Soul Eating

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This is about a character, or creature, who eats souls. How exactly they devour souls vary from story to story, but the case is almost always the same: the soul becomes a replenishment for someone/something else.

The effect eating souls have, aside from satiating hunger, may be either restoring your health, youth, Life Energy and/or Mana, increasing one's lifespan, gaining their power or knowledge in life, etc.

Many beings that eat souls do it for a living, due to it being the thing that keeps them alive (especially for soul-eating monsters and other creatures), or because they want to live forever or keep their youth, or because they're getting stronger and healthier with every soul they devour. Some rarer cases, however, may occur only once or twice, especially for "mundane" beings who normally don't eat souls.

What happened to the souls they eat, you say? Just as how food gets broken into nutrients in our body, souls tend to get "broken" into their components that nourishes the eater, so the souls effectively cease to be aware or exist. Sometimes, however, the souls that they eat may remain intact in the eater's person, and might even be able to be taken out of the eater. Either way, eaten souls can't go to any afterlife (at least until they're freed, somehow).

If someone has a Soul Power and/or necromancy ability, they may be able to do this.

Sub-Trope of Abstract Eater and Your Soul Is Mine. Often overlaps with Vampiric Draining, Cannibalism Superpower, and/or Horror Hunger. Compare Soul-Powered Engine for engines that "eat" souls to work, and Soul-Cutting Blade, weapons that harm souls.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Hollows feed on human souls, and a Gillian-class Menos Hollow is created when hundreds of Hollows descend into an inter-cannibalistic frenzy and eat each other.
    • The intelligent minority of Gillian — as opposed to the mindless, bestial majority — are also forced to devour other Hollows (Menos or otherwise), either partially or entirely, in order to avoid regressing back to a bestial state, as well as to gradually ascend the Menos evolution ladder (Gillian to Adjuchas, and then to Vasto Lorde).
    • Then we have Aaroniero Arruruerie, the Noveno Espada (#9), who goes even further by combining the trope with Cannibalism Superpower, and by the time he debuted he had eaten 30,665 Hollows (including one that had assimilated a dead Soul Reaper's body via a somewhat different method).
    • In the anime, the Bount are a group of vampiric humans who gain agelessness and extra spiritual power by consuming the souls of dead humans. They become a much bigger problem when they start producing mosquito-like constructs that can extract and distill soul energy from the living for their consumption.
  • In Soul Eater: Humans with the weapon bloodline (essentially a gene which allows them to become an Equippable Ally) can eat the souls of other humans to grow stronger (the good guys only consume the souls of corrupted humans, villains tend to be less picky), so long as they also consume at least one witch's soul. Those that indiscriminately eat other humans slowly become Kishin.
  • Big Mom of One Piece ate the Soul-Soul Fruit, which lets her physically interact with people's souls. The first time she demonstrates this power is during a hunger filled rampage where she eats a portion of one of her children's souls, shaving 40 years off his life and killing him.
  • Naruto: one Dangerous Forbidden Technique summons the Shinigami with the user's body as its conduit, which then rips the enemy's soul and then devours them. As the payment for this technique, the user's soul will also be consumed by it and get locked in a fight with the souls its user ripped.
  • Black Butler:
    • The terms of Ciel's Faustian Bargain with Sebastian is that once Ciel has achieved his life's goals Sebastian gets to eat his soul. In the meantime he acts as his utterly loyal butler.
    • In season two of the anime Alois' brother Luca made a contract with a demon to kill all the villagers who mistreated them and his soul was eaten leaving an empty shell of a body. Alois eventually learns that it was Hannah who ate him and makes a contract with her so they can be together again. After she collects the two of them are heard talking inside her.
  • In Hellsing vampires consume the souls of those they kill by draining blood, human or vampire, and keep them on call as "familiars" that can be summoned or expended to power their strongest abilities. Alucard is nearly impossible to kill because he's eaten millions of souls, towards the end he summons them all as an army. But then he eats Schrodinger and his bizarre quantum-something powers cause him to disappear for decades.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Souls from all the mortal races are devoured by the demons from hell, as well as succubi. The main bad guy also dies this way when Lucifer shows his displeasure with his failure.
  • Aquila: Aquila serves Ammit The Devourer, an Eldritch Abomination which feeds on human souls tainted by wickedness.
  • The aptly-named Soul-Drinker, an Eldritch Abomination from the X-Men comics, has this as its shtick, though it is only able to consume one soul per summon. For its adaptation into the 90s animated series it was somehow made more menacing and Lighter and Softer, as it could in that continuity consume multiple souls, but it also took time to digest them and if it was destroyed quickly enough, the souls it consumed would be restored (as happened when Wolverine and Gambit ultimately dispatched it).

    Literature 
  • In C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, demons eat the souls of other demons as well as of humans.
  • In Matthew Costello's novelization of Child's Play 3 Chucky's god, the voodoo loa Damballah, is revealed to be this in a flashback scene. Chucky specifically refers to it as "the soul catcher" and "the eater of spirits".
  • In Harry Potter, the Dementors generally feed on human emotions. Their deadliest attack, the Dementor's Kiss, literally sucks out the soul of a person's body, turning the victim into a body that lives but can't feel any emotions or think any thoughts. This is treated as a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Downplayed in Warbreaker: everybody is born with a single Breath, which is the currency of the magical art of Awakening. The Returned Came Back Strong from death but must consume one Breath every week. The country of Idris abhors the Returned as soul-stealing abominations, but the fact is that the Breath is distinct from the spirit and people are only mildly inconvenienced by losing it.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Farscape, the apparently-magical recurring villain Maldis claims to eat souls, although this might just be mystification of something like Life Energy.
  • Supernatural: The Crocotta is a Monster of the Week which feeds on human souls. They're fairly low on the monster totem pole all the same, living in filth and only being able to lure in victims by being a Voice Changeling.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In the Egyptian Mythology, the destruction of one's soul was the worst fate one could suffer, as it meant a Cessation of Existence. The deceased would face the Judgment of Osiris before they could enter the afterlife, who weighed their hearts to see if they had lived wicked lives. If the heart was too heavy, he would feed it to the demon Ammit. Also, the God of Evil Apophis would stalk passengers on their way to the land of the dead so he could eat their souls.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Dark Eldar, who drink the souls of their victims, whom they torture for death for amusement. The main reason they devour souls is in order to maintain their youth, thus preventing them from dying and feeding Slaanesh with their souls, or because Slaanesh is continually draining their souls while alive and they use their victims' souls to replenish or as a substitute for their own souls, Depending on the Writer.
    • Souls comprise the diets of daemons and Chaos gods, either mortals or weaker daemons. Notably, Slaanesh devoured all but three of the Eldar gods shortly after awakening.
    • The C'tan devoured the souls of the Necrotyr, the original race of the Necrons.
    • The Doom of Malan'tai is a Tyranid capable of devouring souls.
  • In the Classic and New World of Darkness:
    • In Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, Diablerie is the act of consuming another vampire's blood and their very soul. It is reviled among many vampires (to the point that it is expressly forbidden in the Traditions in Requiem), but some vampires (such as the Sabbat from Masquerade) do it to gain the power to challenge their elder rivals. Worse, the act is incredibly addictive.
    • In Werewolf: The Forsaken, entities from the Spirit World consume other spirits to become more powerful. They often acquire traits of the consumed spirit as well, unless it was another spirit of the same type or one that would be "in its nature" to eat, an example being a fox spirit eating a rabbit spirit. A very rare few learn to supplement their diet with human souls.
    • Tremere liches in Mage: The Awakening take Immortality Immorality to the extreme by requiring a steady diet of souls. If they can't consume souls, their minds fall apart and they eventually end up Deader Than Dead.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Barghest grows by feeding on the bodies and souls of its victims, which can leave them too damaged for even the most powerful resurrection magic to work on them.
    • Devourers consume the essence of living beings, creating a spectral effigy trapped in their exposed ribcage bearing the image of the victim, which is depleted by the use of their spell-like abilities. Destroying the Devourer before the essence is depleted allowed the victim to be resurrected.
    • Demiliches, such as Acererak from the classic module Tomb of Horrors, can suck out your soul and slowly digest it to increase the power of their spells.
  • In Pathfinder, Daemons are Omnicidal Maniacs who devour every mortal soul they can, angering the Devils and Demons who prefer to use them in trade and as raw materials. People crazy enough to try Mainlining the Monster can refine Daemon spinal fluid into a potent drug that contains the memories of the souls they've digested.

    Video Games 
  • Raziel in Legacy of Kain is a vampire whose blood-hunger is replaced by soul-hunger.
    • Raziel is of course the servant of the Elder God who feeds on the souls Raziel devours and on most souls of those deceased.
  • In Neverwinter Nights expansion pack Hordes of the Underdark, Mephistopheles devours souls in his home plane Cania to fuel his power to raise an army of undead in the Forgotten Realms.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion pack Mask of the Betrayer, your character is inflicted with a curse called 'the Spirit-eater', which requires them to periodically nourish themselves by devouring spirits. Initially it only works on elementals, fey and incorporeal undead, but you can learn how to direct the hunger at souls and corporeal undead.
  • Soul Series: The cursed sword Soul Edge and its host Nightmare become more powerful by devouring the souls of its victims.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, creatures with dragon souls can consume other dragon souls to a) boost their own souls' power and b) destroy the other soul permanently (the only way to destroy the otherwise immortal dragons). Apart from dragons themselves, history knew a handful of humans and humanoid creatures born with dragon souls as a result of manipulations by the Daedric Prince Haermeus Mora, known as "Dragonborn", who can also do that. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Player Character is a Dragonborn and devours the souls of the dragons they slay.
  • Mega Man ZX: Cyber-elves, like in the previous series, are Energy Beings infused with the consciousness and data of an AI; a soul with an energy medium, essentially. In this series, it's also possible to turn living beings into Cyber-elves, as the line of humans and robots in the setting have become blurred. The Slither Inc. is revealed to be responsible for turning mass amounts of people into elves without the populace knowing, so that they'll become food for Model W.
  • The Akujiki from the 2002 Shinobi drinks souls.
  • BlazBlue: Ragna's Drive ability "Soul Eater" eats the souls of people. In-game, this is translated into Life Drain attacks. There's also the Eldritch Abomination of the verse, the Black Beast, who devoured mass amounts of souls in its rampage. Ragna's source of his ability is the Azure Grimoire, an artifact made out of Black Beast's corpse.
  • One of Tichondrius the dreadlord's lines in Warcraft III is "I must feast on souls!"
  • Mortal Kombat has Shang Tsung, who is cursed to devour the souls of his enemies in order to maintain his youth (and much more importantly, his life). His sorcery is also fueled by the souls of those he devours, making it doubly important that he devours more in order to maintain his power.
  • Shadow Fiend from Dota2 take souls to power his attack through Necromastery and release an unholy surge of energy through Requiem of Souls.
    "So, you're curious where I come from? There's one easy way to find out for yourself."
  • Shesha from Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse devours the souls of people in order to fuel the Cosmic Egg - of which is actually Shesha's body - to create a new universe.
  • The Soul-Eating Monster from Kid Icarus: Uprising is a serpentine monster who lives off the unfortunate souls of the Underworld. It's implied he's not alone, as the game's Big Bad occasionally compares souls to food items like taffy.
  • DragonFable has Roirr consume the souls of his host bodies. This bites him back big time when they are all expelled from him, leaving him a charred skeleton.
  • Vulgrim from Darksiders consumes souls collected by War as currency.
  • In Overwatch one of the lines Reaper may say when he spawns is "I will feast on their souls" and in-game he can absorb 50 health from each Soul Globe he collects from a downed enemy. Flavor text also mentions that the bodies of his victims are pale, empty husks drained of life, their cells showing signs of intense degradation.
  • Toukiden has demons that devour people's souls. Kikka even mentions that the souls are still conscious and aware in the demon and that they are screaming. She also mentions their souls long to be reunited with their loved ones, those emotions helping the demons to come over into this reality to invade.
  • In Undertale, Mettaton's cake recipe includes a human soul as the "most important ingredient," though MTT-brand Always-Convenient Human-Soul-Flavored-Substitute can be substituted for vegan purposes. It's not clear whether or not souls can actually be eaten, as the recipe is basically treated as an excuse for a killer robot to try to kill you.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night: Servants can do this to replenish their Mana, though the more wholesome ones are understandably quite averse to it. In one case, the Servant — a Chaotic Evil Anti-Villain — expressed a preference for evil souls, because their foulness makes them that much tastier, and souls of similar alignment are easier to digest.

    Web Comics 
  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures Cubi are notorious for eating souls; though they can subside on mere emotions, souls extend their lifespans and increase their magic. Other creatures can do it as well, a dragon was harvesting souls from the dead of a city until Dan's grandmother killed him and accidentally glassed the region.
  • Project Future, a fan comic for Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures , features the creation of 'artificial souls' for creatures to consume, avoiding many of the ethical, moral, legal, health and sanity problems associated with consuming natural souls.
  • Played with in Digger: the Living Shadow baby demon Shadowchild can consume shadows, with the side effect that any living thing whose shadow it eats is left an Empty Shell. While it can eat things like fish this way, it also mentions "shadows on the heart" that guilty people have, and once tells Digger not to worry because she doesn't have any. Nobody's quite sure what that means for the metaphysics of its diet but the threat is definitely there.
  • In Our Little Adventure, Angelo Souballo has a collection of trapped souls in gemstones, and sometimes eats one as a snack. The habit might have something to do with him being Ambiguously Human with a Damaged Soul and a possible case of Demonic Possession.

    Western Animation 

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