The Science Hero was once a staple of adventure fiction, overcoming the Evil Sorcerer and awing the superstitious natives with the power of Science! But somewhere between the invention of the Gatling gun and the atomic bomb, fiction-creators deconstructed the archetype to create a new kind of villain: a villain who believes that the conventional scientific community are fools! Needlessly constrained by their petty "morals" and their self-limiting "logic"!
The Mad Scientist fulfills many needs for a story's creator, allowing the Scientist to fit into a wide range of stories. This is a mentally unsound type which allows the story's creator to cover a weak motive or Bond Villain Stupidity with a Hand Wave. This also helps the creator of the story explain why mad scientists kept all their incriminating records and yet don't have a duplicate monster or at least a blueprint lying around. Secondly, they're scientists, which in fiction means they can invent whatever strange device the plot requires. Thirdly, their insistence on weird experiments gives them artistic license to invent those devices. And lastly, a mad scientist is almost certain to violate the Scale of Scientific Sins: expect An Aesop (even if it's a preposterous one.)
The Mad Scientist accumulates certain tropes effortlessly. Gadgeteer Genius and the Mad Scientist Laboratory (or "la-bore-a-tory") are almost obligatory, the scientists conversation is likely to include the phrases For Science! and They Called Me Mad!, and the Labcoat of Science and Medicine (classically, the Howie-style lab coat that buttons diagonally across the chest and has a Mandarin collar) can be expected. Most Mad Scientists are Large Hams: some employ Sesquipedalian Loquacity, while others specialize in the Evil Laugh.
Mad Scientists tend to be freely interdisciplinary — often omnidisciplinary — but some fields of science are especially well-represented.
- Mad Biologists trespass in God's domain, meddling with the bodies of the dead, the genetic makeup of their subjects and the very fabric of life to create horrific monsters, Super Soldiers and misguided attempts at immortality (often defined misguided because the plot says so, or otherwise because they work very, very badly). Inevitably, some or all of their creations will break free and either destroy them or go on a directionless rampage; sometimes, the Mad Biologist will set them free himself, either for revenge or just as a field test. In modern works, they often expand their research to fiddling with super-plagues.
- Mad Chemists are in many ways descended from sketchy alchemists of earlier eras. They often overlap with Mad Biologists to some degree, but tend to lean towards creating Super Serums and deadly toxins, usually either to sell to government programs or to hold a city hostage with by threatening to dump their creations into the water supply. Their laboratories are often richly adorned with Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks.
- Mad Engineers work with machinery first and foremost, creating Killer Robots, Death Rays, Doomsday Devices, armed vehicles of every sort, and occasionally even something practical. They often have an excellent working relationship with evil generals, warlords, and unscrupulous governments, making endless reams of weaponry for employers who don't generally care about petty things like "collateral damage", "moderation", or "war crimes".
Common Mad Scientist archetypes include:
- Absent-Minded Professor
- Dr. Fakenstein: A mad scientist whose name is clearly a reference to Victor Frankenstein from Frankenstein.
- Evilutionary Biologist: The mad scientist's experiment involves improving the human race on his terms.
- Herr Doktor: Mad scientists tend to talk in thick German or Austrian accents.
- Maker of Monsters: Mad scientists who favor biology tend to specialize in creating large, aggressive and poorly controllable creatures.
- Mr. Exposition
- Mr. Fixit
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: A scientist who is knowledgeable in every form of science that the plot requires.
- Professor Guinea Pig: Mad scientist often use themselves as test subjects.
- Robot Master: Mad scientists with a head for robotics often make heavy use of mechanical minions for their plots.
- Sole Surviving Scientist
Common Mad Scientist creations include:
- Applied Phlebotinum
- Bioweapon Beast
- Death Ray
- Doomsday Device
- Frankenstein's Monster
- Genetic Abomination
- Humongous Mecha
- Killer Robot
- Kill Sat
- Monster of the Week
- Time Machine
- Wave-Motion Gun
Other common tropes include:
- Above Good and Evil: Mad scientists will likely consider the importance of their research to outweigh such tawdry concepts as morals and ethics.
- Bald of Evil
- Cold-Blooded Torture
- Creating Life
- Einstein Hair: Nothing says "mad scientist" quite like having hair like Albert Einstein.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Inevitably, a mad scientist's creations will backfire disastrously.
- Hollywood Hacking: Modern mad scientists have the capabilities of exploiting the technologies for their own causes among other reasons.
- The Igor: Mad scientists often have a hunchback or deformed dwarf as an assistant.
- The Madness Place: Mad scientists often lapse into hyper-productive fugue states when working.
- Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Mad scientists are frequently villainous in nature.
- Science-Related Memetic Disorder: The trappings of science portrayed as a psychological compulsion.
- The Spark of Genius: Some scientists' madness is strong enough to warp reality.
- Techno Babble: Mad scientists' explanations of their works often lapse into incompressible jargon.
- Turned Against Their Masters: Inevitably, a mad scientist's creations will turn on their maker.
An increasingly common take on this trope is that Mad Science is a dangerous superpower or even a mental disorder, either hereditary in which case the afflicted may come from a long line of mad scientists, or transmissible through contagious ideas or experiences.
At times scientists will show signs of madness, but remain at least loosely allied with the heroes. In this case they may be somewhat demented smart guys, extremely Eccentric Mentors, Conspiracy Theorists, Professors, Playful Hackers, Psycho Sidekicks, Innocent Prodigies, Genius Ditzes or even Demolitions Experts. These 'tamed' mad scientists are emphatically not 'safer' than their diabolical brethren. If otherwise-(mostly) sane scientists start behaving crazily while they're in the throes of creativity, they're visiting The Madness Place.
If a work has several Mad Scientists, you can expect them to be distinguished by their particular field of interest. While the classic Mad Scientist relies on electronic or mechanical engineering (such as the Robot Master), there are others who become an Evilutionary Biologist, Psycho Psychologist, Sociopathic Soldier, Eco-Terrorist, Mad Bomber or even The Cracker. If a scientist wants to concentrate on ordinary science but is being coerced into producing terrible things, this can be a Reluctant Mad Scientist or even a Kidnapped Scientist.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Visual Novels
- Western Animation
- The Dolls of New Albion features Annabelle McAlistair who's raising up the dead. She brings her school crush Jasper back to life. It turns out he didn't want to be brought back to life and she destroys the Doll.
- Magic: The Gathering: This is a common archetype of Blue-aligned characters, due to the color's association with magic, technology and insanity. This is especially often the case for characters aligned with both Blue and Red (the color of destructive natural phenomena and chaos, a combination that tends to produce mad scientists focused on explosions and unstable technology) or Green (the color of nature and living things, producing a focus on monsters and "perfect lifeforms").
- Ravnica has two guilds who wear different versions of this trope as their hat, the Red/Blue Izzet League and the Green/Blue Simic Combine.
- The Izzet are CloudCuckoolanders who do Science For the Lulz, and favor very creatively applied Magitek, which tends to be very prone to exploding. Their leader, Niv-Mizzet, is a dragon mad scientist.
- The Simic are driven visionaries and Evilutionary Biologists who're in it for the potential and specialize in bio-sculpting, which they use to "improve" the living things of Ravnica.
- Innistrad, as part of its gothic horror theme, houses a lot of direct Frankenstein expies dabbling in the creation of monsters, usually by sitiching corpses together. Named examples include the visionary Ludevic, one of Innistrad's most talented monster-makers, and Stitcher Geralf. Also, we have Laboratory Maniac, who takes the "mad" part more literally than most; in terms of flavor, your library represents your magical knowledge, and running out of cards in your library causes you to lose because you've lost your mind, but the Maniac's ability makes it so that running out of library cards causes you to win instead, so you win by going insane.
- Many of the New Phyrexians can also be described as this — their entire goal is the "compleation" of all living beings, which can be summarized as Cybernetics Eat Your Soul for the entire body. The best example is probably Jin-Gitaxias, leader of the Blue faction.
- Ravnica has two guilds who wear different versions of this trope as their hat, the Red/Blue Izzet League and the Green/Blue Simic Combine.
- Mwahahaha is a "card game of mad scientists and global domination".
- Kozaky and Magical Scientist, two monsters fit this trope. Kozaky isn't a very useful card unless you're using a Human Wave Deck, and Magical Scientist is an illegal card (due to a notorious One-Hit Kill strategy it can use with Catapult Turtle); however, both monsters are featured on the artwork on many Spell and Trap Cards, suggesting that they were involved in the creation of many things in the game that only a Mad Scientist could think up, such as the Koa'ki Meirus.
- Cyborg Doctor seems to fit the bill too, if his appearance is any suggestion, although his effect doesn't seem all-too sinister.
- Lots of them appear in The Far Side.
- There's one strip with a woman telling her friend the story of why her husband is now a half-fly, half-human monster. Outside their home's window is the entrance to a gothic castle.
"So George says 'I'm going over there and telling that guy to shut that equipment off!' So I said: 'George, that guy's a mad scientist. Call the cops. Don't go over there alone.' Well, you know what George did. "
- Another depicts one in the middle of "mad scientist's block".
- Dr. Frankenstein himself (or the Hollywood version at least) appears quite regularly, usually with The Igor and/or Frankenstein's Monster. One memorable cartoon has him and Igor stuck inside the house on a rainy day, with their mother suggesting they should go downstairs and build a monster to pass the time.
- There's one strip with a woman telling her friend the story of why her husband is now a half-fly, half-human monster. Outside their home's window is the entrance to a gothic castle.
- German comic Nick Knatterton once had Professor Bartap, who invents a shaving foam which is also a very effective explosive. Unintentionally. (Comedic version, definitely.)
- Samantha Argus of Safe Havens is a personable, enthusiastic grad student who has unlocked the genetic code. She has the power to transform practically any living creature.
- To Hell and Back: It's implied Barry dabbled in this while he was a member of the League of Assassins.
- Captains Crash (Ducktales 1987 & My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic): Gyro Gearloose, as per his canon. Launchpad was stranded in Equestria by one of his inventions going wrong.
- Child of the Storm: Has the usual example of Doctor Arnim Zola, an AI in (usually) an LMD version of his original body, which as the Head of HYDRA, Lucius Malfoy, observes, makes him look harmless, even contemptible. As Lucius inwardly notes, this is also very much a mistaken impression; Zola's brilliant enough to perfect Extremis, turning it from its MCU variant (superhuman abilities and Healing Factor in exchange for literally explosive volatility) to its 616 variant (able to grant any superpower within ill-defined power limits), and use Jane Foster's research to build a "Nexus Engine" (giant teleporter) for HYDRA's massive vibranium hulled Helicarrier, the Dreadnought — which he can control, all by himself.
- And he learned from Sinister, who is demonstrated to have technology that can hide him from Heimdall, teleport through/manipulate dimensions, to have mastered human cloning, and even hide from Doctor Strange — though that's indicated to be through someone else's assistance.
- Doctor Reynolds in the Smallville arc of the sequel, who approaches this from an alchemists perspective, seeking (and succeeding) in combining science and magic to create what would essentially be distilled magic, which could be taken in liquid form (since magic and life-force are pretty much the same thing, it would boost the drinker's health and immune system). Unfortunately, he starts using Black Magic and darker Sympathetic Magic to get it (by draining Clark, though his journal all but states that Clark isn't the first, and several test subjects died). Since Evil Is Not a Toy, this results in severe Sanity Slippage and an unusual case of This Is Your Brain on Evil (he knows he's gone zooming over the Moral Event Horizon, he just doesn't care).
