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Church of Happyology
aka: Cult Of Happyology
You'll be so happy, you'll puke rainbows!
There's a certain acknowledged religion, founded by a certain science-fiction author
, which, upon independent study of its doctrine, sounds rather a lot like a mixture of Space Opera
. The leadership offices of said religion have a deserved reputation for being very
protective of its public image, and of being extraordinarily sensitive to what it considers defamation. This has been demonstrated by said offices having a rather disquieting habit of breaking out the lawyers (or worse)
to suppress any potential source of trouble.
, this makes them even easier to mock
However, lampooning this religion directly, or even uttering their name and a word against them, may expose unwary parodists to severe civil penalties, regardless of the existence or lack thereof of any bad intent. Therefore, fiction instead uses the Church Of Happyology — a reference to (un)said religion which is well enough veiled to stave off lawsuits
, but still transparent enough
to allow clued-in people to figure out who the actual target of jest is.
A subtrope of Parody Religion
. See also Cult
, Religion of Evil
, Path of Inspiration
, Corrupt Church
, and Scam Religion
. Compare Church of Saint Genericus
. Compare and contrast Scout Out
and other forms of Writing Around Trademarks
. Not to be confused with the Happy Science religion. The Happy Happyists
may sound similar, but they actually don't fit this trope.
open/close all folders
- Ultimate Marvel has the Church of Shi'Ar Enlightenment, a Happyologist-like religion with many rich and famous members. They assist the Ultimate X-Men. Turns out they, and their offshoot sect the Hellfire Club, actually believe that Jean Grey is the reincarnation of their alien Phoenix God. Gee, what are the odds?
- The Path of Prosperity from Witchblade bears some suspicious resemblances to happyology.
- In The Far Side, a door-to-door proselytizing cow hands another cow a "Cowentology" pamphlet and suggests she ask herself, "Am I a happy cow?"
- The E-Man comic had the "Church of Technolography," led by Elrod Flummox, who talks almost entirely in bizarre psychological jargon. See for yourself.
- The Superman Elseworlds story Last Family of Krypton features a positive portrayal of a Church Of Happyology; Raology, founded by Kal-El's mother Lara. The positivity of the portrayal is helped by the fact that kryptonians have been worshiping Rao for thousands of years, so it isn't a newly-designed-by-one-man phenomenon like most other churches of happyology, but rather an immigrant bringing their old religion to their new home and then going for converts.
- Nodwick once featured an "Elrond Hubbard" in a The Lord of the Rings parody. He was said to have written a book called Dianelfics. It was a best-seller in the "Elf-help" genre.
- The Triune Understanding cult in Kurt Busiek's run on The Avengers was clearly supposed to represent this.
- The 2006 volume of Mystery in Space had the "Eternal Light Corporation," a profit-driven religion. As the Weird notes after throwing off their brainwashing, "any religion that insists you sign a non-disclosure agreement should be considered suspect".
- The Italian comic Sky Doll has one of these.
- The Simping Detective has the Church of Simpology, a cult that takes money from its members and brainwashes, whilst also encouraging Simping, Mega City One's clown trend.
- In the DC Comics Countdown to Final Crisis tie-in Lord Havok and the Extremists, Dreamslayer (a Captain Ersatz of Marvel Comics' Dread Dormammu) is the leader of the Church of Dreamology. Since she's an ex-nun, possessed by a demon, who does evil things for good reasons, it's not clear how good or evil the religion itself might be.
- In Bless the Child we have The New Dawn. Pretends to be a Self-help organization, but is really a religion? Check. At the same time, it pretends to be a honest religion but is really an evil scam? Check. Leader-worship? Check. The cult secretly hates Christianity? Check. Harasses defectors? Check. Has an army of lawyers? Check.
- Mindhead from Bowfinger plays with the trope. On the surface, they are most definitely a parody of Happyology. However, when the audience sees that Kit Ramsey is a powder keg of paranoia and rage just waiting to explode, it turns out that Mindhead is a comparatively positive influence on his life that is just barely keeping him grounded. Sure, they're controlling his life and are implied to be milking him for money, but without their help Kit probably would have been locked away years ago.
- Eventualism from Steven Soderbergh's Schizopolis: "Eventualism isn't designed to answer all questions. It's designed to question all answers. It's not about healing pain. It's about the pain of healing." Also, the book is written by T. Azimuth Schwitters and features a volcano on the cover. The creators are adamant that It's not a parody of the religion this page is talking about.
- Dioretix: The Science of Matter over Mind from Repo Man.
- Rock Slyde has the Church of Bartology. Its leader, Bart, has taken over or infiltrated many businesses and office buildings, brainwashing his followers with mind controlling cookies and fast food. His cult involves a lot of pyramid-themed imagery, fitness programs, and pilfering your bank account. Doesn't recruit people off the streets because the Average Joe can't afford his "religion".
- The Master makes little effort to hide its inspiration.
- Children of the Revolution from the short story collection Zombies vs. Unicorns features a cult/religion similar in many ways to Happyology... but with zombies.
- "Diarrhetics," in a Damon Knight short story.
- In Greg Bear's Heads, one of the eponymous frozen heads is that of none other than K. D. Thierry, the founder of a creepy Space Opera religion called Logology. At the end of the novel, the protagonist ends up being infused with the frozen final thoughts of the heads, Thierry's being an acute knowledge of the hoax he created and abject terror in the face of the hell he believes awaits him.
- In Stranger in a Strange Land, both the Fosterites and the religion founded by Valentine Michael Smith carry strong Happyology overtones. (Perhaps not too surprising; Heinlein and Hubbard knew one another well enough that there's a semi-apocryphalnote story about the religion, to which this page does not refer, having been founded as a result of a bar bet in which Hubbard contended that he could invent a successful religion from scratch.)
- The Philip K. Dick short story "The Turning Wheel" included a religion whose messiah was known as The Bard Elron Hu. At no point is he ever referred to as Elron Hu, Bard. This is a particularly early reference, as it was originally published just a few years after Dianetics.
- In Snow Crash, business magnate L. Bob Rife has founded a church of this kind to literally take over the world.
- Repairman Jack takes on one of these that is not even really thinly' veiled, the "Dormentalist Church", in Crisscross'', though the text makes a pointed reference to that other church as a distraction for the cyber ninja lawyers.
- Kim Newman's Anno Dracula short story "Castle In The Desert" has L. Keith Winton, the vampric author of Plasmatics: The New Communion, and founder of the Church of Immortology.
- Norman Spinrad's novel The Mind Game is about Transformationalism, another example of a not-so-thinly veiled reference.
- In the young adult novel Godless, a teen frustrated with having to conform to the Christian norms creates a God out of his town watertower. His friend ends up taking this very seriously indeed, creating an entire Bible out of watertowers the world over.
- Nanoism in And Another Thing... has elements of this. So does Tyromancy, except that the Tyromancers' leader is a true believer.
- The Dan Gutman novel Return of the Homework Machine includes a subplot where a group of sixth-graders create a cult that worships the Grand Canyon and believes the world is going to end on Mother's Day, just to see how many idiots take it seriously. Answer: lots.
- In Michael Moorcock's The Winds of Limbo (a.k.a. The Fireclown) there is a visit to an orbiting monastery that sounds very like a parody of this, if I remember correctly.
- CESSNAB, the Church of Eternal Satisfaction and Snack And Bowl, from Libba Bray's Going Bovine
- Clive Cussler's Plague Ship has Responsivists, the big bad organization of the novel. While they don't worship any aliens, they go to great lengths to preserve their public image, react violently to members leaving their movement and have a lot of Hollywood celebrity endorsement.
- The short story "Pango and the slave souls" by German author Gisbert Haefs has the "SciOntoLogen". The mentor of the protagonist points out that this is just Gratuitous Latin / Gratuitous Greek for "the teaching about knowledge about being" and that they should rather be called "SciOntoLiars".
- In the novel Martian Rainbow, by Robert L. Forward, Gen. Alexander Armstrong organizes a globe-girdling cult as a pyramid scheme, featuring himself as next messiah and Lord of the Church of the Unifier. He enforces his rule with a doomsday device made from an orbiting asteroid that will destroy the Earth unless he activates a safety switch with his handprint once every 24 hours. His identical twin brother Augustus saves the Earth by taking Alexander's place when he dies of a heart attack, cutting off their right hands with a band saw and getting his brother's hand surgically attached to his arm so he can operate the switch on the doomsday device. Then he rolls up the organization, buying out the leadership for cash and ordering them to disperse. Naturally, he can't admit to any of this and has to pretend to be his brother from then on. This goes well beyond Happyology, but you can see where Forward got most of the idea.
- On the anarchist planet of Bakunin in the Hostile Takeover (Swann) series, Communes based on an extreme cult of personality are called 'hubbards'.
- In Peep Show, Jeremy and Super Hans briefly join a cult at the end of series 5. The mythology revolves around "negative orgones" that cause human unhappiness. The cult takes personality tests and forbids thinking.
- 30 Rock
- Frequently makes reference to the "Church of Practicology," which was supposedly created by Stan Lee. Or, as its members believe, an "alien king living inside Stan Lee".
- One obscure reference (for those that have pursued the History of Happyology) is when Jenna, talking about school reunions, says "I would have gone to my school reunion, but the boat I was educated on sank".
- In the same vein, she makes several references to owning a house in Clearwater, Florida. A certain religion is not just headquartered there, but may have pretty much taken over the local government.
- At one point, Tracy Jordan wants to switch religions, and is shown being interviewed by a Church of Happyology. But his ramblings are so insane, even they won't have him.
- In season 4 of Ugly Betty, Daniel Meade joins "The Community of the Phoenix," which recruits high-profile followers and has several similar parallels to Happyology. After allowing the Church to make decisions in his personal and professional life, he's saved by Betty just as he reaches Level 7.
- Selfosophy from the Millennium episode "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense." Chung (Charles Nelson Reilly) had actually been a friend of the founder.
- Neighbours had a Happyology-like cult a few years ago.
- Has the book Dinonetics, by L. Mother Hubbard.
- In "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" after Baby starts asking life's ultimate questions that no one has answers to, The Council of Elders create a new cult to provide cheap easy answers. The cult: Potatoism.
- In season 2 of The 4400, the "4400 Center" was a thinly veiled takeoff of Happyology. Members were charged more and more money, with the promise of gaining an ability. In the 4th season, Jordan actually starts giving them out.
- Wild Palms prominently features a thinly disguised Hubbard figure, accompanied by thinly disguised Sea Org members in naval uniforms, and "Synthiotics," at the center of its plot.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus had an early (if broad) reference in the "Crackpot Religions Ltd." sketch. (Happyology was run from England in the 1960s.)
- Nip/Tuck mentions it by name when a character joins the Church of Happyology.
- Stephen Colbert is more likely to just call it what it is, but did once start his very own Church of Happyology: The Faith-Based Faith of Stephen with a PH. Colbert has declared himself the religion's New Galactic Overlord. He wears a shiny cape.
- A very thinly veiled version of Happyology appears in Law & Order, complete with extensive member files, celebrity members, and stalkers, who are accused of driving a woman to suicide. This is played with in the episode "Bogeyman". In this case, while the group in question is paranoid and does keep dossiers on their critics, it turns out that they're not actually guilty of any crime, and that the murder under investigation was committed by one of their critics to set them up.
- In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit A mentally unstable girl was advised to stop taking psychiatric meds by a very famous rock star who rails against psychiatry on TV (sounds very familiar?). She proceeds to falsely accuse two boys of rape and then mow down a bunch of people in the car. Then said rock star uses her as a soap box to preach against psychiatric drugs.
- The Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Con-Text" features Happyology-esque self-help group called "GraceNote". Members of GraceNote fork over tons of cash to take classes and spout psychobabble like "transforming your context" and "optimizing your psychic drive". There's even a bit where one of the suspects tells the detectives they don't understand because they're "not clear."
- UK kids' show Byker Grove had the Psychandrics, a cult crossed with a pyramid scheme; the goal was to try to convert as many new members as they could. Main character Duncan (Declan Donnelly) was ensnared when he fell for one of the girls already in the cult, and almost got dragged away to their main compound in Mexico, never to return. He escaped (with the girl), but they returned a couple of years later, saying that they had ditched their old Leader and reformed (though they still behaved like cult members), and dragged the girl ended up going off with them anyway.
- An episode of Boy Meets World dealt with a suspicious person who was gathering teens into his cult of personality:
Cult leader: We're all equal here.
Cory (or maybe Eric): Cool. What's this room?
Cult leader: That's the Celebrity Room. You can't go in there.
- An episode of Monk featured an otherwise standard cult whose members would disseminate their leader's literature on the street while wearing distinctive uniforms. Monk's friends are worried that the constantly-depressed Monk will be susceptible to the cult, and they're right (though he gets over it).
- Pierce on Community thinks he's some sort of Christian Buddhist, but apparently he's really in this trope.
- A Running Gag on Drake & Josh is a student in their class whose family repeatedly joins cults that forbid him to enjoy various things.
- The IT Crowd has Beth Gaga Shaggy's Spaceology, though this seems to be a parody of the book The Secret and also a parody on Cosmic Ordering with 'space-star ordering'.We have a Suspiciously Specific Denial: "Spaceology is a religion, not a cult."
- The Mentalist:
- One episode of Everybody Loves Raymond started off with Robert joining something similar to a Church Of Happyology group, and acting like he was lobotomized. Then he invited Raymond, and it was accidentally revealed that the only reason that Robert was invited in the first place was to get to Ray. Robert, naturally, was crushed. However, both of them used the group to stage an intervention in order to get Marie and Debra back on speaking terms.
- A Diagnosis: Murder episode has Earthonomy, a cult with ridiculous mafia-like connections. They kill a reporter who was investigating them and attempt to kill another reporter. One suspect is even a closeted gay actor obviously based on... a certain actor. It turns out the killer was a hitman hired by the head of Earthonomy, who was having a homosexual affair with the gay actor.
- And this discussion from Arrested Development:
Lucille: Well, apparently, mood-altering medication leads to street drugs. That's what this very handsome, young doctor said on The Today Show.
Lucille: They said he was some kind of scientist.
- Lie to Me: "Beyond Belief" features a self-help phenomenon/cult called Scientific RePatterning, or SPR. Among other less-than-friendly aspects of the organization, an initiate of SPR spies on Lightman's house and members break into Lightman's locked house while his daughter is home to deliver a pamphlet for their organization. Also, a fairly large part of the plot revolves around sexual misconduct with younger initiates.
- The church of Spirentology in Made In Canada. The cult claims their goal is to help their members become "transparent", but they seem more interested in making money.
- Reasonablism in Parks and Recreation. The founder started by writing a book to help people organize their offices, called "Organize It." Then he had another interesting thought. Maybe there was a twenty-eight foot tall lizard with a volcano for a mouth, who controlled the universe.
Chris: Why does the cult call themselves the Reasonablists?
Leslie: Well they figure if people criticize them it will sound like they're attacking something very reasonable.
Ben: That's weirdly brilliant.
- On Friends, when Rachel gets the phone numbers of some of the actors at Joey's soap opera party, he discourages her from calling one because he's in a cult.
Joey: This guy is in a cult, okay? It'll cost you $5,000 to get to level 3, and I don't feel any different.
- Scienetics in The LA Complex. Connor is "a priority" for them...
- Wholeness in So NoTORIous.
- On a Tosh.0 Web Redemption for an aspiring actor, Daniel pretended to take the redeemee to the church (which he mentioned by its actual name) to give him Hollywood cred. The posters the show made for the office openly mocked the church (one said "It's not a cult if you're all rich.") and also subtly questioned the sexual orientations of two of its most prominent celebrity members.
- In the Im Sorry I Havent A Clue Mockumentary In Search Of Mornington Crescent, Barry Cryer suggests that Mornington Crescent is connected to a cult based around cooking and cleaning. Domestic [Happy]ology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard's mother to get him to help around the house.
- The Eightfold Truth in Big Finish Doctor Who.
- The Assassins expansion to Illuminati New World Order includes a card for the "Church of Violentology".
- Mage: The Awakening has "Panography," a church full of Banishers (mages whose Awakenings went very wrong and who view other mages as evil sorcerers) dedicated to hunting down the "alien entities" that possess certain people (that is, mages). It's essentially a straight name switch - their slightly unbalanced movie star member "John Maverick" even looks like Tom Cruise. The fact that the abbreviation for the specific group that contains the Banishers is M.A.D (Militant Auditing Division), only adds to the hilarity. Though Happyology appears to exist in the WoD as well, being mentioned in Hunter: The Vigil: Compacts and Conspiracies.
- The climactic adventure in the Call of Cthulhu sourcebook "Delta Green" is ... unsubtle.
- Wizards of the Coast decided to cut out the middle man and make (a sect of) the Church of Happyology an evil conspiracy in d20 Modern led by a psychic alien.
- Inverted in the Shadowrun game's Universal Brotherhood, a cultish movement that did not warn its members against evil alien entities that could manipulate or possess them, because that's precisely who was running the cult.
- One Warhammer 40,000 Dark Heresy adventure features a religious cult named the Joyous Choir, which subjects its followers to tests of spiritual and mental functioning using "Harmony Meters" until they become "true," as in this pamphlet◊. Surprisingly NOT run by Chaos; it's just checking for psykers to sell, to make drugs with them... A Slaneeshi cultist is, in fact, a possible ally.
- From Magic: The Gathering there's the Orzhov Syndicate in the Ravnica plane. It poses itself as a church but it's really a fantasy-version Mafia.
- The Star Org / Endless from Last Res0rt take it from a different angle, running with a starfaring naval branch that's curiously powerful for something that's just supposed to be part of a church. At least two of the players (White Noise and Xanatos) are ex-Star Org soldiers; White was left for dead after he was caught hacking into a space station's life support (supposedly on orders) and has since become a "heretic" and renounced his faith, while Xanatos is implied to have mutinied. Xanatos still talks in some of the Star Org's slang though, regularly calling the fans "cogs" among other things. They also consider psychiatry a "black art".
- Subnormality, amazingly, hits this one out of the park in three words.
- Jack devotes an arc to this. The name of the arc is a give-away.
- In Insecticomics, A priest of Unicron starts his own religious show, "The Hour Of Devour," which presents worshipping the Chaos Bringer as this. Fallen finds out, and is pissed because he actually has some respect for his job as Unicron's herald, and sees the priest's show as a mockery of service to the forces of chaos. Eventually, he mellows out and lets the priest go on as he pleases.
- In Penny and Aggie, the crazed Cloudcuckoolander Xena is a devotee of this religion. Although the comic avoids mentioning the church by name, she's been known to slam the field of psychology (including parroting Tom Cruise's denial of chemical imbalances), make reference to engrams and souls imprisoned in volcanoes, and note that her name is similar to that of a certain galactic dictator central to the religion's foundational myth. She's even been known to moan "Mr. Hubbard" in her sleep.
- The Hymn of One from lonelygirl15. A religion that posts several vague happy-sounding YouTube videos to the internet while being rumored to be much more terrifying behind the scenes.
- In KateModern, Gavin even refers to the Hymn of Oner Steve as "L. Ron" at one point.
- Hackles had the Squidentologists.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series just came right out and said it.
- P.S.I. - Paranormal Security Institution alleges that L. Ron Hubbard was an intergalactic performance artist who wanted to see if anyone would buy into the most idiotic religion ever devised. And he found that it worked too well. 
- Although the Church of the Immortal Robot Reagan is more or less an outright parody of the aforementioned sect, its creators claim that it's just a "more honest" version, since it's a cult that's really a moneymaking scam that openly admits it's a moneymaking scam.
- The somewhat infamous ScientLOLojyuuichi, a Happyology-themed version of a very popular Animutation called Hyakugojyuuichi.
- One of the fan songs on the Dr. Horrible DVD mentions them by name. "That was a joke: I'm evil, not crazy!"
- Smosh has "Religiotology"
- In a side short of the Parle Productions series The Marauders, James Potter convinces Peter Pettigrew that there is a "Church of Potter," then renamed to "Pottertology".
- The SCP Foundation has the Fifth Church, who once almost destroyed reality with a self help book.
- Despite the name, the Church of Robotology is more a loose (very loose) parody of Christianity: you promise to be good, and if you don't the Robot Devil takes you to Robot Hell, however this didn't stop "concerned citizens who weren't Happyologists" from complaining. In the DVD Commentary Matt Groening says he received a call from a Happyologist about it; he apparently just decided to say it was the 'church', not the 'temple' rather than point out there are no other similarities.
