Game of Thrones fans have little love for young King Joffrey Baratheon. The voracious-for-power, know-it-all teen wears his expression in a permanent sneer. He executes innocents on a whim, tortures women, regularly insults his mother and elders and has no regard for anything but his own Narcissistic self-interest. All told, this character is a sadistic little shit. Which is why, when a deadly poison permanently wiped the smirk off Joffrey's face in season four of GoT, fans rejoiced.
For all his faults, however, no one can argue that Joffrey's death was anything less than deeply horrific. That nightmare scenario was so realistically portrayed that it creates an unsettling suspicion that the poison was not purely the stuff of fiction. Dragons aside, author George R.R. Martin does have a tendency to borrow from non-fiction when devising some of his most gruesome plot twists (the Red Wedding, for example, was loosely based on historic events, and in the past, some people were indeed executed by molten gold). Moreover, in historic times, poisonings were a common means of murder—including of those in positions of power.
This all poses the question: was the potion that killed Joffrey based on a real-life poison?