- "Clicky clicky goes the sticky."
- —Agent July Flame, unpublished mission
A neuralyzer is a gizmo from Men in Black that erases memories. It is used by the PPC to make canon characters forget Suefics and extra-canonical anything. It is also used by the Department of Internal Operations to make agents forget the DIO's existence. The device is about the size and shape of a pen, and emits a flash of light which dazzles and dazes anyone who sees it.
Operation & Effects
The neuralyzer is simple to use. Dials on the device can be set for the amount of time to erase from a canon's mind (from seconds to years). A button triggers the neuralyzer flash. Agents using them must remember to close their eyes or wear sunglasses, or else they will erase their own memories, too. After triggering the neuralyzer, canons should be given a more-or-less reasonable explanation for where they are and what they were just doing.
Canons who have been recently neuralyzed will be dazed and very suggestible and cooperative. They are very likely to go along with any order given. The effect wears off in seconds to minutes, depending on the individual. Neuralyzation may leave a small amount of deja vu or a vague sense of unease, but the memories themselves are erased.
Repeated neuralyzation may cause brain damage, but this is not a problem for canon characters (see next section).
Effect on the Continuum
To return a canon to its proper configuration, it is necessary to remove enough uncanonical influences for canon to reassert itself. While the major offenders are usually Mary Sues and Sue-wraiths, other creatures and objects may still be contaminating the continuum—everything from geographical aberrations to a single uncanonical bullet from a Mary Sue's gun. Skills and memories are among these contaminants, and a neuralyzer can be used to remove them.
Originally, use of the neuralyzer was not needed, as the canon would tend to reassert itself and reset things to their proper state. It still does this, to a degree, but in recent years the various Word Worlds have become so badly battered and stretched by the influx of Sues and other canon-damaging influences that with a very few exceptions, canon characters have come to require neuralyzation for things to fall back into their proper alignment.
When canon snaps back to its proper state, all evidence of the badfic is erased; the only remnants are items, memories, and notes taken by PPC agents (who of course take these with them when they leave the continuum). When the canon returns to its original state, the Mary Sue has not just been destroyed—she literally never existed, and nothing that happened under her sway ever actually happened (except to the PPC agents). This is why repeated neuralyzation is safe for canon characters: when canon returns, it erases not just the events the characters have forgotten, but the effects of the neuralyzation used to make them forget. (It is also the reason why characters repeatedly subjected to badfic trauma do not suffer the effects of repressed memories; those events never actually happened.)
Agents in canons where magic (or sufficiently advanced technology) is widespread may instead choose to use a canonical method to fulfill the same purpose as the neuralyzer. Examples include Memory Charms from the Harry Potter universe, the Suggestion spell from the D&D canon (and associated worlds), Buffyverse Wicca spells, Force-related abilities from Star Wars, and memory-modification equipment in many sci-fi continua where memories can be uploaded to the brain. Depending on how bad the distortion is, a relatively minor effect can be enough to jar the canons back into their proper roles.
Limitations on canonical neuralyzer substitutes include needing to be in the proper disguise, learn the appropriate skill, or obtain the requisite technology; but because these methods are in-canon, they may be somewhat more effective.
Immunity and Resistance
In order to be a valid target for a neuralyzer, a creature must have eyes and be capable of sight on some part of the visible-light spectrum. Averting one's eyes from the neuralyzer flash has only a partially protective effect, but most reflected neuralyzer flashes do not have the effect of the original flash.
Many insectoid species, such as the cockroach-like aliens in the Men in Black continuum, are immune to neuralyzer flashes. This may be because of the unique structure of insects' eyes.
Agents facing neuralyzer-immune canons may use other methods of memory-modification, or may attempt to coax the canon to snap back despite the memories in the immune canon's mind by neuralyzing all but the immune and removing as many un-canon influences as possible.
Occasionally, badfic trauma is so extensive that neuralyzation does not work. FicPsych handles these cases.
The Mass Neuralyzer was seen in Men in Black: The Series and Men in Black II, where it was attached to the Statue of Liberty and used to neuralyze many people at once. As an addition to a PPC TARDIS, it can be used to neuralyze a lot of canon characters at once—such as the population of an entire planet. This piece of kit is mentioned as part of Cycle Theory and is referenced in Huinesoron's work.