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Raised as a Host

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A character is raised with the specific purpose of having their body taken over by another person or entity. If they know what their intended fate is they are usually passively accepting of it and have little sense of self beyond it, since it's all they have ever known. It's particularly sick if the person intending to take them over is a member of their own family, in which case this may have happened multiple times. Generations-long instances of this or cases where someone's bloodline has been tampered with to make them an ideal host can also overlap with Super Breeding Program and Breeding Cult.

Usually these characters receive all the material goods and care they need to stay healthy and be the best possible host body, but it's at best a Gilded Cage. The people who look after these characters are usually discouraged from forming any attachments to them, to the point the host may not even get a proper name, or are referred to as a number if there's more than one of them. Especially since if a caretaker does get attached there's a good chance they'll attempt to save their charge rather than let them be taken over. As such, characters like this who manage to escape are usually in hiding and have no idea who they really are, at least before the story forces them to confront their pasts. As such, this is often part of The Reveal and thus spoilers abound in the examples below.

Sister trope to Custom-Built Host, which can be one of these, but may also be non-sentient without a guest. Compare Willing Channeler, where a character allows themselves to be possessed. Can be a Body Backup Drive, if the backup body in question is specifically another living person. A Walking Transplant is thematically related, but with individual organs rather than whole bodies being the reason for keeping them around. See also Human Resources, which usually involves the "resource" dying.

In order to qualify, a character must have been raised for this since at least early childhood, if not from birth.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Astra Lost in Space, pretty much all of the main cast were being raised as replacement bodies for one of their parents.
  • In Guilty Crown, Inori's existence was created to be the host vessel for Mana.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen has the Star Plasma Vessels, young women who possess the ability to merge their being with another and allow for a form of immortality. Tengen, the ancient sorcerer who maintains the barrier around Tokyo's Jujutsu High, has been using this technique for at least a thousand years, and the Hidden Inventory arc of the story revolves around protecting Riko Amanai, the newest Star Plasma Vessel who is scheduled to merge with Tengen and has been raised since a young age to accept her fate. She's been raised by Misato, whose family has been raising Star Plasma Vessels for generations, and Misato is noticeably conflicted over what's going to happen to her charge. Riko's killed before this can ever occur, and by the present time of the story Tengen's form has become distinctly inhuman as a result of being unable to go through with it.
  • In Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, Arba has been jumping from mother to daughter for at least three generations. In order to have a vessel that matched her soul she'd have at least one daughter in every incarnation, though it's shown she can possess a son too if she gets too desperate. She mostly acts like a kind mother on the surface but threatens and emotionally manipulates her children if they don't fall in line, with the implication that this is to keep them compliant and close to her so she can do the switch if she has to.
  • Reito Kanzaki, aka Reito Minagi in My-HiME is this to The Obsidian Lord, and officially becomes his host near the end of the series. It's implied his family has been serving this role for centuries in previous iterations of the HiME Carnival.
  • Each Living Doll in Shadows House is a human brainwashed into serving as the "face" of a faceless Shadow master. Once a Shadow comes of age, they undergo Fusion with their Living Doll, which allows them to take over the Living Doll's body while retaining their power as a Shadow. To ensure the process goes smoothly, the Dolls are constantly kept busy and repeatedly taught to "not fret over trivial matters" to stop them from thinking too much.
  • In Soul Eater, Giriko has been living in the same village for 800 years and having children that he encodes his memories and soul into and then takes over to stay alive. He's done this a total of 31 times and has manipulated the entire village into serving his purposes. Near the end of the story he runs out of suitable sons and is forced to take over a daughter, a fact he's not happy about.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Danger Diva, Stanley's sole motivation for having a child is to transfer his consciousness into it so he can live on.
  • Peter is revealed to have (unwittingly) been this in Hereditary, being manipulated by his grandmother into becoming the host for the demon king Paimon. Complicated in that she was unable to perform the intended rituals when he was a baby, so she allowed Paimon to possess her grand-daughter Charlie until she could try again when Peter was older; this possibly makes for a double-case of this trope.
  • In The Rise of Skywalker, it's revealed that Rey was supposed to be her grandfather Palpatine's backup body to sustain his soul, which was suffering from his decaying clone body not being able to handle his Sith powers, though her parents Dathan and Mirmir Palpatine left her on Jakku under Unkhar's (temporary) supervision until they could get Ochi, an assassin ordered by the still-alive Emperor to bring Rey back "home" to Exegol, off their backs and then pick her back up, though they were murdered by the Sith assassin for not giving her up. Needless to say, once Rey finds out, she tries to exile herself on Ahch-Tao like Luke did after her last fight with Kylo Ren/Ben Solo on the ruins of the Second Death Star, though the Jedi Knight gets her back into the game by telling her that her bloodline to Palpatine doesn't define her.

  • An Animorphs book that explores what Earth would be like if the Yeerks won features a scene describing facilities where humans are selectively bred and then strictly raised for hosts. This isn't typical of the Yeerks, but the fact that the human population is so massive compared to the Yeerks allows them to be choosy on what particular individual is desirable and which isn't.
  • Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: In the fourth book, it's revealed that Seshru gave birth to Renn for the sole purpose of turning her into a tokoroth. Fortunately, she was rescued before that could happen. Unfortunately, Seshru went on to give birth to Naiginn, and no one stopped her from trapping an ice demon in him.
  • In The Dresden Files, a particular lineage of women are raised to eventually become the host of the Archive, the repository of the entirety human knowledge. This is normally done in adulthood so the woman will have enough life experience and a personal identity to not be subsumed by the Archive. The current Archive, nicknamed Ivy by Harry, is a preteen because her grandmother was killed in an accident and her mother was unable to handle having the Archive and committed suicide when Ivy was an infant. Growing up with a wealth of human knowledge from nearly birth often lends Ivy a Creepy Child vibe when acting as the Archive.
  • In Kyo Kara Maoh!, Yuri is found out to be created for the main purpose of being a vessel for the main villain.
  • Continuing from Nasuverse tradition, Gray from Lord El-Melloi II Case Files was raised to be a vessel for a Heroic Spirit — namely, King Arthur. The poor kid was the only successful try in a series of failed experiments, with their body, starting with their face, slowly morphing to match the proportions of the target Spirit. Gray's thankful Waver took her on as her apprentice, as he's the first person who tries to understand her pain.
  • Old Kingdom: In the fourth book, Goldenhand, Ferin was raised as a possible host for the Witch With No Face (Chlorr of the Mask) and given the best training, education and care possible. "Ferin" isn't even a proper name, but what she decides to call herself when she's sent to deliver an important message since she was always just called "The Offering". All the tribes that swear fealty to Chlorr practice this, and if the girl isn't chosen by the time she's 17 she is sacrificed instead to return the bit of Chlorr's power that she puts into each girl back to her. One of her flashbacks shows her tribe being reverent but distant to her, since one way or another they know they'll lose her.
  • In On Stranger Tides, Beth Hurwood was not bred for this purpose, but as soon as her father learned about the fountain of youth, he planned to put her mother’s soul into her body. And if that’s not icky enough, the doctor he hired to make sure she was in perfect health wanted to do the same to her with HIS mother’s soul... for similar reasons.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, this is illegal everywhere but the planet Jackson's Whole, where they routinely create clone-donors for the ultra-rich to transplant their brains into. Miles Vorkosigan's clone-brother Mark was created on Jackson's Whole for another reason, but he was raised in the creche with the donors, and is now obsessed with ending the practice by any means necessary, which drives the plot of the tenth book, Mirror Dance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100: Anyone on Sanctum born with black blood is deemed a "host", someone whose body can be inhabited by the Primes, the original founders of Sanctum, kept alive on Body Backup Drives. In theory, a Prime can only take over a body if the host gives their consent, but since Sanctum is run like a cult, where the Primes are worshipped and giving your body to them is the highest honor, our leads aren't shy about saying the hosts are brainwashed into it.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • This was the purpose of the Harsesis. A Harsesis is a child of two people under the control of Goa'uld symbiotes. Since the Goa'uld possess Genetic Memory, such a child would have the memories of both Goa'uld bloodlines, despite being 100% human. Due to the danger of this, it is strictly forbidden for two Goa'uld to have human children. Apophis and Amaunet plan to have one in secret in order to grow the child into a new host for Apophis, giving him greater knowledge (well, just Amaunet's side, since he already has all of his genetic memories). Through a series of events, SG-1 manage to get their hands on the Harsesis. The boy then ends up in the care of Oma Desala, an Ascended Ancient, who helps him ascend as well.
    • The Goa'uld Mad Scientist Nirrti experimented in the creation of "hok'tar" ("advanced humans"), hoping to create a better host body for herself. She was aiming for a body with enhanced physical strength, telepathy and telekinesis, among other powers, though the heavily mutated test subjects each only had one such power at the time SG-1 put a halt to her experiments.
  • Star Trek: Trillian is home to Trill, a humanoid species, and a species of long-lived symbionts who can join with Trill and pass on the collected knowledge and memories of all the hosts they have had before. Because becoming a "joined" Trill confers such immense wisdom, many Trill compete and train their whole lives to earn a spot as a host. There is some Early-Installment Weirdness with their introduction in Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which the host bodies are portrayed as empty shells who are apparently raised like cattle, their personalities to be completely replaced by that of the symbiont, which is instead called a "parasite".
  • Supernatural: In season 5, it is revealed that Sam and Dean Winchester's parents Mary and John were coupled on Heaven's directive through a cupid. The Winchester bloodline goes back to Cain and Abel and gives them the ability to be hosts for the Archangels Michael and Lucifer in preparation for their final fight on Earth once the Apocalypse has begun. Naturally, Sam and Dean rebel.

  • Lilith Nightstar, the Scion of Free Will from For the Spirit of Creation, was raised by a Nihl-worshipping cult to be a vessel for the Enslaver, but when Emerald Mira, a magical girl who befriended her, sacrificed herself to allow Lilith to break free of the Enslaver's control, she resolved to honor her by fighting for Creation, and is now the Enslaver's fiercest enemy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Eberron, the "Empty Vessels" are a group of psionic human families with minor elven and fiendish blood, bred to receive No Saving Throw against possession from a specific member of the quori race. It's also implied that, before the construction of the ovoid monoliths, quori could only possess Empty Vessels (in the present day they can possess any willing creature).

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue:
    • This was originally Noel/Mu-12's fate, being fused with the true Azure, she was meant to be the heart and fuse with Hazama, the body, to create a new Black Beast. But was spared thanks to Takemikazuchi.
    • But this actually was the case with Kazuma Kval in BlazBlue: Phase Shift, being an artificial human created by Relius Clover to serve as a body for Yuki Terumi. While originally his own person, Terumi slowly influenced his mind, making Kazuma act and think more like him until the two fused with Terumi completely overtaking Kazuma's mind.
    • Hazama was also the same way, being an artificial human made by Relius to be fused with Terumi and become his body. However, due to some lingering effects of the Mind Eater, the fusion was incomplete, leaving Hazama and Terumi sharing the same body.
  • This ultimately turns out to be Lord Mortimer's plan in The Council. Depending on the ending you get, he'll reveal to Luis he usually steals the body of one of his children after they've proven worthy enough. He's sired many children during his life and, while he didn't raise Luis himself, he does mentor him throughout the game in order make him a suitable host. Depending on your actions, Mortimer may try and fail to possess Luis, successfully do so, or discard Luis when he finds out he's dying from poison.
  • In Diablo III, Leah was born from the union of Prince Aidan, who was possessed by Diablo at the time, and the Witch Adria, imbuing the infant with part of Diablo's essence. The entire thing ended up being one of Diablo's many contingency plans, providing him a host to inhabit should he be slain. Leah was not raised by Adria specifically, her time being spent carrying out the other part of the Evil Plan involving the Black Soulstone, but it was Adria's intention for Leah all along, which she carried out in one of the cruelest betrayals of the entire series.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Morrigan finds one of her mother Flemeth's grimoires and after reading it comes to fear that this is her mother's intention with her, since Flemeth has apparently been raising her daughters, teaching them magic and then taking over their bodies when her own gets to be too old. Exactly how true this is remains ambiguous, since another of Flemeth's daughters named Yavana from The Silent Grove calls Flemeth's possession "a gift" and refers to it positively, though it's not entirely certain if she had gone through the entire process.
    • Morrigan's own son was deliberately conceived in a magical ritual to host the Archdemon Urthemiel's soul, which is why Morrigan joined the party in the first place since the father had to be a Grey Warden. Unlike Flemeth, Morrigan is shown to unambiguously love her now-10-year-old son Kieran when he's introduced in Inquisition, and he has his own soul as well as Urthemiel's with the two effectively Sharing a Body if the ritual was performed. Otherwise he's just a normal boy.
  • In Dragon Quest X, Estella is revealed to be a host for Nadraga, the God of Astolia's Dragon Race, needed to revive him for his revenge against his siblings for foiling his ambitions to have the Dragons rule over the Human, Ogre, Wetling, Elf, Dwarf, and Poppet races.
  • Several examples from the Fire Emblem series:
    • Julius, the Evil Redhead prince from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, was specifically bred to be the host of the evil dragon Loptous, with the leader of the Loptr Church, Manfroy, going so far as to trick Arvis and Deirdre, who were actually half-siblings but didn't know it, into marrying each other specifically so Julius would possess the required bloodlines.
    • Robin, the player character from Fire Emblem: Awakening, was intended to be this by the cult run by their father Validar, who was part of a long line who had been specifically breeding themselves to host the Fell Dragon Grima, but their mother ran away with the baby rather than have this happen.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses plays with the formula. Rather than the protagonist, it was their mother Sitri who was a clone of Sothis, whose daughter was hoping to resurrect her through the host body. The attempt failed, and it was just a happy accident that Byleth was born and capable of hosting Sothis' spirit, though Sothis herself declined to fully take over and was happy just tagging along.
  • Hollow Knight: The titular character (not the one we play as) has been birthed, raised and trained with the sole purpose of containing the Radiance and her Mystical Plague to prevent it from destroying Hallownest. For that purpose, it, much like every other vessel, was designed with possessing no mind to think with, no will to break, and no voice to cry suffering. Unfortunately, the vessel was "tarnished by an idea instilled", which resulted in it succumbing to the Infection and releasing it across the entire Hallownest, ravaging the kingdom. All other vessels were birthed for the same purpose, but were never successful in leaving the Abyss, and thus, weren't raised to serve as vessels and were sealed off in the Abyss, with only the few successfully managing to climb out.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Young Xehanort says as much about the Organization's true plans for Roxas towards the end of Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]. They needed thirteen vessels to fill with a piece of Master Xehanort's heart to form the Thirteen Seekers of Darkness, and Young Xehanort says Roxas was deemed a prime candidate from the moment Xemnas found him. Unfortunately, Roxas grew his own mind and heart and thus was unsuited for the role. In Kingdom Hearts III, however, they managed to achieve this with more success, as Xion is eventually resurrected specifically to serve as a host for Xehanort, though in the climax she's able to break free of his control.
  • Mega Man ZX Advent: Grey, one of the main characters is revealed to be this for Master Albert. Specifically, he is DAN-003, one of Albert's creations, who he intents to put his will, knowledge and plans into, in the form of Biometal Model A(lbert), in case he somehow fails to finish his plan or see its fruition. Unfortunately for Albert, DAN-003 was forcibly awakened from his brainwashing process, causing him to gain a will and, after finding the truth, get driven to stop Albert.
  • A recurring theme in the Nasuverse:
    • Ciel from Tsukihime is the seventeenth in a long line of spare bodies prepped by a vampire wizard named Michael Roa Valdamjong in his plan for Born-Again Immortality. When Ciel was sixteen, Roa took over her body, but was quickly hunted down and banished by Arcueid. Unlike the previous sixteen hosts, however, Ciel somehow managed to survive the ordeal, realized she couldn't actually die as long as Roa was still around because they were still technically the same person, and dedicated her life to hunting Roa, as well, which is when Shiki meets her in the story proper.
    • Sakura Matou from Fate/stay night was raised by her grandfather Zouken as a future host for his own spirit, as well as for that of the powerful otherworldly entity named Angra Mainyu. It's revealed much later that Sakura was actually adopted, since the Matous had undergone Generational Magic Decline to the point none of Zouken's actual relatives were suitable.
    • Also from Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero, Illyasviel von Einzbern and her mother Irisviel are Artificial Humans created for the sole purpose of holding the Great Grail within their bodies. They are all copies of Justeaze, the original homunculus at the core of the original Grail who first devised the Holy Grail War centuries ago. They are effectively Justeaze's reincarnations and have access to her memories, and she can even speak through them on occasion. The fact that all of the Eizbern homunculi are much Younger Than They Look and arenote  Born as an Adult helps their family members avoid getting attached to them, since Irisviel already looked like a full grown woman and had a daughter of her own by the age of 9.
    • Mash Kyrielight of Fate/Grand Order, who was bred from birth to be the perfect vessel for a Heroic Spirit to use as a Demi-Servant. While earlier chapters were dodgy over who was bound to her, it's eventually revealed that Galahad was the Heroic Spirit in question. Also deconstructed: just because you were raised to be the host doesn't mean the spirit has to comply with you, as Mash learns when Galahad cuts off access to his abilities in Epic of Remnant.
  • Several in the Street Fighter series, due to M. Bison's habit of preparing backup bodies for himself.
    • Seth of Street Fighter IV was created as a one of hundreds of spare bodies for M. Bison, but rebelled against his original purpose and is determined to not give up his personhood, to the point of even starting his own evil organization and attempting to usurp Bison's position when he "died". He also has no soul so Bison will have an easier time taking him over, but this ironically saves his life in the UDON comics during his fight with Akuma, since Akuma's Shun Goku Satsu has no effect on him.
    • From the same game, Abel is considerably more human looking than his "brother" Seth and has no idea who he is at the start of the game, since he was found by someone who's strongly implied to be Charlie Nash with no memory of who he was, and his story arc is a Quest for Identity where he eventually finds this out.
    • And from Street Fighter V, Ed is yet another cloned body of Bison. He undergoes Rapid Aging during the course of the story from a young child to an adult man.
  • Tales of Symphonia:
    • Colette Brunel has been taught since she was born that as The Chosen One it's her destiny to sacrifice her life and humanity for the sake of becoming an angel, and as a result sees her life as only being worth what she can do for others and has an extreme martyr complex. Except that's not what she's actually intended for at all, since her bloodline has been carefully selected for by Cruxis to make her an ideal host body for Martel, the deceased sister of Mithos, who wants to bring her back to life. Eventually Colette willingly allows Martel to speak through her, at which point Martel rips her brother a new one for all the pain he's caused trying to resurrect her, which drives him even further over the edge.
    • Zelos Wilder is the product of the same system on the connected world of Tethe'alla and has many of the same hangups that Colette does, with the added stress that his parents didn't even like each other and only married because Cruxis told them to and both actually loved other people. He heavily resents his position because of what it did to his family and retreats behind a Stepford Smiler mask that only begins to crack as he travels with the party.
  • In XCOM 2, Avatars are vat-grown, non-sentient, genetically perfected humans who are raised solely to become the new bodies of the Ethereals, whose natural bodies are in an advanced state of decay. At the end of the game XCOM has stolen both an Avatar prototype and the data to complete it, plus a human/psionic interface suit and the one human known to have survived the strain of a heavy psionic connection; so they build their own Avatar, who would then be remotely controlled by the Commander during the last mission.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles: Shulk ultimately turns out to be this, having been raised by Dickson because Zanza's soul has inhabited his body, waiting for the day he's able to assert control once again. Unfortunately for Zanza, despite his insistence otherwise, Shulk himself is not Dead All Along. While Zanza is still able to return, Shulk asserts his own will as an individual, ultimately defeating Zanza.

  • In El Goonish Shive, while Ellen wasn't created to be a host herself, her creation was part of a plan to create a host body for Magus.
  • In Girl Genius, it's heavily implied that Lucrezia meddled with her unborn child's genetics to make them a better vessel for her mind at a later date — supporting the theory is the fact that the child in question is Agatha Heterodyne, a rare female Spark (mad scientist) in a family of mostly-male Sparks. Agatha was being raised as a host in a commune of warrior-women who worshiped her mother as a living goddess, but she was rescued by her uncle while still a young child.
  • Homestuck: Doc Scratch wasn't raised, per se (he pretty much sprang into existence, fully formed), but his entire reason for existing is to prepare a universe for the arrival of his master Lord English. At which point he dies, his body breaks open like an egg, and his master emerges from inside. Scratch even foreshadows this by referring to himself several times as "an excellent host".
  • Princess Tonbo from Kagerou is the destined host of the Goddess Tcaolin, and was discouraged from even using her hands to keep the body in pristine condition. She underwent the possession ritual prior to the start of the story but ended up sending her soul away when she was captured, and the bond between her and Tcaolin first weakens then breaks completely.

    Web Original 
  • Discussed in Plumbing the Death Star. The Plumbing Boys say that the natural consequence of the Freaky Friday universe is that every parent would raise children so that the parents could cause a "Freaky Friday" Flip, and then never learn the moral necessary to undo the body swap. This would effectively give the parent eternal life, so long as they keep having kids, switching bodies, and letting the kid they switched bodies with die of old age early.

    Western Animation 
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: The entirety of Horde Prime's army, to some extent. His ability to Body Surf allows him to inhabit any of their bodies at any time, making him functionally omnipresent and immortal. He's shown to maintain the corpses of his previous hosts, which all bear the same unique physical traits distinct from the rest of the army, which means he either grows that variety specifically as his official vessel or alters them once his current vessel dies.
  • In Steven Universe, Rose Quartz died passing on her Heart Drive to her son Steven, which makes most Gems think they're the same person. White Diamond in particular proclaims that Rose created Steven not to be her son and his own person, but as an organic vessel for her to hide from her old life. White is swiftly proven wrong after she pulls Rose's gem from Steven's body, only for it to re-form as a double of him rather than as Rose.