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Sapient House

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Egging houses tends to have a high fatality rate here.

Marge: Hi, Ultrahouse!
Ultrahouse: Greeting acknowledged.
The Simpsons, "Treehouse of Horror XII: House of Whacks"

When a house is alive and has a mind of its own, and can think and act independently. The reasons for this can vary from the house being haunted, being a monster by itself, to the house being robotic. The house may try to kill its owners or may be very helpful with chores. It's usually able to speak, but it doesn't have to.

If it's robotic it may have been made to serve its tenants and will make its owners breakfast and dinner and open doors for them. It can also go horribly wrong. Which it does a lot.

Different from Smart House in that it must be completely sapient and it doesn't have to be AI that makes the house sapient.

In the case that the house is haunted, whatever is haunting the house must be one with the house. They cannot simply inhabit the house.

Compare with Sapient Ship and Base on Wheels. Subtrope of Genius Loci. AI examples may overlap with Smart House.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Puppetmon arc of Digimon Adventure ends with Puppetmon using his powers to bring his mansion to life as a fighting machine. Kind of a wooden Humongous Mecha.
  • In the Digimon Xros Wars manga, Ballistamon is able to become one by DigiXrosing with a pair of Mushmon to become Ballistamon Mush Cottage. Ballistamon himself forms the house with all the expected amenities and a roof that looks like a Mushmon's cap. The Mushmon themselves appear inside and Ballistamon uses speakers to talk to those currently within.
  • In Cyborg 009, what appears to be a haunted house turns out to be the body of Cyborg 0012, who can see everything and everyone who wanders in. Her walls are blast-proof, she can move rooms around and utilize any weaponry equipped to her, and (as an addition in the 2001 anime) she communicates with guests via a ghost-like hologram.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 8 episode 27, Careful S. meets a house that came to life from her wizard owner using lots and lots of magic, which she absorbed overtime. The house, who is quite happy that someone is finally there to play with her, tries to help Careful S. to find the Staff of Wind.

    Audio Dramas 
  • The Doctor Who audio play The Chimes of Midnight builds up to the reveal of the true meaning of the Madness Mantra "Edward Grove is alive": Edward Grove is not the name of a man believed dead, as the protagonists originally assume, but the name of the haunted house itself. It turns out that the psychic energy of a violent death combined with a time paradox somehow granted Edward Grove sentience, and it has been messing with time, and killing people, to lengthen the phenomenon and thereby its own existence as a sentient entity.

    Comic Books 
  • The House is about an evil, sapient house that has existed since prehistoric times, where it first manifested as a cave. It has spent eons assuming different forms while popping up all over Europe, with its latest manifestation being a mansion in Luxembourg during World War II. Anyone who enters the house becomes hopelessly lost in its Alien Geometries while being terrorized by illusions of their worst fears and nightmares, which the house uses to get people to kill each other because it cannot actually directly kill anyone itself. While three soldiers seemingly manage to kill the house by pumping its massive subterranean heart full of lead, the story ends with the reveal that it survived and has been slowly regaining its strength, with the last page showing it as a hole in the ground that swallows up a pair of modern day teenagers.
  • One shows up in a story of Cattivik, thanks to being completely automated and controlled by an AI. One that isn't very bright, considering it mistakes the intruding title character for her new master and doesn't figures out from his antics that he's a thief until he flat-out says it. It ends with the house trying to apprehend Cattivik... And being "killed" in the attempt due the enormous damage Cattivik caused while fighting back.
  • A minor Doctor Strange villain, the House of Shadows, is a being from another dimension that takes the form of cottages, houses, new floors of apartment buildings or condominiums that it integrates itself into, etc. whenever it comes to Earth. Similar entities include the House of Hate from Captain America Comics #58, the House that Death Built from Marvel Tales #112, and the House from Journey into Mystery Vol. 2, #1.

  • When Bruno builds him and Mirabel a little shack in Two butterflies: gone with the wind., it ends up becoming a magical house similar to Casita. They dub it "Casa" and it provides for most of their needs while in exile.

    Films — Animated 
  • Encanto: Casita, the Madrigal family's home, sprung from the same magical "miracle" that saved Alma and her children. It's able to move parts of its walls, floors, windows, and doors around to help out with chores. In addition, individual bedrooms are Bigger on the Inside, verging on being a Pocket Dimension, tailor suited to each Madrigal's desires and magical abilities.
  • Monster House is a perfect haunted house example of this as the house is possessed by the angry spirit of the deceased Constance, who was the wife to the house's owner, Horace Nebbercracker.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Burnt Offerings, which has a dilapidated house kill people in order to acquire the energy necessary to repair itself.
  • In the Sci-Fi Channel original movie Habitat, a scientist's experiments in finding a more habitable place for humans to live turns his house into a huge jungle, and then more or less a house-shaped monster that is willing to defend its inhabitants against intruders.
  • Disney Channel has a comedy movie Smart House featured PAT as the intelligence running a futuristic house won by the protagonist. She's played by Kathy Sagal of Married... with Children fame, so Hilarity Ensues.
  • House on Haunted Hill (1999): The house as a whole has become one because of the Eldritch Abomination Mind Hive residing inside it, with an entire hallway at one point transforming into a gaping jaw.
  • The House That Dripped Blood: While it is never implied that is intelligent, the real estate agent Stoker says that the house reacts to personalities of those who live there, and that the fates that befell the previous tenants were therefore of their own creating, and that they somehow deserved what happened to them.

  • The Amityville Horror house is sometimes interpreted as this. The below Simpsons example is based on it.
  • The original house of the Pandava Brothers in Aru Shah and the End of Time is this. It also has complete control over all the illusions contained within.
  • Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting mentions that Bobby, John Winchester, and Rufus Turner once had to deal with a living house in Oregon. After killing all of its owners, the house was set for demolition, but it kept healing all of the damage that was inflicted upon it by the workers, many of whom it murdered before it was eventually destroyed when it was infested with termites by Bobby, John, and Rufus.
  • The eponymous house from the 99 Fear Street: The House of Evil trilogy was built on a mass grave of murder victims, which apparently tainted the land, with the evil infecting the house as it was being built. The house terrorizes and kills anyone who moves into it, and its evil can physically manifest in the form of a swarm of rats, which can assume human forms to lure in new tenants.
  • The much-quoted opening from Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House implies that the title house is sentient and has been driven mad by not being able to dream.
  • While the exact level of sentience of the inns in The Innkeeper Chronicles is debated in-universe, they are quite capable of helpfully anticipating the needs of someone they like, and hinting at their preferred course of action. Nor are they shy about communicating their dismay at a guest or situation that disturbs or frightens them. They can rearrange their interiors to accommodate the needs and desires of thier keepers and guests, often ignoring conventional physics and geometry in the process.
    Primarily a biological entity, an inn feeds on the magical power that it's guests leak. It can also absorb and transform physical raw materials - it's much more power efficient to feed an inn truckloads of crushed marble and bolts of fabric than it is to ask the inn to synthesize the components from scratch. As an inn ages and matures, it claims a growing bubble of the surrounding land as its grounds, and eventually grows "branches" - wormhole gates to other planets throughout the galaxy. With enough power on tap, it can even place a room at the other end of the wormhole, and provide the same protections afforded to the rest of the grounds.
  • The titular house from The Little House 1942 by Virginia Lee Burton can see and hear everything around her, and her thoughts are described by the narrator. The entire book is written from her point of view and is used to show the passage of time from the changes of the seasons to the gradual buildup of a new city around her.
  • In The Neverending Story, the House of Change is as instrumental in Bastian's recovery as Madam Eloya and Yor.
  • The Wizard Tower in Septimus Heap is described as a quasi-living object.
  • The Shivers novel The Haunting House deals with one of these, and makes a point to spell out what the differences are between them and haunted houses.
  • Nina Kiriki Hoffman's novels A Stir Of Bones and the sequels A Red Heart of Memories and Past the Size of Dreaming feature a magical (and benevolent) sapient house. It's haunted, but the ghost is an entirely separate entity from the intelligence of the house itself.
  • The secret of the Lotus-Eater Machine in The Thief of Always. The mysterious Mr. Hood turns out to BE the house itself, the reason his Minion with an F in Evil can't be more helpful. When the house itself is destroyed in the climax, Hood rebuilds himself using its debris for parts. There's a picture in the book and it is terrifying.
  • Castle Glower from Jessica Day George's Tuesdays At The Castle frequently adds new rooms and passageways to itself, or rearranges the ones that are already there. It doesn't speak, but can use this ability to communicate with and help the people that it likes, as well as to further its own agenda.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Talking houses in The Muppet Show. Seen here
  • The Addams Family's house appears to be this, at times.
  • Rose Red.
  • In The X-Files episode "Ghost in the Machine", security system of an office building has developed malevolent sentience.
  • Eureka has Jack's house S.A.R.A.H. which has an AI with a mind of its own.
  • In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "If These Walls Could Talk", an Alien Kudzu lifeform that crashed down on Earth has been slowly overgrowing an abandoned mansion, effectively becoming a living house in the process. It eats people by absorbing their biomass into itself.
  • The New Avengers: In "Complex", the AI controlling the building seizes control of the building systems and uses them to murder anyone it thinks is getting too close to uncovering its secret.
  • In the final season of Being Human (US), the group encounters Ramona, who they believe is the ghost of a girl killed in their apartment. They later come to learn that she was killed during a Satanic ritual and subsequently was turned into the spirit of the house itself... and she's none too happy when she learns about their plans to leave.
  • The 4400: In the fantasy world created by P.J. in "No Exit", the NTAC building is alive and attempts to kill everyone inside of it. It succeeds in the case of Meghan, Shawn and P.J. himself.
  • The Painkiller Jane episode "Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself" had the team investigate a house that drove whoever stayed in it temporarily insane, presumably due to the presence of a Neuro (mutant). It turns out that the house was once used as an interrogation black site by a pair of overzealous FBI agents who ended up accidentally killing an innocent man (who, unbeknownst to them, was a telepathic Neuro) while subjecting him to Electric Torture. All of the pain and fear that the telepath was feeling at the moment of his death ended up passing into the house through the circuit that the torture equipment was plugged into, and now the house terrorizes people with their worst fears whenever they turn on something electric that is plugged into the circuit. In the end, one of the telepath's killers is shocked by the old torture equipment, which kills him and somehow dissipates the house's rudimentary consciousness.
  • The Haunting Hour episode "My Old House" has a family move out of their sapient house, which only the teenage daughter, Alice, knows is alive. Alice runs away to the house after hearing it beckon to her in the night, but when she eventually tries to leave it again to rejoin her parents, the house goes full Yandere, manifesting a snake-like monstrosity made out of its piping and electrical wiring that attacks and assimilates Alice, whose petrified, creepily-grinning face is later shown protruding from one of the house's walls.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In the original 1E AD&D module, "I6: Ravenloft", one of the towers in Strahd's castle is alive and will try to knock heroes off its stairs or strike them with the halberds mounted along its walls.
  • The Chronicles of Darkness gamelines have a few of note:
    • The base game has the House That Hates, a sapient house that feeds on the sanity of its victims. Of those who buy the house, it picks a central victim that it will leave alive for as long as it can, subjecting said victim to trauma in order to feed. It is unknown whether this horror is a singular being capable of manifesting in multiple places or if multiple such houses exist. Regardless of which, destroying one manifestation will tend to see another appear to target a loved one.
    • The blue book World of Darkness: Book of Spirits describes Charnel Cabins, a type of spirit born from houses that have been the center of some horrible tragedy. In addition to their own powers, these spirits tend to accumulate ghosts and pain- and madness-spirits willing to aid them in attacking humans.
    • The Halfway House in the Mage: The Awakening book Invaders: Encounters With the Abyss is an Abyssal being that takes the form of a house. It shapes itself to have the features its victims would most desire, so that they'll move in. If they don't get out in time, the house disappears, along with everyone and everything inside it. The house appears elsewhere, in a different shape. Its inhabitants are never seen again.

    Video Games 
  • In The 11th Hour, sequel to The 7th Guest, the Stauf Manor was retconned into being both sapient and evil.
  • RuneScape has the Dominion Tower. It is a living tower that speaks though a stone face on the ground floor. It has the ability to manifest bosses the player has previously fought. As you climb the tower you can find journal pages that reveal how the tower was made.
  • Suggested in Anatomy, and later outright confirmed when the house starts to grow a fleshy interior and kills the player.
  • Tibby's mom in Rhythm Heaven Megamix is a living palace/temple that contains the final set of games. Tibby himself will become a similar structure once he grows up.
  • The Shalebridge Cradle from Thief: Deadly Shadows was an orphanage that doubled as an asylum before most everyone within perished in a blaze. The Cradle remembers all the misery and suffering that occurred within its walls, and no one is brave enough to demolish what's left now that it's haunted. The lights appear to breathe, it will lock the doors behind any who dare enter, and it has reanimated the inmates as Puppets—playthings for it's own amusement. Linger too long, and the Cradle will remember you as well, preventing you from ever leaving.
  • The The Witch's House has the titular house itself, which is being possessed by the spirit of current witch Ellen's predecessor and controls the spirits in the house while aiding Ellen in escaping.

  • Castle Heterodyne in Girl Genius is a robotic, and particularly vicious example. It's loyal to the most psychopathic Mad Scientist lineage out there, and it's entirely convinced nightmarish death traps are hilarious.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Lindesfarne and Fenton's tree house.
  • In TwoKinds, the Legacy Estate is infused with a sapient will, which has vast control over both the house and grounds, though with some limits magically imposed on it by its creator.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons: The party encounters one fairly early on, which they find out is called Gwendolyn. It alternates between hating them (trapping Joey briefly) and helping them (killing the Doppelganger which had been troubling the party and generally responding positively to Bananaramawicz's attempts at diplomacy).

    Western Animation 
  • In Dofus: Kerub's Bazaar, Louis is a sentient, talking house who can rearrange his interior structure at will and even move. Why? The whole house is possessed by a Shushu demon, fused with it. He serves as a home for the main characters.
  • In Nickelodeon's Doug episode "Doug on His Own", the title character and Porkchop watch a scary movie called "The Evil House on the Prairie", which is about a cursed house that comes alive and eats every living thing that enters it. Probably not a good idea to watch a scary movie when one is left home alone for the first time since the film's plot revolves around Doug and Porkchop's situation. Doug's decision to watch that movie soon comes back to haunt him when a thunderstorm blows out the power and he and Porkchop go down into the basement to fix it.
  • King has The Tower Of Derision from its titular episode. It's a tower that can manifest a face on its inner and outer walls, and uses it to hurl insults at anyone who tries to climb it until they can no longer take it, and run out, crying.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The original "Treehouse of Horror" episode has a segment in which the Simpsons go to live in a haunted house which can talk.
    • "Treehouse of Horror XII" has a segment, "House of Whacks", featuring a Smart House and parodying 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • In Invader Zim, the title character's house is run by a snarky, put-upon AI known only as "Zim's Computer." There's also the episode "Invasion of the Idiot Dog Brain," when GIR's mind is downloaded and spends months goofing off, then goes on a rampage through town (with the house transformed into a dog-like mecha) for tacos.
  • The Owl House: The eponymous Owl House is embodied by Hooty, an eccentric and incredibly chatty owl's head on the front door. It's occasionally shown that the rest of his house is also part of his body which he can feel through. However, Hooty's head can be detached and reattached as necessary if he wants to go somewhere else.
  • In one episode of Ugly Americans, the wizard Leonard is assigned to talk down a living house into calming its emotional, tenant-killing behavior.
    Leonard: Look, it says here you were built in 1935. How about we start acting our age?
    House: This from an ancient wizard in cowboy boots?
    Leonard: Would you like to talk or be destroyed?
  • An episode of The Real Ghostbusters has this as a twist. Drawn to an old mansion after the disappearance of two teens, the team know something is going on when all the residents are wearing different period clothes, despite it being Halloween. One of the residents, a woman in a French maid outfit, repeatedly runs around hurriedly, repeating "Mason must feed soon." Resident ladies' man Venkman realizes in the finale that she actually is French and is saying "Maison," leading the boys to realize the house itself is the malevolent entity and the people inside are just the spirits of its previous victims.
  • Some episodes in SpongeBob SquarePants imply that Squidward's moai house is sentient, albeit Played for Laughs. In "The Secret Box", it attempts to eavesdrop on SpongeBob and Patrick's conversation, while in "Funny Pants", when SpongeBob is crying all day and night over his supposedly broken laugh box, the moai suddenly gains a pair of giant blue hands to cover its ears in annoyance.
  • "Mike the Evil Living Building" from The Fairly OddParents episode "The Big Superhero Wish!"
  • One episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? involved the gang investigating a Smart House with a state-of-the-art AI that was supposedly haunted. The culprit is revealed to actually be said AI, who was sick of people crediting her creator for all the things she could do.
  • The titular house from the Disney animated short The Little House, adapted from the children's book of the same name. Like in the book, the story is told from the house's perspective. In the cartoon, the house's neighbors qualify too, although they are much less animate than her and can apparently only move their eyes.
  • In Infinity Train, Morgan is a sapient castle. She functioned as a hotel before a Cynicism Catalyst made her misanthropic.
  • Here Comes the Grump: In "Visit to a Ghost Town", Terry and Dawn are in an abandoned town where all the buildings talk.