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Suck Out the Poison

Now if a snake should bite you, don't you worry, fret or shout
Just call my name and I'll be there and I'll suck the poison out
"But what if I should sit on one and it gets me in the end?"
She said "That's when you'll find out, that I'm a real true friend."
Benny Hill, "Rachel"

Alice and Bob trek through a desert. Bob unwittingly steps on a snake - and, unfortunately for him, it's venomous. Immediately, Alice starts sucking out the poison to buy him some time before they find real aid...

Do NOT actually try this. This used to be taught up until recently-ish, but as it turns out, A) All the bacteria in your mouth could cause an infection in the wounded person; B) Putting poison in your mouth is a Very Bad Thing, and even if you're able to suck it out, you're just transferring the risk from the victim to yourself; and C) Sucking out of a thin puncture will only make the area swell. So it requires making an incision at the site of the wound, which increases bleeding (raising everyone's risk of infection) and may result in the poison entering the bloodstream faster. Of course, using an external device can help with A and B, but their effectiveness is disputed, and they can actually spread the poison further. On top of that, the venom's carried away by the bloodstream - you only suck out a miniscule amount. Some institutions claim that this is a last resort, but most say to not do it at all.

Note that this trope, like most snake-bite "cures", became popular because it seems to work. This is helped by the fact that people survive the vast majority of venomous snake bites even without treatment, and a large proportion of snakebites are 'dry', meaning the snake releases no venom. So, someone gets bitten, someone else "sucks out the venom", and the person gets better (simply because most people do), and both parties become convinced that sucking out the venom works!

In reality, the currently advised First Aid for snakebites is to keep the victim calm, prevent them from moving, and arrange for them to be transported to the hospital. In Australia, pressure immobilisation bandages are also recommended.

May be used as a form of Intimate Healing. Similar to Kiss of Life, as both require pressing one's lips to an injured party's body, but since any part of the body can be poisoned, it's as likely to be gross or funny as sexy. A subtrope of Worst Aid.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Rowan Atkinson did a series of Barclaycard adverts in the 1990s where he played an incompetent spy (later used as the basis for his Johnny English character) whose assistant would call Barclaycard to get them out of sticky situations. In one ad, they are stranded in the jungle with a comrade who has been bitten by a snake. The assistant wants to call Barclaycard's international rescue service, but Atkinson ridicules this idea and suggests they suck out the poison - until he discovers the wound is in a rather sensitive place and agrees to call for help.
    • Given the "buzzing flies" sound we hear, the wound might also have turned gangrenous.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Pictured above: Ninja Scroll: Jubei attempts this after Kagero was bitten by a poison snake, but she quickly stops him by kneeing him and explains she has her own toxin in her body that'll negate the poison...and would've killed Jubei if he had actually managed to start sucking.
  • Bastard has Dark Schneider take a blow from a poisoned sword while protecting a love-interest, and then tells her she'll have to suck out the poison.
  • Change 123: The location of the bite makes this covered by Rule of Funny.
  • It is used in a story arc in Detective Conan, and resident Teen Genius Conan used tea to take use of its astringent qualities.
  • The vampire-like Arystar Krory from D.Gray-Man can remove Akuma poison from another person by drinking their blood.
  • Done in the Fushigi Yuugi OAV, when Miaka sucks poison out of Tasuki's wound. She takes this one step further, in that she attempts to cure Tamahome of a monster possession by sucking the monster out of the bite wound used to make it enter his body.
  • Gon tries this in an early Hunter × Hunter chapter. It doesn't work.
  • In a somewhat early episode of Inuyasha, Myoga the flea did this to Human!Inuyasha when he was poisoned by a youkai. Myoga grew to almost the size of Shippo and passed out. Although Inuyasha didn't need to fully recover. He just needed to last out the night until he regained his Healing Factor.
    • Later, Myoga did the same thing to the entire main cast (except Inuyasha, who didn't need it).
  • Averted in the Zabuza Arc of Naruto. When Naruto takes a poisoned weapon to the back of the hand, Kakashi instructs him to open the wound and let out the poisoned blood from his system. This was pretty hardcore, until he is then reminded to stop the bleeding before he bleeds to death. Admittedly, using a kunai to slice open your bloodstream carries a very significant risk of causing the wound to become septic. But they're ninjas, and he has a Healing Factor (though at the time neither he nor his teammates knew about that last bit).
  • Subverted in Rurouni Kenshin. Yahiko was once poisoned, and when Kaoru was about to try this, Megumi (who is a doctor/pharmacist) stopped her and said that would just complicate the injury. She then makes an actual antidote.
  • A bonus Slayers Yonkoma strip parodies this: after Lina is bitten by a poisonous snake, Gourry volunteers to suck out the poison, much to her embarrassment. He swallows. He spends the next week bedridden.
  • Some kind of essence of evil poison in the episode of Wedding Peach where Limone reveals his past with Yuri.
  • San's introduction in Princess Mononoke shows her attempting this on Moro. It doesn't work because the iron bullet poisoning Moro is never removed.
  • Kyu does this to Megumi in Tantei Gakuen Q when they're trapped in a sealed room and a Meiousei member releases a snake that bites her on the leg. Subverted because, even with that treatment done, Megu still needs to get an injection of the appropriate antivenom and treatment in the hospital before she fully recovers.
  • Eiken has this in one chapter with Densuke and the resident Ill Girl going on a date in the woods and her getting bitten by a snake. Because it is unclear to them if the snake is venomous or not, she insists that he suck out the potential venom, which he is reluctant to do, since it bit her in the butt.
  • In Madan no Ou to Vanadis, Tigre has to suck out the poison from Limlisha when an assassin's snake bit her. Where did the snake bite her? Well...
  • During the Angel Fall arc of A Certain Magical Index, Touma falls comatose from a wound inflicted by a poisonous blade wielded by the serial killer Jinsaku Hino. When he wakes up, he finds out that Misha sucked the poison out of the wound while he was asleep. This scene, along with the serial killer subplot entirely, was axed from the anime.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Atem does this in a flashback when Mahad gets bitten by a snake, and doesn't care about the social implications.
  • Attempted in awkward places by Kiyoshi and Mari in Ecchi manga Kangoku Gakuen. Used with a twist however in that the snakes were never actually venomous, having been put there by Big Bad Keito to invoke this trope for blackmail purposes.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Revelations, at the end of chapter 11, Túrante sucks out the venom from Aragorn. Túrante the vampire is the only character who can do this. She sucks the neck, where the other vampire bit Aragorn. The story never explains how Túrante can suck out the blood and venom without injecting her own venom. Túrante does warn that she might take too much blood and kill Aragorn. The chapter ends in a Cliffhanger as Túrante begins to suck blood.

    Films — Animated 
  • Played with in Atlantis The Lost Empire. Everybody has fallen down a cave shaft into the dark. People start to sound off that they're not dead. Cookie the Chef says that something bit him and someone's gonna have to suck the venom out. By the groans we get the feeling that nobody's exactly jumping into a line. Given that Cookie's a curmudgeonly old man who serves inedible slop three times a day, and that his exact words were, "Dang lightnin' bugs done bit me on my sit-upon. Somebody's gonna have to suck out this poison."...
  • Tarzan does this to teenaged Jane after she is bitten on the arm by a snake in Tarzan (2013).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played for laughs in God of Cookery. Stephen Chow wakes up to find a Shaolin monk about to perform the procedure on him. The monk informs him that he's sucked every part of his body dry of poison, except one.
  • One of the many funny scenes in Caddyshack II
  • Part of a very old dirty joke, played out in the film Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses: The Lone Ranger and Tonto were riding along, the Lone Ranger had to take a leak, and a snake bit him on his, uh, "wee-wee". Tonto ran miles and miles to the nearest doctor, who told him "You have to suck the poison out, quickly!". Tonto ran miles and miles back to his friend. The Lone Ranger asked him "What did the doctor say?". Tonto replied "He said... you going to die, kemosabe."
  • Was subverted in City Slickers II, because it was just a thorn, not a rattlesnake bite.
  • Parodied repeatedly with the "suck out the bullet" scenes in Dead Men Dont Wear Plaid.
  • Subverted in Father Goose. When Catherine thinks she's been bitten by a snake, Eckland tries sucking out the poison before calling his superiors for information on whether poisonous snakes are on the island. Before going to check, the CO tells Eckland not to try sucking the poison out until they know what they're dealing with.
    Cmdr. Houghton: Don't try to be a movie hero and suck out the venom!
  • Subverted in Life Is Beautiful, in which Guido pretends that Dora has been bitten on the thigh by a wasp and that he needs to suck out the poison. Dora's reaction is about what you'd expect.
  • Happens in Snakes on a Plane. A female passenger sucks poison out of a boy's arm and saves his life, using an ancient technique she learned as a child. To make it even sillier, this takes place a long time after the biting, and she gargles olive oil to protect her from getting poisoned. While that was fairly silly, she DID make another incision first, which is more than most examples can say.
  • In Woody Allen's Bananas, a group of rebels is going over jungle survival, each repeating "Suck out the poison", until Allen says "I...I could never suck the leg of someone I wasn't engaged to.". Minutes later the rebel sexy girl runs past, shirtless, clutching her breast, shouting "I've been bitten by a snake!" Allen and all the other men rush after her.
  • In Mean Girls Cady mentions in voice over that when you are bitten by a snake you have to suck the poison out. It was a metaphor, but still not an acceptable mistake for the daughter of zoologists to make.
  • In the Russian film Hearts Of Three, based on Jack London's novel of the same name, Francis Morgan meets his future Love Interest (and cousin) Leoncia. Minutes later, she is bitten by a snake. He sets her down and starts sucking poison out of the wound. A servant boy walks up, carrying the snake, and explains that the snake is not poisonous. Both feel a little awkward.
  • The 2010 adaptation of True Grit contains a realistic example. There is no perceptible benefit to the victim after the wound was sucked on, and it probably caused an infection that was the reason Mattie's arm had to be amputated..
  • Shows up in the Jet Li film High Risk. Also doubles as a Chekhov's Gun - because the hero made an incision before sucking out the poison, there was venom on his knife, which ensures that the Big Bad isn't able to run for long when he escapes after being stabbed with that knife.
  • Done in Who Am I by Jackie Chan. A more outlandish, but more accurate treatment is when he then hydrates the victim with a coconut-milk IV.
  • In Your Highness, Fabious gets bitten on the thigh by the giant five-headed snake. Courtney is forced to suck it. Courtney thinks it's disgusting. Fabious points out he would do it himself, but he can't reach his thigh with his mouth.

    Literature 
  • In Betsy Byars' The TV Kid, the protagonist is hiding under a house when he gets bitten by a rattlesnake. Due to his watching a lot of TV, he knows that he has to cut Xs over the bite to get all the poison. He nearly dies anyway.
  • Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Thomas Covenant gets to do this once, while suffering from a mouth wound. He ends up poisoned too but the little girl lives.
  • In "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire", Sherlock Holmes investigated a strange case where a mother had been caught biting her baby boy, apparently displaying vampirism. In the end, he learned that the baby had been deliberately poisoned using a blowgun with a poison-tipped dart, by the child's jealous elder half-brother Jackie, and that the mother had actually been sucking the poison out to save the baby's life.
  • Twilight, has a vampire sticking his mouth on an open wound to suck out the venom from another vampire.
    • Which might or might not be better than genuine cases, because vampires apparently have no circulation.
  • In Julia Quinn's The Viscount Who Loved Me, Anthony Bridgerton is utterly terrified of bees after his dad died of a bee sting. When Kate is stung by one, he freaks out and tries to suck out the poison from the sting...which was on her chest. They are then interrupted by his mother, her stepmother, and the biggest gossip in town. Shotgun Wedding ensues.
  • In Sun, Moon, and Talia, this woke Talia from her enchanted sleep, which was caused by a cursed splinter of flax stuck in her finger.
  • Sal's grandmother in Walk Two Moons is bitten by a water moccasin at a remote lake and this method is attempted. They do cut the wound open first and rush her to a hospital, and while she survives it's not without injury.
  • Subverted somewhat in Stardust in that Septimus intends to do this, (the semi-right way, with an incision), but by the time he completes the thought, the poison has already paralyzed him and he dies. Very slowly.
  • Subverted in Douglas Adams' Last Chance To See - the team visits the world's foremost expert on snake toxins and ask him precisely this. His response amounts to: "In my professional opinion: don't get bitten!"
    • He also points out that a) you are unlikely to actually get much of the poison out, b) you will then have a mouth full of poison (although due to the high molecular weight of snake venom, it probably won't be absorbed by your mouth), and c) you will mostly likely infect the wound terribly in the process, and in that part of the world (Indonesia), that is a bad idea.
  • John Steinbeck's The Pearl describes Juana using this on her baby Coyotito after he gets stung by a scorpion. However, it doesn't seem to be enough and she and her husband Kino try to find a pearl to pay for a doctor's visit. Soon after the two find the titular pearl, and the couple find to their great surprise that Coyotito's wound is healing.
  • In the Callahans Crosstime Saloon series, there is Ivan, the Alcoholic Vampire. The rest of the bar patrons know him for what he is, and are perfectly willing to let him feed off of him, since he only takes enough to get a buzz.... and consequently Ivan removes enough alcohol from his "victims'" bloodstreams that they wake up the next morning without any hangovers.
  • Lolita. Humbert describes sucking the poison from a gnat bite on Dolores Haze in erotic terms, though by this stage in the book it comes across as Fan Disservice.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens in the Lexx episode "Twilight," with zombie venom being sucked out by a dead guy.
  • In Robin Hood the midwife Matilda sucks out the bee-sting and its poison of a man who is allergic to them.
  • Variation in the second season of True Blood, after getting silver lodged in his body, Eric tells Sookie she needs to suck it out of him. However, this turns out to be a ploy to get her to drink his blood.
  • In an episode of The Benny Hill Show, a TV host gets an aborigine blowgun and a didgeridoo mixed up, puffing a dart into a comely lass' bottom. He tells her it's poisonous. She freaks out and says someone will have to suck out the poison. Suddenly every man in the studio, including the host, volunteers his services.
  • In The Basil Brush Show, Basil and Stephen are exploring a tomb and Stephen ends up with loads of poisoned darts in his rear. Basil says that he would offer to suck the poison out, "but this is a family show".
  • It Ain't Half Hot Mum. Sergeant Major Williams gets into a conflict with a nationalistic Indian journalist who threatens to write a nasty story about him, but changes his mind when the SM saves his life after he's bitten by a scorpion.
    SM: It was not worth the humiliation!
    Colonel: I wouldn't call it humiliating — brave, maybe. I wouldn't like to suck scorpion out of someone's foot.
    SM: He didn't step on that scorpion, sir. He sat on it!

    Music 
  • As seen in the page quote, this trope is referenced (for the sake of innuendo) in the Benny Hill song "Rachel".
  • In the American folk song "Springfield Mountain," a young man out mowing a field is bitten by a poisonous snake. In "serious" versions, he dies because no one comes to his aid. In others, his sweetheart tries to draw the poison but instead is killed herself when the venom enters a "rotten tooth."

    Radio 
  • In The Space Gypsy Adventures episode 'The Christmas New Arrival', Damien mentions being taught this at school. When Gemma asks the inevitable question of what happens if a snake bites him on the backside, Damien responds by making reference to the Benny Hill example above.

    Video Games 
  • Happens in one of the Prince of Tennis dating games, more specifically Umibe no Secret. When Keigo Atobe is bitten by a snake in the hand, you can make the tomboyish main girl (default name: Ayaka Tsujimoto) try sucking the poison out of his injury, much to Atobe's shock. While it works and Atobe is fine afterwards, he actually does call Ayaka out for being so reckless and putting herself at risk of ending poisoned herself.
  • In Dark Cloud, when Ungaga is stung by a scorpion, Mikara sucks the venom out after Nagita refuses to do it.
  • The Oregon Trail II, an Edutainment game, is guilty of demonstrating this. Doesn't always work. Justified considering when it is.note 
  • In the game Rogue Galaxy, the hero, Jaster, comes across a young girl while searching for a legendary town in a desert. The girl has been bitten by a snake, and you have the option of sucking the poison out. It later turns out it was a test to see if he was worthy of entering the town, so its entirely possible that there was no venom and that sucking the wound wouldn't have worked, but the attempt to help was enough to pass the test.
  • Happens on Jin and Muneshige's paths in Yo-Jin-Bo when Sayori complains of a pain in her leg and Jin realizes she's been bitten by a snake. It's played purely for fanservice.
  • In the old PC adventure/survival game Wilderness, this was the suggested method of treating a snakebite.
  • Shows up in the Neverwinter Nights mod Sanctum of the Archmage after Robin is stung by a massive evil mutant spider-thing, but it is treated more realistically as it doesn't cure the poison (merely giving you a few extra hours to come up with the antidote) and has a chance of poisoning your main character too.

    Webcomics 
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Torg does a variation of this by sucking out the alcoholic drink that got into Gwynn's eye. Umm... yeah.
  • Much to his annoyance, nobody rushes to suck the poison out of Igor when he thinks he has been bitten by a snake in Dork Tower.

    Web Original 
  • Debunked in Lifehacker's "Five Survival Skills the Movies Taught You Wrong". The right way to handle a snakebite is to immobilize the body part and get to an ER.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of Jake And Amir, in which doctor (played by Ben Schwartz) tries to cure Amir's food poisoning by impaling him with a straw and sucking all the "bad stuff" out.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, where Grim is stabbed repeatedly through the face by a giant monster scorpion, and then begs Dracula to suck out the poison (Dracula refuses, since actual vampires scrape the skin and then lap up blood). Never mind that Grim is a skeleton who has no circulatory system for venom to move through or metabolism for it to affect. And then later we see that Dracula did remove the venom... by scraping and licking (never mind that Grim has no blood)... on Grim's arm.
  • Sierra from Total Drama World Tour did this to Cody, who is allergic to red ants and couldn't use his Epipen.
    • Even worse, it was an allergic reaction. Thankfully, Sierra was able to get some of the poison out, so nothing too serious happened, but his hand was swollen and gauzed for the rest of the episode.
  • Skipper mentioned that Rico did this once in The Penguins of Madagascar.
    Skipper: Rico's never disobeyed an order before! (thoughtfully) Not even the time I forced him to suck the cobra venom out of my left buttock...
  • Archer: Both discussed and defied in "Once Bitten", when Archer is bitten by a snake. After he pressures Cyril and Ray to suck out the poison, Cyril points out the ineffectiveness and the consequences those actions entail.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Ed may sometimes try this, as well as "CPR" which involves inflating and deflating the person involved. This is always played for laughs.
  • In As Told by Ginger, Ginger's mom, a nurse, warns her daughter that this trope only works in movies when dropping her off at summer camp.
  • In the Dragons: Riders of Berk episode "Dragon Flower," Grumpy Old Man Mildew gets bitten on the butt by a dragon whose venom they were out to collect anyways. They used a bellows to get it out though.
  • Subverted in The Amazing World of Gumball: Gumball tries to suck the poison out of a wasp sting in his finger, but all he manages to do is make his mouth swell up instead.

    Real Life 
  • Robert Baden-Powell (of Boy Scouting fame) is often credited for promoting this technique for snakebite. He first heard of it observing Hindu Fakirs and snake charmers in India, who have used the "suck the poison out" method since time immemorial. Snake charmers today often use an even easier trick - they de-fang the cobras with a pair of pliers.
  • According to the official biography of Genghis Khan, he was saved by his companion Jelme after being hit with a poisoned arrow. The description by people who knew such things was definitely neither clean nor pretty: the first thing weakened and dazed Temujin saw the next morning was ground around him all splattered with his blood which Jelme had to spit out in process of cleaning his wound.
  • Likewise, a legend says that Eleanor of Castile saved the life of her husband, King Edward I of England, by sucking a wound on his arm made by a poisoned arrow.
  • When J.R.R. Tolkien was a toddler in South Africa, he was bitten by a tarantula. He ran through the long grass to his nanny, who sucked the poison out.
  • The smart alternative to sucking the venom out with your mouth is to use a device called an extractor. Any store that sells camping supplies will have them next to the first aid kits.
  • In his book Last Chance to See, Douglas Adams talks about how leery he was of going to visit the island of Komodo (home of the Komodo Dragon) because it has "more venomous snakes per square yard than anywhere else in the world". He and his companions go to visit a renowned expert of poisonous animals for some useful advice. It amounts to "Don't get bitten". The man explains that the snakes will avoid you if you don't provoke them, and that sucking the poison out would probably not get most of it, would drastically increase the chances of infection, and would result in the sucker having a mouth full of poison (though this last one isn't so bad, as snake venom has a high molecular weight and generally can't be absorbed through the mouth). He also dismisses the usefulness of a tourniquet, claiming you'd have to have the limb removed, and if you can find a doctor in that part of Indonesia you'd be willing to have cut off your limb, well, good luck. The only viable solution is to apply a pressure bandage, keep the area elevated but lower than the heart, and get medical attention immediately. But since you're on the island of Komodo, "immediately" probably means a few days, so you're dead. So to repeat: Don't get bitten.

    Other 
  • There is a Russian joke about What? Where? When? (a team trivia game), where the team is asked the following question: "If you are walking alone in the desert, and a blunt-nosed viper bites you in the penis, what are you supposed to do?" The team is thinking, and finally they give the answer "The man should try to get to the nearest village, and there, to ask someone to suck the venom out." Then the correct answer is revealed: A blunt-nosed viper never bites above the knee, and if your penis is that long, you can suck the venom out yourself.
  • This trope is the subject of a very famous vulgar Shaggy Dog Story joke involving a cowboy who got a snakebite on his...personal snake. "The Doc says you're a dead man," says his friend.


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