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 troper 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 I Love Nuclear Power.

See Power Incontinence, Superpower Meltdown, and Enemy to All Living Things; also see Walking Disaster Area. 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.

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. Contrast with Fertile Feet

Examples of Walking Wasteland include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Emukae Mukae of Medaka Box 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.
  • 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.
  • Natsuki Amon from GetBackers. 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.
  • Victors in Busou Renkin are LITERALLY this. A Victor will drain the life out of anything that comes near them. And it can't be stopped, as it's as essential as breathing to them. Hence Kazuki's final solution of taking him to live on the Moon.
  • Bleach: Barragan's released form projects an accelerated-aging aura that causes anything within it to rot away.
    • Starrk was so strong prior to joining the Espada that lesser hollows died in his presence.
    • Aizen becomes one after his ascension. Spiritually-aware humans are especially susceptible, but anybody without enough strength that gets within a few feet tend to explode for no discernible reason.
  • The Forest God Shishigami in Princess Mononoke is a god of life and death. Where his feet touch the ground, grass and flowers grow, but rot away behind him. At the showdown he goes berserk, making the forest near him die and everything that gets into contact with him rot away to nothing instantly.
  • Gildarts from Fairy Tail specializing in "Crash" magic, which destroys anything he runs into. He's actually pretty nice, but he's so absent-minded that he runs through building so often the town decided to change their landscape so he had a clear path through.
    • Zeref may be a better example, considering that everything within some radius of him seems to die instantly. People seem to be relatively immune except when he randomly releases a burst of magic, but simply ducking seems to be a perfectly acceptable defense.
  • Nobuo, from the Stink Bomb segment of Memories.
  • 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.
  • One of the few male Sekirei in the titular series has this as his themed ability, opposite his sister, who can invoke Fertile Feet.
  • Vash of Trigun 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.
  • Many of the Shadow Dragons from Dragon Ball GT, specifically Haze Shenron (spreads pollution), Nouva Shenron (his body is hotter than the sun, so anything that comes near him disintegrates), Eis Shenron (he freezes anything near him), and Syn/Omega Shenron (he emits negative energy that corrupts and kills entire planets, and eventually the universe).

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Omega Red, a (retconned as) Cold War-era X-Men 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.
  • Also from Marvel Comics, Mojo has this as an Informed Ability - it is mentioned in his description but he never stayed on Earth long enough to cause a lasting effect.
    • Uh? A parrot and several pot plants dies by his mere presence. Larger animals, including humans, seems to tollerate him quite well.
      • The exact nature of Mojo is questionable; other organisms are fine around him, but the one that said he was dangerous to have around was Dr. Strange, which is very much not a good thing should Mojo ever come to Earth himself.
  • 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.
  • One issue of Ultimate X-Men focused on a mutant with the utterly unfortunate power to produce a combination of acids and poisons that would kill anyone in the area. He ended up killing his entire high school before fleeing to the desert; Wolverine was sent in to "take care of him", which the kid willingly accepted.
  • 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 when he didn't realize what had happened, and then was stuck in Iron Heights. As their power source.
    • The Flash also had 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.
  • Minor Batman villain Professor Radium has this effect.
    • As did not one, not two, but three similarly small-time bat-villains; Bag O'Bones, alias the One Man Meltdown, the Corrosive Man, and Doctor Phosphorus.
  • Black Cat from Spider-Man could cause freak accidents to happen to everyone around her.
  • In a girls comic (Mandy?) a girl was given a lucky charm, however the luck the charm produced always came at somebody else's expense, for which she would often get the blame. However, passing the charm on to someone else would be unethical. In the end she gave the charm to an injured dog, saving its life. As no one could accuse a dog of manipulating people it was safe from the side effects.
  • In The New Universe Dennis "Scuzz" Cuzinski developed the unwanted and uncontrollable ability to make anything he touches rot. Including his clothes.
  • In the Marvel Universe, the Radioactive Man constantly gives off nuclear radiation that causes radiation poisoning in anyone nearby unless he wears a radiation suit.
  • 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.
  • Issue 11 of the Vertigo Comics 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.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Imhotep, from The Mummy Trilogy, 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.
  • Colin, the monstrous janitor-creature in the Silent Hill 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.
  • The dementors in the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are portrayed this way. Flowers wither and die around them, water freezes, etc.
  • Warlock (1989). The title character has a power often attributed to witches in Real Life: when he's in the area milk turns sour.
  • In the Elektra movie, 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.
  • A man possessed by the Big Bad in Constantine is shown slaughtering a herd of cattle simply by passing through it.
  • Inspector Clouseau is described this way by Dreyfuss in one of the Pink Panther series: "Today [that town is] a beautiful paradise in the Swiss alps: tomorrow, a wasteland!"
  • The creature from Monster a Go Go becomes this shortly before disappearing.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Croyd Crenson (a.k.a. the Sleeper) from the Wild Cards series has the unique ability to become reinfected with the wild card virus every time he goes to sleep, giving him a new power (or disfigurement) each time he wakes. In one book, he becomes a walking plague vector for a mutated version of the wild card virus that can infect people who've already been affected by the original version. A few people gain new powers, but many more die horribly. The rest of the book is a chase to track him down before he kills anyone else.
  • The Neverending Story features a gentle lion-like creature named Graograman, also known as The Many-Colored Death. Any living being that comes near him is turned to sand, and this effect extends for miles around him. His residence is far away from civilization, in the Desert of Colors, and he is very lonely.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story Rappaccini's Daughter is about a girl who was raised on poisons. In time, she became poisonous herself and had to be kept in a special garden away from things that would be killed by her. When her lover gives her a vial of antidote so that they can hopefully be together, it kills her.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Deus Sanguinius, the advent of a Walking Wasteland daemon spoils food, turns wine to vinegar, makes babies be stillborn, and causes a psychic (on a spaceship, off planet) to weep blood.
  • Liquidon Ethereteel in Stationery Voyagers, as well as any Whiteout with shell 8 or higher Mikloche. Going beyond shell 11 is Tempting Fate for a Superpower Meltdown.
  • Full darkangels in The Darkangel Trilogy cause blight if they roost too long in one place. As one character points out, though, it's rather stupid for them to do this, since they ruin their own hunting grounds this way. Smart darkangels move around their territory to keep the poison from taking hold in the ground.
  • The Last Battle shows the Calormene god Tash making grass wilt wherever he goes and making the air smell like rotting flesh long before you see him.
  • Saul Dagenham from The Stars My Destination became this, after his nuclear experiments Phlebotinum went horribly wrong; he was so toxic that he was forbidden by law to spend more than thirty minutes per day in the company of anyone, including his wife.
    • He wasn't toxic, he was radioactive. It didn't kill him, somehow.
  • The Groke from The Moomins, who sucks heat and life from everything around her through no fault of her own.
  • A related problem plagues Chief White Halfoat in Catch-22—wherever he goes, oil appears. Oil companies figure this out, and begin chasing him across the country, drilling for oil wherever he settles down and kicking him out.
  • Randall Flagg, the Big Bad of Stephen King's The Stand, has this as part of his Enemy to All Living Things package. Everywhere he goes, the vegetation wilts, and animals that look upon him tend to die of fatal brain embolisms.
  • In the German Eco-Science Fiction Pulp Magazine series Die Terranauten, published between 1979 and 1987, an ultra-powerful psychic called Llewellyn 709 suffers from being a Walking Wasteland due to Power Incontinence. While people with psychic powers (called "Treiber") are not uncommon within the Terranauten universe, Llewellyn was the result of an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong. While the Terranauten organization was made up entirely of people with various psionic powers who can telepathically merge with living sentient spaceships that teleport through space, most worlds in known space still needed technological stardrives to achieve FTL flight and distrusted the "mutants". In the past, governments had hunted down rebel psychics and subjected them to lobotomies, while corporations had tried to create "super-mutants" with vastly increased powers but under their control by subjecting psychics to a massive bombardment of psionic energy. (Note that not all of those test subjects had volunteered.) Unfortunately, many test subjects went insane or died. Those that survived were permanently altered. Llewellyn 709 found that his body was no longer dependent on food and water, but he radiated a psionic aura so strong that everyone in the vicinity would go insane and eventually die and reality itself would warp. While Llewellyn can use this as a weapon of last resort, he cannot shut the energy off and the uncontrolled outpouring of energy causes him excruciating pain. The scientists who had created him came up with a way of containing the energy, by wrapping Llewellyn's naked body head to toe into a cocoon of overlapping strips of material coated with a mineral that absorbs and blocks psionic energies, making him look a bit like an Egyptian mummy covered in golden bandages. From this he got his nickname "Riemenmann", after he had managed to flee the laboratory.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, they find milk and eggs have gone bad. Gaunt suspects it has happened all over the city, and that his watch stopped for the same reaosn: a Chaos incursion.
  • In the Dragonlance 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.
  • Bionicle: Voporak gives off a temporal force field that ages anything thrown at him and can more quickly age objects through touch.
  • Alan Dean Foster's Journeys of the Catechist briefly featured the living essence of corruption, aptly named, Corruption. One character hits Corruption in the neck with his sword, which promptly rusts and rots away in seconds.
    • A similar being, called the Drounge, was encountered in the third book. Descriptions of it's 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.
  • Kyp Durron does it deliberately for evil effect in the Jedi Academy Trilogy.
  • Pollution in Good Omens 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Though Hazel from The Heroes of Olympus 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.
  • 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.
  • Tash, in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The 4400 had a story arc where a man went in for the promicin shot (50/50 chance of either gaining superpowers or dying horribly), and came out on the "lucky" side. His power? He released promicin directly into the atmosphere, which was instantly absorbed by anyone in the area who wasn't wearing protection. Needless to say, a lot of people half of Seattle died.
    • An earlier episode featured a 4400 woman who released a deadly virus into the atmosphere when she felt threatened or nervous (which, due to her apparent psychological issues, is pretty much all the time).
  • Heroes had 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 learned how to control her power, and had it cured.
    • Ted's story featured one really cool scene where the camera lifted up to show the grass dying in a slowly expanding circle around him.
  • Possible example: Cady from Reaper. 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.
  • The Villain of the Week in the Brimstone episode "Carrier" caused infection in her wake.
    • Only if she kissed people, or had some other exchange of bodily fluids (before she 'died' she killed a bunch of people by throwing up in a reservoir). Mind you, her post-Hell infection made even The Devil nervous!
  • Happens in Point Pleasant for one scene near the end as the protagonist is walking out of a hospital.
  • In 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.
  • 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.

  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a group of scientists created a highly advanced group of humans that are telepathic and could never get sick. The main problem is that their immune systems are so agressive that anyone who gets close to them starts aging rapidly and dies. They had to be kept in isloation forever.
  • Torchwood has Abaddon, a colossal demon whose shadow instantly kills anything it falls upon.
  • The Bringers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are said to cause sterility in both the land and in living things.

Music[edit | hide]

  • 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"

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Mortasheen's Hollowile has a lesser version of this, having a moisture draining aura surrounding it that turns leaves brown and brittle in its wake.
  • 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...
  • Subverted in Warhammer Fantasy with chaos champion Aekold Helbrass, cursed to spread life with his every footstep and played straight Nurgle and his minions, who wither crops and sour milk with their passing.
  • 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.
  • In Deadlands, there is a flaw, that makes you somehow a silent servant of the reaper; just making bridges crush down, dynamite explode and guns hit their owner. You are not affected, but around you, everything deadly that can go wrong, will go wrong. Not good for your reputation.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had 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.
      • Defilers eventually graduated to sucking the life out of other living things too. And to be fair, Preservers also sucked the life out of stuff to power their spells—they just were concerned enough not to kill anything.
    • 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 thats 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). A DM might make it so you have to say you are spending a free action every turn to have it off, although that would probably get annoying for everyone.
    • The elven strain of vampirism from the Ravenloft setting causes the afflicted to acquire a "black thumb", which kills plants on contact.
    • The odic, an undead spirit from the Basic/Expert/etc version of D&D, has a vegetation-killing aura.
    • The otherwise forgettable Blighter prestiege class generates the power for spellcasting by absorbing it from nearby vegetation, instantly killing and withering large swaths of fertile land. Sadly, the class is horrible from a game mechanics standpoint and does not at all live up to the flavor surrounding it.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with atrophal. 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, supressing 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.
  • Exalted features the Abyssal Exalted, who as well as 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.
  • Magic: The Gathering has Phage and the Cabal Patriarch. Phage caused any organic matter she came into contact with to rot away (not a pleasant way to go), while the Patriarch drained the life force from those he touched.
  • In the Warcraft table top rpg, 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 enviromental damage. The closer to him, the hotter it got.
  • 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.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Brutal 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 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.
  • The title character of American McGee's 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 the fantasy strategy game 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.
  • Dynamo Man from Mega Man and Bass has an experimental compact reactor inside him that will kill any living thing that gets too close.
  • In the cutscene preceding the battle against The Emperor in Ninja Gaiden, when the Emperor awakens, he flaps his wings once, and the entire field of flowers die instantly, and the world turns into what looks like Hell.
  • 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.
  • Heather of Silent Hill 3, 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.
  • In the Roguelike game 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 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.
    • In the introductory movie for the first release of World of Warcraft, the footsteps of a Forsaken warlock set fire to the grass he's walking on.
  • Muk from the Pokémon games, which is a giant sentient blob of toxic...well...muck. Its Pokedex 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 anime, 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"?
    • Another interesting example is the Pokemon Garbodor, introduced in Pokémon Black and White. You would think as a living garbage bag, it would qualify, right? Wrong! Its the opposite, it picks up garbage and the like to reinforce its body.
  • The Darkspawn of Dragon Age 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.
    • It also states that it can takes decades for Blightlands to recover or even become habitable again afterwards.
  • 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.)
  • Darth Nihilus from Knights of the Old Republic II 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.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • SCP-073, a.k.a. Cain (yes, that Cain), has this as part of a curse from killing his brother and introducing murder to the world, allowing the rest of the SCP series in - 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 hid sacrifice of his crops was the bad parts of his harvest. He's still a fairly polite fellow.
  • Beware of the eldritch power of pop music!
    • What...what the hell is that?
  • Xiion from Trinton Chronicles had this cursed upon him by a fairy, he gained a touch that could rot ANYTHING he touched, but only with his right hand.
  • Geiger of the Whateley Universe. A student at Whateley Academy, he can't be out of his room unless he's in his heavy-duty radiation suit.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Misery of Ruby Gloom seems to have trouble with this.
  • The Justice League Unlimited episode "The Greatest Story Never Told" features a man who was accidentally turned into a walking black hole, sucking in everything in sight.
  • 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.
  • Played for love with The Simpsons's Mr. Burns.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of The Fairly OddParents:
Mom: (sobbing) "Everything I touch dies!" (people around her step back slowly)
Dad: "Oh, Dinkleburg! Don't you want to come over and give my wife a congratulatory hand-touch?"
  • The very presence of Sir Darkly, from Sushi Pack, 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.
  • Batman Beyond's Derek Powers, 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 which provides the page quote.
  • A recurring villain of Grossology is Kid Rot, who 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 Lich from Adventure Time 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 be him moving over it.
  • Galvanised NegaDuck in Darkwing Duck. In the episode "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.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Then, of course, 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.
    • It wasn't just denial. 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).
      • It's worth to remember that in these time the very idea that you can carry the disease and do not fall ill yourself was a fairly recent discovery, and even in the scientific community there were detractors. Not to mention an uneducated Irish cook.
  • Being irradiated, if media is to be believed.
    • That depends primarily on the type of radiation the person has been exposed to. Photon radiation (like gamma for example) as well as Beta radiation (basically unattached electrons flying at high speed) can definitely give a man radiation sickness, but it doesn't actually turn one radioactive. Certain other particle radiation, like Neutron radiation or Alpha radiation (unattached Helium nuclei) on the other hand, are capable of turning other neutral objects radioactive. However, if a human was hit by enough Neutron or Alpha radiation to actually serve as a threat to anyone else by second hand radioactivity, the original human would be dead or at the very least incapacitated rather quickly by radiation sickness, and not actually capable of walking around after as little as a few hours at most.
      • Doubly so for alpha radiation: the activation effect of alpha radiation is so small as to be negligible and unmeasurable unless one is performing a Rutherford or Joliot-Curie-type experiment.
    • Contamination with radioactive materials, however, is a much more practical problem that can result (and has resulted) in a real-life version of this trope as the contaminated person drags metal fragments or particulates around. This can result in potentially serious exposure to other persons or the contamination of large and seemingly unconnected areas. A far more mild but still noteworthy version is a person who has just had certain types of nuclear medical scans, whose body fluids are radioactive for a time.
      • Brachytherapy, or internal radiotherapy, is lots worse.
  • 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 and Grey's Anatomy. After being rushed to the Riverside General Hospital while dying of cancer, Ms. Ramirez mysteriously began to exude an oily substance from her pores and a strange, garlicky smell 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.