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Cranium Chase

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"I haven't lost my mind; it's right there!"

Not everyone dies when their head is separated from their neck. Some of them live on, and promptly try to get their heads back on their shoulders (it may take a few tries, however).

Usually, their bodies retain their motor abilities to do so, by some supernatural or humorous means. Having the head argue with the body and trying to give it directions is optional. In these cases, the Fridge Logic that the body has no ears to hear this is rarely addressed, although in instances when the body doesn't seem to be paying attention to the head's instructions it is possible that the fact that the body doesn't have ears simply didn't occur to the decapitated character, and the body cannot hear him.

Compare Pulling Themselves Together; whereas this is a more comedic trope where only the head is detached and the body searches for it, Pulling Themselves Together refers more to a significant part of their bodies reassembling themselves.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Played with in Fullmetal Alchemist. Though Al does lose his head every now and then, his soul is bound to the chestpiece of the armor. As a result, he can control his body and even see without his helmet.
  • Celty the Dullahan from Durarara!! traveled all the way from England to Japan in search of her head. It's her body that is fully sentient, whereas her head is in a deep sleep.
  • One Piece:
    • In the Punk Hazard arc, the samurai Kin'emon's head is separated from the rest of his body — not only that, but his head is cut into pieces, too (which leads into a brief hilarity when the Straw Hats try to put it together like a puzzle). It's revealed later that it's Trafalgar Law's doing.
    • Law himself, with his Devil Fruit power, can disassemble other people's body parts non-fatally. The first time we see him using his power, he detaches a Marine officer's head and replaces it with a cannonball that is about to hit him — not long after, said head screams in agony as his body gets burned, without any concern to his, well, neck.
  • In Monster Musume, Lala the Dullahan is introduced by having the protagonist help her track down her detachable head.

    Comic Books 
  • On one occasion in Master of Kung-Fu, the evil robot Brynocki finds himself chasing after his head after it is knocked loose.

    Films — Animation 
  • Princess Mononoke plays this for horror with the Forest Spirit, whose body turns into an enormous Eldritch Abomination draining life from nearly everything in sight, seeking reunion with its severed head, which can still move.
  • Daffy Duck has his head detached while Mother is demonstrating the laser beam function of DJ's spy phone in Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Daffy's body starts feeling around the lab floor for its missing head. "No, no, stupid, over here."
  • In Robots, Fender's head falls off because he's lost the bolt that keeps it in place due to a failed attempt at stealing Rodney's foot. He tries to pick it up but keeps accidentally kicking it away.
  • In the Sugar Rush Speedway game in Wreck-It Ralph, some of Taffyta's fans are anthropomorphic lollipops, and when Ralph accidentally trashes the stands, part of the damage he does is to knock off the head of one such fan, which goes rolling along the ground whilst the body frantically chases it.
  • Frozen: As demonstrated by Anna and Kristoff's impromptu game of Hot Potato upon first meeting him, the lower part of Olaf's body is often seen wandering aimlessly when his head's not attached (as pictured above).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Hocus Pocus, Billy's head gets lost and he spends a few seconds to find it again.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, one of Davy Jones' henchmen loses his head. The body then stumbles about trying to find the head while the head tries in vain to give it directions. Eventually he gets tired of waiting and turns into a hermit crab to move on his own.
  • In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the King of The Moon's head prefers to stay off its body, which fills it with animalistic urges. There is a scene with the body chasing after the flying head.
  • In Attack of the Clones, C3PO loses his head (which is attached to a battle droid body) and gets himself a battle droid head instead. Both parts of C3PO then travel to the Geonosis Arena with the battle droids, where R2 and a Jedi help reassemble C3PO.
  • Use to incredibly creepy effect in Return to Oz with Mombi, a sorceress with mix-and-match heads, one of which catches Dorothy stealing from her. The head starts screaming, as does every other head Mombi keeps on display, as her headless body pursues Dorothy.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) has Humma Kavula take one of Zaphod's heads as an incentive for Zaphod to bring him the point of view gun.

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has the Headless Haunt, a performance troupe/social club of headless ghosts who deliberately invoke this trope for comedy purposes, performing tricks such as head-juggling with their severed heads. Nearly-Headless Nick is very resentful that they won't let him in due to his partially-attached head.
  • In Skuldeggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked, Darquesse gets her head ripped off by Mevolent. She manages to magically reattach it before her brain dies.
  • In The Legend of Huma, Huma attempts to stop the immortal warlord Crynus by decapitating him with his own battle axe. Unfortunately this barely slows Crynus down, forcing Huma and his companion Kaz into a scramble to keep the severed head away from the still-mobile body. They attempt to use the head as bait to lure the body in front of the sacred Dragonlance that they believe can destroy it, but the body is alarmingly intelligent considering its brains are in a different location and dodges their attempt to skewer it. In the end, Crynus is only destroyed by the dragonfire of the Silver Dragon, just as he's about to put his head back on.
  • In The Truth, vampire iconographer Otto Chriek is briefly separated from his head and has to ask for help in reuniting it with his body. Apparently it "stings a bit".
  • Tsotha-Lanti, the Big Bad of "The Scarlet Citadel", attempts that at the end of the story after being decapitated by Conan. Of course, with the head promptly snatched up by a powerful rival sorcerer, his chances of retrieving it appear slim, but he still runs after it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The second episode of Cybervillage begins with Robogozin’s head breaking off and the body running around.
  • A story arc of Dark Shadows was about the severed head of warlock Judah Zachery seeking to be reunited with its body.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Pandorica Opens", Amy Pond finds a Cyberman head that still manages to be a threat thanks to Combat Tentacles. After she gets some distance...
  • In Ghosts (UK), the decapitated head of ghost Humphrey regularly tries (and fails) to give directions to his body to pick him up.
  • A truly outrageous version of this trope happens in the TVB fantasy-drama, Gods Of Honor, when the hero Nezha is challenged by Shen Gong-bao the sorcerer on who can survive the longest after decapitation. Because of their magical nature, they both can survive decapitation and levitate their heads, leading to their flying craniums battling each other in a mid-air chase while their headless bodies remain standing on the ground.
  • In the TV miniseries Kingdom Hospital, a decapitated ghost whose body had its head severed in a morgue prank wanders around the netherworldly "Old Kingdom", fumbling blindly for its missing part. While Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At?" plays on the soundtrack.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "Chopper". The skull and body of a dead man are separated. The man's ghost animates his dead body as a Headless Horseman and goes on a search for his head, killing the people who murdered him along the way.
  • Red Dwarf: In "Cured", Kryten wakes up to discover that his head has been removed from his body and stuck on top of a mop handle. His head starts yelling instructions to his body which is blundering along the corridor searching for it.
  • In Scrubs, some of J.D.'s Imagine Spots feature him as the "Floating Head Doctor", in which his head is floating around, separated from his body. This usually ends with J.D.'s body catastrophically screwing up the tasks that his head tells him to do.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. A construction worker finds the severed head of a Terminator and takes it home as it goes with his goth décor. Unfortunately the rest of the body comes looking for it.
  • The Young Ones:
    • Two headless ghosts wander through the lads' apartment having an argument. Both drop their heads, and their bodies grope around for anything spherical (a goldfish bowl, a grapefruit) that they can tuck under their arms. Later, the two reappear arguing about which head the body with the nicer bottom belongs to.
    • Vyvyan gets his head knocked off by looking out of a train window. His body is directed by his head to pick it up, but the body keeps kicking it along instead.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Jack, in the legend of the Jack o'Lantern. Originally, it was a turnip, but he lost his head after making a deal with the devil and then double-crossing him. Neither Heaven nor Hell will accept him, and he uses the turnip/pumpkin as a temporary head while looking for his real one.
  • Procopius of Cesarea attributed this as a demonic power to the Emperor Justinian. Granted, his Secret History was ramblings of a disgruntled employee trying to smear his superiors as much as ungodly possible, so...

  • Johnny Came Home Headless by The Arrogant Worms involves the narrator's room-mate getting decapitated during a bender and failing to notice. The second verse involves him and Johnny's body trying to find it back and failing, due to Johnny being "absent-minded." The third verse inverts the trope, Johnny's head comes looking for his (now rotten) body.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In a non-comedy example from the Ravenloft setting, Jacqueline Montarri was cursed by the Vistani to live on without her head. She murders victims to appropriate their heads, then wears them to pass for human as she scours the Land of Mists for her missing original.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The skeletal stal- enemies cannot be killed directly, and will simply collapse into an animated cranium and a pile of bones after being dealt enough damage. After reassembling, the body will try to find and reattach its lost head, aided in this by its cranium actively hopping towards it. In fact, any stal body will happily reattach any head of the same type.
  • LEGO Island: Played for laughs in a Random Encounter. A civilian is walking along, then a truck goes by and knocks his head off. The head starts giving directions to the body, which is ineffectually trying to pick up the head and put it back on.
    Civilian: Hey, I'm over here! To your left! Er, my left. Er, our left. (body goes left) Right. (body goes right) No, not "go right," "correct!" (body accidentally kicks head) It's not a soccer game! Use your brain! Oh, I guess that's over here. (body kicks head again) Ow! Just bend down slow and— (body kicks head high into the air, and it lands on the neck) He shoots, he scores, OW!
  • In Alone in the Dark 3, at one point the player encounters a beheaded invincible zombie. To defeat him, the player must take his head, which is lying on a nearby table, and throw it to a pit so that the zombie jumps into the pit looking for his head.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has an enemy called Yorick, which is a skeleton chasing his own head... and continually stumbling into it and kicking it like a soccer ball.
  • In Disney Villains' Revenge, Alice gets her head chopped off and the player has to go into a hedge maze to retrieve it.
  • In Planescape: Torment, there's Mertwyn the Headless, whose severed head occupies a metal box and has to be carried around... until some thugs stole it and ran off. Since the body can't see where he's going, he's been reduced to wandering the halls and bumping into things, while the head tries to get someone to bring him back. He'll also refuse to explain how this condition came about. While his body appears to be perfectly fine (aside from lacking a head), his head's condition is apparently pretty gruesome, as he begs The Nameless One not to look into the box it's kept in.
  • One of the Snowlems in Frosty Nights leaves his head on a windowsill. The head then rolls onto the floor when his body enters, before it puts its head back on and goes after the child.
  • The Onkies from the row games may sometime lose their head which rolls a bit away when falling so their body have to get it back.
  • Earthworm Jim builds game mechanics around this trope. You hop about as a naked Jim, seeking to re-enter your super suit.
  • Skullgirls: Ms Fortune's head (and the rest of her body) are all detachable and she can even move around as nothing but a head after she throws it as a weapon. She can also call her body over to her head if she wants to reattach.
  • World of Warcraft: While fighting the Headless Horseman, he loses his head, both in the Hallowe'en world event and in the actual dungeon fight. Players have to kill the boss' body, then his head, then kill the body all over again to win the fight.

  • Rusty and Co.: Ezra the vampiress is decapitated three times by Madeline, each time putting back her head on her shoulders (though after a Staircase Tumble for the third). Then again by Cube, who counters her regeneration by putting it backwards.
  • In Bite Me!, Ginerva winds up falling victim to the guillotine after a group of the, ah, disaffected proletariat find her aristocratic mien to be singularly insufferable. Being a vampiress, this is a comparatively brief disadvantage. (She wears a ribbon to keep her head tied on for the rest of her existence, though.)

    Western Animation 
  • Grim from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is a constant victim of this.
  • On the Looney Tunes short Mouse Menace, a robot cat loses its head. It feels around for it but picks up a toaster and puts it on for a while before eventually stumbling into its own head.
  • In the Teen Titans (2003) episode "Fractured", Starfire's head and body are separated when Larry messes with reality. She then has to chase it down.
  • Parodied in Batman: The Animated Series when the wooden dummy Scarface's head is severed, and the Ventriloquist chases after it.
  • Futurama zigzags this with regard to Bender, depending on Rule of Funny. In some episodes, Bender's head and body act as separate characters when separated, but they usually work together to commit crimes. One episode inverts the trope: when Bender's head is separated from his body, the head tries to chase after the body (who has found a new, more evil head).
  • What A Cartoon! Show has two instances of this.
    • In Sledgehammer O'Possum: Out and About, where the antagonistic dog character gets decapitated by a tree branch. This leads to the titular O'Possum faking the body out by making it run off a cliff after its head.
    • Wind-Up Wolf also does this, with the titular character getting his head knocked off by a boxing glove. This leads to the body trying to put a large rock in place of it, leading the body to drop the rock on the head, flattening it.
  • Kaeloo: Happens quite frequently to Quack Quack.
  • Monster Beach: Inverted. Widget, one of the monsters, is a zombie and her body parts can be disassembled flawlessly. In one episode, her head wakes up without the rest of the body and she starts to look for it.
  • The Crumpets: Ditzy jumps and tries to catch back her balloon head after it's blown by one of her sisters in one episode. Otherwise, she sometimes likes having her head separate, like having to hold its string like a balloon.
  • Aladdin: The Series: In the episode "Dune Quixote", Genie's head gets seperated from his body while his friends are in the middle of a life-threatening situation.
    Genie's head: (whistles) Over here! This way! (whistles) Wait, what am I whistling for? I'm the part with ears.
  • Seven Little Monsters: Seven is capable of surviving removing his own head and often finds himself in situations where he loses his head and has to get it back.


Video Example(s):



In Robots, Fender's head falls off because he's lost the bolt that keeps it in place after falling down due to a failed attempt at stealing Rodney's foot. He tries to pick it up but keeps accidentally kicking it away.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / CraniumChase

Media sources: