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 "Who needs dolls when I have you?"

"Oh! What should I do with Blade?

Perhaps I'll lobotomize you and keep you as pet!

That would be amusing!

Don't you think?"

At some point in life, everyone has had a doll --pardon, "action figure"-- collection in their possession that they admired and played with, creating fanciful stories and battles, pretending to be someone else. A mother, a father, a doctor, a general... God.

Even after growing up takes that delight away, many adults still enjoy keeping or adding to such a collection as a Kitschy hobby. However, there are some adults who had a less than ideal childhood, breaking their minds to such an extent that only a fantasy where they have complete control can make sense. And dolls? They just don't cut it anymore.

Enter the Living Doll Collector. He or she will collect people, dead or alive, as if they were dolls and use them in macabre mimicry of their maddened imagination. There are a lot of variations here; the people may be kidnapped strangers, crushes, or family, and are dressed up and forced to act out roles in an inescapable "Dream House". If they resist or the collector doesn't have the means to control or imprison them, well, corpses complain a lot less. Embalming optional.

If the collector has powers, this gets a lot creepier.

If he or she can make People Puppets, then the still conscious puppets will be forced to do things against their will. Someone with powerful enough Hypnotic Eyes or Mind Control techniques can eventually program people to be anything from empty automatons to actually believing they're the collector's long Dead Little Sister. A necromancer might dress up their zombies as maids and butlers, and even lovingly comb their (remaining) hair, preferring their company to that of the living. The Hive Queen may do this to her drones.

It's also possible the collector was a completely normal person once upon a time, and has simply fallen to the Power Perversion Potential of their abilities by treating people less like people and more like, well, dolls. For a deranged enough collector, Interrogation by Vandalism usually works when applied to the dolls, though it may backfire if said dolls are capable of self defense. They may be trying to enforce some kind of inner illusion or fantasy, in which case pointing it out to be fake (and dispelling the control over the dolls) can break them out of it and either make them see reason, possibly even releasing the dolls... or get really angry.

It's worth mentioning that sometimes the living doll turns out to not be quite so under their control after all and is basically playing along. Maybe because they like the game, or in order to stage an escape.

A creepier form of the Marionette Master. Usually gets the spotlight in The Doll Episode. See also Marionette Motion.

See also Showing Off the New Body and Necromantic. Contrast Puppeteer Parasite, who are parasites that possess people. See also Demonic Possession, Wax Museum Morgue.

Examples of Living Doll Collector include:


Anime & Manga

  • Piedmon does a variation in Digimon Adventure by turning people into keychains...but using them like puppets anyway. Sora put it best, "What kind of sicko turns people into keychains" indeed.
  • In Slayers Next this happens in the legendary haunted tower. The culprit almost collects Lina and her group, as whoever loses their challenges is transformed into a doll.
  • Sabrina in the Pokémon anime did this to people, turning them into dolls with her psychic powers.
  • Naruto has Sasori of the Red Sand, who turns humans including himself into his ninja puppets, which have the same abilities they had in life. He can use up to 100 at a time; he has more.
    • A more benevolent version is Sasori's grandmother, Chiyo -- who actually taught him how to make these puppets. She's able to use merely 10 dolls with even more skill than he does. And two of these dolls are... the corpses of Sasori's murdered parents. Which, with some help from Sakura, she uses to finally defeat and kill him.
      • And then we have Kankuro, whose ninja puppets were also made by Sasori years ago. And he ends up collecting Sasori himself later.
      • Though to be fair to Chiyo and Kankuro, they only use people-puppets when they where created by Sasori, rather than collecting them themselves. And Chiyo went out of her way to create a technique to bring people back to life to fix her family if she could get Sasori back from playing omnicidal maniac. Both of them seem disgusted at the idea of actually killing people specifically to make puppets themselves.
  • The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime has a character who kidnaps young women and attaches their souls to dolls he made to look like his disappeared girlfriend. Made all the creepier when the girlfriend returns years later and he rejects her for the lifeless doll.
  • Godchild has Rebecca, a crippled girl who's been turning people she "loves" into dolls. She has two methods: place a victim's hair, teeth, and bones into a doll that looks just like them so their soul gets trapped inside their "human-shaped coffin," or drug her victim into a vegetative state so they'll become a "living doll" that she can dress up however she pleases while her equally-insane housekeeper takes care of their physical needs.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Ryou Bakura is an unwilling one of these, as his Super-Powered Evil Side has a nasty habit of trapping his friend's souls in cute little figurines.
  • Terrence D'arby from Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure also had this hobby. His stand power allowed him to capture the souls of his opponents by defeating them in a video game match. And unlike his brother Daniel, who kept the souls in a dormant state as poker chips, Terrence's dolls were aware of everything going on, but unable to do anything.
  • More than one Shinma from Vampire Princess Miyu is like this. The most infamous oine is Ranka from the OAV's, who turns people into mannequins and keeps them around to slowly absorb their Life Energy.
  • Kirakishou from Rozen Maiden is a strange case... a living doll that collects humans like they were dolls.


Comic Books

  • In the Batman comics, the Mad Hatter sometimes kidnaps blonde girls and uses his mind control technology to force them to play at being Alice.
  • Marvel Comics gives us the Puppet Master and the Purple Man. One used radioactive (later revealed to be magical) clay to control people like puppets, the other uses pheromones to make them do his every bidding.
  • One Cobweb story in an issue of Tomorrow Stories featured a Mad Scientist who used a shrink ray to turn women into literal 'living dolls'.
  • In the Scott Pilgrim comic, Gideon Graves is revealed to have put six ex-girlfriends into suspended animation. He plans to do the same to Ramona, too.


Film

  • In Attack Of The Puppet People a Mad Scientist turns people action figure-sized, and stores them, taking them out once in a while in order to make them "play" for his amusement.
  • The Cell. A Serial Killer abducts women, drowns them, bleaches their corpses and then masturbates whilst hanging himself above them by chains attatched to rings in his back before dumping them out by the highway.
  • Naturally, The Collector, a 1965 film in which Terence Stamp is a butterfly collector who decides to kidnap and keep Samantha Eggar as well.
  • The guy from Love Object abducts a woman and tries to "transform" her (via a makeover and an attempted infusion of embalming fluid) into a replicate of the sex doll he ordered and grew obsessed with. The ending of the film (his victim dies before he can complete the process, and he gets away) implicates he will try to do it to another woman.
  • The villain from The Devil Doll abducted people and transformed them into literal living dolls: action-figure-sized mini-assassins propelled by the force of his own will. Not nearly as squicky as most examples, although he does sometimes treat the "dolls" with the affection due an obedient pet.
  • Shaun from Shaun of the Dead could count after keeping his zombified friend in a shed so that he could continue playing games with him. Not that it's likely Ed really minded all that much.


Literature

  • Coraline - the other mother wants to sew buttons onto her eyes.
  • The ship (and its resident AI) Sleeper Service in Iain M. Bank's Excession contains huge recreations of battle scenes, with every soldier represented by a living being held in some sort of stasis field. In a subversion, they are all volunteers happy to be part of such a work of art.


Live Action TV

  • Terry Karrens does this in (surprise) Dollhouse. He's the creepy serial killer variant.
  • Night Gallery episode "A Death In the Family". An undertaker preserves dead bodies and treats them as his "family".
  • The UnSub in the Criminal Minds episode "The Uncanny Valley" is doing this: kidnapping women, drugging them, dressing them in very specific homemade dresses, and posing them. The UnSub, a Pyschopathic Girl Child was raped and given ECT by her pedophile psychiatrist father, and was kidnapping the women to recreate the only doll playset she'd ever owned, which said father had taken from her and given to his next unfortunate victim after his daughter got too old for him.
  • There was an episode of Law and Order SVU involving a Lolicon with obvious Mommy Issues who did this, dressing little girls up (before doing "stuff" with them) to look like the dolls in his mother's extensive collection.
  • An episode of the 2003 Twilight Zone reboot featured a little girl who turned all her babysitters into Barbie dolls because she was lonely and didn't want them to ever leave.
  • An episode of Super Force had a deranged man who kidnapped women, put them in suspended animation, and arranged them on display stands in a private museum.


Tabletop Games

  • In Vampire: The Requiem and Vampire: The Masquerade, this is very, very explicitly laid out to be one of the big dehumanizing aspects of the vampiric discipline Dominate. One bloodline in Requiem, the Melissidae, are themed on wasps and bees, and have advanced powers that allow them to make people their mental puppets.


Video Games

  • The first Baldur's Gate game had Bassilus, an evil cleric who used Create Undead to "bring back his family" out of locals. Since Create Undead creates undead rather than truly resurrect them, they were just shambling zombies that he was delusional enough to think were fine.
    • You can with careful dialogue choices, get him to realize they're not his family, it causes him to destroy the zombies before attacking (otherwise, he'd attack you with the zombies).
  • A creepy serial killer like this pops up in the Heavy Rain DLC "The Taxidermist".
  • Touch Detective features a little girl who lives at the observatory, and with the help of one of its workers, kidnaps people to act as her brainwashed living dolls -- what little we see of this suggests they're reduced to a near-inanimate state by the brainwashing, capable of little more than speaking a "pre-recorded" line.


Webcomics


Western Animation

  • The villain in the Pilot Movie of Bonkers is The Collector, a creepy-looking Toon who collected other toons. He turns out to be a human in disguise.
  • In one "Treehouse of Terror" segment on The Simpsons, Comic Book Guy becomes a collector of cult actors, who plans to trap Lucy Lawless in plastic. She kicks his ass.
  • On The Powerpuff Girls, a toy collector has every piece of Powerpuff merchandise ever, yet felt that his collection was incomplete without the girls themselves. So he kidnaps them and puts them in boxes.
  • Avatar's Hama uses her Bloodbending skills to kidnap random Fire Nation civilians and keep them locked up in a cave. She also has a bunch of regular puppets she keeps locked in a cabinet in her house: this is so that, if her victims are discovered, she can claim it was at least Fore Shadowed.
  • An episode of Richie Rich had a villain who would kidnap notable people, shrink them with a Shrink Ray and keep them under glass.
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