Fiction has a lot
otherwise good and decent people into stark raving evil lunatics
against their will. And sometimes, horrifyingly, the original friend is trapped in their own body and helpless to stop "themselves"
from hurting friends and loved ones... or are they?
When a character is Fighting From The Inside, they are resisting the controlling influence acting on them in subtle and sometimes overt ways. Maybe the Split Personality
can't stop their hand from jittering uncontrollably as they aim a gun at the hero, or the brainwashing
as they subconsciously sabotage their evil master's Evil Plan
The character isn't just waiting for someone to yell "I know you're in there somewhere
", they're trying their best to hinder the villains and show they can still be rescued with a little outside help.
Other signs of resistance are:
- Tears suddenly falling from their eyes, often accompanied by a staggered voice and other signs.
- Hair or eye color changing from "possessed" back to normal. Even fluctuating between the two as they struggle.
- Their eyes and voice becoming extremely strained.
- Loss of control over limbs, typically arms, as the character's subconscious starts resisting the commands with all its might while the character often says something like "I can't do it; something is stopping me!"
- Splitting headaches as the original fights the Split Personality Takeover from inside their own mind.
- Grasping their head in pain as they desperately try to suppress the force controlling them.
- The soul appearing outside the body like a ghost or Hologram, usually to point out a weak spot or opening and begging for death. (Or in some cases, being able to break through long enough to do the same).
In a worst case scenario, these signs of resistance are the dying gasps of a fading soul trying to keep their body from being used for evil... they can't be rescued, and actually want
to be put down
. This may result in Dying as Yourself
or Peaceful in Death
, for your consolation after the death. In the best case, the villain will get impatient and resort to blatant means to help the mind control. That often proves to be a mistake with that physical stimulus being just what their puppet needs to break free and the physical fight is on.
For a milder version, where a character is trying to resist simple Mind Reading
by filling their mind with opposing information, they're using Psychic Static
See also Heroic Willpower
, which may overlap if the controlling influence is The Virus
or a Demonic Possession
. Contrast with Possession Burnout
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In All-Star Superman, Superman fights the black Kryptonite corruption, describing his symptoms and asking Jimmy Olsen for help.
- Indigo in Outsiders.
- This trope is typical in comics whenever popular characters fight due to mind control.
- When several heroes become Black Lanterns in Blackest Night, we see their possessed bodies running around doing evil stuff juxtaposed with their "normal" selves within fighting to regain control, making this a combination of this trope and And I Must Scream. Green Arrow in particular plays this trope straight; while the black ring is making him shoot at his family, he manages to exert enough Heroic Willpower to not only shift his aim to hit something else instead, but so the ring itself momentarily shines green, the colour indicating willpower. No other Black Lantern, dead or "alive," managed to make the ring shine a different colour.
- An early example Silver Age example is when Captain America was treated with a mind control drug by the Red Skull and ordered to join a German paratrooper raid to assassinate Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. They get as far as invading the General's office and Cap takes aim at him as ordered. At that point, Cap's subconsciousness rebels and keeps him from moving, much less pulling the trigger and the mind controlled superhero is at a loss to understand why. The German commando leader tries to manipulate Cap's hand to fire, but that physical force allows Cap's mind to break free of the drug and fight all the commandoes in Eisenhower's defense while the general calls security.
- In the Batman story, Hush, Superman ends up under Poison Ivy's mind control. Batman, having been under the influence of it once himself, noted that while Ivy's manipulating you to do what she wants, your mind is completely aware of what's going on and trying to fight it. He notes that Superman, despite having been sent to fight him, still appears to be holding back. He and Catwoman are able to snap Superman out of it by kidnapping Lois and putting her in danger, knowing that no amount of mind control would stop him from trying to save her.
- In The Immortal Game, after Twilight is possessed by the Sliver of Darkness and transformed into Nihilus, she ends up doing this passively by feeding Nihilus misinformation in order to keep her from defeating the rest of the Mane Six. During the Climax Boss fight with Nihilus, Twilight takes more active steps, managing to retake control long enough to give her friends aid in the form of the Elements of Harmony.
- Likewise, Rainbow Dash is placed under a Mind Rape spell (that she calls the Insanity) by Nihilus, and attempts to fight its control of her body, without much success until Fluttershy uses The Stare on her, which weakens the Insanity enough for Dash to break free.
- Later, Twilight reveals that Dash's loyalty and strength of will was so great that that Nihilus had to use seven times the energy the spell called for originally, and that by all rights, Dash should be completely insane!
- The Pony POV Series: At one point in the Dark World, Twilight ends up having to do this during the fight with the Valeyard — she tries to use the Memory Spell on him, but he's prepared for this and ends up implanting a copy of his personality in her mind. It very nearly consumes her, but she manages to fight it long enough for her friends to destroy it by smashing her head, allowing her Element to regenerate a new one without the infection.
- Rainbooms and Royalty: Ditzy manages to shake off Nightmare Moon's corrupting influence when presented with an image of her daughter, Dinky.
- Nightmares Are Tragic: The climactic battle in this retelling of "The Elements of Harmony" is not so much the one between the Mane Six and Nightmare Moon, as it is the one between Princess Luna and her possessing Nightshadow inside Nightmare Moon's form.
- Marie D. Suesse And The Mystery New Pirate Age!: In this story, X. Drake is mind-controlled by the villain and forced fight and kill his allies. He internally sabotages his orders by choosing the most inefficient and self-destructive ways in carrying them out to give the main characters a chance at getting the upper hand.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Mega Man tries to resist Splash Woman's brainwashing by thinking of Kalinka.
Films — Animated
- In Madagascar, Alex the lion attempts to resist his natural urge to hunt Zebra (or any other) meat.
- In Wreck-It Ralph, King Candy/Turbo is eaten by a Cy-Bug and assimilated into it, taking control of it, and becoming huge and more powerful than the others. When the Cy-Bugs are lead to their destruction by their programming, he is able to resist for a limited time, but is ultimately destroyed.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: The mind-controlled Starfleet officers Khan orders to kill Kirk can't do it. In fact, one kills himself instead.
- In the often slapstick Evil Dead 2, this trope's played surprisingly straight. Ash is possessed by the evil and about to kill Annie when he spots the necklace he'd earlier given his girlfriend, still lying on the floor. That memory weakens its control enough that he hesitates and roars in inner turmoil. The camera cuts away as the roar turns into Ash's human screams and sobs, and returns to show that he's himself again.
- In The Avengers, Selvig created a fail-safe in Loki's portal that enabled it to be shut down, even though he was deep under Loki's control. An argument can also be made for Hawkeye shooting Nick Fury in the chest, knowing that he'd be wearing body armor, instead of in the head, which Hawkeye's Improbable Aiming Skills made him quite capable of doing. This is confirmed in a deleted scene.
- Also when Loki asks Hawkeye what the Tesseract showed him, he said "My next target" while looking at Loki.
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: The Baroness was apparently the only person to ever fight off the nanomites' brainwashing at all.
- The Imperius Curse from Harry Potter can be resisted or completely thrown off by some characters. It also becomes an excuse that the bad guys can use to cover up their evil actions.
- This trope could also apply to Harry's fear in the fifth book that he had physically been attacking people. Similarly, Ginny really was being controlled by Riddle in the 2nd book.
- In the Discworld novel A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany Aching fights this battle against the possessing Hiver, but is unable to prevent it from insulting a friend, humiliating a supercilious shop assistant and, more importantly, murdering a teaching witch. It also forces her to steal money from an old man who trusts her.
- In Michael Moorcock's Hawkmoon series, the eponymous hero is captured by the evil Granbretagnans, whose dark science is used to implant a Black jewel in his skull through which he may be controlled at a distance. Sent to infiltrate the last unconquered country in Europe and act as their spy, he seeks to find a way to overcome the posession and warn his hosts.
- In Alan Garner's fantasy novel The Moon of Gomrath, the heroine Susan is possessed by the Brollochan, an age-old Celtic spirit of evil, and has to fight to regain possession of her own body.
- A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge plays with this with Flenser/Tyrathect battling for control and showing various outward signs of the battle. In a subversion of the usual application of this trope, Evil Overlord Flenser is the "original" personality, that tries to break to the surface and overcome "possession" by Tyrathect fragments. While he thinks for a moment that he succeeded, actually they merge in the end.
- The plot of the Dragonlance New Adventures initial series is composed of the bad guy's plots to make sure the evil persona implanted in Nearra wins. Until about the 4th book, the evil persona had only occasional moments of dominance, but after that she was constantly having trouble with Nearra yelling at her inside her head.
- In the Mage Winds trilogy by Mercedes Lackey, Big Bad Ma'ar has been possessing the bodies of his descendants for countless thousands of years, until he gets careless in his latest incarnation. Eventually, after he miraculously escapes from certain death, it turns out that he's been weakened enough to allow the original owner of the body to resurface and eventually aid the heroes in destroying Ma'ar once and for all.
- In the third book of The Hunger Games trilogy Peeta deals with a fair amount of this after being hijacked during his time in Capitol's imprisonment.
- In C. J. Cherryh's Morgaine Cycle, the villain of the original trilogy used a time/space Gate to steal the body of the viewpoint character's cousin. In the third book, it's revealed that millennia of body-theft has eroded his soul to the point where his latest victim can take back control. "If anything of your cousin has influence ... then he may yet defeat the man who killed him." He does; the epilogue commemorates his death from old age. The fourth book includes arguments within the mind of another victim who retains much of both personalities. He's quite shocked to discover that the evil lord he'd battled is a much more reasonable person than he'd thought (despite taking over his body).
- Any Controller in the Animorphs series will do this from time to time. None have ever successfully overthrown a Yeerk completely, but there have been some famously close calls. When his daughter was threatened to become a Controller, breaking the deal Chapman made with the Yeerks, he almost completely takes control.
- Much of the book Visser is Marco's mother arguing with her Yeerk, and the Yeerk talking about how they had several close calls since arriving on Earth, including the Yeerk giving control of one eye back to see what she'd do with it. The woman waited until the opportune moment to shut the eye and trigger a car crash.
- There's also Chapmans gaining control over over their hand and attemping to strangle themself
- Jake discovering that he has "the power of annoyance" and talking incessantly to his Yeerk to distract it and just to be obnoxious.
- John Berryman, a failed actor who memorized Henry V and recites it constantly at his Yeerk—so much so that the first thing he does when he gets control of a time machine is journey back to the Battle of Agincourt and try to change the outcome so that Shakespeare would never write it.
- Another example of a Controller temporarily fighting back its Yeerk host was Marco's mother regaining control just long enough to tell her husband to stay away from the military, thus ensuring that the Yeerks would have no practical use for him as a host.
- Yet another example of this is a disfigured girl Controller speaking to Tobias, intending to lure her into a trap. Out of nowhere, the Controller suddenly shakes, her eyes widen, and the girl shouts "Don't listen to her!" before slamming her head down on the table for a few moments. The Yeerk regains control immediately after.
- Jake was finally convinced that his brother was a Controller after Temrash is telling Jake how wonderful the Sharing is and Tom breaks through to half-way shake his head no.
- Marsh in Mistborn does this when he is possessed by Ruin, because of the metal spikes in his body. He was originally going to use the one chance he got to kill himself, but ended up using it to help Vin.
- Weston shows signs of this after being possessed by Satan himself in C. S. Lewis' Perelandra, although it's not clear whether it's real or an attempt to trick Ransom (always a risk with this sort of thing). Leads to an unplanned "What The Hell, man" moment from readers, as Weston appears to die as himself.
- Subverted in Grunts! by Mary Gentle: The Big Bad gives the Messiah—whose body she has possessed—one last brief look around before obliterating her.
- In The Host by Stephenie Meyer, this trope is central to the entire plot. Most of the book concerns the struggle of Melanie the human girl against Wanderer, the parasite alien controlling her body.
- In The Dark Elf Trilogy, Drizzt's father is sacrificed to Lolth, and turned into a super-zombie to hunt down Drizzt. His memories were deleted, resulting in sub-par swordsmanship, so more were returned. Drizzt and his father fought over a pit of acid. Drizzt's father ended up breaking through the zombification just long enough to make his corpse fall into the acid, permanently re-killing it.
- Several Star Trek novels explore inside fights. Most do so versus the Borg, but it's a big universe:
- In The Brave and the Bold" Kira is shown struggling against an ancient dictator's near-complete control of her (she can't even blink or swallow). Eventually, she breaks out of it, which confirms the dictator's control is weakening. Spock is also controlled by this dictator, but fights it off and mind-melds with Worf to stave off the effects.
- In Before Dishonor, Admiral Janeway is completely dominated by the Borg, and her body is made into their new queen. When Seven of Nine reaches out to her in her aid to destroy the Borg, The Borg-miral mocks her...but the "real" Janeway lets down her guard long enough for Seven to implement the "Hugh" virus, destroying the Borg (well...most of it) and sending Janeway to the Q Continuum.
- In the Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, Brother-Sergeant Koris struggles against the black rage, his eyes glazing over and unglazing as he tries to tell Rafen of Inquisitor Stele's treachery.With his dying breath, he succeeds in getting his message across properly.
- Earlier, he had tried to tell Chaplain Delos, but the sentence fragments he got out did not communicate properly.
- In the Warhammer 40,000 Night Lords series, the character Vandred was possessed and twisted by a daemon called "the Exalted." While the Exalted is convinced that Vandred has no hope, the Night Lord strikes when the daemon tries to obtain his help, committing suicide and only letting the Exalted take back control at the last moment before both die, just so that it can feel terror.
- This is half the plot of The Ragwitch. The story begins when a character is possessed by the Creepy Doll, and the rest of the book alternates between her brother's attempts to rescue her and her attempts to prevent herself from being absorbed completely into the Ragwitch's mind.
- Averted in Neuropath, which centers around the villain's various experiments with people under Mind Control. As Neil Cassidy notes, "Everyone expects to be captain Kirk", but as he controls every thought and emotion, it is an impossibilty. Near the end of the story, he even manages to get Thomas Bible to rationalize all the horrors he has inflicted upon him, including condemning his son to a Fate Worse Than Death.
- In Artemis Fowl Book 6, Butler has to fight off the mesmer of Opal Koboi, who wants him to kill Artemis. He manages it, but gives himself a heart attack at the same time. It's not too surprising; Butler has always been pretty resistant to mesmer.
- In Wild Cards, Mark Meadows has been stuck as The Radical, unable to communicate with the outside world as his alter-ego reaped destruction for several years.
- In L. Jagi Lamplight's Prospero in Hell, the demonically possessed Theo manages to seize control of his own voice for a moment.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, friend-turned-enemy Luke Castellan willingly allows himself to be possessed by the Titan Lord Kronos until the very end when he retakes control long enough to off them both.
- This is played with in the Ranger's Apprentice at one point. For most of The Siege of Macindaw Keren uses a form of hypnotism with a blue gem to get the captured Alyss to tell him information. Alyss fights it off at first, but becomes more vulnerable to it after each session, up until she finds a method of fighting it off using a seemingly magical stone given to her by her close friend Will. Near the end of the book, as Keren realizes his inpending defeat, he makes a final stand in the room he was keeping Alyss in. Keran unknowingly knocks the stone out of her hands as he arrives, and he hypnotizes Alyss again with the gem, which is now part of the hilt of a sword. When Will arrives, Keren commands Alyss to kill Will with the sword. He tries to snap Alyss out of the hypnotism with very little success, though she shows signs of trying to fight it off. Resigned to his fate, he tells Alyss that he loves her, hoping that Alyss would understand when she came to that he forgave her. This snaps her out of the hypnotism.
- They don't call him the Dragon Reborn because just because he's a stone-cold bugger. He actually gets Lews Therin Telamon, the Lord of Morning, in his head along for the ride! Only, nobody told Lews Therin. He thinks he just blacked out and someone is inside his head. Independent of that, Lews Therin is batshit crazy and the Dragon Reborn will be soon, too.
- In Tales of Kolmar, The Corrupter offered enhanced powers to any healer or mage who wanted them in exchange for a lock of hair and a promise of aid in the unspecified future. Said aid came in the form of sending him half their power and being possessed by a demon free to use their bodies and remaining power for whatever it wanted. A few of them fought hard enough that their minds died; others could either be exorcised by other mages with great effort from both parties, or died as themselves.
- In the Dungeons & Dragons novel "The Mark of Nerath", when the demon Nu Alin possesses Tempest, she manages to resist to a certain degree. Of course, this just makes Nu Alin want to possess her MORE.
- Legacy of the Dragokin: Kalak's gotten better at this since the last book. He can come out and hold control for a brief period at a time whenever Daniar or Benji are in trouble.
- Tahiri of the New Jedi Order has two personalities, one human, one Yuuzhan Vong. Whenever one personality (usually the human one) is dominant, the other one is forced to do this. Eventually it gets to the point that it's going on near-constantly, driving both of them to the brink of madness- finally, both get sucked into a Battle in the Center of the Mind that leads to a Split Personality Merge.
- In Rachel Griffin, people under a geas usually know they are being compelled, and can fight back.
- Gally in The Maze Runner fights hard. Newt in The Death Cure after he gets the Flare, but with mixed results.
- Doctor Who:
- In 42, the Doctor is possessed by the consciousness of the nearby sun, who has already possessed several other crew members who have killed. Seeing him struggle against it's influence and say "I am so scared" is pretty horrifying.
- In Midnight, the Doctor gets possessed again (in the same incarnation), this time by an Ultimate Evil he never comes close to understanding. While trapped in his own body, he somehow manages to hook his foot on a chair while being dragged to his death.
- In Nightmare in Silver, the Eleventh Doctor is possessed by the Cyber-Planner calling itself "Mr. Clever". They end up stalemated and play chess for the tie-breaking 2% of his brain.
- Supernatural being a show that uses demonic possession a lot, this trope crops up now and then.
- In the season one finale "Devil's Trap", John resists possession and gives his son a chance to kill YED.
- In season five, Bobby successfully fights off possession by one of Meg's henchmen long enough to stab and cripple himself with a demon-killing knife so he didn't kill Dean.
- Deliberately invoking this trope is how Sam takes down Lucifer at the end of season five.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- The following episode revealed that Picard had been conscious and fighting the whole time, but was mostly powerless against the collective's will: when he starts telling his brother about his efforts to resist their control, he breaks down into tears. That feeling of helplessness and shame would later evolve into an often overwhelming, but understandable, hatred of the Borg.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has an early episode in which Dr. Bashir's body is taken over by a serial killer. The crew uses Applied Phlebotinum to awaken Bashir's real personality, as well as some Narm-tastic acting from the normally-good Alexander Siddig.
- Star Trek: Voyager ("Warlord"). The innocent Kes is taken over by a body-jumping dictator who decides to stay in her body because he's impressed by her Magical Girl powers. However he finds the waif-like Kes is a lot tougher than she looks; most notably in a dream scene where Kes threatens to use all the lessons the dictator has learned over the years on how to be a ruthless, determined bastard.
- Battlestar Galactica: The Plan revealed that Manchurian Agent Boomer was fighting from the outside in the first season, with the lines between the core Number Eight personality and the cover breaking down.
- Used & Inverted in the Heroes starting from the end of Volume 4: Matt Parkman forces Sylar to think He is Nathan, resulting in a confused Fake-Nathan trying to find a reason to why nothing seems right; Sylar's blank mind trying to find out who he is; while simultaneously, a part of Sylar is Fighting from the Inside of Matt's mind. Finally: Sylar gets back into his own body and has a lackluster Battle in the Center of the Mind with Fake-Nathan.
- Happens several times with people possessed by Goa'uld in Stargate SG-1. Notably, Skaara, who eventually regains control of his body via a sort of trial, and Sha're, who doesn't, but is able to impart her last thoughts to Daniel as her Goa'uld tries to kill him. She's killed herself by Teal'C before that can happen.
- Started popping up a lot in the last few episodes of Dollhouse. Most notably, Anthony after he's taken by the borg-soldiers, and Mellie in the next-to-last episode, who regains just enough control to kill herself.
- In Anthony's case, this was done literally through the Power of Love. Namely, his relationship with Priya/Sierra that had been slowly building throughout nearly the entire series.
- Also, the way that Echo defeats the borg-soldiers is by turning herself into one and subsequently flooding their collective consciousness with all of the 40+ differing personalities that are in her head, so that she is single-handedly Fighting from the Inside times 40. This causes such mass confusion among the borg-soldiers that, with the exceptions of Anthony and Echo herself, they are rendered completely ineffective at doing much of anything.
- In Sanctuary Ashley's eyes change color to indicate when she has broken through the mind control. This finally indicates a Dying as Yourself.
- Subverted in season five of Hercules The Legendary Journeys; after Iolaus is killed, his body becomes the vessel for the evil god Dahak. During a fight with Herc, it seems for a moment as if Iolaus's true personality is somehow managing to break through, seemingly in order to give Hercules a chance to kill him. It turns out that this is a ruse on Dahak's part in order to get Hercules to break his vow against killing in order to tip the cosmic scales in favour of evil. Later on, however, it is played straight when Hercules enters Iolaus's mind and teams up with his soul in order to defeat Dahak once and for all.
- Charmed: in a season 3 episode, Piper's body is taken over, but she remains conscious - only able to communicate with the possessor via mirrors. Midway through the episode, she is able to regain control for a split second to slam a door she was opening closed to get her sisters' attention and cry for help before being taken over again.
- The Warhammer special character Galrauch was once a noble dragon serving a high elven prince, until he was possessed by a Greater Daemon of Tzeentch and mutated into a horrifying two-headed monster, the first of the Chaos Dragons. But even after so many centuries of captivity, the dragon's spirit struggles against the daemon, so that each round Galrauch must take a Leadership test. On a failure, Galrauch will either do nothing but fight himself in close combat, or fall under the opposing player's control for a turn and wreck some revenge on the Chaos forces.
- The musical adaptation of Jekyll & Hyde has the title character doing lots of this, most notably with the song "Confrontation".
- In Arcana Magi, Alysia Morales confronted her real self but won't accept the truth. Meanwhile, whenever Reya Everheart resists, she Stepford Smiles.