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Brainwashed
aka: Brainwashing
I...will...allow...TV Tropes...to...ruin...my...life...

"My sole purpose in life is to bring pleasure to my companions!"
Derek Flint, Our Man Flint

One, some, or all of the main characters have been brainwashed into happily slaving away for someone else and have to get their memories back to escape, usually assisted by someone who remembers who they were (The Power of Love often playing a part).

The most fun, delayed variety of brainwashing is the innocuous Manchurian Agent. If they are attacking people, it's a case of Brainwashed and Crazy. And look out for that one character in a million who's Not Brainwashed. Or in truly horrific settings, keep an eye on the ones Conditioned to Accept Horror. Compare with "Body Snatching". Occasionally done via television. May require deprogramming to cure (see also Meat Puppet).

Naturally, there is Power Perversion Potential to be found (NSFW!) in this. See also Kiss Me, I'm Virtual. Often done to the Weak-Willed. If the heroes do it, it's likely Brainwashing for the Greater Good. Watch out for Intrinsic Vows.

Often the brainwashing victim will come to his/her senses and resist, necessitating the villain to pour on the mind control mojo. Sometimes they will perform the hated task, but weep openly as they do so. This is not far off, as hypnosis cannot force someone to do something they intrinsically believe is wrong. Occasionally, even when the character does overcome it, they don't clean off all symptoms, and all isn't instantly right with the world because of it. Can be the cause of a Face Monster Turn.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mamoru/Tuxedo Kamen of Sailor Moon is brainwashed into becoming an agent of the Dark Kingdom in the first season. Then he's brainwashed again in the second arc of the manga by the Black Moon. He's brainwashed again in the fourth season by Nehellenia's mirror shard. Finally, his corpse is brainwashed once last time by Galaxia in the manga.
    • The other senshi are also reanimated as evil pawns in the last arcs of the manga, and several characters have episode or chapter incidences of minor brainwashing.
  • Unlike prior versions, in Act 2 of Sailor Moon Crystal, Ami is brainwashed by the Dark Kingdom's Crystal Disk program into expending her cognitive energies in their service, though it doesn't fully take due to Ami recognizing that her friend Usagi is in distress, and snapping out of it.
  • The titular cybernetics-enhanced characters of Gunslinger Girl get brainwashed to make them function as cold-blooded assassins. Since they are still basically young girls though, this leads to all kinds of problems, especially since the brainwashing focuses their feelings on their guardians.
  • In the first episode of Code Geass, Protagonist Lelouch gains the Geass power - the ability to look into someone's eyes and to give them an order that they can't disobey, or even remember after its resolution. It has several restrictions, such as it only working once per person, or only working within the realms of physical possibility, or requiring direct eye contact, and most of the first series features him attempting to work around these restrictions in order to accomplish his goals of bringing down the totalitarian Brittania.
  • In Wolf's Rain Hige is brainwashed by remote control via his collar, as part of a plot by Lady Jagara to find the wolf who will open Paradise.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Ginga Nakajima is brainwashed by Jail Scaglietti. Subaru eventually snaps her out of it by hitting her with a Wave Motion Gun at point blank.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Millennium Rod grants its user the ability to brainwash people. Marik, the owner of the Rod, uses it to brainwash Joey and Téa into turning against Yugi.
    • In the Virtual World Arc, Noah brainwashes Mokuba into believing that Noah is his only brother and that he hates Seto.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, not only does brainwashing happen with the members of the Society of Light, but it is mentioned that this is one of the abilities that Juudai has once his Darkness powers activate and that he had done this/planned to do this to those duelists that he didn't kill for Super Fusion.
  • Rika in Air Gear was "reborn" as Genesis' Thorn Queen after being connected to a machine with this purpose.
  • In Pokémon 3, Ash's mother is brainwashed by Entei into believing that she is the mother of Molly. She breaks out of the spell, however, when she sees Ash on TV.
    • One episode had Team Rocket's more competent rivals, Butch and Cassidy, use a Drowzee hooked up to a machine to brainwash all the Pokémon on Mandarin Island into disobeying their masters and obeying only them, with some examples being Ash's Pikachu and Misty's Togepi. Only Officer Jenny's Gastly, whose nature as a ghost-type negates the power of any psychic-type Pokémon, is immune. Ash later managed to trick Pikachu into destroying the machine.
    • And again in "Control Freak", when Jesse gains control of an ancient golden helmet and staff used by the previous owner to control all Pokémon, with the exception of Brock's Golbat, who was able to resist it. Luckily, the control only spanned the area where the artifacts were buried, which meant that for Jesse to control her Pokémon, she would have to stay on that spot forever.
    • And of course, there's Mewtwo's brainwashing of the kidnapped Nurse Joy in the first movie.
    • Of course, there's the Evil King of Pokélantis' example, placing Ash under the evil king's control. Ash eventually snapped out of the brainwashing, however.
  • Kekkaishi has a fair amount of this. There's Byaku, the prosecution office, the Oumi brothers...
  • Present in the ero-OVA series, Moonlight Lady: the maid, Sayaka, induces this on herself after she was kidnapped and raped. The trope is subverted in that Sayaka doesn't get flashbacks (or the 'mind-control vision') until she's under further mind-control from the magic forces around Kuraki Manor. It's also implied that the other maid, Tomomi, went through the same procedure.
  • Near the end of Brigadoon: Marin and Melan, Melan is brainwashed into thinking that he must attack Marin. Fortunately,True Love's Kiss breaks through the brainwashing and reminds him of what she means to him.
  • In the second to last episode of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, the title character is brainwashed by Gargoyle to follow his every order, including shooting Captain Nemo.
  • Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02, first caused by Devimon, followed by The Digimon Emperor.
  • This is the premise of Reversi, the Manga Within A Manga in Bakuman。: two demons, an evil one brainwashing people, and a good one reverting the brainwashes. Though in this case it doesn't use Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • Used in episode 8 of season 4's Minami-ke. Several characters watch a tv show with a song promoting eating vegetables. Two of the main characters, Chiaki and Kana, both watch a recording of it as well. While Kana thought it was a good show, Chiaki develops Mind-Control Eyes and has a sudden urge to eat vegetables, despite normally hating them. She snaps out of it after trying a sausage food sample in the grocery store, but when she returns home, her older sister Haruka also develops the same condition after watching the recorded show.

