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Evil Smells Bad

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"As a foulness shall ye know them..."

Frequently, when a character enters an evil or cursed area, they'll find that it smells really, overpoweringly bad. It usually smells of rotten flesh (or just "death") and grows more powerful as the investigator gets closer to the threat. Another variant is an evil being carrying a bad stench with it when it appears. Frequently one of the Horror Tropes.

This trope stems from the fact that dead and unclean things smell bad, so if somewhere or something smells bad, it's probably dangerous. The belief that demons smell of sulfur is also a contributing factor.

In The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones refers to this as the "Reek of Wrongness," which can take many forms besides just smell.

Compare with Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness, where the stench is just a character's poor hygiene. Can cross with Stink Snub should a character comment snarkily on the villain's odour. Please note that the smell of evil isn't always proportionate to its taste.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Joke: The first chapter features two homosexual assassins that use disgusting amounts of perfume. In the climax its shown billowing inside a car in thick, choking fumes.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Thanks to his keen sense of smell, Tanjiro can tell just how dangerous or evil a demon is just by their smell.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003): Dante is said to have a stong, unpleasant smell. This is because her repeated Body Surfing has caused her Possession Burnout to become faster and more severe, which causes her bodies to rot.
  • In Fruits Basket, Kyo's true form smells so bad that Tohru vomits the first time she encounters it. How evil it is depends on who you ask, but the consensus is that it is not friendly.
  • Gyo lives off this trope, since the monsters in question are undead fish corpses. Even living fish doesn't exactly smell good. As it turns out, the corpses are just a delivery system, the true evil is a form of semi-sentient bacteria that propagates itself using the gasses released by decay. It's even worse for infected humans since they aren't technically dead.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Phantom Blood: Speedwagon declares that he knew immediately that Dio was evil, because he had the stench of evil on him.
    • Stone Ocean: When Anasui tries using Diver Down on D an G's Yo-Yo Ma, he remarks the inside of its body had such an unbearable stench, he couldn't get close enough to attack.
  • Lupin III: Part II: In the episode "Killing is the Smell of Wine", professional and amoral Psycho for Hire Hangman has both the ghoulish looks and the smell of a corpse. As for the evil part, not only he's an assassin, but he's also shown to be prone to use gratuitous violence and wanton cruelty at the drop of a hat.
  • In Powerpuff Girls Z, their version of Sedusa leaves the smell of cheap make-up wherever she goes, which is the one flaw in her otherwise perfect powers of disguise.
  • Watanuki from ×××HOLiC came across some situations like this, but he's the only one who can sense it. One example is at Himawari's friend's school where the game, Angel, is taking place. Domeki can't smell it. It's like some sort of spiritual stench that only Watanuki can smell, and it got worse as he got closer to the threat taking hold.

    Comic Books 
  • All of planet Jasper in Copperhead smells like rotten eggs - partly due to its mining industry, partly due to its borderline-lawless reputation per this trope.
  • Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges are stated to leave a putrefying stench of death behind them. When one of the Sisters of Death attacks Judge Kraken, he notes that she smells like a corpse.
  • Robin (1993): Every hero who has to fight Tapeworm comments on how terrible he smells.
  • In The Simpsons comic "Fallen Flanders", Ned Flanders is kidnapped by Kang and Kodos and replaced with an evil clone. One of the first clues Bart and Lisa pick up on that the clone isn't the real deal is that he smells disgusting — the real Flanders, in contrast, is such an example of Incorruptible Pure Pureness that he always smells fresh as a daisy even if he hasn't washed for a while.
  • Sin City: Roark Junior a.k.a. That Yellow Bastard. All the surgeries he went through after almost being killed by Detective Hartigan not only left him horribly malformed but also caused his skin to turn bright yellow and smell like rotten garbage, making his new physiology fit his inner nature like a glove.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Long-time Spidey villain Carnage apparently has an aroma similar to vomit. Given Carnage's habits and nature, this is actually somewhat surprising — blood would seem more likely.
    • A humorous case would be present in the series featuring Miles Morales. During a dangerous fight against Blackheart, Miles remarks that Blackheart exudes a terrible scent that is best described as being "like a cat pooped on another cat's poop".
  • The Supergirl from Krypton (2004): When Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Big Barda travel to Darkseid's homeworld Apokolips to rescue Supergirl, they cannot help but comment on the extremely foul, rotten stench pervading the atmosphere.

    Fan Works 
  • In Abraxas (Hrodvitnon), the Many are an Undead Abomination, composed of reanimated tissue that seeks to assimilate everything it can find and do Ghidorah's bidding: naturally, they stink like a carrion pit.
  • Fankil, the main antagonist of The Heart Trilogy, smells like dust and ash combined with perfume sweetness so strong it's nauseous.
  • In It's not the Raptor DNA, Elise the Indominus Rex realizes InGen's current CEO Bridges smells like a rotting corpse.
  • In The Nightmare House, Lily has a nightmare about a monster named "Mor-Gaj" based on her limited understanding of what a mortgage is, who must be paid because he eats money and also tries to eat her. He is described as having an "overbearing stench".
  • No stars in sight: The first time that Formora encounters a Scorn, she finds that the creature stinks of rotting flesh. This is hardly surprising given how Scorn are undead Eliksni who have been killed and reanimated numerous times through the use of Dark Ether.
  • In Chapter 16 of Soul Eater: Troubled Souls, Ox, Harvar, Crona, and Ragnarok frequently comment about how awful Innsmouth smells. As they get closer to unraveling the mystery and addressing the problem, they find out Innsmouth smells bad because the Deep Ones stuffed dead, decaying bodies in some of the boarded buildings.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Gaston evidently has smelly feet -– Belle holds her nose when he kicks off his boots and puts his feet up on her table. While at this point in the movie, he only seems rude and obnoxious with merely non-existent hygiene, he proves his true evil and his non-existent morality by the end.

    Films — Live-Action 
Examples by creator:
  • In Dario Argento's Three Mothers Trilogy, which consists of Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980) and Mother of Tears, the earth that witches' houses are built upon becomes so deadly and pestilent by the evil and death that emanates from there, that the entire neighborhood has a sweetish, nauseating smell.
Examples by work:
  • Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror has this line:
    Michael: Mother, this cloth... it smells of death!
  • Five Nights at Freddy's (2023) has Abby complain that Aunt Jane smells like cigarettes.
  • In Cemetery Gates, everybody attacked by Precious comments on the foul stench before they are aware of her presence. Truth in Television, as when agitated, Tasmanian devils release a musk that rivals a skunk's in pungency.
  • The Brazilian movie A Dog's Will (O Auto da Compadecida) has in the afterlife sequence the protagonist mocking Satan for his sulfur stink up until he snaps out and opens the doors to hell.
  • The unnamed Deadly Doctor from Grotesque 2009 has an inexplicable skunk-like smell that he tries to cover up with cologne and perfume; bringing it up is something of a Berserk Button.
  • The Kraken from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is repeatedly described as having bad breath.
    Mr. Gibbs: They say the stench of its breath is... ugh... [he shudders] Imagine, the last thing you know on God's green earth is the roar of the Kraken and the reeking odor of a thousand rotting corpses... if you believe such things.
    Insane sailor: No! Beneath us... foul breath!
    Captain Jack Sparrow: Not that bad, really.
  • Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map revolves around the legend of a fierce pirate named Gnarlybeard, so named because his beard stank horribly due to never washing it.
  • The Terminator: As the T-800's human disguise begins rotting due to repeated gunshot wounds, its synthskin has a noticeably waxy, corpse-like pale color whose stench is attracting flies, prompting a janitor to ask if the smell is coming from a dead animal's corpse. The robot responds rudely and resumes its chase against Sarah Connor.
  • Graboids in the Tremors films are known for giving off a putrid stench, living or dead.
  • The cyborgs from Virus are said to smell "like dogshit".

Examples by creator:
  • Clive Barker had this appear in several stories, such as The Last Illusion (during the exorcism attempt on Mimi Lomax, there was the smell of burning excrement) and in stories featuring the Quiddity such as The Great and Secret Show and Everville. This is justified; manifesting some of the creatures from the Quiddity involves a ritual that uses semen and human feces.
  • Stephen King:
    • In The Dark Half, a policeman inspecting the car George Stark had used earlier notes that it smells hostile and animalistic. Stark also falls into this trope later in the book, being followed by the stench of his own decaying body.
    • In the Night Shift short story "Jerusalem's Lot", all the buildings in the eponymous village smell terrible inside. This is probably due to the giant worm living beneath the church.
  • Madeleine L'Engle:
    • A Wind in the Door and other books featuring the Echthroi as villains always mention how bad they smell — "makes silage smell like roses," according to Calvin. Thing is, they can disguise this smell until they are found out.
    • In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Chuck has a very sensitive sense of smell, and cruel, mean people smell distinctly bad to him.
  • H. P. Lovecraft:
    • Most of Lovecraft's eldritch horrors are described as smelling rather icky. Lovecraft himself had a sensitive sense of smell and couldn't stand bad odors.
      The Necronomicon: Iä Shub-Niggurath! As Foulness shall ye know them!
    • The titular town in The Shadow Over Innsmouth and its mutant inhabitants smell very strongly of fish.
    • The titular house from The Shunned House is noted as positively reeking of decay and foulness. Turns out to be caused by some gargantuan entity buried beneath it. Once it's been dissolved with acid, the smell disappears.
    • The slimy and toad-like Moon-Beasts from The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath smell vile, so much that a galley full of them sailing into port drives most people around to smoke the strongest-smelling tobacco to cover the stench.
Examples by work:
  • Aztec: The Spanish conquistadors rarely bathed, according to the European customs of the time (mid-to-late 1400s). This in contrast to the frequent bathing and saunaing habits of the Mexica. In one scene, Mixtli has them hauled into the yard and washed by force, which terrifies the invaders.
  • The regions of the world corrupted by Torak and Zandramas in The Belgariad and The Malloreon are reminiscent of Mordor: blighted wastelands overrun with fungus and other unwholesome things, and they absolutely reek.
  • In Bored of the Rings, the parodic Nozdrûl (spoofs of the Ringwraiths) smell like a barnyard and have terrible gas, likely a sendup of the originals "Black Breath" ability. Of course, their mounts are battle-boars.
  • Break of Dark has a short story about the ghosts of a trio of loathed relations. The first signs of their malign presence involve an otherwise squeaky-clean house become beset with the smell of old woman and breath mints.
  • In Philip K. Dick's The Divine Invasion, the protagonist finds a poor, lost, talking baby goat. He slowly becomes aware of a terrible stench surrounding it. It turns out the goat is actually Belial.
  • In Dracula, the eponymous villain has foul breath, almost certainly due to his diet, and areas where he stays are, well, to quote the book:
    But as to the odour itself, how shall I describe it? It was not alone that it was composed of all the ills of mortality and with the pungent, acrid smell of blood, but it seemed as though corruption had become itself corrupt.
  • A lot of the creatures the Vir Requis fight in Dragons of Requiem are repeatedly noted for smelling very foul. Wyverns smell like vinegar and sulfur; sphinxes smell like urine, acid, and sulfur; mimics and demons (which are composed of rotting corpses) smell like death, and so on.
  • The Dark Ones in Dread Companion. Kosgro says it's very useful as warning, especially since they don't realize it.
  • The Dresden Files: Extremely evil beings like Nicodemus Archleone give off a noticeable aura that makes people around them uncomfortable. People who are unfamiliar with this feeling may interpret it as a bad smell.
  • "Gimmicks Three": Shapur, the demon tempting Welby, smells overwhelmingly of sulfur dioxide, and the intensity of the smell also reflects the intensity of his emotions.
  • The Giver Quartet: Trademaster is extremely foul-smelling, according to Claire and Gabriel.
  • The Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) novelization states that King Ghidorah's hypercane encroaching on Boston is preceded by a stench like "burning hair and rotten eggs". The latter smell is distinctly associated with hurricanes: it occurs due to the hurricane disturbing sediments in low-flowing waters, which hold the anaerobic bacteria responsible for producing this odor.
  • In Nancy A. Collins's Golgotham trilogy, the worst of the worst Kymerans tend to eventually acquire burnt, acrid, or sulfurous odors, thanks to the entire species having individual Signature Scents which can be altered for the worse by spiritual corruption or even negative emotions.
  • In The Hunger Games, President Snow smells like roses...and blood. There is an actual reason for both — an evil reason. To become president, Snow poisoned all his political rivals, and to throw suspicion off himself, he also poisoned himself. He took an antidote, but the poison did irreparable damage to his throat, causing the smell of blood. He always wears genetically modified roses to cover up the scent.
