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"Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves."
O'Brien, Nineteen Eighty-Four

One, some, or all of the main characters have been brainwashed into happily slaving away for someone else and have to get their memories back to escape, usually assisted by someone who remembers who they were (The Power of Love often playing a part).

The most fun, delayed variety of brainwashing is the innocuous Manchurian Agent. If they are attacking people, it's a case of Brainwashed and Crazy. And look out for that one character in a million who's Not Brainwashed. Or in truly horrific settings, keep an eye on the ones Conditioned to Accept Horror. Compare with "Body Snatching". Occasionally done via television. May require deprogramming to cure (see also Meat Puppet).

Naturally, there is Power Perversion Potential to be found in this. See also Kiss Me, I'm Virtual. Often done to the Weak-Willed. If the heroes do it, it's likely Brainwashing for the Greater Good. Watch out for Intrinsic Vows. Characters with a Cranial Plate Ability may have immunity to brainwashing as one of their newfound abilities.

Often the brainwashing victim will come to their senses and resist, necessitating the villain to pour on the mind control mojo. Sometimes they will perform the hated task, but weep openly as they do so. This is not far off, as hypnosis cannot force someone to do something they intrinsically believe is wrong. Occasionally, even when the character does overcome it, they don't clean off all symptoms, and all isn't instantly right with the world because of it. Can be the cause of a Face–Monster Turn.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Rika in Air Gear was "reborn" as Genesis' Thorn Queen after being connected to a machine with this purpose.
  • This is the premise of Reversi, the Manga Within A Manga in Bakuman。: two demons, an evil one brainwashing people, and a good one reverting the brainwashes. Though in this case it doesn't use Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • Near the end of Brigadoon: Marin and Melan, Melan is brainwashed into thinking that he must attack Marin. Fortunately,True Love's Kiss breaks through the brainwashing and reminds him of what she means to him.
  • Cardfight!! Vanguard: The United Sanctuary Branch in Cardfight!! Vanguard G does this to young fighters. Of course, the young unsuspecting fighters have no idea what they're getting into at first, but once they sign up, they're subjected to a harsh "strengthening program" and having the sentence "Weakness is a sin." ingrained in their heads. They aren't kept against their will though. However, their desire to become better players is used to the Branch's advantage to keep the majority from quitting. It also helps that their training does work in getting results, if you're willing to sacrifice the fun of the game.
  • In the first episode of Code Geass, Lelouch gains the Geass power — the ability to look into someone's eyes and to give them an order that they can't disobey, or even remember after its resolution. It has several restrictions, such as it only working once per person, or only working within the realms of physical possibility, or requiring direct eye contact, and most of the first series features him attempting to work around these restrictions in order to accomplish his goals of bringing down the totalitarian Brittania.
  • Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02, first caused by Devimon, followed by The Digimon Emperor.
  • Endride: Mischa and other assassins are emotionally broken then brainwashed in childhood in order to make them more effective killers.
  • Gunslinger Girl: The titular cybernetics-enhanced characters get brainwashed to make them function as cold-blooded assassins. Since they are still basically young girls though, this leads to all kinds of problems, especially since the brainwashing focuses their feelings on their guardians.
  • Kekkaishi has a fair amount of this. There's Byaku, the prosecution office, the Oumi brothers...
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S, Ginga Nakajima is brainwashed by Jail Scaglietti. Subaru eventually snaps her out of it by hitting her with a Wave-Motion Gun at point blank.
  • Used in episode 8 of season 4's Minami-ke. Several characters watch a tv show with a song promoting eating vegetables. Two of the main characters, Chiaki and Kana, both watch a recording of it as well. While Kana thought it was a good show, Chiaki develops Mind-Control Eyes and has a sudden urge to eat vegetables, despite normally hating them. She snaps out of it after trying a sausage food sample in the grocery store, but when she returns home, her older sister Haruka also develops the same condition after watching the recorded show.
  • Present in the ero-OVA series, Moonlight Lady: the maid, Sayaka, induces this on herself after she was kidnapped and raped. The trope is subverted in that Sayaka doesn't get flashbacks (or the 'mind-control vision') until she's under further mind-control from the magic forces around Kuraki Manor. It's also implied that the other maid, Tomomi, went through the same procedure.
  • Shinso Hitoshi in My Hero Academia has a quirk called “Brainwash”. He can control a person’s mind if they answer him, which he often provokes with a question. It only works on one person at a time and won’t work using a recording. He tends to get annoyed by the repeated comments about it being suited to a villain rather than a hero.
  • In the second to last episode of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, the title character is brainwashed by Gargoyle to follow his every order, including shooting Captain Nemo.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Pokémon: The Original Series:
      • One episode had Team Rocket's more competent rivals, Butch and Cassidy, use a Drowzee hooked up to a machine to brainwash all the Pokémon on Mandarin Island into disobeying their masters and obeying only them, with some examples being Ash's Pikachu and Misty's Togepi. Only Officer Jenny's Gastly, whose nature as a ghost-type negates the power of any psychic-type Pokémon, is immune. Ash later managed to trick Pikachu into destroying the machine.
      • It happens again in "Control Freak!" when Jessie gains control of an ancient golden helmet and staff used by the previous owner to control all Pokémon, with the exception of Brock's Golbat, who was able to resist it. Luckily, the control only spanned the area where the artifacts were buried, which meant that for Jesse to control her Pokémon, she would have to stay on that spot forever.
      • The King of Pokélantis' brainwashes Ash in one episode. Ash eventually snaps out of it.
    • A recurring villain in the XY seasons was a Malamar that used its mind-control powers to further its own plots.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • The series loves this trope, especially during the "Dark Kingdom" arc, ranging from brainwashed random innocents-of-the-week up to the horrifying brainwashing of Endymion/Mamoru/Tuxedo Kamen into becoming an agent of the Dark Kingdom in the first season. Sure, it didn't take at first, but after the second go he pretty much beat Usagi within an inch of her life before Usagi tearfully reminding him of their history together, holding out their music box locket snapped him out of it. Then he's brainwashed again in the second arc of the manga by the Black Moon. He's brainwashed again in the fourth season by Nehellenia's mirror shard. Finally, his corpse is brainwashed once last time by Galaxia in the manga.
    • The other senshi are also reanimated as evil pawns in the last arcs of the manga, and several characters have episode or chapter incidences of minor brainwashing.
    • Unlike prior versions, in Act 2 of Sailor Moon Crystal, Ami is brainwashed by the Dark Kingdom's Crystal Disk program into expending her cognitive energies in their service, though it doesn't fully take due to Ami recognizing that her friend Usagi is in distress, and snapping out of it.
    • According to the manga continuity and a blink-and-you-miss-it reference near the end of the above season, the four Dark Generals/Shittenou all suffered this fate, too, being brainwashed by Beryl and Metallia the same way Endymion was. This might suggest some semi-failed brainwashing on the part of Nephrite.
  • In Wolf's Rain, Hige is brainwashed by remote control via his collar, as part of a plot by Lady Jagara to find the wolf who will open Paradise.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The Millennium Rod grants its user the ability to brainwash people. Marik, the owner of the Rod, uses it to brainwash Jōnouchi and Anzu into turning against Yugi.
    • In the Virtual World Arc, Noa brainwashes Mokuba into believing that Noa is his only brother and that he hates Seto.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, not only does brainwashing happen with the members of the Society of Light, but it is mentioned that this is one of the abilities that Juudai has once his Darkness powers activate and that he had done this/planned to do this to those duelists that he didn't kill for Super Fusion.
  • Brainwashing comes in many forms in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL.
    • The Barian emperors (mainly the tough but somewhat cowardly Girag) get random humans to do their bidding through the power of their Rank-Up Magic cards, turning them into loyal servants (until losing a duel knocks them out of the trance). Meanwhile, many of the Number monsters make people who own their cards worship them, and/or do unfriendly or even evil things... in a phenomenon more similar to a Mind Virus. Both Barians and Numbers often have the power to outright possess a helpless person, but defeat in a duel is an assured way to reverse that.
    • Then there's Barian Big Bad Don Thousand, who combines simple magic-based brainwashing with tactful More than Mind Control techniques, exploiting others' bitter and vindictive personality traits to make them lean toward evil ways.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City, Pyramid troops undergo brainwashing to support Pyramid and become fearless footsoldiers as part of their training regiment. This is done by a combination of mandatory pills, sleeping gas, and speakers broadcasting propaganda.
  • This happens to Bucky Barnes in Captain America: Winter Soldier.
  • Code Name: Gravedigger: In Men of War #8, Gravedigger is captured by a Nazi posing as his liaison Major Birch and brainwashed into attempting to assassinate Winston Churchill.
  • Judge Dredd: During the Apocalypse War, Chief Judge Griffin was captured and brainwashed by East Meg One forces to sing the praises of the Soviet occupiers. As security was too tight to mount a rescue, Judge Dredd had to assassinate him instead.
  • The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire: Guan uses brainwashing to create voters for the Earth Kingdom elections that are completely loyal to him. This same process is used as a form of reconditioning for soldiers who prove too weak to serve the Empire, or who falter even slightly. He then does the same to Mako, Bolin, Asami, and Wu as part of a plot to catch Korra, though Korra and her remaining allies manage to grab Asami and escape.
  • In Planet Hulk, Silver Surfer is weakened by a wormhole, brainwashed, and has a Restraining Bolt placed on him in order to have him fight in gladiatorial battles.
  • Superman:
    • In The Unknown Supergirl, Lesla-Lar uses a memory-rewriting helmet-like device developed by herself to brainwash Supergirl into believing she is Lesla herself.
    • In The Girl with the X-Ray Mind, Lesla-Lar recycles her old scheme, except that her victim is Kara's newest friend Lena Thorul.
    • In The Supergirl Saga, this is Superman's initial impression of Matrix when she claims to be Lana Lang and that she had gotten her powers from Lex Luthor. It ends up in a brief fight between the two heroes until they get things straightened out about Supergirl's actual origin, that she came from a Pocket Universe and that her powers were given to her by its version of Lex Luthor, who was kept from becoming a criminal in his own universe.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • In Volume 1, Hypnota has brainwashed the humans they abducted and sold to Saturnian slavers, to ensure they think there is nothing for them but to be Saturnain slaves and do not attempt to rebel or escape. This makes it very difficult to get them back to their homes, learn their names and return them to human society in general after the Saturnian Emperor signs a treaty with the United States.
    • In Volume 2, Volume 3 and Volume 5, Circe's Bestiamorphs were once men whom she transformed and brainwashed into her loyal servants with no recollection of who they once were. Diana's Lasso of Truth can undo the brainwashing but she can't do anything about their current physical state.
  • X-Men:
    • A favoured technique of Apocalypse is to capture heroes and transform them into his Horsemen, then send them out to do violence in his name. Notable victims include Archangel, Colossus, Wolverine, the Hulk and Psylocke, all of whom eventually escaped his control, one way or another.
    • In God Loves, Man Kills, Professor X is subject to brainwashing by Stryker's scientist into unwittingly attacking other mutants with his psychic powers.

    Fan Works 
  • Crazy Irken and ? (Invader Zim-based crossover fic anthology by D_rissing and nightmaster000. note ):
    • In the Total Drama chapter, Zim breaks into Area 51 in order to steal an alien rock that when broken unleashes an energy that brainwashes into obedience anyone who is looking at it with their vision unprotected. Courtney helps him by breaking it while on camera, which brainwashes TD’s global audience into obeying Courtney, who orders them to obey Zim.
    • In the The Proud Family chapter, the chemical composition of Zim's semen essentially drugs Penny after he rapes her, muddling her mind and leaving her in a highly-suggestive state. As such, she ends up confirming all of Zim's paranoid accusations about her being part of an anti-Irken Space Police, and is unable to resist when he claims her as his slave. By the chapter's epilogue, this has worn off, but by this point Penny has decided that she likes the perks of being Zim's concubine, and goes with it.
  • Escape Artist: In Harry Potter canon, the Death Eaters claimed that they were under the Imperius to avoid jailtime. Here, it's revealed that Dumbledore intentionally made the defense and had it filter through Snape, even going as far as to suppress the fact the Dark Mark will not take an unwilling recipient. Why? To see Harry Potter dead, acquire all his wealth and kickstart another war to be viewed as the second coming of Merlin.
  • Flashpoint 2: Advent Solaris: Mephiles uses multiple forms of mind control to a point where it's hard to discern which trope article this should even be entered on, but most predominantly he likes to sprinkle his forces kidnapped DC characters that are brainwashed into being grey scaled, red-eyeds, mindless thralls of his that serve only to do his bidding and inflict mental/emotional pain on those who knew them.
  • Glitter Force: Into the Glitterverse: The Glitter Force is portrayed as a brainwashing force over the Pretty Cure. The Infection Scene of the Yes! 5 Cures in Chapter 2 specifically mentions that Rin feels like her brain is being rewired.
  • Knows if You've Been Naughty: At the end, after being transformed into an elf, Gaz is brainwashed to think only of joyfully creating Christmas presents for nice children. It's implied this is the case with all the other elves too.
  • "NonNeglecting Week": In the 5th chapter, Asuka hypnotizes Fuyutsuki so that he will take the group skydiving, instead of a boring museum trip.
  • Pokéumans: The Nebulous Evil Organisation Pokextinction builds its army by capturing transforming Pokeumans and brainwashing them to side with Mr. X in the secret war.
  • Revenge of Darkrai by megagamer: Darkrai mind-controls Skitty, Snivy, and Pikachu.
  • Sailor Moon Cosmos Arc features brainwashing: first of Chibiusa to become a queen of chaos, then Endymion to be her consort, then the Asteroid Senshi to fight on behalf of Servant Chaos. The Asteroid Senshi are killed by Usagi, and Chibiusa and Endymion's brainwashing are broken when Usagi does a Suicide by Cop in response to the previous phrase.
  • Take a Stand: Dimensions and Time: The ones sucked into Ryan Wilde's dimension find that not just part of that dimension's Team Ceartais has been brainwashed — the ZPD, the MCB, and others too. During the fight against the brainwashed Ceartais members, Sirius is injected with a chemical that brainwashes her as well. The mastermind behind this is revealed to be Ryan Wilde himself.
  • Tamers Forever Series: During Theory of Chaos, all the Tamers except Takato are brainwashed into acting wildly out of character, leading to some of the series' most disturbingly hilarious scenes ever.
  • With Strings Attached: Two examples:
    • At different times, John and Paul get zapped by the mind-controlling pink sword Brox's Kiss (which is also used to collect a bunch of male warriors in a loony effort to build up an army to invade Ketafa). John doesn't get released until the wielder loses the sword, but Paul somehow shakes off the effects after a short time, though he pretends to remain mind-controlled so he can screw up the baddies' plans.
    • A minor example is when the four are ambushed just outside the White Tower and hit with love-me magic to keep them still until their attackers can divest them of their white key and enter the Tower themselves. Except Paul is immune to mind control, and scares them away. Similarly, the ambushers at Hermit's Rock find out the same thing about Paul.
    • The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World: One major example. Ringo is subtly brainwashed by the Guardians' psionics and almost kills John as a result.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Absolutely Anything: Neil's wishes effect people's minds in some cases, for instance causing Ray's crush to worship him, making Catherine love Grant and everyone make war for no reason.
  • Bit: Powerful vampires can exert mental influence over the other vampires they rule, which makes them do things they wouldn't otherwise, sometimes without them even knowing. This includes Vlad and Duke.
  • A Clockwork Orange has the protagonist strapped down and forced to watch violent scenes while a drug that induces nausea is pumped into him to make him feel repulsion for violence. And sex. And Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (because the film included it in the background, which he's especially horrified by since that was his favorite music).
  • Cure: Kunihiko Mamiya exposes other people to repetitive sounds to hypnotize them, implanting the suggestion to commit murders.
  • Danger Diva: When the corporate thugs catch up with Scattering and Devi, Scattering becomes one of the mindless brain cattle while Devi is hypnotized into becoming their diva, controller of the masses.
  • Flash Gordon (1980): Klytus and General Kala brainwash Professor Zarkov, the Earth scientist that deduced Ming's attack on Earth. They reversed his experiences in his mind starting with blasting off to Mongo, through his years at NASA, all the way back to the womb. Klytus says to reprogram him to a Level 3 agent. but Kala has the tech up it to Level 6. Ultimately subverted since Zarkov successfuly fought the process by remembering things (Shakespeare, Einstein, "even a song by the Beatles") which protected him from the process. He also retained the new information General Kala had "installed."
  • Frankenstein Island: Sheila Frankenstein brainwashes Doc into helping with her experiments to revitalize her husband. Doc's friends realize there is something wrong when Doc has no issues with conducting experiements that result in the deaths of human subjects. Eventually, they take Sheila hostage and force her to turn off the devices holding Doc in her thrall.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Mola Ram brainwashes people to join the Thuggee cult by making them drink magic blood. He even manages to brainwash Indiana Jones. Fortunately, Short Round snaps him out of the trance by burning Indy with a torch.
  • J-Men Forever: The evil Lightning Bug plans to brainwash the Earth people with rock & roll broadcasts, but is successfully countered by schmaltzy music from the Military Underground Sugared Airwaves Command (M.U.S.A.C.). So the Bug decides to use hashish instead, and only the combined forces of the J-Men (a team of redubbed superheroes from Republic Film Serial clips) can stop him!
  • The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra: The evil Skeleton, and Human Aliens Kro-Bar and Lattis, both try to mind-control housewife Betty at the same time.
    Skeleton: Bring the meteor to the Skeleton.
    Kro-Bar: Bring the meteor to Kro-Bar and Lattis.
    Betty: I must make a skeleton meteor using a crowbar covered in lettuce...
    • The skeleton does this to multiple people in the sequel, including Kro-Bar and Lattis.
  • Our Man Flint: One of the crimes that the Galaxy organization commits is turning women into brainwashed "Pleasure Units", putting a different spin on their claims that their actions are for the greater good.
  • Sleeper: Miles is captured by the Shadow Dictator government and reprogrammed into an obedient citizen — we see an electronic mind-control experiment where he's made to behave like a contestant in the Miss America pageant.
  • Starship Troopers 3: Marauder: Sky Marshal Omar Anoke is brainwashed by the captive Brain Bug after he confers with it multiple times. He shuts down the defenses on Roku San, leading to its takeover by the Bugs. When his ship crash lands on a Bug planet, he leads the survivors to the Bug's supreme leader, the planet-sized Bug God Behemecoatyl. He gets devoured by Behemecoatyl for his efforts.
  • Thelma: Thelma is able to make people do things she wants (like arrive at her building and kiss her) by wishing it. She's appalled to realize this may be why Anja is attracted to her.
  • TRON: Legacy: Happens to multiple anonymous programs, most notably Tron himself, who goes under the name "Rinzler" until the effects are broken by Flynn in the climax.. The process is known variously as "rectifying" or "re-purposing" and is essentially to programs what brainwashing is to humans.
  • X2: X-Men United: Stryker has developed a drug that can control mutants, so he can use them to carry out his Evil Plan. Magneto is forced to give up information on Xavier, Nightcrawler is used to fake an Assassination Attempt on the US President, while Lady Deathstrike acts as The Dragon; she comes out of it for a brief moment only for Stryker to forcibly reapply another dose of mind-control.

Examples by author:
  • In the books of Dale Brown, David Luger was brainwashed into helping the Soviets after he gets captured by them. Eventually he gets rescued and somewhat "fixed", but the memories and effects still show on occasion.
Examples by work:
  • In the novel All Capable to Bear Arms by Leonid Kudriavcev, the protagonist uses the fictional drug abrutine (which 'paralyzes the free will') and limited lobotomy (to provide neurological reinforcement for performing desired tasks) to 'program' several characters. Targets are usually programmed to perform some simple tasks like ramming a gate with a vehicle.
  • Area 51: The Airlia technology can brainwash humans to serve them. It can be done through affecting them with a Guardian computer, or taking them over using nanomachines.
  • Bazil Broketail:
    • Thrembode controls Princess Besita of Marneri with a spell that makes her his willing slave while he takes her to Tummuz Orgmeen. Once there, the Doom starts to work its evil influence on her too, brainwashing Besita slowly. It's interrupted when she's rescued by Lessis and co, but later she still requires treatment to break this.
    • The Sephists are hypnotized by their god Sephis (really a demon) in book two, making them become fanatical worshipers who gladly fight and kill for him.
  • In Candor by Pam Bachorz, the Stepford Suburbia town of Candor brainwashes its citizens through subliminal messages hidden in the music playing throughout the city. If people try to leave, they often go crazy. Oscar, the son of the town's founder, starts a business where he helps teenagers escape before the brainwashing completely takes hold of them. He himself manages not to be brainwashed by listening to his own subliminal messages.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • The Lady of the Green Kirtle's gnome slaves are all brainwashed, not to mention Prince Rilian, with enchantments. She also tries to do this to the heroes who rescue Rilian, but is thwarted when Puddleglum pulls a Shut Up, Hannibal!. Moment of Awesome ensues.
    • The White Witch's enchanted Turkish delight very quickly gets Edmund 100% on her side, after she intimidates him into eating it. Never take candy from strangers indeed!
  • Dark One's Mistress has Lucias compelling both a guard and Clara at different times — the former to his death, the latter to keep her safe.
  • In The Demon Headmaster, the Headmaster has brainwashed almost everybody in the school along with their parents, and brainy new girl Dinah is powerless to resist even though she knows what he's doing. Her foster brothers, however, are among the tiny minority of pupils on whom the Headmaster's powers don't work, so they can help Dinah foil the Headmaster's plan to brainwash the whole country via TV.
  • In the Fairy Oak series, the Rock of Arrochar has this effect, specially on Magicals of the Dark. It makes them wish to climb it and to forget about their ties to their loved ones, making them more likely to join the army of the Terrible 21st once they reach the top. Grisam is able to snap out of it via The Power of Love.
  • Foundation Series:
    • "The Mule": The Mule, an interstellar warlord in Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy had the telepathic ability to turn anyone, even his greatest enemies, into devoted followers willing to die for him. The Second Foundation, which possesses a similar ability, later turn it against him and transform him into a pacifist. Victims of both The Mule and the Second Foundation.
    • "Search by the Mule":
      • The Mule is able to adjust the emotions of other characters. When he adjusts their "emotion" of loyalty, he calls it Converting or Conditioning. He tells Pritcher and Channis about the way that his subordinates, once Converted to his will, have suffered a defect in personality, so it is his will to send Pricher, a Converted Man (a lieutenant general and his best minion), and Channis, an ambitious Unconverted Man, to search for the Second Foundation. He gave each of them a different reason for why the Conversion causes problems. During the Mexican Standoff of the climax, a Second Foundation agent completely removes Pritcher's Conditioning, which makes him violently opposed to the Mule, until the Mule converts him again.
      • The Second Foundation is also populated by people with mental powers, from years of training instead of innate mutations. When the Mule realizes how thoroughly he's been countered, the First Speaker takes advantage of his emotional weakness to destroy his hostility towards the galaxy and Second Foundation, making him peaceful and happy, as well as erasing all memory of the encounter. All this in less than a second.
  • In Girls with Sharp Sticks, the students at Innovations Academy are being slowly brainwashed through pills filled with nanomachines that rewire their brains. When they start acting up, they are subjected to impulse control therapy, a procedure strongly resembling a lobotomy in which a long metal rod resembling an ice pick is pushed into the eye socket and directly into the brain, where their memories and thoughts are rewritten from the computer that the pick is attached to.
  • In Hannibal, Lecter brainwashes Clarice Starling with drugs and hypnosis to turn her into a surrogate of his dead sister Misha. While that doesn't quite happen, it does aid Clarice in getting rid of her father issues and inhibitions about Hannibal, whom she seduces. This wasn't carried over to the movie adaptation.
  • Harry Potter has the Imperius Curse, which allows the user to give orders to the victim with the victim being compelled to obey and ideally none-the-wiser with foggy memories at best of their time under its effects though it can sometimes be fought if the victim becomes aware. First discussed and used in Harry's fourth year Defense Against the Dark Arts class.
  • Helm is about a mental imprinting device. It was one of the primary causes of Earth's self-destruction in a massive war because it was used to convert large groups of people over to particular viewpoints. For example, during the war the Iranians of Tehran used the device to forcibly convert Muslims and non-Muslims to their brand of Shiite fundamentalism.
  • Industrial Society and Its Future: Kaczynski expresses deep fear that through drugs, propaganda and other means people's minds can be manipulated to support the system.
  • James Bond:
    • The Man with the Golden Gun starts with Bond returning to England after his disappearance at the end of You Only Live Twice. His agency quickly notes that there is something wrong with him, and it is soon revealed that he had been captured by the KGB, and they brainwashed him to kill his boss M. He fails, and he is send to be deprogrammed via electroshock-therapy.
    • Bad guys put Bond through brainwashing in For Special Services, but supposed Big Bad Markus Bismarquer has a change of heart and messes up the process.
  • Into the Thinking Kingdoms, part of the Journeys of the Catechist series, has a kingdom with thought-reading birds, allowing people to find people thinking wrong, and brainwash them. It is implied that they have done this successfully to most of the kingdom, although it all comes crashing down when they try it on the main characters.
  • In The Machineries of Empire, all Kel recruits are conditioned to have formation instinct, which enforces absolute obedience to anyone of a rank higher than theirs.
  • The Manchurian Candidate is the work most associated with this trope in the public mind. An American soldier held prisoner in North Korea is brainwashed to become an assassin on command. However, it's not quite a straight example, as his beliefs and values don't really change.
  • The Shepherds in the Neverwhere/How the Marquis Got His Coat Back universe get workers this way.
  • Arguably the most famous example is Winston's ordeal in Nineteen Eighty-Four. He loved Big Brother... in the end.
  • Norby and the Court Jester: Due to the nature of the virtual reality video game named Teenytrip, the Mainframe can send a Trojan Horse virus that causes the population to anticipate a great change in society. After the plot is uncovered, the royal family realizes that they can't actually undo the brainwashing, and will have to find some similar social upheaval that will satisfy their citizen's urge for change.
  • In The Platinum Key, TRAPPSTON was hypnotized by Tayk Wun to turn evil and steal the Platinum Key. Aly manages to accidentally undo the hypnotism.
  • The Quantum Thief: The Tzaddikim, along with the majority of the Oubliette. From the Cryptarchs' perspective, it's Brainwashing for the Greater Good, as the true history of the Oubliette is rather unpleasant and the relatively small amount of mind theft they allow and facilitate keeps Sobornost from seriously considering invading.
  • In one Fashion Fairy book of the Rainbow Magic series, everyone is brainwashed to like Ice Blue and only Ice Blue.
  • Shaman of the Undead: WON brainwashes Muggles who had contact with supernatural to keep up The Masquerade.
  • Soul Rider: After having magically compelled herself to become the champion of Mother Church on World, Cassie's bond eventually falls apart and she is captured by the male-dominated society of New Eden, and wakes up from unconsciousness to find she's been undressed, gagged and handcuffed just as a prelude to her "re-education", using traditional brainwashing methods to turn her into a compliant female. Their task is made easier by the fact that she's tired of being a responsible leader and is going through the low point of a manic-depressive swing that makes her want to turn authority over her life over to someone else. By the end of her brainwashing, she's willing to marry New Eden's leader and bind herself with a spell that makes her a sex-obsessed, physically exaggerated, airheaded Fluxgirl.
  • Star Wars:
    • Servants of the Empire: Project Unity brainwashes dissidents against the Empire by subjecting them to both psychological manipulation and pharmaceutical conditioning to convince them that the Empire's methods are right and they shouldn't rebel. Zare Leonis finds the flaw in the Empire's methods by breaking through his friend Beck Ollet's conditioning using the smell of a jogan fruit to remind Ollet of his family's jogan fruit orchards, the ones that the Empire destroyed. After this, Ollet joins Zare's struggle to free his sister and ends up sacrificing his life.
    • Star Wars Legends:
      • The Han Solo Trilogy: Ylesian Pilgrims undergo brainwashing into the scam One and the All cult through combining Exultation (a highly addictive sensation they receive from the priests that is claimed to have a divine source) with a diet which leaves them always malnourished, thus more malleable than usual.
      • Shadows of the Empire: Xizor's pheromones essentially do this to women, since he says even if they were faithful to others for years, they'll only want to have sex with him after exposure.
      • Tales of the Bounty Hunters: This is essentially what happened to Dengar. Imperial surgeons used brain surgery to remove most emotions from him. COMPNOR Redesign also does something similar to Aruzans, who are all pacifists, turning them violent and aggressive.
  • Summer Knight: Elaine reveals that Justin DuMorne used magic to influence her mind and brainwash her to betray Harry years ago. That's why she helped him try to capture Harry.
  • Sword of Truth:
    • Anyone who undergoes Confession loves the Confessor who does it without limit over the rest of their life, will do anything they're ordered to, and die from grief without them.
    • Mord-Sith are tortured and forced to kill so they'll serve as fanatically elite bodyguards/torturers of the Lord Rahl.
  • Time Scout's version of Prince Eddy of Victorian London is under the control of Jack the Ripper.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Dark Lord and their elite minions will often have the power to control people, turning them into automata who do their bidding. Puppet kings are controlled in this way, along with elite soldiers.
  • The Tripods: Humanity has been conquered and enslaved by the Masters, alien entities who use televised mass hypnosis on the human population when they began the turn the tide of battle on their invasion. To make sure the process was permanent, humans at the age of 14 are forced to wear Caps permanently affixed to the skull, removing the victim's creativity and curiosity while regarding the Masters as their saviors. Some "Cappings" can go wrong, however, when a mind is too weak or too strong and eventually collapses under the strain, creating Vagrants who wander from town to town spouting nonsense.
  • Villains by Necessity: The good guys are doing this to the villains. After good finally triumphed over evil, the few remaining not totally good people are being secretly rounded up and "whitewashed", basically forced to forget about their previous lives and live the live of an average productive citizen. And the good guys no longer have any moral qualms about forcing this fate on people, since it can't be evil if the good guys are doing it... right?
  • The Wheel of Time has Compulsion. There's also Semirhage. Compulsion can be unwoven, though in extreme cases there may be nothing left of the original person. Semirhage's work, done with conventional methods, is all but impossible to undo.
  • The Witchlands: Esme's Cleaved are witches who had all their Threads (connections to other people, places, emotions, etc.) save for one broken, with that last one being attached to Esme-controlled Loom, which either turns them homicidal or makes them utterly devoted to Esme's cause, regardless of their previous stance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alias: The enemies attempt this on Sydney, but it only fails because her own father had spent her childhood hardening her against this very possibility. Screwed-up family, indeed.
  • Babylon 5: Psi-cop Bester turns Garibaldi into a secret agent so secret that even he doesn't know it.
  • Blake's 7 opens with Roj Blake, a loyal citizen of the Terran Federation, being informed that he was once a Rebel Leader who was captured and brainwashed until he was willing to publicly denounce his own rebellion. His memories were then altered so he remembered nothing about his past. However, the Federation is worried that Blake will regain his memories, so they frame him and have him deported to a penal colony, setting off the events of the series.
  • Birds of Prey (2002): Harley is given an ability to hypnotize people in the series finale. She uses it to make people kill themselves and serve as her mooks.
  • Danger 5: Allied soldiers are being turned into Japanese robot-soldiers in "Kill-Men of the Rising Sun".
  • Dark Angel: Manticore loves to do this by pumping drugs into X-5s, then blasting them in the eye with a laser for hours on end, leaving them not even knowing what they had revealed while drugged.
  • Dollhouse: A major use of the technology, developed over the course of the series, is to allow long-distance brainwashing — either of selected targets, or of anyone who can hear the signal. By the end, this has escalated to the point that the majority of the surviving population of the planet is brainwashed to kill anyone who isn't brainwashed. It's also something that can be hidden in even the most mundane of imprints; for instance, the kind-hearted, gentle, Mellie can be transformed into a ruthless killer with a simple code phrase.
  • Farscape: "Thank God It's Friday... Again", among several others. Including the episode "A Clockwork Nebari", where the induced nausea isn't on the characters, but on the audience, as it involves pulling the eyeball a foot out of its socket and placing a microchip on the exposed optic nerve. Never mind that Eyeballs Do Not Work That Way, gah.
  • Hanna: All of the Utrax girls have been indoctrinated, drugged and trained from birth to be assassins in a secret CIA program. It's not surprising that of them all, only a select few rebel against it.
  • In From the Cold opens with showing three people in Madrid influenced somehow to attack or harass others, apparently at random. Another is later shown as well, killing others at her wedding party. While this is triggered, it shows as their eyes flashing a metallic blue gray. Jenny later pretends that she's one to get away with killing a man while in a bathhouse. However, the cops are skeptical of this by now since after the events many people have also claimed this, and see through her claims. Toward the end of the first season, Becca is brainwashed as well and sent to carry out an attack — fortunately, Jenny learns how to stop it.
  • Kamen Rider Decade:
    • A somewhat ambiguous example. Diend seems to have this effect on the Riders he summons VIA the Diend Driver. The most notable example is during the Hibiki arc, when he summons Momotaros to distract Decade temporarily. Which is odd, as Decade and the Den-O group separated on good terms. (Thus, they wouldn't have a reason to fight) It explains why Momo was willing to pound the guy's head in, though.
    • Yusuke is subject to this three full times. The most straightforward example is Decade's trip to Diend's reality, where Yusuke is captured by Fourteen's minions and injected with a mind-parasite that turns him into one of the world's "kind citizens". Natsumi almost gets the same treatment, but Decade destroys Fourteen and liberates everybody. Yusuke also finds himself mentally hijacked twice during the movies (Once by Priestess Bishum and the other by Kiva-La) to fight against Decade.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O: Ryuutaros can brainwash entire crowds at the click of his host's fingers and influence them to dance with him (whether or not they can hear the music is never touched on).
  • Legend of the Seeker:
    • Everyone subject to Confession turns into a completely devoted slave of the Confessor. This is only broken with the Confessor's death or losing their magic (in the books, it's permanent, and Confessed people die of despair if they witness the Confessor dying).
    • Mord-Sith are broken psychologically by torture as girls, Forced to Watch their mothers die from torture, then fatally torture their own fathers and begin the training after that. Some break free, like Cara, but only with great difficulty. Darken Rahl captures and "rebreaks" her as well.
  • The Mighty Boosh: In a series 2 episode, "Call of the Yeti", the main characters narrowly escape being brainwashed and raped by yeti.
  • NCIS: The North Korean assassin named Kai had in her childhood been to an institution remarkably like the Academy in Firefly and is seeking revenge.
  • The Outpost: In season 3, Yavalla's kinj is capable of reproducing, with her infecting people using it. Each one infected becomes mind controlled to her kinj and will obey her commands.
  • Person of Interest: After she's captured, Shaw gets implanted with a neural implant by Samaritan to brainwash her, as she's a formidable asset. However, it works imperfectly — even with its influence, Shaw fights it, such that after over 6,000 simulations, they still can't get her to follow orders completely.
  • The Power (2023): It turns out that the power is capable of affecting people's minds and changing their thoughts, via manipulating the electricity in their brains. Eve uses this on Sister Veronica, stopping her alerting the police to Eve's location.
  • Probe: In "Quit-It", the neighborhood is acting oddly, something Karen assumes is due to them being replaced, but is actually a form of Subliminal Seduction.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate SG-1: The Goa'uld are shown on several occasions to have the ability to brainwash people if they choose to. Being the Goa'uld, they have no moral qualms about doing so.
    • Teal'c's son Ryak is brainwashed by the Goa'uld into believing his father is a traitor. It takes a painful hit of the zat gun to bring him around.
    • Teal'c himself is brainwashed into once again believing the Goa'uld are gods, as he makes multiple attempts to betray the SG1 team (they don't fall for it). It takes being brought close to death to snap him out of it.
    • Technically, the way the heroes defeat the Ori's followers in Stargate: The Ark of Truth is brainwashing, even if they are being made to believe the truth.
    • In Stargate Atlantis, the heroes attempt at several points to brainwash some Wraith into believing they are human. This is one of the most controversial actions taken by the heroes (in universe and out), and the consequences of these attempts come back to bite them. Hard.
    • The Wraith also have the power to manipulate human minds to some degree, but it's not showcased much.
    • Telford in Stargate Universe is brainwashed to act as an agent for the Lucian Alliance, and it's a while before anyone figures it out.
  • Supernatural: The higher-ups in Heaven consider this the standard methodology for dealing with insubordinate angels. Castiel in particular is a repeated victim of this. It never holds up in the face of Cas's "profound bond" with Dean.
  • True Blood: The vampires can glamour people into doing things that they would not ordinarily do.
  • UFO (1970): "The Psychobombs", "Kill Straker!", "E.S.P.", "The Cat With Ten Lives", "Destruction", "Mindbender" and "The Man Who Came Back" all have humans who have been put under mental control by the aliens for their nefarious purposes.
  • Series/V1983: The Visitors have a brainwashing method called conversion, but humans are so resistant to it that it is only considered worth the bother for a few vital individuals.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): In the episode "The Pied Piper", pop musician Hamlin Rule uses his music and other hypnotizing techniques to transform his fans and Wonder Woman into obedient slave groupies in order to rob his own box office.

  • Avengers: Infinity Quest: The Mind Gem Quest mode has Supergiant use mind control on part of your team, requiring several shots to break them out of her spell.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • Destroy the Godmodder had severe cases of mass brain-washing in the first game. One of the Godmodder's most insidious abilities is his ability to mind control weak summoned entities, which he tends to do if the Anti-Godmodders have an upper hand in the entity battle. The godmodder brainwashing one-post summons was how he got most of his army for a period of time. This is the reason why instasummoning (summoning entities without charging) is frowned upon after the very early game.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In the 4th edition version of the Draconomicon, there's a sample mini-adventure in which a green dragon has pulled this on a handful of hapless Eladrin. Yes, even with their boosted Will defense.
  • GURPS:
    • There is a skill specifically for this purpose, unsurprisingly named "Brainwashing". Unlike most examples, it's a slow process that can take weeks if not months to pull off, depending on the will of the would-be target, and requires the target to be captive. This skill has the obvious game implications of giving a good reason for a villain to say "I Want Them Alive!", and creating Paranoia Fuel for the players (was the ally I just rescued brainwashed by the enemy, and waiting for an opportunity to backstab me?). Fortunately, some skills can be used to cure it and return the victim to normal.
    • The skill Brain Hacking is a much faster variant, but requires high technology that can interact with the brain at the neural level. It still requires the target to be captive though.
  • Paranoia: "Brainscrubbing" is one of the routine ways of dealing with traitors, depending on severity (it's just above "adjust his meds" and just below "terminate him and activate his next backup clone").
  • Rocket Age has Hypnosis. Traditional hypnosis works as in real life, but a powerful psychic can use it to control a person through their perception of reality, implanted thoughts or any number of other techniques.
  • WitchCraft: In one of the gameplay examples on the Eden Studios website, the bumbling villain uses a psionic effect to do a kind of Jedi Mind Trick on an NPC, forcing her to do one sentence's worth of activities ("You love me and want nothing more than to follow me out of this bar.") so he can sacrifice her for evil purposes. However, what happens is that the PC breaks the effect, making her believe that he tried to hypnotize her, rather than use mind control, and so the lady proceeds to kick him in the balls, then smash his face in with a pool ball.
  • The World of Darkness: Both Old World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness have many supernatural varieties of this, such as Dominate for vampires, and the Mind Sphere for mages.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock: One audio diary reveal that Andrew Ryan had the plasmids modified so that Rapture's already brain-buggered population would be susceptible to mind-controlling pheromones. Pheromones and mental programming are also used to ensure that the Little Sisters stay close to the Big Daddies, and that the Big Daddies protect the Little Sisters. There's also "Would you kindly?".
  • Cave Story: The Mimigas are brainwashed by the Doctor into growing the red flowers known to turn Mimigas into mindless monsters.
  • Destiny's third expansion, The Taken King, gives us Oryx and the Taken — a personal army made up of ghostly, brainwashed mooks from the other races in the game.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns has this trope, and started at the very beginning of the game! But Donkey Kong was able to resist the brainwashing effects.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: In the Dragonborn DLC, the Bend Will shout, Miraak's Signature Move, can be used to subjugate mortals and even dragons. You eventually learn it, and can use it to become a Dragon Rider.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy II: The Dark Knight is capable of this, commanding the people of Bafsk to build the Dreadnought. When Borghen takes over, the slave labour is far less efficient. Not that the Dark Knight actually left... It's also implied that the Emperor brainwashed Leon into becoming the Dark Knight.
    • Final Fantasy IV loves this trope, pulling it once with The Lancer/Mr. Face–Heel Turn Kain Highwind falling subject to it twice, and then again with supposed Big Bad Golbez actually being a puppet of the real Big Bad Zemus.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy: All over the place. Between the game and its sequel, Terra, Tidus, Jecht, and Kuja have all been brainwashed to fight for evil instead of good, the former two in Duodecim and the latter two in Dissidia.
  • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon: Gharnef is doing this to Dragon Princess Tiki via putting her in a hypnotic state, and convincing her that the player's army are intruders, and Gharnef is the only one that can protect her belived guardian, Bantu for her. Only Bantu, who joins Marth's army, can break the brainwashing, via the bond between the two.
  • Judgment Rites: The omnipotent Trelane creates a romanticized version of a World War 1 German town named "Gothos" in which to play out his childish fascination with the war. Lacking anyone to populate the town, he kidnaps three Federation ships and brainwashes the crews to serve as the town's population. The townspeople are all stereotypes, but fully believe their roles and have no memory of their real lives. When Trelane is finally driven off one way or another, the crewmembers regain their memories but forget their time in Gothos almost completely. In the epilogue, Gretel Gernsbeck does seem to vaguely remember having met Kirk.
  • The King of Fighters: Botan from Those of the Past can do this via converting human beings into People Puppets with thin wires, controlling their actions and minds. She uses this skill on Chizuru Kagura in 2003, and on Rose Berstein in XI and until the end of XIII.
  • Labyrinths of the World 9: Lost Island: Simon is hypnotized into doing Dietrich's evil bidding.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel the third game has this Rean's team finds that his former class VII has went through some form of brain washing. And the final dungeon has his new Class VII team face off against his friends
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Loser Reborn: The protagonist has the ability to brainwash women by headpatting them. The author states that any relationships formed through headpatting are never true love. One of the antagonists, the Cultist, has the same headpatting ability, which he used to control several of the protagonist's female soldiers.
  • Manhunt 2 has this being a huge part of the plot, as later you learn that your best friend Leo was only a split personality implanted into your character's brain as part of a brainwashing project started by the government, nicknamed simply as the Project.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The Reapers are able to inflict this, which is referred to as "indoctrination". Saren, among others, turns out to have been indoctrinated by the Reaper Sovereign, the real Big Bad of the first game. What makes it really frightening is that (A) it's subtle — so subtle that you won't even notice any change in your behavior or normal thinking patterns (you'll rationalize and justify the actions you're taking, even if you expect the changes and even if you think you're fighting it), (B) it's erosive and eventually destroys a person's free will, regardless of how subtle or functional they were at first, and (C) it's permanent. Even if the Reaper stops giving orders through the indoctrination, the person affected will just be a mindless husk, unable to do anything on their own.
    • Mass Effect: The Thorian — a thousands-of-years-old sapient plant — can enslave an entire human colony on Feros, turning them into a Hive Mind of obedient workers. Once you start to pose a threat to it, the entire colony goes hostile. Unlike indoctrination, the Thorian's brainwashing is less subtle and more brute-force, and one character is shown to struggle for control of their body.
    • Mass Effect 2 introduces the Ardat-Yakshi, who have the abilitiy to seduce anyone they wish (only to destroy their partner's nerve system when having sex). Commander Shepard can experience this, acting as bait in a mission to track one and kill her, if the player lacks the necessary paragon or renegade level the only dialogue options that remain result in Shepard soullessly complying with anything she wishes, until rescued by Samara's intervention.
  • Minervas Adventure (a The Legend of Zelda clone of sorts): There's a "brainwashed" Status Effect. It is put on Minerva if she loses, or surrenders, to a Random Encounter of heretic cult members. While the player can still control her as before, under this effect she will refuse to wear clothes, refuse to fight and when interacting with other people, she will either get appalled reactions (if women) or flat-out rape them (if men). Since this is an Action-Adventure, this would make the game impossible to win, but a visit to the local Physical Goddess can remove the status.
  • Mother 3:
    • Porky, with the help of Fassad, uses "Happy Boxes" to woo the previously low-tech and peaceful citizens of Tazmily Village into a materialistic lifestyle. Toward the end, most of the villagers move to New Pork City, except the Main party and their companions.
    • It is revealed that the people of Tazmily village are the last of the human race who after the previous world was destroyed by a man-made Armageddon fled to the Nowhere Islands for a new start. To do so they abandoned most technology and willingly brainwashed themselves to stop another Armageddon from happening (with the exception of Leder who uses his bell to keep the memories suppressed and to explain the story if the need arises).
  • Overlord: This becomes one of the Overlord's powers. Using it on civilians will cause them to flock to the Overlord and either attack the nearest enemy when in battle or just help create resources if in a town.
  • String Tyrant: All of the enemies are brainwashed into loving the mansion where they live, and to try help their guests love it too. Happens to the protagonist after losing.
  • Super Robot Wars uses this exceptionally liberally; If a particular protagonist is one of their original creations, the odds are fairly high that they've been brainwashed at least once, in at least one of the many different timelines. One Big Bad of a faction even makes it part of their standard operating procedure. Okay. More than one...(One faction's plot is to Brainwash/Clone the ENTIRE CAST!)
  • Traffic Department 2192: The foul-mouthed, gung-ho Action Girl protagonist, Lt. Velasquez, is kidnapped by her hated foe, the Vulture Cult Army, and brainwashed into serving them. Not only does she perform outstandingly in the field, she's also a lot more disciplined than the loose cannon she seemed to be when she was still with the good guys. Naturally, she eventually overcomes the brainwashing and returns to the TD... where her boss is less disturbed by her being brainwashed, and more worried by the fact that she's even-tempered, obedient, and disciplined...
  • Witch Hunter Izana: A major feature of what makes the anatgonists threatening. Verand is spreading a curse that not only quickly turns the afflicted into Monsters, but almost makes all positive emotions redirected into loving her. Her soldiers cannot imagine not adoring and serving her. Even if it means betraying close friends as Cyrano finds out.
  • World of Warcraft features "Mind Control" as a standard Priest spell, allowing control of opposing characters and some monsters for a short period of time. Mind control and More than Mind Control scenarios also feature prominently in the canon.

    Web Animation 

  • Demonseed Redux: With Chico being part-demon, Rhoda gives him a magical amulet, which turns him into a full demon and her mindless slave until it gets broken.
  • A Girl and Her Fed features mass brainwashing as a major plot element.
  • Homestuck:
    • While the full effects haven't been explored, Jane has at least subtly been affected by Subliminal Seduction — by the Betty Crocker company. The effects become a lot less subtle later, when Grimbark Jade forces the mindcontrol headband on her and she becomes a puppet controlled by a computer.
    • Any character who enters Trickster Mode loses the ability to have negative emotions, effectively brainwashing them into a perpetually happy shell of themselves.
    • The power of possibly all cobalt bloods, but definitely the True Scorpios Vriska and Aranea Serket, is to brainwash sapient life. Both Aranea and her post-scratch counterpart Marquise Spinneret Mindfang were able to brainwash large masses of trolls with frightening ease.
    • The power of possibly all bronze bloods, but definitely the True Taurus' Tavros and Rufioh Nitram, is to brainwash non-sapient life. Both of them, as well as Rufioh's post-scratch counterpart The Summoner, were able to commune with and control large numbers of animals, lusii, monsters and SBURB underlings, including the nigh omnipotent Becquerel.
    • Thanks to a special tiara, The Condesce is able to use all other troll powers, including those of the Taurus and Scorpio signs. She uses this to brainwash Jade into her Grimbark state, and to control the Godcat.
    • Thanks to their Chucklevoodoos, Kurloz is able to brainwash others, making Meulin do his bidding, and Gamzee asserts control through dreams, such as placing the Harlequin in John's room on Prospit that made him write on his posters in his sleep, and placing Lil Cal in Dave's room on Derse.
    • Lil Cal curses everyone looking into his eyes, making them crazy and unempathetic, because they are influenced by the mind of Lord English, a by then mixture of Caliborn, Gamzee and ARquiussprite. The effect is seen on Bro, who is neglectful and abusive, Gamzee, who turns homicidal and even more abusive, and B2 universe's Jack noir, who is completely taken over by English's mind.
  • Knights of Buena Vista: Adriana's Player Character is being crowned queen, but the PC player her sister realizes the bishop wasn't saying a benediction. He was chanting a mind control spell.
  • Milhamah: Fighting Words: A majority of the population is brainwashed by the Bavel Macrostructure, an evil regime that uses a reimagined Tower of Babel.
  • Newshounds has Wolfram so brainwashed that he doesn't even recognize his own wife.
  • Recursion: After Dr. Deathe winds up on a primitive world (actually her homeworld, but in the distant past), she brainwashes some of the locals to provide her with workers for her mines and other menial tasks.
  • Sluggy Freelance: Oasis was the brainwashing victim of Dr. Steve, though since his death, she's gone into Brainwashed and Crazy territory. Sam also developed the ability to control people's minds, though even that's not enough to make girls think he's cool.
  • The Witch's Throne: The girls who awaken as Witches all appear to be brainwashed and lose their self-control to the Witch powers.

    Web Original 
  • Arcana Magi: Alysia Morales and Reya Everheart were brainwashed by an Evil Corporation.
  • SCP Foundation: A person wearing one of SCP-288 ("The "Stepford Marriage" Rings") is brainwashed into acting like a perfect wife or husband.
  • Whateley Universe: Cavalier and Skybolt. The witch Hekate tricked them into entering a 'Fool's Circle', and cast a human-sacrifice-of-children-dark binding spell, which forced them to obey all her commands, while still remaining conscious of their actions. Subsequently, Hekate and Don Sebastiano raped and humiliated Cavalier and Skybolt repeatedly for a year. The two victims, once freed by Fey, were very, very angry. Worse, from Hekate's point of view, Fey got angry too...

    Web Videos 
  • Mahu: The alien Zracon priesthood uses this to "convert" other races, turning them into fanatical believers of their faith and dangerous sleeper agents.
  • Happens to Film Brain when captured by the Cloaks in Suburban Knights. He gets better with the help of the rest of the team, though.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: The townspeople (and, for much of the episode, the Dearlys and the puppies) in "De Vil-age Elder" due to a curse placed on the town by the witch that makes them all delieriously happy and unwilling to leave. It does not work on Spot, a chicken, and she manages to break the spell by kissing the affected victims.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Used on Jet, but none too effectively; with appropriate urging, he is able to break through it and lead the heroes back to where he got brainwashed... playing right into the villain's hands, not long after which he shifts into Brainwashed and Crazy mode when a code phrase is said. The only reason the Gaang realized he was brainwashed is his old friend Smellerbee tells her side and Toph noted they are both being truthful. It is only when Smellerbee mentions Jet was taken by the Dai Li did they consider Jet to be manipulated.
    • The behavior of the Joo Dee is somewhat indicative.
  • Beverly Hills Teens: Used by Pierce, who uses a spherical device to hypnotize both Larke into going on a date with him, and a bunch of people on the beach.
  • Bratz: The snobby antagonist Burdine uses a hypnosis tool called the Hypnozapper she brought over the internet to force Sasha and Jade into sabotaging the Bratz on the night they're set to receive the "Teen Choice Award." Meanwhile the Tweevil twins try to hypnotize Cameron and Dylan so they will fall in love with them.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: A brainwashing toy called the Boyfriend Helmet appears twice. Oddly, when Lizzie uses it on Nigel, he just tells her, "Don't ever use one of those things on me again, Lizzie!" and continues to date her for six seasons, but when Jimmy later uses it on Lizzie, he's thrown in KND prison.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • Freakshow does this to Danny in "Control Freaks" to make him a part of his ghostly group who steals goods for him. Naturally he's freed by The Power of Friendship through a Catch a Falling Star moment.
    • Ember does this to Danny in order to distract him. She makes him believe that he is in love with Sam.
    • Also used by Undergrowth, who not only turns the citizens of Amity Park his slaves under the control of his mind vines, but making Sam his "daughter" due to her love of plants. Not coincidentally, both Undergrowth and Sam were voiced by Mark Hamill and Grey DeLisle, who voiced Lord Ozai and his daughter, Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • Brainwashing is a huge part of the plot of seasons one and two of Detentionaire. It's done by way of Mind-Control Music, specifically a song called the Prank Song, which seems to affect everyone but Lee and Biffy, who are immune.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: The episode "The Fair Bears" has the titular Refugees from TV Land hypnotizing and putting Timmy, Cosmo, Wanda and Chloe to sleep. They later brainwash Timmy and Wanda by putting "Happy Hats" (really brainwashing helmets) on them, making them irresistible to the trio, complete with Wingding Eyes.
  • I ♡ Arlo: In the Season 1 finale "The Uncondemning", the villainous Bog Lady of the Louisiana swamp where Arlo was raised all his life ensnares him with her plant magic and brainwashes him into never leaving the swamp again, not even caring if everyone around him is still in peril. Thankfully, he was released thanks to Bertie and Alia coming to the rescue.
  • In the Jonny Quest episode "Pirates from Below", Hadji hypnotizes a guard by tricking him into watching a flashing ruby and using the usual hypnotist's patter.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Kim falls victim to this at least three times, and it's used at least a few more.
    • Shego suffers this via control chip from her boss, Dr. Draken, in "The Twin Factor", but is very aware of everything she does or hears, something she furiously reminds him about when she's free.
  • Martin Mystery is rather fond of using monsters or alien invaders brainwashing innocent human victims or some of the cast to be their slaves. Unsurprising, as it is produced by the same TV production company as Totally Spies.
  • Masters of the Universe
    • The He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) episode "The Mystery of Man-E-Faces" shows Beast Man using his power over beasts to make Manny-in monster-mug form — attack He-Man. However, he clearly doesn't wish to, and shows this with a tear in his eye.
    • In the She-Ra: Princess of Power episode "The Perils of Peekablue", Shadow Weaver forces the all-seeing heroine to be Hordak's spy with her mind-control magic. Peek isn't content with one demure tear; she fairly flows. In fact, it's her streaming eyes that tell her fellow rebels that she isn't serving the Horde willingly.
  • Mega Man (Ruby-Spears):
    • In "Mega-Pinocchio", Wily cons Mega Man into thinking he is human by installing a mind-control chip on him. This is also the fate of the original Robot Masters who were reprogrammed by Wily in the first episode.
    • All the humans, including Dr. Light, are brainwashed by Dr. Wily in "Cold Steel".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Brainwashing is a common villain power:
      • In the season 2 premiere, Big Bad Discord brainwashes Twilight's friends into going against their respective Elements of Harmony: the honest Applejack becomes a compulsive Bad Liar, the happy-go-lucky Pinkie Pie becomes bad-tempered and overly-serious, the generous Rarity becomes greedy and possessive of a boulder she thinks is a giant diamond, the kindly Fluttershy becomes a bully, and the loyal Rainbow Dash is tricked into ditching her friends to save her supposedly endangered birthplace of Cloudsdale. This turns out to be part of Discord's plan, so that the Mane Six won't be able to use the Elements of Harmony on him, even if they find them.
      • In the season 2 finale, Queen Chrysalis has Shining Armor brainwashed into doing her bidding while she impersonates Cadance and feeds on his love for her.
      • In the season 3 premiere, Twilight Sparkle falls into a trap left by King Sombra that brainwashes a victim into living out their worst fear. She is led to think she's been rejected by Princess Celestia, and when Spike frees her from it, he falls in and thinks Twilight Sparkle has rejected him.
    • Not only villains, either. Brainwashing is a common thing in unicorn magic: spells that do this can be found in Ponyville library without any guard and are used pretty often.
      • Twilight Sparkle twice uses a spell that somehow alters animals' ration. In both cases, things Gone Horribly Wrong.
      • Twilight Sparkle also takes a page from Discord's book in "Lesson Zero" and use a spell to make the Cutie Mark Crusaders fighting for her shabby doll so she can solve a friendship problem and thus have something to write to Princess Celestia about but accidentally ends up causing a skirmish by brainwashing a good chunk of Ponyville.
      • The spell that Princess Cadance uses in a flashback to restore peace between a couple of ponies is considered some sort of this by fans. In truth, this case is not clear, and it easily can be some sort of reminder like with "undiscording" the Mane 5 above.
      • In "Keep Calm and Flutter On", when Discord has been sentenced by Celestia to Heel–Face Turn, the first idea that comes into Twilight's head is, guess what... Brainwash him, you're right.
      • In "Every Little Thing She Does", Starlight Glimmer wants to impress Twilight Sparkle by getting all of her friendship lessons completed successfully, so she casts a spell that turns five of the Mane Six (everyone except Twilight) into willing slaves who do exactly what she tells them to do, with understandably disastrous results. She can't even ask them how to do the activities assigned because they only want to do whatever she says that they should. To make things worse, the spell is so powerful that it leaves the gang feeling exhausted and drained even a day later. Note that this pattern resembles Twilight from first seasons of the show and is one of the reasons why some fans see Starlight as Replacement Scrappy.
  • Quack Pack: Huey Duck sets off for the dentist, but instead winds up the subject for a Mad Scientist who accidentally equips the duck with the bio-remote the Big Bad needs to use to conquer the world. As the headgear gives Huey the near-infinite power of mind control, Huey becomes mad with power and makes himself emperor of the world by forcing the populace to worship him, but realizes he's still miserable.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): In one episode, Robotnik uses a "submission spell" to control Sally Acorn and Bunny, transporting them to any place, but without major consequences.
  • In the Space Ghost episode "The Sandman", Jan and Jace are subjected to the title villain's mind control device.
  • Late in the first season of SpacePOP, Geela brainwashes the girls' parents to cajole them into surrendering.
  • The final arc of Superman: The Animated Series involves Darkseid capturing Superman and giving him to Granny Goodness, whose specialty is brainwashing, so that he thinks he's Darkseid's son, Kal-El of Apokolips, happily conquering star systems for his father. Darkseid likes the irony, the military advantage, and apparently having a son he can be proud of. (Kalibak is not happy.) Oddly, given the setting, Granny's brainwashing didn't make him actively evil, it just made him believe in Darkseid and his empire and not think too hard. Darkseid even assigned four of his elite troops to be Kal's 'buddies,' who he's 'known all his life' and jokes around with. They actually hate him but they fake it pretty well. He's polite, and reacts to his regular sessions in Granny's chair like a very good boy being sent to the dentist. He's still basically the same guy. This makes it creepier. Then Darkseid gets addicted to irony and sends him to conquer Earth. Lois breaks him out with the Power of Love before he and his army do too much real damage, but his reputation is wrecked and there are still repercussions years later on Justice League.
  • Brother Blood of Teen Titans (2003) has this as his MO. Only Cyborg is able to consistently resist his powers.
  • Totally Spies! loves this trope, especially for Sam as a running gag in the series. In fact, this was done not only to them, but their families and friends as well (Tim Scam brainwashing their mothers to kill them, a disgruntled child mind controlling all the children in the world including one of the girl's younger siblings, Jerry's being turned evil by his evil brother, the previous trio of female spies, the list goes on).
  • Not quite the same, but many devices in the Transformers multiverse are able to temporarily "overwrite" the personality and faction programming of one side with that of the other.
    • Of particular note, in Beast Wars, Megatron gene-washes Rhinox into a Predacon, but he becomes so evil Megatron is forced to change him back. Perhaps ironically, he does this when Rhinox is monologuing on the machine that changed him in the first place.
    • Then there's the Robo-Smasher from Generation 1, which put the "-con" into the Constructicons. Luckily for Omega Supreme, he merely ended up getting mind-raped.
  • The Venture Bros. does this to Colonel Bud Manstrong as a parody of The Manchurian Candidate. Abraham Lincoln's ghost even lampshades this.
    "Didn't you ever see The Manchurian Candidate? Even the remake with Denzel?"
  • W.I.T.C.H.: This trope appears in both "Walk This Way", and "G is For Garbage", as a mystical horn that hypnotizes its victims into trance-marchers who do anything they can for those who possesss it.
  • In WordGirl, this is the recurring villain Mr. Big's gimmick. And Victoria Best.
  • Done a few times in X-Men: Evolution, mostly by Mesmero, who uses his hypnosis powers to gain control of the X-Men several times.

    Real Life 
  • The term in English is derived from the Chinese 洗脑 "clean/wash the brain", used to describe the combination of torture and propaganda-barrage used on U.N.-aligned troops, mostly Americans, during the Korean War in order to extract false confessions for use in broader propaganda. The actual efficacy of any form of brain washing, from torture to subtle persuasion to drugs to hypnotism, is highly disputed. It is generally held that such techniques can be very good at extracting compliance from the victim, but true ideological turn-about à la the books and film 1984 or The Manchurian Candidate is not to be expected-in the few cases where this seems to have happened, it has generally been linked to the prisoner's captors treating them better than their own nominal side (see: Japanese POWs during World War II).
    • It's worth mentioning hypnosis, which can make people do some odd things. However, it is impossible to hypnotize someone against their will or force them to do something they would absolutely refuse to do. At most, any kind of hyponotised sleeper agent would not remember their mission until given the trigger, but they would still have to agree with their orders.
  • Arguably, some religious and corporate groups are capable of this.
    • Drink the Flavor Aid!
    • Look at the profile of the individuals they had to start with. Predisposition makes it possible. Now you can redirect your Paranoia Fuel to whether you fit the profile.
  • As with quite a few other kooky schemes, you can bet your bottom dollar that NATO and the Warsaw Pact did experiments with brainwashing during the Cold War. Thankfully, nothing ever came of those experiments.
  • While technically possible as in the Korean War example above, brainwashing in the sense used back then needed a) to have complete control over the target's life and b) a lot of time (at least months). This made it far less efficient unless the victim already lives in a totalitarian environment which he or she can't leave.
  • There are quite a few online fetish communities centered around mind control and brainwashing.
  • Haiti 'zombies' were/are really people who have been poisoned with a combination of atropine and/or scopolamine which comes from some plant life and tetrodotoxin. The tetrodotoxin makes the person seem dead when they are really paralyzed and breathing shallowly, the atropine puts them in a state of suggestible delirium that can be controlled in order to have the zombie labor for his master. Traditionally this has been employed as a punishment for social transgressions in some parts of rural Haiti.
    • Common criminals such as thieves and rapists have also been reported to use atropine or scopolamine on victims. People are commanded to allow others into their homes to steal their things, to part with all their money, to release identity information, or to have sex and don't remember it afterwards.
  • The CIA was revealed to have been officially researching mind control with the declassification of documents relating to Project MKUltra (those that hadn't already been destroyed).
    • It was revealed that the CIA's belief that something like this was possible was because of the show trial in the late 1940s of a Hungarian Catholic bishop who "confessed" to all sorts of things which were clearly absurd but who otherwise seemed rational, followed by the Korean War situation mentioned previously. Years later, during the 1956 Hungarian uprising, the man revealed that the "brainwashing" he'd experienced consisted of men with blackjacks who'd smack him around and threats of death unless he did what they wanted. It turns out this was also the case for other infamous incidents like the Moscow Show Trials, where the Old Bolshevik defendants confessed to crimes against the Soviet Union. They had suffered threats to loved ones too, and the confessions were not only scripted, their whole trials were.
  • Conspiracy theorists will have you believe that basically, every actress, model, female singer, Fox News commentator, TV newsanchor, reporter, sports reporter and weathergirl has been subject to Monarch beta sex kitten programming in which they were brainwashed by The Illuminati as little girls through physical and psychological torture and sexual abuse by a "handler" and they're pimped out as sex slaves to the rich and powerful by Henry Kissinger and the Rothschilds at their sex parties. They also say that the other duties that these women have are as drug mules and as messengers who bribe highly influential people with sex.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hypnotize, Brainwash, Brainwashing


James "Nox" Lee

In "Elden Ring: Unironically Terrible", James spends most of the video in a zombie-like state, only briefly breaking free in a manic state before whatever was controlling him regains control.

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Main / Brainwashed

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