Follow TV Tropes


Willing Channeler

Go To

A type of Host that "willingly" allows themself to be possessed by someone or something. In Real Life, this is usually someone who performs a Spirit Medium role, like that of a shaman (it's known as voluntary possession)note . The trope has been used more commonly in fantasy settings in conjunction with Demonic Possession from an evil spirit or magician specialized in Black Magic. When a Willing Channeler is possessed by such an entity, they become a Living Bodysuit. The opposite form of spirit however, being possessed by a benevolent force, is simply called Channeling, as it is more or less a mutualist Symbiotic relationship of a spiritual nature, and rarely does the "virtuous guest" force anything upon the host without consent and/or necessity.

Usually a Willing Channeler must perform a ritual of some sort to conjure the target spirit they want to be possessed by, but this is not the golden rule, just the norm (for the genre of fantasy at least). Also, even if the spirit does not possess the conjurer, the character is still considered a Willing Channeler for having committed to the desire to be possessed, even if the desire is not natural but actually an artificial compulsion (e.g. enchantment, drug usage, Mind Control, etc, etc). This possession may be visually represented with Transformation of the Possessed, Prophet Eyes or other cues; if the possessing force is powerful and/or evil, there may be a mild case of Possession Burnout afterwards.

Note: A Willing Channeler is NOT the possessing entity, it is the host. Truth in Television as this is what Spiritualist Mediums as well as Shamans invite and encourage. It is one of the basics of Voudoun and other similar African diasporan traditions. In traditional Balinese society, the hosts are little girls who in a ceremony called sanghyang dedari are possessed by angels to restore villages after sickness or drought.note  Some mediums' reported voluntary possession relationships have been known to last for decades, usually in co-operative arrangements, like a Split-Personality Team.

See also Heroic Host. Compare Symbiotic Possession, where the possession is initially forced, but afterwards (either immediately or gradually) becomes a mutually beneficial relationship. Might overlap with Monster and the Maiden, if the channeler is a woman and the entity is male.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: The highest level magic that Schierke has performed involved connecting to the area's resident Nature Spirit and temporarily allowing it to possess her to unleash its power. While extraordinarily powerful, such spells also carry high risk, since if Schierke isn't careful, she risks her ego being subsumed by the spirit, or even having her soul absorbed into the astral realm and her body left an empty husk.
  • Devilman: Akira initially put himself in a position to willingly get possessed by a demon in order to gain its powers at Ryo's insistence. He becomes a Heroic Host by suppressing Amon, leading to the unusual situation in which a human possessed a demon's body.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Ling accepts being possessed by Greed to learn the secret of immortality, and the two start Sharing a Body after Greed joins the good guys.
    • Van Hohenheim, a human Philosopher's Stone powered by 500,000 souls who once were the inhabitants of Xerxes, aka Hohenheim's wiped-out country of birth; he's gotten to know each and every one of them over the centuries and they're on the same page when it comes to taking down the Big Bad.
  • Inuyasha has it when Onigumo merges with several demons, and he is reborn as Naraku from this.
  • Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens: Zange is also a kami, in possession of a body named Haruka. She sometimes has conversations with her host.
  • Naruto:
    • Tobi wishes to become one by recreating the Ten-Tails, a fusion of the other nine tailed beasts, and binding it to himself.
    • Similarly, a ninja from the Cloud Village tried to gain the Eight-Tails' power by eating its flesh, but died in the process.
    • The original Sage of the Six Paths did this to the Ten-Tails when fighting it.
  • Shaman King revolves around this trope. The shamans all have the ability to summon ghosts or other spiritual entities and channel them through themselves or objects for new abilities.

    Comic Books 
  • Conversational Troping during The Reign of the Supermen, when a medium claimed that John Henry Irons, the only S-shield wearer who made no claim to the name, was a channeler for Superman's spirit. She was wrong, but it raised the possibility to readers that he was as likely to be "the real Superman" as the Cyborg or the Kryptonian.
  • Shazam! could count, in the continuities where Billy, Mary and Freddy have separate personalities from their superhero forms — by saying a magic phrase they essentially let the hero take over, turning them older (for Billy and Mary) and giving them superpowers in the process.
  • Subverted in Swamp Thing. John Constantine's body is used by Swamp Thing to father a child with Abby, since Swampy lacks the necessary equipment to do it himself. John isn't particularly pleased by this, and his reaction ("At least he could have asked") indicates that he might have done so willingly had he been given the opportunity, since he had even thought of proposing it to Swamp Thing himself. The only permanent effect on John is getting a tree tattoo on his ass, but it's not clear if he's aware of this.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Wonder Woman and Batman initially think The Joker, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow are willingly working with the three fear gods possessing them and that they're fighting all six of them. Once they realize none of the three bat-rogues are willing participants they change their plan to hinge on Joker and Ivy wrestling back control of their own minds and ejecting the interlopers.
  • Wonder Woman: The Once and Future Story: When the Morrigan arrives in crow guise as the Irish girls initiate Artemis into their group Findabar willingly invites her goddess to use her to speak to the group.

    Fan Works 
  • Better Bones AU:
    • Harry is happy to become the vessel of the god Sol due to the power it gives him.
    • Lion's Roar initially willingly allows himself to be possessed by another god, One-Eye as a mutual alliance to defeat Hollyleaf, though One-Eye refuses to let him go even after they have defeated her.
  • In Child of the Storm, Harry does this at least twice, if not three times with the Phoenix - the second is a slightly more dubious case since Harry might have been too dead to let her in consciously. After undergoing a Trauma Conga Line during the Forever Red arc of Book 2, he snaps and becomes the Dark Phoenix, with all of Her power mixed with bucketloads of anger and trauma. As the previous Dark Phoenix, Surtur, destroyed most of a galaxy before being stopped, it's a very good thing Harry's friends and family talked him down.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: The Avatar is this to the Light. When they're inhabiting him, the Light makes his eyes glow, changes his voice, and increases his strength and Holy Magic abilities.
  • From Even The Wizards Must Pay Their Due we have both the canonical Greed/Ling situation and one incident involving Edward and Truth. Edward tries not to think about it, as the memories Truth left behind it are awkward and alien. On the upside, this means that Truth owes him a huge favor.
  • In Chapter 1 of Graduate Meeting of Mutual Killing, Aya Sawashiro, ex-Super High School Level Medium, willingly channels the murder victim to find the culprit. The spirit of the victim takes over her body and starts talking to the surviving graduates. Subverted, in that all was a farce to get the wrong person convicted, as Sawashiro was the real killer
  • Harmony Theory: Nightmare Umbra is possessing the willing Twinkle Shine.
  • In I Against I, Me Against You, Sunny Side allows Tex to possess her in order to fight Project Freelancer.
  • This is how Celestia's solo use of the Elements is depicted in Magical Pony Lyrical Twilight A's.
  • Personality Conflicts: In "The More Things Change", when the Rangers board the Ghost Galleon, a pack of spirits try to possess them. Tommy finally offers his body to the captain, allowing the spirit to possess him and explain what they want (for someone to find and throw overboard a cursed idol they made the mistake of picking up some time ago), after which they can pass on and the ship will take them where they need to go.
  • In the X-Men fic The Wraith Saga, Jason Wyngarde allows a shadowy cosmic entity called "the Wraith" to possess him so that he can get revenge on Jean Grey, who drove him insane with the power of the Phoenix Force (the Wraith's mortal enemy) back in The Dark Phoenix Saga.

    Films — Animation 
  • In AKIRA, Kei becomes a medium for the combined powers of the three psychic children, wielding them to battle Tetsuo. (The manga is clearer about her choosing to work with them.)
  • In Turning Red, Sun Yee was this for a red panda spirit and passed the ability to be a host for one to all her female decendants who invariably became hosts, willing or not, when they came of age.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the movie Ghost (1990), Oda Mae, a spirit medium, allows the late Sam to possess her so that he can touch his girlfriend again. Earlier in the movie she was possessed not-so-willingly by another ghost who wanted to talk to his widow.
  • In Racing Daylight, Sadie welcomes Anna and is even amused by her more free-spirited actions. They get along partly because they're both interested in Henry, whom Sadie has been too shy to approach.
  • In SHAZAM!, the villainous Dr. Sivana uses the Eye of Sin in order to become a willing host for the Seven Deadly Sins, who in turn grant him magical abilities on par with the hero Shazam. They can be summoned out of him to manifest physically, but he needs to be hosting at least one in order to keep his powers.
  • For the ritual in Talk to Me to work, the participant lights a candle, grabs the embalmed hand (supposedly used to belong to a medium), and says "Talk to me". After the conjured spirit shows up, the participant says "I let you in," indicating they consent for the spirit to take control of their body.
  • Venom: After a Symbiotic Possession and a Third-Act Misunderstanding, Eddie and the Venom symbiote are separated, which leaves Eddie vulnerable to a Life Foundation hit squad. When the symbiote returns in Eddie's ex-fiancé's body to kill the entire squad, he's happy to take it back, and they form a strong partnership that lasts for the rest of the film.

  • Voluntary Controllers in Animorphs, who make up a minority of the Yeerks' hosts (known as Controllers). When separated so the Yeerk can feed in the Yeerk pool, the willing hosts are rewarded with the privilege of getting to sit in a lounge-type area, watch TV, and generally hang out, instead of being locked in a cage for the duration like the unwilling majority. There is also a a peace movement among the Yeerks, and they and their hosts work together to try and change Yeerk society from the Alien Invasion route to something more like this.
    • "The Illusion" features a particularly interesting Willing Channeler: Taylor, an extremely attractive girl in her late teens whose Yeerk is a Sub-Visser. At first, she seems like a psychopathic, sadistic torturer, but she eventually reveals that she was the most popular girl in her high school until she was trapped in a house fire and became covered in burns. After being shunned, she joined the Sharing and accepted her Yeerk in exchange for promises of being restored to her former beauty. That willingness has made the pair so interconnected that they can't distinguish themselves from one another: the Yeerk uses first-person plural pronouns to refer to herself and Taylor as a single entity, as opposed to other Yeerks, who refer to their bodies as "hosts."
    • There was also a more literal one with Cassie, who let herself play host to the saved memory/personality of Aldrea, the heroine of a prequel book. Aldrea and her husband, Dak, had stolen a cache of Yeerk weapons and hidden them somewhere; the memory had been stored before this happened, but they needed her to help figure out where so that they could be used to help a Hork-Bajir resistance on their homeworld.
  • In the last book of The Bartimaeus Trilogy Nathaniel becomes one of these to Bartimaeus, though neither of them is fully in control.
  • The Case of the Double Husband: Overlaps with Demonic Possession — George Arnold was dying from a war wound, but his best friend Ted Eliot willingly offered his own body for George's soul to inhabit. George's body died and Ted's soul passed into the afterlife, but George's soul lived on in Ted's body.
  • In the Choose Your Own Adventure title Secret of the Ninja, the protagonist can potentially accept to channel a powerful and very angry spirit depending on the readers' decisions. Can go into a nasty Demonic Possession at worst, and the chance to peacefully quench the spirit's anger at best.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa:
    • Seers relate knowledge of the future through voluntarily channeling creatures of the Shadowlands when they drink tea made from horsetail mushroom.
    • The mountain men also voluntarily permit shadows to possess them, so their enhanced strength while doing so can be used in fighting the Empire.
    • Assassins from the Order of Targhan also all do this for the same reason as the mountain men.
    • Tasia lets a shadow inside her to defeat the deathless king in the final battle alongside Joslyn. However, temptation to use the power which this gives her soon nearly overwhelms her, and Joslyn has to expel it from her body.
  • From the Dexter book series, Dexter in the Dark. Dexter shows that he's more than willing to be possessed again, when he temporarily loses his Dark Passenger.
  • The Dresden Files: Ectomancy is the magic of spirits: both sensing and seeing them, binding them, repelling them, and, if need be, channeling them. Any mage is probably capable of this art after enough training. One character named Mort is such a mage. He has several elite guardian ghosts who are determinators in their afterlife because their sense of duty has kept them from becoming deranged monsters (such as the ones Mort keeps track of and safeguards from hurting normal people). Mort can allow one of them to possess him and he then gains access to that being's skills, such as a Native American who grants Mort excellent skill to throw an ax. If the ghost of a wizard possesses him, he could even gain access to the magic of the deceased wizard, assuming Mort's magical reserves can handle the drain the more powerful spells have.
  • Serroquettes from The Fallen Kings Cycle are prostitutes who allow ghosts to use their body for one last encounter with a loved one.
  • Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi: Mo Xuanyu performed this as a form of Suicide Attack against the family who cast him out, sacrificing his own soul to call the spirit of Wei Wuxian into his body in hopes that Wei Wuxian would destroy the Mo family.
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Professor Quirrell is a villainous example, serving as The Renfield to the entity he's channelling while working to help that entity create a body of its own.
  • In The Hellequin Chronicles, when there's no other option, the main character Nate Garrett occasionally lets his Superpowered Evil Side out to play, his Nightmare, later dubbed Erebus. This is a major no-no for a sorcerer, since Nightmares tend to possess their host permanently, the lure being that they show a sorcerer what their power can really do, with Super-Strength and a Healing Factor to boot, distinguished by their Black Eyes of Evil (though Erebus frequently complains that he's not evil). Nate's blood magic curse marks prevent Erebus taking over permanently and Erebus abides by whatever is agreed, something thoroughly unique. This makes it an effective tactic when Nate's really stuck in a corner, but one he has to keep quiet because doing so warrants execution by Avalon.
  • In The Host, Melanie eventually becomes this to Puppeteer Parasite Wanderer. Although she initially resists, by the end of the book she actually tries to convince Wanderer to stay in her body.
  • Annala does this in the fourth Journey to Chaos book, Transcending Limitations by invoking Lady Chaos, the setting's Top God. She prayed for help in a desperate situation and then allowed the goddess to use her body. This has a side-effect of being Touched by Vorlons and going mad.
  • In The Kane Chronicles, the heroes serve as vessels of the Egyptian gods and can channel those gods' power; apparently, the Pharaohs did this too, hence the Egyptians' belief that they were incarnations of the gods. The villain Set, however, is not particularly concerned with getting his host's consent.
  • Matthew Swift: The titular Matthew Swift, and the blue electric angels in A Madness of Angels. Their... cohabitation in Matthew's body is more or less an accident, but neither party seems to have a problem with it, probably because they're combined so thoroughly that they're pretty much the same entity now anyway.
  • This is how Surgebinders in The Stormlight Archive work. A Surgebinder is created when a spren binds itself to a human companion. The spren gains the ability to think in the Physical Realm while the human gains the power to control two of the ten fundamental Surges of reality.
  • In The Truth, one theory accounting for Altogether Andrews' multiple personalities is that he'd started out as an overly-hospitable example of this trope. Eventually he was "colonized" by so many wandering souls that there was no room left for Andrews himself. note 
  • In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, all vessels carry a "binding item" so that their channelling will remain strictly voluntary. Otherwise, they risk being possessed by wandering spirits.
  • In the Star Trek Novel 'Verse, the energy beings known as the Fates can enter into a being's mind and control their body while their own consciousness is inert. The being has to be a) the right sort of person with the correct genes or mental abilities, and b) willing. Astraea, the leader of a Cardassian religion based upon worship of the mysterious "good" Fates led by Oralius, is the best example of the truly Willing Channeler. See: Terok Nor and Star Trek: The Lost Era. The Evil Counterpart to Oralius, Uramtali (leader of the Night Spirits) shows up in the Star Trek: The Lost Era novel Well of Souls. She cheats a bit; she ensures her host is "willing" by placing him in a situation where if he refuses his child suffers.
  • In the Thousand Sons novel Ahriman: Exile, the sorcerer Astraeos binds a powerful daemonhost to himself in order to rescue his master Ahriman from Amon. This binding links the daemon to his very soul, letting him draw upon its power and command it in battle. In the sequel, he allows the daemon to possess him directly, granting him tremendous power at the cost of constant Body Horror and eventual Possession Burnout.
  • In Stephen Woodworth's Violet Eyes series, the titular Violets are this trope, capable of channeling the spirits of the dead. Some help channel creative types to further gift the world with their music or art. Others, such as Deuteragonist Natalie Lindstrom, help the police solve murders. They're called Violets because of their violet eyes.
  • When the Angels Left the Old Country: Uriel lets the rebbe's spirit cling onto it while they're on the ship until it can reach his family in New York. To escape from the Sullivans' hideout, Ash offers his own body to the dybbuk so it will leave Isaak's body.
  • World of the Five Gods:
    • Sorcerers are people who use their Demonic Possession to work magic. Sometimes this possession is involuntary, but some sorcerers deliberately make deals with demons in order to gain their powers. Almost all sorcerers, except those who have been specifically trained by the clergy of the Bastard (a half-demon Dark Is Not Evil god) eventually lose control of themselves and end up fully under the demon's control.
    • In The Hallowed Hunt, the eldest son of Hallow King Horseriver was this to his father's spirit when his father died. The younger son and the later descendants of Horseriver... not so much.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dead of Summer: Amy, the target of a possession by the demon Malphas, actually arranged for him to be summoned in the first place and welcomed his possession, seeing him as the only one who "understood" her. The ostensible "good girl" was actually a raging sociopath who was responsible for multiple murders long before she ever encountered Malphas.
  • Diablero: Isaac's fighters, though just how much they're "willing" to do that is up for debate. It's also Nancy's main fighting style; she summons demons into her via a walkman.
  • In Kamen Rider Den-O, Ryotaro is possessed by different Imagin, who wear him and the suit (each a different mode.)
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • An entire group of the normally Always Chaotic Evil (at the time) Big Bad Goa'uld race elected to take only willing hosts and form a resistance movement (Tok'ra) to fight their evil kin. This actually led to an amusing misunderstanding during First Contact: the protagonists, after hearing of them, came to offer an "alliance", which the Tok'ra naturally took to mean they wanted to join with a symbiote (what else does a human have to offer a nearly-immortal alien with ancient supertech?), much to SG-1's alarm.
    • Also, some of the human servants of the Goa'uld have been brainwashed to treat being chosen as the next host as the greatest honor imaginable, not realizing that they'd be trapped in their own body for centuries with none of the "pleasures" they think they'll experience.
  • Star Trek:
    • This is what the Arretians were doing with Kirk, Spock and Dr. Mulhall in "Return to Tomorrow". Gene Coon and Gene Roddenberry tried to play down author John Dugan's original ideas because they seemed "highly mystical, theological, religious and non-Star Trek". Dugan was a devout Catholic and their changes were so out of line with his beliefsnote  that they caused him to use his pseudonym Knightsbridge on the final work.
    • The Trill, first introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation but most often seen in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (main characters Jadzia and Ezri Dax, among others), are a non-supernatural example. Their species evolved in parallel with a benevolent parasite or "symbiont" that can house the memories and personality of the host and transfer them into another host after the original host's death. In their first appearance in TNG, "The Host", the symbiont appears to completely override the personality of the host, but the host's personality is restored if the symbiont is removed before the bonding is complete. In DS9 this is retconned; the personality of the new joined being is a "merging" between that of the host and of all the previous hosts contained within the symbiont. Trill society considers it a great honor to be chosen as host, and prospective hosts compete fiercely for it. Ostensibly this is because unsuitable hosts will reject (or be rejected by) the symbiont in a way that is dangerous to both; in reality, almost anyone can be a host, but there aren't nearly enough symbionts to go around.
    • The Trill also have a ritual called "zhian'tara", in which the host's closest friends channel the personalities of the previous hosts to allow for face-to-face conversations between the current and previous hosts.
    • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Reckoning", Kira let herself to be possessed by a Prophet, one of the Energy Beings that her species, the Bajorans, worship as gods. The possessor even explicitly declares (when in her body) that "this vessel is willing," and afterwards she's awestruck over the fact that she of all people was chosen. (On the other hand, its Evil Counterpart forcibly possesses the body of Jake Sisko, but later finds a willing host in Dukat.)
  • Jimmy, the host of Castiel in Supernatural. An angel's true form is too powerful to accomplish anything on Earth that doesn't involve leaving a wake of destruction, so they need to occupy human bodies. Most - but not all - angels use willing hosts. Specifically, an angel requires permission to possess someone. However, because angels tend to have a Knight Templar attitude with little respect for humans, if a more despicable angel needs a particular host who happens to be unwilling for some reason, apparently it's OK to torture them until they say yes. Castiel isn't despicable and honestly waits for the consent of his host. The first time Jimmy accepts seemingly of his own free will, since he's a devout Christian; the second it's because a) he's dying, and b) Castiel's other option is Jimmy's daughter.
  • Most incarnations of Ultraman have elements of this, though just where the host ends and the possessing entity begins when the hero is in suited form differs/isn't always clear.

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, any god who wishes to possess a mortal body must be granted access by the host him/herself. If the host isn't willing, the god can't enter the body (if they try anyway, the control will be temporary, and they will get kicked out not long after).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Book of Exalted Deed introduces Channeling as the Celestials' counterpart to the Fiends' Demonic Possession, though unlike the latter it requires a willing host. The mortal gains stat boosts and the powers of the Celestial being channeled, but retains full control of his or her body. The more powerful Celestials can do this as a matter of course, while mortal casters with the right spells can channel any Celestial ally.
    • The 3.5 edition of the Tome of Magic introduced the Binder class, which uses this trope as a core mechanic. These characters make pacts with Vestiges, entities outside normal conceptions of life or death, and channel them to gain spell-like abilities, skill bonuses, and other powers based on the Vestige in question. These Vestiges are so eager to vicariously live again that they never turn down a pact - instead whether the Binder succeeds or fails at a pact determines whether the Vestige will have any influence over them. A former paladin-turned-blackguard who gave up the battle between good and evil, for example, will influence a Binder to withdraw from melee combat after ten rounds, while a Vestige who stole a goddess' armor will keep a Binder from removing any such protection. Vestiges also leave a physical mark of their presence on a Binder, from odd scars to faintly-glowing eyes to an extra face.
    • In Eberron, the Quori typically make use of these as human hosts. Ordinary humans simply can't be possessed by Quori without their consent; Empty Vessels, a Human Subspecies specifically bred to host Quori, can be possessed regardless of whether or not they're willing but the Quori still prefer them to be, since that way they can be trusted to continue to work towards the Quori's aims even when the Quori itself isn't in residence. And in either case, manipulating people to do what they want is something Quori are very good at. The first kalashtar were also the result of human monks voluntarily channeling renegade Quori, but the present-day kalashtar, as their descendants, have spirits that are a blending of human and Quori that do not function as separate entities.
  • In Fabula Ultima, the Arcanist class's central mechanic lets them bind a supernatural entity called an Arcanum to their very soul. They can then summon the bound Arcanum into themselves to gain its power, mechanically represented as a passive benefit—such as resistance to a specific damage type or immunity to a specific status effect—which lasts until the Arcanum is "dismissed" in one of several ways. Voluntarily dismissing an Arcanum usually produces a powerful magical effect, such as an area-of-effect Fixed Damage Attack or an emergency Mass Teleportation for the party.
  • From Hunter: The Vigil, Les Mysteres allow themselves to be possessed by Spirits to further the Spirits' goal, believing that Spirits are inherently good beings that're being tormented by the Uratha. Problem is, anyone who's read Werewolf: The Forsaken will know that this is a stupid, stupid idea. Not only are Spirits devoid of any human morality, prolonged possession would eventually reduce the host into a meat puppet for the Spirit to use as it desires.
  • In Pathfinder:
    • This is one way of flavoring the Oracle Character Class, and eventually became the basis of an archetype called the Possessed Oracle, who gets its powers by allowing spirits to inhabit its body.
    • The Medium Character Class' main feature is the ability to invite archetypal spirits into its body for a day, gaining Powers via Possession that scale with the Medium's Character Level. The process normally requires an hour-long Summoning Ritual, but high-level Mediums can briefly call in a second spirit if they need extra powers — say, if they're using the Champion's combat prowess, but find themselves in need of an Archmage spirit's spellcasting.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Possessed Marines, Chaos Space Marines who summon Daemons into their bodies, thus sacrificing what little humanity remains in exchange for fearsome powers.
    • Used by the Exorcists, a Loyalist chapter who undergo possession as part of their training. Despite the incredibly stupid-sounding nature of the project, they actually took sane precautions like keeping a squad of Grey Knights on hand and only summoning minor Warp creatures into the hosts. After twelve hours of possession, the hosts are exorcised, and the survivors become invisible to all but the most powerful of daemons, preventing them from being possessed again in most cases.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Some Chaos cultists willingly accept Daemonic possession out of extreme devotion, delusion that they're being elevated to daemonhood, or belief that they can control the Daemon within them. In fact, the Daemon inevitably eats their soul to make itself at home.

    Video Games 
  • Maya Fey, Pearl Fey, and other practitioners of the Kurain Channeling Technique can do this in the Ace Attorney games. As spirit mediums, they channel the spirit of a dead person into themselves, effectively becoming that person for a short time. Even their physical bodies change into the form of the deceased, though their clothing and hair remain the same. In Spirit of Justice, the queen of Khura'in also has this ability, which represents her claim to the throne. Once Ga'ran is revealed to be incapable of channeling spirits, she is exposed as an illegitimate queen and deposed by her own guards.
  • Ryuusei Cartwright in AdventureQuest freely allows the Devourer The'Galin to manifest in his body. Curiously, he retains the ability to shift into this form after The'Galin had left.
  • In Breath of Fire IV a medium briefly serves this purpose for the Endless who resides in Erishin (who cannot survive any other way due to the botched method of summoning that brought her into the protagonists' world). She overeats a bit, but doesn't do anything worse than complain the medium who lent her the body wasn't sufficiently attractive.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: V slots a chip with the personality of Johnny Silverhand, a terrorist rockerboy on it. Johnny can speak to them and show up in the world as a Virtual Ghost only V can see. V can suppress Johnny overtaking their body by taking one type of pills, or take another type to hasten the process. To solve some of their problems and untangle themselves, V and Johnny need to talk to people only Johnny can get through. To do that, V can temporarily give the control of their body to Johnny by taking the pills that hasten the process of Johnny overtaking their mind.
  • Devil Survivor has a two examples of this. Mari allows Kresnik to use her body to kill her fiance's killer Kudlak and Amane does it with both a demon and an angel.
    • Done again in the sequel, where Io takes in the essence of Lugh to summon the Dragon Stream and to defeat a particularly tenacious enemy.
  • A third Bioware example: in the Dragon Age: series the 'Spirit Healer' Mage Specialisation is described as getting their exceptional healing powers by channelling benevolent Fade spirits. The two recruitable Spirit Healers expand on this:
    • Wynne, The Medic in Origins, describes how a particular spirit has seemed to be watching over her her whole life and helps her out with the healing. She's also technically dead, having pulled a Heroic Sacrifice before you recruit her, and her spirit friend is keeping her alive through possession. This can be seen as foreshadowing...
    • Anders, a healing-focused mage and all-around snarker, who is the resident Spirit Healer in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. Another character in the same game is Justice, a spirit of the Fade possessing the dead body of a Grey Warden. After the end of the game, Justice gives up the Warden's body, but Anders allows himself to be possessed so that Justice can remain in the physical world. This unfortunately backfires by the time of Dragon Age II, when Anders' hatred of Templars has twisted the spirit of Justice into a demon of Vengeance.
    • Avvar mages and Rivaini seers are generally friendlier towards spirits than the Chantry, and allow benevolent spirits to briefly possess them. For Avvar mages, this is a central part of their training - a benevolent spirit keeps them safe from malicious ones until they're strong enough, and other spirits ensure that neither party is corrupted.
    • All magic in the Dragon Age franchise is an example of this. Mages perform magic by channelling the spirits of the Fade, something only they can do because mages are essentially living Fade portals. Even elemental magic is performed this way: conjuring a fireball requires that a mage commune with fire elemental wisps in the Fade.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Kurogane becomes this for the Dream Demon King Mayard. Initially sworn to oppose and seal him, she can agree to finally bind herself to him so he can save her life, when she's mortally wounded and on the cusp of dying. From this point, she channels the power of the incubus king for special attacks, giving her Supernatural Gold Eyes when she does.
  • The Reaper Job in Final Fantasy XIV willingly summon and channel an 'Avatar', a Voidsent who devours the souls of their enemies in exchange for their power. After unlocking Enshroud, the Reaper can temporarily let the Avatar possess their body, boosting their power as well as giving them a creepy black hood and a glowing red arm.
  • Mages in the universe of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn can greatly enhance their powers by becoming a Spirit Charmer, someone who lets spirits into his body in exchange for their power. The side-effect of this is receiving a mark that often makes them the victim of Fantastic Racism (though due to a misunderstanding) and the fact that it slowly erodes their very being, though that doesn't seem to be such a big deal, given what we saw from the only playable Spirit Charmer.
  • The Revenant class in Guild Wars 2 is built around this, channeling the spirits of various historical figures and the raw power of the afterlife to grant them buffs and powers.
  • BioWare also used this in Jade Empire with Wild Flower and her "guardian" Chang Ka. Wild Flower is a sweet-natured small child no more than ten years old, and Chang Ka is a massive, shaggy demon. Of course, he's not the only one that's possessing Wild Flower. It ends up being justified in that the Guardian needs a host to tie him to this plane of existence and help the Spirit Monk, and Wild Flower's happy because she should be dead and Chang Ka's possession gives her a second chance.
  • In the flash RPG MARDEK, Mardek shares a consciousness with an extraterrestrial being named Rohoph.
  • If you spared the Rachni Queen in Mass Effect, you'll meet her channeler in Mass Effect 2 on Illium. While Shepard is skeptical, the channeler insists that she volunteered. Given that the last person the Queen used as a host was dead at the time, it's possible this is the case here.
  • Meibisi tries this at the end of Rise of the Kasai with his God of Evil, Kri. Doesn't work out very well.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, Yuko allows the false deity Aradia into herself in an effort to gain a Reason. Which Aradia cannot possibly grant. Not that she ever tells Yuko.
  • A fourth Bioware example is the Sith Inquistor line of Star Wars: The Old Republic, who learn to channel and possess ghosts as a power boost.
  • Near the end of Tales of Symphonia, Colette Brunel allows the spirit of Martel to speak through her, which is a direct contrast to the fact that Colette has not only been specifically bred but also mentally conditioned for her entire life to be an unwilling host for Martel by the church of Cruxis and by extension Martel's brother Mithos, who did all this to bring his beloved sister back to life. Martel proceeds to rip her brother a new one for all the pain and suffering he's caused in his quest to resurrect her, which just drives him even further over the edge.
  • Warcraft III: Grom reveals that the demon-aligned (and green-skinned) Horde of the previous two games had not been corrupted as Thrall believed, but most of the chieftains willingly drank the demon's blood (and by doing so again, Grom's troops became the red-skinned Fel Orcs). Thrall is not happy to find this out. Once purged of the demon's blood, a repentant Grom joins Thrall to kill the demon responsible, and strikes the deathblow at the expense of his own life.
  • Garrosh Hellscream in World of Warcraft qualifies as this when he uses the heart of Eldritch Abomination Y'shaarj. The heart is the strongest part of the monster, and even weak offshoots of the creature have been shown to totally overtake others, but Garrosh willingly uses the power, and the monster doesn't even seem to mind.
    • Paladins/Priests and the Light, in a way. The things they're channeling are basically angels, so there is no chance of possession going wrong, but sometimes the Light does seem to take action when they can't (Breaking Tirion out of the Lich King's iceblock and shatter Frostmourne, since it doesn't seem Tirion was powerful enough to do that on his own, otherwise he would have earlier).
    • Shaman, channeling the elements. Specifically Thrall, channeling pure elemental power and taking Deathwing's place as Earth Warder (protector of Azeroth and the elements, basically). Being the Earth Warder comes with a lot of pain as well as happiness and closeness with the elements, so Thrall willingly channeled this power, even knowing how painful it can be.

    Web Comics 
  • In Ghost Theater, the main character has a Frozen Face due to emotional trauma. She takes a job in the supernatural theater of the title, allowing the spirits of the dead to posses her and act out parts in the plays, because her face is able to express emotion while she's inhabited by a ghost.
  • Girl Genius: More than one example, none of them exactly pleasant for the channeler.
    • The English spy/adventurer Trelawney Thorpe is able to summon England's uber-Spark Queen Albia to directly possess her body, at the cost of great physical strain.
    • Carson von Mekkhan has sockets installed in his skull that, when properly plugged into, allow Castle Heterodyne to access his body and speak through it.
    • "His Serenity" the Deepdweller has been long trained to allow the god-like Great Cetacean Ahnkokanth to speak through him. Ahnkokanth is loud and peevish, leaving His Serenity as something of a Nervous Wreck.
  • In Housepets! the spirit entities have "avatars" who wield immense power in exchange for acting as instruments of their will in the mortal realm. Often compared to D&D player characters. Of course, Pete uses rather underhanded means of coercing his potential avatars.

    Web Original 
  • Not everything in the SCP Foundation is deadly. There's an artifact that bears the names of missing people, and if you touch it, you'll be asked to sacrifice yourself so that person can return home. If you agree, and only if you agree, you'll be transformed both physically and mentally into the missing person, and your own memories will fade over time. There are people who have agreed to it.
  • A, main character of Twitch Plays Pokémon Emerald, is commonly believed to summon the mind-controlling voices (a.k.a. the players) by herself - as opposed to previous characters, who didn't have a choice.
  • In The Worldbuild Project, the Rohomajeshi fit this trope to a T. Their whole shtick is that they make deal to host and channel spirits in exchange for powers.

    Western Animation 
  • In Gargoyles, this is actually required — Puck can't transfer a soul into a new body unless the host agrees. That said, this does follow Exact WordsBrooklyn got possessed by a villain while trying to volunteer for a good guy, while Lexington got possessed by baby Alex by sarcastically saying "I could use some help here."
  • Kaeloo: This is apparently a power Quack Quack has. He uses it to channel Olga, a sentient block of ice, into his body so she can directly communicate her needs by talking through his mouth.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Avatars who have mastered the Avatar State can channel Raava the Avatar Spirit and all her past hosts.
  • Played for Laughs in South Park, where Stan willingly fuses with Satan in order to fight the Canadian Devil, Beelzaboot.
    Satan: I'm gonna need to borrow your soul real quick, kid. Is that alright?
    Stan: ...Okay.
  • Steven Universe: Future: has a variant where the channeler channels living people instead of ghosts or spirits. White Diamond gains this ability after her Heel–Face Turn by reversing her Mind Control ability so instead of taking control of other gems, she now allows other gems to control her.