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Fictional Sci-Fi Movie Drugs

Like much of sci-fi, even fictional narcotics may one day become scientific reality.

By Futurism StaffPublished 10 years ago 11 min read

With names like Nuke, NZT, and Bacta, it isn't always easy to tell the difference between a sci-fi movie drugs and something you might find on the List of Schedule I Drugs. Irrespective of the fictitious nature of the drugs, the films have still managed to ignite controversy. The existence of the drugs is not in question, the probability that they will not eventually be created is not as clear. Future drugs in science fiction tend to be divided into two categories. Many of the drugs are geared more towards enhanced abilities and unbound power. Other drugs are more traditional in nature, some spiritual and some recreational.

Limitless - NZT-48 (2011)

Form:Clear pill

Uses:Maximum Brain Usage, Heightened Senses

Side Effects:Insomnia, violent thoughts, psychosis, blackouts, death

Notes:A nootropic that comes as a small clear pill which vastly increases a user's intelligence. If already smart, the gain is exponential. However, the enhancement is only temporary, requiring long-term commitment, and the user is at risk of death if he/she goes off it for too long. Psychologically addictive, withdrawal causes headaches and nausea. Side effects include blackouts and reduced auditory and visual focus. The later version of NZT at the end of the movie permanently enhances a user's intelligence without the harmful side-effects. Limitless came out in 2011 and directed by Neil Burger. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Robert De Niro. Cooper’s character is suffering from writer’s block and is stressed by an approaching deadline. The brother of Cooper’s character’s ex-wife gives him NZT, which was meant to help him focus. In 2015, there is a television that continued the story. The film is based on Alan Glynn’s novel The Dark Fields.

Robocop 2 - Nuke (1990)

Form:Red liquid in which is injected

Uses:Energy, Euphoria

Side Effects:Instant addiction

Notes:A powerful, addictive, synthetic injected narcotic, with effects that resemble cocaine. The red color variety in the film is called "Red Ramrod". A blue variety called "Blue Velvet" was under development and unsuccessfully tested by Nuke-cult leader Cain, but the lab was destroyed during a police raid before it could be completed. Several other types mentioned but never seen are White Noise and Black Thunder. RoboCop 2 is a cyperpunk film directed by Irvin Kershner that came out in 1990. It stars Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Belinda Bauer, Tom Noonan, and Gabriel Damon. An interesting fact about the movie is that in the movie, Detroit files for bankruptcy which ironically actually happened in 2013.

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back - Bacta (1980)

Form:Injection, patch, bacta-tank, consumption

Uses:Rapid Tissue Repair

Side Effects:Tissue regeneration while preventing the emergence of scar tissue. No negative side effects other than confusion.

Notes:A liquid in Star Wars which mimics the body's fluids and helps in regeneration. It is used to help with cuts and burns as well as severe cellular damage, such as frostbite. The subject is suspended in a full-immersion tank for treatment of large-scale injuries, or via a patch or lotion for minor injuries. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back that came out in 1980 directed by Irvin Kershner. The film stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz. In the film, the Galactic Empire, under the leadership of Darth Vader and the Emperor Palpatine, is in pursuit of Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. Luke is also studying the Force underJedi Master Yoda. Luke then faces the decision to complete his training to become a full Jedi Knight or to confront Vader and save his friends.

The Faculty - Scat (1998)

Form:Inhalant which is made from "caffeine pills and some other household shit."

Uses:Similar to meth

Side Effects:Instant death if you are an alien.

Notes:Illicit homemade drug sold to other students by Zeke, apparently a stimulant with psychoactive properties. It is shown as a white powder clandestinely hidden in the empty shafts of ballpoint pens. The user inhales the drug directly from the shaft of the pen. Zeke states the drug is "mostly caffeine and other household shit", and therefore it has major diuretic properties. The Faculty is a 1998 film directed by Robert Rodriguez. It starts Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Jon Stewart, and Salma Hayek. The film follows the students at Harrington High who find out that their teachers and the principal are being controlled by parasites. The faculty is trying to infect the students one by one. The students team up to try and fight back against the invaders.

Strange Days - Squid (1995)

Form:Technological device/helmet

Uses:Reliving memories

Side Effects:A physical and emotional reliving of whatever memory you channel.

Notes:A street name given to bootleg devise used to record events directly from the wearer's cerebral cortex, which, when played back through a MiniDisc-like device, allow a user to experience the recorder's memory as if they had been there themselves. Strange Days came out in 1995 and directed by Kathryn Bigelow and was written by James Cameron and Jay Cocks. The film stars Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Michael Wincott. The film is about a policeman that is selling a virtual reality-like recordings that allow users to experience the emotions and past experiences of others. One character receives one that shows a murder, so with the help with a friend they try to find the killer.

Scanners - Ephemerol (1981)

Form:Pill, Capsule

Uses:Treat morning sickness, enhancing psychic powers, blocking out mental noise

Side Effects:Becoming a scanner

Notes:Originally intended to quell morning sickness in pregnant women, and instead created the telepaths of the films' title. Was also used on the telepaths themselves to dampen their psychic abilities, and to prevent them from being overwhelmed by mental noise. The 1981 film is directed by David Cronenberg and stars Jennifer O’Neill, Steven Lack, Michael Ironside, and Patrick McGoohan. The plot follows Darryl Revoke, a renege scanner, to wage war against the private security firm ConSec. Another scanner, from ConSec, is sent to stop Revoke.

Looper - Dropper (2012)

Form:Liquid which is administered in the eye

Uses:Euphoria, Energy

Side Effects:Crashing, intense withdrawal

Notes:A designer drug appearing as a yellowish liquid that is delivered via an eyedropper. Causes opiate-like euphoria and withdrawal. Most (if not all) loopers seem to be addicted to the drug. The name or nature of the drug is not revealed, and could be a real-life drug altered to be delivered to the eyes. The 2012 thriller film stars Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt takes place at a time where time travel has been invented. Time travel was being used by criminal organizations to send those they want killed into the past where they are killed by “loopers.” Loopers are assassins that are paid with silver bars strapped to their targets. Looper Joe encounters himself when his older self is sent back in time to be killed.

Dredd - Slo-Mo (2012)

Form:Pill, Capsule

Uses:Slowing down time

Side Effects:Hallucinations, confusion, heightened senses

Notes:An addictive drug in Mega-City One that accelerates the brain and senses by approximately 100 times making perception of reality decelerate by an equivalent amount, hence the name. Pete Travis directed the 2012 science fiction action film. The movie is based on the 2000 Ad comic strip Judge Dredd. Karl Urban plays Judge Dredd who is a law enforcer that is given the power of judge, jury, and executioner in a dystopic metropolis called Mega-City One. Dredd and his partner Judge Anderson are forced to bring order to a 200-story high-rise block of flats and deal with its resident drug lord, Ma-ma. The film stars Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Wood Harris, and Lena Headey.

A Scanner Darkly - Substance D (2006)

Form:Red Capsule


Side Effects:Paranoia, Violence, Hallucinations

Notes:This drug dampens the links between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, causing vivid hallucinations. Also called "Slow Death", it is lethally addictive; long-term use can lead to two separate, mutually unaware personalities. Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel on the same name, the film tells the story of identity and deception in a near-future dystopia that is under intrusive police surveillance in the midst of a drug addiction. It was directed by Richard Linklater and came out in 2006. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey, Jr., Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder, and Rory Cochrane. The film has a unique look because it was first shot digitally and then animated using interpolated rotoscope, which is when animators trace over the original footage frame from frame.

Dune - Melange (1984)

Form:Spice, gas

Uses:Increased life expectancy

Side Effects:Weight gain, mutation

Notes:A substance in the Dune universe only found on the planet Arrakis, where it is produced by the sandworms. It is an addictive geriatric drug that gives the user longer life, greater vitality, heightened awareness, and can unlock prescience in some subjects, depending upon the dosage and the consumer's biological makeup. It is also used by the Spacing Guild's navigators to see safe paths through space-time, hence making interstellar travel possible. It is better known as Spice. Addictive: whites of the eyes turn blue as a side effect. The film came out in 1984 and is based on the Frank Herbert novel of the same name. The story was set ten thousand years in the future and is about the conflicts between rival noble families as they battle for control of the planet Arrakis, which is the only planet that possesses the drug melange.

A Clockwork Orange - Vellocet, Synthemesc, Drencrom (1971)

Form:Mixed with milk then drank

Uses:Increased energy, loss of inhibition

Side Effects:Blackouts, violence

Notes:Ingredients in milk-plus, sold in the Korova Milkbar. Produces alertness and ultra-violent tendencies; presumably an amphetamine of some sort, given the name. A Clockwork Orange that is a 1971 film adapted, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film is based on Anthony Burgess’ novel of the same name. It utilizes disturbing, violent images to comment on psychiatry, juvenile delinquency, young gangs, and other social, political, and economic subjects in a dystopian near-future Britain. The film stars Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corri, and Miriam Karlin.

Matrix - Red and Blue Pills (1999)

Form: Liqui–Gel Capsules

Uses: Mind Altering, one–time use drugs to either allow the mind to more readily accept the imaginary world of the Matrix (Blue Pill) or to forcibly remove the consciousness (Red Pill) from the fraud of the Matrix and thus realize the actual reality outside of the shared dream.

Side Effects:A deeper acceptance of the conjured "reality" offered by the machines or a forcible rejection of the robot induced dream state.

Notes:In the first installment of the three part Matrix movies, written and directed by the Wachowski sisters, we see the protagonist "Neo", played by Keanu Reeves being offered a choice by his soon to be mentor, "Morpheus" (Laurence Fishburne) to either accept the status–quo as is or irreversibly seeing beyond the completely fabricated "reality" used by the robot enemies of humanity to keep people asleep in a permanent dream state. Set in a futuristic, post apocalyptic landscape where the Machines have defeated humanity in a world shattering war that obliterated the surface of the Earth and permanently obscured the sky, the last of humanity exists in two states, one of freedom and very little means, living deep below the surface of the world in hiding and still at war with the Machines and the other humans being kept in captivity to be reproduced as a source of energy for their robot overseers, who keep them permanently unconscious and in a shared dream world similar to that of the late 1990s.

Equilibrium - Prozium (2002)

Form:Injection, Shot

Uses:Chemical induced emotion suppression

Side Effects:A loss of all emotional urges or feelings.

Notes:As the cure–all for humanity's ills, Prozium is designed and used by the citizens of the fascist state of Libria to permanently stop war. The Dictator and rulers have outlawed all emotion with a harsh regime that has outlawed all forms of creative expression and feeling emotion has become a crime with the punishment being death. An Enforcer of the state, John Preston, played by Christian Bale, misses a dose of Prozium and thus begins his journey to realize his suppressed emotions and free his fellow Librians from their corrupt and brutal rulers. With the likes of Sean Bean, Taye Diggs and Angus Macfadyen as well, this action packed adventure is star studded with well orchestrated fight scenes and plenty of social commentary.

Southland Tales - Fluid Karma (2006)


Uses:The use of Fluid Karma is determined by the color variant of the compound being used. Green Fluid Karma use alters perception and causes a dream state while blue Fluid Karma is restorative in nature and renews the user. There are other colors as well (Yellow and Orange) but the movie focuses on the use of red Fluid Karma which allows the user to see ("bleed") into the past and with enough usage, into the future.

Side Effects: Telepathy is developed between persons using Fluid Karma.

Notes:With an ensemble cast of actors the 2006 Comedy/Drama/SciFi movie starring Justin Timberlake, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (among others) focuses on L.A. after the events in Iraq and the nation stands on the brink of economic, social and environmental disaster. With the threat of nuclear war looming there is a vast conspiracy uncovered by a movie star, a porn actress and a police officer with the use of the Liquid Karma allowing the cast to see into the past, future and communicate telepathically with others using the drug at getting to the the heart of the discovery being unearthed in the process.

Minority Report - Neuroin (2002)


Uses:Euphoric Escape

Side Effects:Dulled senses and altered state of mind

Notes:A breathable version of what is presumably neural–heroin is used by Tom Cruise's character, Chief John Anderton, as a means of dealing with the pain of the loss of his son and wife while he watches old holographic tapes of his family. Set in a future where crimes are predicted by gifted humans ("Pre–Cogs"), the head of the "Precrime" unit, John Anderton is accused of going to commit a murder of a person he doesn't know and thus sets off a journey by our protagonist to solve the mystery before a crime is committed.

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