Pulling Themselves Together
Mr. Potato Head:
Where's my nose? Mrs. Potato Head:
Here it is. Mr. Potato Head:
Here's your arm. Mrs. Potato Head:
Gimme that. That's mine. Mr. Potato Head:
Honey? The moustache?
An enemy is beaten, blown to pieces, or else frozen/petrified then shattered
. But wait! The pieces are combining! It's reassembling itself! Time to leg it!
This Subtrope of Nigh-Invulnerability
may be greeted with shock, horror and cries of "Why Won't You Die?
!" Not to be confused with From a Single Cell
, where a monster/character regrows itself from a single part instead of reassembling itself from the already existing parts that were blown off. Can be seen as a specific form of Healing Factor
, that manages to avoid the Shapeshifter Baggage
See also Helping Hands
, Losing Your Head
, Who Needs Their Whole Body?
, Appendage Assimilation
and Good Thing You Can Heal
. Cranium Chase
is a subtrope that involves the head. For Dem Bones
, this is a way for them to "heal" from damage
For the intentional combat/utility version see Detachment Combat
Not to be confused with the other kind of pulling yourself together
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- Happens to a minivan in a Liberty Mutual auto insurance ad, after a collision causes the (unoccupied) car to fly apart into dozens of components.
- This happened to Vince and Larry the Crash Test Dummies a lot in a 1980's safety campaign for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Anime & Manga
- Mazinger Z: Several Mechanical Monsters had this capacity (and Dr. Hell perfected the trick every time): Deimos F3 could reassemble itself every time that it was blown apart. Belgas V5 could disassemble and reassemble itself at will, and every body part was weaponized and could attack and fight separately. Briver A3 could reassemble itself every time that it was blown apart, every body part was weaponized, AND the head had greater attack capability that the rest and was better protected.
- In Naruto:
- Sasori does this after being punched to pieces by Sakura, because his body is just a shell that he can reassemble and his heart is the only important part.
- Hidan and Kakuzu are capable of this as well. For Kakuzu, his body mostly consists of black threads that allow him to detach and extend limbs to great distances. For Hidan, he can survive being torn apart but needs Kakuzu to stitch him back together; otherwise decapitation would pretty much render him harmless.
- Orochimaru can do this because apparently his whole body is made of snakes.
- Any physical damage suffered by those brought back to life with Impure World Resurrection is reversed by the pieces coming together like an object made of ash crumbling in reverse. Hence the term "Confetti Zombies"
- In Baccano!, after immortal characters are injured, their blood, flesh, internal organs and bones will start flowing back to their body, ultimately leaving them with no physical damage at all. This works even if the person is on a speeding train and the parts are left smeared on the tracks (eventually). Yikes.
- Dragon Ball Z has a couple of these; Meta Cooler's metallic body can pull itself back together by use of whip-like metallic tendons that sprout from the body parts; Majin Buu takes it to another level by being able to reform himself after being blown into a cloud of atoms, as he's made of a bubblegum-like substance. It's only after every atom is his body is completely vaporized that he is truly defeated. Though in the fight against Vegito, Buu is beaten so badly at one point that he's having visible difficulty putting himself back together.
- Clare, and presumably others of her kind that cannot regenerate limbs outright, have a limited ability to do this if the wound is fresh, the limb is intact, and she has a bit of time to concentrate on making them knit together solidly.
- A better, more recent example is the nigh indestructible Abyssal Eaters.
- Hellsing: Alucard. He's started battles by letting himself be shot to pieces, just to freak people out more when his blood runs back into his body.
- One Piece
- Buggy the Clown ate the Bara Bara no Mi Devil Fruit, that allows him to separate any part of him and levitate it, but also to reasemble himself after doing it or be cut.
- The Logia users can do this too, turning their body into their element and moving it back into them. Aokiji (and Crocodile and Kizaru to a lesser extent) seems to be the best examples of this, as most other logia users just let attacks pass through them without effect rather than actively "pulling themselves together".
- After the Timeskip, it is revealed that Brook can put his bones back together if they are knocked apart.
- Mecha-Mooks Decoe and Bocoe claimed to have done this in Episode 48 of 4Kids's Sonic X. The original Japanese version says Chuck Thorndyke repaired them.
- Chevaliers from Blood+ have been shown to be able to reattach severed limbs and use them normally within a short timespan.
- Nosferatu Zodd from Berserk can reattach his own severed limbs on the rare occasions someone is able to deal that much damage to him.
- Akasha Bloodriver from Rosario + Vampire has this ability, as apparently do all Shinso vampires. Even better, if her body parts are completely destroyed, she's implied to be able to regenerate on a From a Single Cell level.
