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
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
Anime and Manga
- The grammasites, from Thursday Next. Parasites that live in books, examples include adjectivores, spelling vyruses, and the like.
Myths & Folklore
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.