Evil Is Not a Toy

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Do not call up that which you cannot put down
—H. P. Lovecraft, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers of Sealed Evil in a Can use foolproof caps.

Sometimes Sealed Evil in a Can doesn't escape by itself, nor is it released by the Unwitting Pawn, but is deliberately set free by the villain. He expects either to control the sealed evil, or else to bargain with it.

This never works.

The Sealed Evil in a Can will turn on its releaser -- if it even has any concept of loyalty at all. The releaser may end up being killed on the spot, or he may be enslaved by the sealed evil. The sealed evil may make a bargain that it has no intention of following through upon (or it may promise the releaser he will be rewarded "as he deserves"... guess what he deserves?) or it may simply betray him or refuse to obey him. In any case, if he was the Big Bad before, he was really just a Disc One Final Boss; it's the sealed evil that's the true Big Bad. In the event that the releaser survives, this is a leading cause of Enemy Mine twists.

In some cases, the sealed evil was even manipulating the villain into freeing it, and you certainly don't get rewarded just for doing what you're expected to do, especially after You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. Other times, the evil being may ask the villain what exactly they expected when releasing an evil being.

This goes triple for anyone attempting to activate a hero's Super-Powered Evil Side. Unless you are The Emperor and would already be stronger than them, just remember: once they're evil, they no longer have any qualms about killing you.

If you're a villain, take note: Sealed evil should not be released unless you expect it to betray you. Also, it should be kept away from children under 3 as it has small parts and they may choke on it.

All too often the character will die horribly within seconds of uttering "Now its power is MINE!"

See also This Is Your Brain on Evil. If the villain created the evil in the first place, it's a case of Turned Against Their Masters. When it's literally an evil toy, may coincide with My Little Panzer. If the Evil in question is the Bigger Bad, expect the lesson to be particularly painful.

Examples of Evil Is Not a Toy include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Digimon, Ken does his Heel Face Turn after getting a demonstration of what true evil is like.
  • Kaolinite was instantly killed by Mistress 9 in Sailor Moon upon her revival. Likewise Metaria possessed Queen Beryl in the end of the first season. Actually, this happens quite a lot in Sailor Moon, to the point where it happens with nearly every major villain.
  • Emperor Pilaf, the comic relief villain from early Dragon Ball, ends up releasing evil incarnate Piccolo Daimaou to get revenge on Son Goku. Piccolo proves infinitely more competent than Pilaf ever was: not only does he kill several of Goku's friends, but he kills Shenlong, the show's resident Get Out of Death Free Card. Considering there's 300+ episodes afterward, though, rest assured: he gets better. Pilaf and his minions end up punted out of a moving airplane. Initially, it seemed as though they had learned from their mistakes; something like 300 episodes (approx. 40+ years in show) pass before they reappear to steal the Black Star Dragonballs... which ends in the entire planet blowing up. (Again.)
    • Also in Dragonball, Dr. Gero releases Androids 17 and 18, hoping to be able to control them with a remote control which 17 promptly takes away from him and breaks. A somewhat unusual case in that Gero was the one who created the Androids in the first place, and knew that he was taking a big gamble when he activated them.
    • Babidi revives Majin Buu and plans to use him to take over the world. Of course, things don't go as planned.
      • Initially, Buu does obey Babidi and shows no interest in betraying him, probably because he's too stupid to think of such things. Even when Babidi insults Buu and threatens to re-seal him, the clearly enraged Buu backs down. Until Goku points out that Buu is far stronger than Babidi and shouldn't take such abuse from him. Then Buu kills Babidi with a single punch to the face (which obliterates his head). Whether it was a good idea on Goku's part is rather questionable given Buu's later rampages, but Goku is deeply stupid anyway.
      • Also, the immediate consequences of Buu betraying Babidi are largely positive, since his capricious frolicking leads him to accidentally discover that Good Feels Good. Until a vigilante tries to kill him and nearly offs his new best friend in the process. Cue Enemy Without.
  • In The Slayers, the original Rezo found out that he would have to release Shabranigdo in order for Rezo to be able to open his own eyes; he believes he can adequately contain the lord of all demons thereafter, seal him back up, no harm done, right? It doesn't work out that way, mainly because Shabranigdo was actually sealed inside of Rezo; the very act of opening his eyes breaks the seal and allows Shabranigdo to take over his body.
    • Then there is Phibrizzo/Fibrizo, who arm-twists Lina into casting the Giga Slave, in hope that the released power of the Lord of Nightmares will consume the world. He does partly succeed... the Lord of Nightmares itself is released inside Lina's body. It then promptly obliterates Phibrizzo.
  • The Manhwa Priest uses this in the climax of its several volume long flashback; a corrupt order of priests have succeeded in opening the Domas Porada, the "can" (and it does rather resemble one) containing the fallen angel Temozerela, believing him to be their savior. Unfortunately, Temozerela isn't too fond of humans...he kills almost the entire order with a single breath (literally; he breathes at them and their heads explode), mocks the leader a bit, and them kills him by making demon faces sprout out all over the leader's body and bite him to death.
  • Hell Girl both subverts it and plays it straight. Ai can be summoned by humans through her website in a fairly simple manner and will kill the person she's ordered to as promised. However, as she warns you, the cost of having her do this is that you get dragged down to Hell upon your own death too. Also, over the course of the series, certain people make attempts to capture and/or control Ai for her abilities or to avoid the cost of her services, but that never works.
  • A literal case happens in Yu-Gi-Oh! when Pegasus takes ancient magic duels that nearly destroyed the world and resurrects them as a (supposedly non-magical) card game, thereby threatening to incur the wrath of the Egyptian God Monsters. No wonder the game soon became Serious Business. (And even after said gods were placated, the game continued to be a Weirdness Magnet for all sorts of mystical forces.)
    • To be fair, it's been suggested that his Millennium Eye influenced or possessed him to make the card game, and that was stuck in his head (by someone else) before he knew what it did. And he did learn part of the lesson, and re-sealed the Egyptian God Cards back in their temple.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, both Fubuki Tenjoin (Atticus Rhodes in the English dub) and Yusuke Fujiwara seem to have trouble grasping this concept and end up using a Mask of Power and developing (the same) Super-Powered Evil Side. Then there's Brron, Mad King of Dark World, who tries to defeat Juudai by forcing him into despair by killing his friends. This activates Juudai's Super-Powered Evil Side, and does not end well for Brron.
      • Not to mention that using certain cards for too long can give you heart problems (see:Ryo Marufuji/Zane Truesdale). As it says on the Just Bugs Me page for the series, who designs cards that do that!?
  • Tears to Tiara kicks off the plot with the evil High Priest Drwc releasing the Demon King Arawn from his 1000 years of slumber in the first episode. Arawn kills Drwc shortly afterward, but not for the usual reasons... Instead of being the Big Bad, Arawn actually turns out to be the Noble Demon protagonist.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: If setting up a family meeting just so you can sacrifice the whole lot of them to a witch to bring her back to life seems like a good idea, you probably need your head examined. Appropriately enough, Kinzo tends to be found dead on a regular basis. However, it turns out to be a subversion; he's been dead for more than a year.
  • This trope is a common theme in Chrono Crusade, usually having to do with the demons. The most obvious examples are the New York mobsters that think they can use demons as hit men, and Rosette's brother Joshua, whom accepted a Deal with the Devil to have a pair of demon horns on his head. Subverted with Rosette and Chrono—Sister Kate (and others) believe that Chrono will turn on Rosette, but it turns out he's not evil, but loyal and protective of her.
  • In Monster, various shady forces- a conspiracy or two consisting of Neo-Nazis, mad scientists, and ex-Secret Police amongst others- all want to use Johan to bring about their One World Order. Johan is not only, at time of writing, the literal poster boy for the Complete Monster trope, he is also implied to be The Antichrist. For real. As Tenma points out, he is not interested in ideas of racial or ethnic superiority, for he "laughs at all of humanity". Ultimately he plays along with their plans for his own ends- namely, The End of the World as We Know It-, only to suffer an existential crisis and murder them all as a kind of metaphorical "suicide", vis a vis erasing everyone and everything who has any significant connection to him, while planning to be shot by Tenma. The last part fails, but the conspirators' plan never had a hope.
  • In Bleach, relying on the Hogyouku for power proves to be Aizen's undoing. Even though he survives Ichigo's Mugetsu and is on the verge of attaining even greater power, the Hogyouku is so unimpressed with his performance in the past few chapters that it no longer considers him a worthy master and depowers him. This activates a kidou Urahara hid inside Aizen which turns him into a Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • In Naruto the First Hokage used his Wood Release techniques to capture several of the tailed beasts and divided them among the other shinobi villages both as peace treaties and to stabilize the balance of power. However, being monstrous embodiments of chakra energy, the villages had trouble just containing them and attempts to utilize their power often met with mixed result (Gaara and the Shukaku come to mind).
    • But completely averted with Madara, who was able to use his sharingan alone to bind the Kyuubi (the most powerful of the tailed beasts) to his will and attack both the Hokage and the Hidden Leaf Village separately (along with controlling the Sanbi and its human host in a flashback). Right now he's using the seven beasts he already captured to make 100,000 Zetsu from their chakra, with the overall goal of combining all the captured tailed beasts into one colossal ten-tailed beast, become its host, and use its power to place the entire world under his control with his Tsukuyomi technique. Whether or not his efforts will eventually bite him in the ass is up to the later chapters.
    • Also averted by Killerbee, for whom the more appropriate trope would be Evil Is A Toy And Also Your Best Friend. Though it's uncertain whether his sealed beast was ever really evil in the first place, since we only see them once they've become allies. Either way, the fact that Killerbee managed it (and that others have presumably done it in the past) means that it makes a bit more sense for others to try it, too.
      • The Hachibi admits itself that it was...not nice...before Bee befriended it.
  • In Star Driver, Glittering Crux gets a taste of this in episode 14 when their Maiden seeking Cybody Ayingott turns out to be an evil robotic horror that overpowers its own Driver and goes berserk. It immediately attacks the Crux leaders. Only Takuto's and Sugata's intervention prevents things from getting worse.
  • In chapter 242 of Fairy Tail, Zancrow gloats about retrieving Zeref. Seconds later, he is slain by a burst of Zeref's uncontrollable "Death Magic".
  • Alan Gabriel in The Big O learns the hard way what happens when somebody thinks the Megadeuces are just a type of Humongous Mecha. Ye Guilty

