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People Puppets

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Linguini can get awkward if given a scalp massage.

Ron Stoppable: Hey, stop hitting yourself!
Professor Dementor: I cannot!

Not Mind Controlbody control!

Some guys just feel the need to be in control... of everything. Including you. No, not with possession, not through manipulation; we mean literally controlling your body, forcing you to move as he wishes, and turning you into his personal People Puppets.

Such a character, usually a villain, can control his victims' limbs as if they were marionettes on a set of strings. Sometimes he'll actually have a puppet-theme, and many a Demonic Dummy has powers like this to play on the irony of a person being puppet-ed by the puppets; but other times a character just happens to have this ability along with related Psychic Powers. In either case, those controlled will often move in Marionette Motion.

Either way, he can manipulate others' bodies while they're still in 'em, much to his victims' dismay... as said victims are usually conscious, confused, and complaining (sometimes loudly, to inform allies — and the audience — that "I ...can't... control my... body!") Or maybe they Can Only Move the Eyes. Most times, they haven't been Brainwashed or anything, as they're protesting mightily — it's just that there's not much they can do about it. For some reason, many character's mouths seem to be immune to this, as they will often protest whatever it is that they're being made to do. This may be related to Voices Are Mental.

Often shown by having the bad guy says "Kneel" to the person. The person says "I will never kneel before you!" — and then they duly get made to kneel. Worse, this can also be used to make them hit themselves.

Occasionally corpses can be animated and used as People Puppets, but if a corpse's every motion is not explicitly controlled by its animator, then there's a good chance it's just an average zombie.

If it is the puppet's own weapon which is controlling them, they are a victim of Weapon Wields You.

The ability to turn people into People Puppets is often a very specific form of Mind over Matter.

Don't let this happen to you! Take a quick course in Heroic Willpower to build up resistance!

And, yes, there are erotic examples of this. Just use your imagination.

Subtrope of Body Snatcher. Compare with Dead Guy Puppet, Brain with a Manual Control, Compelling Voice. Not to be confused with Puppet Permutation, in which a character is transformed into a literal puppet. Also not to be confused with Meat Puppet which is a type of manipulated Host. See also Living Doll Collector; and Playing with Puppets for when the puppeteer starts toying with his puppet, usually in a cruel fashion.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Happens in the anime version of Black Butler, to Elizabeth.
  • Shiki from Black Cat manages to do this to Rinslet by stinging her with one of his puppet bees, which inject people's body with a poison that allows him to control their movements.
  • Bleach:
    • The Hollow known as Numb Chandelier shoots seeds at her victims. The seeds' roots grow throughout the bodies of people, taking control and forcing them to attack each other.
    • Uryu Ishida turns himself into a puppet when he's been paralyzed by a toxin, using strings of spirit energy to move his body like a marionette.
    • Anything struck by Zommari's Amor attack would be subject to his will. This could be limited to limbs if it only struck there, but a mark on the head would grant him complete body control.
    • Either this or Brainwashed and Crazy is being currently used by the Vandereich to decimate the Shinigamis that are a part of the Mission Control squads.
    • Giselle from the Vandenreich can do this too, but only if the target is splattered with her blood.
    • Pernida can extend his nerves and use them to control muscles of his enemies, but instead of controlling them, he simply contorts their muscles so hard, that their bodies are reduced to paste.
  • There's an episode of Cardcaptor Sakura in which Eriol does this to Syaoran with invisible threads, forcing the struggling kid to attack Sakura against his will. She has to transform The Sword into a Sakura card and then cut the threads.
  • Makima from Chainsaw Man is able to do this to anyone who she believes is lesser than her, leaving her victims completely unable to remember what it was they did under her control after the task is completed.
  • One spider-like enemy in Chrono Crusade can control people with tiny spiders on cobweb strings.
  • One of the Geass-using children in Turn 14 of Code Geass can do this, as the Black Knight who opens his Knightmare's cockpit unfortunately discovers.
  • Sherrill Kamelot from D.Gray-Man has the power to telekinetically move the bodies of others like this, including stopping them from talking.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the demon Gyutaro can fully coordinate Dakiís body so her movements can become even more deadly than when she is acting independently, in the end Daki even tries to excuse herself not doing better against the slayers because her brother just didnít control her body well enough. Itís then revealed by Muzan that Gyutaro was the real Upper 6, who would have won if he just fought alone and from the beginning without Daki, Muzan perceives Gyutaro making Daki his partner as a weakness and the last remaining fragment of humanity he had.
  • Digimon:
    • Puppetmon from Digimon Adventure did this trope to the letter: invisible strings and all.
    • In Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning, Luiís fears about the Partner Digimon being slaves donít come from nowhere as itís made quite clear that Ukkomon has been using his powers to force Luiís abusive mother and comatose father into acting like ideal and loving guardians. When Ukkomon vanishes his parents collapse into husks like marionettes with strings cut.
  • Seilah from Fairy Tail has her curse Macro, which allows her to give 'commands' to people. It's later shown that her powers are not just controlling people's bodies, but total control of anything, including inanimate objects and herself.
  • Genzou and Koshiro from Genzo are the Kings of this trope. They can do marvels with their puppets, ranging from decoys to sleeping gases to exploding dolls to Puppets made of flesh. Genzo is also frequently shown while making said puppets in disturbing detail...
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
    • The Laughing Man never shows his face to anyone. If he has to talk with someone, he usually hijacks a person's brain by hacking into its neural implants.
    • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society, a hacker who's actually called the Puppeteer takes control over Togusa, forces him to kidnap his own daughter, and then gives him back control of his right arm, giving him the option of suicide. Togusa picks that option, only to be interrupted. The Puppeteer's entire MO is to force people in situations where they kill themselves of their free will, since they consider the alternative worse.
    • There are also several cases of the Major possessing people — often including often her own teammates, surprisingly enough — throughout the series (not to mention the manga), including when she forces Batou to hit himself, and when she makes Togusa give a very different speech from what he intended at a trial.
  • Hunter ◊ Hunter:
    • Neferpitou can create puppets out of corpses. It's used also on themselves when Gon kills them.
    • Taking the trope slightly less literally, Shalnark can control people's bodies with nen by sticking a special antenna into them.
    • Similarly, Illumi creates "Needlemen" with his nen; he can control the minds and bodies of people pierced with his needles. He can also use his needles to control the bodies of the dead.
    • Chrollo combines Order Stamp and Gallery Fake to create this ability. He uses Gallery Fake to create nonsentient clones of people, then uses Order Stamp to control them. Order Stamp's strict limitationsnote  provide the tradeoff that Chrollo can control dozens, if not hundreds of puppets at a time, enough to overwhelm even Hisoka.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Yura of the Hair took unconscious victims and controlled them all with an elaborate rigging of fine, invisible hairs.
    • Let's not forget the Corpse Crows, who can use the recently deceased as vessels (albeit somewhat awkwardly).
    • There's also Kagura, who can temporarily use the bodies of the dead, even making them talk by manipulating wind.
    • Yet another example: the flea Shōga hijacks the bodies of the main cast, leading them to (falsely) assume a demon is possessing them.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • In Part 3, Enya Geil's Stand, Justice, allows her to control anyone who enters its radius, provided they have been wounded first.
    • Hierophant Green can do the same thing if it gets inside a person. Kakyoin even held a set of puppet strings when he was shown doing this, but it is unknown if he really needs to.
    • Hazamada Toshikazu's Stand, Surface, can not only copy the appearance and personality of it's victim, but force them to imitate their movements as well.
    • Tiziano's Stand, Talking Heads, can not only force the user to tell lies, but control their bodies such that even pointing or nodding becomes a method for miscommunication as Narancia learns the hard way.
    • Part 8 has Ojiro Sasame, whose stand (appropriately named Fun Fun Fun) can control people's limbs through injuries, as long as they are directly underneath him.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Speech is a technique used by the Inumaki Family that infuses words with cursed energy to ensure that whoever hears it must behave as commanded. When they say run, you RUN.
  • Played with in Kinnikuman's tag-team Tournament Arc, in which two members of last arc's Quirky Miniboss Squad use cursed dolls that can be arranged in ways in which people who are normally best friends become mortal enemies, at which point it will be More than Mind Control, with justifications as to why said friends are now enemies. Needless to say, having knowledge of the dolls enables the heroes to attempt to resist the force, eventually causing two said dolls to fuse together to represent their now-unbreakable friendship.
  • Little Witch Academia (2017): After being beaten in a duel by Amanda, Louis finds himself trapped inside a corrupted suit of armor, possessed by Croix's Pixels, forcing him to fight her once again, only this time, involuntarily.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
  • Magic Knight Rayearth: Dance Battler Caldina not only has the power to hypnotize people with her bells, as seen with Hikaru and Umi, but she can also take complete control of their bodies while they're still conscious. She uses this on Fuu in order to force her to attack her entranced friends with a sword when she proves to be difficult.
  • Medaka Box: "Weighted Words" allows the user to manipulate electrical signals to interfere with the motor skills of others.
  • Naruto has several ninja puppeteers from the Hidden Sand Village, but they've only used human beings as puppets a few times, most noticeably by Chiyo to Sakura (though the latter fully consents to it) and by Sasori to a bunch of modified corpses during their battle against each other.
    • Ninja from the Nara clan can use a version of this power through shadow manipulation; if their shadow (which they can warp) touches the target's, the target has no choice but to mimic the shadow user's exact motions. Shikamaru makes particularly good use of this technique in his battles.
    • The Yamanaka clan has an advanced technique which allows them to telepathically control the bodies of others, though Ino herself can't seem to use it in the manga.
    • Nagato/Pain's eyes let him do this with corpses that had chakra receivers pierced in their bodies, each of which has a different power. At walking proximity to him, he can even fire those rods out of his own body to control living people. However, the first person we saw him try it on happened to be Naruto, who has the Nine-Tailed Fox's chakra as well as his own Sage chakra allowing him to resist control. Naruto even uses the phrase "dead people puppets" when referring to Pain in the Viz translation of Chapter 551 when realizing that the resurrected Nagato can wield those powers by himself. Pain can also allow his subordinates to remotely control corpses with one-third the power of their controller. Tobi gains this ability after he steals Nagato's eyes off of his corpse.
    • An Edo Tensei-revived Sasori later does this with several members of Anko's team, who were alive, but apparently too weak to resist. This was necessary due to his loss of all his battle-ready puppets.
    • In The Lost Tower, the heroine nearly strangled herself with assistance from the villain.
  • Evangeline from Negima! Magister Negi Magi is another puppet master and once used her 'invisible wires' in a fight against Setsuna to make her move as she wanted. Including coming close to breaking her back.
  • One Piece:
    • Donquixote Doflamingo, one of the Shichibukai, is shown to have this power by way of using strings conjured up from his Devil Fruit power. Said strings are so thin they're almost invisible, and so resistant that none of the controlled people were able to do crap to resist it. Doflamingo being the dick he is, he mainly uses this to force people to attack each other.
    • Luffy himself used an attack where he "controlled" an opponent by wrapping his limbs around theirs, both controlling their movements and doubling as a human shield. In this case, it was played for laughs.
  • Gilbert Nightray of PandoraHearts gets this treatment when he, Oz, and Alice go to the mansion where the coming-of-age ceremonies are held. Zwei uses her chain Doldum to bind his limbs with puppet strings and force him to kill Oz. He ends up breaking free before he does, of course. Suffice to say, his mind was also being controlled.
  • In an episode of Pokémon: Battle Frontier, the webbing of an Ariados is used in order to control the movements of May and her Pokémon, sabotaging their performance in the Kanto Contest.
  • Princess Tutu has several examples with The Chessmaster Drosselmeyer: When he captures Princess Tutu and brings her to his dimension, he forces her to dance and actually attempts to turn her into a puppet, so that he will be in complete control. Near the end of the series, he uses his abilities to try to force Fakir, the only other person who can control the story, to write Ahiru's death — Fakir is able to stop him by stabbing himself in the hand.
  • In Ranma Ĺ, Ranma is capable of human puppeteering, where he wraps his arms and legs around a victim, and gains control over their limbs. He has done this twice to Kuno, once when he was unconscious and a second time when he was awake.
  • Mukuro Rokudo from Reborn! (2004) displays such an ability through use of a special bullet; once he shoots himself in the head with the bullet, anyone whom he has scratched with his trident will be vulnerable to possession.
    • Daemon Spade is shown to have a similar power when he reveals himself to be possessing Julie Katou's body and takes over Chrome Dokuro's mind, sans bullet.
  • Rebuild World: This happens all the time with Alpha having access to the control unit of Akira's Powered Armor. It's used to correct his aiming at first, but as Akira gets into more dangerous situations, it becomes clear that this is Cast from Hit Points with how it damages his muscles and bones, in part from Alpha disabling the Power Limiter safeties to get the most performance out of his suit. The same principles behind Alpha manipulating Akira's suit get used for a few Night of the Living Mooks situations wherein headshots do nothing; Akira has to shoot the control units of the dead's suits. When fighting the Lion Steel Corp, they build redundancies into the remote-control functions for their armors that allow even severed limbs to fight on.
  • Palla Palla from Sailor Moon uses a Voodoo Doll to control the Sailor Senshi.
  • The Spectre Griffon Minos from Saint Seiya. In the his attack "Cosmic Marionette", he uses the cosmos to create very fine and solid power cords, almost invisible, clinging to the arms and legs of the enemy, these allow Minos keep the body of his opponent difficult to control and manipulate their movements at will, as a mere marionette.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins: Gowther can use their power, "Invasion", to perform the "Jack" technique, allowing them to manipulate the nerves of the target, and take direct control of their movements.
  • Sgt. Frog: All Mekeke's doing.
  • Sonic X: After getting an electronic device from one of Eggman's robots lodged in his ear and someone unintentionally activating a remote control, Sonic is forced into running endlessly for as long as it's stuck inside.
  • Space Patrol Luluco: The Blackhole App is designed specifically for shoplifting. And it can do more than just get you objects. It can apparently shoplift people too, as Midori demonstrates by forcing Nova to shoot at Luluco.
  • In the two-part story "War At The Public Bathhouse" of To Love Ru, Yami, along with Lala, Haruna and Mikan, is attacked in a public bath by two bounty hunters who use Rito's body (controlled by a device) because they know that Yami will never kill him. Thanks to Lala, who hack the device, their plan fail and are defeat.
    • A more dark example in the sequel "Darkness" where the villainess Azenda uses a mind-controlled Mikan to attack, humiliate and kill Yami. Thanks to Momo, this time, the plan fail.
  • Sunny from Toriko can control people by inserting his "feelers" into their nerve centers.
  • Legato in Trigun. Psychic in nature in the anime, where he also has some degree of telepathy. In the manga, he has the mutant or cybernetic ability to extend nearly-invisible "wires" of some sort that can directly activate other people's muscles. He is powerful enough that he can do this to groups of people at once.
  • Dietrich von Lohengrin of Trinity Blood uses nerve-controlling monofilament wire to do this to people as his main method of attack — his Rosenkreuz Orden codename is "Puppeteer".
  • The Wedding Peach episode "Puppet of Love" features a demon puppet who controls people once he gets a lock of their hair. Pota gets a lock of Yo's hair in order to force him to accept her gifts and eat her cooking; amusingly, the puppet stops Yo from explaining himself to the others by making him cover his mouth with his own hand. That's inconspicuous...

    Comic Books 
  • Aesthetic Note: There are literally dozens of comic book covers featuring giant-sized supervillains looming over the main characters, manipulating their bodies with marionette strings. This is usually more symbolic than anything (ranking right up there with "Supervillains playing chess with the heroes" covers) but expect anyone so depicted to be a Manipulative Bastard, if not a mind-or-body controller.
  • Amulet has the Elf King, who is revealed has actually been Dead All Along, with his corpse being puppeteered by the spirit of the Amulet, who is using him and his influence to wage war against Windsor.
  • At one point in Astro City, a group called the Sterling Foundation managed to put a device on Starfighter which allowed them to control him.
  • In Batman and Robin (2009), Deathstroke uses Damian's body by means of an implant inserted in Damian's spine to attack Dick and try to get revenge on him. Dick figures out what's going on, and it ends rather badly for Deathstroke.
  • Doctor Doom had an arc in Champions (1975) and Super-Villain Team-Up in which a mind-controlling gas turns the entire world into his puppet slaves, and none the wiser.
  • Copycat of DV8 and GenĻ≥. As her name suggests, her powers usually involved forcing people to copy her motions.
  • The Skull of Earth X takes this to the extreme: he's so good at this that can control millions of people at the same time. A few of the members of his (unwilling) army note that they can't even go to the bathroom or see to personal hygiene unless he remembers to let them.
  • Empowered has Mindf██k, who along with her brother uses the "hijack motor control and leave them conscious" version. Mindf██k was forced by her brother to remove her eyes and tongue when she was younger and used it herself to force Emp out of a single use portal when they were both trapped on a space station undergoing reentry.
  • The Eternals (1985) has Ghaur, priest-lord of the Deviants. He combines this with some level of mind control and can target any other Deviant whose genetic code he knows. Heís the sort of villain whoíll force someone to shoot themselves in the head while leaving their mind and voice free to plead for mercy. Just to make a point. Heís also fond of seizing control of other Deviants' powers and mutations with this ability, them using that against them.
  • Fantastic Four: The Puppet Master's greatest strength was his ability to create extremely lifelike marionette puppets with extreme speed that he modeled after real people. Through intense concentration, he is able to control the physical actions of anyone after whom he models one of his puppets. How he did this was never adequately explained, except that he used some type of special radioactive clay to make his puppets. He may have some type of psionic ability which complemented this process, enabling him to control his victims.
  • An arc of Legion of Super-Heroes post-Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! revealed that Saturn Girl had been accidentally doing this to Cosmic Boy's comatose body for the past ten-or-so issues. Cosmic Boy was surprisingly non-freaked out about it when he woke up.
  • Ms. Marvel (2014): A Kree suit Kamala starts wearing briefly takes control of her body and makes her become more violent towards criminals beyond what is necessary. However, when she rejects it fully, it separates and becomes its own being.
  • Karma from New Mutants has the ability to take possession of the minds of other people or animals. She projects a psionic energy surge that overwhelms the consciousness of another; this renders the victim unconscious while placing her own mind in command. It allows her to alter the victim's perceptions and memories, command people to fall asleep or divulge information, and operate their bodies as if they were an extension of her own.
  • This is the exact concept of the OMACs in Infinite Crisis: an army of veritable Cape Busters composed of unwilling human hosts possessed by a cybernetic nanovirus granting them several physical enhancements, but submerging their conscious mind, replaced by a permanent uplink to a rampant A.I..
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Sabrina can do this with her magic, usually for very minor things, like forcing Harvey to give a painful back massage nonstop or making her rivals dance or run uncontrollably.
  • Some of the villains in Sleepwalker do this, including the demonic minions of Sleepwalker's archnemesis Cobweb, either through trying to force their victim's conscious mind to do what they say, or simply by suppressing the victim's will and taking over their bodies. Sleepwalker is able to break the villains' control and expel them from their victims' minds by zapping the human hosts with his warp beams. Unlike a normal situation, when being zapped with Sleepy's warp beams subjects a living entity to severe Body Horror and a nasty mental trauma, the humans possessed by Cobweb's demons don't seem to suffer any ill effects, possibly because the demons have completely suppressed their minds and thus take the brunt of the blast.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • After Sonic is captured by Eggman, the mad doctor uses a device that's able to control him and force him into battling the Freedom Fighters. He seems to take this pretty well, judging by how casually he talks during it. Then again, this is Sonic we're talking about, so perhaps it's not too surprising.
    • Bunnie's Artificial Limbs have been taken over twice in this fashion — once by A.D.A.M.'s nanites (briefly), and later by Iron Queen using her power to control technology.
  • The final arc of Spider-Girl centers around Peter Parker being mentally enslaved by the Green Goblin, and Spider-Girl's trip into her dad's subconscious in an attempt to free him from the Goblin's possession.
  • Venom: A common ability of the Venom symbiote is to be able to take control of those it has bonded with, regardless of whether or not they are even conscious. This can be helpful in cases when Eddie is incapacitated and Venom needs to help him recover.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The White Magician sells an unsuspecting Brian Elliot a bit of supercomputer that starts merging with the teen's body, which he then uses to control said body and frame the terrified teen as an up-and-coming supervillain. He leaves Brian covered with debilitating fatal burns after their "fight", before he has a chance to defend himself where anyone not allied with the White Magician can hear him.
  • X-Men:
    • Worm of the Savage Land Mutates (great name for a band) can control the body of anyone who he coats with slime that he secretes from the suckers on his hands. Let the fanfic begin!
    • So can Professor X, though it is rather harder for him, and he only uses it as an absolute last resort (except in Ultimate X-Men, in which he's a bit freer with his mojo).
    • Bastion uses the transmode virus he resurrects a gallery of X-villains with to do this, but only for the ones who aren't onboard with his genocidal plans (or if they start getting cold feet). At one point during X-Men: Second Coming, he's seen using Bolivar Trask as an unwilling sock puppet, and Trask has difficulty using Bastion's Spock Speak. Then, when the telepathic Monet temporarily breaks the link, Trask takes a gun to his head to stop Bastion re-assuming control.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Fable of Joyful Wing, the Wolf King has been turned into one when Dog meets him, with silver jewelry that he'd been given as a gift actually magical puppet strings that control his body. Dog frees him of them by burning them off and cutting them with a knife, though once he gets the collar off his neck the Wolf King is able to help by gnawing them off himself.
  • In the Innavedr book of Austraeoh, Pilate gets puppeted by a magical squirrel named Simon.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
  • The now cancelled Dreamworks Animation project, Me and My Shadow, would have featured the concept of shadows being able to do this to their human counterparts, and one even leading a massive rebellion to instill a hostile takeover over all of humanity in this fashion.
  • Injustice (2021): After becoming a ghost, Dick Greyson becomes a body surfer who is able to control whoever he possesses. However, he usually does this to help his allies from beyond the grave, rather than outright manipulate them.
  • In Ratatouille, Remy the rat manages to study as a restaurant chef despite the obvious ban on rats through his partnership with a young man named Linguini who works in the kitchen. Remy discovers he can cause involuntary movement in Linguini by tugging certain hairs on his head, and they figure out a system where Remy hides under Linguini's hat and controls him like a marionette, making it look like Linguini is doing the cooking all by himself.
  • In the climax of Sausage Party, Douche sticks his nozzle up a gun-wielding Darren's ass and controls him by pulling on his testicles.
  • In Shrek Forever After, the Pied Piper can force many different creatures to dance by playing his magical flute.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: When Fix-It Felix Jr. is actually being played, Felix is technically a slave who obeys the player's controls. The same could very well be said for any character that is directly controlled by a player, such as the First-Person Shooter robot in Hero's Duty, and presumably the player's kart in Sugar Rush. It is also inverted when Felix moves on his own during game time; the controls on the arcade console move by themselves.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Beetlejuice movie plays this for laughs with the Maitlands controlling the Deetzes and their guests, making them sing Harry Belafonte's ''Banana Boat Song''.
    • "Learn to throw your voice! Fool your friends! Fun at parties!"
  • In Chicago it used in a fantasy sequence as a metaphor for manipulation of the press.
  • Evil Dead 2: Ash's hand is possessed by a Deadite and is turned against him. Fortunately, he gets the idea to amputate it before it can spread to the rest of his body. But that doesn't seem to stop it entirely...
  • Two movies use this in different ways: Gamer is basically a First-Person Shooter where you are the person and a death row inmate is the shooter — and one shooter wants out. Less related is Surrogates, which is basically Second Life in real life, only the "avatars" are slightly overdone robots. Someone has found a way to kill the "users" when they kill the robots, which was previously impossible.
  • Inspector Gadget 2: Using a circuit override chip, Dr. Claw is able to do this to Gadget.
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space: One of the Klowns kills police sergeant John Vernon and turns him into a ventriloquist dummy.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • In The Mask, when Stanley, in Mask-mode, finds himself surrounded by police with drawn guns, he makes them sing and dance along with him to "Cuban Pete." A couple of the officers, at least initially, have perplexed facial expressions as they do so.
  • The titular Nanny McPhee's first spell does this to the children, forcing them to continue misbehaving against their will, putting their youngest sibling in very immediate danger, and forces them all to say "Please, Nanny McPhee" before she breaks the spell. This alone is enough to scare all the children except for Simon into listening to her.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
  • Oz the Great and Powerful: Theodora manages to do this to Oscar after becoming The Wicked Witch Of The West, forcing him to move like a puppet on a string through the air whilst mocking his offer to dance with her earlier in the film.
  • Parable: Quite literally. Magnus the puppeteer puts his performers in harnesses and strings, lifts them up, and then manipulates them in a "human marionette" circus act.
  • At the end of Stardust, the witch Lamia controls Septimus' corpse. The ghosts of the other brothers look at his ghost in confusion; he just shrugs. Particularly notable since Lamia makes no attempt to provide realistic motion, rather more or less moving the sword and letting the body dangle behind it.
  • Thunderbirds: Used for a Mythology Gag when the Hood uses his Psychic Powers to force Brains to walk like a Supermarionation parody.
  • Upgrade: Whenever Grey gives full control of his body to his STEM implant, the AI moves the body on its own, often doing or causing more damage than Grey intended. By the end, STEM has completely taken over, trapping Grey inside his own mind.
  • Venom (2018): While bonded with Eddie Brock, the titular symbiote is capable of doing this to him in certain ways, and although he warms up to the alien eventually, he is shown constantly struggling to keep him in check.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Professor X briefly takes control of Toad and Sabretooth in an attempt to rescue Rogue from Magneto.
    • X2: X-Men United:
      • Professor X freezes hundreds of people in place at a large museum.
      • During the finale, Jean Grey is able to use Xavier (a fellow psychic) as a conduit to communicate with Scott.
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • Charles immobilizes everyone except for Moira at the CIA Headquarters so that he can have a private telepathic conversation with her.
      • Xavier mentally forces a Soviet officer to fire on the Aral Sea, thus single-handedly preventing World War III.
      • Once Erik removes Shaw's telepathy-blocking helmet, Charles keeps Sebastian motionless.
    • The Wolverine: In The Stinger, Logan notices that everyone at the airport besides himself and Magneto has suddenly stopped dead in their tracks. Only one mutant in the franchise has been shown to possess this ability...
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Xavier possesses various people around Mystique at the airport to talk to her in a casual display of how creepy his power can be when he gets creative. He temporarily prevents Mystique's body from moving once he determines that she's pretending to be a secret service agent, although he still permits her to speak. President Nixon, his cabinet and Trask are put on "pause" when Charles tells Raven he won't push her anymore and that she's free to decide Trask's fate. After the climax, he also controls Magneto when Mystique knocks the latter's helmet off to free himself from the metal debris that fell on him earlier.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Professor X "insists" with his mind-control abilities that everyone at the CIA building "take a break" so that he and Havok can visit Agent MacTaggert without having to deal with security.
    • Dark Phoenix: Jean Grey forces Xavier to get out of his chair and walk up the stairs to her, which is painful for him because of his paraplegia.

  • In The Black Swan, Odile is a sympathetic character who is completely under her father's magical control when she dances with Siegfried. She turns on him shortly thereafter.
  • In Caliphate, there are chips that can be implanted in a person's head that allow the person so equipped to be operated remotely, as is done with Bernie Matheson and Zheng Ling. It used to be required that Imperial States of America agents for the successor agency to the CIA had one implanted until the Chinese demonstrated how they could be hacked, much to the worse for the ISA. Chip security was improved, but there still remains a strong aversion to "chipping", as the implantation procedure is called, among ISA agents.
  • Bloodwoman of "Clockpunk and the Vitalizer" has this as her power. Notably the "blood" part of her name doesn't refer to controlling people's blood, and therefore their bodies; her name comes from the fact that she usually causes her opponents to cut their own throats. Whether or not this is fatal is left uncertain.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, willing followers of Raguel who realize just how bad he is are body-controlled by him into continued obedience, being granted only the freedom to speak.
  • Morjin in Ea Cycle likes to turn his enemies into telepathically controlled puppets called ghuls. In addition, he does the same to clones of himself that he grew just for that purpose.
  • Elminster in Myth Drannor had the protagonist revived by a wizard who implanted some control into his new body, to the point of being able to force spellcasting. Of course, Mystra had her own idea of who's the boss to Elminster, so she simply slipped him a thought-only activated sex change spell along with an instructive vision. Not the same body — no controls.
  • The Emperor's Gift: At the end of the novel, Hyperion and Malchadiel take over the mind of a serf on Terra so that they can ring the Bell of Lost Souls for Malchadiel's twin brother Sothis.
  • One psychic in the Fingerprints series has this as his power. There's another who can achieve the same effect through general Mind Control.
  • Caine does this in Gone. One character says that he's never before heard of a telekinetic who can use his power on people, instead of just objects.
  • Voldemort does this to Harry in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. To make Harry bow for him, Voldy first uses the mind-controlling Imperius Curse, but Harry knows how to resist, so Voldemort just makes him do it by body control.
  • Modus operandi for Mesan bio-nanobots in Honor Harrington. The idea is extrapolated to its most terrible conclusions, as no one has (for now) invented a successful way to counter it that doesn't kill infected.
  • In The Jungle Book, Kaa does this to the Banderlog. Even Baloo and Bagheera are affected until Mowgli touches them.
  • One of the stories in Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky's 1926 novel The Letter Killers Club features two scientists who figure out how to cultivate a strain of bacteria to inhibit the nerves that control the muscles; in combination with an antenna sending out signals to manipulate the "ether wind" they can remote-control bodies subjected to this treatment. At first, the procedure is applied to patients in mental institutes only, but a population-wide programme is soon implemented. Not coincidentally, this story was written during Soviet repression of artists and creativity.
  • In the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn book Stone of Farewell, the main character comes across Skodi, a child-like young woman tending to a group of orphans. She turns out to be a witch, and she uses her powers to take control of Simon's body. (And no, not for the reasons you're thinking of; Simon thankfully dodges that bullet although she does plan to hand him over to the Big Bad in order to gain great power.) Her accidental death during an unholy ritual breaks her hold over Simon.
  • Men in Black: The Green Saliva Blues: Downplayed — the Nelek are a race of telepaths, who can mentally seize control of and paralyze other species. Zed is not happy when he learns the Nelek he'd reluctantly recruited had used their abilities to paralyze Jay and Elle so the alien could be free to devour a pair of Zahurians the group was hunting; fortunately, his attention being divided meant the two agents were able to break free and kill all three aliens.
  • In Mistborn, Kandra (protean beings who can assume the form of any body they eat) and Koloss (hulking, bestial Super Soldiers) are vulnerable to this. A sufficiently powerful Mistborn can establish control with a potent Emotion Bomb and can control their actions remotely thereafter. Since they were created from humans by their master, the Lord Ruler, this weakness is probably intentional.
  • In the Ravenor novels, Ravenor does this on a regular basis — usually to friends who are aware of it. His crippling injuries require it in order for him to do many things.
  • Sailor Nothing: Dark General Argon turns the Alpha Bitch, Ami, into an actual marionette. She survives, but her sanity doesn't.
  • Lourdes of the Star Shards Chronicles gains this ability as her superpowers develop.
  • The final part of the Star Trek Expanded Universe duology The Brave and the Bold concerns the final of the four Malkus Artifacts...a mind-control device which the spirit of Malkus himself resides. That spirit controls everyone on Narendra III and, through the events of the previous parts, Spock, McCoy, Kira, and Robert DeSoto. It is so complete that its victims can't even do autonomic functions by themselves. Spock defeats the control through a mind-meld with Worf, and Kira defeats it through sheer willpower.
  • Yoruka in Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle has a specific version: she can control Drag-Rides that are being worn by a person, but not empty Drag-Rides or people's actual bodies. This has several limitations: she must touch a Drag-Ride first, she can only control the part she touched, and the duration she can control them is proportional to the duration of the touch. She does have an additional weapon consisting of steel strings that she can set out like a spider's web, and can control any Drag-Rides that touch the strings as if she had touched them directly. She can also use this on herself, one application of which is activating her Drag-Ride's Super Mode.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Downplayed in The Warrior's Apprentice when Miles realizes that the mooks in power suits are working with the default settings and are therefore vulnerable to factory override codes. He only performs small changes like slowly raising the temperature thermostat on one suit, reversing the catheter flow on another, and causing some of their weapons to misfire, knowing that if they realize what he's doing, they'll just cut out their comms.
  • Senator Gregg Hartmann from Wild Cards had this ability, though he attributed it to his Split Personality, Puppetman.
  • Worm:
    • Given a few hours of effort, Regent can 'learn' a person's nervous system and assume direct control of their entire body — including their powers if they have any. These victims are trapped, conscious and aware, in a body they can no longer control.
    • Khepri can instantly control anyone in a short 16 feet radius. Somewhat weak unless one of her first victims were to extend her range indefinitely with portals...
    • In the sequel, Kingdom Come is able to make himself explode, and then puppet anyone who comes into contact with any part of his exploded body, including fluids. (He is able to rebuild his body once he's done.) His victims have a barely existing, dream-like recollection of events under his control.
  • An oddly literal version occurs in the Young Sherlock Holmes novel Death Cloud. Evil Cripple Baron Maupertuis, who is paralysed from the waist down, has his servants wheel him around on a wheeled frame, moving his legs with cords like a giant puppet to allow him to fence with Sherlock.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • In "Smile Time", the showrunner of a kids puppet TV show is turned by demon puppets into a living people puppet. Complete with the hole in the back. When not controlled by one of the demons, he's barely capable of speaking.
      Framkin: Please, let me...
      Polo: Someone say you could join in?
      Framkin: Let me die...
      Polo: Are you sayin' you wanna talk to the hand? Oh, I think he does. Come on, fat boy. Why don't you talk-to-THE HAND!
      [Polo shoves his hand into a puppet hole in Framkin's lower back; he screams and sits bolt upright]
      Groofus: Heh heh! Make him swallow his tongue again!
    • In "Hell Bound", a necromancer is able to do this to Angel and Spike because they're both dead, being vampires.
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead: Ash's evil demonic offspring decapitates a woman, then crawls up her... nether regions, and proceeds to use the hollowed out corpse as if it were a suit of Powered Armor. Ash takes a hell of a beating at first, before he realizes that the corpse makes for a pretty handy prison.
  • In an episode of The Avengers (1960s), a man seeks revenge on Steed and Peel by forcing a scientist to invent a device that turns them into human puppets while they are still conscious.
  • The Puppet Master from Bones turns the bodies of his victims into puppets on strings. Everyone is terrified that it's their former colleague Zack, but it isn't. Zack can't even kill the guy to save his own life.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Five Doctors", the Coronet of Rassilon is used to turn others into people puppets.
    • In "The Shakespeare Code", the Carrionites use a puppet to control Shakespeare.
    • In "Midnight", an alien entity takes control of the Doctor's body, paralyzing him and forcing him to repeat everything it says.
    • In "Asylum of the Daleks", several people are turned into "Dalek Puppets", several of which are unaware that they are being controlled.
  • The Electric Company (2009): In the episode "Game On", when Deek, a video game character, is brought to the real world. But in doing so, he is also susceptible to being controlled by Manny, just as he was in the game.
  • In Farscape, Scorpius uses a mind-control device that allows him to manipulate Grunchlk's body.
  • In the Fringe episode "Of Human Action", Tyler Carson has this power, although he does a pretty thorough job of making other people look like the bad guys.
  • A Witch Doctor uses Voodoo Dolls to control the castaways like puppets in the Gilligan's Island episode "Voodoo".
  • Hannah Montana: The titular character is subject to this in "Papa's Got A Brand New Friend", after receiving a new choreographer who chooses a more direct approach to the "puppet on a string" metaphor and putting literal puppet strings on her body, operated by a remote-controlled device.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
    • "A Vile Hunger for Your Hammering Heart": With his vampire powers, Louis de Pointe du Lac causes Daniel Molloy's right arm to shake uncontrollably in a painful manner (presumably made worse by the latter's Parkinson's disease).
    • "The Thing Lay Still": Lestat de Lioncourt makes a man at the cinema slap himself continuously.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Fourze has the Pyxis Zodiarts, based on the Pyxis constellation, or the compass. In addition to being able to find things with special appendages on his arms, he can use those same appendages to control people, forcing them to move wherever he wants them to. Albeit with a very stiff, obviously unnatural gait.
    • Kamen Rider Double has the Puppeteer Dopant, who starts off controlling a Creepy Doll but swiftly moves up to actual humans.
  • Key & Peele: In one sketch where Steve Urkel is portrayed as an all-powerful monster, the icon uses his otherworldly power to force actor Reginald Vel Johnson to point a gun at his own head and temporarily take control of him.
  • LazyTown:
    • In an episode, Robbie gets his hands on a remote control that can control anyone. He then proceeds to have some fun with Sportacus. No, not like that!
    • In another episode Sportacus is too sleepy to do anything, so Pixel invents a machine that controls him while he's asleep with puppet strings. Unfortunately, Pixel is asleep as well and leaves Stephanie and Ziggy to control him. It doesn't end well.
    • Robbie invents a pair of remote-controlled boots in the episode "Defeeted" that allow him to take control of the movements of his feet, leaving the rest of his body unable to stop himself as he makes a fool of himself on stage instead of performing his advertised stunt. After they're removed from his feet, Robbie's tricked into wearing them with Pixel at the controls instead.
  • Done to the heroes by a warlock in an episode of The Legend of Dick and Dom, by means of VoodooDolls; they beat themselves up and nearly walk over a cliff.
  • Vex, a Dark Fae from Lost Girl, is from a dangerous species of Fae called Mezmers. As such, he can manipulate people like puppets, and even have them kill themselves while controlling them. Even Dyson is wary of crossing him.
  • Moon Knight (2022): When Steven attempts to give his scarab to Arthur Harrow, Khonshu demonstrates this by taking control of his body and forcing him to keep it away from him. Marc, another resident of his body, is apparently able to do this too. However, it's subverted when it's revealed he was actually a Split Personality birthed from trauma the whole time.
  • Power Rangers: This is the tactic of a Monster of the Week or two.
    • The Power Rangers Ninja Storm seasons have two major villains who can do it, though the usage of it is different (Choobo uses it to control the Rangers, Vexacus uses it to smash 'em into each other a lot and then drop 'em.)
    • One episode of Power Rangers S.P.D. has Shifter implant a key inside of the Red Ranger that allows him to control his body with a remote control, later using him as a hostage in order to block the way of their weapons and turn his own against them.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • This happens to Lister in the episode "Demons & Angels". He still has the power of speech, resulting in memorable lines such as: "Look out — I'm gonna kill ya!"
    • It's also happened to Rimmer. Since he's a hologram generated by the ship's computer, the computer is capable of taking control of his "body". In "Queeg", the backup computer takes control of him in order to force him to exercise (why a hologram would need to exercise is not really explained).
  • Seriously Weird: In Puppet Master", an accident means Harris is able to control his brother Justin's body, an opportunity he uses to humiliate his brother.
  • Stargate Atlantis. Wraith queens. One word: Kneel.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Plato's Stepchildren", when the Platonians used telekinesis to control the Enterprise landing party's bodies (but not their minds). Their control was so great that they could make them speak. And in Spock's case, laugh or cry. They were also very keen on the Power Perversion Potential aspect of this particular trick.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Skin of Evil", Armus uses what is apparently telekinesis to control Data's body. Since he's an android, Data is much calmer about it than most victims of this trope.
    • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Cathexis" has an alien moving from person to person on Voyager forcing them to do things — those concerned have no memory of the event afterwards. Inverts the usual trope in that the puppeteer is actually the good guy, a member of the crew who's been forced from his body and is now roaming the ship as an Energy Being, trying to stop them from going into an alien trap.
  • Warehouse 13: Cecil B. Demille's riding crop grants the user total control of another person's body.
  • An episode of Wonder Woman (1975) has a powerful psychic take revenge on Wonder Woman for the death of his brother and forces her to perform a less iconic version of her minefield walk that nearly ends up with her being blown to smithereens.
  • The Worst Witch: In "Witch Switch", several people control a muggle by means of a spell like this. Because he then repeats every action the person controlling him takes (which means any things accidentally said as well), there is a lot of mishap, which makes the guy seem high or insane.

  • Done in the cover-art of Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast, which shows the Devil controlling someone like a marionette and is in turn controlled by the band's mascot Eddie in a similar fashion.
  • *NSYNC milked this concept as much as possible for their album No Strings Attached. The album's cover portrays them dangling from strings like puppets and the video for "Bye Bye Bye" portrays them as marionettes being controlled by a Psycho Ex-Girlfriend and escaping from her. Their debut television performance of the song had several dancers dangling from strings controlled by Giant Hands of Doom while the band performed and their tour promoting the album opens with them dangling from the roof and dressed in patchwork doll costumes.
  • Invoked by Metallica's "Master of Puppets" ("Obey your master! Master! Master of puppets, I'm pulling your strings!"), though it's more Mind Control than body one. The album's cover even has strings coming out of a graveyard.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting: The Blood Domain Cleric can briefly turn anyone with blood into a Blood Puppet, making them move and fight as the cleric pleases. They're even more effective at controlling sleeping or unconscious people, since they have no chance to resist before the cleric can turn them into a lethal marionette.
  • Older editions of Dungeons & Dragons make this possible with the Dominate Person or Dominate Monster spells. In spell compendium there is a spell called puppeteer that does this.
  • A major aspect of the antagonists in Mage: The Awakening, the Seers of the Throne, is the fact that they possess artifacts known as "Profane Urim" which allow them to do this. Its probably a major factor in their ability to effectively rule the world.
    • Vampire: The Masquerade had the Dominate clan ability, which at its highest levels let you physically possess another person. It also had the Presence ability, which covered Charm Person. The Ventrue had both, which went a long way to explaining why they were the de facto leaders of the Camarilla faction.
    • Geist: The Sin-Eaters features the Marionette Manifestation which, depending on the Keys invoked, allows a Sin-Eater to control machinery (Industrial), zombies (Stillness), animals (Primeval), or ghosts (Stigmata). There isn't really a control for normal people, though; the Passion Marionette is more about mindfuckery than bodily manipulation.
  • In Shadowrun there's a spell called "Contral Actions" which does exactly that.
  • Powerful psykers in Warhammer 40,000 are known to do this on occasion.

  • Be More Chill has the SQUIP, which, once digested and placed inside someone's mind, can control their motor skills, nerves, and vocal cords in order to help the host become more popular. However, what it truly wants is total control of the world and will remotely hijack them if necessary to achieve its goals. This, of course, happens to Jeremy near the end of the musical.
  • Beetlejuice brings back the iconic Day-O scene, of course, but Betelgeuse also manages to do this to both Adam and Barbara earlier on. He also adds the important information that pretty much any ghost is able to do this, which results in Lydia realizing she doesn't need him to scare her parents off. Whoops.
  • The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals: The Apotheosis is revealed to merely be using the corpses of the dead infected as puppets, using their appearances just to emotionally manipulate loved ones and lure them in.
  • Sera Myu: In Petite Etrangere, Prince Demande uses this on Usagi in order to force her to follow his whims and dance with him during his Villain Song, "Junpaku no Megami".

    Video Games 
  • One of the characters from Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits was the demon puppeteer Bebedora, who appeared to be a cute but Creepy Child but was really an ancient monster who could manipulate other creatures with magical puppet strings. When she joined your party she could control up to 2 enemies from the opposing team at a time (with no possibility for them to resist, although bosses were obviously immune), even replacing them when they died, making her extraordinarily powerful.
  • During the endgame of Bravely Second, the main party and you are subject to this by the final boss, Providence, who utilizes this ability to manipulate the medium of the game, making the party perform actions that would benefit him rather than hinder him, and worst of all — he threatens to make you delete your own save files. Luckily, Yew steps in to ensure that doesn't happen.
  • Breath of Fire II has a village where all the villagers have been taken over by facehuggers (looks just like those from Alien), that control people. They can be removed so that you can save the villager behind, however... or you can be a rat-bastard and kill the villager. He/she will have less HP.
  • In Crash of the Titans, you use Aku Aku to "jack" the powerful titans and use them as People Puppets (while riding on them) to beat or jack even more powerful titans. You spend the entire game Body Surfing.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, powerful Blood Mages can do this to enemies by controlling their blood.
  • Deltarune:
    • It's revealed that the Player been doing this to Kris the whole time through their SOUL, and it's only after it's forcibly removed from their body that they, or some unknown force, takes control away from them.
    • Another example in Chapter 2 involves Queen's usage of her wires, which she uses to both corrupt innocent programs into Werewires and control people like Berdly into doing her bidding in her boss fight.
  • Mudou, one of the commanders of Ruin in Duel Savior Destiny, has the ability to control people regardless of their will or strength. However, it apparently takes a significant amount of time to set up and can be broken under certain special conditions, which should hardly come as a surprise.
  • Elden Ring: Seluvis' magical specialty is potions that turn people into mindlessly obedient puppets (who in gameplay terms serve as summons). He even intends to do this to his lady Ranni with an extra-powerful puppet potion. She sees right through him and ends up either killing him or turning him into a puppet.
  • E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy allows players to remotely hack the cyberbrains of human and mechanical enemies, turning them over to his side. Alternatively, the player can directly control an enemy by hacking them, allowing them to order the enemy mook around, and telling them who to shoot. When the controlled mook dies, the camera goes back towards the player's body.
  • The "Control" spell from Final Fantasy does this to anyone affected by it. Though mostly used on monsters with the Beastmaster class, in Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII, it can be used on various enemies thanks to Fake Mustache and Manipulate Materia.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening: During their conversation together in the beach DLC map, Olivia and Tharja, albeit a bit begrudgingly by the latter, plan out a performance for the two of them, combining dance with magic. The sadistic dark mage, however, plans on taking this in a darker direction, plotting to paralyze the dancer's body from head to toe, and conducting the dance herself by controlling her limbs. Fortunately, she doesn't go through with it.
  • Ghost Master has the power 'dance macabre' which forces victims to dance around.
  • Ghost Trick: Yomiel is a 'manipulator' who can control other people's bodies against their will. As well as his own corpse, or those of animals.
  • God of War RagnarŲk: Binding spells are able to do this, taking command of the victim's body and incapacitating them in the process. One is placed on Freya by Odin that prevents her from going to other realms which must be undone. Odin manages to catch Kratos and Artreus in one and begins to gloat about their defeat in their faces, but ironically becomes victim to one himself by a freed Freya, who proceeds to strangle him with one.
  • Heroes of Newerth: The Puppet Master of Newerth has one of skills do this; Puppet Show. He makes the target automatically attack a new target, friend or foe. Suffice to say, several of his in-game quotes reflect his line of work.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • King Dedede is victim to this by Yin-Yarn and Taranza in Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby: Triple Deluxe respectively.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: Zatanna's Meter Burn version of the special move, Puppet Master, allows her to take control of her opponent's body, forcing them to walk right into her range of attack.
  • In The Last Remnant, when your union becomes Enthralled, they fall into the enemy's control, complete with puppet strings.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, the Jockey has the ability to ride Survivors, forcing them to run in any direction he guides them. The Survivor can resist a little, but is too panicked to throw the Jockey or drop to the ground.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Link learns the Command Melody which allows the player to control someone else. It's mainly used to control statues, and on willing partners like Medli and Makar.
  • In the first step of the final boss fight in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Chancellor Cole can take control of Zelda's armor, complete with puppet strings.
  • In LEGO Batman, the Riddler and the Mad Hatter can mind-control other characters; doing this to control some characters is required to clear some levels... and is kinda disturbing.
  • Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time: Control Magic allows the user to manipulate the movements of anyone as long as they're asleep or immobile. Akko and Amanda decide to try this on a sleeping Professor Finnelan, only to realize it's a lot less funny than they thought it would be.
  • Mario Party 3: Landing on a Bowser Space may result in the Koopa King using a special curse to force your character to move forwards or backwards.
  • Mass Effect: This is how Reaper Indoctrination works. The tie-in novel Mass Effect: Retribution goes into even greater terrifying detail about this. Not only do the Reapers assume direct control over you, but they don't particularly care about the harm/damage done to you outside of what suits their purposes. If they need your body to overtax itself in order to perform a task, they'll do it. Even when they're forced to release control and recharge themselves, they can still force it to release hormones and endorphins into your brain in order to control your mood and prevent you from killing yourself or put you to sleep until they've recovered. And even if you're aware of this entire process, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.
  • Melty Blood: Sion can do this to others via Etherlite. When attached to someone, it essentially hacks their nervous system and becomes a second control center for the body while compromising the brain.
  • Screaming Mantis from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots manipulates the nanomachines in people's bodies to control them like puppets (literally — you can see faint strings coming from the victims). Screaming Mantis is herself controlled by the ghost of Psycho Mantis, who himself often made puppeteer-like hand motions when controlling Meryl in Metal Gear Solid.
  • Puppetmasters in Miitopia are witch hat wearing, floating cloaked skeletons that can completely incapacitate Miis by taking control of their bodies. They only block them in slightly unnatural poses and do not make them attack te other Miis, though.
  • In Murdered: Soul Suspect, the Bell Killer eventually turns out to be a collective identity of people who were possessed by Abigail Williams in her "quest" to rid Salem of "witches". Even the Player Character himself has been used by her in this fashion at one point!
  • OFF: It is eventually revealed that Japhet is controlling the body of Valerie from within after the latter tried to eat him, with his real phoenix-like form bursting out of Valerie's body from the mouth.
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 4, Kunino-sagiri can do this to your party to make them attack you instead. This is expanded upon in Persona 4: The Animation where we get to see them actively struggle to control themselves and their Personas.
    • In Persona 4: Arena Ultimax, this happens to Labrys when Sho uses the remote control that previously controlled Aigis to take over her body and turn her against the party.
  • In Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, the psychic operatives Jov Leonov and Nicholas Wrightson both specialise in mind control, with various persons acting as eyes for the blinded Leonov and vessels for Wrightson's wandering consciousness. However, Leonov is the better of the two, able to control entire armies with his powers, even creating suicide bombers via his soldier's explosive collars. For added creepiness, he calls the mind-controlled soldiers "Meat Puppets."
  • In Psycho Waluigi, One of the game's main gimmicks is that Waluigi can use his new psychic powers to carry around enemies with natural abilities, like ice breath or fireballs, and use them as weapons to defeat other enemies.
  • In Resident Evil 5, Jill has become the victim of this by Wesker for the duration of the game.
  • The Animate Dead necromancy spell in Romancing SaGa plays this to a T, complete with strings. It sucks even more because multiple people can be controlled this way. Yeah, the final boss likes to spam this a lot...
  • In Second Sight, this is one of John Vattic's psychic powers in the form of an upgraded version of Psychic Projection.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse has you killed at the beginning of the game and subsequently revived by god of death Dagda...but in exchange, you become his personal vessel for carrying out his plan of deicide. Try to refuse to do something that he wants you to do? He will take over your body to make you do it.
  • The final boss of Skies of Arcadia pulls this out as one of his special moves, strings and all, and forces one of your party members to use their Limit Break on another party member.
  • The Guru of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is capable of mind-controlling Mooks by hopping onto their backs. He uses this primarily to make them ram into obstacles.
  • Sonic Shuffle: Forcegems can be used to this effect to make other players move a select amount of spaces forward on the game board.
  • Star Fox: Assault: The Aparoids, a race of creatures that assimilate technology and organic beings into their collective manage to do this to General Pepper and his flagship while he begs for Fox to kill him before any more damage is done.
  • In the Subspace Emissary mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Master Hand is being controlled like this — literally, with glowing yellow 'strings' and all — by Tabuu.
  • Undertale: By the end of the Genocide route, Chara has grown powerful enough to fully take control away from you and move Frisk on their own. They demonstrate this by forcing Frisk to initiate the final battle against Asgore and murdering Flowey without even giving you a choice. And both you and Frisk are helpless to do anything but watch.
  • Twisted Wonderland: Ruggie's unique magic "Laugh With Me" allows him to force his victim to mirror his body movements, but otherwise leaving them conscious.
  • Sir Zeliek in World of Warcraft. Unlike most Scourge, the Lich King let Zeliek keep his mind and soul — he just doesn't control his (now undead) body. The poor man was a paladin of very strong faith, so strong that the Light still serves him, even though he's undead. Unfortunately, the actual control of the Light apparently falls in with control of his body, so he begs players to flee or kill him even as he's smiting them with all the power of Holiness. He even apologizes and begs for forgiveness when he kills a player.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • Xenoblade Chronicles X: This entry in the series carries the status effect of Control, which can make enemies your allies instead. However, this can also be used on party members, forcing them to lose control of themselves and attack at random.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: M has the ability to take control of party members' bodies and force them to attack each other, leaving them completely unaware of what they were doing afterwards.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Peko Pekoyama's execution consists of Monokuma controlling her body with a doll as she charges through a horde of samurai. It gets worse, as she's made to injure Fuyuhiko's eye in the process, and dies being stabbed while holding him in her arms.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Caster Medea is able to create strings composed of mana that can be used to control the actions of others, even going as far as freezing people's throats so they can't so much as scream.
    • Command Seals in general have this effect on Servants, forcing them to obey whatever command their Master gives them, no matter what their feeling on them might be.
  • The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog: The train itself, which is revealed to be a Badnik, enforces this upon the Conductor. As it has developed a Yandere complex, it wishes for him to stay as its co-conductor forever, and ensures this by wrapping wires around his body and forcing him to operate the train like a puppet.
  • Umineko: When They Cry has Beatrice do this to Shannon and Kanon, albeit briefly, for the purpose of extending their arms forward to engrave her mark upon them.

    Web Animation 
  • In the World of the Damned story arc of Banana-nana-Ninja!, Seppuku enters his opponent's bloodstream and plugs his communicator into a tangle of neurons to amplify his signal and send a distress call. The hapless opponent embarrasses herself by speaking the radio transmissions out loud.
  • A rather meta example in hololive. Sometimes, one of the girls will go AFK and when paired with a collab partner, their avatar will go unattended. However, said collab partner may just get mischievous and puppeteer the avatar while they're away. This is naturally treated by the virtual idols as a Grand Theft Me, with Calliope Mori, Usada Pekora, Oozora Subaru, and Pavolia Reine being on the receiving ends of this.
    • During Calliope's 3D debut, Ina uses the power of the Ancient Ones to suddenly freeze Calli in place, pose her, and spin her around like a ballerina, all because she suggested that Ina do The Worm.
  • Church does this a couple of times after becoming a ghost in Red vs. Blue, but not maliciously, just when he really needs a body. The people he possesses typically don't remember anything that happened, though. Epsilon inherited this ability. (In contrast, O'Malley's victims tend to retain some elements of free will.) Arguably the Meta is like this by the end, either because of Sigma having control over him, or simply having so many A.I.s shouting in his head at once.
  • The Rhino and the Redbill: Similar to the ''Ratatouille" example above, Red guides his blind friend Niles by tugging the rhino's ears, which helps them in both navigating and in combat.
  • RWBY: During the events of Volume 8, Penny is hacked by Watts and given the order to open the vault and destroy herself afterwards. Fortunately, she manages to struggle against it, but only for so long, causing the poor girl to beg for death from the team in order to keep them safe.
  • In Underverse and other fan works using the character, Error!Sans is capable of manipulating people using strings from his eyes. He can pull them around puppet master style and uses them to fight their own allies.

  • Girl Genius: In the non-canon comic Personal Trainer, Agatha's training exoskeleton clank puppets her body to defend her against attacks while she's asleep.
  • The God of High School: Judge P's ability, "Marionette", creates special threads that can manipulate people's bodies from the inside once attached. She can also force them into speech as well as various other things when she needs information. It's certainly not an ability you'd want to be on the receiving end of...
  • Psycho Mantis attempts this in The Last Days Of Fox Hound as "an experiment" just to see if he can do it, much to the chagrin and disgust of the other Fox Hound members.
  • Runewriters of the mind magic variety can specialize in being able to control a person's physical actions while the person is still fully aware of what is happening. (The other specialties in the mind magic field are mind reading and illusions; a mind runewriter can only become proficient in one of the three).
  • A nasty bit in The Sanity Circus: After finding and tricking a Nameless Organisation member, Posey runs up being him and sticks a wind-up key through his back. Which she then starts winding up. Once done, she steps back with a smile before telling him to 'Go and tell them I say hello'. Staggering and janking, the man returns to the N.O. building and expressionlessly declares 'The Scarecrows are here' before collapsing forward.
  • The Wotch, starting with this comic and continuing for the rest of the fight.

    Web Original 
You will hear screaming.
They stole their voices.
  • The Jenkinsverse has biodrones, unfortunate humans (or nonhumans) whose brains have been riddled with control implants. The drone's control software can reference the memories and personality of the body so as to convincingly blend into society. The body's native personality has no conscious agency of their own beyond sending constant feedback to the control software that if it were conscious and in control right now, it would be screaming a whole lot.
  • In Mortasheen, this is the power of the monster Cackle, who was originally designed to watch over children — and yes, it is played for all the creepy it's worth. Inverted with the creature Victrossus, which is essentially a body that puppeteers the brains of others.
  • Nightmare Time:
    • In "The Witch in the Web," Uncle Wiley does this to a sleeping Pamela in order to choke Ms. Halloway while she's in the dream world, and if Hannah hadn't succeeded in fending off the witch, she would have done this to her as well.
    • In "Perky's Buds," the nighthawks turn Ziggs into one of these, forcing them to work as a farmhand, and to defend them from Emma.
  • Gaea from Noob gets the power to control the avatar of another player from her faction for ten seconds. After she reaches level 100 the power expands to thirty second for allied avatars and ten seconds for those of other factions. This gives her Manipulative Bastard qualifier a whole new meaning.
  • In The finale of There Will Be Brawl, Ness and Lucas do this to Princess Peach's days dead corpse. It's a reference to the concept of "Trophies" in the Smashverse. It gets worse: Bloodily Worse.
  • The mutant codenamed Skinwalker in the Whateley Universe can do this to one person. He takes over the person's body, and that person watches helplessly as Skinwalker does whatever he wants.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs (2020): One segment has the Warners Rage Against the Author on a conductor who can control the cartoon they're in by conducting the orchestra behind the screen. However the Warners get even and escape into the real world, trapping the conductor in the cartoon instead. From there, they force him into moving how they want using the same trick.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Denoted as "Bloodbending", some waterbenders are able to control the fluid in people's bodies under a full moon. This is considered taboo, if not completely wrong and unnatural, and not even thought of by most waterbenders — it was invented by Hama prior to the original series when she was that desperate to escape her prison and take revenge on the Fire Nation.
    • It's back in The Legend of Korra, as it turns out that bloodbending has been made public knowledge as well as outlawed, partially thanks to Katara's efforts. It's also shown that it's capable of rendering someone unconscious or even killing them by attacking the victim's internal organs. Terrifyingly enough, Councilman Tarrlok can do it without there even being a full moon. Even more so, Noatak (A.K.A. Amon), Tarrlok's older brother, can use it to take away bending altogether. And Yakone, the father of both Tarrlok and Noatak, was so good at this that he could bloodbend an entire courtroom without even moving his hands.
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Lost Soul", a Virtual Ghost villain downloads itself into Terry's Batsuit, taking control of it while Terry is inside.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: NOS-4-A2, a robotic vampire, is able to bite into the suits worn by space rangers, enabling him to control them while they're inside. Fortunately for Mira, as she has the ability to phase through objects, she's able to escape with no problem.
  • In Danny Phantom, good guy Tucker does this with baddie Skulker, using his computer skills to hack into his robotic suit and basically make an ass out of himself.
  • Dan Vs.: Dan does this to an unconscious Chris in "Dan vs the Animal Shelter" in order to use his credit card to buy explosives.
  • DC Super Hero Girls (2019): Livewire is able to do this with people who use Powered Armor by "hot-wiring" their suits and controlling them while they're inside. Bumblebee and the Blue Beetle have both been on the receiving ends of this, and both result in them dancing uncontrollably.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • You Do Dolls can make the person resembling them do just about anything, even going as far as forcing them to say things they otherwise wouldn't.
    • In the second The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour, Professor Calamitous does this to Jorgen whilst they are fused together since his intellect in their shared body is superior.
  • In the Family Guy episode "The Tan Aquatic with Steve Zissou", Peter goes on a bullying spree, and he ties strings to paraplegic Joe while forcing him to sing "The Lonely Goatherd".
  • Appears twice in Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes ("Puppet Master" and "Strings"), courtesy of supervillain Puppet Master and his radioactive clay.
  • Futurama gives us a variation of this: One of the professors judging Amy Wong's thesis defense is actually not a person at all, but a marionette being controlled by an evil extraterrestrial cat.
  • Grossology: In the episode "Vertigo A Go-Go", Lance uses a nano-device lodged inside Abby's ear to control her movements, and later, that of the entire student body.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): Using another uncommonly beneficial variation of this trope, Dr. Psycho does this to an unconscious Harley in order to help her finish the fight against Granny Goodness, winning Darkseid's favor in the process.
  • In one episode of Invader Zim, Zim shrinks himself and flies around inside of Dib's body, where Zim makes use of the arm control nerve... located in Dib's stomach.
    Dib: Arm control nerve?
    Zim: Yes! Arm control nerve!
    Dib: In my... belly?
    Zim: YES!
    Dib: Humans don't have arm control nerves...
    Zim: Do not question me! I control your arms!
  • Justice League Action has an episode where Toyman outfits Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg with devices that can control their every movement for the purpose of reenacting a fighting game in real life. However, Cyborg challenges him to a match using the real heroes on the condition that they'll be set free if he wins. Naturally, he obliges, and it goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • Kim Possible:
    • The Neuro-Compliance Chip in "The Twin Factor" is revealed to be this when Shego states in a fit of rage after being freed from it that she was aware of everything that was going on while under its control — especially Drakken's annoyingly boring rambling.
    • In "Ill-Suited", Professor Dementor uses a remote-control device to seize control of Kim's superpowered battlesuit. Unfortunately, Ron had stolen it from her closet to make himself a football hero. This leads directly into Kim and Ron's first fight, a room-destroying brawl that Ron is helpless to stop. Later Dementor gets a taste of his own medicine, leading to the quote above.
  • In the Love, Death & Robots episode "Bad Traveling", the thanapod creature uses the corpse of one of the sailors to speak and make its demands.
  • Martin Mystery: In one episode, a Corrupt Politician uses voodoo dolls in this way to take out his opponents.
  • The Mask: Stanley puts on the Sister Mask, a duplicate of the real Mask made by one of his enemies, which allows said baddie to take over his body and use his own cartoony abilities against him.
  • M.O.D.O.K. (2021): In an attempt to prevent AIM from being acquired, MODOK accidentally ends up in his wife's body and, though initially hesitant, manages to hijack it from the inside and forces her to attack her interviewer while it's still ongoing.
  • Motorcity: While its citizens initially believe that the KaneCo Safe-T suits are for protection, they actually become controlled by Kane in his attempts to find one of the Burners (his daughter Julie).
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: Happens to poor Jenny a total of three times throughout the series in differing fashions.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: A heroic example comes from K.O. being able to somewhat control the movements of his Superpowered Evil Side T.K.O. and force him to punch himself while he's stuck in his own mind. Later on, it's revealed in his Mental World that both the normal and Turbo versions of K.O.'s consciousness use various video game-like devices to pilot K.O.'s body. When they both try and control K.O. at the same time, the results are... messy.
  • The Owl House: Witches of the bard coven have the ability to use their magic via the music from their instruments to take control of the bodies of others as one group demonstrates on the legs of two of the emperor's goons.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016): The girls are subject to this when tricked into wearing special necklaces by an artifact thief that compel them to obey any command. However, their willpower wins out when faced with the decision to save the Professor.
  • ReBoot has this happen when Mouse literally hacked Enzo's brain and gave control of the body to Megabyte. Another episode has Megabyte infect a Humongous Mecha Dot was using with similar results.
  • Samurai Jack: In Season 5, shortly after Aku discovers that Ashi is his biological daughter, he begins manipulating her to fight Jack while she pleads for the Samurai to kill her.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Bye Bye Nerdie", Lisa isolates the "nerd" scent which compels bullies to beat up nerds. She demonstrates the effect in class by spraying local boxer Drederick Tatum with the scent. Nelson involuntarily gets out of his seat and starts punching Tatum repeatedly, sobbing and apologizing all the while.
    • Combined with Of Corpse He's Alive in "Weekend at Burnsie's" when Homer and Mr. Smithers believe Mr. Burns to be dead and use him as a puppet to fool a shareholders meeting. Luckily, the scheme has the inadvertent effect of restarting Mr. Burns' heart.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In his first appearance, Plankton goes into SpongeBob's head and installs controls directly into his brain, so that he can literally drive him into stealing a Krabby Patty.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • A rather nasty example occurs when the corpse of a clone trooper in a poorly lit cargo bay is used as a puppet by a large spider-like droid in order to trick the rest of the squad. They don't fall for it.
    • Count Dooku once uses the Force to make Padme aim her blaster at Bec Lawise and fire on him against her will.
  • Steven Universe: Future: While possessing White Diamond in "Homeworld Bound", Steven begins to puppeteer her body and after recollecting all of the trauma she put him through, threatens to bash her own head through a pillar as she looks on with absolute horror.
  • Sakko does this to Jinmay in the first episode of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! when Chiro successfully brings her back from his mind control to the point that he takes control of her arm to get a hold of him.
    Jinmay: I... I can't stop my arm!
    Sakko: Because I control it.
  • In Teen Titans (2003), Slade gives Terra a battlesuit that links their nervous systems, allowing him to assist her in using her powers. When Terra decides to leave Slade, he reveals that it fused itself to her skin and allows him to control her body completely. Terra manages to override it and kill Slade (for the moment).
  • Teen Titans Go!: Gizmo manages to do this to Cyborg by hacking him, allowing him to remotely control his limbs in front of Jinx while they're having a moment.
  • The Headmaster units in Transformers: Animated can take control of robots it attaches to (including Transformers), but it has to cut the head off first. Whereas Dirt Boss, the Decepticon made by the Allspark out of the Headmaster unit and a forklift, can take control by shooting a drill bit out of his forehead and into someone else's. He only has one though, so he has to retrieve it each time it's used.
  • This occurs literally in The Venture Brothers when The Monarch attaches strings to Dr. Venture's arms and legs and controls him with a giant robotic hand extending from his flying cocoon.
  • Wild Kratts: "Flight of the Draco" has one of the brothers getting captured by an evil fashion designer and put under a beam that forces him to catwalk wearing one of her tacky outfits, no less.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): People Puppet


The Pied Piper

The Pied Piper uses his magic flute to control Keith and Malicia and force them into his oven. Fortunately, Mr. Clicky distracts him long enough to break his control.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / PeoplePuppets

Media sources: