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Soulless Shell

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The great love of the hero's life has died, and the hero simply cannot take the grief. Desperate to have his significant other returned to him, the character delves into things better left unlearned and discovers a way to bring the loved one back.

Unfortunately, something goes horribly awry, causing them to come back wrong.

The loved one's body is restored. They look like themselves. They breathe and move. But there's nothing inside. They are just a puppet. Their eyes are frighteningly empty. Whatever magic or technology used to bring them back couldn't quite finish the job and couldn't restore the essence of what they were to the body. They are no longer the person that the hero loved. Now, they are just a thing masquerading as a human being. They're not likely to hurt anyone directly, but the hero is probably going to have a serious—and quite possibly suicidalbreakdown.


Many clones are depicted like this, empty without the original soul, because Science Is Bad and can't truly ''Create Life." These resurrectees are likely to become an Emotionless Girl, Extreme Doormat, or an extremely unmotivated Stoic or everything may go well. Their lack of will often means characters will let them be possessed by something, treating it as Possessing a Dead Body without the bad smell. If they are tossed away, very likely they will become independent personalities and seek revenge on their creator/humanity.

There's also P-Zombies. If it talks like a person and it acts like a person, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a person... Contrast Empty Shell and The Soulless.

This is a sub-trope of Came Back Wrong. Also may be the result of Your Soul is Mine!.

If you were looking for the Fan Fic of the same name, it's here.


As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Chrono Crusade:
    • Aion needed the power possessed by a family, but—oops!—he just happened to kill them off while trying to recruit them to his side. How does he solve this? He gets his Evil Genius, Shader, to revive one of the children of the family. And thus, Fiore, the mysterious meido "doll" is created.
    • There's another example in the manga, where Azmaria's foster father is attempting to use her healing powers to restore the soul to the soulless body of his dead wife.
    • The Empty Shell subtype is played straight in the anime, where it's heavily implied that Fiore really isn't Satella's sister, she's only built in her likeness; the notion that there was something left of her in Fiore was only wishful thinking on Satella's part. In the manga, though, Fiore doth protest too much. She tells Satella that she isn't her sister, that she's just a soul made to inhabit the body... but this is after she cooked "my sister's favorite foods" for Azmaria, because "you remind me of her."
  • In the first real Arc of Slayers Next, the heroes are fighting against a wizard who is conducting forbidden research into immortality. His goal, as it turns out, is to resurrect his dead girlfriend, who died when one of his experiments went awry. At the end, he actually succeeds, but she only comes back as an Empty Shell, possessing barely enough of a mind to beg him to kill her. He sets off a magical explosion that levels his mansion and kills them both, to finally bring them Together in Death. This is notably different from the original light novels, where Copy Rubia survives, but is regarded as a different person than the Rubia who died. She reappears in the final novel, where she is living happily and owns a greenhouse. Unusual in that the anime is generally Lighter and Softer than the novels.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Shou Tucker, now nothing more than a wrongly crafted chimera, goes to great length to attempt to resurrect his dead daughter Nina. He creates a chimera likeness of Nina and flip-flops between different sides to get his hands on a Philosopher's Stone to re-bind her soul to the created body. When he finally obtains one, he successfully makes Nina's new body 'live', but there is no soul to inhabit it and it is a shell without a consciousness. Tucker, who is at this point irredeemably mad, doesn't even realize he's failed and is last seen playing with the living doll.
    • There's also an early episode where an alchemist whose true love died when he was a young man has been trying desperately to resurrect her ever since. Eventually he's able to create a new body for her, but it's really just a puppet. He doesn't understand why he can't bring her soul back. Because she isn't dead, she survived the accident but lost her beauty and was too ashamed to return to him. Tragically, the old woman tries to tell him the truth when she learns he's been trying to bring her back to life all these years, but he refuses to believe her; his true love was a beautiful young woman, not some ugly old lady.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gendo Ikari created a series of clones from a combination of the DNA of his beloved wife, Yui, and Lilith, the second Angel. These clones are Empty Shells which ended up being a part of the Dummy Plug system. One clone, however, had Lilith's soul fused with it as a part of Gendo's plan to be with Yui again, and became Rei Ayanami. While she more or less functions as a human being, she gives off strong Emotionless Girl vibes, and the emotions/feelings that she builds up throughout the series get somewhat reset when she dies and is replaced. The other clones, held in a tank full of LCL deep inside NERV headquarters, all have perpetual smiles of mindless, vapid bliss, which makes them that much creepier to behold. Also subverted in that Rei has opinions and beliefs, reads and learns a lot, and her sense of right and wrong are strong enough to be noticed and for Ritsuko to be concerned what Rei might do if she knew the truth.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam:
    • Might have been the case with Gentle Chapman, as after his death, he's revived as a soul-less zombie whose body is infested with DG Cells and usually just laughs maniacally; the only word he seems to speak is "Die!"
    • Subverted by Schwarz Bruder, though, as he was revived similarly (dead body infused with a BIG dose of DG cells), yet he counts more as Possessing a Dead Body since Kyouji Kasshu (the Brainwashed and Crazy Seitai Unit of the Devil Gundam) used his last bits of sanity to imprint his original personality and looks in Schwarz.
  • Urasue's resurrection of Kikyō in Inuyasha initially created little more than an animate doll because Kikyō's soul had already been reincarnated into Kagome, preventing any of her original personality from inhabiting the body Urasue had created. Inu-Yasha's unwitting interference, however, allowed part of the soul to transfer back to Kikyō, upgrading her to Damaged Soul.
  • In Future Diary, it is revealed that a God can bring back a person to life, but only the body. The mind and soul cannot be brought back to life. As a result, all you have is an empty shell.
  • After being killed by Neferpitou early in the Chimera Ant arc of Hunter × Hunter, Kite has his body reanimated by her to use as a Training Dummy for the other ants, which would've easily been a Fate Worse than Death if he still had his own consciousness.
  • Mushi Shi has an episode in which a pair of star-crossed lovers decide to run away together. The town's only exit is a rickety bridge. As the two begin to cross, the girl begins to have second thoughts. As her boyfriend tries to encourage her to continue, she takes a step and falls through the planks of it before he is able to catch her. Miraculously, she returns to the village unscathed sometime later. Despite this, she no longer speaks and does little more than follow him occasionally and sit in one place. Ginko spends a little time trying to discover why this is while he boyfriend goes back to the place where the bridge was and finds it seemingly intact. Having discovered the cause, Ginko warns the boy not to cross the bridge, informing him that his girlfriend is really dead and was only acting in that manner due to the Mushi which possessed her after she fell. His efforts are fruitless and the boy plummets to his death only to mysteriously resurface in the village..

    Comic Books 
  • One-Eye in ElfQuest. Specifically, Leetah could restore his body to working order but not return his spirit (despite both ending up in the Palace of the High Ones eventually), leaving the Empty Shell breathing but comatose.
  • The resurrection of Green Arrow required this wrinkle to be ironed out; when Hal Jordan (as Parallax) revived him, the soul chose to remain in Heaven, right up until the moment an occultist was about to transfer his own soul to the body, allowing the poor bastard and his friends to be repeatedly attacked by various demonspawn. While the body lacked a soul, thanks to Parallax, possessed Ollie's memories and personality at a time before he was stuck in the downward spiral that eventually culminated in his death. Oddly enough it's the Soulless Shell who convinces Green Arrow to merge with it and come back to life for real.
  • X-Factor: Used to explain the reason for time traveler Trevor Fitzroy's villainy. He was a good man who died and was brought back without a soul. This apparently happens to everything Layla Miller brings back to life too. Layla was aware of this when she revived Fitzroy, but his specific powers were needed to defeat the villain of the story so she did it anyway.
  • In Captain Marvel #29, the mysterious being Eon during his mentoring of Mar-vell's change from warrior to Protector of the Universe granted the captain’s wish for the resurrection of his long deceased love interest, Una. However, she Came Back Wrong and attacked Mar-vel. Eno gives him a Be Careful What You Wish For speech. He got exactly what he wanted, his beloved returned to life. It left her without a soul. Eon left Una on the asteroid she was revived on. An action which came back to bite Mar-vell in the ass in issue #40 of his book
  • Jason Todd (the second Robin) was catatonic after his resurrection and Ra's al Ghul considered him to be this, in Red Hood: The Lost Days he did at least once show emotion which Talia took to mean her father was wrong.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 5: When Deimos and Phobos steal the soul from Veronica Cale's daughter to blackmail Veronica into working with them she's left alive but entirely unresponsive and without any facial features. Her unaging body does not need to eat or breath in this state, but while the body is technically alive there is no one home.

