Follow TV Tropes


Master of Illusion

Go To

"Then I shall make you see... that your hopes are nothing — nothing but a mere illusion!"

Most villains (and the occasional hero, but this is largely a villain power), if given the chance, will employ magic or mechanisms to confuse their enemies and render them vulnerable, but a Master of Illusion will go beyond merely using such trickery as a tool. Instead, they will hone it into a fine art form; milking it for as much trickery, espionage, and/or personal pleasure as they can derive from it.

Such powers are usually psychic in origin, although they can also be technological as well, creating Holograms which can be especially dangerous when they can make them solid (holograms also carry the bonus of being able to fool electronic surveillance). Despite lacking obvious means of attack like with Pyrokinesis and Telekinesis, they can use a Faux Flame to burn, though resolute heroes may resist, or making a gaping hole seem like an even floor. A common variant is for the Master of Illusion to trap the hero in a virtual reality simulation over which the villain has complete control. Of course, death or injury in the simulation will usually mean death or injury in real life, so any hero thus ensnared will have to be careful. Most Masters of Illusion aren't content to just let their VR deathtrap program play out by itself - what would be the fun in that after all? So they'll frequently appear in the simulation, usually as a cackling, monstrous tormentor who plays cat and mouse games with the hero and who mocks their every step. If the Master of Illusion traps a hero in a Lotus-Eater Machine,—or in a simulation of their ordinary, everyday life—they'll frequently appear as an ally of the hero, using this form to distract the hero from discovering their true whereabouts, or as part of a ruse to trick the hero into revealing some important confidential information.

In more insidious cases, the Master of Illusion will appear to the hero as a romantic interest, either one the hero knows, or one that's been created whole cloth out of the hero's own memories and desires. This gives the Master of Illusion the chance to screw with the hero's mind (and body, depending on how far the writers let things go.)

Masters of Illusion really needn't bother with such elaborate setups. It would be easy enough, after all, to trick an enemy into killing himself: use some variant of the "This Is Not a Floor" trick; destroy a spaceship by having its crewmembers press the wrong buttons and steer it into the nearest star; kill the heroes by having them confuse each other for enemies and fatally attack each other.. But again, what would be the fun in doing something as simple as that? Masters of Illusion, having Trickster personalities by the very nature of their powers, will usually not be able to resist playing with their prey. Of course, this could—and usually does - give the heroes the time and/or chance to think up a way to counter the Master of Illusion's powers, or leave clues that they are in an illusion in the first place, such as a Blank Book. Once the villain is destroyed, the world they create usually dissolves into nothingness - provided the defeat or death of the Master of Illusion wasn't part of the illusion itself...

And really, as a hero... how would you know? Could you ever really be sure that you defeated the Master of Illusion and escaped? Why is Schrödinger's Butterfly flapping nearby?

(Cue an echoing "Mwahahahahaha.")

Interestingly, the Master of Illusion will very rarely turn out to be the Big Bad - this is because they're far less interested in ruling people than they are in just screwing with them. For some reason, the Big Bad who employs a Master of Illusion never worries that he himself might be enthralled or under their control. (Although if he were, would the Master of Illusion allow him to experience any doubts?) Also, while the Master of Illusion is usually villainous, heroic examples are hardly unknown. If the Master of Illusion is the Big Bad, their power over illusions may become borderline Reality Warping. Indeed, it might actually be their goal to "upgrade" from faking control of reality to actual control.

On that note, sometimes even a "mundane" Master of Illusion will be able to make their projections "solid" or "real" in some sense, which as noted effectively makes them the budget version of the Reality Warper. These abilities will usually come with limitations however, most often No Ontological Inertia for the created constructs, a greater fragility than the constructs realistically would have (to physical force or especially disbelief), and/or some limits on what can be made real (Belief might make a sword wound or a Faux Flame Fireball as deadly as they seem, but unless you're in a cartoon world, forget about an illusory bridge fooling gravity or a tunnel overcoming the Pauli Exclusion Principle)

Note: This trope doesn't apply to villains who occasionally employ illusory tricks to ensnare enemies. The Master of Illusion is a specialist in generating manipulative hallucinations, and will usually possess no other powers apart from that. (Although when you have the ability to trick the Mighty Glacier into thinking that his 6-foot long claymore is a flyswatter and that a poisonous mosquito has just landed on the back of his buddy's neck, who needs other powers?)

See also Lotus-Eater Machine, Masquerade, The Treachery of Images, I Know What You Fear, Cold Flames and Shapeshifting Seducer. Compare Glamour. Not to be confused with Mickey Mouse's games, or the thirteenth Pokémon movie, even if the main Pokémon is herself an example of this trope.

For the other type of Master of Illusions, the folks who perform to entertain audiences, see Stage Magician (though it's not at all rare for the two tropes to overlap).


