People going mad from the revelation in live-action TV.
- Lampshaded in Babylon 5, when G'Kar has a guest over for dinner:Na'kal: Breen. You've managed to import breen from homeworld. How?
G'Kar: It ... isn't actually breen.
Na'kal: But the smell, the taste...
G'Kar: It's an Earth food. They are called Swedish meatballs. It's a strange thing, but every sentient race has its own version of these Swedish meatballs. I suspect it's one of those great universal mysteries which will either never be explained or which will drive you mad if you ever learned the truth.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003)
- Leoben Conoy - "To know the face of God is to know madness."
- The Hybrids, who control the Cylon Basestars, continually spout out apparent gibberish that some believe to actually be the words of "The One, True God."
- D'Anna Biers experienced this trope first-hand in the Temple of Five after looking upon the faces of the Final Five.
- This happens in Being Human, when Annie (a ghost) whispers to her killer, Owen a "secret that only the dead know." He snaps almost immediately. Interestingly enough, when George asks what she said, Mitchell shakes his head slightly, indicating that Annie shouldn't say — as well as the fact that he knows it too.
- At the end of Episode 11 of Season 4 of Breaking Bad, Walter is in desperate need of money for a life and death situation he's running out of time on. When he finds out his wife has had to give a huge portion of it away in a bid to keep their actions hidden, he lets out a scream of anguish ... and then starts cackling like a maniac.
- Buffyverse: Lilah's timid about entering the White Room, mostly because of one employee who went in there and ended up in an asylum as a result.
- Sex with Brother Justin after he's transitioned into full-on Anti Christ mode has this effect in Carnivàle.
- One episode of Criminal Minds is about a man who goes off antipsychotic meds in an attempt to access lost childhood memories, only for them to turn out to be so traumatic that they cause him to go on a killing spree.
- Doctor Who:
- "Ghost Light" introduced Redvers Fenn-Cooper, an explorer and hunter who was unlucky enough to witness Light's sleeping form in the cellar of a Victorian mansion. The experience turned his hair white and drove him into the depths of insanity. By the time the Doctor arrives, he's disassociated his own identity so well that if he does acknowledge his own name, it's in the third person.
- In "The Age of Steel", the Cybermen are defeated by the Doctor stopping their emotional inhibitors from working. This causes them to remember who they really are, and what they have become, and they subsequently go insane as the shock kills them. The Doctor effectively uses the same technique to defeat Mercy Hartigan in "The Next Doctor", severing her link with the Cyberking and allowing her to see the monster she's become, destroying her mind.
- In "The Sound of Drums", we learn that every Time Lord is forced at the age of eight to stare at a gap in the fabric of reality. Through this gap the entire Time Vortex can be seen, containing all that is, was, or will ever be. In the words of the Doctor, "Some would be inspired, some would run away, and some would go mad." It's initially suggested that this is what happened to the Master, though it's later revealed in "The End of Time" that his madness was deliberately engineered by Lord President Rassilon to help pull the Time Lords out of the time locked Last Great Time War.
- Dalek Caan in "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" is arguably a case of someone who went sane from the revelation: despite exhibiting all the obvious characteristics of a Mad Oracle, having seen the whole of time itself left him utterly and completely disgusted at his own genocidal race and thus set things in motion to have the Doctor and Donna Noble defeat the Daleks.
- "Heaven Sent" sees a tragic combination of this trope and the Heroic BSoD when the Doctor, trapped inside a personalized torture chamber for billions of years, doomed to repeat the same few days over and over, suddenly remembers all the past occasions in which he's gone though the chamber. Not only does this threaten to drive him mad, his grief over the death of his beloved companion, Clara chooses that moment to boil over. Although he recovers ( thanks to a memory of Clara encouraging him to fight and win), this is a major factor in him later nearly becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Time.
- "Extremis": The contents of The Veritas are so terrible that anyone who reads it is Driven to Suicide. What does it reveal? The world is a computer simulation created by hostile aliens in preparation for an invasion of Earth.
- The Torchwood episode "Adrift" has a victim of the Rift who's permanently insane as a result of looking into the heart of a dark star. He's living in a secret Torchwood-sponsored care home in an old bunker, with at least a dozen other patients. He screams for twenty hours a day...
- On Dollhouse, it's strongly implied that this is what happens to Topher. He witnesses the death of Bennett and then learns that he was responsible for creating the devices that will bring about the technological apocalypse. It's enough to drive him so far over the edge that he becomes terrified of his own intelligence, because the Rossum Corporation keeps forcing him to use it to hurt people.
- Played for Laughs on Father Ted when in "Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Roller Blading" Father Jack [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJ72tSlnXAA finally sobers up for the first time in years],] which, as Ted points out, must be like a maddening hallucinogenic to Jack. It gets worse when Ted and Dougal re-introduce themselves:Jack: What do you do then?
Ted: We're priests.
Jack: Priests?! DON'T TELL ME I'M STILL ON THAT FECKING ISLAND!
- Firefly both pokes fun at this trope and plays it straight. One theory on the Reavers is that were men who were driven insane by seeing the edge of space. Not only is this theory eventually shown to be wrong, but Jayne is immediately puzzled: he's been out there, and it just looks like more space. However, at one point the Reavers intentionally induce Reaver-like insanity in one victim by killing the rest of his shipmates while he is Forced to Watch. The Movie reveals that at least part of River's psychosis was the result of learning what happened on Miranda.
- River suffers from this as she is forcibly turned into a psychic. She has no control at first and is paraded around various people of power and influence as an example of the success of the program, all the while learning things that she has no desire to know about, Miranda being the prime example. She was learning about it subconsciously. Imagine learning about the Holocaust by reading the minds of the Nazis who were there. It would drive you crazy due to the sheer horror. Once she had conscious knowledge of Miranda and was able to finally free herself of the burden she gets noticeably better. Which isn't to say it made her sane.
- This is reported to be common when an ordinary human sees a Wesen in Game Face on Grimm. Apparently, a tolerance can be built up, as Hank demonstrates.
- Kamen Rider Gaim: Mitsuzane Kureshima is shown the true nature of the Helheim forest and Invess, an Eldritch location full of Hordes Of Alien Locust and monsters who used to be civilized people. The rest of the story chronicles his descent into madness and villainy as he makes increasingly desperate and awful attempts to keep everyone around him Locked Out of the Loop.
- Another Played for Laughs in The Legend of Dick and Dom episode "Hairwolf"; a man is driven mad by the horrors of the Hairwolf eating his hair and dances around giving cryptic warnings like "Don't go to the castle, it's dangerous!", "Don't play the bassoon in the bath, it's wrong!" and "Don't feed a white rabbit brussels sprouts, it'll turn green!"
- In Lucifer, most people go mad when the titular character shows them his Game Face. Unfortunately, sometimes he does it at the wrong moment, causing one suspect to leap off the roof, just to get away from him. Sometimes he limits it to just Red Eyes, Take Warning, causing them to run away screaming. Others end up in a mental hospital. Dr. Linda Martin goes catatonic for a day after Lucifer shows her his true self, but eventually grows to accept him. Notably, it utterly fails on Detective Malcolm Graham, which is explained by Malcolm being clinically dead for a few minutes and ending up in Hell, so he's seen worse.
- Married... with Children puts a humorous spin on this trope. In "Wabbit Season", poor Al Bundy has temporarily gone insane after an unpleasant incident at work, and when Peg brings him home, he's babbling about "selling a lot of shoes after midnight." A kiss from Peg brings him back to his senses, but what makes it even funnier is when Al explains what happened:Al: Oh, Peg, it was horrible. Sixteen straight hours of shoe-selling mayhem. Last thing I remember, I was down on one knee, waiting on an overflowing glacier of a woman. First thing they teach you when youre a rookie shoe salesman is, when you got a fat one in the chair, never look up. I looked up, Peg! I saw underwear! It said "Saturday!"
Peg: So what?
Al: TODAY'S WEDNESDAY!
- In season 6, in the episode "If I Could See Me Now" we discover that Al has bad eyesight and experiences the world mostly as fuzzy blobs. The kids convince him to get glasses after driving home with Al behind the wheel. Upon finally getting his glasses Al sees the world around him, especially his house and family, as it really is. He clutches his head and screams in agony, parodying this trope. He finally destroys his glasses as he would rather cling to the world he knew rather than face the truth.
- In Mystery Science Theater 3000 Tom and Crow are given psychotropic drugs for Pearl to observe the effects. Tom's view, while creepy, is apparently normal to him. What makes Crow go mad? The Milky Way bar Mike was holding is now a Snickers!
- The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "First Anniversary", a man's gorgeous wife of one year turns out to be a rather horrid-looking alien who is suffering Glamour Failure because his mind is starting to develop an immunity. He's eventually carted off to a mental asylum and she finds herself a new husband.
- In the first season finale of Preacher, this happens to pretty much the entire town of Annville. The shocking revelation that God is real but has abandoned Heaven, pushes most folks past the Despair Event Horizon, with some indulging in raging hedonism, others turning suicidal, and others becoming homicidal — Quincannon in particular seems to suffer an outright break from reality. Emily is the only person shown not to be overly affected, but it's possible she's just become a Stepford Smiler to try and cope.
- In the Seinfeld episode "The Serenity Now" Jerry has become emotionally mature (as opposed to his shallow self) by letting his emotions out. At one point he asks George to "let it all out". We cut back later to see George in a similar state of emotional maturity, but Jerry is horrified beyond words. Even though Jerry doesn't go insane, the revelation burned out his emotional maturity and returned him to the shallow sitcom character he was before.
- In Smallville, The Helmet of Nabu reveals the fate of everyone to the wearer and drives them insane.
- Star Trek:
- Having sex with a Deltan makes one go mad. Or so we've heard. More precisely, the sex is apparently so good that Terrans, at least, have trouble coping afterwards, unless they're Captain James Tiberius Kirk. Then the sex was sorta "meh".
- The Original Series episode "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" revolves around Kollos, an ambassador of the Medusan race, whose physical appearance is so hideous — or maybe so beautiful — that any humanoid who looks at them directly goes insane. Kollos, in contrast with Shoggoths and Eldritch horrors, is clearly a good guy.
- Commodore Decker in "The Doomsday Weapon" is so traumatized by the fact that the titular weapon killed his crew when it attacked the planet he evacuated them to, he decides to commandeer the Enterprise on a suicide mission to stop it. What makes this bad is that everyone knows he's lost his mind, but since McCoy can't get him to stop and get him examined to relieve him of duty, the crew has no choice but to follow his lead until Kirk can drag Decker's ravaged ship back over and get Spock to shut him down.
- From "The Alternative Factor", Matter-Lazarus goes stark raving mad upon learning of the existence of his Anti-Matter double and becomes hellbent on destroying him, even if it means the destruction of both universes.
- "The Omega Glory" has this after Tracey learns all his evil deeds are All for Nothing. You can see him snap at the news and proceeds to threaten Kirk for weapons for a pointless fight on a planet they by now can leave any time, and then he literally goes Axe-Crazy.
- The Stone Tape. The scientists question a man who used to play in the castle as a boy. He breaks down and reveals how a friend was accidentally trapped in the haunted room during a game of dare.
- In season seven of Supernatural, Sam is being driven mad by memories of his time tortured by Lucifer in the Cage.
- The Thriller episode "The Cheaters" follows a pair of magic spectacles from owner to owner. Each goes mad, as the cheaters show their wearer the truth of everything seen through them. The final owner decides to look at himself in a mirror, just as the creator of the glasses did before his death. They offer to let him off without seeing the truth, but he insists, and instantly goes mad and then kills himself.
- In the eleventh season of Trailer Park Boys, Lahey finally reveals that he is Ricky's true father, which was the real reason why his mother left him and Ray. Ricky... doesn't take the news very well.
- The Twilight Zone (1959): In the original series episode "Deaths-Head Revisited", a retired Nazi general returns to the death camp he worked at, only to be tortured to insanity by the ghosts of the people he murdered. Let's just say they showed him everything they went through while in his "care".
- The Twilight Zone (1985): The revival episode "Need to Know" featured William Petersen investigating an insanity epidemic in a small town. It turns out a resident has discovered the meaning of life, but to hear the secret is to go crazy.
- In Upright Citizens Brigade, a house has a "bucket of truth" in it that shows immutable truth; most people are driven to absolute despair by the sights within. A police captain who has been wallowing in despair looks into the bucket and shouts at the heavens, "Don't you think I know that?!"