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Animating Artifact

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From solid stone, to flesh and blood, thanks to the rat talisman.

There must have been some magic in the old silk hat they found.
For when they put in on his head, he began to dance around.

This particular brand of Ancient Artifact (brought to you by Trope Co.) has the power to give life.

There are a number of ways on how this works:

  • The artifact is physically attached to the object. The artifact becomes its brain or its heart. More often than not the life it creates requires constant contact with the artifact, becoming its glaringly obvious weak-point. The artifact may contain a soul of a certain someone, which would then animate the object.
  • The artifact simply imbues life to the object, which may or may not require touch. If the artifact is destroyed or broken, the object may either become lifeless, or it may stay alive. If not actually giving life, the artifact may "manually" move the object akin to telekinesis.

Since corpses could count as inanimate objects, these artifacts could be used as a tool for Necromancy. If the user is already living, it could act as an Immortality Inducer, prolonging their souls's tether long after when they should have died. If the object is animate but otherwise non-sentient like a robot or a golem, that the Artifact will compel it to develop a will of its own and to start questioning its existence. At best you'll make a new friend, at worst it will turn on its creators in existential rage.


Sub-Trope of Ancient Artifact, Creating Life, and Animate Inanimate Object. Compare with Heart Drive, Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!, and Soul Jar. Contrast with Artifact of Death, an object that kills the user instead.


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    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Marvel Comics Iron Man has The Hero and Doctor Doom transported to medieval Camelot. While Iron Man becomes the guest of King Arthur, Doom seeks counsel with Morgan La Fey. Morgan is a powerful sorceress, who has a chip from the blade of Excalibur. She uses it to raise a battalion of corpses, all those felled by Excalibur at some point. Doom agrees to command this undead force in a coup d'etat against King Arthur. Notably, once Morgan makes a tactical retreat with this chip, her "army" topples to the ground, deader than ever.

    Films — Animation 
  • Frosty the Snowman has the titular character's old silk hat, for when the children placed it on his head, he began to dance around.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Mind Stone from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the six Infinity Stones. As its name implies, the Mind Stone has various powers involved with the mind. It possesses a core that is comparable to neurons firing in a human brain. While in Loki's Scepter, it grants the wielder the power to control others, and even imbuing them with some level of knowledge while under this thrall, as it "opened the eyes" of Clint Barton and Erik Selvig, showing them visions and granting them special knowledge they can use. On its own, it seems to be able to imbue sentience onto artificial intelligence, two notable examples being Ultron and Vision.
  • The Tablet of Akhmenrah from Night at the Museum is an ancient Egyptian tablet that brings to life the various exhibits at the New York American Museum of Natural History.
  • The Allspark from Transformers gave life and sapience to both the Autobots and the Decepticons, but was lost during a battle between the two factions. It just happens to be on Earth, where efforts to keep it away from Megatron inadvertently bring the Allspark near a vending machine, then an Xbox game console. Both inert devices suddenly sprout limbs and blades and start attacking people.
  • The 1984 film Supergirl has a device called the Omegahedron, which sustains some survivors of Krypton's destruction in a pocket dimension. Zaltar appropriates it to show off, and Kara uses it to create an artificial dragonfly. Much later, the villain gets hold of it, and creates a golum from shadows to oppose Supergirl.
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider visits an ancient temple, seeking the key to the Wheel of Time. Part of the elaborate idol mechanism involves a pendulum breaking an orb filled with animating fluid that brings various guardian statues to life. These statues then go after Lara and her party.

    Live-Action TV 
  • After Shadow wins mad Sweeney's lucky coin in a bar-fight in American Gods (2017), Shadows discards it on his wife Laura's grave. The coin imbeds itself into her corpse and winds up bringing her back to life, albeit as a Type I zombie on the Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration.

  • As referenced in the quotes, Frosty the Snowman was brought to life by an old silk hat. However, being made of snow, he has to leave when the weather turns warm.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Jewish folklore, a golem is animated by writing the name of God on a piece of paper and putting the paper in the golem's mouth or on its forehead.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Karn from Magic: The Gathering is a silver golem who was created by Urza and Barrin as a sentient being capable of feel emotions and decide on his own destiny. He also has the power to animate other artifacts like him (he's considerated a Legendary Artifact Creature in-game), as seen in "Karn, Silver Golem" card, that allows the player to convert its artifacts into artifact creatures until the end of the turn.

  • BIONICLE: The first time the Ignika used its power was cursing a Great Being so that inanimate objects around him come to life and cry out their needs to him, with the unfortunate effect of being permanent.
  • In Transformers: BotBots, a cloud of energon covering a mall that was closed for the night ended up turning the products of the mall, such as food, sports equipment, and toys, into tiny Transformers.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Transformers BotBots - Origins

The origin story of how the BotBots were created.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / AnimatingArtifact