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Dead Guy Puppet

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"Or after I lop it, I make a puppet, On top of a staaaaaaff"

"It's like putting on a cute puppet show at your great aunt's funeral! WITH YOUR GREAT AUNT!"

Killing somebody in cold blood is generally considered bad. So is desecrating their corpse or making light of their death.

...Hey! Wouldn't it be awesomely evil if we did all three at once?

Making a Dead Guy Puppet is a simple process: Simply take a corpse (preferably of somebody you've slaughtered yourself) and use him as a makeshift marionette or ventriloquist dummy. You can even make an easy-to-carry Hand Puppet variant simply by cutting off the corpse's head. Be sure you do your routine in front of the corpse's friends and family — they'll love it!

A variation of this is The Undead, when the puppet is made Back from the Dead via necromancy.

This is usually done mostly For the Evulz and generally qualifies as a Kick the Dog action. Naturally, villains who use this tend to have a bad sense of humor.


Compare Desecrating the Dead, Of Corpse He's Alive, where the puppeteer is actually trying to convince people the corpse isn't dead, and Grievous Harm with a Body, where the puppeteer uses the corpse as a weapon to bludgeon the others. Not to be confused with People Puppets.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Used to horrific effect in Deadman Wonderland where Toto (or Toto's corpse possessed by the Mad Scientist Hagire) uses a soldier's decapitated head as a hand puppet (plunging his hand right into the bloody stump) to taunt the heroes.
  • Naruto:
    • Pain does this to Yahiko: he uses his body and fills it with chakra-sensitive rods so that he can manipulate it at will. He can even use it to speak. This isn't done out of depravity, but because he truly believed Yahiko to be the child of promise and that Yahiko would be the one to bring peace to the world. And it's practical: Pain (the real one, Nagato) can't even walk.
    • Sasori is another example. He uses the body of his dead friend Komushi to make a replica puppet after the original died from poisoning.
    • It's revealed in the Fourth Ninja World War arc that Kankuro kept Sasori's modified body as a puppet for himself.

    Comic Books 
  • The Spawn comic book spinoff The Violator features a disturbing series of scenes in which The Violator uses a guy's corpse as a puppet. The guy was a member of Cosa Nostra. At first, the corpse is fresh enough to fool the others into thinking that he's still alive so that The Violator can get the drop on the other Mafia guys. The guy's head somehow gets disconnected from the body, so that The Violator is carrying a guy's head around on his wrist, having punched through the back of the guy's head and out through his mouth. At this point, the head becomes a split personality for The Violator, and when this split personality angers The Violator, The Violator then smashes the head against the ground, mangling his own hand in the process, as it is still sticking out of the head's mouth.
  • A chapter of The Sandman set in the French Revolution shows decapitated bodies used as giant marionettes after a public execution.
  • in Spider-Man: Reign, Doctor Octopus does this to himself. He programs his arms (still attached to his corpse) to rescue Spider-Man after he dies and get him to reignite the age of superpowered beings.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one strip of The Far Side, a bear entertains his cubs by making two human skulls ask each other if there are bears in the cave.
  • One Dilbert story had Alice kill the pointy-haired boss and use him as this.

    Fan Works 
  • After Moriah snaps and awakens his devil fruit in This Bites!, he turns his former zombie soldiers into "draugr". Without the shadows of people acting as artificial souls, Moriah stuffs the corpses with the inert shadows of things like rocks or buildings, then forcefully puppets the bodies to attack. Things go from bad to worse when he uses this on the body of Oars to make a "Jotunn".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 from 1986: The Hitchhiker from the first movie is now a dried-up husk of a corpse named Nubbins. At first, Leatherface wears Nubbins like a costume. And then later, Choptop uses Nubbins as a puppet.
    Choptop: [as Nubbins] Big ol' craaaazy booger!
  • A creepy version in Dead Silence: The uncle is a marionette made from his own body.
  • In Killer Klowns from Outer Space, one of the Klowns uses a cop as a ventriloquist's dummy to talk to his partner, apparently shoving its hand into his back.
  • In Alaska, the poachers kill a mother polar bear and capture the cub. In a later scene, one of them takes the mother's hollowed out carcass and uses it as a hand puppet to tease the cub.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, the Repo Man does this to a guy he's just... well... repo'd. Poor sucker.
  • Ace Ventura: Though the Monopoly Guy is only unconscious, Ace's performance with him certainly must count.
  • In Independence Day, the captured alien at Area 51 uses the body of a scientist it killed to talk to the president.
  • In the behind-the-scenes features for Jeepers Creepers 2, there was a scrapped scene where the Creeper would try to lure his next victims over with this tactic, hiding behind a rock. They decided not to do it, however, stating they felt it too soon for the Creeper to speak.
  • In Dead And Breakfast, the villain uses the head of one of his victims as a hand puppet.
  • In Mindhunters, the killer kidnaps Harris (the group's supervisor), who had remained on the island in secret, and tortures him to death. After it seems like Harris is the killer himself, the group finds his corpse hanging from the ceiling in an abandoned warehouse as a grotesque marionette. They accidentally trigger a switch which animates the corpse to do a dance to a massively inappropriate upbeat jingle.
  • In Smokin' Aces, Darwin Tremor murders Jack Dupree which is followed up by a macabre human ventriloquist dummy action with Darwin manipulating the dead Dupree's mouth with his hand and thumb and throwing his voice so as if to have a conversation with the recently departed.
  • In The Evil Within, Dennis kills Lydia and turns their body into a puppet.
  • In The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl, Higetsu attempts to do this to Kanna, despite her being alive and conscious (although bound): grabbing her jaw and forcing her to mouth along to his word about how grateful she is to be taken to his village. she bites him.
  • In Weekend at Bernie's, puppeting the eponymous (and deceased) Bernie while pretending he's not actually dead is the entire plot.

  • Ladd Russo from Baccano! uses one of Chane's Lemure allies in this manner.
  • Rare heroic example: In the novel On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Hurwood dies before he can signal his accomplice on shore from the deck of his ship. Shandy is forced to convert the villain's corpse into a marionette that can perform the necessary gesture, else the accomplice will carry out a voodoo ritual that will evict Beth's soul from her body.
  • Lord of the Flies has the infamous pig head on a stick. Jack also tries to mount Ralph's head in the same way, but is interrupted when they are finally rescued.
  • Quite gruesome example in A Song of Ice and Fire : after betraying and killing Robb Stark and his direwolf (and also his mother and almost all of his captains), the Frey behead his body, hack the head off the direwolf, stitch the direwolf's head onto Robb's neck, and parade the body around the camp. His mother Catelyn Tully has her throat slit, is stripped of her clothes and thrown into the river in a parody of her house' funeral customs.
  • Robert Bloch's short story "The Final Performance". An aged ventriloquist, finding out his young ward is fooling around with a guy, kills her and uses her body to tell the guy the affair is over.
  • In Magical Girl Hunters, Yoi uses Pretty Marshal Rose's corpse in this manner to sneak his way through a Magical Girl complex.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Tales from the Darkside episode "No Strings", a cruel mob boss does this with the corpse of his dead rival.
  • Joked about on Mock the Week. "Hello, I'm Menzies Campbell. I would like to assure you all that I'm not dead, nor am I being operated by a system of pulleys "
  • In Farscape, Rygel killed his Arch-Enemy Durka, put his head on a stick, and used it as a jester's marotte. Not that Durka wasn't an incredibly nasty piece of work, but Rygel is one of the good guys.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?:
    • An occasional gag, most commonly with Ryan Stiles and/or "Scenes from a Hat".
      Drew Carey: Things not to do at a funeral...
    • It's the basis for the game "Dead Bodies", where one player (usually Colin) persists in performing a scene in a play after all of the other actors have died and therefore has to provide everyone else's voice and movement.
  • One episode of The Outer Limits (1995) had aliens do this to the president of the United States in order to con a soldier into keeping a doomsday machine inactive.
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show: Dandy Mott kills his own mother, and turns her corpse into a giant marionette.
  • Bones: The eleventh season features a reoccurring serial killer dubbed "The Puppet Master" by the fandom. Unsurprisingly, he gets his name from the fact that he turns his victims' corpses into puppets, something so disturbing that it outright terrifies the normally stoic main characters. The unidentified killer is also a not-so-literal puppet master; he uses underlings who he manipulates using force and blackmail, and then attempts to set them up as the murderer in his place, and is able to use internet hacking and surveillance to stalk the Jeffersonian forensics team.
  • In the mortuary scene in Sherlock episode "The Lying Detective", the villain Culverton mockingly uses an elderly woman's corpse as a ventriloquist's dummy, to Sherlock and John's disgust.

  • The graveyard scene in Hamlet has a bunch of lines which could easily be played this way; the most blatant is probably:
    Hamlet: [This could be the skull] of a courtier; which could say "Good morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, good lord?" This might be my lord such-a-one, that praised my lord such-a-one's horse, when he meant to beg it; might it not?

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Pictured above is Richard from Looking for Group, who not only makes a Dead Guy Puppet but also sings about it in Slaughter Your World.
  • Sluggy Freelance had Zombie-Head-on-a-Stick.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the Chaotic Good Lord Shojo does this, in order to make a point that it's the heroes' fault the corpse is dead.
    "Wizard": Oh, yes, Lord Shojo! I'm enjoying being a partially-digested skeleton! Especially now that I've learned it happened on a trip that had no actual bearing on the mission for which he had been paid in advance!
    Roy: OK, fine. You're right. We'll head to Girard's Gate right now.
    Shojo: Great idea! Here, I'll have my best wizard teleport you!
    "Wizard": Sure thing, Lord Shojo! TELEPORT! [Shojo throws the body at Roy]
    Roy: GAH!
    Shojo: Oh, look at that. It didn't work. I guess you'll have to wait until we're done resurrecting him.
  • Butch of Chopping Block gave Jim Henson the funeral he would have wanted.
  • Taken to an extreme in Ingress Adventuring Company. Derik spent his days collecting the bodies of villagers, just to combine them together into one puppet corpse that he attached a soul to.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: Though it wasn't someone he killed, Peter finds an Indian burial ground in his backyard, including a skull, in the episode "Petergeist". He names it "Chief Lou Diamond Phillips" and uses it as a puppet, among other things.
  • Frisky Dingo: Evil alien Killface kidnaps several PR execs to force them to help making his public announcements. When one angers him, he shoots him with a heavy caliber gun, blowing him in half... then picks up the torso-half, thrusts his hand all the way inside him until his hand is behind the corpse's jaw, and starts sarcastically "playing" him literally like a ventriloquist's dummy... for an extended period of time... in front of his twin brother who is begging him to stop. Some time later, the twin brother angers him too, so Killface shoots him in half too... then stacks the torso-half next to that of his brother, and quips "I made you a little friend". Vote Killface for President!
  • Futurama: Bender's Game: Discussed: Hermaphrodite mentions to Leela that her friends face certain death at the hands of Momon's minions, "followed by a disrespectful marionette show performed with their corpses."
  • The Simpsons:
    • After digging up Jebediah Springfield to disprove the vocal Lisa Simpson's claims in "Lisa the Iconoclast", Chief Wiggum tries his hand at ventriloquism with the city-founder's skull.
    • This happens to Mr. Burns in "Weekend at Burnsie's" when Homer and Smithers think they've accidentally killed him and end up operating him like a marionette to prevent people from discovering he's died. It turns out in the end, though, that Burns was still alive and didn't really die.
  • In American Dad!, a dozen of Stan's fellow C.I.A agents are murdered in a shoot out after he botches a mission due to his bad-acting (and partly for going slightly off-script). Stan blames himself, but one of the operatives reassures him with his dying breath... only for it to turn out to be Roger, who was using the man's corpse as a puppet and immediately asks Stan how good his acting skills were.
  • In Robot Chicken, Casper's cousin, Jasper the Douchebag Ghost, puppets the recently-deceased corpse of an old woman to tell her grandchild how she always hated him, before dropping the woman and calling the kid a retard.
  • Harley Quinn: The Joker's Establishing Character Moment has him tear off a costume he made out of someone's skin and then use the ensuing face-mask as a hand puppet, thoroughly squicking out the onlookers (who knew the victim).
    The Joker: Apologies, but your friend Rupert couldn't face coming out here! *Evil Laugh* "I'm so sad... Where's my body?"

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):



By the time Miss Annity gets to him, Peter is a corpse being puppeteered by her webs as part of a moral lesson.

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