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Hollywood Voodoo

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"Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing inherently sinister about Voodoo. It is a blend of Roman Catholicism and African tradition, practiced mainly in Haiti and Louisiana. Curses, hexes, effigy dolls and potions are more often a part of Obia, an underground form of sorcery that is not connected to Voodoo."
Dennis Farina describing the difference between Voodoo and Obia in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries

This is a form of magic in either Caribbean or Louisianan flavors. Many practitioners call themselves priests or priestesses, and they almost always do have magical powers, regardless of whether or not the supernatural exists or is even mentioned elsewhere in The 'Verse.note  Sympathetic Voodoo Dolls (i.e., what you do to them appears on the person they represent) are a classic trick, as is making zombies. Other practitioners simply use tarot cards or other divination tools and they always work, even if they have to rewrite reality to do it. Shrunken Heads may also be present.

What you don't see in the depiction of Hollywood Voodoo is anything resembling actual religious practice. The Christian elements of Voodoo are almost never shown, and the animistic elements are heavily stereotyped. It may even be conflated with Hollywood Satanism in some egregious cases. The only deity ever mentioned is the death god Baron Samedi, and since Everybody Hates Hades, he's most often in an antagonist role of some sort. If he himself doesn't appear, male practitioners will dress like him by donning the famous tattered tuxedo, top hat, and skull makeup. Even if he's not a villain, it still leads to the mistaken idea that Vodou is centered around death and necromancy. It doesn't help that the most well-known cases relating to a voodoo priest or priestess are disasters caused or predicted by the priest(ess).

Real Life Vodou is a religion like any other; what Hollywood has is The Theme Park Version of hoodoo, the underlying folk magic system thereof. For more information, see Voudoun.

Not to be confused with Voodoo Shark, which is an explanation for a Plot Hole that raises more questions than the hole itself. There's plenty of overlap though, especially if—as mentioned earlier—the setting otherwise lacks any kind of magic.

Compare Gypsy Curse, Curse of the Pharaoh and Indian Burial Ground, similar curse-related tropes with similar ethnic baggage. Also compare Hollywood Satanism for other religions subjected to Demonization and Religion is Magic. Additionally compare Hollywood Dreamtime, Magical Native American and Ethnic Magician for magic associated with ethnic groups.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto: Keep the distinctive skin markings and dark sympathetic magic. Ditch the Japanese aesthetic and trademark characters. Hidan would belong in a Hollywood Voodoo movie, by accident or intent.


    Comic Books 
  • Batman: The Obeah Man is a Haitian gangster whose biggest claim to fame is killing Tim Drake's mother and paralyzing his father for years. His operations are relatively light on explicitly supernatural stuff, most of it being Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane (he uses a Voodoo Doll to kill one guy, but the guy was already plenty superstitious).
  • Deadpool: Black Talon is a voodoo cultist and necromancer.
  • Doctor Strange:
    • Brother Voodoo is a Haitian sorcerer who often collaborated with Doctor Strange.
    • Historical Domain Character Marie Laveau appears as a full-blown character in the Marvel Universe, where she actually possesses the full range of supernatural powers she claimed to have in Real Life.
  • Hellblazer: Papa Midnite is a voodoo practitioner, and has a couple of zombie servants. However, it shows him performing some nice representations of rituals, averting the trope.
    • There is also a voodoo-practising gang among the West Indian community of Brixton (a borough of London). They are pretty scary and when John seeks their aid he mentions that they are "The nastiest bastards this side of Brixton High Street", which raises the question of whom he knows on the other side of the street who are worse.
  • Horndog: Played for laughs. Voodoo spells are actually Frank Zappa and Wu-Tang Clan lyrics.
  • The Invisibles: Averted in one issue. Grant Morrison is well known for research on all his works, and he depicts a fairly realistic voodoo ritual, complete with fetish, idols, blood, candles and more of the stuff. Baron Samedi is shown and named, but he's just one of a lot of loa that the comic depicts.
  • Iznogoud: In "The Magic Doll", the sorcerer of a visiting African king gives Iznogoud a clay doll which, when a hair from the intended target is placed in it, can be used to make the target experience whatever the doll experiences. The initial demonstrations simply involve tickling the doll (reducing the usual guinea pig, Wa'at Alahf, to helpless laughter), but Iznogoud wants to put one of the Caliph's hairs in the doll before smashing it. Unsurprisingly, when the doll is thrown high into the air and shatters on the ground during a squabble between Iznogoud and the sorcerer, it is wearing Iznogoud's own hair, and the luckless vizier ends up in a full body cast.
  • Preacher: Jesse Custer seeks help from a Voodoo practitioner to get information out of his subconscious. While the ceremony is beginning, he comments on this trope, saying he thought the priest would be more like the James Bond example below. Immediately after he starts hallucinating and sees the priest as that character.
  • Teen Titans: Houngan combined Hollywood Voodoo with Applied Phlebotinum, using an "electronic voodoo doll" as his primary weapon.
  • Tex Willer: Averted, since the writers are rightly known for extremely accurate research. Aside for voodoo priests being able to actually raise zombies, voodoo rituals and practitioners are portrayed accurately, and we actually see mentioned the similar religion known as Santeria. Baron Samedi is mentioned by name, but they also make a point of stating he's just one of many loa, and the only reason he gets focused on is a story arc having an insane villain that believes himself to be him in a human body.
  • Spider-Man: Calypso is Haitian and practices Voodoo, even making use of zombies and tribesmen.
  • Superman: Baron Sunday is a crimelord who used Voodoo Dolls to assassinate his rivals.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Wonder Woman comes across a voodoo ceremony in Africa where the organizers are using drugs to knock out rival tribesmen and then enslave them and give them to the local Nazi group. The apparently villainous organizers are later shown to only be working for the Nazis because their women and children are being held hostage and their entire tribe has been threatened with the Death Ray the Nazis are developing.
  • Young Justice: Empress, a member of Young Justice, directly addresses the misconceptions about the vodoun she learned from her grandmother.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Mr. Oogie Boogie has a voodoo themed musical number in The Nightmare Before Christmas.
  • Lilo & Stitch: Lilo makes Voodoo dolls of the other girls and dunks them in pickle juice, blithely explaining that "my friends need to be punished." Probably justified since it’s likely Lilo's only understanding of voodoo is from this trope.
  • The Princess and the Frog uses plenty of this, to enhance its N'Awlins setting. Just watch Dr. Facilier's Villain Song "Friends on the Other Side" and you'll see how "voodoo" means the same as "magic" to Disney. Though, really, it's Disney. Everything is going to be magical, with or without the voodoo. And to the films credit, it also manages to avoid this trope at times. The villain seems to have some grounding in Hoo-Doo ritual. By his behaviour, he seems to be a bokor (a sort of professional Deal with the Devil middle man) — dealing with baka (not that baka) "bribable spirits" as opposed to a voodoo priest who would commune with the loa. This is supported by his comment that he can't conjure anything for himself. His good opposite is Mama Odie, a voodoo priestess, who is mostly a "Fairy Godmother" kind of character but also wears the signature white clothing of voodoo priestesses. Plus while Mama Odie's magic is fairly standard Disney magic, her benevolent usage of it is a nice aversion of the common "Voodoo is pure evil" trope prevalent in other entries. What also helps is when Facilier says "I've got voodoo, I've got hoodoo, I've got things I ain't even tried." implying he isn't stuck on any one tradition; he'll work with anything and anyone that can give him power.
  • Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is a textbook example, with the villains making cloth dolls of the heroes to immobilize them, and stealing people's souls, zombifying them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Child's Play film series, excluding the 2019 reboot,note  is based on this. Serial killer Charles Lee Ray is mortally wounded by a Chicago Police Detective and uses a voodoo spell to put his soul in the body of a "Good Guys" doll, kicking off the film and the series. He frequently tries to invoke the same voodoo spell to enter a new body and in the first film uses a Voodoo Doll on his mentor in order to find out how to do so. He learns he can only enter the body of the first person he reveals his true identity to. In Bride of Chucky, Tiffany reads a Voodoo for Dummies book to bring Ray's spirit back into the doll, and in Cult of Chucky has Chucky using a new spell to split his soul among multiple host bodies.
  • The early sound film White Zombie (1932) has a villain who uses voodoo to turn people into zombie slaves.
  • Most zombie movies prior to Night of the Living Dead (1968) have this. Val Lewton's I Walked with a Zombie is a notable quasi-subversion for making something like a good-faith baseline attempt to understand and depict the actual religion, tossing terms like "houngan" and "hounfort" into the conversation, and even - astonishingly, for the time and milieu - deciding that it's NOT a Religion of Evil, but merely a power with which one should not screw. Still has zombies and voodoo dolls, though.
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow is a post-Romero zombie movie that focuses exclusively on the voodoo element, detailing the use of a special Haitian drug that creates the zombie effect.
  • Subverted in the movie Dogma, when Loki makes a voodoo doll and, well, here is the whole thing:
    Loki: I forgot my little voodoo doll.
    [looks at Whitland]
    Loki: Wow. It really does look just like you. Maybe, if I believed enough...
    [pauses, then crushes voodoo doll of Whitland, who is terrified but unharmed]
    Loki: [laughs] I don't believe in voodoo.
    Loki: [re-enters with a gun] But I do believe in this.
    [shoots everyone]
  • Magic and Voodoo are central to the plot of Live and Let Die, in a film series where nothing else supernatural is even remotely mentioned. Most of it is faked and only used to keep the locals in line, but then you have Solitaire, who has a genuine Virgin Power-based precognition, and Baron Samedi, who's implied to be more than an Enigmatic Minion who moonlights as a performer.
  • Blues Brothers 2000: "Nassau's gone funky...". The film does pretty much run on Rule of Funny. At first all Queen Musette's powers seem to do is turn people's skin green and cause them to dance about stiffly to "calypso-funk" music (and temporarily lose their memory). But then we learn she can literally turn people to stone, as well as transform humans into rats.
  • Weekend at Bernie's II reanimates the titular corpse (which, due to a glitch in the spell, only works when calypso music is playing) and eventually turns two mooks into a pair of goats.
  • Pedro Cerrano in Major League, as a relatively minor example. "Jobu" and the specific rituals shown in the film are fictional in Hollywood Voodoo style, but the film depicts voodoo as a religion, shows "voodoo magic" as a form of prayer, and has an accurate mention of Jesus being revered as part of Voodoo theology.
  • The Skeleton Key uses voodoo and hoodoo as synonyms. In this film, hoodoo is all the power of suggestion... but said suggestions are so powerful that it the result is just magic.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • A central theme in Eve's Bayou. To the movie's credit, Hoodoo is pretty accurately portrayed (except for it being referred to as "Voodoo," though this might have been to avoid confusing audiences). In fact, the difference between Hollywood Voodoo and real hoodoo is Lampshaded; Mozelle sarcastically mentions "sticking pins into a doll" before saying that you can't kill someone with Voodoo, and she is Christian as many hoodoo rootworkers are. Elzora's method of killing Eve's father is more accurate to hoodoo. It's worth mentioning that Mozelle herself never refers to her own practices as Voodoo, this is mainly Eve's assumption.
  • Angel Heart: Subverted. Epiphany is seen taking part in a voodoo ritual where she douses herself with chicken blood, but her beliefs are shown to be pretty much harmless. The villain himself however is a Hollywood Satanist.
  • The titular villains in The Believers are members of a voodoo cult; based on a book titled The Religion. Played with in that while they practice an evil form of voodoun that requires Human Sacrifice (specifically of children), most of its members are upper class yuppies who have sold their humanity for fame and fortune. Only one member of the cult is African.
  • The title character of Beetlejuice plays a really mean prank on a voodoo priest in the movie's closing sequence. He comes to regret it almost immediately.
  • In King of the Zombies, Nazi agent Dr. Sangre running a voodoo cult on an isolated Caribbean island. He mostly interested in extracting information from a captured admiral via soul transference, but has also raised a small squad of zombies to act as muscle.
  • Predator 2 features King Willie, a voodoo practicing Jamaican drug lord. Downplayed, in that while he believes the Predator is a supernatural demon, he's not shown or implied to have any magic powers himself.
  • Shaw Brothers dabbled in this trope in more than one of their films, including Seeding of a Ghost, The Boxer's Omen and Black Magic 1975. More often than not, their attempts at portraying voodoo results in copious amounts of Body Horror depicted onscreen and Demonic Possession that results in victims being Driven to Suicide. Seeding in particular had a demon baby summoned by a voodoo ritual suddenly taking on a physical, One-Winged Angel form at the end which then goes on a brutal rampage, killing people left and right.
  • In the "Voodoo" segment of Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Biff Bailey is cursed when he steals sacred music from a voodoo ceremony and attempts to use it for his own gain.
  • The Big Bad of I Eat Your Skin puts on a mask and convinces the local natives to start a Human Sacrifice-happy voodoo cult, with his zombies as their enforcers.

  • Parodied in the Discworld novel Witches Abroad. Discworld's magic has a tendency to make beliefs real, and enough people believing strongly enough can do just about anything. The voodoo works because the voodoo witch, Mrs. Gogol, believes it will... and then she makes the mistake of trying it on Granny Weatherwax, who knows all about belief and magic. She makes the spell backfire ... literally. Unlike most Hollywood Voodoo examples, "Baron Saturday" is characterized as dangerous, but not evil.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe
    • The Doctor Who New Adventures novel White Darkness by David McIntee uses spelling as a distinguishing feature: American soldiers who don't know what they're talking about refer to "voodoo" and "zombies", native Haitans and the Doctor talk of "vodoun" and "zombi". Mind you, despite McIntee Showing His Work there's still an evil voudon priest who actually worships the Great Old Ones...
    • The City of the Dead is set in New Orleans, and as the story deals heavily with magic and the occult, mentions of Voodoo practices are mentioned (and are on display in a few scenes). And unlike most Doctor Who stories, there is no scientific explanation for the sorcery on display, the magic is real and the Doctor at one point befriends a real magical being in a naiad.
  • Older Than Radio, despite the trope name: In 1884, English diplomat Spencer St. John published Hayti; or The Black Republic, a highly negative and sensationalistic tome based loosely on his experiences in Haiti. According to St. John, Voodoo (or Vaudoux as he spells it) consists of sexual debauchery, black magic, raising the dead, ritualistic cannabalism, and blood sacrifice (both animal and human).
  • Count Zero:
    • There are entities in the matrix that appear to be loa (Legba appears most often, but Baron Samedi shows up as well), even riding certain deckers as "horses". They're actually A.I.s, fragments of Neuromancer and Wintermute.
    • Beauvoir and his crew are Voudon believers, but nothing much is ever made of it. They explain their beliefs (which are in line with actual Voudon) when asked, but are otherwise quietly religious like pretty much anyone.
  • The Dream Park novel The California Voodoo Game isn't about voodoo (much). One suspects that the title was chosen because more people have heard of "voodoo" than what it's actually about, or (for an in-universe reason) that the game was given that title as a red herring to keep people who boned up on vodou and Hollywood Voodoo from gaining an "edge" due to out-of-character knowledge.
  • Despite the title, averted in That Hoodoo Voodoo That You Do due to the amount of research into the cultural practices of the religion for the opening story. Ironically, voodoo only plays a role in a couple of other stories. Otherwise, the anthology has nothing to do with the religion.
  • Dave Barry Slept Here describes Ronald Reagan's "Reaganomics" as having been "based on the theory that the government could lower taxes while increasing spending and at the same time actually reduce the federal budget by sacrificing a live chicken by the light of a full moon. Bush charged that this amounted to 'voodoo economics,' which got him into hot water until he explained that what he meant to say was 'doo-doo economics.'"
  • The Dresden Files: No actual Voodoo practicioners of any kind (Hollywood or otherwise) have shown up yet, but Harry has performed a ritual to summon Ulsharavas, an oracle spirit who serves Mama Erzulie, and bartered for information with her. Ulshavaras is portrayed as far more benevolent than most spiritual entities in the series, though she has a nasty streak (among other things, she consistently calls Harry a bokor, or warlock - though she does soften somewhat when he admits that he made some bad choices).
  • A voodoo cult is featured in The Call of Cthulhu. They're of course all cannibals who worship the titular Great Old One and are killed by the police.
  • This is a plot point in the Micro Adventure book Spellbound, where a BRUTE agent is supposedly using voodoo curses to weaken athletes and any opposition. An ACT expert on legitimate voodoo beliefs, agent Skull, realizes that the villain's actions are strictly Hollywood and bear no resemblance to any real practices, leading him to suspect a hoax. He's 100% right; the curses are the product of a voiceprint-based biochemical agent and psychological manipulation.
  • Subverted in the The Shadow novel "The Voodoo Master". Rodil Mocquino is play-acting as a Hollywood Voudoun, using the trappings of Voodoo, including wax voodoo dolls and making zombi. In reality, he is actually a Mad Scientist and criminal who uses the voodoo schtick to keep his unwitting cultists in line note .

