This is the device that the villain (usually) will use to keep the hero, townspeople, or Mr/Mrs. Random Supporting Character in thrall. It has been used countless times in stories across many different types of media. Plot Device
, and even a key part of a Very Special Episode
While these devices tend to fall into two general categories, either broadcasting "hypno-waves" at any luckless viewer for a one-time treatment, or are somehow attached to the victim's body (usually the head), they ultimately know no shape and can come in nearly any specific form:
That sword you just picked up? Hope you like being a slave to the evil overlord.
That mask that looks so good on you? Hope you can control the demonic power inside.
That shampoo you're using? Dr. D's BrainWashing Shampoo and Cranium Rinse.
That bracelet the street vendor gave you? Welcome to the most dangerous cult in the world.
See Mind Control
, Mind-Control Eyes
and More than Mind Control
for the effects of these devices. May be the result of televising a person with the power of Hypnotic Eyes
. See also: Power Perversion Potential
for the inevitable result in some viewers. May require the target to be Forced to Watch
a transmission of some kind.
Subtropes include: Subliminal Seduction
, Hypno Ray
, and Hypno Trinket
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Anime & Manga
- Shugo Chara! mainly has X-Eggs and now they've took it a step further. Now they have Question Eggs which turn people into DARK Chara Naris.
- Sailor Moon has had this in spades.
- Artist Girl — Pencil
- Prince Endymion — Queen Beryl
- Chibi Moon (Rini) — Wiseman
- Shampoo of Ranma ½ uses hypnotic pressure points, mind-control mushrooms, and memory-erasing shampoo at various points to further her sinister plots. The plots usually don't work, the items/techniques work flawlessly. Not only that, in the final story arc she is imprisoned in a mind-control egg and emerges the slave of the bad guys.
- The Consideration Console in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Implanted in Lutecia by Jail Scaglietti so that someone like Quattro could override her thoughts should the need arise.
- In two episodes of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, the Galactor organization uses a mind-warping ray to turn innocent civilians into murderous, rioting mobs.
- In tsuritama Haru and Coco love to use their Mind Control Water Guns. Usually to make people dance.
- The Black Gears and Black Cables of Digimon Adventure.
- Digimon Adventure 02 has the Dark Rings and Dark Spirals.
- Colress's device in the Episode N arc of Pokémon...and Team Rocket had one too in the Orange Islands. The Colress one turned Pokemon into mindless fighting machines while making them stronger.
- Magic: The Gathering's Mindslaver, in the sense that you have entire control over what your opponent would do for their turn. Indeed there's a popular deck that wins by being able to use mindslaver on every turn to prevent your opponent from being able to do anything.
- The Steve Jackson card game Illuminati has the Orbital Mind Control Lasers as one of the cards.
- The Batman comics.
- The Mad Hatter
- The Ringmaster, with his hypno-spiral top hat, has battled nearly every hero in the Marvel universe at one point or another. (And lost.)
- Julian's friend, Detective Henrique, and other officers in the Meridiana police force are brainwashed by José's new mind-control device, ordered to patrol the city streets for Cybersix.
- The Marvel Universe has the Serpent Crown, a mind control device used to channel the power of Set, an Elder God. Many superheroes have fought villains attempting to conquer the world in the thrall of Set.
- An unusual version shows up at the start of the Deadpool/Great Lakes Avengers Summer Fun crossover. It just makes its targets drunk.
- The Squadron Supreme limited series features the title heroes using a "behavior modification" device to brainwash convicted criminals (at first...). The ethical issues that arise are a source of friction for the team.
- The Squadron themselves have been mind-controlled often enough that it's been Lamp Shaded both in comics (an issue of The Avengers claims that whenever they run into the Squadron, they assume that they're mind-controlled and about to attack until proven otherwise) and in games (the Marvel Saga rpg stats for Squadron members list susceptibility to mind-control powers among their weaknesses).
- A post-Woodstock Superman adventure has him reporting on a series of rock concerts. This was at a time when some Moral Guardians genuinely believed rock was inherently hypnotic and that "the kids" would do whatever the lyrics said. Sure enough, mass violence broke out at show after show, seemingly prompted by the lyrics. Turned out a villain was using a Fiendish Device behind the scenes.
- Issue #1 of The Awesome Slapstick has the Mediocritizer, which turns ordinary students into boring, unimaginative drones for the Overlord of Dimension X.
- The G.I. Joe comic from Marvel had the Brainwave Scanner courtesy of Doctor Venom, as well as the S.N.A.K.E. armor.
- Actually kind of subverted in the Donald Duck comic The Hypno Gun by Carl Barks, from which the page picture is taken. The titular hypno gun is in fact just a harmless toy gun that Huey, Dewey and Louie pretend to hypnotize one another with... however, Donald, overhearing them, thinks that it's a real hypno gun. Donald is, in fact so convinced that the hypno gun works that it actually does work on him, even if it doesn't work on anyone else.
- Another, old comicnote had Donald buy a pair of hypnotic glasses to try and get his nephews to obey him.
- A "Justice League of America" issue in the 1970's had a scientist invent a "re-memory" ray gun - it caused its targets to remember making decisions favorable to the wielder of the device. It was amazingly convenient - he didn't even have to tell them what he wanted, they just came up with something on their own.
- Naturally, he did just what you would do with such power: steal the plankton from Earth's oceans and sell it to an alien who just happened to pop into his lab looking for a solution to his world's environmental problems. Hey, the Seventies, man...
- Brox's Kiss, the hot pink short sword, in With Strings Attached. It works only on people of the opposite sex from the wielder. Besides being used on both John and Paul at different times, it was used to take control of a bunch of men in a crazy scheme to invade Ketafa. Paul snaps it over his knee at the end of the book.
- Possibly, the Pokeballs in New World. When a Pokemon is caught in one, they are mentally compelled to do whatever the trainer instructs them to do. It is implied that their name acts as an implanted trigger word.
- The saliva of a rabid snail combined with human DNA in One Less Lonely Gurl.
- In the Facing The Future Series, Vlad has developed a small, metallic ring version of Nocturne's dream helmet technology that is capable of knocking anyone out as well as leaving them susceptible to hypnotic commands.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- The wiggly thing from the evil horses on The Fate of the Fallen.
- In the later Honor Harrington novels, a rogue planet of eugenicists called Mesa develops a nano-virus that is capable of compelling behavior out of its victims. It is used several times to stage assassinations and get rid of key enemies and is notable in the series for being initially dismissed as impossible because they've had mind control tech for centuries but every military has its people protected against it.
- Trombophone Music in The City of Dreaming Books. While we see a taste of it early in the novel, exactly how powerful it is doesn't become apparent until the very end.
- The 3D Hypno-Ring from Captain Underpants.
- in Jack Chalker's G.O.D. Inc. series, the Hypnoscanner is shown to have serious Power Perversion Potential.
- The Imperius curse from Harry Potter.
- The title objects of the Forgotten Realms novel Azure Bonds are magic tattoos that compel the amnesiac Alias, the protagonist, to carry out the whims of unknown powers. Turns out she's an Artificial Human and the bonds also act as a brand or signature of their work.
- A Bailey School Kids book centers around a nurse who uses big green bandages to brainwash people into loving her.
- Another one involved an assistant principal named Madge Jhick, who would force kids to behave by holding up a gem shaped like a cat's eye to them.
- In The Chronicles of Professor Jack Baling Lydia uses one of these on Jack at the beginning of the second episode. It causes extreme feelings of disassociation in whoever hears it, temporarily submerging the afflicted individual’s conscious thoughts.
- This trope is the whole reason for Marc Cabot's "Dreams of Control" series, including the novel "Maestro," which includes a mind-control machine called the Pitchpipe based on harmonics.
- Thursday Next wonders how exactly resident politician Yorrick Kaine keeps his stranglehold on popular opinion, and it turns out he got one of these from the evil Mega Corp. Goliath.
- In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, the crowns do this to entire kingdoms, though somewhat selectively; once she's no longer in the princess's presence, Roane starts to wonder why she was obsessed with helping her.
- The Caps in The Tripods, which were embedded in the humans' heads.
- In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, the bone coin. After Torvald drips water on it, he acts as if mindcontrolled and insists on the sea; Shann forcibly knocks him out of it, after which he tries to remember why he wanted to drip water on it.
- Mages in the Tortall Universe can do this with anything sufficiently shiny and interesting to look at, such as jewelry. Numair can do it with his eyes, sometimes without even trying.
- The Avengers has an episode where the villain who has befriended Emma Peel, offers her a watch as a gift. Unfortunately it essentially turns her into a puppet. It is a relatively dark episode since the villain poses as her friend and there is a hint that Emma is attracted to him.
- Star Trek: Voyager. Homaged in the Captain Proton holodeck program in "Thirty Days". The Twin Mistresses of Evil (played by the famous Delaney twins) have Buster Kincaid (played by Harry Kim) chained up so they can use the terrible Brain Probe, which they promise will turn him into their grovelling slave. Harry does not seem particularly adverse to the idea.
- Star Trek does it for real on occasion. In Dagger of the Mind, a "hospital" basically zombifies people with a hypno-spinny-thingy. Trying to remember what happened to you, let alone tell others, causes increasing pain and eventually death. However, brainwashing in Trek usually takes the form of More than Mind Control, psychic manipulation, etc.
- And then there's the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Game" where a simple Puzzle Game takes over the psyches of the crew. (Think of it as an allegory of what would happen if Angry Birds or Zuma was created with evil intent — if such a thought really is a stretch.) Fortunately, Wesley Crusher makes a guest appearance just in time to save the day.
- Several different varieties turned up during the original run of Doctor Who; sometimes it was even the Doctor himself using them.
- Also Cybus EarPods and the Archangel Network in the new series. Also, take a look at the Silence ... wait, where was I? Cybus and Archangel, right.
- If Karl Rove gives you a cookie, don't eat it.
- One of these is used in Red Dwarf. It only controls the body, giving a rather interesting discussion between victim and targets.
- Used comedically (of course) in All That, with Hypnopants, the evil villain with hypnotic pants. At least once he was beaten by Boring Man boring the pants off him.
- The Tripods: The alien masters first use mass hypnosis then keep the populace permanently hypnotized by putting "caps" on them, suppressing their creativity and curiosity and making them worshipful towards their alien "masters".
- Perfect Strangers: In a Halloween episode, Larry dreams that Balki is an alien who possesses people with his embroidered vests.
- Super Force had numerous episodes where the villain of the week used one or another of these.
- Many, many spells in Dungeons & Dragons; about half the school of Enchantment/Charm is dedicated to magic causing one form or another of mind control. Charm Person is amongst the first (and the weakest) of those spells mastered by a wizard.
- Heroic version: Little King's Story for the Wii from the makers of Harvest Moon features a little boy finding a magical crown that commands the obedience of all around him.
- Command & Conquer features mind control with Yuri in Red Alert 2 and more elaborately in the Yuri's Revenge expansion pack. Units change side (and color) and start fighting against you so long the mind control guys are alive and not controlling someone else instead. Furthermore there are two kinds of mind control: direct, puppet master mind control that involves units temporarily commandeering others and less specific, broadcasting Psychic Beacon mind control culminating in the Psychic Dominator doomsday devices that won the game for Yuri half a minute into the opening cinematic if not for both a lucky fighter crashing into a Dominator power source and Einstein conveniently pulling a functional time machine pretty much from hammerspace.
- The Tiberium Wars games feature the Scrin Mastermind, an alien with the ability to take over units and buildings in a similar manner to Yuri.
- Arthas' sword Frostmourne in Warcraft III is a tool of mind control.
- In World of Warcraft, players with engineering trade skill can learn how to craft a mind control device that allows them to temporarily control a player or a creature (it's highly unreliable and won't work on high level targets, though).
- The old video game Paradroid had you playing as one of these. You controlled the "Influence Device", used to hijack rogue droids on a ship suffering from a Robot Rebellion.
- You, the Brain in a Jar in Cortex Command, use this to control units. Good thing too, since so far, the AI is pretty darned dumb.
- In Video Game/Mabinogi, monsters occasionally drop Fomor scrolls, which Fomor use to control creatures. These may be why something as simple as a freaking fox wants to beat the living daylights out of you
- The O-pins in The World Ends with You are used by the Conductor of Shibuya as part of an Assimilation Plot. Luckily for Neku, both of his Player Pins negate the mind control, since they were made by the Conductor's superior, the Composer.
- The Sensorama from Gadget: Past as Future.
- Terra was a victim of this in Final Fantasy VI. To go into detail, sometime after she was kidnapped by the Empire as a child, Kefka (presumably with Emperor Gestahl's permission), developed a slave crown from Magitek technology which, as the name implies, sapped Terra's free will and emotions (there was also some cut dialogue that was still in the data script that indicated that Terra was an unwilling victim of this procedure). Afterwards, she burned fifty Imperial Soldiers alive all because Kefka told her to do so and she simply couldn't refuse due to the slave crown.
- The Pieces of Eden from the Assassin's Creed series seem to have this among their powers.
- In the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms game Curse of the Azure Bonds, the magic tattoo version of this from the novel Azure Bonds (see Literature) has apparently been licensed out to various evil organizations. The main quest involves the PCs freeing themselves from azure bonds placed by five evil organizations who usually don't work together.
- In MindJack with multiplayer enabled the opposing faction can get help of other players to hack the population of the game to fight against you. However you can do the same as well.
- The fan game Mega Man X Corrupted has the Neuro Spike weapon, which allows X to brainwash an enemy (or missile) by attaching it to them. Regular Mooks will become friendly and will attack other enemies provided that X doesn't run out of weapon energy. As for bosses and minibosses, it makes their attacks end up harming themselves in some form or other.
- The Space Empires series of turn-based strategy games has one of these, called the allegiance subverter. It brainwashes the crews of enemy ships, and you gain control of them.
- The Chips implanted in the world population in Syndicate Wars, allowing the connected UTOPIA network to alter the subjects perception of reality.
- X-Com: UFO Defense has the Psi Amp, which is used by soldiers with psionic abilities to use mind control on aliens.
- Terror From the Deep replaces psionics with a strange technology called "Molecular Control", which uses mind control implants to direct the aliens by some unknown means.
- In the Borderlands 2 DLC Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, Greedtooth is kept under the control of the Handsome Sorcerer by a magical sphere. If you destroy it during the battle with him, he'll snap out of his brainwashing and try to help you. That is until he remembers that you are the ones who killed his King, at which point he continues trying to kill you.
- A staple prop in many sillier cartoons. Expect the word "hypno" to appear somewhere in the device's name.
- Kim Possible offers quite a few examples:
- Compliance Chips ("Total mind control!");
- Mood-controlling "Moodulator";
- "Hypno-Ray" inside a disco ball;
- Love-creating Cupid Ray;
- "Dr. D's Brainwashing Shampoo and Cranium Rinse."
- Spellbinder's eye thing from Batman Beyond. The spiral theme to his costume is probably supposed to heighten the effect.
- Mad Mod's hypno-screens from Teen Titans.
- Deadeye from Chop Socky Chooks.
- The Hypno-Ray from several episodes of Jimmy Neutron.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy used one of those spinning things to brainwash everyone in the cul-de-sac in the episode "Look Into My Eds". Then the Kanker Sisters got their hands on it...
- Freakshow from Danny Phantom had a mystical staff that could be used to mind-control ghosts... or half-ghosts in the case of Danny.
- In WordGirl, this is recurring villain Mr. Big's whole gimmick.
- Sublimino's pocketwatch in Ben10.
- Chowder is partly controlled by a lollipop with a swirly pattern. Once Chowder gets tired of it, he gets controlled by a cinnamon swirl, then pizza.
- In Code Lyoko, XANA control ordinary people through his specters on Earth, or the heroes with the Scyphozoa on Lyoko. He's been known to use other tricks, like tampering with cell phones to make people Brainwashed and Crazy, or sending a Hypno Trinket to Aelita by disguising it as a Valentine's gift from Jérémie.
- Many devices in the Transformers multiverse are able to temporarily "overwrite" the personality and faction programming of one side with that of the other.
- Ren and Stimpy had a helmet that forced the perpetually angry Ren to be happy.
- In his debut episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Plankton enters Spongebob's head and implants his brain with a mind control device to make him steal a Krabby Patty. It almost works, despite Spongebob's constant attempts to resist.
- Plankton succeeds in even more spectacular fashion in the film, when he gives away mind control devices disguised as Chum Bucket helmets and brainwashes the entire town. His control is broken by means of The Power of Rock. Yes, it is awesome.
- He also does the Mind-Control-Shampoo-Gambit on Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, trying to get them to discredit the Krusty Krab.
- Used often in Codename: Kids Next Door.
- Quack Pack: Huey duck sets off for the dentist, but winds up instead subject for an evil scientist, who accidentally equips the duck with the bio-remote the big bad needed to use to conquer the world. As the headgear gives Huey the near-infinite power of mind control, Huey becomes mad with power and makes himself emperor of the world by forcing the populace to worship him, but realizes he's still miserable. Played for laughs but still a What the Hell, Hero? moment.
- W.I.T.C.H.: Appeared in both episodes, "Walk This Way", and "G is For Garbage", as a mystical horn that hypnotized its victims into trance-marchers who did anything they could by those who possessed it. However, the horn must be pointed directly at the victim for it to work. Hypnotizes nearly all the girls into doing the villain's bidding in the second episode.
- Sonic Sat AM: In one episode, Robotnik uses a stolen crystal computer's "submission spell" to control Princess Acorn and Bunny.
- Beverly Hills Teens: Used by Pierce, who uses a spherical device (stolen from Chester) to hypnotize a girl into going on a date with him and all of the gang into being his slaves.
- Bratz: The snobby antagonist Burdine uses a hypnosis tool called the Hypnozapper she brought over the internet to hypnotize Sasha and Jade through their PDAs and forcing them into sabotaging the Bratz on the night they're set to receive the "Teen Choice Award." Meanwhile the Tweevil twins try to hypnotize Cameron and Dylan so they will fall in love with them. Also a source of fetish fuel when Burdine first tests her device on the Tweevil twins into hopping like rabbits and barking like dogs.
- Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Lilo uses a centipede-like experiment named Checkers capable of giving the user who wears it command over all living creatures, to make the town worship her as their queen and make Mertle and her friends build her the locust moat she wanted after they rejected her idea earlier. Although, the victims retain their personalities but are completely under the wearer's power. Eventually, Lilo learns the error of her ways when she finds that Mertle has imprisoned most of the townspeople for the slightest infractions. When Lilo decided to step down, Gantu took Checkers and was in power until Stitch, who was immune to its powers, gathered several experiments to help overthrow him.
- My Gym Partners A Monkey: When Jake finds a diamond doorknob, he discovers its power when all of his animal classmates (except human Adam) become enchanted with the item because of how shiny it is.
- Underdog: Simon Bar Sinister replaces phone booths with "phony booths" that enslave anyone who uses them (including, inevitably, Underdog himself).
- Birdman episode "Empress of Evil". The title villain uses her serpent-shaped mind-control headpiece.
- This is the Mad Hatter's schtick in Batman: The Animated Series. When he did it to mice, it was cute and scientific. When he did it to a female co-worker named Alice on whom he had a huge unrequited crush, it became creepy and stalkerish, but he relented and let her go when Batman called him out on it.
- The Problem Solverz has Mayan ice cream, which Sweetie Creamie uses to become an evil overlord and make Horace fall in love with her.
- The Phineas and Ferb episode "Brain Drain" has Perry wearing Dr. Doofensmirtz's "De-volitionator" (Volition being the ability to choose one's actions), so Perry is forced to do anything Doofensmirtz tells him to do. It all leads to a very catchy song called "There's a Platypus Controlling Me."
- In the Mega Man cartoon, Dr. Wily has a handheld reprogrammer that can also turn off robots. This gets a Call Back in a later episode when Tar of the Lion Men uses it to reprogram Protoman, Roll, and the rest of Wily's robots to serve him.
- The first episode of Family Guy had Stewie trying to retrieve his mind control device from Lois. Near the end of the episode Stewie uses it on the judge to save Lois and Peter from a jail sentence. At first it doesn't look like it works, until the judge mysteriously gets Peter his job back.
- The Crowns Of The Titans in The Smurfs episode "The Master Smurf", when one of them was worn by Greedy, not only enabled him to control the minds of his fellow Smurfs, but it also affected his own mind. Papa Smurf had to recite a spell to keep the other crown from doing the same to his own mind.
- In the episode "Good Dog, McLeish" of Pound Puppies (2010), Strudel uses a pair of glasses to convince the head dog catcher to sign for a package the Pound Puppies wanted to use to get an adoptee to his person in Milwaukee. The glasses work, but not in the way she hoped.
- Project MK-ULTRA.
- A popular Conspiracy Theory holds that blood drives are a "cover" for implanting mind control chips, and the secret was blown when someone ran a stud finder over his arm and found the chip. The MythBusters showed that you can detect a microchip implanted under the skin with a stud finder (they borrowed a dog with an ID chip to practice), but found no chips in either Jamie or Adam after a trip to the Red Cross.
- Well of course they didn't, they were being mind-controlled not to!
- An episode of Through the Wormhole showed experiments that include applying a magnetic field to certain parts of the brain reduce the ability to judge right from wrong. It showed that people will lower Attempted Murder from an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 (in terms of evil) down to a 6. It's just a start but yup, we're getting there folks.