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Phlebotinum Muncher

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Spamton, Deltarune

So your ship runs on Unobtainium crystals, or your body is maintained by Nanomachines, or your magic relies on Green Rocks. Surprise! That's exactly what the Monster of the Week likes to eat most. Better keep it away from your Warp Drive, bloodstream, or Bag of Holding...

This trope is when a creature likes to consume whatever Applied Phlebotinum is being used in the story — maybe it even needs to do so to survive, often developing an insatiable Horror Hunger for the stuff. This can vary from a creature that snacks on Green Rocks to a monster called into being by the protagonists' use of Aesoptinum. It overlaps with Phlebotinum Dependence when the creature has to consume the Phlebotinum, although Phlebotinum's main plot purpose must be something other than keeping the Phlebotinum Muncher alive.

Subtrope of Fantastic Diet Requirement.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dirty Pair: Project EDEN had this as a major plot point; the Sadinga monsters fed on Vizorium ore (warp drive fuel), and the fossils they were revived from were being mined for said ore until the Evilutionary Biologist came along.
  • Homunculi in Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) are addicted to the Red Stone and munch on the stuff for extra 'lives'. Red Stones are created by sacrificing human lives and are needed to create the phlebotinous Philosopher Stone, which basically enhances the magical powers of alchemy. In the original manga, the Red Stones simply don't exist. The Homunculi rely directly on Philosopher's Stones (yes, plural) to provide their limited immortality.
  • Kemono Friends: The Ceruleans grow larger by absorbing Sandstar present in the environment and in the bodies of the Friends, making the Ceruleans very dangerous to them: if a Friend is deprived of Sandstar, she turns back to the animal she was before, the other Friends treat this as Death of Personality. Except Kaban, as she was originally a human before.

    Comic Books 
  • There was one Superman story where he arrived at a moon of Krypton (long story short, it drifted away hundreds of years ago) and had to use kryptonite to prevent its Uranium core from exploding. On his search for enough kryptonite he came across a (space)monster that fed on it. He managed to save the planet, but since it was now made of kryptonite, he could never go there again.
  • Since Superman's powers come from the sun, he will start to lose his powers if deprived of sunlight for days on end. This was a plot point in the Crisis Crossover "The Final Night,'' which involved a monstrous Sun Eater that was, well, eating the sun.

     Fan Works 
  • The Dragon King's Temple: Both the Goa'uld and the Asyuntians have incorporated naquadah into their biology, and require a regular supply of the stuff to live. One of the main plot threads is SG-1's efforts to devise a source of bioavailable naquadah for their two Asyuntian guests, and SG-1 speculates that this same necessity is the reason behind the Goa'uld habit of eating their own larvae.

  • Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away:
    • The stories had dragons, mermaids, were-creatures, gods and such that metabolized Mana. This was a kind of environmental metaphor; when human wizards started using up the mana faster than it could regenerate, all the fantastic creatures went *poof*.
    • The ultimate weapon of the setting was a magic disk. Powered by a simple propulsion spell with no speed limiters (and a secondary spell to keep it from tearing itself apart), it simply spun around uselessly and thus wasted all the Mana in the area. Wizards were left powerless, werewolves lost their "were-", and ageless beings suddenly began feeling their age. This is the origin of the Magic: The Gathering card "Nevinyrral's Disk", which does pretty much the same thing.
  • Something similar happened in Xanth when the Demon of the same name temporarily absented himself from the realm.
    • In addition, when Demoness Metria traveled to Mundania, she had to be accompanied by a guy whose talent was to project an 'aisle' of magic around him whenever he was in Mundania, because a minor demon's Mundane form is a dust devil. How the minor demons survived the Time of No Magic (when Demon Xanth left) is a Fridge Logic question.
      • Because they hadn't been introduced to the series yet? Alternately, possibly Hell isn't part of Xanth.
      • It was noted at the Time that the deep region of rock where Xanth abided had soaked up so much magic from his long stay to function as a battery. (There's a village which falsely believes they act as the source of the realm's magic by creating storms to spread magic-charged dust which comes up from the rock nearby - they have no idea of its ultimate source.) Demons were established at the time as already living deep underground where magic was already more powerful due to this, and their personal power somewhat dependent on how deep their society permitted them to reside. Taking in refugees from above would probably let most of them survive during Xanth's absence, or at least not sustained irreversible damage.
  • Ungoliant in The Silmarillion will eat pretty much anything, but magic trees imbued with the primordial light of creation (and shiny elven stones imbued in turn with a spark of that same light) just happen to be delicious.
  • Discworld. Dragons eat magic, and salamanders absorb the magical octarine frequency of light.
  • In one of the interludes for Words of Radiance, second book of The Stormlight Archive, we encounter the larkin, creatures that seem able to suck the titular light out of a person's body. in Oathbringer, we see that they can also drain gemstones, and drain the Evil Counterpart, Voidlight.
  • Gone: in the second book, the aptly named Hunger, the Gaiaphage tries to sabotage the local nuclear power plant so it can eat the fuel, fulfilling its Horror Hunger and giving it the strength to form a body.
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest: The kids are warned when they enter the Great Orcus Labyrinth not to eat monster meat because it's toxic. After he falls off a bridge into the depths of the labyrinth, Hajime eats part of a monster carcass out of desperation and nearly dies, surviving only because drinking the Ambrosia produced by a Spirit Stone he discovers heals him. He mutates as a result, gaining the ability to eat monster meat safely and absorb new powers from it, and eats his way down through the rest of the dungeon.

    Live Action Television 
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Return of Doctor Mysterio," the Doctor meets a young boy, Grant, who is home sick, and when he passes a small bit of Phlebotinum for Grant to hold, saying, "Take this," Grant misunderstands, thinks it's medicine, and swallows it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The atog from Magic: The Gathering eats magical artifacts, and its various relatives eat other magic-related things: the auratog eats enchantments, the chronatog eats time (you can give it a big stat boost by skipping your next turn), and the atogatog eats other atogs.
    • Magic also had a reference to "The Magic Goes Away" in the form of Nevinyrral's Disk—they were more willing to pull Sdrawkcab Name tricks in the earlier days of the game.
  • Most creatures in GURPS that use magic naturally have a dependency on background Mana and will rapidly die if totally deprived of it.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had a number of creatures that feed on magic, such as the Disenchanter.
  • Shadowrun. Strain III bacteria eats magic and lives in astral space. It can drain magic out of an Awakened creature, causing it to weaken and die.
  • Skaven, Grey Seers, or Warlocks from Clan Skyre can munch down Warpstone in order to fuel their spells. Can turn them into Chaos Spawn though.
    • All Skaven eat Warpstone - it's what made them giant sentient rats as opposed to just rats, and it's a large part of what keeps them that way.
  • Promethean: The Created: Pandorans and Prometheans who have entered the Refinement Of Flux are incapable of generating Vitriol (essentially liquid Character Development) and must steal it from Prometheans who are in a true Refinement.

    Video Games 
  • Metroid Prime/Dark Samus from the Metroid Prime Trilogy (and other Phazon enhanced creatures) needs Phazon to live.
  • The black mages and many other monsters in Final Fantasy IX are spawned from concentrated Mist, which is a decidedly evil fog composed of souls of the dead that have been blocked from going to the afterlife.
  • Rock/Ice/Lava Monsters in Rock Raiders eat energy crystals, and will destroy your buildings to get at them. If destroyed the crystals they have eaten can be recovered. Slimy slugs are similar, except they suck the energy out of them instead.
  • World of Warcraft has mana wyrms and arcane elementals that feed on mana, often appearring in locations with large amounts of loose mana.
  • The Adephagos of Tales of Vesperia gets summoned into the world by an overflow of Aer, a magical substance that all the machines in the world consume to function.
  • The Zerg in StarCraft use minerals and vespene gas as resources by metabolizing them.
  • The main character, splicers, and little sisters in BioShock require the substance ADAM (created by a certain species of sea slug). At first they use it for cosmetic upgrades and fun but frivolous superpowers, then to survive a superpowered arms race as the city crumbles around them; eventually, long term use (enough to drive you mad, and possibly semi-randomly mutate you and get you to the point you're referred to as a "splicer") gets you psychologically dependent on it; keep going, and you need fresh intake of ADAM and the occasional plasmid just to keep your body from completely breaking down into a puddle of goo. Fortunately, that pleasant experience doesn't show up anywhere in the games.
  • In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Herba Mystica is a family of rare herbs capable of curing any ailment that Team Chef Arven needs to make speciality sandwiches to heal his partner Mabosstiff. However, each one is located in a cave guarded by a Titan Pokémon, which were Pokémon that continually ate them and grew into massive kaiju.
  • The Scrin in the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series are the aliens who created Tiberium, and their entire race is completely and hopelessly addicted to it.
  • The Corruptor demon from Nexus Clash has the power to devour spells and enchantments in a world that is chock full of them. It eventually gets so bad that even shooting at one with a magical gun and missing is enough to forfeit the weapon's magical-ness to the demon.
  • The monsters of Evolve can eat the bohrium that powers the fancy tech that advanced society depends on. This is enough to count as food towards evolution, and with enough will envelop their claws in a burning aura.
  • Grey Mann from the Team Fortress 2 comics is kept alive by a life extension machine on his back, which requires a steady supply of Australium to keep working.
  • Styx from Styx: Master of Shadows consumes amber, the substance used in his universe to power machinery and also as a dangerous drug, to fuel his magical abilities and is already addicted to it at the start of the game.
    Styx: Amber. I need it now. My head is gonna explode!

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Elders in lonelygirl15 need to receive trait positive blood transfusions on a semi-regular basis to survive.

    Western Animation 
  • Inverted in Futurama: Nibblonians excrete Dark Matter, which is used as starship fuel.
  • The energon in all incarnations of Transformers. It powers their weapons and ships and is also their currency and food. This means Transformers eat money and starship fuel. And in every series except for G1 and Ri D, it's a natural resource that the Forever War has made quite scarce, and making substitutes either is impossible or what you get comes with nasty side effects. Drugs Are Bad, mmmkay? In those series, though, it was possible to create energon from other energy sources. For them that makes it easy: oil, gas, etc. is a handy source of food and fuel. It makes them Phlebotinum Munchers to us instead. Many a G1 episode and comic revolves around raids on everything from oil wells to hydroelectric dams to concerts (the music is somehow made into energon, causing it to sound just horrible to the listeners.) for energon.
  • In Aladdin: The Series, the resident Phlebotinum Muncher is a one-eyed creature called the thirdak, which eats magic. It tried to eat Genie and managed to eat half of Carpet.
  • Arabus, the villain in the My Little Pony 'n Friends "Bright Lights" story, gets power from eating ponies' shadows, which depletes the ponies of their energy and strength.
  • Lord Tirek in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic consumes magic from all magical beings in Equestria, including the strength of Earth ponies and Discord's chaos-based magic.
  • Care Bears (1980s) has the cloud worm, who eats the clouds that the Care Bears live on, and in a later series the cloud monster, which does the same.