Basically, this is the opposite of Can't Hold His Liquor. A character drinks alcohol, often in excess, but never shows any of the signs of inebriation. If everyone else is getting plastered, this character is sitting comfortably out of the way and enjoying the show, completely sober. And they never have to deal with a hangover. Ever. There are no specific types of characters that fit this, but there are a few variations:
This is when a character is usually sober, serious, or calm. He's the type most likely to sit in an unobtrusive corner and make sure that the silly drunkards don't hurt themselves. Usually the realm of The Stoic, The Spock, The Comically Serious, the Only Sane Man, etc.
This is when a character is usually strange to begin with. But although you would expect him to go straight to Mushroom Samba-land when he drinks, he never acts any different from usual. Often the realm of the Cloudcuckoolander, the Genki Girl (or Keet, if it's a guy) or the Idiot Hero. An occasionally seen variant is the character who gets more sensible when he's had a few.
Because of the person's physiology, he either (a) needs to drink huge amounts to get drunk, or (b) plain can't get drunk. Common among elves for some reason.
Note that not everyone falls into type 1, 2 or 3. Also, types 1 & 2 are for people who have no explanation given for why they don't get drunk, other than 'unusually high tolerance'. If an explanation is given, then he is automatically type 3a or 3b. Some people are perfectly normal, and not on either end of the Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness, and have no "logical" reason for their strange sobriety.
Surprisingly, Hard Drinking Party Girls rarely fall under this trope.
Contrast Drunk on Milk. For someone who Never Gets Drunk simply because they don't drink at all, see The Teetotaler. Compare Immune to Drugs.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
Zoro from One Piece drinks a lot, but never gets inebriated. He has to fake being drunk at Whiskey Peak in order to fool their foes.
Nami is similar, as she can outdrink 15 people without getting drunk herself (Like Zoro, she faked getting drunk to fool her enemies). She actually does get a little tipsy during the Fishman Island arc, but not outright drunk.
Cho Hakkai is a type 1. There was an episode involving a Drinking Contest and while the rest of the town is passed out (Sanzo and Gojyo too), Hakkai has only just gotten buzzed, expressing disappointment in the wine.
"I've never seen Cho get drunk before."
"And you never will."
Cana drinks 30 percent of Fairy Tail's liquor and has only been shown drunk once.
Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List. He's is a hard drinker with an extremely high tolerance for alcohol, allowing him to stay level-headed when he goes out drinking with Nazis. Truth in Television.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark Marian Ravenwood actually made money by beating the rowdy Tibetians at her bar in drinking contests. (Which she was doing when Indy came in, and she still seemed sober enough after that to deal with him.)
In the recent animated Wonder Woman film, Diana is shown to have a much higher tolerance for alcohol than her human companion, and scoffs at the idea of him trying to keep pace with her while drinking.
In Crocodile Dundee, Mick offers to treat a cabbie; despite the guy's boast that, "I'm Irish! I can drink you under the table!" Mick's tolerance turns out to be much higher.
Lord Vetinari in Unseen Academicals plays with it a bit. After spending the night drinking beer with football enthusiasts (many of whom had passed out by the time the feast was winding down) and at the very least matching them by glass with equal-strength drinks, he appears to be very much a straight example of the trope. However, he also becomes rather more talkative than usual, he stubs his toe shortly afterwards, and the morning after it takes him roughly 50 seconds longer than usual to solve the crossword puzzle in the Times. He even cops to having to look up a few words in the dictionary. Vetinari eventually admits he was drunk, but he's also very good at acting sober.
In Witches Abroad Granny Weatherwax downs a bottle of absinthe under the impression that it's an herbal drink, and complains of feeling "a bit woozy".
The Three Musketeers: Athos is described as having the capacity of four men, but hardly shows it. It takes a two week binge of ten bottles a day for us to see him unsteady on his feet. Even then, he can tell an I Have This Friend story almost perfectly.
This is almost a standard feature for Dumas' protagonists. Le Chevalier de Sainte Hermine has a guy fill a huge trophy cup with three bottles of champagne and drink the whole thing in one go, with no ill effects.
Also, Scotty came awfully close to this in the episode "By Any Other Name", when he outwitted the Kelvan agent Tomar by drinking him under the table. (Never mess with a Scotsman and his whiskey.) Unfortunately, Scotty himself passed out a few minutes later.
Lwaxana's manservant Mr. Homn from Star Trek: The Next Generation probably falls into this category. In one episode, he drank an entire bottle of wine in less than a minute as if it were no more than fruit punch.
Adam: So we've had 13 drinks over 3 hours. I know I'm drunk, but I can't even remotely tell that you're drunk. It's kind of annoying. I want to see you put a lampshade on your head or something.
Jamie: Sorry, bub!
This mostly seems to be an effect of him almost always being mellow and mumbly. His mannerisms just don't change...much. They do change a bit, though; he's more likely to giggle, and in the Driving Blind myth, after having a few drinks, his first suggestion to the blind driver is "floor it!", and he doesn't guide the blind driver as well as he did when sober. On the other hand, when Jamie was drunk, the blind driver drove as if he was drunk.
Cheers was a show about characters who spent all their time drinking in a bar, but we rarely saw anyone get drunk. The implication is that the regulars go to the bar to relax in each others' company rather than to get hammered. Norm Peterson would have been an obvious alcoholic if he'd ever been shown intoxicated.
The rare times someone actually got hammered on the show (like when Carla made some incredibly potent cocktail) usually resulted in a bizarre (and often humiliating) situation for whoever it happened to.
Al Swearengen in Deadwood is frequently shown drinking shots of hard alchohol, sometimes straight from the bottle, yet he never acts inebriated, much less drunk. In a filmmaker's commentary, some of the cast point out what incredible volumes of alcohol some characters in the show drink.
In one episode of Gilligan's Island, a researcher comes to the island, and the crew is unable to convince him to contact his ship, as he claims he needs to finish his research first (which the Professor admits might take months). One of their plans - the last one, which ruins their chance at rescue, ultimately - is to try to get him drunk by giving him whiskey, claiming its tea. This backfires completely. All seven of them become intoxicated and pass out before he even becomes tipsy.
Game of Thrones: Roose Bolton does not partake. Jamie Lannister points out that this habit makes him highly suspicious to other people. Roose later reiterates this habit at the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. He is completely sober when he betrays and murders Robb Stark.
Oskar Schindler used his high tolerance for alcohol to his advantage in Nazi Germany. He befriended a number of Nazis by going out drinking with them, but always kept his wits about him while the Nazis got sloshed.
Xerxes Break in Pandora Hearts can't get drunk, but pretends to do so to go along with everyone else.
Bernice Cliffton of Designing Women has an "arterial flow problem" that normally interferes with her grasp on logic and reality, but alcohol makes her more lucid. She usually doesn't drink for specifically that reason, but she does get drunk for her competency hearing just in case, and the night before, she mentioned frequently calling the person who requested the competency hearing, keeping her awake and making sure she's not at her best for said hearing.
Karen Walker of Will and Grace. Drunk is her default. She constantly is drinking one thing or another, keeps a full-sized keg in Grace's office, has several rooms in her house devoted solely to liquor storage, and will casually pound a nearly full bottle of vodka without stopping to take a breath. It's somewhat speculated that's she's so perpetually filled with alcohol and prescription drugs, she's somehow become pickled. She's also the most scarily competent, devious, and cunning member of the cast.
In one episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, Johnny Fever participates in an on-air experiment to show the dangers of drunk driving. He takes a simple test to measure his reaction time while sober then repeats it several times, drinking beer between the tests. Ordinarily, reaction time is slower the more alcohol you consume, but somehow Johnny's reflexes are faster the drunker he gets.
Housepets!: In this strip we see Karishad stuck with ten tranquilizer darts, and suggestions of having been hit with even more from similar darts being held by two of those present, with no apparent effect on him. He even made a game out of it just to see who is the last predator (A.K.A the wolves) standing.
Anime and Manga
3b: Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess. Alcohol might as well be water for all the effect it has on her. She will, however, get plastered... on soda. She's a Viking goddess - booze was basically water to them (safer than straight water), but they didn't have carbination on longships.
Urd, meanwhile, seems able to get wasted on sake. Then again, she's only half-goddess.
Apparently, Claymores don't get drunk unless they want to, which results in Deneve and Clare being completely sober (despite Deneve drinking quite a bit more than should be possible), while Helen descends right into Happy Drunk land.
3a: Noa Izumi from Patlabor. Her family owns a liquor store in Hokkaido and she started drinking earlier to keep company to them and their clients and friends, so she's used to even the hardest stuff. The discovery brings the otherHard-Drinking Party Girl of the group, Kanuka Clancy, to tears.
3b: Major Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell. Her artificial body is immune to poisons, including alcohol.
Batou is the same way because he's heavily cyborged.
The same applies to both of them. They can get drunk if they like, but they can decide to stop being drunk in the matter of seconds.
3a: Rock and Revy from Black Lagoon. No one expected Rock to be able to hold his own in a drinking match with Revy right from the start. Rock's tolerance is due to heavy exposure to alcohol both at college and at his previous employer. As for Revy, she simply seems to be a heavy drinker.
Sora No Woto's Kureha is given this trait during the team's training exercise where they all drink (accidentally?). She isn't the least bit pleased about it. She also fits as a type 1, since (besides Rio), she's the most conventional trooper in the platoon.
In Suzumiya Haruhi, Nagato seems resistant or immune to alcohol. Not shown in the anime, due to rules against drinking, but shown in the light novels (Kyon noted that she drank champagne "like a whale") and made very obvious in the manga, where Koizumi asks her if she can really handle that amount. The justification is that she's not really human, so the likelihood is she's 3b rather than 3a.
3a: Vash the Stampede only appears to get a hangover after downing "a few dallons" (let's just say a lot of bottles) the previous night, and what happens while he's drunk? His shooting gets better because his stupor actually interferes with his Obfuscating Stupidity. That said, he seems just fine a little later, and in another scene in an earlier episode, after an apparent big bash, he appears to snap to sobriety quite quickly once they put him to bed, so it's hard to say just how much of his drunkenness is an act.
Reim Lunettes qualifies for type 3a, as him getting drunk is a rare enough occurrence to be considered a topic of talk in the organization he works in.
Wolverine varies between 3a and 3b Depending on the Writer. His Healing Factor either makes him have the tolerance of a much larger man and never get hung over, or completely neutralises the effect of alcohol. (Likely this is because alcohol affects the body in the same way a toxin or poison does, something that he is immune to.)
Ultimate Hulk however might not be. During his New York rampage he was described as "drinking the contents of an entire beer truck." Unfortunately for Betty and the other people in New York, Hulk is a mean drunk.
His cousin She-Hulk can't either due to her size and metabolism. This doesn't apply to her human form though, and should she revert back into Jennifer Walters all the alcohol She-Hulk drank will affect her instantly.
In the X-Men, one of the Blob's vulnerabilities is toxins such as alcohol. The problem is his body can take massive amounts before it starts to take.
Naruto is often cast as a type 3a or 3b if fanfics portray him drinking. It is often explained by saying that the Kyuubi neutralises all toxins.
In With Strings Attached, John discovers a few days after his Emergency Transformation that he can no longer get drunk. Which doesn't sit too well with him, since he was trying to get drunk. He does manage to protect the others (who did get drunk) during a bar brawl.
Duncan McSmurf, the Captain Ersatz of Gutsy in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, who has much greater tolerance for fermented sarsaparilla ale than his fellow Smurfs, as witnessed by Woody in "A Wedding To Remember".
Lord Cruciger from "This Platinum Crown". Is up all night drinking with Pinkie Pie, but isn't hindered in the least when dueling Twilight Sparkle and Alpha Brass the next morning. This is due to his body's extreme resistance to poisons.
The American team in Beerfest spends a year training for an international drinking games competition. As a result they all develop such high alcohol tolerances that it's nearly impossible for them to get drunk on beer alone (one team member who is trying to get drunk ends up chugging a bottle of schnapps because beer just isn't potent enough).
Angels in Dogma used to be able to get drunk—but then Loki and Bartleby flipped off God and got kicked out of Heaven, which led to Him forbidding angels from imbibing alcohol. Angels literally cannot drink alcohol, as soon as it's in their mouth they spit it back out.
In Captain America: The First Avenger, it is revealed that among the various enhancements that Steve Rogers gets in the procedure that turns him into Captain America is the ability to metabolize alcohol four times faster than a normal human. This makes it incredibly difficult for him to get drunk - even when he's deliberately trying to - because he can't drink fast enough. This is relatively consistent with the comics.
In the Mercy Thompson books, werewolves' high healing factor means that they have to drink a lot to get drunk. One character's backstory is that after becoming a werewolf, he had just started to notice that he wasn't getting drunk until the second or third full bottle of whiskey when another werewolf told him what he was.
Cat from the Night Huntress series is a dhampyr, with inhumanly high alcohol tolerance. While she often needs a freaking drink to cope with trauma, the calming effect is psychological rather than physical. The only she's ever seen actually drunk is after drinking an entire bottle of Bones's moonshine, and even then she's walking upright when she should be dead several times over.
Angels and demons (who are angels anyway, just on the other side) in Good Omens can get drunk, but among their abilities is soberization—no matter how plastered they are, they can always just miracle it away when they need to.
In H. Beam Piper's Four Day Planet, "Bish" Ware seems the opposite of this, as he's never seen completely sober — but Bish is actually a type 3a and one of The Federation's best secret agents, posing as the town drunk while tracking down an interstellar criminal. His reflexes are shown to still be swift and precise.
Dr Gideon Fell, from John Dickson Carr's novels, can put away enough booze to land any two normal men in the ER with alcohol poisoning without showing any sign. Probably a 3A from pure body mass (if there's an Obese Detective trope, he's one of the poster children).
One Star Wars novel places Zeltrons as a 3A by reason of having fast metabolisms and two livers. Getting a Zeltron woman in it drunk requires something so strong that it's said the mere smell has enough alcohol to knock out members of much larger, 'tougher' species.
3a: In Mistborn, pewter burners are nearly immune to poisons of all types, including alcohol.
The Night Angel Trilogy Uses 3a types in Durzo Blint and Kylar Stern. When weilding the Black Ka'Kari, they are given an inhuman immunity to all forms of poison and toxin, to include alcohol. Even after four full sacs of wine Kylar wasn't the least bit buzzed, and Durzo would spend ungodly hours at the bar to feel the least bit plastared.
When Kylar, as Azoth, first 'meets' Durzo for the first time, he's scrounging for coins beneath the floor of a bar. An assassin approaches to kill Durzo, saying to just let it happen since he says that Durzo has drunk several pints while he watched from the shadows. Durzo replies that he's had even more before the assassin even showed up!
When Lord Maccon goes on a bender in Blameless, it takes large amounts of formaldehyde to get him drunk.
Like so many things, Discworld parodies this, with Bilious, the 'Oh-god of Hangovers'. When the god of imbibing gets drunk, Bilious is the one who gets the hangovers.
A straight example comes from Mort. Mort downs a gulp of scumble, declares it "sort of nutty" and to everyone's amazement is still alive and vertical. On second gulp several watchers start wincing.
Claire had to fake being drunk in order to win a drinking contest. She made her biological father look like a supreme moron.
A type three in the comedy series Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps where Gaz challenges a University Student he thinks is coming onto his girlfriend to a drinking contest. Only one slight problem, he forget the student in question was Australian.
Gallifreyans metabolize alcohol very quickly, so it is almost impossible for them to become drunk or suffer the effects of hallucinogens. Thus can easily drink 10 pints of beer without showing any ill effects. Some Gallifreyans can use special meditations to regulate their metabolism. This gives them a very fine control over the rate at which they metabolize alcohol, making inebriation or hallucinations possible. However, Ginger pop has a severely deleterious effect on any Gallifreyan metabolism.
Difficult to place him but this might be the best spot for him, Titus' father from the show with the same name. The way you see him in the show? That's him drunk. He bingedrinks to act normal, a bit like the Robots from Futurama.
Supernatural: Castiel downs a half dozen shots in a row and calmly says "I think I'm starting to feel something." It's later discovered that he can get drunk, but it's when his angel-fu is largely drained away, and he needs to drink an entire liquor store to accomplish it.
Being a vampire, Nikola Tesla of Sanctuary is immune to the effects of alcohol. Ironically, he drinks MORE once he gets devamped.
On Angel, Lorne is drinking near-constantly, but his Pylean Demon physiology prevents him from ever becoming intoxicated.
Lorne: I wish I could get drunk!
Vampires can and do get drunk, but it takes more work than it does for humans. They certainly can't get drunk off tiny airplane bottles, which Spike and Angel both complain about.
Angel: Huh. Really can't get drunk off these things.
Spike: Not us, anyway. Vampire constitution: not always a plus.
The now-defunct gamerjargon.com website defined "John Steed" as "to consume insane quantities of alcohol in a short period of time and not be in the least affected".
Novas (superpowered people) from the Aberrant RPG setting are extremely resistant to poisons and drugs (a starting character gets Resistance 4 (on a 0 to 5 scale) for free). Regular alcohol and drugs just don't cut it. This being Aberrant, there are of course people who find alternate solutions, but a drink that gets a Nova pleasantly buzzed is likely to kill a mere human in three seconds.
Space Marines from Warhammer 40,000 have genetically enhanced biology, which, among other things, allows them to metabolise alcohol and other narcotics really fast. Word of God says that an astartes drinking competition is about who can drink enough fast enough to actually get drunk (generally around a barrel a minute, for reference).
For example of how these things usually go, one short story had a group of Space Wolvesnote Space Vikings, essentially skulling prodigous amounts of alcohol, non-stop, only for one to suddenly pause, hiccup and finally collapse to the floor, where he began snoring loudly. The lord's response?
Vampires in Vampire: The Requiem cannot, being functionally dead, get drunk by drinking alcohol directly. They can, however, drink the blood of a drunk person and thereby get a buzz (same goes for other drugs, such as cocaine; additionally, if they drink the blood of a mage, experience mild euphoria and hallucinations).
A Monk character in Dungeons & Dragons (3rd Edition) will eventually become immune to any and all toxins once they get to a high enough level. Hilarity ensues when the dwarf gets it in his head that he can outdrink someone a third of his mass who literally can't get drunk.
In 3rd Edition, druids got the same immunity. Dwarves resist alcohol pretty well in all versions of the game to date.
A 3rd Edition sourcebook says that fiends can get drunk, but not on alcohol, because they do not have metabolisms in the way mortals are familiar with. In order to experience an intoxicated state, they consume special magical beverages. The book gives a few examples. (Likely, this stuff might as well be liquor - and probably very potent liquor - to mortals who drank it, if they could even do so safely.)
Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins tells a story about a type 3a Grey Warden who drank a pint for every half-pint the other Wardens drank, and was STILL drinking long after all the others had passed out.
By the time of Dragon Age II, Anders mentions that Justice doesn't let him get drunk. It's not clear how this works - does Justice not let him drink at all, not let him drink enough to be intoxicated, or interfere with the booze once he's drunk it?
Mass Effect: Some of the Cybernetics used to bring Commander ShepardBack from the Dead in the second game granted him/her an incredible resistance to poisons and toxins and also produced this trope as a side-effect. Shepard's resistance to alcohol has been compared to a Krogan, a race of aliens significantly larger (with more livers) than humans. Though Shepard will still end up passed out if you have him/her drink too many/too strong a liquor in one sitting, the level of alcohol required to take the Commander down would probably kill most people.
Akiha from Tsukihime is a type 3a: she can drink large quantities of alcohol with almost no noticeable side effects (she gets disappointed when others can't keep up with her). If she drinks enough she eventually just falls asleep. May be a result of the Tohno family having demon blood in their ancestry.
Arnold Weiss from Alpha Prime. As established during the intro, he can't get drunk because he's not affected by hubbardium, which is apparently in drinks instead of alcohol.
Drebin laments his inability to get drunk in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots when he offers a beer to snake, the nanomachines running through just about every soldier's bloodstream now eliminate the alcoholic content before it has time to metabolize. In the ending, once all the patriot nanomachines have been disabled, Drebin shows up completely wasted.
JC Denton of Deus Ex, due to his nano upgrades, can metabolise alcohol within seconds. In gameplay terms, this leads to blurry vision. Of course, the effects can be stacked with multiple drinks, leaving the player drunk for a couple of minutes tops.
In Cry Havoc Skoll realizes she can't get drunk anymore after she slams six pints and four shots, a later non-canon strip had the cast drinking booze spiked with wolfsbane so they could get intoxicated.
Ten Winds from Keychain of Creation. When questioned about shrugging off a powerful sedative, he answers that "[he's] drunk stronger stuff with [his] afternoon snack".
Durkon from The Order of the Stick loves his beer, but has never been drunk in the comic. In a New Year's Eve story, he and Belkar count down to midnight with 10 straight pints. Belkar kisses Vaarsuvius and passes out, but Durkon doesn't appear affected at all. Of course, Dwarves in this universe have two livers.
Definitely common among Dwarves in this universe. One of the prequel books show Durkon and some associates drinking beer for their morning meal. Not WITH their breakfast, mind you, but AS their breakfast.
Tessa and her squad in S.S.D.D allegedly would need to drink enough alcohol to poison a small elephant to get drunk due to their nanites. Though that may be a retcon as earlier (chronologically much later) Tessa got Reassigned to Antarctica for getting drunk and destroying her CO's car.
At one point the squad is shown getting drunk off "cider" so strong it has to be sold as paint thinner.
Nicole of Quantum Vibe is a variation, she is genetically engineered to metabolize alcohol much more efficiently than normal, so it takes enough alcohol to knock out a beltape to get her drunk. But once she reaches that tipping point she gets very drunk very fast.
3a or possibly 3b: Keira Knightley of AH.com: The Series is a synthetic clone of the actress in question — one side-effect of her simplified genetics is that she processes alcohol far more efficiently than the average human, and can drink almost anyone under the table.
Most of the sporkers of Das Sporking fall under the 3a category. When they resort to alcohol to numb the pain from whatever they're sporking, they tend to down ridiculous amounts of it before their sense get impaired. One notable instance is when Mervin and Agent Sands are sporking The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner and play a drinking game to it using coffee mugs instead of shot glasses. When they are so drunk that Sands is pissing himself, Mervin finally uses the Keyboard of Power to force them sober (which comes with the nasty side effect of launching them straight into a hangover).
In Futurama, alcohol has the opposite effect on Bender, a robot powered by alcohol. In fact, he acts like he's inebriated when he stops drinking, as seen in "I, Roommate".
3a: The professional wrestler Andre the Giant had to drink an entire case of beer just to get a little buzz, this is probably because of his enormous body mass.
One anecdote concerned the worry of the anaesthesiologist when he had to have back surgery. Unsure of just how much to give him, the closest she could come up with would be to equate it to his alcohol tolerance. His response? "Two or three vodkas usually give me a buzz." "Shots?" "No, bottles."
Though the one time he got drunk enough to pass out, no one was able to move him until he woke the next day. It apparently took 119 bottles of beer in 6 hours to hit that level. For the math-impaired, that's an average of one bottle every three minutes.
3a: Neil Fingleton, the UK's tallest man at 7ft 7in, joked about having to spend a fortune when he goes out drinking as it takes around 30 pints before he starts to feel the effects.
Protestant reformer Martin Luther was quite fond of his beer, and boasted that he could drain an entire mug in the time most men took to get a third of the way through. He was never recorded to have gotten drunk. Given that he was a big fella for much of his life, he'd probably count as a 3a.
A lot of Chinese people are known to be genetically restricted to 3b rules. They metabolize alcohol in such a way that they skip "drunk" and just go straight to "hung over". Depending on how these genes came about, this may also explain the stereotypical Native American intolerance to alcohol as well, as Amerindians are currently believed to be proto-Mongolians who crossed the Bering Strait land bridge.
Generally, men tend to be more resistant to alcohol than women, and require more to get inebriated. It's a combination of genetics, size of the individual, amount of body fat, and various other factors.
There is the story of the Aeroflot pilot at a medical, where the doctor was concerned at the extent of the pilot's alcohol addiction and questioned his fitness to carry on being in charge of piloting a large passenger aircraft.
Two bottles of vodka a day is really quite excessive. Why don't you just cut it down to one and we'll see how you're getting on at your next medical?