[[caption-width-right:192:You can't hide. [[note]]Image courtesy of @/{{Geoduck}}... who may or may not be one of Them.[[/note]]]]

->''"There '''was''' a magic bullet! It was forged by Illuminati mystics to prevent us from learning '''the truth!'''"''
-->-- '''ComicBook/TheQuestion''', [[WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague in all of his glory]]

'''The''' AncientConspiracy. '''The''' OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness. '''''The''''' OneWorldOrder. Founded at the dawn of human history, if not earlier, they gather influence and wealth, spinning their webs of lies and deceit in the shadowy heights of society. Or maybe they're just a bunch of rich old men with pretensions of grandeur. Either way, when a creator of popular culture needs a name for this group, they often turn to "The Illuminati" and their "[[EyeMotifs Eye in]] [[PyramidPower the Pyramid]]" symbol; both have percolated their way into semi-general use, come across as refined and ancient, and (mostly) [[HistoricalDomainCharacter aren't under copyright]].

"Illuminati" means "[[LightIsNotGood the enlightened ones]]" in GratuitousLatin. There ''was'' a Masonic-like organization of intellectuals which was [[TropeNamer given this name]] in RealLife Bavaria in the 1770s, but it was eventually disbanded by the Bavarian government.[[note]]At least, ''officially''. (Cue spooky music)[[/note]] There are [[ConspiracyTheorist people]] who fervently believe the Illuminati survived this purge, orchestrated UsefulNotes/TheFrenchRevolution (as part of their OneWorldOrder efforts), and still exist, very much as described above; find more details under Real Life below, or go check out Wiki/{{Wikipedia}}'s [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illuminati article.]]

This name is bandied about a ''lot'' over in the WildMassGuess department. See also UsefulNotes/TheKnightsTemplar. If you're looking for the Creator/MarvelComics group by this name, see [[ComicBook/TheIlluminati here]].

For best effect, listen to [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQoRXhS7vlU this song]] while reading the article.


[[folder: Anime And Manga ]]

* They have appeared in ''Manga/BlueExorcist'' and look to becoming recurring villains...if not up there with Gehenna and Satan.


[[folder: Comics ]]

* In Creator/MarvelComics, this was the name of a [[ComicBook/TheIlluminati secret alliance]] between influential superheroes - ComicBook/IronMan, [[ComicBook/FantasticFour Reed Richards]], [[ComicBook/XMen Professor X]], Namor the ComicBook/SubMariner, ComicBook/DoctorStrange, and [[ComicBook/TheInhumans Black Bolt]]. They're actually a subversion, however, as their goals were to protect the world, not rule it, and their secretiveness eventually came back to bite them repeatedly (see ''ComicBook/WorldWarHulk'', ''ComicBook/SecretInvasion'', and even ''ComicBook/CivilWar'', all in which [[NotSoOmniscientCouncilOfBickering the ideological differences between the members end up highlighted by measures taken on by at least the more prominent players]]). Notably, ComicBook/BlackPanther was invited to join but declined, because he ''knew'' that the group's extremely secretive nature left them doomed to fail if they ever disagreed on anything.
** And during the ''ComicBook/DarkReign'' StoryArc, ComicBook/NormanOsborn forms an evil version of the Illuminati called the Cabal, composed of himself, Doctor Doom, [[ComicBook/XMen Emma Frost]], Loki, ComicBook/TheHood, and the Sub-Mariner - who, as mentioned above, is also a member of the good Illuminati. ''At the same time''. [[TrueNeutral He doesn't see the difference]].
** It's important to note that the Marvel guys have given subtle nods that they know about the connotations of the name. Actions have been taken by some members, most often chiefly Iron Man, in certain storylines such as the three listed above, which were not only disagreed with by at least one fellow member on principle, but also would call into question for readers whether they were playing this trope straight. Also, Iron Man says once to Maria Hill when remarking on this group and referring to it by name that "at least that's what I self-deprecatingly call our little world-saving group," giving clear hint that only he uses the name. Put this in perspective. The only member of the "good guy Illuminati" that ever used the name was the snarky/humorous member of the team who's led questionable acts in the plots that developed after each of its meetings, and even he readily admits it's self-deprecating humor.
** In ''ComicBook/JonathanHickmansAvengers'' storyline, [[GodzillaThreshold Black Panther of all people reconvenes the group]] in order to deal with [[ApocalypseHow an omniversal destruction]] situation. It wraps up the same way it always does with this group: [[ComicBook/SecretWars2015 utter failure]], and the rest of the superhero community [[WhatTheHellHero calling them out on how their secrecy made things worse]].
** In that same story, Namor founds a new Cabal, consisting of himself, Thanos, Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Maximus the Mad, Black Swan and an alternate universe's Terrax. They assembled to deal with the the omniversal destruction problem, and were actually doing better than the Illuminati, though only because nobody on the team was bothered by murdering billions of people on a regular basis (in fact, most of the group liked it).
* In Creator/DCComics, the Illuminati hails from as far back as the days of Atlantis, has a covert hand in government affairs worldwide, and has been led by ComicBook/VandalSavage from its birth to the modern day.
* Mentioned in ''Comicbook/FromHell'', along with a number of other secret societies, though the Masons take center stage.
** Creator/AlanMoore used a lot of Illuminati symbology in ''Comicbook/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'' too.
** There's Illuminati symbolism in ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'' too (Ozymandias anyone?); either Alan Moore is a conspiracy theorist himself or he... KNOWS SOMETHING!
* Mentioned in ''ComicBook/SonicTheHedgehogMegaManWorldsUnite'' when ConspiracyTheorist Sticks gets talking with Xander Payne. He's convinced the Illuminati are just a front created by the Freemasons and the Knights Templar to throw people off their trail.
* In the graphic novel ''Cryptocracy'', it's explained that the Illuminati are a myth created by the ''real'' AncientConspiracy, the Nine Families, who count on it being so outlandish that only the most fringe of groups will believe it, thus allowing them to keep working in the shadows. Also, it makes a good means of recruiting pawns -- young rich people, the kind who'll one day be political and corporate elites, are convinced that they're being recruited for the Illuminati, and undergo humiliating "initiation rituals", footage of which is then used as blackmail material to ensure that they do what the Families want, without ever being allowed into the actual tiers of power.


[[folder: Film ]]

* Someone is behind that weird sex club from ''Film/EyesWideShut''.
* ''Film/GSaviour'' features the Illuminati InNameOnly; instead of a secret society here they're the LaResistance opposing [[TheEmpire CONSENT]].
* ''Film/LaraCroftTombRaider'': They've been around for about five thousand years searching for pieces of a magical triangle that will give them mastery over time. Lara's father was their #2 before his death.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''Literature/{{Duumvirate}}'' is written from the point of view of the Illuminati themselves.
* Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's ''Literature/{{Illuminatus}}'' trilogy helped spread the name. The books are a MindScrew told by {{Unreliable Narrator}}s and infamous for giving complex explanations for the origins of the Illuminati, and then subverting them later on, sometimes with information that is equally wrong. It doesn't help that there have been several groups throughout history under that name. The original Illuminati, according to the book, are [[spoiler: Atlanteans who have been hiding under the Himalayas.]] Also there is a gigantic pyramid-squid.
* Creator/DanBrown uses the name in his various books, most prominently, in ''Literature/AngelsAndDemons''. Here, the Illuminati [[spoiler:are a secret society of scientists founded by Galileo Galilei to spread the Enlightenment (hence the name) and to oppose the reactionist Roman Catholic Church]]. Although they are thought to have been destroyed long ago, Langdon is drawn into a plot aiming to blow up the Vatican City, which he believes is the Illuminati's revenge. It turns out, [[spoiler:the Illuminati really ceased to exist and the whole crisis was orchestrated by a traitorous Church official (who had access to the seized Illuminati artifacts) to bring himself into power, and restore faith in Christianity to the world]].
* The urban fantasy ''Literature/RedRoom'' series has the House being a clear {{Expy}} for the organization, which Derek {{Lampshades}} a couple of times. WordOfGod confirms, in-universe, the House is the source of the Illuminati "myth."


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* The Series/{{Millennium}} Group became something of an {{expy}} for this in the last season, which was some distance from the original concept.
* Elliot from ''Series/MrRobot'' has a theory the 1% of the 1% secretly control all of humanity rather than governments. [[spoiler: He's proven to be, at least partially, right when season 1 ends with an informal gathering of these individuals doing exactly what he thinks they do.]]


