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For other uses of the term Vertigo, see Vertigo (disambiguation).

"A good wine's value is measured by its vintage. The number of years it took to ferment. Vertigo is measured in lives. 56 people died to perfect this high. Believe me when I say that they did not die for nothing."
The Count to Oliver Queen[src]

Vertigo is a deadly narcotic that makes its users disoriented. It was first developed by Cecil Adams, known as "Count Vertigo" (formerly "The Count"), and later modified by Werner Zytle. Years later, Ricardo Diaz recreated a large Vertigo supply based on Zytle's formula.


"Vertigo in its purest form. When injected directly into the bloodstream, it affects the thalamus region of your brain. Which is where all of the information from your pain receptors is collected. No doubt you're in excruciating pain. But actually, you're not. You just think you are. I've seen it last for days until finally the heart gives out."
The Count[src]

When injected directly into the bloodstream while in its purest form, Vertigo affects the thalamus, where all the information from the pain receptors are collected. This causes the victim to believe that they are in excruciating pain. The effect can last for days, until the heart eventually gives out and stops beating. With the modified version introduced by Werner Zytle, Vertigo not only induced excruciating pain, but also made the user hallucinate their greatest fear. Ricardo Diaz's Vertigo could cause such vivid hallucinations it gives the victim a hard time telling hallucinations from reality and can impair rational thinking.


Thea Queen was given some Vertigo by her friends at her 18th birthday party. Initially reluctant to use it, Thea consumed the entire packet in a fit of rage after seeing her mother with Malcolm Merlyn. While under the influence, she took her convertible out for a joyride and crashed on the side of the road. At the hospital, traces of the narcotic were found in Thea's system, and she was promptly arrested once discharged.[2]

When Oliver Queen found out that his sister had gotten Vertigo, he arranged a meeting with Cecil Adams, aka "The Count". In doing do however, Oliver was injected with Vertigo and therefore, unable to aim. Oliver took the rest of the sample to Felicity Smoak, who analyzed it and determined it was being produced in an abandoned juvenile center in the East sector of The Glades. There, Oliver confronted Cecil without his bow and dosed him with a double syringe of Vertigo, causing Cecil to go into a near-vegetative state for some time and sent to a mental institution.[1]

During this period, Cecil's psychiatrist Dr. Webb and his accomplice began redistributing the drug with a new ingredient, chlorpromazine, until Oliver and John Diggle stopped them.[3]

Following The Undertaking, Cecil recovered and began redistributing yet another version of Vertigo in a gambit to eliminate the Hood (now the Arrow). This ended in Cecil's death and further distribution of this drug was halted.

Werner Zytle soon took up the mantle of Count Vertigo and began as a simple pill-pusher before redistributing Vertigo yet again, but with a new added effect from mushrooms that cause the user to see their greatest fear. Like the original Count, Zytle often used needles to force the drug into others, but replaced handheld syringes with thick throwing darts when he decided to take over the criminal underworld.[4]

Ricardo Diaz created a large Vertigo supply, though it was destroyed by Green Arrow and Spartan.[5] Councilman Kullens, under Diaz's orders, dosed Oliver with Vertigo, which caused him to experience intense hallucinations, making it hard for him to tell what's real and what isn't. Under the influence of Vertigo, Oliver almost walked into Diaz's trap, but was fortunately snapped out of his confused state by Felicity.[6]



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Behind the scenes

  • The colors of the pills, green and black, are the same as Count Vertigo's costume in the DC comics.
  • In small doses, Vertigo is supposed to resemble 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), a psychoactive drug known as "ecstasy" which causes elevated blood pressure, agitation, mass hemorrhaging, and violent convulsions.