[[quoteright:192:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/illumunati01_8856.png]]
[[caption-width-right:192:You can't hide. [[note]]Image courtesy of @/{{Geoduck}}... who may or may not be one of Them.[[/note]]]]

->''"There '''was''' a [[WhoShotJFK magic bullet]]! It was forged by Illuminati mystics to prevent us from learning '''the truth!'''"''
-->--'''TheQuestion''', [[WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague in all of his glory]]

'''The''' AncientConspiracy. '''The''' OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness. '''''The''''' OneWorldOrder. Founded at the dawn of human history, if not earlier, they gather influence and wealth, spinning their webs of lies and deceit in the shadowy heights of society. Or maybe they're just a bunch of rich old men with pretensions of grandeur. Either way, when a creator of popular culture needs a name for this group, they often turn to "The Illuminati" and their "[[EyeMotifs Eye in]] [[PyramidPower the Pyramid]]" symbol; both have percolated their way into semi-general use, come across as refined and ancient, and (mostly) [[HistoricalDomainCharacter aren't under copyright]].

"Illuminati" means "[[LightIsNotGood the enlightened ones]]" in GratuitousLatin. There ''was'' a Masonic-like organization of intellectuals which was [[TropeNamer given this name]] in RealLife Bavaria in the 1770s, but it was eventually disbanded by the Bavarian government.[[note]]At least, ''officially''. (Cue spooky music)[[/note]] There are [[ConspiracyTheorist people]] who fervently believe the Illuminati survived this purge, orchestrated TheFrenchRevolution (as part of their OneWorldOrder efforts), and still exist, very much as described above, but... this really isn't the place to discuss it; go check out Wiki/{{Wikipedia}}'s [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illuminati article]].

This name is bandied about a ''lot'' over in the WildMassGuess department. See also TheKnightsTemplar.
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!!Examples:
[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime And Manga ]]

* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' has [[BigBad Father]], the Homunculi, and [[spoiler:[[TheGovernment Central Command]] actually running Amestris]] in a manner that fashions this trope in every way except without the name. The Homunculi are {{Anthropomorphic Personification}}s of the SevenDeadlySins [[spoiler:whose source of life is cultivated from a direct result of human character emotions and vices]], and their symbol is the Ouroboros. [[spoiler:Central, headed by King Bradley (who's actually [[UnstoppableRage Wrath]]), have controlled the economy, media, military, and politics of the nation, cultivated FantasticRacism, and used war propaganda, all to annex lands at central points to set the stage for Father's [[AncientConspiracy Ancient]] EvilPlan.]] It turns out that [[spoiler:Father even ''founded'' Amestris by teaching a group of people alchemy, which they used to grow into a powerful and prosperous nation - but secretly blocked them from using its true source, the energy released from the earth's movement underground (''[[ManipulativeBastard which he even included in his teachings!]]''), through a series of underground tubes which ended with him and instead forced them [[PoweredByAForsakenChild to use the energy of his Philosopher's Stone and all the human souls trapped within]].]] And what is Father's driving purpose, exactly? [[spoiler:[[SatanicArchetype To conquer God]].]]
* They have appeared in ''Manga/BlueExorcist'' and look to becoming recurring villains...if not up there with Gehenna and Satan.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comics ]]

* In MarvelComics, this was the name of a [[ComicBook/TheIlluminati secret alliance]] between influential superheroes - ComicBook/IronMan, [[ComicBook/FantasticFour Reed Richards]], [[ComicBook/{{X-Men}} Professor X]], Namor the SubMariner, Comicbook/DoctorStrange, and [[TheInhumans Black Bolt]] (they tried to recruit the ComicBook/BlackPanther, but well, he was able to read the next sentence in this paragraph). They're actually a subversion, however, as their goals were to protect the world, not rule it, and their secretiveness eventually came back to bite them repeatedly (see WorldWarHulk, SecretInvasion, and even ComicBook/CivilWar, all in which [[NotSoOmniscientCouncilOfBickering the ideological differences between the members end up highlighted by measures taken on by at least the more prominent players]]).
** And during the ''ComicBook/DarkReign'' StoryArc, NormanOsborn forms an evil version of the Illuminati called the Cabal, composed of himself, DoctorDoom, [[ComicBook/{{X-Men}} Emma Frost]], ComicBook/{{Loki}}, TheHood, and the SubMariner - who, as mentioned above, is also a member of the good Illuminati. ''At the same time''. [[TrueNeutral He doesn't see the difference]].
** It's important to note that the Marvel guys have given subtle nods that they know about the connotations of the name. Actions have been taken by some members, most often chiefly Iron Man, in certain storylines such as the three listed above, which were not only disagreed with by at least one fellow member on principle, but also would call into question for readers whether they were playing this trope straight. Also, Iron Man says once to Maria Hill when remarking on this group and referring to it by name that ďat least thatís what I self-deprecatingly call our little world-saving group,Ē giving clear hint that only he uses the name. Put this in perspective. The only member of the "good guy Illuminati" that ever used the name was the snarky/humorous member of the team who's led questionable acts in the plots that developed after each of its meetings, and even he readily admits it's self-deprecating humor.
** Also notable to say that Black Panther refused the invitation to join because he ''knew'' that the group's extremely secretive nature left them doomed to fail if they ever disagreed on anything.
* In DCComics, the Illuminati hails from as far back as the days of Atlantis, has a covert hand in government affairs worldwide, and has been led by VandalSavage from its birth to the modern day.
* Mentioned in ''Comicbook/FromHell'', along with a number of other secret societies, though the Masons take center stage.
** Creator/AlanMoore used a lot of Illuminati symbology in ''Comicbook/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'' too.
** There's Illuminati symbolism in ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'' too (Ozymandias anyone?); either Alan Moore is a conspiracy theorist himself or he... KNOWS SOMETHING!

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Fiction ]]

* [[spoiler:The Council]] in ''Naruto Veangance Revelaitons'' turns out to be this.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* ''ElTopo''
* Someone is behind that weird sex club from ''Film/EyesWideShut''.
* ''Film/GSaviour'' features the Illuminati InNameOnly; instead of a secret society here they're the LaResistance opposing [[TheEmpire CONSENT]].
* ''Film/LaraCroftTombRaider''

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''{{Duumvirate}}'' is written from the point of view of the Illuminati themselves.
* Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's ''{{Illuminatus}}'' trilogy helped spread the name. The books are a MindScrew told by {{Unreliable Narrator}}s and infamous for giving complex explanations for the origins of the Illuminati, and then subverting them later on, sometimes with information that is equally wrong. It doesn't help that there have been several groups throughout history under that name. The original Illuminati, according to the book, are [[spoiler: Atlanteans who have been hiding under the Himalayas.]] Also there is a gigantic pyramid-squid.
* DanBrown uses the name in his various books, most prominently, in ''AngelsAndDemons''. Here, the Illuminati [[spoiler:are a secret society of scientists founded by Galileo Galilei to spread the Enlightenment (hence the name) and to oppose the reactionist Roman Catholic Church]]. Although they are thought to have been destroyed long ago, Langdon is drawn into a plot aiming to blow up the Vatican City, which he believes is the Illuminati's revenge. It turns out, [[spoiler:the Illuminati really ceased to exist and the whole crisis was orchestrated by a traitorous Church official (who had access to the seized Illuminati artifacts) to bring himself into power, and restore faith in Christianity to the world]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* The Series/{{Millennium}} Group became something of an {{expy}} for this in the last season, which was some distance from the original concept.
* [[spoiler: The Silence]] in ''Series/DoctorWho'' have been revealed to have been doing this to mankind for centuries.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music ]]

* {{Conspiracy Theorist}}s will have you believe that basically, any mainstream performer is either an Illuminati puppet or puppeteer.
** Particularly common targets for Illuminati accusations are {{JayZ}} and KanyeWest. Both of them [[AscendedMeme began playing it up in their music]] as a result.
* Music/GammaRay's ''No World Order'', particularly "Induction" and "Dethrone Tyranny".
* A major theme of TheKLF's work, especially "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeOlMBwtJ_g Justified And Ancient]]".

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Professional Wrestling ]]

* Wrestling/{{TNA}}'s latest PowerStable Immortal played this mostly straight at first, from the mass of foreshadowing to the ominous date of their takeover to the things they said to the quality of their regime's first show. The one subverting element was their "AncientConspiracy" is only ancient compared to the lifetime of most plots in wrestling. But then [[ConspiracyRedemption Fortune rebelled]] and Wrestling/JeffHardy tanked a pay-per-view. Immortal still remained, but their illusion of ominous power plummeted and would only continue to fade since.
* And of course the [[Wrestling/NewWorldOrder nWo]] who pretty much ran Wrestling/{{WCW}} for the better part of four years both in storyline and behind the scenes.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* Steve Jackson Games sells various conspiracy-themed card-games (collectable and otherwise) under the blanket name ''TabletopGame/{{Illuminati}}'', while their line of ''{{GURPS}}'' role-playing material have published a couple of Illuminati-related source-books. Some of it is obviously inspired by the ''{{Illuminatus}}'' book trilogy. The company has a trademark on a least one version of the "Eye in the Pyramid" design, and the other companies in this section often get official permission to use it. Particularly [[WildMassGuess WMG]]-worthy is the fact that several world-changing events in recent history seem to have been depicted on these cards in these games years before they happened.
* D20Modern
* One of the secret societies in ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}''. [[spoiler:May or may not be a front for Ultraviolets, spies from another Alpha Complex, bots, aliens...[[note]]and may or may not actually exist.[[/note]]]]
* The hierarchical and secretive Tremere clan from ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'' can function as a stand-in for the Illuminati.
** In ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'', this is jumped to eleven by the Seers of the Throne.
** In ''TabletopGame/MageTheAscension'', the Technocracy is revealed to be almost identical to this. They incorporate a number of other conspiracy theories about business, UFOs, and the government too.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''VideoGame/DeusEx''. [[spoiler:And they're debatably the '''good''' guys. Their rogue spin-off organization, the Majestic 12, on the other hand, are decidedly not.]]
** Also featured in the prequel [[VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution Human Revolution.]] [[spoiler: Taggart describes the Illuminati as "just a name used to get rich people to invest more money," and he's not far off; the organization's every attempt to assert more control over the world goes completely off the rails, often due to internal sabotage. It's no wonder the first game's BigBad was able to usurp nearly all of their resources for Majestic 12. Of course, Taggart ''is'' a [[ThatLiarLies lying liar who lies]], and the organization ''was'' able to transform Zhao and Taggart from small fry to global power brokers.]]
* The Illuminati is one of the three playable factions in the conspiracy-themed MMORPG ''VideoGame/TheSecretWorld'', along with the Templars (who are not, but have ties to, the historical KnightsTemplar) and an Asian-themed "Dragon" society.
* The resident ConspiracyTheorist Gomez in ''VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines'' has a particularly convoluted theory about the Illuminati (read it [[Quotes/ConspiracyTheorist here]]). Of course, this being the TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness, that theory has a good chance to be true...
* ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIII''[='s=] antagonist leads an interesting take on this. The Illuminati in these games have a lot of religious symbolism and are more akin to a psychotic cult than an oppressive secret society. Gill himself is a NietzscheWannabe dark savior with obscene doses of AGodAmI. Oh, and then there's the fact that he's red and blue skinned and clad in a thong... Although, they do have the whole AncientConspiracy thing going on.
* ''VideoGame/{{Dominions}}'' has the secretive Illuminated Order, operating in local {{Uberwald}}.
* Los Illuminados in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4''. Subverted by Albert Wesker being a more successful infiltrator behind the scenes than their entire organization.
* In ''TheSims 3: World Adventures'', some of the Egyptian locals are worried about the [[ParodyNames Illsiminati]].
* [[TheKnightsTemplar The Templars]] in ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'' function pretty much identically to the nominal description of the Illuminati: operating from the shadows as the AncientConspiracy, rewriting history, trying to TakeOverTheWorld in an effort to end TheEvilsOfFreeWill, and include a cadre of famous historical figures to claim membership amongst their ranks.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* [[AvatarTheAbridgedSeries "And then he beat the crap out of him, muttering about Illuminati or something. I'm telling you, this guy is crazy"]]
* The Sway seems to be the Franchise/{{Neopets}} version.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* In ''{{Sinfest}}'', Satan's surveillance invokes it: [[http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=4042 the drone is the eye in the pyramid]]. With wings.
** [[http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=3257 And Lil' Evil goes to join.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/TheClevelandShow'' has the hip-hop Illuminati made up of hip-hop stars who control the world through the trends they start.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' featured a group by this name. Xanatos himself is merely a junior member.
* ''{{Minoriteam}}'' had The White Shadow, who is a living Eye in a Pyramid.
* ''FreaknikTheMusical''
* ''{{Metalocalypse}}'' has [[spoiler: the Church of the Black Klok, an ancient religious group that has foreseen all of the events surrounding Dethklok, brought Ofdensen back to life, and guarded the prophecy that details how Dethklok will save the world from the apocalypse brought on by Salacia/The Half Man.]]
* As quoted above, in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague Unlimited'', one of the facts TheQuestion reveals while [[UnreliableNarrator under torture]] concerns the Illuminati.
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' features a group called the Illumi''nut''i, which guards the secret history of peanut butter.
* In ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'', The Light seems to have a lot of Illuminati-characteristics, down to the name ("The Light" being very similar to "the enlightened ones"). In addition, the first member of The Light is VandalSavage, who formed the Illuminati in the comics.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* As noted above, there is some historical basis for the Illuminati. During 1776, a group of Bavarian Germans formed a secret society and used "Illuminati" as their name. The self-imposed mission of the Illuminati was to fight against abuses of state power, superstition, religion, and prejudice. The organization did get pretty popular, having members from many other parts of Germany, and earning the hatred of the Catholic Church. However, it was banned by the Bavarian government and disbanded in 1785. According to the conspiracy theories, this was just the beginning: The Illuminati actually left Bavaria for Scotland, infiltrated the Masons, founded America, and now control the entire world from a smoke-filled room. This includes TV Tropes.
* If you're wondering how the historical Illuminati achieved such a prominent place in conspiracy lore, it's largely because the Illuminati's disbandment was followed shortly by TheFrenchRevolution. As the French revolutionaries had espoused the same Enlightenment ideals as the Illuminati, it was easy for the more paranoid European rightists to hallucinate that the French Revolution had been orchestrated by a still existent Illuminati. After that, it was on. Throughout the nineteenth century, politically reactionary circles blamed every leftist movement and revolution on Illuminati subversion. Make no mistake, the Illuminati conspiracy theory was started by religious monarchists who thought secular democracy was the most evil thing ever. The Illuminati theory was taken up by fascists in the early twentieth century and by the John Birch Society during the ColdWar. At this point, the theory had clearly lost touch with its roots. Whatever else can be said about the John Birch Society, they're definitely not monarchists. Indeed, the John Birch Society changed the Illuminati from proponents of secular democracy to proponents of Soviet-style communism. Perhaps it's not surprisingly that subsequent mutation would change it from being an exclusively right-wing conspiracy theory to the apolitical one it seems to be now. In the current version of the conspiracy theory, the Illuminati is apparently in favor of some kind of generic totalitarian state, practically the opposite of what the real Illuminati wanted.
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