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"Memo to self: never refuse to kiss the Queen of the Gypsies!"
Jimmy Olsen, All-Star Superman
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A common indulgence of the Horror movie is the Gypsy Curse laid down by the stereotypical Roma (often an old woman).

These curses come as a unique brand. They'll be done out of vengeance (usually to be seen as a Disproportionate Retribution, at least from the victim's point of view) but also as some Laser-Guided Karma that's being used as a morality tale. Hey kids, don't do that nasty deed because otherwise, one day, you might do it to someone who'll go totally apeshit and curse you!

On the other hand, even when being used for that Space Whale Aesop, there seems to be a law of conservation of Gypsy Curses. The cursed person will find properly getting rid of the curse impossible but there will be some rule that allows them to transfer the curse onto somebody else like it's a forged banknote. As soon as the character finds this out, expect to have the next scene full of the most adorable, innocent looking people in the world. This is all part and parcel of the crazy, traditionalist, demonic disingenuation of the Roma portraying them as revenge focused, not justice focused, uncaring of collateral damage and inspiring selfishness in others. (I.e., it's kinda racist.) It doesn't help that they're often Karma Houdinis, escaping any repercussion for their actions... or even benefiting!

Also, don't ask about why these Romani slinging out curses are always portrayed as impoverished and homeless despite possessing amazing magical powers.

Sub-Trope of Curse.

Examples:


Comic Books

Film

  • In the book and film of Stephen King's Thinner, the greedy and gluttonous Billy Halleck runs over a gypsy woman while receiving a hand-job from his wife while driving. He's cursed to waste away no matter what he eats, a curse to mock his greedy nature. However, these gypsies discover the problem with cursing someone who really is enough of a douche to deserve it, when he sics the mob on them to force them to remove it. The curse ends up getting encased within a pie.
    • The judge who acquitted Halleck and the police chief who soft-pedaled the charges against him and kicked the gypsies out of the town are also cursed. The former has scales grow on his skin, the latter gets horrifyingly extreme case of acne. They both commit suicide.
  • Drag Me to Hell has a loan officer who refuses to extend a mortgage for the third time damned to spend all of eternity in hell.
  • In Mystery Men The Spleen, to avoid fessing up to a fart, accuses an old gypsy woman of it. She curses him to forever be the one who "dealt it", and he is Blessed with Suck and KO capable farts.

Literature

  • Holes had a gypsy curse / Hereditary Curse combo. However it was a condition of a deal that was broken by the cursed member. As soon as it was inadvertently fulfilled by descendants of the participants in said deal, the entire family was showered with good luck and fortune.
  • Thinner by Stephen King is about a fat man who runs over a gypsy woman with his car. The woman's 135 year old father wasn't too happy about that, so he placed a curse on the man, causing him to rapidly lose weight. This would be a good thing if he didn't end up becoming dangerously emaciated.
  • In H.P. Lovecraft's Short Story "The Cats of Ulthar", the curse of a mysterious travelling people causes the eponymous cats to take vengeance on an old couple that kills cats for fun. The mysterious travellers are implied to come from Egypt, making them literal 'Gypsies'.

Live Action TV

  • Hey, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer example! Angel's soul is a result of him killing a very important girl in the gypsy heirarchy. It may seem like he's Cursed with Awesome - except that, before, he was a gleeful killer, but now he's wracked with guilt and a fear of ever being truly happy, since, if he is, he loses his soul and becomes the monster again. Of course, when that did happen, he ends up killing another couple of highly important gypsies, so maybe they regret that condition.
    • They never told him about the escape clause, which resulted in it activating and bringing this back into the "vengeance over justice" problem.
  • Played with on Top Gear when the presenters visit Romania.
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 Jeremy Clarkson: [pointing at his much shorter co-presenter Richard Hammond] Did you shrink that man, gypsies?

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  • The Saturday Night Live Digital Short "The Curse": A businessman (Andy Samberg) is cursed by a homeless gypsy (Fred Armisen) after he accidentally steps on his sacred talisman. The curse in question causes everything he does to be interrupted by a shirtless man called Sergio (Jon "Estrogen Brigade Bait" Hamm) bursting through the wall while playing a sexy saxophone solo.
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 Sergio!

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  • A Romany woman in Murdoch Mysteries puts a Gypsy Curse on Inspector Braddock when he arrests the men of the clan for a crime they didn't commit, although it's not clear how much she takes it seriously, and how much she's just playing into the stereotype. The curse is that he will never succeed in his political ambitions, and by the end of the episode he's abandoned his political ambitions, which suprises her when she offers to remove it.

Radio

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 Jack Dee:These days we have to be very careful not to stereotype Romany travelers. In case they put a curse on us.

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Tabletop RPG

  • Dr. Rudolph van Richten in the Ravenloft setting was cursed by the Vistani "to live forever among monsters and see all whom you love die by them". But then, van Richten himself cursed this whole tribe to be targetted by Undead... and didn't know about either curse until many years later the sole survivor told him so. It turned out that curses invoked by Vistani aren't so special, but they have some traditional guidelines and a better chance that the curse will work.

Video Games

  • In Psychonauts, the main protagonist Raz's circus family is said to have been cursed by psychic gypsies to die in water. This is used to explain why Raz's dad hates psychics and is used to justify the Super Drowning Skills enacted by the Hand of Galochio.
  • In Quest for Glory IV, a gypsy is captured by the superstitious townsfolk and accused of being a werewolf and killing a town member. If you don't save him from being burned at the stake, he will curse you and everyone in the town with his last breath, resulting in game over. After clearing his name, you find out that he really was a werewolf.
  • In Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within, Grace discovers that the source of the werewolf curse that Gabriel is investigating stems from a gypsy curse. After Baron von Ralick rapes a young gypsy girl, an old woman of the tribe curses him with lycanthropy.
  • Killing Madame Toussaud in Arcanum will permenantly penalize your character's charisma.
  • Invoked in one of the missions of Assassin's Creed Revelations, in which Ezio must discreetly assassinate (specifically, with poison) Templars who try to take the local Romanies' money chest so that they'll think the chest itself is "cursed" and be too scared to try to steal it.

Web Comics

  • Near the end of the "Gigantic!" arc of The Blonde Marvel, it was revealed that the giant invader was actually a wealthy playboy, whom a gypsy had cursed as punishment for his philandering.
  • In Sam & Lilah, Lilah was cursed (as a newborn) by an old Gypsy woman her parents accidentally ran down on a rain-slicked country road (on their way home from the hospital with baby Lilah). She cursed Lilah to have any man who falls for her suffer the same fate as teh most prominent man who also bore the name. Her parents saw no need to tell Lilah about this... until she started dating a boy named "Jesus." Oh, and Sam (the other half to the title)? His name is short for "Samson." Lilah is short for "Delilah".
    • This is turning out (so far) to be Cursed with Awesome for those effected by Lilah's curse. Sam gains Super Strength and super toughness (enough to get hit by a speeding car with nothing more than light bruising). We're not told explicitly what happened to Jesus; only that he rose from the dead three days later and is now a Physical God.

Web Original

  • In Survival of the Fittest Spin-Off The Program, Durriken Lovel comes from a Romani family. The family legend is that the youngest born child of each generation is cursed to have horrible luck. Durriken is the youngest of his siblings, and then his name gets called out on Announcement Day...

Western Animation

  • In a Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons, Homer receives a stereotypical gypsy curse that brings misery on all those around him after trashing a fortune teller's office. He gets rid of it by attacking her with a leprechaun.
    • The gypsy and the leprechaun then proceed to have sex in front of Homer. The episode ends with them getting married by Yoda, where they proceed to have sex on the altar...It was a Treehouse of Horror episode, okay? WEIRD shit happens during those.
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 Homer: "Well, I guess everything's back to normal."

Marge: "May I remind you that Bart is dead?"

Homer: "Well, saying sorry won't bring him back."

Marge: "The gypsy said it would."

Homer: "She's not the boss of me!"

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  • Used a couple of times in Courage the Cowardly Dog.
  • Happens in Action League NOW in a parody of Thinner. Basically, a gypsy curses the Chief by muttering the word "fatter". He gains an uncontrollable appetite until he basically becomes a bowling ball with a head and limbs. Eventually, he explodes and turns back to normal.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, a hagfish curses the Krusty Krab after being refused service. Mr. Krabs dismisses it at first, but then no one comes into the Krusty Krab and he starts losing money. He and SpongeBob eventually convince the hagfish to remove the curse... which she does by taking down a "Closed" sign she had posted in front.
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 Mr. Krabs: That's it? That's the curse?

Hagfish: I don't waste good curses on bottom feeders like you.

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  • In Dave the Barbarian, "the Nomads", known for being extremely touchy, curse the main character's homeland with a heatwave after Dave asks if their fishcakes are fresh.
    • Then at the end of the episode, Dave accidentally smacks them with the door and they cast another curse that ends the show.
  • Johnny Bravo: Johnny is cursed to shrink in size by a gypsy he angered.
  • Mentioned in passing in Archer, when Cheryl's puking her guts out: "I'm going to die in a toilet! Just like the gypsy said!"
  • One episode of Timon and Pumbaa has a gypsy put a curse on Timon after he tried to eat her (she was a bug). While Pumbaa was worried, Timon didn't believe in the curse...until the next day when he woke up as a bug.

Real Life

  • A common legend in English Football is that a group of gypsies, angry about being ejected from their land so that Derby County could build their ground, cursed the club never to win a trophy. The club then went on to come agonisingly close on several occasions, but losing either in the semifinal or the final (In one final, they lost 6-0). However, after the club reached the FA Cup final in 1946, an agreement between the club and the gypsies was reached and the curse was lifted. They won.
    • There's also the story that a woman claimed to have put a similar curse on Nottingham Forest (maybe she was a Derby fan...), but it clearly failed, since it was just before they won the European Cup two years in a row.
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