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bones:
    • An episode set in New Orleans (after Hurricane Katrina) centered around the machinations of an evil voodoo priest. Brennan and Booth also recruited a houngan ("good" priest) to help them catch the villain. However, all the murders in the episode were accomplished by quite ordinary means. They do a quite good job of leaving the belief and ambiguity there. Did Bones have issues remembering what happened because of the Voodoo spell, or the blow to the head?
    • Another interesting aspect comes from Booth and Bones discussing Voodoo. While Booth, a practicing Christian, frequently insults Voodoo, Bones calls him out on the fact that he's being a Jerkass because of all the Hijacked by Jesus Hollywood Voodoo in media. Indeed, when the topic of bringing people back from the dead come up, which Booth discusses as silly, Bones points out the Christian belief that Jesus came back to life after dying on the Cross.
      Booth: Jesus was not a zombie!
  • In one episode of My Name Is Earl, Catalina's nephew practices something similar to voodoo, possibly Santeria.
  • Doubly subverted on Castle, as Rick actually talked to a practitioner about the religion, and she was portrayed as a normal, non-stereotypical person. When he saw her after writing the book he had gone to her to research, she was somewhat annoyed at the way he portrayed her religion (which, apparently, was more along the lines of traditional Hollywood Voodoo).
  • Played with in an episode of Heroes, where the Petrelli brothers end up in Haiti and come across dolls tied to a tree. Nathan makes a sarcastic comment about Voodoo, to which Peter replies that they're not voodoo dolls, but are for some other ceremony. They aren't mentioned anywhere else in the episode, and Peter gave an uncharacteristic National Geographic-esque description. The writers must have felt obligated to mention Voodoo in an episode where they visit Haiti.
  • The Tales from the Darkside episode "Parlour Floor Front" deals with this, though it's subverted in that the practitioner is easily the most sympathetic character in the episode and simply wants to live and let live, which stands in stark contrast to his Jerkass landlady.
  • In a 7 Days (1998) episode, a Hollywood Voodoo practitioner prays for a miracle that will save her friend from the electric chair. She's a little disappointed when that "miracle" turns out to be Frank. At the end of the episode, she recruits the help of the episode's Big Bad's wife to save an innocent man's life and punish her husband in a voodoo ritual. Possibly an aversion. While the Voodoo practitioner does have the stereotypical look, she's a good guy who seems to practice it more as a real religion, albeit an oddly effective one. The episode keeps it ambiguous whether or not her "spells"/prayers actually do cause things to turn out alright or if Frank showing up et al. are just coincidences.
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries has the episode "Voodoo Doll", which has to be seen to be believed. The least of the episode's sins is confusing Haitian and New Orleans Voodoo. Add to that condescending, near-racist comments by the Hardys towards the religion, a white stuffy British professor who is somehow a Voodoo High Priest (with the Haitian Voodoo Priest stated to be his "protoge"), "authentic" Voodoo dolls, tarot cards called "Voodoo cards" (though their apparent accuracy is actually a Mind Screw used by the villain to psych the Hardys out), and obvious stage magic presented as the real thing...and, of course, all the Voodoo practitioners are evil and practice human sacrifice. Though the episode does have one point in its favor: Baron Samedi is not mentioned at all, and during a fake Voodoo ceremony, the practitioners summon "Papa Legba" instead.
  • Law & Order: A long-term viewing of the franchise will tell you that someone in the writer's room has some hang-ups about Santeria. From a child killer on The Mothership who claims to hear the voice of a saint, to a ritualist on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit who's fingered for child sacrifice, to a fraudulent and murderous faith healer on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, there isn't really a lot of positive portrayal of the faith. It's actually subverted on SVU. The actual practitioners are portrayed as normal people, who insist that the murder goes against everything their religion stands for. The detectives (eventually) listen, and start looking for other possibilities. Their ADA is even hesitant about getting the search warrant because of the religious grounds. The murderer was actually a pedophile (and didn't actually practice Santeria) hoping to disguise it as a ritualistic killing.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Catspaw", Sylvia holds a tiny figure of the Enterprise over a candle, and the ship in orbit heats up dangerously.
  • The X-Files: The episode "Fresh Bones" features basically a voodoo war of revenge. There's a clever subversion to the usual Religion of Evil aspect of Hollywood Voodoo when we find out that the only one using it to harm people is a greedy American.
  • The villain of the Starsky & Hutch episode "Murder on Voodoo Island" is an evil witch doctor of this kind.
  • Wiseguy: Two factions struggling for control of a Carribean island try to influence Arms Dealer Mel Profitt with voodoo, though in that case it's because they know he believes in that sort of thing; apart from one use of hypnosis, no-one's shown to have any special powers.
  • Due South had an episode titled "Mojo Rising" featuring a Haitian community (who strangely all talked with American accents) which revolved around a local Voodoo church. The writers clearly had done quite a bit of research (there are a lot of accurate terms), but it did have rival voodoo practitioners casting curses on each other and the police station on the receiving end of a voodoo curse (which turned out to mostly be a whole lot of grass seed, which started growing after the fire alarm was set off
  • Parodied in the I Love Lucy episode where Little Ricky is born. Ricky is dressed up as a voodoo guy for his show at the club and doesn't want to take time to change before rushing to the hospital, thus freaking out the nurses.
  • Also listed above in comics, Baron Sunday appeared in an episode of Lois & Clark. He was a copter pilot who was framed for drug smuggling thanks to one of Clark Kent's early bylines (Clark was deceived by the real smugglers into believing that the pilot was guilty). He had apparently learned voodoo while on the run from the law, and now used that magic to get revenge on Clark.
  • Given the cliche nature of voodoo in Hollywood, critics mocked the 1989 TV series A Man Called Hawk for trotting out its use in its first season. The series folded two episodes later. This may have led to the world's first instance of Jumping the Voodoo Shark.
  • In the Gilligan's Island episode "Voodoo", a witch doctor arrives on the island and uses Voodoo Dolls to take control of the castaways (and turn the Professor into a zombie).
  • Hoodoo is used by the Winchesters from Supernatural from time to time in their cases. In "Mannequin 3: The Reckoning", wherein a spirit is anchored to a kidney she donated to her sister, Sam mentions hoodoo as a stopgap measure for dealing with the ghost.
  • Probably one of the most offensive examples of this trope was in The Incredible Hulk (1977). Firstly, the main Voodoo practitioner was a con-man using the religion to manipulate his followers. Secondly, the followers were portrayed as so naive that they literally could not tell that the con man was using fireworks (despite living in 20th-century America), until David pointed it out to him, and believed the small explosions he created to be magical in nature. Finally, and probably worst, a doctor who deceptively pretended to be a Voodoo practitioner to manipulate the people into letting her perform medical treatment on them WITHOUT THEIR INFORMED CONSENT, effectively doing EXACTLY WHAT THE CON MAN WAS DOING, was portrayed as completely justified.
  • Zig-zagged in the MacGyver (1985) episode "Walking Dead". The villains use a voodoo cult as part of their protection racket. The episode at least pays lip service to voudon being a genuine religion and that what the villains are doing is a perversion of it. Mama Lorraine, the local voudon priestess, interrogates a man by pretending to be going into a trance/becoming possessed in order to scare him into revealing information... then goes back to normal. When the man is surprised, she comments that "voodoo is my religion. That was Saturday morning cartoon." In the case mentioned above, it's also noted that she considers the villains to be charlatans (rightly as it turns out). To some extent, Truth in Television; the villains were former members of the government of Duvalier, who did in fact like to associate himself with voodoo imagery for effect.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World: Danielle, a voodoo priestess, uses physical objects from the explorers to cause them sickness, creates zombies with her magic (who are cured of their trance with salt). (Meat and salt are traditional cures for zombies.)
  • Mission: Impossible: The IMF indulge in some of this as part of their plan to cause a falling out among the bad guys in "Bayou". Their voodoo is meant to be fake, of course, but their ritual does convince someone who is supposed to be a genuine believer.
  • American Horror Story:
    • Papa Legba is shown in American Horror Story: Coven along with historical voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. In this depiction, he has more in common with Baron Samedi, however. One of the witches, Queenie, is a "human voodoo doll", able to inflict harm on others by inflicting on herself.
    • Laveau and Papa Legba return in American Horror Story: Apocalypse, as does Queenie (despite being dead).
  • Utterly averted, surprisingly enough, in an episode of Friday the 13th: The Series — Jack Marshak, resident Cool Old Guy, The Mentor, and knowledge-broker in all things occult, gives a somewhat-abbreviated but completely accurate depiction of the true nature and beliefs of Voudoun (complete with footage of actual ceremonies!), the innocents being terrorized in the episode are benevolent, wise priests and priestesses, and while Micki and especially Ryan are wary at first due to Hollywood Voodoo depictions, eventually they come to realize the faith is a perfectly valid, good, harmless belief system and join in rather enthusiastically with the cultural carnival being held. The only aspects of this trope which appear in the episode are all being carried out by the Villain of the Week, and they are stated repeatedly to be evil, twisted perversions and not a part of true Voudoun at all.
  • In Orange Is the New Black, Gloria practices Santeria and helps the Latina prisoner with their problems. In season 3 there is a plot where Norma, a white prisoner, also begins practicing fake Santeria after Gloria's spell to get rid of Vee worked in the 2nd season finale which angers Gloria.
  • Hammer House of Horror: The fetish doll in the episode "Charlie Boy".
  • Cloak & Dagger (2018) takes place in New Orleans, and provides an accurate view of Vodun. A local priestess is even the closest thing the main characters have to a mentor. It's also noted that a person can practice Vodun at the same time as more mainstream religions. Since season two we also know that at least in the Darkforce dimension (which kinda runs on metaphor) the loas are real as both Baron Samedi and Papa Legba made an appearance there. It does stretch things a bit, though, altering some traditional practices for Rule of Drama (such as Ty's now ex-girlfriend Evita having to marry a loa to save him).
  • Yancy Derringer: In "V is for Voodoo", Yancy tries to combat superstition when the city is terrorized by a mysterious voodoo priestess.
  • Although it had already been established that the supernatural does exist in The Greatest American Hero's setting, the voodoo priest in "A Chicken in Every Plot" is revealed to be a fraud, manipulating people to help him commit crimes.
  • Double subverted on the Murdoch Mysteries episode "The Curse Of Beaton Manor". Constable Crabtree thinks that the Beaton brothers are being killed due to a voodoo curse, although they're actually being killed by the biracial brother they treated like crap, who faked his death using voodoo-related techniques and killed them using conventional methods. Then, at the end of the episode voodoo turns out to be Real After All when the last brother is killed by a practioner using a doll. Notably, the Beaton brothers were Asshole Victims whose racist behavior makes them a lot less sympathetic and the voodoo practioner less of a clear-cut villain.
  • The Auction Hunters found a collection of voodoo relics in a storage locker that they sold to some local practitioners. The practitioners warned Alan and Ton that they might have been cursed by handling the objects, and did a purification ceremony to dispel any curses they picked up.
  • Tales from the Crypt, In "'Til Death", Psyche is voodoo priestess who can make Love Potions that work (even beyond the grave) and raise zombies.
  • Played with for laughs in the M*A*S*H episode "Preventative Medicine", where Klinger decides to engage in voodoo antics as a Section-8 gambit. He's procured "voodoo tools" such as a non-identified powder and a feather duster, a raw chicken taken from the camp kitchen, and a voodoo doll of Colonel Potter, which Klinger threatens to pin if Potter doesn't sign his discharge. In the end, he decideds to do it anyway, at which point, this plot collides with the main plot note  As Klinger sticks the doll, he hears bellowing from the swamp, and sees Hawkeye and BJ carrying Col. Lacey doubled over in pain, and suddenly believes that he somehow Voodoo-ed the wrong colonelnote . Klinger, suddenly remorseful, turns over his paraphanalia to Fr. Mulcahy... except for the chicken, which he decides to return to the kitchen...

  • Priest has the titular character use a voodoo doll against a foe with a Body Surf ability. It worked because the magic targeted his soul rather than the body.

  • King Diamond's song "Voodoo" is a Take That! to people who believe that Hollywood Voodoo is actual voodoo.
  • Sergio Mendes and Brazil '77 have a cheery number on their 1972 Primal Roots album called "Pomba Gira". It did get some airplay on pop radio stations, scarily enough....
  • This was pretty strong stuff on the public airwaves, as well.
  • And there's a band called "Salt for Zombies".
  • Insane Clown Posse's "Southwest Voodoo":
    "A head from a newt, a wing from a bat"
    A tongue from a snake, a tail from a rat
    A neck from a chicken, an eye from a crow
    And a little itty bitty little drip of Faygo"

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The WWF briefly played host to Papa Shango, a wrestling vodoun who used his voodoo curses against his opponents, causing matches to be thrown out when his opponents' boots caught fire and they started projectile vomiting. Charles Wright (later known as The Godfather) had previously done rough versions of the Shango gimmick in the independents as the Soultaker and Baron Samedi.
    • Shango is one of the most important deities in Voodoo and other African faiths, but he doesn't remotely resemble what the WWF version. Papa Shango is shown with skull face paint and top hat, just like Baron Samedi, but authentic portrayals of him show him as an African king who with a lightning axe and is often compared to the Norse God Thor.
  • GLOW's Big Bad Mama. Can't beat a wrestler? Make her dance herself into exhaustion.
  • TNA had "The Voodoo Queen" Roxxi Laveaux, who was inserted into the Voodoo Kin Mafia. Previous to her entry, the group had absolutely nothing to do with Voodoo (or Mafia; the name was just a dig at Vince McMahon's initials). After a bit of Roxxi gyrating and "purple mist", she soon had nothing to do with Voodoo either.
  • Booker T would dabble in some Hoodoo magic after he drew the ire of The Undertaker on Thursday Night Smackdown. Unfortunately, he got scared and ran off before the results of the bokor's spell could take effect, meaning he now thought he could beat the Undertaker but really had nothing but confidence and still lost.
  • GLOW's Spiritual Successor Wrestlicious had another such practitioner called White Magic.
  • Averted in Memphis Ladies Wrestling, where "The Three Amigos" Josie, Misty James and Helena Heavenly practiced "hoodoo", according to Alere Little Feather, but in no way subscribed to any kind of voodoo faith, nor did they make use of any of its imagery. (Under a different name Josie opposed straight example White Magic as a baby face in Wrestlicious). On the opposite end, Nina Monet is a wrestling mambo, but doesn't practice hoodoo (although she has in other promotions, periodically "dispelling" the ring of Platinum Championship Wrestling in Georgia).
  • Justified with Chicago area Elayna Black, who makes use of "New Orleans traditions", including "voodoo" imagery, to imtimidate her opponents, but doesn't claim to have any knowedge of or interest in the religion itself. She is strictly a "witch" who will latch onto anything morbid or scary looking to unnerver or anger her opponents.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mage: The Awakening
    • Averted. There is a Legacy of mages who raise zombies and have a strongly vodoun bent. However, they name themselves the Bokor, and base themselves almost entirely around the aspect of the religion of the same name.
    • Mage's "Magical Traditions" introduces Southern Conjure as a legitimate "flavor" upon which to hang your character's actions. It's fairly respectful, well researched, and differentiates between voudon and hoodoo, although it offers a special merit called "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" that basically turns any mage into a walking, talking Fate Arcana magnet.
  • Mage: The Ascension has the Bata'a, an umbrella-term for Mages who practice Vodou-based magic. For a long time, it was the largest independent Craft in the world (i.e., not part of the Traditions), before joining the shamanic Dreamspeakers.
  • Masque of the Red Death, being a Gothic Horror roleplaying game set on a version of 1889 Earth where magic and monsters are real, naturally features voodoo as a prominent part of society in Haiti and New Orleans, complete with undead zombies, mind control, and voodoo priests who run the gamut from benign spiritual protectors to malicious sorcerers.
  • Scion generally averts the trope by featuring the Loa as one of the pantheons and elaborating on their influences. While the signature character of Brigitte de la Croix does raise zombies and drive a hearse, it's not because she practices voudon, but because her dad's Baron Samedi. And her rival is a daughter of Erzulie who plays the hell out of the "love goddess" imagery.
  • Ravenloft's domain of Souragne, being based on Southern Gothic tropes, naturally has a pseudo-voodoo religion as the only native faith (contrasting the Crystal Dragon Jesus of Ezra in the core). From its earliest days, it's been described as a religion based on a deep respect for nature and which worships spirits of animals, plants, elements, places and concepts called "the loa", who have a physical presence and have sometimes been implid to be unusually powerful fey creatures. Except for the evil Baron Samedi analogue, The Lord of Death, who is actually Souragne's darklord Anton Misroi. 3rd edition even has a full-fledged class to represent a loa-worshipping priest, called the Voodan, with a firm reminder that voodans are not representative of real-world voodoo practitioners and encouraging players to treat the living religion with respect.
  • Mutants & Masterminds' Freedom City universe has the supervillain Baron Samedi, who mixes this with Witch Doctor. On the other hand, they also have a teen superheroine who gets her powers from a loa of the sea. Word of God is that Siren and Samedi are supposed to give Voodoo the same treatment as Wonder Woman does Greek Mythology and The Mighty Thor does Norse Mythology. (So a certain amount of inaccuracy is arguably part of the homage.)
  • Vampire: The Masquerade
    • The game has the Samedi, a bloodline of Vampires who are either (depending on your interpretation) descended from the actual Baron Samedi or a Vampire who thought he was. Or a branch of the Cappadocians who deliberately aggravated their clan Weakness to hide from the Giovanni and took up the voodoo trappings as part of the disguise.
    • There are also the Serpents of Light, the Sabbat antitribu of the Followers of Set (who consider them heretics for denying Sutekh), who have their own Vodou-based Blood Magic paths and worship Damballah.
  • In the GURPS sourcebook GURPS Voodoo: The Shadow War, players can create ritual adepts who use either Voodoo trappings or Hermetic rituals to channel subtle magical effects and command spirit beings. The Shadow War mentioned in the title is between the Hermetic Orders, an Ancient Conspiracy who secretly control the western world, and the Voodoo Lodges who have begun to fight back and subvert their authority, with both sides also having to deal with dark adepts, their evil spirit allies, and their Dark Masters.
  • Call of Cthulhu has some Voodoo spells, including dolls, contacting/summoning loa and spirits, hexes, protection, and Create Zombi (distinguished from Create Zombie). But, like all magic in CoC they cost the caster SAN.
  • Deadlands
    • The sourcebook featuring Voodoo-based mystics actually is pretty faithful to the reality. It's even established that they typically need "conjure bags" to perform their magic, and they're better at keeping zombies from rising in the first place than rising them. A few of the more cinematic elements do slip in, however.
    • There are villainous characters who use Hollywood Voodoo elements, but they are explicitly described as using black magic dressed up with a few vaguely understood African religious trappings, and it is made abundantly clear that their magic has absolutely nothing to do with the Voodoo faith, or any other African religion for that matter.
  • The pirates sourcebook for All Flesh Must Be Eaten is also pretty meticulous about doing its homework on voodoo.
  • In Castle Falkenstein, one of the leaders of the Free State of Orleans (or as close as that Wretched Hive has to leaders) is Marie Laveau, who is immortal and eternally youthful and defends the country from foreign reprisals for its Pirate economy with her zombi army.
  • The Blindwater Congregation in the Iron Kingdoms is a loose military alliance comprised mostly of alligator-men worshipping and using what appears to be a fairly bloody version of the classic Hollywood Voodoo; filled with dead zombie-like thralls, Loa-like gods and many, MANY candles everywhere. Slightly subverted in that references to Christianity does exist in the faction (though the equivalent faith has nothing to do with the Gatormen in the first place), through shrines that seem remarkably Abrahamic in style and design.
  • The Dragon Tree Spell Book. The spell Baron Samidi's Voodoo Spell requires the caster to make a doll that looks like the intended victim and includes body parts of the victim (hair, skin, nail clippings etc.). Any damage done to the doll (e.g. sticking it with a pin) causes appropriate damage to the victim.
  • Cyberpunk has the Voodoo Boys gang, a group of drug-dealing Bomb-Throwing Anarchists that practiced Hollywood Satanism. However, this led to violence between them and actual Vodou practitioners who took offense, forcing the gang to restructure.
  • The Cursed from Pirates Constructible Strategy Game have a number of voodoo practitioners among their ranks, either making zombies to crew their ships or control giant sea monsters to attack their enemies. The Americans have a "friendly" practitioner in George Washington Lebeaux, who can direct or redirect sea monsters with a good dice roll.

