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The Berserker
aka: Berserker
His name is Guts, and soon he'll be mopping up yours.

Bodvar Bjarki ploughed into them now, hacking two handed, his only thought to do as much damage as he could before he fell. And now they fall in heaps before him, one on top of another, and both his arms are bloodied to the shoulder, and he felled so many, the dead were stacked all about him. He stormed on as if he was insane.

The Berserker is a character who throws himself into a fight with such reckless abandon, it seems like he WANTS to die. It could be over-enthusiasm, overconfidence, Unstoppable Rage, or the desire to die (in battle). Whatever the cause, it's usually accompanied by a bellowing warcry. Sometimes with total obliviousness to whether he's actually fighting the enemy. And he never, ever retreats.

Berserkers are equally capable of being good or evil. If they're good, then out of battle, most will brood about whatever it is that causes their berserk fits, or show remorse about losing control of themselves. Most end up one of two ways: being taught by their teammates to control themselves after a particularly close call, or dying in a dramatic fashion while lamenting that they died without completing their mission. Good Berserkers are also very prone to Heroic Sacrifices, for very obvious reasons. When this is not played for drama, the Berserker may have a Boisterous Bruiser attitude when not in his battle rage. An evil Berserker, on the other hand, is generally just unrepentantly Ax-Crazy and very often Chaotic Evil.

The trope's title refers to the berserkr of Viking-age Scandinavia: Warriors who are said to have thrown themselves into battle wearing only animal hides for armour and with no regard for their own safety. Their 'battle-madness', whose exact nature is presently unknown (some say it came from eating weird mushrooms before a battle) is said to have been a gift from Odin. The word "berserkr" means "Bear-shirt" in Old Norse, referring to either their going into battle with the ferocity of bears or for wearing bear pelts into battle. Their effectiveness in battle is up for debate, but they were an imposing and terrifying nightmare to the continental Europeans — and, if The Icelandic Sagas are to be trusted, to their own civilization.

Berserkers that truly do wish to die in battle are better known as Death Seekers — those who don't often overlap with the Blood Knight or Barbarian Hero instead. When foolishly done without any regard to strategy or planning, the Berserker becomes a Leeroy Jenkins.

Trope Namer for Berserk Button, which is when pressing a character's Trigger turns them into this.

Not to be confused with the now-disbanded Australian grindcore band The Berzerker. Nor is it related to the Berserker universe.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Berserk, both the manga and anime (but especially the manga), Guts takes on this role, acknowledging in the manga that he realizes that his battle-crazed moments make people close to him fear him. He is driven, but definitely is not a Death Seeker, despite his tendency to take on 100 men (or even worse things later on) at once. This state is now "magically" enhanced by the use of his Berserker Armor that facilitates such fighting mode, for example by numbing any wounds received to keep fighting at his maximal potential. However it does come as a price (aside from not being aware that lethal wounds might have been received) in that his Superpowered Evil Side always threatens to take over which would cause him to start attacking friends or foes regardless until dead or the last standing on the battlefield.
    • Towards the end of the Golden Age flashback (shortly before things go bad) Guts goes on a soul searching journey and completely fails to learn anything about himself... except that he only feels a purpose when he is in the midst of battle and that the only thing that feels natural to him is a sword in his hands.
  • Alucard and Father Alexander Anderson in Hellsing both fall squarely into this definition, although the latter tends to be just a little bit worse sometimes. Despite being fairly calm around regular humans and especially children, Anderson transforms into a full-on berserker whenever he encounters vampires or any kind of monstrous heathen, as he likes to call them. His bloodlust becomes nigh-unstoppable and he can plow through huge swathes of enemies without a single fear for himself, which is definitely reinforced by his powerful Healing Factor, regenerative powers, and role as The Juggernaut of Iscariot's forces. It often turns into a berserk form of Ham-to-Ham Combat between Alucard and Anderson since both of them are rather high on the Blood Knight scale of Ax-Crazy hitmen.
  • Asuka Langley Soryū and Rei Ayanami of Neon Genesis Evangelion: Rei because she really doesn't care whether she lives or dies, and Asuka because she's overconfident and addicted to the thrill of battle. Shinji Ikari himself lapses into this under sufficient psychological stress, when his Unstoppable Rage kicks in, the desperate battle against Zeruel is a good example. He's like this by default in Rebuild continuity.
    • For that matter, the Eva Units themselves occasionally override their pilots and rush into full furious battle, with disturbingly effective results. Shinji's EVA, EVA-01, is the most notorious "Berserker" out of the bunch, more likely than not a coincidence given Shinji's own berserker tenancies. Though, it's not really clear if Shinji is somehow triggering these moments himself, or the EVA is itself it acting on it's own accord. Or rather the soul contained within the EVA, which is that of Shinji's late Mother, Yui; meaning these berserk moments are one hell of a Mama Bear moment.
      • This is sometimes used as a game mechanic anytime the EVA's make an appearance it the Super Robot Wars series. If Unit-01's health is depleted during a battle, it will go Berserk; gaining a massive increase in stats (not mention a brutal melee attack) but also causing it to attack any unit within range, be it friend or foe.
    • Mari, from Rebuild of Evangelion, takes elements of a Blood Knight and takes this to new heights, being the only pilot to initiate a variant of Berserk Mode consciously and of her own volition. She goes really, really crazy with it.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Kaiser, once he realizes he doesn't have much time left anyway, and Judai, when the desire to find Johan completely overrides his reason.
    • The monster Elemental Hero Wildheart and his fusions tend to exemplify the concept, doing things like ignoring/destroying traps, attacking all enemies in one go, etc.
  • Aleksei Amigochaz from Tower of God got himself some notoriety by behaving like this on the second floor.
  • One Piece: Luffy during the Marineford Arc.
    • Anytime Luffy gets suffciently angry (to the point where he stops smiling completely and gives blank angry looks to everyone) he tends to only stop because he's run out of people to beat the crap out of.
  • Virtually the entire main male cast of Samurai Deeper Kyo.
  • Gauron from Full Metal Panic!, who takes his constant personal antagonizing of Mithril and (especially) Sousuke to a suicidal degree. He seems to care little whether he lives or dies, or who he harms, as long as he is able to mess up the heroes as much as humanly possible — and with as much panache as he can wring out of it — in the process. In the light novels, it is revealed that his destructive attitude stems from a lethal cancer that would kill him sooner or later anyway.
  • Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. 'Give up' is not a word in his vocabulary, nor is 'tactics', 'sound judgment', or 'subtlety'.
    • To a lesser extent, everyone else, even the bad guys!
      • Oh, yeah, you think they're Hot-Blooded... and then you go and hurt Nia. Cue people punching your minions through the boundaries of space-time and blowing up your space armadas with the sheer power of their awesomeness.
  • Bjorn in Vinland Saga, apart from being a Berserker, is also a real berserkr. After eating a special mushroom he flies into an uncontrollable fury, and is able to rip apart multiple enemies with his bare hands. Problem is he has a habit of killing his own men at the same time, just as any true berserker would. His name even means bear in Nordic languages.
  • Vita from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. She's a badass determinator with a giant hammer and says herself that destroying is the best thing she can do. For example, in the fight with Nanoha, after her hat gets damaged, her pupils were narrowing in shock, just before she goes ballistic and beats Nanoha like a screaming warrior.
  • "Apapapapapapapapapapa!" While Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple actually has a character named Berserker, the real berserker of the series is Apachai Hopachi, the Death God of the Muay Thai Underworld. He can't hold back in a fight and, as a result, nearly kills Kenichi a few times when training him. He does overcome this to a limited degree, though.
    • Also, there is Kisara Nanjo when she first awakens to what other characters name "Nya Kwon Do," during which she behaves exactly like a cat (meowing, grooming herself, and kicking sand at her opponent).
    • Ultimately this can happen to anyone who can't control their Dou power.
  • Ryoma from Getter Robo. His Fan Nickname "Batshit Ryoma" encapsulates him well, as a character who combines all the best parts of Hot-Blooded, Slasher Smile, Ax-Crazy, and the Determinator.
    • And then there's his moment in New Getter Robo which gave him an completely maniacal Unstoppable Rage.
  • Venus Versus Virus's Sumire is a berserker, in guess what? Her Berserker mode.
  • The title character of Murder Princess is this; fortunately her maid can snap her out of it.
  • Iceman Hotty of Basquash! looks like just another pretty boy, but... "Destroy!"
  • Carossa from GUN×SWORD easily surpasses Shinn Asuka in anger and brashness, and that's before someone comes within speaking range of his sister. Unlike Shinn Asuka however, Carossa is infinitely more justified in that he's a small child with no military training whatsoever.
  • Chang Wufei from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing was highly on offense and never cared about defense, even when playing chess.
    • As mentioned in the Carossa example above, Shinn Asuka of Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny is also a classic berserker. He's good enough to get away with it against anyone outside of Kira and Athrun. Interesting in that while an Anti-Villain, he's also a genuinely complex character, with a real life outside of Berserker-ing.
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam has Allenby Beardsley, normally a sweet and cheerful Genki Girl, whose handlers have fitted her Gundam with the aptly-named Berserker System, which forces her to fight like one of these.
      • Gundam Build Fighters likewise has the Embody System in Aila's helmet, which the characters explicitly compare to Allenby's Berserker System at one point. It's later used on an unwilling Meijin Kawaguchi just before the final round.
  • Ichigo's Inner Hollow in Bleach, being the personification of his aggression and bloodlust, fights relentlessly and mercilessly, and mocks Ichigo for not doing the same. Whenever it takes over his body it grants him great power and fights far more brutally than Ichigo is willing to and obviously doesn't care about Ichigo's goals.
  • Orson from Record of Lodoss War is an authentic berserker. He's generally The Stoic, since the emotional catharsis of his rage makes it difficult for him to feel, but hurt someone he cares for, especially his Tsundere partner Shiris... and well, see what happens.
    • And he's one of these for a HUGE reason, explained in the TV series. When he was a child, his beloved older sister sacrificed her life to save him from bandits. Then, he was possessed by a demon named Hyuri, and ever since then he's had the demon inside of him; whenever Orson gets upset, he loses control and Hyuri takes over, and only Shiris is able to calm him down.
  • Dawn's Mamoswine in Pokémon, arguably even worse than Ash's Charizard in its inability to follow orders.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima from Durarara!!. It's bad enough that he's inhumanly strong and uncontrollably violent when angry (read: all the time), he also happens to have such an insanely high pain threshold that even multiple gunshot wounds barely register — And, even then, only when he looks down and realizes that he's bleeding all over himself.
  • Ranma's "Cat Fist" mode is probably meant to be a form of berserk state. He starts to think he's a cat and attacks any threat with an Unstoppable Rage. (The original Norse Berserkers were said to believe themselves to be bears in the heat of action, hence the name - "berserk = "bear shirt".)
  • Koululu from Zatch Bell! becomes a berserker in the truest sense of the word when her spells are activated.
  • In Naruto, the Curse Seal personality of Jūgo behaves like this, willing to attack anyone it encounters.
  • Annelotte Kreutz becomes this whenever her demon side comes out in Queen's Blade Rebellion. In the original series, Tomoe ventured here after she was forced to fight her best friend Shizuka to the death.
  • Natsu from Fairy Tail lives this trope. But unlike most Berserkers, he shows little remorse or regret for his actions because they tend to be routed in rather pure hearted means, such as defending his True Companions. And he despises the thought of self-sacrifice, he just seems to think that if he tries hard enough (and again...and again) his enemy will eventually fall. It doesn't help that his magic tends to get boosted by his Berserker rages and he tends to come out of the other side better than the person he was facing, so more often than not he is proved right.
  • Eren Yeager from Attack on Titan has got pretty serious rage issues even in his normal state since at least around nine years old when he killed two grown men in cold blood. It is even more pronounced in his titan form.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin's "Batousai" state where he reverts to the cold hearted killer from the revolution.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: King Bradley certainly counts as this during his Last Stand. Mortally wounded and having fulfilled his role in Father's plan, he eagerly jumps into a battle to the death with Scar in order to go out with a bang.

