An event has left the Big Bad
or other major antagonist severely injured or drained of power. It doesn't have to be a machine; it can be the inability to survive without attatching to another body.
This can be a way of creating sympathy for the villain, showing that they are weak or dependant. The weakness can be exploited by someone attacking them -- the Evil Overlord
may not have full strength because of what's happened to him, or may be stuck in one place. Dependance means that The Hero
can destroy the support system to destroy his enemy. Frequently, the very thing that made the Dark Lord
this way was done by the protagonist, sometimes in a battle that didn't succeed in killing the enemy but did injure him. This can be a sign that the hero wasn't ready to fight the villain, that he did so rashly, etc..
This may result in a Dragon-in-Chief
. Not to be confused with Evil Cripple
. See also Man in the Machine
, Brain in a Jar
and No Immortal Inertia
Anime and Manga
- In The Vision of Escaflowne, Big Bad Dornkirk (actually Isaac Newton transported to Gaia) is perpetually hooked up to a massive life-support machine keeping him alive well past when he should have died of old age. In the last episode, he rips free of it and lets Folken kill him to set in motion his Thanatos Gambit.
- Taopaipai and Freezer from Dragon Ball Z were both rebuilt as half cyborg, after Goku severely damaged them, in order to survive (both had several parts of their bodies replaced by mechanical components because of the damage sustained).
- Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid: Gauron has been reduced to lying in a bed tied to a machine after he was defeated in the previous season, but still manages to ruin everyone's day.
- After having his life saved by Heaven Canceller, Alistair Crowley from A Certain Magical Index has only once ever been seen someplace other than floating upside down in his tube. It's debatable if hew as actually physically present at that one time.
- Kagemaru, the Big Bad of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX 's Scared Beast/Phantom Demon arc, is at first confined to a full-body life support mechanism.
- In Naruto, after getting his arms sealed by the Third Hokage Orochimaru becomes this, and eventually he gets progressively weaker and more sickly when he has not transferred his mind to a new body every three years. Sasuke takes advantage of this, and defeats him in his sickly state.
- Mr. Freeze from Batman can't survive outside of his suit for long due to his heat sensitivity.
- Doctor Doom may not actually be on life-support but he has some sort of medical condition that requires that his entire body be bandaged when he's not in his armor.
- Star Wars: Darth Vader is probably the Trope Codifier. He can't live for more than a few minutes outside his black armor. He has bionic limbs, and his breathing is also reliant on robotics. This is from a time when Obi-wan Kenobi dueled with him when Vader was trying to take over the galaxy with Emperor Palpatine. Obi-wan wasn't able to kill Vader because they had once been like brothers, but he left him burning and without several limbs. Vader barely survived, and was taken by the Emperor and given his life-support system.
- In the Disaster Movie parody The Big Bus the Big Bad lives in an iron lung.
- Brainiac in the unproduced Superman Lives script by Kevin Smith. Zero-Context Example, fix this.
- The version of Bane seen in The Dark Knight Rises wears his mask to be constantly supplied with anesthetic gas to keep the crippling pain from his old injuries at bay.
- Jigsaw in the second through fourth Saw movies.
- Overdog in Space Hunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone is a cyborg who is linked to a life-support system that lets him suck the life force out of his victims and infuse it into his body. The apparatus also serves as a means of moving around in his lair as he has no lower body and instead is connected to a crane-like structure.
- Example from the Teen Titans film Trouble In Tokyo where he basically creates an ink army: this. this◊. He gets defeated and the Bigger Bad takes over.
- In Mistborn, the Lord Ruler maintains his youth by being a Compounder who can use atium. Without constant contact with his atium, he has No Immortal Inertia
- Harry Potter:
- Voldemort lives off Quirrel in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Since he was nearly destroyed, he is too weak to survive alone and even has to have unicorn blood to stay alive. This means he's weak enough that he can barely talk; when Quirrel is killed, he flees like a ghost.
- And even more repulsively when he's reduced to a helpless fetus that relies on Wormtail's care-giving and lives on snake-blood. Even then, he's still got an attitude.
- Mason Verger in the film and book Hannibal is a depraved child molester who was attacked by Hannibal Lecter but survived as a disfigured paraplegic, and therefore utterly depends on his caretaker to carry out his scheme of vengeance against Lecter. As a result of what Lector did to him at their last meeting, he is now on a respirator, bedridden and relies on a machine to moisten his lidless right eye. In both versions, Lecter uses a Hannibal Lecture to convince his caretaker to kill the helpless Verger in retaliation for years of abuse.
- The Authority from His Dark Materials is so old and withered that he has to live in a crystal globe to prevent air currents from disintegrating him.
- In Otherland, Jongleur lives off of life support, due to being the oldest man alive and pretty much has to live in his program since his body is failing.
- Ah Ling/Hendrik van Eeden/Tzaddik from the Sally Lockhart series by Philip Pullman is this. Although Sally shoots him in The Ruby In The Smoke, we find out in The Tiger In The Well that he survived, but her bullet had pierced his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed.
- The Cigarette-Smoking Man of The X-Files was eventually confined to a wheelchair due to alien technologies implanted into his brain and heavy smoking.
- Doctor Who:
- All the Daleks. Inside those fearsome 'travel machines', they're just these helpless little squidlike things.
- Davros, the creator and for a while the ruler of the Daleks, kept alive by a life-support system inside his high-tech wheelchair which can be turned off by pressing a button.
- Dr. Lumic, the creator of the new series' Cybermen.
- Max Capricorn in the Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned".
- Lady Cassandra O'Brien.Δ17 considers herself to be the last human being, but has undergone 708 cosmetic operations and is now nothing more than skin with a face, stretched over a screen, with her brain in a jar underneath.
- Mobius from Team Knight Rider.
- Scorpius in Farscape. A Sebacean-Scarran hybrid, his body chemistry was literally at war with itself and so he required an extensive cybernetic cooling system just to maintain a functional condition. Enemies who learned of this weakness frequently tried to take advantage of it to kill or disable him.
- Anubis in Stargate SG-1. Due to having ascended and then being kicked partway back down to our plane of existence, he currently exists as an Energy Being that requires some form of assistance in order to interact with our world. From season 5 until "Lost City", that assistence was a force-field suit. After its destruction, he had to Body Surf between hosts whose bodies reacted to him as if he were a disease.
- El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron has Semyaza on angelic life support after his fall from heaven.. Worse, he seems to have died down to the soul before you even reach him.
- Ex-hitman Volkov in No One Lives Forever 2 rolls around in a wheelchair, following his fight against Cate in NOLF 1. The wheelchair has a built-in rocket launcher, though, so it's all good.
- The Domz Priest from Beyond Good & Evil. The weird statue is the only thing that's keeping it alive.
- Technically, GLaDOS from Portal falls under this trope, since she is bound to the facility and dependent on the emotion cores and the local power supply.
- Sludge Vohaul, the primary antagonist of the Space Quest series, is permanently attached to a life support machine, as first seen in Space Quest II.
- ICO plays with this. The Queen has been living in her own body, but she'll soon need to sacrifice Yorda and use her as a host to keep living.
- In Sonic Adventure 2, the Biolizard, the original "Ultimate Life-Form", while Nigh Invulnerable, needs to be hooked up to a life-support system to survive. As such, the system itself is his Achilles' Heel, and is what you have to attack.
- The Joker from Batman: Arkham City has to be kept on life support because he's dying from Titan poisoning. The Titan serum that mutated him and gave him superhuman strength at the end of Arkham Asylum actually had unforseen side-effects; he has a sickness that is slowly killing him.
- Umbrella president Oswell E. Spencer is reduced to being confined to wheelchair and life support system three years before Resident Evil 5 due to his old age. He expects Alex Wesker to reverse this condition by engineering an Immortality virus, although Albert Wesker kills him to become the Big Bad after Spencer reveals that Wesker was one of many Unwitting Pawns for Umbrella known as "Wesker children" in a project done to create the perfect breed of humans.
- Extreme inversion: Mother Brain, big bad from the Metroid series is a giant brain in a highly impact resistant glass casing. After breaking through the shield you still have to fire multiple missiles(regular beams do nothing) directly at her bare grey matter in order to finish her off proving that the transparent casing is clearly for protective reasons only.
- Von Bolt of Advance Wars: Dual Strike is a decrepit old man in a super-wheelchair who wants to gain immortality.
- Mr. House from Fallout: New Vegas. Fix this Zero-Context Example.
- In Team Fortress 2, the teams' owners, Blutarch and Redmond Mann, are among the closest things to evil overlords in this universe. Blutarch is on a life support/extender machine just so he can live longer than his brother Redmond, who is also stated to be on one. Since the machines are about 100 years old, they don't run pergfectly, and thus the brothers die every now and then.
- Irregular Webcomic!: Hitler was burnt at the Reichstag fire and is a brain in a jar.
- Count Tarrorviene of Annyseed is hooked up to a blood machine which he is dependent on for survival. He also keeps his most capable servant at his side all the time, rather than sending her out to accomplish tasks that are difficult for his lesser servants, because he's incapable of defending himself and fears for his safety.