There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.Humans have human frailties, and even a character working on something vitally important will eventually have to rest. Tiredness, hunger, or just enemies bursting into the workplace can break anyone's concentration. There are also moral reasons to stop—the experiment is a crime against nature, the "volunteer"'s crying finally gets to you, etc. Most people understand the occasional need to take a break. Mad Scientists think that kind of attitude is for wimps. When these guys get involved—or perhaps we should say obsessed—with a project, they ignore all distractions. The prisoner's crying? I don't hear anything. Crime against nature? I haven't been outside in ten years, so I don't really care. Food, sleep? Obstacles. And enemies jumping into the lab are like bonus "volunteers". You don't even have to hunt them down with a taser first! Those who have found the Madness Place are very productive...for a time. Sometimes even a long time. But eventually, they come back, and have to deal with mere mortals again. For obvious reasons, this trope is usually associated with the Mad Scientist, but it can appear alongside other personalities. As touched upon above, those in the madness place tend to forget to eat, bathe, and sometimes talk. They may think they've said something, or think it's so blindingly obvious they shouldn't have to mention it. In a sense, It's All About Me. Compare Happy Place. Not to be confused with the Crazy Place. May be caused by Science-Related Memetic Disorder, though going to The Madness Place isn't necessarily due to a medical disorder.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The Woobie Chrona in Soul Eater spends time in this, a Happy Place and a Black Bug Room. S/he spends much less of the anime in it due to a happy Gecko Ending (less so in the manga). Dr. Stein is constantly at risk of slipping into his. Other "victims" include Justin Law and Death The Kid.
- Arguably, what Fran of Franken Fran goes into when she begins an operation.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, Yui is still alive; one of her jobs at NERV is to gently nudge Gendo out of the Madness Place from time to time.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack Skellington spends a lot of time attempting to figure out Christmas after returning to Halloweentown from Christmastown.
- Superman: Last Son of Krypton. When Superboy gives a teenage Lex Luthor his own laboratory, Lex goes into this state.
Some of Lex's classmates and a few of the teachers he had not yet intimidated left food outside the laboratory door. Clark Kent, the only student that the Smallville High faculty trusted not to copy answers that were often more accurate than teachers' answer keys, got the job of leaving Lex's tests and homework in the laboratory mail slot. Some days, the food was gone in the morning, but it generally remained. Twice during the two weeks, the accumulated assignment pages were tugged in through the mail slot. The next morning, both times, they were in a neat pile, correct and completed, on the ground outside under a basket of rotted fruit. No one ever saw the door open, not ever. Even Superboy had no idea what was going on inside. He had lined the walls and Venetian blinds with thin lead sheeting. For three weeks, Lex was very like a mystical medieval hermit living in a cave.
- In The Phantom of the Opera (the book, not the musical), the title character tells Christine that he sometimes goes weeks on end working on his opera, Don Juan Triumphant, without eating or sleeping much. Unfortunately for him, a few weeks in the madness place have to inevitably be made up for by another few weeks of sleeping most of the time due to being utterly exhausted.
- The title character of Monstrumologist, a scientist who studies monsters, often goes into week(s)-long frenzied periods of near-constant experimentation and research after he finds a new object of study. These are, of course, followed by periods of deep depression, which include ignoring his twelve-year-old assistant.
- In Frankenstein, Frankenstein creates his monster during in one long fit of inspiration. At completion, he snaps out of it and immediately regrets his actions.
- A Deepness in the Sky: The Focus biovirus traps people in this as a permanent condition, so they can be used as brilliant but unquestioning drones for the Emergent dictatorship.
- In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Penny tends to enter this when using her powers. So far it hasn't resulted in any crimes against nature, but she still rarely has any conscious idea of what she's constructing beforehand.
- In the sequel the trope becomes more literal, as some of her creations literally come from technology in a different physical place and time. Not a mysterious one, a specific one. In her own personal future. If anything, this is even more terrifying than the normal way it happens.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, we get a somewhat-downplayed version with Daenerys Targaryen, as she isn't loud about it and "For Politics, Survival, and Getting My Family's Stuff Back!" doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Yet, some of the greatest leaps of insight she makes (be they magical, mundane or just too outside the box for others to predict) are preceded by a rather weird reliance on visions and dream-states with the accompanying logic they give. The thing is, she makes it work for her more often than not — particularly in the short-term. (Longer-term...there can be a few issues, however.) She often displays states close to trancing, lucid dreaming, or what looks an awful lot like natural self-hypnosis using mantras or sayings to spur herself along. As she is about the only major Targaryen example we get to go on in the series itself, you've got to ask questions about how much the House as a whole has done similar things down the centuries... be the individuals either the great, middling, or outright nutty ones. Even her less-than-impressive brother, Viserys, could fixate on trying to avenge his House for years. To his detriment, in his case.
- Igors in Discworld don't have a Madness Place themselves, but their masters often do. If an Igor is working for a mechanical genius who isn't in the Madness Place (such as Hubert Turvy in Making Money, who is constantly fretting about how the Glooper might cause people trouble) they tend to get a bit disconcerted, because there's something weird about people like that.
- Homeland: Carrie is prone to manic episodes in which she is totally unfit for society, but can process incredible quantities of intelligence to make great insights.
- The Doctor Who episode "Listen" is basically about the Doctor jumping straight to this place, to the point of doing some ridiculously dangerous and stupid things in pursuit of a mystery that may or may not exist outside his imagination.
- In Genius: The Transgression, Geniuses are known to do this, but there's no actual rules for it.
- The Lunar have this as a power in the shape of Inevitable Genius Insight.
- While less straightforward than Lunars, most Exalted are capable of going to the Madness Place by using charms to forgo or mitigate the need for food and sleep, and many possess the kind of personality to do so. In particular, any scientifically-minded Exalt is at risk of going there when the Great Curse sets in.
- Dwarf Fortress: In this game, your dorfs will sometimes be taken by a "strange mood", which will cause them to find a workshop, kick out whoever's using it, and lock themselves up in it. They will then start either yelling, mumbling, or drawing the materials they want, unless they're psychotically depressed, in which case they'll either steal a corpse or kill a dwarf and use his remains to make their project. They will never leave for food, booze, or rest. If you get them all the materials they want, they'll create a valuable artifact and instantly gain legendary experience in the field of whatever they were making (with the exception of one mood). Failure to get them the materials, however, will cause the dorf to slip into incurable insanity and invariably die (and, in the case of one flavor of insanity, try to take your other dorfs down with them).
- El Goonish Shive:
- Girl Genius is the Trope Namer. When Sparks
retreatadvance to their Madness Place, amazing things can happennote . Also given a more high-brow term in-setting: "Spark-induced fugue state". You can tell how deep into the madness place a Spark is by the way their speech bubbles are. Mild bouts have a more mad font. Deeper in, their speech bubbles have wavering edges on top of the mad font (as seen in the trope image). Really deep in involves yelling (such as when Gil minionizes Wooster through sheer force of will). Occassionally being under drugs (or coffee) can make the things they say entirely incoherent, though the results are still impressive."In my experience, a strong Heterodyne will take about two hours to truly warp the laws of nature."
- A Miracle of Science has this happen fairly often to SRMD sufferers, often after they get caught (though, fortunately, the symptoms are pretty predictable at that stage).
- In The Dr. Steel Show, Episode 2, Doctor Steel seems to be going to this place as his robotic toy creation begins to work and walk around. At least until he runs out of quarters.
- In the Whateley Universe, Devisers (Mad Scientist types) have a penchant for going into their Madness Place every now and then. It's so prevalent among those portions of the student body that the cafeteria even offers "Deviser Specials", comprised of finger food and other offerings edible on the fly.
- Depending on how strong/stable they are, Tinkers in Worm may slip into a state like this when using their powers and working on a project. How strong it is and how long it lasts often depends on how sane they are. Thinkers do something similar when using their powers, but it's much easier to bring them out of it.
- Gear from Static Shock has a tendency to go into one of these and come out with a whole bunch of high tech gadgets.
- When Twilight Sparkle of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic gets stressed over something she can't figure out, her focus on it can get just a little neurotic.
- In "Lesson Zero", she becomes certain that her mentor will punish her if she doesn't write a friendship report—and if she doesn't have anything to write about, she will make something worth reporting. This ends in her having a mental breakdown which causes her to enchant the entire town into an obsessed stampede.
- "It's About Time" sees her go even deeper into this place when she tries to avoid a horrible, unspeakable evil her future-self warned her about. She disaster-proofs the whole town, goes to Tartarus and back, then locks herself in her laboratory and doesn't eat or sleep for an entire week as she tries to avert the crisis. What did future!Twilight want to warn her about? Not to go creepily obsessive about the future.
- Hell, it's noticeable as far back as the pilot episode, with the strong implication that her Friendless Background comes from spending too much time working on advanced magical theory instead of getting out and about in the fresh air. There's a certain amount of Fridge Horror to it if one tries to imagine what her life would have been like without that trip to Ponyville.
- Nikola Tesla had this in Real Life. Then again, it makes sense for him, as he
inventedcodified the Mad Scientist trope.
- Philip K. Dick wrote most of his books in multi-day writing binges (often helped by stimulants) during which he never left the typewriter.
- Henry Cavendish was apparently never able to leave this state due to (at a bare minimum) crippling shyness. As a child, he supposedly locked himself in a room and derived all of Euclid's laws by hand. He ended up doing important work in just about every field of physics (including ones that didn't exist yet) as an adult but never published any of it.
- Though generally a mild case when it happens, people with ADD and/or ADHD can sometimes be struck with a brief flash of inspiration. The idea must either be acted upon immediately or forgotten (requiring potentially hours of concentration to recover any of it), so they slip into this. Also happens when they're working on something they're interested in. It's called "hyperfocusing".
- This is common with people who abuse methamphetamine.
- This trope essentially is the manic phase of Bipolar Disorder