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I Know What You Fear
Basically the power to discover other people's fears. Often necessary for a "What Do They Fear?" Episode. This power can come in several forms: Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3

Type 1 is the power to know what a person's fears are. For example, one could see a picture in your head or somesuch similar thing. One then has different options to use this info. This type does not necessarily include the ability to project those fears into people's heads and they may have to be exploited in a more normal way, such as dropping them in a snake pit or a sewer full of rats.

Type 2 is the power to bring a person's fears to life without actually having any knowledge about what those fears are, this power does not deliberately cause a person to believe they are, for example, vomiting worms, it's just the effect of the power on that particular person. It is sort of like infecting people with dread.

Type 3 is the power to see a person's fear and/or show them their fears (if they have several). Control is near-absolute and often includes intensity and duration. A character with a Type Three power will usually have some kind of psychic or illusionary power to bring the fears to life.

It goes without saying that this is usually a bad guy power.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Phoenix Ikki in Saint Seiya was initially introduced as a bad guy, and a Type 3. What makes his case pretty interesting is that he eventually undergoes a Heel-Face Turn, yet keeps his "Phoenix Illusion Demon Fist", as a form of Cool and Unusual Punishment, making it sort of a Subversion of Bad Powers, Bad People. The technique digs up what will inflict the most damage to your mind, and if you lack willpower, it WILL One-Hit Kill you. And even if you DO have the willpower to not die from the mental blow, odds are you will end up extremely weakened from the shock and be easy prey. Well, there is ONE instance of an opponent that was able to NOT ONLY shake it off like nothing, but actually inflict it back on him, but we're talking about the one Gold Saint specializing in meditation, peace of mind and closest to the Gods. Interestingly, this technique even gets Epiphany Therapy uses in the Asgard arc on two enemies.

    Comic Books 
  • Dani Moonstar in New Mutants created illusions based on the target's worst fears, as did Teen Titans villain Phobia.
  • A variation of Type 2 appeared in Brian Michael Bendis 's Alias. In Volume Four, Jessica comes face-to-face with occasional Daredevil villain (and Jessica's archenemy) The Purple Man, whose body secretes chemical pheromones which, when inhaled or absorbed through the skin, allow him to control their actions by verbal suggestions. (The Purple Man, like The Joker, is aware that he exists in a comic book). He orders Jessica to imagine the most horrifying thing she can envision, which turns out to be the corpse of her boyfriend (Antman II) covered in ants lying in her bed. The Purple Man comments that he wonders what she is seeing, guesses "it doesn't work that way."
  • In Batman, "The Scarecrow" has the power to discover and induce a person's greatest fear. (Ironically, poetic justice proves his own greatest fear turns out to be— a fear of BATS!)
    • This seems to be a major theme in The Dark Knight Saga, especially in the first part, Batman Begins.
    • Another Batman villain, Cornelius Stirk, wanders into this territory as well. He's a telepath who can make other people see what he wants, which he uses to both make himself appear as someone they trust, and to prey on their fears.
  • Trauma of Avengers: Initiative actually transforms into what his target fears, giving him whatever physical attributes and/or powers that go along with the new form. This combination of psychic powers and shapeshifting was considered a "holy grail" of mutant powers by Gyrich. Also, he's not really a mutant at all, but the half-human son of the dream demon Nightmare.
    • It should be noted that this is imperfect—he went through four forms trying to find a weakness in The Incredible Hulk (who, as it turns out, isn't afraid of anything), and got tossed into a parked car for his troubles.
  • Gen 13 villain Phobia was a creepy little girl with Type 3 powers.
  • The Sinestro Corps of the Green Lantern comics is based entirely on this concept. With their power rings they can create constructs of both their own fears and their victims'.
  • The Nightmare spirits from IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic inflict this upon our heroes when they try to rescue Rarity from their clutches. With The Power of Friendship, Twilight Sparkle faces her fear of disappointing Princess Celestia and being dismissed as her student, Rainbow Dash her fear of losing the power of flight, Pinkie Pie her fear of being unable to make others happy, Fluttershy her fear of losing her way with animals, and Applejack her fear of letting down her family.
  • In Paperinik New Adventures Trauma was a Type 2,creating fear in his enemy and then eating it to transform the victims in the mindless Coolflames.In it,s sequel,Pk2,we have Korinna,a Type 3:she uses her power to create a small army convinced she is the only one capable of stopping the things they are afraid of.
  • A comic based on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) depicted the old toyline villain Scare-Glow as having Type 3 powers. He psychically discerns a person's greatest fear before trapping them in an illusion based on it. Apparently it's harder to figure out what certain people are afraid of, but he thinks that if he waits long enough he'll discover what even Skeletor fears, knowledge he can then use to free himself from Skeletor's service.

    Film 
  • Poltergeist. According to their psychic medium consultant, the ghost causing the Freelings all the trouble has this ability.
    Tangina: Now clear your minds. It knows what scares you. It has from the very beginning. Don't give it any help. It knows too much already.
  • Among Shang Tsung's powers in Mortal Kombat is the ability to see into a person's soul and find out what that person fears most so he can use that fear against them, making this a Type 3 power.
  • In Rise of the Guardians, Pitch Black has this power- being the Nightmare King and the original Boogeyman, this is only expected.
  • Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise attacks people in their nightmares with their fears.
  • In the 2003 Peter Pan Hook taunts Peter with his fear of Wendy growing up and forgetting him to throw him off-balance in a battle.

    Literature 
  • Boggarts in the Harry Potter series take the form of a person's greatest fear, which means they have this power.
  • As do the phobophages in The Dresden Files. Since their intended victim is at a horror movie convention, this results in Captain Ersatzen and Shout Outs aplenty.
  • In the Belgariad's prequels, Polgara's Mind Rape persuasion method is revealed to be this. It only failed once, because the target was on drugs (note that if she put much effort into it, she probably could have un-drugged him like Belgarath did in the prequel).
  • Type 3 in 1984, through sadistic government research on individuals and a "Ministry of Love" dedicated to custom torture.
  • The Wardstone Chronicles includes a secondary character with the ability to do something called the Dread, which is a Type Two power.
  • The Books Of Bayern include several characters, mostly antagonists, who are capable of knowing exactly what one fears (mainly things like public humiliation or loss of control, which are the things behind fears like acrophobia or arachnophobia) and also what a person wants, desires, or intends. Their power also gives them the ability to know precisely what to say in order to get what they want. Yeah. It's really no wonder they're mostly Bad Guys.
  • The third book of Midnighters has a peculiar scene where Rex, the group's Half-Human Hybrid, attempts to intimidate a minor character. He somehow knows (without knowing how he knows) that said character is afraid of snakes, and his appearance and posture shift in just such a manner as to bring up thoughts of snakes, without changing blatantly enough to be obvious Shapeshifting.
  • Amanda Reese of the Fingerprints series was a Type 1.
  • Elva from the Inheritance Cycle is a heroic (well, kind of) example. She has the ability to sense a person's negative emotions, including fear.
  • The Furies in the Star Trek quadrilogy of the same name have this as their main weapon: a directed-energy beam that forces anyone who is hit by it to experience sheer terror.
  • The titular Machine of Galaxy of Fear: The Nightmare Machine is a type 3, though some characters note with alarm that machines shouldn't be able to know what those specific fears are. It's not a machine. The fears are amazingly powerful hallucinations, though not always internally consistent, and subject to Year Inside, Hour Outside. Eppon in Army of Terror also has this ability.
  • The Doom spidermind can retrieve a human's fears from their mind and project horrible images to them.
  • The Lensman series offers an unusual example of the good guys having and using this capability. In all cases it's used against people who have led straight-out revolting, disgusting, criminal and evil lives, in essence letting them be judged by their own consciences, and in all cases but one it is lethal. Justified in-universe in that the lethal uses are in the context of an ignored warning not to re-enter Arisian space and against a murderer who would have been executed in any case. The third is as an exercise in the true nature of mercy - or otherwise.

    Live Action TV 
  • Barbas, the Demon of Fear in Charmed, is a Type 1. Played by Billy Drago (John Bly from The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.).
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "And The Children Shall Lead". Gorgon the Friendly Angel taught the children the power of learning another person's fears and using the fears to disable and control them. The kids caused Sulu to see swords surrounding the Enterprise so he wouldn't change course and used Uhura's fear of dying to prevent her from calling Starfleet Command.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The alien monster in the story The Mind of Evil attacked people with hallucinations of their worst fear.
    • Similarly, the hotel in the God Complex.
    • The episode Frontier in Space has the Master using a "hypnosound" to induce the worst fear. Humans see the alien Draconians, while the Draconians see humans. Jo Grant sees a monster from one of her past adventures.
  • In the Haven episode "Fear and Loathing", Jackie Clark's Trouble is that anyone who looks into her eyes sees their greatest fears instead of her. She has no control over it and hates it. Her ability gets stolen by Ian Haskell twice.
  • In Hornblower, Jack Simpson finds out that Horatio Hornblower is afraid of heights. Simpson sends his men to tell Hornblower that he's ordered by Lt. Eccleston to climb to the fighting top. It's a lie, nobody gave that order, and Simpson laughs at Hornblower and refuses to help him when he's stuck in the rigging, unable to move.
  • The X-Files:
    • Episode "Blood" dealt with people whose phobias were heightened to unbearable levels because they were exposed to drug called LSD-M and they were possibly receiving subliminal messages. (Or they might have been hallucinating them.) The fears included Claustrophobia, fear of being raped and fear of blood.
    • "Wetwired": Government controlled people through Subliminal Seduction transferred through TV broadcasting and caused them very vivid Hallucinations of their worst fears which compelled them to murder even their loved ones. Scully thought that Mulder is collaborating with The Conspiracy and he helped them to abduct her.
    • In "X-Cops", the monster of the week could sense people's worst fear and made them real. Some were literal monsters (a wasp man or a generic villainous killer). A man panicked because he thought his partner is going to leave him. One woman died of exotic disease simply because Scully happened to mention its name.
  • This is the Jabberwocky's power in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dungeons & Dragons arcane spells Phantasmal Killer and Weird are Type 2, as they do not require knowledge of their victim's worst fear in order for them to work.
    • Warriors of Heaven has a nonlethal version of the first, 'Phantasmal Terror'. 'A Guide to the Ethereal Plane' introduces the unfortunate result of 'Phantasmal Killer' turning real, as illusions sometimes do there — Fær, the monster who polymorphs into the victim's nightmare and kills by touch, but isn't resisted as easily as the original spell (it is for real this time).
    • The Dream Larva is the manifestation of a god's nightmare, with the ability to shape itself into anyone's greatest fear.
  • In Changeling: The Lost the first "clause" (read: skill) of the fleeting autumn contract allows a changeling to do this.
  • In In Nomine, Calabim that serve the Demon Princess of Nightmares can see a person's worst fear.

    Video Games 
  • Some of the ghosts from Ghost Master have the power to discover peoples unconscious or conscious fears. Often it's up to other ghosts to exploit those fears.
  • In The Legend of Spyro: Eternal Night, the final test to meet the Chronicler is to face the thing you fear the most. It's not explained exactly which Type it is, but it takes the one taking the trial's worst fear and makes an energy based version of that fear. In Spyro's case, Cynder's evil adult form, as he was afraid of her being turned back into it.
    • Cynder gets a Type 2 with her Fear element in Dawn of the Dragon. It allows her to paralyze opponents with fear, either by letting out a sonic scream or blasting them with red energy spheres. Either way, the fear infecting is a secondary effect along side damage.
  • Darth Phobos from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed can use The Force to probe someone's mind to find their fears and create illusions of it. In her boss battle, she puts on a Shape Shifter Guilt Trip, as Starkiller's greatest fear is Juno Eclipse's death.
  • Tatari from Melty Blood is a vampire that is repeatedly created from rumors, and has the ability to manifest people's subconscious fears as reality.
  • Wizeman from NiGHTS Into Dreams, being the god and creator of nightmare, is implied to have this power. He can also alter the dreams of visitors or create nightmarens in order to take advantage of these fears. He even uses it in the second game to steal Helen's red ideya by removing all light from her dream (Helen is deathly afraid of the dark).
  • In the Touhou game Subterranean Animism, the mind reader Satori Komeiji uses this as her main combat tactic. Her first spellcard is a form of hypnosis that draws past traumas to the surface, which Satori then reads and copies with her subsequent spellcards.
  • Parodied in the final level of Super Paper Mario. You are asked what are your worst fears, and then have to go through rooms that contain these, but savvy players can select healing items as answers, causing them to appear. You can also say that Francis (a nerdy chameleon you fought earlier in the game) is your worst fear, causing him to be brought to you and angering him about being interrupted.

    Web Comics 
  • The Head Alien has a list of his enemies' fears and tries using it on Joe. However, since he mostly focuses on Joyce and Walky, his list isn't really accurate.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-825 is a helmet that has this effect on its wearers, presenting them with increasingly horrific visions based on their worst fears.
    • SCP-2006 is a shape-shifter with the power to transform into what it thinks a person fears. The Foundation's containment procedures make sure that the entity believes that cheesy sci-fi horror movie monsters are the things humanity fears the most. It's classified as "Keter" because its limitless shape-shifting potential means that it could cause The End of the World as We Know It if it ever escaped and discovered what really scares people. A nuclear holocaust, for example.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fear creature from Extreme Ghostbusters.
  • In Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Experiment #300 has the ability to determine and mimic a person's greatest fear. In the episode in which it appears, it mimics a whole roomful of water and nearly drowns Stitch (Stitch is afraid of water because he sinks rather than swims), and then mimics Nani's fear of having Lilo taken away by mimicking the social worker Cobra Bubbles.
    • Jumba claims that Experiment 300's impression of his ex-wife is very scary.
  • Professor Screw-Eye from We're Back!, has invented a radio that allows him to know what scares people. He uses this radio to his advantage to make his circus of fear (which entertains people by scaring them) successful, and it's also behind his villainous plot to brainwash the educated dinosaurs into ferocious monsters, since lots of people are afraid of dinosaurs.
  • The Shadow of Fear from Xiaolin Showdown is a rare form of both Type 1 and 2. In order to know what a person fears, one has to use it's first power to literally enter someone else's mind; the person using the Shadow of Fear also has some serious reality warping abilities in this state. Once a person has delved into victim's mind long enough to know what they fear, a person can then later use that knowledge to bring their fears to life in the real world.
  • The Gremloblin from the Gravity Falls episode "Boss Mabel" is a Type 2 example; anyone who looks into its eyes will be confronted by a vision of their worst fear. Unfortunately for the Gremloblin, Dipper manages to use a mirror to subject it to its own fear-gaze.
I Cant Look GestureFear TropesI'm Not Afraid Of You
Identity AbsorptionMagic and PowersI See Dead People

alternative title(s): Fear Discover Power; Fear Seer
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