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The Madness Place
aka: Madness Place
Agatha in her Madness Place

"There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line."
Oscar Levant

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.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  

    Film 

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack Skellington spends a lot of time attempting to figure out Christmas after returning to Halloweentown from Christmastown.

    Literature 

  • 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-long frenzied periods of nearly constant experimentation and research after he finds a new object of study. These are, of course, followed by periods of deep depression. Including 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.

     Live-Action Television 
  • 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.

     Tabletop Games  
  • In Genius The Transgression Geniuses are known to do this, but there's no actual rules for it.
  • Exalted:
    • 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.

     Video Games  

  • 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. The 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 dwarves down with them).

    Webcomics 

  • El Goonish Shive:
  • Girl Genius is the Trope Namer. When Sparks retreat advance to their Madness Place, amazing things can happen.note  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).
  • 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)

     Web Original  

  • 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 amongst those portions of the student body that the cafeteria even offers 'Deviser Specials', comprised of finger food and other offerings edible on the fly.

     Western Animation  

  • 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.
    • "Its About Time" sees her go even deeper into this place when she tries to avoid a horribly 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.

     Real Life  

  • Nikola Tesla had this in Real Life. Then again, it makes sense for him, as he invented codified the trope of Mad Scientist.
  • 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 yet exist) 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 and slip into this, where the idea must either be acted upon immediately or nearly forgotten and needing potentially hours of concentration to recover a majority of it.
  • This is common with people who abuse methamphetamine.

Madness MontageMadness TropesManiac Tongue

alternative title(s): Madness Place
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