    Video Games 
  • Played with in Cyberpunk 2077. The Voodoo Boys gang are a group of Haitian netrunners who surround their hacking expertise with a veneer of ominous imagery derived from Afro-Caribbean beliefs. However, they don't actually believe in Vodou, and merely appropriated the name and aesthetic from the previous iteration of the gang mentioned above after they became defunct.
  • A central theme in the Monkey Island games. "Voodoo" is just the game term for any form of magic or supernatural act, and is not treated as inherently good or evil. The main expository figure of the series is the "Voodoo Lady", who deals mostly in divination and is never seen to use malicious spells on anyone (though she may well have arranged for others to use them). Big Bad LeChuck is apparently a practitioner as well, having used voodoo dolls on occasion and notably being able to bring himself Back from the Dead at will. Even the main character has created voodoo devices and cast spells on his own.
  • Averted in the first Gabriel Knight game, which features extensive exposition on actual, real-life voodoo and its history. Although they somewhat shot themselves in the foot on the issue when the owner of the historical voodoo museum, who gives a lot of exposition about the religious and historical context of voodoo turns out to be an evil cultist after all, whose leader is possessed by the spirit of a dead voodoo priestess. Not that that makes his information any less accurate.
    • Gabriel also contacts a white New Orleans voodooienne and a professor of Anthropology who specializes in the history of Louisiana folk beliefs. All three of his sources have very different perspectives on voodoo, Voudoun and the supernatural in general, and none of them is consistently in the right, but they all provide pieces.
    • When it comes to the so-called "Voodoo Murders" the police realize that the murders match real voodoo very badly and conclude the murders were committed by a non-worshipper who decided to dress up their killings with some Hollywood Voodoo trappings. They're Right for the Wrong Reasons. The Voodoo Murders are accurate, but to one of voodoo's West African parent religions, not New Orleans voodoo.
  • Bliss Stage Love Is Your Weapon:
    • Invoked by the appearance of Keenan Caine's ANIMa, the Chevalier Delacroix.
    • Keenan himself actually knows better, and identifies with the positive aspects of the Baron Samedi.
  • A minor mission chain in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has Tommy being gradually zombified by a voodoo priestess crime boss.
  • Zig-zagged in Saints Row 2 with the Sons of Samedi, a Caribbean-based drug cartel with a Vodou shtick. While they milk the image for all it's worth, most of the gang is made up of local college kids who joined for the cheap drugs. Mr. Sunshine, the Samedi's top enforcer, seems to be a true believer, however, and the creepy asshole is referred to as a "Witch Doctor" by several characters. Sunshine's unexplained mystical powers come to bear in his boss fight, where he uses a Voodoo Doll to give himself Nigh-Invulnerability and toss the Boss around the room and keeps reanimating even after getting filled full of lead until he's finally decapitated with his own machete.
  • Montezuma, a voodoo priest who can be hired as a henchman in Evil Genius. His description reads: 'To the outsider, the principles and rituals of voodoo seem dark and sinister, but generally they are not. In the case of Montezuma, however, they certainly are.'
  • The villainous Prawlers in Dark Reign 2 have a Voodoon for a healing unit and as an ultimate weapon they can summon Baron Samedi - a hulking demon-like brute. The "actual" Baron Samedi is supposed to look something like this and is a relatively benign, if highly hedonistic, unrestrained, lustful and foul-mouthed entity that overwatches the transition of souls to the otherworld and sometimes cures and protects the living.
  • Gabriel Tosh in StarCraft II is even capable of creating and using a working voodoo doll. Well, working in that it affected someone. Just not the right person. He's also psychic. For all we know, this was actually a way of getting around the neural inhibitors he has. The lore comments that Spectres, which is what Tosh is, tend to be eccentric and carry totems that they believe enhance their power, though they may nothing about actual voodoo.
  • The trolls in World of Warcraft practice a voodoo-type religion, referring to their gods as the loa. One of them shows up in the pre-Cataclysm quest chain to retake the Echo Isles, and is — of course — named Bwonsamdi.
    Stay away from da voodoo...
    • As of the expansion Battle for Azeroth Bwonsamdi has become a main character, being the spirit guide resurrecting Horde players in Zandalar, taking part in the siege on Dazar'alor, and is expected to feature in the afterlife-focused Shadowlands expansion.
  • Diablo III's Witch Doctor class is quite clearly this trope played straight: they can summon walls of zombies, conjure poisonous frogs and scare monsters with a giant ghostly totem.
    • This could be Handwaved by the fact that Voodoo is not mentioned in the game, so the witch doctor might actually be practicing a different religion that resembles Hollywood Voodoo.
    • The short story indicates the Witch Doctors commune with the spirits of the dead in a ghostly realm they call the "Unformed Land" and are able to call them forth to animate their zombies. Witch Doctors are respected spiritual leaders in their culture. In-game the Witch Doctor often mentions the spirits have told him about events or other characters.
  • Escape From St. Mary's offers Mrs. Desai, which fans tend to call "the voodoo lady." Her voodoo potion involves throwing ingredients into a cauldron in the chemistry lab.
  • In the PlayStation 1 and Windows PC video game adaptation of Lilo & Stitch, titled Lilo & Stitch: Trouble in Paradise, Lilo's basic attack is to hold a glowing voodoo doll out at her enemies to defeat them for understandable gameplay balance reasons.
  • Mafia III mostly averts or lampshades the trope. One of Lincoln's top lieutenants is Cassandra of the Haitian Mob, who plays up a lot of rumors of herself having dark mystical voodoo powers. In person, nothing suggests any of these rumors are true, and the most you see the Haitians do is have a couple prayers over trash fires. There's also a theme park in Delray Hollow that bases itself on voodoo lore, but clearly was made by people who didn't know anything about it.

