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Villain Override

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"I am assuming direct control."

It's the next-to-final battle, and the heroes are moving in on the fortress. The Big Bad dispatches his Quirky Miniboss Squad and The Dragon, but while they pose a challenge for a while, they too fall. He is obviously miffed, but it's not like he can go out there himself...

The next thing that the fallen minions see is their boss' face looming above them. He informs them that they have failed, and they panic and retreat — and suddenly stand up with Mind-Control Eyes. Healed to full and twice as strong, they rush at the heroes again, but something's wrong. The villain is possessing them to finish the job.

A favored trick of The Man Behind the Man, to show that he really is the biggest threat despite hiding in the back. Also used in case of Non-Action Big Bad, when the villain is established as lacking the ability to be a legitimate Final Boss by the virtue of being unable to fight the heroes on an equal footing. This may result from him being too weak, too powerful, or an incorporeal force that never truly dies, and has to resort to trickery instead.

A form of Sequential Boss. Contrast "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight, Heroic Willpower, and Brainwashed and Crazy, which use heroes as the controlled. If the miniboss(es) survive, expect a quick Mook–Face Turn, or that they were Good All Along.

Compare Berserk Button and Brainwashed. This is basically Mass Hypnosis or Face–Monster Turn done to one's allies instead of the enemy.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
  • The finale of the Pure arc of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. It looks like the amalgamation of Knight Templar Michel and his Clingy Jealous Girl host body Michal have finally been reached by The Power of Friendship, as has the Great One, who was just as much of a pawn. The real threat, small annoying creature Fuku, fears that his plans will go to waste, and overrides Michel/Michal.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Quattro does this to Lutecia when it seemed like the words of Caro and Erio were finally getting through to her. This causes her to summon a large amount of giant insects against the two, including one that's approximately the size of Godzilla.
  • Happens to the sleeper agent Anew Returner in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 when she decides to forego her mission and stay with her boyfriend, which sadly ends in her death.
  • In the final battle with Sensui in YuYu Hakusho, this happens to Yusuke! His demonic ancestor possesses him, boosting his power ridiculously high and easily dispatching his enemy. He doesn't like being made into a puppet like that, though.
  • In the final episode of Sailor Moon's first season, The Man Behind the Man Metallia merges with Big Bad Queen Beryl.
  • The anime-only Amagai arc from Bleach features a series of weapons used by the villains. Kumoi's assassins and elite soldiers are given named Bakoto with unique abilities that grow more powerful depending on the user. The mooks are given unnamed Bakoto that only do this.
  • In Naruto, the black Zetsu can hijack Obito's body due to half of it being composed of the same cells as Zetsu. Subverted when Obito resists the first attempt, then played straight with a second attempt. Black Zetsu later does the same thing to his would-be boss, Madara, transforming him into Kaguya.
    • People resurrected with the Edo Tensei technique are bound to their summoner's commands but have enough free will to work against them by shouting warnings and offering tactics. To counter this, the summoner can use a seal to completely suppress their free will, although this greatly reduces the victim's combat ability.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, the Kanto Elite Four are a villainous group... except for Bruno, who merely desires a fair fight with a strong opponent. To get him to go along with their schemes, Agatha is forced to use the Gym Badge Enhancement Device to mind control him. He perceives these overrides as blackouts and has no memory of what happened during them.
  • In the second season of Future Card Buddyfight, Yamigedo possesses Ikazuchi when the latter tries to re-seal it following a Heel–Face Turn. This turns Ikazuchi purple and gives him a Voice of the Legion. It also gives Yamigedo a human avatar with which to communicate and counter the heroes while still acting on its own.


    Fan Works 
  • A staple of the Dungeon Keeper games, it's no surprise that it shows up in Dungeon Keeper Ami. A Keeper can Assume Direct Control of any minion in their employ, gaining any natural abilities, talents, or skills possessed by said minion. Most Keepers also use their minions as an additional layer of armor- if the possessed minion is killed the keeper is merely ejected with minimal ill effects. Ami, as a rare heroic example, only uses her minions to complete specific tasks, and is unusually careful to keep them alive.
  • In the fanfic The Immortal Game, King Titan is capable of doing this with Terra's puppets. While they don't quite have Titan's godlike levels of power and invulnerability, these alicorn puppets are still very, very hard to kill.
  • In the Pony POV Series, General-Admiral Makarov, the Big Bad of Shining Armor Arc, is able to do this with his robots and Alicorn Cyborgs, due to being a reality warping Equineoid Abomination.
  • Downplayed a bit in Calvin and Hobbes: The MovieChapter 10 reveals that one of the aliens had possessed one of Moe's friends to coerce him to get Calvin to attend Camp Pine.
  • Mirror's Image: While not exactly the villain of the story, Queen Chrysalis is capable of talking through her changelings, but she usually just uses this ability to upbraid Princess Celestia.
  • Aurora (PonyholicsAnonymous): At one point, Dawnbringer does this with his captured minion Midnight Dream in order to speak with and taunt Luna. After the connection is broken, Midnight Dream (who wasn't sane to begin with) is left catatonic by the process.
  • Child of the Storm: During the Final Battle of Book 1, Gravemoss — who had been slowly influenced and corrupted by the Darkhold throughout the story — gets briefly possessed by the book's author, Chthon. This doesn't last long, however, before the Phoenix (pulling a heroic version of this on Harry) cuts the link between the two of them. But then, during his subsequent duel with Doctor Strange, he becomes so desperate that he digs deeper into the book's power, allowing Cthon to take full control.
  • In The Life and Times of a Winning Pony, Chrysalis can possess any Changeling in her swarm, even shapeshifting to make them look like herself, something she does when she has to be in more than one place at the same time—for instance, trying to get Cloud Kicker and her group to surrender while at the same time gloating over a defeated Celestia.
  • Son of the Sannin: During the Fourth Ninja War arc, Orochimaru catches on that the Edo Tensei zombies can be released by giving them closure. As a result, he decides to make sure this won't happen again by overriding their personalities with his own whenever it seems that one will fall to this.
  • For the Glory of Irk: During the Final Battle, Control Brain IX plugs himself into Xia when disappointed in her performance, turning her into a living marionette so he can control her fighting.
  • I Woke Up As a Dungeon, Now What?: This is a staple power of dungeons, but it normally costs mana and can only be done on a few minions at once. Taylor, presumably due to her parahuman origins, can control any number of minions, for free, and give them all individual instructions with no loss of focus.

  • Happens during the final battle at the end of TRON. The Master Control Program transfers his functions to his damaged minion, Sark, making him grow many times his size.
  • Happens to the dead Septimus in Stardust.
  • The agents in The Matrix can override anyone that is plugged into the system.
  • Real Steel has both a heroic and a villainous example. During the final round of the climatic fight, both Charlie and Tak assume direct control of their respective robots.
  • Happens in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra with a dose of Cyanide Pill thrown in for good measure. Nanomites are fun.
  • In the climax of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers The Movie, after the Ninjazords destroy Scorpitron, one of Ivan Ooze's Ecto-Morphicons, Ivan decides to take matters into his own hands by merging with his remaining mech, Hornitor, and morphing it into his form. In this case, however, the possess-ee wasn't exactly sentient to begin with.
  • X-Men Film Series: Inverted with Professor Charles Xavier because he's a heroic character. He can hijack people's bodies, and unless they're another psychic or using a Psychic Block Defense, none has been shown to be able to resist. When using Cerebro, he can hijack anyone across the globe as he sees fit.
  • In Transformers: Age of Extinction, once Galvatron breaks free in KSI's factory in China, he hacks into their servers and reprograms all of the KSI drones to follow him.

  • In Brisingr, Galbatorix does this to Murtagh, turning the tide in the battle against Oromis.
  • In The Dresden Files novel Cold Days, Nemesis pulls this on Cat Sith. Unusually, it actually makes the victim less effective because the victim was such a brutal Combat Pragmatist who didn't believe in Evil Gloating. It's what clues Harry into the fact: he realizes that if the real Cat Sith had turned on him, it would have been with an instantly-lethal Back Stab. When he gets double-crossed without getting killed, Harry figures out that Cat Sith isn't there anymore.
  • In Left Behind, Satan takes over Nicolae Carpathia's body to resurrect it during The Indwelling.
  • At the climax of Worm, the Villain Protagonist uses her newfound mind control powers to take control of essentially every major faction in the world- and several alternate realities- to get them to stop fighting each other and perfectly coordinate the assault preventing Scion from wiping out humanity. This is later shown to have applied recursively; Taylor herself was being mostly controlled by the power-boosted Queen Administrator shard, which was controlling her in order to control everyone else.
  • In The Stormlight Archive book Oathbringer, Odium does this with Amaram and the entirety of the Sadeas army via using two of his most powerful Unmade. One afflicts the latter with a berserk battle rage, while another outright possesses the former, altering his entire body and turning him into a monstrous killing machine.
  • Built into all Hemalurgic creations in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy. Hemalurgy is the power of Ruin, and empowering someone with it opens them up to his influence. The Kandra defy this with a suicide pact formed at creation: if Ruin ever becomes powerful enough to take control, they will all kill themselves to deny him. Marsh spends the second and third books under Ruin's control, but discovers a way out: when berserk with bloodlust, Ruin can't control him directly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Super Sentai:
    • The Go Go Five finale has the Big Bad do this to her Dragons for a final battle, and is killed when they are.
    • In Abaranger, Desumozorlya is a disembodied consciousness who communicates by controlling the body of minion Rije/Rijewel. Near the end, he controls Rijewel almost full-time, using her to do battle. Once she gets free, he takes over his monster-of-the-week makers, Voffa and Mikela, turning them into one hideous body for himself. He survives its destruction; they're not so lucky. His last body is a non-sentient suit of cursed armor that had been passed around throughout the series.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: During the Big Badass Battle Sequence at the climax of the Season 3 finale, the Legends and their allies successfully knock out Mallus' army of Mooks, only for the demon in question to possess them all in order to get them back on their feet.
  • The Ori in Stargate SG-1 have done this to the Doci, the mortal leader of their religion, and, being Ascended beings, could presumably do this to other mortal beings as well. The Ori themselves are never fought directly, because the Ascended Alterans keep them from directly acting outside of their galaxy, and they were eventually killed offscreen by a plot device.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Exalted, every Primordial/Yozi is capable of possessing its souls and (in the case of their fetich) harnessing their own Charms through them.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Trazyn the Infinite goes to dangerous regions by occupying another Necron's chassis and then jumping to another when his ride is destroyed.
  • In Sentinels of the Multiverse, the special variant of the villain Spite, "Agent of Gloom" has been resurrected by the demon Gloomweaver. If this version of Spite reaches the conditions to make him flip to his alternate side, this represents Gloomweaver becoming dissatisfied with Spite's performance and taking over his corpse personally.
  • At the end of the fifth adventure in Pathfinder's Rise of the Runelords adventure path, Runelord Karzoug mentally reaches out from the Eye of Avarice and possesses a giant statue of himself, turning it into an unusually powerful stone golem and seeking to defeat the heroes right then and there. He can only maintain control for a short time, though— if the golem is still standing after four rounds of combat, its animation fades. Karzoug retains his connection long enough to taunt the PCs, but gets cut off before he can finish.

  • Beast Wars: Uprising: At the climax of Derailment, Galva Convoy is killed, apparently ending the threat of the Vehicons. Then, the person who gave him the idea, Lord Imperious Delirious, reveals he's still around, and takes control of the Grand Mal and all those millions of Vehicons at once.

    Video Games 
  • Galaxy Angel:
    • In the first game, the mercenary Hell Hounds, despite being evil counterparts of the Moon Angels, fall pretty easily in their last fight. Noah appears on the monitors in their pseudo-Angel Wings, takes control of the ships, and shoots out glowing thread into the backs of their heads to control their minds. The next battle has them significantly stronger.
    • In the manga, this is partially subverted, in that the effect makes them weaker against the Emblem Frames' 11th-Hour Superpower upgrades, which would not have likely had any effect had they NOT been under Noah's control.
  • Xenogears: Several times during the original game. Just as the party was finishing off a particular boss, Grahf would appear, give a short speech about the nature of power, and brainwash and/or transform said miniboss into a more powerful form. The Perfect Words guide explains exactly what he does. Every Gear's slave generator (that absorbs power from the Zohar engine deep in the planet) has a limit on it that controls the amount of power its allowed to absorb. He unlocks this, allowing the generator to absorb unlimited energy from Zohar and push the Gear far beyond its limits.
  • Xenosaga: Virgil uses this to Kick the Dog, forcing the already mortally wounded Realians to drag themselves into a suicide attack. Downplayed by the fact that they were okay with it.
  • Silhouette Mirage: After winning the final battle with Zohar, Har dramatically reveals that he's a Guardian Angel and disables his free will, allowing him to access his true power and transform into the gigantic, polygonal Cypher Zohar.
  • Super Robot Wars Reversal:
    • Subverted when the Big Bad is fatally wounded by the heroes, and her Replacement Goldfish sacrifice their souls to heal her... but their bodies keep going, still determined to carry out their last wish... Even more touchingly, the Big Bad asks each of them what they desired, promising to fulfill it when she resurrected them.
    • Played straight in the Original Generation version, where she demands two of the three (the third is elsewhere and ends up being spared this as a result) rejoin with her and consumes them entirely to power up to her final form. They obey her at it is their purpose of creation, but they aren't exactly happy about it.
  • Dark Chronicle: Occurs with a slight twist. Emperor Griffon takes over Gaspard after Gaspard is defeated and betrays Griffon, making this also an example of You Have Failed Me.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts: In Hollow Bastion, after Riku loses to Sora near the beginning, he takes advice from the mysterious Black Cloak, who convinces him to give in completely to The Dark Side and possesses him, showing up later as the penultimate fight for that world. He proceeds to give Maleficent a Villain Override as well, forcibly turning her into a dragon for the heroes to fight and kill.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]: Word of God states that this is how Young Xehanort is able to ignore the effects of Mickey's Stopza and fight Riku; his older self (who wasn't present to be affected by the time freeze) taking control of him. Without this information, most would simply chalk it up to his nature as a Time Master.
  • Cave Story: After you beat the Big Bad, he returns and possesses The Dragon (who'd been trying to convince the hero to leave and not to destroy the island's core), the Damsel in Distress, and the "core" of the island, for a three-on-one fight.
  • City of Heroes: Subverted during Statesman's Task Force. It turns out that Lord Recluse's lieutenants were buying time for his powerup machinery to come online. After they fall, he comes out to deal with your team of superheroes himself.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect: After you defeat what seems to be the Final Boss, Sovereign takes control of him via his cybernetic implants and turns him into a fast-moving, rocket-spamming, weapon-overheating husk. This actually proves to be a mistake; Sovereign invests so much focus on Shepard that, when the possessed Saren is crushed, the Reaper drops its shields from the backlash and becomes vulnerable to a barrage from the massed fleets of the Citadel, who promptly rip its main shell apart and put it down for good.
    • Mass Effect 2:
      • Harbinger, the Collector General, who commonly takes over a Collector drone in the middle of fights. And because he can do this to any active drone, he can pull this trope off more than once in any given battle. In fact, he does this so often as to reach Demonic Spiders status (and since he is a Large Ham when doing this, his associated quotes have reached Memetic Mutation status, even providing the page quote). Don't forget the parts where he'll take over a Collector that you're about to finish off, restoring them to full health in addition to the hefty power boost.
      • Inverted in the final sequence. As the Collector base fills with explosions, the image of a Reaper, the real Harbinger, looms over the Collector General. It declares the Collectors have failed and then releases control, having directly manipulated the General until that point. This is because Harbinger learned a thing or two from Sovereign's attempt to do this with Saren earlier—he was using the Collector General to avoid the psychic backlash that occurs when whoever he's in control of is killed, and when the General's own life is in jeopardy, he cuts the connection to him as well.
    • Mass Effect 3:
      • In multiplayer mode, Harbinger (or another Reaper) can seize control of any Collector unit, including Scions and Praetorians, turning what was a tough opponent into a sudden, horrible boss fight, often at the worst moment.
      • Inverted with the Awakened Collectors, who are playable thanks to Leviathans overriding Reapers' control over some of the Collectors.
  • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade: Nergal summons morphs in the form of all the hardest enemies fought previously, but with the best weapons in the game and much higher stats. It's implied that they're actually the originals whenever you kill them.
  • Vanguard Bandits: One of Falkner's favorite tricks is to give your apparent allies a dose of Brainwashed and Crazy once you're done with his mooks. In the bad ending of the main story branch, he does it to you.
  • Persona 4:
    • Ameno-Sagiri first reveals itself when it possesses a defeated Adachi and uses his body to manifest its true form. Also something of a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere.
    • In Persona 4 Golden it's explained that the being in question had been "following" the character ever since the beginning of the game. Furthermore, it also has two "siblings" that serve similar roles, and all 3 are acting as the eyes of the true final boss.
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: Once in the very bottom of Area Zero The AI version of Professor Sada (Scarlet) or Turo (Violet) will tell you that you need to deactivate the time machine, but that, because of how the lab is programmed, the moment they do so, the AI Professor's programming will be overrided and will proceed to battle you to protect the machine, so you must be prepared.
  • Mega Man & Bass: After being defeated once, King is ready to stand down until Wily brainwashes him into fighting further.
  • The World Ends with You has Uzuki and Kariya fighting the protagonist over three days. First Uzuki alone, then Kariya alone and both in the same day, and then both of them again, Brainwashed and empowered by The Dragon's master plan.
  • Super Paper Mario has you fight recurring boss O'Chunks several times. In your penultimate fight with him, fellow Quirky Miniboss Squad member Dimentio plants a leaf on his head that causes Mind Control and strengthens him. Subverted in that you fight him once more later, when he's not brainwashed and holding nothing back, and he's even stronger.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: In The Subspace Emissary, the Ancient Minister eventually realizes that his R.O.B. army setting off all the Subspace Bombs at once on Ganondorf's orders is going too far, and intervenes. Ganondorf ain't having any of it, so he pushes a remote which brainwashes the R.O.B.s and usurps the Minister's control of the army to himself.
  • Dungeon Keeper:
    • The Possession spell allows you to take direct control of a minion, switching the game to a first-person modenote  and giving you access to most of that minion's abilities. Possessed minions are faster, stronger and tougher than normal, can ignore bodily needs almost indefinitely, can deliberately dodge attacks, and can fight intelligently for a change. You are the Villain Override.
    • In the second game, you can recruit a small group of other minions into a raid party that follow you around and attack whoever you attack, although given the increased movement speed of possessed minions, they have trouble keeping up. In addtion, certain creatures gain extra abilities that can only be used by you while you possess them (such as the rogue's camouflage, or the giant's dwarf tossing). You also used to be able to unlock doors and disable traps, but this turned out to be such a Game-Breaker that it was disabled in a later patch.
  • War for the Overworld, being a Spiritual Successor to Dungeon Keeper, follows the model of the second game where you can make a party of minions lead by your possessed one, though unlike in the Dungeon Keeper games your possessed minions will gain exp for kills you make using their body, and you can use dungeon objects such as training dummies. There's even one level that has no dungeon management which can be done entirely in possession mode.
  • Overlord II requires you to do this to complete a few areas. Most of these sequences are simply a matter of your minions entering an area that is to small for you in order to remove and obstruction and let you in, but there are a couple of longer sequences.
  • AdventureQuest Worlds: In the Shadowfall War, the evil lich Noxus does this to the entire undead army of the Shadowscythe Empire under Empress Gravelyn, which counts as this instead of Mass Hypnosis due to the fact that he himself first created this army for Sepulchure, Gravelyn's father. The only undead minion to escape Noxus' control? Gravelyn's own creation, Chuckles.
  • Team Fortress 2: For a given value of "villain", the Engineer can do this to his sentry gun if he has a Wrangler, giving his sentry infinite range, a defensive shield and doubled fire rate. Considering sentries are already quite powerful, a well entrenched Engie with a Wrangler can become an enormous pain if the opposing team doesn't have good spies.
    Engineer: This thing ain't on autopilot, son!
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: Malladus pulls this on his minion Chancellor Cole near the end of the game, possessing his form and transforming it into a warthog-type creature.
  • .hack R1 Games: In .hack//QUARANTINE, the final boss of the Cursed Wave, Corbenik, is taken over by The World's AI, Morganna Mode Gone.
  • Divinity: Dragon Commander: Just as the half-dragon emperor has finally assassinated his insane siblings, his head engineer screws him over and takes over ENTIRE CONTINENTS. It's up to the player to hunt down and butcher the mind-controlled puppets of Corvus before his clone-mind selves conquer everything. Strangely, he's still on board the same airship as the emperor after attempting this usurp, and doesn't die until the airship is decommissioned.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm: At the end, after Arianna is beaten for the last time, she's finally ready to stand down, listen to reason, and maybe even redeem herself... but then the First Internet Code she empowered herself with takes full control of her systems and forces her to keep fighting until she dies. It's later revealed that Boxxyfan activated the code as part of his plan to hijack STORM.
  • In Horizon Zero Dawn, an ability to hack and overtake enemy robots was an explicit design feature of the FAS-ACA 3 Scarab Killer Robot. This meant that when the Hartz-Timor Swarm glitched out, the automated militaries of the world were powerless to stop it. In the game's present, the Scarab is known as the "Corruptor" and is used by the Eclipse to corrupt machines, turning them into more powerful, Ax-Crazy versions of themselves.
  • Rengoku: In the first game AI Deucalion takes over Minos during the second ascension for thinking too much.

    Web Original 
  • In Glitchtale, this is HATE's Modus Operandi, and it's one of the scariest examples on this list.

    Western Animation 
  • In Teen Titans (2003), Slade takes control of Terra via the suit she's wearing after her rematch with the Titans went poorly. It's effective at first, but then Terra manages to fight back. It doesn't end very well for him.
  • Hawk Moth from Miraculous Ladybug can do this to the Akumatized villains he creates if they start to get distracted from their objective of capturing Ladybug and Chat Noir's Miraculouses—he inflicts pain on Pixelator in one episode and starts to take control of Evillustrator's hand in another—though he generally only does so as a last resort; more typically he keeps them on track by manipulating their inner desires and negative emotions.
  • Samurai Jack Season 5; Aku finds out he has a biological daughter, Ashi. He also finds out that since she has a bit of his essence, he can control her and turn her into the perfect minion. He eagerly exploits this to get Ashi to fight Jack, framing it as Daddy's Little Villain defending him from the mean old samurai.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Horde Prime can do this to any of his clones as long as they’re connected to his Hive Mind, and later demonstrates he can do it to the people he’s chipped, and even use their powers, allowing him to menace the heroes wherever they go without ever leaving his throne room. His arrival is signified by his minions’ blank green eyes gaining glowing white pupils.
  • Steven Universe: White Diamond, supreme ruler of Homeworld, can do this to any Gem except Steven, whose defensive powers are too strong. She has possessed her personal Pearl this way for thousands of years. In the Series Fauxnale, she also does this to Yellow and Blue Diamond, Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet, leaving Steven and Connie on their own in the final confrontation.


Video Example(s):



When necessary, the Collector General - AKA "Harbinger" -takes over the bodies of his underlings to supervise the raids, buffing his chosen hosts with impressive biotic powers.

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