A character with their head in the clouds. They are very cheerful and strangely oblivious to things that everyone else takes for granted. They may have an argument with themselves for fun, make points in an argument with no basis in logic or reality, or tell rambling stories that have nothing to do with the point they're trying to make. They make totally unintentional double entendres, and are great for Getting Crap Past the Radar. Sometimes also called "Space Case" or "Space Cadet", or plain old "Strange", a cuckoo clock chime is used as an indicator of one.
The concept is well known, as in this joke: "A neurotic is a man who builds a castle in the air. A psychotic is the man who lives in it. A psychiatrist is the man who collects the rent." Jerome Lawrence
Cloudcuckoolanders are rarely malicious. They are far more likely to be the Plucky Comic Relief because of how much of a goofball they are. Maybe he's one of Those Two Guys or the crazy member of the Comic Trio. They lapse into non sequitur a lot, and while they aren't totally insane, they act it much more than some other crazier characters. They also talk like they're nuts as well by a speech pattern.
One mark of a Cloudcuckoolander is when, 90% of the time, you think the character is just plain nuts, but 10% of the time, you suspect that the character is in fact the Only Sane Man on the show. In other words, a Cloudcuckoolander has massive knowledge and understanding of the workings of the universe, but a poor way of communicating that to everyone else. Unfortunately, when they are smart, nobody else is, and when they are not, everybody else is. In any event, they can be oddly endearing.
They often come off as naïve, innocent and Sarcasm-Blind, so when they suddenly come up with snarky quips and witticisms, it may be one of the first indications that they are much more insightful than they seem (or even deliberately pretend) to be.
Another notable mark is that often there is nothing actually wrong with what they do, but it is most assuredly not something a normal person would do. Sit down with a Cloudcuckoolander and try to explain to them that normal people don't wear the clothes of a dead man. They will never understand what your problem is. It's not like the dead guy cares, is it? Likewise, they would fail to understand the reason for wearing shoes in a public place (it's warm and cozy, so why not go barefoot?) or using the pronoun "I" when referring to yourself (you use other people's names when speaking about them, so why not use your own name when you speak about yourself?)
Though they may overlap or go hand and hand with The Ditz, The Fool, or the Kindhearted Simpleton, a Cloudcuckoolander, by definition, isn't necessarily stupid. Some Cloudcuckoolanders can be highly intelligent, very insightful or even geniuses, it's just the things they sometimes say and do may come off as weird, awkward, clumsy, over-the-top, buffoonish, illogical and questionable, outright eccentric, goofy, etc. And because imagination often runs wild, they tend to be Easily Impressed.
This character is a mainstay of Surreal Humor, Dada Comics, Widget Series, and Word-Salad Humor. Even in a series with a little more structure overall, the Cloudcuckoolander's wacky and bizarre antics will often be used for an easy gag, particularly when paired with a straight foil to drive insane. This is probably why there are so many Web Comics examples. Often this character will also be a Granola Girl or New-Age Retro Hippie.
When their weirdness delves into a disturbing territory, they have taken a job as a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant.
On rare occasions, a Cloudcuckoolander may become Bored with Insanity and become more normal. If this happens, sometimes it sticks, and sometimes a "we want our Cloudcuckoolander back" movement, subsequently getting bored with sanity too, or some other means of inducing insanity will make them a Cloudcuckoolander again (since, after all, Status Quo Is God).
Their native land is Cloudcuckooland.
If a Cloudcuckoolander is dangerous, then that is the answer to Beware the Silly Ones and/or Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass. If they fight for a random rather than heroic reason, see Classical Antihero or Nominal Hero. Because of the humor value in doing so, they're more likely than most characters to be a Spanner in the Works that stops a seemingly unstoppable plan, leaving viewers wondering if they were aware of what they were doing. For that reason, when it's time for a show to get serious, these characters are likely to be killed or detained so the viewers know they won't be responsible for yet another Deus ex Machina.
The name of the trope comes from the city built on air above the Greek plain in Aristophanes' play The Birds, 414 B.C., whose ruler had quite a large mental gap between the dreamy, wide-eyed, idealistic Utopia that he imagined his city to be and the brutal totalitarian regime that he had actually imposed on it. He also came up with brilliant ideas like keeping people out of his city a city you could only reach through the flight by building a really, really tall wall around it. (We'll give you a minute to figure out why that wouldn't have worked so well.)note
For various variants and overlapping tropes see:
- Ambiguous Disorder: When the character obviously isn't just flighty but has a legitimate but undefined problem.
- Ax-Crazy: Insane and violent.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Eccentric, but has legitimate talents that make them worth the trouble.
- Chaotic Stupid: Being eccentric when resulting from impulsive behavior or being utterly loony.
- Cloudcuckoolanguage: Eccentricity manifesting itself in speech mannerisms, such as strange Verbal Tics, referring to oneself in the third person, making up nonexistent words, etc.
- Cuckoosnarker: When this trope meets the Deadpan Snarker.
- The Fool: Not too bright, but good enough of heart that luck's always on their side.
- Loon with a Heart of Gold: A quirky character who is much kinder than "normal" people.
- The Loonie: An eccentric character who is Fun Personified.
- The Mad Hatter: Aware that they are insane and proud of it.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: "Wacky" love interest to a "normal" person.
- Oddball Doppelgänger: Quirky character strongly resembling one of the "normal" ones.
- The Ophelia: Insane young woman, likely traumatized into her madness.
- Rambling Old Man Monologue: Senile rather than just crazy.
- Straight Man and Wise Guy: When a Cloudcuckoolander is paired with the Straight Man.
- The Wonka: Authority figure whose eccentricity is the catalyst for their success.
See also Cloudcuckoolander's Minder for the person who with or against their will often accompanies the Cloudcuckoolander(s) and tries to prevent things from getting out of hand. This is usually an impossible task. See also Cuckoolander Commentator, when the Cloudcuckoolander is put in charge of commentary for an event. Also, if Only One Finds It Fun, expect the one to be a Cloudcuckoolander.
Lastly, when dealing with Cloudcuckoolanders, always remember that sometimes their ramblings aren't just ramblings. That's The Cuckoolander Was Right.
No Real Life Examples, Please!. There are several mental conditions that can result in this type of behavior but as mental illness is Serious Business in real life, providing examples would just be insensitive at best.
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- The Englishman Mister "Pief" (Peeve?) from a story by Wilhelm Busch who walks around while always looking through a telescope.
- Dreamkix features DeSanctis, a chicken who's the team's second striker with a bad short term memory problem. Thus, he's prone to forgetting his teammates, forgetting that he's part of a team, staring into space, and getting into arguments with his own reflection.
- Exit Tunes Presents ACTORS has Itto Takatenjin, the swim club's only first-year member - no one really knows if his love for swimming is directly proportional to his skill yet, but what they do know is that he tends to get distracted by flying butterflies, and will chase after them more often than not.
- Steven Wright, whose deadpan delivery belies his spacey behavior and storytelling.
- Mitch Hedberg: Think Steven Wright but actually really laid back.
- Emo Phillips, known for his high-pitched voice, oddly dark humor and bizarre sense of fashion and physicality.
- Ellen DeGeneres, queen of the non-sequitur.
- Bill Bailey.
"I [asked for a Kinder Surprise in third person] the other day and it answered me back, and he said to me: "No, I am Bill Bailey. You are not Bill Bailey, you are just a mere doppelgänger. I am the true Bill Bailey, in Another Dimension." And I went, "Oh, I hadn't planned on that." Then I thought the only way to solve this, I have to run at my doppelgänger, then we will be fused forever. So I ran full-tilt at it, and just before I got there I realised it was the highly polished side of the cheese counter."
- Noel Fielding His hat's made out of skin! his paper is made out of skin! everything is made out of skin! So I got freaked out and ran home, and it took me an hour, and when I got there some bracken had put my window through
- Demitri Martin
"I have less focus than squirrels!"
- Milton Jones
(The answer is "15") "Is it... how many magic biscuits are there in the magic biscuit tree?"
- Then Dara O'Briain (the show's host) corrects him by telling him that there are in fact 19 magic biscuits on the magic biscuit tree.
- Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Especially Vic Reeves. Notoriously difficult to interview since they hardly ever give a straight answer to any question put to them, instead usually saying something surreal or non sequitur.
- "My World" by Avril Lavigne is about her living in her own world.
Can't help if I space in a daze
My eyes tune out the other way
I may switch off and go in a daydream
- Emilie Autumn's "How Strange" says, "I'm not living in an ordinary world."
- "Imaginary" by Evanescence is a rather depressive version. The narrator builds her own world in her head, her "sleeping refuge," to escape the horror of reality.
In my field of paper flowers
And candy clouds of lullaby (paper flowers)
I lie inside myself for hours
And watch my purple sky fly over me (paper flowers)
- "Prezes" by Grupa Operacyjna has the titular character who tends to very weird things, like selling one dollar at a bureau de change or messaging the police with his pizza order.
- Two of Gym Class Heroes' albums, The Papercut Chronicles and The Papercut Chronicles II, have a... rather strange electronic voice doing opening and closing narrations, which mostly consist of it rambling monotonously about whatever seems to cross its mind, much of which doesn't make any sense.
Hey, have you ever wondered if a seahorse could win in a game of backgammon against an invisible wizard. I think the invisible wizard would win because the seahorse does not have hands. Hey, have you ever seen an invisible wizard. Probably not. Because it's invisible. Hey, remember that time when we were on that spaceship and there were talking dinosaurs and then one of the dinosaurs said, I cannot talk, and I said, You just did, and the dinosaur didn't say anything else because he couldn't talk. Hey, are you listening to me. Remember that stick of broccoli that used to play the banjo at the annual platypus convention. He owes me money. Hey, I'm cool. Hey, goodnight.
- "Sharada" by Skye Sweetnam is about a girl who acts out-of-the-norm and constantly has her head in the clouds:
And when they'd told her she's delirious
She didn't care
She's just oblivious
She likes to make everyone curious
One day she's gonna be famous
- Vocaloid: Many of the voicebanks have characters attached to them. However most of the time they have no canon personality at all. Yet, looking at Nico Nico Concerts, it seems this trope is often given to Gakupo. He's often seen appearing at random moments on stage, portraying questionable behavior, such as putting on weird costumes (alternatively: wearing no clothes at all), forgetting the dance routine, or trying to hug one of the girls mid-concert. He's also the most likely one to break the fourth wall, if it were to happen at all. The fact that for the longest time this guy was best known for his troll songs, didn't help in bettering his image. Hell, to this day his best known songs is arguably Dancing Samurai. It is hard to describe what's going on in that video clip, but it includes horse masks, naked people, SM whips and kiddie pools, so believe me when I tell you it's weird.
- The Bible: John 8:1-11 has an interesting story about when Jesus saved a women from being stoned to death. When a group of pharisees along with a crowd of people brought an adulteress to Jesus, telling him the woman should be stoned for committing the sin of adultery and demanded Jesus answer on what they should do to her, he responded by drawing a line in the sand. Confused, the pharisees demanded an answer for Jesus's response, which he responded by saying that anyone who had never sinned could step up to the line in the sand, and begin stoning the woman to death. The pharisees realized Jesus had caught them in their own trap which was designed to discredit Jesus. If he had allowed the crowd to stone the woman, it would look like Jesus had ordered the woman's death, and thus make him look like a villain to his followers. But if he refused, he would deny Jewish law, thus inciting the wrath of the Jewish people nearby. However, by giving Jesus the power to decide the woman's fate, they allowed him to add his own conditions to the case, thus exposing a loophole the pharisees unwittingly gave him. Now anyone who tried to stone the woman would be declaring themselves sinless, which was also against Jewish law, causing the mob to disperse in humiliation and sparing the life of the woman. The story is treated by Christians and non-Christians alike to this day as one of the oldest written cases of Take a Third Option, and thus a subversion of this trope, something which would end up being a defining feature of Jesus's life when dealing with the pharisees who plotted his downfall time and time again.
- This trope dates back as far as Brother Juniper, a 13th-century friar and one of Saint Francis of Assisi's companions. According to legend, Brother Juniper was once caring for a sick man and learned that the sick man had a craving for pig's feet. So Brother Juniper found a herd of pigs, cut a foot off of one of them, and carried it back to the sick man. When the pigs' owner confronted Brother Juniper about the incident, the friar couldn't understand why anyone would object to such a charitable act. He patiently explained his reason for cutting off the pig's foot, although this only seemed to make the pig owner angrier. Finally, he hugged the pig owner, who had a change of heart and donated all his pigs to the friars. Upon receiving the donation, St. Francis praised Brother Juniper, saying, "Would to God, my brethren, that I had a forest of such Junipers!"
- Zen calls for its followers to be this. "What is Buddha?" "Three pounds of flax."
- Roc from the Firefly game of Cool Kids Table is a little odd, such as when he spends most of his time changing his wardrobe to different ridiculous outfits, hanging his hat on the head of one of Todd's mercenaries to keep it out of the way, and wearing two pairs of sunglasses at once.
- Sid from Sequinox has a habit of going off on strange and often creepy tangents, and jumping to precisely the wrong conclusion when presented with any situation. She did roll in dirt and fake blood for her werewolf halloween costume, and demanded to hide in a doghouse to transform despite the team already being hidden from public eye.
- Dusty Rhodes had this reputation among other wrestlers and figures in the business in general. When a horrified Jim Cornette learned that Dusty was going to be booking him in matches in spite of Cornette's minimal training, Jimmy Hart told him to just "roll around" and he'd be good.
- The Ultimate Warrior. He was noted for rambling, incoherent speeches involving tortured metaphors, delivered at earsplitting volumes, often involving claiming to be from outer space or to be carrying the hopes of fallen warriors or things like that. He had a four-issue comic book published that...it seems to be about him trying to become the Platonic ideal of a warrior, or something, but its paragraph upon paragraph of rambling pseudo-philosophical nonsense earned it three episodes of The Spoony Experiment/Atop the Fourth Wall crossover and many other takedowns across the internet. He also invented the word "destrucity". It is to this day unclear how much of this was acting and how much of it was James Hellwig getting caught in-character.
NORMAL PEOPLE! THE PEOPLE THAT WALK THE STREETS EVERY DAY! WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND THEM!
- WWE wrestler Al Snow became most famous as a Cloudcuckoolander who has "HELP ME!" inexplicably written backwards across his head and gets advice from a mannequin head (appropriately named "Head"). One particularly memorable storyline had him thinking that Head betrayed him and stole the Hardcore Championship from him, so he started using Pierre, a taxidermied deer head, to substitute for Head. Another had Al winning the European Championship, and deciding that, in order to better represent "the citizens of Europea", he would dress in the traditional garb (and come out to the national anthem of) a different country each week (including, inexplicably, a '50s style greaser outfit for Greece). And then there was his tag team with Steve Blackman, WWE's resident comically serious martial-arts tough guy, in which he insisted that Blackman wear a hat shaped like a wedge of cheese so they could call themselves "Head Cheese", and that they make their entrance surrounded by midgets holding sparklers... and his infamous hardcore match with himself... yeah, Al Snow was one weird dude.
- The explicability is obvious! Where else would greasers come from?
- Jeff Hardy, full stop. Doubly so because it's not just his TV character. His TV character is in fact considerably more normal than he is in real life. His closest friends claim that one of his favorite activities outside of wrestling is "digging holes and filling them back in." His sculpting material of choice is aluminum foil. Also, there's his alter-ego Itchweeed. Sadly, much of this seems to stem from his personal habits
- Chavo Guerrero Jr.'s head was anchored in the clouds during his WCW run, as a result of him snapping under "uncle Eddie's" care. Be very quiet, he's now hunting Eddies.
- Haaghiuaheydtrihaoivuhyarwehtoiuhadvhaiherr—Delirious. Other wrestlers might strip off clothing when they get fired up. Delirious might constanly strip and redress himself as much as allowed. Some wrestlers may eat food on the way to the ring. Delirious will eat any food left around the ring, and try to eat some things that aren't food at all. He has a pre match ritual of sitting on the lower turn buckle and then running and rolling in random directions flailing about when the bell rings. Then it was amplified in CHIKARA, who decided to pair him up with Hallowicked and Frightmare, a team which would be dubbed "Incoherence", as no one could understand or predict them. Even so, you could at least pull words out of what Delirious said, but then, Wicked is an undead pumpkin demon and Frightmare was supposed to be a creation of Wicked's mind, meaning neither guy is technically human.
- The Great Sasuke, Ninja with no concept of stealth or pain, who is your savior of the sun of nothingness and a regular at Michinoku Pro Wrestling.
- Brian Kendrick's move to TNA gave him a gimmick that seems to be the Karate Kid on acid. His tag team partner Paul London has always been seemingly spaced out on acid (but is actually straight edge, imagine that).
- Raven. Genius-level IQ + years of hardcore wrestling and drug use = very odd, hyper personality. Just watch his vlogs.
- While Goldust's Gorgeous George tendencies are apparently just mind games, the fact that he's so into criticizing movies that he dresses like a giant academy award cements him in this territory. Oh, and then he became the Artist formerly known as Goldust and interrupted Monday Night Raw to read children's poetry...His younger brother Stardust would go on to outdo Goldust in confusing behavior, speaking of Cosmic Keys and bloodsport on the stars of Orion. He's so loopy that Goldust himself is utterly baffled by him at times.
- Ace Steel, Colt Cabana and Lucy, or to put it in other words, all the Second City Saints, excepting CM Punk and Traci Brooks, and even Miss Brooks had her moments. Oh, and Lucy was worse before getting with Punk, believing herself to be Satan or some equivalent there of.
- LuFisto, is not a merely a woman who responds to voices no one else can hear but an anime. An anime about a cute woman in a cute skirt who plays with fire, glass, thumbtacks, barbed wire and folding chairs.
- Jon Moxley, thinks he is a lot bigger and stronger than he really is, but this (mostly) is not because of an inflated ego, dude is just not there. Oh you can see him and he's looking back at you but he's not. He rarely talks sense on anything that isn't hitting someone else and often not even then.
- R-Truth following his heel turn in 2011. He turned face a few months later, but still maintain this trait.
- Big E Langston demanding the referee to count to five instead of three and having an entrance that involves making a big cloud of chalk might not seem too odd for a professional wrestler. But then he does stuff like run off people interviewing Dolph Ziggler so he can play the backstage announcer roll himself, making you realize how eccentric Langston really is.
- Then there is AJ Lee, who started off pretty inline with everyone else actually. But then she was driven mad by the psychological abuse of Daniel Bryan and became the happy, skipping shrieking, seemingly bipolar monster he could no longer control. Even the aforementioned Big E Langston tends to just stand silently in the face of antics.
- As of 2013, the The Wyatt Family, especially Bray Wyatt, is like this. We all know Bray has some kind of agenda, but exactly what it is and if it has remained constant are questions yet to be answered, despite Bray's many attempts to.
- Tenille Tayla has always been a little eccentric but it has yet to be revealed what happened in Florida to turn her into the bubble headed dancer we call Emma.
- George "The Animal" Steele, oh yeah. Once at the start of a match with Kamala, commentator Gorilla Monsoon said, "I don't know what goes on in the head of George 'The Animal' Steele, but, then again, neither does George." Gorilla would usually describe someone who qualified for this as "doesn't have both oars in the water."
- Archibald Peck. During his match with UltraMantis Black at CHIKARA Small But Mighty, October 7, 2011, Leonard F. Chikarason said, "I don't want to cover Archibald Peck's psychiatrist bills. There's a lot going on there."
- ECW's John Kronus. Once during an Eliminators-The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa)-The Dudley Boys brawl, an umbrella turned up among the weapons and Kronus ran around with it open over his head. Indoors.
JOEY STYLES: "Well, it's not raining in here, but, who knows what's going on inside Kronus' head."
- As The Eliminators were walking to the ring for the opening match, against ECW World Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boys, at ECW Barely Legal, April 13, 1997, Kronus turned to the camera and introduced himself to the PPV audience by randomly saying, "Ass, baby, ass! Hoo hoo!"
- British wrestler Cara Noir, whose gimmick is based on the black swan character from Swan Lake, is...a little out there. He never speaks (it appears that if he trusts someone enough he'll whisper in their ear, but that's it), wrestles barefoot and always wears his signature swan-like facepaint. He also occasionally spits raw egg into his opponent's mouth. Make of that what you will.
- "Macho Man" Randy Savage delivered promos that had some rather unusual phrases in them and often made little sense. However, this did not stop said promos from being awesome.
- Most of the Muppet characters on Sesame Street would qualify. Yes, even Straight Man Bert, who has an unusual obsession with bottle caps and paper clips. Being a Nerd doesn't mean you're sane.
- Sometime around 1988-92 was Ruby, a furry yellow monster who would often do things like wear a blindfold to see what it would be like to be blind or pretending she's a kangaroo after having her hair done up in a ponytail. She really makes Big Bird look sane.
- Most of The Muppet Show cast would qualify, but Gonzo is the Poster Boy for this trope. Very much so. The word "Muppet", as used in Ireland, means what "Cloudcuckoolander" does here. It can be used as an insult, or a term of endearment, or both at once.
- The entire cast of the highly surreal Norwegian puppet show ReparatÃ¸rene Kommer (The Repairmen are Coming), later renamed Pompel & Pilt after the two main characters. If Cloud Cuckooland is an actual land, this show takes place in it. Pompel & Pilt is Norwegian television's most beloved terrifying children's series.
- The Goon Show has several, perhaps the entire cast at times.
- Eccles is the most obvious through:
Eccles: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up, Eccles!! Shut up, Eccles!! Oh, that's me!
- The SCRIPT. Characters like Grytpype Thynne and Moriarty exemplify the latter. Other Goons such as Bluebottle are more like a Chew Toy.
- Ned Seagoon and Henery Crun are full-bore Cloudcuckoolanders too. Bluebottle and Minnie Bannister aren't quite full Cloudcuckoolanders, but are fairly close (and don't try to say Bluebottle is sane, he was found at one point singing a map.) He also pronounces all his stage directions (All of them. Including "Thinks." And "Unthinks.")
- Eccles is the most obvious through:
- Private-Eye Harlow Doyle from Adventures in Odyssey. If anything, he's worse than his spiritual predecessor, the bumbling Officer David Harley, who hadn't gone over well.
- As a member of the main cast, Wooton Bassett seems to be required to spend a little more time on Earth, but he still has his moments. Oh, does he have his moments.
- Mister Phillips in The Navy Lark, his navigation manual is "Sinbad the Sailor's Big Book of the Sea''.
- Tenor Boy Dennis Day on The Jack Benny Program.
Jack: Dennis, I didn't know you had relatives in New York.
Dennis: No, my family lives in Jersey. I had to drive under the Hudson River to visit them, and gee was it damp! Boy, did I get wet!
Jack: Was there a leak in the tunnel?
Dennis: Ohhhhh, tunnel!
- Lonesome Cowboy Dave, whenever he gets free rein on the Church of the SubGenius Hour Of Slack. His influence tends to rub off on Wei R. Doe.
- Foxbat from the Champions setting is completely convinced that he is a great, powerful comic book supervillain.
- Some of the Malkavians from Vampire: The Masquerade can get this way. They tend to be really scary at the same time if they're played well. Others just end up as "fishmalks".
- House Criamon of Ars Magica. They view the physical world as a series of metaphors and symbols and spend their entire lives trying to interpret everything around them the way literary scholars interpret novels, so getting a Criamon to express her thoughts on anything is a little bit like communicating across a language barrier via Babelfish translations.
- Magic: The Gathering: the Ravnica block gives us the Izzet. Red/blue, it turns out, isn't quite right in the head, considering their hobbies include routing magic through the heads of goblins with an interesting variety of psychological conditions. (The goblins, that is, not the magic. Until the magic has gone through the goblin, that is.)
- The Mystara D&D setting is home to the d'Ambreville family of wizards, who seem susceptible to an hereditary strain of this trope. As any d'Ambreville who isn't a Cloudcuckoolander is usually a freakin' trigger-happy psycho, siding with the loony ones is usually the best bet.
- Jenna "Nobilis" Moran's forum persona, and her narrator voice within Nobilis third edition.
"It is quite all right. I have received harsher criticism from my dearest friends and on one memorable occasion from my breakfast cereal."
- Warhammer 40,000: Orks psykers, "Madboyz", live apart from the rest of Ork society, can be easily identified by the assortment of knick-knacks they carry around, and sometimes can be heard to mutter odd nonsense like "rolls" and "the metagame". Unpredictable even by Ork standards, Madboyz may do anything from stand around and pick their noses while under heavy fire, to foiling a night ambush with a sudden shouting contest, to tearing enemies limb from limb with their bare hands.
- Rosencrantz from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is an excellent example, though he's also more canny than he lets on. Probably. (Guildenstern also has his moments.)
- For that matter, Hamlet himself is frequently considered to only be pretending at insanity; that he is "not in madness/ but mad in craft", i.e. not insane, but angry.
- Harper the Valium-addicted Mormon housewife from Angels in America, who has various interesting hallucinations, several of which include her imaginary travel agent, Mr. Lies.
- Quite a few of William Shakespeare's characters qualify.
- Launce from Two Gentlemen of Verona takes this Up to Eleven. He describes his departure from home thus:
I think Crab, my dog, be the sourest-natured dog that lives. My mother weeping, my father wailing, my sister crying, our maid howling, our cat wringing her hands, and all our house in a great perplexity, yet did not this cruel-hearted cur shed one tear. He is a stone, a very pebble stone, and has no more pity in him than a dog...Nay, I'll show you the manner of it. This shoe is my father. No, this left shoe is my father. No, no, this left shoe is my mother. Nay, that cannot be so neither. Yes, it is so, it is so—it hath the worser sole. This shoe with the hole in it is my mother, and this my father. A vengeance on't! There 'tis. Now, sir, this staff is my sister, for, look you, she is as white as a lily and as small as a wand. This hat is Nan, our maid. I am the dog. No, the dog is himself, and I am the dog—O, the dog is me, and I am myself. Ay, so, so.
- And that's just his opening monologue. The rest of the play reveals him to be an excessively melancholy Pungeon Master who regards his dog as a human being.
- Launcelot Gobbo, while a less severe case, nonetheless thinks it's perfectly acceptable to argue with his conscience and "the fiend" out loud and run around in the middle of the night pretending to be going hunting. Some productions have played him as a stoner or a schizophrenic to explain his behavior.
- Nick Bottom starts out by expressing his desire to play all the characters in the same play. Later, when fairies show up out of nowhere and begin waiting on him, he hardly seems surprised.
- Hamlet can resemble this, for instance in the dialogue where he conflates Polonius with a 'fishmonger' and discusses the sun breeding maggots in a dead dog. The other characters certainly take him for something very much like this. The jury is still out on whether he was feigning madness, was mad, or was merely speaking on a level too subtle for the other characters to understand. Nonetheless, most other characters find him difficult to relate to.
- Launce from Two Gentlemen of Verona takes this Up to Eleven. He describes his departure from home thus:
- Much of Blue Man Group's unique comedy revolves around the fact that the Blue Men are apparently not of this world, and frequently express amazement and surprise over such things as cell phones, watches, and eating Twinkies with utensils.
- Pokémon: The Mew-sical has Professor Oak and Giovanni. Oak asks everyone if they're a boy or a girl, thinks he's a Pokemon, and overall is both excitable and not very smart. Giovanni is more competent, but he's in denial about his Pikachu's death from when he was a child and is convinced Ash's Pikachu is his, to the point of dancing in joy when they're "re"united.
- Most of the spellers in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee have their moments, but Leaf and Olive are the most obvious examples.
- Olive's parents haven't made it to the Bee, so she gets a song about it, where she pretends her parents are there in the "I Love You Song". Lampshaded and made even better/worse when the word she's spelling is defined as "removed from reality".
- Leaf, meanwhile, goes into a trance every time he spells a word, and during his "I Am" Song he goes hilariously off-topic and forgets the word.
Leaf: How could a flea such as me think he'd be good at spelling?/How?/I don't know
Leaf: I like my hair!/Really, it is pleasant to the touch!/I toss my hair a bit too much/It doesn't move, it simply sits/I make a part, I'm not that smart
Leaf: [several bars of nonsense syllables to the melody, ending with an impossibly low note]
Leaf: [beat] I forgot the word
Leaf: Oh yeah, the rodent resembling the other rodent, what was it [goes into a trance] A-C-O-U-C-H-I! [beat] acouchi.
- Ruddigore has Mad Margaret, who in the first act is a pitiable madwoman whose madness is implied to stem from lost love.
- BIONICLE has Vezon, who became this since the serials due to Flanderization. In the Voya Nui saga, he is introduced as a dangerous co-Big Bad, being a disturbing and genuine threat to both the Toa Inika and the Piraka. With his rise in popularity, his insane quirks were brought to the forefront and completely took over whatever other character traits he had. As a result, he not only ended up being completely unthreatening, but is also widely regarded in-universe as the absolute worst Scrappy. Being so insane and obnoxious, its no wonder why even the sole mention of his name makes everybody want to kill him.