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"Upon all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of Doom, and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair. Wherever they go, evil shall arise. Whenever they speak, their words shall bring ill counsel. Whatsoever they do shall turn against them. They shall die without hope, cursing both life and death."

Curses are a very old trope. Very old, as in Ancient Egypt old. They served as warnings to listeners against defying morality or doing the taboo, for fear of angering the gods and incurring some terrible punishment. What might bring down a curse? It depends entirely on the story. Eating Forbidden Fruit, crossing that bridge after midnight, speaking out of Pride or even unkindness to strangers can trigger a curse.

The curser might be a petty god, a witch, or even a normal person driven to great anger. Words and Language have power, especially spoken from the heart. Doubly so if the heart is filled with bitter rage. Triply so if the person is dying. But even in ordinary circumstances, Be Careful What You Say, or you may well cast a curse on a loved one. For that matter, if you make The Promise and say, "May [curse] fall on me if I fail!" you can curse yourself. Or the curse might not be cast by anyone at all, it may well be a 'maliceless' effect of breaking some taboo. And there's no guarantee that the cursed person is the offender; a Hereditary Curse may steadily descend through a family.

A curse may be Laser-Guided Karma, in which case it will fit the crime like a glove. Otherwise — and sometimes even when it is Laser-Guided Karma — curses are the very darkest of Black Magic.

The effect of the curse on a character and story is that of a potent driving force. Getting rid of it can drive a character to do great and terrible things. Enduring one can add drama and complicate a hero's life. Resolving it is cause for a satisfying resolution. Whatever the case, curses aren't minor things.

Curses can come in all shapes and sizes. Common curses include:

Curses can also be put on inanimate objects, such as swords, and places, both houses and lands. Places tend to turn to Mordor under curses, or at least smell bad, and both places and objects inflict bad things on the people about, or owning, them.

Curses can be cut short by:

For some reason, a curse that turns you into a member of the opposite sex is particularly hard to break, doubly so if you were a man.

It isn't awesome and was not meant as a blessing, this is a wicked spell intended to harm or even kill the cursed character. A common variant is the Gypsy Curse. The Production Curse is this applied to the people involved in developing a product. Contrast the Protective Charm, which can block or lessen curses. See also One Curse Limit, in which a victim can only suffer a single curse at one time. See also Curse That Cures, when a character seeks out a curse because it will cure them of a sickness or injury as a side effect, or Geas, which is a curse that someone must constantly do on their own, or else die. See also Prayer of Malice, where someone petitions a generally benevolent deity to curse someone instead.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: Guts and Casca have the Brand of Sacrifice as a result of Griffith's betrayal during the Eclipse, which acts as a magnet for ravening demons that want to eat them alive, causes them pain when the monsters draw near and generally makes their lives a living Hell. Arguably, just living in Midland itself qualifies as a living curse.
  • Black Clover has Curse Magic, which adds effects to spells that are harmful to enemies. Gordon Agrippa is an expert at hexes and comes from an infamous lineage of Curse Mages. The devil Megicula, and its host Vanica, has Curse-Warding Magic, which casts powerful curses that manifest as marks on others. The curses can deteriorate someone's body to eventual death, resurrect a person, and corrupt magic arrays, and can only be stopped by defeating the caster.
  • In Bloody Cross, half bloods are all cursed to die when they turn 18 unless they drink a pure demon's blood or find a God's inheritance strong enough to remove the curse.
  • Discussed several times in Case Closed. Since it's set in a country with a rich mythology but the series itself is practically devoid of any actual magic, whenever a supposed "curse" takes place and causes deaths as a result, it's always a murder committed by a Genre Savvy human who takes advantage of said mythology to stage said kills.
  • Denjin N: The murders are initially believed to be as supernaturally odd series of accidental deaths by the public and Misaki and somewhat of an Urban Legend before Tadahiro outs himself in public.
  • Fairy Tail: The basis of Zeref's and Mavis's death magic is the result of a curse by the god of life and death, Ankhseram. Also known as the curse of contradictions, as long as the recipient values life, everything around them dies. Discarding the value of life allows them to control the magic, however, because they place no value in life, they're probably going to kill people anyway. Other symptoms of the curse include constantly contradicting one's thoughts, causing abrupt mood swings, and Complete Immortality. What it boils down to is that the cursed is never allowed to be happy. When Zeref and Mavis fell in love with each other, Zeref found reason to live again despite already discarding the value of life, and found happiness because of the curse. This was the ultimate contradiction, and empowered his curse enough to bypass the immortality granted by her curse and kill her.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler: Athena, Mikado and Himegami have been placed under a curse for trying to steal the power of god. Exactly what these curses are hasn't been stated yet. Part of Athena's was to be stuck in the Royal Garden for eternity, though at least that part of the curse is no longer valid. And it's after this has been cleared that she talks about being cursed, so we know that's not all there is to it.
  • In Inuyasha, Miroku's family was cursed by Naraku with the Wind Tunnel: a black hole in the palm of the right hand that's passed down through each generation. The Wind Tunnel absorbs everything in front of it unless sealed by enchanted prayer beads, and it's constantly expanding which culminates in it being strong enough to break the seal and consume its bearer and all that surrounds him, just like it has already done with Miroku's father and grandfather. The only way for Miroku to free himself and his descendants from this fate is to kill Naraku. It almost, almost fails since the Tunnel not only gets bigger but brings other horrible effects to Miroku's body, but when Inuyasha and Kagome manage to definitely defeat Naraku, the Tunnel disappears and he's saved. The children that he and Sango have some time later are completely free of any effects.
  • Made in Abyss has the "Curse of the Abyss", a phenomenon that causes adverse effects to those attempting to reach the surface after travelling into the Abyss. The further into the Abyss one travels, the greater the physical toll when resurfacing. Symptoms of the curse include (in order of ascending severity) dizzyness, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, intense pain/numbness, severe hemorrhaging, increasing likelihood of self-injurious behavior, death, and loss of humanity.
  • Fafnir from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid has a passion for studying curses, even placing instructions for how to perform them in the doujinshi he writes. That said, he hasn't actually cursed anyone during the course of the series.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Ranma Saotome fell into a cursed spring where a young girl drowned — as a result, whenever he is splashed with cold water he will turn into a girl. This is where most of the plot complications and comedy stem from. If he is splashed with hot water, he changes back.
    • Several other characters apparently fell into magical springs where something drowned in it, and suffer Involuntary Shapeshifting themselves.
    • Besides Ranma's curse there are several other curses as well as cursed objects. Such as the other cursed springs, the curse that a ghost placed on Happōsai to get him to steal her panties, the cursed paintings, and more.
  • From the "Dead Moon Circus" arc of Sailor Moon, Queen Nehellenia, an homage to fairy tale villains like "The Evil Queen" or "The Wicked Godmother", makes an unwelcome audience to Princess Serenity's christening. Queen Serenity banishes her back to the dark side of the moon, but before leaving, Nehellenia declares before the entirety of the Silver Millennium, the Princess will never inherit her Mother's throne. Years later the Moon Kingdom is destroyed in an attack by Metalia and the Dark Kingdom.
  • In Tales of Wedding Rings, the Abyss King lays a curse upon Satou during their first battle. This curse takes the form of a black mark on his chest which gradually expands, threatening to kill Satou, mutate him into a monster, or something worse. Fortunately, the power of Krystal's Ring of Light can suppress the curse's spread.
  • In Uzumaki, the town of Kurôzu-cho, Japan is cursed by the horrifying Spiral, causing terrible things to befall citizens of the town, like people forcibly contorting themselves into Spiral shapes (dying in the process), or hair curling into spirals on young girls heads and causing hypnotic effects on their peers, and even making lighthouses emit such powerful beams of light that it burns up people who get to close to it. The Curse causes people in the town to slowly loose their minds just THINKING about the shape.
  • Vampire Knight: Apparently, when a vampire huntress becomes pregnant with twins, a curse will leave one of the fetuses to devour the other, naming it the "twin curse". So far, Zero and Ichiru are said to be the only case in which this didn't happen, due to Zero having been "softhearted before he was even born."
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the protagonist, Yugi, solves an ancient puzzle which houses the spirit of a 5000 year old Pharaoh, and according to both the Dub and the original Japanese version, he is supposedly 'cursed'. It's a rather beneficial curse, though, as he gains an alter ego voiced by Dan Green and becomes an expert in all kinds of games, even beating the world champion in a card game the first time they play against each other. And it comes in handy during the "Waking The Dragons" Arc, where the Seal of Orichalcos, a regular card, seals the loser's soul. If having an extra soul was ever an advantage, this would be the time.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: In the ancient past, the Kannah claim of Kaldheim was cursed to forever remain trapped in the Adelgard. Ever after, Kannah expeditions who try to leave the forest are hounded by ferocious winter conditions that eventually force them to turn back.

    Comic Books 
  • In Castle Waiting, indirectly, the curse on Sleeping Beauty cause their problem: once it was broken, she left at once, and now the castle is waiting for royalty to return.
  • Red Sonja is cursed by the dying breath of an evil wizard to be unable to forgive in The Forgiving Of Monsters. His plan is that she'll attack ruthlessly for minor slights, forcing her allies to either kill or exile her.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In "The Curse of Montezuma" there is a flashback to the cruel greedy Conquistador's ship being sunken by a curse hundreds of years ago. The treasure within the sunken ship is recovered by Diana for the descendants of those who had it stolen from them.

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Works 
  • Occurs in The Lion King Adventures story The Curse of Death. The Hermit of Hekima places a curse on Simba, where he will die in three days if he doesn't change his neglectful ways.
  • With Strings Attached: C'hou is riddled with curses, which seem to be easy to cast.
    • Lyndess was cursed by the Dalns gods to remain on Ketafa until she figures out how to cross the ocean without using any sort of vessel (ships sink under her, it's too far to swim, etc.). Another thing that will break the curse is if she apologizes to the god who cursed her, but she can't, because...
    • Ketafa itself is under a curse: the gods cannot see anything on the continent. Although in reality, the gods are just ignoring the continent, but no-one knows this.
    • As'taris is cursed to return to his house every evening until Brox returns or he dies. (Brox did this to ensure that As would not go skylarking off after rumors of monsters.) Also, he's cursed not to initiate combat with anyone. He often tries to get people to fight him, but no one will. After he's accidentally killed when Paul explodes, he runs off (with a very annoyed Grunnel in tow to keep him from disappearing) to surprise Brox at the Wizards University. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, the Pyar gods are (usually) cursed with the inability to communicate except in roundabout fashion with sayings, poems, and riddles.
    • Which turns out to be the Last Wizard's curse, and some of the “Gods Chat” and other elements of the Con Fusion are her attempt to guide the four into removing her curse.
      • A minor example is the cursed dying baby that the four have to save by finding the countercurse in a nearby crumbling citadel.
  • In the Total Drama story, Courtney and the Violin of Despair, a curse on the titular violin is the root cause of Courtney's string of misfortunes.
  • God Slaying Blade Works has Shirou inherit "Curses Without End" as his first Authority on slaying Angra Mainyu. With it he can generate curses of varying types, from misfortune to death, and even create monsters from curses. He also discovers that infusing a curse into a sword allows it to act as a conduit for that curse, allowing him to partially bypass an enemy's magic resistance.
  • The Writing on the Wall has Daring Do dismiss the eponymous writing as a curse meant to scare away tomb robbers from the ancient building. It is an entirely reasonable conclusion for an Adventurer Archaeologist to make, but unfortunately she is being Wrong Genre Savvy - the curse is a genuine warning of the danger of what the building was meant to contain: nuclear waste.
  • Son of the Western Sea has Percy Jackson putting one on Chrysaor's crew of dolphin-men, which prevents them from ever stepping foot on a ship again. Considering they have been pirates for thousands of years, it's a far worse punishment that it sounds. It also hints at Percy's status as an emerging god.
  • The MLP Loops:
    • When Leah Clearwater loops into Equestria, Fluttershy identifies her werewolf "gift" as a couple of curses made by an idiot who had no idea how wolves actually worked. On top of that, the curses aren't functioning properly on Leah because she's female. Fluttershy helps her sort everything out, turning her into a more normal shapeshifter.
    • In one loop, the changelings are simply ponies under a curse. Chrysalis, the changeling queen, is pissed when she Awakens and discovers that her entire species has been reduced to "victims" who can be "cured." Worse, the cure is True Love... and since Awake Chrysalis is in love with Trixie, the second she Awakens every changeling is instantly cured due to her Hive Queen status. And the cherry on top is that when Chrysalis goes to complain about all this to Trixie, she discovers that Trixie isn't Awake, so she has no idea what Chrysalis is talking about.
  • Outcast: In this Hetalia: Axis Powers High School AU Sweden is rumored to be cursed, and all the students at St. Hetalia Academy for Boys avoid him. Denmark is the one to tell transfer student Finland that Sweden's parents died in a house fire, his childhood sweetheart drowned while they were out on a picnic, and his roommate (the last Finland to attend the academy) committed suicide. Sweden is actually the unwitting host of a malevolent spirit called "Ancient Scandinavia", who takes control of Sweden's body to attack anyone who gets too close to the boy. All the "mysterious deaths" were murders committed by Ancient Scandinavia.
  • Curses in the Dangerverse are a subclass of magic with certain specific rules and properties.
    • The most distinguishing feature of curses is that they are pseudo-intelligent, able to react to circumstances to a limited degree. This is key to most of their other unique properties.
    • When crafting a curse, the curser must designate a set of individuals that it can affect, this could be anything from "people bitten by those already under this curse" to "descendants of this individual" to "male pureblood wizards age 13". Once the curse comes into contact with someone who meets these criteria, it latches onto them and takes effect.
    • A curse cannot be removed by normal counter-magic, and does not wear off the first person it affects (unless it was programmed to do so).
    • A non-lethal curse can be removed by transferring it to someone else who meets the original criteria. The original victim will be cured almost instantly, and the curse will wear off the substitute victim over time.
    • A lethal curse cannot be transferred, but it can be turned with a willing sacrifice, causing it to rebound on the original caster.
  • Metro: In "Metro 1: Chewing Through The Straps (Part 2)", they're mentioned as something that could've been placed on Kew, but hasn't been.
  • Monstrous Compendium Online:
    • Early on, the biggest threat the players face is lycanthropy. It takes them a long time to even confirm it can be cured, and longer still before they can do so reliably. Technically, it's two separate afflictions; one attacks the body (and once you get used to it is basically just a cool shapeshifting power), while the other attacks the soul (turning you into a ravening monster).
    • The entire SAO deathgame is a curse ritual building up to forcing the players into Eberron to fight for the real Aincrad. It's pointed out that even for an ancient dragon, cursing twenty thousand people takes a lot of power, which is why the game is fair. Beniryuu had to use every trick to lower the cost of the curse.
  • Vow of Nudity: Because of her changeling powers (and her late parents' criminal history), the city magistrate orders Spectra to wear a cursed necklace of forced nudity, assuming that she'd start committing crimes like her parents had if allowed to live with her powers hidden.
  • Better Bones AU: Brokenstar is the living embodiment of the fifth oak tree at the current Fortress, a curse created by the suffering of SkyClan to punish the Clans. Unlike in canon, this is followed up with him taking a major part in restoring and protecting SkyClan after his death.
    • Spottedleaf curses Tigerstar with his last life to have a short and bloody reign, which Tigerstar accepts despite knowing her hostility to him because he wants the extra power so badly.

    Films — Animation 
  • Sophie in Howl's Moving Castle, cursed to be an old woman and be unable to tell anyone her plight. It appears that her remembering that she is cursed is a key in the curse maintaining its effects. That, or her self-esteem issues. Whenever she appears more confident, she grows younger. When she goes back to being shy, she ages up. The book the film is adapted from features the same curse, which Howl attempts to secretly break on his own but discovers Sophie is unconsciously retaining on herself. Later, her concern for an injured Howl overcomes her shyness and the curse finally lifts.
  • Brave: Merida accidentally unleashes a bear-y beastly curse, by turning her mother and brothers into black bears. She learns from the Witch, that she must "mend the bond, torn by pride," before the second sunrise. It didn't simply have to be mending a family tapestry, as Merida thought, just The Power of Love in order to undo the curse.
  • Frozen: Anna is cursed (accidentally) by Elsa, while revealing to her sister a different curse (the Endless Winter) she'd brought about, by having a piece of ice put into her heart, which will slowly and painfully freeze her into an ice statue from the inside out. In both cases, it's The Power of Love that undoes the curse, but in Anna's case, it does not come from True Love's Kiss, but from defending her sister from the evil prince she thought she loved.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Penelope (2006) has the titular Penelope receive a hundred-plus-year-old curse on her family that their first born daughter would be ugly until she were accepted by "one of her own." This is why her parents went about trying to get her married, but it turns out the curse can be interpreted as "when she accepts herself." As soon as she becomes okay with the idea that she's going to be ugly forever, and it's not a cause for angst, does the curse lift.
  • Drag Me to Hell has the protagonist be cursed by a gypsy woman to be terrorized by a Lamia for three nights before being bodily Dragged Off to Hell. All for denying her a third loan extension on her house.
  • The antagonists in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl are cursed to be undead as long as Aztec gold they stole remains scattered.
  • Ladyhawke has two lovers, Etienne Navarre and Isabeau de Anjou, who are kept apart by a demonic curse laid by the corrupt and jealous Bishop of Aquila, who wanted Isabeau for himself. By day, Isabeau becomes a hawk, and by night, Etienne becomes a wolf. The only time they can both see each other in human form is at dusk and dawn of each day for one fleeting moment, but they can never touch. The two break the curse by surviving until the "day without a night and a night without a day" (a solar eclipse) and standing together before the Bishop in human form.
  • The entire plot of Ella Enchanted is driven by a curse placed on Ella as a child that makes her unable to ignore orders. Usually she gets around it by finding loopholes in the orders she's given, but this becomes hazardous when Prince Charmont falls in love with her and they begin to become entangled. Ella is rightfully concerned that because of her condition, she could be ordered into hurting him (and Sir Edgar does exactly this in an attempt to off Char and grab the kingdom for himself). The curse is resolved after she sees her image in a mirror and orders herself to no longer be obedient.
  • Dr. Terror's House of Horrors: In the "Voodoo" segment, Biff Bailey is cursed when he writes down the sacred music he hears being played during a voodoo ceremony. The curse strikes when he attempts to use the music for personal profit.
  • Twice-Told Tales: In "The House of Seven Gables", Hannah tells Alice about the curse put upon Pyncheon men by Matthew Moll (Maulle), who used to own the house but lost it in a shady deal to the Pyncheon family. The curse states that every male Pyncheon will die in the house with blood on his lips.
  • Fear Street: When Sarah Fier was hanged for witchcraft, she laid a curse on Shadyside so that once a generation, her spirit is able to possess a person and drive them to go on a killing spree before dying themselves. Also, anyone who disturbs Sarah's bones will be marked for death and hunted by the reanimated ghouls of the past possession victims. In actuality, Sarah was innocent — she was framed for witchcraft by Solomon Goode to cover up his own Deal with the Devil, wherein he and his descendants use magic to enact the possessed killings as a sacrifice to Satan in exchange for prosperity. The ghouls, meanwhile, target the people who touch Sarah's bones because doing so grants visions of what really happened to Sarah, and can expose the deal.
  • Karate a Muerte en Torremolinos: As Jess failed to share all of his hashish with Miyagi, Miyagi curses Jess with an illness that causes non-stop itching all over his body, and that can only be healed by him having sex - even if he has made a chastity vow until he's 24. The curse is done by Miyagi grabbing his own snot and throwing it to Jess's mouth.
  • In The Curse of Sleeping Beauty, the males of the Kaiser family are under a curse dates back to the Crusades when a djinn put Rose in an eternal sleep. The group deduces that Iblis wants her and they must kill the Veiled Demon and awaken Rose.

  • Ash (2012): Fourteenth century Laird Duncan McKinnon, subjected with his family by rival clansmen to brutally vicious provocation, is said to have called upon the fires of Hell to consume Comraich Castle. The castle's expensive shelter of well-connected miscreants results in one of its employees setting off several bombs in it, so... who knows?
  • The page quote comes from Tolkien's Legendarium, specifically, The Children of Húrin, an expanded version of a chapter from The Silmarillion. After the Nírnaeth Arnoediad (Battle of Unnumbered Tears), Morgoth captures Húrin and tortures him into revealing the location of the fabled Elven city of Gondolin. When he refuses, the Dark Lord curses him by decreeing that his family will lead a life of suffering until the very end, while Húrin, helplessly chained atop Thangorodrim, can only watch. Húrin is released after watching his wife and children die one after another, and, wrought with grief, he eventually throws himself into the sea, but not before unwittingly revealing the location of Gondolin to Morgoth's spies, thus fulfilling the curse and making his defiance all the more pointless.
  • Dark Angel (1996): Under Angel's guidance, Gillian puts two rather effective curses on Tanya and Kim after finding out she's a witch, to stop their intended revenge plot against her and David – she gives Kim strep throat to prevent her from talking and gives Tanya what she thinks is bad rash on her arm to stop her from writing or typing. The curses are a little too effective in fact and she's horrified when she realizes how much damage she did (if left untreated, strep throat can cause serious complications, and given the cause is supernatural it's unclear if Kim would respond to medication, while it's revealed Angel tricked Gillian into giving Tanya flesh-eating bacteria that lands her in hospital.
  • In Dragon Bones, the Hurog family has a family curse. Or two, depending on how you look at it. The local Friendly Ghost and magically bound slave Oreg cursed house Hurog because an ancestor of the protagonist had killed a dragon. However, the black magic that turned Oreg into the Genius Loci of castle Hurog wasn't healthy for the place either. The inhabitants tend to have short lifespans or go crazy, or both, something which is not referenced in the curse. (It's unclear whether it is even a curse, or rather a prophecy.)
  • In The Dresden Files, curses are various forms of nasty magic. Particularly dreadful is the "death curse," a wizard's last spell, Cast from Hit Points. Examples include:
    • Harry is under a death curse to die alone. Since he lives in the populous city of Chicago, this curse might have inadvertently made Harry very hard to kill.
    • In Blood Rites, it's revealed that Harry's mother's could not directly curse her killer, a powerful vampire, so she instead cursed him so he could not feed.
    • There's also the entropy curse, a magical working that causes luck to turn hideously against the target. Harry has seen entropy curses that are well put-together (causing falling masonry and snapped power lines to fall on the target) and... not so much (resulting in a target being hit by a car... while water-skiing, or crushed by a frozen turkey falling from an airplane).
    • The bloodline curse in Changes, which is meant to kill everyone related to the target of the curse, no matter how distant the connection. Originally intended for Harry's daughter so that he — and conveniently his grandfather Ebenezar McCoy a.k.a. the Blackstaff as well — would die by proxy, he turns it on the entire Red Court, wiping out one of the major players in the supernatural world in one fell swoop.
    • Fool Moon has the curse on Harley MacFinn's family line, which caused him to turn into a rampaging super-werewolf during the full moon. Said curse was supposedly laid by St. Patrick, though the source of that information (a demon) is questionable.
    • One short story in the series has Dresden investigating the Chicago Cubs' famous Curse of the Billy Goat (see "Sports" below, under "Baseball"). He discovers that it wasn't the goat's owner who actually cursed the team, but the goat. Which was really a disguised wildfae who took the complaints about its smell personally.
  • In Tigana, the entire country of Tigana and all its inhabitants are cursed.
  • Patricia A. McKillip:
  • Many appear in Xanth. Cursefiends have this as their power, and the Furies use it on anyone who is not (in their eyes) a dutiful enough child. Which means everyone.
  • In Witch World, That Which Runs The Ridges turns out to be under a curse.
  • In Harry Potter, a "curse" appears to include any spell with a malevolent effect, particularly charms.
    • The Unforgivable Curses: the Cruciatus Curse (Crucio), used for torture; the Imperius Curse (Imperio), used for mind-control; and the Killing Curse (Avada Kedavra), which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Unicorn blood will save you from dying "even if you are an inch from death", but you will live a "half-life" from the moment you drink it.
    • If a person continues to divide their soul, they lose their humanity, their skin turns grey, their eyes become like those of snakes as do their nose, their voice becomes terrifyingly scratchy and inhuman, they will and eventually suffer a Fate Worse than Death.
    • There are also curses that work in more traditional ways, e.g., jinxing the Defense Against The Dark Arts teaching position so that anyone who takes the job will never last longer than a year.
    • Objects can also be cursed. Touching one such object gets Dumbledore killed but Snape was able to contain the curse to his hand to buy him some more time.
  • The second Celydonn trilogy revolves about the curse on a land, and breaking it.
  • The plot of the World of the Five Gods novel The Curse of Chalion is driven by a curse of corrupted virtues and ill luck on the country's ruling line.
  • In the Earthsea novel The Tombs of Atuan, Arha curses another priestess. Unusually, there is no reason to believe that the curse has any actual effect.
  • Hero Series: In Heroes Adrift, the troupe Lee and Taro travel with is cursed to not be able to stay in one place for more than a few nights. If they do, someone dies.
  • Discworld:
    • In Equal Rites, Granny Weatherwax assures Esk that she will curse under the right conditions, such as when people ain't showing respect. Often "curse" means that you tell someone you've cursed them and the next time something bad happens to them, they think "That was because I didn't show respect to the witch." Granny Weatherwax has been known to actually curse people, just in less traditional ways. For example, instead of turning someone into a frog just making them think that they are a frog. It's much easier and more fun too.
    • Later witches novels more or less follow the line that cursing works, but not unless they know you've done it. Unlucky Charlie, the target for the cursing at the Witch Trials, cannot be aware you've done it because he's a scarecrow, so points are given for general inventiveness. Except for the year when Granny Weatherwax made his head explode.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, the Gentleman does this to Jonathan Strange, cursing him to 'Darkness, misery, and Solitude'. In practice this means he is surrounded by eternal night, everyone flees the eternal night in terror, and he deliberately and literally drives himself mad in a quest to free his wife.As it turns out, because of the imprecision of the spell the darkness entraps any English magician who comes into contact with it, starting with Mr. Norrell. The Raven King also cursed a few places during his reign, mostly over matters of civil unrest or rebellion.
  • In Thirteenth Child, Uncle Earn accuses Eff of casting a curse when she is five — too young to cast magic. Later, William asks Eff if her nervousness springs from being under a curse.
  • "The Sixty-Two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd" features a variety of imaginative examples.
  • The Elenium has an unusual variant of a benevolent curse. A god wants to hide his followers from obliteration and simultaneously give them magical powers to defend themselves. A blessing won't do, because blessings "ring in the air" and are easily detectable by magical means. So the god uses a curse with the exact same effects instead. It is notable that, while benevolent, it's still a curse; the god can't bring himself to curse his beloved followers directly and curses their drinking water instead.
  • In Thinner, a man is getting a handjob from his wife while driving. He hits and kills a young Gypsy woman. When he avoids justice by using his connections in a Screw the Rules, I Have Money! way, the woman's father gives the protagonist a Gypsy Curse that causes him to waste away. (His judge and lawyer are cursed with hideous acne and skin cancer that will eventually kill them too.) His response is to track down the gypsy and curse him — by taking out a contract with a hit man to kill his family.
  • The entire plot of Ella Enchanted is driven by a curse placed on Ella as a child that makes her unable to ignore orders. Usually she gets around it by finding loopholes in the orders she's given, but this becomes hazardous when Prince Charmont falls in love with her and they begin to become entangled. Ella is rightfully concerned that because of her condition, she could be ordered into hurting him. The curse is resolved when Ella tries so hard to refuse Char's order to marry him that her love for him overcomes the curse. Then she marries him of her own free will.
  • Conan the Barbarian: In "A Witch Shall Be Born", as a result of a Deal with the Devil a witch is born to the royal family every century.
    The curse of the kings of Khauran! Aye, they tell the tale in the market-places, with wagging beards and rolling eyes, the pious fools! They tell how the first queen of our line had traffic with a fiend of darkness and bore him a daughter who lives in foul legendry to this day. And thereafter in each century a girl baby was born into the Askhaurian dynasty, with a scarlet half-moon between her breasts, that signified her destiny.
    "Every century a witch shall be born." So ran the ancient curse. And so it has come to pass. Some were slain at birth, as they sought to slay me. Some walked the earth as witches, proud daughters of Khauran, with the moon of hell burning upon their ivory bosoms.
  • In George Eliot's Silly Novels by Lady Novelists, she recounts that, in one such novel, when the mother, on evidence insufficient to hang a dog, concludes that her son had proposed to the woman she wanted him to marry after all, and then finds out that he didn't, she starts to curse her son. A perfectly mundane novel, for all the Melodrama. Perhaps it's just as well that her son's true love interrupts her to say that she refuses to marry the son without his mother's blessing.
  • In the Prospero's Daughter novel Prospero in Hell, Mephisto's folly is caused by amnesia, which he inflicted on himself to escape a curse.
  • In The Avatar Series, we are introduced to Kelemvor Lyonsbane, last scion of a family of cursed mercenaries. The curse began when his ancestor betrayed a powerful sorceress and was cursed to never again act purely for profit, or else transform into a murderous panther. However, with the birth of his son, the curse reacted to the boy's innocence and reversed itself. From then on, Lyonsbanes could only act on another's behalf out of thoughts of profit.
  • In The Shahnameh, the one who kills Esfandiyār is cursed to die and suffer in this life and the next. Fortunately for Rostem, it can see through Uriah Gambits.
  • In The Dragon Hoard, the events begin with Prince Jasleth and Princess Goodness being cursed by a witch who was upset about not being invited to their birthday party.
  • In the Age of Steam novel Dead Iron, this is the reason why Cedar is a werewolf.
  • The Allie Beckstrom series starts with Allie breaking a curse on a boy.
  • The Darkborn Trilogy by Alison Sinclair is set in a country under an eight centuries old curse laid by a psychotic mage in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge over the death of her daughter; the country is now divided into the Darkborn who are incinerated by daylight, and the Lightborn, who melt away in the dark and rely entirely on magical lights to sustain them through the night.
  • In Tinker, Tinker knows that although elves can turn you into a frog, they can't cause a curse — a plague of bad fortune. She just feels like she was hit by one.
  • The Inkworld Trilogy: Subverted in Inkheart when Dustfinger pretends to place a curse on Basta in order to frighten him, as Basta is threatening Meggie with a knife.
  • E. D. Baker:
    • In The Wide-Awake Princess, an old woman asks Annie for food — and then throws it away, contemptuously. She's cursed with toads and snakes falling from her mouth. Annie's 'curse' is that magic doesn't work around her (her sister is Sleeping Beauty, so her parents begged to make their next daughter immune to magic) therefore, all curses thrown at her get bounced back.
    • Speaking of curses, Tales of the Frog Princess has many.
      • A curse turns Eadric into a frog, and backfires when Emma kisses him with her curse-repelling bracelet, which turns her into a frog.
      • A curse that has far more impact on Emma, her family, and the next couple books is one placed on their family a few hundred years before, fating any female ancestor of Princess Hazel to turn into an ugly, evil old hag if she touches a flower after her sixteenth birthday. The curse affects the Queen Mother, Olivine and Grassina before Emma is able to have it lifted.
      • Haywood, Grassina's fiancé, was turned into an otter for decades by Olivine, just because she wanted to make Grassina miserable.
  • In Three Hearts and Three Lions, Hugi recounts how Mother Gerd had cursed a peasant's field — and only killed the thistles.
  • In the Child Ballad Willie's Lady, Willie's mother, a rank witch, cursed his wife to die in childbirth.
  • In The Caster Chronicles, in Lena's family, Casters are Claimed by Light or Dark on their sixteenth birthdays. They have no choice, unlike most other Casters. This is because Lena's ancestor tried to revive her dead lover.
  • Hexes pop all over the place in Fancy Apartments although their little more than annoying in most cases. Rather more serious however, was the death-curse that one character got hit with.
  • Curses are a subject of the horror anthology That Hoodoo Voodoo That You Do. In one story, a faithful Catholic woman curses her priest when she discovers he's been practicing Black Magic. Knowing such rituals have power, especially around him, causes him to freak.
  • Egil's Saga: After his final falling out with King Eirik and right before departing from Norway, Egil on the island of Herdla plants a horse's head on a pole, turns it towards Norway and curses the land-spirits of Norway
    "so that they may all wander astray, none reaching or finding his home until they drive King Eirik and Queen Gunnhild from the land."
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, we get plenty of cursing and a few actual curses/ spiteful prophesies/ blood magic rituals which may or may not work, depending on the beliefs of the chracter and how much a person or reader buys into the workings of either Self-Fulfilling or Self-Defeating Prophecy — or, the possibly-returning-to-full-strength-after-a-breather magic. One thing most in the Seven Kindoms agree on, though, regardless of their individual levels of belief or scepticism: if Harrenhal is not actually under a known, specifically-worded curse (there are plenty of rumours about vague dying curses, the blood of innocents used in mortar triggering things, parents' invoking curses due to slain children, divine vengeance for the breaking of oathes — the whole enchilada; any or all of it plausible according to various beliefs married to events that have occurred), it's got the next best thing to it clinging to its stones. So much bad stuff has happened in and around it over just its relatively young 300 years, that it gives far more ancient keeps and castles, like even the dead scary Nightfort, a run for their ghost story money. And, usually beats them.
  • The Witcher series, based on East European folklore, is rife with curses of all kinds, ranging from simple hexes that make life difficult for people, to complex enchantments that transform people into monsters. In fact, the series begins with Geralt reversing a curse cast on the child of King Foltest, turning her into a horrific striga. Later, Geralt ends up reversing another curse on a man named Duny, who was cursed to look like a humanoid hedgehog since birth by his father's enemies, and who is in fact Emhyr var Emries, the heir to the entire Nilfgaardian Empire, and subsequently comes to rule it and setting into motion the tumultuous events in the entire series over the next couple of decades.
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, it's said that the King of Alba has been cursed with infidelity by a scorned lover, which is why he's in his forties and still without an heir. The curse is real, but the "scorned lover" was actually a woman he raped. The Queen's magic, coupled with Amicia's healing powers, accidentally overpower it and break it.
  • In Myth-Fortunes, a bad-luck curse falls upon anyone who invests in the construction of a pyramid, whose builder stole its plans from a grumpy wizard. Skeeve and his friends get the irate wizard to remove the curse by arranging for him to buy into the project unwittingly, and hence be Hoist by His Own Petard until he negates it for everyone.
  • In The Witchlands, Cursewitches can do Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The curses range from taking away another witch's magic to turning an ordinary wound into a Wound That Will Not Heal.
  • The Stormlight Archive: There is an Enigmatic Empowering Entity called the Nightwatcher who, if you visit her, will give you a single boon and a single curse. One minor character thinks she's a Literal Genie and you can get out of it with Exact Words, but a more knowledgeable character explains it doesn't work like that; you ask for a boon, and the Nightwatcher gives you a curse that she thinks is equivalent. Sometimes it's an ironic twist of the wish, but usually it's something completely unrelated. Known curses/boons include:
    • A farmer who asked for a large pile of expensive cloth to sell so his family could make it through a harsh winter. His curse was to see the world upside down for the rest of his life; it was weird, but he got used to it.
    • Taravangian asked for "the capacity to stop what was coming." He was gifted with randomly fluctuating intelligence (paired with compassion that fluctuates in the opposite direction; ie, he's nicer on his stupider days). This resulted in him reaching god-level intelligence and writing a Diagram to save the world by conquering it. In Oathbringer he clarifies that he asked for "the capacity and the compassion to stop what was coming." His curse is that he doesn't get both at the same time.
    • Lift asked to never age or change, and assumed the Nightwatcher made her into The Ageless. She didn't; instead she moved Lift slightly into the Cognitive Realm, giving her a number of strange abilities like metabolizing food into Stormlight and touching spren. Quite a few knowledgeable people point out that this is really really weird, even by the Nightwatcher's standards, and the Stormfather grumpily says that the whole thing is probably a prank the Nightwatcher is playing on him.
    • Dalinar doesn't remember exactly what he asked for, but the result was that he lost all memories of his wife, to the point that he can't even hear her name when it is spoken. Things get weird in Oathbringer when those memories slowly start coming back; no one has ever heard of one of the Nightwatcher's curses wearing off. Dalinar had burned an entire town alive for rebelling against his brother, unaware that his wife was inside begging the people to surrender. The guilt was driving him insane, and he asked the Nightwatcher for "forgiveness." She couldn't give it to him (it's implied she didn't even understand what he was asking for) so her mother, the Shard Cultivation, stepped in to give a deal instead. She "pruned" Dalinar's memories, including his memories of his wife, to give him the opportunity to move past his compulsions and become a better man. The curse was that eventually those memories would return, and he would be forced to overcome them.
  • The Reluctant King: A ghost encountered in the last book was a nobleman who was cursed by a charlatan alchemist he had executed and became a wraith, condemned to infest his own castle until the day a queen will wash his floors. Jorian helps him break the curse by marrying Margalit (making her a Queen, as he's technically still the King of Xylar) and having her wash part of the floor, releasing the ghost of his torment.
  • The Belgariad: When Vordai the witch escaped the mob that tried to burn her at the stake, she cursed them to live under unending rain, no matter where they went. It might even have spread to their descendants.
  • Thank You for Taking Care of our Enchanted and Haunted Castle: The first owners of the castle was cursed by the Fairy Queen, becoming immortal at the cost of not being able to leave the castle. There are two Curse Escape Clauses however, one of which leads to the recipient of the letter being given the curse instead. Additionally, according to the letter, the previous owners have since moved on to ironic curses, meaning that they don't need their dungeons anymore.
  • The Enchanted Files: Diary of a Mad Brownie / Cursed features one (naturally, given the title of the paperback edition). Said curse is carried by the eldest male of every generation of Cairns (passed on to them at the previous elder Cairns' death — so far, only Seamus Cairns and his son Angus have carried it) and causes any male of the McGonagall family that a Cairns is living with to try and make beautiful poetry, rhymes or lyrics, to the exclusion of all else (thereby severely messing up their lives), but their creations always come out wretched. It's eventually revealed that the curse was placed on the Cairns family by Greer M'Greer, Queen of Scotland's Enchanted Realm (also known as the Queen of Shadows) in retaliation for Seamus helping Ewan McGonagall by carrying messages between he and the Queen's daughter, who fell in love with him, began wasting away, and ultimately left the Enchanted Realm to be with him as a result, since she felt she could not live without him.
  • Oddly Enough: In "The Hardest, Kindest Gift", Melusine imprisons her father in the heart of a mountain out of anger for his role as The Oathbreaker, which led she, her sisters and her mother to be trapped on Avalon. In retaliation, her mother Pressina curses her to assume a monstrous form once a week, making her a snake from the waist down and giving her enormous bat-like wings, until she can find a man who never seeks to learn her secret. When her husband does reveal he has learned her true nature, her transformation becomes permanent, as well as making her immortal until someone can break the curse.
  • The Lightlark Saga: One of the main plot elements of Lightlark is that every realm in the world has been under a curse the past five hundred years, with each realm's curse having a unique effect on them. Some of these curses tend to make life pretty difficult or can potentially cripple a realm, and the main plot revolves around the protagonists trying to break the curses.
  • Swan's Braid & Other Tales of Terizan: A wizard in Oreen has cursed the city with hot weather, the Council is told by his servant. To break this, Terizan is hired for stealing the object which focuses this, a "curse anchor". [[spoiler:However, it turns out this isn't the result of a curse-the servant wants her for another curse which affected her master.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of The Middleman had a survivor of the Titanic cursed with immortality so long as his tuba remain intact for his heinous crime: pretending the tuba was his child and thus stealing the seats of a woman and her child. The tuba itself is an Artifact of Death capable of killing anyone who hears its E Flat note by filling their lungs with the icy waters of the North Atlantic. After a decades he comes to consider himself Cursed with Awesome though.
  • Played with in Leverage where a con involved making the curator of a museum off balance, stressed, and ill. He was suffering from cold-like symptoms which were exasperated by the team and his coworker mentioned an Egyptian curse due to the mummy they had on hand. Just as he was considering the possibility she changed tune and said “That’s all nonsense. Everyone knows it’s a bacteria.” His mood was not improved.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel has Angel, a vampire cursed with a soul. If he ever has a moment of perfect happiness (such as having sex with Buffy), the curse is broken, he loses his soul, and he reverts to being Angelus, the incredibly evil vampire that he was before getting cursed.
    • The gypsies may not have thought this through. The soul made him deeply depressed and constantly thinking about the hundreds of people he’s killed over the years, but the escape clause allows him to return to being one of history’s most sadistic killers.
  • Merlin episode "The Lady of the Lake". Freya was a Druid girl cursed to turn into a winged werepanther at the stroke of midnight.
  • On Misfits, one of Rudy's many one night stands is upset that he doesn't want to date her and curses him so that his penis starts to rot. Simon has a vision that if he doesn't figure out how to stop the curse, it will fall off. It looks so bad that many people gasp or scream at the sight of it. At the end of the episode, he apologizes to her and she reverses it.
  • Mystery Hunters: A couple of episodes investigate alleged curses such as the curse of the play theatre/Macbeth and an allege curse that occurs if one enters Useful Notes/Tutankhamun's tomb. Subverted though as it seems that incidents that are allegedly caused by the curses seem to be coincidences.
  • Rome:
    • After Caesar rejects her for political reasons, his mistress Sevillia writes out a formal curse according to Roman custom. It doesn't work, so she conspires to his assassination instead. Later she curses her long-time rival Atia, and this curse appears to be more effective — Atia's son gains all the power she wanted for him, but Atia loses the love of her life Marc Antony.
    • After discovering his wife's infidelity, and realizing his children were keeping the secret from him, Vorenus curses them all to damnation. This is Serious Business for a Roman so Vorenus is aghast when he returns to his house and finds them missing. Pullo assures him he can just lift the curse when his children return. They don't, having been abducted and sold into slavery by an enemy of Vorenus while he was absent.
  • Charmed: As a series about witchcraft, these pop up semi-frequently. The most notable instance was when Phoebe began receiving Past-Life Memories, coupled with physical manifestations of said past life attacking her. Throughout the episode, she comes to the revelation that her past self was evil, and a curse was put on her soul (by past Prue and past Piper, no less), dooming her (and all reincarnations of her soul) to die at the exact age Phoebe currently is. Through taking control of her past self's body, Phoebe herself is able to counter the curse, dodging her own demise.
    • Happens to Phoebe in I Dream of Phoebe where Phoebe, after freeing a Genie she thought was good, is forced to take the Genies place in the bottle. Turns out the Genie was actually a Demon, cursed to be a Genie after she refused to marry a sorceror. Turns out the Curse works beyond the original Genie as whoever frees the current Genie,whoever it may be, takes their place. This feature of the curse is used to turn the Demon back into a Genie again by the end.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Cat and Mouse", after being found in bed with the wife of a warlock, a curse was placed on Guillaume de Marchaux. During the day, he is trapped in the form of a cat. However, he can freely transform between a man and a cat at night. The warlock also cursed him with immortality to prolong the spell.
  • The premise of Seriously Weird is that the protagonist Harris Pembleton disrespects Steve, the God of Chaos, in his own realm and is cursed for life to be targeted by all that is Weird.
  • A common belief among fans of the Eurovision Song Contest is that performing second in the Grand Final is cursed. Contestants who perform early are already at a disadvantage (as viewers may not remember them by the time voting begins) but nobody has ever won while going second, and the slot has produced more last-place entries than any other.
  • The final episode of The Brittas Empire has a gypsy put a curse on Gordon so that anything that he cooks is lethal to anyone who eats it. Casualties include a lot of birds and Councillor Druggett.
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir: In "Son of the Curse", the kids find a clock in the attic and start it up, not knowing it has a curse on it that the last of the Greggs (Claymore) will die by midnight.

  • Alestorm's "Captain Morgan's Revenge" has its title character pronouncing a dying curse upon the mutinous crew who have made him Walk the Plank:
    And as he fell down to the depths, he swore a deadly curse:
    "As sure as Hell's my final fate, you'll all soon die or worse!"
    Now as we stand before the gallows waiting for the end,
    I'll say these final words, my friend...

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology had quite a run of these, setting up the tragic events of many a story:
    • Oedipus, maltreated by his sons, cursed them to kill each other. Leading to the events of Seven Against Thebes.
    • Theseus, believing what his wife Phaedra had claimed about his son Hippolytus, cursed him, resulting in Hippolytus's death.
    • After Hecuba avenged the murder of her son by killing Polymestor's sons in front of him and then blinding him, Polymestor himself curses Hecuba - or maybe simply foresees her doom — to go insane and drown herself.
    • Laios, King of Thebes, for some reason tries to kidnap Pelops' son. Pelops curses him, saying, "May your own son kill you, Theban!" Laios' son is Oedipus; the outcome is well-known.
    • Pelops' other sons are Atreus and Thyestes. Atreus catches Thyestes in bed with his (Atreus') wife. Atreus butchers Thyestes' children and serves them up to their father at a banquet. Thyestes curses Atreus' line. Thyestes' curse is fulfilled by Helen, wife of Atreus' son Menelaos, who runs off with Paris of Troy, and by Clytemnestra, wife of Atreus' other son Agamemnon, who consorts with a son of Thyestes and murders her husband.
  • Norse Mythology:
    • When Odin, Thor, and Loki were traveling in Midgard, Loki threw a rock that killed an otter that had just caught a fish. That otter turned out to Otr, son of Hreidmar, king of the dwarves. As repayment for Otr's life, Loki threatened another dwarf, Andvari, to make him hand over his treasure. In the process, Loki saw Andvari's ring, Andvarinaut, and demanded that as well, over Andvari's protests. Enraged, Andvari cursed his ring, which caused the deaths of several people before it eventually led to the destruction of an entire tribe.
    • In Gautrek's Saga, Thor curses Starkad to never have children, to never own land, to be wounded in every battle he fights, to never remember his own poems, and to commit three great crimes in his life.
    • In one version of The Saga of Hervor and Heidrek, the dwarves who forged the sword Tyrfing were forced to do it on pain of death. As repayment, they cursed it so that once unsheathed, it must take a life before it can be resheathed, that it would lead to the death of the man who made them forge it, and that it would be used to commit three great acts of treachery.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Far Side:
    • A couple is looking at their vacation slides, with the husband chuckling over the peasant woman who threatened to put a curse on him if he took her picture.. and he's half-dissolved into a lumpy snaggled-toothed hulk.
    • A mummy to the trio of archaeologists who have just cracked open his sarcophagus: "Well, that's a curse on you, and a curse on you, and a curse on you!"

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The Super Indy Chamionship, a tournament of the International Wrestling Cartel, had a curse on it that a champion would always lose a belt upon entering, primarily the belt of the previous Super Indy Champion. This curse was eventually defeated by RJ City.
  • After Mike Quackenbush, Lince Dorado, El Pantera, Equinox and Claudio Castagnoli all defeated Chris Hero with The Chikara Special in the Summer 2007 season, it was rumored that a curse had taken hold of Hero.
  • The WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw had a short run of a curse, The Curse of the Undertaker. Eddie Guerrero was involved in a storyline with Taker that ended in him buried alive. Two days before its North American release... well, Eddie died. A game later, Undertaker said "Your grieving family will have no-one but you to blame when the inevitable occurs." Nothing too big, but he said it to Chris Benoit, who killed himself and his family the next year. A year after that, Randy Orton was injured after an in game feud with Taker.

Athletes and sports fans are often a superstitious bunch, so if there's a long drought of success or a string of near-misses (especially those under odd circumstances), sports curses often come about. Here's some notable ones:

Multiple Sports

  • The city of Philadelphia and the Curse of Billy Penn. Philadelphia's City Hall is topped by a statue of William Penn (the founder of both the city and the entire colony-now-state of Pennsylvania), and for many decades there was a gentleman's agreement in place that didn't allow any building in the city to be higher than it. This agreement was broken in March 1987 by the opening of One Liberty Place three blocks away. Before then, all four of Philadelphia's major sports franchises had seen a good deal of recent success: the Phillies had won the World Series in 1980 and had also clinched the NL Pennant in 1983 (if this doesn't seem like a lot, consider that the club predates the first World Series (1903) by twenty years and 1980 was their first World Series victory ever ); the 76ers had swept the Los Angeles Lakers to win the 1983 NBA Finals and also made the Finals in '77, '80, and '82; the Eagles reached Super Bowl XV in 1980 before losing to the Oakland Raiders (a big deal for a team whose last NFL title was in 1960); the Flyers had won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and '75, as well as appearing in the Finals in '76, '80, and '85. Once the new skyscraper opened and the statue of Penn was overshadowed, none of these teams won a championship despite some close calls:
    • The Phillies lost the 1993 World Series in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays on Joe Carter's three-run walkoff homer.
    • The 76ers lost to the Lakers in 2001 in five games (admittedly, they were big underdogs in that series).
    • The Eagles probably had the most agonizing time - they lost the NFC Championship Game three years in a row (2002 to the St. Louis Rams, 2003 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004 to the Carolina Panthers)note  before finally beating the Atlanta Falcons in 2005 and reaching Super Bowl XXXIX...where they lost to the New England Patriots.
    • The Flyers lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Edmonton Oilers just two months after One Liberty Place opened. They also got swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 after cruising through the first three rounds that year. They also made the Conference Finals five times (1989, 1995, 2000, 2004, 2008) before losing - 2000 especially stands out because the Flyers were up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series before dropping Games 5, 6, and 7 to the New Jersey Devils.

      How did this end? In June 2007 the final beam of the new Comcast Center in downtown Philadelphia was erected, becoming the tallest building in the city. Workers planted a two-foot-high figure of William Penn to that beam, along with a tree and an old-school American flag. The figurine got stolen and a replacement one was quickly provided — sports in Philadelphia is a very big deal. Forward to October 2008, and the Phillies win the World Series in five games against the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • For the latter half of the 20th Century and into the 21st, the city of Cleveland became the pro sports world's Butt-Monkey for their lack of championships and procession of near-misses that border on the cruel. After the Cleveland Browns' 1964 NFL Championship win, Cleveland sports franchises (counting the Big Four members of baseball's Indians (Guardians as of 2022), basketball's Cavaliers, football's Browns, and two seasons of hockey's Barons before they folded and were absorbed by the Minnesota North Stars) endured a combined 147 seasons without a championship, the longest out of any North American city with a team in the Big Four sports. The disappointments are so numerous many are referred to by two-word titles starting with "The".
    • The Cleveland Indians' woes actually predate The '60s, as their last AL pennant was in 1954 and their last World Series win was in 1948. Terry Pluto, who covered the Indians for The Plain Dealer, theorized The Curse of Rocky Colavito as for why the team was so consistently inept, stemming from the trading away of fan favorite right fielder Rocky Colavito to the Detroit Tigers in early 1960. Since then, the Indians were constant basement-dwellers, never finishing less than 11 games out of first place. After his book was published in 1994, the Indians started to get good...only to move from perennial loser to Every Year They Fizzle Out land:
      • The '94 season saw the Indians within 1 game of the Chicago White Sox for first place in the AL Central when the players' strike prematurely ended it, but it set up an even better 1995 season where the Indians made it all the way to the World Series for the first time since 1954 before losing in six games to the Atlanta Braves, including being held to one hit in the deciding Game 6 that ended 1-0. While these Braves were in the midst of an unprecedented 14-season streak of division titles, this would be the only year in that streak that the Braves actually won a World Series.
      • The Indians returned to the World Series in 1997, this time facing off against a wild card Florida Marlins team that six years ago didn't even exist. The Series went seven games with the Indians holding a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 in Miami, but closer Jose Mesa couldn't hang on to the lead and the Marlins tied it on a Craig Counsell sacrifice fly to right. Then in the 11th, the Indians, now with Charles Nagy on the mound, got it to two outs but Marlins had the bases loaded when Edgar Renteria managed to line-drive Nagy's pitch back at him, the ball just glancing off Nagy's glove and over second base into the outfield for the Series-winning single.
      • The Indians still remained at the top of the AL Central and returned to the postseason in 1998, only to blow a 2-1 series lead to the New York Yankees in the ALCS. They got back in 1999, only to blow a 2-0 series lead to the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. They got back in 2001, only to blow a 2-1 series lead to the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS.
      • 2007: Up three games to one on the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS with Cy Young winner CC Sabathia going for them at home in Game 5, the Red Sox instead blow the Indians out of the water in Games 5, 6, and 7 by a combined score of 30-5 in those three games.
      • The Indians' choking woes didn't stop even after the Cavaliers broke the citywide drought: they lost the "Hell Freezes Over" 2016 World Series to the Chicago Cubs in an extra innings Game 7 at home, and blew a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five 2017 ALDS to the Yankees. Even becoming the Guardians in 2022 didn't stop them from letting a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five ALDS slip against the Yankees.
    • The Cleveland Browns' woes are sometimes said to stretch all the way back to when Art Modell purchased the then-successful team in 1961 and the shoddy treatment of coach Paul Brown, whom the team was named after. Basically, Art Modell fired Brown in 1963 and the last championship for the city of Cleveland in any major sport happened the year afterward. Brown would go on to found the Cincinnati Bengals (whose stadium is named after him).
      • Jan 4, 1981: AFC Divisional playoffs, Browns are down 14-12 to the Oakland Raiders with less than a minute but have the ball on second down and are on the Raiders' 13-yard line, well within field goal range. Coach Sam Rutigliano called "Red Slot Right, Halfback Stay, 88" and told quarterback Brian Sipe to "throw it into Lake Erie" if the play wasn't wide open. The primary receiver Dave Logan was open but Sipe didn't see him and instead tried to force a pass to tight end Ozzie Newsome, which got intercepted and the Browns lose the game on "Red Right 88". The Raiders went on to win the Super Bowl that year.
      • Jan 11, 1987: AFC Championship Game, Browns are up 20-13 against the Denver Broncos with 5:32 left in the fourth quarter after a 48-yard touchdown pass from Bernie Kosar and the ensuing kickoff left the Broncos stuck at their own 2-yard line. Broncos quarterback John Elway then orchestrated "The Drive", a 15-play, 98-yard series that ended with the game-tying touchdown with 39 seconds left; the Broncos would win the game 23-20 in overtime.
      • Jan 17, 1988: Rematch of the previous year's AFC Championship Game, this time in Denver. The Browns fell behind early but was able to catch up in the second half, tying the score at 31. The Broncos scored another touchdown to make it 38-31 with six minutes left, but the Browns put together a solid drive to get to the Broncos' 8-yard-line with 1:12 left. Running back Earnest Byner, who had come alive for the Browns' offense and had been running roughshod over the Broncos defense, took the handoff on a draw play and ran to the outside with space, only needing to beat Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille to score the tying touchdown. Castille went for the strip and forced "The Fumble" at the one yard line and recovered the ball for the Broncos, who gave the Browns an intentional safety and won the game 38-33.
      • By the 1990's, the Browns' Cleveland Stadium was showing its age and the City of Cleveland voted to approve the Gateway Project that gave new arenas to the Indians (Jacobs Field) and Cavaliers (Gund Arena). Modell had previously purchased Cleveland Stadium from the city in 1975 due to the city's financial problems and initially didn't participate in the Gateway Project because he didn't think his revenue stream was in jeopardy when it fact it very much was once the Indians left the stadium as tenants in 1994 and revenues crashed. Meanwhile, the team itself under coach Bill Belichick made the playoffs with an 11-5 record and won a playoff game and was a trendy pick to win their first Super Bowl the following season. The team started the 1995 season at 3-1 before muddling to a 4-5 record when Modell announced in November that the team would be moved to Baltimore the following season. Fans were outraged, and the team itself utterly collapsed at the morale blow to a 5-11 finish. After much lawsuit-wrangling it was agreed that, officially, the Cleveland Browns would suspend operations until the city built a new stadium while Modell's franchise moving to Baltimore would officially be an expansion team even though they had the old Browns' players and staff. Modell's name became an invective to be scorned in Northeast Ohio — though he sold the team in 2000 he never returned to Cleveland, and after he died in 2012 the new Browns elected not to commemorate his death at the request of Art's stepson David out of fear the fans would just boo and disrespect him (not that it stopped that anyway — a YouTube video was posted in July 2014 showing someone in a Browns jersey emptying a catheter of urine onto Art Modell's grave).
      • The new Browns were reborn in 1999 to great enthusiasm (see here how Drew Carey led the charge in their season opener) but typical expansion team woes, with a 43-0 drubbing in their opener against the Steelers and a 5-27 record in their first two years. Things started to look up in Year 3 with new coach Butch Davis, finishing 7-9 in 2001 and reach 9-7 the following year and with it a Wild Card playoff spot...before losing 36-33 to the Steelers while trying to get into field goal range to tie the game. The next four years were all losing seasons before the Browns managed to cobble together a 10-6 record in 2007...only to miss out on the playoffs due to losing a tiebreaker to the Steelers. And the years since then have been mainly filled with instability at quarterback (the team started 30 different quarterbacks between 1999 and 2018) and despondent, miserable losing season after losing season, bottoming out in 2017 when they became only the second team ever to lose all 16 games in an NFL season. The nonstop losing has become part of the Browns fandom's identity. And insult to injury, the former-Browns-now-Baltimore Ravens are still in their division and have won two Super Bowls.
    • The Cleveland Cavaliers are a team born from within the early throes of Cleveland's citywide championship curse in 1970. It was an inauspicious start, needing sixteen games to record the franchise's first victory. They gradually got better and by the mid-to-late 1970's the team made the playoffs, reaching as far as the Eastern Conference Finals thanks to the "Miracle at Richfield" in Game 7 of their series against the Washington Bullets before falling to the Boston Celtics in six games. Then...things took a turn:
      • First came the Ted Stepien era of the Cavaliers in the early 1980's, who soon proved himself to be an incredibly incompetent owner who kept trading away first-round draft picks for players that didn't pan out, to the point where the NBA specifically passed the Ted Stepien Rule that disallows any team from trading their first-round pick for three consecutive years and eventually required any trade involving the Cavaliers to get league approval because other teams kept fleecing the Cavs in trade after trade. The Cavs under Stepien also had five head coaches in two seasons as well as a new fight song based off of polka music and a dance team named the "Teddy Bears". The Cavs' on-court performance and attendance plummeted during his ownership, including a then-record 24-game losing streak and home games barely breaking 10% of the arena's capacity (with those going mainly voicing how much they hated Stepien and loved play-by-play announcer Joe Tait who had also been fired by Stepien). The Cavs' situation was so bad that in order to entice the Gund brothers to buy the team and keep it in Cleveland in 1983, the NBA granted them additional first-round picks to make up for the ones Stepien had traded away.
      • By the late 1980's, though, the Cavs' new management was able to put together a good team that began challenging for the league's top spots. They just had the terrible luck of running into Michael Jordan was starting to show off his otherworldly talent that would soon make the Chicago Bulls the dynasty of the 1990's. Jordan and the Bulls beat Cleveland in their best-of-five first-round series in 1988, and met them again the following year in the first round. The teams split the first four games, and so Game 5 on May 7 was needed in Cleveland. It came down to the wire with the lead changing back and forth over the final minute; the Cavs were up 100-99 with three seconds left when Jordan took the inbound pass and made a jump shot from the foul line over Craig Ehlo to hit the buzzer-beating basket now known as just "The Shot" and win the series for the Bulls 101-100. The Cavs never seemed to recover after that — they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers next year, missed the playoffs after that, and though they made the playoffs in 1992, 1993, and 1994 they were knocked out by the Bulls each time.
      • The mid-1990's through the first part of the 2000's were mostly bad years for Cleveland bereft of anything resembling success or hope, but at least in the NBA the draft lottery meant they had chances to get the top draft pick each of those terrible years. Which they eventually did in 2003, getting them hometown (well, Akron, but close enough) phenom LeBron James straight out of high school. For seven years James dazzled crowds and scored against defenses seemingly at will, but it became clear that James alone couldn't carry Cleveland to the promised land of an NBA championship — though the Cavs made it to the second round in James' third year, the team would always get eliminated along the way, with only one trip to the Finals in 2007 (and subsequently getting swept by the San Antonio Spurs). James' contract was up at the end of the 2010 season following a second-round loss to the Boston Celtics, and it was James' first time ever being courted for his services since he never went through the college recruitment thing most other players did. The Cavs were among those who made their pitch to him to stay, but so were other teams with bigger wallets and championship pedigrees like the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, and New York Knicks. In the end, James went a step further than other free agents and had a half-hour TV special with ESPN called "The Decision", where he announced that he would take his talents to South Beach and sign with the Heat, where he could join with other big-name free agents signed by the Heat in Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Cleveland immediately rioted that night, Cavs fans burning his jersey in bonfires and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert sending out an angry, poorly edited email declaring that the Cavs would win a championship before the "so-called King" would. The Cavs immediately collapsed to worst in the league the next season and into irrelevancy, with the only time anyone really paid attention to them was when the Heat came into town and everyone went to either boo LeBron or watch people boo LeBron; James meanwhile won two championships in Miami.
      • By 2014, the Cavs tried their best to regroup by drafting Kyrie Irving and trading for All-Star Kevin Love while rumors circulated once again due to James' contract with the Heat expiring. Seemingly learning his lesson from the backlash to the whole "Decision" thing, James just published a letter to fans announcing his intention to sign again with Cleveland. The Cavs immediately went back to the top of the Eastern Conference...just as they ran into yet another new dynasty in the making in the Golden State Warriors. They met in the 2015 NBA Finals, where the Warriors beat the Cavs in six games. The next season, they met again in the Finals and the Cavs went down three games to one, a basically-insurmountable deficit in the NBA playoffs. The Cavs then won Games 5 and 6, leading to Game 7 at Oakland; the game was close throughout, with the teams tied at 89 and under two minutes left when James, by now starting to show his age and usually not known for his defense, hustled all the way down the court to block an Andre Iguodala layup attempt for "The Block". Irving then made a three to put the Cavs up 92-89, and James would sink a free throw to seal the 93-89 victory, "The End" of Cleveland championship drought, and the biggest celebration for the city since 1964.
      • Post-script: the Warriors and Cavs would meet again for the NBA championship in 2017 and again in 2018 — the Warriors won both times. James' contract expired again after 2018 and he left for the Los Angeles Lakers, though this time everyone had had time to get used to the idea and there was far less acrimony all around. The championship in 2016 probably helped it go down easier.

American Football

  • The Arizona Cardinals and the Curse of the Pottsville Maroons. The 1925 NFL Championship game saw the Pottsville Maroons (Pottsville is a small coal-mining town in rural Pennsylvania) defeat the Chicago Cardinals 21-7, but the Maroons were stripped of their NFL championship after later playing in a supposedly unauthorized exhibition game in Philadelphia (both sides have disputed evidence on whether the game was sanctioned by the NFL). The Cardinals took credit for the title starting in 1933 under then-new owner Charles Bidwell (the Cardinals' owner in 1925, Chris O'Brien, actually refused to claim the title at the time because he felt his team didn't deserve to take the title from a team that beat them fairly), an act that angered many Pottsville citizens. Legend says that the angered citizens cast a curse on the Cardinals that will deny the franchise a title until the championship is given back to Pottsville and returned to the proper shade of red. The Cardinals won the NFL championship again in 1947, but it remains the last one for the Cardinals' franchise as of 2020 - after the 1947 championship they effectively dropped off the face of the earth as far as success (a total of five postseason appearances and one playoff winnote  in sixty years). Things finally started to look up in 2008 with a revived Kurt Warner at the QB helm and an improbable run to Super Bowl XLIII...before losing a tight one to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23 on a last-minute touchdown. Their closest approach since was 2015 (a 49-15 steamrolling at the hands of the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game).
    • Given that the impetus began with the Cardinals' claiming of the 1925 championship after they were purchased by Charles Bidwell and the team remains in the family through his grandson, some versions of the story direct the curse at the owners rather than the franchise itself.
    • The NFL revisited the matter in 1963 but the vote among the owners was 12-2 in favor of continuing to recognize the Cardinals as 1925 champions; the two who voted against were Chicago Bears owner George Halas and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney. The matter was brought up again in 2003, but the owners decided 30-2 against reopening the case; the two who voted in favor of reopening were the Pittsburgh Steelers (again) and the Philadelphia Eagles. That the Steelers were the only team to support the Maroons' case both times lends some credence to the Cardinals' Super Bowl XLIII loss being curse-induced.
    • Once the Chicago Cubs broke their championship drought in 2016, the Cardinals took the title of longest active championship drought in the Big Four North American sports.
  • The Detroit Lions and the Curse of Bobby Layne. Layne was a quarterback who spent 8 seasons with the Lions in the 1950's, leading them to several NFL championships in that time. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958, to which supposedly he responded by saying the Lions would not win for 50 yearsnote . In the 50 years since:
    • Not only did the Lions not win or even appear in another NFL championship or Super Bowl (the only other team to go so long without one is the Cleveland Browns), they had the worst winning percentage of all teams.
    • They had a total of ten postseason appearances, of which they won one playoff game (1991 against the Dallas Cowboys).
    • The losing was so bad that Barry Sanders, probably the best Lion in recent memory, who played for the team in the 90's and during which the Lions had five of the said ten playoff appearances, retired while in peak physical form because he couldn't stand the losing culture and front office mismanagement.
    • Insult to injury: the Steelers won Super Bowl XL in 2006, which was held at the Lions' home stadium of Ford Field that year.
    • To cap it all off, in 2008 (the 50th year of the curse) the Lions became the first team in NFL history to lose every game in a 16-game season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only other team to have gone winless in a season (0-14 in 1976), and the Bucs had the excuse of being an expansion team in their first year of play. The Lions were later joined by the 2017 Cleveland Browns.
  • The first 33 years of the New Orleans Saints is derift of any kind of success, needing twenty years of being the Butt-Monkey "Ain'ts" of the NFL to make their first of only four playoff appearances, none of them a win. As their home stadium the Superdome sits on top of a 19th century graveyard and as the Saints went back to sucking in the 1990's, some fans thought there must have been a curse, so prior to their 2000 playoff game where they were to host the St. Louis Rams, a ceremony led by a voodoo priestess was performed to please the spirits. It seemed to have worked, as the Saints won their first ever playoff game 31-28 and have been more successful since then, including a victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
  • The "Madden Curse:" It's said that the athlete who is featured on the cover of the Madden NFL is doomed to misfortune, either a bad season, failing to meet expectations, or even being sidelined due to injury. This, however, is usually dismissed as regression to the mean, simply being chalked up to athletes being featured when they're at the top, and having nowhere to go but down.

Association Football

  • The Socceroos (Australia's national soccer team) and their witch doctor curse. For the 1970 World Cup AFC/OFC qualification, Australia travelled to Mozambique to play a two-game aggregate against Rhodesia. According to team captain Johnny Warren's 2002 autobiography, for the deciding game some team members consulted a local witch doctor, who proceeded to bury bones near the goal posts and place a curse on Rhodesia. Australia won 3-1 to proceed to the final round against Israel, but they couldn't come up with the fee the witch doctor requested, so the witch doctor hexed them as well. What followed:
    • Australia lost the home-and-home against Israel and the lone AFC/OFC spot to the World Cup.
    • Australia did qualify for the 1974 World Cup, but didn't score a goal in three games and finished last in Group 1.
    • Australia then failed to qualify for the next seven World Cups despite close calls in several of those qualifying campaigns (especially 1994, 1998, and 2002). The 1998 campaign especially stands out - Australia got to the OFC/AFC playoff against Iran for the final World Cup spot to be decided on a home-and-home playoff. The first game in Tehran ended 1-1, and in the second half of the second game in Melbourne Australia held a 2-0 lead until Iran scored goals in the 71st and 75th minute to earn the draw and qualify for the final World Cup spot on away goals.
    • How it ended: two years after Warren's autobiography was published, John Safran read about it and travelled to Mozambique and hired a new witch doctor to lift the curse. The next year Australia qualified for the 2006 World Cup after defeating Uruguay in a shootout and with their move to AFC, Australia has become a major powerhouse in the Asian football/soccer scene and have qualified for every World Cup since then.

Australian Rules Football

  • The Curse of Norm Smith: Norm Smith won six premierships as coach of the Melbourne Demons. In 1965, despite having won the premiership the previous year, he was controversially sacked, and subsequently claimed the club would never win another premiership. They didn't make the finals again until 1987, and as of 2017 are still yet to win the premiership again, with their closest attempts being grand final appearances in 1988 and 2000.

Auto Racing

  • The "Andretti Curse" is the affliction of bad luck to the Andretti dynasty in the Indianapolis 500 since Mario Andretti won the race in 1969. Despite there being five Andrettis (Mario, Michael, Jeff, John and Marco) to have raced at Indy since then, as of 2014 none have won another 500 as a driver (Michael Andretti won in 2005, 2007, and 2014 as a car owner). Some of the most notable examples of "Andretti luck" include Mario Andretti's finishing second after Bobby Unser was disqualified and then-reinstated as winner in 1981, finishing second behind Danny Sullivan (who spun his car but saved it earlier in the race), his engine blowing in 1987 after leading most of the race. Michael Andretti led most of the 1992 race but his engine failed ten laps from the finish. Marco Andretti was passed by Sam Hornish on the run to the finish line in 2006.


  • The Boston Red Sox and the Curse of the Bambino. The Red Sox sold former player and baseball legend Babe Ruth to the now-hated rival New York Yankees in 1920. Prior to this, the Red Sox had a great deal of success, winning the World Series in 1915, 1916, and 1918; the Yankees, meanwhile, had been terrible since their inception. From 1923 through 2000, the Yankees won twenty-six World Series championships (at least one in every decade except the 1980's) and the Red Sox won zero. The curse finally ended in 2004, when the Red Sox won the World Series in a four-game sweep against the St. Louis Cardinals after coming back from a 3-0 series deficit in the ALCS against the Yankees, the only time such a comeback has ever happened in baseball. They've won another 3 World Series since then. Highlights in between:
    • The 1978 season. On July 18th, the Red Sox had a seemingly-insurmountable 14 game lead in the AL East before the Yankees got hot and managed to tie Boston in the standings on September 10th after a four-game sweep at Fenway Park by a combined score of 42-9, which fans took to calling the "Boston Massacre". The two teams ended the season tied atop the AL East, so a one-game playoff at Fenway was needed to decide who would play for the AL Pennant against Kansas City. Boston had a 2-0 lead in the top of the 7th before light-hitting Bucky Dent (who managed a total of 40 home runs in an 11-year career) got a 3-run homer over the Green Monster. The Yankees won 5-4 and went on to win the World Series, while Dent won the nickname Bucky Fucking Dent from Red Sox fans.
    • The curse gained media prominence in the 1986 World Series, where the Red Sox had a 3-2 series lead against the New York Mets going into Game 6 and getting a 5-3 lead with 2 outs in the bottom of the 10th inning before losing that game (capped off by an error by first baseman Bill Buckner that let the winning run in) and Game 7. This led to George Vecsey's articles that posited the existence of the curse in national media.
    • It got played again in 2003, when the Red Sox and Yankees met in the ALCS - Game 7 was at Yankee Stadium, where the Red Sox held a 5-2 lead with one out in the 8th inning before the Yankees tied it and eventually forced extra innings, where a pinch-hitting journeyman Aaron Boone hit a walkoff homer in the 11th. Comparisons to Dent's homer in 1978 were widespread, including being known as Aaron Fucking Boone by Red Sox Nation. The Red Sox would get their revenge the next year.
  • The Chicago Cubs and the Curse of the Billy Goat. As the story goes, during Game 4 of the 1945 World Series a bar owner named Billy Sianisnote  brought his pet goat named Murphy to the game at Wrigley Field (even purchasing a separate ticket), but was kicked out because the goat's odor was bothering others. Sianis was infuriated and declared, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more."note  The Cubs lost that game, lost the series, and did not play a World Series game again until 2016, the longest pennant drought in baseball. (The Cubs also hold the record for longest World Series drought - until their 2016 World Series victory, they hadn't won a championship since 1908.) Highlights since:
    • The 1969 season. This was the first year each league was split into two divisions, and the Cubs had an 8 1/2-game lead in the NL East in mid-August and still held a 5-game on September 2nd over the second-place New York Mets. The Cubs then collapsed while the Mets went on a tear, ending with the Mets finishing first in the division with an 8-game lead over the Cubs. As if to drive home the point, a black cat had walked by Cubs captain Ron Santo while he was in the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium on September 9th - the next day the Mets took over first place in the division.
    • The 1984 NLCS. The Cubs finished first in the NL East for the first time by 6 1/2 games. All that stood in their way was the NL West champ San Diego Padres in a best-of-5 series. The Cubs won the first two games at Wrigley, and fans could smell a return to the World Series. Then the Padres won Games 3 and 4 in San Diego. Then the deciding Game 5 - the Cubs had a 3-0 lead after two innings and still led 3-2 going into the bottom of the 7th. With a runner on second and one out, Tim Flannery of the Padres hit a grounder that went through the legs of Cubs first baseman Leon Durham, allowing San Diego to tie the game.note  Then the next batter Tony Gwynn doubles in two more runs to give the Padres a lead which they would not relinquish.
    • Game 6 of the 2003 NLCSnote . The Cubs had a 3-2 series lead on the Florida Marlins and were up 3-0 with 1 out in the top of the 8th inning at Wrigley. Then a high foul ball towards the left field was hit, and a Cubs fan named Steve Bartman (among others) reached for it, knocking the ball into the stands, ruining any chance of making it the second out. The Cubs pleaded for fan interference but didn't get it. The Marlins then scored eight unanswered runs before the inning was over, winning that game as well as Game 7.
    • In 2015, the Cubs had one of the strongest teams in the major leagues and won a playoff series for the first time since 2003. They made it to the NLCS...where they got swept by the Mets. The series MVP was Mets infielder Daniel Murphy, prompting jokes about how he wasn't the first G.O.A.T.note  to keep the Cubs out of the World Series; a Twitter post also made the rounds on the internet pointing out that "Murphy" had been present in several of the seasons connected to the still-ongoing curse (namely, that the Cubs' owner in 1908 was Charles Murphy, the 1969 Mets had a GM named Johnny Murphy and a radio announcer named Bob Murphy, and the Padres' home field in 1984 was named Jack Murphy Stadium). Additionally, the day they lost, October 21, 2015, was also the date traveled to in Back to the Future Part II, which also said that was the day they'd win the World Series, which led many to dub this the "Back To The Future" Curse.
    • In 2016, the Cubs would not only finally win the Pennant by beating the Dodgers in 6 games, but at long last win a World Series in a nail-biter against the Cleveland Indians. The latter was an especially tense victory, considering the Cubs were at one point down three games to one before they rallied back to win Games 5 and 6, and then in Game 7 took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the 8th before the Indians tied it on a Rajai Davis home run, and then the game finished the regulation nine innings tied at 6 when a rain delay set in, making it seem like their curse wasn't quite done with them (or the Indians, who at that time had the second-longest World Series championship drought and had been dogged with curse talk of their own) yet. During celebrations at Wrigley Field the following weekend, somebody brought a pet goat for people to take pictures with.
  • In Japan, The Curse of the Colonel has afflicted the Hanshin Tigers ever since fans threw a statue of Colonel Sanders into the Dotonbori River after the 1985 Japanese Championship Series.note  It was believed that the Tigers would never win another championship until the statue was recovered, but they've kept losing since it was found in 2009. Some attribute this to the fact that the glasses and left hand are still missing.


  • The annual Masters golf tournament has held a Par-3 contest the day before the actual tournament since 1960note . No winner of the contest has ever gone on to win the actual tournament that same year, and only Ben Crenshaw and Vijay Singh have ever won the main Masters tournament at any point after they had won the Par-3 contest. Raymond Floyd came the closest to beating the curse in 1990, holding a two stroke lead going into the final round before getting into a playoff with Nick Faldo and losing. Golfers can be especially superstitious for athletes: Tiger Woods found himself in a three-way tie for first in the 2004 Par-3 and opted to skip the playoff for first entirely.

Ice Hockey

  • The New York Rangers and the Curse of 1940. The Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1940, which was also the year the mortgage was paid off on Madison Square Garden, their home arenanote . Management celebrated by burning the mortgage document in the Cup itself - this was said to invoke the curse, and the Rangers did not win the Cup again for 54 years (a Stanley Cup drought record that stood until the Toronto Maple Leafs surpassed it in 2022). "1940" would haunt Rangers fans all those years, especially once fans of the New York Islanders (who won the Cup four straight seasons between 1980 and 1983) and later the New Jersey Devils (whose old home Brendan Byrnenote  seats 19,040) weaponized it as a taunt of "19-40!". It was finally broken in 1994, capped by winning both Game 6note  and Game 7 of the Eastern Confernce Finals against the Devils AND hanging on to win the Cup in seven games against the Vancouver Canucks after taking a 3-1 series lead.
    • Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals gets special mention because it seemed like the Curse would not die - the Rangers had a 1-0 lead in the closing seconds before Valeri Zelepukin of the Devils scored the tying goal with 7.7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Then Stephane Matteau scored in double overtime to send the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals.
    • It could just be that the early 90's in general was when the Curse was vicious - the '91-'92 season saw the Rangers play well, winning the Presidents Trophy (best regular season record) before losing to eventual champ Pittsburgh in the Patrick Division Finals (during which goalie Mike Richter let in a goal from a shot from the blue line). The next season things started out looking good, but then defenseman Brian Leetch suffered a neck injury during a game in December and later broke his ankle; the Rangers finished last in the division that year. And how did Leetch break his ankle? He took a taxi from the Garden after a game against the San Jose Sharks, stepped out, and slipped on an ice patch in the street.
  • No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, by far the longest such stretch in the Cup's history. This despite several close calls from various Canadian teams during that stretch: the Vancouver Canucks in 1994 and 2011, both times losing in Game 7 (and both times seeing riots in Vancouver after those losses); the Calgary Flames in 2004 (who lost in Game 7); the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 (who lost in Game 7); the Ottawa Senators in 2007 (who lost in five games); and the Canadiens in 2021 (who lost in five games). The blame for the curse seems to fall on the Canadiens, though the exact cause varies by source — some say it is retribution for Canadiens fans rioting in Montreal after their team won the Cup in 1993, causing millions of dollars in damages; others say it is for nabbing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Marty McSorley for using a stick that was too curvy in Game 2 — McSorley was given a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Montreal scored the tying goal on the power play before winning in overtime — because the team asked Montreal Forum employees about whose sticks were illegal.note 

  • Frequently Invoked by godmodders in the Destroy the Godmodder series. They take the form of harmful effects that directly impede the players, such as not being able to do the same attack/summon the same entity more than once, and in some cases, not being able to summon entities at all. Sometimes, the players actually become vulnerable.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Bestow Curse (the reversal of the Remove Curse spell) is of the "cloud of misfortune type".
    • The Geas/Quest spells force the target to follow a certain course of action.
    • Cursed items can have such fun effects as changing your species, gender, alignment or making your hair grow longer... once
    • The Book of Vile Darkness has a nice assortment of alternate Curse effects, including sterility, blindness and deafness, the next person the target is introduced to will hate the target uncontrollably forever, critical successes become critical failures, all creatures of a designated species are permanently invisible to the target, age the target one age category, and cause all the target's wealth to vanish. It also has an assortment of Greater Bestow Curse alternate effects, including permanent destruction of one of the target's magic items, give an incurable disease to a friend or family member of the target, the target's touch turns precious metals into lead, the target cannot use spells from any source, and the particularly nasty all the target's friends and family suddenly hate him/her.
    • The Book of Erotic Fantasy obviously adds STDs and impotence to the possible effects of a curse.
    • Fourth edition brings us the Warlock class power Warlocks's Curse, which allows you to curse one foe as a minor action, who then takes more damage from any Warlock power you use on them, once per round.
    • Ravenloft, in addition to making the normal D&D curse spells harder to get rid of, has "curses of vengeance" which can be invoked by any character on somebody they believe has wronged them (whether or not they've actually wronged them). They can have pretty much any effect the players and/or DM can come up with from merely annoying to deadly. They aren't guaranteed to work, though.
  • GURPS: Magic has Curse which prevents the victim from having any meaningful success. Thaumatology has Doom, for days worse and worse things happen to the target until something really horrible finally strikes.
  • Changeling: The Lost includes both Contracts that count as curses (impairing performance, affecting one's behavior, etc.) and the ability to write a one-sided pledge that will greatly muck up a person's day until conditions are met.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters features a Manifestation known as "The Curse" that results in different afflictions depending on what Key the Sin-Eater uses to power it. For instance, the afflicted may be the center of a contagious Hate Plague (or other suitable emotion) (Passion), have every mechanical object he tries to handle explode in his hands (Industrial), have nature turn against him (Primeval), become burdened by some unknown weight and unable to sleep (Grave-Dirt), or unable to communicate with anyone (Stillness).
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: Once upon a time, Caine saw that his brother Abel had produced a better sacrifice, and murdered him. God cursed him from this crime, and this is why we have vampires.
  • Vampire: The Requiem: Once upon a time, a Roman legionary stabbed the crucified son of God and was drenched by the spilled divine blood. For his treachery, he was turned into a vampire. At least that's what the Lancea et Sanctum tells everyone.
  • Mage: The Awakening: Curses are in the purview of the Fate arcana. It's hard to make a curse that is lasting, unless you clearly state to the victim the means to foil it.
  • Mummy: The Curse: See the title. But when it comes to hurling curses, the Arisen have several Utterances that have the "Curse" descriptor — and on top of that, if they're killed (temporarily, that is), they have the option to unleash such curses reflexively on the person who slew them.
  • An integral part of the setting and mechanics of Exalted. With their dying breaths, the defeated Primordials enacted the Great Curse upon the victorious Exalted Host. The exact effects of the curse vary by Exalt type, with the effects being more severe the more powerful the type, but generally revolve around With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.

  • The baronets in Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore.
  • Alberich's curse in The Ring of the Nibelung directly results in the deaths of several people and possibly causes Götterdämmerung.
  • The Nutcracker: The title character was cursed to be a... well... a nutcracker.
  • In The Book of Mormon, Elder Cunningham is reading the part of the Book where the Lord becomes displeased with the Laminites and turns their skin black, and then stops when he realizes that it's probably not the best part to be reading to Africans. The version of the Book that the Africans finally learn from Cunningham is somewhat different, including a story about God punishing Brigham Young for cutting off his daughter's clitoris by changing his nose into one.

    Video Games 
  • The Pokémon series has a move called "Curse". When a Ghost-type Pokémon uses it, it sacrifices half the user's maximum HP and saps ¼ of the opponent's HP every turn afterwards. If a non-Ghost type Pokémon uses it, the move just cuts the user's Speed stat to raise their Attack and Defense.
    • It is also a legend that Ninetales will put a 1000-year curse on anyone foolish enough to touch one of its tails.
      • This was a plot point in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team and the comic of it. The main character believes that he's cursed to be a Pokémon because in a past life he grabbed a Ninetales' tail and let his friend Gardevoir take the curse in his place (as a legend has it). It turns out that Gengar was the human who left Gardevoir to take the heat.
  • The characters Salabesh the Onyx and Jumble Murdersense in Planescape: Torment: the former overheard someone defining him as a kind person, and cursed him to defecate from his mouth and speak through his anus; even the (usually unfazed) main character reacts to that with a Big "WHAT?!".The latter cursed Reekwind to a life of uncontrollable flatulence and B.O., and will curse the Nameless One with hiccups should he speak to him.You can then give him a taste of his own medicine by learning and using one that silences him, preventing him from countering with one of his own.
  • Some have pointed out an interesting pattern with the game Eversion. Blind Lets Plays of this game seem to botch the recording on world five, forcing the letsplayer to redo it while not blind to that stage anymore. Every. Single. Time. The game may actually be cursed.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: There's one pertaining the red/blue bubbles from the Second Quest. Touching a red one disables Link's sword until the player locates and touches a blue one.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past:
      • Anyone who enters the Dark World is transformed into a form reminiscent of what's inside their heart. Which doesn't explain why Link turns into a bunny. The seven maidens sent into the Dark World to break the seal on it are cursed to turn into crystals. Carrying a special pearl allows Link to ward off the curse.
      • A tiny demon curses Link to only use half of his magic power per spell. In other words, the demon's "curse" turns out to be extremely beneficial.
      • In the Nintendo Power comic version, people who enter the Dark Realm change into monsters when they lose control of their emotions, and those who can't control them turn into monsters permanently. Link eventually gets his under control and it stops affecting him, but he meets an archer named Roam who eventually succumbs.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask:
      • Link is cursed to become a Deku Scrub by Skull Kid in the game's prologue.
      • If he touches a Blue Bubble, he is "jinxed" to be unable to draw his sword for a period of time.
      • Kafei gets turned into a child by Skull Kid, right before he's about to marry his fiance Anju. Link has to go through a subquest to get them back together. The end of the game never shows if he broke the curse, but he's never shown during his wedding and the point of view is much higher than that of a child. In the manga retelling, the Kafei subplot is revealed to be a Karmic Transformation brought on by Kafei picking fun of Skull Kid's age... hence Skull Kid turning him into a kid as well.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Ganon sends a powerful attack that not only destroys Greatfish Isle, but also curses the entire Great Sea into an endless night with rain and storms. It's liften when Link manages to reunite all Goddess Pearls (he has two by the time he arrives the destroyed island, so he only needs to look for the third).
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap: Ezlo, in the game's backstory, was turned into a hat by his former apprentice Vaati.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Being in the realm of Twilight turns him into a wolf. Later, he is cursed to turn into a wolf by Zant, even when in the World of Light. It's also revealed that Midna herself used to be a Twili, but was cursed into the form of an imp by Zant.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Demise forever dooms Link's and Zelda's reincarnations to face an everlasting cycle of his hatred taking form and wreaking havoc on the world, essentially causing every other game in the series to happen.
    • The Nintendo Adventure Book The Crystal Trap features Ganon cursing all three pieces of Triforce to turn to crystal. Since the Triforce of Courage is in Link's heart, this meant he is trapped in crystal as well. Guided by the reader's choices, Zelda has 24 hours to find the three ingredients required to shatter the crystal before the spell becomes permanent.
  • In Monster Girl Quest, if the Elf Queen beats the protagonist, she curses him with infertility before abandoning him in the wilds.Since all monsters want from humans is to mate with them, he'll basically get captured and tossed away until he starves.
  • The Curse Of The Meldrews in the Interactive Fiction game Curses (appropriate, no?). Not so much subverted as trivialized, since the Curse involves never quite being able to finish anything.
  • The Curse of Monkey Island revolves around Guybrush trying to save Elaine from a cursed ring that transformed her into a gold statue.
  • Not surprisingly, this shows up in Final Fantasy a few times.
    • The recurring spell "Curse" appears in multiple games. Effects across the games include reduced stats, preventing limit break use, stopping job changes in battle, inflicting a variety of other status ailments, stopping the DMW wheel, or reducing the amount of successful interrupts by a character while increasing the number of successful interrupts by an enemy.
    • Another recurring spell, "Doom", starts a timer that kills the afflicted character when the timer runs out. In Final Fantasy VIII, the Curse spell actually inflicts Doom, though the Curse status ailment is a separate entity.
    • In Final Fantasy, the prince of the elves was cursed by the dark elf Astos with eternal sleep. Only an herb from the witch Matoya can wake him. Unfortunately, she's blind and needs a special eye to see...and Astos stole it from her.
    • In Final Fantasy III, Djinn curses the kingdom of Sasune and turns everyone in the kingdom of Sasune to ghosts. Two future party members, Ingus and Refia, missed getting cursed because neither was around when the curse hit. The only way to lift the curse is with Princess Sara's Mythril Ring, which needs to seal the Djinn inside and then be purified.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics, the character Reis was cursed into the form of a dragon when she took on a curse intended for her lover, Beowulf. Because The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, she also appears to have no memory of her life as a human either, though the dragon Reis still joins the party when Beowulf rescues her. He eventually changes her back when the party recovers the Cancer Zodiac Stone and she joins the party as a "Dragonkin" (Dragoner in the PS1 version) with all her dragon skills.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, Cid's wife Hilda turns him into an Oglop as punishment for cheating on her and runs off in the only non-Mist powered airship in the world. This turns out to be supremely bad timing since Kuja has just manipulated Alexandria into attacking Lindblum. He later tries to undo it but ends up turning into a frog instead. Eventually they have to track his wife down and convince her to undo her curse. Wouldn't you know it, Kuja also kidnapped her since he needed her ship. When she's finally rescued, she changes Cid back, but threatens to curse him again if he ever acts unfaithfully again.
    • The Tonberries in Final Fantasy XIV are actually Lalafells that were cursed by a monster as it inflicted a contagious plague on them upon dying. The curse made the Tonberries become filled with rancor and anger, effectively becoming hostile. The source of the rancor comes from the Tonberry King in the Wanderer's Palace. Slaying him restores the Tonberries emotions back to normal, but they are still stuck in their Tonberry form. In the hard mode version of the same dungeon, the Tonberries are captured by the Mamool Ja as slaves and you're tasked with saving them. The Scholar job quest lines also has a friendly Tonberry who aids you.
  • King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne: In the AGD Fan Remake, The Father is exposed and defeated, but pulls a One-Winged Angel and puts a parting shot on Graham, a retcon explaining some events of the other games:
    The Father: Thrice now I curse, and from the first, your family shall feel the worse. Soon shall you see, they'll surely be, in the most dire jeopardy. (Referencing Alexander's enslavement and Rosella's nearly becoming a Human Sacrifice to a dragon in game 3) Then, as your foe, 'tis I who'll sew, the spell to cause heart to slow. (Referencing Graham's heart attack in the 4th game) And for my shame, for you the same, o'er Daventry your heirs shan't rein! (Referencing the 6th and 7th games, but invoking a Fanon theory on the latter)
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Late in the games, players can start finding armor with powerful stats and malevolent designs, like of skulls and demons. However, this armor is usually cursed, and will inflict negative status effects on your character, like increased weakness to some or all kinds of attacks or even losing a turn in battle. This armor is also impossible to remove normally, usually requiring a trip to church.
    • Dragon Quest II: Hargon really likes his curses. He curses the entire castle of Moonbrooke after its fall, turns the princess into a dog, and as the heroes draw closer to his kingdom, he curses the Prince of Cannock to become bedridden, prompting a side quest to cure him (Remake only. Furthermore, you can beat the final boss without him, hard as it may be).
    • The premise of Dragon Quest VIII is that everyone in the kingdom of Trodain except the main character has been cursed by the villainous Dhoulmagus. King Trode is now a little troll-like creature, Princess Medea is a horse, and everyone else is a statue. The main character escaped the curse because a memory wiping curse that was cast on him when he was younger had the beneficial side effect of rendering him immune to other curses.
    • Dragon Quest IX:
      • The only thing the Gleeban priests know of Stellestria is the unending curses she produced until her dying day.
        "May the lands from which I was banished fall barren, and The Empire be engulfed in war and sorrow. May those who took arms against me be hounded for all eternity, and feel the pain of death ten thousand times over."
      • The Ondor Cliffs north of Gleeba are dotted with graves — these are the graves of Stellestria's enemies, and its suggested that each of the graves' epitaphs is a curse against Stellestria in turn, some of which are pretty powerful in their own right. The first one you read appears to have been scratched into the stone with claws.
    • In Dragon Quest Builders, set in a What If? scenario of Dragon Quest I where the Dragonlord tricked the Hero into joining him and giving him "half the world", the villain cursed humanity into forgetting how to craft and build, which happened whenever they set to build something, effectively sending them back to the stone age and leaving them to struggle in the desolated land; and when confronted by the Builder, he claims that building goes against the true nature of humankind. As the Builder, you're responsible to re-enlighten humankind and (by your own choice) paying back to the Dragonlord.
  • The Game of the Ages: You must fight two curses, one on your own town and one on a race you visit.
  • In Beyond the Beyond, super-strong knight Samson faces off against the sorceress Ramue (one half of the Big Bad Duumvirate) early on in the game. She throws a dark magic-infused scarf at him, which he dodges at first, but ultimately wraps around him and saddles him with a curse so powerful that ordinary priests can't remove it. The curse sticks with Samson until the party ascends to Heaven and personally asks Arawn (the God of this setting) to have it lifted.
  • World of Warcraft: Warlocks have a variety of curses they can inflict on a mob or character including the Curses of Agony, Doom, Elements, Exhaustion, Recklessness, Tongues, and Weakness.
  • Heroes of the Storm has a map dedicated to this trope: Cursed Hallow. The Raven Lord demands tribute and the team that collects three will earn his favor. He will curse the opposing team reducing their minions to 1 Hit Point and preventing their towers from attacking.
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse:
    • As indicated by the title, the game revolves around one. Specifically, the Pirate Master's curse that allows him to take control of his crew and those who use his weapons, which is the reason why Risky is willing to work with Shantae.
    • The game also mentions that ancient curses are one of the things you must watch out for when handling relics as poor Barracuda Joe found out when he reads a mummy's curse that petrifies anyone who reads it.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening: Curses are a part of the school of Dark Magic. Technically a "curse" is anything that causes a change in the natural order and as Tharja points out, this can cut both ways. At one point she "curses" an illness spreading through the camp to be easily recovered from.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II:
    • The Curse skill inflicts a multipurpose but short-lived debuff on a creature and can also corrupt or exacerbate the negative effects of certain environmental features. Cursed fire becomes Necrofire, cursed steam damages creatures and inflicts a Revive Kills Zombie effect, and so on.
    • Various Evil Sorcerer NPCs have access to more powerful and dramatic curses, like Braccus Rex, who doomed a group of heretics to exist as eternally burning pigs. PCs can't match these feats but can often undo them with the Bless skill.
  • The ending sequence of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III provides The Reveal that all of the nation of Erebonia is under ancient curse which causes normally decent people to behave in war-like ways, stirring up hatred and fighting instincts. The final game in this line, Cold Steel IV, delves into this in much greater detail
  • The Witches' Tea Party: The Prequel to Trick & Treat. An in-game book states that monsters such as witches, are defined as such by having curses, which fits with the facts of Trick & Treat, since a vampire, a type of monster, was cursed to be such. Each witch also has their own curse, such as:
    • Stephanie's cursed with intermittent silence.
    • Charlotte's cursed with loneliness.
    • Vanessa's cursed to not be famous.
  • Each of the Accursed Knights in Puyo Puyo!! Quest has one from the weapons they wield.
    • Hilda laughs uncontrollably, who was previously The Stoic.
    • Eldur's speech is delayed, which is reflected in his chain counting being one chain late than usual.
    • Fried has a Verbal Tic of "pyon★" (yes, including the star), which supposedly clashes against his womanizing behavior.
    • Wacht always hears bug buzzing noises when he's falling asleep, turning him into an insomniac.
    • Mappela is constantly Covered in Gunge, making her an involuntary klutz.
  • In Twisted Wonderland, Vil Schoenheit's unique magic, "Fairest One of All", lets him cast a curse of his choosing on any object he touches which will activate on anyone who touches the cursed object, and even he cannot lift the curse until the Curse Escape Clause is fulfilled. In Chapter 5, he curses the snacks brought to the VDC training camp so that anyone who eats them (thereby defying his prescribed camp diet) will be paralysed until morning.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night introduces three types of magecraft that are deemed curses. These include Rin's Gandr, which decreases the physical health of the victim; Sakura's bounded fields, which act as the basis of her offensive and defensive magecraft; and the geis, which if willingly entered into compels the magus to obey certain conditions or restrictions.
    • Angra Mainyu is an existence that consists solely of curses given the physical form of black mud, pouring unendingly from the Holy Grail. Only a few individuals are strong enough to resist the curses; all others are either consumed or warped on touching the black mud.
    • Gae Bolg and Gae Buidhe are both cursed spears. Any wound they deliver is cursed to never heal properly so long as the spear exists.


  • Cursed Princess Club: As the title says, every member of the club is suffering from a magical curse put upon them, for which there has yet to be a cure.
    • The President, Princess Calperina of the Polygon Kingdom, AKA “Prez”, was stabbed by a syringe containing were-spider venom. Now every month, during her “monthly cycle”, she transforms into a huge man-eating spider.
    • Princess Abbi of the Neon Kingdom was given a box that was supposed to give her eternal happiness, just as long as she never opened it. So, of course, she opened it. The box punished her by giving her the physical appearance of an old lady at age fifteen, scaring off her crush and making her a pariah among her schoolmates.
    • Princess Monika of the Quilt Kingdom was kidnapped as a child by a wizard and turned into a crow to become his pet. She was rescued, but the curse could not be lifted entirely. She retains her human form most of the time, but when she gets nervous, she turns back into a crow.
    • Princess Syrah was given a box of enchanted chocolates by a boyfriend who suspected her of cheating on him. The chocolates were laced with a “Pinocchio’s Curse” that makes her nose grow when she lies. As it turns out, Syrah really was cheating on her boyfriend, so I don’t think he felt too guilty about cursing her.
    • The King and Queen of the Lace Kingdom made a Deal with the Devil to save their dying kingdom. After their daughter, Princess Jolie was born, the devil man came to collect. He wanted the finest of what they had—their daughter’s bright, beautiful eyes. Despite the King and Queen’s best efforts, he took Jolie’s eyes, and in their place, he left dark, empty, bottomless holes that also served as pocket dimensions. On the plus side, the holes do make great storage on the go.
    • Princess Nell of the Stripe Kingdom has the power to predict the future. Instead of praising her gift, her Abusive Parents locked her away in the dungeon and exploited her curse for their own benefit.
    • Princess Thermidora used to be a lobster princess who lived under the sea, courted by a handsome lobster baron. An evil sea cucumber was jealous and turned Thermidora into a human to force her out of the ocean and away from her love so the sea cucumber could steal him. Now Thermidora has the form of a human, but since the spell was incomplete, she still has her big red lobster claws.
    • Prince Saffron of the Foliage Kingdom, The One Guy in the club, had his hand cursed by a sorcerer. Now the hand has a mind of it’s own, and will rarely submit to what Saffron wants.
    • Princess Aurelia of the Gilded Kingdom has a “lovingly overprotective stepfather” who gifted her a cursed necklace before she went to sleepaway camp, making anything that touches her mouth disintegrate, so no boys would want to kiss her. Of course, he didn’t count on the curse staying even after she took the necklace off.
    • Aurelia’s best friend, Princess Renee of the Velvet Kingdom, was caught gossiping with her sister about a witch, by the subject of their chatter herself. The witch cursed Renee to spill frogs out of her mouth whenever she talks. Her sister got cursed, too, but instead of frogs, she spills out gold coins, so while Renee is the Black Sheep of her family, her sister gets invited to every party. Talk about unfairness among sisters.
    • Prez’s ex-fiancé, Prince Whitney of the Monochrome Kingdom, survived her attack on him as a were-spider and booked it back to his own castle. His brother decided to welcome him back by attempting to curse him into a tiger with a tainted drink, then kill and skin him, and wear his pelt. Luckily for him, Whitney spit out most of the drink. He didn’t turn into a tiger, but he did get black tiger stripes on his face.
    • Though Princess Gwendolyn of the Pastel Kingdom does not seem to believe she has a curse, since she has been the way she is for as long as she can remember, her friends in the club start to suspect she may be cursed after all after seeing a picture of Gwen with her family. Gwen’s older sisters, Maria and Lorena, are both Princess Classics who are so beautiful that birds do their hair and flowers spring up wherever they sleep. Her twin brother, Jamie, is so gorgeous that he literally sparkles and Even the Guys Want Him. Meanwhile, Gwen has sickly green skin, stringy green hair, fangs, demon-like eyes, and cannot smile at someone without looking frightening. Of course, the children have an overprotective dad who has kept them all locked away from the rest of the world for most of their lives, so none of them ever realized that the way Gwen looked was abnormal. Because of the differences between her and the rest of her siblings, the other members of the CPC start to wonder if she may be cursed after all and just not know it yet.
  • El Goonish Shive: The Dewitchery Diamond was made specifically to remove curses that affect one's body, and works by creating a permanent clone of anyone who touches it, AND transfer the curse to it. The original will be able to reassume the cursed form at will (as well as any other forms he was forced into for the next few hours), while the clone can spread the curse to others. What constitutes a curse can vary, and the Diamond will work its effect on anyone who touches it while not in their original form. It's pointed out that this whole thing was the most ridiculous attempt to undo a curse anyone had ever heard of.
    Raven: Every properly trained wizard has heard of Abraham, the idiot apprentice who recklessly enchanted a massive diamond instead of selling it to pay someone more skilled to fix his cursed noble friend.
  • MYth: A Promise has Gaia, Mother Earth herself, cursing Zeus to never know true love. And because it's Gaia's, the "prank" is impossible to fight or break. The curse is Zeus sees an illusion of Metis on girls and his lust controls his mind until he possess them. When he's back to his senses, he feels guilty, empty and lost.
  • Erika and the Princes in Distress: Furious that Prince Aurel banned her from the chatospital and confiscated her collection of panties, Morphine placed a curse on him: if he ever smells the scent of a certain flower, that is extremely common in this kingdom, he will die immediately. Feto altered the curse so that the Prince will only fall into a deep slumber from which he could be awaken by the kiss of a Princess, so Morphine made so his breath would smell unbearably awful as well.
  • Goblins:
    • The Dreaded, insane paladin known as Kore is said to be under a curse, though he considers it a blessing.
    • Forgath meets two adventurers, Idle and Bowst, who by their own admission are covered in curses from having tackled a dungeon crawl called "The Cursewalk". Idle mentions that the rabbit ears she now sports are just a minor one among those. As for Bowst, he's compelled to hit himself in the face every time he says the word "what" (thus forcing him to wear padded mittens to soften the blows), and he's also linked to a cursed sword (a very rude Talking Weapon) which he can't get far away without taking damage.
  • In Meaty Yogurt, everyone born in the town of Middleville is cursed to die there. They can still leave their hometown, but in the end, they will always return.
  • After every episode of Cthulhu Slippers the writer signs off the news post by wishing a curse upon the reader's enemies. These curses are almost all incredibly weak sauce.
  • During the battle against Servant Chaos in Sailor Moon Cosmos Arc, the senshi fall under a curse cast by the brainwashed Chibiusa and Endymion: they're only human at nighttime. During the day they're ghosts that no one can remember. This causes some complications, as they aren't powerful enough to Sailor Teleport to Elysian what with their power stagnated due to not using them in centuries, so they have to get to the portal to Elysian by sundown or they'll drown in the ocean.
  • Once in Boy and Dog, Rowan's parent (it's unknown which one) tells him a story about a troll who curses some villagers into thinking everything tastes like liver.
  • #Blessed: Turns out being selected by the prophecy isn't as nice as it sounds. If the contract is broken, everyone involved dies. And while Joanna did theoretically have a choice, the gods didn't.
  • Unsounded: Roger Foi-Hellick is under the Etalarche Curse, which makes all Aldish castes, save the soud who are remnants of a prior people not reshaped by the Dammakhert, hate him with mindless murderous intensity no matter their prior relationship.
  • Destroyer of Light: Persephone threatens to use her powers as a Fertility Goddess to curse Zeus with impotence for insulting her mother. He's honestly impressed with her audacity, but warns her not to push her luck.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Techwolf looks like a seven-foot werewolf, as does his father, all because of a witch's curse on an ancestor.
    • There's also the curse worked by Fey in "Christmas Elves" to karmically repay her enemies for all the evil they have done. Hekate manages to put her portion of it off with magical defenses of her own (and by running to the Necromancer for protection), but the curse is still out there waiting for her to come back out...
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-1510 who, when alive, was a Roman legionnaire cursed by King Jugurtha for not helping him escape capture. The curse caused him to wake up with his body rotting away, leaving his mind/soul linked to his helmet.
  • Vatheon: Of many variations, thanks to curse weeks! Enjoy your random Zombie Mermaids, Ghost Pirates, and random amnesia!
  • In the Strong Bad Email "Too Cool", Señor Cardgage's character video curses Homestar and Strong Bad so their lips and voice change whenever they say the word "tertiary". It takes a "7 or 8 years later" Flash Forward before a situation comes up where they need to say "tertiary".
  • Dreamscape: In the flashback in "A Curse or a Blessing", Melinda placed a curse on Dylan that would take the form of a creature that would try and kill him, but if it is killed, it would come back as a stronger form the next day based on how he feels before he falls asleep. The only way to "beat" the curse is to convince it to stop killing you.

    Western Animation 
  • Prince Strong Heart in Lady Lovely Locks is cursed to live as a dog. He can transform back into a human for brief periods of time, but only so long as Lady doesn't see him.
  • Several have appeared in the Total Drama series:
    • Beth in Total Drama Island curses her team, the Screaming Gophers, with a tiki idol she takes from Boney Island, causing them to do increasingly worse in challenges until they learn of it and vote her off.
    • Animal Lover DJ believes that he's cursed himself to hurt any animal that gets near him after accidentally destroying the remains of an Egyptian mummified dog in the first episode of World Tour.
    • In Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race, Josee curses herself and her partner Jacques by taking a Hawaiian lava rock to use as a good luck charm, causing them to do increasingly worse in the race until they manage to return it to Hawaii.
  • American Dad!: One episode has Stan yell at an elderly man for holding up a line, arrogantly declaring that the elderly are useless, and young people like him actually have ambitions (for him, climbing Kilimanjaro) to get on with. Fittingly, Stan is cursed to rapidly age into an old man. After climbing Kilimanjaro (expecting to be transformed back), he concedes that being old doesn't mean your life is over... which turns him into a young black man. Stan then realises his last interaction with a black person was "not positive".
  • Phineas and Ferb: The episode "My Fair Goalie" reveals Ferb had been under the effects of the "emu curse" - he held the soccer ball while a herd of emus carried off the assistant coach, cursing him to never be on a winning team again. To break it, a boy in a sunday bonnet has to sing the note E flat about high C before him.
  • In the world of Codename: Kids Next Door, a smart candy hunter knows that "a good candy taken in greed will always turn sour". Which leads to quite a few instances of stupid candy hunters paying a price for being selfish:
    • The first appearance of Abby's rival, Heinrich von Marzipan, involved Heinrich swiping her "blurpleberry supreme" in order to loot the tomb of King Tutakhandy. After reading the part of the inscription that said, "With the crown you shall control the sarcophagus", he disregarded the rest, refusing to listen to Numbuh Five when she tried to warn him that the other half was, "but refuse to share and only taste asparagus". Naturally, he found out that part the hard way, but the curse only lasted so long as he had the crown, which Abby took from him.
    • He didn't get off quite as easy the next time. After trying to turn a pet rabbit into a chocolate one via a chocolate volcano, he fell into the choco-lava himself and was left for dead. However, he was actually turned into living chocolate, who could turn anything else into chocolate via touch. It was practically heaven for him, until he started craving foods other than chocolate, which he now couldn't have. The KND was able to cure him, but he didn't learn...
    • Operation LICORICE had two curses in one episode:
      • First, the candy pirate Black John Licorice discovered an island of red licorice trees, and selfishly chopped it all down and carted it away. The horrible curse he and his crew was punished with turned the licorice itself black (which is, to folks like him, inedible) and turned them into undead skeletons made of licorice, who could only function at night. Eventually, they sought a gypsy fortuneteller who gave them a magic seed that could restore the island, but they were unable to plant it before dawn. which led to the second curse...
      • The island was eventually found by Stickbeard and Heinrich (again) and Heinrich foolishly took the seed, causing Black John's crew to pursue him endlessly. Leading to the actual plot of the episode.
    • The biggest curse involving Heinrich came with Operation: CARAMEL, which explained the "Guatemala Incident" he had often referred to. As it turned out, Heinrich had once been a girl named Henrietta, meaning "Heinrich" was a curse she had been afflicted with since the aforementioned incident. In order to create pieces of ancient golden caramel, a magic ritual was performed that took away the most valued quality of a person present and turned that quality into five pieces of delicious caramel with flavor depending on the quality taken. Henrietta fell victim to the ritual's side effect, which transformed her into Heinrich, but before the curse could be reversed, she selfishly ate all of her caramels, causing her to lose the quality she valued the most. Knowing that Henrietta could not control her greed, Abigail left her behind, and Henrietta blamed her for becoming cursed. (Although as it turned out, Abigail had been keeping Henrietta's last piece, which enables the curse to finally be broken, and the two reconcile.)
  • Spongebob Squarepants: In one episode a sea hag places a curse upon The Krusty Krab so that no customers turn up for many days. It turns out the curse was just a closed sign.
  • Discussed in The Magic School Bus episode where the class goes to the rainforest to try to figure out why the cocoa tree they bought for Ms. Frizzle isn't producing cocoa beans. They arrive to meet Inspector 47, who is in charge of overseeing the part of the rainforest Ms. Frizzle's tree is in and has kept the area mud-free — 47 believes his co-worker Inspector 46 is jealous of how clean 47 has kept his section of the rainforest and placed a curse on the trees in 47's section to not produce cocoa beans. It turns out to be 47's fault for the lack of cocoa beans, though not on purpose — he had laid down artificial turf and chased the native insects and warthogs away to keep the ground clean and mud-free, but doing so stopped insects from coming around to breed which also stopped them from providing the pollination necessary for the cocoa trees to flower and produce beans.

    Real Life 
  • King Tut's tomb was opened in 1922. It's been long stated that a curse on the tomb killed everyone involved, though such stories detailing the events are rather exaggerated and often flat out untrue. Nearly a hundred years later, whether you believe that it was involved with a curse or not, we can confirm that everyone involved in the event did die eventually.
  • Older Than Dirt: Mesopotamian kings inscribed very elaborate curses on their stelae, threatening the hatred of the gods and long lists of nasty misfortunes upon any future king who overturned their decrees.
  • Some "Curses" work in real life. Although there is nothing magical or harmful about them, they can be quite effective.
    • "I curse you to blink your eyes and control your breathing manually!" See?
    • "May the song Final Countdown by Europe play in your head!"
  • Some Ancient Egyptian tombs threaten curses of misfortune and divine retribution upon would-be desecrators. This example from an artisan's tomb ends with "Anyone who does anything bad to my tomb, then (the) crocodile, (the) hippopotamus, and the lion will eat him." Did they mean "or"?
  • William Shakespeare wrote a "do not disturb" curse which is inscribed over his grave at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon (adjusted to modern spelling):
    Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
    To dig the dust enclosed here
    Blest be the man that spares these stones
    and curst be he that moves my bones.
    • The curse was obviously effective, as Shakespeare's remains stayed in the tomb to this day (as opposed to the usual procedure, in which a body would be removed in a couple of decades to free up the space for the next corpse).
  • Most societies, particularly animist ones, believe in curses of various sorts. For instance, throughout the Middle East, you'll find women wearing or carrying blue eyeball charms to protect against the evil eye.
  • One of the most widely-believed traditional curses in folklore, that of impotency, can be quite effective provided its intended victim is at least slightly inclined to believe in curses, and knows it has been applied to him. This isn't supernatural: rather, a man's feelings of anxiety about the alleged "curse" can work to suppress the physiological effects of arousal, in a feedback loop that gets stronger every time the victim attempts to become aroused and fails, thus "proving" the curse's efficacy. Rituals performed to "break the curse" will often seem just as effective in such cases, as it alleviates the anxiety which is really to blame for The Loins Sleep Tonight.
  • Touted as the "Kennedy Curse", several tragedies have happened to various members of the Kennedy family.
    • Most notably, John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in 1963 at age 46.
    • Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, just as he looked on track to win the Democratic nomination.
    • These were not the first tragedies to befall the Kennedy family however. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr and Kathleen Kennedy both died in plane-related incidents 20 years earlier.
    • 2 new-born Kennedy babies (Patrick and Arabella) died as well.
    • Rosemary Kennedy, the eldest daughter of Joseph Sr, was lobotomised in 1941 to fix her mental instability, but the process only made things even worse, and she was institutionalised for the rest of her life.
    • Poor Ted Kennedy. In 1964, he was in a brutal plane crash where he suffered from from a broken back, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and internal bleeding. He lived.
      • In 1969, he accidentally drove his car off a bridge. The incident was controversial because he escaped while his passenger (his secretary Mary Jo Kopechne) drowned, and he was given a suspended sentence for failing to report the accident in time. Had his reputation not been tarnished by the incident, he might well have become President.
      • He finally passed away in 2009 of brain cancer.
    • David Kennedy, one of Robert F. Kennedy's sons, fatally overdosed in 1984.
    • David's younger brother Michael LeMoyne Kennedy was fatally injured in a skiing accident in 1997.
    • John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash along with his wife Carolyn and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette in 1999.
    • More recently, Mary Richardson Kennedy committed suicide in 2011.
    • Yet again another member passed away in 2019: Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter Saoirse died of suspected overdose at age 22.
    • And yet another two members died in 2020, as another one of Robert's granddaughters, Maeve Kennedy McKean, passed away alongside her son due to accidental drowning whilst trying to retrieve a ball which had been swept out to sea.
  • It is speculated in martial arts circles that there is a curse on Bruce Lee and his family, as both he and his son Brandon died young (Bruce at 32, Brandon at 29).
  • Tecumseh's Curse, which also has many other names, was allegedly a curse placed by Native American chief Tecumseh upon the American presidency that would cause anyone elected in a year ending in 0 to die while in office. Because U.S. presidential elections occur every 4 years, this means a dead president every 20 years. And for the longest time, this did happen:
    • 1840: William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia one month after inauguration.
    • 1860: We all know what happened to Abraham Lincoln.
    • 1880: James Garfield was assassinated one year into his term.
    • 1900: Much like Garfield above, William McKinley was also shot dead shortly into his term.
    • 1920: Warren G. Harding died in 1923 from a stroke or heart attack.
    • 1940: Franklin D. Roosevelt died a few months after winning his fourth election.
    • 1960: We all know what happened to John F. Kennedy.
    • 1980: Ronald Reagan was shot and almost died, but survived.
    • 2000: Some would say 9/11 was an assassination attempt on George W. Bush, as the Capitol was an alleged target of United 93note . Also, on May 10, 2005, Bush survived an assassination attempt when Vladimir Arutyunian threw a live grenade at his during a speech in Georgia, but it failed to detonate. However, like Reagan, Bush finished two terms alive and well. It's been speculated that Reagan's survival ended up breaking the curse.
    • The only exception to the above list was Zachary Taylor, who was elected in 1848 and died in 1850, but those who believe in the curse would argue it applies to him as well, since Taylor was a veteran of the very war where the U.S. fought Tecumseh (and died in a year ending in 0, even if he wasn't elected on one).
  • One of the most famous curses is that supposedly uttered by Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of The Knights Templar, when he was burned at stake in Paris in 1314. The two men responsible for his death, King Philip IV (called "the Fair") of France and Pope Clement V, died within a year. Philip's royal house, the Capetians, became extinct in the male line with his three sons (Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV), leading to a Succession Crisis and The Hundred Years War. Philip IV and his sons are thus popularly known as les rois maudits (the cursed kings) in France. Some like to believe that Jacques de Molay's curse continued to wreak havoc on the kings of France, as the following two dynasties also ended with three brothers ruling in succession, the Valois with Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III and the Bourbons with Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X. Conspiracy theorists on the other hand like to believe that the Knights Templar plotted revenge against the kings of France, morphed into the Freemasons and masterminded The French Revolution.
  • There's said to be a curse around the lost treasure of Montezuma, supposedly buried in the mythical Aztec homeland near modern Kanab, Utah by Aztec warriors to hide it from the Spaniards. Quite a few treasure hunters have gone looking for it over the years, but their efforts were stymied by a series of accidents and disasters, from rattlesnakes to constant equipment failure to panic attacks in seasoned, professional divers plumbing a lake thought to be over the burial site. A good few locals are convinced that there is treasure there, and that the curse will get anyone who tries to take it.
  • The curse of Timur the Lame is an relatively obscure World War II legend. Its said that Soviet scientists discovered his tomb, exhumed his body and found a inscription that says "whoever opens it shall unleash a worse invader than I". Two days afterwards, Adolf Hitler began Operation Barbarossa which resulted in thousands of Soviet deaths being the proverbial "invader" worse than Timur. Furthermore, the legend claims that the tide only began to turn after the tomb was restored and Timur's body was buried with proper Islamic rituals, having taken place when the Battle of Stalingrad was on. As such many superstitious Muslims from Central Asia believe that Timur's curse changed the course of history.
  • There is a legend surrounding "The Hope Diamond" in that whomever has possessed it, will be hit with a horrific fate. It is said that the diamond was cursed by the Hindu goddess Sita, as the diamond had been pried from a statue of her, where it served as her eye. The thief who had stolen it, for example, was mauled to pieces by a pack of wild dogs, another a Russian Prince was killed in the Russian revolution, another had been thrown from a precipice alongside his wife and child, two others had committed suicide when the diamond was in their possession, the list goes on.


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Hand of Galochio

It's said that a rival family of psychics cursed the Aquato Family to "die in water", manifesting as a hand out to get Raz.

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Main / Curse

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