The use of a human soul as energy to power a type of Applied Phlebotinum. May Overlap with Powered by a Forsaken Child. See also Haunted Technology.
open/close all folders
- In many of Warren Ellis's comics, most notably Planetary, Heaven and Hell are warring extradimensional engines powered by human souls (which are actually electromagnetic biosignatures) and the only way to escape them is to die in a nuclear reactor so the Electromagnetic Pulse disrupts your essence.
Anime & Manga
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the Spiral Energy can do pretty much anything and it's the "scientific" representation of a person's soul.
- Evangelions in Neon Genesis Evangelion are powered by souls, basically making them 3 human-like beings in one (which is definitely a problem sometimes). Typically they are the soul of the pilot's dead mother (also weird).
- Psyren has Amagi Miroku using the life force of every living thing that dies as his power source.
- Used in Fullmetal Alchemist. Souls have power, quite literally. In fact, the Philosopher's Stone turns out to be human souls condensed into energy.
- It should also be noted that in the 2003 anime version, the human souls of the dead in our world serve as the fuel source for alchemy itself.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the magical girls' magic gems are in fact their souls, removed from their bodies so said souls can be used to fuel their powers and temporarily reverse entropy.
- In the Mobile Suit Gundam side story The Blue Destiny, the super system EXAM is powered by the soul of a trapped Newtype girl named Marion Welsh, trapped there by its creator who feared Newtypes as a whole.
- In the Dragon Bones castle Hurog is one of those. It is Powered by a Forsaken Child, or maybe forsaken adolescent. Though not technically an engine, it is a self-repairing castle, with inbuilt magical servant/slave. The hero of the novel and current owner of the castle is not happy about this, but the only option to free the forsaken boy is to kill him.
- The Screwtape Letters: Demons work hard to tempt humans to be damned to Hell for the entirely practical reason that souls are demons' food.
- The premise of an entire novel, The Gasp by Romain Gary. A scientist discovers a way to trap and harness 'something' that's released when people die, but being an atheist he refuses to believe it could be a "soul".
- The metal killing machines in the Protector of the Small series use the souls of children to power them. The necromancer who creates them doesn't have to use children, but he actually enjoys invoking Powered by a Forsaken Child.
- Interworld: HEX plays this trope completely straight, its ships' engines are literally powered by the souls of captured walkers. The process involves first putting the soul in a jar and then using it as a power source. Both processes are excruciatingly painful.
- A slight variant in The Stormlight Archive, where the fabrials are powered by the sentient ideas known as spren.
- In The Dresden Files soulfire, the celestial counterpart to hellfire, draws upon its user's soul as a power source when granted to a human and can kill them if it's overused. However, short of death it seems that the soul can also recover from this with time (sometimes downright quickly with the right emotionally "recharging" experiences to speed the process along) without suffering actual lasting damage.
Live Action TV
- In Warhammer 40,000, the God Emperor of Mankind is kept alive thanks to the daily sacrifice of untold numbers of psykers, allowing his spirit to continue lighting the Astronomican without which interstellar travel is impossible.
- GURPS Technomancer. The Soul Burner Gestalt is a necromantic device that converts the souls of sacrificed human victims into magical energy.
- In Fall from Heaven, there's the 'Soul Forge' Wonder, an unholy engine that uses souls to speed production. In game-terms, this means that any unit that dies within a 1-square radius of the city, is added to its production (enemies and friends alike). If combined with Mokka's Cauldron - a Wonder that causes any unit that dies in the city to immediately be reborn as a Demon - a city can become essentially impossible to conquer, spawning units faster than you can kill 'em.
- Used periodically in the Final Fantasy series.
- Final Fantasy VII had the ShinRa and it's mining/extracting/whatever of "Mako Energy". Turns out that "Mako" comes from the "Lifestream", which is essentially a soup of human souls floating around on the inside of the planet.
- In Final Fantasy IX, the Big Bad blocked the Well of Souls that takes the dead to the afterlife, leading to the backed-up souls piling up in the form of dense, magically potent Mist. Not knowing the source, people naturally began using this Mist as fuel for magitechnology and airships.
- In The Elder Scrolls, you can trap the souls of your foes in soul gems and use them to enchant your weapons, technically making them soul powered.
- Skyrim has technology and automatons built by the Dwemer and powered by soul gems, making them very literally soul powered engines.
- In Asura's Wrath, Mantra is the fuel that powers the demigods' technology and grants them their superhuman powers. The demigods can draw Mantra from human prayer. It's also far more efficient to just drain human souls for it. Over the 12,000 years between their betrayal of Asura and his resurrection, the Deities have gathered trillions of souls' worth of Mantra.
- In BlazBlue the Nox Nyctores are revealed to have been created using a ton of human souls. Hazama also needs more souls to activate the Cauldron and create Kusanagi.
- In Street Fighter M. Bison's Psycho Power is powered by his own, weaponized soul. Doubly so with Rose's canonically opposite Soul Power.
- In Demons Souls, magic, named 'the Soul Arts', is this. Arcane magic is based on understanding and uses soul energy as the energy source, while witchcraft directly channels the power of a demon's soul.
- Dark Souls
- This is heavily implied. Most sorcery spells are soul-themed reappear from the games spiritual predecessor, Demons Souls, and considering that leveling up is again done by absorbing souls, it seems likely that this is once again the fuel for sorcery.
- The First Flame/Flame of Disparity is this. It would have gone out at least one thousand years ago had Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight, had not turned himself into its fuel source. If the player chooses the Link the Fire Ending, they become the new fuel source.
- Sluggy Freelance had that Haunted House that turned out to actually be an ELEVATOR TO HELL, with GHOSTS IN THE GAS-TANK! (Quoted verbatim.) Essentially, a number of captured spirits were used to power a spell that would open a gate into hell - and back - in order to provide a magician with an escape-clause from his Deal With The Devil.