    Fan Art 
  • Are you interested in brainwashing as a character trope but wish it were applied to, say, your favorite character? It's the internet, of course people have probably drawn it. In fact, there's an entire group on deviantART dedicated to it, although the rest of the site isn't that bad for it on the whole. Some websites are much worse.

    Fan Fic 
  • In the fanfiction Revenge of Darkrai by megagamer, Darkrai mind controls Skitty, Snivy, and Pikachu.
  • Two (three) examples in With Strings Attached:
    • At different times, John and Paul get zapped by the mind-controlling pink sword Brox's Kiss (which is also used to collect a bunch of male warriors in a loony effort to build up an army to invade Ketafa). John doesn't get released until the wielder loses the sword, but Paul somehow shakes off the effects after a short time, though he pretends to remain mind-controlled so he can screw up the baddies' plans.
    • In Real Life, George's last album was titled this.
  • Twice in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:
  • During Theory of Chaos, all the Tamers except Takato are brainwashed into acting wildly out of character, leading to some of the series' most disturbingly hilarious scenes ever.
  • Twilight Revised features Twilight Sparkle being brainwashed by Nightmare Moon.
  • The Nebulous Evil Organization Pokextinction in Pokeumans builds its army by capturing transforming Pokeumans and brainwashing them to side with Mr. X in the secret war.

    Films — Animated 
  • When the eponymous character of Igor creates a Frankenstein's Monster with an F in Evil, he takes her to the local Brain Wash. His creation ends up not getting the right program and instead of becoming an evil monster, she becomes an actress.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Manchurian Candidate
  • Volunteers has John Candy's character get brainwashed in the middle.
    • It happened to him in Going Berserk as well.
  • A Clockwork Orange has the protagonist strapped down and forced to watch violent scenes while a drug that induces nausea is pumped into him to make him feel repulsion for violence. And sex. And Beethoven's music (because the film included it in the background).
  • J-Men Forever (1979). The evil Lightning Bug plans to brainwash the Earth people with rock & roll broadcasts, but is successfully countered by schmaltzy music from the Military Underground Sugared Airwaves Command (M.U.S.A.C.). So the Bug decides to use hashish instead, and only the combined forces of the J-Men (a team of redubbed superheroes from Republic Film Serial clips) can stop him!
  • As indicated by the page quote, one of the crimes that the Galaxy organization commits in the spy-spoof Our Man Flint is turning women into brainwashed "Pleasure Units".
  • The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2004). The evil Skeleton, and Human Aliens Kro-Bar and Lattis, both try to mind-control housewife Betty at the same time.
    Skeleton: Bring the meteor to the Skeleton.
    Kro-Bar: Bring the meteor to Kro-Bar and Lattis.
    Betty: I must make a skeleton meteor using a crowbar covered in lettuce...
  • Scooby Doo and the Ghoul School: Done by the villainess, Repulsa The Witch of The Web, who uses mind-control web headphones to control the female monsters into doing her bidding until she makes them evil permanently at midnight.
  • Happens to multiple anonymous programs in TRON: Legacy, most notably Tron himself, who goes under the name "Rinzler" until the effects are broken by Flynn in the climax.. The process is known variously as "rectifying" or "re-purposing" and is essentially to programs what brainwashing is to humans.
  • In Sleeper, Woody Allen's character is captured by the Big Brother government and reprogrammed into an obedient citizen - we see an electronic mind-control experiment where he's made to behave like a contestant in the Miss America pageant.
  • In Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, Sky Marshal Omar Anoke is brainwashed by the captive Brain Bug after he confers with it multiple times. He shuts down the defenses on Roku San, leading to its takeover by the Bugs. When his ship crash lands on a Bug planet, he leads the survivors to the Bug's supreme leader, the planet-sized Bug God Behemecoatyl. He gets devoured by Behemecoatyl for his efforts.
  • X2: X-Men United:
    • Lady Deathstrike is mind-controlled by Stryker and she comes out of it for a brief moment only for Stryker to forcibly reapply another dose of mind-control.
    • Nightcrawler is also brainwashed by Stryker.

    Literature 
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • The Lady of the Green Kirtle's gnome slaves are all brainwashed, not to mention Prince Rilian, with enchantments. She also tries to do this to the heroes who rescue Rilian, but is thwarted when Puddleglum pulls a Shut Up, Hannibal!. Crowning Moment of Awesome ensues.
    • The White Witch's enchanted Turkish delight very quickly gets Edmund 100% on her side, after she intimidates him into eating it. Never take candy from strangers indeed!
  • The Mule, an interstellar warlord in Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy had the telepathic ability to turn anyone, even his greatest enemies, into devoted followers willing to die for him. The Second Foundation, which possesses a similar ability, later turn it against him and transform him into a pacifist.
  • The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon.
  • In The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross, the Headmaster has brainwashed almost everybody in the school along with their parents, and brainy new girl Dinah is powerless to resist even though she knows what he's doing. Her foster brothers, however, are among the tiny minority of pupils on whom the Headmaster's powers don't work, so they can help Dinah foil the Headmaster's plan to brainwash the whole country via TV.
  • In the Hannibal novel, Lecter brainwashes Clarice Starling with drugs and hypnosis to turn her into a surrogate of his dead sister Misha. While that doesn't quite happen, it does aid Clarice in getting rid of her father issues and inhibitions about Hannibal, whom she seduces. This wasn't carried over to the movie adaptation.
  • Into The Thinking Kingdoms, part of the Journey of the Catechist series has a kingdom with thought-reading birds, allowing people to find people thinking wrong, and brainwash them. It is implied that they have done this successfully to most of the kingdom, although it all comes crashing down when they try it on the main characters.
  • Much like A Clockwork Orange, Crime College in Doc Savage and Psychosurgery in The Stainless Steel Rat are the common ways of dealing with criminals in their setting. A variation might be Execution in the Lord Darcy stories, which punishes practitioners of Black Magic by permanently stripping them of their Ability.
  • Harry Potter has the Imperius Curse.
  • The Wheel of Time has Compulsion.
    • And Semirhage. Compulsion can be unwoven, though in extreme cases there may be nothing left of the original person. Semirhage's work, done with conventional methods, is all but impossible to undo.
  • And of course, arguably the most famous example, was Winston's ordeal in 1984. He loved Big Brother.
  • In the novel All Capable To Bear Arms by Leonid Kudriavcev protagonist use fictional drug abrutine (that 'paralyzes the free will' and limited lobotomy (to provide neurological reinforcement for performing desired tasks) to 'program' several characters. Targets are usually programmed to perform some simple tasks like ramming the gate with a vehicle.
  • In the books of Dale Brown, David Luger was brainwashed into helping the Soviets after he gets captured by them. Eventually he gets rescued and somewhat "fixed", but the memories and effects still show on occasion.
  • Jez in The Kingdom Keepers.
  • John Christopher's The Tripods: A series taking place in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been conquered and enslaved by the Masters, alien entities who use televised mass hypnosis on the human population when they began the turn the tide of battle on their invasion. To make sure the process was permanent, humans at the age of 14 are forced to wear Caps permanently affixed to the skull, removing the victim's creativity and curiosity while regarding the Masters as their saviors. Some "Cappings" can go wrong, however, when a mind is too weak or too strong and eventually collapses under the strain, creating Vagrants who wander from town to town spouting nonsense.
  • Cassie, in the Flux & Anchor series by Jack Chalker. After having magically compelled herself to become the champion of Mother Church on World, her bond eventually falls apart and she is captured by the male-dominated society of New Eden, who use traditional brainwashing methods to turn her into a compliant female. Their task is made easier by the fact that she's tired of being a responsible leader and is going through the low point of a manic-depressive swing that makes her want to turn authority over her life over to someone else. By the end of her brainwashing, she's willing to marry New Eden's leader and bind herself with a spell that makes her a sex-obsessed, physically exaggerated, airheaded Fluxgirl.
  • The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series has moon blinking.
  • Steven Gould's Helm was about a mental imprinting device. It was one of the primary causes of Earth's self-destruction in a massive war, because it was used to convert large groups of people over to particular viewpoints. For example, during the war the Iranians of Tehran used the device to forcibly convert Muslims and non-Muslims to their brand of Shiite fundamentalism.
  • The 3-D Hypno Ring in the Captain Underpants books.
  • Time Scout's version of Prince Eddy of Victorian London is under the Mind Control of Jack the Ripper.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition version of Draconomicon, there's a sample mini-adventure in which a green dragon has pulled this on a handful of hapless Eladrin. Yes, even with their boosted Will defense.
  • In one of the Witchcraft gameplay examples they have on the Eden Studios website, the bumbling villain uses a psionic effect to do a kind of Jedi Mind Trick on an NPC, forcing her to do one sentence's worth of activities ("You love me and want nothing more than to follow me out of this bar.") so he can sacrifice her for evil purposes. However, what happens is that the PC breaks the effect, making her believe that he tried to hypnotize her, rather than use mind control, and so the lady proceeds to kick him in the balls, then smash his face in with a pool ball.
  • In Candor by Pam Bachorz, the Stepford Suburbia town of Candor brainwashes its citizens through subliminal messages hidden in the music playing throughout the city. If people try to leave, they often go crazy. Oscar, the son of the town's founder, starts a business where he helps teenagers escape before the brainwashing completely takes hold of them. He himself manages not to be brainwashed by listening to his own subliminal messages.
  • In the novel Villains by Necessity, the GOOD guys are doing this to the villains. After good finally triumphed over evil, the few remaining not totally good people are being secretly rounded up and "whitewashed", basically forced to forget about their previous lives and live the live of an average productive citizen. And the good guys no longer have any moral qualms about forcing this fate on people, since it can't be evil if the good guys are doing it... right?
  • The Mortal Instruments: Jonathan does this to Jace in City of Lost Souls.
  • In one Fashion Fairy book of the Rainbow Magic series, everyone is brainwashed to like Ice Blue and only Ice Blue.
  • James Bond
    • The Man with the Golden Gun starts with Bond returning to England after his disappearance at the end of You Only Live Twice. His agency quickly notes that there is something wrong with him, and it is soon revealed that he had been captured by the KGB, and they brainwashed him to kill his boss M. He fails, and he is send to be deprogrammed via electroshock-therapy.
    • Bad guys put Bond through brainwashing in For Special Services, but to supposed Big Bad Markus Bismarquer had a change of heart and messed up the process.
  • The Shepherds in the Neverwhere/How The Marquis Got His Coat Back universe get workers this way.
  • Dark Ones Mistress has Lucias compelling both a guard and Clara at different times ... the former to his death, the latter to keep her safe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Supernatural, the higher-ups in Heaven consider this the standard methodology for dealing with insubordinate angels.
    • Castiel in particular is a repeated victim of this. It never holds up in the face of Cas's "profound bond" with Dean.
  • Stargate SG-1, "Divide and Conquer" and "Beneath the Surface"
  • Farscape, "Thank God It's Friday... Again", among several others. Including the episode "A Clockwork Nebari", where the induced nausea isn't on the characters, but on the audience, as it involves pulling the eyeball a foot out of its socket and placing a microchip on the exposed optic nerve. Never mind that Eyeballs Do Not Work That Way, gah.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series, "This Side of Paradise".
  • Dark Angel Manticore loved to do this by pumping drugs into X-5's then blasting them in the eye with a laser for hours on end. Leaving them not even knowing what they revealed while drugged.
  • Star Trek: Voyager, "Workforce"
  • Angel, the Jasmine arc.
  • Big Wolf on Campus episode "Manchurian Werewolf".
  • In V, the Visitors have a brainwashing method called conversion, but humans are so resistant to it that it is only considered worth the bother for a few vital individuals.
  • Used on many, many people in many, many ways on Doctor Who, and inherited by The Sarah Jane Adventures.
    "I am the Master, and you will obey me."
  • In a series 2 episode of The Mighty Boosh, "The Call of the Yeti," the main characters narrowly escape being brainwashed and raped by yeti.
  • The vampires in True Blood have an ability to "glamour" people into doing things they would not ordinarily do.
  • The enemies attempt this on Sydney in Alias, but it only fails because her own father had spent her childhood hardening her against this very possibility. Screwed up family indeed.
  • In an NCIS there was a North Korean assassin named Kai who had in her childhood been to an institution remarkably like The Academy in Firefly and was seeking revenge.
  • In Babylon 5, Psi-cop Bester turns Garibaldi into a secret agent so secret even he doesn't know it.
  • Dollhouse. The whole reason it exists.
  • Merlin. At least two episodes come to mind where Arthur was brainwashed, and there's also at least one episode where Uther is brainwashed, and one where Merlin is brainwashed, too.
  • Cally from Blakes Seven gets taken over by various alien entities so often that it sometimes seems to be her only role on the show.
  • Earth: Final Conflict the CVI's motivational imperative.
  • Ryuutaros from Kamen Rider Den-O has the ability to brainwash entire crowds at the click of his host's fingers and influence them to dance with him (whether or not they can hear the music is never touched on).
  • UFO episodes "The Psychobombs", "Kill Straker!", "E.S.P", "The Cat With Ten Lives", "Destruction", "Mindbender" and "The Man Who Came Back" all have humans who have been put under mental control by the aliens for their nefarious purposes.

