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Paranormal Mundane Item

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"There is a connection between our minds and the unknown, often hostile forces intruding on our world. These forces gravitate toward everyday objects – a gun, a television, a house with a reputation of being 'haunted.' So somehow, we affect these events. We're holding the key, but we don't have a clue on how to use it."
Dr. Casper Darling, Control, "Multimedia: Altered World Events"

Items with mystical properties are commonly assumed to look antiquated, bearing associations with ancient civilizations, the Middle Ages or some other time period no later than late 19th-early 20th century. Common examples are magical staffs, manuscripts, mirrors, potions, etc. This trope instead is about paranormal items that look like they were bought in a shop nearby. They are usually labeled with either an unfamiliar trademark or a familiar trademark with a strangely altered label. For example, it may be a chocolate bar which would transform you into a monster if you eat it or a video game cartridge that would teleport you into the game's realm as soon as you put it into your console.

Such items can often be found in Urban Fantasy. They may be used by a Blue-Collar Warlock, and are frequently sold in The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday. Often overlaps with May Contain Evil, in which case they may be a Cursed Item; also compare Supernatural Phone, Haunted Technology and What Do You Mean, It's Phlebotinum?.


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    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Click, Michael Newman, a workaholic family man, acquires a magical universal remote that enables him to control reality.
  • The red dress in In Fabric. It's seemingly demonically possessed and binds the souls of the people it has killed.

  • Robert Sheckley's "Fishing Season" centers around food items that look very similar to usual grocery products, but have some strange minor differences. They actually serve as a "bait" for humans, and those who eat them are sucked into another world.
  • The Goosebumps series have lots of those:
    • Full Moon Fever has chocolate bars called "Best" (actually "Beast"; turns people into werewolves) and "Cure" (actually "Curse"; makes people shrink in size) that look like your everyday shop merchandise.
    • The Monster Blood from the eponymous book is a jar of weird green substance that looks like children's slime toys, but has very creepy magical properties.
    • Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter has the titular purple butter that makes you shrink, and a piece of cake that makes you grow in size.
    • In Shop Till You Drop ... Dead!, the protagonists are on a Scavenger Hunt to find a number of items in a night department store. Goods found in this store include among the rest a Heart-Attack Backpack that suffocates people until they have a heart attack, and a toy ape that comes to life at night.
  • The portkeys in Harry Potter are seemingly meaningless pieces of trash, like an old boot. Deliberately averted with horcruxes, however: Harry asks if they could be anything, citing the portkeys, and Dumbledore replies that they could be, but any wizard vain or evil enough to make one, like Voldemort, would never lower themselves to put a piece of their soul in something easily mistaken for garbage. Petty criminals are known to engage in "Muggle-baiting", or deliberately enchanting mundane items to screw with Muggles.
  • In Scream Shop series by Tracey West, Sebastian Cream's Curiosity Shop specializes in selling such objects. One of the notable examples from The Curse of Count Blood is a vial with the symbol of a comic book character which turns out to be a tool for resurrecting staked vampires. Of course, as the main character quickly finds out, in his world Comic Books Are Real...
  • The Stories of John Cheever: The radio in "The Enormous Radio", which, after a repairman fiddles with it, starts pulling in not radio stations but the private conversations of every resident of the protagonist couple's apartment building.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had supernatural power invested twice into mundane comestibles, creating candy bars that made you act like a teenager and beer that turned you into a caveman.
  • Friday the 13th: The Series revolves around the objects of a certain store that held paranormal properties (and some of them were quite modern-looking, like a radio), but all of them were a pretty vile Power at a Price (as an example: a crucifix that allowed even people who knew nothing of spiritism to perform exorcisms, but had to be fed human blood (and that meant stabbing people dead with it)), a scalpel that would insta-heal whoever it was used on in an operation (but required it to be charged up by killing someone), a wheelchair that gave the capacity for Astral Projection to whoever used it, and the like.
  • The Objects in The Lost Room are perfectly ordinary-seeming items with bizarre and unintuitive powers, like a comb that can stop time, a canteen that causes everyone nearby except its holder to asphyxiate, and a pair of scissors that forcibly turns whatever they point at around any axis. They were originally entirely mundane items that were part of a man's luggage within the titular room when a mysterious Event transformed them, and they have since been disseminated around the world as people fought over them. The Objects are also indestructible, except when inside the Room itself.
  • The Twilight Zone (2002): The guitar in "Harsh Mistress". It grants the musician great music abilities, but is extremely possessive over who uses it and will murder anyone the owner grows attached to.
  • In Twin Peaks The Return, Freddy Sykes buys a gardening glove at a hardware store at the behest of The Fireman, a mystical being from Another Dimension. The glove becomes fused to his hand and gives him the power to deliver Megaton Punches with it.
  • Warehouse 13 involves many items that may have been run-of-the-mill when they were first made, but because they were owned by historically important people they ended up obtaining paranormal powers (or maybe the historically important people became such because they have paranormal powers; the series is glad to leave either option in the air).

    Tabletop Games 
  • The d20 Modern setting Urban Arcana has multiple examples of these kind of items within its gear section, from a chainsaw that gave its user a capacity to summon berserker rage in combat, a car bumper that gave the car it was attached to the capacity to ram with the strength of an even bigger car (so a Sports-Utility Vehicle would be hitting with the power of an eighteen-wheeler), a cell phone that had literal Super Cell Reception and could dial the phone nearest to anybody the user wanted to contact (if that person didn't had a phone of their own), and the like.

    Video Games 
  • Control: With the FBC being essentially Remedy's version of the SCP Foundation, this is to be expected. Altered Items are objects with strange effects and properties, such as duplicating mannequins and letters that teleport around a room. Objects of Power are similar, but can be bound to someone in order to grant them a paranormal power. Examples include the Floppy Disc (grants telekinesis), the Safe (grants a powerful shield), and the Ashtray (creates a constantly shifting maze around itself which only the binder and those they grant permission can pass through). Background details mention that anything of cultural or personal significance can become an Altered Item or Object of Power; the Bureau uses only generic non-branded products for everything because anything with a recognizable brand is more likely to gain supernatural properties, especially in the Eldritch Location where they work. Also, it seems objects have to be at least a few decades old before they're considered significant enough in humanity's collective consciousness to be eligible for getting supernatural powers. The FBC has to make do with computers from the 80s, a pneumatic tube system for communication, and guns from World War I, because anything more modern than that tends to explode when it enters the Oldest House.
  • Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse centers around the mystical Toys of Power which are actually very ancient, but for some reason look like ordinary toys that may be found in a modern-day toy shop (like a toy telephone that allows its user to teleport and a wacky putty toy that gives him the ability of transformation).

    Web Comics 
  • In El Goonish Shive, cans of shrink soda look like ordinary cans of soda, there are also bottles of sunscreen whose contents transform the person into the Female Variant #5 form which is elaborated upon on its label.
    • There is a shop in the mall that sells items like this including a toothbrush that transforms your teeth and jaws with every use, plus the aforementioned shrink soda and other presumably canned magical beverages like femme cola, and furry juice.

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    Western Animation