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. He or she 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 he or she 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.
- 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?"
- 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.
- Sabrina in the Pokémon anime literally did this to other people, turning them into small dolls with her own psychic powers.
- 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 where 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.
- Fullmetal Alchemist 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.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Ryou Bakura is an unwilling one of these, as his Super-Powered Evil Side has a nasty habit of trapping his friend's souls in cute little figurines.
- Terrence D'arby from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure also 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, Terrence's dolls were aware of everything going on, but unable to do anything.
- More than one Shinma from Vampire Princess Miyu is like this.
- Kirakishou from Rozen Maiden is a strange case... a living doll that collects humans like they were dolls.
- 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.
- In the Batman comics, the Mad Hatter sometimes kidnaps blonde girls and uses his mind control technology to force them to play at being Alice.
- One of the creepiest Batman villains - Lazlo Valentin, better known as Professor Pyg - turns people into androgynous, masked, puppet-like servants named Dollotrons. According to That Other Wiki the process of creating Dollotrons is implied to involve "brain surgery, genital mutilation, and mind-altering drugs."
- Marvel Comics gives us the Puppet Master and the Purple Man. One used radioactive (later revealed to be magical) clay to control people like puppets, the other uses pheromones to make them do his every bidding.
- Iron Man rogue The Controller is this but then using cybernetics. The more people he controls, the more powerful he becomes.
- One Cobweb story in an issue of Tomorrow Stories featured a Mad Scientist who used a shrink ray to turn women into literal 'living dolls'.
- In the Scott Pilgrim comic, the seventh and final Evil Ex, Gideon Gordon Graves is revealed to have put his six ex-girlfriends into suspended animation. And he plans to do the very same thing to Ramona.
- "Misty" by James Mc Quade (somewhat NSFW). The guy there collects superheroines (Vampirella is most easily spotted).
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 is gunned down by the police who think she murdered him, and he gets off scot-free. And worse, the ending implies that he will try to do this to another woman.
- The villain from Devil Doll abducted people and transformed them 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.
- Peter Sellers, in the 1971 movie Hoffmann, plays a rather more subtle and psychologically creepy version of the Terence Stamp character in The Collector. Here, 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.
- In American Gothic (the 1988 movie AKA Hide And Shriek, not the 1995 TV series), what the daughter of a family calls her "big dollies" are actually the corpses of people her parents have murdered.
- 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 STD's 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 she saw Helen as a sort of living doll, since she could communicate with her and guide and direct her character.
- 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 the entire film. It's also implied that the souls of the victims become trapped in their doll-modified bodies.
- The Fat Man's modus operandi in Ghostland is to 'play' with his victims who are dressed up as dolls.
- Tourist Trap features a telekinetic killer who transforms his victims into mannequins he can control with his powers.
- Shrike from Mortal Engines is a more sympathetic version, an undead Super Soldier that 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Criminal Minds:
- 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, a Psychopathic Woman Child was raped and given ECT by her pedophile psychiatrist father, and was 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.
- The episode "Cold Comfort", where 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.
- There is also the eighth season episode "The Lesson", with an old man that kidnaps people to make them into living puppets. Living marionette puppets.
- There was an episode of Law & Order: SVU involving a pedophile with obvious Mommy Issues who did this, dressing little girls up (before doing "stuff" with them) to look like the dolls in his mother's extensive collection.
- Night Gallery episode "A Death In the Family". An undertaker preserves dead bodies and treats them as his "family".
- An episode of Super Force had a deranged man who kidnapped women, put them in suspended animation, and arranged them on display stands in a private museum.
- 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.
- Robert Englund appeared in an episode of Charmed as a man who turned women into figurines.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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).
- A creepy serial killer like this pops up in the Heavy Rain DLC "The Taxidermist".
- 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.
- Relius Clover from BlazBlue 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- In Drakengard 3, Three makes dolls from living soldiers.
- Haruka from Senran Kagura is known for encasing people in wax and keeping them as dolls. She also longs to do this to Hibari.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lufia: The Legend Returns has Leydock, who sets up monster-hunting tournaments and then adds the strongest competitors to his collection.
- 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 then 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- On The Powerpuff Girls, 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.
- 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.
- An episode of Richie Rich had a villain who would kidnap notable people, shrink them with a Shrink Ray and keep them under glass.
- 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.