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Plot Allergy
Allergies are no fun but they can be a useful device in fiction.

Want Alice to be able to go somewhere where Bob can't but don't want to introduce fantasy elements? Have her start coughing whenever she gets near it. Want a tough character to be really afraid of just one thing? Have him be allergic to it.

In real life allergies can cause a number of problems from sneezing to death by throat closure, but fictional examples will usually just include sneezing, streaming eyes and occasionally hives. Also covered would be "intolerances", which generally cause stomach troubles; for example, lactose intolerance.

Please note: Danger is not an actual allergy. Neither is Love, or evil.

Can results in a Sneeze of Doom.

Examples : (separated into types)

    open/close all folders 

    The movement restriction allergy
"I can't go there! I'm allergic to X!" 

  • In Runaways, Gert doesn't want to fight a Nazi made of bees because she is allergic to them.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Sam's peanut allergy prevents her from going down to the food-making machine with Flint through a pit surrounded by shards of peanut brittle. She lowers him down using a licorice rope, but she gets stabbed by one of the shards and starts to swell up. Flint cuts the rope and goes to the machine alone, while Brent takes Sam back to get her antidote shot.
  • Both Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog use this with Pseudo Sonic. Sonic ends up being launched into a field of flowers which causes him to swell up like a balloon. Tails saves the day in both adaptations, but the comic has Bunnie Rabbot coming to Sonic's rescue before Robotnik can get rid of him.
  • In one episode of Dudley Do-Right, Dudley reveals to Nell that he's allergic to marigolds. Snidely Whiplash finds out and creates a suit made of marigolds so Dudley can't arrest him.
  • In Higher Flier Or My Little Blackbird Dainty Dish is allergic to almost everything under the clouds, and her constant sneezing takes a huge toll on her stamina, making her a poor flyer at low altitudes. At higher altitudes, away from her allergens, she's the fastest Pegasus in Equestria.
  • In The Simpsons, when Homer gets a job with Hank Scorpio and moves to Cypress Creek, Lisa is allergic to the pollen from the plants that grow there, and is one of the reasons why they had to move back to Springfield.

     The relationship hitch allergy
"My new girlfriend has a cat/sent me flowers, guess what I'm allergic to" 

  • One Garfield and Friends episode, his owner Jon finally finds a girl...But it turns out that she is allergic to cats at the very end, and the status quo is restored.
  • Wallace & Gromit: Wallace's first potential love interest (Wendolene) is allergic to cheese, dooming the relationship.
  • Questionable Content:
    • A bump on the road in Faye's relationship here with Angus happens when she give him a coffee with milk and he ends up spending some time in the toilet in gastrointestinal distress.
    • Shortly after Marten starts dating Dora, he surprises her with some roses. The inevitable result is anaphylactic shock, but contrary to the more common results of this trope, Dora actually feels sorry for Marten since he's had an attempt at romance blow up in his face...
  • An early episode of The Brady Bunch Jan develops an allergy to Tiger, the pet dog. They plan to give the dog away. But then Jan discovers that she's not allergic to Tiger, she's just allergic to Tiger's new flea powder. (Ironically this was the last episode to feature Tiger as a major character - it's not that somebody was allergic to him, it's that in Real Life he got hit by a car. One other episode talks about Tiger a lot but he's not actually on screen much - he's missing.)
  • In PvP, at one point, Skull the Troll briefly dates a girl who works in a nearby cafeteria. A while later, a mutual friend reminds him that he's been neglecting her, and he rushes off to see her with some flowers. Only, it turns out that she's allergic to them, and he's forgotten it. Being somewhat Genre Savvy, he knew that might happen, and ALSO brought chocolates. Which, as it turns out, she's also allergic to.
  • In Las Lindas, during the 'party' arc, Miles' "The Reason You Suck" Speech for his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend Taffy gets countered by one of these. When he complains that he'd never know if "one more bouquet of flowers" could get her to finally put out, she simply says "I'm allergic to flower pollen. You'd know that if you'd ever gotten me any." Ouch.
    • Also, atypically enough, her flower allergy did come up earlier, in a non-romantic example of this trope - Digit tried to give her a bunch of flowers to say she was sorry about a previous mishap, only for the flower allergy to ruin her attempt.
  • In The Cat Returns, the cats fill Haru's front garden with cattails. In the English dub she later tells the messenger that she's allergic to them. (Actually a slight change from the Japanese version, but given that Haru woke up sneezing the morning after they were planted it's hardly contradictory.).
  • Lana's kryptonite necklace pendant in season 1 of Smallville causes this trope in Clark.

