[[quoteright:320:[[Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Zordon1_7512.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:320:Report to the command center, immediately!]]

A preserved head or skull that can speak on its own, usually to answer questions of a divinatory nature.

As a trope, it is at least OlderThanFeudalism -- it goes back to the Greek myth of Orpheus's singing head.

A common variation in medieval lore was the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazen_Head Brazen Head,]] which could answer any question and make oracular pronouncements. The Brazen Head crops up in the stories surrounding many medieval magicians, including Roger Bacon and {{Faust}}.

See also LosingYourHead and BrainInAJar for other cases of living beheaded creatures. If it comes down to just being a skull, it starts to overlap with DemBones.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', [[spoiler:Lordgenome]] gets his head resurrected and hooked to life support by post-TimeSkip [[spoiler:Rossiu]], who wants to regain full access to his knowledge this way.
* Subverted in ''Anime/{{Texhnolyze}}'' with [[spoiler: Ran]] who ends up in this state but refuses to divine anything to [[spoiler: Kano]].


[[folder: Comic Books]]
* Clea brings the heroes Comicbook/DoctorStrange's severed head in a brandy barrel in ''ComicBook/{{Marvel 1602}}''. As is typical of the trope, being dead means that Strange can now tell our heroes stuff that he couldn't while alive.
* ''ComicBook/TheInvisibles'' also has Ragged Robin stumble across a group of Conspiracy members who receive orders from the head of John the Baptist. Subverted in that Robin just hears the head talking nonsense, and realizes that the head's speaking in tongues; the only reason the Conspiracy members hear orders is because they've been so thoroughly conditioned to follow orders.
* ''ComicBook/MarvelZombies'' ComicBook/{{Deadpool}} has been reduced to a [[IncrediblyLamePun Headpool]], who is now the regular Deadpool's sidekick.
* ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' has Orpheus, Morpheus' son, an oracle and disembodied head.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Valhalla}}'', the decapitated but still-living head of Mimir is a recurring side character; he's a bit of a grouch and Odin's eternal [[SmartPeoplePlayChess chess partner]]. In most of the stories he tends to win the chess games (or is about to), although Odin frequently cheats.
* ''ComicBook/KingdomCome''. Deadman has a talking skull head.

* The adaptation of ''Film/HarryPotter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'' featured a ShrunkenHead who was apparently the navigator of the Knight Bus, giving directions to the driver and making smart remarks. He [[CanonForeigner isn't mentioned in the books]], but J.K. Rowling [[CreatorPreferredAdaptation has said she wished she'd thought of it]].
* Marie Antoinette in ''HEDoubleHockeySticks'' is a disembodied head who acts as Mrs. Beelzebub's secretary. Despite the handicap of having no hands or arms.
* Oz the Great and Powerful from ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'' first appeared as a great and looming head before turning out to be TheManBehindTheCurtain.

* Bob in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles''. In the books, Bob is an air spirit bound into a skull, while in the TV series, he is a human ghost who "lives" there and comes out when Harry needs his services... or whenever he feels like it.
* In ''Literature/TheLastUnicorn'', a skull tells the main characters how to find the Red Bull's lair. This was changed to an entire skeleton for the movie, probably to make for more interesting animation.
* In Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Discworld/SoulMusic'', a talking skull appeared in a minor scene taking place in a wizard's workshop.
** In ''Discworld/MakingMoney'', we are introduced to Unseen University's Department of [[InsistentTerminology Post-Mortem Communications]], which includes a talking skull named Charlie (who brags that he's "[[JustForPun the backbone]] of the department").
** It's mentioned in passing in ''Discworld/TheScienceOfDiscworld 2'' that the Dean keeps a skull in his office that sings comical songs.
* Subverted in ''Literature/DonQuixote'', where Don Antonio Moreno tricks Quixote into thinking he has one of these, when really it's just his nephew speaking through a tube that leads into the head.
* Alexander Beliaev's sci-fi novel ''Professor Dowell's Head'' is entirely about this.
* Inverted in Creator/WilliamGibson's ''Literature/{{Neuromancer}}''. The ornate head inside the Tessier-Ashpool complex, to which the password needs to be spoken to allow Neuromancer and Wintermute to merge into the first true AI. And also a reference to the Brazen head.
* In the novella ''The Magic Goes Away'', the necromancer Wavyhill has [[WhoWantsToLiveForever cast immortality spells on himself]]. However, [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor that backfires]] when [[BlessedWithSuck his body is hacked up and all that is left is his skull]], which due to his magic, he is trapped in and can talk.
* In ''Literature/TheSkullOfTruth'' by Creator/BruceCoville, the protagonist finds an oracular skull named Yorick in TheLittleShopThatWasntThereYesterday.
* The NICE in ''That Hideous Strength'' by C. S. Lewis have the severed head of an executed criminal attached to a machine that keeps it alive and lets it speak. But it turns out it's not the original owner who's using it....
* In Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/MagicInc'', an African sorcerer consults the ShrunkenHead of his grandfather.
* In Tom Deitz's ''SoulsmithTrilogy'', Ronny Dillon creates a Brazen Head through a combination of mechanics and magic.
* In ''The Shattered World'', Pandrogas has a talking brazen head mounted over his laboratory's door as a security device.
* The villains in Creator/JohnMasefield's ''Literature/TheMidnightFolk'' and ''Literature/TheBoxOfDelights'' make use of a Brazen Head.
* In the Literature/ChooseYourOwnAdventure book ''Return to Brookmere'', the protagonist has a necklace with a talking amulet in the form of a dragon's head.
* There's a little-known medical horror novel, ''Heads'', in which disembodied heads are kept alive against their will for use as living computers.
* The Brazen Head is mentioned in ''Literature/TheIronDragonsDaughter''.
* In ''[[Literature/MythAdventures Myth Fortunes]]'', the sentient crystal ball of the Golden Hoard manifests as a female head of whatever species she's currently addressing, much like the Haunted Mansion example under 'Theme Parks'.
* The title character of Judith Merkle Riley's ''The Master of All Desires'' is one of these - it's a severed head in an ornate box that has the ability to see the future (making later historical references that mystify the other characters, it being set in the 16th century).
* ''Literature/JourneyToChaos'': Eric finds a talking skull while raiding the lair of an ancient mage. [[spoiler: It is the animated remains of his fellow Dengel Disciple, an otherworlder nicknamed "Asuna" who remembers all of Dengel's research.]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/PowerRangers'':
** Zordon, the franchise's original mentor figure. He's actually a humanoid being communicating from a pocket dimension Rita stuck him in, but we only ever see him outside his prison in the NonSerialMovie. When he's released from the prison at the beginning of ''Turbo'', he apparently ''becomes'' the floating head for real. Unfortunately, this makes it easier for the bad guys to imprison him during ''Space''.
** Zordon's pupil from ''Megaforce'', Gosei, is this also but has taken the form of a Tiki head.
*** Gosei's counterpart in Series/TensouSentaiGoseiger, Master Head, also resembles a Tiki.
* The "Big Giant Head" from ''Series/ThirdRockFromTheSun''.
** At least until he came to Earth in the form of William Shatner.
*** The BGH wasn't really oracular so much as he was the Solomons' boss and therefore a figure of terror for them... until he came to Earth, got drunk on the plane, and decided he liked it here.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The Face of Boe, a billions-year old giant-head-in-a-jar. No one knows how he's lived so long - unless [[spoiler: he really is Captain Jack Harkness]] - but he's had a very long time to gather knowledge and wisdom.
** Additionally, the head of Dorium technically fits this, although he doesn't exactly have much of the characterization (i.e., he has his head wired to surf the internet, and complains of boredom the instant you remove him from a wifi hot-spot).
** In "The Time of the Doctor", the Doctor has obtained the head of a Cyberman which he uses as a databank.
* The ''Series/NightGallery'' episode "Logoda's Heads" featured as its antagonist the witch doctor Logoda who had the power to make a bunch of {{Shrunken Head}}s tell him their secrets. British authorities accuse him of murdering an explorer but are unable to find enough evidence against him. A local young woman who knows that he is guilty takes matters into her own hands [[spoiler:by revealing that she is an even more powerful witch doctor who can make the shrunken heads ''kill'', after Logoda's body was torn apart off-screen. The episode ends with the camera zooming in on the heads and the traces of blood and flesh on their teeth...]]

[[folder:Mythology & Religion]]
* The Celtic god-hero Bran the Blessed ([[Creator/BrianBlessed no relation, probably]]), whose severed head continued to speak after his death and, according to one legend, is still buried under the Tower of London.
* Orpheus from Myth/GreekMythology lost his head to a ravening pack of Maenads, and continued to sing for a while afterwards.
** ...who puts in an appearance in ''ComicBook/TheSandman.''
** ...and ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}: Fantasy'' where he still has access powerful magic.
* The Head of Mimir from Myth/NorseMythology. Mimir was originally the guardian of the Well of Knowledge, and supposedly all-knowing - after he got himself decapitated, Odin had his head preserved with special herbs and rune-magic, to serve as his adviser. Unfortunately, he's a bit of a prick and makes Odin pull one of his own eyes out.
** Who appears in ''VideoGame/TooHuman'', although functioning through cybernetics rather.
* Also the head of Baphomet, supposedly "worshipped" by the Knights Templar following various satanic rites of sodomy (or sodomitic rites of satanism, either way). Of course, the rumor of Baphomet worship was probably a result of torture-induced "confessions", since the Templars were up against a real kangaroo court. Note the word's Arabic origin, probably intended to make the supposed worship extra-scary. Usually described as the Brazen Head variant of this trope.
** It is theorized that there was probably at least a little truth to this rumor, since the Templars dealt in some degree of non-Church-approved heresy. Since the Church has multiple skulls and mummified heads of saints around as relics (Google St. Lawrence the Librarian as one instance among many), the Templars likely DID have a skull relic in their possession.

[[folder: Newspaper Comics]]
* In one strip, [[ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes Calvin]] pretends to have one of these in a paper bag for Show and Tell. He uses it as a vehicle for teasing Susie Derkins.
-->''''Head':''' Soooosie is a Booooger Braaiin!
-->'''Calvin:''' It speaks the truth!

* Skull the Bone Head in ''Pinball/NoFearDangerousSports'', though he's strictly for the snark.

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu'' supplement ''The Asylum and Other Tales'', adventure "The Auction". A magical Brass Head could animate and answer questions if it were covered with burning blood. It was a trap: it contained a Servitor of the Outer Gods which would try to trick the user into releasing it.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'':
** The ''TabletopGame/{{Planescape}}'' campaign setting features Mimir: 'Living' encyclopaedias that take the form of floating, animate skulls and recite any knowledge they contain on demand. Mimirs are magical constructs and typically not sentient in and by themselves (this varies depending on the creator and the Mimir's intended use, however, and sentient Mimir do exist).
** The bugbear deity Hruggek sends omens to his followers via this trope, and is known to keep a large collection of severed heads that plead endlessly for mercy. Rumor has it that each head can also mentally influence members of its original race via ''suggestion'', or utter ''power word'' spells, if Hruggek commands it.
** A demilich is a lich that has grown so powerful and ancient, and spent so much time mentally exploring other worlds rather than within its body, that its remains have dwindled and decayed to nothing but a skull. Which ''eats souls''.
** One type of druj, a powerful class of undead creatures from [=CD&D=], takes the form of a skull.
* An artifact of this type from ''{{TabletopGame/Rifts}}'' is called [[AlasPoorYorick Poor Yorick]].
* ''TabletopGame/HunterTheVigil'' gives us the Aegis Kai Doru and their most prized possession, the living head of John the Baptist.
* The announcement for the Second Edition of ''TabletopGame/{{Ironclaw}}'' [[http://www.sanguinegames.com/2010/03/29/time-is-coming-ironclaw/ makes a direct reference to the Brazen Head variant]].
** In universe Phelan legend has Finias (presumably a lupine fusion of Orpheus and Bran the Blessed), a bard who was decapitated by a gang of his paramours' jealous husbands and whose severed head continued to sing. The people took this as an omen and built a city on the location, burying his head under the royal hall. Sometime later a queen of the tribe they founded famously sought counsel from the head.

* The witches use an apparition of an armed head to tell the future to the titular character of ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}''
* Robert Greene's play ''Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay'' dramatizes the legend of the Brazen Head.

[[folder: Theme Parks]]
* Madam Leota, the iconic head-in-a-crystal-ball of ''Ride/TheHauntedMansion'' (and, by extension, [[Film/TheHauntedMansion the movie adaptation]]) at Ride/DisneyThemeParks.

[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TheSecretOfMonkeyIsland'' has a severed navigator's head that leads you through Hell.
** And we can't mention ''VideoGame/MonkeyIsland'' without mentioning Murray the Mighty Demonic Skull from ''VideoGame/TheCurseOfMonkeyIsland''. Murray was originally supposed to be a OneSceneWonder, but he [[EnsembleDarkhorse proved so popular with fans]] that he popped up a few more times in ''Curse'', made a cameo in ''VideoGame/EscapeFromMonkeyIsland'', and even popped up again in one episode of ''VideoGame/TalesOfMonkeyIsland''.
--->'''Murray:''' I'm a powerful demonic force! I'm the harbinger of your doom! And the forces of darkness will applaud me as I ''stride'' through the gates of Hell, carrying your head on a pike!
--->'''Guybrush:''' [[IWouldSayIfICouldSay "Stride"]]?
--->'''Murray:''' Alright then, roll! ''Roll'' through the gates of hell. Must you take the fun out of everything?
* Postie Pete in ''VideoGame/RuneScape'', a talking skull that delivers letters to [=NPCs=]. Also one of the Holiday items was a severed Zombie head that you could hold and talk to.
* ''VideoGame/{{Avernum}}'' had the Xian Skull, a skull that would randomly talk while carried around in the party's inventory.
* Bonehead, one of the most memorable characters in the ''VideoGame/QuestForGlory'' series (and that's saying something), was - as his name suggests - a skull of this nature, one of many skulls surrounding the hut of Baba Yaga. One of the few things he ''doesn't'' complain about is not having EyeBeams like his boneheaded kinsmen, apparently considering sentience a valid trade-off.
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/{{Nox}}''. Talking to a recently-deceased mook's skull results in the skull responding, "I'm dead, I can't hear you."
* Urien's ending in ''[[StreetFighter Street Fighter III 3rd Strike]]'' has this with Urien looking down at the head of Gill, the series' BigBad and his older brother.
* ''MythTheFallenLords'' had a talking, severed head show up in the cutscenes, serving as an adviser to the sorcerer-generals in charge of the war against [[BigBad Balor]]. Turns out that [[spoiler:the head is more interested in sowing chaos and discord among the good guys then actually helping them win.]] Given the amount of stuff that was based on Celtic lore, he's probably based on the aforementioned Bran. The prequel established that [[spoiler: the head is actually from a previous incarnation of the BigBad]].
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'' expansion, Bloodmoon, [[spoiler:a guy sends you to find his friend, who's an oracle. The friend, it turns out, is a skull.]]
* The Brazen Head of the Vault Dweller appears in a humorous EasterEgg in ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}''. It's a huge stone head like the ones at the village. You have to "argue" with him (read say "are to" to his "are not") for twleve hours for him to concede that you are the ChosenOne. He gives you a [[http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Monument_chunk chunk of rock]] as a parting gift and tells you to get lost. If your Steal skill is less than 95% and you try to snag a few more he dishes out 14,000 hit points of damage and instantly vaporizes you.
-->"Damn tourists..."
* The "Meet the Medic" video of ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' features the decapitated but still-living head of BLU Spy, stuck in RED Medic's refrigerator.
-->'''BLU Spy:''' [[MajorInjuryUnderreaction Kill me]].\\
'''RED Medic:''' Later.
* Morte the sentient Mimir from ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' (see Tabletop Games), who looks even more skull-like than other Mimir. [[spoiler:Mainly, this is because Morte ultimately turns out ''not'' to be a Mimir, but a piece of the Pillar of Skulls from the first layer of Hell]]. Morte doesn't just talk, he snarks and jibes and is pretty much 'alive' in every sense of the world but the purely physical one.
* ''VideoGame/TooHuman'', being a {{Cyberpunk}} adaptation of Norse Mythology has Mimir as the Aesir corporation's data decryption and information specialist, he's not much for field work though seeing how last time only his head came back.
* ''VideoGame/WolfensteinIITheNewColossus'' contains one prime example where [[spoiler:William Blazkowicz's]] head is kept preserved in a jar developed by Set. It remains there a short time until it can [[spoiler: be reattached to the headless body of a captured Nazi]].
* ''VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing'' has a number of examples:
** The Detective Skull is an off-hand item that [[EnemyScan gives a vague estimate of the remaining HP of a monster]]. There's also a joke item called the Defective Skull, which gives useless "information" like "I deduce that this monster is one jive turkey" or "I deduce that this monster has approximately eleventy-seven hojillion hit points."
** A side quest in Little Canadia has a ShrunkenHead that guides you through a maze in a direct ShoutOut to ''Secret of Monkey Island''.
** A revamp of the Naughty Sorceress quest in January 2015 included a floating skull named Frank who gave adventurers advice on how to get through the many tricks and traps of the Sorceress's tower; the Tower had previously been a serious case of GuideDangIt for new players.

* In the "Rise of the Funsnake" story arc of ''Webcomic/{{Oglaf}}'' Morag The Immortal gets her head bitten off by the Funsnake. She can still talk, but only if somebody [[{{Squick}} blows air up her neck]].

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* The Party God from ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime''.
* ''{{WesternAnimation/Futurama}}'' is known for having contemporary celebrities appear in the show as heads preserved in jars and fully animated.
* Tarakudo, the BigBad of ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures'' season 4 [[spoiler: until he gets a body in the season finale.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'': Megatron spends all of Season 1 as one due to damage sustained in the pilot movie. He gets his body back in the season finale.
* This is how Moses is portrayed in ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark''. A RunningGag is him stammering when asked a question he doesn't know the answer to.