|Trope · Genre|
|Related:||Aliens Made Them Do It|
|See Also:||dub con, Fuck or Die|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
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
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. 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." The trope has been in use since 2013 and can be found in a wide range of fandoms.
History and Origins
- The 1967 Star Trek: TOS 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- in the morning (you'll just hate yourself) by shineyma, For reasons unknown, HYDRA has developed a chemical sex pollen with an emotional component. For Jemma, whose heart still (unfortunately) belongs to the traitor in the basement, this is something of a problem. (Ward/Simmons)
- 7A WF 83429 by musesfool, where S.H.I.E.L.D. has a form for when it happens, and Darcy Lewis jokingly put Captain America not knowing that he was still alive. (Darcy/Steve)
- What a Day for a Daydream (Tomorrow I'll Pay the Dues for Dropping my Load) by Teeelsie, Clint and Steve get dosed with sex pollen, spend an uncomfortable amount of time anticipating what will happen, have a lot (like, really, a lot) of frantic sex, then have to face each other and Phil afterward, resulting in three-sided angst and awkwardness. (Clint Barton/Steve Rogers, Clint Barton/Phil Coulson)
- Unaffected (But Not Uninterested), Archived version by STARSdidathing. There are some curses that Loki is unaffected by. He's surprised to discover Rhodes is also the same. Which, in turn, gains him a different discovery regarding Anthony. In this fic, both James Rhodes and Loki are on the asexuality spectrum, with an exploration of how sex pollen does or doesn’t affect them. (Loki/Tony Stark, 2022)
- In Pure Morning by bigstupidjellyfish, Kirishima Eijirou got home early because he thought he got cold during his patrol with Bakugou Katsuki. Later Bakugou Katsuki got a call from officer who handled incident where they were involved and told Bakugou Katsuki about possibility what Kirishima Eijirou got hit by a sex pollen quirk. Bakugou Katsuki went home too, because he and Kirishima Eijirou were roommates and tried to help him. The fic contains tropes Pining, Roommates AU, Future fic, Friends to lovers and decent part of it is confirming the consent.
- dusk and dawn by bigstupidjellyfish is reverse of "Pure Morning" where Bakugou Katsuki was one who got hit by a sex pollen quirk. He has more troubles controlling himself but the main theme is the same: it's Roommates AU, Future fic, Friends to lovers with consensual sex.
- 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 intence sex.
- In Pollination by marchingjaybird Bakugou Katsuki is the victim of an aphrodisiac Quirk and Kirishima Eijirou steps in to help his best friend (and high school crush) work through the effects. It's a kind of the tamest variation of Fuck or Die trope where Bakugou Katsuki chose to have sex to go back on the field as quick as possible.
- 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.
- Yield Under Pressure by writeonclara. ...OR: Aziraphale is hit with sex pollen. Crowley helps him through it.
- 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)
- Super Stud by ML Thompson is an example of an aphrodisiac story in which Superman is the victim.
- In The Boiling Point by Speaks, an akuma spreads sex-pollen that heightens sexual desire in an iconic post-reveal, pre-relationship setting between consenting, aged-up Adrien Agreste and Marinette Dupain-Cheng promting a love confession or two.
- pretense never suited us by the_ragnarok, in which Harold is ace while Mr. Reese (allosexual) is the one affected by sex pollen but is willing to satisfy it by cuddling. Harold Finch/John Reese
- Pheromones by Sahar. Blair is a test subject for human pheromones; when he gets home, Jim jumps him. Or 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.)
- In White Rabbit by Morgan Logan, the guys fall victim to soup laced with 'shrooms.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace:
- In Nectar Induced Haze by Jedi Luvr, Obi-Wan unknowingly ingests fruit nectar that is used as an aphrodisiac.
- For a 4 Authors 1 Trope Sex Pollen Challenge on Ao3 for the UsaMamo Sailor Moon Fandom several authors came together to write Trope Detox versions of the sex pollen trope: feminist-friendly, sex-positive, aged-up story versions intended to flip the classic scripts in a several unique consensual ways that consciously aimed to disinclude themes of sexual coercion present in the classic script of the trope.
- In Completely Under Control by UglyGreenJacket, Sailor Venus makes a potion to give King Endymion and Neo Queen Serenity a reason to act on their stress-induced sexual frustration in an Established Relationship setting.
- In All's Fun with Love and Orbs by lrritable_vowel_types, instead of falling into wild lust, Mamoru Chiba and Usagi Tsukino fall into wild repulsion with each other after being subjected to the pollen within a Trope Inversion setting.
- In La Douleur Exquise by FloraOne, Mamoru Chiba and Usagi Tsukino both choose to enter a "magical bubble" known to cause near-fatal frantic lust in order to disspell it. However, the bubble will only allow in people wrecked by secret Mutual Pining who enthusuastically want to actually have sex with each other but deny themselves.
- In Love Potion No. 9 by Antigone2, subjected to a Youma's sex pollen perfume that heightens pre-existing sexual attraction to a maximum, Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask willingly choose to let the aphrodisiac do its magic in a secret Mutual Pining setting.
- 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
- Some sex pollen mics 👌👌👌 by corndoggerz, 2021 (BNHA, erasermic)
- Fanart for Caramel Chloroform, Archived version, which is a Midnight/Fuyumi sex pollen fic. Art by JemerylN (BNHA)
- Sex pollen/Fuck or die. Bottom!Nanami., Archived version, fancomic by zelly_land (JJK)
- Te's recs of sex pollen stories, Archived version in DC Comics (last updated 2004)
- Stepps' masterlist of sex pollen stories in Bandom (last updated 2008)
- Recs tagged as Sex Pollen at Fancake
- sd_recs list of "sex pollen & fuck or die Sam/Dean stories in Supernatural fandom (Sept. 2011)
- Te's original sex pollen challenge (January 2004)
- Sex Pollen tag on AO3
- ^ Jen_in_Japan (14 August 2007). "Superhero Muses Workshop: Writing Sex Pollen Stories". LiveJournal. Archived from the original on 11 Dec 2012.
- ^ https://archiveofourown.org/tags/Cuddle%20Pollen
- ^ https://archiveofourown.org/works/1016438