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Dangerous Phlebotinum Interaction
"This ingredient is made of blur. Hah.... And this has blur in it too. Blur is very dangerous. You don't want to mix blur with blur."
Adam Savage, MythBusters

So you are someone who wants more power? Well, If one is good, two must be better, right? Not necessarily. You see, some forms of Applied Phlebotinum are incompatible and attempts to mix the two will yield dangerous results. There may be several reasons for this:
  • The types of phlebotinum used are polar opposites: Generally speaking, using two polarized sources of power together like that will be impossible. Light and darkness will try to engulf each other and mixing fire with either ice or water will get you water or steam, respectively. Contrast with Yin-Yang Bomb.
  • They both have a failsafe to prevent this. If the phlebotina are made by the same person/group or people related to that person/group, then they would be compatible enough to work together. Thus if the combined forces are capable of The End of the World as We Know It, then chances are that they implement systems to prevent them from working properly together or just make it impossible for them to work together at all. (This is more common with technological phlebotinum.) Of course, if Failsafe Failures come into play, then watch out.
  • It would be Awesome, but Impractical: The use of both phlebotina would actually make it harder to use either one to its full potential. Simple as that.

Of course, there can be other reasons why it would be a bad idea to mix two different sources of great power.

A very common version in more science-based works is drug interactions.

Compare Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object. When the heroes are warned of this and have to do it anyway because they've hit the Godzilla Threshold, that's Forbidden Chekhov's Gun. Contrast Phlebotinum-Handling Equipment, where one piece of phlebotinum is used to contain the other. Sometimes this is invoked to make an Obvious Rule Patch less obvious.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In One Piece, what is currently established about Devil Fruits is that, among other things, you do not eat another fruit if you've already eaten one because you'll die — it's believed to be because the "devils" inside the fruit will fight each other, causing the eater to implode. Blackbeard proves himself an exception, as he already an user of Dark-Dark Fruit and manages to get Whitebeard's Rumble-Rumble Fruit power and even more later on. Though the process of which is still unknown, but seems to have something to do with his body being abnormal.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has Roar-As-One. It's a technique that combines Sei and Dou Ki. While it does give the character immense power for a while, the end result will normally cripple or outright kill the user.

    Film 
  • In The Incredible Hulk, Blonsky makes Sterns infuse him with Bruce Banner's blood so he can gain the Hulk's power. Due to his own Super Soldier Serum reacting with it he undergoes a one way transformation to the stronger (and uglier) Abomination.
  • Exploited in Star Trek Into Darkness where John Harrison's agent destroys the Section 31 weapons lab by dropping a ring he's wearing into a glass of what at least looks like water, causing a tremendous explosion.
  • The Joker's "Smylex" toxin in Batman is a binary compound. This means, effectively, that all of your personal-care products could make you die laughing. Fortunately, Batman's trusty computer helps him to figure out which products will do what.
  • Reign of Fire explains dragon fire by establishing early on that dragons have glands in their mouths that produce "opposite chemicals". The dragons work kind of like a spitting cobra, spraying the chemicals at a target, and when the chemicals come into contact with each other they react and ignite.

    Literature 
  • In the Ringworld universe, Known Space has the life-extension drug boosterspice. The inhabitants of the Ringworld have their own life-extension drug, but you can't take both: boosterspice is poisonous to someone who's used the Ringworld drug.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Dark Angel, Max used a brain implant designed to boost normal humans to superhuman levels of performance. With her genetically-enhanced physiology, it would have killed her if the implant hadn't been removed very soon.
  • The early Stargate SG-1 episode "Singularity" shows that in addition to the main way naquadah is explosive, it reacts explosively with an alloy of iron and potassium (we're talking two microscopic amounts of each obliterating a whole room, including the camera on the other side of it), a fact used by Nirrti to turn a girl into a walking weapon of mass destruction.
  • MythBusters:
    • Parodied with the page quote, where the actual names of the ingredients for an experiment are blurred out to keep from giving the audience ideas.
    • When examining the Hindenburg disaster, they tested the flammable properties of both the hydrogen gas and the zeppelin's metallic paint, and decided that a combination of the two was probably responsible.
    • When they were testing a Breaking Bad method of Disposing of a Body, they accelerated sulfuric acid with some "special sauce" to make something monstrously corrosive.
  • In the Firefly episode "Ariel" an undercover Simon Tam saves a patient from cardiac arrest, then tears the patient's doctor a new one for causing it. The doctor had made the mistake of giving his patient a painkiller that, when combined with a standard prep drug used for the patient's procedure, reacts to form a vasoconstrictor.
  • In the Burn Notice episode "Bad Breaks" one of Michael's customary voiceovers narrates his efforts to foil a gang of bank robbers.
    "Mixing medications is always a bad idea, especially when one's an upper and one's a downer. Anxiety and allergy meds together are a scary combination, and that's before you add the caffeine of an energy drink."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • First Edition had the Potion Miscibility Table, which had a variety of results when someone drank two magic potions. The bad results ranged from mild poison to lethal poison to an explosion inside the victim.
    • Putting a portable hole into a Bag of Holding causes very bad things to happen, although precisely what effect results depends on which is put into which. Putting the bag into the hole sucks both into the Astral Plane and renders both items Lost Forever. Putting the hole into the bag opens a dimensional breach into the Astral Plane, destroying both hole and bag and sucking anything in a ten foot radius into space.

    Video Games 
  • In Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Juggernaut gets his hands on a fragment of the MacGuffin tablet which increases his already insane physical strength, but it cancels out his own invulnerability, meaning Spidey can take him down.

    Real Life 
  • Innumerable examples in chemistry.
    • Basic laboratory safety techniques include diluting acids by adding the concentrated acid to water, not water to acid. Sulfuric acid in particular reacts quite violently with water, and may boil and spatter.
    • As seen in the Firefly example above, some medicines can interact in ways that are harmful to the body, depending on the chemical substrates of the medicine.
    • Bleach and ammonia. Both are excellent cleaning agents, but if mixed, they react and produce poisonous chloramine gas.
    • Binary chemical weapons exploit this trope. Two chemicals are relatively innocuous by themselves, but when combined they produce something far deadlier.
    • Binary agents in general. For a relatively low-key example, mix baking soda (base) with vinegar (acid). You get a big bubbly foamy reaction which ultimately just produces a bunch of CO 2 and water, and a little bit of sodium acetate. For a much more energetic example, observe Hypergolic fuels, like the two-part fuel used in the Me-163 Komet interceptors of World War II, which spontaneously ignite when mixed. As you might imagine, a leaking or punctured fuel tank in such a design could easily result in the plane being blown apart.

Dangerous Device Disposal DebacleApplied PhlebotinumThe Dark Side

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