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"All things must wither and die. Let root rot and bower blight, to feed the pestilence of abandoned hope."
Aghalhor the Bringer of Poxes, Warhammer 40,000

The Plaguemaster is a character who delights in disease and pestilence, gleefully spreading contagions and poxes across the world For the Evulz. Leprous wounds, eyes scabbed over with crusted filth, weeping sores, unburied corpses piling up in the streets — these are a few of their favorite things, and they'll use whatever technological or supernatural talents they possess to bring about The End of the World as We Know It with a hacking, bloody cough.

Typically a Plaguemaster's physical form is just as ravaged by disease as their victims, but due to the character's empathy for illness, they frequently enjoy immunity to the negative effects of the diseases they carry, and may even have supernatural toughness because they're a walking plague ward. The Plaguemaster's obsession is often reflected in their appearance, either bloated with rot and cancerous growths, severely wasted and skeletal, or ironically dressed in Plague Doctor garb... but the most insidious Plaguemasters appear perfectly normal, all the better to spread disease without suspicion (or they are Typhoid Marys).

The technologically adept Plaguemasters may use Synthetic Plagues. If the Plaguemaster isn't immune to their diseases, you can expect them to die by becoming infected with their own plague.

Very rarely, characters will have powers of pestilence but lack a real Plaguemaster's interest in using them. But for the most part, any character with plague-related abilities is quite clearly a villain —either of the Card Carrying variety, or a Visionary Villain operating by some twisted Blue-and-Orange Morality that holds all life to have an equal right to thrive, including pathogenic bacteria, fungi and even viruses.

See The Plague or The Virus for what the Plaguemaster spreads. If faced in combat, the Plaguemaster usually deals in Damage Over Time. Their activities are always a great excuse to introduce a Zombie Apocalypse. Sister Trope to Poisonous Person. Compare Typhoid Mary, someone who unwittingly infects people with a disease they themselves are immune to, and Share the Sickness where someone tries to intentionally infect someone with their disease. See Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke for where the Synthetic Plague is likely to come from.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Two Stands in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind have this ability:
    • Cioccolatta's Stand, Green Day, spreads a wicked mold that devours anyone who comes into contact with it within seconds. He has a lot of fun with this power.
    • Pannacotta Fugo's Stand, Purple Haze, creates a deadly flesh-eating virus which can melt down human flesh in 30 seconds. However, unlike Cioccolatta, Fugo is a more pleasant and caring person, although he does have a short temper.
  • The Dorumekian Theocracy from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind uses fungal spores in warfare.
  • One Piece:
    • Queen the Plague of the Animal Kingdom Pirates is a Mad Scientist who likes to breed and weaponize artificial diseases to use on his enemies. He only has to shoot a few people with a special bullet designed to infect before the entire crowd becomes a mini-apocalypse that will kill them shortly afterwards. While the first sample, the Mummy virus, just made victims weak, feverish and caused them to bleed until they dried up, on Onigashima he shows off a nasty disease called Ice Oni that turns its victims into raging monsters before they die. Both times, Chopper is called upon to whip up a cure; he calls out Queen the second time around for weaponizing diseases that will inevitably go out of control.
    • Doc Q of the Blackbeard Pirates, at some point during the Time Skip, obtained the power of a Devil Fruit called the Sick-Sick Fruit, which lets him create any malady he wants. One such disease causes the victims to spontaneously switch genders (though Law manages to forcibly revert it with his Haki).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Seto Kaiba's use of the various virus cards is able to weaken his opponents' monsters, prevent them from using stronger monsters, or mill their deck to the point of decking out.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering
    • One of Black's domains is inflicting disease. There are many cards with a Plaguemaster flavor; for example, the Phyrexian Plaguelord.
    • This is the hat of the Phyrexians, and Scars of Mirrodin gives them powers to match; via -1/-1 counters and poison (can't remove it, get 10 and you lose).
    • The Theros block also included Pharika, God of Affliction.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

  • Better Bones AU Runningnose causes ShadowClan's epidemic on purpose to kill Nightstar and his supporters and make way for Tigerstar becoming their new leader.
  • Rei from Thousand Shinji is an Anti-Hero example. When she converts to Nurgle, Chaos God of Decay she gains mastery over viruses, bacteria and sickness, and her whole body becomes a factory of toxins and diseases.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The antagonist in 12 Monkeys released a deadly plague in multiple cities across the world which ended up causing the human survivors to live underground.
  • Typhoid Mary from Elektra. Film version only; comic book Mary has Psychic Powers instead.
  • The Field Guide to Evil: "A Nocturnal Breath" is about an evil spirit called a drude that possesses the body of a sinner. At night, it exits the body—leaving its human host in a deathlike trance—and travels the countryside spreading disease.
  • The villain of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life, Jonathan Reiss, being a bio-terrorist, is this.
  • The Witch Queen from The Last Witch Hunter has this as her primary ability, and her endgame involves creating the second Black Death plague to end human civilization.
  • The Big Bad in The Monster Maker is Dr. Markoff; a Mad Doctor who has developed both a means of infecting people with acromegaly (a condition usually caused by a defective pituitary gland and having no known cure) and a cure for it. He plans to use the serums in a Poison and Cure Gambit.

  • The Cener Druids in the Lone Wolf gamebook series. They first play a major role in the aptly-titled The Plague Lords of Ruel.

  • John Connolly's short story "The Cancer Cowboy Rides" has Buddy Carson, who spreads cancer with a touch.
  • Victor from The Company Novels is turned into an unwitting plaguemaster by the Plague Cabal, unknowingly inflicting deadly disease to those around him at Labienus' whim. When he does find out, Labienus uses it to leverage him into becoming The Mole, since he can activate Victor to kill anyone he's close to if he doesn't obey. He pushes Victor a bit too far in the end, and suffers And I Must Scream by way of one of his own plagues when The Dog Bites Back.
  • Fengshen Yanyi has Lu Yue, a wicked taoist Immortal who later becomes the chief God of Plague alongside his four "Plague-Carrier" disciples. Each of his disciples has a magic weapon which can cause a deadly illness (in order, a migraine-inducing sounding stone, a fever-causing banner, a torpor-inducing sword and a illness-causing whip), while Lu Yue himself can assume a six-armed form to wield multiple plague-spreading weapons at once (a sword, a bell, a banner and a stamp), kickstarts a plague in the city of Xiqi by putting plague pills in all water sources and returns later with a deadly formation which clouds the victim in a deadly, illness-spreading miasma. Another example is given by the Yu brothers, who can use magic to cause an outbreak of smallpox on the enemy camp, which forces Yang Jian to seek the help of the god Shen Nong to obtain an explanation on the mysterious illness and a cure.
  • In Good Omens, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Pollution is one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Pestilence quit decades ago over that whole "penicillin" thing.
  • One of the villains of Harry Potter is Fenrir Greyback, a werewolf who deliberately goes around spreading lycanthropy — in particular, he targets children, as Remus Lupin learned the hard way.
  • Typhoid Larry from Perry Moore's Hero is one of the few heroic versions of this trope.
  • The character Sebastian Gault becomes the King of Plagues in Jonathan Maberry's appropriately-titled novel, The King of Plagues. His job, within the secret society which gives him that title, is to spread devastating diseases across the globe so that his organization can profit from the chaos... somehow.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Masque of the Red Death" revolves around the nobility of an unspecified country escaping the titular pestilence by locking themselves away in the prince's country estate, where the disease eventually manifests as a masked guest at a ball.
  • Nowhere Stars features an Anti-Hero example. Liadain Shiel, a terminally ill Magical Girl, has powers revolving around sickness, corruption, and spreading her own pain. She hates this, but has no other tools to wield against the living nightmares she needs to hunt to extend her life.
  • The Sandokan novels have a rare Anti-Hero example in Wan Horn, a microbiologist who helps Sandokan and Yanez against the Assam rebels in Yanez's Revenge by causing a cholera outbreak in the latter's camp, after of course inoculating Sandokan, Yanez and their allies. By the time Yanez' reinforcements arrives the outbreak has ended... And the rebels have been decimated, with the survivors being so demoralized they just give up the moment they see a fresh and well-armed army coming for them.
  • In Septimus Heap, Queen Etheldredda uses her pet Aie-Aie to spread a Sickenesse among all those who displease her.
  • The immortal "H" from Roger Zelazny's To Die in Italbar. When he meditates in a certain way, his immune system goes into a sort of Super Mode that can instantly cure anyone of any disease simply by being in his presence. However, when he goes long enough without meditation, he begins sort of radiating every disease he's ever been exposed to. When, due to a number of mistakes and understandings, he goes MUCH too long without meditation he is driven completely insane, eventually reaching the point where he can kill entire planets with a brief tour, and his powerful immune system can't keep him from being covered in open sores. This is because it eventually turns out that his powers are granted by communion with an alien goddess of life and death.
  • The Big Bad of The Traitor Son Cycle has a habit of creating and sending out Mystical Plagues to weaken the heroes' forces.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jha'dur from the Babylon 5 episode "Deathwalker" is a war criminal infamous for at least one case of exterminating a whole planetary population with Stafford's Plague.
  • Two episodes of Body of Proof revolved around an eco-terrorist who aimed to combat overpopulation by infecting himself with a particularly strong virus related to Ebola and spreading it around the city by smearing his blood on things that a lot of people touched, like the handrails on subway steps.
  • The damned soul of the week from the Brimstone episode "Carrier" is Typhoid Mary. She's back on Earth and up to her old tricks. Worse, her typhoid is a hundred times worse for having been bathed in the flame of Hell.
  • Hus from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Pangs" magically infected Xander with diseases brought to North America by European settlers.
  • In the Charmed (1998) episode "Awakened", Piper is dying of a disease, and Prue and Phoebe become desperate enough to try and cure her with magic. It works, but unfortunately the doll used in the spell becomes animate, and has the power to infect people with the disease by poking them with its sword.
  • An episode of Criminal Minds had a psycho whose MO was to infect people with rabies, and hold them captive until they died from it, filming the entire thing.
  • The test subjects from the Doctor Who episode "New Earth". Cloned humans that are a living collection of various ailments, they killed whoever they touched by infecting them with their diseases.
  • Gotham: Alice Tetch's blood was poisonous and infectious, tainting people who come into contact with it with uncontrollable anger, enhanced strength, and enhancement of their deepest desires.
  • The Law & Order episode "Carrier" has the detectives tracking down a street kid with AIDS who deliberately intends to infect as many girls with HIV as possible.
  • Mission: Impossible:
    • "Operation Rogash": When an unbreakable foreign agent known as "The Monster" who specializes in mass murder is discovered in Los Angeles, the IMF team needs to break him, only to discover a planned biological attack on Los Angeles area water system.
    • "The Carriers":I n order to stop an expert in American traditions, slang, and customs from conducting his plan of bacteriological warfare against the U.S. and to put him permanently out of business, the IMF team infiltrates a mock-up of an American town located behind the Iron Curtain where enemy agents learn to act as Americans.
    • "The Test Case": A "hired gun" bacteriologist is developing a deadly but short-lived virus for the Warsaw Pact; the IMF must eliminate him and his virus.
    • "The Plague": A French terrorist has stolen a deadly bacteria that causes rapid organ deterioration in those infected by it. The IMF must convince her she has been infected herself in order to re-obtain it.
  • The New Avengers: Professor Turner in "The Midas Touch". Turner has found the ultimate carrier for a host of deadly diseases, calls him Midas and offers him to the highest bidder in exchange for gold.
  • Stargate SG-1 had Linnea, who was known on her home planet as the Destroyer of Worlds. She created a virus that wiped out most of the population, and tricked SG-1 into letting her escape with them from the prison they were all in.
    • They later unwittingly ran into Linnea on another planet, Vyas, where she managed to create another plague despite the planet's 1920s-era technology. However, this plague had the effect of de-aging everyone and wiping their memories. As a result, she doesn't remember who she is. They let her live after convincing her not to take the treatment she develops.
    • And then there was Nirti — a Goa'uld interested in biology and virology.
  • Pestilence from Supernatural, obviously. He's responsible for spreading swine flu so he can later distribute a vaccine that carries the real plague that will destroy humanity, a strain of the Croatoan Virus.

  • GWAR:
    • The band's second guitarist, Pustulus Maximus, was said to be host to every disease and malady known to man. With the notable exception of bird flu and childhood obesity.
    • Their rhythm guitarist, Balsac the Jaws of Death, is credited with the invention of venereal disease as a whole.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Pestilence, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation, embodying disease and decay. However, while most of the Horsemen are not named in the text (only Death definitely is), the rider carrying a bow and arrow is usually named Conquest.
    • An old trope is to attribute disease to Satan (often due to the Book of Job, or how exorcism and disease-curing happen side by side in The Four Gospels). For centuries (and in certain cases, today) even as Science Marches On it was commonly believed in Christendom that demons caused diseases — although natural explanations weren't abandoned, it's just that Satan was seen as the cause of those natural causes too.
    • In certain parts of the Bible, God Himself sends plague on enemy nations. However it's specifically as a punishment for certain actions and not just for its own sake like other plaguemasters.
  • Often, many gods in polytheistic pantheons will be patrons of disease.
    • Finnish Mythology has Kipu-tyttö, the goddess of disease.
    • Chinese Mythology: Lu Yueh, god of epidemics.
    • Norse Mythology: The goddess Hel could cause plagues, diseases and pestilence with the wave of her hand.
    • Classical Mythology: Apollo, which is rather ironic considering he is also a god of light.
    • Mesopotamian Mythology: Nergal, the god of war, death, disease, and the underworld. He was associated with the midday sun and the summer solstice, and the terrible heat that came with them.
    • Egyptian Mythology: The war goddess Sekhmet was primarily a goddess of righteousness, but could be a complete Knight Templar about it. Her attributes were derived from Ra, the sun, but she embodied the destructive aspects of it, with disease, the destructive heat of the sun, and infertility to crops being some of them.
    • In Pacific Mythology, although Poli'ahu was primarily a benevolent goddess of snow and ice note , she did inflict chills and fever on her rival for love, Hinaikamalama actually a form of the fire goddess Pele, which, besides them being diametrically-opposed elemental forces, is a major reason they don't get along, and on her ex-fiancé Aiwohikupua for cheating on her with Hinaikamalama on what would have been their wedding day.
  • The Nuckelavee, an evil, ocean-dwelling fairy from Scottish folklore.
  • Some of the demons described in the Ars Goetia could be called upon to evoke various kinds of this. Thing is, only one of them, Marbas, was a generalist (his other powers being curing disease, and Forced Transformation. One leads to quite a con game, the other to the ultimate in biological warfare). Leraje, Sabnock, and Vepar apparently all specialized in battlefield disease. Leraje caused arrow wounds to putrefy, while Sabnock and Vepar called maggots in to colonize wounds in general.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shrouds with the Pestilence dominion in Anathema can magically create and spread deadly diseases.
  • A number of these appear in Deadlands:
  • The Dungeons & Dragons expansion The Book of Vile Darkness introduced a prestige class called the Cancer Mage, which is just as disgusting as it sounds. Two words: Cancerous Companion. It's actually sentient, can communicate telepathically with the Cancer Mage, and is a friend that's always with you.
    • Also horrifically broken because of the very book it was printed in (one of the diseases gives you Stat Bonuses, and you become immune to the drawbacks).
      • However, its final power is becoming the disease itself and infecting people. This would be all well and good if most worlds didn't have lots of clerics, who can kill the Cancer mage with a 3rd level spell if the CM fails their weakest save. Cancer mages tend not to use that ability outside of settings where the gods have legged it.
  • Dungeons Of Drakkenheim has the Apothecary, whose unique spell-list includes a number of spells that revolve around infecting victims with magical diseases. One of their subclasses is the Pathogenist, representing an apothecary devoted to studying disease, whose subclass features revolve around increasing the efficacy of their ability to infect enemies with disease and to weaponize plague against their foes.
  • Grim Hollow has both the Oath of Pestilence Paladin, a Social Darwinist who uses diseases to winnow the weak from the strong, and the Plague Doctor, a wizard who combines magic, alchemy and medicine to treat allies and to inflict pestilence and sickness upon their enemies.
  • Demnogonis from Mutant Chronicles is Warhammer's Nurgle in different clothes.
  • Pathfinder includes several of these:
    • Apollyon, Horseman of Pestilence, is dedicated to using plagues and sickness as his weapon with which to rid the universe of life.
    • Sepsidaemons embody death by infection and disease, can infect others with a selection of diseases (including bubonic plague, leprosy, and a selection of fictional diseases) at a touch, and are so suffused with plague and disease that any being within thirty feet of them will have any open wounds go septic.
    • Pairaka are the div equivalent to succubi, using their sex appeal to lure mortals into physical congress and then sending them off dying of disease.
    • One of the Alchemist archetypes is the Plaguebringer, from the Advanced Races Guide sourcebook, whose specialty revolves around creating disease weapons and toxic bombs instead of using mutagen. It's most associated with the Ratfolk race, in a Shout-Out to the Skaven above. Even outside of this archetype, alchemists can still build towards this, with powers inspired by other examples from this section (including the ability to turn a tumor into a familiar — and this version can detach itself and act like an animal).
    • Instead of the paladin's Divine Health ability (which renders them immune to disease), Antipaladins gain the "Plaguebringer" ability at 4th level, which merely renders them immune to the effects of diseases but still allows them to carry and spread the disease.
    • Apocalypse dragons' breath weapons are laced with disease and spreads plague to those they affect. They can also cast contagion and plague storm as innate spells once they grow old enough.
  • Vampire: The Requiem features the Morbus bloodline of the Mekhet. Every single one carries a disease in their blood, they can only feed effectively off of diseased mortals, and they have a bloodline-only Discipline that allows them to diagnose, halt, and aid the spread of disease. They're also persona non grata in many domains, as the CDC popping in to inspect that sudden outbreak of the bubonic plague can risk the Masquerade.
    • In a way, the Anvari (who feed off of drug-laden blood and can alter body chemistry to be under the effects of various narcotics with their bloodline Discipline) and the Brothers of Ypres (who need "tainted" blood, but prefer poison, since their founder mutated as a result of feeding on those dying of chemical weapon attacks in World War I) are a Poisonous Person equivalent to the Morbus.
  • In Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, this is the portfolio of the Chaos God Nurgle. He spreads terrible diseases and plagues, and recruits from victims who in their delirium turn to him as a way to end their suffering — he is the god of stagnation and despair, after all, and gains his power from his adherents abandoning all hope and throwing themselves at his mercy. Nurgle's disciples tend to be bloated with rot, but as part of their deity's favor are unable to die from the poxes they carry. Some of his servants even become supernaturally strong or enduring because of their corruption, enabling them to work tirelessly to spread Nurgle's "gifts". Bizarrely enough, "Papa Nurgle" is one of the most jovial and kindly of the Chaos entities, cuddling and caressing his nauseating daemons, and showing his affection for his worshipers by inventing disgusting new diseases for them to enjoy.
    • The Black Crusade supplement The Tome Of Decay explicitly makes Plague Marines immune to all negative effects of diseases, but not to the diseases themselves, so they can catch and spread them.
    • Also in Warhammer, the Skaven (a race of humanoid rats) have a clan called Pestilens, which is dedicated to cataloging, creating and spreading diseases. The similarities have led to fan theories they may be unwittingly worshipping Nurgle but in denial of it.
    • It is rumored that Nurgle loves all life equally. That is, he values a human just as much as a bacterium. Since they outnumber us billions to one, you get the god of plagues.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the wererats are almost a race of these. Unlike other werebeasts, who are born with their abilities, wererats create more of their kind by inflicting a lycanthropic infection on their human and rat relatives. They're generally batshit insane and their goal, besides saving the universe from the conformity-obsessed Weaver by plunging it into screaming chaos, is to "reduce" the human population using plagues. The Plague Lords are the most obsessed with this tack.

    Video Games 
  • Beatrix from Battleborn uses diseases either at range or using her allies as carriers for her contagions.
  • Borderlands:
    • Borderlands: Action Girl Lilith has Elemental Powers as her hat, and although corrosives are mechanically acids, they spread like a virus, the elemental logo is a biohazard sign and the weapon descriptions ("Defiler", "Pestilent", "Infectious") reference disease. A class mod for her that focuses on this element is even called the Plaguebearer.
    • Borderlands 2: Maya has corrosive-focused powers, even having the ability to create a cloud of acid simply by shooting someone. And a special class mod that boosts the damage and chance of corrosive damage, called "Witch".
  • Qada, the Salve-Maker Asterisk holder of Bravely Default, uses this to exterminate his enemies, as well as some allies. All the better for him to profit via selling remedies. Not a pleasant person to say the least.
  • Dr. Thrax, a GLA general from Command & Conquer: Generals. He has a scarred face that he covers with a veil, as well as a morbid sense of humor. He got his degree from a mail-order college.
  • Dark Souls:
    • Gravelord Nito. In addition to his being the lord of the dead, he also is associated with disease and plague. This is how he contributed to the war against the Everlasting Dragons: he created a great plague that swept through the Dragons' forces. In the game itself, all of his attacks inflict the "Toxic" status effect. The "disasters" his Gravelord Servants perpetuate online are likened to a disease as well, being referred to as an "infection" and "spreading" to multiple players rather than just one at a time.
    • Eingyi is a pyromancer from the Great Swamp, exiled for having committed the "heresy" of inventing the Poison Cloud and Toxic Cloud pyromancy spells. His egg-burdened state in the game itself prevents him from using these abilities, but he can teach them to the player if they earn his trust.
  • The Necromancer in Diablo II has a whole skilltree devoted to poisons.
  • Rotund'jere the Necrolyte from Dota 2 was a priest who was purposefully infected with a horrible plague as a punishment for embezzling people dying from it, and cursed with longevity so he could suffer a slow death at the hands of the disease. Instead of dying, he became empowered by it and decided to 'share' his new gift with the world.
  • The Darkspawn of Dragon Age are (among other things) a whole race of Plaguemasters, though your party won't need to worry about being infected. That's because, in the case of the Gray Wardens at least They're tainted with a slower acting version of the plague, so if you don't annihilate yourself taking out the Archdemon, you just turn into an insane ghoul in 20-30 years. Seeing as the world is such a monumental Crapsack World, that even God has turned his back on it, even killing yourself against the Archdemon doesn't do much to improve anything.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Peryite, as the Daedric Prince of Pestilence, has this fall within his sphere. Given the nature of most deities in the series, one could say that he is the very embodiment of pestilence. His idea of a "blessing" toward his followers is to afflict them with disease. Peryite is connected to the creation of the Thrassian Plague, which was unleashed on Tamriel by the Sload ("slug-men" of Thras) in the 1st and wiped out half the continent's population. The ending of his Skyrim quest implies that he is preparing a new plague meant to "cover the world" with his "blessing".
    • Morrowind:
      • Physical God Dagoth Ur has channeled his divine powers into creating and spreading the Corprus Disease. Spread via Blight Storms and through those already infected, it turns its victims into Plague Zombies with a bad case of Body Horror and severe mental degradation. However, for his chosen few, he can mold how the disease changes them, turning them into various forms of Ash creatures or, eventually, into various lesser Dagoth creatures.
      • The Tribunal expansion has Gedna Relvel, an ancient and powerful lich who is spreading the Crimson Plague via infected rats to Mournhold. Naturally, she must be stopped.
  • EverQuest has Bertoxxulous, an actual god of disease, with a Plane of Disease to call home.
  • In For Honor, the Warmonger hero has special feats she can use in combat that spread the Corruption, an alchemical concoction that inflicts a Damage Over Time disease effect to enemy heroes that stand too close together.
  • The Occultist class in Grim Dawn has a spell called "Bloody Pox," which spreads a self-replicating Damage Over Time debuff to their enemies. Its upgrades, "Fevered Rage" and "Black Death" turn those afflicted by it into Technically Living Zombies. According to lore (its flavor text), this spell is why the Inquisition burns occultists alive.
  • Goose Goose Duck: The premise of the Pigeon role is to infect all the other players. They win the game if they can infect every other player in a single round.
  • The necromancer class of Guild Wars 2 can easily become one of these if built properly, but their Plaguemaster tendencies really shine when they use their elite skill, Plague, which turns them into a literal cloud of pestilence that damages, poisons, bleeds, weakens, blinds, and cripples all enemies stupid enough to get too close. For extra malice, the necromancer can choose exactly when they wish to apply most of these conditions.
  • Stukov from Heroes of the Storm plays this straight and inverts it at the same time. His skills utilize the pus and pustules from his body, and he relies on spreading them to his targets' allies. The inversion comes when you realize that his first ability infects and spreads... and yet it's a healing ability.
  • Pestilence from Hexen II.
  • League of Legends:
    • Mordekaiser is an odd example in that his in-game abilities are based on control of metal, but is nevertheless drawn to disease and pollution and his touch causes sickness. It's suggested that his armor mostly protects those around him from the disease he would spread if not contained, although whether it's a prison or a courtesy is unknown.
    • Twitch is another example. His "deadly venom" is apparently derived from sewage and many of his quotes allude to him being a plague rat.
  • Nintendo Wars: Caulder/Stolos, the Big Bad of Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. He used a Synthetic Plague called the Creeper to test the effects of "trauma from dying from infection" on the survivors of a world-ending apocalypse For Science!, and apparently thought it all good fun.
    • The storyline of the first game is eventually revealed to be a match between dueling Plaguemasters. On the one hand is Elizabeth Greene, sole survivor of the last virus outbreak and the game's Big Bad, who in a partial subversion appears entirely human: even her One-Winged Angel form, once defeated, simply spits her out in her original human form. The other? Protagonist Alex Mercer, who unwittingly is The Virus itself. He also appears human, but unlike Greene, his powers manifest through monstrous — and awesome-looking — transformations.
    • [PROTOTYPE 2] features a new battle between powerful Plaguemasters. Only in this case, Alex Mercer was responsible for the creation of the second plaguemaster, a soldier named James Heller who personally pushed his way through the hordes of viral mutants armed with nothing but his rifle and a compulsion to destroy as many creatures as possible before falling. James Heller is not only capable of shapeshifting like Alex, but he can also transmit a specialized strain of the Blacklight virus, whose effects induce massive tumors in the victim before erupting into a swarm of tentacles. Also, later in the game, James Heller gains command over some of the infected abominations that stalk Manhattan.
  • Captain Quirk (yes, a parody of who you think) in Space Quest V: The Next Mutation. He is using his ship to illegally dump toxic waste on "unimportant" planets and ends up infected by the garbage.
  • In Stellaris, the player can become this if they obtain a sample of the Javorian Pox, a disease that destroyed the race of Abusive Precursors known as the Irassians. With it, they can turn entire enemy planets into barren graveyards (provided that their enemies are actually organic).
  • Tears to Tiara 2 has The King of Death. He magically spreads The Black Death throughout the setting's counterpart to Western Europe, including areas controlled by his own side. He also turns all wheat into poisonous black wheat.
  • Touhou Project:
    • Kurodani Yamame, the local spider girl. Actually a fairly nice youkai, as she tries not to actively use her powers unless she's angry— but Symposium of Post-Mysticism suggests that she unwittingly leaks plague, and that the heroines of Subterranean Animism both came home with fevers.
    • Medicine Melancholy is truer to this trope, given that she loves to patter on about the effects of her poisons.
  • The Plaguebearer from Town of Salem can choose to infect a player with the plague each night. Should all opposing players become infected, the Plaguebearer will turn into the Nigh Invulnerable Pestilence, Horseman of the Apocalypse.
  • Adam from Trauma Center (Atlus) is not only the Plaguemaster, having created GUILT from his own cells, but has also kept himself alive for over a hundred years in his quest to "return death" to the world. It's also suggested that the seeds of GUILT are found in all human DNA, so theoretically anyone could be another Adam.
  • TRON:
    • Thorne in TRON 2.0. Alan Bradley does not bluff about the nasty consequences of going into cyberspace without the proper precautions in place... Thorne ends up as this thing that infects other Programs and overruns Encom's servers. He ends up succumbing to the effects of it and an ass-kicking by the Infiltration Countermeasure Kernel
    • Spiritual Successor Abraxas in TRON: Evolution has much the same MO, but a much more tragic and horrific backstory.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines features a doomsday cult calling themselves the Ninth Circle who operate like this. Since vampires in this system become permanent disease carriers if they feed from anyone with a blood-borne illness, they've decided to spread disease in an attempt to hasten Gehenna.
  • Warcraft:
    • The Lich King spends Warcraft III spreading a plague of undeath across Lordaeron. During World of Warcraft, the Forsaken's Royal Apothecary Society spends its time brewing horrifying diseases and testing them on prisoners in an attempt to create a toxin capable of wiping everything that isn't free-willed undead from Azeroth. Meanwhile, Noth the Plaguebringer is Exactly What It Says on the Tinnote .
    • In the Warcraft III map-game Defense of the Ancients, the Venomancer is a creature that mastered the use of poisons.
    • Warlocks and Death Knights each have a talent tree focused on this kind of stuff (the Warlock one doesn't actually use diseases but corrupting magical effects, but with talents with names like "pandemic" and "contagion", it's close enough).
    • During the infamous "Corrupted Blood Incident"note , many players intentionally went out of their way to spread the titular "Corrupted Blood" to as many other players as possible, resulting in thousands of in-game deaths. An intentional version of the bug was later released to tease the arrival of the aforementioned Lich King in the form of a zombie plague, with many players likewise intentionally spreading it as much as they could.
  • Warlords Battlecry III has a whole bunch of these as an entire playable faction, the Plaguelords. Practically all of their units can infect enemies with their basic attacks, and their armies are composed of slimy Blob Monsters, rotting undead troops and not-so-dead priests, and mutated beasts like eyeballs and hydras.
  • Plague Maidens in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are Vengeful Ghosts with the ability to summon clouds of diseased insects and rats to attack the living. They're inspired by a similar creature from Polish folklore.


    Web Original 
  • The Plague Doctor from The Fear Mythos spreads disease wherever he goes. To a lesser extent, there are also a number of seemingly normal medical doctors who serve him, and intentionally spread disease to the people they're supposedly trying to save.
  • Avatars that serve the entity known as the Corruption in the universe of The Magnus Archives have the possibility of becoming this; most notably the characters of John Amherst and Jane Prentiss, whose plagues consist of a variety of vicious, supernatural illnesses and several thousand flesh-eating worms, respectively.
  • SCP Foundation
    • SCP-353 ("Vector") is a woman that can collect, modify, and distribute diseases, up to and including the infamous 1918 strain of influenza. She temporarily experiences symptoms of the diseases as she's modifying them, but this doesn't dissuade her from doing it.
    • SCP-1249 ("Pestilence") releases a liquid that contains infectious pathogens such as smallpox, leprosy, the bubonic plague and the Ebola virus. Anyone contacting the liquid can become infected with one or more of these diseases.

    Western Animation 
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers villain Verminous Skumm, a mutant anthropomorphic rat who's made it his mission in life to spread disease and hate in an effort to Kill All Humans.
  • "The Common Cold" from Codename: Kids Next Door is an eternally ill villain who wishes to spread his cold to everyone else in the world. He uses a machine to fire mucus from his nose at his enemies
  • From Courage the Cowardly Dog, Conway The Contaminationist. He believes surrounding oneself in filth and grime is actually beneficial to the health, which may or may not be true as a jar of putrid sludge revives him like smelling salt and he claims to be 193 years old, but Eustace and Muriel become emaciated and weak when their lives become disgusting.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of Family Guy where Peter and Joe are playing increasingly extreme pranks on Quagmire (a Halloween tradition), and one "prank" includes infecting him with hepatitis C, only for him to reveal he already has it. Same thing with meningitis and gonorrhea (in the latter case he's patient zero). Eventually, they run out of known diseases, and Peter resorts to flying to Africa, catching a mosquito carrying a virus that hasn't been named yet, and having it bite Quagmire. This one works.
  • D'Compose, an Inhumanoids villain, is capable of mutating normal animals and people into screeching, monstrous undead abominations. Fortunately, sunlight changes them back to normal.
  • At the begining of The Simpsons episode where Marge goes to jail, Homer orders a juice machine, and at the factory in Osaka, Japan, a Workaholic factory worker, who's sick with the flu, carelessly sneezes into several boxes, and causes an outbreak of Osaka flu in Springfield.
  • Skeleton Warriors has its main antagonist, Baron Dark, who is patient zero for a magical plague he spreads that turns people and animals into the titular skeleton warriors, with several of the episodes seeing him trying to make the process more potent. This is downplayed a little in that only Baron Dark can infect people with his evil plague, at least until he reunites the Lightstar Crystal and is able to use it for mass skeletonization.
  • Dr. James Bent a.k.a. Overlord, the main villain of Spiral Zone. He tries to Take Over the World by creating a Synthetic Plague that turns people into Mind Controlled, zombie-like "Zoners" with red patches on their faces.
  • Decepticon chemist Oil Slick of Transformers: Animated. He wears a domed helmet to protect himself from his own toxins he unleashes during battle and does not really care if his comrades are infected in his wake.

    Real Life 
  • The Siege on Caffa is the most literal historical case of this trope. In 1345, following a failed siege in 1343, the Golden Horde laid siege on Caffa, a harbor city in Crimea that today is known as Feodosia. The reason Caffa was so resilient was because it was one of the greatest merchant centers of its time and supplies were easily brought in from the seaside. The Golden Horde didn't have the means to attack by sea, and to make matters worse the army contracted the Black Death that had been roaming around Asia for some time by then. As one soldier after another fell, the khan, Jani Beg, in a drastic take on "when life gives you lemons", had the catapults brought out and the disease-riddled corpses flung over the city walls. Which would be bad enough, but obviously the people in Caffa wanted to live, so they fled... by boat... along the major trade routes... to the nearest major harbor cities. And this is how the Black Death reached Europe, killing millions in the years to come.note 
  • Part of the reason that uncontacted peoplesnote  like the people of North Sentinel Island are left alone is that they haven't built up the immunity to illnesses that the rest of the world has. One person carrying a flu pathogen that they hadn't even noticed could wipe out a tribe of 100 people that had happily been living on its own for thousands of years. A lot of Native Americans died in the first few years of contact due to disease being transferred from European settlers to them, and then through their trade network. At first this happened by accident, but when the Europeans caught on, their diseases became a backup weapon to other forms of violence. The most infamous are the smallpox-riddled blankets and handkerchiefs gifted by the settlers to the natives, although only one case, that of the Siege of Fort Pitt, is certain to have occured (it was a total failure though with no one dying as a result).
  • Then there's the various tales of people with AIDS knowingly infecting unwitting victims for one reason or another. The most famous would probably be flight attendant Gaetan "Patient Zero" Dugas, though later evidence suggests that in his case at least, this is an exaggeration.
    • There's been at least one case of a prisoner murdering a guard by jabbing him with a syringe filled with his own HIV-infected blood.
    • Tragically (or horrifically), raping victims to deliberately spread AIDS is a tactic used commonly by AIDS-infected militia members in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Any Bio-terrorist qualifies.
  • Some people throughout history have believed that sex with a virgin can cure disease (and no, it doesn't have to be consensual to achieve the supposed effect). Needless to say, this does not work, and often ends with the (now former) virgin getting sick too. Some recent African examples of the myth specifically involve HIV/AIDS (while a Zimbabwean variant calls for an albino instead of a virgin, predictably leading to rape and subsequent HIV infection of Zimbabweans with albinism).
  • It was once believed that Komodo dragons hunted by biting prey to infect them with deadly bacteria living in their mouths, then waiting for the prey to be incapacitated before eating them, but this is no longer believed to be the case.


Video Example(s):


Gravelord Nito

Gravelord Nito's contribution to the war against the Everlasting Dragons.

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