Created By: RossN on December 7, 2011 Last Edited By: RossN on August 6, 2012

Missing Organ

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Closely related to Shrunken Organ this is a comedy trope where a vital internal organ is missing altogether without causing ill-effect (or outright death).

The most common absent organ is the brain (for stupid people) but occasionally you will hear about someone being literally heartless. As might be imagined this trope is far more likely to show up in animation but occasionally you see in live action televsion too.

Compare and contrast with Shrunken Organ. See also Who Even Needs a Brain? which is where someone who already has a brain looses it but survives.

A subtrope of Artistic License Biology.


  • In Popular Sadist Teacher Bobbi Glass underwent an operation and the the doctors were amazed discover she didn't have a heart.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • December 7, 2011
    • This is possible in Real Life; apart from redundant organs (like the kidneys and lungs) which you can do without (although not as well) because you have a spare, there are also organs that you can survive without (at least for a while) such as the spleen (the loss of which weakens the immune system amongst other things), reproductive organs (which most people would prefer to keep, naturally, but aren't needed to keep you alive at all) and even a few that serve no purpose (or at least very little purpose) such as the appendix.
    • Machines, such as a heart and lung machines, can be used to keep people alive without vital organs while they're having surgery to repair or replace them.
  • December 7, 2011
    In The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz the Scarecrow has no brain and the Tin Woodman has no heart. Note though that neither one of them has any other internal organs either (including that the Scarecrow has no heart and the Woodman no brain) but they don't care about the other organs being missing.
  • December 10, 2011
    Izumi from Full Metal Alchemist. Duh!
  • December 11, 2011
    Heh. Not familiar with the series - what is he (or she) missing?
  • December 11, 2011
    Charlie the Unicorn is missing a kidney.
  • December 11, 2011
    Not sure if these count:

    anime and manga:
    • In Full Metal Alchemist, it's apparently never made it clear exactly which organs Izumi lost. Fanon speculates that her entire reproductive system is missing. See here.
    • In Inu Yasha, Kagura is missing her heart. However, it's not so much Played For Laughs as played for sympathy: Naraku keeps her heart alive outside her body to use as a self-destruct device in case she turns against him.
    • In Gunslinger Girl, most of the cyborgs have a missing body part. Usually it's an arm or leg (often all four), plus an artificial, bullet - resistant skull, but Henrietta mentions that she'll never have a period because she's missing "that organ".

    Western Animation:
    • In an episode of The Venture Brothers, Dr. Venture ends up missing both kidneys. It's Played For Laughs as the only ill effects he suffers is he ends up dragging a portable dialisis machine for the rest of the episode.
  • December 11, 2011
    Futurama: Zoidberg has demonstrated that he can lose a number of internal organs and still be quite fine ("The President is gagging on my gas bladder!").
  • December 11, 2011
    Hmm, I'd more sort of seen this as the person missing the organ to begin with rather than it being removed as such.

    • In one deleted scene from a Halloween episode of The Simpsons the Devil went bowling with Homer's head; it cracked open when it hit the pins revealing a slip of paper with 'IOU 1 brain' signed by God.
  • December 11, 2011
    The Carol Burnett Show: in a recurring sketch Carol & Harvey Koreman play a king and queen who have a bumbling servant in Tim Conway as an Honor Guard. When King Harvey asks why they keep him around, Queen Carol explains that during the War he saved a platoon (or something) single-handedly by swallowing a grenade. He's completely hollow inside; she demonstrates by saying "Hello" into his mouth, causing an echo.
  • December 11, 2011
    In Bleach all Hollows have a hole somewhere on their body, thus any organ that would be where the hole exists is missing. The most common places are the heart, throat, or somewhere on the head. Hollows being essentially evil ghosts, this is not unjustified.
  • December 11, 2011
    @reub2000: Don't. Just...don't.

    If you're going to post an example, post an example. Don't insult the intelligence of the other tropers by implying that they're stupid if they haven't heard of your example, or that you're too good to actually explain what the hell you're talking about to anyone else.

    Here's an example.

    • Izumi from Fullmetal Alchemist lost her reproductive system (and other organs, it's implied) to the Portal of Truth for her "sin" of trying to bring her son back to life through human transmutation. For most of the series, she consequently suffers from an Incurable Cough Of Death and ultimately succumbs between the first anime and the movie, but in the original manga and Brotherhood, she is "cured" by Hohenheim: he can't restore her missing organs, but he does something to her that allows her body to cope better without them.
  • December 11, 2011
    One more example =):

    • In an episode from the animated Men In Black series, an alien misses one heart, which was stolen. It should normally have two.
  • December 19, 2011
    The 'duh' comment wasn't directed at any troper. It was in reference to the fact that she vomits blood in pretty much every scene that shes in.
  • December 20, 2011
    In Hot Shots! Admiral Benson, played by Lloyd Bridges, supposedly had many of his body parts replaced as a result of war wounds. At one point he puts a handkerchief into one ear and pulls it out the other, showing the lack of brains inside.
  • December 20, 2011
    One illustration in the Paranoia rulebook shows a Troubleshooter grinning and giving a thumbs-up to the viewer, after a docbot removed his brain.
  • August 6, 2012
    Western Animation

    An episode of The Simpsons has Homer fall to Hell and literally crack his head open. We find his skull his hollow and instead of a brain, we see a note that reads "I.O.U. God". This is contradicted in other episodes where Homer is shown to have a brain in X-Rays.

    Are we only counting organs without redundancies?
  • August 6, 2012
    Legacy of Kain: Defiance brings a variant of this. While Raziel does indeed rip out Kain's heart and then use it to resurrect Janos Audron, Kain still manages to crawl out of Hell and come back to life. The reason this is possible is because he is the Scion of Balance, and therefore is incapable of dying.
  • August 6, 2012
    @triassicranger: Yes, only things like the brain, heart, stomach etc.
  • August 6, 2012
    • Anencephaly is a Real Life terminal birth defect in which the forebrain fails to develop.