Cranium Chase

This is going to take a while, folks.

Not everyone dies when their head is separated from their neck. Some of them live on, and promptly try to get their heads back on their shoulders (it may take a few tries, however).

Usually, their bodies retain their motor abilities to do so, by some supernatural or humorous means. Having the head argue with the body and trying to give it directions is optional. In these cases, the Fridge Logic that the body has no ears to hear this is rarely addressed, although in instances when the body doesn't seem to be paying attention to the head's instructions it is possible that the fact that the body doesn't have ears simply didn't occur to the decapitated character, and the body cannot hear him.

Compare Pulling Themselves Together; whereas this is a more comedic trope where only the head is detached and the body searches for it, Pulling Themselves Together refers more to a significant part of their bodies reassembling themselves.

Examples:

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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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
    • Vyvian 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.

    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...

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.

    Web Comics 
  • Rusty and Co.: Ezra the vampiress is decapitated three times by Madeline, each time putting back her head on her shoulders (though after a Staircase Tumble for the third). Then again by Cube, who counters her regeneration by putting it backwards.

    Western Animation