You're only paranoid when you're wrong.John is driving people insane with his security precautions. He inspects every room, he nails every door, and the only people he lets near his family are people who've gone through a background check so extensive not even Mother Teresa could pass through clean, and even then it's at a distance. John is called paranoid, insane, a control freak, and a host of other names. There's just one problem. John is right. There is someone out to get John and his family and friends—and they are using all sorts of devious devices and schemes that would succeed...if the person enacting the security lockdown weren't doing his job. Sadly, only John, the opposing forces, and the audience know that the full-body frisking of the boyfriend is mandatory for survival. If this doesn't make John look crazy or paranoid, it might overlap with Crazy-Prepared. Also, if John is ever wrong, if he's paranoid enough, he will soon be right. See also Cassandra Truth and You Have to Believe Me. Sometimes overlaps with Omniscient Morality License. Contrast with The Complainer Is Always Wrong.
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- Death Note:
- L was spot on in his deductions and all of his seemingly paranoid schemes were completely justified.
- Light himself might qualify at times, but is more Crazy-Prepared.
- Amuro Ray, the protagonist of Mobile Suit Gundam, is ridiculously paranoid about everything. Bright's going to take the Gundam away, that new crewmember is a Zeon spy, the Neo Zeon fleet is a bunch of decoy balloons, etc. He's also never wrong since he's actually a Newtype, which means he has more or less psychic-level empathic abilities.
- In Seed Destiny Kira's faction got a lot of grief both in show and out for being antagonistic towards Zaft because they believed it's leader was out to get them and was plotting something despite him coming off as a benevolent ruler. They ended up being right on the money, when towards the end of the show he announces a radical new plan that would let him decide the course of everyone's lives in both space and Earth and thanks to way he waged the war none of the earth nations are in any shape to refuse because he got them to rely on Zaft aid, and the two nations that can refuse are in range of his recently captured space laser.
- Every member of Section 9 (except maybe Togusa) in Ghost in the Shell. Their job is to fight terrorism, organized crime, and corrupt politicians in a failed state. As the Major is also a chessmaster, she's always prepared for everything.
- Most of the Exorcists in D.Gray-Man are like this. Since Akuma look completely normal until they fill you full of bullets that dissolve you into a cloud of toxic dust, it's kind of understandable that they're a little on edge.
- Subverted in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. If it seems like people are trying to kill you, it's usually hallucinations. Regardless, becoming like this will only make things worse.
- In Durarara!!, Shizuo maintains that 99% of all the weird crap that goes down in Ikebukuro is completely and utterly Izaya's fault, whether it be a gang wars or hordes of knife-wielding zombies. Made-up-on-the-spot statistics aside, he's more or less right.
- The world of Pokémon may be okay with letting kids run around unsupervised, but, in Pokémon Special, Sir Berlitz hired a pair of bodyguards to accompany his daughter on her journey to Mt. Coronet. Good thing too, as she becomes the target of kidnapping and winds up in the battle against Team Galactic. Too bad due to a mishap she got a pair of aspiring comedians instead.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Misaki is a paranoid mind-reader who assumes everyone is out to get her, and refuses to trust Mikoto due to her being immune to her telepathy. While sometimes this proves to be overkill (such as the entirety of the School Festival arc, where Misaki won't even ask Mikoto for help in rescuing Mikoto's own clone, who Mikoto already risked her life to rescue multiple times), she's proven right more often than not, such as anything involving Kihara. However, while she claims not to trust anyone she can't mind-read, there is one exception: She trusts Touma, the protagonist of the series, almost to a fault. New Testament volume 11 goes into their backstory together involving pre-amnesia Touma which culminates him suffering a serious injury protecting her and no longer being able to remember her.
- In Naruto, Tobirama Senju is prejudiced against the Uchiha clan. While there are a few he holds in high regard, Tobirama still has a belief that they're inherently evil unless they proven themselves to him. His mistrust in Madara was still completely valid.
- In Dragon Ball Z, Gohan may be a Half-Saiyan, but Chi-Chi was not okay with Gohan leaving to go to Namek for two months. While Chi-Chi may be unreasonable sometimes, she was rightfully paranoid with Gohan going to a potentially dangerous planet and leaving her alone for two months (she had not seen him for a whole year) to revive Piccolo, the same guy who blasted a hole through Goku and killed her husband in the Saiyan arc. She displays this trope throughout the series when Gohan goes up against the Androids and Cell, fearing for Gohan's health and well-being when he's fighting bad guys.
- Homura of Puella Magi Madoka Magica can come off as this. She's distrustful of her fellow magical girls and refuses to share any in-depth information she has with them while constantly trying to keep one of them, Madoka, from forming a contract. This paranoia proves justified, as Homura is a time traveler constantly going back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong and in those times she did share her secrets with others they either did not believe her or it backfired horribly.
- When the heroes of part 3 of Jojos Bizarre Adventure arrive in Egypt, they stop at a cafe, but Joseph warns them that they're in the heart of enemy territory so they need to be careful about what they eat or drink in case of poison. To that end, he instructs the waiter to give them bottled cola, insists on taking the caps off themselves, and even picks three specific bottles that he wants. Unknown to Joseph, the waiter is an enemy Stand user who was, in fact, plotting to poison them with the drinks they ordered.
- Watchmen: Rorschach, though an Axe Crazy nut, plays a big part in uncovering the larger conspiracy that is unfolding around him. But in the end, he's wrong about why the Comedian was killed.
- Runaways. The Pride: the only thing they do more than work behind each others' backs to take the others' chances at Immortality is prepare counter measures for the others planning to take their spots. At least until their children find out.
- Batman tends to get called paranoid by people he works with when he whips out his fifth spare Batmobile or his tenth secret identity or even a whole spare split personality in case of brainwashing. The problem is, they wouldn't have known he had them if he didn't need them right now. So any level of paranoid preparation that Batman appears to have is justified. When you have no superpowers and are regularly involved in JLA-level superfights, and have several dozen of the most horrifying psychopaths in existence all viewing you as their personal embodiment of Nemesis, there is no such thing as "too paranoid".
- Batman constantly injects himself various poisons and toxins. Since a lot of his major villains use poisons and toxins (including Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and the Joker), building up resistance to them makes complete sense.
- Batman is often thought to have contingency plans in case he has to fight his various allies: for example, in the Dark Knight Returns, a 55-year-old Bats beats Superman with a mechanical warsuit, various gadgets, close-quarters-combat mastery, and a little help from Oliver Queen.
- Then there is pretty much the beginning of "No Man's Land" where despite the costs and no prior history of earthquakes (as Gotham is built over solid bedrock) Bruce instructed every Wayne owned building to survive a 9.0 earthquake. Sure enough a earthquake hits at 8.3 leveling every building aside from the ones owned by Wayne Enterprise. Too bad he forget about Wayne Manor and the Batcave.
- For Better or for Worse: the creator attempted to make Straw Feminist Therese seem like a bad person because she was suspicious of her husband's friendship with his ex from high school. Since said husband mooned over said ex constantly and they ended up getting married, Therese ended up falling into this trope.
- Saxon Kenchu in Candorville describes himself as this, but within two panels it's partially subverted, as he admits he's even more paranoid than a Dhampyr outcast needs to be. Lemont thinks he's Axe Crazy and delusional, which would be a full subversion—but he's completely sane, and the story he's telling is true.
- According to Spider Jerusalem, a paranoid is just someone in possession of all the facts. And in a world where bacteria-sized surveillance cameras fill the air and an Ax-Crazy President wants him dead, Spider's right.
- In the Archie comic issue "Golf Wars", Dilton gets suspicious of their twin competitors in a mini-golf tournament with cheating after they managed to get a hole-in-one with a windmill hole (which he cited was an extremely difficult hole to get through, especially on the first try). The others think that they are simply good golfers. However, he was actually spot on: The twins used remote controlled golf-balls with the controls disguised as watches, and decided to test out his theory to see whether it was applicable by developing a makeshift radio signal blocker, which it was applicable. However, afterwards, he learned that not only were they using remote controlled golf balls, but they in fact also paid off one of the judges to claim that they were getting hole-in-ones, although he was unable to warn his friends because Moose accidentially knocked him out when preparing to putt the ball. Eventually his friends (more specifically Jughead) caught on and realized that their "hole-in-ones" were very suspicious at the final hole after they retained their balls despite their supposed "hole-in-ones" (as the final hole does not allow the ball to come back), with Dilton regaining consciousness just in time to implicate them and the judge in question for cheating, resulting in their being permanently banned from the sport.
- Diabolik has Ginko, who, after the first stories taught him that Diabolik can do almost anything, started taking precautions worthy of Batman. Some people call him paranoid, only to learn that those precautions are barely enough. Point in case, the very first story: upon discovering Diabolik's empty car near a field with multiple scarecrows, Ginko shoots the scarecrows expecting Diabolik to fall out of one of them, but when it doesn't happen he leaves... At which point a pained Diabolik leaves the scarecrow he was in nursing the arm where Ginko shot him.
- Most evident in Diabolik's Treasure. After Diabolik had disappeared he continued taking his anti-Diabolik precautions, as he suspected the thief was lying low for some reason. Even his most devoted followers started calling him paranoid... While Diabolik continued faking being dead awaiting for the man who had stole his favourite treasure to feel safe enough and start selling it, allowing Diabolik to find him. Ginko's grin when that man is found killed by a knife and near the remains of two Diabolik-made masks is a silent 'told you so'...
- Diabolik himself is one (to a level that makes Batman seem overly trusting in comparison), and so is his lover and accomplice Eva Kant. They walks around with dozens of gadgets and tricks on their persons and car, have placed various devices to help escape on all the major roads and many of the minor ones, and Ginko still managed to catch them on multiple occasions. He never succeeded in keeping them in long enough to have Diabolik executed (even if sometimes Diabolik is walking to the guillotine when he escapes or is saved), but he still managed to catch them.
- The top of Diabolik's paranoia is found in Shameful Accusation, where Diabolik, using a chance occasion, hypnotically conditions Ginko into letting him go when told an activation phrase, in case Diabolik finds himself unable to escape a lone Ginko and Eva has already been captured, with the added bonus of getting rid of Ginko for good due the accusation being born by Diabolik and Eva being the only one who know why Ginko would let them go and say they weren't Diabolik and Eva. Given the situation's sheer improbability, Diabolik didn't expect to have to use this prepared trick soon... And said it out loud after having to use it in the very next caper. And it fails to get rid of Ginko for good: Ginko's replacement was smart enough to ask him for a few pointers and managed to catch Diabolik with his pants down, and found evidence of Diabolik's trick (who was so absurd that, when told, Ginko Face Palmed).
- In Death of the Family, funnily enough, the Bat-Family seems to be this about Joker knowing their identities, while Batman is not being paranoid enough about it!
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Deconstructed with Red Alert. He's incredibly paranoid, and frequently sees a psychologist, he's also right a lot of the time, he correctly guessed that Momus was a Decepticon, and he believed the the institute was messing with people's thoughts, in the present he investigated sounds which people thought were in his head and discovered Overlord on board. However, his paranoia is also his undoing, as the Momus and the institute incident came back to bite him, when the institute has him brainwashed to lead the investigation to take Momus down because of his snooping. When he finds Overlord, he's too paranoid to tell anyone about him fitting since the ship's captain is in on it, and tries to kill himself, leaving everyone unaware until the monster gets free and kills 4 people.
- In PS238, a Muggle named Cecil is convinced that something supernatural is happening with some of the kids at his school. His only mistake is thinking that they're aliens instead of superheroes (and even then, it was because someone purposefully misled him).
Ms. Kyle: ...[Tyler]'s only made one friend aboveground, and that child is a conspiracy nut.Spell Siryn: Yet the conspiracy he sees is real.Ms. Kyle: Okay, I'll give you that...
- Empowered: ThugBoy and his gang of minions-for-hire once specialised in secretly ripping off the supervillains who hired them. Then they tried to rip off the amoral, depraved, Pyro Maniac Willy Pete; he was the only survivor, with the catapult nightmares to show for it. When the now reformed Thugboy is brought in to help advise WP's capture, he warns them not to take the "goddamn fire elemental" lightly. They do.
- Loyalty Features Ninja!Spies. Everyone knows Sakura is a spy. She wonders why they don't kill her.
- The Odyssey Played with. To avoid possible sabotage by Jael, he not only sleeps in his friend Saery's closet, he also hires a sorcerer to impersonate him for the day prior to the duel.
- Embers: Zuko is commonly regarded as paranoid by the Gaang and other people he comes across, until they see more of what's going on and start hoping he's paranoid enough.
- In Fever Dreams when L notices Light acting just a little bit oddly he has special security cameras installed everywhere at taskforce HQ (passing off the mass installations as him just being his regular paranoid self and installing more normal security cameras for the hell of it). These special cameras are tracking eye movements in the off chance that Light is interacting with a presence that only he can see, such as a Shinigami. The cameras show that Light keeps focusing on what appears to be empty space on a regular basis and with this evidence L is able to prove that Light is either mentally ill or Kira.
- In Harry Potter Junior Inquisitor, when Harry notices that someone tried to break into his quarters, he thoroughly searches said quarters before attempting to contact Amelia Bones to let her know. Unfortunately for him, after failing to break in Moody waited outside and grabbed Harry when he left. Moody does note that Harry was much smarter than Albus gave him credit however.
- Harry from Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, being a rationalist, had always prepared for unexpected contingencies. When it becomes clear that there actually is something going on, he goes into full blown conspiracy theorist mode. It eventually reaches a point where he spends almost all of his time hidden under his invisibility cloak, even when talking to his friends. Of course Harry's paranoia is dwarfed by Alastor Moody's, who, like all characters in the story, has been upgraded drastically from canon. Even those precautions don't seem to be enough to protect them from the dark wizards.
- The only Genre Savvy quality Rei has, and keeps from the original Sailor Moon series, when she enters the Code Geass universe in the Code Mars Trilogy. Whenever she has suspicions about Zero being behind something she's often right, such driving the leader of the hotel jacking to suicide and blowing up the JLF boat to cripple Cornelia's forces.
- The Twilight Child: Rainbow Dash remains convinced for months that there is something up with "Midday Eclipse", a supposed disgraced accountant from Canterlot, and tries to prove it long after everypony else has stopped caring. When the truth finally comes out, Rainbow's only comment is to call herself an idiot, which might have something to do with the fact that Midday told her exactly who she was some weeks prior.
- Code Geass Cornelia of the Defection has Cornelia quickly figuring out Lelouch has some sort of hypnosis or mind control after noticing how many times someone doesn't remember doing something after interacting with Lelouch or Zero. Particularly damning is that she had recorded her first conversation with Lelouch and notices a section that she can't remember. Furthermore, upon realizing that Lelouch can only use Geass once per person, she orders him to Geass Euphemia to do something trivial so he doesn't accidentally Geass her later.
- "Shakedown Shenanigans": Downplayed. Taurik thinks Eleya's being paranoid by insisting that the Bajor be 100% operational before leaving dock, calling the fiasco at the start of Star Trek: Generations a very-large-number-to-one occurrence. Eleya's sort of right, but the Bajor technically didn't need to be the ship that responded to the distress call from the SS Azura. Eleya was just stressed and wanted to shoot something.
