Created By: billybobfred on October 8, 2012 Last Edited By: PaulA on June 8, 2018

Clean Food, Poisoned Fork

Indirectly poisoning your target's meal.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Face it, if someone's a good target for assassination, they almost certainly know it. They'll expect their food to be poisoned. So instead, poison the cutlery, or the glass. That way, when they eat the proven-safe food (or pretend to eat the food they can't risk testing), they'll get the poison that way.

A twist on Tampering with Food and Drink.

Compare and contrast Finger-Licking Poison, where the assassin poisons non-food-related items like book pages, envelopes or postage stamps.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Detective Conan, the story "Karaoke Box Murder Case" had Tatsuya Kimura being poisoned by Mari Terahara using potassium cyanide, with the poison kept on Tatsuya's jacket. The poison was applied to the place's Tatsuya was known to handle his jacket whenever he took it off, before he ate using his hands and ended up being poisoned to death.
  • Done in Rappi Rangai in an attempted assassination of the first princess, Hibari, with poisoned chopsticks.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Fiction 
  • Done in the Ranma fanfic "Nekophilia" with chopsticks.

    Film - Live Action 

    Literature 
  • In Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice, one of Fitz-Chivalry's assassination ploys was to poison the cutlery instead of the food.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, it's explained that the Borgias used something like this for their inexplicable "only the intended victim dies" poisonings: the cup used has a special compartment containing the poison, but it only opens if a button is pressed on the cup. So the Borgia could drink from the cup first to prove neither the wine nor the cup was poisoned, then pass it to the target after pressing the button.
  • In Feet of Clay, the Patrician is being slowly poisoned with arsenic and the Watch has to figure out how the poison is being administered. After ruling out poison in the food, Vimes wonders if the poisoner is making cutlery out of arsenic. Cheery explains this would only work if you could ignore the spoon instantly dissolving in the soup.
  • In The Malloreon, Sadi manages to finally get rid of an annoying minor villain by poisoning the spoon he's going to use at a banquet.
  • In Outcast of Redwall, Swartt uses this trope so he can convince Bowflegg that the wine isn't poisoned by drinking some of it straight from the bottle. He tries it on three separate targets, though the third would-be victim catches on, forcing him to find a different method of disposal.
  • In Phoenix Rising, Kyri is suspicious enough of a person who offers her a drink that she only pretends to drink it; it turns out that the drink itself was fine, but the glass it was served in was enchanted to knock out the person who picked it up.
  • In The Sirens of Surrentum, Locusta, a master poisoner, tells of a murder she heard about. The victim was given food with mild poison, but when they made themselves throw up using a feather they died from the lethal poison applied to the feather's tip.
  • A short story in Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina had Boba Fett sharing some wine with Dengar, and putting a drug on the rim of the glass (he used a straw).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Burn Notice, Larry tried to kill Michael's client by spraying her fork with atropine.
  • Defiance, "Everything is Broken": Stahma offers Kenya a drink from her flask when she is threatening to tell everyone about them sleeping together. Kenya is smart enough to realise that it may be poisoned and doesn't take a drink. Unfortunately, the outside of the flask was coated in poison.
  • Justified has this happen in the first episode of season 2, when Mags Bennett shares a jar of her "apple pie" (i.e. moonshine) with Loretta's dad and reveals that while the apple pie wasn't poisoned, one of the glasses was. In the last episode, this happens again only to Mags herself.
  • In one series of Taggart, a serial killer uses snake venom to poison his victims, and in a scene near the end of the series, it's revealed that he administers the poison by sharing a meal with the victim and poisoning the victim's spoon.

    Video Games 
  • A Game at Dinner, a recurring In-Game Novel in the The Elder Scrolls series, tells of a paranoid prince who poisons suspected spies this way, and offers them an antidote — the idea, of course, being that by taking the antidote, they'll be admitting to their treason. He lied, though. Not being certain who was his enemy, and not wanting to poison someone loyal and lose his Magnificent Bastard status, he poisoned only the so-called "antidote".
  • In Wings of Dawn, Thomas' Poison-and-Cure Gambit involves faking giving his allies-of-questionable-allegiance a slow-acting poison, and rationing out the antidote to keep them alive so that they can't betray him anyway. Since none of them trust him, either, though, he's not allowed to prepare the food — but he is allowed to set out the plates.

    Real Life 
  • Emperor Nero had Britannicus poisoned despite his food being checked by a food taster. Instead of poisoning the wine he was drinking, the assassin added the poison to the water used to cool the wine after Britannicus felt it was too hot.

Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • October 8, 2012
    Generality
    • In The Malloreon, Sadi manages to finally get rid of an annoying minor villain by poisoning the spoon he's going to use at a banquet.
  • October 9, 2012
    Astaroth
    I'm going to lift a few examples from Finger Licking Poison, this feels like a sister trope and those example should probably be moved from there if this gets the go-ahead:

    Film:

    Literature
  • October 9, 2012
    Chabal2
    The Count Of Monte Cristo: it's explained that the Borgias used something like this for their inexplicable "only the intended victim dies" poisonings: the cup used has a special compartment containing the poison, but it only opens if a button is pressed on the cup. So the Borgia could drink from the cup first to prove neither the wine nor the cup was poisoned, then pass it to the target after pressing the button.
  • October 9, 2012
    Telcontar
    In The Sirens of Surrentum, Locusta, a master poisoner, tells of a muder she heard about. The victim was given food with mild poison, but when they made themself throw up using a feather they died from the lethal poison applied to the feather's tip.
  • October 9, 2012
    zarpaulus
    It seems that most examples have the poison on a glass instead of cutlery.

    • A Star Wars Expanded Universe short story in "Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina" had Boba Fett sharing some wine with Dengar, and putting a drug on the rim of the glass (he used a straw).
  • October 9, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    • In Wings Of Dawn, Thomas' Poison And Cure Gambit involves faking giving his allies-of-questionable-allegiance a slow-acting poison, and rationing out the antidote to keep them alive so that they can't betray him anyway. Since none of them trust him, either, though, he's not allowed to prepare the food - but he is allowed to set out the plates. In reality, the poison is in small enough doses to cause discomfort without killing, the 'antidote' is sugar water, and the 'recipe' for the antidote is an actually deadly poison. So he actually does this repeatedly for over a week while he waits for the traitor to find the fake recipe and kill himself with it.
  • October 9, 2012
    SKJAM
  • December 16, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In I Claudius (the TV versio anyway, haven't read the book) Claudius' wife poisons her own food and feeds Claudius by hand from her plate. Does That Count?
  • December 16, 2012
    Desertopa
    Done in Rappi Rangai in an attempted assassination of the first princess, Hibari, with poisoned chopsticks.
  • December 17, 2012
    billybobfred
    ^^ No, because the poison was in the food.
  • December 18, 2012
    StarSword
    • Larry (yes, dead Larry) in Burn Notice tried to kill Michael's client by spraying her fork with atropine. Fortunately Team Westen was paying attention, swapped out the fork and had the client fake the resultant heart attack.
  • December 18, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • In Hamlet Claudius puts poison on Laertes' sword in addition to poisoning the wine he expects Hamlet to drink; that way whether Hamlet gets scratched with the sword or drinks the wine he'll be killed.
    • In the Simpsons version of Hamlet Claudius/Wiggum poisons everything in the room just in case Hamlet/Bart touches it (including putting poison on RosenCarl and GuildenLenny, who high five each other and immediately drop dead).
  • December 19, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    • One riddle in a book of MENSA puzzles asked how an assassin could cut an apple in a way that would kill the eater of one half but spare her. The answer is that she putt poison on one side of the knife.
  • December 23, 2012
    dvorak
    • One Red Wall villain would poison his guests cups, while he drank directly from the bottle. Eventually, someone notices this.
  • December 23, 2012
    nitrokitty
    Done in one disc world novel where vimes suspects a poisoner is making cutlery out of arsenic. Cheery has to patiently explain this would only work if you could ignore the spoon instantly dissolving in the soup.
  • May 20, 2014
    jormis29
    • Defiance "Everything is Broken": Stahma offers Kenya a drink from her flask when she threatening to tell everyone about them sleeping together. Kenya is smart enough to realise that it may be poisoned and doesn't take a drink. Unfortunately, the outside of the flask was coated in poison.

    Real Life
    • Emperor Nero had Britannicus poisoned despite his food being checked by a food taster. Instead of poisoning the wine he was drinking, the assassin added the poison to the water used to cool the wine after Britannicus felt it was too hot.
  • May 20, 2014
    randomtroper89
    • Justified has this happen in the first episode of season 2, when Mags Bennett shares a jar of her "apple pie" (i.e. moonshine) with Loretta's dad and reveals that while the apple pie wasn't poisoned, one of the glasses was. In the last episode, this happens again only to Mags herself.
  • May 20, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    I don't see how we need this on the top of Finger Licking Poison.
  • May 21, 2014
    Arivne
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
  • April 25, 2018
    PaulA
    • In Phoenix Rising, Kyri is suspicious enough of a person who offers her a drink that she only pretends to drink it; it turns out that the drink itself was fine, but the glass it was served in was enchanted to knock out the person who picked it up.
  • April 25, 2018
    Chabal2
  • April 25, 2018
    4tell0life4
    This is a twist of Tampering With Food And Drink, right?
  • April 26, 2018
    Exxolon
    The Nyissian eunuch Sadi does this in one book in The Malloreon (sequel to The Belgariad) - he poisons a spoon used to eat soup killing the target.
  • April 26, 2018
    BOFH
    Live Action TV
    • In one series of Taggart, a serial killer uses snake venom to poison his victims, and in a scene near the end of the series, it's revealed that he administers the poison by sharing a meal with the victim and poisoning the victim's spoon.
  • April 26, 2018
    lakingsif
    ^^ that was the first example of the comments
  • April 27, 2018
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Played with in the Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia. In the "Outland-ISH" adventure, the Troubleshooters must find out who is drugging the citizens in ISH sector. When they ask one of the victims if the drug is in the water, the victim jokingly says "No, it's on the inside of the cups. Of course it's in the water!"
  • April 28, 2018
    triassicranger
    An episode of Murder She Wrote has Jessicca attend a party in Hong Kong, where the host dies after dipping century egg and ginger in vinegar. It turns out that it was the glazing of the plate was laced with poison and the host died from eating it when he dipped his egg and ginger in the vinegar.
  • June 8, 2018
    molokai198
    Can't remember the name of this, but I remember watching a video on Youtube about riddles where the twist was that the ice in two people's drink was poisoned, so the person who drank everything very quickly survived but the person who drank it slowly (so the ice melted) died.
  • June 8, 2018
    Miss_Desperado
    Hatted.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=id5tvyzmxwq6zsv34j1f9onl