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Cannibalism Superpower

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Sometimes, you really are what you eat.

"If you kill anyone, make sure to eat their heart, to gain their courage! Their rich, tasty courage..."
Professor Farnsworth, Futurama

The Cannibalism Superpower is the ability of a person, mutant, monster, demon, alien, Eldritch Abomination, etc. to absorb superpowers from other characters by eating them. This sometimes also allows the user to take the character's memories or physical appearance as well. Obviously, this is a power more suited to super villains, since eating people implies killing them. Big Bad characters in particular may Devour the Dragon for this. In different cases, either eating someone whole is necessary, or eating just a few bites of them (or drinking their blood, or some other bodily articles like hair or tears) would suffice. Please note, however, that this trope is not limited to villains (though, admittedly, it makes for a pretty strange hero).

This is a mixture of All Your Powers Combined with I'm a Humanitarian (of course, the victim doesn't have to be of the same species). Thinking of it another way, it's a more macabre version of Power Copying and a Meta Power.

See also Captured by Cannibals, Victor Gains Loser's Powers, Wendigo. Compare Soul Eating and Vampiric Draining. Super-Trope to Eat Brain for Memories.

Sub-Trope of Eating the Enemy


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Animal Land, Chimeras gain animal attributes and become stronger via this.
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest: This is what allowed Hajime to survive the Abyss, normally eating Demon flesh is fatal, but due to drinking the God's Crystal Elixir, Hajime managed to survive, but gain the ability to safely consume their flesh and obtain some of the demons' abilities as long as the demon was stronger than what he had already eaten.
  • In Attack on Titan, this is speculated to have something to do with why Titans devour humans. Cannibalism is the preferred method to transfer the power of the Nine Titans from one host to another. When a Titan consumes the current vessel, their powers and memories are inherited to create a new vessel just like how Eren, Armin, Ymir, Porco, and Falco inherited their powers. This normally involves a ritual where the current vessel is Chained to a Rock and their successor eats them as a mindless Titan, especially when the successor is one of Marley's Warrior unit.
    • This leads to further speculation that this is the true reason Titans instinctively devour humans: finding and eating a Titan Shifter would restore their humanity. It is later confirmed by Ymir's backstory and Eren ingesting the "hardening" factor.
  • The only way immortals of Baccano! can die is by absorbing one another by placing the right hand on the subject's head, which also transfers their memories and knowledge. Although the victim is not ingested, the process is referred to in-series as "eating" or "devouring", and some fans have used the term "alchemical cannibalism" to describe it. One alchemist developed a weaker elixir that would make people just immortal enough to be vulnerable to his "cannibalism", but unable to eat anyone themselves.
  • Taken to more literal extremes in Betterman, where the seeds Betterman devours to take on his monstrous superpowered forms are grown out of dead bodies.
  • Bleach:
    • The 9th Espada, Aaroniero Arruruerie, has a power to assimilate devoured foes. This allows him to assimilate another Hollow, which could itself assimilate shinigami. Unfortunately, this was the very Hollow which possessed Rukia's mentor, and gave him access to his memories and allowed him to seriously Mind Screw her. Other Hollows also get stronger by devouring other souls, but Aaroniero is the only one who also gains their special abilities.
    • Liltotto Lamperd of the Vandenreich is revealed to have this power as a secondary effect of her power The Glutton in the Bleach novels. Specifically, if what she eats possesses a special ability, she can use that ability once her meal digests. This power works on fellow Sternritter like Pepe's The Love after she eats him in vengeance and even Hollows like Loly's Resurreccion after she eats parts of it, which would normally be toxic to a Quincy.
  • In Blood+, the chiropteran queens and chevaliers can take on the appearances of people whose blood they've drank.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Fraulein Kreutune, who has an Adaptive Ability, eventually gains the ability to acquire the powers and memories of who she eats. Despite suffering from Horror Hunger, she's a good guy and desperately tries to avoid eating people. Fortunately, Touma cures her hunger.
  • In Chained Soldier, the Thunder God Kuusetsu is able to devour humans whole and absorb their superhuman Peach abilities. She also inherits traits of their physical appearance and personality.
  • Deadman Wonderland has Mockingbird, who copies other people's abilities by consuming some of their blood. Preferably. It doesn't have to be blood, but even he finds living up to this trope a little icky. Not that it stops him.
  • While Digimon normally have Born-Again Immortality, Digimon Tamers was an exception to the rule. In this setting, Digimon die after being defeated, leaving behind data that can be absorbed by the victor in order to become stronger and steal their special attacks.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Cell gains power by absorbing people, so he has a habit of depopulating entire towns. More importantly, he gains a massive upgrade, both in terms of power and physical appearance, by absorbing each of Dr. Gero's androids.
    • Majin Buu gains abilities, and character traits, from every being he absorbs. This became a plot point when it was revealed that he had previously absorbed the Grand Supreme Kai and gained his innocent nature. That was the only thing keeping Buu from going completely berserk.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Fukuro of Trinity Raven can swallow and "digest" his victims whole to use their magic. While it starts out weaker than the victim, the longer they digest, the more powerful their magic becomes while he uses it. We never see if he permanently keeps his victim's magic once he finishes up, as Gray manages to defeat him and free Natsu before it could reach that point.
    • In the sequel manga, the Fifth Generation Dragon Slayers are created by humans devouring the flesh of dragons to gain their magic. Judging by several comments, this can also work on other Dragon Slayers. This does come with the drawback that using Dragon Force effectively puts the dragonification process on fast forward, though.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Pride can absorb abilities/knowledge from those he "eats." He demonstrates this first with his "brother" Gluttony and later uses it with Kimblee and the gold-toothed doctor. However, this is a double-sided blade, as he also gains their negative attributes like Gluttony's bottomless hunger and Kimblee's individual personality.
  • Guyver: Aptom of the Lost Numbers makes his first appearance as a humble Voluntary any-Shape shifter, who takes on the Guyver alongside his True Companions. After the Guyver kills his two best friends, he's taken back to the lab and experimented on until he gains the power to physically merge with and assimilate other Zoanoids.
  • In Hellsing, the soul of someone consumed by a vampire becomes that vampire's familiar. The vampire has access to their abilities and can summon the familiar at will. When Alucard's final Power Limiter is released, it's revealed he has done this to MILLIONS of humans, vampires and other creatures alike.
  • The Chimera Ants in Hunter × Hunter are an entire species of this, though their process is a bit slower and a lot more complicated in that only the Queen has this power, technically, but passes any physical traits and abilities of those she's eaten to her offspring, seemingly at random. The Chimera Ants become a terrible threat, however, as one group managed to capture humans for their Queen, gained their intelligence, and use it to assimilate nearly every living thing around them. It takes a nuclear explosion to kill the King, their top combatant—and not from the force of the explosion itself, but from irradiation from the fallout.
    • The King possessed the even more broken ability to increase his own Nen by devouring Nen users. It's for this reason that Nen users are the only food he likes.
  • Tama the title character of I'm a Behemoth, an S-Ranked Monster, but Mistaken for a Cat, I Live as an Elf Girl's Pet, is able to gain new abilities by eating other monsters.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Both Naraku and Moryomaru have devoured demons in order to become stronger.
    • Inuyasha's sword, Tessaiga, is also capable of absorbing the aura of a powerful demon by devouring its blood as explained when Inuyasha would obtain the barrier shattering form of the sword.
    • The black miko Tsubaki becomes a hanyou in the same way as Naraku did. She candidly boasts that she will assimilate demons to gain eternal life. But shortly afterwards she is defeated.
    • The anime also shows Sara Asano, who becomes a hanyou in the same way as Naraku. Her plan is to eat Sesshomaru shortly afterwards and get his power.
  • Kurama from Kamisama Kiss tries to usurp the newly turned Land God Nanami's power by eating her heart. Emphasis on tries to since Nanami's bodyguard and familiar, Tomoe, puts a stop to that idea real quick.
  • Episode 19 of Neon Genesis Evangelion has a berserker Unit-01 eat the corpse of Zeruel, in the process gaining its S2 Engine, theoretically allowing it to generate infinite amounts of energy from nothing.
  • No Longer Allowed in Another World: Kashiwahara's skill "Eat of Be Eaten" gives him the ability to replicate the strength and abilities of ant enemy he eats, using King Siberian's own martial arts skills on Tama after having eaten his arm.
  • In One Piece, it is heavily implied that Charlotte Linlin, aka "Big Mom", ate her caretaker Mother Carmel and gained the latter's Devil Fruit ability, the Soru Soru no Mii (Soul-Soul Fruit). The former gorged herself at a feast to the point of no longer paying attention to her surroundings, after which Mother Carmel and the other children mysteriously disappeared, with Linlin demonstrating the ability a few hours later. It should be noted that when a Devil Fruit user dies, their power reincarnates into the nearest normal fruit and transforms it into a Devil Fruit, so it's possible that Carmel's death upon being eaten caused her power to transfer to a fruit at the feast which Linlin then ate. However, if Linlin really did cannibalize Mother Carmel, then it implies that Devil Fruit abilities can be gained by eating whomever has already eaten that particular Devil Fruit.
  • The jaki from Phantom Dream are created not to make a utopian society, but to serve Hira whose power grows with each jaki he consumes.
  • The apes in Princess Mononoke believe that if they eat Ashitaka's corpse they will steal his strength. San wouldn't let them though.
  • In Ratman, Unchained became stronger by eating various animals and absorbing their strength and instincts. He also wanted to eat Ratman for this very reason. This backfires spectacularly: Unchained is unable to consume Ratman's S-genes and only succeeds in awakening Ratman's berserker side. The berserk Ratman is so horrifying that the "Fight or Flight" instincts of the animals Unchained ate within him switch to "Flight" mode and he is paralyzed with fear.
  • In Reborn to Master the Blade, the Rune Eater is a mysterious beast stalking the capital city, attacking and consuming Rune-holders, people with special magical marks on their bodies. On a successful kill, it will absorb their mana and powers, to the point of being able to use several at once when other Rune-holders only have the one.
  • In Re:Monster, Goburou gains permanent access to the abilities he obtains after consuming the bodies of other living things or objects, and can even make them stronger over time by eating multiples of the same thing.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins provides one of the few heroic examples. Hawk the talking pig is revealed to be able to assimilate the abilities of magical beings he eats, such as monsters or lesser demons, as shown when he took a bite out of a dragon and gained its scales, horns, fire breath, and wings. He does not gain Required Secondary Powers (he wasn't fireproof, so he burned himself with his fire breath, and his wings were too small to support his weight, so he couldn't fly). He only retains these abilities until he poops, which reverts him to normal.
  • In Soul Eater, this seems to be the only way to acquire abilities you weren't born with.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime:
    • Rimuru Tempest can use his Predator skill to absorb the powers of those he eats and sometimes combine them to make new abilities. And thanks to his nature as a slime he can shapeshift his body to manifest the physical characteristics of anything he's eaten as well. Eventually, Predator upgrades to Gluttony and finally Gluttonous King Beelzebub, which increases the potency and range of this ability to near godlike levels.
    • Geld the Orc Disaster. He could use his Starving Ones ability to give this ability to his entire army. They would gain powers of anyone they ate and also give them to Geld. Though unlike Rimuru's Predator skill, it has some nasty drawbacks. They weren't always guaranteed to get their victim's powers (but the chance was higher the more people they ate), and as long as they were under its effects the entire race would live in a state of constant hunger. After Rimuru defeats and absorbs the Orc Disaster, he obtained Starving Ones and Great Sage merges it with Predator to create Gluttony, giving Rimuru all of its advantages with none of the drawbacks.
    • Vega "The Power" has the skill Plunderer, which allows him to absorb power and traits from his victims. Unlike Rimuru or Geld, however, Vega prefers devouring others whether alive or dead to gain their powers and get stronger.
  • In Tokkô the Phantom hunting siblings Itto and Mayu can gain the powers of phantoms by eating them after they kill them.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, some Ghouls are noted to engage in cannibalism because of legends that it increases their power. These rare Ghouls are mutated through their serial cannibalism, developing into a Kakuja and often going insane in the process. The infamous One-Eyed Owl and Yamori are both serial cannibals that achieved this power, while Yoshimura and Arata both managed to harness their power for less horrific purposes. Unfortunately, Kaneki begins engaging in cannibalism in hopes of gaining power and discovers firsthand the horrifying toll the Kakuja takes on a Ghoul's mind.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- has Clone Syaoran eating Fai's eye to gain the latter's magical powers.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Sora's Signature Mon Frightfur Bear gains the attack points of whatever monster it destroys in battle and sends to the graveyard. In the anime, that's portrayed as Frightfur Bear eating the monster alive. Interestingly, in the dub version of the anime, this effect was censored up until The Reveal that Sora is Evil All Along; they stop censoring it after that, further enhancing the effect of this trope.
  • The aptly named Gourmet in YuYu Hakusho has this as his power, although it eventually backfires when he eats an immortal who pulls From a Single Cell and takes over his body.
  • Vampire Knight: Devouring the flesh/heart or drinking the blood of a pureblood vampire enhances one's powers, even between one pureblood to another.
    • Zero becomes the most powerful vampire hunter living after devouring Ichiru, taking back the powers he was supposed to have been born with, next to having drunk a good amount of pureblood blood from both Yuuki and Kaname.

