So, you've just managed to defeat the evil overlord, wizard, demon, dragon, whatever. Unfortunately, the bad guy is effectively immortal, and even though he won't be able to fight right now, it will just be a matter of time before he comes back. Worse, he's so strong that just sealing his power in some container won't do the job, nor will sealing him away inside an object. What to do? Let's take him apart, and seal him in multiple containers!
As the description implies, some evils are just too dangerous to leave in just one package, hoping it never gets opened. Instead, you should split it up and hide it in a dozen different containers to prevent it from ever becoming a threat again. Of course, if one piece does ever escape, it will definitely try to gather the rest of itself to regain it's full power, so it can once again become the Big Bad it once was, but if it's power is diminished enough, it's rarely a threat to anyone.
A subtrope to Sealed Evil in a Can, naturally.
- In Ronin Warriors, when the Big Bad was defeated in ancient times, his armor, the seat of most of his power, was converted into a set of 10 armors, so that if the Big Bad returned, he'd have a hard time getting them back together. Unfortunately, even without the armors, he was still absurdly powerful.
- The Kisin Asura in Soul Eater probably counts; he was sealed in a bag made of his own skin and his blood was drained and taken elsewhere to weaken him. Injecting the bag with black blood unseals him.
- Shabranigdo and his seven parts in Slayers.
- One Dragonball Z movie villain was a giant monster split in half and sealed. The heroes spent a part of the movie fighting the bottom half.
- In Umi Monogatari, Sedna has half of her in the sea and half on land.
- In Naruto, the Sage of Six Paths sealed the body of the Ten Tailed Beast in the Moon, and divided its power into nine tailed beasts that were subsequently sealed individually.
- The title character in Akira was dissected and placed in a series of vials. He came back in a more ethereal form.
- An in-universe fictional example is Exodia, a Yu-Gi-Oh! monster so powerful it takes multiple cards to contain him. The individual pieces are worthless, but a player who reassembles Exodia by getting all five parts in play wins immediately.
- In Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War, the fear entity Parallax is captured by the Guardians of the Universe and split into four pieces, each stored in the power batteries of the four Earth Lanterns.
- Imhotep in The Mummy 1999. He rises as soon as the spell on the sarcophagus is broken, but must recover the organs stored in his canopic jars before he can regain full power.
- In Mistborn, there's a rather complicated version of this with Ruin and Preservation.
- In Black Company, some legends claim that Kina is sealed in this way.
- The Judge in Buffy the Vampire Slayer could not be killed in ancient times, so instead he was cut into pieces and scattered in a number of boxes around the world. Cue modern times and Spike and Drusilla reassembling them.
- After Buffy blew him to Kingdom Come with a rocket launcher, he is now in thousands of little pieces; while it might be theoretically possible to reassemble him again, it is unlikely anyone will attempt to.
- Grandia II gave us Valmar, the Big Bad demon that was defeated in ancient times, and the pieces of it's body spread around the world and sealed away. Interestingly, each of the pieces has a mind of its own - none lay claim to being the original. The Church of Granas sends Elena on a quest to gather the pieces so they may be destroyed, though it turns out that Pope Zera, who has discovered that God Is Dead and believes that life has no meaning without him, actually wants to become the new Valmar himself so he can destroy the world.
- The infamous Kagnaxx in Baldurs Gate 2.
- Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time: The protagonists spend the game collecting several shards of the Cobalt Star. Only when they collect and put the pieces together do they realize that the star actually contained the leader of the invading aliens who was trapped inside by Princess Peach, and that by putting the star together, they release her.
- Castlevania II Simons Quest: After the first game, Dracula was defeated and his body was divided into five parts, which Simon Belmont must put together, to resurrect Dracula and kill him again.
- In Baten Kaitos, Malpercio would only be revived if the End Magnus of Ar, Le, He, Che and Bo were brought together. There's a bit of a hint when Bo is pronounced like Bah that there's something going on, and its later revealed that the names are short for Arms, Legs, Head, Chest and Body respectively.
- It's actually a subversion, though. Origins reveals the 5 are actually 5 separate, benevolent, people who, as a group, were known as Malpercio (after their childhood home). Connecting the 5 in Eternal Wings does make a nice vessel for the Dark Brethren who now own their bodies by way of Deal with the Devil.
- In Zack and Wiki Quest For Barbaros Treasure, Barbaros was split into many pieces of treasure; he is restored if every piece is gathered together. He was a near deity-level pirate captain; each treasure held one of his Combo-Platter Powers.
- The Bowerstone residents of Fable II sealed the body parts of their evil, ex-mayor Lady Gray in various locations around Albion. As an optional quest, the Hero can gather them in order to resurrect her. How evil her reanimated corpse really is, is up for debate though.
- The Big Bad in Dragon Quest VIII. His soul is sealed inside the Sceptre of Trodain, and requires the death of seven people to break. His body is sealed in the statue of the Goddess in Neos.
- A variant in Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor: Bel, the ruler of the demons, was sundered by God, but not technically "sealed" as such. Instead, the individual demons he was broken up into - all easily recognized by the syllable "Bel" in their names - have been fighting each other for supremacy, consuming each other in the process in the hopes of reconstituting the original Bel's power and ascending to the Throne of Bel. The Shomonkai exists to help Belberith, who they worship as "His Majesty," complete this goal so that he can destroy God and spare the world from His ordeal, not realizing that Belberith plans to slaughter humankind once he's done. The protagonist himself ends up a contender for the Throne of Bel when he defeats Beldr and inadvertently absorbs his powers - but then, it only makes sense, as he turns out to be the reincarnation of Abel.