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Heart of the Matter

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Important items in fiction, whether they be a MacGuffin, an Artifact of Power, a specific location, or even a living being, have a habit of having a title incorporating the imagery of a heart. This is often an easy way to indicate something is especially powerful or at the very least important, given how historically, and biologically, the heart has always been seen as one of the most (if not the most) vital components in the human body. Thus an item similarly named can immediately assumed to be similarily inherently vital, often functioning as the driving power source without which that cool Super Weapon, impenetrable force shield, or unstoppable power is rendered inert and inoperable, or even completely destroyed.

Though nothing prevents one from having this title, the item in question doesn't have to be an actual heart; any item will work so long as they bear the necessary title indicating their literal or psychological importance to what they're the heart of: power crystals are common, particularly the pulsing variety for added effect, but whether a heart is magical, technological, or both does not matter.


Not the be confused with The Heart, which tends to be about someone who keeps the peace on their team of friends, though one could argue that The Heart gets its name exactly because without them, the group would cease to function. Also not to be confused with the Don Henley song "The Heart of the Matter", which is about (as repeated in that song) forgiveness.

Related are Gem Heart and Heart Drive, which play closer to the function of actual hearts as they're used as a life source for a being (supernatural or artificial).

Real life examples usually have a strong cultural significance to them.

For other heart symbolisms, see Heart Symbol, Hearts Are Health and Cardiovascular Love.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • D.Gray-Man: The Heart of Innocence, which contains the powers of all the other Innocence shards and is much stronger for it, is the MacGuffin at the center of the holy war.

    Comic Books 
  • One of the nastiest artifacts in the DC Universe is the Heart Of Darkness, a gem that grants its holder a tremendous magical power boost. It is also the prison of the demon Eclipso and anyone using the gem inevitably winds up being taken over.
  • On the other side of the spectrum, we have The Starheart, the source of power for Alan Scott, the golden age Green Lantern.
  • Comic Book/Witchblade: A villainous example, the Heart Necrobi is the collective consciousness of the predatory Necrobi species. If it survived the final extermination of their species is unknown.
  • Witchblade Animated: The Heart of Darkness is an artifact that allows a person to control the current Darkness wielder absolutely. But there's a catch, a curse was placed on the Heart and if someone uses it, they'll be transformed into a Darkling for all eternity, forced to serve the power they sought to control.
  • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): The Heart of Baetylus is a chunk of the power source of the "Titan" which once tried to destroy all life on earth. It is a twisted powerful evil thing which wants to rejoin with the Titan it was chipped from.

    Film - Animation 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: The Heart of Atlantis is mentioned in the Shepherd's Journal, and is speculated to be some sort of power source. It turns out to be a living crystal that is keeping the entire island and its inhabitants alive after centuries beneath the bottom of the ocean. Rourke plans to take it and sell it above ground, not only dooming the Atlanteans but also risking it falling into the wrong hands and causing mass devastation; it was the King trying to harness it as a weapon that caused Atlantis to sink in the first place.
  • The Heart of Te Fiti from Moana holds the power of creation within it, allowing its namesake to create the islands populating her world. Small wonder everyone wants it. Its loss also transformed the normally kind and sweet goddess into the fearsome demoness Te Ka.
  • B.E.N. from Treasure Planet refers to something called "The Heart of the Mechanism" periodically whenever he glitches while trying to access his missing memory unit. This turns out to be a major clue as to the true nature of the title planet as a giant teleportation hub.
  • A geographical example in Raya and the Last Dragon, the Land of Heart. Raya herself bears the title of Princess of Heart, despite the fact she is not royalty. The Land of Heart also guards the Dragon Gem until a dispute between the tribes of Kumandra shatters the gem and releases the Druun.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • The Heart of Dimballa from Child's Play was the voodoo artifact that allowed Charles Lee Ray to transfer his soul into the killer doll he's best known for (and later his girlfriend Tiffany). It's also his only way to transfer out of the doll and into another human's body.
  • Played with in mother! (2017)...kind of. The most significant object throughout the movie is the jewel in His study, which he recovered from a house fire, but in which He also places all His faith and creative power. At the end of the movie, it's revealed that this is a heart from his previous wife, as he takes the heart from mother at the end of the film to start over.

  • The Conan the Barbarian novel "The Hour of the Dragon" had The Heart of Ahriman which was necessary to defeat Xaltotun.
  • Dragonlance: '''Draconian Measures''' introduces the Heart of Dracart, named for the dark wizard who developed the magic spell that corrupted good dragon eggs into evil draconians. It's being used by General Miranda to keep their One-Gender Race from going extinct by turning a single draconian into thirty. Unfortunately the clones created from the artifact are, as Kang puts it, dunderheads so berefet of any of the original's attributes they can't even activate their death curses, in addition to having severely limited lifespans.
  • Prophecy Approved Companion: As part of the Golden Prophecy:
    [The hero] shall find the forest’s heart.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Heart of the Abyss sits at the 666th level of the Abyss. A single sliver of the thing was able to empower the devil Asmodeus enough to slay his chief rival amongst the pantheon of good gods, and its theft was one of the root causes of the Blood War.
    • The Heart of Vecna is a minor artifact from Dungeons & Dragons that granted enhanced dark magical powers.
  • Judges Guild adventure Dark Tower. The Heart of Law is a magical Glowing Gem that exemplifies the Lawful Good Character Alignment. Its primary purposes are to destroy all Evil and convert Chaotic and Neutral beings to Good.

    Video Games 
  • Dungeon Keeper features a raiding system where the players' goal is to destroy the Dungeon Heart powering their rivals' home dungeons.
  • The Heart of Lorkhan of The Elder Scrolls fame which sits under, and forms the heart of, Red Mountain.
  • The villains of Kingdom Hearts seek the eponymous "Kingdom Hearts", a source of ultimate power, but they don't know what it actually is. It turns out to be the heart of all worlds. On a smaller scale, each in-game world also has their own heart, and locking these away to protect them from evil forms the main plot of the first game.
  • In Nox, the Heart of Nox is a part of the Staff of Chaos that is a source of effectively infinite magical energy. It is kept at the top, most forbidden floor of Castle Galava's Mage Tower, whose wizards siphon off the Heart's energy to power their experiments.
  • Overlord: Typically one of the first tasks you have to perform as you rebuild your empire is recover the Tower Heart, a conduit of immense power that powers the dark tower and various other evil artifacts. The second time the forces of good mess with it, the Tower Heart releases enough power to cause a cataclysm that devastates the world and (indirectly) leads to the anti-magic crusade of the Glorious Empire.
  • Skullgirls features the Skull Heart, an Artifact of Doom the corrupts its user into a murderous, undead necromancer bent on causing the destruction of the world.
  • In Sly 2: Band Of Thieves, the Clockwerk Heart is the focal point of one of the gang's heists. It is held by Arc Villain Rajan, who is using one half to dramatically accelerate his spice production while the other half sits on his staff allowing him Shock and Awe powers. Played with in that, while the Clockwerk Heart is necessary to rebuild the giant owl, the hate chip is Clockwerk's actual power source and without it the formerly pristine heart decays to scrap.
  • The villain of Super Paper Mario wanted to summon the Chaos Heart, which powered a universe destroying rift known as the Void while making its summoner practically invincible.
  • Remnants of Isolation: There's something called the Heart of the Castle, that allows the castle that the game takes place in, to keep running. It's Celesta. It generates magic. Something though impossible, for a living being to do.
  • Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs: Similar to the Kingdom Hearts example above, this game consists of several lands each with their own Heart. Each Heart of the Land is an object that is both emblematic and vital to the operations of each land, and obtaining them to defeat the Big Bad forms the core of the game. While they're all different objects, each Heart also incorporates, well, heart imagery on them.

    Western Animation 
  • The series finale of Iron Man: The Animated Series saw The Mandarin hold the world hostage using a gigantic gem called The Heart of Darkness which, by draining the energy of superbeings, could blanket the world in an anti-technology field, grinding the modern world to a halt.
  • Justice League
    • One two-part episode had its own Heart of Darkness, this one a fist sized jewel that housed the collected souls of a race of snakemen,"The Ancient Enemies of Man," who could possess anyone who held it. Their plan was to snuff out the sun and kill off humanity. Even shattering the gem didn't stop them, merely allowing them to possess ANYONE touched by one of the shards. Exposure to sunlight was the only thing that could drive the spirits out of their victim's body.
    • Later series Justice League Unlimited saw a technological variant when a swarm of seemingly unstoppable alien nanobots attack Earth in a threatened Grey Goo scenario. The swarm is apparently empowered by a single master bot called The Dark Heart, the destruction of which by the Atom caused the invasion to come to an abrupt and immediate end.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic featured the Crystal Empire protected by the powerful Crystal Heart which serves to focus the population's collective spirit to protect the Empire from evil forces.
  • The new She-Ra and the Princesses of Power recently revealed the existence of the Heart of Etheria, a piece of First One's tech at the center of the planet designed to focus Etheria's natural magic into a devastating super weapon.
  • Xiaolin Showdown featured a Shen Gon Wu called The Heart of Jong. In addition to being able bring mundane objects to life (most notably an army of snowmen), it will also, When the Planets Align, draw multiple other Shen Gon Wu to it to create the monster Mala Mala Jong, who possesses the power of any Wu it incorporates. Removal of the Heart ends the monster's threat.
  • The most obvious example from W.I.T.C.H. is the Heart of Kandrakar, the artifact that empowers the titular heroines' elemental abilities. Loss of access to the Heart greatly decreases their magical powers. Also present in the series, and possessing similar powers, are;
    • The Heart of Zamballa, possessed by the ruler of the planet Zamballa and repository of that world's power. Stealing it from Kadma greatly increased Nerissa's power.
    • The Heart of Meridian, Ellyon Brown, who rules that world and can directly channel its magic. The ability is stolen and placed inside a jewel, allowing Nerissa to do the same
    • The Heart of Earth also known as Lillian Hale. To protect her, the heroes manage to get her to empower a trio of allies transforming them into the powerful Regents of Earth.

    Real Life 
  • One of Alabama's state nicknames is "The Heart of Dixie".
  • One of Ohio's slogans was "The Heart of it All". This was also playing with the fact that Ohio is vaguely heart-shaped.