- Game of Touhou (A Song of Ice and Fire & Touhou Project): Eirin, later, Hisataka Nou, has developed a serum that turns humans into war beasts when searching for a potion of immortality.
- Mythos Effect (CthulhuTech & Mass Effect): Features Herbert West (of Re-Animator fame) employed by the New Earth Federation and actively encouraged in his obscene work. In his one scene so far, he's dissecting a Turian corpse and describing every way he can improve biological weapons to use against them, all with a smile on his face.
- Seventh Endmost Vision has Dr. Lucrecia Valentine, who is a sedate version of this trope, one oriented not around wild scientific discoveries, but around efficiency. A glimpse of her laboratories in Shinra HQ reveal the fundamental difference between her and her canon counterpart, Dr. Hojo; her laboratories actually give the best pay and best hours in Shinra, and it's all focused on incremental improvements which give a guaranteed return. Her calmness in this regard seems to have paid off for her; she's become the fic's equivalent of Weiss the Immaculate, all through her own efforts, making her tremendously dangerous.
- Fallout: Equestria (Fallout & My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic): Twilight also became an amoral Mad Scientist, torturing and killing countless zebra war prisoners and pony political dissidents and subjecting Discord to a Fate Worse than Death in an attempt to create a serum that would transform normal ponies into alicorns. She pays for her misdeeds when her serum manages to mutate Trixie into an Eldritch Abomination that promptly devours her and absorbs her mind.
- Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Alan Jonah and his aptly-named Basement Club cross into this territory with their experimentation on San's old head in the bowels of their Elaborate Underground Base's lower-levels, even performing experiments on humans. Meanwhile, Mariko is a Reluctant Mad Scientist who doesn't enjoy working for Jonah's paramilitary, and she certainly doesn't enjoy being forced to oversee the barbaric experiments being conducted on San and Vivienne Graham.
- Brutal Harry: Hermione's uncle George Granger's reaction to being told that magic exists is mad laughter followed by shouting "THERE WILL BE! SO MUCH SCIENCE!"
- In False Pretences Priscilla Doge makes some aquatic-themed physical modifications to a seventh-year student and keeps him in an aquarium tank in her trunk.
Priscilla: Transfiguration as a subject has been stagnant for nearly two hundred years. My colleagues have grown complacent and refuse to push the boundaries because of self-imposed restrictions, rules, ethics concerns. I've been doing something all of them are too scared to be doing, and my research will revolutionise human Transfiguration as we know it!
- Becoming a True Invader: In addition to Zim, there's his old Vortian colleague Crax, who even he thinks is crazy.
- For the Glory of Irk has Professor Membrane (as per canon) and his new wife Moira. From gifting their son hypercubes that be used for both storage and combat, to weaponizing animals as ammunition for cannons, they will never let morality or common sense stop them from doing things For Science!.
- It's very common to portray Twilight as a completely bonkers Mad Scientist in fan works, though whether or not she is good or evil varies wildly: Steamquestria's Twilight embodies every single mad scientist quirk there is but is still quite nice, loving, and caring (except for one time she "accidentally" made Spike 50ft tall and "accidentally" programmed him to destroy the city), while PONY.MOV's Twilight is only slightly less evil than Discord and Wolflor.
- Ask Brainy Twilight. In an odd play on this trope, she struggled with admitting she was one of these until she made a sapient flaming chainsword for a friend.
- Similarly, Ask Researcher Twilight, although it's more Grimdark sprinkled with Black Comedy. Twilight has gone completely insane, and is hiding from the government after attepting to vivisect Celestia.
- Equestria: A History Revealed: King Sombra was said to have initially been a normal king, with a love of scholarly pursuits. When he stumbles upon dark magic, he still takes a very scholarly, scientific approach, dutifully recording his observations, before he starts to lose his mind. Even when he performs his dark magic experiments, according to the questionable Lemony Narrator, he still felt the need to publish the results of his evil experiments with the rest of the world as a continuation of his science-loving side, and possibly his need for peer-review.
- Great Minds Think Alike: Two of the future villains who time-travelled to the past to defeat Twilight on her coronation day are mad scientists of different sorts. Voyager is an insane cyborg transequine who considers her unnatural melding of flesh and machine to be the next step of equine evolution, intends to force it on Equestria over any objections to her plans, and has an extremely self-important personality and tendency towards gloating and angry ranting. Diachrony is a studiously mundane social scientist, whose plan is to assassinate Twilight and throw society into chaos in order to have interesting social trends and upheavals to study.
"You're a mad... sociologist?" she asked.
A few guards snickered and Diachrony bristled. "As I've said before, Milady," he said testily, "my science may involve studying ponies and critical reasoning with fuzzy data rather than brute-forcing equations and banging atoms together, but that hardly means I'm not a legitimate mad scientist!"
- The Mare Who Once Lived On The Moon: Pinkie Pie gets this. While titled 'TESLA' for some Fun with Acronyms, she does have a worrying enthusiasm for the then-new discoveries of atomic science. And is entirely insane.
- Twilight again ends up in this territory too. Shining Armour has to remind her that some of her plans, innocent to begin with, don't need much to turn into devastating weapons. "You don't mean to but, Twilight, there's stuff here that could change the world, and for a lot of ponies and horses and zebras it wouldn't be for the better."
- In Tealove's Steamy Adventure, Baron Zeppeli is studying eye colors, of all things. He kidnaps Tealove so he can forcibly change her color. His lab assistants are a pair of unicorns, Cherry Pie and Waterfire, who constantly bicker with each other.
- Mad Scientists Anonymous plays with the idea that Dr Nambu along with all the iterations from Battle of the Planets, G-Force: Guardians of Space, ''Eagle Riders" and the OAV version were all "as mad as a box of frogs," and sent them to a meeting of the eponymous support group. It goes about as well as you might expect.
- Wilhuff Tarkin, Hero of the Rebellion has a few examples:
- Raith Sienar is portrayed as an extremely intelligence but morally challenged Gadgeteer Genius, whose main issue with the Imperial Navy deciding to put in mass production the TIE Fighter as it is when it was simply a stripped down and somewhat cramped prototype supposed to simply demonstrate the SIE-TIE's engine potential isn't that it will cost numerous pilot lives, but that it would make him appear a hack fighter designer. And when he finds out one of his ideas will be developed in the Death Star, he doesn't really appreciate but considers that the main engineer is competent a boon. The narration points out that Sienar's loose morals (as long as they don't mess with common sense) are why he's still friends with Wilhuff Tarkin.
- The head designers of the Death Star are this, in their own ways:
- Orson Krennic (project director and main engineer) doesn't really care of the destruction it will cause, only to have his name remembered in history for building the Death Star.
- Galen Erso was forced in... And sabotaged the station so it's vulnerable to a fighter attack, knowing that almost two million people will die, to protect his daughter and avenge his wife. He's also quite giddy when Qwi Xux' team speeds up his job by years, and when Tarkin admits his true allegiances and declares that less than two million dead are a small revenge for being separated by their child he admits they were collateral damage to his real goals (Krennic and Tarkin himself).
- While in Legends she was naive enough to not know the real use of her inventions, here Qwi Xux knows what the Death Star is going to be used for... And still actively collaborates.
- As of this writing Umak Leth and Bevel Lemelisk haven't received characterization yet, but they too don't care about.
- Transformers Meta: Wheeljack reprises his traditional role as this. Appropriately, he has pulled some pretty crazy stunts, and has invented some pretty implausible things, like grenades on a sword.
- Dungeon Keeper Ami: Invoked. Ami's favorite running gag is dressing up in a white lab coat, flipping a large power switch and laughing maniacally; all in good fun.
- Rise of the Chosen: In this Mega Man ZX fanfic, the OC Lateral is the Guardians' resident scientist. 99-percent nutter and 1-percent rational, the people who can put up with her eccentric and scatterbrained personality can be counted on one hand.
- Twilight Sparkle in Pages Of Harmony is very much this, having an entire multi-roomed laboratory to extract the genetic essence of the Elements of Harmony from her friends.
- Virgo Zodiarts/Tachibana/Kunieru Emoto in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades who has not only been treating Sonada and Kijima with Cosmic Energy injections so that they can bring back their lost Horoscopes powers, he also transformed Ryusei into a brainwashed cyborg for reasons still not yet explained.
- In Altered Histories Harry sees a goblin healer called Fangcutter who wears a bloodstained lab coat and possesses some rather dubious instruments, cuts Harry's skull open to remove the scar Horcrux while he's conscious and performs unspecified "experiments" after Harry's finally unconscious due to another medical procedure.
- The Cadanceverse version of Carrot Top is a comedic mad scientist, always seeking new improvements in farming and food development, usually with hilarious results when things go wrong.
- Eugenesis explicitly labels the Guardian droids, each of which has an annoying tendency to be ludicrously overpowered and liable to turn on its creators on a dime, as the creations of Wheeljack.
- The Reactsverse:
- Lucina Reacts: Miriel, in contrast to canon. Among the things she's invented for Ylisse are the steam engine, a device that destroys the clothes of everyone nearby, and a dream-walking device.
- Weiss Reacts: Professor Faust tinkers with dark magic and eldritch monsters for... whatever she actually plans on using them on.
- In Coveralls, Scully is a lot more unhinged than in canon, owning a "knife office", enthusing about lethal poison, and killing a man unprovoked. She also wants to get back to her "scientific achievements".
- Harry and the Shipgirls has Abyssal Research Princess. Experiments on her own subjects, has canonically grafted Abyssal parts onto humans, and planted multiple flesh tumors in the members of her own fleet, making it rather difficult to kill her. Being an Expy of Josef Mengele from the Real Live section, she plays this trope dead seriously.
- That being said, not all of her experiments have worked. She once tried creating Abyssal clones of shipgirls. They were such good clones that they turned on her.
- A Flower's Touch: One chapter covers Aerith's life in the labs under Hojo's care in all its horrific, gory detail.
- Victor Frankenstein from Frankenweenie and the other kids who resurrect their pets. Subverted with the science teacher, who just has a very poor way of explaining himself.
- In Igor mad scientists are like rock stars, and one of the most well known is Dr Schadenfreude. In a subversion, Schadenfreude is actually a fraud (no pun intended). He doesn't have the brains to be an actual Mad Scientist, so he instead uses his Femme Fatale girlfriend to steal other scientists' inventions and claim them as his own. The titular character wants to be a Mad Scientist himself, but Igors are forbidden from doing anything on their own lest they be "recycled". So far, his successes include keeping a functional Brain in a Jar (who can't spell "Brain" right) and making an intelligent rodent immortal, while also giving him a death wish.
- The professor from The Illusionauts. Bonus points for having Doc Brown to provide the voice.
- Syndrome from The Incredibles. Created rocket boots before he hit puberty, as part of a youthful desire to become a crime-fighter. But when his hero told him to back off, he spent more than a decade plotting against all the heroes-in-hiding and killing them off one by one. His ultimate goal is to sell his inventions for profit to make superheroes obsolete, after he'll grow bored of being a "superhero". His hair wasn't the only thing about him that was loco.
