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Mutant Draft Board

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"You know what's more interesting than that? Apostates. Mages outside of the tower. That's illegal, you know."
Alistair, Dragon Age: Origins

As humans evolve, some will start showing abilities that will scare the living snot out of the normal people around them. If enough of these people are walking around, you can be sure the normal population will demand a government organization dedicated to observing and controlling these evolved people.

This organization's first act will be to make damn sure that every one of these evolved people is a member of said organization whether they want to be or not.

At one level this makes some sense. The sudden presence of telepaths, telekinetics, teleporters, phasers, etc. could throw society into chaos as long held concepts of privacy and security might be in danger of being thrown onto the scrap heap. But the new organization will almost always go overboard as it was initially formed out of panic. The normals who control the organization will start to see the supers as weapons or tools to be exploited. Eventually an organization composed mainly of superhuman mutants may start looking at the normals around it as an impediment to their natural supremacy. Things will go rapidly downhill from there.

There will be mutants who will want no part of this organization, seeking only to live their lives in peace. As if they will be given the choice. The organization will hunt down every mutant it can find to bring into the fold. Those who refuse can look forward to imprisonment, death or life on the run, except for those few who completely renounce the use of their powers.

Even though they coerce superhumans into working for them, the Mutant Draft Board is not always portrayed as completely evil. It is not uncommon for the superpowered individuals to end up working for the Board willingly, though often with reservations about their manipulative commanders.

See the Cape Busters for an organization of non-supers attempting to wage a war against supers. See Fantastic Recruitment Drive for a cuddlier variant. See Superhuman Trafficking for cases where supers are exploited rather than merely monitored and regulated.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Scryed has HOLY, an organization composed of people called Alter Users who control matter with willpower. Many Alter Users seek sanctuary in the Lost Ground outside HOLY's control.
  • In Darker than Black, both The Syndicate, the Pandora Institute and most governmental intelligence agencies are competing versions of this trope, each trying to get their mitts on as many contractors as they can while keeping them out of the others' hands. All of them have pretty much gone into 'contractors are living weapons' territory from day one — which is frankly true. In the end it turns out they all work for the UN to keep the contractors divided and fighting each other until the time comes when they can be... dealt with. Evening Primrose is the supremacist-run version of this trope, and oppose the UN.
  • The Back Story of Hyobu Kyosuke, the apparent Big Bad of Psychic Squad, involves him being a member of such an organization. He had a Start of Darkness when the organization tried to get rid of him; he still has the bullet wound on his forehead.
    • In the current era, it's not a draft board per se, but a Super Registration Act is enforced, and powerful espers are essentially shut out of society unless they join BABEL (or similar organizations in other countries). In the manga, Kyosuke gets around this by taking over a country to give PANDRA similar legal status so the PANDRA children can go to school.
    • It turned out that Hyobu and Fujiko joined ESP unit as children willingly. Through looking at their alternatives and how much espers were hated these days, they didn't have much choice.
  • Digimon Data Squad has Digimon-and-human-partner teams as part of DATS. Anyone else who sees a Digimon is given Laser-Guided Amnesia, and any 'mon in the human world who isn't with the program is reconfigured (reverted to Digi-Egg form, likely to remember nothing of their previous lives when hatching) and sent back to the Digital World. The main protagonist is with the group purely because it's join or suffer this fate, and most aren't even given that option. (Mind you, in practice, most Digimon who show up are more like the Wild Ones from Digimon Tamers, and most humans who get mixed up with them wind up abusing the 'mon's power in a The Dark Side sorta way, with an acceptable desire running wild. Your average Monster of the Week is someone who didn't need to be running around town and your average human influenced by them is either better off without them or someone who was bad enough before they had someone who could spit lightning bolts as muscle. Your average episode is not about mean nasty ol' DATS trying to break up A Boy and His X duos, but it can happen.)
  • In Rising × Rydeen the main character is part of a government organization that recruits strangers, people with superpowers, to fight other strangers, called outlaws, who use their powers for evil.
  • World Trigger: Averted with Border, which, despite its small staff size and the massive responsibility of protecting mankind from the Neighbors, is basically application-only. (It helps that possessing worthwhile Trion isn't itself dangerous without a Trigger, and Border monopolizes all Triggers on earth.) On the other hand, is actually the goal of the Neighbors, who abduct and enslave humans with sufficiently strong Trion to supplement their armies in the never-ending Neighborhood wars.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • How optional it is to join the X-Men varies among interpretations including some where Professor X is consciously or unconsciously mind controlling the members to keep them from leaving "for their own good".
      • When the X-Men first met the Blob, Xavier ordered his students to attack him when he refused to join them. Then telepathically erased Blob's memory of the group. That doesn't get mentioned nowadays.
    • Also worth noting that the competing form of this was invoked in the New Mutants series between the New Mutants and the Hellfire Club school and its Hellions. The conflict was largely introduced when Xavier and Emma were feuding over who got Kitty Pryde.
    • Usually they keep it strictly voluntary. In the sense that they will not stop sending people to bother a new mutant until he or she agrees to join out of reason, desperation, fear, or sheer annoyance. (For one issue.)
      • Many versions do keep it voluntary, however; Ultimate X-Men has Professor Xavier asking characters no more than once if they would like to join up, then leaving them completely alone, even when they've fought alongside them in the past (Dazzler is a good example). He only seems to insist that they stick around if they've actually been official members of the team for some time (such as Beast). In the X-Men's second incarnation, Professor Xavier is seen offering several characters a chance to join up (including Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine), and although they all accept, nothing indicates he would have pestered them had they not done so. (In the case of Nightcrawler, for example, he isn't even physically present).
    • When you give teens bulletproof uniforms and send them to fight giant robots you're just asking for trouble.
    • During one of the X-Men and Runaways crossovers they had a Let's You and Him Fight over taking Molly back to the Academy before they remembered that they aren't actually supposed to force people to go.
    • Usually, it is totally voluntary: the X-Men will try to convince you, and those who fought alongside them get offered a permanent spot every time they reappear, but we don't see long-term hounding of kids who woke up with powers one day—not ever. X-Men come and go all the time and are left to their own devices. Also, once Xavier's goes public with the X-Men's identities and the school's nature (against their will; Cassandra Nova impersonated Xavier and outed them) you get a situation similar to the films, where there are zillions of students that are there to learn their powers as well as well as reading, writing, and 'rithmetic, but are not in the superheroing biz.
    • A villainous pre-2000s example is the African island nation of Genosha, which has compensated for the barren worthlessness of its actual island by literally enslaving its mutant population to use their powers "For the Greater Good". Mutants are branded on the forehead with identifying numbers, forced to wear brightly colored sealed bio-support suits that they can't ever remove in order to be readily identified, held in isolated prison-camps when not performing slave labor, at the mercy of a Mad Scientist called the Genegineer who will forcibly rewrite their genetic code to make their powers take on more "useful" forms, Mind Raped into docility, and subject to rampant abuse of every kind apart from sexual. And that's only because their suits don't let them have sex; the Genegineer instead takes genetic material from all of the mutant slaves to create future generations of slave Designer Babies in his Uterine Replicators. The Genoshans argue that this is essential to keep the mutants from rising up and killing them all. Guess what happens when the brutalized slaves are forcibly freed?
  • During the widely-panned Civil War event, badly-derailed heroes such as Tony Stark and Reed Richards (who had single-handedly thwarted a previous attempt to implement the same system!) tried to enforce one of these for everybody with superpowers, regardless of status as a hero, villain, or civilian. Potential draftees were given the choices of joining or being held in the Negative Zone until they agreed. It did not end well at all. Oddly enough, the X-Men stayed out of the issue completely, on the basis that no other superheroes gave a damn when it was them being threatened with registration. Or genocide.
    • The Initiative series is about the program enacted after Civil War that takes people with superpowers and either makes them join or does its best to remove their powers. And the guy running it looks like Skeletor, because that's the face of an organization you can trust.
  • Averted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight. While Buffy's Slayer organization tries to persuade new Slayers to join, they don't force them to do so, and allow them to slay independently or as an extracurricular activity. They're less nice about Slayers who misuse their powers, like Simone or Gigi, of course.
  • A relatively benevolent form appears in Judge Dredd - any and all psychics found are rounded up and enrolled in the Academy of Law so that their powers can be used to fight crime. Those that fail to qualify are allowed to live as normal citizens, but must register as psychics.
  • Defied in PS238. The title is the name of Public School 238 — a super-hero-run school, devoted entirely to raising metahuman children. When the school's representatives are dragged in front of the Senate, at least one senator raises doubts about how the school won't end up like this, and the representative takes time to explain how that's not the case. It's repeatedly shown over the course of the comic that PS238 is no more indoctrinating than most normal public schools (if anything it's even less so). Later in the comic the school gets an Evil Counterpart in the private Praetorian Academy, which is a lot closer to this trope.
    • The book comes back to the concept quite often - The Rainmaker, who was the product of one and has been on the run for years because of it, thinks PS238 is just more of the same and strikes against it because of that.

    Fan Works 
  • A slightly different example in Pokéumans - recruitment into the Pokeuman or Pokextinction organisations is not enforced by the government, because the government don't know they exist, but rather by the organisations themselves. This, however, is because the public would freak out if they knew people were turning into Pokemon, and the ancient war that caused the whole thing would happen all over again. Could be a rare case of a beneficial example, but the fact that You Can't Go Home Again has cause no end of personal drama.

    Films — Animated 
  • The NSA (in this case meaning "National Supers Agency") from The Incredibles is another example of a benevolent version of this trope, since they take Supers and give them a common altruistic objective, equipment, training, and a support network, while largely respecting their autonomy. When superheroes were outlawed, they were reorganized to provide a means of allowing Supers to quietly reintegrate into normal society, particularly cleaning up after breaches of the Masquerade and relocating the Supers and their families in such event.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Push practically exemplifies this trope to the letter; it's the entire basis of the movie.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Jedi Order zig-zags this trope. Jedi recruiters are sent out to find and take custody of infant Sensitives, who are then raised in the Order. The Jedi think of it as adoption. The opinions of those they're adopting from vary, some parents want nothing to do with their Force Sensitive children and some consider it an honor to surrender a child to the Order, even knowing they will never see or hear from the child again. Not all Force users are expected to join it, and the parents do have the ability to refuse. This is part because of a belief that being Force Sensitive in and of itself is taken as a sign the child is supposed to be with the Order, and part as a way to protect Sensitives from exploitation, abuse, Power Incontinence, or (in some eras) Sith. Once the child is of age leaving is allowed, though very few have. Busts of the "Lost Twenty," Jedi Masters who have (legitimately) left over the thousand generations of the Order's existence are kept within the library. Of course, Dark Jedi and Sith aren't counted as having left "legitimately", and no information is given on Knights or Padawans.
    • The Empire on the other hand, plays it straight. On paper their policy is to hunt down any remaining Jedi while indoctrinating any young Force-sensitives they could find into being agents of The Dark Side, but they had limited success with the latter.
  • Godzilla:
    • Starting in Godzilla vs. Biollante, the G-Force of the Heisei series has drafted members from a civilian school for psychics, most frequently Miki Saegusa. It's neither angsted about nor seen in a negative light, aside from some mild I Just Want to Be Normal sentiments briefly expressed in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.
    • Godzilla: Final Wars has mutants recruited to fight the various Kaiju that appear as part of a UN Task Force. Also neither angsted about nor seen in a negative light, as the mutants are totally loyal to and protective of normal humans; only when the Xiliens use their Mind Control powers on the superpowered members thanks to their M-base genes does it become a problem.

  • The Department of Paranormal Resources in the Temps Shared Universe is another (relatively) benevolent version. Although its main purpose seems to be to draft paranorms as crimefighters, its more subtle role is to reassure All of the Other Reindeer that the paranorms are on their side, or at least controlled. This reassurance helps protect the ones with useless powers from mob mentality.
    • This is a very British satire on the whole superheroes thing. Somehow we can't envisage that the space shuttle bringing the infant Clark Kent to Earth might have randomly landed in Swindon or Stockport, and not Smallville (Superman: True Brit notwithstanding). This book envisions how British superheroes might have looked, and the seedy, run-down, low-priority government department charged with registering and employing them. It's all very dingy, unglamorous, and British.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Aes Sedai search for girls with the power to channel the One Power. Those who qualify are inducted into the order, while those who do not pass, for whatever reason, are taught enough not to kill themselves and then monitored for their rest of their lives, though the Aes Sedai don't monitor them as closely as they believe. They also track down and "gentle" all male channelers, as they will go insane from the taint.
    • The Black Tower's recruitment policies are not explicitly stated, but deserters are executed and their heads are hung from the Traitor's Tree.
    • The Seanchan have both a Mutant Draft Board and a Fantastic Recruitment Drive at the same time. Girls who can instinctively channel are forcibly collared and become Damane while those who can learn to channel are recruited as Sul'dam (a highly respected position).
  • The Esper Guild in Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man is a generally benevolent example of this trope.
  • In the classic short story Scanners Live in Vain by Cordwainer Smith, humans are unable to cope with the "Great Pain of Space" and rely on cold sleep ships crewed by habermans whose brains have been severed from all sensory input except the eyes, and whose bodies therefore have to be regulated by implanted instruments. These habermen are condemned criminals and derelicts, supervised by a small group of volunteers called Scanners who maintain an elitist and secretive fraternity — so much so that they're prepared to kill a human who's come up with a means of traversing space without the use of habermen, under the justification that they're saving humanity from the space wars that would now be possible.
  • Anne McCaffrey's Center, and its successor Federated Telepath & Teleport (from the Pegasus and Tower series respectively) generally don't actually force anyone to join if they don't want to — but they could, since they have legal jurisdiction over all Talents. They do apply a significant amount of wheedling and sly pressure. Fortunately the benefits of being a registered Talent outweigh any drawbacks, to the extent that many people are disappointed that they aren't Talents. Furthermore the series is far enough to the idealist end, in that Telepathy and Empathy actually seem to instill relentless ethicality, that the Center is never abusive. FT&T gets a little exploitative (it's structured more like a for-profit corporation, this was inevitable) but never badly.
    • No one (mentioned in the books, at least) has actually refused to join when offered, although in a couple of cases, it takes either outright bribes (Jeff Raven) or an appeal to the Talent's more mercenary side (Tirla, who was enticed with the promise of all the pretty things and food she wants), and it was never presented as an option for the Rowan (who was raised in an FT&T school and groomed to be a Prime virtually from birth).
    • Vsevolod Roznine is the exception to the rule, and the reason that the Center has jurisdiction over all Talents; after he was caught using his telepathy in an attempt to stir up a riot and Mind Control another Talent, he was mind-blasted, taken to the Center, and blocked so that his power only worked in gestalt with the Talent he tried to control.
    • The later books make it clear that while joining a Center or Center-derived corporation is optional (At one point the leader of the first Center flat out stated that he barely had the resources to test the people who come to the Center voluntarily for Talent, so a law requiring people to be tested and registered would be unenforceable), obeying the code of conduct first laid down by the Centers is not. Any Talent, registered or not, that is caught using their Talent to commit a crime or do things that the Centers have ruled unethical is stripped of their psychic ability... permanently.
    • The Center and FT&T are an interesting take in that they are run by Talents, just as they police Talents. When Talent (aka Psychic Powers) were scientifically proven, a group of Talents immediately formed the Center to ensure that the Muggles wouldn't form a more oppressive and controlling version that would harm Talents, which they saw as inevitable (and it may well have been: future seers are on the Center's payroll).
  • In The Shockwave Rider, the U.S. government takes genius young kids (mostly orphans) and removes them to schools where they are indoctrinated into considering the government as their parents. This is to create the new elite to run the nation.
  • The Discworld's Unseen University believes any young man with natural magical ability should be under the aegis of the university (or, recently, one of its sister institutions). Or, in the words of its founder, Alberto Malich the Wise, "We'd better keep the bright young buggers where we can see 'em". Since the role of the University is to keep wizards too busy with college politics and big dinners to actually use any magic, and "there were still quite deep scars in old buildings that showed what happened when you had the other kind of wizard", he had a point.
  • In Laura Anne Gilman's Retriever novels, the Council is the association of 'current' users who become progressively more ... persuasive about making everyone join them
  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts was a benevolent kind of such organization for the majority of the saga and turned into an oppressive one under the Death Eaters' reign in the seventh book (the attendance was voluntary and mandatory respectively).
    • One of the reasons The Masquerade is enforced in Harry Potter, at least according to Hagrid in book 1, is to pre-empt this; wizards don't want to be enlisted to solve the problems of Muggles. (Unless those problems are caused by other wizards, in which case they have to step in.)
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy possibly has a variant of this trope. The magicians who rule London pay people good money for their unwanted toddlers to act as their apprentices. This doesn't seem too selective, but it's also mentioned that the children must pass certain tests to be accepted. It's not mentioned what these tests look for—whether to make sure they aren't complete morons or to determine whether they are simply more intelligent than other children of their age—but this may count.
  • The White Council in The Dresden Files. They won't bother you if you're too magically weak to do much. The problem is, someone with a lot of power who just happens upon magic by accident isn't going to know about the Laws of Magic. It's quite possible to break some of them with the best of intentions — messing with someone's head to get them off drugs or magically keeping someone alive long enough for an ambulance to get there is good, right? But all seven laws exist for a reason: Black Magic in any form is addictive, so breaking one Law is a slippery slope to breaking the rest. So you get the death penalty if you're caught violating any them, even if you'd never even heard of the White Council or anyone else who could do magic. There's not enough recruiters out there to find most potential wizards, leading the world to kinda suck.
  • This trope is essentially the premise of Jeffrey DeRego's Union Dues universe.
  • There is an SF story wherein the world is secretly controlled by an oligarchy of telepaths. Telepathy is kept secret, and it isn't really researched, to maintain the masquerade, but one thing is known for sure—it is not inheritable. So how do they find new members? There's a brilliant solution. In every single university there's a guy somewhere, spreading telepathic messages about the room he is in. The messages can be heard by telepaths only. Those who come are accepted into the society, those who don't are either muggles or not curious enough and thus of no interest to them.
  • The Psychology Service from James H. Schmitz's Federation of the Hub stories uses a semi-voluntary version of this, similar to the above. The Service ostensibly exists in order to tag and control all telepaths, but is actually another arm of the Overgovernment. In order to maintain its semi-monopoly on telepathy and psionics, telepathic machines are installed in all spaceports, and if the device gets a response from a telepath, the telepath is tagged and implanted with a compulsion that strongly suggests the individual in question seek out the Service to learn about themselves. A few, such as Telzey, are able to overcome the compulsion, and the Service will generally leave them alone (or actively work with them) if the telepath has demonstrated that they know the rules and will not muck things up.
  • The Bondsmagi of Karthain from the Gentleman Bastard series are part this, part criminal family. The whole venture started when one powerful mage went to a less-powerful mage and said, "Join or die." The two worked their way out to three, and so on. They have an exclusive monopoly on sorcery in the world, and if they find anyone practicing who doesn't want to join with them... well, they aren't going to be practicing much longer.
  • In the Lord Darcy series, a license is required to practice magic. Unlicensed use of magic is subject to varying penalties; the regulation is as much for the user's health as for the government's records. But if the user is practicing black magic, they are in real trouble; a practitioner of black magic is primarily hurting themselves, but they have the potential to hurt a lot of other people before they die. (Or go mad and then die.)
    • The licensing is being handled by the Church, though, and includes (in fact, is usually referred to as) testing the licensee's religious orthodoxy.
  • In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen vs. stories, The Super Patriots, Inc. Its attempts to corral everyone drive the plot.
  • A benevolent version in Sergey Lukyanenko's Night Watch (Series). Both the Night and the Day Watches are volunteer organizations. Most Others live relatively normal lives. However, all Others are required to be registered with the respective Watch in the area they live (i.e. Light Others register with the Day Watch, while Dark Others register with the Night Watch). There are rules restricting the use of magic by "civilian" Others. Freer rules are one of the perks of working for a Watch. Basically, when a new uninitiated Other is discovered, one of the Watches makes a claim to him or her. As per tradition, the other Watch typically allows its counterpart to initiate the Other. After the Other has been initiated, he or she has to attend a special school for a few months where he or she is introduced to the world of Others, taught some basic spells, and explained the rules. After that, the Other has the option to either return to civilian life or join the Watch. It's also possible but rare for an uninitiated Other to refuse initiation and remain a human. One of the unfortunate duties of the Night Watch is handing out licenses to vampires and werewolves. Basically, a license allows a vampire or a werewolf to hunt (frequently, kill) a human. Licenses are usually based on a lottery, although Others (including known uninitiated Others) and their close friends/family are exempt. Any vampire/werewolf caught hunting without a license can be executed on the spot, although the preferred method is to arrest them and give them to the Inquisition for trial (the punishment is usually death anyway).
  • This is one of the functions of the Magician's Guild in The Black Magician Trilogy. Any "natural" (that is, someone with magical abilities that awaken on their own) must be taken in and trained to use their gift, because untrained magicians are a danger to themselves and others.
    • One of the main sources of drama in the first two books is that it has been so long since it mattered that the Guild has picked up a lot of traditions and prejudices that really don't fit with that. Magical ability in the verse is at least partly genetic, and for a long time showing magical talent was a ticket to nobility — with the end result that in the present day, with the sole known exception of the protagonist herself, having enough magical ability that it would manifest on its own only occurs in the nobility, who get tested early enough that the potentials get caught before they can manifest on their own and overlaps socially enough with the Guild that trying to get away from it — rather than joining it or undergoing a ritual that cuts off their magical ability — really isn't done. The protagonist's situation is a result of the draft board having to deal with a mistrustful outsider who's nearly as powerful as the High Lord.
    • In the prequel, The Magician's Apprentice, naturals happen. In this era, there is no Guild, but the local lord has an obligation to take any naturals discovered as an apprentice—a duty that is generally seen as a pain in the behind, as teaching an apprentice without any compensation other than magical assistance is not something that most lords consider worth their time.
    • Sachaka plays with the trope. Naturals are generally killed out of hand simply because the Sachakan elite don't want anyone learning magic except by their decision, but slaves with magical potential are kept alive and used as Human Resources (in a non-fatal way, unless they displease their masters). Sometimes, captive mages are also enslaved, particularly by Sachakan renegades.
  • Second Apocalypse: users of magic who do not belong to a school of sorcery are called wizards. The schools kill them wherever they find them, so they tend to have very short lives.
  • Wild Cards:
    • S.C.A.R.E. (Special Committee for Ace Resources and Endeavors) employs aces, but it is generally voluntary.
    • Subverted by the Joker Brigade, a military unit in Vietnam composed by jokers (wild carders that have only aesthetic and generally undesiderable mutations) that was used for dirty purposes.
  • In Updraft, there isn't any rule saying that people with the ability to repel monsters have to join the Singers, but Wik makes it clear that any alternative plans Kirit might make will be thwarted. This includes declaring her to have failed vital tests based on a technicality that isn't applied to anyone else. She still doesn't accept; rather, she tries to challenge the Singers directly, and even when that results in capture, she still treats joining as a reluctant bargain rather than an obligation.
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • Companions choose whoever they will to be Heralds, and they don't ask permission before doing so; the only firm criteria are strong moral fiber and latent psychic potential, though not all Heralds ever evince powers, and such things as a Healer's calling or duty to one's family may disqualify someone. This is largely Because Destiny Says So; it's implied that someone who would ultimately refuse would not be Chosen in the first place, but also the bond feels so good immediately that all a Companion has to say is a hurt "Do you really want me gone?" and their previously reluctant Chosen will realize they can't imagine living without it.
      • It's said that being Chosen amplifies powers. There are also some Valdemarans with Gifts who go unchosen. Healers and Bards are trained in the same place as the Heralds, but there are also some odd one-offs elsewhere like the weather-witch in the Arrows books, whose eerily accurate weather predictions are invaluable in the region where she lives. However, it seems like there are very few such people.
      • In Exile's Honor, a soldier from an enemy nation is forcibly kidnapped by his Companion (from his own execution, but in this case that's not an excuse, as his Companion later agrees), and it's mentioned that if he really refused to be a Herald, the bond could be severed—but it would cause severe mental trauma to both partners, so this trope is still in effect. Alberich ultimately stays, though he becomes a Bunny-Ears Lawyer even by Heraldic standards.
      • Other countries in the setting employ magic users, but it seems like in Valdemar the expectation was that all mages of note would be Heralds - the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy even sets up that in most countries mages are present across society and in the employ of nobles, but in Valdemar they're considered inherently suspicious if not Chosen, and while the country is a haven to most refugees they hustle mages away. Vanyel isn't just the last Herald-Mage, he's the last practicing mage in Valdemar for centuries. Eventually, after the practice of magic returns, a collegium for non-Chosen mages is set up alongside Healing and Bardic, probably because when it returned new Herald-Mages and non-Herald mages were working more closely in concert than back in Vanyel's day.
    • During Magic's Price, this is subverted. Bard Stefen was kidnapped off the street and taken to Bardic Collegium by Bard Lynnell, who had said "you belong to Valdemar now." But this was actually a Fantastic Recruitment Drivenote ; Lynnell had verified that Stefen was living alone on the street before intervening, and she was simply less than tactful about fixing that.
  • The Infected: the IPB is basically this. A federal agency meant to protect people from the superhuman Infected, using Infected operatives. They have a reputation as the black helicopters that take people away never to be seen again, in truth they're very nice people trying to hold the world together while it tries to fly apart... but if you're Infected and powerful enough, you're not allowed to leave.
  • The New Humans: The DDHA, the Department of Demi Human Affairs. They can detain a suspect for eighteen months without proof of powers and are not above barging in an elementary classroom with guns.
  • Worm: The Protectorate acts as the body of law dedicated to managing Parahumans, as well as running Superhero teams to deal with Supervillains. It's perfectly legal not to join the Protectorate, however, and it's even legal to use superpowers in legal ways for personal profit (Parian uses her power to telekinetically control cloth mascots for promotional events). People who didn't join the Protectorate (but don't commit crimes) are referred to as "rogues", since the original assumption was that they should act as Heroes instead. However as the number of Parahumans increased the Protectorate has begun trying to normalize and encourage rogues as a normal part of everyday society.
  • In Hive Mind (2016), telepaths always work in Hive Security, surveying areas to find budding criminals and providing support to law enforcement. People who have borderline telepathy (can only read minds when someone is feeling/thinking something very strongly) have slightly more job variety, but it's still all under the law enforcement umbrella. The Hive provides what support and assistance they can, but telepathy is really rare - one in a thousand people are borderline telepaths, and one in five million are full telepaths - so they can't afford to let any do anything else.
  • In A Fox's Tale, Lord Drake demands that all talents be registered, evidently for the purpose of eventually building an army of them. Naturally, the main character's father disapproves, since he, his wife and his daughter all have talents.
  • In Nine Goblins, powerful wizards are almost universally drafted into the war effort, though it's by persuasion rather than coercion since only a fool would provoke a wizard suited to be on a battlefield.
  • In The Licanius Trilogy, Andarrans who show signs of being to wield Essence are magically branded with a tattoo, then whisked away to an Academy by Administration so they can learn to use their powers for national defense.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, the Archknights put out the story that only those who take a Heroic Vow with absolute dedication can become Lightbinders, fearing that the individual nations will form their own armies of Lightbinders if they figure out the secret to the Vigil. When Daylen gains those powers by accident, they immediately start hunting him down to force him to join their ranks.
  • The Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fulcrum seeks out and conscripts any orogenes that arise in the population, under the logic that every single one is a potential Person of Mass Destruction in a tectonically hyperactive world and so must have their powers yoked for the safety of humanity. "Humanity" being a class that legally excludes orogenes. Any orogenes deemed uncontrollable or who flunk out of training are simply executed out of hand, or lobotomized and turned into Human Resources. Orogenes who are controllable still have the threat of death hanging over them constantly and are forced to take part in eugenic breeding programs.
  • Sweet & Bitter Magic: The Coven does not take no for an answer regarding witches' membership. Any who do not join voluntarily will be hunted down and forced to. The same goes for sources, who are living magical fuel and very rare, so even more valuable to them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Psi Corps from Babylon 5 was the former Trope Namer, back when the page was called The Corps Is Mother after their expression "The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father". Psi Corps controls all human telepaths and telekinetics, and when one is discovered, they are given three options: Corps membership, imprisonment, or a life on suppressive drugs that causes an apparently suicidal depression. Many telepaths opt to head for the depths of space, if they can manage to get away. The Corps insists that they are simply trying to take care of their own and protect the privacy of others being invaded by untrained telepaths. Little things like personal freedom for telepaths just apparently get in the way. The only known human telepath to legally avoid being inducted into Psi Corps did so only by becoming a citizen of a foreign government (in this case, the Minbari Federation).
    • This discussion explains the origins and dangers of the Psi Corps rather neatly and succinctly:
    Garibaldi: It's damn ironic, isn't it? The Corps got started because we were afraid of telepaths, now they're victims of our own fears. We took away every right they had and shoved them into a big black box called Psi Corps. Now look at them. Black uniforms, jackboots, giving orders. Some days they scare the hell out of me.
    Sheridan: Yeah, if you ask me we created our own monster. And maybe we deserve it.
    • As Lyta mentions, the Psi Corps takes its responsibilities as a parent very seriously when it comes to defending telepaths. Take, for example, the punishment doled out on a man who murdered telepaths:
    "Somewhere on Beta colony there is an institution. In one room of the institution there is a man who spends his days and nights screaming at things that only he can see. Things we planted in his mind. They have to keep him in a straitjacket 24 hours a day or he'll claw his own eyes out just to make it stop."
  • This issue is a major part of the plot in every season of The 4400, as it deals primarily with a branch of the Department of Homeland Security in Seattle adapting to handle the 4400 super-powered individuals, as well as other organizations that tangle the web. Pretty soon we have NTAC (the previously mentioned organization), the 4400 Center (created by a member of the 4400 for the group when they were first faced with discrimination), the Nova group (super powered terrorists, who are wiped out for the twin crimes of a) assassinating or trying to assassinate the people who almost wiped out the 4400 and b) turning a desert into a fertile arable plain), and a government conspiracy to both suppress and replicate 4400 powers. Overall it comes over as a fairly plausible set of reactions given the implausible circumstances and makes for an intense plot told from many perspectives.
    • And by the end of the show, half of Seattle has superpowers including almost everyone in NTAC.
  • The Company in Heroes, which hunts down potentially dangerous evolved humans with two-man "one of us, one of them" teams, among other things.
    • In a twist, the Company isn't government-affiliated: the Mutants are running the asylum, so to speak, trying to keep their own undercover for their own good. Not that this makes them completely heroic, mind.
    • Then there's Pinehearst...
    • The current Mutant Registration Act they've got going on just wants to imprison.
  • Convicted thief Darien Fawkes in The Invisible Man is implanted with a gland that allows him to turn invisible. However, the gland drives him to insanity without regular doses of "counter-agent" and the only person who could remove the gland, his brother, is dead. He is recruited by a government agency who uses his need for the counter-agent to keep him under control. Until the Series Finale, when the doctor who makes the counter-agent develops and gives Darien a permanent version (explicitly against orders), allowing him to leave. He tries to go back to being a thief, but finds it both unsatisfying and pathetically easy, and returns the money before anybody even realizes it was stolen, and goes back to work with the government...but not before demanding that he, his partner, and the doctor all get better pay.
  • The title character of Chuck gets a government supercomputer downloaded into his brain by a rogue agent and is forced to work for the CIA. He initially hates being constantly put in danger. However, he eventually comes to accept and even enjoy his new job.
  • The Witcher (2019): Nilfgaard conscripts mages into their service.
  • Shadow and Bone: Revka tests children for seeing whether they're Grisha (people with preternatural abilities) and they conscript any with them. While they live comfortable, privileged lives overall, they're still cannon fodder and must serve in the Second Army as soldiers.

  • The wizards in the sci-fi con favorite "The Horse-Tamer's Daughter" had a custom of taking every tenth child from their families; it is strongly implied that this was due to roughly one in ten having magical abilities to begin with.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, humans in the Imperium who are gifted with Psychic Powers are trained by the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, in cooperation with the Inquisition. Given the source of these abilities, and the potential "perils of the warp", it is perhaps understandable that psykers are treated with a measure of concern. Unregulated psykers deemed uncontrollable (and especially those affected by warp entities) are treated harshly, whilst those who are merely too weak or undisciplined to serve are put to other uses.
    • Though the ones who are used for said purpose are actually apparently the best treated psykers in the Imperium, being sacrificed to preserve the life of a Physical God is apparently treated by the Imperial Priests similarly to martyring oneself to help the Imperium and considering the sheer amount of bad things that can happen to or because of a Psyker, this might just be the best outcome for one short of managing to die of old age. It is telling that 99 percent of human colonies that survived the Age of Strife only managed to do so due to killing any and all psykers in witch hunts. When the Imperium went out to reunite humanity, the planetary governments became all to happy to give them up.
  • While the core Mutants & Masterminds game doesn't usually invoke this trope, the spin-off Paragons universe has it in spades including two competing Christianity-based cults, multiple mercenary and terrorist groups, and even the Paranormal Professionals Society, which is a combination legal fund and temp employment agency for paranormals complete with a Las Vegas trade show. The degree to which the various groups Gotta Catch 'Em All is, of course, up to the GM.
  • In CthulhuTech, all parapsychics (people born with innate abilities, which can range from mind control to having control over gravity) have to register with the Office of Internal Security, be tested, are subjected to surveillance, and if their powers are deemed Invasive or Dangerous, they have to wear badges in public to inform people of it. In addition, gravitkinetics are forced to join the NEG or die; they're just too dangerous to leave off a leash. On the other hand, looking at what kind of place the CthulhuTech setting is, it's fairly justified.
  • White Wolf's Aberrant has Project Utopia, who do this very subtly—they're just helpful folks who want to teach you how to control your superpowers and use them for good. Except that they also sterilize you so you don't make more little superhumans and (largely out of ignorance) persuade you to overuse your powers, causing bad mutations and insanity.
  • Traveller: Averted. It is illegal in the Imperium to have a psi school and presumably one can't accidentally develop psi powers to the point where they are dangerous. Among the Zho, psis are an oligarchy and don't need such things. An Alternative Character Interpretation might be that they are a board that existed so long that it is the essence of the ruling class.
  • Paranoia has this trope gone mad...rather like everything else in Alpha Complex. Mutations are officially treason, however a mutant may confess their mutation and become registered - they must wear a yellow stripe on their uniform and effectively become second class citizens, passed up for promotions and scapegoated for any number of treasonous acts. By the way, if you're a player character, you're a mutant. Oh, and since Alpha Complex is run by The Computer, the Machine Empathy mutation is cause for immediate execution and erasure of your genetic template. There is, of course, PSION, the pro-mutant Secret Society that wants to put the mutants in charge, and are therefore doubleplus treasonous.
  • Exalted features the Cult of the Illuminated, a secret society that works to recruit and properly train newly-Exalted Solars. It's run behind the scenes by a few Sidereals, who want to make sure the returning Solars don't screw it up like last time.
  • In Fading Suns a psychic human has generally two options: keep it a secret, or join the Church-sanctioned Penitents. While the latter option genuinely helps some troubled cases, those who've gone through Penitent training often exhibit behaviour typical for a victim of heavy brainwashing.
  • Equinox: Mystics born in the Consortium are forced to join a Mystic Order for training and then put to work for the good of the Consortium. Mystics fleeing this are one of the reasons why the Sol System has a higher percentage of mystics than any other.

    Video Games 
  • The Terran Ghosts in StarCraft, formed initially by the Confederacy to keep their psychics under control, forcefully takes all people born with psychic powers and turns them into spies and/or Super Soldiers.
    • The ever-practical Arcturus Mengsks restores the Ghost Academy upon crowning himself the Emperor of the Dominion, knowing the value of psychic assassins to be used against his enemies.
    • Also, as mentioned in the StarCraft: Nova novel, all psychics slated to be Ghosts (some weaker psychics act as "sniffers" of rogue telepaths) are mind-wiped in order to ensure their past experiences will not interfere with their duties.
    • The rarely mentioned Umojan Protectorate is unique in that while they do have psychic assassins, the shadowguards, they're not indoctrinated.
  • After the Vell-os (a psychic offshoot of humanity) were defeated in Escape Velocity: Nova, they were enslaved by the then-government of most of humanity, the Colonial Council. This was kept up through the collapse of civilisation and reconstruction all the way to the start of the game, although at some point the official stance became that they were willingly serving the Federation. It is made clear in the Vell-os storyline that you aren't one, but as you are an unregistered (and, at first, unaware) telepath the Bureau that has jurisdiction thinks you are one and enslaves you. For most of the story this mainly serves as an excuse for exposition, but close to the end it turns out that you can free yourself because the final contingency of the enslavement device is being hooked up to the Vell-os nanite organ — that you neither have nor need, not being Vell-os.
  • In Mass Effect, Kaidan, a member of humanity's first generation of biotics, reveals that when news of the Bizarre Baby Boom first went public, a military corporation called Conatix "encouraged" all human biotics to go through Training from Hell at the hands of hired turian mercenaries. He even implies that Conatix may have deliberately engineered element zero spills to expose pregnant women and create more biotics, but he admits the evidence is merely circumstantial. This practice ceased when Kaidan accidentally killed a particularly sadistic instructor at Jump Zero, and the Ascension Project was founded. While biotics are no longer required to join the Alliance military, their whereabouts are still monitored, and they're given preferential recruitment in the corps because of their rarity.
  • In Dragon Age, all mages are required to join the Circle or be killed by templars. The reason for this is twofold: first, because mages who are not formally trained are prone to suffering Demonic Possession, and second, because the Chantry still remembers that the ancient lords of the Tevinter Imperium acted very irresponsibly with their magic. This does not stop Apostates and mercenary mages from being dreadfully common, and sometimes absurdly more powerful than mages with formal training (either due to the use of Blood Magic or by becoming abominations). Additionally, several members of the Circle are semi-openly cooperating with the illegal mages. Also, many apostate mages wind up turning to blood magic simply because it gives them a quick path to power that they can use to defend themselves from Chantry persecution
    • It should be noted that each nation has their own Circle and Templars, though in the case of the Tevinter Imperium, the Circle was used to bring the Magisters back to power, and the templars there are under their control. It is not the case with the Dalish elves, but only because they're always on the move and damned hard to find. They don't see mages as evil, but only their Keepers are trained in the use of magic.
    • The Qunari are even worse with their "saarebas," stitching their mouths shut and enslaving them as Attack Animals. Most of the saarebas accept this because of their cultural conditioning with some exceptions. The name itself is particularly telling: the closest translation for saarebas in the human language is "dangerous thing." The word/name is also indicative that the Qunari don't consider saarebas to be "true Qunari", since the word "bas" ("thing") is mostly frequently used when referring to non-Qunari. The only mage ever considered to be Qunari is Mage Hawke, should they complete a certain quest, and they're outside the draft's jurisdiction.
    • The Draft Board ultimately falls during the events of Dragon Age II. The catalyst is Anders blowing up Kirkwall's Chantry to begin a chain of events that leads to open war between mages and Templars . Years before this happens one Templar even notes the recent increase in mages means they are too numerous to police properly. Dragon Age: Inquisition allows you to help decide how the new system will work once the war is over.
  • In contrast to the Jedi Order, the Sith Empire in Star Wars: The Old Republic conscripts all Force-sensitives and sends them off to the Sith Academy on Korriban for Training from Hell. However, (assuming they survive) this is actually to their benefit considering that Sith are the ruling class... or it would be if the Sith's natural predators weren't each other.
  • The Malta Group of City of Heroes formed when the US repealed a metahuman draft act and began losing its edge (Or so they think, as the Russians never had near the amount of metahumans that America did) in the Cold War (the Russians had a similar program that they didn't repeal). Since, they've used whatever means necessary to bring as many metahumans under their thumb as possible.
    • In this game's Going Rogue expansion, in the Praetorian Earth parallel world, all metahumans are drafted into the empire's Powers Division. All player characters who start in Praetorian Earth start as new members of Powers Division. They may also secretly join the Resistance. Or not.
    • This isn't limited to just powers either. Anyone who owns a weapon or has combat training is drafted too. Yes, even if you want to learn karate for self defense and exercise, you're drafted.
  • inFAMOUS: Second Son has the Department of Unified Protection, a government-sanctioned group dedicated to capturing and experimenting on Conduits. Their leader is a Conduit with powers that let her manipulate Concrete and most D.U.P. forces have some form of this power.
  • Demacia of League of Legends is, on the outside, completely forbidding of magic within their borders. Magic users are given 3 choices when found: Die, leave Demacia or join their secret Mage Corps and use their magic to do Demacia's bidding.
  • Grim Dawn has the Black Legion. Officially, it was simply a penal legion, but many unsanctioned mages and occultists found themselves "invited" to the Legion's ranks. By the time that the game takes place, they're the only organized military left in Cairn.

  • Grrl Power: Variant. Supers are not drafted, there's no Super Registration Act, and in fact powers are protected under Second Amendment rights. However, vigilantism is still illegal if you have powers, and the best career option for supers is in ARCHON, the new military police unit designed for "atypical threats." Working for ARCHON is very lucrative, and the team has successfully rehabilitated several villains simply by offering them jobs.
  • Hero Oh Hero: In Justopea illegal magic used to be punishable with death. But by the new law illegal magic users are drafted into service for The Empire. It's not stated explicitly, but there seems to be no legal magic outside empire service.
  • Hand Jumper: If you have a Gift, you're either working for the Corps or in organized crime, no in-between. Not helping matters is that neither side seems to have any moral standards.

    Web Original 
  • In the Advancer-verse, some humans have started spontaneously gaining powers. A covert government agency exists to round up these newly-transformed Advancers and bind them into a contract to serve the government with their superhuman powers. (Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.)
  • Fairly light version in Metamor City, all children in the Empire of Metamor are tested for magical ability and if they have talent they are fitted with a "leash" that inhibits their powers until adulthood when they may apply to join a guild and have their leashes removed. Many street gangs are led by unlicensed mages who managed to get their leashes off some other way. The Psi Collective, despite drawing inspiration from Psi Corps, does not follow this, psis can choose not to join or to leave at any time, though those raised in the Collective might find it difficult to live without it.
  • Magic, Metahumans, Martians and Mushroom Clouds: An Alternate Cold War:
    • A downplayed example with the FSB's Division of Special Talents, which recruits metahumans to help enforce the law, further the government's interests, and fight those who use their powers for their own gain. It's a notably voluntary organization.
    • By contrast, the Greater People's League created by the Soviets isn't afraid to use threats against loved ones to recruit members.
    • Metahumans are also recruited by both sides in the Chinese Civil War, though organization names aren't given.
    • The Philippines have the Liga ng Pambihirang Tao (Extraordinary People's League).
    • The "Children of Shiva" recruited by Subhas Bose's Hindutva movement, which become his enforcers after he successfully takes over India.
    • The Romanian People's League is developed as part of that country's efforts to grant itself more autonomy from the Soviets.
    • France has the Ligue de Personnes Extraordinaires.
    • South Korea has the Special Orders Taskforce, which recruits loyalist metahumans to prevent coups by communist ones.
    • The East African Freedom Front is an alliance of Kenya and Tanzania's metahumans, formed to fight against Uganda in the East African War.

    Western Animation 
  • Skyland has Seijins, people with Psychic Powers fueled by the sun. Most Seijins are forced to join the Guardian Academy at a very young age, where they are educated how to use their powers and brainwashed to be loyal soldier for the Sphere. Parents who don't want to give up their children are killed. It's implied that Seijins from the blocks not completly controled by the Sphere, sometimes join out of their free will.
  • After The Legend of Korra's second season, random non-benders in the Earth Kingdom start developing Airbending powers. The Dai Li systematically round them up all of them in Ba Sing Se to serve as Slave Mooks in the military. "There are no Airbenders in Ba Sing Se".

Alternative Title(s): The Corps Is Mother