I need a soul, Ralph. Any soul.
When people use the phrase "soulless monster," they usually mean the person they're referring to isn't acting
like a (decent) human being, not that they actually lack a soul and are a monsternote
. In fiction, some characters really are
soulless, and often act like monsters because of it.
When a character loses their soul
, they normally become a listless Empty Shell
or transform into The Heartless
; the Soulless, however, are active, rational, and still recognizably human in almost every sense
. They just lack a soul. The Soulless is motivated by one thing only: getting a soul. Any old soul will do, but frequently they want their own soul back for sentimental reasons. Much like the "Damaged Soul
" case of Came Back Wrong
, problems arise because the character is no longer bound by ethical (and sometimes natural
) laws and demonstrates a disturbing Lack of Empathy
(and sometimes a lack of survival instincts). A Nice Guy
will break fingers
, The Cutie
will just break,
and even the Friend to All Living Things
will rampage through a petting zoo if it brings them closer to their goal. While a soulless character doesn't necessarily become a soulless killing machine
don't fare very well without one. Even if both of these traits are independent of the soul and don't suffer in its absence, most Soulless characters have a change in worldview that does erode their good nature.
If they do get it back, expect a reaction along the lines of "My God, What Have I Done?!"
as the backlogged ennui catches up with them. At least, if they can get better.
Things can always get worse
, of course. For some people, the loss of a soul enables them to freely jump headfirst down the slip and slide
of The Dark Side
, or simply smile and carry on as if nothing happened
... and kill anyone who disagrees. Like an appendix, it was just a useless organ weighing them down.
If the world is lucky, its absence will be felt before long. The Love Interest
leaves them because they aren't treated the same (and their kisses no longer bring joy), they don't feel happy at a friend's birthday, or sad at their father's funeral. What they do
feel is a keen emptiness that gnaws on their conscious mind like an ever-growing black hole slowly syphoning a star's outer layers. With any luck, they'll try to get their soul back using mostly moral means.
Compare with The Unfettered
, a similar but more mundane trope.
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Anime and Manga
- The Homunculi in Fullmetal Alchemist.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, according to Beatrice, furniture is like this, including Shannon, Kanon, and Genji. Presumably not Kumasawa though. While this isn't exactly true, there's a reason why Beatrice has this view.
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has an instance of something that is not technically alive (a clone of the protagonist... magical clones do not count as "alive" in this series) gaining a soul anyway. Without said soul (or a fragment of someone else's soul), that being was devoid of any personality or morals, and single-mindedly pursued its main objective in a manner not unlike the Terminator.
- Black Butler: The Bizarre Dolls from the now-concluded Ship Voyage Arc. For a human not under Faustian Contract to truly die, a Shinigami must collect their soul and cut their Cinematic Record. The Undertaker, however, discovered this trope after attaching an endless continuation to the Cinematic Record. Among others.
- Detective Shadow from a Korean animated movie named Yobi, the Five-Tailed Fox used to be human, but he lost a soul - presumably to someone of Yobi's kind. Now all he cares about is stealing a soul from any human available, which turns out to be his sole motivation.
- Joker becomes this in virtually every adaptation of his origin-story and is apparently the result of a side-effect of his "insanity". As such every-time he's temporarily rendered sane he regrets his crimes.(Although he still has antipathy towards Batman and Gotham)
- Stalker, a short lived Sword and Sorcery title from DC Comics, was about a warrior that sold his soul for immortality. In order to get his soul back, he had to abolish all war in his homeworld and slay the supreme deity.
- Also from DC Comics is Sebastian Faust, the son of sorcerous bad guy Felix Faust. His dad bartered away his own soul for power, but when he needed more and the demon wouldn't renegotiate the first deal, he sold Sebastian's soul. He seems to get along fine without it, though he did feel relieved to get it back during a Crisis Crossover — only to have to lose it in order to set things right.
- The (kind of) silver lining for Sebastian is that the demon Nebiros screwed over Felix by granting Sebastian the power instead. As his Meaningful Name would suggest, Felix has a bad habit of making Deals With the Devil that leave him worse off in the long run.
- In Blackest Night, it turns out that Nekron doesn't have a soul, which makes him conveniently immune to the Spectre's power.
- In the short lived Warlock And The Infinity Watch Marvel series, villain Count Abyss sold his soul for power and set in motion a complicated scheme to steal Adam Warlock's soul gem. It works until he is forcibly given the soul of a good and just person.
- In Secret Six, Ragdoll was born without a soul, something highly valued in Hell; only a handful of beings since the beginning of time have been born like that. Like Sebastian Faust, being soulless doesn't seem to have had any impact - Ragdoll is the comparative 'white sheep' of a family of utter monsters.
- Layla Miller of X-Factor has recently demonstrated the ability to bring people back to life, in addition to Knowing Stuff . The only problem is they come back sans their soul, resulting in them feeling next to no joy from anything, and being a little bitter. This was first used on Trevor Fitzroy, causing his Face-Heel Turn, and then on formerly Fun Personified Guido. The worry she had done this to Jamie after he "died" and woke up nearly caused Monet to kill her/leave the team.
- Green Arrow was resurrected without a soul, as well as any memories of his past during his Darker and Edgier years. He seemed to get along fine without it (the lack of memories made him cheerier, if anything), but his lack of a soul made him very vulnerable to Demonic Possession, which would be a very bad thing for the whole world. He eventually convinced his soul (still in Heaven at the time) to come back to his body.
- Mephisto's son Blackheart was created without a soul, a trait carried over into the movie.
- In The Killing Dream, the first arc of X-23's solo series, a demon possessing the body of Wolverine attempts to convince Laura that as a clone (and especially because of all the horrific things she's done in her life) she has no soul in an effort to convince her to serve him. During her resulting Battle in the Center of the Mind, Laura is approached by a vision of herself, who shows her that Laura wasn't created as an emotionless killing machine, but that it was the conscious effort of Zander Rice, Kimura, and the rest of the project that broke her. Her other self reveals she is the remnant of Laura's humanity that survived the process, which gives her the power to defeat the demon, freeing herself and saving Hellion's life. Despite this, Laura is left in doubt over how much of what the demon said was true and whether or not she possess a soul. When Miss Sinister attempts to steal her body, Laura openly questions her on this point, though Sinister is unable to offer an answer and instead admits she has given the idea of whether or not clones have a soul little thought. Laura later asks Blackheart, another demon, whether or not she has a soul, figuring that someone who tortured souls as a hobby would be able to tell. Blackheart mockingly assures her that she has a soul since he wouldn't be able to make her suffer if she didn't have one.
Films — Animated
- The Fabrication Machine in 9 was, according to its creator, flawed because it didn't have a soul. When it's reactivated, it promptly tries to fix itself.
Films — Live-Action
- It is repeatedly reiterated in Arcia Chronicles that Orcs don't have a soul, although what exactly that means is unclear. In fact, their apparent soullessness results in them being much more noble and goodhearted than humans and Elves, since they "only have one life."
- Making this a rather spectacular subversion of the stereotypical Always Chaotic Evil Orcs.
- They aren't particularly more goodhearted, and they still are roped into serving the first Big Bad. Also, Always Chaotic Evil Orcs are a subversion by the current point, thanks to every fantasy writer trying to be "original."
- Subverted in "The Fisherman and his Soul" by Oscar Wilde, in which a young fisherman is magically separated from his soul, which takes on human guise and travels around without him — and the fisherman is largely unaffected, while the soul becomes a typical "soulless" monster-in-human-form. It's explained that this is because the fisherman still has a loving heart, while the soul is both literally and metaphorically heartless.
- Played straight in another Oscar Wilde work, The Picture of Dorian Gray. The titular character loses his soul in a Deal with the Devil which allows his portrait to age and take the physical effects of his sins instead of him. This lack of consequences leads him to live a life of sin.
- Johannes Cabal the Necromancer spends his eponymous book trying to regain his soul.
- The protagonist of Soulless by Gail Carriger was born without a soul, but she does not find her condition troublesome. She studies philosophy to compensate for her natural lack of morals, and uses reason instead of spirituality to be a good person. Souls in this universe are a quantifiable possession — those who have large amounts, such as artists and musicians, are more likely to survive the transition into werewolf or vampire, while those who have none at all, such as the protagonist, can actually neutralize others' powers when in physical contact with them.
- In Arthur Machen's novella "The Inmost Light," a man removes the soul of his wife, who takes to acting inhumanly. It is implied that something else has taken the soul's place.
- Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, to an extent. Because of all the Horcruxes he made, very little of his actual soul remains inside his body, which seems to have been largely responsible for the sociopathic but self-controlled Tom Riddle's degeneration into the Ax-Crazy Voldemort.
- It's worth noting that people who are actually soulless, as opposed to mostly soulless, are basically empty husks in the Harry Potter verse, with no memories, personality, or consciousness. One of the ways of becoming soulless is being fed upon by a dementor, since these beings not only suck out emotions, but can also suck out a human's soul by "kissing" him. It's considered A Fate Worse Than Death.
- The demons in Terry Brooks' The Word and the Void trilogy, are former humans who sold, lost, or otherwise gave up their souls to The Void. They're Chaotic Evil sociopaths prone to casual murder and Mind Screw, and who exist only to destroy all of creation. Since they were once human, they blend in easily among their former compatriots, and depending on how long they've been without a soul, and just what sort of other deals they've made with The Void, they may also manifest other powers, ranging from spellcasting to Shapeshifting to mind control.
- In one of the short story sketches in Jostein Gaarder's The Ringmaster's Daughter, there are exactly 12 billion souls in the world and that they are recycled. Going over this number results in people being born with a "Lack of Soul Disease," which they never recover from. This gets the Catholic Church to start promoting the idea of birth control.
- Individuals in Scorpion Shards whose souls have been eaten function as p-zombies. They act exactly like ensouled people, and many of them aren't even aware they're soulless (insofar as the term "aware" can be applied to a creature defined by its lack of awareness.) They're harmless, but the main characters usually kill them as a form of Due to the Dead.
- In The Case Of The Toxic Spell Dump, exposure to arcane contamination can cause infants to be born without a soul. The condition is called "apsychia", and is considered a birth defect; it's suggested that this alternate Earth's counterpart to Hitler was apsychic, and therefore felt free to commit genocide because he'd never have to pay for it in Hell.
- In The Dresden Files, most intelligent beings do not have souls. This includes both the Red and Black Court vampires, as well as the Fae. This doesn't automatically make them evil...but it does make then inhuman and apparently coincides with a lack of true free will. In this setting, faeries can be compelled more easily than humans and it's not illegal to do so, and they are more bound by their nature than humans (creatures of habit, in other words) and unable to change it the way humans can reinvent themselves. The White Court 'vampires', on the other hand, appear to be basically a kind of human being, and they most certainly do have souls, and apparently free will (though this is somewhat limited by the fact that they share said soul with an unintelligent but very hungry demon). Angels (Fallen or otherwise), invert this trope- they're all soul, with bodies being temporary and incidental to their being (though Fallen sometimes possess humans).
- Dresden Files, being a series of books about wizards, also ties the concept of souls and names together very tightly. A human, having free will and the ability to craft his own soul, has the magical nature of their name _change_ over time, explaining why Wizards are sometimes willing to give out parts of their name to supernatural creatures... in a few decades, it will have lost the ability to influence them unless they give it away again. Fae and many other supernatural creatures aren't so much soulless as that they have _fixed_ souls, so once one knows their true name you have incredible power over them. Fallen and other angels are creatures whose entire soul is crafted as an instrument of divine authority, so their names can draw their attention and give them power over the speaker. And the big bads of the series... don't have names at all, and are thus soulless in the actual sense of the meme and not just the in-world theology. For reference, the nameless literally want to eat the world, and giving them a name neuters them.
- Explored in Warbreaker because of how the magic system, Awakening, is powered by Breaths, a form of mystical energy everyone possesses and is considered analogous to the soul in-universe (though per Word of God, a Breath seems more like part of a soul). Everyone is born with one breath, but they can be given away- someone who holds a lot has various innate supernatural abilities, and using Awakening requires a pretty large supply. To the Austrian religion, a Drab (someone with no Breaths) is considered to have suffered a Fate Worse than Death, while to the state religion of Hallandren, it's seen as no big deal. Word of God puts it somewhere in between- a Drab's humanity is still intact in all meaningful ways he or she retains identity, memory, personality, and such, but they are more irritable, more prone to sickness, and have duller senses.
- In Conan and the Sorcerer, Conan ran afoul of a wizard named Hissar Zul and had his soul imprisoned in a mirror, until it could be broken by a crowned noble. The only effect seemed to be that Zul could compel Conan to do his bidding by threatening his soul. Conan got his soul back in the sequel novel, Conan the Mercenary.
- Jim Stevens in Reborn is a very nice guy. However, he is a clone and doesn't have a real soul. This allows Otherness to use him in Rasalom's reincarnation.
- Fiona Goode in American Horror Story tries to sell her soul to the devil. Turns out, she HAS no soul to sell, therefore, nothing he wants, so she is incapable of ever making a demonic deal. Good if you're good. Bad if you're as evil as she is.
- Vampires have no souls. Instead a demon takes up residence in the body, having all the original person's memories and seemingly believing themselves to be that person. Essentially a human soul is replaced with a demonic one, but retains the same mind.
- Angel himself can become one of these if the conditions of his curse are met (Perfect Happiness). When his human soul departs, the demon is able to take over again and really enjoys being let off the chain. As the series progressed, he actually fit this trope less well because they started playing up the duality of Angel and Angelus as seperate consciousnesses (with Angelus trapped within Angel as long as a soul was in place).
- Also, the Angel episode "I've Got You Under My Skin" reveals what happens when a human is born without a soul. The boy ended up being possessed by a body snatching demon. He responded by imprisoning it within him and tried to burn his family alive. When it was exorcised the demon let itself be killed, more afraid of the void inside the child than death.
- More like the boy was a complete sociopath, and the demon explained this condition in terms of him not having a soul. Possibly soullessness is either the cause or a side effect of all sociopathy in this Verse.
- In Season 9, Angel uses the Crown of Coils on a human skeleton. The body heals completely but, as Angel explains, without a soul the man will just die again.
- Tales from the Crypt: In the episode "Doctor of Horror", an amoral scientist extracts the soul from the body of his morally conscious assistant and places it in a jar. The body comes back a soulless monster bent on revenge. He proceeds to torture the scientist with his own implements since there was no soul to hold him back.
- In Season 6 of Supernatural it's revealed that people without souls no longer need to sleep, are resistant to some magical effects, and lose all empathy. Their normal goals seem to remain intact.
- Angels and demons also don't have souls, though demons in this universe are similar to ghosts.
- We've yet to see a soulless individual on-panel in Candorville, but apparently it's common practice for at least one secret faction to feed children's souls to monsters—the resultant shells are still capable of following orders, and can easily be trained as assassins.
- Every. Single. Promethean. The imbalance of being a soulless homunculus makes every Promethean emotionally unstable and at odds with humanity. Though they never had one to begin with, they can create one for themselves when their pilgrimage succeeds. If they live that long, anyway.
- This has some interesting theological implications. One of the books in the line states that some Ulgans are rather enthusiastic about creating new Prometheans - after all, every time a Promethean completes the Pilgrimage, it brings a new soul into the world. (Most, however, note the rate of attrition and keep their expectations minimal.)
- Also from the New World of Darkness, all Fetches and True Fae in Changeling: The Lost lack a soul, and the vast majority are none the nicer because of it.
- Most of the fetches are none the worse either, making this an intriguing example. Fetches are composed of a shred of the Changeling's shadow and whatever happens to be lying around; the shadow-shred is described as being, in-universe, a metaphor for a little wad of the Changeling's soul- Fae being what they are, metaphors work just as well as the real thing. One Fetch Echo (power) is the ability to rip the shadow (and thus, the soul) from someone else and eat it to restore lost health. The victim gets better after a scene.
- Changelings themselves aren't too sure if they have souls - when one is dragged into Arcadia, it feels a lot like something gets torn out of you, and no one is sure if they ever get it back. Those changelings who completely lose it and turn into homicidal maniacs are called "the soulless" for a reason - the opinion of the rest is that they didn't find their souls on the way home.
- This is not an illogical thing to worry about in context of the other splats, either — exposure to the hedge can turn a werewolf into just the monster with no balancing man-half, and a Mage dragged through the hedge without proper protections can lose his ability to cast magic, which is something they do with said souls.
- The page picture is of a Fetch Spawn, the child of a fetch, born without even the shadow fragment of a Changeling's soul that the Fetch parent has. They are scary.
- And as part of White Wolf being Magnificent Bastards, you can't just kill a baby you know is a Fetch's and avoid the whole thing-it's just as likely, if not more so, that they actually were born with a soul, leading to a spooky but otherwise normal Fetch Child...who are spooky because they see through Glamour, and open gates to the Hedge by just existing. Oh yeah, and they're inherent weapons against the True Fae, so if you meet a Fetch's son that seems to have a conscience/inkling that other people exist, by God's sake keep him alive!
- If you can even detect or hurt the bugger. Fetch-Spawn are insanely hard to see unless they want to be (which, given that they're unemotional murderers, is not often), and are not only immune to magic, but can drain it with a touch.
- Yet again from the nWOD, the Illuminated from Genius The Transgression are described as having had their souls burnt away to nothing by the light of Inspiration within them. Some of them act like you expect, others act even MORE strangely.
- And again from the nWOD - in lines like Mage: The Awakening, it's possible for a person to have their soul stolen by a powerful mage. If this happens, their Morality (or equivalent thereof) goes down at a rate of once per week, and they likely have to roll a Derangement check as part of the process. And once they hit Morality 0, they start losing Willpower next, until they end up near-catatonic wretches... or possessed by something willing to use them as a hand puppet. If the soul can be restored or replaced, however, their Morality and Willpower slowly refill.
- The Necrons of Warhammer 40,000 are this trope. And the worst part is, they are not even treated as the worst faction in the universe (although one of the strongest contenders for the position). The forces of chaos are the complete opposite and still manage to be at an at least equal level to the Necrons in nastiness. This being Warhammer 40000, however, raping, killing, murdering, maiming and burning your enemies does not even begin to describe the situation. Chaos actually fear the necrons somewhat due to their soulless nature.
- Pariahs and blanks, humans who don't register to psykers (and in fact disrupt psychic powers), are generally considered to be humans born without souls. The Necrons can turn pariahs into more of their own, which does lend some credence to the theory.
- The Necrons technically still have souls — souls trapped in their undying metal shells. It's just that after millions of years of dormancy and poor maintenance in mechanical bodies the Necrons are little more than automated killing machines. The souls are still there but they about as important to the Necrons as a human appendix.
- According to the latest 40k edition, it's not their souls so much as a computer recording of them. Which is part of why they're so craaaazy, since their programming/memories/'souls' have decayed due to all the rezzing.
- As a whole, the Necrons qualify more for status as empty shells than anything else. They are not crazy in any sense of the word, rather ruthless, cold and calculating.
- Except the Flayed Ones. Even other Necrons consider them crazy because they cover themselves in the flesh and skin of their slain enemies.
- 40K also has the Eldar Solitaire. Normal Eldar fear for their soul and use soul stones that will capture their souls at the moment of death so that Slaanesh can't devour them. The Solitaire has willingly given his/her soul to Slaanesh, but still lives among the Eldar and fights Chaos. Rulewisely they have always been a One-Man Army immune to fear. This is why only the Solitaire can play the role of Slaanesh in the Harlequin performance that dramatizes the Fall of the Eldar. Others who attempt it go mad due to getting too absorbed in the role of Slaanesh.
- The explicit premise of Dead Inside, where the player characters all start out having lost their souls through various means. All Dead Inside are impaired when it comes to social behavior, because their lack of soul makes it harder for them to feel emotions, but they're not stunted to the point they're completely amoral (well, not all of them). The setting and rules explicitly maintain that acting in a moral, positive manner can encourage the regrowth of a soul, while amoral bastardry will destroy what little you have left, though if you're lucky and clever you can trade or steal soul from others and keep doing whatever you feel like doing.
- Four certain someones in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn lack souls at one point, and feel "empty."
- Also, one gains something similar to Unstoppable Rage due to losing it (and... other factors).
- Nobodies, including Organization XIII, in Kingdom Hearts II technically do have souls. What they lack is a heart, and in the world of Kingdom Hearts, the heart provides the functions that the soul would in most other works. The more powerful ones remember what it was like to have a heart, and are understandably put out about the loss. Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] reveals that this is actually a lie by the Big Bad — anything that thinks of itself as a person will grow a heart in time, even if it lacks one now.
- Happens to Colette for a short time in Tales of Symphonia. She lacks emotions entirely. She follows the group because they seem willing to defend her. She reacts violently to aggression, to the point that the very heavily-armed and futuristic army won't dare touch her. And to top it all off, she literally kicks a dog.
- The Darkspawn of Dragon Age are soulless monsters in every way. They are literally soulless making them convenient vessels for an Archdemon to possess if it's slain. They also happen to be savage, vicious, and rape-happy.
- The Soulless Gods in Lusternia. The only tangible difference between they and The Elder Gods is that by the time the Elders were made, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Creation had figured out the knack of creating souls. The net result? The Soulless are Omnicidal Maniacs who relentlessly devour the souls of all other living things in an attempt to feel less empty.
- The Collectors of Mass Effect 2. In the words of Mordin: "No glands, replaced by tech. No digestive system, replaced by tech. No soul, replaced by tech."
- In the first Baten Kaitos, one fortune teller notes she can't sense Kalas's inner magnus. Latter conversations reveal that it's just a very different soul (The fortune teller is noted as looking for red blood and not noticing blue blood) caused by his Artificial Human status.
- Dark Souls: There are lots and lots of entities who gorge on Souls, and if they don't have any, will go to great lengths to obtain some. This includes every player character ever.
- The Falmer (pale, blind, degenerate underground-dwelling humanoids) from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim technically still have souls... Only these are the lesser, "White" kind of souls meaning that they are neither sentient nor free-willed anymore. The only thing they still feel is hatred of surface-dwelling, really sentient races. As an Elven-derived race, they originally had real, "Black" souls.
- In Fallen London, approximately ten percent of the population of London are soulless, generally having either sold it - not necessarily for a good price or in a fair deal - or had it stolen by a spirifer (a sort of soul-poacher). Your player character can sell their soul as well. The effects of not having a soul seem to be different for different people, but a certain deadening of emotion and empathy and/or lapsing into various levels of depression are common. The possibility of Creative Sterility is brought up, but being soulless never hinders you in the storylines where your character creates a work of art. It also has no effect on your ability to return from the dead. It's not particularly clear in-universe or out of it what purpose the soul serves for its owner; devils value them, though. Possibly as a foodstuff.
- The third Infinity Blade game introduces the Soulless. These are clones of the Deathless that possess the memories of the originals but lack their Quantum Identity Patterns (ie souls). Without a true QIP of their own, the Soulless cannot resurrect in the same way the Deathless can. A Soulless copy of the fallen God-King Raidriar is fought in the main storyline. In the expansion "Ausar Rising", Siris and Isa face a Soulless copy of Ausar the Vile aka Siris prior to his memory loss created by a cult of Ausar's former worshipers.
- In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures , the offspring between a Fae and any other race will always be a soulless shell called a Husk. It's alive, but devoid of any consciousness, and it always dies young. This is because the Fae population only has a set number of souls, and an old Fae has to die before a new one can be born. Husks represent one of the few limitations that the near omnipotent Fae cannot overcome no matter what: they cannot create new souls. The Fae aren't happy about this and they always try to find a way around it — and they always fail.
- Combined with Beast Man this is what the humanoid fae in Drowtales sees the goblin races as due to not having an aura. In practice they are more like muggles without any technical advantages.
- The word "soul" is never used in Homestuck, but Aradia fits this trope in every way but name when she first appears. Stops once she gets some semblance of a body back, but her reaction isn't so much My God, What Have I Done? as a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- As a consequence, her robot body is commonly called a "soulbot" by the fans.
- A Cracked article portrayed Mario Lopez as this, while a drugged and drunk Cracked reporter followed him around after asking him to drop the act and just "be himself". It started with absolutely all expression leaving his face, and culminated with him breaking into an old children's hospital so he could eat feathers from the beds on which children had died.
- A rare heroic example: Gireon Arkiof from Chaos Fighters: Chemical Warriors-RAKSA. He doesn't even want his soul back. This is lampshaded when Mifrent lamented why people with souls mostly fight against themselves and with a chapter titled Soulless Hero VS Soulful villain.
- RWBY contains monsters called the Grim, who are called soulless beings that personify the darkness (which is notable in a world where every living creature has a soul and aura).
- Bart Simpson sold his soul to Millhouse for $5. His breath didn't fog glass, automatic doors didn't open for him, dogs growled when he passed... No evil acts, though.
- Though, he did get desperate enough to try and take Ralph Wiggum's soul. When Chief Wiggum interrupted him, Bart hisses at him and his eyes briefly turn into slits.
- Solomon Grundy from Justice League started off as a villainous, gray Hulk expy. Then in the episode "The Terror Beyond", Grundy learned his own backstory—that he was a zombie and had no soul. Once he realized this, regaining his soul suddenly became Grundy's first priority.
- In Transformers: Beast Machines, Rhinox, the Genius Bruiser and Reluctant Warrior in Beast Wars, undergoes a Face-Heel Turn and becomes an example of this trope in Beast Machines. When Rattrap inadvertently discovers that Rhinox's spark has been removed and reprogrammed into evil general Tankor, he makes a plan to simply reprogram the Tankor out of him, reverting him to the happy good guy that was a shining example of all the Maximals represented. Optimus Primal decides that because Rhinox says he actually prefers being the evil thing he has become, it would would make the Maximals just like Megatron to to force him to change back.
- Later episodes saw Tankor revert to Rhinox's persona after his death, and express regret for what he'd done. Incidents with fellow Vehicons Jetstorm and Thrust suggest that lack of a soul wasn't a problem; rather, it was the fact that the soul was trapped in a Megatron-programmed, inorganic body.
- Noble, Nightscream's purely organic companion, eventually turned out to be Megatron's spark in a new organic body. When Megatron was removed, Noble somehow lived on without a spark of his own. In a subversion, the soulless Noble was loyal to Nightscream and a decent, if animalistic being. He died shortly afterwards at the hands of his former "soul".
- Xiaolin Showdown - One of the big bads, Chase Young, turned to the Heylin (evil) side after Hannibal Roy Bean convinced him to drink the Lao-Mang Soup, which not only made him immortal and very powerful but drained him of his soul.
- South Park: Cartman's woodland critters (in addition to being pure evil) are this trope. Trent Boyett who became hell-bent on revenge after being more or less screwed over became this when he got out of the juvenile detention center.
- Cartman once spread the idea that gingers have no souls. Kyle said that Cartman was just being an asshole, but then the town's gingers started acting very creepy and abducting other children under Cartman's orders.
- A related concept from philosophy is the philosophical zombie (p-zombie). A p-zombie is an entity that is physically and behaviourally indistinguishable from a human being. However, a p-zombie has no inner life—that is, no conscious experiences. All of a p-zombie's actions are ultimately just responses to stimuli. It is argued that, even if they don't exist, the fact that p-zombies are logically possible means that consciousness is not a purely physical phenomena and that a mind is not entirely the product of physical systems (the brain and body).
- Some clinically depressed people don't feel sad so much as completely numb on the inside.
- Also a sensation produced by child abuse. Hence the common description of such acts as "soul-destroying".
- Psychopaths (that is, people who meet the clinical definition of the word) would often produce this strange effect on other people. Consider the person called Ted Bundy. Or even look Karla Homolka in the eyes! Compare The Unfettered.