[[folder: Music ]]

* {{Conspiracy Theorist}}s will have you believe that basically, any mainstream performer is either an Illuminati puppet or puppeteer.
** Particularly common targets for Illuminati accusations are Music/JayZ and Music/KanyeWest. Both of them [[AscendedMeme began playing it up in their music]] as a result.
* Music/GammaRay's ''No World Order'', particularly "Induction," "Dethrone Tyranny," and ''especially'' [[VillainSong "New World Order."]]
* A major theme of Music/TheKLF's work, especially [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeOlMBwtJ_g "Justified And Ancient."]]
* Music/ThatPoppy is supposedly an Illuminati creation.


[[folder: Professional Wrestling ]]

* Wrestling/{{TNA}}'s 2010-11 PowerStable Immortal played this mostly straight at first, from the mass of foreshadowing to the ominous date of their takeover to the things they said to the quality of their regime's first show. The one subverting element was their "AncientConspiracy" is only ancient compared to the lifetime of most plots in wrestling. But then [[ConspiracyRedemption Fortune rebelled]] and Wrestling/JeffHardy tanked a pay-per-view. Immortal still remained, but their illusion of ominous power plummeted and would only continue to fade since.
* And of course the [[Wrestling/NewWorldOrder nWo]] who ran Wrestling/{{WCW}} for the better part of four years both in storyline and behind the scenes.
* Wrestling/{{WWE}} has Wrestling/TheWyattFamily, whose patriarch Wrestling/BrayWyatt, implied to be a demon or otherwise malevolent spirit possessing former [[Wrestling/TheNexus New Nexus]] member Husky Harris, has taken rare occasions on Twitter to play off some mysterious connection to Illuminati lore.
* Wrestling/TheAscension's Titantron entrance video is Illuminati-associated symbolism, though it's not directly related to their characters. Ricardo Rodriguez, who was initially their manager in FCW before they gained their dark image, has stated that the "talent agency" gimmick was meant to be Illuminati.


[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* ''Tabletopgame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'': the Imperium has been seeded with a society of exorcists who call themselves Illuminati. Unlike most examples, these guys are actually good. They are also [[SummonBiggerFish effectively subservient to the Imperium]], even trying to buddy up with the Imperium's [[StateSec "holy Inquisition"]], which is normally a good way to get yourself killed.
* Creator/SteveJacksonGames sells various conspiracy-themed card-games ([[TabletopGame/IlluminatiNewWorldOrder collectable]] and otherwise) under the blanket name ''TabletopGame/{{Illuminati}}'', while their line of ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' role-playing material have published a couple of Illuminati-related source-books. Some of it is obviously inspired by the ''{{Literature/Illuminatus}}'' book trilogy. The company has a trademark on a least one version of the "Eye in the Pyramid" design, and the other companies in this section often get official permission to use it. Particularly [[WildMassGuess WMG]]-worthy is the fact that several world-changing events in recent history seem to have been depicted on these cards in these games years before they happened.
%%* TabletopGame/D20Modern
* One of the secret societies in ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}''. [[spoiler:May or may not be a front for Ultraviolets, spies from another Alpha Complex, bots, aliens...[[note]]and may or may not actually exist.[[/note]]]]
* The hierarchical and secretive Tremere clan from ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'' can function as a stand-in for the Illuminati.
** In ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'', this is jumped to eleven by the Seers of the Throne.
** In ''TabletopGame/MageTheAscension'', the Technocracy is revealed to be almost identical to this. They incorporate a number of other conspiracy theories about business, [=UFOs=], and the government too.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''VideoGame/DeusEx''. [[spoiler:And they're debatably the '''good''' guys. Their rogue spin-off organization, the Majestic 12, on the other hand, are decidedly not.]]
** Also featured in the prequel ''[[VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution Human Revolution.]]'' [[spoiler: Taggart describes the Illuminati as "just a name used to get rich people to invest more money," and he's not far off; the organization's every attempt to assert more control over the world goes completely off the rails, often due to internal sabotage. It's no wonder the first game's BigBad was able to usurp nearly all of their resources for Majestic 12. Of course, Taggart ''is'' a [[ThatLiarLies lying liar who lies]], and the organization ''was'' able to transform Zhao and Taggart from small fry to global power brokers.]]
* The Illuminati is one of the three playable factions in the ConspiracyKitchenSink MMORPG ''VideoGame/TheSecretWorld'', along with the Templars (who are not, but have ties to, the historical UsefulNotes/TheKnightsTemplar) and an Asian-themed "Dragon" society.
* The resident ConspiracyTheorist Gomez in ''VideoGame/VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines'' has a particularly convoluted theory about the Illuminati (read it [[Quotes/ConspiracyTheorist here]]). Of course, this being the TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness, that theory has a good chance to be true...
* ''Franchise/StreetFighter'':
** ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIII''[='s=] antagonist leads an interesting take on this. The Illuminati in these games have a lot of religious symbolism and are more akin to a psychotic cult than an oppressive secret society. Gill himself is a NietzscheWannabe dark savior with obscene doses of AGodAmI. Oh, and then there's the fact that he's red and blue skinned and clad in a thong... Although, they do have the whole AncientConspiracy thing going on.
** The Illuminati play a vital part in the plot of ''VideoGame/StreetFighterV'', which is set few before ''III''. i.e., they're behind [[spoiler: Charlie Nash being BackFromTheDead (with Gill's SexySecretary Kolin as a sort-of monitor)]] and also [[spoiler: have Juri Han as their ally in exchange for a new eye that replaces her Feng Shui Engine]].
* One of the endings in ''VideoGame/PleaseDontTouchAnything'' results in an all-seeing eye appearing. This and the accompanying achievement strongly hints at their existence in the game's universe.
* ''VideoGame/{{Dominions}}'' has the secretive Illuminated Order, operating in local {{Uberwald}}.
* Los Illuminados in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4''. Subverted by Albert Wesker being a more successful infiltrator behind the scenes than their entire organization.
* In ''VideoGame/TheSims3: World Adventures'', some of the Egyptian locals are worried about the [[ParodyNames Illsiminati]].
* [[UsefulNotes/TheKnightsTemplar The Templars]] in ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'' function identically to the nominal description of the Illuminati: operating from the shadows as the AncientConspiracy, rewriting history, trying to TakeOverTheWorld in an effort to end TheEvilsOfFreeWill, and include a cadre of famous historical figures to claim membership amongst their ranks.
* The first ''{{VideoGame/inFAMOUS}}'' game features a group called the "First Sons", who are implied, if not outright stated, to have manipulated history quite a fair bit (particularly in the lives of [[spoiler:Cole, Zeke, and Trish]]). Their insignia also, of course, contains the iconic eye used in most Illuminati pictures.
* ''VideoGame/PonyIsland'': As you browse upon the profiles in the devil's computer, a strange eye starts to follow you around. [[spoiler: Log into the Guest account, and move an image file of a triangle over it, and the eye is finally content. The message "Illuminati Confirmed" displays, earning you a free ticket.]]
* In ''VideoGame/EiyuuSenkiTheWorldConquest'' they are the main antagonist, creating strife and discord in nations all over the world to keep everyone in a state of perpetual war.
* In ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'', both [[ConspiracyTheorist Nervous Ron]] and [[GeniusCripple Lester]] believe the Illuminati's busy working behind the scenes. Outside of Ron's radio show, though, they aren't really mentioned.
* Mobius from ''VideoGame/TheEvilWithin'' and ''VideoGame/TheEvilWithin2'' are an influential organization that controls every system of government, having controlled everything behind the scenes for a very long time. Their Administrator funded Ruvik's [=STEM=] research as a means of bringing everyone into a single HiveMind under their OneWorldOrder. Every operative, from janitorial to the Administrator himself, has a chip implanted in their skull, making sure that any sign of disloyalty meant instant death (something that takes them down in the end).

[[folder: Visual Novels ]]

* In ''VisualNovel/SteinsGate'', protagonist Okabe Rintarou believes that an Illuminati group he only refers to as "The Organization" exists and controls all of human society. Everyone dismisses this as part of his delusional ramblings. [[spoiler:As it turns out, there actually ''is'' a secret organization known as "The Council of 300" that is aiming to control the world, though they aren't quite there yet.]]


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* ''WebVideo/AvatarTheAbridgedSeries'': "And then he beat the crap out of him, yelling about magic arrows and Illuminati or whatever. I'm telling you guys, he's batshit insane."
* The Sway is presented as the Website/{{Neopets}} version.


[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', Satan's surveillance invokes it: [[http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=4042 the drone is the eye in the pyramid.]] With wings.
** [[http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=3257 And Lil' Evil goes to join.]]


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/TheClevelandShow'' has the hip-hop Illuminati made up of hip-hop stars who control the world through the trends they start.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' featured a group by this name. Xanatos himself is merely a junior member.
* In ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'', Bill Cipher is considered to be this, who is a one-eyed triangle bent on world domination.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Minoriteam}}'' had The White Shadow, who is a living Eye in a Pyramid.
%%* ''FreaknikTheMusical''
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Metalocalypse}}'' has [[spoiler: the Church of the Black Klok, an ancient religious group that has foreseen all of the events surrounding Dethklok, brought Ofdensen back to life, and guarded the prophecy that details how Dethklok will save the world from the apocalypse brought on by Salacia/The Half Man.]]
* As quoted above, in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague Unlimited'', one of the facts ComicBook/TheQuestion reveals while [[UnreliableNarrator under torture]] concerns the Illuminati.
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' features a group called the Illumi''nut''i, which guards the secret history of peanut butter.
* In ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'', The Light seems to have a lot of Illuminati-characteristics, down to the name ("The Light" being very similar to "the enlightened ones"). In addition, the first member of The Light is ComicBook/VandalSavage, who formed the Illuminati in the comics.
* ''WesternAnimation/RickAndMorty'': In the episode "The Ricklantis Mix-up", we find out that the Council of Ricks that Rick C-137 (the show's "main Rick") [[spoiler:killed off in "The Rickshank Redemption"]] were actually [[TheManBehindTheMan controlled from behind the scenes]] by the Shadow Council of Ricks, who plan to control the newly-elected [[spoiler:President Morty in the same way. Unfortunately for them, this is subverted when President Morty turns out to actually be Evil Morty, and he promptly subjects the Shadow Council to the BoardToDeath trope by having all but two of them killed, with the remaining two forced to be subservient to him]].


[[folder: Real Life ]]

* As noted above, there is some historical basis for the Illuminati. During 1776, a group of Bavarian Germans formed a secret society and used "Illuminati" as their name. The self-imposed mission of the Illuminati was to fight against abuses of state power, superstition, religion, and prejudice. (That's right, folks: the actual Illuminati were ''secular classical liberals''.) The organization did get pretty popular, having members from many other parts of Germany, and earning the hatred of the Catholic Church. However, it was banned by the Bavarian government and disbanded in 1785. According to the conspiracy theories, this was just the beginning: The Illuminati actually left Bavaria for Scotland, infiltrated the Masons, founded America, and now control the entire world from a smoke-filled room. This includes TV Tropes.
* If you're wondering how the historical Illuminati achieved such a prominent place in conspiracy lore, it's largely because the Illuminati's disbandment was followed shortly by UsefulNotes/TheFrenchRevolution. The TropeCodifier is the book ''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memoirs_Illustrating_the_History_of_Jacobinism Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism]]'' by right-wing Catholic priest Abbé Augustin Barruel. Barruel blamed UsefulNotes/TheEnlightenment as a malign and foreign influence on France, stating that the French people were content being subjects of their King and that evil secret socities under their Illuminati, Freemason and Jacobin front introduced foreign ideas like democracy and liberty. This book was supremely popular and was even picked up by English statesman Edmund Burke who also attributed the Revolution to the malign influence of "[[ValuesDissonance jew brokers]]" which sowed the seeds for the far more deadly anti-semitic conspiracy theory. Make no mistake, the Illuminati conspiracy theory was started by religious and constitutional monarchists who thought secular democracy was the most evil thing ever.
* Throughout the nineteenth century, politically reactionary circles blamed every leftist movement and revolution on Illuminati subversion. The Illuminati theory was taken up by fascists in the early twentieth century and by the far-right John Birch Society during the UsefulNotes/ColdWar. At this point, the theory had clearly lost touch with its roots. Whatever else can be said about the John Birch Society, they're definitely not monarchists. Indeed, the John Birch Society changed the Illuminati from proponents of secular democracy to proponents of [[RedScare Soviet-style communism]]. Perhaps it's not surprising that subsequent mutation would change it from being an exclusively right-wing conspiracy theory to the apolitical one it seems to be now. In the current version of the conspiracy theory, the Illuminati is apparently in favor of some kind of generic totalitarian state, ''[[{{Irony}} the opposite of what the real Illuminati wanted]]''.
* Nazi Germany's ambassador to the UK, Joachim von Ribbentrop, was convinced that Britain was ruled by a secret society of hereditary nobles, and spent much of his time wooing members of the House of Lords and the alleged Nazi sympathiser King Edward VIII, hoping to be inducted into the cabal. Of course, it wasn't, and he more or less ignored the Cabinet and Commons, who held the vast majority of political power even by the 1930's.