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Hagall from Ah! My Goddess has the power to project illusions into her opponents minds, which then become real to them.
  • Bleach: Sosuke Aizen's illusions are so powerful than anyone who sees him release his Zanpakutō even once falls prey to them ever after. There's no sure-fire way to tell if the illusions are fake or real unless you can gain excellent knowledge of the subject the illusion is covering. His Zanpakutō fits his personality perfectly, as Aizen is the creepy, mysterious, manipulative Big Bad. He also consistently shows us that illusions are not a 'soft' power. There is only one known immunity to falling under the spell: being blind. The only way to escape the power once ensnared is to touch the blade before the illusions can be activated (good luck trying to work out if the illusions are already active, however). It takes decades for Gin to learn this tidbit and even then he has to wait decades more for a moment when he's absolutely certain Aizen isn't using his power before he touches the blade. Yamamoto did work out for himself that there was a relationship between the blade and the power, as he realized having the sword buried in his gut enabled him to work out the exact location of Aizen's reiatsu.
    • In the final arc, it's shown that not even the virtually nigh omnipotent Yhwach is immune to Aizen's illusions. In fact, given that Yhwach's "The Almighty" power is triggered by sight, it's possible that he's even more vulnerable than other characters would be. While Yhwach can see all possible futures and alter them, it would seem that Aizen's illusions cause him to see and attempt to alter illusory futures instead of real ones.
  • Junichiro Tanizaki from Bungo Stray Dogs is this trope. His power is instrumental for freeing himself and Atsushi from the clutches of a very lethal doll stored in an alternate dimension.
  • Buso Renkin: When concentrated on a single individual, Dr. Butterfly's Buso Renkin, Alice in Wonderland, is capable of creating disturbing hallucinations that can break the minds of all but the strongest willed of victims.
  • Takumi Nishijō from Chaos;Head could be considered a master of illusion; his illusions mostly affect himself, but given that half the time he doesn't know if it's reality or not...
  • Road Kamelot of D.Gray-Man. She uses it to Mind Rape people.
  • The Medicine Master from Doraemon: Nobita's the Legend of the Sun King, whose spells tricks Doraemon and gang to believe they're being attacked by living statues. His magic can hurt his intended victims as well, with Nobita actually feeling the pain when he's Squashed Flat by the paws of a non-existent rock monster.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Heroic example: Mystogan/Mist Gun is a mysterious man who usually tries to avoid contact with anyone else in the title guild. His illusions are so convincing and so well used that he's an S-Class mage, and ranks with Gildarts and Laxus as one of the guild's top three. You later find out his reason for staying mysterious: He's an alternate universe counterpart of a man who is a hated criminal in this world. He's here to stop his nation's king from carrying out a deadly plan, and he doesn't want to be mistaken for the criminal while he does his work.
    • Later on, Jellal ups the ante by impersonating Mystogan — including his magic. The fact that he's using illusion magic is itself an illusion!
    • Midnight can do this by bending light before it reaches his target's eyes, usually by fooling his foes into attacking an illusion of himself. In fact, his "trump card" is faking a One-Winged Angel with a particularly powerful illusion and letting his enemies fight fruitlessly against it as they go crazy from fear.
    • Roubaul was able to create illusions of an entire population that were solid and all had their own thoughts and personalities, and maintained the illusions for over seven years. By Jura's assessment, Roubaul may be one of the most powerful illusion casters of all time.
  • Tomo from Fushigi Yuugi traps the heroine in a Lotus-Eater Machine which resembled her life in Japan. He enters the simulation, impersonates a student and tries to seduce her. (He does this less because he's attracted to her and more because her powers are tied to her virginity.)
  • Get Backers loves this trope, as it allows them to Reset Button all the heart-wrenching deaths in an arc when it turns out that most of it didn't actually happen. The IL arc was an example of a technological version (with supernatural help), and Divine Design was a purely magical one.
  • Guardian Fairy Michel has an illusion fairy shaped like a manta ray. Its effects range from a Lotus-Eater Machine to tricking Kim into nearly destroying Honeybee.
  • Hellsing:
    • Zorin Blitz, to the point that it goes into full-on Mind Rape, using her power to make herself appear giant-sized and later getting right into the minds of her victims.
    • And, to a lesser extent, Tubalcain Alhambra, the Dandy Man, who can create illusionary clones out of cards.
    • Alucard can manipulate shadows to create illusions, but he almost always prefers a more direct approach.
  • Silky from I'm Gonna Be an Angel! has the power of creating illusions in the vacuum space that she resides in, as well as making her dolls alive.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: Kenny Gnote  uses his Stand Tenore Sax to make Dio's mansion seem to be a convoluted and confusing maze of corridors and stairways, even turning the basement into a "Far Side" Island.
  • Neko of K has this as her major power as a Strain. To be precise, she is capable of manipulating people's senses to a massive extent; she doesn't actually turn into a cat for example and yet somehow her illusion powers lets her pull this off. Said manipulation of senses extents to manipulating memories.
  • Kogarashi, the titular Kamen no Maid Guy, has among his (effectively infinite) powers one called "Daydreaming Maid Guy Illusion." His uses for it are rather... creative. Such as scaring his master Naeka out of a forced fasting, sending one of her kendo rivals into a rampage, and other fun and games. He is a Sociopathic Hero.
  • Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss is one, but then again he is a Kitsune, so it comes with the territory.
  • Caldina from Magic Knight Rayearth. Starts out as a villainess (though not a full blooded one), then has a Heel–Face Turn and sides with the heroines, becoming their Cool Big Sis in the second half.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS:
    • Quattro takes pleasure in using her powers of illusion against the protagonists. Towards the end of the season, she even tricks Vivio into trying to kill her adoptive mother, Nanoha.
    • Teana, meanwhile, is a heroic example, using invisibility and projected images to confuse foes on the battlefield.
  • A heroic example is Mako Urashima, the heroine of the old shoujo manga Mahou no Mako-chan, which is heavily based on The Little Mermaid (1989). Thanks to a sapphire pendant given to her by her father, the King of the Sea, after becoming an Ordinary High-School Student Mako can use mermaid magic to cast diverse illusions.
  • In Naruto many characters can create illusions (a sensible ability for some ninja’s), known as genjutsu ("illusion techniques"). Notably, while some are the standard 'hologram'-style type of illusion, others (such as what the Uchihas and Tayuya typically use) involve 'hacking' the target's central nervous system and making them see, hear, and feel what the caster wants them to.
    • The undisputed master is Aloof Big Brother Itachi Uchiha, who forced his little brother Sasuke to relive the deaths of their family at his hands over and over, on two separate occasions. Most people affected by his illusions become mentally scarred. It's even mentioned long after his death that Sasuke's illusion techniques still can't compare to Itachi's. An important thing to note is that Itachi doesn't solely rely on his Sharingan to cast illusions, making the whole "don't look in his eyes" plan a lot less useful. One of Itachi's most memetic lines is "You're already under my genjutsu", which reflects his tendency to win fights via illusions before the fight even starts.
      • This ultimately leads to a bizarre battle when two of these, Sasuke and Itachi, both used an illusion to make the other think they won—which is followed up with more illusions within the first illusions. And more within THOSE! If there was ever a fight scene that could be accurately described using the phrase Mind Screw, this would be it. They don't even move until a few chapters after the battle starts! It's all illusions! This is probably why genjutsu isn't used that much by protagonists; if it's used by more than one side, it gets real confusing and old, real fast.
    • It was later revealed that Tobi, the Big Bad of the series, and Danzo can make their subjective reality an illusion using the power of the Sharingan and Hashirama Cells. Just one of many insanely powerful and unbalanced techniques those supernatural eyes make possible. The typical usage of it is to rewrite reality and erase fatal injuries that've been inflicted on them. The downside to this technique is that normally it can only be used twice, since the eye used to activate it will be permanently blinded afterward; thus it being a desperation move rather than an automatic "I win" button. Tobi gets around this by having a collection of preserved Sharingans that he harvested in the Uchiha Massacre, so that if he's ever pushed far enough to resort to this technique he can get an eye transplant to bring him back to full strength. And Danzo has the infamous "Sharingarm", an artificial right arm with ten Sharingan eyes implanted in it.
      • This, in turn, is revealed to be a downgraded version of the Sage of Six Paths' power. He had the ability to make illusions become real and used this power to create the nine Tailed Beasts.
    • The 2nd Mizukage has also been revealed to be a Master of Illusion in his fight against the Allied Shinobi Forces. After his clam creates mirages (which are a type of illusion that is specifically not the same thing as genjutsu and don't operate on the same principles as genjutsu, meaning that the normal ways for a character to break or escape from a genjutsu don't work) he tries to offer advice on how to defeat them, with hilarious results.
  • One Piece: Brook is revealed to be one of these post-Time Skip, after he's tapped into the full power of his Devil Fruit abilities; he uses this trope in conjunction with his music just long enough for him to pull off his You Are Already Dead swordplay.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In the episode "Malice in Wonderland", Mismagius shows off Master of Illusion powers by hypnotizing all the main characters (except, inexplicably, Brock's Croagunk).
    • Zoroark, a Pokémon from the fifth generation, has the ability to take on the appearance of the Pokémon she faces in a battle. The illusion breaks when she takes sufficient damage. To top that off, Zoroark is the main Pokémon in the 13th movie, appropriately titled Zoroark: Master of Illusions. Zoroark's ability is showcased in a trailer for the 13th movie, where she assumes the appearances of the Legendary Beasts from Generation 2 (who are also featured Pokémon in the film) and Ash.
    • Zoroark's previous stage, Zorua, also possesses the same ability and stars in the 13th Pokémon movie alongside Zoroark.
    • The Gastly line has been show repeatedly to use illusions to either drive people away or just mess with them.
  • In Rave Master, the villain Lance wields the Beast Sword, which can generate illusions of creatures like wolves and dragons. Normally, he uses these to distract his opponent. He acquires the Dark Bring, Real Moment, which lets him make his illusions solid for a moment at a time.
  • Reborn! (2004):
    • Mukuro is master of illusion, and to a lesser extent, Chrome.
    • The Big Bad of the Inheritance Ceremony arc Daemon Spade.
  • Akio Ohtori in Revolutionary Girl Utena has elements of this, but in his world believing illusions is effectively making them real; he even makes presumably dead or terminally ill people hallucinate that they are alive and well, and they indeed are, as long as the illusion holds.
  • Dais from Ronin Warriors uses illusions to trick the heroes into attacking each other. He also uses psychological warfare to trick one of the heroes into believing that his own Empathic Armor will eventually corrupt him.
  • Saint Seiya:
    • Phoenix Ikki. Once used his "Phoenix Illusion Demonic Fist", it sends various nightmare illusions directly created by the opponent's brain; he or she is trapped within an illusion that is almost indistinguishable from reality.
    • Gemini Saga. This is how he can duplicate his Temple, control his cloth far away from the battlefield and create an infinite maze in his temple which can trap his opponents for an eternity... unless someone breaks his concentration.
    • Virgo Shaka. When he strikes, the enemy sees his glittering form against a breathtaking view of fantastic worlds and places within the Buddhist tradition; such illusions are a part of his technique in confusing and defeating opponents using something akin to psychological warfare.
  • Soul Eater: Free can project illusions of himself that mimic his movements. While the illusions have no mass and attacks can slip through them without stopping, Free has been used the fact that he's got Complete Immortality to fake No Selling ranged attacks like Death the Kidd's gunshots, though the ruse falls apart when he starts jumping away from Black Star's melee attacks which makes no sense given his usual lack of care for personal safety.
  • Yugi from Tenchi in Tokyo usually uses this as her power.
  • Mayu from Tokkô can project images into the minds of anyone within a certain range.
  • The anime Tokyo ESP has Hokosai Azuma. He has strong, telepathic powers and uses them to create illusions. And later you see Pelico, a pelican who has the same powers, and can easily destroy his illusions.
  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, the Trickster Demon in Youko's sword shows her illusions in an attempt to get her to kill herself and do morally reprehensible things. (It also gave her good advice from time to time, so she never quite knew when to listen to it and when not to.) Eventually, Youko learned that the sword reflected her own thoughts and fears back onto her, and she decided, instead of fearing the sword's power, to use it as a tool for understanding herself.
  • The main characters of Wolf's Rain are real wolves that give off the illusion of humans. Much to the disappointment of (some) fangirls.
  • Plasma the Light Demon from Yaiba can create perfect illusions by manipulating the light in the surroundings.
  • Yami Yugi in the earlier parts of the manga and season 0 of Yu-Gi-Oh!, had this as his trademark: he would challenge, cajole, or trick villains into playing a game with him, and when they lost, would inflict a "penalty game" punishment in the form of a vivid, symbolically-appropriate hallucination, often one that reveals the villain's root sin and/or turns it against them, for example, causing a greedy extortionist bully to go insane and roll around in a pile of leaves and garbage laughing with glee, convinced that he's rolling in a pile of 10,000 yen notes. Or causing an exploitative documentary filmmaker who distorts the truth to get high ratings to see the entire world censored with heavy pixelation.
    • Titan in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX initially employs this to make people think he holds a Millennium Item. The trick is foiled when the protagonists realize that different people see different things (Hayato sees one arm vanished from Judai and Sho sees the other arm, for example), and the trick is broken.
  • In Zatch Bell!, Kanchomé, previously thought to be little more than The Load, is revealed to be one of these in the final saga. His illusions work by sending signals directly to the hearts and minds of those involved, making even the knowledge that they're not real useless in breaking the spell.

    Comic Books 


  • Batman:
    • The Riddler, particularly in the animated series, is fond of tormenting Batman with illusions and virtual reality.
    • The Scarecrow does it even more, specializing in your deepest fears.
    • The Mad Hatter as well, when his Hypno Trinket thing is interpreted as trapping the victim in The Wonderland.
  • Cynthia Reynolds from Justice League Detroit has the power to cast illusions which she can use in a large variety of ways focusing on invisibility and camouflage. She can camouflage both herself and someone standing in close proximity to her.
  • Justice Society of America villain Brainwave started off as a master of illusion, then inherited his dad's telepathy. Then he got stuck in the Heel–Face Revolving Door, not so much because he was that awesome, but because nobody could remember which side he was on last (or, in one case, that his dad, who had similar powers and used his son's appearance because he was a freaky midget dude, was dead).
  • Princess Projectra from Legion of Super-Heroes is a heroic version of this; her illusions can fool anyone even when they know that she's using her powers on them.
  • In Superman vs. Shazam!, Karmang casts illusion spells to disguise Black Adam and the Sandman Superman as Captain Marvel and Superman, respectively.
  • Phobia, an old Teen Titans villain, has powers like the "fear" version of Danielle Moonstar's. Starting with Identity Crisis, Phobia has been turned into an incredibly squicky version of this trope, with her abducting heroes and villains to become her playthings.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Villain the Duke of Deception uses his illusions to spread falsehoods among humanity to provoke them into conflict and war. He often vainly projects an attractive illusion of himself.
    • The rather different version of the Duke of Deception in The Legend of Wonder Woman still possesses this power, but uses it to make his victims feel despair and see death and horror surrounding them.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Trinity is the woman with three faces, Time, War, and Chaos. Each face has its own power: Chaos can project illusions.

Marvel Universe

  • Doctor Strange at times (usually when he wants to get rid of enemies without using force). His enemies Nightmare, Mephisto, and D'Spayre are more aggressive about it and all have attempted to catch him in a Psychological Torment Zone.
  • Victoria Harkness, granddaughter of Doctor Doom, in Marvel 100th Anniversary Special is supposedly one of these. We never see her use her powers, however.
  • Loki from The Mighty Thor, as one would expect from the God of Mischief. This is better showcased following his Heel–Face Turn in recent years, in particular in Loki: Agent of Asgard. He's so good at this that he's able to escape an inescapable prison cell during an interrogation, put his interrogator in said cell, and escape before anyone's none the wiser. Technically young comicbook Loki is an incredibly powerful Reality Warper but thanks to the side-effects of his magic (runs on story logic, prone butterfly effects etc.) tends to prefer less invasive methods of manipulation like illusions or technomancy.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Mysterio falls into this trope, though his illusions are all based from his previous employment in the special effects industry. He even titles himself "The Master of Illusion". It's also done on occasion by the Chameleon. The original Mysterio committed suicide in Daredevil, and in his subsequent appearances may or may not have Came Back Wrong, with actual illusion-casting powers. In the Old Man Logan storyline, Mysterio makes illusions so real that it tricks Wolverine into killing all of the other X-Men and breaking him when he dismisses the illusion.
    • The Clone Saga included a mysterious villain named Judas Traveller who appeared to have almost unlimited reality warping powers. After many issues of build-up, it came as something of a disappointment when it finally turned out he was just an illusionist.
    • A minor foe, Mirage, and Fusion, who appeared in only two stories. (Admittedly one of them was awesome.)
  • Squadron Supreme has Moonglow, whose myriad abilities are all illusions. The team's Hot Witch Arcanna also uses illusions, but as an incidental part of her magic powers.
  • X-Men:
    • Jason "Mastermind" Wyngarde. Two of his three daughters are even better at it, being able to reinforce their illusions via telepathy (the third has different powers, which include inducing hallucinations but decidedly do not qualify for this trope since the hallucinations are completely random).
    • The only heroic mutant character with this power is Danielle Moonstar, formerly of the New Mutants. By using her illusion power in conjunction with her basic telepathy, she can cast images based on someone's greatest fears or desires. Or both.


    Fan Works 
  • Trixie is commonly depicted in fanfics to be an illusion specialist - although canonically she is far more versatile.
    • The Lunaverse version of Trixie falls somewhat under this trope, despite being the Element Of Magic. This may have something to do with her cutie mark being about doing magic for others, and especially for others' entertainment. She's even better with stage magic (sleight of hoof without any actual quintessence manipulation) than she is with "real magic". Incidentally, this really backfires when she runs into the Lunaverse version of Twilight, who cannot believe that the Element of Magic could be an illusionist.
  • Ashes of the Past: Brock. Makes full use of Ninetails, Zorua and Stantler's illusion abilities, and at one point pulls off an Inception-style illusion within an illusion during the Rota tournament in a battle against Max. Lampshaded by several characters, who joke that his Rock Type specialty in itself is misleading.
  • Child of the Storm has the traditional example of Loki, who is the undisputed master of the art. By the sequel, Harry is also rather competent at it (in part because he's Loki's nephew with the advantage of one on one tutelage, and partly because it resonates with his Psychic Powers), enough to cast some very convincing Glamour — namely, impersonating the Dark Phoenix (though that takes a lot of concentration).
    • Magneto also demonstrates skills in this department thanks to the more esoteric applications of his powers — manipulating light. He drops an illusion of a large piece of panelling on Harry, relying on his instinctive reaction (to grab it with his telekinesis) to demonstrate that Harry is capable of manipulating energy as well as matter.
  • Fallen King has Pegasus, who uses an endless hallway to trap the heroes.
  • In Game Theory, Vesta has an aptitude for illusion magic. So far she's used it to alter her appearance, turn herself and others invisible, and blind enemies with bright bursts of light.
  • Getting Back on Your Hooves has Rarity, as in canon, but also Trixie's grandmother, Helena Midsummer, due to her special talent for theater. In "Happy Mother's Day" we actually get to see her teaching Trixie some of it.
  • In Ice And Fire, Kallen got a Geass from C.C. that lets her create illusions.
  • Invader Zim: A Bad Thing Never Ends: The Announcer is capable of generating perfectly realistic illusions with the holographic projectors he carries with himself at all times.
  • Rajotel in The Keys Stand Alone is said to be one of these, but it's an Informed Ability as we never actually see him do anything. (Almost everything he does is offscreen.)
  • In The Lorelei Chronicles, the titular character is a heroic example. Whether she's hanging with the Avengers or being the Doctor's companion, you can count on her to use her psychic abilities to "make you sense what [she wants] you to sense" (in "Mischief Loves Company", it's stated that she has powers almost exactly like Loki of Marvel Comics, with the personality to match (minus the evilness)). When she has to, she'll use her powers to help her friends, but she prefers to just play pranks with them. Justified, in that her parents in her universe often have messy fights, so that when she universe hops to escape, she tries to prevent fighting by causing as much laughter as possible. Subverted slightly in that she can only use her power when in other universes.
  • In Masks Within Masks all Zoroark and Zorua can cast powerful illusions, but Seven's illusion-casting skills are especially potent.
  • Master, Pokémon?: Tamano/Delia. Takes out Hunter J despite J's anti-illusion goggles by casting an illusion between J's eyes and the goggles. J's left flailing around at phantoms, then realising she's stuck on a submerged ship about to implode.
  • In Opening Dangerous Gates, an enemy Tengu can affect all five senses. He can easily incapacitate people by completely cutting them off from their senses. Only extremely powerful beings like Ulquiorra can shrug off and dispel the effects.
  • In Persona 4 SILVER BLUE:
    • Like her canon counterpart, Labrys has illusion powers that can mess with the senses and perception of people around her. She uses it mainly to disguise herself as a human and blend in with the humans of Inaba. She can also use it in battle to confuse enemies.
    • Shadow Labrys too. She’s even better at it than Labrys, and she can even affect senses that Labrys doesn’t know how to affect yet, like time perception or temperature perception. She even used her powers to Mind Rape Shadow Yosuke and distract him so she could fight Labrys one-on-one.
  • In Pokémon: The Lost Child Zorua has the ability to make illusions of any Pokémon and she is clearly really good at it, though she can't copy any powers much like in the games.
  • In the Pony POV Series, this is the power of the Element of Deceit. It's user can change their appearance, create illusionary surroundings, create copies of themselves, and change their voice. Dark World!Applejack actually gets better at it after her Heel–Face Turn, eventually gaining the ability to fool the sense of touch.
    • In Season 2, Pearls, Princess Gaia/Nightmare Whisper (AKA: Fluttershy!) is this. She uses her powers for her plan to put everypony in their own personal paradise dream world, because she genuinely wanted to give them happiness. It is also revealed that her Princess Gaia form is a fake, hiding her true state as Nightmare Whisper.
    • Princess Ansai an alternate Trixie's alicorn self from one of the Dark world cycles, is the ultimate master of illusion.
    • Somnambula is this as well. Unlike Princess Gaia, she used it for far more sinister uses, like life draining people while in a dream to
  • Realistic Pokémon: Zoroark is an interesting portrayal, as it's depicted as secreting a sort of hallucinogenic liquid.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: "Psych" is able to make people see, hear and feel whatever he wants, including concealing his own presence and attaching real pain to illusory wounds. Fortunately, he can't target very many people at once; when he's mobbed by a crowd, his illusions start to break down. Terawatt reflects afterward that it's a good thing he wasn't clever enough to just make her allies look like monsters and have her fry them.
  • In OSMU: Fanfiction Friction, this is why the Deadly Book The Book of Ashes is as dangerous as it is. Octavius explains that it looks into the minds of its victims and feeds on their emotions, whether that be fears or hopes and dreams, using them to destroy its victims. Orla, who is guarding the book, is on guard and threatens the book by telling it that it's ready for whatever it throws at her, just before it conjures up an illusion of her mother that looks, feels and acts perfectly real. Orla is swept away, as her mother tells her she had been searching for her daughter for years and had finally found her, but when the agent goes to hug her, her fingers turn into talons and tear right into Orla's back.
  • The gift Maya receives in The Seer and His Butterfly is the ability to create illusions, making herself invisible being a secondary ability.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The B-movie Dark Haul features a version of The Jersey Devil that can project illusions into its victims' minds. One of its pursuers, taking a breather from hunting it, pops the top off a can of soda in the truck full of weapons he and his associates brought to kill the creature ... only to discover (too late) that he's trying to drink from an armed grenade.
  • A non-superpowered version of this was F/X: Murder by Illusion, about a special effects master who finds himself set upon by a criminal conspiracy and has to wipe them all out.
  • The Japanese sorcerer Nakano in Highlander III: The Sorcerer, Connor MacLeod's mentor, possesses the power of illusion, using it to confuse his opponents. Kane steals it from him by killing him, using it to impersonate people and create fake projections to trick them.
  • The Illusionist (2006) features one as a protagonist who uses sleight of hand and ingenious mechanisms.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Although this was the gimmick of a different figure (Freya) in Norse Mythology, movie Loki is fond of using illusionary copies of himself to distract his enemies and to taunt them. In Thor: The Dark World, he displays the ability to cloak himself or others to look like other people. Thor: Ragnarok reveals that Loki has in fact been capable of Shapeshifting since he was a child and can turn himself or others into animals, although we haven't yet seen this onscreen.
    • Frigga was Loki's instructor in illusion magic. She uses an illusion to visit him during his incarceration, and she conjures a copy of Jane to mislead Malekith.
    • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Mysterio is a sociopathic charlatan using powerful holograms and well-hidden weapons to trick the world into thinking that it is under siege by monsters, and that only he can save the day.
  • The protagonist of Oz the Great and Powerful is a perfect example of this trope.
  • Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions features two of these.
    • The movie's villain Nix can, among various other magic feats, project images into people's minds. He makes them see "flesh with a god's eyes"... as it horribly mutates into undead and alien shapes.
    • Nix's former apprentice Philip Swann uses his powers to become a renowned stage illusionist without revealing to his audience that he is a real sorcerer.
  • In Pretty Cool, Howard uses his mind control powers to make Mitch see sexy illusions of their teacher. And in the sequel, the Genie uses her powers on Howard to make him see various sexy girls.
  • Hook from Push can make any object look like another. He uses this as a Mundane Utility quite often, passing off relatively small amounts of money as large bills, and impressing people with his variation of card tricks. Used extensively in the climax. His illusions aren't permanent though, and the object will shift back to its original form after enough time has passed. Unfortunately, when Division found out he was doing this, his wife inexplicably turned up dead the next day after being involved in a car accident...despite the fact that she doesn't drive.
  • Scanners movies:
    • In Scanners, Kim Obrist briefly causes a security guard to collapse in tears by appearing to be his mother.
    • Scanner Cop II: During the final battle Staziak repeatedly creates a diversion by making Volkin attack an illusory projection of himself, causing Volkin to waste energy trying to kill Staziak.
  • The Shadowplayer in the German Expressionist classic Warning Shadows.
  • Jason Stryker’s power, most of which is expressed in crafting landscapes and scenarios for his victims to wander, though at one point he also creates an illusion of Xavier being able to walk again. Impressively, during the climax of X2: X-Men United, he's able to keep two different illusory scenarios running at the same time. Jason is basically the X-Men movies continuity's version of Mastermind, mentioned above.

  • Cruel Illusions: Magicians specialise in illusion magic, being able to craft perfect illusions that are able to trick whoever is under them into thinking they're real. They're so sophisticated that they can fake a person's age by crafting wrinkles on their face or trap someone in a plane of nightmares.
  • Devils & Thieves: 'Inlusio'' magic makes others experience very realistic illusions. Uncle Flynn used it to make his house look like a wolf-filled forest, and Darek used it to make Crowe see the dead bodies of his loved ones.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Lasciel from is one of these, but mainly just to Harry. When she first came out to play, she had Harry believing she was a bookstore employee, and even decked out an entire run-down tenement to look like comfortable housing to forward the illusion. This made Harry look somewhat delusional to everyone else as he talked to the woman that wasn't there. When Harry calls her on it, she shows how nasty she can get by triggering a curtain of fire, forcing Harry to go running for the fire escape... which doesn't exist, and would've resulted in him falling to his death if he hadn't hesitated.
    • Harry's apprentice, Molly, is also very skilled at illusion. While she's not good at physical magic, veils are second nature of her, and in time, she learns to use the combat applicability of bringing the sound and lights of a rave straight to a battlefield. In Ghost Story, Molly has found numerous ways to use small illusions to get people to fight each other, such as making a dirty cop think that the man bribing him is reaching for a gun.
  • Wizards in Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea universe have this power, and it is the one they rely on most often. They do have Reality Warper powers, by using the Old Speech to change the true names of things, but this is a dangerous power to exercise and so wizards do not use it if they know what's good for them. Because Earthsea wizards' illusion is the "budget version" of reality warping—the objects created by the illusion seem to be real in every way, even though they aren't—it is still quite useful when dealing with most people, and can even be valuable when facing off against people who know better (including both wizards and dragons). However, illusion has its limitations; for instance, a wizard can use illusion to make food and drink appear out of nowhere, and can even eat and drink a feast he has created out of nothing, but it will neither satisfy his hunger nor slake his thirst, because it is just an illusion.
  • In Everworld, the witch Senna Wales started casting psychic illusions at age eight, and only got better at them as she grew older. Even after her power-up upon entering Everworld itself allowed her to use several new types of magic, illusion remained her strongest suit. She is able to make herself appear to be anyone or anything she can picture in her mind, turn invisible, and exclusively exclude certain targets from her trickery, allowing certain people to see her while she is invisible to others. She is also apparently able to spot others using illusion, as another witch tried and failed to fool her with the same tactic in the ninth book.
  • Archimago in The Faerie Queene.
  • The Familiars: Skylar is a heroic example as she can create magical illusions, though she uses other kinds of magic as well.
  • Fighting Fantasy has Illusion Spells in a few books, such as Citadel Of Chaos and the Sorcery! series, which allows the spellcaster to fool opponents into seeing things or trick them that they're being attacked. It's mostly reliable against most non-magic using enemies, unless the spellcaster take actions to ruin the spell himself (like turning into a snake or mouse, and then suddenly attacking his opponent with a sword).
  • In Forging Divinity, Jonan is a proficient illusionist, using the Dominion of Sight to create images or make himself invisible. Using this comes at the cost of his own eyesight.
  • Penny from GONE uses this power mainly to induce horror and for prostitution purposes.
  • Kroniki Drugiego Kręgu has (among others) a mage caste called Illusion Weavers. They create illusions that not only look, but also sound, feel and smell like the real things. A really good Illusion Weaver can draw blood from you with an illusionary shuriken. One character uses this ability to become invisible, among other things.
  • Kull: The Serpent People are capable of casting illusions that make them look human.
  • Mara in Lord of Light. Based on Indian mythology, naturally.
  • A Mage's Power:
    • Averted by Basilard. Despite being a top-tier mage and knowing several illusion spells his skill with them is poor because they're not his speciality. This is why he usually forgoes them in favor of straight up combat.
    • Dengel, Eric's other mentor, advises Eric to become one of these because he doesn't have the sheer power to overcome his enemies.
  • Mars Is Heaven, the classic sci-fi short by Ray Bradbury. An expedition to Mars is surprised to find an Earth village populated by all their deceased relatives, only to realize too late it's a trap designed to lure them outside their rocketship so they can be easily murdered.
  • A Master of Djinn:
    • A djinn called Siwa makes his small home look like a palace using illusion. The illusion djinn in general create utterly realistic illusions, which even fool large groups simultaneously. Reputedly, the most powerful could create whole illusionary cities.
    • Abigail Worthington is also one, using illusion to appear as Al-Jahiz.
  • A Necklace of Fallen Stars: In "A Wizard's Duel", both Lidra and Fordryn use illusions to trick their audience into thinking that genuine harm might befall each other.
  • Peter Riviera in Neuromancer has the ability (enhanced by circuitry replacing a lung) to project the holographic products of his twisted psyche as art, distraction, weapons of terror, and even offensive lasers.
  • Of Fire and Stars: Illusions that are so realistic they can't easily be distinguished from reality can be created with magic, specifically the Affinity for shadow.
  • In A Planet Called Treason, there's a tribe that specializes in this. The only way they can be detected is by moving in a faster relative timeframe (the trait of another tribe). It leads to some squicky revelations in regards to a prior encounter when the protagonists realizes that it wasn't a woman that seduced him.
  • In Royal Chaos, the sequel to comedic fantasy Jason Cosmo, the wedding of a main character turns tragic due to what he immediately recognizes as the intervention of one of these. This leads to going on a quest to discover just which Master of Illusion was responsible (there turn out to be several candidates with equally strong motives) and kill him/her/it (one's a shapeshifter as well), despite that they're clearly just being toyed with whenever the Master bothers to check in to see how they're doing. Pretty much all the uses of illusion mentioned above come into play at some point against the heroes.
  • Jacob Maskelyne, the Wizard, of the Seekers of Truth. When he's really bringing his A game, no one near him can detect anything that he doesn't want them to.
  • Muiren Shae from Shadow Grail has the gift of illusions, part of the School of Air. Another School of Air gift, Shadewalking, is somewhere between this and Invisibility.
  • Shadows on the Moon has a number of them.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows In Zamboula", Baal-pteor uses this to delude Conan into fighting shadows. Kull faces a race of them in "The Shadow Kingdom".
  • The Silmarillion not only contains a rare heroic male example of this trope in Finrod Felagund but also features an illusion-magic duel! Finrod is using an illusion to try and sneak through Sauron's base of Tol-in-Gaurhoth. However, as he fails to report to the orc captain, he is apprehended and brought before Sauron. Sauron realizes that he's not an orc, and so attempts to strip off the illusion. Finrod puts up a good fight, but loses in the end. Of course, neither Finrod nor Sauron use illusion-magic exclusively.
  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruin: Once Malik gets in touch with his magic again after years of denial, he starts using illusion magic to great effect, such as adding illusionary creatures to a story-telling or spooking horses on a rope-bridge with the image of monsters.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The Lando Calrissian Adventures: Rokur Gepta, the last Sorcerer of Tund. For example, he has a You Have Failed Me moment quite a bit like Darth Vader's in Episode V, except that instead of choking his minion to death, he tortures him with images of his worst nightmare (he later subjects Calrissian to a similar treatment). It's eventually revealed that he's a Croke, a species of Always Chaotic Evil arachnids who specialize in this sort of power. The fact that he inherited all the secrets of a powerful Force sect made a bad situation far, far, worse. Turns out one reason the big scary Big Bad Gepta is so hard to battle one-on-one is because in addition to everything else, he isn't there. The real Rokur Gepta is about the size of a mouse and projecting an image of a humanoid foe; no amount of blaster fire can harm an enemy that's several feet below where you're shooting.
    • Multiple Force-users are adept at this power. For example, in I, Jedi Exar Kun uses a similar trick as the one described above to torture Corran Horn with his own fears. Corran himself, like his ancestors, is also proficient with illusions, which almost makes up for them not having telekinesis: as one character cracks, Corran may not be able to move a rock, but he could convince anyone around that it had moved, including probably the rock itself. And how does Corran use it? Sometimes in battle, and sometimes so Tionne can see how she’d look with different hair. All Force-based illusions are based on implanting the images into the target's mind, a more advanced version of the Jedi Mind Trick, rather than producing holograms. This has the advantage that the target's own mind can fill in any details the user doesn't think of (making it less likely that a slip-up on the part of the user will result in the illusion being figured out), but it also means they only work against targets with a biological brain. Thus Force illusions will never trick droids, and any cameras viewing the scene won't pick up the illusion. The latter is less of a weakness than one might think, because Jedi and Sith illusion specialists tend to have astonishing range and can easily ensnare the mind of whoever is watching the video, from kilometers or even light-years away in some cases.
    • Black Fleet Crisis:
      • The Fallanassi are very skilled at illusions, even to the point of hiding an entire temple by creating the façade of its being just ruins. It can also make them invisible by merging with the background. They're even capable of making an entire illusionary fleet appear, which is used to help the New Republic win against the Yevetha.
      • Luke uses the Force to manipulate other people's minds and make himself look like a completely different person. Akanah, one of the aforementioned Fallanassi, disapproves of this as it's affecting them mentally, which is a form of coercion to her (as a pacifist, she condemns that).
  • The Sandman 1989: The kitsune uses magic to make the onmyōji believe she lives in a grand house with dozens of servants. When he comes to, it's in the ruins of an old estate.
  • Stealer of Souls: The story's Big Bad, Mordraneth, is a Grade A Illusion Master whose lair is filled with all sorts of illusion traps, capavle of tricking intruder they're being swarmed by a a rat horde, trapped in burning fire, and even being cornered by a dragon!
  • The Stormlight Archive: Lightweavers and Truthwatchers have access to the Surge of Illumination, which allows them to create illusions; Lightweavers mostly use it for disguise, while the Truthwatchers use it to create holograms to show others what they see. Despite the name, the Surge of Illumination covers all the senses, though novices have trouble with anything beyond sight.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's Thuvia, Maid of Mars, Carthoris and Thuvia witness a battle between auburn-haired, white skinned men, green men, and banths. But when it ends, they see only the bodies of the last two. Shortly thereafter, they learn that the city uses such illusions to protect itself—and are accused of being illusions themselves.
    "They lay in piles," she murmured. "There were thousands of them but a minute ago."
  • Vampire Academy:
    • Lissa exhibits such powers in certain moments. Her first notable feat is making Jesse Zeklos have the illusion of spiders crawling all over him.
    • Lissa along with other spirit users; Adrian and Sonya Karp use illusions to mask the appearances of themselves and their allies. Used in the prison escapes of Victor Dashkov and Rose (on separate occasions), and to infiltrate guardian-protected locations. All for good causes though, they are not villains.
  • In The Witchlands, Glamourwitches can create illusions, both to alter their own appearance and that of their surroundings.
  • Sorceress Iris of the Xanth books had this as her Talent, and is capable of projecting illusions over long distances.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 4400: LaDonna can create realistic illusions with her mind.
  • Farscape has two examples. First, Delvian Pa'us of a high enough level can alter one's perception of reality to the point of completely rewriting their memories. In the episode Rhapsody in Blue, while visiting a Delvian colony, the Pa'u's used this power of illusion to prevent the crew from leaving before their business concluded; one Delvian even convinced Crichton that she was his fiancee who had traveled with him on the Farscape project. A more classically villainous example is Maldis, a recurring character with some very impressive magical powers, among them being the ability to project visions and illusions. Given that he was also an Emotion Eater, he used this particular power to provoke fear and rage from his victims, which he would then feed on.
  • Queen Luna from Fate: The Winx Saga. Her mastery of light magic is so extensive that she is able to use it to literally cast entire illusory scenarios not only from the visual but also from the auditory point of view. Furthermore, her raw power is so enormous that allow her to cast an illusory dome that surrounds and hides the entire area of ​​the ruins of Aster Dell that has persisted for 16 years.
  • Daigo, The Heavenly Illusion Star from Gosei Sentai Dairanger.
  • Heroes:
    • Company agent Candice Willmer, using her power of illusion to impersonate Simone Deveaux (to keep the NYPD from arresting precog Isaac Mendez), Sandra Bennet (as part of a sting to catch HRG betraying the Company), Niki Sanders (to kidnap technopathic kid genius Micah Sanders), and Niki's Superpowered Evil Side Jessica (to keep Niki from taking Micah back). To keep Micah from escaping, she cast an illusion that made every door and hallway lead back to the room he just left. She also created a simulation of a Maui beach inside a rundown shack in the middle of a Central American jungle and tried to seduce Sylar into working for the Company by offering to make all his fantasies come true (assuming said fantasies included a geisha; blonde, athletic twin women, and even himself).
    • Later in Volume Two, we are introduced to Matt Parkman's evil father Maury, who has learned how to use his Telepathy to project illusions into people's minds.
    • Matt Parkman himself! Not only can he create illusions, he can also force them into thinking what he wants is exactly what they want with Mind Control.
  • Jupiter's Legacy: One of Walter's powers is being able to create a totally realistic "psychic painting" which he traps people in mentally. However, it doesn't always work as some (like Blackstar) can break out. Except, not really 'cause that was a ruse and all part of his plan.
  • Logan's Run: In "The Collectors", the Kasorlans use a device called a memory pulse to turn Logan and Jessica's thoughts into reality as part of their plan to capture two human specimens to return to their planet. Almost as soon as Jessica expresses the hope that Sanctuary will be over the next hill, they find it. She later asks after her friend Martin, a Runner who left the City of Domes four years earlier, and he immediately enters the room. Jessica accepts it at face value but Logan is suspicious as everything is exactly how they imagined it would be. The Kasorlans attempt to fool Rem using images of Logan and Jessica but it does not work as his sensory equipment is able to distinguish between reality and illusion.
  • The Fair Folk use this as their primary power in the 1998 Merlin series.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: The Spree are able to take on a different appearance via magic. Reversing this spell requires them to set their fake faces on fire.
  • In an episode of Painkiller Jane the team hunts an enemy that uses illusions to kill people on the Witness Protection Program that were murderers, and is caught by the protagonists with his power apparently neutralized. When they go to check up on him at the internment center, he was "transferred to another facility"... but there was no other facility.
  • Star Trek:
    • The oldest Star Trek example must be the Star Trek: The Original Series pilot, "The Cage". The Talosians, alien inhabitants of planet Talos 4, are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens with psychic powers who use them to cause the illusion so realistic that their victims will believe anything — that they found a camp of crash survivors from many years before, that they are beautiful when they are in fact disfigured, or re-create whole landscapes out of memories of the victim (how the victim moves around such a landscape while in fact he's in a small cage, is left unanswered, but probably the movement is part of the illusion). A Talosian not only manages to convince his victims that there's no hole in the wall (that they just made with a phaser), but also threatens the example from page text: to manipulate Enterprise crew into pressing wrong buttons and driving their ship into a crash.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Devil's Due", a con artist uses holograms, transporters, and tractor beams to try and fool a planet into believing she is their version of the devil, here to collect on a thousand-year-old deal.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • In the episode "Persistence of Vision", an alien tries to capture Voyager by drawing illusions from their subconscious fantasies. (A Negative Space Wedgie does the same thing in "Bliss". The short version is, it's not a Negative Space Wedgie, it's a giant creature's jaws.) Eventually, Janeway captures the alien and threatens to lock him up for the duration of their journey, whereupon he replies "I'd really like to accommodate you, but you see... I'm not really here!" whereupon he vanishes. In "Coda", an alien takes the form of Janeway's father and tries to convince her that she's been killed. The afterlife he's trying to entice her into is actually his realm where "you will nourish me for a long time." It sure looks like hell. And there's the sinister clown in "The Thaw", the creation of the fears of a group of aliens in suspended animation. Unfortunately, he completely dominates their world and can kill them through stress-inducing illusions (like being decapitated by a guillotine) if they attempt to leave.
      • In "Remember", "Memorial", and "Living Witness", the person creating the illusions isn't a villain; they're just trying to inform people about a shameful incident in their own history.
  • Supernatural:
    • The Trickster, especially in his first appearance. Also creates his own illusion of Supernatural's TV shows and traps Sam and Dean inside. This illusion was SO good that The Trickster claimed it was real, which was not a lie, given that he is an Archangel with Reality Warper powers.
    • Also War in Season 5, who manages to dump a whole town into armed conflict using no more than illusionary black demon eyes on people.
  • Taken: The aliens have the ability to read a person's mind and create images from their thoughts, memories and imagination:
    • In "Beyond the Sky", the scientists studying the bodies found at the Roswell crashsite determine that they are capable of perfect mimicry on a cellular level as their cells display whatever properties the scientists think that they might have at any given moment. They receive a more extensive demonstration of this power when one of the seemingly dead aliens turns out to be alive and convinces them that Dr. Goldin is a 13-year-old boy undergoing his Bar Mitzvah.
    • In "Jacob and Jesse", the aliens create an image of the title character of the children's book The Adventures of Artemis P. Fonswick to lure the seven-year-old Jesse onto one of their ships. Five years later in 1958, he sees the same image just before they abduct him once again.
    • In both "High Hopes" and "Maintenance", immediately before he is abducted, Jesse sees an image of the creepy carny that frightened him during a trip to the carnival when he was eight years old. In "Charlie and Lisa", both Jesse's son Charlie and Lisa see the same image as a prelude to abduction.
    • In "Maintenance", the aliens create an image of Jesse from Charlie's memories in order to lure him to Morgan's Junction, Missouri so they can abduct him.
    • In "God's Equation", Allie demonstrates that she possesses the same ability but she uses it for a kinder purpose than abduction. She creates an image of Dale Watson's late son Luke, who was killed in The Gulf War, to let him know that Luke forgave him for the big argument that they had before he shipped out.
    • In "John", Allie disguises herself as General Beers so that she, Charlie and Lisa can escape from the military.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "What Are Friends For?", Jeff Mattingly's Not-So-Imaginary Friend Mike is able to conjure up images of horses and race cars for them to play with. Jeff wonders how this is possible but Mike tells him that he can't tell anyone about it or they won't be able to play together anymore.
  • A number of Ultra Series monsters, but a few had this as their defining trait.
    • Paragon from Return of Ultraman is arguably the greatest illusionist in the Ultra Series. This bizarre kaiju was used by the alien Stora to wreak havoc around Mt. Fuji with all sorts of mirages, including fooling MAT into attacking civilians and each other, causing cars to crash into each other down the highway, and even making itself seem bigger than it already is.
    • Faldon from Ultraman Tiga is capable of creating illusion images of itself to distract Tiga and the Guts defense forces.
    • Galberos, a Cerberus-like kaiju from Ultraman Nexus, performs illusions by hypnotizing targets to create immortal illusions of their greatest fears, make itself seem as if it has turned invisible, and make doubles of itself, among other things.
  • Chuck Norris dealt with one such Indian shaman in an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. The bad guy multiplied himself to confound Walker, but he realised only one of the images is breaking a sweat. It seems to be a relatively common way to defeat illusionist villains.
  • Willow: The Crone is capable of creating highly realistic, pleasing illusions that tempt people to forget everything they face and join her side.
  • A heroic example shows up in the 11th season of The X-Files with Jackson Van De Kamp. He was conceived and born as part of an experiment, and therefore has portions of extraterrestrial DNA in him. His most used force is this, and he especially enjoys creating the illusion of a horror character called Ghouli.

