Follow TV Tropes


Brain in a Jar

Go To
fMRI reading: "99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer..."

"We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled. But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any particular time or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?" - Project PYRRHO, Specimen 46, Vat 7 Subject termination advised
Flavor Text for the Bioenhancement Center facility, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

The Wonders of Science can keep a human brain alive in a plastic fishbowl with a few wires and doo-dads running into it. Sometimes this is benevolent, but usually it's nefarious (it may count as a Dark Lord on Life Support, or be the first step towards Unwilling Roboticisation). Occasionally, an underachiever Mad Scientist may need to keep the whole head alive, not just the brain. Sometimes the spinal cord and/or eyeballs are also there.

Sometimes it is presented as the end result of natural evolutionary processes. One day, we may find the rest of our bodies superfluous and exist simply as disembodied brains.

Also frequently falling under this trope is the Poor Man's Substitute of severed heads kept alive in jars or on surfaces that can disguise the fact that the rest of the actor is beneath the table when the head is active, which at least has the advantage of allowing the actor to act in some scenes.


Occasionally with this trope, a virtual reality is put into the brain so that it thinks it's a regular person with a body, making it a sort of Lotus-Eater Machine. See The Other Wiki's "brain in a vat" article for further discussion of this idea.

It seems that in about one in five examples of this trope the brain will be Hitler's. Walt Disney (or more likely a No Celebrities Were Harmed Expy of him) is also popular. Expect them to be given mobility by being encased in robotic life support units... with Death Rays! For Science!

Keep in mind that in real life, just pulling the brain out of a living person's head and plopping it in a tub of sterile saline would leave you with a starved, dead brain the next morning, so you'd need to hook the blood vessels up to some sort of fluid pump (ala the heart) to keep the brain supplied with oxygen and nutrients. But then you'd also need an air pump (ala the lungs) and nutrient intake device (ala the digestive tract) to keep that fluid pump supplied with that oxygen and nutrients. And then you'd need a regular filtration system (ala the urinary system) to keep the brain from dying of "blood" poisoning. But at this point it all amounts to basically a near-complete prosthetic body, so you might as well attach some limbs and call it a robot with a Wetware CPU.


Compare with People Jars and Man in the Machine; pretty much the same thing, but with complete bodies instead of just a brain. Compare also Soul Jar, in which the more immaterial essence of one's self is preserved. Compare Heart Drive, for a robotic (and sometimes biological) equivalent. Compare with Oracular Head when the head may be preserved by other means and used for answering questions of a divinatory nature. Wetware CPU is a version used as a computer. Compare to Losing Your Head when the whole head is preserved and capable of independent movement. Compare Brain Transplant when the brain is given a new body. This may or may not lead to And I Must Scream. May also be a result of Brain Theft.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Deckmen from Battle Angel Alita are this — with their facial flesh included.
  • The founders of the Time-Space Administration Bureau in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS turn out to have been reduced to these.
  • The Kedora from Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger. Ken Ishikawa one-shot "The Relic of Evil" revealed that the Mykene controlled his Robeast by grafting the brain of a soldier taught to destroy all no Mykene civilizations into a parasitic organism, and it fused with a robot, giving the Mykene soldier complete control. They would show up later in Shin Mazinger.
  • Ghost in the Shell:
    • Most full cyborg models allow for the case that holds the brain to be removed and connected to an external life support system. In one episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex a government official is about to be smuggled out of the country by hiding his brain in a suitcase. In another, an unconventional movie director decided to eschew his body, placing his brain case into a networked life support system and waiting for any wandering divers to come watch the movie in his brain.
    • Both the anime and manga versions have minor characters described as Jameson-type cyborgs (it's a brand name) which take this more literally than most. Most full-body cyborgs have a body that at least looks human but Jameson-types eschew this with a roughly cubic metal box on wheeled legs with a camera on a stick and a manipulator arm. For extra irony, in the anime, one runs a company that specializes in growing cloned organs for those who don't want cybernetic replacements if injured... and he got the money to found the company by selling all his organs in the first place (he was noted as being something of a "gung-ho company guy" considering the lengths he was willing to go to make a sale).
    • And, of course, the central character, Major Motoko Kusanagi, is a full cyborg and thus this trope. The purple-haired bombshell is the jar.
  • Part of Araya's "Spiral Paradox" in The Garden of Sinners relied on these.
  • The Magi computers in Neon Genesis Evangelion are powered by human brains. However, although the episode mentioned "organic supercomputers" that bear a strong resemblance to a human brain, it's not clear whether they used actual cloned human brain tissue or were just reverse-engineered. Here's the best that can be determined. All three are based on the brain of Dr. Naoko Akagi (mother of Ritsuko) or rather specific aspects of her: one is based on her as a scientist, one on her as a mother, and the last on her as a woman. If the Magi are organic, they were likely built based on particular brain patterns, so they're likely not direct clones.
  • In AKIRA, this is the current state of Akira, together with the rest of his nervous system... until he comes back, that is.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • The second movie, The World's Strongest, features Dr. Wheelo, who seems to be a brain in a jar. But then turns out to be a brain in a jar in a massive mecha. With guns. And lasers.
    • In the main series, as an android Dr. Gero's brain is stored in a glass dome on his head. It's usually covered by his Nice Hat, though.
  • Despite being an Anime-version of a Western pulp series, Simon Wright from Captain Future should be mentioned here. He is an archetypal brain in a (highly mobile) jar, with a tractor beam and other appendages; and an array of blinkenlights for a mouth.
  • It is (briefly) revealed in R.O.D the TV that the reality-warping effect that causes London to take on elements of fictional works like The War of the Worlds and The Lost World (1912) is (at least in part) run by the preserved brains of famous authors.
  • In the Lupin III movie The Mystery of Mamo, ending spoiler: it turns out the movie's main villain was a gigantic version of this trope all along, and all the "clones" of him running around were all controlled with microchips in their brains that were wirelessly connected to him.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Teitoku Kakine has been reduced to this after Accelerator horribly dismembers him. It's also forced to create a constant stream of Dark Matter for the use of Academy City's soldiers. He eventually manages to create a new body out of Dark Matter and escape.
    • Rensa is a cyborg with 40 different brains that can be inserted into her head to animate her. After Touma destroys Rensa, he finds the brains and puts them into cold storage until something can be done about them.
    • In A Certain Scientific Railgun, Exterior is revealed to be a giant brain in a tube, cultivated from part of Misaki's cerebral cortex. It was intended to allow other people to use the ability Mental Out.
  • In Bleach:
    • Aaroniero Arrurerie's true form is that he has a glass jar where his head is supposed to be, filled with a blood-like substance and contains two Hollow-mask heads.
    • Gremmy Thoumeaux is revealed to be a brain in a jar held in an artificial body made by his Imagination-Based Superpower.
  • The anime sequel to Final Fantasy V has the Big Bad steal Cid's corpse from his tomb and resurrect him as a HUGE brain. Seriously, it's several times the size of a human.
  • One can be seen in Murasakiiro no Qualia in chapter 11. It's Yukari's brain. The real-life example of Einstein's brain is also mentioned.
  • The Sibyl System in Psycho-Pass.
  • Celty's head in Durarara!!, though it wasn't technically attached in the first place.
  • In the 2001 version of Cyborg 009, the true leaders of Black Ghost are three brains in jars, hiding inside a shuttle. The three can somehow speak: one talks with a man's voice, another with a woman's, and the third has a child's one.
  • In Knights of Sidonia, the traitorous Ochiai had his cybernetically-enhanced brain taken out and placed in storage after he destroyed most of Sidonia's libraries and data stores, leaving him the sole possessor of the knowledge they possessed. A clone of him, conditioned to be loyal to Sidonia, was created to act as a medium through which they can access his knowledge. Ochiai's mind eventually escapes confinement when he takes over Norio Kunato's body.
  • In Shotaro Ishinomori's original manga version of Kamen Rider, Takeshi Hongo, the Kamen Rider himself, is mortally wounded fighting the Shocker Riders. His brain is hooked into a computer and he becomes Mission Control for Hayato Ichimonji, who takes up the Kamen Rider mantle. In the final chapter, Hongo's brain is implanted into a fully mechanical body and he helps Ichimonji defeat Shocker once and for all.
  • Buso Renkin: After being paralysed from the neck down, Alexandria, Victor's wife, transferred her brain life preserving jar to preserve her life long enough to develop a way to make him human again. Over the years Alexandria also repeatedly cloned her brain so that she could link their jars together in an attempt to boost her already genius level intellect.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • A longtime Running Gag on the website is that Magic's Research And Development department is run by Gleemax, a literal Brain in a Jar. Which even has its own (not tournament-legal) card. The gag, by the way, dates back to at least the February 1998 issue of the long-defunct Duelist magazine, in which Mark Rosewater explains the 'Top Ten Myths About Magic R&D' — the myth about Gleemax is listed as #1, and it's not quite clear from context whether MaRo refers to an actual earlier myth or is just throwing in a red herring on the fly.
    • Also, the Psychosis Crawler, a brain in a tank of fluid mounted on a Spider Tank. The abundant space in the vat and the card's flavor text imply that more than one brain might find its way into that jar.
      "If that brain can't figure out the secret of the serum, then add more brains."
      —Rhmir, Hand of the Augur
    • No longer content to merely beat around the bush, Shadows over Innistrad goes for broke and includes a card directly named "Brain in a Jar".
  • The Brain In A Jar is an enemy in Star Munchkin.
  • Lord Slogar, one of the characters in the card game Gloom is a brain in a jar. Presumably his condition is the result of an experiment by his Mad Scientist wife, Helena.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has Mind Master. There's also the brain in the Field Spell Brain Research Lab, which might actually be the same one as Mind Master.

    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD:
    • The futuristic sports team The Harlem Heroes suffered a crash in their first adventure. One member became a brain in a jar as a result.
    • Bad Company featured Kano, a patched-together half-mad soldier who believes he carries the human part of his brain in a box. It's really just some random corpse's grey matter to keep him docile; he tends to go a little (more) crazy when he thinks he's lost it.
    • Shakara: The boss of an intergalactic slave auction is a giant spinal cord and brain stem in a glass.
  • Atomic Robo has the crazy scientist who isn't just a brain in a jar. He is several brains in several jars, apparently having cloned himself to immortality. Every time his currently active brain dies, a new one "wakes up".
  • In Avengers: The Initiative, Think Tank is a member of Montana's state superteam, Freedom Force. To all appearances, his head is a brain in a spherical glass case perched atop an otherwise completely normal human body. He's telekinetic and wears a headband and not much else is known about him.
  • Doom Patrol:
    • The Brain in The DCU. In one continuity he finally does manage to get a body—only to die in an explosion a few minutes later, moments before kissing his right-hand man, Mallah, to whom he'd just confessed his love for. Who's a talking French gorilla. You had a brain in a jar in a robot being in love with a homosexual talking French gorilla. Gotta love comics!
    • The same title revealed Robotman as this, though his "jar" is a heavy-duty robotic body. A Morrison-era comic also reduced The Chief (who is either a VERY dark Anti-Hero or an outright villain) to this.
  • In Empowered, the supervillain Psychoblast has been reduced to a brain in a jar. He apparently still has his powers, as the villain Idea Man comments that he can trigger the apocalypse, but Psychoblast has to be roused from slumber by beaming images into his mind, preferably images of a Hot Librarian.
  • President Rexall of Give Me Liberty becomes one of these after his coma. He even campaigns as such...
  • The Brain from Sirius, a recurring antagonist from E-Man is a huge brain in a container.
  • Hellboy:
    • One of Hellboy's enemies is Professor Doctor Herman Von Klempt, the Nazi head-in-a-jar.
    • More literally in the spinoff one-shot "The Iron Prometheus" starring Badass Normal Lobster Johnson. In order to extract the secrets of the Vril Energy Suit from Professor Gallaragas the villains literally do this to him. Then the villain shoots him. He comes back later as a the Ghostly Advisor to the guy wearing the VES suit.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Invaders and Alpha Flight villain Brain Drain.
    • The Eternal Brain, a Golden Age hero later revamped as a member of the Retcon-riffic superhero team the First Line from the Marvel: The Lost Generation series.
    • Martha Johannsen/No-Girl, a mutant kept alive as a brain in a jar to be used as a telepathic weapon before the X-Men rescued her.
    • The Kree Supreme Intelligence is a combination of their world's greatest minds, all in one big jar.
    • Doctor Sun, a Chinese enemy of Dracula in The Tomb of Dracula (we know he's Chinese because we are told); he later went on to menace Nova and finally the Fantastic Four, before getting blown up while controlling HERBIE the robot.
    • Iron Man in Marvel 100th Anniversary Special. Well, his Avengers incarnation, anyway - his Guardians of the Galaxy counterpart is a clone composed of nanites and Tony's brainwaves.
    • Tony Stark has been reduced to this at least twice in alternate timelines due to the machinations of villains. In Captain America Corps the altered timeline has him reduced to a brain and eyeballs in a glass cylinder by Superia, his intellect used to devise her weapons, with him begging for death. During a Dark Avengers arc that dealt with a pocket timeline controlled by A.I.M. the Tony of said timeline has long since been reduced to a brain in a flying sphere. He apparently keeps this secret from all his allies, who just assume he never takes off his armor anymore.
  • Medula from Molly Danger has a robotic body, with his brain in a jar full of green liquid located where his head would be.
  • A background villain in Powers Vol 1 #35 and #36 is a living skull in a jar.
  • The Savage Dragon features recurring villain Brainiape, who is this combined with psychic powers and Everything's Better with Monkeys... and whose occupant turns out to be the mutated, preserved brain of Adolf Hitler.
  • An album of Sillage features this being repeatedly used by an assassin on his marks. After defeating a target, he slices his head open and teleports his brain away in a previously prepared jar. This is intended as a way to both imprison and interrogate them since most of them are rather powerful and rich people. All of these persons being non-humans of various species, some with a Bizarre Alien Biology like an alien with an X-shaped head and four small brains require quite specific jars.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), after Dimitri is stripped of his Enerjak powers, he's put on heavy life support. Later, after being experimented on by Doctor Finitevus, his head is removed and placed in a floating bubble.
  • Star Wars Legends:: In the Tales of the Jedi series, a Jedi Master by the name of Ooroo is a brain-like, methane-breathing alien who must stay in his fishbowl as oxygen is lethal to him. His species, the Celegians, was given a name and some background for RPG; authors never saw a great use for them.
  • Superman:
    • During an early '90s story, Lex Luthor fakes his suicide and has his brain (along with spine and eyeballs) put in a vat from which it directs its very own transplant to a younger Luthor clone.
    • Late '80s Superman villain Hfuhruhurr was an alien who removed brains from living people and placed them in machines which psychically linked them together, creating a Hive Mind called "the Union" which possessed telepathic and telekinetic abilities.
    • The Unknown Supergirl reveals that in the Kryptonian city of Kandor, its greatest minds' brains are preserved in fluid-filled vats so they can keep coming up with new ideas for the Kandor's benefit.
      Kara: The brains of Kandor's geniuses are preserved in chemicals, so they can continue to create great ideas, after their bodies have died! The brains can actually "write" their thoughts!
    • In the Elseworld Superman & Batman: Generations, Lex Luthor is reduced to a brain in a jar after the Ultra-Humanite hijacks his body in the 1940s. He gets a robot suit powered by Kryptonite, becoming this universe's version of Superman villain Metallo. In Generations 3, he causes even more trouble by helping Darkseid's Parademons set off a bomb that shorts out modern technology, sending humanity into a dark age until they get back on their feet in the 23rd century.
  • In "Operation Friendship", in Tales from the Crypt #41, a genius who felt that he was losing his best friend to said friend's less-intellectual new wife removed about two-thirds of the guy's brain and kept it in a jar with a speaker attachment.
  • In Wacky Raceland, it's eventually revealed that the Announcer is Pat Pending's wife, who was reduced to this state after an accident in their lab. Unfortunately, this drove her insane in the process, and she decided to destroy the world for fun.
  • In the Wonder Woman '77 comics, based on the TV series, Gault's disembodied brain makes a return appearance.
  • One Horde scheme in Strikeforce: Morituri was to use attack robots driven by decapitated (yet screaming) human heads as Mooks against human forces.
  • Albert Einstein: Time Mason: In "Brain Game", Albert time travels to New Jersey in 2214 to battle a group of Pro-Oscalists who have stolen a brain in a jar. Specificcally, it's ALBERT'S brain.

    Comic Strips 
  • Several The Far Side cartoons played with this trope, including one where a Jan in the Pan-esque severed head begins screaming in horror at its circumstances, only to receive an anti-insanity slap from the mad scientist who created it. "Thanks, Professor, I needed that."
  • An ongoing story in Tom the Dancing Bug features the life of a disembodied brain in a vat. The brain's owner keeps it on his desk as a conversation piece and uses his desktop computer to feed it simulated sense data that leads it to believe it is an ordinary human living out a humdrum existence in the real world.

    Fan Works 
  • The true nature of Future Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series.
  • In The Power He Knows Not Is Voldemort stuck the brain of a mook who failed him in a glass globe attached to an eye and a large number of flytraps. The eye acted as a surveillance system while the plants supplied enough nutrients to keep the whole thing in operation.
  • Ask Brainy Twilight:
    • In which Twilight Sparkle turns herself into a brain in a jar for perfectly logical reasons.
    • Brainy Twilight once crossed over with Serious Rainbow to see if putting Serious's brain in a jar would override her Resurrective Immortality. The answer was no; it produces two Serious Rainbows, one's just a brain in a jar. She later takes the nickname Brainbow Dash and helps Derpy out in the lab. For the most part, Brainbow is happy with her life as a Brain in a Jar (except when she found out she could have had C-cups).
  • Left Beyond: Heavy Mech Troopers are a version of this, although usually the whole head is kept intact because rewiring eyes and ears is difficult and expensive.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos:
    • Lord Maledict. Despite being a Physical God, he's actually little more than a skull attached to a suit of power armor filled with liquid and rotting organs, and he has to use his powers to make himself look like a hedgehog to others.
    • Maledict's counterpart Allysion is an Altus Emerald in a Jar, holding her ghost inside it.
  • In Out of the Corner of the Eye, Ephraim Waite has been rendered as one of these, attached to a spider-like mech body, by the Mi-Go. He's perfectly content with this.

    Films — Animation 
  • Brain from Igor, though he has wheels and a robot hand so he can move around.
    "Legend has it when the smartest man in the world died, they put his brain in a jar. This is not that brain."
  • Mok's supercomputer in Rock & Rule looks like one of these, although not quite as easy on the eyes.
  • The Yolkians from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, although they're technically egg yolks in glass egg-shaped capsules.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Brain That Wouldn't Die (Actually a head in a pan, but close enough)
  • Another head in a pan (with exposed brain yet!) in The Frozen Dead.
  • Mars Attacks!!: A large, human like brain in a container is seen on the mothership.
  • Young Frankenstein:
    • Igor was sent to retrieve the brilliant Hans Delbruck's brain from the Brain Depository. Igor drops the jar containing the scientist's brain, and instead takes a different jar marked "ABNORMAL - DO NOT USE". After the monster reveals its true nature, Dr. Frankenstein asks Igor whose brain he put in the body. "Abby someone." "Abby who?" "Abby Normal."
    • In the German-dubbed version, this became: "I took the brain of a cleric, an abbot (Abt)." — "What abbot?" — "Abt Normal." By the way, as he mentions on the DVD, Mel Brooks had Frederick Frankenstein send Igor to fetch Hans Delbruck's brain because that would rhyme with "Mel Brooks' brain". So it is not a reference to the German politician and historian Hans Delbrück (1848-1929), father of the Nobel Prize-winning German-American biophysicist Max Delbrück (1906-1981).
  • RoboCop 2 shows Cain's brain literally in a jar, about to be transferred into a robot. With his eyes still attached, allowing him to see his face that's been cut off of his head.
  • Uncle Irvin in The City of Lost Children. A Deadpan Snarker Brain in a Jar. With migraines.
  • The B'omarr monks in Jabba the Hutt's temple-turned-hideout do this to themselves eventually, regarding it as the ultimate in sensory deprivation, enabling themselves to focus all their mental energy to meditation. When they need to move around, they can attach their brain-jars to spider-like sentry droids.
  • The uncle of the two murderous cannibals masquerading as vegetarian chefs in the weird horror-comedy Blood Diner is reduced to one of these (complete with eyeballs). He still orders them around to put together a body for some evil goddess out of all the girls they've killed. We said this was a weird film.
  • One of the characters in Tammy and the T-Rex ends up as a brain in a pan.
  • In the movie The Man with Two Brains, Steve Martin is a neurosurgeon who encounters and communicates with a lady's brain.
  • Tank Girl. According to one of the animated sequences, Tank Girl's tank is controlled by one of these.
  • For the premiere of Fiend Without a Face, the producers had one of the brain creature puppets displayed in a glass case at the theater. It was even rigged to wiggle around, and they claimed it was a real surviving "fiend" from the movie that had been captured.
  • The Whisperer in Darkness (2011), in which the alien Mi-Go plant living human brains in cylinders to transport them to other planets, which the human body apparently cannot withstand. The film ends with The Reveal that this happened to Albert Wilmarth himself, and the entire story he's been relating is a holographic projection coming from a brain in a can.
  • In Frankenstein Island, a human brain in a glass dome is essential part of Sheila and Van Helsing's aparatus. It provides the psychic link to Dr. Frankenstein on the other side of the veil, and allows him to provide the psychic energy that keeps Van Helsing alive and powers the army of guard zombies.
  • In the 1960 Mexican science fiction comedy Conquistador de la Luna (Conqueror of the Moon), the "Great Brain of Mars" (don't ask) is literally a giant brain in a jar, with an abstract art depiction of a Martian underneath him, and a voice box and an eye on a stalk to communicate.

  • One bad ending in the Star Challenge books has this happening to you. Your brain is inserted in an armor by an alien who says that he collects heroes' brains, as they're far easier to maintain.

  • "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1930) by H. P. Lovecraft is the Trope Codifier, in which the alien Mi-Go plant living human brains in cylinders to transport them to other planets, which the human body apparently cannot withstand.
  • In Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon, future humans engineer giant superintelligent brains kept in huge towers to help run the planet. Naturally these brains take over and destroy the humans. Later they engineer their own version of the human race and are naturally destroyed by their creations.
  • Boojum by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. Space Pirates raid a freighter that turns out to be carrying a cargo of Brain in a Jars in a black market trade with the above-mentioned Mi-Go. The Pirate Girl captain decides to sell them to the Mi-Go herself, only for swarms of them to turn up with lots of additional empty jars...
  • Larry Niven's short story "Becalmed in Hell" has a sans corpus fellow running a probe to the surface of Venus and contains a Shout-Out to the above book by naming the bodiless chap Donovan.
  • In Keith Laumer's Boloverse novel Bolo Rising (by William H. Keith, Jr.), the brain of the former commander of BOLO Mark XXXIII Mod HCT ("Hector") has been preserved by the alien !*!*! and connected to one of their battle fortresses. During the final battle, he manages to provide Hector and his new commander with critical data, as well as helping to subvert the !*!*! attack.
  • Simon Wright of the Captain Future universe almost is an archetypical brain in a jar. A distinguished but elderly scientist, he had his brain transplanted into an artificial case before his body gave out. At the beginning of the series, the case is immobile and has to be carried around by the Robot Buddy; later it gets an upgrade and is able to hover around under his direction.
  • The brainiacs in City of Devils and Wolfman Confidential are one of the many many kinds of monsters in the novel.
  • The Marquess of Watersford in The Curious Case Of Spring Heeled Jack ended up a brain in a jar, which was placed in the skull of an orangutan so that he can walk around. He gathers several morally ambiguous people this timeline's versions of Darwin, Galton, Florence Nightengale, Isambard Kingdom Brunel... it's a weird book with the intent of capturing Jack's time-suit so that he can go back in time and prevent the accident that trapped him in this state.
  • Cyber Joly Drim has saint Francises - perfectly normal citizens who lead perfectly productive lives on the Internet, while just happening to be brains in jars.
  • Deathstalker:
    • In this universe there exist psi-blockers, devices that espers using their powers in a given area. It is eventually revealed that Empress Lionstone had them created by extracting the brains from espers and sealing them in containers. The psychic screams of agony were what prevented espers using their abilities.
    • The later series replaced the original psi-blockers with genetically-cloned esper brains that could generate the same effects without the horror.
  • Discworld: An Igor in Making Money cites the invention of a "living brain extractor" as proof of a famous scientist's great achievements. Also as proof that the inventor was not mad, but what else can be expected of an Igor?
  • The first novel based on the Doom videogames had the Legions of Hell actually Hand Waved as genetically engineered scare-tactic bioweapons created by aliens who consist of huge brains in Giant Spider-like mobile carriers.
  • In the Drake Maijstral series by Walter Jon Williams, this is a fairly common solution for people on the verge of death. They generally have full access to the futuristic equivalent of the Internet but are usually still considered legally dead. Drake's father is one, and unfortunately, having his brain transferred to a jar didn't make him less curmudgeonly or less senile. Likewise, the current Emperor of the Khosali is a brain in a jar, because he didn't bear any heirs, but he does have frozen sperm on file. Unfortunately, the sperm was lost during the confusion of the human revolt, but the Khosali haven't given up hope of finding it.
  • EC Tubb's Dumarest of Terra series have the evil Cyclan led by an interconnected set of ancient brains in jars. They need a secret process entrusted to Dumarest to stop the brains from going mad.
  • The Legends of Dune prequels to the Dune series have brainjar villains riding around in giant war machines (just because they can), who cause the Butlerian Jihad through poor programming of their computerized inside "man" and wind up as minions/slaves themselves. Besides the Titans and the Cymeks (giant war machines: the Titans are the first generation leaders, the Cymeks their MechaMooks ), are the Cogitors, humans who gave up their bodies to spend millennia contemplating the mysteries of the universe. As a group, they have declared themselves neutral in the war where humanity is being exterminated like rats. In the end, those mysteries slap them in the face, karma is a bitch.
  • Emperor Mollusk Versus The Sinister Brain by A Lee Martinez: The Brain turns out to be part of an Ancient Conspiracy of such brains called the Council of Egos who want to take over the universe. They consist of all the great minds of human history (except Hitler, who got flushed for being too argumentative). Albert Einstein also turned down the offer, claiming the process had turned them into delusional megalomaniacs. The Council think this idea is so ridiculous they spend a good deal of time laughing maniacally over it.
  • Orson Scott Card once jokingly referred to this as a possible solution to Bean's condition in the Ender's Shadow series. He also expressed serious revulsion at the idea, so it is unlikely he will follow through with it.
  • Orson Scott Card's Wyrms features talking disembodied heads kept alive by some kind of leech.
  • Ypsilon/Duktig in PC Jersilds' En Levande Själ, who had the rest of his body amputated and his memory wiped.
  • Friends Come In Boxes by Michael G Coney: At age 40, people routinely have their brains scooped out and put in a young clone body. If there is a shortage of bodies, your brain will be put into a Friend Box, which will then be given to someone to look after. Friends can hear and speak... and that's all.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the gang runs into a room with several flying brains in jars while fighting their way through the Hall of Mysteries. Ron (who's punch drunk at the time) summons one of them and everyone, students and Death Eaters alike, stop fighting and turn to stare in horror. It promptly attacks him... with tentacles made of thoughts. The Department of Mysteries is a very strange place.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Left Brain, who replaces Eddie the Heart of Gold computer in And Another Thing..., is actually Zaphod's second head, put in a jar and connected to the ship.
  • In Dan Simmon's Hyperion Cantos, this is used by the Ousters on war prisoners on Bressia as a way to torture and interrogate them. Except that in The Fall of Hyperion, it is revealed that the Ousters had no hand in the atrocities commited on Bressia and it was all a setup by the Technocore AIs to paint the highly ethical and usually peaceful Ousters as ruthless monsters.
  • "Nightwings" by Robert Silverberg: Brain jars effectively serve as information storage systems.
  • Old Man's War:
    • The Colonial Union uses this as a punishment for treason, placing the brain in a life support case indefinitely. It is one of the things that some of the alien races find rather barbaric about the humans.
    • In The Human Division, it is revealed that someone is doing this to starship pilots, hooking their brains up directly to ships rigged for sneak attacks, in an effort to discredit the Colonial Union further.
    • The End of All Things: The Life of the Mind shows what happens when someone does this to a pilot who is also an expert computer programmer.
  • Occasionally seen in the Perry Rhodan universe, with both disembodied human brains (though usually those are given robot bodies at the very least) and alien ones — the 'Central Plasma' that governs the mostly-robotic Posbi species is basically one giant protoplasmic brain in a jar. One arc of the series even dealt with the abduction of the titular protagonist's brain into a distant galaxy; an android brain was substituted and operated his body for nefarious purposes while he tried to find his way back. (Good thing the civilizations of said galaxy had their own brain transplant technology as part of their quest to extend life, even if it did contribute to their acute overpopulation issues; so, plenty of disembodied donor brains around there, too.)
  • Keith Laumer's A Plague Of Demons, in which human brains are installed in alien war machines.
  • Professor Dowells Head by Alexamder Beliaev: A scientist reanimated his dying genius colleague's head to request, trick, or beat (as needed) ideas out of him. Professor Dowell knows that his position is horrific, but is not as bitter as he himself would expect. He believes it's because he lost most of his endocrine system, so he can't get truly enraged.
  • The Conjoiners in Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space series tend to opt for a brain-in-jar form of treatment when they're very old. However, their "jars" are mobile, crab like devices. The Demarchists also use this for their outer system police; a pilot joins up, his brain and spinal cord is removed and inserted into a small spacecraft, with a remote controlled drone for them to use when inspecting ships. When they're done with their term, their brain is inserted back into their body. In The Prefect, a Demarchist space station where citizens live in 24/7 virtual reality opts to put brains with the endocrine system in jars, because they found that without the endocrine system's hormones, people became very dull.
  • The VUXG in Sector General are described as looking like prunes floating in bottles of liquid. To compensate for their lack of physical anatomy, they have ludicrously powerful telepathy and telekinesis.
  • In Oblivion, third book of the Spaceforce series, the Chairman of the Fantasia Corporation turns out to have put his body in cryogenic suspension but kept his brain alive and active, so that he can still run his company via a holographic avatar.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The short story anthology Tales from Jabba's Palace reveals that the spiderlike droids seen in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi are mechanisms used for getting around by a group of monks who have chosen life as brains-in-jars. (You can actually see the jars on the undersides in the film if you know to look for them.)
    • Bib Fortuna, when a fellow Twi'lek and associate of his was slated to be fed to the Rancor, had the man's brain removed and stuck in one of the spider droids first. Bib believed that without a body Nat was going insane. The epilogue reveals that Bib Fortuna eventually joined him. The X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics reveal that Bib was still able to plot and get messages out; eventually yet another Twi'lek came to carry Bib off, heaping a lot of verbal abuse and using electric torture on the brain walker in the process. Later the other Twi'lek tried to ditch the walker, but Bib stowed away and, after the other Twi'lek was stabbed, managed to drag him back to the palace and the monks. Cut to the Twi'lek rising out of a bacta tank, and the attendant droid remarking on the loyalty of the brain droid, how it had insisted on having a restraining bolt fitted to it, and that the scars on the Twi'lek's head seemed to indicate a brain transfer. Devious, Bib. For someone with a "weak will", that's rather Magnificent. Part of a Twi'lek's brain is in his or her headtails, so a Twi'lek brain in a jar looks rather odd.
    • Galaxy of Fear: The Brain Spiders deals with this too. Jabba found a way to profit off brain spiders by transferring brains around, putting wanted criminal brains in monk or prisoner bodies, putting the displaced brains in jars or spiders, and turning the criminal bodies in for reward. Thanks to an intended monk escaping, one criminal ends up in 13-year-old Tash Arranda's body. He does not like being a girl, and she doesn't like being in a spider. Fortunately, that gets reversed.
    • Once Jabba dies, the monks went batshit with brain spider-ing, doing it to anyone who stayed in the palace. Most didn't want to, but one criminal, as revealed in the epilogue for "Tales From Jabba's Palace", went willingly because he was tired of living in the heat and he couldn't leave Tatooine.
  • The Takeshi Kovacs series by Richard K. Morgan features another twist on the cyberbrain sub-variant of this trope, in the form of "cortical stacks" implanted in every person's brain that basically serve as a mirror backup of the brain in question. Stacks can be transferred to other bodies ("sleeves") at will, transmitted across networks, mounted within VR constructs or simply stored to disk.
  • The space-faring slavers from Vernor Vinge's Tatja Grimms World kidnap people, remove their brains and then fit them to a computer that suppresses their personality without totally trashing their intellect. The result has computer speed and power with some human intuition and intelligence, forming a useful Wetware CPU.
  • That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis: A whole head this time, with an overgrown brain, plus air tubes to pass "breath" through the vocal cords and mouth allowing it to speak. And artificial drool. Though it's later revealed that the Head isn't really alive in its own right rather, it was the tool malevolent Energy Beings used to communicate with their pawns.
  • In Too Many Curses, one of the many captives left behind when the evil wizard Margle dies accidentally is what's left of his brother Yazpib, whom Margle defeated years before. Yazpib is slightly better off than usual for this trope, as his brain shares its jar with his eyes, teeth, and tongue, which can still see and speak as they float freely in their preservative.
  • Daniel Dennett's short story, "Where Am I" (read it here), about a man being separated from his brain, which explores relevant philosophical ideas.
  • William And Mary by Roald Dahl: Cold and dominating husband William is dying of cancer but has his brain and one of his eyes kept alive. It's presumed that his wife, Mary will torment him by doing all the things he forbade her in front of him, now that he's helpless. A TV version of this short story explicitly shows her doing just this.
  • A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, in which an oversized brain referred to as IT has gained complete telepathic control of an entire planet. IT runs the planet on a heartbeat which controls everyone's life. Despite being in a novel, so great is the influence of IT that the characters know how to capitalize the name.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Escape!": The Brain, US Robotics' supercomputer, gets its name from the fact that it uses a positronic brain as memory and processor. This brain is stored in a globe containing a non-reactive helium atmosphere, and a number of peripherals are hooked up to the globe.
    The Brain was a two-foot globe merely - one which contained within it a thoroughly conditioned helium atmosphere, a volume of space completely vibration-absent and radiation-free - and within that was that unheard-of complexity of positronic brain-paths that was The Brain. The rest of the room was crowded with the attachments that were the intermediaries between The Brain and the outside world - its voice, its arms, its sense organs.
  • The temporary fate of Peter Thompson from My Teacher Is an Alien, as recounted during his viewpoint novel "My Teacher Glows In The Dark." Played with in that the aliens did it with his permission so they could study how the human brain works and averted the whole And I Must Scream trope by inserting a recieving device in Peter's head so his brain could remotely control it (How else were they going to study it?). Peter does admit to both Susan and Duncan later as he recounts the tale that, while intellectually the whole idea was very fascinating, he couldn't get over the inherent Squick of seeing his brain outside his body enough to make his own observations.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The dying Anton Ivanov — an Evil Luddite who dislikes modern technology for being more software than hardware — demands that he not be saved by uploading his brain into an LMD body, saying he would rather die. AIDA complies with his dying wish to the letter. She doesn't touch his brain — she cuts off his head and puts it in a jar where he can control the LMD body remotely. He's a bit pissed upon waking up, but he seemingly gets over it, as by the end of the season he has made dozens of LMDs of himself and his head is controlling them all simultaneously.
  • Alien Worlds (2020): The Terran aliens have developed past the point of needing physical bodies, instead existing as large networks of neural tissue within life-support tanks.
  • Andromeda" AIs can't use their Faster-Than-Light Travel, relying on organics to get them to their destination within a century. To get around this, several automated systems are using Wetware AI systems such as this.
  • DAAS Kapital: The brain of Saint Peter shows up "Felicity", and is promptly corrupted by the All Stars.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Daleks in general. A Dalek is a cyborg that consists of an extremely reduced cephalopod-like mutant brain (which is actually the remains of their human-like ancestors, the Kaleds) fused to a metallic shell that acts as its body, life support, and combat/travel machine.
    • "The Keys of Marinus" features a race of brains in jars that are enslaving humans by giving them hallucinations of a nicer world than they're really in. Barbara smashes their jars with a stick.
    • Arcturus in "The Curse of Peladon" is a squeaky-voiced brain in a complicated life support system, and a surprisingly effective murderer considering his condition.
    • "The Brain of Morbius" features the titular brain as a miserable, paranoid, suicidal organ who feels his current existence is A Fate Worse Than Death and continually explains this loudly to the surgeon who put him in this state. It's supposed to be a temporary measure before Morbius can be placed in a body, but he's been stuck in there for years due to a lack of a suitable head donor. Until the Doctor arrives...
    • Lady Cassandra, from "The End of the World" and "New Earth", is a skin trampoline with two eyes and a mouth controlled by her jarred brain. In "New Earth" she transfers herself to living bodies, but this destroys her original brain so she can't go back.
    • "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel": The parallel universe Cybermen are brains transplanted into a mechanical suit of armour. The suit represses the brain's emotions, since the brains tend to react poorly to being in their jar.
    • In "Last of the Time Lords", the Master conquers the Earth with the help of the Toclafane, an alien race of cyborgs encased in a small, spherical shell. The true identity of the Toclafane is a major plot point (and point of horror): they're the last remnants of humanity from hundreds of trillions of years into the future, who turned themselves into a race of hive-minded, child-like sociopaths in order to survive the heat death of the universe. Why would they slaughter their own ancestors? Because it's FUN!
    • In "The Return of Doctor Mysterio", the alien invasion takes the form of brains in jars seeking human hosts.
  • Lexx. Subverted in that the brains of the former His Divine Shadows somehow don't need jars in order to survive.
  • "Mr. Newman" of the short-lived series Now and Again spent some time as a brain in a jar after getting hit by a train but before getting his new Supersoldier body.
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000, Brain Guy had his brain in a dish... that his body was carrying. He claimed that his species had evolved beyond the need for a body, despite the obvious helplessness of the exposed organ without a body to carry it around. Several skit gags involved separating his brain from its body or adulterating the brain dish with Mountain Dew or similar to get a funny reaction.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • This is the ultimate fate of Lister in "Out of Time", where the future versions of the main cast visit via a Time Drive the characters had only recently found by that point. However this is initially kept a secret from present-day Lister, and present-day Kryten, the secret keeper, is on the point of tears when he finds out, leading Lister to believe that he had been killed instead.
    • Lister also mentioned in "Balance of Power" that his uncle's brain was in a jar and that it was really sad, as he wasn't dead yet.
  • Wonder Woman: In the episode "Gault's Brain", the titular Gault's Brain was a brain-in-a-jar villain with floating eyeballs and telekinesis.

  • Country music singer James Bonamy had a song called "Brain in a Jar".
  • One of the tabloid headlines mentioned in "Midnight Star" by "Weird Al" Yankovic is "They're keeping Hitler's brain alive inside a jar".
  • In the song "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" by the Mountain Goats, the narrator fears that beings from beyond the stars are coming to put our brains in mason jars (a reference to Lovecraft's Mi-Go).
  • "Lost in the New Real" by Arjen Lucassen ends with this, from the first track to near the end it appears the main character has been brought back to life through mad science, only for the Brain in a Jar reveal during the final track.
  • "Lucky Day Overture" by Tom Waits from The Black Rider describes several freak show artists with deformities. Tom plays a circus promoter promising "human oddities" among them Hitler's brain.
  • The song "Think Tank" by Consortium of Genius is about several of these.

  • Bally's Xenon depict robots on the playfield with transparent skulls, with their organic-looking brains clearly visible inside.
  • Appropriately enough, the Edutainment Game The Brain has a replica of a human brain inside the cabinet.

  • The Big Bad of the BBC series Earthsearch are AN.G.E.L. (Ancillary Guardians of Environment and Life) One and Two, the organic Master Computers of the Challenger, who look like this trope in appearance (at least in the novelisations — in the radio series they're described as two racks of integrated wetware). Unfortunately, such organic computers have a tendency towards megalomania.

    Tabletop Games 
  • As the Trope Codifier, in Call of Cthulhu this is the usual fate of anybody who gets on the wrong side of Mi-Go. That's not to say they did it to you because you pissed them off; they just kill you. No, they slice out your brain and put it in a jar if they like you. The resulting brain cylinder can survive in Yuggoth's hostile atmosphere and be plugged into external devices allowing it to "see", "hear" and speak, but being sapient fungus monsters with a radicaly different physiology from humans, Mi-Go don't have the best grasp of human senses.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Mind Flayers, aka the Illithid race has as the leaders Elder Brains. Gigantic Brains in Jars. With Psionic powers. These are created from the brains of a few illithids first to die in a colony and others are added to the pool later when possible, as a sort of immortality. They can also do this to mortal brains with particularily interesting thoughts (that aren't eaten). This whole trope is basically their hat.
    • Various undead supplements have provided more normal-sized brains in jars, like here for example.
    • Ravenloft got a brain in a jar, salvaged alive from an accident victim by Dr. Frankenstein Expy, it's a mind-controlling criminal mastermind in Dementlieu.
    • Forgotten Realms has mind flayers of Oryndoll storing many brains of those they thought knew too much, alive and available for telepathic probing as a "library". Presumably, their own divine Elder Brain could absorb all this, but then it would be pestered with unimportant questions.
    • Dungeon magazine #44 adventure "Raiders of the Chanth". The Chanth is a giant brain that is the magical combination of the brains of a man, a dwarf, an elf, a halfling and a thri-kreen. It exists inside a sphere of glass under the effect of a Glassteel spell. It is extremely dangerous due to its extensive psionic powers.
  • The Pathfinder adventure module Wake Of The Watchers features a "brain archive" containing several of these.
    • Part of the "Reign of Winter" Adventure Path takes place on Earth circa 1918, where the party will encounter brain-driven Mk. V tanks.
  • Gamma World. Borgs, Permanent Cybernetic Installations and Think Tanks in 1st Edition. Borgs in 2nd Edition.
  • GURPS:
    • The game has a disadvantage called "No Physical Body" which turns you into this. You're immobile and anybody who interacts with you is likely to recoil in horror. So it kinda sucks, except that it gives you a ton of character points you can spend on magic/psionic powers or other mental abilities.
    • One of the vignettes in GURPS Magic Items 3 is about a brain trying to hire Humphrey Bogart to find his body.
  • Mutants & Masterminds:
    • The game had one as a sample villain.
    • Second edition had it as a potential villain archetype.
    • First edition, using the META-4 universe, had the Atomic Brain who was a former Manhattan Project researcher whose brain survived the explosion of an experiment. A combination of resentment at Oppenheimer taking credit for the atomic bomb and frustration over a lack of limbs led to the Atomic Brain becoming a supervillain. However, Atomic Brain's... brain... floated above his robotic body.
  • Full-conversion Cyborgs in Rifts are basically brains and a few vital organs wired into a robotic body.
  • Shadowrun
    • Supplement Threats 2, section "Halberstam's Babies". The evil scientist Dr. Halberstam continues his experiments by extracting the brains of children and storing them in containers, then connecting them to the Matrix and training them to be super deckers.
    • Supplement Aztlan:
      • Thomas Roxborough, a major shareholder in Aztecnology, is currently a mass of undifferentiated protoplasm (including his brain). Sort of a "cancer in a jar".
      • Aztechnology is rumored to be working on biocomputers - computers based on human brains floating in a vat of electrolytes.
    • This is how full cyborg conversion works.
  • Star Frontiers module SF1 Volturnus, Planet of Mystery. The slavebots in the Sathar Artifact are controlled by a Sathar's brain which is in a large fluid-filled flask. The flask is connected to a radio with wires.
  • Eclipse Phase: Transhuman introduces the Brain Box enhancement, an organic human brain in a box that contains a small life-support system, and which is usually mounted in a robot body. It's favored by characters who like the durability of a synthmorph, but are paranoid about brainhacking or want to use Psychic Powers.

    Video Games 
  • The Evil Within: Ruvik was reduced to this at the hands of Mobius. It's explained that he had rigged STEM to only activate when his brain was connected to it and destroyed the notes that would let them rebuild it otherwise, so he could keep his private fantasy world generator all to himself. Mobius instead went, "Hey, we just need your brain" and ripped it out and attached it. Unfortunately, Ruvik's brain is more conscious and in control of the dream world than they thought it would be, so STEM is still nothing but a useless reality-warping nightmare-generator.
  • The protagonist of The Daedalus Encounter is grievously wounded in the intro cutscene, and revived as a "brain in a box" remote-controling a flying probe with a manipulator arm.
  • Edna & Harvey: The Breakout: Bobo, who gets stored in a shelf in a psychiatric clinic.
  • Metroid:
    • Mother Brain, a re-occurring final boss, is just a brain in a tank in Metroid, guarded by various gun turrets and organic barriers. It is supposedly a biological supercomputer.
    • In Super Metroid, once it is defeated, it rises up again attached to an insanely powerful T-rex-like robot body.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption features the Aurora Units, which are also brain-like organic supercomputers in large tanks. There's even been some theories on how they may be related to Mother Brain in some way, fueled by the very large number of Mother Brain references made both in-game and in supplementary material but never fully elaborated upon as far as direct connections go.
    • The security robot B.O.X. in Metroid Fusion contains a brain in its cybermechanical spider-like body. The fact that it has a nonmechanical brain doesn't seem to have any specific practical applications as far as robotics goes. However, it serves as a justification for the robot fighting Samus: a semi-organic robot being infected by the X-Parasites makes more sense than some random security robot that spontaneously goes rogue in the midst of a hostile takeover by an alien virus.
  • Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys: All the alien brain thingys are contained in jars that they use for mobility.
  • The Clockwork King in City of Heroes is a Brain in a Jar mounted on a mechanical frame he operates telekinetically.
  • Champions Online has the villain "The Overbrain", which floats around in his jar with telekinesis, and attacks the player with psychic blasts. There are also clones of it made by another villain that serve as small mooks. The goal of the mission that pits the player against The Overbrain is to release yet another, larger brain that's being kept prisoner in a jar by the villain. Of note is that The Overbrain is an obvious parody of Doom Patrol's villain "The Brain", complete with second-in-command talking ape.
  • The Clinical Immortality secret project from Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. Though this technically included the spinal column, and eyes. The movie gets its chills from the eyes just staring at you. The Bioenhancement Center facility, when constructed, gives you the page quote.
  • Fallout:
    • Across all Fallout games is the Robobrain, a robot that has an organic brain as a CPU - notable in the fact that none of the brain's original thoughts are present (it is said that the brains used range from Chimpanzees to Humans).
    • In Fallout Tactics, Vault 0 is run by the Calculator combined with a series of if brains in jars, supposedly from the best and brightest, though as a joke the brains seem rather shallow—the politician, for example, is clearly modeled on Bill Clinton, and there's a porn star brain. In order to win the game you have to destroy all the brains and then confront the Calculator, who offers you the chance to join your own brain to it and thereby bring order to the chaos of the Calculator's damaged mind. General Barnaky, already a brain in a jar on top of a robot, also offers himself. Depending on what kind of game you played, or whether you take up one or other offer or refuse it and just let the counter run down, the game ending changes.
    • Skynet from Fallout 2. Although he's technically an AI that wants to conquer the world, you bring him out into the world through a cybernetic brain inside a Brain Bot. You can also end up bringing a Chimp or normal human brain instead, but that isn't quite as good. Or you can use an abnormal brain, which will render him The Load, too stupid to do anything but carry items (including comprehending that it's been fired). The only way to get this version of Skynet out of your party (thus making room for someone actually useful) is to kill it.
    • Fallout 3:
      • Point Lookout features Professor Calvert, who uses telepathy to set himself up as the god of a group of Tribals and plans to turn all of the Point's residents into his slaves. The end of the DLC's main questline presents a literal example of this trope since you are able to obtain a piece of your own brain in a jar which had been removed by the tribals during ritual lobotomy.
    • Fallout: New Vegas: the Fetch Quest "Nothin' but a Hound Dog" involves help The King get medical help for his pet cyberdog, Rex. You find out that the life support for his brain has been damaged, and while it can be repaired, his brain was permanently damaged and has to be replaced. Successfully completing the mission getting a new brain for Rex from one of three dog trainers.
      • Also, most of the DLC Old World Blues involves this trope:
      • The Think Tank, who are a group of Pre-War Mad Scientists who put their brains in floating robots with monitors for eyes and mouths.
      • This also happens to the Player Character in this DLC as well. When you first arrive at the Think Tank your brain is extracted and replaced with cybernetic parts intended to allow your body to continue to function for simple slave labor. Somehow, as a result of a combination of an old head wound and a freak scientific accident, you retain coherent thought, even though your brain is elsewhere, allowing your "mind" to be in two places at once, with your brain being treated as a separate entity. Yeah, Old World Blues is weird.
      • Your brain in Old World Blues can also be considered an entirely separate character, as it's floating in mentats, and therefore has gained separate thought from the player character, meaning you can have a conversation with it. Due to the mentat saturation, it's incredibly intelligent, usually more so than the PC. It finds your quest for vengeance against Benny ill-advised and constantly berates you, despite technically being you, especially with low INT. You can flirt with it using certain perks, which it is disgusted by.
      • There's also the K9000, a minigun powered by the brain of a dog. It'll even bark, whine and growl and includes cybernetic ears and noses.
    • Fallout 4
      • The Automatron DLC introduces Robobrains to the game, as well as a more in-depth look into their creation- Robobrains were originally created by General Atomics for both military and civilian use, but many of the brains were taken from death row criminals. Those who survived went insane from complete sensory deprivation, whereas those who had all their memories and personality wiped became coldly logical, believing the best way to "save" people was to kill them.
      • The Nuka-World DLC has John-Caleb Bradberton, the creator of Nuka Cola and the titular theme park, whose cryogenically-preserved head can be found in a secret chamber underneath the park. After 200+ years of being isolated, he wishes only for someone to deactivate his life support so he can finally die.
  • Kingdom of Loathing allows you to fight the Brainsweeper, a Brain In A Jar that is powering a set of brooms. (For Science!) It Randomly Drops a Disembodied Brain in a jar, which you can use to Frankenstein together a chef, bartender, maid, or a few other things.
  • In Brain Dead 13, the Mad Scientist villain is one of these.
  • The alien mastermind in X Com UFO Defense.
  • Doctor Brackman of Supreme Commander made himself into a brain in a jar to stay alive after his nominal death. One thousand years of constant warfare later, and he's still going strong as the leader and father of the Cybran Nation.
  • In No More Heroes, the #5 ranked Letz Shake controls what looks like a super collider powered by a brain in a jar.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, when Dr. Letz Shake comes back for the 10th ranked battle, it is revealed that he is the brain-powered earthquake generator. It's hinted that this is the same Letz Shake from the first game after an Emergency Transformation.
  • Psychonauts. Later in the game, the campers and teachers of a summer camp for psychics have their brains stolen by the Big Bad, who puts them into jars and uses them to make an army of deadly psychic tanks. Collecting all these 19 or so brains is a sidequest (each brain you find adds to your maximum HP).
  • Several enemies in the Quake series, notably the Parasites, the Flyers, and the Technicians, the latter who is a literal brain-in-a-jar controlling a flying-saucer-like machine.
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, Yuri keeps several brains in jars to research psychic technology. In the Soviet campaign, he uses them to cheat death by uploading his mind into one of them. Then in the Expansion Pack there is a very literal think tank aptly called "Mastermind", which is a big Brain in a Jar (or maybe multiple brains smashed together) and can mind control a theoretically unlimited number of enemy units, but after a certain amount it overloads and starts ripping itself apart.
  • The protagonist of Dead Head Fred is killed and reanimated in this form at the beginning of the game, though he is at least attached to his original body. His... predicament lets him switch his head with other things, each with their own gameplay uses.
  • F-Zero has Deathborn. It's the only part of his body still remaining after being reconstructed 3 times.That includes his Soul.
  • The Sims: Busting Out had a brain in a jar as furniture. In fact, said furniture is involved in one of the challenges.
  • Streets of Rage 3 has the recurring villain, Mr. X, show up as a brain in a tube. He still wishes to rule the city.
    Zan: Face it, Mr. X. Dr. Dahm is no longer with you. Do you expect to run the city from a glass vial?
    Mr. X: Of course, traitor. Let me show you how! (Robo-Y flies into the room)
  • The BioDerm (artificially cloned/grown human pilot) "Mentor" in MissionForce: Cyberstorm is one of these, an experiment meant to test the feasibility of direct neural link to a HERC. It works — Mentor is scarily competent — but the tradeoff is a very short lifespan.
  • In Contra III: The Alien Wars, Red Falcon can be reduced to this. Of course, being a disembodied, floating brain only makes him deadlier, as he can then use a variety of psychic weapons and (in Hard mode) a metallic, armored sheath with octopus-like tentacles.
  • Shin Megami Tensei's interpretation of Omoikane, Shinto goddess of wisdom and intelligence, depicts "her" as a disembodied brain with eyes and several dozen feelers.
  • A brain in a jar is the whole point of the game Cortex Command. Sometimes, it's hanging in a bunker, and sometimes it's on a robotic exoskeleton and can move, though it's fragile and if it dies, you fail. In fact, the introduction video implies that most if not all space-dwelling humans have become brains in jars; the fact that they're brains is what allowed them to travel through space, not needing things like "beds" or "solid food". The only visibly human mercenaries (Ronin) are known to be clones, with botched clones becoming zombies.
  • The second Freedom Force game has 'Eyes of the Reich', which are (you guessed it) Nazi Brains in Jars with Frickin' Laser Beams.
  • Joe Musashi from the Shinobi games had to deal with B.I.A.Js quite a few times in his missions. In The Revenge of Shinobi a stage taking place aboard a huge military transport ended with a Boss Battle against a Brain in a Jar that actually controlled the transport. In Shinobi 3 one of the missions takes place in a biowarfare lab where he would deal with Brains that broke out of their jars, Brains with Wings, and at the end, a Brain in a Dalek-esque battle machine.
  • Ghost Master features a ghost of a brain in a jar.
  • In The House of the Dead: OVERKILL, this is the final fate of Faux Action Girl Varla Guns.
  • Pun-based example: An Animaniacs spin-off game for PC has this as a final boss: The Brain mounted in a jar and controlling the Think Tank. Notably, this wasn't his idea.
  • The Mission Impossible (1990) NES game. The second-to-last room in the Very Definitely Final Dungeon has its walls lined with brains and hearts in life-support tanks. It's even scarier when you realize how much effort it took to get there, and that nothing else in the game hints that the Sinister 7 were creating bio-weapons.
  • The Big Bad of Gotcha Force, the Galactic Emperor. Not so much a "in a jar" as "in an energy field"... mounted on a spaceship the size of a continent; the brain itself is about the size of a country.
  • The Big Bad of Space Station Silicon Valley turns out to be a Brain in a Jar called... the Evil Brain. It taunts EVO while spraying the Earth with the Doomsday-O-Matic Shrinky Ray, but is easily destroyed with EVO's laser. However, it turns out that the Evil Brain was driving the space station, which subsequently crashes into the now-shrunken Earth, and the REAL final battle is a search-and-destroy mission in which you must exterminate all of the robotic animals that escaped from the station before they destroy the miniaturized city, and then the world.
  • In the first episode of Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, the titular duo encounter a disembodied alien brain named Gordon on General Skun-ka'pe's ship. As suggested by the title of episode three, "They Stole Max's Brain!", Max ends up spending some time as one of these.
  • The Deadly Brain in Oni.
  • Operator's Side: Also known as Lifeline: Rio's father, whom she had thought dead, has become this. His brain was recovered and was being used to further research into the Philosopher's Stone. Major, major Tear Jerker moment when Rio finds out and he asks to be shut down.
  • The first Pajama Sam game has one in the laboratory. Clicking it causes it to take out a sheet of paper and read a poem:
    "I float and I think
    and I think and I think
    About walking or driving a car
    Or riding a bike
    And I think and I float
    Because I'm just a brain in a jar"
  • Tampo, the first boss of Stinkoman 20X6, is first seen as a mechanized Brain in a Jar that was destroyed by Stinkoman prior to the game's first level. The level ends with Tampo's brain coming back to get Stinkoman for revenge.
  • One of the bosses of Metal Slug 6 is a humongous brain with eyeballs in a jar... on top of an equally huge alien mecha. It's one of the hardest boss fights in the game.
  • These appear as enemies in EarthBound Beginnings.
  • The Mad Scientist Dr. NoBody from Secret Agent is one of these, on top of a robotic body.
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Desperado Enforcement takes kidnapped children and harvests their brains, with the eyes and spinal column attached, as a first step in their Unwilling Roboticisation.
  • The Neural Network Computer in Elemental Gearbolt is a group of interconnected brains in tall glass tubes. It doesn't like brain-in-a-jar life, and creates weapons as a means of self-destruction — the titular Elementals.
  • Cel Damage has Brian, a brain and spinal cord stored inside a jar. He also wears glasses and has robotic arms.
  • Voltar the Omniscient from Awesomenauts.
  • The first form of Supreme Overlord Jergingha from The Wonderful 101.
  • One of the randomly generated rooms in Spooky's House of Jump Scares has a brain floating in a jar. Initially, this was just an aesthetic until one of the later updates has the brain give you a code you can use on the out of order arcade cabinet that would play a small clip revealing Spooky's past.
  • In Creature Crunch, Wesley's main ally is a floating brain in a jar named Brian.
  • In the Ratchet & Clank franchise, the B2 Brawler and Scorpio are giant robots with giant organic brains inside them.
  • Muv-Luv: in Unlimited, there is a human brain and spinal column kept in a tube in a secret lab in the military base. Almost nothing is revealed about it in that game however. In Alternative, it's revealed that it was recovered from a BETA Hive along with several others. Why the BETA were removing human brains and hooking them up to organic life support systems is unknown. However, what's more relevant to Takeru is that the brain in the lab is in fact all that remains of that world's Sumika. It's eventually placed in a robot body, allowing Sumika to live again... though she has extensive trauma to overcome first (turns out those people were conscious when their brains were removed and while sitting in the jars).
  • Cosmic Star Heroine has a Unique Enemy that is a brain in a dome controlling a vehicle that shoots missiles. Interestingly, the brain is robotic too.

    Web Comics 
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Just about all of the original Toughs (except Schlock) end up as heads in jars after the 2001 Schlocktoberfest storyline. This gives the frequently disembodied Der Trihs a sense of deja vu.
    • Moreover, that anyone injured badly enough would end up with their head in a jar and with a few punchlines at their expense (usually by Ennesby, embittered over not having a body in the first place) was a running theme, especially earlier in the comic's run. Full-body regeneration has also been used since as a plot device, as once you get started there's really no need to regenerate a body EXACTLY like your old one. If your vanity or your job demands require a physical upgrade, well, here's your chance! More muscle (Nick), more height (Elf), less fat (Thurl and Xinchub), you can have a whole new you from the shoulders down. Why don't people do it all the time, then? It's expensive.
  • Supertron: Supertron (actually named Simon)'s father is basically a brain in a jar, which also houses his eyes, intestines, and other organs.
  • In Narbonic, the Alternate Future version of Helen Narbon is a brain in a large vat.
  • Nick Zerhakker in the spin-off Skin Horse is one of these as well, installed in a V-22 Osprey. As of "The Iron Man" Nick has lost the helicopter but gained a clone of his human body, though he'd come to see his helicopter chassis as his "real body" by then.
  • Adolf Hitler is a brain in a jar in the LEGO photocomic Irregular Webcomic!:
    • At one point he builds a supercomputer out of a bunch of cloned Hitler jar-brains wired together.
  • A Brain in a Jar alien makes an appearance in this Sluggy Freelance strip, with the added twist that the creature's brain is divided into a right and left side, each in separate jars.
    Alien: You just ate the left side of our brain, the one that handles all logic. I'm the abstract right side! I think I'll go paint my emotions now! Oooh! Something shiny!
  • In Homestuck, Dave comes across the alchemy combination that makes Dave's Brain In A Jar during his experiments with Item Crafting. It's too expensive for him to make because the organ is virtually inimitable, but he uses the code in alchemy to make the SBAHJifier camera.
  • In this The Order of the Stick strip, Xykon references Brain in a Jar transformations as a method to avoid death. Though he makes it clear that he wouldn't become one unless he had to.
  • In Minion Comics, Hitler's head is seen in a jar attached to a giant rampaging gorilla.
  • The super-villain Dr. Haynus from Greystone Inn and its sequel comic Evil, Inc. is a disembodied brain in a jar. As he is on top of a living puppy with a mind of his own, Haynus unfortunately feels the humiliation of not having control over its actions: Anyone can get rid of Haynus by simply using a ball or cookies.
  • The entire Baro race from Marooned is brains in jars, uploaded into the Mother Brain upon death.
  • Spacetrawler: They show up in the spacetrawler construction facility.
  • Girl Genius: Anevka Sturmvoraus is basically one of these, although her container is much larger than a typical jar, and is attached via cables to a robot "clank" through which she can interact with the world. And it is eventually revealed that the brain died long ago and the robot is unknowingly operating itself via the deceased's imprinted personality. Later, the "whole head in a jar" variant is done to a particularly high-ranking Mook so that he can be kept safely alive and in custody while being pumped for information, and references have been made to doing the same to other characters (or inability to do so, owing to the lack of a head). In general, it seems to be a well-known, if maybe not exactly common, practice.

    Web Original 
  • Thomas Mallory, a disembodied head that remains alive in the basement of the Miskatonic University after a failed body transplant, and communicates via e-mail with the son of a wealthy farmer and politician from West Africa, but becomes aware of a conspiracy to sabotage his life support. Actually, the entire thing is just an internet-goer messing with a Four One Nine Scammer.
  • The late Usenet personality Gharlane of Eddore always depicted himself as being a brain in a jar.
  • According to Marshall Brain, we'll likely all choose to be this way in a few decades.
  • SCP Foundation
    • Log of Anomalous Items. One entry is a human brain floating in a vat of nutrient solution. The vat can move around and has a speech synthesizer and a camera. The brain claims itself to be Zargox Quaglofan, a 23rd-century secret agent on a time travel mission to prevent the creation of the Insectoid Empire in 1976.
    • SCP-748 ("Industrial Dissolution"). The SCP-748 facility is controlled by the brain of its creator, which is stored in a vat. Nearby are 200 lobotomized human brains contained in glass cylinders filled with a green liquid. They act as auxiliary memory for the controlling brain.
    • SCP-1637 ("The Army of the Future"). SCP-1637-3B is a warbot that is controlled by an "adult human brain suspended in a translucent green oxygenated protein/glucose soup."
    • SCP-2099 ("Brain in a Jar"). SCP-2099 is the brain of Jeremy Valdez, which floats in a glass jar filled with water, green food coloring, artificial flavoring, sugars, and electrolytes. The Foundation is unsure if that's what's actually keeping Jeremy alive, or if that's what he thought would be aesthetically pleasing. It uses devices (such as a robot and mechanical hands) to manipulate objects.
  • The Batteries in The Mercury Men (beings who are in control of the Mercury Men) are brains in jars.
  • As seen in this ironic Teach the Controversy T-shirt featuring a chipper Walt Disney
  • In Twig, it's eventually revealed that Jamie's Photographic Memory is actually the result of being an interface for a huge collection of these.
  • According to Pat R's series of articles on the Final Fantasy series, when an intern suggested the Job System during the development of Final Fantasy III, Hironobu Sakaguchi (the creator of the series) responded by pausing blankly, heaping rewards on him, then chloroforming him and putting his brain in a jar so that Squaresoft would never be without his genius. The article goes on to describe some of the brain's other accomplishments, before its tragic downfall at the hands of the designer of Final Fantasy II.
  • Whateley Universe: Not surprisingly, Devisors have done this several times, to themselves or others.
    • While not a Devisor himself, the student Psike, a PDP and one of the senior Bad Seeds in the 2006 stories, was 'rescued' by other students in this manner after an accident destroyed his body. He claims to prefer this, being contemptuous of ordinary 'meat bags', but does decide he needs a human body he can control remotely in order to take care of things his mind control, telekinesis, and sterling personality can't.
  • Team Four Star revisits the World's Strongest movie from Dragon Ball Z, where it doesn't hurt that having a minimum of visible animation, movement and dialogue, the movie's villain has a serious different character as a confused old scientist who spends most of the production watching Dr. Kochin go about committing horrible, Stupid Evil plans to give him a new body. (He cites the fact that he's "a brain in a jar" to say that he's not the one controlling someone in a fight; Goku just takes this as direct confirmation of villainy — "So you admit it!")

    Western Animation 
  • Big Bad Mother Brain in Captain N: The Game Master, as the name implies, is a giant brain in a jar, with a face.
  • The Dexter's Laboratory Made-for-TV Movie "Ego Trip" has Mandark turned into a brain in a jar following his defeat by 4 Dexters from different ages... and Dee Dee's intervention.
  • Hector Con Carne's Brain in Evil Con Carne. Variation in that his stomach also is in a jar... and developed its own sentience. And both are occupying the body of a Russian circus bear named Boskov who can still act on his own despite his brain being replaced with Hector's. It's a weird show.
  • Count Duckula has The Egg, esentially the bird version of the trope, a supervillain that hates everyone alive as he was never able to hatch. Yes, is a literal egg connected to a machine.
  • Eek! The Cat episode Eek's International Adventures is a spy film parody and features a villain named The Brain, made of a brain, eyes, teeth and an ear in different jars.
  • Futurama:
    • The show had the heads of various 19th-21st-century personalities preserved in jars, including Richard Nixon, who eventually became president again through Exact Wordsnote . Used more for comedy and satire than creepiness. It was never explained exactly how, say, George Washington's head could have been preserved in the first place. Also, the main antagonists of several episodes are flying brains outside of their jars.
    • Done to an extent in "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", where Bender's personality and intelligence are downloaded into a floppy disk.
    • Inverted with Earth President Nixon's vice president, Spiro T. Agnew, who is a headless body.
    • They eventually Hand Waved the process as being a form of limited time travel; by incorporating some kind of powdered opal into the fluid heads are kept in, they create a tiny bubble in which the heads are perpetually in the time period during which they were alive. Presumably, a certain amount of cloning is involved for certain heads as well.
  • In the "Morphic Trilogy" of The Venture Bros. it's revealed that Jonas Venture Sr. was ejected into space during the Gargantua-1 disaster, and the other members of Team Venture put him into a life-prolonging machine he built but were only able to preserve his head after they dropped his frozen body. They thought it didn't work until he revealed himself to be alive by trying to communicate through the VenTech Tower's systems.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): After starting out as a human, Baxter Stockman's Serial Prostheses eventually leaves his brain as his only organic part. The Shredder, of all villains, quips that "You should have quit while you were a head." Also, in the Fast Forward episode "The Journal", the turtles read about future events in their lives, including Donatello being reduced to a brain in a jar... with a mask on. The journal is then revealed to be a hoax.
  • In The New Adventures of Speed Racer episode "B.O.S.S." the titular computer is revealed to be the disembodied brain of inventor Pavel Masterson.
  • The Fairly OddParents: In "Future Lost", the evil brain that aspired to take over had a strange weakness - put juice pills in its tank, and it would get a Brain Freeze. They also dumped some ice into it, making a giant slushie. Also, every Yugopotamian has their brain clearly visible in a glass dome on their heads.
  • In Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, while the Star Command employs the Little Green Men seen in Toy Story, Zurg's minions are brains in jars (who frequently mention this situation when the boss complains).
  • The GoBots in Challenge of the GoBots are brains in cyborg bodies.
  • Mr. Burns in The Simpsons ends up as one of these in "Rosebud", attached to a robot body (but still fond of his teddy bear.)
  • The Brain from the Doom Patrol comics as listed above appears as the Big Bad in the last season of the Teen Titans animated series. Beast Boy was able to make a pun on The Brain's defeat:
    Beast Boy: Hey, check it out! [flash-freezes The Brain] Brain Freeze!
  • The Brain has also appeared on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, and Young Justice, voiced by Corey Burton (spouting Gratuitous French in both incarnations).
  • Tactical Commander Owen Negata from Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. A BETA research scientist and tactician, he was killed in the Supertrooper Riot (though we don't learn this until later). What was left of him can fit into a little jar attached to a 1.5 meter by one meter repulsorlift platform. Zozo is rather shocked by it.
    Zozo: That's Commander Negata?!
    Waldo: His brain unit. His body died years ago.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Jimmy and Beezy accidentally knocking the brain out of their favorite soccer player's head. By the end of the episode, Beezy still hasn't given it back, keeping it in a jar among his memorabilia.
  • Modulok tries to do this to Man-At-Arms in "Happy Birthday Roboto", though he's actually using the second head that came with his toy in the episode instead of a jar.
  • There are two on display at the Mystery Shack in Gravity Falls.
  • Mr. Freeze in the DCAU is eventually reduced to this after his condition worsens. He was able to slow it down with the aid of some kidnapped scientists, but by that point, he had already lost everything from the neck down. To make things worse, his condition has also made him The Ageless. By the time of Batman Beyond, he's still alive... as a disembodied head stuck in a glorified meat locker. He's later given a healthy body, but snaps and returns to his villainous ways before dying in one final rampage.
  • Spoofed in Plastic Man with villain The Clam, is a literal clam that commands an evil organization and needs help for everything.
  • On Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko buys a vacuum cleaner. When he tries to shut it off, a brain under a glass or plastic dome with wires attached to it comes up out of the control panel, and won't allow him to shut it off.
  • In the Sealab 2021 episode "Return to Oblivion", a brain in a jar named J.J. is the head of the company that produces Sealab. He has two other brains in jars to be his yes brains.

    Real Life 
  • Animats or Cultured Neuronal Networks are almost a Real Life version of this trope, almost being that they aren't complete brains (and usually animal neurons).
  • Averted by Mary Roach, author of Stiff, a nonfiction book about cadavers. Investigating the possible fates which await deceased human bodies, Roach considered donating her own to Harvard's medical school, in hopes of becoming a brain in a jar. To her disappointment, she learned that human brains preserved there for medical and scientific research are kept in plastic food containers, which hardly seemed worth it.
  • Dr. Albert Einstein requested in his will that his brain be removed for study and the rest of his body cremated. The brain is currently spread across multiple jars and a few dozen microscope slides.
  • According to the Boltzmann brain hypothesis, if one considers the probability of our current situation as self-aware entities embedded in an organized environment, versus the probability of stand-alone self-aware entities existing in a featureless thermodynamic "soup", then the latter should be vastly more probable than the former if both scenarios are to be created out of random fluctuation. As that is something very Mind Screwy, and even more when one considers the possibility of other universes existing, solutions to that paradox include the possibility of the fabric of the Universe being metastable and degrading after a really very long time, so no Boltzmann brains appearing of nowhere-same for other universes should they exist.
  • Dr. Robert White's experiments with dogs, rats, and monkeys.
  • Conspiracy theorist Francis E. Dec believed that our real brains are in "brain bank cities" on the dark side of the moon and our heads contain only a transmitting device connecting us with them. This is all to enable Gangster Computer God to control us, of course.
  • Number six on Cracked's The 8 Creepiest Places on Earth (Part 4), an abandoned underground Soviet facility beneath Moscow filled with brains in jars, which has virtually no information about it nor any indication as to why it was abandoned in the first place.
    • The website English Russia, who took the pictures used in the article, notes that it was a place to study brains and the nervous system. It was shuttered due Russia's abysmal economic situation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The only thing rather ominous about is that the scientist went to some rather extreme lengths to keep everyone out of there, so much so that no one successfully broke in for upwards of fifteen years. They could have just been trying to assure their research was found by the right people though.
  • A functioning brain in a jar would be surprisingly difficult to accomplish in real life, at least without major personality changes — to the point of possibly no longer having a recognizably human outlook - since any number of hormonal and even metabolic functions performed in other parts of the body contribute significantly to brain function.
  • According to a government official who appeared on MythBusters when the boys were testing the "second gunman on the grassy knoll" myth, the National Archives have John F. Kennedy's brain in a jar as evidence from the assassination investigation. Or should we say "had", because according to the same official, the brain has gone missing (apparently the family later buried it with JFK's body).
  • Diogo Alves, a Portuguese Serial Killer, is known for both being the last executed person in Portugal, and for his head being taken for study by a professor of medicine. That head is currently on exhibit at the Anatomical Theater of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon.
  • The head of Luigi Lucheni - the assassin of Empress Elisabeth of Austria - sat in the morgue of Geneva (where the crime took place and where Lucheni was imprisoned) from his death by hanging in 1910 to 1986, upon which it was taken to the Museum of Pathology and Anatomy in Vienna, with the condition that it was not to be displayed. It's perfectly preserved in formaldehyde. His head was preserved because, allegedly, experts of the time wanted to study the criminal mind. The modern-day Geneva Morgue, however, was more than happy to be rid of it. He was finally buried in 2000 at the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna, after a long, bureaucratical process.

Alternative Title(s): Brains In Jars


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: