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Cursed Item

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Creepy Old Man: Take this object, but beware; it carries a terrible curse!
Homer: Ooh, that's bad.
Creepy Old Man: But it comes with a free frogurt!
Homer: That's good!
Creepy Old Man: The frogurt is also cursed.

After a hard encounter spent hack-and-slashing some goblins, you rummage through their loot and find a suspiciously ornate-looking treasure chest. And what should be inside but a Slashmaster +15 sword? That's a whole +1 better than your precious Slashmaster +14! Eager to try out your new find, you toss aside your old sword and hoist the new one over your head. Suddenly, like the divine voice of the gods, a lightning bolt crackles down out of the clear sky and strikes you. No, it doesn't give you new powers — it just really, really hurts. And it doesn't stop. It seems every time you lift this magnificent new sword above chest height, you invite a painful shock, anytime, anywhere — even in the depths of a dungeon surrounded by rock a mile beneath the surface. Also, you can't drop it. Ever. Especially not to pick up another sword that won't shock you any time you try to raise it.

Looks like you should've gotten that sword identified before you equipped it — it's clearly a Cursed Item!

Cursed items, as the name implies, are objects which have been cursed to inflict some deleterious effect on whatever poor schmuck tries to make use of them. There are as many different kinds of curse as there are cursed items, but the effects generally fall into one of two categories:

  • Worse Than Useless: The cursed item does the exact opposite of what it's supposed to: a cursed sword that refuses to cut anything (or inflicts wounds on its wielder), cursed armor that fails to protect from harm (or makes inflicted harm even worse), a cursed bag that devours anything placed inside, etc.
  • Side Effects: The cursed item functions as expected, but carries some additional harmful baggage, e.g. a magic talisman that lets the wearer breathe underwater but also makes them irresistible to sharks and piranha.

Some clever individuals may figure out ways to mitigate the effects of a curse or even turn it to their benefit, but a useful curse is still a curse!

Cursed items may come into existence in a myriad of different ways as well. Some items become cursed through deliberate malicious intent, like magical booby traps disguised as legitimate treasure to cripple or kill unsuspecting or greedy adventurers, or precious possessions turned into deadly detriments as a form of punishment or revenge. Others may be the result of well-intentioned magical effects with unintended side effects, like a cloak that keeps its wearer warm to the point of setting them on fire. Occasionally, a curse may be designed to afflict everyone but the item's intended wielder; a popular option is for such items to become impossibly heavy when not wielded by The Chosen One. They may also comprise the entire stock at The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday. When these items are narratively significant, they may prove to be an Artifact of Death or even an Artifact of Doom.

Cursed items also rarely if ever betray any outward sign of their cursed nature. In tabletop RPGs and video games, identifying items will often reveal any curses, though particularly nasty curses may resist identification (or even outright misidentify themselves as different, beneficial effects). Getting rid of cursed items can also be tricky, as they often become impossible to remove or drop once the curse takes hold — unless there's a priest or some holy water handy to break the curse (which often breaks the item as well).

A subtrope of Curses in general. Often the Evil Twin of Clingy Macguffin. Compare Poison Mushroom and Bad Luck Charm.

If you came here expecting an article about a Tower Defense game with a Villain Protagonist, please see Cursed Treasure.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Near the beginning of Slayers, Lina sells a magic dagger to a curio shop. The dagger curses whoever draws it into a Berserker Rage. When the shop keeper drew the dagger, he begins attacking Lina and Gourry, who are forced to knock him out to stop the curse.
  • The title characters of Those Who Hunt Elves develop a reputation as fiends who strip elves for perverse enjoyment. So it's surprising then, when they meet an elf girl who begs them to strip her. Turns out she put on a suit of cursed armor that she can't take off, or even put down the swords that go with it. It's causing her all manner of problems, and she thinks TWHE are her only hope of removing the curse. As it happens, they have a single-use potion that can magically remove the clothes from any elf. At the end of the episode, after a much-needed shower, she realizes that she had grown so used to the curse that she misses it now, and puts the cursed armor back on.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel hero Black Knight carries the Ebony Blade, a powerful sword that was created in Arthurian times. To say this item is cursed is an understatement: The Ebony Blade, along with three other items, were forged from the Starstone, which was the Stone in which Excalibur was stuck in. However, releasing Excalibur from the stone revealed that it was actually a Cosmic Keystone that was keeping a demonic universe from invading. Merlin wanted his perfect Camelot, however, so he had the Starstone turned into four items and activated a barrier around Earth that other Sorcerer Supremes (yes, that also includes Doctor Strange) maintains. The Ebony items, including the Sword, work on the inverse of Only the Pure of Heart and drives its users into a bloodlust.

    Fan Works 
  • The ring Plagg gives Prince Adrien in Prince Charming. Every night, if Adrien is wearing the ring, he will transform into a cat-human hybrid and be stripped of his blessing of brainwashing anyone he meets into an adoring slave until the sun rises again. Notably, since Adrien wants to be cursed (as it's the only way of removing his blessing), the ring is not a Clingy MacGuffin: Adrien can choose not to wear it if he doesn't want to be a werecat for the night.
  • Curse of the DualShock has a cursed controller that traps anyone near the flash of light in the game the console it's connected to is running. In the case of this story, it's the 9 pups (Chase, Marshall, Rubble, Rocky, Skye, Zuma, Shelly, Everest, and Tracker) in Minecraft (the game their Wii U 2 is running).
  • Hanging Ten Saga: In Tiny Terrors, Evil Idols, and Surfer-Secrets, Reef finds a Haita Totem by the waterfalls, thinking it would give him good luck. Far the opposite, it has given him nothing but bad luck and refused to heed the warnings of The Kahuna until he realised it was true and had to send it back where he found it before it gets worse.

  • These turn up in quite a few different Fighting Fantasy books, where picking up a cursed item will permanently reduce one of your stats (usually Skill).

  • The Sea of Flames diamond in All the Light We Cannot See. It brings immortality to the person who possesses it, but brings bad luck and grief to the people around that person, the people that the possessor cares about.
  • In The Elric Saga, Michael Moorcock has his doomed hero Elric dependent on hard-to-obtain alchemical preparations to maintain his strength and vitality against his debilitating sickness. Then Elric discovers Stormbringer — The Black Sword which does away with the need for drugs. But this comes at an awful price; every time Stormbringer kills, it sucks the soul-energy from the victim to obliterate them and sustain Elric. And the sword isn't fussy about who it kills: one by one, Elric's closest friends and lovers die to keep him alive. The sword is also a corrupting influence on Elric's soul.
  • Many of these are mentioned throughout the Harry Potter series, and a major part of Arthur Weasley's job involves tracking down seemingly ordinary objects that have been cursed to attack Muggles. Cursed objects and artifacts seen in the series have included:
    • A cursed hat that made Bill's ears shrivel up.
    • A pair of shoes that eats the wearer's feet and are impossible to remove, given to a random minor character seen at St. Mungo's Hospital.
    • Harry's Nimbus 2000 becomes one during a Quidditch game, when a curse is placed on it that causes the broom to try to knock Harry off.
    • A necklace seen in Borgin and Burke's that is said to have caused the deaths of many owners. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Katie Bell is given the necklace and touches an absolutely miniscule part of it, leaving her catatonic and comatose for months. Fortunately, Snape is able to recognize right away that it holds a powerful curse, and stores it away securely without any further harm.
    • Harry has had many items confiscated from him just on suspicion of being cursed items sent to kill him, such as when he first received his Firebolt, and later, all the items he inherited from Dumbledore.
    • All of Voldemort's Horcruxes in varying ways:
      • The locket slowly corrupts whoever happens to be wearing it, causing them to be more pessimistic and depressed. It also prevents whoever is wearing it from casting a Patronus. It's implied, but not confirmed, that this is also true for all of the other Horcruxes.
      • The journal lets you communicate with a 16-year-old Voldemort (then known as Tom Riddle), but as you put yourself into it, it starts putting itself into you, eventually giving it mind-control abilities and ultimately letting the spirit in the book step out into the real world. Harry prevents this by stabbing it with a basilisk fang, destroying the soul fragment within.
      • Marvolo Gaunt's ring, in addition to being a Horcrux, also carries a powerful curse. When Dumbledore destroys it prior to the events of The Half-Blood Prince, he dooms himself to a slow and inevitable death. This is in contrast to other Horcruxes in the series, which have a corrupting influence but are not necessarily outright fatal.
  • The Monkey's Paw: This horror story concerns a mummified monkey's paw said to grant three wishes, but using it leads to tragic outcomes for the owners.
  • The Larry Niven story "Not Long Before the End" features a magic sword named Glirendree which is extremely powerful, but cursed to (ultimately) destroy its wielder. The wielder at the time of the story doesn't seem too dismayed when he finds out about the curse. It's possible he thinks the person who told him about the curse was lying, or he may honestly consider death after a year or so of living like a conquering king a fair trade. It's definitely the "clingy" type, as he's already tried to put it down and been unable to. That's because it's not really a sword, it's a demon in the shape of a sword, and it's got its fangs into his hand.
  • The One Ring from the The Lord of the Rings. Wearing it too much begins to drain away the bearer's soul, and attracts the attention of Sauron and the Nazgul. Even just being near it causes any but the purest-of-heart to be tempted to use its power, and several characters explicitly state that while they may initially use it for good, even the truest spirit will eventually be corrupted and use it for evil. In addition, the Ring is a Clingy MacGuffin, in that the more that one uses it, the more protective of it they become, and the more eager they are to use it.
  • Moongobble and Me: Book 3 involves Moongobble being assigned to retrieve one of these from a band of elves — a jewel called "the Queen's Belly Button", which inverts their morality and makes them nasty — after they took it from a statue in a temple.
  • Rise Of The Living Forge: Arwin's class often bestows magical effects on the items he forges, but the effects are somewhat random and often negative, like being brittle or even explosive if struck too hard.
    [Hungry]: This item hungers for power, and will consume more magical energy than necessary in order to function.
  • Saintess Summons Skeletons: Sofia gets a good discount on her storage amulet because it has an inconvenient side effect. It constantly fills up with a trickle of yellow sand, which will spill over if it gets full, so it has to be regularly emptied. Alith actually finds it intriguing, and wants to keep it even after they come across more powerful and uncursed storage items. Ihuarah eventually takes it, because as an animist who can make sticks and feathers and leaves gain life and fight for him, he finds the sand very useful.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This was the central premise of Friday the 13th: The Series. Two distant cousins discover that their late uncle had been selling cursed items (courtesy of a Deal with the Devil) from his antiques store. The items themselves bestow something beneficial to the owner (luck, beauty, wealth, power, etc.), but require them to murder someone else in order to function or to maintain the benefits they have already given.

  • The Bible: In the Book of Joshua, the titular character after the Israelite sacking of Jericho pronounces all items in the city cursed except for the gold and silver and other precious items. Achan, out of his own personal greed, pays no attention to the curse and takes a Babylonian garment from the ruins of the city, and thus plagues the camp of Israel with a curse that is only lifted when Achan, his whole family, and all that he owned were put to death and buried in the Valley of Achor.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Atmosfear: The black key in the DVD game. A player must have every color key on hand except this one to start heading for the Well of Fears, and it can be "stolen" by other players or handed off by landing on them.
  • In Burgle Bros. the Loot cards all have some sort of negative effect, such as the Cursed Goblet (lose 1 Stealth token), the Chihuahua (1 in 6 chance of barking, triggering an alarm on your starting tile), or the Keycard (only the holder can roll to crack safes).
  • Common in Dungeons & Dragons. Curses can range from inconvenient, like the Medallion of Thought Projection (a mind-reading amulet that came out backwards); to debilitating, like the Backbiter Spear (which sometimes attacks its owner); to downright lethal, like the Necklace of Strangulation. They're sometimes made with malicious intent and sometimes the result of a Magic Misfire in the Item Crafting process. Furthermore, any artifact comes with at least one curse on it, even the beneficial artifacts. It has been explicitly stated in the 2nd Edition AD&D Book of Artifacts that if an item isn't cursed in some way, it's not an artifact.
  • Mage: The Awakening:
    • Mages can enchant objects with permanent curses through an Item Crafting variant that's fueled by acts of Self-Harm, humiliation, and cruelty rather than Willpower. A basic Fate Arcanum curse penalizes die rolls related to use of the item; more abstruse ones can degrade the owner's body or mind, inflict obsessions, attract hostile wildlife, make the item a Clingy MacGuffin, and so on.
    • Under an optional rule, a magically enchanted item might spontaneously develop a curse if the creator's Karma Meter degrades during the Item Crafting process, or even if they indulge their Vice in that time.
  • The One Ring: When a Player Character finds a magic item in a treasure hoard, it has a 50% chance of being tainted by the Shadow. Until they complete a Sidequest to lift the curse, it brings some form of misfortune on the bearer, like worsening Critical Failures, distracting them, turning its intended benefit into a penalty, or luring in creatures of darkness.
  • In Salvage Hidden Treasures, some of the more valuable treasures you can find have... unfortunate side effects:
    • Blackbeard's Treasure doubles the income of every other player at the start of their turns.
    • The Kraken's Eye, the single most valuable treasure in the game, stops you from moving any ship at all as long as you own it.
    • The Aztec Gold robs you of your entire next turn if you decide to salvage it.
    • The Ghost Crew Talisman isn't worth that much, but in increases the total hold capacity of your fleet by four... but it also reduces the worth of each treasure you own by 100£.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Given that Chaos Is Evil, items of Chaos magic almost inevitably afflict their bearers with some terrible effect like madness, mutation, or a slow and awful death. Sometimes, favoured followers of the Chaos gods are exempt; sometimes not.
  • Many artifacts in World of Darkness are also cursed, tempering the benefits with terrible drawbacks.
  • A number of Yu-Gi-Oh! equip spell cards function like this, such as Flint, Mask of the Accursed, and the rather debilitating Darkworld Shackles, all of which do nasty things like preventing an equipped monster from attacking, reducing their stats, or damaging their controller. The idea, of course, is to equip them onto your opponent's monsters rather than your own.

  • In Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung opera tetralogy, the dwarf Alberich curses the ring he made out of the magical Rhine-gold before surrendering it along with other treasures the gods Loge and Wotan force him to give to giants Fasolt and Fafner as payment for building Walhall. The curse immediately takes effect as Fafner murders Fasolt to take the ring and riches for himself. Then, years later, Siegfried slays Fafner (who turned himself into a dragon), takes the ring, and ends up betrayed and killed himself.

  • BIONICLE: The Ignika, Mask of Life, protects itself by inflicting curses on nearly anyone who touches it, save for those deemed worthy to hold it. Given it is a very powerful object, this is necessary to prevent it from being misused by evil. What exactly the curse it inflicts does is dependent on what the Mask itself deems appropriate at the moment.

    Video Games 
  • The Aethra Chronicles:
    • Cursed equipment typically gives penalties, instead of bonuses, such as a "Greatsword--", so it's easy enough to spot — if you take the time to identify gear first, and have a high enough level of the Identify skill. Once equipped, cursed gear can only be removed with the aid of a high level spell.
    • There are also harmful potions, so it's generally a bad idea to drink anything unidentified. However, the potion color can give you a clue, and there's a risk of breaking the potion if identification fails, so some players might choose to live dangerously.
  • Animal Crossing: The King Tut Mask grants the player bad luck. This means that, while wearing it, they will trip, have a higher chance of being caught by a scorpion or tarantula, and increasing friendship with other villagers will be more difficult, in addition to other bad effects.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, scattered throughout the game are cursed items that look like normal, unidentified enchanted items until you identify them. These items have powerful effects, but equally debilitating drawbacks. For example, a cursed ring that makes you invisible as long as you wear it also continuously damages you as long as you wear it.
  • In Azure Dreams, some of the weapons and armor you can find are cursed, lowering their effectiveness. These curses can be removed making the equipment more usable.
  • The Binding of Isaac has a few such items or trinkets:
    • Cursed Eye replaces your normal tears with a powerful charged attack, but if you take damage while the eye is charging, you're teleported out of the room. That means whatever enemies were in room will be back to life, forcing you to clear them again. This extends to bosses.
    • Guppy's Tail greatly increases the chance for golden chests to spawn... at the cost of heavily reducing the chance to find keys to open them with.
    • Curse of the Tower is a deliberate Troll item that makes you spawn six bombs whenever you take damage. These bombs can hit enemies, but they can also hit Isaac himself.
    • Mom's Toenail is a trinket that causes Mom to stomp on you every minute, dealing a full heart of damage. You'll want to swap it out for another trinket as soon as possible.
    • Broken Shovel, which has the flavour text "It feels cursed", causes Mom to attempt to stomp you repeatedly, only stopping for one room if you activate the item. The shovel is part of the long, complex way to unlock a secret character.
  • Bloodborne: Cursed Blood Gems can be used to modify your weapons but come with drawbacks. Some weaken your blows against beasts (which is kind of a big deal, seeing as you're a monster hunter), some make your attacks more exhausting, and some drain your health. That said, you probably want these, because the curse makes the gem's base powers even stronger. Just don't get the "more power at max HP"/"slowly drains health" combo...
  • The third installment of the Boktai series features a set of equipment — the Wolf Fang, Bat Wing, Undead Fingernail, and Bat Tail. Individually, they impose a debilitating effect, including weakening your elemental damage, draining your Energy meter, and halving earned experience. When they're all equipped at the same time, however, the debilitating effects are reversed and become boons, on top of extending Django's Vampire Trance.
  • The Chocobo's Dungeon series features cursed equipment. You won't know if equipment is cursed unless you use an identification item on it or you equip it. If you equip it, you can't remove it unless you have dispel tonic, or you wear the gear out.
  • Many items in Cruelty Squad can be considered this in one way or another; such as golem armor that makes you a tank with powerful fists but unable to use conventional weaponry. A biosuit that similarly protects and lets you use weapons... but cuts your visibility by 80% and makes potentially helpful NPC's terrified of you. Then there is the "Zippy 3000"; an extremely rare joke weapon that has a 33% chance of shooting a powerful shot, misfiring, or backfiring; killing the player instantly. On a more literal level there is the "Cursed Torch" which upon use instantly puts you in the true hardest difficulty: "Hope Eradicated".
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Cursed items appear in many of the games. While there is no direct way to know if an item is cursed without equipping it, they are often described as having "an air of danger". These items tend to be very powerful for where they are found to entice the player to equip them. The drawback, though, is that someone wearing a cursed item often cannot attack in combat, and all items are of the Stuck Items variety, requiring a visit to the church to remove them.
    • Dragon Quest III had a special cursed weapon that was only cursed until you left the dungeon you found it in. A special golden claw weapon could be found in an extra path of the pyramid. The claw is an Artifact of Attraction, and while it is in your inventory, just about every step you take will lead to an encounter. ÍII also introduced the the double-edged sword. It's actually quite good, but is technically cursed (gets the music and everything) and it inflicts a percentage of the damage it causes to monsters to its wielder. Despite this, people just equip it to a high HP meatshield and go to town.
    • Dragon Quest IV introduced another staple of the series, the Hela's Hammer. This hammer turns every physical attack into a Death or Glory Attack. Its accuracy is very low, but every hit it scores is a critical hit, making it quite good for killing any type of Metal Slime. In addition, Psaro can equip any cursed item without suffering its ill effects.
    • Dragon Quest VIII featured some Gameplay and Story Integration regarding the hero and cursed items. Ostensibly, the hero was immune to curses and the Curse status effect because he was hit with a powerful Dragovian curse as a child that nullifies any other curse on him. For this reason, the hero can equip and remove cursed equipment without penalty.
    • Dragon Quest XI features a cursed item as part of the story, a magic necklace that allows its wearer to turn whatever they touch to gold. However attempting to take it off causes the wearer becomes a gold statue themself.
  • In earlier versions of Dungeon Crawl, just about any piece of equipment could be cursed, making it impossible to remove without first removing the curse. Curses were especially common on equipment that looked magical but was actually poor-quality, making identifying equipment by wearing or wielding it a risky prospect. Later versions restrict curses to the god Ashenzari's domain — it periodically offers followers a curse to apply to one of their worn items, providing skill bonuses but rendering the item immutable and unremovable without permanently destroying it.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara has the Cursed Blade, which causes you to take damage every time you attack with it, and the Cursed Blade 2, which causes you to fall asleep instead of attacking. If you attack with the Cursed Blade enough times, it will eventually turn into the Sword of Legend, but this will probably kill you at least two or three times before it happens. If the Cleric tries to pick up the Cursed Blade 2 enough times, it turns into the Holy Avenger, but as he can't use swords, this makes it impossible to actually get the weapon in a single-player game.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • Final Fantasy IV has the Cursed Ring that reduces the stats of those who equip it. However, what's not mentioned is that it changes any elemental resistance on the wearer into elemental absorption, letting them No-Sell some harmful attacks.
  • Final Fantasy VI has the famous Cursed Shield. Equipping it will nerf the bearer's stats and inflict all of the Status Effects. This can be mitigated by also equipping a Ribbon, which grants immunity to most of those effects. So why go to all that trouble? Enduring the suffering through 255 battles breaks the curse and changes it into the Paladin's Shield.
  • Fire Emblem
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: According to a support conversation between Dussel and Cormag, Valter had grabbed Dussel's cursed lance that turned him into an Axe-Crazy person as he is in the present. While the cursed lance doesn't appear in the game, it does exist as a unique item in Fire Emblem Heroes for Valter, granting +2 in Attack and Speed as well as accelerates Special trigger at the cost of taking 4 damage after combat.
    • Most mainline titles have a cursed weapon lying around somewhere. The most infamous is the Devil's Axe, the most powerful axe in many of the games. It grants eight times the regular weapon experience, too — but it has a 21% chance of injuring the wielder instead of the foe. Thankfully, this chance can be reduced if your character has high Luck, but since the cap is 20, it's always a chance.
    • In the Archanea series of games, the titular shield itself is cursed, bringing misfortune on whoever wields it (or even keeps it in storage in some cases).
  • Golden Sun: Cursed gear tends to be powerful (the Darksword has a higher attack than the Sol Blade, the game's final weapon), but randomly paralyzes the user during battle (the Cleric's Ring prevents this, but there's only one) and can only be unequipped at a sanctum.
  • Hearthstone: Warriors can use the Cursed Blade, a 1 mana 2/3 weapon (very strong for its cost) that has the downside of doubling all damage your hero takes while it's equipped. Not only do you take double damage while swinging, it extends over to your opponent's turn too, making the sword very much Awesome, but Impractical.
  • In the first and second Heroes of Might and Magic games, the Fizbin of Misfortune is the only magic item with a negative trait, bestowing a -2 luck penalty on the hero unfortunate enough to be carrying it.
  • Interplay's Infinity Engine games, being based on Dungeons & Dragons, had numerous cursed items. Interestingly, as the games all had a Lore skill that could be used to identify magic items and cursed items always required 100 Lore to identify, if you had a character with a reasonably high lore, any items they couldn't identify were almost always cursed.
    • Baldur's Gate had cursed items like the Bracers of Binding or the Ring of Idiocy that gave nasty penalties to your ability scores. It also had the Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity, which caused whoever put it on to change from male to female, which was rather useless given the game's almost Purely Aesthetic Gender, the Helm of Opposite Alignment (good characters become evil, evil characters become good, actually useful if you wanted Vicona in a good-aligned party), and the Two-Handed Sword of Berserking, which was a powerful sword that caused the wielder to automatically attack the closest character every time combat began.
    • Planescape: Torment was interesting in that many of the "cursed" items in the game had no negative effects other than requiring a Remove Curse spell to take them off. There were a few others that had effects that were legitimately detrimental, like Nordom's Beer Goggles, which gave a huge penalty to his attack and made him permanently drunk while he was wearing them.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The cursed medal from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which prevents you from opening your bag until you have them specially removed, but greatly increases enemy material drops in exchange.
    • The One-Hit Obliterator in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's DLC does exactly what the title says — you can one-hit most enemies in the game with it, but in exchange, your own health is drained to the point that you ''also die in one hit, and you can only use this effect twice before it needs a cooldown. Interestingly, this is a trial for Link, as the monks want to see how good he is with this kind of limitation.
    • The Gloom weapons in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom have exceedingly high attack power, but true to their name, attacking with them eats away at your hearts the same way standing in gloom does.
  • Lufia & The Fortress of Doom has cursed equipment that can't be removed except by a special rare item or a priest. Once removed, these will retain the curse, activating again if re-equipped.
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals also has cursed equipment that can't be removed except by a special rare item or a priest. In this entry, uncursed items will change completely to become new items.
  • Minecraft: Enchanted items not made using an enchanting station along with those that are found in the world are sometimes cursed.
    • The Curse Of Binding, makes armor with it stick to you until it breaks or you die.
    • The Curse Of Vanishing, makes anything with it disappear when you die, unable to be picked up.
  • In NetHack, any item in the game can be cursed, which alters it to actively hinder the player and cannot be removed once equipped. Items can be found cursed, or cursed through a number of means. There are also a number of methods to remove a cursed item. Of note is that a few cursed items can be useful if the player knows what they're doing with them; for example, the Scroll of Genocide will normally remove a certain type of monster from the game, but when cursed will instead summon up to six of the monster that you tried to destroy, which is a death sentence if you were trying to rid yourself of something nasty, but it's also the only way in the game to summon specific monsters of your choice, which can be useful if you want a certain loot drop.
  • Nuclear Throne has Cursed Weapons, which drop from Cursed Chests and can be more powerful than weapons that are normally obtainable at the current level. The catch is that they can't be removed from your inventory, except for swapping with another Cursed Weapon — if you happen to run out of ammo or see a better weapon you want, too bad. You can remove the curse in three ways: taking the Last Wish mutation, getting a crown in a Crown Vault, or looping the game. Getting a cursed weapon before the Crystal Caves in any loop and taking it there with you turns them into the Cursed Crystal Caves, which is full of cursed crystal enemies and has the only Large Cursed Weapon Chest in the game, which drops three Cursed Weapons from potentially further in the game than normal Cursed Chests.
  • One appears as a minor plot point in Trials of Mana. Jessica (Hawkeye's childhood friend) gets stuck with a cursed choker that will strangle her should Hawkeye ever tell her the truth about or try to kill Belladonna (The Dragon of his route). However, being cursed in this way also renders her immune to Belladonna's mind control and makes her unsuitable as a Human Sacrifice to unseal one of the Mana Stones; Belladonna is forced to remove the choker when preparing to sacrifice her, which gives the party an opportunity to rescue her.
  • Pokémon: There are a number of held items which at first glance only seem to have negative effects.
    • The Toxic Orb and the Flame Orb are strange items that place a status condition on the Pokémon holding them. Though negative, this can be useful when the Pokémon has an item-swapping move or the move Facade (which does more damage when the user is affected by a status condition). Abilities come in play here as well: Toxic Orb can be helpful for Pokémon with abilities like Toxic Boost (raises attack power when poisoned), Quick Feet (raises Speed when hit by a status condition), or Poison Heal (Exactly What It Says on the Tin), and in the case of Flame Orb, it is usually given to Pokémon with the Guts ability, so that they will receive a boost to Attack instead of a drop when burnt (Toxic Orb's damage increases over time, making Flame Orb more practical in use with Guts than Toxic Orb, outside of cases where Flame Orb cannot be used, such as for Flareon).
    • The same (with the swapping part, too) can be said about Iron Ball, Ring Target, Sticky Barb, or, in most cases, Black Sludge. Iron Ball makes the holder always go last (though it hits really hard if thrown away with Fling), and Ring Target lets your opponent always be able to hit you. Sticky Barb damages the holder every turn (but it has the possibility to stick to an opponent if a contact move is made and the opponent is free of items), and Black Sludge does the same, minus transferring itself to other Pokémon on contact — however, when Black Sludge is held by Poison-types, it heals them instead.
  • In the DOS Adventure Game The Riddle of Master Lu, you play as Robert Ripley, and pay for your traveling expenses by sending parcels back to his Believe It Or Not! exhibit in New York. One such item you can send is the Romanov Emerald, a cursed Russian crown jewel. Ripley is tasked with retrieving it from a castle to be rid of its curse, and you have the option to send it. If you do so, you will be informed that the exhibit was shut down, and if you travel to New York after, you are arrested in a Non-Standard Game Over. What the player is actually supposed to do is give it to a villain, which leads to his demise via accident.
  • Ruina: Fairy Tale of the Forgotten Ruins: Some powerful pieces of equipment are cursed so that if the player tries to remove them from the wearer, an event is triggered after the player exits the menu, which causes the equipment to go back on the previous wearer. While Ada can remove most cursed equipment by destroying them, she cannot do so for the elemental gems that only the protagonist can equip. Those require the player to activate the fountain at the bottom of the Cemetery.
  • In Runescape, some items augmented by the Invention skill can become this, as even though the skill enables a Player Character to add beneficial traits to wielded items, there is also a random chance of generating a detrimental effect in the same "gizmo" as a helpful effectnote . Clingy Macguffin is not in effect, however, as any such items do not have to be wielded and used, and the same skill provides methods for removing augmentations from an item to leave space for a new effect.
  • A few of the special boards in Snowboard Kids and its sequels inflict negative effects on the user. Examples include the Ice Board, which makes all surfaces feel as slick as ice; and the Poverty Board, which continuously drains money from whoever's riding it.
  • In Suikoden, the soul eater rune is also known as the cursed rune. Its curse is that those who wear it will find the people who are closest to them will die.
  • In Sword of Vermilion, cursed items will act as Stuck Items and can only be removed by visiting a church; furthermore, they prevent any spells from being cast while worn. Only three cursed items exist in the game: Dark Swords, the Death Sword, and the Old Nick Armor.
  • Uninvited for the NES has the Ruby, which will gradually drive you insane and eventually make you succumb to a demonic spirit, ending the game, unless you get rid of it. Amazingly, the NES port of the game made it easier by tying the gradual insanity to this item, while all other versions have the PC suffering from this regardless of inventory.
  • Warcraft III: On finding Frostmourne, Muradin realizes the blade is cursed and tries to leave. Arthas decides to take it anyway, ready to do anything to have his revenge, and it flies out and kills Muradin. Although in this case, the sword wasn't so much cursed as it was a direct link to the Lich King's mind, allowing him to quickly turn over Arthas to the Undead.
  • Wild ARMs 3 has the corpse ring, which cannot be removed and reduces the health of your entire party to one. The curse is only removed once you escape the dungeon it is found in, exposing the ring to sunlight.
  • In Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land, you can find cursed items while in the labyrinth initially as unidentified items. Vigger the shopkeeper is the only one who can remove a cursed item. These items often lower the stats of whoever equips them, but some can still be useful.
  • World of Horror naturally has a few. One of the most notable is the Crestfallen Mask, gained by defeating Aka Manto without exposing his true form. It gives you a substantial decrease to Doom accumulation, but if you ever remove it, it rips your face off, giving you a Curse that reduces all your stats by 2. No, putting the mask back on doesn't remove the Curse.
  • World of Warcraft: In Nazjatar any item or mob looted has the chance to drop a cursed item, such as an ancient coin or a skeletal hand. No regular merchant will take them and so long as it's held the player will periodically suffer a serious debuff, such as reduced health or any increased chance to be critically struck. The only way to get rid of these items is to trade them to an insane Tortollan. He gives players a sack of gold for the item but his mutterings about eldritch beings implies this is a bad idea.

