Properly Paranoid

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"Even paranoids have enemies."

—Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel

"Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean people aren't following me."

—Harlan from Eight Legged Freaks

John is driving people insane with his security precautions. He inspects every room, he nails every door, and the only people he lets near his family are people who've gone through a background check so extensive not even Mother Teresa could pass clean. Even then it's at a distance. John is called paranoid, insane, a control freak, and a host of other names. There's just one little problem.

John is right.

The Chessmaster or the Magnificent Bastard is out to get John and his family and friends—and they are using all sorts of devious devices and schemes that would succeed... if the person enacting the security lock down wasn't doing his job. Sadly, only John, the opposing forces and the audience know that the full body frisking of the boyfriend is mandatory for survival. Although it does leave the annoyed characters vulnerable to Too Dumb to Live moments.

If this doesn't make John look crazy or paranoid, it might overlap with Crazy Prepared.

Also, if John is ever wrong, if he's paranoid enough, he will soon be right.

See also Cassandra Truth and You Have to Believe Me. Sometimes overlaps uncomfortably with Omniscient Morality License when this character is the hero. Contrast with The Complainer Is Always Wrong.

Examples of Properly Paranoid include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Death Note. L was spot on in his deductions and all of his seemingly paranoid schemes were completely justified.
  • Amuro Ray, the protagonist of Mobile Suit Gundam, is ridiculously paranoid about everything. Bright's going to take the Gundam away, that new crewmember is a Zeon spy, the Neo Zeon fleet is a bunch of decoy balloons, etc. He's also never wrong since he's actually a Newtype, which means he has more or less psychic-level empathic abilities.
  • Every member of Section 9 (except maybe Togusa) in Ghost in the Shell. Their job is to fight terrorism, organized crime, and corrupt politicians in a failed state. As the Major is also a chessmaster, she's always prepared for everything.
  • Most of the Exorcists in D.Gray-man are like this. Since Akuma look completely normal until they fill you full of bullets that dissolve you into a cloud of toxic dust, it's kind of understandable that they're a little on edge.
  • Subverted in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. If it seems like people are trying to kill you, it's usually hallucinations. Regardless, becoming like this will only make things worse.
  • In Durarara!!, Shizuo maintains that 99% of all the weird crap that goes down in Ikebukuro is completely and utterly Izaya's fault, whether it be a gang wars or hordes of knife-wielding zombies. Made-up-on-the-spot statistics aside, he's more or less right.
  • The world of Pokémon may be okay with letting kids run around unsupervised, but, in Pokémon Special, Sir Berlitz hired a pair of bodyguards to accompany his daughter on her journey to Mt. Coronet. Good thing too, as she becomes the target of kidnapping and winds up in the battle against Team Galactic. Too bad due to a mishap she got a pair of aspiring comedians instead.
  • In Bleach, Toshiro Hitsugaya is wondering if Aizen's death was forged and thinks that there's a traitor among them. Look who was the villain for six years.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Watchmen: Rorschach, though an Axe Crazy nut, plays a big part in uncovering the larger conspiracy that is unfolding around him. But in the end, he's wrong about why the Comedian was killed.
  • Runaways. The Pride: the only thing they do more than work behind each others' backs to take the others' chances at Immortality is prepare counter measures for the others planning to take their spots. At least until their children find out.
  • Batman tends to get called paranoid by people he works with when he whips out his fifth spare Batmobile or his tenth secret identity or even a whole spare split personality in case of brainwashing. The problem is, they wouldn't have known he had them if he didn't need them right now. So any level of paranoid preparation that Batman appears to have is entirely justified. When you have no superpowers and are regularly involved in JLA-level superfights, not to mention having several dozen of the most horrifying psychopaths in existence all viewing you as their personal embodiment of Nemesis, there is no such thing as "too paranoid".
    • Batman constantly injects himself various poisons and toxins. Of course, since a lot of his major villains use poisons and toxins (including Sacrecrow, Poison Ivy, and the Joker), building up resistance to them makes complete sense.
    • The storyline Tower of Babel has Batman's contingency plans for taking out other members of the Justice League stolen and used against them. The rest of the League is outraged, but Batman points out that they're the most powerful people in the known universe and it's entirely reasonable to have plans to fight them in case they're mind controlled or go rogue. Considering "the Justice League gets mind controlled or goes rogue" are some of the favorite go-tos for storylines and alternate continuity stories, the only real question is why Batman didn't use the plans before now. Hell, his paranoia is theoretically even further justified by the fact that the Justice League proceeds to kick him out, because they "can't trust him" due to his taking entirely well-reasoned precautions.
  • For Better or For Worse: the creator attempted to make Straw Feminist Therese seem like a bad person because she was suspicious of her husband's friendship with his ex from high school. Since said husband mooned over said ex constantly and they ended up getting married, Therese ended up falling into this trope.
  • Saxon Kenchu in Candorville describes himself as this, but within two panels it's partially subverted, as he admits he's even more paranoid than a Dhampyr outcast needs to be. Lemont thinks he's Axe Crazy and delusional, which would be a full subversion--but he's completely sane, and the story he's telling is true.
  • According to Transmetropolitan‍'‍s Spider Jerusalem, a paranoid is just someone in possession of all the facts. And in a world where bacteria-sized surveillance cameras fill the air and an Ax Crazy President wants him dead, Spider's right.
  • In the Archie comic issue Golf Wars, Dilton gets suspicious of their twin competitors in a mini-golf tournament with cheating after they managed to get a hole-in-one with a windmill hole (which he cited was an extremely difficult hole to get through, especially on the first try). The others think that they are simply good golfers. However, he was actually spot on: The twins used remote controlled golf-balls with the controls disguised as watches, and decided to test out his theory to see whether it was applicable by developing a makeshift radio signal blocker, which it was applicable. However, afterwards, he learned that not only were they using remote controlled golf balls, but they in fact also paid off one of the judges to claim that they were getting hole-in-ones, although he was unable to warn his friends because Moose accidentally knocked him out when preparing to putt the ball. Eventually his friends (more specifically Jughead) caught on and realized that their "hole-in-ones" were very suspicious at the final hole after they retained their balls despite their supposed "hole-in-ones" (as the final hole does not allow the ball to come back), with Dilton regaining consciousness just in time to implicate them and the judge in question for cheating, resulting in their being permanently banned from the sport.
  • Diabolik has Ginko, who, after the first stories taught him that Diabolik can do almost anything, started taking precautions worth of Batman. Some people calls him paranoid, only to learn that those precautions are barely enough.
    • Most evident in Il Tesoro di Diabolik. After Diabolik had disappeared he continued taking his anti-Diabolik precautions, as he suspected the thief was lying low for some reason. Even his most devoted followers started calling him paranoid... While Diabolik continued faking being dead awaiting for the man who had stole his favourite treasure to feel safe enough and start selling it, allowing Diabolik to find him. Ginko's grin when a man killed by a knife and the remains of two Diabolik-made masks is a silent 'told you so'...


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • Loyalty Features Ninja!Spies. Everyone knows Sakura is a spy. She wonders why they don't kill her.


Films[edit | hide]

  • In the HBO movie Safe House, Patrick Stewart plays an old man who is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. He tells his caretaker that he used to be a CIA DIA agent and people are out to get him because He Knows Too Much, so he insists on elaborate security precautions bordering on the ridiculous. Until the end, it's unclear whether his paranoia is justified or if he's just a crazy old man. As it turns out, they really are out to get him.
  • The Mel Gibson movie Conspiracy Theory features an obsessive-compulsive paranoid conspiracy theorist... who turns out to be mostly right, though he's more remembering than speculating.
  • Bril in Enemy of the State. Understanding since he used to be a spook himself.
  • Pick a character from Burn After Reading. Any character. Although they're frequently paranoid about the wrong things.
  • The Thing, by John Carpenter, features a shape-shifting alien capable of infecting and duplicating pretty much every living thing. The characters are right about not trusting each other, and try to come up with a way of figuring out who is the thing and who isn't, but generally are unable to do so until Nightmare Fuel time sets in.
  • Freeze Frame, a British film, where the main character films everything he does, 24/7/52, after been accused (but acquitted) of multiple murders. It finally allows him to prove himself innocent in the end. It stars Lee Evans (a comedian) in a serious role.
  • Bryan Mills from Taken looks like a stock Overprotective Dad until his warnings turn out to be too true.
  • In Bowfinger, a movie star prone to paranoia is driven to even wilder hysteria when a small film crew shoots a dramatic movie starring him without his knowledge. His Scientology-like counselors fruitlessly try to calm him down until they discover the film crew and note "Well, I guess it's true; it's not paranoia when someone's really after you."
  • In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Cameron doesn't want to leave his dad's prized Ferrari at a garage in the care of a sleazy-looking attendant. He does so only after some persuasion by Ferris. It turns out his worries were absolutely justified as the attendant and his friend take the car on a joyride only seconds after they leave, adding dozens of miles onto the car.
  • The Game. The movie starring Michael Douglas, a billionaire who's grown bored and weary of his life... so he hires a company to help him play a little game, after being referred there by his brother.
  • The President's Analyst, soon after taking the title job, worries for his own mental health when he thinks he's seeing Men In Black following him everywhere, and has a nightmare that his girlfriend is a spy. Turns out he's right on both counts.
  • Strange Days reveals that the extreme misfortunes and frequent assassination attempts following the main characters around stems from a death squad operating within the LAPD designed to target undesirables, including a prominent rapper-slash-social activist who was recently assassinated. When one character dismisses this as paranoia, a Properly Paranoid one rebuts that "it's not a question of whether you're paranoid, it's whether you're paranoid enough." The other characters spend the rest of the movie in a state of deep paranoia about this. Except it's a complete lie; the rapper was shot by two trigger-happy cops who merely screwed up a traffic stop, most of the other events of the movie are the result of various other plans and gambits crashing into each other chaotically, and the Properly Paranoid character was in on it the whole time and made up the whole 'death squad' thing on the spot to distract from his own wrongdoings.
  • In Star Wars, the Jedi council is reluctant to take Anakin Skywalker on as an apprentice. They probably should have followed that instinct.
    • On the other hand, it was also in a way their shutting him out that caused him to turn to the dark side.
    • Also, refusing him training probably would have resulted in Sidious training him directly as a pure Sith. He wouldn't have been in such a position to screw the Jedi over later on, true, but he also wouldn't have been taught the basic decency and love that would motivate him to eventually screw the Emperor over later on either.
  • Marvin in the film adaption of RED is paranoid, but always right about it.
  • Bob Lee Swagger in Shooter. Religiously, obsessively protective of his guns, which turns out to be what clears his name when he is framed for an assassination. Taking the firing pins out of his rifles when he puts them away would be just as effective at preventing accidents or unauthorized use, but Bob goes the extra mile and replaces them with custom-modified pins that will not fire. The only reason for this would be to fool someone who was deliberately trying to frame him, and who would know to check the firing pin. Which means he planned for that exact scenario.
  • In the Halloween series, others viewed a young Michael Myers as a disturbed boy. Loomis viewed him as a monster just waiting to strike. Guess who was right.
  • In Galaxy Quest, when the crew of the NSEA Protector goes on a planet to search for beryllium spheres to repair the ship, one of the crew members, Guy, panics when he sees the planet's residents. Naturally, the crew dismisses this as paranoia because he once played a Red Shirt on the show who died in an episode before the first commercial. In a hilarious turn of events, Guy is proven right.

Guy: Sure, they're cute now, but in a second they're gonna get mean, and they're gonna get ugly somehow, and there's gonna be a million more of them.

  • Sarah Connor from the Terminator films. She even gets institutionalized for this, but it turns out there really are killer robots from the future after her.
  • In the third Transformers movie, Jerry Wang is convinced that everything is a Decepticon. He is later killed by his computer, which then turns into the copy machine, and poses variously as a TV, stereo, and pink Bumblebee.
  • Tremors: Though not a straight example, having underground shelter with Wall of Weapons and ammo, supplies and power generator in case of a World War III served Burt Gummer well when his town got attacked by large subterranean carnivore reptiles.

Earl: Guess we don't get to make fun of Burt's lifestyle anymore.

  • I, Robot: Del Spooner (played by Will Smith) doesn't trust robots, believing that they are not as safe as the Three Laws of Robotics are supposed to make them. He is therefore the only person in Chicago who doesn't get one of the new NS-5 model robots. When the NS-5s stage a Zeroth Law Rebellion, Spooner is naturally the only human capable of effectively fighting back.
  • The Conversation [context?]
  • Played with in The Departed. Mob boss Frank Costello and the police captain that is investigating him both assume that the other has planted a mole in their organization. They're both right. However, both miss out on catching the moles, and neither realize that each side has more than one mole at work.
  • Watership Down has Fiver, a rabbit who is fidgety and constantly spouting prophecies of doom for the rabbits. In the beginning of the film, Fiver claims that the warren is in danger and all of the rabbits have to leave before it's too late. Many of the rabbits don't believe him, and while some leave to find another warren, the rest get killed by humans who are developing the land.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Robert Neville near the end of I Am Legend, when meeting a human for the first time in a few years.
  • Everyone in Duumvirate has to balance this and being able to get things done. Too little paranoia, and you take a railgun through the chest. Too much, and your organization cannot get any new members because they might be spies.
  • Harry Potter: Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody. One of his eyes is a magical device that operates independently from his other eye and can spin in the socket, and it can see through anything (including walls, invisibility cloaks, and his own skull, so he can see what's going on behind him). Death Eaters STILL manage to get the jump on him.
    • Harry himself towards the end of the series.
  • F'lar from the Dragonriders of Pern series. In the first book, he was the only one who believed in a 400-year-old threat that was soon approaching, and his many efforts to prepare for it were regarded as superstition and paranoia by literally the rest of the world. And then it happened, and surprise, the world wasn't ready for it.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden approaches this, with good reason. In one book we learn it's contagious; his friend and sometime medic Waldo Butters puts on a bulletproof vest and grabs garlic and a cross as soon as he hears that Harry needs help.

Dresden: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face.

  • Many of Thomas Pynchon's characters fall under this trope.
    • Every single character in Gravity's Rainbow to some extent, but subverted in Slothrop, whose knowledge of many conspiracy theories leads him to create imaginary ones in his head, suspect everyone he knows and eventually lose his mind.
  • Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp lives like this. It annoys his wife quite a bit. But that's not a problem anymore, since he slipped up with this just once... but that was enough to kill her.
  • From Good Omens: "Hastur was paranoid, which was simply a sensible and well-adjusted reaction to living in Hell, where they really were all out to get you."
  • Bean of the Ender's Game series does this in Shadow Puppets and Shadow of the Hedgemon, to the point where it almost becomes funny. He writes cryptic, hidden-meaning-filled messages to allies, encodes them, then encrypts and password-protects the emails themselves. And then changes email address every few days, between migrations from city to city.
    • And Petra still ends up getting abducted.
  • In Dragonbane by Barbara Hambly:

"Why?" Gareth bleated. "What's wrong? For three days you've been running away from your own shadows..."
"That's right," John agreed, and there was a dangerous edge to his quiet voice. "You ever think what might happen to you if your own shadow caught you? Now ride -- and ride silent."

  • Errtu from R. A. Salvatore's novels is also viciously paranoid, believing that anything bad happening to him is evidence of some sort of conspiracy against him. Given that he's a balor living in the Abyss, he's not too far off the mark.
  • Taken to an almost comical extreme in This Alien Shore by C.S. Friedman. The only people who're paranoid enough to pilot a spaceship into hyperspace and come back alive are functionally insane, and in our own dimension they require massive amounts of medication to do more than lie on the floor whimpering.
  • The paper-thin James Bond parody Fission Chips (Agent 000005) from The Illuminatus! Triogy is seen as a bit of a Bunny Ears Lawyer by his superiors, with his obsession with BUGGER (Blowhard's Unreformed Gangsters, Goons, and Espionage Renegades) and gentleman spy antics. However, without knowing it, he's actually closer on The Illuminati's trail than anyone, including he himself knows.
  • Another Terry Pratchett example is in the Wizards from the Discworld series. Completely justified, as promotion amongst wizards means killing your predecessor. It's said (and paraphrased here) that when a wizard is sick of looking for deadly scorpions amongst his bed sheets, he's sick of life.
    • A practise halted with the rise of Ridcully to Arch-chancellor: he's proven to be impossible to kill and as a result the whole smoking-boots promotion scheme has ground to a halt leaving the wizards more interested in a good meal than a good fireballing.
    • Also lampshaded in Reaper Man with the position of Bursar, where the only person likely to want to kill him off was someone else who derived a quiet pleasure from columns of numbers, all neatly arranged. And people like that don't (usually) go for murder.
    • Commander Vimes's paranoia increases with the price of the Assassins' Guild contracts on him... his paranoia is quite practical, is minimally psychological, and he often has a chat with failed would-be assassins as they work out where they went wrong and try to wriggle out of his near-fatal deathtraps. It doesn't help that he's a lifelong cop in the most cynicism-inducing city on the Disc. Not to mention he enjoys it when someone tries to kill him...
      • Well, yes. Assassination attempts are a sign that he's pissed off people in power, which he always sees as a desirable state of affairs. Some trees need to be shaken.
      • Nowadays he has the distinction of being one of two people the Assassins no longer accept contracts on, though more due to his sheer value in keeping Ankh-Morpork in one piece, rather than his seeming invulnerability.
      • Though (by The Fifth Elephant) he'd already got to the point where, when a contract was brought, no-one in the guild volunteered for the assignment.
        • And so now he just has to worry about teachers sending arrogant students on missions to get his photo without being caught just so said students will be taken down a peg or two.
    • Then there's Rincewind, who reacts to good luck with terror, since he knows it just means the universe is saving up to be really nasty to him later on. He's a favorite of Lady LuckThe Lady; there's a reason the inhabitants of the Disc mostly hope the gods will leave them well enough alone.
    • Susan Sto-Helit fixes "monster under my bed" fears in children not by assuring there are no monsters, but by giving them a big stick to clobber monsters in case they attack. "They didn't need to believe in monsters... but they could be made to believe in the poker."
  • Kanayama no Hachirozaemon from the late 16th/early 17th century Japanese short story Akimichi. Letting down his guard with Kitamuki is what gets him killed in the end.
  • Lawrence Watt-Evans wrote a fantasy short-short story titled "Paranoid Fantasy #1", whose protagonist proves to be an example of this trope.
  • In the first book of the Safehold series Zhaspar Clyntahn, Grand Inquisitor of the corrupt Church of God Awaiting (which should tell you all you need to know), convinces his fellow church leaders to launch an attack on the kingdom of Charis out of a paranoid delusion that the innovative nation is out to subvert the church's will. Though, as Charisian Archbishop Maikel Staynair lampshades, Clyntahn is actually correct about this, as this is the goal of the Brotherhood of St. Zherneau's.
    • The Brotherhood of St. Zhernaeu's themselves can also be considered this. Given that they're the only known holders of the true origins of Safehold's people in a world that's been raised to view high technology as either evil or the powers of the Archangels, the Brethren are frequently remarked to be "insanely" cautious about who they'll authorize to be let into the Inner Circle. But as much as the protagonists gripe about it, not once is their caution said to be unwarranted.
  • In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian starts out improperly paranoid about his portrait. But he becomes very Properly Paranoid indeed the moment that James Vane shows up.
  • In the Weatherlight Saga of the Magic: The Gathering novels, the powerful planeswalker Urza plots for a millennium to defend against invasion by the Phyrexians. He's definitely crazy, and everyone assumes he's just being paranoid. But of course, when the Phyrexians show up by the million and start killing people, he's the one who leads the (barely) successful salvation of the world.
  • In The Millennium Trilogy, Lisbeth is bitter to extreme; she claims there was a government conspiracy which suppressed the events of her father accident and discredited her to keep people from taking her seriously. As a result she refuses to co-operate with anyone in the medical profession. Many think she was over reacting or actually is crazy, but she's right.
  • Jack Parlabane, from a number of books by Christopher Brookmyre. As he points out to his fiancée shortly after an attempt on their lives in Country of the Blind when she reproaches him for hiding a gun in the house: "Well, funnily enough, I had this outrageous idea that it might come in useful if someone happened to break in and attempt to murder us."
  • In the Vernor Vinge novel A Deepness in the Sky, Sherkaner Underhill thinks that aliens from outer space are influencing world politics by altering information as it flows through the internet. To combat this, he sets up an intelligence division that consists only of his immediate family and who only communicate to each other in person, and pretends to go senile so nobody takes him seriously.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide points out that being Crazy Prepared to the point of paranoia isn't a bad thing in the midst of an actual Zombie Apocalypse. To quote the book, "It's one thing to believe that everyone is out to get you. Quite another when it's actually true."
  • Given the love of assassination and other intrigue in Dune, it's no surprise that one of the first words of Gurney is a reminder to never sit with your back to a door.
  • A Peep officer in Honor Harrington: Echoes of Honor deduces that the prison planet of Hades has suffered a prisoner revolt and been taken over by its prisoners. The Hades facility is one of the most secure prison facilities in existence, it is located on a planet whose local flora and fauna can not be eaten by humans, whose animals are large and vicious and do not know that they can not digest humans, the management and control facilities are separated from the prisoners by an ocean, there is no technology above muscle-power available to the prisoners, and the prison officers have access to orbital weaponry equal to a squadron of superdreadnoughts. He deduces this revolt because the latest courier dispatch does not include a chess move from Warden Tresca. He is absolutely correct.
    • Bodyguards, most notably Honor's armsmen, are always paranoid and frequently right. In Field of Dishonor, Honor's head armsman is uncomfortable when she changes her plans and decides to go to a restaurant, though he doesn't really think anything will happen. Halfway through the meal, half a dozen thugs come through the door and start shooting.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events is all about this, seeing as Olaf is the Bauderlaires' Implacable Man. As Klaus put it regularly for the adults: "We see him everywhere, because he IS everywhere."
    • In addition, one of their foster relatives was an extremely paranoid woman who avoids using various things because of a very grave, even if minute chance, safety hazard that would occur to them in specific scenarios. Let's just say that after a storm that virtually destroyed her house shortly after she was kidnapped by Olaf, her paranoia about these things is perfectly justified... at least in the film version.
  • The novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is the source of this famous quote:

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you."

  • In When the Tripods Came the party finds that Switzerland is becoming this because of the Tripods.
  • Most of the Animorphs books mention this to some degree, but the first book from Marco's perspective addresses it the best.
  • In The Mortal Instruments Alec, after finding out a bit of Magnus's romantic past, he is shocked by how many people and how many kinds of people his boyfriend has been with. Needless to say, he becomes a bit paranoid about it. Later that day, they are at a party with a group of their friends and Magnus mentions to a werewolf boy they had just met that he once knew the werewolf that founded the organization the boy was part of. Alec, who had been quietly sulking until this point coldly asks, "Did you sleep with him, too?" This comes off sounded like an overreaction and paranoia about someone casually mentioned as an icebreaker. That is, until you read the second prequel book, Clockwork Prince, where it is revealed that Magnus was indeed involved with him at some point. The author stated that she did this to show that Alec had a right to be paranoid about Magnus's romantic past.
  • In Death: Alice Lingstrom from Ceremony In Death turns out to be a combination of this and just paranoid. She had been gang-raped by a Satanic cult, as well as witnessing the leaders murder a young boy in a sacrifice. Even though she left, the cult continues to harass her. She thinks one of the leaders is a shapeshifter, which is certainly not true. The cult also sent her threatening phone messages, which would certainly be cause for concern. In the end, she panics when she sees one of their illusions and runs out onto the road...right in front of an incoming car. What a brutal Kill the Cutie moment!
  • The professor who narrates the chapter "In a network of lines that enlace" in If on a winter's night a traveler. Notably, even he thinks he's being way too paranoid, until the very end.
  • Sherlock Holmes was always paranioid about any cuts he might get, something very strange for a cocaine addict. Turns out, there is a reason to that as some crminals indeed try to infect him with deadly illness
  • In Circle of Magic, Dedicate Crane is punishing his assistants for even small mishaps they allow. This becomes justified once such mishap infects Rosethorn with a deadly disease


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Mr. Bennet in Heroes.
  • Martha Logan from Season 5 of 24, whose conspiracy theories are unbelieved by everyone, even the audience initially. It's not a coincidence that she shares her first name with the below mentioned Martha Mitchell...
    • Omar Hassan in season 8 gets steadily more paranoid after his own brother betrays him. This results in him arresting people on the barest of suspicions, up to and including his own head of security. The head of security turns out to, in fact, be in league with the terrorists.
  • In the episode Twice Shy, from the fourth season of Farscape, Aeryn and John are taking a break for a number of reasons. To keep his mind off her, Crichton is going through a lot of a drug Noranti made for him which deadens his emotions towards her for short periods of time. Even when she wants to get back together, though, he resists. When she pleads with him to tell her why, he says he's moved on... and in the face of her almost begging for more of an explanation, has Pilot check the comm, which will result in them going offline for about thirty seconds. He uses the time to explain to her, suddenly going from Botox-face to deeply passionate, that with Scorpius aboard he can't let on how much he loves her, because they're being spied on through the comm and she and her baby are the one thing that will break him. She thinks the drug is making him paranoid... and then the comm come back online and they hear Scorpius asking Pilot about the comm outage.
  • Happens from time to time in episodes of The Twilight Zone. In one episode, an old woman has shut herself into a derelict house and refuses to let anyone in out of the fear that Death is trying to get her. In another episode, an old man makes a valiant effort to keep a grandfather clock working in the belief that if it stops, he will die. Both stories wind up being subverted: Death turns out to be a nice guy just who wants to help the old lady, and the old man decides that his belief about the clock is just a silly superstition that he can discard at will.
  • Played for laughs in Father Ted where Ted is convinced that his rival Dick Byrne is spying on his plans for the 'all-priests over 70 football' tournament. After tearing up every inch of the Parochial house to the dismay of Dougal and Mrs Doyle and not finding any bugs, they suddenly notice an ice cream van outside.
  • Practically the entire cast of The X-Files displays this behavior at some point. Yes, the Conspiracy really is out to get them. So much so that everyone largely stops caring after a while.
    • What Suzanne Modeski tells the Lone Gunmen could be the series' motto: "No matter how paranoid you are, you're not paranoid enough." (I think that takes paranoia to the point of kitsch.)
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Rose", Clive has spent years collecting information about the Doctor and building theories about him, most of which are right. Rose ignores his warning that death is the Doctor's constant companion. Within hours, aliens have attacked Rose and are killing people all over London, including Clive.
  • A second season episode of Forever Knight starts out with a teen delivering groceries to the world champion of paranoia: barricaded in a house with the garden constantly lighted up like madison square garden, wild-eyed, unshaven, sweaty, clinging to his shotgun, very highly strung but, after the initial shock, almost a nice guy. When Mr. Paranoia steps out of doors in a fit of anger just once, he isn't outside for a minute before something nasty gets him.
  • On The Invisible Man Bobby Hobbes' paranoid delusions sometimes (not always) turn out to be right. To quote his partner Darien,

Darien: When you spend time around a guy who keeps yelling "The Sky is Falling", it's a real shocker when a piece of it actually hits you on the head.

