Created By: billybobfred on October 8, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on May 21, 2014

Clean Food, Poisoned Fork

Indirectly poisoning your target\'s meal.

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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.


  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • A Game at Dinner, a recurring In-Game Novel in 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".

Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • October 8, 2012
    • 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
    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:


  • October 9, 2012
    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
    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
    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
    • 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
  • December 16, 2012
    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
    Done in Rappi Rangai in an attempted assassination of the first princess, Hibari, with poisoned chopsticks.
  • December 17, 2012
    ^^ No, because the poison was in the food.
  • December 18, 2012
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • One Red Wall villain would poison his guests cups, while he drank directly from the bottle. Eventually, someone notices this.
  • December 23, 2012
    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
    • 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
    • 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
    I don't see how we need this on the top of Finger Licking Poison.
  • May 21, 2014
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.