Marionette Motion
"Time for your daily pipe bath!"

This is when a robot, Clockwork Creature, golem, undead, mind controlled or other human-sized and -shaped entity moves as if it were a puppet on a string. In the process, it defies the laws of anatomy and gravity by bending in unnatural ways and floating... all without strings. Alternately, it might move like a broken animatronic robot, as if its insides had less articulation than a 3-inch G.I. Joe figure. As the picture shows, it's usually used for horror stories because it is just (un)naturally creepy. To accentuate the eerie motion, camera tricks like jitters, Slow Motion and speeding up may be used. Ghostly Glide may also be used to suggest invisible strings suspending the figure in question.

Compare Limp and Livid. Contrast Zombie Gait, which while similar is actually more fluid. For the art of rag dolling, see contortionist.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Animation 
  • Linguini on Ratatouille, because he is literally being moved like a marionette. A rat riding inside his chef's hat controls him by tugging on his hair.
  • Jan Švankmajer 's films own this page!
  • Mr. Clipboard from Food Fight! moves like this to such a ridiculous degree that JonTron refused to comment on it during his review out of fear that he might have a disability.
  • In a rare heroic example, both Jack Skellington and Sally Patches from The Nightmare Before Christmas have very spidery, spooky motions. Jack in particular tends to crouch and crawl around a lot.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Among other tricks such as choreography, in the film adaptation of Silent Hill the eerie, jittery movements of the nurses were done by the actresses walking backward. The footage was later reversed.
  • In MirrorMask, the Uncanny Valley box mannequins have this. So very much. And to the tune of "Close to You", no less.
  • When the... thing in Splinter controls bodies, this is how they move.
  • The Boss Battle in Stardust features a very well-done duel with a magically animated dead swordsman who moves this way.
  • The android Ash does this when hit over the head in Alien.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors had this with one of it's victims, who was being controlled as a marionette by Freddy in his dreams.
  • Mama has this with both Mama, and the younger sister Lily.
  • Ultron does this in Avengers: Age of Ultron when he uses the body of a robot of the Iron Legion that was heavily damaged earlier in the film. Also counts as Rule of Symbolism as Ultron sees the Avengers as "puppets tangled in strings".
  • In The remake of House on Haunted Hill (1999), undercranking accompanied by deliberately slow movements resulted in a jerky style for the ghosts (particularly Vannacutt) that plunged them into the Uncanny Valley.
  • In The Gamer, the Big Bad leads himself and several mind-controlled mooks in a marionette dance to mock Gerard Butler's character for his lack of autonomy.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music Videos 
  • Rihanna's "Disturbia" music video.
  • The "evil clowns" in Pink's music video for "Funhouse".
  • In the Talking Heads music video "Once in a Lifetime", David Byrne's dance is about halfway between a marionette and an epileptic fit.
  • This style of dancing is used by a lot of k-pop artists, but a particularly memorable example can be seen in 2PM's music video for "Heartbeat" in which the members utilize the style of broken-body dancing to show how their hearts are being controlled by a scornful girl and how they are helpless to stop it. At a few points in the dance, they are even shown as being controlled by one of their own.
    • Also, B.A.P's debut single "Warrior" has the members move this way when they are being controlled by Zelo. At the end of the video, they even surround him in Marionette Motion and shoot him dead.
    • Expression Crew's Marionette performance is also a notable example as the crew members wear masks during it, hence making them seem even more puppet-like. The dancers "pulling the strings" are also typically dressed in white clothes, making them stand out against the "puppets".
  • The music video for *NSYNC's "Bye Bye Bye" featured the boys being manipulated like marionettes by the young woman with whom they are presumably breaking up. The resulting marionette motion is incorporated into their dancing.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In the Lucha Underground promo where Catrina taunted Fenix about the imminent return of Mil Muertes, the Disciples of Death also made their debut- three skull-masked figures perched above Fenix on top of the lockers, moving in this eerie, jerky manner. It produced the distinct impression that not only might these guys not be your average luchadors, they may not even be human!

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: The result of Screaming Mantis using her weapon on people.
  • The various nurses in the Silent Hill franchise (and quite a few monsters besides, for that matter).
  • Appropriately enough, the Marionettes in Devil May Cry, who even still have strings on their limbs.
  • Some of the more humanoid-shaped Nobodies in Kingdom Hearts II move this way.
  • This is briefly encountered in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess during the portion where you must navigate the Lost woods. The Skull Kid unleashes groups of actual man-sized marionettes on you which move in this way to attack you.
  • Possessed Humans act like this in Ghostbusters: The Video Game, coupled with Glowing Eyes of Doom and Ghostly Glide.
  • The lurching of the ghost people in Fallout: New Vegas would qualify. They lurch about as described due to their flesh being fused to their heavily stiffened hazmat suits.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation