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The heart of the vessel, so to speak.

Dr. Orpheus: It's powered by a FORSAKEN CHILD!?
Dr. Venture: Might be, kind of — I mean, I didn't use the whole thing!
The Venture Bros., "Eenie, Meenie, Minie... Magic"
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A piece of Applied Phlebotinum that doesn't work unless you pay a really ghastly price... or have someone else pay that price for you.

Can have The Dark Side effect, as in being willing to pay the price can make you more evil. May be the result of a Deal With The (Super-Powerful Alien) Devil. See also Black Magic and Utopia Justifies the Means. In those cases it is much of the time a justified example of a Moral Event Horizon since The Dark Arts frequently require leaving empathy behind to go on.

May be a form of Aesoptinum. Very common in Fantastic Aesop stories. May use Human Resources or a Captured Super-Entity as the Power Source. If done on a wide enough scale, it becomes Industrialized Evil.

Compare Artifact of Doom and May Contain Evil. Contrast Psycho Serum, for which the users themselves generally pay the price. See also Mainlining the Monster, Human Sacrifice, and Horror Hunger. This is a type of Living Battery. Hamster-Wheel Power plays it for laughs.

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  • A bit of Fridge Horror for this one but watch the Cap'n Crunch Commercials: To make the transition from live to cartoon via Crunitize they are turned into the cereal, so does that mean the cereal is made of little children who couldn't survive Crunitizeing?

    Anime & Manga 
  • In InuYasha the titular character at first believes that to empower Tetsusaiga to shatter barriers he needs to slay Shiori, a half-demon child who creates a powerful barrier for her demon-bat kin. Averted when Inu-Yasha refuses to follow through. Shiori then gives him the focusing jewel she used to create the barriers which is able to empower the blade.
  • In Fractale, the world is maintained under a massive integrated system with a central program based off a human girl who, unbeknownst to the people who constructed the system, had been sexually abused by her father until she regressed to a childlike state. In order to refresh the system and prevent total breakdown, they need to not only clone said girl, but also install that same childlike personality into her by subjecting her to similar abuse, to make her as similar to the original as possible.
  • Gunparade March the mechas require young children with a genetic trait to run them. But because such children are hard to come by, they genetically engineer them. The side effect is that their growth is arrested at around eight years old.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers has the Saint's Cradle, a massively overpowered Cool Starship that can only power-up when commanded by a direct descendant of the Saint Kings of Ancient Belka. The problem? The last Saint King died over a hundred years ago without any heirs, so their bloodline is effectively extinct. So what is a Mad Scientist to do? Why, clone the last Kaiser, infuse said clone (despite her being a six year old girl, the one pictured above) with a Lost Logia, torture her until she is under his complete control, then make her activate the Cradle, despite how utterly painful the process is for her. The problem with that? Little Vivio just had to go and get herself adopted by not one, but two Action Moms — both of whom qualify at this point in the series as People of Mass Destruction, and are less than happy with this Mad Scientist's shit.
  • In Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Magnostadt is a Magocracy where 2/3 of the population lives underground, their magoi running the magical items that make the surface a paradise. Some people are surprisingly okay with this, since they provided for without having to actually work, but sucks if you want to survive a common cold or ever see the sky again.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Kyubey's Magical Girl system is this in a nutshell. Rip out the souls of pubescent magical girls and make them suffer the Tragic consequences of their wishes until their souls shatter and they mutate into reality-warping Eldritch Abominations, all to stave off the heat death of the universe. The universe is literally powered by the souls of dead children.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, as a child, Asuna Vesperina Theotanasia Entheofushia was an Artificial Human used to power the magic-cancelling defense system of Ostia while bound in chains. Later she was also used to power the magic-cancelling spell that would have destroyed the whole Magic World. Thanks to everyone's joint effort at containment, only the whole of Ostia was destroyed. The resulting mental trauma from being used as the power source to destroy a whole country was probably one of the reasons Nagi and party decided to wipe her memory and send her to Earth, so she could live a normal life as a schoolgirl named Asuna Kagurazaka.
  • In Katekyō Hitman Reborn!, the first generation of the Gola Mosca were powered by Dying Will Flames. As shown when Tsuna rips the Gola Mosca attacking Hibari and his friends apart and discovers a person inside of it. The situation is made worse for Tsuna since it was his grandfather, the 9th head of the Vongola family inside of it.
  • In Noein, the only thing protecting La'cryma from the encroachment of Shangri-la is a quantum computer powered by the humans embedded within it.
  • In The Vision of Escaflowne Abridged, Emperor Donkirk became ruler of Zaibach by inventing a machine like this, one that turns blood into oil. As he put it "Cutting out the middle man"
  • The Record of a Fallen Vampire: The Black Swan parasite inhabits teenage girls to kill the Strauss. If they can't, they are themselves killed by the Black Swan, usually in about 5 years. Also, the Black Swan itself was made from the souls of Stella and her and Strauss' unborn daughter. Really sad.
  • In the original Blue Drop manga, the Arume use their own children as bomb disposal units. They also use synthetic ones, but the "sacrifice" of the Arume children is more "beautiful" in the Arume's way of thinking—even though the synthetic children are full-blown sentient beings in their own right.
  • Most of Fullmetal Alchemist revolves around figuring out what makes the Human Resources work best, since live human beings are ingredients to creating certain powerful artifacts. It is eventually stated that the Amestrian Alchemy draws its power from human soul-energy provided by Father but the Xingese Purification Arts and Xerxes Alchemy are clean. As the series progresses it is revealed that Amestrian Alchemy really does derive from the Earth's energies as originally taught, but Father keeps a buffer that prevents alchemy's full usage and forces them to draw from the human soul-energy in his Philosopher's Stone. This conveniently gives him an "off switch" to every Amestrian's alchemy whenever he needs it. The Xingese were feeling this, by the way. More to the point, the human souls power (and create) the Philosopher's Stone.
    • Most interestingly, despite Hohenheim being a Humanoid Abomination composed of Many Spirits Inside of One who fuels his alchemy, he's come to an understanding with each and every souls within him and often express regret that he has to use his friends in this way. The souls in return, agree to be used this way, and at one point actually cheered on him and even urged him to use more of them to gain the necessary power to hold off the Big Bad's assaults.
    • This is different in the 2003 anime version, where it's revealed that alchemy instead draws its power from the souls of humans from a parallel universe— ours, in fact. Since our world is in the midst of World War I at the time (and not mentioned, but soon to be followed by the even more lethal 1918 Spanish flu pandemic) there are an abundance of souls for the alchemists to draw on.
  • Film continuity Galaxy Express 999 had the upper class using android bodies, powered by tiny energy cells that were made by harvesting humans. (The aristocrats with android bodies in the TV series continuity do slaughter humans, but only because they're really, really, bored.)note 
  • Space Battleship Yamato 2199: The Cosmo Reverser System, sought after by the crew of the Yamato to reverse the destruction wrought on their planet, requires the memories of someone from the earth in order to work. The stored consciousness of Mamoru Kodai was originally meant to be used to facilitate this, but his spirit activated the system early so it could revive Yuki Mori for his brother, Susumu. When Captain Okita passes away shortly after the Yamato comes into range of Earth, though, his spirit restarts the system and saves the earth.
  • In the Ghost in the Shell franchise, it is possible to produce hyper-real androids with all the neurological affectations of a living human via electronic "Ghost Dubbing". This process drains and kills the original after only a few copies are made, and in the Ghost In The Shell universe, it is a serious crime punishable by life in prison or getting your brain wiped; plotlines concerning the process appeared in Ghost In The Shell: Innocence, a few Stand Alone Complex episodes, and the original manga.
  • In Innocent Venus, artificially created children provide the neural systems in the mechas so that they are psychically compatible with the pilots. The memories of the trauma inflicted on them remain in the mechas, making it dangerous for pilots to stay psychically linked to their mechas for too long...
  • In Kurau Phantom Memory, human beings are deliberately afflicted with Rynax energy in an attempt to turn them into superweapons. Since Rynax energy consists of sentient beings, this procedure almost always causes a lot of misery for all involved test subjects.
  • In Mai-HiME, the summon monsters controlled by the HiME are tied to the life force of their "most important person" (a family member, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.). If that monster is destroyed in combat, the person dies with it and fades into the ether, also robbing the HiME of her abilities. This leaves a possibility that the killed character can be brought back to life, but this doesn't come into play until the very end.
    • Similarly, in Mai-Otome, the Otome usually can only use their robes after linking themselves to the life of a master.
    • Also, the dead body of Arika's Missing Mom Rena Sayers is the Predecessor of the Valkyries. Whether or not she was brought back to life and is merely in a comatose state is open for debate.
  • One episode of the OVA Mini Series MAPS (and presumably the original manga) featured a Wave Motion Gun that was powered by the psychic energy released by hundreds of small animals being brutally killed en masse. The Gecko Ending of the anime series revealed that the MacGuffin, the Star Maps, were meant to be used to target a galactic-scale version of the weapon.
  • The titular cyborgs from Neon Genesis Evangelion are made from the cybernetically modified cloned flesh of the very beings they're used to fight and the souls of the mothers of the various pilots. And they're piloted by forsaken children, themselves, including a girl who is one of many clones of one of the aforementioned mothers (Rei), alongside that mother's son and the clone girl's brother (Shinji) and the daughter of another woman driven mad by an Eva-related experiment (Asuka).
  • Naruto:
    • The lore has it that members of the Uchiha clan can only get the Mangekyo Sharingan by killing their best friend. Later events show that they "only" need the tragic death of a loved one, killed by them or not. But once you've done that, the fun really begins: using the Mangekyo Sharingan causes blindness and the only way to restore your vision permanently is to take the eyes of someone else who also possesses it, preferably a relative.
      • Kakashi's own Sharingan, which helped make him one of the most powerful shinobi around, was transplanted from his dying best friend Obito, a death Kakashi blames on himself. Kakashi and Obito/Tobi obtained the Mangekyo at the same time when Kakashi killed the Brainwashed and Crazy Rin, the partner whom both of them cared for.
    • Akatsuki member Kakuzu was able to obtain immortality by stealing his opponents' hearts.
    • Fellow Akatsuki member Sasori makes puppets out of people. And he's not the only one, either: it's a technique that was taught to him by his grandmother Chiyo.
    • Jugo can replace injured organs and body parts by absorbing those of other people. However, he's a nice enough guy that he restricts this to people who are already dead and even then only in emergencies.
    • Impure World Resurrection resurrects one dead person as an undying slave of the technique's user, at the cost of a live person used as a medium.
  • Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry has the evil Deague searching for "samples", i.e. the mysterious alien Emilys. What they are samples of is the alien race that was dissected — without anaesthetic — to create the first mimics; the two Emilys in the series are the last living one and the last non-scrapped mimic with a still-living alien brain inside.
  • Serial Experiments Lain features a scientist who tried to tap the psychic energy of hundreds of children, apparently draining them and leaving them in a deep coma.
    • There seemed to be a some sort of explosion caused by an overflow of psychic energy, dissolving the children's bodies, trapping them forever in the Wired. The scientist comments how no matter what he does, bringing them back to real world is impossible.
  • In Vandread, the enemy's planet harvest organs to support themselves on a planet so polluted that they had to convert the entire surface into a giant machine. The enemy has gone as far as to manipulate the cultures of human colonies to cater to the harvest. The home world, Earth, has declared this necessary for continuation of humanity. All human colonies are just "parts" and are expected to fulfill their "purpose".
    • The bloody war between men and women in the protagonists' home system exists only to prime sexual dimorphism for the reaping.
    • A planet of telepaths have had a strong oral tradition until their vocal cords were stolen. They developed their ability to compensate.
  • In Witchblade the I-Weapons are corpses that had a cloneblade stuck on them.
  • Orbo, the fluid in Witch Hunter Robin that nullifies witchcraft, is later discovered as being made out of the drained bodily fluids of the witches everyone thought were being humanely imprisoned. Made especially horrifying, as many of the sometimes-innocent witches, including children, had character development earlier in the series.
    • There was also a witch whose power allowed him to sacrifice people to heal others. However, he only killed crooks, and eventually himself.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • The Millennium Items are revealed to be created with the souls of 99 slaughtered victims. In the original Japanese version, they were created by literally mixing the flesh, blood, and bones of the victims into the gold used to cast them.
    • Also, the Duel Monsters used in the show are actually the souls of at least several citizens and soldiers from Ancient Egypt during Pharaoh Atem's rule, if not from billions of people in the anime's past. For example, Yugi's signature card, Dark Magician, contains the soul of one of the Pharaoh's most trusted priests (Mahad) while Dark Magician Girl is apparently said priest's apprentice (Mana).
    • In Yu Gi Oh Zexal, Dr. Faker is attacking the Astral World by using Haruto's Psychic Powers to bombard it with trash.
    • And in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, the Professor's ARC-V machine requires the souls of thousands of people in order fuse the dimensions together, as well as to re-assemble his daughter. The latter part also requires him to use her four reincarnations as components. He succeeds in bringing his daughter back to life, but at the cost of Yuzu, Serena, Rin and Ruri.
  • Romeo X Juliet eventually reveals that Neo Verona's prosperity (and continued existence) is contingent on the willing sacrifice of the daughters of House Capulet, who become integrated with Escalus and bound to it for eternity. This does not sit well with Juliet's boyfriend Romeo, who fights first Juliet (the Sole Survivor of the Capulet clan) and then Ophelia (the guardian of Escalus itself) to save her from her cruel fate; in the end, however, Romeo dies right after defeating Ophelia, destroying Escalus in the process. Juliet then saves Neo Verona by turning herself into a new Escalus... but with the implication that the cycle of sacrifice that sustained Neo Verona in the past has finally been broken.
  • Digimon Savers has the good Dr. Kurata, who removes the hearts of digimon in order to transform them into his Mecha-Mooks, the Gizmon. It goes further when he starts collecting digimon life energy to resurrect the Demon Lord Belphemon.
  • A quite literal (and disturbing, especially for a kids' show) application of this trope occurred in another Digimon series, Digimon Tamers. The Big Bad D-Reaper is a mass of otherworldly energy which intends to slowly consume the entire world. Held captive at its core, though, is Juri Katou, a very young girl who is in deep despair over the death of her best friend and Digimon partner, which was the final and hardest blow to her after several years of quiet and hidden suffering started by her mom's demise. The D-Reaper is literally powered by Juri's misery.
  • Gundam, in its usual mode of showing the horrors of war upon innocent youths, is fond of this trope:
    • One of the earliest examples is Mobile Suit Victory Gundam's Angel Halo, a huge Zanscare fortress that contains a MASSIVE Mind Rape machine (basically, a whole fortress with psycommus all over), powered by 20,000 "psyickers", all Newtypes who have been placed into capsules and put into constant trance to amplify the powers of a single Newtype (Queen Maria, and later her daughter Shakti); with it, the Zanscare Empire can collectively mindrape the whole population of Earth if they wish so. (Too bad that Shakti doubled as a Messianic Archetype and the Spanner in the Works. Too bad for Zanscare, that is.)
    • After War Gundam X
      • In the Ocean Story Arc, a group of pirates who use special radar systems made from the brains of dolphins. By the end of the arc the systems are destroyed.
      • Before this there was the MAN-003 Patulia, a Mobile Armor that required a Newtype (in this case, an Ill Boy artificial Newtype named Caris Nautilus) to operate its wired beam cannons. Said Newtype was rescued before the machine could consume him.
      • Another Newtype ( an adult Girl in a Box named Lucille Lilliant) was sought after to force her lend her massive Newtype powers to those who found her and her capsule. The Lorelei arc was focused on the Freeden crew finding said Newtype first and saving her. They succeed, and Lucille is able to peacefully pass away after being 15 years in a forced coma.
    • The Devil Gundam from Mobile Fighter G Gundam was created to operate at its strongest if a being that has the power to create life is its core. In other words, a woman. Unfortunately for Allenby Beardsley and Rain Mikamura, the local Action Girls, both were seize by the villains and became "candidates" to be place in the core; when a Brainwashed and Crazy Allenby was saved by Rain from this, she was left as the only one within range of the Big Bad so he'd use her to engage in the final phase of his plan. Fortunately for Rain, her Love Interest Domon, Domon's True Companions (all of them also fond of Rain herself), many other Gundam Fighters and the newly-recovered Allenby were not about to let that happen.
    • The Boosted Men/Extended from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED can be examples of this trope - child soldiers specifically developed with drugs, mental conditioning, and a horrific training program, creating Naturals that could properly compete with Coordinators. They're even classified as equipment under "biological CPU" rather than pilots. Stella Loussier especially, once she takes control of the Destroy Gundam- a humongous Gundam (by Gundam standards) designed to level entire cities in a matter of minutes.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam AGE a captured Yurin L'Ciel is strapped into the cockpit of a pink mobile suit and used as an amplifier for Desil's powers. It ends as well as expected.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, the Gundam Frames require the Alaya-Vijnana interface to be piloted, which is a risky surgery operation that must be performed on a child in order to be effective (so the child's developing nervous system incorporates the technology). On top of that, overuse of the Alaya-Vijnana can cause severe neurological damage, especially when the limiters on the system are released. When Mikazuki briefly released them at the end of the first season, he permanently lost sight in his right eye as well as the use of his right arm, except when he's hooked up to the Gundam. One shudders to think what piloting a Gundam was like before those limiters were put in place.
    • Another Gundam example would be the EXAM System from the Blue Destiny video game and related media. Accidentally created when something went wrong with attempt to make an anti-Newtype system, resulting in the consciousness and "soul" of the Newtype participating in the procedure being sealed within the machine...which apparently allowed it to be copied and split between the four EXAM computers built. The spirit of the trapped girl tries to communicate with the pilots, begging them to destroy EXAM so she can be at peace; Yuu Kajima agrees, while Nimbus Schterzen is convinced he's The Chosen One and wants to destroy every EXAM except the one in his machine.
    • In the non-canon crossover between Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ and Space Runaway Ideon, Neo Zeon planned to use seven-year-old Princess Mineva Lao Zabi and her Newtype powers to reawaken Ideon. All it did was piss off the mecha and force Amuro Ray and Judau Ashta to save her and put it down.
  • Project ARMS. Pretty much literally. Almost every Egrigori experiment uses a child as the test subject. Most prominent are the Keith clones which were implanted with the first ARMS, many of which turned into monsters as a result, the Chapel children who were given drugs while in the womb to make them super smart and work as scientists for the group, various mutant and psychic children taken to be soldiers, and Alice who was on the research team and whose dying body was bonded to an alien lifeform and became a computer controlling the Egrigori. There's also the other ARMS teens, who were specially genetically engineered to be soldiers to take down the Egrigori.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • The magic in the parallel world comes from the lives of the people from the normal world.
    • In a filler arc the Infinity Clock requires a Celestial Mage as a sacrifice to fully work. The person the villains use is Lucy. She is absorbed but this comes to bite Brain the Second in the ass when she uses the power of the clock against him.
    • It is revealed that the daughter of Gray's teacher, Ur had too much magic energy in her body, which was making her ill, because of her naturally high level of magic energy she was taken away and experimented on (her mother believed her to be dead, while she believed her mother abandon her.) It's not completely clear whether Ultear was just experimented on or if her magical energy was somehow being used to power the facility)
  • Elfen Lied has Number 28 and the vector tank. The less said about how they operate, the better you'll sleep at night.
  • In Bokurano, the energy that fuels the Humongous Mecha is the Life Energy of the pilot. Meaning, whoever pilots it to save the world will die immediately after the fight is over.
    • Moreover, it's theorized (and strongly implied) that the younger a person is, the more Life Energy he or she has. Which is offered as an explanation for why it's preferable for teenagers and little kids to fight and die in huge terrifying mecha battles, even when they join up with the army, and have access to combat-trained volunteers - it certainly explains why Koyemshi is so adamant into having Kana Ushiro, the youngest of the group at age 10, to pilot it. The world of Bokurano is such a nice place, isn't it?
  • The Reverse Explosion system in 009-1, which is powered up by the Psychic Link between the mutants in the world, many of them just being children. Mylene, the titular 009-1 agent, decides to go rogue to stop it.
  • An episode of Betterman reveals that an "unmanned" mech is actually piloted by another character's "dead" baby brother - now effectively a Brain in a Jar. Releasing him really does kill him.
  • A short film called Kakurenbo had kids being hunted by demons through an empty city, and when they were caught, they were plugged into a generator just like every other group of children to play the game before them, presumably so the lights would lure more children to come and play.
  • RahXephon. The huge mecha style beings attacking the city are in fact psychically linked to people within the city. Thus when the being is damaged so is the person they're linked to. There is a rather interesting plot twist in that a young girl who's in love with the protagonist and whom he swore to protect... turns out to be one of those people and he ends up killing her, while believing that he's protecting her. Cue very unterstandable angst when this happens.
  • Junior, from RO Dthe TV appears first as a mysterious, effeminate child antagonist, working as a secret agent for the British Library towards their heinous goal. He's lived a lonely life, and is automatically drawn to those that show him kindness. However, after his Heel–Face Turn it becomes apparent that Junior was kidnapped as a baby from his I-jinn mother (Nancy) and had basically been his entire life to become a vessel for The Gentleman. The process involves having all the old man's information DOWNLOADED into his brain. And ... what's supposed to happen to him? Um, you don't want to know.
  • In Bleach, Aizen nonchalantly reveals that he fed his Hogyoku with souls of Hollows and Shinigami alike. He implies this is one of the few ways to awaken it/make it evolve. One of his victims was actually a pre-teen Rangiku Matsumoto, who had a good part of her soul stolen to power it up - this prompted Rangiku's best friend Gin Ichimaru to become Aizen's Dragon with an Agenda. Also Hollows like to eat human children or hollow children as much as anything else.
  • In the Battle of the Planets episode 'The Space Beetles', the title mechas were powered by kidnapped children. Making the premise even MORE evil than the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman episode it was derived from (which simply used children's destructive instincts to direct the mechas).
    • But they still retained the children inside them, making them effective hostages.
    • The G-Force: Guardians of Space version had the beetles powered by the destructive impulses -and Gallactor was going to turn the four boys into Brains in Jars to make things 'simpler'.
  • In the Sailor Moon Super S movie, Queen Badiane wanted to use all of the children on Earth like this, kidnapping them and putting them on stasis to feed off their dreams.
  • Taken as literally as possible in Sword of the Stranger. The antagonists want to sacrifice Kotaro, an orphaned child, to make their emperor immortal. They don't quite manage to carry out the sacrifice, of course, so we never find out whether it would have worked. They do, however, paint their entire gigantic altar red with chicken blood as part of the ceremony.
  • In the Kikaider OVA series, an enormous doomsday device requires Dr. Gill's son to power it.
  • In Magic Knight Rayearth, many characters, including the heroines of the story, have come to regard the Pillar system as one. This is because said Pillar is completely trapped by his or her mission as such, even the littlest desire for anything NOT related to Cephiro's happiness will "taint" them and cause the land to start falling apart, and only death will release them.
  • Yuui and Fay in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, in an Omelas-esque fashion. Since the people of their country believe that twins inherently bring misfortune to those around them, it's decided that the two kids should be sent to the Sinners' Valley, a hellish limbo of sorts, so this doesn't happen. It doesn't work.
  • Pasifica Cassul in Scrapped Princess may be considered this seeing as she was basically a nuke for the Church, she was meant to gather energy her whole life, and then die on her 16th birthday, releasing the energy and defeating God in order to set the world straight.
  • In Fate/Prototype, the preliminary version of Fate/stay night (as seen below), when Manaka Sajyou rose to the challenge of fulfilling the Grail's real purpose of raising The Beast, she used her powers to force a bunch of local girls to throw themselves alive into the Grail itself and power it up. She also killed her father Hiroki to use him as a sacrifice to the Grail, and would have done the same to her younger sister Ayaka if her Servant Saber didn't rebel himself against her orders and stabbed her to death.
  • In Toriko process of cooking the utimate ingredient from Acacia's menu happens to involve a lot of human sacrifices, because said ingredient requires a lot of energy, and without proper "fertilizer" to satiate it, will simply suck energy out of every living thing close to it, killing the person who cooks it. Humans just happen to be perfectly fit for a role of fertilizer.
  • In order to become an Apostle or a God Hand in Berserk, the "candidate" has to sacrifice the person (or people) they most love, who are then Branded and usually eaten alive by demons in the most horrible fashion possible. This betrayal serves to sever the newborn Apostole's ties to humanity and allow true evil to enter his or her soul. For worse, this can only happen during the lowest point of the future Apostle's whole life, when they're at their most vulnerable and liable to make the required Deal with the Devil and throw his/her loved ones away to make them into this.
  • In Little Witch Academia, Shiny Chariot learns a spell from her best friend Croix that uses dreams and emotions to allow for greater spectacles at her stage shows. What Croix doesn't tell her is that this spell uses a person's dreams and converts it into magical energy, depriving the target of their magical ability. The main characters Akko and Diana were at one of Chariot's shows when they were young children. Yet when they meet again years later, Diana eventually regained her magical ability after discovering she had lost it, while Akko is left unable to even fly on a broom, the simplest of witch skills.
  • In My Hero Academia, the Shi Hassaikai are producing Power Nullifier bullets that disable the Quirk factor through the use of a little girl who has a Quirk that allows her to rewind things back to a previous state (for example, she accidentally erased her father from existence). They do this by harvesting her blood and tissues as prime matter for the bullets until she's dead. Then their leader Overhaul, who has the power to deconstruct and reconstruct anything he touches, brings her back to life to repeat the process. Midoriya and Mirio are absolutely disgusted in themselves that they weren't able to immediately save her when they encountered her beforehand after they found out. Even the former leader of the Shi Hassaikai was appalled by the lengths Overhaul was going to in order to gain power.

    Comic Books 
  • In the last post-Zero Hour volume of DC's Legion of Super-Heroes, there was a new galaxy-level faster-than-light spaceship drive introduced by the government of the United Planets. The Legion discovered that the drive power sources were living and sentient beings who had been created by the government via the abduction, torture, and genetic splicing of citizens of two of the United Planets' member worlds - and that being used to power the drives put them through agonizing pain and slowly killed them.
  • A Marvel Comics crossover storyline had the villainous Secret Empire capture mutants to drain their greater-than-normal psychic energy to power weapons and vehicles to take over the U.S.
    • The events are later revisited in the short prose story "Firm Commitments", told from the point of view of a scientist who discovers the immense thermodynamics-breaking potential of Mutant neurons, gets involved with events far greater than himself, and has his life ruined as a result.
  • Doctor Doom permanently sealed his position as truly evil rather than arrogant Well-Intentioned Extremist when he tracked down his first love, convinced her he had abandoned his technology and evil ways, then sacrificed her to demons in order to boost his magic powers as a complement to his genius tech. The demons then gave him a cloak made from her flesh, which he wore.
  • During the Messiah War X-Men storyline, an alternate future version of Kiden Nixon is used by Stryfe to empower a machine that prevents time-travelling.
  • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, there is no Superman or Batman; the most powerful superheroes are their Distaff Counterparts, Supergirl and Batgirl. Batgirl is trying to take down Lex Luthor, and elicits a reluctant Supergirl's help. They both travel deep underground Metropolis, trying to find the 'clean fuel source' that Lex Luthor discovered for the city years ago. It turns out that it's her cousin Kal-El...who never got to grow up, but died as an infant in a jar. But considering that this is Lex Luthor, are we truly surprised he'd stoop so low?
  • Green Lantern:
    • The power rings of the death worshipping Black Lantern Corps of Blackest Night don't rely on emotions like the others. Instead they are powered by killing a lot of people. Killing a person and stealing their heart restores 0.01% power to every ring in the Corps. So it takes about 10,000 hearts to recharge all the rings to maximum power, minus the power used to steal those hearts of course. And when all the rings are charged to 100%, Nekron appears.]]
    • Speaking of which, it's common knowledge that the rings of Green Lanterns and other similar corps run on emotions, but the Lights Out arc revealed the dirty little secret that they're finite power sources. Once those emotions dry up, the universe ends — and this isn't the first time it's happened.
  • Blue Mountain, home of the Gliders in ElfQuest, featured doors and ornaments that were maintained and controlled by rock shaper elves. Once free-willed elves, these rock shapers were so deeply sunken into meditation or mental numbness that they were oblivious to all but other Gliders' commands to open or close.
  • Frau Totenkinder of Fables sacrificed her own child in exchange for her considerable magical powers. In order to keep said powers, she also has to sacrifice one newborn every year. In modern times she has supposedly stopped killing infants and uses donated blood from newborn Fables instead. It's heavily implied that she also maintains her magic by working at an abortion clinic.
    • Actually, some of the text from that part implies she owns at least one abortion clinic, and generates power from that. And considering that this is NYC, imagine how many she ends up sacrificing and how much extra power that gives her. Here's a hint - In Queens alone there are almost 20,000 a year, and only 10 places to get them.
    • As Frau Totenkinder's encounters with Hansel and Gretel (shown in flashbacks) indicate, in a pinch a child of any age will do. Kay's comments also indicates that Totenkinder sacrifices hundreds, possibly thousands, of children, upon which the old witch says she 'invests her money in perfectly legal ways among the Mundy'.
  • The Iron Man miniseries Hypervelocity reveals that the AI used for Life Model Decoys and elsewhere in the Marvel Universe — such as the Virtual Ghost backup of Tony Stark who's the series' protagonist — was based on horrific human experimentation. The bad guys in the series are the Virtual Ghosts of some of the test subjects.
  • Iron Heights, the horrendous supervillain prison for the enemies of The Flash, is powered by Fallout, a man who was irradiated and accidentally killed his family. He is so irradiated that he needs to be quarantined so that his energy can be safely released. When the Flash first sees him, the process for powering the prison is extremely painful. He later makes the warden change the system so that Fallout is more comfortable.
    • This is oddly similar to The Dark Knight Strikes Again, where Flash himself is used to power an entire city by essentially running on a giant hamster wheel all day, every day.
  • Emperor Palpatine did this to maintain his immortality. To be exact, he dreamt of conquering the entire universe and drawing on the Force from every individual for the sole purpose of keeping himself, and possibly Darth!Luke alive for all eternity. And yes, all Sith are obsessed with immortality.
  • In an obvious shoutout to The Matrix, Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog features a new creation by Dr. Eggman/Robotnik after the Roboticizer is rendered obsolete: the Egg Grape Chambers. Eggman captures Mobians in them and uses their life force for power. This slowly drains their memory as well. Left too long, they can be killed, or at the very least left with amnesia of varying degrees.
    • The use of someone's life force for energy is also the principle behind the energy weapons and rockets built into Bunnie's robotic limbs. One enemy (the Iron Queen), who usurped control of her robotics, tried to use this to kill her via overexertion.
  • In the Mystique comic, there's a mutant who can control all machines and gets plugged into a giant device that requires her power to run. She's a little girl, of course.
  • DC Comics: The Reign In Hell miniseries reveals one of the more feared punishments of hell was becoming building materials.
  • Incorruptible. The Superman analogue goes quite insane after a living entity spreads itself by turning kids into skeleton zombies. 'Supes' caused this by negligence. Oops.
  • In Mark Waid's Empire, Golgoth has Endymion (essentially this Universe's Superman) hooked up to a machine that drains his blood and turns it into a hyper-addictive drug
  • Give Me Liberty has secret experiments performed with schizophrenic kids. One of them turns out to be a telepath.
  • A plot point in Teen Titans had Deathstroke's team breaking up a drug manufacturing ring that created Bliss, a drug literally made from children. It's later revealed that the reason for Roy Harper's behavior while supposedly on heroin (supposedly in that there was no way a man on heroin would be able to fight like he was) was that Deathstroke was secretly spiking his heroin with samples of Bliss.
  • Checkmate: In a story arc involving the Suicide Squad, the team is shown invading a power plant in a Southeast Asian dictatorship. A boy emitting solar power is hooked up to a machine siphoning the energy. They break him out, but leave him in the Mirror Dimension, on orders to make sure he is no longer a threat to American interests.
  • In the 2008 Guardians of the Galaxy series, the alien Universal Church of Truth powers its technology with "Belief Engines", generators that draw on the faith of its legion of worshippers. At least one of their starships is shown carrying storage banks full of the faithful, kept in stasis and wired directly into the ship's power systems.
  • The X-Men storyline that introduced the Brood established that the Brood's Space Whale ships are made of the Acanti, huge alien life forms that float around space. The Brood capture them, lobotomize them and turn them into living vessels powered by pain.
  • During the "Home Schooling" arc of Runaways, when an injured Klara Prast accidentally raises a massive forest around their house, Nico and Karolina struggle to convince Victor and Chase to leave it alone, because they're afraid that the forest might be connected to Klara's own lifeforce, and therefore attacking it might cause her even further injury.
  • Lord Odion of Star Wars: Knight Errant abducted every child in his domain, so that he could instill despair in their hearts that, when harnessed by an ancient Sith artifact, would drive every living thing in the galaxy, and possibly the entire universe, into a murderous frenzy, leaving him the only person in existence.
  • A story in Heavy Metal Magazine depicted a disparate group of beings infiltrating and fighting their way through a high-tech structure, eventually reaching a computer resembling a huge, sleeping human face. They blasted open a dome on the forehead and remove... a baby. The only text is at the end, over panels of the group walking in a garden-like setting, in the style of an intelligence report on the destruction of the City of Om, caused by the failure of the central computer system known as The Dreamer, due to the removal of the "human component" known as "The Soul of The Dreamer", who is now "enjoying the ecstasy of life."
  • A classic House of Mystery story, "The Piper at the Gates of Hell!" has a village called Anyville have perfect consistent tranquility as long as they surrender an innocent to a demonic skeletal piper figure to be tormented forever every twenty years. When the brother of such an innocent is taken, he cannot let this custom continue and rescues him. However, the town pays the price as it is explodes into fiery chaos with the pact's abrogation. Only the brothers and their father are safe as they leave, praying that they will have the strength to resist the temptation of such a Deal with the Devil.
  • In one arc of Silver Surfer, the Surfer is conscripted to defend a massive, scientifically-impossible planet from the Queen of Nevers, the living embodiment of all possibility. It turns out that the city is powered by the Queen's heart, which was stolen from her by the planet's architects, and she needs the heart back or else the realm of possibilities will collapse.
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    Fan Works 
  • Aeon Natum Engel has a Patrone system being both using and used by Special Services sorcerers.
  • In Divine Blood, most of Kodachi Kunō's power comes from eating the minds of her mass produced daughters leaving their identities fragmented and their souls chained within hers.
  • Scapegoat is a Ah! My Goddess crossover (wouldn't do to spoil the cross) that explores this concept brilliantly.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the Pony POV Series, Fluttershy, upon learning how cruel the world can be, finds a source of powerful magic and sets out to turn Equestria into a perfect utopia by siphoning out all vices, sadness and wickedness of the world... using herself as container to hold them. She decides to bear all the evils of Equestria upon her back, and suffer eternally herself just so no one else has to ever suffer anymore. This also ends up grotesquely deforming her. She even refers to herself as the Forsaken Foal of Omelas.
    • In Rainbow Factory, rainbows are made out of foals who fail their flight exam. Specifically, their ribs are broken, and then they are mutilated in what is essentially a giant meat grinder.
      • The sequel, Pegasus Device, makes it worse by mentioning that the victims must be fully conscious, because the fear and pain is an integral part of the process.
    • The Powers of Harmony: Zemblaini sacrificed Horizon — a two-year-old foal — in order to use the innocence of his Lifeforce to force open the Gates of Tartarus and release Nightmare Moon's army. Celestia managed to link his remaining Lifeforce with the Echoes, stablizing him and keeping the Gates sealed. However, he's remained trapped there for the twenty years since, awaiting the day the Elements of Harmony are restored and used to undo the damage. And part of his mind is still aware...
    • The Dashverse story Hot Heads, Cold Hearts and Nerves of Steel starts with Sombra's minions kidnapping every foal in Ponyville and several other towns. Several chapters later, when said minions confront the Mane Six, they reveal that the reason the foals were taken was so Sombra can sacrifice them to empower himself.
    • In the Tarnished Silver series, Princess Celestia convinces herself (on scant to nonexistent evidence) that this is how Equestria works, so she sets out to clandestinely shield pedosadist slaver rings from justice such that an adequate population of forsaken children will be maintained.
  • When you learn that Dante is the doctor in the AU Fullmetal Alchemist fanfiction Asylum, you can tell that this trope will be in effect.... In this universe, Philosopher's Stones can be fueled by alchemic energy, but you can't get enough unless it's pushed through an alchemically potent human, or 'conduit.' If done in excess, this process will eventually turn the conduit into a Soulless Shell. Of course, Dante doesn't care much.
  • In Harry Potter and the Soul Gems a dark wizard used large diamonds containing the souls of children with special abilities to power the traps which protected the tombs he built for his clients.
  • In Episode 67 of Sonic X: Dark Chaos, Eggman and Rouge discover the truth behind Beelzebub's fake Chaos Emeralds; they're empowered by Dark Chaos Energy - produced by dozens of lobotomized slaves undergoing And I Must Scream.
  • In Death's Champion Hedwig tells Harry that it took the sacrifice of hundreds of human souls for the Flamels to create the Philosopher's Stone.
  • In Harry Potter and Godric's Legacy Voldemort performs an annual ritual which prevents him from dying by sacrificing an unborn child and sending its soul to hell in his place.
  • In The Power That's Inside, Pokemon power the human power grid in a gruesome way.
  • Blue Steel:
    Astoria: The Goblet of Fire is a Class One restricted item, held under the control of the Department of Mysteries. The creator was executed, after it was found that he had powered the charms with a blood sacrifice of five virgins, and that instead of charms there were in fact geases to ensure that those selected were forced to participate. The Wizengamot ordered that the Goblet be destroyed, but Silas Crotchworthy, the Minister at the time, overruled them and used it for the first Triwizard Tournament.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: The sequel Picking Up the Pieces reveals that the Hivemind Body, one of the three Pillars of a Changeling Hive, is created by fusing twelve Changeling infants into a single being, with their individual minds erased by the process. While they're so young that they had almost no conscious minds yet, the whole creation process and effect still horrifies Page, to the point where she mourns those who were sacrificed for it.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Monsters, Inc., the entire monster society is powered by the screams of children. Later on, we get introduced to the Scream Extractor, which fits this trope even better by sucking out the screams of a single kidnapped child in order to gain more power. Thankfully it never gets put into mass use, and in the end the monsters find a better power source — popping out of closets and making kids laugh instead of scream.
  • In Tangled Mother Gothel uses Rapunzel's magical hair, which Rapunzel inherited from birth due to a magic flower, to stay young and beautiful. She does this through kidnapping Rapunzel as a baby, tricking her into believing Gothel is her real mother, and manipulating her into staying in a tower her entire life.
  • In Pinocchio, boys are turned into donkeys and sold to saltmines, or end up working in circuses, on farms, or are made to pull the wagon that brings more boys to Pleasure Island.
  • There's a more mundane/clueless example in ParaNorman; the town of Blithe's Hollow depends on attracting tourists and selling them things based off of a witch-hanging done three hundred years ago. The witch is revealed to have been an eleven-year-old girl who was killed for being weird. It's only incidental that her ghost is sticking around, furious and unable to move on.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • According to Warlock, one of the ingredients of a flying potion is the rendered fat of an unbaptized child. While in modern times there are alternatives that are not fatal to the child, the character is from the 17th century, back when there were no alternatives (and he's also an evil bastard), and kills the child extracting it. The potion is based on a (supposed) actual witches recipe of the era ("fat of unbaptized brat" even gets a mention in Shakespeare). Likewise the nail in the footprint has a real-world source.
  • In the movie Daybreakers, most of the remaining 5% of humanity has become this, as the 95% vampire population needs human blood to survive. People are kept in storage, barely alive, and have their blood drained via tubes to feed the vampires.
  • Arcade features a video arcade named "Dante's Inferno", where a new virtual reality arcade game called, boringly enough, "Arcade" is being tested. If you lose, you're trapped inside the game and die. Turns out the game is Powered by a Forsaken Child.
    • The boy was abused and, eventually, killed by his mother. The game designers decide it's a good idea to take a few thousand brain cells from the body and use them in the game.
    • Apparently, the game is somehow able to transcend virtual reality and enter Real Life. At first, it can only grab people who are in the arcade booth. Then, the game is ported to consoles, and the game is able to do the same thing in people's homes. At the end of the film, it looks like the boy projects himself on the street, meaning the game is becoming more powerful.
  • Soylent Green IS PEOPLE!! Also this trope's Ur-Example.
  • In The Matrix, we're all Forsaken Children. And we're powering the machines.
    • In The Animatrix it also becomes Fridge Horror when you realize this is Humanity's fault as well: The Machines originally ran off mostly solar power until some geniuses created the eternal night to try and shut them down for good. The Machines simply got creative and ironically green in their quest for alternate energy sources.
  • In Thir13en Ghosts the ghosts of the title are used to power some sort of demonic machine designed to open "the eye of hell".
  • Minority Report has a pretty literal version: the Precrime department's method of predicting the future involves three psychics, kept in chemically-induced dream state 24-7 and hooked up to a computer, so that the detectives can piece together visions of murders from their recorded dreams. Where does literal come into it? Well, it turns out that the Precogs are actually the abandoned, mutated offspring of drug addicts. Doubly frightening was the knowledge that one of the creators of the Precrime system was willing to kill the mother of one of the Precogs to ensure that they would stay Forsaken Children.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men has the machine that turns ordinary people into mutants powered by Magneto, but using it weakens the power source (likely killing him if he uses it on full power), so he forcibly has the power-stealing mutant Rogue absorb him and uses her to power the machine.
      • In the original draft for the movie, Magneto actually wanted to use Wolverine instead as a sort-of living antenna to amplify his powers, apparently due to his Adamantium skeleton.
    • X2: X-Men United: Stryker's mind-control serum is derived from chemicals secreted by the brain of his own son, Jason. Although still alive and still capable of using his impressive powers of illusion, Jason's been given a lobotomy to make him more pliable and is confined to a wheelchair, complete with a shunt in the back of his head used for collecting the fluid.
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: The mutant cure is distilled from Leech's blood, although the scientists hope to eventually artificially synthesize it. Unlike other examples, Leech is treated rather well and seems fine with the arrangement.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the ritual for the Fountain of Youth. When Jack finds out that it requires a human sacrifice, he immediately finds his desire for the fountain "greatly lessened".
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger's nightmare powers are fueled by the fear and souls of children.
  • Snowpiercer: At the beginning we see lower class children measured and taken away. At the end we find out that they're used as manual labor within the train's engine to replace broken parts.
  • In WarCraft, fel magic is powered by life force of living creatures, so Gul'dan has thousands of prisoners drained from energy to keep the Portal open.
  • Cloud Atlas: Fabricants that serve out their time as workers are killed and recycled into Soap and food to feed fabricants and purebloods, respectively. Sonmi has the good fortune to watch this happen.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100:
    • The Mountain Men cure their periodic radiation poisoning through "blood treatments": they kidnap Grounders (who are naturally resistant to radiation) and use them as human dialysis machines, pumping their radiation resistant blood into the Mountain Men, and the Mountain Men's contaminated blood into the Grounders. This makes the Grounders incredibly ill, and if done often enough will eventually kill them.
    • Later, the Mountain Men discover a way to make themselves permanently resistant to radiation, removing the need for the blood treatments. Unfortunately, this new treatment requires taking lethal quantities of bone marrow from captured Sky People.
  • Babylon 5:
    • One episode featured an immortality drug that required killing people to manufacture it. The Vorlons decide We Are Not Ready for immortality and assassinate its war criminal creator before she is able to pass on the formula.
    • The Shadows use living beings, suitably adjusted, as the control units for their spacecraft. They also use people to grow some of their technology, according to one of the canon novels. It's not stated whether this kills the people on whom the stuff is growing or not, but it's not a pleasant process.
    • Babylon 5 also contained the alien healing device, which can cure any wound or illness but only by siphoning life energy away from a healthy being (its creators used it as a means of "just" capital punishment, taking their life to insure somebody else got to keep theirs).
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), President Roslin's cancer is cured by injecting her with the blood of Helo and Sharon's unborn daughter. Thankfully, they don't need all of it.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Doublemeat Palace" leads the viewer to believe Buffy has encountered a Soylent Green-type situation — only to move on to a more realistically plausible, but equally strange-feeling twist.
    • The Season 8 comics have Buffy's new bonus powers. Subverted, as she soon finds out her power, like all magic, came from the Seed Of Wonder. As she got closer to it, she bacame more powerful.
    • The First Slayer herself is essentially a forsaken child forcibly infused with demon energy by magicians. Essentially true of all slayers.
    • Dawn is this for Glory in Season 5, with the blood of The Key being required to open a portal that Glory needs to return to her home dimension.
  • Cleopatra 2525's robotic oppressors of humanity were revealed to be slightly less robotic than believed: They're cyborgs, using brains harvested from human children.
  • HBO aired Cosmic Slop, three short supernatural stories hosted by George Clinton. One story was about a fleet of aliens arriving to earth and offering to solve all of the world's current problems. In return for all of the people of African descent who do not pass the 'paper bag test'. Did they get their price? In a heartbeat!
  • Doctor Who examples:
    • In the sadly-lost story "The Savages", the inhabitants of a technologically-advanced city extended their productivity and lifespans by draining "life force" from the people who lived outside the city. While they admittedly tried not to take enough to kill anybody, it was more because they didn't want to lose their supply than for humanitarian reasons.
    • "Warriors' Gate": Rorvik's culture has spaceflight dependent on wiring a time-sensitive slave into the navigation systems and hitting that slave with high voltages.
    • In "Revelation of the Daleks", Dalek creator Davros offers to help solve a galactic famine problem. How convenient that he's set up shop on a cemetery planet...
      • "But did you bother to tell anyone they might be eating their own relatives?" "Certainly not! That would have created what I believe is termed 'consumer resistance'."
    • In "Remembrance of the Daleks", a young girl is kidnapped and mind-controlled to augment the Supreme Dalek's rational and logical battle computer with human imagination and emotion.
    • The Controller in "Bad Wolf", a Wetware CPU wired into the Deadly Game space station — although she's an adult when we see her, one of the minor characters explains she was "installed" when she was five years old.
      • She's also the only one who knows about the villain and their evil plan, but she can't say anything about it until a coincidental solar flare cuts her off from their control.
    • "New Earth": The hospital has the cure for every known disease, through infecting thousands of expendable Artificial Humans with those diseases.
    • "School Reunion": The antagonists are using schoolchildren to crack an equation that will give them Reality Warper powers because adults lack the imagination. It's mentioned that students have fallen ill as a result, and some students get eaten by the Evil Teachers when they can get away with it.
    • "The Girl in the Fireplace": The Doctor and co. come across a spaceship whose crew was taken apart to be used as spare parts by the clockwork repair droids.
    • The Toclafane in "The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords", who the Master uses as his personal army of Happy Fun Balls, can be considered partly this trope. Martha Jones pries one of them open and discovers, to her horror, that the Toclafane were created from the final remnants of humanity. Instead of traveling to the fabled Utopia, they end up in the reaches of space, gradually turning on each other, cannibalizing their own bodies, and becoming more childlike.
    • Played with in "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead": the Library's computers are run by a terminally-ill child who was inserted into the mainframe to keep her alive and entertained with every book in the universe. Powered-by, but hardly forsaken.
    • In "The Beast Below", the Starship UK is propelled by torturing a Space Whale. No, really. And in a "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" parallel, every citizen of Starship UK is told just what their megaship relies on for power at age 16 as part of the "elections". They are then given the choice to Forget or Protest; most choose to Forget via Laser-Guided Amnesia, whereas those who Protest end up food for the Whale.
      • Also subverted in that the Space Whale purposefully came to help because it heard the crying children of England and wanted to save them. The humans of course has no way of knowing this and thus captured and tortured the whale to propel the ship, not knowing it would've helped of its own free will.
    • "The Doctor's Wife": Genius Loci House stays alive by eating TARDISes. This also applies to its servants Auntie and Uncle, who are "fixed" when they "break" with body parts from people who wind up in House's pocket universe, á la Frankenstein's Monster.
  • The Attic from Dollhouse is first introduced as a classic And I Must Scream scenario. What it actually is, however, is much worse: It's a super-computer with human brains as processors, where each "component" is locked into an infinite loop of their worst nightmare in order to keep the brain running at adrenaline-inspired top speed.
  • An episode of First Wave had Cade stumble upon a Gua-run hospital, where they were helping some people... by giving them parts from other people's bodies. None of this was altruism, of course, but merely just another experiment.
  • In Fringe: Time Travel has the unfortunate consequence of killing everything and everyone within the immediate vicinity of the destination, dependent on the length traveled. Also, it might just have a similar effect to Walter's little dimension jump.
  • Game of Thrones: Melisandre implies this about Shireen's sacrifice. The blizzard that blocked their path disappeared for several months, clearing the way to Winterfell. Even if Stannis died, the way for Jon Snow and the Vale Cavalry to secure victory over the Boltons was laid clear and faced no interference from the oncoming winter, taking a full army with them to Winterfell rather than face the starvation and defection that Stannis did. Davos refuses to accept this and calls the Lord of Light evil for allowing Shireen's death, but Melisandre points out that it was the same Lord who resurrected Jon. In either case, Jon banishes Melisandre rather than execute her.
  • In Heroes, the Big Bad of the first season, Sylar, is capable of "acquiring" the superpowers of others through an unshown (until the beginning of season 3) procedure that requires killing them and removing their brains.
    • Technically he doesn't have to kill them to do it as he learned in volume 3. However the quickest route to it is studying the brain and (Unless the victim has a healing factor) the process of slicing their head open is shown to be fatal.
      • It's implied in a later volume that he knew even before volume 3 he could absorb powers through empathy. He just liked knowing every little thing about the power, and the life of the person who had it meant little to him.
  • In an episode of The Invisible Man, an eminent neurologist is removing pieces of homeless people's brains in order to cure those he considers more worthy who've suffered brain injuries.
    • He gets proper justice in the end - he falls off the stairs to his death. Since he's an organ donor, his own brain serves to cure one of his victims.
  • Sakurai Yuuto, aka Zeronos in Kamen Rider Den-O has people around him lose their memories of his future self every time he transforms. When that turns out to be insufficient, then he gets his new Zero Form, which is powered by peoples' memories of his current self (this after nearly disappearing completely after his past self is killed by an Imagin). In the end, the future Sakurai does disappear completely... leaving the current Yuuto with a different, new future to discover.
  • In the Made-for-TV Movie The Night Strangler (sequel to The Night Stalker and followed by Kolchak: The Night Stalker), the killer slays exotic dancers and uses just a little of each one's blood to whip up a batch of his special life-extension serum, which he must do every 21 years or die.
  • The first season of Lexx, also known as "Tales from a Parallel Universe", was made up of four movies. The second movie, "Eating Pattern", revolved around a junkyard planet where bodies could be made into a highly addictive drug called "Pattern". The title Living Ship also eats planets, occasionally including inhabited ones.
    • Let alone growing the Lexx in the first place; prisoners from all over human space (most of whom had only committed fairly minor offences) had their major organs cut out by circular saw (to make robotic drones, apparently?) and the rest of their body was shrinkwrapped and fed to the Lexx. All it has to say on the matter was that "The food was good there".
    • And even later, the entire population of the League of 20,000 Planets received the same treatment; becoming food for the Gigashadow, the body of the last survivor of the Insect Civilization.
  • In an episode of Masters of Horror entitled "The Fair-Haired Child", the plot involves a grieving couple appealing to an otherworldly force to resurrect their dead son. They in turn, have to feed him ten children. The child shows his um...gratitude to them in a similar way.
  • The Otherworld episode "Paradise Lost" had a immortality drug called Kaloma that was created by draining the life force of human beings.
  • In one episode of Sliders, the characters stumble upon a village with its own Fountain of Youth. Which is the excretions of a gigantic mutant worm...whose primary diet is people.
  • Stargate:
    • Stargate SG-1 had tretonin, a drug that granted the user perfect health-but had a side effect: the drug destroys the immune system, rendering the user dependent on the drug forever. The SG-1 team, after beginning negotiation for some of the drug, learn that the drug is actually created from the offspring of a Goa'uld queen the Pangarans discovered in a stasis jar. Normally this would not be so bad considering the Goa'uld are the series' Big Bad, parasites that force their way into humans' brains and take over their bodies while most likely applying eternal mental torture to the host mind and are literally born evil since they inherit the memories of their parents. Unfortunately, much later, after the Tok'ra (the rebel faction of the Goa'uld who were allies with Earth) are brought to help analyze the drug, it is discovered the Goa'uld queen is actually the Tokra's long lost queen (and their last hope of reproducing as their number are dwindling and she was the only known Tok'ra queen). Naturally the Tok'ra object to such treatment of their queen.
      • Eventually subverted when, later that season, the Tok'ra are able to synthesize tretonin without the need for live symbiotes. Because said Tok'ra queen showed them how before dying.
    • Stargate Atlantis: An early first-season episode had the Atlantis team find a gate on a planet with mist that supercharged the gate to levels that would allow them to dial Earth. It so happened that the mist was a species of sentient beings, some of whom were burned up to power the gate every time it was dialed out. After they explained this to the explorers via an elaborate dream sequence, the Atlantis team agrees to leave and designate their planet off-limits.
  • Star Trek: Discovery has a better-than-warp-drive propulsion system powered by an herbivorous animal that writhes in pain whenever they make a jump.
  • Star Trek: Voyager had another ship trapped in the Delta Quadrant - with an enhanced warp drive that burned alien Energy Beings to get them home.
  • In Supernatural:
    • Angels must take vessels to interact with most people on earth. Powerful angels usually leave the humans who served as vessels as broken husks.
    • Metatron's spell in Season 8 required the murder of a nephilim, carving a cupid's bow out of its owner, and forcefully removing an angel's grace.
    • In the season 10 finale, one of the required ingredients for curing the Mark of Cain requires the spellcaster to kill someone they love. In the same episode, Death will only help Dean endure the Mark if Dean murders Sam.
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, the Four-Five-Six incorporate prepubescent human children into their physiology, keeping them eternally alive, childlike, and fully aware, because their bodies produce hormones that act as euphoric drugs on them.
    "You mean... you're shooting up on children?"
    • The way Torchwood fights back is literally this trope, they re-route the Four-Five-Six's psychic Mind Rape wave back at them through a forsaken child. Specifically Jack's grandson Stephen who was the only child near when the solution was discovered with minutes left to save the day. Stephen screamed himself to death.
  • The The Twilight Zone (2002) episode "Evergreen" has the Ever-Green community, where they turn some teens into red plant fertilizer disguised as a 'reeducation camp' especially for them.
  • An episode of The Worst Witch has Sybill turning a torch into a magic lamp that will grant any wish. The catch is however that it'll absorb energy from other things to grant each wish. When it runs out of plants to absorb, it starts to drain the girls and the teachers instead.

    Music 
  • ORPHAN TEARS by Your Favorite Martian
  • The Vocaloid song Kagome, Kagome heavily implied this.
  • There is a (disputed) theory that the final verses of the children's song "London Bridge is Falling Down" relate to pagan use of human sacrifice during construction of important buildings.

    Radio 
  • In Big Finish Doctor Who "The Genocide Machine", it is revealed that in the Library of Kar-Charrat the Chief Librarion Elgin has captured many of a local aquatic life form and placed them in a wetworks facility so they can be used to download data, a process which destroys their minds.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, this is a staple of black cards. The whole concept of black mana is sacrifice for selfish, personal gain — even to the point of sacrificing bits of yourself. All colors have some sort of ubercard that's cheap to use but has some drawback. Black, however, is the king of this, with a hideous number of cards that allow one to do quite a lot of awesome things, but cost you creatures, land, life, cards in hand, cards in graveyard (a viable resource for black, so not something to be sneezed at), or something else. One makes you lose the game if you don't win by the end of your next turn. Some especially notable examples:
    • Lich is a classic. It essentially turns you into a Lich - you lose all life, but do not immediately lose the game. Instead, you can discard cards in place of damage taken. If you are unable to discard, then you lose.
    • Another notable early example is Lord of the Pit, an extremely powerful creature for its cost that requires a sacrifice of one creature per turn or it turns on you.
    • The infamous Necropotence allows the player to trade life for more magical power and knowledge (i.e. draw cards). One common combo is creature removal (i.e. killing creatures), discard spells, and the Avatar of Woe, a huge creature which costs eight mana (two of which have to be black), but only costs the two black mana if there are a total of ten or more creatures in all graveyards. This card was so powerful it has been banned or restricted in most formats.
    • In the game's backstory, Urza collapsed Serra's Realm, killing everyone inside, to activate the powerstone core of the skyship Weatherlight. Also, during the Invasion block, when Urza led a group of planeswalkers into Phyrexia to destroy it, he powered the bombs he planned to use with the soul of the planeswalker he expected to betray them. Which was justified, in that he was right.
  • Paranoia has this when you ask what the incredibly Dystopian society is eating. Depending on the version, it's everybody who dies, or everybody who dies who wasn't Blue rank or above. Including children. (Or just bland things like algae and synthetic protein, but even then, people accidentally falling into food vats is disturbingly common.)
  • All Arcane (non-Badass Normal) powers in Deadlands work this way. The setting has it as an explicit rule. The soul involved is inevitably your own.
    • Except for Blessed and Shaman powers, which only require adherence to your religion and (in Shamans' case) proper rites. You still do the sacrifice, but it's voluntary and only involves limiting yourself.
    • While not known in Deadlands: The Weird West, it is common knowledge in the Wasted West that ghostrock is made up of souls, which scream and wail as you burn it.
  • The game Fairy Meat (a spin-off from the Knights of the Dinner Table comic) involves characters eating parts of each other to regain health.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • A few creatures such as demiliches can trap souls and fuel spells with these.
    • In the Dark Sun setting, use of arcane magic, by default, drains life force from the environment around you, killing plants and leaving the soil infertile for years. Widespread use of such magic led to the world of Athas becoming a desert wasteland. Magic users who embrace this are called Defilers; those who learn to use magic without harming the environment are called Preservers. The respective advantages and drawbacks of Defiling vs. Preserving varies from edition to edition. In second edition, Preservers advanced in power more slowly than Defilers. In fourth edition, Defilers can drain life force from their own allies to empower their magic.
    • The creation of permanent enchantments in AD&D2 involved the decrease of the Constitution attribute. The Forgotten Realms (Volo's Guide to All Things Magical) has the "Blood Link" spell, which allows the vitality of another sentient creature instead of the caster's own to be sacrificed for permanency (though this could compromise alignment, like most lifeforce-draining effects). Which also explained how drow and Red Wizards got tons of magic trinkets.
      • Vhaerun grants a spell allowing the caster to drain levels (lifeforce) for use as charges for magic items.
      • Continued in later editions, with slight modifications. In Third Edition, permanent magic item creation requires spending XP. Note that XP and levels in this game represent life-force: many vampires and similar creatures literally drain your levels when they feed.
    • Mystara has a nuclear reactor of some crashed spaceship that became a magical power source, with some training allowing its users to try a divine ascension. Those who fail the attempt are sucked inside and become more fuel. Later, its accidentally ascended original operator made a copy free of other (worse) side effects.
    • Too many examples in Ravenloft to mention them all; perhaps the nastiest was Azalin's Doomsday Device, powered by the stolen souls of his murdered enemies and the collective life forces of every living thing in Il Aluk, greatest city in the game setting. Also featured in Dance of the Dead, a Ravenloft novel, in the form of an enchanted riverboat powered by captive fey and magical beasts.
    • Spelljammer had the Lifejammer helm, a magical device that allowed ships to travel through space by draining the life energy of creatures placed within it. Death Helm is the same with Charm effect, so the victim who failed a saving throw will fight off attempts to pull them out of this.
    • Book of Vile Darkness supplement
      • It features a foe called the Dread Emperor who uses this trope. He wears special golden armor that has four small children attached to it by lengths of chain. When hurt he can drain life from the children to heal himself. Players wishing to take him down (and who wouldn't?) must find a way to deal with this or risk sacrificing four innocent lives in the process.
      • The book also includes the Soul Eater prestige class, which allows the player to gain strength and abilities by bestowing negative levels on their enemies, essentially draining their life force. The player can eventually take their victim's appearance and all of their abilities if they kill someone this way.
    • Liches in 5th edition have to maintain their phylacteries with a steady stream of victims' souls or the magic preserving their undead bodies starts to falter.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Imperium of Man has the Astronomican, a giant psychic beacon essential for warp travel. Originally powered by the Emperor's immense psychic strength, the device is later powered by the souls of ten thousand psykers (daily) trained for the purpose. The Astronomican's extreme psychic energy requirements cause the psykers' deterioration and death in only a few months. A constant stream of sacrificial psykers is therefore required to power the Astronomican.
    • Although at least the psykers who power the Astronomican are trained, and see the giving of their lives as their last and greatest duty. A similar process of soul-draining is used to feed the Emperor, and their compliance is... not so neccessary.
    • In the Ciaphas Cain novels, there is a mention of "tasty, nutritious Soylens Viridians."
    • It's also implied that the longevity treatments that allow even Puny Humans with enough wealth or ranking to live for a few centuries are made from children. Even sympathetic and otherwise heroic characters are known to use them, just to show how fucked up the setting is.
      • Depends on which type of juvenat treatment it is: they apparently range from synthetic/cybernetic organ replacements and plastic surgery through to (implied) fetal stem-cell therapies. There is one variant noted in the early fluff which involved cloning a person, applying some phlebotinum to cut-and-paste said person's soul into the clone, then spending a couple of decades (re-)teaching it skills and brainwashing it to think it was the original. Sure, it runs afoul of the Continuity Problem, destroys the soul of an innocent and wasted 20 years back in school, but hey, what with the other treatments out there, this body's good for another 2-3 centuries or so...
    • Then there was an infamous incident with "Sororita" brand armor paint. Which became a Fanon Discontinuity on account of one sample of Incorruptible Pure Pureness using another this way out of fear of being less than incorruptible jumping the line between "grimdark" and "retarded".
      • Later novel somewhat rectifies the incident, claiming that Grey Knights asked Sisters politely and Sisters willingly sacrificed themselves to finish off the daemon army. They are zealots raised in a culture that worships martyrs after all. The same novel claims that a LOT of Grey Knights magic war gear literally works on the souls of innocents.
  • In addition to preying on humans to sustain themselves, the vampires of Vampire: The Masquerade can perform diablerie - feeding on their elders to improve their generational status.
    • Then again, their elders tend to be homicidal maniacs, stark raving crazy or complete monsters. And of course, every vampire's afraid of the day the Antediluvians, the Elders among elder vampires, are going to rise again, eat every last one of their children and generally be bad for the neighborhood. So, killing older vampires is a "sacrifice" that many younglings are willing to make. As soon as possible.
    • In Genius: The Transgression, materials like these are called Larvae. They constitute any item which invoked an Obligation roll to obtain, and offer increases to efficiency. Earlier editions followed up the section on Larvae with the quote from Doctor Orpheus at the top of the page.
    • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, most supernatural items known as Fetishes (no, not that kind) are powered by a spirit that's permanently bound into the item. While most werewolves prefer to strike a voluntary bargain with a spirit, others may skip the "voluntary" part...
      • Characters in Mage: The Ascension with enough skill in the Spirit sphere could do the same thing and were considerably more likely to substitute coercion or brute force for diplomacy.
    • Since Vampire: The Requiem (Masquerade's reboot) doesn't have the concept of 'generation', it handles eating other vampires differently: if you chow down on someone more powerful, it boosts the power of your blood, expanding your capabilities. Sufficiently potent vampires, however, end up needing to feed on other vampires to survive.
      • Speaking of Vampire: The Requiem, there's a Trope Codifier for this trope in the form of the Belial's Brood faction known as the Mercy Seat. They are based on gnosticism and believe that the world is evil. It is possible to leave this evil world and reach a higher realm of existence, but in order to do so, they must basically damn someone to hell in order to rectify a cosmic imbalance. The more innocent the sacrifice was, the better the chances of leaving this world. Allegedly. The fact that there's a bunch of evidence, both in mechanics and fluff, to back their assertions up is another trope.
    • In Mage: The Ascension, it was possible to extract quintessence (the energy that makes reality real) from the life force of a willing creature. Many mages use their own life force. Some use specially reared livestock. A few villains use specially raised children. (A larger number of villains will attempt to use unwilling sacrifices, but this creates enough "resonance" opposed to the intended effect that it cancels out any potential benefit. They either don't notice, or don't care.)
    • The Mage: The Awakening Sourcebook detailing the Seers of the Throne includes their special servitors. The Myrmidons are fairly standard inborn Super Soldiers (although they are cursed to have to follow any command given to them in a certain language) and the Hive-Souled are Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The Grigori (a kind of ghost spy which can sense and follow the connections between people and things) and the Hollow Ones (people who can have their personalities rewritten) on the other hand are created by wrapping a person in a shroud which tears out their mind and reworks it, and exposing someone to an Eldritch Abomination which eats the part of their soul which lets them have any semblence of individuality (and the personalities they can be given are inevitably temporary), respectively. Neither process can be reversed.
      • And, as in Ascension before it, a mage can gain mana from sacrifice. Most sacrifice their life force or their physical capabilities (both eventually get restored), but they can also sacrifice other living creatures. Trouble is, to do so they have to kill the victim - and humans give more mana than animals.
    • In Wraith: The Oblivion, the spirits of the dead — which would include the characters — can be boiled down and forged into anything from furniture to money. If that weren't bad enough, the unfortunate victims used to make this "soulsteel" remain conscious, and those who carry soulsteel items can occasionally hear them weeping.
  • In Exalted, the magical material known as Soulsteel is...well, filled with the aware, agonizing souls of the imprisoned dead (not surprisingly, Wraith was a big influence on Exalted's Underworld).
    • And Starmetal is made out of the bodies of (usually) minor gods, although in this case the gods in question are not conscious (with one non-painful exception).
    • Perhaps the most literal case in the setting is the phylactery-womb, the device that the Yozis use as the staging point and storage device for Infernal Exaltations. Her name used to be Liliun once, and she was a daughter of the Scarlet Empress, traded over as part of mommy's botched deal for immortality. Now she's been twisted and violated in a number of senses, left barely lucid and babbling, just so that she can serve as the perfect receptacle for the Infernal shards.
    • There is also the 'Mephitic Engine of Desolation', a necromantic device that prevents prayers from reaching gods and the heavens. It's created by the ritual torture and sacrifice of five children... Suffice to say, the details are unpleasant.
  • An almost literal example in Hunter the Vigil: Dark and Light, where the Magisters of Economie get their powers from using comatose Princesses as power sources.

    Web Animation 
  • This quote, taken from Llamas with Hats: "I should probably mention I filled our luggage with orphan meat." "Wh...what?" "Well, I'm building a meat dragon, and not just ANY meat will do!"
  • According to The Dragon of Broken Saints, the Knight Templar he serves believes the only true way to peace is to create an empath, give her a life full of joy and then unleash such misery unto her that her suffering overwhelms all of humanity into a state of empathy. The forsaken child in question is Shandalla, one of the series' main characters. And for extra thematic appropriateness, the big bad is her father.

    Web Comics 
  • 8-Bit Theater features a rather humorous example: Every time Black Mage launches a Hadoken, he siphons love from the Universe and twists it to highly destructive ends, making it create an explosion that consumes love (the divorce rate rises, for example). Not that he cares, but Red Mage seems to. The Hadoken was received by BM after sacrificing several orphans.
    Black Mage: It takes the happiness of others and turns it into pain and explosions. It's win-win.
  • Kevin & Kell: In a World... that lives by Carnivore Confusion, this certainly doesn't seem out of place. Although it was meant as a jab at then-current bio-diesel fad.
  • In Geist Panik, Nob says that human blood acts as a magic grease that all runes and magic use to some extent. He also says that orphans' blood works best.
  • Heavily implied to be the source of the Black Rocs power in Necessary Monsters. You can almost hear the heartbeat over the motor...
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Torg's magical sword Chaz is powered by the blood of the innocent. He's only able to make much use of its full power when in a Sugar Bowl dimension being invaded by sadistic demons, so that there's plenty of such blood being spilled by others.
  • Looking for Group:
    • Cale has to kill an innocent child to save the city of Kethenecia. One of the themes for that chapter was that "Innocence is the cost of justice." This leads us to believe that the aforementioned child must be killed to save the city of Kethenecia (the city of justice). After it is revealed that the child is the Archmage, he states that the innocence is not some nameless child, but the innocence of Calenon.
    • Richard's Nigh-Invulnerability is fueled by the ashes of innocent people he kills. As he starts moving from Token Evil Teammate to Necessarily Evil, he starts sacrificing animals instead. After a Phlebotinum Overload changes the nature of his powers, they are instead fuelled by protecting the innocent. Which is still a case of this since it results in Richard deliberately putting his adopted son in harm's way to do so.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja:
  • In Terinu, the title character's entire race was genetically engineered to serve as living power plants for the Varn Dominion. And they were wired to enjoy it.
  • In Unity, a society full of sentient/uplifted animals, you might not want to know where their food comes from.
  • In Sinfest, the Devil promises the spray was laboratory tested on orphans.
  • In Homestuck, Her Imperious Condescension (the Troll Empress and the ancestor of Feferi) has a flagship that runs upon the immense psychic powers of The Ψiioniic, the Ancestor of Sollux—causing him excruciating agony. Also, trolls lower on the hemospectrum (like the Ψiioniic) live comparatively short lives, so the long-lived Condesce extended his lifespan with her magic. He's been her Helmsman for thousands of years until the Vast Glub happened, rendering the Condesce the only remaining troll in the galaxy (as tyrianbloods are immune to Gl'bgolyb's psychic scream and Feferi was in SGRUB's game world).
    • Vriska at one point theorizes that Sburb must be played only by adolescents.
    • While we're on the subject: Trolls each get a lusus (a sort of guardian) at "birth" that takes care of them until they reach adulthood. Eridan kills the lusi of other trolls and gives the corpses to Feferi for Feferi's lusus Gl'bgolyb to eat, making Gl'bgolyb powered by causing children to be forsaken. But it's for a good cause, really: if Gl'bgolyb doesn't eat, she'll start complaining, and then every troll in the world starts dying. Meanwhile, Vriska has a use for all those forsaken, guardianless children: she feeds them to her lusus, a giant spider. By the time the trolls reach the age corresponding to about 13 in human terms, they've been doing this for years.
  • In Spacetrawler, the construction of the eponymous spacetrawlers is implied to involve horrific abuse of Eebs, and when the details are eventually revealed, they're every bit as bad as implied: an Eeb is trained to telekinetically gather space debris—by injecting them with a drug that causes debilitating pain if they ever stop gathering said debris. Then the Eeb's body is dissolved, while still conscious, and their Brain in a Jar is placed in the spacetrawler.
  • Narbonic includes a time machine with the drawback that its use requires all the energy of the universe. Dave Davenport figures out how to use the time machine by having it comsume all the energy of a parallel universe. He assumes they just don't want to live as much as the people in his universe do.
  • One of defences Gunnerkrigg Court got is a bound ghost. Who is extremely unhappy about the situation for several very understandable reasons. The records were cleaned and those who meet this guardian in person are unlikely to survive, thus most of the current generation are blissfully unaware of this, except a team secretly searching for a way to remove this old shame.
  • The Gamercat opted to interprete this way what happens to red fairies in The Legend of Zelda. Of course, in case you feel terrible too, there are also healing potions, but... do you know how those are made?
  • In The Order of the Stick, when Elan is offered a ring of regeneration from the Affably Evil (but still very evil) Tarquin, this is Elan's assumption.
    Elan: Yeah, right, like I would use your crazy evil ring, that you probably, like, tortured somebody to death or something to give it magic.
    Tarquin: Now, that is quite enough, young man. I am frankly offended that you would even suggest that I would do such a thing toWait, who do you consider "somebody?"
    Elan: Anybody!
    Tarquin: Fine, fine, I'll keep the ring, then.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The God Empress Mottom gets her eternal youth by eating the fruits of a special tree. The tree requires regular feeding with virgin blood. And the fruits aren't lasting as long as they used to.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe:
    • It turns out in that uber-powerful mage Fey's best spells are powered by energy from ley lines, and that in some of the battles already fought in earlier stories, she ended up destroying neighboring ecosystems.
    • The fate the Bell Witch intended for her daughter: to turn her into a god-like being, then enslave her to serve as the source of her own power. Fortunately, not only does Nacht turn on her mother, as a result she gets the one thing she always dreamed of, proof that Marzena isn't her real mother, breaking the hold she had over her. * Let's just say that a lot of the SCP Foundation's activities are this and save ourselves some time.
    • SCP-001 ("djkaktus's Proposal - The Children"). The title children have had their souls removed and replaced with extra-dimensional entities, giving them Reality Warping powers. All of them are brain-dead and exist only to act as Living Weapons.
    • One SCP Foundation short story involved "button day"; entire families voluntarily submit to/are brainwashed into suicide by melting to combat overpopulation.
    • SCP-231 ("Special Personnel Requirements"). Special mention goes to Procedure 110-Montauk, an unspecified unspeakable ritual performed on a teenage child to prevent the escape of an Eldritch Abomination (or so the Foundation thinks...).
    • SCP-1514. SCP-1514-1A is a tank full of red liquid holding SCP-1514-1B, which was once a fetus that was taken from its mother. It controls SCP-1514-2, a system of X-ray laser Kill Sats orbiting the Earth.
    • SCP-1875 is a chess computer, of all things, powered by the (still conscious) minds of a chess champion's twin daughters. And they are not happy about their fate.
    • SCP-2132 ("Most Dangerous Fighting Exhibition and Obstacle Resort"). The game scenarios the contestants are put through are thought up by a child kidnapped by Marshall, Carter and Dark.
    • SCP-2669 is a faster-than-light space probe which develops a Hive Mind that is constantly battling the Foundation for control. To distract it, the Foundation regularly uploads the minds of newborn infants. To expedite this, the Foundation has set up a fake adoption agency in a refugee camp.
  • One urban legend featured on the Darwin Award told of an accidental case of this: an employee at a power plant looking to lose weight tried to use their coal runner as a treadmill, but tripped and was converted into power for hundreds of homes.

    Web Videos 
  • In the short miniseries, Freako Asylum, the two protagonists go to "The Twisted Machine of Science" to answer their questions on how to handle the situation. In its center is an infant hooked up to the machine. Unusually for this trope, the kid looks positively jolly and is dancing around in his/her seat.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: Linkara's magic gun is powered by the soul of a little girl sacrificed by her parents to their evil god. That's where it gets... weird. To be clear, he only found out when the viewers did, and was as horrified as you'd expect. He almost shot himself with the gun, but the girl's soul talked him out of it.
  • In To Boldly Flee, Doug telling Critic that if he leaves the entire TGWTG world falls apart comes across as this trope, and post-comeback, word of former says Critic still knows it and uses it to evil advantage.
  • According to Bennett The Sage during a guest appearance on Ask That Guy with the Glasses, Santa Claus uses the power of aborted babies to deliver gifts to people who don't have a chimney.
    Ask That Guy: OH GOD!!!

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Adventure Time, Finn is kidnapped by gnomes to power their device to flip over the Earth's crust.
  • The Venture Bros.:
  • Starscream's clone technology of Transformers Animated involves the use of protoforms, which can be described as fetal or pre-natal Cybertronians.
  • In Argai: The Prophecy, Queen Dark gains and maintains her immortality by stealing the youth of several maidens throughout time and keeping them in eternal slumber.
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers has the Psychocrypt. Literally sucks out Life Energy to create Slaverlords through which the Queen can see and hear. In this fashion, she can keep direct control over her armies and her crumbling Empire The Queen of the Crowns already hunted the Gherkin race to near-extinction in her thirst to create Slaverlords. Then, she discovers humans, who are ''ideal'' specimens to create Slaverlords. A good deal of the Rangers' job is to keep the Queen from obtaining more humans for the Crypt. The process, as seen in "New Frontier" & "Psychocrypt" is also horrendously painful.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack features a boat powered by angsty children. The children are also used as cannonballs.
  • A more mundane and light-hearted example found in The Simpsons: Homer is forced to turn a gigantic wheel, with a guy with a whip egging him on... in order to operate a rotating display in the break room.
    Homer: Ow! D'oh! After lunch, can I whip you?
    Slave-driver: [cheerfully] Nope.
    Homer: Oh, no fair. Ow!
    [pan to the plant lunch hall, where Lenny and Carl observe the rotating dessert table]
    Lenny: Hmm. Wonder what makes it turn.
    Carl: Who cares?
  • Subverted in Mighty Orbots where Ohno, a robot shaped like a little girl, is the necessary ignition function for the Combining Mecha to operate. However, she doesn't mind at all since she's designed for it and once that function is complete, she disengages to become the Commander's copilot.
  • An older version in The Fairly OddParents!: Fairy World is powered by belief in fairies. It would be Clap Your Hands If You Believe, if not for one little issue: the only belief that apparently matters is Crocker's. A man who does not remember having fairies, but knows they exist and is completely obsessed with them. Fairy World is thus powered by the spazzes of a forsaken former godkid. To prevent all of Fairy World disintegrating should Croker die (having magically guaranteed that he'll never get over his issues), several more Croker-alikes are given his obsession. Although from how it's phrased it's possible that they just started harvesting from people who were already obsessed.
  • Rick and Morty: Shielding the outside of Evil Rick's fortress are hundreds of tortured Morties to prevent the other Ricks from tracking him down.
  • Steven Universe:
    • It is implied that many gem artifacts, including the Desert Glass and the pyramid in "Serious Steven", are powered by Gems. Lapis Lazuli herself powered a magical mirror, though this was meant as an interrogation device which Pearl mistook as some sort of database.
    • The Cluster, a planet-busting weapon that Homeworld planted at the center of the Earth, is made up of the forced fusions of millions of Gems who were shattered during the Gem War.
  • Wakfu: Qilby the Traitor stole the heart of the Mechasm Orgonax and used it to create the Eliacube. The literally heartless Mechasm grew up to be figuratively heartless as a result and became hellbent on wiping out organic life.
  • All unaware, the movie execs in the South Park episode "AWESOM-O" use Cartman to come up with more than 2,000 movie ideas — 800 of which star Adam Sandler. But they're not doing it intentionally; they think Cartman is a robot.

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