Follow TV Tropes


Phlebotinum Girl

Go To

"Men are perhaps born to fight each other. And women are perhaps fated to be their tools."
Reccoa Londe, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam

Phlebotinum Girl refers to a series of Expies in Science Fiction Anime & Manga, that became popular enough to develop into their own Archetype. This trope may have been popularized and codified by Lalah Sune from the anime Mobile Suit Gundam, though it's difficult to say for sure where it originated, as it is now so common.

To qualify as a Phlebotinum Girl, a character must meet the following:

  • The character is a female lead and often a Love Interest to The Hero in a Science Fiction or occasionally Fantasy work, and is teenaged or in her twenties with an other-worldly appearance.
  • The character has a special ability (often border-line magical) or talent which is extremely desirable in the setting and usually one-of-a-kind or incredibly rare. Often she pilots the latest Super Prototype Mecha or is otherwise the key to some kind of power. If the "Phlebotinum" part of the girl is a born trait, and there are many other Phlebotinum Girls in the universe, then she may be part of a Bizarre Baby Boom or a set of Designer Babies, but she will still be the main focus and often "super special", either because of the unusual amount of power she possesses or by being one of the first to have this power.
  • The character is thrust into conflict and battle, often against her will, and may be a Living MacGuffin or even a Barrier Maiden, with many factions vying to possess her.

Other common but not universal traits include:

  • The character isn't a normal human, but is a Human Alien or Ridiculously Human Robot, is an advanced human or mutant, or a specially created being. I Just Want to Be Normal is a very common desire of hers.
  • The character is physically or mentally frail, passing out often or getting sick, usually from her ability, or is just going crazy or depressed.
  • The character is a tragic figure, sometimes oppressed or manipulated by a Mad Scientist or other crazy person, and usually has little freedom of her own, instead following the orders of whatever person or organization controls her, sometimes blindly or without the will or courage to rebel. Even if she is owned by the 'good' side, she will often be forced to do things she doesn't want to, such as participate in battle and even kill people.
  • The character is prone to having a mental breakdown or Heroic BSoD of some kind in her series at least once, perhaps as a response to some horrible thing she has been forced to do, the Phlebotinum she controls affecting her mind and taking control of her, or her controllers using some method of mind-control on her. Sometimes The Power of Love can break her mind control or otherwise leads to her freedom.
  • The character is the pilot of a Super Prototype Mecha OR The Hero is the pilot and she is the key to making it work, often involving some kind of advanced interface with the neural system.
  • The character meets her end, being much more likely to die at the end of the series than your average lead.

The Phlebotinum Girl is extremely likely to cross-over with the tropes Living MacGuffin, Barrier Maiden, Apocalypse Maiden, Living Battery, Mysterious Waif and Unstable Powered Woman. The Rei Ayanami Expy is a very similar phenomena, Rei herself initially being one of these. Also compare Spaceship Girl.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Fyana is a Super-Soldier who ends up with the hero, Chirico, fairly quickly. Her old handlers try to get her back.
  • Attack on Titan: Ymir Fritz is a rare non-mecha/sci-fi version of this tropes, and not the love interest of the main character. She was enslaved by King Fritz before gaining the power of Titans. Even after becoming the first Titan Shifter and becoming King Fritz's concubine to give birth to his children, he still treated her as nothing more than a Living Weapon for him and the Eldian Empire. When she died after protecting him from assassination by a Marleyan Soldier, he demanded her to wake up and continue her job serving him. Her spirit is still mindlessly obeying the Royal Family's commands, until Eren Yeager gives her a pep-talk to make her own choice, leading her to agree to help him by unleashing the Wall Titans after 2000 years of suffering, which lead to the events of "The Rumbling".
  • Basquash!: Rouge is an interesting case because she starts as the hero's love interest. It is only later that she gets drugged-up to become a powerful Basquash player.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX: Zero Two. Starting from being a biological experiment that becomes the protagonist's love interest all the way to her grand sacrifice wiping out the VIRM once and for all, 02 proudly plays this trope straight.
  • Elfen Lied: The dicloni are natural born Tyke Bombs for bonus points.
  • Eureka Seven: Eureka was this in her backstory, the key to piloting the Nirvash, and was rescued by Holland.
    • Anemone is this in the present as a result of an attempt to copy Eureka's coralian nature and is rescued by Dominic.
  • The Five Star Stories: Lachesis subverts this — she's a remarkably stable and positive individual to the point of being a Genki Girl, is Happily Married to a man she loved since her childhood, and despite going through a lot she never lost her cool. But she's definitely an exception.
  • The Gundam franchise has had a number of these, across different series:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam — The Trope Codifier. Lalah Sune may represent an unbuilt version of this trope, as she was fiercely loyal to her CO and her romance arc did not end very well
    • Both Psyco Gundams were piloted by four women. They were: Four Murasame, Rosamia Badam, Elpeo Ple, and Ple Two. Neither case goes well, either.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack — Quess Paraya, like Lalah Sune, meets a tragic end before The Power of Love can accomplish anything
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam — The Devil Gundam's final host was Rain. She's one of the VERY few examples that actually gets better.
      • Allenby Beardsley is a nod to this, being ruthlessly raised from childhood to pilot her Gundam and her organization using mind control on her more than once. She falls in love with The Hero, Domon, who also pilots a Gundam (though he already has a love interest, the aforementioned Rain). Allenby also gets a brief Brainwashed and Crazy stint as the pilot of the Walter Gundam... and Domon's love interest Rain is the one who actually fights and saves her. Allenby returns the favor via joining Domon and Co. in the Grand Finale and helping him to save Rain.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team — Aina Sakhalin starts out as a subject of experiments in Zeon, but by the end, she has eloped with the hero.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing — Heero Yuy is a male example, able to use the Zero system and fighting because others tell him to. He is slowly persuaded to the side of pacifism by Relena Peacecraft, among others.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny — Stella Loussier. She's raised from birth to not know anything except to kill or pilot a Gundam, gets memory cleanup and drugs every now and then. The word "die" or "death" is a safety feature they devised to control her just in case. It backfires sometimes...
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 — Soma Peries/Marie Parfacy is one of only two surviving products of a Super-Soldier project and ends up fighting against Celestial Being. Subverted in that her CO Sergei Smirnov is a good guy who considers her to be like his own daughter and that, alongside the other surviving "product" (her eventual boyfriend and partner Allelujah Haptism), she gets her happy ending.
      • Her boyfriend, Allelujah Haptism is also part of this too in the male and subverted version of this trope. Even though he was a 'failed' Super-Soldier product and Celestial Being never treated him as a living tool, he was aware that as a Super-Soldier, fighting is already part of his job and his responsibility.
      • After the horrifying Break the Cutie process that she was subjected to, Louise Halevy became one of these as a The Mentally Disturbed Dark Action Girl who wants nothing but revenge against those who broke her and being groomed as Ribbons' personal puppet to become pseudo-Innovator which it against her will. She eventually gets better, but it takes her (and her boyfriend Saji Crossroad) pretty much going to Hell and back for their common happy ending.
  • Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu — has Kana Iriya piloting a super-advanced fighter jet. She's not oppressed, but she is the only one who can pilot it.
  • Macross II — Ishtar is an emulator, a tool of the Marduk who can motivate Zentran to fight to the death with creepy singing. She is rescued by the hero early on, so naturally the Marduk try to recapture her. Played With because the hero hooks up with someone else in the end
  • Lily-Strosek of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, the love interest of the main protagonist, Thoma, and the fourth of the rare Strosek series of Reactor Plugs which take the shape of organic lifeforms. At least two enemy factions are interested in her.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion — Rei Ayanami qualifies to the point of inspiring her own subtrope. Kaworu also matches the trope, albeit for different reasons.
  • Melfina from Outlaw Star is this for the Outlaw Star. Both she and the ship were created to locate a legendary space treasure built by an ancient alien race.

    Fan Fiction 
  • The main premise of Gundam Seed Bloodlines is that Kira and Cagalli's positions from the series are reversed, which, given what we know about Kira's origins, may qualify Cagalli Yamato as a rare one of these who gets to be The Hero.
    • Chapter 50 seems to confirm that this is indeed the case.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Storm is an intentional "Phlebotinum Girl as The Hero" fic, inspired by what the author sees as the mishandling of the character of Soma Peiris in Gundam 00 (it was originally intended to be a 00 fic, but was chained to an alternate universe with its own characters, both due to core story elements being incompatible, and wanting to avoid pulling a Ron the Death Eater on Allelujah).


    Live Action TV 
  • In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.
  • Max in Dark Angel.
  • Steven Moffat is a fan of them. In order to subvert the Time Lord/Companion relationship, he puts them on semi-equal footing by interweaving them into the Doctor's long life.
    Joe Ford: River Song and her scattered narrative, meeting the Doctor in the wrong order. Amy Pond, the Girl Who Waited. Clara Oswald, the Impossible Girl who was scattered through the Doctor's timeline. And now Ashildr, the girl who lived forever mopping up the consequences of the Doctor's adventures. All of these women have something vital in common, beyond the hook they are hung on they really aren't very interesting.
  • Enterprise — The Romulans employ a special gifted psychic alien in some kind of neural interface to pilot their cloaking ship from a base on their homeworld. A major plot point is recovering the said alien. Sounds as if Brannon Braga's been raiding story ideas from B5 again.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue has Noel Vermillion (who was really Mu-12 all along) after she's mindraped and "tempered" into a Attack Animal by Terumi, She gets better thanks to Ragna in the game's true ending) and Ada, Carl Clover's Cool Big Sis who was converted into his Nox Nictores, Nirvana, by his father in the backstory ( he also did the same to his mother).
  • Final Fantasy VI
    • Terra starts out under Kefka's mind control, and can use special functions of Magitek Armor thanks to her innate magic. The game starts with her being injured trying to escape The Empire and is rescued by Locke.
    • Celes is also this to a lesser extent, and also joins the party after defecting, with the help of Locke again.
  • Final Fantasy VII
    • Aerith is an extremely tragic example, being the last of the Cetra.
  • Front Mission Evolved — Adela has a very dark history with the E.D.G.E. system and ends up under S.C.I.O.N.'s control whenever she uses it, especially in the end stretch of the single-player game. This mind control is of course broken via the hero shouting at her. Played With because the hero has a higher aptitude for the E.D.G.E. system since his father probably designed it specially for him. Also, in the end, it's the hero's mech that gets trashed, while Adela's mech is just fine.
  • M4A1 from Girls' Frontline is the leader of the AR Team, an elite squad of prototype Tactical Dolls. M4 is unique even for AR Team in that her Neural Cloud was based on the brain scan of a dead girl, which attracts the attention of Sangvis Ferri (whose Mastermind was also based on the same brain scan, and wants to merge with M4 in order to become "complete"), the New Soviet Union military (who wants to use her as bait to draw out said Mastermind), and Paradeus ( who sees M4 as the second coming of Lunasia, the aforementioned dead girl whom the leader of Paradeus is trying to resurrect). This constant tug-and-pull between factions takes a huge toll on M4's psyche, to the point where she suffers multiple breakdowns and a suicide attempt.
  • Guilty Gear — Dizzy is the last Gear as far as most people are aware and starts out under the control of Testament, but is eventually rescued.
  • Jack, aka Subject Zero, from Mass Effect 2 is a rather nasty example. As the result of a Cerberus experiment into creating artificial biotics, she was subjected to horrific Mind Rape and inhumane testing, causing her to become an Ax-Crazy mass murderer who had to be locked away on a prison ship. She can get better if Commander Shepard helps her work through her issues, though.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots — The Beauty and the Beast squad, and to a lesser extent, the FROGs, who were traumatised by war and dealt with it by becoming powered armour wearing cyborgs. None of them become a Love Interest (as if the game would let Snake be happy) but you do have the option of knocking them out instead of killing them (which earns you the ability to disguise Snake as them).
  • Panzer Dragoon Saga — Azel is one of the last drones left alive, and therefore able to use the ancient technology of the Precursors. She starts out under The Empire's control and fights Edge, but is later freed.
  • Nei from Phantasy Star II is a humanoid Biomonster and Rolf's childhood friend, and his constant companion on his quest to save Mota. As is revealed, however, Nei and her sister Neifirst were created by a malfunction in the Biosystems Lab, and they aren't "desirable" so much as "feared," with their creators trying and failing to destroy them. Nei chose to live among humans, while Neifirst seeks to destroy all of humanity out of revenge. Both are ultimately pawns of a greater evil, and perish in the destruction of Climatrol.
  • Pokémon Colosseum — Rui can see dark auras around Shadow Pokemon, which is the only way to identify them so they can be snagged and purified.
  • Latooni from Super Robot Wars: Original Generation was a member of The School which used a combination of brainwashing and drugs to train Mecha pilots. Bonus points for having white hair. Slightly subverted in that she wasn't the only student, and there were both boys and girls.
  • Valkyrie Profile — Shiho was raised from a young age to inspire soldiers to fight harder, but then she crosses paths with the enemy general Suo. Since this is Valkyrie Profile, this results in both of their deaths, and they only find love in an optional cutscene in the afterlife.
  • Xenogears — Elehaym, complete with Gundam-style bits. She gets stuck on the enemy side, opposing the party, at least twice.

    Visual Novels 
  • Cardia in Code:Realize is a beautiful, doll-like young woman whose body contains a deadly, corrosive poison which melts anything she touches. She's sought after by most of the game's villains for the Horologium, a crystal embedded in her chest which is both the source of the poison in her body and a potential source of nearly-unlimited energy; between this and the way that most people react when they see her poison in action, she's frequently at the center of both extraordinary events and some very ugly conflicts even though all she wants is to be able to touch someone without hurting them.

  • Elf Blood — SKO and TKO were products of the Council's Project K, a genetic design program to promote the growth of test subjects into supersoldiers who were hyper-compatible with the latest iteration of their Magitek implants. Further compounded by training from childhood for psychic domination and assassination, respectively.
  • The main character of Outsider, Alex Jardin, may be a Spear Counterpart (or straight up inversion, depending on how you look at it). The age is right, he has special powers (immune to telepathy and farsensing) compared to the Loroi (to whom he is the equivalent of a Human Alien), he's certainly being vied over by what looks like every faction that knows he exists after being thrust into a war not his own, and there has been some Ship Tease between him and the female Loroi. Additionally, there's a potential connection between his 'powers' and the incredibly plot-relevant new technology boasted about by the Umiak that looks like it's about to turn the tide of the war.