open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Dragon Ball Z generally implies that the more insane the villain, the more powerful. The series went from the generally sane, but evil Frieza, to Cell, to the unbelievably psychotic being that is Majin Buu.
- Higurashi: When They Cry is full of this. In the plot's defense, it does try to justify it via Hate Plague, and one of these people — Keiichi — actually does have some violent background before coming into contact with said Hate Plague. Only Satoko doesn't get violent when it is activated, but she knocks Keiichi off a bridge in one continuity and kills both Shmion and herself in a PS2-only one. And she kills her parents. Of course, the main symptom of Hinamizawa syndrome is extreme paranoia, and when you think somebody is about to kill you, what do you do?
- Farfarello of Weiß Kreuz falls under this, particularly in back story. As a child, he snapped and killed his whole family, despite apparently being a perfectly normal kid before hand.
- Chiri Kitsu of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei started out as mostly a Control Freak / Neat Freak, but over time becomes defined by violent psychopathy and is presented as a Serial Killer.
- Taken to the extreme in Soul Eater. Insanity, fear, madness, etc. is basically this universe's Virus. You can be infected with insanity, and being insane means that you have the urge to hurt things. By killing humans and eating their souls (which is what insane people do, apparently), one can actually become an Eldritch Abomination. This is how the series' Big Bad Asura became the Big Bad— he was a nervous person who succumbed to his fear, and took the life of an innocent human and consumed their soul in order to gain power. (Ironically enough, consuming the soul of a corrupted, insane person in this series has no negative side effects whatsoever.)
- Andrea Cavalcanti/Benedetto in Gankutsuou is an effortlessly charming fop who happens to also be a wild-eyed rapist with daddy issues. Best demonstrated when he tries to rape his fiance Eugenie and suddenly attacks Haydee.
- Alois Trancy in the second season of Black Butler. He's basically Ciel behaving horrifically and in the first episode he stabs out one of his maidservants eyes with sadistic amusement for simply looking at him.
- It warrants mentioning that he stabs out her eye... with his fingers. Why? Because he's just that crazy.
- Hidan of Naruto, though his "insanity" takes the form of membership in a cult that worships a god of murder and powers that combine violent self-mutilation with immortality and sympathetic magic. Since all the major characters are ninja, violence is a given.
- A few characters in Elfen Lied, namely Lucy and Mariko. And the cruel kids from Lucy's past who were clearly psychopaths who beat Lucy's dog to death while making her watch just because they didn't like her.
- Batman villains are widely regarded as among the most psychotic and violent in all of comics, and thus are serial representatives and offenders of this trope.
- This results in part because of Characterization Marches On. The original Batman villains were master-criminals typical of pulp villains with no real motivations. The first Joker dressed in white paint and didn't have silly gag-based antics. After the 50s, where comics were subject to Bowdlerization, Joker became a harmless villain with gag based antics celebrated in the Adam West show. When Dennis O'Neil, Steve Engelhart and other writers sought to make Joker menacing again, they had to justify the gag-based elements which had become The Artifact as well as other motif-themed criminals such as The Riddler which became famous thanks to the Batman TV Series. Their solution was Hollywood Psych, and they added Arkham Asylum into the mix. Since then, all of Batman's villains were described not merely as supervillains but as psychopaths.
- Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns partly plays this straight and partly parodies it, by showing how absurd Batman's conflict with supervillains become when made a discourse to the popular psychology and sociological analysis of prime time cable news. Popular psychologists and careerist shrinks like Bart Wolper tries to cure the likes of Two Face via plastic surgery that repairs the bad-half of the face. It turns out to be the wrong half, the real Harvey Dent was the scarred out part of his face, representing his guilt and self-loathing. The book also shows Joker closer to the original Bill Finger characterization as a joyless psychopath who speaks in a Creepy Monotone, although it does this by playing up the Foe Yay element to whole new heights. Batman himself in Frank Miller's books is shown to be somewhat of a Functional Madmen most of the times.
- Alan Moore wrote The Killing Joke in part to reconcile all the elements of the earlier Joker origins with his new characterization as a psychopath, in the process he raised the question whether Joker can be truly held accountable for his actions on account of his mental illness, whether he can potentially be cured. While the "one bad day" element of Joker and the book's depiction of him as Batman's Shadow Archetype has endured, Moore felt that introducing realistic psychology is pointless with the function that Joker, as an entertaining supervillain, is supposed to perform.
- Two-Face wasn't evil until one side of his face was ruined and (depending on the version) his insanity either began or became much worse. In fact, most Batman villains tend to fall into this category... with the exception (usually) of Humpty Dumpty, who saved Batgirl from falling off a building, fixed her dislocated shoulder, and went quietly to the asylum.
- Deadpool becomes more unhinged than usual during the Black Box story arc of Cable & Deadpool. Even though he can't remember it later, it is revealed that he murdered a terrorist who was living on Cable's island. When asked why he did it, he replies that he doesn't know. Since his mind is more out-of-whack than usual, he just killed for no reason.
- However, Deadpool was pointlessly violent since long before he was portrayed as insane.
- Watchmen plays with this in many ways, by averting both Hollywood Psych and Single-Issue Psychology:
- In the book, there are very few supervillains and the ones who were, like Moloch, quit a long time ago when the first super-powered hero Dr. Manhattan arrived on the scene. The heroes however are full of neuroses. The Comedian is The Sociopath, a highly amoral Blood Knight who tries to justify his vision by repeatedly telling idealistic do-gooder heroes that At Least I Admit It. The backstory reveals a more complex, guilty, lonely and pathetic individual underneath that cynical facade.
- Rorscharch is a Sociopathic Hero, described by Moore as "Batman without the excuses". He lives alone, prowls the streets and bars, believes in all kinds of Conspiracy Theories and sees himself as the Only Sane Man. He was already violent and unstable even before a certain dog incident, but after that he becomes even more violent, in his own words explaining that he had been merely soft before because he let his victims live.
- Malcolm Long a sympathetic and realistic psychologist character is himself hurt and struck by Rorscharch's grim Black and White Morality after hearing about his Despair Event Horizon. What makes Rorscharch different is that he's not as consistent as he believes as seen in the end when he opposes Adrian Veidt's Utopia Justifies the Means atrocity using the same arguments that Rorscharch used in justifying Harry Truman dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- Nite Owl is more sane than other costumed heroes, but he does admit to Laurie that the costumes do give grounds to act out harmless Casual Kink as seen when he and Laurie have sex in costumes after they couldn't make out in civilian identities.
- When Harry Osborn became the second Green Goblin, he was not under influence of the Goblin Serum (though it was later retconned that his father did gave him some), but merely under the influence of drugs and insanity.
- Darryl Cunningham's comic book Psychiatric Tales is an attempt to demystify mental illnesses and change their perception in media and in society. This trope is played straight in chapter "Antisocial Personality Disorder" (also known as "Mad Or Bad" on Darryl's blog). Other stories are actually an inversion, stating that people suffering from mental illnesses are more likely to be a victim of crime or harm themselves rather then anyone else.
- Zig-Zagged in The Adventures of Tintin, A plot point in one of the biggest story arcs (Cigars of the Pharaoh - Blue Lotus) is the Rajijah juice, a poison which causes madness. Several characters are driven mad by this poison, and the most common symptoms are just that they become a total Cloud Cuckoo Lander. Only two characters driven mad by this show any violent tendencies - Professor Sarcophagus, who was influenced by a Fakir after having already gone mad, and Didi, who encourages people to find the way, and says he'll cut off their head. However, he is eventually cured, though not much is known about the other victims of the Rajijah Juice.
- In the last arc of Runaways, Klara suffers a panic attack and lashes out at her teammates, resulting in the destruction of the team's house. To be fair, most of the damage to the house comes not from her personally, but from the plants that she summons (over which her control depends on her emotional state), but she herself punches and kicks Nico several times, causing the latter to resort to Mind Rape to force her to calm down.
- The Vision (2015)
- A series of traumas undermine Virginia's mental health, and by the middle of the series, it's clear that something is psychologically wrong with her. She later kills Victor out of revenge for Victor's accidental murder of her son, then savagely kills Sparky as part of a magical formula.
- Victor Mancha has a vibranium addiction, which has had a detrimental effect on his mental health. Victor accidentally kills his nephew Vin while high on vibranium, despite vibranium supposedly being a painkiller for robots.
- Bird plays with this concept. While many patients are dangerous, the danger has no direct correlation to insanity. Sveta is very violent, but perfectly sane, as it is entirely her power's doing. Burnscar is somewhat less violent, but also has mental and emotional problems to match. Taylor is initially very hesitant to use her powers in an effort to avert this in herself.
- Bag Enders features Frodo. Even Gandalf is scared of him.
- Diamond, on OC from Akatsuki Kitten: Phoenix Corporation Overhaul. The difference is that she is very aware of it, and came to terms with it long ago. If pressed for an explanation other than insanity, she'll blame her extreme bloodlust on her family history: she used to be Renesmee Carlie Cullen.
- Jason, the hockey-mask-wearing psycho from the Friday the 13th films.
- Most slasher movie villains in general are either this or some supernatural thing that's returned for revenge.
- The Silence of the Lambs: Hannibal Lecter. Jame Gumb. Frances Dolarhyde. Jacob Garrett Hobbes. Then again, when part of the premise of a series is that it's about catching serial killers...
- Jack Torrence goes violently, and effectively, insane via cabin fever and alcoholism in The Shining, hunting down his terrified family with an axe. This is somewhat justified in the Stephen King novel, as being insane puts him under the hotel's control; that might also be true in the movie, though Stanley Kubrick deliberately leaves it vague.
- In the TV miniseries remake Stephen King's The Shining, Jack (played by Steven Weber) is more clearly a nasty person only when he's drunk, an aspect King felt Kubrick's film lacked (in Nicholson's portrayal, Jack seems a bit scary even before he falls off the wagon). Problem is, Weber isn't nearly as frightening. As Kubrick said, when some of his actors complained he was pushing them into unrealistic, over-the-top performances, "Real is good. Interesting is better."
- In Love Actually, Laura Linney's character's brother is in a mental hospital. We only see and hear from him briefly, and it seems he has some kind of paranoid disorder (he thinks the nurses are trying to kill him and wants to hire either the Pope or Jon Bon Jovi to perform an exorcism for him). When she visits him, he hauls off and tries to hit her without warning and for no reason. A hospital worker rushes in to stop him and then he's fine again.
- In Miracle on 34th Street, Doris worries that because Kris Kringle believes he's Santa Claus, he'll eventually become violent.
- Subverted, in that not only is he harmless, well...
- Psycho: Norman Bates seems harmlessly socially awkward at first, but he is gradually revealed to be a dissociating murderer.
- The Jackal in Thir13en Ghosts is a terrifying vision of a man in a straight jacket and head cage, a ghost that screams as it approaches people. Played straight and then subverted. The bonus features on the DVD reveal he was a rapist, but deathly afraid of fulfilling this trope again, committing himself to a Bedlam House and willfully choosing to stay there when it burned down, dying in the fire. All of his visible wounds are self-inflicted.
- In Asylum: Blackout, most of the inmates seem to be non-violent. Unfortunately, the ones who aren't are more than enough to dispatch the skeleton crew of workers.
- In On Dangerous Ground, Danny Marlden is mentally unstable; therefore, he kills on any given whim.
- The Ruling Class: Subverted in the first half of the film with Jack Gurney, who downplays the disturbing implications of insanity and is the kind of funny, harmless madman who wouldn't hurt a fly and is victimised by his own family. In the second half it is their violent assault on his happy world that turns him into a violent maniac.
- Discussed in the Hurog duology. Ward notes that his Obfuscating Stupidity, which involved talking in a loud voice and slapping people on the back with a bit too much strength, frightened his brother. In an aversion, Ward's mother, a drug addict and Cloud Cuckoolander, is completely harmless.
- All of the insane asylum residents in Kathryn Hulme's The Nun's Story embody this trope to some degree. The Archangel Gabriel attempts to rape Sister Luke, and another inmate, who is never caught, murders one of the nuns. Even the Abbess (who, much to Sister Luke's surprise, turns out to have been an actual abbess), turns violent when thwarted. It is implied that this is a special asylum for the dangerously insane.
- Mr Rochester's wife Bertha in Jane Eyre often snuck out from her room and tried to kill Mr Rochester a few times. She even bit and stabbed her visiting brother. And it culminated when she tried to set Jane's room on fire (not knowing Jane had ran away two months earlier), leading to the whole house burning down and her own Karmic Death.
- In The Wheel of Time Series it is stated that any man to use magic will eventually be turned insane and then they will kill everyone around them. Heck the world was destroyed by 101 men who saved the world by sealing the Big Bad who then cursed the source of magic drove them insane and caused them to rip the world apart in a horrid frenzy of madness and killing.
- It's not so much that they're violent as the fact that they're crazy and have the power to make their insane delusions reality. While one male channeler may or may not be a problem, over a hundred of them deciding that peaches are poisonous, or that mountains belong there, or that they're 100% certain a hurricane/earthquake is coming, and then using their powers to make these things happen, leads to a lot of death and destruction.
- In The Wereling Trilogy, Mercy is a complete psycho who is violent by werewolf standards. According to Kate, this is because of excessive inbreed (which is also the only reason that they want Kate to mate with a newly-turned werewolf, to stabilize things). Kate's brother is just as bad. After Tom kills him, Kate shows how he kept the wallets of his victims as trophies.
- In Harry Potter, Bellatrix Lestrange, Voldemort, and the Gaunts are all utterly insane, presumably from inbreeding. All of them (Merope excluded) openly attack people for reasons including amusement. In a subversion, Order of the Phoenix shows us Alice Longbottom, who is so insane that she can't recognize her own son, but just stands around, smiling weakly and handing out bubblegum wrappers. There's also Lockhart, who is pretty much treated like an overexcited child.
- The subversional ones are actually truer to life; the spoilered example is sedate, but utterly detached from reality, and occasionally wanders a bit. Lockhart doesn't just get treated like an overexcited child, he behaves like one as well; he's aware that he seems to be incredibly famous, but has no idea why, and the whole thing is an exciting mystery to him.
