Haunted Fetter

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A subtrope of Host, and sibling to the Haunted House, a Haunted Fetter is an object that sympathetically binds a ghost to the world of the living. Typically, the item had some significance to the deceased in question before (s)he died. However, the item has to have once been owned or been in the presence of the deceased in order to become a fetter, else millions of ghosts would be fettered to a celebrity or a dream house in a foreign country.

Exceptions to the rule are when a necromancer binds a ghost to an item (sometimes called a "Soul Jar"), or an important loved one of the deceased puts specific emotional memories on a specific item that reminds them of the specific ghost.

What a ghost can usually do with a fetter is manipulate whoever touches or uses the item (even to the point of Demonic Possession), manifest through the item, telekinetically move the object, or use similar powers. The item will sometimes even become indestructible until the ghost is removed, as the dead use their powers to repair even the most unfixable damage. However, if the fetter is an actual person (quite rare), then it's more likely that the ghost cannot repair any damage done.

Can overlap with Haunted Technology.

Examples of Haunted Fetter include:

Anime and Manga

  • Mahou Sensei Negima has this in droves. Class 3-A's resident Cute Ghost Girl Sayo Aisaka's only initial fetter is Mahora Academy (she can't travel far outside the school). Later Kazumi Asakura, who has sat next to her for more than two years, serves as a fetter, a bit of a different sort. Finally, she is given a doll to possess, which lets her travel to the magical world as well as have a physical body to manipulate.


  • Tanith Lee's Kill the Dead. Ghosts have an item from their previous life that links them to this plane. If the item is damaged or destroyed the ghost is sent to its final destination.
  • The Ghost and the Gogglebox by Duncan Ball. A television is haunted by its previous owner, who got trapped inside after he died watching it.
  • The Discworld novel Sourcery begins with a wizard escaping death by binding his soul to his staff, which he continues to haunt and exert a baleful influence on the staff's next owner.

Live Action Television

  • In the television version of The Dresden Files Bob the Skull becomes the bound soul of Hrothbert of Bainbridge an evil sorceror and necromancer fettered for eternity to his own skull.
  • In The Vampire Diaries Elena's necklace is used by the Original Witch it once belonged to to give her a connection to the living world, and let her cast spells to further weaken the barrier between the world of the living and the dead.
  • Supernatural's version simply permits ghosts to continue not to cross over even after their remains are properly disposed of, so long as the treasured item (most effectively, with some of their DNA) remains.

Tabletop Games

  • Obviously used in Wraith: The Oblivion where destroying a fetter is one of the best ways to get rid of a ghost
    • Destroying all of a ghost's fetters will un-anchor them from reality causing them to be sucked into Oblivion, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Resolving said fetters (using the gun that killed the ghost as evidence to convict their murderer, for instance) will allow them to pass on to the true afterlife instead.
    • Geist: The Sin Eaters likewise has Anchors, which in some cases can be objects that a ghost can directly influence through its Numina. The Sin-Eaters also make good use of Fetters, objects created when a troublesome ghost is bound into its own Anchor. Use of a Fetter allows a Sin-Eater access to new power sources, as well as one of the ghost's Numina.
  • This is also used in Exalted. The Neverborn are the ghosts of dead Primordials, and all of Creation is their fetter. Their goal is to destroy Creation so they can fall into Oblivion, as the cycle of rebirth was never designed for Primordials (they never imagined that they could actually die.)


  • In the pc game Ghost Master, each ghost can only be assigned to certain types of fetters depending on what kind of haunter they are, e.g., electrical themed ghosts can be assigned to a microwave or refrigerator or the like.
  • Spirit Monks in Jade Empire could create these, but they didn't like to, finding it morally reprehensible. Emperor Sun Hai, after wiping out the Spirit Monks and stealing the Water Dragon's power, didn't have such qualms. For instance, Death's Hand is the spirit of his brother, bound into their other brother's armor.
  • In the Girls Love Visual Novel Akai Ito, the Ryugetsu is the fetter for Nozomi and Mikage. Destroying it might solve problem permanently in some routes. In other routes... let's say that it's just the beginning of the battle.
  • Arthas from Warcraft III and World of Warcraft, who has been corrupted by the sword Frostmourne which contains the spirit of the Lich King.