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Heart Drive

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"When a spark comes online, there is great joy. When one is extinguished... the universe weeps."
Rhinox, Beast Wars

A character with a Heart Drive has an organ, crystal, crystal organ (so to speak) or actual hardware inside their body that contains the very self of the character. The Heart Drive is in this sense similar to a Soul Jar: it contains (or, in some cases, is) the character's soul (or near enough that it makes no difference), and as long as it remains undamaged grants a measure of Immortality. Unlike a Soul Jar, as long as the Heart Drive is outside the body the character is essentially dead, though they might remain awake and unable to take action inside the Heart Drive. Some Heart Drives can even be casually removed, stored, and reinserted to the body... or simply a body... and return the character back to life as if nothing happened.

If this is sounding a lot like a computer's Hard Drive, that's because it usually is one to many robot characters. Sort of like a cybernetic equivalent to a Brain in a Jar. Thanks to their Heart Drive, most robots can pull off Good Thing You Can Heal, their allies can rebuild them or just transfer them to a Body Backup Drive. This is true for non-technology-based Heart Drives as well: characters whose intelligence is housed in a Heart Drive are also usually Made of Iron, able to shrug off injuries that would make mortal characters pass out, perhaps because their Heart Drive is isolated from physical sensations. Some Heart Drives also have a built-in Healing Factor to help repair or even rebuild their body. At the extreme, they may consider all non-fatal damage trivial. That is, unless the character has the foresight to hide it beneath body armor. Most do exactly that if given the option; having the Heart Drive damaged... or worse, stolen... can have dire consequences.

One scary aspect of the Heart Drive is it can be a combination of Body Snatcher, The Symbiote and Artifact of Doom. If it grafts itself onto another animal/character/clone body, the Heart Drive will take over the mind and sometimes even "mutate" it into its original form.

Subtrope of Immortality Inducer. Compare Animating Artifact, Cranial Processing Unit and Heart Light.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Desty Nova has one in Battle Angel Alita. It's his brain chip, and also he has a spare.
  • Cell's core in Dragon Ball Z. Also Android 16's head — even after the rest of his entire body was destroyed, he functioned well enough, and he likely could've been rebuilt. Then Cell crushed 16's head, and we see a large chip fall out, spark and go dead...presumably that was his.
  • Blood seals in Fullmetal Alchemist. The armor can be chopped to ribbons, but as long as the seal is undamaged, you're fine. But smudge it with a finger, and you're fucked. How does it work in the rain? The philosopher's stones themselves also count — when a homunculus had its stone ripped out, the homunculus disintegrated and then reformed around the stone.
  • Juiz, all of them, from Eden of the East. In this case, she resides entirely within a single semi-portable computer, by which we mean it has to be loaded onto a tractor-trailer unit.
  • In the Ghost in the Shell universe, thanks to the advances of cybernetics, the human brain has come to approach a Heart Drive: people with full-body replacement can simply have their brains moved to a new cyborg body. This happens to Major Kusanagi in the original 1995 film and the first Stand Alone Complex series. The very first episode of Stand Alone Complex also shows how a person's brain can be stolen and replaced with somebody else's if the victim isn't careful about basic security measures — in this case, a Minister swapping his brains with a Geisha-robot for a bit of drunken fun when there's a foreign spy about.
  • Another example is the Guyver. If the suit's core is intact, its user can be ground to powder and the unit will simply regenerate him, conservation of matter be damned. But crack it, and the Guyver will actually eat you alive.
  • One of the Akatsuki members, Sasori, in Naruto; this is why the person's "true form" never seems to physically age.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion uses the crystalline jewel organ version with its Angels — and the Evas themselves, as shown in episode 19. In Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0, Unit 02's core is physically removed at one point while the Eva is in cryofreeze. The original series implies that cores can be freely swapped between the production models. Unit 01, however, appears to have a partially overgrown non-removable core.
  • Sailor Moon has the Pure Heart Crystals and the Star Seeds (plus Sailor Crystals which are a subtype of Star Seed specific to the Sailor Senshi).
  • Dai-Guard used Heart Drives called "fractal knots" in their giant monsters of the week.
  • The giant robots in Bokurano remain operational as long as a white, bulbous construct located inside them remains intact. Later it's revealed that it's not the destruction of the core that ends the game, but the death of the human pilot inside it.
  • In The Big O, when Dorothy's memory circuits are removed, it's essentially an irreversible coma. Worse yet, even if the disc was retrieved, there's no one alive who can repair the drive. Fortunately, this turns out to be somewhat of a subversion. Dorothy is somehow able to start moving without it, prompting Beck to ask, "How can you function with no memory? Do you actually know who you are?
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the Magical Girls' "Soul Gems" are exactly what they sound like. The gem is a Soul Jar, and if it gets too far from their body, the latter will "die" until the gem is brought back in range; but this setup allows them to survive and heal from massive injuries. Somewhat unusual in that they used to be normal humans, and became Heart Drive beings unwittingly through a Deal with the Devil; unsurprisingly, putting your life-force in a magic gem has some other major downsides that the Satanic Archetype fails to mention...
  • Mod Souls in Bleach are actually small pills that contain souls. If you put them in a dead or soulless body (constructed body or one whose owner is missing), or even a humanoid stuffed toy, they come alive. No matter how much damage the body suffers, they can simply be put in another body and they'll be fine.
  • The Soul Drive of SD Gundam Force. This is the MacGuffin that enables Captain to have his 11th-Hour Superpower, thanks to his bond of friendship with Shute. When it gets stolen he goes into a comatose state. Commander Sazabi also has one, and tries to convince the Captain to spare him upon his defeat by claiming that they aren't so different because of this. It doesn't work.
    Kao Lyn: Without his Soul Drive, Captain is out of control of his functions! Though he may move or speak, he's like a sleepwalker! He can't wake up!
  • Union Cores from Arpeggio of Blue Steel are the essential component of the Fleet of Fog. Even if their neigh-invulnerable ship bodies are destroyed, as long as the core survives they can come back. They're entirely helpless without a supply of Nanomachines to form a body out of however, as Kirishima and Haguro have both learned the hard way.
  • The Maiden Circuits in Saber Marionette J. This special piece of hardware gives the Marionettes (and Saber Dolls) emotions and contains their personality. If removed or damaged, they become robotic and essentially lifeless. The Maiden Circuits are actually a device in three parts, meant to be matured and then combined together to create an artificial personality based on the creator. They were created to serve as a control device, to pacify the rogue AI that nearly wiped out humanity centuries ago and holds the only surviving human female prisoner....
  • In Absolute Boyfriend, the main chips that contain the personalities of the Ridiculously Human Robots in the setting are their most crucial components. As long as the chips are intact, they can be repaired. The chips burning out is death for them. Night's chip wears itself out faster than it should have because he was going beyond his programming to be Riiko's perfect boyfriend.
  • Medabots come to life by inserting Medals into the back of their bodies.
  • In Lyrical Nanoha, the mages' Linker Cores are normally used to process (link) their magical energy into usable forms (spells), but for beings of pure magic, specifically, the creations of the Book of Darkness, they also apparently function as Heart Drives: after the Wolkenritter are killed and have their Linker Cores fed to the Book, Hayate is able to reconstruct all four of them—no worse for wear—from their Cores after she gains full control of it. Later, Reinforce Eins, another construct of the Book, self-destructs, but, having essentially shared her own Linker Core with Hayate earlier, leaves behind enough "genetic" material for Hayate to reconstruct a smaller version of her, Zwei, who bears resemblance to both of them.
  • In Kaiba, devices called "chips" can store memories and allow them to be transferred to another body.
  • Akagi An, aka Kafuka Fuura, in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is revealed to be Dead All Along and the reason she still lingers in the world is because her organs got donated to the girls in Nozomu's class, which allow her to randomly possess any of the girls whenever she wakes up the following day. Her genes are said to be too positive to allow her organ recipient hosts to die from suicide attempt and by the end of the manga, it's implied that she achieved nigh immortality so long as any of her organ recipient hosts are alive, since she can spread her essence to another person just by doing blood transfusion. Even her organ recipient hosts' offspring strongly resembles her in looks, indicating a potential rebirth or reincarnation.
  • In the Kirby: Right Back at Ya! episode "Right Hand Robot", Escargoon builds a robotic look-alike of himself called the Escar-droid to do all the work that his boss King Dedede has him do in his place. Escargoon ends up developing a bond with the droid and buys a heart-shaped component from Nightmare Enterprises that gives the droid feelings, and also automatically reconstructs it to give it two additional modes: a knight-like form with a sword, and a flying Killer Robot form armed with missile launchers.

    Asian Animation 
  • Cubix: Robots for Everyone: The Emotional Processing Unit (EPU for short) invented by Professor Nemo is essentially a CPU that gives any robot equipped with one thoughts and feelings equivalent to those of a human. In the show's 20 Minutes into the Future setting, all modern robots come equipped with one.

    Comic Books 
  • Metal Men: In most depictions, the Metal Men's bodies are literally just solid blocks of Gold, Iron, Tin, etc. animated by a softball-sized spherical device called a responsometer, which is sentient and can manipulate the surrounding metal. If the device is yoinked out of their bodies, their bodies become inanimate. Interestingly, the responsometers themselves don't provide the personalities — the Metal Mens' personalities depend on the surrounding metal. Very bad things happen when Doc Magnus puts a responsometer into something like plutonium...

    Fan Fiction 
  • Rampage in Project Horizons has an indestructible crystal inside that contains the personalities and/or souls of an unknown number of ponies, as well as Rampage's own personality. It enables her to survive anything, including disintegration.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race uses devices called memory cores, which function like the IC chips from the games and comic book. They hold a robot's memory and personality, so destroying one is the equivalent of killing off the robot for good.

    Films — Animated 
  • WALL•E: The titular hero's main processor chip could be defined as this, since he temporarily loses his personality when EVE gives him the life-saving overhaul near the end of the movie.
  • In Big Hero 6, Baymax's "Tadashi chip" contains his medical programming and pretty much all of his personality. When it's removed and all that's in him is the karate chip which Hiro added to him, he is pretty much a mindless automaton. The Tadashi chip also allows him to be rebuilt after his Heroic Sacrifice.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Brain in a Jar Cain in RoboCop 2 while he's in the "RoboCop 2" body.
  • Cherry 2000: Robots have their personality stored in a memory chip that can be removed and reinserted in another robot of the same type. The protagonist spends the entire movie trying to find a new body for his robot.
  • In Frankenstein Conquers the World, its said that Frankenstein's heart is immortal and can regrow his body due partly to his creation and partly due to surviving and being mutated by one of the H-Bomb attacks on Japan. While his cells can grow into a new monster, his heart is the only part that seems able to regenerate into something human-like.
  • Terminator units in Terminator series have these. With exception of the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and possibly the very early model T-1s in Terminator Salvation that seemed to lack any personality at all.
  • In Inspector Gadget (1999), Gadget is captured by the villain who proceeds to remove the computer chip that amplifies his emotions to allow his body to function, causing him to shut down. However, Gadget later summons enough Heroic Resolve to overcome this and reactivate himself.
  • I, Robot has the reveal that Sonny not only possesses a positronic brain, but a secondary brain in his chest which allows him to ignore The Three Laws. The redundant one would appear to be a mechanical "soul" of sorts.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, the witch's life is in her heart, meaning that to kill the witch, one has to destroy the heart, otherwise it can be used to bring her back to life.

  • In Inheritance Cycle, Dragons have Eldunari which is essentially their souls. A dragon can expel their Eldunari but remain in control of their bodies. When their bodies die their consciousness is transferred to the Eldunari, where it remains until someone destroys it. If the Eldunari is still within the body when the dragon dies, however, it dies with them.
  • In Greg Egan's short story Learning To Be Me, everyone has a tiny neural network computer implanted into their brain. As the people grow, the computer constantly corrects itself to mimic their brain's responses. At a certain age, many people choose to remove their brains, making the tiny computer this trope.
    • Egan revisits this trope often. His short story Chaff and novels Diaspora and Schild's Ladder all have variations on this theme.
  • In the Dragoncrown War series, Big Bad Chytrine has a soulstone because she's half-dragon, and dragons can naturally create them. However, in order to protect it, she swallowed it, making it part of her being and rendering her nearly impossible to kill unless her dragon form is torn open and someone pulls it out.
  • In Saturn's Children, most robots have a personality chip to backup their memories/personalities. This can be used to keep them alive by transferring their mind to another body or to learn from dead "siblings". However, "wearing" the chip of another robot for too long can lead to their personality usurping the original owner's. As a backup can take months or years to be fully complete, destroying another robot's personality chip is a good way of ensuring that they behave themselves.
  • In the Takeshi Kovacs series people are normally implanted with a "cortical stack" at birth that acts as a backup hard drive for the brain. When one dies it can be removed and downloaded into a new body.
  • In Safehold, while Merlin's body can be destroyed, his mind, memories and consciousness are locked in a spherical computer about the size of a fist, hidden in his torso behind protection strong enough to withstand pretty much everything short of being ground zero for a nuclear strike. If the body is destroyed, this can still survive and be plugged into either a new PICA or a VR unit.
  • Deeplight: A god's heart is the core of it's being, the only organ they all have in common; breaking or stealing the heart will kill the god. An intact heart will continue beating outside the body and mutate any humans who come into contact with it.
  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Monsters: The heart of Kokolimalayas, the Bone Man. Once it's shot out of his body, he's effectively dead.
  • The Daevabad Trilogy: Djinn who are bound to a slave vessel (usually a ring) can only be freed by essentially growing the vessel a new body with healing magic. If the vessel and body are separated, the body dies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The central premise of Altered Carbon is that a person's consciousnesses is stored on a cortical stacks at the base of the skull, which can be transplanted into a new body.
  • A variant occurs in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Passenger" when a criminal has his brain copied to a microchip, which he embeds into Dr. Bashir's skin. This allows him to take over Bashir's body.
  • Cameron, like all other terminators, has one in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • In Knight Rider, KITT's personality is contained in his CPU, which can be removed from the car. In one episode, when his CPU is removed from his car body by the villains, he's installed into a portable TV for safekeeping.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • The Greeed in Kamen Rider OOO are revealed to store their consciousness in just one of the nine Core Medals that make up their bodies. If that medal is broken or destroyed, they're just a pile of medals, devoid of consciousness or life. The trick is that there's no known means of destroying Core least until we're introduced the Purple Core Medals, which have the Power of the Void. All of the Greeed are destroyed by the end of the series, but Eiji dedicates himself to finding a way to fix Ankh's Core Medal and bring him back; Movie Wars Megamax has an Ankh come back from 30 years in the future to help out, implying that he succeeded somewhere down the line.
    • The Roidmudes in Kamen Rider Drive have Cores, which are the numbers on their chests. If the Core survives the Roidmude's destruction, it can fly away to safety and regenerate into a Mook-level Roidmude. Near the end of the series, Banno destroys a Roidmude's core while leaving the body intact, leaving it an Empty Shell until he moves in.
  • Doctor Who: Used for a Cliffhanger Robotic Reveal in "Four to Doomsday". A supposedly human character opens himself up to reveal circuitry where flesh and bone should be.
    "This is not me. [takes out chip] This is me."

  • C-53 of Mission to Zyxx has a cube containing his consciousness that he swaps around to different frames. Across the show he inhabits a protocol droid, an enforcer droid, a load lifter, the Midnight Shadow, and a humidifier.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia, section "Playing Robots". In Alpha Complex a robot's brain (CPU) can be removed and inserted in another robot. One function of a Troubleshooter team's Robot Officer is to recover the CPUs of damaged robots.
  • Eclipse Phase borrows the cortical stack concept from Altered Carbon.
  • 1E Mutants & Masterminds villain, The Atomic Brain, functions as this with the eponymous radioactive brain being the bit which gets transferred from one robot body to another.
  • The Raksha of Exalted have an odd version of this that is somewhere between a Heart Drive and a Soul Jar. All Shaped Raksha form a heart grace when they take a solid form, and if another person possesses it they can control the others actions and destroying the heart grace is one of the few ways to permanently kill a Raksha. The other virtues (compassion, conviction, temperance, and valor, the Exalted game system's main character traits) can also be made into physical objects, though they are much less important, relatively speaking. If they're destroyed or possessed by another it only prevents the Raksha in question from using the emotion attached to that grace, or using that emotion to feed until it grows back. The confusing part is that in most cases a Raksha's apparent physical body is closer to a projection of their graces rather than a true physical form.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, an Eldar's Waystone is primarily a Soul Jar that keeps his or her spirit from being consumed by Slaanesh so that it can be safely stored in a craftworld's Infinity Circuit, but they can also function as Heart Drives. If placed in a Wraithguard or Wraithlord, the Waystone will animate the construct so that the fallen warrior can fight on in a new body, and in the Farseer novel an Eldar takes over the body of a human wearing his Waystone.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, Karn the Silver Golem was granted sentience when Urza inserted Xantcha's heartstone into the golem. This would eventually have dire consequences, since said stone was of Phyrexian origin and thus carried a trace of Phyrexian oil. Even a single drop of the oil would be enough to begin the gradual phyresis of an entire plane — which is exactly what happened to Mirrodin, the artificial plane Karn created, leading to its rebirth as New Phyrexia.

  • The mini-comic packaged with Masters of the Universe character Roboto indicates that Man-at-Arms installed a heartnote  that gave him a personality and kept evildoers from harnessing his abilities for evil (until Skeletor literally pulled Roboto's heart out). The translucent torso on the action figure even showed a flat plastic heart oscillating up and down as his gears turned.

    Video Games 
  • Joey's circuit board in Beneath a Steel Sky
  • The Soulstones of the Diablo series have a nasty tendency to get used as these by the demons corrupting them, complete with taking over new hosts.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Star Resistance: The Shakun Star central computer can only be defeated by tearing the outer layers off its face and directly attacking the crystal within that is the source of its power. The crystal also just so happens to contain an unknown woman inside.
  • Kirby:
    • Nova in Kirby Super Star. As you shoot the pillars shooting at you, his heart/core floating in the background gets hurt as well.
    • Star Dream Soul OS from Kirby: Planet Robobot. The first phase of the battle is basically a ground version of the Nova fight. In the second phase, you directly attack the heart until it uses a One-Hit Kill attack and then dies.
  • In the Classic Mega Man series, a Robot Master's integrated circuit (I.C.) chip is the source of their personality. As long as the I.C. isn't destroyed, Robot Masters can be rebuilt any number of times, but if it is damaged beyond repair then that robot is basically dead, as the chips' complexity makes them near impossible to recreate. While this is All There in the Manual as far as the games go (outside of the very first one), the Archie comics use the concept more heavily.
    • Similarly, reploids have DNA Programs in the Mega Man X, which are even referred to as a reploid's soul in one game. DNA Program data can even be used to revive dead reploids, though the process is illegal.
  • The Black Boxes in NieR: Automata
  • Bolt from Paladins is a sentient Mini-Mecha who is powered by the mind-stone of a war golem who now uses the mechsuit as his new body. When he speaks, the mind-stone lights up.
  • It's provided the page image for Robot Girl at some points, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the Persona series utilizes Heart Drive-like devices. The more straightforward example is Labrys' "Plume of Dusk", which is said to contain something vaguely approximating her essence in Persona 4: Arena. In the third game in the main series, Aigis can be a Social Link (depending on the game version); at the conclusion of her Character Arc, she invites the Main Character to leave his DNA on one of her central processors.
  • Pokémon:
    • The crystal in Deoxys's chest is stated in its Pokédex entries to be its brain. In the anime, Deoxys are seen having their bodies destroyed save for the crystal, and regenerating therefrom.
    • Magearna's body is largely a casing for its Soul-Heart, which is its true body. It was created by a scientist gathering the life energy of Pokémon.
  • In Portal 2 GLaDoS' eye is removed by Wheatley and plugged into a potato battery. While she retains her sense of self in this form and can even speak, her processing power is understandably drastically reduced, to the point that she spends a good chunk of time in sleep mode to conserve power.
  • A variation in the lore of Sword of the Stars. Hivers store their memories chemically in a very secure part of their body and often survive for quite a while after death. If a deceased Hiver is deemed worthy, the Hive Queen can eat the remains and implant the memories in one of her offspring, usually of a higher caste, effectively allowing worthy Hivers to be reborn.
  • The Cruxis Crystals of the angels in Tales of Symphonia.
  • World of Warcraft uses an oft-forgotten piece of lore about the undead Liches, the phylactery, to explain Kel'Thuzad returning to life in Wrath of the Lich King. The phylactery is a trinket, urn, or other item where the lich's soul is stored until it's power returns and it can build itself a new body. However, he appears to be staying dead after Wrath despite his phylactery not showing up since vanilla, pre-Burning Crusade storylines.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: In the original game, Alvis had a necklace with a key on it. Definitive Edition, released after 2 (see below), retconned this to something that looks a lot like an Aegis core crystal. Furthermore, the crystal never moves, making it seem like Alvis just managed to attach a chain to it to make people think it's a necklace. Future Redeemed confirms that Alvis is indeed a Blade, the third Aegis, Ontos.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Core Crystals are crystals, usually about the size of a fist, that birth new Blades. When a Driver resonates with a crystal, that crystal becomes the core of the Blade, visible somewhere on their body (usually their chest, but not always). If their Driver dies, the Blade will revert to a lifeless rock, but once it regains its power it can be reused and the Blade summoned again—though without memories. New crystals, and hence new Blades, can be obtained from deceased Titans. This subtly foreshadows the Blade-to-Titan life cycle. It's the interruption of this cycle that creates the overarching problem of rapidly declining livable space seen throughout the story of the game. Furthermore, Core Crystals were originally made in an attempt to replace human brain cells for medical purposes. The hope was to finally crack true immortality. After the event that created the world of Alrest to begin with, this went horribly wrong, but the Architect repurposed the technology for his Blades as part of the re-terraforming process.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Seemingly all of the Agnian characters have Core Crystals, though they aren't always obvious. They don't seem to realize there is anything important about them, and they are almost universally ignored. Whether because of the strange nature of Aionios or because all the Agnian characters are (possibly) descended from human/Blade pairings, the cores seem almost vestigial. This works out when D tries to kill Nia. As the last true Blade on Aionios, her core is not vestigial, so him stabbing her through the heart but missing her core is merely extremely painful instead of instantly lethal.

  • The demons of Heartcore possess crystaline objects dubbed Heartcores. Second-generation demons inherit their Heartcores from one of their "parent" demons (such as the protagonist Ame possessing the Heartcore of her mother Lilith, or Carval and his "father" Volaster). A Heartcore is essentially a corrupted human heart, and demons must feed on them to survive (lest they be rendered unambulatory husks). They are also one of a demon's two Achilles' Heel s, the other being their brain,
  • Robots in Gunnerkrigg Court function this way. In particular, Robot S13's original body was melted down and made into paperclips; his CPU was preserved and placed in a new body, so he was fine.
  • In the underground robot fighting ring in Questionable Content, the combatants have specially reinforced hard drives.
  • Unsounded: The waterwomen are humanoid Elemental Embodiments whose sense of self is anchored in a "pearl" within their chest. They live as long as the pearl is intact and can regenerate any injury while the pearl is submerged in water, although if they have to regenerate their brain, they lose all their memories with the old one.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • One of the more prominent examples would be the concepts of sparks in the Transformers' universe. Sparks are basically a combination of the bot's heart and soul, as they are dead without one, and when it is "extinguished", the spark goes to become one with the Allspark. Originally introduced in Beast Wars, this is possibly the most enduring part of the show's mythology, since it has appeared in every subsequent incarnation of Transformers, including the live-action movies.
    • Before this was introduced, one mini-arc in the the comics had Optimus Prime's brain and soul backed up on a 5-inch floppy disk.
    • The concept first originated in an early draft script of Transformers: The Movie, where it is referred to as a "Life Spark". Later comic book writers mistaken the term as the name of a Decepticon who became Cyclonus.
    • As far back as season two of Generation 1, Starscream was able to build new Transformers out of old vehicles, using the "personalities" of former Decepticon criminals that were "imprisoned" in drives to form the Combaticons, who make up Bruticus.
  • Blaze and the Monster Machines: Roarian, the lion Blaze meets in "The Flying Lion", was originally a lifeless stone statue but was brought to life by a magical sunstone which sits in a slot on his necklace. If it's removed, he returns to statue form.
  • In the Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back," Bender has his personality downloaded onto a floppy disk, which renders him "quiet, and helpful". However, in the season six episode "Lethal Inspection," Bender discovers that he can't simply download to a different body in case his is destroyed, because he was built without a back-up unit. So if his body is destroyed, so is he. Though, being a robot, he's practically invincible, so he doesn't have too much to worry about.
  • Frosty the Snowman's magic hat. "Happy birthday!"
  • Several scripted but unproduced episodes of Invader Zim were to have expanded on the functions of the PAK, the backpack device all Irkens wear. One of them, "Ten Minutes to Doom", contained this line:
    Dib: This device... it is Zim. It's his brain and his life support. That means his body is just... something to carry his PAK around.
  • The Gems in Steven Universe are exactly what their name indicates: the only fundamental part of them is the gemstone. If their Hard Light body is heavily damaged ("poofed"), their bodies retreat into their Gems for a while until they can form a new one; if the Gem is damaged or corrupted, however, the results are far more severe. A shattered Gem equals death. Incidentally, this is also why Rose Quartz suffered Death by Childbirth. She desired Steven to be both human and Gem, and the only way he could be born as such was by giving her gemstone to him. As Rose herself puts it, the process required her to actually become half of Steven, though he has none of her memories and considers himself a separate being. However, most other gems don't understand this due to being a non-organic race with no knowledge of sexual reproduction or genetics, and assume Steven and Rose to be the same person. Even her closest friends took a while to figure out Steven wasn't just some new form she took.
    • In "Change Your Mind", we find out what happens if Steven's gem is removed. We end up with two Stevens, one of them his human body sans gem, the other an identical body formed from his gem. However, unlike with perma-fusions, the two Stevens are halves of a whole, and neither of them can function without the other. Gem Steven is completely emotionless, barely speaks, and shows none of the restraint of the Actual Pacifist we know and love, displaying just how powerful he actually is when White Diamond antagonizes him. Meanwhile, Human Steven is a sobbing wreck, in immense pain and looks like he's on death's doorstep, unable to walk or even crawl, and barely coherent when he tearfully begs for his gem back. Both of them show immediate improvements when reunited (Human Steven regains his strength and Gem Steven starts to laugh with his other half), and fuse back into one healthy, happy Steven.
  • In TRON: Uprising, a program's Identity Disc holds and records all the memories and experiences of their owner. However, if a program loses their Identity Disc, then they slowly start to lose their memory, and eventually become a 'stray'.

    Real Life 
  • Your brain is pretty much exactly this. Unfortunately, we don't yet have the technology necessary for it to outlive the rest of the body. Then again, the extent to which your brain would still think and feel like you if it were severed from the rest of your nervous system, your glandular system, your microbiome, and the rest of your body's complexities is at present unknown, but it's likely not quite as simple a matter of "plug and play" as this trope might imply.
  • Solid state drives in computers also count, given how a lot of the time, they're used to store the operating system and crucial files a device needs, running far more smoothly than a hard disk. Without a drive of any kind, a computer cannot function at all past BIOS. It's also why power users have an SSD as their main drive in their computers, and use hard disks for cheap storage.


Video Example(s):


Roarian's Stolen Sunstone

Roarian's magic sunstone not only gives him his flying powers, it keeps him conscious all together; when removed from his necklace, he reverts back to a lifeless stone statue.

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Example of:

Main / HeartDrive

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