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[[caption-width-right:350:Just one drop of my medicine will cure all the side effects of my medicine!]]

->''"You're okay, baby. That stuff was just 90% water, 10% alcohol."''
--> -- '''Dr. Matthew Freeman''', ''Series/{{Copper}}'', to his wife Sarah, on the "miracle tonic" she drank to cure her morning sickness.

A specific type of itinerant ConMan who makes his living by selling products which [[TooGoodToBeTrue could not possibly work as advertised]]. The classic version sells literal snake oil (i.e. a product with 'medicinal' properties and exotic, unknown ingredients.)

This shady dealer is somewhat similar to the {{Hustler}} in being both less financially stable and having a poorer group of victims as well, and also has some overlap with the {{Honest John|sDealership}} as being a purveyor of shoddy goods, not always phony medicine.

The character is often played as a LoveableRogue, frequently being extremely attractive to local women because he's "seen the world" (or at least can convincingly pretend that he has). He's often inexplicably sympathetic, given his career as a seller of fake medicine to legitimately sick persons.

Definitely TruthInTelevision, hearkening back to the late-19th/early-20th century, when there were no standards for practicing medicine or selling goods and "caveat emptor" was the rule. The rise of "alternative medicine" and other forms of AllNaturalSnakeOil provides lots of modern examples as well. A Snake Oil Salesman is also known as a "quack", short for "quacksalver", though the term "quack" also covers fraudulent doctors who are nowhere near as skilled as they claim to be, such as the worst {{Back Alley Doctor}}s. Any effects the "medicine" has are almost certainly down to the PlaceboEffect.

In an interesting subversion, actual snake oil contains plenty of Omega-3, which has known therapeutic effects. However, in a DoubleSubversion, the actual benefits are so vague to laymen that the modern version of this could be "Fish Oil" or "Omega-3 Salesman". Also, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Water_Snake oil from the Chinese Water Snake]] has been used for a very long time in Chinese medicine, though not as the extreme panacea advertised by this sort of character (indeed, this connotation is largely unknown in China[[note]]the closest analogy in Chinese, at least in some regions, would be "dog-skin poultice"[[/note]]). Rather, it's merely used as an ordinary anti-inflammatory agent, originally introduced into the United States by Chinese railroad workers. The modern definition originated with Clark Stanley, a Texas businessman who claimed to have received Hopi knowledge about the medicinal properties of rattlesnake oil -- as it turns out, his medicine virtually contains no such oil, and in 1989 it was established that real rattlesnake oil contained only one-third of the Omega-3 content of their Chinese counterparts.

Similar to the FakeFaithHealer, but without the religious overtones.

Expect to find ''actual'' Snake Oil Salesmen at the local MedicineShow. The BeatBag is his hat.

NB: To count as an example, the Snake Oil Salesman has to be ''knowingly'' hawking fake medicine. Well-intentioned ignorance fits better under WorstAid.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Nuopu's grandmother in ''Anime/TheTibetanDog''
* Daphne, a FillerVillain from ''Manga/FairyTail'', peddles "Metamo-chan", a kind of kabob she says helps weight loss. When the heroes meet her, she outright admits it's all bogus. Particularly because she's less interested in scamming them and more interested in catching Natsu to power her giant mechanical dragon.
* In ''Anime/WelcomeToTheNHK'', Megumi Kobayashi ends up becoming one when she gets roped into a {{Ponzi}} scheme in order to support herself and her {{Hikkikomori}} brother. She ropes in her old classmate Tatsuhiro Sato, and when he tries to get out of the scheme, keeps him in (and ropes his friends in) with a dietary supplement which, according to her, is suited for helping hikkikomori overcome their condition.
* In ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'', there's the Magikarp Salesman, inspired by the one in the game. He first appeared on the St. Anne in Kanto where he conned James into buying a Magikarp, and since then has suckered James and Jesse into buying other worthless Pokémon, including another Magikarp and a Hoppip.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Dr. Doxey in the ''ComicBook/LuckyLuke'' comic series. He is portrayed more unsympathetic than it is usual for the trope.
** In "Sarah Bernhardt", the theatre company breaks out in hives after eating whale meat for too long. They encounter a traveling salesman that can cure everything ("Ehm... and ''especially'' hives!")... with his whale oil elixir.
* [[Disney/TheThreeCaballeros Jose Carioca]] once helped his cousin Joe sell candy to his neighbours, knowing full well that the candy was too impossibly hard for anyone to actually eat. Despite his attempts to put as much responsibility for the candy on his cousin, they both get beaten up by an angry mob.
* One issue of ''ComicBook/TheMuppetShowComicBook'' reinvents Dr Bob of ''Veterinarian's Hospital'' as a frontier medicine man. At one point he asks Nurse Piggy if they can get any more "medicinal compound" [[{{Squick}} out of the cat]].
* Swindle is one of these in ''[[ComicBook/TheTransformersIDW Transformers Ongoing]]''. He sells custom Cybertronian guns to the human populace to protect against an invading Decepticons using artificial humans. The guns also allow Decepticons to take control of human buyers. According to Vector Prime, in ''Transtech'' he also sells an item called the "Placebotron 5000," which is 'guaranteed' to cure all manner of Cybertronian maladies (which of course doesn't work, not that he honors any guarantees), making him a more traditional version of this trope to his fellow Cybertronians.
* According to the comic book adaptation of ''Ride/TheHauntedMansion'', Hitchhiking Ghost Phineas was one of these, having died from taking a tumble off a cliff during one of his escapes from an angry mob. Trying to take his trade into the afterlife at the Mansion results in trouble with the resident ghosts, so he ends up futily hitchhiking to find better pastures.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* In one strip of ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'', Calvin decides to set up a stand selling drainage ditch water as "Calvin's Curative Elixir" at a dollar a glass. When Hobbes tells him nobody will pay to drink what is obviously just filthy water, Calvin changes his pitch to "Pitcher of Plague: Calvin's Debilitating Disease Drink! $1.00 not to have any."
* ''ComicStripe/TheFarSide:'' One strip has a man fending off a werewolf, flashing back to earlier that day when the salesman ''assures'' him that the bullets he's buying are silver, as the caption notes how the man recognises the familiar-looking tie around the werewolf's neck...

* ''Fanfic/TheGreatAlicornHunt'' has a unicorn calling himself "Professor" Cotton Mouth who [[spoiler: sold a group of pregnant mares an elixir that caused severe birth defects, resulting in a number of stillbirths, and a few foals that died within a short time, and some maternal deaths as well. Ten odd years later only two foals that were exposed have survived, one of them by ascending to alicornhood in utero.]] Played with when he reappears later on in the story, as [[spoiler: he genuinely thought that the Vitality Elixer would work as advertised, as negative side effects didn't show up in his initial test subject ([[ProfessorGuineaPig himself]]) until after he'd already sold it to the mares, by which point it was too late.]] [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone He's regretted it ever since.]]
* As listed in the anime folder, the Magikarp Salesman has a small role in ''Fanfic/PokemonResetBloodlines'', by selling one of his Magikarp to Misty. While she saw through his scam quickly, she intentionally played dumb to get him to reveal his personal info, which she plans to use to get him arrested.

* Professor Marvel in ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'' movie, played by the same actor as the wizard himself. He was more the LovableRogue type, and after finding out Dorothy ran away, tricks her into going back home by using his fortunetelling act to make her think her aunt is ill.
* Doc Terminus from ''Film/PetesDragon1977'' is a villainous version - and indeed, [[VillainSong his song]], [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHboMLW-Zn0 "Passamaquaddy"]] is practically a SnakeOilSalesman theme song. He's also [[StupidCrooks comically incompetent]]; he's been run out of every town he's ever visited, and he anticipates -- and gets -- an unfriendly reception when he winds up in one of those towns a second time. Oddly enough, the primary character who believes his products aren't useless quack remedies is... Doc Terminus himself. At the very least, he trusts his recipe book's claims about the merits of dragon parts.
* Creator/DannyKaye's character Georgi in ''The Inspector General'' (1949) starts the film as the assistant of Snake Oil Salesman Yakov, but turns out to be too honest for the job.
* Mr. Merriweather, in ''Film/LittleBigMan''. Protagonist Jack Crabb also becomes one of these as his assistant.
* In ''Film/TheKidBrother'', Harold Lloyd as the son of the sheriff is supposed to run off the MedicineShow but falls for the Snake Oil Salesman's lovely daughter instead.
* Lilah encounters a snake oil salesman on a stagecoach in a deleted scene from ''Film/JonahHex''.
* In ''Film/SeraphimFalls'', the [[Creator/LiamNeeson leading]] [[Creator/PierceBrosnan characters]] meet Madam [[LouisCypher Louise C. Fair]].
* ''Film/{{Priest 2011}}''. Honest John is trying to sell a potion that wards off vampires when the sheriff shoots the bottle out of his hand.
* The Stooges in ''Film/SnowWhiteAndTheThreeStooges'' were this until they rescued PrinceCharming from an assassination attempt.
* One of these serves as BumblingSidekick to ''Film/TheOutlawJoseyWales''.
* ''Film/TinMen'' is about shady aluminum siding salesmen.
* ''Film/TheHalfBreed'': Dick Curson is a very shady example who pushes a useless patent medicine from the back of a wagon. He's also a sleazebag who patronizes prostitutes and dumps his companion Teresa after taking a fancy to one in particular.
* In ''Film/AMillionWaysToDieInTheWest'', Albert and Anna meet one at the fair who is cheerfully selling medical tonics and elixers that are clearly a crock of shit, going by the list of ingredients of one bottle.
-->'''Anna''': Cocaine, alcohol, morphine, mercury with chalk? What the hell is "mercury with chalk"?
-->'''Salesman''': [[BlatantLies Science!]]
-->'''Albert''': And "red flannel". Red flannel? There's a shirt in here?
-->'''Salesman''': [[ComicallyMissingThePoint Pieces of shirt.]]
* Radomir from the Soviet movie Uchenik Lekarya(The Doctor's Apprentice) starts out as this, selling "medecine" for old age,stupidity etc. [[spoiler:He becomes a real doctor to help his girlfriend's mother]]

* Aunt Polly in ''Literature/TomSawyer'' is clearly a victim of charlatans like this, even though we never see who they are, buying quack remedies to give to Tom.
* In the children's Christmas book ''[[Literature/EmmetOttersJugbandChristmas Emmett Otter and the Jug-Band Christmas]]'', Emmett's late father was literally a snake oil salesman. He boated up and down the river selling snake oil. (A RunningGag in the book was that he was unsuccessful because "nobody wanted to oil any snakes.")
* The title character in ''Literature/TheGoodSoldierSvejk'' sells dogs; as the book describes, they're "ugly, mongrel monstrosities whose pedigrees he forged." He once talked a woman, who wanted to buy a parrot, into buying a bulldog.
* Sinclair Lewis's ''Literature/ElmerGantry'' is a religious version, although his occasional moments of sincere belief in what he's preaching (especially in the film version) cross him over somewhat into more complicated {{Hypocrite}} territory.
* In ''Literature/TimeScout'', a number of these guys infest the time terminal commons. Skeeter Jackson gets a start on this scam, but gets interrupted by an angry gladiator.
* In ''[[Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar Winds of Fury]]'' Firesong's cover when sneaking into Hardorn was as a stage magician/snake oil salesman. His magical cure-all was brandy mixed with some medicinal herbs, which made it theoretically healthy and of considerably higher quality than most things sold by such people.
* While no specific people fit this in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince'', Arthur Weasely is put in charge of the newly created Office of the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects. Its sole directive is to weed out those trying to sell illegal counterfeit and faux protective items and spells.
** The only real mention of someone is a wizard who tries to sell Ginny a such a item, a necklace 'to protect her pretty neck'. Arthur threatens him, saying if he were only on duty.
** Judging by ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix'', some of Hogwarts' sixth and seventh year students turn into these around O.W.L. exam time, selling dubious brain stimulants such as Baruffio's Brain Elixir and alleged powdered dragon claw (which was actually dried Doxy droppings; genuine dragon claw actually does help but a student would be unlikely to get it).
* [[HonestJohnsDealership C.M.O.T. Dibbler]] of Literature/{{Discworld}} fame might be best known for selling pig-sausages in a bun, but he'll turn to this if there's a profit to made. For example, when a dragon was rampaging the city, he was remarkably quick to procure and sell "dragon lotion".
* In the children's book "The Great American Elephant Chase", Michael Keenan makes a living running a traveling elephant show. However, he has a sideline selling bottles of "elephant tonic", proving its healing powers by publicly curing a crippled girl. Unbeknownst to the audience, the girl is his daughter and perfectly healthy.
* This is Zigzagged with Sylvester [=McMonkey=] [=McBean=] In the Creator/DrSeuss' book ''The Sneeches and Other Stories''. Technically, he's no peddling "snake oil", seeing as the services he sells actually work and does exactly what he claims. However, he cleverly uses his Star-On Machine and Star-Off Machine to milk the Sneeches for everything they've got, playing on their obsession over those dumb stars.
* ''Literature/TheAmyVirus'': Cyan's parents, Dr. Nansi, and the others who promote the fraudulent Good Brain Diet to "cure" autism make most of their cash off of blogging about it. [[spoiler: At the end, Cyan, [[TheAtoner her mother]], and Eroica decide to write a blog post exposing the truth about the diet in order to shut the scam down.]]


[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Bronn accuses Pyromancer Hallyne of being one of these, even going so far as to suggest that the wildfire he's making is actually pigshit, much to the man's affront. {{Averted}} during the Battle of the Blackwater when his wildfire turns out to be the real deal.
* An episode of ''Series/KungFu'' featured a woman named Theodora (played by Diana Muldaur) whose "magic elixir" was stream water mixed with leaves.
* Dr. [[MeaningfulName Stringfellow]] in the ''Series/NightGallery'' episode "Dr. Stringfellow's Rejuvenator", who is a rare example of a phony doctor being treated as unsympathetically as deserved.
* In one episode of ''Series/QuantumLeap'', Sam leaps into a "rainmaker" who claims to be able to end droughts.
* ''Series/TheTwilightZone1959'' episode "Mr. Garrity and the Graves" concerns a man who cons a town by claiming he can raise the dead. The problem is that all the graves but one in the town cemetery are populated by victims of violence (and that one died of a heart attack...after breaking her husband's arm for the sixth time), and nobody ''wants'' the dead to rise. So they pay the man ''not'' to raise the dead. He leaves town, we learn how his scheme worked... [[spoiler:but it turns out that, without knowing it, the man ''did'' raise the dead, and they're pretty eager to get back to town.]]
* "Miss Jeanette" from ''Series/TrueBlood'' does exorcisms in the woods for people who are "demon possessed". She really works in a drugstore. There's a bit of evidence she may have had legitimate abilities as an exorcist, with the dress up just being for show. This was confirmed in the episode "Frenzy". [[BigBad Maryann]] explains to Tara that "[[ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve ritual is a powerful thing]]," and that Miss Jeanette was able to, albeit unwittingly, tap into actual supernatural forces. In fact, it was Tara's "fake" exorcism that summoned Maryann to Bon Temps in the first place.
* ''Series/TheGoodies'' in "Hospital for Hire" (especially Graeme):
-->'''Graeme''': My friends, this here bottle contains a guaranteed all-purpose remedy for prostration, inflation and frustration! Pneumonia and old monia! Distemper, dat temper and bad temper! Sunburn, heartburn, and [[TakeThat Tony Blackburn!]]
* Doctors [[Creator/JohnBarrowman Dean]] and Dana Deville in ''Series/{{Hustle}}'', who sell bottles and tins of garbage as cures for everything from arthritis to swine flu, are decidedly ''un''sympathetic {{Smug Snake}}s. Their latest scheme, when the Hustle gang [[PayEvilUntoEvil target them]], is "Eat Yourself Slender", which puts a friend of the gang into hospital.
* Parodied on ''Series/TheChasersWarOnEverything'', with Chas peddling such products as Oil of Snake, Bollocks and Feng Shite. If you believe their audio commentary, the scene was not a case of SelectiveStupidity - everyone they talked to fell for it.
* Invoked for a quick gag in Creator/JimHenson's adaptation of ''Series/EmmetOttersJugBandChristmas'', where Emmet's father is said to have been an unsuccessful snake oil salesman: "There just weren't that many people that wanted to oil a snake!"
* ''Series/{{Gunsmoke}}'' had Professor Lute Bone, whose "Miracle Tonic's" active ingredient was opium. As a twist on the usual, he was firmly against alcohol abuse.
* Harry the Hat on ''Series/{{Cheers}}''. Usually he only appeared in the opening sequence to scam a few bucks out of the bar patrons or staff (usually, Sam was the only one who didn't fall for it) but the one episode where he played a central role, he was a LovableRogue type, helping Sam and the others outwit an even bigger crook.
* One named Zerbo was a recurring character on ''Cowboy G-Men'', often using a PaperThinDisguise and running afoul of the hero's sidekick Stoney Crockett. He also tried other scams, but evaded prosecution by helping the heroes out of jams.
* In ''Muppets Fairy Tale Theater'''s adaptation of "The Emperor's New Clothes", Rizzo the rat gets arrested for selling "Rizzo's Miracle Elixir" as a cure-all. He talks his way out of trouble by distracting the emperor with the "new clothes" scam.
* In ''Series/{{Copper}}'', as per the page quote, Sarah Freeman is sold a "miracle cure" by a traveling salesman. It turns out to just be a mix of water and alcohol, and Sarah's physician husband, Matthew, proceeds to [[ExtremeMeleeRevenge beat the shit]] out of said salesman in front of a crowd of potential scam victims.
-->''[[PreAsskickingOneLiner "You sold my wife your]] '''[[PreAsskickingOneLiner SNAKE OIL?!"]]'''''
* On ''Series/GoodEats'', Alton pretended to be one of these in the celery episode, selling a "tonic" made from celery seeds. Complete with a stooge in the audience claiming that it made his hair grow back.
* Referenced through flashbacks in ''Series/{{Forever}}'' when Henry remembers the classic type of snake-oil dealers when investigating deaths connected with a modern-day snake-oil business. [[spoiler:The modern-day outfit is selling a compound that, unbeknownst to its customers (and even its main spokesman/salesman), is made from [[{{Squick}} human brains]], resulting in fatal prion infections in people who use it.]]
* Dr. Oz has come under fire recently with studies that show that only about half of the products he recommended on his show were backed by science. John Oliver tore him [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA0wKeokWUU apart]] on ''[[Series/LastWeekTonightWithJohnOliver Last Week Tonight]]''. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TucUMpWWe8A Twice]].
* A season-one episode of ''Series/DrQuinnMedicineWoman'' involves a snake-oil show coming to town. Naturally, Dr. Mike, unlike the rest of the town, takes issue with the effects of the "perfect elixir" peddled by Dr. Eli (played by Robert Culp, who had once played Buffalo Bill Cody in a similar manner). A good deal of the emphasis is also placed on how touring "wild west" and medicine shows like the one depicted demeaned Native Americans involved in them.
* ''Series/MurderRooms''. Dr Bell encounters another doctor who's offering free consultations, but the treatment is invariably an expensive patent medicine that only he sells. There's also a RunningGag of him trying to sell a magnetic device to the Navy that can deflect cannonballs...if the enemy was considerate enough to use steel shot.
* They show up a couple of times on ''Series/WagonTrain'', such as the title character of "The Shadrack Bennington Story" (who, while something of a con man, is basically harmless) and Jethro Creech in "The Baylor Crowfoot Story" (a bullying JerkAss).
* Before she died and went to ''Series/TheGoodPlace'', Eleanor's job was to sell a fake allergy medication called [=NasaPRO=], (and it's senior citizen-marketed variant [=NasaPRO=] Silver), which legally couldn't be called medicine because it doesn't technically "work" and is technically "chalk".
-->'''Chidi''': So your job was to defraud the elderly... Sorry, the ''sick'' and elderly?\\
'''Eleanor''': [[ComicallyMissingThePoint But I was very good at it.]] [[NotHelpingYourCase I was the top salesperson five years running.]]
* In the taiga drama ''Shinsengumi!'', this is [[UsefulNotes/TheShinsengumi Hijikata Toshizou's]] first job.
-->'''Kondou Isami''': I'll bring you the medicine that you sell.\\
'''Hijikata''': It's okay. That doesn't work.
* In the ''Series/MurdochMysteries'' episode "The Canadian Patient", Dr Ogden confronts a woman selling health pills who has learned enough to explain the ''concept'' of "vital amines", but not how to make pills that actually ''contain'' them, because people buy what she's selling. [[spoiler: She ends up applying for med school and becoming Dr Ogden's new assistant]].

* [[Music/TheBeatles Paul McCartney]] plays a snake oil salesman in the "Say Say Say" music video while Music/MichaelJackson plays his accomplice.
* "Tarred and Feathered" by Stormwitch is about the town-to-town salesmen of the wild west era.
* The subject of "Cosmik Debris' from Music/FrankZappa.
* The subject of Steve Earle's "Snake Oil", though the "salesmen" he sings about are crooked politicians.
* The CorruptCorporateExecutive of Music/IronMaiden's "El Dorado" says that his extortive GetRichQuickScheme "is my personal snake oil".
* "Medicine Show" by Music/BigAudioDynamite is sung from the POV of one, extolling the virtues of his product, but never says what the product is.
* "Lily the Pink" by Scaffold (and with a young Elton John on backing vocals) is a satirical take on this; the song touts the increasingly outrageous things "Medicinal Compound" has supposedly done. "Lily the Pink's Medicinal Compound" is ''suspiciously'' close to "Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound", an actual product from the late 19th Century at least up through the Prohibition era, though its 18% alcohol content (36 proof) may have had something to do with its popularity during the latter part of that.
* The father of the viewpoint character in Cher's "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves" was at least a part-time snake oil salesman, selling bottles of "Doctor Good".

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* In the HurricaneOfPuns comic strip ''Sir Bagby'', there was a story arc where Sir Bagby encountered a snake oil salesman; his first reaction was a bemused "I hadn't realised so many people had squeaky snakes."

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* In ''Magazine/{{Dragon}}'' magazine article for 2nd Edition ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', outlining what seems to be an early draft of the 3rd Edition Bluff rules, one example is a conman selling fake healing potions, and who bluffs so well that even when a cleric exposes the scam, the mark assumes he meant well and just didn't realise.

* Dr. Dulcamara from the opera ''L'elisir d'amore''.
* Harold Hill from ''Theatre/TheMusicMan''.
** Parodied in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' where a [[LawyerFriendlyCameo nearly identical character]] selling defective monorails convinces Springfield to buy one, and it is revealed that these monorails have had accidents killing several people in the past. At the end, his flight out of town is forced to stop over in one of those towns, and he gets lynched by an angry mob.
** The most famous player of that character, Robert Preston, played an alien variant of the character as a shady military recruiter in ''Film/TheLastStarfighter''.
* Ali Hakim from the musical ''Theatre/{{Oklahoma}}!''.
* Adolfo Pirelli, a.k.a. [[spoiler:Daniel Higgins]] in ''Theatre/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'', who sold a "Miracle Elixir" that was primarily concocted of piss and ink. Overlap with NeverTrustAHairTonic, since his elixir claimed to make hair grow back. [[spoiler:He becomes Sweeney's first kill after twigging to Sweeney's true identity as Benjamin Barker and attempting to blackmail him out of half his earnings]].
* Bill Starbuck from ''The Rainmaker'' and its musical adaptation ''[[OneHundredTenInTheShade 110 in the Shade]]''.
* Eustace P. [=McGargle=], from the 1923 musical comedy ''Poppy''. [[Creator/WCFields W.C. Fields]] originated the character on stage and later played him in two film adaptations, the silent ''Sally of the Sawdust'' (1925) and the "talkie" ''Poppy'' (1936).
* In ''Webcomic/MenInHats'', Sam [[http://www.meninhats.com/d/20030924.html goes into business]] selling a miracle cure which is rebottled laundry detergent.
-->'''[[ThePollyanna Beriah]]''': Try it Gamal! It feels great until you realize you can't walk!

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII'' features these as vagrant traders, who'll advertise their magic cures as they ride around town with their wares. You can't actually buy any snake oil from them though, only generic supplies such as arrows or firearm cartridges.
* The ''Broken Steel'' DLC for ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' features "The Amazing Aqua Cura" sidequest, in which you investigate a ghoul's snake oil operation. You end up being able to expose, blackmail, or force him to go legit if you uncover his secret. He is a {{troperiffic}} example of the character, putting on a show and claiming that his "Aqua Cura" will give the customer strength, happiness, better sleep, restore a ghoul's lost skin and hair, [[LovePotion make your heart's desire fall in love with you]] and even clean your laundry.
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' examples:
** The Magikarp Salesman first appears in the original ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'' (and ''VideoGame/PokemonFireRedAndLeafGreen''). First seen in the Pokémon Center on Route 4, he offers you a Magikarp for 500 [=PokeDollars=]. This is, of course, a ripoff, because you can get a Magikarp anywhere. While he doesn't actually appear in [[VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver the sequel]] a boy in Pewter City (which is adjacent to Route 4) will show his [[MagikarpPower Gyrados]] to anyone who asks, and a girl in the same city claims he bought a Magikarp from a "weird old man" three years prior, and trained it.
** Zigzagged in [[VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver Gold and Silver]], where a Team Rocket member offers to sell you a Slowpoketail for a million [=PokéDollars=]. This is a ripoff, of course, but you couldn't buy one even if you wanted (there's a 999,999 limit to the amount of money you can carry).
** Inverted in ''VideoGame/PokemonDiamondAndPearl'', where the Meister offers to trade you his Magikarp for a Finneon. It's no better than any other Magikarp, but accepting the trade does [[BraggingRightsReward enable the German language entry of Magikarp in your PokéDex.]]
** Zigzagged in ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'' (and [[VideoGame/PokemonBlack2AndWhite2 its sequel]]), where the Magikarp Salesman appears again on the Marvelous Bridge. He offers the same deal here, but it might actually be worth it now, as Magikarp are not native to Unova, and can only be found in the [[BonusLevel Nature Reserve]] in the second game.
** In ''[[VideoGame/PokemonXAndY X and Y]]'', a Magikarp Salesman appears, and [[spoiler: ''he's even more crooked'' than any others. After you talk to a hiker that you meet in the hotels enough times, he offers you a "Super Special" Magikarp in exchange for a Gyarados. It's nothing but a plain old Magikarp, and only Lvl 5, lower than one you could catch yourself. (If you knew that the guy's name was "Caveat" and that the Magikarp's name was "Carpe Diem", it might tip you off, but you only learn that if you trade it.) The only compensation is that the Magikarp has an Adamant nature (which lowers Special Attack to boost its Attack) and has a perfect IV in Attack.]]
** There's a guy like this in ''[[VideoGame/PokemonRubyAndSapphire Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire]]''. He doesn't offer a Magikarp, and if you're clever, you can benefit from dealing with him. [[spoiler:After dealing with Groudon/Kyogre, an old man who claims to sell stones appears on Route 114. He speaks highly of one he offers for 40,000 [=PokéDollars=], even higher of one for 80,000, and highest of one for 150,000. But all three are Hard Stones. Two items he sells, which he claims are "for beginners" and tries to steer you away from, only cost 1,500; these are the Mega Evolution stones for the two Starters you did ''not'' choose.]]
* Funnily enough, in ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance]]'', a conversation between Shinon and Gatrie actually reveals the latter to have bought snake oil after being conned into thinking it was a speed potion.
* There's a PlanetOfHats of these in ''VideoGame/StarControlII''.
-->''In the future, Captain, I would be careful what I bought from the Druuge.''
* ''VideoGame/GuildWars2'' has one in Lion's Arch, [[MostAnnoyingSound constantly advertising his junk]] next to the Mystic Forge, one of the highest-traffic areas of the city.
* ''VideoGame/RedDeadRedemption'' has one of these in the form of Nigel West Dickens, a major character, even mentioning the trope by name. While his products definitely don't work as advertised, they do have other beneficial effects. Drinking his medicine refills your [[BulletTime Dead Eye]] meter.
** This trope is also parodied with the "The Dangers of Doctors and Patent Medicines" short film that can be watched in the movie theater. It features a snake oil salesman and the unfortunate and violent side effects of his "remedies," ending with the warning "Medical science cannot save you. It will kill you [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment and leave you dead.]]
** Even better, in the [[ZombieApocalypse Undead Nightmare]] {{DLC}} storyline, it turns out that his "vitality elixir" which he sells as a zombie repellent actually attracts the undead John remarks that "It's like catnip to them!". This turns out to be a good thing, since you can throw bottles of the stuff to lure the zombies away, and later you even "upgrade" it by stuffing a stick of dynamite into the bottle, making it the Wild West version of ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'''s Pipe Bomb.
* Mystia Lorelei of the ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' series. As revealed in ''[[AllThereInTheManual Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red]]'', [[http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Article_and_Interview:_Mystia she's started a business of selling grilled lamprey]], which is rumored to cure night-blindness. Business is booming since her area has an inexplicably high amount of people suffering from night-blindness, and when people eat the food she serves, they find themselves miraculously cured! Of course, the fact that Mystia has the ability to induce night-blindness on others and can cancel it at anytime she wants may have something to do with it as well.
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', the Thieves Guild has fallen on such hard times that their recruiter, Brynjolf, is forced to run a sideline selling miracle products such as "genuine Falmer blood elixir" to the citizens of Riften. A previous scam of his, "Wisp Essence", turned out to be crushed Nirnroot mixed with water. It doesn't help when you remember that [[FridgeHorror Nirnroot can be used to make a fairly potent poison.]] It doesn't really matter if he actually sells anything, though: His little bouts of quackery are mainly used as a distraction so that other members of the Thieves' Guild can do their business in the market with everybody handily looking at the person who isn't breaking into their stalls.
* In ''VideoGame/CuteKnightKingdom'', one story path has a pink-haired girl named Jenny who sells various "health products" and wants you to test them. If you visit her multiple times manage to collect the ingredients she wants, she'll eventually take you on as an apprentice. The title of this ending, along with the text explaining your character's reaction to it, reveal [[AllNaturalSnakeOil the sad truth about Jenny's "business"]].
* Stan in ''VideoGame/MonkeyIsland''.
* [[MeaningfulName Charlieton]] in ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'', but only when you meet him in Rogueport; when you meet him in the Pit of 100 Trials, he's an IntrepidMerchant who [[AdamSmithHatesYourGuts probably took lessons from Adam Smith]]. But in both cases, he's a sleazy merchant. (However, if you're ''very'' lucky when you talk to him in Rogueport, he might be selling Jammin' Jellies or Ultra Shrooms, very useful items, for only 120 coins, which is the cheapest they sell for in the game.)
** Rip Cheato in the first game is another salesman you should be wary of. You can buy a Life Shroom from him and a few Star Pieces, but before you can buy any of his good stuff, you have to buy a lot of junk. And his prices are ''incredibly'' inflated.
** Also, Chet Rippo, who appears in both games. For 39 coins, he will upgrade one of Mario or his partners' stats by two levels, but downgrade all the others one level. (In the second game, [[LovableRogue he's more honest about the side effect]]; in fact, it's possible that it's two different people, as they look different in each game.)
* ''VideoGame/KillingFloor'''s Summer Sideshow event turns the fireball-shooting Husk into a steampunk robot who acts like a Snake Oil Salesman trying to sell you fire.
* ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVIIThePrincelessBride'' has such a salesman who markets various unlikely wares, including a tonic which will make you gullible. He provides you with were beast salve in exchange for a magic statuette.
* [[PunnyName Griftah]] in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' sells trinkets and amulets that he swears offer all sorts of amazing benefits, like [[HyperactiveMetabolism recovering health by eating]], [[MoneySpider finding treasure in mundane places]], and [[DeathIsCheap coming back to life]]. Every good luck charm he sells offers access to basic MMO mechanics, aside from a tikbalang ward (they might get you if you don't have one... or not) and soap on a rope (running around all day in the same clothes...).
* ''VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing'' ''does'' have a wagon-based healer, Doc Galactik, who uses poisonous substances in his remedies; however, his stuff is both cheap and effective. With the advent of the West of Loathing challenge path (early 2016) players can now play the Snake Oiler character class, which upgrades the character type to an effective adventurer. Snake Oilers actually do collect snakes (in a briefcase) and use their oils and venom to compound awful "cures" to give to monsters, but they also possess advanced revolver skills (as "customers" may survive), the ''ability'' to safely handle highly venomous snakes, and (as they may need to drink their own tonics) will learn to concoct genuinely effective medicine.
* Available as a character class in the SpinOff ''VideoGame/WestOfLoathing''. The snake oiler actually collects snakes, and can extract a certain ammount of both their oil (a minor healing item) and their venom (poison grenades) per day. The ammount can be increased by stuffing defeated snakes into their breifcase. The description for their healing skill is "Some of your patent medicines actually work! You put them aside for yourself."

[[folder:Web Original]]
* WebVideo/OnCinema: Dr San whom Tim often pays for alternative medicine treatments which often led to Tim developing more health issues. Greg however does not trust him and has on at least one occasion referred to his treatments as "quackery".
* Skrufy the Hobo from [[http://www.youtube.com/normantweeter Norman Tweeter]] qualifies, as he once sold a copy of ''Film/ManosTheHandsOfFate'' for $75. [[http://youtu.be/YWaNo6gZ02k]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the [[WesternAnimation/JoeOrioloFelixTheCat Felix the Cat TV cartoon]] [[Recap/JoeOrioloFelixTheCat1x48YouthWater "Youth Water"]], the Professor poses as a salesman, using ordinary bottled water to con gullible old people out of their money by making them think its water from a Fountain of Youth.
* The aptly named Flim Flam from ''WesternAnimation/The13GhostsOfScoobyDoo.''
** Though, to be fair, his "Lotsa Luck Joy Juice" ''does'' work as a cure for [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent lycanthropy]], making him a tidy profit in the pilot episode.
* WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}: Whoever made and sold to Dr. Zoidberg "Dr. Flimflam's Miracle Cream" probably qualifies, though they're never seen. Though the cream [[SubvertedTrope really did give Fry and Leela superpowers]]...
* Betty, Koko, and Bimbo in ''WesternAnimation/BettyBoop, M.D.'' sell bottles of "Jippo" (we see the bottles getting filled from a fire hydrant).
* In one ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' cartoon, after weakling WesternAnimation/DaffyDuck is humiliated at the beach by a bully, a huckster sells him a bottle of muscle tonic (ingredients: 10% tap water, 90% hot mustard); then, to prove it worked, the guy makes a fake 5,000 lb barbell out of balloons while Daffy is coughing from the spicy drink, and when he recovers, tells him to lift it, which he does with ease. (Of course, this leads to Daffy only humiliating himself ''more'', but he gets even in the end, daring the bully to lift the barbell; the guy does so only too well, propelling himself ''way'' into the air and crashing to the ground.)
* Dr. Charlatan, whom TheSmurfs dealt with in "The Miracle Smurfer".
* In ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures'', Uncle's IdenticalGrandfather sells bottles of "Chun Gai Surprise" in TheWildWest. Near the end of the episode he uses its contents to melt down a rifle.
-->'''Uncle:''' Chun Gai Surprise: good for digestion, bad for everything else.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' has a rather odd case with Flim and Flam, a pair of unicorn brothers who appear in the season 2 episode ''[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS2E15TheSuperSpeedyCiderSqueezy6000 The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000]]''. Travelling across Equestria with an automated cider press, they put up a big catchy musical number about how they can produce gallons of great-tasting cider in no time at all... but the thing is? They're actually being ''honest'' about it, proving to make cider just as good as locals The Apple Family, and far quicker and greater quantities than the Apples can. However, they ''act'' more like Snake Oil Salesponies by first demanding an absurd amount of the profits in exchange for using their machine to help the Apples produce cider quicker, and then set up a competition to try and run the Apples out of business so they can use up all of the farm's apples for cider, sell it all, and then take off with the profits.
** They fit this trope much better when they return in season 4's ''[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS4E21LeapOfFaith Leap of Faith]]'', where they're actually running a MedicineShow hawking their latest creation of a miracle cure-all tonic.
* An episode of ''[[WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail Fievel's American Tails]]'' features Dr. Travis T. Hippocrates, who commissions an unknowing Fievel to pass out candy to everyone in town that gives them hiccups so that the doctor can sell them a placebo cure.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'' features one of these, from whom Lion-O purchases some of his "miracle elixir". Even though it has... ''unpredictable'' effects on whoever drinks it, [[spoiler:the thing proves really good to ward off demon-dinosaur Mumm-Ra.]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/Ben10Omniverse'' episode, Professor Blarney T. Hokestar sells a "miracle elixir" that grows plant-like hair on the user's head. The elixir only works for a limited time though, as the alien it was demonstrated on (who [[TheShill just so happens to be the Prof's underling]]) is shown to be bald again a short time later.
* One of Granny May's many crimes in ''WesternAnimation/{{WordGirl}}''. She sells it by cocooning Mr. Botsford in easily-breakable yarn (as opposed to her usual NighInvulnerable yarn), and using the fact he can break free as proof of her claims about it, but is revealed when [=WordGirl=] switches it with some of her normal yarn during a demonstration.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfTeddyRuxpin'': Tweeg once cheated people out of their money by selling them fake medicine. The heroes tricked him into buying it back by making him believe there's a machine that turns the fake medicine into precious stones.
* 'WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** Abe showed Homer the merits of his homemade love tonic. It's so successful that they take it on the road in an old west charlatan style show. At one point, Dr. Hibbert mentions that the tonic's effects are actually due to intoxication caused by the filthy bathtub it is made in, before drinking some himself.
** Lyle Lanley, the monorail salesman. He made his living tricking towns with a budget surplus into buying shoddy monorails then skipping town.
** Played with in the episode where Ned opens a Christian theme park in his late wife Maude's memory. The park is a bust until someone has a vision of Heaven in front of the statue of Maude near the gates. Everyone thinks it's a miracle until Ned later finds out there's a gas leak in front of the statue and people are just [[MushroomSamba hallucinating off the fumes]]. However, the park is bringing people together--and raking in loads of money--as crowds flock to the statue to experience their version of Heaven, so Ned uncomfortably goes along with it. He finally caves in when he sees two children try to light a candle near the statue....
** Selma once visited a Gypsy fortune teller hoping to buy some love potion so she can find a husband. The fortune teller accidentally drinks her surprisingly effective "truth serum" revealing to Selma that the bogus love potion is mostly made of just "corn syrup and rubbing alcohol" as well as there being a big chance it will cause hair loss.
* Jim Kaplan in ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy''.
* Harry Mudd shows up in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/StarTrekTheAnimatedSeries'' hawking a LovePotion. It turns out to be the real thing... except that it's short-lived, and when it starts to wear off it makes the affected people hate each other until it wears off completely. Mudd admits that he didn't know that the stuff actually worked and is chagrined at how cheaply he was trying to sell it.
* An American cold war propaganda piece had a sleazy man selling "Ism" tonic, as a cure to the ills of government. A savvy would-be customer shows the side effects of it as being horrible (slave farms, no free speech, everyone is poor and under the heel of the state). The townsfolk run the con man out of town by throwing his "medicine" at him.

* PlayedForLaughs with ''Macfuddy's Pepper Elixir'', a cola marketed like patent medicine. It's got such outrageous claims on it as "Infused with Luck! For 24 hours of favourable outcomes." and "Cures timidity and satisfies the daring!" In reality, it's spicy pop with a cool label.

-->''[[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Well, you've got opportunity/In this very community...]]''