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Psycho Serum

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WARNING: Super Serum side effects may include:
Abnormal muscle and bone growth, alopecia, psoriasis, megalomania, and thinking the Hulk's a wuss.

"It's a potion I've invented where, when the patient drinks it, he turns into an axe-wielding homicidal maniac. It's basically a cure... for not being an axe-wielding homicidal maniac! The potential market's enormous!"
Vyvyan, The Young Ones

Super Serum with some unpleasant side effects, most commonly insanity. The Psycho Serum could be the result of questionable government programs Gone Horribly Wrong or freak lab accidents; the user might be unaware of the side effects... or just doesn't care. Assuming, of course, that they actually consented to it in the first place. Consequences include, but are by no means limited to:

Since the idea is that it makes one more likely to be victorious (usually in battle) despite the above, it's closely associated with the concept of Race To The Bottom.

A form of Drugs Are Bad. Not to be confused with Power-Upgrading Deformation, where the ugly appearance is the cause of the superpowers, not a side effect. See also Bottled Heroic Resolve, when this trope is applied systematically. See Chemically-Induced Insanity for cases where causing insanity in the user was the whole point to begin with.

This item is available in the Trope Co. Catalog


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    Anime & Manga 
  • AKIRA has super drugs that either give Psychic Powers or kill the user messily, the latter being the more common result. Tetsuo is dependent on these at first but gives them up after discovering that they dampen his potential.
  • Assassination Classroom has tentacle cells to be injected into your body. The good side effects are vastly increased power, kinetic vision, and versatility thanks to the Combat Tentacles you gain. The bad side effects are searing pain, violent meltdowns, reduced intelligence, and single-minded tenacity; even if you want to stop, the tentacles won't let you. When Itona finally has his tentacles removed, the lack of these side effects makes him act like a completely different person. On the other hand, since Kayano never used her own tentacles, she was able to withstand the tentacles' searing pain as well as avoid the other side effects for the better part of a year, for her vendetta's sake. Only when she actually decided to use them did her sanity take a nosedive, and the tentacles strained her body to potentially lethal levels; she was thankfully saved in time.
  • In Black Cat, one minor character (Gyanza Rujike) drank the Tao juice, allowing him to access a superpower. For him, he could increase his muscle mass drastically, eventually being able to block bullets with his biceps. When he comes across the heroes, he loses, and returns, putting his whole being into increasing his muscles. He dies from using too much energy and degenerates into a shriveled husk.
  • City Hunter has Angel Dust, basically an exaggerated version of the Real Life drug with the same name (also known as PCP). Taking it gives Super-Strength, invulnerability to pain (to the point the only way to take the subject down quickly is to destroy the brain or behead him. If you don't hit the right spot, a subject may even survive a headshot for a few seconds), and it can prolong a dying man's life long enough to heal lethal wounds, but as side effects, the subject won't register any damage he suffers and bleed out faster as he moves, the Super-Strength is obtained by disengaging the natural limits that prevent the muscles from tearing the human body apart, the subject is easily Brainwashed, and withdrawal symptoms will cause a seizure and kill the subject almost all times. Of all those who were given the drug, only two survived both the mission and the withdrawal, and one of them ruined his arms with his own temporary Super-Strength and a powerful electrical shock.
    • City Hunter Rebirth features two more Angel Dust survivors, and adds another horrifying particular: the survivors remember everything they did under the effect, and have to deal with the horrifying mental trauma — trauma that gave them the name of "Devastated". Of the four Devastated between both series, Ryo and JJ are borderline suicidal (Ryo needing a loved one to keep him from eating his gun, and JJ looking for a better fighter that would kill him) and Python is emotionally dependent on his brother and often likes to destroy anything in sight, with only Mick Angel maintaining the same mental health he had before being given the drug... and still getting extremely emotionally attached to Kozue who nursed him back to health, kickstarting their romance.
  • Cowboy Bebop has the Red Eye serum, a drug that is sprayed into the eyes. In "Asteroid Blues", bounty head Asimov Solensan uses a "purer" form called "Bloody Eye" which speeds up reflexes to superhuman levels and allows perception in Bullet Time. However, withdrawal causes vomiting, trembling, and bloodshot eyes. He also becomes increasingly violent and irrational while on it.
  • The Dark Spores from Digimon Adventure 02 might qualify for this. The Dark Spores increase the intelligence and physical abilities of their hosts, but they also warp their personalities into something evil. The thing is that the Dark Spores feed on the darkness that their hosts already have in them. Overcoming said darkness and discovering the light in them reverses the effects of the Dark Spores.
  • Use of the B303 Devilfish of Eureka Seven requires the wearing of a painful-looking apparatus on the head that shoots reflex-enhancing drugs straight through your sinuses. It is stated to be outright required in order to humanly operate the machine, which has no performance limiters, or defense for that matter. For obvious reasons, it's mentioned not-so-subtly that this is something you would not want to use on a regular (let alone semi-regular) basis.
    • Also, Anemone takes — or is forced to take — injections of some sort of Psycho Serum for piloting TheEnd, which suppresses her headaches but makes her psychotic and vicious. She quits it by the end of the series.
  • Gasaraki has the Eyeglobulum, which when injected into a person give them the same quantum abilities as Yushiro, enhancing the way they pilot their Mecha. However, as a side effect that always occurs, said person will quickly turn psychotic, adopt animalistic behavior and have nosebleeds, with a 25 percent chance of lapsing into a coma and a 50 percent chance of dying from cardiac arrest.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED has Gamma Glipheptin, a stimulant given to the Earth Alliance's enhanced pilots that boosts their stamina and reaction speed, but has horribly painful withdrawal symptoms (and since only the Alliance can make it, the pilots can't defect).
    • A modified version appears in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. By this point, the drug has been refined to the point where it takes a full day's withdrawal to kill the user and not the few hours from SEED. The results are Super Soldiers who while less powerful than the original trio, are saner, and thus able to follow orders and go undercover more effectively.
  • The eponymous chemical warfare agent in MW has effects that turned Michio Yuki Ax-Crazy.
  • The plot of My Hero Academia: Vigilantes, a Spin-Off of My Hero Academia, revolves around the dangerous drug Trigger. Although it doesn't have serious known side-effects, (sans the users going One-Winged Angel if overdosing it) it causes whoever takes it to go on an uncontrollable rampage while enhancing their Quirk. When a group of villains becomes intent on spreading it, the vigilante heroes take action against it. Later on, the drug is used as a way to make promising users permanently stuck in their One-Winged Angel forms, aptly named "Next-Tier Villains", capable of handling even more Trigger in their systems. The Trigger drug makes it into the main series while Kirishima is working with Fatgum, where he chases down a thug with a Quirk that only allows him to essentially create box cutter-sized blades from his body. After dosing up on Trigger, he becomes much more deadly and his blades become much longer.
  • Orochimaru of Naruto created this effect in his finalized curse seal. When activated, it releases an enzyme into the user's body that greatly enhances strength, speed, and chakra levels even before activating the second stage's horrific transformation. Side Effects Include...: near-berserker aggressiveness, rapid chakra depletion, and insanity given prolonged usage. A rare side effect may cause complete disintegration of body while still alive. Nine of ten recipients note cases of sudden death due to curse seal application. Curse seals are not for everyone; don't check with a doctor as Orochimaru will give you one anyway.
  • One Piece:
    • The Energy Steroid drug used by the New Fishman Pirates grants incredible power, especially if the user takes in a crapload of them at once like Hody Jones tends to do. It shaves off the user's lifespan, though, and overdosing on them can lead to extreme pain and addiction. As well as, eventually, Rapid Aging.
    • Also, the "candy" Caesar Clown gives the kids he kidnaps to Punk Hazard. They are part of a long project to create giants, so he needs a way to keep them in check, which is the NHC10 drug he feeds to the kids. It makes them drug addicts, and they go crazy and will die if denied the "candy" for too long. Even when they do take it, it can sometimes cause Hallucinations, and if taken in large doses, causes Blood from the Mouth, excruciating pain and near-death (Good thing Chopper was there to stabilize a victim's condition when it happened). Unlike most examples on this page, it can be used as actual medicine, but it requires so much medical skills and knowledge that only a handful of selected doctors are allowed to use it.
  • Soul Eater: Black Blood covers insanity (and by the Anime universe's extension, alas, evil), addiction, theoretically shorter life expectancy, and a Superpowered Evil Side.
  • The Euphoric Virus in Speed Grapher is essentially this, given that when the Big Bad contaminates products with a strain of it, the murder rate in Japan skyrockets. At least in the case of the hero and Big Bad, overusing Euphoric powers has negative impacts, and while it's ambiguous whether it actually drives you insane (it's averted with The Hero, Big Bad, and The Dragon), if you're crazy to begin with, it makes you crazier.
  • The later arcs of Tokyo Crazy Paradise revolve around a drug that greatly increases physical abilities while either driving users insane or rendering them highly suggestible.
  • Witch Hunter Robin has a green liquid that prevents military Men in Black from being harmed by witch powers... until they go insane/scream/flip out.

    Card Games 
  • In the CCG Magic: The Gathering, most Red/Black creature-enhancing abilities tend to take this route. Take, for example, the flavor text of Brute Force, the reimagining of Green's iconic Giant Growth: "Blood, bone, and sinew are magnified, as is the rage that drives them. The brain, however, remains unchanged — a little bean, swinging by a strand in a cavernous, raving head."
    • The classic Unstable Mutation. +3/+3, but takes a cumulative -1/-1 penalty every subsequent turn — and Defence 0 means death.

    Comic Books 
  • "The Battlin' American", Daniel Clowes' parody of Captain America, goes through heroin-like withdrawal symptoms if he doesn't get a regular dose of super-serum. Too bad the thugs who steal it from him don't know about this.
  • Compound V from The Boys is a peculiar example. While the superheroes created with the serum display several symptoms associated with this trope, it's never stated that Compound V had anything to do with turning the subjects into rampaging psychopaths and/or ruthless narcissists. It seems the myriad of mental diseases and personality disorders were merely a by-product of growing with the powers granted by the compound. The only negative side-effect observed in the comic is that there's a chance for superheroes to the revived by the serum after being killed... as braindead zombies prone to soil themselves.
  • The DCU:
    • In Action Comics, Captain Strong (DC's lawyer-friendly Expy of Popeye) discovered a form of alien seaweed he dubbed sauncha that gave him enough super-strength to go toe-to-toe with even Superman. Unfortunately, it also messed with his sense of reason, leading him to try and kill a Corrupt Corporate Executive and later Superman for protecting him. After going through a painful withdrawal that was explicitly compared to drug addiction, the Captain swore off sauncha for good, leaving him as "just" a Charles Atlas Superpower.
    • Batman:
      • The villain Bane uses the drug Venom to boost his already considerable strength to titanic levels. In the DC Animated Universe, he eventually withered into a coma from overuse. He gave up the drug for years in the comics, but post-reboot he's back on the stuff.
      • Venom was originally introduced as a Super-Soldier drug. Batman became addicted to it, which caused him to become violent and prone to crazy laughing fits. He had to spend a month isolated in the Batcave to beat the withdrawal and addiction. Variants on the drug in that same story would kill anyone who tried to get clean after just one dose. Later stories revealed that it was a modification of the Miraclo drug used by the superhero Hourman (below), though with the 1-hour limitation removed, thus making Venom Miraclo's Evil Knockoff though it's more of a Shoddy Knockoff Product as Miraclo, despite the time limit, makes you strong and durable enough to tank hits from a rhino and lift weight well into the multi-ton range.
      • Predating Venom is the "Monster Serum" made by Hugo Strange, first in the Golden Age, but eventually re-introduced into modern comics. The subject becomes larger and more powerful than Bane; the Golden Age version made Monster Men strong enough to tear out elevated train supports but reduces the subject's mind to little more than that of the stereotypical caveman's.
      • In between the Monster Serum and Venom is the chemical concocted by Teen Genius Mark Desmond, the original Blockbuster, which gives him a large, super-strong body but similarly reduces him to a childlike level of intelligence.
      • Some incarnations of Clayface are explicitly driven to crime and evil by the possibly supernatural properties of the mysterious claylike substance empowering them.
      • Inverted in Batman: The Black Mirror, in which James Gordon, Jr. doses baby formula with a chemical that might cause permanent psychopathy but does not grant superhuman powers, though he does it because he believes that psychopathy is innately superior to sanity.
      • The Elseworld Batman: Two Faces has Bruce Wayne create a serum from the Twilight Orchid that he hopes to use to cure the psychosis of his friend Harvey Dent after he's become the disfigured criminal Two-Facenote . Bruce finds that consuming the formula himself gives him greater strength and endurance, but at the cost of turning him into the Joker.
    • The Flash:
      • Jerry 'Speed' McGee used the experimental Steroid B-19 to give himself Super-Speed powers and become the supervillain Speed Demon. However, the drug also distorted his body and twisted his mind. He became a psychotic killing machine, driven only by rage, malice, and heartbreak.
      • Early in Wally West's tenure as the Flash, we're introduced to Velocity 9, a drug that temporarily grants Super-Speed, but with the result being that it causes severe damage to a person's mental well-being and physical health. It's created and marketed by Vandal Savage and is also used by the estranged husband of Wally's then-girlfriend Tina McGee, causing him to become the Speed Demon.
    • Justice Society of America: Hourman used the drug Miraclo to gain superpowers for one hour, overused it, and became addicted. Though he's since beaten the addiction, he continues to fight crime with the drug, constantly battling his old habits.
    • In Robin (1993), Strader Pharmaceuticals develops a drug that's meant to give the user super-strength; while it does, it is also addictive, makes them incredibly violent, and slowly starts breaking down their bodies, killing them horrifically and painfully. When they realize the side effects, they hire mercenaries to quietly hunt down, kill and dispose of the bodies of everyone who took their concoction.
    • Teen Titans:
      • Deathstroke was the result of the military's experiments in producing a Super-Soldier. The formula used left him a crippled wreck for months or years, with brief periods of increased strength and intelligence. Later, after the military cut him loose, Slade revealed that he'd started faking the bouts of weakness at some point to get out on his own.
      • Deathstroke's son, the first Ravager, was given treatments by H.I.V.E. to turn him into Deathstroke's equal. Unfortunately, the treatments ended up killing him, which was H.I.V.E.'s plan all along.
      • Deathstroke's Psycho Serum has been shown to drive anyone else using it insane, including his wife, his daughter, and Batgirl. At one point, the serum also granted its users immortality, but this has been glossed over in recent years.
  • Empowered has a variant — Mayfly gives you Mad Scientist-level genius, at the cost of filling your brain with tumors that kill you within forty-eight hours. And that's only when it works — which is point two percent of the time. Mostly it just kills you.
  • Henchgirl: Monsieur Butterfly has Dr. Maniac inject Mary with L-47, known as "Evil Serum", to correct her after her conscience prompts her to leak an orphanage corruption scheme to the press. Mary then becomes more reckless and crueller, culminating in her trying to kill Amelia out of jealousy, when Amelia was just teaming up with Fred as crimefighters, not girlfriend/boyfriend.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • In the prequel series The Fall of Deadworld, the Dark Judges use a version of their dead fluids to make people go kill-crazy. The ones that best respond to the stuff become new recruits.
    • In the sequel to that story, it's shown that even the regular Judges were injected with aggressors and deinhibitors from their training as cadets onwards to make them compliant thugs. It didn't work on the future Judge Death because he was already a psychopath.
  • "Condition Red" from Kick-Ass, a secret chemical compound to be used only in emergencies. It's designed to give Hit-Girl the strength of ten men and make her even more violent. It's probably cocaine.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: While Dr. Jekyll's potion in the classic story is not originally a super-power drug, the one in the League stories is. You see, an element of the classic story is that Hyde gets stronger as Jekyll gets weaker (Hyde's drives give Jekyll strength, while Jekyll's morals only restrain Hyde). By the time of the first League book, Hyde is a superpowered ogre because Jekyll is reduced to a sickly, emaciated wreck.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, early on had to ingest Pym Particles like a drug to grow or shrink, at least until it became natural for his body to produce them (an effect caused by overuse of them), which had a demonstrative effect on his mental health; even as early as the '60s, it was shown that it caused anger problems and left him unstable. The Wasp used the same but had no such issue (nor did Scott Lang, Cassie Lang, or Eric O'Grady), which is later clarified as being because Hank's mental problems were largely unrelated, as he actually just suffered from bipolar disorder, and Pym Particles were merely making his existing condition worse.
    • This is primarily why attempts to reproduce Prof. Erskine's work in Project Rebirth that created Steve Rogers' enhancements into Captain America proved a continual failure. The known list of failures in the main Marvel universe is:
      • 295 African-American soldiers who volunteered to be test subjects, as told in Truth: Red, White & Black. The experiments produced five Super Soldiers (of them, only Isaiah Bradley, also known as the Black Captain America, survived their missions in World War II), but were unable to reproduce the original serum.
      • Soldier Clinton McIntyre was given the actual Super Serum against Erskine's authorization... only for him to go berserk with pain and then have a heart attack: as Erskine and the director of Project Rebirth knew but McIntyre and the general who gave the serum didn't, the subject needed to take a series of additives before the serum and the Vita-Rays. Due to his having taken part in the real deal, A.I.M. was later able to repair his body and make it as he had taken the Super Serum.
      • William Burnside, the Captain America of the 1950s, took a Nazi version of the Super Serum. Thanks to it he became stronger and faster than Cap, but without the Vita-Rays he was slowly driven mad, resulting in him attacking random people for being "commies"... which included racist violence against random Hispanics and African-Americans.
    • Nuke from Daredevil is a Sociopathic Soldier hooked on super-drugs — 'reds', 'whites', and 'blues' — that regulate his emotions, with 'reds' driving him into a homicidal fury. Of the three drugs, he's the most taken with the reds, frequently asking his superiors for them. However, at least one retcon states that the pills are actually placebos and that he was driven insane by Wolverine as part of the process of turning him into a killing machine.
    • Originally Wade Wilson, a mercenary dying of cancer, the man currently known as Deadpool elected to be given an artificial Healing Factor to help cure his cancer. It didn't work all that well. He received a healing factor but as a side effect, his cancer got worse, meaning that his entire body is constantly in flux between being eaten by cancer and being healed. Also the process seems to have left him very, very, very insane, though he would consider that a benefit.
    • The drug that gave Cloak and Dagger their powers was tampered with and forcibly administered to Wolfsbane and Sunspot in New Mutants. Wolfsbane got Dagger's light powers and Sunspot got Cloak's Darkshroud powers, but both of them were out of control and left destruction in their wake. Eventually Cloak and Dagger show up to absorb the powers, and then sorceress Magik severs the New Mutants' ties to the powers completely.
    • In New X-Men, "Kick" is a highly addictive drug that also acts as a super-steroid for mutant powers. It turns pathetic mutant-wannabe nerds into the U-Men, vivisection-happy domestic terrorists. It also turned Xorneto into someone willing to recreate the Holocaust against the ordinary humans of New York, when the real Magneto would never go that far (Ultimate Marvel Magneto, on the other hand...). It was responsible for Quentin Quire's temporary Ascension To A Higher Plane Of Existence following the chaos of Open Day. What do you expect for something made at least in part from Sublime, an eons-old Eldritch Abomination?
    • The Sentry took "the Professor's secret formula" to become the Golden Guardian of Good, at the expense of developing a second, independent persona, the Void, that was the world's greatest villain. Later it was revealed that the Sentry was originally a junkie who broke into a lab and swallowed a random tube of chemicals to get high. It's never made clear if Robert Reynolds's agoraphobia is a symptom of the serum or something he already had. Regardless, he's developed much more severe mental problems from being the Sentry.
    • Spider-Man:
      • The Green Goblin's juice seems to cause dissociative identity disorder in exchange for Super-Strength and rapid healing. The original formula was created by Mendel Stromm and was acquired after Norman Osborn sent him to jail for embezzlement. While testing the formula it blew up in his face. In Norman's case he was already a bad man, the serum just caused him to go from a Corrupt Corporate Executive to a full on bomb-throwing Supervillain.
      • The Hobgoblin claimed that his version of the Goblin formula was perfected to remove the insanity. On the one hand, he did test it on another subject and altered the formula before he took it himself. On the other hand, well, he was the freaking Hobgoblin, and suggesting he was nuts was his Berserk Button. Something of a moot point, since he died and took the formula variant with him until he came back, anyway(The dead guy was actually a pawn for the real deal).
      • Stan Carter, the original Sin-Eater, was a test subject for yet another serum attempt that turned out to drive people crazy. He managed to live a normal life for a while, but then his police partner was killed, and he had a nervous breakdown that led to him developing an Ax-Crazy split personality that killed some of Daredevil and Spider-man's supporting cast. His criminal career ended when an enraged Spidey beat the tar out of him, leaving him crippled.
      • Shortly before he was captured, the crime lord Mr. Negative used his corrupting touch on Cloak And Dagger to turn them evil. The duo then started taking a drug called Shade that duplicated his power in order to avoid changing back before they could break him out. When they do so, he's darkly amused that not only does he have Cloak and Dagger working for him, he's got the extremely anti-drug heroes taking a psycho serum to stay that way.
    • In Ultimate Marvel, Bruce Banner's attempt at recreating the Super-Soldier serum turns him into the Hulk, then Pete Wisdom's attempt to do the same leaves him with Psychic Powers at the expense of having a head too heavy for his neck. The serum was perfected (aside from the green skin thing) for the She-Hulk. Much like the mainstream, the OZ super-soldier serum proves to be this for Norman Osborn after he injects himself with it turning him into a green, fire-ball throwing, Goblin.
    • Wolverine:
      • Members of Weapon X and related programs are subjected to this to enhance their strength, stamina, and government-instilled psychoses.
      • Omega Red is a Soviet counterpart of Captain America with carbonadium tentacles. In his case, the serum gave him Cap's abilities... at the price of wrecking his immune system, forcing him to drain others' life force to avoid dying of some illness, cancer, or just complete collapse of his immune system. Luckily for him, Omega Red was given the failed serum precisely because he already had the mutant power of draining life force, with the tentacles focusing his power and the carbonadium, in conjunction with a device called Carbonadium Synthetizer, having the ability to repair his immune system (for obvious reasons, Omega Red is desperately searching the Synthetizer).
  • In the first issue of Men in Black, Jay and Kay were investigating a cult worshipping a drug known as Berserk, which gave the user super strength, but made them extremely violent, and eventually killed them.
  • FX7 in No Hero is based off of a psychedelic drug already. So, not only does it give you superpowers but it makes you have living nightmares and many of the Levelers had to get into Downers to counter the drug. Oh yeah, there's also a chance that it could make you explode when you first take it.
  • Skull Island: The Birth of Kong: It's heavily implied in this Kong: Skull Island sequel graphic novel that Riccio's over-consumption of the Iwi's medicinal brew comparative to the other expedition members who sample it is instigating and exacerbating his Sanity Slippage; and it might even be the entire cause of his visions of Kong's parents which fuel his conviction that he's on a holy pilgrimage.
  • Transformers:
    • Angolmois in Transformers Beast Wars is derived from Unicron and corrupts anything it touches. When the heroic Razorbeast was injected with it by one of Unicron's minions, it turned him into a nigh-unstoppable berserker, forcing his friends to Mercy Kill him before he fully lost control.
    • In The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Roller is already a Point One Percenter and thus possesses incredible power for a Cybertronian. In spite of this, he develops an inferiority complex due to spending so much time around Outliers (who possess powers not related to their alt-modes) and thus becomes addicted to the performance-enhancing drug C32. This causes serious threats to his health, requiring him to get clean in order to survive.

    Fan Works 
  • Charles Manson Vs The Teletubbies: To activate his One-Winged Angel form, Charles Manson must consume an experimental serum that was said to grant the person who uses it incredible powers, at the cost of their humanity. Upon injecting himself with it, he turns into a lizard-like creature.
  • In The Dark Side of Innocence, Team Rocket has been experimenting with drugs in order to make normal-type Pokemon stronger in battle. Giovanni however decides to give them to weaker members in order to make them aggressive, knowing that the drugs usually lead to death and have caused one member to go on a murderous rampage where he killed his wife and child.
  • Impelled Metamorphosis Potion from Fallout: Equestria. In small doses, it transforms you into an alicorn. In large doses, it transforms you into a psionic Sarlaac lookalike that absorbs the minds of everypony who has been exposed to a smaller dose. The latter happened to Trixie, transforming her into the Goddess, the former to Twilight Sparkle, IMP's inventor. During the course of the story, Littlepip is exposed to enough IMP to mutate her into roughly one-third alicorn, gaining regenerative powers as well as the ability to interface with Enclave cloud computers.
  • In Fractured (SovereignGFC), an Insane Admiral invents JumpPaks that boost combat ability. They also cause (or amplify) Blood Knight/Combat Sadomasochist tendencies, and the one user we are shown becomes Hemo Erotic, smearing blood all over herself. Never mind the Body Horror that comes with JumpPak use — dry, brittle hair and skin, sallow eyes, or turning Ms. Fanservice into an asymmetrically-bulked-up Brawn Hilda.
  • Imperfect Metamorphosis: Marisa utilizes what is apparently a rather excessive amount of magic-boosting concoctions prior to the mass brawl against Yuuka. She, a Badass Normal in comparison to her comrades in the fight, is the only member to make it out of the whole snafu unscathed, at least by Yuuka herself; she's bedridden with intense nausea and hallucinations from the aftereffects later.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: This is one of the major risks of GC-161 exposure, alongside Power Incontinence and outright death. Barbara Mack becomes unusually aggressive after her Emergency Transformation — toward men who were holding her prisoner and endangering her daughter, true, but still, it's not like her.
  • Son of the Sannin: Hero Water doesn't normally have this effect, merely shaving off a small portion of the drinker's lifespan in exchange for a temporary boost in power. However, if a jinchuriki drinks it, it'll cause their Tailed Beast to go berserk, as revealed when Fu takes some during her match in the Chunin Exam Finals... in the middle of a crowded stadium. While no one ultimately gets hurt due to her opponent knocking her out almost immediately afterwards, the event scared her off of tapping into any of her Tailed Beast's power for the next three years (aside from flight, since that's the one thing she has full control over).
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: Fraylan Fire is a combat stimulant used by the Imperial Guard regiment known as the Fraylan Faithful to artificially induce a berserker state in their troops. The drug itself is produced from a naturally occurring substance found in the polluted volcanoes of the Fraylans' homeworld and is extremely toxic — shortening a human's lifespan to just under 40 years.
  • Triptych Continuum:
    • Booster drugs are the only way for a pony to boost his or her magical strength. The drug's effect manifests as a boost ranging from fifteen to fifty percent of the user's original strength, but that strength is obtained by cannibalizing the rest of the body, which means that the stronger drugs have a good chance to kill the user when they run out. In addition, boosters are highly illegal, and all known variants produce visible side effects.
    • Red-tinge is a new drug discovered in A Mark Of Appeal, which when taken remains in the system and slowly but continuously increases the strength of the user's magic, to the point where that magic starts taking over the user's mind. In minotaurs, this causes them to keep getting physically stronger but they become increasingly obsessed with whatever they wanted that strength for, and eventually they die from their own uncontrolled strength snapping their bones and tearing apart their body. In ponies, their mark talent becomes increasingly potent, making them superlative examples of whatever they are marked as but incapable of doing or thinking about anything that is not part of their marked role.
  • With This Ring: One of the alternate versions of the protagonist found a Super Serum that grants Super-Strength and a Healing Factor, and seems safe enough in animal testing. What animal tests couldn't show is that it was designed to remove the instinctive capacity for empathy and compassion, leaving him as an Affably Evil psychopath who actually does achieve some good things in the world, but does it by using Mind Control on selected individuals to make the world work like he thinks it should, without any concern for anyone who gets in his way. And get whatever he wants out of it, like completely rewriting Wonder Woman's personality to be his enforcer and willing Sex Slave. He's popularly known within the fandom as "Tangseid", for using the orange light to achieve tyranny.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live Action 
  • In Army of Frankensteins, Walton has Swanson inject himself with the Frankenstein serum which does turn him into a mutant Super-Soldier, but also renders him a trifle psychologically unstable, as Walton eventually learns to his regret.
  • The Direct-to-DVD Steven Seagal vehicle Attack Force has a villain dumping a drug called CTX into the water supply of Paris to turn them into vampire-like killers.
  • In Before I Hang, Dr. Garth's anti-aging serum was developed using the blood of an executed triple murderer. After her tests it on himself, Dr. Garth is overcome by a sudden urge to kill induced by the presence of an executed murderer's blood in his system.
  • The Crazies (1973) and its 2010 remake is based on a psycho serum being released into the local watershed.
  • Not a serum, but a surgical technique, is used to ease the agony of burn-victim Darkman, soon after his near-death at the hands of Mafia thugs. Unfortunately, the severing of spinal tracts that carry pain signals to his brain also causes extreme moodiness and bouts of uncontrolled rage.
  • In Death Machines, the titular assassins are injected with a drug that turns them into obedient, superpowered killing machines.
  • In Full Eclipse, a special ops team of LAPD officers inject a serum that grants them feral abilities of werewolves. Prolonged use is revealed to lock the user into a static state causing them to permanently grow claws and fangs. It also strips their glands, resulting in a radically degraded appearance.
  • In Horrors of the Black Museum, Bancroft creates a serum that uses on his assistant Rick, which grants Rick the 'gift' of absolute obedience. It also grants him superhuman strength, drives him into a berserk fury, and distorts his face into a hideous mask.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen reduces Doctor Jekyll's serum to this, downplaying the psychological explanation. Here, the formula not only removes the user's inhibitions, but it causes temporary physical changes, as well. However, we only see this happen when The Dragon takes the serum. Not only was he drinking the attempted replication of the Hyde formula, and a whole lot of it, he'd presumably have considerably more malevolent natural tendencies than Jekyll.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Incredible Hulk (2008): Emil Blonsky, though in his case, it isn't serum but Bruce Banner's blood sample that grants him both power and loss of sanity. He gets two shots of Super Serum over the course of the film but that just makes him Drunk on the Dark Side enough to want Banner's blood in him as well when the time comes in order to get his fair rematch with the Hulk.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: A prototype version of the same serum used on Blonsky is used to create the Red Skull. However, unlike the later version used on Steve Rogers, the original serum deforms the Skull's face (hence the name) and drives him mad with delusions of grandeur. Dr. Erskine implies that even Rogers' version can manifest as a Psycho Serum if applied to someone with less than noble qualities, saying that "good becomes great — bad becomes worse". This is why he chose to give the serum to Rogers rather than a different soldier who, while far stronger, was a bully to the other soldiers in boot camp.
    • Captain America: Civil War: It's shown that Howard Stark was finally able to re-create the Original Serum and it was promptly stolen by Hydra and used to create five more Winter Soldiers who were so out of control they had to be placed into cryo permanently.
  • Max Payne has Valkyr redesigned into a super-soldier serum. While it initially shows promise in granting soldiers increased focus, stamina, and reaction speed, repeated or prolonged use ultimately results in schizophrenia, delusions, and ultimately, homicidal behavior. In the climax, Max intentionally overdoses on Valkyr for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, becoming completely unstoppable. He almost dies when the effects wear off, saved only by Heroic Willpower.
  • Office Uprising has an energy drink called Zolt. Originally intended for soldiers to increase their aggression, the first batch was flawed and the drinker is turned into a rampaging psychopath with Tainted Veins as the cerebral cortex erodes.
  • Overlord (2018) features a Nazi-developed serum that can confer near-invulnerability and bring the dead back to life but causes evil tendencies and eventual descent into bestial aggression.
  • In Oz the Great and Powerful, the sinister Evanora effectively gives this (in the form of an apple) to her sister Theodora, ostensibly to ease pain so they can help protect the Emerald City from their enemies. The recipient learns too late that it also renders one heartless and hideous... thus the Wicked Witch of the West, more powerful and vicious than Evanora, is born.
  • The R compound from Pokémon Detective Pikachu disables a Pokémon's higher cognitive functions, causing them to attack anything in sight.
  • The Scanners films:
    • In Scanners, Ephemerol is originally introduced as a scanner suppressant. We discover later that Dr. Ruth originally developed it as a tranquilizer for pregnant women, and that unborn children who are exposed to it become scanners.
    • In Scanners II: The New Order, Ephemerol 2 is highly addictive, and severely debilitating long-term to the scanners. Why they don't just use the earlier version of the drug can best be chalked down to plot convenience.
    • In Scanners III: The Takeover, Ephemerol 3 is an untested new version of the drug. After she takes it, Helena turns evil.
  • Mr. Tony Montana of Scarface (1983) fame achieved partial-implacability through the heavy use of cocaine, which also caused his estrangement from his wife and the death of several of his friends.
  • The Reavers in Serenity were the result of an experimental drug (meant to make people docile) pumped into the air on the planet Miranda. Most of the population became so listless they could not be bothered to eat, but the Reavers had the opposite reaction, becoming mindlessly hyper-aggressive.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy: Oscorp's "human performance enhancers" from Spider-Man can apparently cause "violence, aggression, and insanity". Nevertheless, Norman Osborn decides to test them on himself in order to prove that they work fine and prevent the military from pulling his funding. They work too well and Norman soon becomes the Green Goblin.
  • In Wonder Woman (2017), Doctor Poison creates an inhaler for General Ludendorff that makes him tough enough to take on a goddess hand-to-hand, but also makes him, to be blunt, completely tweak out.

  • Black Rage was thought to be this in The Dire Saga, acting like an amplified version of PCP, granting resistance to damage and strength at the cost of turning you into a berserker and eventually killing you. It's actually vampire blood, and it kills the recipient before turning them into a Draugr.
  • The Spice in Dune is a cornerstone product: it gives a host of benefits like longevity, higher intelligence, and the possibility of Psychic Powers. It is vital to interstellar travel, as Navigators of the Spacing Guild require huge amounts of it constantly in order to perceive the "higher mathematics" needed to safely guide their ships. Drawbacks include addiction, Occult Blue Eyes, Psychic Dreams for Everyone, risk of death from overdosing or withdrawal, mutation into zero-g floating Fish People (for Guild Navigators), and a crippling galaxy-wide dependence. On the planet Dune, the source of the spice (which must flow), addiction, and the blue eyes are the only main problems, though.
  • In Fate of the Forty Sixth, the drug Aggro is used to turn the pilots of the Dragoons into bloodthirsty and very angry fighters. In a moment of weakness, the protagonist resorts to using some and, while it does boost his energy levels from exhaustion to fit-and-fighting, it turns him into a cruel sadist obsessed with drawing blood and hunting his enemies with a predatory mindset. Normally he finds blood disgusting.
  • In Stephen King's book, Firestarter a government organization called the Shop uses a drug called Lot Six on college students (they tell them that it's a harmless hallucinogenic). Lot Six causes the participants to develop various supernatural powers, such as telekinesis and Mind Manipulation, but out of the twelve participants, two die right away, two go insane, and five eventually commit suicide because of it.
  • Forest Kingdom: The Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 5 (Guard Against Dishonor) features a dealer attempting to introduce super-chacal (an even stronger version of the drug chacal) into Haven. The drug turns its users into super-strong madmen who'd murder anyone in their way, even themselves if there's nobody else to attack.
  • Weirdly subverted in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell where the insanity is not a side effect but the reason he's taking it to give him Power Born of Madness.
  • Imriel gets a surprise dose of this in Kushiel's Mercy. Ironically, being flat out of his head for a month turns out to be the best thing for him, given the situation that he's in. Being mad for a month makes him immune to the spell being cast on everyone else in the city.
  • In The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess, the protagonist Anisphia created Ether pills using powdered magicite. Eating one grants her a big boost in physical power, but also causes her personality to become wilder. However, the side effects themselves are fairly mild by the trope's standards, as Anisphia is still able to completely control herself and is never a danger to anything other than her intended targets.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, the "Blood Oil" used by Karsa Orlong's people induces Unstoppable Rage, blood lust and just plain lust. It says something about Karsa's people that they seem to consider the boost in strength the stuff confers icing on the cake.
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, Devi's Powered Armor includes a cocktail of painkillers and illegal combat stimulants, which it automatically injects if she suffers life-threatening injuries. The drugs cause lethal seizures within minutes and are intended as a last-ditch measure to be used in a hopeless situation, allowing Devi to at least go down fighting.
  • Andre Norton's Sargasso of Space described "crax seed," apparently chewed like tobacco (there's a reference to someone having spit out a crax cud). While high on it, you're lots faster, stronger, and smarter than normal. When you come down, you come down hard: "What occurred to them later was not pretty at all."
  • The drug jurda parem in Six of Crows gives Grisha the ability to use their powers to a far greater extent than they are normally capable of — at the cost of becoming addicted to the drug, and slowly dying from it. Only Nina Zenik, the Heartrender, is ever shown to survive a dose of parem, and her powers are irreversibly altered by it.
  • The Spider-Man novels Carnage in New York and Goblin's Revenge feature Spider-Man fighting to prevent a Psycho Serum that causes anyone exposed to it to fall into a murderous frenzy from being unleashed on the public, first by Carnage, and then both Carnage and a new Green Goblin (who's actually the Chameleon in disguise).
  • The potion in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which was used to turn nice-guy Dr. Jekyll into psychopath Mr. Hyde. Probably the Trope Maker.
  • In Valiant by Holly Black, the drug intended to stave off iron sickness is injected by the human characters for a high accompanied by magic powers... but the drug also destroys their system.
  • Played with in The Witcher with Witcher Potions, they can be used by Witchers to grant them various beneficial effects, the twist is that Witchers are alchemically mutated monster hunters created by a process that kills 7 out of 10 candidates and one of the powers they gain from that is the poison immunity necessary to use Witcher Potions in the first place, most ordinary people can't survive drinking Witcher Potions at all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Season 4 of The 4400 revolves around the mass release of "promicin" injections, which have a 50% chance of giving the recipient paranormal abilities, and a 50% chance of killing them outright.
  • Despite her initial reluctance to using them, Beka Valentine in Andromeda uses Flash, a "stim", to boost her reaction times and become a formidable pilot, but eventually quits it.
  • The Mirakuru drug from Arrow. It grants Super-Strength, but also causes outbursts of uncontrollable rage.
  • The Babylon 5 episode "Dust to Dust" features... well, "Dust", which temporarily gives its users uncontrollable telepathic powers which allow them to rip memories from the minds of others. Since the ending of the episode implies that it was developed by the Psi Corps, who were themselves influenced by the Shadows, its psychotic effect was probably deliberate and not just a side effect.
  • In The Boys (2019), like the original comic, the Super Serum Compound V displays several symptoms associated with this trope with the implication that the myriad of mental diseases and personality disorders were merely a by-product of growing with the powers granted by the compound. However, when Butcher gets his hands on a temporary variant of it he states that it was worse than any drug he's ever done as it amplified all the negative feelings he bottles up, while normal Supes don't notice since they've been on the stuff since birth. To make matters worse, it's revealed near the end of Season 3 that the temporary variant Butcher and Hughie have been using causes brain death with prolonged usage.
  • Half the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Beauty and the Beasts" is based on this trope. A high school kid takes Psycho Serum and turns into a big evil monster guy. It's a metaphor for Domestic Abuse, complete with him asking "Why Did You Make Me Hit You?" after Hulking Out.
  • In Carnival Row, the Pact forces develop a lycanthropy serum that they inject their own soldiers with to turn them into werewolves. No word on how any surviving werewolf soldiers are treated there; the only one we see in the Burgue is kept imprisoned.
  • Doctor Who has this in "The Fires of Pompeii". Breathing in the special hot spring vapors activates a person's latent psychic powers, and with time and repetition, turns them into a giant creature made of rock — though this is implied to be more a case of them being infected and overwritten.
  • The second episode of The Flash (1990) sees a former colleague of Tina McGee's testing his formula out first on homeless people then himself. It does not end well.
  • In Gotham, a drug called Viper can make the taker super strong and insane. However, it will dissolve their bones after a few hours, causing a painful death. The finalized version is called Venom.
  • Heroes: The serum that Mohinder uses on himself qualifies, given its less than desirable secondary effects.
  • In The Invisible Man, Darien Fawkes, former Gentleman Thief, can turn invisible thanks to a gland implanted in his brain which secretes a substance nicknamed Quicksilver from his pores. If he uses the Quicksilver too much, it builds up in his bloodstream and drives him insane. The show also inverts this trope, as Darien needs regular injections of a Counteragent to keep him sane. (Naturally, only the Agency has that, forcing Darien to work for them.)
  • Kamen Rider shows have abusers of various serums that let them turn into superpowered monsters as one of the major recurring types of antagonist. Recurring side effects include increased aggression and being locked into monster form after enough uses. The hero uses a more refined version of the same technology as his Transformation Trinket, which also allows him to perform percussive detox.
  • One episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit featured several rapes committed by soldiers due to the aggression-enhancing effects of experimental battle-stims disguised as a malaria vaccine.
  • The Lost Girl episode "Raging Fae" concerns a human prize fighter whose protein shakes are being secretly spiked with Fae sweat which allows him to Hulk Out. Unbeknownst to him and the Fae spiking his drinks, the enhancement is giving him increasingly frequent rage blackouts and slowly killing him.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has the Super Soldier serum again. When John Walker takes it, he suffers from the "good becomes great, bad becomes worse" effect, and since he's suffering from PTSD, a bit of a Jerkass and already going into a Heroic BSoD, he gets worse with the serum amplifying his negative personality traits. At the end, he gets better, becoming the hero he was meant to be, even if that hero isn't Captain America.
    • Sergeant Simpson becomes the secondary antagonist late in Jessica Jones (2015) after re-entering a program based on using red, white, and blue pills to increase combat effectiveness. Trish, who's desperate for superpowers of her own, starts using them and is nearly killed by the side effects.
  • In My Name Is Earl, Randy seeks advice from three meatheads at the local gym on how to stand up to his bully (Joy). They teach him their secret: shark adrenaline, injected directly into the scrotum. It gives Randy a severe case of 'roid rage.
  • Smallville has the drug RL-65, which gives the user a Healing Factor but makes them increasingly angry and aggressive. In the episode "Rage", Oliver Queen/Green Arrow becomes addicted to the drug but manages to stop when he sees what it's doing to him.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate Atlantis: The Wraith enzyme confers strength, increased sensory ability, and resistance to Wraith weapons at the cost of the user's sanity after a prolonged period of use, and harsher withdrawal symptoms.
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • The armbands that SG-1 uses in the episode "Upgrades" give increased physical and mental abilities, but impaired judgment and reasoning. Also they could not be removed, but would eventually permanently stop functioning and detach themselves with no lasting addictive effects.
      • The Sarcophagus is very useful for curing illnesses, injuries, and, y'know, death, but can cause severe addiction and nasty withdrawal symptoms, as Daniel Jackson found out in the episode "Need." Repeated use steadily causes insanity. It's mentioned that this is probably why the Goa'uld are so unbalanced... and thus why they are Genre Blind Card Carrying Villains to a man (except for the Tok'ra, who don't use the Sarcophagus for this exact reason... Q.E.D.). Genetic Memory ensures that their offspring inherit their madness too.
  • Sam Winchester of Supernatural spent half the season break between three and four, and all of season four, using demon blood to enhance psychic powers conferred upon him by feeding him demon blood as a baby. This allows him to kill demons without necessarily killing their hosts, a power that usually only beings that are at least on par with angels can use. There turn out to be three definite problems with the system. However, the stuff is incredibly addictive, and his growing addict behaviors are not good for any other part of his emotional life. What's more, it's to some degree slowly turning Sam into something other than human. To what degree his bad behavior stems from this instead of straightforward addiction is impossible to determine. At any rate, a Sam willing to make sacrifices was a major change in his character, and it was one way or another down to the combination of Ruby and Psycho Serum.
  • In The Young Ones, Vyvyan creates a potion that turns the drinker into an ax-wielding homicidal maniac. Lampshaded in that this is, in fact, precisely what Vyvyan had intended it to do. He in fact described it as "a cure for not being an ax-wielding homicidal maniac!"


    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS IST: Jugo (Spanish for "Juice"). Developed by Colombian drug cartels, it turns a normal person injected with it into a super-powered berserker for a few hours. Afterwards it usually kills the user, though a few survive it.
  • Rifts:
    • One of the character types is "Juicer". A juicer has a device that continually delivers a cocktail of drugs into his bloodstream, granting him super strength, reflexes, and senses. The catch? It's instantly addictive, and withdrawal can be fatal. If they don't quit, the drugs will kill the user within seven years of starting. Also, he rolls a percentage to see if the drug causes one of several mental disorders.
    • There are also the Crazies, who gain superhuman strength via brain implants, at the cost of sanity.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem:
    • Vampire blood can transform a human into a Ghoul, who becomes ageless, gains a partial vampiric Healing Factor, and can even learn vampiric powers... as long as they have a steady supply. Unfortunately for them, vampire blood is heinously addictive and drinking repeatedly from one vampire enslaves the drinker to the vampire's will. Vampires gleefully exploit this to retain fanatically loyal servants.
    • In both games, werewolf blood is this to vampires. It's twice as potent as normal human blood, ounce for ounce, but drinking it produces the risk of going into Frenzy.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • As with everything, the game doesn't so much run with this trope as shoot it into space. Too many factions to count in the Imperium use versions with the most famous being the Eversor Assassins, who are injected with such a vast and volatile concoction of Psycho Serums that they not only have to be kept unconscious between missions due to being dangerous and deranged even by Imperium standards but explode when killed. Then there are the Chaos and Dark Eldar versions, which are impressive not only for their tendency to be made from human remains but their ability to turn already daemonically-enhanced, Ax-Crazy psychopaths more insane and into even more brutal combatants, the Emperor's Children Legion in particular known to have about fifty percent of their bloodstream composed of nothing but combat stims.
    • The Imperium's Arco-Flagellants. Take a person, lobotomize him, replace his arms with flails, swords, or whatever. Then condition it to be perfectly calm and at peace with its condition so long as its helmet (which plays calming, soothing religious images and music) is on, making it easy as pie to put them into position. Then take the helmet off while they're pointed at the enemy, pump them with an insane amount of stimulants, and watch your lobotomized murder machines rip the Foul Xenos to shreds. In case you haven't noticed, the Imperium of Man is not very nice.
    • Some tainted or mutated gene-seeds of the Primarchs have this effect on the Marines who are blessed with them:
      • Sanguinius' gene-seed has a flaw that causes his "sons" to suffer from the Red Thirst, a horrible thirst for blood that slowly but surely drives them insane. Sangunius knew about this but never had enough time to fix it and stop his sons from suffering before his untimely death, which additionally caused the Black Rage in his sons, turning them into crazed berserkers blessed with a touch of their Primarch's power.
      • Leman Russ's gene-seed is stronger than his Primarch brothers', granting his sons hyper-acute senses of smell and hearing, elongated canines that can dent plasteel, and leathery, resilient skin, but the way his sons get new recruits is the dangerous part. Aspirants who want to be a Space Wolf have to drink from the Cup of Wolfen and ingest the Canis Helix. When they do this, they are twisted and warped into bestial men and are forced to return to the Chapter's Fortress Monastery to have their gene-seed stabilized. If they succumb to the Helix they turn into savage Wolf Men that hunt and kill Aspirants that take the test later. Even if they do survive they're still likely to become savages again in battle.
    • The Elixir of the Prime Specimen is one of the greatest achievements of the Cult of the Twisted Helix's Biophagi. Created from the corpse of a powerful Tyranid organism, the Elixir boosts the muscle mass of those who ingest it (represented in the 8th Edition rules by a boost to the drinker's Attacks, Toughness and Wounds stats) but fills their mind with near uncontrollable bloodlust (although this isn't represented in the rules).
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Fungus brew gives the goblin chugging it superhuman (OK, supergoblin) strength. It also turns them into a gibbering lunatic who has to be subdued by the rest of his unit sitting on him until the enemy get close enough, at which point said goblin is hurled at the enemy and left to rotate around the field for the rest of the battle, pulverising everything he crashes into with an Epic Flail... until the brew wears off (causing a brief demonstration of a spiral in action), or the goblin crashes into a tree, is pulled down by sheer weight of numbers, or gets shot by the enemy/his own side (depending upon tactical needs). A hero with the Madcap Mushrooms can make this even worse for whoever gets hit.

    Video Games 
  • The plot of Batman: Arkham Asylum involves a chemical called Titan, derived from Bane's Venom formula. The Joker uses it on a few henchmen and gives some to Poison Ivy before using it on himself.
  • In the BioShock series, ADAM, unstable stem cells harvested from a sea slug, lets users rewrite their DNA to give them all manner of superpowers, from fireballs to computer hacking to shooting bees from their hands. Naturally, it quickly becomes a very highly sought-after resource in Rapture, and despite the obvious dependency issues and the tendency of users to become hideous mutants with hooks for hands (an acceptable cost), the struggle for control of it quickly tore the city to pieces.
  • Red Flowers in Cave Story turn the cute little Mimiga bunnies into giant Killer Rabbits. The kicker? The human Big Bad figures out how to use it on himself.
  • City of Heroes had a whole pharmacy's selection of these drugs.
    • Overuse of Superadine is what turns people into Trolls in City of Heroes. Side-effects include green skin, hair loss, growing horns, developing Super-Strength, and becoming a big dumb brute. In rare cases, causes horrifying visions into alternate realities.
    • The Council loves this stuff. By level 30, most of their troops have been given dozens of supersoldier serums augmenting everything from strength to height, at what is hinted to be a great cost of free will and intelligence. Nictus Fragments either turn you into a barely sentient warwolf or provide minor dark matter generating powers before an alien awareness takes over your entire nervous system in a fit of unadulterated evil. Shadow Cysts are a planet-wide version of the Psycho Serum concept; they allow Nictus free access and seem linked to the opening of Pandora's Box, which empowers Heroes, but enough of them cause the entire planet to be overwhelmed in darkness and every sentient being to turn into warwolves.
    • Freakshow have a cocktail of different drugs of all types, but Excelsior is the real Psycho Serum of the bunch. Thanks to an experimental Crey military booster drug, Freakshow can regenerate from normally lethal wounds, augment themselves with questionably sanitized cybernetics, and come back from the dead. Those that weren't already insane before joining the Freakshow are universally driven off the brink by the drug's side effects and nasty withdrawal, and most Freakshow carry around packs of the stuff feeding directly into their veins.
    • The Lost and the Rikti are intentionally exposed to a nasty and powerful mutagen causing extreme physical deformations and Psychic Powers, at the cost of drastically changing entire modes of thought and eventually hooking the user up into the Rikti Hive Mind, driving them against normal human society. Oh, and the physical deformations ain't pretty.
    • Arachnos Tarantulas were once human beings, doused in chemicals, and hooked directly into machinery that could not fit a whole human body. The Tarantula Queens are defined as those who came out of the process with two things: amazing psychic powers, and crippling insanity. Except Becky!
    • Hamidon himself picked up a Psycho Serum that turned him from a human-hating man into a human-annihilating Blob Monster; he was probably mad to start with, though. His followers, the Devoured, are normal humans who may or may not have liked the Devouring Earth's demands, and turned into freakish monsters with amazing powers but utterly subservient to Hamidon's insanity.
    • The Infected and the Contaminated drank sewer water and Rikti drugs, respectively. Results may include Glowing Eyes of Doom, Super-Toughness, electrical powers, and a desire to bring down society.
    • Krylov's Creations invert the concept; they started out villainous, took the relevant Psycho Serum to gain powers, and either went on a mad killing spree in a villain lab or decided to go play hero... while being slightly insane.
    • The Well of the Furies itself can be a Psycho Serum, as it empowers whoever imbibes its waters with the powers of a random deity. There are three characters known to have imbibed directly from the Well of The Furies.
      • Marcus Cole: A.K.A. Statesman, who received the powers of Zeus. This granted him Flying Brick powers with a side dose of Shock and Awe.
      • Stephan Richter: A.K.A. Lord Recluse, who gained the power of Tartarus. This caused him to sprout Spider Limbs out of his back and become increasingly sensitive to sunlight, though he did get a major strength and intelligence boost.
      • And the most compelling case of all... Stheno, Goddess of the S'lisur. A Giant Snake Monster that rules over Other Snake Monsters. The Well of the Furies doesn't seem to have a very good track record so far... And not to mention Tyrant and the Reichsman...
      • Oh yeah, that one other thing... the Well is sapient. And it favors Praetoria.
  • N. Brio does this throughout several games in the Crash Bandicoot franchise. He does it in his boss battles in Crash Bandicoot (1996) and Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, drinking the serums he had been using to create slime creatures throughout the fight, causing him to Hulk Out. He does it again in Crash Twinsanity, this time transforming into a giant frog monster and attempting to squash Crash flat on an iceberg, at the order of N. Tropy. In Crash: Mind Over Mutant, Dr. Neo Cortex uses N. Brio's serum to become a hulking mutant so he can beat Crash with his bare hands.
  • Detective Pikachu has chemical R. Intended to be a cure-all created from Mew's cells, Mewtwo's cells were used instead. The serum causes infected Pokémon to go berserk, then get tired and forget what happened once it wears off.
  • As it turns out, the Crown Killer of Dishonored 2 is this applied to Alexandria Hypatia, a brilliant psychologist in what is probably a Shout-Out to the above mentioned Jekyll and Hyde. Compared to Hypatia, the Crown Killer is stooped over, has superhuman strength and speed, brutally violent, looks and acts much more crazed than her good counterpart, and, unlike Hypatia, is aware of the duality of her nature.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, a certain rival guild is discovered to be using Hist Sap, a revered substance in its homeland and a powerful Psycho Serum. A good deal of quests in one storyline deal with infiltrating the group to find out its secrets, during which you take some Hist Sap and kill a village, thinking they were goblins. Even if you know it's coming, you can't avoid it.
  • Even After the End, the Fallout series is chock full of such 'chems' as buffout, mentats, stimpaks, med-x, jet, and, yes indeed, psycho! While a range of side-effects from temporary stat penalties to damage occur immediately upon taking them, and a chance of becoming addicted (which will cause further stat penalties if you go without them too long, accumulating repeatedly until withdrawal is completed) exists, there is one exception: It's a-OK to regularly pump yourself full of fistfuls of the completely side effect-free standard size stimpacks every single day.
    • The always popular FEV.
    • And with your stims, be careful on the recommended dosage; too much, and while you'll regenerate like a Ghoul in a reactor, you're going to get the side effect of Stim Sickness.
    • Old World Blues features a character who is implied to have started out using psycho because of some of the side-effects — the damage-boost it grants is pointless in his circumstances (he never leaves his lab, and the local wildlife, crazed people and deranged mishaps of science aren't quite dangerous enough to get past his robotic minions), but psycho also encourages rage and anger, which is useful when you need to make nasty rants that sound genuine for your plan while being an amiable, kindly old fellow by nature.
    • New Vegas lets the Courier cook up chems that give them an advantage in battle if they have high enough skills to do so. Three of them would be "Slasher", "Battle Brew" from Old World Blues, and "Weapon Binding Ritual" from Honest Hearts. Slasher mixes Psycho with Stipmpaks and banana yucca fruits to increase the user's aggression (+25% damage increase) while dampening their senses to pain (+25 damage resistance). Battle Brew mixes vodka, mutant cave fungus, and Salient Green to create a cocktail that heals as well as grants greater resistance to injury (+50 to Hit Points and limbs [non-HC only], +35 DR for 4 minutes) and for a minute after ingestion will increase strength (+1) and action points (+40). The Weapon Binding Ritual is a Dead Horses tribal ritual that numbs pain in the limbs and sharpens their minds into a fighting mindset granting +10 Melee Damage and +10 Unarmed damage for 2 minutes.
    • Fallout 4 gives the player the ability to craft two existing chems together to combine and even boost their effects.
  • Far Cry revolves around the Mad Scientist Dr. Krieger who developed a mutagen that enhances every organ in the body but turned the subjects into ultra-violent killing machines — the Trigens.
  • In Final Fantasy VII and its associated works, cells from Jenova (the game's Eldritch Abomination) are frequently used to give the subject enhanced physical abilities (e.g., strength, speed, durability, etc.) as well as unusual powers. But those same alien cells also frequently cause varying degrees of psychological instability and/or gross physical mutations, depending on the amount and the method of infusion, as well as the specific individual involved.
    • Regular SOLDIERs such as Zack are carefully screened and selected for both physical and mental fitness by Shinra. They develop superhuman combat abilities after being subjected to a combination of Mako and Jenova cells, but don't appear to suffer any noticeable side effects. The only visible abnormality from their transformation is slight Glowing Eyes from the Mako infusions.
    • Sephiroth clones, Cloud included, were subjected to Mako and Jenova cell treatments similar to SOLDIERs. However, since they weren't screened for mental stability like normal SOLDIER candidates, Sephiroth Clones generally suffer severe personality breakdowns and become vulnerable to Sephiroth's mental control. They're frequently seen hunched in black robes, muttering disjointed phrases related to Reunion, Jenova, and Sephiroth.
      • Cloud also received enhanced physical abilities from the Sephiroth Clone experiments, which helped make his claim of being an actual SOLDIER believable.
    • Special research prototypes such as Sephiroth, Angeal, and Genesis were subjected to significantly more extreme experiments involving Mako and Jenova cells. On top of the expected enhanced physical abilities, they also develop various special powers (e.g., Angeal's ability to absorb other creatures as well as produce Angeal clones, Genesis's ability to transform others into Genesis Clones, etc.). However, the presence of extreme amounts and/or types of Jenova cells in their bodies probably resulted in all three developing varying degrees of mental instability (e.g., Sephiroth's descent into insanity at Nibelheim, Genesis's obsession with 'the gift of the Goddess', Angeal's suicidal self-loathing, etc.), as well as blatant physical mutations (e.g., Sephiroth's Animal Eyes, their ability to manifest a single wing, Angeal's ability to absorb and fuse with other creatures, etc.)
    • Hojo mutated into various monstrous forms, presumably as a result of injecting or ingesting excessive amounts of his own special Jenova cell-based Psycho Serum.
    • Jenova cells are also responsible for the enhanced combat abilities of many of the Tsviets and Deepground fighters in Dirge of Cerberus, but probably also contributed to the craziness displayed by many of them.
  • Fire Emblem has two examples:
  • The Halo series has what are called Waverly Class Augmentors, also known as Rumble Drugs, that have been used by rebels in their attempts to fight Spartans by overriding the body's natural safety limits. Most died well before even getting near a Spartan but not before doing terrible damage to anything in their way. In the short story/animation Midnight in the Heart of Midlothian, an AI directs an ODST who was stabbed with an energy sword to inject himself with one so that it will keep him long alive long enough to destroy the ship he's on, which has been boarded by the Covenant.
  • Haze revolves around the Psycho Serum Nectar. One faction uses it; the other faction doesn't and turns out to be being targeted because they have control of land that contains plants that can be used to make Nectar. You play as both in the course of the single-player or cooperative game.
  • In Jak II: Renegade, one of the ways the Baron tried to recapture his prized experiment, Jak, was by warning him that the Dark Eco in his system, though granting him powerful combat abilities, would eventually drive him insane and soon afterwards kill him horribly. Judging by the previous game's Big Bads, he wasn't exaggerating.
  • The nightmare drug Valkyr from the first Max Payne was originally meant to be a Super Serum of sorts for the military, enhancing the stamina and morale of infantry troops. Project Valhalla, which was responsible for creating Valkyr, was canceled after the nasty effects of the drug made themselves known, but the key figure of the project, Nicole Horne, knew exactly what she had in her hands and continued the experiment unauthorized. Her bid to silence anyone who caught wind of the project would eventually bring Max Payne to her doorstep when his family was murdered by her test subjects.
  • Phazon from the Prime trilogy of the Metroid series, and that's the "best case" scenario as otherwise it just kills you outright whether instantly or making you go crazy first. It isn't quite clear whether to call it Psycho Serum, radioactive ore, or malevolent fungus. Radioactive Psycho Fungus?
  • In Pokémon Sun and Moon, UB-01, properly known as the Pokemon Nihilego, has the ability to latch on to a host and release special neurotoxins that cause them to lose their inhibitions and start feeling intense euphoria. Lusamine and the Aether Foundation ended up becoming victims of this neurotoxin after extensive research into the Ultra Beasts and it caused them to focus more and more on the UBs and using more amoral methods to catch them, such as draining a Cosmog of its energy to create a portal to the UBs' dimension and causing it to almost die. Not to mention the side effect of Lusamine herself becoming more of a Control Freak and an Abusive Parent to Gladion and Lillie post-infection.
  • Project Eden has a drug that grants immunity to pain and increased strength, with just one side effect. It turns people into acid spitting spiders or crazy mutant dogs, violently and quite quickly.
  • William Birkin from Resident Evil 2 who goes as far to inject himself with his own virus when attacked by a team sent to steal it from him. He massacres them all (except for one, a card-carrying badass) and goes on to become the game's Big Bad.
    • Happens several times in Resident Evil 5. About half the bosses jab themselves (or are jabbed by someone else) with a needle full of Uroboros before mutating and trying to kill you.
  • StarCraft:
    • Terran Marines from StarCraft use stimpacks to boost their damage, with the cost of 10 HP (and Terran Marines only have 40 HP total) with each dose. It is also stated by the Marine webpage on that it causes long-term effects not limited to insomnia, weight loss, mania/hypomania, seizures, paranoiac hallucinations, internal hemorrhaging, and cerebral deterioration. There are characters within the StarCraft universe who apparently got addicted to stim packs.
    • In StarCraft II, terrazine gas is a rare variant of vespene gas that stimulates psychic powers, but in its raw form it's highly addictive and lethal — cutting it with jorium crystals makes for a more stable compound that is used to transform Ghost candidates into the Super Prototype Spectres. There's also an entire faction of Protoss called the Tal'Darim who worship the stuff and practically live off of it to fuel their powers. They aren't friendly.
  • Raging Nostrum from Suikoden V is a drug that sends those who take it into an instant Unstoppable Rage with increased power on top of that, but said rage is so extreme that the user loses all rational thought and is reduced to simply screaming at the opponent while going ballistic on them. Oh, and it also kills the user after the effects wear off.
  • Sunset Overdrive has Overcharge, a soft drink that turns its drinkers into horrible mutants that will attack anyone in their way for more Overcharge and is responsible for turning the city the game is set in into an apocalyptic hellhole. Floyd, one of the scientists responsible for creating the drink states that the product was rushed out before they could finish refining it and can use it to create useful upgrades for the player that won't mutate them.
  • System Crash has Aggro, a drug that sends whoever is injected with it into a wild frenzy. People on it are known to tear their enemies apart with their bare hands while seeming to not even notice any physical damage they've sustained, and it's often used by street gangs to give them an edge in turf wars. In gameplay terms, it can be played to an Agent to give them a massive boost to their attack at the cost of making them lose health every turn.
  • Warcraft have several of these. In the pen-and-paper RPGs optional rules include that all arcane casters are prone to arcane magic addiction which can cause (and not limited to) growing extra limbs (sometimes not functioning limbs as fingers and eyes and horns), paranoia, spontaneous casting (including self teleport while sleeping) and other mental and physical ills. Addiction to demon magic (Fel Magic) is the same only on the highway and with auto-white/green-glowing-eyes (also turns the user to evil in many cases). More literal serum is drinking demon blood (especially Mannaroth's) which turns the drinker into a fighting addict psychopath with the uncontrollable urge to kill anything else that has not turn into CHAOS RACE (but mostly orcs). Comes with glowing red eyes, increased size and strength (enough to kill a god with special damage type to accomplish this), and in more severe cases, the skin also change color to dark red (also makes the drinker a total traitor and douchebag as an unpleasant extra).
  • Xenogears has "Drive", a stimulant that gives Solaris' soldiers heightened abilities but can cause addiction and violent behavior. For Elly, this manifests in a boost to her ether power but also makes her go berserk until The Power of Love calms her back down. Oddly, neither she nor any of your other party members suffer these side-effects from using Drive as an inventory item, where it merely gives them a permanent stat boost.
  • Zone of the Enders's metatron plays a large part in such great technologies as Orbital Frames, A.I.s, and space compression. Unfortunately, long-term exposure tends to turn people into Omnicidal Maniacs.

