Created By: Indigo on June 15, 2008
Nuked

Clothes Make The Maniac

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The hero character gets some sort of apparel that seems to be great and useful, but it's really sentient, evil (or at least mischievous in the way Muggles would consider evil) and it wants to turn the hero to its own ends. To this end, it begins manipulating the hero's mind. He becomes less sunny and more grim. He becomes less playful and more violent. Eventually the suit and or its wearer begin referring to themselves as "we". At that point, the hero may very well realize there's a problem. Or the damage is done, and the hero's tipped over, and will have to be forcibly separated from his new item.

It needn't always be an article of clothing. It could be a gem or jewelry. In fact, they are often the worst offenders; they are ensorceled to whisper seductively to a prospective wearer, the better to get into position to take over the victim.

This trope has a fine lineage, sharing relations to Enemy Without, Evil Costume Switch, Clothes Make the Superman, and Evil Makeover. The difference is that the person who ends up the maniac in question started out a good guy and had no idea that the article of clothing would drive them evil/insane.

  • Spider-Man's black costume is sentient and evil. It used to take his body walkies and swinging around while he was unconscious, and it turned his personality dark. For that matter, it's true of all the symbionts from the Marvel Universe. Venom is kind of an Anti-Hero, but to my knowledge there isn't a symbiont suit that is nice and do-gooding.
    • In Spider-Man 2, Otto Octavius becomes Doctor Octopus as a direct result of the failsafe burning out protecting him from the influence of his sentient WALDOes.

  • Jenny's "human skin" on My Life as a Teenage Robot was fixated on being normal and beautiful and refused to let Jenny use her robot powers to save people when the situation warranted.

  • A police officer on Superman: The Animated Series is a milder example. He was given a combat suit to use that ended up addicting him. He shaved his head, the better to interface with it, began referring to himself as "we" and got violent when separated from the suit or thwarted from using it. It also made him territorial to the point of being willing to beat up on Superman.

  • Cash on Ben 10 Alien Force ended up with one, in the form of a cybernetic robot glove that could build itself a new body and compel its wearer to mindless violence.

  • The title artifact in The Mask and Son of the Mask is a partial subversion. It is an item of Loki, god of mischief. So when it takes pver the gentle dreamer Stanley Ipkiss, it turns him into a mostly-harmless cartoon maniac, who indulges in one act of implied horrifying violence. Dorian, however, is bitter and violent, and the Mask only magnifies those bad traits to worse.

  • The mother of Manny Rivera is recovering from an addiction to a pair of gloves she wore as the superheroine Plata Peligrosa, that turned her into an action junkie.
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • June 13, 2008
    arromdee
    The weird-looking gi that Akane had for one Ranma 1./2 story.
  • June 13, 2008
    UnknownTroper
    You might want to rename this, since there's already a trope called Enemy Without.
  • June 13, 2008
    Beaker
    Actually, this IS Enemy Without
  • June 13, 2008
    Scooter007
    ^^Not quite, this has an external cause.

    It's more like a twisted Evil Costume Switch, except instead of getting a new costume after you turn evil, you get a new costume that makes you evil.
  • June 13, 2008
    Citizen
    Then this is just an evil version of Clothes Make The Superman, so if this is tropable, use a "Clothes Make The [X]" title instead. Now, what's the best (well-known) superpowered counter to Superman?
  • June 13, 2008
    MrGuy
    Clothes Make Bizarro? Clothes Make The Doomsday? Clothes Make The Mxyzptlyk?

    FYI, that last one (and only that last one) was a joke.
  • June 13, 2008
    Cosmetor
    Parasite Apparel, perhaps?
  • June 13, 2008
    UnknownTroper
    Sort of this trope: I remember one of the Superman comics from the early '90s where some mooks were wearing flying superpowered combat suits that Luthor or Morgan Edge had given them, but the mooks couldn't control them the suits were endangering their lives and Superman had to save them.
  • June 13, 2008
    EponymousKid
    Clothes Make The Bizarro is pretty good (despite the fact that Bizarro himself is more misguided than evil)
  • June 13, 2008
    Puck
    I like Parasite Apparel. Would this include the Wallace and Gromit short The Other Trousers?
  • June 13, 2008
    Bisected8
    What about Clothes Make The Evil seeing as this is basically where Evil Makeover crosses with Clothes Make The Superman?
  • June 13, 2008
    Nyperold
  • June 13, 2008
    BobbyG
    Would the One Ring count?
  • June 14, 2008
    Indigo
    @Puck: I don't know about The Wrong Trousers but it would include Jimmy Neutron's sentient pants.

    @Bobby G: I'd say definitely, even though it's jewelry. Same basic idea.

    @Nyperold: I think Skin Of Evil makes me think of that Star Trek TNG episode wherein Yar dies.

    I'll skull over title changes in the morning. I need to go be unconscious now.
  • June 14, 2008
    CAD
    Going back a long way... I seem to remember a Goosebumps book that involved a Halloween mask fusing to a kid's face and whispering stuff in her ear.
  • June 14, 2008
    foxley
    Iron Man once had a suit of sentient armour that started murdering people.
  • June 15, 2008
    UnknownTroper
  • June 15, 2008
    BlackDragon
    There was an episode of Batman Beyond, where some kind of sentient AI program infected Batman's high-tech suit and took control of it - with Terry still inside it. Not sure if that qualifies.

    Same thing with the final episode of the old Iron Man cartoon - The Mandarin has spent several years trying to steal Stark's high-tech battlesuits, finally succeeds, and walks out of Stark Towers wearing the most advanced and powerful Iron Man suit ever designed, along with his Rings. Then he finds out that Iron Man can control his suits even when he's not IN them, and does a rather amusing "Why are you beating yourself up?" scene.

    That one, however, would only apply if this trope was more general for 'suit that conflicts with the wearer', rather than just 'evil suit', since in this case, it's an established villain in a 'good' suit.
  • June 15, 2008
    Indigo
    @Black Dragon: That'd just be an amusing inversion. I like.
  • June 15, 2008
    UnknownTroper
    Episode of Star Trek Voyager in which Tom Paris is taken over by a spaceship, involving making a special suit that increases the control it has over him?
  • June 15, 2008
    Cosmetor
  • June 15, 2008
    Indigo
    @Cosmetor, nice. But I think Clothes Make The Maniac, hmm?
  • June 15, 2008
    Cosmetor
    That implies that the trope is specifically about clothes that drive people insane. I think "monster" more accurately conveys that it's just about costumes that cause trouble.
  • June 15, 2008
    Indigo
    Ok, maybe split the difference, and call it Puppet Master Apparel?
  • June 15, 2008
    Cosmetor
    That doesn't appeal to me.
  • June 15, 2008
    Nate the Great
    Sentient Suit of Doom?
  • June 15, 2008
    UnknownTroper
  • June 15, 2008
    Indigo
  • June 15, 2008
    ShayCaron
    Hmm, tough choice on the names. I'm leaning toward Clothes Make The Maniac or Monster.
  • June 16, 2008
    UnknownTroper
    This seems like a more specific example of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity, polarized towards clothes.
  • June 16, 2008
    UnknownTroper
  • June 16, 2008
    Arivne
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=87tj1gex&trope=ClothesMakeTheManiac