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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. Bonus Points if it's 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.
Anime and Manga
- 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. Bonus point for having also the Poison Is Corrosive effect and noxious steams.
- 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.
- Bleach features Mayuri's Ashisogi Jizo, which releases a purple poison cloud. The affected victims also turns purple. Gin Ichimaru's true power release 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 his/her victims turn slowly purple when bitten (seen in the anime with Erza). Also his Poison Dragon Slayer's scales are violet.
- Coco from Toriko can secrete purple colored poisons from his body. In the anime at least.
- In The Sword of Shannara Trilogy the poison from the Creeper-like monster is described as purplish in color.
- 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 the Tyrells, specifically Cool Old Lady Olenna, who would have taken a poisonous stone disguised as an amethyst out of Sansa's jeweled hair net and dropped it in his cup of wine. One indication of this is that when Tyrion gets Joffrey's wine poured over his head, it's described as a "red torrent," but when he picks up the chalice after it's been refilled and drunk from, the remaining wine is purple.
- Cobra-themed Kamen Rider Ohja of Kamen Rider Ryuki is conveniently purple.
- 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 Pokemon 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.
- 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.
- Scaredy Squirrel: Dave's spray clouds are depicted as a large, purple cloud.
Anime and Manga
- Sesshomaru's poison in Inuyasha tends to be yellow or greenish.
- The aptly named Daft Green trees in the tenth One Piece movie produce green venomous spores. When Nami is forcibly exposed to the spores by Shiki she starts turning green herself.
- Averted and lampshaded in Terry Pratchett's Feet of Clay - Vimes expects arsenic to be green and is surprised to learn otherwise.
- The poison the adversary uses in the Doctor Who episode "The Deadly Assassin" is green. Likewise the poison in "The Curse of Fenric".
- 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.
- 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 Gemcraft green gems are the poisonous ones.
- In Crash: Mind Over Mutant the "Sludge" Titan is toxic and green. Poisoned enemies turn green as well.
- 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.
- Age of Mythology features green poisons.
- In The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon Cynder's Poison element is green.
- In Perfect Dark, the nerve gas in Area51 is greenish in color.
- In 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.
Anime and Manga
- 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 his/hers victims become purple instead as seen above.
- 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 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.
- In Toriko Coco's skin turns red in the manga when he use his poison.
- 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.
- Feyrbrand can also produce and shot blue poison (causes Fear) and grey poison (causes Stun).
- In nature, bright colors are often a color code for things that are venomous (see many species of amphibians with venom). Bright blue in particular is an appetite suppressor, as no foods humans consume are naturally that shade — 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.
- Chlorine gas is a particularly noxious respiratory irritant that just so happens to be yellowish green in color.