Follow TV Tropes


Appendage Assimilation

Go To
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 that 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 they might improvise by attaching snakes to their 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 that 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 Shapeshifter 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.


    open/close all folders 
    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 occurrences 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 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's 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.
  • Guyver: Aptom has the ability to regenerate from almost any injury, but he does this by assimilating bio-matter from other people into his body, he can't regenerate from nothing.
  • Inuyasha: Sesshomaru, after losing his arm, can steal the arms of other demons and attach them to the stump. Problem is, he's a ridiculously powerful demon, and every arm he uses becomes useless in the span of a day or two. Naraku offers him a human arm containing a shard of the Shikon jewel, which is sufficiently powerful for Sesshomaru to use, with the added benefit that it allows him to wield Inuyasha's anti-demon sword. Eventually, the arm bursts into flames. He later tries using a dragon's arm, but gives up on the practice after a related near-death experience.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Esidisi in Battle Tendency does this by taking an arm off a corpse to replace one that was severed in a fight, then remarks about how the arm "doesn't fit right".
    • Golden Wind:
      • Sticky Fingers' zippers allows Bruno to do this. It works both to swap arms between people and to replace severed appendages, such as Abbacchio's and Trish's hands.
      • 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 an arm from a fallen comrade to learn his unique skill. It's also implied that 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.
    • Madara and Obito Uchiha are able to restore lost limbs by assimilating Zetsu biomass, and the latter has roughly half of his body comprised of it due to being crushed by boulders.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Unit-01 does it against Zeruel, ripping it open and swallowing its S2 engine to use for herself. 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 her old arm to connect to and attach the new arm, which turns into a perfect replacement of her original one, lack of armour aside. The same example is 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 can 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.
  • 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 that 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.
  • Trinity Blood: The short story version once has Abel regenerate a severed arm by using the mouth on his other hand to eat it.
  • X/1999: In the TV series, Fuuma heals a grievous injury (he got his arm and half his face blown off) by assimilating the last of his Quirky Miniboss Squad.

    Comic Books 
  • In a Supergirl story, Cyborg Superman assimilates the titular heroine's whole body to rebuild his. She gets better.
  • The Terror from Terror Inc. 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.

  • 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. He attaches them by eating the parts, them growing on his body afterwards. A notable scene in the sequel has him somehow doing this to someone after being decapitated, with the poor victims head growing from the stump, before transforming into his own as he turns to glare at the survivors.
  • In Strings (2004), a film 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 as 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 Absolution Gap, the last novel of Alastair Reynolds's 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 didn't get eaten by the predator you were escaping from.
  • 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 left him with two right hands, amongst other things.
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • Forever Knight vampires have this ability. Vachon is seen after a plane crash holding his severed hand in the other hand, but later on, he's completely fine.
  • The Neo Organism from Kamen Rider ZO does this with metal from its surroundings.
  • Kai from Lexx does this often — getting decapitated or bisected is his routine.
  • Star Trek: Voyager has the Vidiians, a race that suffers "the phage", an incurable degenerative disease. They survive by stealing bodyparts from other alien races and replacing their failing organs and other tissues. Their medical sciences are far ahead of Federation standards as a natural result.
  • The villain of one 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 
  • Chronicles of Darkness:
    • 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.
    • 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).
  • 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.
  • This is how regeneration is described in 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons:
    • A Dark Sun adventure from Dungeon 56 features the last troll on Athas, who's 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 the 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, or even undead. There is even a specialized prestige class called the Fleshwarper that focuses on this.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • This is 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.
  • Radament from Diablo II is a mummy whose limbs were replaced with animal parts so he could be more effective at fighting graverobbers. The fact that he's 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).
  • 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.
  • In Elden Ring, Godrick the demigod has grafted so many limbs onto his body that he's turned into a walking mountain of limbs, with several appendages visibly hanging on his shoulders, all to make up for the fact that he was the smallest and weakest of the demigods. He's no longer the smallest, but is still considered the weakest despite it all, and is always on the lookout for more strong limbs to graft. Halfway through his fight, he deliberately hacks off his own arm and grafts a dragon's head into it, which he can breathe fire out of. He's also responsible for creating several Grafted Scions out of what may have been his own children, who have been so twisted by additional limbs and flesh they now vaguely resemble spiders.
  • In The House of the Dead: OVERKILL, Nigel and Sebastian have formed into one.
  • In Kindergarten 2, the protagonist and Felix need Nugget to dig them a hole so they can bury Felix's twin brother Ted alive. Problem is, Nugget chewed off his own arm when he was trapped behind a sewer grate earlier, leaving behind only a bleeding stump. The protagonist is tasked with acquiring a "donation" to replace it, and after you do so, Nugget just sticks it on with little fanfare, now ready for digging. Unlike most examples on this page, this isn't an explicit power he has or anything. Nugget (and to a lesser extent, the game itself) is just weird like that.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • This is how you heal Alex Mercer, your player character — by absorbing people whole. At the very end, he's 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.
    • The sequel has a more explicit example, as this is how James Heller acquires his various arm mutations: by consuming someone who already had them.
  • SEUM: Speedrunners From Hell 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 SIGNALIS, After losing her arm and a big chunk of her torso trying to pry open the Penrose's entry hatch, Elster replaces them with a heavy-duty combat LSTR unit's parts. Also implied to be happening when the player dies, as a running tally keeps track of deaths, represented by more and more of Elster's body diagnosis being replaced. Dying enough to fill the diagram grants the "Ship Of Theseus" achievement.

    Web Animation 
  • Camp Camp: While the cast is telling scary stories around the campfire in "Campfire Tales", Quartermaster chimes in with the story of why he has a Hook Hand. He used to have two, until he tricked a fellow soldier in World War I into getting himself blown up and appropriated his right hand.
    Quartermaster: This new body is coming along nicely. [back to the present] Still looking for lefty.
    [the campers all hide their hands]

  • In Demon's Mirror, Gerda acquires the severed arm of the demon Jahi, replacing her own missing arm.
  • Ariel from Drowtales can do this with her shapeshifting powers:
    • At one point, she converts her leather cape into functional wings.
    • After she loses her left arm thanks to her Ax-Crazy half sister Kalki, Snadhya'rune tells her that thanks to her 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 tries to re-attach her original arm this way after she finds it where Kalki dropped it, but fails because the arm is dead flesh: It's been left detached for too long.
  • In Exiern the immortal mage cuts off a random civilian's hand to replace his own, complete with a bad pun.
  • Midnight's War has the Sarkaturges, who can reattach limbs through dark vampiric rites. One character asks where they get the replacement limbs, but isn't given an answer. Seeing as this is a society where mortals pay their taxes in blood to vampires, it's probably nothing pretty.
  • Unity in Skin Horse is a nano-goo inside 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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 get a giant Shapeshifter Mashup One-Winged Angel form, in BIONICLE: Legends of Metru Nui.
  • 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 off 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's 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.
  • Men in Black: The Series 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 regenerate into complete bodies of the aliens he took them off of and escape from his control.
  • The Simpsons: The episode "Treehouse of Horror XIV" has Professor Frink's father being resurrected, but unhappy with the artificial organs his son made for him, so he steals 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.

    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. Behold, the pomato! It helps that both sides come from the Solanaceae family, better known as the (deadly) nightshades.
  • Due to advances in modern medicine, it is now possible 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 "body transplant" — but this one remains unsuccessful so far. 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):


Quack-Quack's Head

Mr. Cat blows Quack-Quack's head off with a bazooka, and Quack-Quack replaces it with a different one.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AppendageAssimilation

Media sources: