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Mind over Manners

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So you've got a character with awesome Psychic Powers, up to and including mind reading and control. Problem is, he isn't into Bad Powers, Bad People, but prior stories show how The Dark Side can oh so very easily corrupt individuals who use these gifts irresponsibly. What's more, the powers will make them akin to a Deus ex Machina if they go Mind Raping, memory wiping, or even "just" making pacifists out of their enemies. Allies will be paranoid and afraid of them; suspecting that their own thoughts are heard or not their own, or are being manipulated by mundane means (telepaths are rarely dumb; their ESP seems to come with lots of IQ). And if they don't use their powers in that manner, expect cries of Reed Richards Is Useless and Misapplied Phlebotinum.

So how do you justify people like Professor X or Martian Manhunter being good guys, without having them solve the plot and mind-wipe the Rogues Gallery, all while avoiding sappy Fantastic Aesops intended to hold back the phlebotinum?

Why, you make them the most damn ethical, trustworthy and scrupulous characters you can find, that's what! Sure, there will always be that lingering "are they really practicing what they preach?" doubt, but giving them an overall ethical attitude and behavior keeps up Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

They can delve a little into the grey area in telepathy, but wading too deep into murky waters (while excellent drama) has the downside of heralding a full fall from grace or being Put on a Bus while they sort out their ethics. Usually they can get away with "white lies" and forgotten memories, a little mind control if the alternative is worse, but never Mind Rape or destroying a personality.

A common justification is that they can't turn their abilities off: the thoughts and emotions of their fellows are as much of a constant to them as water is to a fish. If they are mistrusted and feared, they can't escape from it; the best they can do is demonstrate that they can be trusted not to misuse their gift. Compare and contrast A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read, a trope that serves as a Cynicism Catalyst for many telepaths.

This also gets to be an Elephant in the Living Room when mindwipes are used to protect the Masquerade, especially when it seems like it's more for convenience and not necessity.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass's protagonist Lelouch falls under this for most of the series; he has no problem forcing his enemies to commit suicide or sacrificing potential allies for a strategic advantage, but he holds free will in high regard and goes to great lengths to amass his army of followers without using his Hypnotic Eyes to influence them, which would have made the job far easier. When he starts using his powers to enslave people indefinitely, it's a sign of just how far he's fallen into despair — at the moment it was the only way he could continue fighting, and entirely necessary in order for him to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. When that is averted, he continues to do so out of both a combination of still needing a military to fight against Schneizel's Nuke 'em all plan, and as part of his Genghis Gambit to make himself the evilest tyrant in history before having himself killed as atonement. Extra materials revealed that after he died, Jeremiah used his Geass Canceler to return every brainwashed solder to normal, so even in the end Lelouch meant for everything to be temporary.
  • Kotoura-san: In her backstory, Haruka Kotoura is a born Telepath that can't tell the difference between thoughts and speech because her telepathy is always on. Ergo, she had no sense of Tatemae (and still doesn't sometimes). That, along with being a curious Cheerful Child, she unknowingly hurt everybody around her, which made her socially shunned and even broke up her family. Later on, she invokes this to convincingly pose as a jerk to keep people away from her as a means to defend herself emotionally.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Subverted when Negi was going to wipe Asuna's mind after she finds out he's a mage (in the first episode no less!), though he had to do it because it's actually better than the other option, or at least more ethical.
    • The mages themselves partially admit this by outlawing things like love potions.
    • Played completely straight with Nodoka, whose mind-reading abilities make her one of the most feared of the True Companions, leading at least Haruna to wonder if she uses it for more "sordid" practices. The other characters theorize that she was given one of the more unsettling powers because of her shy attitude and sheer kindness.
    • Mage Society in general was a little too gung-ho in mind-wiping any muggles who were inconvenient. After a war over the subject and no clear answer, the plot thread was put on the back burner for the Magic World arc.

    Comic Books 
  • Doctor Strange: Played for Drama with Doctor Strange, who has moral lines he does not want to cross but occasionally has to in order to save the world. Similar to Identity Crisis (2004) mentioned below, he once mind-wipes Captain America's memory when Cap discovers the Illuminati and objects to their course of action. Cap is absolutely pissed when his memory is restored and goes on a nearly self-destructive warpath trying to take them down.
  • Empowered: Mind████ used her psychic powers on herself to prevent herself from becoming like her brother.
  • Green Lantern: Subverted with Hal Jordan, as he frequently uses his power ring to not only read minds but to wipe memories, particularly anytime someone learns his or someone else's secret identity. It's so prevalent that he even lampshades it in an issue when a villain reveals his and Barry Allen's secret IDs to their respective SOs of the time, noting how even he's getting tired of that corny routine from having done it so often. He at least once uses his power ring to force someone to walk into a police station and confess to framing him for a crime because it's easier for him than trying to prove his innocence in more legal ways.
  • Justice League of America: In Identity Crisis (2004), it's revealed that several members of the league mind-wiped their enemies and many friends to protect their secret identities and their families.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: In The Death of Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl needs to be chosen leader in order to bench the whole Legion (long story), so she telepathically "nudges" all Legionnaires into voting for her. In that same story, Lori Lemaris reads Supergirl's mind without asking permission only because she is wondering where the Girl of Steel is going.
  • Psi-Force: This is generally averted by Wayne Tucker, who in addition to the combat uses of his psychic powers, routinely erased the memories of both bad guys and bystanders, psychically coerced people into doing things like giving him rides wherever he needed to go, and occasionally invaded his teammates' minds without permission. (Some of these instances are understandable given that he was one of a group of runaway teenagers trying to evade a shadowy organization that apparently wanted them dead; some of them, not so much.)
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: In one issue after Aunt May finds out that Peter is Spidey's secret identity, Kitty begs Jean to use her powers to erase the discovery from Aunt May's mind. All of the other X-Men tell Kitty that this is not a good idea. Subverted in a different issue when Xavier performs some sort of telepathic sedation on a super-powered foreign exchange student. Spider-Man asks if doing that was ethical, and Xavier admits that it probably wasn't. (The student did nearly kill Spidey, Kitty, Jean, Storm, and himself when he woke up in the X-Jet and blew a hole in it — sedating him was probably the safest course of action.)
  • X-Men:
    • In the 1960s, Professor X did things like wipe the existence of teenaged Hank McCoy from the memory of everyone who ever knew him, including his parents. Later it was retconned he is too ethical to do such things, but altering memories to preserve the X-Men's Secret Identities was practically a Once Per Issue thing during the original run. A contrast is seen between Xavier and a psychic with no concept of Mind Over Manners in the X-Men/ClanDestine crossover: Kay (eldest daughter of the Destines) tries to rudely invade Xavier's mind to find out what the X-Men's deal is, even going so far as to say she's doing it out loud. Xavier (who is several centuries her junior) responds with the psychic equivalent of a rolled-up newspaper to the face, an admonishment of her lack of ethics (and crudity of the attempt), and a subtle warning that he could and would do far worse if she tried that again.
    • Teen Jean Grey in All-New X-Men: her telepathy shows up unexpectedly due to the stress of seeing the future and knowing her future self dies (more than once). Kitty has to repeatedly remind her it's considered extremely impolite to read minds without permission. Jean apologizes, but her curiosity gets the better of her quite a bit — the fact that she's an incredibly powerful telepath with no control also means that she picks things up without meaning to: at one point, mid freak-out after finding out about Wanda's "No More Mutants" moment and being admonished by Kitty for going looking, she replies that she didn't — Wanda's mind was screaming it out, as if it was all she thinks of. Sometimes it is Played for Laughs, sometimes it leads to awkward moments, sometimes she pushes her teammates out of the closet, but most times she can't believe what people have done. She gets better by the time she meets Miles Morales, and becomes steadily more controlled and ethical as time goes on.
    • Even after her Heel–Face Turn, Emma Frost is not afraid to avert this and avert it hard. Attack her team? She'll let you go, but implant a telepathic command so that you vomit uncontrollably for 24 hours if you hear the word "parsnip." Part of a death squad that attacks mutants? She will brainwash you into dedicating the rest of your life to protecting marginalized peoples. Make one of her student's lives a living hell? She will delete the memory of your only positive maternal figure, leaving you with nothing but years of torture and brainwashing to go on when it comes to your formative years.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Professor Xavier, Betsy Braddock, Jean Grey, and, once his powers come through, Harry, are all scrupulous about this. In Harry's case, it's in large part because he's terrified of going off the deep end, or — being enormously powerful and even after extensive tutoring, aware of how ignorant he is of the full scope of his powers — unconsciously/accidentally influencing those around him (particularly Carol, after their Psychic Link is established).
    • Other psychics, such as Voldemort, Sinister, and Maddie Pryor before her Heel–Face Turn, all don't subscribe to this mentality (in Maddie's case, she was raised to have Blue-and-Orange Morality by Sinister and genuinely didn't know), and demonstrate it, with the side-effects being described in lovingly horrific detail. For instance, Mind Rape is compared to actual rape (and psychic manners in general to physical consent), and the "Freaky Friday" Flip is, unusually, played for Nightmare Fuel.
    • A more morally grey example is provided by the Askani, who taught Xavier a lot of the fine detail of his powers, and while they're not villainous, are described as not being overly ethical when pursuing their own interests.
    • Xavier himself, as mentioned, is usually the gold standard for this trope, but when getting answers from Sinister he coldly threatens to "peel his [Sinister's] mind like an orange". Sinister, wisely, starts talking.
  • Down to Agincourt has a woman who's recently developed telepathy. She meets Castiel, who casually mentions that if she's been manipulating people with her powers, he'll kill her. In addition to being scared of him, she is appalled that anyone would suspect she might do such a thing.
  • Played with in In the Grim Darkness of the 41st Millennium, Nobody Beats G.I. Joe!: Meridian Septentrion, an Imperium sanctioned psyker, can't read minds, but many soldiers he encounters assume he can; he has a long history of people threatening him with bodily harm and death if he ever reveals their secrets, even though he doesn't know their secrets.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Men in Black:
    • In Men in Black, J is not happy with K being so trigger-happy with the Neuralizer and even asks at one point if K ever used it on him. K denies it, though we saw him use it on J at the beginning of the film.
    • In Men in Black II, J gets a reputation for neuralizing people recklessly, mostly his partners. He's had good reasons each time, though. Although from the looks of things in the first movie (specifically when they're in the morgue the first time), he learned it from K.
    • Averted in Men in Black 3, where the neuralizer is used frequently on large portions of the public and not treated as ethically problematic.
  • Subverted by Spock in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. We don't know what exactly he did to Valeris, but it clearly wasn't pleasant.
  • Jedi in Star Wars. Although played out as light teasing, Padmé asks Anakin if he intends to use a mind trick on her when she's reluctant to tell him about past boyfriends.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Traditionally, Professor Xavier is an absolute example of this, but not exclusively — X-Men: The Last Stand reveals that he messed with Jean's memories when she was a child to deal with the personality known as the Phoenix, which Logan calls him out on, and which eventually backfires spectacularly. X-Men: First Class presented a much younger, less disciplined Charles Xavier who had no problem using his powers on anyone whenever it was convenient for him. That being said, he doesn't go into personally private memories, promised Raven that he wouldn't read her mind, and asked for Erik's permission before searching for the brightest corner of his friend's memories — though he does erase Moira's memories, either to protect her following the events of Cuba or to demonstrate his power to the CIA and warn them to back off (or both).
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past has him grow out of this, learning to let go and let people make their own choices, Raven especially. Additionally, in X-Men: Apocalypse, he repudiates Apocalypse's plans to use his telepathy to completely violate every principle of this and restores Moira's memories with an apology.

  • The alien "Hydrans" in Joan D Vinge's Cat trilogy evolved with their powers, and this trope was a natural side effect. If a Hydran makes someone else unhappy, they feel unhappy. If they cause someone else pain, they feel pain. If they kill someone else, they die. This resulted in their civilization being positively Utopian... until humans showed up. At first, humans were overjoyed to have such nice neighbors, and by some quirk, they were even genetically compatible. Eventually, however, the Bastards among us realized that those fail-safes still applied — but only to Hydrans and Hydran/Human hybrids. Humanity simply took their entire civilization away from them, and they were unable to do anything about it.
  • The Culture: Culture Minds combine unfathomable processing power with machines that can manipulate matter on the subatomic level, essentially giving them total mind-reading and brainwashing powers. However, the Culture also respects individual privacy so much that actually using this power is the closest thing there is to a crime in the Culture and will result in the Mind being ostracized even if it was done for the greater good. By way of example, the one Mind we come across that has done so is the GCU Grey Area, which is now called Meatfucker by its peers.
  • Discussed repeatedly and at length in the Deryni books, mostly by author favorites Camber and Morgan. All Deryni have some psychic ability, though it's generally low-powered and limited to close range. The good guys prefer to get permission before hacking into someone's mind, but they often drop the ethics when they're in a hurry.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Any mind magic on others is Mind Rape, as the human psyche doesn't react well to being externally changed. Even neutralizing a heroin addiction is Black Magic. Then again, the White Council regards mind magic as a very, very grey area and just prohibits it altogether, just to be on the safe side.
    • It also seems to be legal to do diagnostic or corrective mental magic, providing you have the consent of the subject — for example, in one of the books, a passing reference is made to systematic attempts to pinpoint and reverse a villain's subtle mind control in members of an organization. Also, Harry himself has engaged in some mental sparring with his apprentice, so as to practice their mental defenses. Oh, and the laws of magic only apply to humans — Mind Rape on vampires or demons or whatever is totally fine.
    • The Senior Council do relax their restrictions on mind magic once they're convinced that it's a danger members are likely to face, but since very few general wizards on the Council know more than the bare minimum about mind magic to properly protect themselves, it's kinda half-assed. Harry does get a few older wizards to hand out a few of the tricks they're figured out over the years.
    • Demons and faeries and other such are protected by the sheer alienness of their minds. Try to read or manipulate the mind of a faerie and if you're very lucky you'll end up in the corner laughing at how everything is made of rainbows. (If you're unlucky, it will be something much nastier than rainbows.)
  • Firebird Trilogy:
    • The Sentinels have very strict, self-policed rules on how they are and are not allowed to use their telepathic powers. Penalties for violating the fundamental tenets of the Code range from having their powers blocked to execution. This Code keeps them "nice" and prevents the significantly more numerous non-telepathic people (among whom they live) from wiping them out due to mistrust.
    • The Shuhr, a branch of the Sentinel people that do not share the Sentinel's Christian faith, and hence also do not share their codes of conduct, show us exactly why the Sentinels need to police themselves. A dozen forms of Mind Rape, from implantation of compulsions to erasing and/or rewriting memories to looking through an unwitting victim's eyes are routine among them, and they keep their powers from fading with age by pureeing the brains of their cloned embryos and synthesizing a telepathy booster from the result.
  • Happy Jack Palmer from the Ghost Finders series refrains from intentionally reading others' minds, unless it's crucial for success in a mission for the Carnacki Institute. Played with in that while his team lets people believe it's for reasons of this trope, it's really because A) reading others' minds intrudes upon his psyche as much as theirs, leaving him uncertain which thoughts are his own; B) the setting is chock full of otherworldly threats and Beings that he'd rather block out than open his mind to sensing, for fear he'll Go Mad from the Revelation; and C) his Institute superiors threatened to lobotomize him if he didn't quit doing it.
  • Played with in Harry Potter; at least two teachers, Dumbledore and Snape, are known to be capable of Legilimency. There's no proof that either ever used it beyond the casual ability to intuit if they were being lied to, although Harry often worries that Snape can read minds. The only times the more invasive version is used is on a willing subject for the purposes of teaching defense against it, possibly on Kreacher by Dumbledore in Order of the Phoenix, and on Harry after he uses an unknown spell to defend himself against Malfoy and ends up nearly killing him in The Half-Blood Prince.
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • This is most of the drama in Arrow's Flight, but worse. Heralds in general would never dream of casually reading the thoughts and emotions of others, mainly because they've all been Chosen for their discretion and selflessness, and Talia is no exception — unfortunately, it takes a long time for anyone to realize that although her Mindspeech is weak, she's a very powerful Empath, and Empathy appearing on its own rather than as a secondary power to Healing is very rare. As a result, her training in controlling her power is woefully inadequate, and Talia really can't tell when she's influencing someone or when she's not.
    • Once she comes to full control of her Empathy, Talia develops her own sense of moral conduct with it, which is largely limited to those she considers to be good people. She openly uses Mind Rape against those few individuals she considers worthy of it, something that the other Heralds quiz her about, but accept her position on.
    • It's also discussed in By the Sword between Kerowyn and Eldan, who find they must reconcile their different attitudes toward their telepathy; Eldan comes from a culture in which such abilities are commonplace and governed by Heraldic ethics, while Kero has lived all her life in a culture in which being able to read others' thoughts is almost unheard of, compelling her to keep her Mindspeech a secret and refrain from using it any more than she can possibly help so as not to lose the trust of those around her.
    • The Collegium Chronicles and The Herald Spy follow Mags, the most powerful Mindspeaker of his generation, from his Choosing through his early Heraldic career. As Mags' powers grow, he is forced to confront situations in which the use of his telepathy may or may not be justified, from simple scanning of surface thoughts to actual mind probes of criminals. In Closer to Home his Companion Dallen takes on the responsibility of determining when Mags would be justified in taking over another's body, as Mags might worry too much about Jumping Off the Slippery Slope to take action when it really is needed — such as to prevent mass murder.
    • Companions, as angels, seem to have an Omniscient Morality License in that they read minds constantly and sometimes interfere — Eldan's Companion refuses to let Kero say he's a "spirit" by making her stutter as she approaches the word — without it being regarded as suspect. Only Elspeth ever seems to mind having them "snooping" in her head, and not for long. This license may also extend to any nonconsensual but helpful use of psychic powers — early in Arrow's Flight, Talia notices that Skif is suffering PTSD after a near-death experience and undoes his trauma without asking. This isn't questioned or regarded as anything but a loving and helpful gesture. In the Owl books, a dyheli stag reworks a traumatized teenager's mind so the kid is calm, curious, and happy to engage with his Hawkbrother rescuers. Another human protests that Tyrsell didn't ask first, and Tyrsell calmly says that Darian would have agreed if he had taken the time to explain, and anyway it's for the good of the child and the community so it's fine.
  • The tension between this trope and Mundane Utility forms most of the plot of How Like A God by Brenda W. Clough, and a lot of the rest is about tension between this and With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. Along the way, the protagonist hits every trope from Psychic-Assisted Suicide to (almost) raping someone. Then again, when he finds that There Is Another, he looks like a saint in comparison.
  • Subverted in Hush, Hush. Patch constantly commits Mind Rape on Nora, from talking to her telepathically to making her think she was falling from a roller coaster to her death.
  • InCryptid: Sarah actively tries to avoid messing with people's minds too much, though she will temporarily use her powers to get people to leave her alone or let her through security at an airport. In Calculated Risks, she asks all the people they bring back to Earth with them if they want to remember the last two days in Another Dimension or not, and only gives Laser-Guided Amnesia to those who give her permission. She also doesn't mess around in the Johrlac children's minds without their consent.
  • In Paradox, Eldritch customs strongly discourage the use of their telepathy, but in a subversion, most of their race aren't any more ethical than other people.
  • Quarters: Bards take vows not to misuse their powers. Those who don't abide by this are major villains. Normally too, becoming a trained bard means they can't use their powers for evil, since it changes them. Only those with incomplete or self-taught training become evil.
  • Discussed in Sisterland when Kate is dismayed to learn that her twin sister Violet has revealed that she has telepathy (something both of them have), as Violet predicts an earthquake is going to hit St. Louis. Kate feels annoyed that Violet is turning the situation into a media circus when she has no guarantee her vision is definitely going to happen, while Violet counters that if Kate had received the vision, she would have sat on the information and told no one and possibly endangered innocent people's lives to maintain her image as the perfect wife and mother.
  • The Betazoids in the Star Trek Novel 'Verse are usually shown as being like this. In the Star Trek: The Lost Era novel Well of Souls, the Betazoid Ven Kaldarren refuses to telepathically scan the shady characters he's travelling with, despite their highly unpleasant personalities. He later acknowledges he was foolish not to. Indeed, they're planning to kill him, and his son.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: Anyone capable of Telepathy, except the Dark Lord, will have sworn not to intrude in others' minds.
  • Tower and the Hive: A prerequisite of Talented parenting is to immediately stomp out negative tendencies in their offspring, to avoid later turns to the darkside and misuse of powers. For the most part, this works, and evil Talents are so rare as to almost never be mentioned. Rogue Talents do start popping up in later books. Apparently, the standard procedure is for a more powerful telepath to "mind-lock" their powers... which can have adverse side effects. The one time we see a hostile psychic being vastly more powerful than the main characters, they join their minds and crush its consciousness, killing it.
  • Subverted like hell in The Twilight Saga, where Edward Cullen reads the minds of everyone except for Bella, and that's because he literally can't read hers. In Midnight Sun (2020), he does say that he blocks people, but that's just because he finds them annoying (barring his family). He isn't bothered by mindreading anyone he wants and is pissed when he discovers that he can't know every little thing Bella is thinking.
  • Jack in The Vampire Files has to develop his own code of ethics for his mind-control powers after accidentally destroying someone's mind. He discusses with Escott how frightening it is to know he could make people do almost anything he wants, and either forget about it or be happy about it. In the sister series/prequel Jonathan Barrett, Gentleman Vampire Jonathan faces similar ethical questions, which he discusses with his father. Both protagonists realize that they must make use of their powers to some degree simply to live their lives in peace, but both try to minimize their use.
  • Doctor Tachyon in the Wild Cards series is a case of this trope being used exclusively to deal with telepathy being a Story-Breaker Power. As one of the Psi Lords of the planet Takis, Tachyon comes from a culture where telepathic aristocrats such as himself are considered to be entitled to read (and control) the minds of non-telepaths. Indeed, they do so frequently both to maintain rulership over society and to try to avoid the frequent assassination attempts that are part of their culture. Yet during most of the series (set on Earth), Tachyon almost never reads the minds of those around him, which allows many of his alleged "friends" to engage in all kinds of misbehavior. One of them was even secretly abusing Emotion Control powers, and Tachyon wasn't noticing because he was studiously not looking.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Psi Corps of Babylon 5 have a fairly strict set of guidelines determining when they can read people's minds and how deep they can go under what circumstances. Sometimes they even follow it. Sometimes not.
  • In Heroes, telepathic "scanner cop" Matt Parkman initially uses his mind-reading powers to fight crime, but after he evolves the ability to completely control the minds of others, he becomes much more reluctant to use his powers at all, to the point that by Volume 5, he's categorized his ability as a drug and has even checked himself into an AA group.
  • Legion (2017): In "Chapter 22", Charles Xavier explains to Gabrielle that he doesn't dig too deeply when he reads other people's minds because he wishes to respect their privacy. However, he does skim their surface thoughts without permission.
    Charles: I can hear thoughts. Memories. But it occurred to me that there should be rules. People deserve their privacy. So I don't pry when I'm in there.
  • Evie from Out of This World (1987) needed to borrow an ESP power to help with a fundraiser. Because she is a bit young, she has a bit of trouble not commenting on the private thoughts of others, and later needed to procure a magician to lend Plausible Deniability to her trick.

    Video Games 
  • Golden Sun:
    • Averted by Ivan, who has no sense of boundaries when it comes to his Mind Reading and in fact is eager to corner some guys in their room at the inn because he thinks they might be behind the recent thefts. However, Garet's objections to having his mind read by Ivan hint that Adepts normally do care about manners, and that Ivan is a special case since he had Muggle Foster Parents and no way of learning Psynergy etiquette. This never comes up in the gameplay; if an NPC objects to having their mind read, they'll just tell you so.
    • Some 30 years later, however, it's said he no longer likes having that power, possibly to explain why his daughter doesn't have it. Much later in the game, you can use a power that works much the same.
  • Alice from Moonrise may or may not have the ethics to fulfill this trope. It's up to player interpretation.
  • Touhou Project: This is a problem for the entire satori race, as they are compelled to voice the thoughts they read without stopping to consider how personal they may be. Koishi permanently closed her own third eye, thus eliminating her own mind-reading power, in order to avoid that sort of hate her blabbermouth sister Satori earned. It succeeded far too well, closing off her heart/mind so she no longer has thoughts or feelings, and it's impossible for other people to care about or even remember her).

    Web Originals 
  • In Chakona Space, skunktaurs are taught to be like this from cubhood.
  • Used in FreakAngels. Part of the titular mutants' code of honor is not to use their mind-control powers on others, and a great deal of drama comes from asking what the difference is between brainwashing others of traumatizing experiences (as Sirkka does) and brainwashing them into doing your bidding (as Mark and Luke do).
  • Averted by the Adar race of Tales From My D&D Campaign, who incorporated their racial gift for psionics into their daily society to such a degree that bargaining, courtship, and even simple communication became Mind Rape when they tried to interact with members of other species (who lacked the Adar "mental immune system").
  • Played straight in Tales of MU with the telepathic priestess Dee. Subverted with "delicate blossom" Violet, who was raised by hippies and has no sense of boundaries.
  • Most of the Psis in the Whateley Universe, particularly really powerful Psis like Fubar. At the Whateley Academy, there's even required material on the ethics of psychic powers (which the unethical like Don Sebastiano ignore).

    Western Animation 
  • Explicitly brought up in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. The team psionic, Niko, comes from a sanctuary world that is not on any map or chart. Their highest law is "One's mind belongs to one's self".
  • Martian Manhunter in Justice League. Intriguingly, his exposure to human thoughts and attitudes later in the first series causes J'onn's rather pleasant, calm demeanor to break down somewhat. Apparently, Martians were just not the type to keep secrets, and the deceitfulness of humanity is something of a shock for him, which leads to him strongly disliking humans later on.
  • Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles: Dizzy Flores is claustrophobic, which hurts her on a mission where The Squad has to go bug-hunting in an underground cavern. Carl, the team psychic, uses his powers to remove her claustrophobia, but not before debating the issue (since he's never had to do something like that before and was worried that complications might arise). He doesn't have problems mind-raping enemy Brain Bugs, however.
  • Double-subverted in Steven Universe once the title character learns he can take control of people's bodies in his sleep. At first, he has no problem using it because it only seems to work on Watermelon Stevens, who he was helping with an emergency and would probably do whatever he told them anyway. Then Steven accidentally possesses Lars and decides to use it to get Lars to admit he loves Sadie. When that goes predictably terrible, Steven regrets his actions and never possesses a human again.
  • Sushi Pack: Part of Maguro's powers includes mind reading and mild mind control (usually just to calm someone down). She rarely uses these on anyone other than her own teammates, although she did use mind control to make a museum director hang some of Tako's art.
  • Brought up occasionally in X-Men: Evolution. While Charles does occasionally mind wipe to keep mutants a secret, moral use of the powers are incredibly important. In one episode where Jean loses control, she accidentally reads Rogue's mind and immediately apologizes profusely for it.
  • Played for Drama in X-Men: The Animated Series. A flashback showing a young Charles Xavier has him read the mind of his step-brother Cain Marko (pre-Juggernaut), and discover that he thinks his father loves Charles more than himself. Charles tries to assure him that's not the case, but this clues Cain in that Charles is a mutant.
  • Young Justice (2010) explores this in different ways. M'Gann casually uses telepathy early on because she does not realize her humans friends would find it disturbing since it's completely normal on Mars. She manages to learn when it is or is not appropriate to use on her allies, but in "Image" uses it to knock them out in a desperate moment to hide her Dark Secret, and then Mind Rapes a psychic villain into a coma. By season two she has thrown the ethics out the window, willing to do the same to other villains when it helps a mission, and even alter her friends memories to her own advantage. This callousness eventually leads her to damage one of her friends' minds very badly, after which she seems determined to play this trope straight.