Sex Pollen

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Tropes and genres
Related tropes/genresAliens Made Them Do It
See alsodub con, Fuck or Die
Related articles on Fanlore.
THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF VENEREM POLLINIS moodboard by Elopez7228 (2021), top-right art by therealmcgee (2016)

Sex Pollen is a common fanfiction trope used to bring two characters together in a sexual encounter. It involves one or several characters becoming infected with a pollen of some alien or magical plant, or they might be influenced in some other way (magic, alien technology, mind control, etc.) that causes them to develop a spontaneous and urgent need to have sex.

The trope may have originated in Star Trek fandom with the 1967 episode This Side of Paradise, and it's believed the term Sex Pollen arose in DC Comics fandom. This trope has seen widespread use in SFF fandoms for decades; sometimes with characteristic variations springing from canon elements.

Although the trope is most commonly seen in fanfiction, it can be found in other types of fanworks (though often as adaptions/depictions of scenes from fanfics that use the trope).

Characteristics of Sex Pollen

Sex pollen is commonly seen in conjunction with Fuck or Die. There may be fatal consequences, with the pollen (or other influence) causing death if the exposed character does not have sex in a certain time frame.

Exposure to sex pollen often involves character(s) losing all inhibition, and many works acknowledge that the character is unable to consent while under the influence. As a result, many sex pollen works are tagged as non-con or dub-con, depending on the scenario. Some works also deal with the uncomfortable aftermath of exposure to sex pollen, including guilt, misunderstandings and physical injury. In works where this trope is used to get together a couple, there may be a resolution of UST following their sex pollen encounter.

Sex pollen is related to, but distinct from Aliens Made Them Do It. Sex pollen involves at least one character being under the influence of a substance or device, while the latter trope usually has both/all characters still in their right minds but compelled to have sex for external reasons. However, the division is not hard and fast.

The essay Writing Sex Pollen Stories by Jen_in_Japan offers several classic uses for sex pollen, among them marital aid, getting a "wtf" couple together, breaking taboos, non-con, and "romantic matchmaker:"

One of the most common uses of sex pollen is to bring together two people who have wanted to be together (consciously or unconsciously) for some time. The iffy question of consent raised by sex pollen is dodged by having the two people realize at the end of the experience that they're actually in love with each other. Yes, it's a pretty lucky coincidence, we all know that, but in these cases sex pollen functions as a metaphor for sexual desire itself--irresistable, uncontrollable, and surprising. Sex pollen's function in these kinds of stories is usually to corner the characters and force them to face their own desire and embrace the frightening lack of control it brings.

"Writing Sex Pollen Stories" by Jen_in_Japan[1]

Variations on the Trope

There are some fanworks in which one or more characters are on the asexuality spectrum, that explore how sex pollen may or may not affect them.

Cuddle pollen is an alternative which has been growing in popularity. Over two hundred works use the uncanonized tag.[2] In one Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D fic, Simmons explains that "all we need to do to remove those effects is inhibit the receptors with another large dose of dopamine, or better yet, oxytocin, which you can do through touch, or even sex."[3] The trope has been in use since 2013 and can be found in a wide range of fandoms.

History and Origins

  • The 1966 Star Trek: TOS episode Mudd's Women featured a 'Venus drug' to make women attractive to themselves and to men; this theme was later revisited in a Star Trek animated episode Mudd's Passion in 1973. Similarly, a 1967 episode This Side of Paradise featured an alien plant whose spores lowered inhibition; under its influence, Spock was able to admit to and act on romantic feelings for Leila Kalomi. In 1987, The Naked Now, an early episode of Star Trek TNG, had Tasha Yar, under the influence of a spaceborne virus, initiate sexual relations with the android Data.
  • The DC Comics character Poison Ivy is a villain who uses plants and botany to commit crimes, often by creating a plant or flower that can control people's minds. In some of her canonical incarnations, she possesses a substance that makes men fall in love with her instantly, or makes her irresistibly desirable. The term "sex pollen" originated from fic wherein characters are exposed to one of Poison Ivy's creations that causes an irresistible urge for sex in general, not specifically with her. The term is now used in many different fandoms for all kinds of fic that places characters in this situation, even when the object or substance causing the increase in libido is not plant-based.

Fandom-Specific Tropes

  • DC Comics fandom has lots of sex pollen stories. Often Poison Ivy instigates events by using her pollen as a distraction to get away, but other villains may acquire and weaponize her pollen. Ivy is rarely the person her victim has sex with, and popular choices for sex-pollen adventures include Tim Drake, Dick Grayson and also everyone, due to the popularity and prevalence of sex pollen stories within this fandom. (see Resources below)
  • Lois & Clark fandom has many stories featuring an aphrodisiac pheromone spray which appeared in the episode "Pheromone, My Lovely".
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe/Agents of SHIELD has an abundance of this trope due to the canonical presence of aliens and the fanon assumption that Hydra attempted to weaponize sex pollen. Some fanworks make the presence of sex pollen (or related substances/devices) and potential contamination so normal in-universe that SHIELD agents will have a designated individual for "relief" during such an incident, thus circumventing some of the more problematic dubcon/noncon implications.
  • Smallville: In Smallville canon, Red Kryptonite led to a lowering of inhibitions for Clark, and this resulted in many fanfic works using Red Kryptonite as a plot device for Sex-Pollen-style stories. Although Supergirl canon did not use Red K in the same way, Supergirl fanworks also used Red K as a type of Kryptonian aphrodisiac.
  • Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis fandoms have many fics that feature sex pollen (apart from and in addition to Aliens Made Them Do It fic)
  • The Sentinel fandom has many fics that feature sex induced by Jim's reaction to various medications and substances.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender has many fans take creative liberties with the planets the Paladins visit by having the pair of their choice affected by the strange plant life.

Fanwork Examples


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:

The Avengers Movieverse:

Boku no Hero Academia:

  • In Sweet and Low by Sacramental_Wine Bakugou Katsuki sprayed with some sort of powder which "enhanced whatever the victim was feeling in that moment to an absurd, impossible to ignore degree" and in that moment he thought about his boyfriend Kirishima Eijirou. When he got home he immediately jumped his boyfriend, which let to transferring some of the powder to Kirishima Eijirou's skin and to intense sex.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

DC Comics:

  • Dodge-town by Shrift. Dick is exposed to actual plant-based sex pollen and jumps Tim, because who wouldn't.
  • Things You Get Used To by Te: Tim/kind of everyone.
  • Whammied by Unpretty. Batman/Harley Quinn. Welcome to the sex pollen quarantine zone (this fic, this fic is the quarantine zone).
  • touch starved by envysparkler. The most popular cuddle pollen fic. Dick has a whole family who would rather stab him or themselves before embracing him, and he respects their boundaries, but sometimes he just wants a hug he doesn’t have to beg for.

Good Omens:

Hawkeye (comics):

  • Must Be Tuesday. by Kali Cephirot, Form B4-309 is where you put a list of the people that, if you were in no way to give an informed consent presently, you'd trust enough for make the choice for you. Clint is Kate's third option. (Clint/Kate)

Lois & Clark:

Miraculous Ladybug:

Person of Interest:

The Sentinel:

  • Pheromones by Sahar. Blair is a test subject for human pheromones; when he gets home, Jim jumps him.
  • The Object of My Erections by Speranza: "Three conversations and then The Sex Scene That Simply Would Not End." (Jim finds Blair's pheromones irresistible. Hijinks ensue.)

Starsky & Hutch:

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace:

Sailor Moon:

SK8 the Infinity:

  • Friendly by Marks. "Cherry can feel the glittery plant dust burning in his lungs, but it's almost pleasant, like when good alcohol goes down smoothly. In fact, he could really use a drink, he thinks as his face flushes." One of Joe's fans wants to get him a present. Joe/Cherry
  • No (More) Cookies by SharkGirl. Kojiro accidentally ingests more than his fair share of an aphrodisiac. Not pollen specifically, but aphrodisiac-laced cookies, which produce the same effect. Joe/Cherry

The Strange Case of Starship Iris:

  • Orange Petals by wjock. Sana had been doing an excellent job handling her poorly timed feelings. It seemed remarkably unfair for that to be ruined by an unfortunate incident with alien flora. Sana/Violet/Arkady

Fanart and Fancomics