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Bystander Possession

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When the monster of the week is a bystander empowered and controlled by the Big Bad. (Needs Launching Votes)

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
ElBuenCuate on Aug 16th 2018 at 1:11:18 PM
Last Edited By:
ElBuenCuate on yesterday
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

"I can feel the eminent anger and sadness. The moment of weakness at my next victim... Such easy prey for my akuma"
Hawk Moth, Miraculous Ladybug

So you are planning on a series where every episode your hero will fight a different opponent. But you also want to show him as a nice soul that wants to help any extra that crosses his path, so you want to add a victim as well, but that seems too crowded for a single episode, wouldn't be better if you could condense it a little? Maybe by combining up some things?

Enter the bystander possession. Instead of creating his own monsters, or fighting directly, the villain will take a random person from the audience and transform them into a minion. This can be really convenient in a family-friendly show since it creates an in-universe reason for not killing. These are normal people that cannot help themselves so the duty of The Hero is not only to stop them, but help them get to normal.

Since the villain creating monsters from literally any random person would be too powerful, and because the villain needs to be, you know...a villain, in most cases the selected victim tends to be someone that recently suffered some kind of distress, most likely emotional so, while they may be willingly lured into helping, once the transformation takes place they tend to be too controled by the villain to make any real choice. (but exceptions might apply.)

While it can be used a single time it tends to work better in a Monster of the Week format as the villain Modus Operandi (or at least a frequent strategy.) since it provides more time to know the victim, and allow to use more victims as well. And while is normal for a villain to be the responsible for this, is not necessary; it could be natural or caused by a non-sentient force, as long as someone can be infected (and it can be solved in a single episode.)

This always involves Super Empowering, likely relating to the emotional distress of the victim. May involve Demonic Possession. Compare Reforged into a Minion, Face–Monster Turn and Break the Cutie.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • Corrector Yui presents an interesting case in which not even the corrupter is at fault. In this case is a little girl who happens to be a virus, so whenever someone interacts with her, their code gets infected and become monsters.
  • In Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z this comes about due to a substance that the professor created. He used it to destroy an iceberg, but then beams infused with this substance hit many other people or things, but they tend to remain oblivious and keep their normal lives until they suffer a letdown and then the powers activate. An interesting case since this can not only affect people but also animals and even inanimate objects.
  • Flint the Time Detective combines this with Gotta Catch Them All. Flint and company need to collect all the Time Shifters so they don't damage the timeline, but they are nice creatures not doing it on purpose. But Petra Fina can stamp them to control them and transform them into hideous forms called Con forms which the heroes must revert through the Power of Friendship.
  • Has happened in various entries of Pretty Cure
    • Heartcatch Pretty Cure has people with wilting Heart Flowers turned into Desertrian (the Monster of the Week, combined with an inanimate object) who the Cures need to purify. Notably, both Erika and Itsuki were Victims who then became magical girls themselves.
    • Doki Doki Pretty Cure has a similar concept, where people with selfish hearts called Psyches turn dark and become Jikochuus. Notable, the villains enhance or corrupt the victims' selfishness with force. In contrast to Heartcatch, almost every victim is just a random bystander.

Live-Action TV

  • In episode 24 of Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger, Giganoid #6: Giant, is just the Abarangers' friend Emiri made into a giant.
  • In Kamen Rider Den-O, the monsters are Jerkass Genies who distort peoples' wishes (which are, with perhaps two exceptions, well-intentioned or merely misguided. The Hero, a very compassionate young man, makes helping the Victims as much a priority as fighting the monsters.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze has the MOTW, which is created by a human "Switcher" using a device called an Astro Switch; the Switcher is someone with a grudge who's so hell-bent on revenge that they're blinded to the fact that the Switch will eventually kill them. So instead of just beating up the MOTW, Fourze and his team reach out and try to befriend the Switchers so that they know there's somebody who cares.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: In episode "Attack of the 60' Bulk", Bratboy is actually Bulk transformed by Rita and Zedd's magic.

Video Games

  • In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards The first three bosses Kirby encounters are the friends that will help him along the game. All of them were too close to one of Dark Matter's pieces and got possessed to attack Kirby.
  • Happens twice in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Fire boss Fyrus, who is actually Goron Patriarch Darbus; and ice boss Blizzeta, who is a calmed yeti woman named Yeta. Both keep helping you after their defeat.
  • Mega Man Star Force: Since the current incarnation of Mega Man is a boy who merges with an (Energy Being) alien, most of his enemies naturally consist of other humans who merge with other similar aliens. Specifically for the first two games, the evil aliens prey on the humans' negative feelings in order to manipulate them to merge with them and cause the chaos of the scenario. When they're defeated, most of said aliens (and the humans that bond with them) become good, or at least neutral, guys.

Western Animation

  • This is the whole strategy of the main villain in Miraculous Ladybug. He will send an Akuma to any person that recently got disappointed and is holding a grudge (justified or not) so he can offer them a "chance for revenge" in exchange of them helping him to take the miraculous of Ladybug and Chat Noir.
  • In Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja the Sorcerer has the ability to "Stank" any person that has been heartbroken or is going through emotional trauma.

Feedback: 27 replies

Aug 16th 2018 at 1:18:47 PM

Seems tropeable, though the name needs work. Currently sounds like a Medical Drama where each weak is about a different illness.

Aug 16th 2018 at 1:49:51 PM

Agreed.

I feel like one season of Sailor Moon had the monsters be people infected by... something or another, and the point of the final attack was healing them, not destroying them.

Aug 16th 2018 at 4:27:25 PM

This was the M.O. of the villains of the first two Mega Man Star Force games. An appropriate Wave monster would find someone filled with negative emotions, offer to help them by giving them power, and disaster would ensue. (...Or something like that. Someone who remembers it better than I do could probably put it better.)

Aug 16th 2018 at 5:20:57 PM

"This is not Brainwashed and Crazy because the person is not only being controlled; they must gain some kind of power, likely relating to their emotional distress. And it cannot be a one-time thing, it must be the villain Modus Operandi (or at least a frequent strategy.) And while is normal for a villain to be the responsible for this, is not necessary; it could be natural or caused by a non-sentient force, as long as someone can be infected (and can be solved in a single episode.)"

1) it's indeed not BAC. Instead, it's Powers Via Possession.

2) I disagree, this should count one time examples. Especially if you said "mixing it up" - if the characters usually fights regular monsters, making one particular monster possess a person is a good way of mixing it up.

Aug 16th 2018 at 5:34:20 PM

A few of these are listed on the Victim Of The Week page, described as the intersection between that trope and Monster Of The Week (plus occasionally Woobie Of The Week). If they're powered by the victim's negative emotions (which they usually are) then they're also the The Heartless.

Aug 16th 2018 at 6:41:22 PM

Do they have to be a Monster Of The Week type deal? Since I think the Care Bear movies have some of this with some kids falling victim to an evil character thanks to negative emotions or whatever.

Aug 17th 2018 at 12:44:39 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added media section titles as per Media Categories.
    • Italicized work names as per How To Write An Example - Emphasis For Work Names.
    • Put media sections in alphabetical order.
    • De-capitalized (Villain).
    • Deleted garbage text caused by non-standard text characters.

Aug 17th 2018 at 4:07:27 PM

When I created this I was thinking in terms of Monster Of The Week, but I don't know if to include one time cases, since the point is that is a recurring threat.

Aug 17th 2018 at 4:17:20 PM

^ Tropes Are Flexible. Overlap with other tropes is fine, but you can get a healthier trope with more examples if you loosen up the restrictions of the definition. Excluding one time cases would be losing out.

Aug 18th 2018 at 12:23:30 AM

Could someone give deeper information on the Mega Man and Sailor Moon examples mentioned before?

Aug 18th 2018 at 2:50:50 AM

I'll try rewriting it

  • Mega Man Star Force: as the current incarnation of Mega Man is a boy who merges with an (Energy Being) alien, most of his enemies naturally consist of other humans who merge with other similar aliens. Specifically for the first two games, the evil aliens prey on the humans' negative feelings in order to manipulate them to merge with them and cause the chaos of the scenario. When they're defeated, most of said aliens (and the humans that bond with them) become good, or at least neutral, guys.

Aug 19th 2018 at 12:51:53 PM

  • A common occurrence in Supernatural when the brothers are hunting down a ghost or demon both species who are prone to vessel hopping to avoid being exorcised and neither of which need consent of their hosts prior to possession.

Sep 7th 2018 at 12:36:27 AM

The first arc of Anime/Boruto revolves around a creature called Nue that preys on negative emotions and makes everyone it latches onto act out their darkest impulses.

Sep 7th 2018 at 1:27:09 AM

Contrast the Badass Bystander, who typically helps the heroes of their own free will.

Sep 8th 2018 at 9:35:51 PM

Does anyone have any comment on the current state of this trope?

Sep 8th 2018 at 10:33:41 PM

You have to mention Demonic Possession as a supertrope to this.

Sep 8th 2018 at 11:04:44 PM

^ I read the trope but doesn't seem to fit, since here the villain is not entering the victims body/mind, more like controling at a distance (which may mean a rename might be necessary). I feel is more linked to Face Monster Monster turn, which I already said and thought about indexing there.

Sep 9th 2018 at 5:42:49 PM

^ What? The Star Force example is a direct merge... The description says nothing about "controlling at a distance" too.

Sep 9th 2018 at 5:54:01 PM

^ That's true, I should mention it, but with only one example that really overlaps with it, I don't think it can be considered a supertrope of it.

Sep 13th 2018 at 12:14:03 PM

Can't say I like the quote. Sounds more like Emotion Eater.

Sep 14th 2018 at 6:08:42 PM

@Kirby example: Dark Matter should be in caps for their first letters. They're proper names for those beings that possessed said bosses.

Sep 17th 2018 at 10:28:57 AM

yesterday

I'm sorry that this is coming late, but if it's not about possessing someone then we need a better title.

yesterday

^ Any suggestions?

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