- Edna Mode, the Gadgeteer Genius that the heroes turn to when they need a fashionable skintight costume that's also bombproof, laser-resistant and machine washable, is of the 'tame' variety and specializes in textile engineering.
- Strangely enough in Incredibles 2 all actual villains are mad scientist. The Underminer — has a super-drill that digs through rock at high speed, prosthetic limbs with enhanced strength as well as the Screenslaver — hypnotizing others through remotely hacked screens with very fine control of the actions of the victim both have a level of technology at least several decades ahead of the movies setting.
- Dr. Jumba Jookiba from Lilo & Stitch (although he prefers to be called an "Evil Genius"). Actually, his trial is what got the movie going.
- The title alien in Megamind tries to engage in villainy by being a mad scientist, but despite his incredible gadgetry his attempt is more style than substance.
- The scientist from the original movie The Fly (1958) was the inspiration for Dr. Cockroach in Monsters vs. Aliens. Despite what he did to himself, and his lack of mental stability, he is a fairly amicable guy, and is actually one of the good guys.
"I'm not a quack, I'm a mad scientist!"
- Dr. Finklestein from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloweentown's resident wheelchair-bound evil genius. Asides from being the creator of Sally, he also animated reindeer skeletons to pull Jack's sleigh and constructed his own wife to replace Sally.
- The main villain of the Teacher's Pet Finale Movie is a mad scientist named Dr. Ivan Krank, who desires to turn animals into human beings to disprove everyone's assertions that he is a "wacko", even when his initial attempts on an alligator and a mosquito have only resulted in grotesque mutant hybrids. Spot turns to him in hopes that he will help him achieve his desire to become a human boy. While Spot proves to be the first successful human transformation, Dr. Krank transforms him into a human adult rather than a boy and spends the rest of the movie trying to capture Spot when he escapes his lab.
- Most of the traditional image of the Mad Scientist probably derives from various adaptations of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, especially the 1931 movie: "It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!" The original book is wildly different — see Literature.
- The 1931 Frankenstein and other horror films of the time also drew heavily for their portrayals of mad scientists on Rotwang in Fritz Lang's classic 1927 SF film Metropolis. Rotwang, in turn, draws on the Mad Scientist depictions of Frankenstein in nineteenth-century stage melodrama. It's worth pointing out that Rotwang from Metropolis is not only the earlier Trope Maker, but was himself largely inspired by the popularity of the wild-haired, heavily accented Einstein and other "eccentric German physicists" at the time who were upending people's notions of the limits of science in an unsettling manner. They helped inspire the image of the Reluctant Mad Scientist who is obsessed with his research and doesn't really expect it to be misused.
- Attack of the Killer Donuts: John's Uncle Luther is the one who's animation serum lead to the events of the movie. He's introduced testing it on a dead rat, which then comes to life and attacks him, giving him a bite wound on his shoulder.
- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!: Dr. Putrid T. Gangrene qualifies, what with his diabolical plans to conquer the world with giant killer tomatoes, tomatoes turned into people, people turned into tomatoes, etc., etc. Don't call him mad, though. HE IS NOT MAD. A little angry sometimes, but not mad!
- In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark tells Bruce Banner that they need to own up to the fact that they both are mad scientists as his justification for going through with creating the Vision.
- The Back to the Future trilogy has Emmett L. Brown, who is a bit more cuddly than your average Mad Scientist. Then again, this is the man who stole weapons grade plutonium from Libyan terrorists and promised to build them a nuke (he lied).
Dr. Brown: They wanted me to build them a bomb, so I took their plutonium and in turn gave them a shoddy bomb-casing full of used pinball machine parts!
- If that's not enough, he has a good deal of inventions in his garage lab, many of which don't work the way he wanted to. That said, he still has some successful ones, such as a fridge made from huge parts in 1885 Hill Valley or his famous DeLorean time machine which used his swindled plutonium. He also proves to be just as zany when upgrading his Time Machine, giving it a new, more efficient energy converter/reactor and giving it flying circuits in 2015. He even built another time machine out of a steam locomotive!
- Barbarella: Big Bad Durand Durand is a brilliant scientist who prefers using his intellect to make powerful weapons and creative torture and execution devices, and he plans to use the former to take over the universe (he reveals this complete with an Evil Laugh).
- In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Lex Luthor is both a gifted scientist and extremely mad, going so far as to use the knowledge and resources of a Kryptonian ship downed during General Zod's attack on Metropolis and the corpse of Zod himself to do a Dr. Frankenstein and create Doomsday, an almost unstoppable killing machine.
- In Bats, it is revealed that Dr. McCabe created the bats with the specific intention of killing people (rather that is being an accident as he originally claimed). He is killed attempting to communicate with them.
- Black Sheep (2007): Though Astrid Rush is ostensibly trying to create genetically enhanced sheep, she's rather happy to find an instance of a man turning into a weresheep. And there was that thing about leeches.
- Bride of the Monster has Professor Doctor Eric Vornoff who completely lives this trope. He has a Mad Scientist Laboratory, an Igor, an eastern European accent, he wants to prove people who called him mad wrong, he has an Evil Laugh and his plan is to create a race of atomic supermen to conquer the world. He's played by Bela Lugosi after all who chews the scenery a lot.
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: Dr. Caligari is a little bit of this and a little bit of Circus of Fear.
- The Cars That Ate Paris: The Frontier Doctor enjoys lobotomising his patients, and Victorian Herr Doktor Dobbin collects and measures the skulls of criminals like Mad Dog Morgan.
- The Clones of Bruce Lee: Dr. Nai may have been influenced by Thomas Edison; he's a mad scientist who actually has other people do all the inventing for him, such as a vegetation-destroyer, while he wears a business suit and yells at his scientists to invent faster.
- The Creeps: Dr. Winston Berber stole the manuscripts of four classic monsters to place in his device, the "Archetype Inducer", which has the power to bring fictional characters to life in the real world. His plan is to make an army of monsters who will do his bidding.
- The Dam Busters: Barnes Wallis is a Downplayed Mad Scientist who invents the bouncing bomb and perfects its design to enable an attack on major German dams as part of Operation Chastise.
- Day of the Dead (1985). Dr. Matthew Logan, nicknamed "Frankenstein" by the soldiers. He is so obsessed with his work he fails to consider how the soldiers will react to him cutting up their deceased comrades for his experiments.
- In Dracula vs. Frankenstein, wheelchair-bound mad scientist Dr. Durea, the last descendant of the original Dr. Frankenstein, takes to murdering young girls for experimentation in hopes of perfecting a blood serum of his own creation with help from his mute, simple-minded assistant Groton. Durea hopes the serum will heal his crippled legs and cure Groton of his condition.
- Edward Scissorhands: Vincent Price might just be the kindliest Mad Scientist ever. His second-most-impressive creation (after Edward) is a giant cookie-making machine. And he creates Edward with the expressed desire to see if it's possible to make an artificial being with human love. And then amuses both of them with silly poetry later. Aw!
- The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein: Victor Frankenstein (of course), and his nemesis Cagliostro, who is both a Mad Scientist and an Evil Sorcerer. Frankenstein declares that Cagliostro is his equal in the understanding of science.
- Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask has a skit featuring Dr. Bernardo, a mad sex analyst whose experiments include measuring premature ejaculation on a hippopotamus and building a 400-foot diaphragm. ("Contraception for the entire nation at once!") The segment ends with Allen's character battling one of the doctor's creations — a gigantic, disembodied human breast.
- Ex Machina: Nathan is a reclusive and secretive creator of artificial people, who considers himself a god and thinks nothing of destroying them in his sick experiments.
- The Fly (1986): Seth Brundle, but he doesn't start out that way. Prior to his fateful teleportation (an impulsive choice he makes while he's drunk) he's a subversion. He's driven, doesn't have great social skills, and is — well — working on teleportation, but he is a sane man working for the greater good with a clear ethical code. Post-teleportation, a gradual Split-Personality Takeover (plus, at least before he learns what's happening to him, a Drunk with Power feeling) turns him into a straight version of the trope, albeit a sympathetic one — he is desperate to hold back the ruthless, remorseless insect nature that now dwells in him, but he'll use any means necessary to do so.
- Forbidden Planet. Lampshaded by Dr Morbius after demonstrating that Robby the Robot is Three Laws-Compliant, saying that even if he was the proverbial mad scientist of the "tape thrillers", he could not possibly harm anyone with the technology he has. Turns out Morbius has other attributes of a mad scientist like hubris, lack of self-awareness, and a failure to think things through. And of course a beautiful daughter.
- In Frankenstein 1970, Victor von Frankenstein is obsessed with continuing his ancestor's work. He plans to revivify the original Frankenstein Monster, but give it his own face, so the Frankenstein line may continue.
- Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks: His name is Count Frankenstein and he is attempting to revivify the dead. Take a wild guess.
- In Frankenstein Island, Sheila Frankenstein, her husband Dr. Van Helsing, and Dr. Frankenstein all count. The entire island is set up to allow Dr. Frankenstein to continue his blasphemous work from beyond the grave by using Van Helsing as a psychic conduit.
- In The Freakmaker, Professor Nolter is obsessed with creating a race of human/plant hybrids and is kidnapping and experimenting on unwilling victims as of way of achieving this.
- Ghostbusters (2016): Jillian Holtzmann, the one who builds all their gadgets, has no regard for safety procedures, habitually makes new weapons with no discernible purpose (what do they need a laser bear-trap that sends ghosts to Michigan for?), and when Patty shows up with a hearse is excited at the possibility of there being a dead body in the back ("do you know how many uses that could have?") and later paints said hearse white and bolts a siren and a nuclear reactor to the top. While Rowan uses the other Ghostbusters' research to make devices that summon ghosts in an attempt to get revenge at the world.
- Gojira has Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, who invents the Oxygen Destroyer that ultimately kills Godzilla. However, he isn't evil; he's more of a Reluctant Mad Scientist.
- Godzilla vs. Biollante: Dr. Shiragam's experimental fusion of Godzilla's DNA, Rose DNA, and the DNA of his deceased daughter ends up causing the creation of Biollante. He's not evil either, but he's certainly mad with grief over the loss of his daughter.
- Terror of Mechagodzilla has Dr. Mafune, who not only turns his own daughter into a cyborg but he also invents a device that allows him to control the sea monster Titanosaurus.
- Gremlins 2: The New Batch: Doctor Catheter, played to the hilt by Christopher Lee. Interestingly he subverts it later on when he rejects his experiments as immoral, and vows that he will not commit cruel genetic experiments on animals again.
- Doctor Moreau, probably one of the best well-known Mad Scientists in pop culture, appears in several films, most notably Island of Lost Souls (1932) played by Charles Laughton, in The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) played by Burt Lancaster and The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) played by Marlon Brando. In all films is a crazy scientist trying to turn animals into humans.
- Help!: Professor Foot. Lampshaded by John when he says "This is absurd! You're nothing but a trite, hackneyed mad scientist!"
- James Bond occasionally runs into some of these, including in his movie debut. He also works with one, if you consider his Gadgeteer Genius and weapons man Q to be as "mad", given his role involves designing and constructing lethal assassination weapons disguised as ordinary items.
- The villain of the very first official Bond movie is the titular mad scientist Dr. No, half-German half-Chinese genius in Nuclear Physics and an agent of the Nebulous Evil Organization known as S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Bond investigates him after he orders the murder of a fellow British agent who was snooping into his business- toppling American missiles to prove the power of his organization, a task assigned to him due to his unique understanding of nuclear radiation (his weapon of choice in this mission). Bonus points for his more personal motive of wanting revenge on America AND Russia for rejecting him when he offered his services, as well as his experiments accidentally costing him the use of both hands, forcing him to rely on metal hands of his own design.
- Mr. Ling, the Evil Genius and Red Chinese agent working with ''Goldfinger, is a specialist in nuclear fusion and in charge of helping the evil eponymous businessman detonate a nuclear weapon in Fort Knox in an attempt to cripple the American economy and increase the value of his gold supply.
- A View to a Kill: Herr Doktor Carl Mortner is a Mengele-sque eugenicist who conducted a Super Breeding Program in an effort to create the "ideal" soldier for the Nazis. While most experiments failed, the few Designer Babies that survived became highly intelligent but also sociopathic due to the Psycho Serums used. Max Zorin and May Day are the two only suxh surviving "experiment results".
- Dr. Valdo Obruchev in No Time to Die. He conceived Heracles, a devastating mix of Nanomachines and The Plague that spreads via touch and can be programmed to target specific people based on genetics. He gladly accepts working for Lyutsifer Safin and even suggests to use it to wipe out entire ethniticities. Saying the latter out loud ends up being his last mistake.
- Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter has Maria Frankenstein, who experiments on the inhabitants of a Mexican village in an effort to recreate her grandfather's Brain Transplant technique. Her brother Rudolph has the same skills, but is plagued by a pesky conscience.
- Jurassic World: Dr Wu angrily denies the trope when the Indominus rex appears to have Gone Horribly Wrong but we discover there's plenty of justification for it in his case, as he was secretly creating a dinosaur to demonstrate the potential of weaponised hybrids.
- Kiss Me Quick! has Dr. Breedlove who is creating a race of Sexbots and other sex related mad science in his Mad Scientist Laboratory.
- Dr. Laurience in The Man Who Changed His Mind. Already obsessed with the idea of transferring souls between bodies, he descends into full insanity when the scientific community rejects his theories and literally laughs him out of the room.
- The Man with Two Brains: Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr eventually becomes one of these — or, rather, a parody of one:
German Detective: You're playing God!
Michael: Somebody's got to!
- The Mosquito Coast starring Harrison Ford is a non-Science Fiction example. Ford plays an engineer who specializes in refrigeration technology; only problem is, most people already have fridges and air conditioners. So he moves his whole family out to the jungle in the middle of nowhere and builds a giant refrigeration machine just so his talents will be better appreciated. This isn't enough to satisfy his budding megalomania, so he goes on a quest to show a block of ice to some reclusive tribals who have never seen it, presumably so everyone would ooh an ahh over it and him.
- Mystery Men: Dr. Heller is on the side of justice, but definitely not right in the head. Lampshaded when the Bowler criticizes their decision to call on him for help:
The Bowler: See, this is why a mad scientist is generally not preferable to a garden-variety regular scientist.
- In The Neanderthal Man, an anthropologist creates a serum that can temporarily reverse a million years of evolution in order to prove his theory that Neanderthals were smarter than humans. When he tests the serum on himself, he turns into a murderous ape-man.
- Nightwish: The professor eventually takes his students captive to force them to cooperate with his dangerous experiments to investigate ghost activity. He even fatally stabs his assistant in the gut when he threatens to expose what the professor is doing.
- La piel que habito: Dr. Robert is a plastic surgeon who lost his wife in a automobile fire and seeks solace in recreating her appearance on an unwilling victim.
- The Prestige gives you two for one. Nikola Tesla (played by David Bowie) builds a matter duplicator, which one of the two main protagonists (antagonists?) uses to perform an "impossible" magic trick. The scientist is mad (see Real Life below) and so is the magician who uses his device.
- The Princess Bride: While Count Rugen isn't technically a scientist in the modern sense, he does treat torture as a science, having built a complex machine for "sucking the life" from his victims x number of years at a time. After he sucks a year of life out of Wesley he even asks Wesley how it felt, for the sake of his "research".
Rugen (pen poised over paper): And remember: this is for posterity, so... be honest.
- Re-Animator: Dr. Herbert West is driven Faustially to perfect his corpse-resurrecting Re-Agent formula.
- The Return of Swamp Thing: Dr. Rochelle is more interested in causing mutations than researching the key to eternal life like his boss would want him to.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Dr. Frank N. Furter, who is also a Villainous Crossdresser. (Although it's hinted that Furter's "butler" Riff Raff is the one who did most of the actual Mad-Sciencing, with Furter characteristically stealing the credit.)
- In Scanners II: The New Order, Dr. Morse uses his neurological research institute to enslave psychics with his dangerous drugs and use them for Commander Forrester's megalomaniac purposes.
- Sharkenstein: Klaus is a former Nazi scientist who's continued to work on a project from World War II that involved the brain and heart of Frankenstein's Monster. To that end, he made an Artificial Zombie shark out of the body parts of several different sharks, and planned to put the brain and heart in it. His ultimate end goal was to create an army of Frankensharks to sic upon the world.
- Spiders II: Breeding Ground: A mad geneticist named Dr. Grbac is having people kidnapped by the corrupt crew of a cargo transport ship to implant them with Giant Spider eggs. He gets Hoist by His Own Petard.
- The Spiderwick Chronicles has Arthur Spiderwick.
- Wonder Woman (2017): Dr. Poison has dedicated her life to creating new painful and horrific chemical weapons, at least one of which she tested on herself. She is downright giddy when observing people dying under the effects of her creations.
- X-Men Film Series: In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Bolivar Trasks main scientific objective seems to be genocide-via-robot, though he's rather subdued for the archetype.
- Both of the scientists in Project "Ma" are this
- Full Moon Laboratory.
- Doctor Steel is a steampunk themed industrial musician whose look consists of a shaved head, pointy beard, vintage welding goggles and a mad scientist lab coat.
- The Abney Park song "The Secret Life of Dr Calgori" is about a Mad Scientist.
- The Mono Puff song "Poison Flowers" is about a young would-be mad scientist lamenting the beginning of the school year as he will no longer have time to build bombs and death rays, or to write manifestos.
- Jonathan Coulton has at least two: "The Future Soon", about a socially rejected nerd who dreams of becoming a mad scientist in order to get revenge and conquer the world. The other is "Skullcrusher Mountain", which is from the point of view of a mad scientist talking to a woman that his deformed assistant had kidnapped for him to woo. In particular, "Skullcrusher Mountain" is notable for for a line that flirts dangerously with Crowning Moment of Awesome:
I made this half pony, half monkey monster to please you,
But I get the feeling that you don't like it. What's with all the screaming?
You like ponies. You like monkeys. Maybe you don't like monsters so much.
Maybe I used too many monkeys.
Isn't it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?
- "Live" has another one, a Dr. Frankenstein analogue who is trying to create the perfect woman.
- The protagonist in "Broken Bride", a Rock Opera by Ludo
- Professor Elemental is a Dr. Moreau-like Mad Scientist in his song, "Animal Magic".
The myriad wonders of nature it's true
Can be understood fully in my home made zoo
By brain swapping with my cranial cutter
I created my apeish butler
and like any explorer forging new boundaries
I found this astounding and took me an owl beak and wings
grafted to a tortoise shell
and now my Owltoise is doing quite well
No my Chimpangoat's not the prettiest of creatures
my Donkeypede has the silliest of features
my Batraffes do fly into doors
and my Lobsteroos don't like their claws —
but until you've heard the Badgermingo sing
or fed a tiny fish to a baby Marmoquin...
My dear sir or madam you've never lived,
it's an impressive gift — so treasure this...
- The Weird Science theme song by Oingo Boingo is about making a woman. With pot and pans apparently. And... SCIENCE!!
- Most songs made by the EBM group Surgyn run with this theme. Bonus points for the voice clips with the German accented mad scientist. They carry this to their live acts too, often dressing up to evoke a medical fetish.
- The song "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett is narrated by a mad scientist whose monster, late one evening, rises from a slab to perform a new dance, which becomes "the hit of the land" when the scientist throws a party for other monsters.
- Helloween's "Dr. Stein" is about a mad scientist who creates monsters.
- In "Project Distortion" Maika, Gumi, Yohioloid and Mayu sings a Medical Horror, in which Yohioloid is turned into...something For Science!.
- In "Puppet Master: Finest Creation", Luo Tianyi and Yan He sing about a man who continued to perfect her doll, and it's heavily implied that the doll is her daughter.
- The mythical Greek inventor Daedalus may be regarded as an unbuilt predecessor to this trope, what with his artificial wing invention that melts in the sun and kills the impulsive Icarus.
- The god Hephaestus deserves a spot here thanks to his many wacky inventions, some of them fueled by his seething negative emotions, including his trap-throne, which he used to trap his mother, Hera, in revenge for throwing him out of Olympus for being an ugly baby, his trap-sofa, which he used to capture and humiliate Aphrodite and Ares in order to highlight Aphrodite's infidelity, and to further spite Ares, gave Aphrodite's daughter by Ares, Harmonia, a magic necklace cursed to bring tragedy and misfortune to its wearers, while simultaneously keeping them young and beautiful. Harmonia's necklace would have several owners, including Semele, the mother-to-be of Dionysus, and Jocasta, mother and *cough* wife of Oedipus.
- Wayland the Smith from Norse Mythology is a rather similar inventor character. Unlike both Daedalus and Hephaestus, he is consistently depicted as evil and many of his inventions are for random acts of carnage.
- One appears in Monster Bash, working with Igor to reassemble and reawaken Frankenstein's monster.
- One of the race competitors in Stern Pinball's Mustang is a Mad Scientist, possibly as a Shout-Out to Professor Pat Pending from Wacky Races.
- Dr. E. Shock of Strange Science, whose experiment is a "Freaky Friday" Flip between a teen girl and a chimpanzee.
- Fallout Is Dragons has Doctor Javolt. To be clear: Fallout is Dragons is set in the Fallout: Equestria world, wherein the apocalypse was caused by balefire bombs and most technology has magic at its core. Javolt, on the other hand, rejects all magic and actively seeks to create non-magical technology, and apparently replaced his leg and his own eyes with non-magical cybernetic replacements after they were ripped apart in an explosion that also had an impact on his memory.
- Treknologic: Keri talks about experimenting on the crew and the genocide of all tribbles like someone would talk about the weather.
- Kaiju Big Battel's Big Bad is Dr. Cube, who was supposedly a failed Nazi experiment. He revels in being evil and leading his Posse of "giant city-crushing monsters." He's also a lot of KBB fans' favorite character. He also crossed over to CHIKARA, most notably giving UltraMantis Black the Eye of Tyr, a Norse Mythological artifact that can be used to control minds. This would backfire on Mantis three times.
- CHIKARA has Professor Nicodemus, a similarly hammy mad scientist and the manager of The Proteus Wheel (Volgar, Callux the Castigator and Frantik), three huge "science monsters" connected to his failed "Volgar Quotient", which had previously produced Juke Joint Lucas Calhounnote and Jeremy Leary, who had arrived in 2016 with a Greaser gimmick and claiming to have "The Best Hair in Wrestling."
- Parodied on one episode of Dinosaurs: a scientist on TV gives the "They Called Me Mad!" speech before unveiling his latest creation, a giant living squash. When his assistant calls him mad, the scientist calmly agrees, adding that what made him seek revenge is that he's angry-mad, not insane-mad.
- Dr. Bunsen Honeydew of The Muppet Show.
- The Mr. Potato Head Show: Dr. Fruitcake created a Frankenstein-like ham-monster that attacked the rest of the cast, built machines that have exploded when they're supposed to be safe, and gave the other characters real weapons as props while they were doing a spy show.
- The Island Of Doctor Moreau RP: Dr. Nicholas Moreau and Dr. Sabin Duvert.
- The Mad Scientist Wars, uses this trope as its foundation stone. The players are all fans of the Narbonic and its successor, Skin Horse (about a government agency that cleans up after Mad Scientists), so it was only natural.
- Carina Appelbaum from v2 of Open Blue worked in Seran's science corps. She holds a commission as a captain, allowing her to use a ship to scour the ocean for additional 'test subjects'. She carries a Hyper Space Arsenal of mysterious vials that could contain anything from explosives to poison.
- Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine: Deviant science is a known phenomenon, and its practitioners have a distinct tendency for the eccentric. Main character Leonardo de Montreal practices Nightmare Science, which is like deviant science, except more biological. He also happens to be a megalomaniac who lost his innate sense of right and wrong, and made himself a moral prosthetic to replace it.
- The Dark Eye: The druid Archon Megalon is a mad psychologist. He is fascinated by the effects of fear on the human psyche, particularly on crowds, so he tends to cause panic-spreading disasters and upheavals in order to study the reactions. For Science.
- Mad Science is an arcane background, and the Mad Scientist a standard character archetype. It's caused by demons whispering secrets of future technology into the ears of promising inventors, which is as good a reason as any to go insane.
- Its sequel, Hell on Earth, is set in a future where Mad Science brought about the Apocalypse. As a result ( this was the ultimate goal of the demons who caused mad science in the first place, so they stopped 'helping' when it was achieved), traditional mad science mostly stopped working (old devices still work, but no new ones can be created), and was replaced with techno-shamanism and a more Anvilicious source of insanity: "gun spirits".
- Dungeons & Dragons settings — as a rule — don't have scientists of any sort, but when you do find one in a highly magical world, he or she is probably a mad one.
- Dragonlance developed the concept of tinker gnomes, and Spelljammer imported some as they spread from Krynn in their insane space-steamboats. Mad science is their principal business, religion, and means of defense. They're the creators of such creatures as the giant space hamster, the carnivorous giant space hamster, the fire-breathing phase doppelganger giant space hamster or the miniature giant space hamster. And Al-mi'raj ("experiment 72"), known for non-tinker gnomes as "Blink bunny". They tend to build overcomplicated contraptions prone to slapstick malfunction.
- Forgotten Realms has Lantan, the land full of followers of Gond, the patron of invention. A good example is Tinkersdam of Gond, an alchemist who, after far too many accidents involving explosions, was exiled from several cities and ended up in a cave in Tethyr. He made high explosives just for fun, and directed charges at that... but sucked at making time-fuses. He also made pre-ordered weird stuff, like a mask that allowed a sleeping half-elf to pose as an elf in reverie because it did flawlessly fit over his client's face and has quite convincing open and blinking eyes (no magic). He also got some sort of hyper-awareness in his lab — he not only never knocked over anything by accident, but didn't even let a kettle he didn't see boil out. Which may be the main reason why he lived that long. Another example is Nadul DaRoni, gnomish DaVinci expy whose ads appeared in Aurora's Catalogue with a comment "Madman, perhaps; genius, perhaps; annoying, most definitely".
- Greyhawk had some pretty crazy mechanical and semi-magical Schizo Tech made by humans and gnomes alike, the craziest of which—along with wacky stories of the inventors—was collected in 'The Book of Wondrous Inventions' sourcebook (once trampled by Something Awful). Most of it hardly has a place in a sane game, but is sort of funny—that is, as long as The Loonie in your party didn't read it too.
- Ravenloft, being a "Gothic horror" game-setting, makes regular use of this trope, with golem-crafters (Victor Mordenheim, Emil Bollenbach), Mix-and-Match Critter-makers (Frantisek Markov, Vjorn Horstman), Mind-Raping psychiatrists (Daclaud Heinforth, Celeste d'Honaire-Levode), and Woobie-ish crackpots trying to reconstruct their dead loved ones (too many to list). (It also abounds in mad wizards, but that's a different trope.)
- I13 Adventure Pack I, adventure "The Circus of Gandolfo". Gandolfo experiments with bringing dead bodies and body parts to life.
- 3.5 includes a variety of classes or prestige classes that play this straight, mix this with mad wizardry, or are a stand-alone mad wizard.
- Being mad isn't technically a prerequisite for the Artificer class, but try finding someone with an Artificer character playing it any other way.
- Mordain the Fleshweaver is a rogue transmuter wizard who spends his time digging into the lore of the daelkyr. He lives in Droaam, the kingdom of monsters, where the locals carefully avoid his tower — and note that Droaam's locals include a sizeable population of ogres and the heads of state are night hags.
- The entire setting is a playground for some of these. Combine the sorcerer-engineer castes, such as the Twilights, with the Great Curse, and every so often you'll get things like the Beasts of Resplendent Liquid.
- And then we have their Green Sun Prince counterparts, the Defilers. Mad Science is practically a divine domain of their patron, and they combine it with Psychic Powers. Their Abyssal versions, the Daybreaks, tend to fit under here if they're nice.
- Given some of the requirements for creating a Liminal Exalt (someone obsessed with bringing back the dead, or creating life from death, who puts their obsession into practice), it's quite likely a Liminal's creator was one of these.
- The fan made Genius: The Transgression, which is all about Mad Scientists so crazy that they can create stuff that bends the laws of physics. The Catalysts of Geniuses even relate to five mad scientist stereotypes and quotes:
- Grimm; anger and vengeance: "You will pay for what you've done."
- Hoffnung; vision and hope: "We won't have these problems when I Take Over the World!"
- Klagen; loss and sorrow: "No, you fools! You'll doom us all!"
- Neid; banishment and jealousy: "They scoffed at me, they laughed at me, They Called Me Mad!!"
- Staunen; curiosity and amazement: "Oh, the things I have seen..."
- Mage: The Ascension has the Sons/Society of Ether, a Tradition of technomantic mad scientists who see their magick as the ultimate form of True Science (what's really scary is that the Etherites have a faction they call Mad Scientists because of their disregard for ethics). Virtual Adepts and Iteration X also fit this mold. As do the Progenitors. Approaching from the other direction, there are several mages (most common among The Order of Hermes, but it can pop up in any of the more mystic-minded Traditions or Crafts) that approach researching magic with the same level of intensity and lack of ethics.
- In Nomine: Vapula, Prince of Technology, is the archetypal amoral and obsessive tinkerer with things best left alone. Lacking Archangel Jean's Heavenly access to the secrets of the physical universe, he instead works to catch up by experimenting on every soul in sight — literally. He has an excellent relationship with Baal, Prince of the War, who has little trouble finding uses for the endless stream of experimental weapons that comes out of Vapulan laboratories.
- Paranoia: These turn up fairly regularly; many are employed by Friend Computer to invent exciting new weapons and devices for the the player-character Troubleshooters to test. Meanwhile, the Pro Tech secret society is made up of enthusiastic amateurs.
- Pathfinder has the Alchemist class, bomb-chucking, drug-swilling expies of Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde, Herbert West, and Doctor Moreau.
- Of individual note is the nosferatu wizard/alchemist Ramoska Arkminos, met in both the Curse of the Crimson Throne and Carrion Crown adventure paths. He's studying the curse of vampirism in hopes of curing himself, but is perfectly willing to conduct experiments of questionable ethical standing in that pursuit. He's actually a fairly friendly character, perfectly willing to help the PCs out if they can come to an agreement. Rolth Lamm in the former adventure path also qualifies, although he's almost impossible to deal with peacefully.
- Promethean: The Created eventually reveals that most Demiurges are this; overwhelmed by the force of the Divine Fire, they decide it's a perfectly logical course of action to make something new out of a corpse or parts of corpses.
- Pugmire: The White Mice of the Cult of Labo Tor search for Man's 100 Theories by kidnapping people and performing horrific experiments on them. Even other rats want nothing to do with them.
- Rifts: Dr. Desmond Bradford, head of Lone Star, is notable in that his madness doesn't manifest in cackling insanity or hideous cruelty. He conducts his experiments like a good scientist, with controls and careful measures. The problem is that he literally believes he is a god, and as such is above such petty things as "laws" and "morals". Given that Lone Star is a genetics lab, this results in experiments and creations that would utterly horrify the Coalition States if they were ever exposed.
- Spirit of the Century: While it would require all of a normal starting character's available stunts, being one of these from the word go or, failing that, growing into it later is within reach for players in the interwar pulp setting. (Being merely a "weird" scientist capable of creating plausible inventions that are merely ahead of their time by a few decades is slightly cheaper.) Unsurprisingly, this is also a common villain archetype; between the sample characters and the example adventure there are at least two obvious ones...and then there's Doctor Methuselah with his mastery of equation-based "mathematical magic", who may well be something more sinister altogether.
- The Ordo Dracul of Vampire: The Requiem are vampire mad scientists, prone to extremely unethical experimentation to circumvent the weaknesses of their kind. A favorite initiation ritual of theirs is for a new member of the covenant to select a human at random, brutually murder them, and then study all the different ways in which that person's death has changed the world around them; this neatly encapsulates both their methodology and their complete lack of a conscience.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Fabius Bile. His lab coat is made out of human flesh. That about sums up his state of mind.
- Magnus the Red, Daemon Primarch of the Thousand Sons, arguably qualifies for this trope, though he's more of a mad wizard. He's got the reckless pursuit of knowledge, megalomania, production of the odd superweapon, and lead a legion of super soldiers into daemonic corruption.
- Every Mekboy ever. When they aren't building big stompy idols of Gork and Mork, they're building chaotic field artillery or welding big guns onto bigger guns. Its because being the devolved descendants of living weapons made to fight autonomously in the War in Heaven gives them visions and innate understanding of technology that they do this. One shudders to imagine what a full Krork Mekanik was capable of.
- The Ork equivalent to a doctor is a Painboy, who perform all sorts of experiments on their subjects such as replacing damaged limbs with bionics(sometimes they replace the wrong one), or a squig brain transplant. They at least use anesthesia on them in which case they give them a concussion. Orks look at painboyz and decide that their injuries aren't really that bad.
- Mad Doks are nuts even by painboy standards, as they have a large disinterest in anything that doesn't help them in perfecting the art of "serjery" and other Orks legitimately fear (which is an impressive feat) them, except for Meks who are all to happy to have fellow scientists interested in brain-wiring willing (or unwilling) subjects to big stompy walkers.
- The Adeptus Mechanicus tend to get like this as you get further up the chain of command, especially with Masters of the Forge- part Space Marine, part Techno Wizard, all trouble. The Dark Mechanicus are even worse, doing anything in the pursuit of knowledge, the only thing keeping them from being completely corrupted by the Warp in which they reside is the fact that almost all of their bodies have been converted into machines. If building a robotic dinosaur with a plasma cannon for a head and using an ensnared daemon to power it doesn't make you this trope, really, what will?
- Belisarius Cawl is a different type of crazy in comparison to the rest of the Ad-Mech, but it's enough that the organization itself considers him a borderline Heretic due to his relentless focus on innovation and invention rather than salvaging and preservation. The lines he's crossed include salvaging Xenos tech, creating artificial intelligence based on his own mind to back himself up (which alone should have long gotten him torn apart by the Inquisition) and, while assisting Guilliman in creating the Primaris Marines, proposing the use of salvaged Traitor Legion and Lost Legion geneseed to create some more, which he was forbidden to do and got him yelled at quite extensively. Guilliman only continued to work with him because he's the only one radical and crazy enough to work (and pull off) what he wants to do, but he still thinks he's gonna try it anyways. In short, Cawl replaces the usual dogmatic insanity of the Adeptus Mechanicus with pure desire for discovery and innovation no matter the cost, morality or risk, which is more familiar yet terribly rare in the Imperium.
- Dark Eldar Haemonculi, except their "science" is killing and torturing people in all kinds of ridiculously violent, cruel and painful ways, and turning members of their own race (sometimes willingly, sometimes not) into horrid testaments to Body Horror like Wracks and Grotesques. Even the otherwise Always Chaotic Evil Dark Eldar are slightly creeped out by them. When Fabius Bile ended up in their clutches, he impressed them so much with his own twisted genius that they shared notes and let him go.
- The species of Jokaero are basically this trope mixed with monkeys. They are aliens that look orangutans, if orangutans could make just about anything human beings could except impossibly better by magnitudes. This makes them the only source of "digital weapons" in the universe, tiny rings which are actually also one-shot short-range versions of high-powered pistols normally used by military forces among the galaxy. The mad part comes from how they aren't really sentient and all of their creations are created by their need and/or whim so anyone hoping to benefit from their craftsmanship will have to deal with how they can't be ordered around and they'll probably manage to escape no matter how hard you try to pen them in.
- Warhammer: Any Skaven from Clans Skyre, Moulder or Pestilens. They nicely cover all three of the main Mad Scientist archetypes: Moulder are the Frankenstein types, creating a variety of ratlike monsters through breeding, alchemical mutation and stitching subjects with random body parts, weapons and metal plating. Pestilens are the disease merchants, mixing together various toxic goops with the eventual goal of making the perfect plague to unleash on the Overworld. Skyre are the engineers, making Warpstone-shooting gatling guns, cannons that fire green lasers, and giant armoured hamster wheels that throw off green lightning indiscriminately. These three clans then sell their services to all the myriad Warlord ("normal") clans, to aid them in their conquests. For the record, the other "technologically advanced" races have only just invented gunpowder, and most are still on bows and arrows. Although the Dwarfs do have this weird steam-powered gyrocopter. But Dwarfs tend towards sane engineering, in that they have this really conservative engineering guild keeping them from going Skaven. While you do get the occasional young maverick, most of those tend to stop being mavericks as soon as they lose their first limb to an explosion. It's standard for aspiring Dwarf engineers to get kicked out of the guild when they try to invent something new; they usually join the human guild for a while until they refine their prototype to something more reliable and trustworthy. Dwarfs like to maintain their reputation for machines that run like a Swiss watch.
- The Timekeeper attraction at Disney Theme Parks starred a robotic one voiced by Robin Williams.
- Universal's Halloween Horror Nights:
- The Caretaker is a surgeon-cum-mortician who started wondering what made some of his patients pass on despite his best efforts and grew obsessed with the concept of the soul, and started performing gruesome medical procedures first on the corpses from the graveyard, then on homeless people he lured in with the promise of a place to stay.
- Concept art reveals that The Boneyard from 1994 had one doing something to (what was presumably) a corpse in one of the rooms.
- Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream event had one as its very first "Icon", named "Dr. Livingsdoom".
- All the Makuta in BIONICLE, especially Mutran. The Great Beings also qualify.
- The Doctor Dreadful line of toys features the eponymous doctor as its mascot, and encourages kids to become one too by using his lab toys to make the various gross food creations.
- The Monster in My Pocket toyline had a figurine named "Mad Scientist". The original figurine was based more on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but the version used in the 2006 relaunch closer fit the general archetype by depicting him as a bald, hunched over scientist in a labcoat and his bio describing him as not letting anything deter him from using his formula to take over the world.
- Viceroy from Chadam threw himself into studies from an early age and became thirsty for knowledge, and began conducting experiments on dead bodies to understand why he was so different, and began to start killing people for the sake of said experiments...only to eventually start using the living, instead.
- Judging by his voice and mannerisms, the co-host Wizard in DEATH BATTLE! seems to be this. And upon the release of their second Q&A video, it does happen to be the case.
- This is how Duncan Jones and Sjin characterise themselves in the Yogscast Minecraft Series. Both are users of science and use it for somewhat unethical means, with the former using nukes to threaten Rythian into complacency (it doesn't work, since Rythian is having something of a breakdown) and the latter kidnapping Teep for his own evil ends. Both also fought each other in the first Tekkit server, ending in a nuclear detonation that forced everyone to rebuild from scratch.
- Most of the main characters in The Fear Hole are one of these, with the exception of Dan the Janitor. They have a tendency to be, how do you say it... amoral.
- Twilight Sparkle in PONY.MOV. Her last name is eventually revealed to be Mengele.
- Ollie & Scoops has Dr. Toodles, a scientist cat who conducts strange experiments, lives alone in a creepy laboratory building, and has a very Evil Laugh.
- In Brennus, these guys are calles Contrivers. Telling them their creations don't work is a bad idea.
- The main character, her family, and a major part of the cast in Defection counts as this.
- Dr Romanoff in A Grey World fits the trope well, his frustration at bureaucracy of the scientific community leads him to perform secret experiments For Science!
- Mirror World has Syrile, a member of House Dusk who experiments on the humanoid creatures populating Inoptica to perfect the Devoiding process, and to fuel his sadism.
- The Pentagon War, which tries to be serious Hard SF, actually has a character named The Mad Scientist.
- Pretending to Be People features a few:
- Silas Cole, founder of Contention, was a brilliant inventor and a paranoid madman. His wife, Mary, also fits the bill.
- The unnamed spiky-haired scientist working for Marvin Glass displays great skill in cybernetics and genetics.
- Francis Beans is one in training, working under the tutelage of the aforementioned spiky-haired scientist.
- SCP Foundation:
- Most scientists working for the SCP Foundation in the early years of the site, at least before their Characterization Marches On and they started behaving more like actual scientists. Nevertheless, most of the SCPF researchers can be described as being Morally Ambiguous Doctors, given their unethical practices of forcing prison inmates to test out a wide variety of dangerous paranormal objects.
- Dr. Bright may be the maddest of all the SCPF's scientists, if this (joke) article is to be believed, which paints him as a Cloud Cuckoo Lander Psychopathic Manchild who commits all kinds of crazy and evil antics for his own amusement.
- SCP-1760 ("Casket Garden"). Pyotr was a mortician and scientist who carried out experiments regarding long term chemical preservation of human remains, as well as chemically induced reanimation and regeneration of such remains. This is the source of the animated remains that appear in the SCP-1760-16 coffin every six years.
- SF Debris reimagines Captain Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager as one of these, to the point that for the episode "Scientific Method", which involves the Voyager crew being experimented on, has to have a rider that this time it isn't Janeway. Her exploits have included breeding hives of flying tarantulas with a taste for eyeballs, building an emotion bomb, creating a "rape gorilla", rigging the consoles to electrify their users for her own amusement, sending redshirts to their deaths because they serve Mexican food at the funerals, and the creation of something only known as "Kes-kotay".
- "First, it's a mutant, not a monster; second, those chains are unbreakable, and third, I only made one, so if you kill it, that's technically genocide! And technically suicide."
- This Shousetsu Bang*Bang fic has a mad scientist as main character, along with his loyal minion, Scarface.
- Sonny gets Mad Scienced deconstructs this sort of thing by showing it from the perspective of the potential victim. It addresses issues such as funding and why the henchmen would even still work with a lunatic. Turns out they have a "Death Ray clause" in their contract.
- Spectral Shadows has Dr. Penning, who wishes to experiment on Raelian Ommandeer for his own evil gains. And then he also creates The Anthrodroids, which are basically android anthropomorphic animals.
- Tails of the Bounty Hunter has Dr. Vogar Oblingor, a reptilian alien who has anthros transformed into feral, mindless beasts or tries to turn them into Super Soldiers so he can sell them to be used as weapons.
- To Welcome Oblivion has Dr. Lilith Madison, a scientist who had hundreds of innocents kidnapped and experimented on with Eldritch Energy to see what effects it would have on them. Predictably, dozens of the test subjects died horribly.
- Whateley Universe: Tons of them, both at Whateley Academy and in general. The school has two whole categories of of super-scientists, Gadgeteers (ES Pers and Technopaths who instinctively know how to create new things, but only within the bounds of ordinary physics) and Devisors (creators of Applied Phlebotinum that bends the laws of reality). Either type can end up as Mad Scientists, but devisors are far more likely to due to the I Reject Your Reality aspects of their power. A few students have both traits, which tends to makes things dicey. Note that even the crazy ones sometimes make money legitimately, with Gadgeteers being able to get patents and Devisors sometimes being able to sell their one-of-a-kind Devises (for huge fees), so their supertech does have some impact on society, but various other factors ranging from Corrupt Corporate Executives to Fantastic Racism to Chronic Villainy mean that not all do, and plenty regardless of sanity end up as SuperVillains.
- Some Mad Scientist types (as well as other superpowered people) have a form of the "madness as a disease" trope. The universe has an illness called Diedrick's Syndrome that only affects some mutants, and Devisors are one of the two groups most susceptible to it (the other being electrical energizers). Due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters, the person can get paranoid, megalomaniac, etc., and that makes the imbalance worse, so things escalate until finally, said character is insanely screaming about destroying the planet because, say, he originally just lost his car keys.
- Even the ones who don't have Diedrick's tend to slip into The Madness Place quite often, especially when they get a 'Big Idea' which they obsess over, with forgetting to eat or go to sleep just being the more benign consequences that can occur.
- Examples of Mad Scientist students at Whateley Academy include:
- Overclock, who plotted to make a fellow student accidentally kill her teammates in a holographic simulation and drive her permanently insane, all because she ate the last of his favorite breakfast cereal one morning.
- Mega-Death, who chose his Atrocious Alias while " 'dricking out" and unfortunately will never hear the end of it.
- Belphegor, whose arrogance, kleptomania, and cowardice would be enough to qualify him even if he didn't have Deidrick's (which he does).
- Jobe, who, well, he's not mad, exactly, but his Blue-and-Orange Morality means that there's little he won't do, consequences be damned. He planned to turn his first girlfriend into a Drow and bond her to him by ensuring she would only reach orgasm with the first person she has sex with (This serum worked really well when he accidentally injected himself with it). That's not even close to the worst thing Jobe has done, and he's only about fifteen right now. Even the good things he has done are hideous: take his new vaccine for dysentery, which will save thousands of lives every year, and which he made by testing it on unwilling people on his father's island. He regularly gets censured by the United Nations — not the Karedonian government, but Jobe himself.
- Agamemnon Tiberius Vacuum, and his henchman, Dr. Sophocles.
- Daisy Brown: The titular character's father is never seen, but we do know he created Alan, a Body Horror monster that Daisy lives with. A large portion of the drama comes from Daisy trying to find his notes on Alan so that she can deal with him better.
- In DanTDM's Minecraft mod-related videos (e.g. mod showcases and Custom Mod Adventures), both him and Dr Trayaurus, his villager friend, show shades of this — neither of them show any qualms about engaging in morally questionable activities in their experiments/mod showcases, including and not limited to playing around with genetics and cannibalism (yes, really).
- Dr. Crafty has the titular character, who got kicked out of art college and decided to start a YouTube series to (somehow) Take Over the World.
- The title character of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is very obviously drawn from this trope's clichés. With a few tweaks.
- Dr. Griffin from KateModern is a former mad scientist.
- The League of S.T.E.A.M.'s Crackitus Potts and Professor Jager may qualify.
- Left POOR Dead: Dr. Robert Smedley
- Adam appears as a parody of a mad scientist in Episode 9 of Maddison Atkins.
- The Metaverse ...hoo boy...
- Speaking of The Nostalgia Chick, she is constantly running into the sociopathic Dr. Tease, and her beleagured companion, Dr. Block. A sign of genuine danger in To Boldly Flee is Tease acting like an actual scientist would in one scene. Also, neither of them have real degrees.
- A recurring antagonist-type on 7-Second Riddles, sometimes attempting to experiment on the protagonist, other times working with dangerous AI, or generally acting as an obstacle.
- The Spoony Experiment:
- Dr. Insano. His background is unknown, and he plans to take over the world WITH SCIENCE!!! He's Linkara's archenemy, and killed Spoony at one point. He also won the 2008 presidential election without making any attempt to hide his identity. And he made an Atari Jaguar CD work long enough for Spoony to play through the game.
- He has used SCIENCE! to create a "son" though instead of a monster the Son of Insano is a cute pink fuzzy ball. Who wants to help daddy take over the work and knocked out Tidus.
- He also undid all his previous Villain Decay in more recent appearances.
- Since Linkara didn;t want to have to keep getting Spoony for cameos, he created the alternate universe Dr. Linksano, who is this but a little softer (he can be placated with a holodeck to play out ruling the world on, Dr. Insano cannot.)
- It was a shame he didn't make a cameo in The Nostalgia Chick's video of Hollywood Science, which talked about this trope in detail.
- styropyro is this, with his channel description giving his profession as 'Professional Mad Scientist.' This amounts to creating extremely overpowered lasers, electrical experiments, and various crazy experiments. By his own admission, most of his inventions should never exist, but because they're cool. Despite this, he does take safety seriously.
- Herr Doktor Innis du par Nachteltaffen, one of the drop-in characters on Warning! Readers Advisory!.
- Isaac Newton, of all people. Throughout his life he placed more emphasis on the occult than science, considering his groundbreaking work to be only a minor achievement. He spent a considerable amount of time on biblical research and attempted to prove that the world would not end before 2060. He went mad at one point and accused philosopher John Locke of sending women to distract him from his divine mission. It's suspected that the mercury he used in his experiments caused brain damage and caused this episode. He once slipped a leather needle between his eye and eye socket "to test his eye theory". Thankfully, there were no lasting injuries, but you have to ask...why?
- Nikola Tesla:
- Tesla is the man who might have given creation to the whole trope: He built a Teleforce Death Ray. If that's not mad science, we don't know what is.
- How about harnessing the world's biggest waterfall to power a city, producing 150-foot lightning bolts from his ominous mountain laboratory in Colorado, and plotting to broadcast free power to the world from the Wardenclyffe Tower?
- Or, alternatively, how about that he had OCD and synesthesia, had flashbacks to his brother's death whenever he was stressed, and, in his later years, would talk to pigeons and mail letters to Samuel Clemens...who'd been dead for decades? He was definitely a psychologically-troubled member of the science profession, even if he hadn't been a Mad Scientist.
- Albert Einstein and the German nuclear physicists heavily influenced early Mad Scientists like Rotwang in the late 1920s. Crucial to the popularity of these "eccentric German physicists" was how they rehabilitated the image of scientists as logic driven pacifists in the wake of WWI, at a time when both war and Germans were intensely unpopular. (Einstein, with his characteristic wild hairdo, became the first scientific superstar and the first Popular Geek, helping spawn the concept of a Reluctant Mad Scientist whose inventions are inevitably misused.)
- The infamous Nazi scientist Josef Mengele, AKA "the Angel of Death". It's not unheard of to think that his name was pronounced "Mangle", given what he did to the prisoners of Auschwitz (which included among other activities, unnecesary amputations, injecting toxic substances into victim's bodies, and ripping out healthy teeth for study). Mengele was primarily an anthropologist (he was a PhD/MD) and while not an incompetent one, used his experience to advance Nazi racial theories and led him to commit many of his atrocities in an effort to prove their supposed validity.
- In a similar vein, the Japanese scientists of Unit 731 led by Surgeon General Shiro Ishii performed experiments on POWs and civilains during World War II and the Second Sino-Japanese War. Their experiemts ran the gamut, from frostbite experiments to live dissection, but their most infamous activities came from testing biological and chemical weapons on live subjects before their usage in battle. (Ironically, when Shiro Ishii traded Unit 731's results to the U.S. in exchange for amnesty after the war, the U.S. discovered that their equivalent research programs were more advanced, despite having been conducted without the "benefit" of mad science.)
- The scientists behind MKULTRA studied various methods to use in mind control experiments, with the most prominent of these being drugging unwitting participants with psychoactive substances such as LSD. Notably, documents collected from Unit 731 and Nazi war criminals were used as a base from which MKULTRA researches drew from in their experiments.
- Henry Murray was a psychologist who conducted psychologically damaging social experiments on students of Harvard University, in which they were subjected to intense verbal abuse to test their responses to extreme stress. Murray also supervised the research of psychologist Timothy Leary into psychoactive substances, and is theorized by multiple experts to have been involved with MKULTRA. One of Murray's victims was 17-year-old Ted Kaczynski, better known as The Unabomber.
- Kaczynski himself could qualify, as he was a brilliant mathematician who earned his Ph.D. before starting his life of crime. After retiring from academics he attempted to live in the wilderness but snapped and became an Eco-Terrorist in response to witnessing deforestation near his cabin. He then successfully managed to evade the authorities throughout his 18-year bombing campaign, utilizing increasingly sophisticated explosives, until his brother David recognized his writing style and turned him in following the publication of his manifesto. After his arrest, Ted was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia which was likely exacerbated by Murray's experiments. Kaczynski was diagnosed with terminal cancer in late 2021, but at the moment continues to communicate with the public through letters, seeking successors to his Villainous Legacy.
- Austrian-American psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich, whose work on human sexuality led him to "discover" Orgone Energy, an omnipresent cosmic lifeforce that was generated (among other things) by orgasm. He sold Orgone Accumulators and built Orgone-powered "Cloudbusters" which could supposedly make it rain, and ended up being shut down by the Food And Drug Administration for selling lunatic medical devices that didn't work. Another version of the story has government agents smashing his laboratory and burning his books because the "effectiveness" of his work offended the country's puritanical values. He even had minions, and his followers continue his work to this day at his house in Rangeley, Maine.
- Psychologist Harry Harlow was infamous for his experiments on monkeys to simulate the effects of Parental Neglect, possibly as a result of his own parents and a desire to prevent more children from suffering as he did. He was a Large Ham as well, utilizing dramatically-named devices like the "rape rack", "iron maidens", and the "pit of despair". As horrible as it all sounds, his work formed the foundation of what we know today about cognitive development. Harlow knew that in order to understand the human heart, he had to break it (or in this case, one similar to it) and was often criticized by other scientists for using the term "love".
- Aforementioned webcomic Casey and Andy twice had the "Casey And Andy Mad Science Award" for examples of Mad Science in real life. Both times, NASA won: in 2004 for the Genesis Probe and again in 2005 for the Deep Impact space mission. It also appears to have been awarded to the Mythbusters, at least in their early episodes.
- Alexander Bogdanov — Russian-Soviet biologist, science fiction writer, Communist revolutionary, economist and possibly a real-life Vampire Wannabe. He is renowned for his saner moments such as creating an early precursor to systems theory, but Bogdanov was much more (in)famous for his obsessive experimenting with blood. He believed that treatment and transfusion of young blood to old people was the way to reverse aging, cure diseases and achieve immortality. Even among early Bolsheviks who were a quite eccentric and innovative bunch, he stood out. He died during a blood transfusion experiment on himself in 1929, just in time to avoid being executed along with other Old Bolsheviks in The Great Purge.
- Surprisingly, Bogdanov wasn't the first or last scientist to experiment with blood in this manner, as German physician Andreas Libavius allegedly performed a similar experiment in 1615 and experiments to treat Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease in the elderly using proteins found in young people's blood plasma are currently ongoing.
- Thomas Edison:
- He is often portrayed in popular fiction as an evil mad scientist — not because of his scientific skills, but because of his vicious business acumen. He ran a sort of 'idea farm' at Menlo Park and recruited down-on-their-luck inventors to hammer out new devices, allegedly taking the credit (and patent rights) for many of them with or without some of his own input in exchange for financial support and a place to work. Critics claim he didn't always pay what he promised, with Tesla's case being just the most famous.
- Plus, he electrocuted an elephant to scare people against Alternating Current, which his rival's power company used. He possibly invented the Electric Chair to scare people against Alternating Current!
- Edison also paid gangs of minions with clubs to smash up early movie theaters and beat the projectionists because they weren't using Edison Brand Projectors.
- DARPA, the US Government's official program to fund Mad Science. Their only mission is "radical innovation". They fund all sorts of seemingly off the wall projects. Among their successes are night-vision goggles, GPS, a little thing called the Internet, and self-driving cars.
- There is a real life psychological diagnosis known as "Mad Scientist Syndrome", so named because it tends to be a case of actually believing (some wacky event) such as alien invasion, or collapse of the world economy, will "Show them all that I was right!"
- Yet another article from Cracked about the dangers of science here. Surprisingly, Josef Mengele didn't get mentioned. Perhaps the Cracked writers didn't want to dedicate an entry to a guy whose idea of "science" was torturing helpless prisoners for kicks. Seanbaby's article about exploring the depths of the human mind with The Sims 3 pokes at the whole Nazi scientist thing. Why, without ethics, he says, scientific knowledge increased by leaps and bounds! But then World War II ended and the Nazis that were left were forced to treat Jews, gypsies, and assorted other non-Aryans like human beings again, and that all stopped. So isn't it wonderful now that EA has created a people simulator we can use for the same thing?
- Heston Blumenthal specialises in using scientific study to create tastier food (or, to use the specialist term, molecular gastronomy), his restaurant is currently number two in the world. A quick look at the menu will tell you why he's earnt a place of honour on this list. As will a quick look at him in his kitchen. Scientist-looking chef whites, Bald of Evil, frothing beakers of liquid nitrogen and dry ice... the only thing stopping him being a classic mad scientist is that he hasn't actually killed anyone yet. (Well, that, and the fact that he's actually this kind of giggly guy with a childlike love of messing with people's expectations and bringing them massive hits of nostalgia.)
- Buckminster Fuller. He invented many things, few of which saw much use. He made up words by dicing up other words and sticking the parts together. He slept two hours a day, spread across four 30-minute naps, for two years. He kept a diary of his entire life, updating it every 15 minutes and including a family history, newspaper clippings, sketches, and copies of all bills and correspondence. From 1915 to 1983. He was still very influential, however. One invention of his that really did take off is the geodesic dome, one of the most efficient ways of enclosing space ever devised, most famously used for EPCOT at Disney World. Also, when a weird class of carbon nanoparticles was discovered that had a geodesic shape, what did they call them? Buckyballs! Or buckminsterfullerene, if you want to be technical.
- Jack Parsons — One of the men that helped refine the jet engine and allow for space flight. He was also a disciple of Aleister Crowley, and teamed up with none other than L. Ron Hubbard. Their attempt was to summon a goddess which would help the new aeon bloom into one of free love and peace rather than war — something which made even Crowley wonder what these nitwits were up to. At one point an angered Parsons is said to have summoned a hurricane against Hubbard. Parsons saw no differentiation between science and magic and died when his lab exploded.
- Edward Teller, the inventor of the hydrogen bomb, who pushed like crazy to get the U.S. government to build it and openly advocated nuking the U.S.S.R. Also advocated using a nuke to excavate a harbor in Alaska, and building a tunnel across America using nukes to do the mining. Once used a nuclear test to light his cigar (a man could get cancer doing a thing like that.note ). He was also the main push behind the Excalibur system — a nuclear bomb pumped gamma/x-ray laser. An advanced version could fire at hundreds of targets simultaneously. While the principle works, SDI as a whole was doomed to sink long before they dealt with inevitable technical problems, including independently aiming a hundred lasing wires.
- There exists another... Troy Hurtubise, a Canadian backyard inventor, who has invented little things like fire-paste, a grey clay-like material that can withstand blow-torch-grade heat directly for up to 10 minutes. How did he test this? By placing a mask of it over his own face! (What? How else would you do it?) He also invented a viable power armour system that sprang up as an offshoot of his bear fighting armour. The kicker? He invented all of this virtually on his own time and resources.
- David Hahn, a/k/a The Radioactive Boy Scout, a 17 year old who attempted to build a homemade breeder nuclear reactor.
- Harry Grindell Matthews, an American scientist who claimed to have built a death ray.
- Jane Toppan, a nursing student turned serial killer. She would dose patients with morphine and atropine to see what it would do to their nervous systems, climb in bed with them, and hold them as they died. She also claimed to get a sexual thrill from her murders.
- Some of these keep a lower profile, remaining content with experimenting with some of the nastiest compounds imaginable, and making scientific papers about it. One name that always seems to come up, however, is that of Thomas M. Klapötke. Let's just say that you basically have to wear body armor if you want to come anywhere near whichever lab he's in.
- John Haldane, the man the WWI British government turned to in order to get a gas mask designed to protect their soldiers from German gas. He had worked down the mines of Scotland, so he was used to higher-ups issuing crap kit they'd never have to use themselves. He was determined that that would not happen in this case — so he tested chlorine gas on himself. In his own house. With his daughter instructed to break down the door and rescue him if he didn't knock back. Bad. Fucking. Ass.
"Haldane was a great self-experimenter — he thought the human organism was the best animal to experiment on because it could report on what it was experiencing."
- Gabriel Kron, the brilliant Hungarian engineer responsible for diving deep into diakoptics and related esoterica related to electrical machinery, a poster child for the over-unity/weird science crowd, and a forgotten hero/misunderstood genius of 20th century science. Introduced the term "Phase Creep" to describe spooky relativistic effects caused by large, spinning motors (a problem of which General Electric hired him to resolve). No more time travel problems here!
- CERN was accused of this trope before the Hadron Supercollider came online, complete with protests fueled by a dodgy understanding of physics that feared thing would generate mini black holes that would grow and consume Earth. Seems Earth is still here.
- William Moulton Marston: Co-inventor of the lie detector, the blood pressure cuff, and Wonder Woman comics. Definitely brilliant, definitely off his gourd. His lived in a happy polyamorous triad with his wife and their partner/research assistant, and argued in scientific journals about the inherent superiority of women and that the path to a more loving and just world could be achieved through proper application of BDSM. He was also surprisingly savvy about dealing with DC Comics; while most creators surrendered their characters for a one-time payment, Dr. Marston arranged a deal that more or less leased Wonder Woman to the company, with a share of the goods going to his estate for the care of his wives and children, a deal that lasted at least until Olive Byrne's (the last surviving member of the triad) death in the Eighties.
- Hideo Murai was the head scientist of the Aum Shinrikyo Apocalypse Cult Far East Asian Terrorists that became known for the Tokyo sarin attacks. He was totally dedicated to the group and its leader, and worked on both the actual weapons and technology handled and developed by the group and on the completely nutty ideas proposed by the guru.
- Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov was a Russian biologist who developed modern systems of livestock artificial insemination, creating a program that allowed Tsarist Russia, and later the Soviet Union, to produce animals in large numbers. He was also obsessed with using artificial insemination to create animal crossbreeds, including failed attempts to transplant human semen into a chimpanzee.
- David Jones invoked the trope for fun. He had a long-standing column for British science mag "Nature" where he, in his persona "Daedalus", presented one wacky invention after another, and you never could be sure if it would work nevertheless.
- Elon Musk has reached Memetic Badass status for his mad sciencing, having built and sold a (not a) flamethrower for the hell of it and shooting his car into space just to prove what the Space-X rocket was capable of. And this is only a few specific examples. A common joke is he's allowed to do what he wants out of fear he'll turn into The Green Goblin if anyone tries to stop him. Granted Musk isn't directly involved in most of the research and inventions conducted by his companies and is more of a mad "investor" than a scientist, but the internet simply doesn't care.
- Anonymous is a Hacker Collective of Mad Scientists who are infamous for various cyber crimes such as DDOS attacks on governments and corporations, targeting controversial groups such as terrorists and cults, and disrupting the mainstream media they disapprove of. Of course, they claim to be Well Intentioned Extremists who wanted to bring down corporate tyranny and incompetent governances for good, but many internet users would disagree.
- Dr. John Kellogg of the Kellogg's corn flakes fame. Not only did he think masturbation was extremely dangerous, he even specifically invented corn flakes as a way to lower people's sex drives and helped popularize male circumcision in America for similar reasons, as well as prescribing bizarre treatments such as yogurt enemas for other ailments.
- B.F Skinner, of the Skinner box fame. He even argued that personal freedom and autonomy were bad things and that people in charge should use "behavior modification" to make people do what they want.
- Michael Reeves is a YouTube engineer, programmer and all-around crackhead. He's well known for his absurd number of tasers and his obsession with killing sea turtles by shoving plastic straws up their nose, and has invented revolutionary devices like a microwave powered by screaming, a Roomba that curses whenever it bumps into things, and Trigger Me Elmo, the world's first race detecting toy. Michael himself has admitted that while everybody else with skills like his is trying to make the world a better place, he's just trying to be the best Jimmy Neutron he can be.
- Joseph Konopka, better known as Dr. Ch@os, was a Child Prodigy computer system administrator from Wisconsin who one day decided that Good Is Boring.
- After spending ten months in prison for various acts of vandalism to alleviate said boredom at the age of 19, he started his own hacking group called the "Realm of Ch@os", with one of his former underlings later being arrested after using what he learned from his tutelage to successfully hack into the United States Department of Defense. Konopka was known to routinely sabotage electrical substations and power pylons to cause power surges across entire towns, a feat that would easily result in electrocution without expert knowledge. He and his group would also sell pirated software, hijack radio broadcasts, perform arson, damage the computer systems of Internet service providers, and disabled an air traffic control system, causing $800,000 worth of damage across 13 Wisconsin counties over the course of the late '90s. Konopka would allegedly use threats and violence to keep his accomplices in line, on one occasion assaulting one with a stun gun For the Evulz.
- Once the authorities caught up with him, he was facing up to 30 years in prison but violated his bail by fleeing to Chicago and using abandoned sections of the subway system as an Elaborate Underground Base. His reign of terror ended when he discovered in an abandoned warehouse several crates of industrial cyanide (illegal to possess in the state of Illinois without a lawful reason), which he took home with him because he thought it was cool. After being caught by the campus police of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) after repeatedly using their tunnel systems for burglaries, they found various tools, schematics, and one of the cyanide vials. Half a year after September 11, 2001.
- The F.B.I. was immediately brought in and after learning of the rest of the cyanide from Konopka and his accomplice, the entire Blue Line was shut down to sweep for traps and chemical weapons. Konopka denied having any sort of purpose for the cyanide with the vial he kept on him presumably to avoid going back to prison, but regardless he was convicted for conspiracy to commit acts of terror and spent 16 years in prison before being released in 2019. He spent his time in prison MacGyvering electronic escape tools capable of disabling surveillance equipment and alarmed fences for fun, disassembling and reconfiguring them to pass the time. Since then he's turned over a new leaf and expressed an interest in a cybersecurity career.
- Computer scientist and Millionaire Playboy John McAfee invented the first commercial anti-virus software in the 1980s and founded the company that bears his namesake. However, he had a long history of recreational drug use that made him inclined towards reckless, impulsive behavior such as a brief stint as a Central American warlord and allegedly putting out a hit on his neighbor for poisoning one of his dogs. He was on the run for a while before being detained by Guatemalan authorities and deported back to the US, married a prostitute 30 years his junior, ran for president as a Libertarian, before becoming a fugitive again for tax evasion but sought the Libertarian presidential nomination for a second time anyway. He was very active on social media throughout all of this, discussing topics such as cryptocurrency, yoga, and consensual sex with whales. Unfortunately, he was found deadnote in the summer of 2021 after his arrest by Spanish authorities, shortly before his planned extradition back to the US. This spawned many Conspiracy Theories surrounding his alleged suicide, due to his frequent assertions that he was not suicidal and if anyone said he hanged himself, he was murdered.
- Dr. Alexander Abian, a mathematics professor at Iowa State University, became famous for his proposal to blow up the Moon to fight climate change and compared himself to Galileo. His theories were debunked by astronomers (including NASA), who asserted that not only would the entire nuclear arsenal of mankind be insufficient to destroy the Moon, but if we actually could it would have the opposite effects from what he purported and the debris alone would be harmful to all life. What is it with mathematicians (see Kaczynski above) and explosions?
- "Dr." Emanuel Theodore Bronner was mad in a much more literal sense. As in, he had just as much in common with the rambling, stream-of-consciousness, probably-genuinely-schizophrenic "green ink" type of madmen such as Francis E. Dec or Gene "Time Cube" