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Spare Body Parts
Shepard: [The Normandy was] destroyed in a Collector surprise attack. I ended up spaced.
Wrex: Well, you look good. Ah, the benefits of a redundant nervous system.
Shepard: Yeah, humans don't have that.
Wrex: Oh, it must have been painful, then. [evil grin]

A Subtrope of Bizarre Alien Biology. Humans have two eyes, two legs, two arms, two lungs, one mouth, etc., as do most of our most familiar animals. Want to make a race seem alien? Give them extra of something.

Subtropes include:


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comics 
  • Spiral of Marvel Comics has six arms, though the extra pairs are robotic additions made by Mojo. Fittingly, one of her aliases is "Shiva".
  • Minor villain—practically no more than a mutant thug—Fourarm has, well, four arms. That's about all there is to him.
  • And then there's Spider-Man's enemy Doppelganger, who looks like Spider-Man except with Venom's mouth and four extra arms.

    Film 
  • A pianist from Gattaca was genetically engineered to have twelve fingers. There are apparently enough people like this around that some pieces of piano music require extra fingers to play.
  • A prostitute in the original Total Recall (1990) has to wear a special kind of brassiere... The 2012 remake trailer shows a woman who makes men wish they had three hands.
  • In Coneheads, we learn that the Remulakians have at least four rows of teeth.

    Literature 
  • The CoDominium Moties have one large, powerful hand on their left side, and two smaller, more dexterous hands on their right side.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's Zaphod Beeblebrox: Two heads, three arms.
  • S.L. Viehl uses this a lot in the Stardoc series. For example, there's an alien in the first book with two separate digestive tracts.
  • The Tyrathca of The Night's Dawn Trilogy. Females of the breeder caste have multiple sets of ovaries, each becoming fertile at a different time in her cycle, and each producing a different kind of egg that hatches into a different caste. (The Tyrathca are a Eusocial species with multiple castes that evolved to perform specialized tasks such as Hunter, Soldier, Farmer, etc. Only the Breeders are fertile and fully intelligent. All other castes are little more then beasts of burden lacking the intelligence to do anything but the task they evolved for.)

     Live Action TV 
  • The lounge singers in the original Battlestar Galactica had two mouths each. Meanwhile those insectoid things had four arms. Eek, in both cases.
  • Star Trek's Klingons have a number of physiological redundancies such as an extra liver, a double set of ribs, redundant nerve systems and an extra lung.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Centauri have two hearts. Unlike Klingons, Centauri can die if either heart fails. In the season five episode "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari", in which Londo suffers a heart attack, we find out more details: the right heart is a large and simple muscle, much like a human heart, whereas the left heart is a knot of blood vessels that gives the blood pressure an extra kick and also functions much as a human kidney (mollusks on earth have a somewhat similar system). Surgery on the left heart is correspondingly difficult due to its complexity. The left heart is considered the seat of the soul in traditional Centauri culture.
    • Males also have six prehensile penises located on the sides of their torsos.
  • Doctor Who: Time Lords have two hearts. The Doctor is no exception.
    • Some of the spinoff novels have added a great deal of lore regarding Time Lord hearts, including:
      • Time Lords have only one heart in their first incarnation and the second one develops, along with other physiological advantages like the respiratory bypass system, as a result of their first regeneration.
      • The hearts are categorised as a "primary" and a "secondary". Quite what this means in a physiological sense (e.g., is one heart more powerful than the other, do they have somewhat different functions) is never made quite clear.
      • The Eighth Doctor novel "The Adventuress of Henrietta Street" suggests that the second heart might be the source of some sort of psychic link between the Time Lords and Gallifrey, and the control centre for their various alien traits (regeneration, rapid healing, sensitivity to time etc).
    • Both the spinoff novels and the new series indicate that the Doctor is capable of living with only one functioning heart, though this weakens him.

    Religion 
  • The Hindu deities Kali and Vishnu have two pairs of arms (and the former can upgrade to five), and Surya is sometimes depicted with four arms.
  • A specific Buddha exists who literally has a thousand eyes (all the better to see with) and an equal number of arms (the ultimate multi-tasker).
    • Very likely borrowed from Hindu mythology, where extra heads and limbs tend to be the norm.

     Role Playing Games 
  • Gamma World. The mutant race known as the orlen were humanoids with two heads and four arms. Additionally, players could create mutant characters with any number of extra parts.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Genestealer Hybrids, an Alienesque cult designed by the equally Alienesque Tyranids, have six limbs, four of which are the normal mammal-human ones, and the two (or sometimes only one) others are clawed and chitin-ed.
    • For that matter, the Space Marines have 19 extra organs implanted although only two of them are actually spares for existing organs (an extra heart and lung).

     Video Games 
  • Gilgamesh from the Final Fantasy series had at least eight arms.
  • In Mass Effect, the batarians have four eyes. When humans, or other two-eyed races have conversations with them they get confused because they don't know what to focus on, leading to the batarian attitude that humans are stupid.
    • Then there's the memorable quote about krogan testicle transplants: "Some go for as much as 10,000 credits a piece, that's 40,000 for the full set." Humans say someone's got a pair - krogan have a quad.
    • The krogan take this trope to its Logical Extreme, having evolved redundant internal organs as a result of living on a Death World. At one point EDI mentions a krogan's tertiary organ systems, meaning even their spares have spares. And when one of the redundant ones kick in, it triggers an intense adrenaline surge that permits them to knock people aside like ragdolls. Never attack a krogan with anything less what you'd use to demolish a building. You'll just make him mad.
    • See the page quote for how Wrex reacts to discovering that humans don't have a redundant nervous system to survive being spaced.
  • The Shokan (the race of Goro and Sheeva) in Mortal Kombat all have four arms.

    Web Animation 
  • Some Faunus in RWBY have animal ears in addition to their human ones. Sun, a monkey Faunus, has a fully prehensile tail.

    Web Comics 

     Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Futurama, Bender was in an accident that cost him the use of his arms. BECK gave him tiny replacement arms mounted on his neck (which Beck used to play the harmonica). Later when he regained the use of his original arms, he'd use both pairs in expressions.
    • Zoidberg as well. He's got several of everything, and can even talk through a vivisection (much to the dismay of vivisectors).
    Surgeon: Heart.
    Zoidberg: Take! I've got four of them.

  • Men In Black features the Sintillians. Not only do they have two hearts, but neither heart ever stops working; so long as they have at least one and "nobody drops a piano on them", they're effectively immortal. When Alpha steals a Sintillian's heart, K makes it clear to J that the Organ Theft is still a big deal. "You have ten toes. You wake up one morning with one missing, how would you feel?"
  • Teen Titans: Starfire is quite happy she has nine stomachs when she is spoonfed some Mind Contolling pie and spits it back before digesting it.
  • In the Invader Zim episode "Dark Harvest" when there's a physical coming up and Zim realises the nurse would figure out he's not human after examining him, he goes around stealing organs from the other students. Of course, with Zim being Zim he goes over the top and steals more organs than he really needs. Lucky for him the nurse is an idiot and doesn't see anything amiss.

     Real Life 
  • Pretty much everyone has individual variations and redundancies within their body's network of blood vessels, particularly in its veins and smaller arteries. That's why an angiogram or other vessel-mapping procedure is usually carried out before surgery, to ensure there won't be any mid-operation surprises (e.g. discovering the kidney being donated has more than one renal artery).
  • Four parathyroid glands is the norm for humans, but some people have six, eight, or even more.


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alternative title(s): Redundant Body Parts; Backup Organs
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