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A character is addicted to a substance, drugs, Alcohol, Caffeine
... For most people, it would only cause lots of trouble. Not for this guy. He earns superpowers from an over-consumption, and/or each time he consumes the substance.
Usually, nobody else will get this kind of powers from this substance. Not
some kind of Super Serum
or Psycho Serum
, or anything similarly exotic. The drug was not designed
to give them superpowers, it just inexplicably does.
A subtrope of Addictive Magic
. Related to Drunken Master
(when the character is indeed an alcoholic and much stronger after a drink) and Must Have Caffeine
. Compare Power High
. See also Caffeine Bullet Time
and Power-Up Food
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Anime & Manga
- One Piece
- Franky's case is a bit different: He's a cyborg who uses cola as an energy source, mostly because he loves cola. (He can use other carbonated drinks, juices or even tea, with... mixed results.)
- Hody Jones, the leader of a gang of fishmen consumes great quantities of an "energy steroid" to the point where he overdoses on it. Instead of dying however, he transforms into a stronger, uglier version of himself.
- Inverted with April in Darker Than Black: the remuneration for her powers is to drink. She does like alcohol a lot.
- In Wolfs Rain, Quent Yaden gains the ability to see through the wolves' humanoid disguises after consuming alcohol. On the downside, it impairs his aiming skills.
- Chu from YuYu Hakusho in the Dark Tournament arc.
- Inverted with Fujusawa-sensei from El-Hazard: The Magnificent World. He gains Super Strength as a result of coming to El-Hazard, but only when he stops drinking. He's not happy about this. He's also chain smoker, so it's further inverted when he finds he gets even stronger when he stops smoking. He's also not happy about this.
- The "Druggies" in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED are three human mobile suit pilots who have been taking the drug called Gamma Glipheptin to boost their combat powers to the same level as the Coordinators — with all due consequences to their health and life expectancy.
- Elongated Man drinks a lot of Gingold soda and gets super-stretch powers. Evidently, it works only on him.
- Semi-Averted: Gingold can increase flexibility in most people who drink it, but you have to go to serious overdose levels to get actual stretching abilities, which can then be maintained by regular drinking of the normal product. A significant section of the human population is allergic to gingold extract, and thus unable to take advantage of the herb's special properties.
- The New Guardians villain Snowflame is the poster boy for this trope (he's the page image!), having actual observable supernatural abilities powered by cocaine, which he worships as a god.
- Tintin: Give a few drops of alcohol to a tired Captain Haddock, and he'll be good as new. Just make sure he doesn't get too much.
- Inverted in Empire, where supervillain tyrant Golgoth keeps his minions under control by feeding them a highly addictive power-boosting drug called "Eucharist". It's so addictive that anyone who stops using has a good chance of being driven permanently insane during withdrawal. The inversion becomes apparent with the discovery that derived from the blood of the defeated superhero Endymion. In other words, Endymion's superhuman biology powers everyone else's addictions.
- In Grant Morrison's X-Men, the drug Kick is a highly addictive power-booster that only works on mutants. It's actually the sentient bacteria Sublime, making it an inversion as well — Sublime's power is to be an addictive power source.
- In one incarnation of the Crime Syndicate of Amerika, Johnny Quick derives his powers from an addictive substance made from the blood of his predecessor in the role. It's never shown to work for anyone else.
- Averted in Captain Alcohol, where the use of alcohol hinders his abilities as oppose to help them.
Films — Live-Action
- In Scarface (1983), Tony's cocaine allowed him to take a lot of punishment before going down.
- The Legend of Drunken Master
- In The Wolf of Wall Street, the main character has taken so many downers that he can barely move. Inspired by a Popeye cartoon on the television, he snorts cocaine until he's charged up enough to be marginally functional.
- Subverted with Sherlock Holmes: He used cocaine because he believed cocaine stimulated his mind between cases.
Sherlock Holmes: Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere, I can dispense then with artificial stimulants.
- In Lawrence Watt-Evans' The Legends of Ethshar books, the magical power that warlocks have was given by something, possibly a meteorite. It suddenly awoke power in thousands of people. The more that warlocks use their power, the more powerful they get, the more they want to use it, but when they use too much of it, they are compelled to fly to the source and are never heard from again. It's portrayed as an addiction.
- In the Dune novels, Guild Navigators fit. Breathing great quantities of melange/spice gives them limited powers of prescience, enough to find safe passage when their ship is traveling faster than light. It also deforms them significantly. The general population doesn't gain this benefit, but that's because they don't literally breathe nothing but spice all day, every day (at most, they take it in tablets and put it in their food and drink — particularly their coffee, since it tastes like cinnamon).
- In Wild Cards, Captain Trips has several different Superpowered Alter Egos, each of which is triggered by taking a different derivation of LSD.
- On WKRP in Cincinnati, Johnny and Venus get drunk and then have their reflexes measured live on-air as a PSA against drunk driving. For some reason, the more Johnny drinks, the better his reflexes are.
- Similarly, on Designing Women, the girls' wacky friend Bernice is required by her niece to have a competency hearing. The morning of the hearing, they come downstairs to see her drinking some leftover champagne from the night before. This worries them, since Bernice is kooky at the best of times. Bernice then mentioned how she had played loud music the night before to keep the aforementioned niece up all night, saying "Of course I kept her awake all night, does she think I want her fresh for my sanity hearing?" Mary Jo lampshades it, saying "Liquor seems to have the opposite effect on you, you seem sharper."
- Isaac Mendez on Heroes discovers an ability to paint the future. Unfortunately, Isaac is also a heroin addict who finds he can paint only when high. This effectively means that Isaac's ability is dependent on drug use, creating some awkward issues for him. Eventually, he gets himself clean and discovers that he can paint the future even when sober.
- Happy Endings: One episode has Penny getting drunk, which gives her the power to speak and understand Italian. This isn't just a couple of drinks, either; she has to get wasted to get to the point where she can do this. She gets with a cute Italian guy this way, but he leaves her because he was traumatized by his father's alcoholism. (Side option: Alex starts lavishly eating ribs when smashed. Not as impressive.)
- My Name Is Earl: Randy is an adept liar, con man and all-around competent at doing stuff, but only after he's had four beers. No more, no fewer.
- There was a Forever Knight episode where Natalie found that a drug called Lidobuterine (sp?) seemed to cure Nick's vampirism. However, it turned into the drug being addictive, and in order to remain 'human', Nick had to keep taking it and get more and more of the drug at once.
- Captain Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager claims she beat the Borg with coffee. She also shows some suspiciously strong indications of having an unhealthy relationship to coffee, which is where that claim starts to enter into this trope.
- Punch Out's Soda Popinsky. He drinks huge amounts of soda, even in the ring. The drink restores his stamina and increases his punching power, albeit for a short time.
- Dragon Age: Unlike the mages, who simply get a power boost from Lyrium, the Templars' abilities are powered solely by it. However, it is also addictive as hell, and the Chantry monopolizes Lyrium trade to keep its Templar junkies on a short leash. Just to make the situation murkier, Alistair has the abilities of a Templar despite never finishing his training, and Warrior characters in both games can get the Templar Prestige Class. Lyrium does boost Templar abilities, but it's unclear how necessary it is. Things get worse in Dragon Age: Inquisition when a faction of Templars start using Red Lyrium, an even more powerful and dangerous variant of lyrium tainted by the Blight.
- In Alpha Protocol, the 1980s-themed villain, Konstantin Brayko, ingests enormous amounts of cocaine to power up and fight Mike Thorton, allowing Brayko to do things like run incredibly fast and be temporarily bulletproof. You can thwart this by having Steven Heck sabotage his supply.
- The insane crime boss Jack Lupino in the original Max Payne overdoses on Valkyr and takes an ungodly amount of lead into the body before he bites the dust. Justified much later by The Reveal that Valkyr was originally developed by US military to create Super Soldiers: in other word, the drugs worked on Lupino as designed, never mind that it also proved addictive as hell.
- In the Mass Effect setting, the drug Red Sand is capable of enhancing biotic powers, though it's considered an illegal narcotic in most parts of the galaxy.
- In Sinfest when Squigley gets stoned enough he can fly using whatever he is sitting on at the time, usually his couch, but at least once, his toilet.
- Snowflame, the poster boy for this trope, is no different in his fan-made adventures.
- Caleb from Flander's Company earned short-range teleportation after spending some time drinking an average of 8 liters of coffee a day. Consuming more coffee also makes him more powerful, allowing him to teleport a whole building at one point.
- In Fallout: Nuka Break, it's revealed in Season 2 that Twig has drunk so much Nuka-Cola in his life that it has altered his DNA, to the point that drinking Nuka-Cola gives him a minor Healing Factor. For instance, a two day old bullet wound appears to have been healing for over a week.
- South Park: Marijuana gives Towelie [an anthropomorphic towel] Popeye-like powers. Well, Towelie thinks so. Detached onlookers see a very different story.
- The Futurama episode "300 Big Boys" has Fry tap into the speed force when he gulps his hundreth coffee cup of the episode.