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Anime & Manga
- Played with in Fullmetal Alchemist. Though Al does lose his head every now and then, his soul is bound to the chestpiece of the armor. As a result, he can control his body and even see without his helmet.
- Celty the Dullahan from Durarara!! traveled all the way from England to Japan in search of her head. It's her body that is fully sentient, whereas her head is in a deep sleep.
- One Piece:
- In the Punk Hazard arc, the samurai Kin'emon's head is separated from the rest of his body — not only that, but his head is cut into pieces, too (which leads into a brief hilarity when the Straw Hats try to put it together like a puzzle). It's revealed later that it's Trafalgar Law's doing.
- Law himself, with his Devil Fruit power, can disassemble other people's body parts non-fatally. The first time we see him using his power, he detaches a Marine officer's head and replaces it with a cannonball that is about to hit him — not long after, said head screams in agony as his body gets burned, without any concern to his, well, neck.
- In Daily Life with Monster Girl, Lala the Dullahan is introduced by having the protagonist help her track down her detachable head.
- On one occasion in Master of Kung-Fu, the evil robot Brynocki finds himself chasing after his head after it is knocked loose.
Films — Animation
- Princess Mononoke plays this for horror with the Forest Spirit, whose body turns into an enormous Eldritch Abomination draining life from nearly everything in sight, seeking reunion with its severed head, which can still move.
- Daffy Duck has his head detached while Mother is demonstrating the laser beam function of DJ's spy phone in Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Daffy's body starts feeling around the lab floor for its missing head. "No, no, stupid, over here."
- In Robots, Fender's head falls off because he's lost the bolt that keeps it in place. He tries to pick it up but keeps accidentally kicking it away.
- In the Sugar Rush Speedway game in Wreck-It Ralph, some of Taffyta's fans are anthropomorphic lollipops, and when Ralph accidentally trashes the stands, part of the damage he does is to knock off the head of one such fan, which goes rolling along the ground whilst the body frantically chases it.
Films — Live-Action
- In Hocus Pocus, Billy's head gets lost and he spends a few seconds to find it again.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, one of Davy Jones' henchmen loses his head. The body then stumbles about trying to find the head while the head tries in vain to give it directions. Eventually he gets tired of waiting and turns into a hermit crab to move on his own.
- In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the King of The Moon's head prefers to stay off its body, which fills it with animalistic urges. There is a scene with the body chasing after the flying head.
- In Attack of the Clones, C3PO loses his head (which is attached to a battle droid body) and gets himself a battle droid head instead. Both parts of C3PO then travel to the Geonosis Arena with the battle droids, where R2 and a Jedi help reassemble C3PO.
- The Headless Horseman in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow.
- Use to incredibly creepy effect in Return to Oz with Mombi, a sorceress with mix-and-match heads, one of which catches Dorothy stealing from her. The head starts screaming, as does every other head Mombi keeps on display, as her headless body pursues Dorothy.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has the Headless Haunt, a performance troupe/social club of headless ghosts who deliberately invoke this trope for comedy purposes, performing tricks such as head-juggling with their severed heads. Nearly-Headless Nick is very resentful that they won't let him in due to his partially-attached head.
- In the TV miniseries Kingdom Hospital, a decapitated ghost whose body had its head severed in a morgue prank wanders around the netherworldly "Old Kingdom," fumbling blindly for its missing part. While Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At?" plays on the soundtrack.
- The Young Ones:
- Two headless ghosts wander through the lads' apartment having an argument. Both drop their heads, and their bodies grope around for anything spherical (a goldfish bowl, a grapefruit) that they can tuck under their arms. Later, the two reappear arguing about which head the body with the nicer bottom belongs to.
- Vyvyan gets his head knocked off by looking out of a train window. His body is directed by his head to pick it up, but the body keeps kicking it along instead.
- Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "Chopper." The skull and body of a dead man are separated. The man's ghost animates his dead body as a Headless Horseman and goes on a search for his head, killing the people who murdered him along the way.
- A story arc of Dark Shadows was about the severed head of warlock Judah Zachery seeking to be reunited with its body.
- In Scrubs, some of J.D.'s Imagine Spots feature him as the "Floating Head Doctor", in which his head is floating around, separated from his body. This usually ends with J.D.'s body catastrophically screwing up the tasks that his head tells him to do.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. A construction worker finds the severed head of a Terminator and takes it home as it goes with his goth decor. Unfortunately the rest of the body comes looking for it.
- Doctor Who. In "The Pandorica Opens", Amy Pond finds a Cyberman head that still manages to be a threat thanks to Combat Tentacles. After she gets some distance...
- Red Dwarf: In "Cured", Kryten wakes up to discover that his head has been removed from his body and stuck on top of a mop handle. His head starts yelling instructions to his body which is blundering along the corridor searching for it.
Myths & Religion
- Jack, in the legend of the Jack o'Lantern. Originally it was a turnip, but he lost his head after making a deal with the devil and then double-crossing him. Neither place wants him and he uses the turnip/pumpkin as a temporary head while looking for his real one.
- Procopius of Cesarea attributed this as a demonic power to the Emperor Justinian. Granted, his Secret History was ramblings of a disgruntled employee trying to smear his superiors as much as ungodly possible, so...
- Johnny Came Home Headless by The Arrogant Worms involves the narrator's room-mate getting decapitated during a bender and failing to notice. The second verse involves him and Johnny's body trying to find it back and failing, due to Johnny being "absent-minded." The third verse inverts the trope, Johnny's head comes looking for his (now rotten) body.
- In a non-comedy example from the Ravenloft setting, Jacqueline Montarri was cursed by the Vistani to live on without her head. She murders victims to appropriate their heads, then wears them to pass for human as she scours the Land of Mists for her missing original.
- In World of Warcraft, while fighting the Headless Horseman, he loses his head, both in the Hallowe'en world event and in the actual dungeon fight. Players have to kill the boss' body, then his head, then kill the body all over again to win the fight.
- Played for laughs in a Random Encounter in LEGO Island. A civilian is walking along, then a truck goes by and knocks his head off. The head starts giving directions to the body, which is ineffectually trying to pick up the head and put it back on.
Civilian: Hey, I'm over here! To your left! Er, my left. Er, our left. (body goes left) Right. (body goes right) No, not "go right," "correct!" (body accidentally kicks head) It's not a soccer game! Use your brain! Oh, I guess that's over here. (body kicks head again) Ow! Just bend down slow and— (body kicks head high into the air, and it lands on the neck) He shoots, he scores, OW!
- In Alone in the Dark 3, at one point the player encounters a beheaded invincible zombie. To defeat him, the player must take his head, which is lying on a nearby table, and throw it to a pit so that the zombie jumps into the pit looking for his head.
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has an enemy called Yorick, which is a skeleton chasing his own head...and continually stumbling into it and kicking it like a soccer ball.
- In Disney Villains' Revenge, Alice gets her head chopped off and the player has to go into a hedge maze to retrieve it.
- Grim from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is a constant victim of this.
- On the Looney Tunes short Mouse Menace, a robot cat loses its head. It feels around for it but picks up a toaster and puts it on for a while before eventually stumbling into its own head.
- During an episode of Teen Titans, Starfire's head and body are separated when Larry messes with reality. She then has to chase it down.
- Parodied in Batman: The Animated Series when the wooden dummy Scarface's head is severed, and the Ventriloquist chases after it.
- What A Cartoon! has two instances of this.
- In Sledgehammer O'Possum: Out and About, where the antagonistic dog character gets decapitated by a tree branch. This leads to the titular O'Possum faking the body out by making it run off a cliff after its head.
- Wind-Up Wolf also does this, with the titular character getting his head knocked off by a boxing glove. This leads to the body trying to put a large rock in place of it, leading the body to drop the rock on the head, flattening it.
- Kaeloo: Happens quite frequently to Quack Quack.