- In "Where No Fan Has Gone Before," there is also the Church of Trek, with a sign saying 'The sci-fi religion that doesn't take all your money.'
- Rex The Runt:
- An episode had the "Church of Chemicalology," preached by celebrity talking sausage Johnny Saveloy. He lures in converts with promises of fame and fortune, then sucks out their life force to prolong his own life.
- Sealab2021 has a meta-episode where the actor who plays Sparks is asked why he took the part:
"I think the main impetus was... my Gundam
told me to." Interviewer:
"Gun... what?" Sparks:
"Gun-dam. He's my mentor in Astrotology." Interviewer:
"Right... the Hollywood cults." Sparks:
(furious) "It's not a cult!" (calms) "It's a religion." Interviewer:
"Not according to the IRS..." Sparks:
(furious, with fanatic fervor) "Ho, there will a day of reckoning for you, non-believer! A totalling of sums! And a snapping of necks! And you will count yourself among the damned!"
- South Park:
- The trope is played straight with the Season 5 episode "Super Best Friends". Their depiction of "The Church Of Blaintology," though obviously making fun of David Blaine, has a few very accurate jabs at Happyology, in addition to sneaking a visual representation of The Prophet onto the screen.
- Several seasons later, South Park attacked the religion head-on, by name, in the episode "Trapped in the Closet". This episode included several famous [Happy]ologists (one of whom threatened Stan with "I'll sue you in England!"). The episode also included a depiction of a key event in [Happy]ology belief, with the caption "THIS IS WHAT [HAPPY]OLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE."
- Several episodes after "Trapped In The Closet", after [Happy]ologist Isaac Hayes said he was quitting (not because of the Happyology episode, he claimed, but because of the show's "general disrespect for religion" — which had never bothered him in the previous seasons), they did an episode where Chef was brainwashed by the "Super Adventure Club" - a child-molesting group who travel the world to do so, and parody the episode mentioned above. Then he was promptly McLeaned. Er...he was McLeaned right BEFORE this episode, apologies.
- And yet, much like the unobscured depiction of Muhammed was ignored by Muslims (unlike when a European newspaper depicted him a few years later), there was no response from [Happy]ologists to "Super Best Friends".
- Inevitably, the South Park episode spawned a new meme on The Image Board That Must Not Be Named, in which all manner of bizarre photos are captioned with "THIS IS WHAT [HAPPY]OLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE."
- So (in)famous was that episode that a Rolling Stone magazine article on Parker and Stone featured a picture of them painting graffiti on a Happyology center sign (sadly it was Photoshopped).
- Superjail! devoted an entire episode, "Don't Be A Negaton," to a space cult that looked suspiciously like Happyology. Many of the references though were just obscure enough that only those familiar with Happyology would get the joke.
- The Simpsons
- The Movementarians. Devote all your money and labor to them and they will (eventually) take you to Blisstonia, noted for its high level of bliss. It ends with a double subversion. Plus "the Leader" is the spitting image of LRH, and laments "I should have stayed with the Promise Keepers" after the whole cult falls apart. However, the Movementarians also drew from other controversial religious groups, such as the Unification Church (the mass wedding), Osho (the leader driving around in a Rolls Royce), and Heaven's Gate (riding on a spaceship to another planet).
- Likely also an example of Getting Crap Past the Radar, at least Nancy Cartwright's, voice of Bart Simpson and a Happyologist.
- The Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Case of the Cola Cult", which features a cult centered around the worship of soda, could be a critique of Happyology, or of religion in general. There certainly are eerie parallels to Happyology in the episode (such as very rich mice giving all of their riches to a phony religion, only to have those riches embezzled by the cult leader's corrupt second-in-command). It's unclear what the writers were really going for, but it was certainly something pretty deep for a television cartoon made by Disney. All of which was likely to shoot right over the heads of the target audience.
- Ugly Americans had Randall join a Zombieology cult. He left because they wanted him to pay to join.
- The Flame Keepers Circle from Ben 10 started as this, but the nature of their god Diagon and their relationship with him makes them more like a Cult of Cthulhu.
- In The Venture Bros. episode "Spanakopita!", it's revealed that the Original Team Venture fought "L. Ron" himself. Or rather his ghost possessing a robot.