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Bizarre Alien Biology is a staple of Speculative Fiction. One of the common ways of showing it off is to show the oddity of extraterrestrial diets, especially in regards to Earth food. Perhaps vinegar is toxic to these guys, but they need regular infusions of arsenic to survive?

With this in mind, it's no surprise that certain mundane-to-us substances might make them a bit... funny.

Ordinary substances being intoxicants for aliens (or similarly otherworldly beings) is very likely to come up in stories that feature them. It can be serious; for example, exploring the ramifications of ginger addiction. Of course, it can also be Played for Laughs, because it's funny to watch someone get trashed on Gummi Bears.

You can also see the equivalent in fantasy fiction; it's fairly common for certain kinds of vampires to react to human blood as though it were a drug.

Compare Fantastic Drug and Spice of Life. See also Klingons Love Shakespeare and I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin.

Examples of Alien Catnip include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Ah! My Goddess, it turns out that plain old cola has the same effect on Belldandy that alcohol should ("should" being the operative word). Fortunately, she's just as nice drunk as she is when sober, if not more so, which actually causes problems of a different sort.
  • Lucia in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch gets drunk off cola too in one chapter of the manga and spends the rest of the time worrying about what she can't remember. In the anime, this was further Bowdlerised into a magic emotion-controlling jewel.
  • In Keroro Gunsou, high levels of humidity can cause Keronians to act drunk, though this usually only affects Keroro. It also increases their strength, intelligence and reaction time. This is used to justify why the usually lazy and weak Keroro is the leader of his group: the humidity is just naturally higher on their homeworld, where he performs at peak efficiency.
  • In Death Note, apples[1] have the same effect on Shinigami as cigarettes or alcohol do on humans, and Ryuk actually goes through withdrawal symptoms if he can't have any.

 Ryuk: I do handstands and my body twists up like a pretzel! It's not a pretty sight!

    • It's unclear whether or not Ryuk was lying about this. He does get really weird when he doesn't have apples, but when he becomes unable to communicate with Light for a long time he snaps out of it immediately and goes about his business. It's possible that he just really likes apples and is trying to annoy Light into giving him more.
  • Lum and Ten from Urusei Yatsura would get drunk off of pickled plums. Note that they're otherwise immune to alcohol and poison.
    • There was also an alien fruit juice that had that effect on humans (and not on oni).
  • Eris in Asobi Ni Iku Yo the alien Catgirl gets high off what else? Catnip!


  • The Martian Manhunter loves Oreo Cookies. Really loves Oreo cookies. Turns out they have an effect on his Martian physiology similar to nicotine.
    • In The Sandman, he celebrates meeting one of the Endless by sharing a box with a worker at the Watchtower.

Fan Works

Films — Live-Action

  • In District 9, the alien Prawn have a voracious hankering for cat food. Black markets spring up for the stuff and all. We can speculate they get high on tyrosine or taurine in the fish protein—other food would do it, but cat food is good—and cheap. Or it is just using the Rule of Funny.
  • The Neewcomers in Alien Nation get drunk on sour milk. Alcohol has no effect on them.


  • Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series has ordinary ginger acting close to cocaine for males of the reptilian Race, but it's the way it puts females into completely unscheduled heat that creates some interesting complications, like introducing the concepts of romantic love, marriage, and The Oldest Profession to a race of beings that finds humanity's constant sex drive repulsive.
  • In Frank and Brian Herbert's novel Man of Two Worlds, ordinary basil acts as a powerful psychoactive for the Dreens, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who created most of the universe with their thoughts. They call it Bazeel.
  • Animorphs
    • Instant maple and ginger oatmeal is addictive to Yeerks, makes them lose control over their hosts, replaces part of their brain stem, and drives them crazy. Yes, the characters realize that it's absurd. It veers into the horrific when you realize that the oatmeal also removes the Yeerk's need to leave its host head occasionally, and it makes the Yeerk immortal. The poor host is going to have an insane alien slug in his brain till he dies.

 Jake: Battles involving oatmeal are just never going to end up being historic, you know?

    • Ax seems to develop a near addiction to anything related to taste, as his species normally have no sense of taste. Some of the things he enjoys gorging himself with include: cinnamon buns, chili, engine oil and cigarette butts. The human race ends up exchanging doughnuts for alien technology
  • In the Young Wizards series, chocolate has a variety of effects on different alien species; it acts as a drug for some, but others just like how it tastes. It's also why UFOs really visit Earth. Carmela forces an entire battalion of aliens to back down by threatening a wrapped chocolate bar in the eighth book.
  • Star Trek
    • The Novelization of Star Trek IV the Voyage Home claims that sucrose (i.e., refined sugar) is an intoxicant for Vulcans; it uses this as a Hand Wave to justify some of Spock's more bizarre actions in the movie.
    • Sulamids in the novel Spock's World are offhandedly said to have the same reaction—or some reaction, anyway; mention is made of untangling their tentacles after getting into the sugar bowl.
    • In the modern Star Trek Novel Verse, Strawberries are a mild narcotic to the Mizarians, as revealed in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series. Human merchants find productive trade on Mizar and its outposts.
  • The Star Wars universe features a species that can become addicted to table salt, and there's even a quick and easy indicator. The entry in the Essential Guide to Alien Species features an excerpt from the journals of Mammon Hoole (a member of a species of shapeshifters who uses his abilities to further his job as an anthropologist when the local species is likely to eat outsiders) describes an encounter he had with a young male of the species who was ready to mate, and had gone through a depressingly logical and tedious process to decide which of a selection of females it was going to be. When the young man, with Hoole in tow, reached the domicile of the lucky woman, he was shocked to find that since he had last seen her, her eyes had turned from green to gold, giving away her salt addiction and marking her as unsuitable for mating.
  • In The Company Novels, chocolate (referred to as Theobromos) is the only thing that can intoxicate the time-traveling operatives, and thus you get things like one character having a "dealer" in premium chocolate.
  • In Sweet Silver Blues, Morley Dotes bribes a colony of brownies to spy on a mansion for him with sugar. They are later shown strewn all over the neighbor's lawn, giggling and stoned to the gills.
  • In The Belgariad, candy has a much stronger effect on dryads than on humans. One of the prologues even has Belgarath having to be very careful to avoid getting Ce'Nedra's ultimate great-grandmother hopelessly addicted to it (he doesn't mind her being addicted to it, mind you—he just needs her able to function without it).
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, Time Lords are very hard to get drunk. Ginger pop, however, hits them hard. Shakespeare once spiked the Doctor's beer, and Hilarity Ensued.
  • In John Ringo's Troy Rising series, maple syrup is, to many of the aliens with which humanity interacts, an addictive beverage with effects similar to that of alcohol on humans.
  • In a Henry Kuttner story, robots are able to get drunk from an electricity overdose.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat series. Here too robots are able to get drunk on electricity.
  • There is a story by Isaac Asimov about a man who tries to get a sentient insect (from Earth) drunk. Alcohol does not work, but the insect informs him that catnip and honey would have.
  • The dinosaur protagonists of Anonymous Rex use various spices as potent drugs.
  • The most common illegal drug for Discworld trolls is Slab, ammonium chloride cut with radium. There are plenty of others, as well.
  • Twilight vampires will occasionally run into someone whose blood is like this for them, to the point of being nigh-irresistible. Like the main couple. To a notably lesser extent, any human's blood.
  • Butterbeer, in the Harry Potter novels, while mild to wizards, is depicted as being quite intoxicating to house-elves.
    • It's debatable just how "soft" butterbeer actually is. The simplest explanation is that it is a mildly alcoholic malt beverage: not enough alcohol to have a major effect on even a very young (Harry has his first nip at 14, and the stuff doesn't seem to be age-restricted like firewhisky) human, but if a house elf (roughly half the size of even an adolescent human) rips through a six-pack in under an hour, well....
  • Celery acts as a literal Alien Catnip to the treecats of the Honor Harrington series. It's depicted as containing a compound that enhances treecat telepathy, as well as having the more expected effects of such substances.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's urban fantasy novels, caffeine is an instantly addictive drug for elves.
  • In The Witcher books at least greater vampires suck blood only to get drunk. There was even one abstainer—being cut into a dozen pieces buried separately for a century or so after overindulgence can drive the lesson home quite well.
  • Captain Future has two examples. First, one of the characters has a pet called Eek who eats metals, preferring heavy ones. Large doses of silver or gold were shown to make him rather drunk. Also, in one of the books, Otho (a shapeshifting android), disguised as a human, goes to investigate in a bar. First, he drinks a bottle of Gargle Blaster without any visible effect, then he orders wine... laced with radium chloride. That one works.

Live-Action TV

  • Alien Nation has sour milk as akin to alcohol. Considering that milk contains lactose and does ferment if handled properly, this simply means that they really like kumiss or kefir, or just plain old yoghurt and cheese.
    • Since human cells and the bacteria involved in milk spoilage produce lactic acid under anaerobic conditions this might suggest that the aliens are more like fungi than mammals and produce alcohol when exhausted.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Slayer blood is this for Vampires. It's also mentioned that a vamp can become high by feeding off someone who is high.

  Spike: If every vampire who said he was at the Crucifixion was actually there it would've been like Woodstock. I was actually at Woodstock... that was a weird gig. I fed off a flower person and I spent six hours watching my hand move.

  • Apparently mold that’s poisonous to us humans is “meth plus helium” to Wesen in the series Grimm.
  • On an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina becomes addicted to pancakes (part of an old Spellman family curse, of which there were many), and at one point gorges herself to the point of bloating. When she tries to go cold turkey, she experiences withdrawal symptoms, hallucinating that Salem is a pile of pancakes asking whether she is hungry, imagining that the school is putting on an elaborate musical number imploring her to eat pancakes, and dreaming that a giant syrup bottle tries to persuade her to come away to a haven for witches addicted to pancakes, where she can eat to her heart's content. It was a really weird episode.
  • Mork and Mindy
  • In the short-lived sci-fi series Something Is Out There, the female alien protagonist Ta'ra gets inebriated on caffeine.
  • In Babylon 5, Minbari become psychotic and violent if they drink even a small amount of alcohol.
  • One episode of ALF has ALF becoming addicted to eating cotton, which has lots of weird side effects on him such as causing him to dance around wearing a bowler hat and holding a banana while singing showtunes.
  • Farscape
    • In "Kansas," Rygel starts stealing candy from trick-or-treating children. High on the candy, he asks John, "how illegal is this dren? You've gotta get me more! I don't care what it costs!"
    • In "A Constellation of Doubt", Rygel points out that most species consider refined sucrose to be an addictive poison. As Earth is not that health mad quite yet, it is available everywhere and Rygel is indulging himself.
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, the 456 use human children as a euphoric drug, incorporating the child into their physiology and getting high off the child's hormones.
  • In My Parents Are Aliens, the Bizarre Alien Biology of the titular parents cause them to get very high from various innocent things. A Running Gag was that eating ice cream would cause Brian to sprout a pair of moose antlers.
  • To the Pyrians in Andromeda ammonium phosphate (fertilizer) is a highly addictive and deadly drug. One planet based their economy on smuggling it to them, when Captain Hunt found out that was why the Pyrian fleet was blowing up their freighters he stopped trying to help them.
  • In True Blood, the blood of people with Faerie ancestry like Sookie is intoxicating to vampires.
  • Salt is a potent drug to the alien Gua in First Wave.

Tabletop Games

  • Plushies in the German game Pluesch Power Und Plunder can get addicted to washing powder if they have to go into the washing machine too often (which is the case if they get dirty).

Video Games

  • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc features hallucinogenic plums and alcoholic plum juice. Murfy claims that Globox's drunk reaction to the juice comes from being allergic, but Andre does say that the juice is better when fermented.
  • Hivers in Sword of the Stars have taste and smell organs that are wired in a way that strongly fermented human foods, especially cheese, becomes like mild narcotics to them. It's mentioned in the supplementary novels that cheese is one of humanity's main exports to the hivers.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Futurama
    • Bender, being a robot fueled by alcohol, malfunctions as if heavily inebriated whenever he doesn't drink enough. He even develops a patch of rust around his mouth, mirroring a human's 5 o'clock shadow.
    • There's also an episode in which Bender gets high by overloading on electricity, complete with an LSD-reminiscent hallucination when he first tries "jacking on".
    • Anchovies are either addictive to Decapodians like Zoidberg (which led to anchovies being eaten into extinction), or they just taste ridiculously delicious. Or both.
  • The entire plot of schlocky Christmas special Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer happens because of fictional catnip-alike "reindeer-nip", which reindeer will drop everything and trample old ladies to get at.
  1. (or any given Shinigami's Trademark Favourite Food)