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"Yeah, he's great because... he's got legs, and, you know... a head..."
Masami, talking about Darwin, The Amazing World of Gumball
"Hey guys, whaddya call a big head with tiny arms and legs?"
Jamie, Megas XLR

Critters which, rather than having a head and a torso, are basically heads with limbs. Usually a cartoony simplification, though spider-limb heads sometimes appear in horror movies and the like.

If you're not sure whether a creature has a head-torso or just a particularly thick neck, check how much their mouth can open. If it goes all the way to the groin, you've got a winner.

Another good way to check is the position of their arms. Generally a Cephalothorax's arms will be at the same height as his eyes (approximately where his ears would be except Cephalothoraxes almost never have ears, or at least visible ones)

If they are video game characters with really stubby legs and arms (or no arms at all), they are Waddling Heads.

An ancient Greek legend described a race of Cephalothoraxes called "Blemmyae" living in north Africa, which makes this trope Older Than Feudalism. You probably shouldn't think too hard about where the digestive tract or heart/lungs are located.

A specific subtrope is Oculothorax, where the "head" is mostly just one big eyeball.

See also Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods. Compare My Brain Is Big.

Not to be confused with the cephalothorax of spider and crustacean anatomy, which is an actual body part combining head and thorax.

Examples of Cephalothorax include:


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Anime & Manga

  • The Lagann, the Gurren, and several other Ganmen from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann; being a Combining Mecha, however, the Gurren Lagann and its larger forms have a normal humanoid shape.
  • Many Digimon as well, specially the baby ones.
  • One Piece villain Buggy the Clown resembles one of these when he tries to assemble himself after his torso and limbs are tied up (leaving only the head, hands, and feet). He ends up stuck that way for quite a while after Luffy gives him a Megaton Punch, until Alvida finally brings him back to his crew (who held onto his torso).
  • Jama-P from Wedding Peach.
  • King Nikochan and his alien race from Dr. Slump.
  • Jibaku (actually, all the spirits) from Twelve World Story.
  • Taken to an extreme with the Yamata no Orochi from Ranma ½, a legendary dragon whose "body" is just one massive, mountain-sized head. The remaining seven heads sprout from the back of the main head. It just raises the question: with no body, no limbs, nothing but one giant head and seven smaller ones, where do the sake it drinks and women it devours go?
  • Happens at least once in Franken Fran, when a guy brings Fran his girlfriend's severed head although he's not actually her boyfriend, and is responsible for decapitating her in the first place, and Fran manages to keep her alive by removing some of the brain and using the space to install a small system of vital organs, including a digestive tract. Later Fran attaches a hand so the head can move around. After that, she gives the victim a full body so she can take revenge on her "boyfriend".


Comic Books

  • MODOK (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing) from the Marvel Universe, pictured above. He was originally a normal human mook before he got shoved very unwillingly into the machine that transformed him. Then he used his new hyperintelligence and psychic abilities to take over the organization. Despite his appearance, he's not a true Cephalothorax. He's got a normal-looking body and a truly massive head, and can only sit or move about at all because of the floating chair thing.
  • Galius Zed of the Green Lantern Corps.
  • Blume from the Orange Lantern Corps has no limbs to speak of. He's basically just a giant flying head with a prehensile mustache.
  • Sugar Man of the Marvel Universe.
  • Judge Kray-Tor from Marvel Comics, foe of Captain Marvel in the Silver Age adventures as written by Starlin. Bonus points for having TWO pair of arms where his ears would be.


Films -- Animation

  • The Goblins from the Rankin-Bass Animated The Hobbit edge onto this when they open their mouths fully.
  • Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc..
  • Toy Story
    • One of the deformed toys from was a truly frightening sight for a kid's movie: A bald doll's head with mechanical spider legs made from an Erector set. Like all the other "monster" toys, though, it turned out to be good-hearted and kind.
    • Don't forget Mr. Potato Head who is practically this trope embodied.


Films -- Live-Action


Literature


Live-Action TV

  • The Nakaleen Feeder from Babylon 5
  • The In Living Color sketch "The Head Detective": the doctors tell the partner of a detective in the ER that they could rebuild him... for six million dollars. But since the partner only has $28.45 on him, the best the surgeons can do is a cephalothorax.
  • Paroos from the Farscape episode 'A Prefect Murder' probably qualified. He was basically Father Jack's head from Father Ted, except alien and slightly better looking.


Tabletop Games

  • Squigs from Warhammer are essentially heads with legs and a little tail. And lots of teeth.
  • Sekis, a character in "The Velvet Circle" adventure in the Demon Magic supplement for Stormbringer.
  • Vargouilles in Dungeons and Dragons are Body Horror heads with wings and tentacles, created by The Virus.
    • Modrons
    • Beholders are giant floating heads, with extra eyes on eyestalks. They look pretty comical, until their eyes start shooting rays of destruction in all directions at once. And then they vomit up their young, and you wonder if you'll ever get to sleep again.


Theatre


Video Games

  • Kirby, Ristar and Starfy from their respective videogames.
  • Jubjubs in Neopets are an entire species of these, as they are just creatures with head, and feet. They are often the subjects of lampshades, on how they can hold things, despite having no hands.
  • Half of the Super Mario Bros. enemies.
  • Pac-Man's cartoon form, also present in the Namco video game Pac-Land.
  • The Green alloy in Super Smash Bros Brawl. Note also that its body is based off of Kirby's, who is listed above.
  • In Dead Space there are enemies that amount to little more than a grotesque head with a couple of arms and legs. If they kill you, they hijack your body in a rather squicky death sequence.
  • Gnaars from Serious Sam.
  • The Gnomes in Kingdom of Loathing.
  • The Nu species from the game Chrono Trigger are (usually) blue creatures like this, with (usually) moss-green mohawks on their head/body.
  • The four Giants from The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask each have a Cephalothorax the size of what a giant's head would normally be, and otherwise only count as giants thanks to their incredibly long and spindly arms and legs.
  • The classic 8-bit game MULE had several alien races for the player to choose as their avatar. Among these was the packer, an obvious Shout-Out to Pac Man. The packer was essentially a big walking mouth with two stubby legs and a pair of eyes.
  • At least one monster in Dwarf Fortress. Unusually for this trope, all vital organs are still present, so you can hit the monster in the head and bruise its lung.
  • Meat Boy and Bandage girl in Meat Boy and Super Meat Boy.
  • Custom Robo has the aptly-named "Funky Big Head" (or "Big Boys", depending on the game) line of robos.
  • Several Robot Masters like Mega Man 2's Air Man and 3's Needle Man.
  • Hansel and Gretel from Nie R are giant Ganmen-like helmets with limbs.
  • The many Pokémon examples have been put into lists. See the lists of Pokémon species that consist entirely of a head, that have a base but are otherwise just a head, that have arms but are otherwise just a head, and that have legs but are otherwise just a head. Jigglypuff, Igglybuff, Elekid, Hitmonlee, Polywhirl, Polywrath, Snorunt, Budew, Nosepass, Chingling, Trubbish, and Darumaka are basically heads with arms and legs.
  • The Bomb-type enemies from the Final Fantasy series.
  • The body of Ogmo from Jumper series consists entirely of a rectangular head and two tiny legs.
  • From Cave Story, there are critters and Balrog. The formers consist almost entirely of heads (their legs are barely visible), while the latter is a soap-bar with only a face and stubby limbs.
  • Sneakers in Sneakers and Fast Eddie, two early 1980s games by Sirius Software.


Web Animation

  • Strong Mad from Homestar Runner might be more appropriately called a Thoraxocephaloid, as he's the exact opposite: A torso without a head.


Web Comics

Western Animation


Real Life

  • The cephalothorax is a standard stage of development in how a child draws (and thus perceives) a human figure, that every healthy child goes through in their toddler years. It is preceded by squiggly lines and followed by a figure with a head, torso, and limbs, but no neck. [1]
  • The giant ocean sunfish is basically a fish head with fins and a fringe of tail protruding from it.
    • A pufferfish appears to be a spherical head with fins when it is inflated.
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