Follow TV Tropes


Holy Burns Evil

Go To
"Back, fiend!"

"Only two things can break through Spawn's defenses and hurt him: Necro-magic and holy weapons forged in Heaven."
Boomstick, DEATH BATTLE!, "Kratos vs. Spawn"

Some biologically or spiritually evil things react violently to holy stuff, causing not just physical pain but violent and fearful reactions.

In worlds with multiple ideas of what counts as "holy" — like, for example, this one — this can play in a few ways, such as:

  1. Evil creatures are repelled by a holy object of the faith they believe in/used to believe in/are associated with. For instance, a Jewish creature of evil is repelled by Torah scrolls and menorahs, but laughs at crosses.
  2. You repel creatures by using a holy object that you believe in. For instance, for a Sikh, the kirpan repels all kinds of evil things, no matter what faith tradition they come from.
  3. One particular symbol or the symbols of one particular faith are effective against all evil. This might be because one faith is objectively correct, it might be for some other reason, or the characters may not know what the reason is — but if you want to scare off evil, that's the symbol you use.
  4. Evil beings are harmed by any holy symbol. This may or may not include symbols of forgotten religions, which being a "defeaten" religion may just as well empower evil, or require the symbol to have been crafted by a believer of its faith. For instance, "Allah" written in Arabic on jewelry repels evil instantly.

Regardless, your local Saintly Church will likely have a stockpile of this stuff. The location, by itself, may count as well. If "holiness" is "anything blessed by a cleric" then the Good Shepherd in charge of the place can make more.

In video games with Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, if Holy and Darkness are elements, Holy is by far more likely to be effective against Darkness than either being neutral to it or even weak. In many Roguelikes, Holy Water hurts demons and the undead, and blessed or holy weapons do extra damage against them.

Vampires and demons tend to have at least one weakness of this kind, generally holy water and crosses in keeping with their origins in Christendom and the Crucial Cross trope. Especially old, powerful, or insane vampires and demons may be able to Fight Off the Kryptonite thanks to their Cross-Melting Aura and attack. Creatures who are subjected to holy symbolism may hiss to indicate both their inhumanity and displeasure.

Occasionally, creatures that are merely supernatural and not normally associated with evil, such as fairies, are subject to this trope. When the hero actively weaponizes this trope to his advantage, see Depleted Phlebotinum Shells.

Compare to Fire Purifies and Weakened by the Light. A subtrope of Good Hurts Evil. See also Turn Undead, Protective Charm, Holy Hand Grenade and Saved by the Church Bell. Most examples that are played for laughs are also Faux Horrific. Contrast Holy Is Not Safe, where the holy object is just as dangerous to good-aligned characters as evil. Also contrast Allergic to Evil, where a good-aligned character is weakened by the presence of someone or something evil nearby. Tangentially related to Revive Kills Zombie, as a related fantasy Kryptonite Factor. A possible form of Glamour Failure and, depending on execution, a Weaksauce Weakness.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Blue Exorcist: Holy water acts like acid to demons, and so it also affects the half-demon main character. This leads to a rather amusing scene where the Exwires are soaked down with the stuff to protect them, and the person doing the soaking very purposefully avoids Rin, awkwardly explaining it as "He's allergic to holy water." Which, technically speaking, is true, but...
  • In Chrono Crusade, demons are weak to holy water. The bullets in Rosette's guns "use holy water instead of an explosive charge," and in the anime Chrono burns his hand once when he attempts to use it against a demonic enemy.
  • In Digimon Adventure, Angemon's "Heavenly Knuckle" ("Hand of Fate" in the dub) attack completely annihilates Phantomon, and brings Vamdemon/Myotismon to his knees (Made even more impressive by the fact that Angemon was a whole level below the two of them).
  • Hellsing: Alucard has holy silver crosses melted down to make his vampire-destroying bullets. And then there's that one time where he can't be bothered to wait for the melted silver to be cast into bullets... Alucard himself is affected by stuff of this nature (most notably Anderson's blessed blades), but is so ridiculously powerful that he can generally shrug it off.
  • At one point in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood, a scene opens with Dio gazing at a crucifix in his new castle. He crushes it in one hand and casts it aside.
  • Played for laughs in Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood, where the vampire Sophie comments that she prefers arcade sticks over d-pads because the cross shape of the latter burns her.
  • My Balls: The protagonist encounters a succubus posing as a nurse, and tries to scare her off with a cross improvised from a scalpel and his own erect penis. It doesn't work.
  • My Monster Secret plays it for laughs, as it does with every other traditional vampire weakness. Because Youko is only a Dhampyr, crosses don't actually hurt her...they just really get on her nerves, which has caused her to shoot unintentional Death Glares at people who've offered her crucifix necklaces as presents. Her full-blooded vampire father Genjirou has much the same reaction (only much more intense), since the series is a light-hearted Rom Com rather than anything more serious.
  • Parodied in Phantom Quest Corp., as a vampire trying to recover from vampiric traits uses aversion therapy to cure himself of his aversion to crosses... by crucifying himself on a large cross with a crown of garlic. In the end it works. He even no longer feels the need to drink blood, preferring tomato juice.
  • Time Stop Brave: Evil creatures like the King of Darkness and his minions are harmed by holy weapons and magic, which includes healing spells.

  • Sarah Silverman has a joke about religious harmony where she says that her Catholic boyfriend doesn't care that she's Jewish; in fact, he gave her his St. Christopher medal. "He says if it doesn't burn through my skin it will protect me."

    Comic Books 
  • Athena Voltaire: In Athena Voltaire and the Vampire Queen, Athena kills the titular queen's daughters (whom she was too late to save) with a concealed vial of holy water, which causes them to burst into flame.
  • The Bojeffries Saga: Parodied with the vampiric Uncle Festus, who is so ridiculously vulnerable to this that he can crumble to dust simply by seeing a hot-cross bun or hearing the Bible quoted.
  • Grendel: Subverted in an incident where the newly-vampirized and psychotic Pellon Cross is seemingly repelled when Orion Assante brandishes a makeshift cross. There was actually no mystical effect, but the sight of the cross reminded Cross that he was vampirized by the Pope, restoring his memories and mostly restoring his sanity, and causing him to drop his random attack on Assante in order to go and do something more useful.
  • In Hellblazer, John Constantine makes brilliant use of this by sharing a drink with the Devil — and then disrupting a spell that keeps the liquid from reverting to holy water. He then glasses the Devil in the face with a broken bottle and kicks him into a well full of the stuff.
  • In the Hellboy universe, holy objects and such can injure and repel evil supernatural beings, and such creatures cannot enter holy places. Notably, "evil" is the operative word; beings of the usually affected type that are good are not hurt by sacred things, and enjoy the same protection from them as any human. The titular Hellboy, for instance, is half-demon and yet capable of wearing a rosary necklace without issue thanks to being a heroic individual raised by a religiously devout man, whereas other demons react with discomfort at the slightest hint of a cross and are actively burned if they touch one.
  • In I Am Legend, the "vampires" are only hurt by holy symbols if it was symbolic of the religion they followed in their previous life. For example, a former friend of Robert's is undeterred by a cross, yet recoils when presented with a Torah.
  • Marvel Comics: A slight variant is used with vampires, in that a given holy symbol must have faith behind it. In one memorable exchange, Wolverine tries to use an impromptu cross to force Dracula to back off, who replies with something to the effect of "You idiot, you don't believe, that can't hurt me." Cue Nightcrawler, a devout Catholic, who jumps in and declares, brandishing a cross, "But I DO believe!" And Drac does the usual fall back, hissing schtick.
    • You can use any holy symbol you believe in. The symbol even works without any conscious effort on your part. In the same storyline, Kitty Pryde tries to drive Dracula back with a crucifix; it fails miserably since she's Jewish. But when Dracula grabs her throat, Kitty is surprised to see his hand burn—from contact with the Star of David pendant she wears.
    • Marvel also has it only work if it is a symbol of a god worshiped in the time the vampire was alive. The first vampire, Varnae, can't be hurt by crosses, for example, because the crucifixion didn't happen until he was over 16,000 years old.
    • Marvel also has it that vampires can actually successfully use holy symbols against other vampires (who better than a vampire to know in the power of faith). Dracula himself once drove off a group of vampires hunting him with a large cross, and only suffered minor burns while flying for hours in bat form carrying it to chase them off. This might be a case of 'God was nice', as Dracula had to immediately drop the cross near morning, once the threat was over and he was no longer accidentally protecting a young human female and realized he was holding a cross. Obviously, this is an extremely rare deal.
    • During an encounter between the X-Men and an army of vampires, Cyclops arranged for a priest to bless Iceman, reasoning that any ice constructs he manufactured during the battle would be made of frozen holy water.
  • The Simpsons Comic: Mr. Burns takes over the Springfield church, at first simply to promote his autobiography and later to become Pope (yes, Lovejoy explains why he should have thought that through). He compares the Church to a book club where they talk about the same book every week. "Now, the Bible is a fine book, but — AGH! It burns!" In the next panel, he's holding it with oven mitts.
  • In the Vertigo horror comic, Vamps, the user has to believe approach is played with, when a deranged homeless person drives one of the vamps away with a hubcap.
  • Victorian Undead 2 featured this when the hunters find Dracula's dwelling and confront the vampirized Lucy and his brides. While the brides are repelled by the trinkets, it barely affects Lucy since she comments that it takes faith from both sides for it to work. Dracula's brides come from an older time where faith was more prominent and thus are more affected. While Lucy, a woman from modern times, can least stay composed since she's more "enlightened," as she says. It still prevents her from attacking the hunters and ultimately she has to retreat when the brides are killed and she finds herself cornered.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Fairy Tail fanfic Alternate Tail Series, Mira is shown to be cautious around Levy after the latter gets her new magic, due to Holy magic like Holy Scriopture being able to harm demons. This is shown during the fight against Hades, where he binds Mira (In her Halaphas form) and Levy (Using wings made of holy runes) back to back, causing the latter to burn the former unintentionally until she deactivates her wings.
  • Arduin RPG, The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources. A number of the undead have this vulnerability.
    • Demons
      • The Creeping Doom takes 29-48 Hit Points of burning damage per pint of holy water that hits it.
      • Holy water burns Night Demons like acid for 1-8 Hit Points of damage per pint poured on them.
      • The Greater Demon Abbadon is poisoned for 3-30 Hit Points of damage per pint of holy water that gets inside of him.
    • A Drich is burned (as if by acid) for 6-10 Hit Points of damage by each pint of holy water poured on them.
    • Lupogaunts (a cross between vampyrs and werewolves) take half normal damage from holy water. The process for permanently destroying them includes putting their ashes and head in a silver cask filled with holy water and throwing it into the deepest part of the sea.
    • Morghuuls have blood-red eyes. Holy water causes them 1-10 Hit Points of damage per pint.
    • Shadows take 4-6 Hit Points of damage per pint of holy water that hits them.
    • Holy water burns Vampyres like acid, doing 4-6 Hit Points of damage per ounce applied.
    • Blue Wraiths take 8 Hit Points of acid-like damage for each pint of holy water that hits them.
    • Common Wraiths are burned for 4 Hit Points of damage per melee round they spend in a priestly Glory Glow spell.
    • Red Wraiths are soulless undead skeletons that were once priests of the evil Elder Gods. Each ounce of holy water does 1-8 Hit Points of damage to them, which cannot be regenerated.
  • Xander harms and nearly defeats Solomon Grundy in Colors and Capes by splashing him with holy water and trying to fill his mouth with salt then sew it shut. According to the Xander, doing so to a zombie will permanently kill it.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurphony Of The Night", a Smurf head symbol is treated as a holy symbol by Empath when he uses it against the vampire Lord Vladimir Smurfula.
  • In the Lighting the Darkness Arc of Equestria: Across the Multiverse, Lord Yomi and his minions are demons and extremely vulnerable to holy objects. Fortunately for them, the world they attacked had forgotten their Goddess and thus were left defenseless against them. Unfortunately for them, the Mane Six eventually rescue a mare named Antiquity who does know and is devotedly religious to said goddess. Interestingly, any god's symbol and name will work, not just Queen Equinox's. Including 'newborn' ones like Twilight.
  • Equestrylvania has the Golden Cross given by Aeon to the Mane Six and wielded by Fluttershy. It wards off all of Dracula's monsters (the Behemoth actually runs to its death trying to avoid it), and when Fluttershy panics and thrusts it into Marble's face, it leaves a cross-shaped burn on her cheek.
  • In Supergirl story Hellsister Trilogy, villainous sorcerer Mordru's literally obliterated when he comes in contact with a huge mass of sacred light.
    He came in contact with The Light.
    Whether he saw a Presence within, or not, will not be known, at least on this side of the veil. For, whenever a being of his evil comes physically in contact with a force of purity that strong, there can be no resisting its power.
    In the end, the force-field might have been of some use in delaying the outcome for a fraction of a second. But only that.
    He exploded.
  • In the The Legend of Zelda/RWBY crossover A Hero's Dream, when the Master Sword is planted in the ground, it apparently turns the area into Holy Ground, and any Grimm that steps on this ground disintegrates. Later, the Grimm run away when they see Link with the Master Sword.
  • Hunters of Justice: It's discovered that demons have a similar "frequency" as the Creatures of Grimm, making demonic forces vulnerable to the power of a Silver-Eyed Warrior. The effect is proportionate to how Made of Evil you are; a full demon like Trigon was crippled by the power, while a Half-Human Hybrid like Raven only got a mild sunburn.
  • My Little Mages: The Nightmare's Return: As a Paladin, Applejack is the only one who is able to effectively fight and kill Chrysalis' Undead Mooks. And Chrysalis herself.
  • The Demon Who Dared is a Dungeons & Dragons fanfic about a not-so-bad demon who travels to the mortal plane in an attempt to prove that he isn't evil just because every other demon is. However, being a member of an Always Chaotic Evil race, this does not prevent him from actually being burned when approaching a chapel.
  • Princess of the Blacks: Anything blessed by or associated with the Light Powers will cause black mages incredible pain and physical harm. Even Patroni (which normally only harm dementors and other dark spirits), are dangerous to black mages.
  • Remnant Inferis: DOOM: The Relic of Destruction releases holy light that disintegrates demons on contact. Demons are also burned by the holy light from Ruby Rose's Silver Eyes.
  • In Return to Prince Manor Snape owns a Staff of the Magi given to him by Father Christmas which can repel evil. A dire wolf bites the staff instead of Snape's arm and gets its mouth burned.
  • Varanae generic RPG supplement Monstrum 1. Garmen are the souls of dead dogs with glowing red eyes. They dig up and feed on dead bodies in graveyards and attack and kill all living things they encounter. They can be killed if holy water is thrown on them by an innocent child.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel, the gang is dealing with a Kryptonian vampire. Crosses are ineffectual because he isn't Christian; but given he's Raotian, Kara borrows several disc-shaped charms from a Kandorian temple. They work, but he only suffers minor burns upon contact with them.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Imperium of Man proves to be even more effective than other religions and their holy artifacts in Warslayer due to the offensive nature of their faith. Xander's armor is covered in holy icons that burn any demon or vampire who sees them (as opposed to Christian ones which require a demon/vampire touch them). And when Faith is resurrected as a Living Saint, her holy power is so great that Angel is warned not to hold his son directly for a few days after Faith holds him due to the infant temporarily becoming a holy artifact.
  • Why and were has High Priest Hughnon Ridcully remarking that for a really tricky exorcism requirin' a bathtub full of holy water, it saved a bloody large amount of time and effort when he realised all he needed to do was to bless the taps - so that any water passing through them was, by default, holy.
  • Wisdom and Courage: While they can't kill her, Zelda's Light Arrows cause Veran horrible pain, and during the final battle, the Master Sword emits a holy light that actually hurts her.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula does this naturally, though crosses seem partially effective. One of Dracula's vampire brides recoils when she see a necklace cross on Harker but quickly recovers and uses her powers to melt it and Dracula himself is only kept back a bit before he burns it in Helsing's hand. However, Lucy seems to be the only one forced back by it though likely because she wasn't a vampire for very long and not as powerful. Also, when Mina is partially turned by Drac, Helsing is forced to use a wafer imprint when she almost succumbs to vampirism to bring her back to her senses, leaving a mark on her forehead.
  • The Brides of Dracula uses this pretty extensively. Baron Meinster and his brides are repelled by crosses and it took their servant, Greta, to remove the threat so the former could fight Helsing. When Helsing is bitten, he is able to save himself from vampirism by burning the curse out with a hot poker then splashing it with holy water. Said holy water is used to burn the Baron's face and he's ultimately defeated when Helsing uses a windmill shadow and the moonlight to cast a cross over him.
  • Constantine (2005): Holy water burns the skin of half-demons and makes them much more vulnerable to attack.
  • Count Yorga: Crosses are used though on Yorga it just seems to annoy him while keeping him at bay. At the end of the first movie, a cross is used to force his two remaining undead brides back. Unlike Yorga, who's likely built up an immunity to it and since they're recently turned vampires, the holy symbol frightens them with both throwing their arms in front of them in its presence, cringing when it's thrust in front of them and trying to hide behind the other to shield themselves from it.
  • Subverted and Inverted in the comedic Mexican vampire film Curado de Espantos. The hero pulls a cross on the vampire. The vampire is undisturbed, pointing out that his ancestors were Jewish. The hero drops the cross, pulling out a swastika while shouting "HEIL HITLER," causing the vampire to flinch away.
  • Dark Angel: The Ascent: Holy objects can hurt demons, with Veronica's hand burning when a group of nuns try to give her a small cross, and she mentions that going into a church would burn her up. Subverted, however, in that demons aren't really portrayed as evil.
  • Played with in The Dead Matter. Vellich has this reaction to holy symbols through and through, particularly when he dies by shoving a cross down his throat, but the drug the "new" vampires are taking allows them to be immune to both faith symbols and sunlight.
  • In Demon Knight, Brayker drives the demonic Collector out of the hotel by pressing the holy key against his cheek. Collector screams in pain and performs a Super Window Jump out of the building.
  • Subverted in The Devil's Advocate when the Big Bad sort of exposes himself by immersing a finger in a church water basin (along with an Aside Glance). The water boils, but the Devil is rather more amused than hurt.
  • Dogma:
    • Blessed and anointed objects can and do serious harm to anything demonic. As Serendipity, a Muse, notes the light side will win out. Even if the object is a golf club an arrogant cardinal blessed in hopes of a better game, it still rips out the chest of the demon it hits.
    • Jesus held the power to bless and sanctify water that would act as acid on the bodies of demons. As Bethany is distantly related to the Virgin Mary, and so Jesus' great-niece, she too has that power and uses it to bless a sink of standing water so her comrades can dunk the heads of three demons into it and kill them.
  • Dracula: Prince of Darkness: Charles and Diana find out the effectiveness of crosses when the necklace Diana was wearing accidentally touches the now vamped Helen's arm and leaves a burn mark and manage to escape when Charles crosses some swords to forces Dracula and her back.
  • In Dracula Untold, crosses will harm a vampire, but only if they commit to the transformation by giving into their Horror Hunger. Vlad, still in the three-day trial, is unaffected.
  • In The Exorcist, Father Karras throws (what he claims to be) holy water at Regan, who is under the control of a demon, who screams out this trope's former name. Because it was ordinary tap water it doesn't help make the case that Regan is possessed in the eyes of the Church. However, the fact that the demon knew Karras's mother recently died when Regan shouldn't have any knowledge along with speaking to him both in Latin and French prompts him to investigate further. Seeing Regan manifesting a help me message on her skin he ultimately requests permission to have an exorcism conducted after more evidence emerges that Regan is indeed possessed.
  • Subverted in The Fearless Vampire Killers when Magda holds up a crucifix to ward off the Jewish vampire Shagal, only to be told, in a heavy Yiddish accent, "Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire!" Apparently holy symbols only hurt if they were ever holy to the vampire.
  • In Fright Night (1985), one gets the feeling Peter Vincent, once he believes, would have the same effect on the vampire without need of a cross, although it's slightly subverted in that Peter can burn Evil Ed (and believes he could harm Charlie had Charlie been turned) before he finds his faith.
  • Evil burns holy in Fright Night (2011). When Charley tries to use a cross on Jerry, we get the following:
    "No! Not... "...not the cross, Charley." (the cross burns and melts at Jerry's touch)
  • Fright Night 2: New Blood: Played straight with holy water and holy ground, but double subverted in one instance. The teen protagonist tries to prove that the teacher is a vampiress by warding her off with a bible, but she grabs it with no problem. Then right before she leaves she flashes the minor cross-shaped burn on her palm. Unusually, even a cross tattoo harms them, as vampire Ed learns the hard way after he attacks Peter Vincent. Realizing this, Peter shoves his face against it repeatedly, which burns him greatly.
  • Hellboy (2004) follows the source material's playing with this trope; Hellboy is unharmed by holy artifacts, handling and using them himself despite being half-demon, a boon shown to be granted because he's a good guy. When Rasputin forces him to take up his demonic power, he is able to come to his senses when John Myers throws him a cross. It burns him until he breaks his horns off and renounces that dark power, embracing good again. Apparently God pays attention to whether the person being affected is actually evil.
  • In the start of Hellboy (2019), Hellboy goes to a fighting ring to meet a colleague of the BPRD who was investigating a colony of vampires in the region, only to discover he had been turned into a vampire himself. When he tried to attack the nearby judge, the vampire was repelled and recoiled at the rosary the latter was wearing.
  • In Hocus Pocus, the witch Winnie sneezes, prompting a passing-by girl dressed as an Angel (it's Halloween) to say "Bless you!" All three sisters react with terror. They also cannot step foot on hallowed ground, like a cemetery. This is what ultimately does Winnie in in the end, turning her to stone.
  • Horror of Dracula did this. Lucy, when she became a vampire, was quickly forced back and even burned when Helsing touched her with the cross when Dracula first bites Mina and she's given a necklace cross for protection by the unknowing Arthur, it leaves a mark on her hand and Dracula himself was defeated when Helsing used candlesticks to force him into the sunlight.
  • In Bill Cosby's So Bad, It's Good movie Leonard Part 6, exposure to meat burns the Big Bad's vegetarian minions.
  • In The Monster Club, the ghouls are unable to enter the church when Sam takes shelter inside it, and he is able to drive them off by brandishing a cross at them.
  • Played with in The Mummy (1999). Dirty Coward Beni pulls out a vast array of holy symbols and recites prayers in multiple languages to attempt to stop Imhotep. None of them do anything to him, but Imhotep recognizes Hebrew as "the language of the slaves" and Beni ends up as The Renfield.
  • Averted Trope in The Night Flier: Dees finds one of Dwight's mutilated victims with a silver crucifix stuffed in his mouth, suggesting that Dwight deliberately put it there after the man tried (and failed) to ward him off with it.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: The song about Freddy Krueger implies Freddy can be affected by crucifixes ("Five, six, grab your crucifix"), but no one actively tries to use them to repel him, though they do seem to make him nervous. In the third movie, holy water and a crucifix are used to kill him off at the end, however. Justified, as his power comes from a trio of Dream Demons and, considering he feeds off of fear, having faith he can't hurt you if you have one probably would protect you from him.
  • Subverted in Pumpkinhead, in which the titular monster is explicitly a Demon of vengeance, and is actually enraged rather than scared of holy symbols.
  • A Downplayed example in Raiders of the Lost Ark. While the Ark of the Covenant is stored in a Nazi crate, it burns the swastika off the crate. The Ark does kill all the Nazis when they open it, but that's because Holy Is Not Safe. Indy and Marion would have died as well if they hadn't been smart enough to close their eyes first.
  • Red Riding Hood: When the Wolf tries to get Valerie when she's on sanctified church ground, it's paw is burned.
  • In Santo En Atacan Las Brujas, the mere sight of a large cross wielded by the heroic Masked Luchador El Santo is sufficient to cause all the titular witches to burst into flames. Earlier in the film, Santo is able to make some of the witches' wrestling minions flee by simply standing with his own body in the shape of a cross in front of a light source.
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has an equivalent based on its Chinese Mythology: the Dweller-In-Darkness is an ancient, soul-consuming demon, and neither it nor its weaker, but plentiful spawn of "soul-suckers" are affected by normal weaponry. The only power that can affect it is "the Great Protector" — an enormous dragon — so human warriors wield weapons adorned with its scales for combat.
  • Used to great effect in the climax of Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat. It also proves to be very literal, as sunlight only burns "evil" and newly-turned vampires who've never tasted human blood And older ones who've strived for a life of peace and kept from killing humans for the past several years. are spared despite being in the path of the cross.
  • This Is the End: When someone earns their way into Heaven, a massive beam of light shoots down to lift them up. This light causes serious damage to any demon it touches.
  • Vampirella: Subverted when Vampirella meets with the head of a Creature-Hunter Organization and he tests a crucifix on her. She points out that as a space vampire, she has no reason to fear earth-based holy figures.
  • Inverted in Van Helsing: the titular character pulls out a cross in front of Dracula, but the count grabs it and it burns up in his hand. It burns him, but he also gets off on it. Holy Water works on his Brides though.
  • Zigzagged in Warlock (1989). When Warlock's Dynamic Entry into a priest's house makes a crucifix fall from the wall, the first thing the villain does is pick it up and hang it back on the wall. However, he cannot step on holy ground.
  • Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies: Mocked by the Djinn when he pretends to be scared of Father Gregory's crucifix, only to admit that he was just messing around. Played straight, however, in the third film, where it's revealed the only thing that can slay a Djinn is the sword of an angel.
  • In Zoltan, Hound of Dracula, Michael is saved from Zoltan's fangs when Zoltan rips open his shirt in an attempt to get to his throat and exposes the cross Michael is wearing around his neck, which repels the dog. Later Michael opens his shirt to expose the cross which drives Zoltan off a cliff where is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice on the spiked fence below.

