Created By: fishsicles on October 24, 2011 Last Edited By: fishsicles on June 30, 2013

Insanity Has Advantages

A character who is effective because of their eccentricity.

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Based on this Trope Repair Shop regarding Crazy Awesome.

Needs More Examples: the appropriate ones on Crazy Awesome need to be brought over (was planning to do this myself, but the homework is eating time. If someone else wants to, go right ahead.)

Needs a Better Description: More or less copied over from Crazy Awesome, with a little put in to make it seem more objective, still needs work

Up for Grabs, Rolling Updates

Someone for whom Insanity Has Advantages is someone who's completely nuts, in an amusing way, and is effective at what (s)he does because of that craziness. In real life (s)he'd get fired from whatever job (s)he has/would have, or even arrested—at the very least, the things (s)he does just plain wouldn't work. But somehow, (s)he manages to be effective.

What separates this character from being a plain old Cloud Cuckoolander, Bunny-Ears Lawyer and the like is that it is because of his/her extravagant madness that this character can function in the worst.

For example: let's say The Chosen One's best friend, Ed Smith, wears a traffic cone on his head. Said traffic cone is spray painted metallic purple and has a grinning chimpanzee's face painted on the front. And Ed insists that you call it Sheldon. Yet despite this, Ed is very loyal to The Chosen One and can hold his own against the army of Mooks. So far, he seems like your average Bunny-Ears Lawyer, right? The traffic cone is an eccentric trait if there ever was one, but it's not necessarily why he's liked by the audience. Now suppose about ten episodes into the series, the Big Bad decides to drop a bomb on the Hero's city, and only Ed can do something to stop it. If Ed were to catch the bomb in his hand then kick it back to the Big Bad's jet, thus destroying them both, he's not this trope, he's a Badass Bunny-Ears Lawyer.

If, instead, Ed pushes an inconspicuous button on the underside of Sheldon's base, and a jack-in-the-box chicken head springs out of the top and shoots Frickin' Laser Beams out of its eyes that disintegrate both the bomb and the jet in the space of five seconds, then for Ed Smith (and Sheldon), Insanity Has Advantages.

In other words, it is because of Ed's quirkiness that he is an effective cast member. He would not be as effective (or, indeed, the same character) without the eccentricities. There can't be one without the other.

Note that this is distinct from Power Born of Madness, although there is certainly overlap; a character can fall into this trope by simply being effective due to their quirks but lacking any derived supernatural powers, while a character with Power Born of Madness can be hindered by their insanity but compensate with their superhuman abilities.


Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • October 24, 2011
    There's a science fiction story that I can't remember the name of. Maybe someone here can.

    In our world Twenty Minutes Into The Future, the vice president of the world government announces to the president that he is taking over. The VP has figured out that the government consists of crazy people. The Finance Minister has bi-polar disorder, and the other members have various other disorders. So the VP has created a leadership school where he has trained his people to take over.

    After announcing this to the president, the president stops his current activity of investigating the stuffing of his office couch to gently point out that the VP has missed a lot of how the world is really run. The Finance Minister was picked because he was bi-polar, the world runs on a six month rise and fall financial cycle. The other government members are also picked so that their insanities match what is needed to run the world.

    The president regrets that the VP has reached the point where it has become necessary to send the VP and his leadership students to an asylum, for they are too sane (they seek order and power, like most "sane" politicians in today's world) to be allowed to be free, indeed, they could instigate well ordered violence to overthrow the system.
  • October 25, 2011
    This seems a bit like Crazy Awesome to me.

    Possibly expand this to include things like Insane Troll Logic being correct and weaponising Black Bug Rooms; essentially using the insanity itself to best effect as opposed to being an Improbable Weapon User cros Bunny Ears Lawyer.

    • Possibly The Master in the Doctor Who episode "The End Of Time". The drumbeat in his head was the reason he kicked off his insane plan in the first place. The plan itself (turning every human into an exact duplicate of The Master) is probably this trope again.

    Possibly Weaponised Insanity could be an alternate name, as the current description seems a bit too much like Crazy Awesome.
  • October 25, 2011
    The Punisher once manages to escape pheromone-based Mind Control because used as he is to living on instinct he can pull off Not Distracted By The Sexy. The villain's explanation involved something about his living in his reptilian complex.
  • October 25, 2011
  • October 25, 2011
  • October 25, 2011
    @Ninjat126: It is Crazy Awesome. That trope's broken and this is the attempt at fixing it.
  • October 25, 2011
    May involve a Disability Immunity.
  • October 25, 2011
    Sounds like it might be a supertrope to Power Born Of Madness. There's certainly a lot of overlap. I'll try to move the examples from Crazy Awesome that fits here later.
  • October 25, 2011
    @captainpat: PBOM is when being insane actually grants someone supernatural powers. This is about their perspective and actions so it would probably be the supertrope, if anything.

    Humanity Is Insane is when this trope is humanity's hat relative to other sentiant species.
  • October 25, 2011
    Power Born Of Madness is specifically regarding superpowers, and is something of a sister trope; characters with Power Born Of Madness could be made less effective by the insanity itself, only to have it compensated for by the supernatural abilities. This was discussed in the Repair Shop thread I linked in the YKTTW.
  • October 25, 2011
    ^ Nowhere in Power Born Of Madness do it require that insanity grant superpowers or supernatural powers. The Example section has badass normals like the punisher and Rorschach.
  • October 25, 2011
  • October 28, 2011
    Possibly Parker in Seven Days. He's the only person who ever successfully piloted the Chronosphere, and before he was forced into becoming a Chrononaut he was in an insane asylum.
  • December 17, 2011
  • December 18, 2011
    So it's the supertrope for Power Born Of Madness etc?
  • December 18, 2011
    Comic Books

    • The Joker. Your Mileage May Vary on whether he is truly insane or if he pretends to be. Regardless, he is well aware of the advantages of being insane, and has successfully used them to make himself feared, even among supervillains!
  • December 18, 2011
    One time the Joker escaped from a locked cell by figuring out that he could trip the electronic lock of his cell door with a sausage. This veers into "can do anything if it's funny" territory.
  • December 18, 2011
    Real Life: The wonderful book Touched With Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison argues that artistic ability is the upshot of bipolar disorder for people who have it.
  • March 12, 2012
    Needs loving
  • March 12, 2012
    A psychologist, who developed hypergraphia during a bout of Post-partum Mania, mention how some people hate the term "disorder" because it automatically makes it sound like something bad, when a few people can kind of enjoy it. She mentions how prolific authors like Asimov couldn't have done his prolific amounts of literature without his hypergraphia, and she even suggested (in jest) about writing a book about making your disorder work for you. She suggested that bipolar disorders can help writers (since they can write during their manic episodes and edit themselves during their depressive moments,) and that, if you job is inspecting parts for the Space Shuttle, being a little obsessive compulsive might just be a good thing.
  • March 13, 2012
    Hmm. Something interesting about titles: Crazy Awesome seems to emphasize when someone is awesome (ie badass) as a result of being crazy (when it's not being straight-up misused), while this title seems to emphasize more the Joker's brand of crazy, crazy leading to unpredictability.
  • March 13, 2012
    Insane people are sometimes portrayed as hard to predict because with their psychosis they are prone to doing both reasonable and unreasonable things.
  • March 13, 2012
    Ok, I see the stuff from TRS and I withdraw my objection. Apparently Crazy Awesome is being split. That said, Insanity Has Advantages is a terrible snowclone, and as the coiner of the original trope name, I object.
  • March 13, 2012
    About the Bipolar example above;IMO it should probably be reworded to not imply Bipolar people are "insane" if included. That could be offensive to many.
  • June 30, 2013
    ^ Good point.
  • June 30, 2013
    It's probably a good idea for this to be No Real Life Examples Please. For the same reason that it's wiki policy we not call a real life person "evil" we wouldn't want to use an example that calls/implies a real life person is "insane".
  • June 30, 2013
    Really having trouble seeing the distinction between this and Power Born Of Madness.
  • June 30, 2013
    The description of the is one needs a lot of help. Much of the misuse occurs because the clear definition is buried, and most of the description is taken up by a a huge Example As Thesis and a bunch of detailed explanation of how this trope isn't some other trope.
  • June 30, 2013
    Okay, if I'm understanding this correctly, then this example fits:

    Western Animation
    • The Looney Tunes Show has the episode "Devil Dog" where Bugs Bunny adopts a Tasmanian Devil as a pet, and brings the beast to a dog show. This starts a panic, and the police arrive to subdue the beast and seize it from Bugs. Though Daffy Duck loathes the Tasmanian Devil, he exploits his insane anarchist character to pose as the devil, and lure the police away. Bugs uses Daffy's distraction to slip away with his pet unnoticed.