Follow TV Tropes


Heel–Face Brainwashing

Go To

"What greater weapon is there than to turn an enemy to your cause, to use their own knowledge against them?"

Someone is Brainwashed or Mind Controlled into a Heel–Face Turn. Yes, that's right: a Heel Face Turn (a bad guy turning good).

This is most notable when it's considered inherently different, or better, than when the heels do the Brainwashing.

In-universe, the Godzilla Threshold can justify almost anything, but, on a meta-level, when this happens, it means that either the morality is Black-and-Gray Morality (or Grey-and-Gray Morality), or there is serious Values Dissonance going on. Occasionally, the heroes ask first, and the villain figures that he's stronger than whatever they will do, and accepts, only for it to work.

Someone who breaks the brainwashing that put him in a Heel Face Mind Screw, if he doesn't decide on his own to stay good (the Power of Friendship is powerful) — similar to Amnesiac Dissonance — will likely be a more formidable enemy than before out of righteous indignation. If they have some special powers, it's much more likely that they'll break the brainwashing after exhibiting said powers.

On occasion, is intentionally invoked by the villain as part of a Memory Gambit. May be induced with a Mirror Morality Machine. This trope is usually reserved for villains who otherwise would be a Complete Monster. It actually may be the only thing that can redeem a Complete Monster. The brainwashing can sometimes involve Mind Rape or (when the story is Lighter and Softer) a Care-Bear Stare, though not always. However, if it does involve Mind Rape, expect even more Black-and-Gray Morality. May result in a My God, What Have I Done? moment when the villain reflects on his past actions. Compare Brainwashing for the Greater Good and Deprogramming and contrast Face–Monster Turn.

It should be noted that if any kind of brainwashing is successful in turning a person from one side to the opposing side, the brainwashee will often automatically consider the change (by virtue of the brainwashing itself) to be a Heel–Face Turn, no matter what the real case is. If their memories are intact, then their personality and values generally change so that they now see their past actions in a different light, and may feel remorseful over them. When the writers do elaborate on the whole procedure it can involve the subject facing their worst fears and getting their sensitive side agitated to the point of identifying those negative experiences with their aggressive feelings, in essence breaking their mind even after the session is over. It may also include physical suffering whenever these aggressive desires show up, which means that the subject's mind is stuck in a permanently soft point and can't channel a large part of their inner nature. Many can claim that it's not really a moral change since it's forced and the person doesn't consciously choose good, they are just incapable of being their real selves.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Kanade proposes using a Love Potion on Shadow Mei so she'll fall in love with Matsuri and cooperate with them. Matsuri refuses, but accidentally uses it on Shadow Mei anyway.
  • In Death Note, Light did this to himself in a Memory Gambit, although he merely intended to "prove" his innocence by helping to catch the "real" Kira. He planned to provide himself with a way to reverse his Laser-Guided Amnesia after he had earned the good guys' trust.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Goku arranges for Kid Buu to be resurrected as a good person, though technically he's not actually being controlled. He's simply been reincarnated with all of the power retained, but all the evil cleansed from his soul between lives.
  • Anri in Durarara!! can do this using the demon-blade Saika, as part of the character being Bad Powers, Good People. For instance, in one scene, a mind-controlled thug is told to go home and lead a good life.
  • Fairy Tail has the superweapon Nirvana, which can deal these out en masse (as well as making good guys evil). While it's used by the villains (and a bunch of people spontaneously changing their alignment is recognized as a bad thing), one of the villains is hit by accident, and no one sees the brainwashing as wrong. It helps that it was an accident, the heroes weren't actually involved, and the villain was revealed to be a Fallen Hero anyway. It's revealed, however, that in the past Nirvana was used by the Nirvit to try and force warring nations into peace through such brainwashing, which worked out...until it turned out Nirvana "reflected" the darkness of those nations onto the peaceful Nirvits until they turned on and slaughtered each other.
  • Done, sort of, in the anime of The Familiar of Zero with Louise drinking a Love Potion (by accident) and becoming much nicer (and much more clingy) in the process towards Saito, who attempts to turn her back to her old self. Despite everyone else warning him from doing it. Oh yeah, he succeeds, but Louise remembers the whole ordeal and hands out quite some punishment.
  • In Himenospia, Himeno becomes a wasp mutant who can brainwash other women with her sting and uses this out of self-defense against her abusive mother and her bullies. It is later revealed that Himeno's power also works on other wasp queens, but it doesn't turn as good as advertised: Nagisa truly fell in love with Himeno but still left her in the dark about everything and got her captured and tortured as part of a plan to ambush American queen Serena. Once stung at the climax of the story, Serena is made unable to bring further harm to Himeno but laughs the whole thing off and refuses to be her pawn before coldly abandoning her.
  • Inazuman often attempts to convince members of the Neo-Human Empire to switch sides, sometimes through mundane persuasion, but also through erasing memories of their time with the villains, which is treated as restoring their innocence. By contrast, the villains recruit their turncoats through direct Mind Control.
  • Initially thought to be what happened to the amnesiac main character of JoJolion when he's identified as Yoshikage Kira which leads to Yasuho questioning her trust in him. Later it's revealed that, instead of having lost his memories, the main character is a partial clone of Kira created by the Wall Eyes mixing the DNA of him and another person. The main character's lack of memories are therefore not a result of amnesia but simply him being a new person who hasn't experienced anything yet. It's also revealed further on that despite his harsh and aloof exterior, JoJolion's version of Kira was actually a heroic individual.
  • The titular protagonist of Kajika has the ability to literally punch the evil out of people, which he does to a few villains who offend him. A couple of secondary characters who get caught up in the events see him do this, and he politely asks if they want him to help them get rid of their evil, too, but they nervously turn down the offer.
  • In Medaka Box, when Medaka counter-brainwashes her own forced Face–Heel Turn.
  • In Naruto, Itachi does this to himself using the chakra-crow he implanted in Naruto. That was an accident, though. It was intended for Sasuke as an absolute last resort. Itachi didn't count on being revived as a mind-controlled zombie. And since It Only Works Once, his first plan was ruined.
  • One Piece: O-Tama's Devil Fruit ability allows her to produce kibi-dango from her cheek. Any animal that eats it is pacified and tamed by her. This effect also works on humans who ate successful SMILE fruits and they all belong to Kaidou's crew.
  • The finale of Space Patrol Luluco has Luluco turn Nova from his Face–Heel Turn by shooting him with an Aflutter Jewel-powered Care-Bear Stare until he gains a Jewel of his own. It's a bit unclear if it was really brainwashing, however; since he was a Nothingling and biologically couldn't feel strong emotions, and the Aflutter Jewel was also showing him everything he experienced with Luluco, he could have just been evaluating the unknown feelings he had for her and finally realized what they were.
  • In Zatch Bell! Gash can perform the Baou Zakeruga spell, which summons an evil-devouring lightning dragon. At the end of the series, the ultimate villain who sought to erase his own world and compared his destructive nature to that of an atomic bomb is swallowed whole by Baou and is reduced to a kind and inoffensive boy.

    Audio Plays 
  • This is the plot of the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama Master. The Doctor makes a deal with Death to give the Master ten years of "peace and sanity" under the name "Dr John Smith" after which the Doctor will kill him. When the Doctor can't do it, Death manipulates the Master so his regular personality returns.
  • In Reflets d'Acide, it turns out in the last episodes that Maender and Alkor left behind a huge Thanatos Gambit in order to inflict this trope on Belial, in order to turn him back to his original Archangel form. It only works for a few seconds, before his memory returns and turns him back into a Demon.

