Literature / Memoirs of an Invisible Man

"I want my molecules back!"
Nick Halloway

Nick Halloway was a fairly ordinary stock analyst until he fell asleep in the building of Magnascopic Laboratories, a company for which he represented shareholders. The building is seemingly destroyed, but people wonder why there's no debris. It turns out that due to a Freak Lab Accident, the entire building and everything inside — including Nick — has been turned invisible.

Desperately hunted by amoral CIA agent David Jenkins, Nick seeks to build a new life while avoiding becoming a scientific guinea pig stuck in a lab until he dies... or forcibly recruited into being a black ops specialist.

Originally a 1987 Science Fiction novel by H. F. Saint, it was adapted into a 1992 film directed by John Carpenter, and starring Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah. The book analyzed what effects invisibility would have on an average person who kept his morality, and the movie tried to do the same. The book was a small success; the movie was considerably less well-received.

Tropes used in the novel:

  • Attempted Rape: Richard, a friend of Nick's friend George, forces himself on Nick's Romantic Interest, Alice, at one point. Nick, present but unknown to either party at the time, throws Richard off.
  • Blessed with Suck: Nick desperately wants to find a way to become visible again, although he gives up when the scientist who might be able to figure out how to make that happen gets assassinated.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Nick eventually figures out a way to make his lack of the usual invisiblity Required Secondary Powers work for him. When Jenkins corners him at a construction site, Jenkins sees where Nick brushed against some dust. When the view goes to where Nick really is, Nick is holding his jacket to the side, and throws it off the building to fake suicide.
  • Despair Event Horizon: At the end, Nick reaches this, tired of being unable to live normally and of being hunted by the CIA, and he jumps to his death from a construction site. Except he faked it, figuring that nobody would bother to look for him if they thought he was dead.
  • Driven to Suicide: At the climax at the construction site, when Jenkins has Nick cornered, Nick makes it clear that he'd rather jump off the building than be forced to work as a black ops assassin. He's actually faking it, as noted above under Cursed with Awesome.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Nick desperately searches for a way to become a normal, visible person again. Even after he learns that it's impossible, he does his best to make it so that he can live as normal of a life as possible.
  • Invisible Stomach, Visible Food: Applies to Nick. In the movie, there are several scenes in which Nick chews gum, drinks liquid, or otherwise ingests food and we see it hovering in air. In fact, the first time he notices is when he "sees" himself in the mirror, only to find digesting food. We hear the sound of vomiting and the food arches into the air and off-screen. He ends up switching to an all-clear foods diet so that he can't see the half-eaten food in his stomach. Later, as he attempts to hide from the Big Bad, he refuses to eat so that he remains invisible.
  • Invisible Streaker: Averted-Nick has one outfit that was rendered invisible along with him, so he can wear that when he wants to remain invisible.
  • Invisibility: The plot revolves around what happens when a metaphorically invisible man accidentally becomes literally invisible.
  • Miraculous Malfunction: It's implied that someone spilling a cup of coffee on a control panel resulted in uncontrolled but permanent invisibility, in a lab whose research had nothing to do with invisibility.
  • Personality Powers: It's even noted when the CIA goes over his file: "He was invisible even before he became invisible."
  • Power Incontinence: Nick's issue with his invisibility is that he's stuck that way, and he wants at least the ability to turn it off.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Part of Nick's problem is that he has only some of these related to invisibility. His food isn't actually invisible until some time after he digests; he vomits the first time he sees himself in the mirror as it's digesting. The only thing that he can put on that's similarly invisible is the outfit he wore when rendered invisible; any dust that lands on him is visible. He can still see just fine, however.
  • See the Invisible: Usually the footprint method, though the "something all over" method is used intentionally a few times (for example, when Nick and Alice go out to eat).

Tropes used only in the movie:

  • The Film of the Book
  • Visible Invisibility: Switches between types 1 and 5, though mirrors and camera footage always work as type 5. Additionally, in one scene where Nick is invisible on screen he gets rained on, and we see the shimmery outline of raindrops on him.

Alternative Title(s): Memoirs Of An Invisible Man