Jump to content

Tulpas and Tulpa-like Things in the Media

Recommended Posts

I think we should have our own version of Greenspun's Tenth Rule


10. Any sufficiently complicated work of fiction or fantasy contains an isolated, unexplained, inaccurate, fleeting metaphor for what could be a tulpa.


It's true, if you think about it.

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. <3

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 335
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Couldn't Garfield the cat just be Jon's Tulpa?


Also, "Garfield Minus Garfield" is hilarious

Host: Sakura

Tulpa: Sarah (began June 5th, 2014), Alyx (Began July 23rd, 2014)

Our shared tumblr

note: usually browsing on mobile, so cannot quote properly

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know if it's been mentioned before, but there is an episode in the first season of Queer as Folk where Emit thinks about deleting his online profile he created, and his profile quite literally takes on its own life and convinces him to let him live. No one can see or hear him save for Emit and it just has a very tupper feel to it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't know why I didn't think of this before. American McGee's Alice - Alice: Madness Returns. We've got the Wonderland and the few primary 'tulpas' such as Cheshire Cat, Caterpillar, Red Queen, Mad Hatter, etc. The rest of the denizens are all NPC's to fill up her mind. All the 'tulpa-like' characters know her mind better than she does and often challenge her to accept truths she tries to hide from or realize things that she overlooks. Though they may be attacking her, ultimately they are helping her to become stronger so that she can overcome her trauma and take back her life. They are helping her in the way they interpret is the best course of action to help her, more often than not providing lots of life threatening and emotionally traumatizing challenges. Great games, if you haven't played them I highly recommend checking them out.

“Of course it is happening inside your head... but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” -Albus Dumbledore


"Only a few find the way, some don't recognize it when they do - some...don't ever want to." -Cheshire Cat

Link to post
Share on other sites

Warning: TL;DR incoming. When I post, I rant.


I should probably be upfront that I do not have any tulpas, and I am not currently tulpaforcing though the idea intrigues me (very new to the concept and far too aware of the ethical implications and responsibilities of creating a sentient intelligence to just jump straight in). Not the thread to talk about that so I won't say more, but I thought I'd be upfront about that so that anyone reading this knows that my descriptions of these "tulpa analogues" and "how tulpa-like" they are is not based on firsthand knowledge.


That said, let's begin. I only have a few, but I think are least some of them have not been mentioned yet (and the ones that were I didn't notice more than brief sentences about and I prefer more long winded explanations, as should be painfully obvious to you by now). A lot of these are fanfiction and may contain unmarked spoilers for the series they are based off of. Mostly because talking about at least some of them while marking all of the spoilers for their parent series would basically necessitate making their entire entry spoiler marked. Instead I will inform you on if they are fanfiction, and of what series, before describing them. I will try to avoid spoiling the fanfic itself, though, because that should be easier to do.


Golden Portrayal


I feel these stories get something pretty close to what is described as a tulpa here on the boards, even if it obviously isn't the original intent.


"Time Braid" (fanfic)


Ah! My Goddess!

though it is so lightly present, doesn't spoil its source material in any way I can think of, and still manages be a massive spoiler for the fic that I recommend you not mouse over it if you want to avoid such spoilers)


One of the most unique things about this fanfic that made me love it was the seeming drastically different usage of one of its plot elements, which in retrospect resembles tulpas immensely. The fic is not about tulpas necessarily, the story's main focus is on a time loop plot (for those unfamiliar with the concept, think/look up Groundhog Day or the recent movie Edge of Tomorrow). However, the plot element that involves something similar to tulpas is heavily present, as it was probably a useful tool to give the looping protagonist something to focus on beyond eventually overpowering everything in the universe (as these stories almost necessarily devolve into in fanfic).


The story focuses on Sakura as she one day discovers that every time she dies, or fails the Chunin exam, she wakes back up in her room on the morning of the exam. Frequent Naruto fanfiction readers will likely recognize this as very reminiscent of the relatively (in)famous fic Chunin Exam Day, which the author acknowledges and quite possibly wrote this as a response towards. I personally find this to be the better of the two stories.


The tulpa elements come in with how the fic handles the concept of "Inner Sakura." For those not in the know (apparently you are reading this and yet somehow never read and never care to read Naruto... and still want to see a discussion of a Naruto fanfic?), Inner Sakura is a device used by the author of Naruto (Masashi Kishimoto) to show Sakura's inner thoughts. Sakura as a character could be described as some kind of variation on a tsundere, although unlike most characters of this type she focuses her affectionate side on one character (Sasuke) and her angry side on another (Naruto). She tends to take the sweeter side as her default persona towards people at large (though not to the same extent as she does with Sasuke, who she has a crush on). Inner Sakura is used by Kishimoto to show us what Sakura is really thinking during these moments of cognitive dissonance, and ironically shows her to often agree enthusiastically with the more blunt Naruto despite being something she never admits out loud.


Inner Sakura, as portrayed canonically, is probably not a tulpa. She is designed purely to show the viewpoint of Sakura's real opinions, and is thus not something separate from herself. There is one incident where the existence of Inner Sakura causes extreme peril to a mind reader/controller. This is, however, the only time it's used as anything but a narrative device, and could easily be interpreted as Sakura just overcoming the mind powers through mental strength, especially since said victim never mentions it again. Later into the story, as Sakura becomes more confident and starts saying what she means more often (in other words, when the dissonance fades) Inner Sakura disappears, which if interpreted as a tulpa would be somewhere between sad and horrifying.


Time Braid is not the canon.


In Time Braid the concept of Inner Sakura is explored as if she were some kind of separate consciousness. This is fairly common in Naruto fanfiction, where writers for various (sometimes mean spirited, sometimes not) reasons often deconstruct this plot device as some form of dissociative disorder. These do not qualify in my mind as "Tulpa Like" (at least in not in any way I find interesting) because it is being treated as a sickness. Time Braid hints at this idea very early on, in the very first chapter Sakura encounters difficulties getting people to believe her about the time loops and at one point it is mentioned that in at least one early iteration she spent time in a mental hospital, where they examined the possibility that she has some kind of DID-like disease.


However, the fic does not ultimately treat this as a disorder for Sakura. Instead

Sakura not only begins to identify Inner Sakura as a split piece of her own personality, she eventually experiments and finds her mind to be extremely flexible in this area.

A good deal more such


are constructed in her mind as the fic goes on, under various circumstances. Usually this involves some intense mental effort on Sakura's part, especially early on, which could be very analogous to tulpaforcing. It isn't a flawless analogy, since it generally happens far faster than most hosts would probably reasonably expect, but it is a reasonable comparison. During the scenes where Sakura identifies and comes to terms with what this process means, and how it works, she does consider the idea that it might be an illness, but ultimately comes to the conclusion that it is not. This is probably a mindset many hosts might have gone through at some point, the ever common question of "Is this real? Am I going to damage myself if I do this?"


Ultimately once Sakura identifies how Inner Sakura and other "tulpa-analogues" work, they serve multiple functions that are similar to the tulpa in a real host. Given Sakura is effectively isolated form other humans by the timeloops, these personalities give her some form of companionship at times in the story.

When it becomes apparent that there are other timelooping individuals, and that they will sometimes end up in the same "time" as each other for at least one life, Sakura's "tulpas" tend to encourage her to pursue relationships with her new-found peers, and like real tulpas seem to want her to be happy rather than it all devolving into a mess of insane and dangerous jealousy.

They also serve to help Sakura understand how her mind works a lot better, and help her with everyday tasks quite often (though admittedly, often in ways that could very well be impossible in real life).


The "tulpas" are almost never portrayed as negative. They might have some conflicts, like you might with a real tulpa, but they're practically never shown to be malicious of their own volition.

The only exception to this is a result of terrible, mind destroying Jutsu (for those not familiar, think "magic spell") performed by the ultimate villain of the story. This spell leads to some intense trauma to Sakura's mind which she eventually uses her ability to shed pieces of her mind into separate entities to repress into an entity outside herself. Which, yes, sounds a lot like DID (or at least some fictional portrayals, I'm not a psychologist). This sounds horrifying from a tulpamancy standpoint, since it would be like creating something that should be an extremely close friend but is instead something made from pure agony. However, it's pretty much shown to have been the only way Sakura (and all of her other tulpa analogues) could recover from the immense trauma she had been through, and given the state of her mind it was probably at least implied that it was a subconscious decision (I don't recall, it has been a while since I read this).


This piece does cause massive problems for Sakura, mostly through mental problems up to and including possessing her and not letting Sakura go free. However, despite being a poster child for DID rather than "being like a tulpa," even this piece of Sakura is something she eventually has to acknowledge is part of her. Once this happens, even this trauma induced darkness becomes much more like a tulpa. Mischievous, certainly, but outright helpful, friendly, and even shown to love her host.

So ultimately all of that spoilered voodoo probably just reinforces the idea of tulpas as a coping mechanism, depending on how you choose to see it.


Like real life tulpas, these analogues are not shown to be able to affect the world outside Sakura's head on their own (again, if I remember this right, it has been a year since I read this). This comes with the pretty huge caveat that the world of Naruto comes prebuilt with magic ("Jutsus" using "chakra") as a reproducible phenomenon. Including creating copies of yourself (right down to it have the same brain you do and sharing memories), and a technique that allows you to change your appearance. Yeah, this is absolutely used to allow the analogues to interact with the real world in a way much more mystical than what most would want to consider in real life. You could count this as a negative point on how tulpas are portrayed (as in "negatively impacts how realistic it is"), but I don't because the magic used to do this is not particularly a power the tulpa itself gives Sakura. Plus magic, you know, actually exists for characters other than the "tulpamancer" in this universe, which personally makes me see it as a wash.


Unfortunately, less forgivable of a "negative points" scenario is

that this is not portrayed as a separate sapience, necessarily. All of the analogues are parts of Sakura, though lacking the other parts of Sakura, they do behave very differently from her. It's possible that you could very well argue that this is how tulpas work in real life, but seeing as this is no place to launch such conjecture I will only raise this as a mark of forgiveness against this negative, if not a totally strong one.



Unfortunately, other aspects of the mechanics of it all are possibly even worse.

Sakura's other pieces exist in a default state of "being within Sakura." That is to say, they don't have totally persistent existences. In fact sections that show the use of this power often casually end with the pieces merging back into Sakura's mind. Yeah. Ouch. You could choose to take this as similar to how some people describe tulpas as "going somewhere else," if you wanted to be charitable. With the exception of the temporarily evil analogue mentioned above (who is a special case), none of the analogues ever show any aversion to the idea of being merged. They also can always be brought back, and often are, but they don't exactly come back with memories of adventures in wonderlands. They don't exist (except in the sense that they are part of Sakura, and Sakura exists) in the meantime. It could be far too close to dissipation for some hosts, I'm sure, though I never felt any distress over it at the time of reading obviously (I didn't know what tulpas were).



Then there comes (part of) the explanation of the relevance of the spoiler in the list of universes that are used in the fic.

It's another point that isn't really in the fic's favor tulpa-wise I'm afraid. Sakura's power to create these analogues is entirely supernatural. Furthermore, it isn't from the type of magic that already exists in the main universe of the fic (Naruto). The ability to split her mind like this is eventually explained as her having Divine Blood manifesting from having a Goddess from Ah! My Goddess! somewhere in her family tree. The power is even called "creating an Aspect," though this term is used before the reveal. No one else in Naruto's universe can create our tulpa-analogue in this fic but Sakura, meaning it doesn't even line up with the tulpa from mysticism! Other than the fact that we've had examples of mystical tulpa analogues listed in this thread so far, there's no justifying this from psychological point of view on tulpa-phenomena, which means this more than anything kills the idea of Sakura's powers being "exactly like a tulpa in all but name."



Ultimately I feel Time Braid contains by far one of the closest analogues to the tulpa phenomena. You have to be willing to accept quite a few caveats, but most of these are pretty minor. It does make it a matter of interpretation though. I have more but this post is already super massive, so… I’ll save them for another time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the blue guy from the gorilas clint eastwood music video is pretty close to a tulpa at least more so than an alternitive personality mentioning seeing with your mind that he's not after russels body so much as the the music and that's all in your head


Also in the time thief the auditours take human form and eventualy become more and more human and to them insane I imagine thise might be close to what would happen if a tulpa was to be emontionless and logical(auditour tulpa sums it up) and then exposed to the hosts emotions and such first hand through possession and such


And the other anthropomorphized personifacations are kind of like the shared tulpas in the discworld such as death and the hogfather

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous

Yami Yugi from Yu-gi-oh... Is very much like a tulpa I think (a psycological one atleast).

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Ren from Dramatical Murder.


Guy is a separate personality in the main character's head who transferred consciousness into a robotic dog. He was unintentionally created to protect the main character from going crazy. He eventually has a will of his own, and he and the main character have sexy times in his head because Dramatical Murder is pretty smutty.

[align=center]“From my rotting body,

flowers shall grow

and I am in them

and that is eternity.”[/align]

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...