"If you kill anyone, make sure to eat their heart, to gain their courage! Their rich, tasty courage..."The Cannibalism Superpower is the ability of a person, mutant, monster, demon, alien, Eldritch Abomination, etc. to absorb super powers from other characters by eating them. Sometimes this also allows the user to take the character's memories or physical appearance too. Obviously, this is a power more suited to super villains, since eating people implies killing them. Please note, however, that this trope is not limited to villains (though, admittedly, that would make for a pretty strange hero). This is what happens when Brain Food mutates into something squickier. It's a mixture of All Your Powers Combined with I'm a Humanitarian (Of course, the victim doesn't have to be of the same species). Thinking of it another way, it's a more macabre version of Power Copying. See also Captured by Cannibals and Wendigo.
— Professor Farnsworth, Futurama
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Anime & Manga
- In Soul Eater, this seems to be the only way to acquire abilities you weren't born with.
- Dragon Ball Z
- Cell gains power by absorbing people, so he has a habit of depopulating entire towns. More importantly, he gains a massive upgrade, both in terms of power and physical appearance, by absorbing each of Dr. Gero's androids.
- Majin Buu gains abilities, and character traits, from every being he absorbs. This became a plot point when it was revealed that he had previously absorbed the Grand Supreme Kai and gained his innocent nature. That was the only thing keeping Buu from going completely berserk.
- The 9th Espada has a power to assimilate devoured foes. This allows him to assimilate another Hollow, which could itself assimilate shinigami. Unfortunately, this was the very Hollow which possessed Rukia's mentor, and gave him access to his memories and allowed him to seriously Mind Screw her. Other Hollows also get stronger by devouring other souls, but Aaroniero is the only one who also gains their special abilities.
- Liltotto Lamperd of the Vandenreich is revealed to have this power as a secondary effect of her power The Glutton in the Bleach novels. Specifically, if what she eats possesses a special ability, she can use that ability once her meal digests. This power works on fellow Sternritter like Pepe's The Love after she eats him in vengeance and even Hollows like Loly's Resurreccion after she eats parts of it, which would normally be toxic to a Quincy.
- In Hellsing, the soul of someone consumed by a vampire becomes that vampire's familiar. The vampire has access to their abilities and can summon the familiar at will. When Alucard's final Power Limiter is released, it's revealed he has done this to MILLIONS of humans, vampires and other creatures alike.
- Episode 19 of Neon Genesis Evangelion has a berserker Unit-01 eat the corpse of Zeruel, in the process gaining its S2 Engine, theoretically allowing it to generate infinite amounts of energy from nothing.
- Both Naraku and Moryomaru have devoured demons in order to become stronger.
- Inuyasha's sword, Tessaiga, is also capable of absorbing the aura of a powerful demon by devouring its blood as explained when Inuyasha would obtain the barrier shattering form of the sword.
- In Blood+, the chiropteran queens and chevaliers can take on the appearances of people whose blood they've drank.
- Taken to more literal extremes in Betterman, where the seeds Betterman devours to take on his monstrous superpowered forms are grown out of dead bodies.
- Touched upon lightly in Spice and Wolf. To trigger her transformation from Cute Monster Girl to Canis Major, Holo has to either eat fresh wheat grains or human blood. She prefers the wheat option but if she has to use the blood the amount needed is nowhere near lethal.
- Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- has Clone Syaoran eating Fai's eye to gain the latter's magical powers.
- Guyver: Aptom of the Lost Numbers makes his first appearance as a humble Voluntary any-Shape shifter, who takes on the Guyver alongside his True Companions. After the Guyver kills his two best friends, he's taken back to the lab and experimented on until he gains the power to physically merge with and assimilate other Zoanoids.
- The only way immortals of Baccano!! can die is by absorbing one another by placing the right hand on the subject's head, which also transfers their memories and knowledge. Although the victim is not ingested, the process is referred to in-series as "eating" or "devouring", and some fans have used the term "alchemical cannibalism" to describe it. One alchemist developed a weaker elixir that would make people just immortal enough to be vulnerable to his "cannibalism", but unable to eat anyone themselves.
- The aptly named Gourmet in YuYu Hakusho has this as his power, although it eventually backfires when he eats an immortal who pulls From a Single Cell and takes over his body.
- Deadman Wonderland has Mockingbird, who copies other people's abilities by consuming some of their blood. Preferably. It doesn't have to be blood, but even he finds living up to this trope a little icky. Not that it stops him.
- In Tokkô the Phantom hunting siblings Itto and Mayu can gain the powers of phantoms by eating them after they kill them.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Pride can absorb abilities/knowledge from those he "eats." He demonstrates this first with his "brother" Gluttony and later uses it with Kimblee and the gold-toothed doctor. However this is a double sided blade as he also gains their negative attributes like Gluttony's bottomless hunger and Kimblee's individual personality.
- They're not eaten in the conventional sense of the word, but most Digimon in Digimon Tamers get stronger by "absorbing the data" of other Digimon they kill. (Digimon with human partners are unique in that they can grow in power without doing this.)
- In Ratman, Unchained became stronger by eating various animals and absorbing their strength and instincts. He also wanted to eat Ratman for this very reason. This backfires spectacularly: Unchained is unable to consume Ratman's S-genes and only succeeds in awakening Ratman's berserker side. The berserk Ratman is so horrifying that the "Fight or Flight" instincts of the animals Unchained ate within him switch to "Flight" mode and he is paralyzed with fear.
- Kurama from Kamisama Kiss tries to usurp the newly turned Land God Nanami's power by eating her heart. Emphasis on tries to since Nanami's bodyguard and familiar, Tomoe, puts a stop to that idea real quick.
- The Chimera Ants in Hunter × Hunter are an entire species of this, though their process is a bit slower and a lot more complicated in that only the Queen has this power, technically, but passes any physical traits and abilities of those she's eaten to her offspring, seemingly at random. The Chimera Ants become a terrible threat, however, as one group managed to capture humans for their Queen, gained their intelligence, and use it to assimilate nearly every living thing around them. It takes a nuclear explosion to kill the King, their top combatant—and not from the force of the explosion itself, but from irradiation from the fallout.
- The King possessed the even more broken ability to increase his own Nen by devouring Nen users. It's for this reason that Nen users are the only food he likes.
- In Animal Land, Chimeras gain animal attributes and become stronger via this.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Fraulein Kreutune, who has an Adaptive Ability, eventually gains the ability to acquire the powers and memories of who she eats. Despite suffering from Horror Hunger, she's a good guy and desperately tries to avoid eating people. Fortunately, Touma cures her hunger.
- In Tokyo Ghoul, some Ghouls are noted to engage in cannibalism because of legends that it increases their power. These rare Ghouls are mutated through their serial cannibalism, developing into a Kakuja and often going insane in the process. The infamous One-Eyed Owl and Yamori are both serial cannibals that achieved this power, while Yoshimura and Arata both managed to harness their power for less horrific purposes. Unfortunatrly, Kaneki begins engaging in cannibalism in hopes of gaining power and discovers firsthand the horrifying toll the Kakuja takes on a Ghoul's mind.
- In Attack on Titan, this is speculated to have something to do with why Titans devour humans. Cannibalism is the preferred method to transfer the power of the Nine Titans from one host to another. When a Titan consumes the current vessel, their powers and memories are inherited to create a new vessel. This normally involves a ritual where the current vessel is Chained to a Rock and their successor eats them as a mindless Titan.
- In Re:Monster, Goburou gains permanent access to the abilities he obtains after consuming the bodies of other living things or objects, and can even make them stronger over time by eating multiples of the same thing.
- The apes in Princess Mononoke believe that if they eat Ashitaka's corpse they will steal his strength. San wouldn't let them though.
- In One Piece, Charlotte Linlin, AKA "Big Mom" of the Four Emperors, gained the power of her Soul Soul Fruit after her caretaker, Mother Caramel, "disappeared" on Linlin's sixth birthday. What makes it this trope is that Mother Caramel was earlier shown to already have that power and it's heavily implied that Caramel was eaten by Linlin. This implies that a Devil Fruit's power can be gained by eating someone who has already eaten that particular Devil Fruit.
- In Marvel Zombies, some of the super-zombies eat Galactus - and gain the Power Cosmic and the ability to travel to other planets in order to eat their inhabitants. By the time they hit the Skrull Homeworld they learn how to absorb entire planets in Black Panther.
- Everyman, initially from the 52 series at DC Comics, can assume the shape of any being he's consumed a sample of. Since Lex Luthor was the one approving the power he got, giving "eats people" to a guy named Hannibal was probably deliberate.
- This is the entire premise of the Image Comics title Chew: the main character is a police officer who gets psychic impressions from everything he tastes. Everything. His boss thinks it's hilarious sending him to lick blood off a crime scene floor, nibble on a corpse, or even take a bite of some "whatsit" left in a bank vault.
- While main character, being a normal guy, usually eats only a litle bit of a person to get his memories (although he did get skills of several baseball players, after certain lunatic force fed him their corpses), Vampire, that has similar abilities, actively hunts down and eats people to get their superpowers.
- In the Savage Sword of Conan comics, Conan encountered a Cannibal Tribe who believe they can become invincible for a short time by "eating the moon", which they accomplish by devouring the flesh of a Human Sacrifice bathed in moonlight. They're absolutely correct, though their invulnerability may be powered by belief. Conan releases a cloud of smoke from a special pellet, which completely obscures the night sky and the full moon, and makes the cannibals believe he has "slain" the moon with magic. The doubt he instills removes their invulnerability, and Conan and his comrades are able to fight their way free.
- The Saurians in Sigil (and the one who appears in Negation) take on beneficial attributes of whatever creatures they eat, including physical and mental traits and information. Having long ago become the apex predators of their homeworlds, this power was forgotten and rediscovered when they went to war with humans and decided not to waste the corpses of their fallen foes.
- In one Alien vs. Predator mini-series, the Big Bad of the piece has survived for centuries by consuming dead Predators. He also makes mention of an ancient warlord who, apparently, lived for two-hundred years by consuming a Predator's heart.
- Naruto fanfic A Growing Affection has a Blood Drinker demon. He claims to be the source of the legends of vampires. He can suck a person's blood and store it in his body, gaining a measure of the person's chakra and the ability to use their jutsu and Kekkei Genkai.
- In the Pony POV Series, this turns out to be the reason Discord is so powerful — he ate his brother Destruction and their Father Havoc's Avatar, absorbing their power into himself.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction Jericho, Jericho states that demons can gain the ability to speak your language by ripping out your tongue while you're alive and eating it then and there. When Jericho and his two companions meet and confront the Devil's Backbone, said demon notes having eaten tongues to gain his understand of Equestrian. We then get to see a live demonstration when the Devil's Backbone summons forth C, a skinwalker—which is basically a horrifying monster who is entirely composed of Body Horror. C rips the Backbone's tongue out of his mouth, eats it, states, "I have great hunger", and proceeds to rip and tear apart and wholly eat the still-screaming Devil's Backbone.
- When C appears later, his speech mannerisms have changed. When asked why this was, C casually explains that this was because he ate the tongues of several Equestrians, thus gaining a far better command and grasp of the language.
- At some point, Jericho notes that he and the ponies of his country actually eat the flesh of sentient demons for symbolic reasons of power and dominance... and because sentient demon's flesh is high in nutrients.
- Jeepers Creepers has The Creeper, who has eaten so many hearts that he has become Nigh Invulnerable.
- Hannibal Lecter invokes this to Will; "Such a brave boy. I think I'll eat your heart...".
- The Puppet Master II used this in one instance as humor the guy somehow got the voice of a boar ... not sure about the rest of the franchise.
- The entire point of Ravenous. Cannibalism can heal you from otherwise fatal wounds and makes you become stronger. The downside is that it's extremely addictive.
- In District 9, there is a gang leader who eats the dead bodies of prawns to gain their powers. It doesn't show any sign of working, though not for lack of trying.
- In Godzilla 2000, Orga attempts this on Godzilla, when he bites the Big G himself, absorbs some of his powers, before he tries to swallow Godzilla whole. It doesn't end well for him.
- Wreck-It Ralph features the Cy-Bugs, giant mechanical insects from the shooter game Hero's Duty that 'become what they eat'. This is demonstrated by one eating Ralph's gun and gaining arm-cannons as a result. This later backfires on the Cy-Bugs when they invade the game Sugar Rush and start devouring the candy environment. It makes their incredibly powerful metal exoskeleton turn into a far more brittle candy armor, allowing Ralph to finally go toe to toe with them. Big Bad King Candy/Turbo accidentally gets eaten by a Cy-Bug too, but interestingly he seems to assimilate the Cy-Bug instead of the other way around, going One-Winged Angel. It's not clear whether this is because he's become virus-like nature or he really did die and the Cy-Bug simply assimilated his memories and personality.
- In Split Second, cop Dick Durkin theorizes that the killer is a demon sent from Hell who eats the hearts of his victims to gain their strength, DNA, and their souls.
- In Hansel and Gretel (2013), Lillith claims to gain her youth from consuming children. In the sequel, Hansel vs. Gretel, Gretel gains the powers of the witches by eating them.
- In Human Nature, one of the members of the Family is a shape-shifter who can imitate any animal he's eaten part of, including humans. If he does it while they're alive, he can also gain their memories.
- The H.P. Lovecraft story The Picture in the House:
"They say meat makes blood an' flesh, an' gives ye new life, so I wondered ef 'twudn't make a man live longer an' longer ef 'twas more the same - "
- The Wild Cards novel Down and Dirty brings us Deadhead, an insane Ace who can access the memories of the dead by eating their flesh. The memories are vague unless he actually eats their brain, but they're strong enough that he no longer eats animal meat.
- Ghouls in The Throne Of Bones have this ability, and consider it hilarious when one of their own number gets temporarily overwhelmed by absorbed memories, thinks it's human, and freaks out to find itself in a graveyard full of monsters.
- In Animorphs, Visser Three's twin and rival, Esplin 9466-secondary, manages to survive without Kandrona rays by finding Controllers, killing their hosts and eating the Yeerks out of their brain. Even knowing his brother, the Animorphs were horrified.
- In Joe Abercrombie's The First Law trilogy. the Eaters gained magical power (such as shape-shifting) by eating human flesh, and breaking the Second Law.
- In The Runelords series, the Reavers gain the attributes of whatever they eat. They can even gain knowledge by eating brains, allowing them to hand down racial memories by eating their dead. If a human eats a Reaver brain, they will also gain this knowledge.
- In the Gor series a standard practice for sleen or larl hunters is to eat the heart while it's still warm from its blood, for good luck. An additional thing with a sleen is to drink a cupped-handful of its blood, then take another handful and look in it to see a reflection of how you will die - of old age, in battle, or wasted away by disease.
- Labyrinths of Echo has a superstition among the wizards of Uguland that eating someone more powerful improves magical power, and drinking blood lends a portion temporary, but this isn't really proven — especially as even when one manages to win a fight with a more powerful mage, there's usually no nearby buildings left, let alone body in any shape to eat. One Mad Artist got less than useful sort of power by eating hearts of humans with one unusual magical trait, but he had to develop at least two magical rituals to make it happen. What works is drinking someone's blood to confuse magic of searching or appraising power for a few hours, though very experienced opponents may still see through it.
- D'vouran and later Eppon in Galaxy of Fear, respectively from Eaten Alive and Army of Terror, were both made stronger by each person they ate. Eppon actually grew older looking and then turned into a large monster. Later, in The Hunger, it's mentioned with the Children, who say that eating flesh brings strength - but as Zak notices, they're so malnourished that any protein is a boon.
- The Big Bad in Reserved for the Cat is a shapeshifting troll that can and has eaten many people, which then allows her to take on the form of the person and access their knowledge. She can also take on the forms of animals, though it isn't stated if she had to eat them as well.
- Zombies in Warm Bodies eat their victims brains to relive their memories.
- Professor Mmaa's Lecture: In the termite civilization, eating other termites' "associative substance" (brain) is the common way of transferring memories and knowledge. Of course, it's done after the donor's natural death.
- In Madeline Ashby's vN Portia's clade can download software from other Von Neumann Machines that they eat parts of. Amy gets her grandmother's entire consciousness in her head after eating her, and after accidentally biting off Javier's thumb she gains his Le Parkour and photosynthesis abilities.
- In The Vampire Chronicles, some witches can absorb part of another human's essence by eating the brain. Additionally, in The Queen of the Damned, this is how Mekare becomes the new vampire queen after killing Akasha. This is justified in-story, since the heart and the brain are where the evil spirit Amel is concentrated.
Live Action TV
- The X-Files had people who ate other people sometimes because they it expanded their life through some supernatural or other agency. There was a weakness in it. Their founder always warned them against 'turning on each other', which eventually happened. One of them developed kuru.
- Averted in Heroes, where Sylar acquires other people's superpowers by slicing their head open and studying their brain. When asked if he eats the brains, he says "that's disgusting". The reason this trope being averted is noteworthy comes from the longstanding fandom joke/Fanon that he did gain people's superpowers by eating their brains, which was eventually Jossed because the writers (who had considered it) thought it was too silly.
- This was the premise of the Fear Itself episode "Eater".
- iZombie: Liv finds that eating brains keeps her from going "full-on zombie" (ie, mindless and violent) and gives her flashes of the dead person's memories as well as aspects of their personality. In the pilot, she gains the ability to speak Romanian and becomes a klepto after eating the brain of a kleptomaniac Romanian call girl. In the second episode, she eats the brains of a famous painter and gains his talent for painting as well as his passion for life in general. Usually, the abilities and quirks fade after about a day. They also fade to be replaced by new ones after eating another person's brain. The abilities can be of a darker nature, such as when Liv unknowingly eats the brain of a sociopathic hitman. She immediately starts acting like an emotionless person full of random factual information and one of her first instincts upon finding a friend who has permanently gone full-on zombie is to kill her. In a later episode, she gains Hollywood Hacking and MMORPG skills, as well as intense agoraphobia and love for donuts, from an internet troll.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Kroot, a race of a avian humanoids used as auxiliaries by the Tau Empire, have the innate ability to absorb the DNA of any creature they eat. For example, Kroot who feed upon Dark Eldar pirates become lean, agile and malicious, while those who prey upon Orks quickly develop green skin, heavy jaws and big muscles - in fact, the Kroot only developed space flight after absorbing the Genetic Memory of some Ork Mekboyz who attacked their homeworld of Pech. In a Deconstruction of this trope, Kroot who eat too much of a certain food get stuck in an evolutionary dead-end, and every evolutionary niche on Pech is filled by some Kroot-form, such as Kroot Hounds or lumbering Krootox. The Shapers who lead the various Kroot Kindreds have also learned not to let their people feed upon Genestealers' victims or anything tainted by Chaos.
- The Tyranids make extensive use of this as part of their Evil Evolves theme. The Hive Fleets are constantly analyzing the DNA of species they consume and incorporating useful bits into the next generation of Tyranids, and you can see this in certain units: the stooped, knuckle-walking Biovores have a certain resemblance to Orks, and the frail but psychically-powerful Zoanthropes are certainly based on Eldar DNA. Now some Imperial sages have suggested that Tyrant Guard, with their thick armor plating, must be based upon Space Marine DNA, but this is of course heresy.
- Speaking of Space Marines, it's often overlooked, but among their Bio-Augmentation is the Omophagea implant, which allows them to learn memories from a foe they've eaten. This undoubtedly contributes to rumors that certain chapters practice cannibalism, which may or many not be accurate depending on how savage a background said chapter comes from.
- Dungeons & Dragons
If a maurezhi kills and eats a victim, it gets the deader's memories and experiences. Xanxaost has seen hezrou general beat and imprison their baatezu enemies and then stand aside and let a maurezhi go to work. This sometimes gets them secret plans for the Blood War. This usually gets them lots of stupid things the baatezu have in their heads.
- An aboleth retains memories of every eaten victim—as well as those of its mother, meaning that they remember the entire history of their species. Some shapeshifters. Mongrelmen may have their offspring growing some body parts of the devoured creature, like an odd horn or antenna.
- The earliest D&D example is the brain collector, an Expert D&D monster which acquired spellcasting powers by consuming the brains of spellcasters. The Hivebrood hivemind, another CD&D monster, could do the same thing for any class ability, and also share these acquired powers with other members of its Hive.
- In 3rd Edition, mind flayers could potentially remember some piece of information from a recently eaten victim's brain (Usually a minor bonus to skill checks, but sometimes a feat or weapon skill) They didn't always, and the retention was only for a few hours, but it was possible. Illithid Savants specialized in this, retaining skills of devoured victims permanently.
- In both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, there is the heinous crime of Diablerie, wherein you can boost your Generation/Blood Potency (and thus your power in general) by devouring the blood and soul of another vampire. The downside is, it leaves inky black stains on your soul (which others can read like a book), and you can expect a quick and brutal Final Death if you're caught. Plus, some powerful vampires may remain conscious through the process and later devour the Diablerist's soul from the inside.
- Vampire: The Requiem introduces the bloated Macellarius bloodline, fittingly nicknamed "The Gluttons" due to their universal belief that a gut is still considered high class. Oh, and they also eat people. Hailing from ancient hedonistic Rome, these vampires are master gourmands, doing anything for a fine taste, even with the knowledge that they'll have to throw it up later by proxy of being a vampire (they enjoy the vomiting, though, since it means they can taste it one more time). Naturally, they have an intense love for human flesh, and can suck vitae out from it, and their unique bloodline discipline, Gustus, entirely revolves around eating raw meat, from storing consumed chunks in their bodies to be converted to vitae to vomiting acidic blood to being able to steal stats from their victim.
- Lunar Exalted are capable of assuming the appearance (and a few abilities) of animals by consuming their hearts after a ritualized hunt. With the right powers, they can extend this ability to humans, other Exalted, and gods, demons, ghosts and raksha. They can also acquire powers to decrease how much of a being they need to eat, and give others the ability to assume their appearance by consuming some of their blood.
- Having the Regeneration power in Underground requires a character to subsist on a cannibal diet. As the game's setting is such a Crapsack World as to contain cannibal fast food joints, this is Played for Laughs.
- Magic: The Gathering has the Mimeoplasm, which eats (exiles) two creatures in graveyards, making it a copy of one with +1/+1 counters equal to the other's power.
- There's also Experiment Kraj, who upon waking stole every cytoplast on the plane, which killed and mutilated anyone who used Simic brand bioaugmentation products. His card implies this also gave him the powers of whoever he mutilated.
- Similar to the Hivebrood hivemind above, the original hive of Slivers had a queen that could create new strains of Slivers by consuming strange new creatures and then birthing new Slivers with those creatures' powers. Whenever Slivers are within an unspecified range of one another, they each gain each others' abilities.
- Hunter: The Vigil gives us the Faithful of Shulpae, a small cult that aims to track down and eat supernatural beings (with a particular taste for mummies) in order to temporarily gain their powers. They do this because they believe supernatural creatures are closer to the divine than they are, and by eating their flesh, they can experience a special relationship with the gods.
- The Jotun of Bleak World believe that eating enough humans will open a gate to their homeworld, which was taken from them by elves.
- Dragon: The Embers:
- This is how Oroboroi reproduce; since they lost the ability to procreate the natural way a long time ago, they instead create new dragons by feeding their Heart to a human whenever they feel like they have lived long enough. This results in the Heart's owner dying and the human becoming a new dragon.
- Also, there are dragons called Devourers, who like to feed on other dragons' Hearts. Much like the vampires' Diaberie, it's reviled by Oroboros society (even more so, in fact, since they are a Dying Race and Hearts are not a renewable ressource) and comes with very nasty side effects...
- Kirby, in a practical approach to Power Copying. He's so cute, most people haven't even considered the fact that his abilities and behavior are about what you might expect from a baby Eldritch Abomination. This is likely because Kirby doesn't digest the creatures he eats in the same way as most creatures. Instead, it seems that he converts the creatures he eats into stars that he can spit out as projectiles or absorb for their powers. It even seems as though he can reverse the process and spit them as they were, losing whatever power he had.
- Digital Devil Saga has this as the theme of the game. You gain Atma by devouring your enemies, which is spent on gaining Mantras that give you new powers. Hunt-class powers grant you extra Atma, explicitly because they allow you to eat your foes more efficiently. These powers have names like "Devour" and "Feed Frenzy".
- Dragon's Wake is an 2-D indie platformer where the player character (who is a dragon) must eat the bodies of his enemies in order to heal or even increase his own abilities.
- Genesis Rising, a little-known RTS, has the player building ORGANIC STARSHIPS that can acquire abilities by feeding off enemy organic starships that have been beaten to a pulp. If by chance you "kill" the enemy ship, you can still consume it but you won't gain any abilities. Talk about extreme recycling ... IN SPACE!
- Homeworld Cataclysm has a faction devoted to consuming ships (and their occupants) to achieve that kind of goal.
- Onmyōji: Gaki has a skill which gives her a chance of swallowing an enemy whole, dealing damage to them, taking their buffs and making them lose a turn (because they're in her stomach, duh). She will then regurgitate the victim back if they haven't died from this attack already. The best part? This skill completely ignores Seimei's damage-stopping Deflector Shield.
- [PROTOTYPE], devouring people can give you access to their abilities, memories, and skills—so you learn how to fly a combat helicopter by eating a pilot, learn how to effectively use military weapons by eating Drill Sergeants, and unravel the Government Conspiracy by eating the brains of anyone with even a TANGENTIAL relation to it.
- The sequel takes it a step further; Heller gains new viral abilities by consuming other Evolved who already possess those powers.
- Paxton Fettel from the FEAR franchise. It may or may not allow him to read his victims' memories (he certainly can either way).
- In Nethack, eating certain corpses could give you superpowers, stat buffs, or kill you horribly.
- In Deadly Creatures, this is how the scorpion and the tarantula acquire new environmental skills — by biting off the heads of creatures that have the skills they need. The tarantula eats a black widow and a lizard to gain the ability to web-jump and climb upside down, respectively, while the scorpion eats another scorpion and a mantis to learn how to dig and cut through grass.
- In Metroid, Ridley's near-immortality is Hand Waved by him devouring enemy corpses for biomass. He's not hesitant to rub the fact in an orphaned Samus's face.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, if the player eats President Kimball, Caesar, Mr. House and The King, they get a perk known as "Meat of Champions" that gives you their "power" (Kimball's Strength, Caesar's Intelligence, House's Luck and The King's Charisma) whenever you eat humans.
- Touhou has a few examples:
- In Imperishable Night, several of the youkai in the player teams suggest to their human counterparts that they eat the immortal Mokou Fujiwara's guts/liver, saying that a human eating an immortal's guts would grant them immortality as well. Yuyuko, on the other hand, considers eating Mokou's guts herself despite being a ghost, just because she thinks it'd be tasty.
- Utsuho Reiuji, a corpse-eating hell raven youkai first encountered in Subterranean Animism gained her power over nuclear fusion by swallowing the body of a yatagarasu (a divine crow with powers of the sun). In Reimu and Suika's encounter with her, Utsuho expresses a strong desire to eat Reimu as well.
- The first three SaGa games (aka Final Fantasy Legend I, II, and III), have the Monster race. They have set skills and stats, but can change into another monster by eating Meat dropped in battle.
- Yoshi gets this with Koopa shells, a lot — though downplayed as the power only lasts as long as the shell's in his mouth. Red ones grant him the ability to breathe fire, blue ones grant him flight, yellow ones let him make small earthquakes when he lands, and flashing shells grant all three of the above. If Yoshi is red, blue, or yellow, any Koopa shell will grant the power associated with that color — in addition to the shell's power, if applicable.
- Quina, the Blue Mage from Final Fantasy IX learned new spells by eating monsters that could cast them.
- Final Fantasy VIII featured the late game Devour ability, allowing you to eat a weakened monster for a permanent one point increase to your various statistics, including health. Amusingly, you can use this ability on Rinoa in one battle, although it will result in an immediate Non Standard Game Over.
- The Rataka in Knights of the Old Republic believe this to be true for their species, eating the dead warriors of tribes they conquer. The tribe that still practices it even ask the player to kill a group of Mandalorians and bring back the leader's head as a meal for their war-leader.
- In Kid Icarus: Uprising, The more enemies a Guttler eats, the stronger and larger it grows.
- Kha'Zix, a champion in League of Legends, is a monster from the Void whose sole drive is to eat powerful creatures to gain their strength. The only creature it currently sees as a match for itself is Rengar, the ultimate hunter he once fought to a draw.
- Aeon Calcos, aka the Lizardman has this as of SoulCalibur V. Bestowed new powers by Ares, he can regain reason and intelligence by devouring others. This is evidenced by the use of his real name.
- In Party Of Sin, Gluttony can replenish lost health by eating a non-boss enemy, though it takes a few seconds until the mook gets fully digested, before which it can be spat back out.
- In StarCraft one of the ways the Zerg evolve is by consuming other life-forms and absorbing their DNA, as shown in this video.
- In The Visitor, an online (and highly graphic) game series, the titular "visitor" is an alien parasite that can absorb the special abilities of any animal it devours from the inside out. If it eats a spider, it gains the ability to shoot webs; if it eats a dog, it gains a row of vicious teeth for biting, etc.
- In Dawn of the Dragons, the player character reminisces on a conversation with fellow adventurer Roland over a plate of bacon. Roland claimed that pork is a crucial part of any adventurer's diet for this reason. The pig's cunning and intelligence is transferred to the person who ate it. The player character then wonders if this explains why kobolds are as dumb as mushrooms and why Medea eats so many bitter herbs.
- The mecha equivalent of this is seen in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars and the Nod Avatar walker. It's special ability is that it can rip the weapons out of certain other Nod vehicles and use them. Normally, it's your own units, but if your opponent is playing Nod too you can use theirs.
- And the tank equivalent is in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 with the basic Hammer Tank on the Soviet side. By using it's leech beam weapon, it can steal health from opposing tanks and structures, and if the target dies whilst being hit with the beam it'll steal its' weapon note . Most tank weapons can be stolen this way, including stuff like the Athena uplink, Wave Motion Artillery cannon or the Bullfrogs' AA gun
- The unreleased coin-op arcade game Chimera Beast is a Horizontal Scrolling Shooter in which the player plays one of a new race of lifeforms called "Eaters", which have appeared at the bottom of the food chain with the express goal of chewing their way up it by assimilating the strengths of everything it can kill and consume. The final stages have the Eaters attacking the human race, and either dying with the world they have consumed or escaping to devour the universe.
- In Gems of War, zombies seem to work like this; their special attack is Eat Brains, which not only heals them but increases a random skill (suggesting that they've absorbed something from the brains' owners).
- Dark Souls III: Aldrich was a human cleric who discovered one day that when he ate other people, he gained their power. He proceeded to eat so many people that he became a sludge-worm-monster thing, that nonetheless wielded tremendous magical power and had to be thrown into the First Flame itself to be destroyed (with the neat side effect of prolonging the Age of Fire). In this game, he's been resurrected, and has decided to expand his power further by eating the gods themselves.
- In the (Very NSFW) Chocolate Milkmaid, the title character has this, which is what results in her becoming Chocolate Milkmaid in the first place. The flashback showing when she was told about this ability makes it clear that she was suitably squicked by the implications. Fortunately for her, it turns out that body fluids work just as well.
- Sevink from Geist Panik is a wendigo, meaning he can die once for every person he eats (dead or alive) and continue living. It helps that he's a Blood Knight, which allows him to fight through the pain of constantly dying and grants him access to plenty of dead people. Oh, and he's one of the good guys.
- Bob of Captain SNES: The Game Masta is a rare (probably) heroic version. To his credit, the first time his ability is revealed, he states that he dislikes using it.
- Vampires in Charby the Vampirate can gain powers and strength by eating older and more powerful vampires.
- Exterminatus Now has Team Pet, Chao they eventually called Blasphemy. Chao!
- Butch in Chopping Block is intermittently convinced he has this, although it's been repeatedly proven that he doesn't actually gain anything from killing people.
- Irregular Webcomic! discussed the self-defeating side of this:
Ponsonby: Why do you want to eat them anyway?
Native: So we gain their abilities!
Ponsonby: What, the ability to be captured and eaten by a bunch of primitives with inferior weapons?
Annotation: The idea of gaining the powers and abilities of a deceased person by consuming their bodies is one of the more widespread reasons for cannibalism in various cultures around the world.
Annotation: Do not let players in your roleplaying games think of this.
- In Blessings it seems that this is one of the attributes of The Gourmand. If they should nibble on someone with a healing blessing, they get healed in turn. No indication for how long it lasts.
- The story Abundance in The Wanderer's Library is centered around a character who possesses a more literal version of this ability.
- Carmilla of the Whateley Universe absorbs all the knowledge of the people and things she eats. Since she's a baby Great Old One, she's probably eating their souls too.
- Mokou gained her fire powers this way in Touhou: a Glimmer of an Outside World: she turned a phoenix into yakitori and ate it.
- In an odd example where the superpower is a political one, in Dragon Ball Abridged the Namekian Grand Elder is apparently whoever devours the old Grand Elder.
Bulma: Seems legit.
- From Cerberus Daily News, we have "Devour The Hearts Of NKaria's Adversaries So That You May Take Their Power For Yourself", a side-scrolling platformer from NKaria. Distribution is banned in at least one of the setting's nations due to extreme gore, subversive religious themes, and depictions of intense violence.
- Futurama, after a computer scan finds a "rectangular mass" in Hermes's colon:
Hermes: It's a calculator. I ate it to gain its power.
- When Fry and Bender signed up for the army in "War is the H Word," Professor Farnsworth told Fry to eat the hearts of whoever he killed to gain their courage.
- In W.I.T.C.H., Cedric doublecrosses Phobos and eats him whole. In the process, he ends up gaining the powers of the Seal of Nerissa. Thankfully, he suffers from a major case of How Do I Shot Web?.
- The only thing Marceline of Adventure Time inherited from her demon father, aside from grey skin and pointy ears, is the ability to devour souls, which in specific cases such as vampires gives her any special powers that soul had.
- The Zombie Pumpkin Magisword from Mighty Magiswords gets different abilities from eating different types of pumpkins. For example, eating the seed of a giant pumpkin makes the Zombie Pumpkin Magisword grow gigantic.
- There are beliefs such as eating your foe will give you his strength or courage. In fact, the word originally meant "strong man" and was used by tribes that believed this.
- There is a statue in Tarabuco, Bolivia commemorating a victory of the native Quechua people over their Spanish conquerors. The statue shows a Quechua with an Axe-Crazy face standing over his defeated Spanish foe. The Spaniard has a gaping hole in his chest and the Quechua is eating his heart. Keep in mind this is a statue...fully painted...in the town square...and was built by the Quechua...recently...as in the past 10 years.
- The Iroquois were known for doing this with their more respected (read: worthy of being absorbed) prisoners of war.
- In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Tanzania, one of the various reasons for the persecution of albinos is the belief that eating their flesh will confer superpowers to the eater (which inspired the District 9 example, above).
- Certain kinds of hydras, a simple aquatic lifeform related to jellyfish, have stinging cells powerful enough to stun small fish. When a flatworm eats a hydra, it assimilates stinging caps without discharging or digesting them, but incorporates them as is. Predators who target these flatworms meet with a nasty, stinging surprise, dissuading further predation attempts. This approach saw a lot of use for stinging cnidarians from hydra to jellyfish and a variety of eaters up to slugs adding more "zap" to their skin or transferring kleptocnidae into their tentacles to use more offensively.
- A species of sea slug also exists that gains the ability to photosynthesize from the algae it eats.
- A lot of insects are able to make themselves poisonous by eating poisonous plants. The poison doesn't harm them and sticks around in their body for a while without being broken down, making them either taste horrible or be downright toxic to anything that decides they would be a good meal.
- An article from many decades ago called "Kill Them and Eat Them" suggested that was the way to deal with alien visitors. The killing part was presented as very rational: their very presence will disrupt our society and if they report back to their people then they will invade us. Sounded extreme but sensible. So why eat them? "To gain their power."
- Poison dart frogs become so poisonous by eating stinging ants and other venomous insects. As a result, frogs bred in captivity and kept on different diets from their wild counterparts are much less dangerous.