People just can't seem to get enough of them souls! "Purchasing one legally" is only one method of obtaining them. Outright theft works just as well, with much less hassle. There's a few ways it can go:
- Just The Soul — The soul is "merely" eaten or taken, but the person's body is still alive. Often, the monster will gain power from this, while the victim turns into an Empty Shell. Recovery is sometimes possible, sometimes not.
- Killed Too — The soul is stolen or eaten, and the person is killed in the process. If resurrection is possible, they nearly always Come Back Wrong thanks to this, since the soul is most definitely not where it belongs. Often, this is exactly what the villain wants — "Steal people's souls and kill them, then resurrect them as an immortal army." If resurrection is impossible, then the person is probably Deader Than Dead. In a Nobody Can Die setting, this may be reduced to "loses consciousness, and is slowly dying unless the soul can be recovered." Recovery here is possible, but with a definite sense of urgency.
- Drained After Death — The soul is stolen or eaten after the victim is killed by other means. Though it tends to play out similarly to Killed Too from here, this is commonly used by Amalgams Of Souls to increase their power.
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Just The Soul:
Anime & Manga
- MapleStory has a severely weaked-down version of this. Soulless people are still able to talk and react to things, but behave as they would without any personality (Al, for instance, calls Nina cute, and Nina acts much less Tsundere when her soul is gone).
- Yuji in Shakugan no Shana is technically a victim of soul theft — the only thing keeping him alive is the Reiji Maigo.
- During the Three Treasures arc of YuYu Hakusho, Yusuke battles a demon who steals and eats children's souls. The souls are unharmed in his stomach until he digests them, which takes a while; Yusuke is able to kill the demon before that happens, and the souls escape and return to their comatose owners, who wake up, apparently unharmed.
- In One Piece, the villain Gecko Moria pulls off something which closely resembles this when he steals his enemies' shadows, then uses them to give life to dead bodies and create his own zombie immortal army. The person who had his shadow stolen, though, doesn't become an empty shell; it is just condemned not to be able to stand sunlight again, or he'll be rendered into ashes. By gaining back his shadow he can remove the curse.
- This is used in Yu-Gi-Oh! a few times, usually by those with Millennium Items who invoke Penalty Games. It is this that allows us to learn that Dark Yugi has a different soul from normal Yugi.
- Kaito in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL is an strange case. In season one, he does do this to the Numbers holders he defeats, but only because he cannot take a Number from someone without doing so. He doesn't truly like doing this, considering it Necessary Evil in order to meet his goal of healing his brother Haruto. (And he is even willing to return Shark's soul to him after taking it, seeing as Shark didn't have a Number and keeping it would have been pointless.) As it turned out, Kaito's efforts were not helping Haruto at all; he was being told Blatant Lies by Dr. Faker, who was himself being lied to by Barian as part of a plot to destroy Astral World.
- Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker's main villain's plans to take over the Waking World involve taking people's souls and hijacking their bodies. Strong souls allow him to stay in the real world longer.
- What's New? with Phil and Dixie features a dyslexic demon that steals peoples' soles.
Films — Live-Action
- In Robert A. Heinlein's The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathon Hoag, the Sons of the Bird drain out the soul of one of the protagonists and place it in a bottle, leaving her in a coma.
- In Charles de Lint's The Blue Girl, done by annatheims. The person becoming an Empty Shell is irreversible.
- In Harry Potter, the Dementors, the act of which is called the "Dementor's kiss." While the person subjected to this does not die, this is specifically stated to be a Fate Worse Than Death, as their soul is permanently destroyed with no hope of recovery or passing into the afterlife, and the poor victim becomes an Empty Shell.
- In the His Dark Materials series, Spectres feed on souls (which in this series are often seen as living animals, or Daemons).
- A more mild example from the same series: severing. The soul is still there, but it's no longer connected to the person, and anyone who sees a severed individual will know immediately that something is wrong, even if it isn't obvious what.
- Grey Men in the The Wheel of Time series have had their souls taken by the Dark One, which makes them effectively invisible. Oddly, they do seem to still have their intelligence and free will, though we've never seen the point of view of such a being. Draghkar and the Black Wind, however, play it straight, leaving an Empty Shell. (They would usually kill the Empty Shell anyway.)
- Awakening in Warbreaker runs on a comparatively benign version of this. Breath is a supernatural force that everyone has, and it's not quite a soul but is considered an aspect of the soul. It can be voluntarily given away (which does not kill or cripple the donor, but does dampen their senses and make them more prone to illness), and is necessary to provide power to Awaken inanimate objects—powerful Awakeners need hundreds of Breaths stockpiled, and having so many at a time provides a number of more subtle magical abilities. In the kingdom of Hallandren, the "Breath trade" is common practice; in the neighboring kingdom of Idris, losing one's Breath is considered A Fate Worse Than Death and Awakening is strictly illegal.
- In a slightly more normal version of this, Hallendren's gods, the Returned, must consume one Breath a week or die. Since Hallendren is a large city-state with many devoted worshippers (and since the priests pay the donors very well), there is never a shortage of volunteers willing to give up their Breath.
- In The Rogue King, the titular character has his soul stolen with relatively little effect. Although it does make being possessed impossible.
- In the Coiling Dragon universe, souls are intertwined with the abilities and power that a person has, and destroying someone's soul is the only certain way to kill them. Some Saints and Deities know how to capture someone's soul (typically in death) and "refine" it. This process changes it into a form that the person can absorb and use to either heal their own soul or increase their own power. Due to the difficulty, the refining and absorption process can take years to perform. Unless, of course, you have a powerful artifact that automagically does it for you.
- In the Towers Trilogy, Ieren eats ghosts. If none are handy, he can pull the soul out of a still-living person's body, resulting in the Empty Shell becoming a zombie-like creature called a night walker. This is irreversible if he eats the soul; however, if he is interrupted before the soul is completely detached from the body, then the victim can be saved.
- In "The Stones Are Hatching", the merrows do this to Uncle Murdo and Aunt Audrey. This is also what the devil attempted to do, first to Alexia's teacher and then to her, in the backstory.
- In The Taking, the apparently alien invaders have supernatural abilities that include this trope due to actually being The Legions of Hell. It's physically manifested as face stealing, leaving behind a faceless body that the invaders can control at will. The drained after death variant is also heavily implied to happen to several people, though it's not described directly.
- In Shaman Blues, wraiths can feed on spiritual energy of a person, but the effects are mostly restricted to exhaustion and sleepiness, or, in case of ghosts, reverting back into shades.
- Phoebe and Paige in Charmed borrowed Darryl's soul against his will to pass as Valkyries and left his body in an alley. Darryl was revived when his soul walked back into his body.
- In Angel the Smile Time show had demonic puppets who'd wait until parents were out the room and steal the souls of the children watching, leaving them comatose with big grins.
- In Power Rangers, soul theft typically leaves the victim an Empty Shell, and is undone with the death of the Monster of the Week (or the breaking of whatever item was used for soul theft or storage.)
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Charlie's Nightman Cometh musical, the Nightman wants to "enter" the Boy's soul. It's supposed to be taken seriously, but ends up getting Played for Laughs because, among other things, Frank keeps pronouncing it "Boy's hole" instead of "Boy's soul."
- In Supernatural, The Darkness consumes souls to rapidly age its human incarnation (after eating one soul it goes from infant to young child). The victims are left alive as The Soulless. Crowley feeds her souls in an attempt to get on her good side, but it doesn't take long for him to be afraid of her sheer appetite for them.
- In Once Upon a Time, most magic-users can do this with hearts, especially the Evil Queen and her mother. Once someone steals a heart, they can control their victim's actions with it, and if they ever destroy it, they die where they stand.
- This is the effect of the Soul Jar spell in GURPS. Destroying the jar will utterly destroy the soul inside, but the soul is still conscious within the jar and a mage with the proper spells can use magic to defend itself or steal a new body.
- In Mage: The Awakening, powerful magic can rip your soul from your body. Tremere liches use them to maintain their bodies, but other mages may have other reasons. You'll be an Empty Shell in the meantime. Funnily enough, any soul can replace a missing soul... Indeed, this is actually how a mage becomes a Tremere Lich. An existing Lich severs the mage's soul and replaces it with another. If the mage can get it back in time, WITHOUT using Lich magic OR consuming another soul, he goes back to normal. Otherwise, he's stuck as a Lich.
- A victim of this is the default (and titular) player character type of Dead Inside. True, they lose the Weirdness Censor that prevents humans from using Functional Magic, but the thing is that Censor is an evolved defense against supernatural beasties and harmful phenomenon, and up until they grow (or steal) a new one, a Dead Inside suffers from depression, relatively weak powers, and the inability to live happily outside the Spirit World.
- in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, Headmistress Nefris of the Academy of Shapers and Binders has been performing various experiments on souls, sometimes by using this trope. Victims fall comatose, as in the case of Ammon Jerro.
- in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn the plot revolves around Irenicus stealing the soul of the main character and his sister Imoen. The souls in question are of godly heritage and are a means to overthrow a curse placed on Irenicus.
- Starting with Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Shang Tsung's soul stealing has become a normal ability, which falls under this category. He still has the fatal variety as his Fatalities in that game and 9, but when used during the fight, these recover a fraction of his energy at the expense of his opponent's. Oh, and in 9, stealing your opponent's soul is the only way Tsung can morph into them.
- When Indy finally faces off against a demon near the end of Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb in order to rescue the demon's hostage, she'll taunt him: "Her soul is mine now!" But one really weird battle later and the demon is defeated, and her captive seems no worse for wear.
- Demon's Souls
- Most of the "human" enemies are people who have had their souls devoured by demons.
- King Allant has a soul-draining attack that makes a character hit with it lose a level.
- In Dark Souls, beings with the Lifedrain ability or weapon Dark Hand can steal Humanity without killing the subject. While it does deal damage and the attack can kill them, it doesn't necessarily.
- In the Fable universe, hobbes are children whose souls were devoured by dark nymphs.
- Shown by name in Guitar Hero III during a cutscene. After the band tells off their manager, Lou, he holds up their contract to the camera, the words "(your soul is mine)" appear in the fine print, and things start glowing a rather unholy shade of red...
- At the end of the True Pacifist route of Undertale Flowey absorbs almost every monster's soul to add to the power of the six human souls(which were gotten with the "Drained After Death" method), but if you go around during the Playable Epilogue, everyone's fine.
- In Sluggy Freelance there's a demon called "K'Z'K the Soul Collector." Guess what it does?
- There's also some spirit demons who steal away people's souls to sell to the highest bidder.
- The Psychocrypt in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. It's possible to join the Soul Jar crystal to the half worn on the victim's body and revive them. It's just damn near impossible to wrest said Soul Jar away from Her Majesty.
- Marceline's dad from Adventure Time wears a suit, is completely evil, and is going to swallow all of your souls.
- Erebus from the My Little Pony episode Bright Lights steals souls (in the form of victims' shadows) to bolster his power. It's only a Just The Soul by dint of being reversible, and it's freaking creepy.
- Quantum lichens on Futurama, although Prof. Farnsworth insists on calling it lifeforce instead of the outmoded term "soul". Sou... I mean, lifeforces can be returned by killing the lichen's fungus half, where they are stored.
- The Soultaker Sword in Beware the Batman does this.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, separating a human's soul from their body leaves their body unconscious, but unharmed. In The Legend of Korra it turns out eventually (over the course of about a week) the soul will no longer be able to return to the body even if other people are taking care of it (presumably giving food and water) in the meantime.
- THE BLACK CUBE OF DARKNESS in Wander over Yonder apparently has the ability to suck out the souls of anyone who stares at it for too long. In "The Black Cube", it nearly sucks out Wander's soul while having a Freak Out.
- In the second season of Beast Wars, there's an unusual variant on this theme: Megatron cuts out half of Rampage's spark and uses it to torture him into compliance.
Anime and Manga
- In Bleach, Hollows both kill living humans and consume dead souls (called "Wholes") or other Hollows. Since all but the newest Hollows contain multiple souls (any soul eaten is merged into the Hollow), they soon find that the best form of sustenance is to eat their own kind. Eventually, a strong Hollow will come to contain thousands or even hundreds of thousands of souls, which is how they evolve to more advanced forms.
- In Hellsing, true vampires are able to do this by sucking someone dry — it allows them to summon their souls later in battle. When Alucard has his final Power Limiter released, it is revealed that this is the source of the immense power that he has wielded throughout the series — he has done this to MILLIONS of people, monsters and other beings alike through the five hundred years that he has been a vampire.
- In Naruto, there exists a Dangerous Forbidden Technique which steals the souls of both the caster and the victim, killing both and subjecting their souls to eternal torment. It's used by The Third Hokage in an attempt to kill Orochimaru.
- One of Pain's body can read people's minds and pull their souls out (though apparently not sealing it or anything), which kills them. Nagato could still bring them Back from the Dead, but he could do that even to people killed in normal ways.
- This is substantially the whole point in Fullmetal Alchemist. With alchemy, you can steal people souls', killing them, and make out of them a gem of pure condensed energy, which is the Philosopher's Stone. That is, an ultimate weapon for who wields it.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Daniel J. D'Arby's stand Osiris has the power to extract another person's soul from their bodies and turn them into a poker chip, with the soul-stealing occurring when a person he makes a bet against either loses or mentally concedes. When Polnareff falls victim to the stand, Avdol finds that he died as a result: he had no pulse.
- Daniel J.'s brother Telence T. has a similar ability in his stand Atum. Like Daniel, Telence has to start a game with with his target and if they lose Telence gets their soul. Unlike Daniel, Telence has a creepier idea of keeping souls, putting them in dolls and giving them limited movement and ability to talk.
- The contracts in Chrono Crusade. Chrono even flatly states in the first chapter "Her [Rosette's] soul belongs to me." However, unlike most examples, Chrono doesn't take the entire soul in one gulp, he just drains what he needs as he needs it. Also, both of the girls whose soul ended up being slowly devoured to fuel his powers/life offered their soul to him of their own free will. He also fell in love with the contractors, causing much angst as he was slowly killing the ones he loved just by existing.
- Aion's contractors (which were crystallized by Fiore until he needed them) might be this, or Drained After Death.
- The nature of all of the demon's contracts in Black Butler. The demons exchange fulfilling their Master's wish for their soul.
- YuYu Hakusho: Before obtaining the Orb of Baast, which lets him take 'Just the Soul as noted above, Gouki ate people's bodies alive to devour their souls. The three kings of Demon World eat in this manner also.
- In Sin City, Kevin was a Serial Killer who ate his victims, all female prostitutes. Cardinal Roark, who supported him and joined in, claimed that he ate not only their bodies, but their souls as well, which would "fill him with light" and feel close to God. The story makes it clear that they're just delusional though.
- In Spider-Man, there are The Inheritors, a group of vampiric beings who hunt down totemistic beings (those who are connected to a certain animal spirit) to keep themselves alive. When they absorb their spirits, they leave the victim entirely drained and shriveled. Though they can hunt any being they want, it's Spiders that they mostly enjoy.
- In 9, this is what the Fabrication Machine does. It runs on oil, but it wants human souls.
- In The Chronicles of Riddick, the Lord Marshal, after visiting the Underverse, gained the ability to partially separate his soul from his body. In addition to inhuman speed, this also gave him the ability to literally rip the soul straight out of a person's body. The victim lives so long as the Lord Marshal is holding their soul, but drop dead as soon as he throws it to the floor.
- Freddy grows more powerful by absorbing the souls of his victims in the A Nightmare on Elm Street sequels; he's been Hoist by His Own Petard a few times when said souls managed to either break loose or turn against him long enough for him to be defeated.
- Whenever Pinhead or another Cenobite kills someone in Hellraiser films, their soul ends up in the Labyrinth, in Hell. As is the case with Joseph and Trevor, Pinhead often torments them there. Though they are released after Leviathan's defeat in the second movie, and presumably the same thing happens when Pinhead dies in the fourth movie.
- In Lifeforce, the lifeforce that the vampires consume is strongly implied to be the human victims' actual souls.
- Like modern depictions of demons, the Djinn in Wishmaster collects souls so he can drag them to what is effectively Hell to torture them forever. He also needs them to power the jewel that he was trapped in, which acts as a doorway to the Djinn world.
- In Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, the Ghost of Stonewall Jackson has the ability to kill people by sucking their souls from their bodies.
- In WarCraft, Gul'dan's main schtick involves taking a soul out of a creature and using it as fuel for his magic, killing it in the process. At one point, he takes it out bit by bit, toying with human he "feeds" on. This is also how he kills Durotan.
- Dragon Bones has Oreg, whose fate is something in between — he was given a bowl of soup, ate it, and when he awoke he was the castle, Hurog, after which the series is named. He can materialize a body, but not leave the castle and/or his current owner. He has often expressed a desire to die, but is effectively immortal unless his owner decides to kill him. This, however, would also ruin the castle, which is why no one ever did it. In some sense of the word he is alive, although whether that is a life is debatable.
- The fate of anyone killed with Stormbringer or Mournblade in The Elric Saga. Elric sometimes dedicates the blood and souls of his kills to Lord Arioch of Chaos, but that may be more force of habit; in fact, his own final fate appears to indicate that the stolen souls remain trapped and in torment inside the rune blades forever.
- In Dragaera, this is the effect of being killed with a Morganti weapon. A Great Weapon can choose whether or not to consume the soul of the victim, and even manipulate the souls in other ways (one once even being used as a Soul Jar for the wielder to fake death.)
- A possible interpretation of what Tom Riddle tried to do to Ginny Weasley in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
- In Paranormalcy, Implied to be what Evie has been told the goal of the Faeries is. Also what Vivian is born to do.
- In The Alchemy of Stone, the extremely sympathetic Soultaker's (a profession, though the impression is given that only one exists in a region at a given time) job is to execute and subsequently interrogate prisoners. A Soultaker who has lasted long enough to take more than a few souls gains an increasingly strong and uncontrollable pull on living souls even when he isn't using the power. Unlike many uses of this trope, once a Soultaker dies the captured souls all pass on with him to the "normal" death.
- Hemalurgy, one of the three systems of Functional Magic in Mistborn, involves stealing part of someone's soul and trapping it in a metal spike; the soul's energy can be then transferred to someone else by piercing their body with the spike, with the precise effects determined by what metal the spike is made out of and where exactly it's placed in the body. In the series all known cases of this have been fatal to the "donor" though Word of God is it's theoretically possible for the donor to survive, though it would do unspecified very bad things to them regardless.
- Certain sacrificial rituals to the Dark Gods is David Weber's The War Gods series involve the victim dying and the soul being consumed by the demon and/or god the ritual was done for.
- In Angel Illyria consumes Fred's soul in the process of converting her body into a vessel for herself. This conversion also involves physical changes that are not survivable for anything human. Fragments of Fred's soul and memories remain in Illyria as a result, meaning that she can basically turn into Fred if she wants to.
- An earlier episode has a demon who gives people what they want in exchange for consuming their souls later on.
- In Kamen Rider Kiva, members of monster races steal Life Energy, but the way the Wolfen race does it looks a lot more like this. When the victim is struck down by the Wolfen's claws, the body falls and a translucent image of the victim is still standing, rightfully scared and confused... until it's devoured. Jiro, you're officially scarier than the Big Bads. They only kill you.
- Babylon 5: The Soul Hunters usually wait for death and then collect the souls right at the moment of transition, but at least one had gone as far to actually kill to retrieve souls, which was against the rules of his order, so they set out to stop him.
Mythology, Religion and Legend
- In a terrifying passage, David Suzuki recounts the fate of two young villagers in a Chewong legend:
Taloden asal, the all-knowing Original Snake, was fully aware of their flagrant breach of talaiden the very instant it occured. She awakened with a start from her eternal subterranean slumber [...] Twisting her long, multihued body into a silent, simmering coil of rage, she unleashed a terrible storm, like a spear, into the Chewong village above her. Relentless winds, torrential downpours, and a rising tide of groundwater converged on the young couple's hut, sweeping it from the face of the earth as if it was nothing more than a speck of dust. In a final act of horror, the fearsome head of the great serpent reared up from the cavernous underworld, gripped the two offending Chewong viciously in her gaping jaws, and gobbled them up in a single predatory gulp.
But Taloden asal did not simply devour their flesh and bones, as she might some ordinary prey. She obliterated their existence for all time. As she swallowed them, she deliberately extiguished the fragile flame of vitality that flickers in and animates every human being and, equally, all life-forms on Earth Seven, as it has done since the primordial times of creation, when all creation possessed the power of speech. By so righteously snuffing out the precious ruwai, or souls, of the young Chewong, she ensured that they would not glow on in realms beyond Earth Seven after death—as they would have in the absence of so grave an offense against nature.
- A dreadful punishment? Perhaps. But such is the fate of all who would dare keep a squirrel as a pet.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- A demilich can perform one of these — if it's not killed before it finishes digesting your soul, you are Deader Than Dead. Perhaps the most dreaded of them all is Acererak from the Tomb of Horrors.
- Original D&D Supplement IV Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes. In the Hyborian mythos from Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories, the Kraken feeds on human souls and Life Energy.
- A lesser known case is a Devourer, a powerful undead who uses trapped souls to fuel its supernatural abilities.
- In Pathfinder's Golarion setting, the country of Galt is trapped in a brutal, arbitrary revolution, where almost every real and imagined crime is punished by guillotines that trap their victims' souls. The revolutionary council claims that it is a kinder fate than risking the souls being poached by their devil-worshiping neighbour Cheliax, though that justification is pretty shaky.
- Rolemaster campaign setting Shadow World. The Soulslayers of Murlis can drain and eat their victims' souls by holding onto them.
- In Warhammer, the Vampire Counts have a magic weapopn called the Tomb Blade, which simultaniously steals the soul of whomever it kills, and animates their skeleton. There is also a Necromancy spell that tears their soul free and binds it to the vampire's will, granting him a new unit of Spirit Hosts. The Tomb Kings army has the Casket of Screaming Souls, which is basically a shotgun that shoots ghosts.
- The act of Diablerie in Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem involves devouring the blood and soul of another vampire. Eating the soul requires Willpower checks; if you drink the blood but don't manage to eat the soul, the victim is merely dead and you're not more powerful than before; if you succeed in completing the process the victim is Deader Than Dead. It is rightly feared among vampires, which is why one of the Traditions in Requiem expressly forbids it, though unlike Masquerade, there's nothing that says you can't just kill another vampire without diablerizing him.
- Several types of Oni as well as powerful Lost Samurai from Legend of the Five Rings have the ability to consume the souls of those that they've killed.
- Imhotep in Revenge of the Mummy pursues the riders for their souls, even flat-out shouting, "Your souls are MIIIINNNE!!!"
- In World of Warcraft, Warlocks have the spell "Drain Soul," which, if an enemy dies while under it's effect, grants the warlock a soul shard, to be used for various purposes.
- Also: "Frostmourne hungers." And not for delicious cake.
- And speaking of Frostmourne, when fighting the Lich King in Icecrown Citadel, at one point he one-shots the entire party. You get the usual "You have died. Release to the nearest graveyard?" message box, but if you actually try to press the "Release Spirit" button, you get a red popup message: "Your soul belongs to the Lich King". (It's a scripted event, so you get better.)
- Anyone killed using the Soul Series's Soul Edge has their soul eaten by the sword.
- In The Elder Scrolls series you can steal the souls of monsters with the "Soul Trap" spell upon their deaths and trap them in Soul Gems, a key element of enchantment. Oblivion introduces the Black Soul Gems, which allow you to steal NPC souls (which have the same value as "Grand" Souls). A dark ritual that takes place at a certain place at a certain time of night when the stars are just right can transform normal Grand Soul Gems into Black ones. Naturally, the people who use these are an evil order of Necromancers led by an Omnicidal Maniac.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the dragons attacking the land are a type of Aedra, and therefore functionally immortal, as killing them normally just returns them to their home realm. But whenever the player character, known as Dovahkiin/Dragonborn, kills a dragon, he or she prevents their souls from escaping by absorbing them in order to gain more power.
- Also in Skyrim, you find out that souls inside Black Soul Gems are still aware. Congratulations, master Enchanter, you just damned several villages-worth of people to afterlife as a trinket.
- Dawnguard, the first DLC in Skyrim, reveals that when used up, the Souls in Black Soul Gems get sent to a plane of Oblivion called the Soul Cairn, where they wander endlessly.
- One of the new Shouts in Dawnguard, Soul Tear, taught by a dragon that was trapped in the Soul Cairn and became imbued with some of the power of the place as a result deals ~300 damage, casts Soul Trap, and revives the target as a zombie if it was killed by the Shout.
- In Samurai Shodown, Yunfei's Fatality Move involves punching his opponent's soul out of their body, then cutting it in half, just to ensure that they stay dead.
- Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening has this with the aptly named Soul Eater. It drains you of your vitality/health/soul, and you die. Very simple. In the same game, a malfunctioning power sphere drains your soul slowly, but at the same time it provides immense power; in game terms, Dante loses health while he carries it, but is in permanent Devil Trigger (and every enemy coughs up health orbs).
- God of War III has Hades saying this to Kratos in the pre-battle cutscene, and tries to do this to him in an early part of the battle with the Claws of Hades. During the battle, Kratos takes the Claws of Hades away from him. And then uses them to take his soul in the fight's finale.
- In Heroes of Newerth, whenever a hero is finished off by the hero named Soul Reaper, the Soul Reaper will utter "Your soul is mine!" in what could also be classified as a Moment of Awesome.
- This is the basis of the "Devour Spirit" and "Devour Soul" attacks in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer.
- Pokémon has quite a few Ghost-type Mons who are implied to do this. For example, Shedinja steals the soul of anyone who looks into the hole on its back (and guess what the player looks at when they send it out?).
- The heroes can actually invoke this trope in Super Paper Mario. You can use a blank catch card on an enemy (but not a boss or miniboss) and it will capture the enemy's soul inside a card.
- Legacy of Kain has two versions of the Soul Reaver thanks to Time Travel: the past version (wielded by Kain) consumes blood, while the future version (both wielded and empowered by Raziel) consumes souls. Raziel himself also consumes souls to nourish himself, being a wraith. The series further establishes limits and rules on this — humans are mortal and their souls can be sucked out easily, while stronger beings including vampires must be physically weakened to be drained. Particularly powerful souls can confer the owner's power to the person absorbing it, which is how Raziel copies the abilities of his brothers.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the Big Bad Demise/The Imprisoned is trying to absorb Zelda's divine soul to revive his true form. In the Non Standard Game Over, he succeeds and she perishes. Also in the climax, Ghirahim begins the ritual to do so before his Boss Battle, resulting in Zelda's soul being taken to help revive Demise in time for the Final Boss fight. She gets better.
- Magical Diary, near the end of Damien's path. The player character is given the option to give him her soul, believing it will keep him from dying (it won't - he isn't dying). At least one set of choices (possibly more) causes this to end in a near-miss because Damien is unable to go through with it. Killed Too, because it would have killed you if he had finished the ritual in question - and did badly, badly injure you in ways that will take the rest of the semester to undo, if you manage to undo them at all.
- Malthael does this to the Horadrim at the start of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, and to a countless helpless soldiers throughout the campaign, turning their bodies into undead to serve him.
- Castlevania: Lament of Innocence introduced the Crimson Stone, an alchemical creation that allows its bearer to consume vampire souls for power and immortality.
- After some early upgrades, Lester from Charlie Murder has an alternate finishing move on fallen enemies where he steals the souls of fallen enemies for an HP boost and reduce cooldown on his magic. Hand Waved as him studying dark arts.
- In Sluggy Freelance the Dimension of Pain demons actually set up grocery stores stocked with souls, so demons can always get plenty of soul food.
- In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures a number of Creatures can do this, Cubi are particularly notorious for this. Soul eating greatly increases a Creature's power and extends it's already lengthy lifespan, but is not necessary and many Cubi are content living just 3000 years and passively feeding off emotions.
- Tamuran Apparently. It's legend, so hard to tell.
- The traditional summoning in Drowtales works like this: the summoner traps the aura of the victim in a gemstone. This aura can be summoned later and does what the summoner wants. Auras are the same as souls for drows.
- According to the character pages and story material in The Daemonslayers, Soul (AKA Mecha) an immortal lycan-fae, joined the other Daemonslayers when demon prince Lord Saragon (whom Blackjack had dissed earlier by killing his lover and torturer, Aster) tore out part of her soul to return to his lost demon lover. Still alive, she was saved by Blackjack and Shade before the prince could kill her, and now looks forward to the day she can kill Aster and reclaim what was hers.
- All liches in Angel Of Death must do this to sustain themselves. It is made clear early on that when they devour a soul, it is not destroyed, rather, it is conscious throughout the entire process of being devoured, digested and pooped out and will then be forced to linger with the lich who devoured it as long as it lives, unable to disobey any of their commands even if that means betraying friends and family to meet the same fate.
Drained After Death:
Anime and Manga
- In Soul Eater, when someone dies it becomes possible to eat their soul. The rules of how this work are different in the manga and the anime:
- Manga: Only weapons (and Asura, who ate his weapon) can eat souls to become stronger, although consumed souls can be removed later without killing the one who ate them. Specifically eating 99 human souls (or one very strong soul) plus 1 witch soul makes a weapon a Death Scythe. While the only difference between good and bad souls themselves is that good souls have more power, weapons serving The Grim Reaper are only allowed to eat the souls of people he deemed evil enough to be executed.
- Anime: Anyone can eat souls, and doing so will make them become more powerful but start going insane and turning into Kishin (which turns their soul red, making it a "kishin egg") unless those souls were themselves starting to become Kishin. Weapons still eat human and witch souls to become Death Scythes, but it's not clear what would happen if a human ate a kishin eggs. All the good souls a potential Kishin eats are released upon their death.
- In the English dub, Maka frequently says the name of this trope word-for-word as a Catch Phrase, usually preceded by the name of whomever she's about to fight.
- In Digimon Tamers, this is implied to be the most effective way for Digimon to increase their power. Most of the heroes don't like doing it because it's, well, not very heroic. In addition to increasing their power, it also seems to give the Digimon access to their fallen opponent's attacks, though that might be because Beelzemon was powerful, Leomon was powerful, or just a side effect of shiny new superpowers.
- Although really only the word "data" is mentioned, which is what they were created from, and it's likely that the data they absorb from their defeated opponents is just what remains of their body and power, and may not even involve the soul.
- Dead Master in Black Rock Shooter: Innocent Soul apparently loves to eat the trapped souls inhabiting Hazama. And other things, as she ate her teddy bear and chewed Rock's hair in her sleep, but mostly souls.
- YuYu Hakusho: Younger Toguro ate the souls of the dead to maintain 100% strength.
- In The Rising Of The Shield Hero Soul Eaters are monsters that will consume the souls of people they kill. Domesticated ones are used to prevent the souls of executed criminals from reincarnating.
- The villain's entire mission in Ghost Ship revolves around collecting enough souls so that he can send the entire boatload "home", acquiring several hundred souls by the end before they're all freed.
- Shang Tsung does this to Art Lean in a nasty Kick the Dog moment from Mortal Kombat after he is killed by Goro.
- In The Screwtape Letters and apparently Perelandra, demons in hell consume the souls of humans who go there, as well as each other when times are hard. This seems to manifest as a disintegration of the personality, but victims seem to retain a minimal consciousness.
- In The Saga of the Noble Dead, the necromancer Ubad is surrounded by a constantly shifting "halo" of souls, implied to be the souls of people he's killed. They allow him to see, despite his physical blindness and their presence assists him in his magic.
- In The Dresden Files the necromancer Kemmler learned to devour ghosts, which massively increased his power to the point that he held off the White Council for years. They killed him seven times before it stuck. In Dead Beat several of his disciples come to town in search of a book containing this secret. Technically speaking ghosts aren't actual souls but the impressions the person left behind, but the effect is similar.
- In Ghost Story the ghost of one of these disciples, Capiocorpus, devours a number of other ghosts to give her the power to manifest in the real world and steal a living body.
- Earlier, in Grave Peril, Dresden himself teams up with his own ghost (it's complicated) to devour the ghost of a sorcerer who'd previously eaten part of Harry's soul, regaining his stolen power and taking the sorcerer-ghost's.
- Kemmler's Darkhallow rite kills every living thing in the area (said area can be pretty big) and allows its caster to absorb their souls. Absorbing enough souls can turn a mortal wizard into a living god. Harry knows the rite.
- In Contractor, the main character is given this (magical) power by an inter-dimensional alien. Basically the life force of anything or anyone he kills is added to his own. On earth however, the magicians consider this to be necromancy and one of the most evil forms of magic, even if he's using it to defend the planet from an inter-dimensional invasion, so this naturally causes a lot of the inter-character strife.
- In Starlight And Shadows, Vestriss, a powerful illithid exile, traps the souls of her victims in a magic tapestry. This makes it impossible for clerics to contact her victims' ghosts, thus ensuring they truly do take their secrets to their graves, and also allows her to torture the trapped spirits for amusement.
- In Supernatural, after a Crocotta kills its victim, or causes the victim's death (ie: By convincing him or her to commit suicide), it sucks out the victim's soul through their mouth. Clark Adams is the only Crocotta we've seen so far.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Barghests can feed on humanoid corpses to gain strength, which damages or destroys the victim's soul in the process.
- The top-level Soul Bind spell does exactly that to a recently dead creature, blocking all resurrection magic and keeping the spirit from entering the afterlife until the gem containing the soul is broken.
- In Warhammer40000 Slaanesh automatically claims all Eldar souls not kept safe within spirit stones or the Infinity Circuits upon death. If the Eldar indulge in the behaviors that spawned Slaanesh in the first place (i.e. most pleasurable activities since Slaaensh is the god of hedonistic excess), Slaanesh doesn't have to wait for death. The Dark Eldar found a way to safeguard their own souls without giving up their hedonism by offering up the souls of others in place of their own. The downside to their approach is that it takes more and more souls to keep Slaanesh at bay, so it's only a matter of time.
- This is the standard price for a Deal with the Devil in Monte Cook's World of Darkness. Subverted in that the setting's demons are actually extradimensional entities who gain Mana from bonding with mortals — but they find that mortals get much more cooperative when they believe they've sold their souls.
- In Twisted Metal 2 and Head On, Mr. Grimm is addicted to souls. By the time of Head On, he's eating more souls than he ferries to the afterlife.
- In Suikoden I, the aptly named 'Soul Eater' rune eats the souls of those close to the bearer to gain power.
- In Darksiders, War pays Vulgrim in souls that he eats (shown in the first scene you meet him in).
Vulgrim : "Ooooh! There were a few young ones there."
- According to Vulgrim, they taste good.
- In Dragon Quest VII's Dharma Temple chapter, there was a sword which stole the souls of anyone it killed. The monsters who owned used it as payment in several deals with the devil where a human would harvest souls for them in exchange for a promise, usually of freedom from imprisonment. They never really kept any of the promises, of course.
- During Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow, Soma Cruz gains skills by domination of creature souls. The only reason he can do this is because he's the reincarnation of Dracula. It's also revealed that when he no longer needs their powers the souls get released.
- Alduin in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim eats the souls of the dead while they are trying to reach the Halls of Valor in Sovngarde, The Elder Scrolls equivalent of Valhalla. Alduin blankets the paths to the Halls of Valor with thick mist that keeps his prey good and lost so he can eat them at his leisure.
- In Dragonborn, this ends up being the fate of the undead Dragon-priest Miraak. Due to being a Dragonborn himself, when he is killed by Hermaeus Mora for his betrayal, his Aedric soul gets immediately devoured by the Dovahkiin.
- The boss of Part 1 in Asura's Wrath was said to have consumed millions of such souls to power up his body and increase his size to Cosmic Horror Story levels... and all this just to crush the protagonist.
- The whole objective of the Seven Deities is to harvest enough souls to power up a giant space laser to blow up Gohma Vlitra. Really.
- Demon's Souls: This is a huge part of the game's basic premise. A crystal around the belt of the player absorbs the souls of the recently fallen and are then taken to the Maiden in Black, who then strengthens the player's own soul with them.
- The demons that are the driving conflict are doing this on a mass scale. They are collecting souls for Old One who if not stopped will annihilate everything.
- Dark Souls: Like its predecessor, Demon's Souls, the entire level-up, currency, and magic systmes are based around absorbing the souls of enemies that the player has killed.
- When an Invader defeats another player as a Black Phantom or Darkwraith, they gain one Humanity, presumably from the fallen host player.
- In Final Fantasy Type-0, Phantoma is the essence of a living thing's soul and can be gathered from dead organic enemies (including from soldiers, causing said corpses to explode (and deal damage to nearby enemies too). Phantoma comes in different colors, which is important as different colors upgrade spells in certain parameters such as casting speed or MP cost. It also uses the "Killed Too" depiction of the trope as the L'Cie Caetuna forcibly extracts the Phantoma of some cadets and Class-0's captain to summon the Great Eidolon Alexander, killing them in the process
- Shadow Fiend from Dota 2 who collects souls as a child might collect candy for Halloween. He uses the stolen souls to increase his damage dealt (up to 72 additional damage) and can release them all in a huge burst of destruction. He also loses half of them (rounded down if odd) them upon death. In fact one his lines is even the trope's name.
- This is a major plot point in Undertale. King Asgore Dreemurr planned to kill 7 humans in order to obtain their souls after death and use it to break the barrier that was keeping his people trapped underground. After collecting 6 souls, Asgore lost the will to keep going with his plan because he simply could not go through with killing all of humanity, even though humans had killed his son. The player character is the 7th soul Asgore needs and when you meet him, he absolutely does not look forward to fighting you, but he does so anyway in order to preserve the hope he had instilled in his people. In the neutral ending path, Flowey absorbs the 6 human souls to become the monstrous Omega/Photoshop Flowey.
- Nehrim: At Fate's Edge, a total conversion mod for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, features a sword called the Soul Flayer; anyone cut by it will, upon their death, have their soul drawn and stored permanently inside the sword. This turns out to be true also for anyone who wields the sword. The Playable Epilogue quest chain suggests that the sword was created for some nefarious (though never fully explained) purpose; the player also has an option at the end of the chain to destroy the sword and free the souls within.
- Reaper from Overwatch can absorb the souls of enemies who've died recently, regardless of the means or by who. Doing so heals him by a small amount and keeps him in the fight.
- The Entity of Dead By Daylight will impale a dying survivor to death with its appendages personally, then drag their soul into its realm through a portal.
- The Composite Soul, an amalgamation of three evil spirits that escaped from Hell, devours souls to increase its power in Spinnerette.
- In Dominic Deegan damned souls in hell can be eaten by demons, and demons can cannibalize one another. Also there have been a few cases of the damned becoming demons (or approximations of) by eating others.
- According to one bound elder god in The Order Of The Black Dog the gods worshipped by the mainstream religion eat their followers souls instead of providing any sort of afterlife.
- In Death Battle, After completely wrecking Starscream's body, what does Rainbow Dash do when his Spark comes out of the remnants of his torso? She eats it.
- In Worm, Glaistig Uaine can create a psychic imprint of a dead person's consciousness, which allows her to manifest a ghostly version of them that can use any of their parahuman powers.
- In Terren (primary art blog here) the supreme grand goddesses Pura Velpormia and Hellmasin Miastrius take this a step further by eating entire afterlifes. They derive sustenance from the good or bad karma the souls accumulated and excrete them back into Terren with no memories for reincarnation.
- Your Soul is Death's in Void Domain. Once you die, your soul goes to His domain. Trying to anchor your soul to the world using some kind of Soul Jar is one of the few things that will anger Him.
- While Marceline of Adventure Time is able to devour the souls of the living the same way as he father is, she's far too ethical for that. Vampires she just killed, however, are an entirely different story.
Anime and Manga
- In Bleach, Yhwach is a combination of "Killed Too" and "Drained After Death" with a rather unique twist. The soul he reclaims '''is a piece of his own''' that he imparted onto someone else, which has been augmented by taking the knowledge, experience, talents, power and life-force of the individual into itself. When they die, the soul returns to Yhwach and makes him stronger and allows him to live longer.
- Per Word of God, this was one of Mordeth's abilities in the backstory of The Wheel of Time and was one of the ways he became so powerful. Since he hasn't used this power explicitly in his new incarnation as Padan Fain, it's unclear exactly how the mechanics of it worked (though there are other ways to lose your soul/things that eat souls in the setting, as mentioned earlier on this page, they draw their power from the Dark One while Mordeth/Fain's comes from... somewhere... else, so it's unclear just how much overlap there really is).
- In Adam Warrock's first album, "The War For Infinity" Demonos makes a Deal with the Devil for the Infinity Gauntlet with the condition that he "brings back as many souls as he can" before returning or dying. It's not made clear exactly how he is to collect said souls.
- "Souldevourer" by Dismember. Maybe.
- Critical Hit , a live play Dungeons & Dragons campaign, features a rare heroic example. The powers of one of the player characters, the warlock Ket, come from the souls he won in the magical tournament. He is able to utilise the abilties the previous owner of the soul had, to some extent. If he ever loses a game he stands to lose his own soul. It is not yet made explicitely clear what exactly happens to someone who lost a soul in this manner.
- In Minecraft you can collect an item called Soul Sand, which is made up of screaming faces.
- Also popular Fanon holds that Enderpearls are the souls/life force of the Endermen. You can use them to teleport, expending the pearl in the process.
- In Terraria some hardmode bosses and enemies drop souls when defeated. Their souls are used as Functional Magic, for example, souls of Flight are used to power flying objects.
- Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: You can drain soul power from your enemies to create soul arrows, which have a low carrying capacity due to how POWERFUL they are. It's unknown what exactly happens when an elven wraith (something impossible in the main series) drains an uruk's soul, but drain enough and the physical effects are VERY obvious.
- The Wraith occasionally says the trope name when draining an uruk.
- After you complete a Genocide run in Undertale, Chara takes the player's SOUL in a Deal with the Devil to restore the game.
- Demons in Goblins can steal souls from other beings if they grow powerful enough, or barter them for goods and services. Since demons feed by inflicting suffering on other creatures, if they can claim ownership of a soul they can remove it from the cycle of existence, allowing them to constantly torture, kill and resurrect the soul's former owner and feed on their suffering for the rest of eternity.
- Lord King did this to James in the Such Stuff... arc of Roommates. To be precise he tricked him with Your Mind Makes It Real death and abused his own standing as death avatar (So James' dead status is questionable... even more that he was already dead in canon. Did we mention that this comic is kind of Mind Screwy?) all this to pull an I Have Your Best Friend stunt on Jareth. It could be reversed when Jareth claimed the lost soul back, but James was awfully close to dying in a work where nobody can.
- Dirk in Homestuck displays the ability to rip a person's soul from their body, due to being the Prince of Heart (heart = soul). He's interrupted before he can finish, so we don't know what the end result of losing one's soul is, but it was apparently excruciatingly painful for the victim.
- Later on, when he stuffs a bunch of souls into Lil Cal, their bodies seem to go with them — but since this is depicted through Caliborn's shitty claymation it's impossible to say how accurate it is.
- In the Samurai Jack episode "Demongo the Soul Collector", it's really not clear how his powers work, although it seems to be a variation. He appears to consume the soul and body of the victim and transform them into "essence", as he calls it, but the victim seems to be Only Mostly Dead, because Demongo can reform them and command them as slaves. Eventually, Jack finds a way to sever the bond he has with them, and they seem to be restored to full life when released.