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Not Brainwashed

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Goku: You mean you... You fool! You deliberately let yourself fall under Babidi's spell!
Vegeta: Yes. I saw the power of Babidi's magic. At the World Martial Arts Tournament, those two henchmen he sent... [...] The people who'd seen those fighters in the previous tournament couldn't understand how they'd become so powerful. But you and I know, don't we? It was Babidi's magic, and I knew that what his magic had done for those fighters, it could also do for me! I knew that if I allowed myself to fall under his control, the difference in our power would disappear! I'm quite pleased with the results. Even if they do come at a price. I'd say the end more than justifies the means!

In a world where getting Brainwashed by evil Applied Phlebotinum is a common occurrence, what's worse than seeing a teammate taken over by The Virus, subjected to Demonic Possession, be Not Himself or act all Brainwashed and Crazy?

Finding out that they're not actually brainwashed (or crazy); they've genuinely joined The Dark Side by their own volition, or had a legitimate Freak Out and their personality is as real as it is new. And you just can't bring them back the same way as you could with anyone else who was brainwashed, assuming you can bring them back at all.

This is often held back as a dramatic (and tragic) reveal after a long montage (or whole episode) of the heroes performing all manner of attempts to break whatever control the Big Bad has over this character. The reason it doesn't work? Because the Big Bad doesn't actually have any control over them to begin with; they insist they are Not Brainwashed, and they're right.

There's also the comedy option, where a character, having gone into a seemingly dangerous situation, finds out that it's actually not what it appears, while their allies (who haven't realized it) attempt to rescue them from the "brainwashing."

Having one person out of a million Not Brainwashed is becoming more and more common. Not so much a subversion as the natural cycle of the trope.

Related to More than Mind Control. Contrast with Pretend to Be Brainwashed. Compare Not an Act.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Magical Project S, turns out Pixy Misa wasn't a brainwashed persona, but the repressed aspects of Misao's personality.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta falls under Babidi's Majin spell, which brings out the evil of whoever is placed under it and brings them under his control. After Goku tries to get him to snap out of it, Vegeta reveals that he's not truly under Babidi's control; he let himself be affected because he felt he was going soft, and knew Babidi could bring out his evil side and allow him to finally surpass Goku (however, this implies that he is at least partially under Babidi's influence, and when Babidi puts some effort into exercising it Vegeta has to muster a lot of his will to successfully resist it).
  • Bleach:
    • Aizen's Zanpakuto can cast illusions that can fool anyone if they have ever seen the sword using its power. However, Tousen is blind, thus unable to see the sword. It is then revealed that he joined Aizen of his own will.
    • Played with in Orihime's case when she was kidnapped to Hueco Mundo. At first, everyone thinks Aizen mindwashed her, but actually she was forced to come along to save her friends. Aizen then says she came of her own accord, and the less... brainy Espada tries to twist this even more to say she is one of them, even trying to convince her about it as a part of the massive Break the Cutie process they're subjecting the poor girl to. Only for the lectures to be put down by Ichigo of all people.
  • Kaiser/Zane in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. He's a champion of a game notorious for causing Split Personalities and Superpowered Evil Sides in players, and his Freak Out and Evil Costume Switch take place during the More than Mind Control arc, but in his case, he really just snapped after a humiliating loss. He tells his mentor, his best friend, and his brother that when they try to "cure" him by dueling him since Defeat Means Friendship: "There's no darkness inside me. I am not captured by darkness. I just want to know what brings out the power to win!" Originally, he was still a cold, aloof loner, but at least he had a strong sense of respect for his opponent. He eventually gets better.
    • Another example is Adrian Gecko from the third season. His backstory is basically that he was adopted into a wealthy family to be the heir, but then his little brother was born and he was displaced. Despite that, he became the family's best agent and behaved well toward his little brother. However, his childhood friend pushed him to become a leader in his own right. Long story short it led to him sacrificing her to attain power and got him killed by the main villain of the season. Despite all of that, he maintained that everything he did was of his own free will.
  • Another Yu-Gi-Oh example in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: when Yuma's longtime friend Ryoga/Shark appears leading the villainous Barians, calling himself Nasch, the heroes think he's been brainwashed and try to snap him out of it. However, he scoffs at any suggestion that he's not in control; in truth, he had regained his long-suppressed memories of being a Barian Emperor, and willingly chose to side with his people against his friends.
    • After Yuma and Nasch team up to defeat Don Thousand, who corrupted humans and Barians alike with hatred and Fake Memories, Nasch is still intent on taking Yuma down and destroying Astral World. Understandably, Yuma refuses to fight his friend, claiming he still was under the influence of the curse. But Nasch explained his memories were not toyed with, that the real curse was his own, conscious vow to protect the Barian World at all costs, meaning their duel to the death was inevitable.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam had Domon's mentor, Master Asia, turn against him. Domon didn't give this much thought at first, since he had seen many people become Brainwashed by the Devil Gundam before then, and was mighty displeased to discover that Master Asia was serving the Devil Gundam purely by choice.
  • This trope appears in the last story arc of the live-action adaptation Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Queen Beryl, who up until this point has been brainwashing her four lieutenants, resigns herself to certain death and releases Jaedite from her spell, so he can escape. His personality doesn't change at all: he reveals that he's always been her willing servant, and he intends to remain by her side no matter what.
  • In Inuyasha, Sango's brother Kohaku is brought Back from the Dead with Easy Amnesia to work for Naraku. He kills women and children while under Naraku's influence but then regains his faculties. His sister's attempts to "break" his brainwashing at this point convince him that the best way to protect her (and make up for what he's done) is to continue working for Naraku in order to find a way to permanently destroy him.
  • Hellsing, Battle Butler Walter is seen de-aged and on the side of the Nazi Vampires. When Alucard fights him, everyone assumes that he's been brainwashed. While it's left slightly ambiguous, it's heavily implied that not only was he doing it all of his own free will but he has been The Mole all along.
  • In Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, woobie Alone is chosen as the vessel for Hades and subsequently begins to kill everyone, planning to end all life on Earth. Turns out this has nothing to do with the influence of Hades, as he was never possessed; being chosen as the vessel for Hades simply gave him the power to execute a plan that was his own from the very beginning.
  • In Dual Kazuki assumes that Mitsuki Sanada has been hypnotized to fight him since the same thing had happened to Mitsuki Rara earlier. Turns out that she had willingly agreed to help the Rara army so that they would help her and Kazuki return to their own world. Once she realizes how close she came to killing Kazuki and how dumb her choice was she keeps the truth to herself.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, Yuji gets possessed by the Snake of the Festival. Shana tries to reach him and get him to fight it until he reveals the Snake is not controlling him; they are partners. The Snake turns out to be Good All Along, and he and Yuji had a plan to permanently end the war, they just needed to be Well-Intentioned Extremist to do it.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • There's a variation in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, where the involved person never actually went evil. The Corps had suddenly vanished, with an unknown foe using their rings to pull them to the previous universe. Soranik Natu would have shared this fate, but her father Sinestro had forewarned of the event and pulled off her ring just in the nick of time. She's inducted into the Sinestro Corps, which is trying to take the Green Lanterns' place as the universe's law-keepers. The GL Corps eventually does make it back, but Soranik working with their greatest enemy looks very questionable. She has to explain that, no, she did not pull a Face–Heel Turn at all.
    • Infinite Crisis: When the Big Bad is revealed and explains what they've been doing to Power Girl, manipulating events behind the scenes for years, she takes it to mean that their manipulations are why Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have been on the outs through the event. She's promptly told that nope, that's just their own fault.
    • Teen Titans: In the Judas Contract arc, moreso in the comics than the cartoon, Beast Boy/Changeling initially hoped Terra was being brainwashed or manipulated somehow by Deathstroke/Slade before he could accept that her alliance with Slade was completely voluntary. In the cartoon, while she is manipulated by Slade, she is very voluntary about doing his dirty work for him. Having his own traumatic experience with Slade, Robin shares the hope that Slade's forcing her into it, and Terra has to spell it out for him: "I DON'T NEED SAVING! I'm not some sad little girl who's waiting to be rescued! I wanted to be this way! I wanted to go with Slade! I wanted to annihilate you and your pathetic friends!"
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Not quite brainwashing, but Quicksilver had undergone a Face–Heel Turn (to Well-Intentioned Extremist) during — and served as the Big Bad of — House of M, and followed it up with a lot of morally questionable and inherently selfish (if not outright villainous) actions, such as stealing and unleashing the Terrigen Mists on the Earth in an effort to restore the powers of de-powered mutants. After Secret Invasion (2008), when it emerged that several heroes and villains had been replaced by shape-shifting Skrulls, Quicksilver explained his previous actions by claiming that he has been replaced as well — cue a private moment with his half-Inhuman daughter, Luna, who points out that she is a Living Lie Detector and tells him she knows he is making it all up and is guilty as sin. He later repents of this in All-New X-Factor, confessing in public, which at least repairs his relationship with Luna.
    • U.S.Avengers: During the events of Secret Empire, HYDRA tries to hit A.I.M. with a hypnotic attack. Fortunately, Roberto taught everyone some anti-mind control techniques Professor Xavier taught him. Unfortunately, one AIM trooper (Larry from Stores, who previously worshipped Roberto) reveals he's not brainwashed at all, and shoots Roberto.
    • X-Men:
      • In the 1990s, when Colossus abandoned the X-Men for Magneto's Acolytes, his teammates — specifically Wolverine — wanted to believe that he was under mind-control; Colossus immediately denied it and for a while, it was the official explanation that he was not being compelled. Eventually Professor X decided that Colossus had committed this Face–Heel Turn because of an undiagnosed brain injury (he had a huge dent in his head at the time and was trapped in his armored form). This led to an Excalibur (Marvel Comics) issue where Xavier has Colossus's ex-girlfriend trick him into coming back to Earth so they can abduct him, then treats the injury. It was specifically asked by one of the characters, "what do we do if he still wants to go back to the Acolytes after we heal him?" The answer turned out to be "we let him go back" and that's exactly what Colossus did — though the healing did give him a bit of additional clarity, and his stated purpose was to act as a conscience for the team. It was kind of refreshing. He remained an Anti-Villain with the Acolytes for a few years, real-time, which only ended when the Acolytes' space station was destroyed and the survivors got scattered across the Earth, forcing the team's disbandment.
      • When Lucas Bishop first returned from the Future after his mad crusade to kill Hope failed and being left there by Cable, it first looked as if he was possessed by the Demon Bear. However, it turned out that everything he did (including butchering billions of innocent people just to get Hope) was all him without any brainwashing. He just had a Heel Realization later.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: In a rare positive example of this, Megatron attributes the bulk of his Heel–Face Turn on the fool's energon he's been forced to take as a condition of his captaincy. But then issue 54 sees Ratchet reveal to Megatron that fool's energon is just a placebo, and all the steps Megatron has taken, up to and including his renouncement of violence altogether, has all been his own doing.

    Fan Works 
  • Played With in The Ash with the ash ponies; The disease that turns victims into ash ponies removes the influence of the Magic of Friendship from their brains, and they treat ordinary ponies as having undergone Heel–Face Brainwashing.
  • A Case Study in the Sturdiness of the Rookie 9: Since their teammate Ino is abusing her clan's Mind-Body Switch Techniques to turn both boys into her People Puppets, Naruto and Kiba become convinced that she's done the same to their teacher, Asuma. What they don't realize is that Asuma is fully encouraging Ino's misuse, seeing it as a quick-and-easy way to keep the rowdy pair under control.
  • Code Prime: In the R2 chapter, Forward, the Light Brigade, Marianne reveals to the Autobots and Black Knights that she was involved in the Ragnarök Connection. Euphemia desperately believes that Charles used his Geass on her, only for Marianne to reveal that there was no Geass involved, and that she acted entirely on her own accord. The revelation shocks everyone who looked up to her, with Lelouch taking it especially bad, as he straight up punches her in the face.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: The fairies persist in trying to "rescue" Jadeite from Keeper Mercury, assuming that anyone so handsome and gentlemanly could only be serving a Keeper if he were being magically controlled. In fact, he has several reasons to be willingly serving; he's doing meaningful work under a Benevolent Boss, laying the foundation for revenge on the queen who discarded him, and may be developing a crush... but the fairies don't know any of that. He finds their repeated attempts to "free" him rather irritating.
  • In Faith and Doubt, after finding out the same source that turned Luna into NightMare Moon is behind Twilight's new aggressive behavior, the others assume he's brainwashed Twilight. It turns out this is pulled double. Not only is Twilight not brainwashed, neither was Luna. Allowing the eternal night to occur was against Doubt's wishes, and as such he abandoned her just before her battle with Celestia.
  • In Ben 10 fanfiction Hero High: Sphinx Academy, the group of super-powered agents working with Pharaoh are explicitly instructed to act as if they have been brainwashed to serve him when out in public. The reason? They are his friends and he planned it so that if his plans did fail they would be absolved of their actions. Him being a master manipulator to the point his Red Baron is "Voice of a Sovereign", it would have been easy to believe.
  • In Nymph and the Corrupted Miraculous, the Big Bad can only corrupt one Miraculous at a time. If she wants anyone else at her side, she has to manipulate them the old-fashioned way. When she wants a partner for Catastrophe (corrupted Adrien with the Cat ring), she goes to Lila, offering her the Fox miraculous and a chance to get revenge on her classmates for calling her out. After Adrien breaks free, she has to join the fight herself in order to use the final Miraculous that she had.
  • The Pony POV Series has this turn out to be the case with Rainbow Dash, who really did take Discord's Sadistic Choice. She only pretended to be Discorded and try to run from the others because Discord just drove Cloudsdale insane when she got there and she could bare to face the others. Applejack eventually finds out and acts as her Secret-Keeper for a while. Eventually, the guilt of it nearly causes her to go nightmare (and in one Alternate Universe, actually do so and become Nightmare Manacle) before the others snap her out of it and calm her down.
    • Turns out to be the case with the Valeyard in Dark World. He's not the Discorded Doctor, he's a pure evil regeneration of him. The Doctor was Discorded, however, and Twilight's Memory Spell reverses it, allowing the Doctor to regenerate when they eventually kill off the Valeyard incarnation.
    • Inverted with Dark World!Fluttercruel. It turns out she was born Discorded, something not even her father Discord was aware of. When she Body Surfs into Sparkler's body, Sparkler's memories of Derpy break the Discording, causing her to be capable of actually starting to think about whether or not her actions are wrong. She doesn't take this well.
    • Double Subverted in that, after her brainwashing is broken, she continues to protect her father.
  • Implied in RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse. In the Celestiaverse, it's stated that Luna's transformation into Nightmare Moon was partially due to the influence of an alien presence (the Nightmare), and that the reason Luna could pull such a quick Heel–Face Turn was that the Elements purged the Nightmare from Luna. But given the fact that Corona rejected Luna's offer of redemption, this implies that Celestia was not affected by any external force, and became the Tyrant Sun entirely on her own.
    • And in Crisis On Two Equestrias, when Trixie accidentally teleports herself to the Celestiaverse, she quite naturally assumes that the differences between the two universes are the result of Corona Mind Raping her friends. While her memory transfer spell is able to "restore" their Lunaverse memories, the Celestiaverse Elements of Harmony are not fooled.
  • In The Rise of Darth Vulcan, the eponymous character (whose real name is Ted) ends up in Equestria and is empowered by the Alicorn Amulet. After a fight with Rainbow Dash, the Mane 6 see him with the Amulet, and blast him with the Elements of Harmony, thinking he was corrupted. Since he wasn't corrupted, not only do the Elements not work, but he believes that the Mane 6 were trying to brainwash him, which only serves to fuel his anger.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS fanfic Re:Coded, when Miyu, Jin, and Zephyr were kidnapped and later fought alongside their Ignis, everyone thought that all the rogue Ignis have fully taken control of their partners and worked for ways to save them. It's later revealed they are not, and the three lost incident victims willingly joined their Ignis partners for different reasons.
  • Son of the Sannin: Downplayed with Toneri Otsutsuki. He actually was initially brainwashed into joining Akatsuki but his Tenseigan maturing freed him, and at that point, he stays with them anyway because their goals happen to align with his. When Hinata confronts him for the last time and learns about this, at first she thinks she can convince him to join them and fight Akatsuki, but he makes it clear he wants to let the war rage on and then hijack the Juubi's power for himself once they succeed in their plans, and rule the new era making Hinata his queen. Hinata is naturally shocked by this, though it's not a surprise for the audience given that his attempt to kidnap her as a child happened years before he joined Akatsuki (and thus under no mind-control whatsoever).
  • A positive example in Spellbound (Lilafly); Adrien and Marinette have known each other for a year before they "meet" at school, but he doesn't want Chloe to know that, or she'll likely retaliate against Marinette out of jealousy. So, he "introduces" himself to Marinette with a song that includes a Mind Control effect — knowing that she's unwittingly protected from such effects by the enchanted jewelry he's previously given her. Chloe recognises the effect and assumes that he's just toying with Marinette for his own amusement. Plagg and Tikki, on the other hand, are quite alarmed by his behaviour, and he has to do some fast talking. Marinette is oblivious to the magic and just finds his over-the-top singing amusing.
  • An Unpleasant Surprise, Ashley the Heteronormative Crusader honestly believes that Molly and Libby have been groomed and Brainwashed into believing that they're gay by their parents. An offended Molly repeatedly tells her that her attraction is natural with no outside influence. Unfortunately, Ashley won't hear it.
    Molly McGee: I can assure you Ashley that no one Brainwashed me into liking Libby. Libby told me about her feelings for me one day and after reflecting on it I realized that I felt something more for her too and decided to give a relationship between us a chance.
  • The Powerpuff Girls fanfic Villain has Professor Utonium and Bubbles assume this to be the reason why Buttercup has become so malicious, having been brainwashed somehow by Mojo Jojo. Buttercup repeatedly tries to inform them that she's gone to the dark side of her own volition after years of feeling ostracized and disrespected by the town, but only Blossom believes this explanation, even saying that Buttercup's theory of Mojo being her true creator rather than the Professor makes a weird sort of sense. Bubbles eventually accepts it during the final confrontation, when Buttercup takes time to talk to her one-on-one and convince her that this fight is what she wants.
  • The Inquisitor, a Reaper from When There Was a Tomorrow boast that it did not require Indoctrination to bend The Covenant Leadership to its will. It instead pretended to be a Forerunner AI and exploited their religious fanaticism to forward its Evil Plan.
  • With This Ring: Paul helps a Darkstar contingent to purge the Reach presence from the planet Urrigen, then undoes the brain alterations that were made to many government and military officials to make them trust the Reach — but discovers that the Convenor has no alterations, and sold out his world because he genuinely preferred capitulation to fighting back. Of course, the Convenor wasn't honest with the populace about what he was doing, and it wouldn't have worked in the end, because the Reach eventually kill their client races or drastically alter them into near-mindless slaves. He gets summarily executed.

    Films — Animated 
  • Played with in Batman: Under the Red Hood. Given his background, Jason Todd insists that he's moving towards the Moral Event Horizon of his own volition, but he himself doesn't seem totally sure, as the Lazarus Pit's influence on his mind could also be to blame (the Pit's side effect is to induce madness in the subject).
    • Batman puts forward that he knew Jason was going to be dangerous someday. That's why Batman made him Robin, to try and keep him on the straight and narrow.
  • In The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, Lucy, Metalbeard, Benny, Batman, and Unikitty are brought to a spa center in the Sistar System run by Balthazar as a means of enticing them to Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi's machinations. When the spa's treatments fail to do so with Lucy, they lock her in a room where they play an upbeat Ear Worm pop song that seemingly brainwashes the others. This is made all the more creepy when Emmet and Rex are off exploring a Stepford Suburbia not too far off, with the missing Justice League acting overly nice and covered in glitter, all singing to the song as they chase them as if they were mentally reconditioned zombies. It is not until later when it is revealed that the inhabitants of the Sistar System were Good All Along, the various supposedly brainwashed Master Builders sincerely liking the Sistar System's upbeat and inclusive ways. But they didn't exactly do themselves any favours with their poor communication, nor did they when Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi devoted an entire musical number to how she wasn't evil.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Shadow movie, Lamont Cranston assumes Dr. Reinhardt's assistant, Farley Claymore, has been telepathically controlled into helping Shiwan Khan, until he tries to snap him out of it and Claymore boasts he is helping Khan of his own free will, hoping to be rewarded with power. Given Cranston's earlier life as the vicious drug lord Yin-Ko, he knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, and really should have considered that possibility.
  • In Dragonheart, this is the main conflict—Bowen hates dragons because he's convinced that King Einon, whom he mentored as a child, only turned evil when he bound his heart with a dragon's to save his life. The viewer, however, can see that Einon was pretty messed up even before his injury; it just takes Bowen most of the movie to accept it.

  • In Trader by Charles de Lint, Max Trader has involuntarily swapped bodies with another character. When his teenage neighbor Nia learns this, then sees her mother kissing another woman, she assumes her mother has been swapped too. Not so. Her mother is really a lesbian and just hasn't come out to her yet.
  • Multiple examples in Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife series, due to Lakewalker magic having accidental beguilement as a common side effect.
    • Fawn is constantly asked if the sorcerous Dag has beguiled her into marrying him when they are really just in love.
    • In Passage, Alder is not beguiled by the rogue Lakewalker.
    • In Horizon, a halfbreed Lakewalker beguiles a farmer into loving and marrying her, only to learn that beguilement wears off over time and her husband is staying with her of his own free will.
  • Bujold also plays the comedy situation for dramatics in Shards of Honor. Most of Beta Colony believes that Cordelia has been brainwashed by the Barrayarans, when she's really just in love with Admiral Vorkosigan.
  • In Bujold's The Spirit Ring, sorcerers can attach the spirits of the recently deceased to inanimate objects and compel them to do their bidding. The heroine decides to skip the compulsion in favor of asking nicely, leading to an unexpected failure when the bad guy tries to destroy her animated statue:
    Uri: You cannot release me. I am not bound.
  • Kyp Durron in the Star Wars Expanded Universe is a rather ambiguous case. While he wasn't "brainwashed", he was certainly influenced mentally by Exar Kun. But it largely worked because Kun was telling Kyp what he wanted to hear, and it's never 100% clear how much was Kun and how much was Kyp. Using a superweapon to blow up the stars of Imperial-controlled systems as revenge for his life of slavery and the death of his family was all Kyp, though, which leads to some heated in-universe debates when other characters, particularly his mentor Luke Skywalker, point-blank refuse to believe he was responsible despite all the available evidence.
  • Horribly subverted in World War Z where "Quislings", humans who pretend to be zombies (to the point of literally believing they are zombies) are just so much more zombie chow.
  • Ruthlessly exploited in the backstory of Harry Potter. Many Death Eaters were able to escape punishment by claiming to have been under the mind-control Imperius Curse. While there really were a lot of Death Eaters only there because of the Imperius, or perfectly mundane peer pressure and emotional manipulation for that matter, willing Death Eaters like the Malfoys exploited the fact that it's really hard to prove whether the curse has been cast in order to walk free.
  • Tarra from The Ancestor Cell, at least in Fitz's conception. He thinks she's led on by Kellen, but it's obvious she's leading the rich kids on and is the Man Behind the Man. Her "first name" is Mother, the title of a Faction Paradox agent, a vicious Cult engaging in Temporal Paradoxes and whose goal is to destroy the structure of time itself.
  • The Dresden Files
    • The Knights of the Blackened Denarius are a group of Fallen Angels that inhabit the Thirty Pieces of Silver. If a human picks up one of the coins, they expose themselves to the Fallen's influence. Most of these people are Mind Raped into submission, but a fair few of the coin holders are working with the Fallen of their own free choice, for various reasons.
    • Played for Laughs when Bob the Skull tries to get Harry to let him out for a night:
      Harry Dresden: No way. Last time I let you out, you got into a frat party and started an orgy.
      Bob the Skull: I didn't do anything another couple of kegs of beer wouldn't have done!
  • In Animorphs the world is being invaded by Puppeteer Parasites, but it's noted that a fair number of the human hosts actually agreed to be infested voluntarily, either because they're quislings or because they were just so depressed and alone that they would join any group that seemed to offer them kindness. Although it's implied even many of the "voluntary" Controllers didn't really know what they were getting themselves into, like Tobias in "Back to Before."
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew Diggory and Polly stumble upon a room of very realistic statues, along with a bell. A poem next to the bell challenges anyone who comes to ring it, and notes that if they don't, they'll have to spend the rest of their lives wondering what would have happened. Diggory rings it over Polly's objections, thus waking up the "statue" of the evil Queen Jadis. He plays it off that reading the poem put him under some sort of enchantment, making him so curious that he had no choice; under Aslan's gentle scolding, however, he admits that no, he was just pretending so that he had an excuse to satisfy his curiosity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • "I've Got You Under My Skin" involves a boy who is apparently being possessed by a demon. When the demon is finally exorcised, he reveals that the boy was already more evil than he was: he was so evil, in fact, that he was not so much possessed by the demon as imprisoning him.
    • In "Forgiving", after Wesley conspires to kidnap the baby Connor (and gets his throat cut for his trouble), Angel visits him in the hospital. Angel is at pains to stress that he's still Angel (and not the soul-less Angelus) before proceeding to try to smother him with a pillow.
    • A perfect example is Connor in the fourth season. Jasmine has the power to enthrall anyone who sees her; only contact with her blood can break the spell, at which point the victim sees her true, horrific face. Fred is accidentally freed this way, and she manages to free the rest of the cast one by one. But when they try to cure Connor, he betrays them — it turns out that due to their blood relationship (he's the father of Jasmine's human vessel), he's never been under Jasmine's spell. He's just so tired of fighting and being manipulated that he's willing to go along with her Utopia Justifies the Means thing.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In a series fraught with Evil Twin and Brainwashed and Crazy Power Rangers, Power Rangers S.P.D. chose to break the chain and give us the A-Squad, a team of "elite" Rangers thought to have been lost in space (no pun intended), but had really faked their disappearance to voluntarily join with the Troobian army, believing it'll eventually crush the SPD and wanted to be on "the winning side" when it happened. All well and good... until a Canon Discontinuity in the Disney Adventures follow-up comic reversed it back to Brainwashed and Crazy. This Retcon does illustrate how it can often be hard to tell when somebody's really Not Brainwashed: somebody who really has been brainwashed is rather unlikely to say so, after all. If they did, it would mean they were brainwashed really poorly. On the other hand, at the start of the season, before they were captured, one of the B-Squad Rangers notes that something is off about the A-Squad.
    • On a lighter note, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers plays with this between Zedd and Rita. At first, she used a love potion. Later, Goldar will use a love potion antidote on Zedd. No effect. Goldar concludes to this trope, although it's possible that the antidote worked only on the love potion displayed in this episode, not on the one used fifteen episodes earlier.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Sword of Kahless", Worf and the legendary Klingon warrior Kor find an ancient heirloom that has the power to create a new golden age for the Klingon Empire. As the episode unfolds, they become increasingly at odds with one another over who should be the one to present it to the Empire, and even who gets to carry it. The fans were expecting some kind of silly tech explanation for this behavior (i.e., that the artifact was brainwashing them), but no — it's just ordinary jealousy and petty macho posturing. Is this trope therefore Truth in Television, do you think? That said, there is also a serious issue; Worf sees the sword as a religious icon that should belong to the Emperor, while Martok thinks it's a cultural treasure and should go the Chancellor. In the end, they conclude that introducing it would spark a civil war and deliberately lose it again.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Stefan believes this is why he and Damon fell for Katherine. Damon disagrees, and tells Stefan he was never compelled (he would know since the compulsion would have worn off once he became a vampire himself) and knew she was an evil, murderous vampire... but did not know she was having sex with Stefan as well as him. Katherine herself says that she only took away Stefan's fear, which seems to be the truth. She's never shown telling him, under compulsion, to love her. And let's be honest, his reaction to seeing her vamp face was the base caveman reaction of fear of something he didn't understand.
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Making Friends and Influencing People", Ward, a HYDRA mole who betrayed the team in Season 1, reveals during an interrogation that HYDRA sometimes uses Mind Control to force people to join them, but Ward quickly makes clear he was never brainwashed and everything he's done was of his own free will. Downplayed though since he was recruited and conditioned as a troubled young teen by charismatic sociopath John Garrett, so technically he fits the more traditional real-world definition of "brainwashed" by being a victim of indoctrination, which puts him in a murky gray area even after he starts pursuing more selfish end goals for himself (since he's clearly Ax-Crazy and not entirely sane from a combination of that and an abusive childhood).
  • Jessica Jones (2015): Kilgrave generally resorts to mind control to get people to do his bidding. So when a team of goons shows up to rescue him as Jessica, Trish and Simpson attempt to take him to a Black Site, Jessica thinks that these goons are being controlled. When she and Simpson capture and interrogate one of the goons, Jessica is thrown for a loop when the man admits that Kilgrave paid them, not brainwashed them. Jessica realizes that Kilgrave used money instead of brainwashing because he wanted to ensure he could still control them if his powers were temporarily disabled.
  • Kamen Rider
    • Kamen Rider Decade: On Diend's world, everyone is brainwashed into subservience by Jashin 14, seemingly including Diend's brother, Junichi. But when Jashin is defeated and his mind control broken, it's revealed that Junichi wasn't brainwashed and had actually been working with the villain completely of his own volition from the very start.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Some time into the story, the previously-deceased Kiriya Kujo is revived by Masamune Dan as an extra ally for the villains' side. Emu is convinced that Masamune has reprogrammed Kiriya into working for him, so attempts to reprogram Kiriya back to their side with Maximum Mighty X. Only for Kiriya to kick him into the ocean and reveal that he was working for Masamune entirely of his own free will. But as it turns out, Kiriya was simply pretending to be loyal to Masamune in a bid to get close enough to steal the Proto Gashats.
    • Kamen Rider Zero-One: When Aruto is revealed to be Ark-One, the remaining heroic Riders are convinced that he is in some way being possessed by the Ark, which has happened to various people before. But they later learn, much to their shock, that Aruto has gone over to the dark side entirely of his own accord out of grief and rage over Horobi's murder of Is.
  • Treadstone: In the flashbacks to 1973, CIA agent John Bentley calls out his captor Petra Andropov on how he's been tortured and brainwashed, so she replies that one day people will volunteer for this treatment. In the present day, CIA agent Matt Edwards says he's going to bring down Treadstone, only for the Treadstone asset he's working with to ask why she should help him do so as she volunteered for the treatment.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In 2011, TNA had a lesbian love triangle storyline where Winter used a Love Potion to make Angelina Love dump Velvet Sky and hook up with her instead, while viciously assaulting Velvet. Eventually, Angelina reveals that she's snapped out of it, but loves Winter anyway and genuinely wants to hurt Velvet.

    Video Games 
  • In AFK Arena, after the formerly-human god of thunder Zaphrael's son was kidnapped by a cult and forced to become host for two Hypogeans, he had no choice but to kill him. His human wife Lucretia, being Forced to Watch by the same cult (along with this being the last straw after a long, neglectful, loveless marriage), willingly volunteered to be their host instead to have the power to get revenge. While it was widely assumed that the Hypogeans were controlling and manipulating her at first, it was later revealed in Lucretia's "Dolly's Corner" profile that, no: she's the one controlling them.
    "Demonic whispers have no effect on me. I just want the gods to know: from now on, nobody will ignore my feelings!"
  • In the Assassin's Creed II "Bonfire of the Vanities" DLC, Ezio must assassinate a number of Savonarola's assistants who shout his propaganda from rooftops and high walls. One of them turns out to be a true believer without the influence of the Apple. He laughs at Ezio for thinking that the Apple is the only way to make people believe something.
  • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance: It is revealed that The Dragon to Big Bad Void Dark, General Bloodis, is none other than Noble Demon martial arts master Goldion, having been defeated and brainwashed into servitude by Void, his own son. Luckily, Goldion's students Killia and Zeroken manage to master the "final technique" of his teachings, Avidya Holy Water, which has the power to break him free. And it doesn't work, Bloodis stays loyal to Void. They try again, but still he remains Bloodis. However, it is eventually revealed that they did break him free the first time; Goldion simply pretended to still be evil in order to secretly help the rebels and act as a Stealth Mentor.
  • Halfway through Dragon Quest VIII, the heroes find out that the supposed Big Bad Dhoulmagus was actually possessed by the spirit of Rapthorne contained within his scepter. This force possesses several other characters over the course of the game, so when Marcello picks up the scepter and imprisons the heroes, and they hear that the Lord High Priest is dead and Marcello has taken over the church, they naturally suspect he's the latest victim. As it turns out, Marcello resisted the possession and killed the Lord High Priest of his own free will, for Ambition Is Evil reasons. It's possible he was still being influenced, albeit more subtly than the other holders of the scepter.
  • In EarthBound, Ness's "friend" Porky (aka Pokey) is often seen with brainwashed humans, even claiming to have been brainwashed and subsequently freed following the Happy Happy Village incident. Halfway through the game, he finally just flat-out admits that he is actually working for Giygas of his own volition.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a minor example pop up in background dialogue. Hang around the Jarl's keep in Riften and you will hear Jarl Laila Law-Giver ask her court mage to work out what sort of mind control or possession has taken hold of her son recently. Said mage has to break the news that, in all likelihood, her son genuinely does support the Imperials.
  • In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, this trope was used when Kain — who was repeatedly brainwashed in the first game — insists that he is acting of his own volition when he attacks several of his former allies. It is later discovered that he wasn't brainwashed at all — he was an Enemy Without.
  • Michalis of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light killed his own father, took the throne of Macedon, and ruled as a power-hungry tyrant. When his sister Minerva finds him Not Quite Dead in the sequel, she assumes he was brainwashed by Gharnef (And since Gharnef brainwashed at least two other characters into being evil, she's right to be suspicious). Turns out he was a case of this trope, as Gharnef had in fact used More than Mind Control, playing on his ambition and desire to improve Macedon's standing in the world. The Face–Heel Turn was completely genuine. Of course, this also means he's able to pull a genuine Heel–Face Turn later.
    • This is basically the biggest plot twist of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones if you choose to follow Ephraim's path. Turns out Lyon was never possessed by the Demon King. He simply summoned his soul by using dark magic, became corrupted by power from it, and then pretended to have been possessed in order to easily control his followers. Of course, at the very end, upon Lyon's defeat, the Demon King's soul does end up truly taking over, and implying that he was manipulating Lyon by preying on his darkest thoughts and emotions, into aiding Fomortiis in his goals. And that he let Lyon get away with what he was doing because it was good for his plans too. None of this happens if you choose to follow Eirika's path. In this latter version, Lyon really was possessed the whole time.
    • In the Birthright route of Fire Emblem Fates, Xander assumes the protagonist is brainwashed by the Hoshidan royals. They are not.
    • This happens again in Fire Emblem Heroes. Most Heroes are forced into the service of the Emblian Empire by being placed under a contract that makes them fight for them. Xander, on the other hand, decides to continue to follow the Emblians even after he is released from his contract because he believes Big Bad Princess Veronica is just a lonely girl that he needs to help.
  • The Valkyrie bonus bosses in God of War (PS4) have all been trapped in corrupted physical forms by Odin; killing them merely frees their spirits to do their actual job again. The enemy Valkyries in God of War Ragnarök, Gná, Hrist, and Mist, on the other hand, are honestly loyal to Odin without brainwashing involved.
  • Most of the enemies fought in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven are protagonists brainwashed by anomalies (and in some cases brought Back from the Dead), as indicated by a purple aura around them. However, most characters who were villainous do not have the aura (though some do, like Stroheim and Akira); those who served Dio in the first place continue to do so, Diego is a mercenary, Kira (and his future self, disguised as Kosaku) just wants to escape being hunted by the Joestars, and Joshu is still a brat even after he's de-brainwashed. Funny Valentine initially allied with Heaven Ascension Dio of his own free will, but later on betrayed him and only fought the protagonists to test their strength. Either way, he was unaffected by the anomalies.
  • In Macross 30: The Voice that Connects the Galaxy, a number of heroic characters are found to be brainwashed to fight for the Big Bad. It's therefore a surprise to see that Shin Kudo is not. He's fighting for the enemy of his own will. His reasons turn out to be because the Big Bad told him what happens to Earth at the end of the Zentraedi War, and he's desperate to prevent that from happening. Understandable that he'd feel this way: he's the only heroic pilot from before the Zentraedi War, and thus the only one who never imagined such a thing could happen, while for everyone else it's simply a fact of history.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 5 a signal that makes people aggressive starts spreading out and the player (immune via Plot Coupon) must shut the signal in each area down, usually meaning he has to fight his teammates first. One of the fights, however (Charlie in Team Protoman, Dusk in Team Colonel) reveals that the character wasn't affected, he just wanted to fight Lan.
  • Mega Man X4: In a series where Reploids regularly get infected by the Sigma Virus and turn violent, the entirety of Repliforce as well as (possibly) Magma Dragoon are Mavericks that are not infected. Sigma just managed to play their attitudes to his advantage in order to incite their Maverick behaviour on their own accord — Magma Dragoon was tempted by Sigma into destroying the Sky Lagoon on the notion that it would goad X or Zero into fighting him (he really wanted to fight and defeat them), and Colonel refused to get Repliforce to stand down after being suspected in involvement with the Sky Lagoon incident, causing the main conflict of the plot to occur.
    • The New Generation Reploids in Mega Man X8 have total virus immunity, which they love to remind the heroes, who can't understand why they'd go Maverick. It's later revealed that their copy chips contain Sigma's DNA, and Lumine explains that they can "go Maverick at will," possibly meaning that they subscribe to Sigma's Evilutionary Biologist ideals without needing to be brainwashed into it by the Maverick Virus.
  • In Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, it is slowly revealed that the Hillbilly Horrors you meet are in fact Brainwashed and Crazy. Except for the Psychopathic Manchild Lucas. He turns out to have been already a murderer even before all of this and just hangs around after escaping the brainwashing for the perks.
  • In Suikoden: The Big Bad of the game has most of the empire's soldiers under her Mind Control, and everyone (including her) thinks she has the king under that power, too. At the very end of the game, though, he reveals that he was never really under her control, and was acting the way he did because he genuinely loved her.
  • In Super Robot Wars: Original Generation 2, much of the early plot revolves around surviving members of the "School" on the opposing side trying to "save" one of your pilots from obvious brainwashing. Of course, she's on your side entirely by choice, and they're the ones undergoing brainwashing.
  • In Terra Invicta, the invading Hydra are able to use "pherocytes" to effectively Mind Control other species, including humans. However, the leader of the pro-alien Servants, Judith Howell, wants the Hydra to take over Earth of her own free will. She is deeply pro-alien from the start, and demonstrates a very high degree of resistance to the pherocytes. The Hydra seriously consider killing her when she starts debating them under conditions that should have rendered her an unthinking pawn, before realizing that a willing servant is more useful than a mind-controlled one. They even start taking her suggestions into account.
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE: Until chapter 5, the party deals with artists who've been brainwashed into a state of insanity by powerful Mirages. Towards the end of chapter 5, they face Yatsufusa and they assume he's brainwashed like everyone else before him. But no, he's fully aware of his actions and is working with the Mirages of his own free will; he's completely insane and wants to destroy the world because he thinks that'd be the greatest form of entertainment.
  • In Warcraft III most Orcs believed their enslavement to the Burning Legion was forced on them by Gul'dan. Grom revealed that the chieftains had willingly accepted the Legion's offers of power in exchange for serving them, with Grom being the most eager.
    • There is also one in World of Warcraft. The players are sent to assassinate Emperor Dagran Thaurissan, the Evil Emperor of the Dark Iron and rescue the captive Princess Moira Bronzebeard. It however turned out that she took a liking to him and the two were Happily Married with a child on the way, much to the player's surprise.
    • In the Stonecore, there's a rock giant that you're tasked by Therazane to kill named Ozruk. At first, she sent agents to free him from whatever magic binds him to this Twilight's Hammer dungeon. "No such magic was placed upon him."
    • One theory about Garrosh Hellscream's increasing aggression was some form of mind control, but like his father it turned out to be a simple desire for power and conquest with little thought to the consequences.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, while Mumkhar probably was brainwashed (since he was Reforged into a Minion), anything about attacking his former allies and stealing the Monado was redundant. To prove his point, he threatens to kill Fiora a second time, despite the fact that she had been turned into a Face like him, just to torment Dunban.
    • Additionally, when Dickson is revealed to have been Evil All Along, several of the party members initially believe Zanza has him brainwashed, telling him to snap out of it. He quickly shoots this down:
      Dickson: You can quit your bellyaching! I'm in total control! I've always been like this! Ever since long before any of you lot were born!
  • Ys: Memories of Celceta uses this trope, although not particularly sanely. The Bad Guys start kidnapping villagers and making them wear magic masks which give them super-strength and also make them obey their new masters. And the sub-boss is the village chief's son Remnos. Oh no! He was clearly mind-controlled too! ...actually he was just faking it, and only got the super-strength from the mask, because he was nebulously awesome and good at everything, including resisting mind control? (Also awesome at fighting, art, music, scholarship. He was just hiding his true talents the whole time to... not shame his elder sister with how awesome he was in comparison.) Why he went along with the bad guys' plan which involved wounding and stealing from the villagers (including his father!), and why the bad guys let him keep tagging along after he reveals he wants to "help" them of his own free will, is a question better less unasked. The narrative treats Remnos as a Good Guy spy of course rather than a villain... despite this not really happening...
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom has several of Yugi's actual friends brainwashed into enemy roles in the in-universe video game. Bakura attacks under similar circumstances... and turns out to be his evil alter ego. Act surprised.

    Web Comics 
  • The final arc of It's Walky! deals with several mind-controlled former teammates... and one who, it turns out, switched sides by choice.
    "He wasn't hypnotised, merely disgruntled."
  • In Erfworld, Jillian concludes that Wanda rejects her urging to desert Stanley because she is bound by a loyalty spell. When an ally with spell-detecting abilities informs her that Wanda is not under any loyalty spells, she flatly refuses to believe it. But she comes around for the most part when Wanda tries to kill her, though.
  • In The Order of the Stick #640, after Vaarsuvius takes great pleasure in killing an opponent (and their entire extended family) it is revealed that the Deal with the Devil they made had no effect on their alignment or actions— essentially, the character merely revealed their true self. The character was told the spell could affect their alignment, with the implication that this was done to give an excuse for indulging their own darkest impulses.
  • At the end of chapter three in Cucumber Quest, the "Roselings"—little plant-minions whom the Guardener had been brainwashed from his own Guardlings—reveal that they served Rosemaster willingly because she was much nicer than the Guardener was. (And also that he wasn't their master in the first place; he'd just shown up and started bossing them around.) Cucumber gives them Rosemaster's Disaster stone, effectively her remains, so they can look after it.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-804 was investigated up, down, and sideways for any possible memetic properties that would compel anyone to operate it despite knowing that it would destroy them and anything manmade in its area of effect. The result of all their exhaustive research... nothing. The only test subjects with any interest in potentially operating it were the sort of sociopaths who already wanted to watch the world burn. The chief researcher is forced to conclude that the reason the reclusive activist community that created SCP-804 tried to use it to destroy humanity simply because they wanted to do it.
  • S&D Tier: Played with. Morgan's superhero brother Chad is thoroughly convinced that the reason Morgan commits crimes and hangs out with supervillain Alex is that Alex has brainwashed them for some nefarious purpose and it's his duty to rescue them. In reality, Morgan had no interest in being Chad's sidekick, became a villain on their own, and they and Alex are best friends. Unlike most examples, Morgan is making no effort to pretend they're not acting of their own volition, and Alex has attempted to disabuse Chad of the notion that any coercion is going on multiple times. Chad simply won't hear it, partially because he's too self-involved to imagine that his sibling wouldn't want to be his sidekick, and partially because he's an idiot.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "Empress Eyes", Ice King appears to have fallen under the spell of a vampire with mind-control powers, but it turns out his mind is too addled to fall for it. The only reason Ice King was following her orders was that the Empress was a pretty lady he thought was interested in him.
  • In the Justice League story "The Brave and the Bold", Gorilla Grodd uses a mind control helmet as his main weapon. Once it's broken, it turns out that the scientist who was assisting him was in love with him all along.
    Flash: Internet romances, huh? Go figure.
  • In the pilot episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, our hero is surprised to find his ex-partner Warp Darkmatter is not only alive but had been working for the Big Bad his entire career. Unable to accept that his buddy was Evil All Along, Buzz offers several tried-and-true possible explanations:
    Buzz: But how... of course! Amnesia!
    Warp: No.
    Buzz: Evil clone.
    Warp: No...
    Buzz: Android replica!
    Warp: No.
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long, Spud makes a deal with Fury, one of the villainous Gorgon sisters, who claims that she will make his cheerleader crush Stacy fall in love with him in a plot to free her sisters without interference. And when Stacy does decide she likes Spud, he thinks that it's because of this supposed "love spell," even though she continues to act far more fickle than you'd think someone truly under a love spell would act. In the end, like any other Deal with the Devil, Spud has to break off his alliance with the Gorgon and prepares himself for Stacy to break up with him now that she's not enchanted anymore. But Spud is relieved to find that there was never a love spell, and Stacy was Not Brainwashed.
  • In the Ben 10: Alien Force episode "Above And Beyond", the Plumbers' Helpers thought Ben was Brainwashed and Crazy when he randomly attacked them and Max in a satellite station. Except that he wasn't; he was only acting to test their teamwork skills, and Max was in on it.
  • Beast Machines:
    • Optimus Primal believes that Megatron has brainwashed Rhinox and turned him into the villainous Tankor. While technically correct — he was brainwashed at first — after his spark is awakened, Tankor continues to oppose Optimus, as he has grown disillusioned with him after the failure of the Beast Wars.
    • An interesting variation was Silverbolt, who was originally an intensely noble paladin-type and got brainwashed by Megatron into Jetstorm. When he was eventually freed of the brainwashing, however, he was quite upset — he had actually found it liberating to be freed of his own strict code of honor. He decided not to be re-brainwashed when he had the opportunity later, however.
    • Comedy-relief punching bag Waspinator got brainwashed into the motorcycle-based Thrust. When he was finally freed of his brainwashing he was quite upset as well, since "biker-bot was cool!" and he liked being cool for a change.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Unlike Adora, Catra didn't fall for the Horde's propaganda as a child and knew all along about their true villainous nature, but simply didn't care after a while. She was honestly shocked that Adora didn't know the truth.
  • The Spectacular Spider Man: When Peter learns that the symbiote has bonded to Eddie Brock (who is like a brother to him in this continuity just like in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics), he thinks that it's corrupting Eddie like it tried to do to him and begs him to fight its influence. Eddie responds by saying that he's not being controlled, he just shares the symbiote's desire to destroy Peter (the symbiote wants to kill Peter because he rejected it, and Eddie wants to kill him because Peter's actions indirectly screwed Eddie over). Eventually Eddie reveals that he's always resented Peter, because even though their parents died in the same accident, Peter was taken in by his aunt and uncle, and Eddie ended up all alone... until now. That being said, as it had already been established that the symbiote can and does affect the character of whoever wears it by bringing out their dark side, it is possible that Eddie was simply in denial- while he may indeed have unconsciously resented Peter for all those reasons, it is likely that the symbiote exaggerated and played upon it while smothering the more genuinely positive feelings towards him that he had displayed earlier in the series. Humans Are Flawed, after all.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, most of the akumatized villains are Brainwashed and Crazy victims of the series' Big Bad Hawk Moth. However, several people have allowed themselves to be akumatized of their own volition.
    • Gabriel Agreste/The Collector is Hawk Moth, and akumatizes himself at one point to throw suspicion off of his civilian identity.
    • Lila Rossi/Volpina/Chameleon resents Ladybug for exposing her chronic lies to Adrien and offers herself to Hawk Moth to get revenge on her.
    • Nathalie Sancoeur/Catalyst is Gabriel's personal assistant and in on his secret, and allows herself to be akumatized to aid him in one of his most dangerous plans.
    • Chloé Bourgeois/Miracle Queen is manipulated by Hawk Moth into joining him willingly due to her newfound resentment towards Ladybug for no longer allowing her to be a superhero with the Bee Miraculous (for her own safety, as Hawk Moth knew her identity, plus Chloé was being reckless). Like Lila, she allows Hawk Moth to akumatize her so she can get revenge.
    • Tomoe Tsurugi/Ikari Gozen was genuinely brainwashed during her first akumatization, but later on she starts working for Hawk Moth, and lets herself get akumatized again as a way to test combining akuma powers with Miraculous powers.
    • The heroes never actually saw Catalyst, as she remained in the lair the whole time. A streighter example is Safari. Nathalie once again volunteers to be akumatized, getting her access to several different powers. She is fully operating under her own will when she fights the heroes, even expressing her intent to betray Monarch and blackmailing him to let her keep her powers. When the battle was over they cast shame on Monarch for "taking advantage" of the sick, unaware he had actually been tricked.
  • Young Justice (2010):
    • The third season focuses on Superhuman Trafficking, where victims (usually kids) are captured and implanted with Mind Control Devices. However, the mid-season finale reveals that Tara Markov is working with the Light even after said device is removed and they're taken in by the heroes.
    • In the fourth season, Fury of Infinity, Inc. claims she and the other Infinitors were controlled while working for the Light. Trajectory and Everyman's behavior suggests that even if that is true, they at least are working for the Light of their own free will.
  • The Angry Beavers: In "Zooing Time", Norbert is put in a zoo, in part because of Daggett, and discovers that it's a great place to live. Daggett, meanwhile, feels responsible for the situation and tries to rescue him, convinced that he's brainwashed
  • In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Hunkahunka", Lilo's friend Keoni has a crush on Pleakley (in his horrible disguise as a human woman). Lilo, Stitch, and Jumba are quick to blame the Monster of the Week, but no, he actually does have a crush on Pleakley. (For context: Pleakley has green skin, one eye, and three legs.)
  • The South Park episode "Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers" involves evil plants that use mind-controlling spores to turn Goths into becoming Emos (which are totally different!). This trope is played straight with Firkle, but played with for Henrietta: there are no mind control spores, she's just suggestible enough to change cliques when she thinks she's being brainwashed.
  • Amphibia: Apothecary Gary is a special type of mushroom that can use his spores to control others, turning them into his mindless zombies. After his first defeat and near death he barely avoided extinction by taking control of Jeremy the beetle, and when he returns he has an entire village worshiping him as their leader that have his spores on their heads. However, he reveals he was found and taken in by this peaceful group of frog farmers, and that they actually wanted Gary's spores, because it made them better gardeners, allowing them to empathically feel the needs of all plants, and because they were willing to receive them they got to keep their minds intact, thus achieving a true symbiotic relationship.
    Apothecary Gary: It wasn't mind control — not this time, really — and with this power, we turned Gardenton into a paradise. I've never had willing subjects before, and let me tell you, it makes a big difference.
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Most clones are forced in executing Order 66 via a control chip in their heads. Clone Force 99 avoid most of it due to their being different from the "regs", but Crosshairs remains with the Empire even after the others go rogue. In the first season finale, the others get a chance to remove his chip... and find it was removed already.


Video Example(s):


Removed Chip Long Ago.

Crosshair reveals to Clone Force 99 That he had his Inhibitor chip removed a long time ago, but still willingly serves the Empire because it's the only purpose he sees for himself in this new era.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / NotBrainwashed

Media sources: