Are you facing the prospect of being alone on Valentine's Day? It's not too late to make someone fall in love with you. Science fiction's full of handy ways to make someone swoon into your arms, and here's a list.
Love potions are a common theme in fiction generally. You can brew up a draught that makes someone fall in love — usually there's some restriction like "You'll fall in love with the first face you see." (As in the classic Prince movie Graffiti Bridge.) Too bad these sorts of things frequently backfire, or have unintended consequences. Note: This list includes a bit of fantasy set in the present day, but doesn't really include any substances that cause pure lust — I'm pretty sure we've covered those already in another triviagasm.
Love Potion #9, part of the 1980s and early 1990s trend of naming movies after songs, this film stars Tate Donovan and Sandra Bullock as (don't laugh) biochemists. They discover a special gyspy love potion (#8) which turns out to have a special effect on cats — and then on humans. Bullock manages to attract the Prince of England, while Donovan hooks up with lots of women. Eventually, they (wait for it) discover they're right for each other, after finding Love Potion #9, which will purify their love if it's meant to be. Or something.
Batman And Robin, the best superhero movie with "And" in its title, features Uma Thurman's vamp-tastic version of Poison Ivy. Unlike the comics, whose Poison Ivy has mind-control spores and lipstick, Uma's version of Ivy has "Love Dust," which she can blow on people (including Robin, I guess) to make them fall for her. And in the 1960s Batman series, there's an episode called "Marsha, Queen Of Diamonds" in which Marsha uses love darts to make Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara fall in love with her — and then does the same to the Dynamic Duo. Batman must agree to marry her or her friends will be killed.
Jack Finney's story "Lunch Time Magic" features a guy who accidentally gives his friend Frieda an Egyptian Slave Bracelet that makes her fall in love with him. He doesn't love her back, and doesn't know what to do with it. Until she gives him a candy bar to eat — and it turns out to have "Love Potion" written on the label.
Star Trek: The Animated Series, "Mudd's Crystals" features Harry Mudd, who's gotten hold of some crystals that contain a substance that make anyone fall in love — and he convinces Nurse Chapel to use them to make Spock have the hots for her. The crystals end up breaking and affecting everybody on board the Enterprise, and there's even a moment where Kirk and Spock talk about how much they care about each other. (But it's brief.)
Also in Star Trek, the Dohlman's tears are a love potion, in the episode "Elaan of Troyius." Kirk gets them on his skin and his plans to spank her get derailed — or at least, the context in which Kirk will spank the Dohman is radically altered. Good thing Kirk loves the Enterprise more than he could ever love any woman.
Jack L. Chalker's Changewinds series features a crazy, fierce alchemist named Boday, who accidentally drinks a love potion. Chalker writes:
The only control now was that love potion Boday had accidentally consumed that had caused her to fall madly in love with Sam, the first person she saw after coming around, but even that wasn't as absolute as it always seemed in the fairy tales. When somebody who was both mad and dangerous was passionately in love with you, you had to watch yourself even more than otherwise, as they had discovered more than once.
In Brian Stableford's story "A Career In Sexual Chemistry," a scientist named Giovanni Casanova develops a kind of "aphrodesiac sweat" that you can secrete through your fingertips. When you touch someone and get this psychotropic protein on them, they feel a sense of euphoria, tenderness, affection and lust. This aids in "operant conditioning" that will make the other person fall in love. This works great, at first — but eventually too many people have access to this technology and it becomes so widespread, it loses a lot of its effectiveness. But in a world where people only have to touch each other to love each other, violence, crime and wars slowly disappear.
Lois And Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman, "Pheremone, My Lovely" features an aphrodisiac perfume that an ex-lover of Lex Luthor's spreads around the Daily Planet offices, causing everybody to fall in love with each other. The only one who isn't affected by the perfume is Clark, who tries not to take advantage of the smitten Lois. But even after the perfume wears off, Lex still thinks he's in love with Lois.
Smallville's "Devoted" features cheerleaders who — bwa ha ha — are brewing a kryptonite-enhanced love potion that makes all of the football players their obedient love slaves. The cheerleaders experimented in the bio lab to create a "love molecule," which they enhanced with meteor rock. Or something. Chloe comes under the influence of this love potion and attacks Lois, who knocks her into a furnace. It turns out that heat counteracts the effects of the potion, and Lois totally knew that. She wasn't just planning to burn Chloe alive or anything. Also, in the episode "Crimson," Lois puts on kryptonite-laced lipstick, which makes her totally go after Clark, who in turn is struck with desire and goes around kissing all the women he's attracted to. Clark and Lois almost hook up in this episode.
Stargate features a couple of different love-mojos. In "Hathor," the Egyptian fertility goddess of the same name turns up and quickly enchants all of the men on the SG-1 base, making O'Neill into a Jaffa and Jackson into her Pharaoh. Only Carter and the other women on the base aren't affected, and Carter is able to retake the base from Hathor's minions. And in the SGA episode "Irresistible," the crew comes across a whole community that's in thrall to a loser named Lucius Lavin, who has six wives. It turns out that Lavin is ingesting a potion that causes his body to emit pheromones that makes everyone else fascinated with him, to the exclusion of their own concerns. Soon the Atlantis crew is willing to risk death to help Lucius — and getting over the infatuation is akin to kicking a drug addiction.
The Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode "Him" features a magic letter jacket that makes anyone of the opposite sex fall in love with the wearer. People are willing to kill, steal and commit suicide for RJ, who has the jacket — and Willow is even willing to turn RJ into a girl so she can be with him.
The Twilight Zone episode "The Chaser," based on the story of the same name by John Henry Collier, features a man who buys a love potion for $1 and uses it to make the girl of his dreams fall for him. Eventually, though, her love becomes stifling and oppressive to him. So then he has to buy the antidote to the love potion — which costs all the money he has in the world. Just before he's about to administer it, the girl confesses she's pregnant.
The Tales from the Crypt episode "Loved to Death" adapts the TFTC comic about a guy who makes his hot neighbor fall in love with him — he puts a love potion into her drink, and soon his lovely next-door neighbor can't get enough of him. At first it's great, butthen she becomes a mite clingy and soon she's demanding his attention all the time. Unlike in the Twilight Zone episode, the only "antidote" for this love potion is poison — so eventually the guy tries to poison his new girlfriend's drink — only to drink it himself instead. At least in the Afterlife, he'll be free from her constant attentions — until she shows up, having thrown herself out the window. Now she's mutilated and hopelessly in love with him... forever. In another TFTC episode, "Till Death," a gold-digging man makes a woman fall in love with him thanks to a potion he gets from his jealous ex-girlfriend... but instead it turns the woman into a zombie who follows him around, even after he commits suicide.
Alien Nation has two episodes, "Fifteen with Wanda" and "Chains of Love", featuring a Tectonese drug called Sardonac, that makes the user bond emotionally for life with the first person they see after drinking it. This is usually part of Tectonese marriage rituals, but it can go wrong. In one case, a Newcomer male drinks the formula, and then a human police officer, Matthew Sikes, burst into the room at just the wrong moment. The Newcomer is smitten with Matthew, despite being straight, and hijinks ensue. Luckily, the effect wears off after a few weeks, if you don't have sex.
Torchwood's pilot features Owen using a chemical to make people hot for him, but it's more of an aphrodisiac.
In the Squadron Supreme, Marvel Comics' alternate-universe superteam, the Golden Archer wants his teammate Linda Lewis (aka Lady Lark) to marry him — but she doesn't feel the same way. So he uses the team's behavior modification technology to make her obsessed with him, but it doesn't quite work out. And when the team finds out what the Archer has done, they toss him out.
Oh My Goddess! features a goddess named Urd, who fancies herself the Goddess of Love and frequently goes around giving people love potions. Her schemes frequently backfire, including one incident where she accidentally drinks her own love potion.
In Fables, Bluebeard uses a bottle with some sort of gas in it to enchant Snow White and Bigby Wolf, who he sends away on a "romantic" weekend together so they can get killed. While under the influence of the enchantment, they have sex and conceive their seven kids.
The Harry Potter books are full of love potions — but it's always made clear that they can't create true love, just feelings of unhealthy obsession. At one point, Ron eats a box of love potion-laced chocolates meant for Harry, and finds himself desperately in love with Romilda Vane, whom he's never even met. Dumbledore conjectures that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's parents got together as a result of a love potion as well.
Isaac Asimov's story "The Up-To-Date Sorcerer" features a "love philter" created by endocrinologist Wellington Johns, who calls it an "amatogenic cortical principle." True to the Graffiti Bridge principle, the substance causes people to fall in love with the first person they see. (Did Prince read Asimov?) Couples get mixed up in crazy artificially induced love shenanigans, but luckily, the philter wears off as soon as you're married. So they can get their marriages annulled and marry their true loves.
The Harry Dresden book Storm Front by Jim Butcher features a love potion which Susan Rodriguez accidentally drinks when she's supposed to be drinking an escape potion to get away from a toad demon. This helps Susan and Harry to get together, but alas, their love is not meant to be, since the world of supernatural menace intervenes, as it always does.
Fallout 3 features "ant queen pheromones" that make Diego, a priest, fall in love with Angela. Depending on how you play, Diego may leave the church and you can even attend the wedding of Diego and Angela.
The Kim Possible episode "The Cupid Effect" involves Wade (a child genius) inventing a love ray (based on love chemicals found in chocolate) to use on his crush — but the ray falls into the hands of villains (including Señor Senior Sr, voiced by Ricardo Montalban) who want to use it to make everyone in the world fall in love with them and enjoy Senior Senior Senior's awful singing. Sadly, the love ray's effects tend to wear off fairly quickly.
Darkwing Duck's episode "My Valentine Ghoul" involves Gosalyn making a love potion that backfires in all kinds of ways. At one point, she doses Darkwing with it, and he sees Negaduck and starts thinking Negaduck is his best buddy. Everybody else gets dosed at some point or another, and somehow this leads to people getting coated with chocolate. Somehow. The whole thing is on Youtube.
Even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has an episode with a love potion: "Green With Jealousy," in which Krang tries to use a love-potion-laced pizza to make the turtles all fall in love with the same woman, Irma, and fight each other.
Additional reporting by Mary Ratliff. Thanks also to Jesse Stringer, Cristi Muth, Michael O'Brien, James Dunson, Jerry Conner, Amy Lauritzen, Kelly Parker, Eidna, Lauren, and Hillary.