  • In "Angel Down, Sussex", a character is being attacked by a snake-like monster with prominent fangs when he notices a crucifix nearby (they're in a priest's house) and swings it at the monster on the off chance that the monster is vampire-like enough to be affected. It works, although the characters subsequently figure out that the monster is an Empathic Shapeshifter so it only worked because he was expecting it to.
  • Betsy the Vampire Queen has vampires vulnerable to anything holy, even holy names. Say "God" in front of one and he'll recoil. Covering their ears doesn't help, as the words worm into their psyches.
  • Played with in The Black Spider. The unnamed priest drives the devil away with a prayer, but when he tries to burn away Christine's cursed spider-mark by sprinkling holy water on it, the woman transforms into a black spider and kills him off.
  • Subverted in Blindsight. Vampires are not supernatural creatures, but rather a Human Subspecies of cannibalistic mathematical savants. A glitch in their brains causes them to have seizures whenever they see a right angle — and a cross has four of them.
  • In The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, the Jewish protagonist David Fisher is attacked by a vampire, and wards it off with a kabbalistic amulet. He notes a cross would probably have been useless even if he were Christian, since most vampires in the Confederated Provinces are Balkan Muslims.
  • Subverted in Children of the Night, when Diana Tregarde first encounters the vampire, Andre. She thrusts a crucifix into his face. He reacts by gently taking the crucifix from her hand and kissing it, saying, "I need not fear the Son of God, only the sun in the sky." Fortunately for Diana, Andre is a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire.
  • Ciaphas Cain: A priest helps to repel a demon by blessing some holy water and throwing that at the demon. It causes the demon's flesh to melt as if it had been covered in acid.
  • Confirmed in The Dark Tower, in which Callahan gets My Greatest Second Chance. This time, he calmly informs the vampire that he would never cast a beloved holy symbol aside, but he will be glad to put it away and tucks it back beneath his shirt. The vampire, thinking Callahan Too Dumb to Live, attacks, but is repulsed by the power of faith.
  • Discworld:
    • Vampires have varying weaknesses, except the Magpyr family, who go through conditioning to overcome those weaknesses. When they lose that conditioning, they act like this to everything. This is partially because the Disc has so many gods that almost everything is a holy symbol to someone, partially because they've filled their castle with holy symbols as part of their resistance training and partially because they memorized every single religious symbol on the Disc (which is why normal Discworld vampires don't react that way to everything).
    • One of the spin-off fluff works lists Ankh-Morpork City Watch equipment, which includes a holy symbol of the Watchman's choice to repel vampires. Golems, the only creatures durable enough to survive being atheists on the Disc get a "Discourse of Pure Reason".
  • The Divine Comedy: While going through Purgatory, the mere presence of an angel causes the author to cringe and cover himself from the intensity of their light. His damned Pagan guide makes it clear that this is only due to the author's current imperfection and true to that, his joy upon meeting the angels leads him to bathe in the light of their joyful fires. So, while Holy Burns Evil, it also Glorifies Good.
  • In Dracula, crosses and communion wafers (the Host) repel vampires. Dr. van Helsing seals up a vampire's tomb by filling in the cracks of the door with putty containing ground up Host. After Mina is forced to drink Dracula's blood, van Helsing attempts to bless her by placing a wafer on her forehead but it burns her skin, leaving a scar that remains until the Count is slain.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • The Black Court (undead vampires) have all the traditional vampire weaknesses like sunlight, garlic and symbols of Faith.note  However some religious items' power against vampires is based on the user's faith; while The Paladin can burn a vampire to dust with a cross, they're useless to non-religious individuals like Dresden. He is able to use his Pentacle amulet as a symbol of his faith in Magic instead, however. And while Harry cannot make Holy Water himself, he can ask an ordained priest to consecrate water and store it for later use, like filling water balloons with it.
    • The Red Court vampires (whose real form is some bat-demon beast) are slightly less vulnerable than the Black court, but still share the weakness.
    • During the Red Court ball in Grave Peril, Harry has brought Michael, one of the three Knights of the Cross, to the party, and a particularly foolish vampire grabs Michael's shoulder and spontaneously combusts.
      Michael: Sorry, that happens sometimes.
    • One good person who was half-turned found her arm numb from just grabbing the hilt of a Sword of the Crossnote  as it fell.
    • That said, when that half-turned vampire needs help from Harry to save her child because she is acting with maternal love and swears to abide by the laws governing the Swords, the half-vampire is able to wield Amoracchius, the Sword of Love, throughout the mission and it never once burns her. It does serious harm to the monsters who took her daughter, but not her.
    • The White Court vampires feed on "bad" emotions like lust or fear and are weak to the corresponding Theological Virtues. For example the Raith branch inspires lust in their victims and feed off of it, but a person touched by genuine Love for another (or an appropriate symbolic object) will burn them. One vampire has a ring-shaped burn on her hand when she grabbed the wrong wedding ring, and even a persons hair brushing up against them can burn them. Similarly those who feed on fear will be burned by those who are being brave and so on.
    • Downplayed with Fallen Angels. They can freely enter a church without any issue so long as they aren't there to fight. It's theorized that God doesn't want them destroyed, but for them to see the error of their ways and come back to Him. They still tend to avoid churches, though, since it reminds them of what they lost. That being said, Faith does seem to have some ability to counteract the Fallen. When Harry was covered by demonic insects summoned by a Fallen Angel, Michael's prayer and touch burned away the unholy creatures but left Harry unharmed.
    • The Swords of the Cross also don't always permit the Fallen to be actually harmed when they are in a human host. Primarily the sword negates all the strength, speed, defensive, and power enhancements the Fallen gives the human host, leaving it a battle between two mortals if they choose to fight. One mortal might be in the physical form of an 800-lbs gorilla, but still quite mortal none the less and vulnerable to a steel sword to the chest.
  • In Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Fey novels, holy water dissolves Fey. Even a cloth that's been stored close to some holy water turns out to be a slow killer. The twist is that holy water is only deadly to fey because a human who was desperate for a weapon threw some at an attacking fey, and inadvertently used forgotten magic to transform it into a weapon that would only work against them.
  • In The Folk Keeper, the Folk are repelled by the symbol of the cross and flinch at the invocation of the names of Saints.
  • In Good Omens, the demon Crowley handles a bucket of holy water like it was nuclear waste. He uses it to kill his supervisor Ligur in a Bucket Booby-Trap.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In the first book, Harry defeats Quirrel hosting Voldemort by holding his hand to his face. Quirrel's face burns off because of The Power of Love from Harry's mother.
    • According to supplementary materials, it is impossible for a dark wizard to cast a Patronus Charm. One tried, but instead conjured a swarm of maggots who ate him alive.
  • "Midnight Mass", a short story by F. Paul Wilson (and its novel expansion):
    • An improvised Catholic transubstantiation is done with cheap wine (in a Coke can!). One scoffing vampire drinks the wine. Hilarity and burnination ensues.
    • From the same story: Crosses — and only crosses — work on vampires. One of the characters, an old rabbi, reflects sadly on how the Jewish community was absolutely decimated and the subsequent crisis of faith among survivors like himself.
  • In High School D×D, holy water and crosses hurt demons, as does prayer. Issei accidentally damages himself when he tries to chant a Buddhist mantra, and Asia often damages herself by praying to God (until Issei persuades Archangel Michael to allow her and Xenovia to pray). In fact in the Phoenix arc, this is Issei's trump card against Riser, using a cross and holy water to boost his attacks to nullify Riser's regeneration. This is an interesting example within the setting, as demons are actively and sincerely trying to shed their negative image and there's plenty of dickish people running around with holy artifacts. In the setting, this weakness is a strictly physically defined one, too. Spells and items with holy properties will hurt a Devil no matter what kind of person they are, and Fallen Angels are still perfectly capable of using Heaven's signature Holy Lightning. Issei's above-mentioned trump card is specifically having to "sacrifice" his left arm and have a dragon-flesh one grafted on instead. Dragons aren't Devils.
  • Played with in I Am Legend. Vampirism undergoes extensive Doing In the Wizard during the story. The vampires are often repulsed by "holy" items, but it is not reliable. The protagonist researches the vampires for years. He concludes they recoil due to self-loathing. The holy item reminds the vampire of what they were and causes them psychological anguish. The item must be sacred to the vampire; Cortman, a Jewish vampire, is repelled by a copy of the Torah but not by crosses. Thus, using a cross is unreliable. The story takes place in the US, so the majority of vampires were at least nominally Christian in life, but a sizable minority were not.
  • Played with in Incarnations of Immortality: Demons don't actually suffer when they use words associated with God... because they aren't allowed to use them at all unless the Incarnation of Evil says they can. (In which case, they're fine.) Also, the Incarnation of Evil himself is free to say things like "God", "Holy", or anything else as much as he pleases, being human and not a demon. However, the Incarnation of Evil will lose his position if he does something like sing a hymn. (That may sound a little ridiculous, but music is actually extremely powerful in this verse.)
  • Johannes Cabal:
    • Holy water causes evil entities to ignite on contact, while unholy water does the same for good ones. Exploited when Johannes Cabal disposes of a diabolical Archmage by paralyzing him in a river, then dragging an archbishop out of bed at gunpoint to consecrate its waters 'til they explode.
    • Most Necromancers' feet start smoldering on Holy Ground because the usual way to gain those powers is to forfeit one's soul to Satan. Exploited when Johannes, who's pulled a Faustian Rebellion and regained his soul, enters a church without difficulty to intimidate a priest.
  • Discussed at one point in John Dies at the End. The evil monsters are injured and repelled by any and all holy objects and avoid sacred places, and the protagonist admits that he's not quite sure how the mechanics of this work; whether the objects are actually divinely blessed or whether the monsters only react that way because they think they should.
  • In The Nekropolis Archives, some types of Darkfolk including demons and vampires are burned by holy water. Because of this, it is highly illegal in Nekropolis, though some people with underworld connections are still able to get hold of it. The protagonist, Matthew Richter, sometimes arms himself with a squirt gun filled with holy water.
  • In Never Ceese, the Christian vampire and werewolf novel (No, really!), vampires and werewolves are cursed so that they react poorly to anything related to God or Christianity. This includes the typical weaknesses, as well as feeling sick when they quote or even think about scriptures.
  • In Peeps, the hunters refer to the fear of an object that occurs as an anathema. The vampire-like infected hate things that they used to love. So in older times, when people were generally more devout, many vampires were warded off with holy objects. In one of the first encounters Cal has with a peep in the book, he uses a picture of Elvis as her anathema.
  • In many post-Soviet works by Sofia Prokofieva, such is the fate for completely irredeemable villains.
    • In The Castle of the Black Queen, the underground dwarves crumble to dust when they get in the church bells' hearing range.
