Follow TV Tropes

Following

Happiness in Mind Control

Go To

"If I felt pain, it is meaningless to me now. Once I knew only fear, but now I know only service. Whatever pain there was, I believe it an acceptable trade."

A character who is under Mind Manipulation, whether being directly controlled or Brainwashing, does not want to be released or changed back for one reason or another.

This trope raises questions about identity, the self and (of course) free will. It can be terrifying to suffer lack of agency over your own actions, thoughts or feelings, or even a full Death of Personality, as most people would choose Dying Free or Dying as Yourself than being changed into something they aren't. However, what if being charmed made them happy, or what if the personality that emerges over the old one is just as afraid of being erased?

Advertisement:

This trope has a distinct difference to More Than Mind Control, because in that trope, a person is being manipulated in such a minute and subtle manner that the victim is in some way helping along their brainwashing. That trope is about how manipulators make it easier for themselves to control others by nudging the victim towards the end goal. It is also at risk of the victim turning against them once they discover the manipulation. Persons under this trope may or may not know that they were wronged, but simply don't care and still prefer things the way they are.

Can happen to someone who's caught in a Lotus-Eater Machine or false reality and chooses to stay.

Sister Trope to Happiness in Slavery. This is the goal of Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul, as the victim themselves now want to avoid having it undone.

Advertisement:

See also Prefers the Illusion, can also happen if someone creates an Alternate Timeline, and the work establishes that only ONE timeline can exist at a time.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Overlord: As a joke, protagonist Momonga rewrote the command code on the NPC Albedo so that she'd be madly in love with him. When they're transported to a new world in which NPCs like Albedo are now real people, he regrets the decision because it tarnished his friend's beloved NPC and took away her agency. When he apologizes to her, she cheerfully tells him that she's fine with it and wouldn't want to be any other way.
  • Gunsmith Cats: Played for horror with the brainwashed "pets" of Goldie Musou. They're happier to be brainwashed sex slaves because Goldie made them do something traumatic once they were hooked (often, killing everyone they loved) and they can't deal with it otherwise.

    Comic Books 
  • Axis: The Axis event "inverts" the morality of several characters, and most of the reverted personalities (Hulk, Iron Man, Sabertooth, Loki, Thor, etc.) all prefer whatever side of the coin they landed on. It's double-subverted for Doctor Doom and Loki, though; although they prefer being good now, they're aware that this is not the way thing should be and that the effects need to be undone. They mourn the fact that when this is done, they'll go back to being their evil selves.
  • Spirou: In one story, the villain is one of Zorglub's old mind-controlled mooks who misses the good old days of having a "purpose" and never having to think for himself, and desperately tries to get Zorglub to brainwash him all over again. Hilarity Ensues because brainwashing gone awry has turned Zorglub himself into a mental toddler who has no idea who that weird person is and would rather look at the butterflies and drink from his bottle.
  • In Batman, Poison Ivy's mind-control powers occasionally work this way. It's best seen in The Long Halloween, when Carmine Falcone hires Ivy to put Bruce Wayne under her spell and get him to agree to let Gotham Central Bank to launder Falcone's money (Wayne's on the board of directors and the lone holdout in keeping the gangster at bay). While enchanted, Bruce is essentially a passenger in his own mind, but he feels oddly content and calm while connected to "the Green."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Total Recall: At the end of the film, Quaid discovers that Houser was Evil All Along, and if the bad guys win, he'll be turned back. He thus fights his way free, forcing the Big Bad to decide to just kill him because he's never getting his friend back.
  • The Matrix: The Mole Cypher was extracted from the Matrix by Morpheus, the same as the rest of the crew. When he sells out Morpheus to Agent Smith, the reward he asks for is to be re-inserted into the Matrix, to have all of his memories of the real world erased and be programmed to think that he's an actor. He doesn't get his wish, as he's killed by the heroes.
Advertisement:

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dollhouse: Tony chose to become an Active and have his memories erased because his PTSD made it difficult for him to adjust to civilian life. When his contract is up, he enlists with another program that threatens to erase his personality completely, because he'd rather be a cog in a machine than be Tony again.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): After an extended time under Kilgrave's control, Malcolm Ducasse discusses this trope with Jessica. There is an ironic freedom to being mindcontrolled because you are not responsible for your actions. You don't worry about plans or their consequences, you just fulfill the purpose of the controller.

    Literature 
  • In Animorphs, Yeerks are Puppeteer Parasites and most of their hosts were forcefully enslaved, screaming inside their heads. However there are some voluntary hosts who welcome being controlled and will feel lonely without their Yeerk partner.
  • Codex Alera: Odiana was enslaved as a young girl. The mind altering discipline collar broke her mind and, despite being free, she now prefers to be under its effects.
  • The Mule in the Foundation trilogy has an unusual form of mind control in that he can directly manipulate people's emotions. Some people under his thrall are aware that they're being controlled yet still absolutely love him because they have no other choice. However, the one time we see someone freed from his control, that person immediately goes into a murderous rage at having been violated in such a way.
  • Harry Potter: Subverted by Tom Riddle Sr., who was forced by Merope Gaunt to fall in love with him via a Love Potion. It's argued that she later released Tom from the effects of the potion because she thought this trope would have kicked in by the time she got pregnant. She was horribly wrong, and Tom fled the moment he was given control of his faculties again.
  • The Wheel of Time: Zig-Zagged with the damane, mages that the Seanchan Empire enslave with Restraining Bolt collars and condition with years of Brainwashing, Dehumanization, and Emotion Control to be utterly subservient to their handlers. Some become so convinced that they need to be controlled that they lash out in a blind panic when freed and are happy to be collared again.
  • The Silver Chair combines this with No Matter How Much I Beg. The missing prince of Narnia has been bewitched into marrying his captor and forgetting his old identity, but the curse temporarily lifts every night, so he has to be bound to the silver chair until the spell returns and he forgets the night's events. In his enchanted state, he instructs the heroes not to release him no matter what he says at night, believing that he'll goes berserk and turn into a monstrous snake if he's not tied down. But once his mind returns for the night, he successfully convinces them to untie him by invoking the name of the divine lion Aslan in his pleas, then destroys the chair to break the enchantment once and for all.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia: The adventure Send in the Clones. Teela O'Malley has the mutation Cloud Mens' Minds, which causes men to fall in love with her and obey her every whim. When the effect wears off, the victim may decide to continue being in love with her (and obeying her) on their own.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Anyone who falls victim to the "Helm of Opposite Alignment" Mirror Morality Machine prefers their newly reversed Character Alignment, "views the prospect [of returning to their original alignment] with horror, and avoids it in any way possible".

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age: In general, a character that has been made "Tranquil" (had their connection with The Fade severed in order to make them docile) doesn't particularly mind being Tranquil and some will even say that they prefer their lives this way compared to whatever it was before. Still, being made Tranquil is considered a Fate Worse than Death for any person threatened with it, as it is an irreversible (or so we're led to believe) Loss of Identity, and in addition, it's common for Tranquil to be exploited as cheap labor or even Sex Slaves because they tend to lack any strong feelings. In the rare event that a Tranquil is cured, they swing sharply in the opposite direction and become very emotional — on one occasion, the victim screamed that he'd rather die than go back to being Tranquil.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: If you run light-side, this is arguably the case for your Player Character! The way it's phrased in-game (and in the sequel) is ambiguous as to the degree of the brainwashing involved, with characters giving their unsolicited opinion as it being everything from a full-on Heel–Face Brainwashing, Loss of Identity, and Fate Worse than Death to a Reset Button to a brain dead husk with only a few memories left that was all but resurrected with the new personality.
  • "Reliable" Matthew in Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong is actually a deeply neurotic and insecure man who regularly uses a PersonaSoft that overrides his default personality with an artificially created one as a way of coping with life. If you speak with the 'real' person he reacts with horror if you suggest he stop, preferring the Persona when interacting with others. Speaking with the Persona later reveals he sees himself as benevolent by allowing the 'real person' underneath to not have to deal directly with the unpleasantness of everyday life.

    Western Animation 
  • Bender in the the Futurama movie 'Bender's Big Score' is not as unhappy about being enslaved and reprogrammed by the scammer aliens as other characters expect.
  • Kim Possible: In "Bad Boy", an Attitudinator accident swaps Ron's and Drakken's moral alignments, making Ron evil and Drakken good. Good!Drakken doesn't want to become evil, but is persuaded to go along with it when Kim tells him that it's better that way (diplomatically avoiding the fact that Evil!Ron is a much more effective villain than Drakken).

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report