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Mirror Morality Machine

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"You want to know a secret? Vlad's mind control device was flawed in two ways. One very small and one, well, very very big. Here's the small one, it doesn't actually control minds but simply replaces their personality with an angry, aggressive one. So it's not like he could build some conquering army or anything. In fact, he had NO real control over anyone affected by his machine. Take me, for example. I have no compulsion to serve Vlad Plasimus. And I've grown rather fond of smashing things and people and such!"

Usually, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is standard...but what if you could make them join you? This is what a lot of Saturday-Morning Cartoon villains have thought, anyway, and use a spell, artifact, or machine that can invert the target's morality like a mirror. The hero subject to the Mirror Morality Machine will suffer an instant Face–Heel Turn and go over to the bad guy's side. The Character Alignment of the hero will go from Good to Evil and Lawful to Chaotic. Alternately, it may simply "suppress" his conscience and give his ego free rein to do whatever mischief he wants. Usually this results in cheeky but harmless misanthropic antics, despite the villain's darker intentions.

Usually the effects of the machine will have a time limit, after which its effects will wear off and the hero has to clear his name for all the things he's done. However, his Side Kick will usually stop him before he does anything really bad and reverse the effects...or the bad guy will do it voluntarily because the hero is a better villain than he is. This applies when the machine is not an Instant Allegiance Artifact, and the hero-turned-villain turns on his boss.

Of course, this being a morality-reversing ray, if the hero turns it on the villain, the villain will spend the rest of the episode as a contrite, cheerful, and helpful soul. Sadly, It Only Works Once, and the heroes can't keep dosing the bad guy - something about it being "immoral" or something. Most of the time.

The artifact version is Instant Allegiance Artifact. The amnesia-induced versions are Criminal Amnesiac (Face/Heel) and Amnesiacs are Innocent (Heel/Face). Compare Morality Dial.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Akazukin Chacha: "Red Riding Hood" Chacha does this repeatedly to an assortment of good guys and villains. Evilness is (usually) visually signified by black and purple eye makeup, which vanishes if a person is de-eviled.
  • In a world so ruled by moral binarity as the one of Avesta of Black and White, when the true power of Everyone's Hero, the wielder of the archdemon Aka Manah, is revealed to be able to reverse the morality of everyone tied to a star spirit, the results are nothing short of devastating. As everyone can determine someone else's moral alignment by just a glance, chaos erupts as friends are suddenly enemies while others succumb to insanity or commit suicide as the idea of undergoing a change in morality is just that revolting.
  • Bleach: Can't Fear Your Own World: The Visored Shinji Hirako's Bankai, Sakashima Yokoshima Happo Fusagari. Upon activating, the affiliations and alignments of everyone around him are reversed. While this makes it useful for One-Man Army situations with Shinji as the one man... that's basically all it's good for, as his allies would just become more enemies. Nor is it very useful in a one v. one scenario, especially if his opponent is the type who doesn't care about Friendly Fire.
  • Fairy Tail has the Nirvana superweapon, which does this in Wave-Motion Gun form. Even the energy bleed-off is enough to affect some people if they are emotionally unbalanced enough, such as Sherry turning vengeful when she thought Lyon died in a Heroic Sacrifice against Racer or when Hoteye underwent a Heel–Face Brainwashing after being reminded of his missing brother by Jura. Nirvana is later revealed to operate on the principal of Equivalent Exchange, as when the old Nirvits sought to end tragedies by turning the darkness of the outside world to light, the same amount of darkness was fused into the Nirvits and cause them to destroy themselves.
  • Pokémon: The Original Series: The second season episode "Pikachu Re-Volts!" has Butch and Cassidy using a machine powered by a Drowzee to send out Mind Control waves, to make Pokémon attack their trainers, which includes of course Pikachu himself. Obviously the effect wears out once the machine is destroyed and Drowzee knocked out.
  • Sailor Moon has versions of this in the first, second, and fifth seasons - which are not 100% effective when used on the main characters: Tuxedo Mask, Chibiusa and Uranus/Neptune respectively.
  • The Slayers OVA "Mirror, Mirror" had the Shadow Reflector, a device that creates a double of anyone reflected in it with an inverted personality who is loyal to the person who held the mirror when it was created. Unfortunately, instead of creating an Evil Twin like the villain hoped for, it just reverses all their character traits, resulting in a Lina Inverse double who is a sniveling humanitarian.
  • Soul Eater has one of these in the form of Arachnaphobia's creatively named 'Morality Manipulation Machine'. It's exact use in the anime and manga differs. In the anime, a large network of them are used for a World-Wrecking Wave with the goal of directly making people go insane. In the manga it fits more in this trope, causing Kim and Jackie to have issues with inhibitions and moral dilemmas like 'not trying to kill friends with fire'.

    Comic Books 
  • The Fantastic Four villain, the Wizard, has a gizmo like this (he doesn't use it that often). He once used it to turn the Thing bad, but of course it didn't last. Decades later, he used it to turn the reformed Sandman back into a bad guy.
    • One reason he doesn't use it more often (although it'd been around for a while by that point) is that he tried it on the Thing again shortly after Johnny Storm's wedding. However, by that time the Thing had gotten Darker and Edgier—essentially, he was already enough of a "bad person" that the device had no effect. It also may not have helped that the Wizard was about to use it on Franklin Richards.
  • 50s-vintage Captain America fell afoul of the evil Soviet scientist Stanoff and his Virus of Evil. The virus turned Cap into a clueless-liberal Soviet apologist.
    • This one ended up getting parodied in an issue of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl where people were telling made-up tales about the titular heroine: the old lady's Squirrel Girl story involves the titular character saving Captain America from getting turned into a pro-totalitarianism nutcase (complete with "totalitarianism is totalitarily great!" shirt) by removing the tiny wings on the head of his costume, which were actually a pair of radios mind-controlling him. She also mentioned an earlier adventure where Cap got a similar mind-control chemical on his hands, and SG ended up curing him by tricking him into washing them.
  • AXIS revolves around a force of evil that has inverted the moralities of many heroes and villains alike. Tony Stark, for example, reverted to the selfish, womanizing, militaristic asshole he was before he became Iron Man. Loki, who'd been struggling to be a better person, became an insufferable Smug Super with no guilt. Carnage became an Anti-Hero with an F in Good, and so forth.
  • One old Superman comic had a professor create a ray that could make good dominant in a person and Vice versa. Wouldn't you know it, he zapped Lois Lane with it while the ray was set to evil and suddenly she's a dyed-in-the-wool supervillain who loudly proclaims how evil she is.

  • The early Doc Savage stories had the titular Doc rehabilitate criminals through "delicate brain surgery." You can sure as hell bet that wasn't in the later versions.
  • Villains by Necessity: The major unethical act of the main "good" wizard in this story is to invent a spell which brainwashes the evil out of villains, as seen early on. At the end we learn it may be temporary once Evil comes into the world once again.
  • The Wheel of Time has a magical method of turning channelers to the Dark Side against their will using 13 Black sorceresses channeling through 13 Myrddraal. This causes previously good characters to realize that Evil Feels Good and start serving the Shadow; moreover, in perfect deference to this trope, it makes them exactly as ardently devoted to the Dark One as they previously were to the Light (which means that morally ambiguous characters are less effected). It is not known if this process is reversible, but the implication is that it isn't. Characters who know victims of this process very well note that something is slightly off about the person's mannerisms, as if they'd been replaced with an almost perfect evil doppelganger, and one person who was rescued before the process was completed was mostly the same, but with fewer moral qualms.
  • In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots, in the Back Story, this was accidentally and gradually done by one of the first superheroes to the other two: no one knew that she drained goodness as well as beauty out of her surroundings.
  • Spock Must Die!: In this early Star Trek novel, a machine used by the Klingons to suppress the Organians has the side effect of creating a mirror version of Spock, right down to the molecular level. Curiously, this biological mirroring also reverses Spock's allegiance, making him a Klingon agent.
  • Moongobble and Me: Book 3 features a jewel called "the Queen's Belly Button", which makes good people turn nasty (and is what made the titular "Evil Elves" be evil). It's possible, though difficult, to fight off the effects with a lot of concentration and focusing on the things that are good in your life. Edward is able to beat it by remembering how he rescued his father, which his bad side isn't able to counter.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog gamebook "The Zone Zapper" features the titular invention by Robotnik, which turns good things evil and vice-versa. Tails gets zapped, turning him into a Badnik, but a Grabber Badnik also gets zapped too, turning him into Sonic's temporary ally Catcher.

    Live Action TV 
  • Played with on The Mentalist. When Patrick Jane's former psychiatrist asks for his help, he and the CBI agents investigate a murder at a college campus. Jane meets with a group of researchers who are investigating human morality by testing a machine on human subjects. The machine sends impulses to the morality center of the brain, which the researchers believe will turn "evil" on and off at their discretion. Jane finds out that the machine does nothing, and the results have been falsified to keep the head researcher funneling money into the university. Jane's gambit near the end is to make the team believe that they have succeeded. Jane's psychiatrist friend uses the machine on him to turn him evil, but doesn't turn him back, so when Jane takes a gun and confronts the chancellor of the university, everyone not in on the con believes that he will kill because he has no morality to keep him from doing it. He shoots his friend (with blanks, of course), causing the murderer to confess in a panic.
  • In the two-part story Ali Baba, the titular villain kidnaps Professor Nabakov and, when Electra Woman and Dyna Girl catch up with them, uses his Metamorphose formula to turn Judy evil.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation two parter "Descent", Lore manages to convince Data to join his evil plot by deactivating Data's ethical program.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager two parter "Equinox", the Equinox crew shut down the EMH's ethical subroutines, making him quite happy to torture Seven, while trying to continue the conversation they were having before.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Tikka to Ride", Lister deactivates Kryten's morality chip. This is purely to make him go along with a plan to misuse time travel in the pursuit of curry, but it leads to Kryten doing a number of other immoral things, such as cooking a human body and feeding it to his biological crewmates. It doesn't seem to have a noticeable effect on his general behaviour, though.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Flash Gordon comic strip once had a storyline in which Ming the Merciless invented a device along these lines, which was turned on him in the end; he became a cheerful, friendly individual (with hair!) who immediately agreed to become Prince Barin's "guest". The effect actually lasted a considerable period of time, allowing the writers to take Flash on a variety of different, non-Ming-related adventures for a while.
  • Bloom County's Steve Dallas had his brain "Gephardtized" by aliens, turning him from a womanizing, conservative Jerkass to a kind, sensitive new age guy. He also lost his trademark sunglasses for the duration of the transformation.
    Milo: What are those things on his face?
    Opus: What things?
    Milo: Those brown, thoughtful globs!
    Opus: His eyes!

    Tabletop RPG 
  • There was a Dungeons & Dragons item called the Helm Of Opposite Alignment that did this to whoever wore it. What makes the helm dangerous is that it isn't a temporary effect - the alignment change is permanent even after the helm is removed. What's more, even though the victim usually knows what happened, the change is thorough enough that they enjoy their new alignment and view the prospect of going back to their old ways with horror.
    • In the first edition Dungeons and Dragons, Oriental Adventures supplement, the spell Compel allowed the shukenja casting it to change the alignment of the target creature to whatever he wished, including the exact opposite.
    • The Book of Exalted Deeds has a spell called Sanctify the Wicked that traps an evil being in crystal and forces them to undergo evil-eradicating therapy over the course of a whole year. Once the spell ends, the creature is now good, having all their evil (and evil abilities, if any) trimmed away and replaced with goodness (plus some level adjustment, even if it lost more stuff than it gained). This even works on Always Chaotic Evil beings like demons.
      • Its sister supplement, The Book of Vile Darkness, has the spell Morality Undone, which turns a character or creature evil. The spell's description specifies that they don't turn against their friends instantly, but it does make spells like Suggestion or Charm Person much more flexible (those spells only let you suggest actions that are within a person's nature).
    • A certain mace in D&D requires its wielder to roll Will saves or become chaotic evil. It also requires being bathed in blood every day or else it stops having any magic effects. And when you realize that a mace is a cleric's weapon...
    • One of the cards in the Deck of Many Things is Balance, which instantly flips the morality of whoever drew the card, turning evil characters good, chaotic characters lawful, and vice versa. It has no effect on True Neutral characters.

    Video Games 
  • NetHack, being loosely based on Dungeons & Dragons, also included the Helm of Opposite Alignment, although it's not permanent in this game. Though nine times out of ten the actions of a lawful character and a chaotic character are the same anyways, unless you make a habit of using poisoned weapons. The main effect of switching alignment is to lose all your divine protection (permanently, because the gods are jerks), and to allow you to use altars of a different alignment.
  • The Mind Electric, a text adventure game, centered around your attempts to escape from such a machine. The final reveal was that both sides in a war had built such a machine and nobody can remember what the war was ever about.
  • Perfect Dark has the Psychosis Gun, which essentially polarizes the morality of Mooks to make them sidekicks.
  • Eiki Shiki from Touhou Project has "Judgment - Cleansed Crystal Judgment," her spell card in which she uses a mirror that reflects the player character's sins. The result? Your reflection attacks you. Though this is explanatory; with Eiki being a supreme judge of Hell, she is a sentient morality machine herself, so having a mirror with this function makes sense.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Legion's loyalty mission has Shepard's crew travelling to a base of the "heretic" geth (the ones that serve the Reapers), where they're creating a virus that will reprogram all the "true" geth (the ones that just want to be left alone) into becoming heretics themselves. Shepard can choose to either destroy the base and the virus with it, or re-purpose the virus and use it against the heretics, reprogramming them back into true geth.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Beast Wars episode "Dark Designs," this was how Megatron turned Rhinox evil. Fortunately, it could undo itself, which Megatron was grateful for when Rhinox turned out to be more dangerous to him that way.
    • And then, in The Transformers, there was Megatron's "personality destabilizer device" from "Day of the Autobots," which turned nearly all of the Autobots evil, until their human sidekicks worked up a reversal device.
    • Megatron has a loooooooong history of these things, since "The Secret of Omega Supreme" reveals he had one about nine million years ago, inaptly christened the Robo-Smasher, what with it not actually smashing anything. He used it to corrupt the then-good Constructicons, and then tried to use it on Omega Supreme. Omega managed to destroy it halfway through his own reprogramming, with the effect of turning him permanently into a Tin Man (pardon the double-meaning) with anger issues. Megs apparently was never able to rebuild the sucker.
  • One of these appears in Kim Possible. Specifically, it switches Ron's and Doctor Drakken's morality; Ron becomes a much more competent villain than Drakken ever was, and Drakken becomes nice. A later episode upgrades it to a straight morality reversing ray, resulting in people's alignments getting flipped left and right. No villain-Kim though... fortunately.
    Ron: Boo-ya-ha-HA-HAAA!
    Kim: Not again...
    Hego: What's wrong with him?
    Shego: I think he's evil now.
    Hego: Oh. How bad could that be?
    Shego: You'd be surprised...
  • Done on Xiaolin Showdown - going to the Yin-Yang World with either the Yin Yo-Yo or Yang Yo-Yo, but not both combined, switches the morality of the user upon re-entry to the "real" world.
    • It was hilariously abused in one episode, when Kimiko and Wuya fought in Showdown using one of each yo-yo. They were changing alignments so much and so fast it's a miracle they come out with their original personalities at the end.
      • Slightly subverted when once the Showdown ends, it is revealed that Wuya had the Reversing Mirror in her possession the entire time, implying that she was faking whenever she supposedly came out good.
    • When Omi is mirrored, he seems mostly interested fighting for its own sake. Chase Young comments that "Omi's dark side doesn't seem to be all that... dark.".
    • After using the Yang Yo-Yo, Jack Spicer is nice to the point of being annoying to the protagonists, and later voluntarily uses the Yin Yo-Yo to help his new friends, even though he knows it will turn him evil again.
  • Xiaolin Chronicles has its version of the Reversing Mirror, the Hansu Mirror, capable of inverting morality on its own anyone reflected who looks at their reflection in it. It turns Jack into a zen pacifist who's so charismatic he soon builds a cult around his new way of life.
  • SilverHawks has a cosmic alignment reverse the heroes' and villains' morality, which results in Mon*Star and his gang using The Power of Friendship (or better teamwork compared to the now squabbling and villainous SilverHawks) to beat them and put the SilverHawks behind bars! Amusingly, Mon*Starr and his gang grow bored of not having any more bad guys to catch, and then the effects wear off and they start their petty crimes again with the SilverHawks safely behind bars.
  • Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot: Grizzle accidentally created one of these. He sent a robot with an Eraser Ray down to Care-a-Lot to get rid of the Care Bears' belly badges, but instead, the ray flipped the badges, making the bears only care about their personality trait, causing them all to fight with each other instead of getting along.
    • The Care-Bear Stare itself acts as this from time to time, filling the target with good feelings that make them forget their evil ways. It wears off after a while, apparently.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Dr. Doofenshmirtz created a Turn-Everything-Evil-inator in order to make Perry the Platypus his ally in "Day of the Living Gelatin." Perry turned out to be too nimble to be hit, but a number of other things were hit, including a bar of soap, a toothbrush, and a swimming pool full of grape and curry flavored gelatin.
    • Also, the Misbehavinator from "Got Game?" ended up being one of these, though probably not intentionally. Created to make the other dogs at a dog show misbehave, it also made Buford (accidentally hit by it) admit to Isabella that he was wrong, prompting Ferb to comment, "That was completely out of character."
    • Later Doofenshmirtz builds an "Ultimate-Turn-Everything-Evil-inator" to try to turn Major Monogram evil, but accidentally hits Carl instead. Given that Carl is the one who actually does things in the O.W.C.A. while Monogram just issues orders, this turns out to be worse.
    • In "Bullseye!", Phineas and Ferb's dad Lawrence accidentally stumbles into a contest to choose the absolute leader of the mad scientist group L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N. He gets his butt kicked in the first two contests, but then gets hit by Doofenshmirtz's Turn-Everything-Evil-Inator (either that or "Rodney" von Roddenstein's Turn-Everything-Evil-Izer) and sweeps the "Evil Glaring" competition.
    • One last one, from Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars: "Darthenshmirtz" creates a Sith-inator, which was actually designed to just make himself more evil and powerful. Instead, it hits Ferb.
  • BIONICLE: The evil scientist Makuta, Mutran, created mutant Shadow Leeches so that they can drain a target's moral light. Takanuva was partially affected, but still retained his moral self and the additional powers over shadow. Fortunately, all those affected were cured by the screech of a bat-like Klakk
  • An Earthworm Jim episode featured a device that created an opposite duplicator. Evil Jim tries to create an evil Five-Man Band out of Jim's True Companions, but finds out the inherent problems with it when Action Girl Princess Whatshername becomes a useless evil Valley Girl, mild-mannered Peter Puppy (who transforms into a rampaging beast) becomes a sociopath who turns into a Gentle Giant, and Evil Jim ends up getting hit numerous times, creating an army of Jims.
  • The Cat Catcher in Cat City is this. It is a huge metallic bulldog that eats mean, wild, murderous, mouse-eating cats and shits cute, peaceful kittens. In the sequel we learn that the bows on the cats' tails are responsible for the change.
  • McNasty's "Mean Machine" in Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw. The effects can be reversed simply by telling the afflicted person I Love You, or in the case of McNasty I Hate You.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Twilight Sparkle mentions having access to at least a few "Reform Spells" in "Keep Calm and Flutter On". Thankfully, at least when you consider the potential of such a thing and especially what happened the last time Twilight screwed with ponies' minds, Discord eats the pages from her books that contain the spells.
  • PJ Masks has Romeo's "Opposite Ray", which turns heroes into villains and vice versa. Catboy and Owlette are hit with it and become villains. Towards the end, Romeo is zapped and becomes a hero, much to his henchman robot's dismay, so Gekko (and his reverted teammates) had to reverse the effects on him.