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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. Alternatively, this can be used as a means of communications for villains lacking the human anatomy or brain unction required for speech, justifiying their ability to speak with other characters.

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 this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. 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. Pain also did this to five other people, who make up the initial Six Paths of Pain alongside Yahiko. After one of the Paths is captured by Jiraiya, he replaces it with a female corpse.
    • Sasori is another example. He uses the body of his dead friend Komushi to make a replica puppet after the original died from poisoning. He also fashioned a puppet from the corpse of the Third Kazekage, which retains his kekkei genkai. And then it's revealed that Sasori made himself a puppet as well, with only his beating heart keeping himself alive.
    • It's revealed in the Fourth Ninja World War arc that Kankuro kept Sasori's modified body as a puppet for himself.

    Comic Books 
  • A chapter of The Sandman (1989) set in the French Revolution shows decapitated bodies used as giant marionettes after a public execution.
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • One Dilbert story had Alice kill the pointy-haired boss and use him as this.
  • 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.

    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 
  • Ace Ventura: Though the Monopoly Guy is only unconscious, Ace's performance with him certainly must count.
  • 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 Dead And Breakfast, the villain uses the head of one of his victims as a hand puppet.
  • A creepy version in Dead Silence: The uncle is a marionette made from his own body.
  • In The Dictator Aladeen and Nadal sneak into the funeral of a deceased African warlord to take his beard so that Aladeen can make a convincing fake beard for himself, but are forced to chop the man's head off and run when they're discovered. However, after creating the beard, Aladeen keeps the dead guy's head and uses it like a handpuppet to have some fun scaring Nadal.
  • In The Evil Within, Dennis kills Lydia and turns their body into a puppet.
  • In Independence Day, the captured alien at Area 51 uses the body of Dr. Okun after strangling him to talk to the president. The sequel retcons this by revealing that Okun didn't die but fell into a coma after being a temporary Meat Puppet.
  • 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 Killer Klowns from Outer Space one of the Klowns, Jumbo, uses the corpse of officer Mooney as a ventriloquist's dummy to talk to Dave, apparently shoving its hand into his back.
  • 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 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 Repo! The Genetic Opera, the Repo Man does this to a guy he's just... well... repo'd. Poor sucker.
  • 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 Starship Troopers it's heavily implied that the Brain Bug did this with radio operator Farley, making him send a Distress Call that lures the Roughnecks into a trap at the Whisky Outpost on Planet P.
  • 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!
  • In Tropic Thunder director Damien Cockburn gets blown up by an old landmine in the jungle, but Tugg Speedman assumes that it's All Part of the Show and toys with Damien's bloodied head believing it to be a movie prop and moves its mouth to make it "talk", all while being observed by Laotian drug dealers that assume Tugg and his group don't fear death.
  • 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.
  • In The Devils Of D-Day by Graham Masterton, the demon Elmek possesses a local priest. When the protagonist demands to know what happened to the real Father Anton, Elmek points out he just stepped on his entrails. Turns out in this case Demonic Possession means ripping out the victim's insides and sitting inside the body, working it like a literal puppet.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Magical Girl Hunters, Yoi uses Pretty Marshal Rose's corpse in this manner to sneak his way through a Magical Girl complex.
  • 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.
  • There Is No Epic Loot Here, Only Puns: "Slimers" are the result of algae infesting a dead body, replacing the water with more algae, and then animating it. Fortunately, although their water-draining ability makes them dangerous, they're not very smart; several of them trap themselves in Delta's mud pit by draining the water and turning the mud solid around them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show: Dandy Mott kills his own mother, and turns her corpse into a giant marionette.
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead: In "Bound in Flesh" Deadite Amanda kills two hikers by ramming her hands into the back of their heads, thus getting control of their mouths which she moves like puppets to mock Pablo and Kelly.
  • 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 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.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "Like Angels Put in Hell by God", after Lestat de Lioncourt tears off the head of the train conductor, he moves its lower jaw to make it seem like the severed head is "talking" as part of his demented and impromptu ventriloquist act in front of Claudia.
  • 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 "
  • The Outer Limits (1995): The episode "Dead Man's Switch" has aliens do this to the President of the United States in order to con a soldier into keeping a doomsday machine inactive.
  • In the mortuary scene in the 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.
  • In the Tales from the Darkside episode "No Strings", a cruel mob boss does this with the corpse of his dead rival.
  • 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.

  • 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 
  • Bravest Warriors: In the minisode "Dramabug", Catbug plays with a dead mouse attached to marionette strings.
  • In Charlie the Unicorn, the Grand Finale reveals that this is true of every character seen thus far in the series besides Charlie and Starfish. Specifically, they're corpses being controlled by demons unleashed 10,000 years ago that have killed virtually the entire world and now simply torment the survivors for their own sadistic amusement. This explains their bizarre movement, impossible abilities, and tendency to explode.
  • DEATH BATTLE!: At the end of the "Deadpool vs. Deathstroke" battle, a victorious Deadpool uses Deathstroke's severed head as a puppet to mock 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sluggy Freelance had Zombie-Head-on-a-Stick.

    Web Original 
  • The Misadventures of Skooks: In part five, one of the sights that Fred points out while trekking through the woods is Shaggy using the upper half of Velma's bisected body as a ventriloquist dummy. "Velma" frantically urges Fred to "look at the head," only for his attention to shift to Romani Ranch.
  • Robbaz: In the Skyrim VR videos, Robbaz often picks up the corpses of people or animals he kills in the game and makes up a scenario with them (usually involving the dead thing begging Robbaz not to punch them, only for Robbaz to punch them anyway.)
  • In Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG, Mr. Welch has been banned from doing this.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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: Discussed in Bender's Game; 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."
  • Harley Quinn (2019): 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?"
  • Monkey Dust: One sketch where the Paedofinder General intrudes upon a Nativity play features him using a severed head as a hand puppet.
  • In Robot Chicken, Casper's brother, 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.
  • 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. After it, Burns is shown to be alive; according to him, all the movement from the puppet act got his heart running again.
  • In Love, Death & Robots, this occurs in Bad Travelling, The Very Pulse of the Machine and Swarm, each time for an alien puppeteer in order to facilitate communication with humans.

    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.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / DeadGuyPuppet

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