Power Ranking the 10 Strongest Supe Pills in Science Fiction

The sci-fi tradition of drug enhancements goes well beyond 'The Matrix' and 'Limitless.'

The legacy of abilities-increasing drugs in fiction goes as far back as Lewis Carroll writing a story about a young girl named Alice ingesting odd substances and subsequently talking to plants and animals. Drugs have been as big in science fiction as spaceships and conspiracy theories. Pill-popping, in particular, has driven the engines of many a sci-fi story. And while we don’t advise trying any of these at home, we’d be remiss not to at least rank them. Y’know, for science.

10. Cyanide in Surrogates

This particular pill in question is your run-of-the-mill cyanide. Granted, this isn’t particularly special or sci-fi-y on its own, but — spoiler alert — it manages to upend this film’s entire world and bring an end to a universe in which humans stay inside and interact through Avatar-like connections to pretty robots. Side effects include death.

Is taking it a good idea?

If you’re in a doomsday cult or looking to put an end to a futuristic robots regime, sure.

9. Slo-Mo in Dredd

This pill, called “Slo-Mo,” is the drug of choice for citizens of this corrupt dystopian metropolis. Side effects include slowing down the user’s perception of time, often for nefarious purposes like skinning people alive.

Is taking it a good idea?

If you want to end up like Rip Van Winkle, then yes.

8. Ephemerol in Scanners

This pill was originally created to help pregnant women with morning sickness, which would be an innocuous premise if this weren’t a David Cronenberg movie. Side effects include turning into a “scanner” — someone with enhanced telepathic powers. In the film’s world, taking this drug results in unwanted attention from ConSec, a shadowy private security firm looking to use scanners for their own diabolical purposes.

Is taking it a good idea?

If you want to be pursued by ConSec, then go for it.

7. Stims in Battlestar Galactica

Short for “stimulant,” this pill is made of an unknown substance that increases alertness in the user — ideal for intergalactic piloting. Side effects include a spike in violent tendencies and psychosis. Think Adderall mixed with speed with a dash of weaponized caffeine. Good times.

Is taking it a good idea?

If you’re planning to be in the driver’s seat on an intergalactic expedition and your fellow passengers don’t mind bearing the risk that you might snap.

6. The anti-detereioration pill in Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

In the superficial universe of Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy, everyone has plastic surgery at age 16 in order to become beautiful. In the second installment, Pretties, the heroine discovers the surgery comes with at a cost: mental deterioration that makes everyone dumber and more compliant. She finds a pill to combat this, but, unfortunately — spoiler alert — it must be paired with an additional pill, otherwise it eats away at your brain and kills you.

Is it a good idea to take it?

Beauty comes at a price. It’s still a better option than a kale-based diet.

6. McCoy’s pill in Star Trek

Dr. McCoy’s pill had multiple functions including helping cure insomnia (The Man Trap) and regenerating kidneys (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home). Powerful stuff.

Is it a good idea to take it? We don’t see why you wouldn’t!

4. Substance D in A Scanner Darkly*

This highly addictive pill from the Philip K. Dick classic is also known as “Slow Death,” so consider yourself warned. Its side effects include euphoria, hallucinations, and paranoia.

Is taking it a good idea?

It depends on how productive/alive you’re planning to be for the next few hours, days, or years.

3. Ablixa in Side Effects

This experimental pill serves as an alternative to anti-depressants in this twist-filled narrative. Side effects include sleepwalking and sleep-murdering … or do they? The legal ramifications of this drug drive the plot of this recent and thoroughly underrated thriller.

Is taking it a good idea?

If you want to stab Channing Tatum and plead insanity, then sure.

2. NZT-48 in Limitless

This “smart pill” gives you photographic memory and Sherlock-like analytical skills. Side effects include glowing blue eyes, a warped sense of time, and, potentially, death from withdrawal.

Is taking it a good idea?

If you’re the driven type, with an eye on world domination that doesn’t mind a gamble.

1. The red pill and the blue pill in The Matrix

This tops the list as the strongest drug because the choice it offers is a philosophical dilemma with which humanity has wrestled since the dawn of critical thinking]( Depending on which pill you take, side effects include accepting the harsh realities of the world (red pill) or living a bended reality, filled with sunglasses, trench coats, and slow-mo battles, followed by two lackluster sequels.

Is taking it a good idea?

Decide for yourself. … That’s kind of the point.

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