Perhaps I'll lobotomize you and keep you as pet!
That would be amusing!
Don't you think?"
At some point in life, everyone has had a doll — pardon, "action figure" — collection in their possession that they admired and played with, creating fanciful stories and battles, pretending to be someone else. A mother, a father, a doctor, a general... God.
Even after growing up takes that delight away, many adults still enjoy keeping or adding to such a collection as a kitschy hobby. However, there are some adults who had a less than ideal childhood, breaking their minds to such an extent that only a fantasy where they have complete control can make sense. And dolls? They just don't cut it anymore.
Enter the Living Doll Collector. They will collect people, dead or alive, as if they were dolls and use them in macabre mimicry of their maddened imagination. There are a lot of variations here; the people may be kidnapped strangers, crushes, or family, and are dressed up and forced to act out roles in an inescapable "Dream House". If they resist or the collector doesn't have the means to control or imprison them, well, corpses complain a lot less. Embalming optional.
If the collector has actual supernatural powers, this gets a lot creepier.
If they can make People Puppets, then the still conscious puppets will be forced to do things against their will. Someone with powerful enough Hypnotic Eyes or Mind Control techniques can eventually program people to be anything from empty automatons to actually believing they're the collector's long lost dead little sister. A Necromancer might dress up their zombies as maids and butlers, and even lovingly comb their (remaining) hair, preferring their company to that of the living. The Hive Queen may do this to her drones.
It's also possible the collector was a completely normal person once upon a time, and has simply fallen to the Power Perversion Potential of their abilities by treating people less like people and more like, well, dolls. For a deranged enough collector, Interrogation by Vandalism usually works when applied to the dolls, though it may backfire if said dolls are capable of self defense. They may be trying to enforce some kind of inner illusion or fantasy, in which case pointing it out to be fake (and dispelling the control over the dolls) can break them out of it and either make them see reason, possibly even releasing the dolls... or get really angry.
It's worth mentioning that sometimes the living doll turns out to not be quite so under their control after all and is basically playing along, maybe because they like the game, or in order to stage an escape.
See also Showing Off the New Body and Necromantic. Contrast Puppeteer Parasite, who are parasites that possess people. See also Demonic Possession, Wax Museum Morgue. Expect to see this often in the Psychopathic Manchild.
- Black Butler:
- Drocell from the anime version is one. He turns human girls into dolls, killing them in the process, and then controls their actions as metal dolls through music. Ash/Angela possibly qualifies as well, since Drocell was a living doll himself that s/he created, and he only acted on his/her orders.
- Also, in the manga, Undertaker who creates the Bizarre Dolls with human corpses.
- Piedmon does a variation in Digimon Adventure by turning people into keychains...but using them like puppets anyway. Sora put it best: "What kind of sicko turns people into keychains?"
- Digimon Ghost Game:
- Episode 30: Kayono a young girl who was manipulated by her Digimon "partners" WaruMonzaemon and ExTyrannomon into allowing ExTyrannomon to turn everyone they came across into dolls with his Black Matter attack, including Kayono's parents. The three rampage across Tokyo, inflicting this on dozens of people before WaruMonzaemon's Good Counterpart Monzaemon talks them down.
- Episode 41: Piemon does another variation, this time turning people into playing cards instead of keychains. He mainly targets human children for this, but according to his underlings he did similar things even back in the Digital World. Uniquely and surprisingly, Hiro and Ruli could defuse this non-violently by beating him in a game of trump (and they had to since he appears around the same time where most hostile Digimon are Perfects at most), and he gladly turns all his victims back and ceases his actions per his bargain with Ruli.
- Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) has a character who kidnaps young women and attaches their souls to dolls he made to look like his disappeared girlfriend. Made all the creepier when the girlfriend returns years later and he rejects her for the lifeless doll.
- Godchild has Rebecca, a crippled girl who's been turning people she "loves" into dolls. She has two methods: place a victim's hair, teeth, and bones into a doll that looks just like them so their soul gets trapped inside their "human-shaped coffin," or drug her victim into a vegetative state so they'll become a "living doll" that she can dress up however she pleases while her equally-insane housekeeper takes care of their physical needs.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- Telence T. D'Arby from Stardust Crusaders had this hobby.◊ His Stand power allowed him to capture the souls of his opponents by defeating them in a video game match. And unlike his brother Daniel, who kept the souls in a dormant state as poker chips, Telence's dolls were aware of everything going on, but unable to do anything.
- Gwess in Stone Ocean had the ability to shrink people with her Stand Goo Goo Dolls and dressed them up in dead animal skins to keep as pets, treating her victims like a girl playing with stuffed animals and having them do cutesy animal sounds.
- Sasori of the Red Sand turns humans including himself into his ninja puppets, which have the same abilities they had in life. He can use up to 100 at a time; he has more.
- And then we have Kankuro, whose ninja puppets were also made by Sasori years ago. And he ends up collecting Sasori himself later.
- Though to be fair to Chiyo and Kankuro, they only use people-puppets when they were created by Sasori, rather than collecting them themselves. And Chiyo went out of her way to create a technique to bring people back to life to fix her family if she could get Sasori back from playing omnicidal maniac. Both of them seem disgusted at the idea of actually killing people specifically to make puppets themselves.
- Sabrina in Pokémon: The Original Series literally did this to other people, turning them into small dolls with her own Psychic Powers.
- Kirakishou from Rozen Maiden is a strange case... a living doll that collects humans like they were dolls.
- In Slayers Next this happens in the legendary haunted tower. The culprit almost collects Lina and her group, as whoever loses their challenges is transformed into a doll.
- More than one Shinma from Vampire Princess Miyu is like this.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Ryou Bakura is an unwilling one of these, as his Superpowered Evil Side has a nasty habit of trapping his friend's souls in cute little figurines.
- The Mad Hatter sometimes kidnaps blonde girls and uses his mind control technology to force them to play at being Alice.
- Lazlo Valentin, better known as Professor Pyg, turns people into androgynous, masked, puppet-like servants named Dollotrons. The process of creating Dollotrons is implied to involve brain surgery, genital mutilation, and mind-altering drugs.
- Marvel Universe:
- Daredevil: The Purple Man uses pheromones to make other people do his every bidding.
- Fantastic Four: The Puppet Master uses radioactive (later revealed to be magical) clay to control people like puppets through their likeness.
- Iron Man: The Controller does this with cybernetics. The more people he controls, the more powerful he becomes.
- "Misty" by James McQuade (somewhat NSFW). The guy there collects superheroines (Vampirella is most easily spotted).
- Scott Pilgrim: The seventh and final Evil Ex, Gideon Gordon Graves, is revealed to have put his six ex-girlfriends into suspended animation. He plans to do the very same thing to Ramona.
- One Cobweb story in an issue of Tomorrow Stories features a Mad Scientist who uses a Shrink Ray to turn women into literal 'living dolls'.
- In Above Rubies a dark wizard gives love potion to people, kidnaps the resulting "couples" and arranges them in various poses, then casts a stasis charm on them.
- In Hiccup the Useless, the reason why Stoick tried to paint Snotlout as the Hero of Berk instead of Hiccup was because Mogadon has a reputation for "collecting" things of his interest and he was worried that he would try to capture and enslave Hiccup, setting up Snotlout as a decoy.
- The Hellion of The Land of What Might-Have-Been spends her days kidnapping people from across the world and dragging her back to her lair, where they are magically remade into dolls - completely destroying their personalities in the process. Almost as childlike as the Hellion herself, the dolls are slavishly devoted to their "mother" and obey her without question - serving as both her playthings and her army. And now the Hellion wants Dorothy Gale as her newest doll...
- In American Gothic (1988), what the daughter of a family calls her "big dollies" are actually the corpses of people her parents have murdered.
- In Attack of the Puppet People, a Mad Scientist turns people action-figure-sized and stores them, taking them out once in a while in order to make them "play" for his amusement.
- In The Cell, a Serial Killer abducts women, drowns them, bleaches their corpses and then masturbates whilst hanging himself above them by chains attached to rings in his back before dumping them out by the highway.
- Naturally, The Collector, a 1965 film in which Terence Stamp is a butterfly collector who decides to kidnap and keep Samantha Eggar as well. See Literature for the original book.
- Dead Silence features a lot of Creepy Dolls, but the main antagonist's goal is to create a collection of life-like dolls made from people. One of the main characters in the film turns out to have been a doll all along. It's also implied that the souls of the victims become trapped in their doll-modified bodies.
- The villain of The Devil-Doll abducts people and shrinks them down into literal living dolls: action-figure-sized mini-assassins propelled by the force of his own will. Not nearly as squicky as most examples, although he does sometimes treat the "dolls" with the affection due an obedient pet.
- The Fat Man's modus operandi in Ghostland is to 'play' with his victims, who are dressed up as dolls.
- In the 1971 movie Hoffmann, Peter Sellers plays a rather more subtle and psychologically creepy version of the Terence Stamp character in The Collector. Sellers' character uses mind-games and psychological control to bend younger women to his will, forcing a young Sinead Cusack to strip for him and go to bed with him.
- Kenneth from Love Object abducts a woman and tries to "transform" her (via a makeover and an attempted infusion of embalming fluid) into a replicate of the sex doll he ordered and grew obsessed with. The woman escapes before he can complete the process and knocks Kenneth unconscious, but she's gunned down by the police (who believe that she's murdered him) and he gets off scot-free. Worse, the ending implies that he will try to do this to another woman.
- In The Miracle Worker, Anne Sullivan describes her own time in the orphan asylum/poor house growing up as a child. She and her brother lived in the room where the babies of prostitutes were kept until they died (of the STDs which they contracted from their mothers) and were kept there until burial. She and her brother would play with them. It's unclear from the script if they stopped playing with them after they were dead. The real Anne Sullivan owned several beautiful dolls and continued to dress and play with them long after she began working with Helen Keller. Some biographers think that she saw Helen as a sort of living doll, since she could communicate with her and guide and direct her character.
- Shrike from Mortal Engines is a more sympathetic version, an undead Super-Soldier who collects dolls because he still has vague memories of having had a child once. For this reason, he acts as a Parental Substitute for an eight-year-old Hester after her mother is murdered. Because Hester is a Broken Bird, he offers to heal her pain by killing her and resurrecting her as a cyborg like himself. Hester actually agrees, but when an opportunity for revenge on the man who killed her mother arises, she flees instead. Shrike does not take this well and pursues her, determined to make her stick to their agreement.
- Tourist Trap features a telekinetic killer who transforms his victims into mannequins which he can control with his powers.
- The John Fowles novel The Collector is about an unsocialised loner nerd who wins the big one on the football pools. He promptly quits his job, buys a house and kits out a dungeon. And then he goes after the beautiful woman he has been stalking, who didn't even know him, drugs her, takes her home, and makes her his "guest". But she is a prisoner for life. Knowing this she withers and dies. He disposes of her body, and the book ends on our "hero" stalking the next potential occupant of the dungeon... See Film above for the movie of the book.
- Coraline: The Other Mother, aka Beldam, is revealed to keep children she's lured into her Otherworld as living dolls, sewing buttons onto their eyes and eating them up inside, leaving them as nothing but ghosts. Creepy. Every creature in the Other world could count as this, as they were all created and commanded by the Other Mother.
- The Enemy. The third book in the series features a sicko known as the Collector who, in addition to compulsively filling his house with junk, abducts children and "plays" with them until he kills them, at which point he goes out to find more. It takes the combined effort of DogNut's group (who have just lost Olivia to the Collector) and the kids from the Natural History Museum to bring him down.
- The ship (and its resident AI) Sleeper Service in Iain M. Banks's Excession contains huge recreations of battle scenes, with every soldier represented by a living being held in some sort of stasis field. In a subversion, they are all volunteers happy to be part of such a work of art.
- Madame Mandilip from Burn Witch Burn by Abraham Merritt is an evil witch that turns people into dolls who then uses them as animated assassins.
- Mercy Thompson features the doll collector who appears in the novel Dead Heat. Doll Collector is an ancient fae which preys on children. Her MO is to kidnap them and dress them up as dolls, keeping them alive but in magically induced stasis as a living collection as she deems fit. She than feeds of their life energy which eventually kills them after a year and a day and then than adds them to a growing collection of rotting corpses.
- In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, this is Graendal's hobby. She finds noble and/or handsome persons, enslave them using an extremely powerful mind control magic, and make them serve her, often in a humiliating and depraved way.
- In B.J. and the Bear, one of the lady truckers winds up in the dollhouse of a rock star (Paul Williams) who collects beautiful blondes in a set of rooms without doors. He dresses them up and "plays" with them in predictable ways.
- Robert Englund appeared in an episode of Charmed as a man who turned women into figurines.
- Criminal Minds:
- In the episode "Cold Comfort", the UnSub kidnaps women and embalms them alive, keeping them for several months until they decay too much, at which point he finds a replacement and the cycle continues. It is later revealed that his nanny/au pair (who basically raised him) died while his parents were away, and he was left alone with the body for several days; he was found curled up with her corpse. His victims are given make-overs to more closely resemble his nanny, even to the extent of being dressed in the outfit she was buried in.
- The UnSub in the episode "The Uncanny Valley" is doing this: kidnapping women, drugging them, dressing them in very specific homemade dresses, and posing them. The UnSub is a Psychopathic Womanchild who was raped and given ECT by her pedophilic psychiatrist father and is kidnapping the women to recreate the only doll playset she'd ever owned, which said father had taken from her and given to his next unfortunate victim after his daughter got too old for him.
- In "The Lesson", the UnSub is an old man who kidnaps people to make them into living puppets — living marionette puppets.
- In Dollhouse, Terry Karrens is a serial killer who "collects" realistic-looking dolls and names them. The creepiness goes up several notches when one of them slumps over, because the drugs that he'd used to paralyze her were starting to wear off.
- The first killer in the second season of Hannibal abducts people along with their cars and injects them with silicone so that their shape will hold. As an imprisoned Will tells Beverly, the victims make up a color palette.
- In the Hart to Hart episode "Harts Under Glass" a deranged art fancier who wants Jennifer for his collection traps her and Jonathan in a glass case.
- One episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit involves a pedophile with obvious mommy issues who does this, dressing little girls up (before doing "stuff" with them) to look like the dolls in his mother's extensive collection.
- In the Night Gallery episode "A Death in the Family", an undertaker preserves dead bodies and treats them as his "family".
- The killer in the Rizzoli & Isles episode "Welcome to the Dollhouse" kidnaps his victims, murders them, dresses them as dolls from the 1980s and leaves them posed at bus stops.
- In "Yo! Super Force" an episode of Super Force. A deranged man who kidnapped women, put them in suspended animation, and arranged them on display stands in a private museum. The women were kidnapped from a carnival so the deranged man could cope with the death of his wife.
- An episode of The Twilight Zone (2002) featured a little girl who turned all her babysitters into Barbie dolls because she was lonely and didn't want them to ever leave.
- The end of "Azoth the Avenger is a Friend of Mine", also from the 2002 TZ revival, sees Craig transforming his abusive father into an action figure with a magic spell.
- The Alice's Night Circus song Penny Dreadful is about a man called Mr. Strange who abducts a woman and uses sewing and button eyes to turn her into a "puppet bride" companion. By the end of the song, he has begun to see the flaws in his work, but is certain his next project will turn out better...
- In Vampire: The Requiem and Vampire: The Masquerade, this is very, very explicitly laid out to be one of the big dehumanizing aspects of the vampiric discipline Dominate. One bloodline in Requiem, the Melissidae, are themed on wasps and bees, and have advanced powers that allow them to make people their mental puppets.
- Warhammer 40,000 has the mad Necron overlord Trazyn the Infinite, a robotic tyrant and historian whose "collection" of artifacts and individuals takes up most of the subterranean caverns of his throne-world of Solemnace. He is particularly keen on producing recreations of great moments and famous battles from history, using captured alien soldiers transformed into hard-light holograms and positioned accordingly. When his collection is damaged or disturbed by intruders he makes a point of seeking out fresh individuals to replace the losses - occasionally complaining that the squad markings and equipment of his victims is too different, and therefore his display is ruined.
- The first Baldur's Gate game had Bassilus, an evil cleric who used Create Undead to "bring back his family" out of locals. Since Create Undead creates undead rather than truly resurrect them, they were just shambling zombies that he was delusional enough to think were fine.
- You can with careful dialogue choices, get him to realize they're not his family, it causes him to destroy the zombies before attacking (otherwise, he'd attack you with the zombies).
- Relius Clover has a nasty habit of doing this in two forms; the first is the Murakumo units he helped create, Living Weapons formed from clones of Saya and stripped of all emotion to make them willing servants to the NOL. The second way is to play this trope much straighter, by turning his own daughter into Nirvana and using the experience he gained from this to turn his wife into a much stronger doll.
- His son, Carl, also follows this trope in the same way as Kankuro and Chiro from higher up this page, as he uses Ada (now Nirvana) as his main weapon in his quest for revenge against his father. It seems like Ada's still sentient and following Carl willingly to protect him, unlike Relius' mindless doll.
- In Drakengard 3, Three makes dolls from living soldiers.
- A creepy serial killer like this pops up in the Heavy Rain DLC "The Taxidermist".
- Elzevir the Dollmaker from Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen is implied to be this. When Kain breaks into Elzevir's place to search for King Ottmar's daughter's soul, you'll notice that Elzevir has people chained up against the wall, and sentient toys going around protecting the place. Apparently, it makes you wonder if there's a connection between the two. To quote Kain when he finds the princess's soul:
- Lufia: the Legend Returns has Leydock, who sets up monster-hunting tournaments and then adds the strongest competitors to his collection.
- Did you ever think the Doll Room in Mad Father was a tad random at the beginning? Well, if you examine the dolls, you'll understand why Dr. Drevis has dedicated an entire room to them. Spoilerific tip: the chair at the front of the room is reserved for Aya.
- Mega Man Star Force gives us the bonus boss Sirius. He collects the strongest warriors from across the Solar System to use as action figures for his own sick amusement (while destroying the planets he visits with his black hole). He's been doing this for eons, and we have no idea what happened to the people he did capture after you beat him in the end.
- The Maven in Path of Exile is a godlike entity who is obsessed with witnessing conflict, observing and creating copies of warriors and monstrosities to pit them against each other in a never-ending battle. You help her out by slaying bosses so that she can watch you fight them again. Siege of the Atlas reveals her hyperfixation with conflict actually ends up being a good thing because the Atlas keeps her occupied with endless "toys" for her to collect and disinterested in the real world, where any other eldritch horrors that could take her place would likely result in a Fate Worse than Death.
- Lusamine from Pokémon Sun and Moon is revealed to have had her Pokemon cryogenically frozen, and is implied to do this routinely to Pokemon she gets bored with. Also, while not quite to the creepy serial-killer-esque extent as other entries on this list, her children, Gladion and Lillie, claim that they were basically their mother's precious dolls rather than living people, in that she expected absolute perfection from them and strictly controlled every aspect of their lives to this end.
- Charles Dalimar from the Ravenhearst hidden-object games abducted a woman and her daughters and forced them to play out the roles of his "family".
- Haruka from Senran Kagura is known for encasing people in wax and keeping them as dolls. She also longs to do this to Hibari.
- Touch Detective features a little girl who lives at the observatory, and with the help of one of its workers, kidnaps people to act as her brainwashed living dolls — what little we see of this suggests they're reduced to a near-inanimate state by the brainwashing, capable of little more than speaking a "pre-recorded" line.
- The Doll Maker in Welcome to the Game II is a Mad Doctor who kidnaps women and surgically twists them into immobile yet still living sex dolls for sale on The Deep Web, based on an infamous creepypasta regarding "Lolita Slave Toys".
- In Drowtales, Kharla does this as a hobby.
- In The Order of the Stick, the Creature in the Darkness kept a paralyzed O-Chul as a playmate for a while, calling him Mr. Stiffly and holding tea parties with him. This is a slightly less deranged version than usual, because O-Chul eventually is un-paralyzed, but continues to play with the Creature in the Darkness of his own free will (as a prisoner routinely tortured for information he doesn't have, it's the least painful way to kill boredom). Eventually O-Chul even begins to teach the Creature in the Darkness some life lessons and considers him a friend.
- Downplayed with Verdi in Tower of God, who likes to kidnap people with the help of her weird powers and giant octopus pet, dress them up while they're unconscious, and call them her dolls — but she lets them go after she's done it, and may even give them something to make them more powerful while she's at it, so it's not that bad. She's on Shibisu's team, and in spite of being a good guy, he tolerates her "weird hobby".
- SCP Foundation has the Little Misters, a line of living "toys" heavily implied to have once been ordinary people before being modified into their current states by the Wicked Toymaker Doctor Wondertainment. Each of the ~20 humanoids carries an advertisement encouraging the reader to "Find them all and become Mr. Collector!"
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Hama uses her Bloodbending skills to kidnap random Fire Nation civilians and keep them locked up in a cave. She also has a bunch of regular puppets she keeps locked in a cabinet in her house: this is so that, if her victims are discovered, she can claim it was at least foreshadowed.
- The villain in the Pilot Movie of Bonkers is The Collector, a creepy-looking Toon who collected other toons. He turns out to be a human in disguise.
- One villain in Courage the Cowardly Dog used a magical stage to transform people into string puppets. Courage sadly is unable to free Muriel and Eustace from the stage before they have already been transformed (thank goodness for Negative Continuity). In the end, the villain falls victim to the allure of the stage himself and starts a performance to an imaginary audience which ends with him becoming a puppet too.
- On The Powerpuff Girls (1998), a toy collector has every piece of Powerpuff merchandise ever, yet felt that his collection was incomplete without the girls themselves. So he kidnaps them and puts them in boxes.
- An episode of Richie Rich had a villain who would kidnap notable people, shrink them with a Shrink Ray and keep them under glass.
- In one "Treehouse of Terror" segment on The Simpsons, Comic Book Guy becomes a collector of cult actors, who plans to trap Lucy Lawless in plastic. She kicks his ass.