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Who Needs Their Whole Body?
"Careful! It's gonna give us a good bite in the kneecaps!"
So yeah, I just killed this huge guy over here. How, you ask? By chopping him in half with my BFS! Surely, No One Could Survive That! But wait, what? What do you mean, part of him is getting back up?! What the hell does it take to stop this guy?!

This trope is basically when a sentient being is able to function without their entire body in one piece. The portion of the being that's still functioning is often quite frightening to look at. In most cases it takes a hit to the brain to actually stop it, but there have been cases where even that doesn't work.

Frequently overlaps with Organ Autonomy. When this happens with someone's head, see Losing Your Head. When this happens in a video game, it's usually a case of Didn't Need Those Anyway.

See also Pulling Themselves Together, for when they do want that part back.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Princess Mononoke, Moro's severed head manages to jump up and bite Lady Eboshi's arm clean off.
  • In Dragon Ball and its successor series:
    • Sgt. Metallic was a robot who was able to keep fighting even after his head and hands were destroyed, only stopping when his batteries ran out. Since he was a Shout-Out to The Terminator, that's not surprising.
    • Frieza ended up getting in the way of his own attack and losing the lower half of his body and an arm. (see the image links page) At first, it doesn't seem like this trope is in effect. He isn't outright killed, but he can't even move. Once he gets a little bit of a power recharge, he suddenly doesn't seem to be that worried about half of his body being gone. Later on, he gets cybernetic replacements for his missing parts.
      • His brother Kooler is a similar example; after being blasted through the sun by Goku in his first movie appearance, it turns out that a piece of his head not much bigger than his EYE survived and later fused with a sentient computer.
    • Cell's feats include his tail and arm being ripped off, but the most extreme example is after Goku surprises him with a Kamehameha at point-blank, literally exploding the top half of his body. Everyone is then shocked when his legs and torso leap to their feet.
    • Majin Buu is a pro at this; due to his incredible regenerative abilities, he will often just sit there and let his opponent slice or blast him into pieces, only to laugh and reform himself.
  • In Franken Fran, people upgraded with regeneration tend to do this when bisected. In one case Fran herself cut her bottom half off when her hips didn't fit in the ventilation duct she needed to escape through. She survived through, being ambiguously undead.
  • Black Claw in Re: Cutie Honey is all over the place with this one. First she's decapitated, and her body gets up and keeps fighting while her head continues taunting the protagonist. When she feels her body needs the power boost form her head again, she reattaches it, only to be bisected vertically. Her two halves have a brief conversation afterward.
  • Battle Angel Alita is rather notorious for this, once letting a foe slice her arm off at the shoulder so she could overcome a reach disadvantage with the resulting impromptu club.
  • Hisoka from Hunter × Hunter lets an arm get cut off for fun one time, too. He then swings it around on invisible sticky energy string for a while, and then patches it on with camouflage energy sheets and pretends it's reattached before playing with the guy a little more and then losing interest. Then he goes away, calls a specialist to sew his arm back on with energy microfilament, and has a shower.
    • From the same author, the elder Toguro brother in YuYu Hakusho gets blasted down to about half of his head, first by Kuwabara owning him and then by his little brother exploding. He's weakened, but still perfectly lucid.
  • When Xelloss of Slayers loses an arm and more than half his torso, he is still able to talk, move, and use his powers to teleport and heal himself.
    • Ozzel of the same series can remove her head with no problem due to being a doll.
  • In Bleach, Cirucci Sanderwicci does this to herself in her fight with Ishida. In a unique take on the Clipped Wing Angel tropes, Cirucci reveals that her bird-like Resurrección actually takes a lot of spiritual power to maintain. When Ishida pushes her too far, she reveals that she can remove the armor, wings, and arms of her Resurrección in order to bypass this drain on her energy. Unfortunately for her, this change is permanent. Cirucci specifically compares it to having a limb amputated.

    Comic Books 
  • In Stormwatch: Team Achilles, a gynoid taunted her attacker who had shot her in the head: "I don't keep my brain there, you idiot! It's in my chest surrounded by inches of diamondsteel!"
  • In the Batman comics, cyborg foe Gearhead has been shown crawling after Batman (or away from him) with most of his robot body destroyed.
  • Doctor Who Magazine: In "The Deep Hereafter", Half Nelson is literally Half the Man He Used to Be following a transporter accident. He is still a viable threat to the Doctor.

    Film 
  • Prince of Darkness. The woman who becomes The Chosen One of Satan has her head cut off. She picks up her head and puts it back on her neck, where it re-attaches itself.
  • Kind of a running theme for the Terminator franchise. The eponymous killer robots absolutely will not stop until they've killed their target, even if it means dragging what's left of their damaged torso across the floor with their legs blown off just so they can still kill them with their bare hands.
    • In the original The Terminator, the T-800 continues to pursue Sarah Connor after Kyle Reese blows its legs off with a pipe bomb.
    • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the T-X detaches her (presumably crushed) legs after Arnold finds that the perfect parking space for his stolen helicopter is right on top of her.
    • In Terminator Salvation, a T-600's upper half attacks John Connor and doesn't stop attacking him until he completely redecorates its face using a machine gun. Justified because it's a robot.
  • Gmork the werewolf does this in The Neverending Story.
  • The Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail simultaneously plays this straight (he's still alive and up for a fight with injuries that would normally be fatal almost immediately) and subverts it (not very threatening anymore, what?)
  • The 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans has a hand which changes into a giant scorpion.
  • Knights by Albert Pyun has Gabriel getting blown in two. Played with in that he just crawls over to another cyborg's corpse and chops its legs off for spare parts.
  • Bishop in Aliens is able to operate after he is cut in half. Even in the next movie.
  • The Bug in Men In Black. Justified because it's apparently some interstellar relative of a cockroach, which can live without parts of their bodies.
  • Used as a Jump Scare in the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004), while the mall security guards are checking around the mall's garage, a legless zombie clinging to the rafters brings down one of the men.
  • Happens in Beyond Re-Animator to an unfortunate Jerkass zombie-turned prison inmate, who continues his un-life as a bloodied torso.
  • Brain Dead / Dead Alive has several instances; the disembodied organs of a biker punk crawl around for half the movie menacing people, and the top half of a zombie's head manages to threateningly roll his eyes until someone sticks him in a blender...
  • In Mimic 2, the resident jock brandishes a blade torn from a paper cutter and a leg severed from a bug, suggesting they should attempt to fight their way to safety with improvised weapons, only to embarrassingly upstaged by the resident geek pointing out that, yeah, he's strong enough to chop off a bug's head - that just means it will die of thirst in about a week. Humans like themselves will be long dead as the reflex action of the bug's body will have shredded them. In the first movie, a bug takes a full clip from a semiauto pistol after being sliced in half by a sliding door and still manages to scurry out of sight after maiming the shooter. In short, the bugs can only be killed by the equivalent of being crushed to paste - like being hit by speeding subway trains or incinerated with high explosives.
  • Used a number of times in the Return of the Living Dead series, sometimes as Nausea Fuel (like the rotted-to-nearly-skeleton upper torso and arms that they nailed to a table and interrogated), sometimes Played for Laughs (like in the first sequel with the severed hand that gave the finger to the humans that were using flamethrowers on the equally severed head).
  • In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan chops off the head of one of General Greivous bodyguards, only to discover it can still fight without it.
  • Subverted in End of Days. Satan's human host is eventually reduced to a damaged torso only kept alive by Satan's influence and yells at the hero that trying to stop him is pointless since he's immortal. He needs a functioning host to sire the Antichrist however, so he evacuates it for a better one.

    Folklore 
  • In the story Gawain and the Green Knight, the Green Knight comes to Camelot, taunts the knights, and issues a challenge: he will allow any knight to deal him one blow and then he will return the following year to inflict the same. Gawain accepts the challenge and decapitates him. The Green Knight picks up his severed head and tells him to meet him at the Green Chapel at the appointed time.

    Literature 
  • The Zombie Survival Guide warns that disembodied zombie heads are still a danger, and need to be destroyed completely.
  • Harry Keogh, Brian Lumley's titular Necroscope, can call the dead out of the ground to fight for him, and does so on several occasions. When the dead are destroyed, even the blown-off arms try to crawl into the enemy positions and strangle the gunners.
  • R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms novels, like Streams of Silver, take the troll ability to regenerate even further than the game. (It sometimes seems he didn't read the Monster Manual.) Even a severed troll hand can function independently and grow into a new troll, and eating a troll has been known to result in a grisly death for the eating animal when the eaten troll starts growing back together. Fire still prevents this, but acid doesn't in that book because it had yet to be added to the rules.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The battered Cyberman from "The Pandorica Opens" does most of its attacking with a disembodied head and arm. The head also reattaches.
    • There was also Cassandra, who was born a normal human with a body, but by the time the Doctor encountered her had been reduced to a face in a blob of stretched-out skin and a Brain in a Jar.
    • And Ursula from "Love & Monsters", who ends up as a face in a block of concrete.
  • In Living Color! had "The Head Detective", a series of skits about a cop that was badly injured and had to undergo amputation... of everything except his head (with little plastic feet and hands stuck on.)
  • Angel once went up against a demon that kept piecing itself back together and attacking no matter how many times he chopped him in half.
    Angel: Come ON! I'm holding your head!
  • The 'Bicycle Girl' half-zombie, complete with trailing entrails, in the pilot episode of The Walking Dead.
  • A fairly realistic version in Breaking Bad. After one of the Salamanca cousins is crushed by a car, he ends up in the hospital with both his legs amputated. But when he sees Walt he tears out his IV and heart monitor, rolls out of bed, and drags himself across the floor, death-staring Walt the whole way. Having no legs only marginally slows his quest for revenge.
  • MythQuest episode 6: A mysterious knight lets Caradoc cut his head off, then picks it up, retrieves his sword, and walks out the door.

    Pinball 
  • Pin*Bot lacks a lower torso and legs.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons.
    • Iron golems could continue to function after losing their heads, including breathing out poison gas.
    • Module I6 Ravenloft. When Strahd zombies had their limbs cut off, the limbs could continue to attack.
    • More generally, constructs (like golems) and most undead (aside from vampires) can survive decapitation, and anything with multiple heads (like hydras) can survive losing any head but the last one. Creatures with the regeneration ability (like trolls) can grow back lost body parts or even reattach them by holding the severed limb against the stump. Many oozes have the Split ability which causes certain attacks to divide them into a pair of identical oozes just as formidable as the original except with half the hit points.
  • Some pictures from Warhammer 40,000 show damaged Necrons crawling on their hands just like the T-600 in the picture above. Since their regeneration special rule was originally called "We'll be Back!", it makes perfect sense.

    Video Games 
  • The Mgalekgolo/"Hunters" from Halo. Justified because they're made up of thousands of Lekgolo/"Worms" all working together to create a large "body" designed for fighting.
  • Fallout 2's final boss, after finally being defeated, spontaneously bursts in half. Despite this, his upper body has enough strength to walk a few steps on his arms alone, and to leave his Final Speech for the player.
  • In the opening cinematic for Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, a Necron Warrior is shown doing this before it takes a bolt round to the face. In-game however, they're examples of Pulling Themselves Together.
  • In Madworld's Mad Castle stage, the common Mooks are zombies. If you want to cut them up, be sure to bisect them; cutting them in half at the waist won't put them away, and eventually they'll even regrow the bottom half.
  • Cyborg units in Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun will lose their legs once most of their health has been lost, but still function, albeit with reduced movement speed. They're still healed by tiberium, but it won't make them grow their legs back.
  • Necromorphs from Dead Space, who can often function without their legs, or heads.
  • Killing a zombie in Half-Life 2 by launching a sawblade at the torso with the gravity gun sometimes doesn't kill it: the zombie's upper torso will keep coming after the target. Conversely, killing a zombie with anything except fire or a headshot has a pretty high chance of the headcrab detaching itself from the corpse to find a new host.
  • Zombies in the Resident Evil series have been known to do this. There's a notable instance in the second game, where you blow a zombie in half with a shotgun and the top half keeps crawling towards you.
  • Some of the zombies in Diablo III will turn into crawling torsos when damaged; some of them start off that way.
  • In Torchlight II, skeletal torsos are among the corpses that can spontaneously animate when a character walks too near. They can also swarm out of bone piles.
  • Mummies in Hexen II. Blast them once, they lose their arms and keep shuffling. Blast their legs off, they inchworm toward you. And then, when they get close enough, they bite. The only way to put them down is to gib them. Hope you have plenty of mana.
  • The Crazy Razy robots at the beginning of IceMan's stage in the original Mega Man can actually become more dangerous if you aim too low and destroy only their legs, as their top halves gain the ability to fly above and punch you in the head.
  • Several bosses in Lollipop Chainsaw abandon severed body parts and continue attacking regardless.
    Nick: (To Vikke) Dude! Black knight! You have no legs! Stop already!

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama gives us a non-threatening example, with most robots (and people for that matter) just needing their heads to function, with bodies being more or less just a collection of handy abilities.
    Bender: "Bodies are for hookers and fat people."
  • The second series of Star Wars: The Clone Wars introduces a Geonosian hive mind so powerful that it can maintain strong connections with its warriors, living or dead. This includes the warriors that have otherwise fatal wounds to their bodies - you can shoot it with laser guns or chop it up with a lightsaber, but it'll keep coming for you.
    • Darth Maul also survived his bisection at the hands of Obi-Wan.
  • Speaking of Clone Wars, General Grievous has survived and fought on after losing the lower half of his body.
  • Men In Black: The Series: the clone of a Mad Doctor.
  • Scared Stiff has this in spades. He is a ghost robot, though.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: In "The Midnight Zone", Mystery, Inc is threatened by a group of partially assembled robots who crawl towards them on whatever limbs they have.


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