Created By: Whowho on April 12, 2013 Last Edited By: Whowho on April 24, 2013
Troped

Abstract Eater

Creatures who gain sustenance from eating things too abstract be be called objects

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Trope
In fiction almost anything can be food. Many characters have a Bizarre Taste in Food, but what they eat is organic, that is not this trope. Many characters are an example of an Extreme Omnivore, but even they eat things you can put on a plate, that is not this trope. Abstract Eater eats things which aren't so much things but concepts, that is this trope.

Individuals with these tastes will feed on anything from lost possibilities to sanity, love or even cool. Though they may also enjoy the material as a side dish all of these foodies get some kind of benefit from the abstract dish of their choice.

The process of eating something abstract could be portrayed in any number of ways as it's up to the creators of the work to describe was it looks like to see something invisible get devoured.

This can often be a Horror Hunger as it often leads to the Eater of the Abstract feeding of the actions or traits of folks like us, leading to humans in behaviour farms and or a deficiency of the tasty concept in the world or it's previous host. A common aspect of Eldritch Abominations, naturally.

Emotion Eater and Spacetime Eater are subtropes where the abstract food is human emotion and the fabric of the universal respectively When prayer is what's eaten this overlaps with Gods Need Prayer Badly.

Examples

Anime and Manga

Literature
  • The grammasites, from Thursday Next. Parasites that live in books, examples include adjectivores, spelling vyruses, and the like.

Live-Action TV
  • Red Dwarf has the emohawk, a domesticated breed of the Emotion Eater ploymorph that instead feeds on personality traits, during it's episode it enjoys a meal of Rimmer's bitterness and Cat's cool. While this left the Cat in his bumbling and useless Duane Dibbley persona, it radically helped Rimmer, who became his heroic parallel universe persona Ace Rimmer. What a guy!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer season five Big Bad Glory had to manage her hell god composure by eating human sanity. Leaving her victims gibbering wrecks.
  • Doctor Who has a few examples;
    • The weeping angels send people back in time so they can feed on the lives they never lived. To resurrect an entire cave system of dieing angels one crashes a star ship into it that happens to harbour series five's crack in time,the angels have a feast on all the lives the crack had stolen from existence, until the crack starts swallowing them.
    • The minotaur from The God Complex eats faith and lives in a maze designed to show it's inhabitants fears that will cause them to call onto their faiths, "cooking" them.
    • The planet sized creature called Akhaten from the episode bearing his name fed on stories. The peoples living in his system used items of sentimental value as currency so they could be given as offerings to Akhaten and taught their Queen of Years all the stories of their culture so that if Akhaten woke he could feast on her rather than their entire system. They even believe that Akhaten made the first life in the universe, possibly to create tasty stories for it to feast on.
  • The Wraith in Stargate Atlantis consume human life forces via organs in the palms of their hands.
  • The babel fish from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy feeds on brainwave energy and excretes a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain. A handy side effect of this is that if you stick one in your ear, it will allow you to instantly understand any spoken language.
  • The Trickster (from Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures) and his minions, the Trickster's Brigade, feed on the chaos created when an established timeline is altered in some way.

Myths & Folklore

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Several monsters eat the psionic energy of psionic creatures, such as Brain Moles, Cerebral Parasites and Intellect Devourers.
    • The undead known as a shadow drains the strength of other creatures.
  • The Forgotten Realms setting has Dendar the Night Serpent, an Eldritch Abomination who feeds on the nightmares of mortals and deities alike. Among the duties of the Chultan god Ubtao is guarding the Realms against Dendar's emergence from beneath the Peaks of Flame. If Dendar defeats Ubtao, legend has it his next meal will be the universe itself.

Video Games
  • Drowzee of Pokémon fame takes after it's Baku inspiration and eats bad dreams
  • Keine Kamishirasawa from Touhou is a were-hakutaku, whose ability is to eat history in human form, and create history in hakutaku form. It is unexplained how she eats history, but the effect seems to conceal the thing whose history is being eaten, without actually removing its existence.

Western Animation
  • Adventure Time has a few examples; a character who eats drawings from within the paper they reside, and Marcelline, a vampire who eats not blood, but the colour red.
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • April 12, 2013
    MasterheartsXIII
    Eater not easter

  • April 12, 2013
    DunDun
    Eater or Easter.

    I think the description should start with what the trope is and not what it isn't.

    [Edit: The example is Emotion Eater not this whoops]
  • April 12, 2013
    DaibhidC
    Live Action TV
    • The Polymorph in Red Dwarf feeds by sucking emotions out of people. In its first appearance this was Lister's fear, Rimmer's anger, Cat's vanity and Kryten's guilt, leaving them all incapable of functioning normally. In the second appearance, it took Rimmer's bitterness and Cat's cool, turning them into Ace Rimmer and Duane Dibbley.

    Myths & Folklore
    • The baku in Japanese folklore eat dreams.

  • April 12, 2013
    StarSword
    So I guess this is the supertrope to Spacetime Eater?

    Also, additional note on baku: This serves as the inspiration for the Drowzee line in the Pokemon franchise.

    TV:
    • The Wraith in Stargate Atlantis consume human life forces via organs in the palms of their hands.
  • April 12, 2013
    Whowho
    Yep that's the idea Star Sword. Emotion Eater needs a lot of trimming.
  • April 12, 2013
    WaxingName
    Would Life Energy count as a subtrope?
  • April 12, 2013
    DunDun
    I think Life Energy is what's being eaten.
  • April 12, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Anime And Manga
  • April 12, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    Adventure Time has a character who eats drawings. Not the paper with drawings on them but the drawings themselves.
  • April 13, 2013
    Bigeye
    This will have to be a super trope of Emotion Eaters and Soul Eaters
  • April 13, 2013
    Arivne
    Feeding on Life Energy is a part of Life Drinker, Horror Hunger and Vampiric Draining, but doesn't appear to have its own trope.

    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • Several monsters eat the psionic energy of psionic creatures, such as Brain Moles, Cerebral Parasites and Intellect Devourers.
      • The undead known as a shadow drains the strength of other creatures.
  • April 13, 2013
    Astaroth
  • April 13, 2013
    TonyG
    Also from Adventure Time, Marceline the Vampire Queen feeds not just on blood but on the color red.
  • April 13, 2013
    JoveHack
    An alternate name for the trope might be Abstract Consumer.
  • April 13, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Not bad.
  • April 13, 2013
    WaxingName
    ^That implies the buying of abstract concepts.

    I guess Abstract Eater would be a little less wordy.
  • April 13, 2013
    StarSword
    Did a draft cleaning.
  • April 13, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    I'd definitely go with the Abstract Eater.
  • April 13, 2013
    DunDun
    Thirding Abstract Eater.

    Also might want to explain in the description how Gods Need Prayer Badly is related. I think it's a "the Gods 'eat' the prayers to fuel themselves" but Gods Need Prayer Badly isn't exactly worded like that.

    Like, "When it's a 'Prayer' Eater, see Gods Need Prayer Badly" or something i dont know
  • April 13, 2013
    Bisected8
    • In Blaz Blue, Terumi claims that he's able to stick around as a ghost, despite dying many years ago because of the hatred people hold for him (which explains his habit of doing things in the cruelest way possible).

    BTW, would this be a supertrope to As Long As There Is Evil?
  • April 14, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    • Keine Kamishirasawa from Touhou is a were-hakutaku, whose ability is to eat history in human form, and create history in hakutaku form. It is unexplained how she eats history, but the effect seems to conceal the thing whose history is being eaten, without actually removing its existence.

  • April 14, 2013
    DunDun
    ^^That's about existing due to an abstract force (specifically, evil), while this is about eating an abstract thing (colors) or concept (hope or evil et cetera). If the eat is an abstract concept, I can see the two overlapping, but otherwise, I doubt they're related.
  • April 14, 2013
    Klic
    • The grammasites, from Thursday Next. Parasites that live in books, examples include adjectivores, spelling vyruses, and the like.
  • April 14, 2013
    StarSword
    Tabletop Games:
    • The Forgotten Realms setting has Dendar the Night Serpent, an Eldritch Abomination who feeds on the nightmares of mortals and deities alike. Among the duties of the Chultan god Ubtao is guarding the Realms against Dendar's emergence from beneath the Peaks of Flame. If Dendar defeats Ubtao, legend has it his next meal will be the universe itself.
  • April 14, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ That universe part makes it sound like it could be copied also to Space Time Eater.
  • April 15, 2013
    StarSword
    Indeed it could. I just didn't get around to it.
  • April 18, 2013
    Whowho
    Damn auto correct keeps riddiling this thing with typos when ever I type anything. If anyone spots a typo feel free to correct it.
  • April 24, 2013
    Whowho
    Added the new tropes Spacetime Eater to the sub tropes.

    Any one see any reasons why this isn't ready to publish?
  • April 24, 2013
    DunDun
    I'll mention this on the page's discussion page also, but... Spacetime Eater is more physical than abstract. It is, at its most laconic, an eater of existence. That's not abstract. I believe it's a sister trope to this one, with AE being the most incorporeal version with SE being the most corporeal version.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=5sj9yxpucevlkyad0qvbtdzc&trope=AbstractEater