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The heroes are fighting a near-immortal Big Bad and his second-in-command. Both of them appear to run on some sort of "life force" or have several lives... the only thing for the heroes to do is keep fighting to wear them down, hoping to get them down to nothing. Slowly, the villains realize the tables have turned, and they're losing...
So the Big Bad gives his life force a little boost by draining his companion to death.
Usually, the two villains get on very well and trust each other before this moment, just for that little extra Kick the Dog punch. A heroic variant involves a lancer or similar trusted person giving their energy to the hero in a Heroic Sacrifice. Being heroes, it's the devoured that makes the choice in such cases and the devourer is usually reluctant. This is a sister trope to Villain Override. See also Just Desserts.
Anime & Manga
- In Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Gluttony is devoured for this purpose. Zolf J. Kimbley later succumbs to the same fate. However, the second victim ends up biting the devourer in the ass later on. Pride assumed that nobody could retain their sanity after being absorbed into him, but overlooked the fact that Kimbley was already insane and loving it.
- In Digimon Adventure, VenomVamdemon eats his subordinate PicoDevimon for a marginal powerup during his Chewing the Scenery sequence. And he doesn't stop there, either, ultimately absorbing all of his surviving minions.
- Devimon also absorbed his Dragon Ogremon by turning him into Black Gears and absorbing him. In an unusual instance, Ogremon actually survived because he was blasted out of Devimon during the resulting fight.
- Also, in Digimon Frontier, Lucemon does this to Crusadermon and Dynasmon shortly after their defeat by the Digidestined.
- Happens all the time in Digimon Xros Wars due to the villains having the ability to Digi Xros with their underlings, whether the poor Digimon want to or not.
- In Shinzo, the Mons that have replaced humanity turn into cards after being defeated, and they can power up by assimilating another Enterran's card. One villainess, a general in the Big Bad's army, killed five of her peers well before fighting the heroes and used them to achieve a One-Winged Angel form.
- Fall absorbs Deuce's magical power (killing her) in he final fight in Manga/Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom. This holds something of an inverted Heroic Sacrifice because Deuce throws herself in front of Nora's spell to protect Fall, then apoligizes for her weakness as Fall absorbs her afterwards.
- Two early villains from Inuyasha. The older brother eats the younger one after he's killed. Also a subversion, as he genuinely cares for his brother, and is using the strength to avenge him.
- In an anime filler arc, the leader of a tribe of panther demons does this to some of his subordinates when he realizes he is losing. Made worse since his tribe most of the arc gathering the shards to revive him after Inuyasha's father killed him in the past. The panthers give up the fight after their leader is defeated realizing he wasn't worth avenging.
- Szayel Aporro Granz from Bleach has specifically designed minions which he can eat to heal himself. In the manga, he actually eats the minion, but in the anime he turns it into a purple orb and then eats it.
- In X 1999 the TV series, after Fuuma has had his arm and half his face blown off, he orders Nataku to liquify and became a human skin graft, restoring himself for the final battle at the cost of his last henchman's life.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann does this in a very strange, but very awesome way in the final episode. It was the Big Bad of the previous arc who got eaten. Except it was the heroes who ate him, and it was his idea. It makes a lot more sense in context. Also, said Big Bad keeps the keys to his mecha around in the form of attractive women, so when he needs to pilot it, the first step is to turn them back into keys. Gigantic drill keys. Mostly just gigantic drills that work like keys.
- Orochimaru intended to do this with Sasuke. It ended up going the other way around.
- Also, Kabuto later integrates Orochimaru's remains into his body to make himself stronger. However, it's still not clear who has devoured who at this point.
- Inverted in the Mega Man NT Warrior manga. When the good guys finally get the current villains on the ropes, Big Bad LaserMan decides it's best to make a strategic retreat and regroup. MegaMan DarkSoul decides he'd rather "regroup" his superior's power with his own, deals a finishing blow, and proceeds to take the "devour" portion of this trope quite literally.
MegaMan DarkSoul: A bit bland... but filling!
- Mag Mel from Bakugan kills and absorbs Mistress Sellon after she had outlived her usefulness, using her energy to power himself as he prepares to carry out his ultimate plan. The very next episode, he does the exact same thing to Anubias.
- In Suite Pretty Cure Noise absorbs Falsetto to power up and cross the Bishonen Line.
- The Heroic version of this trope occurs twice in Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure. The first is with Jonathan Joestar and his mentor Zepelli, who gives Jonathan all of his Hamon power shortly before his death. A similar scene occurs with their grandsons Joseph and Cesar in Part 2.
- One of the block mechanics is Magic the Gathering was called "Devour" and worked via your creatures coming into play and "eating" other creatures you had in play for various benefits.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: This is actually part of the overall mechanic. Monsters over Level 4 require you to Tribute one or more of your other monsters to summon them. And unless your entire deck is dedicated to the Weak but Skilled, you will do this.
- In The Immortal Iron Fist, Orson Randall does the Heroic Sacrifice variant by giving up his chi to power up Danny Rand.
- In JLA/Avengers, The Vision fires his solar beam (emptying his solar cells) at Superman to re-energize him when he is being attacked by several villains using Red-solar energy, and Kryptonite.
- In Day of the Barney, Barney kills Baby Bop in this manner.
Films -- Live-Action
- Rare heroic example: In Highlander Endgame, Connor MacLeod asks his younger cousin Duncan MacLeod to take his head and absorb his power, and thus have enough power to defeat the Big Bad. Duncan attempts to refuse multiple times, but finally Connor gets him to accept. Sort of a Passing the Torch moment as well, as it's the hero from the original movie sacrificing himself for the good of the hero from the spinoff TV series.
- In the climax of Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey, the wicked stepmother drains her lawyer/sidekick/future son-in-law completely of life, and drains her two daughters until they are aged, withered, senile husks of their former selves.
- Witches Abroad has Lilith draining all ambient magic from the ballroom in order to throw an attack at the Baron. The Duc (who's actually a frog given human form, as Lilith has a thing for making things work based on stories) reverts to his true form instantly.
- Although non-magical, Mr. Pin's killing of Mr. Tulip in The Truth is a similar case of a villain sacrificing his most trusted ally in order to shield himself.
- Dungeons and Dragons
- In the adventure OA5 "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw", this is a special ability of Dragon Claw martial artists: the most senior one present can drain Hit Points from his fellow Dragon Claws, allowing him to fight longer. If the heroes fail, the Dragon Claw statue will do this to all Dragon Claw fighters in Kara Tur.
- The Death Knell spell from Third Edition allows an evil cleric to do this to a dying comrade.
- A number of powers of the Dark Pact, a warlock pact from Fourth Edition, have the warlock draining Hit Points from his allies to power his magic. Being as the Dark Pact was originally created by the Drow, who are natural backstabbers who hold absolutely no faith in friendship or fellowship... yeah.
- During the Time of Troubles in the Forgotten Realms, Bhaal absorbed the souls of every assassin in the world in order to upgrade his avatar. To gain the strength to battle Bhaal's avatar, Torm likewise absorbed the souls of his own followers, but on a voluntary basis. This was done to justify the lack of an assassin class in 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons in-universe.
- In the climax of the "Enemy Within" Warhammer campaign, the Big Bad drains lifeforce from the official he has been mind-controlling, allowing him to take his true form.
- Seen in Resident Evil 4 as Salazar and his remaining Verdugo fuse with an evil plant before his fight with Leon.
- In Warcraft 3, the Death Knight hero can use the ability 'Death Pact' to sacrifice any non-Hero undead to restore health. The Lich can do the same thing for mana.
- The ability also appears in World of Warcraft.
- And in Starcraft: The Defiler can "Devour" another Zerg to recharge their Mana Meter.
- In Starcraft 2, the hero character Tosh can remove health from a nearby biological unit to recover energy, which is used to cast spells.
- In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Dracula reaches his One-Winged Angel form by consensually taking Death's soul.
- In Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, beating one Zombie Dragon boss will cause the other to chew at (and gain HP from) the one you just killed, making this a literal case of devouring dragon.
- In Mortal Kombat 9, Shao Kahn absorbs Shang Tsung and gives some of his power to Sindel.
- A "heroic" version is the central gimmick of Valkyrie Profile Covenant of the Plume. Your buddy is supercharged, dies at the end of the battle, and you get a power-up.
- In Jade Empire, Smiling Hawk takes a bit of a beating from the player before his most devoted disciple arrives. Smiling Hawk decides that the disciple's life would be more useful than his help.
- A variation in Knights of the Old Republic II; Visas Marr, having originally been The Dragon to Darth Nihilus and possessing a Force Bond to him, could be made during the fight against him (having joined the Exile) to commit suicide in order to weaken Nihilus. Visas just has to be either wearing her default outfit, or in her underwear, and can only be armed with a basic lightsaber. Her Relationship Values must also be at maximum.
- Inverted in Final Fantasy X, when one of Seymour's incarnations features "morticorpus", a living shield that regenerates by draining his life.
- He does play this straight right before that Boss Battle, though, by absorbing the body of the recently deceased Maester Kinoc (who was killed by Seymour offscreen shortly before) along with four of his own mooks in order to jumpstart his transformation into the One-Winged Angel form that includes the morticorpus.
- In Legend of Mana, after the Hero beats Lord of Jewels 999, its dragon Sandra offers it her core gemstone so it could be reborn as Lord of Jewels 1000.
- Dragon Age
- In Dragon Age: Origins, a Blood Mage can drain health from other party members with "Blood Sacrifice", which is a good way to keep the Blood Mage alive since keeping "Blood Magic" active renders other forms of healing all but useless. If you're careless it's entirely possible to bring your ally to the brink of death.
- That's what the ranger's summoned pet is for. Well, that and disarming traps...
- Inverted at the end of Silent Hill 3: Claudia devours the embryonic God to enable its birth, which of course destroys her.
- In The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks, Big Bad Malladus was forced outside Princess Zelda's body. Cole tells him to just kill Link and recover Zelda's body. But since he was too tired for that, Malladus decided to take the next one he had.
- In Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, Thuris drains Kanan, the leader of his cult for a power boost before his boss battle after the rest of his cult wasn't enough.
- In Soul Calibur 4, Tira wants Nightmare/Soul Edge to do this to her because she has a bad case of Mad Love for it. In her ending, the opposite happens. Nightmare's body can no longer withstand its own power and dies while Tira begs him to stay with her. Tira gets her wish when Soul Edge's power merges with her.
- Mother does this to Zeikfried in Wild Arms 1.
- In the Dual Boss battle against Ornstein and Smough in Dark Souls, defeating one of them will cause the other to regenerate his health and absorb his fallen comrade's power. Smough gets Ornstein's lightning, while Ornstein becomes gigantic.
- Star Wars the Old Republic: The Sith Inquisitor has the "Sacrifice" ability, which sacrifices your companion in order to restore health to yourself. Depending on how you play your character, your companion might indeed be The Dragon to your Big Bad. The Inquisitor also consumes force ghosts during the story to gain the power to confront his/her nemesis.
- All classes get this ability, if they get to level cap and full dark-side.
- Rare heroic variant: In Girls Love Visual Novel Akai Ito, Tsudura eat Obana's corpse because she doesn't want to lose her only friend (in a battle versus Nushi's dragons, at that). Squick doesn't even begin to describe the scene. The result is that Tsudura turns into an uberpowered werefox-mage-exorcist, or something.
- Implied to have happened in There Will Be Brawl, when Kirby is revealed to still be alive, there are no signs of either of his Dragons, and he's wearing the cap of one of them. Now, remember that Kirby's powers involve copying the powers of other characters by literally eating said characters, and he usually dons a hat reflecting said powers...
- Inverted in WITCH: Cedric eats Phobos to gain his powers.
- As noted in the page quote, Makuta absorbs Nidhiki and Krekka in Bionicle: Legends of Metru Nui, as well as his pet Feathered Fiend Nivawk. This was a mixed blessing however; he later claimed that he had trouble suppressing their minds within his own, distracting him enough for the heroes to win.
- In Wakfu, Goultard dominates the fight against Rushu. Realizing he's in a bad position, Rushu calls upon his Shushu hordes to help him, and they merge into a huge mass of darkness. Rushu eats it to get a power boost that allows him to gain the upper hand against Goultard.