The only thing that sustains one through life is the consciousness of the immense inferiority of everybody else, and this is a feeling that I have always cultivated.
When there is a group of characters who are all just totally weird, either in general or in a particular scenario, the Only Sane Man is the only one who, well, isn't.
Picture this: Alice is a Psycho for Hire
, Bob is a Cloud Cuckoolander
, Doug is an Empty Shell
, and Emily is a Mad Scientist
. Looks like your standard Dysfunction Junction
. But then you have Gardenia. Gardenia is actually a very well-adjusted individual. She reacts with appropriate horror to things like Alice's finger collection and the crimes against nature that Emily calls pets. Gardenia is the Only Sane Woman.
The other variant is where the other characters aren't always
that weird, but everyone save one character is acting weird in a particular situation. For example, they might regard something absurd as Serious Business
, with the Only Sane Man the only one who notices how crazy that is.
This latter variant also includes a standard comedy piece: something absolutely insane is going on
, but only one person notices (or cares). There are usually three stages, with a rough correspondence to the Five Stages of Grief
: Bewilderment (Shock and Anger), trying to get others to see or admit the weirdness (Bargaining and Denial), and bitter sarcasm
In the more extreme cases, the poor soul may be trapped in a World Gone Mad
and/or wind up Giving Up On Logic
in frustration. Sometimes, though, they are Not So Above It All
. A character may also think
of themselves as the Only Sane Man without proper justification.
A Too Dumb to Fool
character may be the Only Sane Man, although he is likely to be less worked up about the failures of others to see than in most cases.
The Only Sane Man is often relied upon
as the Only Sane Employee
. This character often ends up a Knight in Sour Armor
. For a more horrific version, see Through the Eyes of Madness
. For the sci-fi version, the Ignored Expert
is your go-to guy. The comedy version will often end up being either a Butt Monkey
or a Chew Toy
. If all the other characters are otherwise sane, and really should see something, but only one guy does, he's an Einstein Sue
. The Nietzsche Wannabe
is a villain who views himself this way
. See also Cassandra Truth
, Surrounded by Idiots
, and Surrounded by Smart People
; contrast with the Unfazed Everyman
. May temporarily overlap with What the Hell, Hero?
If several characters take turns being the Only Sane Man, they're playing with a Sanity Ball
. If it's a two-person show, with one person playing the Only Sane Man to the other's wackiness, it's a Straight Man and Wise Guy
scenario. This trope is the savvy half of a Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl
duo, one third of a Comic Trio
, and part of the Four-Man Band
may well feel like this (or be this!) in a world that doesn't follow his thinking. Insanity is, after all, in the eye of the beholder, and The Wonka
often has quite valid points.