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Your Brain Won't Be Much of a Meal

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No braaaaiiins?
Elan: So... are you going to eat my brain?
Mindflayer: [sniff sniff] No, I'm cool, thanks.

When a Brain Eater encounters a character who manifests a few Stupidity Tropes, they will realize the contents of their prey's cranium (or lack thereof) will provide little to no sustenance to them.

This trope can be demonstrated in a few ways:

  • The monster is only worried about the dumb character's brain, or other characters make comments along these lines.
  • The monster sniffs and says that the dumb character's brain is not a big meal, or eats it and says that it's still hungry.
  • The brain is small or there is no brain in their head at all, possibly illustrated by their Hollow-Sounding Head.

A subtrope of Disability Immunity. Compare/contrast with Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth. Related to Too Dumb to Fool. If the potential victim seems insulted by the rejection it can overlap with Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?. Often used as a Stealth Insult.


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    Comic Books 
  • During Joss Whedon's run on Runaways set in the early 20th century (Time Travel shenanigans), the Runaways meet up with a gang of metahumans called the Street Arabs. One of them, Dead George Pelham, is a friendly neighborhood zombie. Later in the arc, several of the Arabs are killed by Kid Twist, a vicious member of the Yorkes' gang with the power to fire bullets that never miss their target. In the middle of the final battle of the story arc, Dead George makes a point of tracking down Kid Twist to avenge the Arabs. As Kid Twist futilely fires bullets at the angry zombie, Dead George says this:
    George: I'm partial to brains myself. But you just emptied your gun into a dead man so I doubt this'll be much of a meal. [bites into Kid Twist's skull]
  • One Halloween issue of MAD had a zombie become sick after eating Alfred E. Neuman's brain.
  • In the Chilean comic Zombies en la Moneda, a television channel is invaded by zombies, we see a model — a real-life celebrity — fleeing from a group of zombies who shout "Brainnnsss". The model trips and falls, and the zombies surround her ... only to walk away later, quite disappointed.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animated 
  • In ParaNorman, this conversation happens:
    Alvin: They're going to eat our brains!
    Norman: I think you'll be safe.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: The party encounters Intellect Devourers, walking brain monsters that are more likely to attack the higher one's intelligence. They scurry right past the party, which Edgin is a little offended at.
  • Seen in the Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee movie Horror Express. The brainsucking alien finds the crazy monk not worth killing, and eventually the crazy monk starts worshiping the alien (which the alien finds somewhat annoying). Similarly the alien doesn't target kids because they wouldn't have anything it's interested in.
    Crazy Monk: Are you going to kill me?
    Brainsucking Alien: Oh, there's nothing in your head of any use.
  • In Zombieland: Double Tap, Tallahassee insinuates that this is how resident Dumb Blonde Madison has survived the Zombie Apocalypse so far.
  • In Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2, Zed burns Bucky during a rap battle/presidential debate by alluding to him having no brain for him to feed on:
    Bucky: You eat brains.
    Zed: Well, if I did, you haven't got one, so you'd be safe.

  • An old joke: Grab someone by the head and start moving your hand up and down then say "This is a brain-sucker... and it's starving."
  • The counter to that is, when the person grabs your head, you say "Stop making the brain-sucker fat!" before they can call it starving.
  • A traveller wandering on an island inhabited entirely by cannibals comes upon a butcher shop. This shop specialised in human brains differentiated according to source. The sign in the shop read: "Artists' Brains $9/lb Philosophers' Brains $12/lb Scientists' Brains $15/lb Economists' Brains $19/lb." Upon reading the sign, the traveller noted, "My, those economists' brains must be popular!" To which the butcher replied, "Are you kidding! Do you have any idea how many economists you have to kill to get a pound of brains?!"
    • A similar has a Male brain and a Female brain for sale. The traveller asks why the Female brain is cheaper. The butcher answers, "Because it's used."
    • Another variant has a doctor's brain and a lawyer's brain asks the second person to guess which costs more. Depending on which side is the butt of the joke, the replies are, "Of course, because it has something useful inside." Or, "of course, because it has never been used."

  • A variation in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: When Veruca Salt is captured by Wonka's army of intelligent nut-cracking squirrels, their first instinct is to treat her as just another walnut. They tap her head to test, and then, to the observers' alarm, begin dragging her to the garbage chute.
    Wonka: I'm afraid her head must have sounded quite hollow!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: Inverted in "It Takes You Away". Ribbons of the Seven Stomachs takes a liking to the Doctor and his companions as his potential next meal. With the Doctor he says, "Oh, you ask the clever questions. I bet your brain tastes so delicious."
  • Doom Patrol (2019): In the Season 3 episode "Undead Patrol", the zombified Doom Patrol members sniff Darren Jones and say that he doesn't smell like he actually has a brain.
  • Referenced in Red Dwarf. When the crew is confronted by brain-eating monsters, Rimmer deadpans that there's "barely a snack onboard."
  • Referenced in the Blackadder Goes Forth episode "Captain Cook", with cannibals this time.
    Edmund: Your brain's so minute, Baldrick, that if a hungry cannibal cracked your head open, there wouldn't be enough to cover a small water biscuit.
  • On Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Ryan Stiles was supposed to be a zombie and attacked Drew Carrey... and then walked away, looking for brain somewhere else.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • Not only can't she eat vampire brains (though it's a Mind Rape than a physical eating), Glory rejects one of her own sycophantic minions, who offers up his own brain as emergency nourishment.
      Glory: "I said a brain, you worthless dirt!"
    • Inverted with the demon in "The Puppet Show"; Buffy and the Scoobies are realizing that Giles is the target of a brain-eating demon, and become especially worried after remembering that he's very smart.
  • In one episode of Modern Family, a zookeeper arrives at the Dunphy house for a birthday party. When an iguana ends up on Luke Dunphy's head, he asks what it eats and is replied with a faux-dramatic "little boys' brains". Luke's sister Alex then snarks that he should be safe.
  • In one episode of Jessie, Luke is convinced that Emma's SCOBY will eat his brain. Bertram jokes that it will still be hungry.

  • During the Christmas 2020 Zombie Apocalypse on NoPixel, all the zombies completely ignore Mike Block and go after other characters.note  Mike himself doesn't understand why.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: At least as of 5e, rules as written in the Monster Manual, the iconic Mind Flayer's Extract Brain action only works on Humanoids. Some player character races, such as the Fairy and the Satyr, are Fey, not Humanoid. This leads to player characters whose brains would do nothing for the Mind Flayer.
  • Seen in the Flavor Text of Magic: The Gathering's Synapse Sliver.
    "Species XR17 feeds upon the mental energies of its victims. This explains why the goblins remain unaffected."
    —Riptide Project researcher
  • Much as in the The Order of the Stick example below, mind flayers in Dungeons & Dragons often invoke (the first variation of) this trope in supplementary materials, as they prefer to eat newly-acquired captives over long-term slave populations. This is because their slaves, especially those born into it, are dull-witted from mental domination and the drudgery of years of service, and so are sustaining but dreadfully bland. This is also the reason for why mind flayers don't simply eat the brains of animals, or even regenerating creatures like hydras; they could do it, but to them, it'd be like a king spending his whole life eating gruel so as to not offend the poultry.

    Video Games 
  • In BlazBlue, Arakune (sort of) says this when given the chance to consume Bang Shishigami when the former wins.
  • In The Darkside Detective, when Dooley is trapped in a crypt with a group of zombies, they seem strangely uninterested in eating him. When McQueen asks one of the zombies why, she replies, "Brains!", which isn't that helpful, since she has a One-Word Vocabulary, but in this case the obvious interpretation might be the correct one.
  • Variation in Psychonauts, where Raz unsuccessfully tries to warn Bobby Zilch about someone stealing the campers' brains.
    Raz: Hey, Bobby! Someone's stealing kids' brains!
    Bobby: Well in that case, you've got nothing to worry about! Ah-ha-ha-ha!
    Raz: ...Good one.
    Raz: [Sighs]
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Soldier has this little gem:
    "What's that Brain Maggot? You're starving?... Yeah, I'm hungry too."
  • Near the end of Sewer Shark (Really obscure Sega CD game), Commissioner Stenchler decides to sic something called 'Serks' onto the heroes. What are Serks? Brain eating fireflies.
    Stenchler: Pity, I'm afraid you won't be much of a meal for them, Beach Bum!
  • A snarky Crime Computer can grace you with a nice "YOU don't have to worry about brain-eating zombies" if you use an item at the wrong place in Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove.
  • In Timesplitters Future Perfect, Jo-Beth worries that the zombies in the mansion will eat her brain. Anya snarks that there probably isn't very much for them to eat!
  • Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms has a campaign variant called "Starve Them Out", where a giant Intellect Devourer (an intellect-eating monster) shows up as a miniboss. It takes a massive amount of individual hits to go down, but its maximum health is reduced by 10 for every point of Intelligence less than 12 among your active champions. For example, Bruenor with 8 Intelligence will reduce its max health by 40 if he is in the party.

  • The Order of the Stick:
  • Concerned: After Gordon walks away with a headcrab on his head for the better part of a chapter, it eventually falls off, having died of malnutrition. Gordon provides a Lampshading in the background.
  • xkcd, first type, when Zombie Feynman wants brains after explaining how MythBusters are true science:
    Person: Try the physics lab next door.
    Zombie Feynman: I said BRAINS. All they've got are string theorists.
  • In this Dork Tower strip, Igor engages a mind flayer with purple nurples and "the dreaded doom wedgie". Since this effectively proved his character didn't have a brain to flay, he actually won.
  • In Unsounded, Sette complains that as a zombie, Duane should be eating brains and that hers is full of cunning and knowledge. His response is to knock on her head and declare it "hollow".
  • Invoked in 8-Bit Theater when the Light Warriors encounter an orc zombie.
    Black Mage: (to Fighter) This thing desires brains. Speaking to you is a waste of its valuable time. A man dying of thirst can't drink sand, ya get me?
    Fighter: We're in a desert?
    Black Mage: Go play.
  • Evil, Inc.'s "Undead Affairs" division once tried sending zombie lobbyists to Congress, six zombies starved to death before they could get them out of D.C.
  • Referenced in Grim Tales from Down Below during the recap of the original show:
    Grim: I do believe that if the world was populated by [Billy's] ilk, zombies everywhere would starve to death.
  • Caves and Critters has a short arc where an Intellect Devourer enters the main party's minds while they're sleeping. It doesn't find much to eat in Theran's.

    Web Animation 
  • In an online Looney Tunes short, Sylvester has a nightmare of being trapped in a house surrounded by zombie Tweeties, a pretty obvious parody of Night of the Living Dead (1968). As the zombie birds pull themselves out of the ground, groaning for brains, one of them stops and asks, "If we want brains, why are we after the puddy tat?". The Tweeties shrug and keep advancing.

    Web Videos 
  • Freshy Kanal: In a rap battle between cannibals, Hannibal Lecter insults Leatherface's intelligence by remarking that his stomach would still be empty after eating Leatherface's brain.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Futurama episode "Raging Bender", we see a Brain Slug starve to death after it gets on Fry's head. However, this isn't just because Fry is a bit dim; according to "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid", Fry has abnormal brain waves that make him resistant to mind control.
  • My Gym Partner's a Monkey has this trope exploited in "My Science Project". Adam and Jake attempt to look dumber than the other to convince a rogue machine searching for intelligent hosts to leave them alone.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
    • The brain-eating meteor didn't find anything in Billy's head. Although that creature wasn't complaining about other variants.
    • Human and Martian zombies also find nothing appetizing in Billy's head.
    • The gang once rented a movie from an underworld video store that caused a chupacabra to materialize. When Grim sees it trying to suck Billy's brain out, Mandy comments that it's going to starve.
  • Trope namer is from the My Life as a Teenage Robot episode "Last Action Zero", where a humanoid brain-eating rock monster comments about Brad's brain after his recklessness caused him and Jenny to get captured in their own net.
  • The Simpsons: The "Treehouse of Horror III" segment "Dial Z For Zombies" has a zombie horde clamoring for "Braaaains" crashing the Simpsons home. Homer invokes Heroic Sacrifice, telling the zombies to leave his family alone and eat him only. However, they inspect Homer's head, say "No braaaaains" and abandon him in disgust. One zombie taps Homer on the head and a very hollow sound is heard before it moves along. Homer is left offended.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls (1998), the girls defeat a brain-sucking "Robbin' Leech" by tricking him into attacking the Mayor. He tries to suck out information from the Mayor's noggin, but finds none.
  • A variation in the Dilbert cartoon where a brain-sucking alien devours a marketing guy's brains (not that he cares or notices) and dies from something akin to food poisoning.
    Other Alien: He starved to death with a full stomach.
  • In Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, a brain-eating monster begins sucking the intelligence of Quark Industries' scientists. When he goes after Donovan, Quark's Pointy-Haired Boss/Corrupt Corporate Executive, both Donovan AND his monkey try to use this trope in order to escape. The monster just shrugs it off, wanting to attack out of dislike. In a later episode, Donovan's nephew gains the same brain-sucking powers but decides against attacking Donovan. ("I crave nutrition, not empty calories!")
  • T.U.F.F. Puppy: In the Halloween Episode, Keswick reanimated some corpses to have zombies for the holiday. He said the zombies would be harmless as long as there were candies for them to eat; otherwise, they'd eat brains. When Keswick commented Dudley would be safe, Dudley proved the point by claiming he didn't understand it.
  • Another brain-sucking alien example in the Johnny Bravo episode "Third Dork from the Sun", where said alien attempts to absorb Johnny's intelligence only to realize there was nothing to absorb, resulting in his brain overloading.
  • The Wacky Races (2017) episode "Backseat Drivers" had Peter Perfect try to save I.Q. Ickley from some zombies by offering that they eat his brain instead. The zombies walk right past Peter. This is actually subverted since the zombies were visiting relatives and didn't want to eat any brains.
    Peter Perfect: Now, that's just insulting.
  • One episode of Pinky and the Brain features a brain-eating alien targeting The Brain, using machines designed to suck out the target's brain. When his machinery grabs Pinky instead, it produces nothing but a warning that "Intelligence of entree is dangerously low" and (possibly also because Brain is trying to remove Pinky from the device) explodes.


Fry's brain slug

Poor little guy is starved to death.

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