Comic Books

  • A lot of Hellboy's enemies seem to think that they can use the Right Hand of Doom and Ogdru Jahad for their own ends (even Hell), while it is implied that they would merely destroy all of reality.
  • Sebastian Shaw, foe of the X-Men, helped to develop and secure funding the mutant-hunting Sentinels, figuring if he builds them instead of someone else, he can instill a Restraining Bolt to keep them from recognizing him as a mutant. This led to the Days of Future Past, a Bad Future where the Sentinels Turned Against Their Masters and waged a genocidal war on mutants everywhere.
  • In one Witchblade/Tomb Raider crossover comic, a haughty socialite goes to great lengths to summon the goddess Bastet, without ever considering whether she could actually control a divine being. When she wishes to be kept out of prison, the goddess remarks that this is easily arranged, and sics a pet lion on her.
  • Doctor Strange used the power of the demonic entity Zom to bolster his magics on at least two occasions. Both times the power used him far more than he used it, and after the second time he renounced both it and the mantle of "Sorcerer Supreme."
  • In "Siege", Norman Osborn and Loki realize just how badly they underestimated Sentry/Void's power and evil.

Fan Works

  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Whispers implies that Princess Luna transformed into Nightmare Moon by intentionally tapping into evil magic out of bitter jealousy, apparently overestimating her ability to handle it.


  • In Disney's The Return of Jafar, Abis Mal gets pressed into servitude after accidentally summoning the genie Jafar. Jafar accomplishes this by constantly threatening violence against Abis. (The hapless thief is aware that in his world, genies cannot kill, but Jafar keeps repeating ominously, "You'd be surprised what you can live through.")
    • Also, Jafar is the epitome of the Jackass Genie, so it's not like he can make his wishes and be on his way.
  • Another Disney example would be The Princess and the Frog. The "Friends on the Other Side" are not at all friendly, as Dr. Facilier realizes way too late in the finale.
  • In the 2009 Astro Boy movie, Stone is very enamored of the explicitly evil Red Core. Experience fails to teach him that you must not play with it.
  • In Marvel's Hulk Vs animated movie, Loki in order to defeat Thor removes Bruce Banner from the Hulk and then uses magic to try and control the Hulk. This doesn't last long as the Hulk's rage soon overcomes Loki's control and the Hulk runs around destroying all of Asgard.
  • In Batman: Under the Red Hood Black Mask has some idea of what is going to happen if he releases The Joker.

Black Mask: I'm being forced into negotiating with a psychotic.
Ms. Li: That doesn't sound good.
Black Mask: No. It's going to be a nightmare.

    • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Sal Valestra enlists the Joker's help as a hitman against Batman, whom he thinks his killing off mob bosses. The Joker promptly murders Valestra to use as bait for the hit he himself ordered.
  • In Hellraiser, Frank Cotton releases four demons with the magical cube, which looks quite like some toy. Of course, they don't exactly reward him.
    • It's neither a reward nor a punishment. The Cenobites' job is to bring the summoner to the heights of "pain and pleasure", at least in the first film. The summoners never really understand what they're getting into.
    • Probably even more true for Hellbound: Hellraiser II where Dr. Channard's obsession with the Lament Configuration ultimately leads to him becoming horrifically tortured and turned into a Cenobite himself. He's horrified at first, but in the end...And to think, I hesitated.
  • Ivan Ooze in Power Rangers: The Movie. He traps Zedd and Rita into a snow globe shortly after freed.
    • In Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, the villainess Divatox wants to resurrect the demon Maligore and marry him to gain untold power. When she does, he starts attacking everyone, and is ultimately destroyed by the Rangers.
  • In The Mummy Returns, a museum curator, Hafez, deliberately digs up and raises Imhotep, thinking that Imhotep would defeat the Scorpion King. The fact that this would lead to an evil undead ruling the whole world apparently didn't cross the curator's mind. That or it did and Hafez figured Imhotep would let him help rule the world.
    • Actually, it might have something to do with the fact that the Scorpion King was going to bring about The End of the World as We Know It - Hafez probably thought Imhotep ruling the world would be better than it being destroyed.
  • In Fido, the kid takes his pet zombie to the park to play catch. When the collar controlling its zombie nature malfunctions, it eats an old lady and nearly starts a new Zombie Apocalypse. The adults of the movie barely punish him for this.
    • At least partially justified in that it's less the adults letting him off with a slap on the wrist, and more them acknowledging that there really wasn't any way Timmy could have predicted that Fido's collar would malfunction, nor could Timmy have controlled Fido, even if he had been able to predict the malfunction. And also, they were acknowledging that while Timmy had screwed up, he'd at least tried to fix his mistakes. Notably, by going out and killing the zombified old lady (by decapitating her with a shovel!), and then burying her. Granted, she'd already killed someone by then - but he couldn't see the body from where he found her, and it's implied that his knowledge of how long it takes someone to go from 'dead corpse' to 'zombie' was a bit fuzzy. Plus, the truth behind how someone died without Zombcon finding out shortly after was covered up; any open punishment they could have given Timmy would have brought the cover story into question.
    • The collar also wouldn't have malfunctioned if Mrs. Henderson hadn't been repeatedly hitting Fido with her walker. Really, she brought it on herself.
  • In the third Pirates of the Caribbean film, At World's End, both Barbossa and Beckett are convinced they have what it takes to keep evil on a leash and working for them. First, there's Calypso, a vicious pagan goddess bound in human form by pirate lords, who Barbossa—a pirate lord himself—disrespectfully throws in the brig, with the intention of unleashing her on Beckett. Then, there's Davy Jones, Calypso's ex-lover turned heartless Reaper, who Beckett has enslaved and intends to have take on the entire Brethren Court for him. This, inevitably, works out for neither of them.
  • The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice - A group of former KGB agents, wishing to restore the Soviet Union, try to resurrect Vlad Dracula in order to create an army of invincible undead soldiers. They hope to control the infamous vampire by using the Judas Chalice, but it's revealed that the handicapped vampire-obsessed professor they brought with them was in fact a disguised Dracula, who proceeds to feast on the men and turn them into his vampiric minions.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, Freddy provokes Jason into rising up and attacking the teens of Springwood, in order to stir up a fresh generation's fear and give himself the power that'll let Krueger resume killing also. It works, but the two killers wind up sparring over a dwindling supply of victims rather than rampaging freely.
  • Dr. Flemming in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra basically becomes the titular skeleton's bitch after resurrecting him.
  • Dr. Cocteau in Demolition Man brings convicted criminal Simon Phoenix out of cryogenic imprisonment and gives him all sorts of Crazy Awesome weapons and combat training so he will kill rebel leader Edgar Friendly. Since Phoenix is already an Ax Crazy terrorist and mass murderer, this ends badly for Dr. Cocteau.
  • In the film version of The Wave, a teacher starts a youth movement to make his lessons about autocracies more immersive. While the students initially play along just to humor him, the Wave soon spreads beyond his control. Realizing that he also got into his leader role a bit too much, he summons the class together to call the whole thing off and show what they have become. The class outcast refuses to believe it and whips out a loaded gun.
  • In The Dark Knight: The mob finally turns to The Joker to take down their ever-growing nemesis Batman. However, they don't fully understand what drives the Joker...


  • "Evil is not a toy! It is a highly-collectible deluxe action figure."


  • At the climax of C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle, Rishda Tarkaan summons Tash into Narnia. (Oddly enough, he does this unintentionally: he doesn't even believe in Tash, but to support the imposter-Aslan, he claimed that Aslan and Tash are one and the same. Tash hears and decides to pay a visit.) The evil spirit immediately turns on its summoner; fortunately, Aslan (the real one) intervenes before the scene can get any uglier.
  • Discworld:
    • In the novel Guards! Guards! Lupine Wonse, the Patrician's Evil Chancellor, summons an actual dragon for a carefully groomed hero to 'slay' so the hero can be installed as king, with himself as the brains behind the throne. He still got the position of being the aide of the king... when the dragon roasted the faux hero and took the crown itself.
    • Also referenced in Eric:

Any wizard bright enough to survive for five minutes was also bright enough to realise that if there was any power in demonology, then it lay with the demons. Using it for your own purposes would be like trying to beat mice to death with a rattlesnake.

    • Likewise, the wannabe witch girls in Lords and Ladies fooled around with elves, despite the old wives' warnings. Disaster ensued, because elves are Not Nice.
    • An interesting twist in Witches Abroad: Lilith's not-a-toy evil turned on her in the form of her own reflection. Definitely Karmic Death.
  • In Glen Cook's Black Company novels, the Lady was originally bound by the White Rose along with her husband, the Dominator, and their henchmen: the Ten Who Were Taken (nice name for a metal band, eh?). The Dominator, the Lady, and the Taken were also Sealed Evil in a Can. Resurrectionist cults tried to bring them back and all but The Dominator had been released by a wizard named Bomanz who wanted to use the Lady's power, tricked by both the Lady and the Resurrectionists. And then the Lady cracked down on the Resurrectionists like no one before.
  • In Terry Brooks' The Tangle Box, Horris Kew and Biggar release the Gorse from its prison, and it enslaves them with the intent to send them down the Box when they are no longer useful. In the end, it is Horris who saves the King.
  • In Robert Weinberg's A Calculated Magic, the Big Bad is Nergal, described as the Babylonian god of disease and decay, who was summoned into the present by the character we meet as his Dragon, who had been trying to summon a demon. Nergal's first reaction was to grip the Dragon's wrist, leaving a set of fingerprint-like spots of pure disease potential, and warns that if the Dragon ever betrays him, that potential will become full-blown...
  • "Do not call up that which you cannot put down" was the advice given to a necromancer from "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward." He didn't listen.
    • Also known as "Never summon anything bigger than your head". But size can be misleading.
  • In Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, evil priest Pryrates casts a massive spell to bring the undead Storm King back into the world, with the promise that he would be "first among men". He is, indeed, the first... to be killed. It doesn't help that he tries to pull a Starscream on the Storm King first.
  • As big as the Star Wars Expanded Universe is, you know this trope had to come up somewhere. Grand Admiral Thrawn went and fetched the insane clone; but his original was just as bad Jedi Master Joruus C'baoth off the low-tech world he had been stuck on and ruling in order to get C'baoth to use his Battle Meditation and make Thrawn's forces that much more effective. In return, C'baoth wanted Force-Sensitives, specifically Leia's as-yet-unborn kids. C'baoth had delusions of grandeur, and poor Pellaeon kept telling his boss that having any plans involving someone so unstable was a very bad idea. Thrawn did have plans set up for the inevitable betrayal, at least, but that point where C'baoth took control of an entire Star Destroyer was... unnerving.
  • In the Old Kingdom books, it was pretty much inevitable that some upstart necromancer was going to try to tap into the power of the Lightning Trap. Anyone who actually managed it got recruited by the Destroyer to help bust him out of his can. Chlorr pretty much just ended up as another minion.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels short story Blood Debt, Ramius Stele tries to summon a daemon for study, but makes a mistake and the daemon gets free. Things go to hell very quickly.
  • In Dark Lord of Derkholm, Derk is required to summon a demon (and a God) as part of an elaborate play-adventure to entertain tourists from our world. It's not that he doesn't realize it's dangerous, but he's left with no other choice, and he hopes to get a demon small enough that he can control it. He doesn't.

Derk: Why me?
Tripos: Because you are more easily put aside than other wizards, of course.

    • Although as it turned out, Tripos, the Demon King he summoned, was more interested in recovering his enslaved mate from the Big Bad than wreaking havoc in the world. Tripos actually ends up being quite helpful and they couldn't have freed the world from Chesney if Derk had not summoned him.
  • Draco Malfoy learns this the hard way in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when he replaces his incarcerated father as a Death Eater, but soon finds himself in way over his head when the Big Bad orders him to perform an almost impossible task (assassinate Dumbledore) under penalty of his entire family being killed.
    • In the same book, Harry himself learns mysterious pseudonyms are not toys either, no matter how helpful they've been in the past. He tries casting "Sectumsempra" on Malfoy, without knowing what it does, and is horrified to find out it vivisects the target.
  • In the sequel series to The Elenium, The Tamuli, God of Evil Cyrgon decides to summon Klael, a being of infinite power and malevolence, capable of crushing Gods like ants and eating Eldritch Abominations for breakfast, and tries to control said being and make it his minion. That's just asking for trouble. It didn't end well for Cyrgon, predictably enough.
  • In the Biblical book of Genesis, chapter 3, God creates a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, places it in the garden with His creations, and commands the man and woman not to eat any of the fruit from it lest they die.
  • In Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archives Nazis from an Alternate Universe have summoned an Eldritch Abomination to help them defeat the Allies, win the Second World War, carve Hitler's face into the Moon and generally help them rule the world and lord it all over all creation. Unfortunately, none of them considered the possibility that the Eldritch Abomination might decide that it was time to eat them after finishing off everything else. End result: the Nazis end up as dead as everyone else and that universe faces final entropic heat death several tens of billions of years early.
    • In The Fuller Memorandum, later in the series, the main character paraphrases the Lovecraft quote from above when some amateur cultists try to use him as the host for a summoned Eldritch Abomination - and screw it up very badly.
    • In The Jennifer Morgue Billington intends to fish an ancient continent-crushing war machine created by one of elder races from oceanic depths and repair it because its controlling intelligence mind screwed him into obedience when he tried to contact it.
  • One of the Robin Jarvis books has a powerful warlock releasing a giant serpent from its magical sleep, believing that he can use his magic to control it. And he's right. When it awakens its will is weak enough that he takes control of it. Then he gets distracted. By the time he can pay attention again its properly awake, and obliterates him.
  • Averted in the non-canon S.D. Perry Resident Evil novel Underworld, in which an anti-Umbrella command team get trapped in an Umbrella Weapons testing lab (which lacks a self-destruct.) When they finally escape, they discover a B.O.W. of extreme power frozen in cryostorage, they wake it up so that it can wipe out the facility for them. It works.
  • Nakajima of Digital Devil Story learns this lesson very painfully after he summons the demon Loki to kill two of his classmates. After biding his time, Loki turns on Nakajima, and almost succeeds in killing him.
  • In The Shattered World, the leader of the Circle plots to release the spirit of the Necromancer from its tomb, convinced that the arch-sorcerer who'd shattered the planet centuries ago could be forced to put it back together. The novel's protagonists are Genre Savvy enough to see this trope in the making, and rush to stop this scheme. Subverted, as the revived ghost of the Necromancer lacks the power to reassemble the world, and turns out not to be evil after all; rather, he's the reason why anyone survived the Earthshattering Kaboom in the first place.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The God in the Bowl," Kallian opened a sealed bowl, intending to steal any valuables and claim burglary. He's found dead due to releasing what is apparently a friggin' naga from its prison.
  • Anyone who attempted to use The One Ring or a Palantir against The Lord of the Rings learned very harshly that the evil corrupting these items answered to one master and one master only.
  • Randall Flagg of The Dark Tower goes through great lengths in order for Roland's (and the Crimson King's) son Mordred to be born. He is killed later for underestimating what he created.
  • Victor Sells in The Dresden Files summons a demon to eat Dresden, not realizing that anyone who heard him name the demon could also control it, only to have Dresden release the demon from Sells' control. Sells doesn't live to regret his mistake.
  • Merrin Meredith in Septimus Heap fetches the Two-Faced Ring and puts it on so that he can use its powers to kill his arch-enemy Septimus Heap. The ring proceeds to almost squashing off his thumb.

Live-Action TV

  • The Master ends up pleading in terror after unsealing the Daemon in the Doctor Who serial The Daemons.
    • This also happened earlier in The Tomb of the Cybermen:

Klieg: Are you listening? Do you understand me? Now that I have released you-- ARGGHH... Let me go! I set you free! It was our plan!

    • And to Davros, who discovered that he had absolutely no control whatsoever over his Dalek creations. Of course, seeing as how the Doctor had warned him that the Daleks were utterly uncontrollable by anyone not of their race, and how Davros himself had specifically removed all positive emotions (basically, everything besides hatred and self-love) to "ensure they would be the ultimate survivors", this is perhaps more a case of Davros being Too Egotistic/Stupid/Psychotic to Live.
    • A double dose in The End of Time. In the first case, the Master is brought back by some kind of cult that wanted Mr. Saxon back; then later, he makes the same mistake when he brings back the Time Lords, who want to end time itself.
  • The X-Files: "Did you really think you could summon up the devil and then expect him to behave?"
  • In Power Rangers Jungle Fury, Jarrod (accidentally) releases Dai Shi from his box. Dai Shi promptly possesses Jarrod's body. (On a side note, the box containing the ancient über-evil opened when it was dropped on the ground. You'd think the Pai Zhua masters would lock the box or something, but no.)
    • Not to mention that Dai Shi keeps releasing more and more overlords, even though in his human shape he's weaker than all of them. The third is finally fed up enough to boot Dai Shi off the throne and take it for himself.
  • Inverted in Angel when an already free demon possesses a boy, expecting to use him as a host. The boy turns out to be Eviler Than Thou, and the demon finds himself trapped inside.
    • Played straight when Gunn attempts to get help from the conduit in "A Hole in the World":

Conduit: This is the part where I need to be clear. I am not your friend. I am not your flunky. I am your conduit to the senior partners, and they are tired of your insolence. Oh, yeah. They are not here for your convenience.

    • A room of Wolfram and Hart lawyers discover this after reuniting Darla and Drusilla. Once restored to a vampire (which was part of Wolfram and Hart's plan too) Darla turns out to be rather upset about having been brought back human, dying, and forced to ask for help.
  • In Cast a Deadly Spell where the villain attempts to release the Great Old Ones into the world. Guess he should have made sure he used a real virgin.
  • In one episode of Relic Hunter a monk tricks Sydney and Nigel into helping him unleash a demon which promptly kills him. The "evil" abbot who tried to prevent it happening turned out to have been the good guy all along.
  • The seasonal Chessmaster Big Bads of Heroes regularly fall victim to this in regards to Sylar. They regularly try to recruit him as their Dragon, or at least use him as a pawn in their schemes. After going along for a few episodes, he regularly turns around and makes things end very badly for them. Bennet even lampshades this to Danko: "Just how dumb are you? Who did you think would be left standing the moment Sylar got bored? You?"
  • In the last season of DS9, Gul Dukat hatches an evil scheme that involves freeing the pa wraiths (basically, Bajoran devils) sealed deep inside the planet. It doesn't end well.
    • However, it should be noted that it only blew up in his face because Sisko interfered and stopped him. Up till that point, everything went according to plan - up to and including being possessed by the Wraiths and essentially becoming The Antichrist. He wanted that to happen. A straighter example is Kai Winn, who figured she could control both the Pah Wraiths and Dukat. It ended about as well as you would expect.
    • Earlier in the series, Dukat also thought that he could leverage an alliance with the Dominion into a position of greater galactic influence for the Cardassian Union. In fairness, he was actually managing fairly well until he got captured by The Federation; it was under his incompetent, drunken successor that the alliance turned sour.
  • Something of an heroic example on Star Trek: Voyager, with Janeway's attempt to ally with the Borg against Species 8472. Thankfully, the crew was Genre Savvy enough to prepare for the Borg's inevitable betrayal.
  • A frequent occurrence in Supernatural. The major example is apparently Lucifer, who according to Crowley would have destroyed the demons as soon as he no longer needed them.
    • The witch who summoned the demon Samhain, and was immediately killed after he had a body.
    • The idiotic amateur witch who summoned a demon without any kind of protection. It possessed his friend, and offered him "gratitude" instead of the rewards they'd been promised for killing Dean. Then he complained to it about how hard he'd worked and demanded something more, at which point it killed him.
  • Yapool in the Ultraman Mebius film, Mebius & the Ultra Brothers. Once Alien Nackle (Who was part of a group of aliens with the same goal until the rest were killed by Mebius) succeeded in releasing him... Yapool kills him shortly after, having no need for him anymore.
    • Seen again the Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle film, when Alien Zarab releases the genuinely EVIL Ultra, Ultraman Belial from a space prison and presents him with a weapon that can control 100 monsters. *Belial however kills Zarab shortly after, not wanting to form an alliance with anyone..
  • Ineffective Comedy Villains Andrew and Jonathon from Buffy were both prone to fiddling with magic they didn't understand, and unleashing horrible demons into the world.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • The Ars Goetia includes instructions for making sure that conjured demons don't show up in Eldritch Abomination form, but as something more comprehensible...but given the angels described in the book of Ezekiel, this would apply whether or not they had/have a low opinion of humanity. However, there are four exceptions, besides the pomp-and-sycophantry-loving kings (Beleth, Belial, etc.), who get special instructions.
    • Phenex: Don't listen to his song; in fact, interrupt it as soon as possible (the text doesn't say why, but there's an implication that the conjuror risks becoming Phenex's errand boy...at best).
    • Valefor: Beware of his temptations to become a robber; he's trying to get you caught and executed.
    • Malphas: Yes, he accepts sacrifices happily, but that opens the gate for him to start deceiving you.
    • Andras: Follow the binding procedures to the letter, and ignore every temptation he sends at you to do otherwise. Otherwise? He becomes free to KILL you and every single one of your associates. (No surprise that Andras's powers are causing murder and sowing discord.)
  • It is a customary rule in all magic-using religions that you do not conjure up something that is stronger than you are. If you don't have the power to send it away again, things can get ugly very quickly.
    • Which begs the question of why you'd bother in the first place, since if you're powerful enough to control an entity, you most likely don't need its services.
      • Maybe the summoner has more skill with Summon Magic than with other types. Umineko no Naku Koro ni has an example of this type with Kinzo- it says in the TIPS that he "can't even use enough magic to reheat tea, but it is possible for him to summon demons that can use enough magic to boil the sea."

Tabletop Games

  • The Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook "Elder Evils" features several evils sealed in cans. One of these, Pandorym, is so alien it might as well add another axis to the alignment diagrams. Plus it's angry. Good luck controlling that.
    • The Inevitable trying to release Pandorym isn't doing so for its own benefit, though. It basically just thinks Pandorym got cheated on a contract and is trying to redress that "wrong."
    • For that matter, trying to summon any being from the Lower Planes without casting spells to protect yourself and/or contain the creature in question is guaranteed to end badly. A reckless demon summoning will result in both the enemies and the party being killed, if not worse.
  • In any RPG based on the Cthulhu Mythos, one of the villains will be trying to unleash an Elder God not to end the world, but to harness its power. To date, not one of them has ever succeeded.
  • The backstory for Warlord villain Avinaar Esmerek looks like one of these, with the heroes finding an ancient temple, obviously recently disturbed, full of prophesies about the awful things that will happen if the being entombed there ever awakens. However, in the final room he is found Killed Off for Real, with a message from the mysterious Avinaar explaining that he unsealed this evil just to have a worthy foe - and it was too weak, anyway. Cue panic.
  • More than a few denizens of Warhammer 40,000 have made the stunningly catastrophic mistake of treating Chaos or something devised by the Necrons like this. Evil Is Not a Toy, and neither are Cosmic Horrors.
    • In an especially interesting example, excellent fanfic "The Emperor's Finest"[1] has, as a plot point, a son of Khorne being summoned and incarnated simply to provide an Ax Crazy daemon prince with a decent fight. The people who try to summon it don't even think about what would happen if it got loose.
  • A website referenced a Vampire: The Masquerade game where evil cultists wanted to revive and enslave Cain, the first vampire, while the PCs were to behold the impending doom, their hands carefully tied. Due to a PC heroically tossing his shoe to one of the cultists, the ritual was screwed up: Cain was revived but not enslaved, and the rest of the world was safe(ish).
    • This is how one Gehenna scenario ends for the Followers of Set. The clan as a whole descends from an insanely powerful vampire they believe to be the god Set from Egyptian mythology, and worship him by tempting others into wickedness. Well, when he finally wakes from his millennia-long slumber, he can't believe his childer would stoop so low as to worship him, and starts eating them like popcorn.
  • In GURPS, summoning a demon is temptingly easy to do, even for an inexperienced mage. The probable reason is that demons want to be summoned—by people who can't control them.

Video Games

  • When the Sonic the Hedgehog series got into more complex plots, Dr. Eggman got into the notable habit of doing this.
    • In Sonic Adventure, Dr. Eggman releases Chaos and feeds it Chaos Emeralds. It obeys him for a while, but eventually turns on him.
    • Also, Eggman releasing Shadow the Hedgehog from his suspended animation in a military base in Sonic Adventure 2.
    • Dark Gaia was released from his can (which was the planet, no less) within the first few seconds of Sonic Unleashed, only to break apart and be of no use to anyone, at first. Yet when fully restored, Dark Gaia immediately sends Eggman flying when he tries to control it.
    • In Sonic Generations, Eggman averts this, as he takes control of a time-erasing creature by mechanizing it and it never turns on him.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines played with this quite epically: sealed evil is just a good bunch of TNT, but hey, works just as good!
  • Tales of Phantasia: Mars burns down the protagonists' town just to get one of the keys to unseal Dhaos. The first thing Dhaos does when unsealed is to disintegrate Mars. Well, that's the second; the first thing is to reveal that he himself had manipulated Mars to unseal him.
  • In an early chapter of Shin Megami Tensei II, you are sent to track down the scientist Mekata, and find him opening a gate to the Abyss so he can access an unlimited supply of demon servants. He directs the first demon he gets to kill you... and it immediately kills him instead. Turns out he botched the ritual...
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Katarina resurrects Heinrich, who turns her into some sort of weak zombie slave.
  • An odd case of this happens in Mortal Kombat: Deception; Big Bad Onaga tricks Shujinko into bringing together the Kamidogu to revive him, then takes them all for himself afterwards in order to fuse all the realms into one. This, in turn, turns out to be another ploy by an even bigger Big Bad, the One Being, who is manipulating Onaga into doing so to revive it, with Onaga's ultimate "reward" being non-existence. And, as a backup plan, the One Being also manipulated Onaga's traitorous successor, Shao Kahn, into conquering realms to fuse with Outworld to achieve the same goal. So far only Ermac, Shao Kahn's former enforcer, seems to be aware of his presence.
    • The Elder Gods also know about the One Being (they did the sealing, after all), however, they are idiots.
  • In Gunstar Heroes The 4 Treasure Gems fry General Gray after completing the Boss Rush and reveal the real final boss.
  • Kingdom Hearts deserves special mention here, as this trope is a recurring theme in its story. Riku gives himself over to the Darkness at the very beginning of the game, thinking it's an easy way off his world and into the adventure he craves. It ends up separating him from his friends, destroying his homeworld, and apparently devouring the heart of the girl he and his best friend like. Oh, and it also denies him a glorious destiny as the wielder of the Keyblade, but he doesn't learn that until later. He only blunders worse from there on. Having not yet learned his lesson, he makes a deal with Maleficent so he can try and find his friends, and he actively dives into the power of darkness to try and find Kairi's missing heart. When that doesn't work, he makes another deal with some figure he can't even see for more power, which winds up costing him possession of his own body. He finally starts saying "No to Drugs," but it takes him the rest of the first game, all of the next, and most of the third to deal with the consequences.
    • In addition to all this is Ansem's story (which is really Xenanort's story, as it turns out "Ansem" was really someone else posing as Ansem) in trying to get into Kingdom Hearts, where he plunged headfirst into the Darkness and turned himself into a Heartless. But apparently, he actually needs a physical body to open the door to Kingdom Hearts. Oops. When he finally manages to open the door, the Light within Kingdom Hearts proves to be his undoing. Oops again.
    • Birth By Sleep reveals that Evil really is not a toy. Use of Darkness be it for good or evil weakens the body's natural Light defenses against other darkness users. Hence trying to fight a stronger darkness user with darkness won't work very well and will just make them hurt you more. Hence Terra who mastered his own power of darkness and swore to wield it against evil and for the sake of his friends (manifested in gameplay by him acquiring a dark Keyblade and an attack called Dark Impulse) uses it against the Big Bad and even manages to defeat him with it and then Xenahort unlocks his own heart and sends it into Terra, which Terra whose light defenses are weakened from the use of dark power is unable to resist, causing Xenahort to take control of Terra's body. Evil Is Not a Toy or in this case something that can be used without consequence kids!
      • While Dark Is Not Evil, Evil is still not a toy, and neither is darkness. It is possible to control the Darkness (Riku finally managed it in his story in game 2) but it is NOT something to take lightly. There's a reason that King Mickey told Riku that losing the power of darkness was a good thing, despite all the past talk about it not being evil.
      • Vanitas also deserves a special mention here. He is Ventus's Super-Powered Evil Side which was extracted from Ventus's heart and body by Master Xehanort. At the end of Birth By Sleep, he possesses an unlimited army of evil underlings and a nigh omnipotent weapon capable of bending reality and plunging the worlds into neverending war. This is especially distressing because 1) he's a maniac and 2) earlier in the game he showed no remorse over disobeying Master Xehanort's express orders. In all likelihood, he would have just killed his "master" and wreaked havoc all over the universe had Aqua and Ventus not stopped him.
  • This happens many times in the MMORPG City of Heroes. In every single case, it's up to the player characters to clean up the mess.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the Shadow Queen blows Grodus up after he commands her after freeing her. He thought he could because the Shadow Queen's true servants tricked him.
    • It also parodies this trope. Throughout the game, the player encounters four black treasure chests with a voice inside them, each of which begs the player to open them and set them free. When freed, the beings in the chest laugh evilly, change the background music to sound more evil, and then gloat about how they have tricked the player and will now curse him. In each case, the "curse" is actually a new ability. This is actually intentional on the part of the "evil" beings, who were the former heroes who sealed the Shadow Queen.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Fawful attempts to harness the Dark Star, a being of raw evil, to gain ultimate power, but it overpowers him to become the real final boss.
  • This was oddly double subverted in Wild ARMs and the Alter Code F remake. The Sealed Evil in a Can, Mother, was being awakened by her Demon children. But once she was released, she told them that she was going to destroy the world, which is at odds with her children's desire to rule the world. So these Demons then betray Mother, helping the heroes to destroy Mother so that it will clear the way for them to rule the world. Mother of course turns out to be Not Quite Dead; she possesses the leader of the Demons, thus fulfilling the trope.
  • The arcade game House of the Dead reaches its climax as the Big Bad Doctor Curien unleashes his most powerful creation, Magician Type 0, and commands it to attack the main characters. You can guess what happens to the Doctor.
  • Subversion, at the end of the first Resident Evil game Albert Wesker tries to unleash the most powerful of the Umbrella Corporation's virus born monsters (the Tyrant) on the main characters. Of course he gets a claw to the torso for his trouble but in the later games it turns out he planned it all along and injected himself with a virus which put him in a deathlike state and gave him superhuman abilities.
    • Played totally straight in Resident Evil: Outbreak File #2. In the last level, "End of the Road" a visibly nuts Umbrella researcher releases a Tyrant to destroy the loose hunters, over the objections of the only competent Umbrella employee in the whole series. Guess how it ends.
  • In Chrono Trigger it's a common belief that Magus attempts to awaken Lavos to play with it before being foiled by the heroes. Subverted; later, if given a chance, he explains that he really wanted to summon Lavos to destroy it. Given the fact that unaltered history went on to having the Mystics lose the war due to Magus' disappearance while Lavos' influence temporarily lessened due to the summoning, it would seem he fought Lavos and only managed to weaken it at the cost of his own life.
    • Also in Chrono Trigger we have a highly magical floating city of Zeal, whose ruler tries to harness the power of the world-destroying Lavos. As a result the queen goes insane and the city comes crashing down when Lavos gets angry.
  • In the LucasArts adventure game Loom, the head of the Guild of Clerics makes ominous plans to rule the world with an army of the dead. As soon as he opens a portal to the world of the dead, its ruler Chaos floats through and kills him in a rather gruesome manner.
  • Everyone who uses the Emigre Manuscript in Shadow Hearts assumes that, unlike the poor bastards before them, they'll be able to hold it together long enough to bring their loved ones Back from the Dead. They usually end up a statistic. The only time it works properly, it requires a Heroic Sacrifice and still produces an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Fire Emblem; repeatedly. Spoilers ahoy!
    • Fire Emblem 7's Big Bad Nergal fully devoted himself to the dark arts in order to rescue his wife. Said dark arts consumed his free will.
    • Fire Emblem Sacred Stones Prince Lyon of Grado tries to use his country's sacred stone to heal his ailing father. Good idea, except he knows the Demon King's soul is imprisoned inside, but he's sure he can control it. Not only does it control him, but it kills his father, resurrects it as a zombie, and promptly declares war against the world. Oh, and it consumes Lyon's soul by the end of the game. Oops.
    • Path of Radiance Mad King Ashnard declares war and pisses everyone off so he can generate enough chaos to unlock Lehran's Medallion and free the dark god inside. Luckily you stop him before it happens.
    • Radiant Dawn Averted. Winds up Lehran is still alive and well. And he starts another war, hoping to break the medallion. He doesn't want the god trapped inside though. But if she wakes up, her counterpart will wake up and turn everyone to stone. And that's exactly what he wants.
      • Radiant Dawn also retroactively averts Path of Radiance for this trope: the "dark god" imprisoned within the medallion is actually not a dark god at all, merely the embodiment of chaos, emotion, and free will. Which means Ashnard was never using evil like a toy to begin with.
  • In the World of Warcraft instance of The Arcatraz, the end boss fight consists of a guy releasing monsters to attack the players. In the end he unleashes a big alien/demon/god and gets promptly killed by it.
    • Similarly, high-level Warlocks can summon creatures which may break free of their bonds and attack the player themselves, though they rarely succeed in killing them.
    • The warlocks of Auchindoun are particularly bad about this, apparently spending their entire time summoning up things they can't control and desperately trying not to get killed by them. One boss has an entire room full of people keeping it banished so it can't kill them. And the final boss has an entire, bigger, room full of people attacking it and being killed as they try to stop it getting out.
    • Also, the second boss of Trial of the Crusader is a demon summoned by a Gnome Warlock. He accidentally summons a Eredar Lord, however, who promptly kills him.
    • Zigzagged with the troll shaman Jin'do the Hexer, one of those serving the Blood God Hakkar the Soulflayer in Zul'Gurub. After his defeat Jin'do's spirit is taken to be tormented by the spiteful god, as one might expect. Less expected is that three expansions later Jin'do the Godbreaker returns to Zul'Gurub and life having enslaved Hakkar. However, his control is still unstable, and if they players manage to break the chains binding Hakkar the god obliterates his treacherous servant immediately.
  • Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark has a drow queen bind one of the nine lords of Baator. This does not end well.
  • Averted in Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, thanks to proper estimation of the threat involved and planning how to deal with it. Layna manipulates the main character into awakening the Omnicidal Maniac Gig who sleeps inside an Artifact of Doom, and then shields him/her from the ensuing Demonic Possession. This forces Gig into co-inhabiting the protagonist's body, producing a fused being possessing the power needed to Save the World. In short, it works.
    • ...Except for in the Demon Path, in which it turns out that the protagonist isn't a very nice person and immediately goes on a genocidal rampage with Gig's powers, starting with her.
    • Played straight in the normal path anyway, in an unrelated incident. Put short, controlling a World Eater is unfathomably stupid. For the long explanation, King Strauss VIII bought a Crimson Tear with intent to use it to control World Eater Feinne (who is almost completely mindless, so it should tell you how bad it would be to try to control either of the other two). His attempt at fusing with Feinne in an attempt to control her starts with a "hiccup" - Feinne simply blows straight to oblivion the back half of the Kingdom of Raide! He attempts to continue despite this, and, well... OM NOM NOM.

Gig: If you want to know why they're called World Eaters, well... there you go.

  • Averted in Knights of the Old Republic. Darth Revan unearthed an ancient Artifact of Doom known as the Star Forge, which functioned both as a powerful enhancer of dark side power and as a ship production facility—but never thought to use it as the former, which was good, as it had caused the downfall of its creators when they'd started to use it in that manner. His apprentice, who tested things and decided to try it, didn't live long enough to have the long-term bad effects happen to him.
    • Tilt your head and squint, and you can see Bastila and the Jedi Council's efforts to use the greatest weapon - turning someone to their cause, hoping to get the locations of the Star Maps - as this trope. Whether it's averted or not depends on the player.
      • The Jedi were wise enough to know that this was a dangerous gamble, and would not have done had there been better options.
      • Or they were Genre Savvy enough to send a pretty Light-side woman along...
  • Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia: The Big Bad unleashes the legendary Dark Pokémon Darkrai, and tries to sic it on the hero after cranking up the energy of his Incredible Machine beyond its limits to Level "Dark". Darkrai then goes berserk and swallows him and his sycophantic henchman inside a Dark Void.
    • Also, in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire/Emerald, this is the end result of Team Aqua's/Team Magma's spectacularly retarded ecoterrorism plot.
  • Chzo Mythos has the druid Cabadath, who intends to open a portal to Another Dimension in order to take control over Chzo, an Eldritch Abomination and a literally god of pain, and have him fight the invading roman forces. He fails miserably of course, and is subjected to an eternity of horrible torture. He is subsequently turned into The Tall Man, a sort of Dragon, and is used in a similar fashion by other minor villains.
  • Iji is a rare case of the protagonists doing this: after the planet is devastated by an alien invasion, they try calling in another group of aliens they heard was opposed to the first. Turns out that the first aliens just wanted somewhere to hide and regroup. The other ones are out to conquer the universe, one Earthshattering Kaboom at a time.
  • If you play the Dark Side path in Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight, Jerec succeeds in his attempt to turn Kyle to the Dark Side...only to have Kyle immediately try to kill him. Now that he's evil, Kyle doesn't have to hold back or worry about innocent bystanders getting in the way. Though Jerec survives that particular attack with no trouble, and ultimately Kyle kills Jerec no matter which path you choose.
    • It's pretty much standart trope in SW games. You get a "We Can Rule Together" proposal and either decline it or reply "I Can Rule Alone".
    • In Jedi Academy, one mission starts with the bad guys releasing an unstoppable mutated rancor into a spaceport with the intention of looting the city after its passing. It immediately starts killing and eating them (while they for some reason try to fight back instead of stepping aside and letting it do its thing).
  • This is the eventual fate of Chancellor Cole in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. During the final battle, he and Malladus (the Demon King whom he had earlier released from his seal) seem to make a good enough team together, but toward the end, once their getaway train has been wrecked and the Demon King is forcibly removed from Zelda's body, Cole makes the grave mistake of ordering Malladus to get back into her. Presumably fed up with all the nonsense that had occurred up to that point, Malladus simply eats him, hijacking his body to transform into his final form.
    • This also happens to Byrne, The Dragon for the Chancellor Cole. He demands Malladus give him power, and it should be no surprise when he gets sent flying across the room and knocked out. It also leads to his Heel Face Turn. Cole even mocks this.
  • In Dragon Quest VI, about halfway through the game, a kingdom summons a powerful demon named Nokturnus in the hopes of destroying Big Bad Mortamor. The demon immediately obliterates the kingdom.
    • However, in an interesting twist, if you've done a lot of grinding (and I mean a lot of grinding), you can defeat the demon, who is then so impressed by your strength that he actually does fly over to Mortamor's place and curb stomps him for you. Needless to say, if you're strong enough to beat Nokturnus you're strong enough to curbstomp Mortamor yourself, but it's still fun to watch.
  • In Final Fantasy V the Bigbad Exdeath has the ultimate goal of gaining power over this thing called "the void" and take over the world with it. He laughs at people saying the Void couldn't be controlled and is seemingly using it without any problems, but after you beat in the game's final dungeon, he loses control of it and possess him, which for you is also bad.
  • Subverted a bit in Shadow of the Colossus- At the beginning, Dormin clearly tells Wander that resurrecting Mono will have unpleasant consequences.
  • During his training, Jubei constantly reminds Ragna that the power of the Azure Grimoire is not truly his power, and that it will never truly be under his control. As the creator of the Azure Grimoire(s), both of them, Yuuki Terumi seems to think he can easily control the power of the Azure. Of course, it backfires when Lambda performs her Heroic Sacrifice, enabling Ragna to overwhelm Terumi's Grimoire and halt Mu-12's rampage.
    • Subverted when Terumi takes advantage of this situation and uploads a virus that freezes the reality warping supercomputer that held his leash. Granted, this did come at the cost of his monopoly over the Azure's power and Mu-12.
    • Lotte Carmine so believed that if he could harness the knowledge of the Boundary, he could come up with something beneficial to humanity, even if it costs the lives of many people. Even his Mad Scientist mentor Kokonoe did not approve, and the result of that is that he gains nothing, and the Boundary corrupts him into Arakune. Even worse, his girlfriend Litchi decided to dabble on that as well to save him, and on the sign of first symptoms, when Kokonoe refuses to even help her, she decided to dabble with another Evil: NOL and Hazama. It's still unclear which one is Eviler Than Thou in this case: Boundary corruption or NOL/Hazama. Lotte at least managed to learn his lesson and even managed to pull himself together enough to warn Litchi to stay away from him and get Kokonoe to help her with her own Boundary corruption.
    • One of the Six Heroes, Nine, also fell to this. She just banished Terumi after the murder of her would-be brother in law Tomonori. When the Black Beast arrived, she decided to free Terumi and enslave him, thinking she could control him well. That backfired, Terumi killed her and in irony's sake, she would get turned into Phantom, practically Terumi's slave.
  • Saren Arterius in Mass Effect finds Sovereign's mind-control powers quite useful in acquiring minions, but has the foresight to set up a research lab to find out how it it really works. He's Properly Paranoid, because Sovereign is also influencing him.
    • Researching the Rachni, the Krogans, the Geth or AI in general has a tendency to backfire spectacularly, even if none of them are evil per se.
    • In Mass Effect 3, The Illusive Man attempts to take control of the Reapers. But as much of a Magnificent Bastard as he is, he was still out of his league there and ends up indoctrinated.
  • In Dragon Age II Merrill knows making a deal with a Pride demon—the most powerful and cunning breed of demon—to restore the Eluvian is dangerous, but thinks the risk is worth it. Nearly everyone around her disagrees, including her mentor Marethari, Anders, Fenris, and Rival!Hawke. In the end her detractors are proven right. The Pride demon was going to use the restored Eluvian to enter the real world and Merrill would have been its first victim. Only Marethari's sacrifice prevented this outcome. Anders is also guilty of this. He believed that becoming Justice's host wouldn't be too bad, since Justice was a "good" spirit. Merrill gently tells him that there is no such thing as a "good" Fade spirit -- all spirits are dangerous.
    • And in Awakening, the expansion to the original game, it is revealed that (weapons-grade spoiler) the Architect, a darkspawn born with free will, accidentally caused the Fifth Blight when he awakened the Old God Urthemiel and tried to turn him into a free-willed darkspawn like himself so that he WOULDN'T start a Blight. Instead, he spread the darkspawn taint to Urthemiel and turned him into the Archdemon. Blight ensued. Oops, sorry!
  • Shin Megami Tensei has a very simple law of magic-you can attain ludicrous amounts of power by taking demonic (or angelic) essence into your body. Your mind, either because of the power, or because of how you abuse it, is going to degrade to the point you end up doing incredibly stupid stuff and killing yourself through sheer idiocy. Or being enslaved to a divine being for all eternity. Your choice, folks.
  • Arc the Lad gets a moment of this when the King of a country that has been manipulated by demons willingly sets free the Big Bad and gets as far to say 'My first act shall be...' before he is vaporized for 'Serving his purpose'.
  • Any Mega Corp that thinks using zombies to further some goal is asking for trouble, but the folks behind Terror Is Reality from Dead Rising 2 deserve mention for keeping an army of zombies around for a gameshow. Naturally they escape and destroy Fortune City.
  • The Wish spell in Dominions can be used to summon any unit you can think of. But if you summon a Doom Horror, it only has a 50% chance of being controllable instead of hostile, and the Horror that responds to your call may not be the one you asked for.
  • Shin Megami Tensei V: Sahori Itsukishima, a girl who keeps being bullied, decides to summon an evil demon to get revenge on them. However, the evil demon wishes to merge with her as compensation. And he ends up kidnapping her. And even if the demon truly considered her to be a friend, she still ends up regretting killing the two bullies anyways.

Web Comics

  • Angel Moxie, Tristan helps release Vashi on the promise that when Vashi's boss Yzin takes over the world Tris can rule France. Vashi lied. Tris got mad and punched Vashi so hard she landed in China, before joining the good guys.
  • In the "K'Z'K" arc of Sluggy Freelance, Gwynn summons a demon to wreak vengeance on Riff. Unfortunately for Gwynn, the demon goes about this by possessing her, stealing her soul, and warping her body into some sort of monster. Oh, and it turns out that, once the demon fulfills its contract, it's free to destroy the world.
  • A Modest Destiny: The villain Gilbert raises Deo-Deo from the dead, in exchange for immortality. However...
  • Vaarsuvius in Order of the Stick makes a Deal with the Devil and actually does get huge amounts of power temporarily. Having accomplished a couple hits against evil, s/he's now DePowered back to his/her usual self, with the added bonus of putting him/herself in debt, jeopardizing his/her alignment, and making several powerful entities really, really angry. Not to mention coming back to bite the party in new and interesting ways with the death of the entire Draketooth clan as well as gods alone know how many other innocents across the Western Continent. Oops.
    • And on top of it all, his/her mate filed for divorce.
    • Xykon also believes (and this is whole plan) that he will be able to control the Snarl. Instead, he'll just unleash a god-destroying monstrosity that has no idea of control at all. Of course, Redcloak knows this full well, and has other plans of his own.
  • Girl Genius. Zola releases and tries to help The Other. One Gilligan Cut later and she's hog-tied and an unwilling test subject for another fine display of Mad Science.
  • In Eight Bit Theater, Black Mage, of course, tries to control unstopabble forces of evil whenever possible, usually causing a double-subversion or whatever might be hilarious. He takes control of an accidentally summoned Eldritch Abomination—pretty successfully, since it's almost as sociopathic as he is—until one of his "friends" accidentally kills it. He tries to become the ruler of Hell, and he does, but then someone brings him back to life. Played with most destructively in the end: Sarda absorbs Black Mage's super-evilness, which seems to work fine, until he explodes and turns into Chaos. And Black Mage immediately tries to control him.
  • In Sinfest, a yokel ridicules Satan's stand and sells him his soul. Gets processed, and gets the T-shirt he asked for, and to burn in flames.
  • In Snow By Night, Jassart agrees to release the omnicidal fire spirit Talons-that-Seek. It goes poorly for him.

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, a greedy mage uses an ancient spell in the Second Age to release the imprisoned demon lord Yurius in order to use him for his bid for power over the kingdom. Yurius immediately kills him for his troubles.
  • SCP Foundation: Incident 668-682, where a disgruntled agent (subsequently referred to as "the Victim") tries to smuggle a weapon to Omnicidal Maniac SCP-682.
  • For most of Red vs. Blue: Revelation, the Meta seems to be treated as a guard dog of sorts by Agent Washington, and even manages to somehow be a comedic foil for Wash and Doc. At the end of the series, he captures the AI Tex to return his lost powers, and promptly returns to being the Ax Crazy Implacable Man he was in Reconstruction.

Western Animation

  • Justice League has this with Felix Faust releasing Hades. He learned from his experiences, and was able to live out the more fun side of the trope by possessing Tala later on.
    • Also happens when Dr. Milo releases Doomsday.

Amanda Waller: Milo! I'll have his hide for this!
Cadmus Guard: Doomsday beat you to it, ma'am...

  • Subverted in Xiaolin Showdown. The heroes find Jack Spicer trapped in the prison of Hannibal Bean where he tells them that he freed them and he imprisoned himself there. After getting him out, they find the real Jack outside, and turns out that Hannibal tricked them into releasing him.
    • Interestingly subverted with the character of Wuya, the spirit of a nigh-omnipotent sorceress who was freed from her puzzle-box prison by Jack in the pilot, and promised him the world if he helped her. Although Jack never quite succeeded and eventually became her adversary, when Raimundo restores her powers with his Face Heel Turn, she repays him by... granting his every wish and grooming him to rule the world alongside her. It seems she was a villainess of her word after all.
  • An episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (the original 80's version) had an evil sorcerer freeing an evil dragon, and said dragon sticking the sorcerer into his old prison.
    • And of course, there's the classic episode "To Save Skeletor", in which Skeletor decides to summon an elder god. You can guess from the episode title how that worked out.
  • In "Computron Lives", an episode of The Galaxy Trio, a group of would-be terrorists find the deactivated Computron, the first villain of the series, and decide to wake him up so they can use his power to conquer the world. They survive the experience, but really ought to have known better, given that his defining qualities had been his self-determination and contempt for organic life.
  • One episode of Captain N: The Game Master centers around Mother Brain's quest to free Ganon, so he could help her conquer Videoland. Unfortunately for her, she seriously underestimated his douchebaggery.
  • In Teen Titans, Slade cuts a deal with the demonic Trigon in order to get raised from the dead, in return for Slade helping the demon take over the world. Of course, after Slade fulfills his role, Trigon turns on him. Subverted in that Slade knew exactly what was going to happen and took precautions. He ends up orchestrating Trigon's downfall and getting his mortal life back, and is still at large at the end of the series while Trigon either got completely destroyed or re-sealed in Hell.
    • Not really a subversion, or perhaps a Double Subversion. Slade, not Trigon, was the Sealed Evil in a Can, if by sealed you mean dead .
    • Technically, they were sealed in the same can -- Trigon was in Hell because he was a demon, and Slade was there because he was evil and dead. However, Trigon seems to have drawn Slade's soul to him, and he was the one who instigated the deal. Slade took it because it was the only chance he had.
  • In an episode of Darkwing Duck, F.O.W.L. decides to find Taurus Bullba (the villain from the pilot and the only non-goofy villain of the series) and rebuild him as a Cyborg. He's grateful... just not grateful enough to serve them.
    • Actually, he seemed rather pissed about being brought back as a cyborg. His voice is dripping with bitter sarcasm when he says, "So what if I have to drink motor-oil cocktails for the rest of my LIFE?"
  • Dexter's Laboratory: A rare subversion occurred in one episode, "Jeepers, Creepers, Where is Peepers?", where GOOD is not a toy. An evil alien warlord kidnaps DeeDee's first imaginary friend, Peepers, a cute yet obnoxious furry critter who rules over her imaginary world of Koosland, to use as a potential energy source for his secret weapon. After being battered around by Dexter and DeeDee's other imaginary friend, Koosy, the villain's taunting is cut short as he realizes in an Oh Crap moment that he is about to be smushed into a pancake by Peepers, who has mutated (not transformed, but mutated) himself into a flesh-coloured, evil-looking dragon (who also makes his own evil-sounding laugh afterward).
  • In the five-part 'Centurions episode "Man or Machine", Mad Scientist Doc Terror recreates an alien Master Computer on Earth because they share the same goal—ridding the world of organic lifeforms. Terror assumes that as a Cyborg, he'll be spared. He's wrong.
  • Shredder from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 series has problems with this. In the pilot, he teams up with the brain from Dimension X Krang, but refuses to create a new body for him because of this trope, but caves in later on. Once the bad guys and the Technodrome end up in Dimension X, Krang takes charge. This pops up later on in Turtles Forever, when Shredder rescues his counterpart from the 2003 series from imprisonment on an asteroid for the purpose of a Villain Team-Up. Unfortunately, the Darker and Edgier Shredder not only takes control of the Technodrome and Krang's technology, but also decides to wipe out creation himself.
  • In Transformers Prime Megatron tries to revive Unicron so he can rule by his side. When Unicron wakes up he tells him he was wrong about two things: 1) Unicron woke up himself without Megatron's help, and 2) Unicron wants to destroy the universe and everything in it, including the Decepticons.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Valmont's dealings with the demonic dragon Shendu ultimately lead to his ruin.
  • In "Birds of a Feather", an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Veronica Vreeland brings the Penguin into her social circle as a publicity stunt. He eventually finds out he's being used, and in his true flamboyantly villainous fashion, kidnaps and attempts to murder her.
  • In Ben 10 Ultimate Alien, Vilgax messes with Diagon's seal in an attempt to claim the demon's power and is promptly mutated and enslaved by it. The "Evil" in this example is Vilgax.
  • In Gravity Falls, Dipper often gets into trouble trying to use or exploit the town's various paranormal items and beings this way. Some examples:
    • "Time Traveler's Pig": He tries to use a time travel device to win a stuffed doll for Wendy and avoid hitting her in the face; he nearly gets himself and Mabel killed more than once and the one time he succeeds threatens to plunge Mabel into a Despair Event Horizon
    • "Little Dipper": After Mabel has a growth spurt and rags on him, he uses magic crystals to make himself taller. Ends up with himself and Mable shrunken by the Gideon.
    • "Carpet Diem": He and Mabel are Freaky Friday Flip victims; he tries to use it to get Mabel in trouble, gets them both in much more trouble.

Real Life

  • There were many powerful people in and outside Germany during the 1930s who supported Hitler's rise to power simply because they all thought they'd be able to use him for their own purposes. Boy, were they in for a nasty surprise.
  • Ditto with Italy's King Vittorio Emanuelle III and Hitler's Spiritual Precursor Benito Mussolini. His Majesty (and much of the government) really thought that a) they could co-opt and control Fascism and b) that it was preferable to a Socialist takeover. Oops.
  • Many right-wing elements in the British Establishment saw Hitler as a bulwark of stable right-wing conservative government against the ravening Soviet monster. This infected the British leadership from the top down - given King Edward VIII's fascist inclinations and personal friendship with the Nazi leadership, this went right from the top down. Not only did it give Winston Churchill's clearer thinkers a harder fight, it explains appeasement and was the real reason why the King had to abdicate - Wallis Simpson was just a pretext.
    • Meanwhile, some left-wing elements (e.g. David Lloyd George) praised his social programs, particularly the ones intended to fight unemployment. (The drawback to social programs, of course, is that they eventually run out of other people's money, but Hitler had a "solution" for that.)
      • Well, he was a moderate (in the sense of steering clear of full "abolish money, rule with the stick only" like Trotsky) socialist — not friendly to "mainstream" Communists, but then Stalin was a bit rough on the rival sects too…
    • It shall be noted, however, that appeasement was not always, and perhaps not often, friendly in intent. As others point out, it was an almost-sound strategy, with fatal flaw of retroactive consequences fallacy: Hitler rode to power on certain legitimate grievances, therefore if we remove these grievances, his power will disappear in a Puff of Logic. Sorry, guys, too late.
  • American industrialists praised Hitler's Germany for keeping wages and working conditions such that it was a great place to invest - none of those pesky trade unions agitiating for better pay and shorter hours. Thus the Wehrmacht went to war, quite legitimately, in home-built Ford trucks for which the US parent company reaped huge profits. Not only Britain gained from US industry... And good old Henry Ford got the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle in 1938, by the way.
  • Ditto with Hitler's one-time ally and eventual archenemy Joseph Stalin, who was initially appointed General Secretary by Lenin and with the acquiscence of Trotsky on the assumption that the position would handle nothing more than the dull drudgery of Party administration that the rest of the Politburo didn't want to bother with. Then, Kamenev and Zinoviev allied with Stalin in a troika to drive Trotsky into exile and monopolize power over the party... until Stalin monopolized it for himself and had Kamenev and Zinoviev, and many, many, many others tried and shot. Or just shot.
  • Not exactly evil, but wild animals (aka "exotic pets") are also Not A Toy, no matter how cute they look, no matter if you adopted them when they were little and sweet, no matter if you've fed them by hand all their lives. If they haven't been selectively bred for tameness over many generations, they're not tame. And even then it's risky. At best they're still 200 lbs of nature's killing machine and they're expecting to learn to hunt, not be fed.
    • According to Urban Legend, alligators/crocodiles live in sewers because people bought them when they were babies, then flushed them away when they figured out they couldn't tame them... and that they never stop getting bigger. People who don't figure this out presumably end up in the croc's internal sewer system.
    • There are also animal refuges devoted to rescuing exotic pets - they can't be released into the wild because they've been declawed and defanged, but they're still incredibly expensive to feed and care for.
  • The FBI's efforts to recruit notorious Irish mobster James "Whitey" Bulger as an informant against The Mafia ended with one of their own agents corrupted, the murder of several witnesses, and eventually to Bulger spending years as a fugitive on the FBI's Most Wanted List.
  1. Not to be confused with the 7th Ciaphas Cain book