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"How many years must I take from you before you tell us what I wish to know? Or shall I take them all?"
Wraith Queen, Stargate Atlantis
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This character maintains immortality by consuming some vital force from their victims. This is often Life Energy, but can also be their souls, or youth or blood. If such an immortal doesn't feed, they will eventually die.

There is often some sort of conservation of lifespan where the victim's life is added to the immortal's and the victim dies so that the immortal can continue to keep living. This form of immortality usually grants eternal youth and the feeding process may cause the victim to grow older because the victim's youth is being drained into the immortal. Sometimes, it might extend the drinker's lifespan on a 1-to-1 ratio for the number of years stolen from the victim, but oftentimes it's quite inefficient and draining a victim who could potentially have another thirty or forty years of life only provides an extension of months or even weeks. No Immortal Inertia is often the result when this type of immortal is destroyed. May overlap with Vain Sorceress if it's used to restore their beauty as well.

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Although this type of immortality could be described as vampiric (and indeed it overlaps with Vampiric Draining), only sometimes does it apply to actual vampires. Vampires usually won't die from a lack of blood - at most they will become weaker and suffer from Horror Hunger. May overlap with Blood Magic (especially Blood Baths) and Liquid Assets. Might also involve an Artifact of Doom or Evil Weapon.

Subtrope of Soul Eating and Immortality (and also Immortality Immorality). Contrast The Ageless, in which the immortal doesn't age to begin with and doesn't have to bother with taking others' lifeforce, but can usually still be killed conventionally.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Shinigami in Death Note. When a Shinigami kills a human, that human's remaining lifespan is added to the Shinigami's. Shinigamis who don't kill regularly will die. (Note "regularly" could be as little as five humans a century, if each human has at least twenty years left on the clock. The Shinigami have gotten so lazy that even that is too much effort for some of them to bother with.)
  • Kurobara Alice: Vampires can drink each other's blood to extend their lifespan, but it will shorten the blood-source's life by the same amount. Becomes a vehicle for some serious Angst when a sympathetic character is revealed to be short-on-time.
  • In Zettai Karen Children, both Fujiko and Kyousuke have bodies of healthy adolescents while they are actually in their 80s. Fujiko accomplishes this by energy-drinking kissing (it's implied that she doesn't do any long-term damage to her "victims"), while Kyousuke (who is, paradoxically, at least initially perceived as the Big Bad of the series) explicitly says that he detests doing something like this, so he accomplishes this in some other ways (probably biochemically).

    Comic Books 
DC
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1 #222 had a theme park mogul named Wade Dazzle who was being kept alive by life force drained from visitors to his theme park and fed into his preserved body.
  • Robin: After being forced to host a demonic entity Johhny Warren, who was already an unrepentant mob hitman, gained flight, healing and other abilities that were powered by his draining the life out of nearby humans.
  • Superboy (1994): The Mo'o has to constantly drain people of their life force to stay alive, when Kon grabs her away from potential victims she ends up quickly Reduced to Dust despite having drained a man within the hour.

Marvel

  • Morlun from Spider-Man belongs to a clan called the Inheritors that maintain immortality by draining life energy from people, especially people who are animalistic totems.
  • Zarda, aka Power Princess, from Marvel's Supreme Power comic is able to do this via an energy blast from her eyes. She does this to restore her youth after sleeping for thousands of years.
  • X-Men villainess Selene, the Black Queen, who provides the page image. A millennia-old mutant who can drain the life out of others to keep herself young. As an added bonus, said lifeforce also fuels her sorcerous powers.

Other

  • In Magic: The Gathering (IDW), the villain Sifa Grent drains the life from her victims in order to maintain her youth and beauty.
  • Heavily implied to be done by Mysterius himself in Mysterius The Unfathomable. They try to justify it by saying they only take a little at a time. Delfy is not amused.

    Fanfic 
  • In Doctor Who fanfic "The Worm from Space" the Worm Kings can heal themselves by consuming other life forms. The title villain, King Wurzin, was wounded by time travel and so needs to keep eating people.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The witches, a.k.a. the Sanderson sisters, from Hocus Pocus. They lure children to them, give them a spelled potion, then suck the life out of them until they're dead (not just prematurely aged, like with Ravenna) in order to stay alive and not continue to age.
  • The Space Vampires in the movie Lifeforce.
  • Speculated as the cause of immortality in The Man from Earth. Instead of taking all the life from any one person though, they suggest he takes ambient life force from everybody around him. Unknown if this is true though.
  • The Fountain of Youth in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides restored a person's life this way.
  • Queen Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman drains the Life Energy of unfortunate women to restore her magic and youth.
  • The three witches of Stardust retain their youth and immortality by devouring the hearts of stars, who appear as golden-haired women. It seems that this ability is not unique to witches, but anyone who has the heart of a star. The protagonist of the film lives forever because the star in question falls in love with him. Thus he "possesses the heart of a star, and lives forever. The close of the film sees him and his star wife teleport off to the heavens to live eternity as two bright stars.
  • Fright Night 2: New Blood: Gerri/Bathory needs blood to restore her youthful appearance or she'll rapidly wither away into an old hag.
  • Howling II: Stirba: Werewolf Bitch: Stirba's rejuvenating technique requires a young victim, from whom Stirba magically steals her youth.
  • Mythica: Necromancers gain power this way, along with raising the dead.

    Literature 
  • The villain, Carmody Braque, in The Changeover. The main character defeats him by turning his own nature against him.
  • In Tanith Lee's Death's Master, there's a wizard who takes on an apprentice and charges only one fee for his lessons: he gets to bugger the kid every night. When the apprentice finally quits, the wizard reveals that the sex was draining off years of his life (which were transferred to the wizard); and that to add insult to injury, for the few years left of the boy's life, he will act more like the lustful old wizard himself.
  • The villainous cult in Dinner at Deviant's Palace turns out to have been set up so that its leader can siphon off the life energy of his followers.
  • The Dresden Files: The White Court Vampires are this; they absorb life energy through lust, fear, or despair.
  • Elric will use his sword Stormbringer to drink the souls/lifeforce of the beings he attacks.
  • Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone stays alive by drinking unicorn blood.
  • Journey to Chaos: Necrocraft empowers someone to drain the Life Energy of others. However, this power comes from Lord Death, the head Grim Reaper, and he doesn't like being cheated. So the stolen energy can only make the user more powerful. In fact, since necocraft is Cast from Lifespan, the user will instead die sooner then they would have otherwise. The monkey beastfolk, Caffour, finds this out in Looming Shadow. He drains many the citizens of Deimos to make himself more powerful and before the day is over he's looking like a sickly corpse.
  • Medusa's Web features a form of Geometric Magic that mostly involves creating connections between two people to produce one of a variety of effects. One of the less savory effects is to connect to somebody younger and/or healthy and steal some of the their youth and heath.
  • The twins Jonah and Norah Grayer in David Mitchell's Slade House keep themselves alive by absorbing the souls of telepaths.
  • In This Is Not A Werewolf Story, Tuffman has lived for centuries by eating other shapeshifers.
  • The Kurians of The Vampire Earth drink life force through their vampiric avatars, who live off the blood of the victims.
  • The Returned from Warbreaker are a variation: they require one Breath per week to survive, but due to a quirk of the magic system, Breath a) can be detached from a person as easily as a change of clothes, with no ill effects beyond an increased vulnerability to mental and biological illness (and a cosmetic loss of color) and b) must be given voluntarily.
  • The Lord of Dark in The Sword of Good keeps a Wormarium, full of worms that he drains Liquid Assets from to artificially extend his life. This is seen as a sign of great evil. A claim which is nothing but blatant hypocrisy coming from a realm full of people who eat meat (whether this was merely a rhetorical point or the Lord of Dark is actually vegetarian is never clarified). Even eating plants is also taking life as well.
  • Villains by Necessity: The willowisps, who drain life energy from people as sustenance. It's also possible for them to transfer it into someone else, healing wounds or rejuvenating them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel did it in the tie-in short story collection "The Longest Night". A man was killing people by using a demon's help to steal their youth, because he was desperate to see his son grow up. He tries it on Wesley, and when Angel gets there, it's the boy who's growing older while Wes becomes an old man, at least until Angel manages to break the spell.
  • Ampata, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "Inca Mummy Girl". She was an Andean mummy who sucked living humans' life forces dry to stay alive herself.
  • Javna, a demon from Charmed. He needed to regularly steal the youth of his victims, aging them into old people, in order to retain his youthful form. If he doesn't, he ages rapidly.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Talons of Weng-Chiang": Magnus Greel attempted to stay alive by draining the life essence out of young women. Leela only just avoided suffering this fate.
    • "The Lazarus Experiment": Richard Lazarus turns himself into a gigantic monster who drains people's life force to survive.
  • Variant in Highlander: The Series. Immortals will remain youthful without any life-sucking, but if they behead another immortal they absorb their knowledge and skill. Since in the end There Can Be Only One, the ones who don't resort to killing tend to fall to the ones who do.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "The Youth Killer". Helen of Troy has survived to the present day by sacrificing perfect human victims to the goddess Hecate. The sacrifice is made by magically causing Rapid Aging in the victims, which in turn gives Helen eternal youth.
  • The Wraith from Stargate Atlantis, who feed on something from their victims that causes them to age rapidly. It's implied to be life force, but never actually spelled out.
    • "Todd", for instance, has been going about it for at least 10,000 years when the Atlantis team first meets him. Even accounting for hibernation periods, he's probably fed on hundreds or thousands of people by that point.
    • The fact that the Wraith can only feed on humans and other Wraith has forced most of them to go into decades-long periods of hibernation while the humans in their galaxy repopulate between cullings. They're desperate to get to our galaxy (and Earth in particular) once they learn how many people live there.
    • Later in the series, it's revealed that Wraith can actually give back life energy, which they refer to as "the gift of life". It's described as being an addictive sensation, and the Wraith can use it to convert humans into Wraith-worshipers.
  • Supernatural:
    • In "Something Wicked", an immortal creature called a shtriga drains the life force from people, mostly children.
    • In "The Curious Case Of Dean Winchester", a 900-year-old Irish witch uses an enchanted card game to "win years" from his opponents, and used them to extend his own life and that of his wife, who had become tired of living forever and wanted to die after outliving her own daughter.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • One episode featured a man who found that he could obtain abstract or otherwise normally non-transferable attributes from other people by simply making the deal with them. Among other attributes, he restored his youth by "buying" it from younger men who thought him to be a kook giving them money for nothing. He only took a year from each man, but was able to become young again. Incidentally, he was only an old man because he had previously sold his own youth to an elderly millionaire (he came out financially ahead after the exchanges were complete).
    • "Queen of the Nile". A woman uses a scarab beetle to drain the life force of men so she can maintain her eternal youth. It's implied that she's the actual Cleopatra of Egypt.
  • The Arrowverse version of Vandal Savage retains his immortality by periodically killing and absorbing the life force of Hawkman (originally Prince Khufu) and Hawkgirl (originally Priestess Chay-Ara), while those two periodically reincarnate, although they typically have to regain their original memories before Savage can kill them. Savage has also learned that feeding the blood of one of the "hawks" to his followers grants them an extra 100 years of life, which is how he maintains their loyalty.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: The centuries-old Alder keeps herself physically young through draining the youth from “biddies”; these witches consider their sacrifice to be a great honor.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Our Selena is Dying", the elderly Selena Brockman grabs her niece Debra's hand tightly when she comes to visit her on what is ostensibly her deathbed. The next morning, a mark appears where Selena touched Debra. Dr. Burrell tells her that it is a liver spot, which is highly unusual in someone her age. Shortly afterwards, he is shocked to discover that Selena has gained a new lease on life. Dr. Burrell receives a call that night from Debra, who has rapidly aged in the hours since he last saw her. She now appears to be in her 70s. From an old diary supplied by the handyman Orville, Burrell learns that Martha burned her arm in 1940 in the same place as her daughter Diane has a prominent burn scar. He then determines that Selena drained Debra's Life Energy and that Martha did the same thing to Diane and then assumed her identity. Selena tells him that it is the way of their family for the older generation, when nearing death, to drain the energy of the younger one. After Selena is killed in the fire accidentally started by Diane, Debra's youth is restored.

    Other 
  • When Mega Man 9 came out, Capcom put out a press release that claimed it was so difficult because Inafune-san, its designer, keeps himself perpetually youthful by drinking the crushed spirits of frustrated gamers.
  • In The Dark Crystal (an animatronic-based fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, with puppets designed by Brian Froud), the Always Chaotic Evil Skeksis extend their lifespans this way. Apparently Gelflings provide the best nourishment, but the Skeksis hunted them nearly to extinction and have to make do with Podlings even though those don't sustain their youth for very long.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, there is a prestige class that lets you do this in the book Faiths of Eberron.
    • City of Splendors: Waterdeep has a spell which does this — as well as several examples of characters who prolonged their lives with it. While the spell is inherently evil, going around murdering hapless peasants with it wouldn't work — to actually prolong your life noticeably it has to be used against people who aren't too much weaker than you (consequently one of the examples is a neutral character who spends much of their time hunting down evil monsters and murderers and using the spell on them).
  • The New World of Darkness supplement Immortals details a number of types of people who have managed to overcome the limitations of age — generally through this trope.
  • In the fan-made New World of Darkness game Genius: The Transgression, all "manes" (creatures created in realities produced by the excess mental energy of dis-proven theories), orphans (Mad Scientist inventions that have broken loose and gone mad), and any Genius who takes it have the "Calculus Vampire" merit which allows them to drain Mania (essentially mad science/brainpower as a sort of energy), which the first two groups must feed on.
  • In Pathfinder, the witch Baba Yaga set up Irrisen, the kingdom of Endless Winter, on Golarion to found a royal dynasty of her female descendants. She did this because she sucks the life from those descendants to keep herself immortal, returning to Golarion once a century for this purpose. The adventure path "Reign of Winter" is what happens when one of these daughters decides she'd rather overthrow Baba Yaga instead.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Tau Commander Farsight's magical sword the Dawn Blade claims the years its victims would have had if it hadn't cut them down and gives them to its wielder. No one in-universe, not even its current owner, knows this for certain. He has his suspicions, though, since he's lived far longer than the average projected lifespan of his race.
  • In Beast: The Primordial, some Heroes develop this ability either by chance or as a result of being especially successful in their careers, perpetuating their own lifespan each time they kill a Beast.

    Video Games 
  • Reaver of Fable II, who keeps his youth through the centuries by sacrificing the youth of innocents to the Shadow Court.
  • The Broken Lords of Endless Legend, having bound their souls to suits of armor to survive Auriga's collapsing climate, must sustain their bodies by consuming Dust, an almost magical substance. Unfortunately, Dust is very difficult to create under normal circumstances, but the Broken Lords discovered that they can drain Dust from sentient beings, which is fatal. Being a society of honorable knights forced to kill in order to survive has caused a significant schism within the leadership; those that wish to cure their dependence on dust one way or another, and those that wish to consume the weak.
  • Metroids do this, using their claw/fangs to latch onto a creature and suck the life out of it, leaving behind a withered husk that crumbles into dust at the slightest touch. This is also implied to be the reason that most weapons do not affect them: they channel absorbed energy into a natural forcefield that defends against attacks. It is not made clear whether or not a Metroid ever dies of old age.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has Grubba, a wrestling manager who is pushing past 60 years old, but has a body of someone in their 20s and no one really questions it beyond "Huh, I wonder how he manages to look so young despite being so old?" Mario finds out that Grubba was using a machine powered by a Crystal Star to suck out the life force of fighters in their prime so that he use said life force to keep his body in top condition without age getting in the way.
  • Cervantes from the Soul Calibur games maintains his immortality by killing people and feeding their souls to his own Soul Edge. If the life force runs out, he turns into a charred corpse.

    Webcomics 
  • In Daniel, Daniel Groth is a vampire that claims to drink blood not to satisfy hunger, but to "feel life".
  • The monster in France from El Goonish Shive was a former human who achieved immortality by draining the lives of young women.

     Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-545 is a recipe that can bottle someone's life essence and make the drinker effectively immortal (but not immortally young).
    • SCP-776 is a ritual that can make the practitioners de-age almost 40 years, although lately there's been some weird side-effects like birth defects ("too many eyes and not enough skin") and...:
      Dr. █████: What was it that your daughter said?
      276 (776 practitioner): …She said, "Papa, why did you do that to me? Why did you [DATA EXPUNGED]. I…I didn't even notice how much she looked like my fourth daughter up until that moment…

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon: Jake Long episode "Young at Heart" features a magical creature called the Avemetrus that feeds on the youth of others to keep itself alive.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! has Baron Von Strucker of Hydra use the Satan Claw for this. However if the process is disrupted or the claw is destroyed soon after the process the victim has their Life Energy restored. It serves as a literal Red Right Hand until Hawkeye destroys it.
  • Penelope Spectra from Danny Phantom keeps her youthful appearance by feeding on the misery of others.
  • In Gargoyles, Demona once exploited Xanatos' desire for eternal life by claiming to be this. Specifically, she said that a spell would take a few minutes of life from whomever heard it, and offered to share this secret with him in exchange for him broadcasting the spell on live television to all of Manhattan. This turns out to be a lie, however—the spell actually turns almost everyone in the city to stone during the night, while her immortality comes from a deal with The Fair Folk.
  • Justice League had an episode featuring Morgan Le Fay surviving this way.
  • In the Animated Adaptation of The Mask, we have Skillit, who is, as he puts it, "Over 4,000 years old, but doesn't look a day over twelve". This is because he steals the shadows (and by extension, the youth) of his victims, which causes them to age at an accelerated rate. Thankfully, if the shadows are returned, the victims return to normal. And when Skillit loses his powers (which are rooted in his own shadow), instead of dying or rapidly aging himself, he is instead Brought Down to Normal, which means he will age normally, as well. But to him, that is a Fate Worse than Death.
  • In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, the true villains of the story are this. Simone and Lena were the only survivors of a group of settlers who worshipped a cat-god, the rest being slaughtered by the pirate Captain Moonscar. They prayed to the cat-god for the power to take revenge, and it was granted in the form of the ability to transform into werecats and immortality, but only if they drain the life force of living people every harvest moon. By the time Mystery, Inc. arrives at Moonscar Island, the bayou is littered with hundreds of undead corpses who have fallen victim to Simone and Lena. In the climax, the gang nearly suffers this fate - and Scooby and Shaggy actually start to get their life drained from them and begin to die on-screen.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Lorelei Signal". The women of the planet Taurus II drain the Life Energy of men to maintain their own youth, which causes Rapid Aging in the men.
  • In a Totally Spies! episode, the big bad is using some kind of magic stone to absorb youth from kids, resulting in this trope. As soon as aforementioned magic stone is destroyed, No Immortal Inertia is triggered.
  • In Yin Yang Yo!, Kraggler gains the power to absorb youth by touch after a battle with Yin and Yang. When the youth wears off, instead of dying, he simply reverts back to an old man.


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