Follow TV Tropes


Alchemy Is Magic

Go To

Alchemy is often portrayed as magical or fantastical in some way, and alchemists are often portrayed as chemist-wizard hybrids who can produce a wide range of supernatural effects by mixing together the right substances combined with the proper rituals and/or the addition of magic power (mana or otherwise).

Most commonly, alchemy is used to produce Magic Potions and improvised explosives. More skilled alchemists may be capable of the Transmutation of substances, or Creating Life in the form of homunculi. The holy grail of these alchemists is the Philosopher's Stone, a substance attributed with any number of special attributes.

This is a case of Science Marches On. Alchemy, after all, used to be an acceptable means of study. However, alchemy always had something occult-like to it, as evidenced by goals such as the panacea (cure-all) and the "Elixir of Life" (which grants immortality). This association stems from the fact that when alchemy still was a legitimate field of study, belief in magic also was widespread, so both were equally "real". For more notes on this, visit our Useful Notes on Alchemy.

This is a subtrope of Functional Magic. When alchemy is present, you can also expect to find variants of Equivalent Exchange.

Compare Chemistry Can Do Anything, which is in many ways a modern and science fiction refurbishing of this trope.

This trope appears in the following works:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Buso Renkin: The series mentions that the Real Life version of alchemy is simply how history records the subject with the more fantastical elements being kept from the general public. While the transmutation of lead into gold and creation of the Philosopher's Stone are explicitly mentioned as having failed, the setting's alchemy did lead to the creation of the man-eating and near-immortal monsters known as homunculi and the kakugane, bulky hexagonal disks that give those that hold one a minor Healing Factor, and can transform into a powerful magical weapon or tool based on the wielder's personality and will to survive.
  • Dragon Knights has Kharl the Alchemist, a Mad Scientist who works at creating demons from scratch and demon seeds to turn other species into demons.
  • Fate Series:
    • Fate/Zero, and by extension Fate/stay night, reveals that the Einzbern family specializes in alchemy, which is how they were able to produce homunculi and the Holy Grail's body itself.
    • Fate/Prototype: In Fragments of Sky Silver, the Caster of the story turns out to be Paracelsus, the father of modern alchemy. Berserker, on the other hand, is Dr. Jekyll, who created his exixir with alchemy that allows him to turn into Mr. Hyde.
  • EDENS ZERO: "The Dark Alchemist" Drakken Joe uses the Alchemist Ether Gear, which allows him to manipulate Ether in order to transmute anything into different materials or forms of matter, including his own body. It's also the source of his longevity, as he uses alchemy to transmute the life energy of others into his own.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: In this universe, turning rocks into gold is a simple alchemic procedure (albeit an illegal one, due to the risk of shattering the economy from inflation), but the Philosopher's Stone, and immortality along with it, is still being sought. In this world, it's firmly established as a science, with specific references to the periodic table. However, it's still based on channeling energy through magic circles, and the classical elements are briefly mentioned as a valid option. There are several alchemical practices in use:
    • The alchemy of Amestris uses the movement of the tectonic plates and geothermal energy to power the transmutations. Although in the 2003 anime, alchemy is powered by the lives of those who died on the other side of the Gate, which is our world.
    • The alkahestry of Xing uses the chi of the Earth as it travels along ley lines originating from mountains and focuses more on medical application.
    • The ancient city of Xerxes had its own form of alchemy that was the precursor to Amestrian alchemy and Xingese alkahestry. However, its application and power source is never fully explained.
    • An Ishvalan scholar invented a method of alchemy that was a combination of Amestrian and Xingese practices. However, as Scar, the lone practitioner, primarily focused on its deconstruction power, we don't see its full application in a way that shows how it is unique.
  • Hellsing: Many of the bindings and invocations concerning Alucard are alchemical ("The Bird of Hermes Is My Name, Eating My Wings To Make Me Tame" is from the Ripley Scroll) in origin; however, it tends to focus on the "magic" and symbolic part and less the chemistry.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Caro La Rushe has a spell called Alchemic Chain that summons iron chains. Since it's actually made of metal instead of being a magical construct, it's unaffected by anti-magilink fields.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Shouta's father is apparently an alchemist , though it's only mentioned as the reason why Lucoa can't offer endless riches to crash at their house.
  • Naruto: Downplayed with Hidan. Part of his ritual involves drawing the famous "squaring the circle" rune on the ground, but it just serves as the base for his Blood Magic.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has some references to alchemy—at the end of Volume 21, Ken Akamatsu shows his work with a quite detailed depiction of the history of alchemy and its relationship with the 1,000,000 drachma 'ixir'.
  • Symphogear brings in magical alchemy in GX, aka the third season, with the appearance of Carol Malus Dienheim who is an ancient alchemist who threatens the world. The way she uses alchemy takes the form mainly as elemental attacks and even the things she builds/creates leans towards magic. It later is revealed and discussed how Magic Music, Relics, and Alchemy all stem from the same source.
  • Wolf's Rain has a form of magic called alchemy that does a whole lot of strange things: The titular wolves use it to project human illusions for disguise, Cheza was created from mixing flower and human DNA, and the nobility use a form of Hermetic Magic that draws on transmutation circles.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The feats that Daitokuji-sensei (called Dr. Lyman Banner in the dub) performed as his villainous alter-ego Amnael certainly seemed like magic. He created a homunculus duplicate of himself (much like a clone) to replace his dying body, and after defeating both Asuka and Manjyome in Shadow Duels, he was able to hold them captive in an extra-dimensional prison inside the Emerald Tablet he carried (a book with the Eye of Wdjat on it). His true goal was to obtain immortality, as he was dying from some curse. Interesting enough, the cards his deck used referenced terms used in historic alchemy, using monsters called "Alchemy Beasts" (which were based off common base metals and animals used in alchemy to transmute and refine gold), and Spell Cards named after the four most vital steps of magnum opus, the path towards the creation of the Philosopher's Stone.

    Comic Books 
  • Doom Patrol: During Grant Morrison's run, the Negative Man merges with his (female) therapist and became Rebis, the alchemical marriage of man and female. It then finds immortality in a tree on the moon.
  • Fantastic Four: Diablo is a villainous alchemist who can transmute elements through means unknown to modern science, enabling him to control his own physical body, the bodies of others, or inorganic matter.
  • Hack/Slash: Used but eventually subverted. The Big Bad is a thousands-of-years-old villain with dark alchemical abilities, but in the end, his Zombie Apocalypse-creating potion turns out to have an antidote created by a modern chemist. In effect, alchemy sometimes includes magic, but the two are not the same.
  • The Smurfs: Gargamel is supposed to be a wizard, but most if not all of his magic comes from potions and artifacts, making him closer to an alchemist.
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four: Being an alchemist allows Diablo to use physical elements and magic in a way that makes him seem more like a sorcerer.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has both the Harry Potter and Dresden Files variants, though the latter is only really alluded to in passing. The former is described as being essentially the pinnacle of transfiguration and overlapping considerably with high-end science. While transfiguration is mainly manipulation of molecules, which is quite formidable enough, and transformations that don't stick, transmutation (permanent transformation of elements, etc) is far more difficult, and far more dangerous. Given how dangerous transfiguration is to begin with, this is saying something. Among other things attributed to it are:
    • The Super-Soldier Serum, and its various derivatives, including the Infinity Formula. The original serum is explicitly described as essentially alchemy, or at least alchemically derived, perhaps accounting for why the other versions don't work so well.
    • Magically transmuting something straight out is described as being potentially very dangerous, as like with nuclear transmutation in Real Life, alpha particles are emitted, which can be very dangerous under the right circumstances. Consequently, a lot of effort goes into making sure they're either not emitted or neutralised. This is something that Wanda mentions in the first book, and Hermione is reprimanded for when she starts dabbling with using her newly developed Chaos Magic to transmute things - while she's taught immediately to protect herself, she's not learned to protect others and is ignorant of the risks, causing Harry (who has dabbled with dangerous powers and suffered the consequences) to over-react.
    • The Philosopher's Stone is described in the sequel as making transmutation quick and easy, avoiding the excess radiation problem. In the sequel, Doctor Strange nips back in time and steals and using it to transmute an entire mountain (specifically, a volcano created to wipe out Hogwarts, Scotland, and then the entire planet, in roughly that order) into a mixture of vibranium and mithril ore. The immediate reason is that they have a much higher thermal load than ordinary rock, though everyone else suspects (correctly) that he's got more planned.
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls: Not exactly. Just like Soul Reapers can use kido to cast spells, Quincy can use spirit particles to make spells on their own. The main difference between those two is that while Soul Reapers only need to invoke an incantation, Quincy need to prepare them in advance using chemicals and physical mediums, most common being Ginto, a silver tube filled with spirit water distilled from Quincy's spirit power. Ironically, Human world is connected to the World where alchemy is seen as a form of magic.
  • Fate Revelation Online: Alchemy eventually gets patched into the game. Shirou explains to Argo that there are two types of alchemy: Physical Alchemy (which is basically just chemistry by way of magecraft), and Spiritual Alchemy (which involves transmutation of the soul). Physical Alchemy is extremely dangerous if you don't have the periodic table memorized, but is generally looked down on because it has no chance to reach the Root, the end goal of all magecraft. Shirou warns Argo not to bring this up to Illya, as it's a sore spot. Argo, who still doesn't know that magic is real outside the game, doesn't understand why Illya would get so bent out of shape over a piece of game lore. Shirou doesn't explain that Illya is a homunculus and thus a product of Physical Alchemy.
  • Harry Is a Dragon, and That's OK explores Harry Potter-style Alchemy as a NEWT elective taught by Dumbledore himself, though it hasn't been offered in a while because Dumbledore forgot to tell anyone that it was an option. It is essentially a combination of Potions, Transfiguration and Muggle chemistry in the sense of manipulating material properties through experimental processes, but with a lot of arbitrary and metaphysical properties that have to be taken into account, from the origin of the materials used and the shape of the alembics, to the alchemist's ideas of what properties a material is thought to have and even the identity of the alchemist themselves. With it, one can do stuff like make tin transparent like glass but still remain malleable, make water crystallize at room temperature but still be pourable, or make an alloy with the lightness of aluminum and the strength of iron.
  • His Recipe For Love: One big advantage the Cupcake Bakers have over their bandit victims is that they are alchemists, and arm themselves in advance with a variety of bombs and alchemical potions.
  • Nullmetal Alchemist: Ed is insistent on calling alchemy magic, and that he is Amestris' State Magician, despite Al's protests.
  • The Steep Path Ahead: Alchemy is responsible for a swarm of giant rats, a variety of giant plants, a Giant Spider colony, and possibly the first Orcs in the setting. At this point, Saito hates being involved with Alchemists because he's had to put down so many of their creations in his time as an Adventurer.
  • When a Pony Calls: Near the end, we learn that alchemy exists in Equestria as a form of magic all ponies can learn, as opposed to just the unicorns (and Princess Luna apparently specializes in it) and the human now pegasus pony Soren/Silver Script swears to learn it and save Pound Cake, who was Taken for Granite after an unfortunate run into a cockatrice, leading into the stories sequel The Alchemist's Heart.


  • Baccano!: The 1711 immortals were originally alchemists. At one point, a couple of them are seen reciting from the Emerald Tablet. They used alchemy to summon a demon to create the Elixir of Life.
  • The Baroque Cycle: The practice of alchemy is a major plot thread. Daniel considers it hogwash, Isaac studies it intensely and considers it just as valid as science, and a good many nobles dabble in it just because it's the cool thing to do. Enoch the Red is a famous alchemist with a scientific bent, and then Enoch whips out some Elixir Vitae and brings Daniel and Isaac Back from the Dead.
  • Belgariad: There are alchemists, although Belgarath, the world's eldest sorcerer, is rather dismissive of the practice. As he puts it, "If you want gold so bad, why don't you dig it up?" Also, sorcerers can conjure up gold if they really need to. However, Senji, an alchemist who discovered sorcery by accident (making him immortal), actually discovered how to turn lead to gold, but the process costs more than the resultant gold... and is quite dangerous. What's far more valuable is a process that someone else discovered, which was to essentially give glass the same properties as steel — which would be worth far more, and considering that glass is just melted sand, cost far less.
    Stunned alchemist: (recovering from an explosion) Too much sulfur. That's it. I put in too much sulfur...
  • A Certain Magical Index has Aureolus Izzard, one of Touma's early foes. Stiyl's explanations of alchemy mention many real-world alchemical pursuits, but the anime only shows one alchemical spell used: Izzard manages to set up Ars Magna, which causes anything he thinks to become reality, effectively making him a Reality Warper within its field of effect. It's later revealed in the novels that Izzard created a homunculus double of himself which used the spell Limen Magna, which uses a needle and chain to instantly transform anything it touches into molten gold.
  • Discworld: Alchemy is also practiced on the Disc, although most of the time Ankh-Morpork's alchemists merely blow up their guild house instead of achieving anything.
    • They have achieved all kinds of things when they've managed to put their goal of making gold aside for a few moments, such as film suitable for movie cameras. Cheery Littlebottom, the City Watch forensics officer, is a trained alchemist but left the guild. Through the roof. Like others before them, the Disc alchemists have discovered you can turn lead into gold, but only at the expense of a lot more gold than you're going to end up with. They also tend to believe that pretty much anything contains the secret to eternal life: "An alchemist would cut his own head off if he thought it would help him live longer".
    • However, Discworld alchemists are always very clear that alchemy is not magic, and they definitely aren't intruding on Unseen University's field of study. In Moving Pictures, the reason the alchemists leave Ankh-Morpork for Holy Wood is that even though they're quite clear that what they're doing isn't magic, they're pretty sure the wizards will complain about it encroaching on their turf somehow. (Mostly Discworld alchemists are just chemists who've skipped a couple of steps in their pursuit of something impossible; their rare successes being more or less rooted in mundane chemistry. In this book, however, they've [accidentally] tapped into the powers of the Things From the Dungeon Dimensions, and are also using imps, which they insist isn't magic, as such.)
  • In Doom Valley Prep School, alchemy is second only to actual wizardry in terms of magical potential. On his way to the school in chapter 1, Peter meets fellow enrolling student Michael, who is enrolled in the alchemist curriculum. To Peter's horror, the offer of a bar of chocolate to soothe his nerves is doctored with multiple alchemical agents that knock him out, waking up as a girl, to fit Michael's template of "the perfect girlfriend" with several hypnotic suggestions that, when tripped, would cause Peter, now Petra, to show Michael some form of affection, with the consent being highly questionable. Of course, the suggestions don't work, to Michael's confusion, and Michael has the gall to see himself as the victim when Petra fakes it to get close enough for a nice Groin Attack, "The Reason You Suck" Speech and to Kick Them While They're Down via Extreme Mêlée Revenge, only stopping when the teachers tell her enough's enough.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry uses alchemy occasionally, usually when his regular magic isn't enough (which happens more and more rarely as the series progresses). Making a Magic Potion involves eight ingredients; a base, and something to stand in for each of the five senses, mind and spirit. Then he performs a spell which makes the mess a potion.
  • Empire of the Vampire: Though alchemy is also said to exist as a separate discipline, chymistrie is the art which the Silversaints use to concoct some of their tools, such as bombs, ointments, poisons, and of course, ''sanctus''. It is explictly described as "something between alchemy, witchery and lunacy".
  • Flying Dutch: The alchemist Montalban developed the immortality potion that blighted the lives of Vanderdecker and his crew, and also routinely turns lead into gold — a technique he actually taught Vanderdecker to help make up for the immortality/horrible stench thing.
  • Gentleman Bastard has alchemy as a low-magic practice that's seen like a science, setting it as a contrast to the more flashy high magic of the Bondsmagi of Karthain. Alchemical stoves that use water as a fuel source are commonplace, as are alchemical blends of fruit, liquor, and animals (such as a hawk with scorpion stingers for talons and an accompanying venom sac).
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the title stone belongs to Nicholas Flamel and has been used by him and his wife to keep them alive these many centuries. Neither of them appears in the book, but they are friends of Dumbledore. At the end of the book, they are mentioned as putting their affairs in order now that the stone is no more.
    • Potions are also frequently used in the series. Strangely, alchemy is a magical discipline in the HP world, represented across several media (you can even study it at Hogwarts in the final years, according to Pottermore) but how exactly it relates to Potions and Transfiguration is not discussed.
  • The Iron Teeth: Magic in this story is done by mages who use crystals they create through chemistry or alchemy. A lot of education and knowledge is required to get the formulas right and bad things happen when you fail.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle actually has both alchemy and chemistry coexist in the same setting, even taught in the same University. The difference being that alchemy is magical, while chemistry is a hard science (although magic is rather analyzed in the setting, too), and scholars of neither are happy about being confused for the others. This is lampshaded in The Wise Man's Fear when discussing a fireproofing ointment. When the protagonist Kvothe expresses his doubts as to what alchemy can do (specifically, that nothing becomes flammable when mixed with water), his alchemist friend Simmon responds by throwing some water into the substance, which promptly explodes, leaving the usually know-it-all Kvothe to admit that he knows nothing about alchemy.
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora: Alchemy is the most common form of magic due to sorcery being monopolized by a single guild of very expensive sorcerers.
  • The Man Who Made Gold, a novel written by Hilaire Belloc and illustrated by his friend G. K. Chesterton, depicts a round of panic and deceit after a young professor learns how to transmute metals from his dying, drug-addicted pupil. Notably Belloc uses atomic theory as a Phlebotinum du Jour: the transmutation is presented as a matter of knocking three electrons off the lead atom.
  • Nightrunner: This plays a major role in the later books. Because Healing Magic Is the Hardest in the setting, the Overlord of Plenimar engages a powerful alchemist to do some truly messed up Blood Magic in the hopes of obtaining a cure for his ailing son.
  • The Pendragon Legend features the dark riders as major antagonists who seek to complete the great work through black magic. That's not the focus of the novel however, but rather, the young scientist researching their history, and the history of the Pendragon family as well as their connection to the Rosicrucian order and the Freemasons.
  • Sacré Bleu: The Colorman uses the title pigment to extend his life for millennia.
  • The Salamanders: Alchemy is a common part of life in the five cities and relied upon to make things like Healing Potions for hospitals and adventurers, or "fire potions", a flammable liquid that is used for stoves and lamps (including street lamps). The main character, Micah, is also an alchemist.
  • The Scholomance: Alchemy is one of the three main tracks at the Scholomance, with dedicated labs and supplies. While all students take an alchemy class every year, only those going for the alchemist-track take the more advanced classes and spend more than the required amount of time in the labs. As the labs, much like the workshops for Shop Class, are frequent hiding places for mals, there's no point in going for the alchemist-track unless you have an affinity for it.
  • The Secret of Platform 13: The protagonists convince Raymond to come with them to the Island when Cornelius turns base metal into gold, promising him as much as he wants. He neglects to mention that, since any wizard worth his salt can do the same trick, on the Island, gold is basically worthless.
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: Starring Nicholas Flamel himself. In that world, some alchemists have indeed found immortality; Flamel and the Comte De Saint Germain among them. Flamel himself has found the way to create the Stone and the Elixir, though it requires a special formula from a certain magical book. The formula is in fact different every month the book reveals it; trying to use the same formula again is dangerous. The book itself contains many other secrets, some which are far too dangerous, should they fall into the hands of the Dark Elders, for Flamel to let the book out of his sight.
  • Shaman of the Undead: Alchemy is mentioned as one of the divisions of magic. It takes a backseat to plot's demon-hunting adventures, though.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has its own Alchemists' Guild (sometimes called the pyromancers), who claimed a magical pedigree back in the day but are basically viewed as charlatans and doddering old men in contemporary Westeros. They are feared and respected for one thing, however — they know how to make wildfire (or "alchemist's piss," as it's more colloquially known), which is basically what happens when napalm and Greek Fire have an unholy spawning. It's also hinted that they might not be lying about the magical pedigree; one alchemist says to Tyrion that it's become much easier to produce wildfire for some reason, that reason, unbeknownst to him, likely being the reemergence of dragons.
  • Spice and Wolf: Defied. When Lawrence goes to a district for a town's alchemist, his guide tells him they just do experiments with acids and metal. This ends up holding true even after we find out they have a god in human form like Holo living there.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Soulcasters (both the device that performs the actual magic and the people who use the device) can transform anything into anything else, so long as they have a gemstone filled with Stormlight. While this is an absolutely miraculous ability that allows armies to march with virtually no supply lines as well as literally create buildings out of thin air, it does have its limits. Soulcast food is filling, but bland and tasteless, while Soulcast buildings are dull and unimaginative since details are extremely difficult. Not to mention the implication that the devices do something to their wielders if used for too long... Long-term Soulcasters are described as living statues, with skin like marble and eyes like stone.
  • Uprooted: Potion-brewing requires magical talent, expensive components, and lots of time, but is invaluable for creating powerful magical effects in a storable, accessible form. Agnieszka's first brush with alchemy is a bottle of mist that leaves her Taken for Granite; the infamous Fire Heart potion takes a master wizard ten years to brew but is a Fantastic Nuke in a bottle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Batman (1966): Cassandra Spellcraft was an alchemist who created magical substances to use in her criminal pursuits.
  • Grimm: Most magic in the setting is simply about brewing up potions from Wesen body parts and/or fluids. The rest is psychic talent, biological mutation, or spirit-related.
  • Kamen Rider Gotchard: The entire premise of the show is alchemy being mystical in nature used by both heroes and villains alike.
  • Mahou Sentai Magiranger: All Magirangers have a specialty; for Kai/Magi Red, it's alchemy, as in transforming matter into other matter.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Long Live Walter Jameson", the title character became immortal after submitting to the experiments of an alchemist 2,000 years earlier.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Little People of Killany Woods", it is Magic by Any Other Name. The Little Green Men give Liam O'Shaughnessy triangular gold pieces to buy supplies with which they can repair their damaged ship. He tells O'Dell that the gold will not last in the hands of a sinner, which he passes along to Mike Mulvaney. The gold piece that Mulvaney later forces Liam to give him turns to lead soon afterwards.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Chronicles of Aeres: The Alchemist is a class unique to the setting which practices Geometric Magic, using special runic sigils to call upon one or more of the Three Essences (Mercury, Salt, Sulfur) to alter the fundamental magical essence that makes up something's physical makeup. This is regarded as a very challenging magical discipline, largely because physical matter is inherently resistant to being tinkered with in such a manner, which can result in explosive, toxic, or otherwise dangerous backlashes.
  • The Dark Eye: While one does not necessarily need to possess magical abilities to create a potion, having access to them allows the creation of more powerful varieties of regular potions and enables the alchemist to create certain potions one needs to cast a spell on.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In early editions, alchemy is used to create magical potions and other one-use items. Permanent magic items are made by wizards and priests using different techniques.
    • The 3.5 version of the D&D rules makes the Craft (Alchemy) skill exclusive to spell-casting classes. Some of the substances created with this Craft skill are plausible products of mundane chemistry, but others are definitely fantastical in nature.
    • Some settings, such as Eberron or Ravenloft, greatly expand on what alchemy is capable of, both in realistic and occult/supernatural forms.
    • Averted in the 4th edition. The Alchemist theme does not have the Arcane power source.
    • 5th Edition attempts to simplify the game, so there is no dedicated Alchemist class. The online Artificer class (which also has the Alchemist subclass) can use a list of spells but is flavored so that it does it using either technology or potions to replicate the effect (a Cure Wounds spell might be flavored as a healing potion, or, if the subject is unconscious, defibrillators).
  • Dungeons Of Drakkenheim features the apothecary class, who practices a mixture of medicine and alchemy and is capable of using it to achieve fantastical effects like curing (or inflicting) diseases, creating explosions and acid, healing wounds, exorcising spirits and reanimating the dead.
  • GURPS is generic enough to let you treat alchemy however you like, but that often means "magical". Settings such as that of GURPS Thaumatology: Alchemical Baroque and GURPS Thaumatology: Age of Gold make the point explicit.
  • Ironclaw: Subverted in The Book of Horn and Ivory. Malachism does not count alchemy as magic, allowing the Malachist Anatolian Empire to advance significantly in artillery and explosives while other factions use wizards for the same purpose. However, the 1st edition Jadeclaw module "Loot the Burning House" featured the discovery of ancient Zhonggese alchemy used to produce steam power with what amounted to magical nuclear piles.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Some settings include alchemy as a school of magic, such as with Lorwyn and Shadowmoor kithkin and the Innistrad skaaberen.
  • Midgard features the Alkemancer as a wizard spellcasting tradition that focuses on blending alchemical practices with wizardly spells to achieve more powerful effects than either alone can manage. Their primary focus is on the use of the "six fundamental essences" — brimstone, lead, quicksilver, quintessence, salt, and void salt — as material components to augment and empower their spells.
  • Pathfinder features alchemists as a base class in both editions.
    • In 1e, the flavor text tends to treat them as a combination of Mad Scientist, Mad Bomber, and Professor Guinea Pig and, indeed, most of their class features involve making magical bombs, using poisons, permanently modifying their own bodies to add things like extra limbs or tentacles, and drinking Psycho Serum. At 20th level, the class culminates in the alchemist making a "grand discovery", among which are the secrets of eternal youth (making alchemists one of only two classes able to become The Ageless without becoming undead — and the other one requires being a specific race) or the process by which one makes the Philosopher's Stone (which transforms large amounts of iron and lead into silver and gold and can be used to restore the dead to life). Notable is the fact that, although the rules text emphasizes that alchemist infusions are not spells, they otherwise are treated according to the same rules as magic, including being subject to magic resistance. Mixing extracts is outright described as utilizing latent, untapped magical potential of the Alchemist, and thus are subject to the same rules as arcane magic.
    • 2nd edition, however, separates alchemy from magic. Even if the effects of alchemical items can seem magical to us, in the 2nd edition it's achieved through natural effects that happen on Golarion. The rule makes point of alchemical items not having magical auras, and they cannot be dispelled or dismissed. This makes 2nd edition alchemy closer to Chemistry Can Do Anything, including, with right high-level talent, the ability to brew magical potions as nonmagical elixirs.
  • Res Arcana stars alchemical mages who can use essences to perform various feats, such as making artifacts or monuments, summoning creatures, dragons, or demons, transforming other essences into gold, and performing rituals at Places of Power.
  • Shadowrun. Alchemy is a branch of magic. In early editions, it was a specific type of Enchanting used to refine raw materials into alchemical radicals (which have uses in creating other magic items).
  • Talislanta: There's an alchemist PC class, and several nations in that setting hold the secrets of specific magical formulas of that craft.
  • Talisman: The standard use of alchemy is to turn objects into gold by casting an alchemy spell, using the alchemist follower, or visiting the alchemist in the City board space. The Alchemist player character expands on this with the ability to turn gold into potions, which can then be used to heal, gain fate tokens, or draw spell cards. (While nothing prevents the Alchemist PC from casting the alchemy spell and using the alchemist follower all while visiting the alchemist in the City, there is no added benefit for doing so outside of player amusement.)
  • Warhammer: The study of the magic of the Lore of Metal tends to go hand-in-hand with that of alchemy, and Gold Wizards' study of their magic tends to involve a great of alembics, crucibles and alchemical reagents, with their magic often being used as one more component of their quest for the universal solvent and the secret of true transmutation.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Mage: The Ascension includes alchemy as a method of doing magic, with its most notable practitioners being the Solificati/Children of Knowledge Craft.
    • Mage: The Awakening also makes use of alchemy as a sub-branch of Awakened magic. Any mage with a good knowledge of Matter can roll a spell into a salve/ointment for later use, and it's possible to perfect any one of the seven planetary metals.
    • Promethean: The Created takes a whole lot from alchemy, turning the story of Frankenstein's Monster into an attempt to create the perfect human that instead created a half-finished human powered by the fire of the universe. Prometheans have humors based on the classical elements, pursue Refinements based on the seven metals (as well as cobalt, bronze, and phosphorus), and can create Athanors to further refine the fire that powers them.
      • Second edition includes mortal alchemists as Promethean antagonists, seeking the fire that empowers Prometheans in order to pursue their alchemical workings and transform themselves into something more than human.
      • Second Sight gives us alchemy as a prospective science for thaumaturgists (read: humans who know magic but haven't Awakened). It comes in external and internal flavors and is primarily useful for extending one's lifespan.

    Video Games 
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent: Baron Alexander practices an extremely disturbing form of alchemy, subjecting people to horrible tortures to extract mystical vitae from their bodies, to extend his life and fuel a process to open a portal between the worlds.
  • Atelier Series: This trope is a staple of the franchise. Interestingly, however, it's treated more like a scientific pursuit in the "original series" of five games, as there are schools and structured study of alchemy throughout, and a significant part of Atelier Elie's alchemy system is experimenting to make entirely new items.
  • Avencast: Rise of the Mage has alchemy classes at the Wizarding School as well as a fetch quest to compose an alchemical potion.
  • Cataclysm introduced this in an official mod, added to the experimental builds. In it are several craftable magic items, and the easiest ones to make are potions referencing the Opus Magnum.
  • Cookie Clicker: The later buildings available for purchase include alchemy labs, where you can transmute all those Worthless Yellow Rocks into more cookies!
  • Darklands: There are no magical spells in the game not counting demons, or the Black Magic spells that High Witches can use, but characters can buy and trade alchemical recipes, obtain ingredients, and brew many, many potions. Alchemical potions can have many effects, from buffing allies to creating explosions, so an alchemist character is essentially a stand-in for the "wizard" archetype.
  • Dwarf Fortress has an Alchemy skill that was originally used for producing soap. There also used to be unintentional alchemy — turning everything from platinum to adamantine into iron goblets — but that is what we call a "bug".
  • The Elder Scrolls: Alchemy is a magically classed skill portrayed as a type of scientific magic; when you brew potions, you're distilling the ingredients (using a mortar and pestle, retort, etc). However you appear to be extracting the "magic" from them rather than more mundane chemical compounds (some of the in-universe literature even uses this to justify the Health Food trope; chewing certain foods releases their basic properties, but not as well as properly mixing them would).
  • Etrian Odyssey: Alchemists are the game's Black Mages. They use the primary Fire, Ice, Lightning elements to cast powerful magic spells to attack enemies and bosses. They can also inflict poison onto said opponents, which periodically depletes their HP until the effect expires. The Alchemists reappear in Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard and both games' enhanced remakes, but later installments replace them with other classes that have equivalent or analogous attributes.
  • Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark: The Alchemystic class is described as “blending science and mysticism” on the class change screen, and they use Soul Magic to give their allies various status buffs.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy V: The Chemist job class can learn the "Mix" ability that gives spell-like abilities to combinations of certain components.
    • Final Fantasy X: Rikku can use various natural components stolen from fiends to cast equivalent spells (e.g. using an Antarctic Wind is the equivalent of Blizzara), and her Mix overdrive is an even bigger example. Basically, Component + Component = Big Spell (effects vary depending on the Components).
    • Final Fantasy X-2: There's literal Alchemist class which uses Rikku's Mix as basis and again can be used to mix items to cast equivalent of spells. Furthermore it has some skills that amplify the damage from straight use of items that cast elemental spells.
  • Forget Me Not: My Organic Garden: Alchemy is how the organ trees work, and the Mincemeat is called by the Witch as "magical".
  • Genshin Impact: The traveler's voice lines suggest that alchemy is very common in Teyvat, and magic-like powers manifests in Visions, elemental gifts from the Archons. There are two playable alchemists: Albedo and Sucrose. They're specifically bio-alchemists that modify life (Sucrose) or create them (Albedo). Sucrose use her experiments in battle, causing wind-related effects, and regularly modifies plants such as Sweet Flowers. Albedo, as demonstrated in the trailer, can turn a creature into another creature. He also knows how to make the Philosopher's Stone.
  • Gems of War: The city of Adana is home to a lot of alchemists, some of whom fight you; their special ability, appropriately, transmutes one colour of puzzle gem into another and generates gold.
  • Golden Sun, where Alchemy is the force responsible for people possessing Elemental Powers, and which the world requires in order to not wither away into nothing.
  • Hadean Lands uses the 'alchemy as magical science' version, where magical effects can be obtained through careful use of alchemy. The game's setting is, effectively, an alchemical spaceship.
  • Haunting Ground gives us alchemists in search of Azoth which should grant them immortality. Golems and homunculus also exist around the castle.
  • Kamidori Alchemy Meister: "Alchemy" seems to be a catch-all term for local technology. Most of the known results qualify as magical items.
  • Kritika: The only reason most people are able to use magic to begin with is that an alchemist invented an item called the Mana Cell that allows Muggles to utilize magic.
  • The Longest Journey: The abilities of alchemists in Arcadia are magical in nature, but are of lower class than that of mages. However, mages are born while any human can become an alchemist through learning. The alchemist April meets and combats in the game, Roper Klacks, threatens Marcuria by rerouting the winds, thus preventing ships from coming and going. The army sent to stop him was wiped out by one of his spells. He lives in an Ominous Floating Castle anchored with a huge chain. April manages to defeat him with a math contest (she cheats by using a calculator which, for some reason, still works in Arcadia). When the angry alchemist tries to attack April with a spell, he is sucked into the calculator. In the sequel, April meets Klacks ten years later. He explains that he was trapped in the calculator for several years until he managed to escape by first learning advanced calculus. He had an epiphany and decided to change his ways, becoming a salesman of magical items, especially after the Azadi Empire outlaws all magic.
  • Lost Pig: The mysterious place underground turns out to be the former home of a famous gnome alchemist. Some of his potions and other inventions are still lying around and are necessary to finish the game.
  • MapleStory: Zigzagged. Alchemy is a profession that a character (not just a magic-using character) uses to make buffing and healing potions, but also growth potions and transformation potions, which certainly seem magical. The quest line in the town of Magatia suggests it's related to magic at least; a logbook left by the alchemist claims he could not prolong his lifespan (his stated goal) using alchemy alone, and the reason the famed Alcaster could was because he was a wizard and an alchemist.
  • Melty Blood: Sion is a "mental" alchemist. While she does comment on how traditional alchemy is derived from seeking higher and higher levels of the physical (lead into gold, the body into the body eternal), her branch of alchemy seeks higher and higher brain capacity.
  • Might and Magic: Alchemy can be used to create a variety of magical potions (including giving specific permanent magical enchantments to nonmagical items of high enough quality). This, presumably, is why the Might Hero for the Tower faction in Heroes III was the Alchemist.
  • Nexus Clash: Potions are made through an alchemy minigame that can be played and replayed to make your character more effective and efficient at it. Potions are phenomenally useful and having a good alchemist is essential to many a well-run faction.
  • Odin Sphere uses it for potion brewing, with effects ranging from healing draughts to napalm.
  • Opus Magnum, a game about "Alchemical Engineering", very firmly defies this. Alchemy is a hard science of transmuting materials from molecules of the four elements, metals, salt, and so on. All of the items you're tasked to make are mundane, like sealants for ship hulls, spools of thread, rocket propellants, and tonics for common ailments.
    Concordia: "I always thought alchemists liked to work in dark caves, illuminated by torchlight, or high atop a lone tower in some isolated place..."
    Anataeus: "Hold on, are you thinking of wizards? Please tell me you're joking. Alchemy is a science. Wizards aren't even real! How could you compare them at all?"
  • In Potion Permit, the Chemist makes potions out of magical ingredients gathered from Moonbury Island to cure their patients.
  • Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Discussed. Labyrinthia's rigid definition of magic excludes alchemy, but the distinction is lost on most of the townspeople. They respected the local alchemist Sir Belduke during his lifetime, but never completely trusted him.
  • Ragnarok Online has Alchemists who can create health and mana potions, make themselves a homunculus, plants in a bottle, and throw Molotov cocktails or acid (or both) at people. Ever more when upgraded to Geneticist.
  • Remnant II: The Alchemist archetype is focused on getting the most out of consumables, while all of its skills involve using concoctions in vials to enhance your team. It's implied that these are created using the class' engram, a Philosopher's Stone. Notably, the class treats the trope as a case of Fantastic Science in contrast with the other unlockable archetype from Losomn, the Ritualist, which is more openly magical and more focused around debuffing foes.
  • Secret of Evermore builds on standard RPG-magic by requiring certain ingredients before the player can cast certain spells. Ingredients are obtained through purchase, finding as treasure, or examining certain areas of the world map (sidekick dog points these out frequently). The required ingredients usually make sense for the spell, such as Brimstone and Ash for a Fire spell, or Limestone and Wax for a Crushing spell. Others make less sense, such as Oil and Water for a Healing spell.
  • Shadow of Destiny's plot involves quite a bit of Alchemy in it. More specifically, the use of the Philosopher's Stone in the creation of the Elixir of Youth and a Homunculus.
  • The Sims 3: In the Supernatural expansion, the Alchemy skill is basically a potion-making skill, used to brew elixirs from plants, gem powders, and other such things. Also, there exists a Philosopher's Stone which can be used to transmute small items into gold bars.
  • Soul Series: Ivy Valentine practices alchemy, and this shows up in some of her most powerful moves (like her Critical Finish in IV) in ways that resemble outright sorcery, conjuring up fiery portals to incinerate her enemies.
  • Three the Hard Way: Alchemy works like a special branch of magic. Alchemical products are referred as "spells", and it functions just like standard offensive spells when used in battle.
  • We Know the Devil features radios that are attuned to prayers and God (and that can also be used to channel elemental powers), charms that serve as house locks, and alchemical/planetary symbols for each of the main characters.
  • Warcraft:
    • Warcraft III: The Goblin Alchemist is something of a misnomer: yes, he is a goblin who makes alchemical potions... riding around on an ogre, one of his potions being a combat drug. His other spells are a Hollywood Acid bomb, an area healing spell, and insta-killing an enemy by turning it into a gold statue of itself, getting you money for it.
    • World of Warcraft: Alchemy is a profession, although its primary use is in producing restorative and buff potions. At higher levels, you can transmute gems into more valuable gems and metals into more valuable metals — including, yes, iron into gold. Most of these transmutations may only be performed daily, and, yes, they demand an (also alchemist-made) Philosopher's Stone to perform. Considering the limited applications, iron is generally more valuable than gold anyway. And if sold to an NPC, a bar of gold is only worth 10 silver coins.
  • Wild ARMs: Alchemy is a powerful and little-understood branch of Magitek, used to create magical nanomachines, and, using them, "living metal" creations such as golems, Artificial Humans, and the eponymous ARMs. Its distinction from mere "industrial sorcery" is never made clear, but seems to relate to creating self-sustaining systems.
  • Wizardry: Alchemy is one of four schools of magic along with Wizardry, Divinity, and Psionics.
  • Xenosaga references the four stages of the Magnum Opus with the characters Nigredo, Albedo, Citrine (Citrinitas), and Rubedo.
  • Zork Nemesis: You encounter the disembodied spirits of four alchemists. They ask for your help to defeat their killer, Nemesis, who also murdered Alexandria, the daughter of one of the alchemists. The alchemists killed Alexandria. She had been conceived and raised to be the key to eternal life. Nemesis was her boyfriend, who stopped the alchemists in the middle of the ritual. He kept their souls alive and tortured them to find out how to resurrect Alexandria.

  • Bethellium: The main character, Zoana, is an alchemist. She brews potions in a ritual involving multiple magic circles and rare ingredients such as giant beetle adrenal fluid. Some of the potions also drain her own life energy.
  • Gifts of Wandering Ice: All tech of forgotten human civilization is marked by alchemical symbol of eternal life.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court is heavy on the alchemical symbolism — the symbols for antimony, bismuth, and lead, among others, make appearances.
  • Homestuck: The game Sburb has... punch-card based alchemy. Granted, it's an immersive video game in a world where computer programming can affect the real world, and it doesn't really involve either gold or lead — but the way this works is that each object is assigned a 48-bit code and doing bitwise operations on these codes (and using the weird machines to manufacture the result) will create an object that has the characteristics of both original codes. Of course, it costs "build grist" and other types of "grist" to make these things, too, and some objects have codes only readable by a special machine and most combinations are going to produce junk or curiosities at best, but it has been put to use for making better weapons for the kids.
  • True Villains: Alchemy can produce potent supernatural effects, ranging from a Fantastic Nuke distilled from a rare flower to a potion that turns the drinker into mist. It also cooks up some memorable recreational drugs.
  • TwoKinds: Sealeen has a form of alchemy. Since she has little magic skill, she can bottle spells as potions that she throws during battle to activate, so that spells that would otherwise take her hours to gather enough energy for can be used at a moment's notice.
  • Yokoka's Quest: Pinky utilizes "weapon alchemy", a Metals elemental skill, to create a "Rose Whip" weapon for Mao using a king centipede's fangs. Pinky and his apprentice Inky are shown doing this in a wallpaper.

    Web Original 
  • The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids: Master Mandragora has all the trappings of a wizard, and is able to use alchemy to achieve such things as to bring half-dead monsters back to life, although his alchemy still seems fundamentally rooted in real-life alchemy, specifically in the associations of various concepts with specific metals. (Being a robot, he ought to know.)
  • Emily H The Viking Princess: The new villains at the end of the story, Samuel and Eric, are said to practice a form of alchemy that's capable of mind-control and teleportation.
  • Impractical Magic: Each court at the Magic School has its own magic system. The Summer court includes potion-making. In "Cal 3", one of the students asks a professor about the partially filled glass bottle they didn't teach about in her lesson. She answers that it's alcohol.
    "What, this?" Professor Mach lifted the bottle. "It's perhaps my favorite potion, known for both causing and relieving headaches." She uncorked it and took a swig. "It is commonly known as brandy, child." She set the bottle down. "Dismissed."
  • Nullmetal Alchemist: A Running Gag is between Ed and Al fighting over whether they do alchemy or magic. Ed refers to himself as a magician whereas Al explains (in detail) why they do alchemy, Ed dismisses his arguments as "bollocks". It makes sense later when Ed's mother's dying words was telling him that referring to it as alchemy makes him sound pretentious, so ever since then, he's called it magic.
  • Suburban Knights: Averted. Alchemy is treated as a stand-in precursor for science and is opposed to magic. The one example of alchemy, Ma-Ti's "Heart" ring, acts as an Anti-Magic weapon and otherwise seems to have no other powers.
  • Void Domain: Alchemical potions can produce a broad variety of effects, but function by reacting with their users' innate magic; for Muggles, they're ineffective at best and toxic at worst.
  • We Are Our Avatars: Marcia Shyneet is an alchemist and some of her potions have magical effects. In fact, She invented a potion that shrinks people after seeing Alice Lidell shrink during a fight. Also, her world places Alchemists under the Spellcaster caste.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Zecora and Mage Meadowbrook are a zebra and an earth pony, and so don't have any of the direct magical abilities that unicorns do. However, they are both very skilled at creating magic potions and brews, as well as medicines, solvents and similar substances, enough so for Meadowbrook to be considered a famous mage.
  • Peanuts: In It's Magic, Charlie Brown, the book of magic that Snoopy finds (at the public library, no less) has a chapter on alchemy, and he wears a wizard's outfit while studying it... but only manages to blow up his lab doing so.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has the Planispheric Disk, created by alchemy, with all sorts of magical properties, especially useful for cursed treasure finding.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, the monkey team's creator, Skeleton King's original human identity was known as the Alchemist, an adept scientist and sorcerer. Using his knowledge, he converted his pet monkeys into cyborg warriors to combat the monster he was turning into.
  • Tangled: The Series introduces the character Varian, originally described as 'some kind of wizard.' When asked about magic, he asserts that he works with alchemy, not magic, and proceeds to highlight this distinction for the rest of the episode.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Alchemical Magic


Jumping on a Cauldron

"Glare". Oliver rushes around the alchemy class helping his classmates fix their mishaps. This culminates in Pete's potion nearly exploding because of a mistake in dilution: Oliver flips the cauldron upside-down and dives on top of it to keep anyone from getting injured, and is congratulated for his saves by Professor Darius Grenville.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / JumpingOnAGrenade

Media sources: