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"As bright as any Southerner could be, if Albert Einstein tawked lahk thayat, theah wouldn't be no bomb. 'Folks, ah wanna tell yew 'bout newkleer fishin'...'"
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In TV Land, a doctor or scientist is roughly 75% likely to be German or Austrian, complete with thick accent and often an entitled legacy. Increase to 98% for Mad Scientists.

We can probably thank Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein and Wernher von Braun. Many top-notch Jewish scientists from Germany, Austria, and Poland fled Nazi persecution in the pre-war and early-war period. Many more War Criminals attempted to flee to western Germany in the final months of the war to avoid capture and trial (for the various amoral deeds they had done For Science! and for personal gain). This allowed the USA to threaten them with acceptance of eastern European extradition requests (for trial) and offer them free passage to and employment in US government projects (Operation Paperclip). These German-Jewish refugees and ex-Nazis were prominent in many scientific fields during this period, especially The Manhattan Project and US Space Programme. Several wartime theories and inventions designed to aid the war effort, for good or ill, eventually changed how people lived when they were mass-manufactured and sold to the public. This cemented the longstanding trope of foreign geniuses being boons to welcoming societies.

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It's worth noting that Central Europe was a scientific and economic powerhouse in the early 20th century, dominating the physics field. More than a few German scientists were "rehabilitated" by the US strategic rocket and space programs (and a handful by the Soviets), to the point of each side complaining "they have more Germans than we do!"note  For a slightly safer stereotype, consider using a Swede or Norwegian instead, with the same unintelligible theories and outrrageous akksent!

In Russian classical literature set in the 18th and 19th centuries, there's a related trope of the other kind of doctor to be German as indeed was often the case during that period.

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See also All Psychology Is Freudian, which has caused every psychologist to be portrayed as Austrian, and Stupid Jetpack Hitler for when this crosses over with Those Wacky Nazis. If the Nazi scientist has Supernatural Aid, see Ghostapo.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Captain America Comics #1 (1941), young Steve Rogers is given his super-soldier powers by the treatment Dr. Josef Reinstein. In 1981 a story by Roger Stern and John Byrne revealed that "Reinstein's" actual name was Abraham Erskine, but apparently without nullifying earlier stories that he had fled from Nazi Germany. (A Scottish name like "Erskine" would not be impossible for a German, as e. g. a number of Jacobite families settled in Germany since the beginning of the 18th century and stayed there).
  • Tintin:
    • Tintin's recurring nemesis Dr. J. W. Müller (called Mull-Pasha in The Red Sea Sharks) started out as a good example. In his first appearance in The Black Island he is a psychiatrist who uses his private clinic as a cover for his criminal activities.
    • Two of the scientists from the (Nazi-occupation era) Tintin comic book The Shooting Star are "Nordic" scientists, the Swede Erik Björgenskjöld and the German Otto Schulze, but they say little or nothing, so you can't really tell their accents. Most of the members of the expedition however come from "Latin" countries - a Spaniard, a Portuguese and a Frenchmannote . The leader of the expedition, Professor Phostle (Calys in the original French), who comes complete with Einstein Hair, is a French-speaking Belgian. They all have huge foreheads.
    • The engineer Frank Wolff in the two Moon albums may not speak with ah heavy accent, but was inspired by Klaus Fuchs (whose surname means "fox").
    • Flight 714 has Dr. Krollspell working for the Big Bad; he is very much implied to be an old Nazi scientist.
  • Dr. Heinrich Megala from Captain Atom.
  • Baron Werner von Blitzschlag in Avengers: The Initiative, a former Nazi scientist who was specifically added in reference to Wernher von Braun.
  • The evil Dr. Von Richter from Cybersix is an escaped Nazi living in Argentina.
  • In Mastermen #1, the Sivana of Earth-10 is this trope played to the hilt, complete with Funetik Aksent (since English is meant to be a dead language on that Earth), Scary Shiny Glasses, and a black leather trenchcoat and hat.
  • This is the first of Napoleon von Strudel's titles in the Wallace & Gromit comic "Anoraknophobia"; he also has Count and Baron. They're all fake, and he's not even German - his real name is Bert Maudsley, and he hails from the same part of England Wallace does.
  • In "The Frontier Frankenstein" in Tomahawk #103, British troops capture Big Anvil and a German scientist subjects him to a treatment involving "rare African herbs" which causes him to transform into a hulking green-skinned Frankenstein monster at night.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Paula von Gunther was an Austrian scientist who worked for the Nazis when they held her daughter Gerta captive after killing her husband for her initial refusal, but switched sides as soon as Gerta was safe. She helped improve the Amazon's purple healing ray and invented a teleporter among other things once she was working against the Nazis.
  • Kharnov von Kripplor from Danger Girl is a German Mad Scientist working for a Nazi terrorist organization.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a variation, Dr. Hans Zarkov of Flash Gordon is Polish. The original comic never really played up his accent, but every film and TV adaptation has given him a thick Polish accent (except the 2000s Sci-Fi Channel version, which made him American). Most kid viewers probably thought it was a German accent, because of the prevalence of this trope.

    Fan Works 
  • The incarnation of Hugo Strange from Batman: Anarchy for All. He's a respected psychotherapist, hails from Vienna according to a diploma in his office, and his speech has a heavy Funetik Aksent, replacing his W's with V's, Th's with Z's, and hard C's with K's. The authors confirmed writing him like this was a joke on how the canon character is obviously inspired by Sigmund Freud.

    Films — Animated 
  • Professor Zündapp in Cars 2. He's an international criminal mastermind who designs weapons of mass destruction for the lemons, and appearance-wise he wears a giant monocle and speaks with a German accent in condescending tone of voice.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Peter Sellers seems attached to this trope — in What's New Pussycat? he plays a mad, lecherous Viennese psychiatrist. In Lolita, as Clare Quilty, he impersonates a psychiatrist and uses a heavy Germanic accent.
  • This trope might just have been named for one of Sam Jaffe's character's first lines in the 1950s Film Noir heist movie The Asphalt Jungle:
    Dr Riedenschneider: Maybe you've heard of me. The Professor? Or Herr Doktor, maybe.
  • Subverted in the Austin Powers movies. Although Frau Farbissina refers to Dr. Evil as "Herr Doktor", he is not of German or Austrian ancestry (though she is). He was raised by Belgians, though, and they border the Germans...
  • Almost averted by Dr. Emmet Brown of Back to the Future trilogy. As we find out in the third movie, he has German ancestry, the old family name was Von Braun.
  • Dr. Erskine from Captain America: The First Avenger is a benevolent example, working for the Allies on their supersoldier project. His Evil Counterpart Dr. Zola fits the usual portrayal, as he works for the Nazis and then HYDRA, but he actually expresses some regret about what the Red Skull has him do. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he makes a point to correct this, he's actually Swiss . It's also shown that he is in fact genuinely evil, and gleefully tortured/experimented on American soldiers.
  • Dead Alive uses this trope for a one-off scene. The protagonist needs sedatives to deal with a zombie or two. He visits a bald, drooling, sadistic-looking taxidermist in a lab coat whose absurd accent is excused by Rule of Funny. The taxidermist claims not to be a doctor and that he fled the Latvian occupation, when "We were hunted like animals!" When he turns from his shelf, he snags his lab coat on something, and through the tear his Nazi armband is clearly visible.
  • Dr. Strangelove: The eponymous Dr. Strangelove is an ex-Nazi Mad Scientist who became a U.S. operative after the war. He has trouble shaking his old ways, to the point that he adresses the President (played by the same actor) with "Mein Fuehrer". With elements of Morally Ambiguous Doctorate.
  • Professor Littleoldman(emphasis on the "old"), Dr. Richard Thorndyke's old tutor in High Anxiety. German, elderly, and a shrew psychiatrist. Also comes across as Sophisticated as Hell, since his response to Thorndyke giving a feeble excuse not to seek help with his titular anxiety is to bluntly shout "Bullshit!"
  • Dr. Elsa Schneider in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Though more strictly a historian, her knowledge of the Holy Grail’s lore (and seduction of the Jones boys) is crucial to aiding the Nazis in discovering its location. In some respects, she also borrows from the related Mad Scientist trope because of her irrational obsession with possessing the grail, which leads to her untimely demise. During a Literal Cliffhanger, she hangs from Indy with one hand and uses the other to reach for the grail, which she had dropped moments earlier. Indy begs her to stop, but she keeps trying as she can almost grasp it. Indy loses his grip on her gloved hand and she falls to her death.
  • In King of the Zombies, Dr. Sangre speaks with a Germanic accent but is deliberately vague as to where he comes from.
  • Marathon Man, although this one is a dentist.
  • Professor Max Krassman from The Muppet Movie, played by Mel Brooks in full Alter Kocker mode.
    When a German scientist tells you to hold on to your hat, it's not casual conversation. HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT! HAT! HOLD! Good!
  • Drs. Gottlieb and Geizler, the Kaiju-researching duo from Pacific Rim, were both born in Germany though raised in England and America respectively, leading to no such German accent.
  • The Road to Wellville's Dr. Spizvogel, unt seins Handhabung Therapeutic!
  • Dr. Scott from the The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
    • Interestingly enough, Dr. Frank N. Furter himself originally had a German accent in the early days of the stage show. For reasons unknown, the idea was quickly dropped.
  • Subverted in Sherlock Holmes (2009). After Watson is injured in a bomb blast, his girlfriend/soon-to-be fiance Mary goes to him in the hospital, as he is attended by a very German-sounding doctor. However, Mary figures out that the doctor is actually Holmes in disguise.
    • It is actually a much stronger subversion as Holmes' impersonation sounds very French and not German.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow has a passel of German and Austrian Mad Scientists.
  • Invoked in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020). When Sonic self-analyzes his feelings of loneliness at the beginning, he asks questions to himself while mimicking the stereotypical psychologist's Austrian accent.
  • Ashley Kafka from the Spider-Man comics is reimagined as Dr. Kafka in The Amazing Spiderman 2, a madman speaking in German-ish accent who experimented on Electro.
  • Professor Meisenbach in Thank You for Smoking. Implied to be a former Nazi scientist.
  • In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the Decepticon medic, Scalpel, is also known as "Ze Doktor" (and is in fact called only that during the film himself). Of course, weird accents aren't anything new for Transformers.
  • Dr. Carl Mortner, Zorin's personal physician (und kreator?) in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill.
  • Virtual Combat: A scientist working for a corrupt company who invents a way to download their virtual reality sex programs into artificial bodies is clearly Austrian.
  • The "Doctor" (Pleasance) in Watch Out, We're Mad!, a German-born Freudian psychologist who is an extreme parody of this trope.
  • The Wolfman (2010) has a very terrifying sequence set in a European asylum apparently staffed exclusively by this stereotype.
  • Dr. Frederick Frankenstein of Young Frankenstein. He's even called "Herr Doktor" by Frau Blucher.
  • Zonad features one of these as a parody of 50s paranoia movies. The film is set in rural Ireland and it's never explained what the doctor is actually doing there.
  • The Science Hero of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a nuclear physicist played by a Swiss actor, and speaking in the appropriate accent. Ultimately a downplayed trope, since aside from a single line of dialogue referencing "When he first came to this country...", his accent and nationality are never explicitly mentioned.
  • Torture Garden: In "Terror Over Hollywood", Dr. Heim is refugee from Nazi Germany who has been secretly uploading the brains of the Hollywood elite into robot bodies since the 1940s.
  • Planet of the Apes (1968) has a brief reference to a Dr. Otto Hasslein, implied to be one of the astrophysicists involved in the rocket launch program. In the third film in the series, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, we finally meet Dr. Hasslein, and although he looks too young to have been part of Operation Paperclip, his accent - as well as his behaviour - are more than a little Nazi-ish, and he gradually becomes the villain of the movie.

    Literature 
  • Frankenstein is the doctor's name and may be the trope codifier (although in the novel he is Swiss, implied to be Francophonic and doesn't actually receive his doctorate).
  • In Dracula, Professor Van Helsing is actually Dutch, but constantly peppers his English with German. (Yes, Bram Stoker did, in fact, do the research — German was a lingua franca in that area of Europe.)
    • Also, Dutch is a Germanic language closely related to German.
    • And German was the language of science in the 19th century—a (non-German) scientist tossing around German words would be like a musician casually using Italian words.
  • In Unseen Academicals, Mister Nutt does psychotherapy on himself, using a thick Uberwaldian accent when in the doctor persona.
  • Comes up as a sort of Discussed Trope in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Unnatural History. Fitz is annoyed by the Doctor pressuring him to have fun and mentally refers to him as Herr Doctor. There's probably some connection to the fact that Fitz is himself half-German and was picked on for it a lot growing up during World War II.
  • Dr. Martin Hesselius from Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's In a Glass Darkly, the first Occult Detective of literature, is a German physician.
  • The second Anno Dracula book, The Bloody Red Baron, being a Deconstruction Crossover has a number of German Mad Scientists from film and literature, including Professor ten Brinken from the 1911 German novel Alraune and Dr. Caligari from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
  • Justified in Suspicion by Friedrich Dürrenmatt by the fact that the story is set in Switzerland. Dr. Nehle and probably Dr. Edith Marlok are German. Dr. Fritz Emmenberger and Dr. Samuel Hungertobel are Swiss.
  • In The Cosmic Express, the titular teleportation device was recently invented (in 2432) by "Ludwig Von der Valls, the German physicist."
  • MARZENA loves to play with this trope.
    • We have narrator Anika From Bremen, which is really an anglicised version of Anika Von Bremen, although it's unclear whether she is a doctor or not, her description of all things biological and neurological goes so deep that she might as well be. And also bonus points for her seldom bilingual slips.
    • Subverted with Dr. Yoan, he isn't really from Germany or Austria but from Switzerland, and his accent isn't particularly atrocious either.
    • Averted with Private Thomas, he's neither German nor a Doctor, although his name might have been based on Dr. Thomas Starzl, the first doctor to successfully perform a liver transplantation.
  • Lampshaded in The Martian, when Mark Watney wrote a letter to his German crewmate Alex Vogel:
    “Frankly, I suspect you’re a super-villain. You’re a chemist, you have a German accent, you had a base on Mars...what more can there be?”
  • Area 51: Werner von Seeckt is a German physicist whom the US "recruited" as part of Operation Paperclip (he was in the SS, though not a true believer in Nazism). He claims to regret that. Later some other German scientists are introduced who were also recruited the same way, and share a Nazi past (but appear to have been more hard core than him).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
  • One episode of The Honeymooners had a psychologist administer "Ze truth serum" to Norton.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 uses this riff a lot.
  • Dr. Eva Mudlark of The Aquabats! Super Show!
  • Sidney from The Pretender was revealed to be a Nazi test subject, under the 'care' of a German doctor still running loose. The irony is that Sydney is an old man, too, now performing experiments on helpless children himself.
  • Sesame Street has Professor Nucleus von Fission.
  • Even Emergency! got into the act in the episode "Helpful". Character of the week Dr. Elizabeth Varner is a refugee from East Germany working at Rampart Hospital.
  • Pixelface: In Claireparker's game Return to Zombie City, her stepfather is a scientist with a German accent. She remarks that it should come as a surprise to no one that he was the one responsible for releasing the zombie virus.

    Music 
  • "Ich bin der Doktor Eisenbarth" (I am Dr. Ironbeard) is a satirical German folk song that inverts and lampoons the stereotype (with a tip o' the lampshade). The verses consist of Herr Doktor revealing what a completely unqualified quack he is. The song was based on a real-life German quack, Johann Andreas Eisenbarth.
  • Rammstein keyboardist Flake sometimes invokes this in his stage costumes and he's occasionally referred to as "Doktor Flake".

     Puppet Shows 
  • The sesquipedalian Dr Julius Strangepork, science officer of the SS Swinetrek in the "Pigs In Space" sketches on The Muppet Show.

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Crimson Skies had a German scientist to rescue.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons Ravenloft campaign setting, featuring as it did expies of many classic horror characters, of course featured some of these:
    • Dr. Rudolph van Richten, expy of Bram Stoker's Abraham van Helsing.
    • Dr. Victor Mordenheim, expy of Victor Frankenstein and creator of Adam, expy of, well, you know....
  • Twilight Struggle invokes this with the "Captured Nazi Scientists" card, which is playable by either player and grants one free move on the Space Race track.

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • The nurses in Scrapland speak with a German accent.
  • Dr. Fred Edison of Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle may express this trope.
  • Sasha Nein from Psychonauts, of German (or possibly Austrian) descent. He mainly stays in his lab, and performs psychic experiments that can sometimes scare the Whispering Rock campers. He's a pretty benign case, being unwilling to continue experiments if they threaten to harm the kids, and his Mad Scientist tendencies often take a backseat to the superspy elements of his personality.
    Sasha: "If I could get [Raz] into my lab, I'm sure he could withstand more than the others."
  • The Medic from Team Fortress 2. Fellow Medics will even say "Thank you, Herr Doctor!" He had a medical license long ago, but due to an incident involving somehow stealing a patient's skeleton, he lost it. The details in-between are fuzzy, but according to a hidden page that used to be on the website, apparently he faked his death and somehow ended up joining the team, still continuing to practice medicine, and inventing the Medigun. Confirmed not to be a Nazi (that would "be too easy"), but still not entirely sympathetic.
    • The "Loose Canon" comic reveals that the original BLU Medic was the Sigmund Freud.
  • If you crashed in the old fight simulator Stunt Island, a German doctor would promise to have you "Patched up and flying again, tomorrow!"
  • Eric Crack is said he's Germanician (probbably Austiran) of his South Korean origin.
  • Warship Gunner 2 had Doctor Braun, a female scientist who lends the Wilkians a submarine to perform covert ops attacks.
  • Nazi Zombies - Doctor Edward Richtofen, and Doctor Ludwig Maxis, both responsible for the creation of the zombies, are textbook examples of the Trope. Both are German Mad Scientists who have some very major Axe-Crazy moments (Richtofen especially).
  • BioShock's Dr. Tenenbaum. Not only was she a former Nazi scientist (and of Jewish descent even!) she's responsible for the research that created the Little Sisters. However she's trying to fix that.
    • Played straight with Dr. Steinman, trying to be "The Picasso of Plastic Surgery". Picasso, as in the artist known for surrealistic abstract imagery. Do the math.
  • Dr. Wily from the Mega Man (Classic) games.
  • Die Anstalt (The Asylum) - Originally German, of course, but when they translate it into to English, will the previous psychiatrist lose his cool German accent? NIEMALS!!!
  • League of Legends has Heimerdinger, a Gadgeteer Genius whose name definitely invokes this trope.
  • Professor Von Kriplespac from Conker's Bad Fur Day, a weasel scientist that sits in a floating chair.
  • Dr. Stanislaus Braun from Fallout 3, who is the overseer of Vault 112. He keeps the vault dwellers trapped in a virtual reality simulator, keeping them there forever, for his own amusement.
    • Also, Dr. Zimmer, a scientist from the Commonwealth who tasks you with tracking down his escaped android.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has Dr. Ada Straus, a caravan medic who shows an obvious lack of competence ("I need sterile medical supplies", etc.) and is the only Mojave doctor to sell both addictive chems and med. supplies at the same time. A straighter example is Dr. Klein, the head of the Think Tank in Old World Blues.
  • Klingmann from Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within. "People refer to me as Herr Doktor Klingmann here."
    • Klingmann is actually kind of an aversion of the trope. Although he does have the title, he has barely a trace of an accent. Despite his infatuation with the hunting club philosophy, he's not insane either - just unscrupulous enough to trade a few of his wolves.
  • Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars has Herr Hagenmeyer.
  • The Norwegian Professor Ingvar Johanssen of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines was the one responsible for digging up the Ankaran Sarcophagus. His accent is outrageous, though surprisingly realisticnote , for a one-shot stereotype character.
  • The Cybran leader from Supreme Commander, Dr. Gustaf Brackman has suspiciously Germanic name (Swedish actually) although he speaks clear English.
  • Romanian Mad Scientist Dr. Ort-Meyer from the Hitman series, who sounds like a mix of Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price.
  • Several of the scientists in the Half-Life series (Dr. Kleiner, Dr. Rosenberg, Dr. Keller) have German-sounding names, and one is Scandinavian (Dr. Magnusson).
  • The XCOM: Enemy Unknown remake has Dr. Vahlen as your organization's head of R&D. She has a vaguely Germanic accent when speaking Englishnote , and is called upon to act as an interpreter during the turorial, which is set in Germany.
  • Similarly, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified recruited a former Nazi to study Elerium. He even says that Carter could talk to the OSS upon questioning of his nationality.
  • Technician Johann Strauss in Quake IV, named after the Austrian composer.
  • The Mad Doctor in the Epic Mickey games.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has Wilhelm Voigt, known primarily by his colleagues as "Doktor".
  • Angela Ziegler, aka Mercy, of Overwatch is a medic from Switzerland who speaks German, but she's a bit of a pacifist with very weak offensive abilities.
  • Pink Panther's Passport to Peril has Von Schmarty, a Gadgeteer Genius and an ally of Pink Panther throughout most of the game.
  • The scientists in the first Destroy All Humans! are mostly German scientists from German areas such as Peenemünde and Stuttgart, and some talk in a mixture of English and German. As a bonus, their appearance resembles Albert Einstein.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Heinz Wolff
  • Apparently, most doctors in Israel were German Jews some decades ago, when Ephraim Kishon wrote a story using this trope.
  • Subverted with Karl Teodor von und zu Guttenberg, Anette Schavan, Silvana Koch Mehrin, Veronica Saß and Uwe Brinkmann (they cheated in their dissertations and lost their "Doktor"-titles because of that. Shavan did get an honorary degree afterwards, so she can keep her "Frau Doktor" title, even if it becomes just an "Frau Doktor h.c.").

 
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Alternative Title(s): German Scientist, Herr Doctor

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