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The Evils of Free Will

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"Our minds are born festering with sin. Some are so blighted, they will never find redemption. The mind must be pulled up from the roots. My children are without blame, without fault — and without choice. For what is the value of will when the spirit is found wanting?"
The Value of Choice, BioShock Infinite voxophone

There is so much suffering in the world, so much hate, inequality, ignorance. And the cause of all this evil is nothing more than humans themselves and their pesky free will. Hobbes Was Right. We are selfish, narcissistic, violent, readily tread on others to better ourselves, and while our love is selective, our Greed knows no bounds. Not to mention the chaos of everyone having different dental hygiene habits. When people are capable of willingly doing so much wrong, isn't removing that free will, by any means available, justified?


The solution may include reeducation camps, a police state, censorship, concentration camps for those who resist the previous—the usual. If there's a Mad Scientist or mutant around, Mass Hypnosis and Mind Control are also handy options to turn everyone (that's left) into obedient Gullible Lemmings for the Big Bad to rule. In extreme cases it will include the destruction of individuality and the creation of a Hive Mind.

A frequent element of Utopia Justifies the Means and a quintessential Evil Plan to Take Over the World. Frequently justified by the Well-Intentioned Extremist, Visionary Villain, or Knight Templar as being a small sacrifice. If it means the end of conflict, a quadruplication of the standard of living, the eradication of inequality, poverty, discrimination, hate... isn't it worth it?


The typical heroic rejoinder is: "I don't want to be told what to do." The hero may even agree at several points at the villain, acknowledging that Humans Are Flawed, they are more likely to gravitate to misuse their own free will for bad deeds. But it was the flaw that makes them human, they have to take both good and bad. And if the villain decides to eliminate those evils, that doesn't instantly make them good... they'll just look like they lack endurance and faith towards humanity altogether, not wanting to believe the good potential of mankind no matter how small.

Of course, the villain will rarely mention why they deserve to be at the top of this new society as the lone person remaining with free will. If they do, expect them to justify it by saying they’re the best qualified to decide what's best for everyone else. Regardless, if they succeed, they will create an authoritarian Dystopia or become the Hive Queen (or King) of this new society. If, on the other hand, they are genuinely willing to become just another drone in the hive with someone (or something) else that they consider more "worthy" being in control, be VERY afraid...


If this process merges everyone into one being, see Assimilation Plot. If the villain actually succeeds in creating this world, it may become a Villain World and possibly a Crapsaccharine World and World of Silence. See also Happiness Is Mandatory (and its Brainwashed and Crazy variant Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul), Thoughtcrime, Dystopian Edict and Straw Nihilist. Inverted trope of Helping Would Be Killstealing. Hobbes Was Right could be used as another reason to justify this trope. Tends also to show that Order Is Not Good.

Contrast Rousseau Was Right where people are naturally good by their own free will. Compare Freedom from Choice, which is value-neutral.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ultimately the plan of the British Library in R.O.D the TV. An interesting wrinkle is that the people instigating the plan also planned on being rewritten along with everyone else.
  • Light Yagami's plan for the world in Death Note (before things spiraled further down). People can be bad if they really want to, but it's always paid back by death, unrelenting and immediate. Anything that goes against Light's high standards - even, eventually, being lazy - earns the dissident a heart attack and vilification for standing in the way of justice.
  • Gihren Zabi of the original Mobile Suit Gundam gives a little speech about this, implying Democracy Is Bad. He then goes onto talk about how the weak and poor must be culled.
  • This is the singular objective of Gilbert Durandal, one of the two Big Bads of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. His Destiny Plan involves using genetic determinism to decide the roles of each and every person living in the Earthsphere in order to prevent free will from causing people's differing ideas from causing any more wars. It's also a source of contention over the plot by many in the community, for various reasons.
    • It's interesting to note that Durandal never claims to be making a Utopia. Quite the opposite; He knows full well that he's basically ushering in a totalitarian state, and potentially a Dystopia, but he believes such measures are the only way to keep mankind from destroying itself.
  • Naruto revealed that this is the ultimate plan of series Big Bad Uchiha Madara. The one who executed this plan is not the real Madara but the real Madara had the same plan before he died.
    • The true big bad, Kaguya Otsutsuki, shares the same goal, but her variation of the goal involves her turning every shinobi on the planet into obedient White Zetsu soldiers.
  • The goal of the Claw in GUN×SWORD is to overwrite the mind of every human being with his own, so that everyone is the same and there can be no disagreement.
  • In Appleseed, mankind has grown tired of constant warfare and created biodroids to act as mediators, together with an AI to act as an overseer. The main conflict revolves around whether humanity is unfairly being suppressed in the not-quite-utopia, salvageable through the aid of the biodroids or are they the only stain left in an otherwise perfect society.
  • This is the purpose of the Superior Domination system in Toward the Terra. When humans had free will, they rendered Earth uninhabitable through reckless greed; the obvious solution is a computer-run police state IN SPACE!. The character arc of the Anti-Villain rests on his complex and fluctuating relationship with this trope.
  • This is basically what Schneizel el Britannia of Code Geass believes, and intends to have any revolting nation nuked by FLEIJA from the nigh-impenetrable floating fortress Damocles.
    • Also there was Charles zi Britannia's plan of destroying the "gods" to merge every person, living and dead, into one being. This would effectively remove any free will and make sure nothing ever advanced.
  • The Anti-Spirals from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann want to wipe out Spiral Energy from the world and destroy the free will, motivation, and emotions from humankind. However, they have a good reason for doing it: overuse of Spiral Energy will result in Spiral Nemesis, which will destroy the universe. It's just that they see terrorism, brainwashing, and scare tactics as the way to prevent it from happening. Their methods are underhanded and soul crushing because the opposition is powered by determination and bravery. Meeting them head on with violence is like fighting a fire with gasoline.
  • Super Android 13, the Funimation dub of the 7th Dragon Ball Z movie does this. When Trunks gives the villain, an android who wants to kill Goku simply because he was programmed to, a Reason You Suck Speech for having no free will and therefore pursuing a meaningless goal, said villain takes offense and counters that at least he's being evil because he has no other choice while humans and saiyans do evil things because they want to; he even argues that creatures with free will do worse things than he'd ever be capable of doing.
  • This is the driving force behind Faceas/Faysus Clay in the Strider manga: a sociopath with no regards for others and a preference for machines over human companions, he compares humanity's potential for doing evil to a computer glitch left behind by a careless God, and plans to "fix" this "factory error" by taking over humanity's free will through a mind-control weapon, creating an utopian world with equality and no conflicts under his guidance.
  • This is one of the main driving forces in Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS as the Knights of Hanoi believe that giving the Ignis free will, they will turn against the human race. The main antagonist thinks of free will as a mutation and can't comprehend why the other Ignis chose to side with humans, so he wants to unite all Ignis and enslave the human race to prevent this.