    Fan Works 
  • In one chapter of a Sailor Moon drabble series, Kunzite reanimates Venus' corpse after the Moon Kingdom war. However (as Venus' soul has been reincarnated into a new body) the result is an emotionless, unblinking...thing. This is probably for the best.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Dan Simon's short story "The River Styx Runs Upstream" takes place in a world with widely available technological resurrection of this type.
  • Khal Drogo gets resurrected as a brain-dead husk in the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire, as part of a revenge ploy by an old priestess whose people he had conquered. Making this especially tragic, Daenerys was tricked into sacrificing her unborn child to pay the blood price for this; she thought she was agreeing to sacrifice Drogo's horse. Shortly thereafter, she smothers him to death with a pillow, then burns the priestess alive on Drogo's funeral pyre.
  • Harry Potter
    • The Inferi are reanimated corpses, but lack wills of their own and are mere puppets of the Dark Wizards conjuring them.
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows introduced the Resurrection Stone, which was first depicted in a children story called The Tales of Beedle the Bard. In the story, the second brother tried to defy death and asked for an artifact to revive his dead lover. Unfortunately, no magic can resurrect the dead and he could only bring her (very unhappy) soul back, driving him to suicide in despair.
    • The fate of those who suffer the Dementor's Kiss. Nobody knows what happens to their soul, only that it's lost forever and the body remains in a vegetative state until it dies.
  • In Larry Niven's short story "What Good Is a Glass Dagger?", it is revealed that in the world of fading mana, Necromantic magic cannot actually bring a person back to life; all it can do is produce empty shells.
  • Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary features an ancient burial ground. Animals that are buried here mostly come back as Soulless Shells, or sometimes, aggressive. Humans came back as horrifying monsters.
  • Once upon a time Anita Blake, Animator, actually raised zombies. And Hamilton crafted a startlingly logical world wherein the dead could be animated for a brief period of time by sacrificing a life (usually a chicken or goat). To use an automotive simile: the corpse is a dead car, the hapless chicken is a battery, and Anita is the jumper cable.
  • In Mortal Engines, cyborg soldiers called "Stalkers" can be made by combining a human dead body with a robotic life support system and brain. Most of them come back as Soulless Shells, with only basic robot senses and no remnants of their former personality, but some don't. By the end of the series, they are in wide use by the Green Storm and form about half their army. Casualties are high in the living parts of the aforesaid army.
  • Most of the undead raised in The Death Gate Cycle end up like this- technically, their souls are still there, but have mostly separated from their bodies, with the result that they remember their lives but have only a limited ability to respond to the world around them, being able to do so only if they have a memory of a similar situation (and then, they'll usually stick to that exactly, even if the current situation no longer matches up- for example, in a battle between zombie armies, the warriors will ignore actual attacks in order to block or dodge ones they remember from battles they fought while alive- years or decades ago). Attempting to converse or make use of them is... frustrating, to say the least. However, if the reanimation spell is performed wrong, the soul only partially separates, and the result is a lazar, which is more like an insane Monster from Beyond the Veil.
  • The Lifeless from Warbreaker are like this- they're zombie-like undead who possess the brains, but not souls, they had in life, meaning they can still use learned skills but lack free will or volition and will slavishly obey anyone with the authority to command them. Word of God is that there is more of the original person in there than most people think, but generally only shows itself in extreme circumstances.
  • Dracula somewhat implies this after the death of Lucy and the undead being she becomes.
  • In the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy, Exalts have nanotech that can eventually repair their bodies from nearly any injury, even biological death. However, when the damage is extremely severe, the person's mind might not be recoverable. Those resurrected by their nanomachines without their minds are nothing but empty shells, and are used as Body Backup Drives by those in the opposite situation — minds preserved but bodies destroyed beyond repair. This is a recipe for angst for their living relatives; Tristen Conn, for instance, is forced to interact with the antagonist Dorcas while Dorcas is inhabiting the former body of his mind-dead daughter Sparrow.
  • In Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber, a character magically retrieves his wife just a little too late, getting her body but not her soul. She is able to move and even converse, but her self, desires, emotions, etc. are missing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This is what happened to Sara Lance in Arrow when Laurel and Thea put her in the Lazarus Pit after she'd been dead for some time. John Constantine later performed a ritual that let them bring her soul back.
  • Buffy:
    • Professor Walsh from season 4, thanks to Adam. This is spectacularly creepy. This is what vampires are described as in the Buffyverse. As she put it, "You're dead, and a demon that thinks it's you sets up shop where your soul used to be".
    • This is part of the reason Angel (a vampire cursed with a soul so he can feel remorse and be tormented by his actions) doesn't go by his human name. He doesn't consider himself that person, not really. He's a demon with a soul, not a human trapped in a vampire body.
  • Doctor Who: "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances": Jamie, the titular Empty Child, would fit here, though with a bit of Body Horror as well — resurrected by nanogenes that don't have a very good idea of human biology, he's creepily vacant, obsessed with finding his "mummy", and spreads said nanogenes to other people, which enslaves them to his will. His slaves are actually something of a better fit, considering that they literally have no self-motivation unless Jamie is controlling them.
  • Fringe: A man tried to bring back a girl he was in love with by stealing her transplanted organs from their recipients. Although he succeeded (briefly), he told the FBI agents that he looked at her eyes and could tell it wasn't her, that he had created a soulless monstrosity.
  • Sayid on Lost returns from the dead "infected"-so now he can feel no emotions and kills without a second thought. His good heart eventually won out and he sacrified himself to save his friends.
  • So Weird: "James Garr" features a science-y form of this: the eponymous character had been cryonically frozen because of an incurable illness. When he's thawed out a decade later and cured, James Garr is left a soulless automaton, because his body "seemed" dead, so his soul had moved on to the afterlife.
  • The Stargate Atlantis episode "Miller's Crossing" features a swarm of nanites being used to save a girl suffering from an incurable form of cancer. Though the cure works perfectly, the nanites were never programmed to shut down afterwards, and progress to fixing everything in the patient's body regardless of necessity: after a brief Hope Spot, they stop the patient's heart for an extended period to repair her heart murmur, effectively killing her. Though they're able to revive her easily and repair the brain damage she suffered when her heart stopped, this has the unfortunate side-effect of erasing all her memories and reducing her to an unresponsive vegetable.
  • The reason Dr. McCoy (and a few other characters) are wary of the transporters in Star Trek. They know that the devices destroy and reconstruct people — but are they still the same person?
  • Dr. Bashir in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine defies this trope in "Life Support," telling Major Kira that he could replace Vedek Bareil's failing brain with a machine but won't because this would be the result.
  • Supernatural: Sam in Season Six. Whether or not he technically died is debatable, but when he was pulled from Hell, his soul was accidentally left behind. His lack of a soul turns him into a complete sociopath, callously sacrificing people to kill more monsters, and he eventually tries to murder his surrogate father to remain that way forever ('justifying' it as reports state that his soul would be irreparably traumatised by its time in Hell).
    • Later in the series, Season Nine features the demon Abaddon stealing souls to turn them into demons ahead of schedule, with the soulless humans committing various brutal acts as they lack any real sense of self-control. Further demonstrated in the eleventh season when Amara/The Darkness, who is essentially the 'sister' of God, feeds on souls, leaving her victims in a similar state.
    • Later in the eleventh season, the prophet Donatello Redfield has his soul taken by Amara, but he eventually manages to find a balance by asking himself 'What Would Mr Rogers Do?' when he is faced with a moral decision.
    • In Season 14, Jack, the son of a human and an Archangel, develops an incurable and terminal illness as a result of losing his grace in the Season 13 finale. He dies, but is brought back and given access to a forbidden form of magic that burns off bits of his soul if he uses it, but as long as he only uses it to keep himself alive, it would be harmless. Despite being warned about the consequences, however, he starts to use the magic to protect Sam, Dean and Castiel from danger. Eventually, after using it to defeat Michael and absorbing the latter's grace, his soul is gone and he loses most of his emotions and morals as a result. This causes him to eventually lose his way and become dangerous.
  • Invoked in the Tales from the Crypt episode "Doctor of Horror," where a Mad Scientist is attempting to isolate and extract an intact human soul. One of his test subjects comes back as an evil zombie, where he was a kind and conscientious man before.
  • The X-Files episode "Golem" dealt with the eponymous monster, raised from the grave via Ashkenazi magic. The golem was made of mud, but made to resemble a grieving woman's dead fiancée. Eventually, she realized the golem was a soulless killer and undid the spell, reducing it to clay again.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The replicas in Tales of the Abyss act this way, all speaking in Creepy Monotone and never raising their voices. That said, they are at least intelligent enough to recognize what's going on when people are creeped out by them. They also don't have their original body's memories, so their loved ones are left even more despondent. The latter trait includes Luke himself, who is a replica of Asch. Luke is hardly monotone, though.
    • Comments from Jade reveals this trait only comes when you input too much "information" into replicas as it makes it nigh impossible for them to develop further. The replicas in this case are equipped with basic skills and with fighting skills to act as a disposable army for the enemy. Other ones like Luke and Ion more correctly fit the Blank Slate state as they are newborns when created.
  • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones:
    • The game has Orson betraying the heroes in exchange for bringing back his wife. All it can say is "darling..." He's too insane at this point to notice, though. Furthermore, if you read the Sub Text right, he may have even done the deed with her. It seems to be implied that the body of the "wife" has continued to rot, or other such thing. They never show Monica up close, but when the heroes find her they are repulsed.
      "He thought that thing... was his wife?"
    • Also, Emperor Vigarde. After his sudden death, his son Lyon attempts to bring him back using forbidden magic...which backfires. He doesn't speak unless Lyon is speaking for him, and doesn't move of his own accord, only silently defending himself in combat as Lyon ordered him to. When beaten, his body collapses into dust.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses provides a strange subversion with the main character of Byleth. Byleth was a still born and was only saved by their mother requesting Rhea to place their Crest Stone, which acted as her heart, in Byleth’s heart, killing her and saving their child. However, as they grew up Byleth was almost emotionless, not crying even as a baby, though they do have emotions. After becoming a professor at the Officers Academy, they gradually become more emotional, though they remain The Stoic throughout the game. Somewhat invoked, as Rhea hoped that Byleth would be this trope so that the soul of Sothis may inhabit their body and be reborn. So instead of being a Soulless Shell as intended, Byleth ends up with a case of Sharing a Body with Byleth in control.
  • Valygar's father in Baldur's Gate II after his mother tried to bring him back with necromancy. He was eventually forced to put both of them down after she joined him in undeath.
  • Any victims of Duminuss' resurrection stitch will fit in this, because while the victims are brought back as an soulless shell, it is on purpose, so Duminuss can manipulate and brainwash them to do its bidding. Unfortunately, it lives in the Super Robot Wars universe which runs on the optimism scale, so this gets a combined effect with Monster from Beyond the Veil: A part of the victim's soul will still exist just so the heroes have the chance to make them Come Back Right. And they do.
  • In Wild ARMs 3, Malik, a biologist-turned-villain is trying to resurrect his mother by creating clones, but knows that his creations (of which there are quite a few) are nothing without the memories of the original. However, once a tricky devil late in the story grants his wish of giving one of the clones his mother's memories, things get worse.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the various Reanimate Dead spells do this, reviving a target as a personality-less zombie with little to no dialogue. The master-level spell, Dead Thrall, is permanent and can be used multiple times on the same corpse; the lower-level spells turn the body to ash when the spell runs out or they're killed again.
  • The Masked Man, Claus of Mother 3 is more or less a soulless puppet after being brought back from death or near-death through cybernetics. The other reconstructions may be seen as this, or a form of Cybernetics Eat Your Soul.
  • Strong in Mega Man Star Force 3, after his right-the-hell-out-of-nowhere death at the hands of Joker. He eventually goes back to normal, though.
  • Shadow Hearts:
    • In Koudelka, all the trouble at the monastery started when Patrick Heyworth attempted to resurrect his murdered wife Elaine using a mix of the Emigre Manuscript and the Cauldron described in the Mabinogion. Her body is restored but not her soul, and it seems some kind of demonic spirit took her place. At the end of the game you fight her soulless body, and everything about it is appropriately horrifying (and then some). The game goes as far as implying that this trope is the intended result of the ritual. It is stated the creators of the Emigre Manuscript could decipher the secret of life but but were unable to do the same with the secrets of the soul. Not like it mattered to them though, as they were only interested in bringing back the dead as mindless slaves to be employed as workforce. Also, it's flat out stated that resurrecting the dead and restoring them to life as it was before death is impossible, regardless of anything.
    • The sequel, Shadow Hearts, has Jack, who acquires the Emigre Manuscript and uses the flesh and blood of orphaned children in an attempt to resurrect his mother. It goes even worse than it did for Patrick; the thing that comes out of the vat kills him on the spot.
  • Undertale shows that humans and monsters bear souls that vanish once they die, but having enough determination can let a person's soul linger after death. But what happens if a soulless thing is given determination? That's when entities like Flowey happen; a flower exposed to Asriel's ashes, allowing him to be reborn through the flower. Flowey has a personality, but without a soul, he can't feel any positive emotions. He eventually Goes Mad from the Revelation and adopts a thoroughly nihilistic world view. Even when Flowey absorbs the souls of monsters and humans and transforms into the true form of Asriel on the path to the Golden Ending, he still aims to reset the timeline. However, having taken the souls into his body, he begins to regain his emotions, and the player manages to appeal to Asriel's sense of self and calm him down, revealing that Asriel was afraid of being alone again after the playable character came along, because they reminded him a lot of his first friend before they died.
  • In Kirby: Planet Robobot, the clones of King Dedede, Dark Matter, and Queen Sectonia created by the Haltmann Works Co. are stated to be this, as souls can't be cloned by the company's Mother Computer. It's possible that Susie might be this as well; one fan theory states that President Haltmann tried to revive her with Star Dream's power, but only was successful in cloning her body. This would explain her amoral behavior.
  • The exorcists' Malakim in Tales of Berseria act like this. This is due to them having their emotions forceably removed/suppressed so they will serve as tools for the exorcists' goals. Laphicet starts as this, but quickly starts regaining emotions once he joins the party. Once the Malakim regain their emotions due to the party's efforts they cut and run, leaving all the exorcists in the lurch.
  • DOOM Eternal: This is apparently the origin of demons. When the damned are sent to Hell after death (or if they wind up in Hell due to teleporter mishaps or demon invasions), their soul is slowly eroded by Hell's essence. The left-behind body at first acts like a zombie and is used by the demons as slave labor, but given enough time will transform into a new demon itself. Their fundamental lack of souls is presumably why the demons are Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Dragon Quest III: After the Hero has killed Baramos, Zoma brings him back split into two components: his Soul and his Bones. You fight the latter moments after fighting and destroying the former.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, We see that the daughter of the Anata Qalyana tribe's Broodmother was resurrected by the Primal Lakshmi. However, while she was resurrected, it was without her soul, thus she's nothing but a living shell. This proves even worse when the Broodmother dies and the Qalyana elect the daughter to lead, despite their soul-lacking. They were tempered by Lakshmi, so they just don't know better.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • In Errant Story, Ian — recently endowed with the powers of a god — attempts to resurrect his Dead Big Sister. She was an Ill Girl when he left on his quest to get his hands on magic capable of saving her, but by the time he actually gets it and returns, she's already died in a fire. Despite having been burned to death and spending months in the grave, Ian successfully raises her as a Empty Shell, but instantly realizes that even though he can restore her body, 'she' isn't in it. Then he annihilates her and flies off to pick a fight with a different religion's god.
  • The first undead created in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures were soulless shells before something happened and they gained their souls. Even after that resurrected creatures and beings can come back with damaged souls.
    • Fae that try to reproduce without using reincarnated Fae souls result in this; comatose bodies that die young.
  • In the "4U City" arc in Sluggy Freelance, when we finally find out what really happened to Zoë, it turns out she has been left a Soulless Shell by Healing Factor gone wrong. She was horribly burnt and dying when she moved to the 4U City dimension, but her body was healed — one could say rebuilt — with the help of advanced nanobots used in the city. However, since she wasn't a native, the nanobots didn't have a snapshot of her earlier state to work with, so they only restored her body based on her DNA. Being rebuilt without information of what should be going on in her brain left her mind a blank.

    Western Animation 
  • In Justice League Unlimited, black magic gone horribly awry brings Solomon Grundy back from the dead (although he used to be, and still is, a zombie)... but with no human intelligence at all, just animalistic rage and vastly greater strength than he had before. One of the heroes (having bonded with Grundy previously during an Enemy Mine scenario that ended with his Heroic Sacrifice) does not take kindly to this development.
  • Futurama: Bender is left in a state like this when his personality-disk is temporarily removed. He does what he's told but just keeps monotoning his factory-default phrase "I am Bender. Please insert girder".

  • The p-zombie, of philosophical zombie, or just zombie to philosophers, is a Mind Screw version of this used as a philosophical thought experiment. With the p-zombie, there's absolutely no way to notice there's anything wrong — that's the whole point. It behaves exactly the same way as a human being, but it has no inner experience. It doesn't feel or experience anything. Whereas you might see your friend coming, having a mental image of her and everything, and then you would know she's coming and greet her and stuff, a zombie version of you would gain the exact same information and react exactly the same way but have no visual experience or feelings related to it.

    To put it simply, the point of the thought experiment is to say that since there seems to be nothing logically impossible about the existence of such a zombie, the fact that we are conscious in this sense is a fact about nature that could be otherwise in the same sense as, say, gravity. Of course, the actual philosophical discussion about the question involves complicated stuff about whether a zombie is "conceivable" and what it means if it is. Anyway, the thought experiment may be taken to prove that something needs to be added to the laws of physics as we know them to explain consciousness, unless of course the answer is Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything. Others think it proves nothing. A third view is that it proves there's something funny with our thinking rather than physics.