Created By: Ryuuma on April 17, 2012 Last Edited By: Onitatsu on February 8, 2013

Researching the Monster

Scientists or researchers studying unnatural creatures.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Do We Have This One? Needs More Examples

Mankind has always been curious. So, in fiction it may happen that some people will react to the appearence of monsters, weird viruses or other paranormal entities with curiosity and fascination rather than fear. So much fascination, infact, that they'll be willing to study said weird creature and make experiments on it.

The researcher will be a Mad Scientist 9 times out of 10, and will usually get his funds from the army (if his plan is to make a living weapon out of the subject) or some othe shady, nebolous organization bent on Take Over the World. Of course, don't expect a good ending: most of the time, expecially if something virus-like is studied, things will end up in an outbreak, a Zombie Apocalypse or the monster on the loose, wreaking havoc and destruction in the nearest inhabitated place. In shorts, Gone Horribly Wrong.

There's no need to tell that this will be the hook for the hero to jump in, put an end to the menace and save the world as usual. Oh, the main researcher will almost always die, usually killed by his own subject of study. Or try to mutate itself. See also Mad Scientist. Sometimes, however, this is justified, as the research may provide a faster way to stop the monster, or a weakness of his.

Examples:

  • In One Piece when first met, Hogback claimed that he moved on Thriller Bark to study the zombies living there, claiming that they were creatures native to the island and that he wanted to learn a secret for eternal life from them. In reality he was actually creating the zombies under the orders of Gekko Moria, the true Arc Villain.
  • Aizen from Bleach, who probably studied the Hollows in order to find a way to merge them with the Shinigami. He ended up creating the Vizard and the Arrancar.
  • Return of the Living Dead 3. The U.S. Army is performing experiments on zombies to turn them into Super Soldiers.
  • The Intiative in Buffy the Vampire Slayer might count, but I'm not sure. They were a government organization studying demons and assorted supernatural creatures. The Mad Scientist was there (Maggie Walsh) as was one of the creatures (Adam) escaping.
  • Shadowrun. All of the Mega Corps study and experiment on Awakened (magical) creatures. Ares Macrotechnology goes a step further by experimenting on insect spirits, which are deadly parasites on humanity.
  • Resident Evil, in almost all the games, the Umbrella Corporation is behind the zombies/Plagas/[inser letter here]-virus.
  • In Cold Fear, you find out that the Russians were studying the Exocels and making experiments under the orders of Victor Kamsky. Their purpouse was to create a weapon, though Kamsky himself wanted to use the Exocels to mutate himself and his daughter into immortal monsters.
  • In TimeSplitters: Future Perfect in the levels "The Mansion of Madness" and "What Lies Beneath" you find scientist in a mansion full of zombie and undead freaks of all varieties, and later Jacob Crow himself basically states that all the zombies and monsters were his "specimens".
  • House of the Dead has Curien and his vast army of freaky undeads.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, your character will eventually run into the goons of the Mandarin, who's leading a reaserch on Cainites under Ming Xiao's orders. Unusually for this trope, you'll have to bring them down yourself.
  • About midway through the first Transformers film the Ranger unit is seen studying Scorponok's broken-off tail. Later, Agent Simmons reveals that virtually every major invention in the 20th century, from transistors to cars, came about by studying the frozen Megatron. Which runs into Artistic License History: regarding cars, the internal combustion engine was invented in Germany in the late 1800s.
  • Done in Stargate SG-1 as early as the second episode and multiple times thereafter. "The Enemy Within" had the NID try to take Teal'c back to Washington to study him and his symbiote. Part of the reason for going back to Chulak in "Bloodlines" was to try and steal a Goa'uld larva in hopes of gaining access to their Genetic Memory. "The Nox" had SG-1 go to the Nox planet to try and capture a creature with the power to become invisible. (It turns out it's the Nox with the power, not the critter.) "Bane" had the NID try to take Teal'c again, this time in hopes of studying the alien bug that was turning him into more of itself. And that's just the first three seasons.
  • An offhand remark by Admiral DuGaulle in the opening cinematic of Starcraft: Brood War reveals that the UED dissected zerg corpses prior to their invasion.
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • April 17, 2012
    chicagomel
    • The Intiative in Buffy The Vampire Slayer might count, but I'm not sure. They were a government organization studying demons and assorted supernatural creatures. The Mad Scientist was there (Maggie Walsh) as was one of the creatures (Adam) escaping.
  • April 18, 2012
    Arivne
    Should this be restricted to studying creatures that exist "naturally" (i.e. without human intervention), or include those that human beings created (e.g. the Resident Evil zombies)?

    Film

    Tabletop RPG
    • Shadowrun. All of the Mega Corps study and experiment on Awakened (magical) creatures. Ares Macrotechnology goes a step further by experimenting on insect spirits, which are deadly parasites on humanity.
  • April 18, 2012
    Ryuuma
    Both examples are welcome. After all, most of the examples up there are about the "type two", or man-made freaks.
  • April 18, 2012
    Bisected8
    More often than not, their intention is to make a Living Weapon.
  • April 18, 2012
    randomsurfer
    These are often the "they" in They Would Cut You Up.
  • April 21, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Would all those professors from the Pokemon games (the most famous being Professor Oak) count? It's stated that their job is studying Pokemon.
  • April 21, 2012
    aurora369
    In X-COM games, you can hire scientists to research alien corpses and live aliens you capture. In the first game, researching alien corpses gives only flavor text, and you only need to research live aliens to progress. The second game, Terror From The Deep, has a freaky counter-intuitive tech tree and you have to research both. Subverted in that X-COM is a heroic organization created to save Earth and the research is, in game terms, perfectly safe.
  • April 21, 2012
    Ekuran
    ^^You bring up a good point. Under the laconic, that what be a good example, but the definition makes it seem like this trope is only used negatively. I suggest the OP also point out the neutral/benevolent versions as well.
  • April 21, 2012
    dalek955
    • The SCP Foundation studies all the anomalous items they have in order to better contain them, including the life-forms.
  • April 22, 2012
    Mauri
    Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 Uprising: When playing the Yuriko Campaign. It might be a bystander product of Dr Shimadas experimentation with Psionics but not only did they Create the monsters (Izumi and Yuriko)but also they researched the monster and cloned the monster, Given that the Psionic Decimator is powered by Yurikos clones, also after the fall of Tokyo in the war they use the clones for the experiments for supplying the needs on the grounds and to test measures in the case of a break in or another attempt to break out.
  • April 25, 2012
    Ryuuma
    ^^^^ Well, that's embarassing. Honestly, when I made this, I had just finished Cold Fear and read about Resident Evil Revelations, so I had mainly "bad examples" in mind dealing with dangerous creatures and/or experiments. The idea of Pokemon never crossed my mind until now. Nevertheless, if you think that it can be a valid example, then I suppose we could count also the benefical ones.
  • April 26, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Starship Troopers. At several points in the movie Federation scientists are shown experimenting on captured Bugs.

    Literature
    • Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Masters. After the humans manage to capture some of the title parasites, they start experimenting on them. The research eventually leads to a way to kill the parasites without harming their human hosts.
  • April 26, 2012
    peccantis
    May I suggest to switch the Monster in the title to Creature? Would lessen the chance of being mistaken with the Complete Monster type of "monster".
  • April 26, 2012
    SharleeD
    • Dr. Van Richten and his successors, the Weathermay-Foxgrove twins, study the various monstrous creatures of Ravenloft to better defeat them, and publish their findings to aid their fellow monster-hunters.

    • In Splash, Madison the mermaid is captured and studied by scientists, then rescued by her boyfriend and another scientist who has a Heel Face Turn and realizes she deserves her freedom.
  • April 26, 2012
    NightNymph
    This may need more details...

  • April 27, 2012
    Alvin
    This may not count, but Comic Books: DC hero Elongated Man was curious about sideshow 'India Rubber Men', figured out a chemical was responsible, isolated it, and dosed himself to get powers.
  • April 27, 2012
    TBeholder

    ^^^^ You found the perfect way to make it almost completely meaningless.
  • April 27, 2012
    SharleeD
    ^^^ That was one of the offspring, not Gizmo, IIRC, and it was a high school science teacher rather than a scientist. In Gremlins II, Gizmo does briefly wind up in a genetics lab, where identical twin scientists and Christopher Lee try to identify him.
  • April 27, 2012
    NightNymph
    ^ Thank you. It has been a long time since I've seen the movie, and an offspring does make more sense and explain why the gremlins would remember the experience. And I do now remember a schoolroom setting for the tests. I will edit my example accordingly.
  • April 27, 2012
    DracMonster
    Would He Who Studies Monsters work as a title? This seems like it has a good bit in common with He Who Fights Monsters
  • May 5, 2012
    Ryuuma
    ^^ Hmh, well, that one could work as well I guess. If enough people vote for that title, then I'll change it.
  • December 9, 2012
    Onitatsu
    Bump
  • December 9, 2012
    Goldfritha
    He Who Studies Monsters is a good title.
  • December 9, 2012
    Mauri
    Still even if the name is an option picking the title in itself but there are examples to put in, organize and make sure it gets properly worked around.
  • December 9, 2012
    Chabal2
    • Half the SCP Foundation's work revolves around studying the properties of the stuff they find.
    • Lab Of The Dead puts you in the role of a scientist trying to study zombies.
  • December 9, 2012
    StarSword
    Often justified, as it may provide a faster way to stop the monster.

    Film:
    • About midway through the first Transformers film the Ranger unit is seen studying Scorponok's broken-off tail. Later, Agent Simmons reveals that virtually every major invention in the 20th century, from transistors to cars, came about by studying the frozen Megatron. Which runs into Artistic License History: regarding cars, the internal combustion engine was invented in Germany in the late 1800s.

    Live Action TV:
    • Done in Stargate SG 1 as early as the second episode and multiple times thereafter. "The Enemy Within" had the NID try to take Teal'c back to Washington to study him and his symbiote. Part of the reason for going back to Chulak in "Bloodlines" was to try and steal a Goa'uld larva in hopes of gaining access to their Genetic Memory. "The Nox" had SG-1 go to the Nox planet to try and capture a creature with the power to become invisible. (It turns out it's the Nox with the power, not the critter.) "Bane" had the NID try to take Teal'c again, this time in hopes of studying the alien bug that was turning him into more of itself. And that's just the first three seasons.

    Video Games:
    • An offhand remark by Admiral DuGaulle in the opening cinematic of Starcraft: Brood War reveals that the UED dissected zerg corpses prior to their invasion.
  • December 14, 2012
    KmegaGuy
    Live Action TV: In The Walking Dead, There is Milton Mamet who is a citizen of Woodbury. With the permission of The Governor, he performs experiments on Walkers to study their behavioral patterns. He studied Michonne's pet zombie walkers and makes a discovery that after have their Jaws and arms, they lose their will to feed and become docile. He doesn't seem to be doing these experiments for any malicious intent but has theory that Walkers still retain some of their memories what they used to be.
  • February 8, 2013
    Onitatsu
    Bump.
  • February 8, 2013
    StarSword

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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