    • In Snow White on the Magical Island, Queen Morganda's hands turn into enormous snakes, but when Princess Erlinda begins to pray fervently, the snakes writhe in pain and change backwards.
  • In 'Salem's Lot and its miniseries, this happens when vampires are touched by holy water, any crucifix, or any cross-shaped object that has been blessed. Father Callahan even burns his hands on the front doors of the church when he has been turned by Barlow. Interestingly enough, the symbol itself doesn't seem to be explicitly needed. If Father Callahan had showed his faith by throwing the cross away as he agreed, the vampire wouldn't have been able to touch him. Since he lied and refused to throw away the cross, it lost all effectiveness, allowing the vampire to turn him.
  • In one book of the SERRAted Edge series by Mercedes Lackey, one character blessed seltzer water and sprayed it right at a Banshee whose throat was completely burned/melted away, keeping it from screaming.
  • Subverted in Shadowmancer; the heroes escape to a church, but Pyratheon shows up anyway. He mocks their surprise, noting that he used to be the high priest of Riathamus in Heaven; obviously consecrated ground isn't going to have any effect on him. However, this only applies to Pyratheon himself. His lesser demonic minions can't enter the church, and when one of them tries to shoot a hero with a crossbow, the bolt shatters in midair as soon as it hits the plane of the doorway.
  • In Star Wars, the ability Force Light banishes darkness around the user, and even has the potential to sever the connection of Dark-Siders and the Force.
  • Summer of Night: The Big Bad... thing... is hurt by holy water. Its servants dismiss this as a habit picked up during its time in the Vatican, leaving open the question of whether Christianity or God really has anything to do with it.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Played with by Holy Magic, which at first glance fits this trope due to being far more effective on monsters than it is on humans and thus gains the reputation as a "purifying" force that destroys "evil" monsters. In reality, Holy Magic works by using "faith" to power magic that manipulates holy energy, purifies magicules, and at high levels manipulates "spiritrons", the very building blocks of magical energy. As most humans have little to no magicules at all while often times most monsters don't just rely on magicules to survive but they're partially made from them, this makes all but the most powerful Holy Magic spells devastating to monsters while mostly harmless to humans. This is why many beings tend to react in shock if they see a monster casting Holy Magic, as even if they know it's technically possible, without fine-tune control and/or a Skill that provides resistance against Holy Magic's effects it's basically the equivalent of throwing around radioactive material and praying they don't kill themselves in the process.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • In The Silmarillion, the Silmarils, as pure and holy objects containing the light of the Two Trees, burn anything evil. When the villainous werewolf Carcharoth swallows one, the pain causes it to go insane. Similarly, when Anti-Villain Maedhros and Maglor finally manage to recapture them, after spending the entire book trying to kill anyone who has one and steal it back, the Silmarils burn their hands. This causes Maedhros to commit suicide and Maglor to wander the shores of Middle-earth forever in self-imposed penance. A Silmaril also burns Big Bad Morgoth for life and robs him of his ability to change shape.
    • Winds are also often seen to have effects similar to this (since wind is controlled by Manwë, holiest of the Valar), most notably in dispelling the darkness cast out from Mordor over Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings, and in actually dissipating Sauron's lingering spirit.
  • Subverted in The Tome of Bill. Holy doesn't actually burn evil; It's all about faith. If a person believes whole-heartedly in the holiness of God and his symbols, then a cross would work just fine. But if they don't have enough faith, it won't do diddly. This effect can be applied to anything that a person has enough faith in, be it a cross or a ham sandwich; Tom imbues a first generation Optimus Prime doll...uh...collectible with this effect. Additionally, there are the very rare people called Icons, whose faith in themselves is so great that they become a Walking Wasteland to the supernatural. Icons have a variety of unspecified powers.
  • Averted in The Witcher, as many of the things used to repel vampires — including holy water, crucifixes, garlic, wooden stakes, running water, and even sunlight — are inconveniences at best and utterly useless at worst.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for laughs in an extended nightmare sequence on The Basil Brush Show. Basil and one of the kids try to repel two vampires with a cross, only for the vampires to decide they're not very religious. Basil realizes that the vampires are also actors, and so the only way to stop them is to show them a bad review of their performances.
  • Being Human seems to use this with the proviso that you must have faith in the symbols being used. George and the chaplain drive off a pack of vampires; the former using his Star of David and the latter quoting scripture from the Bible.
  • In Blood Ties (2007), a Satanist forces Vicki to deliver him a special ritual knife used for demonic sacrifices. She does. He uses it to summon his demonic master. Just then Vicki reveals that she had the knife blessed by a priest. Whoops!
  • In the Buffyverse of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and associated works, vampires are burned by crosses, holy water, Bibles and other Christian holy objects, which also fill them with irrational fear. This is demonstrated many times, such as when Willow tosses some holy water in Darla's face.
    • Willow herself brings this to light in a comment during an early episode, about how her Jewish parents wouldn't understand why she's attached a cross to her bedroom wall, hidden behind her curtains.
    • Word of God says that this is because Christianity initially devoted itself to destroying vampires, and thus took its symbols from what was most effective.
    • In one episode, a depowered Buffy kills a mentally-ill vampire by filling the water glass for his medication with holy water, causing him to disintegrate from the inside.
    • The Master at one point wonders why this is so as he stares at the cross prominently displayed in the church that serves as his prison. What is it about those two planks of wood glued together that fills him with such dread?
    • Some powerful vampires, like Angel and Spike, given enough determination can push through the dread caused by these objects, so that they are not repelled by the sight alone. However, it still burns their skin on contact, though they can power through even this to some extent. Angel walks barefoot over a cross inlaid floor and retrieves a key from a bowl of holy water, screaming the entire time. Spike is able to briefly use a large cross as a club, but drops it after one blow as his hands start to blister.
    • Played with in the comic-book continuation. Buffy brandishes a large cross in front of a demon, who sneers that he is not a vampire and not afraid of it. Buffy slams the mounting peg in the cross' base into the demon's head and quips "Might wanna start."
  • One Cliffhangers segment, "The Curse of Dracula", featured the mother of the heroine, herself turned decades earlier, burn herself severely wielding a cross to protect her daughter from Dracula.
  • In the Doctor Who story "The Curse of Fenric", Haemovores can be repelled by faith itself. The Doctor repels them by repeating the names of all his companions, the fervently Communist Sorin repels them with a red star badge from his uniform, and Reverend Wainwright sadly fails to repel one using a cross, as the horrors of World War II destroyed his faith.
  • Zigzagged in Dracula (2020); Dracula fears the cross, but not because of its association with Christianity. Finding out the real reason he fears it is a recurring theme throughout the series. Other vampires, like the female vampire in Dracula's castle, are unaffected by it.
  • Forever Knight
    • Vampires are vulnerable to holy objects from any faith, not just crosses and Christian articles; LaCroix's daughter Divia is affected by the Egyptian sun disk in one episode. Nick Knight has a bit of a tolerance to holy items, but it was still interesting when he had to testify in court and put his hand on a Bible. The cross burned into his palm.
    • Nick's own resistance is shown to be due to his attempts at redemption. The episode "For I Have Sinned" shows him fondly regarding a cross that belonged to Jeanne D'arc. In the flashback, the cross set his hand ablaze, meaning he could not hold it up for her while she was being burned at the stake. Now, he can hold it with only minor injury, as he demonstrates to his Muggle doctor friend. Naturally, the villain of the week is a serial killer who is burning "witches".
  • Good Omens (2019): Holy water burns demons to ashes if they're immersed within it. They also find consecrated ground (like churches) to be unbearable, but not lethal; Crowley hops around like he's walking on hot coals. Crowley uses holy water to kill Ligur. Later, the demons try to execute Crowley this way, to no effect — because Crowley and Aziraphale have temporarily switched bodies. Crowley-as-Aziraphale survives a Hellfire execution in Heaven at the same time as Aziraphale-as-Crowley survives a holy water execution in Hell. Both Heaven and Hell are left horrified and confused.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In "The Gang Goes to Hell," Frank is given a cross necklace to wear when going on a Christian cruise, but the cross burns his skin. The other members of the gang wonder whether Frank really is pure evil. It's later revealed that Mac put battery acid on the back of the cross to convince Frank to change his godless ways.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "The Devil's Platform". A Satan worshipper uses a magical medallion emblazoned with an inverted pentacle (the symbol of black magic) to transform himself into a dog and back into a human being. When Kolchak throws it into a pool of holy water, the medallion smokes and dissolves as if the holy water were acid.
  • Used for a joke on Scrubs when Dr. Cox wants Jordan to promise him something.
    Dr. Cox: I'd make you swear on The Bible, but I know how contact with holy stuff makes your skin sizzle.
  • Supernatural:
    • Holy water will burn demons. Bobby apparently sanctifies all the drinks he offers people in order to weed out those who are possessed. Some of the more powerful demons are immune, however.
    • Back in Season 1, demons twitch in pain if the Latin Name of God is said in their presence, but that was quickly dropped (possibly because it made things too easy), suggesting that was a case of Early-Installment Weirdness. On the inverted side, very powerful demons have walked into churches and caused religious statues to cry tears of blood.
    • Downplayed with Lucifer, the archangel who created demons. He's invulnerable to most earthly objects, chanting at him does nothing, and he can just walk onto Church ground whenever he pleases. However, touching a Bible causes him significant discomfort, although he can just repair himself afterwards.
  • A Discussed Trope in Ultraviolet (1998). Dr. Angela March explains that Case 5s do display an aversion to religious symbols, but the process is frustratingly resistant to analysis. She explicitly compares it to homeopathy and the placebo effect; they've observed it in action, but it's not at all consistent and they have no idea why it works, let alone how to use it effectively. Her frustration is shown on-screen in "Mea Culpa"; one of the signs that some choirboys have been infected with vampire-hybridized meningitis is that she observes one showing a phobic reaction to a prayer book, even though none of them know vampires exist, let alone that they've been infected with vampire traits.
  • What We Do in the Shadows (2019): Vampires are burned by religious symbols and buildings, and will even recoil in pain if divine beings are mentioned in their presence, as shown when the main trio flinch in visible pain and hiss defensively because a person casually referred to God in a conversation. This leads to a particularly hilarious expression of this trope when a human friend of Nandor's dies and he feels obligated to the attend the funeral… but that human was a devout Christian and the funeral is therefore obviously being held in a church, leading to Nandor sitting in the back-row pew and hoping nobody notices that he's slowly but surely being roasted alive from the holiness around him. He only makes it partway through the ceremony before he has to flee the building under threat of combusting into flames.
  • Will & Grace: Parodied when Will expresses surprise that Karen Walker can wear a nun's habit without her skin burning.

  • An animated scene in America's Most Haunted shows a ghost being sprayed with Holy Water fired from a super soaker.
  • In Bram Stoker's Dracula, getting a Super Jackpot will show one of Dracula's brides being reduced to dust from a cross.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Would you believe that Vince McMahon has begun to transcend mere Corrupt Corporate Executive-dom to become a supernatural evil? WWE certainly implied such in a vignette where Vince and his son Shane are using a church as a backdrop to mock Shawn Michaels' faith; Vince imitates Triple H's water-spitting entrance using the holy water, then rubs his throat and comments, "That kind of burns a little!"

  • From AJCO: The angel Kaja can do this at will, but only to inherently 'evil' creatures such as demons rather than evil humans. She's used it so far to exorcise a malicious ghost and drive back Finn when he was thrown down an elevator shaft by A_J. Without Kaja's intervention, everyone trapped at the bottom of said shaft would have been ripped to pieces.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chaosium's supplement All the Worlds' Monsters Volume III
    • The Banshee is a Chaotic Evil monster that takes 2-12 Hit Points of damage per vial of holy water that hits it.
    • Basic Demons of 0th, 1st and 2nd level are disrupted (sent back to the Underworld) if holy water touches them.
    • A 3rd level Basic Demon takes 2-20 Hit Points of damage from holy water.
    • A 4th level Basic Demon is destroyed if it's grappled by anyone dedicated to a god (e.g. a cleric/priest, paladin, etc.) or a holy being (angel, deva, etc.).
  • Chivalry And Sorcery: Holy Water causes 1d10 Hit Points of damage when it touches Evil creatures (undead and lycanthropes) and 1-20 Hit Points of damage to demons.
  • One option in The Dracula Dossier is that vampires are only affected by religious artifacts from their era or earlier. If the Director is going with Dracula = Vlad Tepes, that means finding a crucifix made and blessed before 1476, or a Host consecrated by a pre-Tridentine Rite.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Most undead (including non-evil ones, though those are rare to begin with) and some evil other planar creatures are harmed by holy water as if it was acid. Further, the undead aren't so much destroyed by holy areas as they are weakened by it, certain divine spellcaster classes may even consecrate or hallow areas at a cost, putting them at a distinct advantage against the undead. Certain undead are, however, harmed more deeply by spells that simulate sunlight, and in real sunlight, such undead, specifically vampires, are destroyed quite quickly.
    • The Turn Undead mechanic in several versions, which is basically raw divine energy being channeled by the cleric. Depending on the power of the cleric and the undead being turned, the cleric might have just wasted a turn, might cause the undead to flee in panic or cower, or might just cause the undead to collapse in a pile of dust. (For evil clerics of evil gods, this is usually used to bolster or control the undead instead.)
      • In the Fifth edition, all Clerics can use their Channel Divinity to Turn Undead, even the Clerics of evil gods or Clerics who raise Undead themselves (note that Turn Undead will affect their own creations so they won't often use it). Aracana Clerics (I.E. the followers of Gods of Magic) have a similar ability called Arcane Abjuration which works like Turn Undead but also effects Elementals, fairies, fiends, and amusingly enough even Angels. So Arcana Clerics holy symbols repel both indisputably evil and indisputably good creatures in equal measure.
    • In the 1st Edition AD&D rules, a vampire recoils from Lawful Good holy symbols. In module D3 Vault of the Drow, the vampire Belgoth can strike aside a holy symbol, taking 2-12 Hit Points of damage from touching it.
    • In Fifth Edition, radiant damage, which is usually considered "holy" damage, often either do extra damage to fiends and undead creatures or at very least isn't resisted by them. Paladins holy smite ability automatically does extra against damage against fiends and undead.
  • Exalted
    • The game codifies this with the 'Holy' and 'Creature of Darkness' mechanics. Put simply, anything that is such a threat to Creation that the Unconquered Sun hates it, it gets put on a list. Some powers (designated 'holy') then have additional effects when used against those on the list. These are political designations, though... some things are condemned simply because their energy signatures are close to truly evil things without being evil themselves, and there are no moral strictures about whom one can wield Holy power against, nor how.
    • It becomes almost hilarious when you get to the Solar charms that allow you to put specific things on the list yourself. Conjures up images of a Solar with a sharpie waiting for the Unconquered Sun to go on a bathroom break to scribble on someone's name.
  • Hero System
    • Champions supplement Enemies II. The supervillain Black Paladin is a warrior of an evil cult who murdered a modern-day student and took his place. He takes 2d6 damage from contact with holy water.
    • Supplement Champions III
      • Dark Seraph is a supervillain who gained his Hellish powers by performing Human Sacrifices and murdering his colleagues. He takes 2d6 STUN and BODY damage from contact with holy relics and objects.
      • The supervillainess Demonfire is the daughter of a human witch and a demon, who once destroyed most of a town, killing its inhabitants, to gain revenge on a single man. She takes 3d6 STUN damage from contact with holy relics.
    • Supplement Fantasy Hero Companion. All demons have the following disadvantages: Take double Body damage from holy weapons, lose 3-18 Endurance points per 12 seconds in contact with holy ground, and lose 3-18 Stun points per 12 seconds in contact with holy water.
  • Mayfair Games' generic supplement Undead.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Inquisitors of Ordo Malleus (aka. the daemon hunters) use a variety of holy objects to harm daemons, including the Incinerator, which uses this trope in the most literal sense: It's a flamethrower that fires Holy Promethium (Imperial equivalent of blessed napalm)! Not only it will reduce daemons into puddles of goop, but it's just as effective against more mundane enemies.
  • White Wolf's World of Darkness
    • Demon: The Fallen had another variant — demons could not set foot on holy ground without taking damage (unless their Torment was low enough to be considered "benevolent" spirits).
    • In Vampire: The Masquerade, True Faith can empower its possessors against Vampires. Under V20's default rules for it, you only need one dot of True Faith to ward off vampires with an appropriate holy symbol, or deal aggravated damage with its touch — but the degree of pure devotion to your beliefs that even one dot of True Faith represents is rare. Then there are the Baali, who are evil even by vampire standards and whose clan weakness is being repelled by holy objects.
      • True Faith does not need to be a faith in God. There is at least one documented case where a rich guy's unwavering belief in capitalism, represented by the credit card he was holding, managed to ward off a vampire.
    • Leviathan: The Tempest has a combination of types 3 and 4: morality is anathema to the Tribe, and so any item invested with Virtue will provide some protection against Leviathans, but due to Marduk's ancestral defeat of Tiamat the Sigil of Marduk is exponentially more effective against them.
    • It's worth mentioning that True Faith is not limited to traditional religions and symbols. There is at least one canon instance of a vampire being repelled by a yuppie's perfect and fervent belief in the forces of free market economics and the absolute power of money, as symbolized by the Visa Platinum card he was holding at the time.

    Video Games 
  • In the Castlevania series as a whole, this is taken literally — the Holy Water sub weapon usually involves fiery burning of evil monsters.
    • In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, it technically runs both ways — notable as your player character is a Dhampyr. But, there are exactly two Holy-elemental types of enemy: angelic archers in the Chapel, and the boss Richter. So the inverted version is basically useless.
    • In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, "J" uses holy attacks against you.
    • You could invert this in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin to defeat the Belmont-based Optional Boss.
    • Downplayed when Richter and Simon show up for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. There, Holy burns everything without discretion. The flames that come from a shattered vial of holy water are perfectly effective against Pit, an angel, and gain no special advantage against the demon-summoning, angel-slaughtering witch Bayonetta. Even the Belmonts themselves can be roasted by holy water tossed by another Belmont, or caught and returned by a rival.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Magus's defensive powers are negated by the Masamune, and later on in the Northern Ruins if he is in your party when making amends with Cyrus's ghost, he recoils behind his cape at the flashes of light given off by Masa and Mune. However, it is eventually revealed the Masamune's power is anything but holy. It was forged by forcing a Dreamstone knife into the Mammon Machine, which draws its power from Lavos. Chrono's power is the closest thing to holy, and it has no particular strength against any villain.
  • In Darkest Dungeon, heroes suffering from the Crimson Curse suffer minor damage from the "Holy Water" item, which provides uninfected heroes with a buff.
  • The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark: Played with; one of the signs that a suspicious character is a reverse vampire is that he owns a collection of holy objects from several religions (which he keeps next to his stash of garlic).
  • Devil May Cry: Holy Water has been a standard item throughout the series. It blasts all Mooks nearby when used, and takes a good chunk out of any boss's health-meter. Handy on the lower difficulty-levels, a vital resource on the higher ones. Many of the games have had 'No Holy Water Run' as a Self-Imposed Challenge.
  • Diablo: Demons are severely pained or worse by the holy Light of the High Heavens and objects that channel its power. Especially powerful demons, however, are capable of resisting this, which allows them to battle Angels on more even footing than the cannon fodder. This is demonstrated well in a cutscene from the fourth game; Inarius, an Angel (albeit a fallen one), takes part in a battle against a horde of demons by simply floating above his human allies, with the angelic Light he naturally exudes even after falling from grace repelling the demonic attackers, such that they won't dare to go near him. But when Inarius goes to ground to personally attack, he finds that only the grunt demons are hurt by his presence, with their leader Lilith not even blinking and being able to face him on equal terms.
  • In Disgaea, Flonne's protective amulet that she needs to wear while in the Netherworld (lest its overpowering evil harm her) burns the hands of any evil being who touches it. This actually provides some significant foreshadowing: The demon Vyers/Mid-Boss is not burned when he touches it, but the archangel Vulcanus is.
  • Path A of the Forgotten Sanctuary in Dragon's Crown has an injured warrior monk handing you a Holy Symbol to put on top of the tower's altar to purify the place of demons. In Path B, if you take too long fighting the Arch Demon, the warrior monk manages to put the Holy Symbol in place on her own despite her injury, and you get to see the effects yourself as divine pillars of light rain down from the heavens to heavily damage the Arch Demon and his minions.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Daggerfall, vampires take damage from sunlight and holy places. You can also acquire these aversions by becoming a vampire.
    • Morrowind and Oblivion continue the vampire aversion to sunlight, but drop the aversion to holy places, though one can still cure vampirism by purifying themselves in temples.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: This is why the denizens of the Yami world are keen to capture the Rainbow Princess, as her holy light destroys them.
  • Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark has several kinds of demons and undead that start appearing as enemies later in the game, and all of them are weak to Holy damage.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic IV has Holy Water as an item. It can be used either to buff the hero drinking it with the spells "Bless" and "Death Ward" or to injure The Undead. Humorously, an Undead Hero can drink it and get the bonuses with no ill effects.
  • House of Ashes plays with this in a battle with an ancient Sumerian human who is a vampire. One option to deal with the vampire involves the player brandishing a gold cross at him. It does stop the vampire, however, it's because the vampire finds the cross interesting. It ends up being a good choice not because of faith, but because it stalls the vampire long enough for the battle to sway in the player's favor.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • This is where the Master Sword draws its true power. It started out as a divine sword in the first place and then got further purified by several holy fires. Evil cannot survive its touch; there's a reason it's also called "The Blade of Evil's Bane".
    • Ganon almost quotes this verbatim in Link: The Faces of Evil after Link uses the Book of Koridai to seal him away.
    • Light arrows are also this. In fact, these two weapons are the only weapons in the setting that can do any real harm to Ganon, who gains his evil powers from another divine weapon, the Triforce of Power.
    • Originally, a Silver Arrow was effective as well.
    • The Four Sword also has the "power to repel evil", but it has never been shown to destroy a great evil such as Ganon or Vaati, only to imprison them.
  • Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi: All Vampires and Ghouls will back away if you wave around the Crucifix (which is also the only thing that can kill Shadow Vampires), while any enemy can be killed by splashing Holy Water on it.
  • Averted in the Reincarnation (2008) series: the protagonist is a minor demon sent to reclaim escaped souls, who can go in a church but doesn't like it. Then again, he was after a child killer and possibly Pedophile Priest , so perhaps it was a case of being overshadowed.
  • Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves: Wayside crosses burn nearby diabolic beasts, and holy weapons are the only thing they're not resistant to.
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse: One of the few things that can significantly hurt the Dark Magic-fueled Pirate Master is Light Magic. Once Shantae regains her Light Magic, her damage against the Pirate Master spikes up to 999 per hair-whip.
  • Played with in Simon the Sorcerer. A character is convinced that Simon's a demon, and attempts to exorcise him with a silver cross. Simon, does indeed react in pain, but because the cross is too cold.
  • In the Thief series, holy water-doused arrows are by far the most effective weapon against the undead (explosives work alright too, as do, for some reason, flashbombs). Too bad holy water is extremely rare.
  • Commented on in Touhou Project; both the Scarlet sisters use crosses to attack, so the imagery alone doesn't bother them. However, Reimu's sacred ofuda and Yin-Yang Orbs hurt whoever she feels like hurting at the time, youkai, humans, AND gods and heavenly beings.
  • Subverted in Vampyr. Crosses are known to be heavily annoying (the screen becomes incredibly bright and the protagonist flinches away when one is used against him in a cutscene, and in gameplay they will drain Jonathan's blood), but not any cross will do, and it has nothing to do with legitimate faith. Hell, some can even have their faith in Christ, as William Marshall shows.
  • In World of Warcraft, you can find holy water in crates inside Startholme instance. It hurts the undead. In addition, paladins have the exorcism spell that only deals damage to demons and undead (in patch 3.1, it will do damage to other enemies too, but always critically hits when used against demons and undead).

