11 healing items that would definitely kill you in real life

If you're a guest in someone else's home, don't go through all their drawers looking for money. If you see a turtle, don't stomp on it. If you need to escape from a bunch of armed dudes, don't leave a nudie mag on the ground and expect them to hunker down and leer at it while you make your escape. Video games teach us all kinds of lessons that would be unwise to carry over to real life - but You'll feel better if you just use [insert healing item name here] might be the most deadly of all.

Seriously, it's a wonder that video game characters are still standing after all the unrefrigerated poultry they consume, pills they pop, and anomalous drugs they inject into their veins. Can you imagine what would happen if you, a mortal creature of flesh and bone, tried to nourish yourself with these pick-ups? Well, you don't have to - I already did. Click on for some cautionary tales of healing items that would totally, totally kill you in real life.

Breath of the Wild's undercooked steak will make you get a serious case of food poisoning (and trauma)

How it works in the game: A boar lies dead at Link's feet. Well, not for long - in a flurry of sparkles a glistening, perfectly plump steak appears instead. Link picks it up and trots to a campfire, where he throws it next to the flames and waits for it to miraculously transform into cooked steak. It happens pretty quickly, and then Link chomps it up for some much-needed health. Yum!  

How it would work for you: You shot a boar. It didn't go down with just one bullet from your grandad's old hunting rifle that you found in the shed, so now it's just wheezing at your feet. You close your eyes and shoot it in the skull, and it suddenly stops moving. There's shards of bone and blood all over the forest floor. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't transform into a steak instantly. Getting out your knife you got from a hardware shop, you stab at its belly like you've seen hunters do on the Discovery channel. Warm, sticky blood flows over your hands. You also managed to pierce its stomach. Now everything smells awful. But, you get your steak. Chucking it next to the fire so the dirt gets stuck to its moist sides, you wait for it to cook. Blood weeps from one side as it heats up, but the other half remains raw. Eating it gives you atrocious stomach pains and in no time you're expelling bodily fluids from both ends. 

Horizon Zero Dawn's herbs will make you go on a wondrous hallucinogenic trip

How it works in the game: Aloy, finding herself with a couple of wounds from an ill-advised encounter with a snapmaw, casts her eyes over the lush landscape. Spotting the swaying tips of a Medicinal Ochrebloom in the distance, she plucks it from the ground and adds it to the medicine pouch, which transforms it into an ingestible healing nectar. Shoving her hand in the pouch, she takes a bite of whatever's in there and feels her strength flood back. All is well. 

How it would work for you: You, finding yourself with an almighty gash in your side from a ridiculously brash encounter with a crocodile in the Australian outback, desperately look around for something to make the thudding pain cease. Instead of using your mobile phone to call an ambulance, you go all Bear Grylls and haul a half-dead, dry plant out of the earth. Masticating its tough leaves with your teeth and trying to ignore the bitter taste flooding your mouth, and suddenly your eyes become bananas. Is that a deckchair riding a dragon over there? Why are my feet made of gas? Oh heck, why is the floor turning into porridge...

Max Payne's painkillers help you bleed out and OD simultaneously

How it works in the game: Max limps into a bathroom, barely able to stay on his feet after taking a gut full of bullets from a two-bit mobster with an Uzi. He opens a medicine cabinet, grabs a few bottles full of pills, pops one open, and downs its contents in a single gulp. Aside from that scratchy throat feeling you get from taking pills dry, Max's pain is killed.

How it would work for you: You're bleeding from a gunshot wound. Rather than calling 911/999 and awaiting assistance from trained paramedics, you decide to guzzle a bottle of oxycodone you found on top of the refrigerator. The pain fades after a half-hour or so, even though you're still bleeding like a stuck pig - you feel a little cold, but otherwise okay. Maybe you'll take a little nap on the floor until the healing effect kicks in this was a great idea...

Resident Evil's first-aid spray will probably just zombify you

How it works in the game: The horde of ghouls is still pounding at the door, but Leon is safe for the moment. He reaches into his pocket and produces a little spray can with a green plus sign on its label. He pulls his hand away from the grievously bleeding wound on his neck, grits his teeth, and presses down on the can's nozzle until the last of its refreshing mist sputters out. He's no doctor, but he would assess his condition as Fine after that.

How it would work for you: Jesus Christ, what was wrong with that hiker? He almost looked like he was sleepwalking, but he was so pale Anyway, you'd better do something about that bite. Good thing you keep a can of Umbrella-brand first-aid spray in your car. Just give that a good spritz and you'll feel better in no time. There you are the pain's gone, but God, is it getting hot in here? Now you've got the chills. Better head home.

TMNT: Turtles in Time's prehistoric pizza is paradoxical

How it works in the game: Donatello's not looking so tubular. He could wreck a platoon of purple Foot Clan ninjas in his sleep, but the orange ones are just the absolute worst. Not to mention those gnarly raptors that keep trampling around and ruining his day. Luckily, Leonardo saved him a slice of 'za from this box he found by the cliffside in 250,000,000 B.C. A few quick chomps and the turtles are back in fighting shape. Cowabunga!

How it would work for you: You're lost and confused, and your pants are still damp from soiling yourself at the sight of a pterodactyl carrying a robot ninja. Suddenly, a familiar scent wafts into your nostrils - pizza! There it is, an unguarded box of the sacred pie! You're so hungry you don't even care that it's topped with anchovies - you just devour the whole thing. Then you wink out of existence, because that pizza would have fed the rodent-like creature that was the ancestor of all mammals. Whoops.

Metal Gear Solid's rations are hard to eat when you're being shot

How it works in the game: Vulcan Raven stalks through the warehouse, scanning left and right for his quarry. There isn't much further for Solid Snake to crawl. Ah! There he is, panting and bleeding! This last volley will end his unnatural existence! But as the high-caliber bullets slam into Snake's body, the surprisingly calm soldier bites down on something and his wounds begin to close. Damn him! He had a ration in his mouth!

How it would work for you: You've accepted that these strange military rations are laced with some kind of healing agent, and that eating them instantly mends your wounds. But after months of miraculous recoveries, your supply is running low and you figure you'd better conserve them. Rather than wasting a morsel of their healing power, you'll wait until you're at the moment of death and then take a replenishing bite but it turns out you may have overestimated your ability to carefully unwrap and consume foodstuffs while being shot in the face.

Final Fantasy's potions are probably just Snake Oil

How it works in the game: Sabin nearly fell to that accursed toothy squid! Come to think of it, he may have actually died, depending on the philosophical ramifications of using a Phoenix Down on a fallen combatant For now, there's a damn potion to drink. The taste is almost unbearable - but if he can just chug down the contents of the little blue bottle he'll be back to pumping iron and thrashing villains faster than you can say 'Biggs and Wedge'.

How it would work for you: That traveling salesman promised his 'Vitality Potion' would get rid of your cough if you drank it every night just before bed. And it did! By causing multiple organ failure. When your corpse is exhumed a hundred years later, researchers will find your bones are still infused with enough mercury and lead to kill twenty men. No cough, though.

Streets of Rage 2's roast chickens were not properly refrigerated

How it works in the game: Blaze Fielding is a woman of action, and she doesn't have time to get take-out with all these goons around. They need a good face pounding. Fortunately for Blaze and her fellow street-fighting vigilantes, helpful citizens have taken to hiding their spare foodstuffs in garbage cans and newspaper racks all across the city. She smashes a few open, discarding an apple here or there (must have been from some smartass dentist) until she finds a roast chicken and chows down. Good to go!

How it would work for you: You vaguely recall some old wives' tale about discarding cooked poultry if it's left out for more than two hours. Something about salmonella? Bah. That must've been why some joker dropped this beautifully roasted bird in the garbage, plate and all. It's cold and you'll need to wipe off a few cigarette butts, but it's cheaper than Chik-Fil-A! Urp maybe there's some Pepto Bismol in that trash can, too...

Super Mario 64's water is not advisable for the gravely injured

How it works in the game: Sometimes Mario isn't so good-a at the depth-a perception. In this case, he overestimated how much speed he needed for that last jump and ended up soaring clear over the platform, crashing into the floor a hundred meters below. But he's not a-worried, even as he pants-a with exhaustion, because he landed right next to a nice big lake. He dives, holds his breath for a few seconds, and springs back out like-a new man. Mamma mia, that's a good-a baptism metaphor!

How it would work for you: You were on the team back in high school, so swimming with two broken legs and a collapsed lung shouldn't be a problem, right? Just a quick dip and you'll feel right as rain. Can't stand, so you'll have to roll your way over and in you go! OK! Your legs still really hurt! But swimming without using your legs is hard! So is breathing underwater! This was maybe not such a great idea!

BioShock's beer and wine refill your HP, kill your liver

How it works in the game: Well, that fight could've gone better. As per usual, Jack was way too conservative with his plasmids (even though he was full of EVE) and he took a few stray bullets. Luckily for him, that dumb Splicer led him straight to a well-stocked liquor cabinet right before she got torn to bits by a turret. Four bottles of Rapture's finest fortified wine later, and Jack's feeling much better. A little wobbly, with a little less EVE, but much better.

How it would work for you: Ahh, that really hurts. How could you cut yourself this badly just chopping carrots? It's like cooking 101 and carrots are so not worth dying for! No bandages in the house, of course, but you do have a couple boxes of wine you were planning to bring to the dinner party. Maybe if you polish one off you'll feel better. No, just drunk, still hurts. Try another. Ok, stop puking, that's not going to help. Try another. Don't pass out, you lazy

Fallout's stimpaks were not properly sterilized

How it works in the game: This might be it for the Lone Wanderer. Trapped in a vault deep underground with a busted leg and surrounded by super mutants, she's running out of options. Almost as much for old time's sake as out of any real hope for salvation, she pats down a corpse and feels a familiar syringe in its pocket! In one fluid motion she pulls the stimpak forth and jabs it into her leg, instantly knitting the wound and mending the fracture. Alright - time to see about getting back to the surface.

How it would work for you: You were kinda worried for a few weeks after you injected yourself with that filthy syringe you found lying in a pile of rubbish, but it really did wonders for your aching back. Your fears are just beginning to subside when you get a call from your doctor's office. Her tone is grave as she asks you if you're sitting down. You say yes, and she tells you that you are infected with every bloodborne pathogen known to man and have at most a month to live. Your back still feels great.

Feeling better?

That's it for my accounting of gaming's deadliest health items, but video games are jam packed with inadvisable diets and wellness plans. So sit down with a nice cut of garbage chicken and think of your favorites, then come back and share them in the comments below!

For some characters, bizarrely miraculous healing items will never be enough. On the other hand, health-ups aren't not the only pick-up that video games take too far.

Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.