  • Red Panda Adventures:
    • The Red Panda is an accomplished hypnotist. His most frequently used tactic is to project fake mental images of himself to give opponents targets to attack while he is somewhere else entirely. In other instances, he can hypontize enemies into experiencing their greatest fears, or into believing their past victims have come to haunt them. His most extreme action is against villainous hypnotist Nick Diablos, visiting unto him the fate he gave to his victims: being put into a catatonic state during which they experience their deepest horrors.
    • Episode 51, "The Puzzle Master", this is how the villain ensnares his victims in a seemingly endless maze. A driving mystery is how the Puzzle master can even have such a maze without any structures available to house it. The answer is technical equipment that affects the mind in a manner similar to hypnosis, enhanced by more mundane methods of interrogation, allows the Puzzle Master to trick his victims into thinking they're in an endless maze when the actual area is very small and changed as needed, meaning only a small amount of the maze has to exist at any given moment.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has plenty of illusion spells, and Halfling Bards tend to be illusionists. For several editions, the Wizard/Mage class had specialist variations, who specialized in one specific school of magic. Illusionist was one of them, and back in 2E Gnome mages had to be illusionists. And before there were specialist wizards, illusionist was its own class. In all cases, a high-level illusionist was a master of illusion by default. In 5E, Wizards specialized in Illusion spells get Minor Illusion for free (and can make both sounds and images with the same casting), manipulate their illusions on the fly, and even briefly make them tangible and real.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters has the Phantasmal Key, which deals with the hallucinatory and ephemeral aspects of death and the afterlife. When filtered through the various Manifestations, its powers include cloaking oneself in guises so horrific they rend sanity (Caul), causing someone to experience terrible visions (Curse), hitting someone with an illusion so powerful it causes damage (Rage), and causing yourself to look like anyone else (Shroud).
  • Kitsune: Of Foxes and Fools: Illusion spells are powerful Trick cards that double a fox's wits when scheming against a specific type of fool. Like False Riches works best on greedy fools. Of course, other kitsune are immune to illusions.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • This is a standard ability of blue magic. The typical mechanical representation is that the illusory creature you summon is cheaper than usual, but opponents can Shatter The Illusion—if the creature is targeted by some effect, the illusion breaks and the creature dies.
    • This common weakness is negated by "Lord of the Unreal," a wizard that beefs up illusions and makes them impossible to target.
    • Jace Beleren is a prominent user of illusion magic in the storyline and in the Video Game Adaptation Duels of the Planeswalkers. However, this has not appeared on any of his four planeswalker cards so far, a fact that Head Designer Mark Rosewater has publicly regretted.
    • Also, Ixidor's title is "Reality sculptor". He's such a good illusionist, he can will his illusions into reality!
  • Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution:
    • The Push allows you to briefly alter people's perceptions.
    • Masters of psychokinesis can use Mass Push to do this to up to 10 people at once.
  • In Shadowrun, movie studios like to hire mages to handle special effects since it's considerably cheaper than CGI or practical effects when you have a guy who can craft believable illusions on command.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade has the Ravnos clan and their specific Discipline, Chimerstry. Its general levels range from affecting one sense alone to creating illusions so tangible they do damage. When you get into the elder levels, reality gets... strange.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Harlequin Shadowseers are particularly skilled at conjuring up phantom images, sounds, and feelings. During performances, they use this ability to create complex light shows, call up pyrotechnics, and stage miniature stories using illusory puppets and props. In battle, they instead use it conjure up horrifying sights and sow terror and confusion among enemy troops.

  • BIONICLE: Several characters, although they notably all appear to have the same weakness: the illusion vanishes the instant the target stops believing in it.
    • The entire species of Makuta have this ability inherently.
    • Toa of Psionics, by default, though they're fairly rare.
    • Anyone using a Mask of Illusion.
    • The Bahrag Twins.
    • The Gate Guardian looks like a fairly small Rahi, but what a person is seeing is actually a projection by the real Gate Guardian, which is about five times bigger and invisible. The illusion also copies the movements of the real one, so if it suddenly kicks out like it's knocking a pebble out of the way, that's all the warning you're going to get before the real leg smashes into you like a car. Unlike the above examples, just knowing it's not real isn't enough without somehow revealing the true Gate Guardian.

    Video Games 
  • Anyone holding one of the Pieces of Eden becomes one of these in the Assassin's Creed franchise. This is used as an explanation for many seemingly impossible or unlikely events in history, including Jesus's miracles. You can even do some of it in the games, such as Altaïr using an Apple of Eden to defeat an entire army by causing them to think an army of assassins is striking them down.
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010): The Hatter's special ability.
  • Zonda from Azure Striker Gunvolt has this power. It manifests as the ability to create portals that move you or the enemies, and at one point flips the entire stage upside-down (which also means you have to press up twice rapidly instead of down to reload). It also lets her creates copies of herself for combat and deception, fire lasers, create copies of others, even the dead, whose personalities are identical...and that's before she upgrades to the point she can make her illusions true reality.
  • Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear has Glint, who is a priest of Baravar Cloakshadow, the gnomish god of illusion. He's on the heroic side of this trope, because Baravar is a strictly good-aligned god of protective illusion and concealment, not villainous deception.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Scarecrow uses hallucinogenic gas on Batman to play with his mind. Since this is a video game, this causes Batman to enter a Mental World populated by skeleton enemies where Scarecrow is fifty feet tall. If you lose in combat during these levels, Batman goes insane. (And when you defeat the giant Scarecrow in the final one, Batman breaks through the illusion and beats Scarecrow senseless).
    • In Batman: Arkham City, drugs are used to similar effect. In the ritualized fight against Ra's al Ghul Batman uses his cape and grapple gun to fly through air courses and then does battle with ninja sand clones and a giant spell-slinging sand ninja. When Batman is abducted by The Hatter he fights rabbits on a giant watch in an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield.
  • In City of Heroes, Illusion Control is a powerset for heroic Controllers.
  • Illusions in Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars are simply copies of units that deal proportionally less damage than its original, take much more damage, and can't use active skills. While sometimes they can come in handy for tricking the enemy into thinking it's you, they are more often used by carries to multiply their damage output. Chaos Knight, Terrorblade, and Naga Siren are carries that use illusions of themselves to deal damage and have skills that synergize with illusions well, and any hero can have two copies of themselves by using a Manta Style or picking up a Rune of Illusion. But the true king of illusions is Phantom Lancer. Not only do all but one skill create illusions of himself, his illusions can create illusions. With as much as 14 Phantom Lancers on the map, things can get hectic when you're facing an army of him. Properly decked out, Phantom Lancer players will be surprised that they killed someone without knowing simply because they left a stray illusion on the map.
  • In Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey, Genie Bogs' mirages shatter trust in Jasmine's world.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Hargon from Dragon Quest II. A good deal of the game is spent just trying to find a way to break through his illusions.
    • Dragon Quest V: Queen Ferz can cast illusions to disguise her true identity.
  • This is the theme of the jester-like Illusionist class in Eden Eternal. Blending this sort of illusion with both stage and true magic. Though not much of it is seen in actual gameplay.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • Stanislaus Braun ensnares the main character in his virtual world as part of the story of Fallout 3.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth has the power create illusions to mess with his enemies, he is able to recreate the entire burned Nibelheim to taunt Cloud about the truth of their mission there in the past.
  • The Mesmer class of Guild Wars boils this trope down into a spellcaster profession, with illusion (in addition to domination and inspiration) magic as one of their primary attributes. This applies even more to the Mesmer in Guild Wars 2, where they are able to conjure up a small army of illusory doubles of themselves and can are also capable of rendering themselves and their allies invisible.
  • Circe from Heroes of Newerth specializes in illusions and plays this trope straight by craftily utilizing them to trick her enemies. She has the ability to create an illusion of any hero, which means not only can you create several illusions of your team's carry to multiply its damage output, you can recreate your own team and maybe trick the enemy team into wasting their skills on them. Another skill discretely turns herself invisible and leave a copy of her illusion to distract her foes while she makes an escape. Silhouette also deserves a mention, as her ultimate creates an almost perfect illusion of herself. While normally illusions are proportionally weaker than its original, her illusion is unusually powerful and at max level, it actually takes and deals normal damage. She can also swap positions with her illusion, which is great for avoiding damage should the enemy team try and kill her.
  • Kingdom Hearts: The page quote comes from Zexion, one of the members of Organization XIII. Illusions are pretty much the only things he uses with the heroes, and he doesn't even fight Riku in the original Chain of Memories. But that doesn't make him a pushover. Final Mix + and Re: Chain of Memories show just how far the Cloaked Schemer can implement his powers: cloning himself and his weapons, copying attacks, blocking/stealing combat abilities, pocket dimensions where he traps his foes…give the guy an inch, and he'll obliterate you.
  • Downplayed, but still deserving of mention, is Leblanc ("The Deceiver") from League of Legends. Her ultimate ability lets her either create a physical copy of herself at her own location that uses an attack, then runs in the opposite direction from the real Leblanc and vanishes after a few seconds, or create an illusory copy anywhere on the map that runs toward the nearest enemy, uses a fake attack, and then vanishes. Both copies are indistinguishable from the real Leblanc and can be used to trick enemies into wasting their abilities, chasing the wrong one, or running away from a fight thinking they are about to be outnumbered. She can also fake out enemies by blinking to a position she was a few seconds ago. Her illusion abilities are more extensive in her lore, where she influences a major political event by impersonating a king.
    • Similarly, Shaco is based around tricking enemies with cloaking and a controllable copy of himself.
  • Emperor Ladantine of Lusternia was a Master of Illusion and a Dream Weaver, making him an adept spy and very dangerous after his Face–Heel Turn. He managed to hide the fact he had become a lich through illusion - though he slipped up at least once, when it was noticed he was not affected by the extreme heat of the Plane of Vortex, cluing the good guys in as to his real nature.
  • Laughing Octopus in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is arguably this. She's able to hide herself as nearly anything or anyone within the small medical clinic you fight her in, sometimes turning invisible, pretending to be your Robot Buddy, cloaking herself with inky mist, sometimes even just playing dead as one of her subordinate soldiers. While all this is going on, an extremely disturbing soundtrack laced with dissonant laughter plays. Laughing Octopus also effectively has access to the powers of Doctor Octopus, too, due to the four large mechanical tentacles attached to her.
  • Ying from Paladins conjures illusions of herself that heal allies and explode on command. She can also trade places with any illusion on a whim to avoid attacks.
  • Izanami, the Big Bad of Persona 4. Fitting, as the game's central theme is about finding the truth.
  • Pokémon Black and White introduces Zoroark and its pre-evolution Zorua, who come with the ability Illusion. In the games, the disguise is dependent on the Pokémon positioned last in the player's party. However, the illusion is broken whenever the user takes direct damage from another Pokémon's offensive move.
  • Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy has Wei Lu, who is capable of hiding a large building from sight, even while battling the main character.
  • In Resident Evil Village, Lady Beneviento is the only Lord of the Four Houses that doesn't directly fight Ethan. Instead, it's implied that she uses hallucinogenic plants to cause Ethan to experience horrifying visions that not only cause him to lose all of his gear but force him into encounters with both a baby-like monster as well as having to hunt down her Creepy Doll in what amounts to hide-and-seek with a time limit.
  • Mother Maya from Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is so goddamn powerful, her illusions can warp entire dimensions.
  • Star Wars:
  • The Spy in Team Fortress 2 can disguise as one of the enemy's team in order to backstab them, or as a different class of his own team in order to cause confusion and misleading.
  • Touhou Project:
    • Reisen Udongein Inaba has the ability to refract and twist light and other waves, both disorienting and confusing her enemies with illusions and inducing insanity.
    • Nue Houjuu has a variation on this power: she can disguise the true shape of things. Including herself, so no one has ever seen her true form, and she has appeared different to everyone who's ever seen her.

    Visual Novels 
  • Illusion is one of Razi's specialties in Havenfall Is for Lovers. Since he's one of the good guys, he largely uses it to help maintain the Masquerade (for instance, to prevent people from noticing the supernatural brawl going on in the middle of the day early in his first season), or to confuse enemies during a fight (such as making a mook's weapon "disappear"). He's capable of much more complicated illusions, however - at the extreme end, he shows himself able to trap someone in a Lotus-Eater Machine which is very difficult to break out of even once the person stuck in it realizes it's an illusion.
  • In Sable's Grimoire: Man and Elf, Meave the dark elf is a master of mind-manipulation magic. She uses this magic to disguise herself and her son as other people, and to make Lisha and Sable (who are actually unconscious) believe that she’s trapped them in an inescapable magic-nullifying prison.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Neo has the ability "Overactive Imagination", which allow her to create physical illusions that shatter like glass on contact, in addition to disguising the appearence of herself and other objects (up to and including things as large as an airship). She's skilled enough with the power that she's able to fight Cinder using her illusions as makeshift clones.
    • Emerald has the straightforwardly titled "Hallucinations". Unlike Neo's ability, her illusions can only affect the person she is focusing on, though she can affect a small group of people at once if she really pushes herself. However, she can make her target see and hear whatever she wants, including making people entirely invisible or look like they're attacking when they're not, though she has to be aware of every little thing she's making them see. An ambush gets ruined because Emerald accidentally let their target see the dust from her footsteps, even though Emerald herself was invisible.

  • Captus Cinematic Universe: Usion can create incredibly realistic illusions at great scales.
  • Dominic Deegan: Miranda Deegan is an excellent user of illusion magic, even able to fool her son Dominic's powers of second sight at times. Her father was noted as specializing in this type of magic, implying she learned it from him. Luna also displays some talent with it and picked up a few tricks from Miranda later on.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the Demonic Duck (being a professional distraction) is also a self-proclaimed master of illusion.
    Justin: That couldn't have been an illusion! She tickled me!
    Duck: What part of "master" are you failing to understand?
  • Erfworld: Jack Snipe, as are all Foolamancers, though Jack is noted to be particularly good even by his caster class's standards. His abilities go far beyond simple tricks of the light- Jack can cloak entire armies and cities at a time, project illusions of every sense except touch (yes, that includes taste), and at one point enables a blinded Jillian to "see" by broadcasting an illusion of his own perception into her head. He's almost-singlehandedly the reason why Faq managed to remain an unknown kingdom for as long as it did.
  • Fata Morgana in Flipside, so well that she can trick spells with her illusions.
  • In Girl Genius, Master Payne's Spark manifests itself as illusions and magic tricks, with his wife's Spark making potions that incorporate this trope at times. It might not seem like much compared to the rest of the mad science going on, but it's enough to fool an entire army.
    Marie: A wonderfully hallucinogenic gas. It makes the subject very suggestible. We simply spread it around and shouted "The Heterodynes are here!" It was easy.
    Yeti: They see what we tell them they see.
    Marie: I'm rather proud of it.
  • Mort from Gunnerkrigg Court just uses his powers to scare people (and he isn't even very good at it). Martin seemed to have similar powers, though he was using them unconsciously—and fooling himself as well.
  • Magick Chicks: During her first combat exam, Jacqui surprised everyone by casting multiple illusions at once without anyone suspecting anything was amiss. She goaded Chastity into KO'ing herself, by using one illusion to disguise herself as Sandi, while using another spell to make a tree appear to her.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Girard Draketooth is/was a master illusionist. Notably, he rigged his dungeon with a spell that traps people in a Lotus-Eater Machine.
    • The party's Spoony Bard, Elan, mostly casts illusion spells. In the early comics he could only think of using them to cast female versions of enemies to distract them, which even he eventually noticed never worked. But later he learned how to disguise himself, lead enemies away with decoys, and fake summoning spells.
    • Roy's father was an Illusionist, and even as a ghost he can pose as a big, scary Celestial with a giant flaming sword.
  • In Skin Horse, GODOT can remotely hack people's language processing centers, making imaginary writing appear on blank walls or, terrifying, in place of real writing. He causes a number of disasters by causing people to read signs or instructions wrong.
  • The Water Phoenix King:
    • Vish, an angel of the Trickster Goddess, at the end of Book 4, in order to prevent Kawunei from killing his escaped slave to protect his reputation. He promises to teach the art to Anthem after revealing the truth.
    • The dubious sorcerer-adventurer Vax regularly employs illusions as a way of evening the odds in melees, using charms and talismans as the magical equivalent of Snakes-In-A-Can [1].
  • Suiting to his nature as a Manipulative Bastard, Yang Jeonghak from Gosu is able to cast remarkably realistic and horrifying illusions upon even powerful opponents. This is most notable when he made Gha Woobok believe his arm had been torn off.
    • Song Yerin is also a surprisingly (or not) powerful illusionist, casting her illusions in a manner very reminiscent of the Sharingan.

    Web Original 
  • Shayma from Blue Core is increasingly becoming one of these as she settles into her Trickster class.
  • Cadence Morello, one of the six main characters in Six Chances, has the ability to transmute illusions via touch. Her abilities range from making her appear as if she is a different person to changing a cigarette into a flower. She often uses it for less heroic purposes. The web novel can be read here [2].
  • Confundus of the Whateley Universe loves to do the illusion bit, but has other powers she can call on (but only one at a time: she's a Package Deal Psychic). Then there are Beltane and Thorn, who are both masters of illusion because they're tricksters: they both manipulate ectoplasm.
  • Nyx from the web serial Worm can create ultra-realistic illusions that are somehow made of poison gas.

    Western Animation 
  • Happens in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Captain America is placed under an illusion and believes he is reliving his past. He even gets to save Bucky. Ironically, it's the illusion of Bucky that solemnly convinces the Captain to wake up and tells him that he knows this isn't how it actually happened. Captain America thanks Bucky for saving him again before taking his advice.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers:
    • Zarm, a shape-shifting evil spirit.
    • Gaia, the good spirit can do this as well. Her spirit appearance can be summoned by Ma-Ti's Heart Ring, or she can appear to tell Planeteers they had an eco-crisis cooking up.
    • The Heart ring has an element of telepathy. If not for the fact that it's not that kind of show, there's no reason Ma-Ti couldn't make the villains think a cliff was flat ground and make the enemy a rather icky mess a thousand feet below.
  • The fairy Puck in Gargoyles, borrowed from the character in A Midsummer Night's Dream, can work incredibly detailed illusions ... as well as genuine transformations (and of course, he'll never say which is which).
  • Another good Master of Illusion: On Jem, Synergy's output are life-like holograms.
  • The teenage Guardian, Scooter, from The Gobots, uses his holograms to help the Guardians trick the Renegades.
  • Static Shock:
    • The West African hero Anansi the Spider has the power of storytelling, granted to him by the sky god Nyame; this tends to manifest itself as the ability to project illusions. He can also walk on walls for some reason too, although that could just be another illusion!
    • Another, slightly more villainous example: Mirage, Boom's kid sister, also has the power to create illusions. Unlike Anansi, she received her powers from the Big Bang that gave all of the other show's metahumans their superpowers. Slightly villainous because her heart's not in it at all, and there's something Woobieish about the way she always holds her arms across her chest as if she were cold.
  • Heroic example: Action Mom Helen Bennet/Mother-1 from Bionic Six.
  • The Psycho Pirate, as portrayed in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. He traps Batman and the Outsiders in a Your Mind Makes It Real simulation so he can feed off their negative emotions. What takes it to Master of Illusion level is when Batman exits the simulator and sees Psy Pi off-handedly kill the Outsiders, and flips out. Turns out Bats is still inside the sim, and the apparent deaths were an illusion to trick him into powering Psy Pi with his rage.
  • In Defenders of the Earth, Mandrake the Magician is actually called this during the Theme Tune Roll Call.
    "Master of magic, spells and illusion, Enemies crumble in fear and confusion! Mandrake!"
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, the Fox Miraculous's special power is "Mirage", which allows the user to craft elaborate, convincing illusions. The villain Volpina, an Evil Knockoff of the Fox Miraculous holders, has similar powers.
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends: Somnambula's powers focus on creating extensive and very lifelike illusions. As her power increases, she eventually becomes able to make her illusions into physical reality.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: She hasn't used it much, but Rarity has this is one of her magical abilities, as shown in "Suited For Success" when she used it to provide special effects for her second fashion show. Pretty much everypony's entrance involved completely changing the stage into some fantastic location, all done by Rarity's magic. Zecora also uses illusions to spice up her telling of the story of Nightmare Night.
  • Gus from The Owl House is an immensely skilled student of the illusion track. While he usually uses it for cheap parlor tricks, at his full power he becomes outright terrifying. In the climax of "Through the Looking Glass Ruins", he lures a pair of henchmen away with simple tricks based on what he knows of them, before taking down the episode's villain by making the statues of the area slowly turn towards her while weeping blood, make it seem like her magic doesn't work before turning her hands to stone, and finally make her confront a petrified and blood-weeping version of herself. She runs away screaming. And in "Labyrinth Runners" when the head of the Illusion Coven tries to seal away his powers, his fear causes him to create an illusion that covers most of the school.
  • The Impostors from The Secret Show use holograms to shapeshift into anything and anyone they want.
  • The Cloaked Skull from Teamo Supremo.
  • Mad Mod in Teen Titans (2003) is a tech-based master of illusion, controlling holographic emitters by use of his cane.
  • Speaking of bots, Transformers: Generation 1 had Hound as their illusion master—but Megatron saw through Hound's fake rocket base.
  • Darcy from Winx Club uses this as well as her psychic powers to manipulate people for her own purposes. Mirta also uses illusions, though Darcy can see right through them.

    Real Life 
  • There's a reason magicians are sometimes called "illusionists".
  • Pretty much any animal that employs camouflage or mimicry to protect themselves from predators (or drive them away, in some cases) qualifies, but the reigning champion of natural world masters of illusion are the cephalopods (octopi, squids, cuttlefish, etc.). Not only can they change color to match their surroundings, but their skin texture as well. The mimic octopus, in particular, is a good example.


Zexion, "The Cloaked Schemer"

Each member of Organization XIII wields power over a specific element (be it classical or esoteric). Zexion wields the power of illusions.

How well does it match the trope?

4.4 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / MasterOfIllusion

Media sources: