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People Puppets
aka: People Puppet
Linguini can get—awkward—if given a scalp massage.

Ron Stoppable: Hey, stop hitting yourself!
Professor Dementor: I cannot!
Kim Possible, Ill-Suited

Not Mind Control - body control!

Some guys just feel the need to be in control... of everything. Including you. No, not with possession, not through manipulation; we mean literally controlling your body, forcing you to move as he wishes, and turning you into his personal People Puppets.

Such a character, usually a villain, can control his victims' limbs as if they were marionettes on a set of strings. Sometimes he'll actually have a puppet-theme, and many a Demonic Dummy has powers like this to play on the irony of a person being puppet-ed by the puppets; but other times a character just happens to have this ability along with related Psychic Powers. In either case, those controlled will often move in Marionette Motion.

Either way, he can manipulate others' bodies while they're still in 'em, much to his victims' dismay... as said victims are usually conscious, confused, and complaining (sometimes loudly, to inform allies — and the audience — that "I ...can't... control my... body!") Or maybe they Can Only Move the Eyes. Most times, they haven't been Brainwashed or anything, as they're protesting mightily — it's just that there's not much they can do about it. For some reason, many character's mouths seem to be immune to this, as they will often protest whatever it is that they're being made to do. This may be related to Voices Are Mental.

Often shown by having the bad guy says "Kneel" to the person. The person says "I will never kneel before you". They duly get made to kneel.

Occasionally corpses can be animated and used as People Puppets, but if a corpse's every motion is not explicitly controlled by its animator, then there's a good chance it's just an average zombie.

If it is the puppet's own weapon which is controlling them, they are a victim of Weapon Wields You.

The ability to turn people into People Puppets is often a very specific form of Mind over Matter.

Don't let this happen to you! Take a quick course in Heroic Willpower to build up resistance!

And, yes, there are erotic examples of this. Just use your imagination.

Subtrope of Body Snatcher. Compare with Dead Guy Puppet. Not to be confused with Puppet Permutation, in which a character is transformed into a literal puppet. Also not to be confused with Meat Puppet which is a type of manipulated Host. See also Living Doll Collector; and Playing with Puppets for when the puppeteer starts toying with his puppet, usually in a cruel fashion.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Enya Geil's Stand, Justice, allows her to control anyone who enters its radius, provided they have been wounded first.
    • Hierophant Green can do the same thing if it gets inside a person. Kakyoin even held a set of puppet strings when he was shown doing this, but it is unknown if he actually has to do this.
  • Evangeline from Mahou Sensei Negima! is another puppet master and once used her 'invisible wires' in a fight against Setsuna to make her move as she wanted. Including coming close to breaking her back.
  • One spider-like enemy in Chrono Crusade can control people with tiny spiders on cobweb strings.
  • Legato in Trigun is powerful enough that he can do this to groups of people at once.
  • Genzou and Koshiro from Genzo are the Kings of this trope. They can do marvels with their puppets, ranging from decoys to sleeping gases to exploding dolls to Puppets made of flesh. Genzo is also frequently shown while making said puppets in disturbing detail...
  • InuYasha featured an episode with a villain (Yura of the Hair) who took unconscious victims and controlled them all with an elaborate rigging of fine, invisible hairs.
    • Let's not forget the Corpse Crows, who can use the recently deceased as vessels (albeit somewhat awkwardly).
    • There's also Kagura, who can temporarily use the bodies of the dead, even making them talk by manipulating wind.
  • Princess Tutu has several examples with The Chessmaster Drosselmeyer: When he captures Princess Tutu and brings her to his dimension, he forces her to dance and actually attempts to turn her into a puppet, so that he will be in complete control. Near the end of the series, he uses his abilities to try to force Fakir, the only other person who can control the story, to write Ahiru's death — Fakir is able to stop him by stabbing himself in the hand.
  • The Wedding Peach episode "Puppet of Love" features a demon puppet who controls people once he gets a lock of their hair. Pota gets a lock of Yo's hair in order to force him to accept her gifts and eat her cooking; amusingly, the puppet stops Yo from explaining himself to the others by making him cover his mouth with his own hand. That's inconspicuous...
  • Puppetmon from Digimon Adventure did this trope to the letter: invisible strings and all.
  • There's an episode of Cardcaptor Sakura in which Eriol does this to Syaoran with invisible threads, forcing the struggling kid to attack Sakura against his will. She has to transform The Sword into a Sakura card and then cut the threads.
  • Naruto has several ninja puppeteers from the Hidden Sand Village, but they've only used human beings as puppets a few times, most noticeably by Chiyo to Sakura (though the latter fully consents to it) and by Sasori to a bunch of modified corpses during their battle against each other.
    • Ninja from the Nara clan can use a version of this power through shadow manipulation; if their shadow (which they can warp) touches the target's, the target has no choice but to mimic the shadow user's exact motions. Shikamaru makes particularly good use of this technique in his battles.
    • The Yamanaka clan has an advanced technique which allows them to telepathically control the bodies of others, though Ino herself can't seem to use it in the manga.
    • Nagato/Pain's eyes let him do this with corpses that had chakra receivers pierced in their bodies, each of which has a different power. At walking proximity to him, he can even fire those rods out of his own body to control living people. However, the first person we saw him try it on happened to be Naruto, who has the Nine-Tailed Fox's chakra as well as his own Sage chakra allowing him to resist control. Naruto even uses the phrase "dead people puppets" when referring to Pain in the Viz translation of Chapter 551 when realizing that the resurrected Nagato can wield those powers by himself.
      • Pain can also allow his subordinates to remotely control corpses with one-third the power of their controller.
      • Tobi gains this ability after he steals Nagato's eyes off of his corpse.
    • An Edo Tensei-revived Sasori later does this with several members of Anko's team, who were alive, but apparently too weak to resist. This was necessary due to his loss of all his battle-ready puppets.
    • In The Lost Tower, the heroine nearly strangled herself with assistance from the villain.
  • Donquixote Doflamingo in One Piece, one of the Shichibukai, is shown to have this power.
    • Luffy himself used an attack where he "controlled" an opponent by wrapping his limbs around theirs, both controlling their movements and doubling as a human shield. In this case, it was played for laughs.
  • The Laughing Man in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex never shows his face to anyone. If he has to talk with someone, he usually hijacks a persons brain by hacking into its neural implants.
    • In Solid State Society a hacker who's actually called The Puppeteer takes control over Togusa, forces him to kidnap his own daughter, and then gives him back control of his right arm, giving him the option of suicide. Togusa picks that option, only to be interrupted. The Puppeteer's entire MO was to force people in situations where they kill themselves of their free will, since they consider the alternative worse.
    • There's also several cases of the Major possessing people - including surprisingly often her own teammates - throughout the series (not to mention the comics), including a case where she forces Batou to hit himself, and Togusa to give a very different speech from what he intended at a trial.
  • Played with in Kinnikuman's tag-team Tournament Arc, in which two members of last arc's Quirky Miniboss Squad use cursed dolls that can be arranged in ways in which people who are normally best friends become mortal enemies, at which point it will be More Than Mind Control, with justifications as to why said friends are now enemies. Needless to say, having knowledge of the dolls enables the heroes to attempt to resist the force, eventually causing two said dolls to fuse together to represent their now-unbreakable friendship.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
  • Neferpitou from Hunter Hunter can create puppets out of corpses.
  • Shiki from Black Cat manages to do this to Rinslet by stinging her with one of his puppet bees, which inject people's body with a poison that allows him to control their movements.
  • One of the Geass-using children in Turn 14 of Code Geass can do this, as the Black Knight who opens his Knightmare's cockpit unfortunately discovers.
  • Sherrill Kamelot from D.Gray-Man has the power to telekinetically move the bodies of others like this, including stopping them from talking.
  • Happens in the anime version of Black Butler, to Elizabeth.
  • Mukuro Rokudo from Katekyo Hitman Reborn! displays such an ability through use of a special bullet; once he shoots himself in the head with the bullet, anyone whom he has scratched with his trident will be vulnerable to possession.
    • Daemon Spade is shown to have a similar power when he reveals himself to be possessing Julie Katou's body and takes over Chrome Dokuro's mind, sans bullet.
  • Bleach:
    • The Hollow known as Numb Chandelier shoots seeds at her victims. The seeds' roots grow throughout the bodies of people, taking control and forcing them to attack each other.
    • Uryu Ishida turns himself into a puppet when he's been paralyzed by a toxin, using strings of spirit energy to move his body like a marionette.
    • Anything struck by Zommari's Amor attack would be subject to his will. This could be limited to limbs if it only struck there, but a mark on the head would grant him complete body control.
    • Either this or Brainwashedand Crazy is being currently used by the Vandereich to decimate the Shinigamis that are a part of the Mission Control squads.
    • Giselle from the Vandenreich can do this too, but only if the target is splattered with her blood.
  • Gilbert Nightray of Pandora Hearts gets this treatment when he, Oz, and Alice go to the mansion where the coming-of-age ceremonies are held. Zwei uses her chain Doldum to bind his limbs with puppet strings and force him to kill Oz. He ends up breaking free before he does, of course. Suffice to say, his mind was also being controlled.
  • Dietrich von Lohengrin of Trinity Blood uses nerve-controlling monofilament wire to do this to people as his main method of attack—his Rosenkreuz Orden codename is "Puppeteer".

    Comic Books 
  • Aesthetic Note: There are literally dozens of comic book covers featuring giant-sized supervillains looming over the main characters, manipulating their bodies with marionette strings. This is usually more symbolic than anything (ranking right up there with "Supervillains playing chess with the heroes" covers) but expect anyone so depicted to be a Manipulative Bastard, if not a mind-or-body controller.
  • The Puppet Master, of the Fantastic Four, is like this.
  • This is in fact the power of Jericho from the Teen Titans comics and series. Despite his parentage he is in fact a Good Guy... usually.
    • His power appears to be something more like possession.
  • Karma of the New Mutants can also control other people. Unlike Jericho she can take over several at once, though it apparently takes a lot of focus.
  • So can Professor X, though it is rather harder for him and he only uses it as an absolute last resort (except in the Ultimate Universe, where he's a bit freer with his mojo).
  • Some of the villains in Sleepwalker did this, including the demonic minions of Sleepwalker's archnemesis Cobweb, either through trying to force their victim's conscious mind to do what they said, or simply by suppressing the victim's will and taking over their bodies. Sleepwalker was able to break the villains' control and expel them from their victims' minds by zapping the human hosts with his warp beams. Unlike a normal situation, when being zapped with Sleepy's warp beams subjects a living entity to severe body horror and a nasty mental trauma, the humans possessed by Cobweb's demons didn't seem to suffer any ill effects, possibly because the demons had completely suppressed their minds and took the brunt of the blast.
  • Worm, of the Savage Land Mutates (great name for a band) can control the body of anyone he coats with slime that he secretes from the suckers on his hands. Let the fanfic begin!
  • Copycat of Dv8 and Gen13. As her name suggests, her powers usually involved forcing people to copy her motions.
  • The Skull of Earth X takes this to the extreme: he's so good at this that can control millions of people at the same time. A few of the members of his (unwilling) army note that they can't even go to the bathroom or see to personal hygiene unless he remembers to let them.
  • The final arc of the Spider-Girl comics centers around Peter Parker being mentally enslaved by the Green Goblin, and Spider-Girl's trip into her dad's subconscious in an attempt to free him from the Goblin's possession.
  • Doctor Doom had an arc in Super-Villain Teamup / Champions where a mindcontrolling gas turns the entire world into his puppety slaves, and none the wiser.
  • An arc of the post-Zero Hour Legion of Super-Heroes revealed that Saturn Girl had been accidentally doing this to Cosmic Boy's comatose body for the past ten-or-so issues. Whether this was Nightmare Fuel or Fetish Fuel depended on the reader, but Cosmic Boy was surprisingly non-freaked out about it when he woke up.
  • Empowered has Mindf**k, who along with her brother uses the "hijack motor control and leave them conscious" version. Mindf**k was forced by her brother to remove her eyes and tongue when she was younger, and used it herself to force Emp out of a single use portal when they were both trapped on a space station undergoing reentry.
  • Slade during Batman and Robin uses Damian's body by means of an implant inserted in Damian's spine to attack Dick and try to get revenge on him. Dick figures out what's going on, and it ends rather badly for Slade.
  • The exact concept of the 2000s OMACs in the current DCU: an army of veritable Cape Busters composed by unwilling human hosts possessed by a cybernetic nanovirus granting them several physical enhancements, but submerging their conscious mind, replaced by a permanent uplink to a Rampant A.I..

    Film 
  • At the end of Stardust, the witch Lamia controls Septimus' corpse. The ghosts of the other brothers look at his ghost in confusion; he just shrugs. Particularly notable since Lamia makes no attempt to provide realistic motion, rather more or less moving the sword and letting the body dangle behind it.
  • In Ratatouille, Remy is able to control Linguini like a marionette by pulling on the hairs on his head.
  • In Chicago it used in a fantasy sequence as a metaphor for manipulation of the press.
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Freddy Krueger does this literally to poor Philip — first animating one of his own carved puppets, then graphically stringing him along by his bloody tendons until he forces him to leap from a high tower.
  • Two movies use this in different ways: Gamer is basically a First-Person Shooter where you are the person and a death row inmate is the shooter - and one shooter wants out. Less related is Surrogates, which is basically Second Life in real life, only the "avatars" are slightly overdone Uncanny Valley robots. Someone has found a way to kill the "users" when they kill the robots, which was previously impossible (there is a grizzled detective, but he's a long-time Surrogate user and probably not as technophobic as, say, Will Smith's character in I, Robot).
  • Iron Man 2 has Ivan Vanko controlling the War Machine suit with Rhodey unable to do anything to stop him.
  • The Beetlejuice movie plays this for laughs with the Maitlands controlling the Deetzes and their guests, making them sing Harry Belafonte's ''Banana Boat Song''.
    • "Learn to throw your voice! Fool your friends! Fun at parties!"
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space - one of the Klowns kills police sergeant John Vernon and turns him into a ventriloquist dummy.
  • X-Men:
    • In X-Men, Professor X briefly takes control of Toad and Sabretooth.
    • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Xavier possesses various people around Mystique at the airport to talk to her in a casual display of how creepy his power can be when he gets creative. At the end, he also controls Magneto when Mystique knocks the latter's helmet off to free himself from the metal debris that fell on him earlier.

    Literature 
  • In Tad Williams' book Stone of Farewell, the main character comes across Skodi, a child-like young woman tending to a group of orphans. She turns out to be a witch, and she uses her powers to take control of Simon's body. (And no, not for the reasons you're thinking of; Simon thankfully dodges that bullet although she does plan to hand him over to the Big Bad in order to gain great power.) Her accidental death during an unholy ritual breaks her hold over Simon.
  • Senator Gregg Hartmann from Wild Cards had this ability, though he attributed it to his Split Personality, Puppetman.
  • Morjin in Ea Cycle likes to turn his enemies into telepathically controlled puppets called ghuls. In addition, he does the same to clones of himself that he grew just for that purpose.
  • One psychic in the Fingerprints series has this as his power. There's another who can achieve the same effect through general Mind Control.
  • Modus operandi for Mesan bio-nanobots in Honor Harrington. The idea is extrapolated to it's most terrible conclusions, as no one has (for now) invented a successful way to counter it that doesn't kill infected.
  • To a lesser degree, in Vorkosigan Saga, Miles once realizes that the mooks in power suits are working with the default settings and are therefore vulnerable to factory override codes. He only performs small changes like slowly raising the temperature thermostat on one suit, reversing the catheter flow on another, and causing some of their weapons to misfire, knowing that if they realize what he's doing, they'll just cut out their comms.
  • In Ravenor novels, Ravenor does this on a regular basis — usually to friends who are aware of it. His crippling injuries require it in order for him to do many things.
  • In The Jungle Book, Kaa does this to the Banderlog. Even Baloo and Bagheera are affected until Mowgli touches them.
  • Kandra in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series can consume a corpse, stripping it clean down to the bones, then reform their own bodies into the flesh they just absorbed. The end result is that kandra can take someone's corpse and imitate their appearance exactly. It also helps that they, as a species, have extremely good acting skills-it has been shown that a kandra impersonator can trick people who knew the person pre-digestion.
    • In a more traditional example of this trope, Kandra (and their cousins, the Koloss) can be controlled remotely and against their will by any sufficiently powerful Mistborn.
  • The final part of the Star Trek Expanded Universe duology The Brave and the Bold concerns the final of the four Malkus Artifacts...a mind-control device which the spirit of Malkus himself resides. That spirit controls everyone on Narendra III and, through the events of the previous parts, Spock, McCoy, Kira, and Robert DeSoto. It is so complete that its victims can't even do autonomic functions by themselves. Spock defeats the control through a mind-meld with Worf, and Kira defeats it through sheer willpower.
  • Caine does this in Gone. Lampshaded when a character says that he's never before heard of a telekinetic who can use his power on people, instead of just objects.
  • In The Black Swan, Mercedes Lackey's retelling of Swan Lake, Odile is a sympathetic character who is completely under her father's magical control when she dances with Siegfried. She turns on him shortly thereafter.
  • Lourdes of the Star Shards Chronicles gains this ability as her superpowers develop.
  • Elminster in Myth Drannor had the protagonist revived by a wizard who implanted some control into his new body, to the point of being able to force spellcasting. Of course, Mystra had her own idea of who's the boss to Elminster, so she simply slipped him a thought-only activated sex change spell along with an instructive vision. Not the same body — no controls.
  • In Tom Kratman's Caliphate, there are chips that can be implanted in a person's head that allow the person so equipped to be operated remotely, [[spoiler:as is done with Bernie Matheson and Zheng Ling). It used to be required that Imperial States of America agents for the successor agency to the CIA had one implanted until the Chinese demonstrated how they could be hacked, much to the worse for the ISA. Chip security was improved, but there still remains a strong aversion to "chipping", as the implantation procedure is called, among ISA agents.
  • One of the stories in Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky's 1926 novel The Letter Killers Club features two scientists who figure out how to cultivate a strain of bacteria to inhibit the nerves that control the muscles; in combination with an antenna sending out signals to manipulate the "ether wind" they can remote-control bodies subjected to this treatment. At first, the procedure is applied to patients in mental institutes only, but a population-wide programme is soon implemented. Not coincidentally, this story was written during Soviet repression of artists and creativity.
  • Voldemort does this to Harry in Goblet of Fire. To make Harry bow for him, Voldy first uses Mind Control, but Harry knows how to resist. So Voldemort just makes him do it by body control.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Angel's "Smile Time", the showrunner of a kids puppet TV show is turned by demon puppets into a a living people puppet. Complete with the hole in the back. When not controlled by one of the demons, he's barely capable of speaking.
    "Make him swallow his tongue again!"
    • In an earlier episode, a necromancer is able to do this to Angel and Spike both because they're both dead.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Plato's Stepchildren", when the Platonians used telekinesis to control the Enterprise landing party's bodies (but not their minds). Their control was so great that they could make them speak. And in Spock's case, laugh or cry.
    • They were also very keen on the Rule 34 aspect of this particular trick.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Skin of Evil," Armus uses what is apparently telekinesis to control Data's body. Since he's an android, Data is much calmer about it than most victims of this trope.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. The episode "Cathexis" has an alien moving from person to person on Voyager forcing them to do things — those concerned have no memory of the event afterwards. Inverts the usual trope in that the puppeteer is actually the good guy, a member of the crew who's been forced from his body and is now roaming the ship as an Energy Being, trying to stop them from going into an alien trap.
  • Happens to Lister in the Red Dwarf episode "Demons & Angels". He still has the power of speech, resulting in memorable lines such as: "Look out - I'm gonna kill ya!"
    • It's also happened to Rimmer. Since he's a hologram generated by the ship's computer, the computer is capable of taking control of his "body". In the episode "Queeg," the backup computer takes control of him in order to force him to exercise (why a hologram would need to exercise is not really explained).
  • Kamen Rider Fourze has the Pyxis Zodiarts, based on the Pyxis constellation, or the compass. In addition to being able to find things with special appendages on his arms, he can use those same appendages to control people, forcing them to move wherever he wants them to. Albeit with a very stiff, obviously unnatural gait.
  • Power Rangers: The tactic of a Monster of the Week or two. The Ninja Storm seasons had two major villains who could do it, though the usage of it was different (Choobo used it to control the Rangers, Vexacus used it to smash 'em into each other a lot and then drop 'em.)
  • Stargate Atlantis. Wraith queens. One word: Kneel.
  • Heroes just got into the game with a particular creepy example in Eric Doyle who also happens to be an actual puppeteer.
    • Then Sylar does it to Claire using telekinesis, and shows us all how it's really done.
      • I had assumed that Sylar had stolen Doyle's ability in the same way he stole the shapeshifter's ability, because the sound effects were similar to when Doyle uses his "puppet master" thing. This turns out not to be the case, as the puppeteer shows up hale and whole, about midway (heh) through season 4.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Shakespeare Code", the Carrionites use a puppet to control Shakespeare.
    • In the episode "The Five Doctors" the Coronet of Rassilon is used to turn others into people puppets.
    • In the episode "Midnight" an alien entity takes control of the Doctor's body, paralyzing him and forcing him to repeat everything it says.
    • In "Asylum of the Daleks", several people are turned into "Dalek Puppets", several of which are unaware that they are being controlled.
  • In an episode of LazyTown, Robbie gets his hands on a remote control that can control anyone. He then proceeds to have some fun with Sportacus. No, not like that!
  • Warehouse 13: Cecil B. Demille's riding crop grants the user total control of another person's body.
  • Done to the heroes by a warlock in an episode of The Legend Of Dick And Dom, by means of VoodooDolls; they beat themselves up and nearly walk over a cliff.
  • Vex, a Dark Fae from Lost Girl, is from a dangerous species of Fae called Mezmers. As such, he can manipulate people like puppets, and even have them kill themselves while controlling them. Even Dyson is wary of crossing him.
  • In Farscape, Scorpius uses a mind-control device that allows him to manipulate Grunchlk's body.

    Music 
  • Done in the cover-art of Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast, which shows the Devil controlling someone like a marionette and is in turn controlled by the band's mascot Eddie in a similar fashion.
  • *NSYNC milked this concept as much as possible for their album No Strings Attached. The album's cover portrays them dangling from strings like puppets and the video for "Bye Bye Bye" portrays them as marionettes being controlled by a Psycho Ex-Girlfriend and escaping from her. Their debut television performance of the song had several dancers dangling from strings controlled by Giant Hands of Doom while the band performed and their tour promoting the album opens with them dangling from the roof and dressed in patchwork doll costumes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Mortasheen, this is the power of the monsterCackle. Who was originally designed to watch over children. And yes, they do play that for all the creepy it's worth. And it is inverted with the creature Victrossus, which is essentially a body that puppeteers the brains of others.
  • Powerful psykers in Warhammer 40,000 are known to do this on occasion.
  • A major aspect of the antagonists in Mage: The Awakening, the Seers of the Throne, is the fact that they possess artifacts known as "Profane Urim" which allow them to do this. Its probably a major factor in their ability to effectively rule the world.
    • Vampire: The Masquerade had the Dominate clan ability, which at its highest levels let you physically possess another person. It also had the Presence ability, which covered Charm Person. The Ventrue had both, which went a long way to explaining why they were the de facto leaders of the Camarilla faction.
    • Geist The Sin Eaters features the Marionette Manifestation which, depending on the Keys invoked, allows a Sin-Eater to control machinery (Industrial), zombies (Stillness), animals (Primeval), or ghosts (Stigmata). There isn't really a control for normal people, though; the Passion Marionette is more about mindfuckery than bodily manipulation.
  • Older editions of Dungeons & Dragons make this possible with the Dominate Person or Dominate Monster spells. In spell compendium there is a spell called puppeteer that does this.
  • In Shadowrun there's a spell called "Contral Actions" which does exactly that.

    Video Games 
  • Breath of Fire 2 has a village where all the villagers have been taken over by facehuggers (looks just like those from Alien), that control people. They can be removed so that you can save the villager behind, however.
    • Or, you can be a rat-bastard and kill the villager. He/she will have less HP.
  • Master Hand from the Subspace Emissary mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is being controlled like this—literally, with glowing yellow 'strings' and all—by Tabuu.
  • Screaming Mantis from Metal Gear Solid 4 manipulates the nanomachines in peoples bodies to control them like puppets (literally - you can see faint strings coming from the victims).
    • Screaming Mantis is herself controlled by the ghost of Psycho Mantis, who himself often made puppeteer like hand motions when controlling Meryl in Metal Gear Solid.
  • In Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, the psychic operatives Jov Leonov and Nicholas Wrightson both specialise in mind control, with various persons acting as eyes for the blinded Leonov and vessels for Wrightson's wandering consciousness. However, Leonov is the better of the two, able to control entire armies with his powers, even creating suicide bombers via his soldier's explosive collars. For added creepiness, he calls the mind-controlled soldiers "Meat Puppets."
  • Ghost Trick: Yomiel is a 'manipulator' who can control other people's bodies against their will. As well as his own corpse, or those of animals.
  • Those Half-Life headcrabs may well be based on the Brainsuckers from X-COM: Apocalypse, which had similar effects and even look a lot like them. Brainsuckers were sometimes launched as weapons by the aliens and could be shot off an affected agent with a little lot of luck.
  • One of the characters from Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits was the demon puppeteer Bebedora, who appeared to be a cute but Creepy Child but was really an ancient monster who could manipulate other creatures with magical puppet strings. When she joined your party she could control up to 2 enemies from the opposing team at a time, even replacing them when they died, making her extraordinarily powerful.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Link learns the Command Melody which allows the player to control someone else. However, it's mainly used to control statues, and on willing partners like Medli and Makar, so it may not be actual control.
  • In Second Sight, this is one of John Vattic's psychic powers in the form of an upgraded version of Psychic Projection.
  • The Animate Dead necromancy spell in Romancing SaGa plays this to a T, complete with strings. It sucks even more because multiple people can be controlled this way. Yeah, the final boss likes to spam this a lot...
  • Sir Zeliek in World of Warcraft. Unlike most Scourge, the Lich King let Zeliek keep his mind and soul - he just doesn't control his (now undead) body. The poor man was a paladin of very strong faith, so strong that the Light still serves him, even though he's undead. Unfortunately, the actual control of the Light apparently falls in with control of his body, so he begs players to flee or kill him even as he's smiting them with all the power of Holiness. He even apologizes and begs for forgiveness when he kills a player.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, powerful Blood Mages can do this to enemies by controlling their blood.
  • in LEGO Batman, the Riddler and the Mad Hatter can mind-control other characters; doing this to control some characters is required to clear some levels...and is kinda disturbing.
  • In Psycho Waluigi, One of the game's main gimmicks is that Waluigi can use his new psychic powers to carry around enemies with natural abilities, like ice breath or fireballs, and use them as weapons to defeat other enemies.
  • In Crash Of The Titans, you use Aku Aku to "jack" the powerful titans and use them as People Puppets (while riding on them) to beat or jack even more powerful titans. You spend the entire game Body Surfing.
  • The Puppet Master of Newerth (from Heroesof Newerth) has one of skills do this; Puppet Show. He makes the target automatically attack a new target, friend or foe. Suffice to say, several of his in-game quotes reflect his line of work.
  • Mass EffectASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL
    • The novel, Mass Effect: Retribution, goes into even greater terrifying detail about this. Not only do the Reapers assume direct control over you, but they don't particularly care about the harm/damage done to you outside of what suits their purposes. If they need your body to overtax itself in order to perform a task, they'll do it. Even when they're forced to release control and recharge themselves, they can still force it to release hormones and endorphins into your brain in order to control your mood and prevent you from killing yourself or put you to sleep until they've recovered. And even if you're aware of this entire process, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.
  • The final boss of Skies of Arcadia pulls this out as one of his special moves, strings and all, and forces one of your party members to use their Limit Break on another party member.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, the Jockey has the ability to ride Survivors, forcing them to run in any direction he guides them. The Survivor can resist a little, but is too panicked to throw the Jockey or drop to the ground.
  • Ghost Master has the power 'dance macabre' which forces victims to dance around.
  • In The Last Remnant, when your union becomes Enthralled, they fall into the enemy's control, complete with puppet strings.
  • The Guru of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is capable of mind-controlling Mooks by hopping onto their backs. He uses this primarily to make them ram into obstacles.
  • Mudou, one of the commanders of Ruin in Duel Savior Destiny, has the ability to control people regardless of their will or strength. However, it apparently takes a significant amount of time to set up and can be broken under certain special conditions, which should hardly come as a surprise.
  • E.Ψ.Ǝ.: Divine Cybermancy allows players to remotely hack the cyberbrains of human and mechanical enemies, turning them over to his side. Alternatively, the player can directly control an enemy by hacking them, allowing them to order the enemy mook around, and telling them who to shoot. When the controlled mook dies, the camera goes back towards the player's body.
  • Jill in Resident Evil 5 has become the victim of this by Wesker for the duration of the game.

    Web Animation 
  • In the World of the Damned story arc of Banana-nana-Ninja!, Seppuku enters his opponent's bloodstream and plugs his communicator into a tangle of neurons to amplify his signal and send a distress call. The hapless opponent embarrasses herself by speaking the radio transmissions out loud.
  • Church does this a couple of times after becoming a ghost in Red vs. Blue, but not maliciously, just when he really needs a body. The people he possesses typically don't remember anything that happened, though. Epsilon does not seem to have inherited this ability. (In contrast, O'Malley's victims tend to retain some elements of free will.) Arguably the Meta is like this by the end, either because of Sigma having control over him, or simply having so many AIs shouting in his head at once.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Sailor Nothing: Dark General Argon turns the Alpha Bitch, Ami, into an actual marionette. She survives, but her sanity doesn't.
  • A somewhat disturbing example comes from deviantART, in the animation Puppet.
  • In The finale of There Will Be Brawl, Ness and Lucas do this to Princess Peach's days dead corpse. Holy crap.
    • Wait, what?!?
      • It's a reference to the concept of "Trophies" in the Smashverse. It gets worse: Bloodily Worse.
  • The mutant codenamed Skinwalker in the Whateley Universe can do this to one person. He takes over the person's body, and that person watches helplessly as Skinwalker does whatever he wants.
  • Given a few hours of effort, Regent from Worm can 'learn' a person's nervous system and assume direct control of their entire body — including their powers if they have any. These victims are trapped, conscious and aware, in a body they can no longer control.
  • Gaea from Noob gets the power to control the avatar of another palyer from her faction for ten seconds. After she reaches level 100 the power expands to thirty second for allied avatars and ten seconds for those of other factions. This gives her Manipulative Bastard qualifier a whole new meaning.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible, episode "Ill Suited". Professor Dementor uses a remote control device to seize control of Kim's superpowered battlesuit. Unfortunately, Ron had stolen it from her closet to make himself a football hero. This leads directly into Kim and Ron's first fight, a room-destroying brawl that Ron is helpless to stop. Later Dementor gets a taste of his own medicine, leading to the quote above.
  • Combined with Of Corpse He's Alive in one episode of The Simpsons in which Homer and Mr. Smithers believe Mr. Burns to be dead and use him as a puppet to fool a shareholders meeting. Luckily, the scheme has the inadvertent effect of restarting Mr. Burns' heart.
  • In Batman Beyond, a one-off Ghost in the Machine villain downloaded itself into Terry's Batsuit, causing a variation of this.
  • In Teen Titans, the battle suit Slade gave Terra was designed to do just this. It never occurred to her that he might take total control should she ever realize he was a Bad Boss. She manages to override it and finish him off (for the moment) - apparently, Heroic Willpower applies to the more sympathetic of two villains.
  • In Shrek Forever After, the Pied Piper can force many different creatures to dance by playing his magical flute.
  • Denoted as "Bloodbending", Waterbenders in Avatar: The Last Airbender are able to control the water in people's bodies under a full moon. This is considered taboo, if not completely wrong and unnatural, and not even thought of by most waterbenders—it was invented by Hama when she was that desperate to escape her prison and take revenge on the Fire Nation.
    • It's back in The Legend of Korra, as it turns out bloodbending has beenmade public knowledge as well as outlawed, partially thanks to Katara's efforts. It's also shown that it's capable of rendering someone unconscious or even killing them by attacking the victim's internal organs. Terrifyingly enough, Senator Tarrlok can do it without there even being a full moon. Even more so, Noatak aka Amon, Tarrlok's older brother, can use it to take away bending altogether. And Yakone, the father of both Tarrlok and Noatak, was so good at this that he could bloodbend an entire courtroom without even moving his hands.
  • The Headmaster units in Transformers Animated do this to robots (including Transformers), but it has to cut the head off first.
    • Whereas Dirt Boss, the Decepticon made by the Allspark out of the Headmaster unit and a forklift, can take control by shooting a drill bit out of his forehead and into someone else's. He only has one though, so he has to retrieve it each time it's used.
  • In his first appearance, Plankton goes into SpongeBob SquarePants's head and installs controls directly into his brain, so that he can literally drive him into stealing a Krabby Patty.
  • In Danny Phantom, good guy Tucker does this with baddie Skulker, using his computer skills to hack into his robotic suit and basically make an ass out of himself.
  • Aladdin's Big Bad Jafar plays with this trope. "If you won't bow before a sultan, then you will cower before a sorcerer!" And, well, they do. Of course, Jafar had always seen the sultan as a "puppet king," so he just took the chance to make that literal and ran with it. Including giving him actual marionette strings.
  • This occurs literally in The Venture Bros., when The Monarch attaches strings to Dr. Venture's arms and legs and controls him with a giant robotic hand extending from his flying cocoon.
  • ReBoot has this happen when Mouse literally hacked Enzo's brain and gave control of the body to Megabyte. Another episode has Megabyte infect a Humongous Mecha Dot was using with similar results.
  • Appears twice in Fantastic Four Worlds Greatesr Heroes ("Puppet Master" and "Strings"), courtesy of supervillain Puppet Master and his radioactive clay.
  • Futurama gives us a variation of this: One of the professors judging Amy Wong's thesis defense is actually not a person at all, but a marionette being controlled by an evil extraterrestrial cat.
  • In one episode of Invader Zim, Zim shrinks himself and flies around inside of Dib's body, where Zim makes use of the arm control nerve in Dib's belly.
    Dib: But humans don't have arm control nerves!
    Zim: Do not question me! I control your arms!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: in "Green Isn't Your Color", it's revealed that, if she wants to, Twilight Sparkle has the power to take total control of a given pony's body, as she demonstrates on Fluttershy. This is largely Played for Laughs (not least because Fluttershy volunteered), but it leaves some downright creepy implications.
  • A rather nasty example occurs in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, in which the corpse of a clone trooper in poorly-lit cargo bay is used as a puppet by a large spider-like droid in order to trick the rest of the squad.note 
  • Motorcity: While its citizens initially believe that the KaneCo Safe-T suits are for protection, they actually become controlled by Kane in his attempts to find one of the Burners (his daughter Julie).
  • Dan does this to an unconscious Chris in "Dan Vs. the Animal Shelter" in order to use his credit card to buy explosives.
  • Sakko does this to Jinmay in the first episode of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! when Chiro successfully brings her back from his mind control to the point that he takes control of her arm to get a hold of him.
    Jinmay: I... I can't stop my arm!
    Sakko: Because I control it.


Hydra ProblemAntagonist AbilitiesSelf-Duplication
The Peeping TomVillainsPerky Female Minion
Pent Up Power PerilAdded Alliterative AppealPercussive Pickpocket
The MockbusterImageSource/Animated FilmsToy Story
Marionette MasterMagic and PowersMass Super-Empowering Event

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