Created By: collex on May 9, 2012 Last Edited By: Stratadrake on May 13, 2012

Craniums are Optionals

Aliens or other strange lifeforms who walks around with their brain exposed without any debilitating effects.

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The human brain, for all its incredible capacity, is a pretty fragile thing, easy to squash or slash. It also has to be maintained in a liquid environment at all time. That is why it is housed in a completely airtight solid chamber called cranium.

Aliens, however, do not have the limitations of puny humans, and can live with their brain exposed without any problems. In some less realistic medium, humans too might survive with their brain exposed or protected by something much more flimsy than a cranium.

This trope is different from Brain in a Jar as the character is question still has a body and a head in addition to his brain. However, a monsters whose body is comprised mostly of an exposed brain but that also has legs and arms and a mouth and other body parts fits in this tropes.

Not to be confused with My Brain Is Big, which is for for characters whose big brain is a sign of heightened intelligence (which is not a prerequisite for this trope) and can be(and is more often than not)covered with a cranium. Henceforth, if this is accepted, some of the examples on that page (mostly those identified as subversion) will go here. The Trope Pic for My Brain Is Big might also requires changing.


- The Metalunan Mutants from This Island Earth

- The Martians is Mars Attacks!, both the original cards and the movie and comics derived from it.

- Psimon from DC Comics has his exposed brain protected by nothing more than a glass shell, and it doesn't seem to be bathing in liquid as it should.

- Depending on the Artist, Dungeons and Dragons Mind Flayers are sometimes depicted with brain-like head instead of craniums.

- Still from Dungeons and Dragons, Intellect Devourers are huge brains with four legs, a motuh and a lashing tongue.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • May 10, 2012
    • Farscape: "My Three Crichtons," a Season 2 episode, featured an alien-created hyper-evolved version of John with an exposed, enlarged brain.
    • Doctor Who: The Infospike technology used by people on Satellite Five exposed part of the brain when activated.
    • Also, Krang from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated show, though he is said to have once had a body that probably included a cranium.
  • May 11, 2012
    Doctor Who: "Mawdryn Undead" had an alien, the eponymous Mawdryn, pretending to be the next regeneration of the Doctor, who had his brain exposed. That's the way that particular species is built.
  • May 11, 2012
    I want to suggest Bare Brained Aliens for a title.
  • May 12, 2012
  • May 12, 2012
  • May 12, 2012
    That should be Optional, not Optionals, in the title. And I second Bare-Brained Aliens.

    The Dilbert universe has the planet Orgaplon VI, which is inhabited by a race of green bipedal beings with large brains above their bodies, supported by two stalks. (Two yellow eyes are affixed to the front part of the brain.)
  • May 12, 2012
    • A Real Life subversion might be brain corals, which only look like giant exposed brains.

    • After his transformation into a supervillain, Mojo Jojo from The Powerpuff Girls has an exposed oversized brain, although he has the sense to cover it with a transparent dome to protect it.

    • The Morlock leader from the latest film remake of The Time Machine had a brain that was covered only by a thin transparent membrane and had grown halfway down his back.

    • The Observers from late in the run of Mystery Science Theater 3000 carried their brains around in their hands.
  • May 12, 2012
    In The Fairly Odd Parents aliens from Yugopotamia have exposed brains which they cover with glass domes.
  • May 12, 2012
    Doctor Who: The Ood have hindbrains which are external to their bodies, connected via an umbilical-like cord.
  • May 12, 2012
    [[Pirates of the Carribean]]: In At World's end, When Jack is in the galley of the Flying Dutchman, he sees a cursed version of himself that takes out its brain and [[Squick licks it]].
  • May 13, 2012
    Doctor Who: One or two Cyber Controllers (Lumic, at least) had their brains visible behind a transparent panel.

    The article intro should probably include something along the lines of "exposed (or 'protected' by mere glass, or at least something that looks like glass)". (Some of the things-that-look-like-glass may actually be at least as sturdy as a human skull.)

  • May 13, 2012
    Video Games
    • The Spiderdemon in Doom was a huge exposed brain attached to a mechanical vehicle with metal legs. Its face was on the front of the brain, with red eyes and a tooth-filled mouth.