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Supernatural Repellent

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In fiction, there are a lot of things that attract the supernatural: a cursed object, a summoning, owning a Soul Jar or some Sealed Evil in a Can, the list is practically endless. So, naturally, if there are so many ways to attract to the supernatural, there has to be at least a few ways to repel the supernatural.

Enter the supernatural repellent. In fiction, there are a number of ways to send supernatural spirits sprinting away, from common household items, like salt, to actual houses or other places where evil can not follow you. There are many examples, varying a good deal according to local folklore, but in modern media the most common (in no particular order) are sunlight, iron, salt, holy ground, running water, silver, and garlic. Some of these have their own specific trope - see below.


This is a Sub-Trope of Achilles' Heel.

Super-Trope to:

If the weakness is particularly mundane, it can overlap with Weaksauce Weakness.

Compare Banishing Ritual, Kryptonite Factor (weaknesses for people with superpowers), Protective Charm, and Encounter Repellent. Contrast Summoning Artifact, Magic Is a Monster Magnet, Weirdness Magnet and Encounter Bait.



Please only list examples here that don't have their own subtrope, or fit multiple tropes.

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    Comic Books 
  • X-Factor (2006): At one point Layla Miller starts pouring salt over the doors and windows of X-Factor's office, which no-one questions because it's Layla. She later clarifies it's to ward off the demonic spirits that are about to attack them, to get at Rahne. It doesn't work on Feral's ghost, because as Layla explains, it wards off threats, and Feral's just a nuisance.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Hocus Pocus has this in both the object and the place variety. Apparently, witches can not cross a ring of salt, nor can they set foot on a graveyard. They can fly over the graveyard, though.
  • In The Hollow, the Headless Horseman cannot cross the old covered bridge, so victims can escape him by running across it. Later it is discovered that the Horseman bursts into flame if he is forced on to the bridge.

  • In The Dresden Files, a circle can keep out the bad, as well as the mundane. This becomes a plot point in Fool Moon, where a specialized three-circle is used to repel both the bad and the mundane, as well as trap the creature inside.
  • Parodied in the Discworld novels, especially in Carpe Jugulum, where much mirth is raised by recounting, in a Discworld context, all the things which Earth legends say are fatal to vampires. This ranges from the normal — garlic, and whatnot — to the more unorthodox — lemons, poppyseed, and carrots.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Supernatural:
    • A ring of salt will protect you against ghosts. Another way to get rid of ghosts in the Supernatural-verse is iron, although it's also used to just kill or weaken them normally.
    • Demons can not cross a line of salt. They can also be trapped inside a pentagram, which can be used the other way around too: after Bobby covered the panic room in anti-demonic sigils, Ruby was unable to enter it.
    • Angels can be warded off with Enochian sigils, and outright banished temporarily with a sigil written in blood.
    • Fairies have to count every grain of salt if it is spilled in front of them.
  • In a "Wonder Gran" sketch on The Benny Hill Show, Dracula is repelled by a picture of Nicholas Parsons, who was a show regular. Nicholas Parsons is the sort of clean-living, squeaky-clean TV and radio personality who a young damsel could trust with their virginity, her wealth, or her aging parents, knowing they're in safe hands. Comedians make much mirth from the sort of personality this implies — either oleaginously greasy, or else utterly boring. But he is regarded as a National Living Treasure and by all accounts is a totally decent and likeable guy. Dracula would be repelled.
  • Parodied in a music video sketch from La Télé des Inconnus, "Rap-tout", by French comedic trio Les Inconnus. Here, they portray vampires, but as stand-in for the Intimidating Revenue Service. At one point, they try threatening a sharp-dressed man, but they are kept at bay by a Principality of Monaco passport. The fact that said passport sports a cross isn't the important thing; more to the point, Monaco citizens don't pay taxes.

    Myths & Religion 
  • As it's been mentioned before, a lot of superstitions mention that salt is a very good way to get rid of demons.
  • Other repellents for the supernatural include garlic and crosses for vampires.
  • In Shinto, plates of salt placed by the door are said to repel evil spirits.
  • Wiccans believe that salt cleanses an area of negative/evil energy, and it's not uncommon to see a plate of salt on the altar.
  • Inverted by the Aztec goddess of fertility, Huixtocihuatl, who resides over salt and salt water.
  • In The Bible, iron was good for keeping fairies from stealing your baby and replacing it with a changeling. Coincidentally enough, it also says the Bible itself repels fairies just as well as iron.
  • European wolfsbane (Arnica montana) got its name from the belief that it could repel werewolves, or its extract could immunize a victim against werewolf bites, which would infect them into becoming a werewolf. Its comparative rarity helped maintain its curative legend.

  • In Alice Isn't Dead, Sylvia says that the smell of heather oil repels the Thistle Man, so when The Narrator goes to confront him she slathers herself in it and shoves some whole heather branches into his mouth, which causes him to begin choking and turning purple.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Mirrors, garlic and holy symbols (and other holy relics) repel vampires.
    • Clerics can "turn" the undead, which causes them to retreat from the cleric.
    • The 1st Edition Advanced D&D supplement Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia mentions that objects covered in dung are reputedly unable to be touched by the undead.
    • 1st Edition Advanced D&D supplement Oriental Adventures. Magic items called "Noisome Spirit Chasers" are firecrackers that, when detonated, cause nearby spirits to leave the area.
  • In Age of Aquarius, radiation repels and hurts spirits. Those spirits who cannot simply leave the presence of the radiation isotopes (like earth spirits, bound to their land,) were subjected to a Fate Worse than Death.

  • In the West End/Broadway version of Dracula, Van Helsing uses The Host as this.

    Video Games 
  • Scribblenauts, humorously enough, has the aptly titled "Zombie Repellent". Guess what it does.
  • Yaobikuni from Onmyōji is walking Supernatural Repellent to Hōōka. Being the embodiment of the phoenix fire, the latter is repelled by the former's still living despite her soul's having gone cold because her flames of life have been extinguished long, long ago.
  • Pokémon:
    • The aptly named "Repel" items (Repel, Super Repel, Max Repel, in ascending order of duration) in the series blocks Random Encounters with any wild Pokémon of lower level than the first one in the Player Party. It's drawn as a spray-can like bug repellent.
    • The Cleanse Tag is a held item introduced in Generation II. Equipped to the first Pokémon in the party, it reduces the rate of random encounters with lower-level wild Pokémon.
    • Inverted with the Generation II move Sweet Scent, which causes an instant random encounter if used outside of battle in a tile where wild Pokémon can appear (even overriding use of a Repel or Cleanse Tag).

    Web Animation 


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