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Evil Hand

"You could've had it. But you didn't have what it takes. *wiggles fingers* An evil hand. I mean, come on, who here does, huh? Leon doesn't. Charlie doesn't. You do know you gave me an evil hand, right? I've been writing 'Kill, kill, kill' on everything. It's crazy. It's crazy! Anything could happen!"
Lindsey McDonald, Angel

A transplanted limb that often grants the bearer additional powers/abilities but has a mind of its own (usually, the original owner's). Almost inevitably, it will try to completely take over its new owner. Artificial Limbs (like Arm Cannons)—despite not even having an original owner—may demonstrate this property, as well, by driving the owner into an Unstoppable Rage.

May also be a Red Right Hand.

There's quite a cultural basis for this effect: As humans, we've always been fascinated superstitiously by the way our own bodies work and where our own consciousness lies. Also Truth in Television as the brain condition known as alien hand syndrome can cause people to lose control of a limb, which is caused with damage to the corpus callosum, especially through split-brain surgery, previously used to end life-threatening epileptic seizures.

A subtrope of Organ Autonomy. No connection to The Night of the Hunter. If they can be removed or otherwise remain separate entities they can be an Attack Animal or Living Weapon.

This item is available in the Trope Co. catalog.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Shinichi from the manga Parasyte wound up with a talking, shapeshifting alien symbiote hand after managing to prevent it from spreading to and consuming his brain. In a bit of a subversion, since its fate is tied to its host's survival, Migi is actually pretty cooperative and tries to look out for Shinichi's best interests, but has no concept of human empathy or standards of behavior—in response to his host's attraction to a girl in his class, it turns into a giant penis in the middle of a restaurant, and that's just not right!
  • In the first chapter/movie of Kara no Kyoukai, Shiki's artificial arm is remotely possessed by the ghost she is following and tries to choke and throw her off a balcony.
  • Inversion in the manga (and in "Season 0" of the anime) of Yu-Gi-Oh! After Yugi and his friends cut off the hand of Yami Bakura's avatar, Zorc Necrophades, in the dark tabletop game, Ryo Bakura is able to retake control of that hand in his body, resulting in an evil character with a good hand doing its own thing. Yami Bakura tries to stop it by impaling the hand on a spire of his ornately constructed game world.
  • Hell Teacher Nube's titular character lost his left hand fighting a massively destructive Oni, but was able to seal this foe as a replacement hand. Although he can usually keep the Oni under control, it will sometimes try to take over his whole body. When it and Nube finally come to terms, the Oni willingly resumes its duty as Nube's hand, but is completely self-aware and becomes prone to playing with its host (slapping women's butts, drawing on the blackboard, pulling on Nube's eye...
  • Naruto's Kabuto tried to gain Orochimaru's power by transplanting parts from one of his bodies into himself. He notes that at the start of the process the power nearly consumed him.
  • In Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Yata, the least openly talented of the main characters, only has one particular ability: channeling. However, he only seems to be able to channel one particular being— an extraterrestrial, who speaks via Yata's hand-puppet whether Yata wants him to or not. Something of a subversion in that, while he does seem to have nothing but contempt for "inferior" human life, he seems to like Yata and sometimes tries to boost his self-esteem.
  • Project AR Ms has a lot of replacement nanotech body limbs that don't necessarily do what you want, powered by the various emotions of a little girl who imprinted herself onto space rock and the main character Ryo's artificial arm is definitely self aware and not the nicest replacement of the lot basically being the little girl's hatred..
  • Not entirely 'evil', but when Claire transplants Irene's arm in Claymore it seems to have a mind of it's own until she learns to control it.
  • Kinnikuman villain Ashuraman has the power to steal the arms from dead Choujin for his own use. When he and Sunshine fight the Muscle Brothers in the Dream Tag arc, however, this backfires when one of the arms taken belongs to the late Prince Kamehame, who is firmly on the side of the good guys, even in death. Kamehame's hand chokes Ashuraman at a critical moment in the fight.

    Comicbooks 
  • In Scud The Disposable Assassin, an entire story arc was based on Scud (a robot) losing an arm and getting a human one as a loaner while he was waiting for the parts to come in. Then he discovered that the arm had belonged to a werewolf, and could take over his mind when the moon was full.
  • Claw The Unconquered, a Barbarian Hero from DC Comics, had deformed, claw-like right hand, the result of a curse which has been placed on his family that would sometimes battle with him.
    • A different version of Claw appeared in the comic Primal Force. John Chan became the Claw after buying an ancient suit of armour and sword. The Claw of Pytharia, which had been dormant in one of the gauntlets, cut off his hand with the sword and grafted itself in place. The demonic spirit of the claw increased his fighting skills, but made it difficult for him to control his anger

    Fairy Tales 
  • Older Than Radio: The Brothers Grimm give an account of three army surgeons who use the original formula to remove and replace their own hand, heart or eyes. A sad accident led to them to having them replaced with those of a hanged thief, a pig, and a cat, respectively. The man who ended up with a thief's hand found he couldn't resist stealing.

