MP3 player, or even the very computer you're browsing this site with right now. Not very scary, right? But what if... THERE'S A GHOST INSIDE IT?! BETCHA SCARED NOW, HUH?! Putting a ghost inside technology can have a range of terrifying (and not so terrifying) effects - perhaps that old camera begins to take photos of the future, or your mobile phone receives phone calls from beyond the grave. Or perhaps it just kills everyone. Very often completely ignores the actual limits of the technology involved, such as the fact that an oven can't chase someone or that computers need power to do anything. This is especially true for Internet-dwelling monsters because Everything Is Online. Done well, this can be a powerful source of Paranoia. Done badly, it becomes Narmtastic Nightmare Retardant. Not related to Ghost in the Machine. Compare with Digitized Hacker, where the ghost is virtual, not supernatural. See also: Attack of the Killer Whatever. Strangely enough, Japanese mythology regards this as particularly unlikely as supernatural beings are said to avoid electricity. Bamboo Technology should theoretically be susceptible to this, however. See also Electromagnetic Ghosts, for when they just cause problems with technology, yet don't inhabit it.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Mahou Sensei Negima! narrowly averts this. Cute Ghost Girl Sayo may have been given a robotic body, but she's controlling it by possessing a voodoo doll (with a cute exterior) and controlling a Mobile-Suit Human.
- Those Who Hunt Elves has a haunted/possessed tank. Luckily, it's an animal's ghost and is real friendly with the main cast.
- The Big O While being heavily implied (and accepted by many fans) as being semi-sentient machines, the extent of a Megadei's independence (those in the Big series, at least) at first appears to be just walking on their own volition and picking up their pilots... and then you get episode 24, which secures their Haunted Technology status forever. Alan Gabriel in Big Duo Inferno is about ram a drill into Big O, when the arm with the drill... just... won't... move. Then Big Duo moves backwards, and Schwarzwald-literally out of nowhere(he's supposed to be dead by now)-gives Gabriel a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, to which cables burst out of every inch of the Big Duo's cockpit. Duo proceeds to "eat" Alan Gabriel. see for yourself.
- Also the message displayed on the monitor in the cockpit of every Megadei changes at this moment for Alan: "YE GUILTY" This event happened after he told Roger about how he intends to use Big Duo solely for mass murder and destruction.
- Bubu Chacha - A non-horrifying example. A dog died from protecting a 3-year-old boy and possessed/reincarnated into a toy car. There are other animal ghosts who possessed other objects, too.
- Played for Laughs in Ah! My Goddess: to escape being disintegrated, the bodysurfing Ultimate Destruction Program part of the Lord of Terror tried to escape to the first available body, that just happened to be a floppy disk thrown at him by Skuld. Skuld then proceeded to break the recording switch, thus sealing the Lord of Terror into it, before gleefully picking up a magnet and kill the Lord of Terror by demagnetizing the disk.
- Variable Geo: While it's never explained how Miranda Jahana died, the cyber drive contains her disembodied spirit. Which allowed her to gradually superimpose her consciousness over Satomi's and take over her body. Satomi is eventually freed from her control, thanks to her best friend, Yuka, saving her. After which, they unleash their combined might and destroy the cyber drive, taking Miranda with it.
- Green Lantern opponent Sinestro once possessed Doiby Dickles' 1940s taxi, Goitrude, in a story titled "Our Mastermind the Car".
- Residents of Korugar, Sinestro's home planet, believe that his ring is cursed. To the point that Green Lanterns chosen from that planet are considered "Lost" and are no longer welcome among their people (Sinestro isn't a very nice person).
- Subverted with Green Lantern Soranik Natu, whose various good works aiding the lower-class of Korugar have increased her popularity, to the point where she's (much to her chagrin) hailed as a symbol for revolution against the corrupt elite.
- Residents of Korugar, Sinestro's home planet, believe that his ring is cursed. To the point that Green Lanterns chosen from that planet are considered "Lost" and are no longer welcome among their people (Sinestro isn't a very nice person).
- The Haunted Tank - although it's actually a GOOD haunting, as the ghost of Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart provides invaluable advice to his namesakes, tank commander Jeb Stuart and the tank itself, an M3 Stuart.
- The Disney Adventures multi-part comic The Legend of the Chaos God was about the casts of the various Disney Afternoon series having separate encounters with Solego, an evil wizard trapped in an amulet who could possess anyone who touched it. Towards the end of the comic, Solego figures out how to possess technology in the same manner. He first takes control of Pete's new car in the Goof Troop chapter, then Gizmoduck's armor in the Ducktales and Darkwing Duck chapters.
- Played for laughs in one strip of Garfield where Jon calls for help because their toaster was haunted. Then the toaster cuts off the power.
- In Jason X Special, the spirit of Jason Voorhees' mother is released from its grave due to a combination of a lightning strike hitting her son as he stands next to it and an army of nanobots attacking him. She then possesses the machines which are being used to study Jason's regenerative abilities and helps him to escape.
- The Ring, with the haunted video tape.
- One Missed Call, with the haunted mobile phone voicemail.
- Parodied on a humor site with a fake poster for a movie called Technologically Savvy Vengeful Ghost
- The infamous B-movie The Car has a car with no rider on it terrorizing a small town.
- Or its higher-class cousin, Christine
- Parodied in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Over an awkward dinner, Peter and Aldous mock Sarah for taking a role in a movie where cellphones killed their owners.
- Which is a parody of Pulse (mentioned below), which the actress playing Sarah starred in.
- Fear Dot Com featured a haunted snuff website.
- This is more or less the whole point of the movie Pulse and its American adaptation.
- Poltergeist features some haunted technology, specifically a TV screen that shows static and talks to the youngest child in the family, and the whole series is thought to be cursed.
- White Noise (not to be confused with the post-apocalyptic scifi webcomic by Melinda Timpone)
- In the film π, the protagonist uses his supercomputer to decode a strange number which can predict the stock market, and is apparently somehow related to God and the structure of the universe. In addition to causing serious mind screwy fever dreams for the protagonist when he thinks about it too hard, processing the number seems to make his computer leak some sort of goo (presumably the idea is it is creating primordial life). So basically, his computer is possessed by God.
- The Twonky was a 1953 movie about an evil mind-controlling television.
- Kiryu (the version of Mechagodzilla from Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla) is possessed by the ghost of the original Godzilla from the 1954 film, causing it to occasionally rampage.
- Stephen King appears to like this trope:
- "The Mangler" (published in the collection Night Shift) is about a haunted industrial laundry machine, nicknamed the mangler. An unlikely set of circumstances caused it to become possessed, and an attempt to exorcise it missed a variable affecting the creature, turning it into a mobile killing machine.
- Christine is about a possessed car.
- "The Sun Dog" is about a camera with a monster inside it.
- From a Buick 8 is about a car which, while not possessed, is supernatural. Actually the Buick isn't really a car, although they don't find out for sure exactly what it is.
- In Cell, cell phones start turning people into zombies. It's a lot better than it sounds.
- In The Boggart by Susan Cooper, the boggart also possesses a computer—it turns out to be relatively benign, though.
- The Ghost and the Goggle-Box by Duncan Ball features a television haunted by the ghost of its former owner. (He'd died while watching it, and when he got up and tried to switch it off, he somehow got trapped inside.)
- The Cleaning Machine, a short story by F. Paul Wilson, features a supernatural machine which makes everyone who goes near it disappear without a trace. May not be haunted however- the story never actually explains where it came from, how it got there, or what it is.
- The Demon Download series is replete with this trope. Unsurprising, really, given the title of the first novel and the series overall. The first book has a demon infecting computer systems and operating any technology those computer systems are connected to, resulting in a demon-possessed United States Road Cavalry cruiser and later on, possessed kitchen appliances. In Comeback Tour, the only reason the Josephites are able to get the Needlepoint system working is that they're using voodoo to have the Kill Sat possessed by Elder Seth.
- In Sonic The Hedgehog And The Silicon Warriors inside the raw-data section of the computer there exists a deleted program that has coalesced stray bits of code to become more tangible. It calls itself the Ghost in the Machine.
- In the novel Possessed by Alan Radnor, a modern (for early eighties, anyway) computer system is built on a spot haunted by the spirits of pagan worshippers, and they take machinery over along with anyone associated with it.
- In Harry Potter, the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office has to deal with some of these. Mainly subverted though, since they're bewitched rather than "haunted", properly speaking. This includes Arthur Weasley's Ford Anglia.
Live Action TV
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "I Robot, You Jane" has a demon which possesses a computer (and then the Internet, and finally a robot body) as the result of a book-scanning project.
- Star Trek examples:
- Star Trek: The Original Series
- In the episode "Wolf In the Fold", an energy being left the human body it was occupying and entered (and took control of) the Enterprise computer. Spock drove it out with a Logic Bomb ("Compute to the last digit the value of pi.").
- Star Trek: The Animated Series
- In ''The Practical Joker", an playful energy cloud took over the Enterprise computer and played pranks on the crew.
- It also happened in the episode "Beyond the Farthest Star", when an alien entity took over the Enterprise bridge's intruder control system.
- And there was that Star Trek: The Next Generation ep where the dying scientist took over Data (a possession plot, but Data is a machine).
- Star Trek: The Original Series
- The Twilight Zone had several:
- "Living Doll": "My name is Talking Tina, and I don't like you."
- "A Thing About Machines" has a whole bunch of machines start rising up in revenge against one man who's been abusing them.
- "You Drive" has a car that starts acting weird in an attempt to get its owner to confess to a hit-and-run accident.
- "From Agnes — With Love" has a supercomputer named Agnes which becomes a Clingy Jealous Girl.
- "The Fever" has a seemingly possessed slot machine that follows the protagonist around, calling his name.
- Supernatural had a Monster of the Week that called people on the phone and drove them to suicide.
- A different episode featured a truck possessed by the spirit of its dead, racist owner.
- Are You Afraid of the Dark? had a gremlin possessing a camera. The camera not only killed people by taking their pictures, but the pictures showed how they would die. By the end of the episode the camera is destroyed but the gremlin ends up in a computer.
- Doctor Who:
- The episode "The Idiot's Lantern" involves televisions being 'haunted' by an alien who appears as a motherly woman on the screen. She'd eat by taking away someone's 'soul', and through that, their face.
- And then in "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead", there were "data ghosts" in the communicators of River Song's expedition team, which were supposedly echoes of their dying moments.
- My Mother The Car - Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Parodied on The Simpsons, with "The Lovematic Grandpa" - a love tester machine haunted by Abraham Simpson.
- And don't forget the TV movie Killdozer.
- Or Roadtrain for that matter.
- In the Turn of the Millennium revival of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), one of Spirit Advisor Marty Hopkirk's first appearances to Jeff Randall was in a First-Person Shooter video game.
- The Masters of Horror episode called Cigarette Burns features a haunted movie.
- Ghostwatch - will make you want to have your TV exorcised. Part of the Paranoia Fuel of the special is that broadcasting a special inside a haunted house effectively has the same effect as a seance... which means every TV watching in Britain is now tuned into a homicidal ghost on multiple wavelengths.
- The X-Files loved this trope, though their technology wasn't usually "haunted" so much as just plain evil:
- "Ghost in the Machine" is about an automated security system that develops a murderous mind of its own.
- "Blood" has machines telling people to kill other people triggering it through their phobias. Subverted as it is implied that the government was using chemicals to cause mass paranoia in a controlled experiment and perhaps some people were actually sending the messages.
- "Wetwired" explores a device planted in a TV set sending viewers subliminal signals and inciting their worst fears. This is a subversion since people placed it there.
- "Unruhe" features an art of creepy photography that can capture what's inside people's mind.
- "Kill Switch" is similar to "Ghost in the Machine"; it's about a software that goes rogue and tries to kill anyone who destroys it. Humorously, the only way to deactivate it is to insert the kill switch which plays to the tune of The Platter's "Twilight Time".
- "First Person Shooter" presents a female video game character in a realistic 3-D game that starts killing people — in the game and with effects in real life.
- Perhaps a reference to "Talking Tina" above, in "Chinga", where Scully is attempting a vacation when she runs across a doll that seems able to control humans around it. Usually to perform violent acts against themselves.
- Inverted in Nigel Kneale's The Stone Tape, where a haunting is discovered in an old building and a group of scientists and engineers attempt to figure out if the room where it manifests has some unique and exploitable capacity to record events.
- BIONICLE's Makuta were a race of beings capable of possessing soulless bodies and machines. This ability was also the main point of their Evil Plan. Their leader, Makuta Teridax, spent some time masquerading as the guard-robot Maxilos, then went on to become a god by possessing the body of Mata Nui, the Humongous Mecha which housed their entire universe.
- Chaos likes to do this in Warhammer 40,000, where a daemon can inhabit anything from a chainsword to a tank to a Humongous Mecha.
- Also sort of inverted (at least in belief) by the idea of "machine spirits," which are supposedly benevolent spirits inside technological devices that help mankind. In the past these were human brains, much like servitors, but this practice was discontinues quite a while ago. Since the franchise loves it some Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane cliffhangers, some machine spirits might actually be low-level AIs.
- Eldar Wraith constructs are robots piloted by the souls of their dead.
- In the New World of Darkness, the animistic nature of The Shadow means that there is conceivably a spirit for everything. Mages well-versed in the Spirit Arcanum can awaken the dormant spirits in just about anything. Mages with Death and Matter can also cause a ghost to possess and animate anything physical (commonly used with a Golem or other construct but also for something like a self-driving car).
- Wraith, the original ghost game from White Wolf, has the Arcanos of Inhabit, which allows wraiths to possess and manipulate technology (as well as create ghostly Artifacts) from beyond the Shroud.
- Orpheus, the sequel to Wraith, features a character splat whose signature power is possessing machines.
- The animistic nature of the New World of Darkness spirit world originated with the equally animistic Umbra of the Old World of Darkness, in which every object, plant, rock, concept, and emotion has a corresponding spirit somewhere. Shapeshifters like to "awaken" the spirits of weapons and mind-altering plants to turn them into magical items, and the Glass Walkers tribe of werewolves does the same with their computers, cars, and cell phones. Another option is convincing some other spirit to take up permanent residence in a weapon or machine, with similar results.
- Magic: The Gathering tends to do this with auras that enchant artifacts.
- In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, the Pokemon Rotom is found in a TV set. Might have been a little scary if he wasn't so damn cute.
- Up to then though it's pretty disconcerting, with a clear Shout-Out to The Ring. Less disconcerting is that said Pokemon is a shout out to Pulseman.
- Platinum extends this further by letting Rotom change forms by possessing appliances; a washing machine, a lawnmower, a toaster, a refrigerator, and a fan.
- In Persona 4, a mysterious late-night television channel somehow murders people on foggy nights. If you happen to watch it on those nights, you can see who the victim will be.
- In the second Ambridge Mansion game, there is a haunted TV that will kill you when you touch it. Upon contact, a bird-like shadow monster comes out of it.
- Calling has a haunted chatroom website that drags people away and numerous cell phones that get calls from dead people.
- Nanashi no Game, for the Nintendo DS, is The Ring BUT WITH A RETRAUX RPG!
- Ghostbusters: The Video Game has a few collectible artifacts that are haunted machines such as an RC car and a microwave.
- Ghost Master has ghosts that specialise in making technology spark and jump.
- Silent Hill features lots of possessed and haunted technology, which should be expected in a possessed and haunted town.
- Shivers had the electricity Ixupi, which possessed things like a UFO-shaped lamp and an electric chair.
- [text] - A Summer Story by sakevisual has your character's mobile phone. It's receiving messages from a dead boy.
- In City of Heroes, the Praetorian variant of the villainous Clockwork King (who is a Brain in a Jar) is known as Metronome, and is a ghost able to rewrite and possess the advanced - and ever-present - robots that he helped to create.
- In the Azshara region of World of Warcraft there is a short Horde chain focused on attempting to deal with a possessed excavation vehicle. The exorcism does not go as intended...
- Towards the True End of Corpse Party, after discovering that she was the one who killed her best friend Seiko while being controlled, Naomi receives a text that Seiko intended to send her before she died. The text's title? Re: No hard feelings.
- Parodied in Kingdom of Loathing with a cursed microwave that produces endless brimstone burritos, and a cursed keg that dispenses cups of "beery blood."
- In Devil May Cry 2, Dante and Lucia encounter a species of demon called the infestants, which have the power to merge their bodies with technology, and must do battle with several infested tanks and an infested helicopter that the infestants are controlling.
- The Dark Presence in Alan Wake can only attack its victims through taking control of real life objects. Most of the time it's satisfied with just possessing humans, but during the course of the game the player also faces some haunted technology, even having a boss fight against a combine harvester at one point.
- Often believed to be the case with the killer animatronics in Five Nights at Freddy's. Word of God says that the characters are "haunted"◊, and piecing together the evidence trail in the game heavily implies that the suits are to some degree haunted by the ghosts of five children who were abducted and never found, because they had been murdered and their bodies hidden inside the animatronic costumes. The amount of control the supposed ghosts have over the endoskeletons is heavily debated.
- All but confirmed in the sequel. It's also implied that one of the other animatronics was behind the murders.
- As of Five Nights at Freddy's 3 this is CONFIRMED in the most terrifying way. Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, Foxy, and Golden Freddy were inhabited by the souls of dead children, after the Puppet, another murdered child, tried to help them avenge their deaths. Also, Springtrap, the new monstrosity stalking you in the game, is not only haunted but also has the corpse of the murderous Purple Man inside.
- Virtual-ON has the Bonus Boss Jaguarandi, who appears without warning if you take too long for the first round of fights. It's stated to be the soul of a boy trapped in the system, now animating a warped, extremely powerful version of the standard Raiden Virtuaroid.
- "Haunted Tape Dispenser Unsure How To Demonstrate Hauntedness," as parodied by The Onion.
- I Used To Be Fearless
- The SCP Foundation has a lot of these, and their effects range from the lethal to the benign. It says something about the SCP Foundation that one such object marked as Safe is a sentient tank.
- A friend of a friend's sister's boyfriend's neighbor said that Leonard Maltin's assistant committed suicide when he watched Suicide Mouse but you won't be doomed if you watch the highly-caffeinated Suicide Mouse Survival Guide.
- User666 - a haunted Youtube video!
- Subverted In Red vs. Blue, where Church and Tex spend most of the series as ghosts possessing robot bodies. Reconstruction reveals that Church was never really a ghost to begin with, but an AI instead. The same is heavily implied to be true for Tex.
- As a Rotom gijinka, Rota can possess electronics. She likes to sleep in fridges.
- The haunted Majora's Mask cartridge of Ben Drowned. And, thanks to people downloading Thetruth.rtf, the Internet as well.
- The spooky toaster from Neurotically Yours is the current page image. Foamy bought it from Amityville, and it spits out something different than what you put in; for example, put in white bread, you get wheat toast, and wheat bread becomes pumpernickel toast, and bagels become pork chops. But don't use waffles, the seller warned of something about toasted human hands.
- This actually happens with a lot of Creepypasta, following the success of Ben Drowned.
- Zig-zagged with the Sim Albert Creepypasta: The game is indeed haunted; but the ghost was actually using it as a second chance at life.
- Schlock Mercenary had an arc involving a haunted battleship which the heroes get at a cheap price. The "haunting" consists of a gurgling in the pipes that sounds like a Voice of Pure Evil telling them that they're doomed to die horribly. The "haunting" drives the ship's AI completely and suicidally insane, since it is unable to find a scientific explanation, and as a machine, it can't accept the existence of the supernatural. Kevyn eventually concludes that the 'haunting' is simply a freak plumbing problem, and the plumbing just happens to sound like an ominous voice proclaiming their doom in their own language, so he flushes out the entire system until it stops. Captain Tagon then orders the AI to repress its memories of the incident, rendering it sane again, though it becomes suicidal if those orders are ever revoked.
- A common problem in the world of Exterminatus Now, due to the existence of Fernex, Dark God of Technology, whose techno-daemons can possess machinery. Toasters, in fact, are considered perfect for this, and the Inquisitors have to destroy their possessed toasters on a regular basis. Other items have included calculators and an original X-Box.
- Full Frontal Nerdity parodied Stephen King's fondness for this trope by having the gamers play "Stephen King: The RPG". The GM rolled on a table to determine what the possessed item was and how it killed people. The players ended up fighting a possessed radio that drank blood.
- Jet Dream: In "The Haunted Copter", the T-Girls' new X-34 Athena Stratolifter is haunted by the ghost of Athena in a parody of DC Comics' The Haunted Tank feature.
- Aradia Megido becomes one of these in Homestuck.
- Played for laughs on one episode of The Fairly Oddparents that featured magic seeping into various mundane things and transforming them. This included an evil plant, an evil couch, an evil TV set and an evil phone that said, "The number you've reached... is trying to kill you."
- Taken to its logical extent in Transformers Generation One and Beast Wars in which the possessed machines were Transformers and the possessing spirit was... also a Transformer, specifically the immortal spark of Air Commander Starscream.
- In the sequel of Beast Wars, Beast Machines, the depolarized Spark of Megatron goes through a rapid session of body-swapping, trying to destroy the Maximals with every new functional machine he comes across.
- According to the Allspark Almanac, the producers might have reused this trope with a body-hopping Prowl had Transformers Animated gotten a fourth season.
- Technus in Danny Phantom.
- Extreme Ghostbusters had a demon who swore to destroy humankind with its own technology as punishment for its collective hubris (i.e., from the Tower of Babel onwards). It first appears possessing an action figure, then jumps to other machines before sneaking into Roland's PKE-meter and subtly brainwashing him into building a Humongous Mecha called "The Infernal Machine," using literally all of the Ghostbusters' tech, which the demon takes control of. Ultimately ends up Hoist by His Own Petard when Roland remembers he used the ghosttraps in building the Infernal Machine.
- Another episode had a demon inhabiting a cavern underneath an oil refinery. Any vehicles that had gas from the refinery put in them became possessed, and changed into monsters.
- The Real Ghostbusters had the episode "Killerwatt", which took over anything that ran on electricity. Also, the episode "Lost and Foundry" featured a ghost that escaped our heroes by falling into a vat of molten metal, possessing any metallic objects made from that metal. They battled a terrifying Humongous Mecha in a New Jersey junkyard, and won.
- Parodied in Filmation's Ghostbusters. Here, the Ghostbusters owned the haunted technology, which took the form of skeletal gadgets with anthropomorphic features. Most famous was the Ansabone, which always hung up on callers or had some wisecracks when they succeeded in leaving a message.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force: When they cloned their television one too many times, it became evil.
- In one episode, Shake killed himself so he could prank Meatwad through a Ouija Board video game. Unfortunately for him, Meatwad is already sick of the game and doesn't bother to play it again.
- A few years back, an NES for sale on eBay was advertised as being haunted. The seller claimed to hear whispering sounds while playing it. The sounds were actually sound chip malfunctions due to the console's age.
- James Dean's car, a Porsche 550 Spyder nicknamed "Little Bastard", is claimed to be haunted due to bad luck and accidents associated with the car after Dean's death.
- Paranormal investigators such as the Ghost Hunters who use fancy gadgets to detect ghosts, and scare people with supposed E.V.P. (Electronic Voice Phenomena), anomalous voices or other sounds on electronic audio recordings.