This is one of the classic motivations for Science Is Bad stories. The researcher will seek forbidden knowledge for its own sake rather than to better the world, and with no thought of the consequences. Usually simple curiosity, coupled with ambition, will evolve into hubris before long, as caution and restraint are thrown out the steel-barred window.
When a scientist says he does something For Science!, what this usually means is he simply doesn't care about the answers to several important questions regarding his research, like:
- Does it have any potential applications — that are not immediately lethal, full of side effects, potentially genocidal, ecocidal, omnicidal or mildly herbicidal?
- Is there any way of gaining any replicable data or results?
- Where will I get test subjects?
- Can we make sure willing subjects are informed of all the risks involved in testing my dangerous untested invention?
- Are these experiments ethical? Is Phlebotinum Rebellion likely?
- Will it rise up against humanity and/or eat me?
- How will I fund my research, and how can I make money off of it? (What? These are legitimate questions!)
Usually, this nonchalance leads to Reed Richards Is Useless as they file away their inventions under "Forgotten Phlebotinum" rather than seek to commercialize them or expanding the body of knowledge available to humanity. And that's with normal research. Contrary to Fridge Logic, For Science rarely provides additional insight in its field; after the Nuclear Roboclone is created, most Mad Scientists lose interest in documenting how they actually did it and what else can be done with those methods. Where test subjects are concerned, at their most benign they'll only threaten to do minor experiments on friends; if they get volunteers or luckily capture one, the effects will be quirky and temporary.
These benign inventors may end up in service of the Corrupt Corporate Executive, and will be so happy to have funding they don't ask where the money comes from — or what their discoveries are being used for. Expect them to go "You promised you would use my discoveries for good!" to his "Oh, but I am!".
It can also lead to Slowly Slipping Into Evil as an inventor slips into full blown, cackling mad science as sanity and ethics are deemed "irrelevant" or hindrances to their work. Other times, the answers they come up with to the above questions will lead them to a life of supervillainy as they get research funds by robbing banks, get test subjects by kidnapping, and out-and-out make things solely for destructive purposes... or because they can.
Villains who adhere to the above principles are often very good at depicting themselves as victims and their opponents as the true villains. For starters, many will claim that they have "progress" on their side — thus evoking "progressivism" as a kind of moral imperative and implying that anyone who would dare stand in their way is an arrogant, bigoted, barbaric and just plain mean knuckle-dragger who resents knowledge of any kind. The fact that scientists themselves can be pretty arrogant and brutal on occasion never occurs to such villains — or if it does, they don't care.
There is some truth to this — many scientists and especially mathematicians do what they do for the fun of it rather than more practical concerns — but that's little different from the rest of academia. Besides, basic research done to expand human knowledge without regard for practical applications is the sort of science that produces groundbreaking insights. Darwin studied evolution to understand life better, not because he wanted to advance the art of animal husbandry.
Remember, Science Is Bad, but... but... Just Think of the Potential!! Compare and contrast For Art! and For Cuisine!. I'll show them! I'll show them all! They'll see they were wrong to laugh at me! Battle Cry for the Mad Scientist, the Hollywood Atheist, the Morally Ambiguous Doctorate, Gadgeteer Genius and Science Hero.
- In Attack on Titan, there is Hange Zoe, whose life philosophy is pursuit of knowledge, and she gets pretty excitable when the opportunity presents itself to learn something.
- How much does Huey Laforet love this trope? So much so that he not only considers his own daughters (as well as everyone in the world sans Elmer) guinea pigs, he's also sired them purely For Science.
- We also have Fermet, who "tested the extent of their immortality" by stabbing hot fire pokers into Chez's eye sockets, throwing him into a fire, bathing him in acid, etc, etc. For about 100 years. For science. Or so he claims. After Czeslaw kills him and absorbs his memories he states it was just a justification for him to indulge his sadism. And he should know.
- Szilard is another example. His entire feud with Maiza is because he wouldn't share the secret of immortality. His plotline in 1930s revolves around completing the Grand Panacea. He regularly eats other immortals to acquire their knowledge, and has been known to grant partial immortality to people specifically so he could eat them, too.
- Bleach's Mayuri Kurotsuchi and Szayel Aporro Granz. Kurotsuchi despises Szayel, appropriately enough, because Szayel claims to be perfect — and to Kurotsuchi, the idea of perfection is impossibly unscientific. Because if there really were such a thing as perfection and it was achieved, that would be the end of science: there'd be no room for further improvements to be researched.
- In A Certain Magical Index, this trope seems to be the driving force of most of Academy City's scientists, doing crazy, incredibly dangerous and downright evil experiments just to make a Level 6 Esper. And according to Therestina Kihara Lifeline, this is the entire purpose of Academy City.
- That is quite an under-exaggeration: Every single member of the HUGE Kihara Family believes in this idea. Kihara Gensei, Therestina's grandfather, goes as far as saying that he would be fine with turning Mikoto Misaka (the #3 level 5) into a level 6 for a few seconds even if it would end up blowing up all of Academy City including himself right afterwards because he would have achieved scientific progress, which outweighs everyone else's deaths.
- In Claymore, Dae seems to exist solely to be overjoyed at seeing one of his project going horribly wrong or horribly right. He doesn't care about the war in their home continent. He also totally forgot about the revived Number Ones' loyalties when he was bringing them back. His goal all along was to have them Awaken so he could find the source of the arm he used to power them up.
- Lloyd in Code Geass, so much. When he gets the chance, he even asks "I wonder if you'd let me analyze that Geass... for science, of course." Turns out he uses the "For Science!" mentality to avoid the emotional stress of losing friends, and in a later episode what he says to Nina implies that it's also so that he won't feel the responsibility for making weapons that kill a lot of people.
- Rakshata has this mentality as well, and the series doesn't pretend she's different from Lloyd in this respect, even when she's making the weapons for La Résistance and not The Empire. The series is also a believer in the positive potential applications of their work, making it almost a deconstruction of this sort of fear of science.
- Darker Than Black features the whimsical Dr. Schrader, who works for The Syndicate because of the opportunities it gives him to research. At their bequest, he creates a device which will wipe out all Contractors and Dolls, even though he has no real grudge against them. If said device didn't work as planned, it's quite plausible it would have killed everyone on earth, but Schraeder still tries to start it up, even with No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup. When the protagonist manages to prevent the genocide by destroying the machine, far from being angry, Dr. Schrader is impressed as it gives him something new to study.
- Laios of Delicious in Dungeon, as a lot of his decisions about monster cuisine seem to boil down to "let's find out if this is edible".
- Dragon Ball Super: Bulma falls into this after the Future Trunks Saga. Despite the gigantic mess Time Travel caused, and Beerus specifically telling her that it's strictly forbidden, she builds a new Time Machine simply because she knows it exists and wants to try it out herself. Beerus catches her in the act and, quite generously, destroys only the machine, the raw materials she had gathered to build it, and the notes she used, while sparing her.
- Franken Fran is dedicated to preserving life and cultivating love, and if those are absent, she'll do it For Science! Even when taking a case for the two former reasons, it'll still be a case study in Weird Science.
- A number of people in Fullmetal Alchemist use this as justification for their evil deeds. The most notable, however, is Shou Tucker who transmutes his wife, daughter, and her dog into monstrous chimeras for research grants and doesn't even understand that this is wrong.
- One scientist that Ed and Al fight in a flashback in the Conqueror of Shamballa movie attempts human transmutation as a last resort to create an army of undead soldiers to fight for him, believing that the ban on human transmutation is just a silly taboo standing in the way of scientific progress. Of course, he quickly realizes that there's a damn good reason it's outlawed.
- In Gyo, there's no obvious reason why Tadashi's uncle would want to "improve" on the design of the Death Stench legs by making a shiny new set for Kaori, or the aerial monstrosity that he's attached to later. It seems like he just wants to see what happens.
- Doc from Hellsing explicitly states in the final volume that his whole motive was to push the boundaries of science. In the name of science, he created ghouls, Nazi vampires, cyborgs, weapons, a catboy with a tenuous grasp on causality, and assisted in the near total destruction of London.
- Surprisingly averted in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Once the Nazis discover the Pillar Men, you'd expect them to try and figure out how to harness their power for their own use, only for it to blow up in their faces. Instead, they realize that the Pillar Men are far beyond their control and start experimenting on them to figure out a way to kill them... only for it to blow up in their faces anyway.
- Durstan, Stan Lee's Author Avatar in the manga Karakuridouji Ultimo, created two highly-destructive robotic embodiments of good and evil, with weaponry capable of annihilating cities if not nations, all because he was curious which force was stronger. To further salt the wound, he admits that their fights could last indefinitely and ultimately end the world.
- Dr. Jail Scaglietti from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, who has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge related to Lost Technology, which was imbued into him by his creators so he can be their pet Mad Scientist. This didn't work out too well for his creators seeing as he killed them.
- The world of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED was sent straight to Hell by scientists (and humanity in general) abandoning all moral and ethical guidelines in the pursuit of progress. They eventually succeed in the giving rise to the Coordinator race, only to later regret it all and try to undo their work by preaching the necessity of killing off the Coordinators to their fellow "Naturals". The Coordinators, for their part, instead view themselves as the pinnacle of humankind and believe that the Naturals have been left behind, destined to do nothing but be a burden to progress. Both sides then take it a step further by committing inhumane experiments or perpetuating draconian social policies in the name of progressing their race beyond the other. This eventually leads to the Bloody Valentine incident and the start of both subsequent wars, which will cost billions of lives.
- The man who exemplifies this in story, not as a perpetrator but as a victim, is Rau Le Creuset. The product of an experiment that made hundreds of clones for research money, before eventually killing them off because they were flawed, he manages to survive by killing off the man who bankrolled the whole thing before casting him out, Al Da Flaga. Because he's a clone, he's dying by age twenty eight and is in constant pain, while at the same time, humanity is ripping itself apart to undo the very scientific advancement that it once worshiped almost religiously.
Rau Le Creuset: They thirsted for knowledge. They sought to fulfill their desires. And ultimately, they forgot why they were doing it. Even as they proclaimed their reverence for human life, they began toying with it. And then they began destroying it!
- The man who exemplifies this in story, not as a perpetrator but as a victim, is Rau Le Creuset. The product of an experiment that made hundreds of clones for research money, before eventually killing them off because they were flawed, he manages to survive by killing off the man who bankrolled the whole thing before casting him out, Al Da Flaga. Because he's a clone, he's dying by age twenty eight and is in constant pain, while at the same time, humanity is ripping itself apart to undo the very scientific advancement that it once worshiped almost religiously.
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi's resident Mad Scientist Satomi Hakase, in order to discover the secret behind robot love at the expense of her very-much-in-love creation Chachamaru, tried to hack the Robot Girl's memories to find out exactly who she was in love with. This resulted in a Tears from a Stone moment for the ridiculously human robot and a Rocket Punch for her creator.
- Werner Locksmith in Planetes, who named his ship the von Braun (after his namesake) stands as a rare realistic, serious study of this trope. Science is Love + Love is Pain = reader bawls.
"It's okay, I won't be replaced even if I blow up one or two research facilities. Do you know why? Because I am a man of exceptional talent who can only love spaceships."
- In Reborn! (2004), Verde not only willingly electrocutes a 5-year old (albeit a very annoying, electricity-proof one), but attempts to kill a 15 year old mafia boss, and numerous other things that make him kind of an antagonistic jerkass, all in the name of science.
- Dantalion from Shakugan no Shana is a typical Mad Scientist who doesn't care if any of his experiments succeed or fail or even destroy existence (likely a fail), so long as something interesting happens. Generally disliked by his fellow Denizins for his reckless and unpredictable experiments, some on his own kind, some resulting in powerful artifacts turned against them and Flame Haze. But he's such a fun character...
Domino: What's going to happen now professor?
Dantalion: I don't know! That's why we do these experiments!
- Soul Eater:
- Doctor Stein has the battle cry of "I am going to dissect you!" before he starts to fight. It's not just based for his fights alone, though he has said it to Crona and Medusa, and in the anime, Marie, he has also dissected his best friend repeatedly for years without him noticing, and wants to dissect the boss's son. He also dissected an endangered bird in his homeroom class. For his own amusement. All of this seems to have even caused a Running Gag amongst the fans. "For Science!" for Stein isn't a motivation so much as it is a cover. Flashbacks to his childhood reveal that he's actually more of a latent serial killer who has channeled his compulsion to dissect things towards positive ends.
- Arachne's creation of the Demon Weapons suggests this. We're not given an explanation why she put Eibon's work into practice, only that she did so. If Medusa does have a masterplan to deal with the Kishin, her enjoyment of her methods — and justification to Stein — rather suggests she is in part doing stuff for the scientific hell of it.
- Washu from Tenchi Muyo! does a lot of less-than-wise things in the pursuit of scientific advancement. Universe Washu may be the most infamous, where she invents (and is implied to have tested) dimension-oscillating bullets, an ozone destroyer cannon and a space/time converting tachyon ray — and is then baffled where the fact she did this is considered grounds to imprison her in a stasis capsule and exile her to a backwater part of the universe, then after being pardoned, she goes on to invent a cannon capable of destroying galaxies! — but even OVA Washu has done this from time to time.
- In The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius, Barry performs countless experiments just to occupy his mind. Turns out never being able to stop thinking has its downsides. He'd go crazy if he didn't do something intellectually challenging and stimulating with his time. The poor kid can't even get a good night's sleep. During the rant in which he admits this, he claims that he'd gladly give up his genius if it meant he could have a normal life.
- Ant-Man: Hank Pym's motivation for being a scientist is this. Since he was a child, scientific work was the way he expressed his creativity and imagination. He's basically an artist that expresses himself through science.
- Batman: Occasionally the Scarecrow is portrayed as using his Fear Toxin on people for science. Other times, it is part of his backstory — he began by studying how fear works simply for science, but eventually becomes so obsessed with it that he crosses over into Mad Scientist territory.
- In Combat Kelly and his Deadly Dozen, Dr. Max Sweikert is a deluded genius who brushes aside conscience and morality for the sake of his own sadistic, scientific curiosity.
- In the Doctor Who Magazine comics, the Fourth Doctor encountered a guy called "The Collector," who captured people from different points in time and space to study them. He was otherwise an all-right kind of guy, though: "I know it's wrong to kidnap, but study keeps me sane."
- Doomsday was the result of this in the story Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey. An alien Mad Scientist wanted to create the Ultimate Life Form so he took an infant, shot it onto the surface of the Death World that was prehistoric Krypton, and scooped up the remains for cloning after it was eviscerated by the wildlife over and over to accelerate the evolutionary process. After 30 years of baby murder, Doomsday eventually came to be. Since they had no plan or endgame, they had no way to prepare for him remembering them killing him thousands of times and being pissed over it.
- In Heroic Age: Villains, ex-Nazi scientist Baron Wernher von Blitzschlag's "goal" is listed as "challenges". Indisputably a genius, the ancient man seeks nothing more than an endeavor that will distract him for more than a moment. Products of this desire include Ragnarok (a crazed clone of Thor) and KIA (a crazed clone of MVP).
- Innocence Lost: Dr. Sarah Kinney's entire motivation for participating in the Facility's project to clone Wolverine is originally just the challenge of actually doing it. The result? X-23. And then things go really, really badly for everyone involved. Ultimately, Sarah comes to see how wrong her part in everything was, and ends up paying for her part with her life while trying to save the girl from those who tortured and abused her.
- An issue of the Postboot Legion of Super-Heroes features a group of (faux-)suicide-bombing space scientists, the Objective Order, on a rampage against mystical forces, "For science!".
- Also in Marvel, we have A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics), the premiere hyper-science villainous organization on Earth. If they're not being paid to build something devastating and/or horrifying, they're probably working on it anyway.
"We spend so much time figuring out HOW to catch the Hulk, maybe we should have figured out whether we should catch the Hulk."
- In IDW's Transformers comics The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers and The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, Brainstorm has a bad habit of making crazy weapons, just to see if he can. It's fortunate as the devil's eyebrows that he's with the Autobots. He's spent his whole life working at various institutes for unethical scientific experiments, and spent a lot of time getting into trouble for said unethical experiments. Probably because whatever he designs is usually so outrageously insane only the imminent collapse of all space-time would possibly justify even considering their use. And then it turns out he's not with the Autobots at all.
- Ultimate Marvel:
- Advanced Idea Mechanics, led by George Tarleton, had several scientists working in inventions in a cloaked satellite. Their ultimate goal was to establish a scientific utopia. Tarleton intended to use a Gah Lak Tus module, removed from the swarm, for experimentation, in Ultimate Vision. Unfortunately, he forgot that Evil Is Not a Toy.
- Reed Richards of the Ultimate Fantastic Four was a big genius, but could only work in the things that the military was willing to fund and allowed him to. He eventually tired of it and became the Maker, a super villain bent on imposing his inventions on world no matter the cost.
- Ultimate X-Men: Abraham Cornelius seems like a good guy, but has no problems with horribly experimenting on Nightcrawler and Beast.
- In X-Men #41, there's a scientist who invents a nuclear-powered machine that both creates earthquakes and irradiates the ground. His colleagues think he's nuts for inventing such a dangerous weapon, but he assures them that it will only be used for the benefit of mankind.
- In one Dilbert comic, Dilbert invents a quantum computer capable of interacting with matter in a parallel universe to solve complex equations. Dogbert points out that according to Chaos Theory, the shifts he causes could very well destroy the other universe. Dilbert's response? "Shift happens." (And Dogbert adds "Fire it up.")
- In Better Days Omega Ruby Nuzlocke, Professor Birch has this reaction to the Half-Human Hybrid form of AJ's Treecko, walking around to examine him while firing off one question after another.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series: This is Brainstorm's reason for allowing Jack to switch with Jaqueline in "A Day in Your Shoes".
- Freeman's Mind:
- Gordon Freeman brings this up regarding the development of the atomic bomb, and how the scientists pressed on despite fears that it would "catch the atmosphere on fire and burn up the whole planet". In reality, they had already determined that this was impossible by the time they actually tested the bomb.
- The second season gives Dr. Kleiner some serious Adaptational Villainy by way of Gordon describing what it was like to work with him in the past. Apparently behind the veneer of bumbling Absent-Minded Professor is a Mad Scientist entirely lacking in morals who thinks nothing of sacrificing lives for the sake of scientific experimentation and discovery. For that matter, this also describes Gordon himself. He's practically drooling with sadistic glee when they send Alyx through the teleporter, and when it proves to be so unstable that it causes a plug to get blown out of the wall socket, it only enhances his excitement. When Alyx actually makes it out of the other side of the teleporter unharmed, Gordon is utterly indifferent and even sounds a little bit disappointed.
- Hero Chat: Dimitra Mendeleiev, the science teacher, really likes the idea of trying to study magic with dissection and scientific tools. In fact, the first time she encountered a black butterfly, this saved her from being akumatized. She was so excited at the thought of studying the thing that she effectively purified it; with her negative emotions gone, Hawkmoth gave up and the butterfly reverted to normal. Later, she does get akumatized into Kwamibuster due to her scientific obsession, but afterwards Caline Bustier convinces her to give up on that particular line of inquiry since it might lead to the reveal of the heroes' secret identities.
- In The Last Son, Dr. Mary Storm, mother of Susan and Johnny Storm, tends to regard moral issues and potential risks of dangerous technology as necessary in the face of getting humanity to develop further. Case in point, she arranged the first encounter between the Fantastic Four and Namor claiming to be acting in the name of peace, when she just wanted to gain access to Atlantean technology, which only served to alienate the Atlanteans from trusting the surface-dwellers. Later, with the arrival of Superman, she willingly joined Cadmus in their bid to gain access to the secrets of the Fortress of Solitude, including holding Allison Blaire/Power Girl hostage for interrogation and later performing experiments with a Phantom Zone cell that not only put the Earth at risk, but ultimately led to the release of General Zod.
- Luminosity: Addy claims this is why she's so interested in witches. Given what we know of her, she's either telling the truth, or a Hidden Agenda Villain. She's probably this trope, though.
- MythBusters vs. My Little Pony on Deviantart.
- This is Colress's motive in the Pokemon fanfic Natural Liberated. He wants to help N develop his Psychic Powers so he can test their limits and see their effects on people.
- In The New Retcons it's revealed that in The '60s, the government decided to simulate the effects nuclear war would have on wildlife by seeding out of the way patches of land with radiation. One of the places chosen was a small farming community outside Toronto. Later, a few politicians and businessmen colluded to let the community be built up despite the radiation. That town? Millborough, Ontario, Canada.
- In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands 2/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, this is zig-zagged. On one hand, given the threat at hand (Flood) breaking the rules makes some sense. However, it's also clear that the Republic Intelligence Service is going well beyond what is necessary. The only thing RISE hasn't done yet is say out loud "Discovery requires experimentation." They're showing this attitude anyway — buying slaves to experiment on, deliberately infecting people knowing it will kill them (most of them were sentenced to death anyway), building superweapons, and bribing politicians.
- Uxie from the Poké Wars series joined Ho-oh's Kill All Humans coalition solely because he believes extinction of humanity would advance the progress of the world. This trope is also the very reason that he's implied to plan on clone Ash, something he's well aware Ho-oh would never approve of.
- In the fan-film Return of the Ghostbusters, Designated Villain Dr. Konstantine tells TV audiences that if the amulet he has discovered does, as theorized, hold the powers of Egyptian god Anubis, he'd like "to harness the power as a weapon... for the benefit of mankind, of course."
- In Rise of a New Moon, Lloyd is so into this mindset that Luna manages get Britannian technological secrets and resources from him by trading away some of Rakshata's research and other developments. After she convinces Milly to re-establish the her family's company, she wagers she can get Lloyd to join in with the promise of further scientific advancement.
- Roar of the LION: Part of the reason Inori does what she does. Her current plan is to capture one of the Maidens for her experiments; several people point out that the Maidens' powers are beyond simple scientific comprehension, to which Inori retorts, "What's life without a few challenges?"
- In the Magical Girl Crisis Crossover Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights, Viluy takes her canon obsession with "gathering data" and her fetish for all things technological and/or mechanical to a new and horrifying extreme, stating that she's willing to see countless billions suffer and all universes end as long as she gets data out of it. She is later revealed to have performed Self-Surgery to bring herself even closer to her beloved tech.
- In The Snow Has Stopped The Rain, when the captains are all told about Ichigo being able to wield Shirayuki and even use her shikai, some of them want to bring him in for questioning partially because such a thing is just such an impossibly that they have to learn more about it. Except for Mayuri, who wants Ichigo brought in solely for this reason and immediately starts thinking about dissection.
- In This Bites!, this is the mentality of Chopper's Mr. Hyde-esque alter-ego, created by using a serum to access his Devil Fruit's human intelligence.
- In Ultra Fast Pony, Twilight uses this logic to justify stalking Pinkie Pie.
Spike: I don't know if we should be doing this. Isn't this illegal?
Twilight: Nothing's illegal if it's for science!
- X-Men: The Early Years: Why did Beast take blood and tissues samples from his teammates? For Science! Why did Beast set his lab on fire still again? For Science! Beast's dedication for blowing things up and gene-splicing innocent victims for the sake of furthering Science, unhindered by silly morals, is commendable (and the results hilarious).
- Self-proclaimed Evil Genius Jumba Jookiba from Lilo & Stitch seems to have created his genetic experiments just for the heck of it. Although he delights in describing the evil applications of his creations, he seems to have no grand plans for them. In the original movie, he notes that he never gave Experiment 626 (Stitch) a higher purpose.
- This is essentially the motivation behind Mewtwo's creation in Pokémon: The First Movie. Not that it ended well for his creators.
Dr. Fuji: We dreamed of creating the world's strongest Pokémon... and we succeeded.
- In The Secret of NIMH, the rats have no idea (nor does the audience) why they or the other animals at NIMH were being experimented on. Nicodemus surmises that the humans did so simply "to satisfy some scientific curiosity." This is somewhat different from the book, in which it's made clear that the scientists are working to increase the intelligence of the rats and mice in their test group.
- Major motivation of the Big Bad in Steamboy. The movie leaves some ambiguity over whether he's right.
- Up: This is Charles Muntz's justification for hunting the snipe.
- Becomes somewhat of a gag in Back to the Future Part III, where Doc and Marty hijack a train at gunpoint, which they need to make their time machine reach the speed needed for the travel. When the unimpressed driver asks if it's a robbery, Doc hesitates and then answers "It's a science experiment!".
- In Bats, the Devil in Plain Sight Dr. McCabe initially justifies creating the eponymous (killer and super-intelligent) bats with the words "I'm a scientist. That's what we do. Make everything a little bit better." It's later hinted that it was a secret government project, but still you have to wonder why the protagonists accepted that justification so well...
- When the doddering, bespectacled scientist in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms uses this as words of reassurance, you know he's about to be eaten by a dinosaur.
- The So Bad, It's Good MST3K classic The Beast of Yucca Flats involves Tor Johnson killing people in the name of "progress". Exactly what kind of progress you get from strangling people and not looking at the camera is never made clear, but nobody ever accused The Beast of Yucca Flats of being a good movie.
"Joe Dobson. Caught in the wheels of progress."
- In The Black Hole, professor Reinhardt turns the entire crew of his ship into mindless zombie androids and tries to kill the crew of the Palomino, just to satisfy his obsession of traveling into a black hole.
- The Bourne Legacy. Marta explaining why she used the protagonist as a lab rat. "I was there for the science. We were all there for science!"
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari contains an early example. He trains a sleepwalker to commit murder... for science!
- Day of the Dead (1985) has Doctor Logan, who becomes so obsessed with teaching the zombies good manners that when some of the few remaining soldiers are killed, he uses them as subjects and/or uses their remains to reward his subjects for good behavior. The other scientists are guilty of this to a much lesser degree. After all, what they discover is interesting, but doesn't show any kind of applicability as a weapon or defense.
- Then you have Devil Fish. Why make a killer sharktopus? You wouldn't understand. You're too old for science and for your wife.
- In Disturbing Behavior, it is revealed that the Ax-Crazy Mad Scientist thinks that doing behavioral modifications on high school students (including his own daughter!) is acceptable because "Science is GOD!"
- In Europa Report, this is the crew's motivation to go on with the mission after things start to go wrong.
"What does a life matter compared to the breadth of knowledge to be learned?"
- When Dr. Mannering in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is about to begin the operation to destroy both the Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man, he's suddenly given the Idiot Ball and has an epiphany:
"I can't do it! I can't destroy Frankenstein's creation. I've got to see it at its full power!"
- While Winston and Venkman in Ghostbusters (1984) are Punch Clock Heroes, this is Stanz and Egon's motivation.
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: This is the reason Rex turns evil and does not reveal to his sister that he survived. Cobra Commander even gives "science requires sacrifice" (or words to that effect) as his explanation for his actions.
- Subverted with Dr. Serizawa in the original Gojira. He states that his discovery of how to create the "oxygen destroyer" was purely for research and believes it can be used to benefit humanity... but ONLY if it's used for something other than a weapon, since he fears that exposing his discoveries to the world may lead to another war. It's a subversion because he eventually does use his scientific discoveries for the good of mankind by using the Oxygen Destroyer to kill Godzilla.
- On the other hand, Dr. Yamane is disgusted by those who want to kill Godzilla and firmly believes it should be studied in the name of scientific progress, and he will not tolerate anyone who disagrees with him, even as Godzilla is causing horrendous amounts of death and destruction.
- The only conceivable reason why the doctor in The Human Centipede would think to sew three people mouth-to-anus to create the titular human centipede.
- Iron Man 2: It seemed Howard Stark earnestly wanted the Arc reactor to help benefit mankind and not "to shut the hippies up" as Stane claimed in the first movie. He notably also had Anton Vanko deported for wanting to cash in on the technology.
- Iron Man 3 further explored the concept, with several characters, including Tony Stark and the film's villain originally being inspired by this trope before straying from the path.
Maya: See we all begin wide-eyed, pure science. And then the ego steps in, the obsession. And you look up, you're a long way from shore.
- Hammond invokes this in Jurassic Park:
Hammond: How can we stand in the light of discovery... and NOT act?
- Despite this, it comes across as a flimsy justification rather than his true motive, which is a combination between making an absolute butt-load of money and because darn it, dinosaurs are really COOL.
- The tendency of 50's b-movies to indulge in this is mocked in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. As the movie goes on, it becomes more and more obvious that the in-universe writer has absolutely no idea of either how science works in real life or what the protagonist's motivations should be, and is writing nonsensical Purple Prose to hide it:
Paul: Seriously, Betty, you know what this meteor could mean to science. If we find it, and it's real, it could mean a lot. It could mean actual advances in the field of science.
- This exchange from The Man with Two Brains:
Inspector: You're playing God!
Dr. Hfuhruhurr: Somebody has to!
- The Mummy (1932): When Frank is telling Helen how he unwrapped Princess Anck-es-en-Amon's most personal possessions, she cringes, exclaiming "How could you?" "Had to! Science, you know," Frank breezily replies.
- In Nine Days of One Year, Gusev charges ahead with his nuclear research, disregarding not only ethical concerns about his work possibly getting used for an H-bomb, but also the fatal doses of radiation that he's absorbing in the course of his experiments.
- Dr. Spires' reason to give an experimental regenerative mixture on a dying psychopath in Silent Rage.
Dr. Spires: I don't care if he killed 100 people! We are scientists, not moralists!
- This is the primary reason that human DNA was included in the genetic template for Dren in Splice.
- Dr. Carrington in The Thing from Another World is quite clear in his belief that the whole group should be willing to die if it will mean communicating with the murderous alien and gaining new scientific knowledge. When he tries to talk to it, the Thing responds by nearly killing him.
- The Three Stooges short "We want our Mummy" has the trio as detectives hunting for a missing archeologist and the lost Tomb of King Rutentuten, and will be paid $5,000 dollars for their commitment to science.
Moe: For science!
Larry: For science!
Curly: For 5,000 bucks!
- A benign example is from TRON: Walter Gibbs, Encom's founder, was so happy to be playing in his lab and making scientific history that he all but handed his company to Dillinger.
- V for Vendetta: The head lady doctor (who is also the coroner) makes it clear in her notes that she genuinely believed in the potential of the camp's research, even as she became disillusioned (and is seen working at gunpoint anyway) with the messy details, admitting — but aware of her own thoughts — that she found herself hating the victims who couldn't see how they were helping their country. What we hear of her last page of her personal journal notes, when Larkhill went up at the hands of their promising one survivor, both realization at what she's been a part of and still a mention at having lost all of her work.
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: While Captain Nemo's motivation is Revenge, Aronnax is willing to sacrificing his own freedom for the rest of his life for the rare chance to discover all the sea's secrets in the Nautilus. Thankfully, he is not willing to sacrifice his friends' freedom.
- In The Arts of Dark and Light and its world of Selenoth, the elvish wizards are often portrayed this way, seeking knowledge somewhat recklessly through dangerous experiments. (One such incident created a desert of glass in this world's recent history.) The trope is even more true for the Witchkings, however: the very motive of their villainy is said to be the pursuit of ultimate knowledge and truth, with no regard for ethics or morality.
- The Aurora Cycle features an amoral scientist named Zila that runs on this, as part of the main heroic team. Her reason for being on the team is a series of reprimands for incidents that included locking a fellow student in a lab to see whether her serum for a virus worked and repeatedly shooting her bunkmate with a stun pistol to figure out how it worked.
- Tanya Huff's novel Blood Pact has a villainous Department head who is testing bacterian reanimation of corpses (to rebuild organs) and to get a subject for her experiments murders Vicki Nelson's mother and takes the body away. She is assisted by a genuine Mad Scientist for whom the death of the other assistant means only a disturbance in the data.
- In Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, Dr. Felix Hoenikker creates ice-nine, a compound with the potential to permanently freeze all water on Earth, basically out of curiosity. It was his solution to the problem, posed to him by an official in the US Marines, of how to get rid of the annoyance of mud on long marches.
- Another Vonnegut story, Slaughterhouse-Five, mentions offhandedly that the Trafalmadorians, who can see into the past and the future, know exactly how the universe will end because one of them causes it doing an experiment. To a human, that might suggest that just maybe they shouldn't do that particular experiment, but that's not how Trafalmadorians think. So it goes.
- Jack, the main character of The Chronicles of Professor Jack Baling, justifies his study of a perpetual motion machine and his eventual murder of Nico on the basis that figuring out how it works will mean infinite renewable energy and the solution to a host of the worlds problems.
- Discworld's Leonard of Quirm is a strange mix. He is appallingly naïve about human nature, declaring that an effective nuclear bomb would have no military application, though it might be useful in the mining industry (a nod to Alfred Nobel inventing dynamite, and who was also unable to foresee people wanting to use it for anything other than mining). He is scathing about Colon and Nobby's pipe dreams about a weaponized version of his Going-Under-The-Water-Safely Device, and then subsequently designs one himself, just to see if he could. Perhaps a little less naïve following his conversation with Colon and Nobby, he then destroys the plans.
- He's spoken trustingly at least once of how, if people tried to use one of his destructive devices for evil, "the government would put a stop to things before they went too far."
- Quirm's faith may not be misplaced, considering the government consists of Lord Vetinari, who does not even slightly desire war and conquest (having actively stopped it in one story). He does, however, desire things to run smoothly and with as little fuss as possible, and would indeed put a stop to Quirm's inventions being used for evil ends.
- While Dr. Quincy Wyatt of Nancy Werlin's novel Double Helix does have an intention to use his research to some better end, he remarks, after being asked of the legality of his work, "What a stupid thing to focus on, Eli. I thought you'd be interested in the science here."
- The project team of The Fold has created a functional teleporter. They refuse to release it while they finish their documentation, even at the risk of losing their funding entirely.
- In Andre Norton's Forerunner Foray, Riss explains at the end that he can protect her from the Patrol because her abilities will reveal much about ancient civilizations.
- The Academy of Lagado, from Gulliver's Travels, seems to mainly be staffed by hopeless incompetents regularly reciting this to themselves as justification for their nonsensical and meaningless experiments. There is no possible reason to breed naked sheep, but apparently, science demands that they make the effort.
- The Professor in Haruki Murakami's novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World essentially causes the nameless protagonist's (boku, 'I') mind to disconnect from all reality and degenerate, directly causing his death, in the course of involuntarily-performed experiments to further research which is 'purely' scientific and implied to be laughably obscure. However, unlike most Mad Scientists (of which the Professor is otherwise a perfect example), the Professor is compassionate and genuinely sorry for the harm (death) he has caused.
- A Mage's Power: Captain Hasina wants to cut Eric open, because he's an otherworlder and she wants to study him. She finds comparing otherworlder humans and local humans to be a fascinating area of study. Her other experiments are more about solving a puzzle (i.e. curing a disease) and giving the solution to everyone.
- This trope is the very premise behind MARZENA; the book itself was written as part of a thesis to apply and demonstrate the neuroscience behind emotions and consciousness, and show that the brain is really just like a computer network made of neurons and astroglial cells, and that true Artificial Intelligence wouldn't be quite the way we imagine it would be. Our mind, and our sense of self, are not so different than the software of a strong AI. According to the author K.T. Martel, the neuroscience behind her novel series is based off her other non-fiction book entitled Outlast the Machine, a book that demystifies the greatest mysteries of the brain and elaborate on how to use that knowledge to prepare for the future.
- In Maximum Ride, "whitecoats" create bird-children, our protangonists, which escape, and try to live normally. Undeterred, the whitecoats create Erasers, man-wolf hybrids, to try to kill them. They go on to try to kill half the world, and eventually ruin the planet to get to them. Yeesh.
- Pavlov's Dogs has this as the dubious justification of the batshit insane Doctor Crispin.
- In The Priory of the Orange Tree, the disgraced and exiled Niclays Roos maintains his goal of creating an elixir of immortality. He has absolutely no interest in using it himself, but he wants to prove it can be done because he's lost the love of his life, his home, and his independence, so his scientific ambition is the only thing he has left. (He would also like to withold it from the person who exiled him for failing, but that would just be a bonus.) To this end, he does a number of underhanded and downright immoral things and quickly makes peace with working for a ruthless pirate overlord who desires eternal life. Niclays does experience pangs of conscience, but continually overrides them.
- In Sanctuary, early eighteenth century scientist William Casswell aka the ghost eater subjects ghosts to all kinds of torments, including being cut in half, in order to learn about and categorize them.
- Schild's Ladder: The freak lab accident that gives birth to a universe-annihilating reaction occurs because the scientist wanted to test an obscure physics theory. This being a book by Greg Egan, it's completely subverted by making the resulting Negative Space Wedgie a good thing.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: In the Citadel, they cut open the dead to study life. Qyburn cut open the living to study death. He's lucky that they only took his maester's chain.
- In The Squares of the City by John Brunner, the the villain subconsciously manipulates the population with the assistance of a scientist who just wants to try out the techniques he's devised in real-world conditions, and never mind about fiddly ethical considerations.
- Dr. Qwi Xux in Star Wars Legends embodies this trope: she's the genius scientist behind the Death Star, the Sun Crusher, and the World Devastators... but she has no idea that they're weapons, and simply takes joy at the creation of works of scientific genius. This is lampshaded when Han points out that the names probably should have been a clue.
- Qwi thought the Death Star could be used on uninhabited planets and thus their ores mined much more easily, inexpensively, and safely, the Sun Crusher could be used for planned detonations of unstable old stars that might otherwise supernova unexpectedly and be a hazard to navigation, and so on. She's still a bit flummoxed at trying to explain the names, with the best she can do being "Well, they were just code names!" (At that point, she started to realize how weak her rationalizations were, and sought out the files that confirmed her inventions really were used for exactly what they sounded like.) It was less that she was just doing science for science's sake, and more that she was so in love with science and so massively naïve that she didn't pick up on what she was actually doing.
- It's also because she was taken, taught and brainwashed as a child to the point of being fairly broken psychologically — she's almost a sort of Cloudcuckoolander/Bunny-Ears Lawyer scientist.
- The Stormlight Archive: Shallan uses a variant to justify her stranger requests.
Yalb: This is madness, Brightness!
Shallan: No, this is scholarship!
- An optimistic example in Becky Chambers' novella To Be Taught If Fortunate, with OCA or Open Cluster Aeronautics. Humans stopped living in space sometime in the 2020s due to the geopolitical instability caused by the start of the Great Shift. By the 2050s, a group of frustrated friends kickstarted the idea for OCA, citizen-funded spaceflight. Eventually, OCA becomes a flourishing international, apolitical, non-profit force for science.
- In the history of Warbreaker, Shashara was one of the legendary Five Scholars and a groundbreaking expert in the magic of Awakening. Her most famous achievements, an efficient means of creating Lifeless and the sapient, insane, Artifact of Death Soul-Cutting Blade Nightblood, began as academic exercises but were put to horrible use in the Manywar. When Vasher learned that she still intended to publicize her means of making Nightblood, he killed her.
- In the Zachary Nixon Johnson series, Zach's scientist friend Dr. Randy Pool justifies some of his more morally ambiguous work by saying he "had to do it for the good of science".
- In an early episode of Babylon 5, a team of researchers are sent to the planet below the station to investigate a mysterious energy source. When the lead scientist is asked whether he is afraid to go down to the planet, he says:
Dr. Tanaka: It scares the Hell out of me. But what better way to go out than in the cause of advancing scientific knowledge?
Cmdr. Ivanova: Is this a multiple-choice question? Because I have some ideas...
- The Big Bang Theory:
Sheldon: That was not a betrayal, that was an experiment to determine at what concentration food starts tasting "mothy".
Leonard: You put moths in my food?
Sheldon: For science.
- Gale Boetticher from Breaking Bad is more interested in lab work than the consequences of his actions. This applies to his making coffee and meth: after all, if addicts are going to look for meth, why not provide a quality product?
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: As a psychology major, Riley's more curious interests occasionally pop up, like when Xander was accidentally doubled.
Riley: Psychologically, this is fascinating! Doesn't it make everyone wanna lock them in separate rooms and do experiments on them? [Beat] ...Just me, then.
- The UnSub in the Criminal Minds two-parter "To Hell... and Back" tries justifying his actions using this trope, almost word for word. The earlier "Scared to Death" had the killer claim his victims "sacrificed themselves for science".
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Long Game", Adam has an neural interface implanted in the year 200,000 so he can access and transmit scientific knowledge back to 2012, while he claims he did to advance mankind when caught. The Doctor recognizes however that he's really just taking advantage of time travel to make money and destroys the recording, before exiling him from the TARDIS and warning him that he'll have to avoid attention if he doesn't want to have people cutting into his head for the future-tech inside.
- The Time Lords' "official" story is that they created Time Travel in order to observe the universe, but not interfere with it. In reality however, they often seem to really be against anyone else trying on their hat, not just the Daleks.
- The Rani in a nutshell. She was banished from Gallifrey after an incident where she used the President's cat for an experiment that went horribly wrong. She has absolutely no qualms about using live or human(oid) test subjects in her experiments, including those from different times. Her best justification for turning people into trees in "The Mark of the Rani" is that they'll live longer this way.
- This is Professor Zaroff's justification for blowing up the world in "The Underwater Menace". That, and For the Evulz.
- This seems to be Topher's primary motivation in Dollhouse.
- Almost every scientist on Eureka does this at some point or the other. Unattended consequences have almost destroyed the town/nation/universe on several occasions.
- Farscape: An alien Mad Scientist justifies his unethical experiments on Moya's crew this way. Crichton compares him to Dr. Mengele which the scientist takes as a compliment after Crichton explains who Mengele was.
- In Firefly, Book obliquely hints that this may have been part of the reason why the Academy did so much physical damage to River's brain, suggesting that they may have done what they did "just to see how much she could take." Knowing what we do about his Dark and Troubled Past, he might be right. It should be noted that Simon disagrees, and believes that there was a specific purpose behind the torture. The Movie reveals that Simon had the right of it; they were attempting to create an assassin with Psychic Powers.
- Forever Knight
- In the pilot episode, Vampire Detective Nick Knight needs human blood to have the strength to fight LaCroix. The woman with Nick encourages him to feed on her, as she's a historian and if she survives she'll be able to study the rise and fall of entire civilisations firsthand.
- A doctor in a Flatline Plotline proceeds with the experiments for this reason even though people are dying, and she eventually murders her sponsor when he threatens to shut down her research.
- In a flashback to when Dr Natalie Lambert first met Nick, she claims this trope as to why she wants to help find a cure for his vampirism. We then Gilligan Cut to the present where Natalie admits to herself that that explanation was a lie.
- Fringe just loves this trope. Walter Bishop is an obvious example, as are Nina Sharp, William Bell and most villains they encounter.
- Game of Thrones: Qyburn lost his maester's chain for performing medical experiments on living men.
- Alton Brown of Good Eats says this trope word for word when trying to coax his cameraman into getting into his "Vomitron" machine to test the effects of ginger on motion sickness.
- Daedalus in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, somewhat embittered after Icarus' death, builds Bamboo Technology Humongous Mecha because he can, without wondering why his patron wants them. He learns better, and goes back to inventing peaceful things, like Silly Putty (really).
- House: One of House's applicants injects a patient with thallium so it looks like she has polio, then proceeds to "cure" her with massive doses of Vitamin C. The reason? He says he's seen polio be cured with this method, but the study that was to prove it in the 40s ran out of money before it worked. House gives him a head start before he calls the cops.
- He's more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist, in that he spent a lot of time in third-world countries where polio still afflicts many and needed to demonstrate his "cure" in a first-world country in order to drive people to conduct research that would save others.
- iCarly: Carly uses this excuse in "iOMG" to get Gibby to help her electrocute her brother for their semester project.
- The Life episode "Not For Nothing" had Prof./Warden Halliday who conducted a Stanford Prison Experiment and incited his students to hurt each other just so he can see what happens. This causes one of the "prisoners" to kill one of the "guards". Halliday is arrested and when found guilty, he'll be charged with 20 counts of inciting to commit bodily harm which is 7 years.
- Stuart Radzinsky (and to a lesser extent, the rest of the Dharma Initiative) on Lost lives this trope to the core. How does it end? With the Swan Incident. Although, to be fair, it's not clear that Radzinsky alone caused the Incident — the atomic bomb probably helped.
- Mr. Show: "Thank you very much, we have an announcement to make. On July 4th of this year, America will blow up the moon! We have the technology. The time is now. Science can wait no longer. Children are the future! America can, must, should, and will blow up the moon!"
- The Muppet Show: Professor Bunsen Honeydew's general motivation for his inventions and experiments, many of which serve no practical or sane purpose, and which inevitably tend to end up malfunction and hurting someone, usually Beaker. Beaker's panicked attempts to beg off being volunteered are often shut down with "but it's for science, Beaker". Then Beaker gets hurt.
- Used with a wink and a nod on Mythbusters, usually by Adam:
- "We're about to shoot an M-16 into a swimming pool! For science!"
- "I'm going to jump into shark-infested waters For science!"
- A promo for the MacGyver special has Adam claiming "This is for love, money, and science!"
- When the normally emotionless Jamie finally admits that the little marching robots he has built are "kinda cute", Adam agrees: "Cute... for science!"
- "We're creating rain... for science!"
- Adam's infamous "I ate a radio for science!"
- Despite all this, Word of God outside the show will readily admit that most of what they do has only the most nodding of acquaintances with the scientific method — their sample sizes are far lower than a serious scientific study, among other things— and is really for entertainment purposes. In a meta sense the trope still applies, though, as the show is a favorite of science teachers for sparking an interest in science and engineering in their students.
- ReGenesis inverts this. People in it For Science! tend to be patient and reasonable regarding their studies. Almost every disaster is caused by people who have some practical real world application in mind because they are either under pressure to get results or convinced that the world is suffering without the benefits of their ideas.
- In Sanctuary Helen Magnus is the embodiment of this trope. The rest of the Five is more or less the same (they did inject themselves with vampire blood just to see what happens, after all).
- Sherlock is constantly doing some kind of experiment, usually with body parts in the fridge.
- In Stargate Universe, Rush lives this trope to the core. He strands the cast on Destiny rather than lose the chance to get there. When power shuts down and they're all going to die, his primary complaint is that they've lost the opportunity of a lifetime to explore the universe.
- Star Trek franchise:
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- In "Where Silence Has Lease", a giant floaty alien face spends the majority of the episode messing around with the crew of the Enterprise to see how they'll react. At the end, it asks for a demonstration of humanoid reproduction and to perform an experiment to explore the concept of death (only a 40% casualty rate is estimated!) and is refused. Why it cares or what it hopes to gain from these experiments is never explored.
- In "Allegiance", Picard is kidnapped and placed in confinement with a group of other apparently randomly-selected humanoids to see how they'll react, and a Doppelgänger Picard is placed aboard the Enterprise to act like a weird-beard and see how much the crew is willing to put up with for the sake of loyalty. When their ruse is found out and they're confronted they claim to be some sort of Hive Mind and/or Ditto Aliens, and don't really understand how more individualistic species think, so this was some sort of data collection exercise. When Captain Picard expresses his considerable displeasure about being abducted to participate in their social experiment without his consent, they protest that they were simply curious and did no harm. Picard gives them a taste of their own medicine by having Worf trap them in a security forcefield for a while, making the point that forcible confinement is itself a form of harm: Apparently the lesson sank in because they never show up in the franchise again.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "If Wishes Were Horses", some Sufficiently Advanced Aliens decide to study the power of imagination by invoking Clap Your Hands If You Believe all over the station. What specifically this is supposed to accomplish is never really explained, and at the end of the episode the aliens take off and are never mentioned again.
- Star Trek: Voyager
Alzen: Please understand that there's a purpose to our actions. The data we gather from you may help us cure physical and psychological disorders that afflict millions. Isn't that worth some discomfort?
- In "Scientific Method", some aliens experiment on the crew... by randomly changing their genes. There are even lethal cases. They make B'Elanna and Paris horny too. What that was in aid of, one can only guess...
Jetrel: If I had not discovered the Cascade it would have been someone else, don't you see? It was a scientific inevitability, one discovery flowing naturally to the next. Something so enormous as science will not stop for something as small as man, Mister Neelix.
- In the episode "Jetrel", Neelix encounters the scientist who developed the weapon of mass destruction that destroyed his personal homeworld.
Neelix: So you did it for science.
Jetrel: For my planet, and yes, for science. To know whether or not it could be done. It's good to know how the world works. It is not possible to be a scientist unless you believe that all the knowledge of the universe and all the power it bestows is of intrinsic value to everyone and one must share that knowledge and allow it to be applied, and then be willing to live with the consequences.
- Star Trek: Discovery
- This was originally the intent behind the Spore Drive, developing a new faster way to travel across the stars, but the war with the Klingon Empire saw it retooled as a new way to facilitate fast deep strikes into enemy territory or to quickly reinforce ships or colonies under attack. The whole thing turned into an ethical minefield when it turned out the only ways for the drive to work were to either torture an innocent being or to genetically augment crewmembers in violation of Federation law.
- The trope gets poked fun at in "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad", Lt. Stamets asks Burnham to dance with him, for science. Note that the two characters are pretty much romantically a non-starter; Stamets is trying to help Burnham hook up with Ash Tyler for his own purposes.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- Taken: In "Maintenance", Dr. Chet Wakeman demonstrates the harmful effects of one of the alien implants on a soldier in an isolation room. The soldier is driven insane within seconds and kills himself by banging his head repeatedly on the glass.
- In That Mitchell and Webb Look a Mad Scientist named Professor Death has created a death ray. However, it's actually harmless and just named after him. At the first mention of weaponizing any of his inventions he begins to destroy them with a wrench.
Dr. Death: NOOOOO! The Giant Death Ray was intended to help people!
- The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Room 2426", the theoretical biochemist Dr. Martin Decker has developed a new strain of bacteria which he had hoped to use to eliminate famine. However, the State intends to use it as a bioweapon to completely destroy its enemies, potentially wiping out millions of lives, but they cannot do so without the notebooks that Martin has hidden. Martin tells his torturer Dr. Ostroff that he believes that new discoveries are innately valuable and it had never occurred to him that his discovery could be used against humans.
- Paracelsus in Warehouse 13 is a Mad Scientist who experimented with Artifacts during the days of Warehouse 9 (16th century) in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). What was his latest experiment? Making his brother and the brother's family immortal to test the Philosopher's Stone at the cost of an entire village. When his horrified brother finds out the truth, Paracelsus simply brushes him off with something like "casualties of progress". Having had enough, the Warehoues agents bronze him, until he is de-bronzed in the 21st century and decides to continue his experiments. He succeeds in making himself immortal at the cost of a group of terminally-ill patients. Once again, the word "progress" is used. Then he takes control of the Warehouse and kicks everyone else out, except for Claudia who tries to battle him for Caretakership.
- The West Wing invokes this more than once. First by Sam Seaborn in answer to the question, "Why should we go to Mars?" "Because it's what's next." Later by a scientific researcher. Why should we build the superconducting supercollider, what practical results will it get? None whatsoever, research for its own sake.
- The X-Files had its share of Mad Scientists or Deadly Doctors.
- In "Young at Heart", Dr. Ridley, an outcast in the medical community, experimented with reversed aging process on ill children and gave on one of his test subjects (a prisoner and sociopathic killer) a salamander hand.
- In "The Post-Modern Prometheus", Dr. Pollidori is a classic mad evil scientist fand thus fits this trope perfectly. When Mulder and Scully ask him why he would create a deformed fly with legs growing out of its mouth, he answers simply that because he can. He admits that this work could be done theoretically on humans, too, but that it would go against every scientific convention. However, it's revealed at the end that he conducted do experiments on people as well.
- Why do the Consortium Of Genius do it? Because they're scientists!
- The Jonathan Coulton song "Still Alive" is (partly) about this. Along with a lot of passive-aggressive guilt tripping from an omnicidal AI that doesn't understand why you threw her into a fire.
- ''I Am A Scientist'' by the Dandy Warhols. Also the (unrelated) Guided By Voices song by the same name.
- Duran Duran wrote "Playing With Uranium" about the Nuclear Boy Scout, but takes a cheerfully twisted direction with it, proposing "reinventing the human race" as "light entertainment."
- Neil Innes' "For The Benefit Of Mankind", possibly the most benign and harmless manifestation of this trope ever:
"I've seen pandas on the wing
Heard the brontosaurus sing
And I've measured balls of string
For the benefit of mankind
(For the benefit of mankind)
I've untangled tambourines
Looped a loop in submarines
For the benefit of mankind
(For the benefit of mankind)..."
- Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science".
- There's a They Might Be Giants song called "For Science", about a man who agrees to become the love slave of The Girl From Venus, citing this reason. "I'm so brave", indeed.
- "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby. Okay, it was just shouting "SCIENCE!". But close enough.
- One image in the Comedy Goldmine section of the website Something Awful depicts a young Goon trying to see if he won't get stung by a bee if he "steps on it really really fast"... for science! He actually even says "For Science!". It... doesn't work out so well for the kid.
- Fringe Pro Wrestling Red Line Champion Jim Nye took on all comers, and since you're on this page you know exactly why he did so. For science!
- You really have to wonder what was going through the scientist's heads in Bleak World when they thought it was a good idea to put dozens of demons and ghosts into a corpse.
- Gond the Wondermaker, the deity of invention in Dungeons & Dragons, is the one the Forgotten Realms have to thank for gunpowder, primitive firearms, grenades, and all the other joys of scientific progress. Somewhat unsurprisingly, most players choose to ignore the existence of his creations, if not the deity himself. Given alignment is True Neutral.
- Eberron: House Vadalis is a Mega-Corp whose power comes from the Mark of Handling, which makes anyone that possesses it The Beastmaster. Contrary to what you might expect, it doesn't work for profit and isn't concerned with protecting nature. Instead, they use their magical abilities to study monsters and genetically engineer the perfect animal. They're the setting's largest source of animal products, but that's a side job for them; their real passion is magebreeding.
- This is the Brisbane supercomputer's motivations in GURPS Reign of Steel (a 'Robot War, the robots won' setting), and the weirder the science the better. This is somewhat of a mixed blessing for the humans in Zone Brisbane — on the one hand, it means they're subject to a wide variety of experiments, many of them lethal, painful and just downright bizarre. On the other hand, it also means that Brisbane doesn't want to Kill All Humans: doing that would make entire categories of experiments impossible.
- Sort of a motto for the Sons of Ether in Mage: The Ascension, particularly for the ones branded Mad Scientists by their peers.
- The fan-made "expansion" Genius: The Transgression does more-or-less the same thing for WoD 2.0, as the Sons of Ether apparently didn't fit into the Darker and Edgier version of the World of Darkness.
- Although the nWoD's Free Council has its moments, being a cross between the Sons of Ether and Virtual Adepts.
- Null Mysteriis over in Hunter: The Vigil. Pleasantly, they actually do science.
- The Clan Tzimisce in Vampire: The Masquerade. Why did you take that human apart, piece by piece, while he was still alive? For science! Why did you fuse sixteen ghouls into a giant dinosaur-like monster? For science! Why did you put a mouth on your own tongue? For science!
- And their spiritual successors, the Ordo Dracul of Vampire: The Requiem, may not have flesh-crafting, but they do have the same pragmatic attitude. One of their common initiation rituals involves a student randomly selecting a mortal, horribly murdering them, and then tracking how the world is changed by their death.
- On the plane of Ravnica in Magic: The Gathering, there is a organization of Mad Scientists named the Izzet League. This is basically the only reason they do anything; see the flavor texts of Schismotivate and Inspiration for an idea.
- Many scientists in Rocket Age have an... odd outlook on scientific procedure and ethics. However, this is because the wider solar system has a tendency to attract eccentrics; there are far more proper scientists out there interested in actual useful results.
- Spirit of '77 has the elusive and mysterious X-Tech. Why does it exist? How does it work? Who cares...it's far out! It gives you cool cybernetic powers!
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Adeptus Mechanicus has set loose more than one Eldritch Abomination in their pursuit of even a fragment of a Standard Template Construct. They have a particularly poor track record regarding Necrons — the minute they find a tomb full of the slumbering constructs, they inevitably start poking the things until they wake up. And if they aren't allowed to do this, they sulk. Just to add promethium to the fire, they also caused a Space Marine chapter to go renegade by stealing its holiest relic for back-engineering and threatening them with orbital artillery in the hope of getting them to back down. And then yet another Eldritch Abomination turned up to take it off them before they were able to figure out how it worked.
- Ork Mekboys have a single driving purpose in life: to create a weapon/vehicle/mobile fortress/spaceship bigger, 'arder, fasta and shootier than anything ever made before. To quote Kog da Flymek: "Wot's faster than a warbuggy, more killy than a warbike, and flies through da air like a bird? I got no bleedin' idea, but I'm gonna find out." (Answer: the first Deffkopta.)
- For another The World of Darkness example, while they aren't likely to practice it, this trope is at the heart of the Frankenstein Lineage of Prometheans. The other Promethean Lineages were created because the demiurge in question wanted something out of their creation — companionship, servitude, rule, or an understanding of the realms invisible. Victor Frankenstein, on the other hand, just made his monsters because he wanted to.
- Saturine Nights introduces Father Mazda, an Osiran who, after creating his first progeny (as all Prometheans are required to do), became curious as to how far one could deviate from the prescribed progenation rituals and still get a viable result. Over a century later, he's created countless variations on the Promethean form, as well as small armies of Pandorans, to the point he's taken up Centimanus so that he can keep some degree of control over them. Why? Sheer curiosity. He's long since given up on the Pilgrimage, though not because he thinks it's impossible (some of his own creations have succeeded), but because he can't stop experimenting now.
- In The Golden Apple, Ulysses and his Dwindling Party are approached by rocket scientists who want a volunteer to try out their new gadget that they say will save the human race from certain doom. Doc volunteers himself and takes the first ride in the untested rocket. The good news: the rocket works. The bad news:
Ulysses: But how is he gonna get back?
The Scientist: Oh dear, oh dear! I never thought of that. Well, back to work!
- The Great Beings in are living examples of this trope. This how they justify putting laser cannons on giant scorpion monsters.
- Go to the Makuta species to find any variation of brutal warriors, cunning schemers or Evil slash Mad scientists that do half of their experiments For Science and For the Evulz. For examples, look no further than the Necrofinch (a bird that keeps singing even after death), the Electric Spider (Exactly What It Says on the Tin) or Blade Burrowers (a species designed to die within three days because the one that requested them for his army was acting like a douche).
- This is the motivation — or at least the excuse — of Caulder/Stolos from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin; indeed, until the last chapter it's his only real characteristic.
Caulder: Have you ever watched yourself die? It's FASCINATING!
- The reason Sugita Genpaku from Akanesasu Sekai de Kimi to Utau is so obsessed with operation and will try to cut open the nearest person in the vicinity, sometimes even without their consent as seen with what he attempted to do to the main character, is that he wants to study how the human body works.
- Played very straight with the Arisen, a race of half undead half machines from Allods Online. They use this as their cover for any and all of their questionable actions, much to the dismay of their allies, who are unable or unwilling to intervene because every technological marvel throughout their empire is thanks to their rotting friends.
- This is one of the core concepts in BioShock. Part of Andrew Ryan's introduction/Motive Rant says that he built Rapture as a place "where the scientist would not be constrained by petty morality." And does he ever make good on his promise. Little girls are mutated into mindless slaves to gather ADAM, a Psycho Serum that grants super powers but drives its users completely insane. Ryan was aware of the dangers of abusing ADAM, but downplayed them to keep it completely unregulated.
- Vernon Von Grun from City of Villains. His name is a pun on Wernher von Braun, see Real Life Examples.
- "Laugh with Me! MHUA HA HA HA HA *COUGH* HAHA HA!"
- Then there is his mentor, Doctor Creed, and his boss, Doctor Aeon.
- Dr. Kirk in Dino Crisis is a walking stereotype of the trope. He goes on and on about his experiments and doesn't show a single thread of remorse for his fellow scientists that were killed in his experiments (which caused dinosaurs to appear at the facility) since it only furthered his results. Regina is disgusted by the doctor's attitude.
Regina: Spoken like a true devil.
Dr. Kirk: A god or a devil, hm? I don't care about that! Only my experiments!
- The free MMO Dragon Nest offers an early quest with a blacksmith who wants you to gather some harpy feathers so he can design some new (flexible) armor. Upon returning the item to him, he will quickly fashion it into a vest, tackle you to the ground to force it onto you, and then shout "For SCIENCE!" before stabbing you with a spear.
- Dwarf Fortress is still in development, and is already incredibly complex, with all its ins and outs being far from fully documented. Because of this, members of the online fan community regularly share their discoveries of new idiosyncrasies and/or awesome things you can do in-game. For example, there is an ongoing effort to find a way to sink a capsule full of dwarves to the bottom of an ocean without crushing or drowning them; no success yet. Anytime a person posts on the forums asking if something is possible, and that thing has not been tried yet, the poster is implored to try the thing out "for !!SCIENCE!!" and report the results.
- The Elder Scrolls:
""I wonder if a dragon could be captured alive? It would make a fascinating test subject."
- The Dwemer were said to have been, in contrast to most elves, a highly scientific race who were able to develop complex machines and other fantastic devices, including a safe means of reading the Elder Scrolls. They would also summon Daedra just to test their divinity. They were ruthless, amoral and arrogant, hostile to every other race they encountered and not above using them for experimentation and slave labour. Their scientific skepticism with Daedra and gods and reality itself eventually extended to encompass themselves, and in the First Era, their chief "Tonal Architect" Kagrenac attempted to make the Dwemer into immortal ascended beings by breaking them down to their base elements and then reforging them — it's possible Kagrenac succeeded or got the reforging step of the experiment wrong, but whatever the case, the entire Dwemer race simply vanished from the face of Nirn without a trace.
- Members of the Mages Guild have a habit of putting themselves and others in danger through the reckless research and testing methods they use to study their fields of Functional Magic. Summoning creatures and then losing control of them is a common example. Ironically, one of the reasons Galerion founded the Guild was to provide a safe place for magical experimentation.
- The Dunmeri Great House Telvanni is a Magocracy whose lax rules create a breeding ground for Evil Sorcerer types. With the ES universe treating magic as a science, much of what they do crosses into Mad Scientist territory. Many of their Mage-Lords use foul magics to extend their lives and enjoy summoning lesser Daedra and/or practicing Necromancy to create guards and test subjects. Master Neloth, a Telvanni Councilor who appears in both Morrowind and Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC, has a number of comments showing that he fits the trope:
"The ash from Red Mountain holds secrets. Secrets I mean to uncover."
"How do you like my new laboratory? I use it to dissect spriggans. I've learned so much from them."
"It was fascinating to watch those tentacles grow out of your eyes."
- In Evolve Kala Kapur is described as being somewhere between what science can do and what it should do. This line of thinking led to her testing monster HNA on her self and becoming a Half-Human Hybrid as a result. Rather then try and reverse it or sever the affected portions, she added cybernetic systems to allow her to use the abilities of the monsters.
- The Vault program as a whole qualifies as this. Neither the U.S. government nor Vault-Tec actually believed nuclear war was a possibility, but played on people's fears and built over 100 high-tech nuclear shelters for the sake of performing insane social experiments on unsuspecting citizens. Only a handful of vaults actually protected people once the bombs dropped (and those vaults were only spared because the experiment needed a control group), while others did things like telling dwellers they'd all die if they didn't sacrifice someone every year, intentionally letting in radiation, pumping in hallucinogenic gas, giving recovering addicts drugs, cryogenically freezing dwellers, holding a man captive with nothing but a crate full of puppets for two years, and so on.
- If Fallout 3's resident Mad Scientist Dr. Lesko is attacked, he shouts a number of phrases like "science always triumphs!" and "I strike this blow for science!" while fighting.
- Megaton's Moira Brown never once loses her veneer of optimism while asking you to perform increasingly perilous tasks all for the sake of gathering information for her Wasteland Survival Guide. If you hack her personal computer, one of her research notes says that The Meaning of Life is "to perform science".
- Fallout: New Vegas plays this completely straight with Old World Blues. The Think Tanks are all about doing questionable things (such as replacing the Courier's spine/heart/brain with cybernetic replacements), and everything that you're helping them with is in the name of Science!note The fact that they're all addicted to Mentats (mental stimulants/the Fallout equivalent of Speed) doesn't help a single bit. This gets deconstructed with the reveal that Dr. Mobius, the supposed villain of the DLC, is actually trying to keep the others in check, having long realized that their pointless experimentation without any actual purpose is incredibly destructive and they will unleash havoc if they ever get loose.
- Also in New Vegas we have the positive example Dr. Henry. He spends the entire game in a Super Mutant settlement trying to find a cure for the Nightkin's schizophrenia, and according to Arcade Gannon he's developed cures for several dangerous diseases in the past. He's not motivated by money, fame, or even a desire to help people (seeing as how he also helped the Enclave develop their virus which would wipe out all mutants, ghouls, and "impure" humans). He does it for no other reason than the personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment he gets from figuring out the solutions to these problems, the way one might feel a sense of accomplishment from solving a crossword puzzle or doing a Self-Imposed Challenge in a video game. Nonetheless, Arcade feels a sense of admiration for how Henry has done so much without seeking personal gain for himself.
- Many of the Institute's experiments in Fallout 4 show shades of this. Such as creating synth gorillas and Super Mutants, unleashing the latter upon the surface without a care in the world once they stopped providing useful data.
- Optional companion Curie in 4 is a rare positive example: she wants to explore the Commonwealth and improve her knowledge of the world's conditions (after having been locked in a Vault for 200 years) so that she can research the new diseases that have arisen in order to find effective means of treating and curing them.
- Everything that Hojo from Final Fantasy VII has ever done EVER. Lucrecia Crescent, Dr. Hollander, Grimoire Valentine, and a few others fall under this as well.
- This is the raison d'être of Dr. Odine in Final Fantasy VIII, who doesn't care who he works for or what his inventions are used for as long as he gets to keep researching and inventing things. When he discovers that his research will eventually be developed into a working machine, which in turn is what's allowing the Big Bad to project her consciousness back in time and wage war in the present, his reaction is to be thrilled that his ideas will be put to use.
- The reasoning for the work of many of the researchers from the Academy in Final Fantasy XIII-2.
- Fire Emblem:
- This is the only excuse Izuka from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has for brainwashing countless Laguz into a blood-thirsty rage and trapping them in their Beast forms. This is also why he performs the same experiment on Duke Renning, Elincia's uncle, creating the psychotic Bertram in the process.
- In Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
- Professor Hanneman is wholly devoted to Crestology so much that he will happily admit joining Byleth's group is all a ploy to study their Crest of Flames better.
- Similarly, Linhardt is slightly less devoted to Crestology as Hanneman, though he is perfectly fine with trying to conceive a child with Flayn with their compatible Crests if it means advancing his own research (though he thankfully isn't unethical about his approach).
- On the villainous side, some members of "those who slither in the dark" have no problems conducting unethical experiments on people using artificially-crafted Crest Stones or Nabatean blood as long as they produce useful results, whether those results be turning them into monsters or killing each other in fits of uncontrolled rage.
- The Half-Life mod Science & Industry added a suicide-bomb weapon in one update, and it didn't take long for the customary cry before detonating one to become "FOR SCIENCE!", giving it pseudo-religious overtones. To be clear, it's the security guards who do the suicide-exploding, rather than the scientists. Still, they would have to be pretty dedicated to science to happily die for their company, even if they do get cloned back to life.
- In I Miss the Sunrise, EROS flip-flops with this. Some of the stuff they do is for a real purpose, but a lot of it is just because.
- In particular, Willis is not bogged down by any of your silly "ethics" nonsense, and most of his projects have little to no applicability (or if they do, it's a secondary consideration).
- Specific example: Once upon a time, an EROS research facility set up an experiment. The best case scenario was the successful reallocation of matter. The worst-case scenario? Unintentional spaghettification of all reality (read: the Shine). They went through with it — twice, in fact, the second attempt causing their facility to implode.
- In Impossible Creatures, "For science!" is one of Dr. Lucy Willing's unit acknowledgment quotes. She's more of a Wrench Wench than a mad scientist, but it does take most of the campaign to convince her that the Mix-and-Match Critters technology is too dangerous to exist.
- The Kerbal Space Program seems to run on roughly equal parts this trope and "because space is awesome" in-universe.
- In Kingdom Hearts, this is Xehanort's justification for all he did. Everything he did was an attempt to reforge the X-Blade, which would cause Kingdom Hearts to appear and Keyblade wielders would war against each other over it. Why? Because he wants to know how the New World would turn out after the war.
- In League of Legends, one of Heimerdinger's battle cries is "For great science!"
- In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Professor G. Schmidt invented the railway guns, panzer soldats, orbal jamming device and a weapon for Crow's Ordine, and he doesn't care one bit that the stuff he's making is being used for war. Whenever he completes one thing to his satisfaction, he immediately grows bored of it and moves on to something else he considers worth his time. George manages to get him to help make a tachi for Valimar, but he expresses amusement at the idea of there being any sort of "atonement" for the horrors he's unleashed on Erebonia.
- The city of Hallifax in Lusternia has an organization of mad scientists devoted to "expanding scientific knowledge", called The Institute. It's divided into six parts: the laboratory of Arcane Metaphysics; the laboratory of Aethereal Astrophysics; the laboratory of the Temporal Continuum; the laboratory of Metaplanar and Transdimensional Physics; the laboratory of Natural Sciences and Higher Energies; and the laboratory of the Void. And they're all nuts.
- Played for Laughs in Mass Effect 3. You can get away with asking anything using this phrase.
- Mass Effect: Andromeda: Dr. Suvi Anwar takes it upon herself to test whether the flora of the Heleus Cluster is edible via direct means, much to the exasperation of the Tempest doctor Lexi T'Perro, when she has to deal with Suvi casually recounting the symptoms of her latest culinary experiment. Of course, Suvi is also the sort of person who'll conduct the lick test on alien rocks without remembering these are alien rocks.
- Metal Gear Solid:
- Otacon wanted to design giant robots because it would be cool. Why the US military wanted to make the robot capable of launching nuclear weapons untraceably is anyone's guess. The Last Days of FOXHOUND gives the official and definitive answer to that question.
- There's some bit of Truth in Television to this, as various arms developers have indeed been experimenting with Walking Tanks, on the principle that they can move on certain terrains other heavy vehicles can't, often leave less impact on said terrain (and thus would be harder to trace), and can be positioned for firing more easily. Having your nuclear option small, mobile, and relatively unrestricted by terrain is a pretty big tactical advantage.
- Curiously enough, Sigint said in one of the radio conversations that creating a bipedal tank was pretty expensive and impractical, and it wouldn't have as many applications in war as it would a tank with threads. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that he was Anderson and would be revealed to be the DARPA Chief many years later. Y'know, for a technology expert, Sigint was rather narrow-minded with this.
- The Space Pirates of Metroid often perform various types of SCIENCE, almost all of them military related. If it isn't a weapon, it's a Super Soldier or similar. They usually steal tech, but tend to make improvements or adjustments to the designs, and tend to create or discover new things, as well. They often fail at it, though, which has the troops thoroughly despise the careless Science Team. You know something is beyond the Space Pirates when Science Team moves on after their experiment to reverse-engineer the Morph Ball goes horribly wrong. And then there's their thoughts on Metroids:
"Science Team believes the Metroids can be tamed. After cycles of trying, I believe that Science Team has vapor for brains."
- Minecraft, as demonstrated here. Redstone and various mods allow the player to impersonate GLaDOS indefinitely.
- In the various MySims games, Dr. F personifies this trope. When he's not telling you that "the F stands for robots," he's performing dangerous, painful, and pointless experiments on a robot named Tobor that he purposely designed to be intelligent enough to fear for its continued existence. When Tobor left his employment to open a '50s nostalgia diner, Dr. F decided to explode the janitor into space instead.
- The witch Deneb from Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen. She created the creatures that have later been re-used, one way or another in every other Ogre Battle game: the Pumpkin Head. Which is a man whose head has been replaced with a Jack-O-Lantern. By the time you get there she has stopped experimenting on humans and is apparently doing large-scale experiments on the lands around her castle instead. (With large areas on the map being purple instead of the normal brown for hills/mountains.) And the only reason given for why she did any of the things she did is that she was "researching some new magic" and "you know how important research is to Deneb". In short, she did it FOR MAGIC!
- Moira O'Deorain in Overwatch is a geneticist whose findings were deemed unethical in their discovery and shunned, despite her insistence that it's for the greater good. She quickly joined Blackwatch (who weren't afraid of bending the rules) and later Talon, as they let her desire for scientific advancement be left unchecked.
Moira: I take risks that others would consider to be unwise... for I do not share their caution.
- Dr. Klamp in Parasite Eve reveals near the end of the game that science was his ambition from the start. He was secretly assisting the Big Bad, Eve, by giving her sperm that would eventually create the Ultimate Being.
- In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, the researcher Colress wishes to draw out the full potential of Pokémon no matter the cost — even if it means aiding Team Plasma in a plan that could lead to the destruction of the Unova region. On the other hand, when he sees evidence from the player that being friends with Pokemon draws out even greater power than Team Plasma's ideas, he betrays Team Plasma without a second thought and begins pursuing The Power of Friendship... just because it's been proven to work better.
- In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, Maxie wants to use the legendary Pokémon Groudon to expand the continents in order to accelerate scientific progress and give humanity more room to advance (and inadvertently almost ends all life on earth in the process).
- Portal: This entire game literally exists because of this trope. The sequel, Portal 2 deconstructs it by explaining both how far Aperture Science went and how badly things went because of what they did.
- Aperture Science's company motto is "We do what we must because we can". Most of their projects turn out to be comedic scientific overkill, such as putting an AI in their fuel system de-icer and inventing a device that bends the laws of space-time for "potential shower curtain applications".
- Everything that goes on there isn't so much for the benefit of mankind as a whole but for the sole purpose of tearing physics a new one. This goes even further than that with Cave Johnson's tests, related through prerecorded audio. Blue paint instead of repulsion gel, mantis men, and replacing human blood with gasoline to name a few.
- Johnson actually lampshades this at one point. "I'll be honest, we're throwing science at the wall here to see what sticks. No idea what it'll do". He then suggests the best and worst case scenarios being superpowers and tumors ("Which we'll cut out!") The hidden joke: every single one of their tests violates both ethical standards, and basic testing protocols. Also, several of their inventions would make them millionaires, if they bothered to use 'em in anything other than testing.
- The Lab Rat comic goes even further: after GlaDOS has tried to kill the scientists eleven hundred times, she suddenly declares that she will be good now and committed to pursuit of science. For the first experiment, she only needs "a little neurotoxin". Which the Aperture scientists immediately and gladly provide, "as long as it's for science".
- The AI running the place after the company was wiped out, GLaDOS, does nothing but create endless arrays of pointless puzzles for no purpose other than forcing people to run through them. Its justified in the sequel that A: GLaDOS was programmed to think this way, and B: her systems basically incentivize acting this way; she is literally a testing junkie, because she gets a hit of pure pleasure pumped directly into what passes for her brain whenever she creates a test.
GLaDOS: I think we can put our differences behind us. For science. You Monster!.
- The root cause behind everything was Aperture founder and GLaDOS creator Cave Johnson, who is firmly stated in the second game to have been completely stark-raving off-the-wall MAD. The only question is just how much common sense and/or understanding of the scientific process he had before his brain was literally rotted away by toxic chemicals. His logs in the sequel show an unstable mind steadily declining into imbecility, clinging to meaningless "testing" in a vain attempt to deny just how bad a scientist he actually is.
Cave Johnson: Science isn't about why, it's about why not! You ask: why is so much of our science dangerous? I say: Why not marry safe science if you love it so much?
- Aperture Science's company motto is "We do what we must because we can". Most of their projects turn out to be comedic scientific overkill, such as putting an AI in their fuel system de-icer and inventing a device that bends the laws of space-time for "potential shower curtain applications".
- Ratchet & Clank: This is all the motivation Ratchet has for his little tinkerings, including, but not limited to, electrified underwear — "Stunderwear".
- The Umbrella Corporation from Resident Evil — in fact, the Resident Evil series — is the poster child for this trope. Even their attempts to commercialize all their zombie-making uberviruses were just a way to keep the real objectives of the founders going, which range from insane to comically insane but mostly center around reformatting the human race into an ideal species. Everyone employed by Umbrella also uses this as an excuse for committing murder about as often as regular people get haircuts. William Birkin is a particularly egregious example, what with the whole G-virus thing.
- Whatever the purpose of the experiments at the Bio Research Lab in SaGa Frontier were, the end results (scientists transforming into hideous monsters at the slightest provocation) indicate they deviated rather wildly from the original hypothesis.
"Our mission is to observe nature and discover her mysteries."
- In Scribblenauts, attempting to summon "SCIENCE" nets you a Large Hadron Collider (see below).
- This is the defining characteristic of the University of Planet in Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri. Upside: incredibly fast progress up the Tech Tree. Downside: unethical experiments inspire the lower classes into mob riots. They're portrayed as True Neutral, though, considering there are even meaner people in Planet.
- Dorothy of SINoALICE is a Constantly Curious Mad Scientist who wants to dissect, cut up and do various experiments on anything that gets her interest, just for the sake of knowing how it works and why. The only thing that matters to her is her research and anything else that moves is just material. She expresses her desire to experiment on the Nightmares littering the Library, and it's implied that the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion were her first test subjects.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Consular's companion Tharan Cedrax has a strong aversion to danger... unless it's some untested, likely unethical, and fascinating piece of technology or scientific discovery. Sharing or preserving the technology or information, no matter what kind of atrocity has been committed or will likely be committed with it, is the fastest way to gain approval with him. When you get to Belsavis in the same game, you find out about cruel experiments that Republic scientists have been conducting on the alien prisoners. When one of the scientists tries to justify the experiments, he uses these exact two words.
- In Super Robot Wars: Original Generation 2, doing something For Science actually leads to a morally right decision, at least within the context of the game. When Lemon Browning's Ridiculously Human Robot W-17 A.K.A. Lamia Loveless develops her own free will and decides to pull a HeelFace Turn, Lemon, instead of wiping W-17's memories and restoring her original programming, decides to help her android escape, desiring to see how far her creation's free will will take itself.
- In Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, when you are in the Marquis de Singe's lab. If you examine the Vole-Powered Generator, the doctor will explain that it is a machine that uses rodents to make lightning. Guybrush will then exclaim "Why would you do that?" to which de Singe naturally replies "Science!" This is practically the Marquis' catch phrase. His one weapon you see him with is labeled in the concept sketches as the "Porcelain, Bronze, and Wood Gun of Science!"
- Team Fortress 2: When the Medic isn't being a sadistic Deadly Doctor , he's acting like this.
[Heavy is having open-heart surgery, but isn't under anesthetic, and Medic is holding his heart in his hands, trying to see how it will react to the Beta Medigun. The heart explodes, knocking Medic's pet dove Archimedes off his perch with a piece of flesh. Heavy's head is down, but he picks it up when he hears the noise.]
Heavy: "What was noise?"
Medic: "The sound of progress, my friend."
- The Engineer is up there, too, if the para-text concerning how he acquired the Gunslinger are any indication. (Paraphrased: "Robot hand + hack saw + a lot of alcohol = why the heck not?")
- The process of crafting a hat is known as "SCIENCE" on /v/.
- TimeSplitters: Future Perfect has the Brotherhood of UltraScience which is dedicated specifically to science, with the only goal being the achievement of immortality, no matter how many zombie byproducts it takes. They succeed... sort of. The Big Bad is still not immune to bullets.
- The Big Bad, Natla, in Tomb Raider has science as her motivation. Being a former ruler of Atlantis and being the only one from the mythical city left alive, she plans to create a race of mutants to speed up evolution so that only the strong can survive. The remake ditches this motivation for a different one.
- World of Warcraft: Intentionally invoked when nerdy dragon Maloriak shouts "How well does the mortal shell handle extreme temperature change? Must find out! FOR SCIENCE!" when he's trying to murder you. This is the motivation for a lot of Forsaken activities these days, with sub-sects like the Royal Apothecary Society getting increasingly dubious with their experiments. Look no further than a quest called, "The Forsaken Blight and You: How Not to Die."
- In Xenosaga, Dr. Sellers; one of the games resident Mad Scientists, does this ALL the time.
- In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Wesley Stickler uses this as his justification for underwear theft. More specifically, he stole the "magic panties" used in Trucy Wright's magic trick to see how they worked, only to find there was nothing special about them.
- Double Homework gives the Zeta experiments. They are all unethical and illegal, and none of the test subjects are willing. Plus, these subjects stand to be assassinated if they learn too much about the program and/or experiment, and therefore become liabilities.
- In the True Route of ClockUp's Euphoria, among other things, Kanae literally steals away Nemu from the protagonist. Why? Kanae sees Nemu as a valuable specimen.
- Infinity series:
- Change the word science to magic and you have the motives of essentially every (non main character) magus in the Nasuverse. It's rather telling that the policy of the Magic Association isn't 'Don't kill masses of people for science' but 'Don't get caught killing masses of people for science'.
- In ClockUp's Team Parade's Room No. 9, the two main characters are kidnapped because they have been chosen to participate in a behavioral analysis study.
- It's mentioned in Sickness that in the past Adder Technologies released a supposed "universal vaccine", only to pull it after making a large sum of money claiming it was "a medical trial" that didn't actually work as promised (more than likely an experiment on the placebo effect).
- Chadam asks Viceroy why he kidnapped and hurt the young Ripley, and Viceroy claims he had to, because his research had to continue.
- Homestar Runner seems to think that "saying something smart" involves dressing in a lab coat, holding up a beaker, and shouting, "Science! Science again! I said science again!".
- A more direct example is when Strong Bad is asked by a fan what would happen if someone poked Pom Pom (a character who resembles a giant balloon) with a pin. After attempting said experiment (it didn't end well... for him), he says "It had to be done in the name of science. Or more accurately, because some kid emailed me and told me to."
- Sarge, of Red vs. Blue:
Sarge: Simmons this is no time to chat about your crackpot theories! I'll get the levitation ray! This is a crisis situation. Now to save us all, for science!
- The irony being that whilst he was 'saving them all for science', he was meant to be helping to save Donut, who had seemingly been crushed under a ship... and had just driven away with any tools they required to do this.
- Also from Red vs. Blue, when the alien Crunchbite sees the energy sword in Tucker's hand and proceeds to beat the snot out of him, Church just stands over him saying:
Church: This could give us a clue about how these alien creatures fight... now stay there. For science.
- Also, from an earlier season:
Tucker: I've never heard a grown man ask for so many piggyback rides.
Church: I already told you, that was for science.
- In Accursed Dragon, Doctor Sharpe is seen holding a turtle over a candle to see if it sweats. Why? "Science, my dear. SCIENCE!"
- Bob the Angry Flower does this a lot. From unravelling the universe to see what happens (what happens involves a metal pipe if he tries to push the button), to building a robot designed to love, just for the data.
- Played straight in the Bravoman webcomic here where Dr. Bomb creates Anti-Bravoman for no reason (because SCIENCE, damn it).
- The Cyantian Chronicles: And for art! Why else would Genoworks Exotica genetically engineer people like winged kangaroos, potpourri skunk people and psychic raccoons?
- A flashback in Dresden Codak demonstrates Kimiko's Gadgeteer Genius potential:
Young Kimiko: I must find a thing called "biscuits".... I will do science to it.
- El Goonish Shive Q&A has a team of mad scientists led by Dr. Germahn. The last addition is Chika, who always remembers to "approach everything scientifically", according to herself. This just happens to deflect Liza's mischief back on herself by pure coincidence.
- The pretext for following Evil Diva.
- In Full Frontal Nerdity, Frank invokes this as the rationale for pitching a "truly awful" comic book crossover done by a favorite artist.
- Girl Genius:
- Any and every Spark will have at least some amount of "For Science!" in their nature. While their morality will vary all over the spectrum, this is a unifying characteristic; it even helped hook up one of the Heterodyne boys with the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Mad Scientist Daughter.
"Don't tell me you fear the experiment?"
"I fear the result — but the experiment, why, that is Science!"
"For Science, then!"
- While this shows up the most in the Heterodyne plays, it's quite common off the stage as well. There are several examples where the only explanation a Spark gives for anything is "Oh, but, Science!"
- When Gilgamesh is trying to save Vole from the time stop field, he and Higgs have this exchange:
Gil: We owe it to science to keep captain Vole alive!
Higgs: Um... Don't we owe it to him?
Gil: [Vole punches them] Ow! I'm feeling more charitable towards science at the moment.
- A few strips later, Gil flings open a door half-expecting to find Agatha behind it, revealing a pair of scientists making out. Their attempts to attribute it to this trope falls more under Is That What They're Calling It Now?.
- Any and every Spark will have at least some amount of "For Science!" in their nature. While their morality will vary all over the spectrum, this is a unifying characteristic; it even helped hook up one of the Heterodyne boys with the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Mad Scientist Daughter.
- This strip from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, guest-starring Washu Chan, Oliver Wendell Jones, and Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana.
- Irregular Webcomic! sends up MythBusters's For Science! tendencies on a fairly regular basis. Examples here and with "for science" used here, here, replete with a footnote reference to this very page and here, with the same link. But Nazi science is one step further and Nazi science sneers at TV Tropes.
- The Elegant Nova of Progression of Keychain of Creation is the embodiment of this trope. She performed experiments in a high-fantasy world to make cyborgs, developed a way to SCIENCE!!! herself into (or possibly out of) a giant cat, and owns a Friction Beam. Her Catchphrase is "Science!".
- It's unlikely that many readers of the Slice of Life Sex Comedy Ménage à 3 ever expected to see this trope evoked there. But then, Tatiana needed an excuse to act when under the influence of Gary's inexplicable sex appeal.
- mezzacotta also features many scientists, such as here. Also, the resident Most-Definitely-Not-A-Mad Scientist Scott here.
- Skewered expertly — or something — in Real Life Comics, when Tony tries to help Greg move.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal helpfully points out the versatility of the phrase in this comic.
- Additionally, this strip presents "the fuck not?" as science's answer to "Why?"; in this case, "Why bears with jet packs?"
- Tim Jones of Scary Go Round usually appears relatively sane, but his inventions tend to be unpredictably surreal at best and frighteningly irresponsible at worst. As he puts it while cleaning out the freezer, "It's an empty journey to triumph if you don't plant the seeds of catastrophe along the way."
- A lot of things get done For Science! in Schlock Mercenary, but it's invoked by name in one strip of the Random Access Memorabilia arc, as two scientists blow off work in order to research the effects of television on their nanites. It actually did have an effect, especially when it was turned off...
- Riff in Sluggy Freelance is a mad scientist with awesome inventions who still lives with roommates in on-again off-again lower middle class poverty, all from not being able to make inventions that aren't destructive or useful in day to day life. This is parodied in the strip, to the point that his "Nice Earth" counterpart has won the Nobel Prize for focusing his inventions on peaceful and productive uses. Why he doesn't sell any of his various ray gun designs to the army. Furthermore, he turns out to be working as a freelance mad scientist for the evil Hereti-Corp corporation, which has turned this into a major advantage.
- The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: Isambard Kingdom Brunel at one point convinces Lovelace to return to Babbage and the Difference Engine because without it science would be dull and time-consuming and without flying ironclads or whatever it is Michael Faraday does. She immediately returns with a cry of "FOR SCIENCE!!".
- Unsounded: The Black Tongues claim that everything they do is for the advancement of humanity and those who oppose them are dragging at the heels of progress. This despite the fact the organization is founded on rules that mean none of them are allowed to so much as protest another member's projects and must defend each other and member projects are often horrific, like dissecting babies or killing people just to weigh them before and after to see if a "soul" can be weighed, or the monstrous torture Delicieu did to study souls, memories and their relation to the khert. They also do things like force apprentices into prostitution.
- VG Cats:
- In this strip, a character sets out to get pregnant because "she needs a young child for something." Also to set up a cheap pun.
- According to this strip, the difference between a scientist and a normal person is that a normal person will avoid pulling a lever that has once subjected him to an electric shock, whereas a scientist will experiment to see if it does the same thing every time.
- The Mechanist in Avatar: The Abridged Series. "But I'm doing it FOR SCIENCE!!!"
- Bowen states this trope well in his short summary of Half-Life:
- This is the Catchphrase of Lim the Weaponsmith/Scientist from the MMORPG DragonFable... who is constantly at odds with Cysero, who does things For Magic! and batshit insane experiments that can actually destroy the world (or a large portion of it).
- Parodied in this Onion News clip, where scientists test the adverse health effects of being repeatedly stabbed on monkeys.
- raocow uses "Science" as a Catchphrase when exploring areas of levels in his Let's Plays. Specifically, he says "science" before jumping into potentially deadly pits/spikes/munchkins to check for hidden areas.
- In Saga of Soul, the titular Magical Girl wastes no time using her powers to run scientific experiments — not just on magic itself, but also on chemistry and physics, magically creating Unbihexium.
- Basically the only reason the SCP Foundation keeps any safe-level SCPs around.
- This trope seems to be the only reason that researchers go to the hostile Eldritch Location in The Sick Land.
- Verica Chantil, the Lady of Adventure exiled scientist of the Skies Unbroken, is a lot saner than most examples, but keeping a Blob Monster in a jar kind of counts. If there's an unknown creature to be discovered, she's your enthusiastic woman.
- Dr. Insano of The Spoony Experiment uses "With SCIENCE, of course!" as his Catchphrase, and tends to lean towards the destructive side of scientific research if his orbital death ray and his taking control of Neutro are any indication. Some of his inventions, however, such as the raritanium-powered anti-magic field generator, or getting an Atari Jaguar CD to run, might have peaceful applications. Not that he acknowledges this, as he's quite open about wishing to use them for death, destruction and world conquest. This inevitably carries over into all other series that Dr. Insano makes cameos in, such as Kickassia.
Dr. Insano: Ha! Your super-conductor electromagnetism is no match for SCIENCE!
The Nostalgia Critic: But, it is science!
Dr. Insano: WELL, I'M SCIENCIER!
- Starwalker: The reason Dr. Cirilli created the star step drive. Yes, it allows quicker travel through the universe, but it has the mild side effect of making suns go supernova.
- Void Domain: Devon the demonologist conducts his experiment to transform a human into a demon for the sheer ambition of the goal, and pays no mind to the ethical issues of using children as test subjects. When Eva completes her transformation, he's mostly annoyed that she tainted his data by receiving demonic grafts on the side, and promptly finds a new kid to tinker with.
- Word of God for Worm states that Browbeat triggered after an incident when he walked off the side of a boat into March-temperature water just to find out what it was like.
- The occasional motto of the Minecraft character of Duncan Jones from the Yogscast.
- In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, one-shot villain Dr. Ograbco was determined to recreate the Big Bang and blow holes in the fabric of reality to prove the existence of alternate universe. This nearly gets everyone killed.
- In Adventure Time, many of Princess Bubblegum's experiments have a practical purpose — Lemongrab and Goliad, for example, are attempts to create a successor to rule the Candy Kingdom after her — but at least as many, such as creating the most perfect sandwich in existence, are apparently strictly for this trope.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Whatever motivates Dr. Weird is up for grabs — this one might explain it. Some of it. The saner ones, anyway. In one of the earlier scripts for the first episode, this is what motivates Dr. Weird. You can see it on the first season DVD.
"Now, beat him with the metal rod... FOR SCIENCE!"
- Steve also invokes this phrase, asking if that was Dr. Weird's reason for making love to a lawnmower.
- Hugo Strange from The Batman is solely driven by this. This is most evident in "Strange Minds", where he builds a machine that will let him travel into the Joker's mind to extract the location of a kidnapped detective — and then promptly forgets about the detective and instead spends his time studying Joker's psyche. A later episode even has him curing Ventriloquist, and then driving him right back into insanity as a "test".
- Lampshaded in an episode of Danny Phantom, when Danny asked his dad how much he would get paid for helping out in the lab. "I pay you to mow the lawn. This you'll do for the love of science!"
- Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter leaps out of bed every morning crying, "What a fine day... FOR SCIENCE!". The majority of his experiments have no conceivable practical use, and he seemingly never intends for them to leave his private underground lab in any case. He performs them because, darn it, SCIENCE!
- Stewie on Family Guy seems to have shelved his world domination plans and has not attempted to profit from his time machine, teleportation device, weather control device, mind control goggles, or countless weapons, ray guns, and shrink rays. It seems he develops them purely FOR SCIENCE!
- Futurama: Professor Farnsworth, constantly.
"Good news, everyone! I've invented something crazy! For Science!"
- In Disney's Gargoyles, there may have been commercial applications for the Gargoyle genome, the procedure to create Mutates, or cloning, but Dr. Anton Sevarius only seemed interested in research and experimentation for its own sake. From the Bad Guys comic:
Sevarius: For science, which, as my associate Fang indicated, must ever move forward. Plus, there's the money. And I do so love... THE DRAMA!
- Professor Membrane from Invader Zim. Everything he does is either For Science! or for destroying Santa Claus.
Membrane: [to his daughter] Sorry about imprisoning you and turning you into a media freak, honey. It was in the name of SCIENCE!
Membrane: Build a machine capable of allowing you to enter alternate realities so you can kidnap your brother and trap him in a nightmare of virtual horrors? That sounds awful. Why would I help you do this?
- Dib gets the short end too, in the comic continuation:
Gaz: I dunno, Dad. Science or somethin'.
Membrane: WHAAAAAT?! I'LL DO IT!
- This is how Heloise from Jimmy Two-Shoes tries to justify her more sociopathic tendencies... when she bothers to justify them, anyway.
- Jonny Quest
- In "The Dragons of Ashida" and "Terror Island", the Mad Scientists create giant monsters without any concern for the consequences of their actions.
- A more benign example would be Dr. Quest himself, who always puts himself and his family in danger to investigate the strange, the odd, and the incredible.
- Mr. Cat from Kaeloo sometimes conducts random science experiments on Quack Quack the duck, who he hates, as a way of torturing him. If anyone calls him out on it, he tries to justify it by saying it's "for science". Examples of such experiments are "implosion of a duck in outer space"note .
- Part of Lio and Song Oak's backstory in Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. Both were scientists trying to discover how the mutes came into existence with the intent of reversing the process so that humans could return to the surface. But when they did figure it out, they realized that they couldn't justify stripping the mutes of sentience and society, and decided to hide their findings in favor of finding a different way to make surface living possible. Their boss, Dr. Emilia, refused to consider any other possibility, forcing them to flee.
- In Madeline and the Dinosaur Bone, this is the stated reason why a group of paleontologists is allowed to wreck the garden of the old house, digging a giant mess, and then taking away the dinosaur bone that Genevieve dug up to a museum.
- Played for Laughs in Milo Murphy's Law, with no further context provided:
"I'm beginning to think it might have been a mistake to put a cyborg brain into a wounded grizzly and give it one instruction — destroy man."
- From the original My Little Pony, we have the Gizmonks, two brother and sister monkey gadgeteers. Even they don't know what half their inventions are until they finish and try them.
- Entrapta from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power isn't motivated by good or evil, but by her unbridled scientific curiosity and desire to experiment on... everything. This unfortunately makes it all too easy for Catra to convince her to make a FaceHeel Turn. Once Entrapta gets it in her head that the Rebellion has abandoned her, Catra offering her the chance to do more experiments and work with First Ones tech is all it takes. When Entrapta ends up pulling a HeelFace Turn and returns to the Rebellion, theyre really hesitant to trust her as they know all it takes is the urge to do more experiments to come running back to the other side.
- The Penguins of Madagascar: This is Kowalski's modus operandi, seeing as he's the brains of the outfit.
- This seems to be the motivation behind half of Professor Frink's inventions in The Simpsons.
Grampa Simpson: What the hell is that?
Professor Frink: Why, it's a death ray my good man, behold.
Grampa: Hey, feels warm, kinda nice.
Frink: Well, it's just a prototype — with proper funding I'm confident this little baby could destroy an area the size of New York City.
Grampa: But I want to help people, not kill them!
Frink: Oh, well to be honest, the ray only has evil applications. You know my wife will be happy, she's hated this whole "death ray" thing from day one.
- The Superfriends 1973/74 episode "The Menace of the White Dwarf". In the Backstory, the Mad Scientist Raven was convicted of trying to jar the Earth from its axis, which might have caused the extinction of the entire human race.
Raven: I am a scientist! My experiment dictated that I take that risk!
Judge: A sense of humanity would have bid you not to!
- Superman Theatrical Cartoons: In "The Magnetic Telescope," the not-all-that-evil scientist plans to use the eponymous device to draw a comet down from space, allowing him to examine it closely and carefully at leisure, then send it back into space. This plan puts many lives in great danger — the scientist's most of all. In a subversion, the device works perfectly (an earlier version failed); the danger comes from the police wrecking its power supply. The scientist is still arrested, presumably on charges of depraved indifference.
- An episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) has an unknown villain break into a lab and steal genetically-engineered termites that also eat metal, concrete, and plastic. When April interviews the scientist who made them, she asks just what purpose the termites were supposed to serve besides the obvious destruction, and gets a blank look in response. note
- In the pilot episode of Time Squad, the eponymous squad has to deal with a horde of flesh eating robots created by Eli Whitney (seriously). When Otto asks Whitney why he did this, he replies "I wanted to do something to help mankind". How rampaging flesh eating robots could accomplish that is a question not even Whitney himself could answer...
- All the Sciencebots of Transformers are practically programed to do stupid things FOR SCIENCE. Animated's Perceptor has given up his personality to store more data in his head (his G1 counterpart was just extremely verbose); Wheeljack built five fire-breathing dinosaurs (with not enough brains to tell their heads from their asses) just because he went to a natural history museum, and Starscream tends to clone himself and make others into drones. There was also that monkey Primacron who built Unicron's G1 cartoon-verse body.
- The Venture Bros.:
Sally: What could possibly be more important than your own son?
- Professor Richard Impossible conducted an experiment that blew up in his face. It granted him incredible stretching powers, but left his family with painful and hideous mutations. Not only is he completely unsympathetic to their plight, but he treats them like prisoners most of the time lest they embarrass him. Impossible is a thinly-veiled parody of the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards, who has slipped into this trope from Reed Richards Is Useless more than once. Impossible's crowning moment of For Science comes when confronted by his wife that their son was missing:
- Doctor Venture himself usually does highly unethical science for profit, but sometimes just because he can. One season two episode shows his to do list includes such things as "Spit in God's face". The page pic on Just Think of the Potential! is from the pilot episode, where he believes the "Ooh-Ray" has nothing but peaceful applications, much like Tesla's "Peace Ray" (his character was different in the pilot).
- The famous "physics' rock star" Richard Feynman:
- One day said to his good friend Freeman Dyson that he decided to quit military-related work when he realized that he had enjoyed working on the Manhattan project too much. Feynman and other rockstars were known to work on questions solely for their own amusement and never bother to publish. When others came to them to ask for help with a difficult question, the answer would be "I think that's right." followed by riffling through some papers, confirming that it had already been solved and saying "Yes, that's right." On one occasion a grad student was struggling with a limited case, and was devastated when Feynman rattled off a quick solution to the more general case then demonstrated that it simplified down to the limited case.
- He was known to do this for a purpose, that purpose being the destruction of his grad students. He would look up the topic of a grad student's thesis and solve it himself, before putting it away for the eventuality that the student came to him for help. If they did... well, suffice to say, the idea that the basis of your thesis is so trivial that others can solve it and won't even bother to publish it can be extremely damaging to a human being.
- Isaac Newton was particularly bad about this.
- He deliberately made his Principia Mathematica as obscure as possible so most people couldn't read it, and very nearly didn't publish the crucial third volume out of pique. He started the Principia because people were trying to work out the mathematics of gravitation and had to be convinced to publish it. Then he decided to invent and describe calculus instead. Also, his personal belongings contained vast reams of unpublished work (though a lot of it was For Alchemy rather than For Science).
- Newton's Arithmetica Universalis, a later work on theoretical algebra shows worked examples that skip not one but multiple steps, with Newton openly making the assumption that anyone reading the book was capable of following along. Newton offered a rule for determining the number of imaginary roots of a polynomial equation without proof (no one published a full proof of the rule until 1865, over 150 years after Newton presented it).
- He was also quite happy to play Professor Guinea Pig, for it is alleged that he once inserted a leather needle between his eyeball and the side of his eye-socket to test his eye theory. No permanent damage, apparently. Between having an Ambiguous Disorder and the amount of time he spent inhaling mercury vapours, quite possibly also just to see what would happen, this was a man who really put the "mad" in Mad Scientist.
- Lord Henry Cavendish was a brilliant recluse, painfully shy, who published none of his work. None of his discoveries are credited to him because other people discovered them and did publish.
- Inventor Nikola Tesla claimed to have invented an energy weapon for "peaceful purposes", predating the concept of "Mutually Assured Destruction" by decades. Tesla, however, had at least the sense to market the thing not as a "death" ray but as a "peace ray". But then again, Tesla was insane. The idea behind the Death Ray was somewhat different from Mutually Assured Destruction: As a weapon with effectively unlimited power but limited range, the idea was not that it would be too terrifying for anyone to ever use it, but rather that there would be no point in sending an army to invade someone's city if the defending city could vaporize the army before they got there. Unlike MAD, the death ray did not actually require that the actors involved behave sanely.
- Alfred Nobel originally invented dynamite so that nitroglycerin would be safer to handle for construction purposes such as blowing out tunnels and clearing debris. Soon, people started figuring out how to use it as a weapon. He also turned the Bofors company from mainly producing iron to making cannons and chemicals for firing them. Nobel created the Nobel Prizes when he was falsely reported as dead and his obituary described him as a reprehensible murderer-by-proxy. To contemporary pacifist Baroness Bertha von Suttner, Nobel had this to say:
"Perhaps my factories will put an end to war even sooner than your congresses. On the day when two army corps may mutually annihilate each other in a second, probably all civilized nations will recoil with horror and disband their troops."
- When JFK was asked why America was going to the Moon, he answered "Why not?"
"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
- Mind you, Kennedy also had more practical goals. For one, he wanted to show up the Soviets. For another, America was in a recession at the time, and the space race was a way to create jobs not just for well-educated scientists, but in manufacturing and industry.
- Wernher von Braun, the scientist who worked on JFK's Apollo project had in the past made the V2 missile for the Nazis. Actually, his lifelong ambition was always to go to the moon, but he found himself unable to convince anyone at the time that there was any compelling reason. So, to continue his work, he instead built rockets for the only people who were interested in them at the time, the Nazis, for purely military reasons. When the moon became important and his former For Science reasons actually became practical, people finally did come to him, and made a lot of jokes about his previous employer:
"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department." says Wernher von Braun."Wernherr von Braun: The man who aimed for the stars and hit London instead."
- In his own words (on the subject of the V-2):
"The rocket worked perfectly except for landing on the wrong planet."
- In his own words (on the subject of the V-2):
- One of the most horrifying examples in real life of this is Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi scientist who performed "experiments" at Auschwitz, and had a particular fascination with twins and other "abnormals", who he researched in order to find scientific proof of racial inferiority. He was known to perform amputations and major surgeries without anesthesia, and once sewed two twins together to make artificial Siamese twins. Aushwitz survivor Alex Dekel had this to say of him: "I have never accepted the fact that Mengele himself believed he was doing serious work not from the slipshod way he went about it. He was only exercising his power. Mengele ran a butcher shop major surgeries were performed without anaesthesia. Once, I witnessed a stomach operation Mengele was removing pieces from the stomach, but without any anaesthetic. Another time, it was a heart that was removed, again without anaesthesia. It was horrifying. Mengele was a doctor who became mad because of the power he was given. Nobody ever questioned him why did this one die? Why did that one perish? The patients did not count. He professed to do what he did in the name of science, but it was a madness on his part. He didn't run a laboratory, he ran a butcher's shop."
Mengele was, by comparison, a lightweight famous not so much for being the worst of the worst, but for evading capture. Some of the Nazi medical corps make Mengele look like Doctor Snuggles by comparison. Like one doctor with what can only be called an unhealthy fixation on the female reproductive tract. Let's just say it often involved injections of caustic substances like gasoline and leave it at that.
Then again, he and his Jewish assistants made major breakthroughs in the research of a disease named noma. This disease, which involves hideous facial gangrene, does not exist in the developed Western world anymore, but it still does in Africa. Ah well, at least someone helped them out with it—as we all know, beggars cant be choosers. Many of those Jewish assistants, who were specifically pulled out of the camps' populations for their skills, had two options, work for the doctor or take their chances in the concentration and death camps.
- Japan's Unit 731 did even worse experiments on the Chinese. They injected prisoners with inoculations of disease and cut them open (while still alive, and without anesthesia) to study their effects, froze them in low-temperature chambers to see how long they would live, injected air into their arteries to determine the time until the onset of embolism, and injected horse urine into their kidneys, just for starters.
The head doctor of Unit 731, General Shiro Ishii, was a monster extraordinaire. He was known for having sex with the female prisoners and impregnating them, and when these women later ended up on the operating table, he would cut open their stomachs and use his own babies for the experiments. He received a full pardon in exchange for handing over his research data to the Allies.
- For the time being, the experiments using the Large Hadron Collider will mostly be for satisfying scientific curiosity (namely searching for the hypothetical Higgs boson). Whether any practical use can be made from such a discovery (which would provide insight to the quantum nature of mass) remains to be seen. There are also those who claim that the experiments are unethical, due to the potential for creating miniature black holes which could destroy the planet, but these fears are mostly groundless (REALLY!).
- A lot of theoretical research tend to suit this trope, at least at first. When one asks why special relativity was useful in 1905, or Democritus' concept of atomism in classical Greece, one finds that the greatest practical results came decades or even centuries later. A particular meta-example would be Bacon, whose most noted practical accomplishment was how to create practical accomplishments in research. Or immortality.
- There was a concern that the first atomic bomb tests would trigger nitrogen fusion and ignite the entire atmosphere, wiping out all life on Earth. Teller first brought it up. "In Serber's account, Oppenheimer mentioned it to Arthur Compton, who 'didn't have enough sense to shut up about it. It somehow got into a document that went to Washington' which led to the question being 'never laid to rest'." By the time the test was done, this outcome seemed vanishingly unlikely (nitrogen does not fuse easily). Further discussion here.
- One of the pioneers of head transplants, Robert J. White, appears to have fit this mold perfectly. Even a completely successful transplant would leave someone as a head grotesquely stitched onto someone else's shoulder, with no motor control, severely limiting its practical use.note
- Lasers. Between the laying of the theoretical groundwork after World War I and the first practical uses in the mid to late sixties, lasers were described as "a brilliant solution awaiting a problem". Everyone agreed that stimulated emission of coherent light was fascinating and clever, but no-one had much of an idea of what to do with it in practical terms.
- The Kola Superdeep Borehole, northern Russia. The Soviet government wanted to know what was beneath the surface of the Earth. So they dug a really, really deep hole...
- Carl Sagan harshly criticized Edward Teller for his relentless push to develop the hydrogen bomb. While nuclear fission bombs, such as the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are certainly nothing to be taken lightly, the whole "destroy all life on Earth N times over" model of the modern nuclear arsenal would not have been possible without the hydrogen bomb.
- The experiment/s listed here. Article title? The Radioactive Boy Scout. The Disclaimer similarly shares a For SCIENCE! worldview (emphasis optional):
"If enough people try these dangerous experiments, the government will try to outlaw any sort of legitimate private experiments with radioactivity or possession of any radioactive minerals or materials (thus spoiling all of our fun)."
- Frankly, most private experiments with radioactivity probably count under this trope by definition, as even the mildest radioactive materials of the sort you can find in a high school science lab are an extreme health hazard if improperly stored or handled. Experimenting on such materials with whatever equipment you can find on eBay or improvise from the junk in your garage is likely to Go Horribly Wrong.
- The Tuskegee Study, a study in the early to mid 1900s was one of the longest studies in history, and one of the direct causes for African Americans distrusting doctors. The scientists hired a black doctor to convince poor, mostly illiterate, men with syphilis to participate in the study, promising the volunteers free medical care, a free ride into town (most didn't own cars, so they had to walk to get groceries and stuff), and a free burial when they eventually died (at an old age. The study didn't set out to kill them.). Instead, the men were lied to consistently; for example, they were told that a spinal tap was a special treatment for the disease and that the disease was "bad blood" in their system. The doctors withheld treatment, even once penicillin was discovered as a viable treatment. The worst part? Hundreds suffered while the whole point of the study was to prove that black men suffered from syphilis the same way as white men—it set to prove that everyone was equal. And the US repeated the whole thing with Guatemalans in 1946-48.
- Dr. Lee Stanley of San Quentin Prison did wacky things like implanting animal testicles into human inmates, taking testicles from corpses and trying to implant them in living humans, or just regular forced castrations. What a guy.
- Osakan researchers genetically engineered Mario from bioluminescent bacteria. FOR SCIENCE!
- The Japanese government justifies (or at least attempts to justify) its current ongoing whaling program by saying it's "FOR SCIENCE!" They do publish, for what it's worth. A recent investigation pitted several actual scientists to pore through published whaling "research" papers for a single year. Out of the thousands of papers they were forced to endure, they found less than a dozen that had any scientific relevance whatsoever.
- While nuclear testing was obviously mostly to develop weapons systems (or as a ludicrous dominance display to the other side), every fifth test or so was just to answer the burning questions "What happens if we set off a nuclear bomb while X is also happening?" and "Can we explode this thing?" You have to admire the fifties for their commitment to crazy.
- This is also true for the many other countries that host the Network: the Discovery Channel and related enterprises (such as Discovery Civilization) have dedicated themselves entirely to this. Considering its sheer popularity in some countries, one would think that the whole of said country was like this.
- While not as ethically bankrupt as some of the others, it takes a strange dedication to discovery in order to create the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, chiefly by having yourself stung by as many insects as possible so that you may rank them by the agony experienced
- The Three Christs of Ypsilanti: a psychologist took three schizophrenia patients who believed that they were Jesus and put them in a room together. No reports as to whether they sent in someone dressed as a Roman soldier with some wood, hammer, and nails...
- Interestingly none of the Jesuses wavered in their belief. They simply concluded that the other two were insane.
- As pesticides and herbicides began to grow in popularity, many industrial chemists began inventing chemicals and blindly testing them simply to find a better one. These tests were limited in scope and simplistic as well; if a chemical killed an insect, it was an insecticide, a plant, an herbicide, a man, a chemical weapon. Sometimes these overlapped; the most (in-)famous cases are some of the insecticides developed in interwar Germany, which turned out to be Zyklon-B, Tabun, and Sarin.note Note that most insecticides, even today, are simply mild nerve agentsnote ; the cockroach spray you use to clean out your kitchen cabinets works on the same principles as chemical warfare-grade nerve gas. The refinement and intensification necessary to weaponize them and make them lethal to humans were carried out at least partially for science!
- A positive example: Howard Florey who had an important role in the making of penicillin had this to say about his motives: "People sometimes think that I and the others worked on penicillin because we were interested in suffering humanity. I don't think it ever crossed our minds about suffering humanity. This was an interesting scientific exercise, and because it was of some use in medicine is very gratifying, but this was not the reason that we started working on it."
- Much like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the Monster Study (and the Divided Classroom, to some), the Monkey Drug Trials, the Little Albert experiment, and Harry Harlow's monkey studies have all produced fascinating results - but are all so ethically questionable that some people are uncomfortable using the information they produced.
- Even more infamously, the Stanford Prison Experiment was not completed (six days into the projected two weeks), and was not likely to give valid data (Zimbardo and the guards interfered within days), and was traumatic for everybody involved - but wow, makes for interesting class readings! Milgram's shock tests are also questionable ethically, although they have since been repeated.
- Members of New Jersey Governer's Chris Christie's staff used this as part of their argument for conducting a traffic study that would require closing down two of three toll booth lanes from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge. Turns out that this was just a cover for their take on retribution for the Fort Lee Mayor for not endorsing Christie in a previous election.
- The Golden Fleece Awards are meant to recognize frivolous government spending. Sometimes they target government-funded scientific research that seems to follow this trope. It's also subverted at times since said "frivolous" research occasionally ended up inspiring breakthroughs and new inventions. The people in charge of the Awards don't seem to get that "basic research done to expand human knowledge without regard for practical applications is the sort of science that produces groundbreaking insights."
- James Marion Sims is hailed as the "Father of Gynecology," pioneering the field at a time when there was a societal taboo in the treatment of women's reproductive organs, and his research led to the creation of the vaginal speculum, and a number of treatments and surgeries that would help in recovery after childbirth, as well as other vaginal maladies. Being a physician he established his practice in Alabama in the Antebellum period, and he would often tests his hypotheses of the effectiveness of his treatments on slave women he owned, or had borrowed from other slave owners who wanted them back to work as soon as possible. By all accounts, he performed experimental surgigical procedures on helpless women without the use of anesthesia.
- Going by their demonstration videos, the Turkish construction firm Dahir İnşaat firmly believes in this. A common theme in their videos is that they are trying to automate something just because they think they can, rather than because it's something simple yet time-consuming enough where automation would actually be a good idea. It's also incredibly inconsistent as well; frequently, several incredibly complex steps to their device are fully automated (such as an armed quadcopter which can be discretely transported into an areanote and assemble itself) only for something incredibly simple at the end to require human operation (such as actually loading the ammo belts for that quadcopter). The height of this is probably the "Drive Market", which has machines on one floor dedicated to sorting out all the inventory, only for it to all be dumped together onto a large conveyor belt, at the end of which they need to be re-sorted by hand to be actually put on the shelves.