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Master Poisoner

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"Sadi could poison one person at a banquet with a thousand guests."
Garion of Riva, The Malloreon

A Master Poisoner is a character who is an expert in the preparation and administering of poisons. He can tailor a toxin to any situation: to paralyse, to knock out, to kill, or even other, more exotic, effects that others would consider beyond the realms of conventional toxicology.

The whole point is to be able to poison practically any victim (or victims) while not appearing to be the least bit involved, should they be so inclined.

Normally a mundane variation of Poisonous Person, though the two can overlap if the character is crafty enough.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In InuYasha there are several, including Sango, Yakorou Dokusen and Mukotsu from the Band of Seven who almost succeeded in killing half the titular character's team.
  • Himeko of Get Backers, and also her brother.
  • Abe no Kaii in the Lone Wolf and Cub.
  • The herbalist Pink, of the Sibling Team of Pink & Link, from Ranma ½. The former specializes in plant-based poisons, the latter, in medicines, but both of them are deadly at their craft. Kodachi Kuno is a lesser example: she uses paralyzing dust quite often, but we never learn if she's the one who makes them.
  • Megumi Takani of Rurouni Kenshin could be considered this in her Dark and Troubled Past. She worked as the assistant of a doctor who doubled as a drug dealer under the thumb of Corrupt Corporate Executive Kanryu Takeda, and she ended up being forced to produce opium after said doctor was murdered. She knows all about different poisons, but now cures them (among other roles befitting The Medic).
  • Due to his... unusual... hobbies, Count Cain Hargreaves of Godchild is very knowledgeable in— and collects— poisons. This becomes relevant to the plot surprisingly often.
  • Naruto:
    • Sasori. All his weapons are equipped with a very special poison he created himself which makes the victim suffer extreme pain for three days before dying, if he decided not to finish the victim off in the first place.
    • He learned this, and his puppetry, from Chiyo. Chiyo's poisons during the 2nd ninja world war were often cured by Tsunade, whose own pupil Shizune is also a poison master.
  • Dr. Katsuragi from Sakura Gari made his own drugs and poison, using hemlock and arsenic among other things. He used these to poison Lady Saiki to death and later he began to slowly poison Lord Saiki. Also, he slipped a roofie in Masataka's tea to kidnap, torture and rape him.
  • In Gankutsuou, we also have the below mentioned Madame de Vilefort. Subverted: it was the Count who gave her the poison ring she tries to use to kill her husband and stepdaughter.
  • Sucy of Little Witch Academia is supposedly a general potions specialist, but all we really see her do is make poisons. And she is very good at it; in the OVA, one of her concoctions turned it's victim to into a pile of goo, which then melted through the solid stone floor!
    (creepy giggle) "I guess it was a little too strong."
  • Mathilda Toulonchamp from Honoo no Alpen Rose may be too young to called a full-fledged master poisoner, but she still manages to use it to slowly poison Helene to make her ill, and it's heavily implied that she tries to do the same thing to Jeudi aka Helene's daughter Alicia by poisoning her food, but she doesn't get the job done.
  • Coco from Toriko not only able to create and secrete various poisons in his own body - he also expert in all kinds of poisons, which is suitable, since his enemies often has immunity and he has to get crafty to kill them. Not only he can create poisons with various effects, from ones that paralyse targets to ones that make their flesh melt away, he also developed virus poison, which can adapt to immune systems of the target and strike down foes, who normally would be immune to it. He is so skilled, that he can poison even robots - by using gases, which turn into highly corrosive acid on certain metals. Surprisingly, he is the most nice person out of Four Kings.
  • Assassination Classroom:
    • Professional hitman Somg specializes on poisoning people. He is obsessed with a quality of his poisons and makes all of them himself, in his own laboratory. On top of regular posions he is able to create deadly artificial viruses and can tailor their effects for various situations - like virus, that makes target appear seriously sick, but becomes inactive after a few hours, leaving only minor damage. His talents works even beyond the poisons - for example he create higly effective nutrients.
    • Manami Okuda is a master poisoner in-training; she's very good in science in general, and uses that talent in the class to make poisons to try and kill Koro-sensei. However, her delivery needs serious work: her introduction has her politely ask Koro-sensei to drink her poison. In the epilogue, she and Takebayashi use their scientific talents to develop universal artificial blood.
  • Assassin of Red, a.k.a Semiramis, of Fate/Apocrypha. Her Noble Phantasm, Sikera Ušum: Arrogant King's Alcohol, allows her to create a plethora of terrifyingly deadly poisons while inside her fortress. This includes being able to give her magecraft or even the air itself poison attribute, have her poison be composed of such things as Hydra venom and even summon poisonous beasts such as the Basmu from Mesopotamian mythology.
  • One Piece features Magellan, warden of the impenetrable prison Impel Down and a Poisonous Person who has entirely mastered his powers. Among other things, he's learned to secrete such a diverse array of poisons that it's impossible for any living being to be immune to all of them (including him - his Drama-Preserving Handicap is that the poisonous food he ingests to diversify his arsenal does a real number on his stomach).

    Comic Books 
  • Mejai from Le Scorpion is a gypsy assassin who specialises in the use of poisons.
  • This was Poison Ivy's original schtick in the Batman comics, before she became a Poisonous Person.
    • Another Batman villain, The Joker, was a prodigy at this. In both the 1989 movie and the animated series, he developed "binary compounds" by which he could succeed in murdering victims with the second exposure, thus appearing not to have been directly responsible for their deaths. The man's chemistry skill is such he can create incredibly toxic compounds out of nothing but the contents of a janitor's closet.
    • Yet another Batman villain, Scarecrow, concocts fear toxins to give targets nightmarish hallucinations.
  • Doctor Poison from Wonder Woman is an expert in the use of poisons, toxins, and plagues.
  • Stinger, a minor foe of Green Arrow and Black Canary. He is able to deliver a dose of curare exact enough to paralyse Black Canary's vocal cords without doing any additional harm to her.
  • In the Angel Gang from Judge Dredd's rogue gallery, this was Fink Angel's specialty skill.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the sequel comic Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search, none other than Prince Zuko's mother, Ursa, is revealed to be this. She knew how to make an odorless, color-less, lethal poison that was next to impossible to detect. She ended up offering a deal to Ozai; she would concoct the poison and give it to him to do as he pleased (the idea being he'd poison his father and then take the throne) and Zuko (who was going to be executed as a punishment to Ozai) would be spared. Ozai accepts.
  • Diabolik:
    • The title character is one, and his lover Eva learned from him.
    • The late Cen Fu taught Diabolik, and was much better. How much? Well, Diabolik has to use needles, sprays, or get to your food, but when you enter Cen Fu house he has already poisoned you, and only he has the antidote.
  • Ra's Al-Ghul's League of Assassins generally keeps a few in its employ, most commonly Cheshire who keeps her weapons drenched in poisons. Other poisoners associated with the League include "Viper", a non-combatant whose entire job revolved around creating new poisons and whose concoctions once nearly killed Ben Turner before he came up with the code-name Bronze Tiger.
  • Red Robin: Funnel of the Council of Spiders takes pride in creating quick acting incredibly painful poisons, and is insulted by other poison using murderers whose poisons don't fit what she thinks a perfect poison should be or are "boring".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The lead character in The Young Poisoners Handbook fits this to a T, due to being based Real Life Serial Killer Graham Young.
  • The fact-based Holocaust drama Amen has an unintentional example in Kurt Gerstein, an SS scientist responsible for refining and producing chemicals, including Zyklon B, though he is ignorant of the true purpose of the gas.
  • The serial killer protagonist of Hunting Humans reminisces about the time he killed one of his neighbors by inserting a lethal amount of codeine into eggs, which he resealed and gave to her.
    Aric: She was dead two mornings later. Cops came, made their rounds, but there was nothing to be found. They knew how she died, but they just assumed it was some psycho who was poisoning eggs. Big egg scare after that, though it was nothing compared to the Tylenol-cyanide thing.
  • French movie Le Capitan: In 17th century France, conspirators are shown using the services of an expert poison-maker who's a Depraved Dwarf. When asked where his deadly talent is coming from, he answers "Nature has played a mean trick on me. I'm not done paying it back."

  • Thomas Griffiths Wainewright is a master poisoner, according to Oscar Wilde's essay, Pen, Pencil, and Poison.
  • Discworld:
    • Lord Downey, head of the Assassins' Guild, is rumored to be this. There is no record of anyone Lord Downey may have wanted to inhume ever being poisoned, however. Which may just indicate that he's really good at it.
    • Lord Hong, the main villain from Interesting Times, is one as well. At one point, his poison causes a man to explode.
    • The Duke of Sto Helit, the main villain of Mort is known to be this, which is why his cousin the king doses himself with every antidote known to man. He's very surprised when the Duke hires a man to shoot him instead. (Although he gets some satisfaction from learning the Duke provided the assassin with a packed lunch.)
    • Vetinari is also rumored to have studied poisons at the Guild and be an expert on them (and according to the Assassins' Guild Diary he has the Guild degrees to indicate this) but like Downey he has no confirmed poisoning victims. Not even when Moist von Lipwig thinks he does.
  • The Malloreon: First introduced as a reluctant antagonist in the Belgariad, Sadi is shown to be exemplary even by Nyissan standards especially after becoming a protagonist. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of, and incredible skill at, pharmacology, drug-dealing and anything related to potions and chemicals in general. He is creative, clever and wily, able to weaponise almost any chemical concoction, favouring Poisoned Weapons, and is a rare fictional example of a truly badass eunuch. Garion's page quote is Not Hyperbole, as Sadi eventually proves through some excellent people-watching skills and a poisoned spoon.
  • Best Served Cold has Morveer, a master poisoner for hire. He's very paranoid, noting that poisoners tend to die from their own wares.
  • This is a large part of Fitz's training in Assassin's Apprentice, the first book of the Realm of the Elderlings series.
  • In Dune poison is almost an accepted science.
    • Definitely a favorite (after the Hormu kick) of the Honored Matres in Chapterhouse: Dune
  • Farran the Poisoner in the Redwall series. He never speaks, never shows any emotion (except at his death) and very nearly causes Salamandastron to fall to the enemy by sabotaging the food and water supply, killing two hares in the process. Lord Urthstripe takes an extremely dim view of such dishonourable tactics, and executes Farran by force-feeding him his entire remaining stock of poisons.
  • In The Demon Princes, the planet Sarkovy's Hat is brewing and finding creative ways to administer poisons. The higher ranks of their grand masters can be Poisonous Persons, although in a touch of realism, these people tend to die rapidly themselves. Hero Kirth Gersen spent several instructive years there, to the point of being able to outwit and infect a rival Master Poisoner.
  • Durzo Blint, of the The Night Angel Trilogy is a wetboy ("Wetboys are to assassins like a tiger is to a kitten.") who excels at poisoning.
  • One of Fu Manchu's numerous nefarious talents.
  • Hestera Spikesap from The Edge Chronicles is a master of potions one and potions all, from elixirs that revitalize the body to powerful alcohols, but poisons of all kinds appear to be her greatest talent. She knows how to give disobedient servants bad stomach aches, and ends up poisoning her master Vox to have him all to herself, forever.
  • Ouyang Feng, the Old Poison, in The Legend of the Condor Heroes.
  • Ismae from Grave Mercy is trained to be a Master Poisoner because she is completely immune to all poisons; the most she might feel is a light tingling sensation, and only if the poison is exceptionally strong. It's one of the rarer perks of being a daughter of Mortain. Ironically, it turns out that she is also a cure for any and all poisons. Prolonged skin-on-skin contact will draw poison out of anyone afflicted.
  • In Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead, a handful of swallowed cryptberries will kill someone almost instantly. After doing this to one twelve-year-old boy, the better to test his zombification serum, Dr. Evazam injects another with diluted cryptberry, which puts him into a deathlike coma for long enough that he can have a funeral and be Buried Alive.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, the poisoner Madame de Villefort is frequently compared to Locusta (see Real Life examples below).
  • The Reynard Cycle:
    • Reynard himself is the best example from the series, though he uses poison exclusively to knock people unconscious.
    • Ghul, Chanticleer's primary assassin, is able to poison the entire crew of a ship for weeks without anyone knowing. He doesn't realize that Reynard swapped out his poison for seasoning until it's too late.
    • Baron Dendra studied abroad to become one of these. When Persephone is poisoned, his fellow conspirators assume it was his work.
    • Barsine, one of Chanticleer's assassins, is this. She is apparently persuasive enough to get her victims to drink mysterious liquids knowingly.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has several examples.
    • Maesters of the Citadel, when fully trained, are healers by profession. But, there is a flip-side to that coin: a few indulge in this trope when asked to, when they deem it appropriate to meet their obligations or when euthanasia is required.
    • The Faceless Men are professionally trained assassins who naturally use a wide range of drugs, toxins and poisons as a part of their arsenal, many with possibly magical ingredients. They specialize in Make It Look Like an Accident-type assassinations.
    • Oberyn Martell is well known to use complex poisons: it even helps supply his moniker of "The Red Viper"... and Tyene, one of his bastard daughters collectively called the Sand Snakes, takes after Daddy, as well. When she briefly touches her uncle's hand after an argument, Prince Doran's maester hurries over to inspect his hand for puncture marks, and expresses concern over poisons that can be absorbed through the skin.
    • A surprising number of the plots Littlefinger has had a direct influence on have involved poison in some capacity at some point. There's a reason for that: he supplies it to proxies to use. Or, encourages the use in other ways. For a lord, he knows more on the topic than the average, even if he may not be in the same league biochemically as some on this list — what he is, however, is a master at getting away with it completely unsuspected.
    • The Crannogmen of the Neck are infamous throughout Westeros for using poisoned weapons and guerrilla tactics during warfare, which are both considered unmanly by Westerosi culture at large. They specialise in dealing out theatrically Cruel and Unusual Death, both as a warning and deterrent to others watching the death. However, since those toxic attacks of theirs often resemble a mixed tape of known, very nasty illnesses cranked all the way up and on speed, other options aren't off the table when they might feel like downplaying things.
  • Septimus in Stardust, whom the text notes is "one of Nature's poisoners".
  • Beyond Birthday from Another Note drugged all his victims before killing and dismembering them.
  • Two of the antagonists in The Chronicles of Ancient DarknessTenris and Seshru — are shown to be prehistoric versions of this trope. The former uses his knowledge to create a terrible sickness that drives the victims insane before killing them, spreading it across the Forest as a plague through poisoned juniper berries. The latter shows more subtlety by sedating a polar bear to make it easier to capture and poisoning crowberries Torak eats. Said berries render him unconscious and when he wakes up, his limbs are paralyzed and he can do nothing but argue with Seshru.
  • In Three Dark Crowns there are people with different types of gifts. One of them is poisoners' gift, which makes its owner immune to all types of poison. Naturally, many poisoners are also masters of creating poisons, especially the infamous Arron family.
  • In River of Teeth, Houndstooth hires Hero Shackleby based on their reputation as both a Demolitions Expert and a master poisoner, but since their former talents are more relevant to the job the only time any poison comes into play is when Hero slips it into Houndstooth's drink on their first meeting.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Littlefinger turns out to be one. Not only does he work with Olenna Tyrell to have King Joffrey poisoned during a lavish banquet, it's later revealed that he had Lysa Arryn poision her husband Jon Arryn, kicking off the War of Five Kings storyline.
    • "The Children" reveals Oberyn poisoned his spear with manticore venom.
    • One of Oberyn's bastard daughters, Tyene Sand, is knowledgeable about poisons just like daddy. She poisoned Bronn with her daggers during their fight in the Water Gardens and later, gave him the antidote for it while in prison. In "Mother's Mercy", she also the one who gave Ellaria the poison to kill Myrcella Baratheon when she left for King's Landing.
  • Livia, and later Agrippina, from I, Claudius. Livia's simple "Don't touch the figs" will send chills up your spine. One scene has Livia talking shop with Martina, another Master Poisoner. The two debate the relative merits of different poisons and their antidotes over dinner, only for Martina to go white with fear at the sudden thought that Livia might have poisoned her. Livia laughs it off, but the viewer expects Martina to drop dead at any moment, and her ultimate fate is left unspecified.
  • Locusta in the Doctor Who serial "The Romans".
  • Centauri in Babylon 5, in the past, regularly used poisons in their power games among the nobles. The practice apparently holds as of the time of the show, as Londo relies on a practitioner of the art for a poison to kill Emperor Cartagia and casually slips a terrifying poison to one of his political rivals (merely to pressure him: the first component is harmless until it's combined with a second).
  • Claxton in the Ripper Street episode "The King Came Calling", who creates a poison to mimic the effects of cholera by combining antimony and ergot and uses it to contaminate the flour supply in an attempt to become more famous than Jack the Ripper.
  • Stahma Tarr of Defiance prefers to let her husband and his goons do the wetwork. But when she's required to do it, she favors a bevy of lethal poisons to do the job.

    Myths & Religion 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Assassins in all editions that has them as a class or kit.
    • Dragon Magazine #39 has an article titled "The Anti-Paladin NPC". The Anti-Paladin is an aficionado of the art of poisoning, who considers poisoning to be an esthetic pleasure and a means of artistic expression. They have collections of poisons that they use on a regular basis.
    • Dark Sun bards are known for such a practice and learn to prepare and use more poisons with the level advancement.
  • In the D&D lawyer-friendly spinoff Pathfinder, a number of classes such as rogues, assassins and the currently experimental ninjas are proficient poisoners, but it's the Alchemist, which can not only make poisons, but becomes completely immune to them, can refine them into a more deadly, harder to resist form, make them last longer on the weapon and make them in a fraction of the time with reduced material costs.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Warhammer
      • The Dark Elves are amongst the foremost poisoncrafters in the setting, though the Skaven are also very good at it, and the Chaos Gods Nurgle and Slaanesh have several excellent poisoners amongst their followers.
      • The Dogs of War special character Lecrezzia Belladonnanote  is the most beautiful woman in Tilea whose husbands have a tendency to die from poisoning soon after making a mistake. In-game Lecrezzia has a number of special rules and items involving poisons, such as poisoned weapons and the Phial of Poison that can be used on enemy characters before a battle.
    • Warhammer 40,000's background material mentions the Venenum Temple of Assassins. Unlike the operatives of some of the more overt Temples, Venenum Assassins work behind the scenes, poisoning high-priority targets before the battles can begin, with good training in stealth and such a devastating array of poisons they can kill anything, even daemons, with the right toxin. One piece of Flavor Text details the successful assassination of all thousand members of an anti-Imperial planetary government by the Venenum Assassin Urua Thereaux who spent three days poisoning the chairs of their council chamber.
    • In Necromunda, the 3rd Edition background material mentions that the alchemical skill of House Escher has led them to become masters of developing poisons and toxins. From bespoke venom designed to kill a specific enemy to psychotropic gases and toxins that can liquefy flesh, the chemists of House Escher produce a wide variety of exotic substances for their gangs to utilise. This is represented in the rules by the Escher having access to a number of weapons with the Toxin ability from creation.
  • One of the skills that fits under the Scorpion Clan's hat in Legend of the Five Rings. The Shosuro family in particular kept large gardens full of various plants that could all be turned into some kind of poison.

    Video Games 
  • In World of Warcraft, one of the abilities of the Rogue class is applying poisons (usually to their own weapons). The Assassination talent tree partly focuses on this particular ability. One of the talents in the tree is literally called Master Poisoner.
    • Hunters, meanwhile, poison with certain abilities like Serpent Sting. They can also set a trap with venomous snakes.
    • Some bosses definitely qualify. Cataclysm has introduced Vanessa van Cleef, who administers literal Nightmare Fuel to all party at once, and renewed High Priest Venoxis, with extra ham.
  • League of Legends
    • The champions Teemo, Cassiopeia, and Twitch can all use poison.
    • Singed runs around and leaves poison trails.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In the series' lore, the Kota-Vimleel tribe of Argonians are esteemed alchemists known for creating the most deadly poisons in all of Tamriel.
    • King Hlaalu Helseth of Morrowind is reputed to be one of the greatest and most subtle poisoners in the world. The in-game book A Game at Dinner and rumors regarding the death of his predecessor as King support this reputation, as well as speak for his subtlety.
    • A Master Alchemist in Oblivion can produce a staggering variety of poisons with Standard Status Effects beyond all those listed in the trope definition. Though poisons in-game aren't as instantly lethal, a full stack of damage-over-time effects make it a foregone conclusion. Replace one of those with fatigue-drainer, and you can safely look your opponent in the eye as it dies.
    • From Oblivion onwards, poisoning is a subset of the Alchemy skill. In Skyrim, the master trainer of Alchemy is a young vampire and a Dark Brotherhood assassin who is this trope. You also can become this, and the Brotherhood offers you a unique poison ingredient for the assassination of Emperor Titus Mede II (however, it's strong enough to take half HP from the Ebony Warrior).
    • Leveling up your pickpocketing skill in Skyrim and selecting the appropriate perks also allows you to poison opponents by putting vials in their inventory without them realizing it until they drop dead.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals has the notorious Dr. Thrax, one of the GLA's generals. Under his command, almost all of the units that normally use high explosives instead use a biochemical cocktail called Anthrax Beta/Gamma. He got his degree in bacteriology from a mail-order college.
  • In Disgaea 5, Chapter 4's Netherworld, Poisondise, is a tropical vacation destination with completely toxic water. Hedler, the overlord of this Netherworld, is a Winged Warrior (the name of the moth class) who specializes in utilizing poison instead of brute strength, going as far as poisoning his entire Netherworld to defend it from invading armies. After defeating him and defending his Netherworld from the invading Lost Army, he joins your group. He still obsesses over poisons, going as far as to openly contemplate poisoning everyone's food for his amusement.
  • Alfyn Greengrass from Octopath Traveler is primarily a healer who just wants to help people, but is certainly capable of using his knowledge as an apothecary to inflict harm when needed. One of his class skills, Empoison, always succeeds if the target is vulnerable to poison—and the vast majority of enemies, including most chapter bosses and several of the setting's gods, are. He can also mix items to Concoct harmful powders that have a chance of inflicting various Standard Status Effects, including poison, to the whole enemy team. In story, he carries a plant called slumberthorn whose toxin not only pulls the victim into a deep sleep, but plagues the victim with horrifying nightmares if they have any evil deeds weighing on their conscience. He uses this to subdue and partially reform the Chapter 2 boss after their battle.
  • Salandit and its evolution Salazzle in Pokémon Sun and Moon are Poison/Fire type Pokemon with the unique ability "Corrosive", which allows them to poison all Pokemon, even Steel-Types and other Poison Types, both of which are normally immune to the Poison status.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: Jobe from Whateley Academy creates toxins in his lab to carry around just in case somebody attacks him, and injects himself with the corresponding antitoxin to prevent self-poisoning. He creates a new toxin daily so people cannot become immune/create their own antitoxin.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Lucrezia Borgia is often portrayed as this; see Dated History for a discussion. All of the Borgias had the reputation of poisoners, not just Lucrezia. It was probably untrue of Lucrezia and Rodrigo (a.k.a. Pope Alexander VI), but likely enough in Cesare's case. Of course, nowadays powerful Italian families have streamlined their operations somewhat and tend to stick with lead poisoning as their method of choice, generally of the acute variety.
  • Locusta, who may have assassinated the Roman Emperor Claudius and several other people. She was rewarded by the infamous Emperor Nero.


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