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One Dose Fits All

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An example of how extreme this trope can be. A bear would get killed by an amount of sedative that could put Barney down.
Belkar: Hey, Ears, what are you doing?
Vaarsuvius: Feeding your [Allosaurus] some rudimentary defensive potions while blocking out all thoughts concerning pharmaceutical dosage specifications.

Alice has decided to murder Bob and Carol, and serves them each a mug of coffee, into which she has secretly mixed a dosage of cyanide. Both drink their coffee, and five minutes later both Bob and Carol begin to dramatically cough and clutch at their chests, each dying within about ten seconds of one another.

But hang on — Carol gulped her coffee back in a few mouthfuls, whereas Bob sipped his and barely drank half of it. Additionally, Bob is six feet tall and weighs nearly twice as much as the slim, petite Carol. How can the same poison possibly have killed them both at the same time, given the differences in body mass and how much poison each of them consumed?

This trope refers to those Fridge Logic-y moments in which a poison (or sedative, tranquillizer, medicine, etc.) is administered to several different people and takes effect on all of them after roughly the same period of time and with the same effects, despite differences in body mass, how much of the substance was administered and constitution. Sometimes the people affected are even of different species, such as a poison simultaneously administered to both an adult male and a dog, who nonetheless react identically to any poison administered.note  Supposing that, in our example above, Bob is a human whereas Carol is a three-headed Martian whose species evolved under entirely different circumstances to our own; how could we possibly expect Carol to react in the same way as Bob to being poisoned (sedated, etc.)?

One way to Hand Wave this in-universe is for the poisoner to explain that they based the dosage on the heaviest person present, and administered the same amount to everyone. However, if that was the case, the poison should presumably take effect on the lighter individuals significantly earlier than the heavier ones, rather than everyone being affected within a few seconds of each other; and you still run into the problem of the dosages being inconsistent (if, for example, Bob drank more or less coffee than Carol). Additionally, this explanation doesn't work in the case of sedatives or tranquillizers: if you base your dosage on the mass of the heaviest person present and administer the same dosage to a lighter person, it could potentially not just render the lighter person unconscious but also cause brain damage or even death (this is why anaesthesiology is such a complex discipline).

This trope is related to, but distinct from, Instant Sedation. In Instant Sedation, a drug is administered to a person or group of people and the drug takes effect after a very brief space of time (say, a few seconds). In this trope, it does not matter how long it takes the drug to take effect (from a few seconds to several days), as long as it takes effect on all of the victims after roughly the same period of time (despite differences in dosage, body mass, and constitution). The two tropes can often overlap, however.

In Video Games, if a poison or sedation mechanic is featured it's very likely to be an example of this trope, assuming the enemies the poison or sedative can be used on are of diverse sizes and constitutions. This could probably be considered an example of an acceptable break from reality or an Anti-Frustration Feature, as enemies responding differently to drugs depending on their size wouldn't exactly be a meaningful test of the player's relevant skills, and would be more likely to annoy players more than anything else. In addition, if Hit Points scale with size and constitution, a poison that does a given amount of hit point damage therefore does require a higher dose to kill a bigger, stronger enemy, averting this trope.

A sub-trope of Artistic License – Medicine, Artistic License – Biology, and Artistic License – Pharmacology. See also Instant Sedation, Tranquillizer Dart, Knockout Gas, Deadly Gas, Slipping a Mickey, and Tampering with Food and Drink. Frequently applies, even more illogically, to the Healing Herb. If the same drug affects people the same way despite differences in species (including, for example, humans and aliens in Speculative Fiction works), this trope overlaps with No Biochemical Barriers. For a more violent and equally unrealistic means of rendering someone unconscious, see Tap on the Head.

Note: The key element of this trope is that it shows the same substance affecting more than one entity (human, animal, alien, etc.) in the same way, even if it logically shouldn't (because of differences in dosage, body mass, constitution, species, etc.). If you have an example of a poison or sedative, etc., affecting just one individual, it's not this trope.


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    Fan Works 
  • Averted in The Dragon King's Temple. Janet refuses to give Zuko or Toph any medicine - even aspirin - because they are not human and she cannot safely predict how they will react to any drugs she gives them.
  • Averted in First Knight. Xander mentions having a single dose of the antidote to the poison used in the lobster at a dinner set in the 1930s because he didn't expect to take anyone else back with him. However, he explains that the dose is tailored to his weight and metabolism; he could use a smaller amount if Willow or Dawn got poisoned but has no idea how to account for a Slayer's constitution and metabolism. As a result, he can't do anything to save the poisoned alternate Xander and Faith they meet.
  • Discussed and averted in Weasley Girl. When a desperate Quirrell spikes the Hogwarts Christmas dinner with a sleeping potion to knock everyone out so he can kidnap Ronnie, Dumbledore and Hagrid are conveniently not present at the dinner because they've gone to the Forbidden Forest. Later on, Hagrid muses that Quirrell probably made sure that Hagrid would be busy elsewhere because the sleeping potion wouldn't have incapacitated someone his size. It's also mentioned that even after being revived, the smaller and younger students take longer to come around because the potion affected them harder — Ginny, who is the smallest and youngest student, was affected the hardest and is still half-asleep after being revived. She wakes up rather abruptly when realizing that she kissed Harry in her drowsy stupor.
  • Discussed and averted in the Firefly fic Picture of Health. The Alliance used a new version of Pax on Mal and it left him a lot like River. Simon knows by now what medicine is most effective to give River but Mal is quite a bit larger than River and male, so Simon is forced back to trial and error with him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Hilariously subverted in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted when Captain DuBois and her team of animal control officers shoot the animals with tranquilizer darts in a Knockout Ambush and most of the animals are shot with one dart, but Gloria the Hippo is shot with four darts yet doesn't go out any quicker than the other animals.
  • Zootopia:
    • In the teaser trailer, Judy shoots Nick (a fox) with an elephant tranquilizer and it only knocks him out instantly (instead of realistically killing him), then a wildebeest eats the dart and staggers for a second before passing out.
    • The tranq gun was left out of the final film but blueberry-sized capsules of Night Howler serum are shown to equally affect animals ranging in size from an otter to a polar bear. And since it's a contact toxin that's absorbed through the skin, the dosage would be even more random due to the targets having fur coats that have varying degrees of waterproofing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Mindhunters, the killer sneaks a sedative into the pot of coffee the team is drinking from. It takes effect a few minutes later and every team member is out cold within about thirty seconds of each other, and similarly wake up within a minute of each other several hours later. Never mind the disparities in how much coffee each team member drank or that the team includes six team members ranging from a burly Scary Black Man to two petite women. However, one of the team members gets murdered while asleep and another is the killer himself who merely feigned unconsciousness, mitigating this slightly. This is possibly the least impractical element of the killer's insanely complicated Gambit Roulette.
  • When the Pink Berets from Illumination Entertainment's Hop are discovered near the iconic Hollywood sign by a patrolman, they shoot one blowgun dart to his neck, which drops him unconscious almost instantly. Later, when the Pink Berets encounter Fred O'Hare in the mansion's kitchen, the bunnies think that Fred has killed their charge, E.B. Fred gets a volley of six darts to the face, which ought to be fatal, or nearly so. Nope, it only keeps him in la-la land for a few hours. Somewhere, a pharmacist is crying...
  • Jurassic Park:
    • The Lost World: Jurassic Park: Averted. Tembo downs the bull Tyrannosaurus with two carfentanil tranq darts, but we're later told the dosage was way too high and nearly killed the animal. They gave it a receptor antagonist drug to counteract the effect but that dosage was also too high, and it ends up in a psychoactive state, breaks free, and goes on a rampage.
    • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: The tranquilizer used to sedate the dinosaurs is named as carfentanil, an "extremely" potent narcotic. The lethal dose for humans is measured in micrograms, yet multiple people are hit with darts calibrated for dinosaur-sized creatures and simply wake up later with headaches that don't last that long (in fact, it's stated the dosage was already too high for dinosaurs, making this example especially egregious).
  • Outbreak shows everyone getting the cure to Motaba in IV bags, although it's never specified whether the cure was titrated individually for each patient or if every IV bag contained the same dosage.
  • In the opening scene of The Rock, the mercenaries use tranquilizer darts on the soldiers guarding the chemical weapons depot. All of them fall unconscious practically immediately, despite their different sizes.
  • In The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, Sacker puts pills in the wine during the opera scene. When the various actors drink the wine, they instantly collapse.
  • The climactic trick in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone can only work if this applies on a massive scale with near-perfect simultaneity. Even worse, it has to apply to both onset and recovery because anyone who resists the gas even slightly to either stay awake a little longer than average or wake up a little sooner than average will notice that people around them are sleeping, which would be a pretty big tip-off. Of course, it's a comedy, so Rule of Funny is in full effect, and we're not supposed to worry about that.
  • In Dr. No, Bond and Honey both pass out from drugged coffee provided by the villain. Honey does feel the effects first, but only by a few seconds despite being much smaller than Bond. Strangely, they were already captured and no real explanation for why they were drugged is given.
  • In X2: X-Men United, the soldiers attacking the Xavier mansion use the same tranquilizer darts for grown adults as they do for small children. The only ones who aren't knocked out instantly are Wolverine due to his healing factor and Colossus due to his metal body.
  • Denial: Deborah points out that Fred Leuchter, the supposed "execution expert" who claimed to debunk Auschwitz as being an extermination camp because more gas was used to delouse lice than kill the prisoners, assumed this when comparing them. In reality, it takes twenty times more gas to kill lice than humans.
  • Averted in The Wizard of Oz. The Wicked Witch's poppy field causes Toto to fall asleep first, then Dorothy, then the Lion — the biological characters are affected from smallest to largest, while the non-biological Scarecrow and Tin Man remain unaffected.
  • Averted in Black Widow. Alexei Shostakov, a heavyset Super-Soldier, is able to shrug off a single Tranquilizer Dart from Dreykov's mooks (implicitly with the same doses that took down Natasha and Yelena, both average-sized Badass Normal women); it turns out that they'd anticipated such a thing, so they shoot Alexei with about a dozen more darts until he goes down properly.
  • Played with in the Saw movies. Jigsaw and his apprentices/accomplices drug their victims prior to kidnapping them, and in games with multiple victims, they may either wake up at different times or at the same time, but the dosage seems to be the same for all victims regardless of their differences.
  • Averted in Operation Finale. The Mossad team sent to kidnap Adolf Eichmann includes a doctor specifically because keeping him drugged over a long period of time while smuggling him through the airport is an important part of the operation. The doctor takes some convincing because she accidentally killed someone last time she did a Mossad job, having been ordered to give them continual doses to keep them under.

  • It's implied that the Invisibility Potion from Murderess works this way: Lu, Hallwad, and Aucasis have presumably the same body mass, give or take, but Hallwad, and especially Aucasis, have both been injured pretty badly by the Dark Ones, and their loss of blood does not seem to be accounted for when dividing the potion Lu still has.
  • Defied in Jurassic Park. Muldoon points out that the same dose of tranquilizer will knock an elephant unconscious, make a hippo sleepy, and make a rhinoceros angry. So he has to make an educated guess about the proper tranquilizer dose for an adult T. rex. As it turns out, much more than he expected. The T. rex takes an hour to even feel the tranq shot.
  • In the Redwall book Mattimeo, Slagar the Cruel successfully drugs an entire abbey into unconsciousness with a toast, with adult badgers, adult mice, and their children apparently all taking the same dose amount. The only two exceptions stayed awake because they were distracted during the toast, so Slagar's goons just murder them.
  • Averted in Dune. When Jessica and Paul are sedated and abducted, Jessica manages to figure out who the poisoner is by narrowing it down to the only person who would have had access to the medical data necessary (weight and metabolic rate are mentioned, others implied) to make the individual doses so precise.
  • Downplayed in the Artemis Fowl series. Sedatives usually knock out people at about the same rate and they wake up at about the same time, but there's always a mention of the sedative being measured for each individual's body mass. In The Time Paradox, Artemis and Holly get knocked out with the same dose, but Holly wakes up first in spite of being lighter. Once Artemis wakes up, he points this out, and they both attribute it to Holly's magic.
  • Danny, the Champion of the World: Danny believes this, and it makes him slightly worried; his big plan hinges on being able to drug two hundred pheasants with fifty sleeping pills. His father points out that a pheasant is only a fraction of the size of a man, so if a pill can put a man to sleep, a quarter of a sleeping pill will be more than enough to knock out a pheasant. They had not accounted for the sleeping pills wearing off the following morning when most of the pheasants wake up. However, six of them do not wake at all, presumably because they had taken more pills than the others.
  • In One Hundred Years Ahead, a dose of soporific gas from Rat's gun, intended for Alice (a slim eleven-year-old), instead hits Jolly U (an adult Fat Bastard weighing 150 kg) and immediately puts him to sleep. However, it’s made clear that the pirates are trying to kidnap rather than kill Alice (while realistically, a dose that instantly knocked off Jolly U would have likely been fatal for her), making it an example of the trope.
  • In Small Favor, it gets discussed that this doesn't apply. A group of Denarians have a plan to capture Ivy, current host of The Archive, and includes the use of an airborne sedative. Once Harry realizes that it's being used- especially since he starts feeling the effects of it himself- he starts trying to get to Ivy's location to make an escape, since she will be knocked out before he is. Also, one Denarian feels the need to remind some of the others that this part of their plan depends on the fact that Ivy is (still) a child. Harry himself is a tall ("NBA-sized") adult.
  • In The Witches, the hero and his grandmother turn all the witches of England into mice, with five hundred doses of Delayed Action Mouse Maker, which they reason will give all two hundred witches a double dose at least. The hero plans to put the Mouse Maker into their food while it is being prepared in the kitchen and worries that the wrong guests might receive it. His grandmother tells him to listen carefully to what the cooks are saying, and hand waves the problem of other guests eating the same food by telling him that for a big party, the food is prepared separately. In spite of knowing that giving more than one dose will make the delayed action unpredictable, the witches all turn into mice at the same time.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Averted in The A-Team episode "Deadly Manuevers". B.A. and Hannibal both drink the spiked milk. However, B.A. drinks five glasses. He feels the effects very soon and doubles over on a number of occasions, eventually being barely able to move. Hannibal, presumably having drunk less, feels the effects but is able to stay on his feet long enough to get away from the bad guys, find a safe area, and call Tawnia to tell her to fetch a doctor.
  • Breaking Bad. In "Salud", Gus proffers Don Eladio of the Mexican cartel a bottle of poisoned tequila, which he serves to Gus and his men, and also takes a shot himself (Gus has already taken an antidote to minimize the effects, and shortly afterwards induces vomiting to get rid of what he could). Sometime later, the Don and all of his men drop dead within a few seconds of each other, despite the differences in size between them (the man standing guard outside the bathroom when Gus is making himself sick is easily twice the size of the Don himself, for example).
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The series features a drug called "Essence of Nightshade". It's not seen being used, but Pycelle (the setting's equivalent of an apothecary) claims one drop is a powerful sleeping agent while ten is fatal, which ignores the body mass of the victim.
    • Played ridiculously straight now in season 7, "Dragonstone". When Arya, disguised as Walder Frey, poisons the wine and then instructs several dozen members of House Frey to have a toast, all of them are largely fine for the time it takes her to finish her speech, at which point they all die within seconds of each other.
  • Parodied in the first Blackadder series, where one of the seven plotters (Sean, the Irish Bastard) doesn't die of the poisoned wine, but decides he liked the "extra sting" of the wine, has another, then dies. Played straight at the end of the episode when the entire royal court toast with the poisoned wine and drop dead instantly.
  • On Zoo, the same tranquilizer darts that take down a brown bear via Instant Sedation are also used on big cats less than half its size, and a German shepherd which couldn't have weighed even 1/10 of what the bear did.
  • The Flash:
    • The Trickster laces the champagne at a Gala with a poison that takes one hour to take effect. For all the guests. Like clockwork too — one guest, who arrived an hour before the rest (and therefore an hour before everyone is told about the poison) starts to keel over precisely sixty minutes after he started drinking.
    • In another episode, when the team are travelling to Gorilla City, where Grodd is holding Earth-2 Wells captive, they all get knocked out with darts almost instantly, even though Barry has a fast metabolism and should have taken longer to go down, if at all. It's possible that Grodd anticipated their arrival and was Crazy-Prepared.
  • Done hilariously in one episode of Due South, when a train car full of Mounties is gassed while they are singing, everyone present falls asleep within a minute. When the gas wears off, not only do they all regain consciousness simultaneously, they all go from out cold to continuing singing, right at the point where the last person to fall asleep left off instantaneously.
  • Played with in Criminal Minds:
    • One episode featured a man drugging people with an opiate so that he could frame them for home invasions. While he doesn't particularly care if the drug kills them, they all survive long enough for him to shoot them at the crime scene. Except for one, who was an opiate addict and built up a tolerance, therefore recovered more quickly and managed to escape. But we don't know how he dosed them or how long the drug took to take effect (the one survivor was overpowered, drugged, and locked in a trunk for a few hours, so it's possible that process was to ensure the drug had time to kick in).
    • Another episode featured a series of government employees falling victim to poisonings around the same time. Most received a single dose and started showing the symptoms within hours, but the main target had been receiving small, regular doses of the poison over years and still showed no symptoms until after the random victims, at which point his condition was exactly the same as theirs. Potentially justified, if his wife waited until he started showing symptoms to begin targeting the other victims, enforcing the timeline matchup, but that doesn't seem likely considering he fell ill at work and didn't have time to tell his wife before being brought to the hospital, which means she couldn't have known exactly when the poison would finally take effect.
    • One episode featured an unidentified sedative in women's cigarettes. While they don't explain how the unsub managed to dose the cigarettes, it seems unlikely that he would have been able to control the dose each woman received, considering the rate at which she smoked on top of weight, tolerance, etc. One woman somehow managed to get a smaller dose because she had enough time to recognize the taste was wrong, yet another woman we saw smoking was affected within seconds. While that might be a sign that the dosage was inconsistent, averting the trope, the implication was that the recognition was what saved the first woman, not the fact that her dose was inherently weaker or miscalculated.
    • Yet another episode featured an unsub keeping women drugged (immobile but conscious). The episode claims the unsub has some medical training, but considering that "training" comes from being the daughter of a psychiatrist who submitted her to electroshock therapy to stop her from revealing he'd molested her, that barely explains how they got access to the drugs and equipment, much less the understanding to properly use them. While the victims did turn up dead, that wasn't a problem of dosage, just a matter of their brains basically giving up without the proper mixture of stimulus and response. The one Spanner in the Works turned out to be a victim who was diabetic, which somehow allowed her to process the drugs more quickly. At the very least, the women were all chosen based on their body type, so they were all consistently petite.
  • Defied (or at least attempted to) in the House episode "Last Resort". A desperate man takes several patients and employees hostage at gunpoint, demanding a diagnosis and treatment. House manages to get the outside to send them a sedative and a syringe, telling the guy it's to treat the disease House has "diagnosed" him with. Since the guy wasn't born yesterday, he insists House give it to a hostage first. House deliberately picks the biggest guy in the room. He's fine for a few seconds, but still passes out before House can get the second dose in the gunman.
    Jason: You think I'm an idiot?!
    House: Thought I had a little more time with a guy that size...
  • In the second season of Hannibal, there is a serial killer who kills his victims with heroin overdoses after stitching them into a human mural. However, one victim averts this trope due to being a former addict, allowing them to survive the dosage and revive later, able to flee and almost escape.

    Music Videos 
  • In Lady Gaga and Beyoncé's video for "Telephone", they decide to not only poison Beyonce's jerkass boyfriend but also everybody in the restaurant. Beyonce's boyfriend dies first but then everyone else croaks at the same time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Zig-zagged in Shadowrun: drugs, toxins, and other chemicals affect every character equally with the same nebulous quantity of a single dose, whether it be an ordinary human, an ork built like a pro linebacker, or a two-and-a-half meter, three-hundred-kilogram troll. The only concession made for different body sizes is that the subject's Body attribute reduces the duration of the effect to a minimum specified in the chemical's description; the troll will fall asleep when laës'd, even if it's the same size dose as the human got, but he'll wake up sooner and remember more.
  • Zig-zagged in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and other D20 tabletop games where poisons come in fixed doses and require Fortitude saves to resist and successfully eliminate, and Fortitude varies depending on Constitution, class levels, and racial hit dice (sometimes bigger creatures have higher Constitution, but not always). Poisons are for the most part "save or suck"; you either successfully resist and are unaffected or you suffer the full effect, making them a bit of a gamble and somewhat inconsistent.
  • The Pathfinder system tries to make poisons more consistent by allowing additional Fortitude saves after the initial injection/ingestion to cure it, and enabling the stacking of several doses to increase their save DCs.
  • Its sister series Starfinder is a bit worse at it, as poisons are individually saved even if multiple doses are given. As for body size, any dosage affects most races equally, whether small or large. There's even a whole class (the Biohacker) that's centered around injecting custom doses into allies and enemies, though at least they have the excuse that nanites are involved.

    Video Games 
  • Played straight throughout the Hitman series. Any poison or sedative administered to any NPC will be equally effective on any of them. Sedating an NPC with a given amount of chloroform will knock them out for a fixed period of time, regardless of whether they are a petite woman or a burly Russian gangster. There is also at least one instance in which a possible means to assassinate two targets is to serve them the same poisoned drink near-simultaneously, following which they both drop dead within seconds of each other despite their different sizes.
  • Dishonored: In the High Overseer level, the player has the option to poison both Lord Campbell and City Watch Officer Geoff Curnow. If you do this, they die at practically the same time, despite Campbell being larger than Curnow.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Zig-zagged in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, due to Gameplay and Story Segregation. This game is the first in the series to feature tranquillizer-firing weapons, with which enemies can be dispatched non-lethally. Tranquillizer darts will be equally effective on any regular enemy regardless of size (only location of the shot makes any effect - a guard will feel the prick of the dart and try to find where it came from for a few seconds before falling unconscious if he's shot in the hand, but a dart to the head is instant sedation), provided they are not wearing full body armour, making this a straight example. In boss fights, however, it's played with. Bosses can also be defeated non-lethally, but rather than knocking them out with a single dart to the head, they instead have a "stamina" bar (much like their regular health meter) which depletes the more they get hit by tranquillizer darts. However, this stamina bar is based not on the enemy's size, physical fitness, or constitution, but rather simply scales up linearly as part of the game's difficulty curve. So it's averted, but in the interests of gameplay rather than realism (could be considered an Acceptable Break from Reality, as the boss fights would be very anticlimactic if the bosses reacted to tranquillizer darts the same way the regular enemies do).
    • The above description also goes for the third game in the series.
    • It likewise applies to Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, a Video Game Remake of the first game which essentially remade the first game but with all of the mechanics featured in Metal Gear Solid 2.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 played it almost exactly the same as well, which gets particularly silly considering the game has a greater focus on gunplay and on how enemies react to getting shot. You can hit a man in the face with a tranq dart fired from an old Soviet bolt-action rifle and send him backflipping through the air, and he'll be out cold before he has any time to wonder what the hell just happened.
  • Second Sight features a tranquillizer gun. Any enemy hit by a single dart will be out cold indefinitely, regardless of size or constitution. A body shot will take some time to take effect (the same amount of time for every enemy), whereas hitting them in the head or neck will knock them out instantly.
  • The tranquillizer rifle in the original Manhunt will knock out all enemies practically instantly, regardless of size.
  • The tranquilizer rifle in Far Cry 2 takes it to absurd lengths, as whatever kind of tranquilizer and dosage it's using is enough to instantly kill any enemy you shoot with it, regardless of size or shot location. However, any hit that isn't in the head the victim will scream before dying while a headshot is instant, silent death.
  • Dwarf Fortress has the option to give an individual venom this feature. Taking existing game creatures as an example: Giant Cave Spider venom (which causes paralysis) averts this and behaves realistically in that its effects depend on mass. Therefore, its bite will paralyze a dwarf to the point they'll asphyxiate and die, but a dragon will only feel mildly numb, and possibly be inconvenienced after multiple bites. On the other hand, Giant Desert Scorpion (a neurotoxin, or the closest the game can manage) venom plays it straight: Its sting will, eventually, kill a dwarf, a dog, or a dragon in the same amount of time, by way of making their entire nervous system (brain including) necrotize and rot away.
  • Tranquilliser darts in Alpha Protocol affect all normal enemies the same way, regardless of size. Boss battles are another matter.
  • Averted in Jurassic Park (Sega Genesis): different dinosaurs not only take different numbers of tranquilizer darts to knock them out, they also stay unconscious for different lengths of time. A compy only takes one dart to put under and will stay asleep for a long time. A Dilophosaurus takes more darts and stays asleep for a moderate amount of time. You can technically render the T-Rex unconscious if you dart her enough times, but it takes an enormous number of darts and is unlikely to last long enough for Grant to safely run past her. Played straight with grenades, though: a gas grenade will render any dinosaur unconscious and they'll stay out for roughly the same amount of time.
  • Assassin's Creed II introduces the poison dart attachment for the hidden blade weapon, a staple for the rest of the trilogy and the next couple of games. Within seconds of being struck, the target begins to stagger before wildly swinging his weapon around and attacking nearby people, finally falling dead (if not killed by any attacked guards). It does this equally to speedy runners and heavy set brutes, with the only limitation being it won't work on story important characters.
  • In Overwatch, Ana's Sleep Dart ability instantly knocks any foe it hits down for a fixed 5 seconds (unless they get shot at and woken up early). This applies to anyone and everyone, from the petite Tracer or D.Va, to the enormous Reinhardt and Roadhog, even to robots like Bastion or Orisa.
  • Hidden Expedition The Curse Of Mithridates: After a too-dumb-to-live NPC sets off a hidden booby trap, your character must collect the three rarest items of the antidote's twenty-seven ingredients. After you're successful (of course), the vial with the liquid -presumably a suspension, since most of the ingredients were solid is... put into a machine that splits the liquid into an equal number of doses and sends them through some very long tubes to the patients' IVs. Did we mention that two of the three ingredients are the last of their kind and can never be found again? So if this fouled up, there was only maintenance care and the hope they'd beat the poison themselves to fall back on?
  • Warframe averts this in its animal conservation minigame; players are given a tranquilizer rifle to dart and secure animals. Most critters take one dart, but larger, more resilient types, especially those with poison resistance, can take two or three. This includes birds, whose light constitutions make them particularly suspect to the effects of a single dart. Fortunately, the resident avians are hardy and can survive an unconscious freefall from a hundred feet up relatively unscathed.
  • Pokémon: The 'poisoned' status (and its nastier 'badly poisoned' cousin) deals a fixed amount of the victim's maximum Hit Points every round. This means that, ignoring any other sources of hit point loss, any poisoning attack that hits two pokemon (like Sludge Wave, or Toxic) will defeat those two pokemon equally quickly. Even pokemon that resist (i.e. take half damage from) attacks of the poison type still take the same amount of damage from the 'poisoned' status (except Poison pokemon, who are immune to being poisoned), though Steel pokemon No-Sell both poison damage and the 'poisoned' status.

  • In The Order of the Stick, potions work exactly the same on any being that takes one, as befits an RPG Mechanics 'Verse. Of course, they are magic potions, after all. Lampshaded on two different occasions, by Miko and Vaarsuvius.
  • Averted in The Last Days of FOXHOUND a fan webcomic based on the Metal Gear Solid games. Several times the unit faces superhuman opponents like the Cyber Ninja or Liquid Snake, (when he's possessed by the ghost of his father) and despite Friendly Sniper Wolf shooting them with a Tranquilizer Dart, they manage to stay conscious long enough to either escape capture or cause some other problems before collapsing. When one of her teammates complains about Instant Sedation not being in effect, Wolf responds by talking about how difficult it is to get the dose right for a superhuman opponent. The author having a degree in molecular biology helps with this sort of thing.
  • Grrl Power has several villains sedated by a wrist-mounted monitor (and at least one by direct injection), that includes a tracker, tazer, heart/respiration monitor, and can inject more "sleepy time cocktail" or an antidote. Given that it can keep track of vitals, it's considered useful even against a Speedster that can presumably speed up his metabolism.
    "I’m tempted to say Harem’s hypospray uses M99, same as Dexter, since it’s extremely powerful and just as importantly, the antidote is nearly instantaneous, but reading up on it, it sounds so dangerous that I imagine Arc-SWAT would have something less risky. Still, if they’re being constantly monitored by the wristband, maybe it’s a reasonable use case."

    Web Videos 
  • Exaggerated in the D20 Live game for 2012. The party are offered wine by the lord's daughter they're supposed to be retrieving, which turns out to be drugged. Spoony, Birdman, and Roo's characters all drink it and get knocked out; Linkara shows more Genre Savvy and simply has his character smell the wine, but he gets drugged all the same. Lewis rightfully points out that if the drug is that strong it probably should have killed the guys who actually drank it, but they end up accepting it as an example of Railroading as a necessary evil.

    Western Animation 
  • Dan Vs.: Averting this is a plot point. When Elise has Chris dress up as Dan in "Dan Vs. the Ninja", she points out how a dose of poison meant to kill Dan, delivered by poison dart, won't kill the much taller and larger Chris.
  • The Simpsons: As a bear wanders through Springfield in "Much Apu About Nothing", Chief Wiggum tries to shoot it with a tranquilizer dart. The first shot hits Barney instead, while the second shot connects. Both Barney and the bear react the same (despite the differences in time of administration, body mass, constitution and species), and there is no indication that the tranq shot into Barney gave him any long-term ill effects. Then again, this is Barney we're talking about; mere tranquilizers are nothing compared to what he puts his liver through on a regular basis. In fact, he only succumbs after he pulls out the dart, breaks it in half, and drinks the contents.
  • Averted in American Dad!: Stan drugs Steve and his friends with spiked cheeseburgers so he can put them in the CIA holograph deck and force them to have outdoor adventures like he had as a kid. Steve, Toshi and Snot immediately nod off after a few bites... but not Barry.
    Barry: Mine's not working!
    Stan: Have three more!
  • The Wild Thornberrys: Averted. Nigel's parka gets him mistaken for a polar bear cub and is shot with a tranquilizer. He spends the rest of the episode practically drunk.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Averted in "Pretty Poison". Poison Ivy's toxic kiss puts Harvey Dent into a coma, but only somewhat impairs Batman. Justified in that Batman got a smaller dose (unlike Harvey, he knew the danger, so he did his best to resist the kiss and started spitting immediately afterwards) and is in prime physical condition.

    Real Life 
  • This trope was tragically averted in the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis. To subdue terrorists who had taken over the theater and who were holding over 800 people hostage, authorities pumped an undisclosed Knockout Gas in through the ventilation system. The gas worked, but killed at least 170 people, including both terrorists and hostages. It may have even killed more.
  • Weirdly enough, this trope can even apply to the same individual. As one builds up tolerance to a particular drug, more of that drug is needed to attain the same effect. In many cases of accidental overdoses, the person gets out of rehab (or some other situation that causes them to stop taking the drugs) and later backslides and starts taking drugs again if not immediately after. Unfortunately they try to take the same dosage as they did before, but because their bodies have had time to lose their previous drug tolerance, the dosage is too high and it kills them. Things get even more complicated when you add in cross-tolerance. This is why conspiracy theories regarding Kurt Cobain's suicide often mention the large amount of heroin found in his system; it might have been a lethal dose were he not such a heavy user with a high tolerance.
  • This is partly why sharing prescription medication is a bad idea. A dosage that works for one person may not work for another. Or, in more serious cases, the same dosage may even harm or kill another. Besides, one should always consult a doctor before starting any new medication. Not only is it safer but it's also legal, so you won't get sent to jail.