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Self-Healing Phlebotinum

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"A self-replicating shuttle?" Harry smirked. They were walking down the corridor away from the shuttle bay, where Tom had been proudly showing off his latest brainwave.
Tom was too enthusiastic to notice his scepticism. "A unique combination of Borg and Starfleet technology," he said, waving an isolinear spanner for emphasis. "When one shuttle crashes or is destroyed, a new one's created, fully operational, in our shuttlebay by next week."
The Voyorgy Conspiracy

Not all Applied Phlebotinum can be Made of Indestructium. But some phlebotina have the next-best thing: the non-living equivalent to a Healing Factor. These devices or objects can, given time and perhaps a little more, return to a perfect state without the need for repair work.

There are four basic ways for this to work:

  • Gradual Recovery: The phlebotinum gradually repairs itself as if it were a living thing with a Healing Factor (indeed, it may be partly alive, thanks to Organic Technology).
  • Instant Recovery: As soon as some condition is met (escaping battle, reaching a certain temperature), the item immediately returns to its ideal state, possibly in a flash of light or another special effect.
  • Costly Recovery: As either of the above, but something must be sacrificed to the object. This may be a simple base material, or a local source of mana, but if the object is evil, it will be something more sinister, such as blood or even souls.
  • Offscreen Recovery: The item disappears from view temporarily, either just left offscreen or actually banished to some other plane of existence. When next seen, it is good as new. One can infer that the same healing process is happening, but we aren't shown it, possibly to save on the special effects budget.

The explanation for this ability can of course vary from anything like magic to nanomachines. And thanks to advances in nanotechnology and metallurgy, this property is becoming increasingly plausible in Real Life. Already metal panels exist that, when deformed, gradually regain their original shape.

Regeneration isn't always a good thing, however. It can be what makes a Clingy MacGuffin or Sentient Phlebotinum reappear when it's seemingly been destroyed, and make that Artifact of Doom all the harder to get rid of.

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    Examples of Gradual Recovery 
Anime & Manga
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Intelligent Devices are capable of gradually repairing battle damage thanks to their nature as Magitek and can even have their recovery sped up dramatically with enough mana output from their wielders. That said, they still need to undergo regular maintenance from a trained Device Meister, and any damage severe enough to cause their AI to suffer a system crash will probably require parts to be replaced outright.

Fan Works

  • Triptych Continuum: SUN and MOON appear to have some self-repair capabilities and are gradually recovering from the damage inflicted by Discord's misuse. However, this process is extremely slow, and Celestia suspects that the self-repair systems may themselves be damaged.


  • In Forbidden Planet, the Krell machines are said to be self-servicing and self-maintained.


  • Invoked in Harry Potter: According to the Lovegoods, Snorkack horns reform a few months after exploding, unlike Erumpent horns. Only the latter are known to exist in the setting, the former widely regarded as a myth.
  • Presumed Dead by Rick Kennett. The protagonist has crashlanded on an alien planet but doesn't want to be rescued and sent back into the war, so there's a Running Gag of her smashing up her radio for Percussive Therapy, only for the radio to keep repairing itself.
  • Star Wars Legends: The Qellan ghost ship that appears in Black Fleet Crisis is made of a self-healing metallic material called laminanium. During the Yuuzhan Vong War Lando Calrissian uses the material in the armor and structural components of his Yuuzhan Vong Hunter droids to make them able to take even more punishment. For their part all Vong technology is organic and can heal from varying amounts of damage depending on the item.

Live-Action TV

  • Babylon 5: Several scenes mention that the Vorlon and Shadow technology allows for autorepair due to being Organic Technology. The Minbar used Organic Technology in the Whitestars, but the enemy could overwhelm their autorepair systems.
    • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In one episode, Sheridan is taking to Marcus in the opening scenes, as Sherridan looks outside, the damaged wall of the Whitestar gradually repairs itself.
  • Blake's 7.
    • The first spaceship the protagonists get, The Liberator, had self-repair circuits allowing the ship to repair itself without help from the crew. The speed of repair generally depended on the level of damage; the worse the damage, the faster the repairs. Justified by minor damage being harder to locate. The Liberator is only destroyed when the ship is infected with an enzyme that eats away at the hull, inflicting minor yet constant damage that drains their power banks.
    • In "Pressure Point", an automated Forbidden Zone is protected by a self-repairing energy grid that burns up anyone who tries to cross it. The protagonists have to blast a hole through with their handguns, then run through in the eight seconds it takes to repair itself.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The TARDIS has been all but destroyed on at least one occasion and required time to recover, although it appears that this only applies to its "heart" and not the ancillary equipment used to "drive" the TARDIS. The vessel is considered a Living Ship in any case, but it seems a mechanical form of life. In "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" the characters encounter a tree-like matrix on which cells grow which can develop in to any kind of technology, making repairs trivial.
    • "The Tsuranga Conundrum": The sonic screwdriver is damaged when the Pting briefly swallows it, but later in the episode it's managed to reboot itself just when the Doctor needs it again.
  • Human-form Replicators in Stargate SG-1 can regenerate from damage dealt by virtually any weapon except the anti-Replicator gun. Regular Replicators are also sometimes seen reforming after being blown apart, though there's apparently a critical mass of blocks that have to be within a certain distance of each other for this to work.
  • In some episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation the dilithium crystals which allow the warp drive to function can develop cracks if overused, but will heal themselves as long as the warp drive is rested for a while.

Tabletop Games

  • Classic Traveller, Paranoia Press supplement Merchants and Merchandise. Delta Research sold a device called an E-Circuit Module. When installed on an object (such as a starship), it would gradually repair any damage to the object.
  • Shadowrun. Bioware (implanted artificial tissue) and cyberware could have repair nanites that would fix any damage done to them.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Adventure S1 Tomb of Horrors. The PCs can encounter a huge glowing orange gem which is a cursed Gem of Wishing. If one of them dares to touch the gem and make a Wish the gem will explode, leaving a mass of stinking purplish mold which bubbles and chuckles. In 1 week the mass will reform as the glowing orange gem.
    • In 3rd edition, dwarven Dendritic Armor is crafted for a single owner by socketing together "living stone" around their body, and cannot be removed without breaking it. However, as long as they carry a piece of the armor, it will grow back over the course of 8 hours. As a side effect of its regenerative properties, the armor sheds a fine dust from its joints whenever the wearer moves, making them slightly easier to track.
    • Objects created from the sacred metal Aurorum can be mended simply by touching the shattered pieces back together.
  • Pathfinder can have items be made out of two self-healing materials. Living Steel which is harvested from trees that absorb so many nutrients that they become like metal themselves. Or Greenwood a very carefully created weapon that is pretty much a still living branch of a tree. They have to be watered and planted regularly or they shrivel up and die. But for a druid, meeting those requirements is easy.
  • BattleTech: The Clans use an agent called HarJel in their Elemental Battle Armors. If the suit is damaged, HarJel acts like a sealing agent and also sterilizes suffered wounds and numbs the pain of the wearer. It is also uses to instantly seal ruptured hulls of spaceships. The secret behind it's mass-production is closely guarded by one Clan and thus the product is highly valued throughout Clan Space and the Inner Sphere.

Video Games

  • In the end of Escape from Monkey Island, both the Humongous Mecha monkey that Guybrush pilots and the Living Statue of LeChuck regenerate their health at a phenomenal rate. So fast, in fact, that it's futile for them to fight each other and you have to find another way to defeat LeChuck.
  • In the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty campaign, the Protoss crystal in the lab gives this power to the Hyperion. An late optional upgrade in the campaign allows all Terran buildings to slowly self-repair.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the Sacred Shield and its upgrades regenerates its break meter over time. Unless it shatters completely, of course. Then you have to buy a new one.
  • Similarly, the Master Sword is shown to have this ability in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It will not permanently break like every other weapon, but instead will merely run out of energy and require time to charge. As shown in a cutscene, even if damaged to the point where it does break, leaving it in its pedestal and giving it enough time will eventually see it back to its old self. This also rather handily explains how the different Links can keep using the same weapon across hundreds of years.
  • Polaris ships in EV Nova are Living Ships and will gradually regenerate from hull damage, whereas Federation and Auroran ships use Regenerating Shield, Static Health.
  • In the backstory of Knights of the Old Republic, as the Infinite Empire was collapsing, the Rakata sabotaged the Star Maps on each of their conquered worlds. Twenty thousand years later, the Star Maps had repaired themselves enough that Revan and Malak were able to discern Lehon's location by gathering information from five of them.
  • In both Battle Zone 1998 and its sequel, the Equal Armor Distribution system on the biometal tanks is the game's Hand Wave for why tanks take equal damage from all directions and suffer from Critical Existence Failure - try blasting through its rear, and the excess biometal elsewhere on the tank will reshape and shift across the tank to protect the area, until the tank has no biometal left and is destroyed. In Battlezone II, the Scions' morphing tanks can (very slowly) regenerate their biometal hulls when in the slower Assault mode, while the more agile Combat mode allows them to slowly regenerate their ammo.
  • In the Metroid series, Samus's Power Suit is capable of doing this slowly over a lengthy period of time. The concept is first mentioned in the franchise by her in Volume 3 of the Samus And Joey manga, and was shown for the first time in-game in Metroid Dread. In that game, her suit is still recovering from the traumatic amputation/surgery it underwent in the intro of Metroid Fusion, and it is slowly regenerating the metallic and heavier components of its armor: in the meantime, there are many unarmored spots and what are essentially exposed muscle fibers/organic tissue as it is healing.

Western Animation

    Examples of Instant Recovery 
  • Nightmares segment "The Bishop of Battle". After J.J. Cooney beats level 12 and reaches level 13 of the title arcade game, the game falls apart and game opponents pour out and attack him. After Cooney exits the arcade the game pulls itself back together into one piece, ready for its next victim.
  • The Blanks in The World's End regenerate instantly and completely soon after being destroyed. They continue to do this even after the Network powering them leaves the planet.

Video Games

  • Tarkasian Living Steel in Sword of the Stars is implied to have this or possibly Costly Recovery. (After battles, ships equipped with it heal somewhat.)
  • In Mega Man ZX, you can collect new Biometals from the 8 bosses. Depending on whether you attack their weak point (which houses the Biometals) or not, they'll be damaged to various degrees; it will affect their weapon energy bar. You can have it fixed by Fleuve for a cost, or waiting until the boss respawns for a rematch.

    Examples of Costly Recovery 
Anime and Manga
  • In Naruto it is eventually revealed that Zabuza's sword has the power to repair itself by leeching the iron out of blood.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Gunmen regenerate when infused with fighting spirit. Usually they return to their damaged state after the battle is over.


  • In The Stormlight Archive, Shardplate armor can be fixed, even if a piece of it is shattered, by installing gemstones infused with Stormlight. The gemstones usually crack in the process. And like a starfish, if you have only one piece, you can eventually regrow the whole Plate, unless someone else has a larger piece and is doing the same thing.

    Examples of Offscreen Recovery 
Anime and Manga
  • In Bleach, if a Zanpakuto is broken, it will eventually repair as long as its owner is alive.


  • In Excalibur, the titular weapon is supposed to be indestructible, but Arthur manages to do the unthinkable and break it by misusing it to kill the perfect knight, Lancelot. Distraught, Arthur hurls the sword into a lake, and when he repents, it is returned to him in perfect condition.

Video Games

  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Master Sword has limited durability like all other weapons. If used up, however, instead of breaking it becomes inert for ten minutes while it recovers, then reappears good as new.
  • Homeworld 2: The Progenitor Keeper has the ability to disappear into hyperspace when damaged, then returns a short while later having completely repaired itself.