  • In season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy goes to college and gets a really annoying roommate: Kathy. Kathy listens to Celine Dion, insists on keeping track of whose milk is whose, and worst of all, she irons her jeans. Obviously, Buffy concludes that she's an evil demon from another dimension who's trying to eat Buffy's soul, and decides to slay her. Cue all her friends running around trying to stop an obviously possessed Buffy from killing an ordinary (if annoying) girl. Do I need to say it? Buffy is 100% right.
    • But Kathy's evil spell was making Buffy act really wiggy and stressed, drastically undermining any attempts she made to rationally explain things. It wasn't until Giles noticed that Kathy's toenails did, in fact, keep growing after being cut (just as Buffy had been ranting about) that the gang believed her.
    • An earlier example from the show would also be the episode where her mom dated Ted (played by John Ritter). Giles and her friends all like the charming, handsome, cookie baking suitor. But Buffy doesn't trust him and won't even try his delicious cookies. Eventually she even gets into a scuffle with him and knocks him down some steps when he grabs her, apparently killing him. Much guilt and blame are thrown about, until Ted shows up again. Turns out he's a psychotic robot who really does want to take her mom away (and who drugs those cookies to make everyone compliant and happy).
  • One episode of NCIS brutally subverts this trope. It features an old war buddy of Special Agent Gibbs who seems paranoid that a secret Government Conspiracy group is out to kill him because he stumbled across their deep, dark secret. It starts to appear that he is telling the truth when Gibbs discovers that another war buddy is working with the first one. This war buddy died in Gibbs' arms, but now is supposedly alive and is confirming the first guy's suspicions. The brutal subversion comes at the end, when it is revealed that the dead-then-not-dead war buddy was a figure of the first one's imagination, who is facing schizophrenia due to PTSD, and there really is no government group out to kill him: he concocted the idea as a coping mechanism to take his mind off the death of his friend.
    • He's not entirely wrong. He had uncovered some corruption, but the conspiracy was nowhere near as big as his paranoia made it seem.
    • Fornell also mentions "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you.
    • A better example would be Gibbs' Rule Forty:

Gibbs: Rule forty.
Abby: "If you think someone is out to get you, they are."

  • Tubbs and Edward from The League of Gentlemen are horrified and disgusted at the thought of "strangers" from outside the decent town and local shop. Their fears seem completely out of scale in the first series, but when you consider the likes of Pop, Herr Lipp and worst of all Papa Lazarou...
  • In Malcolm in the Middle Reese once claimed that one of his teachers was out to get him and was deliberately failing his tests. Lois told him to stop making excuses and work harder. She has Malcolm tutor Reese and eventually Reese composes a passable paper that is at least 'C' level, only for that to get an 'F' as well. Ultimately, since it seems that there is no way Reese can get a passing grade on his own, they decide to simply cheat and have Malcolm take one of his tests for him. That test gets an 'F," and this clues everybody in to the fact Reese's teacher really is out to get him.
    • Malcolm eventually exposes the teacher right in front of Hal and Lois, by tricking the teacher into revealing he didn't even bother to read the answers. Of course, Malcolm does accidentally reveal that he took the test, but Lois becomes more livid that the teacher gave something Malcolm wrote "AN F?!!!"
  • Agent Ballard in Dollhouse, although it turns out that he isn't quite paranoid enough.
  • In the season 4 finale of Lost, off-island Sayid is this trope.

Sayid: I just killed a man who's been perched outside this facility for the last week. I'm finding paranoia keeps me alive.

    • See? [dead link] If he wasn't so paranoid, he and Hurley would both be dead.Well- deader, you know what I mean.
  • Mentioned in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine by Weyoun 6, a defecting high ranking member of the Dominion.

Odo: "Aren't you being a little paranoid?"
Weyoun 6: "Of course I'm paranoid, everyone's trying to kill me!"

    • The show also has Enabran Tain, head of the intelligence agency, the Obsidian Order. When you're the first leader of the organization to live until retirement, then you weren't paranoid, just prepared. Pretty much everyone from that group would fit this trope.
      • Unfortunately, he turned out to not be paranoid enough.
    • When your enemies are a race of shapeshifters, no amount of paranoia is too much.
  • On Necessary Roughness a former mascot of the Hawks does not want to leave his house because he believes that people on the street will attack him due to the belief that he is the 'curse' that kept the Hawks from the playoffs for five years. When his therapist takes him out for a stroll downtown, he is quickly recognized and verbally assaulted by some fans.
  • In the second episode of the fifth season of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon becomes freaked out by the fact that Penny picked up a lazyboy from the garbage, and is constantly trying to convince her to remove it, only for her to ignore his statements and even drive him away. The ending of the episode has Penny and Amy fleeing from the apartment after discovering that there is something living in the chair, and presumably disposing of the chair... only for Howard and Raj to pick it back up to the apartment, meaning that Sheldon had a very good reason to be paranoid about it being a health hazard.
    • Even before the reveal, he was properly paranoid to distrust a chair that was randomly lying on the street.
  • Stringer Bell, drug lord extraordinaire, on The Wire. By Season 3, he has his men using phones only to set up face to face meetings. These phones are disposable cell phones, which are bought individually from random convenience stores up to 200 miles away from Baltimore and which are thrown away and replaced every two weeks. Stringer himself does not use these phones. He has a different phone, on a different network, which only his Number Two has the number for (and which he never calls him on from one of the other disposables). The detectives trying to bust him just have to sit back and marvel at it all.
  • In Yes, Minister, Hacker is often convinced that the actions of anyone involved in government are part of some political plot. Probably because they almost always are.

"You'd be paranoid too if everyone was plotting against you."

  • In Two and a Half Men, Charlie gets sick, and the local stalker Rose ends up taking care of him. After a while, he becomes suspicious that Rose may have convinced him he was sick somehow and was drugging him as some sort of plot to get him together with her. He also kept a cold pill upstairs without consuming it as proof, but it ended up eaten by Bertha (resulting in her being knocked out). Charlie was eventually proven to be right, although it was actually in such a way even he did not anticipate: Apparently the method Rose used to orchestrate his sickness was arranging a friend of hers to work while she had the cold and seduce Charlie so he'd get infected.
  • In Smallville, Lex's right-hand man Regan Matthews is suspicious of whether Tess is actually loyal to Lex. His suspicions are proven accurate when she turns on Lex as soon as she finds out that he's betrayed her. He tries to kill Tess for this. Unfortunately for him, she's better than he thought she was.
  • Michael Westen on Burn Notice is ex-CIA, so he's trained to be slightly paranoid, and is vindicated repeatedly. Discussed at least once: Mike quotes Golda Meir's famous line that "even paranoids have enemies" (referring to the Villain of the Week). Sam's response?

Sam: You're living proof of that.

  • The hunters in Supernatural appear to be very paranoid as they take precautions and even put holy water in drinks in case the person they are talking to isn't who they think they are. However, this has proven to be effective in cases when people are actually possessed or doppelgangers.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • In the series 2 finale of Undone, the protagonist takes a pill to make her paranoid enough to work out the plots and counter-plots surrounding her half-sister's wedding, just in time to stop them.


Sequential Art[edit | hide]

  • Gahan Wilson did a one-panel comic for Playboy which shows a psychiatrist asking his patient "When did you first become aware of this imagined 'plot to get you,' Mr. Potter?" ...while crooking his finger at two grinning black-cloaked assassins who are creeping in through the office door.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Anyone who is not this in Warhammer 40,000 should be, because the entire universe really is out to get you.
    • Commissar Ciaphas Cain,[1] of his self-titled series, is a stunning endorsement of this trope, as the only reason he hasn't been killed hundreds of times is that he always suspects something more sinister lurking under the surface, and he is always correct. In his very first appearance even, the short story Fight or Flight, he looks at a cult of Genestealers several star systems away and loss of communications with a nearby fleet and immediately thinks "incoming Tyranids", his preparations preventing the planet being eaten long enough for the fleet to arrive and kill all the bugs.
      • It should be noted that Dark Heresy, the roleplaying game of Warhammer 40000, is a games system where Paranoia is a talent; it grants bonuses and you have to pay XP to acquire it. To contrast, in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay it's a crippling mental disorder.
  • As might be guessed by the name, the same is true of Paranoia.
  • Chaotic Evil creatures in Dungeons & Dragons—as well as anyone living close to them—usually are leery to the extreme.
    • The Drow are justifiably paranoid about their enemies and as such tend to get killed by their friends. Conversely, if one spends too many time looking over the shoulder at one's allies... according to Drizzt Do'urden, "Those who watch their backs meet death from the front." Even technically Chaotic Good followers of Eilistraee tend to be very jumpy, as most of them are ex-Lolthites and have a very good idea of what to expect all too well. And of course almost anyone else meeting a non-disguised Drow outside of their territory (whether above ground or below) usually either attacks on sight without asking for their purpose or something, or runs away - which usually is a Properly Paranoid reaction too.
  • A way of life (or perhaps the only way of life) for the Mages of Mage: The Awakening. Personal information can be used as an ingredient for more powerful spellcasting, so Mages take great pains to make sure that they leave no hairs anywhere, that their old clothing is either properly disposed of or burned, and that no one ever, under any circumstances, discovers their real name.
  • In the Star Wars d20 Living Force module Padawannabes, the Duros conspiracy theorist and Jedi groupie Delan has this outlandish theory:

Laughably, he even occasionally thinks that there may be elements of the Republic Senate— elements very high up— who may be manipulating the various factions in the Clone War. Maybe even manipulating the Jedi! Well, not even his friends buy that one; the Jedi are perfect.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Ooohhh... powerful weapons and tons of ammo! Wait a minute... why would they give me all this?
    • Also dubbed "goreshadowing," by Anthony and Ashly Burch of HAWP fame.
  • In both Deus Ex and Deus Ex Human Revolution, you will run into people frequently who will claim that the government and corporations are behind some plot to take over the world and to enslave the masses. Given the plot of both games, they aren't crazy at all...
    • The crazy streetcorner preacher and the conspiracy theorist radio talk show host of the Deus Ex: Human Revolution prequel manage, between them, to accurately foreshadow almost every significant plot point of Deus Ex. (This was made much easier by Human Revolution being released after Deus Ex, even though the game is chronologically set before.)
  • Bosco from Sam & Max: Freelance Police. (Obscuring the name doesn't make this much less of a spoiler, because he is such a perfect example of this trope that I couldn't possibly be talking about anyone else.)
    • In the 4th game of Season 1, "Abe Lincoln Must Die", you find that there is a homing beacon for ICBMs hidden in his store. Earlier on, he built a satellite missile defense system and if you try to launch a nuke at him this system will kick in and stop the missile. There's also a spy camera in his store.
      • In season 2, it's revealed his mother has (inadvertently) had him under surveillance since before he was born... There's also a PI spying on him.
  • Syl, Duchess of Dementia from an Elder Scrolls: Oblivion expansion pack, is paranoid. When you first meet her, she gives you a quest to rout a conspiracy in New Sheoth. She is right, too—the office of Duke of Dementia is gained by killing the previous Duke. As part of a quest, you can end up killing her and becoming Duke (or Duchess) yourself. She is, of course, prepared.
  • Tsugumi of Ever 17 is convinced the entire disaster is some sort of setup. Obviously since it's on this page, she's right. Tsugumi and Sora's routes have Lieblich trying to cover up they just released Tief Blau onto the world by shutting in any survivors, and You and Sara's routes have the disaster being entirely a Gambit Roulette based on a real event that Tsugumi was involved in before.
  • Played with in Eternal Darkness during Maximillian Roivas' chapter. He's right to believe that body-snatching Eldritch Abominations are out to get him; some of his servants are possessed, and he is forced to kill them. However, the encounter leads him to actual paranoia and insanity, and he comes to believe all his servants are monsters. One round of cold-blooded murders later, he is committed to an insane asylum.
  • If this trope does not describe your mindset while playing and of the X-COM series, you'll soon find yourself thinking like that.
  • In Mega Man X 5, Lifesaver begins to suspect a connection between Zero and The Maverick Virus after Zero shows odd reactions to it. In the good ending, his theory leads to X and Zero fighting each other. The bad ending proves him right.
    • Remember how, in X4, Repliforce was labeled Maverick on a whim (Though they certainly didn't help their case)? Well, in X6, Gate's Inspector are similarly labeled Mavericks on a whim, but this time, they really are villainous.
    • Also, Sigma in X4, when trying to convince General to go maverick, explains that humanity intends to destroy any reploid that doesn't obey them perfectly. Come the Mega Man Zero series, and especially with the character of Dr. Weil, and it shows that Sigma was pretty much spot on with his assessment.
  • Takumi in Chaos;Head is correct about a surprisingly large amount of his paranoid thoughts, thought not all of them. Like that Yua had ulterior motives for being nice to him, some invisible godlike presence is watching him or that some sort of conspiracy surrounding Shogun is targeting him. Even about the idea that someone always seems to be watching him and that he is the avatar of someone else the same way Knight-Hart is his own in ESO.
  • Team Fortress 2 has the spy. That guy who looks like he's guarding the intelligence could be a spy. The sniper on the sniper deck could be a spy. Your own team's spy could be a spy. You could be a spy. It could be you. It could be me! It could even be—oops, a spy just killed you.
  • BioShock (series) has Peach Wilkins. A fisherman and smuggler who has holed himself up in Fontaine Fisheries, he believes you are just a troublesome agent of his dead colleague Fontaine, who he currently has a VERY low opinion of (justifiably, Fontaine was a crook and a slimeball). He was right. Sure, you didn't know it at the time, as Fontaine was masquerading as the sympathetic Irishman Atlas.
    • Starting at Fort Frolic, the Properly Paranoid player will develop a habit of shooting any frozen splicers, statues, or suspicious corpses he comes across. Because you never know when one of them might spring to life and assassinate you.
  • RuneScape has a whole quest series where an ex-zookeeper, Larry, was fired for claiming penguins are trying to take over the world. After the first quest in the series, you can see him squirming in a straitjacket outside the zoo where he once worked.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has The Truth, who at first glance looks like your average perpetually stoned New Age Retro Hippie. But as the game goes on, more and more of the weird, seemingly random and/or insane stuff he talks about turns out to be true.
  • In Pandemic, Madagascar is well-known for quarantining itself well before any other nation, thus foiling the player's efforts at getting their custom-designed disease past their borders. "A person is coughing in Brazil!" "Shut. Down. EVERYTHING!"
  • In The Force Unleashed, General Rahm Kota's backstory is that due to the fact that he never used the Clone Troopers during the Clone Wars, he was one of the few Jedi who managed to escape Order 66.
  • And in Knights of the Old Republic, Carth never passes up an opportunity to voice the opinion that something stinks in the setup; that it's a little odd your character survived, that it's also really odd that Bastila made the request to transfer you aboard, that the Jedi Council is up to some dirty trick...Turns out, he's dead right.
  • In Mass Effect, Wrex once worked for Saren as a hired gun for a job. However after making his own assumptions of Saren (mostly that he was Obviously Evil) he left without even waiting to get paid. He's the only merc who survived the mission.
    • Saren himself is paranoid that his ship Sovereign is indoctrinating him. It is.
    • Ashley has a lot of misgivings about the Council, feeling that when push come to shove they'll look out for their own species' interests and leave humanity out to dry. Come the second game, Ashley's beliefs end up becoming true.
  • Every Assassin's Creed assassination target who voices concern about the Assassin's presence—since all are done within earshot of the Assassin. One notable example in the first game was Sibrand, who is first seen (by Altaïr) threatening a Scholar whose white robes are similar to those of the Assassins. Unfortunately, although (as the Scholar points out accurately) that's why the Assassins wear those robes, Sibrand cuts him down anyway. Eventually this isn't enough "security" for Sibrand, who then flees to a boat that's quite off-shore, correctly believing that the Assassins are still hunting him.
    • Earlier, there's a conversation between two Templar troops who are discussing the Assassin and Sibrand's growing paranoia, only to have Sibrand stomp up toward them and berate them for being so suspiciously secretive. Then Sibrand turns around, convinced that Assassins are watching them, and yells at the passing crowd at the top of his lungs that he knows the Assassins are out there, listening and watching right now. The hilarious thing is that Altair actually is listening in right at that very moment, so Sibrand's paranoia is entirely justified.
  • It's always so much fun to slowly make the henchman paranoid and terrified enough to shoot off wildly at the tiniest noise in the predator sections of Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequel Batman: Arkham City. Some of their buddies will try to calm them down saying Batman's not all that. But boy do you get to prove them wrong.
    • Also people tend to question Batman's possible overestimations of The Joker's plans.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, one of the Vaults was filled with almost nothing but former mental patients who were drugged until they forgot that they were ever insane, and then split into red and blue factions who lived on opposite, locked sections of the Vault filled with HAL-esque security cameras to fuel their paranoia. Naturally, one of them figured it out, but he could no longer trust himself when he knew he was insane. To be fair, he thought the nuclear apocalypse outside the Vault was faked as well...
    • Also, Mr. House was able to predict the war before it happened and had defense systems set up all over Vegas. He would have completed it too had the war happened a day earlier and he lost the Platinum Chip that would've upgraded his defense systems. Still, his defenses were effective enough that Vegas is left mostly intact. Another example of him is his request for you to wipe out the Brotherhood of Steel. While it may just seem like Kicking the Dog, it's shown in the Wild Card ending that without the NCR actively curbing them, the Brotherhood of Steel will start stealing any bit of advanced technology they find from anybody they meet. That and they would actively oppose the Technocracy House enforces.
      • Fallout 4 reveals that a whole lot of people had predicted the war at least some months before it happened, chief among them being the Enclave.
  • It's actually kind of funny when you go back to replay Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and realize that von Karma was paranoid enough to retrain a parrot, on the off chance that somebody *coughcough* might cross-examine her. Guess what happens.
  • Early on in Alan Wake, you meet an old woman who always carries around an electric lantern, won't walk down a hallway because the light's burnt out, and frequently talks about getting faulty bulbs replaced. Then you go through the Washington forests at night, get attacked by creatures of darkness, and find out there's a very good reason for this. Even more than you think: the woman's the Lady of the Light, giving you the means to defeat the darkness.
  • Father Grigori in Half-Life 2 mentions that he built most of his anti-zombie traps before the zombies ever hit.
    • In that same area, players get into the habit of shooting corpses a couple of times before walking past them. If they're really a "hibernating" headcrab zombie, this will wake them up. This is because most players have had just a few too many times when the innocent-looking corpse they just passed walks up behind them and knocks their head off.
      • There's an easy trick to figure out which are still alive. Did you not kill them yourself? Do they have a headcrab still on their head? Is the corpse intact? If all 3, then they are still alive. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • Knight-Commander Meredith in Dragon Age II becomes more stringent in her measures to crack down on apostates and blood mages, which in turn only makes matters worse for her and the Templars. She gets to the point near the end of the game where she even accuses the Templars under her command as being blood mage thralls. It doesn't help her case that the lyrium idol that she fashioned into a sword is also affecting her judgment.
  • In Double Switch, Eddie set up traps all the building out of apparent paranoia. The scary thing is that he is both right and wrong. He is right because there are Mafia goons as well as secret society members who start running loose in the building. He is wrong because he is dangerously insane and wants an Egyptian statue that everyone is after.
  • In the Portal universe, Douglas Rattman is a paranoid schizophrenic who works as a researcher for Aperture Science. When off his meds, he imagines all sorts of odd things, like inanimate objects talking to him and that the AI Master Computer who runs the facility is out to murder everyone. Of course, he's exactly correct about the latter, allowing him to survive the purge and provide surreptitious aid to the series' protagonist.
  • In Minecraft, most of the mobs create this feeling for players. All of the common ones like Skeleton Archers, Zombies, and Spiders can spawn anywhere that is large and dark enough, even if it's been previously explored. Creepers are especially dangerous: Remember to properly light up explored areas, or your character will suddenly come face to face with an imminent explosion.
  • Steven Heck from Alpha Protocol. He repeatedly references various crazy sounding conspiracy theories, such as operation Acoustic Kitty, which supposedly involved CIA operatives sticking receivers to the tails of cats for use in spying, which is actually Truth in Television.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines there is a conspiracy theorist who is a constant caller on a late night radio station. His calls start off with conspiracies regarding aliens and area 51 but at the end of the game he reveals the entire plot of the game so far and the Vampire conspiracy but gets laughed off as being crazy.
  • The Terrans in the X Universe are terrified of artificially intelligent ships, because their own terraformers wiped out all their colonies after a software glitch, then started throwing asteroids at Earth.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Narbonic, after Dave goes mad, Helen tells him that the nice part of going mad is that "You realize you weren't paranoid after all."
  • In Sam and Fuzzy, Malcolm has various crazy cryptic rants about a conspiracy involving the hunter in white, the corporation that kills to control the message, the man with two faces and space gophers. They all turn out to be a true (even the space gophers) and a result of his hairstyle accidentally picking up secret transmissions from Sin records
  • Lord Shojo, ruler of Azure City in The Order of the Stick. Best summed up by this:

Shojo: Paranoia? I rule a city were I have to fake senility just to avoid being assassinated. I took Improved Paranoia like 5 levels ago.

  • Roxy Lalonde from Homestuck believes that Betty Crocker is evil and wants to kill her and her friends. She's right.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Lieutenant Shore Pibald is paranoid to the point of insanity (fortunately, in a mercenary company of violent sociopaths, this isn't a bad thing). However, he's intelligent enough that he's been correct about his suspicions on at least three notable occasions.

Narator: It's a good thing he's not in therapy. This would undo months of progress.

  • In Sluggy Freelance, Riff spends a good chunk of the comic paranoid that Aylee will revert to her "primal instincts" and go on a killing spree. While this paranoia is unusually assholish for Riff, the inventions he's made out of his paranoia have ultimately saved the group multiple times.
  • After discovering that they are werewolves, the main cast of Cry Havoc (with the exception of Hati) become paranoid that the Vatican and Aesir churches are out to get them, this even goes so far that they tactically sweep and clear rooms they enter, carry multiple weapons on they at any time, and plan on how to kill their only allies should they be surprised.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Jack believes that the Court tracks students through their food. Naturally, even a student quite disillusioned with the Court asks him why they would do it in such a ridiculous way. Jack's right.
  • One xkcd comic has the character announce "I know you're listening" to empty rooms, on the off chance he's right.
  • One Mezzacotta character says this is why you humans cannot be allowed to leave Earth.
  • Read about the family facts and sexual history of Candi Levens of the Ciem Webcomic Series here. If she seems a bit paranoid in the story, she has every right to be. Kids Are Cruel and Teens Are Monsters are both taken Up to Eleven in regards to how the girls at school did everything they could to destroy Candi. Often for nothing more than their bigotry against her moral upbringing. Being kidnapped by aliens wanting her head for a trophy didn't help matters any.
    • You know it's a Crapsack World when the Alpha Bitch arranges a rapist to show up out of nowhere just to teach you "a lesson," then suffers zero penalty for it. In fact, Candi has to deal with this at college also. And that time, she avoids going to the police because she'd already tried to help a friend in the hall seek justice for being hazed in a sexual manner; and the police didn't care.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Whateley Academy is actively trying to instill a form of this attitude in its students. As staff members have been heard to state outright, the point of the school isn't so much to produce superheroes or - villains - or even provide a formal education (though it does that, too) as to train young mutants to survive in a world in which many people are out to get them.
    • Phase is paranoid, and rightly so. He grew up in an ultra-wealthy family, and so has spent his whole life watching for con men, hucksters, gold-diggers, false friends, you name it. He bought a high-end utility belt after only a couple weeks at Whateley Academy. The one time he wasn't wearing it (because the powers testing guys insisted on experimenting on it) he really, really needed it.
    • Except for Gunny Sergeant Bardue, whose behaviour is less Properly Paranoid and more simply Jerkass. He beats up a young student for demonstrating how his illusions work because the illusion, which was quite clearly only an illusion, resembled an antique pistol. He later hurls a car at a student that has no mutant ability, with the intent of forcing her latent mutation to manifest. Not only is the manifestation of a mutant power actually none of his concern, it may have been a life-destroying change for the student, such as if her power manifested by turning her permanently into a monstrous form. And that's assuming that she had a latent mutation that would react to, and be able to defend against, a car hurtling towards her. What an Idiot!!
  • In Marble Hornets, Alex starts constantly filming himself midway through producing his student film. After J watches the tapes, he starts filming himself as well. What they find is disturbing, to say the least.
  • Gaia Online, true to form, has at least three known examples.
    • G-Corps Labtech 957, several of whose numerous conspiracy theories about the place are eventually revealed to be true. He'd even stashed a bigass shotgun for the Zombie Apocalypse.
    • Johnny Gambino sent his son Gino into hiding the night before Halloween 2k7's vampires came looking for them both.
    • Gambino, again, went to his friend Edmund with concerns about his security force being absent early in March 2010. Edmund dismissed him as paranoid and told him to go home and get some sleep. Cue vampire assassin...
  • Invoked by Gordon Freeman in episode 28 of Freeman's Mind. While his paranoia does allow him to accurately predict enemy strategies and avoid traps, he proceeds to delve into the absurdly paranoid... including telepathic owls.
  • The Salvation War reveals that tinfoil hats actually work against demonic mind powers.
  • The Nostalgia Critic becomes paranoid that his allies will seek to oust him as President of Kickassia. He's right, but it's only after he threatens them with twenty tons of dynamite!


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Mr. Crocker in The Fairly Oddparents suspects that FAIRY GOD PARENTS!! are involved in every unusual situation, regardless of how minor. He is always correct, not that it helps.
  • In one episode of Danny Phantom, it appears that Danny is going crazy when he starts yelling at and shooting at a ghost that appears to not exist as neither the audience nor anyone besides Danny can see it. But later on, it appears that he is right in attacking as we see the ghost actively attacking his family.
  • The Question's appearances on Justice League Unlimited are filled with wild ramblings about obscure plots, but his crackpot theories seem a lot less crazy when you realize that he was right about Supergirl's disturbing dreams, Luthor triggering the apocalypse and Baskin-Robbins' 32nd flavor.
    • He's probably wrong about aglets, though. Probably.
  • Tweek from South Park, a 8-year-old boy, addicted to caffeine and suffering from ADD, is constantly twitching, jumping, screaming and pulling his hair out, because he sees the underpants gnomes. Unfortunately, they are real. Another time when the boys try to steal Kenny's ashes from the McCormick's living room they tell Cartman his fear that there are robot guards is ridiculous. Of course there are robot guards.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons which had the supervisor of a peanut factory forcing his employees to undergo hours of drilling to prepare for any potential elephant attacks. His efforts are all for naught, however... since in the middle of just such an attack, as he's bragging about his preparations, he gets flattened by an elephant.
    • In another episode, Bart is dosed with ADD medicine that makes him apparently paranoid, culminating in a wild theory about Major League Baseball spying on people via satellite and him stealing a tank to stop them. Turns out, yes, he was right.
      • Apparently, a tank can take out an orbiting satellite. I did not know that.
        • Then you're not paranoid enough!
    • In another episode, in the process of babyproofing the entire house, Homer encases the phone in concrete so Maggie can't call and have poison delivered to the house. Marge has trouble believing this, until Homer picks up a carrot (there to help with dialing), randomly hitting buttons and, over the speaker phone, we hear "Thank you for your call. Your poison will be delivered shortly."
      • In a world where you can get poison THAT easily, why wouldn't you be paranoid?
    • In yet another episode, Homer steals a pile of sugar from a crashed sugar truck. He then keeps it in his backyard and stays all night next to it with a gun to "protect" it. When Marge says he's being paranoid, he immediately pulls out a stereotypical British guy with a tea cup and saucer from inside the pile.

Homer: All right, pal: where'd you get the sugar for that tea?
British Guy: I nicked it when you let your guard down for that split second, and I'd do it again. (sips tea) Goodbye.
Homer: You see, Marge? Do you see?

    • And then another episode had Homer making up conspiracies and posting them to the internet. One such conspiracy (Flu shots being used for Mind Control) turned out to be true, causing Homer to be kidnapped and held in The Villa—no I mean "The Island".
    • In another episode, "Hungry Hungry Homer," Homer stumbles upon evidence that suggests that the Springfield Isotopes were going to be sold to Albuquerque. He attempts to alert the press, but by the time they go there, all the evidence is gone, leading them to believe that Homer was either lying or paranoid. He then orchestrates a food strike just to prove it. Eventually, he manages to stop the food strike when it as becoming clear that it was having bad effects on his health. Ironically, his quitting the food strike was also what caused him to be proved correct in his paranoia all along (as, thanks to a mistake in food changes, they ended up revealing that the foodstuff was of Albuquerque-style food, and they even sported the name "Albuquerque Isotopes.")
    • In the episode "Beyond Blunderdome", the executives were not willing to allow the remake that Mel Gibson or Homer Simpson to be released, as they feared it would result in negative backlash. After reluctantly letting them release it, their fears proved to be very sound, with several people walking out of the movie in disgust after watching it.
  • Code Lyoko: Waldo Schaeffer, alias Franz Hopper; changing his name was only the tip of the iceberg. His electronic diary was encrypted with code that would take years to crack, hidden in a train station locker whose key was hidden in his daughter's plushy which was in turn hidden in a crack of a wall in his house. And he created a whole virtual world with the aim of hiding there with Aelita, out of danger from his pursuers. But hey, The Men in Black were after him, and they'd already kidnapped his wife.
  • In Invader Zim, Dib has the Cassandra Truth reputation going strong. But he's right—Zim, the main character, is indeed an evil alien bent on conquering humanity. What's more, whenever he's seen engaging in other paranormal studies (such as chasing a hairy kid he thinks is a baby Bigfoot), he continues to show much more awareness of the world around him than... well, the world around him. Maybe he'd be more credible if he stopped talking to himself.
    • His sister Gaz knows he's right and that Zim is an alien... however she's too busy with video games and pizza to actually give a damn. Although, she has an excuse:

Dib: Don't you care that Zim is trying to destroy all mankind? Huh?
Gaz: ...But he's so bad at it.

  • Kids Next Door has this in the main character, Nigel Uno aka Numbah One. He comes across as a big-time Agent Mulder, with theories ranging from "the adults are feeding children asparagus because they hate it themselves" to "the mystery meat in the cafeteria is rainbow monkey" to "the doctor is turning children into moose to sell their antlers" (or something to that effect). Whenever Numbah One is wrong, it's because the truth is even more outlandish.
    • Example: In one episode parodying the Animatrix short The Second Renaissance, Numbah One gives an elaborate class presentation claiming that kids once ruled the world, until they created adults to be their playmates/servile caretakers. Naturally the adults rebelled and took over the Earth, creating the fiction of "families" (with the adults in control and the children subservient). The teacher stops the presentation and chastises Nigel for his ridiculous flights of fancy but after the class is dismissed he grabs the apple off his desk (which is actually a communicator) and reports "They know..."
  • Storm Hawks has Stork, who overlaps with Crazy Prepared. He believes that various and hundreds of things are out to get him/the ship/his crew, and he often turns out to be right.
    • Stork built an impressive array of traps in the Condor, much to the consternation of the other crew members, but on the numerous occasions the ship has been boarded they are very useful, and the crew are glad to have them.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes has this with Beezy against the weavils.
    • Also, Jimmy's fear of pickles seems like the most absurd thing ever, but once you find out the true nature of Mrs. Gerkin, it doesn't seem so foolish.
  • Family Guy: The psychotic Mayor Adam West tells Meg to "watch out for The Noid," the old Domino's Pizza mascot, because he's trying to ruin his pizza's freshness. Later The Noid actually appears and West snaps his neck and then takes a bite of his pizza remarking "Perhaps it is The Noid who should have avoided me." Then, of course, there's the Evil Monkey...
  • Flaky might come across as being irrationally nervous and the character has a boatload of phobias in Happy Tree Friends, but considering what usually ends up happening to the HTF gang, and the somewhat unusual delivery mechanisms of said fates, her fears seem rather justified... but unfortunately her caution rarely pays off due to Finagle's Law being in effect.
  • Mallory from The Mighty Ducks seemed rather disturbed that brainiac Tanya not only had a named code in the case of a random dinosaur attack but defense plans for just such an occasion. Of course dinosaurs are cousins to the race that twice conquered their planet and enslaved their people, so it's not as out there as the show makes it.
  • The titular hero of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command theorizes that anything bad that happens in the universe is the work of his Arch Enemy, the Evil Emperor Zurg. It was even lampshaded in the pilot movie.

Warp Darkmatter: What plot?! You think Zurg is behind every kitten stuck up a tree!
Buzz: The fiend! Why can't he leave kitty cats out of his nefarious schemes?

    • The freakiest thing is he's usually right, as Zurg, being a classic Card-Carrying Villain, will do anything to cause chaos in the galaxy. Heck, there was even one episode completed devoted to this trope where Buzz (after working nonstop for weeks) captures a pen from one of Zurg's shuttles, believing it to be the key to one of his most devious plans. Everyone thinks he's been wound a bit too tight and force him to take a vacation and relax. It turns out though that Buzz was right as the pen was the firing trigger for Zurg's (with dramatic sting music) Hyper Death Ray!
  • While being one of the most paranoid characters in the series, Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible has been accurate many times, such as when he claimed that swimming in the lake of Camp Wannaweep was a bad idea. Turns out, the lake had been polluted by one of the neighboring camps, which resulted in Ron's camp bully (who took to swimming in the lake all summer) becoming a mutant villain. Another episode features said enemy of Ron being supposed cured of his mutation and reformed. Ron, however, remained suspicious, despite even having most of people he told his claims to pelted him with rotten vegetables. Guess what? He was right again as his enemy wanted to become a mutant again and create an army of mutants. Also, in one episode where Ron's so-called irrational fear of monkeys was apparent, he claimed that the simian-wise archaeologist Monty Fiske was 'bad road'. Boy was he right big time as it turns out, he was a power-hungry Monkey Kung Fu expert who decreed that from now on, he'd be known as Monkey Fist. It was probably the fact that Ron suspected him from the get go that he's more of Ron's enemies than Kim's. In the Grand Finale, Ron was worried that graduation from high school would bring about the end of everything (though he was referring to it more in terms of his relationship with Kim). Turns out his worry was more justified than he thought as an Alien Invasion struck the night of graduation, literally bringing about the end of the world. As Ron put it:

Ron: Oh, am I the only one who SAW THIS COMING?!

    • And who could forget his claim that his teacher has been dogging him ever since he looked at him funny?
  • Colonel Hunter Gathers from The Venture Brothers eats, sleeps, and breathes this trope. Nearly everything that comes out of his mouth sounds like completely insane conspiracy babble, but he's pretty much always right.
  • On King of the Hill, conspiracy nut Dale Gribble has a practically encyclopedic knowledge of government bureacratic procedures, a knowledge which has come in handy on several occasions. Perhaps the best example was the incident in which he blackmailed a worker at the Department of Motor Vehicles into providing better service, simply by naming the all of worker's superiors in ascending order, then threatening to call them and complain:

"I am your worst nightmare! I have a three-line phone and absolutely nothing at all to do with my time!"

  • The Tribunal from Metalocalypse. Seem like a bunch of crazy people, convinced that a metal band is going to fulfill some kind of prophecy, right? Wrong. As the seasons have gone on, Dethklok has been doing almost everything the The Tribunal has feared, and they aren't even aware of it. The Tribunal however is, and they're very worried about it.
  • In Recess: School's Out, TJ Dettwiler tries to tell everyone in town that there was suspicious activity going on at the school, yet his parents and the police never believed him, and even his friends felt doubtful at what happened after stealing one of their crates and Prickly apparently leaving the school (It Makes Sense in Context). Turns out, TJ was actually very sound in his suspicions, as the school had actually been taken over by an extremist group led by the former Secretary of Education and former principal of Third Street Elementary, Phllium Benedict, that was trying to eliminate Recess.
  • Wade from Garfield and Friends comes off as this once he points out that local Reality Warper Orson keeps dragging Wade into dangerous stories via Dream Sequences. This is emphasized in one episode where Orson's reading causes Wade to be placed in a series of dangers, including a polar bear, a train, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Suddenly it makes sense for Wade to be scared of everything.
  • Penny Proud in one episode of The Proud Family suspected that the reason why she was getting bad grades from her teacher despite having put much work into her paper was because her teacher hated her, to which her family members didn't believe her (Oscar initially thought that she gave her a bad grade because the teacher was republican [Penny wrote her paper on how Hillary Clinton inspired her]). Turns out, Penny was actually closer to the truth than even she realized: She did hate her in a way, although mostly because she was sore towards Suga Mama for winning a coin toss (well, cheating in the coin toss is a bit more accurate), and Penny is related to Suga Mama, being her granddaughter and all.
  • A couple of Looney Tunes shorts had Sylvester as Porky Pig's pet cat, who would be the only one who knew that, for instance, a sinister mob of mice were out to kill his master. Porky would catch Sylvester doing truly bizarre things to save both their skins and chalk his behavior up to cowardice, insanity or both.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The Trope Codifier might well be former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who is believed to have uttered the oft-quoted "Even a paranoid can have enemies" line to Henry Kissinger during the 1973 Sinai peace talks (in reference to her reluctance to give the Palestinians additional concessions). The line is sometimes attributed to Kissinger.
  • Fidel Castro. The CIA actually tried to assassinate him over six hundred times. The only reason he lasted so blong is because he was paranoid and because the CIA was really really incompetent about it. Exploding seashells? Drugging him with a chemical to make his beard fall out? Seriously?
  • The Martha Mitchell effect, named for Martha Beall Mitchell. Mitchell told reporters that White House officials were committing criminal acts and that they once even went so far as to keep her sedated and imprisoned in a hotel room. It was leaked to the media that she had a drinking problem and most of her family abandoned her. Take a guess who was president....
  • Among sysadmins and other IT specialists, there's a saying that "adequate computer security is indistinguishable from paranoia". Justified as there are more and more signs of organized crime being behind many of present day's virus and worm attacks.
  • There was a court case in which one of the witnesses was another witness's shrink. When asked whether said other witness was paranoid, he answered that he thought so, until he heard the testimony of some of the other witnesses.
  • When Conspiracy Theorist David Icke (of Shapeshifting Lizard Folk fame) visited Canada, he was the subject of an actual conspiracy to sabotage his visit. This culminated in a television appearance in which a psychologist brought in to reveal him as crazy asked why he thought that people were trying to silence him, whereupon Icke cited the official harassment and multiple cancellations he had received aimed at just that.
  • One of Wild Bill Hickok's cardinal rules was to not sit with his back to the door to a room. John ("Broken Nose Jack") McCall ultimately demonstrated why this was a good idea, and why Hickok's violating that rule was terminally unwise, by shooting Hickok in the back of the head.
  • Some people can honestly claim that Communists and the government had them falsely declared insane for disagreeing with them. Indeed, if you are religious, particularly if you are a priest living In Soviet Russia, China under Mao, or present-day North Korea (etc) could get you institutionalised, or just plain murdered. It is still pretty bad in large parts of the world and there are legions of people who have been locked up, or just plain killed, for 'subversive behaviour'....
  • Ever notice those phone calls that hang up on you as soon as you answer...?
  • Swiss nuclear physicists built a reactor in a cave so that if there was a meltdown, the mountain would keep the accident from venting radiation, as had happened in Chernobyl. The reactor did indeed suffer a meltdown, so the scientists sealed up the cave.
  • Adolf Hitler frequently altered his planned appearances and travel plans out of a sudden fear for possible attempts on his life. This allowed him to survive several dozens of carefully calculated assassination attempts, most of them perpetrated by his own officers. When you look at how meticulously these murders were planned, it's clear that only paranoia or dumb luck could have saved him so many times.
  • Speaking of Hitler, Winston Churchill often got accused of being a paranoid old warmonger in the '30s. In fact his interest in war was largely simply a geek hobby though he could be overly bellicose at delicate political strife, but in any case he could easily have been mistaken at the time for a paranoid old warmonger. But of course Adolf Hitler really did intend to start another world war, really did intend to commit mass genocide, and in general Churchill was quite right to be paranoid of him.
  • Theodor Herzl considered it necessary to form a Jewish state for the safety of Jews. The attitude of others in his time was,"Well that might be nice, but aren't you overreacting. Sure the Russians had all those pograms but they're just barbarians and besides the Czar needed someone to blame for being trounced by the Japanese. And there was that Dreyfus thing but everyone knows that was an anomaly. How can cultured people in our day-and-age want to harm the Jews?"
  • Ernest Hemingway believed himself to be tailed by the FBI, a claim his friend dismissed as a delusion resulting from mental deterioration and depression. However, it was recently revealed that he really was ordered to be monitored for his activities in Cuba by J Edgar Hoover.
  • Michael Drosnin using codes he claimed were hidden in the Bible predicted an assasination involving Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Then Rabin was assasinated.
  • During late July/early August 2011, many members of the Bethesda forums expressed a suspicion that the Lonesome Road DLC for Fallout: New Vegas would be delayed, to the point that the senior producer, Jason Bergman, called people paranoid and said that Lonesome Road would come out in August. A week later, it was announced that Lonesome Road had been delayed and wouldn't come out in August.
  • Joseph McCarthy tried several people who were supposedly Communist spies in what History would call the Red Scare. Although he ultimately tried the wrong people and destroyed many more lives and careers in the process thanks to his Witch Hunt tactics, his beliefs that the Soviets had actually infiltrated the country via various media personalities and government officials did actually prove to be quite sound when the relevant KGB records were declassified after 1991.
  • Doubly happened on September 11, 2001:
    • Rick Rescorla, a former colonel in the US Army, became the chief of security for Morgan Stanley after he retired. First he expressed his worry that the towers would be vulnerable to a truck bomb... which then happened in 1993. Later he said that terrorists would probably try again--- using airplanes. He was last seen running up the stairs of the South Tower to aid in rescuing more people.
    • Then, there was John O'Neill, who had become the head of WTC security 19 days before 9/11. His previous job: One of the main FBI counter-terrorism experts on Osama Bin Laden. When he took the job, he told his new boss he worried that they'd try to "finish the job".
  • The CIA, KGB, Mossad, for that matter, ANY intelligence group that uses secrecy as its M.O, causes this trope by mere existing. And that's just the known ones. The ones that are completely unknown are even worse.
    • Come to think about it, its the CIA, KGB, Mossad, etc. job to be Properly Paranoid.
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