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Appendage Assimilation

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Go fetch me a better arm. This one is moldy.

"I simply want your flesh."
Castillo, House of the Dead

The nice thing about the Healing Factor is it's capable of bringing characters back whole From a Single Cell, even with exactly their previous hairstyle! It's usually really cool to watch too, as entire limbs grow back in gorgeous CGI (or not). Usually this is helped along with liberal use of Shapeshifter Baggage to avoid that pesky "conservation of mass" physics insists is accurate. However, sometimes physics teams up with Horror and Squick and puts its foot down on these shenanigans... or rather, puts its foot 'on'.

A character who has Appendage Assimilation can regenerate from just about any wound but with one caveat: he has to attach a working limb to that stump or consume an equal amount of bio-mass for the Healing Factor to work. So you'll have this character get torn and rent to pieces, then pull themselves together and keep fighting (and/or bantering) as if nothing had happened. Usually they never die to blood loss (which makes sense, as presumably the same power on a smaller scale works to keep their blood in their veins), and any lost limbs (head included) will still function and be reattachable, if not autonomous and capable of fighting.


The root of this power varies, it may be because as The Virus, they can "assimilate" any and all organic matter into themselves regardless of compatibility (so he might improvise by attaching snakes to his arm stump). Or they might have powerful Nanomachines that can do just about anything provided enough biomass. Magical or demonic powers of some kind are also popular.

As has been mentioned ad nauseam (pun intended), this power is not pretty to look at. Disturbingly, this can be taken even further though by having foreign limbs assimilate imperfectly. The skin won't match, the "seams" will look like burn wounds, mismatched limbs sizes are common and if the character had to make do with two left feet, well he can write off any dance competitions for a long while.The result of all this reattaching will be they look like a gooey Frankenstein's Monster, though some have enough healing factor that they can make new limbs look like they're natural... err, that is to say, natural to their body. Others might decide to forgo using human limbs and graft whatever is 'handy', eventually resulting in a Shape Shifter Mashup.


To really freak out viewers and their enemies, they might be picky about whose limb(s) they use, like using limbs of a known powerful person or creature, or even use another character's face this way. Expect them to do a bit of Showing Off the New Body just to rub it in. Compare Partial Transformation and Cannibalism Superpower.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Blade of the Immortal: Manji, the immortal owner of the titular blade. There's a whole story arc devoted to this trope, including a mad scientist that's trying to copy Manji's immortality onto other people by switching his limbs with others. Frequent occurances of Body Horror and Theyd Cut You Up ensue.
  • In the first episode of Bubblegum Crisis, a Boomer gets its arm blown off by a police mini-copter's gatling gun. In response, it leaps onto the chopper, destroys it, and takes the gatling to replace the missing arm.
  • Buso Renkin: During their fight at the end of the L.X.E. arc, the awakened Victor and a Victorised Kazuki cut off an each other's arms and put them on themselves. Despite the difference in size between the two, the alchemical nature of their bodies means that their new arms change to match their physique and skin colour so that it is impossible to tell the difference.
  • Claymore: This is the only reliable Healing Factor that "Attack-type" Claymores have. They can regenerate complete limbs, but it takes months and the new limb will be vastly weaker than the original one, so if a severed limb is destroyed, they've lost it permanently. "Defense-type" Claymores, however, have the full Healing Factor and can completely regenerate limbs in very short order with no loss of limb strength.
  • Franken Fran: There is a great deal of mix-and-match surgery going on; so much so that it practically drives the plot.
  • Inuyasha: Sesshomaru, after losing his arm, could steal the arms of other demons and attach them to the stump. Problem was, he's a ridiculously powerful demon, and every arm he used became useless in the span of a day or two. Naraku offered him a human arm containing a shard of the Shikon jewel, which was sufficiently powerful for Sesshomaru to use, with the added benefit that it allowed him to wield Inuyasha's anti-demon sword. Eventually, the arm burst into flames. He later tried using a dragon's arm, but gave up on the practice after a related near-death experience.
  • Esidisi in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency did this by taking an arm off a corpse to replace one that was severed in a fight, then remarked about how the arm "didn't fit right".
    • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo, Sticky Fingers' zippers allows Bruno to do this. It both works to swap arms between people and replace severed appendages, such as Abbacchio's and Trish's hands.
    • Also from Vento Aureo, Giorno's Stand lets him turn non-living material into living tissue, even animals and fruit. This extends to him being able to turn objects into new parts and flesh for him and his friends, such as when he loses his hand and turns his brooch into a new one.
  • Katanagatari: Houou Maniwa demonstrates assimilating a arm from a fallen comrade to learn he unique skill. It's also implied he assimilated Emonzaemon's Face.
  • Mermaid Saga:
    • One of the creepier moments is seeing someone graft someone else's arm or leg onto her own body.
    • Probably the creepiest is the woman who switches her face through this trope. It's completely voluntary too - she cuts off one face without anaesthetic to disguise herself with the new face - then later switches them back again.
  • Naruto: Juugo saves Sasuke's life by using his shapeshifting ability to turn a large chunk of his body mass into an improvised skin graft. However, this causes him to lose biomass and revert to the appearance of a teenager. In the next battle he gets injured himself and heals his injury by stabbing an already fallen soldier with a stinger and absorbing his flesh, restoring his appearance (and voice intonation) back to that of a young man.
  • One Piece: Trafalgar Law has the ability to do this to other people (and himself), though it's not merely limited to living flesh. In a truly game-breaking example of this trope, he can slice anything from a distance with his sword and warp their fragments wherever he wishes, his only limitation being he can only warp things a certain distance. In his mischievous nature, he has inserted a second torso between a man's torso and his legs, stuck a pair of (human) legs onto a dragon's back, and cut someone up into roughly twenty pieces and put each chunk on a metal railing.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Unit-01 does it against Zeruel, ripping it open and swallowing it's S2 engine to use for itself. She also rips off the angel's right arm (tendril?) to make herself a new left one, with the Unit's flesh bursting out from the stump of its old arm to connect to and attach the new arm.
    • Averted in Rebuild: Instead, Unit-01 replaces its missing arm with a sort of prosthesis made out of its own AT field.
  • Ninja Scroll
    • In the original film, the Big Bad could re-attach severed limbs and even his head with ease.
    • One of the villains in Ninja Scroll: The Series repairs herself through improvised surgery, going as far as using animal body parts.
  • Trinity Blood: The short story version once had Abel regenerate a severed arm, by using the mouth on his other hand to eat it.
  • X1999: In the TV series, Fuuma heals his grievous injury (he got his arm and half his face blown off) by assimilating the last of his Quirky Miniboss Squad.

    Comic Books 
  • From Marvel Comics, the Terror assimilates all sorts of body parts. It's a necessity, since his body and any biomass he assimilates into it rapidly rot. In the "League of Losers" storyline, he even gets Arana's arm after she dies.
  • In a Supergirl story, Cyborg Superman assimilates the titular heroine’s whole body to rebuild his (She gets better).

  • Castillo, a former priest and the main villain in the Uwe Boll take on House of the Dead is stitched together from stolen bodyparts.
  • The monster in Jeepers Creepers uses parts from his victims to keep himself alive.
  • In Strings (2004), set in a world of marionettes, the wealthy take replacements for their damaged limbs from slaves. As long as the titular strings are still connected to the limb it functions normally. The main villain has had his whole body, except for his head and one arm, replaced.
  • In Virtuosity, Sid 6.7 is an android made of animated glass who can regenerate from any injury so long as he can draw enough glass to restore the missing material. We occasionally see Sid pulling glass from windows to regrow limbs and even chewing on broken safety glass to heal gunshots.

  • In the last novel of Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space trilogy, we learn about the Scuttlers, a long-dead intelligent species of insect-like creatures who had this ability—and used it as part of their culture. A socially-successful Scuttler had a unique set of appendages from trading them with others. Scientists who believe it was a natural ability (rather than the result of genetic manipulation) theorize that the Scuttlers evolved in the equivalent of a crowded lobster tank—an environment so hostile that it was advantageous not just to be able to drop limbs, but to reattach them if for some reason they don't get eaten by the predator you were escaping from.
  • The Igors in Discworld do this for a living. At least one Igor in Ankh-Morpork has taken up veterinary surgery, meaning that a stolen horse whose markings are too distinctive for resale may reappear on the market with a different set of legs.
  • A humorous variation takes place in the space opera parody Bill the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison: As the sole survivor of a space battle the titular hero was reassembled using the random bits left lying around, which leaves him with two right hands, amongst other things.
  • In The Dresden Files the "super-ghouls" appear to flow back together no matter how badly they've been damaged. In Changes Susan severs the Red King's hand (with a holy sword no less), and the thing still crawls back up his leg and reattaches itself to his arm.
  • When Nick O'Donohoe's Wyr go from human to wolf or vice versa, parts (such as fingers and tails) fall off. The Wyr then eat their own shed appendages to conserve biomass.
  • In The Vampire Chronicles, vampires can reattach severed limbs, and Maharet, who was already blind when Khayman turned her, inserts human eyes into her sockets so she can see. Of course, those inferior human eyes sometimes need replacing...

    Live Action TV 
  • Kai from Lexx does this often — getting decapitated or bisected is his routine.
  • Star Trek: Voyager have the Vidiians, a race that suffers 'the phage', an inccurable degenerative disease. They survive by stealing bodyparts from other alien races and replacing their failing organs and other tissues. Their medical sciences are far in advance of federation standards as a natural result.
  • The Neo Organism from Kamen Rider ZO does this with metal from its surroundings.
  • Forever Knight vampires have this ability. Vachon is seen after the plane crash that killed another main character holding his severed hand in the other hand, but later on, he's completely fine.
  • A villain in an episode of Supernatural is a doctor who has discovered a scientific method for achieving immortality. Part of this process is replacing any worn out body parts with what he takes from his victims. In fact, he nearly takes out Sam's eyeball with an ice cream scoop.

    Other Sites 

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is how regeneration is described in 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons.
    • A Dark Sun adventure from Dungeon 56 featured the last troll on Athas, who'd salvaged the severed limbs and heads of his necromantically-slain fellows and grafted them onto himself. The issue's cover art resembles a troll version of a Vedic deity.
    • The Heroes of Horror supplement contains a monster called a cadaver golem, the result of an accident in the creation of a flesh golem. It is highly intelligent (golems are usually mindless) and has the ability to swap out any of its body parts for those of other creatures, even its brain (which it can use to gain the learned skills of the victim).
    • The artifacts the Hand and Eye of Vecna work this way. In order to use them, the character must remove his or her own eye and hand and replace them with Vecna's.
      • This went on to spawn the Head of Vecna, which started in a homebrew game and went on to become official lore in two quests. The short version is that players were tricked by a rival group of players into thinking that they had found the Head of Vecna (really a normal skull), and when they tried to invoke this trope, they died deserved deaths.
    • Grafts are this for the players, allowing them to switch out or add limbs, eyes, wings, organs or other body parts from different monsters, such as dragons, beholders, fiends, constructs, elementals and even undead. There is even a specialized prestige class called the Fleshwarper that focuses on this.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Though this is a case of one being foisting this onto another, the Goblin Chirurgeon apparently can do this with whatever he happens to have at hand.
  • Orks in the fluff of Warhammer 40,000 can assimilate any orkish body part as long as they have some means of attaching it (duct tape, staples, welding apparatus, etc). They can even regenerate from having their head cut off and sewed/stitched/stapled/welded/taped back on... And it doesn't even have to be their own body the head is reattached to.
  • An optional Bestowment for Frankenstein characters in Promethean: The Created is "Spare Parts", which lets you heal your wounds and readjust your Physical Traits by adding, subtracting, or replacing bits of yourself. The sample character with the Bestowment is a Promethean nun who doesn't quite understand that "If your eye offend thee, pluck it out" wasn't meant to be taken literally.
  • The The Dark Eye source book about undead creatures mentions a zombie severing his arm and sewing it onto a higher ranking zombie, who lost his, during battle.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: This is how the Flesh Of My Flesh Caligo works. A Darkling with this Caligo can heal its wounds either by eating human flesh and pushing it through their body to where it's needed or by just cutting off an appendage or chunk of flesh and pressing it to the wound. The flesh must be from a human, and has to be at least fresh enough to eat (which can be surprisingly old if the Darkling also has the Roteater Umbrum).

    Video Games 
  • In Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Melchiah has to do this constantly: He was raised with the smallest part of Kain's vampiric gift, and so retained much of his human weakness, including his constantly rotting body, which he has had to remedy by flaying and grafting human flesh onto himself, becoming a giant monster made of human bodies in the process.
  • This is how you heal your player character in [PROTOTYPE] - by absorbing people whole.
    • At the very end Mercer is blown up by a nuke. A crow tries to eat a random piece of flesh... which begins eating the crow. This apparently is enough for Alex to start rebuilding himself.
    • More explicit in the sequel. This is how James Heller acquires his various arm mutations, by consuming someone who already had them.
  • In the prologue of Shadow Hearts, Yuri gets his arm torn off. He then calmly reattaches it. This is the only time in the entire game where he displays any kind of Healing Factor. A popular theory states that this is the game compensating for its player characters fighting all sorts of nightmarish creatures; all of the characters you meet have this ability, but they can only do it a number of times equal to their hit points.
  • Radament from Diablo II is a mummy whose limbs were replaced with animal parts so he can be more effective at fighting graverobbers. The fact that he started collecting and assimilating human limbs to reconstruct his body is the first sign that something has gone very wrong in the eastern deserts (i.e. Baal has been released).
  • Planescape: Torment has the protagonist the Nameless One equipped with a Healing Factor. He doesn't need to do this, but when confronted with a finger (most likely his) with a ring on it that can't be removed from the finger, you get the option to bite off your own and plant the old one on the stump.
  • In The House of the Dead: OVERKILL Nigel and Sebastian have formed into one.
  • This was one of Cyborg Justice's schticks, along with having obtuse controller inputs. You can grind, saw, and pull parts off enemy cyborgs and claim them for your own. A cyborg consists of a body core, a set of legs, and two arms, and only the core is irreplaceable (since it contains your brain and power supply); it's not impossible to go into a level with one set of parts, then end that level with a completely different arrangement of limbs.
  • In SEUM: Speedrunners From Hell, the game begins with Marty (a beer-chugging heavy metal fan) getting invaded by Satan, who cuts off his arm and steals his beer. In retaliation, Marty cuts off Satan's arm as well, attaches it where the old one was, and then goes after the jerk.
  • In Gigantic, The Margrave obtained his large, demonic arm after losing his regular one in a fight with a demon, and grafting the Demon's arm in its place.
  • 9S from NieR: Automata repairs himself with the arm of a 2B unit he killed in a Despair Event Horizon induced Freak Out after an explosion destroys his arm. It really sells just how far gone he is by that point.

    Web Comics 
  • Unity in Skin Horse is a stitched-together zombie creature who is capable of reattaching her limbs if they become detached, and also of doing the same trick with limbs that are not hers: there's a fight scene where one of her hands is mauled by a werewolf, so she replaces it from one of the corpses lying about. One of the werewolf corpses.
    • Unity is actually a nano-goo inside the stitched-together zombie. In one storyline the goo is fed to other animals and she can control them for a time as if it was her own body, until the animal barfs her up.
  • In Exiern the immortal mage cuts off a random civilian's hand to replace his own, complete with a bad pun.
  • Jigsaw from the superhero webcomic Zodiac is an interesting example, as he doesn't depend on this trope for survival. He grafts various body parts onto his body because he wants to.
  • In Unsounded, the undead Duane can replace damaged body parts with pieces from corpses, since his soul is bound to a human skeleton — not necessarily his own. Murkoph might have the same ability.
  • After Ariel from Drowtales loses her left arm thanks to her Ax-Crazy half sister Kalki Snadhya'rune tells her that thanks to Ariel's shapeshifting powers she's capable of doing this with the arm of another person related to her, and drags out a captured comrade to use as an unwilling "donor". Ariel however rejects using another soldier like this but later pays Kalki back for the injury by stealing her arm. She also tried to re-attach her original arm this way after she found it where Kalki had dropped it, but failed because the arm was dead flesh: It had been left detached for too long.
  • In Demon's Mirror, Gerda acquires the severed arm of the demon Jahi, replacing her own missing arm.

    Web Original 
  • In Void Domain, it's relatively simple to replace a lost body part with a graft from a demon: there are No Biochemical Barriers and the transplanted piece eventually resizes to fit the recipient. Eva Spencer gets replacement eyes and limbs, while Devon replaces a lost arm with a tentacle after unsuccessfully looking for a more conventional graft. Getting the pieces off the demon tends to be the tricky part.

    Western Animation 
  • The Makuta does this- absorbing Nidhiki, Krekka and Nihvawk in order to become a giant Shapeshifter Mashup One-Winged Angel form in BIONICLE: Legends of Metru Nui.
  • Men in Black has Alpha AKA Agent A. K's former mentor who got greedy with alien technology and now uses it to integrate alien body parts into his body. In one of his appearances this backfires on him when he absorbs the ability of an alien that can regenerate From a Single Cell and thus all the alien parts he absorbed start regenerating into complete bodies of the aliens he took them off of and escaping from his control.
  • In The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XIV has Frink's father being resurrected but unhappy with the artificial organs his son made for him, so he steal everyone else's. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Transformers: Prime: Megatron trades in his cannon/sword arm for an arm harvested from the corpse of a Prime, so he can wield artifacts of the Thirteen Primes.
  • The Bump in the Night episode "Farewell, Two Arms" has Molly replacing all of her limbs with more powerful appliances, threatening to replace her head with Mr. Bumpy's.
    • In a twist, the discarded parts are collected up and reassembled into the original Molly, while the "upgraded" version tries and fails to pass herself as the original to her owner and is subsequently dismantled, returning things to the status quo.
  • Similar to the Bump in the Night example above, an episode of Futurama has Hermes upgrading his entire body to be roboticized until he decides to replace his brain with a robot's. Zoidberg, who had been using Hermes' human parts for a ventriloquism act, puts the brain inside the dummy, restoring the original Hermes.
  • Quack Quack the indestructible duck from Kaeloo can apparently do this. In one episode, after his head is blown off with a bazooka, he simply pulls out another head from a suitcase and puts it on.

    Real Life 
  • Some species of nudibranch can assimilate the intact stinging cells (nematocysts) of the siphonophores they eat. The stinging cells remain fully functional.
  • As plants lack any immune system, grafting parts of different plants (even of different species) to one another is standard horticultural practice, and has helped give rise to many familiar varieties of plants found nowadays. Ornamental roses or cacti are commonly assembled this way, with hardy rootstock attached to a more-fragile upper stalk. Certain fruits such as avocados are propagated entirely from high-quality branches grafted onto less-marketable, but healthier, trees.
  • Due to advances in modern medicine, it is now possible to to transplant the arms and hands of another person onto an amputee. However, it has been noted that some transplants fail when the recipient realizes that their new hands came from a dead person.
    • Theoretical next steps for this practice, which have been proven functional with dogs and other animals, are transplantations of heads, either as a second head or replacing the original one. The next step after that would be to only transplant the brain - a 'full body transplant' - but this one remains unsuccessful so far.
      • Although the latter practice would be more properly called "body transplant", since personality resides in the brain and would not magically change to that of another person just because of whose organs are being used. An eerie prospect for this is the idea that the family of the donor body would potentially have to live with the idea that the body of their loved one is Back from the Dead, but the brain, and by extension, the person, inside the body's head is not the same as the one that was originally inside it. The recipient would be well within their rights to take their new body and go about their life however they please, including refusing to contact the donor's family.


Video Example(s):


Two rights isn't right

Zombina attaches a new arm to Miia's horror.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / AppendageAssimilation

Media sources:

Main / AppendageAssimilation