Mass Hypnosis

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Why use your amazing powers of hypnotism merely to Hypnotize the Princess or make your hero's friend psychotic? Just steal some broadcasting equipment, record your message, and hypnotize the masses to do your bidding, build your weapons, and wipe out the hero.

You could end up with a couple different possible results; the hypnotized people could become zombies, or could stay generally the same but still be compelled to follow you. Pretty soon, you'll have a cities worth of zombielike Brainwashed and Crazy minions that follow your every order and, best of all, the hero can't beat, since they're really just poor Innocent Bystanders.

Compare Do Not Adjust Your Set. Often used to get rid of The Evils of Free Will. See also Glamour, which may be paired with this trope. Anyone who is Weak-Willed will likely remain hypnotized even after the emitter's destruction.

Examples of Mass Hypnosis include:


Anime & Manga

  • This happens in Bleach as Sousuke Aizen uses his soul cutter's special ability -- Absolute Hypnosis -- to fool everyone to his massive Xanatos Gambit Xanatos Roulette.
  • This happens in the One Piece special 'Dance Carnival' when Jango hypnotizes everyone on Mirrorball Island(including himself) to dance until they drop.
  • In Sonic X, Eggman pulled a rather complicated Hypno Ploy which ends up being awesome through its sheer bizarreness. It went something like this:

Step 1: Create lightbulbs which broadcast subliminal messages for people to trust me.
Step 2: Reprogram my space station to block out the sun.
Step 3: Claim my space station is malfunctioning and sell lightbulbs as a sun substitute.

  • In Naruto, Tobi/Madara's plan is to do this for the sake of his Assimilation Plot, where he'll bounce an incredibly powerful illusion Off The Moon!
  • Used humorously (are we surprised?) in Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series. The first time young Marik leaves the tomb, he sees Yami Marik on the TV repeating "kill your family, kill your family." You'd think it was just Marik seeing that, but then a street vendor says "What's the matter, kid? Haven't you ever seen the 'Kill Your Family' show before?"

Comic Books

  • Marvel Comics had the Ringmaster, whose hat contains a spiral thing much like the page image. He brainwashes his audiences all at once. Of course, if you happen to be a blind superhero...
  • Gen 13 had a villain named Cull who brainwashed to... well, not much. While he did get Our Heroes to live lives remarkably different than was normal.


  • A similar premise is found in Baby Geniuses 2: Supergeniuses.
  • They Live!. The aliens use a TV station to broadcast a signal that keeps human beings from seeing the truth. They also use actual TV broadcasts to send specific messages.
  • This was used by the villain in the Josie and the Pussy Cats movie. He handed out cat-ear headbands that would submit subliminal messages during a televised concert of the band.
  • In The Wizard of Gore, this was what Montag planned to do by getting onto a late night TV show. And possibly make every person watching kill themselves.
  • Both The Shadow and Shiwan Khan can do so, having been trained by the same Far East master. Lamont uses it to hide himself from the others' eyes, thus becoming the titular hero. Shiwan Khan does one better and hides and entire building from prying eyes. Of course, nobody wonders why there is a seemingly empty lot in the middle of Downtown.


  • This was the titular bad guy's plan in The Demon Headmaster. He didn't actually manage it though (he got on TV and lots of people fell asleep, but he was interrupted by the meddling kids before he could give any commands).
  • Dean Koontz novel Night Chills. A Mad Scientist develops a drug that lowers subconscious resistance to subliminal messages. He uses TV broadcasts to beam hidden control instructions into the minds of viewers that cause them to mindlessly obey anyone who says the correct code phrase.
  • In The Thrawn Trilogy, Joruus C'baoth could do this using the Force, controlling swaths of the Imperial fleet to improve their efficiency and make their timing impossibly precise. At first he just used it at Grand Admiral Thrawn's orders, but eventually he decided to make a power grab and took control of every member of the Imperial fleet except for those handful in a ysalamiri bubble. Thrawn talked C'baoth down by reminding him that none of the people he was controlling knew what was planned, and C'baoth couldn't piece it together from a dozen or a hundred minds that had some inkling - it was all up to Thrawn - and how long could C'baoth hold the meld, anyway, before people started to collapse?
  • The Rebel Force series has, at one point, a base stocked by people who were brainwashed on an individual, laborious basis. Luke Skywalker, unwilling to kill brainwashed enemies, actually manages to undo it en masse with a desperate Jedi Mind Trick; the people have no idea who they are or what they're doing, but they don't belong to the Big Bad anymore.
  • The Tripods: The aliens (known as the Masters) take over humanity by hypnotizing them with television signals. Though while not universally effective, the Masters made sure the process was permanent by placing mind-controlled caps on the victims' heads - and the heads of everyone else, once the victims provide a sufficient foothold.
  • Molly Moon does it too many times to count, through various means (going up on a stage to hypnotize a crowd, appearing on TV to hypnotize the audience). Her motives are usually less sinister than most people who use this trope, though sometimes (especially in the first book, Molly Moon's Incredible Book Of Hypnotism) she does it for purely selfish reasons. Her enemies occasionally do it as well, though usually with more sinister motives.
  • In the Novelization of the first Gabriel Knight game, the voodoo villains do this to an entire police station and possibly an entire town.

Live Action TV

  • Babylon 5 had one of the scariest stand-offs ever using this. When Lyta Alexander (a telepath who has her powers increased by being Touched by Vorlons) is confronted by B5's new CO Lochley to move to smaller quarters or be evicted, she begins drumming her fingers on a tabletop while she talks to Lochley. Slowly, all conversation begins to die down and everyone in the place begins to drum there fingers in EXACTLY the ssame pattern as Lyta. Lochley's forces have an Oh Crap moment until IA President Sheridan shows us why we love him by putting a loaded gun next to Lyta's head. Lyta, basically good at heart but pushed beyond her limits, backs down and everyone wakes up.
  • In True Blood, Maryann uses her mind-controlling powers to take over the entire town of Bon Temps.
  • In Mr. Meaty, the titular company makes a hypnotism device that is designed to drive customers into a meat addicted frenzy. Unfortunately, after finishing off all the meat in the restaurant, the zombie customers decide that human meat is just as good.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures story "Secret Of The Stars" Martin Trueman hijacks a tv station and makes it broadcast on every channel so as to hypnotise the masses under one star sign at a time (though the victims don't actually need to be watching tv to be affected, that's just for relaying instructions).
  • Angel:
    • Jasmine spreads her delusional happiness throughout the world before the heroes manage to break her spell.
    • In the episode "Smile Time", a mass energy-draining event via a popular children's TV program is planned. Hilarity Ensues, Angel is turned into a puppet, and, ultimately, the world is saved again, hooray.
  • Didn't this happen in the Show Within a Show on The Famous Jett Jackson? One of the villains had some plushie toy, and the commercials for it had subliminal messages saying "Obey Me" in several different languages.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Master becomes Prime Minister by hypnotising people through their mobile phones.
    • The Sycorax hyponotize people by blood type in "The Christmas Invasion".
    • The Master also hypnotized a bunch of Concorde crew and passengers into believing they were at Heathrow Airport rather than the mid-Jurassic back in "Time-Flight", but he had help.
  • Tempus (nearly?) becomes President by hypnotising people through their telephones in an episode of Lois and Clark, which aired about ten or so years before the Doctor Who arc described above.
    • Interestingly, he is able to give orders immediately after the election, something a Real Life President-Elect can't do.
  • In Dollhouse, this is the true goal behind the creation of the imprinting technology. The Big Bad intends to use it to "imprint" the entire world.
  • An episode of Painkiller Jane has a neuro mind-control an entire small town to be a perfect place to live using a local TV show.
  • In a Sliders episode, the heroes finds themselves in a giant floating shopping center that uses subliminal advertising to get people to buy things until they need to get a loan (from the same corporation), essentially enslaving people.
  • The series finale of V-2009 has Anna do it to the entire world.

Video Games

  • Rocket Knight Adventures. According to the manual, the Big Bad controlled his armies through hypnosis. This could have led to some serious moral dissonance if the player killed them instead of merely making them run around in their underwear.
  • In Mastermind World Conqueror, The Mastermind can send Mooks to go on brainwashing missions. They take over a T.V. studio and send a hypnotic recording of the Mastermind to everyone in a given country. The recording shows a hypnotic swirly spiral pattern superimposed on Mastermind's glaring face, complete with spooky hypno-sounds. The result is making the nation more vulnerable to criminal actions.
  • Red Alert 2 has one mission each in the Soviet/Allied campaigns where you try to do this / stop it. In the expansion, Yuri attempts this to the entire world.
  • The whole plot of Sam and Max Freelance Police Season 1: the Big Bad hypnotizes the populace with such things as self-help video tapes, teddy bears, TV broadcast, and the internet.
  • This is your aim in the Hentai-Flash-Game Robozou.

Web Original

Western Animation


Ice Cream Truck: "You like ice cream. You like ice cream. You love it. You cannot resist ice cream. To resist is hopeless. Your existence is meaningless without ice cream."//

  • The Joker does something like this in Justice League, but it's less "mass hypnosis" and more "mass insanity." Almost works, too.
  • Every plan by Word Girl's villain "Mr Big" is some variety of this.
  • Happened to a mall in an episode of Ben 10.
  • Pinky and The Brain: The Brain has tried this more than once, including in the Christmas Episode.
  • In Garfield and Friends, "The Beast From Beyond", a Tyrannosaurus Rex gets his own TV show that hypnotizes people.
  • Futurama:
    • All glory to the Hypnotoad!
    • That's gone downhill since season three. The popular show now is The Mass Hypnosis Hour.
  • Kim Possible had a pretty creative one. Dr. D's Brainwashing Shampoo. No wonder he went on an American Idol Parody to promote something that was well... Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • An episode of Family Guy has Stewie try this when he get put on the show "Kids Say the Darndest Things". This eventually backfires and has Bill Cosby accidentally hypnotize Stewie instead.
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik did this in order to run for presidency.
  • Ember used this in Danny Phantom with her rock music.
  • An episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog has a character doing this in order to sell flan.
  • The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon had Krang use this to enslave the population of New York, but Bebop and Rocksteady screwed up the program so they behaved like monkeys, and later children. Krang's reaction to the error: "Only a complete idiot could mess this up! Complete... idiot... BEBOP!!! ROCKSTEADY!!!"
  • In The Spongebob Squarepants Movie Plankton finally takes over Bikini Bottom by giving away Chum Bucket Helmets that are actually mind control devices. There's a disturbingly intense scene when an army of zombies capture Squidward, the one citizen who doesn't wear them.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, a few of Dr. Doofenshmirtz's evil plans involve mass hypnosis, such as his plan to brainwash people into coming to his birthday party in "Raging Bully" and his infectious Ear Worm in "Phineas and Ferb's Musical Clip-tastic Countdown".
  • Quack Pack: In "Heavy Dental", an evil scientist working for the big bad accidently puts the bioremote mind control device in Huey's braces during his dentist appointment, giving him near-infinite mind control powers. He then uses them to become the emperor of the world, but becomes miserable after realizing he can't be happy if people are forced to love him.
  • The Horn of Hypnos from WITCH is capable of this ability, as long as the victims are directly in front of the horn to become "trance-marchers".
  • Justice League: In the two-part episode, "The Brave and The Bold", Gorilla Grodd controls the populace of Central City with his mind-control helmet so he launch a nuclear assault on Gorilla City.

Real Life

  • The UK Hypnotism Act 1952 prohibits displays of hypnosis on British television. Allegedly, this law exists over fear of this.