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Psychic Static

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Dr. Destiny: What's that stupid song going through your mind?!
Batman: It's what's keeping you out, Johnny.

In order to defeat Telepathy, frequently all a character has to do is fill their mind with something useless. This can take several forms. Often mentally reciting nursery rhymes or acquiring an Ear Worm will do the trick. Sometimes characters use especially compelling fantasies; conversely, sometimes they deliberately force their thoughts to be as mundane as possible. An especially badass and unscrupulous user can fill his mind with Mind Rape thoughts (or just bad memories of very horrible events from their life) in order to repel anyone trying to read it. In any case, the goal is to drive out whatever thoughts they don't want the telepath to know about.

This trope often provides a way for Muggles and Badass Normals to get the upper hand on characters with Psychic Powers. However, it's usually implied that keeping up an effective screen of Psychic Static requires a heroic level of mental discipline: otherwise, the telepathy wouldn't ever be useful in the first place.

Alternatively, psychic static may simply be a result of someone trying to read someone's mind but can't because the mind is foreign or alien, at least in the way it works when compared to the mind reader. This is usually not intentional on the part of the person whose mind is being read, and their mind itself is not unreadable, merely incomprehensible to the mind reader. In these instances, the thoughts will be in forms that the reader cannot interpret, such as a man who can only speak English reading the mind of someone who only speaks French.

One of the ways a character can give someone a Poke in the Third Eye. For a defense that's always on, see Psychic Block Defense. For madness working this way, see Insanity Immunity.

Occasionally, a psychic or a normal may need to evade a telepath using Psychic Radar to scan for the presence of sentient thought. Depending on the situation, the mundane thoughts trick may let them blend in amongst the minds the Radarpath expects to find. Sometimes they may have to employ more extreme methods such as blanking their mind or thinking thoughts that make them seem like an animal mind.

Often overlaps with the Jedi Mind Trick, but is generally more passive.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attempted multiple times during Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. Given the general mental stability of the protagonists, the first time this occurrs is by accident. It involves nosehair rings and pickles. Subverted when the mind-reading villain then uses a pickle against the protagonists. After all, it isn't a conscious effort at psychic static. Don Patch just really likes pickles.
  • Similar to the Carpe Juguluum example below, being drunk allows humans to see through the illusory human forms of Wolf's Rain's wolves.
  • Code Geass:
    • Attempted (and failed) in one episode; the psychic in question even compliments the protagonist for having had the idea to do this in the first place, but then focuses harder and is able to pick out his real thoughts.
    • In the previous episode, the hero pulls a variation by sending a large number of policemen after the psychic; since he can't shut off his power, this is much more successful.
  • At one point in Fairy Tail, Natsu is confronted with an opponent whose hearing is so good he can literally hear thoughts. Cue Natsu not thinking at all.
  • Happens by pure accident in Flame of Recca when Domon's opponent (who is wearing a rather Stripperific outfit because of the heat, not because she is an exhibitionist) suffers a wardrobe malfunction and all Domon can think is "BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS." This freaks her out big time.
  • Inuyasha: The title character displays this in his full yokai form while fighting Naraku's detachment Goshinki. In this state, Inuyasha's only coherent thoughts are anger and the joy of killing, which rendered Goshinki unable to read his mind and predict his next move.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • In Part 3, when Joseph Joestar tries to use Hermit Purple's psychographic powers on a TV to get a lock on DIO's location, he gets a garbled message warning him that Kakyoin would betray them, followed by DIO blowing up the TV after calling Joseph out on spying on him. It soon turned out the warning was partially true, as Jotaro was accosted by someone posing as Kakyoin.
    • Later into Part 3, they encounter someone with the straight-up ability to read minds. The heroes defeat him by tricking him into reading Jotaro's mind without him realizing he was actually dueling against Joseph. In other words, he lost because he had mistakenly read the wrong mind and thus was unable to predict anything properly. (They were playing video games, and Joseph secretly switched his controller with Jotaro's.) Rather amusingly, our heroes do this to the mind-reader repeatedly, causing him to get frustrated at why his mind-reading isn't working and to lose his concentration in the process.
  • In episode 7 of Kotoura-san, Manabe plans to hold a Surprise Party to his girlfriend and local telepath Haruka. He hides that thought from her by using multiplication tables, and, at one point, Mouthful of Pi.
  • One episode of Lupin III features a telepathic villain who can use his ability to avoid attacks. His killer kept the guy out of his head by whistling.
  • Attempted with moderate success in One Piece. Luffy shuts down his brain and acts purely on instinct in an attempt to sidestep Eneru's telepathy. While this does allow him to dodge anything thrown at him, he's unable to mount any sort of attack.
  • In one chapter of Psychic Squad, Minato uses the "Riemann hypothesis" for this, concentrating on the complicated mathematical formula as a psychic defense against a mind reading middle schooler.
  • At one point in Ray the Animation, the title character asks a telepath she's just saved to see if he can read her mentor's mind. He can't — wherever he tries, the mentor switches his thoughts to a game of shiritori.
  • In the Saint Seiya anime, Marin has been beaten badly by Moses and Asterion because Asterion in a psychic and can read her mind to predict her moves. After beating Moses, however, she manages to briefly leave her mind all blank, which completely confuses Asterion; before he recovers from the shock, she kills him.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Yusuke is able to beat Murota's "Tapping" ability by repeating the way he planned on punching him over and over in his head, and then knocking him out just through the reverberations from his fist in the air.
    • Subverted later on; Kurama defeats Gourmet-using-Murota's-Tapping ability by attacking in a blind yet Tranquil Fury; in other words, he defeats Gourmet because he has no thoughts to read. But Elder Toguro is using Gourmet using Murota, and Kurama doesn't do anything special to hide his thoughts, yet manages to trap him in the Janenju tree. Itsuki speculates that, since Kurama is Really 700 Years Old, his mind is too ancient and layered for something like Tapping to even scratch the surface of it.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Subverted with one printing of the card Telepathy (which, true to form, causes your opponents to play with the cards in their hands revealed), where instead of facing psychic static, an apprentice notes that the most disappointing thing about learning telepathy is discovering how boring people really are (probably because most people are thinking about what they want for dinner and the like).

    Comic Books 
  • In an issue of The Avengers, Ultron is thwarted when he attempts to read a disguised Hank Pym's mind when The Wasp hypnotized him so that his subconscious would be filled with the phrase "thou shalt not kill." The concept was so foreign and confusing to the killer robot that it managed to stun him into a sort of Villainous BSoD.
  • Batman:
    • The psychics who have survived reading The Joker's mind have reported various unsettling things, such as nonstop insane laughter, screaming, a labyrinth of funhouse mirrors, incredibly detailed descriptions of past murders, a vast battle between bat and clown-faced demons, "a billion fiery locusts blotting out a dead black sun", and Three Stooges reruns.
    • It was revealed after the "Tower of Babel" arc that Batman developed his counter-measures against the League, and J'onn in particular, by actually burying his memory and restoring it with a series of mnemonic triggers when he wants to work on his plans, and instructs the computer to track J'onn and "activate the burial key" should the Martian come within 100 miles.
  • Deadpool's mind has been stated as being too chaotic to read. His rival/friend/heterosexual life partner Cable once burned off overcharged psychic powers by going into Deadpool's mind, because the effort would wear him out.
  • Grant Morrison introduced the villain Prometheus during his run on JLA (1997). Among his talents was the ability to introduce "neural chaff" into the minds of his opponents, making it difficult for them to concentrate. This didn't work on Captain America during a brief encounter in Book 4 of JLA/Avengers. As Cap observed, "Try fighting the Wehrmacht. Teaches you focus."
  • When Nextwave faced off against the ridiculous-looking but intensely powerful Forbush Man, he lifted his pot-helmet and sent all of them on a mental journey into their worst nightmares. All of them, that is, except Tabitha, who was just too air-headed for the power to work on.
  • Plastic Man. Plas's physical brain changes shape so drastically and constantly that any psychic trying to read him finds the task absolutely impossible. It'd be like trying to read a piece of paper after having shredded it, mixed it with loads of other shredded papers and throwing it all inside a wind tunnel. In fact, in one storyline in which the Martian Manhunter became Brainwashed and Crazy, it was Plas who was able to take him down since not only does he have his psychic defenses, he's also a shapeshifter rivaling and possibly surpassing J'onn.
  • PS238: The Revenant is known well enough for using The Alan Parsons Project song "Sirius" that villains treat it almost as a signature. Also, in a weird Flash Back, Kent Allard (the Revenant's main civilian guise) demonstrates. With the very same song.
  • In Stormwatch: Team Achilles, the Mind Probe of Senator Sonny Terns eventually succeeds, but due to the senator's Mind Rape thoughts, the telepath is the one traumatized by the experience.
  • In the Superman storyline Panic in the Sky!, Superman has the gathered heroes plan out in Kryptonian to prevent Brainiac from finding out what they're going to do.
  • In Thunderbolts:
    • Doc Samson is shown to keep all his gamma fueled rage locked up in his mind to unleash on psychics looking to get into his head.
    • The original Gamma hero The Incredible Hulk can do this too.
  • X-Men:
    • The X-Men villain Exodus has a unique variant of this: being Unskilled, but Strong, he constantly generates wide-band telepathic "interference" strong enough to hinder the likes of Jean Grey and Emma Frost.
    • '90s X-Men recruit Gambit has been known to employ the intentional version, at one point revealing to several Xavier Academy students that he pictures the Blob naked in order to make sure that telepaths like Rachel Summers and Emma Frost aren't eavesdropping on his thoughts. Under some writers, his passive empathy secondary mutation has acted as literal psychic static that rendered him invisible to psychics.
    • This trope is inverted by Jean Grey in New X-Men #141, where she asks the Beast to think of "a pink door opening" in his mind in order for her to more easily access his medical knowledge.
    • Earlier, in New X-Men #130, a soldier warns Xavier that all he'll see if he tries to read his mind is "re-runs of the adult channel." Xavier learns the hard way that he's not joking. Apparently, learning to put up Psychic Static is part of that military's training.
    • Another military that trains its soldiers to resist telepaths in this way in the X-universe is the Church Militant group called the Purifiers, as seen in the cases of Zora Risman/Deadeye and Adrian Luca of X-Men: Destiny.
    • '80s X-Men recruit Rogue was originally stated to have automatic Psychic Static created by Carol Danvers's absorbed psyche, making her mind impossible for even Professor X to read. This apparently fell by the wayside even before Carol's psyche was removed from Rogue's mind.
    • Storm has a literal static mind because of her weather powers. When Professor X tried to read her mind, he compared the experience to grabbing hold of a lightning rod.
    • Wolverine too, due to the monkeying that Weapon X did (for precisely this reason) to his brain patterns, coupled (possibly) with the way in which his healing powers work to ameliorate his painful memories. Same goes for his son Daken, only in his case it's more lethal.
    • Ultimate X-Men: When Rogue tries to use telepathy on Sabretooth, he inundates her with nightmarish memories of all the horrible things he's done.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert
    • Wally is unconcerned when the company is taken over by mind-reading giants, because, "If they read [his] mind, they'll go blind."
    • In another unrelated incident, Catbert reads a report on Wally done by a mind-controlling bot or something. Catbert indeed goes blind.

    Fan Works 
  • In Eleutherophobia: Back to the Future, Tom admits that he got his habit of swearing because it annoyed his first Yeerk; his second Yeerk, meanwhile, violently despised Britney Spears songs. When his parents were Controllers, his mom mentally played Barry Manilow on a loop, while his dad recited the Periodic Table.
  • Eugenesis states that Soundwave, for whatever reason, cannot read Galvatron's mind (probably because Galvatron is insane). He can tell it's there, but he can't read it. This is how he figures out Galvatron's gone missing, as well.
  • The protagonist of the The Dresden Files fanfic Fair Vote received Training from Hell for nine months in psychic resistance measures.
  • Happy Flame Time's Touhou Project doujin Fly Up from the Underground, has series protagonist Reimu use two different tactics against Satori. The first involves thinking of a story that doesn't go anywhere, while the second is a parody of the Yu Yu Hakusho example, with the defeat coming when Satori is distracted by the "and take off all her clothes" bit Reimu adds to her attack plans. A popular joke in Touhou fandom is that Satori's powers are useless against Cirno (and by logical extension, most fairies).
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, "Perfect Occlumency" involves creating an alternate personality that one presents to the would-be mind reader.
  • In Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past, Luna has a natural form of this, which can give anyone trying to use Legillimency on her a big headache. To warn Snape (who has taken to routinely attacking Harry's friends' minds because of his hatred of Harry) off them, Ginny and Luna trick him into using Legillimency on the latter. He most certainly does not enjoy the lesson.
  • The Self-Insert speedster in Legal Crimes blocks Miss Martian's attempt to read his mind by mentally writing several novels starring her and one of her teammtes, leaving her too distracted to check his other thoughts.
  • Meeting of Minds: After failing to take control of Rumble's body, Ifrit 259 gets stuck within the Decepticon as he heads back to base. Rumble takes advantage of the fact that he and Ifrit can hear each other's thoughts at that close of range to pester him by thinking various songs that are notorious for being Ear Worms.
  • The Doctor Who fanfiction Night Terrors (not to be confused with the episode) has the Doctor teach Rory how to "shoot" bad thoughts at beings who try to possess him as a defense mechanism.
  • Nobody Dies has Iruel trapping everyone in a virtual reality sim under his control. When he looks into Rei's hallucination, however, he witnesses Rei getting it on with Unit 05 while surrounded by their Spider Tank children.
  • The Chaotic fan-fic Of Men and Mugic has an odd version where the villain uses it against a hero. Found here. (Warning, squick.)
  • In Of Songs and Occlumency Harry gets Voldemort to agree to stay out of his head by concentrating on everything from folk songs to Led Zeppelin.
  • In One Hell of an Afternoon, Taylor's powers create the equivalent of telepathic white noise, which causes M'gann to zone out a bit when she innocently makes mental contact and leads to her later using Taylor to help sleep despite being away from mental contact with other Martians.
  • Lelouch in Pokemon: Lelouch of the Rebellion counters Mao's telepathy twice, the first on accident and the second on purpose, because he's so enraged that all Lelouch can think about is how much he wants to kill Mao.
  • Discworld fic The Price of Flight has Rodinian witch Irena Politek keeping Elves out of her head by running a repeating inner loop of Russian swearwords. A.A. Pessimal represents this in the text as:
    "your mother... your mother... your mother..."
  • Taylor in A Ruinous Gift finds a way around Tattletale's super intuition by channeling Emma and Sherrel in turn, the former being easier since she mentally dominated Emma completely. Either one completely changes her body language and speaking patterns, causing Lisa's power to insist that Taylor is either a high school diva or a "slutty trailer trash in her 20s".
  • The Self-Insert in The Spider eventually learns that telepaths can't hear his thoughts regarding his knowledge of the future. His regular thoughts are still fair game but when he has Jean Grey read his mind while thinking of the fact S.H.I.E.L.D. is HYDRA, all she gets is static.
  • In A Study in Magic, Sherlock Holmes does this accidentally to anyone who tries to read his mind. He thinks too fast for anyone else to follow. He later reveals that they're "slowing [[his]] thought process to an agonizing crawl." Yes, for Sherlock, thinking too fast for anyone to follow is slow.
  • Apparently somewhat common in A Third Path to the Future. Storm's powers offer a passive defense that make accessing her mind difficult. Jean's mind is surrounded by tentacled trees. And Harry's mind is completely impossible to sense unless he allows it.
  • In Walking on Sunshine, Xander has a mental barriers based on the feeling of the split second before an orgasm. Emma Frost tries to read his mind and orgasms so hard she passes out.
  • With Strings Attached has a variation on this trope: Ringo experiences great pain whenever he tries to scry the Ghost City of Ehndris, thanks to the Poison Protections maintained over the city. Later, when the four go there, the Poison Protections keep him in constant, massive pain and effectively neutralize him until he accidentally teleports out of the city.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Flight of Dragons: Sir Orrin Neville-Smythe and Peter Dickinson sing to push back the suicide-causing noise of the Sandmirks.
    Peter: I come from Alabama with a banjo on my — AAAH!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Flash Gordon (1980), Dr. Zarkov beats Ming's brainwashing machine by throwing every irrelevant memory he can at it — Einstein's formulae, passages from the Talmud, and Beatles songs — and then faking the desired effect for his captors.
  • Attempted and failed in the first Ghostbusters film. The Ghostbusters have to "choose the form" of their destroyer by imagining it. They try to clear their minds, but all Ray can manage is to think about things that should be totally harmless. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is not so harmless when made as big as a skyscraper, though at least it is reasonably defeatable.
  • Village of the Damned:
    • In the original version, the protagonist is able to temporarily neutralize the creepy kids' telepathy by imagining a brick wall. Literally. They're able to break through this with a concentrated mental assault, but it's too late.
    • In the 1995 remake, he thinks about the ocean very intensely to stop the psychic alien kids finding out about the explosives that he's rigged to destroy them.

  • Subverted in the Fighting Fantasy book Rebel Planet; doing this just gives the evil alien easier access to your mind. The correct defense is to clear your head.

  • In the Alex Benedict series, Alex is able to shield his mind from the telepathic Ashiyyur by obsessively focusing all his thoughts on the price of various antiques (he is a dealer in antiques, and very passionate about his work).
  • A variation in the Animorphs books: Humans who have been infested and taken over by Yeerks can't really do anything to stop the slugs from reading their thoughts and hijacking their brains, but they can still annoy the hell out of them by thinking loudly. One of the more visible instances was in Megamorphs 3, where the Yeerk Visser Four obtains Time Travel. His first priority is sabotaging the Battle of Agincourt, so that Henry V would never be written — his failed actor of a host had been reciting it endlessly to drive the Yeerk crazy. This is a higher priority to Visser Four than killing George Washington and ensuring a Nazi victory at D-Day.
  • The Black Magician Trilogy: Sonea tries this against Akkarian when he mind rapes her, throwing random images at him. He just gets impatient and forces her to stop.
  • In Chrome Circle by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, Tannim the mage fends off Elven mindreaders this way (to their distinct distress) using They Might Be Giants songs, including "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head", "Birdhouse in Your Soul", and "We Want a Rock". One of the telepaths is reduced to incoherent gibbering before they drag it away.
  • In The Cloak Society, the Rangers, and Alex, have learned some ways to keep Shade out of their heads.
  • The Damned Trilogy combines this with Humans Are Cthulhu: the Amplitur, the villainous aliens of the setting, can mind-control any sentient species except humans. We put them into comas.
  • In one of the The Dark is Rising books, Will prevents a villain from reading his mind by thinking hard about his breakfast.
  • The Villain Protagonist of The Demolished Man uses this technique to avoid being found out for the murder he committed. This may be the Ur-Example (it's from 1953). However, this works only on 3rd and 2nd Class Espers. For the protection from the strongest, 1st Class Espers (one of which is a Police Prefect), the protagonist has to bribe and employ a 1st Class Esper of his own.
    "Tenser," said the tensor. "Tenser," said the tensor. "Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun."
  • Discworld:
    • This is supposed to work on vampires' mind-reading and control. Carpe Jugulum mentions that vampire hunters often work completely drunk, and that the vampires can't influence Agnes's mind due to interference with the thoughts of her alter ego, Perdita.
    • A Witch can "Borrow" the mind of an animal because their minds run on relatively simple lines which make them straightforward to read. However, the sheer volume of mental fog surrounding the typical human mind makes this impossible to do with people. Nanny Ogg has noted that the only time it becomes even remotely possible with people is when the mind becomes absolutely focused on one goal — a hunter on the point of making a kill, for instance.
    • Rincewind manages to keep the Elf Queen from learning about his scheme to defeat the elves in The Science of Discworld II until it's too late to stop it by obsessing over potatoes whenever she's in the area.
  • In Donovan's Brain by Curt Siodmak (and the movies based on it), Schratt puts off the mental influence of the title Brain in a Jar by repeating an inane rhyme in his head: "Amidst the mists and coldest frosts, he thrusts his fists against the posts, and still insists he sees the ghosts."
  • In The Dragon and the George, James Eckert goes over his master's thesis in his head to push back the suicide-causing noise of the Sandmirks, while Sir Brian recites prayers.
  • The Dresden Files
    • In Dead Beat, Harry is under psychic assault by a necromancer named Corpestaker, who is trying to pry the location of a Tome of Eldritch Lore out of Harry's head. Our hero pictures a granite wall separating his mind from hers, which he infuses with his power like he was trained to do. This blocks Corpsetaker out... until she actually starts trying. Then Harry's fighting a losing battle to keep his wall intact as the necromancer places it under an enormous, steady psychic pressure.
      "Delicious," Corpsetaker said, and her voice didn't sound strained at all. "After a century, they're still teaching the young ones the same tripe."
    • After tapping in to Hellfire to patch up his wall, Harry manages to escape for a minute or two — until a Ghoul throws a shuriken into his leg, breaking his concentration. After Corpsetaker successfully gets into his mind, Harry stumbles in such a way that the shuriken twists in the wound, driving her (him?) out through pain feedback.
    • In Ghost Story, it turns out that the White Council has stepped up their defensive training, resulting in much more elaborate constructs and culminating in a full-on Battle in the Center of the Mind.
  • Subverted in the Emily the Strange novel "The Lost Days": Emily tries this to prevent a child psychic from uncovering crucial information and passing it on to his employer, who is her enemy. She uses a thought amplification device on her cats (to make their thoughts louder) and brings them with her to meet the psychic, hoping that the cats will drown out her own thoughts. It seems to work, but the psychic later sends Emily a letter revealing that he knew what she was up to the whole time. He can't read the thoughts of animals, so he was aware of every thought she had during their meeting. He just didn't pass it on to his boss because he considered Emily a friend.
  • In The Empress Game, it's possible (with training) for imperials to block out Wyrd mind-reading, but apparently not to the extent that Imperials sometimes seem to think. Corinth comments that Malkor's blocks are "pretty effective, for an imperial", but that being nervous largely negates the effort.
  • In Fingerprints, a psychic with the ability to inflict Laser-Guided Amnesia and implant Fake Memories tries to hide a crime from a mindreader by implanting lots of "witnesses" with contradictory fake memories about the event.
  • In the Firebird Trilogy, this is the only way for a non-telepath to defeat a telepathic Mind Probe, usually in the form of concentrating on something uninteresting and irrelevant, such as boot heels.
  • Randall Garrett's novella The Foreign Hand Tie has a telepathic American spy in Russia transmitting what he finds to his twin brother back home. When he realizes that the scientist who created it is also telepathic and reading his thoughts, he fills her mind with images from a vulgar hand-painted tie he's seen previously, plus a wacked-out music hall ballad. It buys him enough time to send her weapon design blueprint to his brother. It has the added benefit of making the scientist appear to be insane when she tries to explain this to her colleagues.note 
  • Forgotten Realms:
    • "Squick you" combined with threat (not very plausible, but still coming from senior princess in course of dechickification) in Beyond the High Road by Troy Denning:
      Tanalasta quickly chased from her thoughts all memory of the vision itself, instead picturing Merula the Marvelous trussed naked on a spit and roasting over a slow fire. If the wizard was spying on her thoughts, she wanted him to know what awaited if he dared report any particular one to the royal magician.
    • In R. A. Salvatore's novels, Jarlaxle uses a similar tactic on the psionic Matron K'yorl of House Oblodra. In this case, naughty thoughts irritate the Matron intensely, and mind-reading is frowned on in Menzoberranzan.
  • Garrett, P.I.: In Angry Lead Skies, Garrett verifies that the silver elves (all right, the aliens) are reading his mind by imagining an X-rated encounter between himself and one of them, then seeing her flinch in response.
  • The protagonist of The Gernsback Continuum by William Gibson is a photographer hired to photograph Raygun Gothic architecture. Eventually, images from this Zeerust future start infringing in his own reality, so he immerses himself in pornography, trashy television, and tabloid news to drive them out.
  • Mind-blocking is common among the Kindar in the Green-Sky Trilogy. It's used to prevent others from reading your thoughts and finding out you are having forbidden "troubled" or "unjoyful" feelings. A sign of the society's deterioration is the high amount of mind-blocking that goes on even between friends and family members. It's never said openly, but this is one of the reasons for the loss of once common psychic abilities.
  • Two variants in Harry Potter:
    • Dementors find their prey by sensing positive, happy thoughts, which they then devour, leaving you with nothing but despair in the end. Filling your mind with "bad" thoughts such as knowing you are wrongfully accused and desire to wreak vengeance can protect you from their Emotion Eater effects, and indeed prevents you from going into the Despair Event Horizon.
    • Occlumency is a cross between this and Psychic Block Defense. It is an active ability that requires concentration and skill in its execution, yet it is capable of feeding the mind reader with false information as described in the Psychic Block Defense page.
  • According to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,note  the Belcerabons of Kakrafoon Kappa were inflicted with telepathy as a Screw You, Elves! because everyone couldn't stand their enlightened isolation and the implied smug sense of superiority. Now in order to prevent themselves broadcasting every slightest thought to anyone within a five-mile radius, "they have to talk loudly and continuously about the weather, their little aches and pains, the match this afternoon, and what a noisy place Kakrafoon has suddenly become." Or they can just host a Disaster Area rock concert and go deaf.
  • Hive Mind (2016) has a version that only sort of works: when telepaths patrolling for budding criminals are near, people traditionally chant times tables loudly. The telepath patrols are almost never real, so this doesn't do much one way or another for actually hiding thoughts, but it's incredibly distracting. The main character, a real telepath, hates it.
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, you can block someone from entering your mind by concentrating solely on one thought. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell if someone has done so unless you are telepathic yourself. In Eldest, it is revealed that a number of important figures have trained themselves to do this all the time without any hindrance. Eragon attempts to keep someone from entering his mind by concentrating on his big toe. Other characters often use similar techniques, with varying levels of success.
  • The same rhyme as in Donovan's Brain is used for a similar purpose in Stephen King's It. This is an intentional Shout-Out. King had singled the scene out for praise in his nonfiction book Danse Macabre.
  • There's a variant in "It's a Good Life", which features people constantly mumbling songs — not in order to keep the omnipotent child from looking into their thoughts, but so they won't think of anything unbecoming.
  • In Jago, the villain has powerful mind control abilities that affect everyone within a few miles' radius of him. One of the protagonists has a certain amount of resistance because he has a toothache and the pain interferes with the mind control. He eventually figures this out, and for the climactic confrontation seeks a way to aggravate his tooth to the point that he's in continual agony and completely immune to control.
  • The Lensman side-story Masters of the Vortex has mathematical savant Neal Cloud in a situation where he needs to block out a powerful telepath. He doesn't have a mechanical thought-screen with him, but he's familiar with the waveform it transmits and visualizing that in his head proves just as effective as the real thing.
  • In The Luck of Brin's Five, Narneen sings in her head to block psychic questioning.
  • A Magic: The Gathering book has a character envision a large mental fortress that the invading psychic had to break into.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages, a sequel book that takes place several years after the original trilogy finished, Reynie, Kate and Sticky have all become adept at filling their minds with things like thoughts of S.Q. Pedalian's big feet in order to prevent Constance from reading their thoughts. Constance, in turn, has been working hard herself to avoid accidentally reading their thoughts. She also employs the technique against the Listener, a mysterious new psychic opponent.
  • The Norby Chronicles:
  • In The Redemption of Althalus, it is possible to prevent mind-reading by counting in your head and mixing up the numbers intentionally. The villain's designated mind-reader hates this. A lot. Taking this a step further, fractions are actively painful to the reader.
  • In the Relativity story "August Moon", several of the heroes need to fight a powerful telepath, and each comes up with their own type of psychic static to stop him from reading their minds: The Dark Flame concentrates on nursery rhymes, blocking out all other thoughts. The Black Torrent thinks normally, but thinks all of his thoughts in Arabic. (He had used Portuguese at first, but that turned out to be a language the villain knew.) And Overcast unintentionally slows the villain down with happy memories from before he became a villain.
  • StarCraft Expanded Universe:
    • In one novel, a crime lord picks a fight with an unregistered telepath. He recruits a large number of drug addicts near his compound to confuse her and hide his mind shield device until it's too late.
    • Arcturus Mengsk can make his mind difficult (but not impossible) for a telepath such as Sarah Kerrigan to read. In the Frontline manga, Corbin Phash is trained by his six-year-old telepathic son to keep his thoughts hidden, which can hide him from a (weak) telepath.
  • The 1953 book Star Rangers (later part of Star Soldiers) by Andre Norton has Smitt, an techneer whose thoughts are unreadable by sensitives if he's thinking about com machines or some other technical engineering problem.
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe:
    • In Diane Duane's novel Dark Mirror, Picard has to do this to protect himself from the Mirror Universe version of Troi. It works, just barely, and leads to a nicely snarky exchange:
      Mirror Troi: I'll leave you to your thoughts; such as they are. Third-rate poets.
      Picard: [mildly] There is nothing third-rate about Villon.
    • In another Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, the Enterprise is taken over by robots that can detect emotion. They attack anyone showing aggression or carrying a weapon. They are defeated in part by a crewperson who shoots them with a bow and arrow (which the robots considered harmless because they were only looking for energy weapons) while engaging in Buddhist meditation (so their mind was essentially blank at the time, and thus carried no emotion).
  • Subverted in the Thousand Sons novel Ahriman: Sorcerer. The recently enslaved Hemellion knows that the titular Chaos Space Marines can read minds and tries to conceal his vengeful, hate-filled thoughts from them... only to be informed that he's effectively broadcasting his intentions to the Thousand Sons by trying so hard not to think about how much he hates them.
  • In The Tommyknockers, Jim Gardener thinks of "old addresses, bits of poems, snatches of songs", or just repeats the word "shield" to hide his thoughts from the mind-reading Havenites.
  • In the Tunnels series, Will's mother is able to resist the Dark Light by reciting the litany, "I pray that I might not let those about me spoil my peace of mind." Unable to get anything out of her, the Styx turn the device up to the "Mind Rape" setting and destroy her consciousness instead.
  • The Twilight Saga:
    • Alice keeps Edward from reading her mind by translating a book in her head. This isn't as much to protect her secrets as to keep him calm — she told him what she was hiding later.
    • A variant is done by Jacob. When he wants to hurt Edward and keep him out of his head, he begins envisioning what are presumably very raunchy scenes with Bella to disgust him.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, a not-quite example comes when Miles is subjected to fast-penta, a drug that makes you tell the truth (analogous to having your mind read). Typically, he doesn't react normally to the drug, gets even more hyper than normal, and can't stop talking (that last one a normal fast-penta result). So he recites Shakespeare. For about four hours.
  • In C.S. Friedman's The Wilding, the supposedly badass and dangerous female psychic is handily defeated by the Anti-Hero imagining himself raping her repeatedly.
  • In the first Wings of Fire book, Clay reminds himself over and over to think about cows to block out any secrets that Morrowseer might pick up on.
  • The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook suggests you can protect yourself from aliens psychically trying to enter your mind by concentrating on white, empty space.
  • In A Wrinkle in Time, Meg tries to hold off IT's mind control by mentally reciting nursery rhymes and the periodic table. It works initially, but IT overwhelms such efforts later on and must ultimately be defeated by The Power of Love.
  • In the Zachary Nixon Johnson series, Zach states that the best way to prevent a psi from reading your thoughts is to hum an Ear Worm.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Avengers (1960s): In the episode "Too Many Christmas Trees", Steed and Mrs. Peel come under psychic attack. Their defenses include "Green Grow the Rushes, O" and an obsession with socks.
  • Babylon 5 does this repeatedly:
    • In the episode "A Race Through Dark Places", a captured telepath tries to block Bester from reading him by reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb". (Since everything ESP-related in Babylon 5 comes from The Demolished Man, this is unsurprising.)
    • Later, an assassin tries to kill Garibaldi. When he's captured, Garibaldi gets Lyta to mind probe him. He resists by singing and doing math equations in his head, but since he's essentially taking on the telepathic equivalent of a WMD, he lasts... ooh.. less than 20 seconds. And that's only because Lyta takes some time to screw with him.
    • In addition, human telepaths are trained to do this to themselves since their powers don't have a convenient off-switch to ensure they don't accidentally read the minds of everyone in the room. Which of course they would never do deliberately. Also, even if they did want to read the thoughts of everyone in the room, it can be similar to standing in a crowded room full of shouting people, which is at best very distracting and at worst cripplingly painful.
  • In the Batman (1966) two-part episode "An Egg Grows in Gotham/The Yegg Foes in Gotham", Egghead uses a machine to try to transfer Bruce Wayne's memories to himself so he can learn if Wayne is Batman. However, he only gets trivia from Wayne's mind. Later, Wayne explains to Dick Grayson that years of mental conditioning allowed him to block off access to the part of his brain pertaining to his dual identity. This left only the trivial contents of the rest of his mind (his "Bruce Wayne" identity).
  • In the Battlestar Galactica (1978) episode "War of the Gods, Part 2", Commander Adama needs to prevent Count Iblis from reading his mind and finding out where Apollo has gone. He plans to shield his mind by crowding it with other thoughts, a technique he learned at the Colonial Military Institute.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Earshot", Buffy becomes telepathic; Xander tries to do this but fails utterly:
    Xander: What am I gonna do? I think about sex all the time! Sex! Help! 4 times 5 is thirty. 5 times 6 is 32. Naked girls. Naked women! Naked Buffy! Oh stop me!
  • Blake's 7: In "Ultraworld", the Ultras try to mind-control Vila so he'll hand over the Liberator to them. He resists by reciting limericks, while Orac sends back his illogical thought patterns as a Logic Bomb.
  • Doctor Who:
  • In an episode of GoGo Sentai Boukenger, the Blue Ranger is being held captive by bad guys who want information from him and have the capability to read his thoughts and project them on a he cheerily provides them with a slideshow of attractive women (and a couple of guys). Unfortunately, his ex-partner breaks his control by bringing up his worst memories, and that allows them to retrieve the desired information.
  • In Haven, Audrey bluffs a mind reader holding her and others hostage by making Duke wear a wire and engaging in some light Word-Salad Humor. About halfway through, she realizes that Duke will repeat anything she says, and it leads to arguably one of the funniest scenes in the entire series.
    Duke: [repeating] It's funny, how your whole life just passes before your eyes in moments like this. I never learned to saddle a horse. I never have eaten cottage cheese. I never learned how to do the Electric Slide.
    Audrey: [giggling] I need a hug.
    Duke: I NEED A HUG!
  • Heroes:
    • Mr. Bennet thinks in Japanese to throw off Mindreaders, specifically Matt.
    • Angela is also able to stop mind readers, mostly through sheer strength of will, and told Matt to "Stay out of [her] head", mentally. However, if Matt tries hard enough, she will give in involuntarily and get a Psychic Nosebleed.
    • Matt also tried to read The Haitian's mind once. He got some literal Psychic Static and a Psychic Nosebleed for his troubles.
    • This has also been done with Peter and Matt. It seems to be a general rule in Heroes that trying to read another psychic results in some pretty painful feedback. However, this may just be because they both were trying to read each other's mind at the same time, kind of like putting a microphone next to a speaker.
  • Legion (2017): In "Chapter 26", Amahl Farouk tries to read David Haller's mind several times, but the latter can shield his thoughts, so the only thing that Farouk can telepathically hear is the song "Wot!" by Captain Sensible, which David plays inside his own head in order to confuse Farouk.
  • In The Listener a number of people have been able to inadvertently mess with Toby's telepathy because their brains don't work like those of most humans. A genius criminal was thinking so fast that Toby was getting a jumble of a dozen different thoughts. A man with eidetic Photographic Memory remembered everything in such a great detail that Toby was overwhelmed by information overload. A newspaper reporter has epilepsy and the medication she takes for it has the side effect of blocking telepathy. In general, Toby can only read surface thoughts so he needs to prompt and trick other people to think about the information he needs. People who know of his ability can thus trick him by thinking about other subjects or thinking about things that are not true.
  • Daphne in No Ordinary Family tries to read Joshua's mind but ends up literally hearing only static. This freaks her out and makes her suspicious of him.
  • The Outer Limits (1963): In the episode "The Mutant", a scientific expedition on another planet is under the control of the title creature (a former human) who can read thoughts. One of the expedition members tries to get a note to a recent arrival to warning him of the danger. When the mutant tries to read his mind, he tries to hide information by thinking about how he misses dreaming. Later on, another character thinks of a riddle for the same purpose.
  • The Sixth Sense episodenote  "Lady, Lady, Take My Life": The hero wards off the psychics' attempt to kill him by focusing on his memories, a struggle represented by multiple short flashbacks.
  • Played absolutely straight in an episode of Sliders, when a villain tried to download Quinn's brain into an android. All the android got was one of Rembrandt Brown's songs.
  • In the Stargate-verse, human-form Replicators can read a person's mind by literally sticking their hand in the person's head (technically they are sending nanites through the skin and into the brain, but details). In Stargate Atlantis, an Asuran Replicator is surprised when O'Neill, who's been on the receiving end of this a few times, is able to resist the intrusion and hide his thoughts.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • "The Cage" has Captain Pike being held captive by a race known as Talosians. Pike works out that aggressive, violent thoughts would keep the Talosians from interfering with his mind. His fellow captive (who's been held prisoner for years) says the problem is you can't keep it up indefinitely.
      • "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" has a villain making a robotic duplicate of Kirk, who focused on racist thoughts about Vulcans during the procedure — so that Spock would know that something is wrong when the duplicate would insult him over every trivial thing.
    • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Survivors" has a proactive variant of this trope: a character projects music-box music into Troi's mind to prevent her from figuring out that he's an alien.
    • It's also worth noting that Ferengi are completely unreadable to telepaths and empaths due to the four lobed structure of the Ferengi brain.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • The episode "Random Thoughts" has a psychic trying to forcibly take violent thoughts from Tuvok to be sold on the black market of a planet of pacifists. Tuvok managed to overpower him by concentrating on his very worst, horrific thoughts.
      • A variation occurred in an episode where Tuvok, Janeway, and Torres got themselves assimilated by the Borg deliberately as part of a plan (with precautions taken to keep them from being absorbed by the Collective). Tuvok, whose protection wore off much faster, had to recite details about his own life and experiences (particularly memories of his family) to keep his individuality intact. The Borg Queen eventually got to him, but by then their plan had succeeded and all three were rescued in short order.
    • In an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Maquis capture Gul Dukat and one of them, a Vulcan, is trying to interrogate him via mind meld. However, since all Cardassian officers are trained to resist psychic interrogation, she gets nothing, while he's just sitting there with a grin.
  • Supernatural: Sam and Castiel visit a psychic so they can contact Bobby in heaven. When they first visit, the psychic is not surprised by Sam and can read him clearly. However, when the psychic looks at Castiel he says to him "What are you?" Later when Castiel asks if he can hear everyone talking in their minds, the psychic said all he could read from Castiel was "colors"
  • True Blood:
    • In the season 1 episode "Sparks Fly Out", Tara doesn't want telepath Sookie to read her thoughts, and when Sookie tries all we hear is "LALALALALA..." The wide-eyed look of intense-focus on Tara's face as she does this make this hilarious.
    • In the first season finale, Sookie is with Rene, the killer. She keeps trying to read his mind, and he keeps reciting "Don't think, don't think, don't think..." He eventually slips up though having a flashback of him killing Sookie's grandmother.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: Subverted. One player decided to make a joke by "reading the godmodder's mind" and coming out with a picture of a tuba. TT2000 rolled with it and it ended up being an actual weakness.

    Tabletop Games 
  • It became common practice at Bradford by Night, a LARP version of Vampire: The Masquerade, to combat the higher levels of Auspex by musing "Wouldn't the Prince look lovely in a gold lamé suit?" or "White Rabbits, White Rabbits, White Rabbits."
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In 1st and 2nd Edition the psionic defense mode Mental Barrier "is a carefully built thought repetition wall which exposes only that small area."
    • The 2nd Edition Complete Psionics Handbook allows a non-psionicist to resist the "Contact" devotion with a barrage of thoughts and emotions. This only cause a meager penalty on the psionicist's roll, however, and the resisting character cannot do anything else.
    • Rogues (and a slew of Prestige Classes) can gain abilities like "Slippery Mind" in the 3rd and 4th editions, which make them resistant to mind-affecting abilities including mind-reading.
    • Fiendish Codex II has a Prestige Class called the Hellbreaker. At level 1, it gets this in aura form as a class feature.
    • In 3.5th Edition, Changelings can take the Personna Immersion feat, which can fool low-level telepathic powers or divination spells if they make their saving throws, feeding the mind-reader with whatever false information they want. It's generally used to generate fake thoughts fitting better with their current disguise.
  • In Exalted, users of the Infernal Monster Style can learn a charm that makes any divinations around them fail, causing them to return only "The monster is here."
  • In GURPS this skill is called Mind Block. In fact, the Gurps Supers Source Book adds three variants: "Coded Thoughts": thinking in code, "Camouflaged Mind Block": hiding behind fake surface thoughts (which also hides the fact that you're hiding your real thoughts), and "No-Mind": rendering yourself completely invisible to telepathy.
  • The little-known, short-lived Pandemonium! Adventures in Tabloid World has a sample character who can see the future. If the players try to read her mind, all they get is, "I knew you were going to do that. Now cut it out."
  • The Voltorb Flip feature of Pokémon Tabletop Adventures allows characters to block mind-reading attempts by imagining playing an elaborate game of Voltorb Flip, which prevents the mind-reader from accessing anything else.
  • Traveller, Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #14. The "Casual Encounter" for this issue is Lothario Lochinvar Finger. His mind cannot be read: anyone who attempts to do so gets a stream of trivia (disconnected vidphone numbers, porkbelly futures prices, who played the Lone Ranger on TV).
  • Vampire: The Requiem: The Ordo Dracul have a technique that combines this with Psychic Block Defense, training the vampire to maintain a second train of thought in a constant closed loop, which could be anything from "disturbingly elaborate visualizations of dismemberment" to a mantra like "Fuck you, you can't read my mind". Anyone trying to read the user's mind gets shunted into this secondary consciousness.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Tyranid Hive-Fleets project the Shadow in the Warp, created by the psychic disturbance caused by the Hive Mind, cutting off interstellar communications (which are the duty of telepaths). The Shadow doesn't usually kill psykers directly, but rather causes them to go insane, ramble about hundreds of chittering voices coming from inside their heads and then kill themselves.
    • Coincidentally, the dying screeches of Tyranid synapse creatures in Dawn of War II overlap with the sound of radio feedback, and the Mind Rape cutscene that introduces the Zoanthrope similarly features a lot of static or feedback noises.


    Video Games 
  • In Alien Legacy, the only way to end the war with the Empiants peacefully is to develop the mind shield. The main reason the Empiants are attacking humans is because our thoughts hurt them (well, that and gas mining their home world).
  • In Act II of Baldur's Gate III, if the player attempts to infiltrate the Moonrise Towers, a high-ranking cultist will attempt to read their mind to see if they are truly loyal to the Absolute. The player can bluff her by filling their thoughts with loyalty, or love/lust for a romanced character.
  • Inverted in Dawn of War if the Tau attack the Chaos stronghold in Dark Crusade. The Chaos Lord tries to taunt the Tau commander telepathically, but since the Tau have no warp presence at all, all he hears is static. He then complains that his comms system must be malfunctioning.
  • Inanimate version in Genshin Impact. Everything that happens in Teyvat is recorded on the World Tree, Irminsul. If that record is tampered, history would rewrite itself that the missing detail would be retconned into something else. Even the people's memory would be altered, and only beings not native to Teyvat is immune to this. Another method is to encrypt the true history into a fairytale full of metaphors and symbolism, that the retcon would not recognize at face value. The true history can then be recovered by correctly interpreting the message hidden between the lines. In this world, fairy tales and fictions may actually be more accurate than recorded history.
  • It's mentioned occasionally in Golden Sun that Adepts can detect their minds being read, and react against the reader. The best example of Psychic Static in particular is a cutscene where Ivan demonstrates his Mind Read powers on Garet, who is thinking, "Stop reading my mind, Ivan!" and nothing else.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, The Truth convinces CJ and co to "Think of a pink golf ball" and other such oddities when you reach different locations. He doesn't say WHY he says to do these things, but it's presumably to make sure CJ doesn't think that he's avoiding a mind-scan, which would tip off whoever is reading your mind that you're trying to avoid having your mind read.
  • As shown in a Halo: Combat Evolved: Anniversary terminal (itself adapted from the novelization Halo: The Flood), a Flood-infected Captain Keyes kept the parasite from discovering the locations of human worlds by surrendering his personal, but strategically useless memories instead. He also kept giving the Flood his name, rank, and serial number (all generated by the chip in his head), so that they didn't get destroyed like his other memories.
  • Pokémon:
    • This could be why Bug-type moves are super effective against Psychic-types; their brains are too small (or possibly too dispersed) to read.
    • In a similar vein, this is one theory why Dark-types are flat-out immune to Psychic damage — either their thoughts are just difficult to follow, or prolonged perusal is next to impossible without severe trauma. This is supported by the fact Dark-types are literally called 'Evil-types' in the original Japanese version. Their thoughts could just be too vile and malevolent for a psychic Pokemon to handle (see: the Dark-type move 'Nasty Plot'). Dark/'Evil'-types are named so for their knack at fighting dirty, so it could also be they use their cunning to create a form of psychic static (annoying songs, disturbing fantasies, thinking of nothing etc.).
  • There are several ways that various psychics do this in Psychonauts:
    • Milla Vodello has constructed a small, hidden room in her mind which contains a "cage" of energy; this contains and blocks out the nightmare monsters resulting from the children in her care who died in a fire from before she became a Psychonaut. It could also be argued that her entire mental world — a fun, brightly-colored, loud dance party — is a form of this; a Memory Vault in her mind reveals that she heard the dying children's screams as they went, and it's possible that they still haunt her to this day, so she's trying to drown out the memory with music. With that said, she's still held up as an example of what a sane person's mind should be in the setting by the developers; she has that room, but her mind is still structured and functioning properly, and she's done the healthy thing of honoring the memory but not being consumed by the trauma.
    • A "natural" form of Psychic Static emerges through the form of Mental Cobwebs — brightly-colored spiderwebs that automatically form over ignored/underused parts of a person's mind, and normally they only cover small, unimportant pieces. Coach Oleander is able to exploit a cobweb to hide the truth about his nonexistent military career. A Cobweb Duster, which can clean the webs, is necessary when entering the minds of the mentally ill in a nearby abandoned asylum — their brains are so discordant that large and important portions of their minds have been covered up.
    • It's implied that powerful psychics can disguise what they're thinking by "encoding" it into odd symbols and pictures. "The World Shall Taste My Eggs!", a bizarre Memory Vault found in the Dream Tumbler, is an example—it depicts a brain hatching from an egg, riding a fish across a lake, going to an amusement park, and turning one of the rides into a death tank, which is essentially want Oleander and his associate Dr. Loboto are doing; replace "eggs" with "children's heads" and "ride" with "actual death tank," and you have the plan.
    • Dr. Loboto has done something like this to his assistant Crispyn Whitehead — attempting to use a Psycho-Portal (which allows psychics to astrally project into people's minds) on him has a message from Loboto pop up saying that he's made it impossible to get in.
    • Finally, Ford Cruller lost their mind after a powerful psychic battle; their psyche was shattered into numerous personalities that surface based on where they are as a result (which is why he can only be himself near the Psitanium Deposit underground — it allows him to keep his mind together), so it's impossible to get into it there or anywhere else.
      • In the sequel, it's revealed that they intentionally destroyed their own mind, because they had discovered something so dangerous that mind-wiping wouldn't be enough; they needed to make sure that the organization of trained psychics that they specifically worked for didn't accidentally retrieve it from their subconscious: a ritual to resurrect the nemesis they had just destroyed.
  • In Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, Max gains the ability to read people's minds, but some characters are immune:
    • Girl Stinky scares Max out of her mind by thinking about shoe-shopping.
    • Agent Superball regrets to inform Max that the contents of his mind are classified.
    • Dr. Norrington just tells Max to not even try it.
  • In Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, the native life attacks you psychically. You can capture or breed and control the life, or (later) technologically mimic its effects and use them as weapons of war for your own ends. The movie for the Dream Twister Secret Project seems to indicate that one of the techniques (failed in this case) to block the attacks is this trope.
  • In Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters, it is revealed that the Dnyarri feel some measure of what the people they are controlling feel. This creates a disturbing but effective countermeasure to their mind control: constant, excruciating pain. No wonder the Ur-Quan are so screwed up.
  • Star Wars:
    • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords:
      • There's a long, multi-planet dialogue tree to figure out how Atton blocks telepaths by playing space-blackjack in his head. And why. It also reveals Jedi killers would "throw up walls" of strong emotions such as lust or rage to mask their true emotions. Ironically, in many cases with the proper training the less force sensitive an individual the greater their ability to mask their intentions from Jedi could be.
      • According to Kreia, she cannot read Bao-Dur's mind due to aliens thinking in their natural language and thus requiring translation. She's somewhat dubious when the Exile reveals that they can sense his thoughts, due to their close bond from serving together in the Mandalorian Wars.
    • In the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion of Star Wars: The Old Republic, Gault Rennow is able to beat mind-reading simply by thinking incredibly disgusting and repulsive thoughts. If the PC is a force-user, they can attempt to test this out, only to recoil in disgust.
  • In System Shock 2, when you create your character, you choose the branch of military he enlists in, then the missions he took part in before the game starts. One of such missions for OSA (telepathic special forces) agent includes capturing an assassin who tries to hide her own intentions under "quite explicit daydreams."
  • In The World Ends with You, there are a few random Non Player Characters who are latent psychics and can detect your use of telepathy. If you use it on them, their thoughts will simply reveal a scolding for trying to read their mind.

  • Subverted in Captain SNES: The Game Masta. When someone looks into Alex's mind to see what he fears most, they see a blinking pink smiley face, and immediately assumes that Alex is blocking him. But that smiley face really is his greatest fear; it's Evil Otto from Berzerk, an Eldritch Abomination that only takes the form of a smiley face.
  • Parodied in Commander Kitty. After tapping into the brainwaves of their target, Zenith and Fortiscue think he's doing this after being bombarded with a stream of gibberish. But it turns out they simply hit a target that doesn't even speak English.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures
    • There is a line alluding to this in one strip.
    • There's also the page picture; apparently, the best way to keep a Cubi out of your mind is to bore it away. Of course, Jyrras doesn't know that...
    • Later Abel pulls one off to escape Dan.
  • In The Last Days of FOXHOUND Mei Ling explains how the psychic insulating nanomachines work on this principal, describing it as a "mental poker face" by effectively enhancing the mind's ability to "tell lies" to the point that it becomes unreadable. Mantis is utterly horrified at the thought as he realizes this means someone with enough mental discipline and who was a good-enough liar could not just block his attempts at mind-reading, but actually feed his mind-reading false information. He soon learns Ocelot has been doing exactly that to him since day one.
  • In a Narbonic non-canon fan story, Helen manages to break a psychic foe by wandering into a perfectly white, featureless room and letting her madness run away with her. Gazing into the head of a Mad Scientist is not a good idea for the terminally sane.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Durkon attempts this when the vampire spirit occupying his body compels him to share his memories. However, as the vampire tells him, thinking of irrelevant memories do not help as everything happens inside his head and takes a very short time no matter how many memories Durkon shows. Yet he still manages to hold the vampire back by dredging up memories an undead monster in particular would find unpleasant (like The Food Poisoning Incident) or utterly incomprehensible — the latter is key to the vampire's defeat.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe
    • When rich kid Phase is getting powers testing, s/he tries this against powerful telepaths by concentrating on stock market analysis. It doesn't work all that well.
    • In a much later story, Phase quits on the stocks and goes with a Britney Spears song that has the psychic begging him/her to stop.
    • Eldritch, on the other hand, has turned her brain into a psychic minefield, and makes anyone who attempts to intrude experience gunshot wounds and other injuries she suffered in the past.
    • In a Whateley Universe fanfiction from 2013 or before, Caroline White, a healer, suffers from this after the MCO produce a device (or, more likely, a devise) which generates massive amounts of artificial pain. It eventually sends him into seizures.
  • Chakona Space gives us the 'Jangler'. A electronic box that produces enough artificial emotional output to jam a Chakat's empathic abilities. It does nothing to block other psionic abilities though.
  • In Worm precogs' ability to sense the future is interfered with by other precogs, hence why their predictions haven't destroyed the economy (with government employing thinkers and precogs to counteract them).
  • The entire "Psychic: *reads my mind*" meme basically centers around this, involving a psychic who makes the mistake of reading the mind of one of the lovable rascals from the internet and being so shocked, horrified, confused, or permanently scarred for life at what is currently going on in the guy's head that he can't manage to read anything else.
    Psychic: What the FUCK?!

    Web Videos 
  • I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC:
    • When Professor X tries to read Lance's mind in "After Hours", the only thing he gets is an endless loop of "My Humps" by The Black Eyed Peas. Which Lance also sings later when being interrogated by Nightwing.
    • It's become a Running Gag that anyone trying to keep someone with telepathy out of their mind will just keep repeating "My Humps". And it eventually spread to non-psychic means of deterring interrogation as well.
      Lex Luthor: What you gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside yo' trunk? Imma get get get get you drunk. Get you love drunk off my hump, my hump my hump, my humps, my lovely lady—
      Batman: What were you thinking when you thought that would be an acceptable answer?
  • In My Little Pony: The Mentally Advanced Series, when Twilight Sparkle realizes Zecora's curse gave Fluttershy the ability to read minds, she starts screaming Rubber Ducky inside her head.
  • Rooster Teeth posits a humorous example of unintentional psychic static.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius:
    • In "Sheen's Brain", Jimmy develops a "Brain Gain" helmet to increase Sheen's intelligence and help him in school. Unfortunately, the helmet works too well and eventually gives Sheen both Psychic Powers and a god complex, prompting him to try to take over the town. Jimmy decides to disguise his Brain Drain helmet as a crown and have Carl give it to Sheen; Carl is nervous that Sheen will read his mind and reveal the plan, so Jimmy tells him to think about llamas, his favorite animal. Carl approaches Sheen while doing this, imagining llamas running in a field...then imagining one llama breaking away...then imagining that llama running toward the town...then remembering that "town" rhymes with "crown"...then blurting out the whole plan in his head.
    • Inverted in "My Big Fat Spy Wedding". Super spy Jet Fusion is planning to marry Beautiful Gorgeous, and asks Jimmy to be his best man. This turns out to be a plot on Beautiful Gorgeous's part: she hypnotizes Jet to attack and kill the next person who says "I have the ring" at the wedding, the best man's role, then hypnotizes Jimmy to forget his discovery of her plan. Carl and Sheen find out about the plan as well and arrive just in time to stop Jimmy from saying the trigger words, Sheen inadvertently saying them instead. Noticing that Jet focuses on any one person that says the trigger phrase, Jimmy calls for everyone in the church to start repeating it. After he, the minister, and Cindy recite the phrase, Libby improvises a song called "I Have the Ring" on the organ, and the entire town joins in, overloading Jet's mind control with the phrase and setting him free.
  • In Adventure Time, Goliad attempts to read Finn's mind to reveal Princess Bubblegum's plan to stop her. Finn wills himself to not reveal it by screwing with the memory of Princess Bubblegum giving the plan, doing things like turning her head into a dolphin, then making her head explode and changing the multiple Bubblegum copies that appear from the remains into baby Finns doing the Buff Baby dance, before ultimately tearing up the turf of his own mindscape to bury the memory of Princess Bubblegum altogether.
  • Inversion in an episode of The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy gains the power to read minds, with the disadvantage that it is not selective. When Mr. Crocker tries to use a group of kids to overwhelm Timmy with thought, Timmy is able to find Cosmo and Wanda in a group of green and pink objects by hearing Cosmo's mind — elevator music.
  • When an eavesdropping device gets turned up too high in an episode of Family Guy, everyone can suddenly hear Quagmire's embarrassing thoughts. As soon as he realizes this, he combats it by humming a John Philip Sousa march.
    Quagmire's Mind: Damn, this itches. I wonder who gave it to me. Probably that skank who needed a ride to the gas station. Last time I do somebody a favor... Oh God, they must have heard me! Oh God, I can hear me! Baaah ba DA da da ba ba ba da da BUM baaah da da DUM baaah da da—
  • Freakazoid!: To avoid having his personality stolen and fed into his clone, Freakazoid keeps thinking of his favorite show, Hero Boy. This causes a bunch of evil Hero Boy clones to appear. But since these are clones of Hero Boy, a very ineffective superhero, they are easy to subdue.
  • Futurama: Played with in Into the Wild Green Yonder. When Fry goes up against Bender in a poker game he tries to read Bender's mind but only hear Bender scatting to himself. Twist being, there is nothing to read, Bender's entire strategy is go and let his luck win the game.
  • Mentok tries to read the mind of washed-up motorcycle daredevil Ernie Devlin in an Episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. When he does, all he gets is a sound much like a garbled radio transmission. Mentok asks if it's encryption; Devlin states that he had a metal plate implanted into his skull after one nasty accident.
  • Subverted in an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures.
    Boss: You Have Failed Me.
    Mook: It wasn't our fault, we were outnumbered!
    [Boss glares]
    Mook: [thinking] Oh no. Must concentrate. Must not allow him to read my mind or else...
    Boss: So. Tell me about this one man.
  • In the Justice League episode "Only a Dream", Batman keeps John "Dr. Destiny" Dee out of his head by humming "Frère Jacques" and drinking lots of coffee (to keep himself awake, since Destiny can more easily get into the mind of a sleeping person). Also of note is the fact that Batman is a complete jerk about this victory, repeatedly taunting Destiny about his inability to get in Batman's head after the rest of the League was incapacitated. This may have been the only time Batman actually taunts a villain (it's for good reason; he needs to rile up the bad guy to disrupt the psychic's ability to get in his mind). And doing this after having already been up 3 nights straight.
    Batman: Whaddya say Johnny? Wanna go one-on-one? It'd give you something to brag about.
  • The titular Martin Mystery takes it a step further by not only resisting an alien's mind reading but also its mind control by thinking about overly complicated algebra problems the entire time he is facing it.
  • Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: When the villains capture Howard and try to discover the Ninja's identity by using a mind-reading device on him, Howard is able to stop them from finding out what he knows by thinking of the Whoopee World commercial that had previously been stuck in his head.
  • Rick and Morty:
    • This is the reason why every Rick has a Morty. The superintelligence of a Rick can only be blocked by the brainwaves of a Morty.
    • A more direct example when Rick and Morty are helping a psychic cloud alien (who Rick named "Fart") when he's trying to read Rick's mind:
      Fart: I came here accidentally through a wormhole located in what you call [turns to Rick, who glares] "Get out of my head, Fart, I know you're in here, lalalala..." No, the Promethean Nebula.
  • The Simpsons
  • Like in the Larry Niven short story "The Soft Weapon" on which it's based, in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Slaver Weapon", the crew thinks about eating vegetables to make the Kzinti telepath useless, as the thought of eating plant matter utterly disgusts the carnivorous Kzin.
  • The Venture Brothers: Dr. Henry Killinger can resist not just mind reading but anything reading without even a show of effort on his part. Dr. Orpheus learns this the hard way, getting nothing but a Psychic Nosebleed out of his attempt to scan the man with his arcane powers.
    Dr. Killinger: Your powers are useless on me, you silly billy.
  • In Young Justice (2010), Bane resists Miss Martian's telepathy by reciting Spanish fútbol scores in his head. This is a semi-common skill in the show's universe — Professor Ivo scoffs "As if I've never faced a telepath before!" when she tries to read his mind in a later episode. Miss Martian can break through these kinds of things (one of her skills is, in fact, translating other languages directly to your brain), but it takes a lot of effort, isn't pleasant if you resist, and she can't really read a mind in-depth without cluing the person that she's in there.


Video Example(s):


The Master hypnotizes Jo

The Master attempts to hypnotize Jo again, but this time she knows how to deal with him.

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Main / NoSell

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