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Mind Game Ship

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"I never could tell if you wanted to win or if you wanted me."

There's this one person. They're not very nice, although they're probably very polite, and they can be very charming... in their own way. The thing is, they like playing with your mind a lot. They like pushing your buttons for kicks, and playing you like a puppet in some kind of elaborate game.

For some reason, they've got a special interest in playing someone in particular. Maybe that someone is especially pure and innocent, at the start, in which case they can expect their personality to be broken or at least corrupted. Maybe that someone is seen by the Manipulative Bastard as a Worthy Opponent and even a potential player themselves, in which case there will soon be Gambit Pileup in the future. The Svengali will tend to have this kind of relationship to their protégé(s).

In any case, for some people in the audience, all those mind games are kind of sexy. Could be the result of a too literal interpretation of the expression "Mind Screw" or could be the fact that getting to know someone well enough to play with their mind that way is kind of... intimate. And an excellent fodder for Dark Fics.

Usually a subtrope of Foe Yay Shipping. Not to be confused with the Mind Screw (where it's the author who screws with the minds of the audience). Not related to Mind Game the movie. See also Angel/Devil Shipping and Driven to Madness.

Canonical Mind Game relationships:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Griffith is implied to have an infatuation with Guts in Berserk. Canonically he tries to kill Guts when he tries to leave him, thinks of him when having sex with Princess Charlotte as a sort of rebound, and feels overwhelming hatred towards Guts in addition to love afterwards because he was tortured for having sex with Charlotte and he believes it’s Guts fault. Following that he proceeds to rape Casca while having Guts pinned down and stares at him with a cold but psychotic gaze the whole time; wanting to make him feel just as much anguish as he did when Guts left him and the events following that. Guts himself is obsessed with killing Griffith following his betrayal of him and the Band of the Hawks.
  • Seishirou/Subaru from Tokyo Babylon and X/1999 are a very iconic and canonical example of this trope. In X, Fuuma also invokes this trope with Kamui.
  • Somewhat benign case, but entirely canon, Hayate the Combat Butler Miki has a stated crush on Hinagiku, and she's shown that she plays a lot of mind games on her. It's even on her profile as one of the things she likes. Luckily for the harem, it seems that she's using these powers to push Hayate and Hinagiku together.
  • Akio and Touga in Revolutionary Girl Utena. With each other, and with both boys and girls alike. Particularly disturbing is Akio/Anthy and Touga/Nanami.
  • From D.N.Angel, Krad/Satoshi. Whenever we see the two together alone, it's generally Krad cuddling Satoshi from behind, or declaring that "You are my everything, Satoshi-sama". Would be incredibly sweet if not for the fact that Krad is also a homicidal blonde angel, who only really wants Satoshi for his body.
  • Naoe/Takaya in Mirage of Blaze. They both have been known to give as good as they get.
  • This is the plot of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War in a nutshell. Kaguya and Shirogane spend their time messing with each other in hopes of forcing a Love Confession because they're too prideful to give one themselves.
  • Peacemaker Kurogane: Later on, after Suzu goes insane, his love/hate towards Tetsunosuke makes their relationship prime Mind Game Ship fuel.
  • Shigure/Akito in Fruits Basket, which is canon in the manga and second anime.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Villain Protagonist William James Moriarty likes toying with Sherlock Holmes, leaving him puzzles to solve, and playing him as a puppet in his grand plan to save London. Sherlock likes being toyed with and left puzzles, although he'd prefer to get the upper hand. And the fandom likes to ship it.

    Comic Books 
  • The Joker and Batman. There's an awful lot of Joker/Batman shippers out there who think the comic version fits this trope. Especially since in the comics, The Joker just loves to play around with Foe Romance Subtext so the fans don't have to. Although when they do so in fanworks, they still have a lot of canon subtext to work with.
    • To a lesser degree, Joker/Harley Quinn, although given that their relationship has pretty much always been depicted as a physically and emotionally abusive one even in canon, there's a good bit less support for it than Joker/Batman. Even Harley has internalized this and moved on in the comics.
  • Green Lantern: Sinestro/Hal Jordan has this feel, although Sinestro can be very calculated and his actions are generally rational. It definitely has an element of mind games to it with how they move around each other, and they have a very long history with each other. Sinestro always seems to know what to say to get to Hal's head, both in canon as well as in fandom.
  • That's The Flash and Reverse-Flash to a T. Both versions really, though more so the Barry/Eobard dynamic - Eobard has been obsessed with Barry since before he even met him.

    Film — Animation 
  • Frollo of The Hunchback of Notre Dame has a disturbing infatuation with Esmeralda where he gets close to her, gropes her, smells her hair and gives her a Sadistic Choice of "choose me or the fire". (She must either choose to become his and be freed or he will burn her to death.)
  • Gaston's plan to woo and marry Belle in Beauty and the Beast is a literary fig leaf metaphor for rape and lust: he views his pursuit of her as a game with her as a prize, and he wants to break her will.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin: It's there in the movie (between Kevin and his mother Eva) and uncomfortably blatant in the novel. Kevin is rather worryingly obsessed with Eva, only showing his true nature to her, harassing her, and even masturbating in front of her while giving her the Kubrick Stare the entire time. For bonus Child Supplants Parent points, he also despises his father and seems to resent his sister Celia because Eva likes her better. She's also the only member of the family he leaves alive. Eva, for her part, isn't into her son (probably) but does compare their relationship to a toxic marriage or sexual relationship a number of times.
  • Sayer and Mary in Femina Ridens (The Laughing Woman). A philantropist Sayer kidnaps and imprisons a young journalist Mary, whose views regarding manhood insulted him. Sayer subjects her to various tortures and mind games (often sexualised) while Mary tries to survive, escape and dissuade him from doing it. Or is it really that simple?

  • Rhett/Scarlett from Gone with the Wind comes across as this at times; Rhett is definitely manipulating her and toys with her emotions. Subverted in that she causes him significantly more angst than he does her, despite hardly manipulating him consciously at all.
  • Every single relationship depicted in Dangerous Liaisons is one of these. The two main players Valmont and Merteuil each see the other as a Worthy Opponent and the mind games they play with one other are their preferred means of expressing Belligerent Sexual Tension. Their relationships with the hapless innocents they seduce along the way, on the other hand, are squarely in the realm of Corrupt the Cutie.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Littlefinger/Sansa is a one-directional example. The trope is in full effect, given that Littlefinger is a Magnificent Bastardso much so that he's prominent in his status as one even in a series that's chock full of them by normal standards—and that he seems to be trying to Corrupt the Cutie.
  • In the novel Hannibal Hannibal Lecter hypnotizes and brainwashes Clarice Starling, though there is some implication she has in part turned the tables on him and he's created a monster he can't control. Specifically, when Hannibal springs his notion of Clarice "making a place" for his dead younger sister Mischa, Clarice not only suggests perhaps it's Hannibal who should "step aside" for Mischa, she ultimately turns his own Break Them by Talking on him, including a Freudian analysis of a comment he made to Senator Martin back in The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey: Canon in the Christian/Ana relationship. Their relationship is BSDM gone wrong, with Christian being very controlling and gaslighting Ana. It’s gone into in depth here.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The entire second season of Gossip Girl saw Chuck and Blair competing over who could invoke this trope the most. Deconstructed, when Chuck points out how the real reason they can't be together is that the entire foundation of their relationship is built on screwing each other over—with normal dating, that would just crumble.
    Chuck: I think we both know that the moment we do [say we love each other], it won't be the start of something: It will be the end. Think about it. Chuck and Blair, going to the movies. Chuck and Blair, holding hands.
    Blair: We don't have to do those things. We can do the things that we like.
    Chuck: What we like is this.
    Blair: The game.
    Chuck: Without it, I'm not sure how long we'd last.
  • Hannibal is based around the back and forth between manipulative Serial Killer Hannibal Lecter and unstable FBI Profiler Will Graham. Hannibal's interest in Will becomes more of that of a Stalker with a Crush and inspires him to drive Will towards Sanity Slippage. As the series progresses, other characters start to comment on Hannibal and Will's obsessions with one another, with one even confirming that Hannibal loves Will and implying Will feels the same. The end of the series confirms that Will returns Hannibal's feelings, right before he throws them both off a cliff (although Word of God is that they survived and had the series continued, would've been on the run together).
  • In Luther, the actress who plays Serial Killer Alice compared the relationship between Alice and Anti-Hero Luther to that of Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs with the genders reversed and all the sexual tension that goes with it.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Alex and Piper are described by reviewers as being in an epic, if psychotic, love affair. Initially, Alex manipulates Piper into joining an international drug ring after beginning a relationship with her, naming Piper in her indictment and lying about it, and ultimately cutting a separate deal with the prosecutor for release for her testimony after convincing Piper to lie under oath. The last one burns back though, as Alex's testimony is not enough to convict the ringleader, and she is forced to live in fear of retribution. Piper then betrays her back, revealing her plan to skip parole and gets Alex arrested again. There's also season 3 which includes a scene where Piper mocks Alex in a cruel Kick the Dog moment for being fearful for her life and she seems insistent on making Alex mad so that they can engage in "hate sex". Their relationship becomes more stable and healthy as the series goes on.
  • Scholar Who Walks the Night: Gwi/Hye Ryung. "Messed-up" doesn't begin to describe their relationship (she serves him only because her father made a deal with him, and he threatens and manipulates her). But Gwi appears to genuinely regret killing Hye Ryung, even telling her corpse that he wanted to keep her by his side for thousands of years. Though he also says he wanted to make her hate him, so it's open to interpretation if he had any real feelings for her or if he just enjoyed making her miserable.
  • Strangers From Hell: Jong-woo/Moon-jo. Moon-jo spies on Jong-woo, stalks him everywhere, drives him insane, and possibly turns him into a serial killer, all while calling him "honey" and acting like a Stalker with a Crush.

    Visual Novels 
  • Battler and Beatrice from Umineko: When They Cry. Beatrice is a witch with absolute power of life and death over Battler, to the point of casually killing and resurrecting him to prove a point, and is always gloating over new and extravagant ways to make him question his grasp on reality. Battler, in return, adamantly refuses — to her face — to believe in the existence of witches or any power these nonexistent beings might or might not have over him. By the end of the fourth chapter, though, the one thing neither can deny is the heaping amounts of UST that exist between them. They get married at the end of Episode 6. In Beatrice's own words: "Let's start torturing each other, USHIROMIYA BATTORAAAAAAA!!"
  • Taichi and Touko from CROSS†CHANNEL, albeit a surprisingly real/different example where both parties are insane. Taichi's the only one playing mind-games, but after he realizes what Touko's "problems" are, he hurriedly tries to cut the relationship short, leading to Touko stabbing herself in an attempt to get Taichi to love her again. Given that the story takes disorders very seriously, this example is especially tragic.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: The relationship between Liliana and Jace was... unhealthy. It really only started because she wanted use him as a pawn against Tezzeret before developing actual feelings for the mind mage, but it didn't stop her from betraying him. When they reunite and he convinces her to join the Gatewatch, she's still teasing and manipulative to him, but that's because after centuries of manipulating people she's forgotten how to have a healthy relationship. When Jace eventually starts a relationship with the gorgon Vraska, it's treated as a much more equal and stable romance than Jace and Liliana's affairs.

  • A canonical example in Heathers with Veronica and her Serial Killer boyfriend, J.D. Even after she gets sick of his shit and dumps him, the mind games and sexual tension continue.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire: Stanley/Blanche. They are somewhat attracted to each other at first, but Stanley eventually sees through Blanche's mask and his continued involvement in her life causes her to descend into permanent insanity, which was very much intended by Stanley.
  • Elisabeth has Death/Elisabeth and Death/Rudolf. However, the Mind Games and More than Mind Control aspect really comes to the fore with the latter ship. Death always bodily manipulates Rudolf during their seduction duet, with the level of physical contact and mind control subtext differing between actors/productions.
  • There are some Be More Chill fans that ship Jeremy with the SQUIP, an internal supercomputer who literally has control over his mind and body, not helped by the SQUIP typically being pretty touchy-feely with Jeremy. To add to the creepy factor, Jeremy is a teen boy and the SQUIP typically resembles an adult.

    Web Comics 
  • Girls Next Door: This is part of the dynamic between Jareth and Sarah, which is inherited from their canon (Labyrinth, see in the fandom film examples below). In the comic, Jareth's romantic interest in Sarah is more clear cut... but him courting her still basically amounts to him screwing with her and trying to trick her. Deconstructed when she points out that this is precisely why she can't just get with him.
    Sarah: Your problem is, you think we're still waltzing about in your crystal ballroom — you want me dazzled and confused, you want to lead the dance, and you've already planned the cushion pit ready for things to get decadent. (beat) You don't care whether I'm... ready or not, or how foolish you make me look in the process. (beat) And I know you're all fae and goblin king and make-it-so, but see this my way!! (beat) That's... scoring a conquest. It's not trying for a relationship. (beat) I never could tell if you wanted to win or if you wanted me.

    Web Original 
  • Andras As'phyxiar and Marchosias Aversen of Arkn: Legacy can't spend five minutes around each other without it devolving into this. It helps that both of them are masters of the Mind Screw, and essentially have a mutual assured destruction guarantee if one should ever be too aggressive in trying to overpower the other.

    Western Animation 

Fandom examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon the Series: Black & White: SommelierShipping (Cilan/Burgundy) often comes off as this, with Cilan being the manipulator over Burgundy in their Connoisseur (Sommelier) rivalry. Or at least, that's what Burgundy sees in her mind.
  • Monster: Johan and Anna/Nina. She is probably the only person in the world that he cares about, but he's not above mind raping her, allowing his henchman to kill her, and manipulating her into nearly shooting herself. And not to mention those certain "emails" he sent her about being "born to smother [her] with flowers" ...whatever that means.
  • Hellsing: In the manga Alucard and Integra have something like a Bodyguard Crush dynamic since their meeting. The Gonzo Anime, on the other hand, they did have head games with Alucard testing her when they met (which never happened in the manga, she wished for a knight to rescue her and got it). Alucard's loyalty to Integra is unquestionable without setting her Boundand Gagged in an illusion. Despite their Bodyguard Crush dynamic and his Undying Loyalty, there are still shades of this. Alucard tests her quite a few times and constantly goads her, spurring her onwards into killing humans and the undead and then expressing his, erm...excitement over it when she allows him to give them hell. In the OVA official (FUNimation) subtitles, he even asks her if declaring war excited her. Alucard has interesting ways of declaring his Undying Loyalty to her. While it might not be 'mind games' per se, there are definite undertones of powerplay in their interactions in both the manga/OVA and the anime and they certainly apply.
  • Naruto is practically brimming with this sort of thing. It doesn't help that most of the characters show signs of having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Of exceptional note is Orochimaru with many people, especially Sasuke. Later on, Pain and Naruto have traces of this, to an extent. As do Itachi and Sasuke. Additionally, any Kabuto pairing is bound to have some of this- he usually presents himself as this harmless, bumbling oaf with Nerd Glasses, but is in fact in league with this villain, and...well...poor Naruto's look of betrayal when he realizes this is almost too much.
    • Naruto's whole innocence, gullibility, and inspiring-Messiah-like outlook are a lot of reasons why a lot of fanfics either a) mind-screw him over, or b) pair [insert name here]xNaruto ... and not the other way around... It's probably why the author likes to break him so much too.
    • Naruto also gets this with Obito. The latter tries to pull a We Can Rule Together on him and is determined to break his ideals down since he used to be a lot like him. The Naruto wiki even refers to it as a "fixation".
    • Orochimaru/Anko; namely in episode 30, where he hits her where it hurts with his words while stroking her cheek.
    • The small but fervent shippers for Sasori/Sakura have a tendency to write fics utilizing this trope. Typically, Sasori has somehow returned from the dead and stalks Sakura with full intent on exacting his revenge for his loss against someone so young and inexperienced. Count on Sasori tormenting Sakura night and day and her being unable to alert the Hokage or her friends of his sudden reappearance for fear of sounding insane.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Dark Marik and Dark Bakura with just about everyone.
    • To a degree, normal Marik has this kind of relationship with Yugi/Yami Yugi, as he's explicitly challenging him and playing games with his mind, presumably so that killing him would be more interesting.
    • Special mention should go to Dark Marik and Mai, as the title of their dueling episodes was called "Mind Games", and he spent the entire time toying with her mentally and emotionally while calling her Terms of Endangerment like "my dear" and even having her bound.
  • During the third season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the Judai/Yubel ship was also very messed up, though rather one-sided, until the very end when Juudai returns their love and fuses their souls.
  • And in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, we get Divine with Aki playing the trope to the hilt.
  • Mukuro/Tsuna in Reborn! (2004). Based on Mukuro's obsession with obtaining Tsuna's body at any cost and screwing with his head. And Mukuro/Chrome.
    • Also, Byakuran/anyone but especially with either Tsuna or Uni.
  • Several interpretations of Light/L (Death Note) seem to portray their love/hate/manipulate relationship as culminating in a Two Xanatos Pileup.
  • An example of this that's not Foe Yay Shipping: Sensui and Itsuki from YuYu Hakusho.
    • Any halfway realistic Kurama/Hiei, considering Hiei dislikes almost everyone, including himself, and kitsune play games practically obsessively. Considering Hiei seems to enjoy being around Kurama beyond anyone, one could say he enjoys partaking in Kurama's teasing.
  • The majority of Hetalia: Axis Powers shipping-based fics featuring Russia use this approach.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • The relationship between Roy and Ed can be interpreted as this. A lot of people love pairing them together, quite a bit of it having to do with how Roy knows exactly which buttons to push to make Ed angry, and how much he enjoys doing so. Since they're more like Vitriolic Best Buds in canon, it's usually a relatively mild, comedic version of the trope, unless it's a Dark Fic.
    • Envy/Ed is a much more straightforward version of this trope. They're especially popular in popular in fics based on the Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), where Envy's hatred of Ed is much more personal.
  • The interactions between Gauron and Sousuke in Full Metal Panic! are this. Gauron constantly taunts Sousuke and tries to make him go berserk. He loves reminding him of the past and makes him feel uncomfortable by being creepily and overly affectionate with him (including calling him "Kashim" and "Honey"). Especially noticeable during the third season, where Gauron pretty much mind screws Sousuke by rubbing in how Sousuke's friends caused him to become weaker, and telling him that he had his minion kill Sousuke's love, Kaname. He takes much delight in seeing Sousuke's reaction, and continues to goad Sousuke into killing him (which apparently is his idea of consummating their relationship).
    • And then there's the whole conversation in the light novel where Gauron says that back when he was fighting Sousuke at the beginning, he fantasized about killing him and then raping his dead body. Sousuke did not react well...
  • Bleach has lots of this:
    • The relationship between Ulquiorra and Orihime is a textbook example. She's a naive and kindhearted girl with hidden issues, who is forced to go into a strange land upon Aizen's orders. He's the one who relayed said orders to her, was made into her jailed and interacted with her the most — and was also caustic, cynical and emotionless to inhuman points.
    • Aizen/Ichigo. Aizen/anyone, period. (Except Gin, maybe.) We all know what happened to the one person who gave in... Poor Momo.
    • Depending on what sort of...alterations were included in his healing process, Mayuri/Uryu as well.
    • Gin Ichimaru gets his own subsection, because he gets this with EVERYONE he's paired with:
      • Gin/Ichigo. Gin demonstrated that he really loves fucking with Ichigo's head by picking at his fear and insecurity.
      • Long, long before Ichigo, Gin was already messing with Kira's head.
      • Gin/Rukia. It's canon that Gin scares the shit out of poor Rukia. When she was in Soul Society awaiting her execution, she stated that even if he wasn't talking to her, she'd get this ominous feeling like "snakes were curling themselves around her" and she could feel "every bead of sweat" on her body whenever he was in her presence. There's the fact that Gin was a total asshole and told her that he would save her from being executed before squashing her hopes down flat, sending the emotionally broken girl into an Heroic BSoD.
    • Rangiku, Gin's Only Friend, doesn't have it much better. Yes, his plan was all centered about protecting her since she was the only person consistently kind to him but he still emotionally screwed her over while trying to protect her.
    • Tsukishima/anyone. Specially Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, Shishigawara, or even Ginjou.
  • Kira and Flay in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. Though Kira was genuinely in love with her without knowing she initially was just using him, and this becomes a moot point due to her Becoming the Mask. Eventually, she dies before she gets to set the record straight and make it official, so Kira never finds out the relationship was originally a lie.
  • Akito and Shigure in Fruits Basket. Though they got their happy ending in the manga. Akito/Anyone qualify, considering how touchy-feely she gets with everyone in the Zodiac, and even her demeanor around Tohru until she gets better thanks to Tohru herself could be interpreted thusly.
  • Muraki, of Descendants of Darkness, with everyone he interacts. And how.
  • Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro: Neuro to Yako. (As the image on the show's page suggests.)
  • Both Sae Sasaki and Ryo Okayasu from Peach Girl play with people's minds by relying on their ability to charm people into doing what they want. Ryo's manipulation/mistreatment of Sae herself is so bad, though, that it's enough for her to change her ways. Sort of.
    • Sae/Momo. The major plot point of the series is how Sae pretends to be Momo's friend and secretly attempts to undermine her because of her own insecurity and jealousy of Momo.
  • Deadman Wonderland has Genkaku/Nagi.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Tsukuyomi/Setsuna and Fate/Negi at least before Fate's Heel–Face Turn.
    • As well as Kurt Godel/Negi.
    • And Tsukuyomi/either Fate or Negi.
  • Prince Dimande and Sailor Moon, coming from Dimande's really obsessive Stalker with a Crush behavior towards her in both anime and manga.
  • Xellos / Lina from the Slayers adhere to this. It doesn't help that Xellos apparently knows all of her weaknesses either, even the stuff he shouldn't technically know about.
  • From Loveless any ship involving Seimei will be this. Most notably the Seimei/Ritsuka pairing.
  • Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure! has two instances of this at the same time, when Cyrus manipulates Mitsumi into rejoining Team Galactic and forcing her to battle Hareta, while all the while taunting her over her headset about how she's alone in the world. By the end, she's so distraught that she basically asks Jupiter to kill her. Later on she forgives him and helps facilitate his recovery. But the manipulation was intended for Hareta, and so Cyrus launches into an 11-page tirade about how hatred is the only thing humans can feel and that's why he's going to set things right by ending the universe and starting it again under his tight control, concluding it with "You must hate me even more now." Hareta looks up at him and cries his eyes out, saying "you do bad things, but I don't hate you." Cyrus asks himself if, after all he's done to Hareta, this boy still cares about everyone—and nearly stops his plan until Saturn intervenes. Basically, Cyrus managed to mind game HIMSELF. This, of course, doesn't stop Cyrus from trying to kill Hareta again later that volume, but given that this is the only continuity where he manages to redeem himself, it's obvious what impact this had.
  • Ranma ˝: Kuno/Nabiki, Ranma/Nabiki, and pretty much any ship with Nabiki.
  • Aion and Chrono in Chrono Crusade tend to be written like this in yaoi fanfic. And some of the scenes in the anime actually border on this without the need of fanfic to back it up.
  • Get Backers: Takuma and Ban. It's a bit one-sided on Takuma's part though.
  • Durarara!!:
    • Izaya explicitly states in the light novel that he despises Shizuo and would rather be as far away from him as possible. He also hates talking about him in general and seems to get pissed whenever anyone mentions him. Shizuo's the last person Izaya would try to play mindgames with face-to-face - he just wants him dead. None of this stops the slashers, be they in-universe or not.
    • Seiji Yagiri and Mika Harima, either. They look like Sickeningly Sweethearts... and are anything but.
    Seiji: I'm so in love with the scars on your neck...
  • Soul Eater: Medusa/Stein. Canonical seductive touching while Medusa tries to drive Stein insane? It's all hallucinated, but that just means it's working. Naturally, fanfic-writing proponents of the couple have taken this concept and run with it.
  • This is the main appeal of shipping Keith and Matsuka in Toward the Terra, given that Keith seems to exert every effort to give Matsuka a vicious case of Stockholm Syndrome, and if anything it works a little too well - by the end of the series, Matsuka is willing to sacrifice his life to save Keith's.
  • Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest: Haguro towards Inugami. To a lesser extent, Ryuuko towards Inugami.
  • Sebastian and Ciel in Black Butler, in the sense that all the moments of Ho Yay between the two come off more as nightmarish threats considering that Sebastian is a demon and is merely killing time until he gets to eats Ciel's soul.
    • Sebastian/anyone. It's one of the many things he does best.
    • Season two gives us Alois/Ciel, which is practically canon. On Alois's side, at least. Also, Alois/Hannah.
    • And Claude/Ciel. Thanks to episodes 7 and 10 which has him basically orgasming over Ciel 9 which has him practically mind raping Ciel, and declaring how he wants to "stick [his] needle into his soft skin and suck out his sensual soul".
      • Claude/Alois since Claude is a Master of the Mixed Message and alternates between getting his Ho Yay on with Alois and considering his instability arousing or scheming against him and killing him. Alois meanwhile compares Claude to a butterfly and wonders if he should remove his wings so he can't leave him.
    • Grell/Sebastian. Grell talks within the same few minutes about wanting to cut Sebastian into pieces and wanting to bear his child.
  • Knives/Vash and Legato/Vash in Trigun.
  • Vassalord: Barry and Rayflo, though Rayflo wants no part of it.
    • Rayfell and Charley have a bit of this going on as well. Charley also wants no part of it.
  • In PandoraHearts Vincent has traces of this going on with Gil and everyone else, but especially with Gil and Ada. Though, after discovering Ada is actually a Nightmare Fetishist, he started to regret his mind game with her; and after she said she would willingly put her life in danger to protect him, maybe his Mind Game Ship with her started to grow to a complete love or at least crush.
    • Jack/Oz can be seen as this, based on Jack's tendency to screw Oz over while getting physically close to him and touching him.
  • Penguindrum: Sanetoshi Watase and anyone he interacts with. Specially with Himari, the Princess of the Crystal, and DOUBLE in the case of Kanba.
  • Hino and Yunoki of La Corda d'Oro.
  • Shiki and Akira of Togainu no Chi.
  • Yuno and Yukiteru in Future Diary have shades of this.
  • Ren and Aichi in Cardfight!! Vanguard. Ren mind rapes Aichi and gets physically close while doing so.
  • Rei and Kyoko from March Comes in Like a Lion. Kyoko often manipulates Rei when she meets up with him or drops by his place, veiling her words with signs that she may actually care for him despite it all.
  • This is how some fans interpret Slaine and Princess Lemrina's interactions in the second season of Aldnoah.Zero.
  • Tokyo Ghoul:
    • Tsukiyama toes the line between amorous and murderous affections when it comes to Kaneki and also likes to act friendly around Touka who he admits he had a thing for before declaring he'll decorate the church with her organs.
    • Yamori and Kaneki, given how he psychologically and physically tortures Kaneki and gets close to him while doing so.
    • Eto effectively mind rapes and tortures Kanae via sewing his eyes open and sewing his mouth into a Glasgow Grin. She does this while naked and he's in a vulnerable state due to suffering over unrequited love and calls him sweet and cute when he's like this. Her torture warps his mind, making him Ax-Crazy, and leading him to call her "Queen" and worship her.
    • Eto tries manipulating Kaneki and is revealed to have a twisted love for him as she's both trying to kill him and licking his eye before declaring affection for him again as he tosses her mutilated body from a building.
      • Eto finds herself in one with Furata who mentions finding her attractive, saying he likes women like her, and saying he wants to dominate her while putting a hand to his crotch. He's also horrible towards her and when she rebuffs and insults him he repeats to her "Die...die...die...die...die...die...". He later plots to torture her.
    • Romo wants to screw with Sasaki's life so he turns back into the beautiful tragic Kaneki she adores.
    • Rize seems to have a standard crush on Kaneki before she takes a chomp out of his shoulder and waxing horrifically about how she wants to scramble his organs.
    • Furuta loves to tease and mock Kaneki/Sasaki and calls him "my dear Kaneki" all while trying to kill him and gouge his eyes out.
  • The fight between Ladd Russo and Chane Laforet atop the Flying Pussyfoot in Baccano! is punctuated with this, as Ladd repeatedly declares his love for Chane and monologues about how she loves him back. Even while he's trying to blow her to bits with a shotgun. It's implied that Ladd's just trying to mess with her, but when he starts to caress her cheek and play with her hair, one can't help but wonder.
    Ladd: I'll take it. I accept this love from you, young lady! But you have to accept my love, too...
  • Project K: Fushimi is pretty much a walking Berserk Button for Yata, takes great delight in messing with him, and is hinted to be Yandere for him.
  • Embryo and Cross Ange Ange. Embryo loves Ange for her defiance towards him and mind rapes her a couple times.
  • Ferid of Seraph of the End takes great pleasure in screwing with people's emotions what with him being a sadistic vampire. In particular, he has a peculiar fixation with doing this to Yuu, Mika, and Crowley. The fanbook also states his greatest fantasy as being to suck Guren's blood before his comrades when he's at the height of his glory.
    • In chapter 46 Ferid drives up in his car and holds out his hand to Mika and Yuu, with a flirtatious look and teasingly saying "I heard you two were being attacked by a dangerous vampire so I came to your rescue. Come take a ride with me. I'll save you." He plays mind games with Yuu and Mika throughout the chapter, and when Yuu turns into a demon to attack Ferid for showing them Akane's head Ferid tells Mika he's "worried for the poor guy (Yuu)" because he says Yuu could turn into a full demon. He states he has an antidote to cure Yuu and tells Shinoa "Let us go rescue dear Yuu." Mika is adamant to keep Ferid from getting near Yuu and says "I won't let you have your way with him!" Ferid smiles and says he just wants to help Yuu. Mika says he's not going to let Ferid touch him. Crowley engages Mika in a fight while Ferid states cheerfully "Now precious Yuu is all mine." Ferid approaches Yuu and blushes saying "Wow! Haven't you grown into the cute one!! Your demon is on the verge of rampage yet you still have such clear and beautiful eyes. No wonder you are the extra special guinea pig." He then lifts Yuu's face by his chin, rubs his lips with his thumb, and gets close saying "Perhaps before I heal you I'll take a little sip of your blood." Yuu asks if there's something in it for him if he allows Ferid to suck his blood. Ferid says he got the curse supresent from Guren and it's the same one he takes. Yuu demands Ferid tells him everything he knows and Ferid smiles, covers Yuu's mouth with his hand, says "Oh, you are cute" and bites him while gripping his shoulder and hand. He then "cures" Yuu of his advancing demon curse while holding him close and leaning his head on Yuu's shoulder.
  • Kuroi from Thou Shalt Not Die like to play mind games with Mashiro because she is the only mind he can't read, he takes pleasure in finding any side of her from her gentle side to her berserker split personality and will keep teasing her even in the middle of a war zone.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • The Very Secret Diary (a Harry Potter fic) takes the Tom Riddle/Ginny Weasley "relationship" as far as it can go without it actually being an explicit pedophile rapist/victim scenario. The whole thing reads like an internet predator "grooming" their newest victim, played for all the horror it's worth.
  • Sympathy Crime, a Persona 4 fic, features the pairing of Yosuke/Adachi, where Adachi manipulates Yosuke's emotions in hopes of breaking up the investigation team, and also for his own sick enjoyment.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fanfic The Games We Play sees Mare Do Well making a bet with Rainbow Dash: that she can get the pegasus to fall in love with her before Dash can unmask her. To this end, she teases and misleads her to suspect all of her friends, and takes a lot of enjoyment in how much she screws with Rainbow's head.
  • The main character does this with everyone in the Naruto fic Kakashi's Kid. Being the narrator helps even more.
  • In Deserted Distractions, this happens in-universe with Yami Bakura and Tea; she knows exactly how manipulative Yami Bakura is, knows he's manipulating her, and still can't stop herself from being physically attracted to him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Gaston in Beauty and the Beast wants Belle, the most most beautiful girl in town who refuses to be swayed by him. This is compared to a hunter going after his prey. He also threatens to throw Belle's father into the asylum to try to force Belle to marry him and stabs Beast because he's angry Belle's in love with him.
  • Coco: Hector/Ernesto, also known as Ernector. There's surprisingly a decent amount of fanfics made about the pairing despite the latter's murder of the former.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, Dr. Facilier offers to make Tiana's dreams come true in exchange for his talisman. He shows her illusions of her restaurant while circling her and making his offer. He also gets really close and speaks with a seductive voice into her ear. Also, Facilier practically seduced Naveen into making the deal.
  • Mother Gothel and Rapunzel in Tangled. She manipulated Rapunzel into staying in her tower and kept her there for many years because she needs Rapunzel's hair to help her stay young, it having been filled with the power of magic flower. She plays a doting mother and tries to convince Rapunzel that Flynn is no good when he really wants to help her. She also ties Rapunzel up at the climax and stabs Flynn purely because Flynn is in love with Rapunzel.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Unbroken: Watanabe is fixated on Zamperini. He even tells him that from the moment they met, he knew they were alike and that they could have been friends if not for their opposing sides. Zamperini mainly just seems creeped out by the attention, especially since Watanabe spends a lot of his time trying to break Zamperini's spirit.
  • Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea in The Interview and David Skylark. He pretends to be friends with David and even kisses him on the lips when playing spin the bottle but is well known for being Ax-Crazy and manipulative to practically everyone he comes into contact with.
  • Dracula's behavior towards Van Helsing and way of approaching him comes across as this.
  • Labyrinth has Jareth/Sarah with Jareth trying to tempt Sarah to stay with him with promises of love if she becomes his slave. He also torments her during her run throughout his labyrinth and tries his hardest to turn her brother into a goblin after she accidentally wishes for it. At one point he throws a snake at her while telling her "Don't defy me!" Various fanfics take this further.
  • The Devil Wears Prada: Much of the film is Miranda manipulating Andy into being ruthless like herself, and because of this, a lot of shippers have taken to the ship. There are quite a few fics where they have Miranda succeed in the attempt and turn Andy into her perfect match. There are also some where Andy turns the tide and proves herself to be an equal match to her boss. The one constant in these fics is that the two love playing mind games with each other.

  • The Dresden Files: Lara Raith seems to enjoy manipulating Harry Dresden a bit more than can be considered strictly professional.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: When people ship Mitth'raw'nuruodo without making him into a Draco in Leather Pants, this tends to be his characterization. It's not uncommon to see him shipped with Maris Ferasi, a Wide-Eyed Idealist who sees him as completely honorable and good.
  • Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. It started out with mild hints in The Silence of the Lambs and then went full-bore into this trope in the next book. In the end, Hannibal gets the girl.
  • Forgotten Realms: Jarlaxle and Entreri are this, though the platonic version. Unless it's Slash Fic, in which case there's a 50/50 chance or better of Jarlaxle seriously screwing with Artemis' head for... other purposes. Though in all fairness, he is a drow.
  • Malory Towers: Gwen and Mary-Lou and later Gwen and Clarissa (until she develops a spine). To what extent this applies depends on your personal take on the canon, but the "pushy, dominant partner in a near-exclusive friendship" theme is very much there, even if you're not prone to subtextual interpretations.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray: Harry/Dorian and Basil/Dorian with all the Ho Yay implications too.
  • Gone Girl: Amy and Nick. Nick even says Amy's known for playing "mind games".
  • Ripliad: Tom and anyone. He's quite manipulative to Dickie, Marge, Peter, and Meredith while also appearing to care greatly for them in his own twisted way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Blake/Avon and Avon/Vila ships in Blake's 7 have shades of this: Avon's something of a Launcher of a Thousand Ships.
  • Burn Notice Michael and Anson. Anson enjoys torturing Michael with his insights way too much.
  • T-Bag/Michael from Prison Break. T-Bag/anyone really,
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angelus was apparently fond of it, doing it to Buffy during season 2 and Drusilla sometime in the 19th century. When they bring him back in Angel, he seems to take a special pleasure in playing with Fred and with Faith. Angelus just loves breaking hotties.
  • Lost: Ben Linus. With just about everyone. And it is awesome.
  • Oz: Ryan and Dr. Nathan. Then there's the chaotic Chris/Beecher relationship and the Foe Yay-tastic rivalry between Schillinger/Beecher.
  • In a much milder way, this is how all of House's relationships need to work, from the love of his life to the one-off characters he flirts with. Shipping him with Cuddy depends on this.
  • Before their Foe Romance Subtext became much less subtle, the Doctor and the Master of Doctor Who fit this trope. Their Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado incarnations in particular took a certain amount of delight from their mutual manipulations and betrayals.
  • Firefly:
    • The fandom's tendency to ship River and Jayne often uses this as an aspect of it, as River does like to screw around with people's heads, when her own head isn't screwy itself.
    • Ditto for Simon/Jayne, and even for Mal/Jayne.
  • Lots of (good) Mylar (Sylar/Mohinder) will fall into this category. It's that screwed up a pairing.
    • Sylar/Claire and Sylar/Peter are also rather heavy in this, with the ship element of the first being practically canon, at least from Sylar's side. That's just what Sylar's like.
    • After gaining immortality, Sylar points out to Claire that as much as she might hate him unless they both lose their powers, eventually it's going to be just the two of them for the rest of time.
    • Now that there's Elle, she's sometimes the aggressor with Claire, sometimes the subject with Mr. Bennet, and at least once even with Monica Dawson.
  • Justified Raylan and Boyd. Boyd is one of the few people who can really push Raylan's buttons due to their shared past.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Galadriel and Sauron. Sauron by his very nature is very deceiving and manipulative. He asks Galadriel to be his Consort Queen and co-rule Middle-earth after playing mind games with her in a Mind Rape he trapped her in.
  • The Mentalist has Patrick Jane, the man who flirts with everyone while screwing with their heads. He reserves his most magical bits of mind-screw for Lisbon.
  • Justin and Alex fit this trope to a tee in Wizards of Waverly Place.
  • The developments between Jim Keats and Alex Drake in season three of Ashes to Ashes (2008) makes this one near-canonical. Keats wants to tempt Alex away from Gene and use her to bring Gene down. While there's no explicit sexuality in their relationship, they flirt during multiple episodes, and in the finale Keats gets very touchy-feely with her under the guise of "comforting" her. Of course, it's revealed that he's quite possibly the Devil himself, so the mind game elements are a lot less surprising.
  • Head Six to Dr. Gaius Baltar and Head Baltar to Caprica-Six in Battlestar Galactica.
    • Leoben's obsession with Starbuck has elements of this, most obvious in the first season episode Flesh and Bone. It's made explicit that he managed to get to her after all in her dream sequences later in the series.
  • Supernatural
    • Crowley tends to toss around double entendres like they're going out of style, but whenever he faces off against Castiel, the "sub" just goes out of the subtext.
    • The Meg demon has now kissed Sam, Dean, and Castiel (two of them against their will, though). She also has creepy sexual-predator-esque vibes when she's got Sam tied up in "Shadow" and with Jo when she's got her in the exact same situation in "Born Under a Bad Sign".
      • Castiel/Meg: he's an angel, she's a demon; she calls him "Clarence", he calls her an "abomination"; she eye-fucks him from the second they meet and she kisses him in an attempt to steal his angel blade when they first kiss (in true "Take That!" Kiss form). In Season 7, she reluctantly assists Team Free Will by acting as Castiel's caretaker when he goes insane from absorbing Sam's Hell-pain and he develops a kind of Stockholm Syndrome-like crush on her. Meg's actress actually admits to Meg having a genuine crush on Castiel, something the demon is obviously not used to.
    • Azazel gets chemistry with both Dean and Sam. He just loves to pin Dean to walls/graves and lean in far too close when emotionally tormenting him. It's especially disturbing/sexy/twisted when he's possessing Dean's Daddy in "Devil's Trap". Continued when Azazel possesses Dean's grandfather and moves into his personal space. There's also when he acted like a pervy uncle to Sam, calling him his "favorite". He canonically has this with both of their parents, too; he flat-out told Dean that he would have sex with Mary if he could and actually kissed her to seal a Deal with the Devil while wearing her father's corpse like a cheap suit. It's more of a case of Fridge Horror where John is concerned: he also made a deal with Azazel, meaning he also had to kiss him in order to seal it.
    Azazel: [walking up to John with an intense look on his face There's something else I want, as much as that gun. Maybe more...
    • In the third season finale, Lilith kissed Sam and childishly told him that his lips were soft, right before killing Dean in front of him. Then there's the fact that she tried to seduce Sam into sealing a deal by having sex with her in "The Monster at the End of This Book"—it's a good thing that Dean and Chuck showed up in time, or she might've just raped him anyway. When she first appeared, though, she labelled Dean as the cute one. (And God knows what she did to Dean if she visited/tormented him in Hell.)
    • And then there was also Alastair and Dean. With all the implications of "poking and prodding", Alastair acting like a stalker ex-boyfriend and even calling Dean "Daddy's little girl", as well as the implication that's gotten around to tormenting Dean in that way at some point.
    • There's also a bit of Gordon/Dean going around. After all, Dean did get manipulated pretty badly by him in Bloodlust and wanted him as a Daddy figure. When Gordon becomes a vampire in Fresh Blood, he can sense Dean's scent all over the phone shop and before Sam beheads him with barbed wire, he slams Dean up against a wall and bites him, prompting an honest-to-god orgasm face.
    • When Lucifer confronts Sam in "Free to Be You and Me", he tells Sam how he will hunt Sam down and force him to give consent to go into Sam. The threat sounds so much like a rape threat that the text and subtext are nigh interchangeable. Then when Lucifer finally possesses Sam, he spends most of his time taunting him, stating at one point that he's "taking the gag off" to allow Sam to speak and that they are "two halves made whole" and "MFEO" (made for each other).
      • Gets taken up to unbelievable levels after Sam gets stuck in the cage in Hell with Lucifer for well over a year. Balthazar says that Lucifer and Michael have probably been "hate-banging" Sam, and in "Hello, Cruel World" it's outright stated that Lucifer made Sam his "bitch in every sense of the term." Let's be honest, here: Sam's PTSD-induced hallucination of Lucifer spends half his screen-time acting like Sam's super-clingy girlfriend and the other half acting like his rapist. You can see it best in "Repo Man", where he goes from pouting about Sam's attempts to ignore him to talking about "the rapier wit; the wittier rape!"
    • And now we have Abaddon/Dean which became canon after Abaddon kills several people to get Dean and Sam's attention, sends her minions after Sam and the other hunters with them, and zones in on Dean. Her first words to Dean? "I missed you. Did you miss me?" During their fight Dean tells Abaddon she's sending mixed signals and Abaddon explicitly states that she has wanted Dean since the moment she saw him and as soon as she gets the chance she will "Rip off this little no demons allowed tattoo and take you for a ride." Abaddon finally gets the upper hand and starts to make good on her threat until Ezekiel!Sam senses danger and comes to the rescue.
  • The Following: From the moment they meet Carroll seems to find Ryan fascinating. When Ryan stops him in the flashback Carroll's every action from that moment on is to draw Ryan back to him: the cult; the book; even his ex-wife are all bait to bring Ryan to him. He even goes so far as to set up one of his cultists to be Ryan's friend with benefits; has her report to him about Ryan's well being and has her bug EVERY room of Ryan's home so when he escapes he has video of everything Ryan has done that he can watch at his leisure. Including having sex.
  • Blacklist
    • Raymond Reddington gets this vibe with other characters occasionally, especially with Lizzie.
    • Tom and Liz have this at first when he pretends to be her loving husband but later shows his true colors. He also is shown to have developed feelings for Liz in the time he was with her.
  • Gotham: Oswald Cobblepot and James Gordon. He is a Manipulative Bastard, seems to have a thing for Gordon, and they tend to have No Sense of Personal Space around another. Seems to be No Yay for Gordon though.
    • Richard Sionis develops a major interest in Gordon the minute Gordon steps into his office. He comments on his fiery attitude with an almost seductive voice and wonders if Gordon has a natural knack for killing.
    • Fish Mooney and Cobblepot's manipulative relationship.

  • Mind Games by John Lennon: the title track deals with mind games between people and says that "love is the answer".

    Video Games 
  • This role can be played by GLaDOS from Portal.
  • Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII did this to Cloud quite a bit in the original, but by the Compilation, his sole raison d'etre seemed to be to touch Cloud's brain in intimate places, and it's marvelous fuel for the Cloud/Sephiroth shippers.
  • This is also how the Gary/Petey couple in Bully is usually played. It probably helps that one of the earliest times we see Gary and Petey interact it's Gary getting up in his face to taunt him about liking to watch the swim team and alternately calling him a sick sad pervert and sick, sad and closeted gay. And he expresses a desire to make him into a real man. (Or a woman. Or something.) Unfortunately, some people don't seem to quite grasp the subtle delights of a good old-fashioned mind game, and turn Gary into just a misunderstood, gentle, good-hearted woobie.
  • Any pairings involving Pyramid Head of Silent Hill will inevitably be this trope, due mostly to his role of penetrating (ahem) a character's mind and doing all sorts of nasty things with it.
  • Maleficent and Riku in Kingdom Hearts. Well, it's either that or a Mrs. Robinson deal, depending on your perspective...
  • Alma and Becket in First Encounter Assault Recon 2: Project Origin to a very disturbing degree.
  • This is generally accepted by the The World Ends with You fandom to be Joshua and Neku's relationship and primarily because Joshua mixes Mind Screw with Ho Yay like Reese's mixes peanut butter with chocolate. This comes from Another Day, which uses alternate universe versions of the main characters. Yaoi Fangirls have picked it up and run off with it anyway.
    Joshua: I could never live with myself if I let you go alone. Let's spend some quality time.
    Beat: Whoa ho ho! You guys are... Like, you ain't...
    Shiki: Blue and Pink!? Sure, they go.. but I didn't know they went LIKE THAT!
    Neku: Now look what you've done!
    • Joshua also lays it on thick right from their very first meeting, after he forces them in to a pact:
      Joshua: The name's Yoshiya Kiryu. But Mother and Father call me Joshua.
      Neku: Please don't tell me...
      Joshua: I guess you can call me Joshua, too - seeing as how you're my dear, dear partner. Hee hee...
    • He openly admits in the same conversation that he was watching over/stalking Neku, and was impressed with him. The Ho Yay continues with Josh's teasing and Neku's attempts to fight it dwindling as he starts to finally get used to his eccentric 'partner'. When he "dies" saving him from Sho, we all end up liking him, and it makes the Mind Screw elements that much harder to deal with. It's revealed that he escaped to a parallel world (one obsessed with Tin Pin, according to the Reports) during his Heroic Sacrifice, and he glibly tells Neku that he had tried to kill him before the Game, after Neku had been guilt-ridden for the whole week thinking that Josh was innocent and that his mistrust got him killed. Despite this, Neku risks his own life and the existence of Shibuya to avoid shooting Josh, even after he's revealed himself to be the Composer who wants to destroy Shibuya (to save the rest of the world from its corruption) and challenged him to a duel with pistols. Josh ''does'' shoot, but he also resurrects them all and leaves Shibuya alone, changing his mind, and in the ending, while Neku says that while he can't forgive him, he still trusts him.
  • While Mephiles from Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) probably won't be showing up in any other Sonic games any time soon, there are those who like the character enough for him to fit in this trope as the manipulator. Being one of the biggest Manipulative Bastards the franchise has ever seen (meta-wise) doesn't hurt.
  • Ace Attorney Fan Fic likes to do this with Kristoph Gavin/anyone (especially Phoenix).
  • In Team Fortress 2, The Spy in pretty much any pairing, and the Medic when Ukefied.
  • In Tales of Symphonia fic, this is involved in pretty much any pairing that includes Yggdrasill.
  • In Tales of Graces anything between Richard and Asbel could be seen as this if Lambda gets involved. Particularly when he's in Richard, since that spices Richard's obvious crush on Asbel with flavours of Yandere
  • Link and Ghirahim of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. In a strange case, Ghirahim isn't really that manipulative, but he gets really close with Link when they meet.
  • No subtext needed, this is pretty much the actual relationship between the PC and Damien in Magical Diary. It starts as a romantic pairing, and gets progressively more messed up.
  • Vamp and Raiden in Metal Gear Solid. Shows up in canon too.
  • Batman and Joker, naturally, in the Batman: Arkham Series. Hugo Strange, Bane, Scarecrow, and most of the Rogues' Gallery all get in on the act with Batman at certain points too (which isn't too surprising, considering Batman's overall themes around detective work and mental illness, and Batman's own intellect being his most defining trait), but Joker's the most consistent and prominent:
    • Joker goes beyond mere Mind Screw and actually manages to get his blood inside Batman, which then naturally leads to Batman hallucinating Joker throughout the entirety of the final game, as being part of him now.

    Web Animation 
  • Happy Tree Friends fandom sometimes does this with Evil Flippy and Flaky, or Good Flippy and Evil Flippy. This is carried on in the show as well, especially in the latter episodes, where Flaky becomes terrified of Flippy and tries to get rid of him in any possible way, even though he doesn't kill her anymore and acts really nice to her. In Without A Hitch, he acts nicely and tries to help her, but she constantly thinks he's following her to murder her so she ends up stabbing him.

  • MegaTokyo: Miho/Anyone.
  • Rojo of Cuanta Vida keeps talking about how he likes Bleu. The first time he said this was immediately before putting out a cigarette on Bleu's face.
  • Wanda of Erfworld has a definite thing for Jillian Zamussels, her "favorite prisoner" and frequent torture subject. There are explicit instances (such as their first interaction in the strip) and constant overtones of Les Yay, not to mention More than Mind Control when Jillian is later released with the intent of becoming The Mole. Even after all this, Jillian still feels strongly for Wanda and continually tries to persuade her to defect.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, King Radical towards Dr. McNinja (in a totally awesome way).
  • Homestuck features a veritable queen of this trope, Vriska Serket, who has mind control powers and throws them around in a frankly cavalier manner. When she's not forcing people to cripple themselves for her amusement, she's systematically undermining their self-esteem and basically just making them cry. Naturally she gets shipped with everyone. We also have Terezi Pyrope, who doesn't even need mind control powers to manipulate you, and gets under Vriska's skin more than anyone else in the universe. Naturally she gets shipped with Vriska and also everyone else. In fact, a good quarter of Homestuck's main cast is populated by members of an alien species whose romantic lives revolve entirely around this.
    • Dirk Strider seems to make more or less deliberate attempts to fit into this trope towards his crush Jake, but rather than the ironic puppetmaster he wants to be seen as, he comes off as clingy, overbearing, socially awkward, and stalker-y. All of which is accurate.
  • From Roommates the Mr. King / Mrs. Norrington ship qualifies and they are pretty evenly matched in the mind games department. Magnificent Bastard / The Gadfly, one manipulates for his own agenda the other For the Lulz (and because she can).
  • Billy Thatcher and Amical from morphE. Amical is a kidnapper who flirts aggressively with his captives and uses a number of kind and cruel tactics to turn his students in to friends, allies, and sometimes (at least it is implied) romantic partners. Billy is desperate to use all the weapons at his disposal, including Amical's tendency to flirt, to help him win freedom. Any scene that involves them throwing barbs and trying to work the other has a very noticeable undertone of this trope.
  • Jassart and Vivienne in Snow By Night. Both are obviously playing each other to obtain what they want: Vivienne wants information while Jassart wants social and/or political power. The thing is who's getting ahead.
  • Nightmare Factory: Due to Phirre's chess master status, any ship involving him is this.
    • With Emai X Phirre, she has to survive and outsmart the traps he's set throughout Nightmare Factory, which could be seen equally as mind games and not only traps. When they do meet in person, the games continue, resulting in Emai tricking him by making him think she could turn off his automatic protection before she kills him by ripping out his heart. Phirre gets one last trick in, however: he tricked Emai into killing him, so he could meet a Hell Messenger and escape Nightmare Factory. This could be considered canon, as Phirre did confirm he'd been flirty with her. However, it was in a bonus episode, so it could be Played for Laughs and not canonical at all.
    • Phirre X Kissae also has this dynamic at times, mostly through Phirre tricking them with his riddles, and Kissae cheerfully trolling him.
  • Unsounded: Amusingly encouraged by Ashley Cope herself as when a reader asked after a potential for Bastion x Lemuel hatesex she replied with a snippet of fic containing Bastion messing with Lemuel and groping him.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • South Park: Eric Cartman/Kyle. And Cartman/Butters.
  • The eponymous Invader Zim's rivalry with his archenemy Dib has shades of this.
  • Slade/Robin, Slade/Raven, Blackfire/Starfire, and Slade/Terra from Teen Titans. There's also Red X/Robin, Red X/Starfire, Malchior/Raven, Jinx/Raven, Trigon/Raven, and Cyborg/Brother Blood. The show has definite undertones to support each shipping. Red X/Raven is getting to be a popular Mind Game Ship on FanFiction.Net.
  • Similar to Slade/Robin, Danny Phantom gave us Vlad/Danny.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: It looks like some might see this in HIM and Bubbles, since Him tends to target Bubbles before the group as a whole.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Numbuh 1 has a bit of this going on with the Delightful Children From Down The Lane. The movie tends to cancel this out, though- their father is explicitly revealed as Numbuh 1's uncle, making them [adopted] cousins.
  • Gravity Falls: Bill Cipher and Dipper Pines. Ships involving Bill in general tend to be this, if he stays at all in-character. Some people like to portray the way Bill manipulated Ford into unwittingly helping to bring about The End of the World as We Know It (which Ford doesn't like discussing for obvious reasons) as if it was a very unhealthy relationship.
  • The Legend of Korra: Tarrlok takes an interest in Korra and frequently pesters her to join his task force, even sending her very expensive gifts over and over "until you give in", and compliments her appearance at a dance. Then he kidnaps her, and while there is a legitimate reason given, there are certainly many other implications. In episode 9 he makes a comment about how Korra ruined his plans and how now he's going to start a new life with Korra as his hostage.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Discord and... any of the Mane Six or Celestia.
    • In both the show and fanon, Discord has this going with any other character he interacts with.

    Real Life 
  • Peter Mandelson towards then-Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer "Boy" George Osborne. They've since apparently made it up. No, probably not like that. Who knows.

Roses are blue
Violets are red
It's cute how you squirm
When I get in your head