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Don't you feel the power? Soon EVERYTHING will be corrupted. Including YOU.
Ghor, Metroid Prime 3
File:Spidermandoeswhateverasimbiotecorrupts 6033.jpg


A variation on The Virus with elements of The Dark Side, the Corruption is a force of chaos that gives some of its victims a Super-Powered Evil Side before (or while) it mutates them into mindless monsters. The Body Horror transformation progresses gradually, and the final result tends to be a hideous, slithering creature which looks like the spawn of an Eldritch Abomination, an Enemy to All Living Things capable of inflicting the Corruption on any creature falling into its tentacled clutches.

In the standard plotline, it will usually infect The Hero at some point. While seeking to cure himself, the infected hero must struggle with malign influence and limit use of the evil powers granted by the Corruption, since using them tends to corrupt him further.

This often works by an interesting rule: Mooks and Red Shirts tend to be turned into raving, mindless beasts/monsters. If the hero or the villain catches it, they get Cursed with Awesome superpowers. Heroic Willpower is probably the reason for this temporary(?) emotional stabilization. Named villains and extras will usually give in to it much more quickly for the powers, and quickly betray humanity because of it. Expect them to get Drunk on the Dark Side and suffer a Superpower Meltdown because of it. Remember, Evil Is Not a Toy.

Nastier versions require a Mercy Kill. They may, in Dying as Yourself, recover just a few moments, but only if mortally wounded. Contrast with Power Degeneration, where the cause of eventual death is overuse of superpowers, or simply having them.

In video games, a Nonstandard Game Over may occur when the player is corrupted too much. You can tell you're getting too close to the edge if the PC gets Tainted Veins and Undeathly Pallor.

Compare with With Great Power Comes Great Insanity and Evil Makes You Ugly. Contrast The Corrupter, who also does their best to turn other characters evil, but is also a character in their own right, rather than an impersonal force. Usually represented visually by gaining Volcanic Veins, a Red Right Hand, and a Game Face or even a full on Slow Transformation.

Due to the Body Horror involved, it's a potent source of Nightmare Fuel.

Not to be confused with the third game in the Metroid Prime trilogy (even though it uses this trope as a critical story element).

Examples of The Corruption include:


Anime Edit

  • Magical Project S - Pixy Misa is a part of Misao that she's not aware of, and gradually is growing stronger. After The Big Reveal and Journey To The Center Of The Mind, they start to integrate.
  • The plot of Princess Mononoke begins when Ashitaka is attacked and infected by a corrupted boar-god. While Walking the Earth, he discovers that his infected arm has supernatural strength and a will of its own.
  • The Raven's blood in Princess Tutu acts this way. It appears that Raven's blood grants those who are affected with it dark powers, but also twists their personality to be crueler and more selfish. Prolonged exposure ends with them turning into anthropomorphic crows and being completely under the control of the Raven himself.
  • The Black Blood is used in Soul Eater to create an Eldritch Abomination. It infects the Dark Magical (insert gender here) and the two lead characters, radically increasing their power and risk of explosive insanity.
    • Strong manifestations of insanity such as powerful potential Kishin and Asura, the real deal, can even warp the minds of others. However, you're more likely to just hallucinate and be prone (or in Stein's case, more prone) to acts of violence.
      • Running into one of the above manifestations, namely the Clown, is one of the possible explanations for the Face Heel Turn of Justin Law. If so, and if it sticks, it'd be the first proper example of Stein's claim that "insanity is contagious" and that Asura's wavelength can corrupt previously normal people.
  • Higurashi plays around the cause and effect Hinamizawa Syndrome is just a parasite that attacks the frontal lobe, so the afflicted becomes a very angry schizophrenic, with super strength Born Of Madness. It also makes them hear the desperate pleas of the local deity but that's hardly a power up at all.
  • Uzumaki… good lord. The spirals are coming to turn you into a snail...
    • Not to mention Gyo. GYAAAAH. you mean GASHUNK
  • Mahou Sensei Negima's Black Magic seems to be like this, giving superpowers while slowly turning poor Negi into a demon, with side effects of acute magical poisoning from the negative emotions it enhances; the further the poisoning and transformation progress, the more the Power Incontinence springs up. Played with in that he doesn't really mind, citing that he's "too upbeat" for it to kill him with negative emotion poisoning, and he already knows at least one literal Noble Demon.
  • In Naruto, the cursed seals, Sasuke's being a prominent example.
    • Kyuubi is also a remarkably good example of this. While he at first appears to function as a standard Superpowered Evil Side for Naruto, we eventually discover that the repeated use of Kyuubi's power has weakened the seal on it to near non-functioning. At this point, it becomes apparent that Kyuubi isn't so much an easily-controlled force as he is functionally a malignant god; not Naruto's friend, not even his ally. Just a monster that wants to use him to be properly reborn.
    • Its no longer an issue. Naruto has taken, then purified Kyubi's power for his own, leaving him with the Nine-Tailed Chakra Mode. Occassionaly, Kyubi tries to Hannibal Lecture him into their old arrangement. Naruto however just slams Torii down on his neck to shut him up. Only when confronted by Madara Uchiha, the Kyubi willingly gave Naruto its power to kick Madara's attack's ass.
  • Ichigo's hollow persona in Bleach, until he does his training with the Vizard or maybe not, as of chapter 350.
    • Again, like in Naruto, No longer an Issue.
  • The Light of Destruction in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. It's responsible for corrupting the big bads of season 2 and 3.
  • In Claymore, being turned into a Claymore is much like this. In fact one of the requirements for being a Claymore is heroic will power, without it you lose control of the power and Awaken into an extremely powerful monster.
  • InYu-Gi-Oh!!, half the people get corrupted in one form or another. The Seal Of Orichalcos is the best example, with it corrupting monsters even, giving them red eyes, an evil grin, and 500 extra attack points, and making the holograms real, among other things.
  • Happens to Yomi in Ga-Rei at least a couple of times, because a Sesshouseki possessed her.
  • In King of Thorn, Medusa usually causes the victim to be Taken for Granite. However, in certain people it brings on other types of Body Horror: a Lovecraftian Superpower at best, a One-Winged Angel at worst.
  • In Freezing, the Stigma that grants the Pandoras the amazing powers they use to fight against the Novas is essentially Nova tissue. The risk of The Corruption taking over a Pandora is actually pretty low since Pandoras only have a few Stigmas attached to them. The people in charge of Pandora development came up with this policy after one Pandora with about twenty Stigmas fell victim to The Corruption and became a Nova. This Pandora was the protagonist's older sister, Kazuha. Since Kazuya has a similar "Stigma body" (the reason he can use "Freezing" without first forming a bond to a Pandora), Yumi Kim is concerned that he might suffer the same fate. The Novas can also force The Corruption to take over the Pandoras by eating them.
    • And now the people in charge want to see if the Corruption can be controlled and weaponized after the main character forced herself into Nova Mode and managed to bring herself back. Two Pandora veterans are horrified at this idea as they saw what happened to the aforementioned Pandora with the twenty Stigmas.
  • When a Magical Girl uses her magic in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, her Soul Gem darkens. She must take a Grief Seed and use it to cleanse the gem, because if she doesn't, the Soul Gem will keep getting darker...until it eventually darkens completely and becomes a Grief Seed itself, resulting in the magical girl becoming a Witch herself. The worst part? No matter how long they do it, all magical girls will eventually fall to the corruption, becoming witches. The only way to stop it? Either die before this can happen, or use your wish to destroy the Corruption and ensure that no one has to become a Witch.
  • In Pokémon Special, just touching the Red and Blue Orbs will potentially turn you mindlessly insane, and holding them for too long will cause you to become crazy psycho-killers under the control of Groudon and Kyogre, with the Orbs themselves fusing into your body. Ruby and Sapphire had to train their minds so that they would not succumb to this fate.
    • A very similar thing happens in the Pokémon anime, too. The Blue and Red Orbs also absorb into whoever holds them for long enough. Pikachu becomes possessed by the Blue Orb, which causes him to go insane and electrocute everyone around him and obsess over helping Groudon defeat Kyogre. Archie also gets possessed by the Red Orb.
  • An odd case in Rosario to Vampire: vampire blood injected into a wounded person will at first heal them and temporarily grant them vampiric powers, but repeated doses will begin to eat away at their body and mind. The result isn't pretty.
  • Nanoha Force has the Eclipse virus (which is not The Virus, despite its name), which grants the infected Anti-Magic and insane regenerative powers, at the price of slowly losing their sanity unless they regularly kill people. And that's only if you're lucky. Most people that are exposed to it just die.


Comic Books Edit

  • Arguably Iron Man and the Extremis Dose.
  • Venom and other symbiotes from Spider-Man.
  • In Marvel UK's Captain Britain, the superhero-killing machine the Fury repairs itself with organic material-- and anyone unlucky to have contact with it in its fix-up mode gets infected with its Nanomachines (though the term wasn't used back then) and turned into a monstrosity. Unusually for this trope, it didn't make you evil, just insane, hideously deformed, and easily mistaken for the Fury in a world where superheroes were trying to destroy said machine on sight.
  • Every time Spawn uses the powers being a Hellspawn grants him, he gets a little bit closer to completely losing his humanity and becoming the commander of The Legions of Hell.
  • In the IDW Transformers series, one of the earliest Primes, "Nova Prime" became infected with a parasitic energy known as "The Darkness" that dwelt in the ominously named Dead Universe. It was unclear exactly how much of what he did was down to his own expansionist philosophies and how much was the result of the Darkness controlling him, but it was clearly sentient on some level.
  • Jackie Estecado is the receiver of this in the appropriately-named comic The Darkness.
  • Donna Troy after she's bitten by her own dead infant son in Blackest Night.
  • The Technarch Transmode virus in Marvel, even in an otherwise benign symbiosis, such as between Warlock and Cypher, and works both ways; as the organic lifeform becomes techno-organic the infector becomes Magus, a more powerful entity hostile toward organic forms and it's own offspring.
  • In Valiant Comics' The Legend of Zelda, the Triforce of Power was like this as it started turning Link into a Ganon-like creature once he took possession of it. As Zelda pointed out, Power without Wisdom means nothing and unwilling to become another Ganon, Link tossed it. The power of the Triforce of Courage ended up restoring him to normal when it decided to reclaim him for getting rid of the other Triforce.


Fan Works Edit


Film Edit

  • John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness is all about this trope.
  • The So Bad It's Good Doom movie has mutants as enemies. Turns out humanity originated on a once verdant Mars before fleeing to Earth via the Arc (Gate?). What were they fleeing from? Well, having used Genetic Engineering to make a new chromosome that made them superhuman, it turns out it also unleashed the evil in the "unmapped 10% of the Human Genome", making a few people into mutant monster that could infect others with same monstrosity. Of course the hero turns into a Hero with extra strength and stamina, but the baddie slowly mutates into a much more Badass villain while normal civilians and soldiers turn to slobbering monsters. Turns out Rousseau was wrong, evil really is In the Blood.
  • Seth Brundle brings The Corruption down on himself in The Fly.


Literature Edit

  • The Shadow Plague from the Fablehaven series.
  • Michael Moorcock's final story in his Elric of Melniboné series basically IS this trope....poor Zarozinia. Blood and souls for [1]Arioch! Zarozinia was almost a Heroic Sacrifice, under the circumstances. Rackhir the Red, on the other hand...
  • In William King's Warhammer 40000 novel Space Wolf, the aspirants are warned they can become "wulfen", wolf-like creatures. One does. Ragnar has to kill it. It speaks his name and dies. Only then does he learn it had been his best friend Kjel.
    • In Lee Lightner's Wolf's Honour, all the Space Wolves are threatened by its taking over.
    • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40000 Deus Encarmine, many of the Blood Angels succumb to their "flaw" and begin to hallucinate that they are fighting the final battle between their primarch, Sanguinius, and Horus, and so become The Berserker; all of them are tempted by it, every fight, though Rafen notices that this time, it struck with uncommon quickness, among veterans.
    • In Deus Sanguinius, at the climax, Rafen succumbs to this; on the other hand, it does unlock the powers of the Spear of Telesto for him, and the daemon he fights is shocked to see that the many futures in which Rafen failed instantly vanish. Then the spear protects him. When the dying daemon unleashes it in the other Blood Angels, they terrify their enemies, who retreat although they never retreat, and the spear even lets Rafen bring back his battle brothers who had succumbed.
  • In Keys to the Kingdom, if Arthur uses the Keys too much, he will be permanently transformed into a Denizen, due to "sorcerous contamination".
    • According to the 6th book, he is past the point of no return.
      • Although this could be considered Cursed with Awesome, considering that it helps him survive such events as getting shot in the side of the head and being dissolved by Nothing.
  • The Rings in The Lord of the Rings. The more you wear one, the more it corrupts you. Gollum was a normal hobbit once and the Ringwraiths were human kings. This only applies to the rings that Sauron helped make, however, and even then only to humans or closely related races like the hobbits. Dwarves are just too bloody stubborn to corrupt (they turn really greedy instead), while Sauron never touched the elven rings and are thus not subject to his taint. Tom Bombadil is immune to the ring's effects because he has absolutely zero interest in anything outside his little part of Middle Earth.
  • Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time novels had not one but two examples. Mordeth lurks in the ruins of Shadar Logoth offering gifts to visitors, which will corrupt them with the genocidal madness that destroyed his city and lead them to infect everyone close to them. And the Dark One occasionally "blesses" some of his followers with access to the True Power, a powerful destructive force which happens to be massively addictive and drives those who use it too often violently insane.
    • And that's without getting into his spiteful counterstroke as he was (re)sealed into Shayol Gul: he tainted saidin (men's magic) so that using it drove male Aes Sedai (the only legal order of magic) insane. This caused the Breaking of the World since the more they used saidin, the more it broke their minds, and since magic in this setting is already somewhat addictive, and most people start off not realising what, how or why weird things happen around them, male channellers tend to wind up nutso relatively fast. There's a reason the Red Ajah exists. Not anymore. Nyneave, Rand and friends removed the taint from saidin.
  • The Parrish Plessis series has the Eskaalim parasite. It grants a bounty of powers to the infected: Healing Factor, Feel No Pain, Voluntary Shapeshifting, and more. Of course, by the time you've allowed it to advance that far, you're no longer in the driver's seat, and it's too late to do anything about it...
  • In Robert E. Howard's Queen of the Black Coast, one of Conan the Barbarian's companions is driven insane by a winged ape, and then attacks him in a homicidal rage.
  • In The Dresden Files, there are the Thirty Coins, the Blackened Denarii. They are the very coins used to pay Judas Iscariot for his betrayal, and each one is now host to a bound Fallen Angel. They cannot affect the world until some mortal touches them, but at that point a variety of unpleasantness can ensue. They are very corruptive, literally avatars of Hell on Earth.
  • Paradise Lost: Gustav Doré's illustrations show Satan's progressive shift from Fallen Angel to Devil. During the flashbacks he appears like a normal angel, albeit with a Horned Hairdo. In hell, his wings molt and become batlike, and on his way to earth he begins removing his angelic armor, eventually stripping naked. By the end, he's Jumped Off the Slippery Slope and become the traditional Big Red Devil in mind and body.


Tabletop Games Edit

  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 bring us Chaos, possibly the most developed and frightening example to date. It's ruled by the four gods of mutation, plague, debauchery, and bloodshed.
    • The gods Tzeench, Nurgle, Slaanesh and Khorne are descended from beings reflecting hope, determination, love, and honor respectively. The evil deeds and thoughts of the Warhammer galaxy's inhabitants spawned the overpoweringly evil versions of those beings that now rule the warp.
      • Warpstone is Chaos energy solidified into crystalline form, so while it's still as corruptive as true Chaos, it can also be used as Green Rocks by those blessed with either ignorance, a good sense of denial, or a willing embrace of Corruption.
    • And when we say most developed, we mean most developed. The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has a whole book on chaos taint, including a D1000 table for rolling up mutations - of which 80% are a direct death sentence for your character either because they make him unable to live or because of the reactions of society. But it's certainly nice to have those tables...
    • Similarly, Dark Heresy has this as a game mechanic called Corruption Points. If you accumulate too many, you start to mutate...
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, the Shadowlands is a vast wasteland infected with the evil of the hellish realm of Jigoku. Prolonged exposure to this evil realm infects living things with the Shadowlands Taint. Even the slightest scratch by anything in or from the Shadowlands can infect someone. The Taint causes increased strength, speed and reflexes along with psychological changes such as violent outbursts and paranoia. Even when killed, a Tainted body often becomes re-animated as a zombie. What few 'cures' exist are usually fatal and are more concerned with the well-being of one's soul than one's mortal body.
  • Nearly every single gameline in the New World of Darkness has Corruption in one form or another.
    • In Changeling: The Lost, changelings turn into True Fae as they reach the zenith of their power (which is inevitably followed by the nadir of their Clarity).
    • Flux works a little like this in Promethean: The Created. It is the antithesis of the creative power Azoth, waiting for a Promethean who has become disenchanted with the Pilgrimage to stumble upon it. Its trademark "gift" is mutation, slowly turning the user into an inhuman form, though it also grants control over Pandorans, its "children". Prometheans refer to the slow dive into irretrievable Centimani as being "seduced by Flux".
    • In Geist: The Sin Eaters, Sin Eaters turn into Meat Puppets if they come Back From the Dead one time too many,.
    • The Possessed (from Inferno) turns into the embodiment of their Demon's Vice, and so on.
    • To a degree, losing Morality is like this in all New World of Darkness games; you're less and less constrained by Morality as it falls, but if you hit zero, your character becomes unplayable. In fact, The Corruption is the gimmick of Cheiron Corporation's Hunters: they graft monster parts into their body. Squick.
  • The protagonists of the Old World of Darkness game Demon: The Fallen have Torment, the spiritual residue of millennia in Hell. It afflicts all Fallen to some degree and can be used to supercharge a demon's powers, but doing so involves letting more Torment into your soul. It also acts as the game's Karma Meter: too much Torment turns you into a monster like the Earthbound.
  • The Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition sourcebook Oriental Adventures featured "Taint" as an effect of spending time in the Shadowlands or interacting with its natives. It came back as a setting-generic version in the 3.5 supplement Heroes of Horror: Taint slowly corrupts anyone who stays in a tainted area, performs evil actions, or is unlucky enough to fight a monster with the bestow taint ability. As your Taint score climbs, you go mad, endure horrific transformations, shift alignment to evil, and eventually turn into either a psychotic killer or a psychotic killer monster, at which point you roll up a new character.
    • Ravenloft has Powers checks: every time a character does something sufficiently wicked to call the attention of the Dark Powers of the demiplane, they may reward him with a special ability, which only serves to accelerate his damnation. Fail enough Powers checks and you end up a mockery of your former self, trapped forever in a domain of your own making.
  • In The Dresden Files RPG players have to spend precious refresh points to gain new abilities, and when the refresh rate hits zero the character becomes so corrupted by power that they become unplayable. Interestingly, these abilities need not be supernatural and are sometimes forced upon characters who act in certain ways. A wizard breaking one of the laws of magic, for instance, must buy the Lawbreaker ability.
  • In both D6 and D20 versions of Star Wars the RPG, PCs could acquire Dark Side points by committing evil acts. In the D6 version, acquiring too many made you lose your character. In the D20 version, it eventually reduced your stats.
    • In both d20 versions you can also lose a character with too many Dark Side points if the GM wants to run a light sided campaign, it's mentioned briefly in both rulebooks.
    • Note that the Dawn of Defiance campaign has this as a rule. You cannot be dark side, period.
  • Aberrant, White Wolf's superhero RPG, had Taint. The explanation was that the human body, even with the extra lobe and all, just wasn't suited to channeling the raw energies of the universe; channeling too much could affect your body in strange ways. It might start with glowy eyes and a strange timbre to your voice, but it would eventually grow into permanent stone skin, a short-range radiation effect... oh, and insanity. Thing is, to get to the true "break the universe" levels of power, you had to take Taint...
  • Exalted has three examples, which, in true Exalted style, has only one that is played straight.
  • This is generally how Magic: The Gathering treats Phyrexia, especially while its remnants invade and warp Mirrodin.
  • Call of Cthulhu may have been the original game to use this concept, with the Sanity score. The more you learn about the Cthulhu Mythos, the more effective a monster-hunter and magician you become . . . and the lower your Sanity drops until you eventually go mad and join the forces of cosmic horror.
  • Rather than having a special stat for corruption, GURPS cuts out the middleman and gives you disadvantages worth some number of character points, in proportion to the evilness of whatever's corrupting you this week.
  • This is the nasty downside of using arcanowave technology from Feng Shui, which is made of demons and Black Magic. Every time you use it, it sends bent magic into your system like a virus. If you use it too much, you start mutating into something horrific and run the risk of becoming an Abomination, one of the altered demons that the Buro, the government of the 2056 juncture where this technology hails, uses to fight its wars.
  • Blue Rose has an actual mechanic named Corruption. How does it work? If you get corrupted, the more corruption you have and the more deliberating effects your character suffers. Get too much and it will kill you. But you can embrace corruption, in which cause you instead get buffed. The more corrupted you are, the more POWER you have!
  • Fittingly, this is a major part of Eldritch Skies: Hyperspatial Exposure allows one to tap into Psychic Powers and Functional Magic at initial infection. Higher levels cause hallucinations, increased attention from the Eldritch Abominations that live in hyperspace, and Blue and Orange Morality. Maximum levels cause horrific mutation, and at that point, you can't reverse it.


Toys Edit

  • Numerous substances and powers have this effect in Bionicle. Infected masks, corrupted by the Makuta's shadow powers, turn anyone that wears them bad. Then, there is the poison of the Rahkshi Lerahk, which has the same effect. Shadow leeches, on the other hand, do not infect you with any substance, but rather suck away your inner "light", making your dark side grow stronger.
  • In Hero Factory, the villainous Meltdown developed an acidic substance which increased the anger in his targets, and got the better of Alpha Team Leader Preston Stormer, making him turn on his own men and his own advertising billboard.


Video Games Edit

  • The Metroid Prime series features this as a very prominent theme, having a highly toxic blue substance known as Phazon capable of corrupting everything, from small animals to entire planets. Throughout the games, Phazon takes over animals, metroids, highly advanced alien races, ghosts, machines, and entire planets, and even takes sentient forms.
    • Metroid Prime is set in the once paradisial planet Tallon IV, which was hit by a Phazon bearing meteorite known as a Leviathan around twenty years prior to the game. The resident naturalist Chozo tribe had to leave when the planet began falling apart (literally) due to Phazon corruption. Throughout the story, the player comes across several creatures infected by Phazon, most notably Elite Pirates, Fission Metroids and Metroid Prime itself.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Samus visits a second Leviathan-struck planet. Planet Aether became unstable due to the interaction between its own physical properties and those of Phazon, resulting in a permanent state of trans-dimensional flux that connected it with another version of itself, dubbed Dark Aether. Dark Aether is a barren wasteland full of Phazon, albeit not inhospitable, being inhabited by the Ing, which also have parasitic and corrupting abilities. Due to Space pirates being present in the planet, as well as the native Luminoth, the entire planet broke into a war of three opposing sides for survival. Several Aether creatures and those brought from Tallon IV by the pirates become victims of both phazon and ing corruption as well.
      • Interesting to note, only one Ing was willing to touch Phazon without a middleman. That should have warned people.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption opens with attacks on three planets by Leviathans. Bryyo and Elysia are impacted by the meteorites, while Norion is saved in the last moment by Samus and the other hunters. In the process, all four hunters become infected with Phazon, and their bodies develop a tumor-like Phazon-producing gland that slowly corrupts them. The Galactic Federation decides to take advantage of the hunters' corruption by adapting their body suits with a phazon powered 'P.E.D.' weapons system. MP 3 partially averts the mook-rule, as GF troopers can safely use phazon via tanks[2], while Samus is under serious threat of Terminal Corruption whenever she uses her P.E.D for extended periods. Her fellow hunters all fall victim to it. Samus is later sent to investigate the other attacked planets as well as the corrupted Space Pirate Homeworld and Phaaze, a seemingly sentinent planet entirely made of Phazon. With each main boss Samus beats, the resulting blast of Phazon energy further infects her, visualized by the tumor growing in her stomach. On Phaaze, her corruption grows so great her ship stops recognizing her, and she's forced to continually vent energy however she can to prevent the corruption from consuming her.
  • Ryzom features a substance called the Goo, which is purple goo that spouts from fissures in the ground; the Goohead tribe abuse it as a psychedelic drug, the local wildlife becomes stronger and more hostile around it, and too high of a concentration of the stuff will cause you continuous damage while you're in the area.
  • The first villain faced in Tron 2.0 is an ex-executive who was incorrectly digitized into the computer world and became a virus, his poisoning presence was even referred to as The Corruption. Infected programs who attack you have a chance of infecting one of your subroutines (weapons and equipment), making it have the opposite effect until you complete a virus scan on that subroutine. Oddly, you eventually get to use the special weapons of the Corrupted yourself without risk of self-infection.
  • The Chimera in Resistance: Fall of Man utilize The Virus to transform humans into aliens and fight for your side. The protagonist of the game is also infected, but although he is mutated, he manages to retain his personality.
    • Resistance 2 reveals that he is not unique, but that all members of the special squad he's assigned to must regularly use suppressors to prevent them from becoming Chimera. And of course, these suppressors have side-effects, such as prolonged periods of psychosis.
  • The Roguelike ADOM has several sources of corruption, including background chaos radiation which grows stronger as you approach the source (The Chaos Gate). Corrupted monsters may turn into writhing masses of primal chaos. A corrupted player will gain additional powers and be a writhing mass of Body Horror. Corruption-removal methods are the most sought-after thing in the whole game, because getting the full set of corruptions means you're close to an unavoidable Nonstandard Game Over.
    • And because some of the corruption side effects are really, really bad for your character. For instance, you can be drastically slowed down, instantly drain every magic wand you touch, poison everything you handle (including your own food and potions), and worst of all is the "unholy aura" one; everyone you meet, including powerful NPCs, will become hostile at the mere sight of you.
    • However, some corruptions grant you useful powers, and for several of the special endings, you need to be corrupted almost to the point of dissolution.
  • The Technocyte virus in Dark Sector. The only reason that the protagonist has not gone insane is because due to an existing condition he cannot feel the pain that drives all other infected mad.
  • The G-virus in Resident Evil works pretty much like this. William Birkin starts out with just an overgrown arm with claws, and ends up an amorphous mass of teeth, claws and tentacles.
    • And eyes, of course. Can't forget the eyes.
    • All the bosses in Resident Evil 5. Yes, includes Albert Wesker with the G-virus, Las Plagas and Ouroborous combinated in his body
  • Ryu's "Dragon Mode" in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. The corruption accumulates slowly over the course of the game. If it reaches 100%, your game ends. Which you'll have to do for the final battle, anyway, ironically.
  • The black "mud", a literal manifestation of "all the world's evil", that flows from the corrupted Grail in Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero will maim, torture, and kill anything that touches it, and those who resist it from sheer willpower are either corrupted or disabled in some way. In the Heaven's Feel route of stay night, Sakura uses this power to overwhelm the majority of the Masters and Servants, taking Saber and Berserker back out to assist her genocidal rampage. This corruption was also the reason why Gilgamesh and Kirei managed to survive their "deaths" in Zero.
  • The Spirit Eater affliction in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. The game's storyline branches depending on how you resist it/use it leading to multiple endings. In the best you're cured, in the worst you become a god-killing abomination and Bittersweet Endings are also available.
  • Prince of Persia 2008: Ahriman's essence - a black tar-like substance called corruption - is a bit of a subversion. While it drains the land of life around it, it also only afflicts people who made a pact with Ahriman. So really, if you become a Corrupted, it's your own fault.
    • Making a Deal with the Devil makes you into a more Badass corrupted and lets you keep some of your original personality. Just getting conquered by Ahriman or falling into the corruption turns you into a Mook version. Elika also mentions that some people who made deals just got turned into the mindless soldier version anyway.
  • Fel (demonic energy) has this effect in Warcraft universe. Demons seem to radiate fel energy and any area with large amounts of demons will become either a barren wasteland or a twisted mockery of its former self. Living beings exposed to fel energy will mutate, making them more powerful but turning them insane, and even causing them to become demons after long enough exposure. In fact, most demons were mortals before they were corrupted by fel energy.
    • Also seen with the influence of the Old Gods on mortals. Their Curse of Flesh transformed the immortal stone creations of the Titans and into mortal flesh and blood beings who were more susceptible to their whispers.
    • Turned into an actual game mechanic if World of Warcraft with Cho'Gall. He inflicts his enemies with "Corrupted Blood" which gradually twists and mutilates their body, causing them to eventually sprout hostile tentacles before transforming into a Faceless One.
  • In the first few .hack// games, the ones where Kite was the protagonist, Kite has an ability called Data Drain (which causes the enemy to be weakened to a point where they are pretty easily killable) but using it causes Kite to risk infection from a computer virus, the very same virus that created Data Drain no less. If the infection reaches 100% then it's game over (the Data Drain is necessary to kill certain bosses in the main quest, but no infection is received from those bosses. It's also required to get "cores" which unlock story levels). In fact, as the % goes up, there's always a slight (increasing) chance of getting a game over. Not using it reduces the number.
  • Using Dark Chips in Mega Man Battle Network 5 will permanently reduce Megaman's maximum HP by 1 for each use. When his maximum HP hits 1, he becomes addicted to them and gains several new abilities.
    • The sequel series has "Noise". Noise, unlike other examples of this trope, isn't actively evil or even intelligent, just so chaotic that it seriously screws up any other EM waves (as well as biological systems) in high concentrations.
    • Mega Man ZX, courtesy of another scientifically-based (of sorts, just like the other examples above) Artifact of Doom, the original Biometal Model W.
    • And judging by the artwork, Model O seems to be this as well.
    • And let's not forget Mega Man Battle Network 6, where you can use your Beast Form(wolf or hawk depending on game) for three turns before it ends and you go into a weakened state. The trope comes into affect both in battle, where you lose control of Megaman if you enter Beast Mode again, and in the story, where Megaman several times nearly loses control to the beast.
    • Does Megaman X series ring a bell? Zero is practically a walking virus magnet.
  • The Corprus in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind kills plants, turns animals homicidal before slowly killing them, and mutates people into horrible, cancerous monstrosities. At the same time, the guy behind it is sending subliminal messages through dreams to random people, turning them into Mooks.
    • Naturally, it has some benefits as well, including immunity to disease and considerable toughness. Those totally corrupted by Corprus are alleged to be able to come back from the dead, too.
      • Even better, being infected with Corprus makes you immune to aging, which becomes a major factor in the main plot questline.
  • The Pox of LeChuck in Tales of Monkey Island. Whoever gets infected with this voodoo plague slowly loses their ability to reason and becomes more and more violent.
    • Only affects pirates though.
  • Dark Eco in the world of Jak and Daxter.
    • The Dark Makers in Jak 3 were once Precursors, but they were twisted by their exposure to it.
    • Jak fights against his own corruption in Jak II Renegade after being pumped full of it by the Baron.

  Oracle: I sense there is a dark rage burning within you, and in time, it will destroy you with its madness. Only the last power of the Precursors can save you.

  • The Dark Glass from Rise of Legends. It made the Dark Alin, which terrorized the Alin kingdom. In-game Dark Glass units have an attack which gives a permanent HP debuff.
  • Shadow Pokemon from Pokemon Colosseum have their hearts closed. They get access to Shadow Rush (and good Shadow moves in the sequel, Pokemon XD). Also, in the sequel, all non-shadow Pokemon are weak to shadow attacks. They even get access to a super form, which can cause them to turn on their trainers and generally go insane.
  • Dragon Age - The Taint, a disease/curse spread by Darkspawn blood. There's also the Blight, a physical manifestation of the taint upon the land, which spreads whenever they come up to the surface. It twists and corrupts all living organisms, mutating creatures into abominations such as blight wolves and ghouls (assuming the creatures manage to survive the initial phase of the infection in the first place). With each passing day, a blight grows, the earth itself withers and dies; the land is leeched of moisture, turning everything dry and brown. The sky fills with rolling, black clouds that block out the sun, making it easier for the darkspawn to surface. As this wasteland spreads, the corruption of the blight spreads with it, diseasing all in its path. And by "all" we mean "all"; as in, the corpses won't rot properly because even the bacteria responsible for decomposition are killed off. What makes it The Corruption is that Grey Wardens give in to it by drinking Darkspawn blood. This lets them sense Darkspawn, kill Archdemons permanently and avoid Ghoul-dom, at the cost of killing them a few decades later.
    • In the Warden's Keep DLC, an old human mage does the most ingenious thing: he weaponizes the taint, creating an elixir which can give the player tainted blood-based powers. It's not pretty, ethical (or sane for that matter), but they are incredibly useful.
    • It Got Worse in the Dragon Age II DLC "Legacy" with The Reveal that Wardens don't die, but turn into ghouls when they hear the Calling. There is no avoiding ghoul-dom once the Taint enters a person's body -- the Warden's version of the Taint just delays it by a few decades. Seen all too clearly in Larius, a former Commander of the Grey who was unlucky enough survive his Calling and became a Ghoul.
  • Ember in Torchlight has this effect, granting magical power but at the risk of turning you evil.
  • In Dark Earth, your character Arkhan is literally poisoned by a face full of liquid evil while on his very first day on his new job as a Guardian of the Flame, and starts to mutate into a creature of the Dark. You must help him find a cure before the transformation is complete. While one side-effect of the mutation is a Level of Badass, the more you use it, the more the mutation takes hold. When the mutation reaches 100%, you get a Non-standard Game Over.
  • In Bloodnet, your hero is a vampire who has an instant-kill bite attack, but each use of it decreases his humanity a little and brings him closer to the Nonstandard Game Over (in addition to the normal decrease of his humanity with time).
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, utilizing your Drive Form repeatedly may result in Sora turning into hist Anti-Form that resembles a feral Heartless. Although the form can fight with near limitless combos the lack of a finishing move means it can never be used to defeat a boss and the inability to control its appearance make it, for the most part, a penalty.
    • Not to mention you take double damage and can't heal yourself while in this form.
  • Seithr in Blaz Blue, a toxic substance spread over the world by the Black Beast when it attacked the world 100 years ago, renders most of the surface inimical to most life. Humans were forced to live in cities built at high altitudes to avoid succumbing to seithr poisoning. It's The Corruption since seithr is also the source of the setting's magic. The Ars Magus and Nox Nyctores used by most of the characters absorb seithr from their surroundings in order to use their abilities. The Kaka clan, including Taokaka, are able to tap into the seithr naturally with no apparent ill effects.
  • Done beautifully in Shadow of the Colossus. After every time you defeat a colossus, some weird dark tendrils come out and latch into The Wanderer. The effect is gradual enough, that you don't notice how bad its got until the final colossus, where, because of the wind and some camera close ups, you notice how ragged and bad he looks, unlike the young man you started the game as.
  • The Taint of Lusternia is the effluence of an Eldritch Abomination. Those subjected to it lose their moral compunctions and become stronger, more intelligent, taller, and more demonic-looking; prolonged exposure exaggerates these characteristics further and can result in lichdom; and overdosing results in serious Body Horror. Gorgulu - the former ruler of Shallamar - is a good example of the latter.
  • In Space Quest 5, a failed experiment in genetic engineering creates the Puckoid plague that takes over at least one colony and the Confederation's flagship. It causes the infected beings to literally melt into primordial goo.
  • Terraria has a biome literally referred to as "The Corruption", which primarily consists of nigh-indestructible stone that spawns eldritch abominations and infects local plantlife, spreading it as far as plantlife can spread. It can effectively take over sections of the map far beyond where it initially appears. Fortunately it can't take over anything but dirt so it can't spread too far...usually.
    • Of course, once the Wall of Flesh is defeated in The Underworld, The Corruption powers up, gaining the ability to spread through any natural block. The only way to stop it now is by countering it with The Hallow. Though The Hallow is merely a prettier corruption, as it spreads just like The Corruption, and some of the enemies found in The Hallow are just as dangerous as those found in The Corruption. The Hallow doesn't totally kill natural plant life, though, while The Corruption ruins everything it touches.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, we have a powerful, unpredictable magic known as Chaos in Adventure Quest Worlds. Basically, Chaos is a virus-like magical energy that can chaorrupt (short for chaos corrupt) objects and beings, and can also control their minds, making them Brainwashed and Crazy. This viral magic is controlled by the Big Bad, Drakath, and his Co-Dragons, the 13 Lords of Chaos.
    • Ledgermayne, the seventh Lord of Chaos, is chaos magic personified. To be fair, it was just a mass of mana floating in the Para-Elemental Plane of Magic when Drakath's chaotic influence gave it self-awareness. So much that Ledgermayne was uncontrollable, even by its own Truly Single Parent.
    • There's also the Chaos Shaper class, which players can buy after having had 15 months of membership in total. It lets them use the power of Chaos to land unpredictable effects on either themselves or their targets.
  • Imulsion in Gears of War infects anything organic that it touches, and gradually mutates it into a "lambent" form.
  • In Corpse Party, we have have the "darkening", in which the souls of anyone who completely loses hope of surviving in Heavenly Host Elementary are corrupted. Anyone afflicted with it essentially becomes an empty husk, rendering them beyond saving.
  • Corruption Of Champions fetish game features the corruption in the form of a demonic magic that spreads through sexual actions with other corrupt individuals and imbibing substances that contain corruption. Mentally, corruption slowly strips away your sexual and moral inhibitions. Physically it warps your body into a variety of different forms, most often with big endowments. Eventually, it will cause you to literally orgasm out your soul as a Power Crystal, turning you into a full fledged Horny Devil.
  • The Gohma, which are stated as being corrupt impure beings that take the form of rocky and lava-esue animals. The strongest of them all are planet sized and can easily destroy planets casually, and nearly destroyed mankind. It took the combined power of Asura and the other deities to defeat them the first time around, but are hinted at making a comeback.


Web Original Edit

  • In the Whateley Universe, this is exactly what Big Bad Eldritch Abomination 'The Bastard' (real name unknown) is unleashing. It's so horrific that it corrupts werewolves into Body Horror slaves of The Bastard, which should be impossible. They're attacking a reservation of werewolves (and other were-animals) and Whateley Academy in the current Fey storyline, and when two innocent policemen are exposed, they have already turned into Body Horror monstrosities by the time Fey and her team find them. Fey has to kill them and disintegrate the corpses.
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, this is one of The Blood Red King's favorite tactics: find an innocent person and turn them into monsters by granting them power and turning off any sort of moral control over that power and then letting them loose on the unsuspecting populace.
  • Zalgo.


Western Animation Edit

  • Dark Energon in Transformers Prime is more or less the Transformer equivalent of Satan's blood. Anything it touches becomes motile and malevolent, including dead bodies. Living 'bots that take it in tend to get powerups, but also go insane as they bend slowly to Unicron's will[3].
    • Also makes an appearance in Transformers: War for Cybertron, a videogame to which Transformers Prime is sorta a sequel. Its less corrupting there for living or formerly living things, but a lot more corrupting for nonliving things and feral creatures.
      • The novel Transformers: Exodus, which is sort of a prequel and adaptation of the game, is very explicit about the corruptive influence of Dark Energon. Start with euphoria, boosted power, and greatly increased violent tendencies... then add on instant addiction that will kill you real real slow if you try to kick the habit. Oh, and the stuff turns any normal Energon it comes in contact with into more Dark Energon.


Real Life Edit

  • Methamphetamine abuse and addiction. For many users, the first few uses of methamphetamine provide great pleasure or greatly reduced need for things such as food and sleep, increased sex drive, and greatly increased focus and perceived capability - turning early users into work and sex machines. Unfortunately, the lack of sleep and the drug effect itself produces amphetamine psychosis and paranoia, the need for sex can make users make very unsafe sexual decisions, and addiction and tolerance means that more and more of the drug needs to be used to get the "good" effects - which increases the likelihood of the "bad" effects, and the human body is not capable of going without sleep and nutrition. Look up "faces of meth," or go to Erowid's meth vault to see what happens next.
    • Before meth was discovered, some people used cocaine or its derivatives (such as the Russian Civil War-era "Baltic Tea" (a solution of cocaine in vodka) for this purpose.
  • Puberty, from a certain perspective. Warps both the body and mind into a reproductive machine, and generally results in becoming very boring.

Notes

  1. Lord Jagged
  2. For the most part, anyway. While on the Valhalla, you can scan a dead P.E.D. Trooper whose suit malfunctioned. The results are quite disturbing.
  3. Megatron, the primary infected so far, seems to be doing pretty well as far as independence goes so far, but he also seems to act like the dark energon is telling him what to do at times

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