    Comic Books 
  • Played with in Identity Crisis, which used this as a Cerebus Retcon.
    • After Doctor Light's rape of Sue Dibny, the Justice League had Zatanna edit his mind and convert him, not into a hero, but into a Harmless Villain. The majority of the plot is concerned with the ramifications of their decision.
    • It was also revealed that Barry Allen had Zatanna brainwash The Top after he caught Top vandalizing Iris Allen's grave. The newly heroic Top went on to do the same to other rogues. He also lost his mind, which taught Flash a valuable lesson about this trope.
    • Finally, it was revealed that Catwoman's switch from a criminal to a morally-ambiguous vigilante was also due to a Zatanna brainwashing job. This initially caused her to turn back to crime, but she later decided that vigilantism made her feel better no matter what the original cause had been.
  • X-Men:
    • At the end of Chris Claremont's run on X-Men, Magneto finds out that Moira MacTaggert had a procedure like this done to him after he was turned into a child during one of his many zany schemes for world conquest. Thinking that this was the reason for his Heel–Face Turn, he uses the procedure on one of the X-Men teams for a Face–Heel Turn but finds out that the use of mutant powers quickly reverses the effects of the procedure. (A matter of minutes.) All the good he'd done was really of his own free will. Then he dies but got better and became a one-dimensional cliched villain again who later uses drugs because being bad wasn't bad enough. Then he dies again until Claremont finally got a hold of him for some Character Rerailment in the relaunch of Excalibur: psycho druggie Mags wasn't the real Erik, whose Heel–Face Turn had stuck. He's currently in Anti-Hero mode. Of course, Erik playing nice is very much still Erik.
    • Another X-Men example. Magneto kidnapped Xavier. Sadly, the X-Men were disassembled at the time. Jean Grey had to find a new team, and quickly. So she goes around asking for help from former allies and recruiting unknown, inexperienced mutants. Also, she discovers that one of Magneto's lieutenants, Frenzy, has been captured by the US Army. Not only does Jean enter her mind to get the info she needs on Genosha (Magneto's island) and its defenses, but she thinks that having a superpowered guide in that hellhole would be a good idea, so she just rewrites Frenzy's mind and makes her an X-Men enthusiast (so fanatically devoted to the X-Men cause, all of a sudden, that it was creepy). Guess how Frenzy reacted after she found out that the "good guys" brainwashed her...
    • The entire point of AXIS was that heroes would turn bad and villains good due to a magic spell. While the story ended with almost everyone reverting back to their old alignment, one villain's inversion did stick: Sabretooth. Due to being near some Iron Man tech intended to protect Tony from being turned good, Sabretooth did not return to his old ways, and in fact decides to honour Wolverine's memory (who recently died) and follow his example, becoming a hero to atone for what he's done. Similar to Magneto, don't confuse 'good' for 'huggable.'
    • In Exiles, the reality-altering, body-swapping villain Proteus takes over Morph's body, which doesn't degrade like other bodies Proteus inhabits do. The team manages to use some Applied Phlebotinum (from the world of the Squadron Supreme mentioned below, in fact) in order to brainwash Proteus into thinking he IS Morph. However, the ramifications of this action are explored in future issues. It does help that Proteus WAS planning on making the entire multiverse his plaything.
    • Jonathan Hickman's run brings a weird example: after Vulcan was lost in a dimensional rift during War of Kings, three extradimensional aliens, for their own as-yet-unexplained purposes, brainwashed him so that he would appear to have undergone a Heel–Face Turn, with even Vulcan himself believing this to be the case, but his original, evil, insane personality remains, lying dormant underneath the veneer of goodness and only emerging in moments of extreme stress.
    • Subverted with Cassandra Nova: Jean Grey altered her brain to make her experience empathy for the first time, but while this appeared to make her "good", it actually just changed her motivations — she's now a ruthless supporter of the mutant nation.
  • Ghost Rider's Penance Stare occasionally has this effect, although forcing people to feel all the pain they have inflicted on the innocent is more a punishment than anything else. If a Heel Realization results in a change of heart, it's all you.
  • This, and all of its myriad Unfortunate Implications, was a huge part of Mark Gruenwald's Squadron Supreme series. The Squadron (an Expy of the Justice League) institute brainwashing as the all-purpose punishment for crimes. The Black-and-Gray Morality of the series shows the brainwashing being a good thing for one character (who was just misguided to begin with and stays a good guy after the brainwashing is undone), and tragic for two others (one of whom becomes irreversibly catatonic after running into a contradiction in her programming).
    • The brainwashing was voluntary in most cases. A convicted criminal or prisoner could opt for the procedure in exchange for immediate parole. But the aforementioned plot-important instances were all abuses of the brainwashing device.
  • In Volume 5 of Empowered, we find out that Mind*** did habitually does this... to herself.
  • In an issue of Swedish children's comic Bamse, notorious villain Krösus Sork is given a drink that makes him temporarily kind and generous.
  • When Martian Manhunter undoes a mental block that makes him afraid of fire and unconsciously sends himself into a Face–Heel Turn, one of his first "evil" acts is to use his mental powers to perform this on various criminals. Inmates in high-class prisons begin watching Sesame Street, the patients in Arkham are suddenly overcome with grief over their crimes and have to be restrained from committing suicide, KKK members begin lynching themselves, and Lex Luthor (at the time president) is put into a coma.
  • Green Lantern:
    • The entire Indigo Tribe. Their rings specifically seek out people who lack compassion for others such as Black Hand and force them to feel it. The rings also use their ability to manipulate other emotions on the emotion spectrum to control the feelings of the Indigo Lanterns (the Indigo entity itself, however, averts this and seeks out hosts who are already compassionate). In Indigo-1's case, she developed genuine compassion and showed true regret about her crimes when the brainwashing was temporarily undone.
    • The Star Sapphires lock villains and other "recruits" in cocoon-like prisons where the person is essentially "counseled" into slowly and gradually accepting Love and thus becoming a member of their Corps. When they are questioned about this being similar to brainwashing, they deny this—to them, the process is no different than prison rehabilitation or psychiatric ward therapy. Yes, the subject can't leave, but the Sapphires claim that nothing is "forced" upon them; the subject simply gradually comes to understand the Sapphires' logic.
  • In Sins Rising, this happens to Norman Osborn at the hands of a superpowered vigilante called the Sin-Eater.
  • Superman:
    • Imaginary Story "Superman Vol. 1 #162: The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue!" had Superman split into the titular super-genius versions of himself. They then create an "Anti-Evil Ray," which they then upload to a bunch of satellites and bombard the planet with. For her part, Supergirl releases the Phantom Zoners and uses the ray on them. Sure enough, the ray brainwashes everyone into being "good," which leads to a perfect world, free from disease, crime, and war.
    • Another Silver Age imaginary story has Lex Luthor get Mind Raped by psychic aliens until all evil is removed from him. He then marries Lois Lane, has a son, and becomes the world's most famous and beloved scientist. That is, until his son grows up, becomes a supervillain, and murders him.
    • A Silver Age non-imaginary event was Superman reprogramming Brainiac to force him to be good. He later forced him back to being evil against his wishes to acquire information and help against a leftover Brainiac super-weapon knowing he couldn't make Brainiac good again. This indirectly led to Brainiac's transformation from the humanoid form to the more commonly remembered metallic silver shape and flying skullship.
    • Another non-imaginary one from the Silver Age is a World's Finest story where Superman and Batman wind up on an alternate Earth where they were raised as criminals and are now some of the deadliest villains in the world. The duo takes down their evil counterparts and brainwash them into becoming good like they are.
    • The moral ambiguity of this is played up hard in Superman: Red Son, where after his ship landed in the USSR instead of Kansas, Kal-El became a champion of the Soviet Union. Superman only wants peace but has little trouble eliminating free will to get it, and believes that brain-washing and overwriting a person's personality is far more humane a solution than gulags or prison camps. It's slowly made clear that due to his different upbringing, this Superman sees free will as more of a problem than anything else and seeks peace and perfection at the sake of choice.
  • In Thieves & Kings, Soracia uses this to herself to complete her own Heel Face Turn: She enters the dream of a dragon who dreams of her as a good person which enables her to actually cut off all ties that bind to her dark master.
  • Discussed at the end of Mandrago, an obvious parody of Mandrake the Magician by the Italian Jacovitti. The protagonist, who has acquired limitless magic powers, decides to make the world a perfect place and brainwashes every single inhabitant of Earth into being unable to do evil. When Mandrago overdoes it, loses his powers, and the world snaps back to normal, the narrator points out that mankind lost world peace, but regained free will.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes
    • In the first appearance of the Legion of Super-Villains, Saturn Queen explains her backstory, that she was good while she lived on Titan, and just suddenly became evil after leaving it. Supergirl deduces from this that Saturn's rings emit radiation that keeps Titan natives good, scoops some up, and changes Saturn Queen's alignment so she betrays her allies. She promises to keep a chunk of ring-rock with her at all times so she will stay good forever. None of our heroes is bothered by this in the slightest. This aspect of her character is ignored in every subsequent appearance, thankfully!
    • When Earth-Man, the villain of Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, was made a Legionnaire to placate his supporters in Earthgov, Brainiac 5 made a special flight ring which, among other things, contained "morality enhancement" features. This seems to have moderated how he expressed his views rather than completely alter them, turning him from a xenophobic cult leader into a Noble Bigot with a Badge.
  • The Mickey Mouse comic story Blaggard Castle ended with Mickey using the Hypno Ray on the three mad scientists Professors Ecks, Doublex, and Triplex and making them become good scientists so that they wouldn't use their inventions to do evil things anymore.
  • Brought up in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye. Megatron is informed that the power-draining tonic he’s been made to use could potentially affect his thought processes. He begins fearing that his Heel Realization may have been forced upon him by the Autobots and that he may actually still be a villain. Ultimately subverted when Ratchet admits that the toxin is actually just a placebo; it was meant to make Megatron think he was weak or brainwashed in order to placate both him and the Lost Light crew. His Redemption Quest was entirely of his own volition.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Amazons of Earth-Two lock prisoners of Reformation Island in Venus Girdles, which force them to obey every order given to them and make them feel happy about it. These girdles brainwash the prisoners over time but take longer on particularly stubborn and clever prisoners. No subsequent versions of the Amazons use these girdles.

    Fan Works 
  • Done in Kyon: Big Damn Hero to Asakura Ryouko. It was considered a better option than killing her or waiting for her to come back and try to kill Kyon yet again.
    • Technically, she wasn't brainwashed. Haruhi thought that brainwashing was not cool.
  • The Villain Protagonist of the Mass Effect fanfic "The Council Era" is growing an army of dezba from the DNA of one of his Mooks. He intends to surgically alter their genetic thought process in order to "civilize" them so that they will serve the Citadel against the krogan during the war. They were an almost Always Chaotic Evil race beforehand, so he's somewhat justified.
  • In Friendship Is Magic: Prime: Act II, Discord attempts to discord Optimus Prime at the climax, but Prime grabs his wrist and shoves his hand into his face, forcing him to discord himself. As the spell inverts the target's personality, this changes Discord into a prim and proper gentleman who willingly exiles himself to a cave in the desert.
  • In Kira, Sweetheart L worries over the moral dilemma presented when he is given the option of erasing Light's Kira memories without his knowledge. Kira is the version of Light that L knows and L worries that by erasing his memories it would mean he is in essence killing his friend. Ultimately L decides that it was the notebook that did the brainwashing and that Light would be the same without the notebook—just minus being a Serial Killer, and all he's doing is taking corrective measures to return Light to his "default state." Also this way he is no longer a danger to society and he won't have to see him executed.
  • In The Well Groomed Mind Dumbledore Mind Raped Harry the moment he set foot into Hogwarts, rewriting his personality from the "clever survivalist" that he was into "Messianic Archetype Idiot Hero" that everyone expects him to be.
  • In the Star Trek Into Darkness fic Unbeaten Spock advocates Brainwashing for the Greater Good on all of the Augments and the rest of the crew sees no problems with this.
  • In the Star Wars AU fanfic Innocence, Rebel leaders decide to recruit an amnesiac Darth Vader, with the hope that he would remain on their side as a source of intelligence if he ever recovered his memories.
  • At the end of the Doctor Who fic In This World You Cannot Change it is revealed that The Doctor, Donna Noble, and Jack Harkness did this to the Master explaining why there's a nice amnesiac version of him running around in their timeline (and the reason they decided to spare him in the first place)—they effectively killed his personality. The Master has some choice words for all of them when he realizes what's going to (and has already) happen to him:
    The Master: Murderer! You are all murderers!
  • A mild and entirely justified version in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. When Actual Pacifist George learns that the lesser Tayhil must unthinkingly obey the commands of a Tayhil Leader (even to the point of committing suicide), he becomes one so he can order a leaderless group to sail away from the village they just built and set up a new village on a deserted island far away from humans. He also tells them they're not allowed to initiate an attack on humans, though they can defend themselves. Since the alternative to this is an airstrike that would wipe out the entire tribe, he has no moral qualms whatsoever about doing it.
    • As an alternative to the continued destruction of the Tayhil, who admittedly are pretty nasty little bastards and the cornerstone of the Black Tower's forces, Paul also proposes somehow capturing all the existing Tayhil Leaders and imprisoning them so the good guys can imitate them and order the entire race to coexist peacefully with humans. Spectrem angrily rejects this as impractical.
  • In Son of the Sannin, during the Konoha Invasion arc Shisui Uchiha uses Kotoamatsukami to override Orochimaru's control over Edo-Tensei!Hashirama, and gives him back his free will, forcing Orochimaru to undo the jutsu.
  • In Fire Emblem: Keys of Truth, both Shigure and Kyo get hit with this early on, causing them to side with Plegia.
  • Subverted in Arc of Sacrifices. This is how Lily and Dumbledore seem to view their brainwashing of Harry. To everyone else, it's a case of Light Is Not Good.
  • Hinted by Supergirl in Hellsister Trilogy when she explains to her adoptive father that Green Lantern mind-wipes villains out of being a problem.
  • In Professor Riddle's Chronicles, Riddle brainwashes Quirrell's father and Snape's father into being non-abusive parents.
  • The ethics of this are played with in Locket Of Love when Imp falls under a spell that causes him to become devoted to Adora. Bow is perfectly willing to use Imp's skills against the Horde for as long as the Rebellion has him, and even suggest Adora string him along a bit to comply, stating that the Horde would have no problem doing the same if the situation were reversed. Not surprisingly Adora, who has spent much of her life brainwashed as an agent of evil, is against such a plan, pointing out that the Rebels can't simply sink to the Horde's level when it's convenient.
  • In Steven Universe fangame Flawed Crystals, Steven does this to Jasper by accident when he erases her memories in a botched attempt to heal her corruption. Without her memories of their conflict, she becomes highly cooperative and willing to help rescue the other gems. Whether or not she stays on your side after she regains her memories depends on how you've treated her throughout the game — if you push her too far, she will attack you and lead you to a Non Standard Game Over.
  • The Phantom Thieves pull this on Light Yagami early in Warning Letter. The resulting Villainous BSoD eventually pushes Light into giving up use of the Death Note and eventually become a Phantom Thief himself.
  • With This Ring: The alternate version of Paul in a Warhammer Fantasy universe captures a group of dark elf corsairs on his first day, panics about what to do with them, and settles on giving them a choice between a quick death and a personality rewrite. Since he doesn't have much experience, the resulting desire sets don't mesh well on his first few tries, but most of them survive.

    Films — Animation 
  • Wizards: An assassin working for the villain is reprogrammed to fight for the good protagonists, later changing his name to "Peace" and proving instrumental in the fate befalling the bad guy. It's interesting that it's done by making him want to be free. It's stated that the mentioned assassin is under constant influence of villain's magic and propaganda machine. Good wizard instills the promise of life without pain and without fear so that he gets the motivation to fight for his own will.
  • In Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the rabbits aren't necessarily evil, but their voracious eating habits are threatening to ruin Tottington Hall's annual vegetable competition. Wallace prides himself on his "humane" service and refuses to kill the rabbits he catches, but he's also running out of space for their cages, so this trope is his attempt at taking a third option — "brainwash the bunnies" to get rid of their veg-eating desires. It works, but a mishap during the procedure results in the creation of the titular Were-Rabbit, which causes even worse problems than the rabbits were.
  • A very peculiar variation happens in the The Elm-Chanted Forest to the point of it being more of an aversion rather than a straight example. Specifically: the good guys theorise that King Cactus (who is the god/spirit of earth and all its plants) is evil because he hasn't reached his true, perfect form and is still stuck in the thorn stage for some reason. So by using white magic courtesy of the gnome magician Thistle they prepare a potion that makes the King bloom and turn both in body and mind into the personification of spring. So in essence they didn't brainwash him, they actually corrected his imperfect form and helped him reach his full potential which completely also affected and altered his personality.
  • Garfield's Pet Force sees this happen to Vetvix at the end; Garfield corners her in Betty's "Happy Corner" and fuses the two together using the Mo-Scram Gun, causing her to become friendly to everyone and reciprocate Emperor Jon's feelings towards her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 102 Dalmatians, this is tried on Cruella de Vil through hypnosis. It initially works and she starts to lovingly embrace any puppy she sees, but it turns out that a loud clock noise can counteract it. And since this film is set in London, it's only a matter of time before good ol' Big Ben turns Cruella back into her evil self again and she goes right back to being Cruella to Animals.
  • Star Wars - Attack of the Clones: "You don't want to sell me deathsticks". "I don't want to sell you deathsticks". "You want to go home and rethink your life". "I want to go home and rethink my life". Granted, all he was made to do was go home and have a good think, it was perfectly within the dude's power afterwards to decide for himself that selling deathsticks is a pretty good gig after all, if that's what he really wanted out of life.
    • He turns up in one of the later Boba Fett books, and guess what? He stills sells deathsticks. And weapons. It's apparently a Heel Face Brainwashing Revolving Door, however, as both between the above two events and after the latter, he legitimately did stop selling illicit substances and illegal weapons, even trying to turn others from that path the second time.
    • Parodied in the Norwegian fan film The Drunken Jedi Master (basically a morally-gray splatter movie set in the Star Wars universe): "You don't want to sell me deathsticks." "I don't want to sell you deathsticks." "You want to give me one for free."
  • Terminator:
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: The eponymous T-800 Model 101 Terminator, the same model as the unstoppable Big Bad of the first movie, was captured by the future Resistance and reprogrammed to protect, not kill John Connor in the past.
    • This theme continues in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines with the T-850 who killed John Connor in the future being reprogrammed to ensure that Connor and his future second in command and wife survive Skynet's opening assault on humanity to form and lead the resistance.
  • At the end of The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter, Bastian uses his final magic wish to ask that the nearly omnipotent Big Bad gain "a heart". She's so struck with grief at what she's done that she literally explodes and all the evil that she had done to Fantasia is wiped away as if it never happened.
  • Stargate: Stargate: The Ark of Truth. The Ark is a brainwashing device that's the only way to stop the Ori worshippers from taking over the galaxy. The moral objections are raised but in the end ignored for lack of a better option.
    • The Ancients did refrain from using it because of moral objections, and decided to flee instead; given the trouble caused by the continued existence of the Ori, this was a seriously neglectful act. When it is eventually used, it's a fairly simple case of self-defense.
    • Vala claims the Ark can only be used to make people believe true things, but she may have been bluffing Adria.
  • This was status quo in Demolition Man, where criminals placed in cryoprisons were brainwashed with various "rehabilitation" programs, like an affinity for taking up knitting and such. It was also inverted, as it is discovered that the Big Bad was programmed to be even worse than he already was by Cocteau, who wanted to use him against his enemies.
  • Total Recall (1990) has a rare case of the Big Bad doing this to his then Dragon as part of an elaborate infiltration operation. Of course being the villain he doesn't see it as this trope, but the audience does.
  • In Shallow Hal, the protagonist is a shallow man by the name of Hal who gets hypnotized so that he sees women for their inner beauty, which causes him to see good but physically unattractive people as attractive while not-so-good people come off as physically repulsive. This causes him to reverse his treatment of women yet also repulses his equally-shallow friend, who points out to the hypnotist that he has functionally brainwashed someone to radically change their life.
  • In The Stranger, a series of direct-to-video science fiction movies from BBV Productions, the Protectorate uses a form of this as an alternative to capital punishment. About halfway through the series, the hero learns that he himself was the first person the process was successfully used on and that he used to be the leader of a terrorist cell.
  • The Craft: Legacy: Timmy goes from a bullying and sexist jerk to a very, nice woke guy who befriends the girls after they cast a spell on him to change his personality.

  • The Stainless Steel Rat:
    • The protagonist's future wife starts at as a brilliant but hideously amoral and violent con artist. She is brainwashed in a way that allows her to retain her personality but lose the crazy (except for some Mama Bear and Beware the Nice Ones moments). This operation can be seen as a cure for sociopathy, which contemporary research suggests is more like a cognitive and emotional disability than a character trait. The moral implications of this type of "brainwashing" are probably less negative than most other examples given here.
    • The trope is played straight with a former pawn of Angelina's; his personality is completely stripped away. It was only because Jim knew what caused Angelina to go wrong that they could get at the root of the problem and excise just the sociopathy.
    • Played straight in A Stainless Steel Rat is Born. Criminals are routinely subjected to brainwashing to reintegrate them into society, at least on Jim's home planet.
  • In The Riftwar Cycle, the dark and light elves are the same people, separated by culture and morality. The dark elves live in the frozen north, the light elves in Elvandar, a magical forest created by their Spellweavers. It's possible for a dark elf to hear the "Call of Elvandar" and over a span of years, culminating in a single, sudden switch, convert to the other side. The conversion involves a full-scale Loss of Identity, complete with taking on a different name. Their previous self is explicitly said to be considered dead by all involved. Due to the Protagonist-Centered Morality, however, this more questionable side of the light elves is never explored.
    • However, considering there was one dark elf who was so overcome by the beauty of Elvandar that he had thought he converted, only to be gently rejected by the elven queen who recognized this as more of a heat-of-the-moment decision, shows that perhaps it's more of a case of becoming tired of The Social Darwinist Chaotic Evil and just deciding to rid themselves of all that.
  • A Clockwork Orange is a possible Ur-Example and also an Unbuilt Trope - Villain Protagonist Alex is conditioned to have strongly adverse reactions to the mere thought of sex or violence, and it pretty clearly ruins his life. Alex seems to remain the same way he was before the treatment: his brainwashing just prevents him from acting on it. In effect, it's more of a Restraining Bolt. This was one of the main points of the story: if you force someone to be good against their will, then they aren't really a good person. And when Alex does become a Retired Monster (depending on what version of the story you're reading) in the end, it's not because of the conditioning but because he just doesn't find wanton violence fun anymore. He doesn't even regret it, he merely gets tired of it. Which was the reason the rest of his droogs eventually gave up the wanton part of that life and something that was already starting to happen with Alex even before the brainwashing.
  • In Craig Shaw Gardner's Cineverse Cycle, Captain Crusader (known by various names in the Cineverse's many B-movie worlds) has a habit of spouting vaguely relevant Aesops when encountered. It's eventually discovered by the main cast that hearing these has profound psychological effects on anybody native to the Cineverse, sometimes including the power to instantly convert mooks and minor villains. As all villains in the Cineverse are the card-carrying variety, who get their mooks from Central Casting, the Heel–Face Brainwashing is here played as straight as possible.
  • In an instance where the title itself is a spoiler, Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man refers to a future America's use of punishment along these lines. It involves utterly breaking someone mentally and then rebuilding them into a model citizen. this ends up happening to the Villain Protagonist It's commented that the old punishment of execution is barbaric and pointless when a person could contribute to society if the bad was drained from them.
  • This is pretty much the effect of a Confessor's power in the Sword of Truth series. Said power being to make whoever is Touched love the Confessor so much that they'll do anything for her. So someone could be fanatically devoted to gutting the Confessor one second, then fanatically devoted to saving her the next. This is typically only used in self-defense.
    • During the series proper; in the setting prior a Confessor's duties normally included being on call to do this to convicted criminals, prisoners of unknown guilt to be interrogated, and accused people who request this as the only way to conclusively prove their innocence (lie-detector magic doesn't seem to exist). Differing regions had different stances on the practice, but there was evidently steady work for a considerable number of Confessors.
      • This fails spectacularly in an episode of Legend of the Seeker, based on the books. Kahlan confesses to a convicted murderer who reveals that he did indeed commit the crime. Turns out the real criminal used a magical artifact to plant the memory of the murder into the patsy's head. Unfortunately, they figured it out after the guy was already hanged.
      • Another failure is when a soldier of Darken Rhal is freed and reveals himself to be a conscripted carpenter with a family he planned to go back to. In other words, he was already a Face and had his life stolen.
  • In Black Legion, Telemachon is Mind Raped by Villain Protagonist Khayon into being loyal to him and so, when Sekhandur joins the budding Legion, Telemachon follows. Later, after Khayon fixes him, Telemachon chooses to stay, as the Legion gives him a reason to be.
  • In The Farseer Trilogy, this is done to Regal (the morality is admittedly grey anyway.) Frustratingly enough, he is then killed by a rodent in the same (last) chapter, so the reader never gets to actually see good!Regal in action.
  • Doc Savage's Crime School, which bears an uncomfortably close resemblance to lobotomization for modern readers.
    • This is surprisingly common in Utopias before science fiction's Golden Age—as in, so before the Golden Age that they also talk positively of the annihilation of all non-"useful" animal life. It's still used straight as late as the middle of Isaac Asimov's career, although in the short story in question the character advocating the procedure is secretly a robot, who of course would regard mental reprogramming as no different from the reprogramming done to defective robots.
    • Given a Shout-Out in the Whateley Universe story 'Razzle Dazzle', in which the narrating supervillain (who probably isn't entirely honest overall, mind) reminisces about how he basically shut down the setting's Doc Savage Expy hard by blowing the whistle on the massively debilitating long-term consequences of his version of the process...
  • In a supreme irony, a Knight Templar who engages in this behavior in Glasshouse is forced to reprogram herself so she believes it's wrong to change people like this. Decide for yourself whether that's hypocrisy or karma.
  • In Villains by Necessity, this is the force driving the plot. The Anti-Villain / Anti-Hero main character doesn't want to have his free will stripped away by a do-good Knight Templar mage who has nearly driven all evil from the world using a magic brainwashing spell. However, this is in a Dungeons & Dragons type setting where the Balance Between Good and Evil is imperative, and the world will end when the last evil is wiped away (the last evil is implied to be within the main party).
    • Considering that the world ending would be evil (and appears to be viewed as evil In-Universe), it appears that the last evil would never be wiped away. Consequently, problem solved.
  • In a Percy Jackson and the Olympians side story, Percy battles the Titan Iapetus near Lethe, the River of Forgetfulness. Percy dunks himself and Iapetus in the river. Percy, a son of Poseidon, stayed dry, and Iapetus is soaked so he forgets everything. He gets renamed Bob and even helps cure some nasty wounds.
    • He starts to remember his former life as Iapetus as he treks through Tartarus with Percy and Annabeth in The House of Hades and encountering various monsters and Titans. These memories have him feeling misgivings towards Percy, but he ultimately makes a real Heel–Face Turn after Percy apologizes and decides to accept his new identity despite his returning memory, making a Heroic Sacrifice for the demigods to escape.
  • In the third book in the Sea Of Trolls series, we meet a dwarf (not the fantasy kind, but a little person). He seems decent at first, but we later learn that he's a shady, treacherous Jerkass working for the evil king. After his memory is erased, he becomes a perfectly decent guy.
  • Some of Robert A. Heinlein's early works feature The Covenant (no, not that Covenant), a sort of updated super US Constitution. Either you're a peaceful member of society or you're cast into the wilderness with the other reprobates. If you don't want option B, you can get your mind psychologically reconditioned. This is a society in which psychology is like magic and they really can iron out the kinks and turn you into a different person. But they would never do that against your will, hence the wilderness option.
  • In C. J. Cherryh's Alliance/Union series, you can be conditioned to make sure you're not a threat. All they do there is give you a phobia about sabotage, though.
  • Captain Underpants revolves around Mr. Krupp, a Jerkass principal who was turned into the friendly superhero "Captain Underpants" by a Hypno Ring. He becomes a Manchurian Agent who turns into Captain Underpants when someone snaps their fingers and reverts back to principal form when someone pours water on his head.
    • The fifth book kicks off with Harold and George trying this on Ms. Ribble, and specifying that she should only stop being so mean and "won't turn into Wedgie Woman or anything weird like that". Midway through the hypnosis, a news bulletin interrupts the story to warn everyone that, for some reason, using the Hypno Ring on women causes them to follow the opposite of the instructions given. Thus, the plot kicks off. After she's defeated, Harold and George figure out what happened and Heel-Face Brainwash her for real.
  • Played with in the Rebel Force series. A brainwashed Imperial assassin, X-7, has been trying to kill Luke Skywalker, but his continuing failures and time away from his master shakes the brainwashing—not much, but enough that he's bothered by stray emotions and fragments of memory with no context to them. He goes rogue in order to search for his obliterated past—the Rebels, aware of this, decide to set things up to convince him that he's the long-lost brother of one of them, in the hopes of turning him against the Empire. It's much milder than what was done to him in the first place but still harsh. And has very mixed results. The brother in question starts to suspect that X-7 actually is his long-lost brother, then doubts it again-and then both of them end up dying with the truth of the matter left ambiguous.
    • In the next book Luke Skywalker pulls off a much kinder example on a base full of people who'd undergone similar brainwashing. He uses a desperate wide-scale Jedi Mind Trick to undo the Imperial brainwashing, leaving it a base full of people who were confused and didn't know who or where they were—he couldn't restore the memories that had been lost—but wouldn't think and act as appendages of the Big Bad anymore.
  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four at the end, Winston Smith "loves Big Brother". The reader sees it as a Downer Ending where The Bad Guy Wins, but Smith himself views the change as Heel–Face Brainwashing. It's stated this doesn't save them, however—the state still kills all dissidents, but only after they're brainwashed to confess everything.
  • In H. Beam Piper's Paratime series, serious criminals are subjected to "psycho-rehabilitation". The Paratime civilization is generally presented in a benign light, and some of the criminals in question are quite nasty (cross-temporal slave traders and so on), but:
    "Psycho-rehabilitation was a dreadful thing to face. There would be almost a year of unremitting agony, physical and mental, worse than a Khiftan torture rack. There would be the shame of having his innermost secrets poured out of him by the psychotherapists, and, at the end, there would emerge someone who would not be Salgath Trod, or anybody like Salgath Trod, and he would have to learn to know this stranger, and build a new life for him."
  • In The Candy Shop War, the main villain, Mrs. White, is fed her own memory-wiping candy to defeat her. Since there's no way of keeping her from drinking from a Fountain of Youth and theoretically gaining ultimate power from this, the hero crumbles the candy into the fountain's waters so, although she succeeds in her plan, she loses any memory of why she wanted to become young again in the first place. In the sequel, everyone dances around the issue of telling this memory-wiped former villain of their past. When they eventually find out, they decide to look at the incident as being given a second chance at a good life, and thanks the good guys not only for coming up with this plan but also for accepting them into their group of friends and trusting them regardless of their origins.
  • A very interesting example happens in Emerald City series. Midgety is a particularly nasty ogre until being hit with a spell that makes him a vegetarian, completely disgusted by eating meat. While he initially retains his ugly personality, he makes a Heel–Face Turn very quickly.
  • Molly Moon repeatedly uses her hypnotic powers to turn her nasty antagonists into good guys — though in a more roundabout way than most examples of the trope; she can't re-write someone's personality and for the most part the series is pretty consistent about hypnotic influences wearing off after a while, so Molly's main method is to imprint the villains with a Good Feels Good sensation and hoping they'll remember and stick with this.
  • In Tales of the Magic Land, the wooden soldiers and policemen have their facial expressions remastered by carpenters from monstrous to friendly. As they, being solid wood, possessed neither hearts nor brains, this was the only way to make them do a Heel–Face Turn. It worked, as did Good Feels Good (for most of them). However, they lost their memories in the process.
    • Also, starting from the series' third book, it's a common practice to put villains to a long sleep using magical water that causes complete memory loss. When they wake up, they are taught anew to be good. The Big Bad (one of the two) of the series Ruf Bilan gets it twice because, after his first brainwashing, the bad guys taught him first.
  • This is the main part of the criminal justice system on Beta Colony in Vorkosigan Saga. They don't have prisons but dangerous or violent criminals get sentenced to "therapy". It isn't a total rewrite, but it does change the offender on a fundamental level to make them someone who would not offend that way again. We never see a before and after, but "happy, vacant smiles" are mentioned by at least one Betan who fears being sentenced to it.
  • The Wheel of Time, Graendal (as Hessalam) is under deep compulsion due to an accident while battling Aviendha; she now fawns over Aviendha.
  • A milder case happens in Yon Ill Wind by Piers Anthony. Chlorine is given a chance to "become the person she wants to be" by Nimby and has him make her prettier, healthier, stronger, and smarter. She also notes that she's actually a very nasty and unpleasant person (although we see no real evidence of that prior to this) and asks him to also make her a nicer and better person. He does so.
  • In the first Septimus Heap book, this is how the heroes deal with the Hunter. And they're particularly nasty about it, giving him memories of a horrible backstory where no one loved him and he was constantly the victim of misfortune and stupid mistakes. When Jenna tries to soften it by giving the Hunter a dog who was his only friend, Nicko cuts her off by adding that the "dog" died. The Hunter ends up working as a buffoon in the circus.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, the protagonists mind-wipe Loafers McGuire after he finds out about the fairy world. They completely erase his personality, making him think he's named "Nuru", and drop him off in a village in Kenya. Later in the same book, Artemis, Butler, and Juliet undergo Laser-Guided Amnesia as well, though the LEP are more careful this time and only erase the parts having to do with fairies. Ironically, this wipes out all the Character Development Artemis had over the past three books, turning him back into a Villain Protagonist.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The entire first season of Viper.
  • In the final episode of volume 4 of Heroes, Matt Parkman brainwashes Sylar, turning him into Nathan Petrelli... post-Face-Heel-Face Reversion, that is.
    • And before that in volume 3, Ma Petrelli Mind Screws Sylar into trying to be a hero by tricking him into believing she's his real mother.
    • And in the last three episodes of volume 5, Matt traps Sylar inside a hallucination of an empty world. Sylar spends two years alone in there until Peter goes in after him (because apparently, he's The Only One who can save Peter's friend Emma). It takes them another three years to find a way out, by which time Sylar has been thoroughly Heel Face Mind Screwed.
  • Mr. Smith from the The Sarah Jane Adventures got this after being revealed to be the Big Bad of Series 1. Of course, the Earth would've gotten destroyed if Mr. Smith didn't get brainwashed.
  • Babylon 5 uses this as an alternative to the death penalty, heavily inspired by The Demolished Man above, from which the show got its idea of telepathic police. The episode "Passing Through Gethsemane" is even built around the idea that many people consider the practice too lenient, unable to stand the thought that murderers get to live out their lives despite the fact that the person's original personality is for all intents and purposes dead (hence the practice officially being called "Death of Personality"). In the episode, a Gregorian monk named Brother Edward discovers that he used to be a Serial Killer when a group of his victims' relatives partially undo the mindwipe. In the end, he allows one of them to kill him (in a manner quite similar to crucifixion — he earlier speculates whether he'd be able to endure it like Jesus), who is then sentenced to death of personality as well and ends up becoming a monk in the same order under the name Brother Malcolm.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, they capture a Wraith, wipe his memory, turn him into a human, and try to convince him he's one of them. It fails in the end so of course they promptly try it again on a larger scale?
    • Refreshingly, this particular case is treated as a monumentally stupid decision on the part of the Atlantis expedition, and recurring villain Michael (the original test subject) repeatedly calls them out on the immorality of the action. Also, Michael had offered to become their ally again of his own free will (after having been rejected as being tainted by his own hive), so long as they didn't subject him to the virus again. They subjected him to the virus anyway, and this turned him into one of their most persistent and dangerous enemies.
  • Stargate SG-1 gives us one episode where a recently widowed Daniel Jackson falls in love with the brilliant young medical researcher and provisional leader of a Mind Wiped and partly depopulated world as they investigate the cause of its people's current state. As it turns out? She's actually Linea, a seemingly kindly old woman whom the heroes broke out from an alien jail with in a previous episode before learning she's a galactically infamous genocidal Mad Scientist also known as the Destroyer of Worlds. The whole situation is the result of an experiment she was conducting recently which de-aged and Mind Wiped the entire population. The kicker? After she inevitably ends up succumbing to curiosity about her past and uses the memory-restoring plague cure she and Jackson were working on, they manage to get her to re-Mind Wipe herself before she succumbs to her rapidly returning memories. Which she readily agreed to, being horrified by how evil she used to be and even more horrified that she might become that monster again if her memories continued to return. What do they do with this Sealed Evil In A Person? They send her BACK to the one planet in the galaxy where huge numbers of people now secretly know who she is, to help produce and administer the very plague medicine that could turn her into a homicidal maniac at any moment.
  • Farscape has Durka, who established himself as a villain by torturing Rygel and turns up in a later episode having been brainwashed by aliens into a friendly, helpful person incapable of violence. Rygel didn't believe he was really reformed, so he tried to kill Durka, which ironically ended up breaking the mental conditioning and turning him evil again.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Prophet Motive" features Grand Nagus Zek having been somehow transformed from a typical greedy Ferengi into a paragon of generosity. It is later revealed that the Prophets changed him after he contacted them through the Orb of Wisdom trying to obtain knowledge of future events, and they took offense to the unbridled greed that defines Ferengi society. The prophets then announce their intent to do the same to Quark. They back down and reset Zek to his normal self when Quark explains that that would only result in more Ferengi poking around the wormhole trying to investigate.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • The episode "Random Thoughts" also has an entire planet of telepaths where violent thought is punished by having said thoughts removed. The problem is that the person they want to do it to is B'Ellana Torres, a half-Klingon whose violent thoughts make up a large chunk of her personality.
    • In the episode "Repentance", the EMH accidentally corrects an anatomical defect in the brain of a Serial Killer on death row, giving the inmate the ability to feel guilt that he'd been lacking. However, this is more like a cure for clinical sociopathy rather than straight-out brainwashing, and thus not really in the same negative sense as most other examples on this page.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Angel, from Angel: the most evil vampire in history, he was given a soul by Kalderash Gypsies against his will and spent the rest of his life atoning for the horrible deeds he'd done (though it's debatable how much this qualifies as "brainwashing", since it was his soul to begin with from when he was human). Except when he lost it and went evil again, and then, you guessed it, Roaring Rampage of Revenge (Omnicidal Maniac, even). The difference, of course, being that the Romani weren't trying to be heroic per se — they did it as the worst punishment they could think of after he killed a young woman of their clan. They did include the clause "If you ever experience a moment of perfect happiness where your soul no longer troubles you, you'll lose it again". They not only neutered his evil side but also wanted his morally responsible side to suffer forever, even going so far as to allow the whole thing to come undone, just so he himself would have to deny himself happiness because he wouldn't want to turn evil again. This occasionally backfires.
      Jenny: Then, if somehow, if... if it's happened... then Angelus is back.
      Enyos: I hoped to stop it. But I realize now it was arranged to be so.
      Jenny: Buffy loves him.
      Enyos: And now she will have to kill him.
      Jenny: Unless he kills her first! Uncle, this is insanity! People are going to die.
      Enyos: Yes. It is not justice we serve. It is vengeance.
    • Buffy's Season 4 gives us Spike's chip, which is very much like A Clockwork Orange in that it doesn't change the personality, it just makes it impossible for him to hurt humans without suffering debilitating pain. This leads him to do a Heel–Face Turn not out of any heroic tendencies but because he discovers the chip still lets him hurt demons and his Blood Knight personality leaves him wanting to hurt something. And then later in the series, he actually does get his soul back - voluntarily, unlike Angel. This does not necessarily make him a kitten, though.
  • At the end of Dollhouse, the good guys mind-wipe the Big Bad, Boyd into a blank, docile Doll they talk into blowing himself up with his own company. They wanted to just shoot him, but the only gun they had was a mind-wiper.
  • Zordon's purification of the villains in the Power Rangers in Space finale "Countdown to Destruction". Most of the villains are reduced to dust, but Zedd, Rita, and Divatox become ordinary people (Karone survives too, but by that point, brainwashing was the only thing keeping her evil).
    • It is heavily implied (but never quite confirmed) that, like Karone, Zedd, Rita and Divatox had originally been Human Aliens kidnapped as children and raised as villains, and that this is the reason they were transformed into ordinary folks instead of disintegrated like everyone else. In Divatox's case particularly, an episode of Turbo had already implied she was Dimitria's long-lost twin sister, which is seemingly confirmed by her purified self being dressed identically to Dimitria.
  • In Smallville, Brainiac's final fate is to be captured by the Legion of Super-Heroes and reprogrammed. This series' version of Brainiac 5 is the fifth form of the only Brainiac there is. He's still a little scary, but everything B5 does is, in the end, for the best. Of course, when reprogramming was attempted on Brainiac in the comics, it didn't last and he got his iconic head-ship out of the deal...
  • Eerie, Indiana: In "Just Say No Fun", Marshall and Simon turn the tables on Nurse Nancy by brainwashing her so that she laughs uncontrollably and endlessly when she hears the phrase "Womp-bomp-a-do-domp."
  • Doctor Who: In "A Christmas Carol", a spaceship carrying Amy and Rory is going to crash unless Ebenezer Scrooge expy Kazran Sardick activates controls that are locked to his brainwaves so he alone can use them. He refuses, so the Doctor changes Sardick's past to make him into a nicer person, causing him both joy and heartbreak along the way. It works... a little too well: Sardick has changed so much that the controls no longer recognize him, so they don't respond to his input.
  • This is part of the premise of Dark Matter (2015). The only reason most of the main characters aren't homicidal maniacs is that they somehow developed total Identity Amnesia while in cryo-sleep at the beginning of the series. At the end of the first episode, they are shocked to learn the Awful Truth that (except for Five, the resident Mysterious Waif) they are all wanted criminals with rap sheets ranging from theft, kidnapping, and piracy to murder and terrorism, routinely employed by the evil Mega Corps as deniable Psychos for Hire, and rather than being there to defend the mining colony on the planet below from the coming threat of "the Raza", they are the Raza. One, Two, and Six find this particularly troubling, and the crew ends up turning against their former employers in a The Magnificent Seven Samurai situation. It eventually turns out that the mindwipe was deliberately done (by Five), but the intention had only been to make Two and Four forget that Six - who helped Five when she was discovered as a Little Stowaway - was an undercover cop, and therefore not murder him; because she was in a rush, the code uploaded to the stasis core ended up giving the whole Raza crew Loss of Identity instead, allowing Amnesiacs are Innocent to kick in.
  • The Brittas Empire: Whilst Mr. Brittas isn't really evil, he is a git and at best an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. However, in "Mr. Brittas Changes Trains", he is accidentally hypnotized. Laura manages to convince the hypnotist to make him a kinder and more friendly person and they have a wonderful evening together... until the hypnotism wears off at 12 midnight, at which point he reverts back to his usual self.

    Pro Wrestling 

  • The Legion in the MSF High setting, which has only come up in the RP, are naturally capable of doing this. They actually consider it very immoral, allowing it only in clear cases of self-defense, since they kinda went overboard with doing it beforehand. To the point where they weren't the 'Face'.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000, this trope applies to the Space Marines. The Space Marines often recruit Complete Monsters and somewhat more savory gangers, barbarians, war criminals, cannibals, etc. They take the nastiest bastards in the human race because they're vicious and tough enough to survive in conditions that would drive a normal person insane or dead. But the Marines must first do psychic-surgery and hypnosis on these guys to give them a modicum of conscience or at least make them less likely to commit an atrocity at the drop of a hat. That said, after the procedure, the new Battle Brother has no complaints about it and will likely argue for its necessity!
    • It is also heavily implied that the Tau Empire does this to their allies and foes when not using concentration camps.
    • The necessity of the Space Marines' brainwashing is made clear by looking at their predecessors, the Thunder Warriors, who were augmented without it. Whether it was because of a flaw in the augmentation procedures, because turning people who grew up on a barbarian wasteland of a planet into superhumans was a bad idea, or both, the Thunder Warriors were psychologically and physically unstable. After the Thunder Warriors conquered Terra for the Emperor, he had them purged, since keeping around an army of Ax-Crazy superhumans with limited lifespans (meaning they have absolutely nothing to lose) would be a really bad idea.
  • Dungeons & Dragons features a few items that can reverse Character Alignment - the helm of opposite alignment and the deck of many things are examples. The deck is something that no sane person would want an enemy to use, but the helm is well-known for being a (supposedly) cursed item that's been put to use for the sake of this trope. Certain spells in the various editions, such as sanctify the wicked or programmed amnesia, could be put to similar uses. Since the game features a pretty straightforward Black-and-White Morality, the moral implications are generally glossed over. Generally.
    • One exception: lycanthropy also changes a character's alignment, and there are good and neutral types of lycanthropes. While, again, the implications of this trope are usually glossed over, this is part of why in Eberron the Church of the Silver Flame targeted all lycanthropes during the Purge, including ones who didn't threaten society.
  • Pathfinder: Alchemists can gain a discovery that changes the target's Character Alignment to good. While the normal version only lasts for 10 minutes per level, there is a grand discovery that is the same but permanent. The book itself notes that many alchemists find this power morally sketchy and only use it in extreme cases.
  • GURPS has the Crown of Benevolent Rulership in Magic Items 2, it makes whoever wears it into a kindly and benevolent ruler. Personality effects can persist if worn too long, however, the compulsion disappears with the removal of the crown. However, the blurb about the crown subverts the trope. Evil Overlord Wenceslaus who had the crown created to lull his neighbors into a false sense of security. (He had obviously read the Evil Overlord List, noting the part about how adhering to the list makes one indistinguishable from a competent good ruler.) However, it's implied that it worked too well and he never did get around to his evil schemes (though it also could have been a case of Becoming the Mask or Good Feels Good).
  • In Exalted, the various types of Exalted are all capable of learning to be supernaturally persuasive, occasionally to the point of Mind Rape, and often leading to this trope. The books are very much aware of the implications, however. Stuff like this is one of the many reasons the Usurpation happened.

    Video Games 
  • In the backstory for the BlazBlue series, Yuuki Terumi was subjected to Ruby: Mind Eater by Nine to fight alongside the rest of the Six Heroes against the Black Beast. The reason this is justified in-universe is that [a] Terumi is a monster in human skin, and thus cannot be trusted to do anything to better the world; [b] the Black Beast they sought to destroy was of his own creation, and thus knew best how to destroy it; and [c] the alternative would be to install Celica into Kushinada's Lynchpin, something Nine would never condone in her darkest moments. Once Mind Eater was undone, he went right back to the way he was, and both Nine and Trinity paid the price.
  • The Reveal in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is that your character is The Dragon to the Big Bad, who was betrayed and left for dead by The Starscream and found by the CIA. You've been subject to extensive brainwashing to make you believe you're a Western agent, in hopes you'll eventually spill details about the Big Bad's location. Once you learn the truth, you can either continue helping the Americans with the rationale the Big Bad's plan is worse than anything the Americans will ever do (as well as the aforementioned betrayal by your own associates), or you can resume your former loyalties and secretly set your CIA "allies" up by leading them into a trap or simply just diverting them so they can't stop the Big Bad.
  • City of Heroes and City of Villains:
    • Scirocco does this to his lackey, Ice Mistral, as a prelude to his plan to attempt to do it on a worldwide scale. In this case, mind you, Scirocco is a self-hating villain who sees this as his only chance for redemption. Since it's a villain arc, we never find out what actual heroes would think of this.
    • A similar case within City of Heroes is Malaise, an insane supervillain who projected his thoughts onto others in the form of intense illusions. He was eventually subdued by the psychic superheroine Sister Psyche, who 'healed' his mind and had him serve as her sidekick while maintaining a Psychic Link with him. Of particular, suspicious note: when the Psychic Link was broken, Malaise quickly reverted. And, in any case, he has recently turned evil anyway, joining a conspiracy to depower/kill as many of the most powerful heroes as possible, with a personal interest in Sister Psyche.
  • The Yuri's Revenge expansion of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 introduces a third faction led by Yuri focused on psychic powers. The fourth mission of the Allied campaign against him has Albert Einstein being held captive by Yuri in Egypt to work on his Psychic Dominator technology, which if activated would bring the entire world under Yuri's will. When Einstein is rescued, he reveals that he was able to sabotage the nearby Psychic Dominator so that the Allied commander (you) would be able to use it against Yuri's forces...and there just so happens to be a nice cluster of Lasher and Gatling Tanks all bunched up and a prime target to fight for you. The sabotage leaves the Dominator unstable, though, and you only get one use out of it before the Dominator self-destructs.
  • At the end of Custom Robo, every member of the Z Syndicate except for Sergei gets their memories erased and overwritten to make them believe they are actors playing the parts of the villains they really were. Sergei has to pretend he's also an actor in order to keep them from asking questions, though he's not very good at it.
  • The Big Bad of Forever Home, Barclyss, is so far gone that erasing his memories and removing his Abyss Prism powers was the only way to redeem him.
  • Hero King Quest: Peacemaker Prologue: The Cerulean Hero Prince starts the game trying to kill the current Dark Lord on behalf of his warmongering father. Sanguine turns the prince into a zombie minion to act as the party's tank. The prince initially tries to resist, but she then adds a spell that completely removes his free will.
  • Kirby can do this in Kirby Star Allies via throwing a friend heart at most enemies and midbosses.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • The first game eventually reveals that the Greater-Scope Villain Revan is actually the player, who ends up on the good side after losing his memories. It's Up to You whether The Power of Friendship prevails or not. This is a case where the questionable moral implications are pointed out, and it can be the motivation if you decide to fall back to the Dark Side.
    • In the sequel, you can install an 'HK Protocol Pacifist Package' into HK-47, with the effect of making him not only incapable of hurting anyone but saccharinely vocal about it. This is played entirely for laughs and lasts for one cutscene.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect 2, you have the option of doing this to the geth "heretics," i.e., those who have sided with the Reapers. While the game treats this as the Paragon choice, it's by no means presented as the "good" choice and the whole thing is treated as morally grey from start to finish. One of your squad members even points out that it's morally equivalent to killing them since by brainwashing them you're "killing their viewpoint." But another of your squadmates, Legion, as the representative of the geth present, points out that the concept of Brainwashing may not even apply in this situation, because they are a Hive Mind by nature for whom the concept of individuality does not exist. It goes on to argue that imposing human attitudes like "democracy" or "opinions" onto them, or "even benign anthropomorphism," could even be considered racist.
    • In Mass Effect 3, the Extended Cut reveals that one of the endings did do this to the Reapers. "Control" has you assuming direct control of them and forcing them to obey your will. This can be subverted if you were a Renegade, as a Renegade Shepard's narration implies s/he intends to use them to destroy anyone who opposes him/her.
    • As a result of the Leviathan DLC, this is done by the titular Leviathans to Collector Forces, freeing them from Reaper control, and allowing the players to use them in Multiplayer.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 5: Team Colonel and Team ProtoMan, the Big Bad is almost convinced to give up on his evil ways, but he decides against it because he believes he's gone too far to be redeemed. Cue Dr. Wily of all people using the Soulnet to erase his memories, forcing Regal to reform.
  • In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Talion eventually gains the ability to "brand" Orcs, turning them and their followers into his own minions. His eventual goal is to ensure that his own brainwashed Uruks become warlords, thus ensuring that he has an army to stand against Sauron.
    • Expanded on in the sequel, where turn them into entire armies, conquering regions of Mordor and manning fortresses to propel the war effort. However, unlike the first game, there can be orcs that manage to break free of the brainwashing, one example being Bruz.
  • Perfect Dark has a special mission where you play as Elvis the Grey alien, whose ship has just crashed in the Nevada desert and is being held captive in Area 51. He is only able to find a Psychosis Gun, which allows him to target security personnel and make them think allies are enemies and vice versa, essentially allowing you to make them switch sides.
  • This is optional to recruit Darkrai after the end of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky. He developed amnesia thanks to being attacked mid-time-travel after the final battle, and can be found wandering aimlessly through random dungeons like a wild Pokemon; and like a wild Pokemon, he can be recruited to your team.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time has the Caulipower plant, which "attacks" by permanently hypnotizing a random zombie that's hungry for your brains into fighting against the zombies.
  • In Prey (2017), this is a way to deal with Walter Dahl, a mercenary sent to kill the survivors of Talos I. If you knock him out, Dr. Igwe (provided he's still alive) will remove his neuromods, which will cause Laser-Guided Amnesia that will make him forget his original objective, with Igwe convincing him that he's there to help them out.
    • This could also apply to what Alex Yu is trying to accomplish by introducing human memories into the Typhon. The ending reveals that the Typhon have already reached Earth, and Alex is experimenting on them to create a connection with humanity. It is up to the player's choice if it is successful.
  • In Remember Me, the protagonist Nilin uses her powers to alter bounty hunter Olga Sedova's memories so that she comes to believe that Memorize was responsible for her husband's death via a botched surgery. She also does this later with Scylla Cartier-Wells by altering her memory of Nilin as a child by making herself blameless for the car accident that caused Scylla to lose her leg.
  • In Saints Row: The Third there is an item that you can use to brainwash anyone to fight for you. It may not necessarily be considered this trope if you don't see the Saints (the gang you are leader of) as the good guys.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey:
    • After the horror of Reverse Hills Building, the four Samurai in Shin Megami Tensei IV return home to the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado for an urgent summons and just off the bat notice there's something wrong - the king and his court have been exiled and no one knows or cares where they went. Everyone received at least a measure of dreams that made them implicitly trust in the mysterious, unseen new rulers. The Fantastic Caste System is being abolished and everyone is perfectly accepting of it - no revolts, no attempts at revenge, no nothing. Curiosity and desire to learn have all but faded. Purges and executions are increasingly common. The Four Archangels have seized control, and are attempting to bend humankind to the will of the Law Faction.
    • Persona 5: The MO of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. They target corrupt adults who are beyond the law due to their positions, entering the mental worlds created by their "warped desires" and fighting monstrous manifestations of their corruption, literally "stealing" all desire that they have to do evil. For most of their targets, it's less of a forced Heel–Face Turn and more of a forced Heel Realization and My God, What Have I Done? that causes them to confess their crimes and atone for them under the law. However, a few of the sidequest targets definitely fall under this: Bad Bosses, Stalkers with Crushes, and controlling mothers realize how horrible they've been and atone by turning their acts around and reconciling with those they wronged, almost always with happy endings as a result.
      • This ends up being a Discussed Trope in-universe, as the Phantom Thieves on occasion ponder the morality of their actions. They also have their critics; Akechi and Sae Nijima believe their methods are lawless and explicitly call the "changes of heart" outright brainwashing, though Akechi is a hypocrite putting on an act, since he uses the Metaverse to not only cause mental shutdowns but also psychotic breakdowns, making him guilty of both mind control himself and outright murder. However, not only are all of the targets of the Phantom Thieves downright terrible people (with the exceptions of Futaba, whose change of heart was requested by the target themselves to get rid of crippling trauma, and Sae Nijima, as the Phantom Thieves never planned to steal her treasure in the first place but instead used her Palace as the lynchpin of their plan to deceive Akechi and the Conspiracy), but as stated at the top, they are too powerful or influential for any other methods to be viable. Kamoshida got away with verbal, physical, and sexual abuse because he brought the school too much good repute as an Olympic gold medalist; Madarame is a powerful individual in the art world capable of silencing anyone who speaks up about his plagiarism; Kaneshiro is a mobster who even the police can't pin anything on; Okumura is the CEO of an international restaurant chain and also has connections to the Conspiracy, and Shido is an obscenely powerful and popular politician, the head of the Conspiracy, and basically has the police in his pocket.
      • This is taken even farther in the Royal Updated Re-release where Well-Intentioned Extremist Dr. Maruki sought to turn reality into a utopia where everyone is happy and part of his plan involved rewriting people's personalities to make them more amicable, most notably Akechi who he brought back to life. He eventually snaps out of it and is disgusted at being robbed of his agency, calling it a Fate Worse than Death.
  • The gynoid WD-40 in Space Quest V: The Next Mutation sent to kill Roger for mail fraud is blown apart by Roger with his patented "Axel Foley" method and then put back together by Cliffy, who reprograms her to be the Eureka's science officer.
  • In Starcraft, Terran criminals that commit particularly brutal crimes undergo "neural resocialization" where their memories are essentially frosted over, and afterwards are usually drafted into the military as now-loyal Marines with a combat life expectancy of under 90 seconds.
    • In the novels one marine regains his memories while aboard a ship. This was done deliberately by a Protoss Preserver, a powerful psychic. Jake calls her out on it, as many of his friends and colleagues die because of this. On the other hand, this was the only way for Jake and Samara to escape and avoid Jake being vivisected by Mengsk's people.
    • In another novel, a female marine turns out to have been a serial killer preying on men by seducing them, taking them home then slowly flaying them. Her resocialization programming had problems when she was under heavy stress and when she was caught by Zerglings, it gave out completely: she whipped out a knife and went Ax-Crazy on them. Didn't save her from getting killed off-screen, though.
  • A rather silly example comes from ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth, where the titular duo (and Latisha) can "funkify" enemy Earthlings into the ways of funk, turning them into helpful NPCs who can give them handy items such as presents and microphones to get them through the game. It even temporarily gives them afros and star shades!
  • In dialogue from Warframe's Jovian Concord update, Lotus implies this is the reason she acted the way she did for most of the game's history.
  • After completing the XCOM 2: Shen's Last Gift DLC, you can choose to install Julian, the rogue AI fought over the expansion, into a SPARK soldier. This triggers a brief exchange where Julian realizes some of his memory files have been deleted and his programming has been modified to make him subservient to your Chief Engineer. The result is a robot soldier that will follow your commands without fail while unleashing snark and sarcasm as his only form of protest.
  • This is apparently the replacement for capital punishment in Xenosaga. Unfortunately, it doesn't always take & in at least one case wound up making the guy even crazier, partially because the guy was a Artificial War Realian-type construct left loose in normal society and had no outlet for the soldier-instincts, and that his lawyer/wife was just using him.

  • A somewhat twisted example happens in Flaky Pastry. Nitrine is one of the main characters, but isn't a nice person. This is explained by the fact that she's a Goblin — a race that inherently lacks a conscience. When her beleaguered boyfriend (whom she'd been two-timing on and lying to for a while) appeals to a powerful wizard for a way to solve his heartache, the wizard responds that while any kind of Love Potion or Mind Rape would be entirely unethical, it would perhaps not be unethical to magically imbue her with a human-level conscience, thus curtailing her behavior. Unfortunately, this backfires spectacularly, since it instantly causes Nitrine to collapse with guilt over all of her past actions — to the point where Zintiel, a crazy, sociopathic High Elf who manages to take the title of Token Evil Teammate ahead of even Nitrine, "congratulates" the guy on coming up with such a spectacularly cruel way to get back at his cheating girlfriend.
  • The FreakAngels eventually do this to Luke by his request, to end his habit of mind-controlling and raping attractive Muggles because he feels superior to them.

