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Most examples aren't this literal.

"I feel nothing... I AM nothing."
Shadow Mitsuo, Persona 4

This character is... barely a character. For a variety of reasons, he or she has gone past the Extreme Doormat and Stepford Smiler and become nothing. They aren't pushovers or empty of real personality, they are completely dead inside. They are this side of a Convenient Coma because there is still something there... they move, talk, eat, sleep, but they have no drive, ambition, or capacity for emotion. Basically, the body is an active biochemical machine, but the part that made him or her alive and human is gone.

In Real Life, the closest term for it is probably "catatonic". However, catatonia is as likely to result from the inability to initiate movement as it is from lack of consciousness; the individual could be anything from fully conscious to nearly comatose, and you could never tell.

How did this happen? Here's a few ways: regular old Crapsack World induced trauma, psychological torture, Mind Control, Mind Rape, and high end uses of an Agony Beam. It can be done metaphysically by being drained of all their Liquid Assets or Life Energy, or having their Soul or part of their Soul Anatomy stolen. Then again, sufficiently radical body alterations can do this too, like being "upgraded" into a machine body or a less-than-successful attempt at resurrection.

Sometimes it's curable, others it's a permanent Fate Worse Than Death. Expect these characters to be the preferred People Puppets for Telepaths and demons for being not so much Weak-Willed as No Willed. Contrast The Soulless, who are like Empty Shells filled with drive and ambition, and lacking all moral restraint. Compare to Soulless Shells, who died and were brought back without their souls.

Examples of Empty Shell include:

Anime and Manga

  • Mazinger Z: The Iron Masks and Iron Cross are cyborg Big Bad Dr. Hell fabricated with corpses, mechanizing their brains (actually their helmets are a replacement for his skulls) and programming them to obey him loyally and without question. They have no name, no identity, no personality (and they barely have half face left under their helmets) and no family. They don't feel hesitate or fear and they don't fear death. And they don't mind. Kouji is understandably freaked out when he fiunds out.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion flips this on its head with Rei Ayanami, who it is revealed starts out as one of many identical empty clone shells in the Reiquarium, with a new one taken out and uploaded with her personality as each successive one is killed. Of course, considering Rei's default personality, it is unclear whether there is a significant difference.
    • It should be noted, however, that Rei does have a soul; the clone bodies are sort of like Gigai from Bleach.
    • Also, after the ever-pleasant visit by Arael, Asuka is left rather devastated.
  • In Darker Than Black "Dolls" are assumed to be this by nearly everyone (not only the Yakuza has no qualms over traffic in Dolls for Sex Bot use, but efforts to save one were viewed as misaimed and pointless by those who knew what she is). Like with Contractors having no emotions, it was disproven, but they still are at worst comatose and at best submissive and so passive that people working with them all the time are surprised if they use their medium abilities without being told to, or show they care for someone. One was even successfully able to pretend that he was a corpse.
  • Suman Dark in D Gray Man becomes this after Allen manages to save him from being a Fallen One. And then Tyki Mikk explodes him.
  • Miharu, the main character of Nabari no Ou starts like this. He is indifferent to everyone and everything around him. The only thing he makes an effort at is being apathetic. He changes with time, though.
  • Mytho from Princess Tutu begins the series as one, having literally shattered his own heart in order to seal away the Raven. As a result, he can't bring himself to do anything, not even think, unless someone tells him to.
  • In Vampire Princess Miyu, those who either willingly exchange blood with Miyu or are bitten by her have their minds placed in a sort-of endless dream, while they act like eternally smiling and "happy" empty shells.
  • In the Fullmetal Alchemist first anime, Tucker ends up creating one of these when he uses a Philosopher's Stone to recreate Nina's body. It's breathing and technically 'alive', but it has no mind and it has no soul.
  • Going by the once-Cutie Yukari Hirai early on in Shakugan no Shana, this happens to Torches as they gradually fade away from existence.
  • Happens in Rozen Maiden to dolls who lose their Rosa Mystica; they lose consciousness and become an ordinary doll (albeit with their eyes closed). It is implied though that their souls live on somewhere else, particularly in the manga.
  • One of the story arcs inXxxHolic centers around a girl becoming this.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Millennium Eye has the power to remove people's souls, leaving their bodies like this. Luckily for Grandpa, Kaiba, and Mokuba, this is reversible.
  • Henrietta at the start of, and well into, Gunslinger Girl. Also after she gets reconditioned.

 Rico: Welcome back, Henrietta!

Henrietta: Hello roommate, neighbour; I am home.

  • In Return to Labyrinth, Sarah qualifies. While not completely empty-shell, she has no real drive, desires, or ambition, and a large portion of her soul had been removed.
  • In Flame of Recca, clone Aoi does this to the local healer Yanagi by erasing her memories and pushing back her thoughts, removing her consciousness so that the satanic monster resulting from the fusion of two other monsters, Tendo Jigoku, can absorb her soul without being rebelled by healing powers. It takes the timely arrival of her lover Recca to bring her back to her senses.
  • Happens to Agnieszka in Kurobara Alice. As the corollary to her Break the Cutie process, she stabs herself to death; a vampire named Maximilian, however, stabs her almost lifeless body with a magical blade, and renders her as this.
  • Yuu[1] becomes this in the 2012 anime of Black Rock Shooter, due to the soul-crushing situation of her life.
  • In Ai no Kusabi, this happened to Kirie by forcefully being Brainwashed to be a Pet. AKA a Sex Slave. For him it was a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • In Goblin Slayer, Priestess' once-partner Fighter ended up like this after being gangraped by goblins and witnessing the deaths of their other companions, Warrior and Female Wizard.

Comic Books

  • The Emplate body is an example. Created to be a vessel for another character's personality, it becomes bestial and mindless when not 'occupied'.
  • One particularly nasty side story in Transmetropolitan involves Spider doing a story on child prostitutes in The City, who are disturbingly like this.
  • Man-Thing exists more or less in this state permanently, unable to hold onto any moments of temporary lucidity and motivated only by empathy.
  • Elf Quest devotes a plot point to an elf so tortured and mutilated by his captors that he has no arms, no legs, and no mind. He's got rockshaping powers, though, and can be prodded into using them in whatever direction they want him to, just to avoid worse pain.
  • Victims of the Anti-Life Equation in The DCU are turned into this. Forever and ever. And all it takes is to hear the Equation once.

Fan Works

  • In Harry Potter and The Methods of Rationality, Harry becomes this for a few paragraphs due to prolonged exposure to a Dementor. He still acts and reacts, but his internal monologue is utterly mechanistic.
  • Marty in No Antidote, increasingly so because of his neural degeneration.


  • Podling who have their essence drained in The Dark Crystal become this, turning gray and empty eyed, shuffling from place to place. Happily, it was cured when the Dark Crystal was healed.
  • In the horror film Pulse, ghosts drain the "will to live" from people, turning them into Empty Shells that just want to die.
  • The chemical Pax caused most of the population of Miranda to sit or lie down wherever they were and do nothing until they died, in Serenity. The remainder had the exact opposite reaction, becoming the psychotically violent once-human monsters known as the Reavers.
  • Thankfully averted in the case of the titular character of WALL-E. He gets better after EVE says her "final" goodbye.
  • Richardson threatens to do this to David in The Adjustment Bureau, obliterating his mind so completely that there would in essence be nothing left of him.


  • This is the fate that befalls those who watch even a moment of the titular film in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.
  • In Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, if a Dementor eats your soul, you become this: not only will you be unable to feel, but you won't even have a consciousness. You just "exist", in a coma for the rest of your life.
  • In Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy, Arthur Dent spends some time on a planet which seems a lot like Earth but where no one has any motivation or hopes at all, and apparently don't even care enough to avoid dying of thirst when their plumbing breaks.
  • In the Discworld novel The Light Fantastic, Trymon becomes one after his mind becomes a door into the "Dungeon Dimensions", whence strange, horrible creatures try to escape into reality.
  • In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, patients who are lobotomized become this.
  • In His Dark Materials, there are creatures known as Spectres that feed off of adults, turning them into Empty Shells.
    • This is also usually the fate of those who have their daemons severed.
  • The ultimate fate of the protagonists in 1984.
  • People caught by the Black Wind in The Wheel of Time series become this, if they survive. Likewise being "kissed" by a Draghkar, or otherwise losing your soul. There are also the Grey Men, sometimes known in-universe as The Soulless, who have surrendered their souls to the Shadow and are little more than automatons.
  • Perhaps the nastiest version — the Borg are this, according to Star Trek Destiny. The guiding intelligence of the Borg was once an alien cybernetic organism called a Caeliar — a bit paranoid and xenophobic, but basically okay. But after being stranded in the past with nothing to sustain her, Sedin degraded into a mindless hunger.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Drogo ends up like this after Mirri heals him. After being convinced he won't recover, Daenerys suffocates him.
  • Scott Tyler in The Power of Five is one of these at the end of Nightrise. Probably understandable, considering he spent most of the book being tortured, both physically and mentally.
  • Some of Isaac Asimov's robots became like this if they got stuck in the robot equivalent of a really bad infinite loop (eg, by running into a Three Laws conflict that couldn't be resolved without hurting at least one human. The smarter ones found a solution that minimized human injury; simpler models just went insane.)
  • Within the Gentleman Bastard series, this is the result of inhaling the smoke of wraithstone. It's commonly used on animals to "gentle" them, effectively removing all desire other than a mild desire to eat, sleep, and follow commands. It works on humans too...
  • Battle Royale demonstrates why this can also be a bad thing for those around the Empty Shell. Kazuo Kiriyama was brain-damaged at birth, and his emotional responses are extremely limited. With no feeling of reward for accomplishment, he's been drifting through life, and with no sense of guilt, he has difficulty resolving moral dilemmas. When forced to kill his classmates to survive, he can't tell whether it would be better to fight it and potentially get himself killed too, or go along and ensure his own survival if nothing else. A coin flip resolves things in favor of going along, so he calmly, emotionlessly kills as many students as he can as fast as he can.
  • In Robert Silverberg's novel Recalled to Life, a process is invented that can restore recently dead (i.e. within a day or so) people to life. (It doesn't actually heal whatever killed them, so it's mostly useful for drownings and the like.) One catch: there's about a one-in-six chance of restoring a mindless shell.
  • Colonel Armitage in Neuromancer. The mercenaries he's hired suspect that he does nothing but sit and stare at the wall when he's not on the job.
  • Debatable, but... Bella from Twilight becomes this during New Moon while Edward is gone.
  • In Harmony by Project Itoh, Harmony is supposed to be a program which controls human will via Nanomachines to make human decisions perfectly logical and beneficial for society, but in the process it turns people into this (since the main conceit of the book is that consciousness is formed from the brain weighing up the benefits of various actions, and since Harmony does this task for people, humans stop being conscious). Somewhat averted, though, because Empty Shells under the influence of Harmony are perfectly functional human beings and experience pure, total bliss, compared to Heaven on Earth - they just have no inner voice.
  • 'Zakath in The Malloreon. The Mirin Codex calls him "The Empty One".
  • This is the fate of victims of the revenant (most notably Warren Burgess) in the Fablehaven series--they're trapped in the deepest recesses of their mind, with almost no signs of life on the outside, and no ability to speak. For some weird reason, the revenant also turns the victim into an albino. Everyone gets better after Seth, in a nearly impossible display of courage, removes the wooden nail nail (the only thing keeping the revenant alive) from its neck.
  • In Animorphs, the Ellimist's back story involves him being captured by Father, a huge sea creature that absorbs/enslaves the minds of others. Eventually the Ellimist learns to absorb those dead minds from Father into himself. At the end it seems that Father had no real mind of his own, just a Hive Mind from everyone he had absorbed.
    • Possibly the Isk, created by the Yoorts and together making up the Iskoort species.
  • Poor Yukari Tatsumiya from Teito Monogatari ends up as a mix of this and The Ophelia after the horrifying Break the Cutie process she's subjected to.

Live-Action TV

  • In Dollhouse, the Actives are supposedly like this between missions, although evidence suggests that this may not be as complete as the characters believe.
    • The characters know it, too. To wit: Topher's aversion to the Actives "grouping", or making basic friendships that endure through wipes. The same processes that creates the "grouping" effect can cause the chance of a "composite event", or the Active gaining access to all their previous personas at once, because it penetrates through the wipe.
  • In Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy sees herself as being this trope, stating multiple times that she can't feel anything since she was brought back from the dead. This also constitutes the theme of most of her songs in the musical episode. She isn't really an empty shell though, and gets better by the end of the season.
  • Played with on Angel, in "Soul Purpose". Angel is coma-dreaming about Fred doing surgery on him and she tells him "There's nothing left, just a shell", an allusion to what Wolfram and Hart is doing to him. It's also irony since she became a literal shell for Illyria.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Life Support." Vedek Bareil dies and is then resurrected, but for him to survive, part of his brain had to be replaced with positronic implants (the same stuff Data's brain is made of). He is able to function but he is very different, almost emotionless, and describes his sensations as vague shadows of what he remembers. Eventually, when the rest of his brain starts to fail, Doctor Bashir allows him to die rather than replacing his entire brain with artificial implants. Also an example of Cybernetics Eat Your Soul.
  • In Supernatural, acting as an archangel's vessel is likely to leave the host like this when said archangel leaves. Unless said archangel specifically takes measures against it, that is.

Newspaper Comics

  • Except for Asok, everyone in Dilbert has been reduced to this by the mindlessness of the workplace. This is what it looks like when it happens.

Tabletop RPG

  • This is a result of soul loss in the New World of Darkness. Initially, the newly soulless person develops the inability to care about others around him as his Karma Meter erodes to 1, but then his Willpower starts to vanish, and once that hits zero, they become what is basically this, so long as someone doesn't realize that the vacated meat puppet is a good body. If their soul — or someone else's — is grafted back to them, they gradually return to normal.
  • This is one of the ways to describe what happens when you lose all of your charisma (by being poisoned or subject to magical draining attacks, for example) in Dungeons and Dragons. Losing all Wisdom — a measure of a character's mental balance, the base stat for Willpower — causes you to "fall into a nightmare-filled sleep." Losing all your points in any vital stat generally means you can't act at all and automatically fail checks based on that stat until you recover at least one point in it - the exception is Constitution, which measures your health, and if that falls to 0, you simply die.
    • This is what happens to people who stay too long in Hades, the lowest plane of the lower planes in the default cosmology. The idea presented is that pure evil is not torture or manipulation; it's the complete loss of hope.
    • The upper plane of Elysium has an "entrapping" trait almost identical to Hades, except it operates through contentment rather than despair.
  • This is the second-worst thing that can happen to someone in Don't Rest Your Head, if the Mad City completely breaks them.
  • Waisen from Seventh Sea's Eisen are like that. Thirty years of war can do this to helpless civilians.
  • In In Nomine, this is what happens to angels and demons who lose all of their Celestial Forces; They become Remnants, wandering the Earth in whatever body they last used before they were killed, without the perception to remember what they were or the will to do much of anything. Angels and demons alike tend to consider them both sad and creepy.

Video Games

  • This is what happens to Kairi in Kingdom Hearts when her Heart leaves her body and enters Sora.
    • Also of note are the Nobodies in the second game; the body of someone who has had their heart stolen in most cases the shell is transformed into a shapeless monster. They have no emotions of any kind, as they have no 'heart', but the Nobodies of people with particularly strong hearts retain their memories and human appearance. They know what it means to feel, but will never do so again, (sometimes) through no fault of their own. They want Sora to kill as many Heartless as possible so that they can build a Kingdom Hearts that can restore their lost hearts.
    • Similar to the Kairi example above, this happens to Ventus when his heart leaves his body and enters Sora.
  • Shedinja from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire onwards. It's literally an empty shell with nothing inside, the discarded remains of an evolved Nincada's exoskeleton.

Shedinja's hard body doesn't move — not even a twitch. In fact, its body appears to be merely a hollow shell.

    • There have been, in fact, cards for Shedinja in the Pokémon Trading Card Game who have the special ability "Empty Shell."
    • According to legend, Azelf can cause humans to lose all will inside of them, making them completely immobile. Uxie can wipe your memories as a human, and Mesprit can strip your emotions clean. All three of these are likely to do this if you really piss them off. They are, at least, respectable in that they don't use these powers when trainers play with them in Pokémon battles.
    • Shadow Pokémon, which themselves have their emotions wiped clean in some of the worst implied (human-inflicted) Mind Rape the series will ever know. All of this because those Complete Monsters in charge of Cipher want military power for their campaign of global conquest.
  • Ghost Trick: After he's struck by the meteorite fragment, Yomiel's body becomes trapped in stasis at the moment right before his death. Wounds heal instantly, hair doesn't grow, and he's neither truly alive or truly dead. Even after he's reunited with his body he feels a crushing sense of isolation from the rest of humanity that eventually drives him to seek mindless revenge on everyone involved with his death.
  • The epic spell Entropic Husk from the first Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion annihilates the target's soul, leaving nothing but a body that randomly attacks whatever comes near it.
    • Akachi from the same game is nothing but an empty shell of hunger. Myrkul, his former god, had his soul destroyed to the point where there was nothing left of him but a sense of emptiness.
  • In Tales of Symphonia you see the normally sweet Friend to All Living Things Chosen One Colette become this when her heart and memories are sacrificed as the last part of the World Regeneration. This doesn't last long thanks to her Love Interest being a Determinator.
    • Furthermore, the Big Bad's plan to end discrimination involves killing half of the world's population and turning the other have into "Lifeless Beings" (AKA: This).
    • This happens fairly rapidly to Kohak Hearts in Tales of Hearts. The first half of the game is getting her emotions back. After that... other things happen. She doesn't even fight in battle until you get back her courage.
  • Canas's brothers from Fire Emblem 7 apparently became this due to incidents with dark magic.

Canas: ...Unfortunately, the darkness took my brothers... They live...and breathe... their eyes open and close... But...they do not move. And they do not speak.

    • And in the same game, Bramimond takes this just about as far, but no in the same way. He basically gave up his soul for the power to fight dragons and now he simply reflects the soul of whoever is in front of him. While dark may not be evil it most certainly is not a toy
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has two tragic instances of this. Emperor Vigarde of Grado died and was revived via dark magic, as was the wife of the traitor to the good guys, Orson, who defected after it was promised his dear Monica would be revived. Sadly, Emperor Vigarde is a husk that barely resembles the persona of the man he once was, and Orson basically gets a zombie version of Monica who can only say the word "Darling...", and she apparently has started to decay so much by the time you slay said traitor that the good guys give her a Mercy Kill. As a further tragic note, even after "getting Monica back", Orson realized on some level his wife was actually still dead, and trying to maintain the illusion her zombified shell was the original drove him completely insane.
  • The Horned Girl from Baroque is an Empty Shell, who, lacking any thoughts of her own, instead repeats aloud the thoughts of those that try to speak to her.
  • In Persona 4, Mitsuo Kubo's Inner Shadow is a Nietzsche Wannabe Empty Shell. Since his Shadow is as much a "true self" as the shadows of your other party members were their own "true selves", it implies that Mitsuo is driven by the subconscious fear that he is insignificant and will never amount to anything. As a first for the game, Mitsuo is unable to see through his own delusions of grandeur and own up to his own insecurities, unlike your party members, and his Shadow simply dies as a result.
  • Maria from Gears of War 2 is like this when you "rescue" her after she's been tortured, starved, and mutilated by the Locust. Dom euthanizes her.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks has a case similar to Kairi from Kingdom Hearts above with Princess Zelda. Her soul is separated from her body in the very beginning of the game and finding and saving said body, before the Sealed Evil in a Can can use Demonic Possession on it is one of the main goals.
    • Romani in Majora's Mask becomes one of these if she gets captured and Mind Raped by the aliens.
    • Happens to Zelda in Twilight Princess after she sacrifices herself to save Midna. Ganondorf possesses her body for the first of the Final Boss fights.
  • In Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, Imoen becomes temporarily like this after having her soul mostly drained, with an additional aggressive streak. She gets better after having her soul returned.
  • Blaz Blue Setting Material Collection establishes v-13 as one of these. The personality seen in-game is contained entirely in the Murakumo Unit, her armor.
    • Noel Vermilion was created as an Empty Shell. Her Murakumo unit "tempering" was interrupted, allowing her to develop a personality, albeit a very weak and passive one until she starts getting Character Development.
    • Lambda-11 is an incomplete Murakumo unit that was tweaked around by Kokonoe. She had somewhat of a personality before this happened, and flashes of it remain throughout the story like in her Gag Reel or when she takes an attack for Ragna. In later games, especially Chronophantasma, she begins to recover the rest of her awareness and properly develop it - especially thanks to the aforementioned Noel Vermillion.
  • Fate/stay night: Shirou is revealed to be a borderline case in the Unlimited Blade Works scenario, due to losing his self-perception in a childhood trauma. He has no real desires or goals of his own, instead latching onto his savior's ideal of 'saving everybody', and is only able to feel happiness when someone else is happy. He also uses this lack of self as both the concept and fuel for his Reality Marble...An empty field, surrounded by flames, with only himself and an infinite number of weapons
    • It Gets Worse in Heaven's Feel. After receiving Archer's arm, he can use it to greatly enhance his power, but each time he does so, his body is warped into a physical embodiment of his Reality Marble...turning his body into steel, and erasing his mind. If he does this too much, he is reduced to a mindless automaton, his body pierced from the inside by all an infinite number of swords that creak and moan with every step, and the only thing left of his personality is the single-minded desire to save the woman he loves. he does so, and he simply...stops.
  • In Tsukihime, Akiha ends up like this in her Normal Ending.
  • Mass Effect: The Reapers control their victims through a process called indoctrination. Prolonged exposure to Reapers or certain Reaper artifacts Mind Rapes you, eroding your brain until you are a perfect servant of the Reapers, incapable of doing anything the Reapers haven't told you to do. Victims are used as sleeper agents or turned into Husks. Ultimately, they are abandoned to starve when the Reapers return to dark space or repurposed as a slave race. The Collectors are Protheans turned into a slave race.
  • This is what happens to Beatrice as a result of the end of Ep4 in Umineko no Naku Koro ni. It isn't until the beginning of Ep5 that we actually see the effects, though. Basically, she is incapable of doing anything by herself and sits there with a lifeless expression on her face for a good chunk of the game. Massive Ship Teasing ensued.
  • The Tranquil from Dragon Age: Origins. If mage apprentices are too afraid to go through the Harrowing, the final test to see if they are worthy of becoming full-fledged Circle mages, they can instead choose to have their connection to the Fade severed. This removes their ability to perform magic and along with it any threat they might pose due to uncontrolled magic. Since the Fade is the realm of dreams and spirit the process also robs the Tranquil of their ability to feel. They can't even feel fear when the Circle is overrun by Abominations; though one does mention that he would prefer not to die. That's the closest thing to an emotion that any Tranquil expresses in the game.
    • If you speak with Owain during the mage origin, however, he argues (well, states) that Tranquil are closer really to The Spock. In his own words, he does not currently believe that being incapable of emotion lessens his worth as a human being, and even though he has no drives or ambition any more he isn't incapable of acting on his own.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, this is what happens to humans who fall victim to Zelenin's song, becoming unable to do anything but praise God mindlessly. In the Lawful route, this is the fate of all of mankind (or, at least, those who aren't destroyed by the Schwarzwelt wave for not being "worthy" enough): singing God's praises for all eternity, in perfect and absolute harmony, with no emotion, no conflict, no creativity, and no life.
  • The end result of being a Zuul captive in Sword of the Stars. The Zuul systematically Mind Rape their victims with their Psychic Powers, ripping their knowledge, memories, thoughts, and eventually their very identities from the victims' minds and leaving them catatonic husks. Even partial exposure is often enough to cause either this trope or simply turning into a gibbering wreck with all of their memories and knowledge jumbled up and full of holes.
  • In the bad ending of Shadow Hearts Covenant, Yuri ends up like this as a result of the Mistletoe curse finally devouring his soul and his memories. He is taken under Roger's care after that.
  • Starcraft: The victims of the Terran Dominion's neural resocialization, a brainwashing process to create new soldiers, would be considered this, or at the least Extreme Doormats. According to the wiki, the minds of a resocialized person are described by telepaths as being "fuzzy" and lacking the depth of personality found in ordinary humans, possess little to no initiative, and will shift loyalties if their commander does so as well.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The entire crew of Darth Nihilus' flagship, The Ravager are like this from having their life energy, willpower and sense of self drained by Nihilus' presence. They are incapable of individual thought, speech or anything outside of their task on board the ship, which they perform like lifeless mechanical drones. On board the ship, your character encounters Colonel Tobin, the Smug Snake who shot down your freighter earlier in the game, this time as an eerie, zombie-like man at the edge of his sanity, just from being on Nihilus' ship for a few days.
  • Alice: Madness Returns has Dr. Bumby creating children out of this for prostitution.
  • Oichi in the third game of the Sengoku Basara series verges between this and Extreme Doormat. Her mind appears to be mostly gone as she speaks entirely in Ironic Nursery Tunes and Word Salad which makes her sound like she's asleep, she has no opinions or drives any more apart from what she picks up from others, and she seems mostly unaware of her surroundings. If it hadn't been for the demonic hands dragging her body along like a puppet, she probably wouldn't even be mobile.
  • The Twins in Nie R are claimed to be this, being soulless automatons, though given their rather emotional final moments, it's probably not true.
  • From the Touhou series we have Koishi Komeiji, a member of the mind-reading satori species. Having grown tired of the resentment people felt towards her, Koishi closed her mind-reading third eye, which had the unintended side-effect of sealing away her own conscious mind. Completely devoid of thought or emotion, she now spends her time wandering around in a trance-like stupor, acting on whatever unconscious impulse happens to strike her at the time.
  • In Baten Kaitos Origins, talking to NPCs in Tarazed reveals that the trauma of losing your wings can lead to this.
  • Maiev in World of Warcraft claims to have become this after the death of Illidan because, as Illidan put it, the huntress is nothing without the hunt.
  • In Dark Souls Undead that have lost all their humanity turn into mindless hollows, which usually come in two flavors; Ax Crazy or huddled in a corner crying. This is also the fate of Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight after a thousand years of burning alive in the Kiln.

Webcomics / Web Original

  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, if a fae actually biologically has a child with any non-fae, the result is an empty husk that dies on their 21st birthday. This is because there can only be a certain number of fae at any one time, and to make a new fae an old one must decide to die.
  • Recently, Nessiah has been like this in Dept Heaven Apocrypha. It's not the straightest example, as the state was intentionally induced through a heavy cocktail of sedatives; the idea being that his massive mental trauma can only be repaired by slowly nursing him back to sanity as the drugs wear off.
  • Such is the fate of anyone who touches and then releases SCP-963. (Hanging onto the amulet just turns you into Dr. Bright.)
  • The children in Shell become "empty little egg shells" when they see the Eldritch Abomination.
  • In El Goonish Shive, possession by a body snatcher aberration seems to result in the original person becoming this.
  • In M.C.A. Hogarth's Jokka stories, this is the inevitable fate of females. Jokka males and females risk "Mind Death" if they become overheated or stressed, losing all ability to reason. Males can avoid this by taking care to avoid pushing themselves, females can't avoid the stress of childbirth however. Every birth runs increasing risk of inducing further senility for the mother, until their mind is completely gone.
  • The Nostalgia Critic's Heroic BSODs are frequently going into this territory more and more as time goes on. He always manages to crawl his way out of it so he can continue life, but the implications are nasty considering how Hot-Blooded he usually is.

Western Animation

  • Zombunny of an early 1990s TV show Dr. Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop is a zombified rabbit who never seems to move. None the less, this has never stopped Dr. Zitbag from using Zombunny to mind the pet shop, baby sit, or perform other tasks he's clearly incapable of performing. The running gag is that Zombunny always manages to succeed through the power of doing nothing.
  • The alternate universe of the Justice Lords in Justice League has Well-Intentioned Extremist Superman using his heat vision to perform crude lobotomies on Batman's most dangerous criminals and, now barely above mindless zombies, placed in Arkham Asylums. It's truly disconcerting when the group meet the lobotomized Joker in an abnormally calm and docile state but heartbreaking when the Flash happens to encounter the lobotomized version of Poison Ivy, who now has no signs of her former ambitions and no longer cares what happens to the world and its plants. Even though they were villains, the ruthless lengths the alternate Superman was willing to go through to maintain order places him squarely in Moral Event Horizon territory (if he hadn't already crossed it in his first appearance already).
    • This was what apparently happened to Gorilla Grodd in his first appearance after Flash "crossed a few wires" in his mind control helmet and tricked him into using it. This fried his brain and turns him into a brain dead vegetable. But Grodd not only recovered from this, but no longer needed the helmet to control minds.
    • Dr. Destiny also ended up like this after overdosing on sleeping medicine and overexposure to the dream machine. In his last appearance in the show, he is lying in Blackgate's hospital, comatose with his eyes open and humming "Frere Jaques".
  • In Drawn Together, Spanky Ham justifies his and his housemates' killing of the staff of Entertainment Weekly by stating that working in cubicles has made them already "dead inside".

Real Life

  • Curiously averted in the concept of a philosophical zombie, a creature in a thought experiment that has no soul/mind/internal experience but acts exactly as if it does, eg. exactly like a person. See also: Zombies: The Movie.
  • Some portrayals show modern office settings as this, essentially people becoming cogs in the machine and slowly losing emotion in their lives. Whether or not this is accurate is up to the individual.
  • Prisoners can become like this after long periods of solitary confinement.
  • Severe cases of Broken Birds can end up as this.
  • There are two types of Wild Children or feral kids: those who have lived isolated from human contact brought up by animals and those who live in complete isolation due to Abusive Parents. This becomes a major Tear Jerker because unlike the former, who at least have the care and attention of animals to keep them company, the latter are completely and totally isolated from any form of contact whatsoever, causing them to become severally developmentally disabled and withdraw into themselves. A particularly bad case was Dani, a young girl who was locked in her room and deprived of human interaction for the first 7 years of her life, wallowing in her own feces and with only cockroaches for company. When finally rescued by child services, she had a perpetual Thousand-Yard Stare, did not react to heat or cold or even pain, didn't respond to hugs or affection, and couldn't even use her hands. Although she is improving from her care, it makes one wonder how such neglect of basic needs can deprive the part of makes people human.
  • If you lie in the bed, in dark, silence and deprived of any other stimulus for long enough, you can lose your sense of self.
  1. The real one, that is.