->''"Your head will swell up like a watermelon... You'll gain about 100 pounds in 2 hours... You'll grow claws. Big ones. Then you notice six huge hairy tits swollen up on your back... you go blind... your body will turn to wax... they'll have to put you in a wheelbarrow... and when you squeal for help, you'll sound like a raccoon."''
-->-- ''Literature/FearAndLoathingInLasVegas'' (the movie), a description of what will happen if you eat a pineal gland.

Because the human pineal gland is buried deep in the fleshy bits of the brain and was the last part of the endocrine system to be understood, it's picked up a bunch of mystical baggage. Often it's associated with telepathy and/or enlightenment; sometimes it's referred to as a "ThirdEye". To be fair, Wiki/TheOtherWiki does say that in nonmammal vertebrates the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineal_gland pineal gland has cells similar to those in the retina]]. In some reptiles, fish, and amphibians, it even [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parietal_eye connects to an external opening and has light-sensing properties]] (which serve to regulate physiological day/night cycles rather than to perceive).

The pituitary gland can also be used in a similar way, possibly because writers don't know the difference. Even cerebrospinal fluid is sometimes treated as a liquid equivalent, thanks to the vampiric implications and the chance to have victims of CSF-theft actually survive their loss.

Often this runs in tandem with NinetyPercentOfYourBrain. The TropeMaker is none other than Rene Descartes, who believed that the pineal gland was the "seat of the soul", and the connection point between mind and body. He wasn't the only one, as both [[ScienceMarchesOn scientists]] and occultists were quite enthusiastic about the idea for awhile.

Today, scientists like [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Strassman Rick Strassman]] theorize that the [[ThisIsYourPremiseOnDrugs dimethyltryptamine]] naturally present in the human body [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethyltryptamine#Speculation may originate from the pineal gland]] and be responsible for dreaming.

The human pineal gland's accepted function is to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleeping patterns, plus a tiny amount of antioxidant. Mess with the thing, and the most you'll get as a result is insomnia, not ESP.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The Diclonii in ''Manga/ElfenLied'' start their lives as humans with a huge pineal gland. If their psychic "Vector" arms come in contact with a normal human's pineal gland, that human will only create Diclonii when they reproduce.

* In ''ComicBook/TopTen'', an alien's diet is based on the chemicals secreted by the pineal gland, requiring a round of brain eating once a year. Police initially think it's just a calendar-themed serial killer. This assumption is helped by the fact [[DisposableSexWorker all the past victims are prostitutes]].
* A [[UsefulNotes/TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] {{Superman}} comic had Superman exposed to radiation that caused his pineal gland to develop into a literal third eye. Of course, this was ''exactly'' what he needed to defeat the villain.
* A [[UsefulNotes/TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] ''Comicbook/{{Supergirl}}'' story had her visiting the future in response to a call for help from the ComicBook/LegionOfSuperHeroes. To get her up to date on the pending crisis, they used a future-tech device to download the info into her "'Third Eye' pineal gland."
* The PsychoSerum in ''ComicBook/VForVendetta'' [[ArcNumber (batch 5)]] was stated to be pituarin-pinealin.

* In ''Film/FearAndLoathingInLasVegas'', the protagonists convince a police officer that there's a plot to murder suburbanites for their pineal glands. This later turns out to be true (sort of).
* In the [[Creator/HPLovecraft Lovecraftian]] movie ''Film/FromBeyond'', the mad scientist stimulates his pineal gland, allowing him to see into other dimensions. Freshly put to use, it grows to the extent that it pops out of his head on a stalk. To the further amusement of anyone familiar with brain anatomy, as the stalk extends in front, yet the pineal gland is near the ''back'' of the human brain.
* In ''Film/Plan9FromOuterSpace'', stimulating the pineal and pituitary glands of corpses turns them into zombies.
* In ''Film/TheLeechWoman'', the juice from the pineal gland combined with a certain type of pollen forms an effective (but temporary) FountainOfYouth.
* In the 1959 monster movie ''Film/TheAlligatorPeople'', secretions from alligator pituitary glands cause rapid regeneration that repairs injured humans' wounds, only to cause them to sprout scales within a year of treatment.

* In one of the ''Literature/{{Lensman}}'' books, an alien doctor was able to make the (human) hero ''regenerate'' by stimulating his pineal gland.
* Averted in the fourth ''Literature/ArtemisFowl'' book. Opal Koboi has a human pituitary gland grafted to her brain, not for any supernatural purpose, but so that the growth hormone it produces will cause her to gradually grow larger, in order to pass off as a human (at the time of the story, she is pretending to be a child). It also has the unintentional side effect of draining her magic for some reason, though she is unaware of it until she finally runs out at the worst possible time.
* In Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/{{Firestarter}}'', one of these glands is a seat to Charlie [=McGee=]'s power.
* In Creator/HPLovecraft's story "Literature/FromBeyond", a MadScientist creates a machine which stimulates the pineal gland, allowing humans to see ''really clearly''. Apparently "fresh air" and "blue sky" are made out of amoeba-like monstrosities, and some unspeakable, unseen things stalk other lifeforms, and consume them into nothingness in seconds. This is the main risk for humans who open their eyes into this true reality, because what's actually going on is that they're seeing into normally-invisible dimensions that intersect with ours. The danger is that people who gain the ability to see into those dimensions also [[OhCrap become visible to the things that live there]].
* In the SF short story ''The Rose'' by Charles L. Harness, the two protagonists (a ballerina/opera singer and a composer) "suffer" from an odd form of cancer: their pineal glands grow rather impressively, forming a pair of "horns" which curve around and over the brain before bursting out of the skull (but not skin) at the temples. They also get a kind of hunchback from a tumour that appears to contain brain tissue [[spoiler:it does, and if the skin over it gets split, [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything it can engorge and tumesce from blood flow]], although this may kill the person in question]]. They get a weird kind of projective telepathy apparently based on musical and colour theory, and spot patterns that no-one else can see.
* René Barjavel's ''Le Voyageur Imprudent'' treats the matter slightly more realistically. In the far future, a subspecies of humanity that specializes in improved eyesight has three eyes on stalks. One of them is the pineal gland, which has (re)gained full functionality as a visual organ.
* In ''Literature/EthanOfAthos'' by Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold, the Cetagandan Empire figures out how to bioengineer telepathy; their starting point is a homeless woman with a mutated pineal gland.
* In ''Literature/PrincipiaDiscordia'' (and thus also in ''Literature/{{Illuminatus}}'') the pineal gland is the organ that allows communication with Eris.
** If you have trouble activating your Pineal, try the appendix which works almost as well.
* In ''Literature/TheCompanyNovels'', the artificial hormone that makes cyborgs TheAgeless is called "Pineal Tribrantine 3."
* In the novel ''Return to Doomstar'', one of the planets visited by the protagonists has FunctionalMagic. In order to use it, the existing settlers compulsively cannibalize one another for their pineal glands, and attempt to do so to their guests. [[WouldHurtAChild The absence of children is conspicuously noted even before the reveal]].

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* This is a running gag in ''Series/TheMiddleman'':
** A minor character gets his pineal gland surgically removed and gains the ability to see and hear ghosts.
** Another minor character has his pineal gland severed in a freak limbo accident and gains a telepathic link with his MirrorUniverse EvilTwin (who also had his pineal gland severed in a freak accident).
** When the main characters encounter a flying fish that turns people into zombies, the antidote to the zombification is made from the fish's pineal fluid.
** In the unproduced 13th episode, the villain's plan requires that he steal a number of pineal glands from people or creatures with mystical power.
* In the ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' episode "Film/TheLeechWoman", the pineal gland can be pierced with a small implement (killing the victim, of course) and its secretions mixed with a flower pollen to induce [[FountainOfYouth artificial de-aging]].
* The pineal gland is implied to be the source of superpowers in ''Series/{{Heroes}}''; it's also implied to be what Sylar goes after when he opens up his victims' skulls.
* In ''Series/TheGirlFromTomorrow'', the pituitary gland has a telepathic function in humans.
* ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' had an episode where a serial killer was killing women and stealing their pituitary glands. [[MadScientist Walter Bishop]] deduced that it was related to a project he worked on for the government involving hyper-aging test-tube soldiers. The killer was one of the hyper-aging test subjects, and he was using the pituitary glands to maintain his age. Otherwise he'd grow old and die really fast.
* In ''Series/AmericanGothic1995'' Lucas mentions the supposed importance of the pineal gland/third eye. Yancy then stabs him in the area in an attempt to kill him.
* In ''Series/{{Earth 2}}'' the changes to Uly's system after his Terrian healing were suspected to have started in his pineal gland. Julia, his doctor, lied about it to protect him and the matter was quietly dropped.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' flirts with this trope in "Morpheus", in which the danger-of-the-week is a parasite that puts people to sleep and then eventually kills them by causing aneurysms near their pineal gland. They eventually figure out that the parasite is feeding on melatonin -- which is what the pineal gland ''actually'' produces -- so in the end it's more an example of Pineal Normality.
* In ''Series/TheXFiles'' the Black Cancer (or Oil), an alien life-form capable of taking control of its host, nests around the pineal body. It's mentioned briefly in ''Terma'' but never elaborated upon. Interestingly, the most prominent place the Oil is shown to reside is in the eyes. Cue WildMassGuessing.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/PrometheanTheCreated'', the pineal gland is the source of the ectoplasmic humor that sustains the Ulgans. The pineal gland isn't actually special in humans, though -- in humans, the humors are metaphorical, not literal, and there's no such thing as an ectoplasmic humor, because the theory of humors was about physical and mental traits, not spiritual.
* ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'' has a [[PrestigeClass legacy]] in which on the first attainment the pineal gland fully develops into a black eye that pops out of the back of the Mage's skull. It enables them to have 360° vision, see the past and prophecy the future.
* In ''Clanbook: Malkavian'' for ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'' there are a few references made to the pineal gland.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}: Thaumatology'' one of the ways to draw on the [[MagiBabble hermetic decan of Alleborith]], associated with "pure" magic, is to use a pineal gland.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Aberrant}}'', Novas draw their power from the Node, a part of their brain that grows in size when their power is awakened and grows further as they become more powerful. While no mention of it being the pineal gland has been made, it is implied to follow this rationale.

* In ''Videogame/KingdomOfLoathing'', there used to be a quest where you had to [[TwentyBearAsses collect the pineal glands]] of zombies to make a vaccine. Zombie Pineal Glands still have a purpose: they're a small but essential component of a ''literal'' NinjaPirateZombieRobot. The event ended a ''long'' time ago, and for a good while pineal glands were extremely expensive in the Mall. Eventually, the Item of the Month known as "the Deck of Every Card" gave players a way to fight zombies from the event, giving a new way for pineal glands to enter the Kingdom.
* Averted in the ''VisualNovel/{{Ever 17}}'' where there's a brief discussion of the pineal gland and how it relates to the third eye, but it's dismissed as nonsense. They even [[ShownTheirWork mention Descartes' theories about it and the evolutionary history of it as a light sensitive organ]].
* ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilGunSurvivor'' shows how Tyrants are made - their key ingredient is a hormone secreted in the pineal gland of adolescent boys feeling extreme terror or stress. Umbrella's answer for harvesting such: remove the gland ''without anesthetic''. Needless to say, [[MoralEventHorizon it works]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{Postal}}'': Apocalypse Weekend, when you go to the insane asylum, you find scrawlings within that detail plans to eat the inmates pineal glands with a fork. These show up in several areas, so its not quite clear whether the inmates, the staff, or both were planning on harvesting the inmates.
* ''Videogame/TeamFortress2'':
** In the Fancy vs. Nasty update, the Fists of Steel description says:
--> While boxing gloves were made to cushion your well-placed uppercuts, steel fists were made to beat the snot out of your enemies' pineal glands. "What are pineal glands?", you might ask! We at Mann Co have no idea ourselves, but what we do know is that these babies are made of freaking steel!
** In the comic "Old Wounds", Medic injects a whale's pineal gland into Sniper's brain stem, and dismisses Sniper's vision of [[spoiler: going to Heaven and meeting his adoptive parents again]] as a mere hallucination.

* In ''Webcomic/{{Spinnerette}}'', all SuperEmpowering [[{{Macguffin}} Cherenkov-Kirby reactors]] are made from the pineal gland of Doctor Zhang, aka Ultra, the first superhero.

%%[[folder:Web Originals]]
%%* Music/DoctorSteel's PSA, "Imagination."

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the Dr. Orpheus' premier episode in ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'', Dr. Venture's LotusEaterMachine "The Joy Can" operates by creating a direct link to the subject's pineal gland.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' Dr. Zoidburg cured the Professor's "yetism" by feeding him the pineal gland of a yeti, the explanation being that it produced a counter-toxin to the one in the yeti's claws.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Descartes claimed the pineal gland was the connection between the mind and the body; this is probably the TropeMaker (as well as CompletelyMissingThePoint of the problem he was trying to solve). There has been some debate about whether he actually thought this, or was simply giving it as an entirely arbitrary answer to the continual questions of a particularly obnoxious princess he was tutoring.
* The pineal gland was the last endocrine gland to be "explained", so TruthInTelevision.
* Some fish, amphibians, and reptiles have an actual [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parietal_eye third eye]] associated with the pineal gland. They probably can't see much, though.