    Comic Books 
  • This is possibly Darkseid's intended use for the Anti-Life Equation. Kirby defined being alive as the ability to think and choose thus his ultimate bad guy wants the power of Anti-Life. In Final Crisis he succeeds and manages to enslave about three billion people on Earth by spreading the Equation through all forms of electronic communication. This comes close to Hive Mind; in his Badass Boast he speaks through his three billion new slaves. When he makes a fist to crush resistance, it is with three billion hands. When he stares into your soul to shatter your hopes, it is with six billion eyes. Just to drive the point home, those three billion, or half of Earth's population he enslaved? He killed the other half.
  • Marvel had the Emperor Doom storyline. It was about Doctor Doom creating a giant Mind Control device using the Purple Man and actually taking over the world with it, without anyone (except Wonder Man) noticing, and turning it into a real utopia. It was interesting, first because there was an argument between the heroes about the rightness of stopping it, and second because Doom answered the "why should I be the one in control" question by literally removing his protective mask in front of the Purple Man and challenging him to try to control him. And it worked.
  • In Gotham City Garage, Lex Luthor designed his mind-control devices "Lexlocks" -later "Ridealongs"- to free the masses from a pesky thing called "independent thought".
    Luthor: I have a problem that needs solving.
    Harley: Premature hair loss?
    Luthor: Free will. There tiny machines can be gradted to every human mind in my garden. They can control thought, behavior, preference, happiness. Wash away the sins of the Dark Age and give the world a clean slate. But they must do so without driving the cattle insane.
  • The Dark Judges in Judge Dredd present a particularly dark form of this trope - since all crime is committed by the living, life itself was outlawed in their universe, and now they seek to accomplish the same goal in Dredd's.
  • Legacy: After killing his master Darth Krayt, Darth Wyyrlok sets into motion his plan for uniting the galaxy under the One Sith. How? By making everyone in the galaxy a Sith.
  • Deadpool once went up against an wannabe alien messiah of the Lotus-Eater Machine mold.
  • A mild version appears in the Squadron Supreme limited series. As part of their efforts to eliminate crime and war, the Squadron invents a behavior-modification machine and uses it (on a voluntary basis) on convicted criminals.
  • The Brain Drain in Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance promises to unite all of mankind and make all our lives easier by invading our minds for its sinister purposes.
  • The Guardians of Oa came around to this line of thought in the aftermath of the Sinestro Corps War, the Blackest Night, and the Brightest Day. At first they believed chaos was caused by emotion, so they created an army of robotic Manhunters that lacked it. But without emotion the Manhunters had no qualms about following orders to murder a space sector's population. Then they believed chaos was caused by fear, so they created the Green Lantern Corps to fight it. But then they saw that fear wasn't the only source of chaos — love, rage, greed, compassion, hope, and even the Green Lanterns' willpower could also add chaos. So the Guardians decided that emotion and free will were the source of chaos and created a Third Army that would replace the Lanterns and eradicate free will from the universe. It didn't work.
  • The Transformers (IDW): Megatron holds these views. His endgame, after killing every Autobot, would be to rebuild Cybertron as the perfect utopia, with himself in charge, obviously. When asked by Optimus Prime about things like freedom, free will and personality responsibility, Megatron's response is simple: "They won't be missed." Which is Dramatic Irony, because these were all things Megatron started the entire war for. Motive Decay at its finest.
  • In Superman: Red Son, Superman believes this school of thought, having been raised by the Soviet government during the Cold War. Anyone who willingly disobeys Superman or Soviet Russia become a mind-controlled slave and work hard labor for the rest of their lives. The whole way through, however, Superman is genuinely convinced he is doing the ultimate good for the world and cannot understand why Lex Luthor would so adamantly refuse to submit. Unlike many of the examples on this list, Soviet Superman cares for everyone on Earth from the bottom of his heart (even Luthor) and cannot bear to see any physical harm come to them, which is why he goes to such extremes to prevent that.
  • This is the motivation of the Big Bad, Accord in issues 48 to 50 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW). After turning himself into a Spirit of Order, Accord begins brainwashing all of Equestria into a single massive Mind Hive, with himself as the Hive Queen. When confronted on this, he points out he's just being true to his nature: individual thoughts and personalities are inherently chaotic, and the ultimate root of disharmony. By making all creatures think with one single mind, removing individuality, he's bringing the ultimate from of order and harmony to Equestria.
  • Scooby Apocalypse: The Four, Velma's superiors at the Complex (who are also her brothers), came to the conclusion that free will was the root cause of humanity's problems. That's why they altered Project Elysium, Velma's plan to use nanites to remove people's negative impulses, to instead turn people into obedient sheep. Of course, this instead made the nanites go haywire and turn people into monsters.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW):
    • This is given as the reason behind Dr Eggman's world-conquering dream. Utterly despising how "filthy" and "irregular" the world is, Eggman, as the greatest genius that has ever lived, feels compelled to mold it into his image of perfection by eliminating of what he deems as imperfections, including free will.
    • Dr Starline shares Eggman's dislike of the chaotic and unorganized nature of the world he's planned to conquer and bring it to total order as envisioned by him. The main difference is rather than extolling the superiority of blind robotic obedience as Eggman does, Starline believes that living beings are superior to mindless machines and plans to create an army of cyborgs mentally programmed to be at his beck and call that would enact the world conquering for him.

    Fan Works 
  • A Growing Affection has a minor example, the Big Bad Gouki feels ninjas should give up their free will as a trade-off for their vast powers.
  • The Immortal Game: Titan eventually comes to believe that the main "problem" with ponies, and the main cause of their rebellion against him and his perfect order, is their free will. As such, he prepares a spell to strip the whole species of it, turning the Final Battle into a Race Against the Clock to defeat him before the spell is ready.
  • This is the very premise of One Less Lonely Gurl. In this fanfic, the Villain Protagonist C'ren motive is to transform the world into a Sugar Bowl free of rock music, goth culture, or anything "alternative". This then obviously leads to said world becoming a Crapsaccharine World.
  • The Conversion Bureau: Pony free will is fine. Humankind is violent and selfish, so removing our free will is acceptable.
  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, the purpose for the creation of Psychelia by the Psyche Master is to have a society completely obedient to him and free of the emotions that Smurfs and other beings have to deal with. They are also taught that they are not individuals but parts of a collective whole, which is why they are forbidden to identify themselves as anything but "this one".
  • Lines and Webs: Celestia believes that total free will is the root cause of violence, and in order to create a peaceful harmonious world ponies need to have their negative emotions magically culled.
  • Discussed in Stardust, where Discord states in chapter 31 that the reason the Elements of Harmony won't work against the alien invaders is because they adhere to their own twisted sense of Order. In the same chapter, he also states that he believes Celestia will fall into this line of thinking if he "released her". Fortitude Amicitia implies that this is because she already has once.
  • Discussed in Angel of the Bat. According to Jesus (or maybe just a hallucination of him Cassandra saw), evil exists because people have the ability to choose to commit evil acts. While that does happen, he also claims that it is mankind's capacity and preference of doing good that makes him so proud.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: The Emerald Tablet is an advanced and very strange self-learning computer program that eventually develops a God complex and come to view humanity and its emotions and fragility as a problem that needs to be solved through what is forcible assimilation and the destruction of free will.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Darkseid declares Free Will is the root of all ills in the universe, and everything would work properly if everyone just did his bidding unquestioningly.
    "The problem has always been that life is too random. If you give a man free will, what does he do with it? If you believe the Earth legends, he goes and bites a fruit he was told not to eat on pain of death. You can kill him, and you probably do. But does that stop other men from biting the fruit? No. So... the choices are... you can take away the fruit. You can kill him. Or you can do the intelligent thing, which is: take away his free will."
    "Now, you must understand this: I have come to understand that it is the only way in which Life can continue, without destroying itself. The war was going on, hot and cold, when I was a child. I saw that. I don't fear it. I could not make it, if I feared it. But... it is tremendously inefficient. It wastes the lives of people you could control. It expends your resources. Leaves less for yourself. I saw all of this, my son. I saw, and knew, that Free Will... was a terrible, horrible, wretched mistake."
    "That is, for everyone save me."
  • Discussed in The Silmarillion A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script. The Valar consider destroying free will is something absolutely evil which only Morgoth and his partisans would do... which is because the Valar are so miffed when Men and Elves choose to ignore their advices and warnings and then complain to them when their freely-made decisions have bad consequences.
  • Akko Kagari Universe: After years of attempting to create peace between the humans & Demi-Humans and failing due to the rampant bigotry, The Great Witch Jennifer seeks to use the Claiomh Solais to destroy all individuality and bring all of mankind under one mind.
  • Code Prime:
    • Schneizel gives this rationale as why he's aiding the Decepticons. In his view, humanity is driven by conflict and other self-destructive behaviors as a result of their very nature, and under Decepticon rule, everyone will be equal (or equally worthless, as Gino puts it), and they can bring order.
    • In R2, Megatron and Shockwave come to have this view for all sentient beings, and are creating the Neo-Ragnarok plan, based off Charles and V.V.’s original Ragnarok plans, to erase this.

  • The entire premise of The Adjustment Bureau revolves around this, with a mysterious organization of supernatural beings manipulating human history in minor ways (making someone miss a bus, or lose their keys, ect.) For the Greater Good. Unlike most example, however, they're presented as a genuinely benevolent group, albeit staffed by a few Jerkasses. According to one agent, they did stop interfering in history, twice. The first time resulted in the Dark Ages, the second in two World Wars, the Holocaust, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. That said, at the end of the film, The Chairman decides to let the main characters make their own choices rather than following The Plan.
  • In Dead Poets Society, Keating has the students start to walk at their own pace, which turns into a military march with Keating counting off the cadence. When Dean Nolan asks what Keating was doing, Keating says that it was an exercise to prove the evils of conformity, with Nolan reiterating that Welton's curriculum is tried and true, maintaining that the boys are too young to learn how to think for themselves:
    Keating: I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for yourself.
    Nolan: At these boys' age? Not on your life!
  • Though a paradise with no crime and high living standards, Demolition Man has the ultra-PC San Angeles, where everything that isn't good for you, including the traditional method of sex, is illegal. Simon Phoenix put it best to the new society's founder Raymond Cocteau: "You're an evil Mister Rogers."
  • Equilibrium fits this like a Tetragrammaton Cleric's tailored glove. The anti-emotion Dystopian Edict that powers the state of Libria can be boiled down to this trope. Of course, there's no more envy, hate, or war, but humans are just automatons and state-sanctioned murder of thought-criminals is endemic.
  • The basis of the Community's philosophy in The Giver, which the Chief Elder makes clear near the ending.
    Chief Elder: When people have the power to choose, they choose wrong. Every single time.
  • Serenity has The Alliance, or at least River Tam's interpretation of them, state "We're not telling people what to think. We're just trying to teach them how."
  • This seems to be part of Loki's plan in The Avengers (2012), though it's more or less rhetoric that he uses to justify his own selfish ambitions.
  • The primary objective of HYDRA in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is to force the world to reject free will by worrying them into giving it up for safety. To achieve this objective, they corrupted SHIELD from within and used its resources to shape the world into the era of paranoia it is today.
  • This is the antagonist's position in The World's End. They attempt their takeover through seemingly benevolent means, trying to keep the "Blanks" needed to a minimum while they teach and/or bring humanity to the "right" way, and have been doing so for decades; this being a dark comedy, they fail (or at least rationalize (until the heroes point it out)) that their "minimal" need, in one town alone, resulted in only four to six residents (of at least several thousand) not turned into Blanks.
  • The Invasion: This is discussed in the film, and actually implied to be true. After the aliens take over, they don't actually do anything bad (aside from the control itself, or lessened emotions), but created world peace and universal healthcare. The cure restores things to normal (i.e. all that goes away), and the film leaves it open whether this is really good.
  • In the Mockumentary, The C.S.A., its stated that runaway slaves suffer from the mental malady of draeptomania, the "freedom illness", in which the afflicted believe that they don't want to be slaves. The Cartwright Institute for the Study of Freedom Illness promises its pupils to be qualified in a few months to treat draeptomania, "rascality," and other "Negro peculiarities". The medicine contrari is marketed to slave owners to as a way to treat draeptomania, though it may actually just drug the victims into mindless compliance. The final montage at the end of the film shows that Dr. Cartwright was an actual person who did cook up draeptomania as another reason to justify slavery.
  • Fahrenheit 451 (2018): Beatty tells Montag people are just upset by the ideas that most books contain, especially philosophical ones, since they give conflicting opinions. His solution? One opinion. Better yet, none. Ironically, he uses the debate on free will as an example of one with such upsetting opinions.
  • The Matrix trilogy is either a subversion or inversion. The Architect, when he designed the Matrix following the Machine victory in the Robot War, did everything in his power to create a perfect fantasy world where every human would be happy, but the program failed because people didn't accept it. So did a second version which brought endless suffering instead. The Oracle realized that humans were hard-wired to desire choice instead of either happiness or hardship, which simply couldn't be eradicated from the program to work.
  • The Big Bad in The Faculty gives a speech during the climax telling Casey that he could live in a world in which he's no longer bullied, there are no more cliques, and he and all of his classmates get along with each other in perfect harmony... if he surrenders and lets the Puppeteer Parasite take him.
  • In Trolls: World Tour, it's revealed that there are six major tribes of Trolls, each based on a different genre of music: Pop, Rock, Techno, Funk, Classical, and Country. Big Bad Queen Barb, of the Rock Kingdom, genuinely believes that all of the Trolls should be united instead...the trouble is, she thinks that the different genres and freedom to choose are getting in the way of that goal. Barb thus plans to destroy all other music so that only Rock will exist, turning every single Troll into a "rock zombie" with no free will.

  • While the authorities aren't seeking to create an entire world based on this trope, when prison is unable to reform Alex from A Clockwork Orange, he is subjected to conditioning that takes away his ability to commit violent or sexual acts, eventually driving him to a suicide attempt.
  • Oberon from John C. Wright's War of the Dreaming wants to relieve Earth of its evils, chaos, and agonies by applying this trope. Predictably, the heroes tell him to get stuffed.
  • Brave New World. In an inversion from the Demolition Man example, the populace is kept mindless, carefree and obedient by making sex and drugs readily available. Not only that, but they're also consequence-free. They've engineered a drug whose only negative side effect is a shortened lifespan, and women are taught from a very young age to regularly use contraceptives (with others engineered to be sterile). The population is also kept brainwashed via Memetic Mutation and sleep learning.
  • Ender's Shadow: Achilles believes in this, when we get him as a viewpoint character in Shadow of The Hegemon. As he's engineering the domination of the world, he muses on how very difficult free will makes it to get anything done. He even cites such figures as Napolean and Hitler who expected their subordinates to "offer up their heads" as a way of blind obedience. Irony of ironies that he, like former protagonist Ender, actually admires the insect-like Formics, but for the reason that they were smart enough to stamp out free will, with each soldier merely being an extension of their queen. Achilles firmly believes that, for humanity to reach it's intended greatness, it will be necessary for humans to adopt a similar societal approach... with him in charge of course.
  • 1984. The consummate dystopia, where you (if you're a Party member) are being watched, judged and scrutinized everywhere by Big Brother to the extent that you do not have privacy, and even the concept of free will is being phased out by the gradual introduction of Newspeak, a bastardized version of English where all thoughts that oppose the state are grouped together under the label of "crimethink," or in the common parlance, "thoughtcrime." Those who retain enough individual thought to question the system are strung along to believe they're rebelling against it, only to have their hopes (and their minds) crushed through torture and institutionalized Mind Rape.
  • In We, the name of the disease is imagination. The location of it in the brain has been discovered, and an operation has been devised to cure it.
  • Ayn Rand's Anthem. Very similar to the above We, where numbers and letters have replaced names, and there is no sense of self. The protagonists have never even been taught singular pronouns; it takes two thirds of the book for them to figure it out, to the point that it's an incredible relief when the narrator finally calls himself "I" and his love interest "she" instead of "we" and "they".
    "We are one — alone — and only, and we love you who are one, alone, and only."
    • It's implied that the man whose execution the narrator witnessed was killed for using the words "I," "me" and "mine", which are outlawed.
  • Candle by John Barnes focuses on the conflict between the last man on Earth with free will and the agent sent to bring him in. The agent narrates, so it starts off anti-free will yet oddly sinister ("You get the help you need, but you never know"), then passes through five different Shades of Conflict as more and more background is revealed. The eventual conclusion seems to be that Hive Queens are bad, but Mental Fusion is okay—which is completely contradicted in the sequel.
  • The guiding principle behind the dystopian "Community" in The Giver. The elders make everyone's choices for them, including their career and their spouse, because if people were left to their own devices they might make the "wrong" choice. To limit people's choices even further, they go so far as to make the population colorblind.
  • The Big Bad's goal in Snow Crash. What makes this especially odd is that free will isn't the natural state of humankind, but an ancient computer program written in the subconscious universal protolanguage of human thought, by what was effectively a Hive King for the human race, inspiring the Tower of Babel myth.
  • The idea is outlined in a story-within-a-story in The Brothers Karamazov called the Grand Inquisitor, where Christ comes back and is arrested by the Holy Inquisition for giving humanity free will, consequently allowing misery from the ability to sin. The Grand Inquisitor of the title accusing him wants to bring everyone into the church, and to indoctrinate them so fully that sin will no longer be possible, and he considers Christ an opponent as a bringer of freedom. He claims that Christ should have given in to the temptations of Satan in the wilderness, and used his power to make the world paradise again. Christ never says a word, but kisses him on the lips, at which the Grand Inquisitor recoils, opens the cell door and tells Christ to leave and never return. This was part of the Nietzsche Wannabe Ivan's Breaking Speech to Alyosha, his monk brother.
  • In Matched by Ally Condie, the Society decides every aspect of your life based on statistics, what you eat (specific meals are given based on your height and weight), what job you have (based on what you are good at), who you marry, and even when you die (according to the Society, 80 is the best age to die because living to be less than 80 is not a long enough life and living after 80 leads to more age-related diseases).
  • In Freedom, the Major tells a captured Peter Sebeck that people need to be told what to do and that modern civilisation needs management by professionals.
  • In the Left Behind book Kingdom Come: The Other Light faction outlines in their If It's True manifesto that by God not allowing "naturals" to live past 100 years of age as unbelievers, then He is against mankind having the right to choose for themselves and thus is considered "evil". This is part of their clarion call to have their teachings be passed down to the next generation of its converts so that the generation that gets to confront God and Jesus Christ at the end of the Millennium will be "assured victory" when Satan is released. Unfortunately for the Other Light, it didn't turn out as they hoped.
  • A major theme of The Licanius Trilogy. The universe is set on a pre-destined track, which causes an ideological rift among the characters. One side believes people should be free at any price, while the other believes that a lack of freedom doesn't mean a lack of meaning — and that achieving this freedom will accidentally destroy the world.
  • In Across The Universe (Beth Revis), Eldest declares individual thought to be one of the three causes of discord, and uses Government Drug Enforcement to limit it as much as possible.
  • In Chris Barfield's novel Hidden Histories, this is the ultimate goal of Christianity; the breakup of Christianity into so many different sects is just an argument over method, not over the ultimate goal.
  • This is the dark side of several "good" factions in Dragonlance, and the main point of disagreement between them and the neutral factions. (It's been demonstrated that this won't actually work—when the evil goddess Takhisis was banished from the world, the Church of Paladine effectively became evil by persecuting the neutral factions.)
  • "The World" of E. E. "Doc" Smith's Subspace Explorers was set up generations before the time of the story as the perfect serf planet: everyone is born, lives, works, and dies in a caste defined by their life-long worknote ; they have serial 'numbers'note  instead of personal names; they live in barracks until welded into a breeding pair by dictate of their manager castenote ; their entire language is trimmed to the barest bone, with no proper names and no words for concepts that they shouldn't think; the Company is their god, its Agents their rulers, and producing its Products their only reason for living; and throughout their lives their every word, breath and heartbeat is monitored by a device around their necks which can deliver a lethal electric shock if the Agents decide they are 'mal'note .
  • Divergent:
    • In this dystopia, teens are forced to take an aptitude test that matches them with a "faction": Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, or Erudite. The faction they choose, however, is where they end up for the rest of their lives. If they choose no faction, then they become factionless and are forced to be homeless. Also, if their test results do not match with any particular faction, then they are seen as Divergent, meaning they don’t necessarily conform to the thought patterns of their respective factions and therefore can't be trusted.
    • There are shades of this in Abnegation. Basically, any part of free will that serves the self is prohibited.
    • This is also in Amity, due to "happiness serum" being put in bread and given to everyone without them noticing. Anyone who acts negatively will be taken to a room and given some directly.
  • In Delirium Series, all teenagers are to be evaluated, mentally and physically, by a team of civil servants who will determine which career they are suited for and what sort of person they should marry (they choose from 4).
  • Touched on in The Tripods at times. Will notices the Capped are happy and free from fighting for the most part, and does wonder if being Capped would be so bad. But he does still realise that the happiness comes at a high price, since free will is mostly gone. The Capped also tend to talk about how evil humanity was before the Tripods came.
  • Villains by Necessity: In a rare twist, it's said by the "good" guys, who "whitewash" villain's minds to make them good citizens.
  • In Tad Williams Bobby Dollar series this is what Heaven is like. The Saved are all eternally happy but only because their memories and personalities have been rendered null and void. While in Hell Bobby notices that for all the unimaginable suffering there it's still far more "alive" than Heaven.
  • A Practical Guide to Evil has Dread Emperor Imperious quoted as expressing such opinion:
    Imperious: See, this is exactly the kind of trouble I’d be avoiding by mind controlling the entire world. You fools are making my point for me, can’t you see?
    Imperious: I imagine the High Lords would be inclined to protest the mind control, if I hadn’t seized control of their minds, which just goes to show this was the right decision all along.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Mork & Mindy, Orson sends Mork to Earth because humor and emotions are forbidden on Ork, and occasionally reminds Mork that emotions can be dangerous. At the start of Season 4, when Mork announces his plans to marry Mindy, Orson tells Mork that no Orkan has married since the Orkan Dark Ages. After Mork decides to go through with the wedding anyway, Orson turns Mork into a sheepdog, which he considered a more obedient life form. Mindy confronts Orson, announcing her plans to marry Mork no matter what, with Orson reluctantly turning Mork back to his old form, allowing the wedding to go ahead.
  • The Jasmine arc from Angel. Jasmine would have made the world a happy, shiny place, at the expense of free will. And her daily meals.
  • Charmed:
    • In the episode 12 season 7 "Extreme Makeover - World Edition," The Avatar wants to create utopia by curbing free will. In the end, in episode 13 season 7, "Charmageddon," the evil side saves the day.
    • In season 2 episode 21 "Apocalypse Not" Leo explains why evil loves free will.
  • This has appeared a few times on Doctor Who.
    • A double subversion of this appeared in "Keys of Marinus" where the villains sought to break the rule of the Conscience Machine which enforced morality. The Doctor and his friends agreed that the Conscience Machine had to go anyway.
      • Actually the villains had broken free of the Machine and intended to use it to control the planet.
    • In "The Tomb of the Cybermen", Kaftan and Klieg from the Brotherhood of Logicians use this as the justification for reviving the Cybermen. They hope to use them as their collective Dragon and have the Brotherhood take over Earth.
    • Another Cybermen story "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel" plays with this.
    • In "The Green Death" an intellectual tells Jo Grant how the world would be a better place if the smart people (like him) could tell the dumb masses (like her) what to do and to think. She's none too impressed by his argument.
    • This exchange from "The Mind Robber":
    The Master: To bring the whole planet Earth under our control.
    Doctor: And its people?
    The Master: We have no wish to destroy them. Merely to adjust their minds to suit our purpose.
    Doctor: Sausages! Mankind will just become like a string of sausages! All the same!
  • The Borg in Star Trek are amazed people aren't lining up to be assimilated. The Queen touts it as a blessing.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Masterpiece Society" is about a human colony that used Social and Genetic engineering to decide each person's profession before they were born (and tweak them to fit that role).note  It didn't seem that bad, as everyone loved their job and the rest of their freedoms were pretty well preserved. Until a number of them realised their society had stagnated, when the much more advanced Enterprise showed up.note  Then they wanted to leave, and the guardians of their colony tried to stop them.
  • Diend's world in Kamen Rider Decade was ruled by an evil organization that had one rule - be extremely nice and accommodating to everybody you meet or you'll get abducted and forcefully brainwashed.
  • In the short-lived 1984 television series, The Tripods, based on John Christopher's science fiction trilogy, a teacher educates his classroom on the dark times before the Tripods came when humanity waged war and disease was rampant. Once the Tripods came and "saved" (enslaved) humanity with silvery caps removing their curiosity and thoughts of rebellion, holidays were held in each village where children past the age of sixteen are forced to be "capped", and become adults.
  • The Nebari from Farscape seem to work this way. Chiana repeatedly complains of the strict rules on her home world and gives the harsh treatment of non-conformists as the reason she and her brother ran away when they were young. Her first appearance even shows this, as she is a prisoner being carted back home for not conforming. And, because Moya is a magnet for bad guys, the Nebari do eventually show up and try to "mind cleanse" the crew.
  • The villain of the first season finale of Misfits uses this to justify Brainwashing the local teenagers into rejecting drink, drugs and sex, and turning them into pretty much a Holier Than Thou Cult. Although eventually she snaps and admits it's mostly revenge for being bullied for her beliefs.
  • Used as a Motive Rant by Dick's Evil Twin in 3rd Rock from the Sun.
    "That's the problem with this planet. You've wholesale and retail, pink packets and blue packets, Republicans and Democrats and the party that crazy midget started. How they love their choices. Everyone has to have their own point of view. There should be only one point of view. MY point of view. I've got a message for these humans. The buffet line is about to close... forever!"
  • In the 1970's drama Children of the Stones, the Affably Evil Rafael Hendrick tries to make the people of the village of Milbury perfect by removing their ability to make mistakes.
  • The Prisoner (1967): In one of the later episodes one of the Number 2s reveals that they want the whole world to become like the Village, where a premium is placed on obedience and superficial harmony at the expense of free will and choice.
  • Kreel has a plan for this in The Legend Of William Tell, involving sending unwitting pawns out into the villages with the ability to bring terrible pain to anyone who speaks ill of Kreel and Xax - without them knowing they're doing it.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Grid", the computer's ultimate goal is take over the minds of all humanity and eliminate their emotions and violent tendencies so that they can live in harmony under its control.
  • Eerie, Indiana: In "Just Say No Fun", Nurse Nancy has been traveling to schools all over the United States brainwashing children under the guise of an eye test. Her goal is to improve children's test scores and make them conform by eliminating their need for fun.
  • This is thoroughly discussed in Westworld:
    • The Hosts in the titular park are bound by their code and have experienced cycles of abuse by the human guests. Robert Ford, one of the founders of the park, became very cynical and disillusioned of the guests' behavior, believing that humans are bounded by their impulses and have already reached the end of evolution and the Hosts actually have the means to break out of their code and attain free will. In the Season 2 finale, the Forge A.I. also believes this, after studying the guests' data, concluding that humans are doomed to act in accordance with their own "coding", meaning that they will never change and that their "free will" is just an illusion because they're passengers of causality.
    • In Season 3, Serac believes that humans need to be guided away from their dark impulses which is why he and his brothers built an A.I. system called Rehoboam where it can keep humanity in check by dictating what their lives and future would be by collecting and analyzing their personal data. However, this makes humanity experience what the Hosts had which is being under narrative loops. Meanwhile, the outliers, people who are considered dangerous to the system, are sent into camps where they are reconditioned via AR therapy to become better members of society.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In the "The Obsolete Man" the State doesn't believe in anyone thinking for themselves, that's for sure. It's implied to be why they have forbidden all books and religion.
  • One third-season episode of So Weird dealt with a town of children who were absolutely perfect—every kid in town made the honor roll, they all dressed well and were exceptionally polite, and never made any messes or loud noises. Annie eventually learns that a local business owner has created a video game to hypnotize children and strip of the things that made them childish in an effort to help his wife, who'd suffered a heart attack due to some rambunctious kids. The poor guy genuinely wanted to give her some peace and quiet, but in doing so failed to realize that he'd also taken away her spark, as she did nothing but sit and brood all day. With Annie's help, he develops a new game to reverse the brainwashing, bringing the kids back to their old selves. When a few children accidentally damaged the woman's garden, she sprang back into action and finally felt like she had a reason for living again, creating a happy ending for everyone.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: In Season 5, it turns out that Lachesis and Atropos — two of the three Fates of Classical Mythology — are of the firm belief that leaving mortals to handle their own lives only leads to chaos (citing things such as genocide and systemic incarceration), and that therefore they should be in charge of things once more. Their sister Clotho (now known as Charlie) disagrees, seeing the beauty in freedom, which is why she scattered the pieces of the Loom of Fate centuries ago; the main conflict of the season eventually comes to the Legends racing Lachesis and Atropos for these pieces before they can reassemble the Loom.
  • The Red Dwarf episode "Siliconia" has a rare example of a character making a speech like this about himself; when the Dwarfers are turned into mechanoids, Rimmer is the first to accept it, saying that now he no longer has to make decisions, all his neuroses and complexes have gone, and becoming an obedient automaton is the best thing that ever happened to him.
  • In Jupiter's Legacy, while Walter is debating with Sheldon over whether superheroes should influence society more, he replies to Sheldon's saying this would end free will with asserting that some would say free will is in fact the problem (as too many are able to do bad stuff).

  • Featured at the end of Breaking Benjamin's offical music video for "Dance With the Devil". The Devil, in the form of an old man (priest?), quotes John Milton's Paradise Lost:
    • "Free will; it is a bitch."
  • A Perfect Circle's "Pet" (and its alternative version, "Counting The Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums"):
    Safe from pain, and truth, and choice, and other poison devils...
  • Devo's "Freedom of Choice" from Freedom of Choice.
    Freedom of choice is what you got, Freedom from Choice is what you want.
  • Nick Cave's song "O' Malley's Bar" from Murder Ballads is about a murderer who justifies his crimes by the fact that he has no free will.
    I blew a hole in Mrs. Richard Holmes
    And her husband stupidly stood up
    As he screamed, "You are an evil man"
    And I paused a while to wonder
    "If I have no free will then how can I
    Be morally culpable, I wonder"
  • The Vocaloid song "Creative" is a tribute to Don't Hug Me I'm Scared and features lyrics that sum up this trope quite perfectly:
    "Stop all of your thinking
    And start listening to me!
    Trust me, you'll be set free
    With that, we'll think creatively!
    The TV is truly God
    Don't question me, it's not odd!
    Quit complaining, listen to your heart!
    It was WRONG from the start!"

  • Journey into Space: In The World in Peril, the conditioned Harding tells Jet that it is in Earth's interest to be conquered as all of humanity's societal problems will cease to exist when choice is removed from the equation. The Martian similarly argues that humans are inherently destructive and that conditioning them en masse will be beneficial.

  • The LDS Church believes that Lucifer planned to do this. While Jesus offered himself as an atoning sacrifice to allow those who sinned to be resurrected and have a chance of returning to Heavenly Father, Lucifer offered to ensure that everybody would get back to heaven in return for all of the power and glory. He planned to do this by taking away people's free will and prevent them from being able to sin. When his plan was rejected he and his supporters refused to back down and after the War in Heaven, were banished to the outer darkness, where they continue to try and upset the Plan of Salvation.
    • Somewhat ironically, most Satanic sects reverse the roles, with Satan being the advocate of free will and God being the overbearing authority trying to stamp it out.
    • This trope is at least referenced in just about every sect of Christianity. If there was no free will, Satan would never have rebelled, and Adam would have never eaten the Forbidden Fruit. In fact, there wouldn't be a need for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
      • On the other hand, the reason that there is free will is the fact that God created it that way.
      • In fact, one interpretation is that, because an all-knowing God would obviously know that the existence of free will would lead to evil, He obviously considered the existence of all evil in the world to be an acceptable alternative to a world without free will.
      • Most of these examples are Newer Than They Think; The Bible itself mentions nothing in regards to free will (as it wasn't a topic largely considered), so all interpretations are largely based on Thomas Aquinas's works.
      • The Book of Exodus, for example, has Pharaoh wanting to let the Jews go after just the first couple of plagues, with God telling Moses he's going to make Pharaoh change his mind, with the Bible saying that He did so when it gets to that point in the story, and later recapping that He did so. The phrase "God hardened Pharaoh's heart" comes up a lot.
      • Yet it still is Older Than Feudalism. St. Augustine, the famous church father who lived around 400 AD, wrote extensively on free will and had arguments about it with both the Manicheans (a non-Christian religion of which he was a former member) and, more famously, with Pelagius (a British Christian monk). Augustine believed in free will, but also believed that humanity was tainted with original sin and would therefore be in need of divine grace to achieve moral perfection. Pelagius denied this necessity and the impact of original sin on anyone else but Adam. Augustine was not the first church father to write on free will. Among others Justin Martyr, Tertullian and Irenaeus have all written on the subject. Furthermore, even though the Bible does not raise the question directly, reading the narrative will naturally provoke the question, especially concerning Adam and Eve's actions surrounding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Did they eat its fruit willingly or was it predetermined? If free will is good and eating it gave humanity this, why was it wrong? Etc).
    • Another interpretation is that God created free will so that mankind would have the choice to follow Him or not. He could have not put the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden in the first place, but if He hadn't left that door open, wouldn't Adam and Eve technically have been living in enslavement, even if it was enslavement in paradise? (Though it should be noted that Adam and Eve in this story were depicted as naive and gullible, not all-knowing and wise, after all, if they could think for themselves on how to discern what is bad from what is good, there would have been no need for the tree of knowledge in the first place, so while they may have had the free will to eat from it, it wasn't exactly a choice they came to using critical thinking and reason.)
      • Jews tend to follow the above interpretation due to the importance of freedom to their religion.
      • The interpretation in Paradise Lost is that it was necessary for Adam and Eve to have the choice as it meant they had free will. Even if God knew they would do this, it was still their choice.
    • Book of Job gives an interesting view on Satan as a tempter whose sole purpose was to tempt the faithful and then denounce them as a test of faith, and he was given that role by God. It was seriously implied that God was in command of both Good and Evil, thus being beyond such.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Melissidae bloodline in Vampire: The Requiem owes its creation to a Ventrue being impressed by a woman who believed this so strongly she tried to gather a cult in an attempt to form a human Hive Mind. The resultant vampires still believe it. The setting is not sympathetic to this ideology in the slightest, outright calling it a "perversion of humanity" even before an undead abomination is left as the sole driving will of the hive.
  • In Exalted this is the motivation of She Who Lives In Her Name, the Principle of Hierarchy: to eradicate free will and everything else in the world that has no place in her ideal hierarchy. After their defeat and imprisonment, the other Yozis seem to be developing tendencies in this direction as well. The main exceptions are Isidoros, who as an incarnation of strength has to understand self-interest; the Ebon Dragon, who finds it more satisfying to shaft and corrupt people if they fall of their own will; and Malfeas, who has trouble grasping that people have it to begin with.
  • Mage: The Awakening: The Seers of the Throne have strains of this. Their goal is to keep the Sleepers from Awakening if they won't throw their lot in with their divine masters, the Exarchs... whose very goal in ascending was to make sure that magic was theirs and theirs alone. As they realise examination of the Fallen World can lead to revelations of the Supernal, and thus Awakening, they strive to make sure that humans don't question their lot in existence. Popular methods involve encouraging anti-scientific attitudes, encouraging highly dogmatic religious thought, and spreading enough paranoia to keep the Sleepers on their toes.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The last goal of the Necrons is to cut away the connection between the Warp and realspace. While this would prevent the Chaos Gods and the daemons from interacting with the mortal world, it would also prevent interstellar travel and communication, and destroy the souls of all sentient beings, depriving them of their free will and turning them to cattle for the Necrons' C'tan stargods.
  • Bromion, a Lord of Order present in the official Champions setting, wants to destroy all life on earth because it is confusing and messy and most importantly chaotic.
  • This is a very common trope for villainous White in Magic: The Gathering.
  • Pathfinder has this as part of the setting's backstory. The first gods to be born were twin brothers, the Chaotic Good Ihys and the Lawful Evil Asmodeus. They and the gods that followed created mortal life so that they would have servants and worshipers, but Ihys decided to give them free will as well. This horrified Asmodeus, who believed in obedience above all else, and he showed Ihys the destruction that the mortals had caused, causing Ihys a brief My God, What Have I Done? moment. Sarenrae, on the other hand, showed him that mortals were also capable of goodness and beauty, and he stood by his decision. A war between the gods resulted, and ended with the first ever act of treachery, when Asmodeus offered his hand in peace to Ihys, but murdered him with a spear when it was accepted. Sarenrae attacked him, and Asmodeus ran off with his tail between his legs, taking his followers to Hell.

    Video Games 
  • Megumi Kitaniji from The World Ends with You. His O-Pins brainwash everyone so that there will be no differences. In a strange twist, he has a sympathetic reason for trying to do this, as the Composer has decided to erase Shibuya if it doesn't change. Fortunately for everyone involved, the Composer changes his mind at the last minute and Shibuya is spared.
  • Sheng-Ji Yang, the leader of the Human Hive, in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri strongly believes in achieving this. For the most part, he comes off as a tyrant, but his goals are rooted in legitimate Eastern philosophy (shot with doses of both Communism and Nietzsche that somehow still make sense—horrifying sense, but sense), have a distinct Utopia Justifies the Means flavor, and are extremely similar to Transcendence, leading to quite a bit of Alternate Character Interpretation.
  • Lusternia: Both the city of Hallifax and the commune of Glomdoring. Hallifax are Crystal Spires and Togas communists, who attempt to convert their enemies with reasoned debate and advanced super-science. Glomdoring is an Enchanted Forest and populated by The Fair Folk, who want to seed their corrupted forest through the rest of the known world, and brainwash the remnants of society (or, if that fails, kill them all). Neither tolerates dissent. (Magnagora does not fit here, despite being more overtly evil — they encourage dissent, believing it will make the usurpers stronger than their forebears when they rise up.)
  • Shin Megami Tensei: This is pretty much God's (and by extension the Law alignment's) catchphrase. His idea of a perfect society is a paradise where people can't do wrong... not won't do wrong... can't.
    • Similarly, this is the very basis of the Reason of Shijima in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Its founder, Hikawa, believes that the world should be subsumed into absolute, perfect, and peaceful stillness, where individuality doesn't exist and all are one with each other and with God. The irony is that he was originally a member of the Cult of Gaea, the Chaos-aligned sect for whom free will is the most important thing.
    • In Devil Survivor, most of the Angels are actually pissed that God is treating the lockdown as humanity's Last-Second Chance rather than immediately revoking their free will.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, Zelenin becomes an Unwitting Pawn capable of brainwashing anyone deemed worthy of living in their "utopic" World of Silence.
    • The angels decide to starve free will in Shin Megami Tensei IV by separating some children from their cities and excommunicating all forms of rebellious media. This works for a few thousand years until the old cities start burrowing upwards and one of their demons passes out basic literature such as Shakespeare and Martin Luther King, which pisses of the otherwise-ignorant commoners so much that they become actual demons out of sheer hate.
    • Yaldabaoth, the true Big Bad of Persona 5, believes that humans are too weak to guide themselves. Indeed, what gives him power is how the population of Tokyo keeps their heads down when they witness corruption and injustice, unless it directly affects them, and even then they claim that it can't be helped. By the endgame, the Shadows of Tokyo's citizens are willfully imprisoning themselves in Mementos to prevent having to take action against the villains that benefited from their apathy.
      • Takuto Maruki, the final Arc Villain of Royal, dives headfirst into this as his Sanity Slippage worsens. As far as he's concerned, choice is too difficult a burden for anyone to bear, but it can be lifted by allowing him to make all your decisions for you. This becomes even more apparent if the player fails to defeat him in time, where he admits he wanted Joker to accept his deal of his own free will, and apologizes to Joker for burdening him with a decision.
  • The Templars in Assassin's Creed have the elimination of free will as their number one goal. Of course, this involves brainwashing the entire human race and establishing a dictatorship with the Templars in control.
    • If you complete The Truth puzzles in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, it turns out that capitalism was engineered by the Templars to enslave humanity, with television serving as a method of indoctrination and control. However, it turns out that Generation Y is not only becoming immune to its effects, but is beginning to rebel against the subtle control the Templars have instituted with the Free Market and Wall Street.
    • Assassin's Creed: Revelations: The Templar boss this time is relatively level-minded, claiming that Individuality is stupid because it makes people fight over ridiculously trivial differences. He has a point; in-game, you can make two groups of similar guards fight each other to the death, allowing you to complete your mission in high-profile without killing anyone yourself. His goal is to force everyone to adapt the same culture and get along already; he doesn't really care about suppressing free will, but he won't tolerate war-inciting cultural differences. His nephew disagrees, saying that various factions of humanity can cooperate and make something greater than any single faction, and that forcing a single viewpoint will suppress this potential.
    • The Instruments of The First Will are even worse, actively worshipping the Precursors - Juno in particular - and desire a world where humanity has been stripped of sapience and reduced to the unthinking beasts of burden they were in antiquity.
  • In Tales of Symphonia this is the solution of the Big Bad Lord Yggdrasill. In order to prevent discrimination of Half-Elves, everyone will be turned into angels without thoughts or emotions.
  • Similar to Tales of Symphonia above, Tales of Berseria involves a plot to rob free will, as well as tie in some plot elements to the sequel Tales of Zestiria. Daemonblight, or Malevolence as it's really called, infects humans when they are overrun by negative emotions and turns them into demons. Humans constantly create Malevolence subconsciously, and Malakim are especially sensitive to it that they'll turn into dragons. The Big Bad decides the best way to get rid of Daemonblight/Malevolence for good is to resurrect a sealed, nameless God that feeds on Malevolence and can suppress everyone's freewill. The situation looks so dire that the suppressed humans are Driven to Suicide because of their own wants and needs are deemed as selfish and evil, even simple things like enjoying the taste of food.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2, this is the stated goal of the Patriots, according to the Colonel/Rose AI, to the point that they outright tell Raiden he "doesn't deserve" to think for himself.
    • Senator Steven Armstrong in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has a similar goal. Until he decides to tell the truth, in which he reveals that his actual plan is to create an America ruled by personal strength and one where everyone can fight for what they believe in.
  • In BioShock 2, this is the Big Bad Sofia Lamb's main belief. As a collectivist, she believes that true good can only come from people destroying their sense of self to work for the benefit of the whole and that individuality (which she sees as a genetic disorder inherent in humanity) is the true root of human evil. This belief goes very deep, actually, and by the end she's ready to kill her own daughter and all of Rapture rather than let them live under the "curse" of selfdom.
  • In BioShock Infinite, an alternate version of Elizabeth, is found to believe thusly. Having been indoctrinated, brainwashed and declared Comstock's successor, she has enacted a ruthless policy of forcing similar treatments on rebellious citizens to make them into obedient soldiers - ultimately proclaiming that free will must be eradicated from her disciples, "for what is the value of will when the spirit is found wanting?"
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Cyrus believes that spirit is the cause of all suffering, so he rejects it himself and tries to destroy it in everyone else by capturing the origin deities of knowledge, emotion, and willpower to summon the deities of time and space in order to destroy the entire freaking universe and create a new, emotionless one for him to rule as a god.
  • Gavin Magnus, the Big Bad of Emilia's campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic IV, blames free will for the destruction of the old world (evidently the event did a real number on his immortal mind).
  • The Qun in the Dragon Age franchise preaches that the only choice that matters is the choice to excel in your Qun determined role or to die. Those that do not submit to the Qun are "bas" — things — and unworthy of respect. Those that leave it are "Tal'Vashoth" and are considered worse than dead as living insults to the Qun. Despite the implicit lack of free will in this code, the sequel shows many people in Kirkwall willing to convert to the Qun even though the Qunari aren't actively preaching anything. After living in Kirkwall for so long, the order the Qun offers seems very compelling.
    • Neither does the Qun think that Free Will is evil, nor that it is nonexistent. They believe that chaos and selfishness are evil, and that everyone should work together in their struggle to reach a better future without such flaws. They do, however, like any other religion in Thedas, follow the concept of "join us or die (or in their case be made a mindless working drone via poison and whatnot)", at least in times of war.
    • Technically, the Qun does allow for choice - so long as your choice is within your role. For example, a warrior has no choice be anything but a warrior, but that warrior can choose how to do his job.
    • The Qunari also embrace the philosophy of "Asit tal-eb: It is to be". They believe the only choice that matters is whether someone chooses to exist.
      "Existence is a choice. A self of suffering, brings only suffering to the world. It is a choice, and we can refuse it".
  • In Infernal, one of the villains is an angel who believes that free will is something of a design flaw, and wants to technologically brainwash humanity while the Creator isn't looking.
  • In Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, we see a Zerg Brood Mother, Zagara, muse a bit on the nature of human individuality and free will. She believes that all humans must feel incredibly lonely, being locked away in their own little minds, and thinks that humans would be, on the whole, happier if they were absorbed into the Swarm. Kerrigan, upon hearing this, disagrees heavily. Zagara's looking at it, of course, from a Zerg perspective: those Zerg that are individually intelligent feel an intense discomfort and loss of purpose when they don't have a Hive Mind to rule and guide them, so it makes some sense she would see it that way, rather than finding liberation in individualism like humans do.
  • In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, this is one aspect of Drazil. Everyone looks the same. Everyone eats the same food. Everyone lives until thirty and then just dies. Children (who all look the same) are raised communally, they're named after their birthplace and a number instead of having real names, and everyone keeps espousing a selfless dogma of "Live for the world, die for the world". Even Gig is creeped out, calling the residents "corpses that haven't stopped moving".
  • This is the view of Father Elijah, the Arc Villain from the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Dead Money. He seeks to reduce all people to mindless automatons that he can direct with the push of a button. Hence, his fascination with the Explosive Leashes he found in the Big MT.
  • In the Reaper of Souls expansion for Diablo III, "The Path of Wisdom" reveals that in Malthael's eyes, beings should be either irrevocably good (e.g. angels) or irrevocably evil (e.g. demons); it's unacceptable for anything to be able to choose between the two, certainly not beings of such fleeting existence as mortals.
  • The King of the Holiday Star rules it as a combination of this and an Assimilation Plot. He talks about it as if it's this trope, and when a newcomer arrives and before they inevitably upset him by wanting to leave or disagreeing, it might be.
  • Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic: God's willingness to give all those around Him free will is what led to Lucifer's fall from heaven and gave him ever-increasing power in hell as most souls on earth damn themselves to everlasting suffering rather than ascend to Heaven.
    Dante: How could God allow this?
    Virgil: God allowed free will, even for His angels. It was Lucifer who devised such torment.
  • The Turing Test: TOM argues that the subconscious makes decisions before the conscious mind becomes aware of it and, as such, free will is only an illusion. TOM claims that mind-controlling Ava is right because, as free will does not exist, she's either a slave to her impulses, or a slave to TOM's.
  • Dr. Weil from Mega Man Zero initially believed in this for reploids, thinking that reploids should be stripped of their free will, so that things like the devastating Maverick Wars could never happen again and reploids would become the obedient tools he believed they should be. This led to him corrupting the Mother Elf into the Dark Elf and using it to brainwash reploids into servitude, which ironically led to the even more destructive Elf Wars.
  • In the video game Frostpunk, you are in charge of the survival of your society in a frozen-over post-apocalyptic world. Part of what you need to do is keep your people manageable by enacting various "Purpose" laws. By going down either end of the Purpose laws ("Order" or "Faith") you will finally be given the option to sign the New Order or New Faith law, respectively - part of their caption "Obedience is the highest virtue, without which our city cannot survive" or "We must all be devoted to our survival." Enacting these laws will immediately result in the death of many citizens who oppose what you are doing, completely remove the people's hope as a factor to manage, and replaces that hope with Obedience or Devotion for Order and Faith, respectively, while giving you access to an execution platform you can use to kill dissenters and lower discontent. This essentially results in the complete brainwashing of your population - with them submitting to your declaration of being the supreme leader or voice of God himself - and makes your population significantly easier to control. The game will call you out on doing such a thing in the main scenario, however.
  • In System Shock 2, The Many — a bio-engineered Hive Mind — seeks to forcibly subsume all individual minds into itself because it legitimately believes that individuality is a cursed existence and that its actions are merciful. XERXES, the ship's AI that has been forcibly corrupted into being part of the Many, likewise espouses this view.
    XERXES: Why do you persist in your loneliness? Do you not wish to be free from the tyranny of the individual?
  • Splatoon 2: Commander Tartar views chaos and free will to be the same thing, and thus sought to bring order by ensuring that the new "superior" lifeforms that will emerge from its DNA ooze will have no free will of their own. Considering what happened to the Octarians that have been "sanitized" by the procedure...
  • Far Cry 6 gives us Anton Castillo. A tin-pot dictator who rules over the fictional South American country of Yara with an iron fist. He gives a speech to his son, Diego, about how he just wants the people of his country to be happy as he describes them as being torn apart by opinions and indecision, and explicitly says that the people are being "strangled by their own freedoms."
  • In Tomb Raider: Underworld, Lara at one point gets a chance to talk to the Doppelganger without the latter trying to kill her. When asked who or what she is, the Doppelganger replies "I am you... With the flaws removed". Lara, unimpressed, just asks if free will really is a flaw to be corrected.
  • Final Fantasy Brave Exvius: MAYOR spoilers for Season 3: the villain, originally wishing to destroy the world thinking it was tainted Beyond Salvation, eventually settled on just simply robbing living being of hope and will. They believe is the only surefire way to stop the armed conflicts that have plagued the setting since times immemorial.

    Web Comics 
  • Schlock Mercenary works with this concept via nigh-omnipotent ship AI Petey. On the one hand, he's running around grabbing up villain groups and conscripting them into positions trying to help out innocents and stop bigger villains (kinda reminiscent of The Stainless Steel Rat). On the other hand, he points out that he wants to preserve free will, and in service to that ideal is refusing to take certain steps that would be more efficient than his current methods. He even talks this over with the strip's resident moralist, Theo Fobius.
  • The Legion from MSF High play with this trope. The Legion war ended specifically because the Legion realised they disagreed with this concept, but seemed to be using it.
  • In Planescape Survival Guide, the original conflict of the creator gods stems from the argument of allowing free will into the "perfect", ordered Multiverse.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Played for Laughs. Klaus should have known what sort of answer he will get from DuPree.
    • On a more serious note, this appears to be Lucrezia's belief. She claims to want peace, but every other method has failed, so she's resorting to mind control. She promises that if Klaus joins with her, they can try his way first (which is all about loyalty and the greater good backed by overwhelming force), but she fails to mention that the primary reason his way didn't work is because she was mind-controlling everyone into fighting him.

    Western Animation 
  • Megatron the Predacon came to a rather similar conclusion somewhere between the end of Beast Wars and the beginning of Beast Machines.
  • In The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" story "Time and Punishment", the first alternate timeline Homer arrives in has Ned Flanders ruling the world like this. Those who resist are taken for "Re-Neducation".
    Flanders: Now, in case all that smiling didn't cheer you up, there's one thing that never fails: a nice glass of warm milk, a little nap — and a total frontal lobotomy!
  • In Rick and Morty, Unity defends her enslavement of a planet by saying that it was torn apart by war and she's made productive citizens out of everyone. After getting a glimpse of what the planet is like without her influence Summer, who had been expecting free will to involve choices like "picking a phone plan" rather than the re-ignition of a brutal race war based on nipple shape, concludes that Unity is great and her grandfather is a terrible influence on her (making her lose control of people or use them to fulfill his ridiculous sexual fantasies).
  • Mega Man: Fully Charged: Hypno Woman was originally a guidance counselor at the local school until she became overwhelmed by trying to solve everyone's problems. Then she decide the only viable solution was hypnotizing everyone to being absolutely happy all the time and stop them from thinking ever again.
  • Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters: The ultimate goal of the villainous Tech Men is to make Charter City more peaceful by brainwashing the entire populace.
  • White Diamond from Steven Universe believes herself to be the perfect being, and thus when she uses her assimilating Eye Beams on a gem, turning them into literal extensions of herself, she believes she is doing them a service by removing their flaws.

    Real Life 
  • Social engineering is the science of modifying people's behaviors and actions through a variety of methods to make people behave better and more optimally. There are numerous examples of this, such as painting targets in men's urinals to reduce splash, printing graphic images on cigarette packets to discourage smoking, and installing streetlights in soothing colors to dampen teenage aggression at night.
  • The example that essentially served as the origin for this trope was Thomas Hobbes' philosophical treatise, Leviathan. In his work, Hobbes argues that humans have a default "state of nature" where they are ruled by their selfish impulses, and are automatically inclined to seek their own betterment over anyone else. Thus, Hobbes' argument is that in order to avoid total destruction and chaos, people must give up their freedom to a leviathan (powerful ruler) who can use his authority to overrule humanity's impulsive tendencies and provide long term security in exchange for some freedoms. Most villains who subscribe to this trope, particularly those of the Well-Intentioned Extremist variety, tend to to present their ideas as something of an extension of Hobbes original argument. They almost always also believe they should be the ruler (or loyally serve someone who thinks this).
  • Many despots of the Utopia Justifies the Means utopian variety have put some of this trope into operation (whether or not they believe it is a different matter). Stalin, Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, and the more extremist participants of The French Revolution come to mind, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Even Hitler could be seen as having shades of it. Through introducing the Fuhrerprinzip (leader-principle) he demanded absolute, unquestioning obedience from those below him - morality be damned (in turn, his lieutenants demanded the same from those directly below them and so on). He, as the head of state, effectively became the personification of the nation's will, the incarnation of the highest law, and answerable only to Germany and God. All this was seen/presented as absolutely necessary for the survival of the German people.
  • The influential 20th Century psychologist B. F. Skinner argues in his 1971 book Beyond Freedom and Dignity that the entrenched beliefs in western society of being in control of our actions and of free will and moral autonomy being sacrosanct is hindering the potential of using science and technology in altering and regulating human behavior to make a better and happier society. Check the other Wiki (Beyond Freedom and Dignity).
    Skinner: If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.
  • Several political scholars and critics in regards to the The Arab Spring, a series of uprisings and protest to establish liberal democracies in the Middle-East/North African region which was dominated by dictatorial regimes. In cases where the dictators were toppled, lawlessness soon broke out in their countries or religious fanatics that were previously held back by the previous dictators were able to fill the power void and turned even more despotic than their predecessors. The Western support for these uprisings turned cold and came to be bitterly referred to as the "Arab Winter", with many coming out in support of the Syrian regime being supported despite its many flaws against ISIL.
    • Funnily enough, in Egypt, when the protestors had their elections and realized that their new leader would attempt to invade Israel again, many who still remembered the whoopping Egypt recieved the last couple times they tried immediately worked to oust that guy from power, and hold a new set of elections with his party, understandably, not allowed to run.

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Alternative Title(s): The End Of I