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Walking Wasteland

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Time to redecorate. Black is nice, yes?

"And behold, I shall be a Blight upon the land, and everything I touch... shall wither, and die."
Derek Powers, a.k.a "Blight", Batman Beyond

Now, you may be a Nice Guy or girl. You may be someone who's sweet, charming, and always nice to everyone. But, see, here's the thing: wherever you go, people and things tend to wither and die.

It's usually not any fault of your own, of course. In fact, it's probably the fault of the Phlebotinum; you may have got hit with a bad dose, or there's something about it that's just inherently flawed. Either way, you've got an effect around you that makes plants curl up, animals run screaming and, in time, men and women keel over. This isn't quite a Touch of Death; in role-playing game terms, it would be categorized as an Always On, Area of Effect power centered on you. And generally, it's a power that makes things die horribly.

But, hey. At least you're taking it like a trooper. And you've got a great personality, too...

Additional points if you can spread other havoc: souring wine, spoiling food, rotting wood, rusting metal, breaking mirrors/glass, etc. Often a side effect of Atomic Superpower.

Of course, sometimes you get Wastelanders who aren't so mistreated. Perhaps they're the Walking Wasteland because they're evil. Sometimes, they wouldn't normally care about the disasters they bring if it wasn't for the fact that they themselves are impaired by the fact they destroy things around them or kill people by being near them. On some occasions, the Walking Wasteland actually likes what they are. Of course, this more evil version is rarer and usually tends to be the second type (or the first mixed with the second) when it appears, simply because it's very hard to portray anyone as being capable of believing that "everyone around you dies" is some kind of Cursed with Awesome.

See Power Incontinence, Super-Power Meltdown, Brown Note Being, and Enemy to All Living Things; also see Walking Disaster Area. A Muck Monster is often toxic to all life in this way. If this comes as part of a superpower, you're Blessed with Suck. Contrast Fisher King and Fertile Feet. See also World-Wrecking Wave for a macro-scale event.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • After God: The areas inhabited by the IPOs are considered to be contaminated and breathing in one without a hazmat suit or IPO's blessing would kill a human. A lot of population had to be relocated and severe decrease of usable territory is a common political topic.
  • Defied in Ah! My Goddess: if a First Class Goddess like Belldandy were to release her full power while on Earth the collateral damage would be immense. Hence why her releasing her limiter was done only in an extreme situation and she reapplied it as soon as the crisis was solved.
    • Defied even more with Hild: her power is so immense that the mere act of coming to Earth would wipe Nekomi City off the map if she weren't wearing a lot of power-restraining jewels. Even then she triggers a thunderstorm - that she calms immediately.
  • Bleach:
    • Barragan can use his aura to age things around him. Touching someone can break their bones, walking ages the ground he's standing on to dust. When he enters his true form, his Respira ages everything it attacks into oblivion.
    • Starrk was so strong prior to joining the Espada that lesser hollows died whenever they got too close to him. He was so lonely that he wished he was weaker so that people could be around him long enough for him to form friendships.
    • During the battle for Karakura Town, Aizen reaches such an extreme level of power that any being without spiritual pressure that gets too close to him immediately dies. Even beings with spiritual pressure will struggle to stay on their feet when he is near.
    • Yamamoto has to keep control of his shikai at all times; a single, uncontrolled explosion of his shikai power has the ability to destroy the entirety of Karakura Town. When released, his Bankai immediately begins to destroy the environment via dehydration simply as an accidental side-effect. If activated for too long, Yamamoto's Bankai will destroy the whole world.
    • A Quincy in their One-Winged Angel form becomes this in Soul Society and Hueco Mundo due to gaining complete dominance over spirit particles and everything in those two worlds being made of spirit particles, including people. When Uryuu uses this form against Mayuri, buildings start disintegrating to power his arrows, but the villainous Quilge later demonstrates that Quincies can disintegrate people and their powers as well as buildings and the environment around them — if they're evil enough to want to.
  • Buso Renkin: Draining Life Energy is an inherent ability of all Victor-type beings comparable to breathing for a normal human so they will eventually kill everything around them whether they want to or not. The strength and area effected by this Energy Drain effect increases as the Victorization progresses, so if Kazuki hadn't taken Victor to the moon until a cure could be found all life on earth would have eventually been destroyed.
  • Campione!: Heretic Gods cause disasters wherever they appear simply by existing in the mortal world. The severity of the disaster varies based on their nature. A war god triggers wars, a sun god brings drought and wildfire, a death god spreads pestilence, etc.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, when Ayu Mitsuari suffers extreme bouts of emotion, like during her Villainous Breakdown, she emits a field where everything except herself quickly dries up. Living beings within the field desiccate and crumple apart like paper.
  • In Chainsaw Man, the Angel Devil looks like a short, cute human, but he absorbs the lifespan of any living thing that touches his skin. This effect is strong enough that a few seconds touching Angel could cost a human months of their life, as when Aki grabbed Angel's hand to save him from the Typhoon Devil. The effect is painless but requires skin contact, it doesn't work through clothes. Still, most humans steer Angel a wide berth.
  • In Digimon Tamers, Takato is furious after Leomon is killed by Beelzemon and demands Guilmon to transform into a higher level, which he does... in all the wrong ways. Guilmon turns into Megidramon, a Digimon that shouldn't exist; it's an abnormality and could destroy both Digital and Human Worlds, since it lacks any sense of awareness of right and wrong. Even Takato's Digivice can't take it and ends up breaking. Thankfully, Guilmon's brought back to his senses after a good self-reflection on his Tamer's part.
  • Dragon Ball GT: Many of the Shadow Dragons, specifically Haze Shenron (spreads pollution), Nova Shenron (his body is hotter than the sun, so anything that comes near him disintegrates), Ice Shenron (he freezes anything near him), and Syn/Omega Shenron (he emits negative energy that corrupts and kills entire planets, and eventually the universe).
  • In Excel♡Saga, Watanabe is so smitten with Hyatt that he doesn't notice that the grass she's sitting on is dying, along with all of the other plants around her. Hyatt herself isn't immune to this effect, as she dies quite frequently. Also, the vapours from her blood alone are enough to kill every bird in the area, which proves handy when Excel needs to track her down after Hyatt is kidnapped.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Gildarts specializes in "Crush" magic, which destroys anything he runs into. He's actually pretty nice, but he's so absent-minded that he walks through buildings. He does this so often, Magnolia was forced to reconstruct its foundations so that the town could mechanically rearrange its landscape, giving Gildarts a clear path straight to Fairy Tail's guild hall. This is known in-universe as the "Gildarts Shift", and an alarm is sounded every time Gildarts returns to Magnolia in order to warn the civilians to move to the designated areas in preparation.
    • Zeref suffers from a curse from the god of life and death that causes him to kill anything in his vicinity whenever he values life. The only way he can avoid this is by completely disregarding the value of which case people around him are screwed anyway.
    • Mavis suffers from the same curse due to actions she took at the climax of the prequel Fairy Tail Zero angering said god of life and death, but dies herself before she can do too much damage to her own side. Or rather, she ends up sealed inside Lacrima crystal in stasis, thus preventing her body from killing everyone.
  • Get Backers: Natsuki Amon. It was his tribal ability, and it led him to shun human touch for fear of draining the life of anyone he hung around with. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
  • Two Stands in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo have this ability, both of whom are only used once:
    • Pannacotta Fugo's Purple Haze harbors a virus in glass globes on its knuckles, and if the virus escapes it liquefies all organic matter within a 30-meter radius, with only sunlight as a neutralizing factor. It's said to be a representation of Fugo's violent side, and he avoids using it because of its high potential for unwanted collateral damage.
    • Cioccolatta's Green Day spreads a mold that rots everything that is at a lower altitude than the Stand itself, which its User takes advantage of by flying over Rome in a helicopter. Not even the Boss can bear him, because of Cioccolatta's sadistic glee at capturing his victims' deaths on video.
  • Kamigami no Asobi: Baldr, in his Superpowered Evil Side as the God of Destruction. A book that he was reading and a bowl of apples turn to dust as he sleeps, when his powers start to turn. If left to develop further, he would become a full version of this.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1999), not only does Queen Gohma chew up the Great Deku Tree, but her mere presence causes the trees and grass in Kokiri Village to wilt.
  • Medaka Box: Emukae Mukae can decompose anything. That is, cannot 'not' decompose anything. Untill Kumogawa tries to delete her Minus and ends up just giving it an off switch.
  • One Piece: Some Devil Fruits — mostly Logias, but also some Paramecias — grant their bearers powers that allow them to wreak havoc on their surroundings; because these powers are voluntarily triggered, their bearers double as Persons of Mass Destruction. Some of the more notable examples include:
    • Sir Crocodile, whose Sand-Sand Fruit gives him the power of desiccation, allowing him to suck the moisture out of anything he touches until the object crumbles into sand. He's even weaponized this power with the attack "Ground Death", where he slams his right hand to the ground and starts draining moisture on a massive level; this causes a rapidly widening expanse of the ground to disintegrate into sand... along with any buildings, plants and living creatures in the area of effect.
    • Admirals Aokiji and Akainu similarly can devastate their surroundings as collateral damage when they utilize their Logia fruits; the Chilly-Chilly Fruit and the Mag-Mag Fruit respectively. Their 10-day long battle for the open position of Fleet Admiral of the Marines led to the island of Punk Hazard being turned into a Hailfire Peaks with half of the island covered in magma and flames and the other half covered in ice.
    • Magellan, the vice-warden of Impel Down, has the ability to secrete all manner of poisonous liquids and gases thanks to eating the Venom-Venom Paramecia Fruit, and specializes in creating noxious compounds that can infect inorganic objects, basically turning his environment into a contaminated biohazard.
    • Don Accino, an anime-exclusive foe, has the ability to radiate incredibly lethal heat due to eating the Hot-Hot Paramecia Fruit, and often lets this power slip when he gets angry. As a result, his subordinates live in fear of angering him, lest his wrath cause him to begin unconsciously radiating such intense heat that they will spontaneously combust.
  • Restaurant to Another World: Black Queen/Kuro is a dragon who uncontrollably releases death magic, killing and disintegrating weaker beings, forcing her to exile herself to her world's moon to spare the inhabitants. She is capable of enacting a Power Limiter by Voluntary Shapeshifting into a much weaker elf form, allowing her to interact with the weaker populace, but there's implications that it wears off after a while, so she stays on the moon when not working at Nekoya to avoid risking killing anybody.
  • Sekirei: One of the few male Sekirei has this as his themed ability (#107 Shiina; his name literally means "death"), opposite his "sister" (#108 Kusano), who can invoke Fertile Feet (It's common for "sibling" Sekirei to have related powers).
  • Tenchi Muyo! GXP: Seina Yamada, the Unluckiest of Unlucky Everydudes, has a similar effect regarding his bad luck. Stand around him too long (or even have him walk by), and your luck starts to turn sour, too.
  • Trigun: Vash is known as "the Humanoid Typhoon". Wherever he goes, destruction is sure to follow ... but it's not exactly his fault, since the destruction is frequently caused by people trying to collect the huge bounty on his head.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Professor Frank seems to do this, but only in the Spirit World, where he seems to exude an evil aura that corrupts and rots the ecosystem, causing Ancient Fairy Dragon to intervene and try to kill him. (Ruka pleads with her to spare him, but when that fails, she is able to force a draw in the duel to end it and "kick" them both out of the place.)

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Phage the Untouchable is a prominent example. Bringing her into play by any means other than casting her from your hand causes you to lose the game immediately. Whenever she deals damage to a creature, even if said creature would have enough toughness to survive, it is destroyed and cannot be regenerated. Finally, if she deals damage to a player, that player automatically loses the game. This trait also holds up for Phage in-story - she caused any organic matter she came into contact with to rot away (not a pleasant way to go).
    • Cabal Patriarch adds -2/-2 counters to target creatures, which is activated by sacrificing creatures or by exiling cards from your graveyard. In-story, he drains the life force from those he touched.
    • Creatures with the keywords "deathtouch", "wither" and "infect" also qualify. Those with deathtouch automatically kill any creature they damage. Those with wither or infect deal damage in the form of -1/-1 counters, which (unlike normal damage) don't go away at end of turn.
    • Also the Eldrazi, to a much greater degree. The mere presence of one of the Progenitors causes the landscape to turn to a dusty wasteland. This is reflected in-game with the "annihilator" ability: when an Eldrazi with this ability attacks, the player it attacks must sacrifice some of their permanents.
    • Any creature with the ability to destroy lands, such as the Deus of Calamity.
    • Karn, the Silver Golem, had a heartstone that was dripping with Phyrexian Oil, bringing Phyrexia's corruption to every plane he visited. It took Venser performing a Heroic Sacrifice by teleporting his own soul into Karn to reignite the latter's Spark and finally clean him of the corruption.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics:
    • Aquaman: The Thirst drains water from his surroundings and living beings.
    • Batman:
      • The minor villain Professor Radium has this effect and three small-time bat-villains; Bag O'Bones, alias the One Man Meltdown, the Corrosive Man, and Doctor Phosphorus.
      • Red Robin: The Daughters of Acheron are a pair of League of Assassins members who have a toxic corrosive touch, with which they can kill and incapacitate those they make skin contact with by creating decay and corrode their way through armor. The sisters are grouped into a "sisterhood" by their ability, one is Russian and the other East-Asian.
      • Plague/Minamoto is a League of Assassins member can cause rot, decay and rust in things she touches.
    • The Flash:
      • The Flash had a minor villain named Fallout, whose exposure to a nuclear reactor made him a walking fallout zone. If that weren't sucky enough, he ended up killing his wife and son before he realized what had happened, and soon ended up in Iron Heights prison — as its power source.
      • The Flash has a friend with this problem: Chester P. Runk, a.k.a. "Chunk," a physicist who got a matter transporter stuck inside his body that turned him into a walking black hole. Chunk got the power under control eventually, though Wally had to solve the impending crisis when an incident with muggers caused the black hole to go wild again.
    • New 52: Doomsday, alongside tremendous superstrength and his adaptive powers, has a death zone around him, drawing away life, and essentially creating a desert wasteland.
    • Vertigo Comics: Issue 11 of the horror anthology Flinch featured a story where a prison inmate with failing kidneys from his years as The Alcoholic volunteers for a medical experiment intended to train his body to grow replacement organs. The experiment goes horribly right: not only do his kidneys regenerate better than ever; he also grows an entirely new system of organs which take all of the toxins his body absorbs and turn them into sweat. The new organs are so effective that his sweat eats through clothes and flesh, and any living thing he touches dies in seconds.
    • Wonder Woman foe Decay. Her touch can cause any living thing she comes in contact with to rapidly age, eventually resulting in death. Decay's breath is equally deadly, and can crumble a target to dust.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • The Avengers: The "Exemplar" Decay, basically an avatar of the demon/god Valtorr — one of the Octessence, eight powerful magic entities who are sometimes invoked by magic users — causes whatever his hands touch to decay into dust, whether he intends to or not.
    • Avengers Academy: Hazmat (Jennifer Takeda) discovers that her body naturally generates radiation when her boyfriend goes into a seizure while making out with her, an event that leads her family to all but abandon her, said boyfriend to dump her, and Takeda to have to wear a containment suit on a regular basis.
    • Daredevil villainess Typhoid Mary has a wide variety of Psychic Powers, but gets her name from a power that makes those in her presence feel feverish and weak.
    • Longshot (and others) villain Mojo. In his insane A God Am I tirades he obliviously calls himself "Lifebringer" when his presence on Earth kills plants and animals, nauseates humans and shuts down machinery.
    • Man-Thing: Jude, the Entropic Man, apparently an embodiment of entropy created from the remains of entropy cultist Yagzan by the Cosmic Cube, can theoretically cause anything he touches to attain complete entropy, which in practice means it desintegrates — but he never does this.
    • The Mighty Thor: The Radioactive Man constantly gives off nuclear radiation that causes radiation poisoning in anyone nearby unless he wears a radiation suit.
    • The New Universe: in D.P. 7, Dennis "Scuzz" Cuzinski developed the unwanted and uncontrollable ability to make anything he touches rot. Including his clothes.
    • The Squadron Supreme limited series has Foxfire, a villain who can induce things to rot by touching them. Then in the remake, Supreme Power, the character Nuke is reimagined as a man who constantly gives off massive quantities of deadly radiation.
    • Halflife, a minor West Coast Avengers villain, was capable of aging any living being by touching it. Given enough of a hold, she could wither away a living being to dust. She actually did this to the entire population of her planet, a slow version of this trope.
    • X-Men:
      • Elixir can use his powers to heal on a massive scale, eventually even bringing back the entire population of Genosha, but can also use his powers to kill. When he does, his golden skin turns black.
      • Xi'an Chi Xan, leader of X-Men 2099, has one hand that heals and another that causes rapid decay.
      • Omega Red, a (retconned as) Cold War-era villain, had the ability to produce a "Death Spore Pheromone" that physically weakened anyone exposed to it, to the point that it could kill someone who was exposed to it long enough. Including himself, if he didn't project them through his tentacles.
      • Ultimate X-Men (2001): One issue focuses on a mutant with the highly unfortunate power of producing a combination of acids and poisons that can kill anyone in his vicinity by dissolving them entirely (only clothes are left, not even bones). He ends up killing his family, pretty much everyone on his block, and his entire high school before fleeing to the desert; Wolverine is sent in to "take care of him", which the kid willingly accepts.
      • The aptly-named Wither. Everything organic he touches begins to rot away to nothing. When his mutation manifested it caused the natural fibers in his clothes to disintegrate. And then his father tried to calm him down when he began to freak out...
  • Transformers: Generation One: The Decepticon Sunstorm releases powerful radiation from his body that causes other Transformers that get too close to short out. Then, their bodies start to melt from the heat.
  • Supergod: Malak, the Iranian supergod, has the ability to disintegrate matter and apparently cannot — or will not — turn them off. He is powerful enough to disintegrate Teheran more or less instantly when he emerges, leaving only the husks of buildings and half-disintegrated corpses in his wake, and on the way to India to battle Krishna leaves behind a trail of destruction significant enough to be visible from space.