  • At one point, Penny Arcade had a voodoo doll as a throwaway joke. When trying to figure out how to get rid of it, Gabe and Tycho settled on burning it. Cue the victim walking down a sunny street whistling a merry tune...and then "MY FLESH!"
  • Sluggy Freelance had Gwynn make a voodoo doll of Riff in an attempt to gain revenge on him; she quickly threw it in a cupboard when Zoe came into the room, with the result that Riff immediately threw himself into a cupboard.
  • The "Come Swing From My Branches" arc of Skin Horse features a New Orleans Voodoo priest who insists that the doll thing is actually hoodoo and zombies are victims of TTX poisoning. While talking to a reanimated abomination of science. Eventually, he decides that he can do the whole "respect the dead" thing by being gentlemanly to the cute zombie girl.
    Remy: I was supposed to donate these body parts to science...
    Unity: I'm science!

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • The PJs features Haiti Lady, a practicing Voodoo priestess. Of course, the extent of her powers varies from episode to episode. They work fine for throwaway gags, but not for anything plot-relevant. The most believable curse, at least to the other residents, is giving Sanchez (a lifelong smoker) cancer of the larynx.
  • One episode of 2 Stupid Dogs had Secret Squirrel battle a Voodoo-practicing goat who has made dolls of Super and The Chief to control them. Morocco Mole finds the dolls and starts playing with them. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Fairly OddParents! had an episode where Timmy wished up "Yoo Doo" dolls that could control anyone. Needless to say, Hilarity Ensues!
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: The eponymous "big secret" of "Heloise's Big Secret" are voodoo dolls she made of everyone in Miseryville. Unfortunately, Jimmy and Beezy discover them, and think they're actual dolls she's been playing with.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has the recurring character Zecora, a zebra who's pretty obviously a "voodoo-lady". Speaks with a quasi-Caribbean accent, has various loa-style masks about her home (deep in the spooky marshy forest, of course), and practices low-grade magics and illusions, as well as becoming the local apothecary. Quasi-subversion of the normal trope, though, in that it's not "real magic" (which only unicorns can do) but rather practiced rituals, tricks, and herbal concoctions. Unlike most voodooiennes in fiction, Zecora is never portrayed as evil or self-serving. Creepy, yes. Incomprehensible, yes. Strange, yes. Evil, no.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "To Save a Squirrel", Squidward tries to torture SpongeBob and Patrick with two voodoo dolls in their likenesses, then gets frustrated when they don't work.
  • Similar to the Zombie Island example, the The Scooby-Doo Show episode "Mamba Wamba and the Voodoo Hoodoo" is this in spades, featuring a band's members gradually being abducted and replaced by creepy voodoo dolls of them, and zombies.
  • Played With in Fright Krewe - voodoo mysticism is on full display, but the show makes a point mention that it’s not all about voodoo dolls and such. The story follows a descendent of real life voodoo priestess Marie Laveau and her classmates as they are blessed by the loa - a group of voodoo spirits - to battle an ancient demon on the streets of New Orleans.

    Real Life 
  • Marie Laveau of Louisiana (often the inspiration for a lot of Hollywood Voodoo stories) subverted this trope by being a real life practitioner, but also exploiting it by encouraging the locals to think she had an arsenal of powers and jinxes. In reality, she was most likely using local superstitions to curry favours and influence New Orleans' wealthy folk, and using her day job as a hairdresser to pick up on local gossip.
  • There are some places in New Orleans and Haiti that sell "Voodoo Dolls" to ignorant tourists.
  • Adolfo Constanzo, a crime boss and cult leader in Matamoros, was a Serial Killer known to have murdered people for Human Resources to use in his potions. His crimes were eventually stopped after he abducted an American medical student to use his brain in a spell.
  • Fancois Duvalier, dictator of Haiti from 1957 to 1971, claimed to be a voodoo priest and even a Physical God, calling himself "Papa Doc" and dressing like Baron Samedi to enforce this image. He believed that he and his rivals had magic powers, once ordering a cull of black dogs under the belief that one of his chief rivals could turn into a black dog.


Video Example(s):


LaTour Museum guided tour

"Cry of the Werewolf" opens with a guided tour of the LaTour museum, in which the tour guide explains to his audience Dr. Charles Morris's compiled lore on the supernatural.

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Example of:

Main / LectureAsExposition

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