Gold tick

"Lethal" is the seventh episode of the L Series of QI and the 161st episode overall. It first aired on 21 November 2014 on BBC Two, and the XL version aired the following day on the same channel. The episode featured no new panellists. It was preceded by "Liblabble" and followed by "Lovely".


Numbers in brackets mark appearances - e.g. "(2)" means "(second appearance)".

  1. Sandi Toksvig (14): 6 points
  2. Bill Bailey (33): -8 points
  3. Alan Davies (161): unknown
  4. Jason Manford (6): -19 points


  • Sandi Toksvig: fast machine gun fire
  • Jason Manford: slower gunfire
  • Bill Bailey: explosion
  • Alan Davies: a young boy saying "Bang! Bang! You're dead!"


  • The contestants must get a cork out of a bottle, using a plastic bag. With help from Fry, Sandi Toksvig accomplishes this by blowing into the big and pulling the bag out with the cork. This principle is used by midwives during childbirth. It replaced the old techniques of using forceps or a ventouse/kiwi. Jorge Odón (an Argentinian mechanic) invented the process: a plastic bag is inserted into the birth canal and air is pumped in, inflating it. The babies' head is then pulled out.
  • Philip Nitschke invented a euthanasia machine that asks the user three questions to check they are sane enough to understand what that they are about to give themselves a lethal injection:
  1. Are you aware that if you go ahead to the last screen and press the "Yes" button, you will be given a lethal dose of medications and die?
  2. Are you certain you understand that if you proceed and press the "Yes" button on the next screen that you will die?
  3. In fifteen seconds, you will be given a lethal injection... press "Yes" to proceed.
  • (XL only) *"Suicide booths" have been used in Soylent Green and Futurama.
  • An antechinus will commit suicide by having sex.[1] It has sex with each female for twelve hours, for fourteen days during mating season; it does not eat or sleep and uses all its energy for sex. By the end of the season, the antechinus has used up his proteins, is bald, gangrenous, stressed and infectious, and quickly dies. This may be necessary to leave more food for its children.
  • (XL only) The quoll goes through a similar process after having sex for 24 hours. Within a week, he is dead from anemia or a lice infection, following his fur falling out and his scrotum shrinking.
  • In a duel, the challenger can choose the location and weapons to be used, but straws are drawn to see who can shoot first. Out of the options given by Fry, the sword is probably the safest weapon to duel with as the other duels were to the death.
    • Rudolf Virchow, who opposed Otto von Bismarck's armament program, was challenged to a duel. Virchow was the first person to discover trichinella spiralis, a parasite in raw pork, so he chose sausages as the weapon. One sausage would be injected with the pathogen and the other would be safe to eat; Bismarck would have to choose one sausage to eat and Virchow would eat the other. Bismarck called off the duel.
    • In 1808 in Paris, there was a dispute over a lady between Monsieur Grandpre and Monsieur de Pique. They had a duel with their own hot air balloons and a blunderbuss each; Pique shot first and missed, but Grandpre's shot hit the balloon and sent Pique and his second plummeting 2000 feet to their deaths.
      • (XL only) According to Toksvig, Élisabeth Thible was the first ever female air passenger. She dressed up as Minerva and sang an aria while her hot air balloon was taking off; she sprained her ankle when she landed.
    • Monsieur Melfant won a duel against Monsieur Lenfant with billiards balls. The two fell out during a game of billiards and agreed they would pelt each other with balls until one died. Melfant threw first and killed Lenfant with a single ball, which hit Lenfant between the eyes.
    • With a duel involving swords, the winner is the first to draw blood.
    • (XL only) In the 1800s, Greece gave the Ottoman Empire bullets in the Greek War of Independence. The Ottoman Empire were running out of bullets and to prevent them from melting down parts of the Parthenon to make some more, Greece gave them 70,000 bullets.
  • The "Great Binge" ran from the 1880s to the start of World War I. During the Great Binge, laudanum was mixed with beer in "Best" beer. Norfolk and parts of Lincolnshire drank more beer (5.5 tonnes) than the rest of Britain.
  • (XL only) Catnip is to cats as liquid aniseed is to dogs.
  • Lycasin is found in sugar-free sweets: it is a laxative.[penny 1] On Amazon's page for sugar-free Gummy Bears (which notes "May cause stomach discomfort and/or a laxative effect"), over 250 comments have been made by customers, describing their bodily responses to the sweets.
  • Bill says that he once tested how many Gummy Bears can fit in a miniature remote-controlled helicopter before it becomes too heavy. He claims that just one Gummy Bear caused the helicopter to crash.

General IgnoranceEdit

  • There are no non-venomous snakes.[2] Alan correctly says that all snakes contain a small amount of venom. Professor Brian Fry describes snake venom in snakes which kill by constriction (e.g. pythons) as "defunct remnants of a functional past". In 2013, he showed that Komodo dragons kill with venom.
  • (XL only) 250 million years ago, the fastest mass extinction occurred. The "Great Dying" took 60,000 years. (Human activity is causing mass extinction, but this is ongoing and so cannot be called the fastest mass extinction event yet.)
  • Fry asks Davies "Would you take a bullet for me?"[3] Bullets move at 700 miles per hour, so one cannot react fast enough to dive in front of a target and block it.
  • People fall over when they've been shot because they've seen it done in movies.[4][5][penny 2] It has been shown that people only fall over when they're aware of being shot.
  • Cannibalism is not illegal in the United Kingdom (although murder/assisted suicide is). It is legal to donate organs to be eaten and placentas are commonly eaten. Toksvig tells the others that there is a special fork for cannibalism, with three prongs.
  • (XL only) In 2003, Armin Meiwes ate Bernd Brandes with his permission. Meiwes tried to bite off Brandes' penis, but had to use a knife; they tried to eat it together. It was too chewy raw, so it was fried in salt, pepper, wine and garlic but became overcooked and was fed to a dog. Meiwes then stabbed Brandes and froze him, consuming his body over the next 10 months. He was originally found guilty of "killing on demand" but a retrial caused him to be convicted of murder.

Ending quoteEdit

Stephen Fry's ending quote is the last words of Richard Savage, a poet who died in 1743: "I have something to say to you, Sir... nope, 'tis gone."

Spend a Penny bonusEdit

The Spend a Penny bonus, appearing throughout the L Series, is to be used by panellists when they think an answer is related to lavatories.

  1. Correct answer; no-one spent a penny.
  2. Incorrect - Bill Bailey


  1. Throwing himself off a cliff - Bill Bailey
  2. Grass snake - Bill Bailey
  3. Yes - Alan Davies
  4. Because they've been shot - Jason Manford
  5. The impact - Jason Manford