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Dirty Mind-Reading
...And that's how Sasha learned where babies come from.

Raynor: What? I haven't even said anything to you yet!
Kerrigan: Yeah, but you were thinking it.
Raynor: Oh, yeah, you're a telepath. Look, let's just get this over with.

Congratulations, You have just acquired the amazing superpower of Telepathy! Now you can peek into the innermost thoughts of your friends and enemies whenever you want. Isn't that awesome?

There's a bit of a problem here, though. You see, people tend to think about sex. A lot, in fact. So, guess what you're going to find when you start mind-probing people out of curiosity?

...Yeah.

Dirty Mind Reading is what happens when someone with Telepathy has the misfortune of reading somebody's naughty thoughts, either because he can't control his powers or because he doesn't have the wits to use them responsibly and is simply getting his Karmic justice.

For bonus points, have him accidentally read the mind of someone in the next room actually having sex, which can lead to Sex by Proxy. A subtrope of A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read, though often played for comedy as well. See also Forgot About the Mind Reader and My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • School Rumble has a weird example, in that Yakumo can't read everyone's minds, only those in love with her. However, she's very beautiful, and half the male population is head-over-heels for her, yet she's never heard anything dirty, but she just finds their obsession intimidating. She also finds Hanai carrying what's left of Nishimoto's Porn Stash.
  • In One Piece, Violet, a villain from the Dressrosa arc, uses her Devil Fruit power of telepathy to look into the mind of a captured and beaten Straw Hats crew member for information. The member in question is Sanji, so understandably she's quite shocked to see how many lewd thoughts run in his head, even in a situation like this.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, you don't even need another person to find yourself in this situation, such as Nodoka Miyazaki, who has a rather perverted subconscious. Much later, she meets a huge-bodied masked mercenary with creepy tentacles whose predominant thoughts are "Boobies!". Very creepy until the truth is revealed.
  • This is how an Elite Mook with a mind-reading madogu in Flame of Recca is defeated by Domon—she suffers a wardrobe malfunction and all Domon can think of after that is "BOOBS!"
  • In YuYu Hakusho, Yusuke and company force a mind reader to help them find whoever is opening up the portal to the demon world, telling him to listen for anything strange. What he comes up with is a lusty "That girl's thinking about getting it on with her teacher, dammit!"
  • The heroine in Telepathic Wanderers is both good-looking and telepathic. Knowing a lot of people are fantasizing about raping her drives her to become a hermit.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has a scene where Shinji stumbles onto a memory of Misato's while in Instrumentality from when she was in her college days—in particular, when she skipped classes to have a week-long sex romp with Kaji. Misato freaks out about how she doesn't want Shinji to see her "like that", but Shinji just seems numb (or perhaps entranced).
    • End of Evangelion also (maybe) has Asuka finding out from Shinji's memories what he did over her comatose bodynote . She wasn't pleased though she was also astonishingly civil about it, knowing her tsundere nature.
  • Satori of Ranma has the ability to read minds and he is not happy when the Saotomes and Tendos don't believe him. So, to prove that he can, he decides to read one of their minds and then tell them their thoughts. Unfortunately for him, he happens to choose Happosai's. It was so bad that Satori had a nosebleed and fainted.
  • In High School DD, Issei's Bilingualnote  fails on Sairaorg's Bishop because she's willing to strip in front of Issei. Yes, her breasts tell which clothing she's going to strip next.
  • This is actually the least of problems for Kotoura-san's Haruka, as out of the few people that are willing to stand by her, Manabe and her grandfather Zenzan have sexual fantasies towards her. Provided everyone else she'd ever known was afraid of or hated her for her powers, she's willing to put up with it.
    • Manabe actually Invokes this in Kotoura to get her to stop avoiding him in the first episode. She immediately starts hitting him wearing a red face.
  • An unusually friendly version is implied in Fairy Tail when Cobra reads Natsu's mind, then they both start laughing. Happy asks what's so funny, and Natsu tells him "I'll explain it when you're older."

     Comic Books  
  • An issue of Ultimate Spider-Man plays with this. As Spidey is meeting the X-Men for the first time, Jean Grey compliments him for being the first guy who didn't immediately imagine her naked, which he hadn't... until she put the idea of doing so into his head. The next page and a half is her getting more and more annoyed as Spidey desperately tries to stop imagining her naked.
  • In Ultimate X-Men the same Jean Grey, immediately after meeting Kitty Pride and telling her she's a telepath, says not to worry about the dirty thoughts that come straight to the top of her mind as Kitty instinctively thinks about what to try and hide. Apparently everyone else does the same thing.
  • Poor Jean has this happen yet again in one issue of the main-continuity X-Men...as she narrates about the woes of telepathy, she mostly picks up on people's petty greed, anger, and resentment, but one sales clerk is thinking, "Please walk up and down my chest in six-inch stilletto heels...."
  • Her pseudo-daughter, Rachel, reacts to this in an early issue of Excalibur, suddenly tar & feathering the offender. We never find out what the exact thoughts were, but when Rachel shows them to Brian Braddock (Captain Britain) by way of explaining her reaction, his temper slips as well. Thankfully he's prevented from actually throwing a punch.
  • Also in X-Men, Gambit deliberately invokes this trope to keep telepaths out of his mind. These aren't just any dirty thoughts, though, no... they involve the Blob.
  • In the tie in comic book for City of Heroes, the psychic superheroine was disgusted to hear the thoughts that a teenage boy was having of her. Strange, since being sixty years old should have given her more time to get used to it... or at least to choose a costume that wasn't absurdly Stripperific.
  • Persha of the First has the power to see through the eyes of others. She sometimes uses it to keep track of her scheming mother Ingra, who is The Vamp. She's rather deadpan about those moments when Ingra is... busy.

    Fanfic 
  • While it never actually happens in the show (bar the pleasure sensing in "Objects In Space"), rather a lot of Firefly fanfiction takes River's well-established Power Incontinence to its logical conclusion.
    • In Forward, a more unusual take on this is used. Jayne deliberately thinks dirty thoughts about River to get her attention when they couldn't talk.
  • "YOUR MIND CONFUSES ME EMMETT, PLEASE GO BACK TO THINKING ABOUT FOOTBALL... NO! NO EMMETT I SAID FOOTBALL, MY GOODNESS. NO I DO NOT WONDER WHAT [BELLA] LOOKS LIKE NAKED"
  • In the Kim Possible story Nights In The Big City, the Sensei of the Yamanouchi ninja academy says that because of the monkey spirit's sense of humour, "I have been given the ability to read minds, but only when they are in the gutter".
  • This Tin Man fanfic uses a version of it. Raw isn't sure quite what to make of the truly strange emotions coming from two of his human friends, as Viewers handle the whole mating thing much differently. Unfortunately for him, he finds out.
    Raw didn't get any sleep after all that night. He ended up pacing his room. This was worse than when the females went into season.
  • Tends to show up in Golden Sun kink meme prompts and fills, especially when Ivan (noted for being rather fond of his mind reading powers in canon) is half the pairing. Possibly nodded to in Dark Dawn, when it's noted that Ivan is no longer quite so thrilled with his mind reading powers.
  • Deliberately used from time to time in Undocumented Features as a quick-and-dirty test for psi powers.
    MegaZone: OK, you didn't hit me. You're not telepathic.
  • This trope plagues poor Satori Komeiji in Touhou fanworks, sometimes freaking her out or getting to her, other times subverting this with Satori getting bored with dirty thoughts due to overexposure. Since subconscious desire is a massive part of Freud's theories of psychology, this trope also gets used by her sister, Koishi, though she tends to be portrayed as less bothered by it. Or, indeed, anything.

    Film 
  • About half of the movie What Women Want was this.
  • Dirty Object Reading variant: This is a Running Gag in the 1988 movie Vibes.
    Nick: This is cold. Right out of the package. Never been used. (sets the knife down and picks up another)
    Male Professor: Amazing.
    Nick: This is from the cafeteria here at the college. Oh, remind me not to eat here. (he sets it down and picks up another knife) This is... oh God... oh Jesus...
    Female Professor: Yes?
    Nick: (throws down the knife) A woman... her husband's back... eight... nine times!
    Female Professor: Yes, we know.
    Nick: You know? How could you give that to me? Don't you know how hard it is for me to have to see things like that?!
    Male Professor: We have to test you. In science...
    Nick: Now I won't be able to sleep! What a sight! His... oh... (lowers his head to the table but then suddenly lifts it back up) Someone has had sex on this table.
    (the professors glance at each other guiltily)
    Female Professor: Thank you Mr. Deezy, that will be enough for today.
  • Seemingly averted in X-Men: The Last Stand
    Jean Grey: Logan, you're making me blush...
    Wolverine: Are you reading my thoughts?
    Jean Grey: I don't have to.

    Literature 
  • When Edward of Twilight reveals his telepathy to Bella, he mentions that most of the people around them are thinking of either sex or money. Except one, who was thinking about their cat. It's also made pretty clear that this is one of the least pleasant parts of the high school experience. He can hear everybody's pointless horny thoughts... as well as much later hear the thoughts of a gang of thugs who were going to rape the girl he loves. Fortunately, he was nearby to rescue her.
  • In one of the Xanth novels, three of the young characters need to join the Adult Conspiracy (i.e. learn about sex) before obtaining a magical MacGuffin that will allow one of them to lead a tribe of goblins. This is because said character is nearly blind, and the item she needs is a set of magical contact lenses that will not only fix her vision, but allow her to see into the thoughts and daydreams of others. Including the naughty ones. It was determined that she had best learn about sex the mature way, rather than from seeing the filthy thoughts of the average goblin male.
  • Joshua from Dora Wilk Series is an empath, like all angels, and the ability increases after he forms mind bond with two of his friends. Unluckily for him, Dora and Miron have a lot of UST between them and he ends up feeling every part of it. It culminates when Dora and Miron finally have sex. He's asleep at the time in the next room and ends up dreaming the entire thing from Dora's perspective. Ultimately played for laughs, though, when Miron suggests that the next time Joshua (who Can't Have Sex, Ever) can watch... only maybe from Miron's perspective.
  • For an example of this trope played extremely darkly, there's a book called Fall to Grace wherein the protagonist, Jiro, gains super powers on his tenth birthday. One of them is mind reading, and he can't really shut it off at first. Jiro hears his father's thoughts as he masturbates, and it's a fantasy about raping his son. Cue running away and, when he meets his father again later on, blind panic that leads Jiro to telekinetically throw three chairs, a frying pan and a couch at him.
  • The Warhammer novel Beasts in Velvet has a "scryer" as its protagonist. Since this is the Warhammer world and her powers freak everyone out, she divides men into the ones who want to screw her and the ones who want to burn her at the stake.
  • Stephen King's The Shining has an early scene where Danny Torrance notices a female hotel guest watching a bellhop and thinking she'd "like to get into his pants." This leads to a kind of Entendre Failure, as five-year-old Danny can't understand why she doesn't just get some pants of her own to wear instead of taking his.
  • This is the reason why Sookie Stackhouse hasn't had a boyfriend until she met Bill Compton. She can't control her Psychic Powers, so any guy she meets (except LaFayette, of course) immediately starts imagining what they'd like to do with her, and she hears all the dirty details. Bill, being a vampire, has no brainwaves and can't be read, which attracts her more than anything.
    • And if she tries to be intimate with a normal human, she can hear every little thought that passes through his head. She's commented that those thoughts are more along the lines of "what huge thighs" or "is that a birthmark?" than sweet flattering nothings. Also, Sookie doesn't want to know what the significant others of the bar patrons look like naked.
  • Harry Potter worries about this when he's dragging his feet on learning Occlumency (anti-mind-reading magic).
  • Dave Duncan's book Cursed has a family traveling in the country come through an area where an exiled telepath is hiding. Several erotic thoughts are revealed, although no names are associated with the thinkers directly. Other thoughts are revealed as well, and the patriarch decides that having a telepath living outside their enclave will be beneficial to both parties: the telepath would have food, clothing, etc., while the enclave would have a guardian to alert them to invaders or thieves.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar novels, people with strong enough "Mindspeech/Mindhearing" or "Empathy" can listen in on another's amorous encounters — sometimes even when they're trying to screen it out.
  • In The Dresden Files, Molly tries to examine a dead woman's last memories to help solve her murder. The woman was killed by a White Court Vampire. She got this trope. Yeah she did. It lead to this memorable exchange:
    Dresden: She got something.
    Butters: She got something, all right. I haven't gotten anything like that in two years.
  • Invoked in Angry Lead Skies, where Garrett encounters a strange race of aliens silver elves. Informed that the female he's confronting may be a telepath, he tests this idea by deliberately picturing the two of them having vigorous sex, then watching her shocked reaction.
  • Jarlaxle invokes this trope when being mind-read by the head of House Oblodra, a priestess/psion. She quickly retreated from his mind. Usually he wears a magic item to prevent this, but it wasn't working at the time.

     Live Action Television  
  • Buffy discovers just how often teenage boys think about sex when she gets mind reading powers in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Earshot". There's one particular moment where Buffy picks up on someone thinking some very flattering things about her looks. She preens a bit until the thoughts go from "she's attractive" to "I'd like to push her against those lockers and have my way with her," at which points she freaks out a little and hurries away.
    • Also in that episode, Xander.
      Xander: (voice over) What am I gonna do? I think about sex all the time! Sex! Help! Four times five is 30. Five times six is 32. Naked girls. Naked women! Heh, naked Buffy! Oh, stop me!
      Buffy: God, Xander! Is that all you think about?
      Xander: Actually... bye. (bolts from the library)
    • Don't forget Wesley. Right after warning everyone that they'll probably be thinking exactly what they don't want Buffy to know, he goes on a tangent about Cordelia and how he's a "bad, bad man." All Buffy has to do is raise her eyebrows at him for him to flee immediately.
    • Subverted in the case of Oz, who becomes philosphical about the whole matter and begins pondering things like "If my thoughts exist in Buffy's mind, does that mean I exist in Buffy's mind, and that Buffy is me?"
    • Even Buffy's mom isn't immune..She thinks about having sex with Giles in "Band Candy", because she worries about Buffy finding out.
    • Illyria is only an empath, but as soon as Connor enters the room, she reports, "This one is lusting after me." Perhaps not a surprise, given what she wears.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, a telepath (not Kes) noted that Neelix was thinking that he'd like her to tug on his whiskers (a noted erogenous zone for Talaxians). Luckily she was attracted to him as well, so she wasn't really offended.
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lwaxana Troi read some dirty thoughts from Picard, or at least claimed to for the sake of messing with his head. She also mentions at one point that her former valet's thoughts about her were almost pornographic.
      • In an uncensored joke on Family Guy, Picard asks Troi to try and sense what some aliens are thinking. Troi ends up sensing one of Picard's dirty thoughts and confusingly mentions how Picard is standing over her and begins pouring lemonade all over her... until she realizes it wasn't lemonade. Picard quickly cuts her off and changes the subject before she can finish what he's thinking, and then gives Riker a command and heads off to his quarters.
    • In the Peter David novel Q-in-Law, Q is (or at least pretends to be) appalled when Lwaxana mentions the above. Q says this is because, for a Q at least, thinking about something is the same thing as doing it, more or less.
    • In a Next Generation episode, Picard and Crusher were implanted with chips in their heads that ended up sending each other the thoughts of the humans. Crusher later told Picard that she read his thoughts while he was sleeping, prompting Picard to say that he cannot be held responsible for his unconscious thoughts.
  • In Something Is Out There (a short-lived sci-fi series on NBC), the alien protagonist Ta'Ra is telepathic; unfortunately she's also a hot chick so she's constantly annoyed over how these Earth people want to "do that with her body" (her species has a somewhat different way of making love).
  • In Firefly, River suffers a brush with this in the episode "Objects In Space", where she comes across Zoe and Wash making out on the bridge. Her... reaction... to it says everything; she starts swaying, mouth opening and closing, and her hands start rubbing her arms, and she's forced to retreat very quickly.
  • A fairly squicky Charmed example: shortly after Phoebe becomes an empath, she's trying to talk to her sister Piper when a man begins to check Piper out. Phoebe feels his attraction for her sister—apparently as if it belonged to her—becomes flustered, and has to shoo him out.
  • Kelly from Misfits, a telepath, has the dubious honour of hearing the horny thoughts of the men around her. She hears Nathan's so often it becomes a bit of a Running Gag.
  • Babylon 5:
    • There is a scene where Garibaldi gets into an elevator behind Talia Winters, a very attractive woman who is also a powerful telepath. She explains to another passenger, "I can screen out everyone's thoughts unless they are very strong." A few seconds later, she elbows Garibaldi in the gut. After she leaves, his response to that is priceless: "I think I'm in love."
    • An earlier episode had Talia helping Sinclair mediate negotiations between Londo and G'Kar. Since Londo had just come from spending the night with his mistress, his thoughts were quite erotic.
  • The empath character on Mutant X had to ask teammates to stop thinking such thoughts about her on (oddly only a few) occasions.
  • In the Torchwood episode "Greeks Bearing Gifts", Toshiko wears a mind-reading pendant to work and learns far more than she cares to about Gwen and Owen's illicit affair. Fortunately for her, Captain Jack is immune to the pendant's effects.
  • Doctor Who
    • "The Girl in the Fireplace." The Doctor does his fingers-on-temples mind-reading thing with Madame de Pompadour, telling her that if there's anything she doesn't want him to see, she should imagine a door and close it. He then points out a few open doors. Madame de Pompadour just smiles.
    • In "Deep Breath" Strax scans Clara's subconscious and sees what he generously interprets as "men playing sport".
    Strax: Well... it could be sport...
  • This happens to George in My Hero. He discovers that Piers thinks about sex ALL the time (Even while draining a cyst) and catches his cousin thinking "Boy, is she hot" about Janet.
  • As mentioned in the Literature section, Sookie from True Blood has this problem, due to her difficulty screening out people's thoughts.
    Ever stand in line at the bank and hear the guy behind you thinking of how he wants to suck your toes?!
  • The Belcerebon people of Kakrafoon Kappa had telepathy inflicted on them - the cruellest social disease known to sentient creatures - in just vengeance for their being perceived as tranquil and at peace with themselves. In the TV adaptation of H2G2, the animation of the Book shows one Belcerebon radiating mind-waves and another's jaw dropping open in wide-eyed shock and disgust at what he or she is picking up. As Douglas Adams remarked, the only way of shutting it out and getting some peace back is to play host to heavy metal gigs such as that of Disaster Area.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • In a few early Dilbert strips, Dilbert goes on a blind date with a two-headed telepath. It doesn't go well.
    Dilbert: Must not think anything naughty, must not think anything naughty — (the woman's faces freeze in horror) — Oops.
    (later)
    Dilbert: I must admit, this is the first time I've been on a date with a two-headed telepath. Now I'm sure some of the thoughts you're picking up seem strange and disturbing, but I assure you, these are perfectly normal thoughts for a guy — (the woman grabs the tablecloth in disgust and horror) — Well, maybe not that last one.

     Video Games  
  • Sasha Nein from Psychonauts accidentally wound up doing this as a child when he attempted to learn more about his dead mother by probing his father's mind. Most of them were happy memories. A few of them were really happy (and child-scarring) memories.
    • A G-rated version occurs when Raz runs into Lili on his way to Sasha's secret training. As she laments how immature he's being, Raz accidentally reads her mind and hears that she secretly wants to make out with him. Near the end of the game, she deliberately projects the same thought into his head as a Call Back.
  • Psycho Mantis laments his telepathy in his Final Speech in Metal Gear Solid, particularly, "how everyone thinks of only one thing".
  • In StarCraft, we're never told in-game exactly what Raynor was thinking when he met Kerrigan, but Kerrigan's response implies that this trope was involved. According to tie-in book Liberty's Crusade, it's along the lines of "She's Got Legs".
  • Kreia's bond with the Jedi Exile sometimes veers into this territory, with the old bag lecturing about "base thoughts" and "indignities." However, one also wonders if that misplaced Bene Gesserit is getting her kicks by it, as she's talking about it a lot.
  • Invoked by Mint in Galaxy Angel Moonlit Lover, Vanilla route. While Tact and Vanilla did share some intimate moments (not that way; Tact just got his ears cleaned), Mint invokes this trope with some very careful wording, leading both Ranpha and Forte to be very visibly excited over the prospect. Naturally, Milfie and Chitose fail to get it.
  • Subverted in Kid Icarus: Uprising; when Palutena directs Pit to a stash of treasure in the second level, Pit asks her how she knows this. Palutena says that she can analyze the situation through Pit's laurels, then tells Pit that she can also use them to read Pit's thoughts while warning him that he better not be thinking of anything "naughty." But when Pit promptly sheepishly denies any impure thoughts, Palutena says she was kidding about the whole thing with the laurels.
  • After recruiting supernatural Casanova Gannayev to your party in Mask of the Betrayer, prison warden Tirzah the Old sends him off with a bitter good riddance and hopes that she never has to deal with him again. At this, Gannayev asks how she can really be so happy to get rid of him when most of the dreams he's sneaked a peek at involve them making sweet, sweet, passionate love.

    Webcomics 
  • In DMFA, all Cubi are naturally mindreaders. (technically 'thoughtreaders': in DMFA canon, 'mindreading' is intentionally searching through a target mind's memories, not just picking up on current thoughts). Some beings think they can scare away Cubi by intentionally thinking dirty thoughts for them to read. This doesn't work, though, as 'Cubi' is short for "Incubi and Succubi"-and a being attempting to out-dirty a race whose very name comes from supernatural seducers would have to get pretty inventive. It can be inverted, however: think of something boring or make it appear that your mind's not safe to read.
  • A halfling in Mind Flayed protects herself from a mind flayer by responding to its telepathy with thoughts of "hot uncensored tentacle sex." This is doubly traumatic for a species with facial tentacles.
  • This is bound to happen in Think Before You Think, since Brian can't turn off his mind-reading, but it becomes 10 times worse if Brian's thoughts are also projected. He talks about it here.

    Web Original 
  • In Madoka Abridged, Madoka surprises Sayaka with Kyubey's mind-reading:
    Madoka: (telepathy) I just realized I can speak into your brain too, 'cause Kyubey's here!
    Sayaka: So, can you... read my mind?
    Madoka: Um, maybe. I'll try it. Here goes... (beat) What the!? Sayaka, you pervert!
    Sayaka: Hey, what did you see!? Dammit, Madoka, if you tell anyone...
    Hitomi: Eeew, you guys are acting gay, I'm leaving. (runs)
    Madoka: Great, now she thinks I'm gay, too.
    Sayaka: What?

    Western Animation 
  • In Yin Yang Yo, the Nightmaster's female minion Ella Mental has telepathy. After she reads Yin's mind she shouts, "She can read minds?", Yo then smiles and immediately receives a black eye from her and comments, "That would be a yes."


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