Brainwash Residue YKTTW Discussion

Brainwash Residue
(permanent link) added: 2010-11-21 22:53:17 sponsor: Daisanji (last reply: 2010-11-27 19:48:05)

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All the goodness of Mind Rape... with the bitter aftertaste!

When somebody is Brainwashed and gets better, but somehow part of the programming sticks and it shows by the character acquiring new personally traits, ticks and/or quirks. For example, Alice is a Charm Person who casts a spell on Bob to make him fall in love with her. Bob somehow breaks the spell, but whenever he looks at Alice now, he blushes and can't quite explain why. Maybe he's falling in love for real, but who knows for sure.

This can be used as a Plot Device to show that the character hasn't quite fully-recovered from his brainwashing. Maybe he has, but the idea of being somebody Not Himself makes him change... probably for the better. Can become a Family-Unfriendly Aesop when brainwashing is the only way for a character to change.

Also comes in other flavors:

  • Laser-Guided Amnesia-flavor: Either by magic or any other mind-altering means (Time Travel, Reset Button, etc.). Alice makes Bob forget that he was ever in love with her, but somehow Bob still retains faint, lingering sentiments for her.
  • Shapeshifting-flavor: Either involuntary or self-induced. Bob gets transformed into a frog. After being brought back to normal, he retains his newly-acquired taste for bugs. Usually used as a gag.

Compare and contrast with More Than Mind Control, where the character more or less knows that he is/was being manipulated, but goes along anyway.

Anime and Manga
  • In R.O.D. the TV, Anita becomes a bookworm like her sisters after she gets a part of The Gentleman's memories. Take note, Anita used to hate books.
    • Or perhaps she just got a better understanding of Yomiko Readman and books in general.

Comic Books
  • This happens to Mara Jade when Palpatine dies.
  • This was the reason Bronze Tiger always declined to lead the Suicide Squad: he was afraid the brainwashing he received at the hands of the League of Assassins could kick in any time.

  • In G.I. Joe, the Baroness is kept under supervision because they can't remove the mind-controlling nanomites just yet. Prior to that, she is shown to have retained some of her "training" by being able to operate a gun pod.
  • The main plot point of Inception uses a planted "idea" to change a person's outlook in life. This could be for the better (Robert Fischer views his father in a better light and avoids a possible energy monopoly with his company) or worse (Mal commits suicide thinking the reality she's living in is still a dream).

  • The Shapeshifting flavor happens in Discworld, although it isn't involuntary, and Granny Weatherwax only "Borrows" an animal's body for some purpose, sharing it with the real animal for a short time. But after she's exited the animal's body, she still retains impulses from whatever shape she borrowed. For example, she stopped using owls to see at night because "You ends up for days trying to twist your head right round," and after she's borrowed an entire beehive, she declares, "I wantzzz a bunzzch of flowerzz, a pot of honey, and someone to szzzting."
  • In line with The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples. Demetrius, after he has been made to fall in love with Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream by Puck's magic, nevertheless still shows signs of lingering affection for Hermia when he refuses to hurl her off violently when she clings to him: "What should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead? Although I hate her, I'll not harm her so." (MND, III.ii.269-270)

Live-Action TV
  • In Heroes, Sylar is mind-wiped by Matt and replaced his memories with Nathan's. Unfortunately, all of Sylar's powers remain intact, including his intuitive aptitude, and gives this away by tuning a clock that was half a second late.
  • Happens in Warehouse13 after Leena is saved from being brainwashed by McPhearson.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lt. Barclay got a brain upgrade by some aliens, which went away after it was needed. He and Troi were in Ten-Forward and he saw a Chess game, moved a piece and said "Checkmate in three moves."
    Troi: "Reg, I didn't know you play chess."
    Barclay: "I don't."
  • Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets possessed by his Halloween costume (like everyone else), but afterwards he remembers a bunch of military training for no logical reason (other than scrappy upgrade).
  • Crichton from Farscape has Scorpius residue for ages after getting his chip removed (overlaps with Imaginary Enemy).
  • Happens in the original V miniseries. Diana has attempted to brainwash Julie Parish into being her slave. She fights off the brainwashing, mostly successfully, but occasionally catches herself using the wrong hand. In V: The Final Battle, Diana telepathically commands Julie and she has flashbacks to the brainwashing. Julie doesn't quite give in, but the internal struggle gives Diana a chance to escape.

Video Games
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, when Sora bids farewell to Hayner, Pence and Olette, he sheds a single tear but doesn't know why. Little does he know that he has Roxas' memories within him, and he remembers them as his friends in the virtual world.
  • Nier decides to save Kaine at the cost of his own existence in the final ending. When she comes to, she starts crying when she finds the flower Nier gave her.

Western Animation
  • In Ben 10: Alien Force, Albedo is an villain who copied Ben's appearance and Omnitrix. He also gained some of Ben's characteristics, like eating junk food. After having his Omnitrix broken, stuck with Ben's color-swapped form, and taken to prison, he shouts, "BRING ME CHILI FRIES!!!"
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