Follow TV Tropes


Marionette Master

Go To
Alice assembles her doll army for disturbingly cute warfare.

A marionette master doesn't fight via their own power; they have an army of Perverse Puppets—that they control via strings, magic, or advanced technology—to do it for them. Particularly sadistic ones can also make People Puppets. See also Evil Puppeteer.

A Subtrope of Art Attacker and The Minion Master. May overlap with Robot Master or Wicked Toymaker.

Compare & contrast Puppeteer Parasite. See also Marionette Motion.

Not to be confused with Puppet Fighter, a metaphor to describe a certain type of gameplay.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Hollow Numb Chandelier in Bleach has this as her main power, using the virus to make People Puppets out of Orihime's friends.
    • Ditto one of the Bounts, Mabashi, who takes over Rukia's body; Orihime restores Rukia's sanity by hugging and then activating her powers.
    • Also, the Septima Espada Zommari Rureaux. His ability Amor allows him to control body parts of other people with one of his many eyes. If it's the head, it allows him to control the entire body even when they are unconscious.
  • Genso from Genzo is a puppet master of amazing skills, and combines this with being Crazy-Prepared. Other "puppet masters" in the series are his teacher and father-in-law Seibei and his half-brother Koshiro, who's even more skilled than him.
  • Makubex & co in Get Backers.
  • One of Yura of the Hair's abilities in Inuyasha. She would use threads of hair to manipulate the bodies of unconscious people from Kaede's village, then force them to attack Inuyasha and the group.
  • Walter from Hellsing upgrades from using his Razor Floss to making People Puppets.
  • The Shirogane in Karakuri Circus are members of an entire organization of Marionette Masters, using highly complex puppets to fight against evil robots.
  • Corona of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid is revealed in flashbacks to have doll manipulation as her main talent. After Vivio praised her for it, she trained and refined this skill to the point where she can now manipulate giant Golems in battle. She can also use it on herself to become a Ditto Fighter.
    • Olivie Sägebrecht used a similar technique to control her artificial arms when she was alive.
  • The Hidden Sand Village from Naruto is renowned for its ninja puppeteers, who typically use puppets full of hidden weaponry, including poison; unlike most examples, said puppeteers, including Kankuro and Chiyo, are actually fairly heroic (eventually, anyways). However, the Hidden Sand's greatest puppeteer, Sasori of the Red Sand, is an outright villain who can turn his victims into puppets that still possess any powers they had while alive.
  • Evangeline from Negima! Magister Negi Magi makes the list as well. One of her several dozen titles is "The Puppetmaster", and at the height of her power she could apparently control an entire army's worth of puppets. Though as a powerful Vampire mage, this is mainly a secondary ability.
  • Doflamingo of One Piece is of the People Puppets variety, though he also seems to have the strings themselves as part of his personal arsenal.
  • PandoraHearts — Zwei, or rather her Chain Doldum, is one of those. Poor Gil.
  • Princess Rangiku, is the titular girl of Puppet Princess. Rangiku seeks vengeance on those who murdered her father by using her 3 of her father's greatest warrior puppets.
  • Gein from Rurouni Kenshin hides inside his puppet and basically uses it like a Clock Punk Giant Robot.
  • Faust of Saber Marionette J.
  • Friagne, the first villain in Shakugan no Shana, controls hordes of exploding dolls (possibly constructed from torches). His goal is to turn Marianne, the Rinne doll he loves, into an independent existence.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime:
    • Otherworlder Alice Rondo has the ability to levitate and manipulate dolls. When first encountered by Rimuru, she did this with her trio of stuffed dolls for their practice bout, with Rimuru noting despite the cuteness her control is very good and these would be a lot more intimidating if they had claws or weapons attached. After her training, that's exactly what she did as now she controls dolls made of metal armed with various weapons.
    • Demon Lord Clayman outright has the Red Baron "Marionette Master", and true to form his preferred combat style though not his only one is to use powerful puppets, often fueled with souls that grants them both increased powers as well as innate healing abilities to anything aside from soul-damaging attacks. His masterpiece is "Viola", a powerful multi-armed puppet with various magical attacks and tricks at its disposal. He can also uses curses to turn people into People Puppets via binding their bodies and/or minds.
  • Tiger & Bunny: Kriem, who uses her powers to control Mad Bears (Ugly Cute teddy bears). The Mad Bears go into giant robots and start attacking the city.
  • Leonof the Puppetmaster from Trigun.
  • IV from Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL used monsters called Gimmick Puppets, nightmarish marionettes with graphic and macabre powers.
  • Castor in 07-Ghost

    Comic Books 
  • The now obscure General Jumbo and his Pocket Army, appearing in The Beano between 1953 to 1974, was another heroic example. Unusually, the forces at his command extended to full air and artillery support as well as a variety of vehicles for several thousand Small Soldiers-style infantry bots, and a lot of the weapons involved were explicitly capable of inflicting lethal harm.
  • The DCU:
    • Teen Titans foe the Puppeteer, has a huge array of puppets, all fashioned in different clothing. When at home the puppets would do chores for him such as cook his breakfast.
    • Superman villain the Toyman usually uses an army of toys to do his fighting for him.
    • Toyman's son Anton Schott a.k.a. the Doll Maker, is an enemy of Supergirl, who has an army of robotic dolls, as well as human sized robot dolls with children trapped inside as to make it harder for Supergirl to fight them.
    • The Flash villain The Trickster, would sometimes do this. In the game DC Universe Online he can even be seen commanding robotic action figures of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman to fight for him.
    • Hawkman villain Toyboy (not to be confused with the Toyboy robot created by the original Toyman) uses telekinesis to control toys.
    • Carny, a member of the Extremists in Convergence. Due to being an extremely loose Expy of Walt Disney and X-Men villain Arcade, he commands an army of It's a Small World esque robot dolls to fight for him.
    • Firestorm villain Black Bison can bring to life any inanimate objects to fight for him. These can range from toys, amusement park animatronics, and even the statue of liberty.
    • Batgirl villain Shauna Belzer uses telekinesis to control her puppet Ferdie.
  • Toybox from Top 10.
  • Wanted has The Doll-Master, who's a Captain Ersatz of Toyman. Like his inspiration, he has a small army of puppets at his beck and call.
  • Fables: Gepetto, as in the original story, is a master puppet-crafter, and a Wicked Toymaker as The Man Behind the Man for the Adversary.

    Fan Works 
  • Lupine Tree has the timberwolves, the most notable of which being the protagonist himself. The timberwolves are trees that drop "transmission seeds," which can magically gather up plant matter and assemble it into the form of a wolfnote  and puppet the construct within a set radius of where they grow. The wolves hunt for prey and use it to fertilize their controlling tree.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Other Mother aka Beldam in Coraline. Her dolls are not primarily made for fighting, however if her victim comes to realise the trap it has fallen into and attempts to fight back, they can become rather deadly.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Andre Toulon in the Puppet Master series as well as anybody else that the puppets obey.
  • Toy Santa from The Santa Clause 2 taking over the North Pole by creating an army of sentient life-sized toy soldiers that obey him definitely fits the bill.
  • Tales from the Hood: The army of undead slave dolls tormenting a white supremacist is controlled by an elderly voodoo priestess whose soul is contained inside an old Civil War painting.
  • The Peddler in The Wiz controls two Perverse Puppets that start dancing on their own before growing 7 feet tall and chasing the heroes menacingly throughout the Sinister Subway.

  • Seanan McGuire's Velveteen vs. series features Velvetveen, who fights with animated stuffed animals and dolls. When she needs new ones, she goes to Goodwill, animates all theirs, and lays out the score: that going with her will mean giving up any chance of a new child and probably a short life, but also doing good in that period.

    Live-Action TV 

  • The members of 2PM take turns being this in their music video for "Heartbeat".
  • Another k-pop example: Zelo is a Marionette Master in the music video for B.A.P's first single, "Warrior", using his fellow members as People Puppets. At the end, they break out of his control and shoot him as part of the dance.

    Video Games 
  • Lieselotte's sister Elfriede of Arcana Heart has the power to control puppets and used this to possess a Perverse Puppet to remain with Lieselotte when she died. That is, that was the original story. In reality, it is Lieselotte herself who has the power to control the puppet, and her sister is still alive.
  • BlazBlue:
    • Carl Clover is never seen without a giant marionette called Nirvana (which contains the soul of his sister Ada), which can be controlled by the player as he fights. Early on in Noel's Story Mode, an important question comes up: who's really pulling whose strings? Something of either a subversion or an inversion, depending on how you look at it.
    • His father, Relius Clover, is also a puppeteer, the puppet in question being his wife Ignis.
  • Lime from Blue Reflection uses a teddy bear called Mr. Bear as her weapon. It can grow to giant size and shoot Eye Beams, or function as a Magic Wand for shooting fireballs. Oh, and her skillset and starting stats strongly favor her being an offense-focused character, meaning Mr. Bear is potentially the strongest weapon in the game.
  • Dollmaykrs from the Doom mod Angelic Waifus are angelic puppet masters responsible for creating the doll armies of heaven. Their primary attack is to summon an endless army of dolls armed with knives, pistols and shotguns.
  • While Lulu from Final Fantasy X primarily uses magic in battle, she can also attack enemies with magically animated toys.
  • Final Fantasy XI Puppetmasters, natch.
  • While she is capable of fighting by herself, (and is quite good at it) Luca from Final Fantasy IV: The After Years fights alongside her mechanical dolls, Calca and Brina.
  • Fire Emblem Fates has the Mechanist as a Hoshidan-exclusive unit class that Ninjas and Apothecaries can be promoted to. They ride on puppet mounts, use Hidden Weapons and Bows, and can also create a puppet clone to fight alongside themselves.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • As of the latest update to Mabinogi the player now has the option of being this.
  • Pamela Ibis lets her Teddy do most of the fighting in her Mana Khemia incarnation. Then again, this is not your average bear.
  • Marionnette Owl from Metal Gear: Ghost Babel.
    • Screaming Mantis in Metal Gear Solid 4 prefers zombie People Puppets, and even controls them with literal puppets. Using said puppets you can even try it out yourself, though not nearly as well as the bosses.
  • The Scourge Warlock class from Neverwinter has the ability to create "Soul Puppets" when they use certain powers on their enemy's. They fade pretty fast, meaning you have to make another one to replace it, unless you taker the Damnation skill tree to its capstone (which also comes with other nifty upgrades to the puppet).
  • Ogre Battle has a Doll Mage/Doll Master class.
  • Kairaishi from Onmyoji.
  • Jov Leonov from Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy who has the power of mind control and a Meat Puppet army.
  • Cornet from Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure
  • Geppeto in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. He attacks by controlling his marionette Cornelia. His weapon is different types of puppet string (his Infinity +1 Sword is the Red String of Fate), and his elemental affinity is based on what dress Cornelia is wearing. His late daughter's soul is inhabiting Cornelia's body, raising the question of just how much Geppeto is actually in control of it. Fortunately, she was a good person in life.
  • Mishaela in Shining Force. Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict revealed that the Mishaela you killed in the original was really one of her puppets all along.
  • This is one of the powers of Gig from Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. A spell called Dominion causes a small doll in the form of the person used on to appear. From there, the user can summon that person whenever needed and control them in battle.
  • Anise Tatlin from Tales of the Abyss has a stuffed doll which can grow big enough for her to ride into battle, making her the resident Cute Bruiser.
  • Touhou Project — Alice Margatroid's main specialty is her Doll Army, two of her most notable dolls being Shanghai and Hourai. She also has them help her do chores all over the house, even when she's not in the same room as them. The weird thing about it is that they aren't capable of independent action, so she's putting just as much if not more effort into micro-managing them than just doing the work herself. It also makes her habit of holding conversations with them all the more eccentric.'
  • The World Ends with You's Shiki Misaki has her stuffed cat, Mr. Mew. Seeing as they're in a world where some people can shoot fireballs or drop vending machines on their enemies, her partner (and the Main Character) Neku finds this... rather underwhelming. Shiki defends herself by saying that Mr Mew was the only thing that worked and he "sort of does his own thing". Neku comes around to it later on, including the two of them having a combo attack where Mr Mew grows to a giant size to devastate the monsters they fight.

  • All over the place in Erfworld. Dollomancy, Croakamancy, and Decryption are all this trope through and through. Even the setting, where soldiers telepathically know their leader's wishes to some extent, counts.
  • Homestuck: Dave's Bro may or may not have been this with his favourite puppet, Lil' Cal. On one hand, he was capable of flashstepping so fast that he could have been making it look like Lil' Cal was moving of his own accord, and initially that's what appears to be happening. On the other hand, there's plenty of evidence and testimony throughout the story that Lil' Cal actually is alive and capable of autonomous movement. We simply can't know for certain, and that makes it all the more terrifying a thought...
    • Dirk Strider, Bro's alternate universe equivalent, also counts. He holds a puppetkind strife specibus and can use Cal in combat, though he seldom does. Instead, in a less-literal take on the trope, Dirk builds robots and A.I.s that do battle for him.

Alternative Title(s): Puppet Warrior, Marionette Mistress