards: he should be called "Lucky" because he managed to escape unharmed from four separate dangerous incidents. Jinxo says that he never thought about it that way before; the other guy comments that no one ever does.
  • The Brady Bunch episodes "Hawaii Bound", "Pass the Tabu" and "The Tiki Caves". Bobby finds an ancient tiki idol which appears to bring the family bad luck. The curse can only be lifted by leaving the idol in an old burial ground.
  • Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor provides the page quote, as he believes his tuxedo brings him bad luck. He's only worn it twice on screen, but the first time he nearly gets killed by a giant soul-sucking insect thing in "The Lazarus Experiment", and the second time he spends the whole episode fighting for his life on a crashing spaceship in "Voyage of the Damned". Then again, that's pretty much his life anyway, suit or no suit.
  • In Generation Kill the ironically-named candy, Charms, are seen as bad luck and are not allowed to be eaten within Team 1 Alpha's humvee.
    Corporal Josh Ray Person: Oh, no. Now not only do we have to worry about all the Charms you've eaten, but now Brad's just pissed off God.
  • "The Clover", in The Middle's third season, inverts the trope by having a four-leaf clover, usually considered to be a good luck charm, bring Brick nothing but bad luck.
  • The Munsters: Herman Munster has the misfortune to get a ring containing the Fregosi emerald stuck on his finger. Things go From Bad to Worse when he accidentally swallows the Nathanson Ruby.
  • The Our Miss Brooks episode "Four Leaf Clover" has Miss Brooks find the good luck charge. Lo and behold, all four tires of Miss Brooks' car blow, she's forced to pay a large fine for stepping on a lawn, she knocks over a table of trinkets in front of the store, is threatened with arrest by a policeman, and is finally quarantined in the same building as Mr. Conklin. Miss Brooks gives the unlucky clover to a dishonest car mechanic.
  • In an episode of Scrubs, J.D. buys a pair of the tiki idols used on those Brady Bunch episodes for him and Turk when everyone takes a trip to the Bahamas. Even though, in-universe, they're just a prop, they appear to bring bad luck to the two.
  • An episode from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine featured a drifting conman who stumbled across what appeared to be a handheld game-of-chance device (of unknown origin): press the button and one "wins" if the lights all blink and the music plays. He quickly realizes that "winning" seems to bring him incredible luck, which he parlays into building a gambling hall full of giant versions of the thing (by telling the replicator to just copy the original to a larger scale). The big devices begin affecting the entire station, not just the players, causing incredible streaks of bad and good luck. These start getting really extreme and randomly reversing, growing increasingly dangerous as the crew struggles to figure out what is going on.
  • The Supernatural episode "Bad Day at Black Rock" has the Winchester brothers find a Lucky Rabbit's Foot talisman that gives the holder good luck until it leaves their person, at which point their luck turns Necro Non Sequitur-inducingly bad. The only way to avoid certain death is to destroy the amulet in a specific ritual.
  • An episode of Baywatch: Hawaii had a subplot where the lifeguards rescue a photographer dealing with a string of bad luck. As it turns out, he took a bit of volcanic rock under the erroneous belief that it would bring him good luck and he ends up having to go from beach to beach to find where he got the rock to break his curse.


    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible: Whenever the The Ark of the Covenant ended up in the hands of rival nations, bad things happened to them. The curses usually ended when they gave it back.
  • Arthurian Legend: Sir Balyn removes a sword from a lady's scabbard. This sword ends up causing all kinds of horrible things to happen, eventually causing Balyn to kill his brother Balan in battle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dishonored Roleplaying Game: The Splintered Bone effect found on some corrupt bonecharms causes the bonecharm to twist its wearer's fate as a form of revenge for its poor craftsmanship, making complications more likely.
  • Various cursed items in Dungeons & Dragons have this effect, giving out penalties to various stats when used. Ones that fall under this in particular are the gauntlets of fumbling (50% chance every 6 seconds of dropping whatever is in your hands), Bracers of Defenselessness (effectively increasing your opponents' chances to hit you by 25%), and a Cloak of Resistance hit with Opposite Effect (a penalty to all of your saving throws). Most of these are a Clingy Macguffin to boot.

    Video Games 
  • The Romanov Emerald in The Riddle of Master Lu is said to be unlucky, and bad things do keep happening to people who carry it. (Don't send it as an exhibit to your museum back home. It won't help your business to prosper.) In the end, you give it to a minor villain, who promptly cuts off some of his toes with a misaimed spade and then suffers a Disney Villain Death when trying to cross a chasm.
  • The Gold Necklace from the Shadow Hearts games. The Flavor Text varies from entry to entry but all of them mention that its former owners all met with a terrible fate thanks to an ancient Egyptian curse. Gameplay-wise, the accessory doubles the frequency of random battles.
  • Of the Devil's Arms in Tales of Symphonia, the Nebilim, Disaster, Heart of Chaos, Soul Eater, and the Diablos all give you massive penalties in luck among other stats at the cost of having potentially unlimited attack stats. With names like that one really shouldn't expect anything else. However the Gates of Hell, oddly enough, boosts luck instead; given how unlucky Sheena's been in her life it might just be relative when she uses it.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: The ominous entity Mr. Ox hires you to plant a bad luck charm in a man's gym locker. The bad luck comes when the irate man sees you tampering with his gear and tries Mugging the Monster; if you avoid killing him, Mr. Ox is disappointed and doesn't pay you quite as much.
  • The Witcher 2: Melitele's Heart is an Ancient Artifact that has been cursed; instead of protecting the user, it just makes them unlucky. The poor idiot who has the artifact will die unless Geralt can convince him that charging into a battlefield without armor and an artifact that may or may not be cursed is sure to get him killed. If Geralt gives the amulet to an archwitch living a quiet life in the Khanduras, she'll offer to remove the curse or pay him for the artifact. Removing the curse grants you a regeneration amulet, invaluable between consecutive fights and attrition battles.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Kasandra's fox mask. When confronted with the notion that it may be cursed during a Heart-to-Heart with her Driver, Kasandra tells them there's no way that's true and is mainly surprised they didn't find it cute.

  • Mindmistress invented a colorful design good-luck charm that attaches to the back. This charm really works, but she couldn't stop it from switching into bad luck mode, which is colored in grays. It was stolen, and the thief got rich, famous, etc., but it turned gray. He didn't know what it meant, so he kept wearing it. Unfortunately he wore it for a month, increasing his bad luck to deadly levels.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Danger Mouse centers on The Bad Luck Eye of the Little Yellow God. And boy, is it unlucky!
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: "Sorry Wrong Ed" involves a mysterious unconnected phone that somehow rung. Eddy got his hands on it after Rolf discarded it and immediately got bad luck.
  • An episode of Garfield and Friends had Garfield receive the Klopman diamond from Jon's deceased cousin. Said diamond was said to be cursed, but Garfield doesn't believe it, despite all of the unusual disasters that befell him, until the end when he finally gives it to the lawyer who wanted the diamond in the first place.
  • The cursed emerald from the Jackie Chan Adventures St. Patrick's Day episode. When Jade gets it, she has two potentially fatal accidents in about a minute. When Jackie takes it off her, he immediately gets a phone call telling him he's bankrupt. They have to return it to its proper resting place in Ireland to break the curse — and just to make things more complicated, the curse only passes from person to person if the emerald is exchanged "willingly".
  • The Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Shoe" featured Experiment 113 a.k.a. "Shoe", who was essentially a living bad luck charm. Subverted later on that Shoe's bad luck could be switched over to good luck by simply lifting up the horseshoe-shaped projection on his head.
  • The Little Lulu Show episode, "The Curse Of The Thingamajig" had Lulu and Tubby find a mysterious object that they called a "Thingamajig". The Thingamajig gave them a lot of bad luck throughout the episode until it was discovered that it was actually the hood ornament on a guy's car.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Hawaiian Vacation", Candace finds a tiki charm that appears to give her bad luck and keeps coming back when she tries to get rid of it. She interprets a local's advice to be "throw it into the volcano", but it turns out that there is a restaurant on top of the mountain, and the charm is a "your table is ready" alert device. After having bad luck throughout the episode, she refuses her free dessert simply because it was something the charm brought her. She then continues to suffer bad luck without it, just like usual.
  • A short with The Pink Panther has Big Nose as a bank robber who finds a horseshoe, but it brings him bad luck. Every time he tries to get rid of it, the Panther returns it to him.
  • The animated Spirou & Fantasio has an episode where an already unlucky bad guy has to transport a full cargo of these for resale. Naturally, he crash-lands.
  • On Total Drama Island, Beth once took a voodoo idol from Bony Island despite Chris's warning that doing so would curse the perpetrator, and after the Screaming Gophers lost the challenge, it caused them to lose the two after it as well. Beth returned it and the Gophers won the next challenge, but it returned as part of a challenge in a later episode.
  • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race: After Josee loses her Lucky Rabbit's Foot, she finds a lava rock shaped like a trophy in Hawaii. However, after claiming the rock, she and Jacques start slipping in placements and become more accident-prone. This is resolved by taking a detour in the middle of the competition to return the rock to Hawaii before finishing the leg in Zimbabwe.
  • A short on the What A Cartoon! Show, "Awfully Lucky", has a sleazy guy trying to get an artifact known as the Paradox Pearl to a museum offering a huge reward for it. The pearl is cursed to give whoever owns it alternating extremely good and extremely bad luck. The guy ends up suffering all sorts of increasingly ludicrous calamities, and just barely living through them, trying to get the gem to the museum. By the end, he's been through enough catastrophes that he's needed literally half his body rebuilt from scratch, and he just gives up and throws the pearl away: Like its original owner warned him, "it ain't worth it".
  • An episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? has the gang in Greece, where Shaggy buys what he thinks is a lucky amulet that keeps monsters away, when in actuality, it is an emerald that attracts the Centaur that keeps chasing the gang.

    Real Life 
  • Legend has it that the Hope Diamond is a Real Life example of one of these, but for the current owner, The Smithsonian Institution, they like to remark that it's given them good luck ever since they got it; it's boosted attendance with people wanting to see it.
  • Some people feel that volcanic rocks stolen from Hawaii turn into these. More information from Snopes here. Also rocks from Iceland.
  • Another urban legend claims that the car in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo in August 1914 has doomed all of its subsequent owners.
  • Still another legend claims this about the James Dean car.
  • Supposedly, anyone who steals rocks from the Petrified Forest National Park is cursed with bad luck for as long as they have them, with the park receiving dozens of stolen rocks and "conscience letters" each year from parkgoers apologizing for the thefts and detailing the bad luck they've had to endure since stealing them.
  • A persistent legend in the 19th Century told that the treasure from King Tutankhamun's tomb was cursed, because several workers died during the dig and shortly after the dig concluded so did Lord Canarvon: the person who paid for the dig. However, the man who actually led the dig lived a long time afterwards: as did Lady Canarvon, and several of the other dig workers. Dysentery and cholera were unfortunately very common on archaeological digs at the time, and in the hot desert sun even the slightest dehydration could be death sentence. Lord Canarvon died of malaria from a mosquito bite he got in Cairo weeks after visiting the dig. None of the museums that exhibited King Tutankhamun's mummy or any of the objects from the dig experienced any serious problems. Nevertheless, this persistent legend inspired many movies in the early days of Hollywood. Not perhaps least because even from the very beginning plenty of people felt uncomfortable exhibiting the body and grave goods of a barely adult man (not to mention his younger sister Ankhenasenamun).


Video Example(s):


The Grool

The Grool is an evil sponge monster that brings bad luck to whomever finds it.

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