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"I hear it's amazing when the famous purple stuffed worm in flap-jaw space with the tuning fork does a raw blink on Hara-Kiri Rock. I need scissors! 61!"
Colonel Campbell's AI, Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty

Don't click the edit button to start this new page. It probably doesn't do anything fun. I hate you.

Mission Control has been acting strangely. It's acting like it can't make up its mind whether it loves you or hates you. It gives you orders which, if followed, get you brutally killed. It taunts, belittles, and lies to you. What's going on? You've just encountered Mission Control Is Off Its Meds.

This can take the form of an insane AI that's in a position to give you messages, a voice that speaks from the character's own mind, or just someone insane or evil that's in a position to issue commands.

These types sometimes offer rewards that never materialize. Others bring you so far only to inform you that You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.

It comes in three main types:

Type 1: Mission Control, or any voice that follows you around, is evil, abusive, misleading, or working to your detriment.

Type 2: Mission Control is completely insane, or an Artificial Intelligence program that...well, broke.

Type 3: Mission Control has been replaced by an impersonator.

This trope covers any subject that could be Mission Control, but is clearly insane, clearly evil, or otherwise not nearly as good at aiding the character as it should be. Compare Stop Helping Me!, which is annoying or unhelpful but not intentionally so. When used in video games, Mission Control Is Off Its Meds can be considered a variant of Lemony Narrator.

Examples of Mission Control Is Off Its Meds include:


Film

  • Mission Control in Airplane! is clearly insane. Largely as a result of going back on his meds. If you count amphetamines and glue-sniffing as meds.
  • HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Literature

  • Moon Base in Destination: Void by Frank Herbert. The Earthling is the 7th Voidship and all six previous ones have been destroyed on orders from Moon Base. Every crew member has been brainwashed in such a way as to, should the proper orders be given, play their part in the destruction of the ship. And Moon Base gives those orders like crazy. There are multiple redundant switches to blow up the ship. The ship is designed to fail, and directives for recovering from that failure are deliberately suicidal, with almost everyone involved sure they will result in the destruction of the ship.
  • The voice in Maximum Ride's head.
  • In Timothy Zahn 's Spectre Of The Past, Control directs Luke(in disguise as a pilot) through the pirates' base. Then he taunts him about the Jedi trap he led him into.


Tabletop Games

  • Paranoia. Depending on play style, the role of Mission Control may be filled by The Computer, or by a more traditional Mission Control staffed by clones.


Video Games

  • Of course, G La DOS from Portal. In recent times, she probably counts as the Trope Codifier, and spawned at least a few parodies and imitators.
    • In Portal 2, G La DOS is back, and is no longer as insanely homicidal as she is vengeful. Wheatley, on the other hand, well, let's just say it's not an accident that he's apparently a complete moron. Cave Johnson also counts, posthumously, to judge by the recorded messages he left in the old Enrichment Center.
  • The voice from Give Up Robot 1&2. The voice acts as Mission Control, but either hates your guts or is totally insane. It introduces each game with your "orders," which are garbled and quickly corrected, and congratulates you when you die while telling you to give up or that it hates you if you beat a level.
    • That said, the computer voice's sole purpose appears to be tormenting Robot - or capturing him when he escapes from their little world in the sequel.
  • The narrator from Bastion starts to do this when The Kid accidentally inhales some mushroom spores. Most of the lines are repeats of lines from before, but with negative emphasis. The creepiest part is when he starts humming Zia's song.
  • The narrator/voice/whatever the hell from Loved. The voice presents occasional questions to the player, and then does the opposite of what the answer would logically prompt. When you disobey its commands, it asks, "Why do you hate me?" as though it were expecting otherwise. Example:

 Throw yourself into the barbs.

Player: "Hell no." *jumps over barbs*

How disappointing.

  • The voice from Depict 1 by Kyle Pulver. It professes a desire to protect you and keep you safe while simultaneously giving orders that get your character killed, if followed.
  • Sirrus and Achenar from the first Myst.
  • The Deceiver in the "Capture the Flag with Trow" level in Myth II does this.
  • 343 Guilty Spark, from the Halo series.
  • The Joker in Batman: Arkham Asylum serves as this for the enemy minions. As it becomes clear that they can't actually do anything to stop Batman, the Joker starts taunting them about how Batman is probably right above them.
    • This being The Joker, chances are he actually is off his meds. Or too much into them.
  • Any of the AIs in Marathon that aid, or pretend to aid, the player are examples of this.
  • Your future (and, later, past) selves in Time Fcuk count as this.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear 1987, Big Boss was Solid Snake's handler for the mission, and partway through, he starts giving you orders that put you in danger, or send you back to the starting area. He even goes so far as to tell you the mission is over, and that you need to turn your console off. Of course, it turns out Big Boss is behind everything, and he fully expected you to get killed before you got as far as you did, so he started actively trying to get you killed.
    • Master Miller in Metal Gear Solid, who is actually Liquid Snake in disguise, sabotaging the mission by making the Colonel suspicious of Naomi, and cluing Snake in on the true nature of his mission and the FoxDie virus. Neither Campbell nor Snake notice until Liquid breaks his Kayfabe, and Campbell notices that Miller's transmissions have been coming from Shadow Moses all along.
    • The Colonel in Metal Gear Solid 2 towards the end starts to break the fourth wall even more than the series usually does, and talks about things like aliens, gardening safety and the fact that he needs scissors. 61. He turns out to be an AI impersonating the real Colonel from Metal Gear Solid; and the non-sense ocurrs thanks to a computer virus that corrupts the AI.
    • The off-his-meds Colonel even made it into Super Smash Bros Brawl, appearing when Snake uses his Smash taunt against Luigi. While the AI isn't as nonsensical as before, you can still tell it's the AI when he gets to the "La Li Lu Le Lo" part.
  • SHODAN is this in System Shock 2.
  • In the Colour My Series, the signs tell you to give up and go home.
  • The Doom3 mod Conscientious Objector features a mission control which constantly taunts or insults you, and attempts to lead you into traps.
  • The Mother from Prey
  • At the end of the expansion of the first Fable, Jack of Blades becomes this, replacing the familiar promptings of the guildmaster with taunts and advice that makes you more evil if followed.
  • Satan from Messiah, once he reveals his true colors.
  • Xana of Dark Messiah is fused to the player and functions like a typical mission control. As you get farther in the game, her comments become more and more blatantly evil and eventually on the insane side. Of course, it's not secret from the very start that Xana isn't nice or all there.
  • Atlas of Bioshock is this to a degree. Would you kindly kill Andrew Ryan for me?
    • Also Sander Cohen.
    • Sofia Lamb in the sequel acts as this as well, harassing you over your radio and the Rapture intercom throughout the game.
    • Let's just say Bioshock loves this trope or owes it money. In the sequel, there's also Grace Holloway, who harasses you over the intercom, Stanley, who uses you to cover his own ass, and Alexander the Great, who's just plain nuts. Sinclair however, is a subversion. He is ruthless at times, but is exactly as trustworthy as Tenenbaum says he is.
  • Red from Penumbra: Overture is a nice-ish guy and his advice is usually pretty good if you can separate it from everything else he says, but from the first moment he talks to you it's clear that he's not, strictly speaking, all there. He does try to kill you once or twice as revenge for insulting him with your judging, judging silence, but doesn't see why that should stand in the way of the pair of you being the bestest pals.

  How does my brain-flesh know your fluids are leaking? Because Red tricked you! (laughter) Spidery tunnel was far from a necessary evil, more-so it served more as a well deserved punishment. You thought my mind had been lost to the ravages of time but poetic justice has struck with a sonnet and an eight legged baptism of fire! With justice now served cold, I hope we can be good friends.

    • The sequel Black Plague features Clarence, a voice in your head who spends half his time trying to get you killed, the other half trying to keep you alive, and every moment he can insulting you, rifling through your memories, screwing with your perceptions and generally being a huge jerk.
  • Jodie from Metal Wolf Chaos may be unambiguously on the player's side, but also happens to be completely insane.
  • The Tower's God in Tower of Heaven starts out as a slightly arrogant, but more or less just divinity who wants to test your abilities to see if you are worthy of being rewarded. As you progress, he becomes increasingly hostile and intent on making you fail, as he imposes more and more random and unjust rules on you. By the tenth level, he experiences a true Villainous Breakdown:

  "How... How DARE you continue to live?! Is it merely to spite me? You damn fool!"

  • In Twelve Thirteen it is increasingly difficult to tell if Westbury is trying to kill you or help you escape, but he is definitely not at all there. The commentary explicitly points out that Westbury has completely snapped by the circumstances that led to everyone being trapped on the space station, and doesn't care what he has to do to get off it.
  • The voice that guides the protagonist of KOLM belongs to his emotionally abusive mother, who claims to have a plan for him but refuses to explain it. Once he gets the item she needs, she tries to get him killed.
  • In Command And Conquer Renegade, the automated anouncer in the Temple of Nod goes completely nuts after the Temple is hit with an ion cannon strike, randomly blurting out non-sequiturs like "Intruder alert! Alert cancelled! Intruder alert! Alert cancelled! Intruder alert! Intruder cancelled! All intruders please report to the detention centre for debriefing!"
  • In Jabless Adventure, Squiddy is something of a Cloudcuckoolander. He tries to teach you how to break blocks with your mind (you can't), and every time you collect a fruit he tells you a fact about the fruit that may or may not be complete nonsense (some of which even he doesn't believe).
  • Mission control in Canary (a parody of Survival Horror in general and Dead Space in particular) is fighting his own battle while you fight yours, under assault by hundreds of monsters. Right after he seems to have been overwhelmed, he suddenly and suspiciously informs you that everything is fine.
  • While Fallout: New Vegas might not have any good examples in the game proper, the Dead Money addon gives us Father Elijah, the man who abducted you and mastermind of the Sierra Madre heist. He gives you general orders which, frankly, would be tantamount to suicide if anyone but the Courier were assigned them. He specifically states that once You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, he'll detonate your bomb collar so you don't get in the way.
  • The Mission Control named Mission Control from Thelemite is explicitly sending you on suicide missions because the organization it works for didn't allocate enough of the budget to incinerate the mutant player character after the experiment that created him. Eventually he just gives up on that and tries to kill you directly as the final boss.
  • The Narrator in The Stanley Parable is pleasant enough... so long as you follow his narration precisely. Stray Off the Rails, however, and he reveals his mastery of Passive-Aggressive Kombat. Among other things.
  • The Bright in The Screen:
  • The Announcer in Team Fortress 2 clearly has a bit of a personality problem and is in charge of both teams, but before they fixed that glitch, when a King of the Hill game went into overtime[1], she clearly went off her meds. Even with the fix she pretty well loses it whenever the cart has almost reached the final terminus.
  • An argument could be made for Adam Malkovich along these lines. His timing in authorizing the use of each piece of equipment could be likened to telling a drowning man about this great new invention called a lifejacket. Insane if not malicious, and incompetent if not insane.
  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard features this in one of the later levels. It turns out to be the impostor variation, and Matt actually figures out what's going on before the reveal due to being Genre Savvy.
  • The Guardian in Ultima VII. He goes out of his way to be helpful for a little while at first, but rapidly moves on to trying to get you killed.
  • Dungeon Keeper has a mission control who's helpful through most of the game, but in the last level apparently lets your successes go to his head, and counsels you to destroy the enemy base so you can reclaim the Avatar. This is an absolutely terrible idea, as the enemy base cannot be claimed due to your inability to build bridges, which greatly inhibits your ability to reinforce or regroup your troops. Which you'll want to do, because their base is also stuffed full of traps, doors, high level vampires that use their wind spell to scatter your forces all over while using their Drain, Heal, and ability to repeatedly resurrect to be incredibly difficult to take out, while the enemy keeper will disease your troops and start pounding them with lightning. Alternatively you could ignore him, sneak up a side passage, and reach the Avatar without the enemy doing a thing to stop you.
  • Towards the end of Iji, barring an Easter Egg, Dan gets killed. Iji drags his body to a bed, convinces herself that he's still alive, and starts responding to imaginary prompts as if he were still giving them.
  • Variation in Eternal Darkness - The closest thing Alex Roivas has to Mission Control is her grandfather's ghost, who occasionally offers supportive words and advice betwen chapters. Late in the game he starts sounding more sinister, eventually telling Alex that he hated having to raise her after her parents died. Of course, that was just the Liche messing with her, and she saw through the illusion.


Web Comics

  • The GPS from No Reason, as shown here and here.
  • In Sequential Art, the rogue AI OzBasic is essentially an Expy of GLaDOS, for an arc that's an homage to Portal.
  • Castle Heterodyne in Girl Genius acts like this to the team of prisoners attempting to repair it. Results from intensified by the castle's damage causing a fracturing of its personality. Fragment A might kill all repair crews entering an area that Fragment B desperately wanted repaired, for instance. However, even once Agatha fully restores it, it still hugely abuses its repair crews For the Evulz.

  "Oh, come now, we had fun! And alerting you to every other trap was more than fair!"

  • In Homestuck, many characters do this. Prime offenders are Doc Scratch, Terezi, and Vriska. Kernelsprites merit special mention because although they have access to a great deal of important information about Sburb, they are required to present it one or two pieces at a time, in a roundabout way.
    • Also, the exiles, especially the ones who don't really know what the consoles do. But with few exceptions, none of them are actively malicious, just kind of derpy.
    • Dirk Strider's autoresponder has a few things to answer for itself. It's an AI programmed by Dirk at age 13 to be a perfect copy of his personality at that time, and has developed in its own fashion since then. It seems relatively benign of intent but it still has its own agenda, and is pretty cagey about disclosing what that agenda is.
  • VG Cats parodies the Metal Gear one here.


Web Original

  • Vic from Red vs. Blue serves as the liaison to both Red and Blue Command, although the Blood Gulch soldiers don't know that. His advice to both teams generally ranges from irrelevant through obvious to actively harmful.

  Vic: "Well, sucks to be you."


Western Animation

  • In the Kim Possible episode "Hidden Talents", Wade directs Kim and Ron to grab one of Professor Dementor's inventions, deliver it to a drop-off point, and leave without seeing the recipient. Kim finds this odd, but takes his word for it and carries out the mission. "Wade" is actually Dr. Drakken, hacking into the Kimmunicator line and using CGI to impersonate Wade.



It gets so lonely when you leave...

Notes

  1. "Overtime! Overtime! Overtime! Overtime! Overtime! Overtime! Overtime! Overtime! Overtime! Overtime! Overtime! Overtime!"
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