Herr Doktor

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"As bright as any Southerner could be, if Albert Einstein tawked lahk thayat, theah wouldn’t be no bomb. ‘Folks, ah wanna tell yew 'bout newkleer fishin'...’”

In TV Land, a doctor or scientist is roughly 75% likely to be German or Austrian, complete with thick accent and often an entitled legacy. Increase to 98% for Mad Scientists. We can probably thank Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein and Wernher von Braun. Many top-notch Jewish scientists from Germany, Austria, and Poland fled Nazi persecution in the pre-war and early-war period. Many more War Criminals attempted to flee to western Germany in the final months of the war to avoid capture and trial (for the various amoral deeds they had done For Science! and for personal gain). This allowed the USA to threaten them with acceptance of eastern European extradition requests (for trial) and offer them free passage to and employment in US government projects (Operation Paperclip). These German-Jewish refugees and ex-Nazis were prominent in many scientific fields during this period, especially The Manhattan Project and US Space Programme. Several wartime theories and inventions designed to aid the war effort, for good or ill, eventually changed how people lived when they were mass-manufactured and sold to the public. This cemented the longstanding trope of foreign geniuses being boons to welcoming societies.

It's worth noting that Central Europe was a scientific and economic powerhouse in the early 20th century, dominating the physics field. More than a few German scientists were "rehabilitated" by the US strategic rocket and space programs (and a handful by the Soviets), to the point of each side complaining "they have more Germans than we do!"note  For a slightly safer stereotype, consider using a Swede or Norwegian instead, with the same unintelligible theories and outrrageous akksent!

See also All Psychology Is Freudian, which has caused every psychologist to be portrayed as Austrian, and Stupid Jetpack Hitler for when this crosses over with Those Wacky Nazis. If the Nazi scientist has Supernatural Aid, see Ghostapo.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Captain America Comics #1 (1941), young Steve Rogers is given his super-soldier powers by the treatment Dr. Josef Reinstein. In 1981 a story by Roger Stern and John Byrne revealed that "Reinstein's" actual name was Abraham Erskine, but apparently without nullifying earlier stories that he had fled from Nazi Germany. (A Scottish name like "Erskine" would not be impossible for a German, as e. g. a number of Jacobite families settled in Germany since the beginning of the 18th century and stayed there).
  • Tintin's recurring nemesis Dr. J. W. Müller (called Mull-Pasha in The Red Sea Sharks) started out as a good example. In his first appearance in The Black Island he is a psychiatrist who uses his private clinic as a cover for his criminal activities.
    • Two of the scientists from the (Nazi-occupation era) Tintin comic book The Shooting Star are "Nordic" scientists, the Swede Erik Björgenskjöld and the German Otto Schulze, but they say little or nothing, so you can't really tell their accents. Most of the members of the expedition however come from "Latin" countries - a Spaniard, a Portuguese and a Frenchmannote . The leader of the expedition, Professor Phostle (Calys in the original French), who comes complete with Einstein Hair, is a French-speaking Belgian. They all have huge foreheads.
    • The engineer Frank Wolff in the two Moon albums may not speak with ah heavy accent, but was inspired by Klaus Fuchs (whose surname means "fox").
    • Flight 714 has Dr. Krollspell working for the Big Bad; he is very much implied to be an old Nazi scientist.
  • Dr. Heinrich Megala from Captain Atom.
  • Baron Werner von Blitzschlag in Avengers: The Initiative, a former Nazi scientist who was specifically added in reference to Wernher von Braun.
  • The evil Dr. Von Richter from Cybersix is an escaped Nazi living in Argentina.
  • In Mastermen #1, the Sivana of Earth-10 is this trope played to the hilt, complete with Funetik Aksent (since English is meant to be a dead language on that Earth), Scary Shiny Glasses, and a black leather trenchcoat and hat.

    Commercials 

    Film 
  • Peter Sellers seems attached to this trope - in What's New Pussycat? he plays a mad, lecherous Viennese psychiatrist. In Lolita, as Clare Quilty, he impersonates a psychiatrist and uses a heavy Germanic accent.
  • This trope might just have been named for one of Sam Jaffe's character's first lines in the 1950s Film Noir heist movie The Asphalt Jungle:
    Dr Riedenschneider: Maybe you've heard of me. The Professor? Or Herr Doktor, maybe.
  • Subverted in the Austin Powers movies. Although Frau Farbissina refers to Dr. Evil as "Herr Doktor", he is not of German or Austrian ancestry (though she is). He was raised by Belgians, though, and they border the Germans...
  • Almost averted by Dr. Emmet Brown of Back to the Future trilogy. As we find out in the third movie, he has German ancestry, the old family name was Von Braun.
  • Dr. Erskine from Captain America: The First Avenger is a benevolent example, working for the Allies on their supersoldier project. His Evil Counterpart Dr. Zola fits the usual portrayal, as he works for the Nazis and then HYDRA, but he actually expresses some regret about what the Red Skull has him do. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he makes a point to correct this, he's actually Swiss. It's also shown that he is in fact genuinely evil, and gleefully tortured/experimented on American soldiers.
  • Dead Alive uses this trope for a one-off scene. The protagonist needs sedatives to deal with a zombie or two. He visits a bald, drooling, sadistic-looking taxidermist in a lab coat whose absurd accent is excused by Rule of Funny. The taxidermist claims not to be a doctor and that he fled the Latvian occupation, when "We were hunted like animals!" When he turns from his shelf, he snags his lab coat on something, and through the tear his Nazi armband is clearly visible.
  • Dr. Strangelove: The eponymous Dr. Strangelove is an ex-Nazi Mad Scientist who became a U.S. operative after the war. He has trouble shaking his old ways, to the point that he adresses the President (played by the same actor) with "Mein Fuehrer". With elements of Morally Ambiguous Doctorate.
  • Dr. Elsa Schneider in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Though more strictly a historian, her knowledge of the Holy Grail’s lore (and seduction of the Jones boys) is crucial to aiding the Nazis in discovering its location. In some respects, she also borrows from the related Mad Scientist trope because of her irrational obsession with possessing the grail, which leads to her untimely demise. During a Literal Cliffhanger, she hangs from Indy with one hand and uses the other to reach for the grail, which she had dropped moments earlier. Indy begs her to stop, but she keeps trying as she can almost grasp it. Indy loses his grip on her gloved hand and she falls to her death.
  • Marathon Man, although this one is a dentist.
  • Professor Max Krassman from The Muppet Movie, played by Mel Brooks in full Alter Kocker mode.
    When a German scientist tells you to hold on to your hat, it's not casual conversation. HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT! HAT! HOLD! Good!
  • Drs. Gottlieb and Geizler, the Kaiju-researching duo from Pacific Rim, were both born in Germany if not raised there.
  • The Road To Wellville's Dr. Spizvogel, unt seins Handhabung Therapeutic!
  • Dr. Scott from the The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
    • Interestingly enough, Dr. Frank N. Furter himself originally had a German accent in the early days of the stage show. For reasons unknown, the idea was quickly dropped.
  • Subverted in the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie. After Watson is injured in a bomb blast, his girlfriend/soon-to-be fiance Mary goes to him in the hospital, as he is attended by a very German-sounding doctor. However, Mary figures out that the doctor is actually Holmes in disguise.
    • It is actually a much stronger subversion as Holmes' impersonation sounds very French and not German.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow has a passel of German and Austrian Mad Scientists.
  • Ashley Kafka from the Spider-Man comics is reimagined as Dr. Kafka in The Amazing Spiderman 2, a madman speaking in German-ish accent who experimented on Electro.
  • Professor Meisenbach in Thank You For Smoking. Implied to be a former Nazi scientist.
  • In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the Decepticon medic, Scalpel, is also known as "Ze Doktor" (and is in fact called only that during the film himself). Of course, weird accents aren't anything new for Transformers.
  • Dr. Carl Mortner, Zorin's personal physician (und kreator?) in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill.
  • The "Doctor" (Pleasance) in Watch Out, We're Mad!, a German-born Freudian psychologist who is an extreme parody of this trope.
  • The Wolfman (2010) has a very terrifying sequence set in a European asylum apparently staffed exclusively by this stereotype.
  • Dr. Frederick Frankenstein of Young Frankenstein. He's even called "Herr Doktor" by Frau Blucher.
  • Zonad features one of these as a parody of 50s paranoia movies. The film is set in rural Ireland and it's never explained what the doctor is actually doing there.

    Literature 
  • Frankenstein is the doctor's name and may be the trope codifier (although in the novel he is Swiss and doesn't actually receive his doctorate).
  • In Dracula, Professor Van Helsing is actually Dutch, but constantly peppers his English with German. (Yes, Bram Stoker did, in fact, do the research — German was a lingua franca in that area of Europe.)
    • Also, Dutch is a Germanic language closely related to German.
    • And German was the language of science in the 19th century—a (non-German) scientist tossing around German words would be like a musician casually using Italian words.
  • In Unseen Academicals, Mister Nutt does psychotherapy on himself, using a thick Uberwaldian accent when in the doctor persona.
  • Comes up as a sort of Discussed Trope in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Unnatural History. Fitz is annoyed by the Doctor pressuring him to have fun and mentally refers to him as Herr Doctor. There's probably some connection to the fact that Fitz is himself half-German and was picked on for it a lot growing up during World War II.
  • Dr. Martin Hesselius from Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's In a Glass Darkly, the first Occult Detective of literature, is a German physician.
  • The second Anno Dracula book, The Bloody Red Baron, being a Deconstruction Crossover has a number of German Mad Scientists from film and literature, including Professor ten Brinken from the 1911 German novel Alraune and Dr. Caligari from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
  • Justified in Suspicion by Friedrich Dürrenmatt by the fact that the story is set in Switzerland. Dr. Nehle and probably Dr. Edith Marlok are German. Dr. Fritz Emmenberger and Dr. Samuel Hungertobel are Swiss.
  • In The Cosmic Express, the titular teleportation device was recently invented (in 2432) by "Ludwig Von der Valls, the German physicist."
  • MARZENA loves to play with this trope.
    • We have narrator Anika From Bremen, which is really an anglicised version of Anika Von Bremen, although it's unclear whether she is a doctor or not, her description of all things biological and neurological goes so deep that she might as well be. And also bonus points for her seldom bilingual slips.
    • Subverted with Dr. Yoan, he isn't really from Germany or Austria but from Switzerland, and his accent isn't particularly atrocious either.
    • Averted with Private Thomas, he's neither German nor a Doctor, although his name might have been based on Dr. Thomas Starzl, the first doctor to successfully perform a liver transplantation.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 
  • "Ich bin der Doktor Eisenbarth" (I am Dr. Ironbeard) is a satirical German folk song that inverts and lampoons the stereotype (with a tip o' the lampshade). The verses consist of Herr Doktor revealing what a completely unqualified quack he is. The song was based on a real-life German quack, Johann Andreas Eisenbarth.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In a variation, Dr. Hans Zarkov of Flash Gordon is Polish. The original comic never really played up his accent, but every film and TV adaptation has given him a thick Polish accent (except the 2000s Sci-Fi Channel version, which made him American). Most kid viewers probably thought it was a German accent, because of the prevalence of this trope.

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Crimson Skies had a German scientist to rescue.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons Ravenloft campaign setting, featuring as it did expies of many classic horror characters, of course featured some of these:
    • Dr. Rudolph van Richten, expy of Bram Stoker's Abraham van Helsing.
    • Dr. Victor Mordenheim, expy of Victor Frankenstein and creator of Adam, expy of, well, you know....
  • Twilight Struggle invokes this with the "Captured Nazi Scientists" card, which is playable by either player and grants one free move on the Space Race track.

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • Dr. Fred Edison of Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle may express this trope.
  • Sasha Nein from Psychonauts, of German (or possibly Austrian) descent. He mainly stays in his lab, and performs psychic experiments that can sometimes scare the Whispering Rock campers. He's a pretty benign case, being unwilling to continue experiments if they threaten to harm the kids, and his Mad Scientist tendencies often take a backseat to the superspy elements of his personality.
    Sasha: "If I could get [Raz] into my lab, I'm sure he could withstand more than the others."
  • The Medic from Team Fortress 2. Fellow Medics will even say "Thank you, Herr Doctor!" He had a medical license long ago, but due to an incident involving somehow stealing a patient's skeleton, he lost it. The details in-between are fuzzy, but according to a hidden page that used to be on the website, apparently he faked his death and somehow ended up joining the team, still continuing to practice medicine, and inventing the Medigun. Confirmed not to be a Nazi, but still not entirely sympathetic.
    • The "Loose Canon" comic reveals that the original BLU Medic was the Sigmund Freud.
  • If you crashed in the old fight simulator Stunt Island, a German doctor would promise to have you "Patched up and flying again, tomorrow!"
  • Warship Gunner 2 had Doctor Braun, a female scientist who lends the Wilkians a submarine to perform covert ops attacks.
  • Nazi Zombies - Doctor Richtofen, who was partially responsible for the zombies.
  • BioShock's Dr. Tenenbaum. Not only was she a former Nazi scientist (and of Jewish descent even!) she's responsible for the research that created the Little Sisters. However she's trying to fix that.
    • Played straight with Dr. Steinman, trying to be "The Picasso of Plastic Surgery".
  • Dr. Wily from the Mega Man games.
  • Die Anstalt (The Asylum) - Originally German, of course, but when they translate it into to English, will the previous psychiatrist lose his cool German accent? NIEMALS!!!
  • League of Legends has Heimerdinger, a Gadgeteer Genius whose name definitely invokes this trope.
  • Professor Von Kripelspac from Conker's Bad Fur Day, a weasel scientist that sits in a floating chair.
  • Dr. Stanislaus Braun from Fallout 3, who is the overseer of Vault 112. He keeps the vault dwellers trapped in a virtual reality simulator, keeping them there forever, for his own amusement.
    • Also, Dr. Zimmer, a scientist from the Commonwealth who tasks you with tracking down his escaped android.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has Dr. Ada Straus, a caravan medic who shows an obvious lack of competence ("I need sterile medical supplies", etc.) and is the only Mojave doctor to sell both addictive chems and med. supplies at the same time. A straighter example is Dr. Klein, the head of the Think Tank in Old World Blues.
  • Klingmann from Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within. "People refer to me as Herr Doktor Klingmann here."
    • Klingmann is actually kind of an aversion of the trope. Although he does have the title, he has barely a trace of an accent. Despite his infatuation with the hunting club philosophy, he's not insane either - just unscrupulous enough to trade a few of his wolves.
  • Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars has Herr Hagenmeyer.
  • The Norwegian Professor Ingvar Johanssen of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines was the one responsible for digging up the Ankaran Sarcophagus. His accent is outrageous, though surprisingly realisticnote , for a one-shot stereotype character.
  • The Cybran leader from Supreme Commander, Dr. Gustaf Brackman has suspiciously Germanic name (Swedish actually) although he speaks clear English.
  • Romanian Mad Scientist Dr. Ort-Meyer from the Hitman series, who sounds like a mix of Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price.
  • Several of the scientists in the Half-Life series (Dr. Kleiner, Dr. Rosenberg, Dr. Keller) have German-sounding names, and one is Scandinavian (Dr. Magnusson).
  • The XCOM: Enemy Unknown remake has Dr. Vahlen as your organization's head of R&D. She has the accent and speaks to the doomed German recon trooper you meet in the tutorial mission.
  • Similarly, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified recruited a former Nazi to study Elerium. He even says that Carter could talk to the OSS upon questioning of his nationality.
  • Technician Johann Strauss in Quake IV, named after the Austrian composer.
  • The Mad Doctor in the Epic Mickey games.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has Wilhelm Voigt, known primarily by his colleagues as "Doktor".

    Web Comics 
  • El Goonish Shive lampshades and parodies it with "Stereotypical German Scientist Dr. Germahn". Initially the host of a 'questions from the readers' sub-strip, he has since popped up frequently in odd places, even as the Q&A section has been mostly taken over by his Dumb Ditzy Blonde Assistant Amanda.
  • Professor Zweistein fills in this role in The FAN
  • Girl Genius revels in this trope. Then again, in a comic about Mad Science in a setting where German is the lingua franca, it's par for the course. The only ones who speak with anything resembling the stereotypical accent are the Super Soldiers, though.
  • Scandinavia and the World: Apparently Austria is a Mad Scientist. He has shown more Deadpan Snarker behavior than anything this far.
  • Follower: The character bio of the head geneticist of Project Cottontail, Dr. Bernhard Tolio, mentions that he was born in Germany.
  • Gus from Legend of Maxx is a Goblin Tinkerer who makes gadgets and speaks in a heavy German-ish accent.

    Web Original 
  • Steve And Carlos Both Doktor Vandike and Ralph.
  • The Dr. Kafka example above (see Film) is mocked in the Screen Junkies / CinemaSins crossover video "Everything Wrong With The Amazing Spiderman 2".
    Dr. Kafka: (in German accent) I'm Dr. Kafka.
    Epic Voice Guy: (also in German accent) Zee stereotypical German scientist, ja?

    Western Animation 
  • Walt Disney's Ludwig von Drake (sometimes psychologist, sometimes Omnidisciplinary Scientist, depending on the comic) comes from Vienna. Otherwise, there's not much emphasis on his German/Austrian origin, but he's got a very obvious accent in his cartoons.
  • Animaniacs: Dr. Otto Scratchansniff, the Warners' "p-sychiatrist".
  • Dr Krieger from Archer, although technically he is not german, his last name and the fact that he is implied to be one of The Boys from Brazil make him one.
  • Spoofed in Bounty Hamster, where the recurring scientist character is named Professor Notgerman and has a Scottish accent.
  • Despite being a race of cyborgs from another planet, the Gobots from Challenge Of The Go Bots had two of these: Guardian Baron von Joy and Renegade Herr Fiend.
  • Dr. Von Richter from Cybersix, although unlike the original comics, the TV series does not specifically identify him as an escaped Nazi.
  • In sharp contrast to his original portrayal, Baron Silas Greenback is portrayed this way in the 2010s Danger Mouse series. Furthermore, he is even given the Germanic sounding name of Baron Silas "von" Greenback.
  • Dexter's Laboratory - Dexter is a Mad Scientist with a German accent — made more blatant (and funny) since none of his family has any accent or gives any indication they have any German ancestry.
  • Dr. Ketzernote , a genius geneticist in Exo Squad. In a twist, he is not working for the local Adolf Hitler Expy but rather against him. Not that it makes him any more sympathetic.
  • Inspector Gadget's second season has Dr. Noodleman in "Gadget's Gadgets"; and the Arc Villain Professor Dummkopf in "Gadget in Minimadness", "The Incredible Shrinking Gadget", and "Gadget Meets the Grappler".
  • Countess von Verminstrasser from the Invader Zim episode "Lice".
  • Dr. Scientist from Jimmy Two-Shoes.
  • Professor Dementor from Kim Possible, as indicated by his LOUD GERMAN-ACCENTED SPEAKING!
  • Doctor Jacques von Hamsterviel, the Big Bad of Lilo & Stitch: The Series.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Dr. Oro Myicin, psychiatrist from the cartoon Hare Brush, who convinces Bugs Bunny he is really Elmer J. Fudd, Millionaire using psychotropic drugs of some kind.
    • Years later, in Dr. Devil and Mr. Hare, Bugs Bunny himself, when posing as a psychiatrist to the Tasmanian Devil, does zo mit ein Zherrman akzent, ya.
  • Dr. Wily, from the American Mega Man cartoon from The '90s.
  • Men in Black: In "The Mine, Mine, Mine Syndrome", the alien scientist Dr. Bjork speaks with a German accent.
  • Phineas and Ferb has Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz note  who actually never graduated — there's a song about it: "I Must Impress My Professor" — and has a brother who's in local politics and lacks the accent.
    • Well, sort of. Mayor Roger Doofenshmirtz does have a slight lilt, but it's not nearly as pronounced as his brother's.
  • The Parking Lot 51 scientist pitties from UFM: Unidentified Flying Mater, as well as "Dr. Aschleppwagen"note  (Mater's disguise) from the same short, which he uses to gain access to the base and save Mator. A real pitty sees Mater:
    Pitty: So, herr doktor, what does "dad gum" mean?
    Mater: (fake German accent) Ze "dad gum" means... (drops accent, saves Mator) ...let's get outta here!
  • Strudel, Gadgeteer Genius dachshund of The Hub's Pound Puppies.
  • One of Megabyte's henchmen in ReBoot is known only as Herr Doctor.
  • Present in one episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show where a bus crash leaves the pair in critical condition, forcing said doctor to operate with the remaining parts which leaves the asthma hound chihuaha and red cat sown together into one mismatched hybrid. Despite having traits common to a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate, it can be assumed the doctor (like Franken Fran) is simply doing his job to keep his patients alive, even if he has to resort to nonstandard, questionably extreme practices, such as urgently demanding his assistant knock Ren back into unconsciousness with a mallet when he regains consciousness in the midst of surgery.
  • In an episode of Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko takes Spunky to a pet psychiatrist who is an obvious Expy of Sigmund Freud. The psychiatrist falls in love with the dirty mop Spunky had fallen in love with.
  • Recurring psychiatrist Dr.Lipschitz on Rugrats.
  • On Spider-Man: The Animated Series, both Doctor Octopus and Doctor Doom had Germanic accents. (This made a little more sense for Doom, possibly, whose origins are canonically in Europe.)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has the episode "Blue Shadow Virus", with its main villain Dr Nuvo Vindi being an alien scientist with a German accent.
  • Dr. Paradigm of Street Sharks has some vaguely European accent. For no reason ever given.
  • Mr. Lizard the Wizard on Tennessee Tuxedo And His Tales was a German-accented lizard...who was a wizard.
  • Dr. Archeville in The Transformers episodes The Ultimate Doom and Countdown to Extinction.
  • The plastic surgeon in The Venture Bros..

    Real Life 
  • Heinz Wolff
  • Apparently, most doctors in Israel were German Jews some decades ago, when Ephraim Kishon wrote a story using this trope.
  • Subverted with Karl Teodor von und zu Guttenberg, Anette Schavan, Silvana Koch Mehrin, Veronica Saß and Uwe Brinkmann (they cheated in their dissertations and lost their "Doktor"-titles because of that. Shavan did get an honorary degree afterwards, so she can keep her "Frau Doktor" title, even if it becomes just an "Frau Doktor h.c.").

Alternative Title(s): German Scientist, Herr Doctor

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HerrDoktor