Willing Channeler

Binding a spirit of many faces to yourself may have side effects.

A type of Host that "willingly" allows him/herself to be possessed by someone or something. In Real Life, this is usually someone who performs a Spirit Medium role, like that of a shaman. The trope has been used more commonly in fantasy settings in conjunction with Demonic Possession from an evil spirit or magician specialized in Black Magic. When a Willing Channeler is possessed by such an entity, they become a Living Bodysuit. The opposite form of spirit however, being possessed by a benevolent force, is simply called Channeling, as it is more or less a mutualist Symbiotic relationship of a spiritual nature, and rarely does the "virtuous guest" force anything upon the host without consent and/or necessity.

Usually a Willing Channeler must perform a ritual of some sort to conjure the target spirit (s)he wants to be possessed by, but this is not the golden rule, just the norm (for the genre of fantasy at least). Also, even if the spirit does not possess the conjurer, the character is still considered a Willing Channeler for having committed to the desire to be possessed, even if the desire is not natural but actually an artificial compulsion (e.g. enchantment, drug usage, Mind Control, etc, etc). This possession may be visually represented with Transformation Of The Possessed, Prophet Eyes or other cues; if the possessing force is powerful and/or evil, there may be a mild case of Possession Burnout afterwards.

Note: A Willing Channeler is NOT the possessing entity, it is the host. Truth in Television as this is what Spiritualist Mediums invited and encouraged. Some of their reported voluntary possession relationships lasted for decades.

See also Heroic Host. Compare Symbiotic Possession, where the possession is initially forced, but afterwards (either immediately or gradually) becomes a mutually beneficial relationship.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ling, who accepts being possessed by Greed II to learn the secret of immortality in Fullmetal Alchemist. The two start sharing Ling's body after Greed starts to work with the good guys, however.
  • Shaman King revolves around this trope. The shamans all have the ability to summon ghosts or other spiritual entities and channel them through themselves or objects for new abilities.
  • Kannagi - Zange is also a kami, in possession of a body named Haruka. She sometimes has conversations with her host.
  • In Naruto: Tobi wishes to become one by creating the Ten Tails (Jyubi), a fusion of the other nine, and binding it to himself.
    • Similarly a ninja from the Cloud Village tried to do that with the Eight Tails but died.
    • The Original Sage of the Six Paths did this to the Ten Tails when fighting it.
  • In AKIRA, Kei becomes a medium for the combined powers of the three psychic children, wielding them to battle Tetsuo. (The manga is clearer about her choosing to work with them.)
  • InuYasha has it when Onigumo merges with several demons, and he is reborn as Naraku from this.

     Fan Works 
  • In the X-Men fic The Wraith Saga, Jason Wyngarde allows a shadowy cosmic entity called "the Wraith" to possess him so that he can get revenge on Jean Grey, who drove him insane with the power of the Phoenix Force (the Wraith's mortal enemy) back in The Dark Phoenix Saga.
  • Harmony Theory: Nightmare Umbra is possessing the willing Twinkle Shine.
  • This is how Celestia's solo use of the Elements is depicted in Magical Pony Lyrical Twilight A's.
  • In Chapter 1 of Graduate Meeting Of Mutual Killing, Aya Sawashiro, ex-Super High School Level Medium, willingly channels the murder victim to find the culprit. The spirit of the victim takes over her body and starts talking to the surviving graduates. Subverted, in that all was a farce to get the wrong person convicted, as Sawashiro was the real killer

  • In the movie Ghost, Oda Mae, a spirit medium, allows the late Sam to possess her so that he can touch his girlfriend again. Earlier in the movie she was possessed not-so-willingly by another ghost who wanted to talk to his widow.
  • In Racing Daylight, Sadie welcomes Anna and is even amused by her more free-spirited actions. They get along partly because they're both interested in Henry, whom Sadie has been too shy to approach.

  • Matthew Swift and the blue electric angels in A Madness of Angels. Their... cohabitation in Matthew's body is more or less an accident, but neither party seems to have a problem with it, probably because they're combined so thoroughly that they're pretty much the same entity now anyway.
  • In the last book of The Bartimaeus Trilogy Nathaniel becomes one of these to Bartimaeus, though neither of them is fully in control.
  • Wicked Lovely: The Ink Exchange turns Leslie into this.
  • In the Star Trek Novel Verse, the energy beings known as the Fates can enter into a being's mind and control their body while their own consciousness is inert. The being has to be a) the right sort of person with the correct genes or mental abilities, and b) willing. Astraea, the leader of a Cardassian religion based upon worship of the mysterious "good" Fates led by Oralius, is the best example of the truly Willing Channeler. See: Terok Nor and Star Trek: The Lost Era. The Evil Counterpart to Oralius, Uramtali (leader of the Night Spirits) shows up in the Star Trek: The Lost Era novel Well of Souls. She cheats a bit; she ensures her host is "willing" by placing him in a situation where if he refuses his child suffers.
  • In The Host, Melanie eventually becomes this to Puppeteer Parasite Wanderer. Although she initially resists, by the end of the book she actually tries to convince Wanderer to stay in her body.
  • Voluntary Controllers in Animorphs, who make up a minority of the Yeerks' hosts (known as Controllers). When separated so the Yeerk can feed in the Yeerk pool, the willing hosts are rewarded with the privilege of getting to sit in a lounge-type area, watch TV, and generally hang out, instead of being locked in a cage for the duration like the unwilling majority. There is also a a peace movement among the Yeerks, and they and their hosts work together to try and change Yeerk society from the Alien Invasion route to something more like this.
    • "The Illusion" features a particularly interesting Willing Channeler: Taylor, an extremely attractive girl in her late teens whose Yeerk is a Sub-Visser. At first, she seems like a psychopathic, sadistic torturer, but she eventually reveals that she was the most popular girl in her high school until she was trapped in a house fire and became covered in burns. After being shunned, she joined the Sharing and accepted her Yeerk in exchange for promises of being restored to her former beauty. That willingness has made the pair so interconnected that they can't distinguish themselves from one another: the Yeerk uses first-person plural pronouns to refer to herself and Taylor as a single entity, as opposed to other Yeerks, who refer to their bodies as "hosts."
    • There was also a more literal one with Cassie, who let herself play host to the spirit of Aldrea, the daughter of Seerow, the Andalite who was needed to help find a weapons stash that the last of the Arn hoped would give the Hork-Bajir a fighting chance in their world.
  • Serroquettes from The Fallen Kings Cycle are prostitutes who allow ghosts to use their body for one last encounter with a loved one.
  • From the Dexter book series, Dexter in the Dark. Dexter shows that he's more than willing to be possessed again, when he temporarily loses his Dark Passenger.
  • Sorcerers in Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion novels are people who use their Demonic Possession to work magic. Sometimes this possession is involuntary, but some sorcerers deliberately make deals with demons in order to gain their powers. Almost all sorcerers, except those who have been specifically trained by the clergy of the Bastard (a half-demon Dark Is Not Evil god) eventually lose control of themselves and end up fully under the demon's control.
    • In The Hallowed Hunt, the eldest son of Hallow King Horseriver was this to his father's spirit when his father died. The younger son and the later descendants of Horseriver... not so much.
  • This is how Surgebinders in The Stormlight Archive work. A Surgebinder is created when a spren binds itself to a human companion. The spren gains the ability to think in the Physical Realm while the human gains the power to control two of the ten fundamental Surges of reality.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Trill from Star Trek.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Kira let herself to be possessed by an Energy Being. The possessor (one of her Gods) even explicitly declared (when in her body): "This vessel is willing." (On the other hand, its evil opponent forcibly possessed the body of Jake Sisko but later found a willing host in Dukat.)
  • Jimmy, the host of Castiel in Supernatural. An angel's true form is too powerful to accomplish anything on Earth that doesn't involve leaving a wake of destruction, so they need to occupy human bodies. Most - but not all - angels use willing hosts. Specifically, an angel requires permission to possess someone. However, because angels tend to have a Knight Templar attitude with little respect for humans, if an angel needs a particular host who happens to be unwilling for some reason, apparently it's OK to torture them until they say yes.
    • Although Castiel doesn't actually do this. The first time Jimmy accepts seemingly of his own free will, since he's a devout Christian; the second it's because a) he's dying, and b) Castiel's other option is Jimmy's daughter.
  • In Stargate SG-1 an entire group of the normally Always Chaotic Evil (at the time) Big Bad race elected to become this trope and form a resistance movement to fight their evil kin.
  • Gwen at the end of the Torchwood episode "Day One".
  • In Kamen Rider Den-O, Ryotaro is possessed by different Imagin, who wear him and the suit (each a different mode.)
  • Most incarnations of Ultraman have elements of this, though just where the host ends and the possessing entity begins when the hero is in suited form differs/isn't always clear.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Binder class (introduced in the 3.5 version of theTome of Magic). Each possible vestige has unique ways it can attempt to assert its influence, from the painful (Fantastic Racism) to just annoying (can't remove armor).
    • The Book of Exalted Deed introduces Channeling as the Celestials' counterpart to the Fiends' Demonic Possession. Channeling is done only with a willing mortal, boosting his stats and granting him the powers of the Celestial. It's a natural ability for the more powerful Celestials, although mortal spellcasters can also cast a spell to channel any Celestial ally.
  • Possessed Marines from ''Warhammer 40,000 are a unit type of this. Summoning Daemons into their bodies without losing control to said-daemon, and getting increased power for looking even more inhuman than normal.
  • In Pathfinder, this is one way of flavoring the Oracle class, and eventually became the basis of an archetype called the Possessed Oracle, who gets its powers by allowing spirits to inhabit its body.

    Video Games 
  • Practitioners of the Kurain Channeling Technique, most notably Maya Fey (and Pearl Fey when Maya is unavailable), in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games. Unusually, this technique also allows the host to take on the approximate physical form of the dead person being channeled. The only physical trait that remains the same is hair color and style (and a person's hair isn't alive...). The users can also change in age and size (Pearl, a young child in the clothes of a young child, channeling Mia, an adult is the most noticeable example)
  • In Breath of Fire IV a medium briefly serves this purpose for the Endless who resides in Erishin (who cannot survive any other way due to the botched method of summoning that brought her into the protagonists' world). She overeats a bit, but doesn't do anything worse than complain the medium who lent her the body wasn't sufficiently attractive.
  • Devil Survivor has a two examples of this. Mari allows Kresnik to use her body to kill her fiance's killer Kudlak and Amane does it with both a demon and an angel.
    • Done again in the sequel, where Io takes in the essence of Lugh to summon the Dragon Stream and to defeat a particularly tenacious enemy.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, Yuko allows the false deity Aradia into herself in an effort to gain a Reason. Which Aradia cannot possibly grant. Not that she ever tells Yuko.
  • Ryuusei Cartwright in AdventureQuest freely allows the Devourer The'Galin to manifest in his body. Curiously, he retains the ability to shift into this form after The'Galin had left.
  • Meibisi tries this at the end of Rise of the Kasai with his God of Evil, Kri. Doesn't work out very well.
  • If you spared the Rachni Queen in Mass Effect 1, you'll meet her channeler in Mass Effect 2 on Illium. While Shepard is skeptical, the channeler insists that she volunteered. Given that the last person the Queen used as a host was dead at the time, it's possible this is the case here.
  • BioWare also used this in Jade Empire with Wild Flower and her "guardian" Chang Ka. Wild Flower is a sweet-natured small child no more than ten years old, and Chang Ka is a massive, shaggy demon. Of course, he's not the only one that's possessing Wild Flower. It ends up being justified in that the Guardian needs a host to tie him to this plain of existence and help the Spirit Monk, and Wild Flower's happy because she should be dead and Chang Ka's possession gives her a second chance.
  • A third Bioware example: in the Dragon Age: series the 'Spirit Healer' Mage Specialisation is described as getting their exceptional healing powers by channelling benevolent Fade spirits. The two recruitable Spirit Healers expand on this:
    • Wynne, The Medic in Origins, describes how a particular spirit has seemed to be watching over her her whole life and helps her out with the healing. She's also technically dead, having pulled a Heroic Sacrifice before you recruit her, and her spirit friend is keeping her alive through possession. This can be seen as foreshadowing...
    • Anders, a healing-focused mage and all-around snarker, who is the resident Spirit Healer in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. Another character in the same game is Justice, a spirit of the Fade possessing the dead body of a Grey Warden. After the end of the game, Justice gives up the Warden's body, but Anders allows himself to be possessed so that Justice can remain in the physical world. This unfortunately backfires by the time of Dragon Age II, when Anders' hatred of Templars has twisted the spirit of Justice into a demon of Vengeance.
    • Avvar mages and Rivaini seers are generally friendlier towards spirits than the Chantry, and allow benevolent spirits to briefly possess them.
    • All magic in the Dragon Age franchise is an example of this. Mages perform magic by channelling the spirits of the Fade, something only they can do because mages are essentially living Fade portals. Even elemental magic is performed this way: conjuring a fireball requires that a mage commune with fire elemental wisps in the Fade.
  • A fourth Bioware example is the Sith Inquistor line of SWTOR, who learn to channel and possess ghosts as a power boost.
  • In the flash RPG MARDEK, Mardek shares a consciousness with an extraterrestrial being named Rohoph.
  • Mages in the universe of Fire Emblem Tellius can greatly enhance their powers by becoming a Spirit Charmer, someone who lets spirits into his body in exchange for their power. The side-effect of this is receiving a mark that often makes them the victim of Fantastic Racism (though due to a misunderstanding) and the fact that it slowly erodes their very being, though that doesn't seem to be such a big deal, given what we saw from the only playable Spirit Charmer.

    Web Original 
  • In The Worldbuild Project, the Rohomajeshi fit this trope to a T. Their whole shtick is that they make deal to host and channel spirits in exchange for powers.
  • A, main character of Twitch Plays Pokémon Emerald, is commonly believed to summon the mind-controlling voices (a.k.a. the players) by herself - as opposed to previous characters, who didn't have a choice.