    Comics 
  • Wolverine of X-Men. Though with his increasingly effective Healing Factor, he's really got nothing to worry about. This leads to unfortunate consequences.
  • Edward Hyde, as portrayed in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a Berserker. Initially he is just so powerful that he doesn't need to worry about taking risks in battle, but this shifts in the second volume when he takes perverse pleasure in sacrificing himself for the sake of killing some H.G. Wells Martians.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both Raphael and Casey Jones begin like this until they meet each other, which allows them both to gain some perspective; although they eventually cool down considerably, they are both keenly aware of their tendency to fly off the handle when provoked and try to avoid it.
  • Hooded Justice, the first ever superhero in the Watchmen universe, was one of these. In his first ever case as a vigilante, HJ beat up a street thug so bad he lost the use of his legs for the rest of his life.
  • Sláine, main character of the British comic of the same name, is in part based on Cuchulainn. An almost ridiculously powerful Celtic warrior, even by the standards of Heavy Metal-style comic magazines (imagine Conan the Barbarian on steroids), Slaine's favored weapon is a huge battle axe named "Brainbiter" with which he inflicts much carnage, and he embodies the power of the ri­astrad, or "Warp Spasm," which is capable of transforming him into a huge, monstrous mass of muscle and sinew which is incapable of distinguishing friend from foe, but is quite efficient when it comes to dispatching either. He is also, arguably, The Hero and The Big Guy of the series.
  • Green Lantern: Every single Red Lantern, bar maybe Atrocitus, who actually has a brain. One panel actually shows one shoving his head inside a Sinestro Corpsman made of acid.
    • This is by design: Atrocitus wanted an army of Ax-Crazy monsters to use as weapons against the Green Lantern Corps, not people capable of rational thought, so he built the rings to induce this state. With the Red Lantern Corps's shift to Villain Protagonist, Atrocitus has been giving more and more of his Corps free will via Applied Phlebotinum. They'll still all gut you at the drop of a hat, but at least now they might tell you why...
  • Mazikeen from Lucifer gains this as a nickname. She's not averse to it.
  • The Vertigo comic Northlanders, which is all about Vikings, has a few mentions of the original Berserkers. The attitude towards them is distilled by one comic, which more or less says "Singers loved them for their deeds, and lords loved them because they could give them no armor and no pay after they died, and no one else remembered them, because they seldom lasted longer than a raiding season or two."
  • Sin City has Marv who fights in a very berserk manner, throwing himself head first into the fight with no regard for his own safety. In fact, in his initial story arc, he expects to die anyway.
  • The Incredible Hulk is the personification of this trope because he is Bruce Banner's latent rage taken a physical form. He's Marvel's best example of a berserker.
  • The Mighty Thor can be a berserker at times, notably when he suffers from warrior's madness. It took Thanos bringing Thor before Odin to cure Thor. Everyone else was on the receiving end of a Curbstomp Battle.
  • Juggernaut is tough to stop normally. Try stopping him when he's not happy.
  • Good luck if you manage to piss off Superman. It doesn't happen often but when it does...
  • Paperinik New Adventures: Xadhoom is this regarding Evronians. Justified, as they are responsible for the genocide of her race.
  • Transformers: Has several: In many continuities, all or most of the Dinobots have this, particularly Grimlock.
    • In the IDW comics, Cyclonus is this, while trying to be The Stoic. He flies into a rage in his Spotlight, angry at how his home was destroyed, among other things, and charges through gunfire, in his rage, he laments about how he strives to seek order, but ironically he's the very chaotic element he despises. Eventually he grows out of this, becoming the stoic full time, though a conversation during a fight implies he can fly back into this.
  • In B.P.R.D., Agent Howards collapses in a coma after touching an ancient Hyperborean sword. When he eventually awakes, he has the memories and personality of the proto-human warrior who originally wielded the sword, and from then on forgoes body armor or firearms, using nothing but the sword to devastating effect. The other BPRD agents are more than a little creeped out by him.
  • Glory, at least in her current incarnation by the Ross Campbell/Joe Keatinge team, likes to hulk out harder than the Hulk, exploding out of her magical armor, turning into a cyclopean, fast flying, world destroying mass of crystalline muscles able to tear not just any old gods to pieces, but the Thulian gods of conquest. Not without reason most of the people in the comic treat the protagonist as the greatest threat against all existence that ever existed.
  • Wildcat was one of Tomahawk's rangers in Tomahawk. Although originally a member of a pacifist sect, he became a wild man in combat and was the most enthusiastic member when it came to charging into battle.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Transformers Meta[1], Grimlock is the berserker of the Autobot team. His vulgar perspectives and behavior are theoretically due to his being subject to experimentation during the Abominus Initiative, where he was transformed into a monstrous persona. This gives him the Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Shinji Ikari in Points Of Familiarity.
  • The Master Chief in Halo Combat Deformed.
  • Socrates, if angered, quickly turns into this in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series.
    Hobbes: When he gets mad, he won't even try to hold it in.
  • Jayne in Forward, to the point where "... Jayne saw red" are practically Arc Words. It's actually a weird sort of Character Development for him, showing that he now cares enough about the crew (especially River) to become incandescent with Unstoppable Rage when they're hurt or threatened.
  • Game Theory has berserker lineages, bloodlines engineered to have a reduced fear response and enhanced magical abilities in combat. Mei, one of the original characters, is such a person, and while it allows her to deal with the stress of combat on her first deployment like a veteran, it also causes her serious problems in her normal life and makes her extremely reckless because her risk assessment skills are completely screwed up. Nanoha might be descended from a berserker lineage as well, although that's in-universe Wild Mass Guessing.
  • Shinji Ikari again in Matters of Faith. Besides going berserk almost every time he sorties in his Eva, he's also attacked Touji and Kensuke when he thought they were threatening Rei and beat the hell out of a highschooler for smashing his SDAT.

    Films — Live Action 
  • The aptly-named Sven the Berserk in Erik the Viking is one comedic example. His father is also a berserker and lectures him on berserking.
  • In The 13th Warrior, Ahmad ibn Fadlan goes battle-mad during one attack, but seeing as he's hanging around Vikings and taking on more and more of their culture, it's not surprising.
  • Ajax in Troy. When he goes into battle, no Annoying Arrows or mere impalement can stop him from administering a righteous hammer of justice.
  • Parodied by Mr. Furious in Mystery Men. He gets angry. He gets real angry. That's it. No super-strength, no supernatural resistance to pain or injury, and he doesn't change into a monster. He's just a raging Ben Stiller with all the fighting ability of a loaf of bread. Then he finally finds something to get righteously furious about, and suddenly becomes as superstrong as he's supposed to be...
  • Dying in battle was a family tradition for Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump and he is furious when Forrest saves him (especially since he was crippled by his injury).
  • Benjamin Martin in The Patriot exhibits berserker-like qualities in battle. Especially his first and last fight scenes.
  • Unleashed: Danny fights with pure aggression when he's let off his leash.
  • Godzilla. When he gets into a fight, he doesn't stop until either his enemy has been defeated or until the battle ends in a draw. Only rarely has he been defeated in battle.
    • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah takes this Up to Eleven after Destoroyah kills Junior. Godzilla goes into a berserk rage and begins to unleash his wrath unto Destroyah all the while dying of a nuclear meltdown. This causes Destoroyah, one of the most (if not the most) sadistic and evil monsters in the films to run for his life.
    • This is a major plot point in the film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. It turns out that hearing Godzilla's roar is enough to send Kiryu (a cyborg version of the original Godzilla) to rampage across Tokyo. The JSDF end up reprogramming him to ensure this doesn't happen again.
    • Gigan and King Ghidorah are two evil examples of this. They don't care what planet they're helping the alien villains to conquer and why. As long as they get to fight and destroy things, they're happy.
  • One of the replacement players in The Replacements is Danny Bateman, a riot cop and Gulf War veteran. Stoic and reserved under normal circumstances, the second he's expected to perform he becomes a lunatic, equally likely to inflict bodily harm on friend and foe alike.
  • The Captain during the final battle in 300 becomes the Death Seeker version of this trope, having already witnessed the death of his son and knowing no Spartan will survive this fight. Boar spears have a cross-bar behind the head to prevent animals from doing the same thing the Captain does, which is charge up the spear haft after it pierces his gut - so that he can kill the wielder. Like most fabled berserkers, he is only defeated by the combined efforts of several enemy hacking him to pieces.
  • In the X-Men films, Wolverine often flies into a rage when he's in a fight.

    Literature 
  • Wulfgar, the barbarian from the popular Drizzt novels (based on the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms setting), seems to fit into this type in almost every fight he's in after being resurrected after a decade of torment by Errtu. Unable to cope with the hopelessness and torture he endured, and fearing that his escape is all some dream, he fights recklessly. Several times, Drizzt and others have had to divert their tactics to save him from himself.
    • For that matter, Drizzt himself also shows aspects of the trope. In a mild form, he's often surprised other characters at how enthusiastically he joins battle against evil foes (especially giantkin). In a played-straight form, he has his Hunter persona, when he lets his survival instinct take complete control. True to form, he does sometimes suffer a Heroic BSOD after these instances.
  • Skaldians from Ranger's Apprentice series can (unintentionally) enter sort of a berserker state, when they gain super-strength and supernatural resistance to pain and wound. And become Ax-Crazy. Most of them doesn't survive the experience, though.
  • Fitz, protagonist of Robin Hobb's Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies, tends to go into a "battle haze" whenever he fights, disregarding his own safety to savagely lay about himself. This makes him very effective during battle, but then he's left standing around delirious for a few minutes until the berserker-mode wears off.
  • In Robert Low's The Whale Road one of the Viking ship's crew is a skinny man with a bad leg named Pintel. Throughout the story the main character, Orm wonders why no-one ever mocks Pintel over anything and why the man is even able to mock their Captain while anyone else is threatened with death. Later on a newer Christian member of the crew pulls down Pintel's offering to Odin and in the ensuing argument mocks Pintel's leg. Pintel challenges the man to a fight. At the beginning of the duel Pintel throws away his shield and begins to froth at the mouth. Pintel then leaps onto the challenger and hacks at him until there is very little left other than a lot of blood and some blocks of flesh.
  • Also in the Forgotten Realms are the dwarven Battleragers who love combat and jump into it with a glee that scares their allies as much as the enemy. Considering that their fighting style incorporates armour that can only be described as a mobile cheese grater which is used to shred opponents by rubbing against them with furiously, this is probably justified.
  • Grigoriy Pechorin, the Byronic Hero of Mikhail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time, has extreme ennui for a fatal flaw and so lives by this principle as well. He leads charges on enemy positions, enters a duel he knows to be rigged and volunteers to tackle an Ax-Crazy drunken Cossack.
  • Logen Ninefingers from Joe Abercrombie's The First Law trilogy is a pretty tough fella normally, but when he's desperate, hurt and loses control he becomes "The Bloody-Nine", an unstoppable warrior who has no distinction between "friend" and "foe", only "dead" and "soon to be dead". Other Named Men, already battle-hardened warriors with one or two exceptions, are absolutely terrified of him, to the point that his name is used as a warcry to terrify Northerners, later on.
  • Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series:
    • Touchstone goes into rages that give him frightening power and disregard for things such as physical impossibilities (i.e. trying to hoist up a throne affixed to the floor so he can throw it at someone). He regrets these bitterly, and they are said to be the result of his mother's affair with a warrior from the North. It is revealed towards the end of Sabriel that this is why he was frozen as a figurehead of a ship for 200 years.
    • His son, Sam, inherits this trait to a degree. Perhaps due to his more cautious disposition, he never loses himself to the extent that Touchstone does.
  • The Badger Lords, and anyone else unfortunate enough to have the bloodwrath, from Brian Jacque's Redwall series. When the bloodwrath takes over, the warrior will throw themselves into battle, seeking to reach and kill their mortal enemy. They are completely heedless of their own safety, and will kill anyone—friend or foe—who tries to get in their way or otherwise stop them. They usually end up killing scores of foes, their mortal enemy, and themselves.
  • In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien:
    • The Lord of the Rings: In the Battle of Pelennor fields, King Theoden of Rohan is described by the narration has having "awoken the inherited berserker-rage of his ancestors". Later, when his nephew Éomer finds Theoden's body together with his unconscious sister and believing her to be dead as well, he turns into a full-on Death Seeker.
    • A few characters from The Silmarillion also qualify. For instance:
    "Maedhros did deeds of surpassing valour, and the Orcs fled before his face; for since his torment upon Thangorodrim his spirit burned like a white fire within."
    "Last of all Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed; and it is sung that the axe smoked in the black blood of the troll-guard of Gothmog until it withered, and each time that he slew Húrin cried 'Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!' Seventy times he uttered that cry; but they took him at last alive..."
    • Beorn in The Hobbit plays this quite literally, being a "skin-changer" who can take on the form of an actual bear in battle.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novels Deus Encarmine'' and ''Deus Sanguinius, the Blood Angels are perpetually tempted by their "flaw", the "red thirst", which transforms them into this when they succumb. Stele unleashes it in opponents to be rid of them. At the climax, Rafen succumbs to this; on the other hand, it does unlock the powers of the Spear of Telesto for him, and the daemon he fights is shocked to see that the many futures in which Rafen failed instantly vanish. Then the spear protects him. When the dying daemon unleashes it in the other Blood Angels, they terrify their enemies, who retreat although they never retreat, and the spear even, astoundingly enough, lets Rafen bring back his battle brothers who had succumbed.
  • David Weber's War God's Oath series features a species of these. It's somewhat involuntary, and they're not happy about that.
  • Erik Hakkonsen from the Shadow of the Lion series is capable of this, but since he doesn't know friend from foe once he enters a rage, he refuses to do it when the prince he's guarding is nearby.
  • In Wraith Squadron, the multiminded alien character "Runt" had a "pilot mind" who was a berserker. As berserkers make very bad pilots, Runt did badly enough to qualify for the Wraiths. With his wingman's help Runt eventually got over this problem.
  • In The Warlord Chronicles, Derfel muses several times about how any man, whether he be a justice loving generous soul like Arthur or a loving family man like Derfel can transform into a monster in battle, especially when victory seems likely.
    ''A terrible hate wells up in battle, a hatred that comes from the dark soul to fill a man with fierce and bloody anger. I knew that Saxon shield wall would break. I knew it long before I attacked it. The wall was too thin, had been too hurried in the making, and was too nervous, and so I broke out of our front rank and shouted my hate at the enemy. At that moment all I wanted to do was kill... so I ran ahead, madness filling my soul and exultation giving me a terrible power as I picked my victims. They were two young men, both smaller than me, both nervous, both with skimpy beards, and both were shrinking away even before I hit them. They saw a British warlord in splendor, I saw two dead Saxons.
    • Also his description of the Irish Blackshields, an army of berserker soldiers and raiders.
      The Blackshields did not attack in a line, but came in a howling mass. This was the Irish way of war, a terrifying assault of maddened men who came to the slaughter like lovers.
  • Galbatorix creates groups of magically modified soldiers who cannot feel pain in the third book of the Inheritance Cycle. They disregard their safety because they can take crippling injuries and continue on, making them a whole army of berserkers.
    • Roran Stronghammer once killed nearly 200 men in a single battle and when he starts fighting is said to experience a battle rage that lends him strength and allows him to overcome many obstacles. Though he also still relies on smarts and cunning.
  • Jarek of The Seventh Tower.
  • In the Starlight and Shadows trilogy by Elaine Cunningham one of protagonists is a berserker. Since the abilities are considered partially magical, when Toril's magic was messed up, he became a little closer to the original — that is, his rage sooner or later started spontaneously in any fight, then he lost all control and usually fought until no standing opponents present (though he still accepted unambiguous surrender in this state). Since both he and his superiors knew soon he's likely to lose ability to tell foes from allies, this was a problem.
  • Boďndil from Dwarves, to the point that he mistook his wife for an orc and killed her while raging. And he's a good guy.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Rogues in the House", "The dust of the gray lotus, from the Swamps of the Dead, beyond the land of Khitai" turns some trapped intruders into this. They have no one to turn on but each other.
    • Conan himself is a natural berserker. As put in Queen of the Black Coast, "The fighting-madness of his race was upon him, and with a red mist of unreasoning fury wavering before his blazing eyes, he cleft skulls, smashed breasts, severed limbs, ripped out entrails, and littered the deck like a shambles with a ghastly harvest of brains and blood."
    • Many of Howard's other characters are also born berserkers, including King Kull and Solomon Kane, all the more unnerving with the latter because of his otherwise ironclad self-control, like in "Wings in the Night" when the akaana slaughter his new friends: "Kane laid the body gently down, looking for Kuroba. He saw only a huddled cluster of grisly shapes that sucked and tore at something between them. And Kane went mad." Kane gone mad is frightening as Hell.
    • In "Black Colossus," The Horde led by Natohk (a.k.a. Thugra Khotan) attacks without thought.
  • According to Audie Murphy's autobiography To Hell and Back, there were two occasions when he started firing an oversized gun, cursing, and giving no regard to his own safety. He says that the memories of these events are very fuzzy, like it was a dream.
  • Among the many, many werewolves of The Dresden Files are lycanthropes, humans who don't actually shapeshift but maintain a pack mentality and have major rage issues. When the full moon comes around, they go feral and have to hunt something down.
    • A Harry Dresden whose instinctive sense of decency has been outraged is a truly fearsome sight - and the last for anybody or anything that tries to stand against him.
    • When Harry fully embraced his mantle as Winter Knight he became nearly animalistic in combat. He soon realized that the ability to ignore his wounds and predatory mindset were actually more dangerous to him than his enemy and managed to regain control.
  • Deverry novels:
    • Rhodry Maelwaedd, most notably during his time as a silver dagger. Rhodry has an extended metaphor about his love for "Lady Death".
    • One of Jill's past lives, the warrior woman Gweniver, was like this as well. Both Gwen and Rhodry are referred to as "chortling" in battle.
    • Jill herself went berserk exactly once. It scared her so much she never did that again.
  • The Rifter: John when his Rifter self is unleashed. He becomes a divinely-powered whirlwind of fury, smashing everyone and everything in his path; he charges straight into armies, taking innumerable wounds, whose pain fuels his rage and which heal instantly. He is almost as dangerous to friends as to enemies, especially when he shatters buildings and creates gaping chasms in the earth.
  • With her grizzly bear morph, Rachel from Animorphs is a particularly apt example of this trope. She's been known to use her own severed arm as a weapon in the heat of battle.
  • Karsa Orlong from Malazan Book of the Fallen uses this exclusively. It's all he knows and it works. So far...
  • The Underland Chronicles:
    • In Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor learns he's a "rager" a person with highly developed warrior skills, a natural-born killer. Meaning he has a natural capacity to go into this state when his life is in danger. It's not always voluntary, which is really bad for a character who normally hates to kill.
    • Ripred is also a "rager".
  • Hurt her husband or her son and Amelia Peabody becomes something far more elemental than an English lady. Watch out for the parasol.
  • In the world of The Icelandic Sagas, a warrior in berserk-fury is not only supernaturally strong and ferocious, but may also be invulnerable to fire and regular weapons. The sagas' outlook on berserkers and berserking is very ambiguous, because the older pagan tradition saw these behavior or ability as a good thing, while the Christian Middle Ages viewed it either as mere superstition or as evil pagan magic. As a result, when berserkers (berserkir) appear in the sagas, they often do not actually fit this trope: Often, they are merely bandits and troublemakers who live by robbing and blackmailing people and who never actually prove the supernatural ferocity that they claim to possess; the implication is that they just want to scare people into submission with their bogus "berserk powers". Consequently, the sagas will usually avoid calling (especially heroic) characters that display actual berserking behavior "berserkers", presumably because the term is so strongly connected to the aforementioned villain stereotype. Some examples of saga characters that go on berserk rampages without ever being called "berserkers":
    • Kveldulf, Skallagrim and especially Egil of Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson frequently fall into berserk-fury in combat.
    • The Saga of Hrolf Kraki: The hero Bodvar Bjarki goes on a furious killing rampage in King Hrolf's final battle.
    • Aslak Holmskalle in Saga of the Jomsvikings is a berserk, as demonstrated not only by his ferocity but also his Nigh-Invulnerability.
  • Valgard of The Broken Sword:
    But after a while the berserkergang began to come on Valgard, he trembled and frothed and gnawed the rim of his shield, he rushed forward howling and slaying.
  • Harry Harrison and Tom Shippey's The Hammer And The Cross trilogy features a realistic Nordic berserkr as a major supporting character. When not fighting, he's brooding and melancholy, prone to fits of heavy drinking. When fighting, he's a Death Seeker. One of the main characters notes that all "true" berserkrs are inherently Death Seekers.
  • Taur Urgas of Belgariad. He's the Ax-Crazy King of Cthol Murgos, and The Brute of the series' Five-Bad Band. He's a total mental case who sleeps in his armour, is prone to fits of madness during which he does everything from commit murder to chewing the furniture, and completely gives into his rage in battle, actually frothing at the mouth as he leads his troops into battle. His madness gives his men a peculiar sense of invincibility, and when he dies (while demanding his enemy come back and fight) their spirits are completely broken.
    • Barak is a heroic version, who literally turns into a bear and flips out when Garion is in trouble. Bear in mind that Garion pretty much exists solely to get into trouble for the greater good.
  • Adus of The Elenium becomes this towards the end. Already an Ax-Crazy mentally-handicapped Psycho for Hire, he loses his mind during the climax, to the point where he cuts his way through his own troops to get at Kalten.
  • Seoyun from The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor.
  • ''Who's Afraid of Beowulf?'' features Starkad the Berserker, the sweetest, kindest if rather dim hero you'd ever want to meet - outside of battle that is.
  • The Koloss from Mistborn are a race of berserkers. They're used as shock troops by The Empire and were in fact originally created for this purpose, but in the 1st book the protagonists don't have to worry about them since they're operating La Résistance in The Empire's capital, and the koloss's blood rage means they can't ever be allowed near major population centers you want to leave standing. In the 2nd and 3rd books after the Lord Ruler, who was essentially restraining them telepathically, dies, the koloss start wandering around in hordes and killing anyone they can get their hands on. Eventually the new Big Bad, Ruin, takes command of them.
  • Sam Vimes exhibits some of these qualities, especially in the climactic battles of Night Watch and Thud!. In Night Watch, Vimes taps into his long-buried rage (that he calls "The Beast") and lets it out as he grabs two swords and hacks his way through the enemy, described as "he wasn't an enemy, he was a nemesis." In Thud!, he appears to be doing much the same thing, to the point of ignoring a dwarfish flamethrower being used on him. Although in that case, it was also a case of possession as he was under the influence of a quasi-demonic thing of pure vengeance called the Summoning Dark.
  • In The Generalist you have both Frank and Dash, through different means. In Frank's case, if he gets pushed too far beyond his limits of control, or if his rage takes over, or if his quirk of nature "Overkill" gains control of his body, then he can fly into an utter Berserker rage. Dash, on the other hand, has a far greater chance - each time he uses the ability Maximum Troll, his chance of slipping into a Monster-gene fueled berserker fury rises.
    • In Taboos 2 and 3, he actually does lose it, forcing Frank to hit him with the Roadbuster. The first two times broke him out of Maximum Troll, the third was just for fun.

    Live Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Gunn, as a result of Survivor Guilt and blaming himself for Alonna's death. Negated when he fell in love with Fred, giving him a new lease on life.
    • Connor tries to commit Suicide by Cop after Jasmine's defeat, and doesn't care if the Cop has to be Angel.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When we first meet Faith, the result of witnessing the gruesome death of her Watcher. She relapses back into it when she awakens from her coma.
    Buffy: Girl's not playing with a full deck, Giles. She has no deck. She has a 3.
  • Numerous alien species from the various Star Trek franchises, including the Klingons and Jem'Hadar (the latter first appearing in Deep Space Nine continuity), are brutally fierce warrior races which not only show no fear of death but in some instances actually seem to relish the prospect of death in battle (although the Enterprise franchise plays down this aspect of Klingon culture somewhat).
  • Gem and Gemma of Power Rangers RPM. A pair of psychopathic Man Children who have a five year old's fascination for guns and explosions (or rather, "boom time") and a Henshin Hero's armory. They have to be reminded rather frequently to, for example, not blow up the enemy factory until prisoners have been removed.
  • Kamen Rider Double's Mid-Season Upgrade, FangJoker, first started out as this, due to Philip's difficulty in controlling it.
  • Vikings, while actually being a historical fiction series about the Trope Namers, didn't really have an actual Norse berserk warrior in season 1, but Tostig and Rollo fit this trope in all other respects. Then in season 2 Rollo, Jarl Borg, and a group of Borg's men are seen eating mushrooms before a battle and charging into the fight bare chested. Rollo's actions in the battle are horrifically brutal, and he attacks several of his former comrades savagely until a combination of having killed one of those comrades via Impaled with Extreme Prejudice and being confronted by his brother Ragnar finally snap Rollo out of it.

    Music 
  • A few characters from Food For The Gods, most notably The Black Knight.
  • Manowar's "The Sons of Odin," in a particularly Bad Ass part of the song:
    Onward, into the heart of the battle fought the sons of Odin.
    Outnumbered many times, still they fought on.
    Blood poured forth from their wounds deep into the earth.
    Vultures waited for the broken shells that once were bodies.
    But Odin alone would choose the day they would enter Valhalla
    AND IN THEIR HOUR OF NEED HE SENT FORTH UNTO THEM... THE BERSERKER RAGE!
    NOW GODS AND MEN THEY ROSE UP FROM THE GROUND SCREAMING LIKE WILD ANIMALS,
    THEY KILLED MEN AND HORSES ALIKE,
  • Heather Alexander's "Don't Call My Name In Battle" has a berserker giving some very important advice to his comrades:
    Don't call my name in battle — it's not wise.
    Do not distract me when you see a new soul in these eyes.
    For when the war god fills this flesh I wear,
    I am no more your friend; I am the spirit of the bear.
    Don't call my name in battle — stand away,
    For I will never hear you, but some other creature may.
    It never sees a friend, but only foes.
    Just count the bodies lying where this taken body goes.
    Don't call my name in battle — wait the time,
    Until I fall and rise again with eyes you know are mine.
    And then perhaps we'll rest and talk of home.
    But you'll not be surprised to see how much I walk alone.
  • Brad Neely's Role Play Tournament (Be Aggressive) chronicles how a tabletop RPG player wins a tournament with his berserker-type character. It even goes as far as revealing his self-examination, in that despite his own admission of his lack of self-control, he just goes on punching holes in ships and ripping other characters asunder.
    Mirror, mirror, uh
    Up on the wall, uh
    Who's the baddest motherfucker of them all, uh
    Just like Columbus, uh
    He get the bloodlust, uh
    Just like Columbus he get murderous on purpose
  • 'Berserker' by Rubén Álvarez (naturally)note .
  • The song "Valhall Awaits Me" by Amon Amarth is all about one.
    "SWORD IN MY HAND!
    AX ON MY SIDE!
    VALHALL AWAITS!
    SOON! I WILL DIE!
    SWORD IN MY HAND!
    AX ON MY SIDE!
    VALHALL AWAITS ME
    WHEN I DIE!
    BEARSKIN ON MY BACK!
    WOLF'S JAW ON MY HEAD!
    VALHALL AWAITS ME
    WHEN I'M DEAD!"

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In the mythology of the Trope Namers, Odin was the patron God of the berserkers. The name Odin actually means the furious.
  • In Irish legend, when the hero Cuchulainn went into "warp-spasm," he was invincible — but could not distinguish friend from foe.
  • Lancelot from Arthurian legends had many aspects of this trope. When Monty Python did their Holy Grail movie, Lancelot's character was preserved. He was memorable for scenes where he would kill innocents and be pretty sorry for it later, just like the stories.
  • Lu Bu of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms mythos only knows of two commands: "kill" and "kill faster". He's one of the most powerful characters you encounter in Dynasty Warriors, and it will take an extremely high-leveled character to survive a direct assault against him. Yuan Shao said it best in the Battle of Hu Lao Gate in DW3: "Don't pursue Lu Bu".
    • DW6 ups the ante by providing a Musou Mode for Lu Bu. During this, you (playing as Lu Bu) jumps headfirst into several historical, large-scale battles, usually accompanied only by one or two squads of retainers, and proceeds to take on BOTH armies. For no other reason than the desire to fight and kill. At the end, you are looking out from above Hu Lao Gate at an army consisting of the joined forces of EVERY hero and warlord of the Three Kingdoms period, including several who've risen from the grave to join the fight. What do you do? Why, obviously, you leap off the wall and charge headfirst into the million-strong armies. And win.
    • Ironically, the source material subverts this somewhat — his Romance of the Three Kingdoms incarnation is more noted for treachery by murdering first his original lord for money/power, then killing his new lord more or less for a woman — even if this killing was the culmination of a "pro-Han" coup, less than great leadership... and comes to a far more humiliating ending.
  • Although Ajax from The Iliad is described as a defensive fighter in the poem, a post-Homeric source makes him into this. At one point, blind with fury over not getting the recently-deceased Achilles' armor, he goes into a berserk rage and kills a bunch of sheep, thinking they are the Greek army. When he realizes what he has done, he is Driven to Suicide. He is depicted the same way in Troy, although the whole "sheep-killing" thing is skipped over.
    • Diomedes also fits, being unwilling to stand down in the face of two deities. He wounds both of them and forces them to retreat.
    • Achilles himself is also an example— once he gets out of his tent, that is.
    • So is Agamemnon, much to the surprise of those who know him from adaptations where he's a Dirty Coward.
  • Heracles was also known to fly into mad rages at times. This was never a pleasant thing for anyone he was fighting— or for any innocents in the vicinity. He murdered his family one time after a particular nasty rage brought about by Hera, which led to him undertaking the Twelve Labors as atonement.
    • The Maenads, Dionysus's female followers. Presumably, before joining Dionysus's cult, they were normal women. But in their ritualistic frenzies, what with their chanting, shrieking, and tearing people and animals apart with their bare hands, they'd be at least as terrifying as the Viking Trope Namers.
    • Ares represented this aspect of war as opposed to Athena's more measured approach.
  • Kali in Hindu Mythology. Normally the benevolent mother goddess Parvati, she notably slew the demon Raktabija who kept making copies each time his blood was spilled. The solution? She drains his blood and eats the duplicates. Trouble was, she got blood thirsty, literally. She wouldn't stop until her husband Shiva either turned into a baby to bring out her maternal instincts or trampled by a dancing Kali who snapped out of it once she realized what she was doing.
  • The Book of Judges in The Bible reports that "the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson" several times, which inevitably resulted in a high body count. On one occasion he killed one thousand Philistines singlehandedly, armed only with a donkey's jawbone.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Khornate Berserkers in both Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. The 40k Berserkers actually undergo voluntary lobotomies to increase their psychotic blood lust. The page quote is one of their most infamous warcries. It also helps that in regular Warhammer that Khorne's warriors tend to come from a fantasy Viking culture.
    • Blood Angels Death Company. When they meet the above, things get really bloody, even by 40K's standards.
    • Both da Orks and many Space Wolves of the ranks of Blood Claw or Skyclaw.
    • Kharn the Betrayer takes it Up to Eleven when he attacked his own fellow World Eaters when they wouldn't fight in the cold.
    • Warhammer is no slacker, with Witch Elves, Savage Orcs, Skaven Plague Monks, and anyone else with the Frenzy special rule. One classic Skaven spell, Death Frenzy, would turn any Skaven unit into this... but they'd be so psychotic that they would rip each other to shreds as well.
  • The Crab Clan in Legend of the Five Rings has two distinct flavors - one set reaching a Zen-like state of rage and frequently composed of Death Seekers from the shamed Hiruma family, and the other typified by Hida Amoro, who was utterly terrifying in combat for both ally and enemy as well as being an honorless cretin outside of combat (standing out even in the rough-around-the-edges Crab Clan). The latter style of berserker generally became the only variety.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, the frenzied berserker class can enter frenzies for bonuses. If it kills all the enemies in sight? They start killing allies.
    • In many editions of D&D, Barbarians in general qualify as these, though unlike the Frenzied Berserker, they have some control over who they go after when they start laying about with their big melee weapons.
  • In the classic Avalon Hill WWII game, Squad Leader, shooting at Russian infantry was a dangerous pastime. If you rolled a K(ill), fine; but if you did anything BUT kill the squad, it had a chance to go berserk and ignore all results EXCEPT K, as well as vastly improved close combat abilities. Realistic? Well, it's Squad Leader, where all the streets in the villages are 40 meters wide.
  • Any vampire can do this in the New World of Darkness by "riding the wave" during Frenzy, entering a state where they control which targets they attack instead of just tearing crap up. One good example is the Sotoha bloodline, which grants its members the ability to perfectly hone and control their Frenzy... but having them technically be in Frenzy all the goddamn time.
  • The tiraks in Eon, especially the frakk, are quite (in)famous for this ability. Since tiraks are well above humans in terms of strength and endurance, they can afford to be a bit reckless.
  • Rifts, in its book Pantheons of the Megaverse, has a Berserker Character Class in its section on Norse Mythology. These berserkers go into their rage by stomping their feet on the ground, yelling, biting their shields, etc. This gives them combat bonuses to attack, but penalties to avoid being attacked.
  • The Hero System models this with the Enraged and Berserk disadvantages/complications, both of which specify a trigger condition, a trigger chance, and what dice roll it takes to snap out of that state again. (An enraged character will at least first of all attack whatever provoked them, while one who's gone berserk simply lashes out blindly altogether.) As written, this is simply pure drawback that doesn't improve the character's actual combat performance in play any (except inasmuch as having to all-out attack happens to inadvertantly help more than it hinders); to have a berserker who also gets more powerful in that state, the player would have to buy appropriate stat boosts, skill levels, and/or powers with an "only while enraged/berserk" limitation.

    Video Games 
  • See also: "Berserk" under Standard Status Effect, which generally forces characters under it to only use basic attacks, often with an offensive boost or defensive penalty.
  • The Berserker Class from AdventureQuest Worlds There are also Berserker Armors like Berserker Champion and Berserker Bunny there is even a test-class called Beta Berserker
  • Sork from Treasure of the Rudra is always itching for a fight.
  • Leeeerooooy Jenkins! from World of Warcraft.
    • Fury Warriors operate like this. Their main battle stance is called Berserker Stance, a good portion of their cooldown abilities let them deal more damage in exchange for taking more damage, and they eventually learn how to dual wield two-handed weapons.
    • Tanks that are overgeared for the content they are running will often fall into this, forging on ahead with seemingly little regard for the state of the rest of the party, or even their own remaining health, believing themselves to have little to fear from what they're facing. While they're often correct, they do sometimes go too far, doing things like pulling opponents either numerous or powerful enough to drop their health faster than their healer can replenish it, or jumping into a fight when their healer doesn't have the resources to keep them going long enough to finish it.
  • The Black Whirlwind from Jade Empire fits this trope perfectly. The character he was based on, from the Water Margin, was exactly the same.
  • Boisterous Bruiser Minsc and Sociopathic Hero Korgan from the Baldur's Gate series are both good examples of this trope. Despite being the good one of the two, Minsc's berserker rage is even more indiscriminate than Korgan's, as he is prone to attacking his allies if no enemies are present.
  • Saix from Kingdom Hearts II, while normally seeming to be cold and composed, becomes this in battle when the moon shines upon him. His personal "race" of Nobodies are dubbed Berserkers as a nod to the Final Fantasy player class.
    • Beast probably counts too. He always charge against The Heartless head-on with horns, teeth, claws, and a roar, just the roar can kill the weaker ones, and Hades is THE Disney villain version of this.
    • One ability is called "Berserk", which helps the party member who has it to become stronger if he has less life and the first one to get it was Donald.
  • Hardfangs in Resistance: Fall of Man are said to have all instincts of self-preservation removed in place of aggressiveness for superior combat performance. True to form, they only have one eye.
  • Luca Blight from Suikoden II is what happens when you make a character like this a Big Bad. In the Climax Boss battle against him, he fights until his body is so full of wounds that it gives out on him (but not before fighting through several armies worth of enemies) and he only laughs while spiting the main party for being pansies.
  • Gears of War has an enemy actually called "Berserkers" which are essentially female Locust Drones covered in armored plating that renders them invincible to small arms and explosives. Being blind they track targets by scent and smell, but have enough muscle and mass to pound through solid stone walls. The only infantry-portable weapon capable of killing them reliably is the Hammer Of Dawn target designator, though in a pinch one can improvise using the terrain. In Gears Of War 3, a new variant of the Berserker appears in the form of the Lambent Berserker, which in addition to being nearly invincible, also has multiple arms and bladed tentacles and leaks poisonous Imulsion when wounded.
  • The various Final Fantasy games have had several different types of Berserkers. The most common version is the Berserk spell, which does exactly what it sounds like when you cast it on someone. Final Fantasy VI has the yeti Umaro as a playable character who could not be controlled by the player and otherwise attacked the enemies whenever his turn came up in battle, and Final Fantasy V, and Final Fantasy X-2 all had the Berserker available in their Job systems, though X-2's is the only one where you retained control.
    • Final Fantasy II had a Berserk spell that didn't make the characters uncontrollable, making it far more useful.
    • Final Fantasy XI also has Berserk as a Warrior Job Ability. Upon use, the player retains full control of the player and receives a 25% increase to the Attack stat, but at the cost of a 25% penalty to defense.
    • Final Fantasy XIV again gives Marauders and Warriors Berserk, which boosts attack by 50% for 15 seconds, but makes it so you can't use weaponskills for five seconds afterwards.
  • In Battle for Wesnoth whenever a Dwarvish Ulfserker enters melee combat, the attack cycle will repeat until one of the units dies or if the battle lasts for thirty rounds (which is extremely rare). This makes them extremely good at slaughtering Squishy Wizards, especially the poor Dark Adept, which has no melee attacks at all. The game hangs a lampshade on this by having the Ulf and its upgrade, the Berserker laugh maniacally when they attack a unit without a melee retaliation.
  • Grom Hellscream from Warcraft II and III. His rage leads to him actually doing a Leeroy Jenkins attack in WC3 (several years before the Trope Namer did his stuff).
    • Trolls have had Berserkers since their first appearance in Warcraft II. Unlike most depictions of Berserkers, they're ranged attackers that throw spears or axes at their opponents. They have an improved regeneration and have an ability that makes them attack faster but take more damage. Troll Berserkers are incredibly buff and larger then Orc Grunts! This state is achieved through goblin or troll alchemy experimentation and you actually see the trolls hulk out when upgraded to berserkers. An interesting tidbit was that in Warcraft II, Troll Berserkers were the only trolls seen with tusks.
  • The Stronghold creatures introduced in Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East. Most of the units (except the Wyverns) have the "Rage" property if lead by a Barbarian Hero. Said "Rage" absorbs a portion of damage and increases the damage done by the unit depending on Rage level. Fitting the trope, the units lose Rage points if they do anything except move, use their special abilities, or attack.
  • In Close Combat, soldiers will occasionally become "Heroic," "Fanatic," or "Berzerk." They'll disregard suppressive fire, and sometimes charge across open ground to close with the enemy. They die just as easily as everyone else, though.
  • Asha the assassin in Iji is sort of like this, as he won't teleport away even if he's about to die. He does say that he would rather die than be defeated by her. If she doesn't show up to fight him, he skips the middle man and just blows himself up alone. So, it's doubtful he had many qualms about his safety at that point.
    • Also relating him to the trope is a logbook by another assassin that criticizes him for rushing straight in to battle like he was a One Woman Army like Iosa. He is physically weak and the one advantage he has over stronger adversaries (and walls, for that matter...) is technique, but he still acts like an idiot and disregards his own weaknesses.
  • Iori Yagami from The King of Fighters series. In KoF '95, when he was first introduced, he brutally beat his teammates Eiji Kasaragi and Billy Kane when losing their match prevented him from taking a shot at his nemesis Kyo. (Brutally enough to have them both enjoy a lengthy vacation at a hospital.) And that was before his tainted Orochi blood caused him to fling into the Riot of Blood and tear Vice and Mature to pieces on KoF '96. (And Orochi himself on KoF '97 with Kyo's and Chizuru's help.) Having his purple flames stolen by Ash Crimson didn't calm him down in the slightest - rather than burning opponents down to a violet crisp he claws the living shit out of them.
  • Resident Evil 4's monster cast is rife with these. A blind zombie with ridiculously long steel claws that hunts you down by hearing alone and Plagas-infested, chainsaw-wielding villagers are just a few.
  • Mega Man Zero brings us Omega, an Ax-Crazy Robotic Psychopath who takes this trope to blood thirsty new levels. Ironically, the best way to defeat his final form is to turn his berserker AI against him.
    • Zero himself could count as a heroic berserker, as well, as his close-range combat style often promotes charging headlong into enemies and Z-Saber-ing your way out. In case you couldn't tell, the similarity between Zero and Omega is NOT a coincidence.
  • In Rome: Total War, the Germans can have berserkers (that for some reason are dedicated to Thor instead of Odin). These soldiers can reave a bloody mess through enemy units many times their size. In Barbarian Invasions, the berserkers belong to the celts, and are based off of Cuchulain.
    • Funnily enough, it's the warrior monks in Total War Shogun 2 who are the berzerkers. They have poor armour, but extremely high melee attack and morale, making it very unlikely that they'll rout due to casualties or the loss of their general. No-dachi samurai are this to an extent as well, being the infantry unit most suited to all-out offence at the cost of their own safety.
  • In the Fallout series, "Berserker" is a perk you acquire after having killed a lot of good karma people.
  • An unlockable melee weapon for The Soldier in Team Fortress 2 called "The Equalizer" is designed to be used in this fashion. It's a pickax that, originally, buffed the player's speed and damage output inversely proportional to their amount of remaining HP but also prevented them from being healed while they have it out. Since the Pyromania Update (June 27, 2012), the speed boost has been removed and given to a new, similar weapon: The Escape Plan. It can be very useful in offensive pushes where combat is confined to close quarters. However, a common tactic is for the player to rocket jump a couple times to the enemy position which both takes out a considerable chunk of health and can take them by surprise if done right. Once landed, they can immediately start slaughtering with the now powered up pickax. Valve actually had to nerf the weapon due to entire teams being ripped apart by Equalized Soldiers just as the round had barely started.
    • So-called Demoknights are often played in this fashion, with the charging mechanic and special melee weapons coming into play. Also there's the fact that they're essentially bringing a sword and shield into a gun fight!
  • A few moves in Pokémon can inflict this. "Taunt" forces your opponent to only use damage-dealing moves, "Swagger" greatly raises your opponent's Attack stat, but also confuses them, and some attacks like Thrash and Petal Dance will have the user attack for two or three turns, then become confused after it ends.
    • Rollout would be a prime example. Once commanded, the Pokémon continues attacking for five turns, unless they miss or are KOed. The first hit is pretty weak, but each one after that doubles in power, making the fifth hit almost as powerful as Explosion (BEFORE the nerf to the latter move in Pokémon Black and White). Use Defense Curl first, which doubles Rollout's power yet again, and Rollout's fifth hit is the most powerful attack in the game.
  • In Sonic Colors, the Wii-exclusive Purple Wisp turns Sonic into one, able to chomp through anything in his path.
  • Shadow Era seems to portray its Warrior-Class heroes as these. This is furthered by the equitable weapons they can use: both gain damage as deaths occur; one for your allies and one for your foes.
  • Morrowind's Bloodmoon expansion has a group of Nords (who themselves are almost definitely modeled off of nordic cultures) on a frozen island who run about naked (actually in a loincloth, due to the game's lack of real nudity) despite the freezing temperature and who attack anything and everything on sight, regardless of their own wellbeing.
    • Also from the Elder Scrolls series, Orcs have the ability to enter a Berserker Rage as a racial ability, meaning that EVERY SINGLE ORC has the potential at least to become a frenzied, bloodthirsty warrior.
  • Brick, one of the four playable characters from Borderlands, is classified as a Berserker, and can enter a "Berserker Rage" for his special skill, regenerating his health and allowing him to attack with his fists, beating the snot out of any mook, be it a bandit or a Skag.
    • Borderlands 2 has Salvador, the rough equivalent of Brick among the new playable characters. Salvador is a Gunzerker — when he gets mad he starts using Guns Akimbo, doing boosted gun damage and regenerating health all the while. Some of his lines hint that he loves pain and might even have a slight death wish.
    • The sequel also adds an enemy that fits the bill: Goliaths, the Bandits' Giant Mooks. Knocking a Goliath's helmet off will reveal his hideously mutated head, angering him so much he drops his guns and starts attacking anything nearby, friend or foe. Killing enemies in this state causes him to get bigger and stronger and regenerate all of his health.
    • There's also DLC character Krieg the Psycho, whose special skill has him go on a rampage with his buzz-axe, regenerating health for every kill he earns in this state. Two of his skill trees focus on fighting as crazed as possible, with the Mania tree focusing on melee combat and dealing as much damage as you take while the Bloodlust tree focusing on constantly doing damage to the enemy.
  • In Fire Emblem, Berserker is an actual character class. Their identifying traits are incredibly high strength stats, piss poor defense stats, can only use axes (which are the strongest weapons compared to swords and lances), and have an added critical hit bonus. This makes them heavy hitters, but also rather fragile at the same time.
    • In ''Path of Radiance, there is Largo, self titled "World Class Berserker". He claims that he allegedly pinned two tigers at once.
      • Although he's not in the Berserker class, we have Boyd, who somehow broke his axe on his first mission sometime before the events of the game and is implied that it happened because of this trope. In a similar manner we have Kieran, an overconfident and reckless mounted knight who is so intense in his methods that he even gets injured while practicing alone, and has at least on one occasion not notice a massive injury caused by his own axe on his head.
    • In addition, most games have the Berserk staff. If a character is hit by this, they cannot be controlled, and will automatically attack the nearest unit, be it on their side or not. This is rather irritating. Unless it hits a unit who cannot attack...
  • Kratos of God of War runs on a rage that has been the ruin of men, monsters, and gods alike. When he gets going, only a fool stands in his way.
  • Asura from Asura's Wrath puts every other example on this list to SHAME. When he gets angry no one, NO ONE, can stop him. Not even HIS creator. And those who try are, to put it simply, SCREWED.
    • And then his Berserker form and Wrath form comes along and cranks the concept Up to Eleven.
      • How bad is it? Well his Berserker form keeps going until he ends up destroying his own arms and his Wrath form causes more damage to himself than to the target in his relentless assaults.
  • Oghren from Dragon Age: Origins is a Blood Knight dwarven berserker with a Texas drawl and a misguided idea that the ladies love him; you can also make other warrior characters berserkers if you get Oghren to teach them or you find the Berserker tome.
    • The codex reveals that the first Berserkers were the Dwarves of Orzammar, who learned to harness their battle-wrath and turn it against the encroaching Darkspawn horde. This technique would later be learned by Luthias Dwarfson, an Alamarri warrior, who adapted it to fight alongside Mabari hounds. Those he passed this knowledge onto would become the first Ash Warriors, the most feared mercenaries in Thedas.
  • The Warrior Vocation from Dragon's Dogma is played like a berserker, with buffs that give them high damage resistance and powerful special attacks that's all about wrecking huge damage, all while not able to block (also there's a official Berserk camo in the shape of Guts armour and sword to help sell the idea)
  • Barbatos Goetia from Tales of Destiny 2 has become this in all of his appearances following the first, abandoning his magic and most of his Dangerously Genre Savvy counterattacks in favor of simply chasing your characters around and trying to brutalize them with a wide variety of physical attacks and a few downright deadly ranged ones, yelling his head off all the while.
  • In Age of Mythology, berserkers known as Ulfsarks are available to Norse players, along with a description about the origin of the term 'berserker'.
  • Painwheel from Skullgirls is this. Her ability, Hatred Guard, makes her angrier if attacked during many of her moves, increasing defence and offensive power as well as not interrupting her attack. Her "Hatred Install" Super enhances this, and also she doesn't die unless the opponent lands multiple hits.
  • The Brute and Tanker Archetypes, in City of Heroes basically were designed for this: Brute had the "fury" mechanic, in that doing damage pumped up their damage multiplier which quickly started to drop out of combat, leading them to tend to charge recklessly between groups of enemies; both Brutes and Tankers also have a "Defensive" power set along with the standard offensive one, these all have some variation of "As more enemies target you, your stats rise/their stats lower", so the best strategy was "jump into the middle of that group there while hitting taunt, and start smashing before other people pull aggro". Teamplay would usually just be "Ask to be buffed up by the team's Support Party Member, then jump into the middle of that group there while htting taunt, and start smashing before other people pull aggro". Scrappers and Stalkers, while also having most of these abilities, just can't survive well enough even with them to jump into entire groups, and have to settle for jumping an individual, mauling them, and getting to the next one.
  • The appropriately named Berserkers from XCOM: Enemy Unknown. They are Mutons who carry no weapons besides claws that can tear through a man with ease, and unlike other units cannot use cover. However, they have some of the most health among the aliens, and sometimes get a free move towards their attacker if they are shot. They are also notable for their Bull Rush ability, meant to punish a soldier hiding behind cover by charging in a straight line and busting down his cover, giving the Berserker a clear hit. They can do this even if the soldier is hiding behind a wall.
  • Berserkers in Dungeon Crawl worship the rage-god Trog, who gives them the ability to, well, go berserk. Berserking boosts your HP, speed, and attack power considerably for a short time, during which you are pretty much restricted to beating on things. Once the rage wears off, you are slowed, exhausted (meaning you can't just go right back to raging), and may even pass out for a few turns, which is especially inconvenient if you didn't quite manage to kill everything you were fighting before your berserk ran out.
  • An update to Kingdom of Loathing in September 2013 gave Seal Clubbers a "Fury" mechanic as part of a skill revamp. Fury is used to improve and/or power other Seal Clubber skills.
  • Deconstructed in Of Orcs And Men. Arkail's tendency to fly into a rage tends to be nothing but a hindrance, both in battle (where, although he deals more damage, almost all of his special attacks are restricted and he leaves himself wide open to attack) and out of it. Managing his rage to prevent him from losing control too early in battle is a major aspect of gameplay.
  • Mass Effect: you run into the occasional krogan berserker, which isn't necessarily fun given their damage output. Inverted with pre-loyalty mission Grunt; he's a dangerous, vile-tempered, barely-controlled siege weapon outside combat, but while fighting, he's relatively stable and can be safely pointed at the enemy without needing to worry about stopping him from turning around. He's still crazy, but that stays the case more or less forever.

    Visual Novels 
  • Servants summoned to the Berserker class in Fate/stay night. These heroes, drawn from mythological heroes known for their potential for madness, have access to the 'Mad Enhancement' ability that boosts all stats in return for sealing most of their skills, making them impossible to control and having exorbitant mana drain on their masters; Berserkers are usually just as dangerous to their own controllers as to their enemies. The Berserker summoned in the Fifth Grail War is Heracles/Hercules, and Lancer is at one point explained as having the potential to be summoned under this class (understandable, as Lancer is Cú Chulainn). In Fate/Zero the Berserker is the Black Knight, later revealed to be Lancelot. Later in Fate EXTRA, there are two Berserkers: One is Lu Bu, the other is Arcueid Brunestud.

    Web Comics 
  • Otsana from Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki is a Valkyrie from The Days of Berserkers and "High Adventures" and she even has a wolf motif which would confirm her berserker status
  • Ed from MegaTokyo not only seems to relish bloodshed and destruction and to engage in said activities with reckless abandon, he has himself been seriously maimed and/or killed numerous times only to be rebuilt/resurrected by his superiors that he might put himself (willingly) in harm's way again.
  • Dominic Deegan had a one-shot character named Brok that was hired by the Infernomancer during his first appearance, who goes into an Unstoppable Rage after Bumper tries (and fails) to knock him out by smashing a staff on the back of his head. He was at first meant to have a much longer run, but writer/artist Mookie stated that he just didn't feel right throwing in a Berserker-type character in a magic-based world, so a raging Brok chases Stunt and Bumper into the sunset and is never seen again.
  • Drowtales: The bulk of the Vloz'res army consists of heavily tainted warriors called berserkers. Curiously, the only named berserker is a subversion.
  • Subverted in Guilded Age: Byron the Berserker is arguably the most level-headed, well-adjusted member of the party because he apparently lives in fear of his tendency to lose his shit and become a true, foaming at the mouth, screaming, psychotic, berserkergang killing machine. (He does enjoy a good bloodbath, though.)
  • Near the end of book three of Breakfast of the Gods, Super Bear makes an appearance. And everything the character has done through the first two books and first 3/4 of the final one makes perfect sense.
  • Sweet, timid, Shrinking Violet Calvin in Lackadaisy can turn into a Berserker when you put a gun in his hands.
  • In Thistil Mistil Kistil, Coal's father, apparently. And Coal himself. Red Eyes, Take Warning...
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Broly. U16 Bra may count too.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamers Alliance, Razoul and the warriors of Vanna's Black Guard in general. They tend to devour Drakeroot before battle in order to become more ferocious and powerful, but the root also has the side effect of turning them into nearly mindless brutes as a result.
  • David of the GI Proz sure loves his screaming.
    • Nahman also shows some of this in his videos, albeit more from being into the game.
  • Regan Bard in Void Dogs uses this, referred to in text as the "warp spasm" of Irish myth.
  • The Whateley Universe features an official "rager" classification for mutants that's Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Students afflicted that way frequently come to Whateley Academy with a body count already on their record. Razorback (a student turned into a sort of velociraptor by his mutation, complete with loss of his human vocal apparatus) is both a poster child and one of the good guys.
  • Admiral Flota Vladimir Ilyavich Tokarev, HERO OF THE TRIBES, from v4 of Open Blue. The male population of the aforementioned "tribes" consists entirely of Hot-Blooded pseudo-Russo-Mongol warriors, and thus to be regarded as "HERO OF THE TRIBES" means you've gotta be a Berserker in your own right. It's even lampshaded as one of his specialties. Somewhat subverted in that he only does this when engaged in melees, and if there is no other viable ship tactic. When it's more effective to just blow you up from a distance, he will opt for that instead. Tokarev didn't become an admiral for stupidity, after all.
  • Red vs. Blue: The Meta is like this but seemingly in the "berserker rage" state permanently. In Reconstruction, he goes on a massive killing rampage whenever he gets a new AI fragment, and in Revelation this is taken to its final extreme.
  • The third RP of Darwin's Soldiers has Gustave, a man who has a penchant for violence and has little regard for his personal safety. Being an anthropomorphic Nile Crocodile with thick muscle, thick scaly skin and scutes that essentially serve as body armor, "personal safety" might mean different things to him.
  • Darth Apparatus in The Gungan Council. He may seem reserved when not in battle. Yet when the lightsabers light up, he rips apart enemies in a fit of pure rage. He even used Oghren's quotes on berserkers while describing how he fights.
  • In RWBY, Yang Xiao Long has some elements of this. Though she keeps a cool head most of the time, when a battle begins to go against her, there's a distinct change in her demeanor. She gets far more aggressive, accompanied by a boost in strength (which Ruby says is proportional to how much damage she's taken in the fight). This is usually accompanied by her normally purple eyes turning red, her hair glowing golden, and a Slasher Smile appearing on her face.

    Western Animation 
  • Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender is prone to such moments (running Zhao's Fire Navy fleet, seeking out fights with his more powerful sister) because he truly cannot fathom walking away from a fight.
  • Dinobot of Transformers: Beast Wars, is the very definition of this one. He wasn't afraid to die... Seeing a battle through to the end was a pretty significant part of his code of honor. True to form, he went out in a blaze of glory.
    • When Optimus gets infected with a cyberbee designed to make him a coward, but got the opposite effect, he tore through the Predacon base with apparent ease.
  • The Decepticon Sixshot is one of these. He is portrayed as possibly being the greatest pure warrior among the Transformers (though others may be more gifted at overall strategy, or just more powerful), aided by his (even more) rapid transformation speed and five alternate modes. Though a Decepticon, he speaks well of those he's beaten in combat, as he hopes that should anyone ever defeat him he will be treated as respectfully.
  • Buttercup of The Powerpuff Girls.
  • The minor character Shoza in Shogun's Samurai. When Tadanaga chooses to surrender to avoid the massacre of his troops, his retainer rebukes his decision. The samurai boldly announces his independence before his former master and the enemy and proceeds to set off on a lone charge, determined to defeat every last soldier and retrieve the rival prince's head. Even the enemy commander sincerely declares that Tadanaga has a retainer on his hands before ordering his troops to gun him down.
  • Superboy from Young Justice. It's justified by the fact that, due to telepathic g-gnomes always either inhibiting or inducing anger, he's never really been angry before and it takes him a while to learn how to deal with it. By the second season, he's grown experienced at channeling it.

    Real Life 
  • The Vikings are both the Trope Namers and the best examples; among their soldiers there were the fabled Berserkers, warriors who, in a drug-induced fit of rage, would plunge themselves into battle wearing little to no armor and slash their way through countless amounts of enemies, and earned themselves the mythic reputation they have today.
  • The Viking at Stamford Bridge volunteered to stay behind alone and hold back the Saxons while they waited for their reinforcements to arrive. For an hour, he stood alone on the bridge, killing over 40 men and wounding dozens more. He was only stopped when one soldier got the smart idea of floating in a barrel underneath the bridge, and jammed a spear up through the bridge right between the Viking's legs.
  • Audie Murphy had two berserker moments during the course of World War II.
  • Probably half of the real people profiled on Badass of the Week got on the site by going full berserker. Late US Senator Daniel Inouye's story has a good example. He charges a series of German machine gun nests, gets his arm blown off while trying to throw a hand grenade, then picks up the grenade he just dropped with his good arm and throws it, and then charges the next machine gun nest in a fugue state, firing one handed until getting wounded in the leg, at which point he props himself against a tree and keeps shooting. When his buddies told him what he did, he replied, "No, that can't be... you'd have to be insane to do all that."
  • Many people with autism can slip into a state called "meltdown" when overstressed. In this state they violently lash out at their environment, not conscious of any harm to themselves or others until they exhaust themselves. It's often mistaken for a mundane temper tantrum, but a normal toddler throwing a fit is in full control of themselves and making a power play, autistics in meltdown are out of control and can't be reasoned with.

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