In Doctor Who (2005) episode The Idiot's Lantern, Rose and lots of people were sucked by TV to remove their faces.

Interestingly, it wasn't my first encounter with such an idea. Long before new Doctor Who came into existence, I watched this in an Indian horror TV show Ssshhhh... Koi Hai on Star Plus (India). In it, a Reality Show used to suck people inside.

Other than this, there's an old Indian remix song Chod Do Aanchal Zamana Kya Kahega featuring the same thing. While this isn't a Sci-Fi or Fantasy work, it can still be used to show that the idea is a widespread thing.

Which Sci-Fi (or Fantasy) work introduced the idea of TV harming people preternaturally (outside of the normal sense of things)?

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    I don’t think science-fiction introduced the idea. Every new technology has been accompanied by howls of fear and confusion from the general populace. – Paul D. Waite Mar 16 '15 at 18:53
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    Well, Poltergeist goes back to 1982. A Scientific Fact was released in 1979. – FuzzyBoots Mar 16 '15 at 19:03
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    Are you talking about any sort of "harm", including TV disturbing our mental faculties? Or are you interested more specifically in the sort of magical-seeming direct physical influences seen in Doctor Who and Aahat, where TV can reach out and attack you, pull you into itself, etc.? If the latter, Videodrome (1983) would be another early example. – Hypnosifl Mar 16 '15 at 19:12
  • @PaulD.Waite Ofcourse, I am talking on a SFF site. Sorry for the confusion. Edited the question. – user931 Mar 16 '15 at 19:20
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    @SeanDuggan Ooh preternaturally is way better than supernaturally, good work chaps. – Paul D. Waite Mar 17 '15 at 14:19

The 1942 short story "The Twonky" by "Lewis Padgett" (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore), which originally appeared in Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1942 (available at the Internet Archive), was about a sentient radio-phonograph; however, in the movie adaptation The Twonky (1953), it was changed to a TV:

After seeing his wife off on her trip, Kerry West, a philosophy teacher at a small-town college, goes inside his home to contemplate his new purchase – a television set. Sitting down in his office, he places a cigarette in his mouth and is about to light it when a beam shoots from the television screen lighting it for him. Absentmindedly unaware of what has taken place, it is only when the television subsequently lights his pipe that West realizes that his television is behaving abnormally.

West soon discovers that the television can walk and perform a variety of functions, including dishwashing, vacuuming, and card-playing. When the television deliveryman returns to settle the bill, the television materializes copies of a five-dollar bill in order to provide payment. Yet the television soon exhibits other, more controlling traits, permitting West only a single cup of coffee and breaking West’s classical music records in favor of military marches to which it dances. After West demonstrates the television to his friend Coach Trout, the coach declares the television set to be a “twonky”, the word he used as a child to label the inexplicable.

Trout soon concludes that the Twonky is a robot committed to serving West. When he tests his hypothesis by attempting to kick West, the Twonky paralyzes his leg. After tending to the coach, West attempts to write a lecture on the role of individualism in art, but the Twonky hits him with beams that alter his thoughts and censors his reading. When West attempts to give his lecture the next day, he finds himself unable to do more than ramble on about trivialities. Frustrated, West goes to the store from which his wife had ordered the television and demands that they take it back or exchange it.

Meanwhile, at West’s house, the coach has summoned members of the college's football team and ordered them to destroy the Twonky. West arrives with the television deliveryman and his replacement set, only to find the players passed out in front of the machine. When West wakes them up, they appear to be in a hypnotic state mumbling that they have “no complaints,” a condition the Twonky soon inflicts on the deliveryman as well. Upstairs, Trout theorizes that the Twonky is from a future “super state” that uses such machines to control the population, which the Twonky soon demonstrates by walking into the room and altering his mind so that he no longer believes there to be a problem. As the now-fixed Trout attempts to leave, police storm into the house in response to a call made by the device seeking female companionship for West, followed by Treasury men tracking down the $5 bills manufactured by the device. When the law enforcement officers attempt to arrest West, though, the Twonky places all of them in a trance, and they leave without complaint.

Frustrated, West escapes the house and returns drunk, only to have the Twonky return him to sobriety with a ray. When his wife returns to see a visiting bill collector driven from their home by the machine, West decides to take action. Luring the device into his car, he attempts to crash it by a variety of means but is frustrated by the Twonky’s ability to control the vehicle. Spotting a vehicle parked alongside the road, West pulls over and abandons his car, hitching a ride from the other driver, an elderly Englishwoman. His relief at having escaped is soon negated by the woman’s erratic driving, and by the discovery that the Twonky was able to hide in the trunk. When the Twonky attempts to stop the woman’s reckless driving, it precipitates a crash that destroys the device for good.


The Twonky (1942) is about a future "TV", sent back to our time, which serves to re-educate the people of its time (basically reprogramming their minds). Bad Things happen to its new owners in our time.

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    Does this include harming people? – user931 Mar 16 '15 at 19:38
  • Yeah, it'll be counted. :) Thanks for adding the last line. – user931 Mar 16 '15 at 19:40
  • It was a fair comment after I thought about it :) I'm just too familiar with the story. – Organic Marble Mar 16 '15 at 19:41
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    In the 1942 short story the twonky was a radio, not a TV. It became a TV in the movie. – user14111 Mar 16 '15 at 19:42


The Monkees, season 2, episode 26 titled "Mijacogeo" (1968) featured a televised surreal (American) football-headed alien creature called a Frodis to hypnotize TV viewers and Take Over the World.


Until we get an earlier case, I'm going to suggest A Scientific Fact by Joe Haldeman, published in 1979. It's about human memory running out of storage space thanks to TV.

  • Updated the question. Here, TV or TV program needs to act as sentient. – user931 Mar 16 '15 at 19:26

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