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Animated Armor

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No flesh wounds to worry about with these guys.

"We were different once. We fought, drank, and loved, as mortal beings. But our world changed and we faced a stark choice: alter our bodies, or perish. Yet 'survival' is not the same as 'life'. Now we are prisoners of the armor that binds us and the Dust that sustains us."

A character is attacked by a heavily armored knight. Upon defeat, however, it is revealed that there is nothing inside. The empty armor falls to the ground with a great clatter. Was it a ghost? Enchantment? Animation by something unseen?

This trope usually involves some type of full armor that is made up of rigid parts and more or less keeps its humanoid shape when not being worn, such as a medieval full plate or samurai lamellar armor. Because mail armornote  takes the shape of its wearer and is formless on its own, you will not usually see a mail shirt and leggings walking about because it runs the risk of looking silly. On the other hand, many kinds of armor are made of some combination of textile, scales, mail, or plates and there is nothing saying you can't have an animated armor with both flexible and rigid components.

In Science Fiction settings, a similar effect may be achieved by using Powered Armor in unmanned mode (programmed or remote).

See also Tin Tyrant. Compare Living Clothes, Adaptive Armor, Robotic Reveal. Sapient Tank is when this armor is backed by tracks and a massive gun.


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  • A commercial for Hammerite paint showed four rusty suits of armour marching into a junkyard, there to paint each other with the product — and at the end, three brightly-painted suits walked out, and the fourth was never seen again.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Skull Knight of Berserk is an empty suit of armor probably inhabited by the spirit of Emperor Gaiseric, who conquered the world in ancient times, and he's implied to be leading Guts down the same path towards undead-hood. Exactly how man and armor merged is a mystery, though elves might have been involved.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, animated armor stands vigilant in an old throne room. The party is fully aware of the threat, having passed that way on a previous dungeon crawl, but is caught off-guard regardless when the armor attacks them more aggressively than normal. Laios laments his inability to cook and eat them, something that he'd been getting accustomed to with other monsters, but they prove to slot into the ecosystem of the dungeon just like like any other monster. Turns out they’re a colonial organism, made up of many interlinked clam-like monsters who mimic armour with their metallic shells. Even their swords are just specialized clams. They're unusually active right now because they're protecting their eggs. The party serves the clams up steamed, fried, grilled, and in soup.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist one can become this if a person attaches someone's soul to a suit of armor with a blood seal.
    • Alphonse Elric is one of these. The fact that he has the voice of an eleven-year-old takes a lot of the intimidation factor right out. It does get him mistaken for the Fullmetal Alchemist on a regular basis, which annoys his brother Ed—the real Fullmetal Alchemist—to no end.
    • Both Al and Ed fight empty suits of armor at one point. They're not quite as nice; both suits are controlled by serial killers. Then again one turns out to be Affably Evil as well as being two people. The other turns out to be Barry the Chopper. Barry turns out to be fairly good-hearted, though still loving to kill, until he is irrevocably killed.
    • There are also the mass-produced suits of armor Hohenheim created for the Thule Society in Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa. Though they have people inside them, they've been killed by the intense cosmic forces inside the portal that connects the FMA-verse to the real world & the armors are animated by the forces that dwell within the gate. Taken to a slightly creepy level when Al takes control of one (which just happens to look like his old self) and uses it to help him fight the others, then after they get recalled, temporarily mind-rides back to our world with it.
  • Played with in Gargantia on the Verdurous PlanetKugel was dead long before Ledo found his fleet, but his Machine Caliber, Striker, pretends that he is still alive inside of her so that she can continue his work. A similar twist, even though the "animated" part is to be expected.
  • Guyver: If the host is killed while in use of the armor, it goes into a murderous autopilot until it's host is resurrected. Technically not empty of an occupant aside from a temporary corpse, still qualifies for this trope regardless.
  • Not really armor, but in Kill la Kill Senketsu (and Junketsu to a lesser extent) are both living sailor uniforms that can transform into very skimpy armor.
  • Holoearth Chronicles Side:E ~Yamato Phantasia~: Ayame can remotely control a large samurai armor with her Will-o'-the-Wisp familiars called Karma and Shiranui.
  • Hunter × Hunter: In the GREED ISLAND arc, Gon and Killua were facing the monsters on the island, one of which is a small rat-like creature that controls a suit of armor while it hides.
  • In Pokémon the Series: Black & White, an episode had a Yamask haunting a museum, going as far as having a suit of armor attack the gang. Similarly, another episode has a group of Litwick scare the gang by using Psychic and making a bunch of objects form a makeshift golem, such as a statue bust for a head, an umbrella for a sword, etc.
  • In Ranma ˝, one of the characters buys an ancient suit of armor that grants incredible fighting powers, supposedly "unlocking your true potential", and Ranma wants to use it. Three problems, one, it's a woman's suit, two, it's sentient, a vindictive jerk and a Panty Thief, and three, it's sized for a girl with... er, a more normal schoolgirl type figure. Girl Ranma is too short, thin and big-breasted to fit in his female form.
  • In the Ronin Warriors OVA Gaiden the Armor of Halo is seen running around the streets of New York without its owner. Turns out it is being controlled by Shikaisen the Big Bad of the story. The Armor of Torrent is seen walking on its own in the last episode of the OVA Legend of the Inferno Armor in order to join the other Ronin armors that were captured by Mukala. It has been confirmed by the main characters that the armors can be used for good or evil but the more fights the armors are used in, especially without the human spirit, the more corrupt the armors become. That is why by the end of the second OVA the armors are destroyed for good.
  • In Saint Seiya, both Gold Saints of Gemini have used their armour to defend their temple without actually having to be there or wearing it. Shiryu overcomes the first instance of this quite effectively.
    • Also, in Saga's epic hallucination/dream/vision/omen of doom sequence during the Sanctuary Arc, all of the 12 Gold Cloths and the five Bronze Cloths currently making plot are seen to be what would pass as empty but moving-if it weren't for the eyes. Whatever happens, they turn on Saga.
  • In Slayers Evolution-R the cast meets one of these when they begin their search for the Hellmaster's Jar. This armor is in fact possessed by the soul of Naga the Serpent, who had a run-in with another cursed jar. In the process, Naga lost her memories and began referring to herself as Nama.
    • In the same story arc they help a squad of animated armors recover the Helmet of one of their members.
    • In the OVA "Jeoffory's Knighthood", the Big Bad uses a legion of these guys as his Mooks.
  • Seen in an episode of Space Adventure Cobra: while on a desert planet, Cobra and Lady are confronted to what appears to be animated empty suits of armor. They are in fact a species of telekinetic or haunted swords controlling the humanoid armors to move around.
  • In Zatch Bell!, a beast-like mamodo named Baltro has the power to control objects with flowers, one of the defenses guarding the castle where they fight is a Zerg Rush of empty armor suits controlled by these flowers.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 27, the ghostly Thousand-Goat Slayer possesses an inanimate suit of armor and uses it to move around and grab stuff.

    Comic Books 
  • One of the pre-Season 8 Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics featured Angelus assembling a very Bishamon like armour.
  • Conan the Barbarian once fought one of these guys, realizing he was screwed as even though he could chop the arm and the head of the armor off, the thing could still attack. Thankfully the Wench of the Week shone some light into the priest controlling it, following which it collapsed like a sack of potatoes.
  • Freaks' Squeele: Xiong Mao is exploring deep in the Hall of Archives with her companions in volume 9 when she encounters a living suit of armor who has been down there for centuries. His master was a knight so excessively fond of wearing plate armor that he did not take it off to eat, to sleep, or even to have sex. He gave it a name: Halifax. And thus, the armor came to life. One day the knight died, and according to his will, he was interred together with Halifax. After several centuries of his master's silence and decomposition, Halifax climbed out of the tomb with his master's corpse still inside him and searched through every library it could find for the secret to reviving his master, eventually finding his way to the archives. Then, when Xiong Mao and her friends arrived, he remembered how his knight used to seduce women with the words, "If you do not offer me your heart, I will die!" Therefore, he is now convinced that he needs to take the heart of a woman — literally — and politely asks Xiong Mao to hold still while he cuts out her heart. That's just the start of the craziness.
  • Iron Man's armors are sometimes remote-controlled. And sometimes, like in Hypervelocity or the Tony's Abusive Boyfriend arc, it has its own AI, which can impersonate him and speak. Special mention goes to the Safe Armor, which was partially infected by Ultron and became yandere for Tony.
  • Played for Laughs in MAD with "A History of Sex." A Lady and Knight are eager to enjoy their wedding night, and the bride is eagerly pulling off her husband's multiple pieces of plate mail. It's only after she finally removes the helmet does she realize she's just married one of these.
  • The Destroyer from The Mighty Thor has been described as such, but is quite a deconstruction of the idea: The Destroyer armor is physically empty and only moves when animated by the Life Energy of a person using it, willingly or not. The same goes for the Destroyer in the film, with the added coolness of being able to reverse its entire body. And energy blasts.
  • In Silverblade, the Executioner always manifests by inhabiting a suit of armour: anything from a conquistador's armour to the costume of a TV superhero. As the Executioner is a being of pure spiritual energy, the armour appears to be empty but mobile.
  • The Transformers (Marvel): The Pretenders could remote-operate their synthetic-flesh shells from outside to fight alongside them.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Etta and Bobby are poking at a suit of armor in Lotsa Dough's manor museum when it moves and orders them to follow. By the time they realize that it's not an eccentric wearing the armor but Dr. Psycho using his ectoplasmic control, the Holliday Girls have already walked into a trap.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: As explained in "Divine Opposition, Part 2", Ami's Powered Armor are basically remote controlled armor pieces that move with the wearer to apply more force to their actions. If the user is actually outside the armor, it's basically this trope, "[w]hen fitted with a fake helmet".
  • ''Power Rangers AVX features one of these as a Monster of the Week.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Adventures of Mark Twain, the Mysterious Stranger is depicted as an empty suit of red plate armor holding an animate masquerade-style mask on a stick where its head should be.
  • In the climax of Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses, Rowena uses the stolen magical flower to vivify some suits of armor to attack Genevieve and Derek.
  • Appears in Beauty and the Beast, while Cogsworth is showing Belle around the enchanted castle.
  • An animated suit of armor appears in addition to the chorus of ghostly ancestors in Halas and Batchelor's animated adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera Ruddigore.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Barbarella: The Black Guards are nothing more than empty, moving suits of leather armor.
  • In Disney's film adaptation of Bedknobs and Broomsticks Ms. Price casts a spell that animates old suits of armour and old war uniforms to fight off German invaders. This is, in fact, the basis of the entire movie. They spend the first two-thirds or so of the movie getting the spell, and then the remainder of the movie using it.
  • Used in a heavily symbolic way in a dream sequence in Excalibur. The bare armor represents Lancelot fighting himself.
  • The Haunted Mansion (2003) has the protagonist, Jim Evers, fighting his way through a corridor of living armour to save his children. Being played by Eddie Murphy Jim is pretty much a Non-Action Guy, but with his kids in peril, he managed to defeat all the armours with a bit of Deadly Dodging (it helps that the living armours are pretty much mindless).
  • The Witch-King in The Lord of the Rings is a spirit that is incorporeal when not clad in something, like the rest of the Nazgûl, but when he rides into battle in The Return of the King, he becomes something between this trope and Tin Tyrant. Cue the clattering armor falling on the ground when Éowyn and Merry kill him.
  • Like in the books, the suits of Hogwarts Armors in Harry Potter can be animated. The incantation is 'Pierototem locomotor'.
    Professor McGonagall: I've always wanted to use that spell!
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Destroyer in Thor. Its arrival to Earth includes this lovely Shout-Out.
      Agent Sitwell: Is that one of Stark's?
      Agent Coulson: I don't know. Guy never tells me anything.
    • Iron Man 3: The Mark 42 armor can be piloted remotely by Tony or controlled sans pilot by J.A.R.V.I.S. The same applies to all of Tony's other armors, which he summons to fight off the Mooks in the climax.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Iron Man rescues Spider-Man from drowning, but it turns out to be just an empty set of armor that Tony is controlling remotely.
  • In Sinbad of the Seven Seas, the ghost warriors of the Isle of the Dead Sinbad and his crew fight are represented as animated suits of plate armor.
  • The Taiwanese film Treasure Hunter has a golem made from animated sand inhabiting an armour assaulting the protagonist early in the film. The protagonists managed to reassemble a broken-down pistol and gun down said armour in seconds.

  • Living armours shows up in a few Fighting Fantasy books, as high-level enemies.
    • The armoury from Trial of Champions has an undefeatable armour which activates the moment you tried collecting a magic helmet. Choose to fight and you will suffer some STAMINA damage - your best bet is to hold it off long enough until you found an exit.
    • The interiors of Castle Argent in Legend of Zagor have armours as MacGuffin Guardians, showing up near Tower Chests. They're not invincible this time, but they're still powerful Elite Mooks with rather high SKILL and STAMINA stats (although obtaining an Ironhog makes the battle easier).
    • The Tower of Maun in Howl of the Werewolf contains a weapons room where you can collect a powerful spiked mace. But if you try taking the mace, a nearby suit of armour automatically comes to life and attacks you with a similar weapon.

  • The animated armor army from Bedknob and Broomstick.
  • In Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon, one minion is a suit of armor animated by a ghost.
  • Sort of subverted and played straight at the same time in The Culture novel Matter. Some characters lack the training and reflexes to use the Culture's combat suits in a fight, so their targeting and evasion systems are slaved to the onboard computers.
  • In the first book in the Deltora Quest series, Leif and company run across the villainous Gorl. Upon his defeat, they discover that his centuries-long stand as guardian of some magic flowers has long since reduced his body to dust, leaving him as an empty suit of armor animated by sheer undying willpower.
  • In Kristen Britain's novel First Riders Call, out of control magic causes every suit of armor inside the palace to come to life and attack the inhabitants for a period of about an hour.
  • Gaunt's Ghosts books have the wirewolves, daemons inhabiting suits of armour. The fething things are definite Lightning Bruisers.
  • McGonagall and Flitwick enchant the armour of the castle to fight in the Final Battle of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This was hinted at in various places in the earlier books, if you paid attention (they occasionally moved on their own, and could even be taught Christmas carols).
  • Journey to Chaos: Fairtheora's sentinel armor is enchanted to move on its own if need be.
  • Lancelot fights against an animated suit of armor in the Roger Zelazny short story "The Last Defender of Camelot".
  • Agiluf, the title character of Italo Calvino's The Nonexistent Knight, who is sustained by "willpower and faith in our holy cause".
  • In the Rick Riordan books, nearly all major public statues are dormant automatons, with the activation phrase "Activate Daedalus Twenty-Three" followed by their orders. But the downside is they will perform ONLY those orders. So the one sent to 'kill flying pigs' will do that and only that.
  • In David Eddings' The Sapphire Rose, the heroes find themselves up against a number of armored baddies. Until they realize that it is just armor with dusty remains that have been programmed to defend the stone they stand on, which turns out to be a mistake. The armour was enchanted by Otha, who had frightening amounts of power, but also a frightening lack of common sense.
  • Referenced by Puddleglum in C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair. When the protagonists first encounter the Lady of the Green Kirtle, she is accompanied by a knight in Black Armor. Puddleglum posits that while the armor is certainly man-shaped, the wearer might not be a man. Among the possibilities he lists are "A skeleton" and "Nothing at all." Jill and Eustace are understandably spooked.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, after Ragnar defeats Madox, the power armor is empty. Almost every Marine of the Thousand Son are like this, having their bodies turned to dust.
  • In Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux, Despereaux dreams of a Knight in Shining Armor, only for the suit to take the helm off and show there was nothing inside. Later, he realizes that it was empty because it was waiting for him.
  • Threadbare: When Emmet gets turned into a Golem, this is what he is.
  • In Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, The Fair Folk send a knight to challenge Holger. When he falls, Holger finds the suit empty.
  • In Too Many Curses, when terrible threats start to manifest in Margle's castle, suits of armor for all manner of fantasy creatures become animated and leave the Armory to oppose Tiama, the most dangerous of the lot.
  • In Voyage of the Shadowmoon by Sean McMullen, Silverdeath is a chainmail vest that, once put on a "host", transforms around them into a full suit of armor capable of scouring entire continents of life; this is essentially animate armor since the host has no control over what Silverdeath does.
  • In the Warhammer novel series following Konrad, the eponymous hero encounters a knight clad in bronze plate, and upon defeating him finds the armour empty. Being too Genre Blind to realize that this is the Wahammer Old World, he takes it for his own, and finds that it is magically aiding him in battle. And then it takes control of his movements. And starts eating him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "Oxygen", shortly after arriving at a space station broadcasting a distress signal, the Doctor, Bill and Nardole encounter a person in a spacesuit stacking boxes who doesn't respond to any of their entreaties. As is soon revealed by the removal of the helmet, this is because there's no one in the suit, which is being animated by its internal AI.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • Savitar's hulking suit of armor can act on its own to some degree, as Barry learns mid-battle.
    Savitar: I forgot to tell you—my suit's cooler than yours!
    • Red Death's suit similarly can act on its own through mental control. It can also fly to its owner in pieces, similar to Mark 42.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "The Knightly Murders". The ghost of an evil knight animates his old suit of armor to kill everyone responsible for the desecration of his burial site.
  • Failed pilot Lost in Oz had these, enchanted by the Good Witch of the South.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Last Defender of Camelot", Merlin animated a suit of armor to protect him during the 1,000 years that he slept in the cave in Cornwall. After he awakens, Merlin has the Hollow Knight fight Lancelot so that he can sacrifice Tom. Lancelot handily defeats it.
  • Armored Darkness from Ultraman Mebius is a set of armour owned by the series' Big Bad, Alien Empera, who is fueled by the alien overlord's sheer hatred of peace. Upon Empera's demise in the actual series, the soul of the alien continues living in his armour, causing said armor to live on and antagonize the heroes of subsequent shows such as Ultraman Mebius Gaiden, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle and Ultra Zero Fight.
  • Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger has Dogold, the Raging Knight. His main mission was to gather the anger of humans as part of the Deboss Army's plot to revive their master. Along the way, he even managed to possess a Kyoryuger from the Feudal era.

  • The Celtic Dullahan was an evil Faerie or undead creature that was either depicted as a Headless Horseman or an animated suit of armor.

  • In "The Fall of the City", a radio play by Archibald Mac Leish broadcast in 1937, Orson Welles narratively describes a city that has gotten word that "The Conquerer" is approaching. In the face of uncertainty and recrimination, the people of the city do not mount a defense; instead, they surrender before the Conqueror arrives. With their faces on the ground, only the narrator can see that "There's no one! There's no one at all! No one! ...The helmet is hollow! The metal is empty! The armor is empty! I tell you there's no one at all there: there's only the metal! The barrel of metal: the bundle of armor. It's empty!" The play ends with the warning "The people invent their oppressors: they wish to believe in them. They wish to be free of their freedom: released from their liberty: The long labor of liberty ended!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Forgotten Realms: There are Animated Armor constructs created by magic called Helmed Horrors and Battle Horrors. Typically used as guardians, especially in isolated places. Also, a rare wizard spell "Iron Maiden" creates short-living, but fully powered and undispellable Battle Horror.
    • Subverted several times in module I6 Ravenloft. In a spooky Gothic setting, the Player Characters repeatedly come across empty suits of armor that they may expect to attack them. Most of the armor suits do nothing: one is rigged to spring forward and flail around, scaring the PCs but not seriously harming them.
      • Curse of Strahd, Ravenloft's updated successor, likewise has suits of armor in the castle rigged to spook the players more than hurt them... and one actual animated suit of armor, which activates when someone speaks its command word and follows that person's commands. Seeing as this is Strahd's armor and Strahd's castle, there's a good chance that a party venturing into the room where it's kept will have it turned on them.
    • Module S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. One room has three sets of empty, magically animated suits of armor. In order to escape a PC must defeat a set of armor and put on its helmet.
    • Then, of course, there is the generic Animated Armor, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Iron Golems are regularly carved to look like enormous suits of metal armor.
  • Godforsaken: Hollow knights are animated suits of armour with nothing inside except for the memory of the warrior that once donned the suit.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Rubric Marines of the Thousand Sons are suits of futuristic powered armor, but animated by magic and the ghosts of their former occupants in the manner of the traditional fantasy version. The interesting juxtaposition of sci-fi and fantasy tropes is a big part of 40k's charm.
    • The Eldar Phoenix Lords who are no longer alive and have become amalgamations of souls controlling ancient battle-suits.
    • The Necrons are essentially an entire alien race of this. Their souls are bound to regenerative robot bodies. But after millions of years, this has left most of them insane or as unthinking automatons.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Headless Knight was the first in the card game's early days. This monster's Flavor Text mentions this:
      A haunted spirit of a falsely accused knight who wanders in search of truth and justice.
    • According to the backstory of the Legendary Six Samurai, Shinai was most trusted by Shi En as a heroic warrior who could escape from the jaws of death, no matter what. However, after sadly dying in the later years of the great war, his soul ended up dwelling inside the armor he died in, and now protects the current generation of the Six Samurai.
    • Shaddoll Hound and Shaddoll Lizard are the armors of Satellaknights Sirius and Unukhalai controlled by the strings of El Shadoll Construct/Nephilim
    • The entire Phantom Knights archetype falls into this trope, consisting of ghostly armour and weapons.

  • One of the biggest twists of BIONICLE was that the Makuta species had evolved beyond the need for physical bodies and were essentially just greenish-black liquid/gas/energy encased in reinforced Protosteel armor. Cracking the armor meant nothing if the energy wasn't somehow incinerated afterwards, and they could easily just hop into another suit. The sole exception was Icarax, as he went up against the Ignika and it, upon realizing Icarax was unlike any being it had encountered before, decided to see if he was always like that, devolving him back to a physical body. Since the current generation of Makuta armor isn't designed to host a living being, it crushed against his restored organic components and... well, he survived the experience, but...

    Video Games 
  • The Battle Horrors and their weaker cousins the Helmed Horrors in the first Baldur's Gate.
  • Blade Master has a gigantic suit of living armour, taller than the heroes, as the second level's boss. It later returns as a trio of Wolfpack Boss in the last level and a Degraded Boss the player defeats before facing the main villain.
  • Hakumen from BlazBlue counts. His soul is confined to the Susanooh unit, the armour that covers his body. This also applies to Yuuki Terumi/Susanoo, whose soul was the original owner of said armor.
  • In Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Malek's spirit is infused to his armor as punishment for his failure to save the Circle from Vorador.
  • The succubi's mooks from Blood Knights are sentient, living armour, powered by flesh bound into their interiors. As such, despite being made of metal they can bleed like the game's other organic, flesh-and-blood enemies.
  • Bloody Spell has ancient Chinese armors who comes to life in the mausoleum stages. They're one of the largest enemies in-game, and far more durable than regular mooks.
  • Necromata from Bound by Blades is a golden suit of armor that once belonged to a heroic swordswoman, but after it's master sacrifices herself to (unsuccessfully) stop the Ilcyon threat, the Ilcyon energy then takes over the armor, animating it into a fearsome boss enemy powered by dark magic who attacks everything in sight.
  • The suits of haunted armor from Brawlhalla that fell from the sky and attacked the villagers of the Ikrusk, as well as the legend Magyar, who is 100 souls inhabiting a single suit of armour.
  • Magically animated suits of armor are called doomguards in Avernum. They live up to their name.
  • The Armor enemies from the Breath of Fire games.
  • A common enemy in the Castlevania series. Though they come in many shapes and sizes, a mainstay since the first NES title has been one that hurls heavy axes as if they were boomerangs.
  • City of Villains has the very rare Living Armor boss.
  • In the Crysis series, this is Alcatraz's ultimate fate. His vital organs are all shot, so his suit starts to break his entire body down and turn it into more nanosuit mass. Thanks to Brain Uploading, no physical problems arise, only existential ones (which Prophet is happy to spend the entire third game whining about).
  • Dark Castle: The Black Knight is actually a haunted suit of armor. If it is destroyed, the dismantled pieces will try to possess someone and reform the suit.
  • Bishamon from Darkstalkers is a suit of samurai armor possessed by an evil spirit.
  • Dark Souls games:
    • The Black Knights in Dark Souls are Animated Armors that are all that remains of the knights that accompanied Lord Gwyn when he linked the First Flame. The kindled Flame reduced the knights' bodies to ash but breathed life into their armor. The Iron Golem is also a 40 feet tall armor suit animated by its "core".
    • The sequel gives us some bosses like Ruin Sentinels and Smelter Demon.
    • The threequel has the Dragonslayer Armour, which is empty and controlled by the Pilgrim Butterflies like a puppet. In The Ringed City DLC it comes back for a rematch, and defeating it this time gets you the armour set to wear for yourself. Its Flavor Text says it was reanimated this time by "the memory of the hunt".
  • The Eldar in Dawn of War 2 have the Wraith Guards, piles of metal inhabited by the erm... ghosts of fallen Eldar. In a similar vein, the Eldar also have Wraithlords, which are essentially bulked-up Wraithguards. So, Animated Armor meets Mini-Mecha.
  • In Death's Door, all of the Lords of Doors are this. Each one is created by the previous one before they die. No one knows the origins of the first Lord of Doors.
  • The Demigod Oak is an empty suit of armor inhabited by its former wearer.
  • Desktop Dungeons has Animated Armor in the Factory special dungeon. They only have one hit point, but they all have a number of Protections From Death (the ability to survive one fatal blow) equal to their level. This makes them really useful for level-springboarding, since they don't regenerate the "hits" if you run off to heal. Find one you can survive one hit from, attack it, retreat until you heal and repeat until it dies.
  • Devil May Cry:
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness has the ominous-looking Dark Knight, complete with fire coming out of where its helmet should be. It makes a comeback in Disgaea D2.
  • A common enemy in the Dragon Quest series.
  • Dragon Age: Origins had a quest where, if you went in a certain room that was filled with suits of armor, their heads would follow you, and if you got to a certain point, they would attack you.
    • In Dragon Quest V, Restless Armours are one of the recruitable Mons, and can be found as an equippable (and cursed) armor.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion, this is implied to be the case for the Knights of Order, lesser Daedra servants of the expansion's Big Bad, Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order. Their armor is their body and thus, cannot be looted.
  • The Broken Lords of Endless Legend were a society of honorable knights and skilled engineers, but when Auriga's climate changed and the planet began to die, they had to bind their souls into suits of armor in order to survive. Now they must drain Dust and life to maintain their bodies. Their faction quest is about finding a cure to their affliction. In-game, the Broken Lords don't utilize food causing their units to have no health regeneration, but are instead healed through expending Dust. New citizens (and units) are made by animating suits of armor with Dust.
  • A notable subversion in Fable II in Terry Cotter's. Befitting the name you find an army of suits of armor. Many would tell you this is where they start destroying the armors in case they attack. They don't.
  • In the "Get a Clue" level in The Fairly OddParents: Shadow Showdown, these serve not only as enemies, but a level mechanic. In one section, in order to get a particular wish star, Timmy (as a ghost) must chase down suits of armor to the base that corresponds to their color, then go "boo", which scares them so much they cower, unmoving.
  • The Trauma Harnesses in Fallout: New Vegas: Old World Blues were originally designed to take over the motor functions of injured soldiers and evacuate them from battle, but after the users died due to being trapped in the malfunctioning suits, the harnesses continued to operate autonomously, with skeletons still occupying them.
  • Final Fantasy X and X-2 have an entire class of enemies devoted to this. The only problem is the fact that these suits are at least 15 feet tall. And thus outclass you when you first come across them. Completely outclass you.
  • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Ike and Soren discuss this trope and rumours concerning it. Soren mentions that there's a rumor that the Black Knight isn't actually a man inside the famous suit of armor, but that it's possessed by a demon or similar. Though they quickly dismiss the possibility, it does turn out there's something not right about the man.
  • The Castle Realm in Gauntlet: Dark Legacy has animated suits of armor as enemies in the later levels.
  • Gotcha Force has the Ghost and Elemental Knights. However, it's quite obvious that they're empty, as they have no helmets and the latter's armor even falls to pieces when it throws its sword (which contains its lifeforce).
  • Guild Wars has a few enemies like this. The Forgotten and Mursaat use animated armor for their melee units.
  • Several of these appear as enemies in Hype: The Time Quest. They use flails as weapons and collapse piece by piece after defeat, although they reform after a short while.
  • Hidden Dragon: Legend has a steampunk variant with the Nameless General, a giant suit of armor fought as a boss.
  • Hogwarts Legacy: Pensieve Sentries, Pensieve Sentinels, Pensieve Protectors and the Pensieve Guardian are suits of armor that serve as enemies.
  • Death's Hand, The Dragon of Jade Empire, is in fact the suit of armour of Prince Sun Li, inhabited by the ghost of his brother Prince Sun Kin, put there by their brother Sun Hai.
  • Jewel Master have sentient sets of armor in Jardine's castle, and they attack by swinging their Epic Flails at your direction.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The Guard Armor Heartless resembles a living suit of armor with floating gauntlets and boots.
    • A straighter example is the Lingering Will in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, the discarded armor of a previous Keyblade wielder animated by sheer willpower. In Birth by Sleep you get to briefly play as the armor after its original owner gets possessed by the Big Bad.
    • Birth by Sleep Final Mix has the Armor of Eraqus and No Heart, which appear to be data versions of Master Eraqus's and Xehanort's Keyblade Armor.
  • An empty suit of armor is an enemy in one of Kingdom of Loathing's power-leveling spots, the Spooky Gallery. Bits of it (though not the breastplate) can be kept as loot, and are some stiff bits of armor and weaponry. With stiff initiative penalties. And the chance of just getting smashed to bits.
  • The Henchmen from King's Quest: Mask of Eternity.
  • In the first Legacy of Kain, Malek of the Sarafan. Also his minions in his castle.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Iron Knuckles, a series-wide enemy ranging from an ordinary Mook to an uncommon Boss in Mook Clothing, are canonically suits of armor animated by evil magic (barring one in Ocarina of Time that held a brainwashed captive). There's another recurring enemy known as Darknut which resembles the Iron Knuckle, but it's actually a living being wearing armor.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass has the central dungeon being patrolled by suits of armor called Phantoms, who are completely invincible (at least, until you get the Phantom Sword). If one of these scores a hit on you, you lose a full heart, 30 seconds off of the titular hourglass, and are sent back to the start of the floor. They come in three flavors: regular (blue), fast (red), and teleporting (gold).
    • Special mention has to go to The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, where Phantoms controlled by the ghost of Princess Zelda, whose soul is separated from her body in the first hour of the game, can be used to help out in dungeons. However, while she isn't controlling it, it acts just like those in Phantom Hourglass. It's worth noticing that while she is in control, you can speak with other Phantoms... who give stereotypical office chatter. (There's a reason why this game is considered the most tongue-in-cheek of the franchise.)
  • Lost Kingdoms has the Ghost Armor and the Chaos Armor (which is an upgrade of the former). They are dullahans, they carry their heads (which are on fire), and they are fairly impractical to use. Both of them are upgraded from the Dragon Knight, though it's unclear if that creature counts as this trope or not.
  • Found as common enemies in the mansions of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. The early ones are invincible, the later ones can be tripped to reveal their possession by a ghost. The Tough Possessor boss also uses them as hosts, including a gigantic version.
  • Some enemies in the first level of MediEvil 2 are emerald-colored suits of armor.
  • Animated armor breastplates possessed by ghosts and bearing Mii facial features appear among the vast cast of enemies in Miitopia.
  • In the Stage 4 of Monster Party, one of the bosses is a giant possessed suit of samurai armor that attacks by shooting swords. Before the fight, it declares itself to be a slowpoke (though it is slower than other bosses in the game).
  • The Durahan from the Monster Rancher series.
  • Crackle Knights and their evolved counterparts, Sizzle Knights from Monster Sanctuary.
  • Mother 3 features these as enemies confronted by Duster during his "infiltration" of Osohe Castle.
  • Musya has a gigantic samurai armor set as the game's second-to-last boss. It seems to be animated by some magic purple smoke - defeat it and the smoke leaks, causing the boss to collapse into regular armor.
  • Myth 2: Soulblighter has Stygian Knights, empty suits of black armor carrying greataxes that are entirely immune to arrows but weak to explosives.
  • Doku from the Xbox reboot of Ninja Gaiden.
  • Duke Galtz in One Way Heroics.Eventually, he reveals that he has lost his body when he was dragged into the darkness, and knows not the force that binds him to his current form, but offers his services as a meat shield to defend you on your journey.
  • In Overwatch, Pharah has a Halloween-exclusive "Enchanted Armor" skin that turns her into a haunted suit of armor. This has a rather nifty effect in how she still "wears" a helmet during gameplay (maintaining her head hitbox for clarity/gameplay concerns), but non-combat poses that feature her taking off her helmet shows nothing underneath it. Also, rather than simply ragdolling upon death, her armor completely shatters into its individual pieces.
  • Six possessed suits, each with progressively more energy, are battled in the fourth area of NES game Pinball Quest.
  • Vhailor from Planescape: Torment is a ghost inhabiting a suit of armour.
  • One of the new families introduced in Pokémon Black and White, Golett and Golurk (particularly the latter), are golems resembling armor suits inhabited by spirits, giving them an unusual Ground/Ghost typing.
    • If one considers an arthropod's exoskeleton to be armor then Shedinja also counts. It's the empty exoskeleton left from Nincada evolving into Ninjask and is a Ghost/Bug type with 1HP but an ability that makes it immune to any attack which is not super effective.
  • Pray For Death: Although Maelstrom was once a flesh and blood human, he has become little more than his suit of armor. He no longer bleeds, for example - something the blood-crazed Pantera comments on.
  • Raging Blades have a giant suit of living armor as a boss in the Tower of Apocalypse, which reforms repeatedly when damaged until it's life is depleted, at which point it collapses and fall apart.
  • Minor example in Realms of the Haunting: one armor in the mansion is said to stink to high heaven and have flies surrounding it, and it's heavily implied to be housing a corpse. If you pay attention you'll see that, unlike other suits, this one will be facing you no matter the angle you view it from.
  • Some suits of armor in Resident Evil 4 will strike at the player when they come into range, and fall into pieces after the attack. Apparently these suits are infested with Las Plagas. Leon also has to fight more mobile and resilient Armadura, blowing off their helmet and destroying the parasite inside before they go down. As with all Las Plagas, the parasite dissolves to nothing after death.
  • In RuneScape there is a Warriors guild when one can bring a set of normal armour to animate it and fight against it as training.
  • In SOMA, your character turns out to be something like this; a copy of the real Simon Jarrett’s mind downloaded into an empty deep sea diving suit that’s been modified to contain an AI. It’s not completely empty. You’re actually sharing it with the corpse of some poor woman who died while using it and ended up being melded with the suit by structure gel, which is how you’re able to move around properly. But the basic principle of this trope is still there.
  • Nightmare from the Soul Series (see Image Links) spent some time this way until his defeat and death in Soul Calibur IV requiring him to possess another human in Soul Calibur V when his minions reassemble the fragments of Soul Edge. There is some Gameplay and Story Segregation at work here as, though his 1P outfits in III and IV could qualify (as you don't see any actual body and by IV his torso has become a sphere of energy), his alternate outfits in those game show a visible body (moreso in III as his alternate in IV is less human in nature).
  • Spiritual Assassin Taromaru have an animated samurai armour as the first major enemy (of seven) in the final stage's Boss Bonanza.
  • The Tin Soldiers from Spyro the Dragon (1998).
  • In Super Lesbian Animal RPG the party is attacked by suits of golden armor while exploring the secret Guardian's Vault underneath the town of Greenridge. The armor was animated by dimunitive shadow creatures taking up residence inside it, and while it is extremely sturdy at first, it looses defense as it is fought, as pieces of the armor come apart. Later in the Uncanny Valley, two more variants are encountered, the Emerald Armor and Cerulean Armor.
  • Sword Of The Necromancer have your heroine, Koko fighting various enemies in some dungeons, one of them being sentient headless armor wielding gigantic axes.
  • In Telepath RPG chapter 2, if you choose to go against the shadowlings in the end, you'll fight phantom armors in the last and second last fights.
  • In Terraria, one of the enemies is the Possessed Armor.
  • The former page image is Alice Margatroid from Touhou Project, who COULD pull this, but usually prefers dolls. It's fairly popular in fanart to draw her controlling suits of armor though.
  • Vagrant Story's Dullahan, Last Crusader, Nightstalker, and Dark Crusader are all suits of armor that Lea Monde has infused with the power of the Dark. Some are sent to bar Ashley's way by Sydney himself; others are reanimated by the Knights of the Cross.
  • The character Grey in Valkyrie Profile had his soul bound to an empty suit of armor, as well as Barbarossa and his Palette Swaps.
  • Warcraft III has the War Golems, which are golems made from a giant suit of armor. The same game, as well as World of Warcraft, also has Revenants. Those are sort of elemental undead which manifest as a floating suit of armor controlled by an elemental force. In Warcraft III there were few physical differences between them, all appearing as the same armor (of different sizes depending on the revenant's power) held together by a vague flowing energy (usually blueish for both Ice, Frost and Death revenants, though Fire ones have orange energy.) World of Warcraft gives different types distinct armors, and their elemental affiliation is more clearly defined with mud, water, fire or wind swirling inside the armor.
  • In the Arthurian Legend-inspired Wild Blood, many of Morgana's mooks are animated armors with Medieval Great Helm for heads. They're among the only enemies that doesn't bleed when hacked, and falls apart after their life is spent.
  • Wrath Unleashed: Spirit Armor in the Dark Armies, the Iron Golem from the Dark Order Armies, and Genies/Djinni in the Light/Dark armies.
  • In XCOM 2, killing an Andromedon will cause an AI in its heavily armored environmental suit to activate and continue fighting. The AI almost exclusively uses its melee attack and trails Hollywood Acid everywhere it goes.

    Visual Novels 
  • Case 2 of Tyrion Cuthbert: Attorney of the Arcane introduces "Arcane Constructs", which are suits of armor animated using artificery. They can perform several requested actions in order, but if one of the requests is impossible they will stop and won't perform the rest of them.

    Web Animation 
  • Mystery Skulls Animated: Lewis has some suits of armor lining his hallways that he sets to chopping off Arthur's head

  • The Nosdai ("stone people") in Aquapunk can sort of be seen like animated suits that the spirits inside are wearing. They do, however, have internal structure.
  • In Girl Genius, after the Castle is repaired, an armor apparently standing as a decoration in the town hall saves Carson and Vanamonde from a clank. It appears that the armor is being controlled by the Castle.
  • Grrl Power: Sapient magical constructs are represented in the Twilight Council by a suit of animate armor named Icon. When the council is attacked he puts himself on Dabbler, who makes him look like a Chainmail Bikini with her Glamour.
  • Hechter from A Modest Destiny is a soul infused in an armor.
  • Pibgorn It's nothing but a shiny bucket of nothing.
  • Suitor Armor is about a woman who starts falling for an enchanted suit of armor that is protecting her, and returns her affection.
  • Tales of the Questor: The dead knight's armor turned out to be a sort of Magitek Powered Armor, but it picked up some of its' owner's personality and can move on its' own. Leading people to think it's haunted.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation has SCP-912, animated SWAT armor that obeys commands related to the duties of a member of SWAT.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Lost Soul", a rogue AI hijacks the highly-advanced Batsuit, and Terry has to resort to using the old Batman's tricks to defeat it.
  • In the Code Lyoko episode "The Girl of the Dreams", XANA's specter takes control of a samurai armor owned by Yumi's family, which she brought to school for a presentation about Japan.
  • Danny Phantom: The Fright Knight is a ghost who doesn't really have a physical body to begin with, but his appearance is that of a suit of Black Knight armor with glowing eyes, and when he's defeated in his debut episode, it's shown crumbling away to reveal nothing inside.
  • In the Gargoyles episode "Avalon", a pair of Animated Armor guard the Sleeping King in the Hollow Hill.
  • In one episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Zummi accidentally casts a spell in his sleep that brings a suit of armor to life, which then begins attacking Gruffi.
    Gruffi: Zummi, get this bucket of bolts off my back!
  • Justice League:
    • In "A Knight of Shadows", Batman and Jason Blood fight off a bunch of animated suits of armor. Batman's being awesome, but getting overwhelmed, so Jason turns into Etrigan and starts tearing them in half and melting them.
    • There's also the Annihilator, first appearing in "Hawk and Dove", a living suit of armor made by Greek gods that is fueled by rage.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The show’s version of the Shredder is a demonic set of armor that apparently gained life after consuming its original wearer. After causing mass destruction, he was broken into pieces by Splinter’s ancestors, who scattered said pieces across the world to prevent Shredder from ever rising again. The Foot Clan is now gathering the pieces and sticking them back together, and because the stories of Shredder have long faded into myth, Splinter and the Turtles are almost completely unprepared for him.
  • The villain in the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode "What a Night for a Knight" seems to be this at first, but it turns out to be a man in disguise, as was almost always the case in that series. Later played straight in the second live-action movie, where his structure is supported by a green, immaterial mist. He's still weak in one spot, though.
  • The Smurfs (1981): Castle Captor has these patrolling inside it in "Lost Smurf".

    Real Life 
  • The Raytheon XOS 2 exoskeleton is intended to be capable of autonomous action when it's finished, with the idea that a soldier can take it off, and send it ahead on remote control to a situation too dangerous for humans.
  • Leonardo da Vinci created a robot using a suit of armor that could sit, stand up, move its arms and raise its visor.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Animated Armour


Malek the Paladin

For failing to prevent Vorador's slaughter of six members the Circle of Nine, the soul of Malek was stripped from his body and bound to his armor, to forever serve as the circle's attack dog.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / AnimatedArmor

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