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More Than Mind Control

"A woman came up to me and said,
'I'd like to poison your mind,
With wrong ideas that appeal to you,
Though I am not unkind.'"
They Might Be Giants, "Whistling in the Dark".

Mind Control is an effective weapon, but your garden-variety brainwashing or hypnosis is too mundane for some viewers, too predictable for some plots, too weak for some heroes, and too unambitious for some villains.

To that end, mind control in some cases requires a lot of foreplay, independent of magic influence, on the part of the villain. You can't force someone to reject The Power of Friendship until you pick away at their jealousy and convince them they want to turn on their friends. You can't erase someone's memories until you talk them through the most painful and convince them they want to forget everything. You can't make someone join you without convincing them their current life is worthless and they don't want to continue with it. It's essentially mind control, yes, but it's more than mind control.

Magic forces may be at work, but it's really the despair, trickery, lies, and sometimes even truth, that are thrown in that successfully break the victim's spirit. Instead of the villain forcing a victim to do something against their will, the villain changes the victim's will. It's Deal with the Devil meets Break Them by Talking.

So, if you have to talk someone into mind control, what's the point of using magic or high tech at all? Creating illusions can help make your case. Isolation is key, so magically cutting them off from support is effective. Maybe science or sorcery is just needed to accelerate the effects. In extreme cases, outright Mind Rape is utilized. This type of brainwashing, called Stockholm Syndrome in the real world, supposedly requires a minimum of 72 hours, but with a sci-fi or sorcerous catalyst, it can be achieved in less than 72 seconds.

Also, it can overlap directly with actual mind control. In many instances, More Than Mind Control is simply a method of making the process of the takeover easier, because by removing their resistance to your ideas, you remove the struggle in taking control of their thoughts. By having them submit to you, they essentially hand their free will over to you, making your spell or device much more effective on them. It also makes it harder for them to revert, because they now have an active resistance towards their own original beliefs.

More Than Mind Control requires charisma, finesse and a lot of patience, but villains usually don't mind because they find it so much more satisfying. They also get a great deal of amusement out of telling the victim's friends, "I didn't force him to do anything he didn't want to do." It's also more resistant to the powers of friendship and love. Plus, it's just a lot cooler to watch. Villains don't even necessarily need special powers to do it, if they can goad the hero into doing something they'll regret by pushing the right buttons. The Corrupter in particular is a master of the art.

Sometimes, the villain will try this on the whole team at once; they're usually saved by the Badass Normal, The Chick / The Heart or All-Loving Hero, who will point out the ways that the villain is distorting the truth. Usually accompanied by a Shut Up, Hannibal! speech to the culprit.

This is a favorite technique of Manipulative Bastards and anime villains. Victims may or may not exhibit Mind-Control Eyes. It also frequently comes with a creepy voice change, probably as a Shout-Out to Darth Vader of Star Wars.

It's common in the West, too. Indeed, it's been around much longer than television. This form of mind manipulation was, for example, a standard talent of personifications of despair in Renaissance British literature like The Faerie Queene and Pilgrim's Progress.

Occasionally, the victim's friends will have a standard counterspell, anti-psionic technique, or other fantastic means of quickly canceling vanilla mind control common to the setting. Expect them to try it on the More Than Mind Controlled character, only to react in dismay as they realize: "He's acting of his own free will!"

This is an example of Truth in Television, because real-life hypnosis requires that the person subconsciously want to do whatever they're doing. And even more so in that there does not appear to be any true mind control that works in real life, only more and more extreme versions of More Than Mind Control that can in extreme cases appear like straight brainwashing to third parties. The general term for this is coercive persuasion, and it is used by most cults, including the Church of Happyology. Svengali mentors will use this.

Compare The Heartless, Face-Heel Turn. Overlaps with Jedi Mind Trick and Brainwashing for the Greater Good. Contrast Fighting from the Inside, though it can happen after More Than Mind Control if it's rushed or botched. May overlap with Living Doll Collector and Glamour. It usually takes hard core Deprogramming to remove, unless the controller asks the wrong thing.

See also: Blank Slate, Conditioned to Accept Horror, Nurture Over Nature, Rousseau Was Right, Stockholm Syndrome and Then Let Me Be Evil

