Mr. Halloway: To stuff yourselves on other people's nightmares.
Mr. Dark: And butter our plain bread with delicious pain. So, you do understand a little.
Some monsters get no kick from champagne. Mere alcohol doesn't thrill them at all. It's the taste of someone else's emotions that does it for them. An Emotion Eater is someone who draws psychic nourishment or power from another person's emotions, and will usually do what they can to instill those emotions in others.
Due to the Rule of Drama, an emotion eater will rarely feed on positive emotions. Instead they will more likely draw nourishment from fear, hate, envy, or lust, and the process of seeding these emotions can turn Suburbia into a gangland ghetto. If they do feed off of positive emotions, in all likelihood their gimmick is to drain the ability to feel these emotions from their victims, turning them into Empty Shells.
These creatures always work to increase them, no matter how much is already in the world. Evil Cannot Comprehend Good or Blue-and-Orange Morality may lead to "sharing the love" in creepy ways or spreading horror that translates as narm. One way to beat the Emotion Eater can be to deny them that emotion, which can be easier said than done when the fed upon emotion is fear.
The concept has a fair degree of crossover with the "psychic vampire", a type of being that feeds not on blood, but on a person's life force. Usually, this vampirism is at its most potent when the victim is in the throes of powerful emotions. It also often has the side effect of the victim ending up drained and unable to feel any emotion... or worse.
A subtrope to Abstract Eater. Compare The Heartless and Exotic Entree. See also Made of Evil. Less closely related is Gods Need Prayer Badly. Powered by a Forsaken Child is when some sort of mechanism uses this as a power source. As Long as There is Evil is a closely related trope when a villain is an Emotion Eater on a human race-wide scale. An Emotion Eater may be extra-susceptible to an Emotion Bomb, or they might use them on their prey instead.
See I Know What You Fear for how one particular emotion may be 'encouraged'.
For all the talk about how villainous most Emotion Eaters are, albeit well-deserved, it should be noted that there are comparatively rare cases of those who use their powers benevolently. Examples of non-malicious Emotion Eaters usually feed by passively absorbing excess emotional energy from one or more targets harmlessly or only drain those who consent to the process. If they actively drain targets, they usually take care to only drain negative emotions such as anger, hate, sorrow, or fear, resulting in much more positive or clearer mindsets for the target.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Live-Action TV
- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire: The Heart of Atlantis is a malfunctioning example, in the sense that it thrived on ancient emotions instead of recently gathered feelings.
- Monsters, Inc..: The city of Monstropolis is powered through the screams of little children. It turns out laughter works a lot better.
- The Sirens from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks get their powers by feeding on the negative energy of those hypnotized by their Mind-Control Music. The more negative energy they consume, the stronger their voices become until they have everyone under their control.
- The Merovingian's wife in The Matrix craves the emotions of others, especially love. This is why she keeps making people kiss her.
- The Harvesters in The Deaths of Ian Stone primarily feed on fear, and encourage tales of boogeymen throughout The Multiverse so as to have an easier time harvesting it. Some time back, they discovered that the most delicious fear comes from the instant before death, and became addicted to slaughtering their victims. It turns out they're not Always Chaotic Evil, and if they get into an Interspecies Romance they can also sustain themselves on love.
- In Ghostbusters II, Vigo uses a river of slime beneath the city to gather and feed on people's negative emotions. The slime is later used by the Ghostbusters against him after they expose it to some positive emotions.
- Pennywise / IT in It (2017). He makes a point of scaring the daylights out of his victims rather than going in for the kill, for the same reason the rest of us would season a well-cooked meal.
- The monsters in Girl vs. Monster. When they feed on their victims' fear, they will be more stronger and powerful.
- The Tingler is an old sci-fi / horror movie where Vincent Price discoveres a parasitic entity that lives inside the human spine, feeding on fear. Somewhat counterintuitively, screaming actually hurts the tingler, since giving voice to fear channels it away from the parasite.
- In The Adventure Zone: Balance, Edward and Lydia feed off suffering to sustain Wonderland.
- Episode 3 of Death By Dying has the Silent Nuns who turn out to be empathic vampires who drain all of the sadness from the Greif Support Group.
- Starting in the fourth season of The Magnus Archives, Jonathan Sims, the Archivist, develops a physical need for the statements. It is revealed that this hunger is shared among Avatars of the various Entities, as Daisy withers when actively denying her need to Hunt. The Entities all feed on fear in one way or another, but Jon specifically is feeding on the emotions of the storytellers and making people relive their horrific encounters. He is tired and disheveled when unable to force stories out of victims for an extended period and becomes more powerful after having fed.
- GDW's Dark Conspiracy supplement Dark Races Volume I Compendium
- The dread sidhe feed on the energy of negative human emotions such as anger and despair. They receive more pleasure from doing so if they are the targets of the emotions.
- The dreamweaver monster causes sleeping people to suffer nightmares and feeds on the victim's confusion, fear and misery. It also feeds on the anxiety the victim's friends feel.
- The wendigo torments and terrorizes its human prey in order to absorb the emotions of fear and terror it needs to survive.
- RWBY: The Creatures of Grimm are drawn to negative emotion. Feelings like fear, sorrow, or anger will cause Grimm to congregate to the source. The more intense theses feelings, the more Grimm are drawn. This gets exploited in Volume 3 when Cinder causes a panic by tricking Pyrrha into killing Penny on live television; the amount of fear and anger draws in every Grimm for miles around, overwhelming Vale's defenses and leaving the city in ruins.
- The Godzilla Fan Film Godzilla vs the Kaiju Killer has Gabara reimagined as an entity created by Stalkkus to feed on the fear of his victims.
- In Mortasheen, the Devilbirds all definitely fit this trope, all in many terrifying ways. (Except for Sloth.)
- More than a few interpretations of the Slender Man suggest/theorize that he consumes the fear of his victims. What a shocking development.
- Nightmares, the Monster Clown archenemy of The The Thrilling Adventure Hour's Frank and Sadie Doyle, feeds off fear to grow powerful. This turns the Doyles into his personal kryptonite. Sadie finds clowns hilarious, so she can't take him seriously enough to be afraid and, thanks to Sadie, Frank no longer fears Nightmares despite his being Frank's childhood boogeyman. His second and third appearances focus on him finding ways to generate enough fear to make him powerful enough to manifest after being previously vanquished.
- SCP Foundation
- There is some speculation among Foundation personnel that SCP-589 "The Price of Obsession" feeds off of the intense anguish it causes its obsessed victims after it leaves them.
- SCP-708 ("The Big Orange Forklift"). Some Foundation scientists believe that SCP-708 feeds on its driver's enthusiasm.
- SCP-932 ("Night Feeder"). These creatures find a sleeping person, pin them down and wake them up. They then consume the fear the victim feels at the situation they're in.
- SCP-1293 ("Squeedle Deedle Dee!"). These creatures trick human beings into feeling certain emotions so they can feed on them. Type A feeds on feelings of unease and perturbation, and Type B feeds on feelings of confusion and bewilderment. Namely, As have convinced the researchers that they have to hand over their kids, so they can draw them something to reproduce from, and the author puts forwards the possibility even the supposed "real" reproduction the new doctor observed was an attempt at putting him off too, and Bs simply show up in front of someone and do an impromptu musical act with no rhyme or reason.
- SCP-1457 ("Mourning Cloak"). The butterfly that is SCP-1457 absorbs sad memories from people and gives them to other people. The recipients feel emotions of loneliness and abandonment, which SCP-1457 then eats for sustenance.
- SCP-1655 ("Sorrow Tick"). Foundation scientists believe that SCP-1655 causes negative emotions in its victims in order to feed off those emotions.
- SCP-2018 ("Museum of You"). SCP-2018 used to absorb the emotions that the museum visitors felt as they looked at the exhibits. It was inspired to create its own virtual museum to create exhibits relevant to the lives and memories of its visitors.
- There are plenty of people who "feed off of" another person's emotional responses, to one degree or another. Often times this is when the Emotion Eater is in a relationship with someone and will purposely instigate fights or other such acts in order to satisfy themselves, caring little or nothing for the other party involved.
- Bullies get satisfaction from seeing other people upset and vulnerable, and unfortunately, even ignoring them is highly ineffective. It shows the bully that if someone is trying to ignore them that the bullying is having an effect and that they will continue to pick on that person anyway. It also gives them an excuse to pick on you as they can always pretend that it does not bother anyone. If it did work then they would move on to another target. The "just ignore them" advice is usually given by people who don't want to deal with the problem of bullying.
- Internet trolls get a kick out of people's emotional reactions to them, and the best way to stop them is not to respond ("don't feed the trolls").
- Real people are a lot more likely to "feed off" of positive emotions than fictional people though. This is also known as liking to make someone happy.
- It is claimed that George R. R. Martin is sustained only by the tears of his fans. He denies it, claiming that he also drinks wine.