Created By: MokonaZero on March 23, 2013 Last Edited By: MokonaZero on April 12, 2013
Troped

Mask Of Sanity

A crazy character hides their insanity very well.

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Some people laugh as a sign of mental instability. Others speak in a Creepy Monotone or openly show signs of being violent.

Then there's the character that shows almost no signs of being crazy....at least not publicly.

A character that feigns sanity, quite simply is the kind of person that can maintain their facade in most social situations but is completely insane on the inside.

The Trope Namer comes from a book called The Mask Of Sanity, which describes how people that aren't stable can blend in with society. Yandere and Cute and Psycho are subtropes, when people may act perfectly normal until certain trigger is pressed, then they quickkly turn into murderous psychopaths.

Compare and contrast with Stepford Smiler type C. Often overlaps with Reluctant Psycho. Contrast with Obfuscating Insanity. See also Beneath the Mask.


!Examples Anime and Manga
  • Solf J Kimblee of Fullmetal Alchemist maintains his polite and empathic facade despite being a sociopath that is heavily implied to have pretended to be sane in order to join the military.
  • Death Note
    • Light Yagami goes insane by the second episode yet still manages to blend in with society. By the end of the series, he's defeated and everyone figures out just how crazy he was.
    • Mikami also counts. There are quite a few scenes in which you see him completely calm, and controlled....until you see just how crazy he is in the warehouse scene.
  • Sosuke Aizen of Bleach was hiding is true intentions for centuries by the time he reveals himself everyone is surprised by how insane he turns out to be.
  • Yuno from Future Diary only appears to be an innocent girl, but reveals that she's an Axe Crazy sociopath early in the series.
  • Asakura from Haruhi Suzumiya only seems like a calm, kind student, but turns out to be flat out insane.
Literature Film
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Throughout the film Judge Doom appears somewhat malevolent but not blatantly so. Near the end he's revealed to be a Toon who's even more crazy than most Toons.
  • Battle Royale: Kiriyama sits quietly in the background, but starts killing students once the game starts because he signed up for The Program.

Music Tabletop Games
  • Call of Cthulhu. Cthulhu Mythos cultists with a Sanity of zero usually act in a completely insane or otherwise irrational manner. However, powerful cultists (such as the leaders) are usually able to act in a sane manner when dealing with sane (normal) people in order to conceal their true nature.
Video Games
  • Hazama of BlazBlue is an odd example, considering how often he laughs maniacally you'd be surprised how calm and stable he can appear.
  • A Malkavian (the incurably-mad vampire type) character in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines ingeniously hides their split personality by pretending to be twins, namely, Theresa and Jeanette Voermann.
  • Zant from Zelda: Twilight Princess. He seems like a calm, cold, mildly angry villain throughout the whole game. But before you fight him he takes off his mask as well as his controlled demeanor. Cue an enraged verbal exchange with Midna, and one of the most spastically moving and sounding bosses in the franchise.

Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • March 23, 2013
    Koveras
    • A Malkavian (the incurably-mad vampire type) character in Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines ingeniously hides their split personality by pretending to be twins, namely, Theresa and Jeanette Voermann.
  • March 24, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Call Of Cthulhu. Cthulhu Mythos cultists with a Sanity of zero usually act in a completely insane or otherwise irrational manner. However, powerful cultists (such as the leaders) are usually able to act in a sane manner when dealing with sane (normal) people in order to conceal their true nature.
  • March 25, 2013
    DRCEQ
    So, if Obfuscating Insanity is acting like you're insane to fool others even though you are sane, then this is the Inverted Trope where you act sane to fool others even though you're actually crazy?
  • March 25, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Basically, yes.
  • March 25, 2013
    TwoGunAngel
    I've often heard this expressed as The Mask Of Sanity, and it features a lot when dealing with psychopaths and sociopaths.
  • March 25, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ That would be a great title for this.
  • March 26, 2013
    Arivne
    Or just Mask Of Sanity, to make it easier to use in a sentence.
  • March 26, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Cool. The new name does sound better. Thanks!
  • March 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • March 26, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Meh. Mask Of Sanity works better, since, like TwoGunAngel said, it's actually an existing term.
  • March 26, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Yeah, I know Obfuscating sounds more obvious, but the new name is a bit more clever.
  • March 27, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Oh, I'm thinking of launching soon today. Anything else?
  • March 27, 2013
    peccantis
    Compare and contrast with Stepford Smiler.

    (Could even be its subtrope and we probably should discuss this.)

    Also, at two hats you might want to wait some more. Four days is super short YKKTW run for a new trope.
  • March 27, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Corrected a typo in the laconic.
  • March 27, 2013
    MokonaZero
    ^^ Okay. The last trope I launched ended up going only for about 4 days since there weren't many people adding examples or even replying despite the zero editing.

    Since there's still more work to be done here, I'll hold off on the launching until this is perfect.
  • March 27, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Literature
  • March 27, 2013
    reub2000
    I've often heard this expressed as The Mask Of Sanity, and it features a lot when dealing with psychopaths and sociopaths.

    Possibly because it's the title of a significant book on the subject. Not sure if the term had predated this book.
  • March 27, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Ah, so that's the Trope Namer.
  • March 27, 2013
    zizoloziz
    Stepford Smiler is likely a subtrope of this, and shouldn't be ignored.
  • March 27, 2013
    MokonaZero
  • March 27, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Music
  • March 27, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    I think this overlaps more with Reluctant Psycho than it does with The Mad Hatter.
  • March 28, 2013
    hevendor717
    Zant from Zelda: Twilight Princess. He seems like a calm, cold, mildly angry villain throughout the whole game. But before you fight him he takes off his mask as well as his controlled demeanor. Cue an enraged verbal exchange with Midna, and one of the most spastically moving and sounding bosses in the franchise.
  • March 28, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    The murderer of And Then There Were None is a calm rational person in public, but an Ax Crazy Large Ham once he arrives to kill the last victim.
  • March 29, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Throughout the film Judge Doom appears somewhat malevolent but not blatantly so. Near the end he's revealed to be a Toon who's even more crazy than most Toons.
  • April 1, 2013
    unluckykillerchibi
    Makishima Shougo as well as two of the people he turned into Serial Killers Seem like fairly normal nice people till you realize you have a knife/needle to your throat.
  • April 2, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    This is one interpretation of the title character's actions in Hamlet.
  • April 2, 2013
    clankomatic
    Would Peter Sellers' character--Chauncey Gardner--in the movie Being There fit this trope? He is not exactly wacky crazy, just very simple. But no one perceives how far from normal he is.
  • April 3, 2013
    Damr1990
    Yandere and Cute and Psycho are subtropes, when people may act perfectly normal until certain trigger is pressed, then they quickkly turn into murderous psychopats
  • April 12, 2013
    MokonaZero
    ^^ Hm, that sounds like it'd be a Downplayed version of this.
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