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Soulless Shell

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In fiction, death is often much less final than in real life, and it's not uncommon for the deceased to return or be brought back to life in some form. However, this process isn't always as easy as characters might like it to be — and in some cases, reanimating the body won't necessarily restore the old soul or mind.

In these cases, a person'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 person. They're not likely to hurt anyone directly, but the one who tried to resurrect them 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 are 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. Compare to Just a Machine, for robots and computers who might have been intended to be people too... but aren't. See also Mental Shutdown, which usually has similar results, but is about the mind instead of the soul.

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 needs the power possessed by a family, but — oops! — he just happens 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.
    • Azmaria's foster father attempts 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 Fullmetal Alchemist, any attempt to resurrect the dead is doomed to end with this, as there is no way to fulfill Equivalent Exchange for a soul that has already moved on. The created body, which has no soul or consciousness and only the most rudimentary of biological functions, usually expires within moments of its "birth". The Elrics learned this the hard way when trying to resurrect their mother, only to create a shriveled corpse that's briefly possessed by Al after he lost his body. One alchemist in a bonus chapter managed to create a body that was capable of maintaining biological functions... but all it could do was sit there, with brain functions barely above a vegetative state.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003):
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mushishi 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 the 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Red Hood: The Lost Days: Jason Todd was catatonic after his resurrection, and Ra's al Ghul considered him to be this. He did at least once show emotion, which Talia took to mean her father was wrong.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): 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 unageing body does not need to eat or breath in this state, but while the body is technically alive there is no one home.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Anita Blake: Once upon a time, Anita Blake, Animator, actually raised zombies. 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 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.
  • The Curse of the Blue Figurine: Brought up in The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie, book 9 of the series.
    • Main villain Mama Sinestra plans to use her voodoo magic to draw the souls out of her living victims and turn them into soulless zombies under her control.
    • This is the final fate of Todd Lamort, alias Etienne LeGrande of St. Ives, the secondary antagonist of the same book. When he attempts to summon Baron Samedi while not being an initiated voodoo priest, the Baron instead plucks his soul from his body and destroys it, leaving him a gibbering mess who cannot talk sense, feed himself or understand what anybody says.
  • 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.
  • Dracula somewhat implies this after the death of Lucy and the undead being she becomes.
  • Khal Drogo gets resurrected as a brain-dead husk in A Game of Thrones, 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 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.
  • The Magic Goes Away: In "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dan Simon's short story "The River Styx Runs Upstream" takes place in a world with widely available technological resurrection of this type.
  • 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.

    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.
  • Buffyverse:
    • This is what vampires are described as. As Buffy puts 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 why 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.
    • Professor Walsh from season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, thanks to Adam. This is spectacularly creepy.
  • Doctor Who: Jamie, the titular Empty Child in "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", 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: In "Marionette", a man tries to bring back a girl he's in love with by stealing her transplanted organs from their recipients. Although he succeeds (briefly), he tells the FBI agents that he looked at her eyes and could tell it wasn't her, that he had created a soulless monstrosity.
  • In Lost, Sayid 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.
  • Star Trek:
    • This is the reason why Dr. McCoy (and a few other characters) are wary of the transporters. They know that the devices destroy and reconstruct people — but are they still the same person?
    • Dr. Bashir defies this trope in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "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 leaves him without any emotions, only able to feel physical sensations such as pain. This ultimately 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, but his soul is eventually restored after a visit to the Garden of Eden.
  • In the Tales from the Crypt episode "Doctor of Horror", a Mad Scientist is attempting to isolate and extract an intact human soul. One of his test subjects comes back as an evil zombie, despite being a kind and conscientious man before.
  • The X-Files: The episode "Kaddish" deals with a golem made to resemble a grieving woman's dead fiancée via Ashkenazi magic. Eventually, she realizes that the golem is a soulless killer and undoes the spell, reducing it to clay again.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • 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, it will transform into a new demon. 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.
  • 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.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: 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, and 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're tempered by Lakshmi, so they just don't know better.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • 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 subtext 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?"
      • After Emperor Vigarde's 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 stillborn 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. Instead of being a Soulless Shell as intended, Byleth ends up with a case of Sharing a Body, with Byleth in control.
  • God of War Ragnarök:
    • Downplayed with Brok. Apparently, he died during a forging accident, and his brother Sindri ventured into the Lake of Souls in Alfheim to retrieve his soul and get him back. However, Sindri didn't manage to get all four parts of his soul, which means that now Brok is missing his soul's direction and won't be able to find his way to any afterlife. This is why when Odin kills him, there is absolutely no way to restore him to life, so Sindri finally snaps.
    • This is what happens with the animals the giantess Grýla steal souls from. After becoming bitter about the inevitability of fate and the death of her son, Grýla resorted into using her pot to take away the souls of animals and relieve their memories, leaving them as aimless husks with milky gray eyes that cannot even feed themselves properly.
  • 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.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The Cursed enemies — floating skulls of Bokoblins, Moblins and Lizalfos — are stated by the Compendium to have been brought back to a simple mockery of life by Ganon's power in a way that cost them all intelligence and personality, leaving only mindless shells directed only be lingering malice. In-game, this is reflected by their very simple behavioral patterns — they hover passively in place until they spot Link, at which point they attack by simply flying right towards him, and lack the complex attack patterns and idle animations of their living counterparts.
  • Mother 3: The Masked Man, Claus, 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.
  • 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 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.
    • 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.
  • Super Robot Wars: Any victims of Duminuss' resurrection stitch will fit in this, because while the victims are brought back as a soulless shell, it is on purpose, so Duminuss can manipulate and brainwash them to do its bidding. Unfortunately, it lives in a universe which runs on the Idealism side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, 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.
  • Tales Series:
    • Tales of the Abyss: The replicas 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 reveal that 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.
    • Tales of Berseria: The exorcists' Malakim act like this. This is due to them having their emotions forcibly 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.
  • 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.

  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures:
    • The first undead created 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 Errant Story, Ian — recently endowed with the powers of a god — attempts to resurrect his Dead Big Sister. She was sick 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.
  • 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 
  • Futurama: In "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", 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".
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Wake the Dead", 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.

  • 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.