In Real Life, poison is usually detected and identified thanks to its bitter taste and/or smell. But how can we identify a poison as such in works like anime or video games, where taste and smell aren't an option?
Of course, the color itself!
Eastern media tend to portray poisonous substances in a dark purple color, usually bubbling. In Western media, Sickly Green is more common because of the former popularity of arsenates, which really are fluorescent green. There are also other works from both sides of the Atlantic showing poisons and venoms of various other colors.
It may be shown melting stone and steaming foul vapors.
Thanks to these distinctive colors, the audience can instantly perceive whether a substance is toxic or not. This is a bit of Truth in Television, as shown below.
- Bleach features Mayuri's Ashisogi Jizo, which releases a purple poison cloud. The affected victims also turns purple. Gin Ichimaru's true power releases a deadly poison with a purple aura.
- Cobra from Oracion Seis in Fairy Tail owns a violet giant snake named Cuberios which is poisonous and its victims turn slowly purple when bitten (seen in the anime with Erza). Also his Poison Dragon Slayer's scales are violet.
- In InuYasha, Naraku's Shouki is dark purple, and is most certainly poisonous.
- Naruto features purple-colored poisons, seen with Shizune's Breath Weapon and Sasori's weapons.
- One Piece has several instances of purple poison, including Crocodile's Hookhand, Wanze's Big Fancy Sword, Marigold's spit, Musshuru's spores and, of course, Magellan himself. It also has Poison Is Corrosive effect and noxious steams.
- Later, during the Punk Hazard arc, Smiley's poison gas is clearly described as "purple", even if the comic is in black and white.
- Smiley's anime appearance shows he's a red-violet color rather than pure purple. The noxious gasses he releases are actually purple though. Smiley's master, Caesar Clown, utilizes light blue poison gasses with a purple hue, which turn completely dark purple when he goes One-Winged Angel.
- Later, during the Punk Hazard arc, Smiley's poison gas is clearly described as "purple", even if the comic is in black and white.
- In the anime of Sengoku Basara, Matsunaga uses purple poison gas in order to take down Kojuro. In contrast the gas Sasuke uses as an antidote is green.
- Coco from Toriko can secrete purple colored poisons from his body. In the anime at least.
- Pokémon that have strong poisonous attacks are often depicted as purple, such as Grimer, Koffing, Ekans and their evolutions.
- The flesh-melting poison used by Fugo's stand Purple Haze in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure hasn't been seen in color in the manga, but JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle shows it as being purple.
- Ronin Warriors has Sekhmet, Warlord of Venom, whose corrosive poison is usually portrayed as pink or purple. Interestingly enough, his armor is mostly green.
- In Joujuu Senjin Mushibugyou, the Insect Magistrate's hair, eyes and clothes turn purple when she unleashes her Poison Bug Powers. She thus rounds up the trope trifecta by being a Poisonous Person wielding purple Corrosive Poison...
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, when Joffrey is poisoned at his wedding feast, it's strongly implied that this was the work of Olenna Tyrell, who had the opportunity to remove a poisonous solid disguised as an amethyst from Sansa's jeweled hair net and drop it in his cup of wine. One indication of this is the wine itself: an early goblet is poured over Tyrion's head and described as red, while the dregs remaining in the later, poisoned goblet are described as purple.
- In The Sword of Shannara Trilogy the poison from the Creeper-like monster is described as purplish in color.
- Starting from Final Fantasy I, almost all the games in the saga features purple swamps where you take damage as you walk.
- Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams features purple poison for the first time in the saga. Poisoned characters turns purple too.
- In Odin Sphere, poisoned characters turn purple.
- Samurai Shodown: a mismatched case: Gen'an's poison cloud is orange, but the poisoned victim becomes purple.
- In Genji: Dawn Of The Samurai, the Poison element is Purple.
- In Pokémon, the Poison elemental type has a purple icon, "Poisoned" status is also purple, and many Poison-type attacks (such as Toxic and Gunk Shot) are represented with a bubbly purple goop. Furthermore, many Poison-related Pokémon like Koffing/Weezing, Ekans/Arbok, Gastly/Haunter/Gengar, Nidoran/Nidorina/Nidorino/Nidoqueen/Nidoking, Zubat/Golbat/Crobat, Stunky/Skuntank, Skorupi/Drapion are violet in color.
- In Mario games, the purple shroom inflicts poison or disables the playable characters, depending on the game.
- You can tell Woodfall Swamp is poisoned in Majora's Mask due to the water having a distinct reddish-purple hue. Even the plants take on bright, unnatural colors.
- "Poisonous Pipeline" in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! features as its gimmick purple liquid that inverts the D-pad commands. A first for the series, since poisoned water in previous games is depicted as green (see below).
- In the Dragon Quest series, poison swamps are always colored violet.
- The Miasma spell in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is purple.
- In the Cave level of the Subspace Emissary story in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the poison gas you encounter is purple colored.
- Poison in Shin Megami Tensei games turns characters purple with violet bubbles coming off them.
- In Disgaea, poisoned characters are signaled with purple bubbles.
- In the Pikmin games, the spores from the Puffstool and the poison gas in the sequel are purple. The color coding is also used for (the more pinkish) Munge Dweevils, which are part of a family of enemies with Elemental Powers as well as the Titan Dweevil, when he's about to use his poison weapon. Oddly, White Pikmin are the type immune to the latter, while Purple Pikmin don't have a hazardous element they're immune tothough they can't be blown by wind, making Whites the only Pikmin who's color does not match that of their element.
- In Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, the poison status effect causes Nathan to take on a purple tint. Poisonous snakes, Poison Armors and other poison enemies are purple, fitting the games focus on different elemental traits. The Manticore card applies the Poison element to your spells, which results in predominantly purple graphical effects. Interestingly enough, antidotes are also represented by a bottle filled with purple liquid.
- When Kefka dumps poison into the river surrounding Doma Castle in Final Fantasy VI, the water takes on a purplish hue.
- The poison in Where's My Water?.
- In Mabinogi, poison bottles (used for coating weapons) are bright purple, and poisoned characters or monsters acquire a purple tint and emit purplish fumes. Sulfur poisoning from Zardine fumarole areas tints the player yellow with a purple tinge.
- In Dark Cloud and the sequel Dark Chronicle, the poisoned status icon is purple, with the poisoned character being shaded purple. Most attacks that can cause poison are purple, as well.
- In Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby's Poison Copy Ability lets him emit violet liquids and gases and gives him a hat that spews the liquid out of the top.
- In Overwatch, Widowmaker's Venom Mine, Zenyatta's Discord Orb and Ana's biotic grenade all cause the affected target to glow purple. The former chips away at health while the latter two increase damage and decrease healing.
- In Street Fighter V, F.A.N.G.'s poison attacks emit gobs of purple goo and pillars of purple smoke. When his opponent is hit byone of his abilities, their life meter changes to a purplish hue when the Damage Over Time effect takes over.
- Scaredy Squirrel: Dave's spray clouds are depicted as a large, purple cloud.
- Iodine, which is toxic, has a bright purple color in its liquid and gaseous form.
- The poison the adversary uses in the Doctor Who episode "The Deadly Assassin" is green. Likewise the poison in "The Curse of Fenric".
- A promotional picture for the first season of The Borgias depicts Lucrezia Borgia holding a small vial filled with green liquid, presumably poison, as the real-life Lucrezia Borgia was supposedly a notorious poisoner. In the series itself, poison is usually depicted as colorless, though.
- Castlevania: Curse of Darkness features green colored poison status, and uses purple for the "cursed" status alteration. However, at least one enemy (White Gravial) spews a purple liquid.
- Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest has this level called "Toxic Tower", where the player must climb platforms to avoid contact with the rising green water.
- Also, "Poison Pond" in the first Donkey Kong Country has the Kongs swimming through a greenish water/sludge pond. The water is completely harmless, though, and most likely green just to go with the Eternal Engine theme of Kremcroc Industries, Inc. as a Polluted Wasteland.
- While not of the deadly kind, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! features a level called "Low-G Labyrinth", which happens in a pipeline filled with greenish gas that decreases gravitational pull.
- In Final Fantasy, the "Poison" and "Toxin" status itself is usually shown in the form of green bubbles/green oozing stuff.
- In Final Fantasy II, Venom magic is bright green at low levels and dark green at high levels.
- In Final Fantasy VII, not only are poison spells green, characters also glow green when poisoned.
- Bio spell in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.
- In RuneScape, poison is bright green. Poison damage is represented by bright green splats, poisoned weapons turn bright green at their tips, and your Life Meter changes to a bright green color when you're poisoned.
- In Gem Craft green gems are the poisonous ones.
- In Crash: Mind Over Mutant the "Sludge" Titan is toxic and green. Poisoned enemies turn green as well.
- In Minecraft, being poisoned turns your health bar a sickly green, and contracting food poisoning makes your hunger bar green. During both kinds of poisoning you also have green swirls appear around you.
- Most toxins in World of Warcraft are green.
- In Warcraft III the plague cloud released by some Scourge units is green and intoxicates anyone nearby. The Venom Globe is bright green and Dryads can use green poisonous spears.
- Feyrbrand the Green-Tusked Dragon from The Legend of Dragoon is green and can spit a poisonous green goo from its belly. Furthermore, toxic stuff tends to be green-colored.
- Throughout the Ultima series, the various color-coded potions do a variety of things, but the green potion is always poison, and a poisoned character's health bar turns green. Furthermore, some of the games had green swamps that would poison your character if you walked through them without special swamp boots (also green).
- In Castle Crashers the poison is green, and the Green Knight can use poisonous attacks.
- In Age of Mythology, the Scorpion Man Myth Unit, granted to followers of Nephthys, has a special attack that poisons nearby units, draining their health for a small while. Poisoned units are represented with green clouds surrounding them.
- In The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon, Cynder's Poison element is green.
- In Perfect Dark, the nerve gas in Area 51 is greenish in color.
- In Stinkoman 20X6, the poison dripping from "Tortan" (a bottle of poison) is bright lime-green in color.
- In one of the X-Men Legends games, if you level up Cyclops enough, he gets an upgrade that makes his beams radioactive, doing slow continual damage for some time after it lands. Naturally, this means the beam turns green.
- In Dungeon Crawl poisonous corpses are shown in green text.
- Later games in the Emergency! series are notable because anything that poses a contamination risk—including chemical, biological, and radiological contaminants—can be visible as a green cloud.
- Subverted by Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the pale green gas released by shooting the canisters is not poison and just knocks out anyone caught in it.
- Kingdom of Loathing parodies the trope with the green BRICKO brick:
This is a BRICKO brick shot through with deadly poison which has tainted it green. Because everybody knows that all poison is green. If you're ever wondering if something is poisoned, your first question should be "Is it green?" If it's not green, eat it, because you're totally safe. In fact, the whole reason Kings had food tasters in ancient days is because they were all colorblind.
- In Evolve, the Gorgon's poisonous attacks glow a pale green.
- In The Elder Scrolls series, poisons, which refer to any alchemical potions with harmful effects which allow them to be applied to weapons, and beneficial potions are found in identical bottles with only the dark green fluid inside allowing you to tell the immediate difference.
- In Dungeons, Plague Demons are green and can spit poison. The poisonous traps of the Mindless Army are greenish in color.
- In Kingdom Rush, poison from either towers or enemies tends to be green. In Frontiers, the Necromancers' tower attacks with green poisonous miasma and the hero Boneheart has green, gaseous venom to use in various forms.
- In the remake of Altered Beast, a Giant Spider boss attacks by spitting body parts coated in green stuff, implied to be venom.
- In The Order of the Stick, the poison used by Daimyo Kubota to kill Therkla is green and features green bubbles from the victim. Later, the Strength-draining poison used on Vaarsuvius features green bubbles as well.
- The Batman: Lampshaded:
Batgirl: Why is it deadly chemicals are always green? Why can't they ever be pink?
- Wakfu, Season 3: pyschopathic Sram assassin Toxine is usually invisible or translucid, but she has bright green spots on her body, most notably on her wrist blades and heels. As she's quick to mention in her first appearence, her blades are highly poisonous.
- The Origins Episode of Samurai Jack has Jack's father using a green poison on a stationary blob of darkness that had been engulfing the land. He ends up making it sentient, forming Aku, thus implicitly being the source of Aku's green face.
- A campaign called "Mr.Yuck",(or "Officer Ugg") intended to teach young children about staying away from poisonous substances,had green stickers with a Mr.Yuck face for parents to put on containers.
- Chlorine gas is a particularly noxious respiratory irritant that just so happens to be yellowish green in color. It was the first substance used in chemical warfare in World War I, though both deadlier and less easily detectable gases were used later on. It has often been accidentally released when household bleach gets mixed with acid.
- Arsenic compounds tend to be a rich shade of emerald green. Scheele's Green was one of these - it was so beloved in the 1800's for its color that it was used to color wallpaper, clothing, and even as food coloring. Unfortunately, when Scheele's Green comes in contact with moisture - like sweat, saliva, or water - it emits toxic arsenic gasses, resulting in people being poisoned to death by their own homes and clothing. Once the link was established, its use was quickly banned, but some very old houses from the 1800's still have arsenic residue in their walls from wallpaper dyed this color, and occasionally the odd dress from the era dyed with this compound is recovered...
- In Fairy Tail, Cobra's actual Dragon Slayer venom is dark red in color and more steaming than bubbling. Cuberios' poison too is showed to have this color, and yet its victims become purple instead as seen above.
- Invoked and subverted in the anime when Happy attacks some Edolas soldiers with a bag of white "Poisonous Mist", which is actually harmless flour.
- In InuYasha during the fight against Juromaru and Kageromaru, Sango uses a poison that turns the ground red in order to force Kageromaru to come out.
- One Piece has the dreaded MH5 poison gas, which releases a white cloud of deadly poison. However, it is usually changed to the usual purple mist in the video games featuring Don Krieg as a playable character. Furthermore, Magellan's Venom Demon: Hell's Judgement is crimson-colored and releases foul smokes, giving the impression of being hot somehow.
- In Toriko Coco's skin turns red in the manga when he uses his poison, and early on, in the manga, he seemingly turns pitch-black with his best venom when confronted by Starjun's G.T. Robot.
- In Arachnid the villainous nurse Sasori enjoys taking some time to tell people who are at her mercy that a scorpion has three friends: a yellow toxin for paralyzation, a blue toxin to put them to sleep and a red toxin that quickly causes death. Unsurprisingly, the one she uses the most is the yellow one.
- In Saint Seiya, Black Pegasus's attacks are, in truth, poisonous, and will slowly kill the victim, covering his skin in growing black spots.
- Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: In "Death Do Us Part", the Victim of the Week is poisoned by having his eyedrops dosed with polonium. Phryne and Jack find the dropped eyedrop bottle at night because it is glowing blue.
- MacGyver (1985) episode "The Spoilers" starts with a tanker full of toxic waste which is hot pink.
- In the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan, the pirates poison Pan's milk, turning it bright red. You'd think he'd notice something was up, but then it wouldn't set up Tinkerbell's heroic death.
- In the first three Onimusha games, there are some cases of yellow poisonous gases, especially in the second game.
- In World of Warcraft, the Rogue can put poison on his weapons. There are many kinds of venom, including green as well as red and black.
- The Legend of Dragoon: Feyrbrand can also produce and shot blue poison (causes Fear) and grey poison (causes Stun).
- In Command & Conquer: Generals and the Expansion Pack, GLA anthrax is green, Anthrax beta is blue and Anthrax gamma is purple. Radiation meanwhile is orange.
— Dr Thrax: "Do you enjoy seeing your men glow in the dark? Heh, heh, build more then!"
- While most games in the Elder Scrolls series use classic green, Skyrim is unique in that it utilizes color-coded poisons: pink for health poison, blue for magicka poison, and green for stamina poison. Poisons of any other type, such as weaknesses or ability drains, default to the bubblegum pink "health" bottle, as do similarily deviant potions, meaning the only way to tell them apart now is the shape of their bottles.
- Bottles of Poison in Faxanadu are yellowish, as opposed to the more pink-colored Red Potions.
- The Creepy Centipede enemies from Project Altered Beast will attack by spitting globs of blue poison at you.
- The many types of gases used by the vile borg, Noxious in Skysurfer Strike Force also come in many bright colors.
- From Wakfu, the Demon Roses created by the Shushu Djaul are encountered in Season 1 and one of them bites Amalia, poisoning her. According to Eva there are three types: purple, orange and red. The red ones have the strongest poison.
- In nature, bright colors are often a color code for things that are venomous (see many species of amphibians with venom, such as poison dart frogs). Bright blue in particular is an appetite suppressor, as no foods humans consume are naturally that shade (blueberries are coloured indigo) — and things that are blue are usually venomous. Dietitians will advise people wishing to lose weight to eat on blue plates, for example. Purple, being close to blue in the spectrum, shares some of blue's appetite-averting effects.
- A notable exception is the Destroying Angel mushroom, one of the most lethal of all poisonous mushrooms, which is pure, snow white.
- Many venomous reptiles, unlike the frogs, also subvert this. Some are brightly colored, such as the coral snake (red and yellow, kills a fellow) and the eyelash viper (just yellow, also kills a fellow) but there are many snakes that are brightly colored and not venomous (like those that mimic coral snakes) or dull-colored and venomous, like the brownish King Cobra and the dead-leaf-colored Gaboon viper.
- Besides chlorine, the rest of the halogens are like this. Fluorine is extremely toxic and reactive and has a yellow colour. Bromine is either a red-brown liquid or a bright orange gas. Iodine is bright purple, as noted elsewhere on this page. Astatine would be black, but it's so radioactive that a sample large enough for us to see would promptly explode in a nuclear fireball. Be careful with halogens, everyone.
- Elemental sulfur is bright yellow when solid, bright red when melted, and blue as a high-temperature gas. It's also a very effective pesticide and quite flammable. Burning it with oxygen gives sulfur dioxide, which is highly toxic but colorless.
- Many chromium compounds are bright coloured (that's why this element is called so - 'chroma' means 'colour' in Greek). Hexavalent chromium compounds are bright red, orange, or yellow, and are very, very toxic and carcinogenic.