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The Dark Side

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"You don't know the POWER of the Dark Side!"

The Evil Counterpart, corrupted version, or evil side of a morally good Sentient Cosmic Force... and a considerable number of non-sentient, non-cosmic forces as well. Evil is addictive; the more of its power you rely on, the more evil you become. The Dark Side is when the temptation to fall has an added oomph. It's more than just the cumulative result of one's actions; there's an active corrupting force that speeds things along. This is often the Phlebotinum-powered justification of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, which results in the Fallen forgetting why they fell in the first place. The Dark Side often promises pleasure with power and respect. Sometimes, the Dark Side even offers itself as the efficacious means to do good, leading to the hero falling into a He Who Fights Monsters situation. Once it gets you, there's an odd tendency to accessorize accordingly.

Like More than Mind Control, it accelerates the more suppressed urges and wrong choices it has to work with.

May be fueled by an Artifact of Doom. May grant Black Magic and work through The Dark Arts. May result in The Heartless. Once it starts to taste good there's no turning back.

The trope is named after the dark side of the Force from Star Wars.

It's a component of Psychoactive Powers; protective instinct is harder to tap on demand than righteous fury, but anger tends to feed on itself, resulting in Power Incontinence.

Of course, there are often also social, mental, moral, and sometimes physical costs that no amount of subterfuge can fully hide but by the time these aspects appear, it's too late.

Contrary to what the Well-Intentioned Extremist and Anti-Hero might say, you cannot "fight the Dark Side with the Dark Side"Heroic Willpower notwithstanding, the consequences will inevitably lead to the user's Pyrrhic Victory.

Compare With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. Often leads to displays of Drunk on the Dark Side and shouts of "Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!" Also compare Evil Is Not a Toy, where the danger is not moral, but physical. The Dark Side tends to be, but is not always, associated with Discipline in Harmony Versus Discipline for its dominating aspects. Contrast Dark Is Not Evil. The Dark Side comes with its own built-in Aesop about the ends not justifying the means. See also The Dark Side Will Make You Forget, a scenario where a once well-meaning good guy uses the dark powers for good ends, and over time becomes a villain in the process.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Many characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! and GX fall into some Dark Side's trap, usually by trying to use an Artifact of Doom or something Powered by a Forsaken Child (i.e. Marik, Dartz, Akunadin, Saiou, Judai), sometimes with good intentions (Yami Yugi used the Seal of Orichalcos partly to save his Dark Magician Girl, Fubuki used his Superpowered Evil Side to try to save Ryo). They start confident they'll be able to control what they unleash, but inevitably, the power's/object's inherent darkness is controlling them.
    • Light can function the same way. A malignant celestial radiance known as the Light of Destruction tried to destroy the world via brainwashing cult in Season 2. Even after its defeat, it continued to be referenced thereafter as one of the most dangerous forces in existence.
  • Used straight and subverted in Bleach: gaining Hollow powers raises people's upper power (it is stated that shinigami have a maximum power they can attain) and allows them great spiritual growth. But it also risks giving into your Superpowered Evil Side for a world-class Freak Out. The Visored thoroughly beat their dark sides into submission in order to access the power safely, and teach others in their dilemma how to do the same; however, not all people who gain Hollow powers want to suppress The Dark Side.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has Negi learning Black Magic so that he'll be able to protect his students, and it's implied that there's a real risk of the power taking control.
    • It's also used more humorously, as Evangeline will attempt to "turn Negi to the dark side'' whenever the opportunity presents itself. It hasn't worked yet.
      • She touches this with almost everybody she comes into contact with, and has noticeably affected some of them (including Negi) — the catch is that this setting weighs heavily on the side of Dark Is Not Evil. Her version is more aesthetic choice and antisociality with Dark Side corruptive qualities than what the (other?) villains in the series possess.
  • The Land of Shura arc of Fist of the North Star focused on Kenshiro finding and taking down the masters of Hokuto Ryuken, which was in essence the Evil Counterpart of Hokuto Shinken (a style which is already damn horrifying when used to kill), whose practitioners used Matouki (a more evil version of Touki) for their fighting techniques, which ended up corrupting them.

    Comic Books 
  • This trope — well, its subtrope Clothes Make the Maniac, anyway — was, oddly enough, not actually present in the original Black Costume Spider-Man story, but appears in all adaptations thereof.
    • Does appear, however, in an issue of What If...? in which the symbiote latches on to the Punisher after Spider-Man rids himself of it, and attempts to corrupt the Punisher into killing Spider-Man. Subverted, however, in that the Punisher — who is already a pretty dark character anyway — is having none of it, manages to gain control of the symbiote, and informs it that if it ever tries to make him hurt an innocent again, he'll kill them both.
  • In Supergirl story Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Supergirl's school's Principal—who is Mr. Mxyzptlk in disguise—encourages Belinda—who is pretty much an evil or at the very least jerkass counterpart of Supergirl—to succumb to her petty, mad and mean-spirited side.
    Principal Pickelmeyer: Why should you change for an ungrateful world? Why should you pretend to be something you are not? Embrace your true self. Embrace your anger and spite and jealousy! Focus your emotions, and you can make the world change for you.
  • In Marvel's World War Hulk: X-Men, Cain Marko succumbs to the lure of being an unstoppable force once again, and his own innate desire for destruction, which leads to his return as The Juggernaut of old by fully embracing the power's evil nature.
  • In Fear Itself, Colossus, in a desperate bid to save the X-Men from a jacked-up Juggernaut, absorbed the Cyttorak crystal into his own body, becoming the new Juggernaut. He is now struggling to hold on to his humanity and prevent Cyttorak from completely possessing him. Judging from some previews of Avengers vs. X-Men it's going to be a losing battle... All of this turns out to have been his own sister Magick's scheme to make him realize that she isn't his innocent little sister anymore. By allowing him to be Juggernaut for a while (she could have freed him at any time with her own powers), she made Colossus experience firsthand how the Dark Side changes people.
  • The Shun Leep martial arts style from Gold Digger is so badass it has its own dark side for those who don't have the self control to master the higher techniques. It's not even a magic-related style! It just makes fighting so euphoric, and actively addictive, you stop caring about little things like whether your opponent lives.
  • While his name would not be enough reason to qualify as this trope, Darkseid was certainly one of many beings to successfully tempt Mary Marvel with powers that were sure to corrupt her.
  • From Green Lantern, we have several examples.
    • Parallax, the living embodiment of fear, who corrupted Hal Jordan into a maniac, and tried to do the same to Kyle Rayner.
    • Sinestro, who was corrupted—not by Parallax, but by trying to bring order to his home planet by creating a tyrannical rule. He later allied himself with Parallax to try bringing order to the entire universe.
    • The Red Lantern Corps, whose rings are powered by the wielder's own rage.
    • The Star Sapphires are powered by love, with much the same addictive effects.
    • The Orange Lanterns whose powers are derived from greed, and the Black Lanterns the "darkest" of the Lantern Corps in general, being dedicated to death and darkness, with all its members being undead.
      • Subverted and averted with the Orange and Black Lanterns respectively. The Orange Lanterns are nothing but energy constructs that take the form of Agent Orange's many victims. Then again, all of them were beings driven by greed in the first place, which is what drew Agent Orange to them, so it still sort of fits. Agent Orange himself is a prisoner of his own power, hopelessly addicted to it and unwilling to ever let go of the Orange Lantern Battery which contains Ophidian the Greed Entity despite the unending hunger it inflicts upon him. The Black Lanterns are nothing but corpses animated by the rings themselves which are all mere extensions of Necron's will. There's no trace of the people that used to be those bodies.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1992), the Dark World feeds on the more unpleasant emotions, threatening to turn Link into a beast a few times. The hotheaded Roam is even more susceptible.
  • The Sentry is a Superman Substitute, with all the unbelievable power it implies. Unfortunately, this also brought out a destructive part of himself known as The Void, that caused an evil act for every good one the Sentry did. And sometimes it manifests as a separate entity.

  • Star Wars is the Trope Namer, with the Dark Side being an aspect of the Force that affords prodigious and unnatural power. In the films, its most prominent user is Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, followed closely by Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious. The common theme to the Dark Side is temptation; it's a quick path to power, it feeds on and enhances negativity, and it's incredibly addictive — and gets more addictive the more you use it. Prolonged use also has physical consequences (e.g. Palpatine's disfiguration in Revenge of the Sith). For most users, once you've gone to the Dark Side, you can't come back — Anakin's redemption is long, meandering, unprecedented, and fatal. The key is to resist the temptation in the first place, as Luke did. The Star Wars Expanded Universe introduces many more Dark Side users and explores the phenomenon in more depth.
  • The Dark Dimension in Doctor Strange (2016), ruled by Dormammu. Dormammu is very much The Corrupter, offering eternal life to his followers who drink on this dimension's power (what they often forget is that it's an eternal life of suffering). The Ancient One managed to use said dimension's power to stay young and live hundreds of years without succumbing to Dormammu's will, while Kaecilius and his followers became servants of Dormammu, as shown by the cracked skin around their eyes.

  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • Anyone who gets near (much less uses) the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings. Gollum is the example of how far things can go. Many of them start out with good or at least neutral intentions—Isildur wanted an heirloom to commemorate his hard-won victory over Sauron, Gandalf and Galadriel are tempted to use it to free Middle-Earth from Sauron and Boromir actually tries to steal it to protect his homeland, Sam dreams of creating a great and beautiful garden—but unless they give the thing up relatively early (an extraordinary feat of willpower only two characters ever willingly accomplish) it will turn them into another Dark Lord or get them killed.
    • In The Silmarillion Sauron started out with good and intelligent intentions, but once he had begun supporting Morgoth as a means to an end, he was slowly corrupted until he became the utterly inhuman force of evil seen in The Lord of the Rings. History then repeats itself with Saruman.
    • Even Morgoth originally just wanted to be more like Daddy and create some stuff all on his own. When he discovered that he couldn't, he threw a bit of a hissy fit and tried to knock over all of Daddy's toys.
  • Dark Magic in The Dresden Files works like this. See, magic follows your intent and beliefs. So in order to break the Seven Laws of Magic, you have to truly believe that the things forbidden by the laws (Mind Control, murder by magic, Eldritch Abomination summoning, and so forth) are the right thing to do. Because of this, all Warlocks, no matter how good their original intentions, will eventually end up Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. The Council's reaction is classic Shoot the Dog—the penalty for breaking the laws is death the instant the Wardens catch you, unless another wizard vouches for you. In that case, you're on a one-strike-you're-out probation, where any screw-up will mean the deaths of both you and the wizard who vouched for you. Basically, the council is answering "yes" to the question 'knowing what was to come, would you kill Hitler as a child?'
    • The Denarians are another good example of this. They're humans possessed by fallen angels (in the Christian sense), who got that way because they gave in to said fallen angel's temptations. If the host is evil and strong-willed enough, they get neat shapeshifting powers and immortality, along with the Fallen as a partner. If not, then they're trapped in their own minds as the Fallen takes over.
      • Harry experiences this personally when he gets the shadow of the fallen angel Lasciel in his head. She offers him help remembering things, blocking out pain, and translating other languages, which saves his rear multiple times. She also has solutions to any problem he faces—all of which, by strange coincidence, involve Harry becoming a full Denarian. Harry is well aware of this and even quotes Gandalf at her when he refuses.
    • The only member of the White Council that is allowed to violate the Seven Laws is the Blackstaff. The position is named for the black wizard's staff (implied to be a bloodthirsty Living Weapon) that converts the mental corruption into painful-but-workable physical corruption of the flesh, as well as nightmares and a heck of a lot of guilt issues.
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Hagrid explicitly refers to the Dark Side when explaining to Harry why his mom and dad refused to join Voldemort.
  • In The Tennis Shoes Adventure Series, there's a demonic sword, created by an evil king from The Book of Mormon. It would slowly work its way into someone's mind, convincing them they could use it to become powerful. Through the use of Time Travel, Todd Finlay got a hold of it and turned to The Dark Side. Later on, Joshua Hawkins, son of The Hero, gets seduced by it as well.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • The so-called True Power, which is drawn directly from the Dark One, is highly addictive. Only the very upper echelon of the Dark One's flunkies are allowed to use it, and only one of them does so on a more than completely desperate basis, as they're all afraid of the side effect: going utterly around the bend (the one who does use it is already nuts and a major nihilist to boot—he doesn't care about the consequences).
    • Saidin, the source of power for male magic users, is also considered to be this in-universe, but that's because the Dark One managed to layer corruption over it, causing anyone who uses it for long to go completely Ax-Crazy and then die a horrible death that's never seen, but described as being essentially rotting while you're still alive. Late in the series, Rand maanges to fix it.
  • In the Drizzt novels by R.A. Salvatore, the Crystal Shard is frequently presented as being made of the Dark Side. So too the sentient sword Khazid'Hea. The Crystal Shard is an interesting and somewhat tragic case, since the true source of its corrupting influence isn't from the evil beings that created it (whom it consumed), but from the lingering sorrow and torment of a ruler who tried and failed to protect his kingdom from invaders with the Shard's power.
  • In Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy universe, practicing Black Magic for any amount of time will result in this.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar Universe there are hints that the ancient Big Bad Ma'ar may have started out this way.
  • In A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned, elemental Darkness is inextricably entangled with each of the four elemental magics, and mages except for the orahs, who "live aligned with light alone" constantly have to fight its pull. Additionally, it is possible under certain extreme circumstances to become a hoshek, a mage aligned with pure darkness. This grants almost unlimited power, at the cost of becoming completely psychotic and utterly evil. The last hoshek to be created destroyed half of Caederan before finally being defeated.
  • Free Magic in The Old Kingdom is like this. This power is the remains of the primordial magics that were not included in the creation of the Charter, and are therefore inimical to life as we know it. Free Magic isn't evil, exactly, but it's an extremely destructive, chaotic, and dangerous power, being the source of power for numerous hostile entities (including The Undead) and prone to causing side-effects like madness and megalomania in those mortals who try to harness it. It's more of an Order vs. Chaos situation and even Charter magic can be dangerous for the untrained.
  • The Scholomance: Whereas Mana is created from personal effort, malia is magical power sucked out of something's Life Energy. A tiny hit from plants or insects is relatively harmless, but the psychic taint from draining "anything complicated enough to have feelings about it" almost inevitably causes the wizard to go power-mad, escalate to more and bigger victims, and eventually rot from the inside out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, Lyman Taggart wanted to use the supercomputer Overmind to end the ongoing war being proliferated by the Biomechs, but was seduced by the seeming perfection of machines, inevitably becoming the infamous Lord Dread and the very thing he was fighting against. His occasional doubts are dissuaded by Overmind, who brainwashes him with the propaganda of their cause.
  • The Wraith Enzyme in Stargate Atlantis, though Ford has yet to venture into full-on Darth Vader territory.
    • And probably never will, because his character has seemingly been forgotten by characters and writers alike.
      • While they Never Found the Body, the implication that Ford died in his last appearance was fairly obvious. They left just enough of an opening for him to be brought back if the writers decided to do so, but they never did.
  • Willow in season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when she abandons all restraint from using magic, even Black Magic.
    • Subverted in that you have to go through the Dark Side, survive (not explode) and come out the other end to be on the real Light Side.
    • Also, in season 3, Angel warns Faith "You don't know the price of evil". Her response: "I hope evil takes MasterCard".
    • Angel's conversions to Angelus don't count as they are instant and involuntary. But he goes dark in season 2, in a tantrum over not being able to save Darla. For example, he lets a room full of lawyers get eaten by vampires.
    • The point behind Angel and the gang being recruited to run LA branch of Wolfram and Hart in Season 5 is basically this troope, even if they insist that they did so to do good. It is strongly implied (and occasionally stated more or less explicitly by several characters) that the Senior Partners want Angel (and his friends) to willingly choose the evil side for "good" reasons.
    • Spoofed in Season 6 when Spike encourages Buffy to walk with him on the Dark Side — which consists of Spike playing poker for kittens while Buffy gets drunk and makes snarky comments. Things become more serious later on in the season when Spike wrongly assumes (or convinces himself) that Buffy's depression and desire for rough sex means she wants to abandon her life and join him on the Dark Side. His failure to understand the complexity of her emotions has serious consequences for both of them.
  • Sam spends about three seasons of Supernatural trying to avoid turning to the Dark Side, even making Dean promise to kill him if he ever goes evil. The fourth season, however, finds him drinking demon blood to fuel his demon-provided powers so he can kill Lilith and prevent the Apocalypse after she kills Dean. By the end of the season, thinking he's The Only One who can do it, Sam leaves his brother to go get even more power and kills Lilith, inadvertently releasing Lucifer and starting the Apocalypse.
  • The darker aspect of Delvian mental powers in Farscape, especially in the episodes "That Old Black Magic" and "Rhapsody In Blue". All in all, Delvian priests have a worrying tendency to turn to the Dark Side, for as they train for purity and gain more control over their abilities, they become more vulnerable to darker impulses; if they succumb to these, they will very quickly go insane.
  • In Season 5 of The Flash (2014), Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash reveals he has created an alternate Speed-Force through the utilization of negative tachions, and more importantly, negative emotions. By tapping into their lowest depths of anger, hate and resentment, the users are able to traverse time and space without the risk of being noticed. On top of that, this power can create a tunnel immune to any timeline changes. Barry's daughter, Nora West-Allen/XS, falls victim to Thawne's deceitful whisperings, connects to the Negative Speed-Force, becomes Drunk on the Dark Side and performs a temporary Face–Heel Turn. Even when she finally revokes it, she is forced to use it once again when threatend with temporal erasure. However, Nora is too afraid of her negative emotions to do that again, and in the end she lets herself be disintegrated.
  • The Shadows in Babylon 5 start their work by tempting and corrupting powerful people. Their Arc Words are "What do you want?" When their Mouth of Sauron asks this of the Centauri ambassador Londo, Londo casually answers that killing every Narn in Centauri territory would be a good start. After they actually do it and Londo gets the credit, he finds himself getting pulled deeper and deeper into questionable moral territory, as he now owes quite a bit to some very powerful creditors who aren't shy about collecting.
  • The Secret Society in House of Anubis soon bring in the newest teacher into their ranks (leading to his Face–Heel Turn).
    • Season 3 has, what the heroes call, Team Evil. They eventually also start corrupting people into their team, by locking them into a sarcophagus and stealing their soul for the god Ammit to devour. They are even worse when you discover they took the soul of one of the Sibuna Members themselves. While this could be considered mind control, the members who had their soul lost openly admit that power feels good and are all glad that they lost their conscience, while the rest of them feel that way anyways.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Averted in Magic: The Gathering, were the many colors of mana are neutral, even Black. There are spells and groups like the phyrexians that corrupt people's personalities, but magic by itself isn't a corrupter.
  • New World of Darkness is filled with powers that slowly corrupt and tear into those who call upon them. In many cases, simply being supernatural leads one into temptation — the average Humanity of an elder vampire is around four, which is about the point at which even murder doesn't look like that much of a big deal anymore.
    • Sometimes it is more explicit, however: Mage: The Awakening has Abyssal powers offering gifts to mages who serve them, while Promethean: The Created has the eroding force of Flux and the Refinement of Flux, Centimani.
    • The Gangrel clan from Vampire: The Requiem get their own special variant. Any vampire can "ride the wave" and give into their Beast, but Gangrel can enter "the Red Surrender," a state where the Beast takes over and they become much more powerful. The downside? It's addictive.
      • You can break the addiction though through sheer willpower, and end up becoming a Genius Bruiser; you become more connected to your humanity by telling the Beast where to stick it, and get bonuses to mental stats (called the Red Denial). The downside? It feels about as pleasant as hearing nails on a chalkboard, and chewing tinfoil at the same time. Denying the beast feels awful.
    • Princess: The Hopeful has the All-Consuming Darkness, a Sentient Cosmic Force composed of vice, corruption, and despair. It infects places where acts of evil were committed, impeding good deeds and strengthening evil. Worse, suffer emotional shock in one of these Tainted Places (or just spend too long in one), and it can infect you. As a Darkened, vices become more emotionally rewarding and virtues less, you gain a new superpower (complete with nasty drawback) every time you sin badly enough to lose Integrity, and you can learn a wide assortment of Black Magic, most of which causes Breaking Points to learn or use.
  • The Old World of Darkness, of which the above is the Spiritual Successor, is full of Dark Forces that corrupt their users.
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has the Wyrm, the spiritual embodiment of entropy, death, and necessary destruction. Or rather, that's what it used to be, before it went batshit insane and became an Omnicidal Maniac. Nowadays it's a force of subtle corruption and despair, an army of not-at-all-subtle mutants and sadistic monsters, and a spiritual energy fed and strengthened by every atrocity and act of abuse in the world. Its spirits animate countless tainted objects and places all over the Earth. Every emotion of hate, and every act of destruction and abuse a person commits, slightly erodes their soul and makes them more open to the Urge Wyrms, who push them further towards their master. Werewolves who ally with the Wyrm (willingly or not) become sadistic, insane, mutated, fucked-up Black Spiral Dancers.
    • Mage: The Ascension has the various evil forces served by the Nephandi, some of which appear to come from the Wyrm and others of which seem to be Eldritch Abominations from the far edges of the Solar System. Serving them is not healthy for your sanity.
    • The Elohim in Demon: The Fallen have the Torment: the mark of their estrangement from God and/or Grace. Due to the nature of the setting, it's much easier to gain Torment than to absolve oneself from it. And the more Torment you have, the more likely you are (it's in the gameplay mechanics!) to screw up some benevolent deed and turn it into a crime, earning more Torment in turn...
    • And then there's Wraith: The Oblivion and its follow-up, Orpheus, where the force endangering wraiths and ghosts is the center of entropy itself, manifesting in every one of them as a dark personality called the Shadow that constantly urges them to embrace Oblivion. However, the associated dark energy, Angst (or Spite in Orpheus) can also be used to fuel potent powers. These can allow the wraith to survive and fight another day, but at the cost of feeding their Shadow and destroying their soul.
  • Somewhat predictably for the settings, Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 take this trope and hurl it screaming over the edge in the form of Chaos. The result? There's no Light Side—only a sort of Gray Side, and the actual Dark Side is sentient. A sentient, extremely intelligent, masterfully manipulative, and very powerful Dark Side that occasionally takes matters into its own hands when mortal pawns aren't getting the job done. However, the greatest defense everybody has against Chaos is itself, since it or its major manifestations will always turn on itself(/each other).
    • Focusing on Warhammer 40,000 specifically; Happens quite a bit to radical Inquisitors, who feel that using demonic powers or weapons to fight Chaos is a good idea, and don't quite understand that those are in fact good ways to get corrupted by Chaos. Especially because many Radicals have to employ evil methods to acquire such means.
    • An excellent example of the power of Chaos, is the Horus Heresy novel Fulgrim. Fulgrim starts out as a Primarch, the settings' equivalent of a human archangel, and a great lover of art of all kinds. In the end, the least of his depravities is creating art with the blood and screams of his victims. Throughout Fulgrim's descent into madness, he never fully realized what was happening, and every step on the way makes absolute, reasonable, bone-chilling sense.
    • Dark Eldar started out as the most hedonistic members of their species, culminating in an orgy so huge it squicked a Chaos God into existence. Because of their inability to contain such urges, they cannot use the same disciplined mindset to keep their souls from said Chaos God (as due to how he was born he instantly takes the soul of any Eldar upon death unless it was protected) nor do they have a god to protect them like the Harlequins. The end result is that each Dark Eldar have to go into further depravity to fuel their agelessness, essentially tossing the suffering of others in place of their own souls. Unlike other examples, some Dark Eldar can actually get the discipline to leave this lifestyle and become either Exodites, join a Craftworld, or get accepted into the Harlequins. Conversely, Craftworlders and Exodites (especially those on the Path of the Outcast) are not immune from the temptation, and can lose themselves in the Dark Eldar ways as well.
  • Tends to happen when you start using spells with the "Evil" descriptor in Dungeons & Dragons. Note: the descriptor is there for a reason.
    • The "Evil" descriptor is a bit misleading at times; Spells such as "Phantasmal Killer", which is Mind Rape in everything but name, does not have the descriptor, while spells such as "Deathwatch" which gives you a little timer to tell when the person you cast it on dies, does.
    • In Dungeons & Dragons evil isn't just a word but a literal component of existence, which means that evil spells use physical capital-E Evil as an ingredient. Casting Phantasmal Killer against a group of children would still be evil, but since it doesn't actually invoke Evil as a spell component, the spell itself is as morally neutral as a Fireball or Lightning Bolt.
  • Like many depictions of Angels, should In Nomine Angels go against their nature too much, they Fall and that Fall changes their very essence into Demons. It is up to the players how easy this is.
  • It is in the very nature of Ravenloft, the Demiplane of Dread, to addict and reward whoever acts evil.
    • Though it also acts as their prison.
    • In fact, the Dark Powers of Ravenloft don't reward evil, they actually punish it, horribly, by dangling the evil person's greatest desire just out of reach. For all eternity.
  • Ebon Dragon Infernal Charms, in Exalted. There are a lot of other morally dubious Charms, spells, and supernatural abilities, but only the Ebon Dragon's Charm trees will steadily impair your ability to act in an honest, moral fashion as you progress along them. (Granted, Infernals are one of the "villainous" factions to begin with, but they're entirely possible to play heroically, and Eclipse Solars and Moonshadow Abyssals can learn their Charms...)
  • Blue Rose: Sorcery — meaning most forms of ritual magic, as well as ordinary Inherent Gift magic if used in certain unethical ways — works almost exactly like the classic Star Wars Dark Side.
  • Picking up the theme from its literary counterpart above, in The Dresden Files RPG breaking any of the Laws of Magic invites attention from the Wardens and pushes player characters closer to NPC status...but each "Lawbreaker" power (one per Law and automatically acquired upon breaking it) then also provides a bonus towards actions breaking the same Law of Magic again.


    Video Games 
  • The powerfully corrupting effects of the Dark Side of the Force feature in Star Wars video games.
    • Naturally appears aplenty in Knights of the Old Republic, with its Jedi themes. The Sith in general appear to like to be as evil as possible, and their view on how it's rational to do things may even be corrupted by the Dark Side. There are a couple of occasions where you are questioned about the right course of action to take from a Sith perspective, and the right option always seems to be the most evil one available. For example, they rationalise why you need to do the You Have Failed Me trope, and make sure to Shoot the Dog even if it's not strictly necessary. There's also the story of Darth Revan, where it's not entirely clear whether the fallen Jedi with fearsome intellect and immensely strong personality was a puppet of the Dark Side or made it his/her puppet; it has been suggested that his/her plan of becoming the galaxy's bad guy in order to toughen up the Republic for the inevitable invasion of the True Sith was really a rational move, but then again, that's exactly what he/she would think if he/she was corrupted by the Dark Side in the way described above. It's even mentioned that using the Dark Side actually changes a person's neurological patterns, much like prolonged drug use.
    • In Jedi Academy, the reason given to why your character is tempted by the Dark Side is his/her mounting anger towards a sort-of-friend who has been annoying and trying to beat him all along, culminating with trying to kill him during his own momentary fall to the Dark Side. If you take the Dark Side option and have Jaden kill him, then instead of maybe going My God, What Have I Done? or something else sensible after his anger fading, he/she will go on to decide he/she now wants power above all else and go after the villain not to stop her but to steal her Artifact of Doom. Apparently for a Jedi to become angry enough to kill a helpless prisoner automatically also makes them obsessed with power and with despising others' weaknesses.
    • Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II has it even worse, when the tempation is to kill the Player Character's helpful sidekick and girlfriend for no reason, and he will do it is he has enough Dark Side points. Academy's making it an annoying and ambiguously evil character and giving the player the choice seems like a do-over of this scene.
  • From Warcraft III:
    • The character Arthas follows this trope to the letter. Originally a paladin, he obsesses more and more over defeating the Undead Scourge that has been appearing throughout the land. When he finally traces it to its source, he decides to go after a Infinity +1 Sword, Frostmourne, to defeat the undead menace. When he gets the sword, it murders his friend, steals his soul and whispers in his head, driving him mad and leading him to the Dark Side, eventually causing him to slay not only his family, his mentors, but overrun the land of his birth completely, which was what he was trying to prevent, and finally, become the master of the Scourge himself.
    • Then there is the Night elf Illidan Stormrage, who had a similar path except for more personal reasons coupled with the effects this had on his body causing his peers to mistrust him. Ten thousand years in prison didn't help things, as he immediately (though manipulated by Arthas) went to claim a demon artifact that turned him into a half demon. He eventually allied with the demons in an attempt to stop the Lich King, and went completely insane when he was heavily injured while trying to do so.
    • Warlocks and Deathknights in World of Warcraft, using evil powers to fight evil, are basically under constant threat of this happening, and there are many boss characters that have. Players are immune to this.
    • Of course, there are the Old Gods that don't exactly fight battles on their own, but rather drive others mad, such as Deathwing.
    • Finally, managing effects similar to this trope has been a key element to a few fights, most notably the Bloodqueen in Icecrown Citadel turning players into vampires. Affected players are much more powerful, but eventually have to bite someone else or they'll be mind-controlled.
  • The Satsui No Hadou or "Surge of Murderous Intent" from Street Fighter, which both Ryu and Gouken have to deal with and which Akuma has embraced (the idea being that to truly reach one's potential as a fighter, the idea of mercy and honor cannot substitute for winning at all cost). Evil Ryu and Oni represent the Drunk on the Dark Side component.
  • The King of Fighters universe has Orochi, a Sealed Evil in a Can, which granted its power to several characters, who have the ability to enter the "Riot of the Blood" state when they lose control. Iori Yagami is the prime example of this kind of character.
  • In the last route of Fate/stay night, Angra Mainyu's corruption of the Grail causes Sakura to undergo this kind of transformation after she suffers an Attempted Rape by her adopted brother. Any of the Servants she corrupts instead of killing outright, including Saber and Berserker, undergo a shift to The Dark Side along with her.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, this is represented by the "power of Darkness", which eventually corrupts all of the main villains and The Rival Riku. Later games establish that Dark Is Not Evil (sort of), allowing Riku to retain his good-guy status and his cool Darkness powers.
    • It was also stated that Riku really is a special case, Darkness always corrupts and recovering from it to the extent Riku did has only ever been done by him and him alone, And even getting there still took him inheriting his powers from someone who was falling to the darkness when he was given the spark and losing his body to it, and the manifestation of his inner darkness still haunts him five games and three years later.
  • While it can also be The Corruption, the power of the moon functions this way in Ring of Fates. As The Dragon puts it.
    '"We are Lunite. Hatred is our lifeblood... Rancor shall pave the path to the crimson heavens!"'
  • Final Fantasy XIV has the Dark Knight tank job, which uses the power of darkness as a source of strength. Dark Knights, however, subvert this trope: it is hammered home that Dark Is Not Always Evil, and that to master the art of the Dark Knight is to not only master The Power of Hate. The true strength of a Dark Knight is The Power of Love, and it is only by fighting to protect those precious to oneself in equal measure to bringing the guilty to justice that a Dark Knight can unlock their full potential.
  • Worms has a rather odd take on the Darkside being defensive by burrowing into the terrain and gaurding yourself with girders, it's still fighting dirty as you can burrow down and unleash an Armageddon if you have one.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 4 and 5, the Dark Chips will make its user addictive to it and, eventually, corrupt the Navi into the darkness. In gameplay terms, when you use them repeatedly, the chips will force themselves up to the first selections of chips whenever you initiate a battle; oh, and you'll permanently lose your max HP by 1 each time you do that.
  • In the Dragon Age series, Blood Magic (whose specialty is easily-accessible power and Mind Control) has a highly corruptive effect on mages' sanity, as does consorting with demons (but that is more because the demons purportedly strive to corrupt mages in order to possess them). Even blood mages who manage to resist corruption, like Merrill in Dragon Age II, tend to inadvertently cause more harm than good in the long run.
  • The Darkness from Destiny is held to be the equal and opposite of the Light, and is portrayed as an inherently corrupting force wielded by the enemies of mankind, namely The Hive and the Scorn. Attempts by humans to wield it have generally ended poorly (Clovis Bray I was given aid by the Darkness in creating the Exo, but he was already a sociopathic narcissist, and the Guardian Dredgen Yor became a Hunter of His Own Kind after being corrupted by the Darkness. The Drifter, Eris Morn, and the Exo Stranger, however, all argue that the Darkness isn't truly evil and can be wielded against itself, and are working to prove this point. This comes to pass in the Destiny 2 expansion Beyond Light, where the Guardians respond to the Fallen Kell Eramis harnessing the Darkness by learning to wield it themselves. Lightfall sees them going further and unlocking a second Darkness power, Strand. Lorebooks and cutscenes in Lightfall reveal that, just as the Drifter, Eris Morn, and the Stranger implied, the Darkness itself isn't evil - it isn't even intelligent. The story of it being a force focused on having all species fight until only one remains, with the victor becoming The Final Shape, is actually a lie perpetuated by the true Big Bad of Destiny, the Witness, which finds the concept of using the Darkness for non-violent paths offensive.

  • Gwynn from Sluggy Freelance has this with the Book of E-Ville and (formerly) with the demon K'Z'K.
  • Subverted with Vaarsuvius in The Order of the Stick and his/her soul splice with the spirits of three psychotic mages in order to stop the black dragon threatening V's mate and children, but also out of pride. Vaarsuvius was told the soul splice would have an effect on alignment, but after the Moral Event Horizon is crossed, this is revealed to be a lie set up to give V an excuse to do something that the elf would have otherwise avoided.
  • In Coming Up Violet high school popularity is treated a lot like this. This is made all too evident when Abby tries to convince Violet to usurp the Alpha Bitch's power and ends up sounding very much like Chancellor Palpatine.
  • Played for laughs in El Goonish Shive:
    "So you're saying you can't make me an army of goo-based hall monitors?"
    "Even if I could, I would not give into the dark side so easily."
  • Charmander, after using Rare Candies, becomes a bully Charmeleon and almost aggressively attacks Jigglypuff in 151 Hidden Depths.
  • Parodied and subverted in Homestuck. After her mother dies and she learns something about the Horrorterrors Rose goes "grimdark". Although this changes her appearance and prevents her from speaking normally, her personality is seemingly unchanged... though she understandably wants to kill the Reality Warper who killed her mother.

    Web Original 
  • Corruption, the metaphysical force of sin, degeneration and evil, features heavily in Inferno Quest

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Firebenders have all been taught to fuel their bending with anger, enhancing their warlike tendencies, and giving many of them anger management problems. Late in the series Zuko learns to use the sun instead, and Iroh may have been doing the same all series. Even Aang's first Firebending teacher viewed it as a wholly destructive power.
    • Even Waterbending can have darker uses, as in being able to Bloodbend any living creature, or rip out the water within them.
    • The Legend of Korra introduces an actual dark side. Darkness is a spiritual essence in and of itself, represented by the spirit Vaatu, who corrupts other spirits into becoming dark spirits and serve him. While humans aren't ostensibly corrupted, giving in to negative emotions like anger is to be overwhelmed by darkness.
    • A darker side of Airbending is shown when Zaheer sucks out all the oxygen in the Earth Queen's body, then suffocates her by forming said oxygen into a dome around her head.
  • An episode of The Fairly Oddparents had Dark Laser offer Timmy a suit of dark powers, hoping to get him addicted to evil and make him his apprentice. It almost works.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) introduced Havoc, an Evil Counterpart to the power of Grayskull. It's a destructive, corruptive power that draws on the worst aspects of whoever uses the power, turning them into powerful abominations.
  • Parodied in Spongebob Squarepants when Barnacleboy tells Mermaidman he's crossing over to the Dark Side. It's then shown that half of the Krusty Krab restaurant is in a veil of utter blackness, to the point where we can't see anything within.
    Mr. Krabs: "Why should I waste money lighting the whole store?"
  • Raven in the first season Teen Titans (2003) episode "Nevermore". Her inner darkness took control of her, that's why she pulled Dr. Light under her cloak with all the black tentacles and did something horrible underneath. All with glowing red eyes and the nastiest smile she's ever had in the show. It's a deep internal struggle though, and she's mortified when she snaps out of it. Though the glow comes back and she snarls with sharp teeth when asked what she'd done to him.
  • In Trollz, one of Simon's plans had Sapphire fall prey to this. Coaxed by a magic mirror, she grew narcissistic and power-hungry, deciding she didn't need her friends anymore. She did have regrets about it, and apologized once things were set right.

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Alternative Title(s): Dark Side