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Remote, Yet Vulnerable

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"I'm using a spell that makes it so a fairy version of myself takes physical form near a person I want to communicate with, only with a small margin of error, which explains why I didn't appear right by you. My real body is back at the anime martial arts school. If anything happens to this body, I'll feel it, but I won't actually be hurt. No matter how the spell ends, either by choice, or by something bad enough happening to the fairy avatar, I'll simply awaken in my real body. In the meantime, I'm unaware of anything that happens with my real body."
Nanase, from El Goonish Shive.

Suppose your main body is distanced from the means by which you conduct an otherwise dangerous mission; this means you're safe, right?


This is for cases where someone's body is distanced from what they're doing but their body happens to be in danger anyway, whether for related or for separate reasons.

Note that this is distinct from Your Mind Makes It Real. In that trope, anything that happens to your remotely-controlled self also happens to your real self. In this trope, your physical self is being directly threatened while you are currently out of your body; thus, you might not be aware of the danger, or even if you are, you might not be able to stop or escape it.

A character will often end up in this position should they have to embark on a Vision Quest. Especially if they weren't expecting to go on one. If a character tries to prevent this by putting their main body in a location they think is safe but then the location proves to be extremely dangerous, they're in an Unsafe Haven.

See also Actually a Doombot, Astral Projection, Body Surf, Decoy Getaway, Demonic Possession, Enemy Without, Keystone Army, Myself, My Avatar, Remote Body, Robot Me, Slain in Their Sleep, Synchronization and Soul Jar.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, something like this happens in a particularly spoileriffic manner: Kuze, the Major, and Batou are pinned down in an abandoned building on a small island. A nuclear missile has been fired on the island. Meanwhile, the Tachikomas discover that their bodies are actually being controlled by a spacecraft in Earth's orbit and decide to attempt to hack the satellite. When the Tachkomas become aware of the full situation, they order the satellite to block the missile in order to save their beloved Mr. Batou, knowing full well the consequences.
  • Common problem for the Yamanaka clan in Naruto - many of their techniques involve body theft and they rely on their teammates to keep them safe.
  • Schierke, the resident Cute Witch in Berserk, relies on her teammates to guard her during astral travel.
  • A cause of concern for Den in Battle Angel Alita. He's actually Kaos' split personality controlling a Humongous Mecha with a transmitter implanted in Kaos' chest. Alita eventually learns the truth and Den knows she knows his secret.
  • In One Piece, this is the one weakness of Perona's Astral Projection power, which is why she hides her body in a nearby room first. Ultimately, Usopp discovers it, uses a glue bomb to keep her from running after she returns to it, then covers her in fake cockroaches and finally makes her pass out with a huge fake hammer.

    Comic Books 
  • When Doctor Strange is engaging in Astral Projection, he tries to make sure that someone (usually his manservant Wong) will be present to watch over his body to make sure nothing happens to him while he's "gone." Occasionally, however, a threat comes up which is too much for Wong, and this trope plays out straight.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Wolfwalkers, the titular Wolfwalkers leave their bodies behind to run around as wolves whenever they fall asleep. Their human bodies are comatose and completely defenseless until they return, and any injuries they sustain as wolves are reflected on their human bodies. For most of the film, their bodies are safe in their beds, but in the climax, they are directly threatened.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avatar involves Jake Sully working through a Na'vi body remotely controlled by his human form; and then seeing while in Na'vi form that his human body is in danger.
  • The Matrix series:
    • The Matrix. When Cypher pulls his Face–Heel Turn, he starts killing off other members of the crew by disconnecting them forcefully one by one.
    • The Matrix Reloaded. While the crew of the Vigilant is in the Matrix trying to stop the back-up power supply from going online, their hovership is destroyed (and they are killed) by the attack of a bomb-throwing Sentinel.

  • How to Build a Robot Army warns that if you use remote robots to explore a pyramid, any curses you incur will probably still attach to the operator rather than the 'bot.
  • In War of the Spider Queen, where the Villain Protagonist party goes to an astral journey, they leave their half-deamon psycho awake to guard their bodies (and to kill their guide's body, if he tries anything funny. He does).
  • John Scalzi's Lock In features numerous paralyzed characters who remotely pilot robots often quite far from their bodies, which are completely vulnerable. Some paralyzed characters choose to turn off sensation from their bodies and come to believe their robots are them — a character relates the story of one such person who died of a heart attack. The protagonist him/herself is nearly killed by a hired gun. Luckily, his/her dad owns a shotgun. Unfortunately for the dad, his political career is pretty much over at this point, as "black man with a gun" is not an image his party wants for their candidate.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shadowrun:
    • Deckers in the Matrix.
    • When a mage projects himself into astral space, he leaves his body behind on the physical plane.
      • If the body is moved, the mage might might not be able to find his way back to it.
      • If an astral opponent hits the mage's body with a spell, the spell will take effect on the physical plane at that location, possibly affecting the people guarding the mage's body.
  • Earthdawn
    • When a Beastmaster uses the Animal Possession talent to put their spirit in the body of an animal, their own body falls into a coma until they return. During that time, their body can be damaged normally. If their body is killed while they're away, their spirit dies too.
    • Earthdawn Companion. A nethermancer can use the Netherwalk talent to separate their spirit from their body to explore astral space. While the spirit is away from the body, bad things can happen to the body, such as being attacked or killed.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • When a wizard uses an Astral Spell and enters the Astral Plane, they leave their body behind where they can't actively protect it.
    • 1st Edition Advanced D&D
      • Oriental Adventures supplement. A number of spells send the caster's spirit away from their body, which not only leaves the body vulnerable to attack but can leave the caster stranded in spirit form if the body is moved. The spells are "Dream Vision", "Dream Sight", "Possess Animal", "Possess", and "Spirit Self".
      • Fiend Folio supplement. The berbalang can go into a trance and send a projection of itself out onto the Astral plane to hunt for a human being to kill and eat. While the projected form is active, the berbalang is helpless and can be easily killed. If its astral form is killed, the berbalang has a 75% chance of dying from system shock.
      • White Dwarf #18 adventure "The Halls of Tizun Thane". If a Player Character smokes any of the Cagayan Sable black lotus leaves, they will fall unconscious and their soul will leave their body and float around the halls. During this time their body is vulnerable to damage and their soul can be trapped in an airtight chamber. If their soul doesn't return to their body in 20 minutes, the body will begin to lose points from The Six Stats until it does.
    • 2nd Edition Advanced D&D
      • The Complete Book of Necromancers supplement. The Soultravel poison forces the victim's soul to leave their body and enter the Ethereal plane for 40-160 minutes. During this time their body will remain in a death-like coma.
      • The Complete Psionics Handbook supplement. The Psychic Clone power allows the psionicist to create an intangible duplicate which can travel up to 60 feet away. While the duplicate exists, the psionicist's body is completely helpless and can't move.
      • Tome of Magic supplement. The spell Bloodstone's Frightful Joining causes the caster's spirit to possess an undead creature. While the caster's spirit is away controlling the undead, the caster's body lies in a coma and is vulnerable to attacks.
      • Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures. The spell Sand Form allows the recipient's mind to control a body made of sand up to 100 miles away from their true body. While the spell is operating, the recipient's real body is paralyzed and cannot defend itself from attack.
      • Supplement Shaman. While using the spell Animal's Eyes (Seeing Through Another's Eyes), a shaman doesn't know what's happening to their own body, including the body being hurt.
  • DC Heroes:
    • While a character is using the Spirit Travel power, their body is left behind and is very vulnerable.
    • Normally, when a character uses the power Personality Transfer, their body temporarily disappears. However, the power can be bought with the Limitation "Body Left Behind While Transferred". This means that when they're possessing someone, their body remains behind, motionless and apparently lifeless. If their body is destroyed while they're gone, they're in big trouble.
  • Villains & Vigilantes. While a character is using Astral Projection, their body drops into a coma. The body can be attacked while the character is gone.
  • Fantasy Games Unlimited's Psi World. The Astral Projection discipline allows the user to send their consciousness away, leaving their body behind and vulnerable.
  • In Nomine. The Song called Projection allows the singer to send their consciousness elsewhere, leaving their corporeal vessel unconscious. The vessel can be attacked while they're away.
  • Alternity supplement Beyond Science: A Guide to FX. When a shaman enters a trance in order to perform a miracle, they are out of contact with the real world and their body is vulnerable. If he receives a Critical Failure on the skill check for the miracle, his spirit is lost in the spirit world. If the spirit is lost for too long, the spirit fades and the body is left in a vegetative state.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. When a shaman uses the Spirit Journey ritual their spiritual self leaves their body and travels through the spirit world. If their spirit spends too long away their body will waste away and die, stranding them there.
  • Hero System Fantasy Hero Companion. The magical College of Sense and Exploration includes the spell Astral Projection. While the mage's spirit is away from his body, the body is very vulnerable and the mage's spirit doesn't have a magical link to it. If the body is killed the mage will die, and if it is moved the mage will have no idea where it was taken and can't return to it.
  • Ares magazine
    • Issue #12 article "Adventures in Albion: Role-Playing in the Land of Faerie". The enchantments of Albion that were presented in the "Albion: Land of Faerie" game in Ares magazine #11 are translated into Dragon Quest rules. The Enchantment of Mental Attack requires the user to hide his body in a safe place, then send his mind out to attack opponents on the Astral Plane.
    • Issue #15 game "Nightmare House". A character can decide to separate their psyche from their body and explore the House on the Astral Plane. If they do so, however, they risk becoming Lost or having the House successfully attack their Psyche. If either occurs, the House can possess their body and use it as a weapon.
  • GURPS 3rd edition supplement GURPS Undead. If a person's soul leaves their body for any reason (such as undergoing a near-death experience), any ghost nearby can try to possess the body with a high chance of succeeding. If the ghost expends enough fatigue and gets really lucky, they can control the possessed body for up to 36 days.
  • The Dragon Tree Spell Book. The spell Soul Swap can be used to put the caster's soul into an inanimate object. If so, the caster will die in 10 minutes to an hour. Also, while the caster's soul is away the body can be taken over by a spirit, such as a wandering ghost.
  • Judges Guild's generic RPG supplement Masters of Mind. The psionic skill Spirit Speak allows the user's mind to travel to the plane where a person's soul/spirit travels after death. While the user's mind is on this plane their body remains back in reality, vulnerable to attack. If the user's mind is trapped in the realm of the dead, their body will die after several days.

  • BIONICLE. The Kanohi Iden allows the user to separate their spirit from their body, which is limp and vulnerable.

    Video Games 
  • In Star Wars: Battlefront II, you are killed if the turret you are remote controlling from the bridge on a capital ship is destroyed in a space battle. Something about the control panel feeding back. Additionally, you're immobile while using the turret, so an enemy boarding your ship can easily go up and shoot you in the back. This also applies to the remote-controlled missiles and Recon Droids, which are controlled manually but take control away from your character while active, making you a sitting duck.
  • On Mega Man 5 Stone Man's attack is quite impressive and it takes a long time to disappear from screen, time during which time Megaman can't attack again.
  • On Mega Man X4, you get the special ability "Soul Body" which is basically a hologram of X that does damage. However, if the real X is damaged the hologram disappears. If you charge the ability you can create a Hard Light clone of X (without any armor parts or the ability to charge though), however the real X freezes wherever he was when he summoned it, and loses any momentuum he had previously, meaning that if you summoned him somewhere where the terrain could be destroyed or moved, you are in danger of dying after the clone disappears. Zero also get's his ability, Raijingeki, a powerful middle range attack, that can't be interrupted once started, meaning that any opnonent can attack him from any angle that is not directly in front of him
    • In Mega Man X5, Zero gets the ability Twin Dream, which is basically the same as X's Soul Body, and the W-shredder, which is also similar to the other, but his drawback is the one of the Raijingeki. X meanwhile gets the F-Laser, a remote control attack that has the combined drawback of both uncharged and charged Soul Body (freezes X, and can be hurt while using it)...however when charged it is a bit of a Game-Breaker. Another weapon is the Tri-Thunder, while used normally is a good weapon that fires in 3 directions dealing a descent amount of damage, when charged a lot of lightning bolts appear on screen for a few seconds...randomly, meaning that you can't aim it at your opponent leaving you open for an attack (you still have your regular buster, though).
  • The boss "Judgement" from the second House of the Dead game consist in a tiny petulant imp controlling a huge axe-wielding suit of armor. The armor itself is invincible, and the only way to stop it is to shot the imp instead.
  • BattleTanx subverts with the Guided Missiles. If the player's tank is destroyed while it is using Guided Missiles, the player will continue to control the missile until it hits something.
  • Grand Theft Auto 2 double-subverts this with remotely operated vehicles; yes, the game is designed such that the player character is unlikely to be attacked while the camera perspective focuses on the remotely operated vehicle. But that won't protect you if you're standing next to a burning car when the remotely operated part starts, and if said burning car explodes before said remotely operated part is over.
  • The second-to-last boss of Geist can be difficult due to this. The best way to defeat him is to leave your body, possess the missiles he fires at you, and pilot them back at him. But you have to be careful, as enemy ghosts are prone to jumping into your body and running into a One-Hit Kill furnace if you aren't there to resist it.
  • The team's commander in Battlefield 2 primarily does his job from a top-down, RTS-like view, but still has a physical presence on the map. As such, it's generally a good idea to hide in some distant and unpopulated area, preferably inside of some kind of structure to prevent the enemy commander from lobbing artillery at you.
  • Certain biomods in Deus Ex: Invisible War allow you to manually control turrets or bots. Alex D remains fully vulnerable, though the HUD still displays Alex D's Life Meter and gives you a notification if they are directly attacked.
  • Heroes of the Storm: Abathur has virtually no direct combat ability due to his low health and weak attack, and he mainly acts through controllable Symbiotes placed on allies. While a Symbiote is active, Abathur can only control the Symbiote, meaning that his physical body is immobile and can be easily killed by any enemy that finds him.
  • Warframe: the Second Dream quest has you trying to prevent the Stalker from pulling this on the Tenno by attacking the Reservoir, the source of all their powers. If he didn't have that last scrap of compassion, he would have succeeded.
  • Imani's Ultimate ability in Paladins summons a dragon that she can control. While controlling the dragon, Imani is completely immobile and can be killed if an enemy happens to find her. Players must strike a balance of being far enough from the control point that enemies can't just walk up to her casually, but close enough that the dragon has time to reach the point before getting gunned down.
  • In Rainbow Six Siege both teams have access to a network of cameras and drones that they can control through their phones. Their player models are immobile and unaware of their surroundings in this mode, allowing opponents to sneak up on them and kill them if given the opportunity.

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