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When a weapon is poisoned for added lethality. The weapon is frequently a dagger, but often an arrow, dart, or even a sword.
Poisoned weapons are typically used by villains, since they allow an easy victory or a spiteful revenge despite losing, especially in a duel. The Hero is usually too honorable or stupid to use it himself. Heroes down the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism and Combat Pragmatists sometimes use poison.
A literary device as old as time is to have a confrontation involving a poisoned weapon which the audience knows is poisoned, but the characters involved do not. Expect from such a weapon to ooze a purple or green and possibly stone-melting liquid. The poison is likely to either act instantly, or be timed to the Final Speech.
It should be noted that the poison being fatal isn't always the case. Often times, the poison will be nonlethal and merely intended to weaken or disorient the target instead. Reasons why vary from wanting to capture them alive, to avoid accidentally killing onself, to wanting to actually kill them with their own hand but knowing they only stand a chance against them if they're weakened. If the poison is actually lethal, it normally depends on who is hit with it whether or not the poison will actually kill them. If a hero is infected, the poison will normally be slow acting enough to permit a Find the Cure by his allies, but not always. If it's the villain, they're more likely to die.
See also Master Poisoner.
- In Noir, Shaoli delivers deadly poison with a mere scratch of her fingernails.
- In Blood Plus, Saya's sword has a little groove in it for her blood, which is fatal to most chiropterans.
- Quite common in Naruto: Sasori tips every weapon he has with poison (which is a lot of weapons), Shizune and one of Kankuro's puppets have poison needles, the Demon Brothers that Team 7 run into on the way to the Land of Waves used poison claws, Sakura once poisoned a kunai (and that she apparently learned to make it from Shizune), and Hanzo put some of his poison on his kusarigama.
- In Bleach, Little Miss Badass Lolly's zanpakutou is a dagger that releases poison.
- Evil bastard Mayuri Kurotsuchi's zanpakutou also poisons its target upon wounding them; befitting his extraordinarily sadistic personality, it paralyzes the victim's limbs enough to prevent movement without affecting their ability to feel pain.
- 2nd Division Captain Soi Fon gets in on the act too. Her own zanpakutou's poison won't kill the target outright unless it strikes the same area twice, which is helpfully pointed out by the enormous butterfly marks it makes on a wounded opponent.
- More recently, Gin's Bankai true power has been revealed as this. Not only his sword can grow very long and in a short amount of time, but it secretes a deadly poison which he can activate at will.
- In One Piece, Crocodile's trump card is a poisoned hook-hand.
- Brook and his entire crew were killed by pirates with poisoned weapons.
- In the same fashion, Don Krieg's most powerful weapon is a cannon ball filled with (oddly) white coloured poison Gas, and Wanze from the CP7 wields a huge poisonous kitchen knife as his last resolve.
- Thanks to the Doku-Doku Fruit (Poison-Poison Fruit), Impel Down's Chief Warden Magellen can use his entire body as a poisoned weapon.
- In a non canon example, Wapol's brother Musshul ate the Noko Noko fruit (stands for kinoko, mushroom) and can manipulate poisonous spores. This includes bullets, a drill like fungus on his arm and poison clouds.
- In Digimon Adventure, DemiDevimon tries to kill Sora with a poison dart, but Biyomon Takes the Bullet for her. Thankfully for her, while the poison is lethal to humans, it only makes Digimon severely ill for a time. Which is rather unfortunate because Myotismon shows up directly after that...
- Master Poisoner and Psycho for Hire Cheshire loves these. It's generally dangerous to let her so much as scratch you.
Cheshire: Hand me one of your bullets. I have something agonizing to dip it in.
- In Aeon Entelechy Evangelion a human working for the Migou used tiny carbon-fibre syringes hidden in her knuckles to assassinate the Marshal.
- In Winter War, Soi Fong and Ukitake finally manage to kill the Barragan Fragment by getting its corrosive blood on their swords. Unfortunately for them, the blood is also eating through their EmpathicWeapons as they fight...
- Indiana Jones: Poisoned blowdarts are featured twice.
- The Na'vi of Avatar dip their arrows in a toxin that will stop a human's heart in a minute. That doesn't really matter, though, because the arrows are the size of broomsticks and the Na'vi are crack shots.
- Our Man Flint. Gila uses a poisoned dart propelled by a harp to try to assassinate Flint, and Flint uses a curare-tipped dart to take out a fly.
- Hudson Hawk. Almond Joy uses a blowgun with curare-tipped darts against the title character and Tommy Five-Tone.
- In From Russia with Love Rosa Klebb has a poisoned dagger in the toe of her shoe. At the end, she has a kicking fight with James Bond who pushes her against the wall with a chair until Tatiana Romanova shoots her. (Compare with the novel)
- That Man From Rio opens with a museum robbery, where the crook kills a guard with a poison dart gun. It initially looks like heart failure to the police, but the museum head notes the poison is a common weapon of the vanished Mesoamerican culture that made the stolen artifact.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Barbossa poisons his sword in order to insure even more suffering when he attempts (and succeeds) to kill Blackbeard.
- Dune loves this one:
- The gom jabbar, a poisoned needle used by Bene Gesserit Proctors in their death-alternative test of human awareness, is a "specific poison needle tipped with meta-cyanide".
- The first book has Paul facing Feyd Rautha at the end duel. Feyd has a poisoned spring needle in his belt. They both also have poisoned blades, Feyd's with a soporific and Paul's with acid.
- Alia kills the Baron Harkonnen with a poisoned needle during the confusion.
- Crysknives often have a groove in them where poison can be applied.
- When fighting gladiators, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen was allowed to use a short knife with a poisoned blade. During his hundredth bout, he secretly put the poison on his long knife instead, which allowed him to win the match.
- Redwall: Employed by villains. Cluny the Scourge has a poisoned barb on the end of his tail, which kills the Abbot slowly enough for him to deliver his Final Speech, and the minor character Farran the Poisoner possesses an instant-death poisoned dagger.
- The Obsidian Trilogy: The Goblins have deadly poison on their claws and teeth (the Shadowed Elves often use them on weapons). Only the timely intervention of a unicorn can save someone from even a slight or incidental dose.
- In The Lord of the Rings, the Witch-King stabs Frodo with a Morgul-blade. If Elrond hadn't cured him, the poison of the blade would have turned him into a wraith. It's also mentioned in the books that orcs sometimes put poison on their blades.
- In one of the The Stainless Steel Rat stories, a character gets into a fight with an assassin, and the knife barely touches the assassin and he dies, it turns out not only did he have a very nasty knife but the knife was coated with a neurotoxin that would kill anyone on skin contact.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Oberyn Martell (aka The Red Viper) is infamous for using poisoned weapons, and it allows him to deliver a quasi-fatal wound to the Brutish Complete Monster Gregor Clegane.
- Man Plus, a science fiction novel by Frederik Pohl, has the U.S. Secret Service require women meeting the president to soak their hands in a solution first, in case their fingernails have a biochemical poison on them.
- In The Wheel of Time, a form of dueling is mentioned as having existed shortly before the collapse of the Age of Legends which involved Dual-Wielding daggers laced with a slow-acting poison. Most duels ended with both participants dying.
- Sherlock Holmes: The villain of The Adventure of the Dying Detective is a doctor who has killed his nephew by surreptitiously injecting him with a deadly illness. He later on tries to do Holmes in the same way by sending him a package with secret spring-loaded, virus-tipped needles, but Holmes is able to see through his scheme. (Having a lot of enemies tends to make the detective overly cautious of the mail he receives.) Holmes pretends to be infected, and he soon manages to lure the evil doctor over to his apartment and trick him into a confession in front of witnesses.
- When the anti-hero protagonist of Altered Carbon goes to the armorer, among the weapons he buys is a poison-coated knife.
- Mallorean: Sadi, one of the heroic party members carries a variety of poisons, and his major weapon in battle is a poisoned dagger. When Belgarath asks the group to minimize casualties during a fight with Mooks, he's responsible for two of the three deaths at its close - "It's a little hard to unpoison a knife." (The third was Silk taking out an ambusher.)
- The Sword of Shannara: Menion Leah, a heroic protagonist, poisons some arrows when the opportunity arises, just in case. He uses them in the very next scene to try and kill a dragon.
- A prequel to The Deptford Mice series has enemies who wear golden claws with an impossibly nasty poison that causes you to pretty much dissolve into goo. When one character finds an unconscious one of them, Hoist by His Own Petard is subverted by What an Idiot! when the guy decides to put on the claw and kill him with it, but accidentally scratches himself. He then runs away from the incurable poison already in his veins, and dies very quickly as opposed to using his remaining time to say, kill the one he poisoned himself getting ready to kill.
- In some versions of Tristan and Isolde, Tristan is poisoned by the Irish knight Morholt's spear (but wins the duel), and sent on a craft without rows or sail as a last-ditch effort. He lands in Ireland, where Morholt's niece Isolde cures him, not knowing he was Morholt's killer.
- Hercules had arrows poisoned with hydra blood. Sophocles is the first author to mention this, making this one Older Than Feudalism. Similarly, a poisoned arrow was used to finally kill the otherwise Invincible Hero Achilles towards the end of the Trojan War.
- Valeri Petrofsky of The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth carried a handgun that fired hollow-point bullets filled with cyanide.
- The Cabinet of Curiosities reveals that the thought to be Big Bad was poisoning weapons, clothing, and other objects in an effort to find an effective means of destroying humanity, research he stopped only because he felt the creation of Hydrogen Bomb made him think the rest of humanity was perfectly capable of destroying itself on its own.
- This Immortal by Roger Zelazny: assassin Hasan (who has been forcibly disarmed) is forced to fight the Dead Man and spends the time filing his nails. To really sharp points. His bullets (which weren't taken away) had meta-cyanide on them. He scratched the Dead Man at the start of the fight, and stalled until it dropped. Then he got the leader too.
- The Saint: The Saint himself discovered a poison-dart launcher built into a doorbell once. He avoided getting shot, kept the dart, and later used it in a booby-trapped parcel to prick the finger of the villain.
- The Tail of the Tip Off: A rather ingenious example is found in Rita Mae Brown's novel. When H. H. Donaldson drops dead after going to a basketball game, an autopsy shows he was poisoned through an injection in the neck, but the poison would have had to have been administered during the game for it to kill him when it did. No one saw anything despite the bleachers being packed, and Donaldson didn't react in any way as he would have had someone jabbed him in the neck with a needle. It turns out the killer froze the poison into an ice dart, and was able to kill Donaldson by shooting it our of a noise maker into his neck. No weapon was found because the ice melted, releasing the poison.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's orginal Tarzan books, Tarzan uses poison arrows that he steals from the natives, at least until he scares them into leaving a bundle out with some food every so often as 'tribute' to the forest spirit they think they've angered.
- In the Conan the Barbarian story Black Colossus, Shevatas poisoned his blade to deal with the snake.
- In From Russia With Love, Rosa Klebb had a poisoned dagger at the toe of her shoe. She nicks James Bond with it and he passes out from the poison in seconds. The novel ends at that point. (Compare with the film)
- In Memory Sorrow and Thorn, Binabik carries a hollow walking stick, a small roll of poisoned needles, and a bundle of loose wool. When combined, these make a blowgun that shoots poison darts, allowing the diminutive troll to pack a lethal stealth attack.
- In Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle gets hit by a poisoned arrow. Xena has to look after her and find the antidote in time whilst fighting off an entire army.
- One episode of Get Smart had some Yellow Peril villain with long, poison coated fingernails. It probably best summarized that show, too, with him getting defeated because Agent 99 randomly had a bottled mosquito in her purse, which she used to get him to accidentally scratch himself upon swatting it.
- In Stargate Atlantis episode "The Tower", Sheppard ends up with the Evil Chancellor trying to kill him in the climax. When Sheppard disarms him, Otho is cut with his own poisoned dagger and dies in moments, after providing the quote up above.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Faith poisons Angel by shooting him with a poisoned arrow.
- Monroe uses an elephant gun with bullets coated in a special poison to take a siegbarste in Grimm.
- It's mentioned in Babylon 5 that the Drazi often poison their blade tips.
- The Bandar Pygmy tribe, allies of The Phantom, are infamous for their envenomed arrows. A less polite term for them, used by their neighbours, is The Poison People.
- The Dark Elves in Warlords Battlecry will use poisoned weapons.
- Poisoned weapons are a game mechanic in Warhammer and Warhammer 40000. The latter has guns which fire ninja stars coated in a poison so horrible it makes the target's blood explode. Generally used by the even more evil races, though in Warhammer they're a speciality of the close-as-you-get-to-good Lizardmen.
- Representing their love for this one, the Dark Eldar have poisoned weapons as an upgrade in Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War Soulstorm. Note that according to the fluff it's usually nonlethal, as Dark Eldar want to take prisoners. In-game, it just makes their weapons deadlier.
- This sometimes seems a little unnecessary, given the tech levels in Warhammer 40000. For example, the Callidus Assassin is armed with a gun that rips your brain apart, a sword that can cut through anything in the universe except the Great Old Ones who invented it... and a poisoned knife. Which in some circumstances is exactly what you need.
- GURPS: Ultra-Tech has a shuriken made of "coherent sound" that can be used to deliver poison when it attacks.
- Exalted: Wood Aspected Dragon-Blooded are capable of producing a magical plant toxin from their anima. They can poison you with a simple touch or unarmed attack, or with a very basic Charm can also channel this toxin through a weapon.
- Essentially, virtually every action adventure-based tabletop RPG (which is to say, most of them) will have at least a few paragraphs on the effects of poison on player characters — from a simple "save or die" to lovingly detailed descriptions of a given poison's exact effects over time. Some systems (notably early editions of (A)D&D) then promptly go out of their way to make the use of poison by player characters in turn as impractical as possible or even ban it outright, while others won't bat an eye.
- In D&D Fourth Edition, poison use is one of the main shticks of the Executioner Assassin player class. The class makes a certain number of uses of poison each day (determined by level) which can be applied to weapons or used directly on enemies. Other classes have access to poison-based powers as well, but since the poison damage type is resisted by more creatures than any other damage type, it's not the best type of damage to specialize in.
- 3rd Edition has a 5% chance of accidentally poisoning yourself when applying acid to a blade, although certain classes, such as Assassins, are trained to avoid this. It's still not very practical, however, as the good stuff is expensive, and by the time you can avoid it in mass quantities, most enemies will make their Saving Throw easily.
- Poisoned weapons featured in a number of Shakespeare's plays, perhaps most prominently in Hamlet.
- In a flashback of Suikoden II, it is revealed that a previous border-skirmish between the Highlands and the Jowston Alliance was to be settled with a contest of champions - a duel between the greatest hero of both sides. That those two happened to be personal friends was supposed to make it into an honorable fight. However, when the battle was joined, the hero of Jowston, Genkaku, refused to even lift his sword. Eventually, Highland's hero had no choice but to simply disarm him and claim victory. Genkaku was condemned as a traitor and banished to Highland... but later, it was revealed that the Major of Jowston had surreptiously poisoned Genkaku's weapon in order to ensure a victory - but Genkaku had realized this. If he had let this subterfuge be known, it would have triggered renewed hostilities between Jowston and Highland, so instead, he simply refused to swing his poisoned blade...
- In Suikoden V Lyon is stabbed and near-killed with a poisoned dagger.
- Some weapons in the Final Fantasy series inflict the "Poisoned" status effect on enemies when they hit.
- In Final Fantasy V, Sword Mages/Mystics can enchant their swords with the poisonous Bio spell, adding magical poison to their attacks.
- In Final Fantasy VII, any weapon with two linked materia slots could be associated with an element or status effect, including poison.
- In Final Fantasy IX, the Rune Tooth and the Poison Knuckles can both inflict poison, while the Scissor Fangs can inflict the more dangerous venom.
- In Final Fantasy X, you can give any weapon this ability.
- Final Fantasy XI has poisoned weapons as well, but they're generally not that useful.
- In Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, Ninja Tristam's shuriken are imbued with poison and paralysis abilities.
- Possible hero example: Commander Shepard can equip his/her weapons with Polonium rounds (if you can handle enemies breaking down into green vapor after death).
- The Assassin class in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn can poison their weapons. There are also poisoned arrows.
- The poison is also applied to any traps the assassin deploys while under the 'poisoned weapon' effect.
- The Hrunting in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is an example of a poisoned sword.
- If you have the right combination in Circle of the Moon (Manticore and Mercury), you can make your whip poisonous. Another combination (Manticore and Mars) turns it into poisonous claws.
- In World of Warcraft, rogues gain the ability to create and apply poison to their weapons for extra damage or other effects.
- Players in RuneScape can create poisons to use on daggers, arrows, spears and a few throwing weapons using the Herblore skill. There are three poisons, each stronger than the previous, and they're made from a herb and a dragon scale, a cactus spine and spider eggs, and poison ivy berries and belladonna respectively, from weakest to strongest. Belladonna is potent enough to strongly damage the player just when it's touched with bare hands.
Additionally, a small octopus caught on a tropical island, and when somewhat heated it becomes as poisonous as the strongest poison - then it can be ground into a paste that can be applied to spears only, though. The reason of such a limitation? There is no real one. Only the mentioned select few above weapons can be poisoned, too - many other bladed weapons can't be.
- Poisoned weapons are featured frequently in Fire Emblem. There's usually no way for you to get one though, making them Unusable Enemy Equipment (or rather, Unobtainable Enemy Equipment). In games that allow you to steal or otherwise obtain an enemy unit's equipment, the poisoned weapons are converted into plain old iron weapons when in your possession.
- In Radiant Dawn, you can disarm an opponent and steal them and they'll still be poisonous. Not really worth it, since they do less damage than iron weapons, but it is still possible should one want to use them.
- Arrows in Nethack can be poisoned, which can lead to much frustration since poison can sometimes cause instant death.
- Magicka has several poisoned weapons. They also are the only way to create poison elementals.
- Diablo 2 allows low-level Necromancers to enchant daggers with poison. Poison enchantments on weapons was also quite common, even though these enchantments were generally far from lethal in any way.
- Bruno's poisoned daggers were a plot point in Quest for Glory V. The hero could obtain and even use one. Not recommended if you're playing a paladin.
- Deus Ex features poisoned crossbow bolts, which serve as tranquilizer darts (though they kill you). In the sequel there is a similar dart gun, but also a hidden, poisoned dagger. Striking your enemies with it makes them cough from the poison in addition to extra damage. This is especially useful as continuous strikes will have your opponent hacking so much he won't have the chance to fight back.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion lets you poison your weapons. Any potion you make (or find) which only has negative effects will be treated as a poison and be applied to your weapon (delivering its effects to the next enemy you strike with a melee weapon or applying them to the next arrow you fire). This causes some confusion as to how a warhammer-or other blunt weapon, which has no method of actually transmitting the poison into the host's body-can be poisoned in the same manner as, say, a sword or battleaxe/waraxe.
- In skyrim poison returns, but further testing one's Willing Suspension of Disbelief, a master of pickpocketing can reverse pickpocket a poison vial into their possession to poison them without the recipient noticing
- Battle for Wesnoth has a Poison weapon special, used (in mainline) on Orcish Assassins' throwing knives, and Ghouls' claws. This ability turns both, especially Orcish assassins into Demonic Spiders
- The Dart Gun from Fallout 3 contains Rad-Scorpion poison, and will instantly cripple the victim's legs as well as causing damage over time. Interestingly enough, a sting from an actual Rad-Scorpion does not cause either of these effects to you or NPCs, it just deals damage. They did poison you in the prequels, though.
- Fallout: New Vegas ups the ante, by allowing you to craft numerous types of poison and apply them to any melee weapon. It wears off after one use, making it less useful on standard weapons, but kickass on thrown ones.
- Myst: According to Achenar's journal in the fourth game, he used poisoned spears to kill the two large sea monsters (known as Cerpatees) in Haven.
- In Assassin's Creed II, Ezio can get a poison upgrade for his hidden blade. It's the quietest weapon in the game, and because it has a delayed effect, you can poison a target and then get long gone before the target finally dies.
- An interesting bug in the game means that if the poisoned target, while flailing around uncontrollably, hits anyone, all the guards will blame you and go into high alert.
- Monster Hunter series: Poisoned weapons do exist, but they behave a little differently from the norm. First, each monster has its own tolerance to poison — Bnahabra die instantly from poison smoke, while bigger monsters tend to resist it more readily. Also, each monster takes a given amount of damage maximum from the poison, and no weapon can inflict more or less. That said, a weapon's Poison attribute is in fact its virulence - a higher attribute means that the poison starts doing damage with fewer blows. Neurotoxins (paralysis) and sleeping agents (sleep) behave in the same way.
- Exile and Avernum give players the ability to poison melee weapons or arrows. Handy for taking out that nasty spellcaster hanging out in the back, as multiple hits from poisoned weapons makes the poison worse. There's also the Alien Blade, which constantly drips poison.
- There are enough enemies dealing poisoned attacks to make poison resistances and cures necessary. Same with the Geneforge series.
- Early FPS/RPG Strife allows you to use poisoned bolts for your crossbow, turning it from your weakest weapon to a One-Hit Kill weapon on grunts.
- Command and Conquer Generals allows the GLA to infect their tank shells with toxins given the proper upgrade. Dr. Thrax, in the Zero Hour expansion, takes it Up to Eleven and places poison on everything in his arsenal.
- Dark Souls has some poisoned weapons, throwing knives, and arrows. Also, enemies in Blighttown use poison darts and giant clubs.
- In League of Legends Teemo uses a blowgun with poisoned darts, Twitch uses poisoned crossbow bolts, and Gangplank soaks his blades in grog - which is apparently pretty strong stuff, because it deals damage over time and slows enemies it hits. Cassiopeia and Singed cut out the middleman and simply blast people with contact poison or gas.
- In Rice Boy, T-O-E (one of the good guys) carries a poison blade, possibly anticipating that he would have to fight Golgo, and that poison was the only thing that could kill Golgo.
- The Order of the Stick has Daimyo Kubota utilizing a poisoned ring to kill Therkla after she decides to act in a way that is not in his best interests. Con damage is a bitch, isn't it? He's even Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to avoid the typical downside of this trope: instead of carrying the antidote when the time comes to use the poison, he drinks the antidote in advance, so he'll be immune to the poison just in case he gets scratched, but his intended victim won't be able to obtain a cure in time. And to not be beaten in Genre Savvy twice, Elan learns Neutralize Poison afterwards.
- Girl Genius not only hints that Smoke Knight's weapons are poisoned, but shows how it can be used for an insult (what with those poisonous frogs and all):
Tarvek: Violetta — have you been licking your knives again?
Violetta: Tsk, I know that. That wasn't poison, that was more Movit #11. Now all I have to do is watch you combust.
- Wulfenbach commandos had poisoned dirks. Fast-acting stuff, apparently.
- In Strays, Feral's foe uses them.
- Survival of the Fittest: Blood Boy's assigned weapons are an Ida (an African sword) and a vial of poison meant to be applied to the blade.
- Phase (Ayla Goodkind) of the Whateley Universe is now carrying some poisoned throwing darts. When chided for it by an instructor, she shows she also carries a syringe of antidote.
- In one episode of The Simpsons with Homer's brother, Herb, Bart is given a membership card to the NRA as a present from Herb so Bart can buy a machinegun when he's older. He asks if he can get armour piercing cyanide-tipped bullets to go with it. Herb replies, "It's in the constitution, son."
- In Sandokan, one evil tribe uses poisoned spears.
- Poisoned weapons are used to this day by South American tribes, who use blowdarts smeared with the secretions of poisonous frogs.
- Back in the day, Chicago gangsters were known to use poisoned bullets. Can be useful if you miss the enemy's vitals. Yeesh.
- A school superintendent was murdered in the 70s. He was shot eight times, and the coroner found traces of cyanide on the bullets. Somewhat unsurprisingly, though, the official cause of death was being shot eight times.
- Poisoned bladed weapons in real life have always been uncommon and not very effective because successful strikes make almost all the poison bleed out almost as soon as the wound is made (not to mention that with such a weapon, simply damaging a major organ or fatality via blood loss works with greater speed and reliability). Blowdarts, throwing spikes and the like are exceptions because they cause very little bleeding, and do manage to inject useful amounts of poison into the body.
- The word toxic comes from the Greek toxikon, a poison made from yew extract for use on arrows (toxa).
- A common battle tactic in medieval times was to fire a bag of feces, dead animals or even dead humans over a castle gate, as a quick and easy way to spread pestilence and sicken the defenders. Sticking your sword in some pig shit and then running it through a guy also worked wonders, since it dramatically reduced the likelihood he'd recover and come back to fight you again later.
- Similarly, nomadic peoples of the steppes sometimes employed this method or its variant on their arrows.
- British scientists during World War II worked upon a grenade shooting dozens of poisoned needles instead of your common shrapnel. The project was scrapped; the sadism-to-usefulness ratio was too large.
- During The Vietnam War the Viet-Cong would smear human feces on Punji sticks (a simple spike, made out of wood or bamboo, generally placed upright in the ground). The injury, normally to the foot or lower leg, would almost instantly swell up with infection. Unless treated quickly, loss of limb or death would occur.
- Georgi Markov, assassinated by the KGB with a poison dart filled with ricin.
- Early bullets usually consisted entirely of lead, and sometimes copper (if it was more widely available in the region). Both are toxic metals, and often caused secondary poisoning in the man they shot, assuming he lived long enough for that to be an issue. Modern bullets often utilize both. Its not that they're intended to be toxic, its just that they're cheap and have good ballistic properties (due to high density); their toxicity is more of a beneficial side effect.
Worst still are higher end bullets made of tungsten carbide and depleted uranium. Tungsten carbide is rather toxic, but has excellent hardness and ballistic properties due to its high density. However, most military forces prefer the much cheaper depleted uranium (a left over from nuclear programs thats of no use for bombs or in reactors, and unlike tungsten doesn't need to be heated to 3000 degrees Celsius to melt into shape), which is almost as dense, slightly radioactive, self sharpens upon breaking (leading to better armor penetration), makes for a fairly good incendiary weapon, and on top of all that is still very toxic in the conventional chemical way.
- A recent development is called Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) that mixes powdered tungsten into explosives to make the explosion more localized (tungsten being the inert metal) in order to limit collateral damage and increase targeted destruction. One unintentional consequence is the medical side effects of this are that the victims are poisoned with tungsten powder and there is no surgical way to treat this condition.
- Some monitor lizards' bites are essentially a natural version of this; they harbor enough infectious bacteria that their saliva is toxic even to large animals. There is speculation that a monitor lizard also produces a small amount of true venom, but usually infection is what kills their prey, and captive monitor lizards have a cleaner mouth and therefore a less deadly bite.