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Magic Antidote

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In Fiction land, antidotes, vaccines and Healing Herbs work almost instantly. The fever goes down, color returns to their skin and drains from their veins, heartbeat and "life signs" stabilize, the characters open their eyes, etc. Furthermore, to build dramatic tension, the poisoned character is usually given a very precise deadline to take the antidote, and only manages to get the antidote right before death.

This isn't how it works in Real Life, as the damage the poison does still needs to be healed. It has ontological inertia. The time it take for poisons to kill tends to be quite variable, and usually, the time at which the body has sustained so much damage that death is inevitable, even with an antidote, comes much earlier than death itself.

Also, shows are a tad liberal with the word "vaccine". A vaccine is a means of teaching your immune system how to attack a particular disease-causing agent. They contain pieces of the bacteria or viruses or an inactivated version of it, and so are unable to cause the disease; but since they "look" the same to the immune system, it learns what they are like and prepares the tools to fight them. If the real thing ever comes along, the response will be fast and strong, and it will squelch the disease before it ever gets started. Vaccines only work against something caused by a pathogen, like a virus, and won't work against diseases which are due to genetic defects, bad diet, and so on. Most of the time, it's a preventative measure, but there are a few vaccines that can be taken after infection (since the diseases in question stay dormant long enough for the body to develop a defense).

Long story short, a vaccine wouldn't be very effective once a character's symptoms develop, let alone in the 11th hour right before said character is about to die from the disease as this trope describes.

Antidotes are even worse. Fictional antidotes are benevolent drugs that exactly reverse the effects of a poison. They may even visibly reverse their ravages, such as Tainted Veins. In Real Life, the antidote to a poison is often something that is poisonous in the opposite way, because the two more-or-less balance each other out. Organophosphates - used in everything from agricultural pesticides to bugspray - are the most common cause of poisoning in the modern era; organophosphate poisoning is treated with atropine, which is the substance that makes deadly nightshade (among other plants) deadly, and which has been used as a poison in its own right.

Sometimes, writers will try to excuse this by suggesting that the recently cured hero's drive and inner strength is enough to restore them temporarily, but, we are assured, they're going to have to spend some time in the hospital right after the end credits roll. The very real prospect of liver or other internal organ damage is rarely even hinted at.

If worst comes to worst, Hand Wave it with The Power of Love.

If the source of the antidote is something strange, rare, or extremely unlikely, that's an Improbable Antidote. Compare to Panacea (which cures everything), and Instant Sedation (when a person is knocked unconscious instantaneously). See also CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable. This is sometimes key to surviving the Self-Poisoning Gambit.

Almost always the finale of Find the Cure! episodes. See also Saved by the Phlebotinum.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: Almost all of Kusuri's drugs can be negated with a common neutralizer. The most notable exceptions are her prototype immortality drug (where the effect is only temporary), her de-aging and body shrinking drugs (which would kill the user if consumed too early or at all), her father's bodybuilding drugs (which are actually strengthened by the neutralizer), and the version of the immortality drug used on her grandmother (which can't be negated at all).
  • Averted in Dragon Ball Z, where Goku takes the antidote to his disease almost immediately after exhibiting symptoms and still spends several episodes in bed.
  • Averted in Goblin Slayer were Wizard had to be Mercy Killed because it was too late for an antidote.
  • In Naruto, Sakura creates an antidote to Sasori's poison that both cures someone after they've been poisoned, and remains in the body for three minutes after being dosed, leaving the imbiber immune to the poison for that duration. However, it doesn't repair damage already done by the poison.
  • Ranma ½
    • The Phoenix Pill: meant to counteract the effects of the Full-Body Cat's Tongue (an acupuncture technique that makes the victim unable to tolerate even the slightest amount of heat,) this pill can make the user impervious to heat, or at least restore his tolerance to ordinary levels. Given that Ranma nonchalantly dropped into a lake of boiling water while swallowing it, it's assumed it works instantaneously.
    • Ditto the mysterious, powdered medicine that the perpetually ill Densuke took. Despite his unspecified, yet presumably lethal lifelong illness, all it took was one dose of the powder for him to wake up the next morning in full health.
    • The antidote for the Super Soba powerup also works instantly: after spending at least a whole day enjoying super-strength (and, in the last few minutes, a cute set of cat-like whiskers), Akane swallowed the tiny fruit and instantly returned to normal, facial hair included.
  • Scrapped Princess has Pacifica being poisoned, and her companions having to seek a cure. They first have to seek a doctor to tell them about the cure, most of the deadline is used up, yet this is only episode 5 so Raquel is able to return from the ancient ruins with the herbs that can cure her.
  • Played ludicrously straight in the Sengoku Basara anime: Kojuro is facing the resident Magnificent Bastard Matsunaga Hisahide and gets poisoned twice (first with a low level poison, then with a poison that makes the former deadly), and is seriously weakened. Then Sasuke passes by and gives him the antidote in form of a gas. Two deep breaths later Kojuro (who was enfeebled just a while ago) proceeds to send Matsunaga flying in a single Sword Beam.
  • Zigzagged in Bloody Monday. A certain virus takes 2 to 3 hours from infection to show symptoms, but once there are symptoms the infected person is a goner. There's an antiviral that supposedly stops the infection, but it doesn't work in all cases. However, Anko gets infected and she gets the antiviral only five minutes before the 3-hour mark and she turns out to be okay, but this doesn't mean anything because Anko was the leader of the terrorists and she had been vaccinated against it all along.
  • The experimental serum in School-Live! acts as this, though there are enough implications that it has to be given within a very short time frame from the point the victim was infected, or else it won't make any difference. However, once it does get applied, the recovery time takes about as long as a good night's rest. However, this is subverted in later chapters, because while Kurumi appears to be fine at first, she later starts showing more zombie-like symptons to the point that the actual zombies think she's one of them and ignore her. It's implied that she'll have to start taking the experimental serum weekly or else she'll still turn, but there's only a handful of serum samples left.
  • Averted in Black Clover when Asta has to deal with an opponent who goes around poisoning civilians. As this poison was conjured by magic, Asta can use his Anti-Magic to remove the poison from the victims, but he is unable to undo the damage the poison has already done to their bodies. That is, at least, until he gains a last-minute upgrade to his magic-canceling powers that allows him to revert magic-induced damage too.
  • Played straight in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure when Giorno infects himself with Fugo's virus. In the 30 seconds between infection and death, Giorno manages to defeat the bad guy, use his Animate Inanimate Object powers to create an antidote through a convoluted process, and administer the antidote to himself, allowing the symptoms to cease after a few seconds, though Giorno is left writhing on the ground in agony while it takes effect. Fugo is thoroughly impressed watching the whole thing happen. Possibly justified in that the virus is supernatural and doesn't necessarily operate by normal rules of physics.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, The demon doctor Tamayo is able to create a medicine that can instantly revert a demon back into human again. It was confirmed to work because a young man who got turned into a demon by the villain Muzan in the early chapters was given the medicine and returned back to his human form. By researching Nezuko's blood with the blood of the Lower and Upper Moons collected from Tanjiro, she was able to create the medicine to do so. Nezuko had taken the medicine to become human again and is currently in a comatose state. Meanwhile, Tamayo herself attempted to use the medicine on Muzan himself to turn him back into human to defeat him.

    Comic Books 
  • In Doctor Strange: The Oath, one drop of a literally-magic antidote saves Strange's associate Wong from dying of a brain tumor, even though he was so far gone to have fallen unconscious with no pulse and had been kept sort-of-alive by CPR for several minutes.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Draco Trilogy, Draco is about three seconds from death when his saviour runs into the room, tips some antidote down his throat, and promptly collapses into a coma herself. When she wakes up a few hours later, he's fine.
  • Subverted in the Harry Potter fic Blood Quill Consequences, when Voldemort found out Snape was a spy and poisoned him via his Dark Mark. Even after being given the antidote and having the Mark removed it took him two days to wake up, at which point Madame Pomfrey pronounced that he'd need another two weeks of recovery time followed by two weeks of taking it easy.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: GC-161 antidote works pretty much immediately on contact — so long as it's administered soon enough after exposure. Otherwise, it wears off in a few weeks. After a year or two of GC-161 powers, the antidote won't work at all.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Barbie: Mariposa, the poisoned Queen Marabella is seconds from death when she smells the antidote. It suffices to make her recover completely.
  • The Emperor's New Groove: Except for the (admittedly, diluted) potion that turns Kuzco into a llama at the beginning of the film, all of Yzma's transformation potions work immediately.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Outbreak, one of the CDC doctors contracts the disease (a hemorrhagic fever with a near-100% fatality rate), and is hanging on by a thread when she's given the antiserum. Barely a day later, the splotches on her skin have disappeared, and she's looking tired but otherwise perfectly fine. FYI, hemorrhagic fever causes massive internal bleeding and organ damage. Much of this damage should be permanent even if the disease was arrested, and certainly would not be healed in a single day.
  • Star Trek: First Contact uses the scientifically laughable idea of an inoculation against radiation. These are commonly used in the Trekverse, and are often handwaved as temporarily strengthening the cellular membranes limiting radiation's ability to penetrate and damage them (think internal radiation shielding). An acute overdose or prolonged exposure is still a bad thing, but then they'll just pull out one of their other hyposprays that will instantly reverse the damage the radiation has done.
  • Iron Man 2. Tony Stark is dying of palladium poisoning from the Arc Reactor that powers his heart. Yet when he invents a new arc reactor that doesn't use palladium and plugs it into his chest, the visible symptoms recede immediately. He also received an injection developed by SHIELD specifically for his case, which temporarily reverses the toxic effects, his Tainted Veins receding within seconds.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy is double-crossed and poisoned by Lao Che, so the former would return a diamond to the latter in exchange for the antidote. Chaos ensues, and all the while Indiana becomes progressively dizzier, hotter, and has difficulty breathing. When he swallows the antidote, all these symptoms disappear almost immediately.
  • Batman Begins: The antidote to the fear poison took mere seconds to not only undo its effects, but also conferred resistance for days. This might be a bit justified, as some drugs which counteract psychoactive substances have a very quick onset.
  • Downplayed in the John Wick series. In John Wick, John is given pills that are supposed to help him remain functional and not feel the pain and discomfort of a severe stab wound to his abdomen. In Chapter 3, John takes pills that are supposed to numb the pain from, yet another, stab wound while simultaneously giving him an energy boost.
  • At the climax of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Alice smashes the phial of antivirus that will destroy the T-Virus and the horde of zombies charging towards her all fall down on the spot. However the antivirus will take years to disperse across the world, so there's an And the Adventure Continues ending.

  • In the Lone Wolf series, Oede Herb is the rarest and most expensive medicinal plant on the whole Magnamund. But it can cure many diseases and poisons, and its effects are nearly instantaneous. In Book 5, Shadow on the Sand, the hero recovers the usage of an arm paralyzed by infectious bacteria in mere seconds. How rare is it? There are only three doses of Oede in the entire series. And you can only get the one in Book 5 if your arm gets infected.

  • Star Wars Legends
    • Bacta, while not an antidote, is a heal-all, cure-all – it's said that if there's any life in someone, bacta will help. Naturally, this makes it very valuable. There are still things it can't fix, usually for plot-related reasons, and it doesn't heal things instantly. It can't fix missing limbs or organs, for example, so prosthetics crop up a lot. Ton Phanan is allergic to bacta, and so he keeps needing prosthetic replacements for more and more of his body.
    • Prior to bacta, everyone used kolto, a substance collected only on one planet – the water world of Manaan. That is why Manaan was able to remain neutral during the Jedi Civil War – both sides needed kolto to heal its wounded troops, although both sides also knew that their neutrality was shaky, at best. Realizing this, the Selkath (Manaan natives) officials were secretly working with the Republic on increasing their supply. Eventually, bacta replaced kolto entirely.
    • In Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead, Doctor Evazam developed a formula to raise the dead, including himself. DV-9 worked out a counterformula to use on these zombies – any zombie to be touched by even a drop of it instantly reverted into a non-animated corpse.
      • The Planet Plague has a cure for The Virus if it hasn't spread too far, and while it's not instant – the sufferer has to sleep some and sweat it out – it doesn't take long at all. Earlier in the book Zak's bad case of the flu would have taken days to clear up with bedrest and other medications, but just hours if those are supplemented with a bacta tank.
    • The cure-all nature of bacta is actually exploited by the villains in the X-Wing Series. Imperial forces create a Synthetic Plague, Krytos, which only infected non-human species and caused horrific deaths, but could be cured with bacta. This was an intentional property of the plague, as it meant that all of the New Republic's supplies of bacta were used to fight Krytos, causing massive shortages everywhere else and straining production, and inflaming tensions between humans and aliens. The good guys eventually solved the problem by creating a non-Magic Antidote, rycla; while it only works on Krytos, and bacta is still more effective, rycla is exponentially cheaper to produce and is much more plentiful than bacta.
  • The Martian curative arts in Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars.
    Bleeding and weak I reached my women, who, accustomed to such happenings, dressed my wounds, applying the wonderful healing and remedial agents which make only the most instantaneous of death blows fatal. Give a Martian woman a chance and death must take a back seat. They soon had me patched up so that, except for weakness from loss of blood and a little soreness around the wound, I suffered no great distress from this thrust which, under earthly treatment, undoubtedly would have put me flat on my back for days.
  • The Belgariad: Downplayed. In The Belgariad, Garion creates a rather puny, lop-sided little flower to show Adara how magic works. Although Polgara investigates it at the time, she finds nothing special, and it's left to go its own way, spreading across the landscape as an unimpressive new species called Adara's Rose. In The Malloreon, Zakath is poisoned with thalot, which has no antidote and destroys every cell of the body. With Cyradis' help, they realise that Adara's Rose is actually a universal cure, but it has to be inhaled to work, something Polgara overlooked. Using some seeds she still has left over, Belgarath is able to transform Zakath's bedroom into a forest of blooming vines. Although he instantly begins improving so that he will no longer die, it does take him several days to fully recover. However, it cures him so perfectly he's not even left with any of the neurological damage that was causing severe seizures.
  • In Time Scout:
    • Lots of Snake Oil Salesmen sell these on Shangri La. Skeeter starts such a scam but gets interrupted. Skeeter's scheme was based on a sacred pool believed to have such properties near Marcus's childhood home.
    • Ianira may just make the real thing via her psychic powers.
  • A spoonful of an orally-taken cure for the Sickenesse in Septimus Heap takes only a minute to awake a person suffering from it.
  • In Harry Potter, bezoars are special magical stones found in the stomachs of goats that can neutralize almost any poison if swallowed quickly enough. When Harry was asked by his Potions Instructor Horace Slughorn to identify an antidote for a certain poison, Harry was at a loss until he looked at his hand-me-down Potions textbook which was full of hand-written tips from its previous owner the Half-blood Prince aka Severus Snape. The Prince wrote "Just shove a bezoar down its throat". Slughorn was amused when Harry showed him a bezoar instead of naming the specific antidote for the poison. Harry later uses that same bezoar to save Ron's life after Ron drinks some poisoned nectar. However despite being literal Magic Antidote it works realistically. When Ron is poisoned and gets the antidote he's still very weak and has to spend some time in hospital wing.
  • Subverted in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, where Straff's former mistress has a cure-all potion she uses to save him from the frequent poisoning attempts by his son Zane. Except that Zane never poisoned him at all. The "cure" she mixes contains the drug she's secretly addicted him too, and he mistakes the feelings of withdrawal for poisoning.
  • Averted in The Hunger Games trilogy. Snow once had to drink poison to kill a potential rival. While he was quickly able to get the antidote, he still has permanent mouth sores that cause him to constantly smell like blood. He has to wear genetically-modified roses to cover it up.
  • Star Trek:
    • Averted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel "Foreign Foes" when the crew of the USS Enterprise and a Federation team find the grain on the planet Velex has healing properties. It turns out the grain is composed of tiny robots that can improve the health of individuals who consume the grain. However, it is soon discovered that the grain could be deadly to individuals with artificial implants or cause serious health issues at the minimum. The Hidran ambassador who ate some of the bread died when the grain caused his body to reject the breathing apparatus he required, and the grain caused Geordi LaForge's body to reject his visual implants. The grain even caused a severe programming malfunction in Data when he ate some of the grain in order to analyze it further. Later it was found that the grain was taxing to an individual's immune system if consumed over a long period so it never was a miracle cure.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Handwaved in Andromeda by saying it was his unique physiology that made the cure work so fast. Reasonable enough because, the same physiology also made the disease work faster than usual.
  • In Arrow, Oliver has a herbal concoction he acquired on the island that seems able to cure any kind of poison, including curare.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Receiving an infusion of blood from a half-Cylon fetus spontaneously caused President Roslin's cancer to go in remission, at a point where she was hours away from death. Though the cancer does come back a year and a half later.
    • Averted during the Kobol arc, one of Tyrol's men is wounded and his lungs are slowly filling with fluid. They used the last of the medication to treat this in one of their medkits, and they left the other medkit by the Raptor crash site in their haste to evacuate the area. Tyrol, Cally and a Red Shirt have to go back for the medkit before the wounded man dies. After losing the Red Shirt they finally get back to the wounded man with the medkit – except now it's too late. Even though the man is still alive and conscious, there's nothing they can do with any of the material in either of their medkits now, except to grant the wounded man a peaceful death.
  • Batwoman (2019): Alice obtains a highly experimental (and possibly literally magical) antidote that can cure any poison. This is important because she also has a poison that was developed as a weapon and the company never bothered making a specific antidote for. Then she doses the creator of the poison and her daughter and provides them one dose of the antidote.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel is approaching his final moments due to a nasty poison, yet he was still able to pick up an unconscious Buffy and carry her to a hospital immediately after getting the antidote. He's already dead, so it's not clear what kind of damage the poison was doing in the first place. It's explicitly a magical poison, and the antidote, a Slayer's blood, doesn't cure him so much as magically eradicate it.
  • Possibly subverted (but then again, maybe not) in an episode of The Burning Zone: an infected airplane pilot is given the cure to an Ebola-like virus, but dies anyway because the damage to his organs was already too severe. On the other hand, upon receiving the cure, he instantly regained enough strength and clarity to land the airplane, destroyed organs and all.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Christmas Invasion": One minute the Doctor's sick enough to only have one heartbeat, and the next he's sword-fighting the leader of an alien invasion force. The fact that the cure is apparently tea is just the icing on the weirdness cake.
      • Are you saying tea isn't supposed to be a Magic Antidote?! At any rate, maybe he'd just finally got enough rest. As for the antibiotic in "New Earth"... apparently the slightest exposure to antibiotic turns staggering sacks of disease into peaky but fairly healthy people in an instant. That's Who soft science for you.
      • Tea also provided the fix for Craig's encounter with the "rot" in "The Lodger". From what sense can be made of the Doctor's mutterings, the (very strong) tea enhanced some natural process that was fighting the infection, and if Craig had touched the mold more than the tiniest amount, he'd be done for.
      • It's a British show. Of course tea is the magic antidote. There's a large chunk of the British population who would argue that this is true in Real Life.
    • Doctor Who has been using this trope all the way back since its first season with "The Sensorites".
  • House is regularly guilty of this one (though they've been known to subvert it as well). Patients frequently make full and speedy recoveries once the cause is found, despite suffering what should have been irreparable damage to their bodies in the meantime.
    • The most bizarre example is probably season two's "Euphoria". How on earth can Foreman recover with no lasting symptoms after having been infected with a parasite that eats his brain cells? The only side-effects he suffers come from the "lobotomy" Cameron gave him.
  • MacGyver: Though we're told he still needs to see a doctor, Mac seems fully restored within seconds of taking the cure for tetrodotoxin poisoning.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Glyphic", Cassie Boussard is able to revive her brother Louis from his 12 year coma after being infused with energy from the alien probe and giving him a special liquid.
  • Shadow and Bone: The Crows are dying of poison gas. Wylan figures out that the butterflies pollinating the floral source contain an antidote and manages to get it to the group. As soon as they swallow the butterflies they are up and about, though a little out of breath.
  • Averted in Stargate SG-1. O'Neill's rapid aging takes weeks of off-screen time to reverse.
  • Star Trek: Federation medicine is generally pretty swift.
    • Just to name one example, in "The Deadly Years" we see the effects of a disease that causes accelerated aging reverse before our eyes in response to a shot of adrenaline.
    • The mysterious disease in "Miri" causes unsightly blue scabs, which vanish without a trace after administration of a vaccine.
  • The '66 Batman, naturally, packed "Universal Bat-Antidote" pills in his utility belt whenever the plot called for it. Batgirl, despite having none of his resources, seemed to have it too - in one episode they even serve as a Magical Defibrillator after the Dynamic Duo got hit by the Joker's Electric Joybuzzer.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Usually subverted in Dungeons & Dragons. Curing poison or a disease will stop things getting worse, but damaged attributes need to be restored separately. Natural healing is fairly slow and can be accelerated with expert care and bed rest – and some particularly nasty kinds of damage (generally from supernatural sources) can never be naturally healed, requiring magical intervention to repair. This depends on the edition, however. In older ones, poison tended to outright kill fairly quickly – sometimes even downright instantly – rather than merely deal hit point or ability damage, and so antidotes, including literally magical ones like the Neutralize Poison spell, might have to actually be applied within a short period during which the victim was already technically dead (just of course not too dead yet) in order to revive them. After which they might or might not be any worse for the wear.
  • Antitox from D20 Future. It is an hypodermic analyzing the bloodstream, detecting the poison used, and formulating a special treatment from stored chemicals, curing the poison and its damage in 1D6 rounds.
  • Cleanse in Hc Svnt Dracones will neutralize poison in one's system and inoculate them for one hour, but doesn't reverse hit point damage. And you can only take it twice a week.

    Video Games 
  • Subverted in Suikoden V. The Hero's Rune has the power to keep Lyon from dying when she gets stabbed and poisoned, but she still has to spend a long time in bed recovering from the damage.
  • In Treasure of the Rudra, Foxy is put into the "Eternal Slumber" by one of the bosses, and a special herb is needed to save her.
  • In Batman: Arkham Origins, Copperhead poisons Batman with a supposedly very deadly neuro-toxin, which causes Bats to hallucinate and will supposedly kill him in ten minutes. There is still enough time to have the poison analyzed and a cure synthesized and delivered. Once the cure is taken the hallucinations immediately end and Batman shows no sign of being weakened by the poisoning.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy IV, when Palom and Porom turn themselves to stone, normal curative magic doesn't solve it, supposedly because they chose to become stone themselves. The elder of their village somehow restores them anyway.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, a Soft (whatever that is) can instantly cure a character that has been turned to stone, except if you've been turned to stone by the Evil Forest, in which case you need to spend a quarter of a disc searching for a Supersoft. Likewise, the Virus status effect is cured with a Vaccine.
    • Final Fantasy XII has the Disease status effect, which prevents characters from recovering HP while also reducing their max HP as they get damaged. Nothing a Vaccine can't fix! The Zodiac re-release version renames the Vaccine to "Serum", making it a bit more technically correct.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, ailments can last an inconveniently long time, but the anti-anti-antidote un-un-unpoisons you in a jiffy!
  • Subverted in Dawn of War II. The mighty Space Marine Captain Davian Thule is poisoned by the Tyrannids and you must develop an antidote. The antidote stops further damage and keeps Thule from dying, but the organ damage done already is so extensive that he must be put in a Dreadnought sarcophagus to survive.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Subverted in the first game when playing as Jill. Jill has to travel halfway through the mansion and back to get a serum for Richard, but Richard dies within minutes of the serum being administered. The massive puncture wounds caused by the giant snake that poisoned him might have had something to do with that, though. Played straight in the remake, where Richard recovers, but later dies in a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • The rest of the series is famously liberal with its use of "vaccines".
  • Averted completely in the Resistance series. When a vaccine is developed for the Chimera virus, it works like an actual vaccine, needing to be administered beforehand to do any good. When it hasn't? Well, that's when the much more primitive treatments come in...
  • Similarly averted in ZombiU. The vaccine to the zombie virus that the player can help develop is specifically mentioned as being a vaccine, not a cure. As such, it's no help to anyone who's already infected with the virus which includes the doctor who was helping you to develop the vaccine.
  • At one point in The Journeyman Project, the player is shot with a tranquilizer dart that causes fatigue and dizziness, and death if they try to leave the room. Fortunately, they are able to synthesize an insta-cure antidote in the laboratory.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the main protagonist Link's grandmother falls ill soon after he departs his home island of Outset on his adventure, and by the time he returns later in the game she's barely coherent, doesn't seem to notice his presence, and is sitting in a chair, wrapped in a blanket, mumbling to herself in low tones. Using a bottled fairy on her instantly turns her back to normal.
  • Super Sized Family:
    • The toddlers sometimes get cuts on their fingers. When you give them band-aids, their cuts go away as if by magic.
    • When the kids get sick, all you have to do is give them medicine and they're instantly better.
  • In Cold and Flu Invasion, cough drops can cure colds and flu instantly, med kits can preemptively cure colds instantly, and a certain type of candy heals everyone in the vicinity if someone so much as touches it.

  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Subverted: Varsuvius gets hit by a poisoned arrow which penalizes their Strength. Elan Neutralizes the Poison. That stops the Strength drain, but V doesn't get back what they'd already lost.
    • Another subversion when Therkla is poisoned. The villain, when the antitoxin is demanded of him, replies that he drank it half an hour ago and it will last the remainder of said hour. Furthermore, antitoxins don't actually work as instant cures in Dungeons & Dragons: they increase a character's resistance to the poison. Even if it was administered, Therkla wouldn't be guaranteed to be saved, and she would not have recovered the health she lost even if she were.
  • In a time-travel plotline in Sonichu, Chris-chan donates his "straight blood" so that scientists can make a vaccine for homosexuality. Extra hilarity for people who know how vaccines actually work.
  • Subverted in Genocide Man, before fighting Jacob Doe, Caera is issued an autoinjector to counteract his gun's m-sarin darts. But it's only enough to keep her breathing until paramedics arrive. She's paralyzed until she's converted into a Genocide Man. Genocide Men have artificial glands that allow them to shrug off the toxins in their own weapons though.
  • Subverted in Wilde Life. After Oscar is given a possible cure for Spider People venom, Clifford is dismayed to see that he's still unconscious and covered in Tainted Veins. Les laughs at him for expecting it to work instantly. Oscar wakes up soon after, but he's still very weak by the time that Clifford and Eliza take him home.
  • Grrl Power: Discussed in the strip No relation to Captain Caveman. Kat the werehare was nailed a few pages ago with a poison that's effectively paralyzed her. When Elsbeth gives her an antidote to keep the poison at bay until the were-healing kicks in, Kat questions it -doesn't she need to know which poison was used? Elspeth assures her it's a literally magical broad-spectrum antidote as she tucks the straw into Kat's mouth. The antidote also doesn't reverse the damage Kat's taken -her were-healing does that.

    Web Original 
  • In Return of the Cartoon Man, Peter gives Roy and Karen a strange green beverage that almost instantly reverts them to their normal selves.

    Western Animation 
  • Possibly Subverted in a Find the Cure! episode of Generator Rex. The individuals affected by the poison are shown on IV drips after the cure is found, implied to have been there overnight, and it's never said quite how long they had to find it.
  • Zoom in the Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5 episode "Man Down" fits this trope to a "T".
  • Averted in Korgoth of Barbaria, where Korgoth is poisoned and must take the antidote for several seasons for it to work, and it apparently tastes awful.
  • In Wakfu episode 7, Amalia is bitten by a devil rose, and the only cure for the poison is a very rare glowing sap from a magical tree. Unlike with many other examples, the actual monetary value of the antidote outside of the current plot is implied: Ruel takes the time to fill several vials of sap that he intends to sell later. This ends up saving Amalia's life, since Yugo quickly loses the only vial he'd intended for his friend. Even though she was close to death, the effect on Amalia is instantaneous, as usual.
  • Korgoth of Barbaria: Parodied and subverted when Gogmagog gives Korgoth the cure he promised to give him for completing his mission. Korgoth complains that he doesn't feel anything, and Gogmagog explains that he'll have to take the cure for months, but he prepared a huge pile for Korgoth free of charge.
  • Super Noobs:
    • The extractor guns that virus warriors use to extract a rampaging organism called the virus from its hosts qualifies. The virus is known to turn organisms into rampaging monsters and when the extractor is used on them, the virus its drawn out and destroyed, instantly reverting its hosts back to its normal selves. They need to be weakened first though.
    • When Memnock and Zenblock in "License to Noob" get infected with a very common and contagious space oriented eye infection called swink eye, which causes those infected to experience near blindness, itching and swelling, and green discharge, they task their students, the Noobs to get non prescribed pharmaceutical eye drops for them in the beta sector. Funny thing is that the eye drops are actually a pouch of purple dust, which when placed upon the eyes, cures them of the swink eye infection within seconds.
  • Played with in The Legend of Korra. After the finale of the third season, Korra was barely saved from a metallic poison used to force her into the Avatar state that nearly killed her. As soon as the poison is metalbent out of her she gasps back to consciousness and embraces her father. However, this only saved her life and weeks later she's still haggard and wheelchair bound. The start of the next season also explicitly states that removal of the poison may have saved her life, but the internal damage was still intense and even magical healing can only help so much. Full recovery took years.
  • Justified in The Owl House with Eda's elixir, which is able to immediately reverse the transformative effects of her curse when consumed as both the ailment and the treatment are magical in nature. However, it does suffer from a different real life medical issue that most works of fiction overlook. More specifically, the fact that medication becomes less effective the longer you take it.

    Real Life 
  • Naloxone, a/k/a Narcan is a more or less instant antidote for opioid overdose; given intravenously, it takes effect in less than a minute and completely reverses the effects of heroin, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, and all the derivatives thereof. However, it does nothing against anything else the patient might have dosed themselves with (benzodiazepines, such as Valium, and barbiturates, such as Seconal, are commonly cross-abused with opioids, and Narcan will not treat an overdose of these), and it tends to wear off before the drugs do (necessitating a re-dose or even an intravenous drip of the stuff while you wait for the drugs to clear out). Other possible drawbacks include nausea, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), and the patient instantly going from unconscious and apneic to wide-awake, stone-cold sober, and very much aware that the emergency services staff just ruined their very expensive hit.
  • Epinephrine works like this for acute allergic reactions; very rapidly taking someone from choking to breathing normally. But it only lasts for 15 minutes or so and, as for naloxone and opioids, the allergic reaction can last longer than the drug does. Second doses are fairly common.
  • For a while penicillin looked like it might be this. During WWII, a shot of penicillin would clear up an normally fatal infection and return the soldier back to fighting shape in about a day. The rise of antibiotic resistance made sure it did not stay that way for long.
  • Insulin functions like this against Type I (insulin dependent) diabetes. The three scientists who discovered it used a crude extract of it on a ward of fifty patients who had become comatose due to hyperglycemia. By the time they were injecting the last patients, the first patients were already coming out of their comas.
  • Adaptogens are more or less a low-grade version of this. Not an instant-acting panacea without any contradictions, but they act via very low-level and thus universal mechanisms that either counteract or compensate for lots of unrelated highly toxic substances. Enough to make a difference in some cases as big as 2x improvement in LD50 or five times quicker recovery.
  • The Placebo Effect plays a part in Real Life examples mild enough to be believable. Where no irreparable damage has taken place, administration of a curative (or believed curative) relieves the distress of the symptoms enough to function as if they were already gone.
  • Good old aspirin. It's one of mankind's oldest and simplest medicines, but the uses to which it can be put are quite startling, with new ones being found on an almost monthly basis. Notable examples include prevention against lots of clot-related diseases, including heart attack, deep venous thrombosis, and stroke. One recent use is for bowel cancer treatment
  • Magnesium sulfate is one of the only effective treatments for a specific arrhythmia, torsades de pointes (a very nasty form of ventricular fibrillation that isn't responsive to the usual combo of CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable and Magical Defibrillator treatment). It's also quite handy for rapidly breaking severe asthma attacks, as well as stopping premature labor and seizures in eclampsia.
  • TPA, a powerful decoagulant, can (in fortunate cases) reverse many of the effects of a stroke remarkably quickly by breaking up the clot in the brain. However, in order to have this effect, it has to be given within 3 or 4 hours of the stroke. Also, it is risky and not appropriate for everyone, and some strokes are caused by bleeding, not clotting, in which case, TPA would be fatal.