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Magic Is Evil

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Tommy: Trumpy, you can do magic things!
Crow: It's called "evil", kid.

Usually, in traditional fantasy, magic is a source of wonder and possibility, a tool used by heroic and villainous characters alike to achieve phenomenal results. But works in some genres, notably Low Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, certain flavors of Heroic Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery and especially supernatural Horror and Cosmic Horror, are not quite so enamored of their local Applied Phlebotinum. They prefer the use of the human intellect and human muscles to the eldritch workings of powerful sorcery or impossible mad science, often resulting in a strangely paradoxical view of their setting. Magic is something inexplicable, impossible, dangerous, and often, inherently dark or evil. This may tie into old, pre-scientific beliefs about the supernatural, which was often seen as frightening, dangerous, and more often than not hostile to humans, and thus, something not to be messed with by any sane soul save the local shaman, wise-woman, priest or other person experienced in its ways — and because of these people's association with the supernatural, people more often than not didn't trust them either, especially if they didn't have a tie to religion. As a result, magic is seen not as a source of wonder, but as a force for evil.

In settings where Magic is Evil, most if not all magic is Black Magic, leading quickly to The Dark Side. Even well-meaning sorcerers may be portrayed as dealing with a dangerous power that will eventually destroy them. Mages and others might be tormented souls, hated and feared by the population, or even actively persecuted. In many such settings, magic has few benign uses and can only work its tainted wonders through blood or other acts of terrible sacrifice. It may be tied to horrific beings from beyond that want nothing good for humanity, be it The Legions of Hell or some Eldritch Abomination that is madness to look upon let alone deal with. Maybe it has some corruptive effect upon the wielder's body, mind, and/or soul, such that anyone who uses it too much will eventually go evil, go mad, or suffer some other inevitably awful fate.

Some settings simply achieve this effect by featuring predominantly wicked magic-users or magical creatures, contrasting it with liberating and safe technology and ordinary human pursuits. Some settings tie the use of their Phlebotinum intrinsically to moral corruption or even the gradual destruction of the world; magic is, at best, a decadent and arrogant practice by frail humans who would wield power too great for them. Some even go so far as to make nearly all magic have hideous moral or physical costs that gradually destroy the sorcerer's humanity and make it impossible for magic to be a common fixture of the setting. After all, if there is just the Devil, but No God, and if magic is theurgic (coming from a magical being), there's no "good" source.

Some settings mitigate this slightly by portraying divine or religious magic with a more positive brush. In this case the message seems to be that God, or perhaps faith or the community, is acceptable, whereas the sorcerer's lonely power is inherently dehumanizing. A more cynical take on this view might argue that "miracles" are portrayed as good, but "magic" is portrayed as bad, because the church proclaiming the miracles does not like competition and/or threats to its power. Evil magic may be portrayed as coming from a Deal with the Devil, just to drive home the point.

As a result of magic's wicked nature in such settings, Muggles often target known magic-users in a Witch Hunt, usually ending with the magic-user being burned at the stake or otherwise executed.

Compare Science Is Bad (which, incidentally, is considered to be magic if the technology level of the setting is low enough).

In settings that do not have this view of magic, there's usually at least one Antimagical Faction who believes it to be such. The Witch Hunter in particular very much believes this regarding magic and those that wield it, and in settings that do not hold this view, he is most likely to be a fanatical villain. Sometimes this bleeds into audience reaction; "magic = Satan = evil" has been part of Abrahamic doctrine for a long time (and the three Abrahamic religions are collectively dominant in at least the Western world), so some Moral Guardians operating under this mentality have been known to condemn fantasy stories as evil for containing "witchcraft", even if there's good magic in the actual work.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: A few people can and do use a seemingly benign magic to fight against greater threats, and for quite a while they can even stay relatively sane, but Heroic Willpower doesn't last forever, and it's only a matter of time before they fall and become the very monsters they once fought against.
  • Soul Eater: Good witches are pretty rare, and they tend to get targeted along with the bad ones. There seem to be forms of magic besides witchcraft, though. Eventually subverted in the manga, as even though their magic makes almost all witches predisposed toward being chaotic, that doesn't make them evil. It's why Kid is able to bring a truce between the Witches and DWMA.
  • This is the opinion of Aleister Crowley in A Certain Magical Index. As explained in the light novels, he hates magic because it led to the death of his first daughter, and makes it his goal to wipe out magic as part of his intent to bring her back. The actual reality is more complicated. While some magicians have committed atrocities for the sake of power (Human Sacrifice being one example), the science side that Aleister founded is no less guilty of this. Most magicians shown aren't evil, just misguided at worst.
  • The Big Bad of Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest plays with this. She doesn't believe magic itself is evil, but too much magic in the hands of an individual or even a group will inevitably bring destruction and chaos to the world when it ends up being misused.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen:
    • All forms of magic (known as Jujutsu) runs on Cursed Energy: a mysterious power generated by negative emotions such as hatred and disgust, which means most Jujutsu Sorcerers tend to end up with a few screws loose. When left to it's own devices, Cursed Energy naturally accumulates into Cursed Spirits, malevolent Tulpa that instinctively bring harm to humanity, necessitating the existence of Jujutsu Sorcerers in the first place.
    • Played With: Jujutsu Sorcerers themselves run the gamut of moralities and make a policy of taking down the most malevolent sorcerers (whom they call Curse Users). And while many of them aren't great people personally, they do make their living saving innocent people. Furthermore, the negative emotions of sorcerers do not contribute to the manifestation of Curse Spirits.
  • Radiant: Fantasia isn't inherently evil, with it being naturaly found in the atmosphere, but because it is the power source of the Nemesis that destroy everything in their path, sorcerers are asociated with them and persecuted. The Inquisition opress sorcerers due to ruthless magic users being the rulers hundreds of years ago.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm makes clear that magic is not evil, but it is dangerous. Not only that, but even with the best of intentions it's very easy to stray down the left hand path if you don't know the rules, because Black Magic, even if performed in ignorance and with good intentions, corrupts extremely quickly — as Harry observes in the sequel, it doesn't take long for someone dabbling in dark magic to go from 'done with the best of intentions' to 'Jack the Ripper'".
  • In Ben 10 Hero High Earth Style Gwen was terrified at the idea of her boyfriend finding out she had magic powers, assuming he would believe she is an evil witch.
  • Pony POV Series: Subverted. Despite what a version of Cadence thinks, magic is not good or evil by itself, but merely a tool. It is the user who makes it good or evil.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Care Bears Movie had this as An Aesop for young children, no less. When the sleight-of-hand parlor magician's apprentice Nicholas finds an actual book of sorcery among some random stage props, the evil spirit in it influences him to conjure up a Hate Plague and other sadistic effects as part of her plot to rid everyone of feelings and empathy, thus destroying Care-A-Lot. Remember, kids: Care Bears and friends who care don't let friends mess with sorcery!
  • Pretty much the whole point of Children VS Wizards, much like the equally unsubtly anti-wizard book series it's based on.
  • Likely not a whole world view, but the people of Arendelle react this way to Elsa's ice powers in Frozen: Somewhat justified in expanded material, as the people of Arendelle had been hearing a prophecy about a ruler who would curse the land with eternal winter for hundreds of years.
    • Frozen II explored this even further when it was revealed that King Ruenard, Elsa and Anna's grandfather, expressed contempt towards those who practice magic e.g. the Northuldra, of whom Iduna—Ruenard's daughter-in-law and King Agnarr's wife—and the two sisters are descended from.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos stories. Those who use magic tend to be extremely evil (and nearly always insane).
    • Though both in The Dunwich Horror and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward the protagonists themselves use spells taken from Necronomicon in order to battle evil beings immune to all mundane effort, and don't suffer any consequences at least in the context of the stories.
    • A case could be made that magic in the context of the Mythos isn't so much evil, per se, as dangerous to humans due to their sheer ignorance of what they're actually doing when they set unknown but powerful forces and entities into motion. If the human villains of the stories have an edge here, it's likely due to their plain old ambition, ruthlessness, and willingness to jump off the slippery slope more than the use of magic itself somehow inherently 'corrupting' formerly-decent folk.
    • It's worth noting that most magic in the mythos comes from sources that aren't inherently evil, but are inherently damaging to people's sanity. So while some characters can use magic occasionally, people who've studied invariably start to have problems.
  • In Acacia, humans had copied the song of Elenet which would be the source of all human magic. Unfortunately humans are incapable of properly duplicating it and so magic is innately corruptive. Worse, even seemingly benign minor magicks have a corrosive effect on reality, let alone the truly heinous Black Magic that's the most common spells found in the tome The Book of Elenet.
  • Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne: In Averoigne, magic use is considered evil by the Church and the populace.
  • Most of the magic-wielders that Conan of Cimmeria encounters are extraordinarily malevolent, and the magic they practice tends to require truly awful material components and blood sacrifice. Just one example involves magics which need candles made from the bodies of virgins strangled with their mother's hair and their virginity taken after their death by their father. Howard's original Conan stories are part of the era's genre of Cthulhu Mythos. "The Tower of the Elephant", however, includes a friendly Eldritch Abomination who would rather only teach White Magic, so the latter clearly does exist.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire seems to be playing around with this trope. While it is hard to separate good from evil in the setting, magic seems to be decidedly unpleasant, carries a big cost, and usually results in someone dying.
    Dalla: Sorcery is a sword without a hilt. There is no safe way to grasp it.
  • Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus: Magic is only possible through a Deal with the Devil or other supernatural beings, often malicious.
  • Ciaphas Cain: The titular character has relatively few serious prejudices, but reflecting the general attitude of the setting, he and other protagonists treat all magic or psychic phenomena as a fearful thing. Justified, as anything Chaos related is likely to get you and everything near you (often defining "near" as "inside the same solar system") dragged down to the depths of Hell. Because of that, believing this trope fervently is a cornerstone tenant in several Imperial organizations, most notably the Ecclesiarchy.
  • In the Discworld novels magic weakens the border between the Disc and the Dungeon Dimensions, allowing all sorts of Eldritch Abominations to come through. Magic users themselves are usually portrayed as fairly decent, but the education of witches and wizards tends to focus on discouraging them from using magic, either by teaching them more practical skills or distracting them with university bureaucracy and politics. Discworld doesn't really have Magic Is Evil so much as Magic Is Way More Trouble Than It Could Possibly Be Worth. It's not characterized as actively malevolent by either the narrative or the characters, just as incredibly dangerous and unreliable.
