Not to be confused with People Puppets or a certain rock band from Phoenix a Meat Puppet is a biological and (usually) living Host that has been taken control over by a Puppeteer Parasite, Body Snatcher or similar character, be it through science or occultic sorcery. The attempt to control a potential Meat Puppet in such a manner either results in Body Control, Mind Control or Demonic Possession. Compare to Empty Shell.
The purpose of a Meat Puppet is usually to act as a tool for the controller, ranging from basic slaves to intricately placed spies, sometimes also being used as a "Seeing Eye Dog" if the controller can remotely view through the puppet's senses. Generally, a Meat Puppet is a Faceless Goon, used as a Meat Shield, or simply becomes a brainwashed Mook that's expendable to a villain or antihero in control of it.
The following are special types of Meat Puppets chosen for specific purposes:
- Big Dumb Body A meat puppet that holds little intelligence, but is desirable for its physical prowess and durability.
- Living Bodysuit when a host is chosen as a disguise for reasons of secrecy and espionage.
- Wetware Body a biological body possessed by a computer.
- Willing Channeler a Host who "wants" to be controlled, or at least isn't against having his/her body used by someone (or something) else.
An entirely alternate meaning refers to The Internet and New Media culture in social media: an online "entourage" or crowd of Yes People surrounding a particular Internet user and/or a "personal army" of Internet users recruited to attack or defend someone in a Flame War or flare of Internet Backdraft, or to promote them or their product. This is connected to AstroTurf except that AstroTurf is usually for a politician, product, company, or one side in a war or conflict, whereas a Meat Puppet can appear anywhere (and are often why a debate escalates to Flame War, Internet Backdraft, or appearing on Fandom Wank levels). These are usually called Meat Puppet as opposed to Sock Puppet, because they are actually separate people, unlike a Sock Puppet, which is a different user identity (or collection of them) created by the same person. That said, good luck in telling them apart, especially in places that allow anonymity and don't ban proxies.
- Immortal Hulk: The Leader gains the ability to hijack people thanks to his stay in the Below Place, including Rick Jones, then the Green Scar Hulk. Though after three bodies he starts to get distracted from splitting his attention four ways.
- Nova: The Eldritch Abomination Nightmare Rich encounters on his first visit to Knowhere likes to turn people into these, starting with an entire team of heroes called the Luminals. Side-effect, they tend to explode if grazed with a gravimetric beam.
- Wonder Woman (1987): For his final confrontation with Artemis and Diana the White, Magician uses magic to override and physically alter Cassie Arnold and Cheetah into his minions, who attack whomever he directs them at and seem to have no mental capacity of their own. Cassie is killed by the experience, though Cheetah survives.
- Pokémon: The First Movie. Mewtwo takes control of the local Nurse Joy's mind and uses her as the interface between it and the trainers invited to the island before it reveals itself.
- The avatar Na'vi bodies in Avatar.
- Being John Malkovich: John Malkovich is under control of the protagonist for much of the movie when he is inside Malkovich's head.
- Done rather disturbingly by The Devil in The Dark Side of the Moon to the crew of a space ship.
- In The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, Agent Smith overwrites Bane inside the Matrix and uses his body to escape into the real world.
- In Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, Control Bugs take over an entire outpost of Mobile Infantry soldiers and pit them against the main characters.
- In Animorphs, people who have been infested by a Yeerk are known as Controllers. The host is fully conscious but unable to move, save for a few seconds of Fighting from the Inside if they're lucky. The Yeerk can read all of the host's thoughts and memories, and communicate them through thought-speak.
- Two very creepy examples in The Caster Chronicles - Sarafine inhabiting Mrs. Lincoln in Beautiful Creatures, and Mrs. English being possessed by the Lilum in Beautiful Chaos.
- Imperial Radch: The ancillaries from Ancillary Justice. They're typically made using dissidents from conquered worlds, who have implants shoved into their brains that permanently render them extensions of a ships AI, obliterating all previous identity. Theyre used as ground soldiers or anything else that needs a pair of hands. Most people call them corpse soldiers.
- George R.R. Martin had a short story in which the corpses of executed criminals were implanted with control chips and sold as industrial equipment. They were only good for certain types of work, because they were somewhat clumsy and required human operators. Much of the plot revolved around the practical and financial issues facing the corpse-driver protagonists.
- Old Virginia by Laird Barron had a Humanoid Abomination sitting on the shoulders of various people and using them for transport (a case of being literally hagridden), controlling them through tendrils inserted into their spine. This ends up being the fate of the protagonist as well.
- Doctor Who: In "Resolution", the villain controls archaeologist Lin in this fashion, forcing her to build it a new set of armour. After its casing is destroyed, the Dalek recon scout takes over Aaron, Ryan's estranged father.
- In The Flash (2014), Doctor Alchemy was created by Savitar taking over Julian Albert's mind with the Philosopher's Stone.
- In Supernatural, demons and angels require vessels to walk the earth. The term meat puppet is often used.
Meg: (possessing Sam) Sam's still my Meat Puppet. I'll make him bite his tongue off.
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir: In "Centennial", the captain takes over Claymore's body so he can dance with Mrs. Muir.
- In an episode of Dead Gorgeous, Mr. Griffith is laid up with a kidney stone and Miss Sinclaire. To avoid having Miss Sinclaire expel the Ainsworth girls, their ghost guide Agatha possesses Mr. Griffith and forces him up out of bed.
- Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution: Powerful psychokinetics can hijack peoples bodies and remotely control them.
- The Krana in BIONICLE can control a being once attached to his or her face. If they possess a Matoran, it's a straight example of the trope, since Matoran lapse into unconciousness when separated from their Mask of Power. However, if they possess a Toa, there will be a struggle for control between Krana and host. "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight ensues.
- Geist surrounds itself in having the player possess hosts both biological and machine to affect the living world and defeat the Big Bad. There's even a minigame devoted to Ghosts vs Hosts.
- Ghost Trick: Yomiel can possess and manipulate living creatures the way Sissel manipulates inanimate objects. Aside from his cat the hosts are either unknowing or unwilling, but he can also possess the Empty Shell of his own corpse.
- The Half-Life series features various types of headcrab creatures that overlap with Zombie Mooks. The headcrabs apparently latch onto the skull of the host, eat their way through it, and then control the new "corpse" while simultaneously mutating it to make it even nastier. The host remains alive and conscious the whole time, of course.
- The Flood parasites of Halo insert their tendrils into the nervous systems of their host subjects. Afterwards, they control and mutate the host in the same way that headcrabs do.
- This is the implied case with Millennia from Kagero: Deception II. She never speaks in cutscenes aside from nodding or shaking her head, but exactly how much control the Timemoids are exhibiting over her is up to the player via Dialogue Trees.
- In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, after defeating Cackletta, her defeated spirit takes over the beaten-up body of Bowser and becomes... Bowletta.
- Mass Effect 2: ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL Really, Reaper Indoctrination in the ''Mass Effect' series is a mass (no pun intended) version of this.
- Meat Puppet: Yes, there is a game whose title is the same as this trope, and the game mostly follows the description at the top. Lotos/Lotus Abstraction answered a personal ad that said about "nocturnal missions". She is being controlled by The Puppet Master/Martinet. She is required to make Asshole Victims out of six leaders of the most profitable corporations (also known as ambassadors), and do this in one night, or else the suit that was put on her against her will will self-destruct and kill her! This is what Martinet is trying to accomplish: The Puppet Master wants to use Lotos to reassemble the fractured genetic key to universal entropy and shut down the universe. That would make Lotos accomplice to the biggest murder of all time a prospect that displeases her greatly. She'd rather save the world instead. You can find out more here.
- Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and its sequels Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus and Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee have the titular character, Abe, possessing and controlling his enemies in his efforts to save his species from extinction and free them from slavery. Ironically, in Abe's Exoddus, secondary antagonist General Dripik refers to Abe as a 'Mudokon Meat-Puppet', without any correlation to the trope.
- Pain Killer also contains a character who uses mind control to manipulate potential enemy hosts, (and sometimes including allies).
- Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy refers to mind controlled soldiers (under the terrorist group: The Movement) as Meat Puppets, and is the trope namer in this case.
- In Chapter Two of Antlers Colorado, Austin is possessed and used as a vessel by an evil entity that has been bound to a lake for centuries. There's a chapter from Lake-Austin's point of view where it's obvious that the lake has no idea what the limitations of a human body are, or just doesn't care.
- In Fite!, the Mutali turns out to be just puppets of Skerry.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent gives us the unnerving possibility of this being the ultimate fate of victims of The Plague that resulted in the current After the End setting the characters find themselves in. Be they Beast (animal-based victims), Troll (human-based victims) or Giant (combo-platter critters). As if facing becoming a Body of Bodies and/or Meat Moss Body Horror wasn't enough, you could be trapped and watching yourself attack others for decades.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In the episode "Little Rock of Horrors", a singing meteor monster from outer space crashes in town. It feeds on brains, and convinces Billy to bring him his friends, family and neighbors to feed on. The monster feeds by taking out their brains from their ears, which instead of killing them turns the townspeople into green eyed, tongue-lolling zombies vulnerable to control to its psychic powers. The more brains it eats, the more backup dancers it can add to the throng.
- Steven Universe: It's revealed in "Change Your Mind" that White Diamond has Eye Beams that can turn other Gems into these for her, turning them monochrome in the process. She also happens to think that Steven himself was created to serve as one for his Missing Mom Rose Quartz/Pink Diamond. White is proven wrong when pulling out Steven's gemstone creates a Literal Split Personality of him instead of his mother.
- This is an integral part of Irken biology when you delve deeper into the lore of Invader Zim, one that would have been explored in more detail had the show not been cancelled. The Irkens' bodies are just a vessel, their memories and personalities are all contained in the PAKS on their backs. In one episode where we see Zim's birth, at first he lays on the ground motionless, but the instant the PAK is placed on him he is able to move and speak. The cancelled episode "Ten Minutes to Doom" would have revealed that the body can only live ten minutes without their PAKS.