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Helping Hands
A somewhat more helpful hand.

Did you just chop apart the evil zombie or robot you were fighting? Keep an eye on all the parts, because it's only a matter of time before that severed hand starts to spider-crawl after you, or scuttle off for some nefarious purpose.

The body parts in question show an awful lot of self motivation and sensory ability for something that doesn't even have muscles on a human. In the case of spirit-animated necromantic flesh, all bets are off, but it's past believability that all robots are built with a wireless command link and independent power supply for all their limbs "just in case".

See Evil Hand for when this happens before it gets lopped off.

For other lopped off yet functional body parts see: Losing Your Head, Organ Autonomy, and Brain in a Jar.

Not to be confused with Handy Helper or the game of the same name as this trope played on Whose Line Is It Anyway?


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Robots 
Anime and Manga
  • The Zeong mobile suit from, well, Mobile Suit Gundam can disconnect its arms at the elbow (they're connected by wires, but very long ones) in order to attack with its beam cannon fingers from any angle. For example, it could disconnect an arm and circle around a GM in order to shoot it in the back, bypassing its shield, but this isn't very necessary given its incredible power. This ability was built into the suit in order to let pilot Char Aznable make use of his telepathy to guide the arms and attack from unpredictable angles. There are several mobile suits in Gundam that use this ability, such as the Hamma Hamma and Turn X.

Film
  • The detached hand of B-4 grabs at Worf's ankle in Star Trek: Nemesis.
  • Iron Man 3 had an impressive scene where Jarvis detaches a modular armors forearm to help Tony without any prompting as he was too busy drowning at the time.

Live-Action TV
  • This plays a large role in the 1976 Doctor Who Story The Hand of fear.
  • In one episode of Red Dwarf, after suffering critical damage, Kryten uses one of his hands, an eye, and assorted other parts to build a miniature robot for the express purpose of getting help.
    • And then the miniature robot started running around in Lister's "joy department".
    • In another episode where the main characters are back on the Dwarf and imprisoned, another part of Kryten's "fully simulated anatomy" detaches itself and starts to scurry about the cell.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles one of the terminators manages to seek out its decapitated head by first tearing off the head of some hapless human for the sake of eyesight. Those things are apparently ridiculously modular...but cease to work completely when you destroy the easily accessible (when they're immobile) chip in their skulls.
    • I think he used the guy's head not for sight but simply so that nobody would freak out when they saw a guy with no head running around. Also, it's not that easy to immobilize a Terminator.
  • Tenaya 7 in Power Rangers RPM often detaches her hand to have it get into places she can't.
  • The detached Cyberman arm and octopus-head-thing in the Doctor Who episode "The Pandorica Opens". They even shoot out tranquilliser darts!

Web Video
  • In Atop the Fourth Wall, Mechakara's hand had to contain a stupendous amount of technology for Lord Vyse's escape plan to work — technology that did not seem to serve much purpose being installed in a hand. Of course, as it turned out, this was exactly what he needed, so ...

Western Animation
  • Cyborg from Teen Titans apparently built spy-drone capability into his modular hands on purpose (though, presumably, the hands weren't both modified at the same time).
  • Optimus Prime was disassembled, and controlled his limbs to re-unite, via robot telepathy, in an episode of Transformers.
    • In a weird variant of this trope, Megatron can turn into a giant, disembodied hand in Robots In Disguise.
    • A both robotic and zombie version occurs in the Transformers Prime episode "Shadowzone". After shooting off Zombie!Skyquake's arm (using Starscream's disembodied arm, no less), Jack, Raf, and Miko are then promptly pursued by it.
    Miko: How can a zombie arm move faster than the actual zombie?
  • All parts of The Iron Giant can move on their own, for self repair purposes.
    • This was also in the original book.
  • Bender from Futurama does this frequently, often for the purpose of stealing things while everyone's distracted by some other part of him.
  • XR has to do this as part of his Chew Toy job on occasion.

     Zombies & Other Spookiness 

Advertising
  • The mascot for Hamburger Helper is a disembodied glove with a face on it.
    • And Arby's mascot is an oven mitt.

Anime & Manga
  • In the anime Vampire Hunter D, we have the titular vampire hunter's left hand, which has somehow gotten a Demon embedded in it. Said demon is shown by having a face in the palm of the hand, including eyes, nose, and mouth. After being severed in a rather gory scene that includes D being staked through the heart, the hand crawls back to D's body, reattaches itself to D's arm, pulls out the stake, then attempts to revive D by a) eating earth for energy (with accompanying belch afterward), b) sucking wind to give him breath, then pounding on his chest to restart his heart. All this while a monster approaches that would be the Final Death for D. Naturally, he wakes up in time to kill the monster and progress through the story. Of course, all this is helped by the titular D being a dhampir, a half-human half-vampire hybrid.
    • Dhampyrs, from Balkan folklore, are the children of male vampires and female humans, with all the powers of vampires and none of the weaknesses. (The word was transliterated into Japanese as "danpiru", which was then transliterated back into English as "dunpeal" or "dhampiel", leading to all kinds of interesting confusion.)
  • The pirate captain Buggy from One Piece ate a Devil Fruit that gave him this power.

Film
  • Ash's severed hand in Evil Dead 2.
  • Governor Swann gets to deal with a undead hand in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film.
  • The zombie-witch thing in House. No, not the one with Hugh Laurie.
  • Null the biker zombie from Braindead after getting chopped to pieces his body parts and organs continue to attack Lionel.
  • A severed zombie hand crawls across a lawn at the end of Waxwork. In the sequel it murders someone, and the characters who destroy it then must hunt through several worlds to bring back proof it wasn't the Love Interest who committed the crime. Their proof is yet another zombie hand.
  • In the horror-comedy Idle Hands, a slacker's hand gets possessed by a demon. He eventually cuts it off, only for the hand to continue trying to kill people.
  • They weren't detached from anyone... probably, but there are the "Helping Hands" of Labyrinth and they are fairly creepy.
    • They were trying to help, not their fault "she chose down."
  • Various mummies in (wait for it...) The Mummy Trilogy pull this move.
    • Rick actually manages to turn it to his advantage. A sword is lying just out or reach, but once a severed mummy hand grabs it he then just grabs the hand and pulls the sword to him.
  • The Phantasm series does this a couple of times, first with severed fingers, later with whole hands.
  • In the MST3K movie Attack of the Eye Creatures, one of the creatures' severed hand takes refuge in someone's car.
  • In A Christmas Carol The Musical (2004), one of Marley's ghost companions carries a Thing-style hand in a box as his ironic punishment for "never lending a hand".
  • The Cabin in the Woods. A zombie gets hacked up by one of the protagonists, but its limbs are still twitching. When a guard bursts in with the intention of shooting them, a zombie hand grabs his ankle, distracting him. The protagonists knock the guard out and the last thing we see as the doors close is the hand crawling up to the unconscious man's face...

Literature
  • Patchwork, aka Modular Woman, from the Wild Cards novels, can tear off her body parts and use them remotely. She had people plant her eyes and ear (she needed the other ear to communicate with others) where they could spy on her boss's enemies.
  • The Other Mother in the Coraline story loses her right hand as the titular Coraline escapes from the Mirror Universe. Then the right hand starts following Coraline around, trying to get the key to let the Other Mother through.
  • Necromancers who stay alive way too long in Nightrunner turn into Dyrmagnos, beings with withered corpse bodies. If you cut them up without separating the body parts, they will rejoin. The wizards' museum has a pair of hands from an infamous Dyrmagnos which still move after hundreds of years.
  • The Handlingers from Perdido Street Station and its sequels are simply creatures that look like disconnected hands. They also happen to be Puppeteer Parasites.
  • The severed hand of an executed sorcerer seeks vengeance on the man who betrayed him in the Solomon Kane short story "The Right Hand of Doom".
  • In The Iron Man by Ted Hughes, published as The Iron Giant in the United States and very loosely adapted into the film of the same name, the titular character arrives on Earth as a large collection of disassembled bits that then have to assemble themselves. The book example probably belongs here rather than in the Robots folder, as the titular Iron Man behaves more like a kaiju than a Humongous Mecha.
  • The wights in A Song of Ice and Fire have limbs that continue to move about and attack even after dismemberment.
  • In the 1838 penny dreadful Hugues, the Wer-Wolf, a butcher who'd chopped the werewolf's hand off tries to get rid of the severed part by burying it or dropping it down a well, but it keeps turning up again at his home, as if it's crawling back when he's not watching. A subversion, as it's strongly implied that his daughter is secretly retrieving it and planting it in her father's house, to punish him for maiming the werewolf with whom she's in love.

Live-Action TV
  • The Angel episode "I Fall to Pieces" had a surgeon who could detach parts of himself to aid in stalking/molesting his victims.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place. The episode that plays with this trope is even called "Helping Hand"! Although it isn't very helpful after Alex uses it to clean up the shop, then doesn't give it a break or reward it in any way.
  • Buffy herself once had to sell a detached mummy hand to a picky customer. It didn't go so well.
  • Good Eats lampshades Thing from The Addams Family. The Thing in Good Eats is canonically the grandson of the one from The Addams Family.
  • A living plastic mannequin's arm in the first episode of the new Doctor Who.
    • The infamous "Hand of Sutekh" from the episode Pyramids of Mars. While this is only really a stagehand's hand holding down Sutekh's cushion when he first stands up, it has become an in-joke among Doctor Who fans.
    • Played straight for a spell in the classic story "Hand of Fear".

Pinball

Tabletop Games
  • Trolls in Dungeons & Dragons can attack with any severed parts.
    • In 3.5, Warlocks have an invocation that severs their own hand, which animates and crawls around like a spider, to be used as a sort of scout. They can also do this with an eye. Don't worry, the limbs come back.
    • 'Bigby's Many Hands' line of spells, which summon the disembodied hands of, presumably, the Wizard Bigby, which do various 'things' depending on the spell. Similar spells are 'Mage's Hand', which is for non-combat purposes, the 'Spectral Hand', and others, including one even called 'Helping Hand'.
      • Forgotten Realms adds a lot of variations, such as Alcimer's Flying Fist or Daltim's Flaming Fist (the signature spell of a Halruaan mercenary pyromancer: the same general idea, but on fire) and a few grasping and/or attacking claw variants, such as Caligarde's Claw and Manshoon's Xorn Talons. There are also more tricky and obscure spells like Halaster's Grappling Hand (door-sized force hand selectively intercepting magical attacks and creatures with magic items, but passing through non-magical matter) or Duhlark's Long Reach (large arm remotely formed from any present material that can grab, smash or pull and conducts spells like Spectral Hand).
    • Crawling claws, a mindless, weak, but usually swarming monster originally from Forgotten Realms — an animated severed hand in any shape from fresh to skeletal. It doesn't count as a proper undead, just a construct, thus is not turnable and even good wizards sometimes make one or two dozens. Mostly used as a guardian, but there's a more useful flying variety which can grasp and move at once, so those who can make them get hovering testtube holders and suchlike. The vampiric variant, though, is much nastier.
      • Although a very strange thought experiment on 4chan's /tg/ board suggested using an array of them with simple instructions (monitoring other hands and raising or lowering fingers as needed) to create a massive undead Turing-equivalent computer. Then someone suggested capturing some pixies, putting Rings of Regeneration on them and repeatedly cutting off and reanimating their hands to give an endlessly self-improving undead CPU.
  • The advantage Independent Body Parts from GURPS: Powers.
  • In Munchkin, the Crawling Hand is an Undead monster; it can be fought normally, or, if you give it an item, it becomes your pet crawling hand and gives you a combat bonus.
  • In some scenarios of Mansions of Madness dead bodies spawn 2 autonomous hands under GM's control. These buggers are more annoying than all the zombies and demons combined.

Video Games
  • Master Hand and Crazy Hand from Super Smash Bros. are giant, disembodied, floating, gloved hands.
  • The iconic Choking Hands from Blood.
  • One of these is available as a non-combat pet in World of Warcraft.
  • Guybrush's left hand gains a mind of its own when it's infected by the Pox of LeChuck in Tales of Monkey Island, and acts on its own whether or not it's attached to Guybrush's arm.
  • The Floormaster and Wallmaster enemy types in '"The Legend of Zelda'' games resemble gigantic disembodied monster hands.
  • Dead Space has this as a major issue with one of its enemies.
  • In the latest release of Dwarf Fortress, while severing body parts from the undead renders them inanimate, necromancers and mummies can easily reanimate the body parts. They can even do this to body parts severed from living beings, so adventures can find themselves in the unlucky circumstance of having to fight their own severed arm.
  • Tibia has Hands of Cursed Fate, which are human-sized purple hands. They're one of the strongest enemies from the unnamed Demon dimension and, by extension, in the entire game.
  • In Baten Kaitos Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean you have the Develish Hands and their family of monsters. Unusual in that they're two hands, fused together at the bottom of the palm, and they crawl along akin to a Giant Spider.
  • The old Infocom text adventure "The Lurking Horror" had one, in the form of an amputated human hand you could reanimate. It's actually very helpful to you, and is key for surviving some of the late game challenges, including helping you defeat the Final Boss.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • In the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Hands on a Hamburger", Master Shake detaches his hand/glove so he can go to the bathroom while still technically touching the giant hamburger. This startles Frylock, who apparently didn't know Shake could do that.
  • In Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School, the eponymous school has a butler who is a floating white hand.

Eye SpyAutonomous and Artificial Appendage IndexHook Hand
Head Turned BackwardsLiving ApartLego Body Parts
Helpful HallucinationAdded Alliterative AppealHenpecked Husband
Healing VatApplied PhlebotinumHidden Wire
The Addams FamilyImageSource/Live-Action TVAftermath

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