  • I Shall Wear Midnight: To those that can perceive him, the Cunning Man utterly reeks. It's pointed out this is not an actual stench (the Cunning Man is a spirit with no body left to rot), but rather the mind's perception of, and attempt to convey, the sheer hatred he radiates and embodies.
  • In The Last Battle, a foul smell follows Tash around. Eustace says it smells like a dead bird.
  • This becomes a plot point in Lone Huntress when Lisa encounters someone who smells particularly foul. Though Lisa has the benefit of being descended from the original colonists of Gaia, a world of hunter-gatherers who have adapted to their world's conditions.
  • In Masques, the protagonist smells horrible after crawling out of the lair of the Big Bad. Granted, she did use the sewage system, but there are lots of rotting corpses in there to account for the smell of the sewage, too.
  • Well, technically, it's more chaotic, but Free Magic in Old Kingdom is extremely dangerous and almost always wielded by nasty pieces of work, and it's described as producing an acrid, hot-metal smell.
  • While not technically truly evil at heart, Erik from The Phantom of the Opera is described by Christine as having hands that smell of death.
  • "Pizza Madness": The first indication that something is off about the protagonist's new job is that he perpetually smells like pizza. At first he has to shower as soon as he gets home and eventually the smell drives his girlfriend away. The delivery guy takes the sent of pizza clinging to her as a sign that if he doesn't break things off with her, he'll drag her down with him.
  • In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen, as a part of his education, goes to a mass where the priest gives a long, heated speech about the horrors of hell, including the eternal smell of decaying corpses.
  • In Prospero Lost, Mab reports an evil smell - like one of the lords of hell, whom he is familiar with.
  • In the Redwall book Triss, there appears to be a Hydra terrifying the inhabitants of Mossflower wood. Among other things, a sickeningly sweet stench accompanies it. It is eventually revealed that the "Hydra" is a trio of adders that had their tails entwined by a flail when they were very young. As they grew up, they learned to cooperate to move around. However they were never able to remove to the flail, and the smell is caused by their necrotic flesh.
  • In Re:Zero, the Witch of Envy and the people favored by or connected to her have a distinctive foul scent, though (outside of the dense miasma produced by the Witch herself) only a small number of characters can smell it. Since Subaru's ability to return to life comes from the Witch, he reeks more and more of her scent on each revival, which makes other characters have a hard time trusting him. Because monsters were created by the Witch of Gluttony, who was betrayed and killed by the Witch of Envy during her rise to power, they also have a special hatred of this scent and seek out its holders to attack them.
  • In Shadows of the Empire, Prince Xizor notices something.
    He imagined he could smell the decay in the Emperor's worn body. Likely that was just a trick of the recycled air, run through dozens of filters to ensure that there was no chance of any poison gas being introduced into it. Filtered the life out of it, perhaps, giving it that dead smell.
  • Very frequent in Tolkien's Legendarium. To give a few examples...
    • There's the dragon-reek, a terrible stench associated with dragons, mainly Glaurung the Golden and Smaug. In The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin, Glaurung's stench was so foul, it required a great amount of Heroic Willpower to overcome and horses are driven mad by it. His underbelly apparently "stank of death", but beyond that we get no description of what it was like.
    • In The Lord of the Rings, the malevolent and demonic giant spider Shelob's lair is extremely odoriferous, while the flowers growing near the dreaded Mordor-aligned fortress of Minas Morgul are described as smelling like rotting flesh.
  • In the Sweet Diamond Dust short story "The Gift", Mercedita, a student at an exclusive Catholic school for girls, starts noticing a strange smell in the halls. Both she and her best friend Carlotta, who also notices it, agree that it's stronger whenever they are close to a nun. Later on, the nuns end up expelling Carlotta, the first Black student in the school, for reasons of barely-hidden snobbery and racism.
  • Infected in The Troop smell like rotting peaches, because their bodies' metabolisms are supercharged; and are breaking down their body tissues to sustain itself and the mutant tapeworms in their stomachs.
  • The vicious and almost otherworldly Sally Bones from Varjak Paw has a persistently dank smell to her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "The Zeppo", Giles is seeking supernatural aid in a graveyard; Xander spots him and tries to join in the apocalypse-fighting to get away from new "friend" Jack and his dead pal Bob.
    Giles: There's something different about this menace. In the air, I can feel it. The stench of death.
    Xander: Yeah, I think that's Bob.
  • Good Omens (2019): Warlock Dowling claims that Hastur the Duke of Hell "smells like poo". Crowley, on being told about this, confirms that Warlock is absolutely right.
  • In Supernatural, ghosts leave a smell of ozone and demons smell like sulfur.
  • In Twin Peaks, whenever the supernatural Big Bad, BOB, is about to reveal himself, people in the vicinity complain of an inexplicable smell of burning oil or gasoline.

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd's "That Smell" chorus, with the whole song being about drug addiction.
    Ooh, that smell.
    Can't you smell that smell?
    Ooh, that smell.
    The smell of death surrounds you.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Aboriginal Australian Myths:
    • Wambeen the Arrernte God of Thunder AND God of Evil apparently smells awful because he's evil.
    • The Garkain from Yolngu tradition actually weaponises this, enveloping its victims with its wings and killing them with the bad smell.
  • Christianity:
    • The Bible: "The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves." (Proverbs 13:5, NIV 2011 edition)
    • In 2nd Maccabees chapter 9, Antiochus IV was stricken with such a devastating illness by the Lord that his entire army was sickened by the smell and no one could even come close enough to carry him around on a litter. Eventually even the king couldn't stand the smell of himself and decided to make amends with the Jewish people and God.
    • Chapter 24 of The Life of St. Martin recounts how Martin of Tours had an encounter with the devil in disguise. When he rebuked him, the devil fled and left behind a disgusting smell.
    • An inversion of this trope from Roman Catholicism would be the "odour of sanctity", a flowery scent said to emanate from the bodies of saints.
    • More generally, in Christian folklore, the idea that Demons and Hell stink of sulfur is common enough to be a cliche. Interestingly, in the actual bible, Brimstone is associated less with evil and more with the Wrath of God.

  • Hi Nay: Proximity to the Elders, their magic or their foci sickens Mari - how badly so seems to depend on how messed up the person or thing in question is, with a cannibal brushing past her sending her hurling immediately

    Professional Wrestling 
  • While Boogeyman was known for appearing unexpectedly, either as part of an ambush or because someone called his name, sometimes he felt the need to let everyone know of his arrival, which he usually did with a stick which overflowed with an orange smoke which is said to have reeked.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder has the Xulgath's, a reptilian race with such a noxious stench that characters entering a certain radius have to make a Fortitude save or be afflicted with the "sickened" condition.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Chaos is said to have a cloying, sickening odor, like candy floss crossed with rotten meat.
    • More specifically, anything related to Nurgle, the Chaos god of disease, pestilence, and decay. His mortal servants and daemons are bloated, putrescent things whose bodies are foul with rot and sickness, and exude terrible scents of every rancid bodily odor known to man and some known only to the Xenos.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Gaia Garou Theurges can detect Wyrm presence through the gift Sense Wyrm. Many liken the Wyrm's presence to an odor. Mari Cabra complained that a bane-infested Umbral location stank of the Wyrm.

    Video Games 
  • Diablo (1997): Upon entering the catacombs, the main character comments, "The smell of death surrounds me."
  • Doom 64: The opening text to "In the Void" describes the place as smelling like "death and demon carcass".
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • This is said to be the case for Scamps, the weakest and smallest known form of lesser Daedra who have a rancid smell. Oblivion's "Whom Gods Annoy" quest centers around a poor Leyawiin resident cursed with a staff that summons Scamps to stink up her home and annoy the hell out of her. While Scamps are generally in the service of Mehrunes Dagon, the staff was created by Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness and a morbid practical joker.
    • The Sload are a race of "slugmen" native to Thras, an archipelago to the southwest of Tamriel. While they themselves operate on a Blue-and-Orange Morality, the denizens of Tamriel instead see them as Always Chaotic Evil. (Wiping out half of the continent's population with a Mystical Plague tends to spark those sorts of feelings...) The Sload are said to emanate a constant "repugnant" stench.
    • Coldharbour is the Daedric plane of Molag Bal, Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption. The ground is sludge, the sky is on fire, and the air is freezing. It resembles a ruined and desecrated copy of Nirn that is filled with suffering and "spattered" with blood and excrement. It contains charnel houses full of the dead and slave pens beyond count. If that weren't all horrifying enough, it is said that the smell alone is enough to break most mortals. It is said that no mortals willingly visit this place except in error.
  • The interior of the Giant Worm in Gears of War 2 is stated as smelling terrible. Since the worm is essentially a mobile disaster and a place where one member of the squad meets a gruesome death, this trope is in full force.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: Riku tracks Ansem and The Organization by the stench of their darkness, and notes that Naminé completely lacks that stench which is why he can tell that Naminé is related somehow to his friend Kairi.
  • Moshi Monsters: Played with. None of the evil locations smell bad and most of the villains don't, but the Glumps, an Always Chaotic Evil Servant Race created by the villains, and by extension the goo they secrete, smell like rotten fish and sweat.
  • In the Resident Evil 5 DLC story "Lost in Nightmares", Jill and Chris enter an area where there is a horrible stench. Chris states that he hopes that they don't run into whatever's making it. They do: it's a monster with a bloated back and an ax. The Ominous Obsidian Ooze secreted by Orobouros-produced BOWs is also said to give off a horrible odor.
  • The Nightmare Villains in Skylanders: Trap Team are claimed to put off bad odors. One of Spike McPokerton's Nightmare Pages outright says he has never taken a bath. In addition, when trapped in a crystal prison, they all produce purple Visible Odor. Even Runys Pointyboots, whose Nightmare Pages claim she doesn't like to get dirty, and thus hovers slightly in order to not touch the ground.
  • Aside from being Obviously Evil in Tail Concerto, Flare also notes that the Big Bad Fool reeks of fish in his first appearance.
  • In Warcraft III, it is not uncommon to hear some characters say they "smell the stench of demons" somewhere or something else along those lines.

    Visual Novels 
  • Snatcher: The Snatchers potentially emit a foul odor due to their flawed, cancerous artificial skin. However, this method of identifying a Snatcher never actually comes into play during the investigation.

  • Goblins:
    • Ears has the paladin ability to Detect Evil. When he tries to explain it to his friends, he compares it to a bad smell.
    • Inverted when Complains, who's slowly turning into a demon, meets an angel and blurts out that she stinks.
  • In Nodwick, Piffany claims that the dark cleric Elonan smells like the "lead electric mandolinist for Crossbows and Roses".
  • From The Order of the Stick, Miko Miyazaki, who, while not canonically Evil, is still extremely irritating, is said to stink because she considers bathing a decadent luxury.
  • Dark Jareth in Roommates inverts this trope; his wrongness has a distinctive odor, but it smells like peach.
  • In Rusty and Co., Madeline explains that a paladin's ability to detect evil is based on scent.
  • Space Boy:
    • Amy's synesthesia means that for particularly evil people like Saito and Langely, she tastes poison. This is actually a sign of He Who Wanders' influence over people; copper and iodine tainting someone's 'flavor' means he has some sort of hold over them. Saito had it particularly bad given how her entire flavor was overpowered.
    • Subverted with Mr. Silber from the FCP. He does the FCP's dirty work and covers up incidents, and might even play a part in 'erasing' certain people... but he has no poison in his flavor. Everything he does is completely his own choice, with no outside influence.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: According to the Encyclopedia Exposita, the smell of the Plague Zombie monsters can be reproduced with a mix of rotting salmon, arsenic and a little sunflower oil. If you're wondering why someone would want to make such a mix in-universe, it's used for Evil-Detecting Cat training.