    Visual Novels 
  • Sunrider: Crow Harbor and his temporally displaced ancient Ryuvians have an injectable nanomachine solution which can give anyone the Awakening powers of a Sharr. It also drives the user violently insane and ensures that they will soon die a slow, horrible death.
  • Togainu no Chi: The economy of Toshima runs on trading Line, a drug that makes fighters faster and stronger for a brief time. Those who try it quickly become addicted, and experience heightened aggression. Exposure to undiluted Line either kills the user outright or transforms them into a deranged berserker incapable of reason.

    Web Animation 

  • Girl Genius:
    • If you're strong enough to "take" it, the Jägerdraught grants super-strength and near-immortality, but horribly mutates your body. And if you're not, it may kill you outright or mutate your body even more horribly until you beg for death.
    • The same probably goes for the battledraught Mamma Gkika gave Gil to save his life (which is labelled "Slightly Better than Death", FYI). At least there isn't any better explanation for Gil's Super-Strength and other, um, interesting behavior against Dr. Merlot and his clank...
    • It appears that both of these are derived from the waters of the River Dyne. Heterodynes got either resistance or adaptation—to a degree.
      Agatha: [still tipsy] I believe another forty-five point three seconds, and I would have exploded or something.
      Castle Heterodyne: ...or something.
    • Additionally, Moveit #11. It's some kind of superstimulant that'll give you Super-Speed at the cost of burning you out until you're dead, and it almost killed one notoriously durable character who only survived through The Power of Hate.
  • Homestuck:
  • In the backstory of Ruby Quest, a "cure" created by Red caused several patients, including Ruby herself, to become deranged and violent. From there, things started going downhill fast.
  • unOrdinary: EMBER is selling ability-amplifying drugs to petty criminals and those with grudges in low-tier districts to observe their effects and effectiveness. The reactions of those on the drugs when in withdrawal are said to be quite bad, and possibly fatal. Every character using the amps has also seemed incapable of rational thought and constantly furious.

    Web Original 
  • According to The Onion, in 1999, Bill Clinton injected himself with a highly unstable experimental growth serum.
  • The Wyvern Formula in Twig is a collection of several extremely poisonous substances injected through the sinuses directly into the brain, which damages the hippocampus in such a way that an individual using Wyvern can temporarily make massive edits to their own personality and emotional state. With short-term use, there's few permanent side effects, but the individual will undergo a huge temporary personality shift as they alter their own mindset to correspond to whichever situation has caused them to take Wyvern in the first place. It's often used by students in order to enhance their mental facilities for testing and study sessions, but long-term users such as Sylvester can use it to make themselves a savant in any given field.
  • Whateley Universe: Most of the Super-Soldier experiments performed during World War II by both the Axis and the Allies involved various Super Serums, most of which proved to have, uh, undesirable side effects. For those whose test serum proved to be a Psycho Serum, both sides chose to use the victims as shock troops, with the Axis also using them as propaganda meant to terrify Allied soldiers (the US and UK preferred to keep the test low-key). Even the 'successful' tests often led to breakdowns after the war, with many 'Flag Heroes' becoming villains after the war. After the war, Super Serums continued to be common experimental projects for Mad Scientists, with a lot of them turning out to be Psycho Serums. This results in the creation of quite a few supervillains.
    • Dr. Diabolik frequently experiments with Genius Serums, which he then sells on the black market; but not all of these turn out as planned. An example of this is at the heart of the story 'Evil Genius', in which the protagonist gets dosed with one of these - while it does increase mental ability temporarily, it has the side effect of total loss of empathy, leading to temporary psychopathy. Dr. Diabolik is said to be actively trying to track down those who leaked the failed formula.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: Shimmer, a drug developed by Silco and Singed. It enhances the user's strength and durability at the cost of turning them into monstrous and violent hulking giants. Notably, those affected by the drug gain pinkish-purple irises under its influence, with the exception of Deckard, who gains blue irises instead. Despite its adverse mental effects increasing aggression, Vander showed that Heroic Willpower allows one to prioritize other things than just violence. After the Time Skip, further experimentation has allowed them to moderate the dosage and limit the mutations, only producing monsters when they want to. It's even used as a party drug at a nightclub.
  • The memorable Batman Beyond episode "The Winning Edge" features the aforementioned super 'roid Venom being mass-produced and refined into a nicotine patch-style form colorfully known as "slappers", the hot new street drug for athletes who want a leg up on the competition and gang bangers who need a quick pick me up before a rumble alike. Just watch out for that 'roid rage. Bane is also briefly seen, and it's clear that he has paid the price for a lifetime of Venom usage. He's a withered and comatose husk hooked up to life support who is so dependent on Venom that he needs it just to stay alive.
  • My Little Pony TV Specials: In Escape from Catrina, Witchweed potion grants strong magical power (plus a size-boost) but wrecks the true personality of the drinker and is highly addictive. Fortunately, Katrina manages to kick the habit.
  • Recounted in The Powerpuff Girls (1998), Mojo Jojo gave a blatantly multicultural group of kids (including one in a wheelchair) some Chemical X, giving them superpowers. Once hooked, he ordered them to destroy the Girls. Afterwards, their actions were completely excused by noting that Mojo put "something bad" in the Chemical X. The first hit was free...
  • Primal (2019): The Ape-men in Episode 5 keep a black goo they use to ritually enhance the strength and ferocity to incredible levels. The Ape Champion drinks a single drop and gains enough strength to easily beat Fang in a fight. Spear in turn downs the whole bowl and he turns into a murderous prehistoric version of the Incredible Hulk who can literally rip the apes limb from limb.
  • Transformers could take Nucleon (from the heart of a black hole) to become stronger and faster, at the cost of Shapeshifter Mode Lock.
    • With the use of biomechanical Psycho Serum, wizened Yoda look-alike Colossus Rhodes from Transformers: Animated can turn into a giant.
    • In Transformers: Prime, synthetic energon gives the user a power boost but also makes them rowdier and more aggressive, thanks to the formula used to make it being incomplete. The Decepticon scientist-slash-medic Knock Out later tried to complete the formula himself, at first succeeding in making the recipient go completely berserk and then accidentally starting a mini-Zombie Apocalypse. Whoops!
      • Dark Energon probably counts. Anyone infused with it gains a significant boost in power with the bonus of being able to raise the dead. Megatron's first act upon his return was the stab a shard of it into his spark, and mixing it with the above synthetic caused the above incident. The downsides to using it? Your spark becomes bound to Unicron, unable to pass into the afterlife, and your corpse becomes a potential puppet for him. And on the more mundane level, the stuff itself doesn't exactly do your mental health any favors.
  • Van Beuren Studios:
    • In the Rainbow Parade cartoon "Spinning Mice", the wizard's magic potion, which normally turns ugly things into beautiful things, becomes this after an extra ingredient accidentally falls into it, turning a batch of mice into little Red Devils.
    • In "Sunshine Makers", the evil gnomes have a murky spray that can counteract the happy effects of the good gnome sunshine milk.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, there's Lao Mang Long Soup. Drinking it will give you superhuman strength and immortality. Side effects include turning evil, losing all emotion, disfiguring mutation, a fetish for spikes, and turning into an Ax-Crazy half-human half-animal hybrid that can only be reigned in by drinking more soup.
  • In Young Justice (2010), the "shields" Lex Luthor gave to Superboy suppress his human DNA for one hour. He gets the full range of Kryptonian powers, but since the human DNA was used to stabilize Superboy in the first place, Superboy also becomes far more unhinged and aggressive.
    Superboy: I get the flight, the heat vision... but I also get angry. Well, angrier.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television:
    • At high enough doses, PCP, cocaine, and similar hallucinogens and stimulants grant their users near super-human fighting abilities, because they prevent the users from feeling pain or fear, in addition to making them crazy. This also means the druggies have no way of knowing, or caring, how badly they get hurt, which can have some pretty horrific consequences. Don't do drugs, kids!
    • This is referenced on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where cases of vampires going on a rampage are always written off as "thugs on PCP."
    • Also referenced in City Hunter, where a Psycho Serum is called PCP (the alternative name Angel Dust is more widely used) and has the same exact effects, only with greater strength.
    • There was a TruTV police car dashboard-cam video (with audio) of a guy on PCP. The wild mood swings were unnerving enough, but the completely inhuman roaring and growling, plus a voice straight out of The Exorcist (when the user was capable of intelligible speech), was serious Nightmare Fuel.
    • In the trial for the LAPD officers who beat Rodney King near to death, the officers attempted to justify their actions by claiming that they were afraid that Mr. King was high on PCP and going berserk when he resisted arrest. Turns out that he was actually just really, really drunk, mildly stoned, and just plain tough enough to throw off multiple officers attempting to wrestle him down and to shrug off two taser shocks before the brutal beating commenced.
    • Rapper Big Lurch smoked some PCP one night... and then woke up the next morning covered in blood and absolutely no idea what happened or where it came from. He later found out that, in his PCP-fueled rage, he killed his friend's girlfriend, and then proceeded to rip off and eat parts of her body.
    • The Miami "zombie attack" in 2012 is believed to have been caused by this. While the toxicology report was inconclusive (finding only cannabis and undigested pills in the culprit's system), the nature of the attack has been described as consistent with the side effects of a type of designer drug known as "bath salts" that has side effects similar to MDMA or cocaine.
    • Note that the Psycho Serum effects of PCP have been exaggerated ; more accurate research suggests that PCP rarely causes violent behaviour, and usually in people who were already violent even before taking the drug. That is to say, rather than turning normal people crazy, it - like many drugs - makes crazy people crazier.
  • There are certain prescription medicines that in already mentally ill (though not psychotic) individuals caused homicidal ideation.
  • One theory on the source of Norse berserkers' Unstoppable Rage is that they ate large helpings of psychoactive mushrooms before battle. While the more potent varieties tend to prefer more tropical climates, several varieties of psychoactive mushrooms do indeed grow in the colder regions where the Vikings came from. Fly agaric is even named "Berserkjasveppur" (Berserker mushroom) in Icelandic.
  • Anabolic steroids are also known to lead to increased aggression in many users, a phenomenon colourfully known as "Roid Rage". Though you really shouldn't mention "the R-word" on any body-building forum.
  • German soldiers used methamphetamines, under names like "tanker's chocolate"note , in enormous quantities during World War II (over 17 million pills per month during the Battle of France). Many of the German flying aces were on meth, sometimes constantly, and it's widely assumed that the Luftwaffe wouldn't have been able to support the blitzkrieg offensives if their pilots weren't able to fly 12 hours straight thanks to meth. It led to... some side effects after the war. Adolf Hitler himself also became increasingly addicted to the stuff up (along with cocaine) until his death after it was initially prescribed to him for his constant health problems; it's been speculated that this was responsible for at least some of his erratic decisions during the war since he typically started his day with an injection of cocaine and opioids and then went on to his primary strategy sessions)- it's known that he planned the Battle of the Bulge while under the influence. The daily injections also supercharged his already high amounts of paranoia and megalomania.
    • The somewhat less hazardous dextroamphetamine (normally marketed as Dexedrine) is used for similar purposes by most air forces to this day, under much closer medical supervision. It remains controversial, however, being implicated in at least one friendly fire accident in Afghanistan.
    • It has been reported that ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria use drugs such as meth and coke to improve their combat capabilities. And given that drug use is haram (forbidden) in Islam, one has to wonder...
      • Actually it's not. Some sects have updated the codes to write off recreational drugs as haram by comparing them with alcohol but overall, if something is not explicitly stated in the Quran there will always be some Muslims who challenge its status.
  • Amphetamine was widely used by Finnish long-range Yeager troops in WWII. It was known as höökipulveri ("pep powder"). It was legally sold under the name Pervitin until 1969.
  • Older than dirt example: alcohol. Used as a psycho serum for its known effect of removing inhibitions, impairing judgement and pain, and getting people "pissed angry drunk."
  • There's a genetic modification for mice that has this effect. PEPCK-Cmus mice have much greater stamina than normal mice, and even live longer, but they are also much more aggressive.
  • There were reports that during the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the perpetrators were using Cocaine in order to continue their attacks.