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 peoples' 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.
The Trope Namer
is Mortal Kombat
, which had Shang Tsung saying this just before he proceeds to steal the souls of defeated fighters. His soul-stealing frequently involves the second and third kinds described above.
Compare Soul Power
, which is about mastery of souls in a more general sense, and doesn't have to involve soul theft. See also Our Souls Are Different
. See Anatomy of the Soul
for a parts list.
open/close all folders
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; when he gets taken out, they escape and return to their owners.
- In One Piece, the villain Geck 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.
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."
- 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.)
- Word of God indicates that Grey Men are still able to function because they give their souls up willingly, which destroys most of their individual identity but not brain function; if the soul is removed against the person's will, that will cause an Empty Shell at best and death at worst.
- 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 neccessary 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.
- 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."
- 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 2: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.
- Demons 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- A demilich can perform one of these — if it's not killed before it finishes sucking out 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 who use their Trap Essence ability to steal souls and use them as fuel for their supernatural abilites.
- 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 Beast Machines, Megatron removes the sparks — Transformer souls — of every inhabitant on Cybertron and stores them in containers. He eventually consumes them all in order to make a bid at godhood.
- In Adventure Time, Jake boils a lobster and uses its soul as a garnish for his Satiating Sandwich.
- 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 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 Crowning 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 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.
- Barghests in Dungeons & Dragons can feed on humanoid corpses to gain strength, which damages or destroys the victim's soul in the process.
- 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.
- 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.
Anime and Manga
- In Bleach, Yhwach is a combination of "Killed Too" and "Drained After Death" with a 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.
- 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.
- 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.