- Peeta in Mockingjay when he is Brainwashed and Crazy. The first thing he does when he sees Katniss is try to strangle her. It is justified in that the brainwashing was specifically done to turn him against Katniss and make him want to do violent things to her.
- Invoked in Carry On, Jeeves—Sir Roderick Glossop, who thinks Bertie is insane, expresses his fear that the next stage may be "homicidal". (In truth, Bertie isn't what you'd call mentally balanced, but he's far from violent.)
- After the main character of The Chronicles of Professor Jack Baling goes crazy trying to unlock the secrets of his student's perpetual motion machine, he ends up building a death ray. Violence ensues.
- Invoked, but averted, in To Kill a Mockingbird. Boo Radley isn't violent (and may or may not be insane), but the reader's introduction to him is via a story where he stabbed his father with scissors with no provocation.
Live Action TV
- River Tam from Firefly is psychotic, violent - and a protagonist. Her violence is directed at the bad guys (and also, for reasons that might have become clear if the series had continued, at anything with a Blue Sun logo). Before the experiments that made her psychotic, she was a normal, nonviolent (if extremely gifted) young girl. An example of a Justified Trope, since the aim of the experiments was to create a Super Soldier, and violence kind of comes with the package.
- Also justified because they removed bits of her brain, including one part that was supposed to let her push things that upset or bothered her out of mind. So basically she's a psychic supersoldier who is totally incapable of ignoring something that causes her distress.
- The Reavers are also a trope. "Bushwhacked" gives us the descent of someone exposed to their brand of madness (revealed in the movie to be the Pax they were exposed to, which subverts the trope some 99% of the time where Insane Equals So Apathetic You Dehydrate To Death Because You Just Don't Feel Like Getting A Drink Of Water).
- Alpha from Dollhouse appears to be this trope - the composite event that gave him a whole host of imprinted personalities made him into an insane genius and also a psychopathic killer. Actually an aversion, as his original personality was already psychopathic before the composite event, and by the time of Epitaph Two has developed a non-insane personality based on all of his component personalities, much like Echo.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel universe, Faith, after coming out of her coma and going rampaging, is repeatedly referred to as "psychotic", with direct reference to her violence. In fact, however, she shows no signs of delusions: she's on the edge of mental breakdown rather than past that point. When she does tip over, first temporarily while fighting Buffy-in-Faith's-body, then again when fighting Angel, the immediate effect is to make her more violent - but the first time she basically thinks she's beating up herself, and the second time she's trying to provoke Angel into killing her - a stark contrast to the torture, beatings, and attempted murder that mark her behavior when she's lucid! Furthermore, the second breakdown leads directly to her letting Angel help her, and therefore to her redemption.
- Game of Thrones: Joffrey was a cruel, arrogant, sadistic, malicious, and tyrannical ruler even by the standards of his time. He hugely enjoyed the agony of others, and playing sadistic games with them (for example, giving a man a choice between losing his fingers or his tongue), and even joyously speculating serving Sansa Stark the head of her brother Robb at his wedding feast. However, he was also incompetent, unintelligent, naive, impulsive, petulant, extremely cowardly, and prone to rash outbursts of violence when angered, frightened or even mildly slighted. Much like earlier Targaryen kings, it was suspected that Joffrey's sociopath behavior was a result of his incestuous bloodline (though his sister and brother both were of a kinder disposition). As well as being intensely sadistic, Joffrey was consumed by megalomaniacal delusions of grandeur, even though he was absurdly unskilled at ruling, making far more problems than he solved (though he was literally unable to see this and unapologetic for doing so).
- I, Claudius manages to subvert this despite featuring the actual Caligula. His violent / psychopathic tendencies are explicitly shown NOT to follow from his psychotic delusions: he's a killer from childhood, but doesn't go mad until after he becomes Emperor years later. Livia and other murderous characters are described as "mad" by other characters, but are not shown as irrational - even Nero, explicitly called "as mad as... Caligula", is clearly nothing of the kind.
- Insanity in Star Trek-land seems to consist of attacking people, yelling, having bulging eyes and sweating a lot. And being played by Morgan Woodward.
- Partly justified in the two episodes of TOS featuring asylums — both times they were specified to be for the criminally insane, explaining why these insane people would be violent even if the overwhelming majority aren't. The Tantalus penal colony is for those deemed curable, Elba II is intended for the incurable (by modern Federation science), and dialogue implies it to be the only such installation in the Federation. It has eight patients.
- Averted in Criminal Minds, where Reid points out that the insane are less likely to be violent, but that when they are, it's usually a lot worse than normal violence. Like in "With Friends Like These...". Up to Eleven. Reid's mother is also schizophrenic and lives full-time in an institution but has never hurt anyone. Of course, it's a shorter list the number of criminals on Criminal Minds who aren't mentally ill, and as it's almost never pointed out the majority of them are non-violent, this comes off a bit flat to some.
- Subverted in an episode of The Closer- the father of a disorganized schizophrenic confessed to a murder even he thought his son had committed, when in fact the son had merely discovered the body.
- In Being Human, vampires are shown to be the fantasy equivalent to drug addicts, making them go batshit if they don't get any blood. According to Herrik though, all people are that violent and vampires are just beyond any constraints.
- In Six Feet Under, the one character who is bipolar is also psychopathic and tries to carve off the tattoo on his sister's back, after slicing off his own.
- There's quite a few characters in Oz that fall under this.
- JAG: Averted in "The Martin Baker Fan Cub", where only one of the four escaped mental patents from a VA hospital exhibits violent behavior (by grabbing a sidearm from a police officer) and two others are completely harmless with the mental acuity of small children.
- The X-Files episode "Grotesque" has a Serial Killer who claims that he's possessed by some dark spirit. Scully thinks he suffers from a dissociative disorder and Mulder informs us that he spent the better part of his twenties in a mental institution. The episode deals with the issue of spirit possession versus insanity.
- In "Chimera", the monster-of-the-week is revealed to have got some kind of dissociative multiple personality disorder: split personality. The woman's overt self was not aware that it was her who was committing the murders.
- Averted in Cracked a show about a team of police officers and psychiatric professionals assigned to deal with crimes involving the mentally ill. While many of the perpetrators are disturbed individuals, there have also been cases where insane people have been witnesses or victims, including a bipolar psychotic who saw a girl he had been trying to help get murdered, and a boy with Tourettes who tried to find assistance for an abandoned baby.
- The degree to which the various incarnations of the Master from Doctor Who are portrayed as "insane" has varied over the years, but they're all definitely evil. The first one isn't referred to as "mad" until his fourth story, at which point he cheerfully accepts the descriptor. By contrast, insanity is used as a Freudian Excuse for John Simm's portrayal. The most recent Master, or Mistress, admits she's "bananas", but her madness is not played as either a cause of or an excuse for her villainous deeds.
- Discussed and deconstructed by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Mental illness is shown to be such an uncomfortable topic in the US that one of the only times people appear willing to talk about it is in the aftermath of mass shootings, and even then, it comes off as an insincere diversion, as ultimately neither problem is resolved.
- Accused: Stephen is a paranoid schizophrenic. His delusions lead him to stab his stepmother, believing she killed his mother, his dog, and is trying to do his father and brother in as well. Somewhat justified with his condition, as the belief they're being persecuted is more likely to make the person use violence (which like Stephen they may honestly believe is self-defense or defense of others).
- Blindspot: Background on a jewel thief caught when a heist goes south reveals he was diagnosed as "highly intelligent and utterly amoral" (a fancy way of saying "sociopath"). The Navy scooped him up and turned him into a SEAL for black ops (Agent Reade makes a snide remark about "adding honor and duty to that list"), but when he and his unit mustered out they just turned to armed robbery.
- Elementary: Subverted in the first episode. The serial killer is a mentally unstable man with violent inclinations and an obsession with red-headed women. He was well aware of his problems, however, and went through multiple psychologists in an attempt to control himself. His current psychologist was dosing him with steroids instead of tranquilizers in order to make his problems worse, all to push the man to kill his wife so that the psychologist could get her fortune.
- Zig-Zagged in the video for Poets of the Fall's "Lift." Evidence from his psych hearing combined with imagery from his Happy Place suggests Mad Dreamer Mark, diagnosed with schizophrenia, delusional parasitosis and dissociative identity disorder, is genuinely Ax-Crazy. But in his more stable moments, it takes very little trolling on his part to provoke varying degrees of violent responses from frustrated staff, whether the psychologists are breaking pencils and scattering papers in rage, or a guard is attempting assault.
- Many of the more violent wrestlers in the WWE, Face or Heel clearly have some kind of mental problem.
- Randy Orton displays sociopathic tendencies and claims to hear voices on occasion.
- Cody Rhodes is often emotionally unstable, has suffered several mental breakdowns and may have some form of dissociative identity disorder. His brother Goldust may be crazy or just weird.
- Mick Foley has multiple personalities, all of which display their own individual mental illnesses or abnormalities.
- Dean Ambrose acts like a crazed animal.
- Boogeyman was completely delusional and Lost in Character.
- Al Snow talked to a mannequin head.
- Space 1889 played straight the vast majority of NPCs with the motivation “insane” are violent and hostile to the player characters.
- Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 features several spells which can cause the target to become insane. An insane person has to roll on a chart to see what their character does; there is a 10% chance the character acts normally, a 20% chance to run away as quickly as possible, etc. The highest probability action (30% chance) is that the character attacks the nearest creature, friend or foe.
- Also the spell Call Forth the Beast in the Heroes of Horror book. The next time the target goes to sleep, they immediately wake up with a bloodthirsty, psychotic attitude with the sole goal of as much violence and bloodshed as possible. After the spell wears off they fall back asleep and wake up with no memory of what happened.
- In 4E, there is a whole host of powers that force your enemies to attack each other; most have "madness" or some synonym thereof right in the title.
- The Marauders from Mage: The Ascension are Mages who went insane via mundane or magical means. In this setting, how a Mage perceives the world and believes how it should work is what changes reality. With hallucination and delusion, this becomes... somewhat skewed. The Marauders' existence itself is violence upon reality.
- Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000: pretty much anyone corrupted by Chaos. And seeing as the Blood God Khorne is the incarnation of rage... Then again, it could be argued that everyone in this universe is insane and violent to varying degrees.
- Inverted by the Necron lord Nemesor Zahndrekh. Zahndrekh was driven insane by the reanimation process and so still believes he's a living, flesh and blood being, still fighting the inter-dynasty wars of his youth. However, he's less violent for it, as he still believes in old articles of war such as taking prisoners.
- Cyberpunk 2013/2020 has "Cyberpsychosis" which happens when an already unstable mind becomes even more unstable with too many cybernetics. In game each piece of cybernetics reduces your "Empathy" stat (similar to Shadowrun's "Essence" stat) and with each loss of Empathy the Player Character becomes more distant to people and start to relate more to machines until every little interaction with a living person can drive them over the Edge and become murderous sociopaths that need to be taken away by the local Psycho Squad to under-go mandatory therapy. With each session of therapy the Player Character gains two points of Empathy.
- Vezon from BIONICLE basically has new mental disorders as the plot demands, among them a rather literal case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. However, he's considered relatively harmless, as he has no powers and is physically weaker than most of the other characters. His violent tendancies are usually Played for Laughs.
- In American McGee's Alice, the whole plot of the game is about violently abusing and protecting yourself from the mutated enemies seen as mere small cartoons in the Disney movie.
- The second game is an aversion. Alice is violent in her fantasies but almost completely helpless in real life. The only time she actually hurts someone, the player would too if they could.
- Splicers from BioShock are all insane and violent, but they have some excuses, such as still believing there is a war on, addiction to ADAM, and being mentally influenced by the big bads. This is disturbingly averted in Bioshock 2 where the player can find some splicers who do not attack and just sit there, rocking back and forth.
- In BlazBlue there's Yuuki Terumi who, though he can come across as quite affable and contained in his Hazama guise, can also completely lose his shit at the drop of a hat. While he's in his Hazama guise, his fighting-style most of all looks like Michael Jackson-ish dance moves and, for some fridge brilliant characterization integration, revolves around baiting the opponent into making mistakes, perfectly fitting his Manipulative Bastard tendencies. When he lets loose for real, though, his fighting-style switches to sheer Sadistic Video Game Cruelty Potential with few defensive options but some of the highest damage outputs in the game when on the offensive.
- Borderlands and Borderlands 2 iconic psychos, of course. The sequel also has the Crazed Marauders, although it's arguable whether this counts as the regular Marauders are violent enough without being insane.
- Many of the bosses in the game Dead Rising are mall workers whose cheese slid off their collective cracker during a Zombie Apocalypse. The violence is justified, as those whose reaction tended more towards rocking quietly in a corner were probably turned into hamburger very quickly.
- Averted in Dwarf Fortress: Crazy Dwarves might go berserk and attack other dwarves and kill people, but they're just as likely to be Driven to Suicide or strip off their clothes and run around naked.
- Count Waltz of Eternal Sonata tries to cause this by making the madness-inducing cure-all mineral powder relatively affordable. Because the madness only sets in after a period of time with the normal powder, most people don't make the connection. And in the meantime, you start being able to use magic. Waltz's motivation for doing this is to turn the population into insane magic-users, because those make good soldiers.
- Though there are others who you never fight, such as the guy who just walks in a straight line, forever.
- Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI. It says a lot about a character when his madness makes him The Dreaded on both the protagonists' side of the conflicts and the villains'. An NPC in Final Fantasy VI states that Kefka is a Psycho Prototype, having lost his mind after recieving the empire's first experimental Magitek Infusion, and in Dissidia: Final Fantasy it's implied that the process has made him unable to feel anything at all, except for when he is giving into his destructive urges.
- An apparent invocation of this trope saw a British psychiatric charity condemn Man Hunt 2, despite the lead character- and most of the enemy characters- not actually being insane at all.
- The Japanese release of Dementium: The Ward was met similarly.
- Mass Effect:
- Renegade Shepard can use this trope to justify punching a guy in the face in Mass Effect. He keeps spouting doomsday prophecies, and, well:
- A sidequest in Mass Effect: Andromeda provides a handwave for why so many supposedly well-screened Andromeda Initiative colonists and employees have gone rogue: it seems an unforeseen side effect of cryogenic suspension caused a neurochemical imbalance in some individuals that makes them more prone to violence. Doctor Lexi develops a drug regimen to counteract it.
- James Marcus of Resident Evil 0 is driven insane by his death (and subsequent rebirth via virally-infected leeches) which turns him from a relatively mild-mannered scientist into a revenge-fueled monster who slaughters an entire train full of workers— and then a training facility— and he's implied to have released the T-Virus in the first game, which leads to an entire city being NUKED.
- Gregory AKA the Stray Dog in Rule of Rose fell into depression after his son's death. He ended up kidnapping other children as replacements and killing them when they didn't perform adequately, and stalking the countryside on all fours like a mad dog.
- Subversion in Scribblenauts. Entering the word "Psycho" spawns a girl with a knife, but like any neutral NPC, she only attacks when frightened and holding a weapon.
- Team Fortress 2: In "Meet the Pyro", the other classes talk about how scary she/he is, cut with images of him/her causing horrible destruction. However, when we see the Pyro's view, it turns out she/he sees the world as a colorful wonderland where he/she is bringing candy and happiness to the other classes. Of course, the real world effects of the Pyro's insanity are the same.
- Many characters in the Twisted Metal franchise. Especially in Black where the entire cast has been broken out of an asylum and allowed to fight each other for the right to have their wish come true. This usually involves murder of some kind.
- Zeno Clash has a Double Subversion. Ghat notes that the Corwids aren't necessarily dangerous, because they just do whatever they want. Then they decided that what they want to do is attack Ghat, and possibly eat him.
- Neverending Nightmares has the patients in the "Insanity" segment of the game, who will literally rip Thomas's throat out with their teeth if he gets too close or they hear him walking around. Justified as the patients appear to have been horribly abused: they're bruised and battered, lobotomized, bound in strait jackets, and have had their eyes sewn shut.
- In Poets of the Fall's "The Happy Song," the Villain Song for Mr. Scratch of Alan Wake's American Nightmare, this is the opinion of the Ax-Crazy singer as he smugly admonishes the listener for failing to realize that referring to himself as a "psycho" was Not Hyperbole.
- In Dark Souls, any being too heavily afflicted by the titular Dark Soul will inevitably devolve into a raging, psychopathic beast that attacks anything that looks at them funny (and many things that don't). Dark Souls III explains why in its The Ringed City DLC; Gwyn's fear of the Dark Soul and those that can wield its power led him to craft the Darksign as a brand that would cut off humanity's access to their dark souls and the Abyss. Over time they lost the ability to properly control the dark as they were meant to, leading to its two manifestations seen in the series proper; either as the Undead Curse or as a Super Mode that confers great power but completely destroys the mind and soul of whoever is afflicted by it.
- In The Order of the Stick, this was the result when Xykon threw a bouncy ball inscribed with a Symbol of Insanity into the throne room of the Sapphire Guard. Only a few named members were unaffected, and the last survivor from the ensuing bloodbath committed seppuku out of grief. Justified since that's how that particular spell works in D&D.
- When Freeze Man from In Wily's Defense went insane, he started killing people for the fun of it, despite his being a robot and therefore breaking the rules.
- A variation appears in Survival of the Fittest with those who play the game, especially since many are eventually driven insane, if they didn't start out that way. By necessity, "players" are distrustful and hostile towards everyone else, as they aim to be the winner and Sole Survivor, and many attack all other people on sight. Sometimes this verges on Chaotic Stupid behaviour.
- Both averted and played straight in Protectors of the Plot Continuum. Most agents are a little crazy, but those who have real-world disorders aren't any more violent than anybody else (which, granted, isn't saying much when it's a PPC agent you're talking about). However, insanity induced by contact with too much horrible fan fiction does occasionally make agents find themselves a flamethrower and start burning things.
- Flippy of Happy Tree Friends.
- Common in the grimdark Tumblr blogs of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, resulting in the likes of Friendly Twilight (complete with her Madness Makeover from the episode "Lesson Zero"), Flutterstalker, Crapplejack, Lil' Miss Rarity, Fractured Loyalty (Rainbow Dash), and of course, Pinkamena Diane Pie.
- Played straight and averted in Pyrrhic with some of the students. As a part of the experiment, they are forced to kill, but others were already verging on crazy before it. Some, like Tyra, thought that they were vampires, while others, like Jackson have begun to disassociate from reality due to what is heavily implied to be Danson messing with his mind. However, Jackson's is treated with respect, due to the circumstances and was perfectly sane before the experiment. Others like Marie play this straight.
- In the Yogscast Minecraft Series, there are the following examples:
- Shadow of Israphel brings us Templar_Enoch. When he was sane, he wasn't violent, although he was incredibly arrogant. After being driven insane (due to brainwashing from the Sentinels, he murders his fellow Templars, realises what he has done, and then tears his body apart. Later, Lewis Brindley and Simon Lane meet the Evil_Honeydew clone duo, who are both insane and have a love for TNT, due to a malfunctioning cloning machine.
- Duncan Jones is revealed to have an Evil Clone in the form of "Lalnable Hector". He's described as being mentally insane and apparently has a love of butchering testificates.
- Unclear and played with in Razelle's case in that she suffers from some form of psychosis but she isn't necessarily violent because of that, rather, it could be that she has underlying impulse problems worsened her mental illness, the which she doesn't have any medication or some help for. In that note, she is described to be rather pleasant, even during those fits of delirium.
- Ren of The Ren & Stimpy Show is sort of an aversion. He's both insane and violent, there's no questioning that. However, he's only violent when he's being normal; when his psychotic tendencies are triggered, he becomes terrifyingly calm and never lays a mere finger on Stimpy. Instead, he gives elaborate To the Pain monologues. "Stimpy's Fan Club" and "Sven Hoek" contain possibly the best examples of that.
- Heloise of Jimmy Two-Shoes.
- Donald Duck, in Mickey and the Beanstalk, shown in the trope picture, having a hunger-induced breakdown and attempting to kill their cow so he, Mickey and Goofy can eat.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula has always had a penchant for violence, but she was most likely to only use it when it was most needed, to dire effect - an apt comparison to the trick for lightningbending. However, when she goes round the bend, her sadism and violence rocket the hell up. But on the realistic side, she gets considerably less effective when insane. It's doubtful the heroes could have defeated her if she'd stayed sane.
- Interestingly, this is often subverted in Adventure Time. The three most obviously mentally unstable characters, The Ice King, Lemongrab, and the Tart Toter, aren't evil or violent. The former is a wizard who occasionally will battle Finn, but he isn't any more violent than the sane characters on the show. As for Lemongrab and the Tart Toter, these guys are just mentally unstable- not violent. It's the sane characters, aka Finn, Marceline, etc., who display occasional violent tendencies.
- Averted on Archer. Cheryl does have violent tendencies, but no more so than most of the comparatively sane members of the cast, and her insanity leads to her hurting herself more often than it does to her hurting others. Krieger is even more obviously insane than Cheryl, but shows no violent tendencies at all. Downplayed with Barry Dylan, who becomes much more violent after he goes insane, but it is less of the "randomly attack anything in sight" kind of insanity typical of the trope and more of a burning desire to kill Archer specifically.
- Played with for the Trickster in Justice League — on the one hand it is indicated that he does violent things because of his mental illness (at least when he doesn't take his medication), but on the other hand he is significantly less violent and more harmless than his comparatively sane Rogue colleagues.
- Averted in Pinky and the Brain. Both of the main characters are heavily implied to be insane, but Pinky is not violent at all, while Brain does often get violent when he's annoyed but never seriously hurts anyone (unless you count unintentionally hurting himself).
- Rocko's Modern Life subverted this when a clearly unhinged mailman with an issue of Psycho Weekly scared all the nearby subway passengers away by making a seemingly threatening comment about becoming disgruntled ever since he was laid off. He then proceeds to take advantage of the cleared-up space by innocently swinging on a subway strap.
- Kaeloo: Mr. Cat is an insane psychopath owns a bunch of weapons, and attacks people and objects very violently to the slightest annoyance (or even for no reason at all). Stumpy may be an aversion since he is insane, but not violent. If he is being violent, it's probably in a video game or attacking an object, but not a person.
- Mental health and medical communities say that people with mental illness are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. This is only sort of true. Mentally ill people aren't more dangerous, except that they are a lot more likely to have symptoms of alcohol or drug abuse, and those are linked to violence.
- Most mental patients are more likely to be dangerous to themselves than other people—nearly all mental disorders are correlated to a decrease in lifespan and increase rate of self-harm and suicide.
- Almost inverted with at least one test on the connection between mental illness and violent crime: a whopping 4% of violent crime offenders were mentally ill. In addition to a lower-than-average rate of committing these crimes, mentally ill people are about ten times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime.
- Deconstructed by this article written after the 2015 Charleston AME Church shooting, finding that the mentally ill are wrongfully scapegoated after similar shootings.
- Only somewhat Truth in Television. A lot of mental disorders do cause violent outbursts. However they are just that. Outbursts. People who have them usually don't want to hurt others but sometimes they lash out at things. Some are fully aware of these triggers, and tend to try to avoid them. This can backfire horribly in institutionalized settings, as they can appear totally sane in their absence, leading others to underestimate the response even if the patient themselves warn of it.
- Unfortunately, some people with such disorders aren't aware, or refuse to accept the possibility that there could be something that is wrong with them. Or they are aware and refuse to get help because of this trope. These people are often the ones who commit violent crimes.