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Magical Project S: This the case for Misao Amano; initially her other personality was believed to be caused by brainwashing. It was later revealed that while she had no memories of what she had done, her evil side was just her repressed personality.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: In Season 4, Dartz's promises of power and ability to prey on people's weaknesses got them to join his Cult, and the power of the Orichalcos kept them there. In a nod to the Gambit Roulette, Dartz is revealed to be the instigator of the tragedies of all his main henchmen that forced them to join the cult.
    • Marik Ishtar also uses Jonouchi's desire to defeat Yugi in order to more effectively brainwash him into wanting to kill Yugi, to the point of increasing his simple desire to 'win' for Marik to strengthen his control further.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Saiou brainwashed his own followers, like Manjyome and Misawa, in a similar fashion. The only notable difference was a white color motif instead of green, and instead of manufacturing their future tragedies, he simply foresees them.
  • Godwin tries this on Jack during the Season 1 Grand Finale of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, but Jack beats him by playing the Love Redeems card, referring to how Carly helped him conquer the arrogant Jerk Ass side Godwin was trying to appeal to.
  • Sailor Moon: Wiseman to Chibi-Usa/Rini on one occasion (combined with Mind Rape), Zirconia to the Senshi via talking reflections in another. And Queen Nehellenia's mirror to her.
  • Taichi of Digimon V-Tamer 01 is able to recognize mind control, but not more than mind control, such as that which Lord Tricera is under. Zeromaru is actually the first to really figure this out. after having experienced it personally.
  • Digimon Adventure: Yamato [Matt], when Jureimon [Cherrymon] persuades him to turn on Taichi [Tai].
  • Digimon Adventure 02, in the origin story of Ken. How much of his behavior as the Kaiser was a result of the spore's influence, how much was due to the trauma of his past and how much was just him going control freak on a world that he didn't think was real, is still up for debate.
  • Nene's relationship with Dark Knightmon in Digimon Xros Wars has shades of this. Dark Knightmon is pretty...well...dark. He certainly doesn't seem to have Nene's best interests at heart, which is apparent to anyone watching. It's revealed in episode 19 that she only works with him because she believes he's the only one who could get her and her brother out of the Digital World
  • Mikage in Revolutionary Girl Utena does this to friends and relatives of the main characters in order to get them to fight for him, and since even the supporting cast in Utena has complex psychological issues, it works. Notably, we see Mikage reject Wakaba's Unlucky Childhood Friend, the "Onion Prince", because he didn't have the kind of emotional problems he was looking for. Then it turns out that Akio and Anthy have been More Than Mind Controlling Mikage himself for decades, and the entire Dueling System hinges on Akio brainwashing all its participants, especially Anthy.
  • Orochimaru of Naruto gets a large portion of his followers through this method and Tobi also operates with this principle.
    • Sasuke is more or less the poster-boy for the victim of this brainwashing. Itachi did it to him as a child; Orochimaru as a pre-teen; and Tobi as a teen. He has essentially spent his entire life being manipulated by others and yet seems certain he is in control of his own destiny.
      • Which was Lampshaded by Itachi, of all people, who said that Sasuke was still pure, and that any influence could sway him.
  • As does Hao of Shaman King.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Babidi controls his minions by finding the evil in the person's heart. He did this to Vegeta, who actually refused his orders and wished to fight Goku, as he's the only one allowed to defeat him, in his mind. He later revealed he was using Babidi as he felt he needed to be reminded how good evil feels in order to gain more power.
  • Sae from Peach Girl is a master of this technique.
  • Suehirogari's manga TAG uses this trope. In TAG, a heroine is forced via overly powerful hypnosis to go streaking (or, more specifically, a game of tag where "it" can't wear clothes), then blackmailed with photographs of the event. By the end of the story, the heroine and her friends (who have all been conscripted into the game of tag over the story at some point or another) are willingly going along with all the perverted games around them.
  • Iason Mink of Ai no Kusabi kidnapped Riki but soon developed Lima Syndrome for his new "Pet", fell in love with, and did everything in his power to make Riki love him. It worked but didn't come into fruition until moments before they died.
  • Used expertly by Nakago of Fushigi Yuugi to turn Yui against her best friend Miaka. This is greatly facilitated by Yui's crush on Tamahome and by Nakago letting her believe that she was raped.
    • Additionally, when Tasuki is possessed by Tenkou in the second OVA, he attempts to rape Miaka. Because Tasuki has been nursing a secret infatuation with Miaka, Tenkou is manipulating his actual feelings.
  • Monster: Johan Liebert is fond of this, using it on many people that he meets, to the point that one of them has a very Ho Yay -ish obsession with him.
  • You know Sideways is good at this stuff when he's manipulating other people into employing it for him.
  • Fay from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle is revealed about two-thirds of the way through the story to have been willingly manipulated for most of his life by both Fei Wong Reed and Ashura-ou. This involved cunningly preying on his insecurities and regrets in moments of extreme emotional distress, aided by some magical suppression of memories that might cause him to question his situation.
  • Koko from Zatch Bell! is a major subversion. She was thought by Sherry to be Brainwashed and Crazy by Zofis (thanks to Zofis saying this upfront during their first meeting, which he didn't expect Sherry to survive). And she was, despite pretending that her condition was different from Zofis' other mind slaves upon meeting Sherry again; Zofis forced Koko to explain, that he had created a dark personality for her, by manipulating the darkness and negative feelings the poor girl already had thanks to having lived in deep poverty and (allegedly) envying Sherry's wealth, and he did so specifically to force Sherry into an Heroic BSOD so that her partner Brago, whom Zofis rightfully feared, will be depowered. In truth, Koko was under straight Mind Control the entire time. Probably the only decision Zofis allowed Koko to make on her own was picking clothes for herself, and she used this tiny bit of freedom to include a visual clue for Sherry about her true condition in her outfit: she put on a pair of earrings that were a gift of Sherry...
  • In InuYasha, Sango's brother Kohaku becomes the victim of this. He's put under regular mind-control/memory-wipe first, and only later, when he begins to show signs of resistance, does Naraku employ manipulation to keep him under control. Made especially ironic by Naraku insisting that Kohaku doesn't want to remember almost killing his sister, Sango, when one of the main things Naraku is using him for is the death of Sango, and is the whole reason he'd attacked her in the first place.
  • This is used to some extent in Noein by the titular villain. The last few episodes show Noein trying to torment Haruka into following his plans by showing her various scenes of her friends in desperate situations and of her own death and her boyfriend's subsequent agonizing. Fortunately, Haruka finds a future in each case where her friends overcame their tragedies, showing Noein that not ALL futures are full of pain and sorrow.
  • A light version of this is present in Zeta Gundam. Reccoa Londo defects from the AEUG to join Paptimus Scirocco, whose combination of charm and Newtype powers seems to make women obsessively loyal to him. However, while this is certainly a big part of her reason for betrayal, it is also strongly hinted that she was driven to do this by her frustration with Quattro's indecisiveness in their budding relationship... or, at least, she saw that as one of the only ways she could escape Scirocco's influence.
  • In Berserk, this is usually the way that Ubik convinces people to become Apostles and place the Brand of Sacrifice upon others.
    • Griffith is also very good at this, using his charisma to make people totally loyal to him. Indeed, the one time he is truly defied, (Guts leaving the Band of the Hawk) only occurred because Guts wanted Griffith to see him as an equal rather than a subordinate; even when rebelling against Griffith, Guts was still acting out of a desire to be liked and respected by him. Following his reincarnation as Femto and return to the human world, Griffith's extraordinary natural charisma has been supernaturally bolstered, making most people immediately see him as a Messianic Archetype simply by seeing him.
  • In Bleach, Captain Aizen did this to his lieutenant Momo Hinamori, with very tragic results.
    • Also present in Nemu Kurotsuchi's willingness to endure Mayuri's abuse because of her love and admiration for him. Though as an Artificial Human, she could have just been programmed to think that way.
    • In the Zanpakuto Unknown Tales arc, Muramasa's power draws on pre-existing frustrations to incite them to rebel against the shinigami.
    • Tsukishima has one of the most horrible instances of More Than Mind Control yet—he inserts himself into his targets memories, placing himself as their best friend, their family, their lover... however he wants. It gets particularly bad in that he's done this to everyone Ichigo knows, leaving him the only one aware of the truth. It takes a massive intervention from several Shinigami plus Isshin and Uhrahara to start fixing this.
  • Genkaku from Deadman Wonderland does this to Nagi with the help of drugs. He manages to make Nagi temporarily revert back to being berserk and Ax-Crazy by convincing and reminding him that he doesn't have any hope for a family and that most of his happy memories are made up.
  • Lelouch from Code Geass does this quite a bit. Due to the limits on his Mind Control Geass, he also resorts to this when the situation calls for it - like turning Rolo over to his side.
    • Let's not forget his half-brother Schneizel, who uses similar tricks on the already mentally-unstable Nina Einstein and later on Nunnally.
    • And, shockingly, fake brother Rolo pulls this on Lelouch, using his insecurities to tie them together, after Lelouch had already done the same to him. It doesn't work perfectly - Lelouch becomes more attached to The Power of Friendship than anything else - but once he does this, it's not until Rolo kills one of those friends that Lelouch shows any particular dislike for Rolo.
    • There's also Mao. His treatment of Shirley has all the trappings of More Than Mind Control (side order of Mind Rape attached, but same deal)... except that it doesn't work all the way. He's apparently done it a lot, though, and in a light novel, he even tells C.C. something to the effect of "I didn't make them do anything they weren't going to do already."
  • Not only is Seimei from Loveless extremely manipulative on his own, but even though he's a Sacrifice, not a Fighter, he has the (unexplained) power to cause harm with his words. It's probably easier to list the people he HASN'T done this to, but notable examples of Seimei's victims are Soubi, his Fighter Unit (see main entry) and Ritsuka, Seimei's twelve-year-old younger brother, who Seimei REALLY loves.
  • Soul Eater's Medusa does this with Crona. We see Medusa has been breaking and driving Crona to madness since a very young age so s/he will kill and collect souls to become a Kishin. Then Crona does a Heel-Face Turn through The Power of Friendship with Maka, really not wanting to hurt people. Medusa then decides to use this to her advantage and turns Crona into The Mole, because Crona is too timid and lacks the self esteem to go against his/her mother's wishes, even when Medusa has no physical means of making him/her and if it means hurting his/her new friends. In the manga, even being dead doesn't make Medusa any less psychologically dominant: she gets Crona to kill her, but then—despite every horrible thing she did—feel so guilty about it as to consider him/herself unforgivable and owing it to Medusa to complete her dying wish of Crona surpassing Asura as a Kishin.
  • Goldie Musou from Gunsmith Cats uses this to gain control of whoever she wants. She knows her mind-controlling drugs can only go so far; they'll have to keep her 'pets' constantly drugged or they'll instantly start fighting to return to their old life. In one case she kidnaps a young girl called Mary-Anne and brainwashes her into believing that her father was possessed by demons and she had to kill him. Now that she's been forced out of her old life by that act, she will willingly accept her brainwashing rather than face the reality of what she did. Anyone who tries to deprogram her will realize that saving her means forcing her to 'wake up' to the fact she killed her father. So she serves Goldie without any regret, to the point that when Goldie abandoned her, she and some other girls tried to commit suicide rather than live without their beloved 'Mistress Goldie'. Yes, Goldie is an evil sadistic bitch, why do you ask?
    • Ironically she ends up mellowing down somewhat in the final issues, and masters More Than Mind Control to the point where the line between it and normal persuasion becomes practically transparent. The manga ends with her in more or less steady and consensual relationship with Misty Brown.
  • Apparently, what made Miyo Fuuma a killer in Tantei Gakuen Q. Dealt by her grandfather, nonetheless.
    • Also applied on several culprits, courtesy of Meiuosei itself. Basically, they give you the means to carry your revenge and keep an agent close as a your monitor, but if said revenge is foiled, they force you into either kill yourself or murder the person who blows your cover. And if a Meiousei agent is captured by the police, another will activate some sort of Mind Control that will make them kill themselves as well.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Manga Gendo uses Shinji's insecurities and loneliness to try to convince him he's every bit as evil, desperate and vengeful as he is.
  • In Pokémon Special Bruno was straight brainwashed, but Lorelei was manipulated by Agatha into turning her dislike of what humans had done to Pokemon into a full-out desire to kill them all.
  • Happens frequently in Pet Shop of Horrors. Since the pets of the shop appear human to D's customers, there's often some initial resistance to the idea of 'slavery' inherent in buying or selling humans, especially children. D will usually give them a little speech — combined with some maybe-magical, maybe-hallucinogenic incense — appealing to their inner conflict. By the end of the pitch, they're usually quite happy to walk out of the store with a human on a leash.
  • In Arisa, part of the King's power is that the class and his minions want to do what he tells them, no matter how extreme.
  • In Full Metal Panic! this is what happens to Kaname Chidori in the last few volumes of the light novels. After surviving and escaping several attempts of kidnapping/assassination directly aimed at her over a period of less than a year, she is finally taken away by the enemy after a series of very traumatic events that nearly kills everyone at her school, gravelly injures her best friend, and almost kills Sousuke. Following her kidnapping, she falls into a deep depression, struggles with both her emotional turmoil and the outside pressure put upon her by her captors; then she accidentally almost kills Leonard Testarossa, which puts an abrupt end to his attempts of behaving like a gentleman with her and brings a whole new world of psychological torture and physical illness on her, plus some Whispered mind screw; is taken away by the enemy again just as she was close to be rescued, tries to kill herself, and barely survives a helicopter crash that takes her to the one place where she really doesn't want to go. And all this happens in a little more than a year, and does not take onto account her childhood traumas like the death of her mother and her resentment toward her father. Or the whole Whispered influence exerted over her literally since birth. By this point, when she is taken over by Sophia, the poor kid is too deppressed and tired to put up much of a fight, and even after she starts getting herself together, Sophia still manages to break her, by making a defetist Kaname tiredly agree with her. Ironically, it ends up backfiring.
  • Big Bad Moo in Monster Rancher magnifies Grey Wolf's inferiority complex and insecurities about his well-meaning but strict older brother Tiger into a full blown Green-Eyed Monster that wanted to murder said brother.
  • In The King of Fighters G, an Alternate Universe retelling of KOF 96, there are several instances of Brainwashed and Crazy fighters. However, Benimaru Nikaido's specific case is more of this, he had a rather violent verbal spat with Kyo after Kyo is almost killed by Goenitz, which leaves him so badly shaken, first leads him to team up wit Iori and Mature instead of Goro and Kyo. So when Goenitz breaks havoc in the middle of Kyo and Benimaru's fight in the finals, Benimaru's inner turmoil does not mix well with the Orochi power infused around everyone and he snaps, injures Kyo's eyes and severely beats him up. Kyo still wins and manages to snap Benimaru out of it, and the released Benimaru apologizes to Kyo.
    • Mai Shiranui is also subjected to this: she was in an Heroic BSOD after the Fatal Fury Team loses badly (including Andy being totally curbstomped by Benimaru) and left the battlefield to try calming herself down, but then Goenitz showed up and confronted her; the combination of a Breaking Lecture, a Curb-Stomp Battle and some bits of Goenitz's powers were horrible on poor Mai, who totally lost control of herself and savagely attacked Kyo and Athena when they walked on her. It took Athena pulling a Diving Save to stop Kyo from burning Mai with an Orochinagi to bring her back.
    • Also, Leona falls into this as well when Goenitz awakens her Orochi blood like he did in her past to make her kill her parents and townspeople with words alone. Clark, one of her two Big Brother Mentors, gives her a Cooldown Hug and snaps her out - but not before she puts her arm through his chest.
  • Tatsumi from Shiki does this a lot. The most obvious and drawn-out example happens when he manipulates Masao, who's just risen up as a vampire. First he appeals to Masao's insecurities by telling him that he's special for rising up as a vampire (being sure to mention that Masao's nephew, who Masao hated, will not be rising up). When Masao expresses any resistance to what Tatsumi is telling him (such as expressing a fear of killing a victim Tatsumi offers him to feed on), Tatsumi shifts to threatening him, at one point basically telling Masao that he'll drag him out into the sun to die if he refuses to comply with his demands. He's almost certainly done the same thing to just about every new vampire he's dug up, since he's responsible for them.
  • Kirakishou from Rozen Maiden, most notable in the 2013 anime. She starts sending texts to Unwin!Jun, making them look like if they were from his younger self, so he could make a new doll she could use to enter his world, using his desire to change the world. Since he knows that Shinku will have to leave his world in a week to return to his younger self, and he'll be left behind in a world he sees with Jade-Colored Glasses, when Kirakishou's sweet offer comes, he doesn't consideres it could be a trap (because Shinku told him the world can't be changed), he just does because he wants to change the world.
  • Gunslinger Girl. The cyborg girls start off as brainwashed blank slates who blindly obey every order they're given. As their relationship with The Handler continues, other factors like romantic or platonic love and Fire-Forged Friends come into play, increasing the bond between handler and cyborg. One handler who never bothered building a relationship with his cyborg fell victim to a Murder-Suicide when he did an assignment with another team and his cyborg realised how indifferent he was in comparison; in another case, a cyborg who fell in romantic love with her handler never told him her feelings because she was Genre Savvy enough to wonder whether said feels came from her own will or were induced by the remains of her brainwashing.
  • The Dragon Proist in Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu manipulates Ruru into attempting to kill her father by bringing up old, forgotten memories. Twice.
  • Dio Brando of Jojos Bizarre Adventure has an uncanny ability to gain followers due to being incredibly charismatic. While brainwashing is one of his powers, it seems that most of his followers are either genuinely loyal or at the very least hired assassins.
  • By the end of Umi Monogatari, the heroines realize that Sedna's darkness was really just magnifying the weakness that was already present in people's hearts.

    Comic Books 
  • In the comic book series Sleepwalker, the monstrous, Ax-Crazy villain Psyko has the power to drive everyone around him insane. Being a resident of the mental plane, Sleepwalker was resistant to this power, but it affected him enough for Psyko to nearly manipulate Sleepwalker into murdering one of his former enemies, which would have permanently driven him insane.
  • The current Guardians of the Galaxy were all asked to join. But they later found out They were under a little bit of mind control- just enough to make them want to join. When they found this out, most of them quit.
  • In a clear reference to The Faerie Queene an entity calling itself a Mind Destroyer, representative of Guilt, tried this on Sir Ystin in Seven Soldiers.
  • Havok, after being brainwashed by the Dark Beast, notes that it's not so easy to break free...because "first you have to want to."
  • Also in X-Men, Mastermind does this to what he believes to be Jean Grey. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to him, Jean and the Phoenix are NOT the same.
  • Strongly implied to be the fate of Black Hand after Blackest Night; the last page has him pleading for help because the Indigo Tribe are slowly destroying his personality as punishment for helping Nekron.
    • This eventually turns out to be what's happened to the entire Indigo Tribe. For the most part, the members of the Tribe were complete sociopaths who only realized what they were doing after getting a giant Care Bear Stare from the Avatar of Compassion. Most of them are perfectly fine with having a conscience shoved roughly within them.
  • Zemo provides a good example of this the comic The Thunderbolts. To Techno's question "why not just control everyone with the bio-modem? we could do it..." he answers: "Yes, but where is the satisfaction in rulling a planet of automatons, hmm? Better to break their spirits than enslave their minds. Better if they know they have been conquered."
  • One of the nastiest monster villains of the Marvel universe is the Shadow King, a telepath nearly as powerful and skilled as Charles Xavier. He can do lots of nasty things, and does most of them at one time or another, but one of his nastiest tricks is to get into your head telepathically and rearrange things. Not change, just rearrange, amplifying some impulses and desires, suppressing conscience and learned morality. It's still all you, but now what was a suppressed or passing impulse is eagerly indulged, that pesky moral code your parents and church and society taught you disregarded. What makes it so terrible is that even after somebody restores the original balance, you have to live with the fact that whatever murder, rape, incest, torture, adultery, betrayal, etc that you did, it was you. Not the you that you normally are, but it all was always there in you and it's still there now, even if it's back in the cage.
  • Loki subtly influenced Osborn's mind all throughout Dark Reign. Osborn's mental state was never too stable, but Loki made him believe the Goblin personality was talking to him, and made him doubt his own mind. He even created another The Avengers team to compete with Norman's and manipulated him to storm Asgard. By then, Norman has had enough and by the end of Siege he experienced a complete mental breakdown.
  • Kobra used this to turn Deborah Domaine into the new Cheetah (after her aunt, Priscilla Rich, died), in Wonder Woman #274.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): The Nightmare forces' MO. First they talk the pony into accepting them, then they get their hooks in. They convinced Luna that, as Nightmare Moon, she could get everypony to respect her through fear. Then they did the same to Rarity, convincing her that while others might eventually abandon her for someone better, they would always want her help.
  • The Mandarin Rings in Iron Man are on a mission to make Tony Stark's life hell. To do that, they seek out people who either hate Tony already or can be easily goaded into blaming Tony for their problems. One ring for example only had to say Tony Stark's name to convince its bearer to blame Tony for his own drunken murderous rampage which Tony failed to stop. Fortunately for the rings, finding people like this isn't very difficult since Tony is very good at pissing people off even by accident.
  • In Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, the titular homicidal maniac is doing his thing under the influence of voices in his head that operate like this. Do they have any actual ability to physically influence his actions? No... At least, not at first.

    Fan Works 
  • In Radiance, Chelsea is able to mess with people's relationships to others, including completely destroying them, but she can't create new relationships from nowhere. When Elspeth comes along and gets duly mindraped, she is able to help Chelsea by conversing with some of the Volturi's prisoners and creating the seed of a relationship, which Chelsea can then exploit.
  • This is ultimately what Malefor's control over Zonoya in The Legend of Spyro: Zonoya's Revenge amounts to. Unlike Cynder, who was brainwashed, Zonoya was controlled psychologically by her feelings for him. This is what lead her to free Malefor from his prison, afterwards, he took full advantage of this and got her to have his child and make him Birdon king. His grip on her was so strong, his death reduced her to a sobbing, broken wreck. It was only after Malefor was dead and gone that Zonoya was willing to listen to Cynder and realize how evil Malefor really was, allowing her to perform a Heel-Face Turn.
  • In Going Rogue This is played straight with the pied piper convincing Wally everyone hates him not once, but twice, before attempting to break his mind
  • In Inner Demons, this is how Queen!Twilight Sparkle recruits her lieutenants. While she can and does use a brainwashing spell for most of her minions, for her willing followers she plays The Corrupter, giving them exactly what they want in exchange for their loyalties. For Trixie, she gave her the position of being her student (which is all Trixie ever wanted), and for Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo she was able to make them see things her way by aging them to adulthood and giving them their Cutie Marks.
  • This is done in Twilight Revised by Nightmare Moon to Twilight Sparkle, gaining her cooperation by rewriting her memories so that she thinks Nightmare Moon was her mentor and teacher. The control doesn't seem to be perfect, though, as the Hope Spot at the end of the chapter implies.
    • The later chapters describe how also Nightmare figures the mind control to be imperfect because nothing can replace the feelings Twilight has towards Celestia. So she simply 'turns' into Celestia, making the mind control flawless. As a matter of fact, it is implied that Twilight is genuinely obsessed with Celestia to begin with (in more than a platonic fashion at that), making the level of actual mind control involved ambiguous at least).
  • This is how Precia is able to ensure Fate's loyalty in Game Theory. She acknowledges Fate as her daughter, but tells her up front that she is a clone of Alicia. She then lays her plans out, introduces Fate to the Alicia in stasis and then gives Fate a purpose: Help her mother bring her sister back to life.
    • The author has stated Precia's behavior towards Fate is basically psychological brainwashing.
  • Horseshoes and Hand Grenades has Ophiuchus makes Gentaro second-guess his decision on dying for Ryusei's sake, stating that doing so made him fail his parents' promise of making lots of friends. Then, by showing a scene of the Kamen Rider Club disbanding and putting blame on one another for not saving him, breaks Gentaro down to the point that Ophiuchus brainwashes him to become his Serpent-bearer.
  • Vanitas does this to Aqua in the Kingdom Hearts fanfic Those Who Fight Monsters

    Film 
  • Palpatine's manipulation of Anakin/Vader in the Star Wars movies. However, it doesn't last. And when it's broken by Luke...
  • The scepter that Loki uses to control people in The Avengers seems to work this way. They do what Loki wants, but they're not mindless drones awaiting orders. They can think and act of their own volition, and they still have their own personalities. For instance, Hawkeye is still fairly quiet and a bit sarcastic, and Selvig is still extremely enthusiastic about working with the Tesseract, and both before and during their possession, the two of them don't seem to like each other very much. The scepter doesn't seem to affect any of that, it just binds them to the will of the one who holds it.
  • The Borg Queen almost does this to Data in First Contact. He confirms in the end that she had him considering it... for less than a second, but "to an android, it is an eternity."
  • The Matrix. Agent Smith's monologue while trying to take control of Morpheus' mind.
  • The eponymous Pushers of Push work this way. They implant whatever memories they like into the victim's mind, and then make simple commands that seem reasonable with those new memories. For example, in the beginning Kira is held captive by Mac and Holden. Kira implants memories to make Mac believe that Holden killed his brother, and is so furious, he shoots Holden in the head, giving Kira a chance to escape. Mac never had a brother. Mac's boss, who is also a Pusher, makes Mac commit suicide by making Mac believe he unloaded the gun, and it'll be perfectly safe. Low-level Pushers need to use words to put thoughts into people's heads. A high-level Pusher like Carver is able to do it with just a look and Black Eyes of Evil.
  • The villain in Se7en likes this mode of operation.
  • Saw is made of this trope. In the earlier movies, Jigsaw pulls this again and again, from the simple and obvious of making people commit heinous acts to save themselves to gradually becoming more complex, in making people commit heinous acts to save others, or to trick them into thinking so (Rigg). He also gains Amanda and Hoffman as apprentices in much this way. Mileage may vary when it comes to the later movies, as it seems to get less cerebral, and more Gorn for no real reason but Fanservice. Fan Dumb Canon Discontinuity can begin with Saw II, and end really nowhere.
  • In the original version of Fright Night, this is how the vampire Jerry Dandridge converts his victims. He can simply kill anyone, but he needs their acquiescence to convert them into vampires. Note particularly the scene in the alley where he seduces Evil Ed.

    Literature 

  • Middle-Earth:
    • This was one of Saruman's major skills in Lord of the Rings (book version only). Doesn't work so well with diverse groups, especially when he starts to lose his cool - though he does talk Treebeard into letting him go.
    • Gríma was basically running Rohan by doing this to Théoden.
    • This was also how Sauron brought down Númenor in the "Akallabęth", and Melkor suborned Fëanor in the The Silmarillion.
    • It's also how the One Ring is able to corrupt people (combined with a dose of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope).
    • In fact, this is the preferred technique of Tolkien villains. Tolkien believed that this was one of the strongest weapons that real life villainy wields. It's also why he thought that Sauron was a far more terrifying villain than Morgoth, despite Morgoth being an Omnicidal Maniac who was literally undefeatable except by the gods themselves. Sauron may have been far weaker, but his power lay in manipulating the pride and evil in men's hearts.
  • Used in The Silver Chair, one of The Chronicles of Narnia, by the Lady of the Green Kirtle (The Vamp), on the four main characters. They're saved by The Eeyore, who notes that, even if what she's saying is true and Narnia really is just a happy fantasy world, he prefers it to the awful truth, at which point the other characters realize that if this dreary underground really was the only world they'd ever known, their imaginations would be stunted and they'd never have been able to invent Narnia. The smell of burning marshwiggle didn't hurt either.
  • In High Deryni, Wencit of Torenth uses a variety of tactics against Sean Lord Derry in his effort to establish control over Derry's mind. At one point, he has his minion Rhydoon of Eastmarch summon a tentacled monster called a caradot to menace Derry, who is then tied to a chair. Wencit himself puts a dagger to Derry's throat, and when that elicits no reaction, he begins cutting the leather thongs of Derry's jerkin:
    "Do you know, Derry," cut "I've often wondered what it is about Alaric Morgan which inspires such loyalty in his followers," cut "Or Kelson and those rather strange Haldane powers of his," cut. "Not too many men would sit here as you do," cut "refusing to talk, though they know what unpleasantness awaits them," ''cut "and still remain loyal to a leader who is far away and can never hope to help them out of this, even if he knew."
  • Hannibal. Ooohboy. Hannibal kidnaps, drugs and hypnotizes a disillusioned Clarice and acts as her therapist. Clarice undergoes a major Face-Heel Turn, and when the drugs wear off, Clarice seduces him.
  • Used in Animorphs. There are voluntary Controllers, people who willingly let a Yeerk infest them. Many of them are simply so alone, so desperate to be part of something, that they're willing to give up their free will. The Sharing's main purpose is to find these sort of people and indoctrinate them.
  • In The Amtrak Wars: Death Bringer the protagonists, posing as spirits and using fake 'magic' illusions, fool the sister of the Shogun of the Iron Masters into thinking her brother framed and executed the man she loved.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Molly Carpenter's issue. A wizard with a talent for mental magic and illusion, she first came to the attention of Harry Dresden and The White Council because she tried to make her best friend and her boyfriend (who was also the father of the best friend's unborn child) stop using heroin. Problem: this involved invading their minds and then forcing them to feel fear every time they thought of using. In Dresdenverse terms, meant that she was taking their free will away from them...making it, despite her good intentions, Black Magic. Which, ironically, is highly, HIGHLY addictive. Molly's well-intentioned spell drove her boyfriend insane due to her anger over him affecting the spell — he was so badly damaged by it that he ended up suffering from a form of paranoid schizophrenia... permanently. As of Ghost Story, she is still manipulating people with exceedingly subtle mind control
    • Attempted by Lasciel who tries to make Harry do a Deal with the Devil. It backfires, he successfully resists her out of sheer spite and stubbornness once his friends help him realize that he was talking to a mental illusion. Lasciel is so impressed by his resolve that eventually she starts helping him, finally sacrificing herself to save his life.
    • Used by The Mole in the White Council, Peabody, with the assistance of some magical drugs to make them more susceptible to his control. He subtly influenced the Council's behavior to make them more aggressive and to perpetuate the war with the vampiric Red Court, all toward unknown ends on behalf of the Black Council.
  • Diana Wynne Jones:
    • Aunt Maria, the titular Maria talks ideas into people's head. She TALKS them into submission, magically.
    • 'Laurel,' the faerie queen from Fire and Hemlock, who also has more literal versions available to her. The power of embarrassment is particularly accentuated here.
    • Also Reigner One in Hexwood, with the conditioning he puts on his Servants, though in their case it starts in childhood. He never made Mordion into an actual bad person, really, but he did make him unable to seriously think actively rebellious thoughts. There was some brain work there, but that mostly seems to have been to short out his magic.
  • In Peter F. Hamilton's Void Trilogy, the noble houses of Makkathran use their telepathic abilities to subtly change the thoughts of others. Primarily used by Ranalee on both Edeard and later Salrana. He detects her influence and breaks it while Salrana remains influenced by it, ultimately betraying him as far as she knows of her own free will
  • In The Vampire Files, Jack's mind-control power works better and lasts longer if he words his orders so that they seem to mesh with a subject's own motives and desires.
  • In Everworld, Senna uses her powers to control David. Even after Athena forces her to stop, however, April notes that David is still in love with (or at least obsessed with) her, and Senna is more than nasty enough to use this to her advantage. Ultimately it doesn't work, though.
    • She also uses mind control to make Christopher drink some wine with her blood in it, even though he knows witch blood may well kill him. Senna notes that she can't force him to do something he doesn't want to do, but she can take a desire he already has and increase it. Given that he's a borderline alcoholic and, like David, retains a certain level of attraction/obsession with her...
  • O'Brien in 1984 uses torture to make people believe that they love Big Brother, though it may have been subverted depending on what the ending paragraph was trying to portray.
  • This is what Susan Mortlake does to Scott in Nightrise, essentially.
  • Mentioned in passing in Breaking Dawn. Chelsea, a member of the Volturi, has a special ability where she can mess with people's emotional attatchments, both keeping the rest of the Volturi loyal to Aro and using it to help them win more easily against enemies by dividing them.
  • The Horcrux locket in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did this, to Ron in particular. When wearing it, it basically turns people depressed and messes with their heads a bit, eventually causing Ron to leave Harry and Hermione for a while. Just before Ron destroyed it, the locket tries to do this again to Ron via Hannibal Lecture.
  • The Wheel of Time: Lanfear's Compulsion is not strong enough to make people do anything, so in order to make Perrin help her kill Moiraine and Nynaeve to prevent Rand from sealing away the Dark One she has to convince him that he hates Moiraine. Lanfear fails anyway.
  • In ''Elvenborn'', this is Aelmarkin's favorite pasttime. He picks his favorite concubine, deliberately picked to be easily duped and manipulated, and tricks them into believing that he is eternally kind, loving, and right... and then uses that belief to deliberately destroy their self-esteem and mental faculties, until they're anorexic-bulimics starving and purging themselves in a desperate attempt to be 'beautiful' even as he pretends to be concerned for their well-being and asking them to eat more. If he's feeling particularly generous, when they're near death he'll memory-wipe them and have them retrained as normal concubines again.
  • This is the primary ability of Chaos Warmaster Varan in Ciaphas Cain: Cain's Last Stand. You see his face and hear his voice and if you aren't a blank he's got you for good.
  • Coda has this with the Corp's mind controlling music. Anthem admits to himself that it's addictive, and listening isn't always unwilling.
  • In the Heroes Of Olympus series, it's revealed that this is the key to both charmspeak and the full use of the Mist.
  • The Big Bad in Dances on the Snow takes over whole planets by putting everybody to sleep for a few days and making them relive a lifetime of loyal servitude to the Big Bad's regime. When they wake, they have a hard time believing that they have ever been loyal to The Empire.
  • In Those That Wake, Man in Suit's influence amplifies the already existing hopelessness in people's hearts; this is why it's so hard to fight him. Brath falls victim to this.
  • Crowley from Good Omens uses this as part of his way of getting more souls to Hell. He doesn't lead people into evil, he leads them into temptation by looking into their soul and giving them what they really, truly want. Is it really his fault people want such horrible things so often?

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: Garibaldi was the victim of this in Season 4. PsiCop Alfred Bester used telepathic brainwashing and post-hypnotic suggestions, but he also played on his victim's deep-seated prejudices and paranoia — manipulating him to do what Bester wanted of his own "free" will. In fact, the change in this character is so gradual and believable that Bester's involvement almost seems unnecessary. (The other characters, as distressed as they are, never suspect an outside influence on their friend.)
    • A flashback reveals exactly what Bester had in mind too. A subordinate suggested a complete mind wipe and a new personality be inserted. Bester refused, saying that Garibaldi had all the right personality characteristics already in place: natural suspicion, paranoia, distrust of authority figures, etc. Bester decided that these qualities simply needed to be turned Up to Eleven for the plan to work (and it did).
    • Bester also mentions this in his post-victory gloating, saying that having Garibaldi turn against the protagonists was an unexpected bonus, he only wanted to turn Garibaldi into an unaware mole that could infiltrate the anti-telepath conspiracy.
    • This method is also unsuccessfully applied to Sheridan, and the interrogator even Lampshades it by saying that "We don't want cooperation. We want conversion. We want repentance," to make the public confession speech more believable to the general public and more demoralizing to the co-conspirators, not to mention telepath-proof.
  • The First Evil from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • Mayor Wilkins deserves a mention here too. Faith's Face-Heel Turn is voluntary, but the Mayor cements it by playing on her cynicism, self-loathing, jealousy of Buffy, and yearning for a caring parental figure. Of course, as time goes on it becomes clear that he really does care about her, making this even more complex.
  • The A-Squad Rangers from Power Rangers S.P.D., who wanted to be on "the winning team".
  • Jannu, the Lady of War of the bad guys in Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger. She suffers this fate when, as Mahoro, she gets captured by the invading alien forces and has her spirit broken by an illusion of her lover abandoning her to die. The trauma leaves her vulnerable to infection by the parasitic Big Bad, who pieces her back together as a willing servant driven by revenge on the one who "betrayed" her.
  • In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Dahak, the show's god-slaying Sealed Evil in a Can, spends an unknown, but very large, amount of time trying to convince Iolaus to willingly join forces with him against the Jerkass Gods after Iolaus's spirit accidentally became trapped in the can too. Iolaus eventually agrees, and becomes Dahak's new body on Earth - at which point, of course, Iolaus's soul is instantly relegated to a dark, dungeon-like corner somewhere within Dahak's mind.
  • In the Sword of Truth adaptation Legend of the Seeker, Darken Rahl does this to the hero's sister after she gets amnesia, rewriting her memory from scratch with him as the compassionate hero and her brother as evil. Eventually she recovers from her amnesia enough that she sees through the manipulation, but the bad guy almost wins in that episode because this trope is used so effectively, and it makes for one of the better episodes.
    • In the book, Rahl did it to children in order to gain perfectly loyal followers who can literally take him to Hell and back (after he kills them).
    • There's also the fact that he didn't lie that much. Most of it was half-truth, like the fact that his father Panis Rahl slept with Richard's mother and produced two children. Technically, he said "rape", and many people would agree that disguising yourself as someone else to trick a person to have sex is a form of rape.
  • On LOST, this is Ben's preferred method of manipulation. Ironically, the same method is used successfully against him by Fake Locke, aka Jacob's nemesis, throughout season five.
  • In Stargate SG-1, in the episode "Reckoning Part One", Replicator Sam appears to Daniel as Oma Desala to make the process of mining his subconscious easier for her. She convinces him, using the disguise, that he has the information he wants in his subconscious, and he unwittingly opens it for her.
    • Subverted when Daniel figures it out and starts to collect information from the replicator without her knowing it.
  • Burn Notice lives off this trope, Michel and his friends end up on both sides of it, convincing people to act against their own interests and make it seem reasonable and get convinced to act against their own interests.
  • This is the modus operandi of the demons in the Spanish series Angel o Demonio.
  • Doctor Who. The Master as played by John Simms and his 'wife' Lucy Saxon. Although her role is a Call Back to his Weak-Willed pawns of The Seventies, rather than just look into her eyes and say "I am the Master and you will obey me!" this incarnation uses a combination of Evil Is Sexy, Break the Cutie (showing Lucy the end of the universe), and Pet the Dog ("He was so kind to my father.")
    • For that matter, the Doctor himself. His best weapon isn't his sonic screwdriver or the TARDIS, or whatever nifty device he whipped up, or even his tremendous body of knowledge and doctorates in everything from medicine to basket weaving. It's his ability to manipulate and twist everyone around him into... being greater than they were. Into being smarter, braver, better than they ever believed they could be. The Silence condemns him as "The Man Who Reasons" and "The Man Who Lies," rather than "The Man Who Rides In A Police Box." His companions have a marked tendency to Took a Level in Badass over time. The Eleventh Doctor's companions include Amy Pond, who starts out as a sweet little girl and ends up becoming accustomed to literally ROUTINELY overcoming mental trauma and overwritten memories; Rory eventually proceeds from being a male nurse to earning a title that says it all: The Last Centurian. Davros at one point called out The Doctor on his tendency to make other people into weapons this way, claiming that it's Not So Different from Davros creating the Daleks.
  • The villain of the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Con-Text" is a manipulative self-help guru who uses this method to make an Unwitting Pawn kill for him. In fact, he does it so well that when the pawn gets caught, he not only takes sole responsibility for the murders, but he's offended when the cops bring up the possibility that someone else got him to do them.
  • Lucifer in Supernatural has used this to successfully gain control of Nick and attempted (but ultimately failed) to recruit Castiel.
    Lucifer: This is your choice...You people misunderstand me. You call me "Satan" and "devil", but... Do you know my crime? I loved God too much. And for that, he betrayed me — punished me. Just as he's punished you. After all, how could God stand idly by while that man broke into your home and butchered your family in their beds? There are only two rational answers, Nick — either he's sadistic, or he simply doesn't care. You're angry. You have every right to be angry. I am angry, too. That's why I want to find him — hold him accountable for his actions. Just because he created us doesn't mean he can toy with us, like playthings.
    Nick: If I help you...can you bring back my family?
    Lucifer: I'm sorry. I can't. But I can give you the next best thing. God did this to you, Nick. And I can give you justice. Peace.

    (to Castiel) "Castiel. I don't understand why you're fighting me, of all the angels...I rebelled, I was cast out. You rebelled, you were cast out. Almost all of heaven wants to see me dead, and if they succeed, guess what? You're their new public enemy number one. We're on the same side, like it or not, so why not just serve your own best interests? Which in this case just happen to be mine?"
  • Bonnie in The Vampire Diaries, her prejudice toward vampires made it that much easier for Esther to sleepwalk her into feeding Alaric to complete his transformation into a vampire meant to destroy all vampires.
  • In Deep Space Nine, the Female Changeling does this to Odo during the Dominion occupation of DS9. She plays on his feelings of isolation and her position as a much older and mature member of Changeling society to convince him to linknote  over Kira's objections. Through the link, she's able to convince him that solids are just not worth his time, destroying the resistance's plans and getting Rom shortlisted for execution. Odo only breaks free when the Female Changeling unwisely says that she wants to kill Kira for distracting Odo from his people.
  • In Grimm, the Ziegevolker are goat-like Wesen who have the ability to emit powerful pheromones that get people to do whatever they want. The pheromones can be temporarily boosted by consuming certain rare toads. One episode involves a famous defense attorney who turns out to be a Ziegevolk eating an extremely-potent toad to get witnesses to revise their testimonies (the lawyer actually gets them to remember events differently) and sway the jury. Luckily, Rosalee is able to device a potion that reverses the effects of the toads, causing the lawyer to repel anyone he uses his powers against, just before the closing arguments, meaning he instantly turns the jury against him.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, most mind-control spells falter or fail outright when the target is ordered to do something they wouldn't normally do—but there is a specialized spell called Programmed Amnesia which can bypass this rule by changing what the target considers normal behavior. The spell is not inherently evil, but see below.
    • One spell, named Suggestion, fits this trope to a tee - the more reasonable and/or in line with the target's inclination the Suggestion is, the harder it is to resist, even to the point where phrasing it differently can affect things ("Go jump in that vat of acid!" vs. "How about a nice bath?", for example).
    • The Book of Vile Darkness Sourcebook includes a spell called Morality Undone, which flips a character's alignment to its opposite. While they won't immediately turn on their allies, as the book notes, any number of things they wouldn't normally do are now perfectly fine to suggest via other magic...
    • It also contains a quicker, less expensive, and very, very evil version of Programmed Amnesia that's called Mind Rape.
    • The Bluff and Diplomacy skills fit even better than most spells. Both represent perfectly mundane conversation which, with sufficient training, can convince almost anyone to do almost anything, and the only way to counteract them is more bluffing and diplomacy.
  • The forces of Chaos in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 are highly subtle and insidious, able to convince people to join them by, amongst others, making the victim think that he is benefiting the fight for "good" by doing so. This particular case is usually seen where trying to use a Chaos artifact or other power of Chaos against Chaos is seen. Even hardass Knight Templar-ish Inquisitors are not immune.
    • Of all the Chaos Gods, Slaanesh is made out to be the most seductive. Giving in to Slaanesh is giving in by small degrees, small little compromises that eventually lead one to taking joy and pleasure in getting hacked to bits.
    • The first part largely works under Tzeenchian rules (being the master of scheming to the point that he doesn't see the future, he sees ALL POSSIBLE futures and works things to the one that benefit him the most.) Slaanesh is right on as well. Even Papa Nurgle is surprisingly duplicitous: he won't 'cure' the plagues he gives you, he'll just make sure you're happy about it. Khorne on the other hand... Well his followers shout out "BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!!" as they're killing everyone in sight, including each other. Not so subtle.
    • Case in point: Chaos Warmaster Varan the Undefeatable in Ciaphas Cain: Cain's Last Stand. By the time he reached Perlia most of his army was mind-controlled, ranging from Imperial Guard units to an Adepta Sororitas squad that he used as bodyguards.
  • This is the classic twofer tactic of Dominate and Majesty in Vampire: The Requiem. When a vampire has Dominate, he or she has straight mind control, with limited emotional manipulation. Whereas Majesty allows very powerful emotional control with some compulsion as well. Pairing both makes most humans (and quite a few vampires) ridiculously easy to control. Add in the addictive vampire blood vitae and its natural ability to make the drinker obey and love the vampire and... well, let's just say more than a few Empty Shells and mad Renfields have resulted.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade has the Dominate discipline and the blood-bonding properties of vampire vitae, but not the Majesty discipline.
    • The Presence discipline synergizes very well with Social Traits/Skills, and can work on crowds.
  • In Scion there is an Epic Manipulation knack called "God's Honest". The scion gives a statement along with some gesture of sincerity: cross my fingers hope to die/pinkie swear/I give my word. If their legend rating is higher than or equal to the target's then they will believe the speaker without question. Only solid, incontrovertible proof can sway them to believing it is a lie, and even then it has to be a good speaker. On top of that, if the scion uses "God's Honest" to enforce a truth (and the book is vague on truth, so might be the truth as the character sees it) then almost nothing will convince the target that that truth is a lie.
    • There's another knack called "Inspirational Figure" which forces people to stop and pay attention to a speaker as long as he/she is saying something intentionally inspirational. Some GMs allow you to use these knacks together.
  • This is implied in In Nomine to be how possession by the demonic Shedim works. The victim is still present in their own head and unaware of the visitor, eventually coming to believe that the selfish and evil impulses sent by the demon are entirely their own idea. And since each suggestion has to be worse than the last, most of the demonic Band will work slow, easing a person down the road step by step.

    Theatre 
  • Little Shop of Horrors. Like Faust, he sells his soul, but gradually. Best evidenced in the song "Feed Me" with an elaborate hard sell. This is an improvement over the original b-movie, which just used flat-out mind control.
  • Othello. Iago uses lies and deception to convince Othello that Desdemona is an unfaithful harlot, and drive him to kill her. There are no magic spells, no potions, just a malevolent trickster (or perhaps a jealous admirer) who is very good at spinning reality, playing the part of a concerned friend.

    Video Games 
  • Riku from Kingdom Hearts embraces the trope wholeheartedly. Supplemented with plenty of scenes detailing his friend Sora's apparent betrayal. Also an example of Not What It Looks Like.
    • He also continues this in Kingdom Hearts II by fully embracing the dark control in order to put Sora's mind back together. So not only does he stay under the mind control, but ends up reversing it and using it for his and Sora's benefit. Without the other occupant of his mind knowing that. Nice job man.
    • Organization XIII does this to Sora in Chain of Memories with the help of illusions and Fake Memories.
    • Zig-zagged in Birth by Sleep. Maleficent hits Terra with a spell, and when he comes to his senses someone has released Princess Aurora's heart from her body. He blames Maleficent, who claims that she only brought to the surface a part of himself he'd been trying to hide. Then it turns out that Terra was right the first time - Maleficent was basically gaslighting him as part of Xehanort's plan to make him insecure and isolated. Terra never learns this himself, unfortunately.
  • With as many Mind Control plots as Castlevania has had, they eventually had to try this to freshen it up a bit. Hugh in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and Maxim in Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance are clear-cut cases, and there are others with room for debate.
  • Inuart in Drakengard falls under this. He's tied to a post and mind-raped with his own innermost thoughts until he finally gives in to the Big Bad's control. He even gains cool glowy Mind-Control Eyes.
  • Played straight and then subverted in Final Fantasy IV Kain was under mind control but only because of he wanted Rosa to love him instead of Cecil, then later when Golbez tries it again Kain claims that he no longer holds power over him... After which he steals the crystal and takes off.
    • The second scene makes much more sense in the re-translated DS version.
    • Also in the DS version, using the pause menu to read Kain's thoughts in the final dungeon shows that Zemus tries this one last time on him as the party descends, trying to make him hate Rosa this time for loving Cecil.. He fights it off easily.
    Kain: <People's hearts are not toys for you to trifle with, Zemus!>
    • In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Kain acts similarly to how he acts when under mind control in Final Fantasy IV, but explicitly denies (over and over again) that he's under any form of mind control at all... and he's really not. However, he's not quite Kain, either. He's Kain's dark side incarnate. The real Kain is traveling under the guise of the "Hooded Man", and acting more heroically than he'd ever done in the past.
      • For that matter, Golbez himself is also under More Than Mind Control by Zemus. Basically his own self-loathing was taken advantage of and then expressed toward the rest of those of the Blue Planet.
  • Sorceress Edea possessed by Ultimecia in Final Fantasy VIII turns Seifer into her half-crazed attack dog by playing on his long-held romantic dream of becoming a sorceress' knight, his lingering memories of Edea being his surrogate mother when he was a child, and his complicated rivalry with Squall, plus a dose of genuine magical influence over his emotions.
  • Neverwinter Nights:
    • Morag does this to Aribeth in the original campaign by throwing all of her doubts and fears back at her in incessant nightmares until she finally falls under the lizardperson's domination.
    • Towards the end of the expansion Hordes of the Underdark, the Big Bad Mephistopheles does this to all your party members with short but well-prepared Breaking Lectures, prompting a Face-Heel Turn from each just before the final battle. You may persuade each one back by being more convincing than he, but depending on the circumstances and your abilities, it may be impossible. This is an archdevil we're talking about here, after all. Deekin is a notable exception, he doesn't require a roll or special skills to stay with you, just an assurance that you're his friend. Aww...
  • In Super Robot Wars Original Generation, Duminuss implements this to Lamia. Basically, other than very strong programming to keep her on check, she's implanted with information that her friends abandoned her out of glee after being shot down to near death by Wilhelm von Juergen and would've rot to death if she wasn't saved by Duminuss, and in short, they're treating her like a disposable doll. This combination reverts Lamia into thinking that she's a disposable tool for war, her old mindset.
  • In Assassin's Creed II DLC Bonfire of the Vanities, it's revealed that this is how the Apple of Eden works: It amplifies the individual reasons each victim has for agreeing with the Apple's wielder up to the point of zealotry.
    • Al Mualim outright states in the first game that The Apple is "temptation given form".
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, a Desire Demon has brainwashed a Templar into believing he is living an idyllic family life, and she considers the arrangement to be mutually beneficial. You must choose to either let the Templar continue his wonderful delusion, or free him. Which means killing him. The demon will not release him, and he fights you to protect his imaginary family.
    • The sequel features a much more personal example of this trope. During "Night Terrors", you go into the Fade to save a mage boy You find a Desire Demon and a Pride Demon fighting over the chance to possess him. Depending on who's in your party, they can convince your friends to turn on you in exchange for something they want. It is hinted that they accept due to both the demon's magic and their own desires.
    • It's stated many times that demon can't tempt you with something you don't really want. No matter how unwilling victim seems to be there is always element of this trope.
    • The creepy lyrium idol you find in the Deep Roads brings out the worst personality traits of those who possess it. The second he touches it, Bartrand's ambition takes over and he leaves you all to die rather than share the loot you just found. When Meredith acquires it, her anti-mage paranoia goes through the roof. It also drives them insane, with a side order of superpowers.
  • It may be standard procedure in Morrowind and Oblivion, where the only school of magic not governed by a magical attribute — Illusion (which includes various forms of subtle and direct mind control) — depends on your Personality.
  • Shin Megami Tensei. Lucifer. Let's just say this thing about the man - listen to him, but always fear him. No matter how much of your friend he likes to look like. Manipulative and deceitful in the extreme, he may always be looking out for humanity - but you gotta realize he's still very much a Fallen Angel, and he's still looking for converts for his army...
  • Sephiroth's control over Cloud in Final Fantasy VII works a little bit like this - it magically exploits Cloud's obsession with getting revenge in order to bring him close and make him deliver the Black Materia.
    • It goes so much deeper. He's also manipulating Cloud through his loyalties, through his identity confusion, through his low self-esteem, and through the Jenova cells in his body (Re: Reunion).
  • In Tales of Xillia, Mila was created as a decoy to be "The Maxwell". However, she believes she is Maxwell.
  • In Tales of Legendia, Shirley is Brainwashed and Crazy by Nerifes, but still has her free will. She is thus driven to schizophrenia as her Nerifes-controlled side fights for a dark cause while her normal side fights against it. Eventually, Manipulative Bastard Maurits catches on and tricks the part of Shirley that is free into submitting to Nerifes completely.
  • Soul Calibur V's Pyrrha is subject to this at the hands of Tira. She ends up fighting her own brother repeatedly because she thinks she's doing the right thing letting herself be used by Soul Edge.
  • During Mia Touma's route in Duel Savior Destiny after an incident beneath the academy, she disappears and reappears in the enemy camp unable to distinguish who her former allies are. After this is broken through, though, it turns out that the mind control on her was just to keep her from causing damage since she really is on their side. If anything, she has simply been manipulated rather than being under genuine thought altering changes.
  • In the Mass Effect universe, Indoctrination can work this way. In fact, the Reapers prefer it this way, since if the individual is more fully under their control their mental processes degrade, forcing them to control their thralls more directly, making them less useful. Saren was carefully manipulated into believing what he did was for the ultimate best of the Turians, even while working for the Reapers he did feared that he had lost control. Other characters in the series get their desires warped into a way to serve while believing themselves to be autonomous.

    Web Comics 
  • MAG ISALucia convinces Eman to join '''The Order''' using sex and philosophy
  • The Head Alien from It's Walky! is a textbook case for this trope. Although he does "brainwash" his victims with forced repeated viewings of The Sound of Music, his favorite means for messing with their heads is by bringing up things they'd rather not think about, questioning the purity of their motives, and fighting them with their own inner demons.
    • Also, in one of the last storylines, Penelope brainwashes all of Squad 135. Daisy and three Mauve Shirts are freed by a simple dart gun, with which they have trouble breaking Beef's skin. When Guns succeeds, however, he immediately kills her, and Penny explains that he was won over by the existential crisis of having been switched with Sal at birth.
    • The Head Alien's penchant for doing this is subverted in this strip; when he comes against members of the team that he doesn't frequently interact with or taunt (as he tends to mess with Sal's mind in particular), he quickly learns that he doesn't know enough about them to screw with their heads, and what little he does know doesn't bother them in the slightest when he tries to throw it back in their faces. Frustrated, he curses himself for 'playing favourites'.
  • In Erfworld, Wanda Firebaugh — the color-coded Evil Overlord's Croakamancer — uses a suggestion spell and torture (with definite lesbian BDSM overtones) to manipulate Jillian Zamussels, an enemy mercenary leader. It is, indeed, complex.
    • There are several references to Jillian's history of repeated captures and (apparent) escapes, implying that the events of the story are the culmination of an ongoing campaign of psychological manipulation.
    • Note also that in the summer text updates, there is a reference to Jillian observing the work of her new Turnamancer, a unit specializing in part in manipulating an enemy unit to serve a new side, but deciding in the end that she "Didn't play right."
  • In this Order of the Stick strip, Nale uses this technique on Elan to trick him into attacking Haley, combining the Suggestion spell with some quite cunning twisting of recent events. Only the fact that Haley regained her capacity for speech at the right moment prevented Nale's plan from working.
  • Inverted/played straight in Sluggy Freelance in that even otherwise seemingly irresistible vampire mind control powers can't make women think Sam is hot, or even pretty cool.
  • Zebra Girl's slow degeneration into a sadistic demon who feeds on terror and nightmares appears to be the consequence of a magical spell which did not so much alter the way she thinks as block her ability to resist the lingering mental effects of her long-completed physical transformation.
  • MSF High's Legion might fit into this trope, at least in Mahou Galaxy and during the Legion War, when they were the bad guys. Being converted into a Legion causes people to be put into a situation where they want to help their sisters because of the 'love' that binds them. Mostly unchanged personality, and the feelings seem to be genuine. But it still seems like this trope, at least for unwilling victims.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. Doc discovers that Sparklelord has been manipulating his mind towards becoming a Knight Templar. The Alt Text makes this very clear—assuming that Chris Hastings isn't being facetious:
    Alt Text: To be fair, Doc always WANTED to blow up helicopters. The bike just gave him the means.
  • In Homestuck, Doc Scratch (omniscient cue ball man) seems to induce Vriska (huge bitch bluh bluh) to do violent and self-destructive things by telling her she can't resist the urge to do them.
    • Vriska's own relationship with Tavros is loaded with emotional abuse as well as actual mind control. And attempted seduction. And lasting physical harm. And convincing him he's deserved it all.
    • Vriska's Famous Ancestor Marquise Mindfang has her own version, where she does just enough mind control so the subject doesn't know where Mindfang's influence ends and their own impulses begin:
      Mindfang's journalog: I have masked the line 8etween my puppeteering and her volition exquisitely, and her uncertainty over her own control fuels her fear.
  • In Penny and Aggie, one of the antagonists, Cyndi, successfully performs this on Heel Face Turned victim Charlotte, quite effectively - while restrained and seconds away from being murdered. It goes like this: starting with about here, Charlotte decides to end Cyndi's interference with the protagonists' lives... with drastic measures. Cyndi, tied up and held hostage, responds angrily to Charlotte, at first believing that Charlotte would never attack her. After being proven wrong, Cyndi attempts to explain that she isn't quite that bad, though admittedly a bit of a Bitch. Even to the readers, she comes across as more of a Jerkass Woobie than the villain she's been perceived as for the rest of the series, and you end up hoping she can talk Charlotte down from committing murder - she even seems to counsel Charlotte on dealing with properly directing her bottled-up anger due to her abuse... THEN she suggests Charlotte take a leaf from the Bible's pages to figure out how to atone for the hurtful things she's done before. To the readers, her tone visibly changes. At first, it doesn't look good for Charlotte. Don't worry, though, she DOES get better, and Cyndi DOES get found out before she can do any more harm.
  • Paranormal Mystery Squad captured Leonard guessing he's a thrall of Vampire Cheerleaders and tried to remove the charm. Then Lita explained to Charlotte how this was done and why simple methods aren't going to reverse it.
  • In Knights Of Buena Vista, there is a charisma-based ability called "Love at First Sight", which induces love, but isn't charm spell (which also bypasses basic mind control immunity).

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, this is the favorite approach of Don Sebastiano. He's a powerful telepath, but he only uses the telepathy to sense what he can use against his target. He turned Peppercorn from a belligerent good guy to a belligerent sidekick. He turned Bogus from a friendly shapeshifter into a friendless mental wreck who depends on Don Sebastiano like a crutch and does whatever he asks, no matter how despicable. Sebastiano got his comeuppance, but it looks like he's back on the road to Big Bad-dom.
    • A member of the new villain group, CORE, does this as well. Without the psychic powers.
  • The magical wards woven through Addergoole stop the new students freaking out at the weirdness or questioning too much what's happening. But it's peer pressure and something resembling Stockholm Syndrome (if you squint) that makes most of them buy into Ellemenhai Society.
  • One of Alice's abilities in A-GENTS. She would work on manipulating a person's emotions over time to make them fanatically loyal to her. Even though she's dead, all of the former slaves that are still alive still have extensive emotional responses even at the mention of her name.
  • Bennett The Sage realizes that maybe he is the devil when he off-handedly tells The Nostalgia Critic to do life-ruining things and the Critic does them instantly.
  • To Boldly Flee has The Cinema Snob turn on the other critics (and even accidently help kill The Last Angry Geek} after the Executor manipulates him into becoming corporate.
  • In Worm, Jack Slash manages to inflict this trope upon Panacea, driving her to a psychotic breakdown in which her feelings for her adopted sister Glory Girl are driven out of control, causing her to inadvertently turn Glory Girl into pure Body Horror.
  • The Slender Man seemingly prefers to try and get his minions to do this. Some of the crazier ones do. Usually, however..

    Western Animation 
  • In Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Forte uses glowing music notes and the Beast's own insecurities and anger to turn against Belle when she leaves to get a Christmas Tree. Later, he almost succeeds in convincing the Beast to smash the magical rose, but the sight of Belle's Christmas present snaps him out of it.
  • In Huntik once a seeker is linked to a titan-summoning amulet there is a constant connection called 'the bond' between the two, which the seeker uses to command the titan. The titan itself is under no obligation to follow these instructions but the constant telepathic contact slowly imprints the seeker's personality and allegiance over its own until the titan is completely devoted to the seeker and his/her cause. The longer a titan is bonded to one seeker, the longer it would take for the titan to become loyal to a new seeker, though this can be reduced for seekers with similar personalities.
  • Gorilla Grodd uses this in an episode of Justice League, using his psychic powers to exacerbate the heroes' latent distrust and jealousy to split them up. When The Flash takes this as an excuse to say none of them meant any of it, Martian Manhunter corrects him - they meant every word, even if they wouldn't normally have said it out loud. It also has the side effect of making John / GL blurt out that he'd give his life for Shayera.
    Hawkgirl: So what do we do?
    Green Lantern: All we can do is say we're sorry, and move on.
  • Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic provides a subversion. It seems like he does this to most of the mane cast, but the hypnosis is made visibly apparent. This becomes doubly obvious when he tries his More Than Mind Control routine on Fluttershy and she resists without even trying, causing Discord to angrily brainwash her by force. He could have hit her and the rest of the ponies with Mind-Control Eyes right away and they would've been just as powerless; turning their emotional strengths against them first is just more fun whenever he can pull it off.
    • Played straight in the next episode with Twilight. She turns gray after giving up on her friends. Without any brainwashing.
      • Also played straight in "Lesson Zero" when Big Mac wants to keep Smarty Pants for real.
    • According to Word of God, the trope was also played straight during Luna's fall and the creation of Nightmare Moon, though it wasn't until the IDW comic series that we get to see exactly who was doing the mind control.
  • This is how Adora became Hordak's "daughter" and Tyke Bomb in She-Ra: Princess of Power. Not only did Hordak train her, every time she tried to question him, Shadow Weaver used her magic on her to strengthen her Fake Memories. Fortunately, once He-Man tells her that her "father" is a cruel villain and she's given her sword by the Sorceress (which weakens Shadow Weaver's brainwashing), the mind control breaks and Adora has her Heel-Face Turn, the starting point of the series.
  • This is Slade's chief weapon on Teen Titans, using a combination of blackmail, Hannibal Lecturing, and emotional manipulation to convince his "apprentices" they have no choice but to serve him- he fails with Robin, but is more successful until the very end, with Terra.
    • In his first appearance Brother Blood does this too, using emotional manipulation and personal charisma to bind his students' loyalties, bringing his Psychic Powers into play to convince them he really can offer what they want. Later episodes, though, flanderized him into a cruel jerkass who nobody would ever want to work for unless they were completely brainwashed.
  • This happens to Elyon Brown aka Princess Elyon of Meridian in W.I.T.C.H., though the villains find the process more annoying than anything.
  • In the 2009 DVD movie Wonder Woman, Ares does this to Persephone, albeit offsceen, to get her to turn against the Amazons. Though later when she fights Hippolyta, Persephone reveals she joined up with Ares as being on an island of all women, governed purely on warrior tendencies and away from the outside world, denied her any chance to fall in love and raise a family of her own. Making Hippolyta realize that maybe her policies weren't so cut and dry after all.
  • Rat King pulls this on Splinter in an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012). Using his rodent controlling powers to access Splinter's memories, Rat King makes small, hurtful suggestions to steadily convince Splinter to abandon the turtles.

    Real Life 
  • "In the best cons, the sucker cons himself." To expand, you use their suspension of disbelief (whether denial or ambition) to get them to buy into your Big Lie.
  • Any actual "mind control". Nazis, cults, propaganda, advertising, talking heads on the news: If anyone gets you to do anything, it's by convincing you that you want to do it, or have to do it.
  • Abusers do this.
  • Hypnotism only works if the person wants the change to happen or if the person wants to do whatever the hypnotist "makes" them do.
    • In the 1950s, an unethical hypnotherapist induced a patient of his to rob a bank in part by convincing him that the take would be used to fight communism.
  • Not exactly mind control, but there is the curious case of the debate about whether the administration of former-President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, was authoritarian or not. While there's no doubt that he had no problem stamping out opposition, for the most part he actually didn't have to. He was genuinely adored by many Venezuelans (enough to legitimately win three elections), and so could often let his supporters silence his critics for him without actually having to do anything. For example, he allowed freedom of the press, but only because his critics were automatically regulated to the fringes by society itself.


More Hypnotizable Than He ThinksMind ManipulationThe Music Meister
Monster Protection RacketPlotsMovie Making Mess
Moral MyopiaOlder Than SteamMST3K Mantra
Moral Event HorizonHeel Face IndexNot Brainwashed
A Match Made in StockholmStockholm SyndromeNot Brainwashed
Improvised GolemsImageSource/WebcomicsUnsound Effect

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