Created By: Koveras on April 16, 2012 Last Edited By: Koveras on April 18, 2012
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Tinfoil Hat

The visual shorthand to establish a paranoid character.

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Splitting from this YKTTW.

When a writer wants to establish a character as a Conspiracy Theorist, a Crazy Survivalist, or another kind of paranoid weirdo, they usually give them hats made out of tinfoil to wear, ostensibly to protect themselves from The Government's Mind Control rays.

As The Other Wiki can tell you, however, aluminum actually has very little shielding effect and covering just the top of the head with it leaves the rest of the body (including the bottom of the head) "unprotected", anyway. So whoever is wearing it must be... funny in the head to begin with.

For when a Tinfoil Hat actually does protect the Properly Paranoid wearer, see also Fantastic Radiation Shielding. This trope includes both simply paranoid and properly paranoid examples.

Examples:

Film -- Animated
  • The Futurama movie Into the Wild Green Yonder featured a cult-like group of hobos called the Legion of Madfellows who all wore such hats to prevent the Dark One from reading their thoughts, and indoctrinated Fry into their practices.[[hottip:*:Fry's hat in particular would be in different shapes for different scenes (it's foil, after all), depending on the occasion. E.g. it became a stereotypical police officer hat when he was posing as a security guard.]] They were, of course, Properly Paranoid.

Literature
  • In the early Artemis Fowl books, the paranoid centaur Foaly always wears a tin-foil hat.
  • The novel Idiots In The Machine by Edward Savio portrays a character who believes that tin foil keeps harmful gamma rays away and becomes a media sensation, marketing a successful line of foil hats to Chicago.
  • In The Dark Tower, Randall Flagg has one of these. Allegedly, it actually works against most forms of mind control magic, but it doesn't work on the villain he's facing, Mordred.
  • Inverted in The Salvation War, where demonic mind control and illusion powers can be blocked by foil and the story gets much mileage out of this, including the line "There will always be eccentrics who deny that the tin foil hat is absolutely essential to prevent baldricks taking over your mind."

Live Action TV
  • Eastenders character Joe Wicks was briefly portrayed constructing and wearing his own tin-foil hat as part of a storyline which saw him suffering from schizophrenia.
  • In an episode of Stroker & Hoop entitled Tinfoiled again (a.k.a. Star Crossed Livers), Stroker wore a tin foil hat to protect himself from being psychically manipulated by Ron Howard.
  • In The X-Files, The Lone Gunmen wear them occasionally. Also, a policeman suggests they all get one in their origin episode when he realizes what kind of kooks he is dealing with.
  • On an episode of Fringe Walter wears a tinfoil hat at Massive Dynamic headquarters to defend against mindreading/Mind Control projects, and convinces Astrid to do the same. In context, it's actually a credible concern.
  • NYPD Blue: While on desk duty Sipowicz gets a call from a psychotic Conspiracy Theorist. Sipowicz suggest (in as close to Sincerity Mode as possible) that he make a tin foil hat in order to block the rays the government is allegedly sending to his head.
  • In an episode of The Finder the Finder wears an aluminum foil hat. The client (Hodgins from Bones) mocks him, but it really does help block the government from interfering with your brain waves so you can move.

Music
  • In Doctor Steel's web video, "Reality Engineering", Steel is shown wearing a tinfoil hat when he's labeled a conspiracy nut.

Video Games
  • The tin-foil hat was an April Fool's Day item created by Blizzard to parody player paranoia about their character information being searchable on the World of Warcraft armory

Web Original
  • SJ Games used to (still does?) run a site cataloging weird things you might find in a Secret Government Warehouse. One of them was a crate of instruction booklets on how to make a tin-foil hat. They were all stamped "obsolete" and there was a note in the inventory saying that the mind-control system had been upgraded since printing, so tin-foil hats were no longer effective.

Western Animation
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, "Brother's Little Helper", Bart becomes paranoid after taking an ADD drug called Focusin, leading him to believe that Major League Baseball is spying on him and begins donning a tin foil hat. At the end of the episode, Bart turns out to be right when he shoots an MLB satellite out of the sky.
  • On Regular Show, Mordecai and Rigby make foil hats when using Pops' '80s era cell phones, after he warned them that they cause tumors.

Will go under Cranium Coverings.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • April 16, 2012
    TrustBen
    On an episode of Fringe Walter wears a tinfoil hat at Massive Dynamic headquarters to defend against mindreading/Mind Control projects, and convinces Astrid to do the same. In context, it's actually a credible concern.
  • April 16, 2012
    elwoz
    Web Original: SJ Games used to (still does?) run a site cataloging weird things you might find in a Secret Government Warehouse. One of them was a crate of instruction booklets on how to make a tin-foil hat. They were all stamped "obsolete" and there was a note in the inventory saying that the mind-control system had been upgraded since printing, so tin-foil hats were no longer effective.
  • April 16, 2012
    Stratadrake
    If we're going to have two tropes relating to aluminum headgear, this one needs to be called Tinfoil Hat Of Paranoia.
  • April 16, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Where is the second one?
  • April 16, 2012
    Generality
    The Futurama movie Into the Wild Green Yonder featured a cult-like group of hobos called the Legion of Madfellows who all wore such hats to prevent the Dark One from reading their thoughts, and indoctrinated Fry into their practices. They were, of course, Properly Paranoid.
  • April 16, 2012
    TonyG
    On Regular Show, Mordecai and Rigby make foil hats when using Pops' '80s era cell phones, after he warned them that they cause tumors.
  • April 16, 2012
    JonnyB
    In Doctor Steel's web video, "Reality Engineering", Steel is shown wearing a tinfoil hat when he's labeled a conspiracy nut.
  • April 16, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Does This Count?
    • NYPD Blue: While on desk duty Sipowicz gets a call from a psychotic Conspiracy Theorist. Sipowicz suggest (in as close to Sincerity Mode as possible) that he make a tin foil hat in order to block the rays the government is allegedly sending to his head.
  • April 16, 2012
    Maxaxle
    @Generality: It's probably worth noting that Fry's hat in particular would be in different shapes for different scenes (it's foil, after all), depending on the occasion. Ex: It became a stereotypical police officer hat when he was posing as a security guard.
  • April 16, 2012
    Stratadrake
    @Koveras: The other YKTTW.
  • April 17, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^^ Yes, it does.

    ^ The other YKTTW is not in particular about tinfoil hats but about any scientifically improbable radiation shielding, while this is about the symbolism of tinfoil hats ("tinfoil hat = paranoia" and "if paranoid, then wear tinfoil hat").
  • April 17, 2012
    Arivne
    When this trope is launched, remember to delete the redirect Tinfoil Hat -> Conspiracy Theories.
  • April 17, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Yeah.
  • April 18, 2012
    Koveras
    Hats?
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