  • The Farthest-Away Mountain: Heavily implied. While good creatures have forms of supernatural influence, the witch is an evil magic-user and an offhand mention about the son of the magician (along with another mention of wizards) implies that being a magician is enough for you to know the father was evil as well.
  • In the Land of Oz books, magic is illegal in the Kingdom of Oz unless you have permission from its ruler, Ozma. (typically, only Glinda, the Wizard, and Ozma herself use it). Of course, you can hardly debate such a rule, because nearly every villain encountered in the books is a sadist who uses black magic of some sort; spells used to inflict Forced Transformation and even worse curses seem rather common. The converse also holds in that the nature of the Oz realm (you can't kill or really hurt natives) makes it almost impossible to be a credible villain without magic.
  • David Farland pointed out in the introduction to his short story The Mooncalf that the farther back one goes in traditional Arthurian legend, the less things like powerful wizards, enchanted swords, and ladies who live in lakes seem benevolent. His story was an attempt to capture that flavor, where it's magic itself that ultimately will doom Camelot to tragedy.
  • The Magister Trilogy:
    • Every spell is Cast From HP. Magisters are those who've learned to cast from other people's HP. They're not nice people, to say the least.
    • Witches, who fuel their magic with their own life-force, are generally incredibly respected on the other hand. It's less that Magic Is Evil than Magic is Pricey, and who you make pay the price is the key.
  • In Josepha Sherman's The Shining Falcon, Danilo and many others are convinced of this. Finist distinguishes between sorcery, which is, and magic, which need not be.
  • Dragon Keeper Trilogy: Deliberately inverted. Danzi tells Ping that Sorcerers are not bad people, however, necromancers have proven to be total bastards.
  • Oddly enough, in The Dresden Files, while magic is certainly not inherently evil (the hero and many other Wizards use it to do considerable good, and it's only corruptive if you misuse it, breaking the Seven Laws of Magic), it's still shown as very dangerous and risky. Most magic practitioners can not do very much with it, though getting power from demonic bargains or breaking the Seven Laws is relatively easy. Also, even for major players who can do a lot with it, demonic temptations are manifold, the protagonist almost falls into this trap early in the series. For those magically gifted individuals without a major talent for it, and also access to a trustworthy teacher, a good case can be made from events in the books that the safe, smart, morally and pragmatically best choice is to turn away from magic and don't look back.
  • In The Demon's Lexicon, humans have very little power on their own. Magicians have to get their power by making deals with demons, typically sacrificing innocent people as payment. It's apparently addictive too.
  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy, many magicians are either actively malicious or complicit in an oppressive magocracy, so ordinary people tend to believe magic is evil. Even the way magicians get power leans toward evil, since they have to summon and enslave spirits and pretty much never bother to be benevolent masters. Aversions are so rare, most of the enslaved spirits think they're a pipe dream, and even the few who treat their summons with relative kindness and respect are nevertheless pulling spirits out of their native realm and into one that is harmful and antithetical to their "natural" existence.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium: While many characters and cultures exercise powers we would call "magical," the terms "magic" and "sorcery" usually imply artificially-acquired powers that seek to forcibly bend the world to the user's will and draw on Morgoth's lingering evil. Benevolent supernatural powers appear to come from divine force or from understanding and love of the world, rather than simple desire to control, and the Elves are frequently confused or annoyed by mortals calling their arts "magic".
  • C. S. Lewis:
    • The Magician's Nephew: Some kinds of "magic" (usually divine in origin) are all right for the purposes of the story's narration, but not the occult kind of sorcery from our world the foolish and evil Uncle Andrew is practicing without even understanding very well what he's doing.
      "Very well. I'll go. But there's one thing I jolly well mean to say first. I didn't believe in Magic till today. I see now it's real. Well if it is, I suppose all the old fairy tales are more or less true. And you're simply a wicked, cruel magician like the ones in the stories. Well, I've never read a story in which people of that sort weren't paid out in the end, and I bet you will be. And serves you right."
      Of all the things Digory had said this was the first that really went home. Uncle Andrew started and there came over his face a look of such horror that, beast though he was, you could almost feel sorry for him.
    • The Chronicles of Narnia: A running theme. Even though the world of Narnia is inherently infused with magic, actual spellcasting, the usage of magic to warp the natural order of things, is pretty much invariably evil. The very few users of this sort of magic are pretty much exclusively Wicked Witches, and even when the source of a supernatural phenomenon is not explicitly shown, the more obviously magical it is, the more likely it is to be some kind of dangerous and wicked curse, such as Eustace turning into a dragon in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The main exception is of course Aslan, who is performing miracles, not magic, and restoring or enforcing the natural order instead of bending or defiling it. Another exception is some of the music that the magical creatures of Narnia make, which is implied to flow along with the natural order. Yet another exception is Prince Caspian's tutor, who uses magic to put some guards to sleep to help Caspian escape and tutored him in magical theory before that.
    • The Space Trilogy: God forbids magic, so no, the heroes can't use it to fight evil. BUT... once upon a time, the rules were a lot more lax. King Arthur's buddy Merlin can use magic and, while a bit eerily "other", he's definitely on the side of good. And fortunately he's still immortal and waiting for someone to wake him up.
  • The Sword Of Saint Ferdinand: Subverted. Being a devout Christian, Elvira feels reluctant when Agatín offers to draw up her horoscope; but the old hermit assures her twice that he has studied all Abrahamic religions and he is confident that there is nothing sinful about astrology, so she consents.
  • The Wheel of Time: Originally, the "True Source" (both Saidar (the female half) and Saidin (the male half)) had ambiguous morality and were up to the user's design. Then, in the War of Power, Saidin was corrupted, and drove male Channelers insane, rotted them while they were still alive, and often caused them to kill truly horrifying numbers of people as they died. However, the Dark One's power, the "True Power", is inherently evil, though the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends didn't know that when they tried to reach it and accidentally released the Dark One - they were trying to find a single power that both male and female Aes Sedai could use. This being the WoTverse, most commoners (and much of the nobility also) are incredibly superstitious and stubborn and believe that all Channeling is evil, though much of that stems from the male Aes Sedai going insane and the end of the War of Power and devastating the world. The Children of the Light is an organization which firmly believes this that seek to hunt down and kill all magic users.
  • Usually true in Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion novels; since becoming a sorcerer requires demonic possession, sorcerers almost always become evil even if they weren't evil to begin with (which most were). A few sorcerers, however, are followers of the half-demon god known as the Bastard, who is not evil, and only the Bastard's grace and practices only the Bastard's clergy know keep them from being taken over by their demons.
  • The Black Company: It occurs as a result of I Know Your True Name. A wizard can be instantly and permanently severed from his powers by invoking his True Name (this even happens on page at one point). What this means is that the only sorcerers able to rise to significant magical potential without being De Powered by their enemies are those willing to destroy every record of their True Name—including their childhood family and friends.
  • In The Witch Watch all magic has traditionally been condemned as evil by the Church and the general populace. Sorcery in particular seems to generally be used for awful purposes but people have begun to wonder whether magic can be used beneficially for healing. It turns out this involves killing people, so no.
  • In The Sword of Truth The Blood of the Fold believe this, and that all magic users are banelings, who serve the Keeper. In their native Nicobarese and then beyond they seek to hunt down all the magic users they can find. When they actually find them though, it ends badly. Mostly, they simply kill many ungifted people that have been mistakenly identified as being gifted. However, the leader of the group also has a sister who is a sorceress whom he uses to further his aims. The Imperial Order believes this too, though in their case it's due to some people being gifted while others aren't offending their communist principles. Bizarrely, they are led by gifted and have a number willingly in their ranks, either ranging from hypocrites to apparently self-hating.
  • The Lost Years of Merlin: Clan Righteous despises all magic, attempting to kill its users and magical creatures without regard for how they use it.
  • In The Armored Saint, a novel by Myke Cole, author of ShadowOps, the local theocracy believes this to be the case, and spreads stories of how magic corrupts everything it is used on and how every magic user develops a portal in their eye which will quickly summon a demon if left unchecked. However, the protagonist soon meets a wizard who has practiced magic for years without any of these negative side effects ever occurring, and thus realizes that all of these notions are actually lies. Or are they?.
  • Most squirrels in Tasakeru follow this viewpoint, believing that only the Gods should alter the natural order. The degree to which this applies varies greatly; some families allow usage of the magically-infused spellstones crafted by mages of other species, and some reject any and all magic, spellstones included.
  • The Shadowhunter Chronicles: From the Shadowhunters' point of view, magic is their antithesis, because it is considered demonic. The fancy feats Shadowhunters do, which would have been considered magic anywhere, are called angelic gifts, and they really don't like it when people call them magic. That said, Shadowhunters tolerate magic to a degree because of their (uneasy) alliance with the demon-descended Downworlders and some Downworlders (most notably, Magnus Bane) are heroes in the franchise, so magic is not necessarily considered evil.
  • The Barbarian and the Sorceress: Rom reacts violently on learning that Barnabus is a sorcerer, since his people believe this, because of ancient sorcerer overlords who lusted for power. It turns out this isn't true however. Barnabus does use his powers for evil, but Kira doesn't, rather undoing his work.
  • Of Fire and Stars: Mynarians believe this generally, except for Recusants, as they worship it.
  • The Lost Years of Merlin: A lot of the people in Merlin's village fear magic as inherently evil. Even after he goes to Fincayra, a Magical Land, some still have this view. Clan Righteous is an Anti-Magical Faction that views magic as the curse of the land, seeking to wipe it out along with all magical creatures and magic users.
  • Dragonvarld: People in Idlyswylde mostly believe that magic is the work of demons, and loathe it. However, this isn't actually the case.
  • In The Jeremiah School, Brother Gabriel tells Peter Stone, Wesley Ronell, and Ginger Harmony of the titular school that the Luciferian Academy teaches its students how to dabble in the "unholy arts", which he says the Bible warns God's people against. Three of the Luciferian Academy students — Arthur, Rudy, and Artemis — are evil expies of Harry, Ron, and Hermione from Harry Potter.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Merlin (2008): Played with. Magic is not inherently evil; however, King Uther Pendragon was unready and unwilling to accept the price that was ultimately required for a spell that would grant him an heir — his wife dying in childbirth — which led to a campaign of extermination against all magic-users. As a result, Merlin must hide his talents or face execution, and most of the few remaining magic-users are out for bloody revenge against Camelot and the Pendragon line.
  • Once Upon a Time: Played with. Magic is a mostly neutral force and its morality depends on the intentions of the user, but can be split into Light and Dark magic and Dark magic at least always comes with a price. Magic is treated like drug addiction where if it's abused and used for selfish or malicious ends, the magic will become corrupted along with the user. Light magic in constrast doesn't seem to have a price or at least not as big a price as Dark magic. Light magic also appears to be natural within humans and fairies.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Magic isn't evil, per se, with at least a few unambiguous pieces of light magic (restoring a vampire's soul — though that's Cruel Mercy - and activating the entire Slayer bloodline simultaneously) demonstrated. However, it's a quick and easy vehicle to power, especially if you're willing to play in the deep end and most dangerously of all, it can be very addictive if you use it repeatedly. Willow used a simple shield charm in season seven when she was recovering from addiction and temporarily snapped to her evil persona. It's telling that the majority of magic users that appeared either were evil or spent time that way. However, Tara and Jenny Calendar (possibly also Dawn, though she only used it once or twice) were notable exceptions, along with the Devon Coven that helped out Giles.
  • The Mr. Potato Head Show: Baloney gets a magic kit in one episode. He thinks it's plain sleight-of-hand magic that he's getting into, but his magic wand turns another character into a toaster, and he accidentally summons a monster out of his top hat while trying to perform a magic act.
  • Supernatural: This is true for warlocks and witches. The series has never shown a witch who has used her powers for any kind of good. If they were not evil and killed humans, then the witches were at least selfish jerks. On the other hand, Sam and Dean can occasionally use gris-gris to ward off evil spirits with no problems. Granted, those don't seem to involve summoning or making sacrifices to demons...

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Judaism / Christianity: Supernatural actions and miracles have always been part of both religions, the difference being the entity to whom one is appealing for supernatural aid: if they don't come from God, they come necessarily from Satan, in whose case they are likely to be called magic, sorcery or at least pagan theurgy (only that their pagan "gods" are actually The Legions of Hell) as opposed to miracles (unless the user is trying to pass himself as a prophet or messiah).
    • Examples in Abrahamic lore include the magicians of Egypt, the Witch of Endor, Elymas, Simon Magus, Apollonius of Tyananote , Maninote , and Peter the Wolf.
    • Nonetheless, the position of the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages was that witches are not real, since God is the only who can bend the natural laws; hence, if you were seeing something seemingly supernatural, it is some heretofore unexplained natural phenomenon, a scam...or an actual divine miracle.
    • The infamous Exodus 22:18 from the Old Testament in The Bible states "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (KJV) as a law. This has been a contentious subject as the translated term and the original have been confused, and there is debate as to whether or not the original intent was to describe all magic users, harmful magic users, or if the original term more accurately translated as "poisoner" (though technically there were multiple original terms translated to "sorceror" or "witch" in the Bible, including both the word for "poisoner" and the word "Magus", as in one of the Magi like the three that visited baby Jesus). This verse in its KJV form was used as justification for many a Witch Hunt in the Renaissance and colonial eras.
    • Within those laws, Judaism is generally a lot more relaxed when it comes to magic, and occult traditions using angels and Yahweh have been the norm for centuries, including the Kabbalah. However, according to the traditional Jewish understanding of the Bible, specific types of magic are forbidden, as is superstitious behavior. For example, doing things because of omens, telling the future by reading the clouds, using objects as charms or to divine the future, necromancynote , and consulting with spirits are all forbidden, although there is debate about what each of the terms in Leviticus means.
    • Subverted during of Jesus's birth. "Magic" comes from the same Greek word as "Magi", which is the name given to the Three Wise Men who visit Jesus.
  • Islam: Magic (sihr) is viewed in a negative light in , which considers it to be the realm of Satan, while the feats performed by prophets such as Moses are called signs (ayat) or blessings (ni'mah). In The Qur'an, the holy book was repeatedly disparaged by the pagans as "just a magic". Islamic states (as in, states that apply the Islamic jurisprudence in everyday matters, not simply Muslim-majority states) have a law that forbids practicing magic, which carries a death penalty for those who are accused of it.
  • Classical Mythology: Magic is often seen as primal and dangerous. The main magic users, sorceresses like Circe or Medea, are almost always villains. The Greeks had laws against magic that prefigured many of those later revived under Christian kings— though they tended to be a lot more relaxed about stuff like protection charms and predictions, with visits to the Oracle of Delphi being a major feature in ancient times.
  • Native American Mythology: While not universal, magic is usually bad in most Native American cultures. Many creatures are actually witches or people resorting to magical powers attained through cannibalism, necrophilia or other such practices, most notably the Navajo skin-walkers.
  • The Thebaid: The rites of divination are unreliable, unnatural, and traumatic to those who practice them. The narrator takes an aside to ask why humanity developed such an arrogant and evil art when it's obvious the future is unknown to all men.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Nomine: Downplayed. Sorcery was created as a tool of Hell, and its core it is based on selfishness — for his magic to work, a sorcerer must truly, genuinely believe that he is entitled to enforce his will upon the world and make it serve his own ends. Most sorcerers pursue their path for petty reasons, almost invariably find their abilities and aims outstripping their sense and knowledge, and almost all are damned; some think that they can use their powers for good, but most are deluding themselves or end up corrupted by the forces that they bargain with. As such, the default gameplay assumption is that sorcerers are dupes or agents of Hell. However, a minority of sorcerers manage to contain their ambitions and genuinely use their powers ethically enough to avoid Hell's snare; a few even manage to achieve considerable fame and power and strike great blows against the demons — Solomon and Merlin are two of the most historically notable such cases.
  • The World of Darkness: Pops up quite a lot.
    • Hunter: The Vigil: The Long Night and Malleus Malleficarium believe this, given their roots in Christian fundamentalists.
    • Mage: The Ascension: This can be called the foundation of the Technocracy, who are basically fighting to ensure magic stays an impossibility. Gameline development went with a Strawman Has a Point direction by noting that many of the "more magical" reality paradigms the Mages are pursuing are a lot more dangerous to any Muggle than the one that the Technocracy established and is enforcing.
    • Mage: The Awakening keeps the line's built-in Magic Is Evil faction predominantly in the "delusional nutcase" arena by making them be the Banishers; Mages driven insane or scared witless when their magical powers emerged and who want to kill all magic users as a result — hypocritically using their own magic powers to do so.
    • Given what a Crapsack World the setting is, and the fact all of the various horrific monsters have some kind of innate magical abilities they use to prey upon humanities, it's kind of justifiable to believe this way if you're a Muggle.
  • Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000: Any and all use of magic has hideous risks and relatively few advantages. In Warhammer Fantasy magic can still be used with a degree of safety and positive result. In 40k, the power of the Warp is so terrible even being near the psychic backlash of sorcerous workings makes ordinary, virtuous people feel sick.
    • Note that in both cases, magic/psychic powers come from Hell (or, depending on one's interpretation, something worse).
    • In the latter, feeling sick might be a conditioned reaction in some who are trained to hate psychics; but when control over those powers slips, psychic phenomena occur and do have some nasty effects. The reason the trope is played straight, however, is that rogue psychics are prone to the influence of the Warp, and that can include: mutation, insanity, death, opening holes in reality, and summoning daemons (accidentally or otherwise). Not that Anti-Magic is any better: Blanks are humans with no Warp presence (depending the source, they might have no souls), with psykers having a freakout on sensing a "hole" in the Warp while normal people feel there's something very off-putting about the Blank, sometimes graduating to irrational "kill the abomination" extremes.
    • On the other hand, the Imperium relies on psychic power to function. The Imperium's communications network and FTL travel is only possible because of psykers, and their near -dead God-Emperor is sustained by having psykers sacrificed to power his Golden Throne. Furthermore, the God-Emperor himself was the most powerful psyker who ever lived.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Learning and using Cthulhu Mythos magic causes the user to lose Sanity points and eventually go insane. Most people using such magic are Mythos cultists who are both crazy and evil. Some magic is relatively safer, though; unsurprisingly, it's the kind that impedes or protects from Mythos forces (like the Elder Sign or the powder of Ibn-Ghazi).
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Adventure X2 Castle Amber, based on Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne stories. In Averoigne, magic use is considered evil by the Church and the populace.
    • Dark Sun (World of Athas) setting. The overuse of arcane magic caused Athas to become a desert planet, and a significant fraction of magic users are Defilers, whose magic use drains the life out of plants and animals within a certain radius. As a result, most people in the setting consider magic use evil per se. This was mainly an excuse to have a psionics-heavy setting.
    • Carcosan sorcery is about as evil as all get-out, drawing a lot of influence from the Cthulhu Mythos and from sword and sorcery stories such as Conan above. A lot of the sorcerous rituals listed require grisly Human Sacrifice of some nature, with the banishment rituals being the ones that generally don't.
    • While only using magic for evil purposes requires a Dark Powers check in the Ravenloft setting, using any magic in the Spin-Off campaign setting Masque of the Red Death requires one, as the Red Death itself is the source of magic in this setting, and casting spells can attract its attention easier.
    • Forgotten Realms inverts this. While magic can be, and often is, used for evil purposes, its source (and goddess) is good.
  • In 7th Sea, the Church teaches that magic is evil. And they're right. Magic was originally taught to humanity by demons, and every use of magic brings the gates of Hell closer to opening...
    • There are some forms of magic that are a bit problematic about this in-universe in that they come from demonstrably not (quite) evil sources... but as these are quite clearly from "pagan" origins (i.e. religious and/or folkloric traditions predating the Church), official religious doctrine still tends to take a very dim view of them. These magics are Avalon's Glamour (comes from the less-hostile members of The Fair Folk), the Vesten's Laerdom (comes from belief in their gods, heroes of old and ancestor spirits- which are likely all the same thing), and Ussura's Pyeryem (comes from Grandmother Winter, a Composite Character blending Baba Yaga, Mother Russia and Father Frost AKA Morozkho). These sources aren't particularly nice, mind you, but they're definitely less villainous than The Legions of Hell.
  • Ask any fundamentalist Christian about Magic: The Gathering and they'll say this is why Everyone Is Satan in Hell. Hilariously enough, an anti-magic church was the primarily religion on one Dominarian continent in The Dark... which was then revealed to be composed of hypocrites that used White Magic spells for their "miracles".
    • There's also The Consulate on the plane of Kaladesh. There, it's criminal to use any but a couple specific forms of magic related to crating Magitek. As a child, Chandra, a Randomly Gifted pyromancer, was marked for death because of this.
  • Free League Publishing: Played pretty straight in Symbaroum, where magic not only corrupts the user and slowly sends the magic user into a spiral of accruing more corruption that ends with the birth of an abomination at the cost of the characters life, it also corrupts the surroundings and the world itself. One of the factions in the game is VERY determined to stop the misuse of all magic.
  • Ars Magica: By default, God Is Good in the "Mythic Europe" Alternate History setting, and Holy Ground weakens magic and gives mages the uneasy feeling of being watched, but magic itself is a neutral force. The sourcebooks offer the option of making magic inherently sinful, discussing the setting and character implications, and even providing rules for repentant mages to give up their arts and learn to draw power from God instead.

  • While Prospero only uses his magic for good in The Tempest, he nonetheless drowns his books of magic for this reason at the end of the play.
  • The slightly earlier Doctor Faustus promised to burn his books — a little too late.

    Video Games 
  • It's hidden very well in Demon's Souls, but it's there: subtle clues that reveal that the Soul Arts (Which are essentially Blood Magic with the less tangible kind of life essence) are not only evil, but a direct result of an Eldritch Abomination called the Old One that wants to consume the souls of everything in existence. It can't eat souls directly, so it grants men the Soul Arts to use, become obsessed with, and ultimately turn into demons that collect souls for the Old One. The most important and well-known mage you meet in the game, Sage Freke, goes mad at the end of the game and asks you to let the Old One be just to keep the Soul Arts around. You could always try purifying the demon's souls to make miracles as countersigns against them, but...
    Talisman of Beasts item description: The symbol of God was nothing more than the image of the Old One.
  • Dragon Age has shades of this; magic is linked to The Fade, whose denizens range from vile demons to the still-potentially-dangerous spirits of virtue. Together with the fact that a corrupt ruling class of mages in the Tevinter Imperium are supposedly responsible for the creation of the Darkspawn and the terrifying Mind Control potential of Blood Magic, the world has a pretty valid reason to fear magic, but it often edges into Fantastic Racism. The Chantry keeps mages living in tightly-controlled Circles managed by the Templar Order, with non-Circle mages — or 'apostates' — often hunted and killed on sight. That said, most mage characters throughout the games — including, potentially, the player character — are decent enough people.
  • Arcane magic in the Warcraft Universe is not itself strictly evil, but it can have very bad effects on the human mind and is almost universally addictive. The various forms of elves, all the product of magical mutation, are all magic addicts — though the Night Elves claim not to be, their Moon Wells are clearly magical fountains — and this can lead to some very, very bad results. Furthermore, the more powerful a mage is, the more they are tempted to try their hand at Fel magic, a corruptive magical force which is almost universally evil and leads the would-be-warlock to attempt contracts with malicious demons.
    • Malicious demons which they can, occasionally, get the better of. PC Warlocks are no more evil than any other class (which is to say, often rather evil). They're certainly not beholden to the Burning Crusade, and, indeed, spend much of their time actively fighting Infernal forces. Entirely possible this is a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, since the number of "good" warlocks in canon can be counted on one hand (there's either one or two. And one of them jumps right down a rather steep incline in the World of Warcraft expansion he first appears in.)
    • In addition, necromanic magic, which was derived from demonic magic, does the same in that it corrupts the user. In fact the player warlocks are a small minority of those uncorrupted (depending on roleplaying). Lorewise, almost everyone that uses demonic or necromantic magic becomes corrupted by it.
    • It's been stated by Blizzard's official Lore Historian that Moon Wells give off Nature Magic, not the Demonic Arcane Magic (Mana in mathamaticized form) which is not to be mistaken for the equally Demonic Fel Magic(the result of the destroying Life/Wilds AKA the fifth Element similar to how Toxic Air, Foul Water, Ash and Iron are created from destroying the other four Elements: Air, Water, Fire and Earth through Dark Shamanism) which can hold off the Demonic Arcane addiction for some time(at the cost of draining the Life off of unwarded ground).
  • Vagrant Story describes magic as an unnatural act only possible by using The Dark, and dooms the user to an incomplete death.
  • In Bayonetta, magical powers for mortals are apparently obtained only through contact with supernatural beings—in fact, ordinary humans can't even perceive supernatural beings, most of whom seem monstrous, destructive, and callously indifferent to mortal life, whether demons of Inferno or angels of Paradiso. The titular character and the (sometimes) Dark Is Not Evil sect to which she belonged before it was destroyed have obtained their powers by selling their souls to (usually) malicious demons, and as a result are doomed to spend eternity in Inferno when they die, while their Light Is Not Good counterparts apparently likewise gained their powers from serving Paradiso.
  • In the Fall from Heaven mod's backstory, magic was originally taught by an Evil goddess. In game, though, it can go either way.
  • In Age of Conan, all of the mage classes use evil magic in some form, the necromancer simply uses dark powers, while the demonologist and Herald of Xotli make pacts with demons. Being based on the world of you-know-who, this is hardly unexpected.
  • In Diablo, it's an explicit part of the setting that most forms of magic carry a high risk of corrupting the user and making them into a servant of the demons. This is because the earliest magic, practiced by mage clans like the Vizjerei, was a kind of anti-theurgy that drew power from the demons themselves, in accordance with a long-term plan by the Prime Evils to corrupt humankind and make a foothold of Hell in the mortal realm. Even people trained in magic by angels, like the Horadrim, tended to become corrupted by the ends of their careers. Most people in the setting are fine with magic despite this, oddly enough. There are some exceptions: necromancers draw their power from an Eldritch Abomination and per their code are True Neutral and too unconcerned with fleeting personal power to fall to the lure of demonic might (making for an amusing subversion of how necromancers usually are in most other settings); the Horadrim, as well as the sorceresses who appear in Diablo III, were trained by angels for the common good; and the Nephalem have the combined power of angels and demons in their nature, and thus are not overly inclined to favor one side or the other. However, members of all of these groups are still at significant risk of corruption over a long career.
  • This viewpoint is a (possibly the) central theme of the online roleplaying game The Inquisition Legacy.
  • In Dishonored, magic is highly illegal and considered to be evil by most people. The only source of magic in the setting is The Outsider, who the main religion treats as a Satan figure. And aside from (possibly) the Player Character, none of the people he's granted powers to are nice guys.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Due to the slow and incremental updating process, the only "magic" currently available in the game is necromancy. NPC necromancers are immediately hostile to all other living things and raid nearby settlements (including your fort) for bodies. Player adventurers who take up necromancy can, with some inconvenience, avoid causing a zombie apocalypse in the next town they visit, but being DF players they are unlikely to avert the trope either.
  • In the backstory of Tales of Maj'Eyal, magic was directly responsible for the Spellblaze, a cataclysm that devastated the world and very nearly destroyed all life. As a result, magic and all forms of magic users are regarded with high suspicion in the present day.
  • The Elder Scrolls: The Redguards of Hammerfell hold this view on two points; since they have a Proud Warrior Race culture, magic is seen as just something "the weak and the wicked" use to avoid a "real" fight, and in the areas controlled by the socially conservative and xenophobic Crowns, magic is seen as a dangerous foreign influence on top of that. The Redguards have a long history fighting the Bretons of neighboring High Rock, a people who have an innate affinity for magic due to their Aldmeri ancestry and so tend to be wizards and Magic Knights. Conjuration in particular earns the ire of the Redguards, as it deals with tampering with souls, creating undead (in a culture which reveres the honored dead), and consorting with Daedra. Despite this, the Redguards do have an appreciation for Destruction Magic since that is used in a fight as opposed to being used to avoid one. This is reflected in their racial bonuses: they get a skill bonus for learning Destruction Magic.
  • With the supernatural options turned on, Crusader Kings II magic follows the rules that superstitious medieval people of the era believed in, with some Hollywood Satanism thrown in for taste. Which is to say, it's earned by bargaining with Satan, and more than evil enough to justify screaming "Burn the Witch!" when your chaplain brings you a probable servant of Lucifer's Own.

  • In Sluggy Freelance, not counting the "Torg Potter" wizards, the only human sorcerers who get more than a cameo are Gwynn (whose powers come from a Tome of Eldritch Lore and a Demonic Possession) and Kesandru (whose powers are based on turning ghosts into his slaves). Not exactly examples of Incorruptible Pure Pureness. When Gwynn is stuck in ancient times, it is explained that true magic is by definition a perversion of the Web of Fate; squashing a bug with magic and squashing it with your shoe might seem to have the same effect, but using magic is going against the universe itself. Fate can self-correct to a point, and magic can technically be used for good (the only reliable way to seal the End-Demon is using the magic he provides), but in the end magic is an existential threat in a way that nothing else is. Of course, it's not always clear what is true magic and what is just Sufficiently Advanced Technology.
  • Zig-zagged and combined with Dark Is Evil in TwoKinds. Normal Mana is neutral, but Dark Mana is obtained by using The Lifestream as mana, and when it doesn't drive the caster mad or kills them outright, it weakens their sanity and causes a horrific black burn to creep up their left arm.
  • In Shadows Of Enchantment, enchantment is described as "an art that tempts with promises of power, wealth and miracles, but in the end only corrupts and destroys". The Good Kingdom considers the mere existence of a new batch of enchanters to be cause for high military alert.
  • In Clockwork, all magic is considered inherently immoral and evil by Mercia, the leading world power, as it erodes the minds of those who use it, making them a danger to themselves and others; it's implied that humans aren't built for magic use in the first place. Even the genetic potential to use magic mandates a death sentence, in order to stamp out all traces of the threat from the population—and while Mercia has drawn Arcadia's ire for its policies of personally seizing Arcadian citizens suspected of magic use, there seems to be no disagreement between the two on their view of magic in general.

    Web Original 
  • In the game Doodle Devil, combining the elements "Demon" and "Energy" creates "Magic".
  • In The Rise of the Steam Soul from The Wanderer's Library mages wage war against each other with no regard for its effects on others, killing thousands and destroying most of the land.

    Western Animation 
  • In Aladdin: The Series, this was Zig Zagging.. Magic as a concept didn't seem evil, as there were plenty of benign creatures who used it (Like Genie, obviously). Wizards, on the other hand... Suffice to say that if there were any who weren't evil, the heroes never met any (And it took a couple of averted disasters that resulted from trusting them to finally figure this out). Unless you count Sadira, who’s rather at the low end of the power scale.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Played With. Star decides that using magic to solve problems only causes more problems, and the ones using it are all idiots who don't deserve the power they have, her own family included, and the cause of all problems by the end of the series. It's seen as a good thing when Star decides to destroy magic because it cannot be used responsibly, and it causes more problems than it solves. Its not magic itself that is portrayed as evil, but rather as as a metaphor for systemic power/privilege, with its removal being intended to be seen as analogous to things like gun control according to Word of God.