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Zola: "Violetta, you pathetic loser! Did you just try to poison me? Ahahahaha! As if that could stop me now!"

Violetta: "I know that. That wasn't poison, that was more Movit 11. Now all I have to do is watch you combust."

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

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

May cross over with Aesoptinum when the Aesop is "All things in moderation." Not to be confused with Phlebotinum Overload. Superpower Meltdown is this on the individual level. See also Going to Give It More Energy.

Examples of Phlebotinum Overdose include:


  • In the film Dot and the Kangaroo, the Kangaroo warns Dot not to eat too much of the root that allows her to talk to animals because if she does she'll "know too much," which will make her "miserable."
  • If Godzilla absorbs too much radiation or if his body-temperature goes too high, he risks going into critical mass and could either explode and/or go into a meltdown. Either way, it's VERY bad news for the rest of the world.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. An enemy Mook drinks an entire flask of Dr. Jekyll's potion and grows into a berserk monstrosity that makes Mr. Hyde look normal (and that's saying something).

 Jekyll/Hyde: "It's me on a bad day."

  • Santa Claus -- The Movie (1985) has stardust as the phlebotinum in question: Adding it to their fodder gives Santa's reindeer their flying abilities. When elf inventor Patch journeys to the human world to prove his worth to Santa, he creates a lollipop that has a bit of stardust as an ingredient; whoever eats one can temporarily fly. They're hugely popular, and the Corrupt Corporate Executive who markets them demands that the follow-up should have more stardust added, so the effects will last longer; the villains subsequently learn that the resultant candy canes explode if kept near a heat source (i.e., a radiator) too long. This is because the stardust, which originated at the cold North Pole, becomes unstable when exposed to too much heat.
  • This is how the Big Bad is defeated in the second Hoodwinked movie.


  • In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Wonka gives the grandparents pills which de-age them exactly 20 years per pill--they all decide after taking the first one that they should split the whole bottle, which then made three of them babies and one of them negative two years old. Played for horror.
  • Magic on Discworld has some ugly quantity limitations.

Live Action Television

  • In one Fantasy Island a woman was given a potion to become beautiful for a time (an hour??) if she took one drop. Complications ensued and she was forcibly made to drink the whole bottle on the grounds that "if one drop is good the whole bottle is better!" She became a harridan.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation had an episode where an old diplomat takes his wife's share of age-reversing medication as well as his own.
  • The end of Planet of Spiders on Doctor Who-- the Great One, leader of the spiders, assembles a web of crystals that contain power--but when she completes it, the power destroys her. Also meant as a metaphor for the ego.
    • Those crystals are psychic super amplifiers so not just a metaphor, her ego *is* the power that destroys her

Tabletop RPG

  • Older versions of Dungeons and Dragons has Potion Miscibility. That is if you mixed potions or drank a potion while under the effects of another potion you had to roll on a chart to see what would happen instead of the normal effects. A few of the effects are desirable, but possible effects include explosions and being poisoned.
    • Forgotten Realms had a few. Too many strong spells released at once tend to interact abnormally until they form one "spell-storm" on the scale up to Fantastic Nuke or overload and warp the Weave powering them. This way several civil wars among the Drow caused total destruction of their cities, supposedly including the creation of Great Rift -- geographical feature about 170 miles long and 1000 feet deep. Myth Drannor had large extradimensional pockets built too densely -- enough that they began to interfere, distort magic all around and compromised an originally impenetrable city-scale teleport denial ward -- which becomes Very Bad News during an attack by a whole army of fiends.
  • Many cyberpunk games have some sort of psychological penalty for implanting too much cyberware, such as going insane or dying.
    • Shadowrun: lowers Essence, losing too much causes death
    • Cyberpunk 2020: lowers Humanity, losing too much causes Cyberpsychosis
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Terror Australis, adventure "Old Fellow That Bunyip". The investigators must drive a bunyip upriver by calling "Eleanba Wunda", the name of a terrifying spirit. Unfortunately, if they say the name too often they may summon Eleanba Wunda itself.

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode featuring Bane, Batman defeats Bane by sabotaging his Venom pump, causing a massive overdose. This is repeated in two Batman Beyond episode; in one, a doctor is selling Venom as a street drug (in dermal patch form); and eventually is overdosed during his fight. In an episode featuring Lego Genetics animal people, the Big Bad injects himself with a several vials at once, but Batman injects him with a lot more, causing him to go from One-Winged Angel to a giant blob monster that can safely be blown apart on a Saturday morning cartoon.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures has this in the episode Best Served Cold. Whitney Stane has been over-using the Madame Masque image inducer, and the phlebotinum that powers it has started to affect her brain. Tony has to travel to the arctic to find the raw ore form of the material to help cure her but in the end ends up having to use the small ammount that powers his pacemaker.


Truth in Television

  • People taking prescription drugs will often grow accustomed to the small amounts they take, and so they overdose when they take more and more to try to compensate. Unfortunately, the effective dose and the safe dose are both determined by different factors, and don't rise at the same rate when it comes to a lot of medications, so doing this means you're liable to, well, overdose. Better to switch up meds.
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