Phlebotinum Overdose

Oops... guess the blue kryptonite is a little too much to handle...

Zola: Violetta, you pathetic loser! Did you just try to poison me? Ahahahaha! As if that could stop me now!
Violetta: I know that. That wasn't poison, that was more Movit 11. Now all I have to do is watch you combust.

Applied Phlebotinum is useful, so applying more phlebotinum should be more useful, right?

Wrong! When the amount of phlebotinum reaches critical mass, bad things happen. Maybe it summons an Eldritch Abomination, maybe it makes a black hole, maybe it goes more and more unstable and eventually blows up. If the phlebotinum was already dangerous, expect the danger to increase exponentially.

May cross over with Aesoptinum when the Aesop is "All things in moderation." Not to be confused with Phlebotinum Overload. Superpower Meltdown is this on the individual level. See also Going to Give It More Energy. Compare Pent Up Power Peril where the power comes from the inside, rather than the outside, but ends with similar results if care is not taken.


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  • In the film Dot and the Kangaroo, the Kangaroo warns Dot not to eat too much of the root that allows her to talk to animals because if she does she'll "know too much," which will make her "miserable."
  • As evident in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, if Godzilla absorbs too much radiation or if his body-temperature goes too high, he risks going into critical mass and could either explode and/or go into a meltdown. Either way, it's VERY bad news for the rest of the world.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. An enemy Mook drinks an entire beaker of Dr. Jekyll's potion (Jekyll's dose fits in a vial) and grows into a berserk monstrosity that makes Mr. Hyde look normal (and that's saying something).
    Jekyll/Hyde: "It's me on a bad day."
  • Santa Claus The Movie (1985) has stardust as the phlebotinum in question: Adding it to their fodder gives Santa's reindeer their flying abilities. When elf inventor Patch journeys to the human world to prove his worth to Santa, he creates a lollipop that has a bit of stardust as an ingredient; whoever eats one can temporarily fly. They're hugely popular, and the Corrupt Corporate Executive who markets them demands that the follow-up should have more stardust added, so the effects will last longer; the villains subsequently learn that the resultant candy canes explode if kept near a heat source (i.e., a radiator) too long. This is because the stardust, which originated at the cold North Pole, becomes unstable when exposed to too much heat.
  • This is how the Big Bad is defeated in the second Hoodwinked movie.

  • The Magic: The Gathering novel Time Spiral, Radha uses this to defeat Greht. She breaks his hold on his horde, he gets if back by starting a ridiculously powerful spell, and Radha starts feeding him more mana. This doesn't end well for him.
  • In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Willy Wonka gives the three grandparents who refuse to get out of bed pills which can de-age them exactly 20 years per pill — they greedily decide that they should split the whole bottle, and because they don't do the math two are rendered babies and one of them negative two years old. This is played more for horror than humor, as is the result when the negatively aged Grandma Georgina is brought back to this plane of existence via an overdose of an aging serum counterpart — she's several hundred years old until a correct dose of the de-aging pills restores her to her original age.
  • Magic on Discworld has some ugly quantity limitations.

    Live Action TV 
  • Pictured at the top is Bizarro from Smallville, who reacts in the opposite manner to kryptonite that Clark does. He gains strength from green kryptonite, which depowers and poisons Clark. When exposed to blue kryptonite, which strips Clark of his powers for as long as it's in contact, he gains a massive power boost and explodes.
  • In one Fantasy Island a woman was given a potion to become beautiful for a time (an hour??) if she took one drop. Complications ensued and she was forcibly made to drink the whole bottle on the grounds that "if one drop is good the whole bottle is better!" She became a harridan.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation had an episode where an old diplomat takes his wife's share of age-reversing medication as well as his own.
  • The end of "Planet of Spiders" on Doctor Who the Great One, leader of the spiders, assembles a web of crystals that contain power—but when she completes it, the power destroys her. Also meant as a metaphor for the ego.
    • Those crystals are psychic super amplifiers so not just a metaphor, her ego *is* the power that destroys her.
  • In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "Last Supper", a scientist pursues an immortal woman to unlock the secret of eternal life. He injected a tiny bit of her blood into a rat, which was still alive decades later. As his age had caught up with him, he decided to attempt the same on himself. He drew a little too much blood, however, causing him to de-age into a pre-fetal puddle of human tissue.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Older versions of Dungeons & Dragons has Potion Miscibility. That is if you mixed potions or drank a potion while under the effects of another potion you had to roll on a chart to see what would happen instead of the normal effects. A few of the effects are desirable, but possible effects include explosions and being poisoned.
    • Forgotten Realms had a few. Too many strong spells released at once tend to interact abnormally until they form one "spell-storm" on the scale up to Fantastic Nuke or overload and warp the Weave powering them. This way several civil wars among the Drow caused total destruction of their cities, supposedly including the creation of Great Rift — geographical feature about 170 miles long and 1000 feet deep. Myth Drannor had large extradimensional pockets built too densely — enough that they began to interfere, distort magic all around and compromised an originally impenetrable city-scale teleport denial ward — which becomes Very Bad News during an attack by a whole army of fiends.
    • In D&D and its successor Pathfinder, the Staff of the Magi is recharged by letting it consume the power of incoming spells. If the user tries to make it absorb more than its capacity, it explodes with enough force to kill a full-grown dragon or suck the user into a wormhole.
  • Many cyberpunk games have some sort of psychological penalty for implanting too much cyberware, such as going insane or dying.
    • Shadowrun: lowers Essence, losing too much causes death
    • Cyberpunk 2020: lowers Humanity, losing too much causes Cyberpsychosis
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Terror Australis, adventure "Old Fellow That Bunyip". The investigators must drive a bunyip upriver by calling "Eleanba Wunda", the name of a terrifying spirit. Unfortunately, if they say the name too often they may summon Eleanba Wunda itself.

    Video Games 
  • While the Metroid Prime series has the already Toxic Phlebotinum Phazon, Corruption gives Samus a way to harness it as Hypermode. If Samus is exposed to large amounts of Phazon or she stays in Hypermode for too long, it overloads and she must dump all of the Phazon in the system or she will turn into another Dark Samus.
  • In The Witcher, you suffer poisoning when you drink potions. This prevents you from taking too many powerups at once. A justified trope since they are poisons, many of which are lethal to non-mutated humans, but not to the resistant Witchers.
  • Overlaps with Deal with the Devil in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters— using Gig's power too much results in a hostile body takeover, and a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • In Dark Souls, the mysterious black soul-like stuff called "Humanity" is useful for all kinds of things, most notably reversing the effects of Hollowing on an Undead. Naturally, players find themselves encouraged to collect as much of it as they can, and several other characters are shown harvesting it for their own goals. On the other hand, the very dark fate of New Londo and the existence of the Abyss (a dimension of pure darkness that causes instant death to anyone who enters it unprotected) suggest that Humanity is dangerous stuff if mishandled. This is then confirmed in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, which shows that the old kingdom of Oolacile was annihilated when its people tried to feed off of a "primeval human"'s mother lode of Humanity, resulting in Body Horror, mass insanity, and the presumed first appearance of the Abyss.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In Phaeton absorbing too musch mystic energy causes crystal sealing.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode featuring Bane, Batman defeats Bane by sabotaging his Venom pump, causing a massive overdose. This is repeated in two Batman Beyond episodes: in one episode, "The Winning Edge", Bane's doctor adapts the venom formula into slap-on dermal patches, only to be defeated when Terry knocks him into an entire box of them (followed by an explosion to knock him out); in another episode, "Splicers", a scientist marketing LEGO Genetics to create animal people turns himself into a chimera to fight Batman, only to be defeated when Batman doses him with even more of the stuff, causing him to go turn into a horrible blob monster that can safely be blown apart on a Saturday morning cartoon.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures has this in the episode "Best Served Cold". Whitney Stane has been over-using the Madame Masque image inducer, and the phlebotinum that powers it has started to affect her brain. Tony has to travel to the arctic to find the raw ore form of the material to help cure her but in the end ends up having to use a small amount from the supply that powers his pacemaker.
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the Gummi Glen Gummis at one point corner Toady and he decides to drink a whole keg of Gummiberry Juice and everyone scrambles back for the reaction for that much a dosage. Sure enough, Toady has a massive overdose that leads him to uncontrollably rocketing back to Duke Igthorn empty handed.
  • On Hero 108, Mystique Sonia can grow magic bean buns that give the consumer super strength, but in the episode "Lion Castle" she ate too many and just ended up fat and out of shape.


    Truth In Television 
  • People taking prescription drugs will often grow accustomed to the small amounts they take, and so they overdose when they take more and more to try to compensate. Unfortunately, the effective dose and the safe dose are both determined by different factors, and don't rise at the same rate when it comes to a lot of medications, so doing this means you're liable to, well, overdose. Better to switch up meds.
  • all known life on this planet runs on water as a vital component, and you can even overdose on that. It's safe to say that too much of anything we need could be...unpleasant.