Human Resources

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Extracting resources from the bodies of living, dead, or dying people. "Extracting resources" is usually as visceral as taking organs from the living, though sometimes as vague as harvesting "bioelectrical energy". It is common for the bodily integrity of the donor/victim/walking resourcebag to be transgressed: there is a strong horror theme. There are a few exceptions, such as reclaiming water from the dead in Dune, which is played as a religious and cultural practice.

Sometimes a particular group is preyed upon; criminals, the homeless, and disposable sex workers are popular for this. Cannibalism is a special subtrope, as are some varieties of People Farms. Thematically allied with Powered by a Forsaken Child. Organ Theft is a prominent subtrope, as is You Are Who You Eat. See also To Serve Man. Compare Creepy Souvenir, when folks take body parts as trophies. Genuine Human Hide is a subtrope that refers to the use of human skin (usually but not always as clothing).

This does not refer to the HR department, or more specifically, unflattering portrayals thereof. For that, see Inhuman Resources. This can be a type of Living Battery.

Examples of Human Resources include:

Anime and Manga

  • It is implied in Macross Frontier that the dead are recycled for their organic biomass. This would be understandable since the show takes place on a colony ship, where resources are non-renewable. However, this seems to only apply to civilians. Military personnel are exempt and are given a more conventional burial.
    • On top of this, the Macross universe had Earth get bombarded by particle weapons which resulted in the near-extinction of the human race and the apparent loss of a huge amount of biomass to judge by the color of the planet seen from space. At this point, fifty years later, recycling everything seems to be as much an accepted fact of life as indoor plumbing is today.
  • Kaiba has the utopian planet of Apiba. As the planet serves as a massive body trading zone, the countless discarded bodies are collected and converted into free food.
  • In Cannon God Exaxxion, the corpses of dissenters against the Alien Invasion are carted off to processing plants to be converted into either raw biomass for industrial bioengineering or food.
  • The Big Bad of the manga Uzumaki is an enormous ancient city. Though alive, its only instinct is to continually grow bigger, and it finds absorbing humans to be the best way to do so. Later in the manga, once people begin to turn into snails, they quickly end up as a food supply for the other survivors.
  • In Sentou Yousei Yukikaze Rei's Guy in Back ends up as a soup when the aliens realize he's the only organism around the base that a human can digest..
  • Witch Hunter Robin: Why do you think the Japanese branch captures witches alive rather than kill them? Hint: this Anti-Magic "orbo" stuff doesn't grow on trees...
  • One Piece has Warlord of the Sea Gecko Moria use his devil fruit power to remove shadows of people which then power his zombies.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist loves this trope. Not only are philosopher's stones people in both continuities, but the homunculi are also powered by people-rocks. In the end of the manga/Brotherhood, Father eats the souls of all the people in Amestris and then uses that power to eat God himself...until Hohenheim reveals that he's been derailing Father's plan for years and activates a countermeasure that rips all the Amestrian souls out of Father and restores them to their original bodies.
    • The anime one-ups this by revealing that all alchemy is powered by souls from an Alternate Universe (ours), shunted into Amestris through the Gate of Truth. The reason alchemy had been growing in potency lately was because our world was undergoing World War I at the time, providing the alchemists with lots of power.
  • Revealed as a major plot twist in Adieu Galaxy Express 999. It involves the literal nature of the Ghost Train (It transports recently dead people.) and the source of the energy capsules consumed by humanoid machines (Their bioenergy is extracted in a huge plant.).
  • The Big Bad in Vandread is Earth, coming to harvest all the colonies for replacement parts. Strangely enough, Earth isn't real efficient in their harvesting. Spines come from one world, skin from a different world, there's even planets to be harvested strictly for genitals.
  • In Nabari no Ou, the kinjutsushō Daya's ingredients include the brains of children.
  • The Hundred Eyes Clan in Maranosuke harvests the bodily fluids of girls via intense sex to create an immortality potion that basically reduces the victims to... it's not pretty. Those that haven't been entirely drained can somehow be modified into custom sex slaves by Zegenshi using basically the same process. The real kicker, while Zegenshi used it to make himself around 500, the Big Bad was already immortal and is just harvesting for the fun of it... and Mommy Issues.
  • In Mazinger Z, the Mooks used by Dr. Hell are cyborgs created using human corpses. He also used such methods to "recruit" Baron Ashura and Count Brocken.

Comic Books

  • The Marvel Adventures Spider-Man ran into this with his "smart-cloth" black outfit, which required to use the host's bioelectric energy to do its wearer's commands. Spidey ended up loaning to Reed Richards to analyze, but Johnny ends up letting it loose and it runs into a disgruntled thief named Eddie Brock and voila, the Marvel Adventures take on Venom is born.
  • In Judge Dredd the dead are recycled after the funeral services and processed into food.
  • In Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory, in Klarion's puritan underground town the dead are risen for workforce as "Grundys." And yes, they are indeed similar to Solomon Grundy.
  • In the New X-Men comic a group led by John Sublime calling themselves the U-Men do this in order to gain a mutants powers, although its rarely successful. Sublime was even revealed to have a massive facility in Hong Kong with hundreds of imprisoned mutants, many of them already missing numerous body parts.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, when Dr. Eggman lost the ability to roboticize Mobius' populace as his slaves, he invented the Egg Grapes to use their life force as a power source just like The Matrix.
    • Unlike The Matrix, however, it's also heavily implied that he didn't bother to try to nourish any of his prisoners in the Egg Grapes, just discarding the ones he "used up".
    • In the UK's Sonic the Comic, Robotnik's plot during the buildup to issue #100 involved connecting the Emerald Hill Folk to a machine to form a gigantic Wetware CPU.
  • In the Strikeforce: Morituri "Electric Undertow" limited series, it is revealed that the alien VXX199 are hiding behind the Earth's Moon, where they are secretly modifying humanity so they can induce spontaneous combustions and harvest the psychic energies released.
  • Vandal Savage, an immortal caveman from the DC Universe, has to claim the body parts of his descendants in order to live. These have included Roy Harper and his daughter, Scandal Savage. Eventually he consumes a clone of himself. Note that Lex Luthor claims Savage invented cannibalism... and means it.

Fan Works


  • "Soylent Green is people!"
  • The Danish black comedy The Green Butchers is about two butchers who start their own shop. When the new cooling unit is installed, the technician is accidentally trapped in the freezer over night. The next morning Svent find the frozen body, freaks out, and decides to hide the accident by cutting it up an selling it as chicken. When all the meat is sold, business slows down to a crawl, so Svent starts murdering people to keep his dream of his own shop alive.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes. As Sipsey has killed Frank Bennett on accident, Ruth and Idgie cut him into steaks and serve him to the customers in their restaurant to hide the homicide
  • The legend, musical and recent movie Sweeney Todd all center around the idea of two people using human meat to fuel a successful meat-pie business. [When Mrs. Lovett used animal or other miscellaneous meat, her business failed; only when Todd and she began using fresh flesh did she become successful.]
  • In the film Virus, an evil computer program from outer space has taken over a research ship and wants to dissect the human characters to use their muscles, nerves, and organs to help improve its cybernetic army. This leads to a grimly funny moment when one character asks the entity "what do you want from us?", and it responds with a simple readout of all the organic components it intends to harvest from them.
    • Something similar happens in Quake II, where the Strogg, the evil cyborg race with whom humanity is at war, use humans for meat and as a means to create more Strogg.
    • And again in Quake IV, where it happens to the player character in a nightmarish sequence. Wanna see?
  • The film The Black Hole also turned people into peoplebots.
  • In The Matrix the robots use humans as batteries! (And recycle the dead into nutrient solution to help feed the living).
  • It's not theft, it's repossession of financed goods due to contractual default. Therefore it's legalized in Repo! The Genetic Opera. But the real "Soylent Green" is the blue stuff; an addictive anesthetic used in the surgeries that remain in the body and is harvested from the dead for resale on the black market.

Zydrate comes in a little glass vial.
A little glass vial?
A little glass vial!

  • In the German horror flick Anatomy, dead bodies are recycled as anatomically correct medical displays.
    • Gunther von Hagens does that in Real Life (the exposition is called Body Worlds). His methods of acquiring bodies are more civilized, however. Or so he claims.
      • Done in America by Bodies: the Exhibition.
  • In 2004's War of the Worlds, the aliens use ground up human pulp as seed fertilizer/germination agent for their homeworld's fauna (the red weed). Before the movie is over, a good portion of New England is covered in it.
  • In Igor old Igors are recycled for parts at the end of their usefulness... or sometimes just because someone feels like it.
  • Tyler Durden in Fight Club collected human fat from the disposal bins behind a liposuction clinic, then used it to make expensive soap for rich ladies. Bonus points for fulfilling this trope, as the narrator lampshades the idea that the same women who paid to get rid of the fat would now pay him to return it.

Narrator: Tyler sold his soap to department stores at $20 a bar. Lord knows what they charged. It was beautiful. We were selling rich women their own fat asses back to them.

  • Waterworld does this. The bodies of the dead are dumped into nutrient vats, yellowish brine pools, as part of their burial ceremonies. They attempt to dunk the nameless Mariner in it when they discover he is a mut-o.
  • Funerals conducted in Theodore Rex involve the deceased having their bodies liquefied and used as fertilizer for the flowers. Mourners can take these flowers home, like taking a literal part of their loved one with them.
  • In the Tank Girl movie, there is a part where the antagonist kills someone and then uses a device to extract water from the corpse. He then drinks it.
  • In Motel Hell, various Farmer Vincent's products are made of human meat.
  • In The Island, it's revealed that the "survivors" who are being groomed to repopulate the titular Island are really the clones of rich and famous people, used for organ donations and giving birth.
  • The 1990 film I Come in Peace / Dark Angel is about an extraterrestrial drug dealer who extracts endorphins from human brains, to be sold on his home planet as an addictive substance.
  • In Daybreakers, the mostly-vampire population uses vast "farms" of humans as their main blood supply.
    • In Blade Trinity the vamps have the same idea.
  • Hellraiser: the Lamont Configuration was invented by Philip LeMarchand, a French toymaker turned mass-murderer who used the bones, fat, and organs of his victims to build the notorious devices.
  • Arguably in Gamer where people derive pleasure by controlling others in twisted versions of The Sims and an FPS with real guns.
  • In Escape From L.A., the Beverly Hills area is inhabited by a group of freaks who, due to undergoing too much plastic surgery, must regularly kidnap prisoners and harvest them for body parts in order to keep themselves alive. Snake very nearly ends up becoming one of their next victims.
    • Bonus points for the "Surgeon General" being played by Bruce Campbell.
  • In Robots, it's heavily implied that the upgrades sold by the Corrupt Corporate Executive's company are made from the corpses of robots too poor to afford upgrades, smelted down by the Executive's mother, the film's Big Bad.
  • Clapet, the butcher in Delicatessen, recruits handymen who are eventually killed, butchered and sold to his tenants as cheap meat.
  • In Kuroshitsuji, young women are required to make the immortality drug. As a side effect, this process also produces a horrible poison that works as a chemical weapon.


