Follow TV Tropes


Phlebotinum Overdose

Go To

Zola: Violetta, you pathetic loser! Did you just try to poison me? Ahahahaha! As if that could stop me now!
Violetta: I know that. That wasn't poison, that was more Movit 11. Now all I have to do is watch you combust.

Applied Phlebotinum is useful, so applying more phlebotinum should be more useful, right?

Wrong! When the amount of phlebotinum reaches critical mass, bad things happen. Maybe it summons an Eldritch Abomination, maybe it makes a black hole, maybe it goes more and more unstable and eventually blows up. If the phlebotinum was already dangerous, expect the danger to increase exponentially.

May cross over with Aesoptinum when the Aesop is "All things in moderation." Not to be confused with Phlebotinum Overload, which is when the phlebotinum loses stability by itself instead of causing it to someone. Superpower Meltdown is this on the individual level. See also Going to Give It More Energy. Compare Pent-Up Power Peril where the power comes from the inside, rather than the outside, but ends with similar results if care is not taken.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: The magical potion grants the user enhanced strength and resilience, with the duration of the effect being proportional to the amount of potion drunk (in Obelix's case, the effects are effectively permanent). However, as seen in Asterix and Obelix All at Sea, drinking too much potion turns the drinker into stone indefinitely.
  • Blue Wraith: Danarius' sarcophagus is designed to work on elves. Putting a human into it seems to give them a lot more of the same powers that Fenris has ... but also turns them into a ticking bomb that explodes in a blast of lyrium within minutes. The villains are able to exploit this effect by sending a small squad of exploding mooks after the protagonists, as well as the qunari trying to capture the sarcophagus. While they fail at killing any of the heroes, the exploding Tevinters do completely wipe out all the qunari, including the new Viddasala.
  • In the Superman storyline A Mind-Switch in Time, supervillain Euphor gets more and more powerful as he absorbs more negative emotions until he is able to fight Superman face-to-face. Superman beats him by feeding him his negative emotions caused by Krypton's destruction until Euphor becomes frozen into a cocoon of solid energy.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla MonsterVerse fanfiction, Monster X absorbing too much of MaNi/Elder Brother's electrical power for themselves all at once causes their body to begin tearing itself apart under the strain of holding so much power.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Lost Tracks of Time: In the climax, Giratina is ordered to absorb 17 out of 18 of Arceus' Plates, hoping to have more than enough power to take the final plate from Ingo and Emmet. Giratina's body immediately overloaded and randomly began spamming attacks of all different types (sans poison-type, the typing of the missing plate). Then Giratina's wings liquify into Alien Blood with the power to corrode matter and melt off body parts of pokemon it contacts. It took Ingo and Emmet literally jumping into Giratina's body to pull out the plates and save them.

    Film — Animated 
  • In the film Dot and the Kangaroo, the Kangaroo warns Dot not to eat too much of the root that allows her to talk to animals because if she does she'll "know too much," which will make her "miserable."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla:
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. An enemy Mook drinks an entire beaker of Dr. Jekyll's potion (Jekyll's dose fits in a vial) and grows into a berserk monstrosity that makes Mr. Hyde look normal (and that's saying something).
    Jekyll/Hyde: "It's me on a bad day."
  • Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) has stardust as the phlebotinum in question: Adding it to their fodder gives Santa's reindeer their flying abilities. When elf inventor Patch journeys to the human world to prove his worth to Santa, he creates a lollipop that has a bit of stardust as an ingredient; whoever eats one can temporarily fly. They're hugely popular, and the Corrupt Corporate Executive who markets them demands that the follow-up should have more stardust added, so the effects will last longer; the villains subsequently learn that the resultant candy canes explode if kept near a heat source (i.e., a radiator) too long. This is because the stardust, which originated at the cold North Pole, becomes unstable when exposed to too much heat.
  • In one of the futures in X-Men: Days of Future Past, three different Sentinels overload Bishop with too much energy to absorb, causing him to explode into a fireball.

  • In Marc Cabot's novella And All His Heart's Desires, the Jade Throne, an artifact of the Indian goddess Rati, gives the first worshipper who touches it a small blessing from Rati once per lunar month. When the hero of the story finds it, it hasn't been touched for hundreds of years. He touches it. Hilarity ensues. (Did we mention that Rati is the Goddess of Sex?)
  • In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Willy Wonka gives the three grandparents who refuse to get out of bed pills which can de-age them exactly 20 years per pill — they greedily decide that they should split the whole bottle, and because they don't do the math two are rendered babies and one of them negative two years old. This is played more for horror than humor, as is the result when the negatively aged Grandma Georgina is brought back to this plane of existence via an overdose of an aging serum counterpart — she's several hundred years old until a correct dose of the de-aging pills restores her to her original age.
  • Magic in Discworld has some ugly quantity limitations.
  • The Magic: The Gathering novel Time Spiral, Radha uses this to defeat Greht. She breaks his hold on his horde, he gets it back by starting a ridiculously powerful spell, and Radha starts feeding him more mana. This doesn't end well for him.
  • Rebuild World: Several Heroic RRoD happen because of this.
    • Akira relies on Healing Potion based on surgical Nanomachines and having too many of them active in his blood stream causes him to fall into a coma multiple times. He needs to get treatment periodically to scrub them from his system. Akira eventually manages to stop it both by getting more expensive medicine that leaves less residue and by taking naps during missions.
    • The Ninja Maid bodyguard Shiori takes a combat stimulant which gives her something called “compressed time” (a more grounded equivalent to Bullet Time), that puts a lot of stress on her brain. Taking too much is a strategy she uses out of Undying Loyalty to Reina as a Death or Glory Attack that leaves her virtually comatose, which happens a few times. Much later in the story, Erio falls into a coma for days from overdosing on a similar drug overworking himself during a Virtual Training Simulation.
  • In She, Ayesha made herself immortal centuries ago by passing through a magical flame. When she wants her present-day lover to join her in immortality she tries to show him the flame is harmless by passing through it again, something she hadn't done since the first time. It turns out even after centuries, a second dose is one too many.
  • There Is No Epic Loot Here, Only Puns: Dungeons are abundant in mana, which is endlessly useful, but someone who hasn't adapted to it will only be able to safely stay for a few hours before the mana overload starts to poison them. Grimnoir is rescued in time and narrowly survives, but with lasting side effects, the dungeon mana having seeped into him and altered him.
  • WIEDERGEBURT: Legend of the Reincarnated Warrior: Using too much spiritual power all at once can cause a lethal degenerative condition called spiritual poisoning, where the spiritual pathways in the body become clogged (like fat deposits blocking an artery). It can be healed with the right knowledge, which results in the pathways becoming more resilient to such damage. Fay is suffering from spiritual poisoning when Eryk meets her near his training area, and is able to cure her with knowledge he gained in his previous life from his Second Love, a woman who is heavily implied to have been Fay after surviving with her condition for decades.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Smallville, there is Bizarro. He reacts in the opposite manner to kryptonite than Clark does. He gains strength from green kryptonite, which depowers and poisons Clark. When exposed to blue kryptonite, which strips Clark of his powers for as long as it's in contact, he gains a massive power boost and explodes.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Too Short a Season", a retired Insane Admiral takes his wife's share of age-reversing medication as well as his own. He de-ages so quickly that all his bodily systems become totally unstable, and he dies.
  • In the end of the Doctor Who serial "Planet of the Spiders", the Great One, leader of the spiders, assembles a web of crystals that contain power — but when she completes it, the power destroys her. Those crystals are psychic super-amplifiers, so she is more or less literally destroyed by her ego.
  • Stargate SG-1 has an episode where Daniel Jackson learns to use the sarcophagus for reasons other than coming Back from the Dead. He starts to become Drunk with Power before the team brings him back to the base, where he goes through painful withdrawal symptoms.
  • In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "Last Supper", a scientist pursues an immortal woman to unlock the secret of eternal life. He injected a tiny bit of her blood into a rat, which was still alive decades later. As his age had caught up with him, he decided to attempt the same on himself. He drew a little too much blood, however, causing him to de-age into a pre-fetal puddle of human tissue.
  • In Kamen Rider Build, everyone is assigned a Hazard Level, which is the level of Nebula Gas that their body can safely intake. Most normal humans become Smash when exposed to high concentrations of Nebula Gas, while those with higher Hazard Levels (read: most of the main cast) retain their human forms and can become Kamen Riders (or use similar systems such as the Transteam Gun). However, at higher concentrations, Nebula Gas is a Psycho Serum, which drives the user berserk if they don't have a strong enough will, and even if you can resist it, being infused with Nebula Gas beyond what your body can naturally intake carries the risk of dying if you're defeated and your transformation cancels.
  • CSI: NY: Season 3's "What Schemes May Come" involves a couple of researchers doing a hibernation experiment on a friend who'd volunteered. They started off with very small doses of an unusual chemical (that even stumped experienced M.E. Peyton Driscoll) and slowly increased it, trying to find a safe but effective amount. The friend got impatient and, when they glanced away, turned the dial way up, which knocked him unconscious and eventually leaves him in a vegetative state.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Older versions have "Potion Miscibility": if you combine Magic Potions or drink a potion while under the effects of another potion, you have to roll on a chart to see what happens instead of the normal effects. A few of the effects are desirable, but possible effects include explosions and being poisoned.
    • Forgotten Realms has a few. Too many strong spells released at once tend to interact abnormally until they form one "spell-storm" on the scale up to Fantastic Nuke or overload and warp the Weave powering them. This way several civil wars among the Drow caused total destruction of their cities, supposedly including the creation of Great Rift — geographical feature about 170 miles long and 1000 feet deep. Myth Drannor had large extradimensional pockets built too densely — enough that they began to interfere, distort magic all around and compromised an originally impenetrable city-scale teleport denial ward — which becomes Very Bad News during an attack by a whole army of fiends.
    • In D&D and its successor Pathfinder, the Staff of the Magi is recharged by letting it consume the power of incoming spells. If the user tries to make it absorb more than its capacity, it explodes with enough force to kill a full-grown dragon or suck the user into a wormhole.
  • Many cyberpunk games have some sort of psychological penalty for implanting too much cyberware, such as going insane or dying.
  • Shadowrun: Getting cyberware and bioware installed damages Essence, which is essentially the connection of the body to the soul. While higher grade 'ware can dramatically reduce the impact, having too low essence can, but not always, result in sociopathic tendencies, cyberpsychosis, dissociation, personality loss, and other physical maladies like becoming resistant to cloned replacement parts and picking up a laundry list of allergies along the way. Essence also provides a solid cap on how much modification somebody can take: if Essence reaches zero for whatever reason, the person in question dies.
  • Cyberpunk 2020: Cyberware can lower the user's Humanity, and losing too much causes Cyberpsychosis. The chrome itself doesn't cause an overload, but all the add-ons and DLC that are inevitably added to it will; cyberware that mimics human abilities has an insignificant chance of cyberpsychosis, but adding non-human abilities like flamethrowers, mind control, bullet time, jetpacks-for-feet,etc. will make the user less capable of empathizing with regular humans, and mixing all that extrasensory overload together with drug abuse and psychological damage can drive anyone over the edge.
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Terror Australis, adventure "Old Fellow That Bunyip". The investigators must drive a bunyip upriver by calling "Eleanba Wunda", the name of a terrifying spirit. Unfortunately, if they say the name too often they may summon Eleanba Wunda itself.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Chaos God Tzeentch sometimes rewards his followers with a permanent boost in their magical power. If this raises their magic stat above the usual maximum, they explode.
  • Ars Magica: Characters accumulate magical "warping points" from exposure to strong magic auras, powerful or long-lasting spells (like Longevity Treatments), and other sources. Warping progressively increases the danger and effect of Magic Misfires, and eventually causes the mage to glitch out of reality forever. Muggles overexposed to Warping start to pick up permanent character Flaws instead.

    Video Games 
  • A gameplay example in the Metal Slug series: being hit by certain substances will cause your character to transform into a mummy, zombie or ape, the latter two having some advantages (such as subverting One-Hit-Point Wonder and being able to climb on railings). A second dose is however fatal.
  • While the Metroid Prime series has the already Toxic Phlebotinum Phazon, Corruption gives Samus a way to harness it as Hypermode. If Samus is exposed to large amounts of Phazon or she stays in Hypermode for too long, it overloads and she must dump all of the Phazon in the system or she will turn into another Dark Samus.
  • In The Witcher, you suffer poisoning when you drink potions. This prevents you from taking too many powerups at once. A justified trope since they are poisons, many of which are lethal to non-mutated humans, but not to the resistant Witchers.
  • Overlaps with Deal with the Devil in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters— using Gig's power too much results in a hostile body takeover, and a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • In Dark Souls, the mysterious black soul-like stuff called "Humanity" is useful for all kinds of things, most notably reversing the effects of Hollowing on an Undead. Naturally, players find themselves encouraged to collect as much of it as they can, and several other characters are shown harvesting it for their own goals. On the other hand, the very dark fate of New Londo and the existence of the Abyss (a dimension of pure darkness that causes instant death to anyone who enters it unprotected) suggest that Humanity is dangerous stuff if mishandled. This is then confirmed in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, which shows that the old kingdom of Oolacile was annihilated when its people tried to feed off of a "primeval human"'s mother lode of Humanity, resulting in Body Horror, mass insanity, and the presumed first appearance of the Abyss.
    • In Dark Souls III The Ringed City we learn more about the Abyss and its connection to humanity. Humans are only having trouble handling it because of Gwyn placing a seal of fire on humanity that prevented them from properly channeling the Abyss's power through the Dark Soul.
  • Resident Evil 5 explains that the reason Wesker can perform inhuman feats like avoiding bullets and having super strength is due to an experimental virus within in his body and said virus needs to be kept in check with a specialized serum. Jill suggests to Chris that he should inject Wesker with more of the serum to make the virus unstable. When Chris does so, Wesker writhes in pain and is weakened enough for Chris and Sheva to attack him directly and succeed. Wesker decides to go for the last resort route by infecting himself with Ouroboros to get even stronger.
  • In Undertale, Determination turns out to be a physical substance that can be extracted from SOULs. It's well known that humans have much more of it than monsters — because monsters are made mostly of magic, while humans are made mostly of water, attempting to artificially increase a monster's determination tends to overwhelm their body and melt them. You can see the results of this in the Golden Ending path as the Amalgamates, partially-melted monsters that had "fallen down" and were injected with determination as an experiment in preserving monster SOULs, only to merge together into terrifying abominations that turn out to be pretty much unchanged mentally, so they end up just returning to their families in the end. In any other path, you can see the process directly by killing Undyne, who is so determined not to die at your hands that she naturally generates enough determination to overload her body and melt.
  • A complicated version in Evolve. Patterson tech gives off minkowski radiation, which is agonizing to monsters. However, with enough exposure monsters can mutate, gaining new abilities and appearances. But if they absorb too much, it comes full circle and kills them. In basic terms, phlebotinum is toxic to monsters but they need it to level up and survive against the hunters.
  • Played with in TAGAP. Normally, the titular drug allows increased combat prowess and regenerative capabilities, at the cost of lower intelligence and higher vulnerability to brainwashing; however, protagonist Pablo has been altered to resist the drug's drawbacks while keeping all the benefits. It's still possible for him to temporarily "overdose" on the pill, but this just results in a mild Mushroom Samba and a very useful Bullet Time.
    • The second game, however, plays this straight. When Pablo is exposed to a TAGAP-infused rainfall, the drug is too much even for him: he starts suffering from extreme euphoria and hallucinations, and visibly struggles to stay sane. Luckily, the effects quickly recede after he finds shelter.
  • Downplayed in Hollow Knight. Charms are helpful buffs, but each takes up a certain amount of charm notches, and you're unable to equip charms that exceed the amount of charm slots you have. However, if you keep repeatedly forcing an extra charm on, you can eventually Overcharm yourself, where you're able to exceed your standard amount of charm notches... With the drawback that you take twice as much damage per hit. It's strongly discouraged on normal runs, especially during bossfights, but it's often used against Radiant bosses in the Hall of Gods, since you die in one hit anyway.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In "Feat of Clay, Part 1", two of Roland Daggett's goons catch Matt Hagen trying to steal enough Renuyu to continue concealing his facial disfigurement. They force-feed him a large quantity of the stuff, intending to kill him but instead transforming him into Clayface.
    • In "Bane", Batman defeats Bane by sabotaging his Venom pump, causing a massive overdose.
  • Batman Beyond:
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures has this in the episode "Best Served Cold". Whitney Stane has been over-using the Madame Masque image inducer, and the phlebotinum that powers it has started to affect her brain. Tony has to travel to the arctic to find the raw ore form of the material to help cure her but in the end ends up having to use a small amount from the supply that powers his pacemaker.
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the Gummi Glen Gummis at one point corner Toady and he decides to drink a whole keg of Gummiberry Juice and everyone scrambles back for the reaction for that much a dosage. Sure enough, Toady has a massive overdose that leads him to uncontrollably rocketing back to Duke Igthorn empty handed.
  • In Hero: 108, Mystique Sonia can grow magic bean buns that give the consumer super strength, but in the episode "Lion Castle" she ate too many and just ended up fat and out of shape.

    Real Life 
  • People taking prescription drugs will often grow accustomed to the small amounts they take, and so they overdose when they take more and more to try to compensate. Unfortunately, the effective dose and the safe dose are both determined by different factors, and don't rise at the same rate when it comes to a lot of medications, so doing this means you're liable to, well, overdose. Better to switch up meds.
  • All known life on this planet runs on water as a vital component, and you can even overdose on that. It's safe to say that too much of anything we need could be...unpleasant.


Video Example(s):


Mushroom Overdose

While trying to protect Mario from Lawyer Kong and his Nintendo Ninjas, Meggy tosses a bunch of Mushrooms at a Ninja that just ate one Mushroom.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / PhlebotinumOverdose

Media sources: