"Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,
She turns to favour and to prettiness."In Real Life mental illness is rarely pretty but in fiction, there's just something about a lovely young woman, often with long, disheveled hair, running around babbling lyrically about the strange visions flashing through her deranged mind, singing creepy little rhymes, scattering flowers and occasionally bashing people's heads in. Maybe this particular cutie was just broken particularly hard, maybe it was an illness or maybe she was born that way, but the result is the same, a tragically beautiful, ethereal waif who's mad as a box of frogs. Her beauty is an important point here, underlining her fragility and the sadness of her fate. She usually talks in riddles and rhymes, can be sad or joyfully happy (or switch between these states). Her mind may be so far gone that she's likely to murder people, but she'll always have clear skin while doing it. Sometimes, too, she has important knowledge the sane may lack, in which case she'll often have terrible trouble getting anyone to listen (a classical example of Mad Oracle). The original Cassandra from The Iliad was often depicted as a bit of an Ophelia. It's difficult to pin down the appeal of this trope. Perhaps a strange young maiden communing with nature harkens back to earlier figures like nymphs or pagan witches. Perhaps there is an underlying Fetish Fuel at the thought that a crazy girl might be crazy amazing in the sack. Or perhaps there's something endearing to men about cradling a girl in your arms and protecting her from the demons in her own head. There's often a surprisingly artistic bent to The Ophelia's madness; she may sing, dance wildly, or try to paint her delusions. She may be a Woman in White, and look extra ghostly and wraithlike. The Ophelia is often tied to nature (including walking around barefoot, wearing flowers, etc.), particularly water, probably as a nod to the original Ophelia (in William Shakespeare's Hamlet) who winds flowers in her hair before drowning herself. That last bit can overlap with Instant Oracle, Just Add Water if she's also a Waif Prophet and/or a Mad Oracle. The Victorians fell crazy (so to speak) in love with this trope and Ophelias in the form of wronged maidens and deranged brides go pirouetting and flower-strewing through art, poetry and literature of the period while the "mad scene" for the soprano heroine became a staple of opera. Insanity was linked to female sexuality and desire for independence. (Not coincidentally, the vibrator was invented in this same period as a treatment for hysteria in women.) In fact, psychiatrists at that time used to encourage female patients in madhouses — especially if they were youthful and pretty — to dress the part and carry sheaves of flowers. If a male character is shown the same way, odds are good he's very feminine and delicate-looking anyway. Compare/contrast with Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant, Cloudcuckoolander, Fainting Seer, Axe Crazy, Mysterious Waif, Waif Prophet, Hysterical Woman. For the (usually) "harmlessly kooky" variant see Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Perky Goth. See Cute But Psycho when mental issues are not part of the appeal.
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Anime and Manga
- Ophelia (duh) from Claymore, who became obsessed with getting revenge on her brother's murderer (Priscilla). Her polite exterior disappears real fast when people interrupt her.. fun. Her death scene after turning into a snake-like awakened being naturally occurred in a lake with her usually-braided hair flowing freely around her.
- Again, Ophelia (duh), from Romeo X Juliet; a fantastically batshit crazy Half-Human Hybrid priestess to a dying tree-god.
- Quon Kisaragi from RahXephon is this and/or an extreme Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
- The Ergo Proxy episode named "Ophelia" (duh) contains liberal amounts of symbolism referencing the titular Shakespearian character. This includes the lead female character's doppelganger floating in a lake and pulling the famous pose.
- Sunako in The Wallflower when she's out of her chibi form. She's creepy but still downright gorgeous. Because she is often acting truly dhsieveld and insane, she might be closer to a Deconstruction
- Kotori Monou became one in X1999, after seeing her mother Saya die as a little girl. She apparently recovered her mind, but some years later she turned into one full-time when seeing Kamui's aunt Tokiko die in the same way, and spends some time carting around the poor woman's severed head. And then soon after, she dies! And at the hands of her Face Heel Turned older brother! The poor girl can't catch a break...
- Subverted in the Tv series. Kotori does shows some signs of this trope when Tokiko dies, but unlike in the manga she falls in a coma. Her subconscious is still active and sorta stable, however, and she begins to use her Dream Weaver powers instead of going crazy.
- A darker version is Seishirou's mother Setsuka, the previous Sakurazukamori. In the CD dramas she often spoke about things that looked like nonsense, then counteracted with something quite unsettling and did so with a smile.
SETSUKA (has an ikebana arrangement): Camellias. Red camellias.SEISHIROU: Your favorite flower.SETSUKA: I love it. I love camellias best when they fall (gets a dreamy look) It falls on the ground.... plop, like a human head. I love it.
- Dilandau from The Vision of Escaflowne eventually dissolves into a male version of this as his mental stability shatters from a variety of influences. Given that he started the series as an Axe Crazy Psycho for Hire, that's saying quite a lot. And then you find out that he actually started out as a girl.
- Charlotte from Rose of Versailles, after she cracks from the pressure on her and right before she commits suicide.
- Casca from Berserk becomes a nearly mute version of this after she goes mad from the horrible trauma she suffered during the Eclipse.
- Full Metal Panic!. Kaname acts like this during her Whispered moments, including hallucinations and self-inflicted Clothing Damage.
- Nina Fortner from Monster, when we first meet her. Overlaps with Creepy Child.
- Kagami Mikage's mother in Ayashi no Ceres. Kagami himself is a cruel Magnificent Bastard, but his interaction with his mom is pretty much the only Pet the Dog side we see of him.
- Diva from Blood+, who also happens to be the Big Bad. A good example is a scene when we see her giggling, dancing and prancing around in a cute and very princessy gown, with her hair down and lacking footwear... and then she captures her twin sister and rival Saya and almost kills her.
- Princess Emeraude in the Magic Knight Rayearth OVA's. How gone is she? So much that she barely realises that Zagato has died, and throws herself at the feet of the throne where his corpse sits
- Also, Alcyone in the second part of the TV series zig-zags between Empty Shell and this trope. When she is captured by Cephiro after having become the Brainwashed and Crazy minion of Debonair, the poor woman is seen despondent and quiet, only reacting at the sight of Lantis — and that's because she's so far gone that she thinks Lantis is Zagato.
- Asuka's mother Kyouko in Neon Genesis Evangelion, after piloting EVA 02 and having a part of her soul sucked into it. Asuka herself touches on this trope after she suffers the Trope Namer for Mind Rape.
- Tomoe Yukishiro from Rurouni Kenshin has a fit of this after her fiance Akira Kiyosato is murdered. The first time she meets Kenshin, she's drunk and her only reaction to getting splattered by the blood of someone Kenshin just eviscerated is to say that he made it rain blood. She then promptly faints.
- Rin Sohma, Ren Sohma, Akito Sohma, and Machi Kuragi from Fruits Basket have moments like this.
- Momo Hinamori from Bleach, when at her lowest point. She sorta begins to get better with time.
- Queen Skyla from Sky Dancers.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny's Stella Loussier blissfully dances her way through her first scene of the series... And, minutes later, shanks her way through the second. It only goes downhill from there.
- Cordelia Glauca from Tantei Opera Milky Holmes is a humorous take of this trope, complete with flowers. Which unexplainably appears on her hair.
- An Ax-Crazy and openly villainous version is Crimson Miroku from the Sakura Wars TV series. After Sumire kills her and Satan Aoi brings her Back from the Dead, she appears in front of the main cast with her clothes loose, her long hair down, and only being able to speak a Madness Mantra: " Sumire, Sumire... I want your life... I'll take your life..."
- Rei Asaka from Oniisama e... has her moments as this, and specially when she's drugged.
- In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Rose Thomas is either drugged or hypnotized by the Big Bad Dante. In addition to the other terrible events that traumatized her, this makes the poor woman nearly catatonic, vacant, and either completely still or dancing. But she gets better.
- Misaki from Loveless is arguably a very dark version.
- Several of these appear in Detective Conan:
- Ran Mouri spends a good part of the fourth movie, Captured in her eyes, as one due to a bad case of Trauma-Induced Amnesia. She recovers towards the end, however.
- Also, a young woman mentioned in the backstory of the Detectives Koshien arc. More exactly: a mentally and emotionally unstable socialite who committed suicide via hanging herself in a room of her Big Fancy House (nicknamed "the Lavender mansion") in an island near Fukuoka. The "young mistress"'s death was wrongfully catalogued as a murder, however, and the main suspect was her maid Kana Mizoguchi. Poor Kana was the one who fulfilled Ophelia's association with water, however, having thrown herself into the sea after she couldn't prove her innocence.
- In the Kimono Goddess case, the audience actually gets introduced to the episode via a scene in which a beautiful, sad-looking Ophelia throws herself off a building in front of everyone in her women's college. Her name was Sakurako Suzuka, and she ended up that way after being framed for drug trade by two cruel Alpha Bitches, Ema Anzai and Asuka Shibazaki, who already hated her for being a Wide-Eyed Idealist. Five years later, Ema and Asuka would become the case's Asshole Victims at the hands of Eri, Sakurako's estranged older sister.
- Maya Tachibana from the Beautiful Amnesiac Woman filler case, who has lost her memories due to injuries and acts like a textbook case. Then it's subverted: she's a Dark Action Girl who has been hired to kill Kogoro by a dude that got tossed into jail and then escaped, and while her memory loss is genuine at first, she recovers her memories around halfway the episode and then pretends to still be amnesiac so she can corner Kogoro and murder him. Conan barely manages to save Kogoro and then capture her.
- The unsettling fate of Mie Iwamoto from Shigurui after a particularly traumatizing incident. Eventually she recovers, but is still deeply disturbed.
- Kamille Bidan becomes a very Rare Male Example in Gundam ZZ. Understandable: he is barely recovering from having been Mind Raped into insanity by Scirocco. And once he reappears in the series, the Colony Drop on Dublin and Hayato's death in battle take place...
- Death Note: Misa Amane. Beautiful? check. Insane? check. Puts on pretty dresses and murders people? Definitely.
- Sakura Gari features the young and pretty maid from the Saiki household who becomes this after surviving Sakurako's torture/murder of Souma's lovers, but losing the baby of Souma's that she was pregnant with. The reader meets the girl shortly after Souma attempts to kill himself; she looks pretty but frail and pale in her dark kimono, attempts to speak to the Saikis and then to Masataka to learn what's going on — but then she catches a glimpse of Sakurako herself and has a massive meltdown, screaming for a " white-haired demon" that is around the gardens, so the policemen have to calm her down. Considering that she was tied up in Unwilling Suspension manner, gagged, savagely beaten and then photographed while half-naked and still Bound and Gagged, she can't be blamed.
- From the manga-only Onisarashi-Hen (Demon Exposing Arc) in Higurashi: When They Cry, Natsumi Kimiyoshi becomes this in the story's epilogue. After failed attempts at living with relatives, later living with Akira Toudou, who married her so she would be able to drop her maiden name and move past her murdering her grandmother and parents, she's consigned to a psychiatric hospital. Though she seems to be doing better, she's actually aware of her crimes, even though Akira is shouldering her guilt for her. By contrast, she was more of a tragic Ophelia with her relatives than after she was moved to the hospital, where she was more of a Madwoman in the Attic.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: PSP-game only. Kyouko Sakura's witch form is known as Ophelia, and it integrates the mythology of Ophelia into its motifs.
- Several of Junji Ito's characters, particularly the one from the short story Army of One who killed people and sewed their corpses together. And she was the protagonist's girlfriend too!
- Manji's older sister in Blade of the Immortal. When Manji kills her husband without knowing who he is, she crosses the Despair Event Horizon and reverts to a child-like stage. She remains like that until she's murdered in front of her younger brother.
- At his most vulnerable, Clair Leonelli from Heat Guy J can seem like a male version of this trope.
- Private Actress by Michiyo Akaishi has the legal wife of Shiho's Disappeared Dad, Masakazu Ogata, shown as a sickly and sad lady who is often alone at her Big Fancy House. Her son Kyousuke tells Shiho that she is "a little mentally unstable", implied to be a consequence of Ogata's constant womanizing on top of already being an Ill Girl. This is confirmed when, after seeing Shiho, Mrs. Ogata tries to kill herself; for worse, when Shiho and Kyosuke try to aid her, she mistakes her for Shiho's mother Sayuri (the better known of Ogata's flings) again and begins to insult and threaten her. (Though she later comes to her senses, realises the mistake and asks Shiho who she actually is.)
- Later, in the Boarding School two-parter, Ophelia the character becomes vital to the confrontation between Shiho and the murderous Alpha Bitch Kana Juumonji, who scream Hamlet lines to each other with Kana playing Ophelia so perfectly that she's still reciting her lines as she's taken away by the police, her deceit uncovered. Kana/Satoka actually becomes this towards the end, after Shiho successfully scares her into Trauma-Induced Amnesia as specific punishment for having caused the deaths of Misaki and later Yuuichiro's, aside of the people whose deaths she provoked before.
- Perfect Blue could be considered an extremely dark case study on this trope, where former pop idol Mima struggles with her previous image as she tries to break into serious acting before things take a sharp left turn into Mind Screw. An even clearer example is Mima's manager Rumi, herself a former idol who goes completely I Just Want to Be You to the point of dressing as Mima and in the final scene is shown in a mental institution carrying a bouquet of flowers and seeing herself as Mima in a mirror.
- Yuki from School-Live! is the cute Genki Girl protagonist who just so happens to also be very delusional. Her mind has blocked out the memories that she's living in a Zombie Apocalypse and her friends play along.
- In the Pony POV Series, Diamond Tiara's mother Golden Tiara - a.k.a. "Screwball" - is like this, a former Blithe Spirit whose mind broke years ago under the pressure of cutthroat high society. However, we later learn that there's a lot more to her...
- Syaoran in "Shattered Secrets" is a male example of this trope - and lacks most characteristics of a Bishounen, to boot.
- Feferi from Hemostuck. A very beautiful seadweller who spends her days singing to herself, swimming, and having a somewhat tenuous grasp on reality.
- Delirium from The Sandman is sometimes portrayed this way.
[Some] say that Delirium has no tragedy, but here they speak without reflection. For Delirium was once Delight. And although that was long ago now, even today her eyes are badly matched: one eye is a vivid emerald green, spattered with silver flecks that move. The other eye is vein blue. Who knows what Delirium sees, through her mismatched eyes?
- Ginny, the post-traumatic fairy in Aria. Her cousin Kildare, the protagonist, refers to her as "beautiful and damaged" (or some permutation).
- Subverted in the Yoko Tsuno story "The Prey and the Shadow". Everyone thinks that Cecilia, the local Non-Royal Princess, is one of these after the death of her mother Mary... but she's actually sane, just extremely sheltered, and it's her Evil Uncle who makes everyone think otherwise so he can set her up for an "accidental" death.
- Subverted again in The Devil's Organ, where Ingrid is introduced as one but it's just temporary since she was not only depressed by her father's death, but she was drugged by someone else. After an incident where she was thrown into the Rhin but Yoko saved her, she mostly recovers.
- Alice, the first major villain in Batwoman, has many hallmarks of an Ophelia, dressing in bizarre Victorian-esque clothes, speaking almost entirely in quotes from Alice in Wonderland, carrying a poisoned razor blade in her mouth and frequently having her makeup run down her face. She also turns out to be Beth, Kate's long-lost twin sister, and there's a heavy implication that she underwent serious Mind Rape after she was captured in the shootout that killed their mother when they were 12. And the icing on the cake is that she drowns in the river and essentially commits suicide.
- Andy of The Goonies flips her shit and begins babbling nonsense about "having a beautiful body" shortly before the group encounters the corpse of Chester Copperpot... which doesn't help the situation.
- In A Dangerous Method Sabina Spielrin is portrayed like this.
- Brittany Murphy's character in Don't Say A Word and in Girl Interrupted
- Rachel Weisz plays twin sisters in Constantine, one of whom is a sort of peripheral Ophelia - confined to a mental hospital, she commits suicide by leaping from a building, plunging through a roof and into a swimming pool (a cross-shaped one to boot) where, naturally, she can float all flowing-haired and dead. The other twin begins to manifest aspects of the trope - visions and immersion in water - without actually losing her mind.
- Crazy Cora in Quigley Down Under goes between this and being more or less sane. She has very long hair which is sometimes down and tangled, though no flowers or water motif as it takes place in the Australian Outback.
- Kirsten Dunst's character Justine in Melancholia could be a variation of this trope. She has few of the above mentioned traits, but a certain aesthetic scene in the movie is a clear reference to her. Justine is also mentally ill, but this is portrayed in a much more realistic and thus even more heartbreaking way.
- Lucy Barker from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street after her attempt at suicide, brought on by being raped and having her daughter taken away.
- The Italian film The Best of Youth centers around the lives of two brothers. A pivotal moment at the beginning of the film that ultimately influences their life choices is when the brothers meet Giorgia, a mental patient who has been subjected to electrotherapy. One of the brothers, Nikola, comments that they were both kind of in love with Giorgia at the time.
- Gina, Tony Montana's sister, in her last scene in Scarface (1983). Tony has been playing Knight Templar Big Brother to her throughout the movie, having a violently territorial reaction every time her virginity is the least bit endangered, to the point of being a Yandere. This culminates with him discovering her post-sex with Manny Ribera (his best friend) and shooting him dead right in front of her, only for her to tearfully reveal that they'd gotten married the previous day. At his mansion that night, amidst the attack by Alejandro Sosa's men, she appears semi-nude and drugged out, telling him he can have her now since he clearly wants her for himself, all the while shooting at him with a revolver. One of the attackers kills her; Tony kills him in turn and then basically loses his mind over her body. Of course, he's the one who has the swimming pool death. (Incidentally, Incest Subtext is a somewhat popular reading of Laertes's overprotective attitude toward the original Ophelia.)
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is framed as the story of how Jane was driven this particular shade of crazy.
- In Come and See Glasha manages to switch from pretty but weird to merely creepy.
- The titular character of Agnes Of God fits this trope to a tee. Agnes is rather childlike and naďve, and she also constantly speaks of random things that make sense only after being pieced together. It is unclear whether she was born mentally challenged; she says she was "dropped on her head" as a baby. The local doctor, Martha, is never sure whether Agnes is really mentally challenged or it's a result of her mother's virtually imprisoning her for years.
- Ofelia of Pans Labyrinth. Maybe... Averted, in the end: according to Word Of God, everything she saw in the Underworld was real.
- Mal from Inception. She was driven mad after being unable to tell between dreaming and reality, causing her to kill herself.
- Dragon Bones has the protagonist's mother. Her abusive husband, and (maybe) life in the Haunted Castle Hurog caused her to drug herself with herbs, but she's not really there when she didn't take something, either. She's fond of her garden and flowers, and occasionally says something that makes sense in a weird way.
- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins has not one but two Ophelias, Anne Catherick, the titular woman in white, and her near-doppelganger, (and secret half-sister) Laura Fairlie. Both are sane (although seemingly at least a bit odd in Anne's case) when confined, in turn, to an insane asylum by the villain in a Batman Gambit involving substituting one for the other, but both are driven mad by their incarceration there.
- Catherine of Wuthering Heights has attacks of this towards the end.
- Jeanne from Charles Baxter's Shadow Play could have had a touch of this in her young years: she was apparently rather pretty, but lived in her own universe. When she got older, she turned into a Cloudcuckoolander.
- In The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott, a bride carried off and raped on her wedding day wanders the highlands decked with flowers and singing.
- While still a child, Jane Austen parodied the hell out of this in her spoof romance Love and Freindship (sic). When the husbands of the two heroines suddenly die in front of them, they each exhibit the standard Gothic romance reactions — one swoons, while the other has a fit of madness. This proves the healthier choice, as lying unconscious for two hours on the wet grass gives the other girl a cold that ultimately kills her, and she dies exhorting her friend "Beware of swoons, dear Laura. . . . A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is I dare say conducive to Health in its consequences—Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint."
- Fuchsia Groan in Gormenghast. Unusually, she's rather more like this earlier on, with the dark events of the plot giving her a more conventionally depressed outlook. She does ultimately drown herself, although it's unclear how deliberate it was.
- Subverted with Elfine in Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons — Elfine runs around in a green cloak "like a Pharisee of the woods" (i.e., a faerie), making cryptic remarks, until the main character, Flora, gives her a makeover and sets her up with a cute guy. Then she's normal.
- In the YA novel Black Jack by Leon Garfield, the hero finds himself falling in love with Belle, a fragile young girl who's first encountered in a wood, having a vision of "A white tower with a shining top." She's been swinging between gentle strangeness and violent hysteria since an illness in childhood. Much of the drama turns on whether her madness is the result of an illness exacerbated by neglect and isolation (in which case it's assumed to be curable) or hereditary (in which case it's not).
- Margaret Atwood has an interest in the trope and deconstructs it in The Blind Assassin. The narrator's sister, Laura, is a beautiful, intensely spiritual young woman given to loopy statements, odd activities like painting "the colour of people's souls" onto old photographs and falling/jumping into rivers. She seems incapable of fending for herself and is revealed on the first page to have driven a car off a bridge, killing herself, at the age of twenty-five. However it later appears that it's only in the arid context of pre-war upper class society that she can't function, and there are people who have a vested interest in discrediting her insights as mere insane babble.
- Charis in The Robber Bride has also exhibited symptoms of this, the more so during her university days. Arguments can be constructed on both sides of the crazy/not crazy spectrum.
- The Warlord Chronicles takes a moment out of deconstructing the King Arthur mythos and pulling it into The Dung Ages to deconstruct this trope in the person of Olwen the Silver, an insane Cloudcuckoolander first used by Merlin, (her etheral beauty, a little paint and special effects convinced people that she was a spirit and Merlin was summoning the old gods back to Britain) and later by Merlin's Knight Templar former pupil Nimue.
- In Mary Jo Putney's ''The Wild Child', the titular heroine appears to be mutely insane or at least mentally handicapped, but in the pretty, well-groomed way. However it turns out she's just really stubborn and unsocial.
- In Harry Potter Ariana Dumbledore, minus the Talkative Loon part.
- Luna Lovegood has shades of this, more-so in the movies.
- There's also Neville's parents, Frank and Alice Longbottom, who were driven mad after being tortured with the cruciatus curse for too long by Barty Crouch Jr. and the Lestranges.
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: Lady Pole looks like an Ophelia to the casual observer. In fact, she's under an enchantment that forces her to spend every night dancing to exhaustion in Faerie and causes her to speak nonsense whenever she tries to tell anyone about it.
- Adding to it, once one of her friends is taken away to Faerie to join the dances she attempts revenge on the man responsible with a pistol, though she fails.
- Odiana in Codex Alera is something like this trope... as well as most of the others listed under "compare/contrast". She's also an Unhappy Medium, a powerful empath driven completely nuts by slavery, gang-rape, and brainwashing. She's gorgeous, cheerfully open about her own insanity, and way out there.
- Sorcha, The High Queen of faerie in Wicked Lovely seemed to become one temporarily in the fourth book, due to missing her son, Seth.
- In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Blue Angel, the Doctor is basically like this. Since he's the Eighth Doctornote , the prettiness and long, unkempt hair are a given, and he's rather sickly and delicate, he wanders barefoot through his garden (in the snow, even!), and either all of Doctor Who is actually just his psychotic delusions, or he's a Waif Prophet Dreaming the Truth. And, like Ophelia, he's pregnant. Sort of.
- From The Hunger Games: Katniss near the end of the third book, after killing Coin. Annie fulfills this trope much more consistently, being unstable at the best of times. She even has the water motif (she's from the seaside District 4 and won the Hunger Games when she was young by swimming through her flooded arena while the other tributes drowned).
- In Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle, the supporting character Auri is a shy young woman who lives underneath The University, hiding from almost everyone. She makes grave but completely nonsensical statements and presumably was driven mad by the University's demand on her mental faculties.
- Eponine from Les Misérables is actually compared to the Trope Namer.
- In Dragonlance Raistlin and Caramon's mother is written as never having been quite sane and likely driven mad by her latent magic. She's described as being ethereal, beautiful and will often talk to people who aren't there or randomly start dancing. Eventually she slipped into an episode that killed her when she couldn't be woken up.
- Isabelle Angelfield in The Thirteenth Tale. Highlighted and foreshadowed by an incident where she falls into a lake at a picnic.
- Lee Smith's epistolary novel Fair and Tender Ladies features the narrator's sister Silvaney, who is depicted as ''odd' (possibly retarded or mentally ill) and is eventually institutionalized and lobotomized. Prior to that, however, she runs around singing and laughing, and is mostly let alone by her family. This trope was especially prominent in the musical version produced by the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
- In Alethea Kontis's Enchanted, "full of woe" Wednesday is dreamy and poetical and ends up leaving human lands for the fairy at the end.
- Susie becomes this in the second half of Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile; although she chops off her Rapunzel Hair after being committed to a psychiatric hospital.
- Two gender inversions of this occur in Doctrine of Labyrinths by Sarah Monette. In Melusine, wizard and former prostitute Felix Harrowgate goes mad from Mind Rape and wanders around saying things that people either don't understand or don't believe, sometimes to their peril. Vincent Demabrien, a boyhood acquaintance whom Felix meets again in The Mirador, is both a gender inversion and a subversion, as his affinity for ghosts makes him seem insane, but he really isn't. Interestingly, both characters are pretty boys described as delicate and beautiful.
- Vibeke in Scott G. F. Bailey's The Astrologer is a full-blown Expy for Ophelia, as the novel is a Shout-Out to Hamlet. Unlike the original, though, she's having a secret relationship with the King, who has impregnated her, and she commits suicide by burning herself alive atop her father's corpse.
- Felix's Missing Mom in the Chilean novel Golondrina de Invierno (Winter Sparrow). Her son describes her as gentle, sweet and a bit sad, and after her death he learns that she spent months in an institution when Felix himself was very young; the discovery causes him to fall in a brief Drowning My Sorrows state, as he believes he has inherited her mental unstability. And he's right: later in the book he mentally collapses and becomes a Rare Male Example, but he ultimately manages to get better.
- Nerissa from The Underland Chronicles, with a side order of Waif Prophet and Blessed with Suck to boot.
- This is what happens to Sisa in Noli Me Tangere after her son Crispin, was killed. All she ever says in the streets before she dies is Basilio! Crispin!
- Martha in Clocks that Don't Tick. She's attractive, day dreams often, and is prone to extreme mood swings.
- Eleanor Flood in the Adrian Mole series: a beautiful but unbalanced woman who becomes obsessed with Adrian when he hires her as a tutor for his sons. She ultimately burns his house down because he rejected her.
- V. C. Andrews has a few examples. The protagonist of My Sweet Audrina has strong echoes of this trope, although she's not so much mentally ill as has been brainwashed by her family. Both Celeste in the Gemini series and Karen in the Shadows series become the trope when they end up committed to psychiatric hospitals for life.
- Celeste Draconi, nee Sterling, in the Black Blade series. Her madness is mainly the fault of her abusive husband.
- The original The Ring and its Japanese film adaptation actually subverts this in the case of its main villain, Sadako Yamamura. While she is the source of the cursed video tape and died by being trapped in a well, she wasn't insane in the usual definition of the word (though she did have the tendency to make other people insane); the one that fits as Ophelia better is actually Sadako's mother, Shizuko, who was described as weird and liked to babble unintelligible sentences near the sea (the film heavily implies that she conceived Sadako by having an affair with an oceanic deity).
- However, the trope is played straight in the US remake with Sadako's counterpart, Samara. She was an outright Creepy Child who drove horses to commit suicide and her adoptive mother to be confined in a mental facility. Her adoptive and biological mothers (Anna and Evelyn, respectively) are also examples of this: Anna felt remorse for killing Samara and eventually committed suicide by jumping into the sea, while Evelyn tried to drown Samara and as a result is confined to a sanitarium.
- Shutter Island and its film adaptation has Edward Daniels ‒ oh sorry, Andrew Laeddis' wife, Dolores Chanal (AKA Rachel Solando). She had an undisclosed mental illness described as "insects in her brain" and had tried to seek treatment, which Andrew ignored. Then she killed their three children. By drowning them in a lake. Followed by Andrew shooting her. "Why are you all wet, baby?"
Live Action TV
- Joss Whedon loves his gibbering brunette Ophelias.
- There's River Tam from Firefly, who is also a Cassandra of course, but her lyrical madness fits the trope to the letter, and Ophelia's River is even there in her name. She has a faithful Laertes in Simon.
- Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "Do you like daisies? Hmm? I plant them, but they always die. Everything I put in the ground withers and dies." She was driven mad by being terrorized by Angelus.
- You could make the argument for Faith as well, even before her Face-Heel Turn she had some serious issues, and even though some of them got resolved when she joined the Mayor, most of them got much, much worse.
- In Angel, Fred recovers relatively quickly, but gets in a fair amount of babbling and scribbling on the walls first. "You're not real! Or I'm not real. Somebody here isn't real and I suspect it's you..." She was stuck in a demon dimension where humans were treated like cattle for five years and, after escaping her captors, stayed in a cave by herself for months until the team ended up in the dimension and saved her.
- Glory's sanity stealing powers provided an entire season of these at the ready.
- Most notably, Tara.
- The ensouled Spike has his own moments of Male Ophelia Syndrome. This is my place! You need permission to be here! You need a special slip with a stamp!
- And frankly, "Restless" turned the entire cast of Buffy into this.
- Doctor Who:
- In the episode "The Doctor's Wife", Idris/ the TARDIS is this when she's put into human form. Of course, experiencing your own past, present and future at the same time would make anyone a bit mad.
- When Susan Foreman is in her more alien moods, she becomes like this, particularly in "The Edge of Destruction", which she spends drifting around waifishly in a long kimono-like dress babbling about visions in her mind, staring blankly into space with her big sad eyes, and shredding furniture with scissors while screaming and crying hysterically. (When she's in a more human mood, she's The Ingenue.)
- There's also the Big Bad's daughter in "The Crimson Horror", although she is not so much mad as desperately craving for affection. And blind.
- "All the Sinners, Saints", a thoroughly depressing, Shoot the Shaggy Dog episode of Without a Trace, features Katie, a beautiful young woman who's suffered from a severe and apparently untreatable mental illness for years and believes she's possessed and vanishes after suffering visions of a murder. after discovering that she committed the murder in question, she slits her wrists in a bath, fulfilling the trope's association with water.
- Anorexic Cassie is an Ophelia who just about manages to function socially, except for when she... doesn't. When thoroughly out of it as she attempts suicide, she is seen dancing ethereally in floaty clothes on a hilltop bench against the setting sun.
- Subverted in the second series. The Ophelian tendencies go out of the window and it's just plain disturbing when she's out of it.
- Effy straddles the line between "pretty" and "disturbing" during the fourth series.
- There was an age where every Hispanic Soap Opera heroine snapped in an Ophelia Phase if broken enough. Given its roots in Victorian romantic literature, it's not a surprise. They tended to get back into sanity in time for their Roaring Rampage of Revenge, although by the time they snapped back they had already do something unforgivable, like giving their newborn to beggars.
- In The Addams Family, Morticia's older sister (also played by Caroline Jones in the series; seen for about two seconds in the movies) fits much of this trope. She wears flowers in her hair (if you try to pluck one, her leg lifts up); she's vague at least, though not babbly; and she's very good at karate, not noticing that it hurts when she flips men to the ground. Oh, did I mention her name is Ophelia?
- In an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena is driven mad by the Furies. Oh, she can still kick butt(in a Three Stooges style) but she suddenly wants to weave daisies in her hair.
- CSI: New York has a suspected murderer, who seems dazed and begins babbling about law procedings. As it turns out, she's just a sleepwalker that only just woke up. Bonus points for her name actually being Ophelia.
- Annie from Community, especially back in her Adderall days.
- Daisy on Being Human. Bit of an Actor Allusion, as the actress Amy Manson also played Lizzie Siddal, the model of the famous pre-Raphaelite painting Ophelia◊ on Desperate Romantics.
- In Sons of Anarchy Opie fills this role as part of the Hamlet setting update. After Donna's death, he becomes, like his Shakespearian counterpart, melancholy and suicidally crazy.
- Lila West from Season 2 of Dexter is stunningly beautiful and possesses an artistic streak with which she sculpts a Room Full of Crazy. She also has some unfortunate kleptomaniac, arsonist and Yandere tendencies.
- Helena from Orphan Black is beautiful, ethereal, one hell of a dancer...and all-around Ax-Crazy.
- Sienna Blake in Hollyoaks is portrayed this way.
- The Mad Hatter from Once Upon a Time is a gender inverted version. After being trapped in Wonderland, he became willing to break and corrupt and is generally not the sanest person to be around, especially after Regina steals his hat. It's somewhat justified as he told his daughter that he would only leave her with the neighbors for a day, and ends up trapped in Wonderland constantly worried about her.
- This is more or less Katie-Jane Garside's (Of Daisy Chainsaw and Queenadreena fame) stage persona. Actually, imagine the girl in the picture at the top of this page stumbling around in a terrified daze and you're practically there.
- The basis for the Emilie Autumn album Opheliac, which was described by Autumn as "being another drowning story". And as the album is somewhat autobiographical, the attractiveness part is arguably passed too.
- Yoshiki Hayashi in both stage persona and Real Life is a male example of the trope, though somewhat less, both as he's gotten older and as therapy for the conditions from which he has suffered has improved from what it was. Arguably, from Yoshiki's autobiography, Yoshiki's father was also a Real Life male Ophelia, one whose life sadly ended from suicide at 33.
- Florence + The Machine used this idea in at least The Drumming Song off of the Between Two Lungs album. Other songs also feature this idea, and any Drinking Game involving how often she mentions drowning will quickly result in liver failure.
- The folk song Maid in Bedlam
- Marianne Faithfull, who went from early 60's ingenue to late 60's wild child with an almost suicidal eagerness. She even played Ophelia alongside Nicol Williamson's Hamlet.
- Jim Morrison wrote a poem in tribute to Brian Jones, guitarist for The Rolling Stones, which compared him to Ophelia; Jones had drowned in a swimming pool.
- Most of Evanescence's Sanity Slippage Songs give off this vibe.
- Lacey Sturm, the lead singer for the band Flyleaf, has an Ophelia-like air in their music videos, and sometimes, even on stage. Bare feet and all.
- Rufus Wainwright name drops Ophelia in the song "Memphis Skyline", which is about his friend Jeff Buckley, who died by accidental drowning in the Wolf River after he waded in, fully dressed, shouting the lyrics of "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin.
- "Mad Scenes" were a popular convention of early 19th Century French and Italian opera, frequently afflicting the soprano heroine. They are famously difficult to sing and were often written as a way for a particularly talented singer to show off her technical prowess in a dramatically plausible way.
- Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. She stabs her forced bridegroom Arthur to death, then shows up babbling (re: singing) madly about her beloved Edgard in the middle of the wedding party - blood splattered dress and all, few before she passes away as well. (In the original novel, Walter Scott's "Bride of Lamermoor" which was Very Loosely Based on a True Story, Lucia's madness is surprisingly un-aestheticised, so doesn't count).
- Linda in Linda di Chamounix has the unusual good fortune of getting over it and having a happily-ever-after.
- Margeurite in Gounod's Faust goes mad after falling pregnant and committing infanticide, and sings, of course, about flowers.
- Elvira, the heroine of Bellini's I Puritani, goes mad after her beloved Arturo apparently jilts her (he was actually on an important spy mission). She spends all of act II and most of act III in a very extended mad scene before being reunited with Arturo and getting a happy ending.
- Anna Bolena in Donizetti's opera of the same name fades in and out of madness at the place of execution. She imagines she is back at her wedding day to the King, and is terrified lest her true lover, Percy, should discover her treachery. She comes out of it at the end to go to her death with dignity and with dubious words of forgiveness for Enrico and Giovanna on her lips.
- Imogene in Vincenzo Bellini's Il Pirata loses it completely as her former lover turned Pirate is led to his execution. She ends the scene with a plea to the sun to veil its light, so she will not have to witness the hanging of her true love.
- Ambroise Thomas has an actual Ophelia in his operatic version of Hamlet complete with a mad scene complete with flowers and visions of mermaids.
- Gilbert and Sullivan parody the type with Mad Margaret in Ruddigore. Her supposed madness does no more than make her a Cloudcuckoolander (and a sympathetic one, to boot). In the second act, she's mostly reformed but sometimes bursts into hysterical fits, which can be quieted by reminding her of the word "Basingstoke" (an English town which is noted for not being Birmingham; both towns start with the same letter as Bedlam, though this is not mentioned in the play).
- Male example: In the Stravinsky opera The Rake's Progress, Tom imagines himself as Adonis after he goes insane.
- Daffney Unger patterned herself after Harley Quinn from Batman and WCW, envisioned her as an expy to Mallory Knox. You know, criminally insane people? WCW also put her in a wedding gown match with Miss Hancock so apparently no one thought it took away from the appeal.
- Victoria was WWE's version. Despite being mad to the point of seeing and interacting with things that simply were not present, an affinity swinging heavy metal objects and questionable relationship with Stevie Richards, she still got put in the bikini and other photo shoots on the website.
- Then, there's Dolores Whateley in Deadlands. Ethereally beautiful? Check. Long, raven-black hair? Check. Access to mind-breaking knowledge? Check. Dancing through the graveyard at night singing nursery rhymes to her "friends" in the graves? Ooh. That's a big check. In the short-lived Deadlands CCG, she provided some of the best Flavor Text, such as the quote on the "Event Card" where every aced character became playable again for exactly one round.
"Everyone's coming out to play!"
- In Vampire: The Masquerade we're provided with an entire vampire clan of these, courtesy of the Malkavians. Subverted, in that while some of them are genuine Ophelias, just as many are Ax-Crazy or Psychopathic Manchildren, or have less obvious kinds of crazy like personality disorders or compulsions, and a fair number are just pretending to be The Ophelia to put the rest of the world off their guard.
- Ophelia from Hamlet, the Trope Namer. She starts out the play as a proper young lady, obedient to her father, even when he tells her she must end her relationship with Prince Hamlet, which means a lot to her. When Hamlet begins to fake his antic disposition (or actually go nuts, depending on your reading), Ophelia bears the brunt of his crazy behavior, which includes privately scolding her for being a whore, and publicly humiliating her. Hamlet then kills Ophelia's father, and her sanity decays quite quickly. In a chilling scene, she walks around the King, Queen, and her own brother, without recognizing any of them, but strewing flowers, singing, and sobbing. A little later, the Queen enters with a report of Ophelia's death by drowning, saying she was so distracted that she didn't even realize the danger when she fell into a river and sank. But the men who dig her grave darkly assert she was Driven to Suicide.
- Alternative Character Interpretation abounds with her (like everyone else in the play), including a well-supported theory that she is pregnant with Hamlet's child — therefore, by being forced to give up her relationship with him, she's already lost her maidenhead and her future is ruined. More than one of her listed flowers would cause an abortion if ingested. Ophelia remains a popular figure for art, poetry, and reinterpretation.
- In King John, also by William Shakespeare, Constance reads like a subversion, but she precedes the writing of Hamlet by two years. Constance suffers the loss of her little son, Arthur, and everyone around her says she is mad. But when Constance enters the stage, she sharply rebukes that she is still completely sane, that if she was mad, she wouldn't feel each grief as keenly as she does. Stephen Greenblatt hypothesizes that Constance's monologue is based on Shakespeare's grief over the death of his son.
- Probably inspired by Shakespeare's example, any young woman in Renaissance drama who enters "with her hair about her ears" (i.e. down).
- William Shakespeare himself parodied this type with the Jailer's Daughter in The Two Noble Kinsmen.
- Mary Tyrone in the final scene of Long Days Journey Into Night, when she wanders into the room so intoxicated by morphine that she thinks she's a young convent girl again and rambles accordingly. Her acerbic son James even lampshades this: "The mad scene. Enter Ophelia!"
- Some productions choose to go down this path with post-Villainous Breakdown Lady Macbeth.
- Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.
- Tennessee William's use of this trope is believed to be inspired by his own life. Williams was very close to his sister Rose, who was described as a "slim beauty"; she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent much time in mental hospitals before having a lobotomy that incapacitated her. Williams never got over it and it is believed to have played a part in his drug addiction and alcoholism.
- Some productions of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street do this to Johanna.
- Diana of Next To Normal is a deconstruction of this trope. Her husband, Dan talks about how wild and beautiful she was as a college student, but got worse as time went on. The show makes a point to show there's nothing mystical or glamorous about mental illness.
- Lucy Westenra becomes this trope as a vampire in Dracula: a Love Stronger Than Death, down to the loose hair, white gown, and flower crown. This is a big change from the book, where she's an utter monster after her transformation.
- The Orestiada's rendition of the aforementioned Princess Cassandra zigzags the trope around. This beautiful Fallen Princess from Troy who has been taken to Argos as Agamemnon's concubine and serant is among the few characters who is clearly aware of what's going on and what will happen, but since she's the Trope Namer for Cassandra Truth after being cursed by Apollo, everyone else believes she's been driven mad by her ordeals... until she begins to describe the bloody story of the city of Argos and Agamemnon's lineage as clearly as if she had been there, which is impossible for obvious reasons, so the Elders of Argos start showing more sympathy to her plight. Not that it helps her when she's killed by Clytemnestra almost immediately after Agamemnon does.
- Ophelia from Blood: Caleb's backstory mentions her home was burned down by the Cabal after her husband tried to leave them. She is left there for some time, mindlessly babbling on and blaming her husband's cowardice for the death of her son. She, well, gets better, then worse, then better again.
- Yeesha from Uru has a touch of this- her speeches have her dancing about the room, using odd phrases, and describing the flow of water.
- Princess Charlotte from Adam Cadre's interactive fiction work Varicella.
- F.E.A.R.'s Alma appears to have many Ophelia-esque aspects, particularly in Project Origin. She is shown singing in several hallucinations, and in the prequel videos she dances around a doctor who she's been gleefully mindraping. Water shows up often in her hallucinations, which makes sense, as, like Ophelia, she drowned to death (in her case, in amniotic fluid). And her hair in her "child" form tends to be wild and frazzled.
- Penny from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin vacillates between being an Ophelia and being Ax-Crazy, mainly depending on the wishes of her stuffed Mr. Bear.
Penny: Hee hee! Penny likes you...but Mr. Bear HATES YOU!Will: Why are you helping me?Penny:: ...Because Mr. Bear told me to.
- Lilian in Laura Bow
- Tira from the SoulCalibur games, who leans towards the "Ax-Crazy" variety.
- This is the backstory of Nadia Grell in Star Wars: The Old Republic, bar that rather than being mentally ill, her talent with the Force was awakening and her species had no history or awareness of the Force. She snaps out of it when the Jedi teach her how to control her powers.
- Ophelia's Superpowered Evil Side in Brütal Legend. Lampshaded as she uses a lot of metaphors for drowning when commanding her army to attack.
- Ninian from Fire Emblem Elibe spends a brief time like this. When she's found in either Eliwood's or Hector's path, she's adrift in a small rowboat and totally amnesiac, so the cast takes her in since she can't be left alone. Soon it's show why she's like that: she and Nils tried to escape from the Dread Isle to not be forced to open the Dragon Gate and call other dragons through it, with the help of Eliwood's captured father Elbert; however, Nils fell into the sea and the already unstable Ninian snapped, blocking everything from her mind. She doesn't recover until Nils reappears and snaps her out — and just in time, as she's Brainwashed and Crazy and just about to open the Dragon Gate under Nergal's orders. From then on she's mostly sane, if extremely shy and reserved.
- Sara from Fire Embem: Thracia 776 is regarded as such by her grandfather Manfroy and the Lopto cult. She's more of a slightly-off but otherwise functional Oracular Urchin, however, and she eagerly joins Leif's group as soon as she has the chance.
- Depending on how well you do on a certain event, Garry from Ib can lapse into this temporarily or permanently. After being terrorized literally out of his wits, he begins babbling to himself and ignoring the world around him. He follows the tradition of male Ophelias, in that he is feminine, pretty, and gentle.
- Shannon from Umineko: When They Cry. She seems a perfectly normal, if shy Meido, until Will asks her to bring Kanon into the room with her, at which point she quite literally short-circuits. The entire seventh arc is spent showing just how broken this cutie is since it's revealed that she is Kanon, or rather, he's her alternate personality —to put it mildly.
- By extension, not only is Shannon The Ophelia, but also her creator, Yasu, also known as Beatrice and Kanon.
- If the beta version of Katawa Shoujo is to be believed, Hanako Ikezawa would have eventually become this.
- Lucy of Bittersweet Candy Bowl after Michael is believed to have died during the hiking trip
- Young Reisen of A Broken Winter is a rare male example. We're introduced to him sitting on the desk with his headphones in and the fire extinguishers merrily destroying his room, while he muses as to the music of the gods. It's portrayed as a very classic Ophelia moment.
- Arkady of Freakangels
- Lucia Joyce, daughter of James Joyce. Schizophrenic. Institutionalised. Pretty (rather Flapper-like), with an artistic temperament: she was a skilled dancer in her youth, good enough to train with Isadora Duncan.
- America's Next Top Model's seasons 12 and 17 contestant Allison Harvard (also known on the Internet as "Creepy-chan"). Long, messy hair, weird, crazy vibe and everything.
- In 1720, Susan Mountfort, an institutionalized actress who had been known for playing Ophelia, escaped her keepers, went to her former theater, hid in the wings, and took the current actress's place in Ophelia's "mad" scene, dying shortly afterwards.
- The aforementioned sister of Tennesee Williams, Rose.
- Alexander Hamilton's eldest daughter, Angelica, became this when her older brother Philip was killed in a duel. Thanks to a nervous breakdown, she reverted to a childlike state from which she never recovered, and was reported to have played piano incessantly.