Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can
So there is some cosmic being locked away so that it cannot interfere with the outside world. Some sort of powerful being... Good, evil, or neither, it doesn't matter. But this time, they didn't lock away the being in a magical jar of some sort. Rather, they somehow managed to bind the thing into the body of a person. A person who may, or may not, be aware that they are carrying around some dangerous being within them. Unleashing the cosmic being usually results in the "can" either dying or being subsumed into it, or killing the "can" results in the destruction of the being. Occasionally causes a Battle in the Center of the Mind. Occasionally results in a Superpowered Evil Side, for the evil, neutral and Knight Templar examples. Reincarnation may be involved. A Subtrope of Sealed Evil in a Can, Sealed Good in a Can, and Sealed Badass in a Can. Contrast Grand Theft Me. Compare MacGuffin Girl and Treasure Chest Cavity. See also Restraining Bolt. Evil beings sealed this way are almost always a Leaking Can of Evil.
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Anime & Manga
- Naruto: The Jinchriki are people who have tailed demons sealed inside them. They include the title character, Naruto, Gaara of the Desert, and Killer Bee (who contain the Nine-Tailed Fox, the One-Tailed Shukaku, and the Eight-Tailed Ox, respectively). Removing the tailed beast typically kills the host within minutes after the fact, and if the host dies with the beast still sealed inside it then it can take the beast some time to reform. As a result, the beasts grant their hosts supernatural power both to avoid pseudo-death and to weaken the seal. It's worth noting that being sealed in a human makes them more dangerous. Most Bijuu (Tailed Beast(s)) simply avoid humans and, due to their size and power, have little need for strategy. Jinchūriki can access their power and utilize years of training to focus it more effectively. Though, as the Eight-Tails and Nine-Tails have shown, they're quite capable of learning to use tactics. And of acting like tag-team partners with their Jinchriki.
- Listing Fairy Tail as a trope here is a ridiculously major spoiler in and of itself - but here's the idea anyway: The first-generation dragon-slayers contain the dragons that disappeared!
- Teito Klein, the protagonist of 07-Ghost, is Pandora's Box... and imprisoned inside Pandora's Box is the death god Verloren.
- The main premise of Bastard: a boy named Rushe Renren nontains within him the spirit of one of the most powerful sorcerers of all time, the infamous Exploder Wizard... Dark Schneider!
- Rezo's eyes are a can for Shabranigdo.
- Gaav, the Demon Dragon King was sealed in a human. The seal leaked, and it might be said that it leaked both ways, since this is what caused Gaav to revolt against the other demon lords in the first place. A common fan theory goes that the gods knew Humanity Is Infectious, and chose to imprison defeated demons in familial lines of people specifically as a failsafe, so that the Always Chaotic Evil would be diluted out over the generations.
- In the series' backstory and novel series, Lei Magnus and Luke are people-shaped cans for pieces of Shabranigdo. Since Shabby was split into seven pieces, we can assume that there are four others like them that we don't know about.
- Sailor Moon:
- Prince Endymion tries to do this with Metaria near the end of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon but she ends up possessing him instead, causing Sailor Moon to have to kill him.
- In Sailor Moon proper, Sailor Galaxia sealed Chaos inside herself to protect the universe from it, but ended up turning evil from its influence instead.
- Shakugan no Shana:
- A major plot-point is that Artifacts of the Crimson World are often hidden inside 'Torches', who are sort of like temporary simulacra of people killed by Crimson Lords and placed to make their disappearance unnoticeable.
- The Flame Hazes, concerning their "masters". If they were to get out of their host, the Flame Haze will explode and die.
- Hell Teacher Nube has a demon who tried to kill him in his childhood sealed into his left hand by his mentor Minako.
- In My Balls, there is a powerful demon sealed in the main character's left testicle.
- In Sorcerer Hunters, the main character Carrot has the God of Destruction sealed within him.
- In InuYasha Second Movie: The Castle Beyond the Looking-Glass, Kohaku is revealed to have Naraku sealed within a scar on his back.
- Bleach: Urahara didn't know how to destroy the Hougyoku so he placed it inside the soul of a spirit being (Rukia). By forcing Rukia to undergo a transformation into an ordinary, physical human, the Hougyoku would be forever sealed. It's strongly implied he actually did this to bait Aizen into revealing his true face since Aizen was forced into the open to recover the Hougyoku before Rukia fully transformed. Aizen eventually fuses completely with the Hougyoku. There's no known way to separate them which makes Aizen almost unkillable. As a result, Aizen has been sealed for 20,000 years in Soul Society's most powerful prison.
- The warrior Tapion and his little brother in one of the Dragon Ball Z movies had half of a beast each sealed inside them, and in turn they were sealed inside a magical music box, a wizard kills Tapion's little brother and frees the other half from Tapion himself, and Tapion is soon unsealed as well and ends up in Earth. In the end Goku manages to kill the beast without trapping it, which frees Tapion forever so he can live his life as he sees fit.
- Nia Teppelin from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a sleeper for the anti-spiral.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Touma's body contains... something that is more powerful than a guy who was more powerful than God. Touma's right hand, Imagine Breaker normally keeps it in check. It escaped a few times, whenever an enemy severed Touma's hand, though Touma is able to reabsorb it through force of will and then regrow his arm.
- From The World God Only Knows, The Weiss (who enter a gap in the host heart) and the Goddesses (who feed on The Power of Love).
- Rosario + Vampire both plays this trope straight and inverts it. Inner Moka remains sealed by the rosary she wears, but she's the original, and Outer Moka is an artificial personality, so she's effectively sealed inside her own body.
- In Defense Devil, Idamaria's body contains the goddess of Hell.
- In Sasami Magical Girls Club, the "cauldron" holding all the witches' negative emotions turns out to be an actual person, as the negative emotions were too powerful to be held by anything other than a pure heart.
- In Tokyo Mew Mew, Masaya Aoyama was created specifically as a can for alien entity Deep Blue.
- In Deadman Wonderland, the Red Man AKA the Bad Egg is sealed inside Shiro. This isn't a case of possession or split personality of any sort, though it initially looks this way and Shiro intentionally makes it seem like that's what it is; while it may seem like her ditzy Genki Girl persona is the "real" one, she's just putting up a front and spending as much time with Ganta as she can before it all goes to hell.
- High School D×D: Draig, the Welsh dragon is sealed inside the protagonist, Issei. Or rather Draig, and his counterpart Albion the Vanishing Dragon, were both sealed inside 'cans' called Sacred Gears, which pass on to a new host when the previous host dies. A case of Sealed Can in a Person Shaped Can. Draig and Albion are neither Good or Evil, but their constant fighting with each other caused 3 separate warring factions to team up in order to seal them.
- In YuYu Hakusho, the demon Kurama placed his soul into the body of a human fetus before it could get its own soul.
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, Yue, one of the two Guardians of the Clow Cards is sealed inside Yukito Tsukishiro, though it's more of a transformation rather than being sealed inside a different person.
- In ElfQuest, when Big Bad Winnowill finally gets killed, her spirit would be free to prey on the other elves... except that Rayek, the one elf who truly loves her and hopes for her redemption, pulls her spirit into his own to prevent her doing more harm.
- In Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Johnny is revealed to be a "Waste-Lock", a human that serves as a form of receptacle for the spiritual negativity that humans generate by their very existence. This turns out to be the reason why Johnny never ends up getting caught for any of the horrid things he does and also (partially) explains why he's so utterly messed up. After the thing he was keeping locked up escaped during volume 5, he is freed from his duty once the universe is rebooted. It seems to do little to him except remove some of his compulsion to kill things and making people more aware of his existence.
- Etrigan the Demon is sealed by Merlin inside Jason Blood.
- In Green Lantern: Rebirth, previous events involving Hal Jordan having gone kind of Ax-Crazy over the loss of his hometown, killed most of the Green Lantern Corps, renamed himself Parallax, and eventually ending up as the host for The Spectre were retconned: according to the new telling, Parallax had always been an entity unto itself, and possessed Jordan to use his power and anger for its own purposes. The Spectre getting involved turned the whole situation into more of a person-shaped-can scenario, with Jordan as host for both of them but the Spectre serving to keep Parallax stuck within him and unable to escape or exert any real control.
- Marvel Comics has legendary Planet Eater Galactus, who acts as the seal keeping the Eldritch Abomination Abraxas imprisoned and not destroying the multiverse. He only needs to eat planets in the first place because the seal is powered by his metabolism.
- Both Fuji and Hellstrike from Stormwatch due to their transformations into energy beings.
- X-Men Vol. 3 #15.1 features a woman who had trapped several demons in her body.
- Puck of Alpha Flight (the original, Eugene Judd), once served as a walking prison for a demon whose life-draining power resulted in his original dwarfism.
- In Judge Death's first appearance in Judge Dredd, Dredd seals Death in Judge Anderson's body by encasing her in Boing, a spray-on, clear, rubber-like substance that, despite totally enclosing the person's body, nevertheless allows the person to breathe normally for no explained reason.
- The Naruto parody Raruto pokes fun at this: the fourth Bigbossnote meant to seal the Kyubi in an urn, but there wasn't any non-living container at hand's reach, so he used a baby.
- Mia of Death Vigil is a teenage-looking girl who was bound to a True Primordial from beyond the Veil in order to save her life. She can transform into the Primordial's monstrous form, though she is reluctant to do so without her father's guidance to keep her humanity intact.
- In Billy Batson And The Magic Of Shazam, after Billy seems to be slowly becoming more nasty and violent, it's revealed that Mr. Mind has been living in his subconscious since being defeated in the previous series.
- At the end of Rolling in Beaches, the remnants of the Rainbow of Darkness are sealed inside Spike after they use the Elements of Harmony to destroy it. The Princesses keep this to themselves, though Rodi is reluctant, as she sees this as a potential risk.
- Pony POV Series:
- In the Dark World timeline, this trope is attempted and subverted during the Boss Battle with Odyne!Cruelty. Rarity tries to remove Cruelty's soul from the body she's possessing and using her Element of Desire to seal it inside herself, but Cruelty fights her off.
- The Shining Armor Arc reveals that Minuette is actually the Master transformed into a pony with his consciousness sealed in a fob watch. And she refuses to become him again. Unlike many examples in the end she manages to prevent him from escaping and feeds him to the Blank Wolf, erasing him from existence and freeing herself from him for good.
- In the backstory of Imperfect Metamorphosis, the Shadow Youkai proved too tough for Yukari and Co. to kill it outright, so they wiped its memories and De Powered it into a more manageable form. Over the decades Rumia developed her own personality, so when the former attempts to reemerge it has to fight the latter (and Rin Satsuki) for control. Bonus points for including a Battle in the Center of the Mind, which didn't end well.
Films — Animation
- In Kung Fu Panda Legends Of Awesomeness, the mighty demon Ke-Pa has been imprisoned for a hundred years by the power of the Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom in the body of a pig. When the tree dies, Ke-Pa breaks free and assumes his true form: a giant dragon.
- The Dazzlings in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks are sirens from Equestria who were banished and imprisoned in human bodies by sending them to the human world. Further illustrated by their "Magical Girl" Transformation Sequence, which looks less like a transformation and more like a ritual to release something unspeakably evil.
Films — Live-Action
- In Dogma, Almighty God herself took a vacation in the form of a mortal man. When that shell was beaten into a coma and put on life support, God was trapped inside. To be released, the shell had to be taken off of life support, and thus killed.
- Calypso in Pirates of the Caribbean, sealed inside Tia Dalma. She is fully aware of her true nature, however.
- In the Tales from the Darkside: The Movie a man meets a woman after surviving a gargoyle attack. The Gargoyle doesn't kill him on the Promise not to tell anyone. Years later he tells the woman who is now happily his wife, with children. it's revealed the woman is the Gargoyle who sadly kills him because he broke the promise, and takes their children also gargoyles to live in sadness.
- Elvira for Elura in Elvira's Haunted Hills.
- Ghost Rider is treated as this in Ghost Rider by Johnny Blaze, his human form.
- In the first few books, Rincewind has one of the Eight Spells of Creation hidden inside his head. It's described as trying to escape, and it has filled his head to the point of him being unable to learn any other spells.
- After Snuff Samuel Vimes forced the Summoning Dark (basically the Dwarven Anthropomorphic Personification of Revenge, sans anthropomorphism) to obey him rather than the other way around.
- Felix Castor has a friend that suffers from this. The friend made the mistake of calling up what couldn't be put down, and Felix tried to exorcise it best he knew how — only to find the thing had gotten tetherhooks into his friend's soul, meaning a proper exorcism would kill him. So he did the best he could and knitted them together.
- In A Wizard Abroad, Ronan has the latest incarnation of Lugh, The One's champion, sealed inside him. The Champion was previously sealed inside of a parrot, Peach.
- Angleton is a willing, self-aware case of this, as revealed in the third Laundry Series book, The Fuller Memorandum. Bob Howard does this to himself to avoid being possessed by something worse.
- Invoked and played with as the main plot device in Fiona Patton's Tales of the Branion Realm series, in which a fire god, the Living Flame, essentially inhabits the ruler of an alternate Britain, hopping to the next-in-line whenever one dies. However, they use the Flame's power for the good of the realm, letting it out while (theoretically) keeping it under control. Played straighter in the third book, when the royal family converts to a different faith which regards the Flame as a demon, and deliberately locks it within themselves. Its own followers set out to release it into the body of a believer by seducing its current vessel.
- One young adult Dragonlance novel involved an evil wizard using this as an attempt to access the power and knowledge of a particularly evil ancient sorceress. Sadly for him, it turns out that Evil Is Not a Toy.
- At the end of The Last Dark, the finale The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant book, Covenant seals God of Evil Lord Foul inside himself. He hopes that eventually he'll be able to change Foul's nature, but ends up withdrawing from the world in order to keep Foul from finding a way to hurt the people around him for the meantime.
- Angel: Illyria.
Illyria: This fate is worse than death. Condemned to live out existence in a vessel incapable of sustaining my true glory. How am I to function with such limitation?
Lorne: Have you ever tried a Sea Breeze?
- The Hell-Goddess Glory, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was imprisoned inside a mortal man named Ben, and protected by an enchantment that made any human (vampires and demons were immune) who learned of their connection to forget it quickly. In the end, Rupert Giles smothers Ben to put an end to Glory's threat forever.
- In the Finale of the Fourth Volume of Heroes, Sylar was trapped in Matt Parkman's head, while Sylar's body walks around thinking it's Nathan Petrelli, with all of Sylar's and Nathan's powers. That lasts a few episodes before he inevitably escapes.
- The angel Anna from Supernatural was reborn in a human body, and was completely oblivious to the fact that she had great power, even without her Grace.
- Kamen Rider Blade: Hajime Aikawa, a.k.a. Kamen Rider Chalice, is in reality the Joker Undead, a creature that serves as the Reset Button for the "Battle Fight", a battle royale among the Joker and 52 other Undead (each of which represents a different form of life) to determine what will become the dominant life form. The reset triggers with the sealing of all other Undead save Joker, and would result in the end of all life on the planet (at which all other 52 Undead would be unsealed and the Battle Fight would restart). Hajime keeps his Superpowered Evil Side sealed with the Change Mantis and Spirit Human cards.
- The Twin Peaks spirit BOB is somewhere between this and Demonic Possession.
- Warhammer 40,000 has Daemonhosts, daemons that hijack a person's body to manifest in our reality, which can also be done deliberately, binding a daemon into a prepared body to bind it and use it's power for themselves. This is of course horrifically dangerous, as when it escapes the daemon will not be happy with whoever bound it. In Eisenhorn killing the host without simultaneously banishing the daemon simply allowed it to transfer to another host, and while official Inquisition policy is that the person is killed when their body is taken over, one daemon claims they still remain (not that daemons can be trusted).
- In RuneScape, the demon Agrith-Naar is sealed into the human body Denath by priests to render him powerless. To get around this, he gathered a group of dark wizards to summon a fellow demon, Delrith; when the player slays Delrith, he tricks them into thinking that he is in the Infernal Dimensions, and the player tries to summon him into the mortal plane to kill him, but instead send him back to his home plane, making him far more powerful.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Princess Elise served as Iblis' "can", with her control over her sorrow being the lid — if she cries, the can is opened and Iblis is unleashed upon the world once more.
- In Persona 3, the "sealed evil" is Nyx, an Eldritch Abomination and Anthropomorphic Personification of death — while the "can" just so happens to be the main character.
- At the start of Soul Nomad & the World Eaters Gig is moved from the Onyx Blade to Revya.
- Gilvaroth, the Eldritch Abomination Big Bad of Jeanne D Arc, is willingly put inside King Henry V's body to protect him from his political enemies by Duke Bedford, Henry V's own uncle. However, Gilvaroth cannot be destroyed As Long as There Is Evil, and a new vessel must be found. Enter Roger, who had the Reaper Ira sealed inside him earlier, and volunteers in order to atone. Things go awry as Gilles takes his place at the last second... with horrible consequences according to Real Life history. Whew! Gilvaroth gets around.
- In Devil Survivor, it turns out Amane had a demon sealed inside of her when she was just a child. Unfortunately, said demon is one of the Bels... not the biggest of the problems caused by this, obviously, but considering the whole fight for the Throne of Bel. Poor Amane also has a higher tier angel stuck in her to help balance out against the bel.
- In Warcraft lore, Aegwynn was tricked into unwittingly becoming this for the spirit of Sargeras, the series' Big Bad. After defeating his physical form, his spirit entered her body and was later passed to her son, Medivh, who under its influence opened the Dark Portal to allow the Horde to invade Azeroth. Killing Medivh banished Sargeras' spirit back to the Twisting Nether.
- In Diablo lore, it is customary for the Prime Evils to spend time inside human hosts — either as a safety measure, or chained there against their will. When the Wanderer was tricked into using Diablo's soulstone on himself, he became the unwitting host of the Lord of Terror, and at some unknown point in time lost his will for good. In the distant past, a monk by the name of Tal Rasha decided to bind himself to Baal to imprison the Lord of Destruction forever and ever. It didn't go so well.
- A very similar arrangement occurs in World of Warcraft. After Arthas is defeated in-game, the heroes realize that his willpower was the only thing preventing the Scourge from launching a frenzied, full-force attack that would annihilate all life on Azeroth. To prevent this from happening, there has to be a Lich King. Highlord Bolvar, the former human faction leader, agrees to take on the role of "Jailor of the Damned".
- Wild AR Ms 2 has two of these. The first is a demon sealed inside the protagonist early in the game, which is kept in check by a magic sword that sealed the same evil in a more standard can hundreds of years ago. Since that worked out so well, the same thing is planned for the Kuiper Core, the main threat of the second disc. Unfortunately, the Kuiper Core is a living universe, so the can immediately goes from person-shaped to Eldritch Abomination. At least you can stab it now.
- Tales of Hearts has the Big Bad's mind trapped in the main character. The Dragon finds this out at the beginning of the game and spends the entire first half trying to get him possessed.
- Dragon Age: Origins has a possible ending where the soul of the Archdemon, formerly Urthemiel, Dragon of Beauty, can end up inside Morrigan's unborn, darkspawn-tainted fetus. If this option was taken, in Dragon Age: Inquisition, you eventually meet this "can" in the form of Morrigan's ten year old son, Kieran, who's a fairly nice boy despite being the host to an Old God—he does, however, make many cryptic remarks, and he appears to be much more ordinary if he was conceived without the ritual taking place. Later in the game, Flemeth takes the Old God soul out of him, leaving him relatively unharmed in a subversion of the usual trope.
- The DomZ, local Eldritch Abominations of Beyond Good & Evil, consume the life-force of people harvested/kidnapped from the planets they attack. They've had to step up their eating habits and are attacking Hillis because the spiritual energy of one of the most powerful DomZ beings has been locked inside Jade, the player character.
- In Disgaea 2, through the "reincarnation" option, Rozalin is Overlord Zenon and still has the latter's original personality buried deep beneath her own personality. Laharl learns the hard way that unleashing it is a really, really bad idea.
- In Might and Magic: Heroes VI, Kiril, the protaganist of the Inferno campaign, ends up sharing his body with Azkaal, a demon prince of destruction.
- In Phantasy Star IV, the third incarnation of Dark Force is sealed up inside Seth, who joins your party. Creepier than most, in that it's never made clear whether Seth was ever really human, or if he was just a human form. On the one hand, he seems genuinely terrified when he starts to change; on the other, his skill list is 100% dark servitor.
- The "Whytechurch Murderer" in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura is eventually revealed to be an ancient wizard who tried to banish a powerful demon, and ended up with the demon sharing his body.
- In the Kingdom Hearts franchise, the hearts of many people take refuge, willingly or not, inside the main protagonist Sora for one reason or another, though for most of them he's not aware of it. The Big Bad Xehanort also counts, except that he does the reverse deliberately subjugating others to his will for the sake of his schemes, though he ends up in this trope proper a couple of times as a result.
- In Bayonetta2, it turns out that Father Balder, the villain from the previous game, was this for an evil god. The overload of unadulterated evil was what turned him into a monster in the first place.
- In Xenoblade, Zanza is sealed inside of Shulk. It's the reason Shulk can use the Monado and see the future.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, this is subverted. Tristan is believed to be trapped in a Monkey Robot by Kaiba or Reshef, but he is just absent, and the weak Monkey Robot is coincidentally as weak as Tristan
- Five Nights at Freddy's 3 has The Purple Guy, sealed inside Springtrap.
- In Mortal Kombat, thousands of souls; including the souls of King Jerrod, Kitana's father; & starting from Mortal Kombat X, Shao Kahn himself; are sealed inside Ermac.
- In The Gamers Alliance, Laverna, the Goddess of Thieves, is trapped inside the body of Haruko Mizushima who is at first unaware of the predicament although she realizes it later on when the goddess talks to her while she's asleep.
- Michael Waite, famed horror writer in the Whateley Universe, turned out to be one of these. Locked inside him is The Kellith, a Great Old One foretold to wipe humanity off the planet and repopulate it with her spawn. Then he 'died' and changed into what everyone assumes is a vampiric girl mutant codenamed Carmilla. Kellith did a pretty good job of being not-evil... or at least, not destroying-all-existence evil.
- In Kickassia, Doctor Insano is presented as one of these to Spoony. His inevitable release is a Crowning Moment of Awesome yet still vaguely disturbing.
- In the SCP Foundation, SCP-231 plays this trope for extreme horror. They have to do SOMETHING horrific to this absurdly young girl a minimum of once a day to keep said evil inside. Each time one gets out (or the host dies) it's progressively worse, to the point that hers could mean Earth says adios. Word of God says it's ten times worse than whatever your guess is.
- And it isn't shy about not-so-subtly hinting at where you should begin guessing. She is, at the very least, repeatedly and violently raped (possibly while being subject to other tortures), while being forcefully kept conscious so she can't escape the pain. She is fed through a feeding tube and gets water through an IV so she doesn't experience the pleasures of eating, and she is never to be given any medication to dull her pain (and is only to be attended to by doctors who haven't taken the Hippocratic Oath). They wipe her memory every couple of days so her surprise, shock, and sensitivity to pain never drop; with careful timing, they do so when her feelings of despair reach their absolute peak and she is given no time to acclimatize.
- Almost everyone involved with the project begs for a high-class amnesiac to erase the memory of what they've seen, and individuals are to be regularly cycled out of the project for risk of going insane.
- Ancient Egyptian sorcerers in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe irreversibly bound Nephthys, Goddess of Chaos and wife of the Jackal-God Set, in the body of a twelve-year-old girl and sealed her into a Pharaoh's tomb, to be imprisoned for all time. Little did they suspect that the goddess would find such treatment to only be a temporary inconvenience.
- The Legend of Korra revealed that the origin of the Avatar was the Spirit of Light, Raava, getting bound to Wan, who became the first Avatar.
- Jean Grey was the "can" for Dark Phoenix in the X-Men animated series. Whether this is the case in the original comics depends on which retcon is considered canon at the moment.