The reasons why someone would want to eliminate imagination vary; one of the more practical ones is that creativity feeds chaos, and by eliminating it, it's far easier to control people's minds so that a stricter order can be established. Or a villain wanting to make the hero less of a threat by making them incapable of coming up with plans. Other times, it's that the entity's very existence is in opposition to the concept of imagination, making it a battle between two abstract, mutually exclusive forces for supremacy.
Related to (and, if successful, results in) Creative Sterility and/or Lack of Imagination. Compare with Dream Stealer, Emotion Eater and Hope Crusher; as well as Writer's Block, a possible outcome of this trope. Contrast with Dream Weaver.
Anime & Manga
- FLCL: The purpose of the irons seen throughout is to "smooth out the wrinkles" in the human brain, stripping them of their creativity and making everyone equal.
- In I Feel Sick, Devi's artist's block is caused by Sickness siphoning off her creativity for its own use. It also implies that the similar consumption of the creative talent of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac is what originally caused him to go crazy.
- In an X-Men/Alpha Flight crossover, Loki gives regular humans superpowers, which would eliminate anti-mutant prejudice. Then they discovered that the price was all humans losing their imagination/creativity. It was pointed out that then humans would still resent mutants, who retained their imagination.
- In The Sandman, the reason the Twentieth Century was such a mess in so many ways is because the living embodiment of the human imagination and subconscious spent most of that time locked in an evil sorcerer's basement.
- In The Story to End All Stories, Chuck Cunningham swears revenge on both humanity and the rest of fiction for forgetting about him. He unleashes the Nothing in order to wipe out fiction and destroy people's ability to imagine.
- Discworld: The Auditors of Reality despise the concept of imagination, considering it to be a reason for humanity's "messiness", and try to compromise it by eliminating the Hogfather (that universe's Santa Claus).
- Hard Times: Thomas Gradgrind is a more mundane example; as a believer in utilitarianism, he seeks to root out any "fanciful ideas" from his pupils and have them care about nothing but cold, hard facts.
- The Looking-Glass Wars: WILMA (Weapon of Inconceivable Loss and Massive Annihilation) is a weapon that destroys people's imaginations. Aunt Redd is trying to contain and stop it from coming to Earth.
- The Neverending Story: The Nothing is an eldritch force that represents the opposite of humanity's imagination. It is empowered by things like apathy and cynicism and it threatens to erase Fantasia out of existence, which would leave humans' ability to imagine forever heavily damaged if such a thing came to pass.
- We: The totalitarian regime perfects a neurosurgery procedure called a "fantasectomy", which destroys the subject's ability to comprehend anything that is not a physical fact.
- A Wrinkle in Time: The Big Bad IT is trying to enforce complete equality in the Multiverse by erasing everyone's sense of creativity.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Gulliver's Fugitives features a Lost Colony whose hat is an unholy alliance among Culture Police, Moral Guardians, and this trope. To squash out imagination, they rely heavily on computerized brainwashing to paint smiles on your soul. Naturally, when they find out the Enterprise is carrying the cultural treasures of a hundred worlds in her cultural database, they lose their goddamn minds.
- The Dick Van Dyke Show: In the episode "It May Look Like a Walnut", Rob and Laura watch a sci-fi movie where aliens use a walnut-like object to strip humans of their thumbs and imagination so they can't make things. Then Rob has a nightmare about the movie where the walnuts figure heavily and he ends up losing his thumbs and sense of humor, much to his despair.
- In John Reuben's "Word of Mouth" music video, there are monsters that eat peoples' imaginations, which physically reduces them to brown blocks. When the monster is killed, everything's returned to normal.
- Changeling: The Dreaming: There were two ways for Changelings to gain Glamour (AKA imagination, creativity) by draining it from humans.
- Ravaging stole Glamour from human beings in a very painful manner. If a human was Ravaged repeatedly and frequently, they could lose all of their Glamour permanently. The Unseelie particularly enjoy this form of feeding.
- Rapture forced a human to create a work of art that completely and permanently drained all Glamour from them. When the work was destroyed, the Glamour was gained by the Changelings who participated.
- LEGO Universe shows that the LEGO Universe thrives on Imagination, a mythical element that is needed to build and create (which, for a world Built with LEGO, is naturally pretty important). The villain is the Maelstrom, a force of chaos and destruction that serves as the antithesis of Imagination. The Maelstrom was created when Baron Typhonus corrupted the Imagination Nexus, and now it seeks to corrupt or extinguish the remaining Imagination in the universe.
- Dragon Quest Builders, which takes place in the wake of the Bad End of Dragon Quest I, has a variation: Humanity has been stripped of their ability to create. The concept of stacking one stone on top of another to make shelter is completely alien to them, everyone's wearing rags because they don't think to make new clothes, and literacy is on the decline because people can't 'create' new books. The Player Character proceeds to blow people's minds by building villages out of basic materials, which stirs the survivors to start dreaming up new ideas again - though they'll defer to "the Builder" to actually construct anything complex.
- In RWBY, this was the goal of one side of the Great War of Remnant. Before the Great War, the Kingdom of Mantle abolished all forms of art and self-expression. The reasoning was that by removing these things, it will keep the population's emotions from growing too strong and thus attracting the Creatures of Grimm. Mantle's trade partners Mistral approved of the abolishment (for everyone but the ruling class), but the kingdoms of Vale and Vacuo wouldn't have it.
- In The Little Mermaid (1992), the Evil Manta has a pet known as the Brain Sponge, which he tries to unleash on Ariel to sap her imagination. Since his son Little Evil interferes, it's the Evil Manta who nearly gets his brain drained, but Ariel and Little Evil defeat the Brain Sponge and save him.
- Phineas and Ferb
- In the episode "Phineas and Ferb Interrupted", Dr. Doofenschmirtz builds a Dull-and-Boring-inator. The boys are actually hit by it offscreen, before the show begins, and its effect is to make them dull and boring, and completely sap them of their usually fertile imagination.
- In the special "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted!" Candace finally gets the boys busted and they get sent to a summer school where, using nonmagical means (similar to Gradgrind's) and along with a class of other boys, their imaginations get taken. It was All Just a Dream.