    Web Original 
  • The Legatum series zig-zags this trope constantly. A lot of characters are noted for not bathing at all — villains and heroes alike. Some of the nicest characters in the series smell like excrement, and some of the vilest characters in the series are noted for smelling just as bad, to the point of being intolerant. Even King Chorn Torgash, one of the cleaner villains, has bad breath and smelly feet.
  • Reasoning has the Venator, a monstrous rat-like creature that smells like garbage and carrion.
  • A few shorts of the Japanese horror anthology "Tales of Terror From Tokyo" deal with this trope, including "The Smell", in which a young girl comes upon a kneeling woman who always faces her back and stinks of rotting meat (for some reason, the smell prompts her to try to call the police right before the ghost woman does her wacky hijinks on her), and "The Smell of Animal", where the visiting niece is the only character who finds her aunt's husband has a horribly repulsive smell. Through flashbacks, it's revealed that, in his youth, the husband enjoyed killing animals as a hobby and the smell latched onto him.

    Western Animation 
  • The Plutarkians from Biker Mice from Mars were a race of fish-like aliens who stole resources from other planets and also tended to smell horrible. There are even some Plutarkians who smell so rancid that they're considered too foul-smelling even to other Plutarkians: The Loogie Brothers and lawyer Perry Provoloni.
  • In Camp Lazlo, Mr. Meat Man from the Halloween special would be a progressive case. He started off as rancid inanimate and harmless canned meat construct, but continued rejection by Lazlo and his friends cause him to become increasingly hostile in addition to smelling even worse.
  • In Castlevania (2017), Varney is noted to smell bad. It is later revealed he smells that way because he is Death and reeks of it.
  • In Daniel Spellbound, Hoagie, a human-turned-magical-pig, had the power to detect good and evil magic and describes it by smell, with evil magic having a variety of bad smells.
  • Grandmaster Glitch of Go Jetters invokes this when he creates Eau de Glitch, "the world's stinkiest perfume". Its selling point is that it'll make everyone stay away from you, so you can clear out a room and have the place all to yourself.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: A sleepless Billy imagines his own bedtime story involving a Sickeningly Sweet town watched over by an evil wizard. A few changes to the story cause the wizard to become fat and smelly, much to his chagrin. The wizard makes a Heel–Face Turn in the end when he finds out how happy they are.
  • Grossology makes sweet, dirty love to this trope with a wide variety of their villains smelling awful. Sloppy Joe refuses to bathe because his unwashed stench is enough to knock people out, making committing crimes and robberies easy. Fartor is essentially a fart-themed Mister Freeze who requires noxious fart gas to survive and wears a suit that both bathes him in it and has weaponized it in his goal of covering the whole planet in methane. Kid Rot himself doesn't stink, but anything his rotting touch decomposes is noted to smell absolutely terrible. Darko Crevasse, the Slim Slime Man, and Dr. Cornelius Colon also all weaponize smelly things like an army of bats who drop pounds of guano on their targets, slime moulds from the sewers, and giant tapeworms respectively.
  • Masters of the Universe:
  • Molly of Denali: In "Bubbling Up", Lake Qyah smells like rotten eggs, which leads the kids to believe that there's a lake monster.
  • In Peppermint Rose, Bugoonya as a whole smells nasty, but the queen's smell is so bad anyone who comes near breaks out in sneezes.
  • There's a reason that the magic of the Big Bad in Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja is called "Stank". His distaff counterpatcan glamour her appearance, but is given away by an equally unpleasant smell. Subverted with the titular character, who regularly draws complaints that his smoke bombs smell terrible.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Velma is able to identify a Monster of the Week after realizing that the bad odor it emits is exactly like her colleague, Hot Dog Water.


Video Example(s):


Buddy, You Got A Dead Cat?

As it takes on more damage, the T-800's synthetic skin starts rotting to the point a janitor asks if it had "a dead cat in there or something." The robot responds rudely and resumes its chase against Sarah Connor.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / SmellsOfDeath

Media sources: