Maybe this wouldn't have happened if you had the decency to spy on him when he was fully clothed.
"Do you have anything you wish to say to me," he asked the air, "or shall I simply strike you blind where you sit?"
It's a pretty well established fact that the Invisible Jerkass is a Jerk Ass
. Being able to see and do things without ever possibly being detected, much less identified, gives one a dangerous sense of omnipotence
. The same is true for psychics or magicians who can use a Crystal Ball
, Astral Projection
, precognition, empathy
to snoop where even the CIA can't
... and with no possibility of detection!
They'll gather even private information with impunity, because really, what is a Muggle going to do stop him or her?
Give them a Poke In The Third Eye
Turns out the "undetectable" Sinister Surveillance
the Mad Scientist
cooked up ain't so undetectable. Somehow the subject can detect Being Watched
and does not
take kindly to it. The voyeur will slowly be creeped out when the subject does not break eye contact with them despite supposedly being invisible, kilometers away, or centuries in the future
, only to follow it up by somehow overloading the system
, killing the Animal Eye Spy
, or jamming the transmission. If the viewing method is mystical or psychic (or sufficiently advanced cyber implants
), it can get painful for the voyeur.
The reason is that the subject has a rather painfully full bag of counter-surveillance techniques. Mystical and psychic voyeurs will be hit with the equivalent of a Brown Note beamed directly into their brain
(or Crown Chakra, whichever). If that doesn't make the voyeur go comatose
, it will likely at least make them faint
. Especially sadistic
mental traps will use Things Man Was Not Meant to Know
in place of a Brown Note
... because people with Power Born of Madness enjoy making oracles go mad
Another frequent trap, usually employed by powerful villains on foolish good guys who attempt to scry their foes, is to overwhelm
the seer and use Mind Control
mess with them. This is a favorite ploy of Sealed Evil in a Can
A possible subversion would be to not really know you are being spied on, but are spied on enough that you get suspicious
and then proceed to use a defensive technique, or just stab randomly at the weak plaster walls, whichever comes first.
When the 'third eye' belongs to the audience
, the 'fourth wall
' is being broken
See also I Sense a Disturbance in the Force
, Psychic Static
and Psychic Block Defense
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Anime & Manga
- While he knew the person knew he was there, Natsu of Fairy Tail was able to overwhelm Cobra's ability to "hear" his thought by basically thinking really loud. Despite Natsu's claims, he did this completely by accident (otherwise Cobra would have literally heard it coming).
- Nana in Elfen Lied can temporarily block other dicloniuses' vector usage with a literal Poke in the Third Eye.
- In Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure, Dio can tell whenever Joseph is using his Hermit Purple ability to observe him, though only on one occasion does he actually bother responding when it happens.
- Darker than Black the "observatory" uses observer apparitions produced by catathonic mediums and invisible for anyone except other mediums and Contractors, to spy around. And then they ran into one Contractor who can catch these.
- In an episode of Nightraid 1931, the protagonists face another super-powered individual who in addition to several other powers, can read minds. He's defeated by the telepath of the group falsely broadcasting a message that another's powers have run out, which he doesn't realize was a lie, since his powers don't allow him to separate unconscious thoughts to truthful sounding ones deliberately broadcast.
- Kotoura-san plays it both for drama and comedy.
- This was exploited with much glee by Hiyori in episode 2, to the point that the local telepath Haruka vomited.
- Daichi does this as well, with...better intentions, in Episode 3. He feeds Kotoura images of her strapped to a table and him ready to dissect her, thinking that neither Manabe or Yuriko will be coming...30 seconds before they arrive with lunch and Kotoura realizes he was teasing her.
- Manabe also regularly does a much milder form of this to Haruka. He readily admits that he'll sometimes fantasize about her (including imagining a bust upgrade) just to get a reaction out of her - it's just a form of playful teasing to him. He even internally notes that fantasizing about her isn't as fun if she can't react, such as when she was briefly Brought Down to Normal due to a cold.
- Harry's attempts to hack Melfina in Outlaw Star. They aren't successful once Melfina starts fighting back.
- In With Strings Attached, the Raleka wizards cover the entire dead city of Ehndris with Psion Protections. The moment Ringo tries to scry anything there, he screams and falls over, having had the equivalent of a knife in his thoughts. Worse, when the four are forced to enter the city, Ringo endures constant crippling pain, leaving him unable to do anything except stumble along holding his head.
- In Happy Families Are All Alike, Evangeline tries to look into Naruto's mind. The Kyuubi... objects. Or eagerly embraced the opportunity to hurt someone.
- In Dragon Ball Abridged, when King Kai attempts to telepathically talk to Mr. Popo, he falls over and his antennae explode. He then complains of a really nasty headache. Mr. Popo didn't even do this on purpose, apparently his mind is so evil and malevolent it will hurt you if you so much as touch it.
- On Fallout: Equestria, Pinkie Pie is able to have a decent conversation with LittlePip... Nevermind the later is watching her memories two hundred years after her death.
- In A Study in Magic, Sherlock Holmes does this accidentally to anyone who tries to read his mind. He thinks too fast for anyone else to follow. He later reveals that they're "slowing [[his]] thought process to an agonizing crawl". Yes, for Sherlock, thinking too fast for anyone to follow is slow.
- The Beast in Krull could detect hostile scrying attempts by the Emerald Seer and crushed his viewing emerald.
- Pretty much the whole point of Scanners. Trying to listen in on somebody's thoughts can be very dangerous.
- In the first X-Men movie, Mystique sabotages Cerebro to knock out Professor X next time he goes to use it. And an inversion: In X2: X-Men United, it's revealed that if the Professor ever concentrated TOO HARD on finding someone... THEIR head would explode!
- Déjŕ Vu: When first using the Snow White device to look into the past, Carlin is unnerved by Claire's apparent ability to sense that she's being watched from the future.
- The main characters of Inception thought that the tough part of the job would be working around established theories: Namely, they needed a way to enter a character's dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream, and once they figured out how to do so, the mission would be cakewalk. As it turns out, their target has trained his subconscious to attack dream-raiders, turning the mission into a desperate struggle for survival.
- The movie Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God, sequel to the first movie, has Damodar repel a scrying spell in a Nightmare-tastic way, complete with Large Ham Evil Gloating.
- Happens literally in The Beastmaster, when the hags scry on the heroes using the eye-symbol of an enchanted ring one is wearing. One of the heroes spots the ring opening and stabs it with a burning stick, which strikes the spying hag blind.
- Constantine. Constantine is using The Chair to magically spy on the Mexican man possessed by the Spear of Destiny. When the man realizes he's being spied on, he somehow grabs Constantine by the throat and tries to strangle him.
- Pacific Rim: Newt comes up with the idea to take the "neural drift" technology that allows Jaeger pilots to coordinate, and use it to link up with the still-living brain of a Kaiju. Good news - it works! Bad news - like all neural drifts, it's a two-way street, and the kaiju are a Hive Mind. Which means every kaiju now knows that Newt's tapped into their heads...
- There's a tale involving The Fair Folk where a house maid is taken into a faerie's household and given an ointment that allows her to perceive them; however, she must wash it off when her durance is completed, otherwise she'll pay a hefty price. Thing is, she only washes it off of one eye, and is therefore able to perceive the world of the fae. At least, until she goes to market and spots one of the faeries, who realizes that the house maid can see her and decides to enact this trope — literally.
- In Heroes, Matt and Mohinder have Molly use her power of Clairvoyance to locate Matt's father, Maury Parkman. In return, Maury uses his power to basically put Molly in a coma.
- Babylon 5:
- Lyta Alexander loves to do this. In one scene, she creeps out the rest of the cast by directly looking into the camera that they were using to watch her. When they switched cameras, so did she. In an another scene, Bester and other PSI cops are confronting her and she retaliates with telekinetically slapping them. Bester tries to call her bluff. She blusters and says that she really doesn't know what she's doing, and might "accidentally" kill someone by popping a blood vessel in their brain.
- The Shadows have their own anti-PSI defenses as well, almost catching Lyta when she was trying to spy on their home planet. At one point, she purposely sets this off...and the planet explodes.
- Also happens when Ivanova is connected to the Great Machine on Epsilon III in order to find other First Ones using the planet's advanced sensors. She happens upon the Shadows, who sense her and begin to do this. Thankfully, she's able to "avert her gaze".
- In the second season finale of Farscape, the Scorpius neural clone in Crichton's brain does this to Zhaan when she attempts to connect with his mind. After baiting her into it, no less.
Hello, Delvian. 10th-level Pa'u? Pity. 12th could break this bond. Time to pray.
- In the Supernatural episode "Lazarus Rising", Pamela attempts to find the being that raised Dean from Hell. Unfortunately for her, Castiel is an angel. Seeing his true form ends in Eye Scream for Pamela.
Castiel: It can be... overwhelming to humans.
- Stargate Atlantis has Teyla, who can enter Wraith minds, and as her powers increase, even control their bodies. The catch? It's a two-way connection with an inherently telepathic alien on the other end.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the First Evil briefly possesses Willow when she tries to scry it.
- An interesting case in The X-Files when person that kills people in their dreams appears with a third eye and consistently deals damage to his victims foreheads.
- In Star Trek: Voyager, Kes has numerous psychic abilities, most of which she doesn't understand how to control. One of these seems to be scrying, and it happened to activate at a very inopportune time — when Voyager encountered Species 8472 for the first time, a violent reaction followed that knocked her out.
Tabletop RP Gs
- Call of Cthulhu. The spell Create Scrying Window enchants a glass window to allow viewing of the past. If the window is used to observe a creature able to cast spells, the creature can cast a spell that takes effect on the viewer's side of the window (in the future).
- Early editions of Dungeons & Dragons.
- A creature being watched by a Crystal Ball had a chance to detect the observation. If a Dispel Magic spell was cast on the viewport, Crystal Ball is rendered non-functioning for an entire day.
- Any being that tried to use a Crystal Hypnosis Ball would have its mind influenced by the Ball's true owner. Probably inspired by the Lord of the Rings Palantír.
- Some D&D scrying spells has a chance of the scryer being detected (in earlier editions some also had the vulnerability that certain spells could affect a scrier... Which could be taken advantage of, for eg. Mind Control)
- "Live My Nightmare," a Spelltouched feat in Third Edition's Unearthed Arcana book of variant rules, allows a character who survived (or was revived from) a Phantasmal Killer spell to unleash a Phantasmal Killer attack born of their very worst nightmares upon anyone trying to pry into their mind by magic or other means.
- The purest form is the spell "Terminate Scrying", closing links with backlash which causes direct damage to curious spellcasters and explodes offending crystal balls, introduced in relatively obscure sourcebook College of Wizardry. After all, scrying spells seem to be safe when work properly, but they all use at least as much power as a fireball, usually more.
- Forgotten Realms novels popularized this practice. Though usually it happens when secondary functions (such as communication) are used. In The Making of a Mage an elf given an enemy spy's crystal ball claimed "Properly used, it can burn out one magelord's mind". Archmage of Menzoberranzan Gromph threatened those spying on him with blindness (see the page quote). It's rooted well enough that Counselors and Kings had a subversion: the wizard who fell for this ends up merely dazed instead of blindly flailing through his room, burned and bleeding from a dozen of shrapnel wounds.
- Mind-reading a Daelkyr from the Eberron campaign setting renders anyone doing so permanently insane.
- To preserve suspense in the Ravenloft D&D setting, the rules for surveillance-spells are modified so that they create a visible, ghostly eye (viewing spells) or ear (listening spells) at the location being spied upon. Anyone who takes the time to watch out for such manifestations can thus detect when they're being observed via magic.
- Mind-reading some of the nastier Ravenloft creatures (like darklords or abberations) or the insane can provoke a Madness check.
- The Remote View Trap psionic power shoots lightning back through scrying abilities, and there are several powers and class features that do nasty things to the users of Telepathy powers.
- There are several magic items and spells designed for people who enjoy their privacy. Some merely hinder attempts to scry on the wielder. Others alert the user to scrying spells used on him. Some make a stronger point by dealing significant damage to anyone scrying on the user. One in particular allows the user to express his displeasure more personally - by teleporting directly to the location of the voyeur.
- In a Shadowrun campaign, the wizard can leave his body to scout a source of dangerous magical energies. He finds the small and cozy house of a passionate cat owner. All the cats are staring at him.
- In Mage: The Awakening, if a mage is being scryed (or having any form of sympathetic magic cast at him) and is able to detect it, then he can cast spells back through the connection, even if he normally wouldn't be able to cast sympathetically.
- GURPS Magic contains a few spells that counter invasions of privacy, including magical ones.
- There is at least one seer in Baldur's Gate and its sequel who you can consult about your future and the seer will be noticed by someone in the vision.
- In Baldur's Gate 2, when the protagonist and the rest of his/her party reaches Spellhold, a resident Cowled Wizard takes the group on a brief tour, introducing them to Mages who have been driven mad through incautious use of their abilities. One Mage tried to scry beyond the known planes of the Forgotten Realms, only to be given a Poke in the Third Eye by whatever lives there. The Guide chillingly lampshades this, saying "Apparently whatever he saw didn't like him looking".
- A seer in Trademeet will offer to read you and your companions' fortunes. The companions' fortunes are fairly interesting and hint at their personal quests, possible epilogues, and in one case a betrayal. Trying to read your future traumatizes the poor woman so badly that she won't read anyone else's fortunes for the rest of the game. Of course, you are carrying a rather powerful piece of Murder god inside yourself.
- Played with slightly in the obscure game Falling Stars. When your party consults a seer in regards to the Big Bad, she starts rattling something off. The BBEG notices her probing and kills her from halfway across the world to keep her from saying too much.
- A major quest in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark is centered around the results of some queen trying to spy on an archmage. In this case, he poked her with a big enough stick to turn her entire city into a Bizarro World.
- In World of Warcraft, Cho'Gall does this to you.
- In the Chzo Mythos, the druid Cabadath attempts to summon a pain elemental, Chzo, to the world. Chzo, who has devoured every other pain elemental in existence, is more powerful than Cabadath expects when the portal is opened and is not amused by Cabadath's attempts to control him. Cabadath is dragged into the Realm of Magick and tortured to the point of becoming the Tall Man.
- The Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire pokedex entries for Xatu state that it is silent and unmoving because it is so horrified by its visions of the future.
- In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, one of the Fortune Teller sisters in Harapa offers you a free reading, only to have a vision of you bringing disaster upon Weyard, after which she refuses to even look at you. Then you bring about the Grave Eclipse...
- The Grave Eclipse itself is such an assault on little Himi's clairvoyant/precognitive abilities that it puts her into a coma. Talking to some of the Yamatai NPCs while she's still out of it reveals that her similarly-gifted aunt, Lady Uzume, had the same situation after predicting the tidal wave that washed away Izumo— she was able to warn and evacuate her people, but fell into a coma and eventually died. You're able to save Himi by finding an artifact that controls her visions, and in return she joins you to put an end to the Eclipse.
- In the earlier Golden Sun games, there are some milder forms of the trope, mainly where it concerns other Adepts. In The Lost Age, trying to Mind Read Alex will result in him either telling you to cut it out without letting you know anything, or thinking a rebuff instead of any real thoughts. There's only one place in the entire game where you can actually mind-read him. When you first run into Karst, an attempt to Mind Read her has her smile at you and threaten you in her thoughts for attempting it.
- In the lost age, there's one woman who, rather than thinking it, snaps at you, out loud, for thinking she would hide anything from you. She is a good person, so her reaction is justified.
- In one cutscene in Vagrant Story, Romeo slaps Samantha across the face when he realises Ashley is scrying on her. When Ashley recovers from his vision, he has the same stream of blood flowing from his mouth Samantha had after taking the blow.
- In Sam & Max: Freelance Police episode 304, it's a very bad idea to try to read the mind or future of Charlie Ho-Tep.
- The spell Fate of Oedipus in Dominions 3 lets you burn out the eyes of whoever was foolish enough to cast Eyes of God to scry on the entire world.
- Scrying with weaker methods in provinces where an enemy astral mage is situated has a chance of the scyer's mind basically being snapped in half by the defending mage leaving him feebleminded and unable to use magic.
- In the webcomic Dominic Deegan, this happens occasionally. The first instance was when the title Seer scries upon a conspiracy of murderers with its own Seer. A "Seer Glyph" detonates his crystal ball, throws him back and alerts the target. Other times, it's a matter of one Seer peering at something or someone powerful enough to launch their own psychic attack at him.
- Normally, in Gunnerkrigg Court, blinker stone spying can't be detected by humans, but Renard/Reynardine warned Annie that it's not a good idea. Jack, notices her ethereal presence, although not enough to tell it was her specifically, and he didn't attack, but she's freaked out enough to pull the plug
- In Homestuck, part of a normal session of Sburb involves an Exile contacting one of the players from the future, and helping to guide their actions. However, Sollux has had bad experiences with people doing things in his mind, so he flips out and blows up the Exile's monitor with his Psychic Powers.
- Once Jade enters the Medium, Becsprite notices an exile is trying to talk to her. He protectively blows up the monitor.
- Randall Munroe, of xkcd fame, occasionally announces "I know you're listening" to empty rooms. It's not a direct attack, but it would surely freak out anyone who was actually listening.
- From Swedish graphic artist Jan Stenmark (known for taking old press adverts from the 1950s and '60s and providing them with new, often darkly humorous captions): "God is everywhere!" he argued stubbornly as he flailed wildly about in the room◊ [loosely translated by me].
- Apparently not so uncommon in the Whateley Universe. For example, even as a freshman fairly new to the school, ki mistress Chaka once tricked the infamous 'Don' Sebastiano into allowing himself to be found out trying to use his mind control on her by first closing her relevant chakra to stop his attempt and then distracting him enough that he completely forgot to drop the link as he would otherwise have — cue detention. Ironically, she didn't plan the second part. And Eldritch (nee range instructor Erik Mahren) is not just certifiably crazy, but has deliberately turned her mind into a kind of psychic 'minefield' for snooping telepaths to run into and experience some of the unpleasant parts of her former life as a marine firsthand...
- And Phase has now figured out a way to do this. She drove off the most powerful psychic on campus. By concentrating on a Britney Spears song until said psychic begged her to stop.
- Phase didn't actually drive the psychic off, as he automatically reads the minds of those present, even if he doesn't want to. Phase was told off for doing this to the poor guy.
- SCP-096 has a version of this— It knows when someone has seen its face, be it directly, in a photograph, through surveillance, or other recordings, regardless of whether they're aware they've seen it (save for artistic depictions). Any time someone sees its face, it pinpoints their exact location, hunts them down, and kills and [DATA EXPUNGED] them.
- Incident 096-1-a occurred when the offending target spotted SCP-096's face in a mountaineering photo he took in 199█. Said face was 4 pixels wide.
- Chakona Space has a very good example in Tales of the Folly ch. 7. Neal Foster burns Windsong's tail. Later, Quickdash threatens worse if Windsong doesn't get out of hir head.
- Happens so many times to J'onn J'onz in Justice League that he may as well not ever bother using his telepathy. In a bit of an inversion in JLU, Gorilla Grodd had placed telepathic safeguards in each member of the Legion of Doom that prevents them from having their minds read... unfortunately, the "safeguard" is shorting out the villains' synapses!
- Two simultaneous attempts by villains and heroes results in a Body Swap between Lex Luthor and The Flash. Hilarity Ensues.
- In one episode, he attempted to use his abilities to look across the world for Morgaine Le Faye. Being a powerful immortal sorceress, Morgaine didn't look kindly to the intrusion and overpowers him with her magic. The rest of the episode involved her tormenting him with images of restoring his family and homeworld in exchange for a powerful artifact.
- On the American Dragon Jake Long episode "Supernatural Tuesday" the ogre gladiator Maximinus has a helmet that allows him to hear his opponent's thoughts and thus counter his fighting moves; Jake bests him by having the sorceror Nigel pull the school alarm bell and overwhelming Maximinus with a blast of tween angst.
- In The Venture Bros. episode "The Doctor Is Sin", Doctor Orpheus attempts to probe the mind of Doctor Killinger, only to for it to backfire on him, causing him to suddenly faint and suffer an explosive nosebleed. It's left open-ended whether or not if Killinger is simply immune to psychic probing, or if Orpheus accidentally discovered something that even his mystical mind could not fathom.
- Done as a case of Mugging the Monster and then Bullying The Dragon to Miss Martian in Young Justice when psychic villain Psimon attempts to mentally assault her with her worst fears and insecurities. The end of the episodes usually had him knocked out or rendered temporarily catatonic.