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Eat The Summoner

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The person (typically villain) who opens the can for the Sealed Evil In A Can and is eaten by said evil, often as a Karmic Death.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
triton on Apr 18th 2016 at 12:44:16 AM
Last Edited By:
StarSword on Dec 14th 2017 at 2:02:43 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Alice is a Sealed Evil in a Can. Bob, either because he was promised something like immortality or riches, thinks he can control her, or he thinks Alice isn't as evil as everyone says she is, tries to free her. After a bit of hard work, and possibly some out maneuvering of people with more common sense, Bob frees Alice. However, rather than rewarding Bob for his service or even giving him a simple thank you, Alice tosses Bob into her mouth and eats him without a second thought.

This trope when somebody frees or summons a Sealed Evil in a Can only to immediately get eaten by she/he/it. A sub-trope of Evil Is Not a Toy and a common fate of cultists summoning an Eldritch Abomination. One of the hazards of calling up what you can't put down. Is also a sub-trope of You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness.


Examples

Anime and Manga

  • This happens to Samantha the necromancer in episode 3 of Soul Eater when she summons Wrath of the Pharaoh, because of all his undead subjects she'd taken control of by that point.

Literature

  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy it's generally stated that demons will attempt to eat their summoners if they fail to draw a proper pentagram or stray outside of it. Bartimaeus himself alludes to having eaten a few wizards who made silly mistakes in the past. In book two a wizard is eaten by a demon because he copied the summoning circle from a book whose printer had deliberately drawn it wrong in revenge for the wizard assaulting and crippling his son years earlier in the prologue.

  • In "Demon Lord of Karanda", part of the Mallorean by David Eddings, this is a common fate of sorcerers. The sorcerer can only maintain control of a summoned demon by continuously reciting spells at it. If he gets it wrong, he gets eaten.

  • In The Last Battle, Shift uses the humans' fear of Tash to increase his own wealth and fame. This involves posing as Tash's high priest/chosen one and constantly threatening to sic Tash on Shift's enemies. The real Tash eventually learns about this, and he is NOT impressed.
    Tash: Here I am. What hast thou to say?

Video Games

  • In Dark Cloud once the Dark Genie is free it eats the person who organized the ceremony. The creature justifies this by saying that it hadn't eaten in 400 years and was hungry.

Feedback: 49 replies

Apr 18th 2016 at 9:32:16 AM

Summoning and releasing are generally different things in fantasy. Summoning generally implies that it's somewhere other than the summoner's present location. I suppose something like demons being unable to enter the material plane without being summoned might count as Sealed Evil In A Can but you might want to rework it a little.

  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy it's generally stated that demons will attempt to eat their summoners if they fail to draw a proper pentagram or stray outside of it. Bartimaeus himself alludes to having eaten a few wizards who made silly mistakes in the past.

Apr 18th 2016 at 10:36:50 AM

Literature:

  • In the Discworld novel Guards Guards, the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night summon a dragon from "where the dragons went" in order to attract the dragon-slaying true King of Ankh-Morpork to come to town and do his thing, then overthrow Patrician Vetinari so he will be their puppet king. The dragon soon learns to summon itself and incinerates both king and Brethren.

Apr 18th 2016 at 11:12:57 AM

Do they have to be successful in the eating? Because if they don't...

Literature

  • "The Fisherman and the Jinni", one of the first stories (both within the collection and chronologically as it's one of the oldest) in The Arabian Nights has a fisherman discover a Genie In A Bottle. However, unlike the way that trope is usually played, the genie in question is enraged over having spent centuries in the bottle and tells the fisherman that he's going to kill him. The fisherman then has to use his wits to trick the genie back into the bottle.

Apr 18th 2016 at 12:35:59 PM

I'd vote for expanding this to any means of killing the summoner, not just eating the person. One of the narraitive uses I see in this is that the "summoner" would otherwise be the character most likely to know how to get rid of the creature or get it back where it comes from. This trope removes it from the picture pretty much the second the evil being enters it.

Apr 18th 2016 at 1:34:01 PM

Apr 18th 2016 at 9:38:08 PM

Both summoning and releasing should count.

The summoner could also be killed by other means, not just eating.

Apr 18th 2016 at 10:54:02 PM

  • Spirit Tracks: Evil Chancellor Cole ends up eaten by the Big Bad when Link defeats its first form.
  • Warhammer 40 K:
    • Activating an Eldar Avatar of Khaine requires the sacrifice of a veteran. The Young King goes into the Avatar chamber, there's a lot of screaming, and soon the giant burning statue is alive again.
    • Daemonhosts are a type of summoning where instead of bringing a daemon into the material world, it's stuck in a human body, where it can exert a fraction of its powers but be more easy to control. Like all attempts at using Chaos against itself, it's very risky, and those Inquisitors who use them are chased by those that don't.
  • Dawn Of War: Summoning a Bloodthirster kills the unit it's summoned into, though they're usually easy to replace (either Aspiring Champions from the Cannon Fodder Cultists or Chaos Space Marine squads or the Chaos Sorcerer can become hosts).
  • Warcraft III: The Doom spell causes high damage over time, prevents the target from using spells, and when the target inevitably dies, a Doom Guard erupts from it.

Apr 19th 2016 at 1:25:57 AM

This happens to Samantha the necromancer in episode 3 of Soul Eater when she summons Wrath of the Pharaoh, because of all his undead subjects she'd taken control of by that point.

Apr 19th 2016 at 6:03:03 AM

Apr 19th 2016 at 11:00:59 AM

I think this trope should be when the sealed evil (attempts to) kill its liberator in general, not just necessarily by eating.

Apr 19th 2016 at 11:05:43 AM

In "Demon Lord of Karanda", part of the Mallorean by David Eddings, this is a common fate of sorcerers. The sorcerer can only maintain control of a summoned demon by continuously reciting spells at it. If he gets it wrong, he gets eaten.

Apr 19th 2016 at 1:40:16 PM

In Kings Quest V Absence Makes The Heart Go Yonder Graham finds a genie in a bottle. Too bad the genie's been in there for five hundred years and has gotten a bit angry about it. It'll make whoever releases him from the bottle replace him as the occupant of the bottle. It's a good thing there's a swamp witch handy who needs to be disposed of.

Apr 19th 2016 at 6:52:39 PM

@jamespolk did the djinn actually try to eat him or just kill him?

Apr 30th 2016 at 10:09:05 PM

The "eating" part is unnecessary

Jun 16th 2016 at 12:16:26 AM

As so many others suggested before me, I think killing the summoner in any way should count, whether by eating or by any other method. The trope should be renamed Kill The Summoner to reflect that.

Jun 16th 2016 at 10:53:00 PM

  • In Kirby Planet Robobot, as the Final Boss of the Meta Knightmare Returns sub-game, the master computer Star Dream summons the greatest warrior in the galaxy, Galacta Knight to be put against Meta Knight. Right after he's successfully summoned, GK slashes Star Dream, greatly damaging it.

I suddenly remember about a potential trope about a battle tactic, where you have to kill the enemy summoner to make an advantage. That's not what this is, right?

Jun 16th 2016 at 11:37:39 PM

^ No, here, the idea is that the summoned creature is the one who kills the summoner. So yes, Kill The Summoner is unclear too. Maybe Turned Against Its Summoner?

Jun 22nd 2016 at 6:29:45 AM

If this is ever changed so it isn't limited to Sealed Evil In A Can examples but includes magical summoning:

LIterature

  • Andre Norton's Operation Time Search. An evil Atlantean priest summons the "Loving One" demon to accept a Human Sacrifice. When the sacrifice is prevented by outside intervention, the Loving One attacks and kills him instead.

Jun 17th 2016 at 5:23:04 AM

@Snicka: Turned Against Its Summoner is the clearest of titles for this. :D

And... about that potential trope I was talking about, do you think it's tropable?

Jun 17th 2016 at 7:07:32 AM

Video Games

  • Tales Of Phantasia: At the beginning of the game, Mars summons Dhaos in hopes that he could control him for his own nefarious plans. Dhaos kills him immediately afterwards.
  • World Of Warcraft : Wrath of the Lich King: During a tournament, the Gnome Warlock Wilfred Fizzlebang attempts to summon a Doomguard for the participants to fight, but ended up accidentally summoning an Eredar Lord of the Burning Legion, Lord Jaraxxus, who prompts to show the trifling gnome his undoing caused by his arrogance: Kill him. The player is then forced to clean up the mess by fighting Jaraxxus.

(I try my best to not shoehorn his manner of speaking ("Jaraxxus, EREDAR LORD OF THE BURNING LEGION"). I really does and hope it's for the best.)

Jun 17th 2016 at 6:52:54 PM

Video Games

  • Can happen in the first Resident Evil. If the player makes the right decisions, their encounter with Wesker has him show Chris or Jill the Tyrant, then release it to attack them. Just after the Tyrant is released, it turns its attention away from Chris or Jill for a second and attacks Wesker himself.

Jun 19th 2016 at 2:12:27 AM

@DAN 004: Regarding the trope you're suggesting, I think it might be tropable. If there's a summoners who keeps creating more and more Mooks, it's a good strategy to kill the summoner to end the wave of Mooks. Similarly, if there's a Hellgate through which waves of enemies are coming, it might be a good strategy to attack the gate itself - which might be a variant of the same trope or a Sister Trope.

Jun 19th 2016 at 5:20:19 AM

^ I see that Shoot The Mage First already mentions summoners, but what you said about Hell Gate might also help me.

Jun 21st 2016 at 5:12:22 PM

In regards to this trope, it's not supposed to be connected to Summoning Magic at all. More like the person who opens the can for the Sealed Evil In A Can gets eaten by said evil they unleashed, often as a Karmic Death.

Jun 21st 2016 at 6:11:21 PM

^ lol you're too specific.

Jun 22nd 2016 at 12:07:50 AM

I agree that this trope could be expanded to include examples where the monster kills it's summoner, not just by eating.

An example may be in '"Silent Hill'', when Dahlia is burnt alive by the demon that she manipulated Harry into helping her releasing. Also counts as a Karmic Death because she burnt her daughter alive to serve as the vessel for said demon.

Jun 29th 2016 at 10:05:08 AM

Nitpick on the Malloreon example — it's magicians, not sorcerers, who summon demons. While Belgarath can do it as well, he had to study magic (as opposed to sorcery) in one of the prequels to learn how.

Jun 29th 2016 at 5:59:24 PM

Film:

  • Raiders Of The Lost Ark: The Nazis that open the Ark of Alliance are destroyed by spirits and their remains taken into the Ark with them.
  • Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull: Irina Spalko's brain is burnt by the ali... sorry, interdimensional being, after returning his skull and bringing it back to life.

Jun 29th 2016 at 9:59:33 PM

  • In The Last Battle, Shift uses the humans' fear of Tash to increase his own wealth and fame. This involves posing as Tash's high priest/chosen one and constantly threatening to sic Tash on Shift's enemies. The real Tash eventually learns about this, and he is NOT impressed.
    Tash: Here I am. What hast thou to say?

Jul 4th 2016 at 1:51:45 AM

^ there are many ways to establish how evil is not a toy, this is just one of them

Jul 25th 2016 at 5:58:20 PM

Bump, this needs to be broader

I'd so love to fix the description.

Jul 25th 2016 at 11:50:08 PM

  • Averted twice in Chrono Trigger: First when it's discovered Magus isn't trying to unleash Lavos on the world (he's trying to bring it up from the Earth's core so he can defeat it), where it defeats Magus but doesn't eat him, and the second time when Queen Zeal unleashes Lavos (she rides on it like a Shoulder Pet, but it doesn't seem to show her any animosity).
  • The French comic Anachron starts Twenty Minutes Into The Future, with the leaders of a South American Nazi regime escaping Earth to land on a Medieval European Fantasy planet. Still pursued by Earth forces, they end up opening the tomb of an ancient evil force, which instantly kills them and raises their corpses to serve it.

Jul 26th 2016 at 9:56:09 AM

What if they're not eaten, just killed another way?

Jul 26th 2016 at 5:30:45 PM

^ they count, go ahead.

Nov 10th 2017 at 4:35:14 PM

Do we really need this? Is this different enough from Evil Is Not A Toy?

Nov 16th 2017 at 2:05:26 PM

Nov 16th 2017 at 6:03:23 PM

In a horror comic from the 80's, a man has to make three sacrifices to a summon a specific demon. Since he was very mysogynistic, he murders three women for his sacrifices making the excuse that they were "evil" (ie one was promiscuous, another was a shrew, etc). When he finally summons the demon, he discovers that it is female and doesn't like his attitude toward women so it kills and eats him.

Nov 16th 2017 at 6:20:34 PM

  • At the end of Doctor Strange it turns out that Dormammu intended to consume Earth and its people after being summoned, as he does to his followers when Strange forces him to leave.

Dec 13th 2017 at 7:10:31 PM

Video Games

  • You need to Invoke this to beat Shadowgate. After the Warlock Lord summons the Behemoth, you need to assemble the Staff of Ages and use it on the Behemoth. After that, the Behemoth grabs the Warlock Lord and drags him back into the depths.

Dec 15th 2017 at 2:33:42 AM

Film - Live Action

  • Cast A Deadly Spell. Amos Hacksaw uses the Necronomicon to release the Cthulhu Mythos deities onto the Earth in the hope that they will reward him. Because the virgin sacrifice he provides isn't actually a virgin, the first deity through the gate eats him instead and then returns to its own plane.

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