Created By: RossN on April 4, 2013 Last Edited By: yisfidri on August 5, 2013

No Brain To Damage

A character survives massive head trauma intact because they have nothing in their head.

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A comedy trope mostly found in cartoons where a character (normally The Ditz) survives something that would have caused serious brain damage or outright death in a real person but explicitly does the character no harm because they have no brain to damage.

The actual trauma can range from 'merely' hitting the character over the head with a sledgehammer to taking an arrow In One Ear, Out the Other without blinking. Very commonly the would be victim doesn't even realise they have been hit until someone points it out.

Sometimes Lampshaded by someone expressing the brainless character was lucky "not to have anything vital up there."

Related to Who Even Needs a Brain? (where the brain exists but is removed without fatal effect) and the much less silly 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain. Super Trope to Your Brain Won't Be Much of a Meal. Subtrope of Hard Head and Disability Immunity. Overlaps with Picky People Eater. Compare Balls of Steel and Too Dumb To Fool. Contrast Cranial Processing Unit. See also No Sell.

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Examples

Anime and Manga
  • A villain in Dragon Half, Damaramu, survived being impaled in the head with his own sword, because his brain is, as he put it, "compact".
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the Tachikoma (autonomous tanks with Genki Girl personalities) accidentally allude to this trope on discovering their "brains" are on board a satellite, preserving their individual intelligences if they're destroyed, rather than in their bodies (as was the case in the first season).
    Tachikoma: You mean...we're brainless!?

Film
  • This is often implied in The Three Stooges. One episode has an x-ray of Curly's skull be empty save for a cartoon cuckoo clock.
  • Legend. Brown Tom is taken down by one of the goblin's arrows. When the others find him, he thinks he's dead.
Brown Tom: Shot me through me brain pan.
Screwball: That's one spot an arrow will do no harm.
  • Jeebs the arms dealer in the Men in Black series must have his brains elsewhere in his body, as K can shoot his head off multiple times without seriously hurting him.
  • The aliens in Battle: Los Angeles can take a headshot and not go down; it takes a vivisection of a wounded alien to discover a vulnerable spot in their chest that will kill them. Apparently the sensory organs are in the head, but nothing more vital.
  • B.O.B. from MonstersVsAliens is a blue gelatinous blob who can survive various injuries and falls, because he "has no brain".
  • General Grievous' bodyguard droids from Revenge of the Sith can be decapitated with no apparent effect.

Literature
  • Famously discussed in the poem "You Are Old, Father William", from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
    "You are old, Father William," the young man said, "and your hair has become very white;
    And yet you incessantly stand on your head - do you think, at your age, it is right?"
    "In my youth," Father William replied to his son, "I feared it might injure the brain;
    But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none, why, I do it again and again."
  • During the Battle of Mithral Hall in The Legend of Drizzt: Siege of Darkness, the Harpell family of wizards are able to No Sell the mental attacks and brain-sucking of a group of mind flayers. Namely because they developed a transmutation spell that swaps the locations of their brains and their, ahem, glutes.
  • Adjusted the Siege of Darkness example after remember what the wizards' name was.
  • Ciaphas Cain once commented that an ork could probably survive a several-hundred-foot fall, if it landed on its head.

Live-Action TV
  • An episode of Celebrity Death Match had Nick Diamond accidently take arrow to his head without noticing (though he did ask his co-host if he heard a 'buzzing sound' a little later.)
  • The short lived sitcom The Pitts about a family of Born Unlucky types had Bratty Teenage Daughter Faith get a pipe lodged in her head after an explosion. Again she doesn't notice at first even though the pipe left a tennis ball sized hole in either side of her head just above her ears and when she does she's upset at looking like a freak at school rather than any potential grey matter lost.
  • In the 30 Rock episode "Blind Date", Jack cleans everyone out in a poker game. However, Kenneth manages to beat him since "you can't reads his thoughts 'cause he doesn't have any."
  • For what it's worth, The Great Luke Ski uses these exact words to describe Homer in 88 Lines About 44 Simpsons.

Video Games
  • A bonus perk in Fallout: New Vegas 's expansion Old World Blues by the name of Brainless sees the player character's brain removed and replaced with Tesla coils. One of the results of this is that the PC's head can no longer be crippled.

Western Animation
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Billy survives his first encounter with the evil, brain-sucking meteor in "Little Rock of Horrors" by virtue of having no brain to be sucked out in the first place.
  • The Simpsons: In the Treehouse of Horror short, "Dial 'Z' for Zombies", Homer gets saved from being eaten by zombies because they consider him to have nothing to eat.
  • Also in Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bullwinkle is immune to brainwashing on account of having "not enough brain to wash".

Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • April 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Compare No Sell.

    Literature:
    • During the Battle of Mithral Hall in The Legend Of Drizzt: Siege of Darkness, a group of previously seen Cloudcuckoolander wizards are able to No Sell the mental attacks and brain-sucking of a group of mind flayers. Namely because they developed a transmutation spell that swaps the locations of their brains and their, ahem, glutes.
  • April 4, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    In The Grim Adventures Of Billy And Mandy, Billy survives his first encounter with the evil, brain-sucking meteor in "Little Rock of Horrors" by virtue of having no brain to be sucked out in the first place.
  • April 5, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Often occurs when a work averts Cranial Processing Unit
  • April 5, 2013
    Tiiba
    A villain in Dragon Half, Damaramu, survived being impaled in the head with his own sword, because his brain is, as he put it, "compact".
  • April 5, 2013
    McKathlin
    This is a subtrope (or closely related trope) of Hard Head. I'm surprised that Hard Head doesn't mention the "no brain" gag as a frequent reason for no harm done. So yes, this needs to exist. And I like the title No Brain To Damage.
  • April 6, 2013
    Surenity
    • This is often implied in The Three Stooges. One episode has an x-ray of Curly's skull be empty save for a cartoon cuckoo clock.
  • April 6, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • Legend. Brown Tom is taken down by one of the goblin's arrows. When the others find him, he thinks he's dead.
    Brown Tom: Shot me through me brain pan.
    Screwball: That's one spot an arrow will do no harm.
  • April 6, 2013
    Random888
    I'm not sure if this is covered by this trope, but...

    In the Thirty Rock episode "Blind Date", Jack cleans everyone out in a poker game. However, Kenneth manages to beat him since "you can't reads his thoughts 'cause he doesn't have any."
  • April 6, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Western Animation
  • April 6, 2013
    DracMonster
  • April 6, 2013
    JonnyB
    Jeebs the arms dealer in the Men In Black series must have his brains elsewhere in his body, as K can shoot his head off multiple times without seriously hurting him.
  • April 6, 2013
    Korodzik
    Picky People Eater seems to have a lot of overlap with this.
  • April 7, 2013
    RossN
    I think the Thirty Rock example is more along the lines of Too Dumb To Fool.
  • April 11, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Rocky And Bullwinkle Boris Badenov has a "Goof Gas" gun which renders anyone who inhales it stupid. It doesn't affect Bullwinkle.
    Natasha: Well, why didn't goof gas affect moose?
    Boris: Because goof gas affects the brain.
    Natasha: And?
    Boris: No brain, no effect.
  • April 11, 2013
    Ryusui
    I don't remember the name of the novel, but...

    • One Star Trek Voyager novel has the crew encountering a race of aliens, the P'nir, who are in a constant state of civil war. Part of their Bizarre Alien Biology is that their brains aren't in their heads: this allows one to shrug off a headshot from a phaser set on stun, and another to survive decapitation (although a character notes that, while not fatal, it's still a crippling injury).
  • April 11, 2013
    MonaNaito
  • April 11, 2013
    SharleeD
    For what it's worth, The Great Luke Ski uses these exact words to describe Homer in 88 Lines About 44 Simpsons.
  • April 11, 2013
    elcheviva
    A bonus perk in Fallout: New Vegas's expansion Old World Blues by the name of Brainless sees the player character's brain removed and replaced with Tesla coils. One of the results of this is that the PC's head can no longer be crippled.
  • May 17, 2013
    RossN
    Bump
  • May 17, 2013
    JonnyB
    The aliens in Battle Los Angeles can take a headshot and not go down; it takes a vivisection of a wounded alien to discover a vulnerable spot in their chest that will kill them. Apparently the sensory organs are in the head, but nothing more vital.
  • May 17, 2013
    StarSword
    Adjusted the Siege of Darkness example after remember what the wizards' name was.
  • May 17, 2013
    Koolkev
    B.O.B. from MonstersVsAliens is a blue gelatinous blob who can survive various injuries and falls, because he "has no brain".
  • August 4, 2013
    RossN
    Bump
  • August 4, 2013
    dalek955
  • August 4, 2013
    yisfidri
    • Famously discussed in the poem "You Are Old, Father William", from Lewis Carroll's Alices Adventures In Wonderland.
      "You are old, Father William," the young man said, "and your hair has become very white;
      And yet you incessantly stand on your head - do you think, at your age, it is right?"
      "In my youth," Father William replied to his son, "I feared it might injure the brain;
      But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none, why, I do it again and again."
  • August 4, 2013
    Bisected8
    Subtrope to Disability Immunity.

    • In Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex, the Tachikoma (autonomous tanks with Genki Girl personalities) accidentally allude to this trope on discovering their "brains" are on board a satellite, preserving their individual intelligences if they're destroyed, rather than in their bodies (as was the case in the first season).
      Tachikoma: You mean...we're brainless!?
  • August 5, 2013
    yisfidri
    All examples edited in.
  • August 5, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    I do hope "Father William" is the page quote.
  • August 5, 2013
    RossN
    I have to admit I would have expected a lot more comedy examples when I came up with this trope, with the character literally not having a brain at all rather than it simply not being in their head. The descripition might need to be rewritten.
  • August 5, 2013
    Chabal2
  • August 5, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Reason being, insect nervous systems are spread in clusters throughout the body instead of centralized in the head.
  • August 5, 2013
    RossN
    Could someone please re-write the description? I think we're dealing with two different tropes here.

    The first is a comedy trope where a stupid character literally doesn't have a brain and is thus blessed with a partcular form of Disability Immunity.

    The second is mostly non-comedic and a Speculative Fiction type trope where the character has some sort of brain (or AI for a non-organic character) that just doesn't happen to be in its head.

    I was very much thinking of the first sort when I started this up but most of the examples seem to be of the second sort. A different title mighrt be in order too.
  • August 5, 2013
    DAN004
    I believe both are tropes on their own, sir.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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