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Mind-Control Conspiracy

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Life sucks sometimes, doesn't it? You got fired from your job, your girlfriend broke up with you, and you're about to be evicted. Things have really taken a downward turn. But don't worry! It certainly isn't your fault.

See, there's these people. Bad people. They don't like you. They don't like much of anyone. And they oppress you. They have satellites that can beam pictures into your head, that's why you kept seeing all that stuff, lost concentration at work. They plant radios in your teeth so that you think you're Hearing Voices. They shoot these weird rays into your brain so that you have those... urges... it's not you. It's them. It's all their fault. They're the ones doing this to you! It's all them. All them, all them, all them, all

What, you don't believe me? Well, you have to. Because otherwise, it would be you. It'd be all your fault. And that can't be right.

That's crazy.

After all, It's not my fault you're hearing voices in your head now, is it? Maybe you should try wearing a Tinfoil Hat to make them go away.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: The memories of the entire population seem to have been altered when humanity entered the Walls, removing all knowledge of the world outside the Walls. When Erwin's father theorized this to be the case, and Erwin let slip his father's theories in public, the 1st Squad murdered him. It's eventually revealed that King Karl Fritz removed the Eldians' memories of the world around them via the power of the Founding Titan after moving them to Paradis Island and raising the Walls, intending for them to live in peace after the Great Titan War that ended the Eldian Empire, and the Royal Government kept the existence of the outside world and the other humans in it a fiercely guarded secret ever since.

    Fan Works 
  • Equestria: A History Revealed: The Lemony Narrator seems to think that a lot of Equestria falls under this, and sees Celestia as the Diabolical Mastermind, even when things clearly point against that. That doesn't stop her from believing it though, and creating her own theories through copious amounts of Insane Troll Logic. In a more literal example, she states that as a failsafe, Celestia had placed a subconscious mind control spell on all of the mane six to control them if they get out of hand — and that's just one of the many mind control examples she believes Celestia supposedly utilizes.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • They Cloned Tyrone: The entire Glen is being used as the testing ground for mind controlling products aimed at the Black community, with select individual clones like Fontaine and Slick Charles used to spread violence and drugs to keep people from investigating.

  • Richard Matheson's story "Legion of Plotters" takes this to its logical — and tragic — conclusion.
  • In The Manchurian Candidate, Communist brainwashers turn an American soldier into an assassin through some sort of mind-controlling hypnosis.
  • Night Chills by Dean Koontz has a small town being used as a testbed for such a conspiracy, the control agent spread by a combination of Water Source Tampering and Subliminal Seduction.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Chief Bromden's belief in the Combine. Then, at the end of the book, just before McMurphy tries to strangle Nurse Ratched, Chief Bromden has a terrifying moment of clarity and realizes the true Mind-Control Conspiracy:
    First I had a quick thought to try to stop him, talk him into taking what he'd already won and let her have the last round, but another, bigger thought wiped the first thought away completely. I suddenly realized with a crystal certainty that neither I nor any of the half-score of us could stop him. That Harding's arguing or my grabbing him from behind, or old Colonel Matterson's teaching or Scanlon's griping, or all of us together couldn't rise up and stop him.
    We couldn't stop him because we were the ones making him do it.
    It wasn't the nurse that was forcing him, it was our need that was making him push himself slowly up from sitting, his big hands driving down on the leather chair arms, pushing him up, rising and standing like one of those moving-picture zombies, obeying orders beamed at him from forty masters. It was us that had been making him go on for weeks, keeping him standing long after his feet and legs had given out, weeks of making him wink and grin and laugh and go on with his act long after his humor had been parched dry between two electrodes.
    We made him stand and hitch up his black shorts like they were horsehide chaps, and push back his cap with one finger like it was a ten-gallon Stetson, slow, mechanical gestures — and when he walked across the floor you could hear the iron in his bare heels ring sparks out of the tile.
  • VALIS's Horselover Fat is a victim of the three-eyed Soviet space aliens' orbital mind control lasers. Said lasers are pink.
  • In Iain Banks' novel Walking on Glass, Steven Grout believes that he is being influenced by orbital mind control lasers.
  • Welcome to the NHK: Sato and his senpai blame all of the troubles in their lives on conspiracy theories. Sato even believes the titular NHK is actually an organization that exists only to turn civilians into hikikomori like himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one Starsky & Hutch episode, a Serial Killer turns out to be a seriously deranged man who believes he's being mind-controlled. He wears tinfoil under his clothes to shield himself from radio waves, and his house has tinfoil wallpaper.
  • The X-Files:
    • The appliances in "Blood" command normal citizens to kill by catching them when their intense phobias are exploited. As in "Anasazi" below, an LSD derivative is used to incite the behavior.
    • Mulder's water is spiked with LSD in "Anasazi" in order to elicit violent behavior.
    • In "Wetwired", televisions send subliminal messages through red/green wavelengths, again eliciting violent, homicidal behavior. Scully almost succumbs, nearly shooting Mulder in the process. Mulder is unaffected, as it is revealed that he is red/green colorblind.
    • In the Lone Gunmen origin-story episode, Suzanne Modeski finds a tracking device the Conspiracy has put in her tooth which she removes with pliers, somehow managing to avoid passing out from the pain.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Illuminati, the Orbital Mind Control Lasers are very valuable minions for any Ancient Conspiracy.
  • In Paranoia, this is one of the Anti-Mutant secret society's many fears. This being Paranoia, it's a mix of truth and hair-trigger delusion.

    Video Games 
  • Call To Power gives you the option of doing this to your citizens if you're so inclined.
  • Stellaris has orbital mind-control lasers as an actual spaceport component available to authoritarian empires.
  • Syndicate: You (Eurocorp) and all the other Syndicates are trying to Take Over the World through this and Cyborg-manned force. Civilians all have a chip in their heads that does all the functions of a phone or computer, and makes the world look far more pleasant. In Syndicate Wars, Eurocorp has been maintaining the mind control conspiracy for years.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • There are plenty of people out there who think they're being influenced by Orbital Mind Control Lasers or that the CIA has implanted radio receivers in their molars. Seriously.
  • Aileen Wuornos was quite a firm believer that the prison was beaming signals into her head to stop her from revealing the big conspiracy, that the police knew she was going to be a serial killer and were just trying to earn money through movie deals. Yes, she was insane.
  • One disturbed person sued the State of New Jersey for this, in Searight v. New Jersey, 412 F.Supp. 413 (D.N.J. 1976). The complaint was dismissed mainly on grounds of jurisdiction, but the court's opinion noted, even if the facts were as pleaded, "Searight might have pinned to the back of a trouser leg a short chain of paper clips so that the end would touch the ground and prevent anyone from talking to him inside his brain." Not quite a Tinfoil Hat, but close.
  • Possibly the first example: an Englishman named James Tilly Matthews was imprisoned in Bedlam hospital in 1797 and began to claim that a gang of "pneumatic chemists" were using an "air-loom" to control his mind and keep him locked up.
  • An honest and sincere belief that there is a massive global conspiracy of some sort targeted specifically at the sufferer is one of the defining symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, along with a general disconnection from reality, selective memory to the extent that the sufferer will have memories of things that never happened, and often extremely powerful visual and auditory hallucinations (voices in your head, visions of things that never happened, etc). This can be an utterly horrifying experience for both the sufferer and their loved ones who will often be accused of being in on it, whatever it is.
  • The believers in "chem-trails" think that anywhere from some to all contrails from jet aircraft are actually chemicals designed for anything from mind control to biological agents designed to reduce anything from sex drive/population to resistance to fascism/tyranny.
  • After seemingly collapsing into paranoid schizophrenianote  during disbarment hearings, Francis E. Dec came to believe that a "Worldwide Mad Deadly Communist Gangster Computer God" was, among other things, directing its minions to replace people's brains with "Master Race Frankenstein Radio Controls" that would receive a "Constant Threshold Brain Wash Radio" signal to reduce the world to a state of "World-Wide Living Death Frankenstein Slavery".