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Human Resources

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"It is every citizen's final duty to go into the tanks, and become one with all the people."
Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, "Ethics for Tomorrow", Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

Extracting resources from the bodies of living, dead, or dying people. "Extracting resources" is usually as visceral as taking organs from the living, though can sometimes be as vague as harvesting "Life Energy". It is common for the bodily integrity of the donor/victim/walking resource bag to be transgressed, creating a strong horror theme. There are a few exceptions, however, such as reclaiming bodily fluids from the dead in Dune, which is depicted as a religious and cultural practice.note 

Sometimes a particular group is preyed upon; criminals, the homeless, and disposable sex workers are common choices. This reputedly happens among real-life serial killers, who often target the group of people referred to as the "less dead" - because if remains of their bodies are found, there's less public pressure to figure out who's killing them because they "deserved it" somehow or "they knew it was dangerous." If the police aren't as eager to investigate, it's easier for the perpetrator to continue "shopping" for their needs among these easy targets. Minor characters like this often become plot devices or devices to develop villain/hero personalities, often adding an element of back story horror.


A milder example can overlap with Nice to the Waiter, when humans (especially the rich) objectify their employees and servants as resources or possessions, rather than people (the same basic mindset that underlies slavery, even absent malice or evil).

There are many subtropes, although a lot of them can also be applied to non-humans:

Compare Creepy Souvenir, when folks take body parts as trophies.

See also Your Soul Is Mine!, in which the immortal essence of a person is taken rather than their body parts, Undead Laborers, when the residual husk is reanimated as a zombie to toil unquestioningly, and Industrialized Evil, which this trope often overlaps with, as it exemplifies placing efficiency above all moral concerns. Mainlining the Monster is when this is done to a creature, not a person. Compare and contrast Solid Gold Poop, where the byproduct from a human or other creature becomes a valued resource.

This does not refer to HR departments, or more specifically, unflattering portrayals thereof. For that, see Inhuman Resources.

This also does not refer to the Netflix animated series Human Resources, which to clarify doesn't have any examples of this trope.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Cannon God Exaxxion, the corpses of dissenters against the Alien Invasion are carted off to processing plants to be converted into either raw biomass for industrial bioengineering or food.
  • A humorous variant occurs at the end of chapter 4 / episode 2 of Cells at Work! when the platelets string up hundreds of blood cells (including the protagonists) in fibrin and use them to clot up the abrasion, with the implication that they'll be stuck like that for at least three days until the wound heals.
  • In Dolls Fall, this is what the students of Jiaiin Girls Dormitory are, whether they are alive or dead.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist loves this trope. Not only are philosopher's stones people, but in the 2003 anime version, the homunculi are also powered by people-rocks.
    • At the end of the manga/Brotherhood, Father eats the souls of all the people in Amestris and then uses that power to eat God himself...until Hohenheim reveals that he's been derailing Father's plan for years and activates a countermeasure that rips all the Amestrian souls out of Father and restores them to their original bodies.
    • The 2003 anime one-ups this by revealing that all alchemy is powered by souls from an Alternate Universe (ours), shunted into Amestris through the Gate of Truth. The reason alchemy had been growing in potency lately was that our world was undergoing World War I at the time, providing the alchemists with lots of power.
  • Revealed as a major plot twist in Adieu Galaxy Express 999. It involves the literal nature of the Ghost Train (It transports recently dead people.) and the source of the energy capsules consumed by humanoid machines (Their bioenergy is extracted in a huge plant.).
  • In Gundam: Reconguista in G, the "Kuntala" were a caste of human slaves bred solely for food when resources were scarce. The Hero's rival, Captain Mask is a descendant of the Kuntala and works for the antagonistic Capital Army in exchange for equal rights for his people.
  • Heterogenia Linguistico has werewolf resources rather than human, and it's Zig-Zagged. The werewolves give Hakaba a blanket since he doesn't have fur to keep him warm. He wonders if it's the pelt of a dead werewolf. Susuki alleviates his fears by explaining that it's made of shed fur glued to a cloth... and the fur is from her dead grandma.
  • Kaiba has the utopian planet of Apiba. As the planet serves as a massive body trading zone, countless discarded bodies are collected and converted into free food.
  • It is implied in Macross Frontier that the dead are recycled for their organic biomass. This would be understandable since the show takes place on a colony ship, where resources are non-renewable. However, this seems to only apply to civilians. Military personnel are exempt and are given a more conventional burial.
    • On top of this, the Macross universe had Earth get bombarded by particle weapons which resulted in the near-extinction of the human race and the apparent loss of a huge amount of biomass to judge by the color of the planet seen from space. At this point, fifty years later, recycling everything seems to be as much an accepted fact of life as indoor plumbing is today.
  • In Magi: Labyrinth of Magic the elite Magic School and its surrounding city is powered by 200,000 muggles hidden deep underground. It's not bad as far as this trope goes: they get all the food and drink they need and don't have to work, but when their energy is used up they're tossed alive into a bottomless pit. It's hinted these muggles are descended from the nobles who oppressed the magicians in the past.
  • The Hundred Eyes Clan in Maranosuke harvests the bodily fluids of girls via intense sex to create an immortality potion that basically reduces the victims to... it's not pretty. Those that haven't been drained can somehow be modified into custom sex slaves by Zegenshi using the same process. The real kicker, while Zegenshi used it to make himself around 500, the Big Bad was already immortal and is just harvesting for the fun of it... and Mommy Issues.
  • Melody of Oblivion: The Monsters have a literal cow-girl farm; dozens of teenage girls are dressed in cow leotards and literally milked, eventually being sacrificed to Hecate for 'graduation'. No explanation is given as to why they bother with milking.
  • In Nabari no Ou, the kinjutsushō Daya's ingredients include the brains of children.
  • One Piece has Warlord of the Sea Gecko Moria use his devil fruit power to remove shadows of people which then power his zombies.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Magical Girls are harvested by an alien race for their souls and emotional energy, which are used to stave off universal entropy. The MG's themselves are sent to kill corrupted, "harvested" husks of former MG's, called Witches, and if they don't die in battle, will fall into despair and become Witches themselves. Yes, it's as bad as it sounds.
  • In the Rurouni Kenshin manga the puppet master Gein use corpses to build his puppets.
  • In Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry, it's eventually revealed that the original Mimics are the brains of a species of Hive Minded alien little girls.
  • Tokyo Ghoul has several disturbing examples.
    • The Quinque, the primary weapons used by Ghoul Investigators are made from a dead ghoul's predatory organ. Some are altered to resemble traditional weapons, while others are still very recognizable as who they used to be. Quinque Steel is produced through the same basic process and used for everything from prison walls to mass-produced bullets for Mooks.
    • The experiments of Dr. Kanou involve keeping an unwilling ghoul "donor" imprisoned and extracting their organs for transplant into human subjects. Since the victims will eventually regenerate, he can do this thousands of times without killing them.
    • Later in the original series, Amon learns that a private company was involved in creating a liquid from melted down Ghoul corpses. This liquid was then sold to the CCG in secret, and the company's owner was murdered when he tried to expose the truth. The purpose of this product remains unknown.
  • The Big Bad of the manga Uzumaki is an enormous ancient city. Though alive, its only instinct is to continually grow bigger, and it finds absorbing humans to be the best way to do so. Later in the manga, once people begin to turn into snails, they quickly end up as a food supply for the other survivors.
  • The Big Bad in Vandread is Earth, coming to harvest all the colonies for replacement parts. Strangely enough, Earth isn't real efficient in their harvesting. Spines come from one world, skin from a different world, there's even planets to be harvested strictly for genitals.
  • Witch Hunter Robin: Why do you think the Japanese branch captures witches alive rather than kill them? Hint: this Anti-Magic "orbo" stuff doesn't grow on trees...

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who: Played with in the Eighth Doctor audio adventure titled (appropriately) Human Resources, where humans being recruited by a company on present-day Earth are actually being sent to an alien world to power war machines.

    Comic Books 
  • In one gag by French Canadian comic artist Garnotte, a newly liposuctioned woman discovers that her fat was sold to the very fast food chain that made her fat, to use as frying oil.
    • In another, a man is invited to a party where there's supposed to be a cold buffet at midnight. Thing is, the other guests are werewolves and HE IS THE COLD BUFFET.
      • And yes, Garnotte had a very dark sense of humour and his works were mostly featured in the adult-rated satirical magazine Croc.
  • In Judge Dredd the dead are recycled after the funeral services and processed into other goods and materials.
  • The Marvel Adventures Spider-Man ran into this with his "smart-cloth" black outfit, which required the host's bioelectric energy to perform its wearer's commands. Spidey ended up loaning it to Reed Richards to analyze, but Johnny ends up letting it loose and it runs into a disgruntled thief named Eddie Brock, and voila, the Marvel Adventures take on Venom is born.
  • In the New X-Men comic, a group led by John Sublime calling themselves the U-Men, do this in order to gain mutant powers, although it's rarely successful. Sublime was even revealed to have a massive facility in Hong Kong with hundreds of imprisoned mutants, many of them already missing numerous body parts. Of course, Sublime never really cared how successful the process was. This was just another one of his attempts to ruin mutant-baseline human relations in a bid to wipe out mutantkind forever.
  • Revival sees dozens of people returned to life as immortal revivers. This immediately creates a black market in reviver flesh mostly for people trying to assimilate the effect.
  • In Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers, in Klarion's puritan underground town, the risen dead are used as a workforce known as "Grundys". And yes, they are indeed similar to Solomon Grundy.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), when Dr. Eggman lost the ability to roboticize Mobius' populace as his slaves, he invented the Egg Grapes to use their life force as a power source just like The Matrix.
    • Unlike The Matrix, however, it's also heavily implied that he didn't bother to try to nourish any of his prisoners in the Egg Grapes, just discarding the ones he "used up".
    • In the UK's Sonic the Comic, Robotnik's plot during the buildup to issue #100 involved connecting the Emerald Hill Folk to a machine to form a gigantic Wetware CPU.
  • Star Trek: Early Voyages: In "Flesh of My Flesh", a Ngultor mothership and several support craft became stranded in Federation space due to a freak warp malfunction. They abducted the crews of various small ships and harvested their body parts in order to repair the damaged mothership's lifeworks. These ships were left intact but adrift, leading Captain Pike to describe them as "a fleet of Marie Celestes." The Ngultor's ultimate goal is to harvest the organic lifeforms on all worlds in the region so that they can replenish themselves.
  • In the Strikeforce: Morituri "Electric Undertow" limited series, it is revealed that the alien VXX199 are hiding behind the Earth's Moon, where they are secretly modifying humanity so they can induce spontaneous combustions and harvest the psychic energies released.
  • Vandal Savage, an immortal caveman from the DC Universe, has to claim the body parts of his descendants in order to live. These have included Roy Harper and his daughter, Scandal Savage. Eventually he consumes a clone of himself. Note that Lex Luthor claims Savage invented cannibalism... and means it.
  • In Wynonna Earp, the Chupacabra Cartel specializes in harvesting human organs and selling them on the paranormal dark market (for feeding, rituals, etc.).

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert plays this trope a lot. Once, the title character suggested using smokers going outside to have a smoke as a non-lethal power source. Dogbert also plays this trope straight when he throws activists into the furnace to power the town.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Worm x Dishonored crossover fanfic, A Change of Pace, it turns out that those bones the Bone Carver uses to make runes comes from people he attacks and kills. The Heart too.
  • Child of the Storm has this as one of the many disturbing experiments that Gravemoss performs on anyone unfortunate enough to be near him.
    • Arnim Zola performs them as well, though in the pursuit of things like improving the Extremis virus.
    • The Red Room are described as going through bodies like water, for similar purposes to the above.
  • And the less said about what Pinkie's cupcakes are made of in the infamous fanfic Cupcakes (Sergeant Sprinkles), the better.
  • In Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons, the staff of Blackjack's home Stable regularly feed dead bodies into food processors, while outwardly claiming that they cremate them. This leads to their downfall when they process several dead raiders who carry a virus that causes cannibalistic urges, causing the Stable to become infected and break down into several competing tribes of hungry cannibals.
  • In Last Rights Dul'krah, Clan Korekh mentions that his species processes their dead into water and fertilizer, since they live aboard asteroid habitats. He views the Kobali transformation of other species' dead into more Kobali as little different.
    "Better, perhaps, since our dead will bring joy to others rather than mere sustenance."
  • Power Rangers Take Flight (an adaptation of Choujin Sentai Jetman) has Trask, a space vampire, use a special gun to turn living beings into "biomass", a gooey black substance which can be used in multiple ways, including the creation of Nobodies and, midway through the series, the Monster of the Week. He's seen doing it to various people over the course of the show, and he also guzzles the biomass to sustain himself when in the sunlight (which turns him into his armored form).
  • In the FIM Fan Fic Rainbow Factory, rainbows are made out of Spectra, extracted by mutilating Pegasi. Worse, the process doubles as a means of population control and eugenics by using any Foals who are unable to fly as fuel for the machine.
  • In That Epic Plan When Matusda is being tardy and useless as usual Beyond Birthday suggests that they could always sell Matsuda on the black market.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 100 Bloody Acres: Morgan Bros. makes organic fertilizer out of people.
  • The ABCs of Death: The killer in "R" goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against doctors who have been harvesting his skin to make 35 mm film.
  • In the German horror flick Anatomy, dead bodies are recycled as anatomically correct medical displays. Oh and they are still alive and unable to move when they begin the surgery.
    • Gunther von Hagens does that in Real Life (the exposition is called Body Worlds). His methods of acquiring bodies are more civilized, however. Or so he claims.
      • Done in America by Bodies: the Exhibition.
  • The film The Black Hole turned people into peoplebots.
  • In Blade: Trinity the vamps have the same idea as in Daybreakers (see below).
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick the Necromongers turn some of their men into nearly-dead telepaths and heavily-wounded soldiers into living sensor drones, though this may be consensual in some cases.
  • In Cloud Atlas, the dystopian tale of Sonmi-451 reveals that Fabricants who have earned to right to retire via a lavish ceremony of "Exaltation" are instead executed and recycled into cheap protein for new fabricants. Foreshadowed earlier in the film by Timothy Cavendish mockingly screaming "Soylent Green is made of people!" at the residents of the nursing home.
  • In Daybreakers, the mostly-vampire population uses vast "farms" of humans as their main blood supply.
  • Clapet, the butcher in Delicatessen, recruits handymen who are eventually killed, butchered and sold to his tenants as cheap meat.
  • The cannibal bogans in Dying Breed murder strangers and turn them into meat pies.
  • In Eden Log, it's revealed that Eden Log uses unknowing human volunteers as a resource to make the tree grow and provide energy for the city.
  • In Epic Movie, the parody of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has Willy Wonka use human tissue as a vital ingredient in his candy bars.
  • In The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, Cagliostro has various young maidens abdcuted. They are then murdered and various body parts are harvested in order to construct the 'perfect woman' to serve as a mate to the monster.
  • In Escape from L.A., the Beverly Hills area is inhabited by a group of freaks who, due to undergoing too much plastic surgery, must regularly kidnap prisoners and harvest them for body parts in order to keep themselves alive. Snake very nearly ends up becoming one of their next victims.
    • Bonus points for the "Surgeon General" being played by Bruce Campbell.
  • In Eternals, the Blip returning half of mankind is what triggers the Emergence, as now there is enough intelligent life for Tiamut to consume as it rises to life.
  • The Field Guide to Evil: In "The Kindler and the Virgin", the Kindler believes that he if he eats the hearts of three freshly dead people, he will gain all of the world's knowledge. He obtains the hearts via Grave Robbing.
  • Tyler Durden in Fight Club collected human fat from the disposal bins behind a liposuction clinic, then used it to make expensive soap for rich ladies. Bonus points for fulfilling this trope, as the narrator lampshades the idea that the same women who paid to get rid of the fat would now pay him to return it.
    Narrator: Tyler sold his soap to department stores at $20 a bar. Lord knows what they charged. It was beautiful. We were selling rich women their own fat asses back to them.
  • Frankenstein 1970: After Victor accidentally damages the eyes he had intended to implant in the monster, he starts killing members of the film crew that are renting his castle; attempting to a pair of eyes that are a suitable match.
  • In Frankenstein Island, Sheila Frankenstein conducts her experiments on shipwrecked sailors and the occasional captured Amazon. She also keeps Jason imprisoned to serve as a permanently on-tap blood supply for her husband.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes. As Sipsey has killed Frank Bennett by accident, Ruth and Idgie cut him into steaks and serve him to the customers in their restaurant to hide the homicide.
  • Arguably in Gamer where people derive pleasure by controlling others in twisted versions of The Sims and an FPS with real guns.
  • The Danish black comedy The Green Butchers is about two butchers who start their own shop. When the new cooling unit is installed, the technician is accidentally trapped in the freezer over night. The next morning Svend find the frozen body, freaks out, and decides to hide the accident by cutting it up an selling it as chicken. When all the meat is sold, business slows down to a crawl, so Svend starts murdering people to keep his dream of his own shop alive.
  • The 1990 film I Come in Peace / Dark Angel is about an extraterrestrial drug dealer who extracts endorphins from human brains, to be sold on his home planet as an addictive substance.
  • In The Island, it's revealed that the "survivors" who are being groomed to repopulate the eponymous Island are really the clones of rich and famous people, used for organ donations and giving birth.
  • In Jupiter Ascending, the Earth, as well as countless other planets, are just People Farms. The DNA is used to keep the more privileged humans eternally young.
  • In Level 16 girls in a Boarding School of Horrors are told that they are going to be adopted by rich families. In reality, the adoptive parents are clients at a rejuvenation clinic; the girls they adopt are killed and their skin is removed and used for a skin transplant.
  • The Central Theme in Mad Max: Fury Road.
    • When Max is captured, the War Boys use him as a "Blood Bag", which allows them to perform a blood transfusion on a War Boy if one of them is injured badly enough.
    • Immortan Joe keeps young women around as Sex Slaves, but when they're no longer useful for the purposes of breeding, they are milked to provide sustenance for the War Boys.
    • There's also The People Eater, if his name is to be taken literally. (Which, given his obesity and his case of gout, you probably should.)
  • In The Man Who Could Cheat Death, Dr. Bonnet runs a private clinic catering to an exclusive clientele. As part of his arrangements with his patients, they grant him permission to harvest their parathyroid glands after their deaths, although they do not know that he plans to have the glands transplanted into him. It is because of this arrangement that he is able to convince Dr. Gerrard that the operation is neither illegal or unethical. However, when delays mean that he has no suitable glands on hand, he resorts to cruder methods of Organ Theft to obtain them.
  • In The Matrix the robots use humans as batteries! (And recycle the dead into nutrient solution to help feed the living.)
    • This was all Executive Meddling. The original story had the brains of the humans being used as part of a neural network for additional computing power. But the suits thought that was too hard for people to understand. So instead we get them as batteries, which is a major liberty with the laws of physics, as well as a huge headscratcher - why not keep the humans sedated, and not have to waste power on the Matrix? Or just use animals?
  • In Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, there is a treatment for the Flare, but it requires draining an enzyme from the immune which cannot be synthesized and requires a lifetime of treatments lest the Flare relapse.
  • In Motel Hell, various Farmer Vincent's products are made of human meat.
  • Lampshaded in NetherBeast Incorporated, as the senile CEO forgets he and his employees are all vampires.
    Turner: I'd stay away from Human Resources, if I were you...... Ha! Human Resources! Now, that's irony!
  • It's not theft, it's repossession of financed goods due to contractual default. Therefore it's legalized in Repo! The Genetic Opera. But the real "Soylent Green" is the blue stuff; an addictive anesthetic used in the surgeries that remain in the body and is harvested from the dead for resale on the black market.
    Zydrate comes in a little glass vial.
    A little glass vial?
    A little glass vial!
  • In Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt, Romasanta drains the fat from his victims and uses it to make soap, which he sells.
  • In Scream and Scream Again, Evilutionary Biologist and Mad Doctor Dr. Browning is bringing unwilling patients to his private hospital were he harvests limbs, organs and miscellaneous body parts to use in his transplant operations to create a physically superior master race of humans.
  • The Screamers drag bodies underground to their automated factories (and presumably to study and help them build the later human models).
    Hendrickson: They're scavengers and they learn; they use everything. Rotting meat gives off methane gas, gas is fuel; hell I don't know. Maybe the eyeball jelly makes handy blade wax.
  • "Soylent Green is people!"
    • "Soylent Green is soy and lentils!"
    • Apparently, the process has been going on for a while. Shirl, a young woman, can only vaguely remember funerals as "a ceremony".
  • The legend, musical and recent movie Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street all center around the idea of two people using human meat to fuel a successful meat-pie business. When Mrs. Lovett used animal or other miscellaneous meat, her business failed; only when Todd and she began using fresh flesh did she become successful.
  • In the horror-survival filmSweetheart, Jennifer uses her friend Zach's corpse as bait, hanging it from a tree to draw out the film's shark-like predator.
  • In the Tank Girl movie, the CEO of Water & Power stabs an underperforming subordinate with a device that extracts his water into an expanding bottle until he's completely desiccated. The CEO then drinks it.
  • Drayton Sawyer of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and its sequel makes jerky from the flesh of Leatherface's victims and sells it to unsuspecting travellers.
  • Funerals conducted in Theodore Rex involve the deceased having their bodies liquefied and used as fertilizer for the flowers. Mourners can take these flowers home, like taking a literal part of their loved one with them.
  • In the film Virus, an evil computer program from outer space has taken over a research ship and wants to dissect the human characters to use their muscles, nerves, and organs to help improve its cybernetic army. This leads to a grimly funny moment when one character asks the entity "what do you want from us?", and it responds with a simple readout of all the organic components it intends to harvest from them.
  • In 2005's The War of the Worlds, the aliens use ground up human pulp as seed fertilizer/germination agent for their homeworld's fauna (the red weed). Before the movie is over, a good portion of New England is covered in it.
  • Waterworld does this. The bodies of the dead are dumped into nutrient vats, yellowish brine pools, as part of their burial ceremonies. They attempt to dunk the nameless Mariner in it when they discover he is a mut-o.
  • In The World's End, "Empties" are turned into compost.

  • Animorphs:
    • An alien-exploiting-alien version. Ax tells the group of a race called The Five that harvested a race called the Venber for lubricants (their bodies melted when they got above a certain temperature, but the fluid sped up the Five's computers). This eventually led to the Venbers' extinction.
    • There's also the brother of Visser Three, who kills humans to obtain other Yeerks to eat, so he doesn't have to return to the pool to feed.
  • In The Belgariad, it's mentioned that human skin is seldom used for writing evil books. But only because it's really bad at holding the ink.
  • In the Biofab War space opera by Stephen Ames Berry, 'mindslavers' are starships that use the harvested brains of living humans as biological computers. This is reversible (assuming the body is retained), but usually involuntary and is considered a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Black Tide Rising: In Under a Graveyard Sky, the fastest way of collecting large amounts of antibodies for use in a vaccine against H7D3 is to collect the fluids from the head and spine of its victims. The task is done under secret conditions by Thomas Smith and some associates due to the illegality of the act.
  • Brave New World featured factories which would harvest all the useful parts of a body. Children were taught that death was acceptable and even good (the hospitals had the best toys and gave out candy when someone bit the dust), so long as society as a whole continued, so that no one was mortified that human beings were being scrapped for parts like old cars.
  • In the Breaking the Wall trilogy, the Thirteen Orphans' each possess a Mahjong set that's passed down family lines, with tiles made from bone and bamboo. It is revealed in the second book that the bones came from the original Orphans, exiles from another world who wanted to keep the link to their homeland alive, strengthen the powers of their descendants, and also give their bodies a more portable form in the hopes that they could one day be returned to their homeland proper.
  • Norman Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron has as its main plot point an experimental immortality treatment made by subjecting children to massive amounts of radiation and then harvesting their endocrine system for a transplant. To boost Aesoptinium levels, the majority of the kids being harvested were bought outright from impoverished black families.
  • In Laura Mixon's Burning The Ice, corpses are recycled into the artificial food source called mana and eaten in a ceremony honoring the dead. The colonists live on an icy moon of a gas giant planet so everything has to be recycled for them to survive.
  • Circleverse: In Street Magic, when Briar is entering the stronghold of Lady Zenadia, he notices at once her luxuriant and flourishing gardens — very strange in a landscape that is in the middle of a desert (the city is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to a Middle Eastern one). When he asks the plants how they're so strong, they answer "Rich food!" When Briar goes to confront her (and rescue his student Evvy) later on, he finds out that she's been using the bodies of people she's had killed as fertilizer.
  • In Courtship Rite, in addition to eating their dead, the Getans make full use of their corpses, since they have no other large animals to provide things like leather. Even Oelita the Gentle Heretic, who preaches against cannibalism, wears a coat made from her dead father's skin, in his honor.
  • In Crier's War human blood is harvested to make Heartstone, the only source of nourishment for the automae.
  • In the Deathstalker series Valentine Wolfe used this at one point. He produced a highly-addictive drug with chemicals he harvested from the bodies of humans killed when the Empress razed Owen's homeworld. As a final measure of getting the most out of the resources available, he then served his colleagues the meat not used in the process.
    • The Empress had specially-contained human brains used to disrupt psionic powers and one of the main characters started the series as an organ runner.
  • In Dinner at Deviant's Palace, a popular drug which takes the form of a reddish-brown powder and is known as "Blood" turns out to be made with actual blood harvested from the mind-broken victims of a psychic vampire; taking the drug opens the mind of the user to be fed on as well.
  • Dinotopia has a dinosaur version of this, although it's voluntary. Dying saurians travel into the rainy basin to give their bodies to the carnivores for food. There are similar caravans of mammals that go into the Forbidden Mountains for the same reason.
  • The Igors from Discworld harvest their dead for spare parts, with some body parts being handed down from generation to generation (When they say, "He's got his father's eyes," they're not being metaphorical). Also, they offer their services as surgeons to villages on the condition that they can harvest the villagers' body parts once they die of natural causes. A village can refuse to let the Igors collect on their payment, but then they'll never offer their services to that village again. "What goeth around, cometh around. And thometimeth, it thtopth."
    • "The glath clock? My grandfather built it with thethe very hands!" And that was when Jeremy noticed the stitches going around Igor's wrist...
    • There are several Discworld-series cases of Troll Resources, as these silicon-based folks' diamond teeth are quite valuable. In Soul Music, Cliff covers most of the expenses of the Band With Rocks In out of his own mouth, and Cohen the Barbarian's din-chewers were crafted from troll teeth in The Light Fantastic. Even the non-diamond parts of a troll can be broken up for rockeries and gravel.
      • This makes the long-standing feud between Dwarfs and trolls very sensible. One species enjoys searching for valuable minerals, the other is made out of valuable minerals...
    • When a rather dim criminal troll threatened Sam Vimes's family, his boss, Chrysophrase apologized and said to just say the word and he'd have a new rock garden delivered. Vimes demurred and just said he didn't want to see the troll again. Chrysophrase amiably pats the box next to him and says that that won't be a problem. As he does, Vimes' internal monologue notes that the box is far too small to contain a whole troll.
    • Shows up in The Last Hero when the Bard, having lost his instrument, fashions a new lute utilizing the skull of a fallen hero while he works on the Silver Horde's ballad. Despite finding the sound pleasant, he understandably worries this may be seen as disrespectful, particularly given the group he's traveling with. Cohen muses that being turned into a musical instrument on which heroic ballads are played might actually be quite desirable for a hero.
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, Hananja's believers are encouraged to donate their dreams and nightmares to the Hetawa, so the priests — mainly Sharers — may harvest them and use them to in turn heal those in need. On the other hand, dreamblood harvested from dreams of the dying by Gatherers is highly addictive and can be used for less communal purposes.
  • In Frank Herbert's Dune series, Fremen reclaimed the water from dead bodies in something called the "death still". Somewhat justified because of the extreme scarcity and value of water on Arrakis. And then the Bene Tleilax, who have a tendency toward this sort of thing. Probably the best example would be the “bi-Ixians”. And the Axlotl Tanks, truck-sized bioreactors used for growing Gholas and Spice, but which are actually the female Tleilaxu. All the female Tleilaxu.
    • In other novels, the deathstill is used as a very painful execution device. This is how Bronso of Ix (AKA Bronso Vernius) is executed for doing exactly what Paul asked him to.
    • Children of Dune: While it's generally acceptable practice for the Fremen to kill anyone caught alone in the desert (i.e. someone who would die anyway), especially without a stillsuit, deliberately attacking other sietches or groups of Fremen for their water is considered so heinous that their water is poured into the desert for fear of being contaminated.
  • Firebird (Lackey): Anyone who isn't a prince and enters the Katschei's palace is fed to the monster staff. Ilya plays the fool so successfully that he avoids this fate when caught, because the Katschei doesn't want to risk his minions getting even dumber by eating him. The Katschei magically banishes him instead.
  • In the Garrett, P.I. series, the urban legend that wizards' spellbooks are bound in the skin of unsatisfactory underlings is so old, it's become a joke of the profession.
  • In The Golgotha Series, the Blood of the Wurm is an oily black Psycho Serum created from the blood of murdered infants.
  • As shown in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, many of Voldemort's victims ended up being tossed in an underground lake and turned into Inferi (undead) to guard one of his Horcruxes.
  • House of the Scorpion: People clone themselves so when needed, they can kill the clones and use their organs to extend their lives. One of the central characters lives to be 148 through this method.
  • The Hunger Games: Near the end of the first book, Katniss realizes that Muttations, the genetically engineered monsters that attack the surviving tributes, were somehow created from the dead tributes. In the book, the muttations have the same hair color and eyes as the tributes they were created from. In the movie, the correspondence is much subtler. They all look like brown dog-wolves, but their CGI facial expressions are based on the actors who played the tributes.
    • Although she later reflects that the Muttations probably didn't actually contain any parts of the dead tributes - they were just made to look like them for the additional psychological terror.
  • The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain contains a joke about the Egyptians burning mummies for steam train fuel. Unfortunately the story has been taken as true, right up to the present day. "D—n these plebeians, they don't burn worth a cent—pass out a King!"
  • In the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy, the Colony Ship Jacob's Ladder carries both a living crew and stored Human Popsicles. Due to the severe shortage of vital resources following the Breaking, the living crew are forced to begin shutting off life support for the popsicles in order to harvest needed materials from their corpses.
  • Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle. Sinclair's account of workers falling into rendering tanks and being ground, along with animal parts, into "Durham's Pure Leaf Lard".
  • Johannes Cabal:
  • Early in the chronology of Larry Niven's Known Space universe, the success of organ transplanting (and the endless demand) leads to the death penalty being invoked for the most trivial of crimes; in "The Jigsaw Man", the main character is sentenced to death by organ removal for jaywalking. The rich and powerful can literally have their pick from vast vats of organs. Particularly seen in the novel A Gift From Earth, where the threat of this form of punishment is used by a tyrannical minority to keep the workers in check and covers up a message from Earth detailing how to create artificial organs, since this would destroy their power structure. There were also organleggers. Want a new liver, but the medical system won't give you another because you drink and take drugs? They'll kidnap and strip someone for parts for you.
  • In The Laundry Files, the Laundry converts dead employees (among others) into zombie nightwatchmen. In classic government-speak, their Human Resources department refer to them as Residual Human Resources, or RCRs.
  • Pretty much all necromancy in The Locked Tomb series requires some form of this, whether it be bones, blood, or thalergy/thanergy.
  • Lux: Early on in the book, it's mentioned that Lux takes vast numbers of prisoners from the cities it raids in addition to supplies, and Jax wonders what the city needs that many bodies for. It's eventually revealed that Lifeforce (the ruling High Epic of Lux) is an injury manipulator, able to heal himself or his servants by displacing the injuries onto others. The rock under Lux is honeycombed with passages full of victims in tubes, just waiting to be used.
  • This is the fate of many Africans in The Man in the High Castle, an Alternate History where the Axis won World War II. There are descriptions of African tribes being turned into "a billion chemical heaps" and disquieting references to the many things their corpses are being used for, such as cigarette lighters made of bone.
  • In some of George R. R. Martin's science fiction stories, there's a profession called a "corpse handler". What they do is control a number of human corpses linked together by bionic technology and use them to perform manual labor (forest clearing, construction, and the like).
  • In The Midnight Meat Train human flesh is gathered from subway riders to feed the elders of New York in exchange for their immortality.
  • In Monster Hunter International Earl has a jacket made from minotaur hide (which is bulletproof). The initial assumption is that the hide was from a monster that Earl killed prior to the books, however later flashbacks reveal that the minotaur in question was actually a close friend of Earl's who left him his skin in his will to repay Earl for saving his life (settling debts is extremely important to minotaurs).
  • In the Necroscope series by Brian Lumley on the world where vampiric beings originated, the various Whamphryi overlords/ladies would stage raids on the human population to collect resources for the "provisioning". They would take captured people and mix them with their own metamorphic flesh, turning them into anything ranging from battle mounts capable of flight to living plumbing systems to pipe water throughout their tower-like homes. It was mentioned in one book how they would even grow stairways for their towers out of the bones and cartilage of hapless captured people, or any underling who managed to displease them enough.
  • Used in The Paper Magician by Excisioners, magicians who channel their magic through flesh and blood. Practitioners will mutilate and dissect innocent victims to increase their own power, and human hearts are particularly valuable for their spells.
  • In the Ursula K. Le Guin short story "Paradises Lost", when people die their bodies are taken to the "Life Centre" for "recycling". The story takes place on a generation ship where all resources must continually be recycled for everyone to survive, so it makes perfect sense.
  • In President's Vampire, Konrad's plastic surgery clinic's dark secret is that Konrad uses parts of human bodies in his cosmetics - bones for "life-like" prosthetics, skin for youth creams, souls for Elixir of Life... Although he's the only one to use the last one. He even constructed a machine that can extract all the parts without human input.
  • In the Riverworld series, every human being since the Pleistocene is reincarnated on an alien planet, on which they are the only animal life. While food is provided, lack of raw materials means that by the second book, human skin comes into widespread use as the only available leather.
    • It should be noted, however, that when someone dies on Riverworld, they are reincarnated elsewhere the next morning. This makes the reuse of their old bodies even creepier.
  • In Sentou Yousei Yukikaze Rei's Guy in Back ends up as a soup when the aliens realize he's the only organism around the base that a human can digest.
  • In John le Carré's novel Single & Single, the protagonist is sickened when his father's finance house partners with a Russian conglomerate to create an emergency disaster relief center in Moscow and fund it by collecting surplus blood from Russian citizens and selling the blood to Western European countries. His father knows that this trade will be far more lucrative than their parallel plans to exploit Russian resources in scrap iron and oil.
    • The novel is prefaced by a quote from a 1966 report by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that "Human blood is a commodity."
  • The Starchild Trilogy: Under the Plan of Man, all must contribute. Those who cannot or will not contribute willingly are sent to the inescapable prison called "Heaven", where they can peacefully wait until their body parts are required.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Last Shot features a Mad Doctor who believes that since organic beings make use of mechanical prosthetics, then it's only fair that droids are capable of doing the opposite. He has a group of droids under his command that hunt organic beings to harvest their limbs to replace their own once they begin to rot.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Clone troopers fall under this in the most literal sense, being designed and trained to be sent to fight and die in the Grand Army of the Republic. A novel mentions "recycling tanks" for those who are brought back from the battlefield dead, dying, or alive but not so well that they can recover easily/fast/cheaply. A surgeon, who is later horrified by how dismissive he was of them as people, idly remarks to himself that clone organ transplants are easy, with hardly any rejection. Poor bastards.
    • It is mentioned that the Sand People stick straws into the bodies of dead people they find in the desert and suck out their body fluids. Well, it's not like they're gonna need them, is it?
  • In Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears, National Security Advisor Elizabeth Elliott is trying to dig up dirt on Jack Ryan; when her investigator reports, among other innocuous facts, that Ryan has a friendly relationship with the CIA officers (John Clark and Domingo Chavez) assigned to bodyguard and protect him, Elliott reacts with honest bafflement, comparing it to "being nice to the furniture."
  • In the book The Time Traveler's Wife, Claire asks Henry, a Librarian, if the rumor that his library has a rare book that was bound in human skin is true, and he says yes. This opens things up for a great line later, when a fellow librarian tells Henry that his boss wants to see him, and that the boss "looks like he wants to rebind The Chronicles of Nawat Wuzeer Hyderabed."
  • Vorkosigan Saga: In Ethan of Athos, the bodies of people who die on the space station are processed into fertilizer for plants because the people of the station can't afford to waste organic material and it's considered less Squicky than using them directly as feedstock for meat replication.
  • The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams features the main character enjoying some pixie dust. Given that he's an aging rocker, this isn't so unusual, but he's later reminded that he's in a reality where there are actual pixies.
    • Another example involves how the fairies magitek works — they used to power it with belief, but since humans have become less superstitious while the energy needs of fairy society have gone up, that's no longer feasible. The new energy source involves leeching magic from living, usually lower-class, fairies, usually against their will. Though normally not fatal, the process leaves the victims burned out shells who are sickly, magic-less, and frequently insane.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Moutain Men in The 100 are people who survived the nuclear apocalypse by hiding in a nuclear bunker. Now they capture the people who survived and use their blood as medicine. When they realize that they can use the 100's bone marrow to become resistant to the radiations outside, they start harvesting them too.
  • The Aquabats! Super Show!: In "The Thingy!", the Thingy plans to convert the Aquabats into fuel for its spacecraft.
  • In Being Human, the vampires eventually try to control their hunger while they work on world domination by keeping a group of humans in the basement for slow drinking. Though the humans are promised that they won't lose much blood, it is gradually revealed that the people are getting sick from blood loss and that there were items left in the room from the first groups of people that were brought in... Thankfully, Anne promptly rescues everyone from the room after she meets the ghost of a man who died in the room.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Subverted in a season six episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy did believe that the Doublemeat Palace ground their employees up into hamburger, a theory supported by the disappearances of employees and after she found a finger in the meat grinder. It turns out that the employees were in fact eaten by a lamprey-like demon disguised as an old lady regular customer.
    • Angel had an episode where humans were harvested for parts for transplant to rich people.
      • Also there was a necromancer whose main source of income was putting demons into corpses provided by Wolfram & Hart.
  • The Devil Judge: All the hapless people imprisoned in the Dream Home Medical Centre. When they're alive they're experimented on, and when they're dead their bodies are cut up and sold.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In their origins, the original Cybermen are a powerful aversion to this: Humans on a doomed planet that started out as a twin of Earth go inside the planet as the entire surface becomes uninhabitable. They create suits of armor to survive the inhospitable environment on the surface to create a world propulsion system and move the entire planet into a better location and save what's left of them. The process takes so long that due to a lack of nutrition humanity is too weak and continuously swapping out their human bits for stronger robotic ones, and their leaders have preserved themselves as A.I.s. Brains are turned off to try and minimize the emotional body horror. It starts being played straight when the AI follows the logical progression of deciding the best way to preserve humanity is to make them into sterile robot men who must convert others to survive. By the time of "The Tenth Planet" (the First Doctor's first meeting with the Cybermen) they call him out on the idea that he is dooming humanity to a slow agonizing death instead of letting them convert humanity into immortality.
    • "The Parting of the Ways": The Dalek Emperor specifically extracted cells he deemed "worthy" from the humans he harvested and grew them into Dalek-Human hybrids.
    • "The Girl in the Fireplace": The Clockwork Droids rebuilt the ship out of parts of the crew.
    • "The Runaway Bride": "It was all there in the job title, the head of Human Resources."
    • Professor Lazarus in "The Lazarus Experiment" drains people away leaving emaciated husks.
    • "Partners in Crime": Adipose: The fat just walks away.
    • The fake Odin in "The Girl Who Died" captures the finest warriors from different worlds and harvests them for their testosterone, which he consumes.
  • In Dollhouse, the mysterious and sinister Attic turns out to be a place where those who have really offended the higher-ups are kept in a comatose state while their brains are used as living RAM by the Dollhouse mainframes.
  • On Farscape, Chiana and Jool fall into the hands of an Aggressive Drug Dealer who makes what is basically Space Ecstasy by draining the blood of beautiful women.
  • Grimm: Human organs can be harvested to create products for Wesen. For example, human testes can serve as an equivalent to Viagra.
  • Hannibal, which is based on a series of novels involving a cannibal doctor, takes the concept and runs with it, by having the villains-of-the-week turning humans into anything - furniture, fertilizer, artworks, instrument string...
  • Subverted on Ink Master, when the host implied the contestants would have to tattoo human corpses as part of a challenge. They wound up working on plastic dummies instead.
  • In the TV movie that kicked off Lexx, the remains of the thousands of offenders executed under His Divine Shadow are chopped up and fed to the ever-hungry titular living spaceship.
    • The Lexx got the choicest morsels, the rest is donated to the "protein bank" along with all other 'spare' human parts and bodies. As well as a source of parts for cyborgs and presumably also replacement organs for the wealthy, the protein bank was being used to feed the Gigashadow, the last survivor of humanity's deadliest enemy, the Insects. In the final TV movie, the entire population of the League of 20,000 Planets was harvested for their flesh.
  • Technically, Vampire Resources in in Moonlight: a 700-year-old vampire traps other vampires in a vat of silver (toxic to them) and processes their blood into a drug called Black Crystal, which allows a human to temporarily feel the rush of being a vampire (minus the bloodlust). When Beth takes a hit from BC, she tries to seduce Mick and begs him to turn her. Unfortunately, the high content of silver is toxic to humans too.
  • A short segment of Night Gallery featured a man whose business was getting passage out of the country for the most reprehensible murderous criminals. He did so by toasting his client's voyage and slipping him a mickey, then shipping him out of the canned dog food.
  • Night Visions: This becomes the fate of a group of unfortunate travellers in "Rest Stop". It turns out that the rest stop in the woods is a trap by the xenophobic locals to capture and kill people so they can make artifacts out of their hair, skin, and teeth.
    "You may have no use for us... but we definitely have use for you."
  • One of the Real Life weird artists who shop at Obscura from Oddities specializes in using stuff like human hair, teeth, belly-button lint or nail clippings in her craft projects. Quite a bit of Obscura's stock likewise consists of human bones or other preserved remains.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • "The Second Soul" involves first contact with a bodiless alien race fleeing the destruction of their home world. Since they cannot survive indefinitely in this form, they request that they be given dead humans as hosts.
    • In "Stasis", under the guise of a relocation programme, the Elite plan to murder the Alphas and convert their bodies into fuel, which will provide enough energy to power the City for 3.4 years.
  • Two episodes of Sliders deal with organ replacement. In one, any person under 30 is required to be an organ donor, even if said organ is vital. When someone rich and/or important needs a new heart, the computer randomly selects a healthy 20-something with a good heart and activates his implant. The implant acts as a tracking device for special squads. Another episode has clones of rich or important people kept in a vegetative state in order to have perfectly-compatible organs. The problems arise when "our" Quinn is thought to be an escaped clone for this world's Quinn, who had just lost his eyes.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Enterprise had a space station that recycled living brains to repair itself.
    • In "Fight or Flight", the crew find a starship whose murdered crew are being siphoned for their 'triglobulin' — apparently used for medicines, vaccines, and even aphrodisiacs. Unfortunately triglobulin is very similar to human lymphatic fluid…
  • On an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the crew met another Starfleet crew in the same predicament they were, but were rapidly on their way back to Earth. Trouble was, they were using sentient beings as fuel. They weren't human, didn't even look humanoid but they screamed horribly when they were in pain. Voyager ended up in something of a Mêlée à Trois with the other Starfleet crew and the justifiably pissed-off aliens as a result.
  • Subverted in an episode of Tales from the Crypt. A woman kills her husband and shoves him into a processor meant to make soap, then takes the soap home for use. The result proves to be dangerously acidic.
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, the 456 want 10% of our children to harvest drugs from them.
  • The Twilight Zone (2002): "Everwood" presents a family moving to a neighborhood where rebellious teenage children are sent to a place that at first seems like some kind of camp or disciplinary place. In the end, however, it's revealed that the kids are turned into organic fertilizer and the parents are given a tree fertilized with their child as a memento.
  • War of the Worlds (2019): It's indicated throughout Season 1 and then confirmed in Season 2 that the aliens are using human fetuses or infants for something which they need. Bill concludes it's stem cells after finding out they're dying of mutations, and are using this in treatments. There's no DNA incompatibility as they're human too.

  • Child Ballad #10, "Twa Sisters": the body parts of the drowned girl are fashioned into a musical instrument, either a harp or a fiddle. The song is covered by Loreena McKennitt in "Bonny Swan."

  • The "Hand of Glory" was the severed hand of an executed criminal, clutching a candle or each finger made into a candle (with the added bonus that the candle is sometimes made with human fat), which gave a light only the Hand's holder could see. Supposedly it was a useful tool for medieval housebreakers, who could rob a house after dark without its illumination alerting residents or neighbors.
    • In some versions of the tale, it went one step further - anyone who saw the light, other than its wielder, was hit with a full-on Hold Person effect until the light left their vision.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Not quite human, but the villainous Skeksis in The Dark Crystal harvest Life Energy from other beings to rejuvenate themselves (using a beam that coalesces the energy into a drinkable liquid). They used to harvest it from Gelflings, which provided more sustenance, but they switched over to Podlings once they hunted the Gelflings nearly to extinction.

  • In How Green Was My Cactus, Paul Bearer once had a plan to sell off Cactus Island's pensioners to be made into soap. Eventually abandoned when he realised it would never pass the Senate:
    "Damn goody-goody Democrats!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Cyberpunk 2020, the buying and selling of organs and parts of killed people is a very profitable business.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Flesh golems. It's worse in Ravenloft (creators usually are driven by obsessive insanity, while golems, no matter how innocent they start out, sooner or later become Axe-Crazy), but otherwise it's merely a very unappetizing variant which is still considered better than The Undead. Ravenloft's Hands of Glory and the Eye of Vecna are also examples.
    • Similar to the Biofab War example, certain ships in the Spelljammer setting use a sadistic variation of the typical spelljamming helm called a lifejammer. Instead of a spellcaster fuelling the ship with his or her magical power, lifejammers are powered by the life force of whichever poor victim gets strapped into the helm. Neogi slavers are fond of using them, as are the undead, and their use is banned in pretty much every civilized region of wildspace.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Black Magic does an awful lot of this, with a ton of cards over the year using the sacrifice of a creature as part of the cost for either casting them or using an ability. The faction that typifies some of the worst of black mana, Phyrexia, views much of the multiverse as a selection of raw materials, and those materials making up a person is no more significant than them making up anything else; as a result, many Phyrexian constructions are needlessly visceral.
    "You serve Phyrexia. Your pieces would better serve Phyrexia elsewhere." — Azax-Azog, the Demon Thane, Dismember Flavor Text.
  • In Paranoia Alpha Complex's main food source is from algae tanks which are in part fed by recycled citizens.
  • Rifts: The "blood" of Cactus People, called their life fluid, is a sweet and highly nutritious liquid that can sustain humans and other creatures even in the absence of regular water, and which is also an excellent ingredient for Healing Potions. Consequently, Cactus People are often hunted by evil people and being who consider them merely crops to be harvested.
  • Starfinder: One of the most lucrative industries on Eox, the undead planet, is the creation of necrografts, body augmentations created from undead organs, rather than cybernetics or biotech. They are usually made from mass-produced, artificial flesh, but there is a Black Market for off-world cadavers.
    • Off-world cadavers are also the only way for Eox to grow its population, since undead can't reproduce biologically. There are also plenty of living people on Eox who have sold their remaining years of labor in exchange for undeath.
  • Warhammer 40,000: A running joke is that the only resource the Imperium of Man is not short on is people.
    • To the point where an infamously ruthless general forced his armies across minefields to clear them for his tanks.
    • Space Marine Apothecaries do this literally: their main task in battle is to harvest the geneseed (artificial organs) of their fallen comrades. If this is not done they won't have enough materials to make more Space Marines.
    • Commander Chenkov once ordered for a wall to be built to protect against his enemies. When the men informed him there wasn't enough mortar and bricks, he ordered them to start shooting his own men, and made a wall out of their corpses.
    • Servitors, which the Imperium uses in place of robots for heavy lifting and menial labor, are created by lobotomizing a human and grafting them into the machine they are to control. Robots and true AI have been banned by the Imperium for religious reasons — that is, a AI/Human War in the remote past. This war is also implied to be one of the main things that ended the "Dark Age of Technology".
    • Also, juvenat treatments (chemicals that stave off aging and increase life expectancy by hundreds if not thousands of years) are implied to be made out of children.
    • The Medusa V campaign ended with the Dark Eldar capturing enough human slaves to use them as starship fuel (knowing the Dark Eldar, being used as actual combustion fuel is the best fate those slaves could have hoped for).
    • On top of all this, the Imperium uses psykers to power the Astronomican that guides its ships through the Warp and the Golden Throne that keeps the Emperor alive. An average of one thousand burn out and die every day. The Throne has been described as having pyskers physically fed into it — at least the Astronomican "only" burns out minds.
    • The Tyranid top them by attacking with their Cannon Fodder troops to cause the enemy to waste ammunition before the real attack starts, since they'll just lap up those troops' biomass (biomass being anything organic) to make more later, then eat up the enemy's. Said troops don't even have a digestive system! They're supposed to get wiped out.
    • So far the only two factions that have not resorted to this are the Eldar (who are too few to toss away their fellows...and even they are slowly resorting to this) and the Tau (who actually value the lives of their citizens). Everyone else indulges in a form of this or another; Chaos always has worshippers, Orks literally grow from spores (to the point that a whole Ork Ecosystem can spring up from one spore-spewing corpse) and the necrons can teleport away and resurrect. Even the Dark Eldar joins in on the fun with cloning-based resurrection and test tube babies.
    • Amusingly enough, the Imperium does have a common foodstuff named "Soylens Veridians". It's made from algae. When they make it from people it's called "corpse starch", because subtlety is a lost art in the far future.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Genius: The Transgression: This is kind of an ever-present problem. Proper material for living things needs to come from somewhere. Most Geniuses try to find a workaround... but Illuminated don't care.
      • Larvae, components which have been obtained in an unethical manner and which consequently provide extremely powerful resources. The rulebook explicitly states that the power of Larvae comes not from the actual properties of the materials, but from the Inspiration unlocked by being willing to use unethically obtained components to get what you want: If you could somehow obtain a Larva in an ethical manner, it wouldn't work.
    • In the Immortals sourcebook for the New World of Darkness, the Patchwork People are Corrupt Corporate Executives and evil aristocrats who maintain their immortality by thieving organs and hormone extracts from innocent victims.
    • Princess: The Hopeful:
      • The Caligo Flesh of My Flesh lets servants of the Darkness heal their wounds... but to use it you need fresh human flesh to replace what you've lost, and there's really only one way to get that.
      • The Court of Mirrors, meanwhile, has the Charm Enduring Beauty, which lets you literally peel the beauty off someone's face and turn it into a magical gem that is useful for any number of things. The unfortunate donor is permanently disfigured, unless the Princess who cast the charm is very skilled and feeling generous, in which case she can leave her victim looking merely dull and normal.
    • Promethean: The Created: Prometheans are made from 1+ corpses, depending on lineage, and every Promethean who intends to complete their pilgrimage and Become a Real Boy needs to create at least one other Promethean in order to do so. The lucky Prometheans are the ones who can find an appropriate corpse, but this can be rather hit-and-miss; the Galateids, for example, need the largely unscathed body of someone young and beautiful as raw materials, and only so many attractive teens or 20-somethings die of barbiturate overdoses. As such, one of the grim ironies of Promethean existence is that a key element of their progress to humanity is so often dependent on committing at least one premeditated murder in order to use the victim as, essentially, enlightenment fuel.

  • In Macbeth, the potion that creates the apparitions requires some human bits.

    Video Games 
  • In 2Dark Miguele uses his hospice as a front for his real business — killing children and selling their organs (specifically advertising them as such).
  • In a reference to one of the most famous cases of the trope, Afterlife has among Gluttony's punishments "Soylent Yellow", where, as put by the description:
    a)Every now and then you get tossed into a meat grinder and compressed into a little yellow wafer.
    b)The only thing to eat are these icky yellow wafers with bits of hair and bone in them.
  • In American McGee's Alice, the Hatter's clockwork inventions are fueled by insane children. Alice: Madness Returns uses them for the Infernal Train, as well.
  • The Adam economy of Rapture, from BioShock, is built on this. First, the Adam (a valuable genetic commodity/drug) is made in the bodies of modified little girls grafted to an outright miraculous sea slug. These self-same little girls are set loose to gather Adam from the bodies of dead splicers. Not to mention that the monstrous Big Daddies that protect them are extremely bio-modded humans in armored diving suits. It's implied within the game that the Big Daddies are created out of out-of-work and down-on-their-luck people. There are signs about an orphanage and a halfway house right near where the Little Sisters and Big Daddies are created.
  • In Armed Police Batrider, it turns out that one of the reasons that GiganTech took measures to turn Zenovia into a city-state with it as the ruling party was to be able to use the now-trapped denizens' life-force as a power supply for Discharge and anything else that required too much power for anything else to work viably.
  • Breath of Fire
  • Chrono Trigger features this as an extreme late game reveal (if one approaches an ending that involves defeating Lavos after the prehistoric era): it turns out that Civilization Destroyer Lavos has been guiding evolution on the planet ever since it impacted upon/infected the world; it needed as much tasty human morsels as possible for itself and its spawn and apparently humans will do just nicely: why exactly it would not have been satisfied with eating other mammals that couldn't realistically fight back, is never really explained—which is odd, because it is implied that Lavos did destroy the Reptite race that dominated the planet up until its landing, precisely because they were a threat.
  • In the Codename: Kids Next Door game Operation: V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E, Father uses the bodies of all villains the team defeated to create the last boss, The Amalgamation.
  • The Command & Conquer series uses this a few times, mostly in the Red Alert series.
    • In Red Alert 2, you can gain funds by sending infantry back into the Cloning Vats. In the add-on game Yuri's Revenge, the antagonist faction has a building specifically for this purpose, called a Grinder.
    • The Grinder returns as a Soviet structure in Red Alert 3, where it's called the Crusher Crane. If you're feeling more charitable, it can also repair vehicles.
    • Red Alert 2's editable INI files refer to the recycle-value of a unit as "soylent", in a fun bit of referential humor.
    • Yuri's power plants could also improve their output if a soldier (One of Yuri's army or a mind-controlled enemy) was forced inside. However, this is a temporary boost, as the soldiers can leave the power plants again.
    • CABAL in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun is an artificial intelligence that stores humans in vats so it can use their brains' processing power. Its name is an acronym for "Computer Assisted Biologically Augmented Lifeform".
  • The demons in Corruption Of Champions strap people into chairs, inject drugs, corruptive fluids, and aphrodisiacs into them, and then milk them of their sexual fluids for the rest of their lives. This is a potential fate of the player character.
  • Though Cult of the Lamb stars Funny Animals like the titular Lamb, the trope still applies as he's encouraged to use the bones of his enemies in unholy rituals for his dark patron, The One Who Waits, harvest "Heretic Hearts" to gain more power, and even butcher and cook his own followers to serve them to the survivors.
  • In Dead Rising 2: Case West, Chuck Greene and Frank West go through the files of Phenotrans and discover that the Fortune City outbreak was orchestrated because not enough zombies were available to breed Zombrex producing queens. Prior to that, the best way to make Zombrex was by infecting runaways, missing persons, and convicted felons, which they note Phenotrans was running low on.
  • In Dead Space, aboard the Ishimura, fetuses are being grown in tanks. It's explained that they are being grown to harvest limbs and such for people who have lost theirs in mining accidents. They become the Lurkers.
  • Dwarf Fortress
    • The game allows you to make crossbow bolts from the bones of your enemies. Creative modding also allows you to butcher captured and/or fallen enemies for food and other by-products.
    • Each dwarf has a chance to go into a "strange mood", which will result in them producing a legendary artifact. If the dwarf is miserable at the time the strange mood strikes, there's a chance he'll go into a Fell Mood, driving him to murder a fellow dwarf and make some leather craft out of the dead dwarf's skin.
    • Mermaid bones were once a very valuable commodity, as merfolk are incredibly rare. Someone figured out a way to make a mermaid farms by carefully managing a "captive" population so that they would breed fast enough to have a reliable supply. Toady was horrified by this and lowered the value of mermaid bones drastically in a later update.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion had Flesh Atronachs in the Shivering Isles expansion, Flesh Elementals made out of flesh of other things by Relmyna Verenim after her "discovery" of the Flesh element.
  • In at least earlier versions of the Elite games, if you used your starship for the illicit trade in slaves, and either forgot to install life support in your cargo bays or said support became damaged, said slaves would arrive at the next trade port as the (less valuable) commodity "fertilizer". (At least they didn't arrive as "meat", like would happen with "live animals" under similar circumstances.)
  • In Endless Space 2, the Horatio ability Gene Splicing kills several pops from non-Horatio races in order to apply their traits to the Horatio pops. Because the ability gets more expensive with each use, it's eventually able to depopulate entire planets.
  • Fallout starts with 'Iguana' Bob, whose stores tend to include a slight bit of long pig when the iguana is low. Fallout 3 also includes the people of Arefu potentially giving blood to the Family in exchange for protection or being left alone, and the children of Little Lamplight, who are only able to survive thanks to the radiation-cleansing properties of a specific fungus that suddenly flourished after having all the dead adults dropped into it. The Little Lamplighters continue to provide nourishment for said fungus. The player character in Fallout 3 can also sell human blood and... ahem... strange meat to some of the above groups, although not usually producing it himself or herself.
    • Not to mention the Cannibal perk, which lets you eat corpses and people you kill. Rather nutritious, too. Just don't let others know of your disgusting habits.
  • In Final Fantasy Type-0, "Phantoma" can be absorbed from dead organic enemies (Including human soldiers). Absorbing Phantoma replenishes the character's MP, and collected Phantoma is used in the Altocrystarium to power up spells in multiple parameters (Strength, range, MP consumption, etc.)
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, it's revealed that the Heroes' Relics are made from the bones and hearts of slaughtered Nabateans, humans who could turn into dragons. Their blood was also taken and transfused into humans, and the manifestations of the power granted by that blood are the Crests borne by those humans' descendants—the students.
  • In The Forest, both the player can use the cannibals bodyparts as effigies to scare them off, while the cannibals have used human limbs to create some themselves. Also, the cannibals got their moniker for a reason.
  • Played with in Freedom Wars. When you rescue an abducted Citizen, the escape hatch is called a "Resource Reclamation Pod", and your Accessory talks about them as a commodity, implying this trope. You soon find out that the "resource" being discussed are said Citizen's mind and skills, and despite being the privileged classnote  are expected to dedicate themselves completely to the collective happiness of the Panopticon. In addition, Citizens you rescue can be used at facilities to expedite crafting and produce higher-quality items.
  • In Front Mission for Super Famicom the main villain uses the hero's girlfriend's brain as a computer for his mech. You can eventually install "her" into your own wanzer.
  • Openly encouraged and gleefully advertised in Graveyard Keeper, which has you extracting body parts from corpses for profit, like fat to make church candles, meat to sell to the unknowing villagers, or skulls to gift to a disgruntled scholar.
  • The Combine of Half-Life 2 have Earth under a planet-wide military occupation. Having sterilized its inhabitants, it's only a matter of time until humanity goes extinct... and until then, the Combine plan to exploit them just like any other resource. The Gas Mask Mooks you fight throughout the game are them 'repurposing' humans as an occupation force, but the ultimate example is the Stalker. Meanwhile, it's implied that the Synths employed by the Combine are this trope applied to other aliens.
  • The Flood from the Halo series starts out as a typical example of The Virus, infecting living beings and transforming them into Combat Forms. However, once it took over the population of the Covenant holy city the Gravemind started producing Pure Forms - creatures built from scratch out of collected biomass.
  • The videogame High on Life has the protagonist fighting an alien drug cartel that abducts humans to use as drugs.
  • The player character in inFAMOUS can pull energy from other people to fuel his powers. The game's MacGuffin does this on a much larger scale.
  • Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds has human blood as a Martian resource.
  • The Last Guardian has your bird/dog/cat companion Trico eat glowing barrels for energy. At the end of the game you find out the barrels are filled with pre-digested people. Ick.
  • Near the end of Magical Starsign, you learn the robots are powered by gummies made from humans. The humans forming the gummies are all that's left of the Espresso civilization, and when they run out, every robot will turn against every civilization in order to make more. Mood Whiplash indeed!
  • In the old Sierra adventure game Manhunter, one of the big reveals is that the orbs have no interest in keeping humanity around and are slowly but surely converting useless and dangerous individuals to some kind of nutrient stuff. In the first game, it's the actual fate of anyone "transferred to Chicago". Like you.
  • Humans are this to the Reapers in Mass Effect, but it's not clear exactly how, since the Reapers go on about how you couldn't possibly understand. The game hints that the husks might have something to do with though. Likewise the Collectors in Mass Effect: Ascension, who may or may not be the same group as the Reapers (they're never seen and nobody knows anything concrete about them).
    • In Mass Effect 2, it turns out that Reapers are constructed from a combination of mechanical components and the liquefied and processed bodies of organics, making them strange cybernetic organisms.
    • Mordin's loyalty mission has him and Shepard discussing the use of live test subjects (human and otherwise) in medical research. Mordin states that humans make excellent test subjects for such projects due to their greater genetic diversity compared to most other species. However, he disapproves of such methods on moral grounds, saying that they have no place in real science.
    • In Mass Effect 3, you visit a massive refugee camp on Horizon, run by a group that is entirely controlled by Cerberus. Not only is the place completely deserted, files found on desks of the administration staff refer to the reception terminal as "Processing". All healthy adults are turned into mind-controlled cyborg soldiers while everyone else is made into husks as samples for Anti-Reaper weapon tests.
    • The Big Bad of the Citadel DLC is revealed to be a clone of Shepard, created by Cerberus as part of the Lazarus Project to provide replacement organs and limbs in case Shepard was critically injured during the Collector Mission. S/he has none of Shepard's memories and was never even supposed to be conscious and naturally, developed something of an Inferiority Superiority Complex towards the real Shepard as a result.
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Raiden can slice apart rival cyborgs and extract recovery units from within their body in order to maintain his own cybernetics. Justified, because Raiden's cyborg body doesn't have a repair unit of its own, and extracting enemy repair units allows him to recover from damage more quickly than using them properly (in which case, he'd recover no quicker than the average healing speed of normal humans) and recharge his fuel cells in the process.
  • Minecraft has a subtle example: Zombies and Skeletons both drop useful items. Skeletons in particular drop bones, which are useful as fertilizer, while Zombies drop Rotten Flesh, which is less than ideal for proper meals but is useful in a pinch. Both of these are implied to have once been human, especially the Zombies, which have an appearance that's almost identical to the default character skin. Additionally, Rotten Flesh gives the player a temporary Hunger effect when eaten.
  • In Moon Chronicles an underground alien complex is discovered on the moon which processes people into various products.
  • In Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, the titular Abe and his fellow race, the human-like Mudokons, are the slaves of Rapture Farms, the biggest meat-processing plant on the planet. And because Rapture Farms has processed so much livestock into extinction, the Glukkons, an entire race of Corrupt Corporate Executives, decide that their newest product will be the Mudokons themselves! The second game, Abe's Exoddus, has the Glukkons making drinks from Mudokon bones and tears.
  • In Oiligarchy, you can eventually start processing people into biofuels once oil starts running out.
  • The Outer Worlds has a variation of this trope: the Board considers its employees to be company property, barely more deserving of rights or dignity than any tool or piece of equipment. As such, any self-harm or suicide is considered "vandalism", with fines charged to the offender (or in the case of suicide, the deceased's coworkers).
  • Referenced/parodied in the Portal 2 DLC.
    Cave Johnson: Just wanna let the cafeteria staff know to lay off the Soylent Green. I'm holding a memo from the President, and it turns out that soylent green is... [paper rustling] let's see here... doubling in price."
  • Harvesting humans to turn into goofy robots was the primary purpose of the giant sphinctership in Prey (2006).
  • [PROTOTYPE] is quite literally made of this. The plot revolves around a virus that warps and re-purposes human bodies for its own ends; the creatures Alex fights are grown from infected humans (which in concept art is depicted as packed-together human bodies, still somewhat alive, being gradually assimilated into the larval form of the creature); one boss fight is against a woman literally encased in human flesh, which she uses like a gigantic set of Power Armor; and Alex himself absorbs people to take their memories, appearances, and mass to fuel his abilities, 'consuming' them alive.
  • In Quake II and Quake IV, the Strogg use the bodies of humans to increase their ranks, to break down into Stroyent, and to power their machinery, amongst other things. Your first encounter with this rather nasty aspect of the Strogg is the second objective of the fifth mission of Quake II, which has you shutting down an alien processing plant. In Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Strogg technicians can convert fallen GDF sodiers into single use respawn points for Strogg players.
    • It is also implied that the Strogg that are not made from humans are made from other alien races the Strogg have conquered.
  • Quantum Protocol: The scales of Dragoons can be used as powerful computer chips, but according to the developer on their Discord, breaking the scales off kills the Dragoon and Omega already killed Kaia's sister this way.
  • In Rimworld, dead humans can be butchered like any other animal, producing human meat and human leather at the cost of a "we butchered humanlike" morale penalty for non-psychotic colonists. Human meat can be eaten, which will horrify non-cannibals, or it can be used to make animal kibble or fed into a biofuel refinery to produce chemfuel. Human leather can be used to upholster furniture, create sandbags, or even craft clothing, leading to the meme of calling otherwise-useless colonists "hats." Colonists without the Bloodlust or Cannibal traits will dislike wearing human leather clothing... but the mood penalty for wearing one piece of such clothing is less than the debuff for wearing worn or tattered clothes. Alternatively, living humans - such as prisoners - can have their organs harvested for reuse by colonists or for sale to traders.
  • The first Season of the Sam & Max games is about an alien Big Bad who extracts blissful emotion from humans.
    • In the Season 3 episode The Penal Zone, the arch-villain harvests moleman sweat (not exactly human, but still...) as condiments and rocket fuel. An escaped victim would later run in the streets, screaming a la the final scene of Soylent Green.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: There are several substances you can find across these games. Demons love 'em all, magnetite, magatsuhi, red pills, what's the diff? All taste great and give lots of energy. The method of production, though? It involves humans, torture, and very, very painful extraction. There's a reason it's been called true evil.
  • The recycling tanks in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. The supplementary materials imply that it's mostly the carbon and water that's being recycled, the two being rarities in the heavily nitrated soil and atmosphere of Planet.
    "It is every citizen's final duty to go into the Tanks, and become one with all of the people."
    — Chairman Sheng-Ji Yang, 'Ethics for Tomorrow'
  • Supreme Commander and Total Annihilation are just about robots, but they have harvesting wrecks (or immobile enemy structures or your own units) for resources.
  • Star Control II does this with the Druuge, whose Mauler ship has a ridiculously low recharge rate for its weapon. Luckily, the Druuge keep all their crewmates conveniently close to the engine intake.
    • The game tends to objectify life in general: your ship's life units are its crew members, and if they die, it's no problem for you as long as you have enough Resource Units to buy more. Moreover, you collect Resource Units after winning a battle by scavenging minerals from the enemy ship's wreckage. It seems as though a planet's inhabitants are sacred, but once those inhabitants are aboard a ship, they are expendable, at least to an extent because if you lose a lot of crew members, the price for new crew members goes up. Same happens if you sell too many of them to the Druuge as slaves. There is an optional sidequest where you can save the Shofixti race, who have a ridiculously fast reproduction rate, thus creating an effectively endless pool of volunteer, bushido-following, loyal and eager to sacrifice themselves for you recruits, resulting in your crew cost to be reduced to lowest possible.
  • Zerg Defilers in Starcraft consume friendly units to regain special ability energy. So does Kerrigan. But then, she is the Queen Bitch of the Universe.
    • And Samir Duran as well. But then, he is, well... whatever the hell he is.
  • The Rune of Life and Death (a.k.a. the Soul Eater Rune) in Suikoden feeds off of the souls of those close to its' wielder, growing in power each time it does so.
  • Sword of Paladin: Members of the Extra Gem conspiracy kill several members of the Charlemagne family in order to convert their souls into Royal Gems, which are powerful due to the family's ability to control elemental spirits.
  • In System Shock 2, the Many, early on, connect worms to humans to change them into Hybrids. Later, having gained control of the Von Braun, they start converting people into their raw components and building new creatures out of the biomass.
  • Exspheres in Tales of Symphonia.
  • Dead bodies are used in Tears to Tiara and Tears to Tiara 2 by The Empire to make Golmes.
  • Killing enemies with Damage Traps in Tecmo's Deception only makes them drop gold. However, if you successfully finish them with a Capture Trap, you have the choice of taking the gold off their corpse, sucking their soul out to restore your Mana Meter, or entombing their actual bodies to be used to create a monster for Summon Magic.
  • Ultima III had an interesting case of Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can drum up some quick, easy cash by creating new characters for the party with the express intent of selling all of their equipment. There's even a place in a town where you can donate blood (reduction of hit points) and you get payment for it! So before you delete those naked characters you can sell almost all of their blood for cash!
  • The Hierarchy in Universe at War: Earth Assault, intentionally designed to perpetuate every single Alien Invasion sci-fi cliche in the last sixty years, gathers resources with walkers that can harvest buildings, cars, wrecks, cows and people.
  • In Unreal, the Mercenaries in the Terraniux hydroponics facility are either fleecing the Nali for fertiliser, or using them as fertiliser:
    Translator Message: Greenhouse B: The Karkilys Zegnus need more fertiliser. Please dispatch a group of guards to inspect the Nali homes in Noork's Elbow.
  • In Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, the undead can store corpses to be eaten or resurrected for later use. Of course, they are undead. Their siege weapon is the Meat Wagon which throws bodies as ammunition and can stack up the corpes of the deceased. Luckily, these corpses can spawn from thin air and you don't have to collect any for that purpose if you don't want to.
    • In addition, the undead in World of Warcraft have the racial ability "Cannibalize" which allows them to regain health by eating a corpse.
      • A few undead units in Warcraft III have this ability too.
      • The Death Knight class introduced in the second expansion has the ability to raise a humanoid corpse as a temporary pet for a few minutes or as a lifelong companion if enough points are put into the proper talent tree.
      • Including allies. Word of caution: some people really don't like it.
      • Update: Death Knights have apparently gotten better at it, because their "Raise Ally" button is now a full battle resurrection.
  • In WildStar, playing with and utilizing the dead for your own purposes seems to be a real recurring theme.
    • First up, there are the Moodies who raise the dead as servants, and themselves when they meet an unfortunate end.
    • Next up, there are the Mordesh, who need Vitalus so badly it is actually protocol to extract the chemical from dead Mordesh.
    • Speaking of which, both the Mordesh and the Chua are not adverse to test subjects that are little less than fresh for their experiments. While they would certainly prefer live ones, one simply does not have the luxury most of the time.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, it was implied that some humans were turned into alien food, but in XCOM 2, it is explicitly shown that humans are being broken down into some sort of green slime (most likely to be used in the Gene Clinics) in the ADVENT Black Site mission. It's eventually revealed that these humans are being used to create Avatars, new bodies to be used as hosts for the Ethereals. XCOM: Chimera Squad reveals that ADVENT used excess resources from their Gene Clinics to create their signature burgers.
  • In the video game Xenogears it is eventually revealed that the human race (of the game's world) was created by a cyborg computer to be eventually used as spare parts!
    • At one point Fei, Citan, and Elly discover that when in Solaris, one should not eat the food. Ironically they discover this in the food plant itself. Fei and Elly break open a few barrels at the end of the production line to appease their growling guts. They even comment on how good it tastes. Citan refrains but lets them eat anyway. The characters then walk into the next part of the plant, and well... you can imagine what happens next.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Below the church, Kirei Kotomine has magical coffins that suck the life and apparently the mass of children who really ought to be corpses but aren't. The end result? About fifty kids who have been stuck in stone coffins for ten years while they rot at an infinitesimal rate, with no idea how they got there. So they're human resources even before they die.
    • Heroic Spirits, due to their inability to regenerate their own prana, usually rely on their Masters to restore their reserves. Normally the steady trickle they get from the contract is enough, but there are other ways they can get more. In desperate circumstances, or if the Master simply wants to quickly power up their Servant, the Spirit can resort to consuming souls. Due to their Masters lacking prana, Caster and Rider did so.
    • The Holy Grail converts the souls of Heroic Spirits into energy to power itself. Caster determined it could also be powered by ordinary human souls, though in much vaster quantities. She set up a system to harvest power from vast areas slowly over time. While it's mostly non-lethal and the people should recover once she stops, the longer she keeps it up the higher the chance of people dying. It's one of the major reasons Shirou refuses to work with her.
    • Caster's original Master, Atrum Galliasta, set up a system designed to siphon mana from abducted girls, and solidify it into crystals he could use in his magecraft. He threw a hissy fit when Caster showed him she could generate a better product sans the entirely unnecessary suffering, which was one of the reasons she decided to turn against him.
    • Later on, by the time of Fate/strange fake, infamous mage/gangster Bazdilot Cordelion would use a colossally amplified version of Galliasta's system to generate the mana crystals he'd need to sustain his Archer. Without batting an eye, he later reveals he killed 24,976 people to do this. His treatment of Archer is equally repugnant.
  • Freedom Wars takes the trope to its logical extreme and, funnily enough, makes it all the way back to the original meaning of this trope: skilled worker management. In the resource-starved dark future, skilled, educated humans are the most valuable resource of all. So you fight giant abductor robots who steal humans and imprison them in their own bodies.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend's all-birds high school has a rumor that the students who vanish in the infirmary are used for diabolical experiments and then converted into teriyaki for the lunch menu and quill pens for the bookstore. There's significant evidence that these rumors are true, but the government does nothing... because they're sponsoring the Mad Scientist who is the school doctor!
  • Metacreatures in Shikkoku no Sharnoth are spawned from corpses by the host of the Metacreature.

  • In Alice and the Nightmare, the key element of the medicine Alice drinks every morning is Rougina's blood.
  • In the Korean Webtoon City of Dead Sorcerer it's implied that the sudden appearance of mana energy (magic) that muggles could use with the help of magitek was due to the mass murder of "real" magic-users, who were apparently living in secret a la Harry Potter since no one had ever heard of someone who could use magic without a dispenser (basically a wand). Sadly it seems they were exterminated with the help of collaborators.
  • In Deep Rise humans are used for food and servitors. Cheertwit's "tablet" servitors "Scribblebrite" used to be a little kid.
  • In Drowtales, humans are constantly kept as slaves, cheap labour, and meat shields by the Drow races. Well not being outright kept for eating, partly because it takes too long for humans to mature enough to be worth it, when a human dies the drow have no qualms butchering and serving them as food, but they also frequently do this to other drow, as food is too scarce in the underworld to waste. The Black Dragon Tavern is also shown to have fed humans and other drow who became useless in their Gladiator Games to their growing dragon hatchlings.
  • Niels uses his front waste disposal business's incinerator to dispose of the bodies from his organized crime, and then sells the ashes as discount fertilizer.
  • The Order of the Stick:
  • Schlock Mercenary: In the Haven Hive arc, the heroes discover that kidnapped humans are being used to develop illegal nanites. Every time the kidnappers tried to work around this problem and make it so that the nanites would reproduce in an easier fashion, all the hosts died. The worst part (which is so bad that the evil mastermind is horrified when he finds out) is that none of it was necessary. The "mastermind" was actually being sabotaged by his second in command, who was hobbling the nanites so that they couldn't reproduce properly. Once he was removed, the human hosts were replaced with racks of hydroponic watermelons.
  • Implied in this S.S.D.D. where the head of the CORE wonders how the Collective of Anarchist States could get the carbon and calcium to build the Tower of Babel from the wreckage of post-hurricane New York.
    Federov: ...I've just thought of a way to supplement a carbon and calcium supply after a natural disaster. Please say I'm wrong.
    Central: There's been a distinct lack of televised funerals from the CAS, so sorry sir, I can't rule it out.
  • Suicide for Hire: Hunter's project on utilitarianism. Apparently he does this a lot, as his on-off girlfriend Chryseis later asks him "Have you ever considered doing a project for that class that didn't involve the slaughter of hundreds?"
  • Tower of God - Ja Wangnan has run himself so much into debt that he could never hope to repay, but his Loan Sharks give him one last chance: they'll pay for the next test he'll take, but he will have to give up all his organs if he fails. So it really is a matter of life and death to him. Luckily, he meets Viole.
    • And, that's nothing in comparison to what the Workshop does to acquire living, walking, and talking ignition weapons. The casualty rate amongst the lucky chosen experimental groups of children is... a little excessive, shall we say?
  • In Unsounded "Plods" are corpses that were deliberately reanimated with pymary (magic) and are widely used as a cheap source of slave labor. They are considered quite ordinary in the countries that "employ" them; making a mindless magical meat-puppet do punishing work for days at a time is said to be a more humane practice than enslaving living, feeling humans. Their use is heavily regulated, as is their appearance, which is made uniform and featureless to prevent an Uncanny Valley effect, and areas where they are working are often cordoned off so as not to disturb the living.

    Web Original 
  • In the "Courage Wolf vs Insanity Wolf" Animeme Rap Battle, after being told he gives nothing to society, Insanity Wolf replies "Yeah, that's a real crock of shit! I feed the homeless! To the homeless!"
  • In Lucky Day Forever, the Lottery Winner bodies are used to revitalize the Whites's bodies while keeping the Whites young forever. This trope metaphorically represents the Whites taking advantage of the gullible Proles.
  • In The Pittsburgh SOAPranos, it's implied that the mob soap shop exists in part to dispose of inconvenient bodies in the form of soap.
  • In The Sandstorm episodes of Welcome to Night Vale, everything in Desert Bluffs is said to be made out of or covered in viscera. Possibly implied to be the fate of one of the Intern Danas - they ran out of materials, and the surviving Dana had to build that shelf out of something.
  • In The Return as well as the Other White Meat, Succubae feed on human sexual energy. One of the markers of the "good guys" is that when they do it, their victims are still alive afterwards. Alexia's victims are not so lucky.
  • In Twig, the Ghosts, groups of enhanced soldiers who act as spies and commandos, do this as a crude form of exponential growth. They prey upon the local homeless population, usually children, for both biomass to grow more of them and brains which can be modified to work with the Ghost template. When a Ghost cell has gained enough members, they will bud off another cell or engage in acts of terrorism to reduce their own numbers.
  • In Void Domain, Bloodstones are formed by magically crushing a living heart into a gem.
  • It's revealed at the end of Who Says...? that Heaven and Hell have begun brainwashing new souls that arrive in their domains into babyhood to farm them for Innocence, a resource they cultivate to power their realms.

    Western Animation 
  • A rather painful and Squick-y example from Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The trees, upset at the way people have been treating them, put Master Shake on trial; during the trial, they bring out Carl... and rip pieces of his skin right off his body to use as paper.
  • In Ben 10: Secret of the Omnitrix, Tetrax mentions that some aliens see humans as a delicacy.
    • In the episode "Permanent Retirement", Ben's grandaunt Vera's retirement community is attacked by a race of Blob Monster aliens called the Limaxes with a taste for elderly flesh.
  • In The Pittsburgh SOAPranos, it's implied that the mob soap shop exists in part to dispose of inconvenient bodies in the form of soap.
  • A season 2 episode of Metalocalypse reveals that the favorite sewing material of the band's new fashion designer is "special leather". The final scene, which shows the room where he harvests this material, is so Squicky that even the band is horrified.
    Nathan: OH, WHAT A HORRIBLE-Oh, you're fired by the way.
  • The following exchange occurred on The Simpsons:
    Homer: Marge, please, old people don't need companionship. They need to be isolated and studied so it can be determined what nutrients they have that might be extracted for our personal use.
    Marge: Homer, would you please stop reading that Ross Perot pamphlet?
  • Strongly implied in a quick gag in another episode, in the form of two sponsors for one of Krusty's holiday shows.
    ...bought to you by I.L.G, selling your body's chemicals, after you die! And Li'l Sweetheart cupcakes, a subsidiary of I.L.G
  • Played for Laughs in Futurama, where Fry is worried that the secret ingredient in Slurm is people.
    Leela: There's already a drink like that - Soylent Cola.
    Fry: Oh... how's it taste?
    Leela: It varies from person to person.
  • A nonlethal example in Ugly Americans, where the Gay Pride Parade powers the New York electric grid.
  • The Edelwood Trees from Over the Garden Wall are revealed late in the show to be lost souls consumed by the Beast. The Woodsman uses them to fuel his lantern, not knowing of their true origins until later.

    Real Life 
  • The organ donor system; you agree to it, then fall over dead, and some doctors cut all the useful bits out of you to use in someone else. Often it is illegal for the donor's family to profit by this; in some countries, there is a small payment. Likewise with donating eggs, sperm, blood, and bone marrow — with the added convenience of omitting the "fall over dead" part.
  • The Holocaust: during Operation Reinhard, local commanders came up with a simple but brilliant way to make an extra buck and outshine the programmes being implemented by the German Army and the regional SSPFs (Shutzstaffel und Polizei Führers, SS and Police leaders) in the occupied Soviet Union: rather than simply claiming the Undesirables' personal effects and disposing of the remains, they experimented with processing the corpses into products which could be sold. After the clearing of the backlog and closure of the Reinhard facilities, the consolidated selection/disposal facility at Auschwitz-II/Birkenau continued the most productive uses. These included cloth from hair and fertiliser from bone. The museum at the Auschwitz-I work/concentration camp still has some of the hair-cloth on display.
    • The hair was woven into thermal socks and underwear issued to U-Boat crewmen and Luftwaffe aircrew, and used to fill mattresses issued to prisoners of war. One British PoW recalls marveling that the Germans were methodical enough to collect all the gleanings from barber and hairdressers' shops for re-use...
    • And then there were the medical experiments, such as those on hypothermia and survivable levels of blood loss. The actual doctors expressed a particular contempt for Joseph Mengele, who had an honorary doctorate in Racial Science because his experiments had no scientific merit. Despite the common misconception, data from Nazi medical experiments was never really used or useful, as it was often based on Racist pseudoscience, and almost always had laughably poor experimental design. For example, the studies on Hypothermia were based on the idea that if a Jew survived a certain amount of time, and a Russian survived a different period of time, an Aryan would obviously survive longer again - which lead to conclusions like water at 2°C (Half the temperature inside your fridge, and just above freezing) was functionally identical to water at 12°C (about 53°F, about the same temperature as a cool day in spring or fall), which is, needless to say, absolutely wall-climbingly bonkers.
    • Partly due to the racist nature of US culture in that age, and also due to pointedly racist anti-Japanese propaganda by the American government, many US soldiers cut up the corpses of Japanese people and boiled the flesh off the bone so they could fashion objects out of them or take them home intact as 'souvenirs'. By contrast, in the European theater, the only verified case of this was of a single German corpse scalped by a Native American soldier. This practice featured heavily in Japanese propaganda and promoted Japanese reluctance to surrender. However, despite its popularity, the mutilation of enemy soldiers was officially banned in the American military, largely for pragmatic reasons: there were fears that it might make the Japanese more willing to respond in kind.
      • There's currently a war crimes tribunal featuring US soldiers who allegedly took 'souvenirs' from the corpses of Afghan civilians.
  • During World War One, there was quite a bit of anti-German propaganda alleging various atrocities, some of which did happen, but many of which were exaggerations or pure inventions. One rumor was of corpse-processing factories that were used to extract chemicals from dead German soldiers (and, in some versions, dead enemies and civilians) particularly glycerine (used in making explosives). This appears to be a combination of complete fantasy and a false cognate; the German word Kadaver refers to the bodies of dead animals (which are processed into various products like leather, tallow, bone meal, and so forth), while Leiche is used to refer to human remains.
  • Played for Laughs by McDonald's restaurants. Today, the tray liners display nutritional information. In the late 1980s, they had a picture of happy-looking employees with the caption, "People, our most important ingredient."
  • A 14-year-old British girl named Charlene Downes was alleged to have been raped and murdered by 29-year-old Iyad Albattikhi, owner of Funny Boyz fast food shop in Blackpool, UK. To hide his crime, Iyad was alleged to having ground her body into kebab and sold her as kebab meat to customers in his restaurant. Basically, if true, this would be a Real Life version of Sweeney Todd.
  • Human fat has been used to power an eco-boat - the fat was provided by the skipper himself and two volunteers, all of whom underwent liposuction. Similarly, a surgeon was once accused of illegally using liposuction patients' fat to fuel his car.
  • Urine:
    • If you boil human urine, you can condense the vapor back into liquid. The liquid is just water. This is also how NASA keeps the astronauts hydrated in the ISS, as water is expensive and heavy to ship up to orbit.
    • Extracting the phosphorus from urine is now seriously considered, both because mineral stocks are limited and because the sheer amount of phosphorus we currently use is causing algae blooms in watersheds. This is less novel than you might think: urine was used as a source of phosphorus and nitrate in the production of gunpowder for centuries.
    • The Roman Empire collected urine in vats and sold it to industries like launderers (who used the ammonia in urine to clean and whiten woolen togas) and tanners. Nero was the first to implement a tax on urine, a policy which the later emperor Vespasian famously reinstituted, giving rise to the proverb "Money does not stink" (Pecunia non olet in the original Latin). To this day, urinals — especially public ones — are known by words derived from Vespasian's name in languages like French (vespasienne) and Italian (vespasiano).
  • Mummy brown is an old pigment used in paintings consisting of white pitch, myrrh, and ground-up Egyptian mummies. The pigment fell out of favor in the 19th century when it became clear (1) that it deteriorated variably over time and (2) that it was made from human remains.
    • Other uses for mummies have (allegedly) included using the wrapping to make rag paper and burning them as fuel for trains during the Egyptian rail expansion. Both of these are to be taken with quite a large grain of salt.
  • L-cysteine is a semi-essential amino acid, meaning that while humans can produce it with the right nutrients, there can be times when production falters and a dietary intake is necessary. The biggest source of dietary cysteine is derived from hair.
  • Speaking of hair, many wigs are made from human hair (the other options being animal hair and synthetic fibres). One odd example of this occurred when Karen Gillan played the bald alien Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy, shaved her head for the role, then wore a wig made from her cut hair in a few other roles while her new hair was still growing back in.
  • Some central and eastern African countries like Tanzania and Malawi, which have the world's highest albinism rates outside of a few Native American communities and South Pacific islands, have a problem with witch doctors using albino body parts in folk rituals. In the twenty-first century alone, these superstitions have led to over two hundred deaths, including children.
  • Archaeologists found a piece of a human skull from the eighth century in Denmark. It had a hole that seemed to suggest a trepanation. Then they realised the hole had been drilled long after the person died. The runic incantations to Odin and other deities led to only one conclusion: Some guy had dug up a skull, hacked off a piece, carved runes and drilled a hole in it...and then worn it around his throat as an amulet.
  • More widespread traditions have also gotten in on the fun of attributing miraculous properties to body parts. For example, Christian denominations like the Catholic and Orthodox churches venerate the remains of many saints as holy relics. This has led to amusing situations with multiple churches each purporting to have the real one, as has happened with John the Baptist's skull.
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant released a fatwa sanctioning the removal of organs from captive prisoners of war, as they believe "the infidels' lives don't have to be respected and their organs may be taken with impunity". It has been confirmed at least that Yazidi women in addition to having to be forced into sex slavery, also had to donate their blood to wounded ISIL members.
    • Likewise the Chinese Communist Party also harvest organs from Prisoners of Conscience, Falun Gong, and the Uyghurs using them to give it to tourists or wealthy individuals demanding organ transplant. In fact, out of all the countries, mainland China has the largest amount of organs in storage for harvesting live victims alone.
  • AstroCrete, a.k.a. blood concrete, a substance made of a protein in blood; a compound in sweat, tears, or urine; and either Martian or Lunar dust. It can theoretically be used to make bricks for dwellings on Mars or the Moon.
  • Before the 1980s-1990s, human growth hormone was extracted from the pituitary glands of corpses, usually those from autopsies. This stopped after some patients on growth hormone therapy started getting Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and a new method of producing HGH through recombinant bacteria was developed.
  • Mary Roach's Stiff examines the various fates awaiting actual human remains, including dissection, vehicular crash-testing, being plastinated as a permanent anatomical display, or getting processed into cement for an artificial reef and/or fertilizer to sustain a memorial tree.
  • The "resurrection men" were grave robbers who sold bodies to anatomy teachers in 19th century Edinburgh, Scotland. Increasingly sophisticated means were developed to keep bodies from being stolen.
  • In 1828, William Burke and William Hare sold dead bodies to a Dr. Knox for dissection in his anatomy classes. Although the doctor probably suspected that they were "resurrection men", they were actually murdering people to sell their bodies. They were eventually caught and Hare turned on Burke and was granted immunity. Burke was convicted and hanged. His body, like other executed felons, was provided to anatomy classes.
  • Certain cosmetic products, such as "Skin Medica" cream and "Vavelta" injections are made using skin harvested from the genitals of children.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Made Out Of People, Made Of People


The Truth Of The Matrix

Following an apocalyptic war between humanity and machines, the human race have been repurposed as batteries for the machines who now rule Earth. While their minds are kept docile by being plugged into the illusory world of the Matrix, the human captives are intravenously sustained through the other major resource of the future - the liquefied corpses of fellow humans.

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