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Assimilation Backfire

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Paris: Serron! He's gone! You sacrificed Serron!
Cybe: We've absorbed him into our collective.
Iki Piki: Yes, remember what he said? As a hive mind, all the Cybe acquire his characteristics simultaneously.
Paris: He'll destroy us all!
Cybe: Wait...I'm getting a message from our ship.
Cybe: All the Cybe are now arguing and trying to push one another out the airlocks...

The Assimilator is terrifying because of its virus-like ability to absorb people's body and mind into itself, creating a threat that can spread faster than a Zombie Apocalypse. However, The Assimilator's voracious and indiscriminate appetite may lead to it eating someone who proves Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth. To keep the food metaphor, this person may well cause severe indigestion as they fight from the inside and take control back from the Assimilator, even to the point of usurping the title of Hive Queen.


Alternately, if You Are Who You Eat lets the Power Parasite steal another's powers (or even just regular Power Copying or cloning), then their theft may go horribly right when their Weaksauce Weakness is also stolen and allows enemies an easy way to defeat it. To make matters worse, the Assimilator probably has no idea it inherited the weakness or how to minimize it or stop it being exploited. Additionally, just having the power of another character does not grant the knowledge or skill to use it.

Both types aren't limited to just beings. Certain inanimate objects, such as glass, can be absorbed to still apply for this trope.

Compare No-Sell, where the attempted assimilation just plain fails, and Feed It a Bomb, where a bomb is absorbed. A kind of Phlebotinum Rebel. This could also be said to be what happens when you fail to hijack Cthulhu. See also Tricking the Shapeshifter and Copied the Morals, Too.


Spoilers ahead!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Subverted when the Vandenreich develops a method to steal Bankais. But Urahara develops a method to temporarily hollowfy Shinigami souls, so the Quincies get poisoned and the Bankais come back to their owners. Unfortunately, the Bankais were Power Limiters to the Quincies, preventing them to activate Quincy Vollständing. Now the stolen Bankais are back, the Sternenritters can fight the Shinigamis with their full power.
    • This also happens twice to people who try assimilating Nemu. First, Szayelapporo uses her body to regenerate himself after dying to Mayuri, but in doing so absorbed a drug that Mayuri placed in her, which causes And I Must Scream (unless properly diluted). Second, Pernida absorbs her body, which comes with a powerful Healing Factor, but doesn't get her brain, which served to control said Healing Factor and tamp it down to manageable levels. The out-of-control cell growth turned Pernida into a mass of cancer cells.
  • Demon Lord Dante: The eponymous Sealed Evil in a Can manages to lure protagonist Ryou Utsugi into freeing it, then eats him alive. However, Ryou's latent psychic abilities prove too strong and his mind ends up taking over Dante's body. This is not a clean transfer, as Ryou is left with a lot of Dante's violent impulses, and struggles to remind himself of who he really is. Subverted: Ryou is Dante, who sent his spirit into the future to free himself, and eventually regains his memories.
  • In Devilman, any human who retains his/her reason and pure heart can reverse Demonic Possession, granting them access to the demon's powers. The main character pulled this off on Amon, one of Hell's most powerful residents, becoming the eponymous Devilman.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Super Buu tries to absorb Vegetto, but the absorption fails and Vegetto (now split into Vegeta and Goku) releases all the victims Buu had absorbed previously.
    • While Kid Buu absorbing the Southern Supreme Kai made him more powerful, turning him from Kid Buu into Buff Buu, his absorption of the Grand Supreme Kai turned him into Fat Buu. This made him less dangerous because he was something other than pure evil (having received the innocence of the Grand Supreme Kai), thus he doesn't immediately kill as many people as possible and pulls a Heel–Face Turn before his evil half (aptly but not very creatively named Evil Buu) takes back over.
    • Evil Buu's absorption of the good Buu comes back to bite the resulting Super Buu several times, as the good Buu's memories of his friendship with Mr. Satan prevent Super Buu from killing his former friend, and he is convinced to wait for Goten and Trunks to prepare for their fight with him when asked to do so by Mr. Satan's daughter Videl.
      • Two examples from the Budokai video game series; in the first Budokai game, there's a What-If scenario where Cell accidentally absorbs Krillin instead of Android 18, leading to a severely weakened Cell being defeated by Yamcha and Tien. In the second Budokai game, Buu's absorption move randomly selects a character to absorb out of Gohan, Gotenks, Vegeta, Cell, Frieza, or Yamcha and Tien together. While the other absorptions make Buu stronger, the last one makes him weaker.
    • Contemplated in the fight against Buu, where Goku wondered if he should fuse with Mr. Satan. He decides it would probably make him weaker, but is desperate enough to try it before Vegeta shows up. The second Budokai game likewise has this fusion option as a playable character.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, both the Commeson and Merged Zamasu suffer from this. When the Commeson assimilates Vegeta to create Copy-Vegeta, Copy-Vegeta inherits the original's strong will and goes rogue. And because Merged Zamasu is the permanent fusion of the immortal Future Zamasu and the mortal Goku Black, his immortality is flawed and his body becomes unstable, leading to his downfall.
  • Implied at the end of FLCL. After Naota and Canti are assimilated into the Medica Mechanica device to iron out the planet, they soon break out again.... taking Atomsk with them, then promptly wreck the weapon.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • After Pride absorbs Kimblee, he is finally defeated by Ed Elric due to Kimblee fighting him from the inside. Kimblee's prexisting homicidal insanity preventing him from going mad like the rest of the screaming souls within Pride's Philosopher's Stone.
    • At the end of the series, the Big Bad Father absorbs his Anti-Hero homunculus Greed, and his Ultimate Shield power with it. Having been previously defeated by Edward Elric, who figured out his extreme defensive abilities are merely carbon-based, Greed decides to turn his powers the other direction and turn Father's body into pathetic frail graphite, allowing the heroes to K.O. Father for good.
    • At one point Envy is reduced to a small slug-like creature, later he runs into some of Father's zombie-like creatures and one of them swallows him. A second later it suddenly turns on one of the others and bites it then starts to merge with it and attacks and absorbs all the other zombies in the room, before the whole mess transforms into Envy's Shapeshifter Default Form.
    • An omake portrayed an alternate version of Pride absorbing Gluttony, where doing so made Pride chubby and ridiculous-looking.
  • In Hellsing, this is how Alucard is ultimately defeated. During the final battle with Walter, Alucard absorbs the souls of every one of the dead in London after Anderson destroyed his familiars. Unfortunately for him, Schrodinger, who had been created by Millennium for this exact purpose, killed himself and cast himself into the ocean of blood that Alucard was absorbing. Schrodinger's prime trait was an ability to exist as long as he could recognize himself, and once absorbed and integrated into Alucard's three million souls, Schrodinger could recognize himself no longer and disappeared along with Alucard. Alucard was only able to bring himself back by killing each and every one of the three million souls he had absorbed with the exception of Schrodinger, which took him thirty long years.
  • In Inuyasha, this is how Moryomaru and the Infant are defeated by Naraku. Generally speaking, doing this to Naraku's never a good idea.
    • It's Naraku's Origin Story, he was human but was gravely injured and when a horde of demons came to consume him he used dark magic to merge with them.
    • In the first movie, Ruri, one of the Big Bad's Co-Dragons, copies Miroku's Wind Tunnel for her own use. This trope hits Ruri hard when she later deliberately expands it to gain an edge over Miroku, only to quickly lose control of it and be consumed.
  • The antagonists of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, the Pillarmen, are vampiric superhumans who feed by absorbing others. The first Pillarman Santana tries this on Joseph Joestar after he thinks he knocked the latter unconscious (rendering his Ripple useless). Joseph wasn't unconscious and immediately let off a Ripple inside Santana's body, tearing him in half.
  • Naruto:
    • When Orochimaru tried to steal Sasuke's body, Sasuke reversed the process and absorbed him instead. This nearly backfired on Sasuke when he used up so much chakra fighting Itachi that Orochimaru managed to force his way back to the surface and manifest and it was only the fact Itachi gambled on this and intentionally did this so he could forcibly remove and seal Orochimaru away that he didn't get away with it.
    • Also, there's always the threat that the Tailed Beasts can take control of their hosts and go on a rampage. But a strong enough host can instead summon their power at will, and an even better host can make friends with their beast.
  • Occurs in a weird way in Rebuild of Evangelion, as Zeruel eats Rei's EVA (with Rei still inside it) to assimilate it and get around the self-destruct mechanism NERV set up in case an angel got to Central Dogma. This turns out to be the last mistake Zeruel makes, not because Rei breaks out herself, but because Shinji tears it into tiny pieces to get her back.
  • Rosario + Vampire: When Doppelgänger copies a person, he gets all their powers... and their weaknesses. He's defeated when he copies Moka, only for Tsukune to slap the rosary on him, weakening him enough for them to defeat.
  • After obtaining their final power-up from Medusa and going completely off-board, Soul Eater's Crona attempts to devour Asura, the Kishin. It appears to work until Maka manages to knock Crona mentally off-balance, at which point Asura turns the tables on Crona and assimilates them from the inside, morphing Crona's body back into his own shape in front of Maka's eyes. Even later on though, this back-backfires on Asura, because Crona being inside let them reach BREW and the Book of Eibon, which Asura also swallowed, and used them to seal Asura away again.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: When Sensui Seven member Gourmet eats Elder Toguro to get his powers, Elder Toguro ends up taking over his body later.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Marvel universe, being able to assimilate the properties of whatever he touches is both the strength and a weakness of Absorbing Man. For example, he can absorb steel to become nigh invulnerable. On the other hand, he has to be careful. For example in one issue of The Hulk he was falling to his death when a building collapsed while fighting the eponymous character. To save himself he grabbed the first thing that he could... which happened to be a piece of glass. Whoops!
  • A heroic example happens in GloomCookie, when Chrys devours the monster under Sebastian's bed, to protect him. The monster continues to live on inside of her, driving her to bring men home and eat them (as it had done to all the girls Sebastian brought home), until she figured out what was going on and vomited it back up.
  • After Eddie Brock busted out of prison, his symbiote left behind a spawn which bonded with his cellmate, Cletus Kasady. Cletus' psyche seemed to have completely dominated the newborn symbiote's, as he refers to himself as "I" instead of using "We" like most symbiote/host unions do.
  • Superman villain Parasite is a power thief who also gains the victim's weaknesses. This means whenever he steals Superman's powerset, Superman can actually beat him by using kryptonite.
    • Meanwhile, in one time where Superman had to fight Dracula, he was bitten... only for Dracula to immediately turn to ash, as Superman is a walking solar battery.
  • Even though Rogue of the X-Men is not an assimilator proper, her absorption power has often enough resulted in assimilation backfire, e. g. absorbing a particularly strong personality may result in her control of her own body to the persona she absorbed. This happened with Spiral, for instance. She also sometimes had to struggle for control of her own body with some other personalities she absorbed, especially with that of Ms. Marvel. Some powers, such as Cyclops' Eye Beams, are also harder to control than others.
  • Galactus had a bad time trying to devour Wraithworld. The foulness of the planet that spawned the Dire Wraiths was so awful that even Galactus' feared appetite couldn't stomach it.
  • In Rom vs. Transformers: Shining Armor, the above-mentioned Dire Wraiths discover they can assimilate Transformers like they can organic species. Unfortunately, the biomechanical nature of Transformers wrecks hell on the Wraith doing the possessing, resulting an insane, constantly mutating abomination that is quickly burned to death by its own out-of-control powers. Even when Vekktral figures out a way to do it safely, the victim (Ultra Magnus) is able to retain his individuality and fight Vekktral from the inside, something no organic creature could do.
  • In Gold Digger, Dreadwing has been using his Fusion Dance ability to forcibly fuse with people to gain their abilities, while holding their minds down with his own will. When he fuses with a pair of Wererats to steal their inherent luck however, they prove a little too slippery, sneaking behind his metaphorical back and causing him to pickpocket people within reach. He also finds out that he's picked up a wererat's inherent fear/paralysis when meeting the gaze of a Werecheetah. When he finally reaches the wellspring of power he's been seeking, he not only gets the power, but so do those he's fused with, including Benjy, the actual owner of the Fusion ability, who has the power to undo all the fusions as well...
  • The ultimate Venomverse villains, the Poisons, are able to spawn new Poisons by bonding a superhuman to a symbiote, then infecting them with a larva creature. Unfortunately for them, several characters prove resistant to this: Deadpool and Carnage are too crazy to reliably manipulate, and Jean Grey too strong-willed to fully succumb, leading to the destruction of most of the Hive when Jean steals their power and uses it to kill the Poison Queen.
  • Silverblade: When the Executioner possesses the Winged Avenger costume, it gains all of the superpowers the Avenger had possessed on the TV show. However, it also gains the Avenger's vulnerability to silver.

    Fan Works 
  • In a Star Trek/Doctor Who/My Little Pony crossover fanfic titled My Little Enterprise, the Doctor resolved the whole plot by going back in time to the destruction of his homeworld and impersonating the leader, tricking the Borg Celestia into having him assimilated, which allowed him to disrupt her during the final confrontation.
  • During the Final Battle of the Pony POV Series Chaos Verse, Nightmare Phobia absorbs Discord and Fluttercruel in order to feed off their Chaos energy. However, this allows them to attack her from the inside, severely weakening her.
  • The Flash Sentry Chronicles: This actually happened to King Sombra twice! Albeit once to two different versions of him, but still.
    • During season 5, in the final Bad Future that Twilight, Spike, and Starlight travel to, flashbacks reveal that the Flash Sentry of that particular timeline never met Twilight or any of his other friends, and after leaving Canterlot he eventually made his way to the North when the Crystal Empire reappeared and encountered Sombra. Sombra tried to possess his body instead of spending a few days rebuilding his own so he could conquer the Crystal Empire faster, but Flash's Sacred Light protected him from Sombra's attempt, and destroyed Sombra instead. However, Sombra's attempt still left an influence on Flash, giving him all of Sombra's dark powers, his memories, and his ambitions, giving this Evil Flash everything he needed to conquer Equestria himself.
    • In the main timeline, during War of the Lost City after Sombra is revived by Shadow Corrupter, and freed from being Armalum's host, he reveals that when he originally fought Flash and gave him his scar, he secretly implanted a small part of his soul inside it, just in case he died in battle that day, which is exactly what happened. Sombra's soul was originally supposed to corrupt Flash's body once he let enough dark emotions take hold of him, allowing Sombra to hijack his body and use it himself. However, the corruption never happened, because Flash's friends were able to help get him back to normal, allowing him to fight off Sombra's darkness without knowing it. Additionally, the longer Sombra's soul stayed inside Flash, the longer Flash ended up influencing Sombra instead of the other way around, meaning that when Sombra was eventually resurrected another way, he had all of his old memories plus Flash's, and now felt guilty for his prior actions and wanted to atone.
  • Boldores And Boomsticks: Lt. Surge, Weiss and Ruby just defeated the body a Geist made for itself from construction equipment, but the Geist survived the finishing blow and goes for the first object it can find... a porta-potty. After a few seconds, it comes back out looking ready to gag before Lt. Surge puts it out its misery.


    Films — Animation 
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, the main villains include Cy-bugs, which take on the features of whatever they eat.
    • A Cy-bug eats King Candy, who is assimilated a little too well and becomes said Cy-bug's primary consciousness. Which later goes less well for King Candy, as he also inherited the Cy-bug's weakness: an unstoppable need to fly towards anything that looks like the game-over beacon from their home game, in this case, a volcanic eruption.
    • The Cy-bugs from Hero's Duty are metallic from eating the metal environment around them. When they are in Sugar Rush, they ate and become the candy from the game, making it easier for Ralph to simply smash them. Except for one Cy-Bug who became Nigh-Invulnerable by eating a jawbreaker.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the climax of Forbidden World, the crew attempt to defeat the alien invader by feeding it the cancer that another crew member was dying from.
  • In Ghost Rider, Blackheart No Sells Blaze's Penance Stare power the first time it's used on him since he doesn't have a soul. When he draws the trapped souls of San Venganza into his body in a bid to increase his power, Blaze realizes that he's made himself vulnerable to the stare and uses it to destroy him.
  • In The Matrix Revolutions, Agent Smith assimilates The Oracle, which appears to backfire in some way (since she knew he was coming). It backfires because, as she explained to Neo, "We can't see past the choices we don't understand." Smith could see that Neo would die, but not the reason he sacrificed himself. At the end, Neo's assimilation saddles Smith with a direct link back to the machines, allowing them to purge the rogue AI.
  • This is how Freddy Krueger dies in the fifth installment of A Nightmare on Elm Street. He's absorbed the souls of three of Alice's friends, and a vision of his mother spurs them on to tear him apart from the inside.
  • A delayed version in Star Trek: First Contact. Picard was assimilated and then later freed from the Borg Collective during the TV Series. This initially benefited the Borg, as they now have in-depth knowledge of Starfleet's tactics and technology, making an already formidable force stronger. However, in the movie, it is shown that Captain Picard also retained his in-depth knowledge of the Borg's behavior, tactics, technology, and weaknesses, and uses it to soundly defeat them several times. It didn't help them that the horrifying experience of assimilation made it personal for him and drove him to seek their destruction at all costs.
  • Of a sort in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The T-1000 takes the form of a policeman to search for John Connor, and this disguise works remarkably well, right up until he actually finds him. One of the kids it asks for information is John's friend, a fellow Delinquent who immediately runs back to warn him that a cop is looking for him. John bails immediately, and it's this which prevents the cyborg assassin from immediately killing him off.
  • In The Thing (1982), the Thing's assimilation and imitation of Vance Norris is so good that it even copied his bad heart. Thing!Norris has a heart attack during a stressful situation, leading to the doctor's attempts to resuscitate "him" with an electrical defibrillator. The Thing is forced to attack the doctor and expose itself to stop the painful electrical shocks.

    Light Novels 
  • Baccano!: Szilard Quates makes his eternal living devouring the memories and abilities of other immortals who oppose his plan to share immortality with the world (Trust us, it's not as noble a goal as it seems.). However, being an immortal himself, he ends up falling victim to this by Firo Prochainezo once he and a large group of others drink the immortality elixir (believed to be liquor by Isaac and Miria). This helps in not only stopping Szilard's run of taking other immortals' lives, but also gives Firo the knowledge on how to stop Ennis from dying, as Szilard had the ability to mentally control her state of physical health.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Rensa is a cyborg who can copy esper powers, including those of the Level 5's. When she encounters Touma, she realizes that his right arm has a power (Imagine Breaker) that she doesn't, so after analyzing it, she tries to use it herself. Her arm explodes.
  • Fate/strange fake: True Archer uses his Power Parasite Noble Phantasm Reincarnation Pandora to steal False Berserker's From Hell - a Phantasm that invokes Demon of Human Origin to transform the user into a demon. While this initially saves him from False Berserker's attack, when he tries using the transformation against their master, he realizes too late his usual A-Rank Magic Resistance doesn't cover him when he's transformed, and gets brutally mauled.
  • KonoSuba: Sylvia is defeated when she assimilates a willing Kazuma who then brings down her barrier.
  • Re:Zero: Once Louis Arneb eats Subaru's memories and finds out about Return by Death, she thinks that's the ideal power to have the most perfect and happiest life since the user can undo any of their mistakes and failures. Wishing to steal Return by Death, Louis creates a copy of herself and uses it to possess Subaru's body. Louis then discovers that she vastly underestimated the critical mental damage and trauma experiencing your own death over and over again causes. After she's out of Subaru's body, Louis doesn't care about having the perfect life anymore; all she can think now is how much she doesn't want to die again.

  • Animorphs: By morphing a Howler, a race of Psychopathic Manchildren with a species-wide Hive Mind (anything one sees, all of them know), Jake manages to implant the memory of his and Cassie's First Kiss. Because of the Howlers' Blue-and-Orange Morality, the concept of love is completely alien to them, and now that they've been exposed to it, they don't want to fight the protagonists. The Elllimist tells him that the next time they're deployed, they'll try this novel tactic, which will ensure that they will never be used as shock troops again.
  • In the Discworld novel Carpe Jugulum, the Magpyrs suck Granny Weatherwax's blood and attempt to turn her. She survives the experience without becoming a vampire; the Magpyrs aren't so lucky, however, as feeding on Granny Weatherwax has allowed her to turn them. By the end, they're craving tea instead of blood and even talking like her.
    Granny Weatherwax: I ain't been vampired, YOU been Weatherwaxed!
  • The Dresden Files:
    • When the Red Court took Susan into their midst, it proved to be an interesting setback in Changes, when Harry causes a powerful death spell meant for him to genocide the entire Red Court, by backfiring the spell using Susan as a willing conduit.
    • Less by design, but the Corpsetaker gets burned by this in Ghost Story. She was in the middle of performing a Grand Theft Me, and the victim was fighting back. Then Morty the ectomancer shows up with a horde of wraiths. If the Corpsetaker had taken anyone else, she would have won. But it was her victim's ability to hold onto her that allowed Morty to give her the bum rush to Hell.
    • In Cold Days, we find when Harry became the Winter Knight, his power is now directly linked to Queen Mab. Butters comments this grants that person a unique vulnerability to Harry, although the events of the book heavily imply that was precisely the desired goal, for Harry to act as an independent check and failsafe.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: In Life, the Universe and Everything, The Krikkiters find Marvin the depressed robot on Sqornshellous Zeta, and capture him, thinking that his massive intellect will be an asset to them. They plug him into their war computer, allowing him to plan their entire military strategy. But any AI that comes in contact with Marvin's mind becomes as depressed as he is (he had previously driven a spaceship and a bridge to suicide), and the Krikkit-bots wind up doing nothing but sulking.
  • Old Kingdom: At the climax of Sabriel, Kerrigor devours Mogget aka Yrael, one of the gods of the setting and absorbs his power. Unfortunately for Kerrigor, this also makes him subject to the magical bindings that made Mogget subordinate to the Abhorsens, giving Sabriel a way to defeat him.
  • In the Sabina Kane series a vampire who feeds on a drug addict can end up with the same addiction. Although Sabina considers the occasional pothead a fun snack.
  • Star Trek: Destiny reveals that this is why The Borg Collective is evil. They assimilated something they shouldn't have and became slaves to a mindless all-consuming hunger as a result.
  • In Madeline Ashby's vN the protagonist, a self-replicating android who discovers that her series can absorb core programming from other androids by eating them, ends up on the assimilating side of this when she eats her Ax-Crazy grandmother and has to share her head with psycho-granny's personality. In the end, she gets eaten by a tentacled monster that developed from a Hive Mind of networked androids that got stuck on the sea floor, and takes control of it.
  • The Martians in The War of the Worlds drink human blood, both as a form of sustenance and in an attempt to assimilate certain biological factors that will allow them to adapt to Earth's atmosphere more quickly. It doesn't end well for them.
  • Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina: In "Soup's On: The Pipe Smoker's Tale", space vampire Dannik Jerriko became addicted to "tabac" after feeding on a smoker.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In the novel The Great Work, Director Sedayne, one of the Emperor's own scientists, responsible for creating Adeptus Astartes, suffers this after trying to merge souls with a young and able-bodied adept named Belisarius Cawl - the latter being an insufferable and narcissistic, but genius upstart (who, more importantly, features in the main 40000 storyline and got his own model), one cannot imagine a different outcome. A small piece of Sedayne's consciousness remains inside Cawl's body, and their memories became somewhat intertwined, but that's it.
    • In the Forges of Mars trilogy, the robot Galatea steals Linya Tychon’s brain and adds her to its Wetware CPU neuromatrix. This proves a costly mistake, as once Linya has gotten over the horror of being reduced to a Brain in a Jar, she realizes that Galatea cannot parse modern hexamathic code and starts exploiting that vulnerability to sabotage it from within.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Tomb of the Cybermen": Toberman is able to maintain enough self-control in spite of the conversion process to turn on the Cyber-Controller, giving him a chance to pull off a Heroic Sacrifice and save the day.
    • "Smith and Jones": An alien drinks human blood so the Judoon will think she's human when bio-scanned. The Doctor tricks her into drinking his blood, so she still looks like an alien through the bio-scanner. (A different type than she really is, but it still gets the Judoon to deal with her.)
    • "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks": In an experiment designed to save the Daleks from extinction, Dalek Sec absorbs human DNA and mutates itself into a human/Dalek hybrid. The new hybrid-Sec finds himself developing human values and emotions, and eventually decides the Dalek's best chance of survival is to free the next generation from their genocidal hatred of non-Dalek life. Naturally, this doesn't sit well with his Dalek comrades, who proceed to execute him in disgust, much to the Doctor's consternation.
    • "The Next Doctor": The Cybermen attempt to upgrade Miss Hartigan, but she's so strong-willed that she not only survives the process with her mind intact but manages to rewrite the Cybermen's programming.
    • "Asylum of the Daleks": Oswin Oswald is physically converted into a Dalek, but fights off the associated mental conditioning. It ends up with the Daleks losing all knowledge of the Doctor.
    • "The Day of the Doctor": The Zygon who takes Osgood's form also acquires her asthma.
  • In the Hyperdrive episode "Harvest", the Brilliant, but Lazy Jeffers is temporarily assimilated by the Red, Shiny Robots of Vortis. After the crew escape and sabotage the robot ship, none of the robots can be bothered to repair it.
  • Zigzagged in Lexx episode "The Giga Shadow", where the cleric Yottskry, in an attempt to halt the Divine Shadow's rebirth, is instead possessed by the Divine Shadow and assimilated into the Divine Shadow's ultimate vessel, the Giga Shadow. When the Divine Shadow attempts to be reborn, it is Yottskry who musters the mental strength to stave off the Divine Shadow's attacks against Kai (who is crawling around inside the Giga Shadow) and help direct him to the central brain so he could put the Divine Shadow to rest. Ultimately, Yottskry is overpowered by the Divine Shadow and assimilated completely, and Kai is ejected from the Giga Shadow. All turns out well, however, when Squish, a baby cluster lizard, navigates to and consumes the Giga Shadow's brains, its favorite delicacy.
  • The Replicators on Stargate SG-1 consume whatever materials are available to replicate. Normally they are drawn towards anything more advanced than they currently are, ignoring less advanced materials and technologies, but a single unit stranded in a low tech environment will still use what it can. This bit them in the ass when Thor's ship crashed in Earth's ocean. The lone survivor infiltrated a Russian sub where it was forced to replicate using steel instead of advanced Asgard alloys, rendering the new units susceptible to rust and short-circuiting in water.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "I Borg", the Enterprise crew consider using "Hugh", a captured Borg drone, as a Typhoid Mary for a cyberweapon to destroy the Borg Collective. They instead send him back without it, hoping that the sense of individuality he gained from interacting with them will defeat the Borg non-violently. "Descent" reveals that the individuality infected the Borg cube that took him aboard, whereupon the main Borg Collective ejected them from it in self-defense.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • The series eventually lampshaded the Kazons' Too Dumb to Live tendencies by having Seven of Nine remark that assimilating them would weaken the Borg Collective.
      • In the series finale, "Endgame", Admiral Janeway infects herself with a bioweapon before meeting the Borg Queen. When the Queen assimilates her, it infects that entire collective.
      • Icheb was also intended to be one of these, but it ended up only disabling the ship that assimilated him. The collective immediately severed the ship from the hive mind and declared it not worth assisting.
  • Castiel absorbed all the souls of Purgatory in the season 6 finale of Supernatural. Unfortunately, included in those souls were not just human souls, but those of Leviathans.
  • In the final episode of Weird Science, the alien invasion is thwarted at the last moment because they assimilate Gary and become too nice to attack.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Vampire: The Masquerade has the art of diablerie, where one vampire can drink out another vampire's blood, and then their soul, gaining all of their powers. However, if the consumed vampire is of particularly strong mind and will, then said vampire just gets a new meat body. In the end game to the line, it's revealed this happened in slow-motion after the traitorous Tremere diablerized Saulot to gain his power, with Tremere's soul eventually kicked out of his body and having to find new accommodations.
  • Warhammer 40,000: A background character is Ax'Senaea the Thrice-Possessed, a woman who, as the name suggests, was possessed three times by daemons. But while even throwing off a single daemon is cause enough for celebration, she did so willingly, her Awesome Ego convincing her she could reverse the possession by sheer willpower in order to extend her lifespan and beauty. After summoning and successfully consuming a Keeper of Secrets, a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh, she realized it wasn't enough. So she did it again with an equally powerful daemon. And again with another. She was about to go for a fourth when Slaanesh hirself appeared and elevated her to Daemon Princesshood, allowing her to keep the daemons trapped inside her as punishment for being defeated by a mortal.

    • Vakama and Onewa managed to defeat a Tunneler, a Rahi which had the ability to take on the form of any force directed at it, by combining their Elemental Powers to transform it into brittle glass. Realizing its current body couldn't support its massive weight upon hearing and seeing a crack form in its body when it tried to move, it gave up the fight and devoted everything it had to staying as still as possible.
    • In the Kingdom Alternate Dimension, Teridax is killed after he absorbs Matoro, who fights back successfully due to Teridax's weakened will due to his plan's failure in that dimension.
    • Minor Dark Hunter Conjurer tried to use his Energy Absorption abilities on a Makuta to steal his powers (and presumably use them in a bid to overthrow The Shadowed One). The sheer number of Combo Platter Powers (over forty) proceeded to overload his systems and send him into a coma with no signs of waking up anytime soon and the Makuta unharmed.

    Video Games 
  • Implied to the be the fate of all Blue Mages in Final Fantasy XI. The Blue Mage absorbs the powers of their victims, but gradually the absorbed beings take over, and turn them into a monster. This never happens to the player character, of course.
  • In the Mass Effect setting the quarians' immune systems evolved to assimilate microbes rather than fight them, since Rannoch had none that were harmful. This is the main reason they wear those suits all the time, as foreign microbes don't share Rannochian microbes' friendliness.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, if One of Many is in your party when you meet the dead god Myrkul, they'll ask you if they can eat Myrkul. Given that unlike the Knight-Captain's Spirit-Eater curse, One of Many adds consumed souls to its collective, Myrkul will take over, resulting in a Bonus Boss.
  • In Osmos the assimilation of other cells is the goal, but it is governed by the laws of osmosis (or at least some version of it). As such, an attempt to consume a cell even slightly bigger than your own will backfire and result in your cell absorbed.
  • In Resident Evil 6 Derek Simmons's final giant insect form is practically immortal: whenever a limb is blown off, it will simply grab a nearby zombie, dismantle and absorb it and rebuild the limb. However, when attempting to heal its head, it grabs a zombie impaled on a lightning rod, which gets embedded in its eye and causes Simmons to get struck by lightning.
    • In Resident Evil: Outbreak File #2, Eldritch Abomination Nyx absorbs enormous amounts of dead biomass, including a Tyrant. However, for once Umbrella had a bright idea and installed a bomb in the Tyrant in case it went rogue. If you didn't use it against the Tyrant, it's possible to detonate it after Nyx has consumed it, dealing massive damage.
  • Kingdom of Loathing had this as the plot of their holiday event one year. When a Borg expy lands in the kingdom and starts assimilating people, they absorb the local Bad Santa "Uncle Crimbo", whose magical power is greatest during the holiday season. As a result, they become the Crimborg. Still a hivemind bent on mass assimilation, but with a festive flair.
  • In the God Eater series, the Aragami are organisms made up of a colony of voracious, all-consuming cells that take on the traits and properties of anything they consume, organic or inorganic. This went horribly wrong for the Golden Gboro-Gboro species, which was implied to have feasted on pure metals - they've become so fragile they easily die in under five hits to the weakest of weapons. It's good news for the player though, since they drop lots of different metals you can use for crafting.
  • Two of the possible Final Bosses you can face in Undertale absorb the souls of other creatures into themselves, only for it to backfire on them: Flowey, Boss of the Neutral Ending, is defeated because the stolen human souls inside him try to rebel against him and help you instead, and Asriel Dreemurr, boss of the Pacifist Ending and Flowey's original self, regrows his conscience after absorbing the souls of the monsters, gradually making him more and more unwilling to attack you.
    • The former is particularly noteworthy as, after you defeat him, he regains all of his HP by reloading a previous save, negating the entire battle back to the start, and just kills you a dozen times, reloading a save after your death just to screw with you and show how powerful he is. It's only after his triumphant speech and what would be his final attack that the whole plan goes awry, and the second he can't load a save, you can see the look on his face turn to absolute panic as the human souls rebel. Should you load your old save after the boss fight he'll still steal the human souls after you beat the final boss of the neutral path, but he won't transform and face you again, because he realizes the human souls will just rebel. He figures if he can't beat you, it's best to just steal them and deprive you of any good endings. He revives even if you killed him and he's aware of this, as you reloaded a save before he died.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising provides a variation with the Aurum, which are a race of robotic aliens that tear planets apart as raw material and will capture native lifeforms to create robotic copies to fuel their war machine. However, it's mentioned in the Aurum Skuttler idol description that the Aurum will copy all fighting styles of the worlds they assimilate, even the weak ones. Sure enough, all the copied enemies created by the Aurum share the very same attack patterns and weaknesses of the originals with no attempt to improve on them.
  • Grim Dawn: It's made explicit that the disembodied Aetherial spirits invading the world always acquire some traits from the people they possess, if that body was alive upon taking. This has both positive and negative connotations, in that the result can be all over the moral spectrum. Usually negative ones though, as those Weak-Willed enough to be taken by Aetherials without a struggle (not all of them are that strong at first) are either too bland to make much of an impression or outright evil, leading to monsters like Warden Krieg, who had to be reprimanded for unecessary cruelty by another Aetherial. And those who willingly enter a pact with an Aetherial, they're either very good sorts partnering with a rebel against the invasion... or the worst of the worst on both accounts, like Theodin Marcell, the Shaper of Flesh.
  • Shantae: In the fifth game, Seven Sirens, The Empress Siren is able to restore her physical form by consuming some life force from the half-genies Risky Boots delivered to her. By taking the magic from five drops of genie life force, she would have true immortality and become unstoppable. Unfortunately for her, the fifth “half-genie” was actually Rottytops, and from her she took the “life” force of the undead. Her new body was rotting from the inside as soon as it was created. This is also what allows Shantae to ultimately win.
  • In SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE, the player character, Avar1ce, is one of the subjects of the Assimilation Plot from the first game. However, the System simply cannot keep up with Avar1ce's incessant desire for more. More bloodshed, more secrets, more power. Even in the endgame, when it tricks Avar1ce into deleting everything, Avar1ce refuses to give in. When Avar1ce finds a way to undelete everything, the System gives up and lets them have it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, a mysterious entity known only as "the Shadow" appears in the Heaven's Feel route and displays the ability to absorb Servants. When it tries this on Gilgamesh, though, Gil is so powerful and "pure" that the Shadow is unable to subsume him, and is almost destroyed itself. It settles for eating him instead.

    Web Animation 
  • When the Auditor, the Big Bad of the Madness Combat series, absorb Mook corpses in order to gain more power during his battle against Hank, he makes the mistake of absorbing Tricky which make him explode.
  • RWBY: Cinder is only able to become the Fall Maiden by murdering the current Fall Maiden, Amber, and using a special type of parasite Grimm, which absorbs the power and transfers it to her. As a result, she gains enormous power at the cost of becoming extremely vulnerable to Ruby's Silver-Eye power which exists to destroy Grimm. A brief exposure to it during the Battle of Beacon cripples her for an entire volume, where she has to relearn how to speak and is forced to wear a mask to hide the scarring on the left side of her face. During the Battle of Haven, it's revealed that her left arm was destroyed by Ruby and replaced with a Grimm arm. Although she can use it as she would any other arm, and it allows her to absorb Maiden power from other Maidens, the Grimm do not have Aura. As a result, her left arm is entirely unprotected by her Aura as a result of being incompatible. It also makes the left side of her body much more vulnerable to Ruby's power.

  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • The Borg Expy in an early strip run into this problem after assimilating Riff and Torg. "Since you have come among us, all we have done is drink fermented hops beverages and ogle scantily clad females. This has seriously jeopardized our goal of the all-collective. We've never had to do this before... We are kicking you out."
    • Done again with Dr. Crabtree, the Nanite Queen, who can assimilate people's knowledge by eating their brains...but gets infected with Sam Sein's stupidity when she tries it on him, and when she eats Christmas Elves' brains she starts unconsciously frolicking everywhere while singing "lolly la!"
  • In Bad Machinery's "The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor", an Eldritch Abomination that eats hope makes the (fatal) mistake of consuming the ghost of Todd Baxter, the most miserable rock star in history. (As a bonus, Baxter finally gets to feel happiness, and cross over.)
  • The Cybes, a Borg parody in the Space Arc of Irregular Webcomic!, who explicitly state they acquire the characteristics of those they assimilate (taking the Borg's "add your distinctiveness to our own" literally):
    • Iki Piki volunteers to be assimilated first, suggesting that his selfless sacrifice will mean the Cybe will duplicate his wish to save his comrades.
      Cybe: Yeah, someone tried that years ago. But your comrades aren't my comrades.
    • Eventually, they assimilate Serron. Immediately, they're all squabbling and trying to push each other out of the airlocks.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Durkon is turned into a vampire, effectively having his soul trapped in his own mind. The negative energy spirit that controls his body is able to absorb his memories at will, allowing it to mimic Durkon. However, it lacks the ability to understand Durkon's feelings. This bites it in the ass when it becomes confused and tormented by an act of utter selflessness performed by Durkon's mother, and upon demanding that Durkon show it all his memories to help process the information, the spirit is overwhelmed and becomes Durkon.
    Durkon: But be careful. B'cause ye know wha ye are if'n ye haf me body an' all me joys an' sorrows? Yer me.
  • Homestuck: Sburb players create their sprites by "prototyping" various items, with a preference for corpses. Sburb underlings, as well as the wielders of the rings of the queens of Prospit and Derse, will subsequently gain the powers of these items - and the weaknesses. This trope has occurred several times, with varying degrees of success:
    • When John prototyped a doll missing an arm and an eye, Jack Noir loses those features when he steals and equips one of the rings. This did not slow him down much, unfortunately.
    • John tried to invoke this and completely incapacitate Jack by prototyping a doll missing its other arm and eye, but was prevented from doing so by Vriska, as crippling Jack would ruin the Stable Time Loop wherein Jack traveled back in time to ruin Vriska's Sburb session, which led to Vriska coming into contact with John in the first place.
    • When Becquerel was prototyped instead, Jack gained godlike Reality Warper powers - and an Undying Loyalty towards Jade that overruled his Omnicidal Maniac tendencies, in addition to other canine mannerisms like chasing cats.

    Web Original 
  • In the SF Debris review of "Unimatrix Zero", the Borg Queen begins to blow up her own ships, in an insanely ineffective way to stop Janeway. Chuck is of the opinion that Janeway, who he interprets as a sociopath, is taking over the Borg.
    Borg Queen: Destroying my own people to further my own ends? I have no idea where this thought came from.
    Janeway: Your mistake was assimilating me!
  • Jade in "Tennyo Goes to Hell" of the Whateley Universe. She's already a shapeshifter (sort of) who has the power to integrate her own memories (it's complicated), so when she gets attacked by an unstoppable Eldritch Abomination, she ends up with the power set of a shoggoth, making her the most terrifying thing in their reality.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, the Absorbing Man takes on the properties of Mjolnir. Too bad one of those properties is being subject to the mental control of Thor.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: In "Showdown Part 2", Malware manages to absorb Ben as Waybig into himself. Inside, Ben has a flashback and finally forgives himself for losing Feedback, resulting in him reobtaining and transforming into Feedback to escape from Malware from the inside. Malware was doubly surprised for Ben escaping and doing it as Feedback, the alien he had destroyed in the past.
    • Malware's past attempt to absorb the Omnitrix backfired when the angry Ben released the Omnitrix's vast power inside Malware, causing him to explode.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
    • Happens to a brain-eating alien when it is dumb enough to consume Mandy's brain. She hijacks its consciousness.
    • Happens again in the Crossover with Codename: Kids Next Door when Mandy allows herself to become one with the Delightful Reaper and becomes the dominant personality as a result.
  • During Amazo's first appearance on Justice League, he copies the powers of all the League's members while fighting them. Superman turns out to be a subversion; Amazo does inherit his weakness to kryptonite, much like Parasite above, but surpasses it shortly afterward. Played straight when the Martian Manhunter submits at the end, as Amazo gains his telepathy, uses it to discover that Lex Luthor has been deceiving him, and basically calls off the conflict.
  • Justice League Action: In "Boo-ray For Bizarro", Amazo copies the powers and intelligence of superpowered beings. When he tries this on Bizarro, Bizarro's backwards logic conflicts with his computer brain, overloading and destroying him.
  • Men in Black: Alpha, an ex-MiB agent, grafts stolen alien limbs to his human body. When they start falling apart, he seeks out an alien symbiote with a Healing Factor to restore them. When he manages to assimilate not one but two symbiotes, the regeneration works so well that his stolen alien parts start regrowing their own bodies and end up tearing right out of him.
  • Samurai Jack saw Jack pitted against Demongo, a high-ranking minion of Aku who had absorbed the souls of every warrior he defeated; when Jack defeated one, it retreated as a wisp into Demongo's vest of skulls, where he could re-summon it immediately. Just before he was overpowered, Jack had the bright idea of hitching a ride on one of the souls, where he freed them all from Demongo's spell and left the now-powerless demon to be curbstomped by his vengeful enemies.
  • In the last episode of The Secret Saturdays, V.V. Argost has assimilated the Kur powers from Zak's Evil Twin from an anti-matter Mirror Universe, and then does the same to Zak himself to become even more powerful. But what Argost didn't realize (but Zak did) was what happens when matter and anti-matter combine, and Argost obliterates himself instead.
  • One episode of South Park has Cartman's super high-tech Trapper Keeper begin assimilating all technology (beginning with a calculator, then a computer, then a lamp, then Cartman). "Trapper Keeper ready to ensorb." Eventually it goes on a rampage and heads for Cheyenne Mountain to ensorb the NORAD command center there, but on the way it eats Rosie O'Donnell, weakening it enough for Kyle to turn it off.
  • In the "Neogenic Nightmare" arc of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Spider-Man is attacked by the Vulture, a villain who uses advanced technology to steal vitality from others. Unfortunately for the Vulture, the mutation that gives Spider-Man his powers is particularly unstable at the time of the attack, and he absorbs some of Spider-Man's DNA, causing him to mutate into a monstrous man/spider hybrid.
  • Static Shock: The metahuman Power Parasite Leech is defeated with water after he absorbed Static's powers.
  • Superman: The Animated Series:
    • In "Feeding Time", Parasite takes Superman's power, but is defeated when he grabs a chunk of raw Kryptonite while Superman wore his Kryptonite-Proof Suit for the first time.
    • In "Two's a Crowd", Parasite agrees to help authorities find a bomb left by another villain by using his powers to access the other guy's memories. Instead, the other guy is so willful and egotistic that he temporarily takes over Parasite.
  • Young Justice has an appearance of Parasite, who is defeated when he steals Miss Martian's powers without realizing they came with a weakness to fire, which the heroes exploit. That's how the Parasite is generally defeated. When he takes on a hero's powers, he takes on their weaknesses — which the hero knows inside and out and the Parasite often doesn't. A little fire/Kryptonite/yellow/expiration of the time limit, and he's back to the Cardboard Prison.
  • Darkwing Duck has one episode where Negaduck absorbs all of the other main villains' powers. Megavolt, Liquidator, and Bushroot all give him considerable elemental powers, but their weaknesses as well—Megavolt's vulnerability to short-circuiting, Liquidator's weakness to being thickened with water-soluble materials (such as quick-drying cement), and Bushroot's extreme emotional sensitivity— which Darkwing and the de-powered villains exploit to defeat him. Additionally, Negaduck also absorbed Quackerjack's "powers", which just causes him to laugh uncontrollably at random. This is useless and really annoys Negaduck.
  • In Robot Chicken, the Borg meet their match in Captain Jake, captain for the Enterprise-D night crew. Assimilating duty-bound officers is one thing, but a frat boy in a uniform causes the entire collective to become obsessed with partying.


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