     The detection allergy
"We need to find / be warned about a certain creature, and happen to be allergic to it!" 

  • Teen Titans: Starfire's allergy to a metal used in a certain bomb (and lots of other stuff)
  • The Secret of NIMH: Jeremy's cat allergy, warning them that 'dragon' the farmers cat is near and distracting him when he does arrive.
  • In the Goosebumps book I Am Your Evil Twin, the main character uses his peanut allergy to distinguish himself from his evil clone—since they aren't sure how allergies work, he supposes that the clone might not have it. (After the climactic test, though, it turns out that the clone swapped out the test food for one that he wasn't allergic to, and then made himself throw up so everyone would think he was the real thing.)
  • Snatcher uses a Detection Allergy - the eponymous robots release a masking agent called SNOW-9 which is similar to pollen, causing people (including the protagonist) to sneeze when they're in the area.
  • NCIS: McGee is allergic to a cologne of a suspect, later a body turns up that causes McGee to sneeze.
  • Taken Up to Eleven by Ruby "Pufferfish" Peet in N.E.R.D.S. This child's allergies are so severe they go off when exposed to things such as danger,threats, dishonesty, betrayal. Making her a human danger detector.
  • In Storm Hawks, Junko is allergic to Murk Raiders and Sky Sharks, both of which cause him to release Sneezes of Doom.
  • The Eighth Doctor does this in the Big Finish Doctor Who episode "Caerdroia", where it turns out that the exact time portals they're looking for give him time sickness just by standing next to them. His two companions delight in dragging him around the field as a living detector device while he struggles to keep standing up.
  • One Donald Duck comic has Donald receive 1 million dollars from a stranger, but when he uses some of it to pay off a debt to Scrooge Mcduck, Scrooge immediately starts sneezing; it turns out the money is counterfeit, and Scrooge is allergic to counterfeit money.

    The assassin allergy
"He was killed with the previously unknown allergy to a X!" 

  • In the last book of the Empire of the Ants trilogy, the protagonist's uncle dies near the secret base because he turns out allergic to their sedative.
  • Black Widow. Black Widow Catharine Petersen marries men and murders them by giving them a substance to which they have a lethal allergy.
  • The Bots Master Ziv Zulander and his sister almost fell victims to this trope.
  • The Duckman episode "Days of Whining and Neurosis" features a grotesque murder by lactose intolerance.
  • One episode of Murdoch Mysteries has the victim of the week, who was allergic to peanuts, die when the rim of the cup they were drinking out of was coated with peanut oil.
  • In the Benjamin January series, one book has a murderer poison his victim's dinner with something he was violently allergic to. Since there's no widespread awareness that food allergies even exist, much less that the victim had one, nobody thinks he could have been poisoned by something that everyone else ate.

    The manipulation allergy
"I have your allergen, you will obey me!" 

  • Just about all the husbands on Desperate Housewives have suffered from some convenient allergy which their wives use to manipulate in some way, which is then never mentioned again. Especially obvious in the case of Carlos, who was allergic to eggs for one episode, despite this never inhibiting anything he's eaten in previous and later episodes. You could Fan Wank that all his food is made with egg substitutes and it's just never mentioned, but what all those times he's shown eating scrambled eggs for breakfast?
  • In The Simpsons, Bart finds out about Principal Skinner's allergy (nuts) and uses it to manipulate him; later it turns out Bart has a similar allergy (shrimp) and violence ensues.
    • This is also a Continuity Error as Bart has been shown eating at "The Frying Dutchman" and other seafood restaurants in the past, and Marge once identified Bart's only allergies as "glow in the dark monster makeup, butterscotch, and imitation butterscotch."
  • Stargate Atlantis: Rodney McKay is mortally allergic to citrus. In "The Pegasus Project", before sending McKay off to help SG-1 on a mission, Sheppard gives Mitchell a lemon in case McKay gets out of hand. Later, when McKay claims that the mission is impossible, the lemon makes a reappearance.
    McKay: What stories? What have you heard?
    Mitchell: Well, for starters, that you didn't know the meaning of the word "impossible"... and that under threat of impending death, you could work absolute miracles.
    McKay: Yes, well it's all true, but I'm not under the threat of impending death, and I don't have a—
    (Mitchell pulls out the lemon and holds it up to Rodney's face)
    McKay: ...Well, I'll see what I can come up with, then.


Other Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • Anime gives us an example of allergy as code phrase: in "Weiß Kreuz Verbrechen & Strafe", one of the operatives signals her team that something is amiss by referring to a flower allergy she doesn't actually have. (They know she's faking because the other operatives are all florists.)
  • An episode of the first Dirty Pair TV series had as the antagonist a man allergic to women. Mostly played for laughs, and eventually revealed to be psychosomatic.
  • In episode of Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!, Touka is allergic to cats, so when her younger sister Rikka brings one home, she requests Yuuta to help her get rid of it. When Yuuta expresses reluctance, she presents him an audio clip of one of his rants as the "Dark Flame Master".

Fanfic
  • In First Try Series, the whole plot is set in motion due an exam proctor's unfortunate allergy to peanuts. The exam proctor had to be replaced and the replacement tested Naruto, which allowed him to pass on the first try

Film
  • In The Man Who Knew Too Little, Wallace complains several times about Boris "The Butcher" wearing Old Spice; his violent sniffling and sneezing actually helps him to escape Boris' custody at one point. At the very end, we learn that it wasn't Old Spice causing Wallace's reactions—it was an otherwise-undetectable Amazonian arrow-frog toxin.
  • Addicted To Love: Meg hides crushed strawberries under her ex's pillow, causing him to break out in an embarrassing skin rash and sabotaging his modeling career.

Literature
  • Rachel ends up with an alien allergy to crocodile DNA in one Animorphs book. She morphs out of control, which is the equivalent of a sneeze, according to Ax, and has to deal with the allergy until she burps up the DNA-in the form of a whole crocodile.

Live-Action TV
  • In one episode of Imagination Movers, the Movers get their Idea Emergency when they need to figure out why Dave keeps sneezing. Turns out, he was allergic...to wool (Scott was wearing wool socks).
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Howard needs to keep Leonard away while the others plan a surprise birthday party for Leonard, so he uses his peanut allergy as an excuse to take Leonard to the hospital. When things get desperate, Howard has to actually trigger his allergy to keep Leonard from going back.
  • On Seinfeld the guys suspect that Jerry's new accountant is a cocaine fiend because he's always sniffling and wiping his nose when they're around. Turns out he's just allergic to Jerry's sweater. Then, after they apologize and rehire him, it turns out he really WAS on drugs
  • In one episode of The Brady Bunch, they think Jan is allergic to Tiger, because he makes her sneeze. But it's really the flea powder.
  • Several CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise victims of the week were killed by allergies.
    • On CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the initial reason for a holdout juror's death is thought to be peanut butter in his chili, but they later determine that the would-be killer took the laced food for herself, and a bee sting allergy actually killed the guy.
    • An attempt to kill a boxer in 'Ending Happy' involved getting him to absorb shellfish residue through his male organ. It wasn't the final cause of death, though.
  • CSI NY had a case where some guys played a prank on another guy by lacing his soup with shellfish. He went into anaphylaxis and grabbed for his medication, but the guys had replaced it with an empty one. He died before help arrived.
  • On an episode of Wishbone, Sam, the one chosen to represent her team for a spelling bee starts eating a snack brought by David, but learns too late that it contains coconut, which she's allergic to. It isn't life-threatening, but she can't go to school and David has to take her place, despite being less confident.
    • Averted in the character of Nathaniel, who has a bunch of allergies, including dogs. He spends the night at Joe's house, which forces Wishbone into being shut away in another room. It turns out his allergy to dogs is psychosomatic, induced by his mother because she doesn't like them. (He may have other real allergies, but none of them get near as much attention.)

Video Games
  • In My Sims Agents, a man delivered Evelyn's father's journal into the hands of a MorcuCorp minion. You, with the help of Roxie, prove that the man who made the delivery was the mayor, Skip Rogers, partially thanks to a discarded inhaler for combatting his flower allergy.

Visual Novels

Webcomics
  • Double subverted in Homestuck. John is mentioned early on to be deathly allergic to peanuts, but it doesn't come up for him beyond a few narration asides. Later on, Jake's dreamself, who is an alternate universe counterpart of John's genetic father, is discovered dead. Cause of death? The Courtyard Droll force-feeding him peanuts in his sleep.
    • Of course, being Courtyard Droll, he actually just stuffed so many unshelled peanuts in his mouth that he choked.

Western Animation
  • Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kids. The artificially intelligent computer who sent the team on missions was allergic to dogs. Guess which animal was the Team Pet.
  • Played with in the Regular Show episode "Eggscellent". Rigby enters a contest where he must eat a gigantic twelve-egg omelet in order to win a hat. Problem is, he's allergic to eggs. This does not stop him from trying anyway (he really wants that hat!), and a Gilligan Cut later he's being rushed to the hospital, causing a Last Crusade-esque plot to kick in.
  • Franklin had one in which Franklin kept sneezing. The characters tested a number of possible causes and finally concluded that he was allergic to his best friend, Bear, as he only sneezed when he was around Bear or handled things that Bear gave to him. The two stayed apart for a while, but Franklin eventually decided he didn't mind sneezing if he could play with his best friend. He then found that he didn't sneeze around Bear when Bear was covered in mud. Then, when he went to Bear's house, he got a bath and it was discovered that it was actually the new bubble bath that Bear was using that was causing the sneezing.
  • In an episode of CatDog "Sneezie Dog," Dog suddenly develops an allergy. They go to the doctor, who thinks that Dog may be allergic to Cat. Winslow decides to help Dog out, and takes the opportunity to torture Cat, as usual, up to shaving him bald and placing a brick wall between them. Eventually they find out Dog is actually allergic to Winslow, and they shave him bald as payback.
  • In Rugrats, the babies believe Chuckie is allergic to Kimi since he begins to sneeze whenever she's near him or passes by him. Fearing that the adults would get rid of her if they find out, they try to keep him away from Kimi. It later turned out that Kimi had a bunch of dandelions in her diaper which she was planning to give to Chuckie as a gift.
  • Four episodes of Grojband shows that Corey's allergic to cats, specifically cat dander, since the cats featured in the episode "Super Zeroes" doesn't have any, while the cats featured in "One Plant Band" (which also incidentally snapped him out of his brainwashing) and "Love in an Nethervator" do.
    • In the episodes "Kon-Fusion" and "Pop Goes the Bubble", Trina is allergic to bread crust and bubbles.
  • The Sofia the First episode "When You Wish Upon a Well" reveals that King Roland is allergic to cats, so Amber, upset that he's been spending more time with Sofia than her, wishes that he was allergic to her sister, which results in Sofia turning into a cat.
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