  • Upton Sinclair book The Jungle. Sinclair's account of workers falling into rendering tanks and being ground, along with animal parts, into "Durham's Pure Leaf Lard".
  • House of the Scorpion people clone themselves so when needed, they can kill the clones and use their organs to extend their lives. One of the central characters lives to be 148 through this method.
  • Implied in The Man in the High Castle.
  • In Frank Herbert's Dune series, Fremen reclaimed the water from dead bodies in something called the "death still". Somewhat justified because of the extreme scarcity and value of water on Arrakis. And then the Bene Tleilax, who have a tendency toward this sort of thing. Probably the best example would be the “bi-Ixians”. And the Axlotl Tanks, truck-sized bioreactors used for growing Gholas and Spice, but which are actually the female Tleilaxu. All the female Tleilaxu.
    • In other novels, the deathstill is used as a very painful execution device. This is how Bronso of Ix (AKA Bronso Vernius) is executed for doing exactly what Paul asked him to.
    • While it's generally acceptable practice for the Fremen to kill anyone caught alone in the desert (i.e. someone who would die anyway), especially without a stillsuit, deliberately attacking other sietches or groups of Fremen for their water is considered so heinous that their water is poured into the desert for fear of being contaminated.
  • The Igors from Discworld harvest their dead for spare parts, with some body parts being handed down from generation to generation (When they say, "He's got his father's eyes," they're not being metaphorical). Also, they offer their services as surgeons to villages on the condition that they can harvest the villagers' body parts once they die of natural causes. A village can refuse to let the Igors collect on their payment, but then they'll never offer their services to that village again. "What goeth around, cometh around. And thometimeth, it thtopth."
    • "The glath clock? My grandfather built it with thethe very hands!" And that was when Jeremy noticed the stitches going around Igor's wrist...
    • There are several Discworld-series cases of Troll Resources, as these silicon-based folks' diamond teeth are quite valuable. In Soul Music, Cliff covers most of the expenses of the Band With Rocks In out of his own mouth, and Cohen the Barbarian's din-chewers were crafted from troll teeth in The Light Fantastic. Even the non-diamond parts of a troll can be broken up for rockeries and gravel.
      • This makes the long-standing feud between Dwarfs and trolls very sensible. One species enjoys searching for valuable minerals, the other is made out of valuable minerals ...
  • Brave New World featured factories which would harvest all the useful parts of a body. Children were taught that death was acceptable and even good (the hospitals had the best toys and gave out candy when someone bit the dust), so long as society as a whole continued, so that no one was mortified that human beings were being scrapped for parts like old cars.
  • Early in the chronology of Larry Niven's Known Space universe, the success of organ transplanting leads to the death penalty being invoked for the most trivial of crimes (in one early story, the main character is sentenced to death by organ removal for jaywalking). The rich and powerful can literally have their pick from vast vats of organs. Particularly seen in the novel A Gift From Earth, where the threat of this form of punishment is used by a tyrannical minority to keep the workers in check, and covers up a message from Earth detailing how to create artificial organs, since this would destroy their power structure.
  • Clone troopers fall under this in the most literal sense, being designed and trained to be sent to fight and die in the Grand Army of the Republic. A novel in the Star Wars Expanded Universe mentions "recycling tanks" for those who are brought back from the battlefield dead, dying, or alive but not so well that they can recover easily/fast/cheaply. A surgeon, who is later horrified by how dismissive he was of them as people, idly remarks to himself that clone organ transplants are easy, with hardly any rejection. Poor bastards.
    • Also in the Star Wars Expanded Universe , it is mentioned that the Sand People stick straws into the bodies of dead people they find in the desert, and suck out their body fluids. Well, it's not like they're gonna need them, is it?
  • In the Riverworld series, every human being since the Pleistocene is reincarnated on an alien planet, on which they are the only animal life. While food is provided, lack of raw materials means that by the second book, human skin comes into widespread use as the only available leather.
    • It should be noted, however, that when someone dies on Riverworld, they are reincarnated elsewhere the next morning. This makes the reuse of their old bodies slightly less ghoulish.
  • In Laura Mixon's Burning the Ice, corpses are recycled into the artificial food source called mana and eaten in a ceremony honoring the dead. The colonists live on an icy moon of a gas giant planet so everything has to be recycled for them to survive.
  • Norman Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron has as its main plot point an experimental immortality treatment made by subjecting children to massive amounts of radiation and then harvesting their endocrine system for a transplant. To boost Aesoptinium levels, the majority of the kids being harvested were bought outright from impoverished black families.
  • As shown in Harry Potter, many of Voldemort's victims ended up being tossed in an underground lake and turned into Inferi (undead) to guard one of his Horcruxes.
  • In some of George R. R. Martin's science fiction stories, there's a profession called a "corpse handler". What they do is control a number of human corpses linked together by bionic technology and use them to perform manual labor (forest clearing, construction, and the like).
  • The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain contains a joke about the Egyptians burning mummies for steam train fuel. Unfortunately the story has been taken as true, right up to the present day. "D--n these plebeians, they don't burn worth a cent--pass out a King!"
  • In the Necroscope series by Brian Lumley on the world where vampiric beings originated, the various Whamphryi overlords/ladies would stage raids on the human population to collect resources for the "provisioning". They would take captured people and mix them with their own metamorphic flesh, turning them into anything ranging from battle mounts capable of flight to living plumbing systems to pipe water throughout their tower-like homes. It was mentioned in one book how they would even grow stairways for their towers out of the bones and cartilage of hapless captured people, or any underling who manged to displease them enough.
  • In the book The Time Traveler's Wife, Claire asks Henry, a Librarian, if the rumor that his library has a rare book that was bound in human skin is true, and he says yes. This opens things up for a great line later, when a fellow librarian tells Henry that his boss wants to see him, and that the boss "looks like he wants to rebind The Chronicles of Nawat Wuzeer Hyderabed."
  • The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams features the main character enjoying some pixie dust. Given that he's an aging rocker, this isn't so unusual, but he's later reminded that he's in a reality where there are actual pixies.
    • Another example involves how the fairies Magitek works- they used to power it with belief, but since humans have become less superstitious while the energy needs of fairy society have gone up, that's no longer feasible. The new energy source involves leeching magic from living, usually lower-class, fairies, usually against their will. Though normally not fatal, the process leaves the victims burned out shells who are sickly, magic-less, and frequently insane.
  • In the Deathstalker series Valentine Wolfe used this at one point. He harvested certain chemicals from the bodies of humans razed when the Empress burned Owen's homeworld. He then used these to produce a highly-addictive drug. As a final measure of getting the most out of the resources available, he then served his colleagues the meat not used in the process.
    • Of course, he's not the only one to use this. The Empress had specially-contained human brains used to disrupt psionic powers and one of the main characters started the series as an organ runner.
  • In The Laundry Series, the Laundry converts dead employees (among others) into zombie night watchmen. In classic goverment-speak, their Human Resources department refer to them as Residual Human Resources, or RCRs.
  • In the Ursula K. Le Guin short story "Paradises Lost", when people die their bodies are taken to the "Life Centre" for "recycling". The story takes place on a generation ship where all resources must continually be recycled for everyone to survive, so it makes perfect sense.
  • In the Biofab War space opera by Stephen Ames Berry, 'mindslavers' are starships that use the harvested brains of living humans as biological computers. This is reversible (assuming the body is retained), but usually involuntary and is considered a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Dinotopia has a dinosaur version of this, although it's voluntary. Dying saurians travel into the rainy basin to give their bodies to the carnivores for food. There are similar caravans of mammals that go into the Forbidden Mountains for the same reason.
  • In Animorphs, there's an alien version. Ax tells the group of a race called The Five that harvested a race called the Venber for lubricants. Their bodies melted when they got above a certain temperature. Eventually it lead to the Venbers' extinction.
    • There's also the brother of Visser Three, who kills humans to obtain other Yeerks to eat, so he doesn't have to return to the pool to feed.
  • In The Belgariad, it's mentioned that human skin is seldom used for writing evil books. But only because it's really bad at holding the ink.
  • In the Breaking the Wall trilogy, the Thirteen Orphans' each possess a Mahjong set that's passed down family lines, with tiles made from bone and bamboo. It is revealed in the second book that the bones came from the original Orphans, exiles from another world who wanted to keep the link to their homeland alive, strengthen the powers of their descendants, and also give their bodies a more portable form in the hopes that they could one day be returned to their homeland proper.

Live-Action TV

  • The clockwork robots in the Doctor Who episode "The Girl in the Fireplace" rebuilt the ship out of parts of the crew.
    • Also from "The Runaway Bride": "It was all there in the job title, the head of Human Resources."
    • Adipose: The fat just walks away.
    • The Dalek Emperor specifically extracted cells he deemed "worthy" from the humans he harvested and grew them into Dalek-Human hybrids.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Enterprise had a space station that recycled living brains to repair itself.
    • In "Fight or Flight" the crew find a starship whose murdered crew are being siphoned for their 'triglobulin' -- apparently used for medicines, vaccines, and even aphrodisiacs. Unfortunately triglobulin is very similar to human lymphatic fluid…
  • On an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the crew met another Starfleet crew in the same predicament they were, but were rapidly on their way back to Earth. Trouble was, they were using sentient beings as fuel. They weren't human, didn't even look humanoid but they screamed horribly when they were in pain.
  • In the TV movie that kicked off Lexx, the remains of the thousands of offenders executed under His Divine Shadow are chopped up and fed to the ever-hungry titular living spaceship.
    • The Lexx got the choicest morsels, the rest is donated to the "protein bank" along with all other 'spare' human parts and bodies. As well as a source of parts for cyborgs and presumably also replacement organs for the wealthy, the protein bank was being used to feed the Gigashadow, the last survivor of humanity's deadliest enemy, the Insects. In the final TV movie, the entire population of the League of 20,000 Planets was harvested for their flesh.
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, the 456 want 10% of our children to harvest drugs from them.
  • A short segment of Night Gallery featured a man whose business was getting passage out of the country for the most reprehensible murderous criminals. He did so by toasting his client's voyage and slipping him a mickey, then shipping him out of the canned dog food.
  • Subverted in an episode of Tales from the Crypt. A woman kills her husband and shoves him into a processor meant to make soap, then takes the soap home for use. The result proves to be dangerously acidic.
  • An episode of the new Twilight Zone presents a family moving to a neighborhood where the rebel teenage children are sent to a place which starts seeming some kind of camp or disciplinary place. In the end, however, it's revealed that the kids are turned into organic fertilizer and the parents are given a tree fertilized with their child as a memento.
  • In Being Human (UK), the vampires eventually try to control their hunger while they work on world domination by keeping a group of humans in the basement for slow drinking. Though the humans are promised that they won't lose much blood, it is gradually revealed that the people are getting sick from blood loss and that there were items left in the room from the first groups of people that were brought in... Thankfully, Anne promptly rescues everyone from the room after she meets the ghost of a man who died in the room.
  • In Dollhouse, the mysterious and sinister Attic turns out to be a place where those who have really offended the higher-ups are kept in a comatose state while their brains are used as living RAM by the Dollhouse mainframes.
  • Angel had an episode where humans were harvested for parts for transplant to rich people.


  • Child Ballad #10, "Twa Sisters": the body parts of the drowned girl are fashioned into a musical instrument, either a harp or a fiddle. The song is covered by Loreena McKennitt in "Bonny Swan".

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • The "Hand of Glory" was the severed hand of an executed criminal, clutching a candle, which gave a light only the Hand's holder could see. Supposedly it was a useful tool for medieval housebreakers, who could rob a house after dark without its illumination alerting residents or neighbors.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons: flesh golems. It's worse in Ravenloft (creators usually are driven by obsessive insanity, while golems, no matter how innocent they start out, sooner or later become Axe Crazy), but otherwise it's merely a very unappetizing variant which is still considered better than Undead. Ravenloft's Hands of Glory and the Eye of Vecna are also examples.
    • Similar to the Biofab War example, certain ships in the Spelljammer setting use a sadistic variation of the typical spelljamming helm called a lifejammer. Instead of a spellcaster fueling the ship with his or her magical power, lifejammers are powered by the life force of whichever poor victim gets strapped into the helm. Neogi slavers are fond of using them, as are the undead, and their use is banned in pretty much every civilized region of wildspace.
  • A running joke in Warhammer 40,000 is that the only resource the Imperium of Man is not short on is people.
    • To the point where an infamously ruthless general forced his armies across minefields to clear then for his tanks.
    • Commander Chenkov once ordered for a wall to be built to protect against his enemies. When the men informed him there wasn't enough mortar and bricks, he ordered them to start shooting his own men, and made a wall out of their corpses.
    • Servitors, which the Imperium uses in place of robots for heavy lifting and menial labor, are created by lobotomizing a human and grafting them into the machine they are to control. Robots and true AI have been banned by the Imperium due to religious reasons caused by an AI/Human War in the remote past. This war is also implied to be one of the foremost reason of the Dark Age of Technology end.
    • And let's not forget Soylens Viridians.
      • Which in some novels is outright called "corpse starch".
    • Also, juvenat treatments (chemicals that stave off aging and increase life expectancy by hundreds if not thousands of years) are implied to be made out of children.
      • Cite Source?
    • The Medusa V campaign ended with the Dark Eldar capturing enough human slaves to use them as starship fuel.
    • On top of all this, the Imperium uses psykers to power the Astronomican that guides its ships through the Warp and the Golden Throne that keeps the Emperor alive. An average of ten thousand burn out and die every day.
      • The Throne has been described as having pyskers physically fed into it - at least the Astronomican "only" burns out minds...
      • Oh yes, we don't want to know what happens to the bodies of all the psykers that are dragged into Emperors Chamber every day. It won't smell good, I think.
    • The Tyranid top them by attacking with their Cannon Fodder troops to cause the enemy to waste ammunition before the real attack starts, since they'll just lap up those troops' biomass (biomass being anything organic) to make more later, then eat up the enemy's. Said troops don't even have a digestive system! They're supposed to get wiped out.
  • In Paranoia Alpha Complex's main food source is from algae tanks which are in part fed by recycled citizens.
  • In the New World of Darkness Immortals sourcebook, the Patchwork People are Corrupt Corporate Executives and evil aristocrats who maintain their immortality by thieving organs and hormone extracts from innocent victims.
  • Kind of an everpresent problem in Genius: The Transgression.


  • Macbeth; ingredients in the Weird Sister's recipe include "Nose of Turk", "Tartar's Lips", "Liver of a blasphemous Jew", and "finger of a birth-strangled babe".

Video Games

  • The recycling tanks in Alpha Centauri are implied to be for this purpose.
  • In Front Mission for Super Famicom the main villain uses the heroes girlfriend's brain as a computer for his mech. You can eventually install "her" into your own wanzer.
  • In the game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, you can gain funds by sending infantry back into the Cloning Vats. In the add-on game Yuri's Revenge, the antagonist faction has a building specifically for this purpose, called a Grinder.
    • The Grinder returns as a Soviet structure in Red Alert 3. If you're feeling more charitable, the Grinder can also repair units.
    • Red Alert 2's editable INI files refer to the recycle-value of a unit as "soylent", in a fun bit of referential humor.
    • Yuri's power plants could also improve their output if a soldier (One of Yuri's army or a mind-controlled enemy) was forced inside.
      • ... but that's a temporary boost. The soldiers can leave the power plants again.
  • In another game of the same series, Command & Conquer Tiberium Wars, a NOD unit called the Avatar Warmech can be substancially powered up by having it literally ripping the parts out of another NOD vehicle, destroying it. Luckily, if your opponent is NOD as well, you can just sacrifice their vehicles. A fully upgraded Avatar can detect stealth (by sacrificing an Attack Bike), shoot flames from it's shoulders (Flame Tank), have an attitional beam attack (Beam Cannon), and is stealthed (Stealth Tank).
  • In Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, the undead can store corpses to be eaten or resurrected for later use. Of course, they are undead.
    • Let's not forget the Meat Wagon, their siege weapon, which throws bodies as ammunition. Luckily, these corpses spawn from thin air and you don't have to collect any for that purpose.
    • In addition, the undead in World of Warcraft have the racial ability "Cannibalize" which allows them to regain health by eating a corpse.
      • A few undead units in Warcraft III have this ability too.
      • The Death Knight class introduced in the second expansion has the ability to raise a humanoid corpse as a temporary pet for a few minutes or as a lifelong companion if enough points are put into the proper talent tree.
      • Including allies. Word of caution: some people really don't like it.
      • Update: Death Knights have apparently gotten better at it, because their "Raise Ally" button is now a full battle resurrection.
  • Supreme Commander and Total Annihilation are just about robots, but they have harvesting wrecks (or immobile enemy structures or your own units) for resources.
  • Zerg Defilers in StarCraft consume friendly units to regain special ability energy. So does Kerrigan. But then, she is the Queen Bitch of the Universe.
    • And Samir Duran as well. But then, he is, well... whatever the hell he is.
  • The Hierarchy in Universe at War: Earth Assault, intentionally designed to perpetuate every single Alien Invasion sci-fi cliche in the last sixty years, gathers resources with walkers that can harvest buildings, cars, wrecks, cows and people.
  • The recycling tanks in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. The supplementary materials implies that it's mostly the carbon and water that's being recycled, the two being rarities in the heavily nitrated soil and atmosphere of Planet.
"It is every citizen's final duty to go into the Tanks, and become one with all of the people."
—Chairman Sheng-Ji Yang, 'Essays on Mind and Matter'
  • Exspheres in Tales of Symphonia.
  • Star Control II does this with the Druuge, whose Mauler ship has a ridiculously low recharge rate for its weapon. Luckily, the Druuge keep all their crewmates conveniently close to the engine intake.
    • The game tends to objectify life in general: your ship's life units are its crew members, and if they die, it's no problem for you as long as you have enough Resource Units to buy more. Moreover, you collect Resource Units after winning a battle by scavenging minerals from the enemy ship's wreckage. It seems as though a planet's inhabitants are sacred, but once those inhabitants are aboard a ship, they are expendable—but that's war, come to think of it.
    • Actually, if you use lose a lot of crew members, the price for crew members goes up. Same happens if you sell too many of them to the Druuge as slaves. Of course, there is a optional sidequest where you can save the Shofixti race, who have ridiculously fast reproduction rate, thus creating an effectively endless pool of volunteer, bushido-following, loyal and eager to sacrifice themselves for you recruits, resulting your crew cost to be reduced to lowest possible.
  • The Combine of Half-Life 2 have a lot of this, most notably the stalkers.
  • Harvesting humans to turn into goofy robots was the primary purpose of the giant sphinctership in Prey.
  • The Adam economy of Rapture, from BioShock (series), is built on this. First, the Adam (a valuable genetic commodity/drug) is made in the bodies of modified little girls grafted to an outright miraculous sea slug. These self-same little girls are set loose to gather Adam from the bodies of dead splicers. Not to mention that the monstrous Big Daddies that protect them are extremely bio-modded humans in armored diving suits.
    • It's implied within the game that the Big Daddies are actually created out of out-of-work and down-on-their-luck folks. There are signs about an orphanage and a halfway house right near where the Little Sisters and Big Daddies are created.
  • In the video game Xenogears it is eventually revealed that the human race (of the game's world) was created by a cyborg computer to be eventually used as spare parts!
    • At one point Fei, Citan, and Elly discover that when in Solaris, one should not eat the food. Ironically they discover this in the food plant itself. Fei and Elly break open a few barrels at the end of the production line to appease their growling guts. They even comment on how good it tastes. Citan refrains, but lets them eat anyway. The characters then walk into the next part of the plant, and well... you can imagine what happens next.
  • Fallout starts with 'Iguana' Bob, whose stores tend to include a slight bit of long pig when the iguana is low. Fallout 3 also includes the people of Arefu potentially giving blood to the Family in exchange for protection or being left alone, and the children of Little Lamplight, who are only able to survive thanks to the radiation-cleansing properties of a specific fungus that suddenly flourished after having all the dead adults dropped into it. The Little Lamplighters continue to provide nourishment for said fungus. The player character in Fallout 3 can also sell human blood and... ahem... strange meat to some of the above groups, although not usually producing it himself or herself.
    • Not to mention the Cannibal perk, which lets you eat corpses and people you kill. Rather nutritious, too. Just don't let others know of your disgusting habits.
    • And then there's the cozy little town of Andale...
  • In Quake II and Quake IV, the Strogg use the bodies of humans to increase their ranks, to break down into Stroyent, and to power their machinery, amongst other things. Your first encounter with this rather nasty aspect of the Strogg is the second objective of the fifth mission of Quake II, which has you shutting down an alien processing plant. In Enemy Territory Quake Wars Strogg technicians can convert fallen GDF sodiers into single use respawn points for Strogg players.
    • It is also implied that the Strogg that are not made from humans are made from other alien races the Strogg have conquered.
  • Dwarf Fortress allows you to make crossbow bolts from the bones of your enemies. Creative modding also allows you to butcher captured and / or fallen enemies for food and other by-products.
  • In System Shock 2, the Many, early on, connect worms to humans to change them into Hybrids. Later, having gained control of the Von Braun, they start converting people into their raw components and building new creatures out of the biomass.
  • Near the end of Magical Starsign, you learn the robots are powered by gummies made from humans. The humans forming the gummies are all that's left of the Espresso civilization, and when they run out, every robot will turn against every civilization in order to make more. Mood Whiplash indeed!
  • Humans are this to the Reapers in Mass Effect, but it's not clear exactly how, since the Reapers go on about how you couldn't possibly understand. The game hints that the husks might have something to do with though. Likewise the Collectors in Mass Effect: Ascension, who may or may not be the same group as the Reapers (they're never seen and nobody knows anything concrete about them).
    • In Mass Effect 2, it turns out that Reapers are constructed from a combination of mechanical components and the liquefied and processed bodies of organics, making them strange cybernetic organisms.
    • Mordin's loyalty mission has him and Shepard discussing the use of live test subjects (human and otherwise) in medical research. Mordin states that humans make excellent test subjects for such projects due to their greater genetic diversity compared to most other species. However, he disapproves of such methods on moral grounds, saying that they have no place in real science.
  • In Unreal, the Mercenaries in the Terraniux hydroponics facility are either fleecing the Nali for fertiliser, or using them as fertiliser:

Translator Message: Greenhouse B: The Karkilys Zegnus need more fertiliser. Please dispatch a group of guards to inspect the Nali homes in Noork's Elbow.

  • The Flood from the Halo series starts out as a typical example of The Virus, infecting living beings and transforming them into Combat Forms. However, once it took over the population of the Covenant holy city the Gravemind started producing Pure Forms - creatures built from scratch out of collected biomass.
  • The first Season of the Sam and Max games is about an alien Big Bad who extracts blissful emotion from humans.
    • In the Season 3 episode The Penal Zone, the arch-villain harvests moleman sweat (not exactly human, but still...) as condiments and rocket fuel. A escaped victim would later run in the streets, screaming a la the final scene of Soylent Green.
  • The player character in In Famous can pull energy from other people to fuel his powers. The game's MacGuffin does this on a much larger scale.
  • In Oiligarchy, you can eventually start processing people into biofuels once oil starts running out.
  • In the Codename: Kids Next Door game Operation: V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E, Father uses the bodies of all villains the team defeated to create the last boss, The Amalgamation.
  • Killing enemies with Damage Traps in Tecmo's Deception only makes them drop gold. However, if you successfully finish them with a Capture Trap, you have the choice of taking the gold off their corpse, sucking their soul out to restore your Mana Meter, or entombing their actual bodies to be used to create a monster for Summon Magic.
  • Breath of Fire II allows the option to save Ryu's father from a life-powered machine, only to have him volunteer to enter another later on... for the sole purpose of making your town fly. And this is after Nina's sister already irreversibly sacrificed herself to be a living airship.
  • Prototype is quite literally made of this. The plot revolves around a virus that warps and re-purposes human bodies for its own ends; the creatures Alex fights are grown from infected humans (which in concept art is depicted as packed-together human bodies, still somewhat alive, being gradually assimilated into the larval form of the creature); one boss fight is against a woman literally encased in human flesh, which she uses like a gigantic set of Power Armor; and Alex himself absorbs people to take their memories, appearances and mass to fuel his abilities, 'consuming' them alive.
  • In American McGee's Alice, the Hatter's clockwork inventons are fueled by insane children. Alice: Madness Returns uses them for the Infernal Train, as well.
  • Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds has human blood as a Martian resource.
  • In Final Fantasy Type-0, "Phantoma" can be absorbed from dead organic enemies (Including human soldiers). Absorbing Phantoma replenishes the character's MP, and collected Phantoma is used in the Altocrystarium to power up spells in multiple parameters (Strength, range, MP consumption, etc.)
  • The demons in Corruption of Champions strap people into chairs, inject drugs, corruptive fluids, and aphrodisiacs into them, and then milk them of their sexual fluids for the rest of their lives. This is a potential fate of the player character.
  • The main facility in The Last Guardian is kept powered by The kidnapped children taken by the creatures. They are swallowed whole, rendering them unconscious until they are regurgitated into chutes atop the main building

Visual Novels



Federov: ...I've just thought of a way to supplement a carbon and calcium supply after a natural disaster. Please say I'm wrong.
Central: There's been a distinct lack of televised funerals from the CAS, so sorry sir, I can't rule it out.


Web Original

  • In The Return as well as the Other White Meat, Succubae feed on human sexual energy. One of the markers of the "good guys" is that when they do it, their victims are still alive afterwards. Alexia's victims are not so lucky.

Western Animation


Homer: Marge, please, old people don't need companionship. They need to be isolated and studied so it can be determined what nutrients they have that might be extracted for our personal use.
Marge: Homer, would you please stop reading that Ross Perot pamphlet?

  • A nonlethal example in Ugly Americans, where the Gay Pride Parade powers the New York electric grid.
  • A rather painful and Squick-y example from Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The trees, upset at the way people have been treating them, puts Master Shake on trial; during the trial, they bring out Carl... and rip pieces of his skin right off his body to use as paper.
  • A season 2 episode of Metalocalypse reveals that the favorite sewing material of band's new fashion designer is "special leather". The final scene, which shows the room where he harvests this material, is so Squicky that even the band is horrified.

Real Life

  • There is actually a name for binding books in human skin, Anthropodermic bibliopegy.

Alleged Anthropodermic Books Identified: 49
Books Tested or In Process: 30
Books Confirmed as Human: 18
Books Proven to Be Not Human: 12

    • A copy of De humani corporis fabrica, bound in human skin was donated to a University.
  • There were widespread and persistent rumours about this during French Revolution, particularly human skin pants, human skin book binding (unsurprisingly including Droits de l’Homme) and a whole tannery busily specialising in this (there certainly was enough of raw material available to keep them busy).
  • Mary Roach's Stiff examines the various fates awaiting actual human remains, including dissection, vehicular crash-testing, being plastinated as a permanent anatomical display, or getting processed into cement for an artificial reef and/or fertilizer to sustain a memorial tree.
  • The organ donor system; you agree to it, then fall over dead, and some doctors cut all the useful bits out of you to use in someone else. Often it is illegal for the donor's family to profit by this; in some countries there is a small payment.
  • During WWII, when the Nazis gathered up Jews to take them to concentration camps, they first stripped them of all valuables and possessions and sold them. Then they pulled out any gold tooth fillings the might have had, melted them down into gold bars, and sold those as well. Then they used the healthy ones for slave labour in the camps until they were worked to death. Some camps processed the dead bodies into products, making cloth from their hair, fertilizer from their bones, lampshades from skin and soap by boiling them down for fat. The Holocaust museum at Auschwitz has some of the cloth. Reports of books bound in human skin, however, are probably false, although it was known to happen historically.
    • And then there's Joseph Mengele, who was quite happy to use prisoners in his "experiments".
    • Some Americans took "souvenirs" from the corpses of Japanese soldiers in WWII.
      • There's currently[when?] a war crimes tribunal about American soldiers who may have done this "souvenir collection" with Afghan civilians.
    • This type of souvenir collection isn't all that uncommon. Most of the time, when a soldier wants a trophy, he'll take something like a gun, or a hat, but every now and then there's someone who'd rather have an ear or a nose. War is a terrible thing, and it turns perfectly normal people into sociopaths.
      • Doubtful, they were probably already sociopaths and War simply gave them an enviroment to showcase it. It's al relative anyhow to whether you find it odd, creepy or absolutly savage.
    • There was something particularly dehumanizing about jungle warfare between opponents separated by the East/West cultural divide. Trophy-taking and corpse desecration were rampant on both sides in the Pacific Theater of WWII, and occurred again during the Vietnam War. In contrast, where US forces verified dozens of cases of US troops taking Japanese trophies, in the European theater the only verified case was of a single German corpse scalped by a Native American soldier.
  • McDonald's restaurants. Today, the tray liners display nutritional information. In the late 1980's, they had a picture of happy-looking employees with the caption, "People, our most important ingredient."
  • Israel had a practice in the 1990s of harvesting organs without relatives' permission from fallen Israeli soldiers and civilians, Palestinian insurgents and civilians, and foreign nationals.
  • A British 14-year old girl Charlene Downes was raped and murdered by 29 year old Iyad Albattikhi, owner of Funny Boyz fast food shop in Blackpool, UK. To hide his crime, Iyad Albattikhi ground her body into kebab and sold her as kebab meat to customers in his restaurant. Basically, a Real Life version of Sweeny Todd.
  • There was a report that Chinese "vitality pills" contained powder made from ground-up babies.