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 Writer A: Quick! Our heroes need to have some sort of mystical object to find!

Writer B: How about the Holy Grail?

Writer A: Brilliant! But wait, our hero needs an awesome weapon...?

Writer B: ...How about Excalibur?

Writer A: Brilliant! You've got a gift, my friend!

Thus goes the apparent thought process of using the Public Domain Artifact -- a famous, usually completely mythical, conveniently uncopyrighted, yet instantaneously recognizable item from the realms of history, literature, or legend (if not all three).

This is not to say that such items can't be included in a perfectly entertaining and even unique plot, but its variations certainly do crop up frequently, in almost every genre -- comedy, drama, science fiction, fantasy -- and pretty much every culture from East to West. Some cultures have favorite items to use (Holy Grail for the West, for instance, the Ame-No-Murakumo for Japan, etc.), however with increasing globalization and influence of international works on the domestic and vice versa, this has been somewhat diluted in recent years, with shows like say, Neon Genesis Evangelion featuring the Lance of Longinus.

It can be a weapon, a MacGuffin, or hell, maybe both if it's a mystical doomsday device. Sometimes the trope crops up as Imported Alien Phlebotinum (seen often, for example, in Stargate SG-1), sometimes it's a mystical object, and occasionally it's both. Sometimes startling revelations are to be had about the object, sometimes it's straight out of the legends, heck, maybe it's even reconstructed from the original's spare parts. Regardless of its distinguishing features in the story, though, what makes a Public Domain Artifact worthy of the name is its basis on stories of the past -- the collective myths of man, with all their familiar symbols.

There's honestly no telling how long this one has been around; while nowadays it's often used to avoid copyright infringement, it's been around much longer than the patent office. Many ancient authors (and many moderns, as well) used these to evoke the mythos attached to them. If an author puts a supposedly mythical sword in their work, it needs to be supported, but when you hear "Excalibur," it doesn't take any explanation to understand how important it is. See the example of Durandal below, Sword Hector... Then Roland... Then reforged to Ogier the Dane. Later authors name-dropped former heroes to make their mystical artifacts even mystical-er, making this Older Than Feudalism.

In a series set in another world, these may appear, but under different names. Often, entire sets of artifacts will be used, to make the characters feel like they're "getting" somewhere.

There's about a one-in-three chance that Hitler either had it or was searching for it. As the book Angels of Light and Darkness put it, "If Hitler had half of what they say he had, he would have won the war."

In modern series, many of these items are made of low-grade Unobtainium, especially if magic is down-played or completely absent.

If weapons, they are almost certainly Named Weapons and Stock Weapon Names. See also Stock Unsolved Mysteries.

For Crystal Skulls see Crystal Skull.

Examples of Public Domain Artifact include:


Arabian

The Magic Lamp/Bottle

The Magic Lamp/Bottle -- sure to contain a djinni that will grant wishes to the holder, usually with a weird or sadistic twist, inspired by of course, Aladdin's lamp. Ironically, the original point of this trope was that the magician who trapped the djinni (who are really good at magic) would have had to have been extremely powerful to do so, and the djinni would be so happy to be freed they would use their magic to reward the holder.

Anime and Manga

  • The country of Chizeta in Magic Knight Rayearth was inspired by the Arabian Nights motif, so of course it had to include these. Turns out their starship had the shape of an oil lamp, and of course two djinn could be commanded to appear from the spout when needed.

Literature

Live Action Television

Tabletop RPG

  • Dungeons and Dragons this time is closest to the source: in Al-Qadim very powerful sha'ir can make and use genie traps, but even for them this act is rarely conducive to long happy life.
  • Magic the Gathering has "Aladdin's Lamp" (complicated rules) and "Bottle of Suleiman" (which behaves like we would think of Aladdin's lamp. It also has Aladdin's Ring, which does 4 (expensive) damage. In fact, pretty much anything in the Arabian Nights set fits this trope.

Video Games

  • The Sonic Storybook Series game Sonic and the Secret Rings used both the lamp and the ring from the Arabian Nights story. However, the genie was the bad guy and Sonic's forced to reseal him away.

Web Comics

  • Last Res0rt uses this with Sedja, an Efreet who willingly lives in a bottle worn around Adharia's neck.

British and Irish

Excalibur

Excalibur is the prototypical "special sword". It may be called "The Sword In The Stone" which often has purists in a tiff; sometimes Excalibur and the Sword In The Stone are different swords, sometimes they're the same sword. Arthurian legend is a very sketchy Canon. Occasionally called Caliburn or Caladbolg (when those aren't different swords) from the (possibly original) Welsh name Caledfwlch (literally 'hard gap/space', pronounced Cal-ed-voolkh, roughly). It's rarely called that, because Caledfwlch is hard to pronounce and looks rather scarily Welsh.

Anime and Manga

  • Excalibolg is said to be a portmanteau of Excalibur and Caladbolg.
  • In Fate/stay night, Servant Saber's primary weapon is Excalibur, as she is actually King Arthur. It can even be used as a Wave Motion Gun.
    • It's shown quite early in the story that Servant Lancer uses the cursed spear Gae Bolg, immediately revealing his true identity -- the Irish hero Cuchulainn. Many other Servants have ways to keep their Noble Phantasms hidden (Saber's wind barrier around her sword which renders it invisible, for one) in order to hide their true identities.
  • In Saint Seiya, the Capricorn Saints are said to have the power of Excalibur in their arms and legs, therefore being able to use them as Absurdly Sharp Blades. It's regarded as pretty much the most powerful weapon in the entire series.
  • This is subverted in Tears to Tiara, where the Sword in the Stone that Arthur draws is named Danwyn. Cleverly enough, Danwyn takes its name from Owain Danwyn, a Welsh Prince who is a strong candidate for the identity of the "real life" King Arthur.
  • Used in Witchblade. The Witchblade first claims to be Excalibur; Excalibur is introduced much later in the series as a male counterpart to the blade.
  • Excalibur's legend began in the twelfth century!
  • Excalibur is actually the name of the Sword Impulse Gundam's Anti-Ship Swords in Gundam Seed Destiny. Interestingly, this was used by Shiin Asuka back when he was still the main hero.

Comics

  • Marvel Comics has had entire stand-alone comic series named after Excalibur, about several UK-based teams of mutants. New Excalibur, the characters even come in contact with the real deal when they travel back to Arthurian times.
    • The current wielder of the sword is Dr. Faiza Hussain, a doctor of the Muslim faith with the strange mutant ability to pretty much dissect anyone non-magical to heal them! How did she find out? Randomly grabbing it to try to arm the Black Knight.
  • Excalibur and the stone from which it was retrieved do make an appearance in the main series and the spin-off Jack Of Fables, though... the sword is easily recognizable, the stone, however, goes through a change or two.

Literature

  • The Dark Tower series is set After the End of a parallel Earth, where "Arthur Eld" is the semi-mythical forebearer of a caste of knightly gunslingers, and who wielded a sword named Excalibur that he retrieved from a pyramid. Roland wields a pair of antique six-shooters said to have been forged from the shattered remnants of Excalibur -- the barrels from the blade, the handles from its hilt.
  • In The Dresden Files, the holy sword Amoracchius is actually Excalibur. For added symbolic power (which is a real force in the setting) it has one of the Nails from the True Cross worked into the hilt.
  • Unsurprisingly, Excalibur puts in an appearance in Peter David's Knight Life trilogy (King Arthur in the modern world). Its origin and nature turn out a bit more ... complicated than usual. The sword itself has no magic; the horn of the Unicorn King, concealed in the hilt, is a different story.

Live Action Television

  • In Charmed, Excalibur actually is a super magical sword that can only be controlled by the most powerful magical being around. (Makes one wonder what Merlin was doing.) Anyone less magical who wields the sword would turn evil. In fact, the Lady of the Lake stayed in the lake to defuse the sword's power, allowing her to stay in control.
  • Inevitably, Excalibur ends up on Merlin, what's interesting is that so far it hasn't been identified as Excalibur. Merlin has had it forged in dragon's fire, watched it defeat a wraith, thrown it in the lake, retrieved it from the lake, used it to kill an undead army, and stashed it safely in a stone, but for the most part just thinks it's a really neat sword.
  • Stargate SG-1 features both Excalibur and another sword in a stone, both as part of the Murden (Merlin) subplot of the Ori arc.

Video Games

  • In a couple of the Final Fantasy games, Gilgamesh roams the land seeking Excalibur, but often winds up getting stuck with (and occasionally dropping) a 1 damage-dealing counterfeit known as "Excalipoor". When available as a summon, however, Gilgamesh tends to include the real Excalibur as part of his effect roulette.
  • Excalibur and the rest of the Arthurian myth is the backdrop for Tomb Raider Legend. Only the sword is MUCH older than Arthur and several other ancient cultures and actually serves as a key to open a portal to Avalon. And in Underworld it is discovered that Avalon isn't the paradise the myths claim it to be, containing pools of Eitr which turns anything it touches to a soulless zombie, which includes Lara's mother.
  • Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant and Wizardry 8 got the powerful sword "Excaliber".
  • In City of Heroes, Ms. Liberty (not to be confused with her mother, Miss Liberty) holds Excalibur on her belt. The sword was entrusted to her by Hero 1 (not to be confused with his father, Hero One) before he left Primal Earth as part of the Omega Team. Ms. Liberty is incapable of wielding Excalibur, but she carries it with her waiting for Hero 1 to return. Players who run the Lady Grey Task Force learn that Hero 1 has returned... as a Rikti.
  • Excalibur and Caliburn are one and the same in the Sonic Storybook Series game Sonic and the Black Knight. Caliburn is his natural form and, through the power of three other swords and Sonic's own awesome willpower, becomes Excalibur. This also counts as one of Sonic's transformed states as he gains gold armor through it. He's also revealed to be King Arthur, too...
  • Excalibur is a name of a sword found in Aria of Sorrow. However, the actual weapon is the Sword in the Stone (since Soma isn't the destined King of England, he can't remove it from the stone but still wields it), causing it to act like a hammer instead.
  • The French translations of The Legend of Zelda have translated the "Master Sword"'s name as Excalibur.
  • You get this sword by supporting the English forces in Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War.

Webcomics

  • In Homestuck, part of Dave's quest in Sburb is to get Caledfwlch (or the Legendary Piece of Shit). But Alternate Future Dave had already gotten it and upgraded it to become the Caledscratch, so it wasn't really very useful.

Western Animation

  • Filmations Ghostbusters features Excalibur, conflating it yet again with the Sword in the Stone. Here, it's used to set up a Stable Time Loop in the stone age--they get it stuck in the stone that Arthur will pull it from.

Durandal

Durandal -- Sword of the Hero Roland, knight of Charlemagne, as well as Hector of Troy. Supposedly he threw it into a "poisoned stream" in order to protect it from the Saracens; this seems to have occasionally given it a "Darkness" element in fiction and games. It could also be associated with evil or insanity. One game studio has not only used it, but also the inscription on Ogier the Dane's sword Curtana, which read My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Durandal is Excalibur, having been stolen by Orlando/Roland and renamed to not arouse suspicion (because even he knows it was kind of a dick thing to do).

Literature

Live Action TV

  • Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger: A duplicate of Durandal is forged for Dora Knight. The process requires some of the hammering to be done by a child whose birthday it is (Bandora had him kidnapped, of course), which becomes important later because the sword can't harm its maker. The sword is incredibly powerful, able to damage the Zyurangers' Legendary Weapons and even the sword of their god Humongous Mecha.

Video Games

  • In Marathon, Durandal is a ship AI. Marathon's spiritual prequel/sequel Halo features an AI named Cortana.
  • In Fire Emblem's Elibe canon, Durandal is the absolutely enormous sword used by the legendary hero Roland in the Scouring. In 6 it serves as the Infinity+1 Sword and can be used by any sufficiently skilled swordsman, while in 7 it's a Sword of Plot Advancement usable by Eliwood in the final battle.
  • Durandal gets a brief mention in Fate Stay Night, as the prototype to Excalibur and one of the weapons in Gilgamesh's Gate of Babylon.
  • Final Fantasy XII has this as the strongest one-handed sword available for equipment.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII, the Durandal is a gunblade with above-average stats, but prevents the character using it from staggering enemies.
  • In Front Mission 4, the research company the heroes work for is called Durandal.
  • In SaGa 3 one of the Mystic Swords that can harm the Masters is Durend.
  • You get this sword by supporting the French forces in Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War.


Aro(u)ndight

Aro(u)ndight, which may or may not have been Lancelot's sword.

Anime and Manga

  • Servant Berserker from Fate/Zero is revealed to hold the sword Arondight. It was formerly a holy sword, similar to Excalibur, but after his betrayal, Arondight became a demonic sword.
  • Arondight is the name of the Destiny Gundam's Anti-Ship Sword in Gundam Seed Destiny. Like how Excalibur belonged to Shiin Asuka when he was the hero, when he was shunted into antagonist mode by Kira Yamato's return, he was given this to hammer in that fact.

Video Games


Other Swords

Less frequently, you will see other legendary Western swords such as Cortana (which actually exists as part of the Regalia of Great Britain), or Joyeuse. They do show up in Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night and all the portable 2D Castlevanias that follow it. You can find a huge amount of named armor, swords and artifacts -- from Joyeuse to the Masamune to Death's Scythe. The most powerful sword in Aria/Dawn of Sorrow, the Claimh Solais, apparently comes from Irish mythology... odd for a Japanese game about vampires.

Anime and Manga

  • Fate/stay night does this to ridiculous extremes, what with all myths being true, so not only were there Excalibur, Caliburn, Durandal, and Gram (and plausibly, everything else), there's also that minor event known as the Holy Grail War -- it's not the actual Holy Grail though. Almost as soon as it's mentioned, it becomes glaringly obvious that it's not the real Holy Grail, and it only gets worse from there...
    • Taking it even further than that is the character Gilgamesh, whose ability is basically that he owns the originals of every Public Domain Artifact ever.
    • Of course, Gilgamesh himself is a Public Domain Character.
  • The Knight Leader from To Aru Majutsu no Index uses Hrunting, which he reanalyzed and recreated in order to create new spells based on its creation. The Curtana also makes an appearance as a sword that can grant the blessing of Archangel Michael to the people within England. However, the sword that the Queen possesses is only a replica, and holds a mere 20% of the original's power.

Myth and Legend

  • Any one of Beowulf's swords can be used for this, particularly Nægling and Hrunting.


The Four Treasures of Ireland

The Four Treasures of Ireland: the Spear of Lugh, the Cauldron of Dagda, the Sword of Light (Claíomh Solais), and the Stone of Destiny (Lia Fáil) -- which pretty much fulfill the same role as the Treasures of Amaterasu do, but for a Western audience. They are sometimes matched up with the four western elements. The Cauldron is often identified with the Holy Grail but it also gets mixed up with the Cauldron of Cerridwen from Welsh mythology and the Black Cauldron. The Spear gets identified with the Spear of Destiny, and sometimes gets confused with the Gae Bolg. The Stone is sometimes said to be the Stone of Scone, once part of the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey but now housed in Edinburgh Castle but a few less-reliable sources say it's the Blarney stone in Ireland. There's also a standing stone in County Meath called the Lia Fáil. There's a legend that the Blarney Stone and Stone of Scone are both half the original Stone, although the Irish stone is bluestone, and the Scottish one is red sandstone.

Literature

  • Terry Pratchett had the coronation of the dwarves in Uberwald take place with the new Underking sitting on the Scone of Stone.
  • They show up in Elidor, a novel by British author Alan Garner.
  • Grant Morrison has all kinds of fun with this in his Seven Soldiers series.
  • These four artifacts, when conflated with the Arthurian legend of the Fisher King, also appear in new incarnations in Robert Jordan's heavily symbolic Wheel of Time series: the Cauldron=the Bowl of the Winds, the Spear=Mat's ashandarei, the Sword=Callandor, and the Crown (in place of the Stone)=the Crown of Swords.
  • The Four Great Treasures show up in the fourth Young Wizards novel, A Wizard Abroad.

Music

  • They get mentioned briefly in The End of the Century.

Video Games

  • Their approximate Welsh equivalents (or at least symbols thereof) are among the objects of an extended Fetch Quest in Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches.


Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a real place (and it's not the only such circle in Britain, either), but it gets ascribed all sorts of mystic powers in fiction[1]. Nor is it the only one in the world. There's one, also of unknown origin, in Michigan. Stone circles seem to have been popular with everybody's ancestors. This isn't just a British/Irish trope.

Anime and Manga

  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, similar structures to Stonehenge act as gateways to the magical world.

Film

  • The laughable Puma Man uses Stonehenge as where the alien Aztec gods drop their mind-control mask in the beginning and where they pick it back up at the end.

Literature

  • Angus, the First Warrior has Gaoth Cerridwen, the Sword in the Stone, being forged by Druids on the Stonehenge using a nail of Jesus' cross melted with the metals.

Live Action Television

  • In the first part of the Doctor Who season 5 finale, The Pandorica Opens, Stonehenge is the location of the Pandorica. It also mentioned much earlier in The Time Meddler, where a Time Lord, the Monk, claims to have used anti-grav machines to help the construction of it.

Video Games

  • There's at least one Stonehenge in every level of Space Invaders Get Even: landing in them fully refills your time/health bar and invader supply, but resets your score multiplier back to 1.
  • Stonehenge is a wonder of the world in Civilization IV.
  • The standing stone circles in Ultima series are gates that permit rapid travel between the cities of virtue. The Avatar originally came to Britannia via a matching stone circle on Earth that may or may not have been the original Stonehenge.

Western Animation

  • A structure resembling Stonehenge appears in an episode of Beast Wars as an alien beacon. (Note that while it resembles Stonehenge, there's some very obvious differences).
  • An episode of Jackie Chan Adventures was about trying to keep someone from using Stonehenge as a weapon. It turns out to be an alien signaling device, but the aliens don't show up until everyone leaves.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters again. This time, it was the hiding place for one of the "stones from the future"; Sir Trance-a-Lot used his magic to bring the stones to life (complete with faces and arms, no less!) to distract the Ghostbusters.


The Seven League Boots

The Seven League Boots, from English lore. They're boots that let you walk seven leagues in a single step. Often used in video games as Sprint Shoes.

Comic Books

  • Savant from Wild CATS had a pair of Seven League Boots at one point.

Literature

  • Known on the Discworld to cause severe groin sprain without proper precautions.
  • Worn by the Mercenary in The Bartimaeus Trilogy.
  • Isaac Asimov calculated that you could probably run around some of the other planets in our solar system and back again, just by holding your breath in outer space and wearing a pair of Seven League Boots. Also, you'd leave Earth's atmosphere in three steps if you walked in a tangent line, making them a severe case of Blessed with Suck.
  • Elizabeth Bear had Christopher Marlowe enchant some regular boots into seven league boots in Whiskey & Water.

Egyptian

Book of the Dead

The Egyptian Book of the Dead has seen occasional use

Film

Video Games

European Middle Ages

The Philosopher's Stone

The Philosopher's Stone, an item or substance of alchemical legend reputed to allow one to turn base metals into gold and possibly create an Elixir of Life, allowing one to become immortal. Incidentally, some historians believe that the "Philosopher's Stone" was actually Zinc... when they initially discovered it they found what they had was something that could turn a worthless, dull metal (Copper) into a shiny golden one (Brass). By the time anyone realized that Zinc wasn't going to be lead-into-gold stuff nobody cared because, hey, now we can make brass so keep doing that.

Anime and Manga

  • It may be misnamed in Japanese media if the translators missed the reference: for example, the "Crimson Tear" from Soul Nomad and The World Eaters or the "Ruby Prism" from the Atelier Iris series.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, a Philosopher's Stone can allow you to perform alchemy without worrying about its rules. Unfortunately, as the heroes discover, the only way to create a Philosopher's Stone is to kill dozens of people (at the very least), and condemn their souls to eternal torment.

Comics

  • In the DC Universe the stone is in the possession of The Flash villain Doctor Alchemy; not only it can change any substance into any other, it can even do so without touching it.

Literature

  • The first Harry Potter book (though they changed its named to "Sorcerer's Stone" for the U.S. release because they thought Americans are stupid and would be confused as to why philosophers would have anything to do with magic).

Live Action Television

  • Appears in an episode of Honey I Shrunk the Kids, in which it bore a striking resemblance to "the guy from Bosom Buddies who wasn't Tom Hanks" (ironically, the wacky scientist/dad doesn't see it despite being played by that guy). It apparently grants wishes, as long as your wish can be misconstrued as "turn everything I touch into the substance I just mentioned." The climax of the episode has a guy who turns stuff to stone fighting a guy who turns stuff to cheese.

Western Animation

  • In The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest there is an episode centered around the stone. The bad guy wants to use it for his own greedy purposes, but fortunately there are other mystical forces around to help the Quest Team stop him.

Other

The Voynich Manuscript, an untranslated medieval manuscript of a seemingly occult nature, sometimes appears in fiction as a Tome of Eldritch Lore. A list of some works featuring it can be found here. The Pied Piper's flute usually appears in that character's possession in stories or plays, but turns up on its own (as the Pipes of the Sewers) in the Dungeons & Dragons RPG.


Finnish

The Sampo

The Sampo from the The Kalevala, which is especially versatile as it is never explicitly established what it actually is. It seems to be a machine or device used to produce whatever is demanded; we see it churning out gold and salt at two separate points in the legend. Some versions had it as a World Tree.

Literature

  • Emil Petaja wrote a series of stories based on the Kalevala. I believe The Star Mill relates to the Sampo.

Live Action Television

  • The Sampo was a major plot point in the featured film from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode The Day the Earth Froze. Again, the artifact is continuously mentioned, and even used, without it ever being explained just what the hell it's supposed to be, leading the Satellite of Love crew to have endless fun with the concept, culminating in a fan contest asking people to send in their own ideas of what a "sampo" is. The winner: a photo of a small TV set with the brand name "Sampo" showing a frame of MST3K.

Graeco-Roman

The Fountain Of Youth

The Fountain Of Youth, which differs from most of the other artifacts on this page in that it can't be transported from place to place. Nevertheless, just about every fantasy story that runs long enough will eventually address it. Historical explorer, Juan Ponce de León went looking for it and instead got famous for exploring Florida.

Comics

  • It's only natural for Man-Thing to stumble across it in his home in the Florida swamps (and some conquistadors along with it).

Film

  • The Fountain. In a subversion, there is no literal fountain that is being sought by either of the three versions of Tom, but a magical tree.
  • Showed itself in the third Librarian movie.
  • The third Pirates of the Caribbean movie ends with Barbossa going off to find it... only Barbossa discovers Jack has stolen the map to guide them there.
    • And the fourth movie On Stranger Tides features Jack and Barbossa teaming up to find it... and fight Blackbeard.

Literature

  • Terry Pratchett spoofed Ponce de Leon in Discworld with Ponce de Quirm, who spent his whole life exploring foreign countries because people made fun of his name. The Fountain granted him youth, but also granted it to the strong, healthy dysentery bacteria that killed him.
  • Who says the fountain of Youth can't be elsewhere? There are hand-wavium FoYs in John Varley's Gaea Trilogy, Titan, Wizard and Demon. I can't remember off hand which book they are in.
    • The fountains are in Demon
  • The Fountain appears memorably in Tim Powers' On Stranger Tides.
  • The novel Tuck Everlasting.
  • Xanth also has the fountain of Youth. Since Xanth is basically Florida in a Fantasy environment, the author claims that the two fountains are in the same place (in Xanth, Earth, and Mundania ).

Live Action Television

  • In Charmed The Fountain of Youth was like a normal fountain in a city only underground and could be accessed using a magical grail. It was located in San Francisco in a cave.
  • In season seven of Stargate SG-1, Daniel goes searching for the Fountain of Youth, or, more specifically, a powerful Ancient healing device capable of, besides healing, reviving the dead and extending life. Its effects came to anyone who was near it when it was on. It was hidden in a temple near a waterfall, thus originating the "Fountain of Youth" myth.
  • In Power Rangers Zeo, after Billy begins suffering from rapid aging he has to go to Aquitar in order to drink from that planet's Fountain of Youth. He has to drink it fresh from the source, because otherwise it isn't strong enough. He decides to stay on Aquitar after being restored because he falls in love with an Aquitian scientist named Cestria.

Tabletop RPG

  • An artifact card in the Magic the Gathering, The Dark expansion, which also popped up in the book based on it. It's randomly located in some village. The main character hides in it from some goblins and so unwittingly gains immortality.

Video Games

  • The campaign of Age of Empires III is about three generations of people keeping it out of the wrong hands. Hell, you even get to blow it up at one point.
  • The videogame Colonization lets you discover it and get a bonus. Amusingly, it doesn't limit how many times you can discover it, so a player who explores thoroughly can find dozens of Fountains of Youth scattered all over the Americas.

Web Comic

Western Animation

  • Appears in an episode of Ben 10. The guy who guarded it probably should've known better than to keep a supply of its water in a carnival dunking booth, even if it was out of order.
  • This was the objective in a Codename: Kids Next Door episode, in which the Fountain was hidden in a cave beneath an elementary school. A girl who'd used it to remain young for generations had connected its runoff to a drinking fountain inside the school, with a permanent "out of order" sign.


Atlantis

A lost city that sank under the sea.

Comics

Live Action Television

  • The Lost City of Atlantis itself, as seen in Stargate Atlantis, where it had been moved to another galaxy, submerged, resurfaced in the first episode, then moved to another planet.
  • Doctor Who had several depictions of Atlantis over the years: one was in the Second Doctor serial The Underwater Menace, and the other was the Third Doctor serial The Time Monster.

Video Games

  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is about the titular character searching for Atlantis before the Nazis can find it and use its secrets. Indy makes use of various Atlantean artifacts powered by beads of Orichalcum. Naturally, orichalcum originally comes from Atlantis.
  • Age of Mythology set it's campaign in Atlantis.
  • Trident from Eternal Champions fought for Atlantis against the Romans for a share of land. Following his death, his people were forced to live underwater.

Western Animation

  • Atlantis the Lost Empire accidentally subverted this trope. The heroes are able to find Atlantis because they got their hands on both the Shepherd's Journal (a road map to the place) and a linguist who was able to actually read it. In the DVD voice-overs, the creators mentioned several responses from viewers congratulating them for actually using the Shepherd's Journal for extra authenticity. Ironically, the legend of the Shepherd's Journal begins and ends with Disney's Atlantis -- there was no such artifact, legendary or otherwise.
  • Name-checked in DuckTales: The Treasure of the Lost Lamp in the form of Genie's account of its destruction: it was the resort getaway of its time until Merlock couldn't get a reservation. The rest is history.


Pandora's Box

A box that was given to a girl named Pandora, and that she was told to never open. Obviously she opened it, and within it were all the horrors and woes of life, now unleashed upon the earth. She was made as dumb as she was beautiful by Zeus as punishment to humanity - his plan worked.

Anime and Manga

  • In Saint Seiya, Pandora's box contained Hypnos and Thanatos, where they had been initially sealed by Athena. Pandora, of course, released them.

Comics

Film

Literature

  • In The Last Olympian, Prometheus gives Percy the urn of Pandora and tells him that if he opens it, he will free Hope and so surrender. It turns out to be a Clingy MacGuffin -- it keeps showing up after being locked in a safe. Percy finally hands it to Hestia, who can keep it safe.

Live Action Television

  • Pandora's Box also showed up in a last season episode of Charmed, with a superpowered Guardian (named "Hope") who was to protect it so that demons (or anyone really) would not be able to open it and release the ills within. Naturally said Guardian knew nothing about all this and had to go through a (relatively short) How Do I Shot Web? bit before she could save the world. Interestingly, since the Box had already been opened long ago to originally release its contents, doing so now merely intensified the bad traits of humanity--which, aside from the obvious negative consequences, helped to tilt the balance of power toward evil.
  • Pandora's Box is in Warehouse 13.
    • "Empty, of course."
  • In Doctor Who, the Pandorica plays with the general concept of the trope; the device itself is based upon the legend of Pandora's Box (Amy's favorite story). It was made to hold the worst nightmare the Universe has ever seen (the Doctor), but, in its own strange way, it ended up containing Hope as well.

Tabletop Games

  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh Card Game, the "Gold Sarcophagus" is a spell that delays, then forces the draw of a card, possibly opening up a box of worms or setting up anything given enough foresight. This card could alternatively be considered an Ark of the Covenant analogue.

Video Games

  • Opening Pandora's Box is what triggered the ongoing Age of Heroes in City of Heroes' backstory.
  • It also played a huge role in the mythology-themed God of War series.

Web Original

Western Animation


The Golden Fleece

The Golden Fleece, really more of a very, very shiny MacGuffin than anything else.

Literature

  • The Golden Fleece is actively used in the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series. It has healing properties and certain power over Nature. In the second book, Sea of Monsters, Percy and his friends go on an Argonauts-inspired quest to look for the Fleece in order to heal Thalia's tree (a tree which guards the borders of Camp Half-Blood from monsters), which has been poisoned by the Big Bad. On healing the tree, the Fleece also brings Thalia herself, Zeus's daughter, back to life.

Video Games

  • You require Golden Fleece to make a magic harp in the MMORPG Runescape
  • You can pick this up from Jason in God of War II, allowing you to counterattack enemies.
  • In Fate/stay night Caster Medea has this, but as she isn't a Rider she doesn't get the awesome dragon it can be used to summon.
  • In the Assassin's Creed series, the Golden Fleece is an artifact left behind by Those Who came Before, and is also known as the Shroud of Turin. It is advanced technology with incredible healing abilities and the power to temporarily animate the dead.

Japanese

The Treasures of Amaterasu

Asian media, especially in Japan, has the Treasures of Amaterasu, aka the "Imperial Regalia of Japan": the sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi, also known as Ama no Murakumo no Tsurugi, the mirror Yata no Kagami, and the necklace Yasakani no Magatama. All three actually exist, and are stored in three different temples. However, they have never been shown in public and some may be copies of lost or stolen originals. Interestingly, the Kusanagi is rarely actually depicted in the straight, double-edged, longsword-like style and bronze composition it probably should be, but often as a katana. The Magatama is often represented by its signature comma-shaped beads rather than the whole necklace. The Kusanagi was found in the tail of the Orochi after its death.

Anime and Manga

  • The titular Blue Seeds that are the souls of the Aragami are single magatamas, one of the main characters is named Kusanagi Mamoru, and there is a villain named Murakumo who is actually Yamata no Orochi.
  • Ghost in the Shell's protagonist, Motoko Kusanagi, is named after the sword. (It sounds roughly as natural to a Japanese speaker as "Jane Excalibur" would sound to an English speaker... which is probably why Masamune Shirow lampshaded it with a comment in his narration about it being "obviously a pseudonym".)
  • The necklace used to give Inu Yasha the "sit!" command resembles the full Yasakani no Magatama.
    • Additionally, in the third movie, Swords of an Honorable Ruler, some comedy is generated by Kagome's grandfather's misreading of the kanji on the sheath of the evil Empathic Weapon Sou'unga, which causes him to believe that it is the real Kusanagi no Tsurugi.
    • Inu Yasha's own weapon happens to come from the body of a monster and is able to control the wind, one too many similarities to the Kusanagi.
  • Kannazuki no Miko postulates that Ama No Murakumo is actually two swords. And a Humongous Mecha, for an even count.
  • Orochimaru of Naruto somehow has the Kusanagi (which the dub calls "The Grass Long Sword" and it literally means "Grass-cutting Sword") and stores it in his throat of all places, presumably because he is indirectly named after the legendary serpent Orochi, in whose body the Kusanagi supposedly originated. Though it's a katana in the manga, it is shown accurately as a straight blade in the anime, but also possesses the ability to extend and glows for some reason. The Mirror is held by a spirit that Itachi creates with a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that deflects all attacks... and ends up killing him. The Sage of the Six Paths wears a necklace that looks the Magatama, though it doesn't appear to be of any significance.
  • In Sailor Moon, all three treasures became the primary weapons of Sailor Uranus ("Space Sword", based on the Kusanagi), Sailor Neptune (the Mirror), and Sailor Pluto (the necklace, or the jewel from it at any rate, which became the Garnet Orb on her staff). The items are so powerful in combination that -- bizarrely enough -- they can call into existence another Public Domain Artifact on this page: the Holy Grail. Which is, of course, really just another excuse to add another transformation sequence/fancy outfit/power-up for Sailor Moon, who is (appropriately enough) both the Messianic Archetype and The Messiah of the series.
  • In the Gundam Seed series, two of Orb's great weapons are named after the mystical weapons: the space battleship Kusanagi and the anti-beam reflecting armor Yata no Kagami.

Comic Books

  • The comic Usagi Yojimbo devotes an entire Story Arc to the rediscovery and delivery for safekeeping of Kusanagi no Tsurugi.
    • There's actually (to this date) two arcs based on the the safekeeping of Grasscutter (not counting a two issue arc before the first arc that told the back story to the Grasscutter). The focus is more on how the sword could be used to rally people to over throw the shogunate and restore the emperor. Despite this the Grasscutter has some supernatural power - the evil Jei can't corrupt the blade as he does all the overs he wields and it's the only thing to actually kill Jei ok so it doesn't stick at least it did better then most.
      • The sword is also correctly depicted as double edge, straight blade. Stan Sakai the writer and artist literary shows his work with a few paragraphs on whatever the comic was based upon in the letters section.
    • Also in the fourth color special Usagi is forced to recreate the incident that gave the sword the Grasscutter name - a group attacking Usagi sets the grass around him on fire and he slashes the grass around him to create a safe area from the fire.
  • In The Groo story the "Sword's of Groo" that tells how Groo gained his swords based some it's back-story partially on the Kusanagi no Tsurugi. The swords were forged by the Japanese-themed gods and served as part of the regalia of the emperor of a Japanese-themed culture. Considering Stan Sakai served as letterer on the Groo comics and is a friend of Sergio Aragones, Sergio would more then likely to know about the Kusanagi no Tsurugi.

Literature

  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter, the sword is one of many that the Prosperos has.
  • In The Dresden Files, the holy sword Fidelacchius is Kusanagi. It being a katana (or more precisely, a sword-cane with a katana blade) is Justified by it having been reforged in the past.

Video Games

  • The Regalia are especially popular in Japanese video games, also forming the second set of Plot Coupons in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, and also show up in Golden Sun: The Lost Age and Tales of Symphonia.
  • In Dark Cloud 2, you can equip Monica with the Ame-No-Murakumo. The game hints at the idea it might be a fake.
  • Though the artifacts themselves don't appear, certain characters from The King of Fighters are named for them: Kyo Kusanagi, and Iori Yagami (former clan name: Yasakani). Chizuru Kagura is not named for her artifact, but has been shown to be a vessel for the Yata Mirror.
  • As you would expect for a game starring Amaterasu, Okami features the three relics as your three weapon options-- a mirror, a sword, and a 'rosary' of beads worn around the neck.
    • More interesting still, the first and final swords you receive are won by defeating Orochi. And the two most powerful Rosaries look like Yasakani no Magatama.
    • Also note, this is one of the rare examples where all the blades are double-edged straight swords (albeit a lot larger and wider than average) that match the "ancient (read:pre-katana) Japan" aesthetic.
  • The Magatama is used extensively in the Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney games, purported to have the power to read people's minds (or at least see when they're hiding things).
  • The sword, mirror, and "proof of royalty" in Ruin Explorers.
  • In the game Saga Frontier, these three items (a sword, shield, and necklace respectively) can be found in Sei's Tomb in Shrike. Players can choose to keep these items, which are medium-powerful in their own right, or put them on particular pedestals to open the way to the undead King Sei (who promptly attacks the grave-robbers.)
  • Another notable example occurs in the first two Sakura Taisen games, in which they are called the "Majinki" (meaning "Demon God Weapons"). They can grant whoever uses them the power of a god . . . or a demon. They are stolen and used by the Big Bad in the first game, and are destroyed in the second game to prevent the second game's Big Bad from doing likewise.
    • they also allow someone from the Shinguji bloodline to banish the Kouma Demons at te cost of their life... which also plays into Oogami's decision to destroy them, as Sakura does consider their use... like her father did in the first war.
  • The Blue Moon Crystal in Skies of Arcadia, which is also a sacred artifact for the nation of Yafutoma, just happens to be magatama-shaped.
  • Keine Kamishirasawa has a set of spell cards called "Three Sacred Treasures". Depending on difficulty, what follows will be the Sword (Kusanagi, on easy), the Orb (Magatama, on normal), or the Mirror (Yata-no-Kagami, on hard). On Lunatic, it will instead say "Three Sacred Treasures - Country".
    • Also Rinnosuke owns the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, according to the Curiosities of Lotus Asia stories. (He got it from Marisa, who'd unknowingly found it as a kid and kept it in a pile of scrap metal.)
  • In World of Warcraft the Grasscutter is yours for only 60 Badges of Heroism! (note: it's an off-hand weapon)
  • Though not actually the weapons themselves, Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are themed after the Regalia.
  • The Treasures' symbolism plays a key role in Blaz Blue's plot. Amaterasu itself is, for lack of a better word, God, and Kusanagi is a living weapon whose sole purpose is to destroy it. Also, here the Murakumo refers to 12 really 13 female androids that were specifically created by the NOL to traverse and guard the Boundry.


The Masamune and Muramasa

The Masamune and Muramasa. Historically, they were popular, really good swordsmiths. According to legend, however, they were swordsmiths that made swords ideal to avert and perform cutting, respectively. In every place they're mentioned today, though, the Masamune and Muramasa are both swords, not swordsmiths, indicating that no one ever does the research. Though plenty of fiction will refer to a given weapon as a Masamune, indicating the weapon was crafted by him. Compare to the Stradivarii (plural for Stradivarius), stringed musical instruments of extreme quality made by Antonio Stradivari. As the techniques of both craftsmen died with them, and the specific qualities of their works have yet to be reproduced, surviving pieces have become legendary to the point of magical. Or consider modern weapons manufactured by the Smith and Wesson or Glock companies; often the weapons will be called by the company name.

Anime and Manga

  • In the Zanpakutou Unknown Tales filler arc of the Bleach anime, we are introduced to a character named Muramasa, who has the power of making the Shinigami's swords materialize in their true form, and who's controlling them into rebelling against their respective Shinigami. Turns out, Muramasa is a Shinigami's sword, as well.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler has the sword correctly named as a creation of Masamune, though it is a wooden sword. It isn't given a specific name on it's own, just called Wooden Masamune.

Comics

  • Katana, from Batman and the Outsiders, wields a sword made by Muramasa- who was described as being mad; the sword itself steals the souls of those it kills.
  • In Wolverine, the Muramasa Blade is a magical/cursed blade which cancels out advanced healing factors, like Wolverine's. In addition to being freakishly sharp. Needless to say, this is a major item in the Marvel Universe, and has been used to decapitate at least one character.

Film

  • The first Highlander film. Ramirez's katana -- and subsequently, Connor's katana -- was made by Masamune, making them one of the only works to get the whole swordsmith/sword name thing right. Although the entirety of the exposition that reveals this also seems to indicate the writers did not fully do their research:

 Ramirez: Macleod, I was born 3,947 years ago. In that time, I've had three wives. The last was Shakiko, a Japanese princess, in 543 A.D. Her father, Masamune, a genius, made this for me. It is the only one of its kind. Like she was. When Shakiko died, I was shattered. I would spare you that pain.

Video Games

  • The Castlevania series includes swords with each name.
  • Chrono Trigger features two characters named "Masa" and "Mune", who combine to create a big windblowy boss called "Masamune"; they're actually the spirits of the sword Masamune. Oddly enough, in the original Japanese they had nothing to do with the Masamune; they were "Grand" and "Leon", and the sword's name was (wait for it) GrandLeon.
  • Several Final Fantasy games have swords by this name (Auron's ultimate weapon comes to mind); however, the most (in)famous example is certainly Sephiroth's.
    • One of Zidane's thief swords is called Masamune.
  • The Muramasa is the name of the sword occasionally found in barrels and such in Final Fight. Sodom wields swords called "Muramasa" and "Masamune".
  • In Golden Sun, the Muramasa is an Evil Weapon, which curses you when you wield it, but has extremely high attack power. The Masamune is one of the few weapons with more attack power than that which isn't cursed.
  • The Muramasa is featured in Mega Man Battle Network as a sword attack that does damage equal to the HP the user has lost. After two untainted appearances, it was labelled as a "Dark Chip", imposing limitations and/or penalties with its use.
  • Muramasa the Demon Blade has the swordsman Muramasa forge several swords. As such, the Muramasa is a type of sword instead of one specific sword.
  • Two "two-handed-sword" class weapons named Muramasa and Masamune are found in Ragnarok Online. The former raises its user's critical rate, but has a chance to curse its user, and the latter is more powerful and raises dodge rate, but reduces its user's defence to 1/3.
  • Soul Calibur III at least has an unlockable weapon for Japanese Ronin Mitsurugi: the Masamune.
  • Tales of Symphonia has them and at least has flavor text saying they are named after the swordsmiths.
  • Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge to Wizardry 8 feature "Muramasa Blade" as one of the most powerful weapons in the game, usable only by the samurai class.
  • Mabinogi has several types of Japanese-style swords available; the most powerful of which are the Muramasa and Masamune swords (1-handed and 2-handed, respectively). They are not unique, so are most likely named after their creators (the game is not entirely clear on that; however). They are not available in shops or as drops; but can only be acquired from the cash shop or as special event drops.
  • Nethack features the Tsurugi of Muramasa as the Samurai's quest artifact. Advantages include a chance to One-Hit Kill anything up to about human-sized via bisection (if that chance comes up against anything larger, like a dragon, it'll do double damage instead). Its main disadvantage is that it's two-handed, which can be bad news if it gets cursed.


108 beads

  • 108 beads. This is essentially the Buddhist equivalent of a rosary/crucifix. Appears a lot in videogames.

Anime and Manga

  • In Shaman King, Anna has 1080 beads, which are ten times as powerful.


Five Impossible Tasks

In Kaguya-Hime, the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter the title character is approached by princely suitors and she provides them with five Impossible Tasks, the recovery of certain mystical treasures. The five artifacts were the stone begging bowl of Buddha of India, a jeweled branch from the island of Hourai, the pelt of the fire-rat from China, a colored jewel from a dragon's neck, and a cowrie which was born from swallows. Though some of the more clever suitors attempt to pass-off normal items as the fantastic ones in question, all of the suitors are rebuffed.

Anime and Manga

  • Inu Yasha wears a robe made from the pelt of the fire-rat. Not only is it fire-proof but humans (Kagome) have actually survived the lack of oxygen and extreme temperatures while donning it and immersed in flames.
    • In one of The Movies, villains are regathering the five treasures and Inuyasha gets involved when they try to steal his robe.

Literature

  • The Practical Princess references this when the titular princess is likewise trying to dissuade an unwanted suitor - she requests the fireproof robe, then the jewelled branch and rejects him fro bringing fakes. (He kidnaps her instead before she can carry on to more of the requests and the story ends as a Gender Flipped Rapunzel.)

Video Games

  • In Touhou the whole story of Kaguya-Hime turns out to be completely true: not only is there the moon princess herself living in Gensokyo but she also possesses all five of the artifacts from her impossible tasks. (It's how she beat her suitors: ask for things you already have but no one else knows you have.) She is most commonly depicted holding the branch of Hourai, which, in-universe, is a plant that exists on the pure lunar surface and only blooms/bejewels when exposed to the impurity of the Earth.
    • Hourai is mentioned quite a few times in Touhou:
      • The elixir of immortality, formally the Hourai Elixir, is an accursed MacGuffin from the back story of the Lunarian residents. Its creation and consumption was the catalyst of Kaguya's exile.
      • Fujiwara no Mokou, a human turned immortal thanks to the Hourai Elixir, has a spellcard named "Hourai Doll" and "Hourai 'Fujiyama Volcano'." The latter is probably a reference to a Chinese alchemist who was quested by the emperor to find Hourai ("Penglai" in Chinese) and found Japan instead, but also has character back story implications, and the former has nothing to do with Alice. Oh, and she's also the daughter of one of the suitors, and is not happy that Kaguya humiliated her dad.
      • Hourai is the second of Alice's two most popular dolls and is the subject of her spellcard "Curse 'Hanged Hourai Dolls'". In this case, the name is meant to indicate the location as all of Alice's dolls are named after cities or countries.


Judeo-Christian

Things that Jesus touched

Pretty much anything Jesus is reputed to have ever touched, ever. The hair, blood, nails, and foreskin of Christ apply as well. The last one is mostly used in parodies of Christianity these days, though. Also, Mary's milk and the bones of saints.

Folklore

  • In The Song of Roland, the Durandal is said to contain numerous artefacts in this vein embedded in its hilt.

The Holy Grail

The Holy Grail: The cup which Jesus Christ supposedly drank from at the Last Supper and/or the cup used by Joseph of Arimathea to capture the blood of Christ at the crucifixion. First popularized by Arthurian Legend, and used absolutely everywhere since, from Monty Python movies to Indiana Jones.

Anime and Manga

  • Let's not even get started on Kinoko Nasu's Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero.
    • Though at least in the Nasuverse, it's explicitly stated that there are dozens of artifacts which claim to be the Holy Grail, and that whether that particular one had anything to do with Jesus is irrelevant considering its power. Turns out it was made from scratch in the 1800s.
  • As previously mentioned in Sailor Moon it is the Holy Grail that transforms Sailor Moon into Super Sailor Moon. That being said it may not be the Holy Grail as in the manga, and the videogame Sailor Moon Another Story, there's two of them - Sailor Chibi Moon has one as well.

Comics

  • Also the Graphic Novel Camelot 3000, in which the Grail transforms a mutated Knight back into human form, and then, when stolen by Mordred and merged into a suit of armor, creates an armor that instantly heals any and all damage, no matter how fatal. Not that it really did Modred that much good...
  • The Invisibles features the Black Grail, which caught the blood and excreta of Judas when he hanged himself. It bestows ignorance, rather than the enlightenment of the normal grail.

Film

  • In the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, this is the 2nd item that the Nazis are trying to find. In an interesting take on this artifact, the grail isn't a golden cup with jewels encrusted on the sides as one may imagine, but an ordinary, relatively plain looking cup. An interesting caveat is that the grail is hidden amongst many other cups, and if you choose the wrong one, instead of eternal life, you'll die very quickly instead. And on top of that, you can't leave the area where the grail is, or you lose the eternal life part and become mortal again. This explains why the knight in the cave, while very old, is still alive, while his contemporary brethren who left the area have long passed on.

Literature

  • And then there is, of course, Dan Brown who, in his book The Da Vinci Code, stated the Holy Grail is... well, let's say it's not exactly a cup. He was by no means the one who initially came up with this idea, but he was certainly the one who took it to mainly pop-cultured masses.
  • In The Forever King by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy, the Grail is a cup fashioned out of a stone that fell from the heavens, many years before the birth of Christ. Its association with Jesus is only coincidental, and He is not the source of its powers (nor, though the villain initially smugly assumes so, is it the source of His).
  • Spoofed in Grailblazers by Tom Holt, where the Grail is a bowl that was used at the Last Supper, which was miraculously transformed into Tupperware.
  • Inverted in the second Nightside book by Simon R. Green with the MacGuffin being the Unholy Grail -- the cup Judas drank from. Which... was the same cup.
    • No, it wasn't the same cup. It did stop being Unholy at the end of the novel, when it's used to perform a communion ceremony, but after that it's just a regular antique cup.
  • This comes up in Peter David's Knight Life trilogy - the Grail is still in the keeping of Percival, the knight tasked with finding it. Turns out it's magical from catching the blood of the Unicorn King, back when Merlin was a young man. It became linked up with Jesus when he drank from it.

Live Action Television

  • A major part of the plot in Stargate SG-1's tenth season is the Sangraal, also known as the Holy Grail. As Daniel points out, the original Arthurian legend doesn't have anything do do with Christ (as that part was added in later), and the Holy Grail is depicted in multiple ways, including "a stone that fell from the heavens". This is what they need to find, as it's actually a weapon created by Merlin, who is actually a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, and this weapon is the only thing capable of destroying their enemy.

Tabletop Games

  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh Card Game, the "Forbidden Chalice" is a spell that temporarily strengthens the user, but removes any ability the monster may have for the remainder of the turn. This can be used to get around pesky negative effects temporarily.

Video Games

  • Romancing SaGa 3 had the Holy Grail which once held the Holy King's blood. Ironically, it is in the hands of a vampire.
  • The Holy Grail in Treasure of the Rudra is a sealing receptacle which holds a netherworld spirit in it. It's considered "Holy" since it repels monsters.

Web Comics

Fragments of the True Cross

Fragments of the True Cross -- that is, the one on which Christ was crucified. This one pops up pretty often in real life as well as in fiction -- many congregations around the world possess fragments, usually no more than a single splinter, of an artifact discovered in the 4th century said to be the relic. The miniature chapel of the fairy-tale castle at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, a priceless dollhouse filled with precious and historic furnishings, contains a reliquary with an alleged True Cross fragment. There's a common joke that there are enough fragments of the True Cross to rebuild Noah's Ark, but Rohault de Fleury, a 19thC French scholar, measured the total volume of all claimed fragments of the True Cross and found they added up to 0.004 cubic meters; his estimate was that the whole cross would have been 0.178 cubic meters. (This was published in Mémoire sur les instruments de la Passion, 1870.).

Anime and Manga

  • In the Hellsing manga Alexander Anderson uses in his final fight with Alucard one of the Vatican's most important relics, "Helena's Nail". According to Catholic tradition, Helena of Constantinople, mother of Emperor Constantine I, was the discoverer of the remains of the True Cross. She is said to have affixed at least one nail to the bridle of her son's horse to give him protection in battle.

Comics

  • Doctor Doom was revealed to have splinters of the True Cross in his armour in a recent Captain Britain and the Mi13 series. Just in case he'd run into Dracula one day.
  • In the continuity of Vampirella, giving a vampire a scratch with a fragment of the True Cross, even if it is a wound a normal human would ignore, causes the monster to explode.

Literature

  • In John Bellairs' Johnny Dixon series of novels, the heroes' greatest weapon against the forces of darkness is a small cross, worn on a necklace by a priest, containing two splinters of the True Cross.

Web Comic

  • The webcomic Clan Of The Cats has a stake made from the True Cross as the only way to permanently kill Dracula. Which is, admittedly, a pretty good way.
  • The webcomic The Adventures of Dr. McNinja features a selection of anti ghost wizard weapons, including a staff carved from the True Cross.

Western Animation

  • Spoofed in an episode of The Simpsons, where after a bullet meant for Homer strikes Ned Flanders in the Bible, a second round knocks him over, and he gets up again, relieved that he was wearing "an extra large piece of the True Cross today."
  • Guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf from the band Dethklok from Metalocalypse explains that one of the guitars he designed and created is made of the one True Cross, and bassist William Murderface notes that they'll probably get letters from offended religious fanatics, which causes Skwisgaar to quip "Who could be offended by the most religious instrument ever?"

Other

  • The Flying Dutchman is about a man travelling with a piece of the cross to be able to return it to his father who has been haunting the oceans since he died at sea.
  • A supposed True Cross fragment is incorporated into the decor of the Fairy Castle dollhouse at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.


Nails that punctured Jesus in the Crucifixion

Nails that punctured Jesus in the Crucifixion are seemingly less common (God's Hooks, sometimes corrupted into gadzooks), oddly enough, but not unknown, let alone in fiction: they've appeared in at least one really popular series of fantasy novels. The Dresden Files pretty early on introduces the concept of the Knights of the Cross, a trio of men who each have a sword imbued with magical anti-evil powers thanks (supposedly) to having one of the ancient Jesus nails worked into the hilt. Of course, the series also has a pretty firm (and in this context, even slightly subversive) "faith in something gives it power" rule, so there's no real way to tell if they're actually from the Crucifixion or not. In a double-whammy, one of said swords might be Excalibur. The Iron Crown of the Lombards (which was seized by Charlemagne when he defeated that Northern Italian state) is reputed to incorporate such a nail. Similarly, the Spear of Destiny in Vienna (cited elsewhere on this page) also incorporates an alleged nail of the Crucifixion. The Vienna spear consists of a simple spear wrapped in a ridiculous amount of bling (including the supposed True Cross nail). The spear as was supposed to have pierced Christ's side is the core; the nail and everything else would have been added later.

Anime and Manga

  • In Hellsing, Father Alexander Anderson, when confronted by a fully-released Alucard, produces one of the Nails and uses it to turn himself into a holy, inhuman monster to fight the vampire.

Film

Literature

  • Variation on the nails legend: in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, reference is made to how the nails were fashioned. When the time came for Jesus to be crucified, the Roman soldiers needed to have nails made, but no one would make them once they found out who was to be crucified with them. After several fruitless attempts, the Roman soldiers finally wised up and didn't tell the next forger who the nails were for--until he had made three nails and was working on the fourth. Once he found out, he then refused to finish the last nail. The soldiers took the completed three, thus supposedly explaining why Jesus had his feet nailed together instead of separately--while the blacksmith and his family were forced to flee from terrible, nightmare visions of the unfinished nail following them everywhere they went. The forger was Roma...thus explaining why their people wander to this day. Considering the author got everything right about the origin of "Gypsy" and their being native to India, and that their depiction was both sympathetic and working hard to overturn a lot of stereotypes, these little lapses can be forgiven. Besides, it was a pretty good (albeit entirely fictional?) legend.
    • It does bring up the question of why the Roman judicial court wouldn't have entire bushels full of nails already, given how common crucifixion was. (Although most crucifixions were done with rope, nails weren't that uncommon.) Or why they didn't simply buy or commandeer some from a construction project, given how Herod had been upgrading Jerusalem's infrastructure for years.
  • The nails are used as the ultimate weakness to defeat Satan in Magnus.
  • The Dresden Files, as mentioned above.


The Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin, unsurprisingly, has also appeared at least a time or two in fiction of recent years, usually with the implication that it has enormous mystical power. Test results that date it to the late Middle Ages are generally ignored. Similarly, there's Veronica's Veil -- a cloth that the eponymous Veronica wiped Jesus' brow with as he was marched to Golgotha, and which was imprinted with his image. Some scholars believe the Veil may have been the Shroud of Turin, just folded so only the image of the face appeared. There's been recent evidence to suggest that the original results from 1988 were either the results of bias or poor data sampling. See the "chemical properties of the sample site" under the "Analysis of the Shroud"

Anime and Manga

Comics

  • It's the central object in Doug Ten Napel's graphic novel Creature Tech, in which the Shroud actually has the power to instantly heal anything, even bringing things back from the dead, such as GIANT SPACE EELS.
  • Appears in the Wild Cards novel Death Draws Five, in which the Shoud is stolen and given to an ace with the power to speak with the dead, in order that she might summon up Jesus and have him give instructions as to what to do to bring about the Apocalypse.

Literature

  • In The Dresden Files (somewhat unsurprisingly) the entirety of Death Masks is centered on the theft of the Shroud of Turin, in which it's heavily implied (and occasionally all but outright explicitly stated) that said Shroud has some crazy mystical strength owing to many years of being an object of faith. Interestingly, the usual assumption that it could heal (as is a common assumption with pretty much anything that ever touched so much as Jesus' toenail clippings) is addressed, but the book in question leaves it open as to whether or not it actually can heal to the level hoped for. It does, however, hold up improbably well despite taking a beating (and a soaking followed by a pulling), and it may or may not have contributed to a fight, if you don't believe in coincidence. Oh, and it was about to be used as part of a mystical doomsday plot at one point, too... need I go on?
    • Fun fact: The working title of that particular book was Holy Sheet, but the publishers demanded a change. One instance where they couldn't get crap past the radar.
    • For all of this, the jury actually stays out on whether the thing really ever came within a thousand miles or years of touching Jesus. In fact, Harry (as both protagonist and narrator) comes down on the side of "probably not." It turns out, though, that when millions of people in the Dresdenverse venerate something as an artifact of power, they literally can't be wrong.

Live Action Television

Video Games


The Lance of Longinus

The Lance of Longinus / Spear of Destiny / Holy Lance / Spear of Longinus / Spear of Christ / Holy Spear: The spear which supposedly pierced Jesus' side during the crucifixion, reputed to have all kinds of crazy powers ranging from healing to the ability to destroy the whole world in one shot. Three known items are sometimes claimed to be the Holy Lance; One resides in the Vatican, one in the Hofburg Museum in Vienna (having been moved from Nuremberg during the Napoleonic Wars) and one in Krakow, Poland. The Catholic Church has made no statements as to the authenticity of any of them -- perhaps wisely as the latter two have been shown by recent research to be of a later origin. It's used everywhere from video games, to Evangelion (although there it had no relation to the mythological lance, and was instead a powerful artifact of extraterrestrial origin) and even the first of those campy flicks from The Librarian series (where it was inexplicably in three parts, and became a set of Plot Coupons necessitating a whole lot of traveling and avoiding of Mayan Death Traps). Also appears as a plot coupon in the Fullmetal Alchemist Movie, which allows the Big Bad to open a portal between the worlds. Almost any work of fiction dealing with The Nazis' top secret paranormal experiments and super-weapons will mention the Spear at some point.

Comics

  • Used in DC comics set during WWII. Hitler had it, as the justification why Superman or others didn't just fly over and beat the snot out of him and his army. This is a decades-later Retcon, the actual Golden Age comics didn't bother to explain.
    • The Spear has been shown to be one of the few things effective against the otherwise near-omnipotent hero, The Spectre.
    • In the four-part Elseworlds story The Golden Age, it is revealed that the real reason none of the American superheroes attacked Germany directly was that Hitler had a superhero of his own whose power was to negate the power of other superheroes. But The Golden Age isn't canon with mainstream DC.
  • The Top Cow comics heroine Magdelena wields the Spear of Destiny as a weapon. The current Magdelena is the latest in a long line of woman warriors sworn to protect the Catholic Church.

Film

  • A scarily accurate replica of the German spear (which is actually just the spearhead) made a brief appearance in the Hellboy movie, prominently displayed in a glass case at the BPRD headquarters.

Literature

  • American Desert by Percival Everett actually has a reason for including this specific spear--the blood on it is used to clone Christ. Not that it works very well . . .
  • One of supporting characters in mighty postmodernist Russian Urban Fantasy novel Look Into the Monsters' Eyes, a Soviet paratrooper turned Belarussian partisan, turned American marine, turned Mossad operative, turned Argentinian gaucho was at one point of his turbulent life one of the aforementioned marines tasked with finding the Lance. It's also alleged that he was the very same marine who is Wolfenstein's protagonist. Yes, the book is that weird, but otherwise excellent.
  • The Spear plays an important part in the plot of Richard Wagner's Parsifal, which also features the Holy Grail.
  • Appears in the Wyrd Museum trilogy as the only weapon that can kill the three fates.
  • The Dragon of the Grand Canal in The Magician King boasts of a vast collection of magical artifacts, including both the Lance of Longinus and the noose that hung Judas.
  • Appears in Peter David's Knight Life trilogy along with the Grail - the Spear was used to kill the Unicorn King, the Grail to catch his blood. It's also Merlin's origin, and links to Excalibur as well. It's a complicated thing.
  • The Spear appears, naturally, in Barry Sadler's "Casca" series, since the main character is the soldier who stabbed Christ with it. The Spear is in the possession of a cult who persecute Casca throughout history and reappears periodically throughout the series.

Live Action Television

  • The short-lived Nineties Adventure Show Roar was entirely based around this - the Big Bad of the show was Longinus himself, who was granted immortality as a curse after killing Jesus. The super power of the Lance was supposedly the ability kill anyone - that's how it killed Jesus, an immortal god. It somehow made its way to Britain, and Longinus was trying to get it back in order to kill himself with it.
  • The spear shows up in an episode of, of all things, The Unit. Normally a show about the All-State guy and a bunch of badasses fighting terrorists, this particular episode has him an injured man stranded behind enemy lines. When they report their location and it turns out to be near a monastery suspected of guarding the spear, an affluent group of men who throw around a lot of money to influence the government call in some favors to have their rescue conveniently delayed until Jonas takes the spear from the monastery. Some Lampshade Hanging is done at the expense of the "committee;" the character who relays their wishes notes that they may very well be raving mad to think owning the spear will magically expand their influence. Jonas and his injured team member each have a Mind Screw during the ordeal, though.

Real Life

  • The Vienna lance is said to have inspired a vision of destiny in a young Adolf Hitler, and when Austria was annexed he had the lance removed to Berlin -- so at least some of the Nazi connection is actually true.
    • Rumor/urban myth states that a team of American commandos took the Lance out of Germany in 1945 and that it's currently stored in the Pentagon.
    • A one-shot story in British comic 2000AD expands on this by having the spear then removed from the Pentagon and taken to Cape Canaveral - The story ends with a splash panel of the spear as the upright in the US flag left on the moon by Apollo 11.
    • In a twofer, if you look closely at the tip, it has what is purported to be one of Jesus's nails wired into it.

Tabletop Games

  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh Card Game, the "Forbidden Lance" is a spell that temporarily weakens the user for a turn, but makes it immune to all other spells and traps.

Video Games

  • Oddly shows up as a combination NPC/weapon, in Disgaea Hour of Darkness. It stands in Laharl's castle and can be asked about the strengths and weaknesses of various weapon types.
  • Somewhat ironically, in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy X, Kimahri's ultimate weapon was named after this... however it got changed to the 'spirit lance' for the Western releases because it was thought to be too controversial
  • A notable appearance as a weapon in God of War II, notable in that this would predate its more famous use. Which begs the question of what the hell Longinus was doing with it... (Given that the game's spear looks nothing like a Roman spear (or a Greek one, for that matter), can extend and retract, fires crystal-like projectiles, and was carried around by a griffin-riding undead knight....it's probably just a spear of destiny, and not the Spear of Destiny.)
  • All members of Hitler's most-trusted robot knight battalion, who followed him to Antarctica after WWII use mass-produced copies of the Holy Spear to seal Persona selection in Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Somehow "Jesus!" is the only fitting thing one can say to that.
    • In the first Persona (or at least the remake), there is a spear with that name that is an equippable weapon.
    • And at the end of Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Maya Amano is stabbed by Maya Okamura with the Lance of Longinus/Holy Spear, and because of rumors that a wound caused by it can't be healed, bleeds to death.
  • The MacGuffin from Wolfenstein 3D's sequel, Spear of Destiny. Guarded by the Angel of Death.
  • Reinhard Heydrich of Visual Novel Dies Irae uses this as his weakest weapon. It also appears as the game’s custom cursor.
  • The plot of Tactics Ogre the Knight of Lodis is based around the race to find this, as it is the MacGuffin that can resurrect the fallen angel... or kill him. It also makes a decent melee weapon.
  • DoomRL


The Crown of Thorns

The Crown of Thorns has occasionally popped up too. Supposedly worn by Jesus during and prior to the Crucifixion, it's often said to have the power to defy death. Or maybe it's just a really good helmet that saps your HP.

  • Or, in Chrononauts, you yourself may travel back in time to 33 AD, and steal it from You-Know-Who, to aid in your Mission as a Time Traveler, or perhaps to simply sell off as a Biblical Relic to gain a bonus card when given the opportunity to Sell an Artifact.
  • DC Comics also has the Crown Of Horns (obviously a play of words) that allows its user to rule Hell.


The Lazarus Bowl

The Lazarus Bowl: the words of Christ used to raise Lazarus from the dead, recorded in the grooves of a pot being thrown at the time. Used in The X-Files, and the concept was used on CSI. Debunked (alas) by Myth Busters.


Judas' 30 Pieces of Silver

Film

Literature

  • Show up in The Dresden Files. Each one contains a fallen angel, the lot of whom are collectively referred to as the Knights of the Blackened Denarius (or as Harry calls them, the Nickelheads)
  • InThe Last Coin, by James Blaylock, the Big Bad is collecting the 30 coins to fulfill his vile schemes. He's up to 29 at the beginning of the book and close to the last one.
  • In Kathryn Smith's Brotherhood of Blood romance novel series, the 30 pieces of silver were impregnated with Lilith's spirit and passed from man to man, the most famous being Judas, and eventually melted into a cup, the Blood Grail, which turns anyone who drinks from it into a vampire. This goes badly for the guys who find it thinking it's the other Grail.

Video Games

  • The 30 Pieces of Silver also show up as items to search for in Dantes Inferno. Each 5 collected gets the hero a power-up.

Web Comic

  • In Thunderstruck, Judas Iscariot is the progenitor of all vampires, his condition being the result of a curse put on him due to his traitorous intentions as he drank of the blood of Christ at the Last Supper. The thirty pieces of silver became a talisman holding absolute power over his soul; whoever possesses the silver pieces has total control over Judas (but only if they have all 30).


Judas' Noose

  • The noose with which Judas Iscariot hung himself also shows up in The Dresden Files. (It's worn by the bearer of one of the 30 coins mentioned above.)
  • The Dragon of the Grand Canal in The Magician King boasts of a vast collection of magical artifacts, including both the Lance of Longinus and the noose that hung Judas.


The Ark of the Covenant

From the Old Testament, there's the Ark of the Covenant -- though, as Raiders of the Lost Ark demonstrated, it is not said to be something many people can safely use. Even if it doesn't possess any supernatural power, the design as laid out in the Bible could produce a monstrous capacitor, and in the right environment and circumstances, could build up a potentially deadly static charge. Which may be why the Bible also specifies (insulating) silk garments for the bearers of the Ark... and might explain the biblical account of the unprotected man who touched the Ark and was struck dead. Oddly enough, the one thing mentioned in The Bible to actually have supernatural power is at the bottom of this list.

Tabletop Games

  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh Card Game, the "Gold Sarcophagus" is a spell that delays, then forces the draw of a card, possibly opening up a box of worms or setting up anything given enough foresight. This card could alternatively be considered a Pandora's Box analogue.


The Seal of Solomon

From Jewish folklore, the seal ring that allowed Solomon to cork up spirits in bottles. May feature only in finding such a bottle with the impress.

Literature


Norse

Mjöllnir, Gungir and other weapons

Any weapon ever used or made by a god -- especially the Norse-mythological weapons Gungnir (Odin's spear) and especially Mjollnir (Thor's hammer). Mjollnir is actually spelled/pronounced "Mjöllnir". The sound ö is usually unpronounceable to native English speakers. It's somewhat similar to the "heu" in French (like heure). "Myol'neer" (with short o) is pretty close, though. Speak the word heard or girl (the 3: sound) and you will be pretty close.

Occasionally you will see Gram -- the sword of Siegfried, used to kill the dragon Fafnir. This sword has also been referred to as Balmung and Nothung.

Ragnarok is also a common name for swords in RPGs, and there's also Lævateinn, the Flaming Sword of Surtr.

Anime and Manga

Comics

  • It appears Marvel Comics' The Mighty Thor. This version can only be used by "one who is worthy" though exactly what makes the user worthy is never explained. Captain America could lift it, but not Superman (except with Thor's permission, in JLA-Avengers).
    • Sure it is. The wielder has to be worthy of the power of Thor. It's a dual-purpose enchantment by Odin to both make sure that power doesn't fall into the wrong hands, but also to make sure that there is a Thor who will act like Thor once Ragnarok comes around. Superman isn't worthy to lift Mjolnir because he's actually a little too heroic. A proper Thor needs to think like a warrior when the situation calls for it, which means being just a little bit more willing to use lethal force when necessary. That's no slight on Superman, it just means that Superman would make a poor viking, which is as it should be.
    • Once, Thor had a rescue worker hand his hammer back to him. He took a minute to realise the implications.
      • This also happened concerning Wonder Woman in the DC vs. Marvel/Marvel vs. DC mini-series.

Film

Literature

  • Additionally, there's Theme Naming in the Mjollnir's crew members: all of them were named after guns, except the medic (who was named after a magazine) and the captain (who was named after Stephen King's gunslinger). Which fits this theme more, an unpronounceable Norse weapon or the thing that strikes off a cartridge?
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter, one of the swords the Prosperos own comes from Norse mythology.

Live Action Television

  • Mjolnir shows up in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive. Along with the real Thor and Loki. There's also the Spear of Neptune, although Neptune himself is not encountered
    • All the more interesting since one of the villains seven seasons earlier (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue) was a demon named Loki, and King/Lord Neptune himself appeared in that same season. How Overdrive's long-abandoned city of Atlantis squares with Power Rangers Time Force's ancillary materials placing Atlantis in the South China Sea is unknown..
  • This is really common in the various Stargate SG-1 series. Thor's Hammer included. These are usually Imported Alien Phlebotinum of some sort.
  • Mjolnir showed up on First Wave as an alien portal-making thingy.

Video Games

  • Unsurprisingly, Mjolnir shows up in Eve Online. Mjolnir Torpedos deal EM damage to a target. Though it is primarily a Caldari weapon and most Norse named ships are Minmatar....However, perfectly acceptable for an Icelandic company.
  • Yet another Halo example: the MJOLNIR Mk. V / Mk. VI Powered Armor worn by the hero and other SPARTAN-II graduates.
  • Mjolnir is the focus of Tomb Raider Underworld, which is the sequel to Legend. Just like Legend, the mystical "weapon" turns out to be a key to enter Helheim. Wherein the Big Bad is attempting to wield Jormungandr, a gigantic ancient machine that will bring about Ragnarok
  • Touhou features the vampiric Scarlet siblings, each with a potent magical weapon out of Norse mythology. Remilia has Gungnir, which in-game can be used to fire an energy spear of Danmaku, while her younger sister Flandre has Lævateinn, the "Wounding Wand of Loki," which functions as a Flaming Sword. It's unclear if these are the Gungnir and Lævateinn or if "the young descendent of Tepes" is exaggerating her supernatural clout again.
  • Gungnir is mentioned in passing in Fate Stay Night as similar to how Servant Lancer's Gae Bolg works as a throwing spear.
  • In Breath of Fire 4, one of the combination magics is named after this.
  • Tales of Phantasia has a weapon named Gungnir.
  • Gram is a sword found in Castlevania Aria of Sorrow, described as being a dragon-slaying weapon.
  • In Fire Emblem's Jugdral canon, quite a few of the weapons of the Twelve Crusaders are named for weapons from Norse mythology - the Tyrhung (Tyrfing), Balmunc (Balmung), Gungnir, Mystletainn (Mistleteinn) and Thor Hammer (Mjöllnir).

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In Atlantis II: Milo's Return, Gungnir is the artifact the third leg focuses on. It is in fact of Atlantean origin. A crazed shipwright named Eric Helstrom, under the delusion he was Odin, stole it from Mr. Whitmore's collection and attempts to use it to cause Ragnarok. He is prevented from doing so and the spear is instead used to raise Atlantis back above the surface of the ocean.


Other

Necronomicon

H.P. Lovecraft invented the Necronomicon, which has since appeared in tons of fictional works, not limited to the Cthulhu Mythos. Probably the most famous of these are the Evil Dead movies, which gave a striking visual look to the book. This version of the book has since been visually referenced in many places where there was a need to show an evil book. In a case of Defictionalization / Fan Dumb, there are many forgeries of the Necronomicon.

Anime and Manga

  • The Necronomicon was mentioned in passing as one of the 103, 000 grimoires inside Index's brain in To Aru Majutsu no Index.

Comics

  • The Darkhold is Marvel Comics analog of the Necronomicon. The Darkhold started out as a set of scrolls written in Antedeluvian times, referenced in their Conan the Barbarian adaptations.
  • Felix Faust is sometimes seen reading from the Necronomicon. When reading the literature of Tartarus in Justice League Unlimited he refers to dark tomes that make the Necronomicon look like a children's book.

Film

Literature

  • P.C.Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath has a Cryptonomicron-analogue in "The Book Bound In Pale Leather", one of several mythic treasures ( or curses) of the Kencyr. The Book can be bruised if mishandled, and contains rune-spells of such power that numerous priests went mad simply writing them down to make The Book.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld version is the infamous and feared Necrotelicomnicon, the Book of Communicating with the Dead Long Distance.
    • It also appears in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman under its alternate title, Liber Paginarum Fulvarum, dog-Latin for "Book of the Yellow Pages".
  • Christopher Pike made the Necronomicon into the Satanic Bible. There actually is a book called Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie, but it's not the Necronomicon. There actually is a book called The Satanic Bible, by Anton La Vey, but it's not the Necronomicon either.
  • One of the Defictionalization instances was published as a mass market paperback authored by someone only known as "Simon". Inexpensive copies litter many finer used book shops at a bargain price.
  • In Lifeblood, Jack meets a bookseller who owns and closely guards one of these forgeries, and doesn't have the heart to tell the guy he's been suckered into buying a worthless knockoff.

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • The South Park Cthulhu trilogy featured the Necronomicon, of course.

Other

  • Artist H.R. Giger named two famous collections of artwork and autobiography after the Necronomicon.


Holy Hand Grenade

Another more recent artifact; the Holy Hand Grenade from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, despite being a literal throw away gag. Note that this is actually a Copyrighted Artifact, being roughly a century yet (copyright is loooong these days) from falling into the public domain.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • Was a piece of cut content in Fallout 2. In Fallout: New Vegas, you get a slight variation, the Holy Frag Grenade.
  • Appears as one of the higher tier weapons in Worms. It even lets out an angelic chorus before it explodes.
    • Interestingly you can set the timer not only to three but also to one, two, four, and five.
  • One is a findable magic item in the ASCII graphics-based Omega RPG.


Other

  • Nowadays we have U.F.Os, Area 51 and The Greys, which seem to qualify as the latest Public Domain Artifacts.
    • Or, as the quote from Angels of Light and Darkness states, half of what they say was owned by Hitler.
  • Fables seems to be extremely fond of this trope -- which considering it also uses public domain characters as the primary basis for its main cast (even relatively obscure ones like Rose Red), should probably not surprise anyone in the least. Public Domain Artifacts in the series include the magic beans (from which come magic beanstalks, of course), the Vorpal Sword (as described in Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" poem... no, really genuinely as described in the poem, including an accompanying "snicker-snack!" sound effect...), the Witching Cloak, the magic barleycorns that Tom Thumb's bride was supposed to have grown from, Boy Blue's horn, a magic lamp, several magic carpets ala Aladdin, and... really countless such objects, actually. Even Santa's "Naughty and Nice" lists make a brief appearance. Frankly, this reader is surprised they didn't throw in the Holy Grail and Fountain of Youth just for good measure...
    • The fountain of youth is used in the first story; it is what keeps all the fables ageless for hundreds of years, they drink its water during a yearly ceremony.
  • There are some artifacts which are associated with Santa, but occasionally show up without him. Usually his bag (ascribed mystical properties of producing whatever is desired) and his sleigh (or some other fantastic method of transportation).
  • The Go Board that Honinbo Shusaku spilled blood on when he died, which housed Sai's spirit
  • The sacred buffalo calf pipe (Teton Sioux), seven arrows (Cheyenne), medicine wheels (across the plains), and ghost shirts (across the plains). Also, anything reputed to have been touched by a famous Indian. New Age groups tend to love to claim false artifacts. Arrowheads are popular pieces as well.
  • Lemuria and Mu. Mu is a mistranslation of a Mayan codex. Lemuria was a land bridge by Ernst Häckel to explain similarities in the ecosystems of Madagascar and Indonesia before plate tectonics.
  • Some public-domain fictional characters' bits of associated items have attained this status, such as Dr. Jekyll's Hyde-transformation elixer or Dorian Gray's youth-sustaining portrait.
  • The Hand of Glory is a common item in folklore, a magical relic made from the hand of a hanged man. It can be lit like a candle and provides a light that only the wielder can see. Various other powers have also been ascribed to it in various tales - generally something appropriate for a sneak thief.
    • The Laundry Series has Hand of Glories serving as channels from an extradimensional energy source. Not only do they bestow invisibility, they can be used to fire Frickin' Laser Beams, though this causes the hand to degrade. The Laundry usually gets theirs from Chinese political prisoners.
    • Hunter: The Vigil has the Hand as a top-level example of the Cheiron Group's Thaumatechnology. Instead of granting invisibility, however, it grants a light that enthralls all who see it. And unlike other examples, the user needs to have it grafted to their wrist first.
    • The TV Dresden Files adaptation had a Hand of Glory that could let people walk through walls.
    • Simon R. Green occasionally has one show up with the power to open and seal locks, portals and barriers both mundane and magical.
    • Also appears in a poem by the same name in the Ingoldsby Legends where it has the power to send a household into a deep slumber.
    • Also seen in Harry Potter: It seems Draco Malfoy owns one.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter, there are more public domain artifacts per square inch in the Prosperos' mansion than anywhere else. Several are mentioned above. But they were collecting them.

Notes

  1. Of the many theories of its purpose, on of the most widely believed is that it was used to tell what time of year it is. That's right, it's a calendar! To be honest, keeping track of the seasons was incredibly important in the transition from hunter-gatherer societies to agricultural ones.
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