"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but
really loves you, then you become Real."
When one or more characters invest a lot of love and energy into an inanimate object, it comes to life in response thanks to The Power of Love
. It's usually a Pinocchio
type situation where it's still not an organic, living being, but it's now animate in the Living Toy
talking furniture" sense. Living Toys
usually have this as the backstory for why they're, well, living
toys. Usually the newly animated object doesn't need more love in a Gods Need Prayer Badly
sort of way, but they all usually reciprocate the feeling of love with their "parent" and would be saddened if they stopped being loved (or worse, were treated as freaks for being alive).
The now living object/person may want to Become a Real Boy
, but usually doesn't suffer from all-out Pinocchio Syndrome
. In some cases the newly living object/person stays on the level of Empathic Weapon
, never outright sapient, but now a character in their own right.
Compare Spontaneous Generation
. See also A Boy and His X
(this trope being what creates the X).
Anime and Manga
- This is used in The Cat Returns. The slightly inappropriately named Cat Bureau is where all the creations of artists who were dearly loved come to life when the sun goes down.
- This is, at least partially, how the dolls of Rozen Maiden come to life and stay that way.
- This is what Oz's sin is in Pandora Hearts. Originally he was just a pair of stuffed rabbit dolls brought to the Abyss by Lacie to keep the Core of Abyss company. However, her daughter, Alice and her twin, Alyss find Oz and he is gradually brought to life through their emotions. His body is destroyed when he brings a piece of Lacie's memories to Jack, and he is later turned into a Hair-Raising Hare known to all the world as B-rabbit. Somehow, he forgot all of these memories when Alice took his body and his powers and he settled in Jack's body.
- The movie May spends its third act with the titular May assembling a "friend" named Amy out of the most beautiful body parts of people she knows. After she plucks out her own eye it moves an arm to stroke her face. Given May's state of mind at this point, it is debatable as to whether Amy really has come to life, or if it is merely a hallucination.
- This is played for Horror in the Czech movie Little Otik.
- In The Love Bug, it was implied that this was how Herbie (the eponymous car) developed a mind of his own.
- The premise of The Velveteen Rabbit: The boy loves his rabbit toy so much that he regards it as not just a toy, but real. And, in the end, it is.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love he states that love is the reason a computer goes from merely extremely powerful to A.I. It "comes alive" because someone loves it (rather him/her, that's part of the reason, treating the computer as more than "it").
- Pauline Clarke's Return of the Twelves is about the (actual) Napoleonic Wars wood soldiers owned by the Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell. In Real Life the kids endowed the "Young Men" with individual personalities, created an enormous paracosm for their adventures and wrote countless stories, novels, poems and plays about them. The delicious concept in this novel is that the Young Men were brought to life by this loving attention. They are discovered by children in the 1960s, still alive, active and ornery as ever.
- In Doris Orgel's A Certain Magic, twelve-year-old Trudl has been sent from Nazi-occupied Austria to England alone and aching for her family and her dolls. Her host family's snobbish daughter has an exquisite doll called Felicity. In her diary Trudl writes a beautiful story about bringing Felicity to life and taking her on secret adventures. Years later when Trudl's niece Jenny reads Trudl's diary, she goes to enormous lengths to locate the family and the doll.
- There is an episode of Doctor Who with a scientist who thought he was real, but was actually a robot with a bomb in his chest. To stop the bomb, the Doctor needed to trigger human emotions in him to "prove to the universe" that he wasn't just a robot. The Doctor tries appealing to his sense of pain and loss. It fails, mystifying the Doctor. Fortunately his companion steps in and takes the Love approach. It works.
- Also happens in Doctor Who during the 11th Doctor when Amy Pond's love for Rory alters reality and turns him from a robot version of himself into a real version.
Religion and Philosophy
- In the poet Ovid's The Metamorphoses, one of his poems tells the story of Pygmalion and Galatea. Pygmalion was a sculptor who creates a beautiful ivory statue called Galatea. He falls in love with the statue, and eventually Venus brings her to life for him. Bonus points that it's literally love that brings her to life, since it was Venus who did it.
- Animism is based around the concept that every object has a soul, and that some objects "gain" more "power' by being closely affiliated with another thing or entity. For example, a rock flowing down a river will have its "soul" intertwined with that of the water. A human who comes to heavily rely on weapon will have their souls become almost one, and so on.
- The Arc Words of Umineko: When They Cry are "Without love, it cannot be seen." Although those words come to mean several things over the course of the series, one of them is the way in which magic can be used to create furniture. This is most seen in Maria's (and Rosa's) creation of Sakutaro. However, it takes on a particularly cruel meaning in Yasu's creation of Shannon, Kanon, and Beatrice.
- In Sugar Bits, Ginger tried to make a gingerbread man many times so she could show it to her ill mother. Each time, the gingerbread man was nothing more than an ordinary cookie. When she asked her mother why they wouldn't come to life, her mother explained that gingerbread men only come to life if they are baked with love. Taking the lesson to heart, Ginger was finally able to bake a living gingerbread man: the main character Hansel.
- In Frosty's Winter Wonderland, this is how Crystal comes to life. It is also how Frosty comes back to life after Jack Frost blows off his hat.