    Visual Novels 
  • In Paramedium, Nina's main weapon is a gun — but it has a big cross on its side and a little cross pendant dangling from it. Since it's used on ghosts, they might well be useful.
  • Implied in Super Danganronpa Another 2: Kanade Otonokoji really doesn't like being gifted a bottle of holy water.

    Web Animation 
  • The DEATH BATTLE! between Kratos and Spawn mentions that holy weapons forged in heaven are one of the few things that can injure the latter hellspawn. This meant that only the godly Blade of Olympus can deal actual damage to him in the fight since most of Kratos's arsenal were made with earthly materials.
  • Something About: If the hero pulls out a cross (often accompanied by a chorus of "Hallelujah!"), any villain they are fighting is as good as dead. This includes Kirby holding up a cross in "Something About Kirby Super Star" to silence Marx before he lets out a big scream and dies, and Simon in ''Something About Castlevania" dissolving crosses in water flasks to create Holy Water to use to kill Death and Dracula in a single hit.

  • Happens in 8-Bit Theater when the party picks some holy loot, although it is rather underplayed. Thief's reaction is amusing ("Ahh! I think the idiot celestial who made this thing forgot that handles aren't made out of pain."), but not as much as Black Mage's.
    Black Mage: I appear to have come AFLAME.
    • This one is interesting as it demonstrates a scale of holy burning evil, as well as providing a handy litmus for the evilness of the Light Warriors. Purely good members Fighter and White Mage are totally unaffected, Red Mage — who is a Jerkass but not actively malevolent — finds the weapons mildly uncomfortable to hold but otherwise is fine, opportunistic cutthroat Thief is instantly struck with pain bad enough to make him drop it, and Black Mage… well, comes aflame.
  • The Adventures Of Dr Mcninja: This is one of the many traditional weaknesses vampires possess. After King Radical is turned into a vampire during their final confrontation, the Doctor is able to defeat him by throwing a previously imprisoned Pope Francis at him.
  • In this Awkward Zombie strip, Zagreus's sword is given the power to hallow the ground around it. Unfortunately for him, as a god of the Underworld, it burns him, too.
  • The B-Movie Comic subverts this last one by using holy trichloroacetic acid on zombies.
  • Casey and Andy: One storyline sees Satan squares off against the Enemy Mime... and he's packing a squirt-gun. As it turns out, it's filled with holy water blessed by a dying pope on Easter Sunday directly over the holy sarcophagus of St. Peter.
  • In Charby the Vampirate Claire and Rosemary trick a vampire into drinking holy water, melting him from the inside out.
  • In Dracula: Ruler of the Night it's stated that "newborn vampires" are largely affected by holy objects because their bodies are still adapting to the vampirism and holy power being overwhelming to them in that state, though over time they will gain immunity as they adapt to the darkness.
  • In one issue of Fans!, idealist Trekkie Rikk is able to hold off a vampire with a Vulcan salute. Subverted later, when the vampire shows up elsewhere and admits he faked it to shake off Rikk and his friends.
  • Along with the canon Hellsing examples in And Shine Heaven Now, Integra has the ability to consecrate water into holy water, including her own spit, which meant she was able to burn a hole in Crowley's hand by licking him. Also, a tooth with a silver filling taken from a Jew who died in the Holocaust works as a silver bullet in a pinch.
  • Imp: Celina's imp doesn't want to go into a church because "holy things hurt demons" and holy water is mentioned to sting and nullify imp's Healing Factor. A holy symbol is also cut into his forehead at one point and doesn't heal for weeks until it is crossed out by another cut.
  • Subverted in Lovecraft Is Missing.
    "Holy water?"
    "Heavens, no! Muriatic acid."
  • Lovely Lovecraft: Noyes, AKA Nyarlathotep injures his hand by touching the Elder Sign (although strictly speaking, "Holy" and "Evil" are both concepts that don't truly apply within Lovecraft's canon).
  • In Mystery Babylon, one of the three gifts which Red gives to Zero is a squirt bottle full of holy water, which is painful to demons like Kick Girl and Kill Boy.
  • Satan and Me has the main character, Nat, threaten to bring Satan to church if he doesn't fix her reputation at school.
  • In Sinfest, not only is "Big D" repulsed by angel glitter and has angel-repellent but even some apparently mortal creatures have such weaknesses.
  • Slightly Damned: Angel pendants and weapons have a Protective Charm that burn demons and damned souls and when a demon is injured by a holy weapon it leaves a black scar. However the "evil" part of this trope is downplayed as there are multiple good demons. We also see that demons can enchant items to have a similar effect on angels making it an Inverted Trope.
  • Sluggy Freelance: Holy symbols also harm/repel vampires and suchlike. We usually see Riff (he being Jewish) using a Star of David on vampires, but he also put a screen on one of his robots that shuffles through the major holy symbol of every religion in case K'Z'K had a vulnerability for one of them. (When we were shown this one in action, it stopped on Ricky Martin.)
  • User Friendly: When the Evilphish turns up in AJ's drink:
    Erwin: You know that's holy water you're sitting in, right?
    Evilphish: It burns! It burns!
    Dust Puppy: Erwin, it's just Vanilla Coke.
    Evilphish: IT BURNS! IT BURNS!
  • Zebra Girl: Sam's White Gloves, a religious symbol in his home universe, set vampires on fire.

    Web Original 
  • Afterlife SMP: Subverted. Angel/Elytrian Sausage assumes that vampires are harmed by holy symbols, so when Scott threatens him, Sausage throws a bottle of Angel Sausage Water on him in an attempt to scare him off. This only serves to make him angry (just because it doesn't hurt him, doesn't mean he enjoys being drenched in someone's bathwater), and he retaliates by murdering Sausage in cold blood.
    • Sausage also assumes that, because Scott is an undead, demonic creature, he's unable to enter the church, and he decides to hide there until Scott has calmed down. Scott promptly proves that he can enter the church, leaving Sausage trapped in a building with no exits other than the one blocked by a bloodthirsty vampire.
  • Empires SMP: When Sausage's evil Literal Split Personality from Season 1 tries to enter the Cathedral of Saint Pearl in Sanctuary, the door delivers an electric shock to him, forbidding his entry. He bars up the Cathedral after his takeover just because he can't enter it. When he visits Stratos soon after, the Temple of Peril gives him the same electric shock when he tries to enter.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-1983-2 are Humanoid Abominations that can be destroyed by shooting them with silver bullets while reciting a prayer from any religion, so long as the prayer is sincere.
  • Tales of MU: The half-demon Mackenzie is harmed by holy stuff, and people have threatened her with holy water.
  • Whateley Universe: Carmilla isn't exactly evil, but her ancestors are Great Old Ones and in her first stories, she is vulnerable to standard vampire weaknesses.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: One episode features Carl Rove (*wolf howls*) as a shadowy figure in a blood red robe and apparently a living embodiment of evil itself. He apparently has an Eldrich Void under his robe, and when he tries to enter a church he smokes and sizzles before stepping back outside. Steve even refers to him at one point as Satan.
  • Castlevania (2017): This is played with in some areas.
    • Holy water and sanctified weapons will make the Night Creatures, Vampires, and Demons burn, ignite in blue flames, or explode. However, God's blessing can be removed by Him if He finds a person lacking. When the Bishop, who murdered Dracula's wife and thus caused the Elder Vampire's war against humanity, is hiding in his church as Night Creatures attack the city, the Night Creatures enter the church without issue. As one states, God has abandoned this man and this building is an empty box for all the lies and evils the Bishop has done before ripping the Bishop's face off. Come the second season, in an interesting twist of circumstances, Hector, a Devil Forgemaster who brings Night Creatures to the world, has the Bishop's corpse. He zombifies it and as part of another vampire's scheme, gets the zombie Bishop to sanctify a river. It works. God allows His power to move through the zombie Bishop and turns a whole river into holy water. The zombie Bishop then burns from the holy water.
    • Trevor notes that crosses alone are not enough to constitute a holy icon. However, because of a vampire's heightened predatory senses, waving a large geometric shape in their face overloards those senses and will cause them to flinch and back off for a few seconds.
  • Family Guy:
    • Bait-and-Switch in an episode:
      Peter Griffin: [as two New Yorkers begin to feud at church] Fellas, this is God's house... and the Patriots kick off in about 45 minutes, so can we move this along?
      New Yorker: Patriots suck!
      Peter Griffin: [gasps] Blasphemy! [splashes Holy Water in the guy's face, creating a sizzling sound]
      New Yorker: Ahh! Ahh! It burns! Ah, jeez! [cutaway to a scientist in his laboratory, opening a package]
      Scientist: Holy water? Where's that acid I ordered?
    • A later Cutaway Gag features an episode of Bewitched where Darrin has enough of Endora's bull and starts tossing holy water in her face.
      Darrin: Power of Christ compels you, bitch!
  • Samurai Jack: Aku's Achilles' Heel; Jack's divinely powered sword is one of the few things that can hurt him (it was given to Jack's father the Emperor by the three Gods who almost killed the Eldritch Abomination which Aku spawned from), and he’s shown to have great difficulty controlling or combating other divine or magical powers (such as being driven off by a Water Goddess in "Jack and the Gangsters" and the Scotsman's Celtic magic being able to block direct hits from his attacks in the Season 5 finale).
  • The Simpsons: Shows up a few times:
    • In "Viva Ned Flanders", Moe comes to the mistaken conclusion that the secret of Ned's youthful appearance is holy water; he splashes some in his face and immediately wails "Aagh, it burns!"
    • In "Home Sweet Homediddley-Dum-Doodily", Homer takes a baptism for his kids to keep them from becoming Flanderses. It doesn't seem to do any lasting damage, but the sound effect and Homer's demonic growl fit pretty well.
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror VIII" segment "Easy Bake Coven", Marge and her sisters are witches. They show up at the Flanders home and Ned brandishes a cross to ward them off, however, Patty simply says "Oh, please!" and shoves him aside. Not quite a Cross-Melting Aura because the item doesn't get destroyed. It just plain doesn't work.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): It Burns


Dracula '92 [Helsing Fends Off Lucy]

WARNING: SLIGHT SQUICK SCENE! Scene from the 1992 film, Bram Stoker's Dracula. Van Helsing takes Seward, Arthur and Quincy into Lucy's crypt to showcase that she's now a vampire. First by revealing there's no body in her casket and then confronting her when she arrives to feed on a child. Just when she uses her power to entrance Arthur to join her, Helsing whips out the cross to force her back.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HolyBurnsEvil

Media sources: