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Love Imbues Life

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Let's just say that Cupid's arrows work on more than humans...

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real."

When one or more characters invest a lot of love and energy into an inanimate object, it comes to life in response thanks to The Power of Love. It's usually a Pinocchio type situation where it's still not an organic, living being, but it's now animate in the Living Toy or "Disney talking furniture" sense. Living Toys usually have this as the backstory for why they're, well, living toys. Usually the newly animated object doesn't need more love in a Gods Need Prayer Badly sort of way, but they all usually reciprocate the feeling of love with their "parent" and would be saddened if they stopped being loved (or worse, were treated as freaks for being alive).

The now living object/person may want to Become a Real Boy. In some cases the newly living object/person stays on the level of Empathic Weapon, never outright sapient, but now a character in their own right.

Animistic belief systems (where every object has a soul) often have a similar concept, whereby a seemingly inanimate object may be affected by closeness to a more obviously alive being: a rock flowing down a river will have its "soul" intertwined with that of the water, or a warrior's soul may become one with the weapon they rely upon.

Compare Spontaneous Generation and Sentimental Shabbiness. See also A Boy and His X (this trope being what creates the X). Distantly related to Humanity Is Infectious.


Anime and Manga

  • This is used in The Cat Returns. The slightly inappropriately named Cat Bureau is where all the creations of artists who were dearly loved come to life when the sun goes down.
  • Parodied in one Doraemon story, where the titular character (a robot cat) fell in love with a child's remote-controlled toy cat. After risking his life to save the toy cat from a dog, Doraemon then use one of his gadgets to bestow the toy sentience... but to Doraemon's chagrin, turns out the toy cat is male. Cue Doraemon's Ocular Gushers while the now-living toy cat frolics away in the background.
  • This is, at least partially, how the dolls of Rozen Maiden come to life and stay that way.
  • This is the concept behind the Klabautermann in One Piece, being the spirit of a ship born out of love from its crew. Unfortunately, if it's ever seen by any of its crew, it's a sign that the ship will soon meet its end.

Asian Animation

  • In episode 15 of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons, Tibbie comes across some toys that Wilie had thrown out the window earlier, noticing that some bunnies are now playing with them. The bunnies' mother angrily asking how anyone could play with such broken toys gives Tibbie the idea to repair the toys, and her heartfelt care is enough to bring them to life and is actually beneficial to Tibbie since the toys help her when she is kidnapped by Wolffy.

Comic Books

  • Traditionally Wonder Woman was a statue of a child created by her mother who yearned for a daughter of her own to love which was then brought to life by Aphrodite in reference to Pygmalion and Galatea, with motherly love substituted for the lust and/or romantic love of the original myth.

Film — Live-Action

  • In The Love Bug, it was implied that this was how Herbie (the eponymous car) developed a mind of his own.
  • The movie May spends its third act with the titular May assembling a "friend" named Amy- out of the most beautiful body parts of the people she knows of. After she plucks out her own eye it moves an arm to stroke her face. Given May's state of mind at this point, it is debatable as to whether Amy really has come to life, or if it is merely just her own hallucination.
  • The lesser known Disney movie about Living Toys called Where the Toys Come From. Two wind-up toys belonging to a little girl go on an adventure to find out the origin of toys and arrive at a factory in Japan, where a kindly toy designer finds them and shows them around the factory. They come to an assembly line full of identical wind-ups, but find that they don't talk back when they try to interact with them. The toy designer explains that once they find someone who loves them they'll be talk like them


  • In Doris Orgel's A Certain Magic, twelve-year-old Trudl has been sent from Nazi-occupied Austria to England alone and aching for her family and her dolls. Her host family's snobbish daughter has an exquisite doll called Felicity. In her diary Trudl writes a beautiful story about bringing Felicity to life and taking her on secret adventures. Years later when Trudl's niece Jenny reads Trudl's diary, she goes to enormous lengths to locate the family and the doll.
  • Pauline Clarke's Return of the Twelves is about the (actual) Napoleonic wars wood soldiers owned by the Bronte sisters (Anne Brontë, Charlotte Brontë, and Emily Brontë) and their brother Branwell. In Real Life the kids endowed the "Young Men" with individual personalities, created an enormous paracosm for their adventures and wrote countless stories, novels, poems and plays about them. The delicious concept in this novel is that the Young Men were brought to life by this loving attention. They are discovered by children in the 1960s, still alive, active and ornery as ever.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love he states that love is the reason a computer goes from merely extremely powerful to A.I. It "comes alive" because someone loves it (rather him/her, that's part of the reason, treating the computer as more than "it").
  • The premise of The Velveteen Rabbit: The boy loves his rabbit toy so much that he regards it as not just a toy, but real. And, in the end, it is.

Live-Action TV

  • Doctor Who: In the climax of "Victory of the Daleks", the scientist Bracewell is told he's actually a robot with a bomb in his chest. To stop the bomb, the Doctor needs to trigger human emotions in him to "prove to the universe" that he isn't just a robot. The Doctor tries appealing to his sense of pain and loss. It fails, mystifying the Doctor. Fortunately his companion steps in and takes the Love approach. It works!


  • This is pretty much the premise of Hoshizora Hall wo Oide yo; an unnamed Master of sixteen instruments took such good care of them and loved them so much that they were imbued with life afterwards. However, they are separated from their master, and use the CDs to reach out and express their love with songs and encouraging messages.


Video Games

  • Counter Side: Sigma, a computer built to simply follow orders, comes to [[ grow beyond that simple existence]] after meeting a Robot Maid who talks about what it means to have a family and care for them.

Visual Novels

  • The Arc Words of Umineko: When They Cry are "Without love, it cannot be seen." Although those words come to mean several things over the course of the series, one of them is the way in which magic can be used to create living beings. This is first seen in Maria's (and Rosa's) creation of Sakutaro. However, it takes on a much darker meaning in Yasu's creation of Shannon, Kanon, and Beatrice.


  • In Sugar Bits, Ginger tried to make a gingerbread man many times so she could show it to her ill mother. Each time, the gingerbread man was nothing more than an ordinary cookie. When she asked her mother why they wouldn't come to life, her mother explained that gingerbread men only come to life if they are baked with love. Taking the lesson to heart, Ginger was finally able to bake a living gingerbread man: the main character Hansel.
  • An important concept in Immaterial, where the parallel dimension blends the difference between people and things. Objects come to life when emotions are invested in them and "die" when they're forgotten. Denizens like Grimnir can survive being forgotten by finding a purpose.

Western Animation

  • In Frosty's Winter Wonderland, this is how Crystal comes to life. It is also how Frosty comes back to life after Jack Frost blows off his hat.


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Fold of Life

The Fold of Life is an advanced origami folding technique, manifesting your love of the craft into every fold and causing the creation to come to life, as Olly and Olivia did.

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