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Brainwashed and Crazy

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Ax-Crazy in this case.
Art by Geoduck.

"Have you ever had someone take your brain and play? Take you out and stuff something in? You know what it's like to be unmade?"
Hawkeye, The Avengers

The most dangerous form of Brainwashed, for everyone concerned.

A character is hypnotized/mind-controlled/whatnot and sent to kill their friends or do something similarly destructive. This may lead them to believe that their once-friends are enemies they have to take down.

This trope has been tested and busted by MythBusters in regard to hypnosis; most hypnotists and hypnotherapists (and plenty of fictional villains, for that matter) agree that this kind of mind control through hypnosis isn't possible, as the subject must want to go through with the suggestion for it to work or, at least, have no good reason to object. Which means an alternate interpretation would be that the brainwashing victim wanted to go through with it, if "hypnosis" is used as the explanation for such behavior.

On the other hand, if a writer wants to convey that a Brainwashed and Crazy character is indeed such and got that way unknowingly or unwillingly and/or is acting against his or her own interests, the writer will not depict hypnosis as the method of mind control, because there are far more effective (and far more frightening) ways an individual can be manipulated and/or controlled to act in a harmful or dangerous manner. The Real Life Trope Maker for this would be Nazi Germany, though a continuing situation of Domestic Abuse in Real Life is a far more common example.

It may require Deprogramming to cure, if the mind-controller doesn't try to force them to break an Intrinsic Vow. Also may result in an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight, ultimately resulting in a Dying as Yourself if they cannot be cured or freed and thusly must be destroyed, or kill themselves to spare their friends.

A subtrope of Face–Monster Turn. This trope is the inverse of Heel–Face Brainwashing. Compare with Enemy Exchange Program. See also Mirror Morality Machine.

Please do not add Real Life examples.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • In Catch! Teenieping, Happing was corrupted by an unknown party, turning her into Akdongping.
  • In Happy Heroes, this is the effect of the Planet Gray virus in Season 5, corrupting infected humans and robots and transforming them into monsters once the virus is activated within them.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Joker and Harley Quinn brainwashed Robin/Tim Drake into essentially becoming another Joker. However, this ended up backfiring when Tim broke through the brainwashing when ordered to kill Batman and instead killed the Joker.
    • Also, no hypnosis was involved here at all; Joker turned Tim into "Joker Junior" through Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • In Batman: Soul of the Dragon it's revealed that, when O-Sensei is finally freed from the gate, he's been possessed by a demon and has no problem fighting his former students. The demon is eventually killed, but he also dies in the process.
  • In Big Hero 6, Baymax gets his healthcare chip removed by Hiro and becomes an unstoppable killing machine to kill Callaghan. After he gets his healthcare chip back by Honey Lemon, he refuses to open his access portal on Hiro's insistence so he won't become a killing machine again.
  • In Despicable Me 2, Eduardo and Dr Nefario kidnap some of Gru's Minions and mutate them, turning them into mindless, indestructible monsters. This is reversed later by Nefario's antidote.
  • Heavy Metal 2000: Tyler is shown to be a normal asteroid miner before he came in contact with the Loc-Nar. As soon as he does, he immediately murders his co-worker with an ore drill while having a Slasher Smile on his face.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Toothless gets brainjacked by the King/Alpha Dragon. Starts off with him attempting to kill Hiccup — Stoick pushes him out of the way and takes the fatal hit. Later, Toothless serves as Drago's mount until Hiccup saves him with The Power of Friendship.
  • In Incredibles 2, the Screenslaver uses Epileptic Flashing Lights to control people. She also uses goggles for constant brainwashing, using them to control various superheroes with the intent of preventing the Super Registration Act from being overturned. Her puppet is also this, who was just a pizza delivery man.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: After Sunset Shimmer finally puts on Twilight's crown in the human world and turns into "a raging she demon" she brainwashes everyone in the school, turning them all into her own personal zombie army that she plans to use to invade Equestria and conquer it. Everyone is released after Sunset Shimmer is defeated.
    • This shows up again in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks when The Dazzlings use their magic to spread a Hate Plague around the school, turning everyone who doesn't have their own equestrian magic into a Competition Freak and overall jerks. The longer they are under their spell the more power they get until they eventually regain their true magic and manifest their siren forms. Their spell is broken in the finals when they are defeated and robbed of their magic, making them Hollywood Tone-Deaf.
  • In the Sakura Wars movie, Orihime Soletta gets ambushed by Patrick Hamilton, who then brainwashes her, and later controls her to fight the other members of Flower Division. She snaps out of it after her fire energy attack that meant for the Flower Division blows up and wrecks her Eisenkleid. She then says to Leni (Reni) after regaining consciousness, "I'm so sorry. I guess I really blew it this time."
  • In Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, this is Slade's ultimate plan: using a powerful machine and Robin's movie, he wants to put the entire world under his control. He succeeds during the climax, and uses the newly-brainwashed superheroes (and Robin) to keep the Titans from destroying the machine.
  • Disney-Pixar's Toy Story 3, when Lotso has Buzz reset into demo mode and convinces him that Jessie and co. are enemy prisoners. Later, when Woody returns to Sunnyside to save everyone, the gang tries to re-reset him and somehow turn him Spanish.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, it's later revealed that the Sugar Rush characters were made like this thanks to King Candy, who is actually Turbo in disguise, hacking into the system and turning Vanellope into a glitch.

  • In Infinity Game, the previous DM caused all the NPCs to go completely insane and kill everybody, though they were somewhat aware of what was happening as Trishia's sisters beg her to kill them or else they'll kill her first.

  • In Godzilla (Stern), King Ghidorah, Megalon, Ebirah, Titanosaurus, and Gigan are all mind-controlled by the Xiliens to force the Earth's population to give up their resources. Godzilla and his allies must fight them to stop them from taking over major world cities.

  • Dice Funk: The campaign really doesn't begin until mind-controlled miners show up and attack the party in the street.
  • In The Hidden Almanac, Drom spends most of the Fathers arc as this, having to doublethink her way into helping Mord. Unfortunately, the doublethink doesn't hold out forever.
    Pastor Drom: Okay, so you take the hypotenuse of the worthiness of the two sides MORD LOOK OUT I'VE GOT A STUN ROD AFTER ALL

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Common in Fighting Opera Hustle, where most of the more successful members of the Takada Monster army where well known professional wrestlers brainwashed and turned into monsters.
  • At CHIKARA The Bobliographon on May 24, 2009, The Order of the Neo-Solar Temple (UltraMantis Black and Crossbones) confronted Delirious and used the Eye of Tyr to force him into the group. As a result, he lost his usual manic energy.
    • At CHIKARA Disk on April 2nd, 2016, Hallowicked and Frightmare used the Eyenote  on Mantis, causing him to be possessed by Nazmaldun. This led to Mantis hexing The Batiri, Icarus and 'Mr. Touchdown' Mark Angelosetti, with their group being named the heXed Men.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: Most Exalted have a Presence charm that allows them to give other characters compulsions. If your character is an Abyssal, the result will probably be this trope.
  • Various RPGs have various powers used to control or influence others, such as the Dungeons & Dragons spell suggestion, and the charm and dominate series of spells.
    • At least in the third edition, Charm explicitly didn't work like this, despite being used as such in every game. It only makes the victim think of the caster as a friend, but it doesn't let them forget their other loyalties, meaning they'll likely be rather confused and anguished when their friends attack each other.
      • Dominate also cannot make a person do anything directly self-destructive ("stab yourself with your sword", "jump off the castle wall"), and if a dominated person is ordered to do something that is against their nature, they receive a new saving throw, with a cumulative +2 bonus. (A good demonstration is found in The Order of the Stick when they attempt to break the spell on a dominated paladin by disguising Belkar as lord Shojo, said paladin's master and lord.)
      • Order of the Stick also provides a good example of how Charm works, again with Belkar. He refuses to kill his friends and give their magic items to Nale... but since he's Chaotic Evil and a greedy bastard, he has no trouble killing them while singing the complete score to Meet Me In Saint Louis as long as he can keep their stuff.

  • In SD Gundam Ultimate Battle, Knight Unicorn Gundam was the reason behind the events of the story all along and, as Full Armor Knight Unicorn Gundam, plans to turn everyone into cards to use their power...except not really. Turns out that the armor Full Armor Knight Unicorn Gundam is donning is actually Red Majin Shamblo, and he's possessing him.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: The Overlord of Evil is capable of inflicting this on people to do his bidding, such as Melissa.
  • Gaming All-Stars: Polygon Man can do this to his victims by polygonizing them, erasing their old personalities entirely. The effects of this variety of brainwashing are so devastating that even the King of All Cosmos can't resurrect them like he's able to with the Trophified casualties at the beginning of 2.

  • Rosemaster does this to Almond in the third chapter of Cucumber Quest. Almond is brainwashed into viewing Lovable Coward Carrot as so weak and useless that he might as well be a villain for her to fight, and strikes at him with her sword until he's driven over the edge of a cliff. Afterwards, Almond is incredibly shaken and simply runs into Carrot's arms, crying. She also becomes very angry when the others (who were knocked out at the time) edge towards Cry for the Devil.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Dex is manipulated into attempting to kill Noah, Grace and Greg (even though it would kill him too).
  • In Erfworld, the Wild Card bordering on Chaotic Stupid behavior of Jillian Zamussels, notorious for attacking pretty much anyone at random, makes a lot more sense when you read the prequel and learn that her mind was tampered with to try and forcibly remold her base personality to one that her captors considered more suitable during a procedure to cure her addition to heroine buds.
  • Subverted in Exiern: Niels is attacked by a magic user and controlled to steal Peonie, then it's revealed that the spell is just controlling his body and while he can still talk and think, he's powerless to stop it, he apologizes, and then says that he can't do anything about it, so he's gonna have fun playing a bad guy.
  • Happens to Spock in Ensign Sue Must Die.
  • Gumball Warrior:
    • As mentioned in the anime page, the Demon Frog makes an appearance in the Nova System as well, possessing the same abilites and functions. It has been used thrice in the series to wreck havoc. Shieff exploits the Demon Frog's powers to enthrall his minions to do his bidding, such as corrupting Luna into the murderous Lucian, or even siccing it onto others to cause further chaos between their allies.
    • Not only that, but when a Star Warrior gets corrupted, their Guardian Entity also gets corrupted. Snapping one out of this state is harder than that in the anime, and recovering can lead to Laser-Guided Amnesia for a while.
  • Homestuck: One of Vriska's more impressive displays of her Mind Control abilities is an example of this. She controls Sollux and forces him into a Superpower Meltdown, and then uses the resulting Eye Beam explosion to kill Aradia. She later pulls off a fairly impressive "double psychic reacharound" to control Tavros and his Beast Master skills to in turn mind control Terezi's lusus and permanently blind Terezi. However, Vriska soon finds her powers are far less useful on humans; the best she can do is make a human fall asleep instantly ( Jade's chronic narcolepsy was in fact Vriska testing the limits of her powers on humans).
    • Because the Condesce possesses the combined abilities of all the trolls, including the aforementioned powers of Vriska and Tavros, she is able to give Dogtier Jade a Grimdark form. She immediately commands Grimbark Jade to zap the Tiaratop onto Jane's head, converting her to the Borg-like Crockerdark form.
  • This tropes causes major plot twists in It's Walky!.
  • JoJopolis: Those who use Butterfly's Dream gain a Stand, but also get implanted with a brain tumor that makes them subservient to Reverend Fred. Thankfully, Sonny's Stand, Murder Most Foul, is able to get rid of these tumors (including in himself), so most of the enemies pull a Heel–Face Turn once they're defeated and cured.
  • In MS Paint Masterpieces, Wily snuck in virus type programming into all the original robot master's to get them to defect. The POV comics with Cut Man's desperate struggles to remain himself are... disturbing and heartbreaking. Then you have the likes of Ice Man jumping headfirst into it and helping to spread the Mind Control.
    • Also, anyone under Quintet's Mind Control or using one of his support units.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Nale, the Evil Twin brother of the bard Elan, casts Charm Person on the party's halfling ranger, Belkar Bitterleaf. The first attempt ("If you see any of your allies before I get back, kill them and bring me their magic items") fails because the spell won't allow the command to go against the character's basic nature, but the second ("If you see any of your allies before I get back, kill them and keep their magic items for yourself") succeeds, even when Nale adds, "While singing the complete score to Meet Me in St. Louis." Hilarity Ensues, of the actually hilarious variety.
    • A more serious example is Tsukiko's use of Dominate Person on Thanh (mentioned above), and an outright disturbing example is what Xykon did to a roomful of paladins.
  • One of the biggest changes And Shine Heaven Now made to Hellsing's canon is Walter's Face–Heel Turn was the result of being blackmailed into it by Millennium, then brainwashed into accepting it by the I-Jin of Jeeves. The brainwashing was broken temporarily, but was unable to be broken permanently, and Walter chose to be Mercy Killed.
  • In Sinfest, Satan can BOMF people to bad. Except that the power appears to be decreasing as the strip gets Lighter and Softer.
  • This trope is a huge theme of Oasis's in Sluggy Freelance.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Some of the main characters are survivors of an island settlement got an outbreak of The Plague from one of its inhabitants getting brainwashed into smuggling a Plague Zombie rat past the island's security measures, deliberately infecting themselves, then going to a bake sale while the disease's Typhoid Mary phase was well underway.

    Web Original 
  • Buster Girls has the Heartless and everyone they turn into their minions.
  • In Chrono Hustle Melinda was brainwashed by the TDD to bring them Jack and Mary in order to erase all of their memories of the situation in 2347, as well as capturing Aphrodite for some reason not yet revealed. They had also attempted this on her partner, the second Jack, but he was immune, unbeknownst to them.
  • Any and all dark Creturians who attack the protagonists in the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes.
  • Kaori from The Impossible Man went through this when she fought Wolfgang alongside Yuki.
  • Link and Mage it's the Familiars created by Witches and occasionally also the Witches themselves.
  • Prolecto has this as the MO of Azazel. Anyone infected by Azazel's Ichor is turned into a slave of Azazel, and has their personality warped under the control of the core.
  • The SCP Foundation used to have SCP-1143 ("Suricate Altar"), which affects suricates (meerkats):
    • Effect 1143-1 is a more subtle version: affected meerkats work to expose as many meerkats to the SCP as possible.
    • Effect 1143-2 causes meerkats to attack others that have not been infected by the SCP.
    • Effect 1143-3 causes affected meerkats to attempt suicide.

    Web Videos 
  • In Journey of the Cartoon Man, Oswald Sherzikien uses the Glove of the Animator to turn cartoonified people into his mindless servants.
  • Critical Role from the second campaign:
    • Caleb was a victim of the more traditional sort of brainwashing: he got singled out from the other pupils at his school, was trained as a magical child soldier, indoctrinated to be a fervent patriot, and finally got implanted false memories by his teacher. Under their effect, he murdered his parents, whom he believed to be traitors by burning down their house with them in it.
    • Yasha was a victim of this before the campaign started, getting magically dominated by Obann and basically working as an enforcer. Some times later, she again falls under his control and is forced to do his dirty work, at one point having to break into the archive of the Cobalt Soul and cut down every archivist who stands in her way. Her friends later manage to break the mind control.
  • Mahu: In "Second Chance", the alien Zracon use their psionic powers to turn some of the Galactic Commonwealth's people into sleeper agents.
  • This happens to The Nostalgia Chick and Todd in the Shadows in To Boldly Flee when they underwent Unwilling Roboticisation through Mechakara.


Video Example(s):


The Too Real Batman Experience

Playing as Batman in the Arkham games, players picked off criminals one by one in the iconic predator maps. In "Kill The Justice League" players now experience how terrifying that was as Task Force X, and this time, the Dark Knight is deprived of his usual ironclad morality.

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