Created By: darkjezter on May 28, 2012 Last Edited By: nitrokitty on April 27, 2014
Nuked

Liquid Courage (Page Action Crowner)

A character consumes alcohol before doing something that scares them.

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Page Type:
Trope
Page Action Crowner here.

The consumption of alcohol has many effects on a person, one of which is the lowering of inhibitions. It can make a person feel more confident in their abilities, eliminate self-consciousness and doubt, and just plain make things seem less frightening. As a result, some people will consume alcohol in a deliberate attempt to bolster their courage before doing something they consider scary or intimidating.

The fearsome event can be anything from relatively minor (giving a speech) to life-altering (proposing marriage) to life-threatening (actual combat); the key to this trope is that someone (usually the drinker) feels the anticipated event warrants the alcoholic aid. Occasionally, the booze is provided by someone else who thinks it will be helpful.

Contrast Drowning My Sorrows (in which a character drinks to forget something that makes them feel sad or depressed), I Need a Freaking Drink (in which a character consumes a stress-reducing drink after the event, not before) and In Vino Veritas (in which a character speaks their thoughts a little too openly when drunk).

Examples:

Comics
  • Tintin. Captain Haddock doesn't need booze to fight capably, but can go Leeroy Jenkins when drunk.

Film
  • In Darling Lili, Bill and Lili discuss the perpetually drunk pilot T.C.:
    Lili: Why does he drink?
    Bill: Because he's afraid to fly.
    Lili: Then why does he fly?
    Bill: Because he likes to drink.
  • In the film Detroit Rock City, the character Hawk enters an amateur competition at a male strip club in an attempt to win money to buy concert tickets. Because he has stuch horrible stage fright he drinks several cocktails before going on stage... and subsequently pukes all over the place.
  • In the film version of Return of the King, Samwise Gamgee chugs an entire mug of ale before asking Rosie to dance with him.
  • In The Dark Knight Alfred Pennyworth offers "liquid courage" to Harvey Dent face the crowd in his own party.
  • After the bar brawl in Serenity, Jayne was freaked out by River even in her confinement. He wouldn't have confronted her if he was sober, especially considering that was close to the mistake that almost got him thrown out of the airlock during the TV show.

Literature
  • In the book of The Wizard of Oz, the "courage" that the Cowardly Lion is given is in a liquid form.
  • P.G. Wodehouse loves this trope. Several of his books feature timid young men having a slug of brandy or the like when nerving themselves up to propose to their dream girls. A particularly notable example is in Right Ho, Jeeves, when both Jeeves and Bertie separately spike Gussie Fink-Nottle's orange juice before he has to make a prize-giving speech at a local school. They each intend to give him a little extra "courage" without his knowledge, but it leads to Gussie showing up completely plastered.
  • Discworld. In Carpe Jugulum, Nanny Ogg tells Agnes that vampire hunters get roaring drunk before setting out, both to encourage themselves and to prevent Mind Control (if their own minds are muddled, the vampire can't control the person entirely). Leeroy Jenkins when drunk.
  • The Smart Guy Matthew Berdishevsky in Pelagia and the Red Rooster (spin-off of the Erast Fandorin) is usually prim and proper to a fault, but when The Power of Love hits him, he starts drinking and suddenly goes all James Bond on the baddies.

Live-Action Television
  • Invoked in the old Jose Jimenez routine on The Steve Allen Show as performed by Bill Dana. The joke centered on the common use of 'blastoff' in spaceflight references.
    Jose: I take a blast before I take off. Otherwise, I don't wanna go near that thing.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Gift," the gang pauses before the walk towards Glory's crazy tower of doom. Willow off-handedly comments that she could use a shot of courage right about now. Spike's hand appears from offscreen, offering her a flask. Willow thanks him, but says that she meant the real kind of courage. Spike does the equivalent of a shrug and takes a swig himself.
  • Agatha Christie
    • In the 2004 adaptation of The Murder at the Vicarage, the character Sylvia Lester speaks of needing "Dutch courage" before telling Lettice Protheroe that she's the girl's mother. Mrs. Lester is depicted as a frequent drinker; she offers "a stiffener" from her own flask at a tea party, and she's often seen at a local hotel bar.
    • In the 2006 adaptation of The Moving Finger, hard-drinking war veteran Jerry Burton (who also narrates the episode) speaks of needing "Dutch courage" at one point. His use of alcohol to cope with life after his wartime experiences jumpstarts the plot, since he crashes his motorcycle and goes to a small village to recuperate.
  • Kaamelott. Bohort, a complete Dirty Coward, once got drunk and turned into an aggressive warmonger.
  • Raj from The Big Bang Theory isn't able to talk to women unless he is drinking alcohol, or thinks he is drinking alcohol.

Tabletop Games
  • In the board game Red November, gnome sailors on a prototype submarine have to survive 60 minutes until they get rescued while the ship is struck by all kinds of disasters and a colossal Kraken is lurking outside. When a gnome wishes to enter a burning room, he has to either use a fire extinguisher or drink a bottle of vodka to brave the flames.

Theater
  • In The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) the actor playing Romeo is about to drink the poison, kiss the actor (note: actor) playing Juliet, and die. He swigs, looks at the man lying down in front of him, pauses with disgust and indecision, then takes another swig of "poison" as if he needs it to deaden his senses for the kiss ahead.

Video Games
  • In the game Eternal Darkness, Edward Roivas starts off his level with many doses of a drink called "Liquid Courage"- which refills your sanity meter.

Western Animation

Real Life
Krasovsky was fired from the government-backed cable network that he had helped launch within hours of the broadcast.

Community Feedback Replies: 70
  • May 28, 2012
    KTera
    Covered by Dutch Courage on In Vino Veritas.
  • May 28, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Raj from Big Bang Theory isn't able to talk to women unless he is drinking alcohol, or thinks he is drinking alcohol.
  • May 29, 2012
    Koveras
  • May 29, 2012
    chicagomel
    Live Action TV: invoked in the old Jose Jimenez routine on The Steve Allen Show as performed by Bill Dana. The joke centered on the common use of 'blastoff' in spaceflight references.
    Jose: I take a blast before I take off. Otherwise, I don't wanna go near that thing.
  • May 29, 2012
    Duncan
    Something of a Brick Joke in the book of The Wizard Of Oz- the "courage" that the Cowardly Lion is given is in a liquid form.
  • May 29, 2012
    AP
    • When Iron Man was going through the most severe stages of his alcoholism, he would sometimes drink before battle, stating that it helped his resolve. Obviously, this was seen as self-denial.
  • May 29, 2012
    hevendor717
    In the game Eternal Darkness, Edward Roivas starts off his level with many doses of a drink called "Liquid Courage"- which refills your sanity meter. Though it's not explicitly stated to be alcohol, rather than some psychiatric potion made by him.
  • May 29, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^^^Getting Crap Past The Radar, I think you mean.
  • May 30, 2012
    NightNymph
    • In the Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode "The Gift," the gang pauses before the walk towards Glory's crazy tower of doom. Willow off-handedly comments that she could use a shot of courage right about now. Spike's hand appears from offscreen, offering her a flask. Willow thanks him, but says that she meant the real kind of courage. Spike does the equivalent of a shrug and takes a swig himself.
  • May 30, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Averted in another episode of The Simpsons, "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses", where Barney thinks he needs beer in order to fly a helicopter to save the children, but Homer convinces him "You have to be sober for this".
  • July 1, 2013
    enkephalin07
    After the bar brawl in Serenity, Jayne was freaked out by River even in her confinement. He wouldn't have confronted her if he was sober, especially considering that was close to the mistake that almost got him thrown out of the airlock during the TV show.
  • July 1, 2013
    Larkmarn
    This is covered by Quick Nip and the Dutch Courage portion of In Vino Veritas.
  • July 1, 2013
    Goldfritha
    Also constrast Bottled Heroic Resolve.
  • July 1, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Not a fan of Liquid Courage. Seems too close to BHR for me. Booze Of Bravery?
  • July 2, 2013
    lexicon
    How is this different from Bottled Heroic Resolve?
  • July 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    Bottled Heroic Resolve is about making a badly functioning body to act normally for some time; this one is about the mind.

    This is very much Truth In Television.
  • July 2, 2013
    XFllo
    I would also say that I Need A Freaking Drink might cover it, though admittedly, I have to read the article again. But a shot of alcohol when you need to calm yourself down after screw-up or before a stressful situations might be the same (Tropes Are Flexible).
  • July 2, 2013
    Tuomas
    Like K Tera said in the first post, this is already covered by In Vino Veritas. Read the full description of that trope. At the moment there are several similar and/or overlapping alcohol tropes (In Vino Veritas, Bottled Heroic Resolve, I Need A Freaking Drink, Drunken Master), so I don't think new subtropes are needed.
  • July 2, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^ "Dutch Courage" is the only subtype of In Vino Veritas that does not have its own article. In Vino Veritas as a whole does not cover this specifically.
  • July 2, 2013
    ChillinChum
    We don't have this already? It's definitely it's own trope, definitely, even if it doesn't show up that much.
  • July 2, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    I'd never heard the phrase "Dutch courage" before, but I have heard "liquid courage". Should be an alt title if it isn't the launch title.
  • July 2, 2013
    DracMonster
    I was the one that proposed and launched In Vino Veritas (under a different name. My very first launch, **SNIFF**) I shoehorned Dutch Courage in there after some deliberation since we didn't have a page for that concept, but it's not really the same (since its usually deliberate.)

    It could be split into its own page, and move examples from there.
  • July 5, 2013
    ChillinChum
    example: grey's anatomy had an episode where the widowed husband of a patient who died in their hospital goes on a shooting spree and kills a few people. As it turns out, he believes he has dealt out revenge on all the people in particular he wanted to knock off, but then he finds he has only one bullet remaining, which he must either use for to shoot himself, or his last target, the hospital superintendent. He had a flask which he describes as being his "liquid courage," in order to do all this, but never takes a swig from it until he is stuck with this dilemma, in which he then can't stop drinking from.
  • July 28, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    ^^ I really think this is distinct from In Vino Veritas. Both tropes use the suppression-of-inhibitions property of alcohol, but in the service of different things.

    ^^^ I'm not sure just how old the phrase "Dutch courage" is, or whether it's specific to Britain (or simply more prevalent there). I've heard it twice in media set in Britain in the 1950s:

    Live-Action Television:
    • in the 2004 adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Murder at the Vicarage, the character Sylvia Lester speaks of needing "Dutch courage" before telling Lettice Protheroe that she's the girl's mother. Mrs. Lester is depicted as a frequent drinker; she offers "a stiffener" from her own flask at a tea party, and she's often seen at a local hotel bar.
    • In the 2006 adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Moving Finger, hard-drinking war veteran Jerry Burton (who also narrates the episode) speaks of needing "Dutch courage" at one point. His use of alcohol to cope with life after his wartime experiences jumpstarts the plot, since he crashes his motorcycle and goes to a small village to recuperate.

  • July 29, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ According to The Other Wiki, the phrase "Dutch courage" goes back to the 17th century (1600's).
  • July 29, 2013
    Chabal2
    • Discworld: In Carpe Jugulum, Nanny Ogg tells Agnes that vampire hunters get roaring drunk before setting out, both to encourage themselves and to prevent Mind Control (if their own minds are muddled, the vampire can't control the person entirely).
    • Tintin: Captain Haddock doesn't need booze to fight capably, but can go Leeroy Jenkins when drunk.
    • Kaamelott: Bohort, a complete Dirty Coward, once got drunk and turned into an aggressive warmonger.
  • July 29, 2013
    Koveras
    This one could use a few Rolling Updates.
  • July 29, 2013
    DAN004
    Or upping it for grabs.
  • July 29, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    @ Arivne Thanks for that. I wonder if "Dutch Courage" should be a redirect for this, or if it's a bit too pejorative? If those Miss Marple productions are correct, by the 1950s the phrase had generalized from a specific form of alcohol (gin) to other distilled spirits (if not to alcoholic beverages generally).

    @ Koveras and DAN004 This already has an OP and a subsequent editor. Perhaps one or both of them will step up?
  • July 29, 2013
    jayoungr
    (Literature) P.G. Wodehouse loves this trope. Several of his books feature timid young men having a slug of brandy or the like when nerving themselves up to propose to their dream girls.

    A particularly notable example is in Right Ho, Jeeves, when both Jeeves and Bertie separately spike Gussie Fink-Nottle's orange juice before he has to make a prize-giving speech at a local school. They each intend to give him a little extra "courage" without his knowledge, but it leads to Gussie showing up completely plastered.
  • July 29, 2013
    robbulldog
    Suggested/Played with in Back To The Future.

    Lou! Give me a milk! Chocolate!
  • July 29, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Tabletop Games

    In the boardgame Red November (gnome sailors on a prototype submarine have to survive 60 minutes until they get rescued while the ship is struck by all kinds of desasters and a colossal Kraken is lurking outside), when a gnome wishes to enter a burning room, he has to either use a fire extinguisher or drink a bottle of vodka to brave the flames.
  • August 2, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    Perhaps we should have a single proposition crowner on the matter of splitting this off from In Vino Veritas? I'll grant the suppression of inhibitions would make them siblings, but I think booze-induced candour and booze-fueled courage to act are different things.

    @ robbulldog Why is that Drink Order being placed? If the speaker is just coping with a bad day, that would be I Need A Freaking Drink. If the speaker is preparing to do something that they find risky or intimidating, that would be this trope.
  • August 2, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Page Action plz.
  • August 2, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    In The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare Abridged the actor playing Romeo is about to drink the poison, kiss the actor (note: actor) playing Juliet, and die. He swigs, looks at the man lying down in front of him, pauses with disgust and indecision, then takes another swig of "poison" as if he needs it to deaden his senses for the kiss ahead.
  • August 2, 2013
    CluLegacy
    Film

    In The Dark Knight Alfred Pennyworth offers "liquid courage" to Harvey Dent face the crowd in his own party.
  • August 7, 2013
    aurora369
    Used by the Soviet Army during WWII. "The Peoples' Commissar's 100 grams" were a shot of vodka given to every soldier before attack.
  • August 9, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
  • August 12, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    Crowner is two to one in favour of splitting this from In Vino Veritas, but only three votes so far.
  • August 15, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    Real Life
    Krasovsky was fired from the government-backed cable network that he had helped launch within hours of the broadcast.

  • August 29, 2013
    jayoungr
    Film
    • In Darling Lili, Bill and Lili discuss the perpetually drunk pilot T.C.:
      Lili: Why does he drink?
      Bill: Because he's afraid to fly.
      Lili: Then why does he fly?
      Bill: Because he likes to drink.
  • August 31, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    I'm in the process of putting in the category headings and adding examples from here, though I'm shortly headed for bed.

    @ AP Is the Iron Man example you give from the comic books? The films? Both?

    @ robbulldog Is that before facing something intimidating or after? I don't recall Back To The Future that well.

    @ ChillinChum I've never seen the series. Any idea what season or what episode so I can search for more specifics?

    Crowner was +4 for splitting this from In Vino Veritas and -2 against last time I looked. When should I start moving Dutch Courage examples from that page? More votes first or what?
  • September 1, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ You should only move over examples from an already existing trope after the new trope is launched.

    Why not? A lot of YKTTW proposals never get launched for whatever reason, and if the examples were moved to such a YKTTW they could be be lost.
  • September 1, 2013
    chicagomel
    Bill Dana referred to this in his Reluctant Astronaut routine (often imitated in the Project Mercury days by astronaut Alan Shepard), about why it's called "blast-off" or "lift-off".
    Dana: I take a blast before I lift off. Otherwise, I don't wanna go near that thing.
    (stand up comedy)
  • September 2, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    ^ Thanks for the additional info; I'll add it to the existing entry.

    @ Arivne Thank you. I don't think I've ever been involved in splitting material from an existing trope before. Now, how do we get enough hats to launch this?
  • September 9, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    Bump for hats.
  • October 11, 2013
    69BookWorM69

    One more hat to launch.
  • October 12, 2013
    Snicka
    The Simpsons is listed at Live Action TV now, despite being an animated show. Fix that before launching.
  • October 15, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    I will when I have access to a computer. Working via smartphone is a bit of a challenge, batterywise.

    It needs another hat anyway.
  • November 1, 2013
    Arivne
    Literature
    • "The Vampire of Kring", a short story by an anonymous author that appeared in the November 14th, 1856 edition of Chambers Repository magazine. When a dead man comes back as a vampire, the Supan (chief magistrate) of the town of Kring summons some stout-hearted men and "fortifies them in advance with a judicious allowance of strong cordial" (i.e. gets them liquored up so they won't be afraid) before sending them after the vampire.
    • Emile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian's 1862 ghost story "The White and the Black". As a man attends a baptism with weird supernatural undertones, he fills his glass with alcohol to give himself courage.
  • November 1, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work names.
  • November 2, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch?
  • November 2, 2013
    Generality
    • This is part of a puzzle in Tales Of Monkey Island. Guybrush must find physical representations of abstract ideas to complete a spell: guidance, anchor, courage, and sacrifice. For courage, he uses a bottle of grog.
  • December 2, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    Comedy: the punchline to Hudson And Landry's "Ajax Liquor Store." After ordering a huge amount of liquor for home delivery:
    That's quite an order. Are you having a party?
    No, I'm just trying to work up the nerve to go to confession.
  • December 2, 2013
    dalek955
    The Discworld vampire example is also a form of Confusion Fu.
  • December 2, 2013
    chicagomel
    (Nevermind, duplicate)
  • January 29, 2014
    XFllo
    Bumping. Launch soon?
  • January 29, 2014
    StarSword
    Film:
    • In the epilogue of The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King, Sam sees Rosie Cotton tending bar. He drains his tankard of ale, sets his jaw, and goes to ask her to marry him, to hilarious reactions from Frodo, Merry, and Pippin.
  • March 8, 2014
    jayoungr
    Bump. Is it ready to launch yet? (Hmm, looking at the examples, maybe add a sentence to the effect that "Dutch courage" is another name for the trope.)
  • March 8, 2014
    DAN004
    Launch plz.
  • March 14, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    In Pygmalion / My Fair Lady, Pickering takes a drink of port before the ball where Eliza is supposed to pass as a lady.
  • March 14, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Comics
    • In Before Watchmen: Minutemen, Byron Lewis requires increasingly large quantities of booze in order to keep adventuring, as his harness does painful things to his body, and the actual fighting wrecks his nerves. After getting investigated by the House Un-American Activities Commission and nearly getting killed by former teammate Hooded Justice, he finally reaches a breaking point, hangs up his tights, and goes off to rehab. Sadly, he never fully recovers.
  • March 15, 2014
    needsanewhobby
    When this page is launched can "Dutch Courage" be a redirect? I think this is a American versus British English thing.
  • March 15, 2014
    needsanewhobby
    Another theatre example, and a somewhat rare non-comedic use of the trope: in the play "Journey's End", set in the trenches of WWI, Captain Stanhope takes to alcohol to give him the courage he needs to go over the top into no man's land.
  • April 26, 2014
    Elfkaiser
    • To confront the whole situation with Mecha Maid, Spinnerette drinks some bourban to work up the courage. It just ends up getting Spinnerette trying to drunkenly seduce Mecha Maid and pay for it with a trip to the bathroom. Fortunately, they sort things out one hangover after.
  • April 26, 2014
    DAN004
    Add examples and launch plz.
  • April 26, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    Does this include examples where consuming alcohol actually gives the character the strength, speed, skill, superpowers, etc. they need to confront a challenge?
  • April 26, 2014
    DAN004
  • April 27, 2014
    JonnyB
    A key component of the Drunken Master, especially the way Jackie Chan plays it.
  • April 27, 2014
    JujuP
    Real Life

    • During the World War One, soldiers were given alcohol to fight.
      • It is from this phenomenon that came the ethnic slur bougnoule to describe an Arab: when wounded, they said "boire gnole" with a pain-deformaded voice, which gave "bougnoule".
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