Raised as a Host

A character is raised with the specific purpose of having their body taken over by another person or entity. If they know what their intended fate is they are usually passively accepting of it and have little sense of self beyond it, since it's all they have ever known. It's particularly sick if the person intending to take them over is a member of their own family, in which case this may have happened multiple times. Generations-long instances of this or cases where someone's bloodline has been tampered with to make them an ideal host can also overlap with Super Breeding Program and Breeding Cult.

Usually these characters receive all the material goods and care they need to stay healthy and be the best possible host body, but it's at best a Gilded Cage. The people who look after these characters are usually discouraged from forming any attachments to them, to the point the host may not even get a proper name, or are referred to as a number if there's more than one of them. Especially since if a caretaker does get attached there's a good chance they'll attempt to save their charge rather than let them be taken over. As such, characters like this who manage to escape are usually in hiding and have no idea who they really are, at least before the story forces them to confront their pasts. As such, this is often part of The Reveal and thus spoilers abound in the examples below.

Compare Willing Channeler, where a character allows themselves to be possessed. Can be a Body Backup Drive, if the backup body in question is specifically another living person. A Walking Transplant is thematically related, but with individual organs rather than whole bodies being the reason for keeping them around.

In order to qualify, a character must have been raised for this since at least early childhood, if not from birth.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Magi – Labyrinth of Magic, Arba has been jumping from mother to daughter for at least three generations. In order to have a vessel that matched her soul she'd have at least one daughter in every incarnation, though it's shown she can possess a son too if she gets too desperate. She mostly acts like a kind mother on the surface but threatens and emotionally manipulates her children if they don't fall in line, with the implication that this is to keep them compliant and close to her so she can do the switch if she has to.
  • Reito Kanzaki, aka Reito Minagi in Mai Hi ME is this to The Obsidian Lord, and officially becomes his host near the end of the series. It's implied his family has been serving this role for centuries in previous iterations of the HiME Carnival.
  • In Soul Eater, Giriko has been living in the same village for 800 years and having children that he encodes his memories and soul into and then takes over to stay alive. He's done this a total of 31 times and has manipulated the entire village into serving his purposes. Near the end of the story he runs out of suitable sons and is forced to take over a daughter, a fact he's not happy about.
  • In Kyoukara Maou!, Yuri is found out to be created for the main purpose of being a vessel for the main villian.
  • In Astra Lost in Space, pretty much all of the main cast were being raised as replacement bodies for one of their parents.

    Literature 
  • In Animorphs, a book that explored what Earth would be like if the Yeerks won featured a scene describing facilities where humans are selectively bred and then strictly raised for hosts. This isn't typical of the Yeerks, but the fact that the human population is so massive compared to the Yeerks allows them to be choosy on what particular individual is desirable and which isn't.
  • In The Dresden Files, a particular lineage of women are raised to eventually become the host of the Archive, the repository of the entirety of the written word. This is normally done in adulthood so the woman will have enough life experience and a personal identity to not be subsumed by the Archive. The current Archive, nicknamed Ivy by Harry, is a preteen because her grandmother was killed in an accident and her mother was unable to handle having the Archive and committed suicide when Ivy was an infant. Growing up with a wealth of human knowledge from nearly birth often lends Ivy a Creepy Child vibe when acting as the Archive.
  • The Old Kingdom: In the fourth book, Goldenhand, Ferin was raised as a possible host for the Witch With No Face (Chlorr of the Mask) and given the best training, education and care possible. "Ferin" isn't even a proper name, but what she decides to call herself when she's sent to deliver an important message since she was always just called "The Offering". All the tribes that swear fealty to Chlorr practice this, and if the girl isn't chosen by the time she's 17 she is sacrificed instead to return the bit of Chlorr's power that she puts into each girl back to her. One of her flashbacks shows her tribe being reverent but distant to her, since one way or another they know they'll lose her.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, this is illegal everywhere but the planet Jackson's Whole, where they routinely create clone-donors for the ultra-rich to transplant their brains into. Miles Vorkosigan's clone-brother Mark was created on Jackson's Whole for another reason, but he was raised in the creche with the donors, and is now obsessed with ending the practice by any means necessary, which drives the plot of the tenth book, Mirror Dance.

    Live Action Television 
  • In the TNG to VOY era of Star Trek, for a Trill to become a host of their native planet's symbiote is a great honor. It is a coveted position, and Trill train hard from a young age to be able to pass the extremely exclusive selection process. Even after acceptance, they receive several years of additional training. This is an unusual positively portrayed example, as the host retains their own mind and inherits the symbiote's memories instead of being fully taken over. The only major rule the joined Trills have to follow is they cannot enter into an intimate relationship with a person they previously had relations with, to prevent the symbiote from reliving the old life. This is in effect even if two joined Trills were together until death and it is several iterations of hosts since then, the symbiote hosts are forbidden from getting close again. Breaking this law means the symbiote will not be transferred into a new host upon the death of the current one.
  • Supernatural: In season 5 it is revealed that Sam and Dean Winchester's parents Mary and John were coupled on Heaven's directive through a cupid. The Winchester bloodline goes back to Cain and Abel and gives them the ability to be hosts for the Archangels Michael and Lucifer in preparation for their final fight on Earth once the Apocalypse has begun. Naturally, Sam and Dean rebel.

    Roleplay 
  • Lilith Nightstar, the Scion of Free Will from For The Spirit Of Creation, was raised by a Nihl-worshipping cult to be a vessel for the Enslaver, but when Emerald Mira, a magical girl who befriended her, sacrificed herself to allow Lilith to break free of the Enslaver's control, she resolved to honor her by fighting for Creation, and is now the Enslaver's fiercest enemy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Eberron, the "Empty Vessels" are a group of psionic human families with minor elven and fiendish blood, bred to receive No Saving Throw against possession from a specific member of the quori race. It's also implied that, before the construction of the ovoid monoliths, quori could only possess Empty Vessels (in the present day they can possess any willing creature).

    Video Games 
  • In Diablo III, Leah was born from the union of Prince Aidan, who was possessed by Diablo at the time, and the Witch Adria, imbuing the infant with part of Diablo's essence. The entire thing ended up being one of Diablo's many contingency plans, providing him a host to inhabit should he be slain. Leah was not raised by Adria specifically, her time being spent carrying out the other part of the Evil Plan involving the Black Soulstone, but it was Adria's intention for Leah all along, which she carried out in one of the cruelest betrayals of the entire series.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Morrigan finds one of her mother Flemeth's grimoires and after reading it comes to fear that this is her mother's intention with her, since Flemeth has apparently been raising her daughters, teaching them magic and then taking over their bodies when her own gets to be too old. Exactly how true this is remains ambiguous, since another of Flemeth's daughters named Yavana from The Silent Grove calls Flemeth's possession as "a gift" and refers to it positively, though it's not entirely certain if she had gone through the entire process.
    • Morrigan's own son was deliberately conceived in a magical ritual to host the Archdemon Urthemiel's soul, which is why Morrigan joined the party in the first place since the father had to be a Grey Warden. Unlike Flemeth, Morrigan is shown to unambiguously love her now-10-year-old son Kieran when he's introduced in Inquisition, and he has his own soul as well as Urthemiel's with the two effectively Sharing a Body if the ritual was performed. Otherwise he's just a normal boy.
  • Several examples from the Fire Emblem series:
    • Julius, the Evil Redhead prince from Fire Emblem Jugdral, was specifically bred to be the host of the evil dragon Loptyr, with the leader of the Loptyr cult Manfroy going so far as to trick Arvis and Deirdre, who were actually half-siblings but didn't know it, into marrying each other specifically so Julius would possess the required bloodlines.
    • Robin, the player character from Fire Emblem Awakening, was intended to be this by the cult run by their father Validar, who was part of a long line who had been specifically breeding themselves to host the Fell Dragon Grima, but their mother ran away with the baby rather than have this happen.
  • Mega Man ZX Advent: Grey, one of the main characters is revealed to be his for Master Albert. Specifically, he is DAN-003, one of Albert's creations, who he intents to put his will, knowledge and plans into, in the form of Biometal Model A(lbert), in case he somehow fails to finish his plan or see its fruition. Unfortunately for Albert, DAN-003 was forcibly awakened from his brainwashing process, causing him to gain a will and, after finding the truth, get driven to stop Albert.
  • A recurring theme in the Nasuverse:
    • Ciel from Tsukihime is the seventeenth in a long line of spare bodies prepped by a vampire wizard named Michael Roa Valdamjong in his plan for Born-Again Immortality. When Ciel was sixteen, Roa took over her body, but was quickly hunted down and banished by Arcueid. Unlike the previous sixteen hosts, however, Ciel somehow managed to survive the ordeal, realized she couldn't actually die as long as Roa was still around because they were still technically the same person, and dedicated her life to hunting Roa, as well, which is when Shiki meets her in the story proper.
    • Sakura Matou from Fate/stay night was raised by her grandfather Zouken as a future host for his own spirit, as well as for that of the powerful otherworldly entity named Angra Mainyu. It's revealed much later that Sakura was actually adopted, since the Matous had undergone Generational Magic Decline to the point none of Zouken's actual relatives were suitable.
    • Also from Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero, Illyasviel von Einzbern and her mother Irisviel are Artificial Humans created for the sole purpose of holding the Great Grail within their bodies. They are all copies of Justeaze, the original homunculus at the core of the original Grail who first devised the Holy Grail War centuries ago. They are effectively Justeaze's reincarnations and have access to her memories, and she can even speak through them on occasion. The fact that all of the Eizbern homunculi are much Younger Than They Look and arenote  Born as an Adult helps their family members avoid getting attached to them, since Irisviel already looked like a full grown woman and had a daughter of her own by the age of 9.
  • Several in the Street Fighter series, due to M. Bison's habit of preparing backup bodies for himself.
    • Seth of Street Fighter IV was created as a one of hundreds of spare bodies for M. Bison, but rebelled against his original purpose and is determined to not give up his personhood, to the point of even starting his own evil organization and attempting to usurp Bison's position when he "died". He also has no soul so Bison will have an easier time taking him over, but this ironically saves his life in the UDON comics during his fight with Akuma, since Akuma's Shun Goku Satsu has no effect on him.
    • From the same game, Abel is considerably more human looking than his "brother" Seth and has no idea who he is at the start of the game, since he was found by someone who's strongly implied to be Charlie Nash with no memory of who he was, and his story arc is a Quest for Identity where he eventually finds this out.
    • And from Street Fighter V, Ed is yet another cloned body of Bison. He undergoes Rapid Aging during the course of the story from a young child to an adult man.
  • Tales of Symphonia:
    • Colette Brunel has been taught since she was born that as The Chosen One it's her destiny to sacrifice her life and humanity for the sake of becoming an angel, and as a result sees her life as only being worth what she can do for others and has an extreme martyr complex. Except that's not what she's actually intended for at all, since her bloodline has been carefully selected for by Cruxis to make her an ideal host body for Martel, the deceased sister of Mithos, who wants to bring her back to life. Eventually Colette willingly allows Martel to speak through her, at which point Martel rips her brother a new one for all the pain he's caused trying to resurrect her, which drives him even further over the edge.
    • Zelos Wilder is the product of the same system on the connected world of Tethe'alla and has many of the same hangups that Colette does, with the added stress that his parents didn't even like each other and only married because Cruxis told them to and both actually loved other people. He heavily resents his position because of what it did to his family and retreats behind a Stepford Smiler mask that only begins to crack as he travels with the party.
  • In X Com 2, Avatars are vat-grown, non-sentient, genetically perfected humans who are raised solely to become the new bodies of the Ethereals, whose natural bodies are in an advanced state of decay. At the end of the game XCOM has stolen both an Avatar prototype and the data to complete it, plus a human/psionic interface suit and the one human known to have survived the strain of a heavy psionic connection; so they build their own Avatar, who would then be remotely controlled by the Commander during the last mission.

    Web Original 
  • Discussed in Plumbing the Death Star, where they say that the natural consequence of the Freaky Friday universe is that every parent would raise children so that the parents could cause a "Freaky Friday" Flip, and then never learn the moral necessary to undo the body swap. This would effectively give the parent eternal life, so long as they keep having kids, switching bodies, and letting the kid they switched bodies with die of old age early.

    Webcomics 
  • In Girl Genius, it's heavily implied that Lucrezia meddled with her unborn child's genetics to make them a better vessel for her mind at a later date — supporting the theory is the fact that the child in question is Agatha Heterodyne, a rare female Spark (mad scientist) in a family of mostly-male Sparks. Agatha was being raised as a host in a commune of warrior-women who worshiped her mother as a living goddess, but she was rescued by her uncle while still a young child.
  • Homestuck has Doc Scratch who wasn't raised, per se (he pretty much sprang into existence, fully formed), but his entire reason for existing is to prepare a universe for the arrival of his master Lord English. At which point he dies, his body breaks open like an egg, and his master emerges from inside. Scratch even foreshadows this by referring to himself several times as "an excellent host".
  • Princess Tonbo from Kagerou is the destined host of the Goddess Tcaolin, and was discouraged from even using her hands to keep the body in pristine condition. She underwent the possession ritual prior to the start of the story but ended up sending her soul away when she was captured, and the bond between her and Tcaolin first weakens then breaks completely.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RaisedAsAHost