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Pictured above: Frankenstein's Monster.
(Not pictured: Dr. Frankenstein himself.)
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Frankenstein (full title: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus) is a science fiction novel written by Mary Shelley, originally published in 1818. Victor Frankenstein, an archetypal mad scientist who, through performing morally dubious laboratory experiments, somehow creates new life in the form of a nameless creature; which is confused and horrified by the world it was born into, leading to a furious rampage of vengeance against its creator. Death and tragedy ensue.

Over 200 years later, the aforementioned creature, best known by the moniker of Frankenstein's Monster (to avoid confusion with his creator Dr. Frankenstein), has become a very iconic horror villain in the public domain, appearing in a wide variety of works of fiction.

The following is a (rather incomplete) list of works based on Frankenstein, as well as the tropes usually associated with them.

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Frankenstein media:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 

    Feature Films 
  • Frankenstein (1910), written and directed by J. Searle Dawley, and the first film adaptation. Largely a showcase of special effects, and it was believed to be lost for decades. Luckily, a copy was eventually found.
  • Life Without Soul (1915), the second film adaptation of Shelley's novel, but it remains a lost film.

Universal Horror films

Hammer Horror films

Miscellaneous films

  • Frankenstein 1970 (1958), directed by Howard W. Koch. Boris Karloff plays the Baron rather than the monster this time.
  • House on Bare Mountain (1962): The Wolfman, Dracula and the Frankenstein monster spy on a girls' school in the mountains, where most of the girls sunbathe in the nude.
  • Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), a Toho film where the monster's immortal heart makes its way to Japan and after exposure to the Hiroshima blast, leads to a new giant-sized Frankenstein, who fights a giant fire-breathing lizard named Baragon.
    • War of the Gargantuas (1966), a sequel where two creatures grow from scraps left behind in the previous movie.
  • Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966): A bizarre, low-budget horror/western hybrid that has to be seen to be believed.
  • Lady Frankenstein (1971), an English-language Italian horror film directed by Mel Welles and written by cult writer Edward di Lorenzo. Focuses on the exploits of the Baron's daughter, and features more bare breasts than the average Frankenstein film.
  • Blackenstein (1973), a Blaxploitation film in a which a soldier loses his arms and legs to a landmine in Vietnam. His fiancee persuades her former mentor to use him as a test subject for a new technique to graft on new limbs. However, the professor's lab assistant sabotages the experiment, transforming the soldier into a Frankenstein monster.
  • The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1973), a French film directed by Jess Franco in which Frankenstein's daughter Vera and his arch-rival the immortal sorcerer Cagliostro vie for control of his monster after his death.
  • Frankenstein: The True Story (1973), a British TV film directed by Jack Smight and written by Christopher Isherwood. Features Leonard Whiting as Victor Frankenstein, and Michael Sarrazin as the Monster.
  • Flesh for Frankenstein (aka Andy Warhol's Frankenstein) (1973)
  • Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1974), an Italian horror film involving Count Frankenstein and Neanderthal men. No, really.
  • Young Frankenstein (1974), Mel Brooks' Affectionate Parody of the Universal movies.
  • Frankenstein Island (1981): When a hot-air balloon crashes on a remote island, the crew discovers Dr. Frankenstein's descendant carrying on the family work, along with a race of mutants and a population of Amazons. Low budget does not begin to describe this glorious mess.
  • Transylvania 6-5000 (1985): Two tabloid reporters who travel to modern-day Transylvania to uncover the truth behind Frankenstein sightings.
  • Frankenstein: the College Years (1991), a television film directed by Tom Shadyac.
  • Frankenstein (1993), a television film directed by David Wickes.
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), an adaptation directed by Kenneth Branagh, Truer to the Text than most before it, although widely derided for its hammy acting and questionable casting.
  • Frankenstein (2004), a TV movie based on books by Dean Koontz.
  • Van Helsing (2004), Shuler Hensley plays the monster in the crossover film.
  • Frankenstein (2007), an ITV adaptation of the novel.
  • I, Frankenstein (2014), a movie notable for staying true to the Creature's depiction in the book; but having the story take place in the present day, and featuring the Creature (now named Adam Frankenstein, played by Aaron Eckhart) involved in a war between gargoyles and demons.
  • Victor Frankenstein (2015) is a very loose adaptation of the novel, focusing primarily on the friendship between Victor Frankenstein and his protégé Igor Strausman.
  • Frankenstein (2015), a stripped down, modernized adaptation from the director of Candyman.
  • Frankenstein (TBA), an upcoming adaptation by Guillermo del Toro, which will star Doug Jones as the Monster.

    Literature 
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    Live Action TV 
  • Wishbone adapted the novel in the 1995 episode "Frankenbone." Despite being a short, kids' version with a dog in the role of Victor Frankenstein, it actually sticks pretty close to the original novel. Still, they couldn't resist including the obligatory scene in which electricity is used to bring the monster to life.
  • House of Frankenstein (1997), an NBC miniseries remake of the 1944 film of the same name.
  • Frankenstein (2004), a Hallmark Channel miniseries adaptation that is even more closely faithful to the novel than Branagh's 1994 film.
  • Frankenstein M.D. (2014), a web series from Pemberley Digital, featuring the amateur educational videos of enthusiastic and unorthodox medical student, Victoria Frankenstein.

    Theatre 
  • Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein (1823), written by Richard Brinsley Peake. This introduced changes like removing the framing device, making the monster a huge and non-speaking brute that dies at the end, and elevating Frankenstein's assistant to major character status which would later become standard elements of the mythology. Until the 1931 movie, this was the best-known version of the story. Read the transcript here.
  • Frankenstein In Love (1982) by Clive Barker, a Setting Update where Frankenstein is an former Nazi continuing his grisly experiments in a South American dictatorship.
  • Frankenstein — A New Musical (2007), an obscure musical adaptation starring Hunter Foster as Victor Frankenstein, and Steve Blanchard as the Creature.
  • Frankenstein: La Opera Rock (2009), a Mexican rock opera adaptation of the book, taking references from some of the movies. Written, directed, and composed by José Fores, who also plays the role of the Creature.
  • Frankenstein (2011), written by Nick Dear and directed by Danny Boyle, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternating as Frankenstein and the Monster. Scored with dark electronic ambiance by the band Underworld too.note 
  • Frankenstein's Wedding (2011), a live musical filmed in Leeds, with the audience taking on the role of guests at Victor's and Elizabeth's wedding.


Frankenstein tropes:

Trope Namer of:

  • Dr. Fakenstein: Victor Frankenstein, of course.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Obviously enough.
  • Franken-X: The creature ended up inspiring a shorthand for any sort of grotesque mix-and-match.
  • The Igor: Not from the original novel (Frankenstein didn't have an assistant in that version), but this character was actually the invention of the movie adaptations. The 1931 film's hunchbacked assistant was actually named Fritz, but Son of Frankenstein introduced Bela Lugosi's Ygor, and the rest is history.

General tropes:

  • Artificial Human: A biological, artificially-constructed humanoid.
  • Audio Adaptation: Works adapted to audio-only media like Audiobooks, Audio Plays, or Radio.
  • Blind and the Beast: The creature tries to befriend a blind man, and it works! Except the man's family returns and casts out the creature before he can explain himself.
    • Sort of subverted in at least one version, where the blind man treats the creature politely... until his family tells him what the creature actually looks like, at which point he's horrified in spite of how nice the creature's been so far.
  • Character Title: The name of the main character used for the series itself.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: In Frankenstein: The True Story, just before Clerval and Frankenstein are prepared to animate their creation, Clerval discovers that an arm they had reanimated earlier is becoming horribly deformed. He has a heart attack and leaves a partially-completed note: "The process is re—". He intended to write "reversing", Frankenstein interpreted the note to mean "ready."
  • Creating Life: Easily the best example—perhaps not for Frankenstein, but certainly for Shelley.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: Longer-than-average fingers depicted as creepy.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A Deconstruction. The Monster was not inherently evil, but All the Other Reindeer made him so.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: The Monster is often unaware of the damage it can do.
  • Gentle Giant: The Monster was originally depicted as innocent, and this sometimes carries over to adaptations.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Very much so.
  • Grave Robbing: In most adaptations, how the parts to create the monster are obtained.
  • Flesh Golem: The Monster heavily influenced this trope.
  • Herr Doktor: Possibly the Trope Codifier. More the films than the novel; both because the films' version of Frankenstein is more Germanic, and because in the original novel he never got his doctorate; after the shock of seeing his creation realized, he switched to studying literature, then dropped his studies entirely to deal with the creature's vendetta against him.
  • Hubris: One of the themes of the plot.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Envious, jealous, or narcissistic characters demanding love.
  • I Am Not Shazam:invoked Lampshaded in Son of Frankenstein, when the train bearing Frankenstein's family arrives in their hometown.
    Wolf Frankenstein: "Why, nine out of ten people call that misshapen creature of my father's experiments—"
    Guard: "Frankenstein Village."
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Frankenstein is the Ur-Example for this character archetype. His Large Ham personality in the movies have become the Trope Codifier for mad scientists in general.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The Monster is like this initially.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Monster is usually depicted as being comprised of body parts assembled from different corpses, which would make him sort of undead.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: If everybody's going to treat me like the villain, then I'll be the villain.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Vic runs away from his successful experiment in creating life because it's ugly. Then he destroys the Bride he was making for it, causing the Creature to go on a rampage. All the Creature wanted was some familial love, and then a female companion. C'mere, Vic... we need to slap some of the stupid out of you. In fairness, he destroyed the mate for fear that, unlike his first creation, it would be a monster in manner as well as looks.
    • He's also worried that the two creations together could breed and create a race of monsters. Um... brilliant biologist and anatomist hasn't heard of tying tubes?
      • Tubal ligations and vasectomies weren't viable with humans until the late 1800s. Castration would still be on the table...
    • When the monster told Victor that he "would be with you on your wedding night" he took that to mean that the monster planned to kill him then, even though its modus operandi up to that point had been to target his loved ones. He prepares to confront the monster alone while leaving his new wife undefended; the monster kills her instead.
  • Tortured Monster: Most definitely so.
  • Unbuilt Trope: The trope was made before it was codified, making the original seem like a deconstruction.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Creature.

Movie tropes:

  • Age Lift: The Victor Frankenstein of the Hammer Horror movies is an old, gray-haired Mad Scientist; the book's Victor Frankenstein is a 20-year-old college kid! That's one aspect that the Universal Horror films got right.
  • Grave Robbing: To get the parts for the monster.
  • Haunted Castle: Both the doctor and his monster lurk here.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Victor's death at the hands of his own creation.
  • Hulk Speak: How the Monster often talks.
  • Implacable Man: He might be slow and staggering, but he is coming for you.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Monster's main, if not only, weakness.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Ironically, the book itself deliberately left the means by which Frankenstein reanimated the creature a mystery, but you'd be forgiven for not knowing that from the films, for which lightning is an iconic part of the process.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: The place where Dr. Frankenstein makes the monster with science.
  • Mighty Glacier: The novel's version is, if anything, a Lightning Bruiser.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: The film is supposed to be set in some country where German is spoken, but most of the cast hardly make an effort.
  • Retcon: Both Frankenstein and his creation, are pretty clearly killed at the end of the 1931 film, but preview screenings proved so successful, that they changed the ending to allow for Vic—er, Henry's survival, and then implying that the monster, also survived the fire under the windmill. James Whale originally refused to direct the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, but eventually decided to invokedso he could make One More River. Knowing he could never top the original, he decided to make it "a hoot".
  • Scary Stitches: Part of the Monster's standard appearance.
  • Silly Walk: A must for The Igor, and, in the later films, the Monster too.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Many film adaptations.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The torch-wielding mob of peasants.
  • Überwald: Arguably, the film and its sequels codified the setting.
  • Working for a Body Upgrade: Several of the films make this The Igor's motivation for employment.
  • Zombie Gait: How the Monster moves about.

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