Films — Animated
- In Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, Alvin believes that the neighbor Mr. Talbot is a werewolf, but Dave and Simon (the latter playing along regardless) brush him off…though Simon very readily justifies this with a record he kept of everyone that Alvin thought was a werewolf, mummy, vampire, or she-wolf, which had practically everyone in town. But for once, it turns out that Alvin was right all along, considering that Talbot is the werewolf that bit poor Theodore and turned him into a were-munk.
- Disney's Robin Hood has this with Trigger the vulture, one of the Sheriff's lackeys. When a blind beggar comes up to the gallows where he and the Sheriff are, and he and the other vulture, Nutsy, start carelessly saying that they're going to hang Friar Tuck at dawn. Only Trigger is suspicious of him…which is justified, since the beggar is Robin is disguise. Early the next morning, an hour before dawn, Trigger continues ranting to the Sheriff about how he knows that there's going to be a jailbreak. The sheriff dismisses it as paranoia, even as Robin Hood and Little John infiltrate the grounds. He gets his vindication the hard way an hour later, when he tries to warn the Sheriff again, and it turns out to be Little John in disguise.
- In Recess: School's Out, TJ Dettwiler tries to tell everyone in town that there was suspicious activity going on at the school, yet his parents and the police never believed him, and his friends felt doubtful at what happened after stealing one of their crates and Prickly apparently leaving the school (It Makes Sense in Context). Turns out, TJ was actually very sound in his suspicions, as the school had actually been taken over by an extremist group led by the former Secretary of Education and former principal of Third Street Elementary, Phllium Benedict, that was trying to eliminate summer vacation.
- In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Stoick is completely right in claiming that Drago Bludvist is beyond reason and that he will turn his dragon army on Berk.
Films — Live-Action
- Rear Window (and its newer equivalent, Disturbia): guy stuck in house becomes increasingly convinced his neighbour is a murderer. Guess what?
- In the HBO movie Safe House, Patrick Stewart plays an old man who is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. He tells his caretaker that he used to be a
CIADIA agent and people are out to get him because He Knows Too Much, so he insists on elaborate security precautions bordering on the ridiculous. Until the end, it's unclear whether his paranoia is justified or if he's just a crazy old man. As it turns out, they really are out to get him.
- The Mel Gibson movie Conspiracy Theory features an obsessive-compulsive paranoid conspiracy theorist... who turns out to be mostly right, though he's more remembering than speculating.
- Bril in Enemy of the State. Understanding since he used to be a spook himself.
- Also lampshaded by the film's tagline: "It's not paranoia if they're really after you."
- Pick a character from Burn After Reading. Any character. Although they're frequently paranoid about the wrong things.
- The Thing (1982), by John Carpenter, features a shape-shifting alien capable of infecting and duplicating every living thing. The characters are right about not trusting each other, and try to come up with a way of figuring out who is the thing and who isn't, but generally are unable to do so until Nightmare Fuel time sets in.
- Though played straight for most of the film, it's horrifically subverted in the case of Clark. He seems to be the most likely candidate for being infected as he was alone with the initial Thing for quite some time, and doesn't have an alibi for most of the cases of sabotage that one or more infected has been behind. In the end, it's later proven that he wasn't one of the infected... after MacReady has already shot him through the skull. Childs makes sure to point out that MacReady screwed up royally in that respect. (Although, in fairness to MacReady, Clark did try to attack him.)
- Freeze Frame, a British film, where the main character films everything he does, 24/7/52, after been accused (but acquitted) of multiple murders. It finally allows him to prove himself innocent in the end. It stars Lee Evans (a comedian) in a serious role.
- Bryan Mills from Taken looks like a stock Overprotective Dad until his warnings turn out to be too true.
- Chance warns the others about being sent to the pound every chance he gets in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. Sure enough when they encounter the people searching for the lost girl, Chance is wary of them for this reason. Three guesses where the people drop them off, and the first two don't count.
- In Bowfinger, a movie star prone to paranoia is driven to even wilder hysteria when a small film crew shoots a dramatic movie starring him without his knowledge. His Scientology-like counselors fruitlessly try to calm him down until they discover the film crew and note "Well, I guess it's true; it's not paranoia when someone's really after you."
- In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Cameron doesn't want to leave his dad's prized Ferrari at a garage in the care of a sleazy-looking attendant. He does so only after some persuasion by Ferris. It turns out his worries were absolutely justified as the attendant and his friend take the car on a joyride only seconds after they leave, adding dozens of miles onto the car.
- The Game. The movie starring Michael Douglas, a billionaire who's grown bored and weary of his life...so he hires a company to help him play a little game, after being referred there by his brother.
- The President's Analyst, soon after taking the title job, worries for his own mental health when he thinks he's seeing Men In Black following him everywhere, and has a nightmare that his girlfriend is a spy. Turns out he's right on both counts.
- Strange Days reveals that the extreme misfortunes and frequent assassination attempts following the main characters around stems from a death squad operating within the LAPD designed to target undesirables, including a prominent rapper-slash-social activist who was recently assassinated. When one character dismisses this as paranoia, a Properly Paranoid one rebuts that "it's not a question of whether you're paranoid, it's whether you're paranoid enough." The other characters spend the rest of the movie in a state of deep paranoia about this. Except it's a complete lie; the rapper was shot by two trigger-happy cops who merely screwed up a traffic stop, most of the other events of the movie are the result of various other plans and gambits crashing into each other chaotically, and the Properly Paranoid character was in on it the whole time and made up the whole 'death squad' thing on the spot to distract from his own wrongdoings.
- In The Phantom Menace, the Jedi council is reluctant to take Anakin Skywalker on as an apprentice. They probably should have followed that instinct. On the other hand, it was also, in a way, their shutting him out that caused him to turn to the dark side.
- Marvin in the film adaption of RED believes he was being used in some secret government mind control project. It turned out that he actually was being fed LSD for decades. And that's just the beginning of the list. Literally EVERYTHING that Marvin becomes paranoid about is either true or becomes true over the course of the film.
- Bob Lee Swagger in Shooter. Religiously, obsessively protective of his guns, which turns out to be what clears his name when he is framed for an assassination. Taking the firing pins out of his rifles when he puts them away would be just as effective at preventing accidents or unauthorized use, but Bob goes the extra mile and replaces them with custom-modified pins that will not fire. The only reason for this would be to fool someone who was deliberately trying to frame him, and who would know to check the firing pin. Which means he planned for that exact scenario.
- In the Halloween series, others viewed a young Michael Myers as a disturbed boy. Loomis viewed him as a monster just waiting to strike. Guess who was right.
- In Galaxy Quest, when the crew of the NSEA Protector goes on a planet to search for beryllium spheres to repair the ship, one of the crew members, Guy, panics when he sees the planet's residents. Naturally, the crew dismisses this as paranoia because he once played a Red Shirt on the show who died in an episode before the first commercial. In a hilarious turn of events, Guy is proven right.
Guy: Sure, they're cute now, but in a second they're gonna get mean, and they're gonna get ugly somehow, and there's gonna be a million more of them.Guy: Did you guys ever watch the show?
- Sarah Connor from the Terminator films. She even gets institutionalized for this, but it turns out there really are killer robots from the future after her.
- In Transformers: Dark of the Moon movie, Jerry Wang is convinced that everything is a Decepticon. He is later killed by his computer, which then turns into the copy machine, and poses variously as a TV, stereo, and pink Bumblebee.
- Tremors: Though not a straight example, having an underground shelter with Wall of Weapons and ammo, supplies and a power generator in case of World War III served Burt Gummer well when his town got attacked by large subterranean carnivore reptiles.
Earl: Guess we don't get to make fun of Burt's lifestyle anymore.
- I Robot: Del Spooner (played by Will Smith) doesn't trust robots, believing that they are not as safe as the Three Laws Of Robotics are supposed to make them. He is therefore the only person in Chicago who doesn't get one of the new NS-5 model robots. When the NS-5s stage a Zeroth Law Rebellion, Spooner is naturally the only human capable of effectively fighting back. It was his Properly Paranoid and bigoted attitude that allowed Dr. Lanning to pull a Batman Gambit on him to save the day, kicked off by Dr. Lannings own death.
- Played with in The Departed. Mob boss Frank Costello and the police captain that is investigating him both assume that the other has planted a mole in their organization. They're both right. However, both miss out on catching the moles, and neither realize that each side has more than one mole at work.
- Yello Dyno of Tricky People apparently has a habit of patrolling the mall and accosting anyone he even suspects of being a "tricky person". The one time we see him doing this in action, he turns out to be right.
- The Tom Hanks black comedy The Burbs is all about this trope. Hanks' character is convinced by his friends that the creepy neighbors on their block are actually serial killers. They repeatedly try to find ways to expose them, but all they succeed in doing is to continue making fools of themselves. Then at the end the suspected neighbors confront Hanks, and it turns out his friends were 100% right.
- In 28 Days Later, after an attack by the Infected leaves Mark with an open wound and covered in blood, despite his protests that it's his blood, Selena says she can't take the risk and immediately hacks him to death with a machete. Since it takes only a single drop of blood to become infected and the person will turn in 30 seconds, Selena has a very good reason to be so paranoid.
- Naomi Harris has said that she believes the reason for this is because Selena had to kill her entire family after they got infected...including her younger brothers and sisters.
- Marty, the resident stoner of The Cabin in the Woods, is convinced that something strange is going on and that there are puppeteers running everything. His friends ignore him. At first. Later, when one of his friends admits that he was right, he says he wasn't. What he'd uncovered was much bigger.
Marty: We are not...who we are.
- In Saving Private Ryan, Reiben is against letting their prisoner "Steamboat Willie" walk free, in case he's picked up by the Germans and "thrown back into circulation." Which is not only what happens, but the ex-prisoner also fatally wounds Miller.
- The protagonist in Take Shelter sees himself as this when he begins digging up his backyard to expand their storm shelter. Everyone else thinks he's gone nuts.
- Basil from The World's End.
- In The Hobbit, Bard is the Only Sane Man who recognizes that Smaug could and would bring destruction to Lake Town, reminding them what had happened to Dale, but he is ignored out of common greed. Smaug flies off to destroy Lake Town at the end of the second film. Later on, he tries to place the last Black Arrow on the large crossbow in case Smaug does come, but is stopped by the Master.
- In Split Second, the Chief is initially wary of Stone being a paranoid menace, since he carries around a Hand Cannon and several other guns at all times. The very next scene involves him and the chief discovering that the heart of the killer's latest victim was delivered right to Stone's desk at the precinct.
Stone: Paranoid, huh?
- Patriot Games: Professor Jack Ryan is leaving work when he notices a young man idling nearby. The man casually walks away as he notices Ryan looking at him, but Ryan is clearly unnerved, even more so when he hears a car engine starting up. And with good reason—as he continues to walk down the street, the audience sees that both the car and the man are now following him. Luckily, Ryan quickly notices this too and is able to disarm the man—the woman driving the getaway car is unfortunately able to escape—and foil the attempt on his life—revenge for Ryan having foiled an assassination attempt made by these people several months earlier. The interesting subversion is that Ryan had been warned about the possibility of this by his CIA contacts—it's he who didn't want to believe that the group would go to such lengths to kill him.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: Every single one of Aunt Josephine's fears and phobias previously waved off as ridiculous by the children (including the stove bursting into flames, the fridge crushing one flat, and the door-knob exploding and a fragment getting in one's eye) come true after she disappears. Every. Single. One.
Violet: [as the door-knob is superheated, and about to shatter] No way.
- In Godzilla (2014), Joe Brody's obsession with his wife's death has left him more than a little nutty, but he was still right about the cover up.
- In X-Men, Senator Kelly is concerned about mutants that can enter the mind of others or walk through walls. As it turns out, Mystique has been impersonating his aide for a good long while.
- On multiple occasions in X-Men: First Class, Erik warns that the humans will turn against mutants; at the end of the movie he is proven right, as the United States and Soviet Union unite forces to launch an attack on the group of mutants who have just saved their lives and prevented World War III.
- Gavin from Disturbing Behavior, a seemingly drug-addled teen is convinced there is some kind of mind control conspiracy going on in Cradle Bay but is rebuked by Steve when he claims he is next. Not only is he 100% right, but they also get him.
- In Malinda Lo's Adaptation., most of Julian's conspiracy theories about aliens and Area51 turn out to be true.
- Robert Neville near the end of I Am Legend when meeting a human for the first time in a few years. He's also proven to be completely right, as it turns out she's actually one of the vampires.
- Everyone in Duumvirate has to balance this and being able to get things done. Too little paranoia, and you take a railgun through the chest. Too much, and your organization cannot get any new members because they might be spies.
- Harry Potter:
- Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody, to the point that he's notoriously suspected to be insane due to his tendency to see danger around every corner. And he's right. Moody has spent years working as an Auror, catching criminals and sending them to Azkaban, some of them getting out due to money or information and he's not going to let himself be caught off guard. Moody only drinks from his personal hip flask to avoid being easily poisoned, carefully inspects his food before eating it, is constantly on guard to defend himself at a moment's notice, and even has a magical eye that allows him to see in all directions and through things, including invisibility cloaks. Despite all this, the bad guys still catch him off guard.
- Harry Potter towards the end of the series. Specifically, he manages to guess correctly that Draco is a Death Eater despite the lack of concrete evidence.
- F'lar from the Dragonriders of Pern series. In the first book, he was the only one who believed in a 400-year-old threat that was soon approaching, and his many efforts to prepare for it were regarded as superstition and paranoia by the rest of the world. And then it happened, and surprise, the world wasn't ready for it.
- The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden approaches this, with good reason. In one book we learn it's contagious; his friend and sometime medic Waldo Butters puts on a bulletproof vest and grabs garlic and a cross as soon as he hears that Harry needs help. After all, you never know if that pretty girl asking for help is secretly a cultist being hunted by a sorcerer's ghost, or if that strikingly lovely Femme Fatale is actually the Winter Queen, or if that guy who looks like your resident paranormal consultant is actually a ghost wearing his face, or if those otherwise ordinary-looking humans are Red Court vampires...demon-possessed terrorists, body-jumping necromancers, life-sucking succubi, Navajo skinwalkers, and White Council Wardens can all look like perfectly ordinary humans in this setting.
Dresden: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face.
- Many of Thomas Pynchon's characters fall under this trope. Every single character in Gravitys Rainbow to some extent, but subverted in Slothrop, whose knowledge of many conspiracy theories leads him to create imaginary ones in his head, suspect everyone he knows and eventually lose his mind.
- Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp lives like this. It annoys his wife quite a bit. But that's not a problem anymore, since he slipped up with this just once...but that was enough to kill her.
- In Good Omens, many denizens of Hell tend to be this.
"Hastur was paranoid, which was simply a sensible and well-adjusted reaction to living in Hell, where they really were all out to get you."
- Shadwell repeatedly demonstrates this, though he's incorrect in his assumption that Aziraphale is a demon.
- Bean of the Enders Game series does this in Shadow Puppets and Shadow of the Hedgemon, to the point where it almost becomes funny. He writes cryptic, hidden-meaning-filled messages to allies, encodes them, then encrypts and password-protects the emails themselves. And then changes email address every few days, between migrations from city to city. He gets his closest friends to do this as well, and it turns out to be for good reason: the moment one of them tries flying under their own name, their plane is shot down.
- One example is when he and Petra are going their separate ways by taxi. Bean notices three taxis in line, but doesn't like the look of the first two drivers, and insists that Petra take the third one, whose driver wears a friendly smile. He takes one of the other two himself. Turns out that, yes, the drivers of the first two cabs were agents of his enemy, and try to kill him. The driver of the third cab was an agent as well, but of someone friendly to Bean and Petra, so she's taken to a safe place.
- In Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly:
- Errtu from R. A. Salvatore's novels is also viciously paranoid, believing that anything bad happening to him is evidence of some sort of conspiracy against him. Given that he's a balor living in the Abyss, he's not too far off the mark.
- Taken to an almost comical extreme in This Alien Shore by C.S. Friedman. The only people who're paranoid enough to pilot a spaceship into hyperspace and come back alive are functionally insane, and in our own dimension they require massive amounts of medication to do more than lie on the floor whimpering.
- The paper-thin James Bond parody Fission Chips (Agent 000005) from The Illuminatus! Trilogy is seen as a bit of a Bunny-Ears Lawyer by his superiors, with his obsession with BUGGER (Blowhard's Unreformed Gangsters, Goons, and Espionage Renegades) and gentleman spy antics. However, without knowing it, he's actually closer on The Illuminati's trail than anyone—including he himself—knows.
- Another Terry Pratchett example is in the Wizards from Discworld. Completely justified, as promotion among wizards means killing your predecessor. It's said (and paraphrased here) that when a wizard is sick of looking for deadly scorpions among his bedsheets, he's sick of life.
- A practice halted with the rise of Ridcully to Arch-Chancellor: he's proven to be impossible to kill and, as a result, the whole smoking-boots promotion scheme has ground to a halt, leaving the wizards more interested in a good meal than a good fireballing.
- Also lampshaded in Reaper Man with the position of Bursar, where the only person likely to want to kill him off was someone else who derived a quiet pleasure from columns of numbers, all neatly arranged. And people like that don't (usually) go for murder.
- Commander Vimes's paranoia increases with the price of the Assassins' Guild contracts on him...his paranoia is quite practical and minimally psychological. He often has a chat with failed would-be assassins as they work out where they went wrong and try to wriggle out of his near-fatal deathtraps. It doesn't help that he's a lifelong cop in the most cynicism-inducing city on the Disc. He enjoys it when someone tries to kill him...
- Then there's Rincewind, who reacts to good luck with terror, since he knows it just means the universe is saving up to be really nasty to him later on. He's a favorite of
Lady LuckThe Lady; there's a reason the inhabitants of the Disc mostly hope the gods will leave them well enough alone.
- Susan Sto-Helit fixes "monster under my bed" fears in children not by assuring them that there are no monsters but by giving them a big stick with which to clobber monsters in case they attack. "They didn't need to believe in monsters...but they could be made to believe in the poker."
- Kanayama no Hachirozaemon from the late 16th/early 17th century Japanese short story Akimichi. Letting down his guard with Kitamuki is what gets him killed in the end.
- Lawrence Watt-Evans wrote a fantasy short-short story titled "Paranoid Fantasy #1", whose protagonist proves to be an example of this trope.
- In the first book of the Safehold series Zhaspar Clyntahn, Grand Inquisitor of the corrupt Church of God Awaiting (which should tell you all you need to know), convinces his fellow church leaders to launch an attack on the kingdom of Charis out of a paranoid delusion that the innovative nation is out to subvert the church's will. Though, as Charisian Archbishop Maikel Staynair lampshades, Clyntahn is actually correct about this, as this is the goal of the Brotherhood of St. Zherneau's.
- The Brotherhood of St. Zhernaeu's themselves can also be considered this. Given that they're the only known holders of the true origins of Safehold's people in a world that's been raised to view high technology as either evil or the powers of the Archangels, the Brethren are frequently remarked to be "insanely" cautious about who they'll authorize to be let into the Inner Circle. But as much as the protagonists gripe about it, not once is their caution said to be unwarranted.
- In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian starts out improperly paranoid about his portrait. But he becomes very Properly Paranoid indeed the moment that James Vane shows up.
- In the Weatherlight Saga of the Magic: The Gathering novels, the powerful planeswalker Urza plots for a millennium to defend against invasion by the Phyrexians. He's definitely crazy, and everyone assumes he's just being paranoid. But when the Phyrexians show up by the million and start killing people, he's the one who leads the (barely) successful salvation of the world.
- In The Millennium Trilogy, Lisbeth is bitter to extreme; she claims there was a government conspiracy which suppressed the events of her father accident and discredited her to keep people from taking her seriously. As a result she refuses to co-operate with anyone in the medical profession. Many think she was over reacting or actually is crazy, but she's right.
- Jack Parlabane from a number of books by Christopher Brookmyre. As he points out to his fiancée shortly after an attempt on their lives in Country of the Blind when she reproaches him for hiding a gun in the house: "Well, funnily enough, I had this outrageous idea that it might come in useful if someone happened to break in and attempt to murder us."
- In the Vernor Vinge novel A Deepness in the Sky, Sherkaner Underhill thinks that aliens from outer space are influencing world politics by altering information as it flows through the internet. To combat this, he sets up an intelligence division that consists only of his immediate family and who only communicate to each other in person, and pretends to go senile so nobody takes him seriously.
- The Zombie Survival Guide points out that being Crazy-Prepared to the point of paranoia isn't a bad thing in the midst of an actual Zombie Apocalypse. To quote the book, "It's one thing to believe that everyone is out to get you. Quite another when it's actually true."
- Given the love of assassination and other intrigue in Dune, it's no surprise that one of the first words of Gurney is a reminder to never sit with your back to a door.
- A Peep officer in Honor Harrington: Echoes of Honor deduces that the prison planet of Hades has suffered a prisoner revolt and been taken over by its prisoners. The Hades facility is one of the most secure prison facilities in existence, it is located on a planet whose local flora and fauna can not be eaten by humans, whose animals are large and vicious and do not know that they can not digest humans, the management and control facilities are separated from the prisoners by an ocean, there is no technology above muscle-power available to the prisoners, and the prison officers have access to orbital weaponry equal to a squadron of superdreadnoughts. He deduces this revolt because the latest courier dispatch does not include a chess move from Warden Tresca. He is absolutely correct.
- Bodyguards, most notably Honor's armsmen, are always paranoid and frequently right. In Field of Dishonor, Honor's head armsman is uncomfortable when she changes her plans and decides to go to a restaurant, though he doesn't really think anything will happen. Halfway through the meal, half a dozen thugs come through the door and start shooting.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events is all about this, seeing as Olaf is the Baudelaires' Implacable Man. As Klaus put it regularly for the adults: "We see him everywhere because he is everywhere."
- In addition, one of their foster relatives was an extremely paranoid woman who avoids using various things because of various grave safety hazards that would only occur in ridiculously specific scenarios. Let's just say that after a storm that virtually destroyed her house shortly after she was kidnapped by Olaf, her paranoia about these things is perfectly justified...at least in the film version.
- The novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is the source of this famous quote:
"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you."
- In When the Tripods Came, the party finds that Switzerland is becoming this because of the Tripods.
- Most of the Animorphs books mention this to some degree, but the first book from Marco's perspective addresses it best.
Marco: I live in a paranoid world. But just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean I don't have enemies. I have real enemies. Enemies that would freeze your blood if you only knew.
- In The Mortal Instruments, Alec, after finding out a bit of Magnus's romantic past, is shocked by how many people and the kinds of people (namely the various species and genders) his boyfriend has been with. Needless to say, he becomes a bit paranoid about it. Later that day, they are at a party with a group of their friends and Magnus mentions to a werewolf boy they had just met that he once knew the werewolf that founded the organization the boy was part of. Alec, who had been quietly sulking until this point coldly asks, "Did you sleep with him, too?" This comes off sounding like an overreaction and paranoia about someone casually mentioned as an icebreaker. That is, until you read Clockwork Prince, where it is revealed that Magnus was indeed involved with him at some point. The author stated that she did this to show that Alec had a right to be paranoid about Magnus's romantic past.
- In Death: Alice Lingstrom from Ceremony In Death turns out to be a combination of this and just paranoid. She had been gang-raped by a Satanic cult, as well as witnessing the leaders murder a young boy in a sacrifice. Even though she left, the cult continues to harass her. She thinks one of the leaders is a shapeshifter, which is certainly not true. The cult also sent her threatening phone messages, which would certainly be cause for concern. In the end, she panics when she sees one of their illusions and runs out onto the road...right in front of an incoming car. What a brutal Kill the Cutie moment!
- The professor who narrates the chapter "In a network of lines that enlace" in If On A Winters Night A Traveler. Notably, even he thinks he's being way too paranoid until the very end.
- Sherlock Holmes is careful to check any packages he might receive in the mail, which turns out to be a very wise decision when Culverton Smith sends him a spring box in an attempt to infect him with a deadly disease.
- In Circle of Magic, Dedicate Crane and a phalanx of assistants are trying to figure out a cure to the plague that's ravaging their hometown. To do this, they have to work with samples of the disease itself, and do multiple repetitive tasks over and over again, for hours on end, without ever making a mistake in their recordings or spilling anything; to make it worse, Crane is constantly watching everyone, demanding they be cautious and shouting at anyone who makes the slightest slip-up. It would be easy to dismiss Crane as a sadistic Drill Sergeant Nasty, except for the part where one of these assistants does make a mistake, and, because of it, Rosethorn nearly dies from catching the disease. The moral of the story is that medical and sanitation measures are very Serious Business.
- In the historical novel Wings of Dawn: If Lord Hawkwood would just stop going through the I Know You Know I Know routine, he and Thomas could've joined forces and solved each others' problems a lot sooner. It doesn't hurt to be cautious when you're the only person you can trust to keep the Dark Ages from lasting indefinitely, though.
- ARM, earth's State Sec in Larry Niven's Known Space universe prefer to employ paranoid schizophrenics. They're implied to be responsible for the ease at which humanity's "unarmed" starships before the Man-Kzin wars became weapons.
- By the tail end of Galaxy of Fear, Zak Arranda has understandably become wary and convinced of the danger in situations that appear safe. His sister feels less so, just because she's Force-Sensitive and is usually warned. In a contrast from the early books, it becomes Tash who wants to take some pleasure in wherever they are now, and Zak who is wary and anxious. Who's right is up in the air—Tash is perfectly ready to accept that strange things are real and isn't careless of her brother's fears.
- From Mercedes Lackey's Firebird, both Ilya (apropos his brothers) and the Katschei (apropos everyone)..
- Owen from the Deathstalker series has an emergency yacht, that only he knows about, stashed away and it comes in handy when he and Hazel are on the run.
"Paranoia doesn't just run in my Family, it gallops. Part of the territory that comes with being a Lord."
- Jerusha PalaThion, the Hegemony's police commander on Tiamat in The Snow Queen Series, is convinced that the eponymous character is targeting her personally, in an effort to break her. At times, PalaThion almost manages to convince herself she's being irrational, as she can see no reason Arienrhod would do such a thing. But Arienrhod has her reasons, and PalaThion is right.
- The title character from the story "The Vigilant Rabbit" from David Sedaris' Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk thinks that he's this. There's a deconstruction/subversion in that he keeps harmless but inquisitive animals out of the territory he's supposedly protecting—doing so on point of death or maiming—but doesn't figure on the real dangers that appear at the end.
- The Laundry seems like a mix of excessive Cold War paranoia and modern bureaucratic nonsense, including such things as paperclip audits, ostensibly to make sure employees aren't stealing the stationery. Except the Laundry is an occult intelligence agency in a world where the Cthulhu Mythos is true and magic is real. The paperclip audits? Because of the Laws of Sympathy and Contagion, paperclips from the same batch can be used to track one another, so an errant paperclip lost on the way home could be used to locate other top secret documents and give away secret locations.
- Thomas and Minho from The Maze Runner Trilogy are totally justified in being this, and it has saved their lives on a few occasions.
- A Mage's Power: For Kasile, no threat or conspiracy to her throne is too small or silly to ignore. She's positive that there's something brewing in the shadows and she's right but she fingers the wrong person. Her fears are exploited by Duke Selen Esrah in his Evil Plan for the throne. He uses her paranoia to paint the Ceihan Ambassador, and when she jumps into action, accuse her of being manipulated by someone else with designs for the throne.
- In Tamora Pierce's Trickster's Choice, Aly insists that Mequen keep a sword by his bedside — just in case the nobles visiting plan to assassinate him — ignoring his protests that doing so is rude and unnecessary. Mequen still dies in the ensuing battle, but Sarai is able to use the sword to save the rest of their family.
- In Lord of the Fading Lands, upon beginning to court Ellysetta, Rain insists that she keep a squadron of Fey soldiers near her at all times. Ellysetta — whose life was peaceful and completely ordinary just hours ago — protests, claiming that she can't possibly be in that much danger. And then the assassins start coming. And the evil mages. And her best friend, who is now Brainwashed and Crazy... Additionally, Rain's lifeforce is tied closely to Ellysetta's, so even if she didn't have people out for her blood, she would be still be hunted by Eld who wanted to off him.
- Gaelen refuses to abstain from wielding Azrahn, citing that it could mean the difference between Ellysetta's life or death. The other Fey despise him for this, but come the second book's finale the fact that he uses Azrahn and her attackers don't is the only thing that saves her life.
- King Dorian tests his closest advisers and family for mage marksnote , something his wife is deeply insulted by. Not all of them pass the test.
- The Hobbit: Bard is notorious among the Laketowners for predicting all kinds of disasters, like floods and poisoned fish. When the glow of the approaching dragon is seen in Laketown, the more naive townsfolk believe that the river is turning into gold, while Bard immediately assumes that the dragon is coming. He is mocked for it, but before long it turns out he was right, and the preparations urged by Bard allow the townspeople to put up a temporary defense.
- Angel: Wesley is never entirely at ease with a vampire boss, and is always preparing countermeasures against Angel's heel turn. His background as a former Watcher ensures this kind of thinking.
- Dexter: Doakes is this. He becomes obsessed with the idea that Dexter Morgan is hiding a deep dark secret. Of course, he is absolutely right.
- Heroes: Mr. Bennett has reason to be paranoid, what with working for a top-secret organization disguised as a paper company that captures superhumans and a superhuman daughter he wants to keep out of capture.
- Martha Logan from Season 5 of 24, whose conspiracy theories are disbelieved by everyone, even the audience initially. It's not a coincidence that she shares her first name with the below mentioned Martha Mitchell...
- Omar Hassan in season 8 gets steadily more paranoid after his own brother betrays him. This results in him arresting people on the barest of suspicions, up to and including his own head of security. The head of security turns out to, in fact, be in league with the terrorists.
- The Russian gangsters are said to be extremely paranoid. An example: they put Renee and Ziya in the trunk of a car and Jack follows them...only to find that the car he's following is a decoy, and the real one left five minutes later.
- When Jack Bauer and Cole Ortiz take Dana Walsh hostage since she has a file that reveals the the true masterminds behind the attack on Hassan, Dana is extremely reluctant to give it to them since she's convinced that Jack, who has recently lost Renee Walker and been betrayed by the President in relation to the attacks, just wants to be judge, jury, and executioner and kill those involved rather than actually bringing about justice, with her being the first target. Inverted that he does want expose the conspirators but she's also right that he primarily wants to murder them. Not that it does her any good, since Jack still kills her.
- Garibaldi on Babylon 5 is admittedly "paranoid and compulsive. Or compulsively paranoid." An occupation qualification for the chief of Security. And he is usually right.
- In the episode "Twice Shy" from the fourth season of Farscape, Aeryn and John are taking a break for a number of reasons. To keep his mind off her, Crichton is going through a lot of a drug Noranti made for him which deadens his emotions towards her for short periods of time. Even when she wants to get back together, though, he resists. When she pleads with him to tell her why, he says he's moved on...and in the face of her almost begging for more of an explanation, he has Pilot check the comms, which will result in them going offline for about thirty seconds. Suddenly Crichton goes from drugged-out Botox face to sober and desperate seriousness.
Crichton: Shut up and listen to me. Scorpius is here. Looking for the key to what's inside my head. The neural chip, the Aurora chair, threatening Earth, none of it works because he does not understand me. You're the key. My Achilles. You. If he figures that out, the world and all that's in it is nothing. He will use you, and the baby, and I will not be able to stop him.
Aeryn: So you think he's been using the comms? Look at what it's done to you. You're completely paranoid.
Scorpius: [over the comms] Pilot, are we having a problem with the comms?
[cue Aeryn's expression of dawning terror]
- Happens from time to time in episodes of The Twilight Zone. In one episode, an old woman has shut herself into a derelict house and refuses to let anyone in out of the fear that Death is trying to get her. In another episode, an old man makes a valiant effort to keep a grandfather clock working in the belief that if it stops, he will die. Both stories wind up being subverted: Death turns out to be a nice guy just who wants to help the old lady, and the old man decides that his belief about the clock is just a silly superstition that he can discard at will.
- Played for laughs in Father Ted where Ted is convinced that his rival Dick Byrne is spying on his plans for the "all-priests over 70 football" tournament. After tearing up every inch of the Parochial house to the dismay of Dougal and Mrs Doyle and not finding any bugs, they suddenly notice an ice cream van outside.
- Practically the entire cast of The X-Files displays this behavior at some point. Yes, the Conspiracy really is out to get them. So much so that everyone largely stops caring after a while. What Suzanne Modeski tells the Lone Gunmen could be the series' motto: "No matter how paranoid you are, you're not paranoid enough." This might however take paranoia to the point of kitsch.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Rose", Clive has spent years collecting information about the Doctor and building theories about him, most of which are right. Rose ignores his warning that death is the Doctor's constant companion. Within hours, aliens have attacked Rose and are killing people all over London, including Clive. Which just goes to show that spending too much time In Harm's Way is an good way to be mistaken for the cause of said Harm.
- Steven Moffat's job description is to make you, the viewer, Properly Paranoid.
- A second-season episode of Forever Knight starts out with a teen delivering groceries to the world champion of paranoia: barricaded in a house with the garden constantly lit up like Madison Square Garden, wild-eyed, unshaven, sweaty, clinging to his shotgun, very highly strung but, after the initial shock, almost a nice guy. When Mr. Paranoia steps out of doors in a fit of anger just once, he isn't outside for a minute before something nasty gets him.
- On The Invisible Man, Bobby Hobbes' paranoid delusions sometimes (not always) turn out to be right. To quote his partner Darien,
Darien: When you spend time around a guy who keeps yelling "the sky is falling", it's a real shocker when a piece of it actually hits you on the head.
- In the pilot, Hobbes notices a couple of Canadian tourists making out and points out to Darien that they're terrorists. Darien finds the idea of a "Canadian terrorist" hilarious...until they pull out submachineguns and start spraying everywhere.
- In season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy goes to college and gets a really annoying roommate: Kathy. Kathy listens to Céline Dion, insists on keeping track of whose milk is whose, and, worst of all, she irons her jeans. Buffy concludes that she's an evil demon from another dimension who's trying to eat Buffy's soul and decides to slay her. Cue all her friends running around trying to stop an obviously-possessed Buffy from killing an ordinary (if annoying) girl. Buffy is 100% right.
- But Kathy's evil spell WAS making Buffy act really wiggy and stressed, drastically undermining any attempts she made to rationally explain things. It wasn't until Giles noticed that Kathy's toenails did, in fact, keep growing after being cut (just as Buffy had been ranting about) that the gang believed her.
- An earlier example from the show would also be the episode where her mom dated Ted (played by John Ritter). Giles and her friends all like the charming, handsome, cookie-baking suitor. Buffy doesn't trust him and won't even try his delicious cookies. Eventually, she even gets into a scuffle with him and knocks him down some steps when he grabs her, apparently killing him. Much guilt and blame are thrown about, until Ted shows up again. Turns out, he's a psychotic robot who really does want to take her mom away (and who drugs those cookies to make everyone compliant and happy).
- JAG: In "War Cries", Gunnery Sergeant Granger, as the climax reveals.
- One episode of NCIS subverts this trope. It features an old war buddy of Special Agent Gibbs who seems paranoid that a secret Government Conspiracy group is out to kill him because he stumbled across their deep, dark secret. It starts to appear that he is telling the truth when Gibbs discovers that another war buddy is working with the first one. This war buddy died in Gibbs' arms, but now is supposedly alive and is confirming the first guy's suspicions. The subversion comes at the end, when it is revealed that the dead-then-not-dead war buddy was a figure of the first one's imagination, who is facing schizophrenia due to PTSD, and there really is no government group out to kill him: he concocted the idea as a coping mechanism to take his mind off the death of his friend.
- He's not entirely wrong. He had uncovered some corruption, but the conspiracy was nowhere near as big as his paranoia made it seem.
- Fornell also mentions, "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you."
- A better example would be Gibbs' Rule Forty:
Gibbs: Rule forty.Abby: "If you think someone is out to get you, they are."
- Tubbs and Edward from The League of Gentlemen are horrified and disgusted at the thought of "strangers" from outside the decent town and local shop. Their fears seem completely out of scale in the first series, but when you consider the likes of Pop, Herr Lipp, and, worst of all, Papa Lazarou...
- On Breaking Bad, Lydia refuses to give Walter the information he needs until she finds another way to make herself indispensable to him, for fear that, once he has the info, he'll kill her. Walter scoffs about how he would kill her in a public place in the middle of the day with witnesses everywhere, but that is, in fact, exactly what he was planning to do.
- In Malcolm in the Middle, Reese once claimed that one of his teachers was out to get him and was deliberately failing his tests. Lois told him to stop making excuses and work harder. She has Malcolm tutor Reese. Eventually, Reese composes a passable paper that is at least "C" level, only for that to get an "F" as well. Ultimately, since it seems that there is no way Reese can get a passing grade on his own, they decide to simply cheat and have Malcolm take one of his tests for him. That test gets an "F", and this clues everybody in to the fact Reese's teacher really is out to get him.
- Agent Ballard in Dollhouse; all his colleagues make fun of him for believing that there's some evil underground company called 'the Dollhouse' that's brainwashing people and selling them as perfect prostitutes, assassins, body-guards, etc. Eventually it turns out that he isn't quite paranoid enough.
- In the season 4 finale of Lost, off-island Sayid is this trope.
Sayid: I just killed a man who's been perched outside this facility for the last week. I'm finding paranoia keeps me alive.
- See◊? If he wasn't so paranoid, he and Hurley would both be dead. Well...deader, you know what I mean.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has more than a few characters that fit this trope.
- Weyoun 6 uses paranoia as a defense mechanism, since he's a defecting high-ranking member of the Dominion.
Odo: Aren't you being a little paranoid?Weyoun 6: Of course I'm paranoid; everyone's trying to kill me!
- Enabran Tain, head of the intelligence agency the Obsidian Order. When you're the first leader of the organization to live until retirement, then you weren't paranoid, just prepared. Everyone from that group would fit this trope. This is eventually subverted. Retirement dulled his instincts enough for him to eventually not be paranoid enough. Hindsight told him the warning signs were always there and, in the old days, he'd have paid attention long before it was too late.
- Garak also uses paranoia as a defense mechanism which also makes him Crazy-Prepared. In a light-hearted Series 6 scene, everyone tells him he's being paranoid to think Starfleet Security took advantage of his debrief with them to do something to him (the Obsidian Order did things like that). Series 7 reveals that Starfleet Security (specifically Section 31) did something to Odo when he was with Starfleet Medical to ensure his entire race could potentially be wiped out. So, a Played for Laughs scene suddenly becomes Harsher in Hindsight: Garak may not have been the target, but the instinct that told him the Federation is capable of anything in the name of security was dead right.
Garak: Paranoid is what you call people who imagine threats against their life. I have threats against my life.
- When your enemies are a race of shapeshifters, no amount of paranoia is too much. Except, that is, for the paranoia that you get from the one who's replaced your own leader.
- Weyoun 6 uses paranoia as a defense mechanism, since he's a defecting high-ranking member of the Dominion.
- On Necessary Roughness, a former mascot of the Hawks does not want to leave his house because he believes that people on the street will attack him due to the belief that he is the "curse" that kept the Hawks from the playoffs for five years. When his therapist takes him out for a stroll downtown, he is quickly recognized and verbally assaulted by some fans.
- In the 2nd episode of season 5 of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon becomes freaked out by the fact that Penny picked up a lazyboy from the garbage, and is constantly trying to convince her to remove it, only for her to ignore his statements and drive him away. The ending of the episode has Penny and Amy fleeing from the apartment after discovering that there is something living in the chair, and presumably disposing of the chair...only for Howard and Raj to pick it back up to the apartment, meaning that Sheldon had a very good reason to be paranoid about it being a health hazard.
- Even before the reveal, he was properly paranoid to distrust a chair that was randomly lying on the street.
- Stringer Bell, drug lord extraordinaire, on The Wire. By Season 3, he has his men using phones only to set up face to face meetings. These phones are disposable cell phones, which are bought individually from random convenience stores up to 200 miles away from Baltimore and which are thrown away and replaced every two weeks. Stringer himself does not use these phones. He has a different phone, on a different network, which only his Number Two has the number for (and which he never calls him on from one of the other disposables)—and that phone itself changes numbers on a regular basis, as he has a stockpile of hundreds of SIM cards, one of which he keeps for his "clean" legit business ventures and the rest of which he cycles through for his drug affairs. The detectives trying to bust him just have to sit back and marvel at it all.
- In Yes, Minister, Hacker is often convinced that the actions of anyone involved in government are part of some political plot. Probably because they almost always are.
"You'd be paranoid too if everyone was plotting against you."
- In Two and a Half Men, Charlie gets sick, and the local stalker Rose ends up taking care of him. After a while, he becomes suspicious that Rose may have convinced him he was sick somehow and was drugging him as some sort of plot to get him together with her. He also kept a cold pill upstairs without consuming it as proof, but it ended up eaten by Bertha (resulting in her being knocked out). Charlie was eventually proven to be right, although it was actually in such a way even he did not anticipate: Apparently the method Rose used to orchestrate his sickness was arranging a friend of hers to work while she had the cold and seduce Charlie so he'd get infected.
- Actually, anytime he assumes Rose has something to do with what is going on, to which others assume he is only paranoid, he always turns out to be right.
- In Smallville:
- In season eight, Jimmy thinks Davis wants him out of the picture so he could have his way with Chloe. The attraction is programmed into him by Brainiac for his own schemes. Davis is also the Doomsday.
- Lex's right-hand man Regan Matthews is suspicious of whether Tess is actually loyal to Lex. His suspicions are proven accurate when she turns on Lex as soon as she finds out that he's betrayed her. He tries to kill Tess for this. Unfortunately for him, she's better than he thought she was.
- Whitney was an unpleasant jerk about it but Clark was doing everything he could to steal his girl.
- Michael Westen on Burn Notice is ex-CIA, so he's trained to be slightly paranoid, and is vindicated repeatedly. Discussed at least once: Mike quotes Golda Meir's famous line that "even paranoids have enemies" (referring to the Villain of the Week). Sam's response?
Sam: You're living proof of that.
- Sam also qualifies, at least when all of them are on the run from the authorities after Michael kills his mentor. As soon as he hears from his girlfriend about some road work in the area, he immediately goes for his binoculars and spots one of the workers putting a finger to his ear, indicating he's wearing an earpiece.
- On an episode of Law & Order, the Church of Happyology, which surveils and keeps files on its critics, is proven to be right to be so paranoid about at least one of them: he really is out to get them, to the point that he murders his wife in order to frame them for the crime.
- Mr. Bean removes the steering wheel from his iconic mini to stop it from being stolen. He's right to do it.
- Homeland: CIA operative Carrie believes that Brody has been brainwashed by terrorists. At first, she may have been wrong, but by the next season she was right all along.
- Person of Interest: Alicia Corwin knows the Machine is watching her, knows at least some of the ways that it might be performing said monitoring, and may be aware that it can act to protect itself should it figure out that she wants to shut it down.
- In Stargate SG-1, there are numerous examples of this from the Genre Savvy protagonists, to the point where this trope is one of the reasons that Humanity has managed to remain standing. A good example of this in action is when something strange occurs within the base, the idea of locking the base down and beginning a systematic floor-by-floor sweep for invisible enemies is not considered outlandish. It's actually become standard procedure.
- There's also Martin Lloyd, who first contacts the SGC with claims about aliens and the stargate. When investigated, he's initially assumed to be just another conspiracy nut—to the point where he's so paranoid that he leaves a toothpick by his front door to check if anyone has been to his place while he was out. When asked how he gets in or out, he replies "through the window" with a "duh" expression. Except he says that holding a broken toothpick from when Sam and Daniel broke into his place. Additionally, he claims that people are out to get him for his knowledge, and the only person he can trust is his doctor... who turns out to be the one after him. Except the people after Martin aren't his enemies. All of them are the last survivors (actually, deserters) from a planet attacked by the Goa'uld. The drugs the "doctor" was giving Martin were suppressing his memories for his own good.
- Season 7 of Supernatural introduces Frank Devereaux, a conspiracy theorist who advises Sam and Dean on hiding from the Leviathans and steadily grows more paranoid with time—moving into an RV because he believed he was being watched, even believing that Gwyneth Paltrow is a Leviathan. Even though he takes every precaution imaginable, the Leviathans capture and kill him anyway.
- In the Masters of Horror'' episode "Pick Me Up", Marie's first thought about Walker and Wheeler is that they are serial killers. She's right. Ironically, both of them decide not to kill her...but leave her tied to a tree with barbed wire in the middle of nowhere instead.
- In Orphan Black Alison learns that someone is likely monitoring her behavior, and suspects that it's her husband, which it is. Unfortunately, unlike a lot of Properly Paranoid people, who believe things that sound outlandish but are rarely wrong and often have evidence for them, Alison really is paranoid and just happened to be correct in that one instance. The others convince her that she's wrong because she doesn't have anything to back it up beyond wild suspicions, and the truth doesn't come out until after she's let someone else die out of the similarly insubstantial, but this time incorrect, belief that she was the monitor.
- The Secret World of Alex Mack: Louie doesn't take it seriously when Ray told him not to discuss Alex's secret at a cell phone. That's how Danielle's spies learn the secret.
- Paranoid by Black Sabbath.
- "I Think I'm Paranoid" by Garbage.
- "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell.
- The last verse of Nirvana's "Territorial Pissings":
Just because you're paranoid
Don't mean they're not after you
- Hardanger Fiddle players can fit the trope, especially when they become obsessed with keeping their instruments at their absolute best. Consider that this instrument has eight or nine strings, and the effort of fine tuning can take several minutes. And then there is a number of other things to remember. A classical worst-case scenario is people fiddling inside the fiddle to adjust the small piece of wood between the outer walls. When they do this every time, they fit the trope perfectly, but they are also considered a bit on the pathological side. Somebody even made an evening prayer to prevent them from going down that path.
- Rocky Romero's message to the opponents of Forever Hooligans.
"Collecting titles, we beat legends. Paranoia all around when you're in our presence."
- In the series 2 finale of Undone, the protagonist takes a pill to make her paranoid enough to work out the plots and counter-plots surrounding her half-sister's wedding, just in time to stop them.
- Anyone who is not this in Warhammer 40,000 should be, because the entire universe REALLY IS out to get you.
- Commissar Ciaphas Cainnote , of his self-titled series, is a stunning endorsement of this trope, as the only reason he hasn't been killed hundreds of times is that he always suspects something more sinister lurking under the surface, and he is always correct. In his very first appearance even, the short story "Fight or Flight", he looks at a cult of Genestealers several star systems away and loss of communications with a nearby fleet and immediately thinks "incoming Tyranids", his preparations preventing the planet being eaten long enough for the fleet to arrive and kill all the bugs.
- As the name implies, this is completely justified in Paranoia. The skill High Alert / Focused Paranoia isn't about asking if there's a threat — there are loads of them all the time — but which one is most immediately relevant.
- Chaotic Evil creatures in Dungeons & Dragons — as well as anyone living close to them — usually are leery to the extreme.
- The Drow are justifiably paranoid about their enemies and as such tend to get killed by their friends. Conversely, if one spends too many time looking over the shoulder at one's allies... according to Drizzt Do'urden, "Those who watch their backs meet death from the front." Even technically Chaotic Good followers of Eilistraee tend to be very jumpy, as most of them are ex-Lolthites and know what to expect all too well. Any non-disguised Drow outside of their territory—above ground or below—usually are attacked on sight, without asking for their purpose or something, by almost anyone else not too busy running away, which usually is a Properly Paranoid reaction as well.
- Dispater, one of the Archdukes of Hell, is paranoid and cautious in the extreme. He never leaves his impenetrable fortress, has both halves of his court spying on each other, and even the way he fights is more defense then offense. The thing is, in Hell everyone is out to get you, (even Asmodeus has people plotting against him, but he is aware of every plot) so he's smart for doing all of that!
- A way of life (or perhaps the only way of life) for the Mages of Mage: The Awakening. Personal information can be used as an ingredient for more powerful spellcasting, so Mages take great pains to make sure that they leave no hairs anywhere, that their old clothing is either properly disposed of or burned, and that no one ever, under any circumstances, discovers their real name.
- Changelings, meanwhile, are refugees from the hellish domain of god-like entities. They're fully aware that their former captors can leave near-perfect imitations of the people they've taken, that they have agents operating on this side of Arcadia, and that — while mercurial — many of them would very much like to get their property back. Much of their society is based around institutional structures that effectively throw up cloud cover for the Gentry.
- Judging by the fluff thus far, demons operate like this as well. They're former agents of an all-encompassing occult superintelligence that plays with causality the way a child plays with blocks. They know their former boss has agents in all facets of the world, and that said agents are looking for defectors so that they can be reintegrated (forcefully, if necessary) back into the God-Machine. Also, they and all their kind have such perfect control over their emotions, they can tell lies that no supernatural power can discern as falsehoods. There's a reason most of their local institutions are modeled after spy rings.
- In Adeptus Evangelion (Think Neon Genesis Evangelion by the way of Dark Heresy). You can take Paranoia as a strength. Not a weakness, a strength.
- In Amber Diceless Roleplaying, this is used as an example of how the PCs have no chance whatsoever of defeating any of the NPCs from the original series. Benedict cannot See the Invisible, but his Implausible Fencing Powers are so well-honed that he can anticipate an attack by invisible people and kick their asses anyway.
- In the Illuminati card game, the Paranoids are one group you can control, and give you protection against all attacks except natural disasters.
- Ooohhh... powerful weapons, a save point and tons of ammo! Wait a minute... why would they give me all this?
- Also dubbed "goreshadowing," by Anthony and Ashly Burch of HAWP fame.
- For that matter, being Properly Paranoid is an important part of surviving many Nintendo Hard games, especially games that emphasize tactics and critical thinking over Leeroy Jenkins and Attack! Attack! Attack!.
- In both Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you will run into people frequently who will claim that the government and corporations are behind some plot to take over the world and to enslave the masses. Given the plot of both games, they aren't crazy at all...
- More specific examples are if you kill the gatekeeper or Joe Greene before being asked to. Characters will comment that you are becoming more like the Illuminati (paranoid), but will also comment that your method of thinking is correct.
- Bosco from Sam & Max: Freelance Police. (Obscuring the name doesn't make this much less of a spoiler, because he is SUCH a perfect example of this trope that I couldn't possibly be talking about anyone else.)
- In the 4th game of Season 1, "Abe Lincoln Must Die", you find that there is a homing beacon for ICBMs hidden in his store. Earlier on, he built a satellite missile defense system and if you try to launch a nuke at him this system will kick in and stop the missile. There's also a spy camera in his store.
- In season 2, it's revealed his mother has (inadvertently) had him under surveillance since before he was born... There's also a PI spying on him.
- In the 4th game of Season 1, "Abe Lincoln Must Die", you find that there is a homing beacon for ICBMs hidden in his store. Earlier on, he built a satellite missile defense system and if you try to launch a nuke at him this system will kick in and stop the missile. There's also a spy camera in his store.
- Tsugumi of Ever17 is convinced the entire disaster is some sort of setup. Obviously since it's on this page, she's right. Tsugumi and Sora's routes have Lieblich trying to cover up they just released Tief Blau onto the world by shutting in any survivors, and You and Sara's routes have the disaster being entirely a Gambit Roulette based on a real event that Tsugumi was involved in before.
- Played with in Eternal Darkness during Maximillian Roivas' chapter. He's right to believe that body-snatching Eldritch Abominations are out to get him; some of his servants are possessed, and he is forced to kill them. However, the encounter leads him to actual paranoia and insanity, and he comes to believe all his servants are monsters. One round of cold-blooded murders later, he is committed to an insane asylum.
- If this trope does not describe your mindset while playing and of the X-Com series, you'll soon find yourself thinking like that.
- While there is much confusion among the crew members, very few people realize that something has actually taken over the UNN Von Braun in System Shock 2. Security Chief Melanie Bronson, however, draws this conclusion despite the ridicule of her men. Delacroix also has her suspicions.
- In Mega Man X5, Lifesaver begins to suspect a connection between Zero and The Maverick Virus after Zero shows odd reactions to it. In the good ending, his theory leads to X and Zero fighting each other. The bad ending proves him right.
- Remember how, in Mega Man X4, Repliforce was labeled Maverick on a whim (Though they certainly didn't help their case)? Well, in Mega Man X6, Gate's Inspector are similarly labeled Mavericks on a whim, but this time, they really are villainous.
- There's a variant in X4, Sigma tries to convince General to go maverick, explains that humanity intends to destroy any reploid that doesn't obey them perfectly. Mega Man Zero proves that this would eventually become the case, but at the time, Sigma was wrong, and his own actions ended up contributing to this development heavily.
- Takumi in Chaos;Head is correct about a surprisingly large amount of his paranoid thoughts, thought not all of them. Like that Yua had ulterior motives for being nice to him, some invisible godlike presence is watching him or that some sort of conspiracy surrounding Shogun is targeting him. Even about the idea that someone always seems to be watching him and that he is the avatar of someone else the same way Knight-Hart is his own in ESO.
- Team Fortress 2 has the Spy. That guy who looks like he's guarding the intelligence could be a Spy. The Sniper on the sniper deck could be a Spy. Your own team's Spy could be a Spy. It could be you. It could be me! It could even be—oops, a Spy just killed you.
- Which justifies one of the most ubiquitous actions in the game: shooting your allies to find Spies. Since team-mates don't take damage when they shoot each other, but Spies do, firing a few shots at your allies ("spy-checking") can be a life-saver.
- That spy checking is easy, effective, and ubiquitous, and yet Spies are still one of the most popular classes gives you some idea of what we're dealing with here...
- Which leads to still more justified paranoia as, after killing a Spy, most people will continue to fire several shots in his general direction, just to be sure they got him. Doubly so if the Spy went down just a little too easily. (Dead Ringer makes it appear the Spy was killed when he takes his first damage, so if you seemingly kill a Spy with one shot... you didn't.)
- Also in a level of irony, a Spy is pretty paranoid at all times on whether the other team knows he is a Spy or not.
- Then there are Pyros. While it is usually a standard to spy-check suspicious teammates, a Pyro can take it to the extreme. Since their primary weapon (the flamethrower) allows them to make continuous sweeps and Spies who catch on fire often die from it due to their low health, that Pyros will often set aflame everyone they come across or just burn empty space in case a Spy is cloaked and hiding there. The class is almost required to play like this since they are the Spy's natural enemy.
- And it's not just enemy Spies who can take you by surprise, either. Being properly paranoid will keep you alive a lot longer in general.
- Which justifies one of the most ubiquitous actions in the game: shooting your allies to find Spies. Since team-mates don't take damage when they shoot each other, but Spies do, firing a few shots at your allies ("spy-checking") can be a life-saver.
- BioShock has Peach Wilkins. A fisherman and smuggler who has holed himself up in Fontaine Fisheries, he believes you are just a troublesome agent of his dead colleague Fontaine, who he currently has a VERY low opinion of (justifiably, Fontaine was a crook and a slimeball). He was right. Sure, you didn't know it at the time, as Fontaine was masquerading as the sympathetic Irishman Atlas.
- Starting at Fort Frolic, the Properly Paranoid player will develop a habit of shooting any frozen splicers, statues, or suspicious corpses he comes across. Because you never know when one of them might spring to life and assassinate you.
- RuneScape has a whole quest series where an ex-zookeeper, Larry, was fired for claiming penguins are trying to take over the world. After the first quest in the series, you can see him squirming in a straitjacket outside the zoo where he once worked.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has The Truth, who at first glance looks like your average perpetually stoned New-Age Retro Hippie. But as the game goes on, more and more of the weird, seemingly random and/or insane stuff he talks about turns out to be true.
- In Pandemic, Madagascar is well-known for quarantining itself well before any other nation, thus foiling the player's efforts at getting their custom-designed disease past their borders. "A person is coughing in Brazil!" "Shut. Down. EVERYTHING!"
- In The Force Unleashed, General Rahm Kota's backstory is that he never fully trusted the Clone Troopers, and preferred to use his own miltia during the Clone Wars. This allowed him to be one of the few Jedi who managed to escape Order 66.
- And in Knights of the Old Republic, Carth never passes up an opportunity to voice the opinion that something stinks in the setup; that it's a little odd your character survived, that it's also really odd that Bastila made the request to transfer you aboard, that the Jedi Council is up to some dirty trick...Turns out, he's dead right.
- In the sequel, the Peragus Security Officer suspected that someone was sabotaging the facility to sneak you off to turn you in for your bounty. He hid a stealth field generator in a footlocker, tied an override switch to the droids on the administration level AND the prison's forcefield, stocked security with sonic and ion charges and suspected that someone would turn the droids on them, so he asked to know the damage the droids could do to them. Didn't help him survive much longer, but he was right.
- In Mass Effect, Wrex once worked for Saren as a hired gun for a job. However after actually seeing his employer for the first time, his instincts gave him such a bad feeling about Saren that he left without even waiting to get paid. He's the only merc who survived the mission.
- Saren himself is paranoid that his ship Sovereign is indoctrinating him. He's right.
- When Kaidan/Ashley appears in Mass Effect 2, they warn Shepard that Cerberus is very likely manipulating them using the threat of the Reapers and Shepard's gratitude toward Cerberus for bringing them Back from the Dead. In the penultimate mission of Mass Effect 3, the player finds a video detailing the Illusive Man's plans to do exactly that. Kaidan/Ashley is the only party member to display no surprise at this.
- Every Assassin's Creed assassination target who voices concern about the Assassin's presence — since all are done within earshot of the Assassin. One notable example in the first game was Sibrand, who is first seen (by Altaïr) threatening a Scholar whose white robes are similar to those of the Assassins. Unfortunately, although (as the Scholar points out accurately) that's why the Assassins wear those robes, Sibrand cuts him down anyway. Eventually this isn't enough "security" for Sibrand, who then flees to a boat that's quite off-shore, correctly believing that the Assassins are still hunting him.
- Earlier, there's a conversation between two Templar troops who are discussing the Assassin and Sibrand's growing paranoia, only to have Sibrand stomp up toward them and berate them for being so suspiciously secretive. Then Sibrand turns around, convinced that Assassins are watching them, and yells at the passing crowd at the top of his lungs that he knows the Assassins are out there, listening and watching right now. The hilarious thing is that Altair actually is listening in right at that very moment, so Sibrand's paranoia is justified.
- It's always fun to slowly make the henchman paranoid and terrified enough to shoot off wildly at the tiniest noise in the predator sections of the Batman: Arkham Series. Some of their buddies will try to calm them down saying Batman's not all that. But boy do you get to prove them wrong.
- Also people tend to question Batman's possible overestimations of The Joker's plans.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, one of the Vaults was filled with almost nothing but former mental patients who were drugged until they forgot that they were ever insane, and then split into red and blue factions who lived on opposite, locked sections of the Vault filled with HAL-esque security cameras to fuel their paranoia. Naturally, one of them figured it out, but he could no longer trust himself when he knew he was insane.
- Also, Mr. House was able to predict the war before it happened and had defense systems set up all over Vegas. He would have completed it too had the war happened a day earlier and he lost the Platinum Chip that would've upgraded his defense systems. Still, his defenses were effective enough that Vegas is left mostly intact. Another example of him is his non-negotiable request for you to wipe out the Brotherhood of Steel. While it may just seem like Kicking the Dog, it's shown in the Wild Card ending that without the NCR actively curbing them, the Brotherhood of Steel will start stealing any bit of advanced technology they find from anybody they meet. That and the fact that House relies on robots to enforce his authority means that the Brotherhood would naturally oppose him.
- Also, Regis of the Great Khans is the only one to actively distrust Caesar's Legion and be opposed to the alliance. However, he will not speak out unless you can give him evidence he can use.
- Early on in Alan Wake, you meet an old woman who always carries around an electric lantern, won't walk down a hallway because the light's burnt out, and frequently talks about getting faulty bulbs replaced. Then you go through the Washington forests at night, get attacked by creatures of darkness, and find out there's a very good reason for this. Even more than you think: the woman's the Lady of the Light, giving you the means to defeat the darkness.
- Father Grigori in Half-Life 2 mentions that he built most of his anti-zombie traps before the zombies ever hit.
- In that same area, players get into the habit of shooting corpses a couple of times before walking past them. If they're really a "hibernating" headcrab zombie, this will wake them up. This is because most players have had just a few too many times when the innocent-looking corpse they just passed walks up behind them and knocks their head off.
- There's an easy trick to figure out which are still alive. Did you not kill them yourself? Do they have a headcrab still on their head? Is the corpse intact? If all 3, then they are still alive. NO EXCEPTIONS.
- In that same area, players get into the habit of shooting corpses a couple of times before walking past them. If they're really a "hibernating" headcrab zombie, this will wake them up. This is because most players have had just a few too many times when the innocent-looking corpse they just passed walks up behind them and knocks their head off.
- Played with using Knight-Commander Meredith in Dragon Age II, who becomes more stringent in her measures to crack down on apostates and blood mages, and is highly suspicious that First Enchanter Orsino is sheltering some of them himself. She's right, and he is — as in more than half of the Kirkwall circle. However, this only makes matters worse for her and the templars, and she gets to the point near the end of the game where she even accuses the templars under her command as being blood mage thralls. It doesn't help her case that the lyrium idol that she fashioned into a sword is also affecting her judgment.
- Dragon Age: Origins has Loghain, a national hero who along with King Maric, helped free Ferelden from Orlesian occupation decades ago and still harbours his old grudge towards their former conquerors. This brings him into contention with Maric's son, Cailan, who desires to foster peace with their former adversaries, particularly when Cailan desires to bring Orlesian forces to aid in the battle against the Darkspawn. Compounding on that, Cailan also wishes to include Grey Wardens in the battle and bolster their numbers with the large contingent of their order from Orlais. On the eve of battle, Loghain deserts the field with his forces, leaving the King and most of the Wardens to die and pinning the blame for the King's death on the Wardens. It's implied that he did so believing he foiled an Orlesian plot to prevent an invasion, using the Blight as an excuse to enact a coup. In the Return to Ostagar DLC, it turns out he was partially right. Turns out Cailan was attempting to forge an alliance with Empress Celene and possibly intended to turn Ferelden into a client-state of the Orlesian Empire. But Loghain's belief that Cailan was planning to enact a coup with Orlesian forces at Ostagar wasn't right and the threat of the Blight was very much real. Similarly, the Wardens had nothing to do with whatever Cailan may or may not have been planning. Presumably, his belief that the Wardens were traitors was fostered due to their failed rebellion against King Arland, two centuries earlier, which given his constant allusions to their Order's exile, seems very likely.
- Loghain's distrust towards the Wardens comes from another source. The order was only recently allowed back into Ferelden, meaning their numbers were very small. With a Blight brewing, The Wardens had planned to bolster their strength by bringing in their forces from Orley. This made Loghain decidedly uncomfortable.
- To top it off, the one he SHOULD have been paranoid about causing a nation-decimating coup was Arl Howe, who is literally responsible for half of the issues that the factions of Ferelden are dealing with: HE planned the betrayal of Cailan and the wardens, convincing Loghain and making him think it was his own idea, hired a young blood mage to assassinate Arl Eamon AND teach Eamon's son dangerous demon magic, sold elves to Tevinters to raise funds, and hired an unstable (ready to be demonically posessed) mage to assault the circle tower. And murdered a family of nobles, including the youngest son. And all so that he could obtain the land that he felt was rightfully his, even if it had to be razed to the ground first.. Confirmed in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening: his daughter calls him a monster, right in front of her brother. So it's a case of being properly paranoid, but choosing the wrong allies and methods to deal with the situation.
- In Double Switch, Eddie set up traps all the building out of apparent paranoia. The scary thing is that he is both right and wrong. He is right because there are Mafia goons as well as secret society members who start running loose in the building. He is wrong because he is dangerously insane and wants an Egyptian statue that everyone is after.
- In the Portal universe, Douglas Rattmann is a paranoid schizophrenic who works as a researcher for Aperture Science. When off his meds, he imagines all sorts of odd things, like inanimate objects talking to him and that the AI Master Computer who runs the facility is out to murder everyone. He's exactly correct about the latter, allowing him to survive the purge and provide surreptitious aid to the series' protagonist.
- In Minecraft, most of the mobs create this feeling for players. All of the common ones like Skeleton Archers, Zombies, and Spiders can spawn anywhere that is large and dark enough, even if it's been previously explored. Creepers are especially dangerous: Remember to properly light up explored areas, or your character will suddenly come face to face with an imminent explosion.
- Also, if you're playing on a server without very active admins, adopting a paranoid play style (to the point of coating ones subterranean obsidian bunker with lava and iron/coal ore) is the best defense against thieves and griefers.
- Steven Heck from Alpha Protocol. He repeatedly references various crazy sounding conspiracy theories, such as operation Acoustic Kitty, which supposedly involved CIA operatives sticking receivers to the tails of cats for use in spying, which is actually Truth in Television.
- The conspiracies he references falls into three categories: Truth in Television (like Acoustic Kitty), Confirmed In Universe (like a scheme to manipulate the price of strawberries for testing purposes) and finally stuff that, because of the other two categories, there is that niggling feeling that maybe it isn't entirely wrong, after all...
- In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines there is a conspiracy theorist who is a constant caller on a late night radio station. His calls start off with conspiracies regarding aliens and area 51 but at the end of the game he reveals the entire plot of the game so far and the Vampire conspiracy but gets laughed off as being crazy.
- The Terrans in the X-Universe are terrified of artificial general intelligence, because their own terraformers wiped out all their colonies after a software glitch, then started throwing asteroids at Earth.
- As in the original short story, Ted in I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream game is described as being pathologically paranoid. However, he does not come across any more suspicious as any of the other main characters. When you are in a world controlled by an insane godlike AI who has been torturing you for over a century, being paranoid is completely warranted.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- Syl, Duchess of Dementia from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion — Shivering Isles , is paranoid. When you first meet her, she gives you a quest to rout a conspiracy in New Sheoth. She is right too — the office of Duke of Dementia is gained by killing the previous Duke. As part of a quest, you can end up killing her and becoming Duke (or Duchess) yourself. She is prepared.
- 2920: The Last Year of the First Era shows Emperor Reman Cyrodiil III going through increasing paranoia starting from the first book. Played with in that the plot against him that leads to his assassination arises out of his own paranoid lashing-out, including having his mistress executed because he thought she was plotting to poison him. She wasn't; she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He also probably trusted the Akaviri ambassador a little too much, but the Potentate seemed to have exploited the existing plot rather than having been directly involved in it.
- Similar to the Bioshock Fort Frolic example above, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Most players develop the habit of smashing, shooting, burning, etc., any entombed Draugr who isn't naked, as they tend to come to life and attack you (this is also pretty good way to get a sneak attack on them).
- In I Wanna Be the Guy, the first hint that the player needs to develop this mindset if he/she wants to get through this game is Delicious Fruit that falls up and kills you. The only thing in this game that is perfectly safe is water.
- Drakensang: Archmage Rakorium sees Lizardmen conspiring behind every corner. Turns out the first game's main plot actually is about a huge conspiracy spearheaded by Lizardmen!
- In Crusader Kings and its sequel, the "Paranoid" character trait gives a slight boost to that character's Intrigue stat, which dictates how vulnerable they are to assassination — in other words, being paranoid is a benefit when people are out to get you. It also gives a slight penalty to that character's Diplomacy stat, making them less able to make friends and therefore more likely to be plotted against.
- Dead Space: Look at every corpse you pass by (and there are a lot of them). Is it mutated at all? Did you kill it? Does it have all its limbs attached? It's a Necromorph playing dead, mutilate it. The occasions the player comes across an intact Necromorph that is actually dead can be counted on one hand, across all three games.
- In Zombieville USA, the survivor is said to have stockpiled beans and shotgun ammo for the Zombie Apocalypse. Clearly, it was a good idea.
- In Baldur's Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal, meeting Gromnir Il-Khan causes him to spout paranoid ramblings about how Melissan is an evil backstabbing witch trying to manipulate all the Bhaalspawn into killing each other before he attacking you for thinking you're out to get him. As it later turns out, he was right: Melissan really was trying to kill all the Bhaalspawn and sent you after Gromnir because she knew he'd try to kill you.
- Dark Souls: After a certain point, players will get into the habit of poking every single treasure chest they see with a weapon before opening it. The Mimic enemies do a fantastic job of disguising themselves as chests, and getting tricked by one is almost guaranteed death. Poking them beforehand will damage them if they're a Mimic, and cause them to get up and attack.
- JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Haunted Island players frequently used the map to warp around the island. Not just because it was faster, but because if you walked around the island, you might get jumped by Repsac. Answer his question wrong, he'll steal your health — and lose enough you get warped into the labyrinth... and he can still jump you inside the labyrinth. Use the Warp Whistle? He can't get you.
- In Shoot Em Ups, a common strategy amongst players is to fire Smart Bombs at even the slightest hint of danger of losing a life. Since dying traditionally resets the player's bomb stock back to 3, rendering any bombs left over prior to death wasted, it's generally accepted that it's better to waste bombs over overestimated danger than to waste lives over overestimated safety.
- Nuclear Throne has Steroids, a scientist who did a lot of steroids in preparation for the apocalypse. It definitely paid off for him.
- It's actually kind of funny when you go back to replay Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and realize that von Karma was paranoid enough to retrain a parrot, on the off chance that somebody *coughcough* might cross-examine her. Guess what happens.
- Ivan, much to Gian's surprise as Ivan appears to be the opposite at first appearance, from Lucky Dog 1 turns out to be incredibly paranoid about the people around him — he's forced his men on a number of occassions to eat the food they bring in case it's poisoned. This is because, when he was younger, somebody he was close to set him up and he almost died, and he doesn't feel completely welcomed into the mafia. As it turns out some of the people betraying the mafia were his own men and his overly precautious nature saves his and Gian's lives on multiple occassions.
- In Narbonic, after Dave goes mad, Helen tells him that the nice part of going mad is that "You realize you weren't paranoid after all."
- In Sam and Fuzzy, Malcolm has various crazy cryptic rants about a conspiracy involving the hunter in white, the corporation that kills to control the message, the man with two faces and space gophers. They all turn out to be a true (even the space gophers) and a result of his hairstyle accidentally picking up secret transmissions from Sin records
- Homestuck has this in the form of Beta Bro Strider. This character takes some actions that are absolutely horrifying to those around them, and even now with the information we have they are still considered excessive force, but to see the motivation they have knowing that Bro was being tortured by Lord English's presence in Lil Cal his entire time with Dave makes you think.
- Lord Shojo, ruler of Azure City in The Order of the Stick. Best summed up by this:
Shojo: Paranoia? I rule a city where I have to fake senility just to avoid being assassinated. I took Improved Paranoia like 5 levels ago.
- Also, Haley. Her father raised her to trust nobody but family, and while this made it difficult to open up to her new friends within the Order, it also helped her identify whether or not new people they meet were Evil or not.
- Schlock Mercenary, in wide range. Lieutenant Shore "Pi" Pibald, paranoid to the point of insanity — or "as irrational as his namesake" — though fortunately, in a mercenary company of violent sociopaths, this isn't a bad thing. However, he's intelligent enough that he's been correct about his suspicions on at least three notable occasions.
Narrator: It's a good thing he's not in therapy. This would undo months of progress.
Kevyn: I went straight for the most reckless, potentially-deadly activity I could imagine. It looks clever, but it's actually paranoid pessimism.
- Kevyn does not expect much good surprises from the Universe or people, either. As he said to another Mad Scientist:
- In Sluggy Freelance, Riff spends a good chunk of the comic paranoid that Aylee will revert to her "primal instincts" and go on a killing spree. While this paranoia is unusually assholish for Riff, the inventions he's made out of his paranoia have ultimately saved the group multiple times.
- After discovering that they are werewolves, the main cast of Cry Havoc (with the exception of Hati) become paranoid that the Vatican and Aesir churches are out to get them, this even goes so far that they tactically sweep and clear rooms they enter, carry multiple weapons on they at any time, and plan on how to kill their only allies should they be surprised.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Jack believes that the Court tracks students through their food. Naturally, even a student quite disillusioned with the Court asks him why they would do it in such a ridiculous way. Jack's right.
- One xkcd comic has the character announce "I know you're listening" to empty rooms, on the off chance he's right.
- One mezzacotta character says this is why you humans cannot be allowed to leave Earth.
- You don't need enemies to be properly paranoid. Florence of Free Fall is an engineer specializing in nuclear power plants and space ship engines. She considers four independent fully-redundant safety systems an absolute minimum for anything important. She developed this habit contending with nothing worse than Murphy's Law. Considering how destructive a nuclear or space ship catastrophe can be, it's good to be that paranoid.
- Considering that Murphy's Law is one of the most destructive forces in the universe...
- Everything involving the Rash Illness in Stand Still, Stay Silent.
- Are buzzsaws on a train really necessary? God, yes As for why...  WARNING- Nightmare Fuel ahead.
- The official guide for clearing land:
- Whateley Academy is actively trying to instill a form of this attitude in its students. As staff members have been heard to state outright, the point of the school isn't so much to produce superheroes or — villains — or even provide a formal education (though it does that, too) as to train young mutants to survive in a world in which many people are out to get them.
- Phase is paranoid, and rightly so. He grew up in an ultra-wealthy family, and so has spent his whole life watching for conmen, hucksters, golddiggers, false friends, you name it. He bought a high-end utility belt after only a couple weeks at Whateley Academy. The one time he wasn't wearing it (because the powers testing guys insisted on experimenting on it) he really, really needed it.
- Except for Gunny Sergeant Bardue, whose behaviour is less Properly Paranoid and more simply Jerk Ass. He beats up a young student for demonstrating how his illusions work because the illusion, which was quite clearly only an illusion, resembled an antique pistol. He later hurls a car at a student that has no mutant ability, with the intent of forcing her latent mutation to manifest. Not only is the manifestation of a mutant power actually none of his concern, it may have been a life-destroying change for the student, such as if her power manifested by turning her permanently into a monstrous form. And that's assuming that she had a latent mutation that would react to, and be able to defend against, a car hurtling towards her. What an Idiot!
- In Marble Hornets, Alex starts constantly filming himself midway through producing his student film. After J watches the tapes, he starts filming himself as well. What they find is disturbing, to say the least.
- Gaia Online, true to form, has at least three known examples.
- G-Corps Labtech 957, several of whose numerous conspiracy theories about the place are eventually revealed to be true. He'd even stashed a bigass shotgun for the Zombie Apocalypse.
- Johnny Gambino sent his son Gino into hiding the night before Halloween 2k7's vampires came looking for them both.
- Gambino, again, went to his friend Edmund with concerns about his security force being absent early in March 2010. Edmund dismissed him as paranoid and told him to go home and get some sleep. Cue vampire assassin...
- The entire population of the Gaia universe refuses to attend Louie's Halloween party in 2011, on the basis that Halloween festivities in Gaia tend to end badly. Naturally, there's an outbreak of lycanthropy at the party.
- Invoked by Gordon Freeman in episode 28 of Freeman's Mind. While his paranoia does allow him to accurately predict enemy strategies and avoid traps, he proceeds to delve into the absurdly paranoid... including telepathic owls.
- The Salvation War reveals that tinfoil hats actually work against demonic mind powers.
- The Nostalgia Critic becomes paranoid that his allies will seek to oust him as President of Kickassia. He's right, but it's only after he threatens them with twenty tons of dynamite!
- Subverted with the Nostalgia Chick, who he never really notices making several thinly-veiled assassination attempts for her own ends.
- Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons: Minerelle becomes terrified by, and obsessed with, a figure named 'Alfonso de Tambor' who she happens to read about in an old book. It increasingly becomes clear that her paranoia over him is completely irrational. Until he shows up, by which time she's forgotten who he is.
- The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Jane senses that something is off from the moment she came to be Adele Rochester's tutor. In episode 13, her suspicions are confirmed as far as the strange happenings in the house go, though she doesn't know the mystery yet. However, it's also the episode when she admits that Mr Rochester is all right, and she expected him to be horrible — neglectful or abusive to Adele and possibly to herself.
- Markiplier is horrified by mannequins and suits of armor. Any time he walks into a room where either or both are present, he will freak out. Unless, of course, the angel statue is somewhere around.
- The Flying Man: Mike is afraid that the murderous vigilante will crash their arms deal. Rob tells him not to worry. Guess who shows up?
- In Worm, when the insects around a police station so much as move strangely, the cops take it as a sign that the Skitter is spying on them, and freak out accordingly. As the reader knows, she is.
- In the Creepypasta, "Psychosis", the protagonist becomes convinced that everyone but him has disappeared and been replaced by some Eldritch Abomination. For much of the story, it seems like it could all be in his head, until the Wham Line at the end:
"After all, a sane man would have fallen for the deception long ago."
- Mr. Crocker in Fairly Oddparents suspects that FAIRY GOD PARENTS!! are involved in every unusual situation, regardless of how minor. He is always correct, not that it helps.
- The Question's appearances on Justice League Unlimited are filled with wild ramblings about obscure plots, but his crackpot theories seem a lot less crazy when you realize that he was right about Supergirl's disturbing dreams, Luthor triggering the apocalypse and Baskin-Robbins' 32nd flavor.
- Tweek from South Park, a 8-year-old boy, addicted to caffeine and suffering from ADD, is constantly twitching, jumping, screaming and pulling his hair out, because he sees the underpants gnomes. Unfortunately, they are real. Another time when the boys try to steal Kenny's ashes from the McCormick's living room they tell Cartman his fear that there are robot guards is ridiculous. There are robot guards.
- The boys were lucky it was just robot guards. The McCormick's are Cthulhu cultists, after all.
- Parodied in The Simpsons which had the supervisor of a peanut factory forcing his employees to undergo hours of drilling to prepare for any potential elephant attacks. His efforts are all for naught, however... since in the middle of just such an attack, as he's bragging about his preparations, he gets flattened by an elephant.
- In another episode, Bart is dosed with ADD medicine that makes him apparently paranoid, culminating in a wild theory about Major League Baseball spying on people via satellite and him stealing a tank to stop them. Turns out, yes, he was right.
- In another episode, in the process of babyproofing the entire house, Homer encases the phone in concrete so Maggie can't call and have poison delivered to the house. Marge has trouble believing this, until Homer picks up a carrot (there to help with dialing), randomly hitting buttons and, over the speaker phone, we hear "Thank you for your call. Your poison will be delivered shortly."
- In yet another episode, Homer steals a pile of sugar from a crashed sugar truck. He then keeps it in his backyard and stays all night next to it with a baseball bat to "protect" it. When Marge says he's being paranoid, he immediately pulls out a stereotypical British guy with a tea cup and saucer from inside the pile.
Homer: All right, pal: where'd you get the sugar for that tea?
British Guy: I nicked it when you let your guard down for that split second, and I'd do it again. (sips tea) Goodbye.
Homer: You see, Marge? Do you see?
- And then another episode had Homer making up conspiracies and posting them to the internet. One such conspiracy (Flu shots being used for Mind Control) turned out to be true, causing Homer to be kidnapped and held in The Villa — "The Island".
- Code Lyoko: Waldo Schaeffer, alias Franz Hopper; changing his name was only the tip of the iceberg. His electronic diary was encrypted with code that would take years to crack, hidden in a train station locker whose key was hidden in his daughter's plushy which was in turn hidden in a crack of a wall in his house. And he created a whole virtual world with the aim of hiding there with Aelita, out of danger from his pursuers. But hey, The Men in Black were after him, and they'd already kidnapped his wife.
- In Invader Zim, Dib has the Cassandra Truth reputation going strong. But he's right — Zim, the main character, is indeed an evil alien bent on conquering humanity. What's more, whenever he's seen engaging in other paranormal studies (such as chasing a hairy kid he thinks is a baby Bigfoot), he continues to show much more awareness of the world around him than... well, the world around him. Maybe he'd be more credible if he stopped talking to himself.
Dib: Don't you care that Zim is trying to destroy all mankind? Huh?
- His sister Gaz knows he's right and that Zim is an alien... however she's too busy with video games and pizza to actually give a damn. Although, she has an excuse:
Gaz: ...But he's so bad at it.
- Kids Next Door has this in the main character, Nigel Uno aka Numbah One. He comes across as a big-time Agent Mulder, with theories ranging from "the adults are feeding children asparagus because they hate it themselves" to "the mystery meat in the cafeteria is rainbow monkey" to "the doctor is turning children into moose to sell their antlers" (or something to that effect). Whenever Numbah One is wrong, it's because the truth is even more outlandish.
- Example: In one episode parodying the Animatrix short The Second Renaissance, Numbah One gives an elaborate class presentation claiming that kids once ruled the world, until they created adults to be their playmates/servile caretakers. Naturally the adults rebelled and took over the Earth, creating the fiction of "families" (with the adults in control and the children subservient). The teacher stops the presentation and chastises Nigel for his ridiculous flights of fancy but after the class is dismissed he grabs the apple off his desk (which is actually a communicator) and reports "They know..."
- Storm Hawks has Stork, who overlaps with Crazy-Prepared. He believes that various and hundreds of things are out to get him/the ship/his crew, and he often turns out to be right.
- Stork built an impressive array of traps in the Condor, much to the consternation of the other crew members, but on the numerous occasions the ship has been boarded they are very useful, and the crew are glad to have them.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes
- Family Guy: The psychotic Mayor Adam West tells Meg to "watch out for The Noid," the old Domino's Pizza mascot, because he's trying to ruin his pizza's freshness. Later The Noid actually appears and West snaps his neck and then takes a bite of his pizza remarking "Perhaps it is The Noid who should have avoided me." Then there's the Evil Monkey...
Cloud 1: So, Bill. We attack tomorrow?Cloud 2: Yes, tomorrow.[beat]Cloud 1: I mean it this time.Cloud 2: I do too!
- In one episode, Peter mentions wanting to buy cloud insurance, insisting that the clouds are just "picking their moment". Cut to two clouds in the sky outside:
- Flaky might come across as being irrationally nervous and the character has a boatload of phobias in Happy Tree Friends, but considering what usually ends up happening to the HTF gang, and the somewhat unusual delivery mechanisms of said fates, her fears seem rather justified... but unfortunately her caution rarely pays off due to Finagle's Law being in effect.
- Mallory from The Mighty Ducks seemed rather disturbed that brainiac Tanya not only had a named code in the case of a random dinosaur attack but defense plans for just such an occasion. Dinosaurs are cousins to the race that twice conquered their planet and enslaved their people, so it's not as out there as the show makes it.
- The eponymous hero of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command theorizes that anything bad that happens in the universe is the work of his Arch-Enemy, the Evil Emperor Zurg. It was even lampshaded in the Pilot Movie.
Warp Darkmatter: What plot?! You think Zurg is behind every kitten stuck up a tree!
- The freakiest thing is he's usually right, as Zurg, being a classic Card-Carrying Villain, will do anything to cause chaos in the galaxy. There was even one episode completed devoted to this trope where Buzz (after working nonstop for weeks) captures a pen from one of Zurg's shuttles, believing it to be the key to one of his most devious plans. Everyone thinks he's been wound a bit too tight and force him to take a vacation and relax. It turns out though that Buzz was right as the pen was the firing trigger for Zurg's (with dramatic sting music) Hyper Death Ray!
- While being one of the most paranoid characters in the series, Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible has been accurate many times, such as when he claimed that swimming in the lake of Camp Wannaweep was a bad idea. Turns out, the lake had been polluted by one of the neighboring camps, which resulted in Ron's camp bully (who took to swimming in the lake all summer) becoming a mutant villain. Another episode features said enemy of Ron being supposed cured of his mutation and reformed. Ron, however, remained suspicious, despite even having most of the people he told his claims to pelt him with rotten vegetables. Guess what? He was right again as his enemy wanted to become a mutant again and create an army of mutants. Also, in one episode where Ron's so-called irrational fear of monkeys was apparent, he claimed that the simian-wise archaeologist Monty Fiske was 'bad road'. Boy was he right big time as it turns out, he was a power-hungry Monkey Kung Fu expert who decreed that from now on, he'd be known as Monkey Fist. It was probably the fact that Ron suspected him from the get-go that he's more of Ron's enemy than Kim's. In the Grand Finale, Ron was worried that graduation from high school would bring about the end of everything (though he was referring to it more in terms of his relationship with Kim). Turns out his worry was more justified than he thought as an Alien Invasion struck the night of graduation, bringing about the end of the world. As Ron put it:
Ron: Oh, am I the only one who SAW THIS COMING?!
- There was also his claim that his teacher has been dogging him ever since he looked at him funny he was right
- Colonel Hunter Gathers from The Venture Bros. eats, sleeps, and breathes this trope. Nearly everything that comes out of his mouth sounds like completely insane conspiracy babble, but he's always right.
- On the very rare occasion that Gathers was outfoxed, it was because he wasn't paranoid enough.
- On King of the Hill, conspiracy nut Dale Gribble has a practically encyclopedic knowledge of government bureaucratic procedures, a knowledge which has come in handy on several occasions. Perhaps the best example was the incident in which he blackmailed a worker at the Department of Motor Vehicles into providing better service, simply by naming the all of worker's superiors in ascending order, then threatening to call them and complain:
"I'm Your Worst Nightmare! I have a three-line phone and absolutely nothing at all to do with my time!"
- That didn't stop him from being the resident Cloud Cuckoolander who didn't believe in one conspiracy, he believed in all of them. The only times he ever bashed an idea, especially ones said to him in jest, were when he had an even more outlandish idea. Taking a trip to Mexico every election day under the assumption (not fear, honest belief) that there was likely going to be a complete societal collapse because things didn't go the right way was one of the more blatant examples. It was mentioned that he believed so many nutty things that one or two had to be right eventually!
- There was also the time he was right about Hank being a victim of the vast government computer network known as "The Beast".
- And still, he was completely oblivious to a more mundane and much closer to home conspiracy: that his wife Nancy has cheated him with John Redcorn for fourteen years and that his son Joseph was actually Redcorn's son.
- The Tribunal from Metalocalypse. Seem like a bunch of crazy people, convinced that a metal band is going to fulfill some kind of prophecy, right? Wrong. As the seasons have gone on, Dethklok has been doing almost everything the The Tribunal has feared, and they aren't even aware of it. The Tribunal however is, and they're very worried about it. However the Tribunal are being manipulated, and they are going to be the ones causing trouble.
- Wade from Garfield and Friends comes off as this once he points out that local Reality Warper Orson keeps dragging Wade into dangerous stories via Dream Sequences. This is emphasized in one episode where Orson's reading causes Wade(and later Roy) to be placed in a series of dangers, including a polar bear, a train, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Suddenly it makes sense for Wade to be scared of everything.
- At least Wade wasn't alone in this. And he managed to convinced Roy that a dinosaur and other dangers where after them and they both suffered from it, but luckily Roy stopped Orson by giving him a calm coloring book.
- Penny Proud in one episode of The Proud Family suspected that the reason why she was getting bad grades from her teacher despite having put much work into her paper was because her teacher hated her, to which her family members didn't believe her (Oscar initially thought that she gave her a bad grade because the teacher was republican [Penny wrote her paper on how Hillary Clinton inspired her]). Turns out, Penny was actually closer to the truth than even she realized: She did hate her in a way, although mostly because she was sore towards Suga Mama for winning a coin toss (well, cheating in the coin toss is a bit more accurate), and Penny is related to Suga Mama, being her granddaughter and all.
- Also, Penny does this again in the episode "Thelma and Luis," when she finds out that the retirement home that Papi stayed in was actually a prison. She was right all along, but the adults didn't believe her (except for Suga Mama). She was proven right at the end of the episode, though.
- A couple of Looney Tunes shorts had Sylvester as Porky Pig's pet cat, who would be the only one who knew that, for instance, a sinister mob of mice were out to kill his master. Porky would catch Sylvester doing truly bizarre things to save both their skins and chalk his behavior up to cowardice, insanity or both.
- One episode of The Penguins of Madagascar had the penguins stumble on their hero and idol Buck Rockgut, a senior rockhopper penguin agent whose extreme obsession and paranoia of his #1 enemy, the Red Squirrel, dwarfed the other penguins' paranoia combined. He waited in a bunker for 47 years waiting for the Red Squirrel to appear and thought all the zoo animals were agents or spies for the most trivial of reasons. It got to the point where even Private thought it was all in Buck's head. By the end of the episode, it's revealed the Red Squirrel really does exist, spying from underground and voicing his nefarious plans as the credits roll.
- Of course, there's also Skipper, the leader of the penguins. He gets over-analytical about anything new that happens, most famously in "Roomies" when he suspected Rhonda of working with Blowhole. He was right.
- Major Monogram is like this. He calls Perry for every minor thing Doofenshmirtz does (we saw Doofenshmirtz playing with a hula hoop....and that's all. Go stop him). But, just for a few exceptions, HE IS ALWAYS PLOTTING SOMETHING, so Perry's help is actually important always primal Perry take the cake when he seen Perry out because a cloud says doof
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Canterlot Wedding -- Part 1," Twilight grows uneasy when Princess Cadance, a childhood Cool Big Sis figure of hers, begins acting uncharacteristically cold on the days before her wedding to Twilight's older brother Shining Armor, and later outright accuses her of being evil. Her friends, on the other hand, assume Cadance is just an ordinary Bridezilla who will get a hold of herself once she's married, and shun Twilight for her apparently unjustified outburst since they think she's acting like a Clingy Jealous Girl. In "Part 2," Twilight turns out to be right, except the "evil" Cadance is actually Chrysalis, the shapeshifting Changeling Queen, who is posing as the princess in a bid to take over Equestria. The real Cadance is every bit as pleasant as Twilight remembers, and Twilight must now help her to uncover the truth.
- The Angry Beavers, "The Posei-Dam Adventure": Daggett nails all his stuff down and handcuffs himself to Truckie the shrew because he's worried Truckie will try to steal his stuff. Naturally, the two get trapped in the flooded dam after it's flipped upside-down by a natural disaster and have a harrowing adventure together. At the end of the cartoon, Truckie announces that he was going to steal Daggett's stuff, but out of gratitude to Dag for saving his life (and because prying all of that stuff loose would be too much trouble), he decides to steal Norbert's stuff instead.
- Dan in Dan Vs. often develops extreme grudges over relatively petty slights, and takes them as evidence of a nefarious conspiracy. Most of the time, he's right.
- Dipper in Gravity Falls, as most Agent Mulder types, is the first to suspect something weird is going on. And if he's wrong about what it is, it's usually because the truth is even stranger. For example, in the first episode, he thought Mabel's first crush Norman was a zombie, a theory helped by Norman's bizarre gait and apparently detachable body parts. Then Norman reveals the truth; he's a bunch of gnomes doing a Totem Pole Trench.
Dipper: Gnomes? Huh, I was way off.
- Batman Beyond: in "Betrayal", one of the guards driving the truck at the start is this. The truck skidded to a halt to avoid a seemingly wrecked truck that was blocking the road. But this guard is from Gotham and knows what a setup looks like. Being a Red Shirt, it doesn't help.
- Guard 1: I've seen month old fish that have smelled better than this.Guard 2: Are you for real? Somebody might be hurt.Guard 1: All right. Go check. (tosses large gun to other guard) Here. In case it's a fish.Guard 2: (humoring him) Right. (deciding to be a little savvy himself) Lock up after me.Guard 1: You don't have to remind me. (locks cab)
- Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir is believed to have uttered the oft-quoted "Even a paranoid can have enemies" line to Henry Kissinger during the 1973 Sinai peace talks (in reference to her reluctance to give the Palestinians additional concessions). The line is sometimes attributed to Kissinger.
- Fidel Castro. The CIA tried to assassinate him over six hundred times and he's still alive. Who else but a true paranoid would consider exploding seashells?
- Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi didn't have the foresight to prevent her own assassination by her bodyguards. Before that, however, she was widely derided in the U.S. press of being paranoid of American military intervention into Subcontinental Asia, particularly on Pakistan's behalf, leading her to formalize strategic cooperation with the USSR. Guess whose nuclear-armed carrier group showed up in the Bay of Bengal in 1971?
- Among sysadmins and other IT specialists, there's a saying that "adequate computer security is indistinguishable from paranoia". Justified, as it has come to light that the are many groups on the world wide web out to get whomever and whatever they can, including organized crime rings and in some cases governments.
- Mountain climbers in general regarding rope safety, weather, and avalanches. One of the first mnemonic they learn when setting up anchors is S.R.E.N.E which stands for Strong, Redundant, Equalized, and No Extension. In a controlled environments like a gym setting up more than two anchors might look ridiculous, but on the mountain itself this paranoia is properly justified because the anchor points are probably made of either mechanical devices that are simply jammed into rock cracks or 16-inch ice screws screwed into frozen waterfalls; while most of the time those anchor systems are enough, there are still countless stories about anchor failures that are beyond human error.
- When bluewater sailing and voyaging you should have backup systems for all the gear you have (navigation, communication, cooking, fresh water, food etc). Most oceanic sailors have at least two backup systems, and at least one of them should not rely on electricity or engine power.
- There was a court case in which one of the witnesses was another witness's shrink. When asked whether said other witness was paranoid, he answered that he thought so, until he heard the testimony of some of the other witnesses. note
- When Conspiracy Theorist David Icke (of shapeshifting Lizard Folk fame) visited Canada, he was the subject of a conspiracy to sabotage his visit. This culminated in a television appearance in which a psychologist brought in to reveal him as crazy asked why he thought that people were trying to silence him, whereupon Icke cited the official harassment and multiple cancellations he had received aimed at just that.
- One of Wild Bill Hickok's cardinal rules was to not sit with his back to the door to a room. John ("Broken Nose Jack") McCall ultimately demonstrated why this was a good idea, and why Hickok's violating that rule was terminally unwise, by shooting Hickok in the back of the head.
- Malcolm X took many precautions because he feared someone was out to get him. He was right.
- Some people can honestly claim that Communists and the government had them falsely declared insane for disagreeing with them. Indeed, if you are religious, and particularly if you are a priest in the USSR before the 1940s, China after Mao even now , or 21st century North Korea, and so forth, could get you institutionalised, or just plain murdered. It is still pretty bad in large parts of the world and there are legions of people who have been locked up, or just plain killed, for 'subversive behaviour'....
- In China and North Korea, it is bad enough that the Catholic Church's cardinals for those areas have to be appointed in secret.
- You can't be too careful with nuclear power.
- When Switzerland started its nuclear program, one of their early prototype power-plants was Lucens. The head of the project assured the federal council that "everything is safe, and nothing can go wrong." On the same day there was a reactor meltdown. Since they feared something like that might happen, the reactor had been built in a cave which was then simply sealed off for the next decade.
- The UK had a problem with the "Windscale Piles", reactors built in a hurry right after the war that vented out into the air via huge chimneys. Sir John Cockcroft insisted that the buildings be modified to include scrubbers at the top of the chimney stacks, a very expensive decision which became known as "Cockcroft's Folly". When one of the piles caught fire, the filters stopped a disaster from becoming a catastrophe.
- Adolf Hitler frequently altered his planned appearances and travel plans out of a sudden fear for possible attempts on his life. This allowed him to survive dozens of carefully calculated assassination attempts, most of them perpetrated by his own officers. When you look at how meticulously these murders were planned, it's clear that only paranoia or dumb luck could have saved him so many times.
- Ernest Hemingway believed himself to be tailed by the FBI, a claim his friend dismissed as a delusion resulting from mental deterioration and depression. However, it was later revealed that he really was ordered to be monitored for his activities in Cuba by J Edgar Hoover.
- Michael Drosnin using codes he claimed were hidden in the Bible predicted an assasination involving Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Then Rabin was assasinated.
- During late July/early August of 2011, many members of the Bethesda forums expressed a suspicion that the Lonesome Road DLC for Fallout: New Vegas would be delayed. The senior producer, Jason Bergman, called people paranoid and said that Lonesome Road would come out in August. A week later, it was announced that Lonesome Road had been delayed and wouldn't come out in August.
- Joseph McCarthy tried several people who were supposedly Communist spies in what History would call the Red Scare. Although he ultimately tried the wrong people and destroyed many more lives and careers in the process thanks to his Witch Hunt tactics, the Soviet Union really did have numerous spies in the United States at that time. Though, given his propensity for smearing his enemies, as well as persecuting homosexuals, it is more that he was Accidentally Accurate in his belief.
- During the 1920s, the Australian government ordered for Harry Bridges to be deported because he was a Communist, and therefore an agent of the Soviet Union, although he denied it all the way. Turns out, the Australian government was correct in their suspicions, and that Harry Bridges was one of the leaders of the Communist party, a fact that was discovered after the Berlin Wall fell.
- Doubly happened on September 11, 2001:
- Rick Rescorla, a former colonel in the US Army, became the chief of security for Morgan Stanley after he retired. First he expressed his worry that the towers would be vulnerable to a truck bomb... which then happened in 1993. Later he said that terrorists would probably try again — using airplanes. He was last seen running up the stairs of the South Tower to aid in rescuing more people.
- There was John O'Neill, who had become the head of WTC security 19 days before 9/11. His previous job: One of the main FBI counter-terrorism experts on Osama Bin Laden. When he took the job, he told his new boss he worried that they'd try to "finish the job".
- It is the job of the CIA, KGB, Mossad, etc. to be Properly Paranoid. ANY intelligence group that uses secrecy as its M.O. causes this trope by mere existing, and that's just the KNOWN ones. The ones that are completely unknown are even worse. We presume.
- Fans of the American Big Brother have feared that Russell Hantz or a member of his family will be cast for Big Brother, especially after seeing Network Pets from Big Brother appear on The Amazing Race, and Russell's nephew being cast for Survivor South Pacific. Two years passed and no Hantz in sight. When the cast for the 2012 season was announced, Russell's Brother showed up on the list.
- Anyone handling explosives or unstable/explosive/dangerous chemicals should be this as well as Crazy-Prepared. If they are not, get out of there. You may save your life.
- Motorcyclists are often told to ride as though everyone else is out to get you. Justified in that riding a motorbike is more dangerous than driving, and doing so is a way to minimize the risks involved. (Some people have no compunctions about trying to run bikers off the road.) Similarly for car drivers, if you treat everyone else on the road as an idiot, you'll be prepared for when they make a (stupid) mistake.
- If you happen to be in a fandom that has had major issues with a Broken Base, Die for Our Ship, false rumors everywhere, Flame War and Internet Backdraft, trolling, and similar, and you happen to be a moderator or admin on a community (or even a longtime member), you will find yourself becoming this, and assuming good faith on posts that seem to be any or all of the above becomes much harder. Sometimes this is a good ability to spot and stop trouble, other times it may well make you less friendly to newbies and others...
- After what looked like an effortless Coalition victory in Operation Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein is reported to have developed a deathly fear of the United States; crediting it with an unrealistic ability to track his every movement. He reportedly employed several body doubles, and it is speculated that prior to the Second Gulf War, he hadn't appeared in public for several months (facial recognition software suggests that his doubles had filled in for him in every time he had supposedly appeared in public). He was right to be worried.
- In anarchist circles, this is known as "security culture." It's an attempt to keep outsiders and infiltrators unaware of any illegal activities a group might be planning. Radical groups have been targeted for surveillance and disruption in the past.
- Any form of engineering where lives are at stake tends to operate like this, including civil, medical and aviation. The design needs to be prepared for any component to fail. The preperations need to be double-checked by an outside expert. Etcetera. This is why bridges so rarely collapse with people on them.
- There is no one city whose complete destruction would result in loss of user data for Google services. There is no city whose total loss would cause more than a few minutes availability disruption for most services. These systems are tested periodically.
- Joseph Stalin was extremely paranoid about his security, because of the previous 5 assassination attempts.
- Robert Hanson was paranoid beyond even what one would expect from a high-ranking FBI intelligence officer. That's understandable, because he had spent 22 years selling secrets to the Soviets and, later, the Russians. Hanson was so careful that even after the FBI had identified Hanson as the leak, it took them several months to find any hard evidence. He was so paranoid, that it's unclear wether or not his Russian handlers even knew who he was (Hanson had always insisted on communicating through blind dead-drops in a secluded park). He quickly realized that he was under investigation. One of the clues that tipped him off was subtle FM interference he later claimed was indicative of electric bugs that were planted in his car. He was right, the FBI had bugged his car, but investigators have never been able to reproduce the interference that Hanson claimed to have heard. As the biggest US intelligence leak in history to that point, Hanson is currently serving a life sentence in federal supermax at ADX Florence.
- The human immune system is, in many ways, a totalitarian police state, with many mechanisms of identifying anything potentially treasonous (cancer cells, virus-infected cells, etc.) or alien (bacteria, parasites, etc.) The standard procedure for anything that fits those categories that isn't a member of the commensal flora/slave underclass is to immediately kill it, and considering what allowing pathogens to fester in the body can result in, it's a pretty good mindset. As is also the case with totalitarian police states, it can get overzealous and attack healthy cells or things that are harmless. The former is called an autoimmune disease, and the latter is called an allergy. Sufficiently serious cases of either one can be fatal.
- During World War I, Italian commander-in-chief Luigi Cadorna insisted on fortifying with a large chunk of the Italian artillery the Monte Grappa, a mountain away from the front lines and in an area where the mountain terrain was too bad for any meaningful offensive. This is because that mountain was on the way from Austria and to the valley where most of Italy's weapon factories were located. To be even more safe, he had a road built specifically to resupply that mountain, in case some enemies managed to bypass it and cut the normal supplies. Come the Battle of Caporetto, the Austro-Hungarians break through in a completely different area of the front and suddenly, the Grappa is attacked by forces aiming specifically to reach that valley and that arrived there because the main offensive had cut off the supplies of the fortified mountains that were supposed to stop them, and only its immense artillery park prevented the Austrian mountain troops from effectively capturing Italy's means to fight the war.
- The Austro-Hungarian admiralty became immensely paranoid after two MAS (basically, medium-large speedboats with a pair of torpedoes strapped on the sides employed by the Italians) penetrated the harbour of Trieste and torpedoed two coastal defence ships (sinking one and damaging the other) in it. It increased the surveillance of the harbour and deployed torpedo nets near any moored ship. The captains considered the torpedo nets a superfluous navigational annoyance... Until three MAS penetrated the apparently impenetrable bay of Bakar and fired torpedoes. Only the torpedo nets prevented the sinking of three warships. Before leaving, they left mocking messages daring them to come out and fight. The purpose was to bait the survivors into leaving the torpedo nets and getting torpedoed in the narrow exit by an ambush force of one scout cruiser, eight destroyers, three standard torpedo boats and two submarines. The fleet, having learnt the lesson, didn't leave until well after the ambush force decided to leave. After what is now appropriately known as the Bakar Mockery, the Austro-Hungarian fleet increased the surveillance.
- One of the major rules of firearm safety: you always assume a gun is loaded until you know for absolutely certain otherwise. If you put a gun down for half a second, turn around, then turn back, you check it again. This may seem absurdly stringent to some people. These are people who have never been shot.
- Scuba divers must pass rigorous training about how to cope with virtually anything that might go wrong during a dive, as dealing with even trivial mishaps becomes a life-and-death crisis when it must be carried out underwater. Much, much more so, if it's a deepwater, arctic, night, wreck or (worst of all) cave dive.
- During Nanowrimo, often writers have a backup copy in case their primary source wipes their project. Some have 4 or more.
- Have you taken your birth control pill today?
- For that matter, have you taken any medicine you need to take today?
- Windows Vista's User Account Control was incredibly annoying, forcing users to put in administrator passwords for things as mundane as changing the screen resolution. Windows, as the most popular operating system, is the biggest hacking target. Part of this was deliberate in an attempt to force software developers to get their act together. Many games in the XP era required users to be administrators, leaving the barn door wide open. It worked. Most games and programs generally only require admin access on installation only. Microsoft toned down UAC in later versions of Windows.
- Apple's iTunes is also naggy about security, requiring you to put in your Apple ID to do just about anything. iTunes locks your account if you fat-finger your password even once, requiring you to prove that it's actually you trying to access it. It also forces you to have a different email address for recovery than the one you've used for your Apple ID to try to thwart the kind of social engineering hack that was perpetrated on Wired writer Mat Honan.