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And unto dust you shall return.

"My touch brings decay! I rot you in the name of the law!"
Judge Mortis, Judge Dredd
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A character has the power to make things decompose. May require physical contact. If they can't turn their power off, they are also a Walking Wasteland. Sometimes this power may even work on non-organic material. Could be considered as the opposite of Green Thumb. Not exactly a power one would associate with heroes, by default.

Compare Plague Master and Enemy to All Living Things. Contrast Fertile Feet.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: Once Guts' companions have evacuated the women and children of Enoch village from the trolls' den in the astral world's region of darkness, Qliphoth, Schierke destroys the pursuing trolls and seals the portal between worlds by acting as a Willing Channeler to a nature spirit of the place. A hulking figure made of roots that looms behind Schierke while using her body as a puppet, it calls itself the Rotting Root Lord, chief of rotting trees and putrid mud. Through Schierke's body it speaks the command, "ROT." and blows air upon the ground, which upon touching the trolls causes them to instantly decompose into a steaming heap of putrid, almost liquified carcasses.
  • Ao No Exorcist has Astaroth, the King of Rot, and his kin. He has yet to make an appearance himself but his "pet", the Impure King, was a major antagonist.
  • Medaka Box: Emukae Mukae has this as her minus, Raff-Rafflesia. She can make things rot by touching them. She can control the intensity and way things decompose , but she can't turn it off. Later she learns to do it "wirelessly".
  • Persona, the superviser of the Dangerous Ability group in Alice Academy. Has a Dark and Troubled Past because of his powers and his inability to control it.
  • In Bleach, Baraggan Louisenbairn's Respira causes everything to age rapidly. Stone crumbles, spells fade away and flesh rots.
  • In Sola, Matsuri Shihou has this power, and as long as she makes direct physical contact she can make nearly anything, from metal and stone to flesh and bone, rapidly decay.
  • One Piece:
    • Crocodile's Sand-Sand fruit not only lets him turn into sand, but he can even suck moisture from whatever he touches, leaving barely alive mummified husks in his wake.
    • Shinobu's Juku Juku no Mi is a rare heroic example, allowing her to make inanimate objects age and rot away.
  • My Hero Academia: Tomura Shigaraki's "Decay" Quirk can't be turned off, but only works if he touches something with all five fingers.

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: Judge Mortis is one of the four dreaded Dark Judges who periodically break into the reality of Mega City One. He has the power to induce instant mortification and decay in anything he touches.
  • Carrion, a minor Spider-Man enemy has the ability to cause organic matter to rot with a touch.
    • DK, another Spider-Man villain with a similar power.
  • DK, is a minor villain (not related to the above one) in Irredeemable who has this as his power.
  • In DP7 Dennis "Skuzz" Skuzinski's acidic skin makes everything he touches rot or burn away, including his clothes.
  • The mutant Wither from X-Men has the power to decay any organic material his skin comes in contact with. Power Incontinence leaves his power permanently on. Especially heartbreaking is when the majority of mutants in the world lose their ability, Wither mistakenly believes he has too. He grabs the wrist of the girl he is in love with and her hand withers away.
  • In the DC Universe, the Batman villains Clayface III (Preston Payne) and Clayface V (Cassius "Clay" Payne) could make the bodies of living creatures melt by touching them. Clayface VI (Dr. Peter Malley) could make them melt without touching them.
  • A variation occurred in Strikeforce: Morituri; Blackthorne could break the molecular bonds of whatever she touched, causing them to rot and dissolve.
  • One horror comic had a story where The Protagonist had been saved from death after being given the ability to age things to dust at his touch. He drains their lifespans into himself in order to keep himself young and vital. After circumstances cause him to kill the woman he loves with his touch (as well as age his entire mansion to a husk just from touching the doorknob with his ungloved hand) he finds a place to sit and wait until things catch up with him and he goes to dust as well.

    Films — Animated 
  • Heavy Metal (1981): The Loc-Nar can give off a green energy that causes highly accelerated decomposition. If used on living creatures it causes death ("Grimaldi", "Harry Canyon"). If used on dead bodies it makes their flesh rot away and turns them into animated skeletons ("B-17").
  • Epic: The Big Bad Mandrake fires arrows tipped with a special poison that rots plants and can instantly kill (and fully decay) an animal.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Janitor, Collin, in Silent Hill is forced to crawl on his stomach, dragging himself forward. Everything that his hands come into contact with turns to a decayed mess, swarming with roaches. He's too slow to directly harm any of the film's human characters, but the wave of pestilence that follows him is dangerous on its own.
  • In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance after Carrigan becomes Blackout he gains the power to make things decompose just like his comics counterpart. He finds it rather surprising that the only food that doesn't mold up and rot away are Twinkies.
  • In The Mummy, Princess Ahmanet sucks the life out of her victims to regenerate herself, leaving them as rotten corpses to be raised as her zombie servants.
  • Wish Upon has protagonist Claire making her first wish to the evil box: "I wish Darcie Chapman would just, like, go rot." So, the Alpha Bitch starts to suffer from Body Horror flesh decay.

    Literature 
  • The Shadow Ops book series has random people manifesting powerful magical powers. On rare occasions one of these powers is Negramancy, the power to accelerate entropy. When it is used, objects crumble to dust in seconds and living things start to rot and decay. The power is casually called Witchcraft or Black Magic and its use is prohibited under the penalty of death.
  • Freddy does this to the main characters in the first story of The Nightmares on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger's Seven Sweetest Dreams.
  • In Everworld, all witches—including Senna—have poisonous blood that kills plants, though apparently not animals or people. It can even render land infertile, which is why (in Everworld at least) witches are always killed in ways that won't shed blood, like drowning or burning.
  • The touch of the shades in Shadows For Silence In The Forests Of Hell withers living flesh. Silver can reverse the withering if applied quickly, with results varying from full healing to leaving the flesh gray and dead, but physically intact, depending on how swiftly the silver was applied.
  • In the David Eddings series The Tamuli, this is one of the many powers the Delphae possess from being Cursed with Awesome by their god. Including mindreading, invisibility or changing of skin tone, 'silent' magic (meaning that other mages and gods don't know when they've cast a spell). Being Perfect Pacifist People, this causes them some serious emotional difficulty when they're recruited into the war and have to goo-ify a few enemy camps on their own. But rotting one walls, and scaring them to run away works as well, due to their reputation of doing precisely that.
  • Journey to Chaos: This is a standard power of Grim Reapers because all things eventually decay and die. It can also be used by nercomancers. During Looming Shadow, Eric steals Reno Grade's Senescence necra podesta and thereby gains the power to decay physical objects.

    Live Action TV 
  • Charmed:
    • There was an episode that dealt with a demon of vanity that could de-age others and make them young and healthy again. He then shows that he can also reverse this and rapidly ages two women into piles of dust.
    • A later bad guy uses a spell to accomplish the same feat on a minor of his that has disappointed him.
  • Reed Strucker begins developing this power in season two of The Gifted. It had previously been suppressed by his father's experimental treatments.

    Roleplay 

    Tabletop Games 
  • One spell available to followers of Nurgle (Nurgle's Rot) in Warhammer 40,000 can do this.
  • In Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Alarielle the Goddess of Life Magic wears the Talon of Dwindling, a weapon representing the withering of vegetation as winter approaches that is capable of turning enemies into lifeless husks with the slightest touch.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, there are spells like Putrefy, Decompose, Krovikan Rot, Abrupt Decay, Brainspoil and Rapid Decay, among others.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Necrotic/negative energy damage, which overlaps with Casting a Shadow.
    • If a Violet Fungi monster hit a living creature with one of its branches, the creature had to make a saving throw vs. poison or have its flesh rot and its body decompose.
  • Zerstoerung, the lost sorcery of Eisen, in 7th Sea, consisted mainly of these powers.
  • DC Heroes has the Cell Rot power, which can cause any living or formerly living substance to decompose. If used on a living creature it's treated as a normal Physical attack. The Batman villain Clayface III (Preston Payne) had this power.
  • The Calabim in In Nomine are surrounded by invisible fields of entropy that can break down the integrity of any ordered structures within their reach.
  • Messing with the Abyssal Exalted is a bad idea for a number of reasons, not the least of which is their ability to inflict this sort of damage on people.
  • Mage: The Awakening: Mages can use the Death Arcanum to induce various forms of rot and decay on objects or lifeforms, including with that Arcanum's signature attack spell. Said spell inflicts hefty social penalties on the victim on top of the usual damage, because its effects are just that gross.
  • The Ultimate Powers Book expansion for the classic Marvel Super-heroes RPG included the power Biophysical Control/Decay that just as it says it causes the targets to decay and if the damage is greater than the health of the target it quickly rots away to nothing.
  • In Nightbane, there is a spell in one of the supplements that decays flesh until nothing remains (intended for heroes and villains to remove the remains of their victims).

    Toys 

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-073, better known as the biblical Cain, withers all plant matter in a small radius around himself.
    • SCP-106 does this to absolutely everything he comes into contact with.
    • SCP-811 has this effect on living things due to the mucus she secretes from her palms and soles. The foundation even tried to use it to melt SCP-682. They didn't put her in the chamber with him, for obvious reasons, instead they just scraped some of it off of her hands and feet over a period of time so they could spray it on him. Naturally, it didn't work.

    Western Animation 
  • Kid Rot from Grossology can rot all organic materials, but since it's a kid's show, the closest he's come to using his power on a person is by being The Nudifier.
  • The Dry Spell Spirit from episode 16 of Extreme Ghostbusters can suck water out of his victims, leaving them as rotten mummies.
  • The Lich from Adventure Time in his first appearance kills everything he passes over, even water.
  • The main power of the villain D'Compose from Inhumanoids, along with the ability to turn his victims into mutated zombies.
  • Rare heroic example in Miraculous Ladybug, where Cat Noir's Cataclysm ability causes anything it touches to crumble to dust. As a hero, he doesn't use it on people, except when he's Brainwashed and Crazy (and almost on first time out, when he didn't know any better).
  • Biker Mice from Mars featured a one-shot villain named Corroder Cody in the episode "The Masked Motorcyclist", who had the power to make anything made of metal melt just by touching it.

    Real life 
  • Several real-life venomous animals — such as the puff adder and the brown recluse spider — contain a large amount of cytotoxins in their venom, i.e. they're toxic on a cellular level. Symptoms of cytotoxic envenomation include localized necrosis, where cells simply die around the site of the venomous bite, leaving a nasty-looking patch of what is effectivelly rotted tissue. In the specific case of the brown recluse spider, the condition is called loxoscelism.

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