    Comic Books 
  • Everyman, initially from the 52 series at DC Comics, can assume the shape of any being he's consumed a sample of. Since Lex Luthor was the one approving the power he got, giving "eats people" to a guy named Hannibal was probably deliberate.
  • In one Alien vs. Predator mini-series, the Big Bad of the piece has survived for centuries by consuming dead Predators. He also makes mention of an ancient warlord who, apparently, lived for two-hundred years by consuming a Predator's heart.
  • In Billy Majestic's Humpty Dumpty, the titular Humpty Dumpty is able to gain the attributes and abilities of any creature he eats. For example, he gains limbs by consuming a frog and near the end of the comic gains wings by eating a bat.
  • This is the entire premise of the Image Comics title Chew: the main character, Tony Chu is a police officer who, as a Cibopath, gets psychic impressions from everything he tastes. Everything. His boss thinks it's hilarious sending him to lick blood off a crime scene floor, nibble on a corpse, or even take a bite of some "whatsit" left in a bank vault.
    • Cibopaths can also gain the skills and even superpowers of anyone they eat. While Tony, being a mostly normal guy, usually eats only a litle bit of a person to get his memories (although he did get the skills of several baseball players, after a certain lunatic force-fed him their corpses), The Vampire, another Cibopath, actively hunts down and eats people to get their superpowers.
  • In the 2014 Elektra series the first villain is a man named Bloody Lips. An Australian empowered by what he calls the Serpent, he gains the qualities and memories of whoever he eats depending on the parts he eats. This means he can stockpile the strength of multiple rhinos with the marksmanship of Bullseye, the mutant abilities of Scalphunter and all the intel of any unfortunate S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to cross his path.
  • In Marvel Zombies, some of the super-zombies eat Galactus — and gain the Power Cosmic and the ability to travel to other planets in order to eat their inhabitants. By the time they hit the Skrull Homeworld they learn how to absorb entire planets in Black Panther.
  • In the Savage Sword of Conan comics, Conan encountered a Cannibal Tribe who believe they can become invincible for a short time by "eating the moon", which they accomplish by devouring the flesh of a Human Sacrifice bathed in moonlight. They're absolutely correct, though their invulnerability may be powered by belief. Conan releases a cloud of smoke from a special pellet, which completely obscures the night sky and the full moon, and makes the cannibals believe he has "slain" the moon with magic. The doubt he instills removes their invulnerability, and Conan and his comrades are able to fight their way free.
    • Conan villain Kulan Gath develops into this, making him an absolute nightmare - especially after he pulls this on Shuma-Gorath.
  • The Saurians in Sigil (and the one who appears in Negation) take on beneficial attributes of whatever creatures they eat, including physical and mental traits and information. Having long ago become the apex predators of their homeworlds, this power was forgotten and rediscovered when they went to war with humans and decided not to waste the corpses of their fallen foes.

    Fan Works 
  • Becoming a True Invader: The Employer's genetically engineered moose Super Soldiers can grow to massive sizes by devouring each other.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • In an odd example where the superpower is a political one, the Namekian Grand Elder is apparently whoever devours the old Grand Elder.
    Bulma: Seems legit.
    • Goku gained the ability to perform Instant Transmission by the Yardrats feeding him their ill (unlike in canon, where they simply taught him how to do it).
  • Better Bones AU: Ashfur transforms into a larger, stronger creature before the final battle against him by killing and absorbing other StarClan cats, some of which have borderline Physical God like powers, including Clear Sky.
  • Dragon Ball Z Elsewhere: Kyonshi can't naturally change his body anymore as a vampire. While this gives him the benefit of never losing the good shape he reached at the peak of his life —a very good shape since he is a master on the same tier as Roshi and Shen— this means he can't improve with training. But there are other means for vampires/sorcerers to make their bodies stronger. Namely, summoning demons and eating them.
  • From Muddy Waters: Downplayed. Izuku's version of All For One allows him to acquire the Quirks of others by consuming a source of DNA such as blood or bits of hair. He also received several of his Quirks directly from his father, who simply pricked his thumb and let Izuku lick it.
  • A Growing Affection has a Blood Drinker demon. He claims to be the source of the legends of vampires. He can suck a person's blood and store it in his body, gaining a measure of the person's chakra and the ability to use their jutsu and Kekkei Genkai.
  • Jericho (MLP): Jericho states that demons can gain the ability to speak your language by ripping out your tongue while you're alive and eating it then and there. When Jericho and his two companions meet and confront the Devil's Backbone, said demon notes having eaten tongues to gain his understand of Equestrian. We then get to see a live demonstration when the Devil's Backbone summons forth C, a skinwalker—which is basically a horrifying monster who is entirely composed of Body Horror. C rips the Backbone's tongue out of his mouth, eats it, states, "I have great hunger", and proceeds to rip and tear apart and wholly eat the still-screaming Devil's Backbone.
    • When C appears later, his speech mannerisms have changed. When asked why this was, C casually explains that this was because he ate the tongues of several Equestrians, thus gaining a far better command and grasp of the language.
    • At some point, Jericho notes that he and the ponies of his country actually eat the flesh of sentient demons for symbolic reasons of power and dominance... and because sentient demon's flesh is high in nutrients.
  • Pony POV Series: This turns out to be the reason Discord is so powerful — he ate his brother Destruction and their Father Havoc's Avatar, absorbing their power into himself.
  • to forget is unforgivable: Now that he is a cursed spirit, Izuku has a number of cannibalism-related powers. He can permanently increase his own strength by eating other spirits (which is how he became a Special Grade so fast), he can perform an Enemy Scan by analyzing the cursed energy he consumes and obtain information he could not normally obtain (for example, tell how old a cursed spirit is and how it was formed), and he can track down cursed spirits that he consumed parts of within an unspecified radius. It's very much a case of Bad Powers, Good People, as Izuku is unambiguously heroic, but his tendency to reap out hearts and eat them has traumatized Katsuki for life.
  • Weiss could already gain power from blood in NieR, but in Tower of Babel he can eat other Grimoires and steal their powers and knowledge.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Moana, more specifically, in the demo soundtrack, Tamatoa openly states in his song that he's going to gain Maui's powers when he eats him. Which would not happen, since Maui is fully human and therefore doesn't possess any special powers.
  • Wreck-It Ralph features the Cy-Bugs, giant mechanical insects from the shooter game Hero's Duty that 'become what they eat'. This is demonstrated by one eating Ralph's gun and gaining arm-cannons as a result. This later backfires on the Cy-Bugs when they invade the game Sugar Rush and start devouring the candy environment. It makes their incredibly powerful metal exoskeleton turn into a far more brittle candy armor, allowing Ralph to finally go toe to toe with them. Big Bad King Candy/Turbo accidentally gets eaten by a Cy-Bug too, but interestingly he seems to assimilate the Cy-Bug instead of the other way around, going One-Winged Angel. It's not clear whether this is because he's become virus-like in nature himself or he really did die and the Cy-Bug simply assimilated his memories and personality.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In District 9, there is a gang leader who eats the dead bodies of prawns to use their biometric-locked weapons. It doesn't show any sign of working, though not for lack of trying.
  • In Godzilla 2000, Orga attempts this on Godzilla, when he bites the Big G himself, absorbs some of his powers, before he tries to swallow Godzilla whole. It doesn't end well for him.
  • In Hansel and Gretel, Lillith claims to gain her youth from consuming children. In the sequel, Hansel vs. Gretel, Gretel gains the powers of the witches by eating them.
  • Jeepers Creepers has The Creeper, who has eaten so many hearts that he has become Nigh-Invulnerable.
  • In John Dies at the End, the fat guy from an Alternate Universe explains that, whenever someone in their reality has some great insight, he is fed to Korrok, their enormous Bio Punk thinking machine. Just then, another fat guy falls from a pipe and is eaten. Korrok then says "Mmm, bacon." Great insight indeed. The fat guy then explains that he plans to feed David and John to Korrok, so that Korrok may learn all about their world.
  • The Puppet Master II used this in one instance for humor as the guy somehow got the voice of a boar ... not sure about the rest of the franchise.
  • The entire point of Ravenous. Cannibalism can heal you from otherwise fatal wounds and makes you become stronger. The downside is that it's extremely addictive.
  • Hannibal Lecter invokes this to Will in Red Dragon; "Such a brave boy. I think I'll eat your heart...".
  • In Split Second (1992), cop Dick Durkin theorizes that the killer is a demon sent from Hell who eats the hearts of his victims to gain their strength, DNA, and their souls.

  • In Animorphs, Visser Three's twin and rival, Esplin 9466-secondary, manages to survive without Kandrona rays by finding Controllers, killing their hosts and eating the Yeerks out of their brain. Even knowing his brother (who eats people distressingly often), the Animorphs were horrified.
  • In Cerberus High: Another Story Eden acquires an evolved version of Adam's Eternal Onyx Blade by consuming the long-deceased limp's heart.
  • The Elder Empire: When Lucan Awakens Shera's shear, it gains the ability to feed on kills and make Shera stronger. And because it is now intelligent, it acts like a hyperactive child demanding candy.
  • In Joe Abercrombie's The First Law trilogy. the Eaters gained magical power (such as shape-shifting) by eating human flesh, and breaking the Second Law.
  • D'vouran and later Eppon in Galaxy of Fear, respectively from Eaten Alive and Army of Terror, were both made stronger by each person they ate. Eppon actually grew older looking and then turned into a large monster. Later, in The Hunger, it's mentioned with the Children, who say that eating flesh brings strength — but as Zak notices, they're so malnourished that any protein is a boon.
  • In the Gor series a standard practice for sleen or larl hunters is to eat the heart while it's still warm from its blood, for good luck. An additional thing with a sleen is to drink a cupped-handful of its blood, then take another handful and look in it to see a reflection of how you will die - of old age, in battle, or wasted away by disease.
  • Harry Potter downplays this with the Polyjuice Potion. A key ingredient is a bit of the person you want to humanshift into, but it only requires something small like a hair.
  • In Human Nature, one of the members of the Family is a shape-shifter who can imitate any animal he's eaten part of, including humans. If he does it while they're alive, he can also gain their memories.
  • Labyrinths of Echo has a superstition among the wizards of Uguland that eating someone more powerful improves magical power, and drinking blood lends a portion temporary, but this isn't really proven — especially as even when one manages to win a fight with a more powerful mage, there's usually no nearby buildings left, let alone body in any shape to eat. One Mad Artist got less than useful sort of power by eating hearts of humans with one unusual magical trait, but he had to develop at least two magical rituals to make it happen. What works is drinking someone's blood to confuse magic of searching or appraising power for a few hours, though very experienced opponents may still see through it.
  • The H. P. Lovecraft story The Picture in the House:
    "They say meat makes blood an' flesh, an' gives ye new life, so I wondered ef 'twudn't make a man live longer an' longer ef 'twas more the same - "
  • Professor Mmaa's Lecture: In the termite civilization, eating other termites' "associative substance" (brain) is the common way of transferring memories and knowledge. Of course, it's done after the donor's natural death.
  • The Big Bad in Reserved for the Cat is a shapeshifting troll that can and has eaten many people, which then allows her to take on the form of the person and access their knowledge. She can also take on the forms of animals, though it isn't stated if she had to eat them as well.
  • In The Runelords series, the Reavers gain the attributes of whatever they eat. They can even gain knowledge by eating brains, allowing them to hand down racial memories by eating their dead. If a human eats a Reaver brain, they will also gain this knowledge.
  • Spice and Wolf: To trigger her transformation from Cute Monster Girl to Canis Major, Holo has to either eat fresh wheat grains or human blood. She prefers the wheat option but if she has to use the blood the amount needed is nowhere near lethal.
  • In Super Minion, Tofu can do this with some abilities. By consuming and analyzing a corpse he can glean information about its design, and use his shapeshifting abilities to incorporate useful features into his own body. He can't use it to steal superpowers though, because those aren't based around biology at all.
  • In This Is Not a Werewolf Story, Tuffman, who turns into a cougar, can extend his lifespan by eating "spirit animals," a certain class of other shapeshifters.
  • Ghouls in The Throne Of Bones have this ability, and consider it hilarious when one of their own number gets temporarily overwhelmed by absorbed memories, thinks it's human, and freaks out to find itself in a graveyard full of monsters.
  • In The Vampire Chronicles, some witches can absorb part of another human's essence by eating the brain. Additionally, in The Queen of the Damned, this is how Mekare becomes the new vampire queen after killing Akasha. This is justified in-story, since the heart and the brain are where the evil spirit Amel is concentrated.
  • In Madeline Ashby's vN Portia's clade can download software from other Recursive Creators that they eat parts of. Amy gets her grandmother's entire consciousness in her head after eating her, and after accidentally biting off Javier's thumb she gains his Le Parkour and photosynthesis abilities.
  • Ward: One of the earliest known supervillains in the setting, only ever known as "The Old Man", actually inverts this. His superpower is that if another person consumes part of his body, he gains access to all of their memories and knowledge. It doesn't have to be a large chunk: if someone swallows a hair or a chip of a fingernail, that's sufficient to trigger it. He becomes an information broker and spy by setting himself up as the chef at a Bad Guy Bar, and sneaking tiny bits of his body into the food and drink. When he's finally outed in front of the patrons, they are both furious and deeply disgusted at the idea they've been unknowingly eating parts of him, even if they are very small parts.
  • Zombies in Warm Bodies eat their victims brains to relive their memories.
  • The Wild Cards novel Down and Dirty brings us Deadhead, an insane Ace who can access the memories of the dead by eating their flesh. The memories are vague unless he actually eats their brain, but they're strong enough that he no longer eats animal meat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This was the premise of the Fear Itself episode "Eater".
  • Subverted in Heroes, where Sylar acquires other people's superpowers by slicing their head open and removing their brain to study them. Because his victims' corpses are found without brains, the FBI concludes he is taking them as surgical trophies. When directly asked if he eats the brains, he's confused by the question, saying "that's disgusting" (though it's not specified what he does with them once he's successfully copied a power. The reason this trope being averted is noteworthy comes from the longstanding fandom joke/Fanon that he did gain people's superpowers by eating their brains, which was eventually Jossed because the writers (who had considered it) thought it was too silly.
  • iZombie: Liv finds that eating brains keeps her from going "full-on zombie" (i.e., mindless and violent) and gives her flashes of the dead person's memories as well as aspects of their personality. In the pilot, she gains the ability to speak Romanian and becomes a klepto after eating the brain of a kleptomaniac Romanian call girl. In the second episode, she eats the brains of a famous painter and gains his talent for painting as well as his passion for life in general. Usually, the abilities and quirks fade after about a day. They also fade to be replaced by new ones after eating another person's brain. The abilities can be of a darker nature, such as when Liv unknowingly eats the brain of a sociopathic hitman. She immediately starts acting like an emotionless person full of random factual information and one of her first instincts upon finding a friend who has permanently gone full-on zombie is to kill her. In a later episode, she gains Hollywood Hacking and MMORPG skills, as well as intense agoraphobia and love for donuts, from an internet troll.
  • Downplayed in Power Rangers Wild Force, as Dr. Adler did not have to eat Master Org himself to gain his powers, but merely the seeds from which his essence remained.
  • Chef Leo, an evil shaman in the Supernatural episode "Dog Dean Afternoon", has been eating animals to gain their abilities, which comes to the Winchesters' attention because he's had to steal some of said animals. He gets an idea for his next meal when he sees Sam instantly regenerate from a serious wound, which Sam can do because he's possessed by an angel.
  • The X-Files had people who ate other people sometimes because it expanded their life through some supernatural or other agency. There was a weakness in it. Their founder always warned them against 'turning on each other', which eventually happened. One of them developed kuru, which started to spread through the community and likely would have spread further if Mulder and Scully hadn't busted the whole thing open.

  • The guy singing "Bill Watterson" by Lemon Demon wants to eat Bill Watterson's heart and absorb his powers.
  • One of the instructions in "Cool Patrol" by Ninja Sex Party is to grab a bird from the sky and to eat it whole to absorb its power of flight. We'll also be able to dive bomb fish because our vision's enhanced (this is the Cool Patrol dance).

    Myths & Religion 
  • In the Greek myth of the Seven Against Thebes, Tydeus devours his fallen enemy's brain to gain his strength. It backfires terribly, as he was already mortally wounded, and Athena is so appalled when she sees this that she changes her mind about making Tydeus immortal.
  • The Wendigo, by way of Cursed with Awesome for eating human flesh.
  • As mentioned under the Real Life folder, many cultures believed that cannibalism could give a person shapeshifting powers. Aside from the Skinwalker note , examples of such werebeasts include weretigers (India, Indonesia and Malaysia) and wereleopards (West Africa).

  • From Cerberus Daily News, we have "Devour The Hearts Of NKaria's Adversaries So That You May Take Their Power For Yourself", a side-scrolling platformer from NKaria. Distribution is banned in at least one of the setting's nations due to extreme gore, subversive religious themes, and depictions of intense violence.
  • Mokou gained her fire powers this way in Touhou: a Glimmer of an Outside World: she turned a phoenix into yakitori and ate it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Bleak World: The Jotun believe that eating enough humans will open a gate to their homeworld, which was taken from them by elves.
  • Dragon: The Embers:
    • This is how Oroboroi reproduce; since they lost the ability to procreate the natural way a long time ago, they instead create new dragons by feeding their Heart to a human whenever they feel like they have lived long enough. This results in the Heart's owner dying and the human becoming a new dragon.
    • Also, there are dragons called Devourers, who like to feed on other dragons' Hearts. Much like the vampires' Diaberie, it's reviled by Oroboros society (even more so, in fact, since they are a Dying Race and Hearts are not a renewable resource) and comes with very nasty side effects...
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • An aboleth retains memories of every eaten victim — as well as those of its mother, meaning that they remember the entire history of their species.
    • Some shapeshifters Mongrelmen may have their offspring growing some body parts of the devoured creature, like an odd horn or antenna.
    • The earliest D&D example is the brain collector, an Expert D&D monster that acquires spellcasting powers by consuming the brains of spellcasters. The Hivebrood hivemind, another CD&D monster, can do the same thing for any class ability, and also share these acquired powers with other members of its hive.
    • Intellect devourers, small brain-sized creatures (with legs) can eat a victim's brain, then insert themselves into the skull and control the body like a meat puppet. (They can heal the grievous hole they needed to make in order to get inside.) Making matters worse, they absorb at least some of the victim's memories, making it easier to impersonate them.
    • Planescape: Maurezhi absorb the memories of those they eat, which demons sometimes use to extract information their devil enemies hold.
      If a maurezhi kills and eats a victim, it gets the deader's memories and experiences. Xanxaost has seen hezrou general beat and imprison their baatezu enemies and then stand aside and let a maurezhi go to work. This sometimes gets them secret plans for the Blood War. This usually gets them lots of stupid things the baatezu have in their heads.
    • In 3rd Edition, mind flayers can potentially remember some piece of information from a recently eaten victim's brain (usually a minor bonus to skill checks, but sometimes a feat or weapon skill). They don't always, and the retention is only for a few hours, but it's possible. Illithid savants specialize in this, retaining skills of devoured victims permanently.
    • Dire trolls are a mutated form of troll that comes into being when a troll starts eating other trolls. This causes them to grow much larger and develop mutations such as extra limbs, eyes, mouths, and sometimes even entire heads growing from random places around their body. To further add on to this, they can graft parts from other trolls to themselves thanks to their regeneration. Each dire troll is thus a unique collection of grotesque horror. And, of course, they're much stronger and tougher than normal trolls, as well.
    • 3rd Edition Book of Vile Darkness includes a Corrupt spell called consume likeness, which allows the caster to take the full appearance of a creature he consumed an ounce of the flesh. This can include some functional features such as extra arms, wings or gills.
  • Exalted: Lunar Exalted can take the appearance (and a few abilities) of animals by consuming their hearts after a ritualized hunt. With the right powers, they can extend this ability to humans, other Exalted, and gods, demons, ghosts and raksha. They can also acquire powers to decrease how much of a being they need to eat, and give others the ability to assume their appearance by consuming some of their blood.
  • Hunter: The Vigil gives us the Faithful of Shulpae, a small cult that aims to track down and eat supernatural beings (with a particular taste for mummies) in order to temporarily gain their powers. They do this because they believe supernatural creatures are closer to the divine than they are, and by eating their flesh, they can experience a special relationship with the gods.
  • Played with in In Dark Alleys: The Cannibal Secret Life can perform a ritual where they can eat their own bodyparts without killing themselves and get a naturally invisible superpowered equivalent in exchange, you too can become Phantom Limb.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Mimeoplasm is an ooze from the plane of Muraganda that absorbs the shapes of every creature it eats, which periodically emerge from its protoplasm before subsiding again. In-game, its card eats (exiles) two creatures in the graveyards, making it a copy of one with +1/+1 counters equal to the other's power.
    • Experiment Kraj, another ooze created by the Simic Mad Scientists of Ravnica, stole every cytoplast on the plane upon waking, which killed and mutilated anyone who used Simic-brand bioaugmentation products. His card implies this gave him the powers of whoever he mutilated.
    • The original hive of Slivers had a queen that could create new strains of Slivers by consuming strange new creatures and then birthing new Slivers with those creatures' powers. Whenever Slivers are within an unspecified range of one another, they each gain each others' abilities.
  • Pathfinder: Neothelids who consume a large number of their kin can transform into immensely powerful neothelid overlords.
  • Underground: Having the Regeneration power requires a character to subsist on a cannibal diet. As the game's setting is such a Crapsack World as to contain cannibal fast food joints, this is Played for Laughs.
  • In both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, there is the heinous crime of Diablerie, wherein you can boost your Generation/Blood Potency (and thus your power in general) by devouring the blood and soul of another vampire. The downside is, it leaves inky black stains on your soul (which others can read like a book), and you can expect a quick and brutal death if you're caught. Plus, some powerful vampires may remain conscious through the process and later devour the Diablerist's soul from the inside. Vampire: The Requiem introduces the bloated Macellarius bloodline, fittingly nicknamed "The Gluttons" due to their universal belief that a gut is still considered high class. Oh, and they also eat people. Hailing from ancient hedonistic Rome, these vampires are master gourmands, doing anything for a fine taste, even with the knowledge that they'll have to throw it up later by proxy of being a vampire (they enjoy the vomiting, though, since it means they can taste it one more time). Naturally, they have an intense love for human flesh, and can suck vitae out from it, and their unique bloodline discipline, Gustus, entirely revolves around eating raw meat, from storing consumed chunks in their bodies to be converted to vitae to vomiting acidic blood to being able to steal stats from their victim.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Kroot, a race of a avian humanoids used as auxiliaries by the Tau Empire, have the innate ability to absorb the DNA of any creature they eat. For example, Kroot who feed upon Dark Eldar pirates become lean, agile and malicious, while those who prey upon Orks quickly develop green skin, heavy jaws and big muscles — in fact, the Kroot only developed space flight after absorbing the Genetic Memory of some Ork Mekboyz who attacked their homeworld of Pech. In a Deconstruction of this trope, Kroot who eat too much of a certain food get stuck in an evolutionary dead-end, and every evolutionary niche on Pech is filled by some Kroot-form, such as Kroot Hounds or lumbering Krootox. The Shapers who lead the various Kroot Kindreds have also learned not to let their people feed upon Genestealers' victims or anything tainted by Chaos.
    • The Tyranids make extensive use of this as part of their Evil Evolves theme. The Hive Fleets are constantly analyzing the DNA of species they consume and incorporating useful bits into the next generation of Tyranids, and you can see this in certain units: the stooped, knuckle-walking Biovores have a certain resemblance to Orks, and the frail but psychically-powerful Zoanthropes are certainly based on Eldar DNA. Now some Imperial sages have suggested that Tyrant Guard, with their thick armor plating, must be based upon Space Marine DNA, but this is of course heresy.
    • Speaking of Space Marines, it's often overlooked, but among their Bio-Augmentation is the Omophagea implant, which allows them to learn memories from a foe they've eaten. This undoubtedly contributes to rumors that certain chapters practice cannibalism, which may or many not be accurate depending on how savage a background said chapter comes from.

    Video Games 
  • The unreleased coin-op arcade game Chimera Beast is a Horizontal Scrolling Shooter in which the player plays one of a new race of lifeforms called "Eaters", which have appeared at the bottom of the food chain with the express goal of chewing their way up it by assimilating the strengths of everything it can kill and consume. The final stages have the Eaters attacking the human race, and either dying with the world they have consumed or escaping to devour the universe.
  • The mecha equivalent of this is seen in Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars and the Nod Avatar walker. Its special ability is that it can rip the weapons out of certain other Nod vehicles and use them. Normally, it's your own units, but if your opponent is playing Nod too you can use theirs.
    • And the tank equivalent is in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 with the basic Hammer Tank on the Soviet side. By using its leech beam weapon, it can steal health from opposing tanks and structures, and if the target dies whilst being hit with the beam it'll steal its' weapon note . Most tank weapons can be stolen this way, including stuff like the Athena uplink, Wave Motion Artillery cannon or the Bullfrogs' AA gun.
  • Dark Souls III: Aldrich was a human cleric who discovered one day that when he ate other people, he gained their power. He proceeded to eat so many people that he became a sludge-worm-monster thing, that nonetheless wielded tremendous magical power and had to be thrown into the First Flame itself to be destroyed (with the neat side effect of prolonging the Age of Fire). In this game, he's been resurrected, and has decided to expand his power further by eating the gods themselves.
  • In Dawn of the Dragons, the player character reminisces on a conversation with fellow adventurer Roland over a plate of bacon. Roland claimed that pork is a crucial part of any adventurer's diet for this reason. The pig's cunning and intelligence is transferred to the person who ate it. The player character then wonders if this explains why kobolds are as dumb as mushrooms and why Medea eats so many bitter herbs.
  • In Deadly Creatures, this is how the scorpion and the tarantula acquire new environmental skills — by biting off the heads of creatures that have the skills they need. The tarantula eats a black widow and a lizard to gain the ability to web-jump and climb upside down, respectively, while the scorpion eats another scorpion and a mantis to learn how to dig and cut through grass.
  • Humans in Demonheart can gain a Healing Factor and superhuman abilities one of two ways: eat demon flesh, or eat the heart of a human that has.
  • Digital Devil Saga has this as the theme of the game. You gain Atma by devouring your enemies, which is spent on gaining Mantras that give you new powers. Hunt-class powers grant you extra Atma, explicitly because they allow you to eat your foes more efficiently. These powers have names like "Devour" and "Feed Frenzy".
  • Elves in Divinity: Original Sin II have the ability to absorb memories from eating pieces of corpses, and in some cases can learn abilities that the corpse possessed in life. Additionally, the Vulture armor set allows the wearer to gain additional strength by eating corpses.
  • In Dota 2, Doom received a buff to Devour where he gains the abilities of the unit he's eaten until it's "digested".
  • Dragon's Wake is an 2-D indie platformer where the player character (who is a dragon) must eat the bodies of his enemies in order to heal or even increase his own abilities.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In series lore, Namira is the Daedric Prince of Sundry, and the Mistress of Decay. She is the patron deity for the cannibals of Tamriel, and those who ravenously consume the flesh of their fellows are typically granted her favor.
    • During the time in which Skyrim takes place, the Dragonborn can hear a rumor in Markarth about the Hall of the Dead being closed, the priest revealing that they've been finding the sacred dead having chunks bitten out of them. Investigation turns up a woman named Eola, a cannibal to the core who implores the Dragonborn to join her in restoring a shrine to Namira and holding a feast in Her honor, even suggesting that they themselves might have been a cannibal in their past. After clearing the shrine of draugr, Eola instructs them to lure the priest they helped and slaughter him as the first meal to share with her and those in Markarth who share their hunger. Doing so causes Namira to proclaim them her Champion and offer the Ring of Namira, which grants increased Stamina along with the "ability" to feed on corpses which itself grants both Health and health regeneration.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, if the player eats President Kimball, Caesar, Mr. House and The King, they get a perk known as "Meat of Champions" that gives you their "power" (Kimball's Strength, Caesar's Intelligence, House's Luck and The King's Charisma) whenever you eat humans.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • Tam Lin Gawain/Barghest can acquire the special powers of any other faeries she eats if she’s compatible with them and doesn’t exceed her capacity. She is driven to seek out and consume strong faeries as the result of a curse placed on her clan by the Storm King of the mors. Two hundred years ago, she challenged and consumed Foul Weather of the Earth Clan so she could use his abilities against the Caterpillar Calamity; she still has his abilities in the present day, which serve as her third skill, and she says she’s still full on power from that.
    • ORT, the Ultimate One of the Oort Cloud, possesses this power. Notably, this extends beyond just absorbing the strength and power of its opponents, as during the final portion of its Boss Battle in Nahui Mictlan, it's able to use data from the Servants it ate to hijack the Throne of Heroes and summon itself as the Grand Foreigner, which should be completely impossible by the rules of the setting. This is why ORT is considered unbeatable on Earth - it would keep consuming plants, animals, people, and phantasmal beasts to develop new powers and techniques if it found something it couldn't crush by brute force.
  • Paxton Fettel from the FEAR franchise. It may or may not allow him to read his victims' memories (he certainly can either way).
  • Quina, the Blue Mage from Final Fantasy IX learned new spells by eating monsters that could cast them.
    • Final Fantasy VIII featured the late game Devour ability, allowing you to eat a weakened monster for a permanent one point increase to your various statistics, including health. Amusingly, you can use this ability on Rinoa in one battle, although it will result in an immediate Non Standard Game Over.
  • Final Fantasy XV: Ardyn can devour demons. He can also eat the minds of humans and gods. The latter drove him insane.
  • In Gems of War, zombies seem to work like this; their special attack is Eat Brains, which not only heals them but increases a random skill (suggesting that they've absorbed something from the brains' owners).
  • Genesis Rising, a little-known RTS, has the player building ORGANIC STARSHIPS that can acquire abilities by feeding off enemy organic starships that have been beaten to a pulp. If by chance you "kill" the enemy ship, you can still consume it but you won't gain any abilities. Talk about extreme recycling ... IN SPACE!
  • Gwent: The Witcher Card Game: The Consume mechanic available to monsters where they destroy one of their own units but gain a boost equal to the strength of the unit destroyed, usually to enable some other effect either on the unit doing the consuming or on the prey. Necrophages Consume units in the graveyard, gaining their strength.
  • Homeworld Cataclysm has the Beast, an assimilatory virus that learns from those unfortunate enough to be absorbed into its collective self. It can suborn entire starships to its will, using the skills and knowledge of the vessel's former crew to operate it whilst turning their physical forms into a Meat Moss that enables it to operate the various interfaces and components.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, The more enemies a Guttler eats, the stronger and larger it grows.
  • Kirby, in a practical approach to Power Copying. He's so cute, most people haven't even considered the fact that his abilities and behavior are about what you might expect from a baby Eldritch Abomination. This is likely because Kirby doesn't digest the creatures he eats in the same way as most creatures. Instead, it seems that he converts the creatures he eats into stars that he can spit out as projectiles or absorb for their powers. It even seems as though he can reverse the process and spit them as they were, losing whatever power he had.
  • The Rataka in Knights of the Old Republic believe this to be true for their species, eating the dead warriors of tribes they conquer. The tribe that still practices it even ask the player to kill a group of Mandalorians and bring back the leader's head as a meal for their war-leader.
  • Kha'Zix, a champion in League of Legends, is a monster from the Void whose sole drive is to eat powerful creatures to gain their strength. The only creature it currently sees as a match for itself is Rengar, the ultimate hunter he once fought to a draw.
  • In Metroid, Ridley's near-immortality is handwaved by him devouring enemy corpses for biomass. In the manga adaptation, he's not hesitant to rub the fact in to an orphaned Samus's face that he devoured her own mother to heal himself.
  • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri): Deviljho is a monster known to eat any meat it can find, to the point that it will even eat its own kind given the chance. If a Deviljho does this enough, it becomes known as a "Savage" Deviljho (of which the first specimen in the series is sighted in the Updated Re-release Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate), as consuming other Deviljho causes it to bulk up to sizes even more tremendous than normal, and greatly increases the power of its dragon breath. In fact, in Monster Hunter: World Iceborne, Savage Deviljho can get into fights with Elder Dragons... and it actually scores a tie with most of them. It's otherwise completely unheard of for a normal monster to even survive a fight with an Elder Dragon, let alone match them.
  • In Nethack, eating certain corpses could give you superpowers, stat buffs, or kill you horribly.
    • In the expansion game SLASHEM, there's a playable race of shapeshifters. Eating the corpse of a monster of a certain species gives a 100% success rate for shapeshifting into that species.
    • ADOM and Ragnarok also do this, as do other Roguelikes following Nethack's lead.
  • Onmyōji: Gaki has a skill which gives her a chance of swallowing an enemy whole, dealing damage to them, taking their buffs and making them lose a turn (because they're in her stomach, duh). She will then regurgitate the victim back if they haven't died from this attack already. The best part? This skill completely ignores Seimei's damage-stopping Deflector Shield.
  • In Party of Sin, Gluttony can replenish lost health by eating a non-boss enemy, though it takes a few seconds until the mook gets fully digested, before which it can be spat back out.
  • Physical Exorcism Series: Any spirits Brucie eats can be summoned as an ally under his control. Additionally, any spirits they eat get added to his collection too.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], devouring people can give you access to their abilities, memories, and skills—so you learn how to fly a combat helicopter by eating a pilot, learn how to effectively use military weapons by eating Drill Sergeants, and unravel the Government Conspiracy by eating the brains of anyone with even a TANGENTIAL relation to it. The sequel takes it a step further; Heller gains new viral abilities by consuming other Evolved who already possess those powers.
  • The first three SaGa games (aka Final Fantasy Legend I, II, and III), have the Monster race. They have set skills and stats, but can change into another monster by eating Meat dropped in battle.
  • Aeon Calcos aka Lizardman has this as of Soulcalibur V. Bestowed new powers by Ares, he can regain reason and intelligence by devouring others. This is evidenced by the use of his real name.
  • In StarCraft one of the ways the Zerg evolve is by consuming other life-forms and absorbing their DNA, as shown in this video. In the backstory, the Zerg Overmind absorbed the power of the Xel'Naga Precursors by, well, absorbing them.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Yoshi gets this with Koopa shells, a lot — though downplayed as the power only lasts as long as the shell's in his mouth. Red ones grant him the ability to breathe fire, blue ones grant him flight, yellow ones let him make small earthquakes when he lands, and flashing shells grant all three of the above. If Yoshi is red, blue, or yellow, any Koopa shell will grant the power associated with that color — in addition to the shell's power, if applicable.
  • Touhou Project has a few examples:
  • In The Visitor, an online (and highly graphic) game series, the titular "visitor" is an alien parasite that can absorb the special abilities of any animal it devours from the inside out. If it eats a spider, it gains the ability to shoot webs; if it eats a dog, it gains a row of vicious teeth for biting, etc.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2:
    • Flesh Eater Blades are Blades that have taken human flesh into their bodies. While the majority of the ones we see had the flesh surgically grafted onto them, it is known that a Blade can simply eat part of a human to achieve the same thing. In the vast majority of cases, this results in the Blade's (permanent) death, in a smaller subset they become very long lived (centuries of life) but in constant pain, and in a tiny percentage they gain both greatly extended lifespans and massively enhanced powers.
    • Blade Eaters meanwhile approach this from the other end of the spectrum as humans who have implanted parts or all of a Blade's Core Crystal into their bodies. Similarly, while most of the ones we see had the Core Crystal parts surgically grafted into them, Amalthus' One-Winged Angel shows it's possible to straight-up absorb/eat the crystal. In most cases, this results in the human degenerating into an affront to the Architect, but in successful cases they gain access to the donor Blade's powers at will alongside vastly-increased lifespans (in the centuries).

    Visual Novels 
  • Cooking Companions: As Karin consumes more human meat, she becomes notably stronger, even managing to restrain Gregor and chop off his limbs with little trouble.
  • Fate/stay night: True Assassin is able to gain his victim's skills and intelligence by consuming their hearts.

    Web Comics 
  • Akuma's Comics: Early villain The Sprite Eater devours sprites and sprite comics that have met their end, and as a result can both replicate said sprites to do his bidding or use their powers offensively.
  • In Blessings it seems that this is one of the attributes of The Gourmand. If they should nibble on someone with a healing blessing, they get healed in turn. No indication for how long it lasts.
  • Bob of Captain SNES: The Game Masta is a rare (probably) heroic version. To his credit, the first time his ability is revealed, he states that he dislikes using it.
  • Vampires in Charby the Vampirate can gain powers and strength by eating older and more powerful vampires.
  • In the (Very NSFW) Chocolate Milkmaid, the title character has this, which is what results in her becoming Chocolate Milkmaid in the first place. The flashback showing when she was told about this ability makes it clear that she was suitably squicked by the implications. Fortunately for her, it turns out that body fluids work just as well.
  • Butch in Chopping Block is intermittently convinced he has this, although it's been repeatedly proven that he doesn't actually gain anything from killing people.
  • Exterminatus Now has Team Pet, Chao they eventually called Blasphemy. Chao!
  • Sevink from Geist Panik is a wendigo, meaning he can die once for every person he eats (dead or alive) and continue living. It helps that he's a Blood Knight, which allows him to fight through the pain of constantly dying and grants him access to plenty of dead people. Oh, and he's one of the good guys.
  • Irregular Webcomic! discussed the self-defeating side of this:
    Ponsonby: Why do you want to eat them anyway?
    Native: So we gain their abilities!
    Ponsonby: What, the ability to be captured and eaten by a bunch of primitives with inferior weapons?
    Annotation: The idea of gaining the powers and abilities of a deceased person by consuming their bodies is one of the more widespread reasons for cannibalism in various cultures around the world.
    Annotation: Do not let players in your roleplaying games think of this.

    Web Original 
  • The story Abundance in The Wanderer's Library is centered around a character who possesses a more literal version of this ability.
  • Carmilla of the Whateley Universe absorbs all the knowledge of the people and things she eats. Since she's a baby Great Old One, she's probably eating their souls too.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Wishology: The Eliminators normally use their Vacuum Mouth to send anything they eat into the Darkness. But if they need the extra power, that same ability can be used to integrate an item into their chassis. The Lead Eliminator manages to devour Timmy's roller skates and boombox, Crocker's ice gun, Dark Laser's Laser Blade, Jorgen's wand, and all of M.E.R.F.'s arsenal, at which point he goes One-Winged Angel.
  • Futurama:
    • After a computer scan finds a "rectangular mass" in Hermes's colon:
      Hermes: It's a calculator. I ate it to gain its power.
    • When Fry and Bender signed up for the army in "War is the H Word," Professor Farnsworth told Fry to eat the hearts of whoever he killed to gain their courage. There's no sign of there being anything to this besides the professor being a weirdo, though.
  • The Zombie Pumpkin Magisword from Mighty Magiswords gets different abilities from eating different types of pumpkins. For example, eating the seed of a giant pumpkin makes the Zombie Pumpkin Magisword grow gigantic.
  • In W.I.T.C.H., Cedric doublecrosses Phobos and eats him whole. In the process, he ends up gaining the powers of the Seal of Nerissa. Thankfully, he suffers from a major case of How Do I Shot Web?.
  • The only thing Marceline of Adventure Time inherited from her demon father, aside from grey skin and pointy ears, is the ability to devour souls, which in specific cases such as vampires gives her any special powers that soul had.

    Real Life 
  • There are beliefs such as eating your foe will give you his strength or courage. In fact, the word originally meant "strong man" and was used by tribes that believed this.
    • There is a statue in Tarabuco, Bolivia commemorating the victory of the native Quechua people over their Spanish conquerors. The statue shows a Quechua with an Ax-Crazy face standing over his defeated Spanish foe. The Spaniard has a gaping hole in his chest and the Quechua is eating his heart.
    • The Iroquois were known for doing this with their more respected (read: worthy of being absorbed) prisoners of war.
  • In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Tanzania, one of the various reasons for the persecution of albinos is the belief that eating their flesh will confer superpowers to the eater (which inspired the District 9 example, above).
  • Certain kinds of hydras, a simple aquatic lifeform related to jellyfish, have stinging cells powerful enough to stun small fish. When a flatworm eats a hydra, it assimilates stinging caps without discharging or digesting them, but incorporates them as its. Predators who target these flatworms meet with a nasty, stinging surprise, dissuading further predation attempts. This approach saw a lot of use for stinging cnidarians from hydra to jellyfish and a variety of eaters up to slugs adding more "zap" to their skin or transferring kleptocnidae into their tentacles to use more offensively.
    • A species of sea slug also exists that gains the ability to photosynthesize from the algae it eats.
  • A lot of insects are able to make themselves poisonous by eating poisonous plants. The poison doesn't harm them and sticks around in their body for a while without being broken down, making them either taste horrible or be downright toxic to anything that decides they would be a good meal.
  • An article from many decades ago called "Kill Them and Eat Them" suggested that was the way to deal with alien visitors. The killing part was presented as very rational: their very presence will disrupt our society and if they report back to their people then they will invade us. Sounded extreme but sensible. So why eat them? "To gain their power."
  • Poison dart frogs become so poisonous by eating stinging ants and other venomous insects. As a result, frogs bred in captivity and kept on different diets from their wild counterparts are much less dangerous.
  • Some of the indigenous tribes in South America used to believe that consuming the flesh of their enemies would grant them their strength and bravery. The poem I-Juca Pirama, by Brazilian poet Gonçalves Dias, is based on that idea.
  • Flamingos get their pink coloration from the shrimp they eat.
  • The idea of Gu poison is to seal several venomous creatures within a container, wait until they have devoured one another until only one of them remained, after which the survivor would be fed to larvae. The larva who would survive all that would contain all of the poison of the consumed animals.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Eating Superpower


Swallow the competition

From the music video for Music/BestFriend. A jealous Supermodel swallows her rival whole and gains her facial mole as a result.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouAreWhoYouEat

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