- Comes to bite Shibugarasu in the ass in InuYasha. After having stolen the Shikon Jewel, which makes demons incredibly strong and allows them to reassemble their bodies when killed, it loses a foot while trying to flee from Kagome and Inuyasha. Even though Kagome is not a good archer by that point and the demon is already way out of reach, she ties the foot to a magic arrow and shoots in the general direction. With the foot trying to reattach itself to the body, the shot is an instant hit. Unfortunately, she blew up the Jewel in doing so, scattering pieces of it across Japan and kick-starting the plot.
- Arcueid Brunestud was able to assemble pieces of her body back together after being killed and torn apart by Shiki in Tsukihime. This process happened off-screen, though. She also used packing tape to do this.
- Doctor Minoru Kamiya in YuYu Hakusho does that to one of his arms when Yusuke shoots part of it off.
- This is done by Giselle Gewelle from Bleach, who nonchalantly reattaches half her side after being nearly split into two.
- Genma from Ninja Scroll is able to re-attach his body parts after they've been sliced off.
- In Spidercide Clone Saga, Spidercide gains this ability after fully awakening his shapeshifting powers.
- In Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan did this after being disintegrated by a lab accident in his origin story. He does it again towards the end.
- X-Men 2099 villain Junkpile does a variation. Though he doesn't heal himself with his own body parts, he repairs damage to his body by pulling metal objects to him telekinetically and using them for raw materials to replace broken or damaged body parts.
- Man-Thing goes through this about once an issue.
- In The Savage Dragon, there was a villain named Abner Cadaver who was a mystic zombie who could sew body parts onto himself. One of his last appearances showed him sewing the body parts of various superhuman in order to do battle with the titular character.
- Subverted in the Obsidian Age story arc of Justice League of America. Plastic Man is frozen and shattered into thousands of pieces which lay scattered on the ocean floor far in the past. He is completely aware, yet unable to pull himself together, and survives in this manner for 3000 years before he is collected and reconstituted by the league in the present time.
- Rom Spaceknight: The mutant human/Dire Wraith hybrid Jimmy Marks can use his considerable Psychic Powers to reconstitute himself after being reduced to molecules.
- The Silver Surfer is capable of doing this, provided there's something capable of cutting him to pieces.
- In a Don Martin Captain Klutz story, the Captain gets ripped to comedic shreds by an enemy. Told literally to "pull himself together", he yanks at one of the wings on his hat and his various pieces all slither back together and reconnect.
- In Cattivik he'll usually do this to himself after being tore apart or destroyed. In a particular episode this happens twice to some mummies. In both cases, the results of their efforts were laughable to say the least.
- Marvel villain Absorbing Man can shatter if he turns himself into some fragile material, but he can also pull the pieces together.
- Little-known Marvel character Terror has the ability to replace parts of his body with those of others, including animals. Good thing too, since his body is constantly rotting away. He can secrete a substance akin to an extremely fast-working digestive enzyme from his skin, which makes tearing off body parts even from still-living people easy. An added perk is that he gains access to memories and skills related to the body parts he assimilates: an eye allows him to see what the original person saw, an arm from an artist can help him draw accurate sketches and so on.
- Judge Dredd: During the "Necropolis" arc, the undead Judge Mortis has his head (which is a sheep's skull) blown off by a group of Academy students he was trying to kill. Within a few seconds the body has reattached the head and continues its pursuit.
Films — Animation
- The Iron Giant can do this to an amazing degree when the ending reveals that even after being blown up in the atmosphere by a nuclear explosion, his countless paperweight-sized pieces can be seen migrating to an unknown location so he can reassemble himself.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas: Sally the ragdoll, whose detachable limbs often fall off at the slightest physical provocation. Fortunately, she carries a sewing kit around with her for that exact reason.
- Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story 2 and 3. For Mr. Potato Head, it becomes something of a Running Gag. May also count as Organ Autonomy.
- In Frozen this seems to be a property of Elsa's Snowlems, as demonstrated by Olaf and Marshmallow. Sure you could fairly easily kick their heads off, split them in half, or toss them off cliffs in pieces, but since all of the pieces remain animated, they could just put themselves back together, as good as new.
Films — Live-Action
- The T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. At one point, it gets a piece of an arm shot off; said piece just liquefies and flows back into its foot. The major example is when, after being frozen with liquid nitrogen and shattered by a bullet, the hundreds of pieces liquefy and it completely reforms. Bonus points for the fact it wasn't in perfect order after reforming, losing control of its shape on occasions. This is made more clear in the extended version.
- Played for laughs in Hot Shots! Part Deux, when Saddam Hussein does that in an obvious homage to T2 and The Fly.
- In The Spirit, this is how The Octopus and The Spirit are revealed to be practically immortal.
- In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the titular army can do this after being smashed to pieces.
- Walt Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks: An animated suit of armor is blown apart by a grenade, quickly re-assembles itself and continues attacking. On YouTube here, starting at 6:45.
- In Dead & Buried, one of the undead locals loses an arm by getting hit by a car. The figure, whose face is not seen, grabs the detached arm from the car's grill and runs off. Later in the film, a shopkeeper is seen using a small brush to apply paint to the area of his own shoulder where the arm was severed, implying that he's re-attached the lost limb and is touching up the seam to conceal any sign that his unhealing, dead flesh was damaged.
- Wolfman pulls himself back together after being blown apart with dynamite in The Monster Squad to show that, yes, only a silver bullet will do the trick.
- In the movie Just Visiting, a medieval knight and his sidekick are accidentally sent to the present time by a cocky/kooky wizard, who goes in after them. In one scene, the wizard's potion goes awry and explodes, tearing him apart (in a non-gory fashion). Just when it seems there is no hope for the displaced knight, behold! — pieces of the wizard (whose body parts have turned into metal for some reason) crawl towards each other and the wizard puts himself back together!
- In Men In Black II, the villainess has captured the damsel and apparently killed her guardians, the worms. J and K find them lying in pieces in their apartment — then they wake up, start grumbling, and drag themselves over to their lower halves to reattach them.
- In Ghost Rider, Johnny blasts Legion apart with a Hellfire-powered shotgun. He just pulls himself back together like nothing happened. It did provide enough of a distraction for Johnny to deliver the finishing blow, though.
- Hector does this in Saturn 3.
- Mentioned, though not seen, in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie. After the Rangers defeat a dinosaur skeleton, Rocky has a Genre Savvy moment and suggests they leave ASAP in case he pulls himself together.
- The Leprechaun does this in the first, fourth, and fifth films.
- Ted Hughes' The Iron Man (on which the The Iron Giant is loosely based) starts this way. The Iron Man walks out of nowhere and falls over a cliff. One hand scuttles about blindly until it finds an eye, then picks up an arm and reassembles the whole body from there.
- Reg Shoe is a zombie, and becomes a member of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch after a career as an undead rights activist. He's repeatedly injured in combat, but can and does sew his parts back together as long as he still has one hand in place.
- In Feet of Clay, the golem Meshugah can do this.
- A vampire photographer in The Truth carries a glass vial of emergency blood on a string around his neck. If he's reduced to dust by the bright light of his camera's flash, the vial falls and breaks, and contact with the blood causes the pile of dust to re-form into a solid body.
- At one point in Soul Music, Death does this. And it's awesome.
- Stephen King's Christine: Both the novel and movie adaptation involves a murderous vintage automobile that can heal itself from ANY damage, via a sort of time reverse power. Even after being crunched under the car crusher, Dennis still has nightmares four years later of Christine finally repairing herself and coming after him for revenge. Just look at the impressive visuals in this clip from the movie on 8:54 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yTcspRQHXo&feature=related
- In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair keeps trying to put his body back after it's been ground to powder, but the pressure keeps up and he eventually dies.
- Colt Regan: Nihil tend to do this unless severely discouraged from doing so.
- In Skulduggery Pleasant, the title living skeleton occasionally loses limbs in combat, and simply pops them back into the joint and carries on. In fact, he had to reassemble himself entirely after his original death/resurrection. Apparently, he's even capable of replacing missing parts with other people's bones, as his current skull is not his own. He does need medical attention if any of the bones are broken or cut, though.
- Darquesse quite literally lost her head in the fight against alternate!Mevolent who beheads her with Godkiller. It took her less than 30 seconds to put it back on again...
- The Dresden Files
- The Denarian Tessa's alternate warrior-form body can rebuild itself if badly damaged by transforming into thousands of tiny mantis-like insects that reform together into the original body.
- In White Night, the blood and ichor from the uberghouls do the same thing.
- Referenced as a joke in one of the Nightside novels, in which Alex books an act by "Mr. Explodo" to entertain his bar patrons. Mr. Explodo explodes on stage, then invokes this trope.
- The vampires in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga can do this if they aren't incinerated after dismemberment. This process is only alluded to in the main novels, but is prominently featured in the novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.
- In Robert E. Howard's The Scarlet Citadel, Tsotha-lanti tells Conan the Barbarian that "if you hack me in pieces, the bits of flesh and bone will reunite and haunt you to your doom! The next moment, Conan cuts off his head. The head remained alive, and the body attempted to recover it. Fortunately, at that moment, a friendly sorcerer took away the head, the body ran after him, and the king was rid of the need to find a solution.
- In the Wild Cards novel Inside Straight, Jonathan Hive is sliced in two by an assassin. Fortunately for him, he's The Worm That Walks and has plenty of practice reintegrating.
- A passing remark in The Lovely Bones: "I was in my heaven by that time, fitting my limbs together." The protagonist is a Posthumous Character whose murderer cut her body up before disposing of it. Evidently this affected her soul (or whatever) as well.
- Across a Billion Years by Robert Silverberg has an Absent-Minded Professor with a bad habit of detaching his limbs when deep in thought or nervousnote . In one comic relief scene he managed to unscrew both his arms and legs simultaneously and needed outside assistance.
- Zaktan is able to do this in BIONICLE. Which is why the writer could easily Retcon his apparent "death". Really, almost any character is capable of doing this if their pieces are still intact and they know the secret of how to rebuild themselves. One of the most memorable instances is in the teaser for the planned game that never made it out, showing Onua spill out of his canister in pieces and assemble himself. Had the game been finished we would have gotten to see such a sequence for each of the original six Toa.
Myths & Religion
- From Egyptian Mythology, the sorcerer Nefrekeptah had to face a serpent both immune to magic and who had this ability as the Final Boss guarding the Book of Thoth. When standard freezing spells didn't work, Nefrekeptah went for the direct approach and cut of the serpent's head, and threw it far into the river. However, the head came back almost instantly and blocked his path again. Nefrekeptah again cut off its head, threw it into the river, and this time put sand on the neck before the head could come back. The head couldn't reattach, and though the serpent couldn't die, it just lay there, helpless.
- Similar to the above example, the English folk tale of the Lambton Worm and the Scottish story of Michael Scott both feature serpents who can bring themselves together again. In the former, if the snake is fought mid-stream and then hacked to pieces, it cannot re-form. In the latter, the middle section of the snake has to be taken and cooked for it to remain dead.
- Necrons in Warhammer 40,000 are known to do this, sometimes even reforming after being reduced to molten slag.
- In Warhammer the Great Necromancer Nagash did this after his body was chopped into pieces, burned to ashes, taken in several containers far away from each other, and scattered to the winds. The process took over a thousand years though, and his hand, which wasn't burned because it crawled away after being severed, never returned to him.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Trolls, and anything with regeneration, can reattach body parts, including heads if they have a spare.
- Lebendtod from Ravenloft don't regenerate, but these undead can remove and re-attach their heads or limbs at will. An anecdote in their 3E monster description tells how a necromancer sent several boxes of loose body parts to a rival's home; once inside, the parts re-assembled themselves and the lebendtod attacked.
- Some skeletal undead have been depicted with the ability to reassemble themselves, in various D&D editions and Dragon articles. One type of skeleton, once several are knocked to pieces, even combine their bits into a bigger, more dangerous monster.
- Mach Rider, of NES fame.
- The protagonist of the freeware game And Yet It Moves.
- Final Fantasy VII - The "Reunion", a mysterious signal beckoning those who are injected with Jenova's cells. This is actually how Jenova, an extraterrestrial creature, puts itself back together after being disassembled. The various test subjects Cloud meets throughout the game - mostly homeless men who were driven insane from the lab trials - all assemble at the North Crater, as they carry Jenova's cells. Professor Hojo postulates the "JENOVA Reunion Theory" in his notes.
- The zombie robots from the game Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. Using the tether to bodyjack an enemy robot causes Glitch to have to do this afterwards. One Boss Fight also requires you to do this to yourself to escape an impossible situation.
- It seems a lot of skeletal enemies do this trick when defeated:
- The Dry Bones in Super Mario Bros..
- The Bony Beetle, if you stomp on it. (However, its regenerating qualities can be exploited for extra lives if they're underwater; as long as you don't touch the floor, the invisible stomp counter won't reset.)
- The Stalfos in The Legend of Zelda do this in some of the games. It necessitates either defeating all of them quickly, or blowing up their collapsed bodies with bombs.
- The skeletons in Prince of Persia 2.
- The red skeletons and red armors from Castlevania.
- The Recapitator enemies in Wario Land Shake It. Lucky, considering they throw their head as a boomerang to attack.
- Ultima VIII skeletons are incredibly fast and powerful, and if you somehow manage to put one down... you've not got long before it's back on its feet at full strength. Options are to throw it in a lake first, or just use a necromantic spell to put it down for good. IX's much weaker skeletons will also pull themselves together shortly after defeat, though you can prevent this by picking up one of the parts, such as the skull (preventing it from rejoining the group). For added fun, collect a full skeleton then drop the bones in a populated city.
- In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Luigi has to fight Greenies possessing suits of armor in the Treacherous Mansion; in most cases, he has to defeat them by knocking them over, causing the armor to break apart and making the ghost vulnerable. However, in the Boss Battle with the Tough Possessor later, it can possess two - and then three - suits of armor at once, and if Luigi knocks only one down, it will put itself together quickly. To make the Tough Possessor vulnerable, he has to knock them all down at the same time. (Unfortunately, once he manages to do that twice, it possesses one gigantic suit of armor...
- With high enough Marksman skill, the Skeletons in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will shatter, only to come back together as if nothing had happened; in this case it's a (possibly unintentional) side effect of the game using the same animation for paralysis and death.
- Some World of Warcraft bosses do this, most notably the Bonus Boss Viscidus from Ahn'Qiraj and the water elemental boss from Violet Hold. In both cases, they are Nigh Invulnerable while in their normal form — the objective is to shatter them and then kill the pieces.
- Trailers for Portal 2 have shown GLaDOS's mainframe and the entire Enrichment Center itself repairing and reassembling themselves, presumably years or decades after they were destroyed and overgrown with plantlife.
- For a player example, some of the hazards and enemies in Loco Roco can split Locoroco up into several pieces. However, a bit of "Noi! Cheburatta roi!" and they're back together in no time.
- Never Dead is about an immortal demon hunter. The character is often dismembered through enemy attacks, only for him to literally put himself back together.
- The Hunter, a recurring boss from Dead Space is capable of both of this and regenerating its limbs. It's not as perfect as some of the other examples, though, but the only ways to stop it are freezing it solid and burning to a crisp with a rocket engine.
- In Space Quest 6, the endodroid can pull the same stunt as the T-1000. Just don't let it happen around Roger.
- Ms. Fortune from Skullgirls.
- In Brain Dead 13, Lance does this in miraculous ways in some scenes whenever he loses a limb, like his hand or his head. Heck, there's even one resurrection scene that has the pieces of his body falling on top of each other and reconnecting him if he dies in the confrontation with Fritz.
- The boss Earthwake can do this in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (after it's knocked into the water by Luigi's hammer attack). It also takes itself apart when chasing Giant Luigi across the battle arena or using things like its hammer or forcefield attack. Considering this thing has Raymanian Limbs and is made of about twenty seperate buildings, this isn't particularly difficult for it to do.
- In My Sims Kingdom, T.O.B.O.R. is strewn across Rocket reef by the explosion of the rocket he was test-piloting. While you have to gather every part to where his head is, once you do so, he pulls himself together in a tornado of assembly, slightly better for wear, but unwilling to risk being caught in another explosion.
- This is the central gimmick behind Never Dead: The protagonist is immortal and has a Healing Factor but is not immune to having limbs or his head shot off, so you have to eventually collect your missing parts in order to remain useful in combat — although each part remains functional in the meantime; for instance, amputated arms can still fire the guns they're holding.
- Jazzpunk features a robot who can spontaneously fall apart on cue and then un-fall-apart.
- An inanimate object example: in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time you can use your sword to slice wooden signs to pieces, then play Zelda's Lullaby on your ocarina to cause the pieces to float up, reattach themselves, and reconstitute the sign.
- The much hated Rasklapanje from Resident Evil 6 was not only Nigh Invulnerable, could follow you anywhere, and could pull itself back together in very short order, but it's dismembered torso, legs, and hands could all chase after you independant of one another before they decided to recombine.
- Nova does that in one Keychain of Creation strip.
- Schlock of Schlock Mercenary, being a Carboscilicate Amorph, can "pull himself together" if he gets blown apart or if someone steps on him. Which is fortunate, since it happens a lot given that he's incapable of wearing armor for protection. He has to be a bit careful with this trick, though. Difficult to pull oneself together when one is split up, then carefully picked up and put in sixty separate plastic bags....
- Looking for Group has a Town with a Dark Secret where all the villagers have this ability. Good thing, too, once you realize who the mayor is.
- The demon K'Z'K from Sluggy Freelance pulls this trick after Bun-Bun runs him through a meat grinder.
- Elijah And Azuu has Legion, which repairs damage done to their possessed host simply by tying wounds closed with the host's own veins and sinew.
- In Rusty and Co., the vampire does this, though Madeline can still manage to annoy it, and Cube figures out a way to use it against her.
- Majin Buu from Dragon Ball Multiverse.