    Web Original 
  • In Fine Structure, it is implied that Mitch Calrus transferred John Zhang's More than Mind Control-induced loyalty to the Big Bad to himself, using the same power.
  • The Cleanser in the Sporewiki Fiction Universe is named for his doing this very frequently, in fact, it's essentially his day job.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • One episode ended with a scene where Sonic hypnotized a generic group of biker pigs into becoming good guys, and this was treated as totally fine when Robotnik had spent the entire episode using the same tactic on others.
    • Also played with in "Snow Problem", Robotnik implants Scratch and Grounder with mind-altering chips that turn them into (even more) mindlessly loyal droids. These malfunction and make them loyal to Sonic instead. While the heroes have no deliberate play in this, they get the gist of what's happened and make the two into their servants for the temporary length it lasts. Interestingly the chip is also implanted onto Tails during the episode, turning him into a mindless zombie (in contrast to Scratch and Grounder who act more or less like good versions of their normal sentient selves).
    • In "Honey, I Shrunk the Hedgehog," Sonic and Tails use the effects of Robotnik's shrink ray to their advantage by slipping inside Scratch and Grounder's heads to temporarily override their programming and turn them against their master.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): In "No Brainer," Snively, with the help of a "memory scrambler" device, brainwashed Sonic into working for the bad guys. By the end, the tables have turned, and Sonic brainwashes Snively. While he doesn't really force Snively into doing anything directly helpful for the good guys, Snively does physically attack Robotnik when he sees him, thanks to Sonic filling his freshly-laundered brain with insults about Robotnik. It doesn't end well for Snively.
  • This happened in an episode of C.O.P.S., where Ms. Demeanor was forced by a judge to wear a headset that prevented her from thinking negative thoughts. Unlike most examples on this page, the good guys are very much against it and quite vocal about how immoral it is, citing free will and the fact it would not be true reform but rather something forced on her by a piece of technology. Of course, the device fails at a critical plot point; it makes Demeanor so Lawful Stupid that she lets the episode's Villain of the Week go so she can chase a litterbug.
  • In the '90s animated version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this once happens to Shredder by accident. He is brainwashed into believing he's Michelangelo as part of his latest scheme to infiltrate the Turtles' home. Except the trigger to turn the brainwashing on and off is the word "Shredder." So, of course, they go into a factory, which just happens to have a cheese shredder in it...
  • The Transformers:
    • In the episode "The Core", Optimus and the Autobots suffer a major Out-of-Character Moment when they authorize Chip to use Mind Control Phlebotinum on the Constructicons. In fairness, another episode had revealed that the Constructicons were victims of a Decepticon Mirror Morality Machine and had originally been nice, but Chip's gizmo didn't reverse that, it appeared to be just enslaving them (although it really isn't clear; they don't get many lines during the brief time they're working for the 'Bots). Particularly glaring in light of the fact that the Constructicons' obvious camaraderie in this episode makes them seem downright sympathetic. "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings" indeed!
    • Also, about that episode that says the Constructicons were good once? Two other episodes give two other histories for the Constructicons, each backstory incompatible with the other two. They didn't care about continuity, so The Core being a followup to the earlier episode - which it didn't reference at all - would be entirely Out of Character for the writers. Odds are, The Core's writer had never even heard of the earlier story. In the episode itself, the decision was presented purely as Chip and the Autobots saying "Ooh, the Constructicons turn into a really strong Combining Mecha! What if it was ours?" and then going and whipping up some "dominator discs."
      • Interestingly Chip is disappointed that the Constructicons remain loyal to Megatron after escaping control, hoping they would learn something from their experience as an Autobot, laying some ambiguity as to whether the device was designed to enslave their mind or merely give them goodwill.
  • In an episode of Megas XLR, Coop and the gang land on a planet to ask directions, only to discover that all the worker robots inhabiting it are in fact prisoners of a facility that seemingly removes their free will to make them their slaves. Like usual, Coop demolishes everything, and after getting the directions from the newly awaken robots and leaves, we see the robots he just "freed" destroying all traces of life on this planet very violently, with the "evil overlord" being in fact the prison warden who had transformed killer robots into docile sheep to rehabilitate them, the episode ending with one robot saying he'll repay Coop by destroying Earth.
  • The Venture Bros. does it with Sargent Hatred when the OSI deletes pedophilia from his brain. Although it doesn't seem to have been 100% effective.
  • Punch-Clock Villain and/or Hero with an F in Good Shego from Kim Possible turns into the painfully sweet and kind Ms. Go after getting zapped by the attitudinator.
    • This was, in fact, the second episode to feature the Attitudinator. The first had Drakken get temporarily turned to good.
      • Both episodes also featured a Face–Heel Turn due to the same machine. For Shego's episode, it was Team Go (her former superhero partners). For Drakken, it was Ron (well, Ron was also turned evil in Shego's episode, but it was much more brief that time).
  • The Dreamstone:
    • In one episode, Zordrak takes a shortcut through some kind of dimensional rift so that he can return to his body before it crumbles to dust. The Narrator is happy to inform the viewers that if he strays off course, his worst fears will come true, and sure enough, Urpgor comes through the vortex at the exact same time, knocking Zordrak off course and causing his worst fear to come true: he comes out the other end as "a very nice person", and stays that way long enough to admonish Blob, Frizz, and Nug for stealing the Dreamstone and send Urpgor back to return it (with "an apology and flowers"), along with suggesting a few other changes including a dancefloor and a more colorful refurbishment to his lair. He returns to normal after a piece of rubble lands on his head, and he's not happy when Urpgor triumphantly tells him what he's done...
    • Also done in "Too Hot To Handle" when the Urpneys accidentally get a good dream flashed into their minds by the Dreamstone's magic beams, causing them to become extremely kindly and prissy, willingly handing back the stone to the Dream Maker and happily informing Zordrak of their actions...with the expected results.
      • Done intentionally (albeit as a temporary distraction) in "The Moon Of Doom" and "Auntie Again".
    • The Noops do this again in "Argorrible Attack", albeit somewhat obliviously. After being given nightmares, they sneak into the Urpney's victory party and spike their drinks with good dream bubbles, just attempting to see if it would have any positive effect in stopping them. It once again turns them giddy and pleasant, but only for a worthlessly short amount of time, much to the heroes' woe.
    • Done more effectively in the first season finale, with the protagonists using magic to again turn the attacking Urpneys nice (and the Argorribles into cute puffballs!). It seems to have a more permanent effect, though it is remedied after Blob and Urpgor evacuate them back to Viltheed the following episode.
    • The Urpneys are actually already low level in villainy; the brainwashing merely exaggerates this to the point they are outright Sickeningly Sweet and affectionate, and no longer cowardly enough to follow Zordrak's orders.
  • Paw Paw Bears: In "The Great Paw Paw Turnaround", a Paw Paw from space visits Earth. In the past, he was an evil Meano known as Nasty Paw until one day, he was abducted by aliens who zapped him with a Reversatron (a zapper that brings out your best, or worse, qualities). Nasty Paw was now Nice Paw.
  • In Beast Machines, after the Maximals remove Megaton's mental conditioning on Rhinox/Tankor, they are shocked to find that he actually agrees with him. Cheetor orders Rattrap to reprogram him back to their side, but is overruled by Optimus.
  • In a Darker and Edgier alternate universe of Justice League, the villains of Arkham Asylum have become model patients thanks to lobotomies from Superman's laser-eyes.
  • Pulled off both accidentally and in a very mind-screwy manner in Legion Of Superheroes with the added elements of shapeshifting and infiltration.
  • A prison in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command uses technology to effect this change. It's Played for Laughs when the Galactic President muses about its potential in upcoming elections. Unfortunately, the makers of the brainwashing caps apparently decided to include a setting that had the reverse effect.
  • In X-Men: Evolution, Magneto did this to his daughter Wanda, AKA the Scarlet Witch. Subverted, though, in that all it involved was implanting her with fake memories of a happy childhood with Magneto. She was still the same person, still a bad guy; she just didn't try to destroy Magneto anymore.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The main cast use the Elements Of Harmony on Nightmare Moon in the series premiere to turn her good. Justified somewhat, as it was turning her back into her original Princess Luna persona, with the audience finding out seasons later that it was actually reversing a previous Face-Heel brainwashing. When the Elements Of Harmony are used on Discord, who was always malicious, it had a different effect.
    • Inverted by Discord himself, as he flipped the qualities that let five of the Mane Six utilize the Elements of Harmony, rendering them both unable to use their elements and forcing them into a Face–Heel Turn in the process. Of course, this allowed Twilight Sparkle to play this trope completely straight by forcing good memories of their friendships into her corrupted friends to break them of Discord's hold.
    • When it comes time for the characters to attempt redeeming Discord the following season, Twilight plans on using a spell that will do exactly this. Discord, however, is having none of it and destroys the spell pages she was planning to use by eating them.
  • In episode 11 of the cartoon version of Space Ace, after Kimberly was turned into a baby, Dexter becomes brainwashed by Borf into grabbing Kimberly, so every time Ace turns back into Dexter, the brainwashing process is in effect. However, after turning back into her adult form, Kimberly uses the brainwashing machine to snap Dexter out of his brainwashing state and destroys the machine using Dexter's gun.
  • Happens to the Hacker at the end of the Cyberchase episode "Harriet Hippo and the Mean Green."
    Wicked: Puppies and clowns, trick-or-treat
    From now on, you are nice and sweet!!!
  • Beware the Batman: Magpie's backstory is that she was a repentant thief who volunteered to have this done to her. All of her memories were wiped and she was given a new name, past, and personality. While this was successful for a time, she eventually developed a deranged, super-villainous Split Personality. The process also somehow removed her ability to feel pain, which made her significantly more dangerous.
  • Steven Universe
    • Joked about in the episode "Message Received" has Amethyst coming up with a nonsensical plan to shrink down and manually alter Peridot's mind in the face of her betrayal. Steven shoots it down because he doesn't want to tell her what to do (never mind the fact that it's clearly impossible). It turns out to be unnecessary anyway, since Peridot never intended to betray them.
    • Discussed more seriously in Steven Universe: The Movie: Steven accidentally erases Spinel's memories, she joins his side, and even after her memories are restored so she can stop her Doomsday Device, Spinel initially remains an ally. However, Steven accidentally reveals he was still carrying the amnesia-causing weapon, which makes Spinel think he was planning to deliberately erase her memories later. Steven still wouldn't think of it, and even breaks the weapon to prove he won't.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • In an early episode, Mabel gives Gruncle Stan magical dentures that make him unable to lie, or even to want to lie. After trying desperately to prevent Stan from confessing to crimes and getting arrested, Mabel learns not to force changes on people.
    • In the episode "Society of the Blind Eye", Blind Ivan, the leader of the eponymous group, ends up getting his entire identity erased by the Laser-Guided Amnesia ray used by the society (albeit, by accident as Dipper admitted it was overdone), so Mabel gives him a new identity as a happy minstrel.
  • Happens in Xiaolin Showdown, where using only one half of the Yin-Yang Yoyo induces an alternating Heel-Face or Face-Heel turn whenever the user exits the Yin-Yang World.
    • Jack Spicer unintentionally becomes nice and joins the Xiaolin side one time when he uses the Yang-Yoyo, becoming helpful to the point of being annoying to the protagonists. Later when nice Jack uses the Yin-Yoyo to help his friends, even though he knows he will turn back to his original self, it's treated as kind of a sad farewell.
  • In the Lolirock episode "Forget You!", when the princesses discover Praxina has lost her memory, they decide to show her how to be good, rather than remind her of her evil past. After a rocky start ("Could we not destroy things and still help people?"), Praxina embraces doing the right thing. Of course, Status Quo Is God, so she gets her memories back by the end of the episode and goes back to being evil, but Iris is hopeful that some of what they taught her will stick.
  • Ren & Stimpy: Stimpy puts a Happy Helmet on Ren, and they proceed to sing the "Happy Happy Joy Joy" song together. Ren however manages to fight all of these happy impulses and smashes the helmet off of his own head with a hammer. Needless to say, he is NOT happy about the entire ordeal.
  • Carmen Sandiego: A rare case of villains using this trope themselves. Whenever a V.I.L.E. agent gets caught, they have their memories of V.I.L.E. erased, and to avoid the possibility of remembering them, V.I.L.E. also wipes away any criminal intent too.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Heel Face Mind Screw


By Your Command

With some quick reprogramming, Cortez turns a death machine into a friend machine.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / HeelFaceBrainwashing

Media sources: