open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Yu-Gi-Oh! centers around the main character of Yugi Moto, who acts as a Living Bodysuit for an ancient Pharaoh's soul, while another character, Ryo Bakura, acts as such for a less benevolent spirit.
- In the Devil May Cry anime, the secret Big Bad, Sid, is a weak demon who late into the series shows to have the power to literally wear humans like the trope's name suggests, grusomely tearing the skin from the body and using black magic to make himself appear as the now dying or already dead victim.
- Digimon Adventure 02 has Malomyotismon hiding out in Owikawa
- Medusa in Soul Eater uses a snake, then a little girl called Rachel after being killed. In the Manga she later steals Arachne's body but in the Anime Maka gains a handy "only harms evil" ability to kill her without harming the girl.
- D.Gray-Man: Akuma are made by making a deal with The Millennium Earl to bring back a recently deceased loved one. The price, unbeknown to the victims, is that the victim's soul is sealed in a skeletal machine forced to obey him and the first thing they are forced to do is kill the person who wished them back and wear them like a Halloween costume. And this is only the beginning.
- Orochimaru is one of the main villains and a former member of the Akatsuki, who is obsessed with Immortality. He succeeds at this by transferring his soul into the body of anyone unfortunate enough to be his victim once every three years. Although it is still debated as to whether this is a minimum time required to switch again or the limit to how long he can use the body.
- The Yamanaka clan is a family of ninja capable of mind jutsu. Their most frequent technique is a form of possesion which allows them to send their mind into an enemy's body and use it against them and their allies.
- During the 3rd Tournament Arc in Dragon Ball, Kami takes posession of a human in order to infiltrate the Budokai and capture Piccolo. When Piccolo turns his trapping technique against him, Kami releases the man he posessed just before getting sucked into a jug. The man, Shen, upon waking up has no idea how he ended up in the tournament ring, or why everyone is applauding him.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Evangelions. Whether or not they have the souls of the pilots' mothers in them, they're biologically engineered organisms, restrained and controlled in a case of armor.
- Excalibur once fought a pack of extradimensional creatures called Warwolves who worked for Mojo who could do this to any prey that they killed, drain the victim's life essence, causing every part of the body except the skin to discorporate, and then wear the skin as a disguise, the Warwolf changing its shape to accommodate. Ironically, when one of them - the one named Ducks - tried to do it to Kitty Pryde, she turned the tables on the creature, using her phasing ability to use Ducks as her own MeatPuppet, which led to Excalibur capturing the other four. (Although, Kitty needed help from the rest of her team to separate from Ducks.)
- The Arnold Schwarzenegger movie End of Days has a couple of moments where The Devil possesses people to disguise himself... while being very indiscreet.
- The djinn in Wishmaster does this with a dead body he finds in a med school lab.
- Rasputin in Hellboy is this. He has some part of the Eldritch Abomination creature inside of him, which, when released is much bigger than Rasputin's normal body.
- In Howard the Duck, The Dark Overlord of the Universe takes over the body of one Dr. Jennings.
- In both the film and novel The Host, the Souls (alien symbiotes) make almost all of humanity into this. Almost all Souls are very gentle and the main character (Wanderer/Wanda) did not realize she was destroying the consciousness of other beings.
- H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos has Nyarlathotep, The Crawling Chaos, who in Robert Bloch's Mythos story "The Shadow From the Steeple" (arguably non-canon), has one form that can possess humans.
- In Stephen King's Desperation the shapeless ancient evil entity called Tak has to possess others to interact with the world. Tak uses the body of a Sheriff's deputy to incarcerate travelers so it can use them later. When Tak occupies a body it wears it out quickly.
- In the Alternate Universe version, The Regulators, Tak has instead found a body which it can stay in indefinitely: an autistic boy named Seth. Where in Desperation it was trapped in the title town, in this one it manages to relocate to Ohio, where it proceeds to twist the neighborhood according to its whims.
- This happens to Luke Castellan in the last few Percy Jackson and the Olympians books.
- Narcoblixes from the Fablehaven series can take over the bodies of sleeping people.
- Octavia E. Butler's Patternist series features a body-hopping entity named Doro. While he typically switches bodies at will (effectively wiping out the victim's soul/consciousness as he does so) he also involuntarily inhabits the nearest body if his current one is killed, making him effectively immortal.
- Ghosts and other incorporeal spirits in The Dresden Files are able to briefly possess willing living bodies, such as when Harry himself possesses Molly Carpenter in Ghost Story and casts one of his own spells using her body.
Live Action TV
- In Babylon 5, Lyta Alexander is Kosh's suit whenever he wants to travel or run errands incognito.
- In The Vampire Diaries a spell is used to possess Alaric with the ancient vampire Klaus. Given the level of Klaus' apparent paranoia, this is likely to avoid exposing his real body to danger.
- Both angels and demons. Rank-and-file demons can possess just about anyone; angels need people who are "vessels", and a vessel needs to give the angel permission to possess them. The most powerful angels, such as Michael (and Lucifer, who's also technically an angel) have one specific person as their designated vessel. It's implied that a vessel has some kind of "toughness" beyond that which is possessed by most mortals, as when non-vessels have been seen in encounters with angels, their eyes get burned out.
- Lucifer spends most of Season Five wearing a fellow called Nick whose wife and child had recently died; containing him does visible damage to the body, so they had the actor in creepy makeup. Exactly how inheritance and destiny interrelate on the subject of 'true vessels' is never elaborated upon, nor is whether Nick is related distantly to the Winchesters or to that guy Gabriel's always wearing, or if he's a lower class of vessel like Jimmy, whom Old Nick is making work short-term. Probably not related to either of Raphael's bodies, given they are black.
- The kid warlock in 'Swap Meat' did this with Sam, although (apparently unexpectedly) this also let Sam walking around wearing him. They showed this by having the actors port with the characters, so while mirrors and all other characters and the physical world agreed that Sam's scenes involved a scrawny little asthmatic, magic viewer-vision still saw Jared Padalecki.
- When Illyria tried to return to life its body had been destroyed eons ago, requiring it to find a new one. It takes Fred's, though the process kills her body. Fred is now Back from the Dead, however, and sharing her body with Illyria.
- Cordelia is revealed in Season 4 to be acting under the control of Jasmine.
- In the Family of Blood episode of Doctor Who, the Family possesses (and kills) four people so that they could leave their suspended animation and hunt The Doctor.
- The Slitheen use literally hollowed-out human suits, with zippers in the forehead, to disguise themselves while on Earth.
- The... thing in "Midnight" uses Sky as one of these.
- The Master possesses Bruce the paramedic, but his ultimate goal is to take The Doctor's body. He wears a Badass Longcoat with Cool Shades to hide the fact the host body is dead and starting to decompose around him.
- Dungeons & Dragons (v3.5) held a necromancy spell called "Magic Jar" which allowed a spell caster to possess a Living Bodysuit while the body's original soul was sent to a jewel of a container. Also, Psionic characters held the chance to switch minds or dominate those of their victims, allowing for a Living Bodysuit to be made with a mere thought!
- Ghostwalk is a setting that details on a city of ghosts characters can venture to, and become part of. One type of ghost the characters can choose to be allows for them to possess specific races they choose after gaining the ability.
- There's also a race of creatures called the Tsochar who use meat puppets to pass off for humanoids in order to gain power and control.
- The skinthief, an obscure monster from Ravenloft, invokes this trope by being Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Illithids can make people suits, from humanoids, that give them a bonus on disguise checks.
- World of Darkness: Immortals has a race of humans known as Body Thieves, who could take complete and permanent control of their victims, their last body dying as if through natural causes.
- Vampire: The Requiem has a discipline called Domination, which holds as its highest level of power the ability called "Possession" allowing the vampire in question to transfer his/her mind into the body of any living bodysuit until that body falls unconscious (this can be a serious drawback however, if the vampire uses this ability and doesn't move their own body away from possible exposure to sunlight).
- It's also one of the favourite party tricks of the Seers of the Throne in Mage: The Awakening.
- The Dominate discipline from Vampire: The Masquerade also has the Possession ability. The Animalism discipline has a similar ability that only works on animals.
- Excruciators from Monsters and Other Childish Things have a particularly nasty way of rendering people into a Living Bodysuit. They're bizarre and overly-tentacled monstrosities, so to hide their true nature they literally hollow out a person, then use their (still living and conscious) outer layer as a suit to disguise themselves as human. Oh, and there's no indication in the game that the bodysuit can be saved or returned to normal.
- Frankly to many things in Bleak World, but most notably is the Legion classification of the Experiment Gone Horribly Wrong race. Unlike most Experiments, their prime consciousness is not their original consciousness and is either a demon or a ghost possessing the body.
- Geist was famous for the possession mechanic, as you made everyone your personal costume and disguise.
- The Big Bad is also incorporeal, so it takes over the wheelchair-bound old man heading the corporation which had accidentally released it.
- BioShock's Big Daddies are perhaps literal examples of this trope, as they are made by grafting human organs into a diving suit.
- In Mass Effect, The Reapers can commandeer their mooks and boost their combat abilities significantly. Sovereign can even resurrect Saren's mostly-cybernetic body for this purpose, while Harbinger relies on genetically-engineered mooks.
- An arguably nicer BioWare example is the sweet little girl Wild Flower in Jade Empire. The poor child has two entities battling for supremacy inside her. You end up having to forcibly evict one of them.
- In the H-Game School Mate 2, the female lead accidentally desecrates a shrine to three sisters, who take revenge by possessing her until she performs a series of tasks, all of them sexual, with the assistance of a male acquaintance who was present. Any of them can hijack her body at any time, switching hair, eyes and bust to each character, but they're also capable of manipulating her without taking direct control. In the end it was all an excuse to get the leads hooked up, and enjoy some pleasures of the flesh while they're at it. There was no curse to be broken so they can still seize control, but by that point they have a more cooperative relationship.
- Eddie from Guilty Gear is actually the shadow that Zato-One manipulates for his attacks. However, after a bout of Real Life Writes the Plot following the death of Zato-One's seiyuu, Eddie was made the primary host of the body with Zato-One merely acting as the vessel through which it connects to reality.
- In Alan Wake, the Dark Presence wears the skin of Barbara Jagger to lure Alan and his wife out to her cabin on Diver's Isle, but strangely never drops this disguise even when it becomes obvious what she is. It eventually reveals itself to be a swirling tornado of darkness. This is the closest thing it has to a "true form".
- Impa in The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages gets possessed by Veran in order to sneak into the Oracle's sanctuary with Link. She later controls the Oracle of Ages, Nayru and falls back on controlling Queen Ambi later on. She tries to do this to Link but he dodges her soul effortlessly.
- Soul Hackers:
- Satanael does this to one of your allies. Played for all the horror possible (normal and otherwise) when he bursts out. He doesn't make it all the way out.
- This is also the sad fate of Kaya Daidouji in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, possessed by a descendant of hers in an eventually successful attempt to destroy the timeline leading to the Crapsack World of Shin Megami Tensei I and the spiral of death and horror that ensued.
- Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem has Bonethieves. They like to burrow down people's throats and then control their host's joints directly. The victims are still conscious but are unable to control themselves.
- Kingdom Hearts Gives us Ansem or Xeahnort's Heartless. Not only did he do this to Riku earlier in the game, but he can command his Guardian to temporarily possess Sora ("Submit!"), causing continual damage to the latter and opening him up for a follow up ("Come, open your heart!"). However, this also means the Guardian is not around to block hits for him, so if you're good at avoiding the Guardian's attacks, you can retaliate.
- Super Robot Wars BX: Until Neo Black Dragon recovers from his previous loss at the hands of Knight Gundam, his soul possesses the Zwauth and uses it as an avatar.
- Adventure Time:
- In "The Lich", Finn discovers that Billy is dead and the Lich has been possessing his corpse.
- Jake often uses his elasticity to act as armor for Finn. On one occasion the situation is reversed unwillingly so Jake can control Finn to see how much he can take.
- Whenever the protagonists of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero enter a new dimension they posses the bodies of existing heroes. This process allows them to roam about without being noticed and ensures that the original hero will get credit for saving the day.