Insanity Immunity

"Strong or weak, in the long run all of them break down. All, that is to say, of those who are initially sane. For, ironically enough, the only people who can hold up indefinitely under the stress of modern war are psychotics. Individual insanity is immune to the consequences of collective insanity."
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited

When a character is already so crazy that none of the traditional Go Mad from the Revelation-type phenomena or Brown Note will affect them in the slightest; they can speed read The King in Yellow and the Tome of Eldritch Lore, get into a Staring Contest with Cthulhu, contemplate the Void without any negative mental effects, and get caught in the Throat of Madness, simply because they can't get any crazier. This can also mean that they can wield/absorb any powers with these effects without any problems, either; powers that would drive a normal man insane simply won't affect them in any negative fashion.

They also cannot be controlled, predicted, or otherwise influenced by others: psychics will recoil in horror from the rotting offal that is their minds, those who can see the future will find their expectations dashed as destiny is royally screwed over, martial artists with Combat Clairvoyance will be no match for their Confusion Fu, etc.

This is a Disability Superpower, more specifically a Disability Immunity. See also Crazy Sane, Too Dumb to Fool, Too Kinky to Torture, Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth and Unfazed Everyman. Compare Infectious Insanity.

Examples

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     Anime  

     Comics  

  • In Lucifer, Fenrir manipulates a man with a mental disorder into thinking that he's gone crazy and killed his wife and daughter. This is so he and his companions can "ride his coattails" towards Yggdrasil. By tricking the man into thinking his wife and daughter are at the tree, he gets there without having his mind torn to shreds by the sanity-ripping "thorns" on the path there. The man is more or less immune both by virtue of his insanity and single-minded Heroic Resolve to rescue his family. Don't worry, they were reunited and lived Happily Ever After. (Fenrir, for his part, almost undid all creation.)
  • This is about as close as The Joker gets to a superpower.
    • For example, in a Batman/Judge Dredd Crossover, Judge Death tried to possess his body, flowing into his head only to fly out through the other ear, Joker's mind completely incompatible with his mind control powers.
    • J'onn J'onnz was actually able to replicate this effect during Grant Morrison's run on JLA; when he and Superman are trapped in a pocket dimension created by The Joker (which reflects his madness), J'onn uses his shapeshifting abilities to literally change the shape/function of his brain to resemble The Joker's, enabling him and Supes to navigate their way out without being consumed or driven mad.
    • Also, in DC and The Mask crossovers both Joker and Lobo put the titular mask on their faces, and it didn't affect their personalities much at all. Eventually Joker becomes much more destructive, and when Batman points out that this isn't funny (by Joker's standards, anyway), Joker realizes that this is true and promptly takes the mask off.
    • Another Elseworld comic had a mass depowering event take place; Joker loses his madness, leaving him quiet and remorseful over everything he's done.
    • On one team-up with the Scarecrow, Dr. Crane ended their alliance by gassing Joker to see what he was afraid of. Sadly, Joker turned out to be immune to the Scarecrow's gas. So he beat him with a chair.
  • In one confrontation between Wonder Woman and the Joker, she calls upon the power of Pan to induce Pandemonium on herself; making her crazy, thus immune to his crazy.
  • In Nextwave Dirk Anger was so batshit goddamn nuts that when he died and was resurrected as a zombie, his behavior hadn't changed at all (only his diet).
  • In Endless Nights, a companion book to The Sandman, one of the stories is about Delirium becoming lost in her own realm and insane people being the only ones that can enter and leave her realm unscathed.
  • A slight variation - in Dilbert, Wally reacts to news his new bosses can read and control his mind by shrugging and saying if they try to read his mind, they'd go blind.
  • Bullseye and Doctor Octopus have both been shown with resistance to mind-control that could either be the result of cybernetics in their heads or sheer insanity.
  • Also from the Marvel Universe is Deadpool, whose healing factor combined with his cancer causes his brain to be in a constant state of flux, so much that even ultra-powerful telepaths like Cable usually can't get a grip on his mind. He also defeats Taskmaster (who pretty much defines Awesomeness by Analysis) by simply being naturally unpredictable to the point where even Tasky isn't sure what Deadpool will do next.
  • This happens in The Darkness when Darkness host Jackie Estacado encounters a Monster of the Week witch/Eldritch Abomination that performs Mind Rape for a living, psychically feeding off people's desires and memories. This backfires horribly on her when she tries it on Jackie and sees the darkness and depravity that is the mind of a demonically-possessed Professional Killer.
  • Doctor Doom is so delusional that he was able to resist a psychic Hate Plague and a psychic "Truth Wave" in the same storyline.

     Fan Works 

     Literature  

  • In Alan Dean Foster's To The Vanishing Point, Burnfingers Begay can deal with the shifting realities matter-of-factly because he's already crazy.
    • In the same author's Paths of the Perambulator (fifth in the Spellsinger series) Sorbl the drunk is undisturbed by the constant Reality Warping around them because it's no worse than his usual hallucinations.
  • The Magic: The Gathering novel Final Sacrifice involves a Mind-Control Device in the form of a helmet that lets a wizard summon and control another wizard the same way wizards can summon and control ordinary creatures. (Interestingly, this novel was written long before the card Mindslaver was printed.) The druid Greensleeves, having once been insane, finds the effects of the helmet to be similar to the insanity she conquered and is able to ignore its commands - and is also able to access the vast amounts of information stored in it.
  • Billy in Remnants has a mind that clearly does not work normally — he seems to be mildly psychic, has an eidetic memory and rarely interacts with anyone. It turns out he is the only one able to mentally interact with Mother, a Sapient Ship who has Gone Mad From The Isolation, without going crazy. He explains it as his mind being malleable, like rubber, while other people's are like sticks that break if you bend them.
  • In The Sea of Trolls, berserkers are immune to trolls' Combat Clairvoyance because their mindless, drug-fueled Confusion Fu is impossible for the trolls to decipher.
  • In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Zaphod Beeblebrox's survival of the Total Perspective Vortex is an interesting sort-of example: the Vortex destroys its victims' minds by making them fully aware of the smallness of their place in the universe. But Zaphod comes out smiling, saying it had just shown him what he already knew: that he's a pretty cool dude. So it appears that his narcissism saved him — that his ego really is big enough to appear significant on the scale of the entire universe. But this is subverted when it's later revealed that the encounter had taken place in a pocket universe that had been created for his benefit. He was that universe's reason for existing, and hence literally the most important person in it, and this is the only reason it went so well for him. Still, his fearlessness on entering the Vortex (while not knowing about the pocket-universe thing) qualifies: he was crazy enough to expect such an outcome. ("Hey, I'm Zaphod Beeblebrox, man!")
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Shelob (a borderline Eldritch Abomination in the form of a Giant Spider) is immune to the One Ring's powers of temptation. The Ring uses promises of power to corrupt whoever holds it, but all Shelob wants is to destroy and devour, so the Ring holds no appeal for her.
  • Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter books is able to conjure a Patronus (an Animal Battle Aura powered by inner joy) — even while wearing a fragment of a psychopath's warped soul around her neck, in a room full of joy-sucking Eldritch Abominations, during a Kangaroo Court session when she's sending innocent people to Azkaban. She's so twisted that that kind of environment makes her happy.
  • In The Shepherd's Crown, it's revealed that Granny Weatherwax's rival Miss Earwig is so prideful and self-absorbed she's completely immune to elfin glamour.
  • In Deathstalker, Valentine Wolfe invokes this by staying high on so many Fantastic Drugs that his mind is completely incomprehensible to anyone else. At one point, he brushes off a deadly psychic Brown Note, commenting that it doesn't even measure up to his daydreams.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Doctor Who episode "Asylum of the Daleks" hints that the Doctor has survived so many Dalek encounters partly because of his obsessive, almost crazed, hatred of Daleks - who are therefore reluctant to kill the Doctor because, being the Omnicidal Maniacs they are, they're in awe of his pure hatred.
  • In the pilot of the TV show Upright Citizens Brigade, the centerpiece of the long-form sketch is a bucket in the the middle of the living room called The Bucket Of Truth, said to contain knowledge that is so uncompromisingly, unadulteratedly true, that anyone who looks in it will go mad. Throughout the sketch, various characters look in the bucket, and instantly go mad (usually escaping into the Hot Chicks Room). At the end of the sketch, the Tough As Nails cop, angry at god, decides to take the plunge... and is unfazed.
    I'm gonna look in your damned bucket!
    looks in, beat, emerges
    DON'T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT!!

     Tabletop RPG  
  • Call of Cthulhu. When characters lose Sanity points they can go temporarily insane, which impairs their abilities considerably. Once people lose all of their Sanity points (and become permanently insane), they can no longer go temporarily insane, either due to Sanity loss or certain attacks such as the Mind Blast spell. If this happens to an NPC who is a Cthulhu Mythos worshipper, they can act effectively even though they're completely nuts.
    • This trope was famously exploited with the character of Old Man Henderson; The character had a mild case of Schizophrenia, allowing him to shrug off the normal effects of witnessing cosmic horrors because hey, that "poodle" may be the ugliest poodle he ever clapped eyes on, but he saw crazy shit all the time, so no worries.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In the first edition, psionic attacks could cause various forms of mental disorders in their victims, but insane creatures were immune to psionic attack.
    • There's a "Cloak of Insanity" spell in the Forgotten Realms sourcebook Menzoberranzan that emulates this effect. It shields the caster's mind from being influenced or read by both magic or psionics, but isn't completely safe in itself.
    • Several 3.5E feats or Prestige Class abilities have effects that are basically this with different names, usually with a fixed modifier. Bonus points go to the Tainted Scholar Prestige Class for casters. The Clarity of True Madness Secret that the Tainted Scholar can learn lets him add his Depravity score to his Will save once per day, which means that the more insane and mentally twisted he becomes, the better the modifier that Secret grants is.
    • Many monsters in 4th edition are immune to charm or daze effects because they're aberrant or insane.
  • Witches and sorcerers from Pokethulhu, who are immune to anything that requires a sanity save, because they have no sanity at all.
  • Vampires in the Old World of Darkness who drink Changeling blood or otherwise become Enchanted (infused with Fae Glamour, allowing them to perceive and otherwise be affected by Chimerical reality) must, due to the inherently Banal nature of vampirism, make a Courage roll in order to avoid succumbing to Bedlam (Glamour induced insanity). The vampires of Clan Malkavian are explicitly said to be immune to this effect as they are already mad.
    • One Advanced power of Dementation is Blessing of Chaos. At the price of gaining another derangement, you gain immunity against other Dementation, Dominate, Presence, and Chimerstry.
  • In Dark Heresy, characters ignore fear effects that equal their (insanity points/10)/2: Their minds have simply seen so much sanity-blasting horror already that they've gone insensitive to the little stuff. A character with 80 or more insanity points is literally immune to fear and can stare down a Eldritch Abomination with no ill effects, although at that point that's peanuts compared to the effects the cumulative mental derangements has on that character's mind anyway.
    • In mainline 40k, because of the Blood Angels and their successor chapters' need to feed on blood and tendency to lose their minds and degenerate into slavering beasts one would think they're all a fucking Khorne cult waiting to happen, but it turns out that because of the particular way in which the Red Thirst and Black Rage work, they're actually immune to Chaos. Not that this is much comfort to them or any innocent bystanders who happen to get between them and whatever monsters the Imperium has sicced them on.
  • Exalted:
    • One standout example is Lilith, a Lunar who spent most of the First Age married to Desus, who kept her in line with regular doses of Mind Rape. She fled into the Wyld after the Usurpation, and actually got better over the centuries. That's how bad her marriage was — years upon years spent in the heart of screaming, primordial madness were effectively therapy.
    • The Fair Folk — natural inhabitants of the aforementioned Wyld — are all insane by human standards, and their interaction with reality revolves around masking their insanity to the Creation-born. When the masks are exhausted they reveal their true nature in a state known as Bedlam, and there are charms that specifically makes good use of this state.
  • In Ironclaw, the Enraged status effect makes the character unable to defend, focus or do mental actions, however it also negates the next mental debuff they would be affected with, (removes Enraged as well). It's more harmful version, Berserk, also does this, but also causes the character to attack the nearest target. Note that for Avarist, Enraged is important for some of their abilities, but helps compensate their low Mind stat.
  • Derro in 13th Age are considered immune to confusion effects because, being crazy dwarves, they are already insane. Well, kind of - if they particularly want to murder one of their allies, which isn't uncommon, they might still take a stab at one of them, just for the hell of it.

     Video Games  
  • Touhou:
    • In Imperishable Night, when Marisa Kirisame is exposed to "pure" lunar rays, which can drive humans mad, she isn't concerned because, in her own words, "I'm insane to begin with." This is the only time she comes out and says this, however.
    • Later in the official manga Forbidden Scrollery, Marisa is able to read an original copy of the Necronomicon with no apparent ill effects.
    • Similarly, in the fangame Touhou Mother, the party is forced to eat some strange mushrooms to get their strength back. While everyone else goes on a Mushroom Samba, Marisa is unaffected due to "experiencing this sort of thing all the time", and takes over as party leader.
    • In addition to Marisa, Sakuya was exposed to the "pure" lunar rays as well. Even Remilia, who knows Sakuya better than anyone, was afraid and yelled at Sakuya not to look at them - naturally she already was and merely remarked how beautiful the moon was. Given how mysterious Sakuya already is, this naturally fueled some belief that Sakuya may actually be insane before the story begins, either from working in the Scarlet Devil Mansion or just naturally from before she started working there. This gets a sort of follow up with Phantasmagoria of Flower View where Sakuya returns after the incident is solved with a whole bunch of interesting flowers to make tea with; when she notes that she should sort out which ones are poisonous first Patchouli notes that it's quite rare for Sakuya to show that much care/forethought.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum:
    • Implied when Scarecrow's fear serum doesn't drive Batman insane, either because of his indomitable will... or his own insanity is strong enough to withstand it.
    • Joker's mind proves immune to the side-effects of Titan serum, probably because he's already way crazier than the serum would make him.
  • Likewise, in Eternal Darkness Pious Augustus cannot go insane as he completely lacks the Sanity Meter that all other characters have. So he's immune either because he's a battle-hardened Roman centurion, or because he was already insane to begin with.
  • Sands of Destruction has Noctua Rex trap your team in their own worst memories, reliving the things they regret over and over. But, among the many other things wrong with her, Morte has no regrets and doesn't dwell on the past. So, while everyone else is trapped in their minds, she's stuck wondering what's wrong with everyone and why nothing is happening to her. She's also so chaotic as to be utterly unpredictable, even by psychic dragonkin like Rhi'a.

     Web Animation  

     Web Comics  
  • In an early Sluggy Freelance plotline (before Bun-Bun's power level really got established), Gwynn's botched magic drove most of the cast insane with violent romantic jealousy. Bun-Bun was largely unaffected. His explanation: "These lightweights just can't hold their evil."
  • Implied in Captain SNES: The Game Masta when Kefka is at ground zero of the Final Fantasy VI world getting "touched" and is unaffected by it.

     Web Original  

  • Medibot made it through pokecapn's Let's Play of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) in considerably less psychological distress than the other three who made it to the end (there was a fifth guy, John Condit, but he wisely bailed). This was partly because he left to take a nap at one point, but mostly because:
    Kung-Fu Jesus: He seemed really out of it.
    pokecapn: As he always does?
  • Ecila Mason of the Whateley Universe. She's been interacting with monsters for so long that she is no longer able to interact normally with humans.
  • Dave Smith, the Unfazed Everyman of City Of Angles, had childhood anxiety so bad that he punched right through to the other side. When an Eldritch Abomination tries to drive him mad, he politely apologizes and explains.
    Bedlam: ...What.
  • The Veil Of Madness is basically the galactic Bermuda Triangle. Every sentient race that spends time there goes suicidally insane- except humans, who ended up becoming the galaxy's boogeymen because of it. They roll with it to make interspecies relations easier and because nobody believes them if they say otherwise. They do share their theory about why they can live in the Veil- they're already a little insane. And considering humans are basically playing a huge practical joke on the rest of the galaxy, maybe it's true.

     Western Animation  

  • Justice League: Ace, a girl with telepathic powers, turns people brain-dead with insanity just by looking at them. Joker is able to "befriend" her because he's too crazy for it to affect him, and puts her on TV to drive as many people possible insane. However, he held onto Ace's control headband, so he at least suspected that Ace would be powerful enough to affect him. Upon discovering this Ace deliberately focuses her power on him and proves that suspicion right. However, Joker would eventually recover, proving that he was very resistant even if he wasn't immune.
  • The Batman vs. Dracula: While all other vampires turned by Dracula become mindless, feral creatures who are under Dracula's complete control and can only snarl and growl, when Joker is turned into a vampire, he retains most of his free will and speech capabilities; however, Dracula is still able to exert enough control over him that Joker can't reveal the location of Dracula's resting place.
  • Completely inverted in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, when Joker gains the powers of Batmite. After torturing Batman the entire episode, Batman tricks him into trying to drive Batman insane by entering his mind. Turns out Batman is so sane even the reality warping powers Joker now has are completely useless in there, and Batman ultimately uses it to show Joker his worst nightmare - a world where Batman doesn't exist and, consequently, the Joker is a no-name average joe.
  • In Gravity Falls, a secret society determined to uphold The Masquerade through literal Laser-Guided Amnesia attempt to erase the memories of the Mystery Shack crew- but are stopped by Old Man McGucket ("Local kook") Taking the Bullet from their Memory Erasing ray gun, which doesn't work on him since he already used it so much on himself in the past.
    "YOU CAN'T BREAK WHAT'S ALREADY BROKEN!"
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Empress Eyes", Ice King is apparently under the control of a female vampire. However, after he adamantly refuses to kill Marceline, it is revealed that he was only following her orders because she was a beautiful woman he thought was interested in him.
  • On Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph's seismic sense functions as a Living Lie Detector by picking up the stress-induced changes in breath and heartbeat that occur when someone lies. The only person this doesn't work on is Azula, a sociopath who lies without a second thought:
    Toph: And stick to the truth. I'll be able to tell if you're lying.
    Azula: Are you sure? I'm a pretty good liar. I am a 400-foot-tall purple platypus-bear with pink horns and silver wings.
    Toph: Okay, you're good, I admit it.
  • Subverted in the Atomic Betty episode "Dr. Cerebral and the Stupefactor Ray". The eponymous villain develops a weapon that can destroy intelligence. X-5 keeps making jokes about how "dumb" Sparky. When Sparky is hit with the ray... it actually turns him brain dead.


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