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Mind Game Ship
There's this one person. They're not very nice, although they're probably very polite, and they can be very charming... in their own way. The thing is, they like playing with your mind a lot. They like pushing your buttons for kicks, and playing you like a puppet in some kind of elaborate game.

For some reason, they've got a special interest in playing someone in particular. Maybe that someone is especially pure and innocent, at the start, in which case they can expect their personality to be broken or at least corrupted. Maybe that someone is seen by the Manipulative Bastard as a Worthy Opponent and even a potential player themselves, in which case there will soon be Gambit Pileup in the future. The Svengali will tend to have this kind of relationship to their protege(s).

In any case, for some people in the audience, they find all those mind games kind of sexy. Could be the Stockholm Syndrome kicking in, or having a too literal interpretation of the expression "Mind Screw" or could be the fact that getting to know someone well enough to play with their mind that way is kind of... intimate. And an excellent fodder for Dark Fics.

Usually a subtrope of Foe Yay. Not to be confused with the Mind Screw (where it's the author who screws with the mind of the audience). Not related to Mind Game the movie. See also Angel/Devil Shipping.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime/Manga  
  • SommelierShipping (Cilan/Cabernet) comes off as this, with Cilan being the manipulator.
  • Johan Liebert (the eponymous Monster) and Dr. Kenzou Tenma.
    • Also, Johan and Anna/Nina. She is probably the only person in the world that he cares about, but he's not above mind raping her, allowing his henchman to kill her, and manipulating her into nearly shooting herself. And not to mention those certain "emails" he sent her about being "born to smother [her] with flowers." ... Whatever that means.
  • Osamu Tezuka's Michio Yuki from MW actually did have an explicit relationship with his Mind Game Ship target, Garai. Make of that what you will.
  • Seishirou/Subaru from Tokyo Babylon and X1999 are a very iconic and canonical example of this trope. In X, Fuuma also invokes this trope with Kamui.
  • Akio and Touga in Revolutionary Girl Utena. With each other, and with both boys and girls alike.
  • MÄR: Phantom and Alviss. Made canon in the anime.
  • Griffith/Guts.
    • Griffith/Casca.
  • Creed and Train in Black Cat.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Hisoka/Gon.
    • Hisoka/anyone, really. And Chrollo/Kurapika is pretty common in fanfiction.
  • While not foes in most arcs, Mion and her twin Shion from Higurashi: When They Cry count, especially in Meakashi-hen and Watanagashi-hen.
    • Before you get too excited, you should know that it ends badly for both of them in both arcs.
  • Alucard and Integra in Hellsing, especially in the manga.
    • In the manga Alucard and Integra have something like a Bodyguard Crush dynamic since their meeting. The Gonzo Anime, on the other hand, they did have head games with Alucard testing her when they met (which never happened in the manga, she wished for a knight to rescue her and got it). Alucard's loyalty to Integra is unquestionable without setting her Boundand Gagged in an illusion.
    • Despite their Bodyguard Crush dynamic and his Undying Loyalty, there are still shades of this. Alucard tests her quite a few times and constantly goads her, spurring her onwards into killing humans and the undead and then expressing his, erm...excitement over it when she allows him to give them hell. In the OVA official (FUNimation) subtitles, he even asks her if declaring war excited her. Alucard has interesting ways of declaring his Undying Loyalty to her. While it might not be 'mind games' per se, there are definite undertones of powerplay in their interactions in both the manga/OVA and the anime and they certainly apply.
  • Peacemaker Kurogane: Later on, after Suzu goes insane, his love/hate towards Tetsunosuke makes their relationship prime Mind Game Ship fuel.
  • Naoe/Takaya in Mirage of Blaze. They both have been known to give as good as they get.
  • Allen/Tyki in D.Gray-Man.
    • Don't forget Road/anyone, although Allen is the main target of her warped affection.
  • Code Geass: Lelouch with a good number of people, especially Rolo and Suzaku. And to a lesser extent, there's also Mao/Lelouch.
    • Some fans like Mao/Shirley as well (make of that what you will....)
    • Not to mention Lelouch/C.C., which persists for the very same reason Word of God gave when they tried to sink it: they see each other as intellectual equals.
  • Melfina/Harry in Outlaw Star. Thank God his Mind Rape hacking attempts failed. She still expressed pity for him when he died.
  • Naruto is practically brimming with this sort of thing. It doesn't help that most of the characters show signs of having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Of exceptional note is Orochimaru with many people, especially Sasuke. Later on, Pain and Naruto have traces of this, to an extent. As do Itachi and Sasuke. Additionally, any Kabuto pairing is bound to have some of this- he usually presents himself as this harmless, bumbling oaf with Nerd Glasses, but is in fact in league with this villain, and...well...poor Naruto's look of betrayal when he realizes this is almost too much.
    • Naruto's whole innocence, gullibility and inspiring-Messiah-like outlook are a lot of reasons why a lot of fanfics either a) mind-screw him over, or b) pair [insert name here]xNaruto ... and not the other way around... It's probably why the author likes to break him so much too.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Dark Marik and Dark Bakura with just about everyone.
    • To a degree, normal Marik has this kind of relationship with Yugi/Yami Yugi, as he's explicitly challenging him and playing games with his mind, presumably so that killing him would be more interesting.
  • During the third season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the Judai/Yubel ship was also very messed up, though rather one-sided, until the very end when Juudai returns her love and fuses their souls.
  • And in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, we get Divine with Aki playing the trope to the hilt.
  • Mukuro/Tsuna in Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. Based on Mukuro's obsession with obtaining Tsuna's body at any cost and screwing with his head. And Mukuro/Chrome.
    • Also, Byakuran/anyone but especially with either Tsuna or Uni.
  • Several interpretations of Light/L (Death Note) seem to portray their love/hate/manipulate relationship as culminating in a Two Xanatos Pileup.
    • Shoot, if you paired Light OR L with different people, it could exhibit this trope.
    • Also, Beyond Birthday/anyone.
  • An example of this that's not Foe Yay: Sensui and Itsuki from YuYu Hakusho.
    • Kurama/Karasu canonically and any halfway realistic Kurama/Hiei, considering Hiei dislikes almost everyone, including himself, and kitsune play games practically obsessively. Considering Hiei seems to enjoy being around Kurama beyond anyone, one could say he enjoys partaking in Kurama's teasing.
  • The majority of Axis Powers Hetalia shipping-based fics featuring Russia use this approach.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the relationship between Roy and Ed can be interpreted as this. A lot of people love pairing them together, quite a bit of it having to do with how Roy knows exactly which buttons to push to make Ed angry, and how much he enjoys doing so.
  • The interactions between Gauron and Sousuke in Full Metal Panic! are this. Gauron constantly taunts Sousuke and tries to make him go berserk. He loves reminding him of the past, and makes him feel uncomfortable by being creepily and overly affectionate with him (including calling him "Kashim" and "Honey"). Especially noticeable during the the third season, where Gauron pretty much mind screws Sousuke by rubbing in how Sousuke's friends caused him to become weaker, and telling him that he had his minion kill Sousuke's love, Kaname. He takes much delight in seeing Sousuke's reaction, and continues to goad Sousuke into killing him (which apparently is his idea of consummating their relationship).
    • And then there's the whole conversation in the light novel where Gauron says that back when he was fighting Sousuke at the beginning, he fantasized about killing him and then raping his dead body. Sousuke did not react well...
  • Bleach has lots of this:
    • The relationship between Ulquiorra and Orihime is a textbook example. She's a naive and kindhearted girl with hidden issues, who forced to go into a strange land upon Aizen's orders. He's the one who relayed said orders to her, was made into her jailed and interacted with her the most — and was also caustic, cynical and emotionless to inhuman points.
    • Aizen/Ichigo. Aizen/anyone, period. (Except Gin, maybe.) We all know what happened to the one person who gave in... Poor Momo.
    • Depending on what sort of...alterations were included in his healing process, Mayuri/Uryu as well.
    • Gin Ichimaru gets his own subsection, because he gets this with EVERYONE he's paired with:
      • Gin/Ichigo. Gin demonstrated that he really loves fucking with Ichigo's head by picking at his fear and insecurity.
      • Long, long before Ichigo, Gin was already messing with Kira's head.
      • Gin/Rukia. It's canon that Gin scares the shit out of poor Rukia. When she was in Soul Society waiting her execution she stated that even if he wasn't talking to her, she'd get this ominous feeling like "snakes were curling themselves around her" and she could feel "every bead of sweat" on her body whenever he was in her presence. There's the fact that Gin was a total asshole and told her that he would save her from being executed before squashing her hopes down flat, sending the emotionally broken girl into an Heroic BSOD.
    • Rangiku, Gin's Only Friend, doesn't have it much better. Yes, his plan was all centered about protecting her since she was the only person consistently kind to him but he still emotionally screwed her over while trying to protect her.
    • Tsukishima/anyone. Specially Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, Shishigawara, or even Ginjou.
  • Kira and Flay in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. Though Kira was genuinely in love with her without knowing she initially was just using him, and this becomes a moot point due to her Becoming the Mask. Eventually, she dies before she gets to set the record straight and make it official, so Kira never finds out the relationship was originally a lie.
  • Akito and Shigure in Fruits Basket. Though they got their happy ending in the manga. Akito/Anyone qualify, considering how touchy-feely she gets with everyone in the Zodiac, and even her demeanor around Tohru until she gets better thanks to Tohru herself could be interpreted thusly.
  • Muraki, of Descendants of Darkness, with everyone he interacts. And how.
  • Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro: Neuro to Yako. (As the image on the show's page suggests.)
  • Both Sae Sasaki and Ryo Okayasu from Peach Girl play with people's minds by relying on their ability to charm people into doing what they want. Ryo's manipulation/mistreatment of Sae herself is so bad, though, that it's enough for her to change her ways. Sort of.
    • Sae/Momo. The major plot point of the series is how Sae pretends to be Momo's friend and secretly attempts to undermine her because of her own insecurity and jealousy of Momo.
  • Deadman Wonderland has Genkaku/Nagi.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!: Tsukuyomi/Setsuna and Fate/Negi at least before Fate's Heel-Face Turn.
    • As well as Kurt Godel/Negi.
    • And Tsukuyomi/either Fate or Negi.
  • Xellos / Lina from the Slayers adhere to this. It doesn't help that Xellos apparently knows all of her weaknesses either, even the stuff he shouldn't technically know about.
  • From Loveless any ship involving Seimei will be this. Most notably the Seimei/Ritsuka pairing.
  • Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure has two instances of this at the same time, when Cyrus manipulates Mitsumi into rejoining Team Galactic and forcing her to battle Hareta, while all the while taunting her over her headset about how she's alone in the world. By the end, she's so distraught that she basically asks Jupiter to kill her. Later on she forgives him and helps facilitate his recovery. But the manipulation was intended for Hareta, and so Cyrus launches into an 11-page tirade about how hatred is the only thing humans can feel and that's why he's going to set things right by ending the universe and starting it again under his tight control, concluding it with "You must hate me even more now." Hareta looks up at him and cries his eyes out, saying "you do bad things, but I don't hate you." Cyrus asks himself if, after all he's done to Hareta, this boy still cares about everyone—and nearly stops his plan until Saturn intervenes. Basically, Cyrus managed to mind game HIMSELF. This, of course, doesn't stop Cyrus from trying to kill Hareta again later that volume, but given that this is the only continuity where he manages to redeem himself, it's obvious what impact this had.
  • Ranma ˝: This is one of several reasons people ship Ranma/Nabiki.
  • Aion and Chrono in Chrono Crusade tend to be written like this in yaoi fanfic. And some of the scenes in the anime actually border on this without the need of fanfic to back it up.
  • Get Backers: Takuma and Ban. It's a bit one-sided on Takuma's part though.
  • Durarara!!
    • Izaya explicitly states in the light novel that he despises Shizuo and would rather be as far away from him as possible. He also hates talking about him in general and seems to get pissed whenever anyone mentions him. Shizuo's the last person Izaya would try to play mindgames with face-to-face - he just wants him dead. None of this stops the slashers, be they in-universe or not.
    • Seiji Yagiri and Mika Harima, either. They look like Sickeningly Sweethearts... and are anything but.
    Seiji: I'm so in love with the scars on your neck...
  • Soul Eater: Medusa/Stein. Canonical seductive touching while Medusa tries to drive Stein insane? It's all hallucinated, but that just means it's working. Naturally, fanfic-writing proponents of the couple have taken this concept and run with it.
  • From D.N.Angel, Krad/Satoshi. Whenever we see the two together alone, it's generally Krad cuddling Satoshi from behind, or declaring that "You are my everything, Satoshi-sama". Would be incredibly sweet if not for the fact that Krad is also a homicidal blonde angel, who only really wants Satoshi for his body.
  • Albert and the Count in Gankutsuou.
  • This is the main appeal of shipping Keith and Matsuka in Toward the Terra, given that Keith seems to exert every effort to give Matsuka a vicious case of Stockholm Syndrome, and if anything it works a little too well - by the end of the series, Matsuka is willing to sacrifice his life to save Keith's.
  • Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest: Haguro towards Inugami. To a lesser extent, Ryuuko towards Inugami.
  • Somewhat benign case, but entirely canon, Hayate the Combat Butler Miki has a stated crush on Hinagiku, and she's shown that she plays a lot of mind games on her. It's even on her profile as one of the things she likes. Luckily for the harem, it seems that she's using these powers to push Hayate and Hinagiku together.
  • Sebastian and Ciel in Black Butler, in the sense that all the moments of Ho Yay between the two come off more as nightmarish threats considering that Sebastian is a demon and is merely killing time until he gets to eats Ciel's soul.
    • Sebastian/anyone. It's one of the many things he does best.
    • Season two gives us Alois/Ciel, which is practically canon. On Alois's side, at least. Also, Alois/Hannah.
    • And Claude/Ciel. Thanks to episode 9 which has him practically mind raping Ciel, and declaring how he wants to "stick [his] needle into his soft skin and suck out his sensual soul".
    • Grell/Sebastian. It also shows up in canon.
  • Knives/Vash and Legato/Vash in Trigun.
  • Vassalord: Barry and Rayflo, though Rayflo wants no part of it.
    • Rayfell and Charley have a bit of this going on as well. Charley also wants no part of it.
  • In Pandora Hearts Vincent has traces of this going on with Gil and everyone else, but especially with Gil and Ada.
    • Though, after discovering Ada is actually a Nightmare Fetishist, he started to regret his mind game with her; and after she said she would willingly put her life in danger to protect him, maybe his Mind Game Ship with her started to grow to a complete love or at least crush.
  • Sanetoshi Watase and anyone he interacts with. Specially with Himari, the Princess of the Crystal, and DOUBLE in the case of Kanba.
  • Hino and Yunoki of Kiniro No Corda.
  • Shiki and Akira of Togainu no Chi.
  • Yuno and Yukiteru in Mirai Nikki have shades of this.
  • Ren and Aichi in Cardfight!! Vanguard.
  • Rei and Kyoko from Sangatsu no Lion. Kyoko often manipulates Rei when she meets up with him or drops by his place, veiling her words with signs that she may actually care for him despite it all.

    Comics 
  • Spider-Man with the Venom symbiote, of course.
  • The Joker and Batman. Especially in The Dark Knight.
    • There's an awful lot of Joker/Batman shippers out there that find the comic version more fitting of this trope than the version in that film. Especially since in the comics, The Joker just loves to play around with Foe Yay so the fans don't have to, which the Nolanverse Joker never really does in quite the same way.
  • Daken and Bullseye in Dark Avengers. Daken's a manipulative freak with mind-control pheromone powers, Bullseye is utterly psychopathic.

    Fanfiction 
  • Dean and Jimmy Novak/Castiel in Angelface and its sequels.
  • A lot of Draco/Hermione fanfiction ends up like this.
  • Sympathy Crime, a Persona 4 fic, features the pairing of Yosuke/Adachi, where Adachi manipulates Yosuke's emotions in hopes of breaking up the investigation team, and also for his own sick enjoyment.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fanfic The Games We Play sees Mare Do Well making a bet with Rainbow Dash: that she can get the pegasi to fall in love with her before Dash can unmask her. To this end, she teases and misleads her to suspect all of her friends, and takes a lot of enjoyment in how much she screws with Rainbow's head.
  • The main character does this with everyone in the Naruto fic Kakashi's Kid. Being the narrator helps even more.

    Film - Animation 

    Film - Live-Action 
  • The Watcher: David/Joel. Full fucking stop.
  • Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs are often portrayed like this. Including in the novels.
  • O.W. Grant from Interstate 60 does this with EVERYBODY. Other characters in this movie also prove to be able to do that.
  • Red Eye anybody? The Jackson/Lisa relationship is built on this.
  • Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker from The Dark Knight has shades of this with everyone he comes into contact with, especially with Batman, Harvey, and Rachel.
  • The Green Goblin and Spider-Man in the first movie.
  • Lili and Tim Curry Satan from Legend.
  • Inception: At times, Cobb and Mal can become this. Especially on Mal's part.
    • Especially when you realize the "normal" Mal is never shown, only the Mal after Cobb's first inception and the Mal Cobb created in his mind. Mind games indeed.
    • Since everyone Robert Fischer interacts with in the movie is messing with his head in one way or another, Shipping featuring him tends to end up this way.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The White Witch and Edmund.
  • Nine And A Half Weeks: Everything about the relationship on John's part is a Mind Game Ship — emotionally, intellectually, sexually.
  • Peter Pan: Wendy and Captain Hook, as well as Peter Pan and Captain Hook.
    • Tinkerbell to Wendy as well.
  • The Stunt Man.
  • The Wizard of Oz: The Wicked Witch and Dorothy.
  • Marissa's obsession with Hanna.

    Literature 
  • Rhett/Scarlett from Gone with the Wind comes across as this at times; Rhett is definitely manipulating her and toys with her emotions. Subverted in that she causes him significantly more angst than he does her, despite hardly manipulating him consciously at all.
  • The eponymous Harry Potter with Voldemort and Snape, to a lesser extent.
    • Ginny and Tom Riddle in the second book.
    • Dumbledore, in a benign sort of way, to Voldemort.
  • Kushiel's Legacy: Melisande Shahrizai is like this canonically with Phedre. There appears to be some genuine love buried amidst the casual backstabbing.
  • Lara Raith seems to enjoy manipulating Harry Dresden a bit more than can be considered strictly professional.
  • In the Discworld Watch books, the relationship between Vetinari and Vimes.
    • Also Vetinari and Moist, although they get less screen time together.
    • Vetinari and anyone.
    • This is usually how Susan/Teatime is played in Fan Fic.
  • The relation between Valmont and Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses can be interpreted as this.
  • Warrior Cats: Presumably the basis of pretty much any shipping with Sol.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: When people ship Mitth'raw'nuruodo without making him into a Draco in Leather Pants, this tends to be his characterization. It's not uncommon to see him shipped with Maris Ferasi, a Wide-Eyed Idealist who sees him as completely honorable and good.
  • Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. It started out with mild hints in Silence of the Lambs and then went full-bore into this trope in the next book. In the end, Hannibal gets the girl.
  • Forgotten Realms: Jarlaxle and Entreri are this, though the platonic version. Unless it's Slash Fic, in which case there's a 50/50 chance or better of Jarlaxle seriously screwing with Artemis' head for... other purposes. Though in all fairness, he is a drow. Hey, Mind Rape is Love.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Count Olaf and Violet.
  • Enid Blyton (Malory Towers). Gwen and Mary-Lou and later Gwen and Clarissa (until she develops a spine). To what extent this applies depends very much on your personal take on the canon, but the 'pushy, dominant partner in a near-exclusive friendship' theme is very much there, even if you're not prone to subtextual interpretations.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Fits perfectly for those who ship Littlefinger and Sansa, although it's not a very common pairing, as most prefer Sansa and The Hound. Why not have both? At any rate, Littlefinger/Sansa entirely canon in one direction, and given what Littlefinger is (bearing in mind that he is prominent in this status in a series chock full of them by normal standards) and what he seems to be trying to do to Sansa, this trope is in full effect.

     Live Action TV  
  • Burn Notice Michael and Anson. Anson enjoys torturing Michael with his insights way too much.
  • T-Bag/Michael from Prison Break. T-Bag/anyone really,
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angelus was apparently fond of it, doing it to Buffy during season 2 and Drusilla sometime in the 19th century. When they bring him back in Angel, he seems to take a special pleasure in playing with Fred and with Faith. Angelus just loves breaking hotties.
  • LOST: Ben Linus. With just about everyone. And it is awesome.
  • Oz: Ryan and Dr. Nathan. Then there's the chaotic Chris/Beecher relationship and the Foe Yay-tastic rivalry between Schillinger/Beecher.
  • In a much milder way this is how all of House's relationships need to work, from the love of his life to the one-off characters he flirts with. Shipping him with Cuddy depends on this.
  • Before their Foe Yay became so unsubtle it could be carved with a chainsaw, the Doctor and the Master of Doctor Who fit this trope. Their Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado incarnations in particular took a certain amount of delight from their mutual manipulations and betrayals.
  • The Firefly fandom's tendency to ship River and Jayne often uses this as an aspect of it, as River does like to screw around with people's heads, when her own head isn't screwy itself.
    • Ditto for Simon/Jayne, and even for Mal/Jayne.
  • Lots of (good) Mylar (Sylar/Mohinder) will fall into this category. It's that screwed up a pairing.
    • Sylar/Claire and Sylar/Peter are also rather heavy in this, with the ship element of the first being practically canon, at least from Sylar's side. That's just what Sylar's like.
    • After gaining immortality, Sylar points out to Claire that as much as she might hate him, unless they both lose their powers, eventually it's going to be just the two of them for the rest of time.
    • Now that there's Elle, she's sometimes the aggressor with Claire, sometimes the subject with Mr. Bennet, and at least once even with Monica Dawson.
  • Patty and Ellen from Damages are the definition of this, except now Ellen is also showing her Manipulative Bastard skills too.
  • The entire second season of Gossip Girl saw Chuck and Blair competing over who could envoke this trope the most.
  • Justified Raylan and Boyd. Boyd is one of the few people who can really push Raylan's buttons due to their shared past.
  • The Mentalist has Patrick Jane, the man who flirts with everyone while screwing with their heads. He reserves his most magical bits of mind-screw for Lisbon.
  • Sherlock gives us Sherlock/Irene and Sherlock/Moriarty.
    • As does Elementary, especially since that is in fact the same 'ship.
  • Justin and Alex fit this trope to a tee in Wizards
  • The developments between Jim Keats and Alex Drake in season three of Ashes to Ashes makes this one near-canonical. Keats wants to tempt Alex away from Gene and use her to bring Gene down. While there's no explicit sexuality in their relationship, they flirt during multiple episodes, and in the finale Keats gets very touchy-feely with her under the guise of "comforting" her. Of course, it's revealed that he's quite possibly the Devil himself, so the mind game elements are a lot less surprising.
  • Head Six to Dr. Gaius Baltar and Head Baltar to Caprica-Six in Battlestar Galactica.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: In canon Hoyt has this kind of relationship with Jane. Jane wants no part of it.
  • Supernatural: Crowley tends to toss around double entendres like they're going out of style, but whenever he faces off against Castiel, the "sub" just goes out of the subtext.
  • Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham on Hannibal.

    Theatre 
  • A Streetcar Named Desire: Stanley/Blanche. They are somewhat attracted to each other at first, but Stanley eventually sees through Blanche's mask and his continued involvement in her life causes her to descend into permanent insanity.
  • There are interpretations of Iago and Othello like this.

    Video Games 
  • This role can be played by GLaDOS from Portal.
  • Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII did this to Cloud quite a bit in the original, but by the Compilation his sole raison d'etre seemed to be to touch Cloud's brain in intimate places, and it's marvelous fuel for the Cloud/Sephiroth shippers.
  • This is also how Gary/Petey is usually played. It probably helps that one of the earliest times we see Gary and Petey interact it's Gary getting up in his face to taunt him about liking to watch the swim team and alternately calling him a sick sad pervert and sick, sad and closeted gay. And he expresses a desire to make him into a real man. (Or a woman. Or something.) Unfortunately, some people don't seem to quite grasp the subtle delights of a good old-fashioned mind game, and turn Gary into just a misunderstood, gentle, good-hearted woobie.
  • Any pairings involving Pyramid Head of Silent Hill will inevitably be this trope, due mostly to his role of penetrating (ahem) a character's mind and doing all sorts of nasty things with it.
  • Maleficent and Riku in Kingdom Hearts. Well, it's either that or a Mrs. Robinson deal, depending on your perspective...
  • Alma and Becket in First Encounter Assault Recon 2: Project Origin to a very disturbing degree.
  • This is generally accepted by the The World Ends with You fandom to be Joshua and Neku's relationship and primarily because Joshua mixes Mind Screw with Ho Yay like Reese's mixes peanut butter with chocolate. This comes from Another Day, which uses alternate universe versions of the main characters. Yaoi Fangirls have picked it up and run off with it anyway.
    Joshua: I could never live with myself if I let you go alone. Let's spend some quality time.
    Beat: Whoa ho ho! You guys are... Like, you ain't...
    Shiki: Blue and Pink!? Sure, they go.. but I didn't know they went LIKE THAT!
    Neku: Now look what you've done!
    • Joshua also lays it on thick right from their very first meeting, after he forces them in to a pact:
      Joshua: The name's Yoshiya Kiryu. But Mother and Father call me Joshua.
      Neku: Please don't tell me...
      Joshua: I guess you can call me Joshua, too - seeing as how you're my dear, dear partner. Hee hee...
    • He openly admits in the same conversation that he was watching over/stalking Neku, and was impressed with him. The Ho Yay continues with Josh's teasing and Neku's attempts to fight it dwindling as he starts to finally get used to his eccentric 'partner'. When he 'dies' saving him from Sho, we all end up liking him, and it makes the Mind Screw elements that much harder to deal with. It's revealed that he escaped to a parallel world (one obsessed with Tin Pin, according to the Reports) during his Heroic Sacrifice, and he glibly tells Neku that he had tried to kill him before the Game, after Neku had been guilt-ridden for the whole week thinking that Josh was innocent and that his mistrust got him killed. Despite this, Neku risks his own life and the existence of Shibuya to avoid shooting Josh, even after he's revealed himself to be the Composer who wants to destroy Shibuya (to save the rest of the world from its corruption) and challenged him to a duel with pistols. Josh ''does'' shoot, but he also resurrects them all and leaves Shibuya alone, changing his mind, and in the ending, while Neku says that while he can't forgive him, he still trusts him.
  • While Mephiles from Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) probably won't be showing up in any other Sonic games any time soon, there are those who like the character enough for him to fit in this trope as the manipulator. Being one of the biggest manipulative bastards the franchise has ever seen (meta-wise) doesn't hurt.
  • Ace Attorney Fan Fic likes to do this with Kristoph Gavin/anyone (especially Phoenix).
  • In Team Fortress 2, The Spy in pretty much any pairing, and the Medic when wimpified.
  • In Tales of Symphonia fic, this is involved in pretty much any pairing that includes Yggdrasill.
  • In Tales of Graces anything between Richard and Asbel could be seen as this if Lambda gets involved. Particularly when he's in Richard, since that spices Richard's obvious crush on Asbel with flavours of Yandere
  • Link and Ghirahim of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. In a strange case, Ghirahim isn't really that manipulative, but he gets really close with Link when they meet.
  • No subtext needed, this is pretty much the actual relationship between the PC and Damien in Magical Diary. It starts as a romantic pairing, and gets progressively more messed up.
  • Vamp and Raiden in Metal Gear Solid. Shows up in canon too.

    Visual Novels 
  • Battler and Beatrice from Umineko no Naku Koro ni. Beatrice is a witch with absolute power of life and death over Battler, to the point of casually killing and resurrecting him to prove a point, and is always gloating over new and extravagant ways to make him question his grasp on reality. Battler, in return, adamantly refuses — to her face — to believe in the existence of witches or any power these nonexistent beings might or might not have over him. By the end of the fourth chapter, though, the one thing neither can deny is the heaping amounts of UST that exist between them. They get married at the end of Episode 6. In Beatrice's own words: "Let's start torturing each other, USHIROMIYA BATTORAAAAAAA!!"
  • Taichi and Touko from Cross Channel, albeit a surprisingly real/different example where both parties are insane. Taichi's the only one playing mind-games, but after he realizes what Touko's "problems" are, he hurriedly tries to cut the relationship short, leading to Touko stabbing herself in an attempt to get Taichi to love her again. Given that the story takes disorders very seriously, this example is especially tragic.

     Web Comics  
  • Miho/Anyone.
  • Rojo of Cuanta Vida keeps talking about how he likes Bleu. The first time he said this was immediately before putting out a cigarette on Bleu's face.
  • Wanda of Erfworld has a definite thing for Jillian Zamussels, her "favorite prisoner" and frequent torture subject. There are explicit instances (such as their first interaction in the strip) and constant overtones of Foe Yay and Les Yay, not to mention More Than Mind Control when Jillian is later released with the intent of becoming The Mole. Even after all this, Jillian still feels strongly for Wanda and continually tries to persuade her to defect.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, King Radical towards Dr. McNinja (in a totally awesome way).
  • Homestuck features a veritable queen of this trope, Vriska Serket, who has mind control powers and throws them around in a frankly cavalier manner. When she's not forcing people to cripple themselves for her amusement, she's systematically undermining their self-esteem and basically just making them cry. Naturally she gets shipped with everyone. We also have Terezi Pyrope, who doesn't even need mind control powers to manipulate you, and gets under Vriska's skin more than anyone else in the universe. Naturally she gets shipped with Vriska and also everyone else. In fact, a good quarter of Homestuck's main cast is populated by members of an alien species whose romantic lives revolve entirely around this.
    • Dirk Strider seems to make more or less deliberate attempts to fit into this trope towards his crush Jake, but rather than the ironic puppetmaster he wants to be seen as, he comes off as clingy, overbearing, socially awkward, and stalker-y. All of which is accurate.
  • From Roommates the Mr. King / Mrs. Norrington ship qualifies and they are pretty evenly matched in the mind games department. Magnificent Bastard / The Gadfly, one manipulates for his own agenda the other For the Lulz (and because she can).
  • Billy Thatcher and Amical from morphE. Amical is a kidnapper who flirts aggressively with his captives and uses a number of kind and cruel tactics to turn his students in to friends, allies and sometimes (at least it is implied) romantic partners. Billy is desperate to use all the weapons at his disposal, including Amical's tendancy to flirt, to help him win freedom. Any scene that involves them throwing barbs and trying to work the other has a very noticable undertone of this trope.

    Web Original 
  • Any pairings with Ask That Guy will be this trope, especially when the fandom ships him with The Nostalgia Critic or Dr. Insano.
  • Happy Tree Friends fandom sometimes does this with Evil Flippy and Flaky, or Good Flippy and Evil Flippy.
    • This is carried on in the show as well, especially in the latter episodes, where Flaky becomes terrified of Flippy and tries to get rid of him in any possible way, even though he doesn't kill her anymore and acts really nice to her. In Without A Hitch he acts nicely and tries to help her, but she constantly thinks he's following her to murder her so she ends up stabbing him.
  • Grandmaster of Theft has Deus canonically doing this towards Cassidy. While he generally enjoys causing trouble to anyone for sake of drama, she interests him more than anyone else because of her abilities as Magnificent Bitch and drive to capture him.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Peter Mandelson towards then-Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer "Boy" George Osborne. They've since apparently made it up. No, probably not like that. Who knows.


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