    Music 
  • In Project "Ma", Eve Zveda was given a drug to complete said project.

    Roleplay 
  • Destroy The Godmodder had severe cases of mass brain-washing in the first game. The godmodder brainwashing one-post summons was how he got most of his army for a period of time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition version of Draconomicon, there's a sample mini-adventure in which a green dragon has pulled this on a handful of hapless Eladrin. Yes, even with their boosted Will defense.
  • In one of the Witchcraft gameplay examples they have on the Eden Studios website, the bumbling villain uses a psionic effect to do a kind of Jedi Mind Trick on an NPC, forcing her to do one sentence's worth of activities ("You love me and want nothing more than to follow me out of this bar.") so he can sacrifice her for evil purposes. However, what happens is that the PC breaks the effect, making her believe that he tried to hypnotize her, rather than use mind control, and so the lady proceeds to kick him in the balls, then smash his face in with a pool ball.
  • In Paranoia, "brainscrubbing" is one of the routine ways of dealing with traitors, depending on severity (it's just above "adjust his meds" and just below "terminate him and activate his next backup clone").
  • Both Old World of Darkness and New World of Darkness have many supernatural varieties of this, such as Dominate for vampires, and the Mind Sphere for mages.

    Video Games 
  • In the old Safari Software game, Traffic Department 2192, the foul-mouthed, gung-ho Action Girl protagonist, Lt. Velasquez, is kidnapped by her hated foe, the Vulture Cult Army, and brainwashed into serving them. Not only does she perform outstandingly in the field, she's also a lot more disciplined than the loose cannon she seemed to be when she was still with the good guys. Naturally, she eventually overcomes the brainwashing and returns to the TD... where her boss is less disturbed by her being brainwashed, and more worried by the fact that she's even-tempered, obedient, and disciplined...
  • Final Fantasy IV loves this trope, pulling it once with The Lancer/Mr. Face-Heel Turn Kain Highwind falling subject to it twice, and then again with supposed Big Bad Golbez actually being a puppet of the real Big Bad Zemus.
  • World of Warcraft features "Mind Control" as a standard Priest spell, allowing control of opposing characters and some monsters for a short period of time. Mind Control and More Than Mind Control scenarios also feature prominently in the canon.
  • Mass Effect uses the term "indoctrination". Saren, among others, turns out to have been indoctrinated by the Reaper Sovereign, the real Big Bad. What makes it really frightening is that (A) it's subtle—so subtle that you won't even notice any change in your behavior or normal thinking patterns (you'll rationalize and justify the actions you're taking, even if you expect the changes and even if you think you're fighting it), (B) it's erosive and eventually destroys a person's free will, regardless of how subtle or functional they were at first, and (C) it's permanent. Even if the Reaper stops giving orders through the indoctrination, the person affected will just be a mindless husk, unable to do anything on their own.
    • Also, in Mass Effect 2 the abilities of Ardat-Yakshi to seduce anyone they wish (only to destroy their partner's nerve system when having sex). Commander Shepard can also experience this, acting as bait in a mission to track one and kill her, if the player lacks the necessary paragon or renegade level the only dialogue options that remain result in Shepard soullessly complying with anything she wishes, until rescued by Samara's intervention.
  • One BioShock audio diary reveal that Andrew Ryan had the plasmids modified so that Rapture's already brain-buggered population would be susceptible to mind controlling pheromones. Pheromones and mental programming are also used to ensure that the Little Sisters stay close to the Big Daddies, and that the Big Daddies protect the Little Sisters. There's also "Would you kindly?"
  • The Super Robot Wars games uses this exceptionally liberally; If a particular protagonist is one of their original creations, the odds are fairly high that they've been brainwashed at least once, in at least one of the many different timelines. One Big Bad of a faction even makes it part of their standard operating procedure. Okay. More than one...(One faction's plot is to Brainwash/Clone the ENTIRE CAST!)
  • In MOTHER 3, Porky, with the help of Fassad, use "Happy Boxes" to woo the previously low-tech and peaceful citizens of Tazmily Village into a materialistic lifestyle. Toward the end, most of the villagers move to New Pork City, except the Main party and their companions.
    • It is reveled that the people of Tazmily village are the last of the human race who after the previous world was destroyed by a people created Armageddon fled to the Nowhere Islands for a new start. To do so they abandoned most technology and willing brainwashed themselves to stop another Armageddon from happening again (with the exception of Leder who uses his bell to keep the memories suppressed and to explain the story if the need arises).
  • This becomes one of the Overlord's powers in Overlord, in which using it on civilians will cause them to flock to the Overlord and either attack the nearest enemy when in battle or just help create resources if in a town.
  • The Big Bad does this, prior to the actual in-game events, to the palace guards in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, so they abandon all loyalty to Princess Zelda and obey his orders to hold her prisoner.
  • In Cave Story, the Mimigas are brainwashed by the Doctor into growing the red flowers known to turn Mimigas into mindless monsters.
  • At one point, the player has to keep this from happening in The Art of Theft.
  • Temporarily happens to anything hit by the Ordos Deviator in Dune II.
  • All over the place in Dissidia: Final Fantasy and its sequel. Between the two games so far, Terra, Tidus, Jecht, and Kuja have all been brainwashed to fight for evil instead of good, the former two in Duodecim and the latter two in Dissidia.
  • In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Gharnef is doing this to Dragon Princess Tiki. Though Tiki was older than she looked, this is still very creepy.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns has this trope, and started at the very begining of the game! But Donkey Kong was able to resist the brainwashing effects.
  • In the Dragonborn DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Bend Will shout, Miraak's Signature Move, can be used to subjugate mortals and even dragons. You eventually learn it, and can use it to become a Dragon Rider.
  • In The King of Fighters, Botan from Those of the Past can do this via converting human beings into People Puppets with thin wires, controlling their actions and minds. She uses this skill on Chizuru Kagura in 2003, and on Rose Berstein in XI and until the end of XIII.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Obviously, every story on The Erotic Mind Control Story Archive (NSFW) uses this trope.
  • What happened to Cavalier and Skybolt in the Whateley Universe. It took nearly a hundred stories before we found out what really did happen to them, and it's worse than we thought: Villainous witch Hekate tricked them into entering a 'Fool's Circle', and cast a human-sacrifice-of-children-dark binding spell, which forced them to obey all her commands, while still remaining conscious of their actions. Subsequently, Hekate and Don Sebastiano raped and humiliated Cavalier and Skybolt repeatedly for a year. The two victims, once freed by Fey, were very, very angry. Worse, from Hekate's point of view, Fey got angry too...
  • Soyburger Patricia in the League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions.
  • In Arcana Magi, Alysia Morales and Reya Everheart were brainwashed by an Evil Corporation.
  • Happens to Film Brain when captured by the Cloaks in Suburban Knights. He gets better with the help of the rest of the team, though.
  • Played for laughs, Anthony was captured by a pair of cultist, and tried to use a tape to brainwash him. It didn't work so they used a tape of Teletubbies on him which worked.

    Western Animation 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door, "Operation: CAMP"
    • A brainwashing toy called the Boyfriend Helmet appears twice. Oddly, when Lizzie uses it on Nigel, he just tells her, "Don't ever use one of those things on me again, Lizzie!" and continues to date her for six seasons, but when Jimmy (who apparently thinks he's Darth Vader) later uses it on Lizzie, he's thrown in KND prison. Fair?
      • Quite, as Jimmy was trying to make the entire school attend an assembly to watch him be crowned King of something (haven't watched the episode in forever) and make Lizzie his queen, even making his female assistant contact her uncle, The Common Cold, to give Nigel a case of the illness so he'd be out of commission while Jimmy executed his plan. All Lizzie wanted was a more available boyfriend (since she had felt left out when Nigel went on more and more missions). (To anyone who cares, Jimmy's female assistant was crushing on him something major, something he doesn't realize until he's hauled off to whatever form of prison the KND used and she confesses.)
  • Not quite the same, but many devices in the Transformers multiverse are able to temporarily "overwrite" the personality and faction programming of one side with that of the other.
    • Of particular note, on Beast Wars Megatron gene-washes Rhinox into a Predacon, but he becomes so evil Megatron is forced to change him back. Perhaps ironically, he does this when Rhinox is monologuing on the machine that changed him in the first place.
    • And then there's the Robo-Smasher from Generation 1, which put the "-con" into the Constructicons. Luckily for Omega Supreme, he merely ended up getting mind-raped.
  • Filmation loved this trope, as several of their eighties shows feature Mind Control powers or technology. The He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) episode "The Mystery of Man-E-Faces" showed Beast Man using his power over beasts to make Manny-in monster-mug form—attack He-Man; however, he clearly didn't wish to and showed this with a tear in his eye. In the She Ra Princess Of Power episode "The Perils of Peekablue", Shadow Weaver forced the all-seeing heroine to be Hordak's spy with her mind-control magic. Peek wasn't content with one demure tear; she fairly flowed. In fact, it was her streaming eyes that told her fellow rebels she wasn't serving the Horde willingly.
  • Used on Jet in Avatar: The Last Airbender, but none too effectively; with appropriate urging, he is able to break through it and lead the heroes back to where he got brainwashed... playing right into the villain's hands, not long after which he shifts into Brainwashed and Crazy mode when a code phrase is said. The only reason the Gaang realized he was brainwashed is his old friend Smellerbee tells her side and Toph noted they are both being truthful. It is only when Smellerbee mentions Jet was taken by the Dai Li did they consider Jet to be manipulated.
    • The behavior of the Joo Dee was somewhat indicative.
  • Kim Possible falls victim to it at least three times and it's used at least a few more.
  • In WordGirl, this is the recurring villain Mr Big's gimmick.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • Freakshow does this to Danny in Control Freaks to make him a part of his ghostly group who steals goods for him. Naturally he's freed by the The Power of Friendship through a Catch a Falling Star moment.
    • Ember does this to Danny in order to distract him. She makes him believe that he is in love with Sam.
      • Also by Undergrowth, who not only turns the citizens of Amity Park his slaves under the control of his mind vines, but making Sam his "daughter" due to her love of plants. Not coincidentally, both Undergrowth and Sam were voiced by Mark Hamill and Grey De Lisle, who voiced Lord Ozai and his daughter, Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • The Venture Bros. does this to Colonel Bud Manstrong as a parody of The Manchurian Candidate. Abraham Lincoln's ghost even lampshades this.
    "Didn't you ever see The Manchurian Candidate? Even the remake with Denzel?"
  • Space Ghost episode "The Sandman". Jan and Jace are subjected to the title villain's mind control device.
  • Brother Blood of Teen Titans has this as his MO. Only Cyborg was able to consistently resist his powers.
  • Totally Spies! LOVES this trope, especially for Sam as a running gag in the series. In fact, this was done not only to them, but their families and friends as well (Tim Scam brainwashing their mothers to kill them, a disgruntled child mind controlling all the children in the world including one of the girl's younger siblings, Jerry's being turned evil by his evil brother, the previous trio of female spies, the list goes on).
  • Martin Mystery is also rather fond of using monsters or alien invaders brainwashing innocent human victims or some of the cast to be their slaves. Unsurprising as it is produced by the same TV production company as Totally Spies.
  • Quack Pack: Huey duck sets off for the dentist, but winds up instead subject for an evil scientist, who accidentally equips the duck with the bio-remote the big bad needed to use to conquer the world. As the headgear gives Huey the near-infinite power of mind control, Huey becomes mad with power and makes himself emperor of the world by forcing the populace to worship him, but realizes he's still miserable. Played for laughs but still a WHAT THE HELL HERO? moment.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: Appeared in both episodes, "Walk This Way", and "G is For Garbage", as a mystical horn that hypnotized it's victims into trance-marchers who did anything they could by those who possessed it.
  • Done a few times in X-Men Evolutions, mostly by Mesmero, who used his hypnosis powers to gain control of the X-men several times.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: In one episode, Robotnik uses a stolen crystal computer's "submission spell" to control Princess Acorn and Bunny.
  • Beverly Hills Teens: Used by Pierce, who uses a spherical device to hypnotize both Larke into going on a date with him, and a bunch of people on the beach.
  • Bratz: The snobby antagonist Burdine uses a hypnosis tool called the Hypnozapper she brought over the internet to force Sasha and Jade into sabotaging the Bratz on the night they're set to receive the "Teen Choice Award." Meanwhile the Tweevil twins try to hypnotize Cameron and Dylan so they will fall in love with them.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Pirates from Below". Hadji hypnotizes a guard by tricking him into watching a flashing ruby and using the usual hypnotist's patter.
  • The final arc in Superman: The Animated Series opens with some space dude in Apokolips-style armor brutally conquering a fleet. At the end of the opening he accepts their surrender, takes off his helmet, and...it's Superman!
    • Turns out Darkseid got hold of him and gave him to Granny Goodness, whose specialty is brainwashing, so that he thinks he's Darkseid's son, Kal-El of Apokolips, happily conquering star systems for his father. Darkseid likes the irony, the military advantage, and apparently having a son he can be proud of. (Kalibak is not happy.)
      • Oddly, given the setting, Granny's brainwashing didn't make him actively evil, it just made him believe in Darkseid and his empire and not think too hard. Darkseid even assigned four of his elite troops to be Kal's 'buddies,' who he's 'known all his life' and jokes around with. They actually hate him. They fake it pretty well. And he's polite, and reacts to his regular sessions in Granny's chair like a very good boy being sent to the dentist. He's still basically the same guy. This makes it creepier.
    • Darkseid gets addicted to irony and sends him to conquer Earth. Lois breaks him out with the Power of Love before he and his army do too much real damage, but his reputation is wrecked and there are still repercussions years later on Justice League.
  • In the season 2 premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Big Bad Discord brainwashes Twilight's friends into going against their respective Elements of Harmony: the honest Applejack becomes a compulsive Bad Liar, the happy-go-lucky Pinkie Pie becomes bad-tempered and overly-serious, the generous Rarity becomes greedy and possessive of a boulder she thinks is a giant diamond, the kindly Fluttershy becomes a bully, and the loyal Rainbow Dash is tricked into ditching her friends to save her supposedly endangered birthplace of Cloudsdale. This turns out to be part of Discord's plan, so that the Mane Six won't be able to use the Elements of Harmony on him, even if they find them.
  • Brainwashing is a huge part of the plot of seasons one and two of Detentionaire. It's done by way of Mind-Control Music, specifically a song called the Prank Song, which seems to affect everyone but Lee and Biffy, who are immune.
  • Happened to Mega Man in the episode Mega-Pinocchio. Wily cons Mega Man into thinking he is human by installing a mind-control chip on him.
    • One can argue that this is the fate of the original Robot Masters who were reprogrammed by Wily in the first episode.
    • All the human, including Dr. Light, were brainwashed by Dr. Wily in the episode Cold Steel.

    Real Life 
  • The term in English is derived from the Chinese 洗脑 "clean/wash the brain", used to describe the combination of torture and propaganda-barrage used on U.N.-aligned troops, mostly Americans, during the Korean War in order to extract false confessions for use in broader propaganda. The actual efficacy of any form of brain washing, from torture to subtle persuasion to drugs to hypnotism, is highly disputed. It is generally held that such techniques can be very good at extracting compliance from the victim, but true ideological turn-about ŕ la the books and film 1984 or The Manchurian Candidate is not to be expected-in the few cases where this seems to have happened, it has generally been linked to the prisoner's captors treating them better than their own nominal side (see: Japanese POWs during World War II).
    • It's worth mentioning hypnosis, which can make people do some odd things. However, it is impossible to hypnotize someone against their will or force them to do something they would absolutely refuse to do. At most, any kind of hyponotised sleeper agent would not remember their mission until given the trigger, but they would still have to agree with their orders.
  • Arguably, some religious and corporate groups are capable of this.
    • Drink the Flavor Aid!
    • Look at the profile of the individuals they had to start with. Predisposition makes it possible. Now you can redirect your Paranoia Fuel to whether you fit the profile.
  • As with quite a few other kooky schemes, you can bet your bottom dollar that NATO and the Warsaw Pact did experiments with brainwashing during the Cold War. Thankfully, nothing ever came of those experiments.
  • While technically possible as in the Korean War example above, brainwashing in the sense used back then needed a) to have complete control over the target's life and b) a lot of time (at least months). This made it far less efficient unless the victim already lives in a totalitarian environment which he or she can't leave.
  • There are quite a few online fetish communities centered around mind control and brainwashing.
  • Haiti 'zombies' were/are really people who have been poisoned with a combination of atropine and/or scopolamine which comes from some plant life and tetrodotoxin. The tetrodotoxin makes the person seem dead when they are really paralyzed and breathing shallowly, the atropine puts them in a state of suggestible delirium that can be controlled in order to have the zombie labor for his master. Traditionally this has been employed as a punishment for social transgressions in some parts of rural Haiti.
    • Common criminals such as thieves and rapists have also been reported to use atropine or scopolamine on victims. People are commanded to allow others into their homes to steal their things, to part with all their money, to release identity information, or to have sex and don't remember it afterwards.
  • The CIA was revealed to have been officially researching mind control with the declassification of documents relating to Project MKUltra (those that hadn't already been destroyed).
    • It was revealed that the CIA's belief that something like this was possible was because of the show trial in the late 1940s of a Hungarian Catholic bishop who "confessed" to all sorts of things which were clearly absurd but who otherwise seemed rational, followed by the Korean War situation mentioned previously. Years later, during the 1956 Hungarian uprising, the man revealed that the "brainwashing" he'd experienced consisted of men with blackjacks who'd smack him around and threats of death unless he did what they wanted.


Bizarre and Improbable Giraffe Herding TechniquesPt/Índice de TraduçăoBrainwashed and Crazy
Bedtime BrainwashingMind ManipulationBrainwashed and Crazy
Cybernetics Eat Your SoulFace Monster TurnBrainwashed and Crazy
Body HorrorJustForFun/Tropes of LegendBrainwashed and Crazy
Body SurfPlotsBrainwashed and Crazy
Boxing Lessons for SupermanMagic and PowersHypnotize the Princess
Better Than SexImageSource/OtherBrainwashed and Crazy
Trope-tanImageSource/InternetBrainwashed and Crazy

alternative title(s): Hypnotize; Brainwash; Brainwashing
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