In worlds with multiple ideas of what counts as "holy"—like, for example, this one—this can play in a few ways, such as:
- Evil creatures are repelled by a holy object of the faith they believe in/used to believe in/are associated with. (A Jewish vampire is repelled by Torah scrolls, but laughs at crosses.)
- You repel creatures by using a holy object that you believe in. (If you're Hindu, your shrine to Ganesha repels all kinds of evil things, no matter what faith tradition they come from.)
- One symbol in particular is effective, or the symbols of one particular faith. (For example, crosses hurt vampires, period.) 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.
- Evil beings are harmed by any holy symbol. This may or may not include symbols of forgotten religions (relics of dead faiths might actually make vampires stronger), or require the symbol to have been crafted by a believer of its faith.
Regardless, your local Saintly Church will likely have a stockpile of this stuff. The location, by itself, may count as well. If "holiness" can be "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, this trope will always work, and occasionally the inverse will be true as well.
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. Especially old, powerful, or insane vampires and demons may be able to Fight Off the Kryptonite thanks to their Cross-Melting Aura and attack.
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 Kill It with Fire and Weakened by the Light. A subtrope of Good Hurts Evil. See also Turn Undead, Protective Charm and Holy Hand Grenade. 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.
- Alucard from Hellsing 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.
- 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.
- The protagonist of My Balls 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.
- 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).
- Holy water acts like acid to demons in Blue Exorcist, 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 High School Dx 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- A slight variant is used in Marvel Comics with their 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- Parodied in The Bojeffries Saga 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.
- Subverted in an incident in Grendel, when the newly-vampirised and psychotic Pellon Cross is seemingly repelled when Orion Assante brandishes a makeshift cross. There was actually no mystical effect, but sight of the cross reminded Cross that he was vampirised 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Arduin RPG, The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources. A number of undead have this vulnerability.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dogma and the blessed golf clubs. Weaksauce.
- Likewise Bethany, as the Scion (aka, a descendant of the Virgin Mary), is able to quickly bless a sink full of water and dunk a demon's head in it.
- 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.
- Played straight with holy water and holy ground in Fright Night 2: New Blood, 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.
- In The Exorcist, the priest 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.
- In Hellboy, this is played with throughout the movie with the main character. Through most of the movie he is unharmed by holy artifacts, handling and using them himself. 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 his power. Apparently God pays attention to whether the person being affected is actually evil.
- Constantine. Holy water burns the skin of half-demons and makes them much more vulnerable to attack.
- In Bill Cosby's So Bad, It's Good movie Leonard Part 6, exposure to meat burns the Big Bad's vegetarian minions.
- 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.
- 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 cemetery. This is what ultimately does Winnie in in the end, turning her to stone.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- The song about Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street 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 were 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.
- Zigzagged in Warlock. When Warlock's Dynamic Entry into a priest 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Subverted however, in that demons aren't really portrayed as evil.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 sunlight.
- 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.
- 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 it's presence, cringing when it's thrusted in front of them and trying to hide behind the other to shield themselves from it.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Bram Stoker's 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.
- In Stephen King's vampire opus '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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 in Tolkien's books (since wind is controlled by Manwë, holiest of the Valar), most notably in dispelling the darkness cast out from Mordor over Minas Tirith, and in actually dissipating Sauron's lingering spirit.
- In Scott Westerfeld's 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 Good Omens, Crowley kills the demon Ligur by dumping holy water on him. It's Crowley's weakness too, as he's also a demon, and that's why he handles it like nuclear waste.
- 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 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 a forgotten magic to transform it into a weapon that would only work against them.
- The Betsy the Vampire Queen series by Mary Janice Davidson 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.
- The Dresden Files:
- The Black Court (undead vampires) have all of Dracula's weaknesses, so they react to sunlight, holy water, and garlic.note Religious items' power against vampires is based on the user's faith; Dresden states that a cross would be useless in his non-pious hands, while a pentacle can channel his faith in magic.
- Similarly, the Red Court vampires (whose real form is some bat-demon beast) are weak against symbols of faith. Even those who are half-turned, who have the curse of the Red inside them but have yet to give into the urges and kill a person by feeding on them, cannot touch a holy item. One good person who was turned found her arm numb from just grabbing the hilt of a Sword of the Crossnote as it fell from the other handler.
- The Raith branch of the White Court vampires are weak to the greatest of the Theological Virtues: Love. The Raith branch inspire lust in their victims and feed off of it. If one tries to feed on a person touched by genuine Love for another being or an article that represents Love, the Love will burn them. One vampire, named Lara, has a ring-shaped burn on her hand when she grabbed the wrong wedding ring. Another, named Madeline, was poisoned badly from the thorns of a rose given from one person to another. Later when confronted by a person Madeline's gluttonous mind wanted to feed on, even though the person was protected by Love, Madeline was burned by the woman's hair and kiss to Madeline's skin.
- Averted with those possessed by Fallen Angels. They may enter a church without any issue. This is possibly justified, as God doesn't want them destroyed, but for them to see the error of their ways and come back to Him. They still don't like entering churches, though, since it reminds them of what they lost.
- During the Red Court ball in Grave Peril, Harry has brought Michael, one of the three Knights of the Cross, to the party. A particularly annoying vampire grabs Michael's shoulder and spontaneously combusts.
Michael: Sorry, that happens sometimes.
- In a later book, when Harry was covered by demonic insects summoned by a Fallen Angel, Michael's prayer and touched burned away the unholy creatures but left Harry unharmed.
- All this said, it is also averted if a good choice is being made. The aforementioned half-turned Red vampire woman had her daughter kidnapped once. When she swore to use the holy Sword of Love to find her daughter, protect her, and harm no innocent, the Sword permitted her to wield it to its full power.
- 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".
- "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.
- Works by Mercedes Lackey:
- In one book of the SERRAted Edge series, 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 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.
- The Big Bad... thing... in Summer of Night by Dan Simmons 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.
- 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.
- 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...collectable 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.
- In the first Harry Potter 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.
- Played with in the Incarnations of Immortality series: 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.)
- 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 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.
- While going through The Divine Comedy's 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 Buffy the Vampire Slayer 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- Parodied on Will & Grace, when Will expresses surprise that Karen Walker can wear a nun's habit without her skin burning.
- Holy water will burn demons on Supernatural. 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.
- 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 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. An early episode 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".
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!"
- 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.
- 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. Further, undead aren't so much destroyed by holy areas as they are weakened by it, certain divine spell caster classes may even consecrate or hallow areas at a cost, putting them at a distinct advantage against 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.).
- Mayfair Games' generic supplement Undead.
- The Lawful Evil Offspring of Nightbay appear to be children but are actually undead. When they attack their eyes glow red. The touch of holy water does 2-8 Hit Points damage to them.
- Ionic Discarnates are Chaotic Evil spirits that take 1-8 Hit Points of damage from holy water.
- Moonscourges are insane monsters that perform hideous murders. They have no power in daylight and holy water does 2-8 Hit Points damage when it hits them.
- 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 super villainess 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.
- In the Castlevania series as whole, this is taken literally — the Holy Water subweapon 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 Bonus Boss.
- Even better, one of the Darkness-based weapons is a cream pie. That means you can beat the Whip's memory of Richter Belmont by throwing cream pies at it.
- The cream pie is one of the best Darkness-aligned weapons in the game.
- 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.
- Holy Water has been a standard item throughout the Devil May Cry series... 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.
- In many Roguelikes, holy water hurts demons and the undead, and blessed/holy weapons do extra damage against them.
- 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).
- 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.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- Averted in the Reincarnation 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.
- Commented on in Touhou; both the Scarlet sisters use Creepy Cool 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, one of the few things that could 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 Darkest Dungeon, heroes suffering from the Crimson Curse suffer minor damage from the "Holy Water" item, which provides uninfected heroes with a buff.
- 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.
- The B-Movie Comic subverts this last one by using holy trichloroacetic acid on zombies.
- The storyline from Casey and Andy where Satan squares off against the Enemy Mime... and he's packing a squirt-gun. As it turns out, it was filled with holy water blessed by a dying pope on Easter Sunday directly over the holy sarcophagus of St. Peter.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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!
- In Sinfest, not only is "Big D" repulsed by angel glitter and has angel-repellent, but even some apparently mortal creatures have such weaknesses.
- Subverted in Lovecraft Is Missing.
"Heavens, no! Muriatic acid."
- Satan and Me has the main character, Nat, threaten to bring Satan to church if he doesn't fix her reputation at school.
- 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.
- 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.
- This is one of the many traditional weaknesses Vampires possess in The Adventures Of Dr Mcninja. 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.
- Zebra Girl: Sam's White Gloves, a religious symbol in his home universe, set vampires on fire.
- 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 its 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 darkness.
- 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.
- 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.
- The online story Tales of MU. Half-demon Mackenzie is harmed by holy stuff...and people have threatened her with holy water.
- Carmilla of the Whateley Universe isn't exactly evil, but her ancestors are Great Old Ones and in her first stories she is vulnerable to standard vampire weaknesses.
- Slacktivist has an excellent analysis of this trope here.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bait-and-Switch in an episode:
- An episode of American Dad! 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.
- Aku's Achilles' Heel in Samurai Jack; Jack's divinely powered sword is one of the few things that can hurt him, and he is 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).
- Shows up a few times in The Simpsons:
- 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!"
- Homer once 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.
- Subverted in a "Treehouse of Horror" short in which Marge and her sisters are witches. They show up at the Flanders home and Ned brandishes a cross to ward them off, but one sister mutters "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.