Created By: SharleeD on December 14, 2011 Last Edited By: SharleeD on May 17, 2013
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Mainlining The Monster

A monster is the source of an addictive or invaluable substance distributed for profit or power

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Trope
Where most people see danger in monstrous creatures, some see dollar signs. When a monster is the source of a substance (often a drug) that can be sold for massive profits, or bartered for power over others, then people looking to cash in on its byproducts may prove more dangerous than the creature itself. If the source-creature is non-sentient, expect it to be kept captive as a resource, until it escapes and goes on a rampage. If it's intelligent, expect it to bind hordes of Mooks to its service with its "gifts", to say nothing of people in positions of political influence. Either way, expect those who crave its byproducts to stand between it and any pesky do-gooder monster hunters who might cut off their supply.

Compare Milking the Monster, where it's the very presence of the monster that works to someone's financial or social/political advantage. Cases where the monster is self-aware and its "gifts" are plot-enabling are Sentient Phlebotinum. Sometimes overlaps with The Power of Blood.

Examples:

General
  • Vampire blood has often been depicted as having the power to extend the natural lifespan of ordinary humans, allowing them to bribe mortals to their service with drops of blood.

Anime & Manga
  • If they weren't a massively-profitable source of marketable food for humans, the B-Ms of Bio-Meat: Nectar would've surely been written off as a bad design and destroyed as soon as their appetite for people was noticed. Instead, the Corrupt Corporate Executive whose company created them writes off one catastrophic BM escape after another, and is perfectly content to slaughter innocents and his own son to protect his "product"'s public image.

Comic Books
  • In the French comic L'Imploseur, the miracle drink Ultra which boosts reflexes, muscles, etc. turns out to be the blood of a goat-human hybrid.
  • One of the reasons Gargamel goes after The Smurfs is because they are an ingredient in a formula for the Philosopher's Stone.
  • In the Alien Verse, aliens produce Royal Jelly which has the same role for this species as it has for real-life bees. However, it is also an extremely valuable substance in human society, used as a powerful and mind-enhancing drug for wealthy individuals. Since the only source of Royal Jelly is often deep inside an alien hive, collecting it can be very dangerous. The Hive mini-series details such an operation.

Film
  • On Pete's Dragon, Doctor Terminus wants to get his hands on Elliot (the titular dragon) to be made into medicines.

Literature
  • In Perdido Street Station, the slake-moths are a source for the highly addictive drug called dreamshit, and were being milked of this substance before their escape.
  • In All The Rage, blood from Scar-lip the rakosh is the sole source of the Psycho Serum Berzerk.
  • The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries, and the TV series based on them, have vampire blood as a hot commodity. It's essentially treated like a very addictive drug.
  • Dune's sandworms are the source of the invaluable Spice, without which galactic civilization would collapse. While keeping them captive is unfeasible to say the least, the need to preserve their species runs at odds with the Fremen drive to make Arrakis more liveable for humans, making it a major political issue.
  • In "Andy Warhol's Dracula", part of Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series, the central character is a drug dealer whose product uses vampire blood as its key ingredient.
  • In Alastair Reynolds' Terminal World, the world has been divided up into differing areas of technology, where the laws of reality are literally different from one are to the next, limiting how advanced certain items can be in certain areas. For the people of this world, traveling between these areas involves suffereing from the debilitating "Zone Sickness" that, in severe enough cases (or too fast of a transition between different zones) can kill. Fortunately, creatures called Carnivorgs can synthesize a medicine that alleviates the sickness...unfortunately, as their name would suggest, the Carnivorgs are vicious carnivorous cyborgs who harvest the brain matter from the people they capture.
    • Also from Reynolds: In Chasm City, an alien marooned on Yellowstone is the only source of a drug that can suppress the melding plague.
  • Inverted -- or maybe not -- in one of the Sonja Blue novels, in which demons use the corpses of especially-evil humans as hard drugs. One demon gets bribed with some of Hitler's teeth.
  • Animorphs: The Venber are a sentient race with unusual physical properties, chief among them that if they are brought to a temperature above freezing, they melt. The resulting liquid is apparently an excellent coolant fluid for supercomputers, and the Venber were hunted to the brink of extinction for it.
  • Triffids in The Day of the Triffids are initially culled because their predatory habits pose a threat to humans, but when it turns out they can be exploited as a source of a high quality oil, they are captured, have their stingers removed, and farmed instead.
  • One of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels had a spider monster that produced a spice called glitterstim, which needs to be harvested in complete darkness. The spider uses it to make its webs, while other creatures use it for some kind of mind reading.
  • Star's Tears, from "We Who Stole The Dream", a James Tiptree Jr. short story.
  • The Mercy Thompson series has vampire blood as a restorative.
  • The Red Court from The Dresden Files, whose saliva is addictive and a fairly powerful narcotic, use this to hold onto political power in Latin America.
  • At the end of The Relic, the monster-creating reovirus is used by one of the survivors to concoct a new street drug, Glaze. It turns out to have some nasty side effects in the sequel, and its derivatives are even worse.

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of Stargate SG-1, a civilization keeps a Gou'ald queen actually the dying Tok'ra queen captive in a tank so they can harvest her symbiotes to make an elixir that can cure any illness.
  • Torchwood:
    • Inverted in Children of Earth, in which the 456 want our children so that they can get high off them.
    • In an episode a small group of humans exploit a Space Whale with a Healing Factor stranded on Earth; they use it for a cheap source of meat to wholesale.
  • In the Doctor Who story "Nightmare of Eden", part of the plot involves the spread of a new addictive drug, and another part of the plot involves a pack of alien monsters roaming around after escaping while being transported by a zoologist. It turns out that the zoologist is the kingpin of the drug operation, and the drug itself is derived from the alien monsters.
  • The 10th Kingdom has rather literal fairy dust, as in the dead remnants of a fairy, which is recreationally snorted by trolls.
  • In Lexx, Kai was animated by "protoblood", a secretion from the last of the Insects. Re-animated assassins like him were part of how His Divine Shadow maintained his tyrannical grip on power.
  • On Forever Knight, a vampire doctor used injections of her own blood as a "miracle youth-restoring treatment" marketed to aging rich people.
  • Vampire dust in the short-lived Blade TV series is another example.
  • Sam on Supernatural did this a bunch of times with demon blood. Sam used it during the season 4 arc to enhance his psychic capabilities to be able to remove a demon possessing a victim without harming the host. He then becomes somewhat addicted to the substance, even keeping a victim possessed so that he can "bulk up" for the final fight.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures first episode the Bane Mother's excretions are the main ingredient in Bubble Shock cola "It's organic!"

Tabletop Games
  • One Shadowrun supplement's shadowtalk includes posts by a sicko who'd kept an Awakened leopard with Healing Factor captive for years, periodically skinning it alive and selling the pelts. The same poster speculated about the possibility of catching a giant regenerating species of shark and selling its meat over and over again.
  • The World of Darkness game series treats vampire blood as a drug.
  • In the Ravenloft setting, vampires from the Kargat secret police dole out their blood to human minions, the Kargatane, as a means of increasing their strength and delaying their rate of aging.
  • In Age of Aquarius, vampire saliva is used to make a Laser-Guided Amnesia inducing drug. No profit on it is made, though, since the Institute, who owns the technology, is a noncommercial organization, and it needs the drug itself to enforce The Masquerade.
  • Dwarven settlements in the Forgotten Realms sometimes keep captive deepspawn as a food source, feeding them livestock so the aberrations will make numerous copies of meat animals. This can easily backfire on the deepspawn-keepers, if one of their captive monsters ever manages to sink its teeth into something more dangerous than cattle.

Video Games
  • In Chrono Trigger, the Kingdom of Zeal used Lavos as a power source once they discovered it, instead of the sun energy they had been safely using for years.
  • In the Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines sidequest "Thinned Blood", Vandal Cleaver is revealed to have captured a fledgeling vampire and kept her restrained to leech off her blood.
  • Bioshock: The little sisters, creepy shells of the children they once were, are organic factories of ADAM, the substance that powers the gene-manipulating plasmids, drug of choice for the Splicers that inhabit Rapture. Even the player has a choice to harvest them for a bigger payday instead of rescuing them.

Web Comics
  • A head-regenerating hydra which was incapacitated by The Order of the Stick has become the source of meat for an enterprising goblin's hydra-head sandwich franchise.

Western Animation
  • In Futurama the favorite soft drink is Slurm, which is secretly 100% slug juice. As in, it comes from a queen slug. She and her underlings have built a powerhouse corporation by marketing this highly-addictive beverage.
  • Batman Beyond: Bane's blood is used as a steroid (after so many years of use, he'd become a wheelchair-bound cripple).
Community Feedback Replies: 44
  • December 14, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
  • December 14, 2011
    Shnakepup
    • In Alastair Reynold's Terminal World, the world has been divided up into differing areas of technology, where the laws of reality are literally different from one are to the next, limiting how advanced certain items can be in certain areas. For the people of this world, traveling between these areas involves suffereing from the debilitating "Zone Sickness" that, in severe enough cases (or too fast of a transition between different zones) can kill. Fortunately, creatures called Carnivorgs can synthesize a medicine that alleviates the sickness...unfortunately, as their name would suggest, the Carnivorgs are vicious carnivorous cyborgs who harvest the brain matter from the people they capture.
  • December 14, 2011
    JonnyB
    In an episode of Stargate SG 1, a civilization keeps a Gou'ald queen actually the dying Tok'ra queen captive in a tank so they can harvest her symbiotes to make an elixir that can cure any illness.
  • December 14, 2011
    Ryusui
    I made this trope already. It's called Milking The Monster.
  • December 14, 2011
    Debatra
    @Ryusui: Doesn't look like the same trope. They should probably be combined though.
  • December 14, 2011
    Ryusui
    They should.
  • December 14, 2011
    SharleeD
    Looks to me like "Milking The Monster" is a lot broader than this one, and doesn't necessarily have to involve a substance or any sort of active collusion/captivity: simply having the monster in the area is potential grounds for profit. Maybe they can be sister tropes?
  • December 14, 2011
    PaulA
    • In "Andy Warhol's Dracula", part of Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series, the central character is a drug dealer whose product uses vampire blood as its key ingredient.
    • In the Doctor Who story "Nightmare of Eden", part of the plot involves the spread of a new addictive drug, and another part of the plot involves a pack of alien monsters roaming around after escaping while being transported by a zoologist. It turns out that the zoologist is the kingpin of the drug operation, and the drug itself is derived from the alien monsters.
  • December 15, 2011
    SharleeD
    Ryusui, any chance you could change the title of "Milking The Monster" to "Milking The Monster's Reputation", or something like that? That would eliminate the overlap here, and let us import several more inversions from Scooby Doo Hoax into "Milking" as well.
  • December 15, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    I know I've seen it somewhere, that smashed up fairy gets snorted like cocaine (or maybe just fairy dust does). Sound familiar to anyone?
  • December 15, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In Futurama the favorite soft drink is Slurm, which is 100% slug juice. As in, it comes from a queen slug. It's basically her poop.

    Note though that the Slurm Queen is the mastermind, and from her viewpoint she's not a monster, so it might not count.
  • December 29, 2011
    SharleeD
    Any more?
  • December 29, 2011
    Irrisia
    Paradisca Corbasi: The Tenth Kingdom has rather literal fairy dust, as in the dead remnants of a fairy, but as it's the distinctly more monstrous trolls shown snorting it I'm not sure it would count.

    Also unsure as to whther Dune's sandworms would count. Nobody in their right mind is going to try and keep those things captive.

  • December 29, 2011
    Vyctorian
    Vampire dust was this in the short lived Blade Tv series.
  • December 29, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    In Lexx, Kai was animated by "protoblood", a secretion from the last of the Insects.

  • December 29, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In a Torchwood episode a small group of humans exploit a Space Whale with a Healing Factor stranded on Earth; they use it for a cheap source of meat to wholesale.
  • December 30, 2011
    morenohijazo
    In Chrono Trigger, the Kingdom of Zeal used Lavos as a power source once they discovered it, instead of the sun energy they had been safely using for years.
  • December 30, 2011
    octopedingenue
    Star's Tears, from a James Tiptree Jr short story.
  • December 30, 2011
    Irrisia
    It's just The Tenth Kingdom, by the way. Paradisca Corbasi was a previous poster I was replying to, sorry.

    Also under Vampires, although with a twist, you could add the Red Court from The Dresden Files, whose saliva is addictive and a fairly powerful narcotic.
  • December 30, 2011
    aurora369
    In Age Of Aquarius vampire saliva is used to make a Laser Guided Amnesia inducing drug. No profit on it is made, though, since the Institute, who owns the technology, is a noncommercial organization, and it needs the drug itself to enforce The Masquerade.
  • December 30, 2011
    SharleeD
    ^^ Oops, thanks for the correction.

    Above 2 posts: I'm not sure that vampire saliva should count if the vampires are simply using it as part of routine feeding behavior or a means of ensuring secrecy, rather than putting it on the market (legal or otherwise) for profit, or taking over the world by deliberately getting people addicted to it.
  • December 30, 2011
    TonyG
    • One of the reasons Gargamel goes after The Smurfs is because they are an ingredient in a formula for the Philosopher's Stone.
    • On Petes Dragon, Doctor Terminus wants to get his hands on Elliot (the titular dragon) to be made into medicines.
  • December 31, 2011
    Chabal2
    • In the French comic L'Imploseur, the miracle drink Ultra which boosts reflexes, muscles, etc. turns out to be the blood of a goat-human hybrid.
    • Animorphs: The Venber are a sentient race with unusual physical properties, chief among them that if they are brought to a temperature above freezing, they melt. The resulting liquid is apparently an excellent coolant fluid for supercomputers, and the Venber were hunted to the brink of extinction for it.

  • December 31, 2011
    SharleeD
    ^ Tony G: Those would probably be subversions, as AFAIK neither of those villains ever actually got a chance to mainline a monster, they just intended to.
  • January 1, 2012
    foxley
    In the Doctor Who serial "Nightmare of Eden", the Doctor stops a gang of drug smugglers. The drug, the highly addictive Vrax, is created when the monstrous Mandrels are killed.
  • January 1, 2012
    Voyd211
    One of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels had a spider monster that produced a spice called glitterstim. I'll have to find the book again, but glitterstim's active in light and needs to be harvested in complete darkness. The spider basically uses it to make its webs, while other creatures use it for some kind of mind reading.
  • February 28, 2013
    Astaroth
    Triffids in The Day Of The Triffids are initially culled because their predatory habits pose a threat to humans, but when it turns out they can be exploited as a source of a high quality oil, they are captured, have their stingers removed, and farmed instead.
  • April 19, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^That would be Jedi Search, first book of the Jedi Academy Trilogy.
  • April 19, 2013
    Earnest
    Sharlee D, you may want to ungroup the General / Vampire folder into it's individual media types. I think it'd be okay if you had a superfolder for that type of examples since it's so common, but inside of it the examples should be organized by medium.

    Kind of like

    [[folder:Vampire Blood and Saliva]]

    [[folder:Anime]]
    • Some example.
    [[/folder]]

    [[/folder]]
  • April 19, 2013
    willthiswork
    ^ Agreed. "General" examples ae not allowed, they tend to generate misuse and tons of natter, and the examples given are not general anyway, they are perfectly legit 'real' examples.

    I would put the line about how common this is with vampires in the description and then just put those examples in with the rest. You could also mention that when the vampire by-product is addictive it is sometimes used by the vampire to make The Renfield.
  • April 19, 2013
    Koveras
    Another vampire blood example: In the Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines sidequest "Thinned Blood", Vandal Cleaver is revealed to have captured a fledgeling vampire and kept her restrained to leech off her blood.
  • April 19, 2013
    SharleeD
    Thanks for the tips, guys; I re-arranged things as you suggested. Sorry about the "General" category getting out of control: I'd assumed nobody was interested in this trope anymore, so hadn't been checking up on it.
  • April 19, 2013
    StarSword
    Didn't Sam on Supernatural do this a bunch of times with demon blood?
  • April 21, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^ Sam did use demon blood to boost his own powers. That wasn't a case where he was making money or acquiring political influence by doing so, however.
  • April 21, 2013
    Rhania506
    ^Yes, he did. Sam used it during the season 4 arc to enhance his psychic capabilities to be able to remove a demon possessing a victim without harming the host. He then becomes somewhat addicted to the substance, even keeping a victim possessed so that he can "bulk up" for the final fight. But as he seems to be the only one in the series that does this, I'm not sure that this qualifies as this trope.
  • April 22, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In The Sarah Jane Adventures first episode the Bane Mother's excretions are the main ingredient in Bubble Shock cola. "It's organic!"
  • April 22, 2013
    ohnoesazombie
    Bioshock. The little sisters, creepy shells of the children they once were, are organic factories of ADAM, the substance that powers the gene-manipulating plasmids, drug of choice for the Splicers that inhabit Rapture. Even the player has a choice to harvest them for a bigger payday instead of rescuing them.
  • April 29, 2013
    MonaNaito
    Added a Pot Hole to Captured Super Entity where appropriate.
  • April 30, 2013
    MetaFour
    Isn't it a recurring plot point in the Alien films that the Weyland-Yutani corporation thinks they can exploit the xenomorphs for profit (while catastrophically failing every time)?
  • April 30, 2013
    Chabal2
    Batman Beyond: Bane's blood is used as a steroid (after some many years of use, he'd become a wheelchair-bound cripple).
  • April 30, 2013
    KZN02
  • May 1, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^^ The Alien franchise probably falls short of fitting this trope, on the technicality that W-Y wasn't trying to market a product derived from the xenomorphs, but to sell the xenomorphs themselves as living weapons. If they'd been trying to, say, market their acidic blood as a corrosive for industrial use, that would be this trope.
  • May 15, 2013
    BOFH
    Literature
  • May 17, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Comic

    • In the Alien universe, aliens produce Royal Jelly which has the same role for this species as it has for real-life bees. However, it is also an extremely valuable substance in human society, used as a powerful and mind-enhancing drug for wealthy individuals. Since the only source of Royal Jelly is often deep inside an alien hive, collecting it can be very dangerous. The Hive mini-series details such an operation.
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