What makes a living weapon? Well, first of all, living, obviously. But like normal weapons, living weapons are designed solely to hurt and kill others. They aren’t soldiers, who can take a variety of orders, or assassins, who may choose to kill in secret. Living weapons use their powers for one reason: destroying their targets.

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1) Xenomorphs, Alien

As revealed in Prometheus, the Xenomorphs are a goo-based bio-weapon that the Engineers use to kill people they don’t like. The goo takes DNA from any living creature it comes in contact with, then turns on the evolution at max speed in order to become a super-deadly, often phallic-looking version of the creature, with no desire but to kill everything it sees.

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2) Doomsday, DC Comics

Superman’s home planet of Krypton was apparently pretty awful back in its prehistory days, but it was good for creating the ultimate killer. Basically, the evil but hilariously named scientist Bertron kept dropping off babies, who either died due to the planet’s insanely harsh environment, or was eaten by Krypton’s many predators. Bertron kept cloning new babies from the old babies’ remains, which meant 1) each baby got tougher and stronger, and 2) each baby got more bitter. The end result was Doomsday, a basically unkillable killing machine that has zero plans other than finding life, and then punching it until it dies, repeated for all eternity.

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3) Wolverine, Marvel Comics

Over the years, the Weapon X program has turned (or tried to turn) countless people into super-soldiers and assassins. But they only tried to make one unthinking, unfeeling killing machine, and that was when they got their hands on Logan. Of course, they gave him his adamantium-coated skeleton, but as opposed to many of the project’s other subjects, they brainwashed the hell out of him, so that when Logan escaped, he basically wandered the Canadian wilderness as a wild animal until he was found by Alpha Flight and rehabilitated.

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4) Chise, Saikano

Better known in America as She, The Ultimate Weapon, Saikano is a manga and anime from the early ‘00s about a Japanese schoolgirl who is also humanity’s last defense against an unknown enemy in a mysterious war. We also don’t know who decided to implant a high school student with metal wings and giant weapons, but we do know Chise did not volunteer for the job, but was selected solely because her body was determined to be the most compatible with the crazy weapon system grafted onto the body. As she uses her immense destructive power to shoot down enemy combatants, she also loses her humanity. (Saikano is a bit of a bummer, if you were wondering.)

5) Iron Fist, Marvel Comics

Seeing as Iron Fist is usually called “The Living Weapon”, it would be kind of ridiculous not to include Danny Rand here. Admittedly, he was trained to be a martial artist in the mystical city of K’un-L’un, and given a chance to battle the dragon named Shou-Lao the Undying in order to gain the power of the Iron Fist. He won, gaining the ability to basically know every martial art, focus his chi to the point where he can kill people nearby without even touching them, and punch a speeding train and win. While certainly not all martial artists are living weapons, it seems that the power of the Iron Fist is used solely — or almost solely — for kicking people and things’ asses, so I say he counts.

6) River Tam, Firefly

Another product of another secret government project to turn young girls into killers, River Tam underwent a mess of procedures in order to kill her into an assassin. Now, as mentioned above, most assassins still have enough presence of mind to make their own decisions, to make murder look like an accident, to use poison, etc... which is why Black Widow isn’t on this list. But the Academy operated on River’s brain several times, basically ruining her amygdala, in order to remove her emotions, erase her memory, and most of all, make her more susceptible to following orders. An unthinking assassin is just a killer, and thus basically a living weapon in my book. Luckily, thanks to her brother and the crew of the Serenity, she got better (and kept her asskicking skills, too).

7) The Manchurian Candidate

Captured during the Korean War, Sgt. Raymond Shaw is brainwashed by the Chinese into being their unwitting agent once he returns to the U.S. and his prominent political family (with no memory of being captured, of course). He’s been programmed to follow any orders whenever he sees his trigger, the Queen of Diamonds, including assassinating a presidential candidate with a sniper rifle. But seeing as literally anyone can order Shaw to do anything when the Queen of Diamonds pops up — which makes for an awkward round of solitaire at one point — he’s much more a weapon for those nefarious Communists than an agent.

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8) Nitro, Marvel Comics

This villain has the power to make his body explode — nothing more and nothing less — and his body reforms after each explosion (although it does requires Nitro to expend a great deal of energy, so it’s not like he can just keep exploding forever). There’s nothing else he can do with this power other than destroy things… or at least he’s not smart enough to do anything else with it other than destroy things, which is presumably why he wastes his time working as an assassin for various smarter supervillains. Nitro’s real claim to fame was exploding next to a schoolbus full of children, which started Marvel’s Civil War. Thanks, jerk.

9) Baby 5, One Piece

This lesser villainess in the hit manga and anime One Piece may be the most appropriate entry on this list. As an eater of one of the Devil Fruits, which give people one of a variety of strange powers, Baby 5 has the ability to turn herself and any part of her body into a weapon. Her arms can become swords, her legs guns and rocket launchers, and she can even turn into a living explosive missile, if she wants. In addition to being able to turn into weapons, she also carries a gatling gun and flamethrower around, which is ridiculous give her powers, but Baby-5 was talked into buying them by a random salesperson. Sadly, Baby 5 is pathetically eager to please anyone who shows her the least bit of attention or affection, which indicates she’s not as much evil as she is misguided.

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10) X-23, Marvel Comics

Much like Wolverine — okay, exactly like Wolverine, since she’s a female clone of Marvel’s favorite mutant — X-23 was designed by the Weapon X program to be the perfect killing machine. She has all of Wolverine’s powers, including his healing factor, his claws and an adamantium-coated skeleton; unlike Wolverine, she was designed and trained from birth to do nothing but kill people when she was ordered to. Shockingly, X-23 eventually escapes, joins the X-Men and becomes a hero, also exactly like Wolverine.

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11) Tierna, Star Trek: Voyager

This alien snuck aboard the Voyager by sending out a distress call and getting picked up. Even though the crew didn’t really trust him, getting on board was all he needed — he was a suicide bomber, who pulled a “detonation needle” out from under a fake toenail, stuck himself with it, and blew up. The Voyager was badly damaged, and the rest of Tierna’s fellow Kazon aliens were able to take over the ship.

12) X-Bomb Betty, DC Comics

I’ll let ComicVine describe this ludicrous character from Legionnaires who has only appeared in a single comic: “Legion Reject who could generate an explosion equal to a 150 million megaton X-Bomb. She was rejected due to the fact that she could only use this ability once.”

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Contact the author at rob@io9.com.