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Who Even Needs a Brain?

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Una Nemo has an open mind.

Dr. Cockroach Ph.D.: [about B.O.B.] Forgive him, but as you can see, he has no brain.
B.O.B.: Turns out, you don't need one! Totally overrated! As a matter of fact, I don't even-
[B.O.B. then forgets how to breathe]

In real life, having your brain physically removed from your body means you are dead. In comedy, however, the results can be a little different, leading to one of these outcomes (besides the realistic fatal one, obviously):

  • Walking Vegetable: In this case, the body is in a drooling zombie-like state, able to walk after a fashion but otherwise almost totally unaware of anything going on around them. Any speech will be monosyllabic. Can be done realistically, if some important parts of the brain remain but all the higher regions are gone.
  • Stupid but Aware: In this case, the character has simply turned into The Ditz — they are much stupider than usual but able to talk properly, walk around without bumping into things, and so on. Probably the least common category.
  • No Change: This is most likely to happen to a character who is already The Ditz. Brain falls out, is stolen, or whatever and the de-brained character acts exactly the same (and may not even notice their brain is gone). Sometimes the brain will be far smaller than normal to begin with.
  • No Brain to Lose: A slight variation on the above; it turns out the character doesn't have a brain in the first place!

Not to be confused with Brainless Beauty (though, of course, this trope could happen to a Brainless Beauty).

See also In One Ear, Out The Other and Hollow-Sounding Head, which is often how the absence of a brain is revealed.


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Walking Vegetable:


    Anime & Manga 
  • Furanpaa, the zombie receptionist from Interspecies Reviewers, removes her brain to pass the time between guests without succumbing to boredom.

  • Tales from Jabba's Palace: Played entirely realistically in Bib Fortuna's chapter, where he has the brain removed from his friend Nat Secura's head and transferred to a nutrient jar. Nat's body is only still alive because the brain stem was left, specifically so the body would still breathe, but it otherwise remains motionless until it's eaten by the rancor.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In a Horrible Histories sketch, there is this exchange:
    Kill counter: That makes 4,997.
    Roman general: Make that 98.
    Kill counter: Yeah, I'll give you that one. He's still moving, but realistically, he's not going anywhere without his head.
  • Rare "serious" example: the infamous Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Spock's Brain". Spock's brain is stolen by aliens who use it as a computer to run their planet's infrastructure. For some reason, his autonomic functions still work, but he is completely unconscious. Kirk has to get the brain back quickly because Spock's Vulcan physiology is especially dependent on that tremendous brain. (Whereas a brain-dead human could be kept "alive" easily for quite some time.) So that they can restore the brain quickly when they find it, McCoy rigs up a device that fits on Spock's head and allows his lifeless body to walk around, manipulated by a remote control. With three buttons. S.P.O.C.K has made a song called "Mr. Spock's Brain", based on the above episode.
  • In a Wizards of Waverly Place episode, Alex and Harper switch brains, and while trying to get back into each other's bodies, both brains end up in Alex's head. Harper's brainless body wanders around with a stupid grin on her face spouting random words, though she seems to be slightly aware of the world around her in the same way a baby is aware.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dungeons & Dragons 3.5th Edition Monster Manual IV mentions an ogre variant dubbed a "guard thrall." Ogres epitomize Dumb Muscle so much that the illithids discovered that an ogre can actually survive having most of its brain bitten out and eaten. While this leaves a basic ogre comatose, through breeding experiments the illithids were able to produce mindless ogre bodyguards that, with the help of a psionic crystal implanted in their mostly-empty skulls, will follow a nearby mind flayer's psychic commands. Even more dangerously, that crystal in the ogre thrall's skull will "echo" an illithid's mind blast attack (which the thrall is immune to, being mindless) if the thrall is in the area of effect, potentially stunning anything that shrugged off the initial psionic assault.

    Video Games 
  • A short cutscene in The 7th Guest can be found in Henry Stauf's well-hidden Mad Scientist Laboratory. A ghostly patient wakes up moaning on an operating table, and we see that an entire half of his head is missing. He realizes this, looks down, and starts reaching for a CG brain sitting in a bucket down below. The scene ends before he can grab it, though (along with a horribly squicky noise).
  • In Crash Twinsanity, during the cutscene that introduces the Evil Twins, they remove Doctor Cortex's brain with their telekinetic powers. He is left drooling and clutching his brain afterward until one of the duo tells him that "This Is the Part Where... you run away, screaming." It takes him a Beat to catch on, but he does exactly that. Shortly afterward, he's no longer holding his brain and acting normal, so he must have gotten it back in his head somehow.
  • In Illbleed, Randy's brain being removed turns him into a type 1. If you don't recover his brain before rescuing him, you'll instead rescue and unlock the ability to play as "Brainless Randy", who talks in random grunts and groans (that other characters can understand perfectly) and can't use the Horror Monitor due to having 0 adrenaline. Other than that, however, he's capable of doing pretty much everything regular Randy can do, making him a bit of a mix between type 1 and type 2.
  • In Psychonauts, when the villain makes the campers sneeze their brains out, they end up as mindless zombies only able to moan "Teeeee-Veeeeee..." (and, oddly enough, "hackysack") and stumble to the nearest set to start watching. If Raz can find the jars holding the brains, he can return the campers to normal with no ill effects. In Psychonauts 2, it's a bit closer to a mix of Type 1 and Type 2, as the victim of the de-braining will mumble random phrases related to their job. The Psychonauts see no problem with having the de-brained Nick Johnsmith return to working in the mailroom while they search for his brain, although he doesn't do it very well.

  • In Nodwick, people who get their brains stolen (usually due to a nearby Mind Flayer) end up like this. Yeagar has his brain removed at least twice (once by said Mind Flayer, and again by an Evil Henchman). In the second instance, Piffany keeps Yeagar's body going by giving him a 'replacement brain' — she drafts a nearby butterfly and puts it in his cranial cavity. This somehow allows Yeagar to stay mobile.

    Western Animation 
  • Oblina of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters once sneezed her own brain out after studying too hard, leaving her body a drooling and mindless but mobile vegetable.
  • Anais from The Amazing World of Gumball suffers brain damage on account of too much facepalming due to her family's stupidity, leaving her in a vegetable state but she can still walk around.
  • In the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Carl Wash", Carl has his brain removed by the owners of a new car wash (Carl Brain and his son), leaving him unable to do anything other than lick his car and slowly repeat what other people say.
  • The Avenger Penguins episode "The Quantum Mechanic" has Caractacus P. Doom steal Bluey's brain, leaving the penguin silent and sitting around doing nothing.
  • This happens to Fanboy from Fanboy and Chum Chum in the episode "Brain Drain". His brain is evidently not subject to the laws of gravity, because it stays in mid-air while he is falling.
  • In the Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", when Bender loses his brain (in disc form), he loses his personality and resets to his factory default, which leaves him unable to say anything but "I AM BENDER. PLEASE INSERT GIRDER." He still walks around but doesn't pay attention to where he's going in the slightest.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In contrast to Billy, who doesn't have a brain at all to begin with, the victims of the evil brain-sucking meteor in "Little Rock of Horrors" turn into zombie-like creatures who can nevertheless dance to the song the meteor sings.
  • Invader Zim:
    • At the end of "Bad Bad Rubber Piggy", Zim sends a warning to himself back in time, but it has to replace something and that something turned out to be his brain. Rather than keeling over, he just kind of sat there, drooled and moaned a bit. This is somewhat justified, as one (unaired) episode established that the Irken's (Zim's race) PAK (backpack-looking thing) is the actual "brain" of the organism, the body serving as something to carry the PAK around (though this does bring up the question of why there even is a brain).
    • Another episode, "Dark Harvest", plays this trope straight. Zim, in pursuit of human organs to improve his human disguise, replaces a secretary's brain with a can of soda. Nothing happens immediately, but when the phone rings, she holds it up to her face and foams out the mouth.
    • GIR has garbage for a brain.
  • In the Men in Black: The Series episode "The Quick Clone Syndrome", Zed had his brain stolen. The procedure left his brain remotely controlling his body, manifested by him continually walking straight. The other agents blamed it on the thief's sick sense of humor.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "Ren's Brain", Stimpy takes out Ren's brain and replaces it with a telephone, leaving him a drooling vegetable. The brain, on the other hand, gets up and goes to work as if nothing has happened.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Boob Tubed", Heffer has his brain sucked out through the TV after sitting too close. He is reduced to a drooling idiot who spouts nonsense, repeatedly walks into walls, and thinks he can fly.
    Heffer: Go to the petunia at once, corn-cob. Makes a great meat substitute for undershorts!
  • The Simpsons: At the beginning of "Itchy & Scratchy Land", while in a cartoon promoting the opening of the titular theme park, Itchy stabs Scratchy in the head with a pair of scissors. Scratchy pulls it out along with his brain, leaving him drooling.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants tends to use this type. On the multiple occasions where a character's brain gets removed, they tend to stand around and drool until it is replaced. In Patrick's case, this is often indistinguishable from his normal behavior.
  • Happens in The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries in the episode "This is The Kitty". When Sylvester refuses to spit out Tweety, Hector and the Jack Webb stand-in respond by yanking Tweety out, inadvertently removing Sylvester's brain as well in the process. After having his brain removed, Sylvester just stands there drooling.

    Real Life 
  • Anencephaly, when a child is born with no brain, only a brain stem. A disturbingly common birth disorder. About half are stillbirths. Most of the rest survive a few hours or days. However, The Other Wiki mentions a few cases of kids who survived a couple of years as a partial Reality Is Unrealistic case of this trope.
  • Shufflebrain, a series of experiments involving salamanders, had animals with their brains removed who remained alive yet stupefied. Replacing the brain in various positions resulted in No Change with salamanders.

Stupid but Aware:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens to Reiko Tamura in Parasyte when she splits herself in two in order to avoid being killed. As each parasite is only as intelligent as the parts that make it up, being separated causes her human half to become much stupider than she normally is, even physically showing off this trope by forcing her head in half in front of a couple to reveal it's hollow inside.

    Fan Works 
  • Another rare dramatic example is Ash Ketchum in At The Food Court. Team Rocket eventually decides they'd had enough of him foiling their plans, and beat him up so bad that an MRI scan reveals that much of his brain is dead. The doctors point out that the injuries he suffers are so bad that it should have killed him and are baffled by his continued survival. That said, Ash didn't suffer such severe brain damage and wind up unscathed — because large parts of his brain are dead, his personality was altered for the worse, having violent, psychotic episodes and coming to believe that he is a Pokemon. He only regains his humanity after heavy-duty psychic therapy from Sabrina, and even then, he is reduced to the maturity and mental age of a five-year-old, never to become a functional adult even decades later, and no longer legally competent to be a Pokemon Trainer. Oddly enough, this crosses over a little with "No Change", since it takes months for Ash to deteriorate to that point, and at first the only consequence of his injuries is becoming a little more violent (like Phineas Gage). The psychotic break happens only after suffering repeated injuries for months and being told he was a Pikachu while in a very precarious state.
  • A Dash of Logic rewrites the ending of "A Pal for Gary" to reveal that SpongeBob lost his brain at some point before purchasing Puffy Fluffy, as an explanation for the former's exaggerated stupidity in that episode (even by post-Flanderization standards). Squidward finds it and brings it back, and upon getting it back into his head, SpongeBob reacts accordingly to the presence of the monstrous Puffy Fluffy (being utterly terrified). Apparently, this is a recurring problem for SpongeBob because his head is literally full of holes, and is implied to be the reason behind the character's inconsistent intelligence.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Observer a.k.a. "Brain Guy" from Mystery Science Theater 3000 is an omnipotent alien who normally carries his brain around in a jar with him and routinely denies the existence of his body. (Essentially, he's a parody of the sci-fi trope of advanced aliens who evolved beyond the need for a physical body.) Then in the episode Space Mutiny, his brain jar gets moved too far away from his body, which leaves him babbling inanely to himself and misunderstanding simple instructions. He's still omnipotent in this state, but he's too stupid to do anything useful with his powers.
  • In an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina is infected by a Stupidity Virus, which leaves her literally empty-headed and a shallow boy- and shopping-obsessed Brainless Beauty in personality. There actually is a parasite that eats brains, but it's protozoan, not viral.
  • In a Show Within a Show Stupid but Aware example, one episode of Saved by the Bell has the gang make a film about evil aliens invading. A history teacher (played by Jessie) had her brain sucked out her ear (via a straw) by an alien (played by Screech) while telling her class that "the Gettysburg Address was delivered by [brains sucked out]... Pee-wee Herman."

  • I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again once had a Frankenstein parody that included something like:
    Doctor Frankenstein: When I created you, I neglected to give you a brain.
    Monster (Lady Constance): Oh, I can't think why.

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
    • Meatwad, a literal living wad of meat, does have a brain, but it's just a rubber toy with a jingle bell inside. He was given it apparently because he felt deprived with no brain. When it's removed, he still becomes less intelligent, but this seems to be a psychosomatic effect.
    • The episode "Brain Fairy" begins with Frylock having had his brain stolen, turning him into an idiot who attempts to cook breakfast, but burns himself with the skillet repeatedly and produces a quasi-inedible meal.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: Azmuth ends up somewhere between Type I and II. It is revealed that his species, the Galvans, actually have two brains, the main brain has the majority of the intelligence and active thinking. The pre-brain handles more basic function... well, basic by Galvan standards. When Azmuth had his main brain removed, even only having his pre-brain, Azmuth is still fully sentient and capable of speech with no issue, but with the main difference being he had become stupider and more childish.
  • In one episode of Chop Socky Chooks, Dr. Wasabi's latest money-making scheme is to open a liposuction clinic that gives clients complementary burgers made with the fat that they just had sucked out of them. He falls into one of the liposuction machines himself and his brain gets sucked out, leaving him with the intelligence of an infant.
  • Scoop Dunbarton from F is for Family once had a promising career in baseball, but due to being intoxicated, he ended up getting hit in the head by a Clydesdale Horse for trying to carve his initials into it. The damage to his brain was so severe that it left one large noticeable dent in his head and left him as a lunatic who causes trouble for the people who work at the airport his uncle operates since he was given a job there. It's a relief for everyone when he dies by stepping on a bomb in a suitcase.
  • The Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Cheese a Go-Go" features a movie in which a woman has her brain sucked out by aliens. When asked if she is all right, she replies with "Shhh, I'm hiding from the aardvarks".
  • Kaeloo: After Kaeloo gets half her brain removed in one episode, all that happens to her is that she can't talk properly.
  • Peri of Spliced ended up in a state somewhere between Types I and II: he was mostly incapacitated but could sorta walk around and mumble/scream for the return of his brain. When he found his brain had been implanted into a toaster (roll with it) he tried to shove it back in, toaster and all. It didn't work.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Nitwitting" uses a combination of this and Type III: When he's invited to join the Empty Head Society, SpongeBob is required to remove his brain and initially acts no different. After spending a bit of time without it, he devolves into an idiot who makes his otherwise usually ditzy self look like a genius in comparison.

    Real Life 
  • The downplayed version of this trope (in which bits of brain are removed, leaving the victim slightly less capable) is very much Truth in Television. Depending on which part of the brain is damaged or removed, a person can fail to recognize faces, shapes, certain patterns in sound and colour, and even their own family members. Some of the effects can be weirder than a simple loss of ability, though: removing bits of the amygdala frees people from getting bogged down in emotion when making decisions, and forces them to become hyperrational, but at the cost of being The Ditherer for even minor decisions as every decision has to be weighed consciously. And it only gets weirder from there.
  • In 1848, Phineas Gage had a pole jammed through his head that removed part of his brain. It didn't kill him, but he is said to have become much more cranky and dishonest after the pole went through his head. Though just how much impact the injury had on his personality is now questioned by psychologists, due to there being no actual records of what he was like before the accident aside from anecdotes that were recorded after, and even then many of these records were either vague or contradictory — for example, one doctor claimed that he had become sexually insatiable and would readily assault any woman he saw, while another claimed that he'd completely lost all interest in sex.
  • A rare inverted example was The Major from an old Time article. The man shot himself in the head with a .38 revolver... then went downstairs and cooked himself breakfast. He was later taken to the hospital where all the doctors could do was clean and dress the wound. Later he was interviewed and his long-lasting depression had vanished. The man shot himself in the head and got better.

No Change:

    Comic Books 
  • The page picture is of a Batman villainess named Una Nemo a.k.a. "The Absence". She is a rare dramatic (well...) example: Una has an enormous hole in her forehead and extending all the way through, with no visible brain, yet functions just fine, and may be smarter than before the hole happened. It appears to be a combination of a freak medical condition (which resulted in the brain lining the skull rather than sitting in the middle of it, meaning the through-and-through was more of a trepanation) and Gotham City's water supply being seriously tainted. The end result gave her Super-Intelligence enough to outsmart the Bat on a scheme that (ironically) was meant to turn her into an Un-person, yet made sure that Bruce Wayne remembered her.
  • In I Feel Sick, Devi reminisces about a particularly bad date she went on. A mongoose ate her date's brain, but he was so stupid to begin with that it took her a while to notice.

    Comic Strips 
  • One strip in Calvin and Hobbes had Calvin let his brain wander off before losing it. Of course, this was just his imagination playing up.
  • Over the Hedge occasionally has strips where Hammy the Squirrel's mind leaves his body and roams around independently. Since Hammy is a Cloudcuckoolander at best, this usually has little effect on him.
  • For a few days in Pearls Before Swine, Pig's brain goes wandering off on its own. Pig is mostly unaffected, with Rat using his empty head to hold beer.

    Films — Animation 
  • A unique example comes about in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox with the actual consequences shown in a later film, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay. Eobard Thawne, in the middle of a battlefield in the Flashpoint timeline, is shot through the head by Batman (Thomas Wayne in that timeline). While in the first film, he appears to fall over stone-dead, in the second film, Thawne reappears none the worse for wear. But then, when the Squad is captured in Killer Frost's ice, he reveals that he's only capable of limited usage of his super-speed now, due to the fact of a massive, gory hole going from back to front. Thawne then reveals that when Thomas!Batman shot him, in the split-second that the bullet was still tearing through his brain, he drew the Speed Force into his body to literally become a walking dead man. If Thawne continues to use his super speed past a few moments, the Speed Force keeping him alive will dissipate and he will become a true dead man as he was supposed to be.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Dr. Finklestein can casually take out half his brain to use as part of Sally's replacement, to say nothing of the fact that his skull cap is on a hinge.
  • Planet 51: Once two alien soldiers have their brains removed, not only do they still function but actually seem to get smarter, such as speaking in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Addams Family Values, Gomez and Fester are cheerfully reminiscing about all the (violent) pranks they pulled on each other as kids. Fester casually mentions that one time he waited til Gomez was asleep, then opened his head and removed his brains. Gomez is surprised and sort of impressed by this revelation.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, one of Jack's hallucinations of himself briefly has this happen to him.
    Jack: Nobody move! [Beat] Dropped me brain.
  • Hard to say what category Eddie from The Rocky Horror Picture Show falls under as we are only given hints of his behavior prior to having half his brain removed. (We know he had a criminal record and thought "head" was spelled "hed".) He still knew how to operate a motorcycle, but tended to drive it indoors with reckless abandon. (He was a bit of a rebel to start with.) He only says the word "NOOOOOOO!" when Frank comes after him with a pick ax, which is one word more than Rocky says. (Not counting their songs.) So, he theoretically could talk and knew crazy guy with ax=bad. Not bad for someone with half a brain.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A more serious example than most in Choujuu Sentai Liveman. Dr. Kemp removes his brain to enable the Big Bad to carry out his plan. This merely turns him into a One-Winged Angel, who serves as the Monster of the Week.
  • Scorpius from Farscape has two impossibly large centrifuges on either side of his head that insert "cooling rods" into his brain. It was always a tongue-in-cheek special effect, but The Peacekeeper Wars confirms what we already suspected when the Scarran Emperor snaps one of them off. Scorpius' moll, Sikozu, has to mash two rods into the gaping cavity, which is filled with churning yellow goo. Then she power-drills a metal plate to his temple to make them stay in!
  • In a Just Say Julie sketch, a Dumb Blonde supermodel is given a tricky question and her (tiny) brain explodes out of her head with the effort of thinking... leaving her seemingly none the worse for wear and not even bothering to cancel a date at end of the show to get medical attention.
  • The Legend of Dick and Dom has an episode in which the MacGuffin is the brain of a prince named Dick. They eventually remove it from the one travelling with them, to no ill effects.
  • Brain Guy from Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a variant on No Change: while his brain isn't in his physical head, he does always keep it nearby in a dish. If his body gets too far from his brain he degrades into a Stupid but Aware. On top of all this, he and the rest of his species believe (in spite of all evidence) that their physical bodies don't actually exist.
  • In Penny Dreadful, Vanessa is lobotomized, meaning a part of her brain had been removed. After a period of being a literal vegetable (with "episodes of activity") she regains her old self after the death of her mother. She acts like a regular person (as regular as Vanessa can be) after this point, with no dwindling mental capacity.
  • A sketch in You Can't Do That on Television has a mother getting far too enthusiastic about cleaning out her child's ears, and cleaning out everything between them as well. It has no noticeable effect on the child — he isn't happy about it, but as his mother points out, even if she had cleaned out his brains, he'd never used them anyway.

  • Eminem:
    • In the song "Brain Damage", a fictionalised version of a real incident in which Eminem ended up in a coma due to being assaulted by his school bully at 10 years old, Slim goes home with severe concussion and acts spaced-out while bleeding from the ear. His mother, assuming he's on drugs, wallops him over the head with the remote control for "bleeding all over my rug", which causes his whole brain to fall out of his skull and land on the floor. Slim picks it up, cusses out his now apologetic mother, then stitches his own head back up, and puts "a couple of bolts" in his neck.
    • In the Bad Meets Evil song "Scary Movies", Slim Shady has his brain swapped over with that of a chimp. Neither he nor the chimp notices a difference.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: "Voidmind" creatures are humanoids who have been captured by the illithids and had most of their brains eaten out of their skulls, which are then filled with a psionically-charged goo. Not only does this process leave the creature fully functional, they actually get a boost to their Intelligence score. The downside of course is that the voidmind creature is now a slave and psychic conduit for the mind flayers who created them, and they have to wear hats or helmets to conceal the little telltale plugged holes in their skulls, which occasionally leak thin green slime.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Orks are renowned for being exceptionally tough and exceptionally stupid, to the point where it's joked/believed (in-universe) that the least dangerous way for an ork to fall is for it to land on its head. While they can survive decapitation and brain transplants (including with a squig), this is due to them being part fungus.

    Video Games 
  • In the Old World Blues DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, the player character has their brain removed (and their spine and their heart) and has it replaced with a bunch of machinery that basically connects their brain to their body wirelessly. When you find your brain towards the end of the DLC not only does it have its own personality, but you can opt to leave it out of your head for the rest of the game. With a couple of buffs even. And it even gets its own mention in the ending, if you leave it there, based on your karma.
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus, Mr. DP Gumby has lost four pieces of his brain and is working to recover them. It's difficult to tell from the game how much brain loss reduced Mr. Gumby's intelligence, but on the show, he doesn't show much intelligence to speak of.

    Web Comics 
  • Guttersnipe: At the climax of "Urchin Revolution" Lil' Ragamuffin gets shot in the head by Herbert Hoover and tossed in an incinerator, only to climb back out and claim that urchins don't need no brains because they're all heart. It also turns out she pulled a Koschei with her heart.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball's brain gets out of his head after studying too hard. Gumball is unchanged, as he tries to train his brain so that it becomes smarter.
  • In the American Dad! episode "The Chilly Thrillies", Steve has his brain run through with a piece of rebar and is no worse for wear beyond thinking that a secret admirer note he wrote for a girl was written to him.
  • Biker Mice from Mars: Fred the mutant has had his brain shot out, transformed into a vicious monster, and replaced with an alarm siren. He kept on living with no trouble at all, and being a masochist, he actually enjoyed the pain.
  • The Bonkers episode "Stressed to Kill" has Fall Apart Rabbit experience this when his brain falls out and shows no reaction. Somewhat mixed with "No brain to lose" case in that the brain in question turns out to be a peanut.
  • The plot of one episode of Brandy & Mr. Whiskers is that Whiskers' brain leaves after getting fed up with Whiskers not listening to him, but Whiskers is otherwise unaffected.
  • In Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys, Rhesus-2 is a cyborg monkey with an exposed brain that he can remove and replace easily, and seems fully functional without one though he still has a habit of yanking his brain out and shooting it ("Bad brain!") whenever he messes up. Though, in one episode his original brain is re-inserted, which has the memory of his extremely painful cyber-conversion, leaving him catatonic.
  • Disenchantment: The Grand Finale reveals the Trogs have all removed their brains, and this is the secret to their immortality (as well as the reason why Dagmar can't invade their dream). Inspired by this, Dagmar does the same. None of them suffer any consequences and keep functioning as normal.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • In one episode, Timmy drinks a smoothie too fast and gets Brain Freeze, which Cosmo replies to with "Brain? What is this "brain" you speak of?" and then proceeds to drink the whole smoothie in one slurp. "Nope... nothing." Later, Cosmo and Wanda disguise as smoothies. Cosmo drinks himself in one slurp and still feels nothing. All of this is pretty weird, considering that in another episode, Cosmo gets a brain freeze from licking himself after he turns into ice cream.
    • Whenever a character in the show — even if they are not The Ditz — removes the top of their head, there will be nothing inside it.
  • At the beginning of the episode "Dollar Day" of Fanboy and Chum Chum, Fanboy's brain falls out when he trips, as a part of a Brick Joke. Later in the episode, when he and Chum Chum are trying to figure out how to get a dollar, he exclaims "We've got to THINK!", after which Chum Chum leaves the screen for a second to return with Fanboy's brain and places it back in his head. Throughout the episode, there's no difference in the brainless Fanboy's behaviour from his brain-equipped self (but he does make up a plan once he has his brain).
  • The Futurama episode "Roswell That Ends Well" has Bender's brain (a collection of computer chips) being mistaken for food and eaten. Bender isn't happy, but he suffers no ill effects.
  • In the Gravedale High episode "The Grave Intruder", Coach Cadaver at one point briefly removes his own brain and is still able to function without it.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
    • In one episode, Billy's dad accidentally eats his own tiny brain and is no less stupid than before. He also once had his brain fall off along with the end of his pompadour where it was stored, then he had it removed during an Alien Invasion and talked differently but was otherwise the same.
    • In another episode, Billy is in the future with Fred Flintstone centuries after Billy found him in his yard. Fred's brain is promptly eaten by one of two massive alien overlords, but Fred is fairly indifferent toward it.
  • The Histeria! episode "Really Oldies but Goodies" has a segment in which Chit Chatterson demonstrated the steps of mummification on a living man in spite of his protests. When they get to the part about the Ancient Egyptians removing the mummy's brain, the man being mummified against his will suffers no ill effects and his only reaction is to complain about having his brain removed.
  • In the Looney Tunes Cartoons episode "Downward Duck", Daffy, who is acting as a yoga guru, tells Porky he must clear his mind, which he demonstrates by removing his own brain and cleaning it off, then tosses it away and acts no different than before.
  • Mad Jack the Pirate: In one of the episodes, Jack gets a deadly disease that can only be cured by eating specific berries from an island of unknown location. Once they arrive there, Jack quickly starts eating the first berries they come across as soon as Snuk reads from the medical book that it should be these ones. However, as Snuk reads further into the book, it turns out that these particular berries actually cause the eater's eyes and brain to explode. Cue Jack spitting all the berries immediately, but still having both his brain and his eyes shoot out of his head. In the next scene, he holds both in a mug filled with water but is otherwise fine.
  • Oh Yeah! Cartoons:
    • The short "Max and his Special Problem" had a man literally sneeze his brain out. Aside from twitching every time the brain is poked, he acts perfectly fine.
    • In "Ollie and Frank", Ollie gets a brain for his Frankenstein monster dog Frank by removing part of the brain of an ordinary dog. The ordinary dog goes through the procedure just fine.
  • In the Ren and Stimpy episode "Sven Hoek", both Stimpy and Sven can remove their tiny brains with no effect whatsoever.
  • In a bizarre variation, the Sealab 2021 episode "I, Robot, Really" ends with Quinn transferring most of the cast's brains into robots and turning the rest of their bodies into Mobile Suit Humans piloted by mice. Once Quinn "perfects" the latter process (i.e., putting the top of their heads back on instead of just a glass dome, so they look the same), the bodies wake up and act as if they're the original people, though hungry for cheese.
  • The Secret Show: In the episode "And That's for Helsinki", both Victor and Anita find out that significant 'chunks' of their brains were removed by Professor Professor to be cleaned after they were hit by a mind bomb. Other than some slight amnesia they suffer no ill effects, even though the brain 'chunks' are big enough to look like they make up most of their brains.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Mr. Burns, having survived being buried under a landslide, is trying to get the dust and grit out of his ears by tilting his head and banging on the opposite ear. His walnut-sized brain shoots out of his ear and lands on the floor.
      Mr. Burns: Oops. That stays in. [pops brain back into his ear]
    • In another episode, Selma insults Homer by saying he has a brain "the size of superball". Cue a cutaway to Homer's tiny brain bouncing around inside his head till it gets stuck in one of his ears, pops out his head, and bounces away down the street. Homer is not only unaffected but actually seems pleased to see it go.
      Homer: And stay out!
    • His brain, or at least conscious mind, has also walked out on him out of boredom or disgust a few times.
  • South Park:
    • An unusually violent (by the standards of the trope) No Change example: in "Die, Hippie, Die", Mayor McDaniels attempts suicide by shooting herself in the head. Just before she pulls the trigger the "camera" pans to the side, we hear the gunshot and see blood and bits of brain matter hit the wall. Later in the episode, she turns up alive and completely unfazed by blowing her brains out, with only a bandage wrapped around her head (with bloodstains on both sides of her head) indicating she'd shot herself.
    • In an even more violent (and extreme) example, "Britney's New Look" has Britney Spears survive a self-inflicted shotgun blast to the head that leaves her with nothing above her lower jaw. Since her "speech" is now incomprehensible, it's difficult to know which type she is, but possibly a Stupid but Aware (she seems too aware of the outside world to be a Vegetable). This was apparently based on Mike the Headless Chicken.
  • Spliced:
    • In an episode, Entree's brain catches on fire when he memorizes the entire dictionary. Aside from occasionally shouting random words, he suffers no ill effects. This also is apparently common enough for Peri to be able to tell.
    • In another episode, he is turned inside out, and is shown to have no brain.
    • In another, he is told that if he loses a game, he'll receive 10,000 volts of electricity to his cerebral cortex, and retorts that he doesn't have one of those.
    • In another, a mole-ster takes control of his brain and gets him to punch himself, so he pulls out the brain and pushes the mole-ster off.
    • In another, his brain, stomach, and heart leave his body after getting sick of all the abuse they heap on him. While he seems unchanged at first, some side effects do emerge later, such as Entree trying to have his brain think up an explanation leads to an operator message telling him the number can no longer be reached.
  • The premise of the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Whirly Brains" is that a new toy comes out that turns the user's brain into an RC helicopter. The users don't seem affected by the loss of their brains other than their eyes being still attached to them.
  • In the Teen Titans Go! episode "Head Fruit", Beast Boy's brain escapes, so when the other Titans fail to get it back, they replace it with a maraca to replicate the rattling that his brain produced and he can't tell the difference. He has his brain back in later episodes, including one scene in "Had to Be There" where he pulled it out of his ear and was unaffected.

    Real Life 
  • Mike the Headless Chicken. Though not all of the bird's brain was gone. Quoting Wikipedia: "The axe missed the jugular vein, leaving one ear and most of the brain stem intact". Still, it is impressive.
  • Some animals:
    • Octopi are capable of thinking with their tentacles as well as their brain, so they can still move even with just a tentacle.
    • Frogs are still capable of various movements even without a head, though they do still experience some changes. However, a frog with its brain removed but its head still on, continues to act pretty much the same, and in fact has better reflexes than a frog with a brain.
    • Fruit flies can survive, fly, and even react to light sources without a head because insects have a ventral cord (which functions like a second brain) in their chest and light-sensitive cells in their kidneys.
    • A turtle's heart can keep beating unaffected even if removed from the body due to very strong cells that act as pacemakers.
    • Cockroaches can survive a few days without their head, thanks to the ventral cord mentioned above. The only reason they die is because without a head they can no longer eat and therefore they eventually succumb to starvation

No brain to lose:

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Vanessa, the Dumb Blonde heroine of the French comic Les Blondes, once had a doctor give her a CAT scan. When she asked if he had found anything the visibly baffled doctor showed her the X-ray of her empty cranium and replied: "nothing... absolutely nothing."
  • In the original comic-book version of MAD, The Shadow uses his ability to turn invisible, by "clouding men's minds," on a group of baddies. Nonetheless, a dopey-looking mook manages to find him and klonk him on the head. Recovering quickly, the Shadow realizes, "Good heavens! This man doesn't have a mind to cloud!"
  • In Nextwave, a villain called Forbush Man defeats the heroes by trapping their minds into an alternate reality within their brains. Well, all of them except Boom Boom, who is immune to his powers.
    Forbush Man: ...No. It cannot be. My power transports the mind... but you do not appear to have one.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the film version of My Favorite Martian, Marvin takes the shape of airheaded reporter Brace Channing. This isn't the only time he takes human shape and it's implied he has some sort of mind meld type connection with the brain of the real person he is copying. Unfortunately for him he picked Brace.
    Martin: [visibly shaken] Boy, her head was dark and empty.
  • In What Women Want, the protagonist Nick gains the power to read women's minds due to a freak accident. Trying to get away from the cacophony of thoughts being broadcast at him he seeks refuge in his office and encounters his dimbulb assistants Margo and Eve, who after greeting him simply stare at him vacantly. To his surprise, he gets absolutely no thoughts from them at all and since he at one point heard the thoughts of a female dog, the duo must really be brainless.
  • The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz is probably the most iconic example of this trope. Unusually for this trope, despite not having a brain, he's actually The Smart Guy of the group.

  • Dr. Greta Helsing: Mummies are effectively Made of Magic and suffer no ill effects from the removal of their brains during mummification. Moreover, residual brain scraps can interfere with their minds, so it's actually better for them to have them cleanly extracted.
  • In Time for the Stars, this is invoked by one twin insulting the other:
    Twin 1: I know, she hypnotized us!
    Twin 2: No. Granted I could be, but you couldn't. Nothing there to hypnotize.
  • In the Star Trek parody Treks Not Taken, there's a Moby-Dick spoof where the Captain says that as the sailors of old had the sea in their veins, "I have the emptiness of space inside my head."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the I Dream of Jeannie episode "Who Are You Calling a Genie?" Jeannie loses her memory after hitting her head. She's taken to hospital but when her head is X-rayed it turns out to be empty. It is not clear whether this a trait common to all genies or Jeannie in particular.
  • The short-lived sitcom The Pitts about a Born Unlucky family had a Bratty Teenage Daughter named Faith (played by Lizzy Caplan). In one episode an accident with a drain pipe left Faith with a tennis ball-sized hole all the way through her head, just above her ears, without any effect on her personality or intelligence (in fact she doesn't even realize anything has happened until she notices the others staring at her.) Given the fact that a mystified doctor notes there is 'no damage' and there is no visible brain matter even after the pipe is removed the (unstated) joke is that Faith didn't have anything between her ears to damage.

  • A frequent trope for Eminem's Slim Shady persona is his vestigial or absent brain. Slim is Stupid Evil, Ax-Crazy, and doing dumb things while high on every available drug, but he's witty with language and capable of being cunning on occasion. He does possess a brain in some other songs, though — see the "No Change" section above.
    • Supposedly the first lyric Eminem ever wrote for Slim Shady was "Slim Shady — brain dead, like Jim Brady"note . He eventually used this lyric in "Just Don't Give A Fuck", along with the line "clinically brain dead — I don't need a second opinion".
    • In "Low Down, Dirty", Slim has a "brain the size of a bread crumb — which drug will I end up dead from?"
    • In "Rain Man", an absurdist song about Eminem's uselessness at anything other than rapping, he claims, "I ain't got no legs... or no brain. Nice to meet you, hi! My name is...I forgot my name!"
    • In "Brainless", also an allegory for Eminem's savantism, the inside of Slim's skull is an enormous void that he uses "more as a bin for storage". It's filled with a bunch of random junk that rhymes with orange, but there's no brain present.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 

  • Quilt in Dominic Deegan is an Artificial Human (specifically a Flesh Golem) with no brain. He is fully capable of speaking, acting, and thinking, but he's an utter Cloudcuckoolander. He is, however, immune to brainwashing — "No brain to wash!"
  • Vexorg the brute in Here Is a Question has no brain, just a nuclear warhead.
  • Unsounded: The Undead man Duane's brain rotted out of his skull years ago, which, while hideously traumatic at the time, left his mind intact. Discussed when he realizes that he now has perfect recall of his entire life without his brain interfering with his thoughts.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • While it's true that people can't live without any brain at all, it turns out that half a brain is plenty enough. There was once a young woman born with only one working hemisphere, but aside from a few subtle edge-cases, she was perfectly normal. Her condition was only discovered when she volunteered as part of the control group for a study involving severed corpus callosums, and her results were not what was expected.
  • A lot of stranger animals in the wild don't have brains and instead have nervous systems that do the thinking instead, like jellyfish. The xenophyophore is an eight-inch-long underwater amoeba that has a collection of thousands of nuclei instead of any kind of brain.
  • Mike, the Headless Chicken survived for eighteen months after a botched beheading that left his brain stem and cervical blood vessels intact but severed his face and frontal cortex, leaving him still able to walk and breathe. He was fed with an eyedropper and became a travelling sideshow attraction.


Video Example(s):


Andy turns Buzz into a bong

In the infamous "Toy Story 4" sketch of ''Robot Chicken'', Andy turns Buzz into a makeshift bong and removes his brain in the process, reducing him to an infantile state.

How well does it match the trope?

4.94 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / Lobotomy

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