"When a spark comes online, there is great joy. When one is extinguished... the universe weeps."
A character with a Heart Drive has an organ, crystal
, crystal organ
(so to speak
) or actual hardware inside their body that contains the very self of the character. The Heart Drive is in this sense similar to a Soul Jar
: it contains (or, in some cases, is
) the character's soul (or near enough that it makes no difference
), and as long as it remains undamaged grants a measure of Immortality
. Unlike a Soul Jar
, as long as the Heart Drive is outside the body the character is essentially dead, though they might remain awake and unable to take action inside the Heart Drive. Some Heart Drives can even be casually removed, stored, and reinserted to the body... or simply a
body... and return the character back to life as if nothing happened.
If this is sounding a lot like a computer's Hard Drive, that's because it usually is
one to many robot characters. Sort of like a cybernetic equivalent to a Brain in a Jar
. Thanks to their Heart Drive, most robots can pull off Good Thing You Can Rebuild
or just transfer to a Body Backup Drive
. This is true for non-technology-based Heart Drives as well: characters whose intelligence is housed in a Heart Drive are also usually Made of Iron
, able to shrug off injuries that would make mortal characters pass out. Some Heart Drives also have a built-in Healing Factor
to help repair or even rebuild their body
. At the extreme, they may consider all non-fatal damage trivial
... the down side is it also creates a gigantic Weak Point
for enemies to easily kill the character. That is, unless the character has the foresight to hide it beneath body armor.
One scary aspect of the Heart Drive
is it can be a combination of Body Snatcher
, The Symbiote
and Artifact of Doom
. If it grafts itself onto another animal/character/clone body, the Heart Drive will take over the mind
and sometimes even "mutate" it into its original form.
Subtrope of Immortality Inducer
. Compare Cranial Processing Unit
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Anime and Manga
- In most depictions of the Metal Men, their bodies are literally just solid blocks of Gold, Iron, Tin, etc. animated by a softball-sized spherical device called a responsometer, which is sentient and can manipulate the surrounding metal. If the device is yoinked out of their bodies, their bodies become inanimate.
- Brain in a Jar Cain in RoboCop 2 while he's in the "Robocop 2" body.
- Cherry 2000. Robots have their personality stored in a memory chip that can be removed and reinserted in another robot of the same type. The protagonist spends the entire movie trying to find a new body for his robot.
- In Frankenstein Conquers The World, its said that Frankenstein's heart is immortal and can regrow his body due partly to his creation and partly due to surviving and being mutated by one of the H-Bomb attacks on Japan. While his cells can grow into a new monster, his heart is the only part that seems able to regenerate into something human-like.
- Terminator units in Terminator series have these. With exception of the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and possibly the very early model T-1s in Terminator Salvation that seemed to lack any personality at all.
- In the live-action Inspector Gadget movie, Gadget is captured by the villain who proceeds to remove the computer chip that amplifies his emotions to allow his body to function, causing him to shut down. However, Gadget later summons enough Heroic Resolve to overcome this and reactivate himself.
- WALL•E's main processor chip could be defined as this, since he temporarily loses his personality when EVE gives him the life-saving overhaul near the end of the movie.
- I, Robot has the reveal that Sonny not only possesses a positronic brain, but a secondary brain in his chest which allows him to ignore the three laws. The redundant one would appear to be a mechanical "soul" of sorts.
- In Eragon, Dragons have Eldunari which is essentially their souls. A dragon can expel their Eldunari but remain in control of their bodies. When their bodies die their consciousness is transferred to the Eldunari, where it remains until someone destroys it.
- In Greg Egan's short story Learning To Be Me, everyone has a tiny neural network computer implanted into their brain. As the people grow, the computer constantly corrects itself to mimic their brain's responses. At a certain age, many people choose to remove their brains, making the tiny computer this trope.
- Egan revisits this trope often. His short story Chaff and novels Diaspora, and Schild's Ladder all have variations on this theme.
- In the Dragoncrown War series, Big Bad Chytrine has a soulstone because she's half-dragon, and dragons can naturally create them. However, in order to protect it, she swallowed it, making it part of her being and rendering her nearly impossible to kill unless her dragon form is torn open and someone pulls it out.
- In Charles Stross's Saturn's Children, most robots have a personality chip to backup their memories/personalities. This can be used to keep them alive by transferring their mind to another body or to learn from dead "siblings." "Wearing" the chip of another robot for too long however can lead to their personality usurping the original owner's and as a back up can take months or years to be fully complete destroying another robot's personality chip is a good way of ensuring they behave themselves.
- In the Takeshi Kovacs series people are normally implanted with a "cortical stack" at birth that acts as a backup hard drive for the brain. When one dies it can be removed and downloaded into a new body.
Live Action TV
- Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia, section "Playing Robots". In Alpha Complex a robot's brain (CPU) can be removed and inserted in another robot. One function of a Troubleshooter team's Robot Officer is to recover the CPUs of damaged robots.
- Eclipse Phase borrows the cortical stack concept from Altered Carbon.
- 1E Mutants & Masterminds villain, The Atomic Brain, functions as this with the eponymous radioactive brain being the bit which gets transferred from one robot body to another.
- The Raksha of Exalted have an odd version of this that is somewhere between a Heart Drive and a Soul Jar. All Shaped Raksha form a heart grace when they take a solid form, and if another person possesses it they can control the others actions and destroying the heart grace is one of the few ways to permanently kill a Raksha. The other virtues (compassion, conviction, temperance, and valor, the Exalted game system's main character traits) can also be made into physical objects, though they are much less important, relatively speaking. If they're destroyed or possessed by another it only prevents the Raksha in question from using the emotion attached to that grace, or using that emotion to feed until it grows back. The confusing part is that in most cases a Raksha's apparent physical body is closer to a projection of their graces rather than a true physical form.
- The demons of Heartcore possess crystaline objects dubbed Heartcores. Second-generation demons inherit their Heartcores from one of their "parent" demons (such as the protagonist Ame possessing the Heartcore of her mother Lilith, or Carval and his "father" Volaster). A Heartcore is essentially a corrupted human heart, and demons must feed on them to survive (lest they be rendered unambulatory husks). They are also one of a demon's two Achilles' Heel s, the other being their brain,
- Robots in Gunnerkrigg Court function this way. In particular, Robot S13's original body was melted down and made into paperclips; his CPU was preserved and placed in a new body, so he was fine.