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Chemistry Can Do Anything
""Pass me the science ingredient."
-Captain Hammer:Be Like Me!
It's amazing what you can do with a few chemicals in a science fiction story. Mix a bit of Phlebotinum salt with a dash of suspension of disbelief, heat it to over 9000 degrees and you have yourself a "chemical substance" capable of whatever you want it to do. A character can down a shot of it, inject it into his/her body, pour it into a machine. In almost no circumstance will it make them throw up, kill them, or ruin the machine. Instead it will create whatever wondrous or horrible effect the author desires.
See also: Lightning Can Do Anything
and I Love Nuclear Power
. It is of course a form of Applied Phlebotinum
. Sci-Fi Counterpart
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- The original The Flash got his powers from fumes given off by "hard water" spilled in a chemistry lab.
- Captain America gets his powers from a "super soldier formula". Later, the treatment was elaborated with a radiological treatment to activate and stabilized the chemicals.
- The agreed-on origin for The Joker, who plummeted into a disposal tank full of various chemicals. In Death Of The Family, Batman asides that he's studied the crime scene and knows the mixture by heart, but on sleepless nights finds himself poring over the list all over again. A combination like that should have eaten the Joker alive. (Batman gets trapped in the very same tank by Harley Quinn, and the chemical mixture chews straight through his Batsuit.)
- One possible origin for the Joker reveals him to be an ex-chemist, which would explain his expertise in poison and acid weapons. His patented "Joker" venom leaves the victim with a rictus smile — the clown's calling card.
- A classic example is the potion from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that causes the transformation.
- In Herbert West Reanimator, bringing fresh corpses back to life merely requires the injection of the right chemicals. Apparently these chemicals diffuse very quickly since they'd be injected into a body with no blood circulating.
- The Invisible Man: The title character's invisibility is chemical in nature.
- In an interesting invocation of the trope, The Skylark of Space (one of the earliest Space Operas) begins with the discovery of a transuranic element which catalyses a direct matter-to-energy conversion, with the energy emerging as a form of propulsion (as well as several other useful forms).
- Isaac Asimov wrote a series of articles about the endochronic properties of resublimated thiotimoline, a substance that dissolves in water before the water is added.
- In this case, though, it's essential to remember that Asimov was a professor of biochemistry, so it's a given that he used the trope as an anecdote or parody, as opposed to the use of the trope out of genuine belief that chemistry "works like that" due to lack of scientific knowledge.
- In one of Norman Hunter's Professor Branestawm stories, a formula that could bring pictures to life came in contact with some old photos, resulting in multiple copies of himself, Colonel Dedshott and Mrs. Flittersnoop and, in a particularly comic case, a half-policeman who was in one shot by mistake. (He kept hopping around the house saying "Pass along p-", which was all he could manage of what the real policeman had been saying when he was caught on film.)
- When Ben and Daniel are breaking out of prison in The Leonard Regime, they stumble across a lab full of chemicals. Ben, knowing what the chemicals were, managed to create a mixture that could kill all of the guards when breathed in.
- The shrinking and growing formulas from the Golden Age science fiction novel, The Girl In The Golden Atom.
Live Action TV
- In Family Matters, Urkel creates a machine that can create clones or turn people into other people (e.g., Steve Urkel into Stephan). It required vaguely described "chemicals" to work, which were poured into a slot in the machine.
- Look Around You ascribes several ridiculous properties to chemicals such as a mixture of sulphur and champagne granting the drinker Eye Beams. Of course, this is all part of the joke.
- In Final Fantasy V, the Chemist class is considered a Game Breaker by experts because of its variety of powers: HP Drain, loads of status buffs, debuffs, and plenty of tools that make the game a walk in the park. They're a Guide Dang It though, as the game doesn't tell you the ingredients for their Mixes.
- Creatures, a complex life simulator, uses "chemicals" for monitoring most of the Creature's inner workings - metabolism, antigens and antibodies, drives like hunger and adopting a right kind of gait for each type of terrain. In some installments of the game, the player can directly inject any of these chemicals in their Creatures, allowing almost anything from clinical immortality to horrible, painful death.
- Escape From St Marys: The chemistry department brews teleportation mixtures from chemicals that you find and distill.
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Peach mixes chemicals in the proper proportions and heats the mixture for just the right duration to get an invisibility potion that — once she gets naked — allows her to sneak around the fortress and get data from a disk in Grodus' room.
- Also, X-Naut PhDs make various potions that X-Nauts use in battle to: restore HP; grow themselves (a buff); shrink the enemy (a debuff), set the enemy on fire (persistent damage), and more.
- The various potions you can mix with the chemistry set in The Sims.
- Chemical X in The Powerpuff Girls — it has the power to create life, give any living being superpowers with no side-effects, and apparently it's in abundant enough quantities to be regularly abused..
- In American Dragon Jake Long, Spud goes to a school for child geniuses. In a chemistry demonstration one makes a floating cloud in the shape of Pi and another manages to rapidly grow a statue of the teacher.
- The Transformers episode The (aptly named) Insecticon Syndrome had Ratchet and Wheeljack formulate an antidote to the Nova Power Core that was about to explode in the Insecticons' stomachs, to stop them from blowing up and destroying most of the Earth.
- Truth in Television as everything in the universe is made up of chemicals. Chemistry is the basis of all life on Earth.
- In fact, all of the applied phlebotium we have today is the resault of Chemistry, i.e. soap, detergents, sugar, molasses, alcoholic beverage, rubber, plastics, steel, gunpowder, separated crude oil, medicine... I could go on.