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Anthropomorphized Anatomy

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If they bleed, do they bleed regular blood, or even more tiny people?
Timmy: [giving his report on the human body] And so, I learned that the small intestine is actually a high speed water ride. Emotions are controlled by little people in chairs and when you're mean, your heart is a big black hole that sucks up everything!
Crocker: F!

The human body is one of the most intricately-functioning creations we know about. The cells, tissues, and organs of our body all serve their job, all working towards the common cause of sustaining your life. There are over 200 different types of cells, and 79 types of organs, all with their own unique set of tasks in this mission. So, logically, when depicting these in fiction, what is the best way to portray them individually?

Bring them to life!

This trope is when the inside of the body meets Cast of Personifications. Welcome, to The Human Body!

Walk along the blood vessel streets, on your way from the Stomach Facility to the Office of the Heart. While there, take a look at those hard-working Cardiomyocyte managers, doing their tasks of sending Red Blood Cells (and their deliveries) around the body. Oh no, is that a virus attacking?! Thank God those White Blood Cell police officers are here to fight them off!

This trope is not to be confused with "Fantastic Voyage" Plot, although the two are not mutually exclusive. While a "Fantastic Voyage" Plot involves any case of ordinary people travelling into and around a body, it only crosses over into this trope when they go from dealing with faceless giant white blobs to dealing with border patrol officers in the Membrane.

The degree of individuality in personification can vary — sometimes it's sentient cells, sometimes it's sentient organs, sometimes it's entire sentient systems — but the idea is the same.

Often paired with Monstrous Germs, Seeker White Blood Cells, and Brain with a Manual Control.

Anytime you see Organ Autonomy, you can always expect it to either be paired with this or Animate Body Parts, depending on if the individually-sentient organs and cells are depicted as humanoids or... you know, actual organs and cells. If an ordinary person shrinks down, enters the body, and can interact with these personifications, it crosses over with "Fantastic Voyage" Plot. If the personification is restricted to the thoughts of the brain and emotions, then that is Ghost in the Machine. Sperm as People is a subtrope.


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  • Presenting: The Theatre of the Eye, Sega (or their advertising firm at the time)'s best attempt at selling a confused public on their Saturn console.

    Anime & Manga 


    Comic Books 
  • Suske en Wiske: In "De Slimme Slapjanus",when Suske, Wiske and Lambik have to go on a "Fantastic Voyage" Plot in Jerom's body, professor Barabas gives them special goggles that allow them to see the bloodcells, bacteria and virusses as humanoid creatures, and thus interact with them.
  • The UK Wicked Willie comic books are about a man's anthropomorphic penis.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Fight Club, the narrator and Tyler discover a series of articles about human organs written from the perspective of the organs in first-person. "I am Jack's lungs."

  • The Stomach and Members by Jean de La Fontaine is a pro-royalty fable that has individual organs decide that they've had enough of doing all the work just so the stomach can fill itself. They go on strike, and soon discover that a stomach not getting food is bad for the entire body.
  • Tommyland, the autobiography of Tommy Lee, opens with a dialogue between Tommy and his penis. And the appendage has some insertions throughout the book. This conversation is even translated in live-action on the series Pam & Tommy.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Medium episode "Blood on the Tracks" opened with a pair of Neurons (played by Hunter Seagroves and Logan Lipton) being overwhelmed by Bad Cells (all played by Thomas Blake, Jr).
  • At one point briefly in 1996, Nickelodeon began to air a series of interstitial bumpers between shows titled Inside Eddie Johnson, which served as fairly low budget PSAs depicting (very loosely) the inner workings of the human body of a school-aged boy named Eddie Johnson, mainly characterized by his poor eating habits among a handful of other lessons he was indirectly taught. Bizarrely enough, these bumpers featured pretty noteworthy actors such as Susan Sarandon playing roles.

    Print Media 
  • A book by illustrator Stephen Biesty showing cross-sections of the human body portrays cells as tiny human workers similar to Cells at Work (though it was published in the 90s).
  • The Fight Club example above is based on a series of real articles in Readers Digest with titles like "I am Joe's Heart". ("I am John's Heart" in the UK editions for some reason.)

  • Me and My Dick takes place in a universe where people can talk to their anthropomorphized genitals (who are played by live actors, with only a few costume details indicating what they are). An anthropomorphic heart also makes an appearance, implying that there are more anthropomorphic body parts.

    Theme Parks 
  • Cranium Command, a show in Epcot's Wonders of Life pavilion, centered around a clumsy "Cranium Commando" soldier given the task of controlling a 12-year-old boy from the control center that is his brain. To aid him in this task, there are several organs that appear on screens to give advice and make demands—these range from the hungry Stomach, the panicky Bladder, and the overreacting Adrenal Gland.

    Video Games 
  • The Elite Beat Agents level "La La" goes inside the body of a sick track runner. There, we see a white blood cell depicted as a sexy nurse fighting off an army of demons (viruses) with a giant hypodermic needle. You have to dance to encourage her to succeed. Yeah, it's one of those games.
  • Marco and the Galaxy Dragon has the titular heroines going inside of a Nudo to stop it from swallowing the Earth at one point. They encounter many sentient cells and germs as they travel through the creature’s body, most of which sport ID tags. The one exception, a white blood cell, turns out to be a parasite that was controlling the Nudo from within.
  • This is a key game mechanic in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. As the title implies, Mario and Luigi end up shrinking down and getting trapped inside Bowser, and end up assisting him on various adventures by traveling to different areas of his body. Some of those areas are populated by various sentient creatures that resemble parts of animal anatomy. For example, the Flab Zone (which develops when the Koopa king temporarily becomes obese) is run by Princess Lipid, a high-speaking blob of fat; the boss of that region is the Kretin, a monstrous keratin molecule. Other characters include the Emoglobins (a group of proteins that function as Mr. Exposition) and the Memory Neuron (a floating ball of electricity that guards Bowser's precious memories).

  • The race of Gestaltians from Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger are literally built of this trope, as they are symbiotic conglomerates of living organ systems - nervous, musculoskeletal, digestive, circulatory, etc - that bud off of sessile marine polyps and join together into a merged, sentient humanoid. On their own, these systems vary in how anthropomorphized they are, although all of them retain mobility in water at least.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur:
    • One episode opens on anthropomorphic versions of Arthur's heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, and kidneys wondering where the brain is.
    • Another episode ("It's a No-Brainer") shows Buster's and Brain's brains as gray blobby figures with arms and legs sitting on an office chair inside a room in their skulls.
  • In one episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy travels inside his babysitter Vickey to learn about the human body for his report, only to find, among other things, a waterslide digestive system that is managed by cells, a computer office in the brain (where he finds the deserted cubicle of Kindness), a black hole where the heart should be, and... Kidney World (founded by none other than Walt Kidney, of course).
  • Family Guy: Stewie discovers his parents want to have another child and, fearing his status as the baby of the family, shrinks himself down to destroy all of Peter's sperm. While it starts out as a standard "Fantastic Voyage" Plot, it becomes this when he enters a testicle to discover that sperm cells are actually sperm-shaped fighter jets piloted by the potential children.
  • Il était une fois... la Vie (Once Upon a Time... Life) is an Edutainment cartoon focusing on the human body that depicts various cells and structures as little humanoids working inside the human body, which is itself still depicted as being made up of bone and flesh. The brain is a high-tech command center, red blood cells are stout red humanoids who carry oxygen bubbles in pouches on their backs, white blood cells are security forces of various sorts, nerve cells are swift-running messengers, bacteria are orc-like invaders, viruses are sneaky, green-and-yellow wormlike critters, and so on.
  • Ozzy & Drix, being the Spin-Off To Osmosis Jones (see Film, above), continues in the same vein of depicting the body as a bustling city. Only, rather than taking place in the same washed-up human as in the film, a mosquito bite causes both main characters to be taken out of their human to a teenage boy named Hectornote  The show then follows both Jones and Drix as they grow accustomed to life in a teenager's body, allowing for Edutainment without it interrupting the flow of the show.
  • Long before Osmosis Jones, ABC television ran a Public Service Announcement series called Time for Timer, featuring a character representing the sense of time in the human body (time to eat, sleep, etc.). Timer appeared in two movies before, but the public service announcements are much more well-known now.
  • The Oh Yeah! Cartoons short "Microcops" stars a robot-like antibody cop chasing a virus bug inside a man's body. The brain is a command and control center, the bowels is a sewer, and the heart is a motor. The cop also uses an elevator system to get to the brain immediately (aka, the spinal chord).


Video Example(s):


Downtown Frank

White blood cell Osmosis "Ozzy" Jones pursues some bacteria through the City Frank.

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Main / AnthropomorphizedAnatomy

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