    Film 
  • An unusual variation in Battle Beyond the Stars. Big Bad Sador replaces his damaged arm with a limb from one of the Nestor clones (whom he captured and tortured to death). Not a true Evil Hand, as it is not independent, but still telepathically controlled by Nestor.
  • Dr. Strangelove from Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb is a famous example. He was able to help start a nuclear war despite the small setback of having a hand that obeyed his subconscious urges, such as punching himself in the face and giving Nazi salutes. His notoriety is such that the common name for the aforementioned real life brain condition "alien hand syndrome" is "Dr. Strangelove Syndrome".
  • Ash in Evil Dead 2 was forced to chainsaw his own hand off when it took on a life of its own. Unfortunately, it kept trying to kill him. But he found a really cool use for the stump.
  • In the original The Fly, the Professor Guinea Pig winds up with one arm replaced by a fly's appendage, and finds himself having to fight his own limb to stop it from preventing his assisted suicide.
  • The Hand (1981), which is about comic book artist (Michael Caine) who loses his hand in car accident and it starts to attack his objects of frustration.
  • Comedy Idle Hands is about a slacker whose possessed arm goes on a killing spree around a suburban neighborhood.
    • Parodied by Robot Chicken as "Idle Nuts", but the less said about that the better. Both the film and the TV show have Seth Green in them, by the way.
  • Jim Carrey is good with this trope in Me, Myself & Irene and Liar Liar.
  • The 1935 Peter Lorre film Mad Lovein which the famous pianist Orlock suffers an accident and needs to have his hands amputated. The doctor gives him the hands of a recently executed Knife Nut, the hands remember their old skills after the operation. This was actually the second of three versions of the same film, the first being The Hands of Orlac in 1924 starring Conrad Veidt and again in 1960 as The Hands of Orlac with Christopher Lee.
  • In Princess Mononoke, Ashitaka's demon-touched arm keeps trying to kill people.

    Literature 
  • In Ray Bradbury's short story "Fever Dream", a sick boy is being taken over by rogue cells, and partway through the process his hands attack the uninfected part of him.
  • In Harry Potter, when Wormtail had to cut off his hand to revive Voldemort, his service was rewarded with a replacement arm — one which unfortunately for him was booby-trapped to kill him if he ever helped Harry, since Voldemort never trusted him. The fact that, Wormtail didn't actually help Harry at all, but only hesitated to kill him for just an instant, didn't stop it from killing him Voldemort takes some tropes to a whole new level.
  • Michael Moorcock's character Corum had the "Hand of Kwll," which originally belonged to an ancient god. It acted as a Poisonous Friend, killing several people who posed a threat to Corum, but who Corum himself had no intention of killing.
  • Stephen King's short story "I Am The Doorway" (published in the collection Night Shift) was based around this trope. Although, technically, they weren't so much evil as the protagonist in a Cosmic Horror Story. We're much less likely to look upon killing mind-numbing alien terrors sympathetically when those terrors are humans, not tentacled, chitinous monstrosities.
  • In The Body Politic by Clive Barker, pretty close to all of the hands of humanity decide to cast off the chains of bodily attachment. Bloodily, of course, given this is Clive Barker.
    • And then the feet decided they wanted to play, too.
  • In the Bill the Galactic Hero series by Harry Harrison, Bill has his left arm blown off in battle and replaced with the right arm of his bunkmate Tembo. Yes, his left arm was replaced by someone's right arm, you read it right. Besides giving him the ability to do a unique two-handed salute, it sometimes acts of its own volition when its previous owner's pride or religious convictions are on the line. Of course, then there's Bill's foot which has been replaced too often to count, including with a "mood foot" which, because of his burning sexual desires, has transformed itself into a satyr's hoof.
  • In Tangled Webs one guy thought if a drow volunteers to replace his lost hand with a transplanted one, she does him a favour. Sigh.
  • In The Shattered World, Ardatha is a sorceress whose left hand has been replaced by a demonic-looking one with six fingers and scales. It turns out to be a tool of an actual demon, who's using it to exert an imperceptible influence over her mind. She only realizes this when the demon-hand is amputated in combat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in Angel: Lindsey, having (awesomely) had his hand cut off by Angel in Season 1, gained a mystical replacement with the unfortunate tendency to write "Kill kill kill" on its own due to a psychic connections to the previous owner. Other than that, though, it was pretty harmless. It turns out, that it's original owner is still alive and conscious while being slowly taken apart by demonic surgeons for organ replacements, and is begging to be be killed. Once they did what it wanted it stopped acting on its own, though that didn't stop him using it as an excuse to cause havoc in a board meeting.
  • Played for Laughs when Buffy has to wrap up a mummy hand in the Magic Shop for a customer, only to get stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop. The mummy hand drives her to despair with its failure to cooperate.
  • An episode of Amazing Stories called "Hell Toupee" contained... an evil wig.
    • Of course, that title reminds more people of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror spoof in which Homer was possessed by a hair transplant from Snake.
  • Kaoru Kino of Kamen Rider Agito had his arm replaced with that of his brother after they were both caught in a snowstorm during a mountain climbing expedition. His brother died and Kino's arm was lost to frostbite. However, it seems like the arm has a mind of its own at times... though in an inversion of the usual trope, since Kino is the one that's pretty crazy, the arm often tries to stop him doing evil things.
    • Then there's Ankh from Kamen Rider OOO who is nothing but an evil hand. He completely takes over his host due to the fact that he's dying and unconscious.
  • One episode of The Conditions of Great Detectives involved the murder victim having had brain surgery as a child and having a split personality, which controlled his left hand. Eventually the left-side got angry and tried to kill him/take over. One attempt involved the left hand strangling him.
  • In an early episode of Red Dwarf Rimmer the hologram suffered a corruption of his program which resulted in his digital right arm turning into that of catering officer Olaf Peterson, a dead member of the crew who was, in Rimmer's words, 'a Danish moron'. Peterson didn't like Rimmer in life (no one did), and his arm kept this up in death, punching Rimmer, poking him in the eyes and finishing up by hitting him with a very low blow. Rimmer ended up in the foetal position moaning 'I hate everything', just as Holly the ship's computer assured him that he had it sorted out now.
  • Parodied in the BBC series Dead Ringers, in which Michael Howard - who was leader of the Conservative Party at the time - channeled all of his evil into his left hand, which later defected to the UKIP. This forced him to cut it off, resulting in his right hand becoming evil, and subsequently defecting to the British National Party.
  • Played for laughs on an episode of The League of Gentlemen, when the uncouth, one-armed joke shop owner gets an arm transplant. It belonged to a nun, and is much nicer than he is. It even prompts him into a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • On SCTV, Dave Thomas portrayed Michael Caine in a spoof promo for My Bloody Hand, parodying the 1981 movie The Hand.
  • On the Live Episode of 30 Rock, Jon Hamm's character Dr. Drew (who has lost both hands) gets a hand transplant. In the East feed version, it's that of a black convict and it tries to strangle him. In the West feed, it's a woman's hand that tries to grope him.
  • The patient of the week in an episode of House had an arm that had a mind of its own that would act of its own accord and often without his knowledge. It threw things at people, filled his trolley with items he didn't want and liked playing air guitar.
  • Doctor Who
    • Played straight in the story "The Ark in Space", in which the Ark's commander "Noah" is taken over by and transformed into an insectoid Wirrn, beginning with his left hand. (In one of the behind-the-scenes interviews the actor recalls how excited he was by this concept, until he saw that the Wirrn hand was simply a piece of bubble wrap that was to be taped over his real hand and dyed green with washing-up liquid.)
    • Not quite fulfilling the trope, but close, is the title body part in "The Hand of Fear". It's a hand, it's evil, and it takes people over, but it isn't grafted on to anyone.

    Music 
  • The first six tracks of Heart of a Killer by Winters Bane (Ripper Owens' pre-fame band) tell the story of a judge who unknowingly receives a heart transplant from a man he sentenced to death. Cue possession.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons lore, the Hand of Vecna is a very powerful artifact... that eventually turns those foolish enough to use it into Vecna. Also available in Eye form.
    • And then there's the Head of Vecna - no, wait...
    • Oddly enough, while the head of Vecna is a joke, the heart of Vecna is a real thing and currently rests in the chest of a powerful lich.

    Videogames 
  • Stubbs the Zombie, titular character from Stubbs the Zombie in: Rebel Without a Pulse, can use his zombie hand to crawl in vent and even possess enemies.
  • Revolver Ocelot from Metal Gear Solid 2 lost an arm to an unfortunate ninja attack. His replacement—the arm of Liquid Snake—served him well... until he encountered Solid Snake, at which point Liquid's enraged spirit completely took over Ocelot's mind and caused him to run off with a Humongous Mecha. It seems in the sequel, the two have finally learned to coexist by merging into a single personality. Ocelot also gives a shout-out to Lyon, the site of the first traditional hand transplant, where he gained his transplant: "I never trust a Frenchman," he comments, as he uses his willpower to prevent Liquid taking over. The truth about what really happened is, of course, far more complicated
  • Nero, from Devil May Cry 4, is in possession of the Devil Bringer, a manifestation of the great power in his ancestor Sparda's demonic blood, allowing him to easily wield a sword passed down to Sparda's son, Vergil.
    • It's also implied that the arm is possessed by Vergil himself (or at least strongly connected to him, which raises all sorts of other implications), and he helps out during Nero's Devil Trigger. Notable in that Nero does not gain a Superpowered Evil Side, for after the initial awakening where Nero is clearly under the control of the Aloof Big Brother (which in of itself wasn't even that bad), Vergil seems content to lay back and enjoy the fireworks.
  • Guybrush ends up with one of these in the first episode of Tales of Monkey Island, after a botched attempt to destroy LeChuck once and for all. He eventually loses it at the start of episode two, and gets it replaced with a Hook Hand.
  • Saren from Mass Effect 1 after Sovereign gives him 'implants'.
  • Owain from Fire Emblem Awakening pretends to have this, with such voice clips as "My sword hand twtiches!", "Can't... control!" and "Down, sword hand!". All of the Kids From the Future are a little bent in this game, and this plus Owain's stated preference for Darker and Edgier heroes is his method of coping with the Zombie Apocalypse he came from.

    Web Animation 
  • The Happy Tree Friends cartoon "Remains To Be Seen" has a zombie Flippy biting Lumpy's arm off. After he and the other zombies are destroyed, the hand comes back and attacks Lumpy.

    Webcomics 
  • Roger's hand in College Roomies from Hell!!!. It starts out as the usual gag where someone paints a face on their hand and starts consulting it as a person. It goes on with the hand gaining a personality of its own. Then, Mr. Hand learns that he can make Roger sleepwalk... did I mention that this is one of the homicidal Evil Hands?
  • Mr Purvis from Eerie Cuties. Though all it seems to want to do is give bad haircuts.
  • In Digger, the village hag can reattach severed limbs, but they run the risk of going crazy and trying to kill their owners.
  • In Pokey the Penguin, Rick Allen gets his remaining hand possessed by a demon that wants to electrocute a nun.
  • In Exiern 10 year old Ctyx has his hand replaced by the evil wizard Faden's, and he finds it is very evil.
  • Odd non-evil example in Goblins. Klik gives Dies Horribly a replacement arm made of living metal. When he gets scared, the arm grows blades and spikes to defend him. Unfortunately, the (many) situations in which he gets scared tend to go downhill fast if you start brandishing spiky things (and when it goes south he gets even more scared, and the arm gets spikier, and...).
    • Later played straight when it begins to take control in life-or-death situations and tries to kill Saves A Fox out of jealousy.

    Web Originals 
  • Gaia Online's Dr. Singh lost her arm to a semi-homicidal mutant and replaced it with an arm from said mutant. She wound up Brainwashed and Crazy.
    • Technically, Dr. Singh never had the arm lost and replaced. After her young assistant Timmy became mutated, he began eating her arm, getting as far as her shoulder. It was because he was latched on that he could control her mind. She later is saved after getting a Mad Scientist Lab Tech to surgically remove Timmy.

    Western Animation 
  • In Futurama, Fry swaps hands with the Robot Devil. The Robot Devil's hands attempt to choke Fry, though, but (as he says) that effect "will wear off in a couple of days".
    • Or maybe it's Fry's hands that are the evil ones..
      Robot Devil: These things are always touching me in places!
      Fry: Yeah, they get around!
  • In one Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons, recurring gangster Snake was placed in the electric chair and killed, while his hair was harvested to use as a wig, which contained his personality. Anyone who wore the wig began to act just like him as it slowly took over their body and mind.
  • In the Ben 10: Alien Force episode "The Gauntlet" one of the bullies at Ben's school finds a robot hand which lets you shoot lasers. Guess who is the baddie of the episode.
  • Galaxy Rangers episode "Rogue Arm" Pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The Queen comes up with a Magitek method of tampering with Zach's bionics. Hilarity does not Ensue.

    Real Life 
  • In alien hand syndrome and anarchic hand syndrome, people with certain kinds of brain damage find one of their arms doing things that they didn't intend or consciously attempt. An alien hand is outside of the person's voluntary control. In one form of the syndrome the arm tends to do the exact opposite of whatever the person was consciously trying to accomplish, including interfering with what they were doing with their unaffected hand.
  • A weaker condition is somatoparaphrenia, or the delusion that someone's limb is not his own. It results from damage to the somatosensory homunculus, the part of the brain that tracks where each body part is, as discussed in Cracked's The 6 Most Mind-Blowing Ways Your Brain Can Malfunction.


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