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Battle in the Center of the Mind

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"...You are now at war within your own mind and body."

One of the basic building blocks of storytelling is a character's inner struggle, their efforts to balance their base urges and lofty ideals. This is not conducive to high octane explosions and fist fights, nor is it easily transmitted in television even by serious series. However, toss in demons, Mind Control, and a Journey to the Center of the Mind, and you'll get a Battle in the Center of the Mind.

What ends up happening is you get the mental equivalent of a no-holds-barred psychic showdown between the evil force trying to take over and the owner or his/her allies. The evil force can be of various natures, including: Demons, Ghosts, an evil computer virus, other humans via Mind Control or the self with an Enemy Within or Superpowered Evil Side. What the possessing force wants is either a full Split-Personality Takeover, or (if external) to maintain control.

Opposing this force is usually the "host" or person that is being affected. Occasionally, their mind is too weak and addled to oppose the invader, so a friendly telepath or mystic will insert an ally or two to try and rout the bad guy. They will fail. However, the act of them trying and yelling "I know you are in there somewhere!" and going in to save them from the evil presence in their mind is usually enough to get the host to kick their unwanted guest out of their mind if not completely obliterate it when it threatens their friends. The thing is, no matter how powerful the invader, it can't beat a determined victim's home brain advantage.

The fight itself will usually use highly symbolic weapons (a chef's ladle now doubles as a BFS), defenses (a security blanket can now block Ki Manipulation) and even imaginary allies (summoning up an army of Supermen to help you out), turning into something similar to a Shapeshifter Showdown.

For those on the outside, it's usually obvious that the character is Fighting from the Inside.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Alien Nine: The climax of volume 3. Even after the Sunflower is physically removed from her head, Yuri still has to fight to get it out of her mind.
  • At one point in Berserk's Millennium Falcon arc, Schierke has to go inside Guts' mind using Astral Projection to snap him out of the influence of his inner beast the first time he uses the Berserker Armor.
    • During the Elfheim arc, Farnese and Schierke have to journey through Casca's dreamscape and fight the monsters that roam it alongside a three-legged dog version of Guts in order to reassemble the broken pieces of Casca's mind, culminating in a showdown between Dog Guts and the manifestation of the Hawk of Darkness at the very center of the dreamscape.
  • Black★Rock Shooter has the titular "otherselves" as apparently "censor" mechanisms that remove pain and frustration from their human selves. The problem is that the effect "bleeds" out and the titular Black Rock Shooter is removing what she considers to be pain and suffering in other people's heads. The finale is Mato; Black Rock Shooter's human self; taking control of her Black Rock Shooter function, splitting from, and then beating down her Knight Templar tendencies which takes the form of Insane Black Rock Shooter.
  • Bleach:
    • Ichigo vs. Hollow Ichigo during the Arrancar arc in order for the former to properly control his Hollowfication. In the anime, it's fleshed out a bit more, making him re-experience his fights with Byakuya, Jin Kariya and Kenpachi (in this case an expansion of the respective manga scene), before fighting Hollow Ichigo.
    • Later, Ichigo has one with Tensa Zangetsu, which eventually turns into Ichigo vs. the combined form of Tensa Zangetsu and Hollow Ichigo.
  • The manga adaptation of Breath of Fire IV has Ryu and Fou-Lu merge into Infini and then mentally duke it out for control of the creature. This is a Third-Option Adaptation from the game, where Ryu either resists the merge and fights Fou-Lu's Tryant dragon with his allies, or he accepts the merge and Fou-Lu takes control of Infini, easily wipes out Ryu's friends, and proceeds to destroy the world.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: The sleep demon Enmu's power is to step inside your Mental World through dreams. If your spiritual core in the subconscious part of that world is destroyed, it leaves you mentally crippled and a shell of your former self.
  • In Digimon Ghost Game, the final battle is one of these. Regulusmon and Gammamon fight for control over Gammamon's body (which was originally Regulusmon's), and, through assistance from Hiro, Gammamon eventually proves victorious, maintaining his control over the body, with Regulusmon being made to adhere to Gammamon's rules, though they can still manifest through Gammamon.
  • Fubuki Shirou of Inazuma Eleven had a bad case of this in season two. While earlier on he was fairly stable maintaining his personalities, slowly he loses control of himself to his other personality, and at some point Atsuya successfully took total control of Shirou. But after he merged with Atsuya, this no longer became a problem.
  • In the end of season 1 of K, between Shiro and the Colorless King, who he's caught trying to body-snatch him again.
  • Knight Hunters: In Weiß Kreuz Glühen, Berger draws Crawford into his own psychic mindscape to fight him. Crawford, however, manages to turn it around on Berger and pull both of them into the center of his own mind — and unlike in Berger's, in Crawford's mind, they aren't alone.
  • The final episodes of Lupin III: The Italian Adventure take place mostly inside the minds of the main characters, as they, and the entirety of the Italian Peninsula, are forced to beat Leonardo Da Vinci in a way that demonstrates their best abilities. For example, Jigen and Goemon have to use their physical prowess at gunplay and swordplay respectively to take him down, but Fujiko and Lupin have to rely on their wits to outsmart him. Where the real Nightmare Fuel kicks in though is what happens when you can't beat him, because Da Vinci will just erase and absorb your subconscious to fill it with his own.
  • Done backwards in Martian Successor Nadesico when Akito engages in a virtual battle with the ship's computer to delete its memories. In this case deleting the computer's memories was the heroic thing to do, but the computer wasn't aware of this and fought to protect itself. Both Akito and the computer chose to virtually represent themselves as Gekigangar III, the titular giant robot from Nadesico's Show Within a Show, combining this trope with Fearful Symmetry.
  • Naruto:
    • Chapter 493 has Naruto vs. the embodiment of his hatred at the Waterfall of Truth. The scenery doesn't change, however, indicating that it's more of a hallucination than going to the center of his mind.
    • Shortly after that, Naruto fights the Kyuubi (Nine-Tails) within his mind. Yes that Kyuubi. The one that he has had no control over and been terrified of most of the series.
    • It also turns out to be a subversion. It may have been a battle in Naruto's mind, but that didn't make it any less real. Naruto using named attacks instead of unnamed also lends credence that he could do almost anything he did in the battle in the real world.
  • In the Nasuverse, reality marbles make the landscape in your mind into an actual battlefield to teleport your enemy to.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has Negi fighting Evangeline (or at least a being created from his memories of her) inside his own head as part of his test for learning Black Magic. Unusually, he realizes what's going on almost immediately, though it still doesn't really help him.
    Negi: Okay, calm down. This is probably all happening inside my own mind. So that isn't actually Evangeline I'm fighting, but rather my mental image of her. My... mental... image... there's no way I can win!
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion has the cast fight inside Homura's soul gem, to stop her transformation into a witch.
  • Happens between brother and sister Masamune and Tsubaki Nakatsukasa in Soul Eater. The conflict between the two souls (Masamune being able to possess Tsubaki, which she allowed in order to confront him) is shown as a physical battle between the two, each using their own weapon forms. Souls get Mental Worlds elsewhere in the series, but this is the only actual battle so far. Curiously, Black Star's attempt at mastering the form possessed (and corrupted) by Masamune ultimately involved not a similar fight but a conversation.
  • Ranmaru from Tokkô has to do this after an encounter with Taishi results in him losing control of his phantom.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Keima Katsuragi has some of the most extreme (and funny) wars in his head over various video game related subjects. One involved an enormous space war complete with Mobile Suit Gundam and Star Wars references, fought by armies of himself. Though it's probably his imagination.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 2 episode 38, the Supermen go into Careless S.'s mind to get rid of some extra CPUs that have been installed in him and are making him more annoying to them than helpful. The episode's climax has them fighting the CPUs, which are represented as Palette Swaps of Careless S.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • The Human Target (2021) features an issue of what on the surface is Christopher Chance sitting down for a civil dinner with Martian Manhunter, mixed with a quietly intense and rather trippy psychic battle. Chance is investigating a murder mystery where J'onn is a suspect, and as J'onn is aware of it, he invokes his telepathy on Chance and triggers his various traumatic memories to get him to back off. However, we learn through these memories that Chance had already been trained how to resist it by a psychic from Titan (the same place of origin as Saturn Girl), and he ends up finding information he needs anyway by prying into J'onn's memories, including his secret affair with Fire of Justice League International. During all of this, Chance is passing the salt.
    • The Reboot version of the Legion of Super-Heroes had a memorable one, when Saturn Girl enters Shrinking Violet's mind to help her free herself of the control of the cursed Emerald Eye of Ekron, which is using her body to attack the rest of the team.
    • Superman:
      • In Demon Spawn, Supergirl and one-time villain Nightflame fight into Supergirl's mind an illusory, hellish psychic landscape called Innerverse that represents Supergirl's dark side.
        Finally, the drama within her reaches a fever pitch... thoughts are pushed and pulled back and forth within her mind at ever-increasing speed... and, at last, the landscape can take no more and erupts with fantastic fury...
      • In Superman Family #206: Strangers at the Heart's Core, Kara fights her old nemesis Lesla-Lar, who is trying to take over her mind. The battle takes place in Supergirl's head.
      • During the Red Daughter of Krypton storyline, an enemy called Sheko invades Supergirl’s mind to read her memories and judge her, but a memory of Supergirl's mother Alura stops her and forces her out of her daughter's mind.
      • In The Third Kryptonian, the villain Amalak uses a mind-probe to invade Superman's mind and discover Kandor's location. However, Superman's strong-willed enough to fight back, and he's even able to exploit the mind-link to figure out why Amalak hates Kryptonians.
      • In The Jungle Line, Superman gets infected with Bloodmorel spores which cause, among other things, terrible hallucinations. Swamp Thing finds Superman lying unconscious, goes into his mind to help him and finds him fighting nightmare monsters. At the beginning, Superman mistakes him for another enemy, but Swamp Thing convinces him that he is a friend, and he must stop fighting if he wants to beat the disease.
      • In Adventures of Supergirl, Psi tries to throw Supergirl into a neverending sleep by trapping her in an endless maze of nightmares, dream battles and utopian fantasies. Supergirl fights off and rejects illusion after illusion until she manages to find Psi, and demands to be released.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: "The Dream of a Lifetime", Donald has to fight the Beagle Boys in Uncle Scrooge's dreams before the Boys find out the combination to Scrooge's vault.
  • Issue 8 of Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist has this with Hans Zarkov.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Avengers: The series played with this one in the 2001 annual, involving Hank Pym's separate personalities (Goliath, the cold unfeeling reason, and Yellowjacket, the impulsive showoff) who hated each other's guts getting dumped into a psychic landscape that was supposed to represent the original's mind after they were physically separated into two people in the real world. Initially, they started fighting for control, even trying to force Janet (who was back together with him at the time) to choose which one would live. Only after they both accepted the previously ignored third aspect (the human combination of both) were they put back together, keeping him from dying.
    • The Incredible Hulk: During Paul Jenkins' run on Hulk (1999), one of Bruce Banner's Hulk personalities, the 'Beast', a near-mindless monster, threatens to take over completely, so Bruce journeys into his mind and recruits the three main Hulks — Savage Hulk, Joe Fixit, and the Professor — to defeat it on his/their home turf.
    • Immortal Hulk:
      • The Absolute Carnage tie-in is one of these... sort of. A symbiote is trying to take over the Hulk, but finds its way stymied by Bruce's unique split-personality, as Bruce and some of the Hulks debate what to do. Again, sort of — Bruce is the only one interested in talking, the Savage Hulk would rather yell at Bruce over his failed relationship with Betty Ross, Joe Fixit's more concerned with his looks, and Devil Hulk thinks what's going on is a waste of their time.
      • Issues 38 and 39 have some Hulks up against the Leader. It doesn't go well when the Leader takes the form of Brian Banner. Savage Hulk attacks Devil Hulk, who is trying to protect Bruce, allowing the Leader to tear him to shreds and make off with Bruce.
    • Spider-Man:
      • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Ben Reilly, taken over by the Carnage symbiote as Spider-Carnage, fights it within his mindscape for control of his body.
      • Superior Spider-Man #9 features a showdown between Otto Octavius and Peter Parker, who, after his death in Ock's body in The Amazing Spider-Man (Dan Slott) #700, exists as a 'ghost' in his own body via all his memories given consciousness. Otto begins to purge Peter's memories through one of his devices in order to get rid of him, but Peter fights back, forcing Otto to go in and eliminate Peter himself from his brain. Otto is victorious and wipes Peter from his mind. Or at least he believe this...
        • Averted in their rematch. Peter is ready for round two, but Otto simply gives up instead of fighting.
      • Again, more later, in Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy. Peter has regained his body and Otto needs to return to his old body (cloned by the Jackal). Thanks to the fact that his cloned body comes complete with Peter's memories, Doc Ock hops back in and battles Peter for control and wins.
    • Thunderstrike: When Eric is possessed by the Bloodaxe, he battles its personification on the psychic plane before it completely takes him over, though it costs him his life.
    • X-Men:
      • The first encounter between Charles Xavier and the Shadow King was one of these. From the point of view of everyone around them, it was two men glaring at one another across a restaurant, until one of them just slumps over dead, Charles having blasted Amahl Farouk to pieces.
      • The only way to save a person infected by the Brood is to kill the parasite's mind; unless you are a very good telepath you won't be able to save yourself. Heroic Resolve won't solve the matter — it is necessary for the help to be able to arrive in time in the first place. (Or, you need to be Wolverine. Or Rogue with Wolverine nearby.)
    • X-23 is drawn into one in The Killing Dream. A demon attempting to recruit Laura to his service tells her that as a clone she has no soul. When she refuses and denies this accusation he fatally wounds Julian to force her hand, offering to spare him if she accepts a place as leader of his armies. Laura once again denies him, so the demon offers her another option: Prove him wrong. When she agrees to this the demon drags her into a hellish landscape within her own mind, presenting her with images of all the death she has caused and will yet cause to break her will. However Laura encounters her inner self, who reveals that she wasn't born an emotionless killing machine but that it took the conscious effort of the Facility to break her. This revelation, and the memory she is shown of defying her orders to spare the young son of Martin Sutter (actually the son of one of her creators, Zander Rice, through an affair with Sutter's wife) when sent to kill the entire Sutter family, shows Laura she is more than just a weapon and gives her the power to escape the demon's influence, saving both herself and Julian.
  • PS238: The villain of the Las Vegas arc attempts to use her Touch Telepathy to Mind Control Zodon, leading to this. When Julie touches them she gets sucked into the battle too. This turns out to be a turning point for her: her own buried self-confidence shows up and gives her a pep talk, allowing her to not only help Zodon win the fight but finally get over her issues with her generic power set and embrace her heroic destiny.
  • Scott Pilgrim: The final battle is like this. A part of Ramona still wants to be with Gideon. All the other parts want to beat the crap out of him, though.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation comic Perchance to Dream, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is forced to infect himself with an alien telepathic weapon known as the Chova that has already infected most of the Enterprise crew; based on past records of the Chova's use, it can be defeated by those with multiple personality disorder, as multiple personalities would overwhelm the Chova due to it only being able to attack one personality at a time, rendering it inert so that the cure can be passed on to others. Picard is selected due to a detailed mind-meld with Sarek, the probe that gave him the memories of Kamin, and his traumatic experience being assimilated by the Borg. When the Chova infects Picard, the four personalities are able to defeat the Chova, but Locutus attempts to take control of Picard's body for himself, forcing the other three to band together and overwhelm Locutus before he can destroy them.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Star Wars: Legacy features a power struggle of two Sith Lords in each other's minds. Lightsaber fights are blank compared to what they can achieve in that state.
    • Star Wars InfinitiesThe Empire Strikes Back: Yoda uses his powers to make Darth Vader confront his sins — which means having to fight spectral copies of Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and potentially other Jedi whom he killed during his rise to power. Vader wins, and kills Yoda.

    Fan Works 
  • Because Mind Rape was a staple of Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, fanfics tends to break out this one quite often. Red Witch's Down the Dark Path plays it straight after Shane was tortured with the Mindnet. Isn't Life Strange and Chrysalis use it as well. Subverted in those fics as the Rangers affected lose — badly. It's played straight in both later, though.
  • While journeying into Socrates' mind to repair a faulty transmitter chip in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series, the protagonists find it along with his dark side, who then fights Hobbes. It's a somewhat downplayed example, as the emphasis isn't on the battle but rather Calvin and Andy trying to repair the chip.
  • Happens twice, technically, in Catch Your Breath:
    • When the Three Tails was sealed into her, one of Kei's split personalities was fighting him (to stop him from escaping), Kei herself was fighting the Mind Control seal Madara put inside her, while the second split personality was controlling the body and fighting external threats.
      Kei — the Dreamer — says, "Running interference. The compulsion affects the dominant personality — the kunoichi you both know. She is stalling. As for the Tailed Beast, the Three-Tails activates hindbrain impulses toward destruction and rage in order to weaken the seal, personified and confronted by Id. I am neither, and have been forced to act in their stead until the situation can be resolved."
    • OR Battle in the Collective Centre of Nine Minds as the shared Tailed Beast mindskype could be called — where Shukaku and Isobu have their (mock) fight.
  • The Final Battle of Child of the Storm climaxes with one of these when Chthon attempts to possess Harry. Though calling it a "battle" is a stretch, as once Harry's parents (Lily manifesting through the Phoenix) arrive and help him see through Chthon's lies, Harry burns Chthon out of his mind and reality.
    • Chapter 2 of Ghosts of the Past features Harry getting into two of these with Voldemort. The first is merely written as a psychic duel, which Harry has an early edge in due to raw power, until Voldemort counters with much more skill, and his willingness to use Harry's friends as leverage (meaning that Harry has to hold back). Later, Harry enters the Mental World Voldemort is controlling his People Puppets from, and stops holding back, forcing Voldemort to retreat.
    • Harry and Rachel Grey/Maddie Pryor get into another, pretty epic one, in Chapters 9 and 10. Because they're fighting in the Nevernever, a region that amplifies and does funny things to psychic powers and magic, and since they're both Omega-class psychics, it causes a global scale Psychic Nosebleed effect, almost kills some elderly psychics, drives others mad, and results in a World Gone Mad in the part of the Nevernever where they're fighting.
  • The Final Battle in Children of an Elder God happens simultaneously in the mental and physical planes against the dead Outer Gods.
  • The Homestuck fanfic Darkness climaxes in John, who has gone utterly insane, fighting an Evil Twin. On the outside, of course, he's gone into a coma.
  • This is used in the DC Nation universe after Raven's attempt to restore some of Troia's lost memories end up getting Raven, Troia, Nightwing, Flash, and Arsenal in a brawl with Dark Angel, leading to one of Arsenal's best lines:
    Arsenal: All you're telling me is that I've pissed in your Cheerios more than once, and I did it beside Donna. Lemme tell you, those are two things that make me a very happy little camper... And hey, extra bonus for me at the end of it? I pissed you off when I didn't even mean to! Little ol' me. A guy. A dude. A very attractive but semi-normal human fleshbag. Man, I'm good.
  • The dwarven noble protagonist of Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns had more than one of these, twice against actual psychic attacks by the Archdemon. The latest one had rather severe consequences for both the prince and the whole world because the Old God actually evolved because of contact with the exile's Magnificent Bastard-level intelligence.
    • Kallian Tabris also goes through something like this at one point, only it's a projection of her soul, taking Faren's form (the dwarven commoner, her love interest), that does the actual fighting.
  • The Kim Possible fic "Equal Romance 02: Obscure Ways to Devotion" features Kim forced to use a combination of magic and technology to send herself into Ron's mind after he contracts malaria on a mission and is left in a coma, with his parents planning to pull the plug. Despite having recently been in an intense fight with Ron due to Out-of-Context Eavesdropping, Kim is able to see enough of Ron's memories to realise what he was really thinking, and is able to convince him to take a chance on life again, although she then has to apologise to him all over again as he doesn't remember what they experienced in his mind.
  • In the Facing the Future Series, under the influence of Vlad's Mind-Control Device, Danny has a battle in his subconscious with the manifestation of his ghost half. He's able to combat it using his subconscious before managing to get through to him. This results in him getting control of his True Ghost Form.
  • This happens in the climax of Getting Back on Your Hooves. After Checker Monarch's Engineered Public Confession, she snaps and casts a mind spell to trap Trixie and her friends in their worst nightmares in order to break them. Thanks to a lucid dreaming trick that Trixie taught them earlier, the girls are all able to see the flaws in the dreams and take control of them, before forcing the pieces of Checker's consciousness attacking them out. Said pieces fuse together and try to destroy them, but they easily defeat it. They then travel to Trixie's dream, where she's being attacked by the main part of Checker's mind, and give her the strength and encouragement she needs to fight back and finally defeat Checker.
  • A Growing Affection has a battle between Naruto and the Kyubi while Naruto is sedated by the Akatsuki and they are unraveling the seals on the demon. The weakening of the seals allow the Fox to create a clone/fragment that can slip through the cage and fight Naruto.
  • A big part of the fight with Future Cell in Honor Trip. Cell tries everything in his power, including Talking the Monster to Death, and harassing his captor by beat-boxing a taunt.
  • House of Summers: In the very first scene, Rachel Summers engages in a telepathic battle with Mastermind and Psylocke. Jean Grey joins to protect Rachel, and accidentally has a glimpse at her memories.
    Jean looked back at Rachel, torn between wanting to help, and respecting her friend's wish to go at it alone. But she could see that Rachel was breaking. She had mere moments left. She could die on the astral plane. She was not going to allow that to happen.
    ** I'm sorry, Rachel.** Jean said as she joined the psychic battle.
    ** No, stay out!** Rachel pleaded, practically begged. She erected walls around her mind that kept Jean out for merely a few seconds. The effort Rachel was exerting in the battle was too much to keep a telepath as powerful as Jean out.
    The physical world around her disappeared the moment Jean was able to break through into Rachel's mind. A flash of blinding light greeted her and what she saw brought her to her knees.
  • Imperfect Metamorphosis has (so far in the story) four characters sharing a same body because the jelly monster can absorb other characters. It doesn't help that one of them came with a Superpowered Evil Side. There is one between the host and the villain when the villain is discovered.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Shinji fights Leliel in an illusory dreamscape to save Asuka's mind.
  • In the Daria/Legion of Super Heroes (2006) crossover fanfic Legion of Lawndale Heroes, psi-active cadets at the Military School known as the United States Academy of Extranormal Studies, or 'USAES' , can receive certification in the Astral Special Tactical Response Operations (ASTRO) course for out-of-body and psionic combat. As part of their training, cadets learn how to create a specific 'mental persona' (much like a Patronus) to do mental combat in and manifest their powers during that combat.
  • In Lyrics of Sorrow, Soma fights Dracula to take back his mind while Julius and Chrono battle his body. He then has to take on Chaos once more.
  • Maria Campbell of the Astral Clocktower: Sirius, the spirit possessing Rafael, has trouble fighting Maria in the real world with Rafael's weak body, so it draws her into a dream world where it can manifest its full power as a monstrous Dark Spirit of pure rage and vengeance. Except Maria is a reincarnate from Bloodborne, this isn't the first time she's been in a Hunter's Dream, and now she has full access to her remembered power. Whoops.
  • Mike's New Ghostly Family: To claim his revenge against Mike Schmidt for giving his ghostly victims a happy ending and for giving Nightmare suggestions on how to worsen his tortures, William Afton, who Escaped from Hell and turned himself into Nightmare Springtrap, possessed Mike and entered his dreamscape to attack and mutilate his soul directly. However, since Mike was a lucid dreamer, he was able to fight back against William thanks to having a complete control over his world of dreams. Enough to make him unbeatable inside his mind and turn tables against the murderer before subjecting him to a Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • In The Mind of the Doctor, the Doctors battle against the dark side of them who has been freed by the War-Feeder.
  • Gekizetsu's series The Month of Open Doors begins with Supernatural's Dean Winchester locked in a room in his own mind by something. A rather strange battle in the centre of the mind plays out over the first arc, As Fools Shine On.
  • This happens to Han Solo in the Star Wars fic My All. In the fic it's a sequel to, Han was brutally tortured and raped. Somehow, his attacker seems to have transferred her essence into Han's body when Leia killed her. Han ends up having to battle it out inside his mind to not only get rid of her, but put his own struggle to rest. Luke uses a risky force technique to enter Han's mind, though Han kicks him out the first time. Luke is able to watch what is happening, but the fight is all up to Han.
  • The Party Never (or Hasn't) Ended features Twilight Sparkle having to help Pinkie Pie in one of these against Nightmare. Then Pinkie Pie helping Rainbow Dash. Then Pinkie Pie by herself. And it is awesome.
  • This happens a couple of times in the Pony POV Series:
    • First, during Pinkie Pie's reharmonizing chapter, Angry Pie (a Split Personality representing all of Pinkie's anger) attempts to pull a Split-Personality Takeover by absorbing all the other pieces of Pinkie's mind. Pinkie is only able to defeat Angry by performing a Split-Personality Merge with her Pinkamina personality and then forcing the merge on Angry as well.
    • This is also the conclusion of the Trixie storyline: Twilight enters Trixie's mind to free her of her discording, and is confronted by Trixie's Enemy Within, Loneliness, who fights her at every turn. Eventually, Twilight gets through to Trixie, who accepts her help, and together they destroy Loneliness.
    • This also pops up at the end of Bright Eyes' entry of the 7 Dreams/Nightmares collection: she's dragged into her Mental World by an entity claiming to be her Enemy Within Cruel Eyes, but is actually the Shadow of Discord's eldest brother D___t, who's trying to absorb her soul and potential concept in order to reconstitute himself. With the love of her friends and family, Bright Eyes is able to defeat D___t, being sure to destroy his Shadow even after mortally wounding him in order to make sure he stays gone.
  • Queen of All Oni: Throughout the story, we get glimpses inside of Jade's mind, where we watch as Hero (the Aspect representing Jade's heroic nature) gather together as many uncorrupted Aspects as he can into a La Résistance aimed at regaining control of Jade's mind from The Queen. They eventually launch an attack on the ship representing Jade's consciousness, but before Hero and The Queen can fight each other, the trope ends up being subverted — in the real world, Jade is captured by the Evil Sorcerer Lung, whose attempts to break Jade to his will end up driving her insane, which cause the mindscape to literally fall apart, forcing the Aspects to focus on their own survival. When Jade's mind is restored, The Queen captures Hero, ensuring her continued dominance of Jade's mind, until the main story's Final Battle, when Father (the Aspect representing Jackie's influence) leads the remaining uncorrupted Aspects against the Queen and Paranoia (the Aspect representing Jade's Sanity Slippage).
  • In Sixes and Sevens, Kenneth Crichton can use his vampiric connection with Emily to enter her mind and manipulate her, but eventually Emily realizes the link goes both ways and she can enter his mind instead. This leads to a confrontation where they both attack each other, and while she's bitten again she also subdues him and scares him off.
  • Kind of happens in A Spark of Genius. Boston Brand finds Xander meditating at Rama Kushna's temple and has no idea who he is. Instead of appearing before him and, you know, asking, he decides the only way he could figure out who he is is by going into his mind and reading his memories. Boston promptly gets sucked into Xander's mind, wherein his many personalities take turns kicking his ass. The goddess herself has to intervene and take away Boston's memories of Xander, or else Xander would have actually killed him.
  • In The Swarm of War, the Overmind has one against Ahzek Ahriman. Turns out, even one of the most powerful psychics in the galaxy cannot match a world spanning Hive Mind.
  • Tales of a Reset Mind: Part Nine is about Nico and his emotions fighting against the creatures that escaped from the Subconscious.
  • Tales of the Otherverse: When Kara falls into a coma during the "A World Without Heroes" arc, Prof. Xavier goes into her mind to try to piece it back together.
    Softly at first, then with more confidence, Xavier allowed his thoughts to merge with Kara's. When the storm hit, it took him by surprise. Gasping with surprise, he gripped his chair as the storm of Kara's emotions rushed over him, threatening to drag him down.
    Xavier anchored himself, assuring that, despite the violence of Kara's emotions, he would be able to return to himself. He then took the mental equivalent of a deep breath and plunged in.
    He was no stranger to Kara's mind. After her initial resurrection, he had spent hours working with her, many times without her knowledge. Attempting to ease the merger between body and soul. Though in his case, he preferred to think of it as a merger of body and mind.
    Images swirled around him in a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns as he swam through the turmoil, attempting to reach the core of her being. Each mentalist had his or her own method of perceiving thoughts. In his case, he translated those thoughts into images and sounds. From his own perspective, he was physically swimming through a sea of chaos.
  • Thousand Shinji:
    • Shinji and Asuka fight Leliel together in the psychic plane.
    • Asuka's battle against Arael consists of Asuka putting up her psychic shields and barriers up while Arael blows them apart, and trying to endure the mental onslaught until she is able to blow the monster up in the physical plane.
  • Tower of Babel: Kainé and Tyrann eventually end up fighting each other over the control of Kainé's body.
  • True Potential: In order to release Yagura from Tobi's control, Naruto has to travel inside his mind and fight an avatar of Tobi, as well as the Sanbi.
  • Chapter 12 of Unbreakable Red Silken Thread provides an almost literal case where Heather is forced to contend with her old former self in the guise of her mother. To say she had a negative impact on Heather would be an understatement.
  • Variant Strain has Peter doing this against Hank.
  • In The Weaver Option the intense training and mental conditioning of the Callidus Temple suppresses the original personality of Sophia Hess and replaces her with the loyal Elena Kerrigan. However on hearing that Taylor Hebert is alive and famous, Sophia's personality is awakened by her pure rage and the two minds end up fighting it out. Sophia loses, badly, but Elena is stopped from killing her as that would kill their soul as well; instead the two are fused into one mind.
  • In What If... Wanda Cast The No Way Home Spell?, after Wanda helps Peter confront the Green Goblin, she engages in one to enter Norman Osborn's mind, luring out the side of his personality that's truly Norman and then forcing back the Goblin aspect (personified in the mind as an actual goblin rather than just Norman's usual body or someone in a suit).
  • In the Doctor Who fanfiction Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, Rose is kidnapped and Mind Raped by aliens who want to use the remnant of the Time Vortex in her mind. To prevent them from finding the information they need, she rips apart her mind from the inside out. The aliens, instead of giving up, sort through the rubble (described as a beach, each grain of sand being a memory) for months. Too bad they forgot to figure out how to control the time energy once they released it.
  • In With this Ring... (Green Lantern), Hector Hammond is so engrossed in attempting to crush Hal Jordan inside a telekinetic cage that he doesn't realize he's broadcasting telepathically. Realizing Hammond has created a mindlink to his unprotected mind, Hal uses his Ring to turn himself into psychic energy, speeds up the mindlink before Hammond can shut it, and knocks the mentalist out.
    He concentrated on compressing the green walls about his foe, and withdrew his telepathic extrusion...
    ...or tried to.
    Again, Hector Hammond tried to close down his mind link. It could not be done. The thing remained open, like a telephone that couldn't be hung up, or a pipeline open at both ends.
    The metaphor hit him like a tidal wave and he tried to shut everything down. Too late.
    First the Lantern was in the cage, then he was out of it. Hammond saw the walls collapse beyond what a cockroach could have comfortably fit into.
    Then he felt a pressure in his own mind. A pressure which rivalled any to which he had subjected a foe. The mentalist's defenses went into operation, but it was a bit late. After all, when an enemy has transformed his body into an analogue of mental energy and sped up the telepathic pipe into your mind, such an action is closing the gate once the horse has bolted.
    A flash of green light permeated his mind.
    Hector Hammond slumped even more in his chair, completely and totally unconscious.
  • With This Ring:
    • Through using magical LSD, the Paragon gets into Black Adam's mind and intervenes in a showdown between Theodore Adam and Teth Adom, with the winner to get the gods' blessing and the loser to have their soul eaten.
    • The Renegade doesn't intervene immediately, but comes back almost a year later to find the two personalities in constant conflict, the body practically helpless yet not unconscious. With Circe's help, he enters the mindscape, stabs the avatar of Theodore Adam through the torso, and Circe seals Theodore away.
  • The World of the Creatures takes place in the mind of the author/protagonist. It acts as the setting for a Massive Multiplayer Crossover Fic where various characters from different franchises face off against an idea-eating monster.
  • An interesting version occurs in You Obey, where it is the protagonist who initiates the battle.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Thousand Year Door, Diana has a small battle in the center of her soul to free herself from the Shadow Queen's Mind control.
  • Multiple battles occur in the Death Note fanfic Zenith, Darkness, Reverie, as the protagonist and Kira attempt to determine which personality should be granted control of the body, the Death Note, and, by extension, the world.

    Films — Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree: Twilight Sparkle is plagued for the whole movie by Midnight Sparkle, her Enemy Within remnant from the previous movie. She's scared of using her newfound telekinetic power, in case it could free her. At the climax of the movie, Twilight finally faces and defeats Midnight Sparkle inside her mindscape with the support of her friends, taking control of her magic for good.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the psychedelic western Renegade (a.k.a. Blueberry) based on the graphic novel, the hero takes peyote and gets into a spirit battle with the villain. The forces of good are golden reptiles, while the evil side are black bugs. After defeating the villain, the hero watches a recreation of a forgotten tragedy and comes to terms with it.
  • The Cell, in which Jennifer Lopez has to unravel the enigma of a serial killer's mind from within.
  • In the film of Dreamcatcher, one of the characters is possessed by an alien being. In his mind, he locks himself in a warehouse of his memories and tries to bar the alien presence from getting inside.
  • Dredd shows why it's not a bright idea for a random, untrained person to try their luck fighting an actual psychic like this. Anderson enters Kay's mental world to interrogate him, during which he tries to first kill her, then rape her. Both attempts fail, and she has a projection of his boss castrate him with her teeth.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix makes good use of this in sequences throughout, especially at the end when Voldemort's duel with Dumbledore results in a draw and he attempts to possess Harry. Voldemort imprints Harry with the memories of all the loved ones he has seen die by that point at Voldemort's hands, before Harry turns it back on him by noting that he truly pities him for his inability to feel love or the joy of friendship.
  • In Hero (2002), Magistrate Nameless makes a show of attempting to arrest Long Sky at a Chess Court in his prefecture. They pause mid-fight, Nameless paying the resident (blind) GuQin master to continue playing. This he does, as they fight out the remainder of the battle in their minds. When he breaks his instrument with the sheer intensity of his playing, the fight plays out for real and Nameless defeats Sky in a matter of seconds.
  • Inception is built around this trope. Virtually the entire plot takes place inside a dream, battling defensive figments called 'projections' while trying to plant the Idea in the subject's mind. To make things worse, the specter of the protagonist's dead wife haunts his steps.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, Chloe invades Ellic's mind to cut off the spell he's chanting and they have a literal knife fight in the middle of his memories. Justified by Your Mind Makes It Real.
  • From the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, a cyberspace variant occurs shortly after Ultron wakes up and he and J.A.R.V.I.S. have a software war, complete with dueling code. A rematch of sorts happens in the third act when Vision first clashes with Ultron and Vision cuts off Ultron's access to the Internet, trapping him in his physical form.
    • In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, 838-Xavier goes deep into 838-Wanda's mind to free her from 616-Wanda's control. Sadly, it doesn't end well for him; 616-Wanda wins with a Jump Scare amidst a self-made cloud of red mist behind him and snaps his neck... and the poor professor also has his neck snapped at the same time in real life.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion: In the climax of the final film, Shinji and Gendo have a mental battle in the Golgotha Object in the Anti-Universe, represented as two Toku actors on stage, also fighting in familiar settings like the classroom and Misato's apartment.
  • In Revolver (2005), Jake — who has claustrophobia — battles his ego when he gets trapped in an elevator. What follows is a scene that looks straight out of the last episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows features an example similar to Hero: When Holmes and Moriarty have completed a game of chess and Holmes reveals the full extent of the damage he's done to Moriarty's ambitions, Moriarty walks up to him in full Tranquil Fury, pausing to give Holmes a last light on his pipe. As this happens, Holmes begins a Sherlock Scan to analyze the fight that's going to start in a moment and make his plan of attack, only for Moriarty to smile at him and continue the analysis; both play out the complete battle in their heads, and both foresee an inevitable No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that results in Moriarty beating Holmes to death and throwing him off the balcony. With no situation in which he can defeat Moriarty and both of them well aware of it, Holmes goes for the one thing Moriarty didn't predict in their mental battle; a Taking You with Me attack.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse:
    • There is a psychic slug-fest between Professor X and Apocalypse. The latter is clearly the stronger one, able to both fight physical opponents and Xavier's mind attacks in real time.
    • There is another one between Jean Grey and Apocalypse which is resolved quickly and is followed by a telekinesis battle, which is over almost as fast.

  • The standoff with the Volturi in Breaking Dawn can be interpreted as this, as Bella uses her vampiric ability to block out powers to protect Cullen allies from Jane's ability to telepathically cause pain to others.
  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Ghosts II: This occurs in Soul Survivor, where the ghostly narrator and the man who initially allowed him to stay begin fighting for total control of "their" body.
  • In Daystar and Shadow, Robin's fight against a Mind Probe involves hiding in a cave inside his mind and trying to block it off with bricks, while the probe is represented by fire. Robin and the probe attack each other with various weapons and animals, with Robin receiving psychic assistance from Shadow.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • Thud!: When Commander Vimes is chosen as the Summoning Dark's champion, its attempts to take him over are represented as it entering a city (Vimes's mind) and being thrown out by a Watchman, representing the bit of Vimes that watches himself: the Guarding Dark.
    • This shows up in A Hat Full of Sky, where the Nac Mac Feegle help Tiffany confront the hiver that's taken over her body by luring it into the part of her mindscape where she's most powerful, a mental representation of her home country.
    • Granny Weatherwax has a moment like this in Carpe Jugulum. (Vimes and Granny have a lot in common...)
    • Rincewind has a Hissy Fit In The Center Of The Mind in The Light Fantastic, when he berates the Great Spells of the Octavo for ruining his life, and he later subdues the Eighth Spell by figuratively hauling it out of hiding within his psyche.
  • The Doctor Who New Adventures novel Timewyrm: Revelation by Paul Cornell is largely set inside the Doctor's mind, which is under attack from the Timewyrm. Different parts of the Doctor's mind are looked after by five of the six past Doctors (Sixth isn't there for reasons we learn later), and there's an area where the six "embryonic" personalities of Doctors-to-come wait to be born.
  • Dandra and Tetkashtai get one during the climactic battle of the second book in The Dragon Below trilogy. Though it is less of an invader vs. invaded than two splinters of one personality duking it out to see which will be dominant.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Lasciel was doing a pretty good job of screwing with Harry Dresden until he realized that even a fallen angel, or rather the copy of one, is at his mercy when it's in his head. Pwnage ensued.
    • Also Harry vs. Leonid Kravos, slugging it out in Harry's dreamscape at the end of Grave Peril.
    • Molly fights an epic one against the Corpsetaker in Ghost Story. Apparently, the center of Molly's mind looks like the bridge of the 1960s Enterprise, complete with a crew of Mollies wearing miniskirt uniforms and mimicking the behavior of the original characters and an epic fighting music soundtrack. There's even one wearing a Red Shirt!
      • Not to mention the miles of incomprehensibly intricate battlefield outside of the bridge. The fact that Corpsetaker gave up attempting outmaneuvers and just started smashing everything until she overpowered Molly says a lot about how good Molly is at this illusion stuff.
    • In Cold Days, we see Harry get into several of these, including one with Mab's boss which, if he lost, would mean his execution. And another when he battles against Sharkface, an Outsider.
  • In The Elric Saga story The Blood Red Game, humans and their allies escape an imploding universe and want to settle in another. When they do, they encounter aliens. Said aliens would issue a Curb-Stomp Battle in a physical fight, but they agree to play their "Blood Red Game" — which is this trope — to allow humans to settle. Losers become catatonic or insane.
  • George R. R. Martin's "The Glass Flower" has pretty much turned this whole concept into a story. He calls it 'the game of mind'.
  • In the final book of Grey Knights trilogy, Alaric fights a battle for his soul with a daemon while trapped in his mind, which the daemon has already taken over. He ends it by Taking You with Me, but survives.
  • The Novel Guild Wars: Edge of Destiny has an interesting example. After being engaged in a fight with the Eldritch Abomination Kralkatorrik, Snaff enters the dragon's mind to prepare it for the Finishing Move and finds himself in a raging storm (a metaphor for Kralkatorrik's anger). He eventually manages to calm the beast and leave it behind in a catatonic state making it vulnerable to an attack. However, they failed anyway.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Voldemort decides to jump into Harry's mind during his battle with Dumbledore to try and get Dumbledore to kill Harry. Harry's first realization that he's been possessed is described as "He was gone from the hall, he was locked in the coils of a creature with red eyes, so tightly bound that Harry did not know where his body ended and the creature's began: they were fused together, bound by pain, and there was no escape." the pain of his grief for Sirius' recent death — or, more specifically, The Power of Love — eventually drives Voldemort out.
  • In the climax of I Sit Behind The Eyes, Emily and the Entity possessing her clash souls, conjuring up images from Emily's imagination to fight with. The strength of their emotions affects the power of their attacks. However, as Emily is secretly The Sociopath, she can not summon any genuine emotion, rendering her attacks utterly useless. Her soul is also extremely fragile, allowing the Entity to destroy it with one blow.
  • Something like this is a major form of combat in the Inheritance Cycle. Various magic users battle each other by attempting to break into each other's minds, then using this to predict what the opponent will do and countering it.
  • In Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch (Series), the battle for dominance between Vampires apparently works like this. To an outsider, however, it looks like a glorified staring contest.
  • In On Stranger Tides, the confrontation between sorcerers Leo Friend and Benjamin Hurwood concludes when the former attempts to re-write his own memories to bolster his own self-confidence, and therefore his power. The latter undermines his enemy's attempt to rewrite history in his own mind, crushing his opponent's psyche by exaggerating his recollection of a traumatic humiliating event.
  • How Rob of An Outcast in Another World interprets his own struggles to keep Leveling High in check. Whenever it attempts to overtly influence him, Rob’s struggles to resist its temptations are imagined as him physically assaulting the mental construct until it’s beaten into submission and quiets down.
  • Pilgrennon's Children: In Pilgrennon's Beacon, Dana uses her Brain/Computer Interface to play a VR game that most people need a headset for. She fights the evil supercomputer Cerberus, which runs the game, drawing on her most horrible experiences to force two of the heads to kill each other and contaminate the third with her humanity.
  • The ally-assisted version was used in the book Prince Of The Sidhe, when King Aedh of Eiru (Ireland) gets drugged by the book's villain. We see Aedh's mindscape (which is just as confused as he is), and get things from his point of view when the titular character comes to Aedh's assistance in his own unique fashion.
  • Julia spends most of The Ragwitch trying to find a way to make some headway Fighting from the Inside the titular monster. Towards the end, this culminates in a real battle when she, Lyssa, and the personalities of the king and the original witch who was subsumed into the Ragwitch fight for continued existence after the Ragwitch finally realizes that Julia hasn't been as helpless as she thought. A dragon and hordes of mooks are involved.
  • The Riftwar Cycle - Magician: Tomas, one of the main characters, finds a suit of cursed armor that fuses him with a godlike being, who wants to repulse the invaders (Tsuranii). Said godlike being was one of a race that created the bloody elves as their personal slaves, to the point that an elf can't disobey any word said in their language, and who are fiercely protective of their world. Now, if Tomas standing in the middle of a storm of pure mental fury from a dragonlord whilst quietly saying, "I am Tomas" isn't an incredibly badass version of this, nothing is.
    • That "godlike being" is actually a Dragon Lord, or Valheru as the elves call them. They weren't really godlike, as they all got slaughtered except onenote  when they challenged the Lesser Gods of Midkemianote  during the Chaos Wars, but they're still far more powerful than any human or elf except the highest levels of magician.
  • In Up Jim River from the Spiral Arm series, the scarred man suffers a mental breakdown caused by conflict between his ten split personalities and ends up fighting a battle in his mind. Nine of his personalities team up to destroy the tenth, which was suicidal and trying to cause the scarred man to die.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation Mirror Universe novel Dark Mirror by Diane Duane, Deanna's mental defenses are represented by children's building blocks (when she was being taught to use her powers she heard the term "mental block" and misunderstood). The mirror-universe Deanna batters ineffectively against these blocks, while our Deanna calmly walks into her opponent's mind as though it was her own, because unlike her counterpart, she can admit that, in a way, it is.
  • The Star Wars Legends Darth Bane novels use one of these to settle the legacy of the Sith. The inevitable battle between Bane and Zannah takes place when he tries to take over her mind. While Bane was better with the saber than Zannah was, she proved a superior sorceress. There is still a small trace of him left in her, though.
    • Chronologically much later, in the New Jedi Order novel Reunion, Jedi Knight Tahiri gets sucked into one of these by her Enemy Within, an artificially implanted Yuuzhan Vong personality who is trying to pull a Split-Personality Takeover on her. It turns out that neither of them can win, since they've become so tightly linked that destroying one would destroy the other; to save their sanity, they end up doing a Split-Personality Merge instead. The whole thing is represented as a sort of really trippy lightsaber duel with injuries carrying over to both combatants.
  • The ending of Robert Sheckley's The Status Civilization involves one of these. The Earth civilization brainwashes children to make them responsible members of society — and this brainwashing includes strong urge to report on oneself in case of committing a crime (or even being in a situation where you can be a suspect) and to commit suicide in case these lessons are ever remembered consciously. Barrent was sent to Omega because he confessed in a crime he never committed, returned to the Earth and had to fight these old urges that took form of the worst memories he got from Omega.
  • The climax of the second book in The Traitor Son Cycle has the ghost of Harmodius break into the mind palace of enemy sorcerer. The two duke it out there and eventually Harmodius kills Aeskepiles' soul and takes over the body.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: In the Marie Route Alternate Timeline, there's an attempt at Demonic Possession of Marie by a Vengeful Ghost in her sleep, portrayed as taking place within a dream. Once Marie is fully alert to the threat, it looks like Marie is turning into a Humanoid Abomination in her dream... only for Marie to let out a spoiled cry for her Knight Templar Big Brother to help her, and for him to come in with Glowing Eyes of Doom and kick the intruder out using a baseball bat.
  • Any fight scene in the Unwoven Literary Universe due to the premise.
  • In Very Bad Deaths, an oversensitive telepath is forced to confront a serial killer. Despite only one of them having psychic powers, this is a genuine battle, as Alan's thoughts are so vile as to be weaponized.
  • In Void City, Squidly, the sentient Soul Jar of Empress Vampire Lisette, attempts to invade Greta's mind. Greta defeats it by calling up a mental image of her adoptive father Eric, whom she hero-worships and who is invincible in her mind.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 Imperial Guard novel Cadian Blood, Seth in a Last Stand against a daemon. When the daemon kills him, he dies laughing and saying the look at the daemon's face made the fight worth it.
  • This happens several times in The Witchlands, as Esme tries to break into Iseult's mind to steal some information and Iseult attempts to resist, usually by forming a shield made of a multiplication table. Nevertheless, Esme usually wins.
  • In the sixth Young Wizards book, the autistic wizard-to-be Darryl is subjected to this constantly - his "Ordeal" (a battle with the Lone Power to prove fitness as a wizard) has gone on for three months. The reason for this is that he's an abdal, a physical embodiment of God's power, and the Lone Power (Satan) fears the amount of power he'd have if he did make it as a wizard. Eventually Nita and Kit get into the kid's head to help him break the cycle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100 has this occur after Josephine's mind is implanted in Clarke's body, the two fighting in a "mindspace" made up of each other's memories and populated by avatars of their own subconscious worries. The twist is that, since Josephine's mind is stored on a backup drive, even if Clarke kills her inside the mindspace, she can just re-upload herself, good as new, whereas if Josephine kills Clarke, Clarke's dead for good. Though, if the battle continues long enough, it will cause enough brain damage to kill Clarke's body, taking them both down with it.
  • Throughout Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Angel is presented as struggling with the vampire instincts of Angelus, the vampire demon who terrorised Europe for over a century before gypsies cursed him by restoring his soul and putting Angel in control of their shared body. The episode "Orpheus" features Angelus (temporarily back in control after the curse was broken) being trapped in a mystical coma while Angel's allies are attempting to restore Angel's soul, which results in Angelus encountering an aspect of Angel in their shared mind, the two subsequently engaging in battle with this shared observation;
    I've been waiting a long time for this.
  • Used in the penultimate episode of the Shadow War arc for Babylon 5. As the tide of the battle begins to turn in the younger races' favor, Telepath Lyta Alexander gets used by the both the Shadows and Vorlons to mentally assault Sheridan and Delenn with their racial philosophies.
  • In Blindspot, in episode 4.09 "Check your Ed", to avoid terrorist-old-personality-before-the-mindwipe "Remi" from taking over instead of newly-constructed-FBI-agent-personality "Jane", the team resorts to a technobabbly method which results in "Remi" fighting with "Jane" inside their shared brain via flashbacks, metaphors, gunfire, explosions, a zombie version of Remi's dead brother Roman and imagined versions of the team members providing support. In the end, her personalities merge and she keeps all her memories in her "good" identity.
  • Diablero: In season two, Lupe engages Keta in one in order to teach her how to use her full power as the avatar of Coatlicue.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Deadly Assassin", the Doctor and the Master tap into The Matrix (a psychic computation matrix) and have a battle of the wills—the landscape in the Matrix is created by their brainwaves, so the Master can basically create an entire world through his will and makes the Doctor suffer various tortures in it, nearly killing him.
    • In "The Three Doctors", the Third Doctor and Omega have a mental battle in which Omega is represented by a goblin-like creature.
    • "Nightmare in Silver", where the Doctor and Mr. Clever battle for full control of the mind, although they use a physical game of chess in place of a psychic battle.
    • There's one of these going on throughout "Asylum of the Daleks". Oswin Oswald was converted into a Dalek like the rest of her crew, but she was able to resist the brainwashing that came with it. All her scenes in her escape pod take place in her head, and the Daleks trying to break in is actually the Dalek programming trying to make her mentally into a Dalek. The Carmen music and the souffles are her reasserting her humanity.
  • Farscape made this into an art form with John's confrontations with Harvey-Scorpius. This resulted in one of the best episodes anywhere ever: a Looney Tunes style cartoon showdown, including all the old favorites (painting a wormhole on a wall only for someone to drive through it...).
  • Frasier: In the second part of "Don Juan in Hell", Frasier conjures up Lilith, Diane, Nanette and his mother who battle each other for Frasier's affections. Frasier realizes that they're all responsible for his inability to stick with relationships, even with women perfect for him.
  • Gotham Knights (2023): Harvey fights his alternate self for control over his body in "Poison Pill" while they meet inside of Harvey's imaginary office, and he wins... for now.
  • Highlander: The Series' Duncan MacLeod has two of these:
    • The first one while under the effects of a "Dark Quickening", between his noble self and the evil he has absorbed through centuries of beheading evil immortals.
    • The second one against the demon Ahriman.
  • The finale of Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger features this, as the body-surfing Creator of Worlds has possessed Kaito at the time Kaito finally confronts him.
  • Legion (2017):
    • David and Farouk's first proper meeting in season 2 eventually results in a playful fight in which the two of them literally wrestle for supremacy inside David's mind. Farouk escalates by drawing a katana out of nowhere, David escalates by transforming into a tank, Farouk escalates again by becoming a tornado, and the two are eventually forced to end it on a draw.
    • In the season 2 finale, David and Farouk (back in his own body at last) engage in a full-blown psychic duel that sees their minds clash as giant ghostly figures on the horizon. Initially, they fight with swords, flails, spears, and rocket launchers, but in a matter of seconds, it turns into a Shapeshifter Showdown featuring dinosaurs, fighter planes, sharks, tentacled monsters, cyclopes, and giant spiders.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" has the main characters enter Kryten's subconscious to help him fight off a computer virus.
    • In "Terrorform" when the crew face off with Rimmer's self-loathing monster and later when Rimmer's resurrected self-confidence defeats his inner demons, saving the crew.
  • Power Rangers:
    • During Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, Tommy spent several episodes stuck his Ranger suit, then unable to turn his invisibility power off so that his actor could visit his family. His first episode back involved him becoming visible again, but putting himself into a coma in the process. He then had to fight his previous Ranger identities. After barely getting past Zeo Ranger 5 and the White Ranger, he had his ass thoroughly kicked by the Green Ranger, but still refused to quit — at which point they allowed him to wake up and restored his Dino Gem into the bargain.
    • A similar example happens in Power Rangers Jungle Fury, where RJ struggles to control his newly-awakened wolf spirit and keeps turning into a werewolf as a result. After fully becoming the Wolf Ranger and just when he thinks he's finally in control, it happens again and it takes the other Rangers and Flit the fly to try and snap him out of it. This leads us into RJ's mind where he faces off against his werewolf self and wins.
  • Seinfeld: Jerry dates a girl who is extremely attractive, but with a terrible personality. He describes the process of deciding whether to break up with her as “my brain playing my penis in a chess game.” Subsequent scenes show two Jerrys in a brain and penis costume playing chess. The episode ends with the brain Jerry checkmating penis Jerry, and Jerry dumps the girl.
  • Happened a couple of times in Stargate Atlantis, memorable examples being Dr. Weir facing off with Oberon in her mind to allow her teammates to escape the other Replicators, Teyla fighting off the Wraith queen's attempts to probe her mind, and Sheppard fighting himself (sort of) in his own mind.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Warlord", the mind of a ruthless dictator forces itself into Kes, but she manages to fight him off mentally.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Frame of Mind", Riker seems to bounce between being aboard the Enterprise, preparing for a play about a man locked in a mental institution and scenes where he's actually living the character's experience, and his sense of which is real is constantly being challenged. It turns out that it was all an illusion, and he was sedated in an alien lab being mind probed the whole time; the illusions were his subconscious mind's way of processing what was happening, and his actions within these illusions were, in essence, his brain fighting back.
    • In season 3 of Star Trek: Picard, a new Soong-type android containing the minds of both Data and Lore inevitably comes to this. It is notably lacking in action, with Data surrendering and even handing over his memories to Lore. Said memories cause Lore to effectively become Data, just as Data intended.
  • Supernatural:
    • During the season six finale, the wall around Sam's memories of being in Lucifer's cage is destroyed, shattering his psyche into pieces — "normal Sam", the Sam who spent a year without a soul, and the Sam who remembers Hell. Normal Sam kills and absorbs soulless Sam, but the third Sam has no interest in fighting and begs Sam to stay in the dreamscape and spare himself the memories of what happened. When that fails, he allows Sam to absorb him.
    • A similar storyline occurred mid-season nine; Sam has been possessed by a renegade angel and trapped in a hallucination in his own mind while the angel uses his body, forcing Dean and Castiel to allow Crowley to possess Sam's body so that he can tell Sam what is happening to him and help Sam expel the angel.
    • Played with in season eleven; Castiel has allowed Lucifer to possess him on the condition that Lucifer help defeat the Darkness, and the Winchesters try to make contact with him to get him to fight the possession. Like with Sam, Crowley enters the vessel to talk with Castiel on their behalf, but he actually refuses to fight back, so the only "battle" that takes place is Lucifer kicking Crowley's ass. The fact that the possessee appears to be clinically depressed and has PTSD doesn't help matters.
  • Truth Seekers: A humourously off-screen variant: In the finale, Elton channels Astrid's spirit into the Ellexatron in order to wrest control of it away from its current occupant, Alaura. We can only hear them grunt, wince, and insult one another through the machine, but it is clear that they are experiencing their confrontation as a physical fight.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Dream Me a Life", Roger Simpson Leeds is repeatedly forced to enter Laurel Kincaid's dream. It follows the same pattern each time: they are in a room filled with candles and Laurel begs Roger to help her in keeping something, seemingly a monster, out. On the first few occasions, Roger refuses to help. When he enters her dream again, however, he realizes that he is not supposed to keep it outside but to let it inside the room. It turns out to be the spirit of her husband, who died ten years earlier. He wants Laurel to accept his death and live her life again instead of remaining catatonic. The next morning, Roger cheerily approaches Laurel and invites her to breakfast. She then speaks her first words in ten years.
  • In United States of Tara, Tara held a conference in her head with her various alters in order to draw up a contract between her and them.

  • "The Trial", the climax of Pink Floyd's 1979 Rock Opera The Wall, features the main character put on trial in his own mind and convicted by a monstrous imaginary judge.
  • Kitananx made a song CALLED Battle In The Center Of The Mind.
  • "Heaven Tells No Lies" by Helloween invokes this in the chorus:
    I'd need a shotgun in my dreams tonight
    To terminate my rotten side.
  • Poets of the Fall's "Drama for Life" describes struggling and reaching a détente with one's own potentially destructive creative impulses, represented alternately by an agitated "madman" or a rampaging bull running loose in the singer's head.
  • Imagine Dragons' music video for "Believer" depicts frontman Dan Reynolds overcoming emotional and physical pain as a boxing match between Dan and Dolph Lundgren.

  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! East Academy, Sigmund has one against his partner spirit Freed. However, it's inside Freed's mind rather than his own.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Deadlands sees one of these happen if someone becomes Harrowed. Their soul wages war against the manitou in their body, in a setting based on the character's worst nightmare. The winner gets to control the body.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Illusion spells phantasmal killer and weird work a lot like this trope, in that they create a personalized Imaginary Enemy that can kill the targets who fail to resist their terrors.
    • In Ravenloft, recurring nightmares occasionally attract the attentions of a group of darklords called the Nightmare Court, who, as their name suggests, try to play it up until they reduce the ailing victim into a comatose wreck. Needless to say, any adventure involving them is about kicking their ennui out of the head of the dreamer while sorting out his issues.
    • The Dark Sun sourcebook The Will and The Way introduced "harbingers" and "constructs" — mental forms that tweak and help to focus telepathic combat powers (the question whether both sides see the same is avoided, since on Athas psionics is well-codified). So you end up with mental attacks and defences put into images such as a giant scorpion trying to undermine a wall or flames trying to burn through a beetle's carapace.
  • A possible occurrence in the "Zorandar" setting from Hero Games' Lands of Mystery. If you get captured by one set of enemies, they'll try questioning you telepathically. Resist, and the telepathic struggle is gamed out as a one-on-one fight between your interrogator and you. If you lose the fight, the interrogator gets the answer to whatever question set this in motion. If you win, you wake out of the mind trance to find your interrogator has just suffered a brainfry (and if you can't figure out that this is the perfect time to escape...).
  • The Sidereal charm Meditative Battlefield Escalation in Exalted works this trope somewhat in reverse. Instead of an invading force attacking a defender's psyche, the Sidereal creates an entire battlefield in their own mind and draws their enemies into that. Then they have supernatural Fist-fights in the center of their own mind.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • In American McGee's Alice, the purpose of Alice's nightmarish return trip through Wonderland is this.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • This happens thrice in Batman: Arkham Asylum when Batman gets drugged by the Scarecrow, resulting in massive Interface Screw and a Fission Mailed before entering a twisted world based on his psyche. However, Batman fights it off due to Heroic Willpower, to the horror of Scarecrow. The final time Batman is surrounded by unconscious mooks when he comes to his senses, suggesting there was a physical fight as well.
    • It also happens in Batman: Arkham City with the Mad Hatter and Ra's al-Ghul. And just like the previous game, there was a physical fight happening at the same time.
    • Then one last time in Batman: Arkham Knight, which involves Batman fighting off the last memories of the Joker and sealing them away.
  • Battle Moon Wars has this in Tohno Shiki's mind while he lies unconscious, fighting internally against Nanaya Shiki. Unfortunately for him, he also visualizes Akiha and Satsuki in this mindscape and thus is unwilling to fight at first. Insert friendly telepath encouragement as Sion uses Etherlite to join in and help him out.
  • In Blades of Othersides, Kona is constantly fighting one with his Superpowered Evil Side. Which side is presently winning affects which form he's in in the physical world.
  • Bleach: Brave Souls turns this into a gameplay mechanic: Some characters gain "Resurrection" forms, achieved by reaching Level 200 with them and then winning a boss battle against either themselves or a significant person related to their story in the anime or manga. Fittingly, the button to engage this battle has a picture of White Zangetsu, who fought Ichigo like this.
  • The final battle in Dead Space 2, where Isaac fights Nicole and the Marker.
  • In Drakengard 2, Nowe fights one of the boss battles in Manah's mind after she has her Villain Protagonist BSOD.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons Online, the quest 'Finding the Path' involves protecting your mind (embodied in a glowing orb) against the assault of Dreaming Dark creatures, before confronting the cultists in real life.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Sheogorath takes you to his personal vacation spot: the mind of Pelagius the Mad and will only agree to leave if you humor him and combat Pelagius' various psychoses with the help of his artifact, the Wabbajack.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VI, sleeping at Doma Castle with Cyan in the party will cause the party to be taken into Cyan's mind, where they can battle a demon called Wrexsoul that is feeding off his survivor's guilt.
    • Also, the final battle of Final Fantasy VII happens inside Cloud's mind. He destroys Sephiroth in one strike.
  • One of the main gimmicks of Gachitora! for the Playstation Portable is the Soul Nude Battle system - basically, while regular enemies are fought with Good Old Fisticuffs, your students' traumas are fought with dialogue symbolized by literal fights. Social outcast? He'll make you sure to not be bothered. Suicidical Idol Singer? She'll use her talent to fight you. Family problems caused by monster parents? Watch out for his literally inflated Ego. Young girl working to pay a massive debt? Watch for the giant beam-shooting purse. School Newspaper News Hound accused of faking a story? Beware of his new scoop. Hacker with No Social Skills? Be ready to fight a bunch of computer screens. Pressure of being a not good enough teacher? You'll literally kick the negative feelings' ass. Always Second Best? Beware of the #1's celebration party fireworks. Big Brother Bully? Give him a well-deserved beating. Ex-baseball player accused of a forced suicide? Hoo boy.
  • Genshin Impact: Raiden Shogun's second story quest features this between the Shogun and the real archon Ei in Makoto's realm of consciousness. The battle seems to last a few moments for the people in the real world but for the fighters it goes on for centuries before archon Ei wins.
  • Ghostrunner: The final level happens in a cyberspace area within the Ghostrunner's cyborg mind, as the Ghostrunner battles to take control of his mind from the Big Bad.
  • Whenever Team Orochi and their Awakened counterparts interact in The King of Fighters XV, it is framed this way. Interestingly, the pre-battle dialogues indicate that Yashiro's, Shermie's and Chris's two personalities are actually on good terms with each other, and they battle each other only to define which of the two personalities is more fit to carry on their plan to bring Orochi back. Case in point —
    O.Yashiro: Mind and body... split to gather the spirit needed to resurrect Orochi... The circumstances differ from before, but the way forward remains clear.
    Yashiro: Right. Me, the body; you, the spirit... Whoever wins, we share the same desire. Now let's do this! Let's grant the wish of our clan!
  • God of War:
    • In the first game, during the final battle, Ares invokes this on Kratos, forcing him to see an illusion of his family die. Even if Kratos "wins", he fails to save them since Ares simply rips off the Blades of Chaos and uses them to cut down the illusions of Kratos' wife and daughter.
    • God of War (PS4), after Atreus begins tapping into his godly powers, he collapses from his belief that he's a mortal. Freya explains that Kratos' "true nature fights within him" and Mimir tells him that a mental contradiction can express itself as an ailment. despite Kratos going "To Hell and Back" to get the cure, his son can only be cured by knowing what he really is.
  • Guild Wars 2: The battle against Mordremoth. Since Mordremoth's whole body is the Maguuma jungle, it can't be fought conventionally. Defeating it requires the protagonist to enter its mind and fight distorted memories of their companions and a manifestation of Mordremoth's mind.
  • If the player presses the B Button during a certain important event in The Halloween Hack, Varik enters Dr. Andonuts's mind and discovers the reasoning behind his insanity... and then he winds up fighting Dr. Andonuts' personal demons as well as the doctor himself.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction has a boss battle in Bruce Banner's subconscious, where the Hulk takes on Banner's underlying hostility and malevolence, officially dubbed "Devil Hulk".
  • Injustice 2:
    • Scarecrow is a playable character that appears as a demonic ragdoll monster with magic powers and a huge metallic scythe. However, in cutscenes as well as the start of matches, we see he's really just a spindly scientist with a bag on his head; the one that does the battling is an hallucination born from his Fear Gas, essentially making every fight with Scarecrow this trope.
    • In the Story Mode, this takes a more traditional form as, after Harley Quinn beats Scarecrow, he uses a different fear gas to make her hallucinate that she's in an abandoned amusement park, back with the Joker (who was killed by Superman before the first game), who wants her to go back to being evil and kill Batman. She resists the temptation and beats the Joker hallucination instead.
  • Happens no less than three times in Jade Empire:
    • Two demons vie for control of a little girl's body. You have to pick which one you'll support, and then it's a kung fu battle inside her mind.
    • Near the end of the game, you can attempt to wrest control of The Dragon away from the Big Bad. You control the ghost of the Dragon's past self and fight its current incarnation.
    • When you confront the Big Bad himself, he attempts to overwhelm you with despair. Naturally, this means you have to fight some freaky glowing swordsmen named "Despair" in an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield. You also get to rely on the Power of Friendship for encouragement, which takes the form of your allies running up to the "Despairs" and, um, exploding.
  • Late in Jeanne d'Arc, Jeanne, Gilles, and Richard are whisked into an abstract representation of Roger's heart, bound by chains by the Reaper Ira. The three of them must battle Ira's cronies to destroy his power over Roger; eventually, a manifestation of Liane's spirit joins the three heroes to assist them, particularly because her death is what caused Roger to submit to the Reaper.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, when Riku fights off Ansem.
    • And there's another one in Kingdom Hearts II, Sora vs. Roxas.
    • Special mention too that the Awakening seems like a semi-physical place, since Donald and Goofy mention Sora disappearing from the scene.
    • Happens yet again in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep with Ven vs. Vanitas and Terra vs. Master Xehanort, and with Aqua pitching in during the True Final Boss fight. The secret ending suggests that Terra and MX spent years vying for control of the new Xehanort's heart.
      Terra-Xehanort: You body submits, your heart succumbs — so why does your mind RESIST?!
    • Unfortunately, the next game in the series, Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] strongly implies that that last battle in the center of the mind from Birth by Sleep only lasted for a year rather than the several years we were led to believe, and we have yet to learn what happened to the loser.
      • Cranked to a new level in the same game, where it turns out Riku had been fighting off the Nightmares within Sora's dream imaginings of the Sleeping Worlds. His boss fight with Ansem also takes place in the "Darkness within Darkness" of Sora's dream. Then, in the True Final Boss fight, Riku fights off the Armored Ventus Nightmare within Sora's Heart.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, one of the annual Mr. Store familiars for 2013, the Angry Jung Man, drops psychoanalytical jars that let you copy and explore the psychoses of various non-player characters, such as the Crackpot Mystic, the Pretentious Artist, and the Suspicious-Looking Guy.
  • The Megami Tensei franchise has several examples:
    • In Shin Megami Tensei I, you find a young girl (actually the reincarnation of the Heroine) whose mind has been infested by a demon that is devouring her from the inside-out. You have to dive into her mind in order to kill the demon and save her.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei if..., exclusive to the Reiko route, after beating Hazama in his Demon God Emperor form, you go inside his mind alongside Reiko and learn more about his past and motives, and ultimately fight the manifestation of his insanity, fittingly named Warped Mind.
    • Every boss fight in Persona 4 is this until close to the end of the game. Although it's more like "Battle In The Center Of The Collective Unconscious".
    • The Palaces of Persona 5 are twisted manifestations of a person's corrupt desires. In these cases, the "center of the mind" is a Treasure that the Phantom Thieves set their sights on stealing in order to force someone to have a change of heart.
    • Not quite the same, but not quite anything else either: In Maken X, Kei's consciousness (using Kei's form) spends most of the game standing on a glassy-looking disc in her brain yelling/screeching at her body, now possessed by the Maken.
  • The finale of Arcueid's and Archtype Earth's plots in the "Current Code" version of Melty Blood is this between them.
  • In the climax of Metro 2033, the protagonist is mentally fighting the Dark Ones, who are trying to stop him from annihilating their home — all while the protagonist is on the highest point of Moscow's Ostankino tower as it's crumbling. Failing the fight results in the protagonist falling to his doom from the mental blow.
  • Mother:
    • Happens in EarthBound (1994), as Ness has to fight his own Nightmare (which is the evil part of his mind) at the end of his dream world known as Magicant. By defeating it, Ness' true potential is released.
    • Averted in EarthBound Beginnings, as that Magicant is Maria's dream instead of Ninten's. Likewise, a fight with Lucas' Nightmare was removed from Mother 3, which has no Magicant.
  • The Final Boss of Mother Russia Bleeds is a hallucinatory battle against the mental manifestation of the drug that they're addicted to. In order to get the best ending of the game, you have to beat it without using Nekro, representing the protagonists overcoming their addiction through sheer force of will.
  • If you decide to attack the Mindflayer Elder Brain in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, it will suddenly trap you inside an illusion where you are waking up from a dream. If you accept it, you get a Non Standard Game Over. If you reject it, you will be attacked by monsters within the dream and upon defeating them you will return to reality and the Elder Brain will beg for mercy, allowing you to make a deal with it or deal the killing blow.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer has you and possibly a companion battling the Spirit-Eater itself for control of your soul.
  • The final battle in Nioh 2 consists of Otakemaru trying to take control of your body after you foiled his attempt to possess Tokichiro by intercepting his spirit. Throughout the battle Tokichiro is purifying you, which manifests as his Guardian Spirit Masaru showing up to take swipes at Otakemaru.
  • A rather weird one in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle where Henry, while unconscious, fights against Mimmy, a manifestation of Travis' various fetishes (being a Moe Robot Girl), which is apparently brought on by Travis "watching" anime in the other room.
  • Omega Labyrinth Life features special, character-specific dungeons that are made to be taken solo, explicitly created from their subconcsioun thoughts, featuring gimmicks that are related to the character's skill-set, personality, and inner demons. The bosses are even called their Shadow Selves.
  • The final battle of OMORI features one between Sunny and Omori that culminates in a Fission Mailed. You can choose to either give up or to continue fighting: doing the former will result in the Bad Ending.
  • Octopath Traveler: Primrose confronts the final boss at the end of her story, who proceeds to ask her what she'll do after she gets her revenge against the men who killed her father and what she'll have left to live for. This question shakes Primrose to her core, requiring the player to fight a mental representation of her final boss as well as two marionettes who represent her father Geoffrey Azelheart and Primrose's deceased friend Yusufa.
  • Octopath Traveler II:
    • With Temenos in your party at night, you can challenge NPCs to coerce information out of them, fighting them on an endless plane of inch-deep water. The battle ends as soon as the NPC runs out of shield points.
    • Hikari has a mental battle against his curse in his mind during the final boss at the end of his story, when it tries to persuade him into needless violence again during his battle against Mugen. The battle takes place in a darkened throne room. Hikari is ultimately able to overcome his curse and use this dedication as his source for his Latent Power.
  • Anyone in the Penumbra series who gets infected by the Tuurngait gets one of these, although you only play through Philip's. He and Red both win their battles, retaining a measure of self-control (and, in Philip's case, splitting off his own infestation from the Hive Mind to make it an easier-to-manage Enemy Within.) Everyone else who appears in the series lost and got assimilated.
  • Happens near the end of Planescape: Torment when you have to enter a mindtrap and meet three of your most important previous "incarnations" inside. If you manage to take them over or merge with them, you gain their memories and a lot of XP. If you fail the merger you have to destroy them, which gets you no memories or XP. The success of the merger is determined by stats and conversation options, one can only be taken over if your willpower is above a certain level, while another is much easier to convince to merge if you can gain his trust by convincing him that you and him are the same person.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers: Marill's brother, Azurill, is locked in a nightmare and unable to wake up due to a legendary Pokemon that can infiltrate and attack other beings in their dreams: Darkrai. With the help of an ex-con Drowzee, the hero and their partner are transferred into Azurill's mind to figure out the cause of the problem.
  • The battle against The Dark Prince in Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones turns out this way. After some platforming, you end up with him and you, the solution being to stop attacking and walk away.
    • Although annoyingly, even if you attack, he can't kill you. All that happens it that you need to walk through an army of Dark Prince clones.
  • Psychic Force 2: The final battle in Emilio's story mode sees him fighting his dark side in his mind. He loses.
  • Raz in Psychonauts fights (and helps defeat) the Freudian Excuses lurking in people's brains — such as a painter's anger (which manifests as a bull), a former insane asylum warden's split personality (which looks like Napoleon and against whom he is constantly trapped in a war game), and even the Big Bad's and his own father issues, which manifest as an enormous butcher and a taunting zombie ragdoll, respectively.
  • Near the end of Sam & Max: Freelance Police "Culture Shock", Sam falls under the hypnotic sway of disgruntled former child star Brady Culture. After snapping himself out of it by a blow to the head from the security system at Bosco's Inconvenience Store, Sam finds himself in his own mind. There, he has to dispose of a host of Brady Culture clones that represent Culture's hypnotic influence.
  • Skullgirls:
    • When Painwheel attempts to reject Brain Drain's mind control in her story mode, the battle is visualised as a Mirror Match against a Painwheel-bot coloured to resemble Brain Drain. This battle also transports the scene from Maplecrest to Nightmare Crest - a twisted version of the Maplecrest stage where the surroundings are black and muted, the leaves are frozen in mid-fall but the sky is red with rapidly-swirling purple clouds.
    • Fukua is (in-universe) a clone of the protagonist Filia, and whose story mode consists of her battling all the other characters in Filia's dreams as she sleeps. Fukua's final opponent is Filia herself inside Filia's mind, and the fact that the fight also takes place on Nightmare Crest suggests that the dream has just become a little too real.
  • In Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion, Agent 8 fights Agent 3 in their head as an Optional Boss after getting every Mem Cake. After the fight, Agent 8 feels "like the freshest Octoling ever" and gets the Golden Toothpick headgear.
  • In Splatterhouse 3, Rick fights the final boss, the Terror Mask, in an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield that represents his psyche.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World: If you go for the good ending, this is the final battle. Given how different Emil's and Ratatosk's personalities were, though, the player was probably expecting something like this to happen (although it's a lot less confrontational than you might expect — whichever way the fight turns out, the two accept each other).
  • Twisted Metal Black takes place entirely in Needles Kane's head, handily handwaving the more extreme-concept characters like Dollface or Charlie Kane.
  • The Kalecgos encounter in World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade. The players are supposed to free the good dragon from a dreadlord that is controlling him.
    • An odd example where you're the invader is in the fight with the monster of dubious quality, Yogg-Saron. During the fight with him, portals into his mind open up, where you are to disperse projections visions of an important event in Warcraft lore so that you can access his brain. Of course, he knows you're in there, and he will attempt to whittle down your sanity and put you under permanent Mind Control, so you have to inflict damage on Yogg-Saron's brain as soon as possible and leave quickly.
    • In Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, Arthas winds up in a rather one-sided battle when he dons the helm of domination; he's in a room in his mind with Ner'zhul, the orc Shaman that became the Lich King, and a cowering child that represents the last of Arthas' humanity. After all is explained, Arthas runs his humanity through without hesitation... and then does the same to Ner'zhul when he approaches to congratulate him. It doesn't end here, though, as it's revealed in the game proper that the fragment of Arthas' humanity survived as Matthias Lehner, who kept Arthas just human enough in the depths of his heart that he held the Villain Ball instead of annihilating all life on Azeroth as easily as he should have been able to.

    Visual Novels 
  • The sixth arc of Umineko: When They Cry involves a duel between Shannon and Kanon that is a thinly-veiled version of this, with Beatrice sitting on the sidelines. The seventh arc reveals that this has been the state of affairs within Sayo Yasuda's head for a good year or two prior to 1986. Once Beatrice is forced off the sidelines by Battler's return, the entire duel is scuttled, however.
  • Dom's battle against Hex's attempt at turning him into a weapon via mind control spans several chapters of The Crown & the Flame Book 3.

    Web Animation 
  • hololive ERROR, mainly in the animated manga, turns out to primarily be set in one of these, albeit downplayed due to there not being any actual fighting. One side of Shino Misora doesn't know that the world she's in is fake, generally has some severe amnesia about the events of the past, and simply wants to live a happy school life with her friends, the other does know and is rather abrasive about it. Not to mention the mysterious third Shino that appears in Chapter 19, who drags the main Shino back into the Perfect World once she finds out that she was Dead All Along and does not take it well. Ultimately, it ends with Shino coming to peace with her situation, fixing the forest-related issues in Aogami, and living a happy life with almost all her friends, real or made up.
  • Red vs. Blue (more specifically, Church and Tex) took a trip into Caboose's mind while he was semi-possessed. Interestingly, the actual fight against the evil force is done against a backdrop of the actual Red Vs Blue war ... with a few unique ideas of who's involved.

  • The 10 Doctors features all ten Doctors versus Dalek Tor (a Dalek version of the Doctor) in a battle for the Tenth Doctor's mind. Features Doctor quotes, Nine with a baseball bat, and a mega-merge Doctor who looks awesome.
  • Part of the Grand Finale of Archipelago - while The Cavalry battles a Robeast and her friends fight the upgraded villain in the physical world, Credenza has to defeat him in the dreaming world.
  • K in Blip, when she was in rage. First she kicked out her friends, then for lack of semi-real targets imagined and destroyed a Pirate Transvestite Robot.
  • A variation occurs in Charby the Vampirate when Tony has to use his Alp powers to enter Zeno's mind and help him fight the spirit possessing him. Turns out that Zeno has pretty much given up the fight already and is of no help, so Tony changes tactics and get the spirit to not only force him out but to enter his mind instead. A big mistake, as it gave Tony a massive homefield advantage.
  • Happens between Artie and Joel in Concession, but ultimately spills over into the real world. Doubles as a subverted "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight as unfortunately, that part only works for a little bit.
  • Dominic Deegan, several times. The titular character's main strength is his mental abilities. And it's established that on the psycho planes, a being's physical size is directly proportion to how powerful their minds are.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Ellen has a short battle with Sirleck to prevent him from leaving her body at an inopportune moment which is portrayed as her restraining the possessed version of herself.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: In "Seeker of Thrones", Allison has agreed to take help from Incubus to unlock the powers of the Key of Kings she's carrying. As the story goes on, she becomes increasingly drunk with power — until she finds that "she" is trapped inside a symbolical representation of her mind with various aspects of her personality, and the one that's in control is not "her" but a huge, sociopathic representation of her "drunk with power" self. Incubus claims he's not doing any of this but it's just her mind, though it sure seems a bit unusual. Finally, Allison gathers all the other aspects of her personality together to form another Allison as large as the one controlling her body. Subverted: she doesn't use this body to fight her dark side but to kiss her, whereupon they presumably become reintegrated... and she regains control but loses her powers.
  • Liquid's battle against the Ghost of Big Boss for control of his body, in The Last Days of Foxhound.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Haley's "mental constructs" have a habit of bickering amongst themselves, at least until she makes them all sit down and shut up.
    • The struggle between Durkon and Vampire Durkon is presented this way, although it's a battle of wits and willpower rather than a direct brawl.
  • Shows up in Schlock Mercenary when the titular carbosilicate amorph is infected with nanites that hack into his brain. When Schlock pulls out his plasma cannon, the nanites are initially unimpressed:
    Nanite: Look, we told you already... that thing won't work in here. It's just a metaphor.
    Schlock: But a meta for what? I have a pretty good immune system...
  • Torg from Sluggy Freelance faces one of these during the "Wayang Kulit" Story Arc. In this case he's fighting all of his major past and current Love Interests. Bit of a subversion, in that killing them only makes things go worse for him.
  • unOrdinary: John's violent rampage through Wellston finally ends with him screaming at his former self and attacking him within his own mind, the problem being that he's turning his powers on himself in the real world too. He has to be dragged back to face reality by Sera.

    Web Original 
  • The Quintessential Mary-Sue: Mary-Sue defeats the Faceless One and forces them to restore Mary-Sue's childhood memories that they had suppressed and replaced. Immediately thereafter, Mary-Sue understands that she had done horrible things for the sake of revenge and power, because with her memories her original personality comes back too. This original personality confronts the current one within their mind, and calls out Mary-Sue for treating everyone else as playthings, saying that the current personality has only existed for five years and acts like it, completely lacking in empathy for other beings or tolerating their imperfections. The current personality can only give a lame comeback, at which point the original says, "You're a whore, and I'll hate you forever," then sings a Brown Note that kills them both. Unfortunately, Mary-Sue comes back from this later as if it had never happened.

    Web Videos 
  • In Thresher, this is what it turns out the nameless protagonist is actually involved in. He loses.
  • In the climax of To Boldly Flee, Film Brain and Sage face off against Ma-ti in Spoony's mind.

    Western Animation 
  • The last episode of Disney's Aladdin: The Series to have Mozenrath in it ended with Mozenrath attempting to possess Aladdin's body after his own suffers total organ failure from overuse of dark magic (which turns out to apparently be the source of his interest in Aladdin through most of the series). After he stops being afraid, Aladdin uses the Power of Love to curbstomp Mozenrath's ass. This would have been a fitting end for the series Big Bad, but being a Disney cartoon, he gets better at the end to menace Agrabah another day.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender provides the page quote. In Season 2, Zuko undergoes a severe fever and enters a coma, wherein he has vivid dreams in which his uncle and sister appear as dragons and argue over his life choices. Iroh says that this is "not a natural illness" and the whole thing is apparently caused solely by Zuko's premature Heel–Face Turn.
  • Beetlejuice has an episode with Lydia entering Beetlejuice's mind and helping the nerdy weak Beetlejuice conscience to fight Beetlejuice's Id Prankenstein.
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy and imaginary friend brought to life Gary battle in Timmy's mind.
  • Gravity Falls has a variation where the battle takes place in a third party's mind. Gideon summons enigmatic 'dream demon' Bill Cipher to steal the code to Grunkle Stan's safe where he keeps the Mystery Shack's deed in exchange for helping Bill with "Something I've been working on. We'll work out the details later." Using a magic spell found in Journal 3, Dipper, Mabel, and Soos go after Bill in Stan's mind. After their interference causes Gideon to break off the deal, Bill and the three fight. Interestingly enough, neither side wins- Bill becomes impressed with the Pines Twins and Soos' cleverness and decides to let them live, and drops off a vague warning before vanishing.
  • In an episode of The Incredible Hulk (1996), Banner was possessed by a demon; Green Hulk and Grey Hulk joined forces to kick him out of their shared body. Several episodes also showed the two Hulks fighting for control when Banner hulked out.
  • In the Justice League episode "Only a Dream", the Leaguers have to engage in a fight with Dr. Destiny in their minds while Batman tracks him down in the real world.
  • Superman going inside Brainiac 5's mind in the second Season Finale of Legion of Super Heroes (2006) stirs him to fight the brainwashing. There was also a Fusion Dance involved.
  • The last episode of Mighty Orbots has the heroes physically entering the body of their archenemy, the titanic supercomputer Umbra. This results in them finding themselves in his mindscape and having to fight off manifestations of his evil thoughts.
  • The episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?" features an interesting example. Due to a nightmare-inducing parasite infecting the Mane Six that Luna created as The Penance for her actions as Nightmare Moon, Princess Luna has to go through a series of them to try and catch it. After failing to do so and it being released into the collective subconscious of Ponyville, Luna has to create a shared dreamscape for the entire town so they can collectively fight it off, and each resident contributes part of their regular dreams to this shared realm. It's basically a city-wide battle taking place simultaneously in every resident's dreams and in Luna's.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes:
    • This happens in the episode "T.K.O." When the titular Superpowered Evil Side tries to attack K.O.'s (and technically his own) mother, his fist freezes in place because K.O. is Fighting from the Inside. After a moment, K.O. manages to regain control of that arm just long enough to punch his own lights out instead; he then fights his counterpart inside of his mind while unconscious.
    • When K.O. goes inside his mind again in "You're in Control", T.K.O. attacks him, fighting him for a bit before ultimately agreeing to help him.
  • The Real Ghostbusters's Episode "Mean Green Teen Machine" has the Ghostbusters fighting three very destructive reptilian ghosts inside their minds.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Filburt trying to work up the courage to propose to Dr. Hutchison is represented by a Deranged Animation sequence of him playing whack-a-mole with mental versions of Widow Hutchison, Tiger and Filburt himself, all who repeat his insecurities and worst fears regarding the proposal back to him.
  • In season 4 of Samurai Jack, the episode titled "The Aku Infection", Jack gets infected by a piece of Aku's essence and is slowly changing into a version of Aku. At end of the episode when it seems like Jack is lost, the spirits of his parents appear to him in his heart and remind him of all the good he has done and the people he helped. Each victory and each ally gave jack strength with him finally destroying the dark essence that had entrapped his soul and spirit, allowing him to break free.
  • Princess Tekla from Shadow Raiders, who fought Lamprey when the latter took over her body.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man faced down the symbiote this way.
  • The symbiote asserts its dominance this way during its introduction in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, manifested as the symbiote and a giant Spider-Man costume struggling over Peter Parker. As surreal as it was, it was arguably one of the series' better fight scenes...
  • The Teen Titans (2003) episode "Nevermore" takes place in Raven's head. It's a scary place.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Splinter goes up against Rat King this way... and loses. It takes Leonardo and The Power of Love to get Splinter back.
  • Total Drama: Revenge of the Island: After Scott clocks him with a club during "Grand Chef Auto" Mike has a showdown in his brain, with his 4 other personalities. He wins.
  • In the fifth season finale of The Venture Bros., the fight between Henry Killinger and the Investors is depicted at first as a lightsaber duel heavily in the style of the Star Wars prequel films, with lots of acrobatic twirls and Flynning as they destroy the scenery with inhuman speed and agility. Then, other characters enter the room and they see Killinger and his opponent standing a few feet apart, unmoving, in a Pstandard Psychic Pstance.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series was fond of this, and would make elaborate battles in a mindscape shaped by the combatants, making the grandest, most awesome (and trippy) affairs out of scenes that were basically two people glaring at each other in the comics. The most notable instances would be Professor Xavier versus the Shadow King, Jean Grey and Rogue versus Ms. Marvel's transplanted personality, and Professor Xavier going toe-to-toe with Dark Phoenix in Jean's mind (a duel only shown through a series of effects-laden panels in the comics).
  • In Young Justice (2010), Miss Martian and Psimon have a psychic battle of this sort. M'gann is invisible and Psimon is still psychically protected, making it difficult for the fight to be cut short mundanely.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Battle In The Centre Of The Mind, Battle At The Centre Of The Mind, Battle At The Center Of The Mind


Sly vs. Panda King

Sly has to battle the Panda King within the latter's mind via the Guru's magic.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BattleInTheCenterOfTheMind

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