    Fan Works 
  • Dawn of Darkness: In the final arc, an entity that has been inhabiting Lucy since the pervious story begins to take control over her to a degree. Through Lucy it drains the life force out of everything around her.
  • In Hope for the Heartless, part of the Horned King's dreadedness is based on his aura of death. It's strong enough to cause him to kill any plantlife just by coming near it, and any living creature fears him instinctually, with animals going mad if they're close to his aura for too long. Even those who are used to it feel its choking effects. The ground and lake of the lands around his castle are lifeless, and the sky's permanently covered by red clouds. Even after Avalina slowly brings life to the Horned King's lands with her extraordinarily strong aura of life, he retains this deadly aspect. Eventually he loses this trait when he's brought to Avalina's garden for the first time, signaling his further progress in achieving redemption.
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls:
    • Two fighters of sufficient power will cause this when they clash, especially in the human world. During the battles at Camp Everfree, Sixth Espada Adagio and 2nd Division Captain Luna pretty much destroy the local lake and wreck kilometers of forest during their clash, while 10th Division Captain Kenpachi Sweet Cider and 4th Espada Lament blow holes in mountains, cause miniature earthquakes, and start a localized thunderstorm/hurricane around their location before they go all out.
    • Captain Celestia with her Shikai activated alone can release enough heat to not just melt the snow on a mountain, but the mountain itself. When in Bankai, Grogar notes that the release of energy could wipe out everything in a 20 mile radius which is why he gambled on forcing her unruly zanpakuto to go Bankai to escape his dimensional trap to make her take his offer to send them both to the Precipice Realm to prevent her from accidentally killing everyone in Camp Everfree and Canterlot City, who are in the blast radius.
    • Captain Platinum's Bankai is powerful enough to cause a flash freeze in the middle of summer of the human world, which ended up accidentally killing Gloriosa and Timber's parents when she used it fighting the original XCution in the Everfree Forest when they were caught up in it.

    Film — Animation 
  • Princess Mononoke: The Forest God Shishigami is a god of life and death. Grass and flowers sprout beneath his feet as they touch the ground, but rot almost immediately when he lifts them. He has the ability to control this when judging creatures, either killing or saving them as he decides. During the climax his powers go haywire, simultaneously causing everything around him to rot away and temporarily returning life to the wolf god's head. The Cursed Gods, or Tatarigami, also qualify for this trope — everything they touch rots, including flesh.
  • The "Stink Spirit" from Spirited Away has a downplayed version of this. When Lin gets within a certain distance of the spirit with a couple bowls of food, the food rots away within a few seconds.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula: Dracula's presence does this to a few flowers he passes by when attacking Lucy. Wilting a vase full of flowers when he comes to bite her a second time and likewise doing it to some roses while making his way to her through a garden in wolf form when he comes to finish her a following night.
  • Constantine (2005): A man possessed by the Big Bad is shown slaughtering a herd of cattle simply by passing through it.
  • Elektra: Typhoid (loosely based on Typhoid Mary) decays everything in close proximity to her. She can rot wood and rust metal and even give people diseases by kissing, or even by breathing a puff of (presumably miasmatic) air in their direction.
  • In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Carrigan is resurrected by the Devil as Blackout, a being with the power to decay anything he touches. Except Twinkies.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla vs. Hedorah: Hedorah is a kaiju-sized version of this. It's an alien life-form that feeds on pollution and is essentially a walking pile of toxic sludge. In fact, Hedorah is so toxic that not only did it produce enough sulfuric acid when it flew to cause people below it to instantly die and be reduced to skeletons, but it also caused Godzilla's own hand to be severely burned when he tried to punch it.
    • Shin Godzilla: Due to his Bizarre Alien Biology, this film's Godzilla is a 118-meter tall living nuclear reactor. His body expels a particular isotope that is highly radioactive but fortunately has a short half-life and his traditional Atomic Breath has three stages - smoky fallout, atomic fire and a focused laser-like beam (which the beast can also shoot from his fins and tail).
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Much like the fairly realistic depiction of a creature Godzilla's size displacing enough water to create tsunamis upon landfall, Ghidorah's massive size, powerful wings, and Shock and Awe powers alter the barometric pressure around him to create typhoons. Meanwhile, Rodan levels cities by flying over them at supersonic speeds, and the novelization reveals that he can cause volcanoes to erupt.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The dementors are portrayed this way in the film. Flowers wither and die around them, water freezes, etc.
  • The Mummy Trilogy: Imhotep suffers from this in the first movie, or rather everybody else suffers from it — he's fine with it. He's cursed with the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and the longer he remains on Earth the worse and more widespread the effects around him (including water turning to blood, the sun turning black, and a plague of boils) become. Thankfully, the heroes manage to defeat him before the tenth plague, the death of every firstborn son, becomes an issue. When he's resurrected in the sequel, the curse seems to have been lifted.
  • The Pink Panther: Inspector Clouseau is described this way by Dreyfuss: "Today [that town is] a beautiful paradise in the Swiss alps: tomorrow, a wasteland!"
  • In R.I.P.D., the dead spirits who don't move on see their souls start to rot. This "soul stank" manifests in their surroundings as a sort of decay, often affecting anything electronic. When the Big Bad reveals himself, his until-then-normal house abruptly rots and decays and practically falls apart around him.
  • Silent Hill: Colin, the monstrous janitor-creature in the first movie, spreads masses of diseased tendrils pulsing through just about anything he touches, including bathroom tiles. For double the horror, these tendrils eventually form birthing points for oversized flesh-eating cockroaches. According to the director, this particular facet of Colin's powers was meant to represent sexually transmitted disease, another nod to the fact that Colin is implied to have raped Alessa while he was still human. In a happy accident, this also functions as a subtle Shout-Out to Silent Hill 4's Victims, who corrupt the environment in similar ways.
  • In Warcraft (2016), fel magic not only drains the lifeforce from living beings, but poisons the land itself with extended use (the orcs' green skin comes from contact with fel magic, normally they're brown-skinned). Gul'dan's use of it ruined the world of the orcs, which is why he takes them through the portal to conquer Azeroth.
  • Warlock (1989): The title character has a power often attributed to witches in Real Life: when he's in the area milk turns sour.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand: The Dark Phoenix is capable of projecting an aura of psychokinetic energy that literally disintegrates anything and anyone caught in it. This is quite graphically shown during her Villainous Breakdown towards the film's climax, where she starts unconsciously vaporizing dozens of humans and mutants as part of her rampage.

  • All The Skills - A Deckbuilding LitRPG: Scourgelings spread death wherever they step; even the very ground under their feet rots. Anywhere there is a scourgeling eruption, the ground becomes completely fallow, necessitating a long and dangerous process of sowing life back into the soil so that it can be used again.
  • An Outcast in Another World has The Blight, which are Eldritch Abominations. They warp reality by existing and their method of passage into the world turns an area miles wide into a land that rejects life. Additionally, proximity to a person corrupts that person's body, permanently reducing their maximum health.
  • The Book of Dragons: In "Habitat", something about the nature of dragons causes plants to die off in areas where they settle, which in turn promotes wildfires. Over a long period of time, they turn their chosen territories into sterile deserts — Outremer is stated to have been originally a lush and fertile land, and became covered by its vast deserts due to the immense numbers of dragons living there.
  • Book of Imaginary Beings: At a basilisk's passage, plants wilt and birds fall dead from the sky; any stream the creature drinks from becomes poisoned, and its gaze kills, withers plants and splits rocks. Basilisk always live in deserts, because any land they settle will quickly become a barren waste.
  • Chaos Gods: Part of being a Fallen Servant is that Ki causes anything touching her body to age and decay. Living flesh is instantly destroyed as Ki breaks it down into energy and absorbs it. After Ki absorbs a ranked demon at the end of The Wanted Child, this effect becomes even stronger and larger in area, causing everything in a radius around her to wither and rot as she drains its energy.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Calormenes, an Arabian Fantasy Counterpart, worship the four-armed bird-headed god Tash. When he appears in the flesh, he turns out to be a frigid, carrion-smelling, emaciated God of Evil whom animals flee and who strikes barren the ground he walks on. He's also explicitly established as an Evil Counterpart to the noble lion Aslan, who created all life on the planet with his song.
  • Dragonlance: In the Kingpriest Trilogy, Fistandantilus has a minor version of this ability, coupled with Evil Is Deathly Cold- everywhere he goes the temperature drops and plants freeze and whither, and if he sticks around long enough (which he admittedly generally doesn't) animals will start to freeze and drop dead too. Even the spellbooks he writes are painfully cold to the touch.
  • Dread Companion, when Kilda picks a flower while arguing with her, Bartare makes it wither in her hand to frighten her off. Later, Kilda's reflection turns to a skeleton. Whether the flower was just an illusion of this is not revealed.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them mentions the Nundu, a gigantic leopard-like creature whose mere breath is toxic enough to wipe out entire villages.
  • In the H. Beam Piper story Flight from Tomorrow, a future dictator escapes a revolution using a time machine, intending to be a Conqueror from the Future. However because future mankind has become acclimatized to high levels of radiation after a series of atomic wars, he ends up killing everyone he comes into contact with. The twentieth century authorities track down this radioactive Typhoid Mary and carpetbomb the valley he's in, then fill it with concrete from one mountainside to the next.
  • Friday the 13th: For some reason, Jason Voorhees is given this power in Friday The 13th Hate-Kill-Repeat. Small animals and plants just drop dead if they stay too close for too long.
  • Good Omens: Pollution has this effect; for the most part, it seems to be an ability to make pollution happen rather than directly creating pollution himself, but his touch can tarnish a silver crown so thoroughly that it turns completely black. Famine has shades of this as well; his presence makes people hungry and apparently causes any nearby food to stop existing.
  • The Heroes of Olympus: This seems to be a recurring trend for Hades/Pluto's children.
    • While Hazel is an all-around nice girl, she was Cursed with Awesome at birth. Gemstones and riches underground tend to pop out whenever she's around, but anyone who takes and tries to get rich off of them meets horrible ends. Pluto seems to imply that, while most of his children are like this to some extent, Hazel takes it up a notch.
    • When Nico DiAngelo uses his powers, it's not uncommon for the plants around him to wither and die. The more power he uses, the bigger the radius of dead plants around him is.
  • Journeys of the Catechist features two different versions of this.
    • In the first book, Ehomba encounters an innocent-loooking fellow who is actually a living embodiment of Corruption. Anything that contacts Corruption is, well, corrupted. One character hits Corruption in the neck with his sword, which promptly rusts and rots away in seconds.
    • In the third book Ehomba and his companions encounter the Drounge, a creature that is an embodiment of disease. Any living thing that touches it gets infected with many different lethal diseases at once. Descriptions of its travels before encountering the heroes tell of mysterious plagues, withered crops, and epidemics. Even touching the thing rots away all the flesh on one character's hand, and scavengers that feed on its victims also die. Tragically, the Drounge is not immune to its own nature: it too is suffering from many different diseases, but it regenerates so fast that it's effectively immortal. So it's always sick and in agony, but it can't die.
  • A heroic example exists in Davian of The Licanius Trilogy. He died before being born and, as an Augur, uses kan to draw Essence from his surroundings in trace amounts to stay alive. People around him sometimes feel tired, but that's the extent of his destruction barring an emergency.
  • The Malazan Book of the Fallen has a flying example. Korabas, a dragon, is the antidote to magic, and since all life is magic, any area Korabas crosses becomes devoid of it and thus a wasteland. Korabas herself never asked to be what she is.
  • The Moomins: The Groke freezes everything she touches, and if she sits in the same place for more than an hour, nothing will ever grow there again. She's both The Dreaded, to the point that inanimate things will move away from her, and the loneliest person in the world. In Moominpappa at Sea, Moomintroll cures her physical coldness by curing her loneliness.
  • The Neverending Story has Grograman, the Many Colored Death. The desert in which he lives travels with him, and extends for many, many miles around him, so intense is the heat that he carries with him. Only Bastian has ever been able to speak with him without dying, and that's because he had the protection of AURYN.
  • In The Sharing Knife, Malices absorb ground constantly to exist and grow. Near the lair of a newly emerged one plants and insects die off, injuries to greater creatures are slow to heal, and decay more or less stops. The stronger they grow, the worse and more widespread the effects become, to the point where rocks lose their form and people die just by remaining within 'blight' long enough. Even after the Malice is slain it takes time for things to return to normal, and much of the continent the books are set on have been in the latter state since a great conflict that wiped out most of civilization centuries ago.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, one of the abilities granted by lightblaring magic is the ability to kill plants merely by being close to them.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, the Surge of Division allows people to invoke this at will. The only time we've ever seen it used (as of Oathbringer) is when a Dustbringer (one of the orders of magically-empowered knights) uses it to burn a swirling pattern into a tabletop. She says that it allows the person using it to burn, decay or degrade objects, and that it also works on people. The Order of Skybreakers also has this power, along with gravity-master abilities, but we've never seen them use it.
  • Towers Trilogy: Xhea becomes one when her dark magic awakens. She goes to sleep beneath a tree in a park and awakens to find the tree withered and the grass turned to ash.
  • In Warrior Cats, this is part of the power of the Dark Forest. If they enter the physical world, everything they touch starts to decay. During The Last Hope, a huge army of Dark Forest warriors appear on WindClan territory and their decay powers start turning it into a second Dark Forest. Fortunately, Ivypool and Hollyleaf chase off the warriors before it can happen.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Rand, (partially) after he's first known as the Dragon and random stuff happens around him. More fully during the Gathering Storm bit where he's so close to crossing the Despair Event Horizon and falling to The Dark Side via Being Good Sucks. Completely reversed after his whole Dragonmount meditation into Fertile Feet (which itself has the Green Man example.
    • The Dark One (or perhaps the Bore) is sort of an example, with the ever-growing Blight being the area of effect for the stationary Pit of Doom.
  • In The Witchlands, Poisonwitch is a type of Waterwitch that's capable of turning water around them toxic, which results in poisoning rivers and fields and killing people, plants and animals. Interestingly enough, by and large they're not considered a case of Bad Powers, Bad People, and the Praetorian Guard of the Marstoki Empress is composed entirely of Poisonwitches.
  • Zachary Nixon Johnson: In The Flaxen Femme Fatale, the titular antagonist Natasha is a psi capable of emitting an anti-life field that instantly kills every living thing in her vicinity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 4400:
    • A story arc features a man going for the promicin shot (50/50 chance of either gaining superpowers or dying horribly) and coming out on the "lucky" side. His power? He releases promicin directly into the atmosphere, which is instantly absorbed by anyone in the area who isn't wearing protection. Needless to say, a lot of people — half of Seattle — die.
    • An earlier episode features a 4400 woman who releases a deadly virus into the atmosphere when she feels threatened or nervous (which, due to her apparent psychological issues, is pretty much all the time).
  • Brimstone: The villain of "Carrier" is a Typhoid Mary-expy who causes infection in anyone she exchanges bodily fluids with (before she "died", she killed a bunch of people by throwing up in a reservoir). Her time in Hell has caused the disease she's infected with get worse, making even The Devil nervous!
  • In The Boys (2019), Arc Villain Soldier Boy is turned into one of these after being captured by the Soviets, making him radioactive and prone to explosive Super Power Meltdowns when stressed.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Amends", Buffy learns that the Bringers (priests to the First Evil) will cause "nothing to grow, above or below" them. She remembers seeing an inexplicably dead patch at a Christmas tree lot, and finds their hideout buried beneath it.
  • Carnivàle: Ben has the power to heal and restore the dead but at the expense of draining the life from things and people around him. Cue lakes of dead fish, withered fields of wheat, etc.
  • The Daily Show had a running joke about this, playing on former Vice President Dick Cheney's insistence that his residence (One Observatory Circle) be pixellated on Google Earth (while The White House wasn't).
    Jon Stewart: I'm not saying Dick Cheney absorbs light. Or that if he were to brush by a plant, that plant would three days later die.
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: After absorbing the power of the Darkening to protect her friends, any life around Deet withers and dies. She's forced to leave her friends in order to protect them.
  • Haven:
    • Starting in "The Lighthouse", every Trouble Duke Crocker or his ancestors ever absorbed start activating in him. One Trouble caused the grass around him to die in an expanding circle. Fortunately, the Troubles only activate one at a time, so when he manifested another one, he stopped killing the plant life.
    • In "Much Ado About Mara", Jody unknowingly absorbs ambient microwaves, amplifies them, and releases them. This shorts out equipment, burns things, boils water, cooks people's eyes and internal organs, etc.
    • In "Mortality", Kirk sucks away the oxygen in his presence.
  • Heroes has three examples: Ted Sprague of season 1, whose inability to control his power to produce radiation killed his wife, Maya of season 2, who somehow kills everyone in her vicinity if she gets too stressed and Jeremy Greer of season 4, who can manipulate life forces, accidentally killed his parents by touching them.
    • Maya, at least, eventually learns how to control this power, and had it cured.
    • Ted's story features a scene where the camera lifts up to show the grass dying in a slowly expanding circle around him.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Blade: The Joker Undead is mostly harmless as long as the Battle Fight is still ongoing, but if it wins by being the only one left standing, it instantly and unwillingly becomes the source of an endless horde of cockroaches to eradicate all life on Earth. It also feels a compulsion to seek out and battle the other Undead to make this happen.
    • Kamen Rider Double: The Virus Dopant initially appears to be an incredibly powerful monster with its ability to manifest from a comatose user, thus becoming a being of pure mental energy that can kill anyone with a Touch of Death. By the end of the two-parter, however, it's revealed that everyone else dodged a major bullet with it being used this way: if its user had been awake, they could have instantly killed everyone in the city.
    • Kamen Rider OOO: Gamel is the weakest of the Greeed as long as he's not complete, to the point of being unable to feed himself by generating more of the Cell Medals that form his body if he doesn't have all nine of his Cores. This is because if he does have all nine Cores, the Set Bonus he gains is to instantly turn anything and anyone he touches into a pile of Cell Medals.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim: By the end of the series, Gaim himself is one of these, as he reflexively causes the corruptive Alien Kudzu of the Helheim Forest to manifest around himself as he gets closer to becoming a god who can control it. Fortunately, by the time this starts happening, the entire city that he lives in has already been overrun with the stuff.
  • Reaper: Cady. She's mostly a nice girl, though there have been hints of Yandere tendencies, but flowers and small animals die in her presence. She may or may not be the devil's daughter.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the episode "Unnatural Selection", a group of scientists create a highly advanced group of humans that are telepathic and could never get sick. The main problem is that their immune systems are so aggressive that anyone who gets close to them starts aging rapidly and dies. They have to be kept in isolation forever.
  • Supernatural:
    • The Winchester brothers encountered a girl who had been resurrected and Came Back Wrong. This particular zombie wilted plants everywhere it went; the girl's grave, where she had been resurrected, had a good ten to fifteen foot radius of trees, grass and flowers that were dead. However, this was a side effect of the zombification status. The really bad part comes in where she's implacably Axe-Crazy.
    • Pestilence becomes this when he turns on his ring's powers. This immediately causes everyone in the vicinity to develop painful and horrific diseases. Sam and Dean are both incapacitated when they get too close to him.
    • Death goes to get some food at a diner. When Dean enters he finds that everyone in the room died in Death's presence, although only because Death is bound and compelled to carry out Lucifer's will at the time. In reality, Death does not actively kill people outside of their scheduled time because it's a disruption of the natural order. Sometimes he'll agree to take people who ask him to, like he nearly did with Sam.
    • In "Inherit the Earth", Jack's newfound parasitical power causes plants to wither in his presence.
  • Titans (2018): Trigon immediately begins causing all plant and animal life to die once he transforms into his true form and gains its power. We see him striding across the land with grass and trees turning brown and dead birds falling from the sky.
  • Torchwood has Abaddon, a colossal demon whose shadow instantly kills anything it falls upon.

  • Benny Borg's "Balladen om Morgan Kane" (The Ballad of Morgan Kane) mentions that "in his shadow, there is sand where nothing grows/A hunted man never gets flowers in his path".
  • Nekron from the Dark Secret Saga: When he finally conquered the elvish valleys, his mere presence caused the spontaneous death of all the plants and trees. To drive it even further, even the rivers dried out or turned in disgusting swamps.
  • The Grim Reaper is portrayed this way in Ensiferum's video for "From Afar". Everywhere he walks, plants shrivel and the bark peels off trees.
  • Nora in "The Talk of Nora's Badness" by The World/Inferno Friendship Society has this reputation: "Spreading trouble in her wake, like a great ship / Couples fight, milk spoils, flowers wither and horses kick / Babies cry, light bulbs burn out / Hard drives die when she walks about / Dogs howl and fall to the ground / Bottles break and drummers quit"

  • In medieval European bestiaries, the basilisk, or "king of serpents", was one of these. Never mind biting; it could kill creatures with super-lethal poison just by looking them in the eyes, or when they inhale the noxious fumes it emanates. Not just animals and humans, by the way; it would cause plants to burn up and make stones explode with its poisonous aura and breath. The only way to kill it was to drop it in a weasel's burrow; the weasel was thought to be incredibly filthy, and the basilisk would presumably die from all the dross it took in from biting the weasel at around the same time the poison overtook the weasel.
  • In Norwegian folklore, there is a character called Pesta, who is a personification of The Black Death ("pest" is the Norwegian word for "plague"). She would walk through the land in the form of a shrivelled old woman dressed in black, carrying a broom and a rake with her. If she used the broom as she walked past a homestead, all who lived there would perish from the plague; if she used the rake, some would survive.
  • The draugr of Norse mythology can have this affect, killing animals just by their very presence or by driving them mad with fear (which it could also do to people). In the case of Thorolf, birds that overflew his barrow dropped dead. Draugr also brought disease and pestilence wherever they went.

  • The Magnus Archives: John Amherst. Any place he inhabits for long enough becomes diseased, along with all the people trapped there with him. But that's just what happens when you serve an Eldritch Abomination embodying the very idea of being unclean.
  • Sequinox: The Night Queen. In the post-apocalyptic world seen in the Gemini arc, Caiden explains that her touching the world was all that it took to destroy Westbrook and the surrounding area.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 7th Sea has the (theoretically extinct) Zerstorung school of sorcery, whose practitioners could decay anything they touched, and at higher levels, turn them to dust. Some practitioners could even do it from a distance. The sorcery is, however, controllable.
  • Anathema: Shrouds with the Famine dominion can can pollute water sources, turn nearby food and drink into dust and ash, and make people become fatally dehydrated.
  • Band of Blades: One of Fleshblighter's lieutenants, Black Rotting Gale, plays this straight. Poisonous fog surrounds him, killing or corrupting anything that lives.
  • Bleak World has the Radio Zombie which has the ability to cause a fallout ridden wasteland wherever they walk when they hit a rank 8 in magic. They can add metaphorical corruption to the mix at level 10.
  • In Deadlands, there is a flaw, fittingly named "Grim Servant o' Death", that makes you somehow a silent servant of the reaper; just being around in a place results in any and every sort of catastrophe. You are not affected, but around you, everything deadly that can go wrong, will go wrong. Not good for your reputation.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • There have been a few prestige class options that allow players to become these if they wish (though they can also be used for npc villains), such as the Walker in the Waste, a mobile desert generator, who eventually could become desert-spreading Dry Liches.
    • In the Dark Sun setting, the two wizard classes were Defilers and Preservers; the major difference between them was that, while Preservers cast spells in harmony with nature but went up levels slowly, the Defiler went up levels quickly and killed all plant life in a foot radius equal to the level of spell they cast. They also used their powers without restraint until almost the entire world was reduced to a desert wasteland.
    • Walkers in the Waste are a subversion of the way this trope is normally played as they have gone out of their way to devote themselves to the desert and the ability to spread it across the world in the desert's ultimate gift to them. At least that's the flavor/story aspect. Once they gain the ability, they have to be consciously suppress it in order for it to stop, every turn (for the small mechanical cost of a free action per turn). You forget to tell your DM your using a free action to have the ability off that turn, you have your mini desert back. So its like a momentary switch (one that's only engaged as long as it's held down); you have to remember to keep holding it "off".
    • The elven strain of vampirism from the Ravenloft setting causes the afflicted to acquire a "black thumb", which kills plants on contact. However, while small plants die instantly, larger ones take a few hours, and trees take about a week, the vampire feeling the pain they suffer as they die.
    • The odic, an undead spirit from the Basic/Expert/etc version of D&D, has a vegetation-killing aura.
    • The Blighter prestige class generates the power for spellcasting by absorbing it from nearby vegetation, instantly killing and withering large swaths of fertile land.
    • The atrophal, a type of abomination (a class of evil creatures with godlike powers detailed in the Epic Level Handbook). Its a stillborn god, basically a giant flying fetus animated by a spark of divine will and utter hatred for all things that live while it will never be able to. As part of its power it radiates a negative energy aura that affects all living creatures in 500m radius, suppressing their level by 10 until they leave. That means anything level ten and below will keel over dead ( and rise as undead) before they even see it.
    • The Drowned (an undead monster spawned from people who died guess how) have a drowning aura. Anyone within a certain radius of them finds their lungs spontaneously filling with water. They can kill the crew of a ship simply by swimming underneath and waiting for those above to keel over.
    • The sourcebook "Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes" compares demons to a virus that infects reality itself, and states that any time they end up on a plane other than the Abyss, there is a chance of them corrupting the environment around them with chaotic energy. Trees will sprout fleshy tumors instead of leaves, bodies of water will turn to poison, and eventually a Hell Gate to the abyss will open, allowing more demons to pour through. Fortunately, in practise, doing enough damage to the world to open a Hell Gate would require the demon to stay in the same spot for anything up to several years, and a typical demon's chaotic nature mean it gets easily bored and wanders off before the corruption gets too out of hand.
  • Exalted:
    • The Abyssal Exalted, in addition to actively setting out to ruin the world, can ruin it just by being around. Ironically, this tends to apply more to those who actively try to do good deeds — they acquire Resonance, which is only discharged by the destruction of living things about them and other assorted horrible maladies. Of course, if you're an evil person to start with, you could find this funny. Whether or not Resonance is a form of Cursed with Awesome or Blessed with Suck depends an awful lot on the individual involved.
    • Infernal Exalted actually posses the ability to call Cecelyne the Endless Desert (a demon-god representing physical and spiritual wastelands) into Creation. Infernals are most definitely both Cursed with Awesome and Blessed with Suck as well as being chock full of Nightmare Fuel.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • While most followers of the Plague God Nurgle from Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 are generally classed as a Poisonous Person, the most devout and favoured of their number are so saturated with disease and decay that their mere presence can cause crops to wither, milk to sour and armour to rust.
    • Warhammer:
      • The Beastman special character Molokh Slugtongue is the total anathema to life and nature, spreading a pall of sickness, famine, withering and death in his wake. Then there's Morghur, Lord of Skulls, who makes Molokh look like a walk in the park: little else than the Anthropomorphic Personification of The Corruption, Morghur's twistedness is so total that it leaks, turning everything in his path into nothing but chaos and madness. Morghur is completely immune to missiles and magic; even the mightiest spells or cannonballs are warped into uselessness before they can impact him, and anyone who gets close to him are liable to turn into Chaos Spawn if they're lucky.
      • Warpfire dragons are so saturated with the energies of the warpstone — a highly unstable rock created when raw magic takes solid form — they feed upon that they constantly radiate an aura of eldritch fire that distorts magic and withers any living thing in their vicinity.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • The Skitarii Vanguard of the Adeptus Mechanicus are so soaked in radiation from their dangerous wargear and the hostile environments they operate in, that to approach them unprotected is a death sentence. It is for this reason that Vanguard warriors are often known colloquially as rad-troopers. Both the 7th and 8th Editions of the game represent this by giving nearby enemy units a penalty to their Toughness due to radiation poisoning.
      • The Tyranid Venomthrope and Toxicrene Sporecaster Organisms, as well as the leader beasts of the toxin specialist Hive Fleet Gorgon, constantly spew thick clouds of highly toxic, semi-sentient, microscopic spores that break down organic tissue at a prodigious rate. These spores are so deadly that they will infect everything in the surrounding area, tainting the soil and poisoning the atmosphere until the entire world is rendered uninhabitable. In the 8th Edition of the game this is represented by units and models in close proximity to these creatures having a chance of suffering mortal wounds.
  • In GURPS the Lifebane disadvantage is a mild form of this — it kills small plants, insects etc. in the character's vicinity, but doesn't harm larger creatures. In Vampire: The Masquerade, a similar flaw was called Taint of Corruption.
  • Iron Kingdoms gives us the Blight ability of dragons, which twists the world nearby: living creatures mutate, and people additionally become crueller and more loyal to the dragon's goals. Because dragons in the IK are universally weapons-grade assholes, they view this as awesome and cheerfully call up armies of Blighted minions, such as Cryx's Satyxis raiders and Blighted Ogruns, or basically everything fielded by Everblight.
  • The Secrets of the Synod Horrenda features an undead creature called the Nightbringer, which is surrounded by a cloak of darkness that deals two negative levels per round.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Beast: The Primordial: The titular characters are a variation; if they neglect to feed on fear often enough, then their Horror (the astral entity that is simultaneously their soul and an entirely separate spiritual twin) will go rampaging through the dreamscape, resulting in plagues of nightmares and bad dreams that bedevil everyone in the area until the Horror manages to feed enough to sate itself. It won't kill anyone, but it certainly has a drastically nasty effect.
    • Demon: The Fallen: If your character belongs to the seventh house of demons and your main lore is the Lore of Death, your visage of Namtar (essentially a demonic/angelic form that your possessed character can take at will) has the torment ability of "Aura of Entropy", which outright kills plant life and weakens living beings.
    • Promethean: The Created: As part of every Promethean's Disquiet, if they spend too long in a certain area, a Wasteland starts to take hold as the Promethean's central humor goes out of control. Frankensteins, whose humor is fire, generate static electricity to the point where electrical equipment no longer works; Galateids, whose humor is air, lead to the wind growing still and stultifying; Osirans, whose humor is water, lead to water turning thick, oily, and generally undrinkable; Tammuz, whose humor is earth, cause the earth and stone around them to erode and turn to dust; and Ulgans, whose humor is spirit, cause the barriers between the material world and the Shadow Realm (And other places...oh dear) to collapse. Needless to say, it really sucks if you're one of the rare nuclear Prometheans...
    • 'Vampire: The Masquerade: This is canonically attributed to Caine, the first Vampire, who was cursed by God to wither plants at his passing in punishment for the murder/sacrifice of Abel. There's also a Flaw "Touch of Frost", which does exactly the same — and is viewed poorly by humanity-seeking Kindred, and positively by Noddists and Vampires on the Path of Caine.
  • In Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, Sargeras, the Big Bad for the Warcraft setting, had an aura that raised the temperature by 50 degrees within a thousand mile radius of his location, causing serious environmental damage. The closer to him, the hotter it got.

  • BIONICLE: Voporak gives off a temporal force field that ages anything thrown at him and can more quickly age objects through touch.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Wonders: The Undead Reaper unit leaves a trail of wasteland terrain in its wake. Similarly, the Frost Queen unit blankets the ground with snow, and the Reaper's opposite number, the Nature Elemental, turns other terrain into fertile grasslands.
  • American McGee's Grimm: Grimm makes things around him as dark and ugly as he is as he walks around: pretty flowers become ugly weeds, cute animals become twisted and scary, happy and brightly dressed people become drab and mean (or just depressed), and many things start oozing blood or ichor. The more things he "grimmifies" in a stage, the more powerful the effect gets.
  • In Ancient Domains of Mystery, molochs leave a trail of blighted ground where they walk.
  • In Armored Core 4 and For Answer, NEXT's are this due to Kojima Particles (used for Primal Armor and Game-Breaker Kojima Weapons), which are described as being radioactive and "polluting" (which probably means "hard to get rid off and will not go away naturally")
  • In Bendy and the Ink Machine, trails of ink surround Bendy in all directions. They can't do anything to hurt Henry or any of the studio's stronger ink beings, but all the minor ones like the Searchers or the Butcher Gang members instantly die when touched by it. It's implied that prolonged exposure would kill all the stronger ink beings too simply because it's ink.
  • In Brütal Legend, the Drowning Doom army has a unit called the Dirigible, a blimp that spreads crematory ash. Around it, the land turns to dead desert clay, and people involuntarily get depressed around it, lowering defense.
  • In Misyr's route in Cafe Enchante, Misyr's real form causes everything and anyone to become ash either by standing too close to him or when his powers go out of control.
  • In City of Heroes, the hero Positron suffered a horrible accident during the Rikti War and lost control of his power to control nuclear energy. As a result, he spent the next few years bolted up in his powersuit, afraid that if he stepped out of it, he'd irradiate everything in the area.
  • Female protagonist Cardia in Code:Realize can and will corrode anything she touches and gives off small amounts of poison just by existing. She reveals to Saint Germain that anyone spending too much time in close proximity with her can die such as what had happened to the kindly village lady who was trapped with Cardia in a cave and slowly suffocated to death from the poison building up in the air.
  • Diablo:
    • Baal in Diablo II cutscenes appears to do this, spreading a dark, smoky aura, blackening and cracking the ground, and even the skies darken at his approach. Whether the blighting aura is innate or intentional, it is suppressed while he's disguised as Tyrael.
    • It's said in Diablo III that the Prime Evils leave demons in their footsteps as mortals leave footprints, which certainly seems to be the case throughout the series. They also warp and corrupt their environment, and nowhere is this more strongly seen than when Diablo invades Heaven.
  • Dragon Age:
    • The Darkspawn spread an effect called "the Taint" wherever they go that kills plants, mutates people and animals into twisted thralls, and even rots the ground itself like fetid meat. The codex states that some areas they've passed through are so noxious that dead bodies won't rot as all insects and bacteria are already dead, and that it can takes decades for Blightlands to recover or even become habitable again afterwards. The Anderfelds in particular has some areas that were bligthed since the First Blight, over a milennia ago.
    • The Messenger from Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening is the "perfectly nice person spreads wasteland" version of this trope, being a darkspawn imbued with sapience and free will who's decided to help out travelers in danger and just generally be a good guy. Unfortunately, he still spreads the Taint despite all his good intentions, as the epilogue notes.
  • Elden Ring: The demigoddess Malenia is one, due to being "blessed" in utero with Scarlet Rot. Her being able to interact normally with other people is noted to take a tremendous effort of will on her part to keep the rot subdued, and even then she tends to infect those close to her (like her Cleanrot Knights) despite her best efforts. She's also the reason why Caelid and Elphael are full of rot and rotted enemies, though the former was due to a Godzilla Threshold and the latter a complete accident.
  • In the Fallout series, feral ghouls that inhabit places covered in extreme radiation can become highly radioactive themselves, what's called a "glowing one" due to the luminescent glow their bodies give off from the radiation. They passively emit a low level of radiation at all times that even persists after they've been killed, as well as emit a powerful burst of radiation that can heal and revive other ghouls if possible. Although there are a few cases of non-feral ghouls that live as glowing ones, e.g. Jason Bright, Oswald the Outrageous, it's commonly believed and often seems the case that the more radiation they take in, the sooner a ghoul inevitably goes feral.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy XII: One of the Summon Magic creatures is the bloated abomination Cúchulainn. His lore states that he was once a Ridiculously Cute Critter the gods had created to swallow all of the evils in the world, but they miscalculated just how much evil there was in said world, and Cúchulainn became the gluttonous beast he is now. Now a Poisonous Person, it's said whatever he treads his feet on causes it to instantly wither and die, and he can enact this effect purposely by injecting his scorpion tail into the earth.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: The Primals continuously absorb the aether that exists in all things. This constant drain of aether destabilizes the world over time. Plant life withers, water dries up, etc. The larger and more powerful the Primal, the greater this drain is. Heavensward introduced Alexander, a Primal so large and complex that simply sitting in place and not moving at all would drain the region he spawned in of all aether within a matter of months. Stormblood shows an area near the homeland of The Empire just exactly what happens if a primal successfully sucks up all the land's aether; the entire landscape is completely devoid of life for there are no plants or even any animals. The empire saw how bad it gotten and used that to wage a war against primals and anyone or anything that may even be remotely related to them.
  • Furi: The Stranger in the Free World, as grass rots and the ground tuns ashen in his wake. Part of the reason you were locked up.
  • In Grabbed by the Ghoulies, The Grim Reaper will drain all the color from objects and surfaces within a certain radius around him, turning them a sickly shade of gray. (They return to normal once outside this radius, however.)
  • Guild Wars 2: When the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik flies, anything beneath its shadow is Branded. Creatures and plants are warped and twisted into crystalline servants while the land itself is transformed into an alien, crystalline landscape that's hostile to other life. In areas heavily impacted by the Brand, Brandstorms form which blast anything not Branded with lightning.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Darth Nihilus is a Humanoid Abomination that feeds on the life energy of all those around him, and can devour the life force of an entire planet by speaking. Anyone who is in his presence for an extended period of time will slowly have their life and their mind devoured by him, turning them into semi-undead husks.
  • In MediEvil, after Zarok casts his second spell, its other intended effects are transmitted via his very presence: in his wake, the dead rise from their graves, plantlife begins to mutate, and a Sickly Green Glow will appear in places.
  • Mega Man & Bass: Dynamo Man has an experimental compact reactor inside him that will kill any living thing that gets too close.
  • Monster Hunter:
  • Ninja Gaiden: In the cutscene preceding the battle against the Emperor, when the Emperor awakens he flaps his wings once and the entire field of flowers dies instantly, and the world turns into what looks like Hell.
  • Pikmin (2001): The Smoky Progg leaves a trail of deadly fog that will kill your Pikmin.
  • Pokémon:
    • Muk is a giant sentient blob of toxic... well... muck. Its Pokédex entries state that it leaves a trail of contamination wherever it goes, and even a single touch of its body is enough to turn an entire pool of water rancid. However, in the Pokémon: The Series, we see Ash's Muk wandering the grounds of Professor Oak's ranch and sometimes smothering Professor Oak or even Ash himself, but neither the grounds or the humans are ever harmed by Muk's touch. Perhaps they can choose whether or not to use that "power"? Of course, the Pokédex entries tend to be hard to believe sometimes (species of Pokémon that are often described as downright dangerous, are depicted as harmless or even friendly in the anime), making you wonder if some of the entries were more myth and rumor than fact.
    • The Legendary Pokémon Wo-chien is stated to drain life force from surrounding vegetation. Its mere presence causes entire forests to wither away and lush fields to become barren wastes.
  • Fangame Pokémon Clover features Endranther, a legendary Pokemon described as representing the decay and rot of death and it's found inside a pit full of bones, which itself is under a ruined town. It says something that, in a game full of vulgar humor and references to memes, Endranther is completely lacking comical elements.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: Revenants burn Soulfire, which produces the Fog that's killing life on the planet. Aeyr realizes that this means his very existence is a threat to all living things regardless of his intentions.
  • Several enemies in RAD leave behind a trail of toxic goo that'll damage the player. The player themselves can become this with the correct mutation leaving behind their own trail of toxic goo instead of their normal trail of plants and flowers.
  • Silent Hill 3: Heather, due to the evil god gestating inside of her, causes anywhere she goes to be encroached upon by the Dark World of the series, a place so twisted calling it a wasteland would be a compliment.
  • Inverted and played straight in Touhou Kanjuden ~ Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom. Junko purifies the fairy Clownpiece into a being of pure life energy and sends her to invade the Lunarians kingdom on the Moon, a process that introduces the concept of "life" to the already sterile Moon. However, with life also comes the concept of death, which threatens to rob the Lunarians of their immortality.
  • Warcraft:
    • In Warcraft 3, the Undead Scourge had the "Blight" which turned all land around Undead buildings into plagued wastelands and killed all trees and vegetation. In addition, in the final Night Elf level, Archimonde had an aura that had a similar effect. The land around him would be blighted as he walked.
    • World of Warcraft: In the introductory movie for the first release, the footsteps of a Forsaken warlock set fire to the grass he's walking on.
    • There's also the Corrupted Blood incident, where a boss had the ability to inflict a health-draining Status Effect that was also contagious. Since the player was allowed to leave during the fight, some players got the bright idea to infect themselves and then wander out into the world and spread the disease as much as they could, causing a virtual epidemic (even certain NPCs were infected, but unable to die thanks to NPC invulnerability.) Even when Blizzard cracked down on the plague, infected users would still find ways to break through the quarantines and spread it further. The incident is now used as a case study on the spread of real-life diseases like the swine flu.


    Web Original 
  • DSBT InsaniT: According to Andy, Slima once polluted all of the planets water by merely sinking into it.
  • Mortasheen: Hollowile has a lesser version of this, having a moisture draining aura surrounding it that turns leaves brown and brittle in its wake.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-073, a.k.a. Cain (yes, that Cain), has this as part of a curse from killing his brother- not only does he kill all plant life within 50 feet and render anywhere he's walked barren within two weeks, anything derived from plant life disintegrates at his touch. Likely related to the fact that he was a farmer, and he tried to bring the bad parts of his harvest as a sacrifice. He's still a fairly polite fellow.
    • SCP-106 is an extension of this and Plague Master, as it's a pocket-dimension dwelling Humanoid Abomination in the form of an extremely old, hideously diseased man covered in necrosis. The lucky victims die. Survivors look like corpses who've been festering in mass graves for several years, with their eyes, tongue, and most of their extremities all rotted off.
    • SCP-1440 once won a card game against Death and is now immortal. The problem is that every human and human-made thing in his vicinity is killed/destroyed. Given he is cursed to wander the world in a complex pattern that invariably forces him into contact with humans, the impossibility of containing him, and the evergrowing human population, the disasters he causes are unavoidable.
    • SCP-032 is implied to be modeled after his wife, and once he finds her on his travels she will permanently attach herself to him. The problem? Her presence destroys everything NOT created or manipulated by humans. So when he finds her, he'll just wander the earth destroying everything in his path, to remind him that he hasn't in fact won that game.
    • SCP-2207 "Dimensional Razor" is a plastic knife that can cut portals into alternate universes, however, the knife disconnects each universe from the multiverse when used, resulting in a case of Reality Is Out to Lunch. Exploration #28 features a farm where all the nearbly plants, and eventually a farmer and the D-Class woman who was sent through the portal, wither easily and die. It's because life is now impossible in that universe.
  • Beware of the eldritch power of pop music! That is Sergey Zverev. Be very afraid.
  • Trinton Chronicles: Xiion had this cursed upon him by a fairy. He gained a touch that can rot anything he touches, but only with his right hand.
  • Worm: Behemoth releases huge amounts of heat and radiation from its body. Anyone who isn't invulnerable that gets too close is instantly fried, while the radiation renders the land it walks on uninhabitable.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: The Lich causes everything he touches to die. How are Finn and Jake told to follow him? By following the path of death he leaves in his wake, a several-foot trench in the ground caused just by him moving over it.
  • Batman Beyond: Derek Powers, also known as Blight, being a walking piece of radioactivity whose proximity was both toxic and hot enough to soften metal. When making his first appearance in his superpowered form, he delivers a Badass Boast about how powerful his power of death was. Powers is also a great case of irony, since he was already a "blight upon the land" when he knowingly and illegally dumped toxins in the environment in his position as a Corrupt Corporate Executive. His subsequent transformation is really the metaphor made literal.
  • Ben 10:
    • Ben 10: Alien Force: Doctor Paradox's assistant got caught in an experimental time gate, warping him from the 1950s to the present day but also turning him into a humanoid monster who rapidly accelerates time, so much so that animals fossilize and concrete disintegrates by him touching them. The only two things shown to be unaffected by his contact are Doctor Paradox himself (as Paradox is unaffected by the passage of time, though he mentions that he can still feel the eons slipping by) and gumballs.
    • NRG in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien is a radioactive Energy Being who has to live in a bulky Power Limiter suit in order to avoid incinerating his surroundings.
  • Darkwing Duck: Galvanised NegaDuck. In "NegaDuck", Darkwing gets split into a good and evil side by a device that splits things in two by separating the two kinds of particles that all matter is composed of, the good positrons and the evil negatrons. (Yes, It Runs on Nonsensoleum.) When the evil negatron-Darkwing gets hit by the ray again, he becomes "galvanised", sparkling with energy capable of destroying his surroundings, and sets out to destroy Saint Canard.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Played for laughs in an episode where Timmy's Mom's negative affinity for plants is so pronounced that they instantly wither should she so much as brushes against one, making it difficult for her to grow her dream garden:
    Mom: (sobbing) Everything I touch dies! (people around her step back slowly)
    Dad: Oh, Dinkleberg! Don't you want to come over and give my wife a congratulatory hand-touch?
  • Grossology: Kid Rot, due to a science experiment gone wrong, causes everything around him to decay. In his initial appearance, he was a very sympathetic character and eventually discovered that things he rotted made for a compost that caused things to very rapidly regrow. However, this was dropped by his second appearance where he became less heroic and more insane. This insanity, of course, is due to the fact that his rotting powers are caused by some sort of parasite inhabiting his inner body. It's impossible to remove, and slowly took over his mind.
  • The Justice League Unlimited episode "The Greatest Story Never Told" features a man who is accidentally turned into a walking black hole, sucking in everything in sight.
  • The Legend of Vox Machina: All of the four ancient members of the Chroma Conclave qualify. Thordak, a red dragon, burns so hotly that merely walking down a city street melts almost anything in close proximity. Umbrasyl, a black dragon is able to rain acid from his wings that melt anything beneath him. Raishan, a green dragon, emanates almost instantly lethal poison gas that can spread miles from her body. Vorugal, a white dragon, can cause snow and ice to spread before he fully makes his own presence apparent.
  • Looney Tunes's Pepe LePew is a milder example of this. His pungent aroma causes flowers to wilt, men and beasts alike to scatter, even the artwork on the Louvre to crack and peel. There's also his occasional protege in Tiny Toon Adventures, Fifi LeFume, whose stench is even more potent, capable of melting metal. She seems to have far more control over it, however - most of the time.
  • Miraculous Ladybug gives us Cat Noir, a hero whose superpower, Cataclysm, withers and rots anything he touches. He never (purposely) uses it on people.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's King Sombra is so powerful that the sky automatically turns a Hellish red just to signal his incoming presence, and his Black Magic enables him to spread The Corruption (primarily in the form of massive dark crystals) over the entire land around him. Furthermore, his what-if Bad Future in the Season 5 finale reveals that he's now powerful enough to spread said effects over all of Equestria while his army invades it.
  • Ruby Gloom: Misery is a nine-year-old banshee girl who doesn't mean to be a walking disaster area. Her mishaps are usually a combination of clumsiness and extraordinary bad luck. Evidently, these traits run in her family, as Misery has had relatives who have been present at every single major disaster in recorded history.
  • Sushi Pack: The very presence of Sir Darkly causes everyone in the vicinity to instantly burst into tears, and wherever he goes flowers wilt, ice cream scoops fall off of cones, seesaws break, and water even freezes.
  • Tangled: The Series: The Hurt Incantation turns Rapunzel's hair into this, turning it black and draining life from anything it's touching.
    Wither and decay
    End this destiny
    Break these earthly chains
    And set the spirit free
    The spirit free
  • Teen Titans (2003) had Red Star, a Russian Super-Soldier created by the Mad Scientist Professor Chang. He produced massive amounts of radiation and was prone to explosive Super Power Meltdowns, forcing him to go into self-imposed exile in a nuclear power plant where he thought he could vent the energy safely. Unfortunately, the toxic waste ended up creating a monster that wreaked havoc on the surrounding area, which he got blamed for. After befriending Starfire he overcame his Power Incontinence through her encouragement and became a Flying Brick like her while no longer being a danger to others.
  • ThunderCats (1985) has Plutar, a one-shot villain who could make any organic matter he touched instantly rot and crumble, even massive trees. Fortunately, he has a Weaksauce Weakness: soap.
  • Visionaries: The staff power of Darkstorm is defined as Decay. Because of the program being a children's show, his power is only show to desiccate others, but not outright kill them.

    Real Life 
  • There's the real life Typhoid Mary, a private cook who spread typhoid to the families she worked for. She's well-known for her utter denial to believe she had the disease, to the point of being forcibly quarantined for the rest of her life so that she wouldn't infect anyone else. Although Mary Mallon was a carrier for the disease, she not only never displayed symptoms, but had actually tested clean for it at one point (due to being in temporary remission). In that time, the very idea that you could carry the disease and not fall ill yourself was a fairly recent discovery, and even in the scientific community, there were detractors.
  • Being irradiated, if media is to be believed. That depends primarily on the type of radiation the person has been exposed to. Gamma radiation is the smallest type and the most destructive, whereas alpha radiation (He 2+) can be blocked by clothing, and beta radiation (free electrons) can be blocked by slightly thicker objects. All can turn something else radioactive, though gamma is the most likely to do so due to its high energy.
  • Lung diseases caused by working with asbestos can affect not only the unlucky employee, but anyone in his family who hugs him or handles his clothes.
  • The mystery of Gloria Ramirez is still not conclusively solved, but the story of this California woman served as an inspiration for episodes of The X-Files, Law & Order, and Grey's Anatomy, along with the segment "Stink Bomb" of Memories 1995. After being rushed to the Riverside General Hospital while dying of cancer, Ms. Ramirez began to exude an oily, garlicky-smelling substance from her pores that caused nausea, fainting, muscle spasms, and other documented symptoms in those attempting to treat her. Eventually the entire emergency room had to be evacuated, leaving behind only a skeleton crew who tended to her as she died. The most likely explanation is that Ramirez had been taking dimethyl sulphoxide, or DMSO, which is sometimes used as an analgesic and is known to have this effect when taken orally. The levels in her bloodstream might have been abnormally high due to kidney failure, and when exposed to pure oxygen and several shocks from a defibrilator, the DMSO turned into DMSO4 (dimethyl sulphate), a highly toxic gas.
  • Secondhand smoke is well known to be dangerous to non-smokers.
  • During the Columbian Exchange, everywhere the Europeans went in the Americas, waves of disease followed, with casualty rates in the tens of millions. The resulting depopulation caused societal collapse throughout the western hemisphere, which led to the overgrowth of wild plants and animals in places that had been carefully cultivated — i.e., the better part of both continents. Why the European diseases were fatal to Native Americans and not the other way around is because Europeans had been exposed to more pathogens (due to long-standing overland and later sea trade with Asia) and a denser population of both humans and livestock.


Video Example(s):



Cernos, along with the other corrupted spirits, appears in a stormy cloud of dust that turns this lush, beautiful forest into a horrifying hellscape. After that happens, you'll have to find your eagle again, so everything can change back to normal. Oh, and whatever you do, don't let Cernos find you.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / WalkingWasteland

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