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  • Darken has an amulet that's "more curse than metal", which keeps finding its way back to Casper and inflicting bad dreams on him. It turns out to be sapient and benevolent; once he starts listening to it, it walks Casper through a bit of Epiphany Therapy.
  • Darths & Droids: When Chewbacca and R2-D2 play a tabletop RPG, Chewie anticipates that R2 might backstab him for loot. So he carries a cursed item in his own inventory, to punish R2 for such treachery.
    R2-D2: Heh heh heh. Let's see what loot I got from your corpse.
    R2-D2: Only 13 gold coins? And what's this?
    Chewbacca: You may find that your combat stats are no longer as impressive as you recall.
    R2-D2: You put a cursed item in your own coin purse?! What sort of deviant would do that?!
    Han Solo: I warned you.
    Chewbacca: Let's discuss how you're going to pay for my resurrection, shall we?
  • The Order of the Stick: The Order finds a Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity, which inflicts a Gender Bender curse on the wearer and can only be removed by magic. Roy, much to his annoyance, has to use it to bluff his way out of an ambush, and is glad to have a teammate with the necessary Dispel Magic spell at the ready.

  • RPC-391 from the RPC Authority is a cursed gold chain necklace that tightens its chain around the neck of whomever wears it.

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    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Grim summons up a suit of armor for Billy to wear, but forgets to mention that the armor is cursed. Billy finds this out when he attempts to go to the bathroom only to be unable to take the armor off. The only way to remove the armor is to win a challenge.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: In the episode "Tough Luck", a battered looking guy enters Uncle's shop and offers to sell Jade a cursed emerald. When Jade says that she may not give him a good price, he pays her to take the emerald away and when she accepts the guy happily runs pout of the shop, and the rest of the episode centers on Jackie having to deal with the misfortune of the Jade until it can be returned to Ireland.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "Something Ricked This Way Comes", the Devil opens up a store "selling" items ("You don't pay...with money!") that all have curses attached, such as a potion that makes the drinker irresistible to women but also renders them impotent. Rick quickly undermines this operation by inventing a device that can identify and remove all the curses, allowing people to use the items with no ill effects.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons Halloween episode about a cursed Krusty doll, as quoted at the top. Homer buys the doll from a creepy shop and is informed that it is cursed. However, it comes with a free frogurt... which is also cursed. But, you get a free topping. Except the toppings contain potassium benzoate. (That's bad.)
  • The What A Cartoon! Show short "Awfully Lucky" features a pearl that will grant alternating extremely good luck and extremely bad luck. The user can discard the pearl at any time, but the protagonist, Luther, holds on to it for most of the short due to his willingness to take on a lot of nonlethal punishment.

    Real Life 
  • One could consider radioactive contamination to be this, turning otherwise normal-seeming and functional objects into something deadly, with no way to tell without special instruments (typically Geiger counters). Russian soldiers operating within the Exclusion Zone of Chernobyl during the early phase of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine looted normal-looking silverware and anything else of apparent value, which combined with their other Too Dumb to Live shenanigans there, led to their units being taken out of commission for radiation treatment upon their withdrawal to Belarus when the Kyiv offensive failed.