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Bungled Hypnotism

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A trope revolving around hypnotism having Gone Horribly Wrong (or Gone Horribly Right depending on the circumstances) to some extent. This does not mean to say that it doesn't work on the person subjugated to be the Hypno Fool. It does, but may have a tendency of backfiring or causing any other unwanted situation. Situations may include not being able to undo the hypnotism, accidentally hypnotizing someone else that was also staring at the Mind-Control Device, the hypnosis having unintended effects or side effects such as performing an action in a Literal Genie fashion due to Exact Words, or accidentally using the wrong code word/phrase.

These incidents usually result from things like the hypnotist being interrupted while doing the hypnosis, or someone else talking over the hypnotist while they are doing it which overwrites the command/code word, or other people unintentionally staring into the hypnosis device, becoming hypnotized too.

Usually Played for Laughs. Often overlaps with Nice Job Breaking It, Hero or Hypno Fool. Is not to be confused with Bungled Suicide. See also Immune to Mind Control, Pretend to Be Brainwashed, and Hypnotism Reversal.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece: Jango is a former pirate who has the ability to hypnotize people into doing things he commands. However, he has a bad habit of accidentally hypnotizing himself when he performs his ability causing him to act on the orders as well. He can also hypnotize people into becoming stronger than they normally are. When he does this to Kuro's crew in an attempt to gain an advantage against Luffy, Zoro, and Nami, it ends up with Luffy getting hypnotized as well, which results in him plowing through Kuro's crew until Jango orders him to fall asleep.
  • In one episode of Ranma ˝, Shampoo tries to hypnotize Ranma into focusing only on her as a fiancée by sneaking some mind-control herbs into his food, but Akane interferes in the part of the procedure that would have brainwashed Ranma, so not only Ranma doesn't becomes infatuated with Shampoo but he instead gets the order to glomp any woman that sneezes, even if he really doesn't want to (he does it out of reflex while screaming that it's Not What It Looks Like for the rest of the episode). And to make things worse, Akane happens to have a cold at the time.
  • Mildly Played for Laughs in Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!. Hana decides to try and hypnotize Shinichi in order to force him to call her by her given name. He plays along for a bit, until she starts making ridiculous demands and he snaps. Then he starts swinging her pendulum around, while commenting how ridiculous it is, and Hana ends up being the one hypnotized, staring and drooling like a fool.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 
  • Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur has Mr. Hubley, whose hypnotism equipment works so well he ends up hypnotizing himself, causing him to forget the key word (Bad) that causes Shaggy to switch between his normal personality and his new fearless and confident personality. When he tries to undo the hypnotism at the end, he ends up accidentally hypnotizing everyone in the gang into thinking they are Shaggy.
  • The Twelve Tasks of Asterix combines this with Immune to Mind Control. One of the tasks for Asterix is to visit an Egyptian hypnotist who tries to make him believe he's a wild boar. While other clients were easily hypnotized, Asterix remains cool and unfazed and distracts the hypnotist by asking him silly questions which break the man's concentration. Eventually, he is so confused that Asterix makes him believe he is a wild boar, whereupon the hypnotist leaves the room grunting on all fours. Thus the task is fulfilled and Asterix and Obelix keep moving. Watch the scene here.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Donnie Darko: Donnie's psychiatrist uses hypnotism to investigate what she thinks are his paranoid hallucinations. One of her questions causes him to fixate on his sexual fantasies instead, forcing her to wake him up in a hurry when he starts to reach into his pants.
  • The plot of Office Space is kicked off by Peter visiting a hypnotherapist in an attempt to remove some of the stress his job is causing him, only for the hypnotist to die of a heart attack halfway through, leaving Peter in a lazy, carefree trance that no longer takes his job or life seriously.
  • Happens a couple times in Dracula: Dead and Loving It:
    • First, Dracula glamours a theater usher into calling Dr. Seward to the lobby so he can "coincidentally" meet him, but after telling the usher what he wants her to do, he adds, "You will forget everything I told you." Needless to say, she approaches the group and completely forgets what she was supposed to say.
    • Later, he tries to get to Mina in her bedroom but has to also "steer" her maid, and — thanks to Ambiguous Syntax — the two women end up running right into each other, leading to a hilarious facepalm from Dracula.
  • Johnny English Reborn features a hypnotic drug called timoxylene barbebutanol, which kills its user but before it does leaves a short window where the person in question will do anything and everything they are commanded to do. Commanded to assassinate the Chinese PM, Johnny resists the hypnosis through sheer will, fighting himself in a Colin "Bomber" Harris v. Colin "Bomber" Harris way until Tucker interrupts Simon's command with a Montreaux radio station playing Cameo's "Word Up," resulting in, well, "Wave your hands in the air like you don't care!"
  • In How To Be Very Very Popular , one of the heroines overhears a guy trying to hypnotise his friend and gets hypnotised (It doesn't work on the friend.)

  • Captain Underpants:
    • The premise of the series revolves around protagonists George Beard and Harold Hutchins hypnotizing their Dean Bitterman principal to be nicer. The whole issue about him believing he's a superhero every time someone snaps their fingers is a very unwanted side-effect.
    • The fifth book reveals the Hypno Ring has the unintended effect on women of compelling them to do the opposite of what their hypnosis orders. Thus George and Harold's attempt to hypnotize their teacher into being nicer causes her to turn into a monstrous supervillain. At the end when they hypnotize her again, they have to reword all their orders to state the opposite of what they want, so that she actually turns nice this time.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar is about the narrator, who's interested in mesmerism (a pseudoscience that later will be evolved into hypnotism), and his friend Ernest Valdemar, a phthisis (tuberculosis) terminal patient that accepted to be part in an experiment of being mesmerized the night of his death. The experiment actually worked, being Valdemar in a hynotic state with thin pulse, pale skin and mildly awake for seven months. In between trance and wakefulness, Valdemar begs the narrator to quickly put him back to sleep or to wake him. As Valdemar shouts "Dead! Dead!" repeatedly, the narrator starts to bring him out of his trance, only for his entire body to immediately decay into a "nearly liquid mass of loathsome-detestable putrescence."
  • Joseph Payne Brennan's short story "Levitation": A carnival hypnotist puts a man under his spell and commands him to "Rise!" The man does so, levitating off the ground. Unfortunately, the hypnotist suffers a sudden fatal heart attack, and thus cannot order the man to stop rising. The man continues up into the sky until he's out of sight.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Brittas Empire: Helen is having troubles with lockjaw and Brittas needs her for the dinner so he gets a hypnotist in to see if he can get her to relax. Although he is unable to hypnotise Helen, he accidentally hypnotises the watching Brittas instead.
  • In one episode of Car 54, Where Are You?, after he ends up saying "I hate Captain Block" in front of Captain Block's parrot, Gunther tries to erase the phrase from the bird's mind using hypnotism. Unfortunately, he ends up hypnotizing himself into not remembering who the captain is.
  • In one episode of Cheers, Nick is convinced Sam has stolen Loretta away from him, so he tries to steal Diane away from him. He tries to hypnotize her saying "You'll follow me to the ends of the Earth... oh yeah, and bring a six-pack." He fails to do anything with her, but while Diane is mocking his attempt, Woody walks by with a vacant look in his eyes and a six-pack.
  • A Dave Allen at Large sketch involved a hypnotist who brings a beautiful woman on stage for his act. When he tries to hypnotize her into stripping naked, she calls him fresh, slaps his face, and leaves the stage. She goes back to her table - surrounded by naked patrons sitting at their tables.
  • An episode of El Chapulín Colorado involves a guy who poses as the Raja of Kalambur to steal a crystal ball from a rich married couple. He tries to hypnotize the husband but fails, instead hypnotizing El Chapulín and causing him to act like a monkey and revert to normal when he hears a finger snap.
  • In Living Color!: In one sketch, a stage hypnotist hypnotizes an audience member (played by Jim Carrey) to act like a chicken and has a fatal heart attack immediately afterwards. The audience member is doomed to spend the rest of his life acting like a chicken
  • In one episode of Kamen Rider Den-O, Miura tries to hypnotise Ryotaro to draw out the evil spirits he believes are possessing him (he's right, but not in the way he thinks). While it does eventually work on Ryotaro, it works far more quickly and easily on Airi, who was watching from a few feet away.
  • In Kenan & Kel, Kel went with a hypnotist to cure his addiction to Orange Soda (to win a bet against Kenan). But Kenan, to win the bet, switches Kel's papers with one of another customer who happens to be a dog, so the hypnotists actually says that whenever Kel hears a bell, he will become more aggressive, and so he starts acting like a dog when hearing a bell.
  • Last of the Summer Wine: In one episode, Foggy tries to prove he can hypnotise a stranger purely with eye contact. He ends up hypnotising himself, and wandering about in a daze.
  • Monk: The episode "Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized" sees Monk visit a Dr. Lawrence Climan for hypnotherapy to deal with his OCD, having seen it apparently do wonders on Harold Krenshaw. For both of them, it backfires. Monk is reduced to acting like a six year old, hampering his ability to be helpful to the investigation in the disappearance of Sally Larkin, though it curiously doesn't hamper his detective mind, such that he's still able to solve the case. Meanwhile, Harold's newfound euphoria leads to him stripping off his clothes in public and getting arrested for indecent exposure.
  • On an episode of Night Court, Bull is nervous about having to testify and is hypnotized with the intent of allowing him to relax. Unfortunately, Dan picks an inopportune moment to hit on Christine and Bull's trigger phrase for relaxing becomes "I want to be your love slave." Not only that, but it only works if Dan speaks it, and only in the same tone of voice he originally used. And Bull's testimony is the only thing that might keep Dan out of jail.
  • Night Gallery episode "Finnegan's Flight". A prison inmate is hypnotized into thinking that he's flying an airplane. However, when he fantasizes that the plane crashes, he is killed when his body displays the damage of being in a plane crash. Rod Serling's short story "Suggestion" was based on this episode, changing the location to a party.
  • That's So Raven: In "Wake Up Victor", Cory and his friend Miles practice hypnosis and test it on Raven and Chelsea, but the spell accidentally affects Victor as well, right before he is to be filmed cooking for TV.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu adventure Pursuit to Kadath. During a party, a man is hypnotized as part of a game. This leaves his mind wide open to Demonic Possession. Later on, the participants decide to hold a seance. This summons a powerful spirit residing in a nearby artifact, who takes the opportunity to possess the hapless man.

    Western Animation 
  • In the The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius episode, "Hypno Birthday To You", Jimmy hypnotizes his parents into thinking that tomorrow is his birthday. He had only planned to have one party before his real birthday, but his wording leads to his parents thinking every day was his birthday. At first, the parties his parents throw are a lot of fun (to the point where even Jimmy's rivals Cindy and Libby enjoy themselves), but after a week's worth of parties, the guests are bored and miserable, and Jimmy's parents have run out of money for gifts and supplies.
  • The series of All Dogs Go to Heaven has an episode where Itchy accidentally picks up a post-hypnotic suggestion from a stage show to completely lose his fear whenever he heard the word "chicken".
  • American Dad!:
    • In "Stan Knows Best", Stan reveals he hypnotized Hayley when she was younger to kill Walter Mondale when she heard the word "Rhubarb". When he says it, she doesn't respond, while Steve appears in the background carrying an assault rifle.
    • In another episode, Hayley realizes that the last time she was happy and carefree was when she was six. Roger offers to hypnotize her so that she will temporarily revert to her six-year-old self. Unfortunately, Roger gets interrupted before he can snap her out of it, making the change permanent.
  • Angry Birds Blues: In E25, Jim hypnotizes Jay and Jake to make them do his chores, but they end up doing the chores wrong and breaking everything, and then they start acting like zombies and attack Jim.
  • In the Back at the Barnyard episode "Hypno a Go-Go" Otis accidently hypnotizes himself while watching a wrestling movie, causing him to try and kill the farmer whenever he hears a bell.
  • Brandy & Mr. Whiskers: In the episode "Pickled Tink", Brandy hypnotizes Mr. Whiskers with a pinwheel to make him deep clean everything around him when he hears the trigger word "pickles". Though this works out in making him do the chores of the house, it backfires when he hears it out in public and begins causing mayhem to the residents with his invasive cleaning.
  • Captain Flamingo: In one episode, Milo tries to help Max conquer his fear of the tooth fairy, eventually resorting to using hypnotism. However, he screws up by talking to Lizbeth about making out the tooth fairy as an evil entity who steals teeth from children, which Max overhears in his trance and becomes that very description. Milo and Lizbeth then have to hunt him down and stop him from stealing other kids' teeth.
  • In The Cramp Twins episode "Cricket Slayer", Lucien blames himself for the death of a rare species of cricket. After getting haunted by the cricket's ghost (actually Wayne in disguise), his friend Mari resorts to hypnosis, in order to make him forget about the guilt. The first time Mari makes Lucien act like a duck, and he starts feeling better after he figures out Wayne's disguise, however a nightmare convinces him that he's not fully healed, so he resorts to hypnosis once again. The second time, due to killing an insect while performing her hypnosis ritual, Mari accidentally hypnotizes Lucien into having a desire to crush everything. Thankfully, the effects wear off after Lucien hears the cricket's sound, discovering it was not dead after all.
  • Darkwing Duck: At one point in Drake's backstory on how he became the titular hero in "Clash Reunion", he pulls out a coin in an attempt to hypnotize a pair of school bullies into a trance. However, he ends up putting himself into a trance instead, leaving the bullies and everybody else in the class to flip his bill. At the end of the episode, Drake reveals he figured out how the coin worked and successfully hypnotize the former bullies into forgetting that he is Darkwing Duck.
  • In the Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines episode "Zilly's a Dilly", Zilly is hypnotized to remove his cowardice. When it turns out that things are worse when he's brave, Dick Dastardly has the hypnotist change Zilly back, with him forcing Zilly to stay still to watch the watch. Unfortunately, this causes Dastardly to get hypnotized too, and the episode ends with them both being cowards.
  • The Garfield Show: In one episode, Jon suffers from lack of sleep and seeks out a hypnotist for help. The latter hypnotizes him into falling asleep or waking up through the sound of a buzzer, but Odie barks at the same time. Now Jon will only either fall asleep or wake up from Odie's bark instead of the buzzer.
  • George of the Jungle (2007): In one episode, an elephant trainer is brought in to teach Shep some discipline, using a whistle which hypnotizes him into doing whatever the user commands. Unfortunately, the hypnotism also affects George, due to him sitting through all the training sessions, resulting in him and Shep fighting using whistles to make the other do numerous things until the others get them to stop and try to untrain them.
  • Holly Hobbie and Friends: In "Secret Adventures", Carrie reveals she has a fear of the dark, so Holly tries to rid her fear by using hypnosis on her. Carrie is oddly unaffected, but the hypnosis gets to Amy instead.
  • Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: In "The Skaar Whisperer", Doc Samson is hired to teach Skaar a lesson in civility. After many failed attempts, he resorts to hypnotizing him, making Skaar be civil until he hears a certain phrase. However, Samson is interrupted, changing the code phrase to "please" instead of the intended phrase.
  • In the Jimmy Two-Shoes episode "Beezy 2.0", Butley is hired by Lucious to turn Beezy into less of an embarrassment, which turns out to be easier said than done. Butley then resorts to hypnotism, commanding Beezy to act just like him and say "How do you do?" Unfortunately this winds up making this phrase the only thing he ever says, with rather disastrous results.
  • Kim Possible: A downplayed example occurs in an episode where Señor Senior Senior and Señor Senior Junior. Junior is supposed to be the one in charge, stealing things for a mysterious project. What's the project? A nightclub that will charge extra for soft drinks. Senior, frustrated by his son's lack of vision, goes behind his back to make a disco ball that hypnotizes people. Senior uses the disco ball to incapacitate Kim, Ron, and the various VIPs that come to the club, holding the latter hostage. Junior, angry that his father is micromanaging his project, angrily declares that everyone in his club must dance. No points for guessing what the hypnotized captives do. This is really only a minor annoyance, but it serves to highlight Senior's controlling nature, as he becomes frustrated at how his hostages are dancing.
  • An episode of Kissy Fur had Gus attempt to lose weight via hypnosis, only to accidentally be hypnotized into believing that he's afraid of food. He spends the rest of the episode hallucinating that all food he sees is horrifying monsters, but once the hypnotism is reversed he finds that it did, in fact, cause him to lose weight.
  • Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: Wile E. Coyote tries at least twice to use hypnosis to get his prey, the Road Runner:
    • "Zipping Along," the 1953 short where Wile E., after reading up on hypnotism, is able to use lightning to zap his targets into doing his bidding. He's successful with a fly, but when it comes to the Road Runner (in an attempt to get him to plunge to his death off a high cliff) ... well, let's just say Wile E. won't like mirrors.
    • "Boulder Wham!" from 1965. This time, Wile E. and Road Runner are separated by a gorge (where a bridge has collapsed). One of Wile E.'s tricks is to use hypnotism, which almost works (Road Runner appears to be succumbing to its effects) ... but then after the Road Runner fails to respond to Wile E. pointing downward in trying to beckon him to walk, Wile E. makes the mistake of turning the watch on himself! Once Wile E. accidentally hypnotizes himself ... well, it's a very painful, multiple-injury-type landing.
  • The Loud House: In "Saved by the Spell", when Lincoln decides to do a magic act for the school talent show, his friends are worried he'll flop onstage; Liam tries using hypnosis to convince Lincoln into dancing instead. He is unaffected, but it does work on Meryl.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In "Lesson Zero", Twilight Sparkle uses a "Want It Need It" spell on a doll to make the CMC fight over it, so she can settle the fight and write to Celestia about the friendship problem she solved. It works a little too well and anyone who sees the toy is brainwashed, leading to a near town-wide battle over the doll that ultimately requires Princess Celestia's intervention.
    • Like mentor like student. In "Starlight the Hypnotist", Starlight Glimmer attempts to use hypnotism to cure Twilight's phobia of ladybugs. (Why either of them thought this was a good idea, after the previous times Starlight has abused brainwashing, is anyone's guess.) Then Pinkie Pie bursts in during the hypnotism session and declares, "Kite flying time, wooo!" So Twilight's phobia is cured... but now the sight of ladybugs fills her with the urge to fly a kite.
  • One episode of Recess begins at an assembly where a hypnotist tries to hypnotize Miss Finster but it instead causes Principal Prickly to think he's 6 again.
  • Ricky Sprocket: Showbiz Boy: In one episode, Ricky is hypnotized into thinking he is a chicken, with his friends trying to figure out how to do it. They manage to track down the hypnotist who undoes it, only for him to have secretly set another spell on Ricky with a different code word. Morris then casts another spell to make him return to normal, which also inadvertently made Ricky's friends and family members believe they were all Ricky, which ends on a Gainax Ending.
  • One episode of Ruby Gloom has Frank and Len try out hypnotic guitar chords to help Scaredy Bat get over his fear of flying. They work, but winds up affecting Len instead, who spends the rest of the episodes obeying every command to the letter, whether it was unintentional or not.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Homer at the Bat", Mr. Burns has his plant baseball team players, which include a bunch of Super Ringers, hypnotized in order to improve their game play. This somehow goes wrong and causes Roger Clemens to believe he's a chicken.
    • In "Homer the Great", the family underwent hypnotism to ignore Grandpa; according to Homer: "Six years later and I still think I'm a chicken!"
      Homer: I'M A CHICKEN, MARGE!
      Marge: I know, Homer...
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "SpongeBob's Bad Habit", SpongeBob somehow develops a nonstop habit of Rapid-Fire Nail Biting, and can't find out why. To solve the issue, he goes to Hans, who is working as a hypnotherapist, who hypnotizes him and reveals he got the habit from Squidward. Hans' order is, "Your desire to bite your nails will... POOF! Disappear." Due to a result of exact wording, SpongeBob no longer has a habit to bite his nails, he now has a habit to bite other people's nails instead, as shown when he bites Hans' nails once the lights come on.


Video Example(s):


Starlight the Hypnotist

Starlight offers to hypnotize Twilight out of her fear of ladybugs, but thanks to Pinkie barging in about her excitement of flying kites, this causes Twilight to have an urge to fly a kite whenever she sees a ladybug.

How well does it match the trope?

4.2 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / BungledHypnotism

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