The Assimilator

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"We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance Is Futile."
The Borg, Star Trek

There are villains that want your stuff, villains that want you to do what they want, villains that want you dead. This guy is nowhere near as wasteful. He wants what makes you you, and he wants it for himself.

When he beats you, he will take your abilities, your uniqueness, your everything and make them his own. He usually does this by literally absorbing or consuming you. But more than that, the whole reason he is fighting you is to get this stuff. The more he gets, the stronger he gets. The stronger he gets, the more people he gets. This is his motivation.

This trope is about the motivation (usually for villains). The article about the plot is Assimilation Plot, oddly enough. Sometimes overlaps with The Virus and/or All Your Powers Combined. Distinct from Power Copying as it requires death or injury to the other party. A form of Human Resources, assuming the victims started as human. Compare Cannibalism Superpower and Unwilling Roboticisation which describes methods for acomplishing this trope. The replacement by assimilation may be part of a plan to make things over In Their Own Image.

Examples of The Assimilator include:

Media in General[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Zombie Hordes tend to become more dangerous the more zombies are in them, so by zombifying humans they are essentially adding that human's strength to themselves.


Anime & Manga[edit | hide]

  • Szilard Quates of Baccano!! routinely absorbs other immortals to gain scientific knowledge, and just 'cause he's off his rocker. All immortals have this ability, supposedly so that immortals who have grown tired of living have a way to commit suicide, but Szilard's the only one who uses it without consent in anything other than the most desperate of circumstances, even going so far as to make people immortal just so that he can absorb them in this manner.
  • From Bleach, Aaroniero can devour dead hollows, gaining their strength and powers, unlike other Arrancar/Hollows who only gain strength.
  • B't Raphaello from Bt X, fits this to a T.
  • This was more or less the entire goal of Cell in Dragonball Z. He was created to consume humans, Saiyans, and the other androids to become the perfect fighter; every victim increased his energy and their cells were stored in him.

Mr. Popo: Okay, I'll bite, what the hell is this?
Blue Popo: Oh. Hello, my crass counterpart. I'm Blue Popo, and I...
Mr. Popo: No.
Blue Popo: Pardon?
Mr. Popo: Prepare to be assimilated.
Blue Popo: Whatever do you me... [black tentacles infiltrate his blue color] No! No! No! Kami!
Mr. Popo: [laughs]

  • Aptom of the Lost Numbers, from Guyver, starts out as a shapeshifter who pulls a variant of They Look Like Us Now by imitating Sho's super-powered form. He gets defeated, his TrueCompanions are killed by Sho, and he gets shipped back to the lab for more experiments. The experiments give him the power to merge with people's bodies, rip them apart at the cellular level, and gain their powers.
  • Naraku from Inuyasha absorbs other demons into himself to gain power. He tried it on both Sesshomaru and Koga, as well, but it didn't go so well. Minor demons like the generic snake thingies, on the other hand, get sucked up like spaghetti. It gets to the point where he actually has to start cutting some loose because some take up space without adding much to his strength.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: In a very rare heroic example, the mecha Lagann is capable of assimilating other mecha into itself, resulting in the titular mecha of the series in the finale, big enough to use galaxies as shuriken.
    • This initially appears to fail, as the Gurren just stabs into the cockpit of the Lagann and almost kills Kamina. It's only because of the Spiral Power of the pilots that it works later on.
  • Nrvnsqr (or Nero) Chaos is a vampire in Tsukihime whose main power is to incorporate the lifeforce of animals into his body, which is then made up of the chaos. He uses these animals to fight, and sends out progressively stronger and more legendary creatures as he his cornered by Nanaya Shiki.
  • Shin Getter has shades of this, as its massive Getter Ray reservoir allows it to fuse with pretty much anything - at one point it combines with a nuclear missile in mid-flight. Its implied evolution, the Getter Emperor, is a much more straight example, at one point absorbing a planet by flying into it.
  • In Naruto, several of the villains fit this, most notably Orochimaru and Kabuto.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The Makuta from Bionicle have the ability to absorb other beings to increase their mass.
  • Green Lantern has Agent Orange, who absorbs the form and memory of those he kills, allowing him to create duplicates of them as subordinates. Having become the living embodiment of Avarice, he desires to own everything, including the very identities of his enemies.
  • Recent promos for upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog issues state that the Iron Dominion will be "legionizing" our heroes. What that entails is thus far open to discussion, but considering this comes right off the heels of the Dark Legion (who are allied to the Iron Dominion) being installed with computer chips that allows the Dominion and their leader Lien-Da to mindlessly control them remotely (the former using Magitek), and, well... let's just say that there's room for one more Star Trek reference, in the comic.
    • Than there is Robotnik who uses animals as a power source for his robots.
      • When he's not turning them into robots.
    • Indeed there is; Turns out, victims of "legionization" are forcefully turned into Hollywood Cyborgs, which somehow makes them Brainwashed and Crazy as they're sent out to form new branches of the Dark Egg Legion. All they needed was a "Resistance Is Futile" speech to top it all off.
  • The Brood from X-Men reproduce this way, by injecting their eggs into unwilling hosts. This does not so much produce a juvenile hatchling as it does turn the unfortunate host into a Brood, which has all the memories and skills of its "parent".
    • The X-Men also have/had the Phalanx, who infected targets with a techno-organic virus and brought them into their machine-like hivemind.
  • Fittingly, an upcoming Star Trek crossover comic is about the two most notable sci-fi versions of this, the Borg and Cybermen, joining forces to do this.


Film[edit | hide]

  • The Master Control Program, Big Bad of Tron, appropriates other (sentient) computer programs to obtain their functions.
  • The entire modus operandi of the alien entity in The Thing.
  • The Immortals in the Highlander series absorb the skills and memories of everyone they kill. Some of the nastier ones get off on this.
    • The series explores the implications of this at one point, with a build up of all the evil absorbed from killing evil immortals eventually overpowering one guy, turning him evil, requiring some good immortal to defeat him (and thus absorb all that evil and become overpowered by it him/herself)


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The One in Animorphs, as well as Father from one of the prequels. (Coincidence? ...yeah, probably.)
  • The horror novel Full Tilt takes a more impersonal approach to the trope: if you die in the Amusement Park of Doom, your face appears somewhere—in a cloud, on a rock, even on a billboard—with a smile on your lips but a scream in your eyes. If you don't get out by sunrise, but you survive, you're enslaved for the rest of your (un)natural life, but you retain your memories and a certain degree of freedom. And if you're really, really unlucky, you go to the Works. (It's never clear what precisely is taken, but the Big Bad says at one point that as the park grows in power it comes closer to being real and all other realities come closer to being imaginary).
  • In the Nightside novel Agents of Light and Darkness, a minor character in the story named Belle does this. She hunts down powerful creatures, taking contracts on them if possible, and incorporates their skin into either her leather outfit or herself. She has a personal power letting her preserve and use the magic of the skin's original owners. (Her last acquisition before showing up was a pair of boots made of the skin of a minor Greek god with speed-based powers.) She lasts as long as most antagonists in these books: just long enough to explain in detail how dangerous she is before offhandedly nullifying her.
  • The Swarm from Wild Cards.
    • Also, the Righteous Djinn.
  • A mix between this and Grand Theft Me is one of the abilities of The Cunning Man from I Shall Wear Midnight.
  • The Vord in Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series has elements of this. They start out as a Hive Mind with a caste system; most of them are Insectoid Aliens ranging from the size of a dog to a bear, but some are much smaller and capable of serving as Puppeteer Parasites to animate and control people. This is a permanent condition and basically turns the victim into zombies. However, over the course of the series they learned the value of intelligent slaves, so they began using a version of the local Functional Magic to cause Happiness in Slavery so people would serve them while still physically alive and well.
  • Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince contains a possible example. Voldemort used Inferi, reanimated corpses, to guard one of his Horcruxes. These inferi overwhelm Harry and try to drown him. Harry suspects that he himself will become an inferi after he dies.
  • Fate of the Jedi has Abeloth. Interestingly, when she absorbs Callista, Callista's feelings for Luke Skywalker cause her to fall in love with him too. This goes away when Luke manages to free Callista's spirit from her.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Krillitane from the episode "School Reunion" of Doctor Who alter their DNA with DNA from races they conquer. Also The Abzorbaloff from "Love & Monsters".
    • Despite this always having been a large part of their characterization, the new-series version of the Cybermen do this somewhat more markedly than the Classic Cybermen "upgrading" people by converting them into more Cybermen now being their main shtick - this being the intention of their very human (well, until the Cybermen forcibly "upgrade" him into the Cyber Leader) creator. One group of Daleks wasn't above using humans as raw materials in a similar way, either.
    • It was also a large part of their appeal in the black-and-white days (before they turned into camp men in suits with Darth Vader voices). "You belong to us. You shall...be like us."
    • In the Matt Smith episode "The Pandorica Opens", a mostly dead Cyberman's head actually says "You will be assimilated." The use of the phrase by the Cybermen in Doctor Who pre-dates the Star Trek use, as it was featured in the Cybermen's debut story, The Tenth Planet in 1966. It's likely an in-joke too. As River Song is examining transmitters in that same episode, the radio traffic of the Cybermen, which is audible in the background, sounds very much like the Borg Collective.
    • "Are you my mummy?"
  • Sylar from Heroes, whereas Peter is more Mega Manning.
    • Doubly so now that Sylar can assimilate other peoples very identities, through a combination of a shapeshifting power that lets him copy anyone whose DNA he samples via touch, and a psychic power that lets him absorb memories via touch.
  • The Borg from Star Trek are the Trope Namers and Trope Codifiers. Oddly enough, the Borg as originally conceived and depicted in Star Trek: The Next Generation were a bit more modest on the whole "you will be assimilated" angle. The early Borg were only interested in taking all the technological prowess that other species possessed, not the assimilation of their members, as they bred all of their own offspring themselves. Even the assimilation of Picard in the "Best of Both Worlds" two-parter was carried out only for strategic reasons. It wasn't until Star Trek: First Contact that they were retooled to physically resemble decaying corpses, and just began to hostily assimilate entire civilizations into their collective.
    • Debatable, since in "Best of Both Worlds" they do say "Your culture will be adapted to service us." While certainly their first appearance only reference technology they were after humans themselves the second time.
    • It could be that the Borg we not interested in assimilating humans in general, simply because they did not really need more drones and it was much easier to annihilate anyone resisting and then grab the rest after the defenders were killed off. In Star Trek: First Contact the Borg were noticeably short on man power so they were probably just grabbing everyone they could to increase their strength.
      • Dialogue between Locutus and Worf in Best of Both Worlds Part II indicates that the Borg do at this point intend to assimilate entire races.

Locutus: Worf, Klingon species, a warrior race. You too will be assimilated.
Worf: The Klingon Empire will never yield.
Locutus: Why do you resist? We only wish to raise quality of life for all species.
Worf: I like my species the way it is!
Locutus: A narrow vision.

    • From the point of view of other civilizations who may be in conflict with them, this is how many see the Federation. They feel the Borg are at least upfront about the process.
      • According to Quark
      • Mr. Eddington, a former Federation citizen, uses the very same argument.


Mythology and Religion[edit | hide]


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The Hivebrood, an insanely complex Virus monster from the Basic/Expert/etc Dungeons & Dragons game system. Eating sentient beings lets them absorb their victims' know-how, spellcasting skills included. Don't know anything worth learning? Then they'll turn you into a Hive drudge-worker instead.
    • Another DnD monster with this kind of ability: the cadaver golem, which can take bits and pieces of people to absorb their skills. It's a Discard and Draw situation, though.
    • Played straight and subverted with the Illithids (aka Mind Flayers). They reproduce by putting an illithid tadpole into a victim's ear, which consumes their brain and turns them into an illithid. Subverted in that the new mind flayer does not retain any memories or skills from the host. Usually. They might sometimes tap their fingers in a particular way, or hum a tune the original person was familiar with. Doing so is considered a very bad sign, and they avoid it when possible. Played straighter with a Prestige Class that Mind Flayers can take that allows them to absorb skills and powers from the creature's whose brains they consume.
      • There is also a drug that a host can take that offers a chance (no guarantees) that they will retain their identity and free will after being transformed, allowing them to keep their knowledge and skills as well.
    • Formian Dominators are charged with bringing under Formian power anyone who is unwilling to join the Formians peacefully. Each one can control four or five beings at once.
  • The Tyranids want to use your genetic material for its evolutionary advantages and for raw material.
  • The Phyrexians from Magic: The Gathering.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Eaters of Chimera Beast devour all life on a planet, and add the best features to themselves. In this case, one is also the Villain Protagonist.
  • Jedah of Darkstalkers fame is on a holy quest to unite all souls into himself in order to stop the endless wars engulfing both the Demon Realm and the human world. He often uses phrases like "Now, you are a part of me."
  • The Necromorphs in Dead Space.
  • In Guild Wars, it's the only way to acquire Elite skills: find the boss, beat the crap out of him, apply the Signet of Capture.
  • There is every indication that The Combine from Half-Life 2 and its Episodes do this to the planets/universes/borderworlds they conquer, most obviously with their Synth units (gunships, dropships, Striders and Hunters). They appear to be in the process of doing this to humans, with designs for far more altered human soldiers created in production but removed from the final game. They also assimilate and adapt technology that they find: they're on Earth specifically for our teleportation technology perfected at Black Mesa.
    • It's also implied that it's actually a favor to those who surrender; they are powerful enough to exterminate anything that gets in their way, and you need to convince them that your species more use to them alive and enslaved than dead. That's essentially what Dr. Breen did to stop the Seven Hours War.
  • Halo: The Flood will turn you into an inhuman combat drone so you can help spread the infection. Once your body is battered beyond the point of usefulness it will adapt itself into a spore carrier that will release infection forms to continue assimilation. However, when the Flood come across individuals of particular intelligence, such as pilots, captains, and scientists, they will be captured and absorbed into a gigantic Gravemind intelligence that can allow the parasite to continue its Zombie Apocalypse.
  • The Reapers from Mass Effect. Every fifty thousand years, they "harvest" all life in the galaxy to turn into more Reapers.

Harbinger: We are the harbingers of their perfection!

  • The X parasites in Metroid Fusion absorb DNA from anything they infect in order to copy, multiply, and spread.
  • Alex Mercer of Prototype eats people and other Infected to add their biomass and knowledge to his own. Eating the more powerful Infected like Hunters even grants him new combat powers in the storyline (though the Hunters themselves don't have those abilities). Eating people also grants him the ability to shapeshift into them. Chances are that by the end of the game the player will have had Alex consume hundreds if not thousands of victims. And he can still be considered something close to a hero in this game.
    • It helps that as he picks up their memories, he gets a bit of their personalities as well, slowly going from a Complete Monster to simply a very bad individual.
      • With Alex as the Big Bad of Prototype 2, James Heller, the new protagonist, shares many of the same attributes as Mercer did in the first game, though he's a better person from the start.
  • Resistance against the Chimera is futile.
  • Cervantes in the Soul Series. Most "hosts" of Soul Edge too.
  • Like the above Tyranids, the Zerg also want to use your genetic material for its evolutionary advantages and for raw material. The effects of this become more apparent in StarCraft II, where the Queens take on a more human-like (or possibly protoss-like) appearance.
  • The Aparoids in Star Fox: Assault.
  • Seth from Street Fighter IV. His trademark phrase being "Become a part of me."
    • Gill from Street Fighter III also wants to do this. His ending implies that he succeeds too and even wants his followers to dress like him if Alex is anything to go by.
  • The ODE System of Super Robot Wars. If you don't wanna get assimilated, you'll be killed in cold blood.
  • The Many in System Shock 2.
  • In Sword of the Stars, Zuul Mind Rape removes prisoners' memories, knowledge, emotions, thoughts, and eventually their very identities. The Zuul that performs the Mind Rape absorbs these things for themselves. As the Zuul are connected by a telepathic Hive Mind they do not have much in the way of a 'self', and therefore finds things like a name and individuality to be extremely valuable.
  • In World of Warcraft, the Horde faction, the Forsaken were originally undead who managed to break free from the Scourge, a huge faction consisting of cultists, undead, and necromancers. After the Scourge's leader was destroyed, the Forsaken's leader, Sylvanas, essentially hired some of the Scourge's old minions who were capable of raising undead. While some of those that were raised by the Forsaken were free of mind like most of them, in warzones, she would raise enemy troops to be unquestionably loyal to her and force them right back onto the battlefield for her side. This became so bad that by the time the PC would join the conflict, humans from the opposing side refused to join battle, leaving only non-human races and humans who decided to become werewolves to fight the Forsaken since only humans can be raised as forsaken.
  • This seems to be what's going on in The Breach, although it's never entirely explained. Notably, the victims enjoy it right until they lose their minds completely.
  • Parodied in Jets N Guns when the player meets the Beer Empire, which are an alcohol-based parody of the Borg, complete with Beer Cubes.

Beer Cube: We are Beer. You will be intoxicated. Resistance is futile.

  • Evolva gives us a rare heroic example. Your Genohunters absorb their enemies' bodies to obtain their DNA and use it to get their attacks and skills.
  • the Alien Death Slug from The Visitor. It eats everything it comes across to absorb their DNA, and uses it to rapidly evolve from a worm to a bizarre mashup of features


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • MSF High has the Legion, who are unique in this in that they're actually pretty much good guys nowadays. A big plot point is that Legion retain characteristics from the old life, or are pretty much exactly the same (however, they've still been compared to both the Borg and the Flood). They do have a hive mind, however.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Akinator will succesfully guess the character you're thinking about, then use your answers to add to its own knowledge of this character. Or if he fails to best you, he'll still increase his knowledge anyway.
  • Mr. Popo does this to Blue Popo in Dragonball Z Abridged in a video advertising their visit to Youmacon 2010.
  • This ends up being the goal of Missingno during The Entity arc of Atop the Fourth Wall, to absorb all existence into itself.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Alpha from Men in Black: The Series used to provide the page picture. He was the original head of MIB but now hunts aliens for body parts to make himself more powerful. The first time we see him, he's still humanoid but has a small arsenal of Combat Tentacles concealed in his body, and he only gets freakier from there. Interestingly, he moves away from this trope during the last season, modifying himself using robot parts instead.
  • Lockdown from Transformers Animated, a bounty hunter who takes a "prize" from each of his targets, is the Humongous Mecha version of Alpha.

"I remember you... EMP generator, right? I'm not good with names and faces, but I never forget a trophy."

    • Oh, and in the tie-in comic, it's revealed that his payment includes parts from an associate of the Decepticon who hired him. That's right, he wants parts from his employers too.
  • The Bugs from Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles do this to the most badass lifeforms on each planet they conquer.
  • The Spirit Drinker in X-Men seems to be this, though it could just be a hungry beast, and once the souls are fully consumed, they're just gone.
    • The Phalanx, on the other hand, do assimilate people. In fact, the animated version actually said "Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated."
  • The Brains in Futurama seek to copy and store record of everything, thus preventing anything new from happening and having complete, universal knowledge.
  • Brainiac in Justice League had a similar motive to the Brains, but once fused with Lex Luthor, it/he/they decided to go full A God Am I and replace everything In Their Own Image in one master stroke.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Retroviruses directly integrate their own genes into the genetic code of a host cell in an attempt to turn it into a factory for more viruses, which sometimes inherit DNA from the original cell. This actually contributes significantly to the speed of evolution, and some of the "junk" DNA originated from retroviral infections.
  • The Real Life head of the Standard Oil Corporation of New Jersey, Mr John D Rockefeller Sr, referred to the process of using trusts to take control of independent oil companies as assimilation. Absorbing competitors into his monopoly was promoted as being more benevolent than driving them out of business. Possibly the Ur Example.
  • The Falcon programming language is basically this trope applied to language design. It purports to have integrated six different paradigms, and seem to have the overall philosophy that "if it exists, we want it".
  • This wiki. It doesn't matter if you stopped in here for a moment just to read a couple of pages on a lark; eventually, you're going to be tempted to add an example to one of them. And then another. And another. And another. Before you know it, you'll have launched a dozen tropes through YKTTW, created at least one page for a film, book, or series, and participated in one debate where ninety percent of the conversation is entirely in Wiki Words. But don't feel too bad. If it likes you, it rewards you by pushing you towards new media in which you previously had no interest. As masters of your time and attention go, TV Tropes is kind.
  • Besides trying to murder every single Jewish person they could find, and to turn Eastern Europe into a German colony and the Slavs into a Slave Race, this trope is essentially what Those Wacky Nazis wanted to do to the "Teutonic" states of Western and Northern Europe (Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc.): force their inhabitants to accept the Nazis' racist dogma and to integrate them directly into the totalitarian society of the Third Reich.
  • This is a basic tactic of any military empire. As an empire grows, its army must grow to defend the new land, and the only way to do that is to get the people you just conquered to join your army. This allowed tiny backwater settlements like Rome and Macedon to conquer the known world simply by doing it one nation at a time and getting a larger army every time. Some of the greatest generals of all time, such as Pyrrhus of Epirus and Hannibal, won every battle they fought but ended up losing the war because they couldn't get the allegiance of the local people.
    • Of course the extent of this depends on the empire. While the Romans might have assimilated the people their own attitudes and culture changed little. Compare that to the Normans who went from (essentially) mead drinking Vikings to wine drinking Christians in a generation, became the ruling class of a hefty swathe of the world and ended up being both among the most enthusiastic crusaders at one end of Europe and on such good terms with their Muslim citizens at the other that the most extravagant cathedral of the era boasted that its decoration had been done by skilled Islamic craftsmen. The Romans assimilated the people, the Normans assimilated themselves.
  • A benevolent form of this can be found in the United States of America. The national motto of "E pluribus unum" means "out of many, one" the Statue of Liberty says "give me your tired and hungry, you huddled masses." Only instead of going out to aggressively incorporate other peoples (early days notwithstanding), citizens of other nations are invited and encouraged to add their culture to our own. Hence, "the Melting Pot". Your Mileage May Vary.
  • Hugo Chavez describes socialism as a virus with which he intends to infect all other countries.
  • You will be assimilated into the herd; resistance is futile.