How to Kill your Fictional Character with Poison (Part One)

Sometimes killing a character can be hard, right? Either they are too close to you and you just can’t part with them, or you really want them to die a horrible and slow death done in by the hero. But that doesn’t always fit the scene, or the story. So how do you do it quiet-like, sneaky? The answer is easy: poisons. There are poisons everywhere, because when it comes right down to it most everything, if you have too much of it, can be toxic in too high a dose. Everything. That doesn’t mean the item will kill you quickly, only that it can. Toxicity depends on a lot of factors including age, underlying medical conditions, dose, time over which the dose is taken and size.

This post will focus on items around the house that can hurt you along with the symptoms to describe it for the literary minded.

First we will start in the medicine cabinet.

Iron – Not many people think about the multivitamin that they are taking as toxic, and it’s not. The packaging has become so pleasant though that it is a frequent cause of overdose in children. The Flinstone’s and current derivatives are now so tasty kids want to eat them. That can be bad, mainly due to the iron it contains. The symptoms are general. Most of it relating to belly pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sometimes jaundice as Iron is filtered by the liver. There is a test for it.

Tylenol, an old classic. Recently Tylenol lowered the dose recommended on the bottle not because the dose listed was incorrect, but to keep people from taking more than recommended. Also it was a popular way to commit suicide. The symptoms would be nausea, vomiting, belly pain, confusion, fatigue. There is a test for it.

Opioids – In the past decade opioids, your grandma’s pain pills have replaced cocaine as the most abused drug in the United States. There is a theory that because it is prescribed (even to someone else) that makes it safe. Of course, that is not the case. The symptoms would be slowed breathing, pinpoint pupils, sleepiness, and change in level of consciousness. In extreme cases, blue lips and nails (from the slow breathing) and seizures. There is a test for it.

Insulin – This is somewhat self explanatory. This medication causes your cells to take in more sugar from the blood, abruptly dropping your sugar level which can cause hypoglycemia. The most common cause is accidental. People take a shot and forget to eat, get distracted. The symptoms would be sweating, fatigue, just plain feeling weird/sick, lightheaded, dizziness, hunger. There is a test for it.

Potassium supplements – It would be really hard to take too much potassium in an oral form. In literature the most common way to give this would be in a shot. The reason for this is that the most common oral form of Potassium is a huge, whooping pill that tastes bad. It can results from other things including other medications, or kidney failure. It would be extremely unpleasant to take the amount needed orally for overdose. The symptoms are decreased blood pressure, stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, irritability and fatigue, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, paralysis. There is a test for it but must it be done quickly.

Thyroid supplements.

This is self explanatory. Too much thyroid is bad in excess. The symptoms would be chest pain, confusion, convulsions, rapid heart rate, weight loss, menstruation changes, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, swelling of legs, sweating. There is a test for it.


This usually is a risk with smokers who are trying to quit and add patches but continue to smoke at the same rate just doubling their nicotine dose. The symptoms would be chest pain, confusion, rapid heart rate, fatigue, anxiousness, increased blood pressure, and headache. There is no test for this.


Some of those Excedrin migraine pills, No-doz pills, some of the energy drinks. The symptoms of overdose are insomnia, flushed face, nervousness/anxiousness, stomach pain, muscle twitching, increased heart rate and chest pain from heart arrhythmias. There is no test for this.

See and we haven’t even gotten out of the bathroom! Note that this not an all inclusive list, that would take too long, just the most common ways to kill off the villain in your story with poisons that are easily obtained. Of if you are G. R. R. Martin, just about anyone, including kings.

Any questions, please ask.

In the future, we will move on to the rest of the house, then poisons in the garage, and poisons in nature.

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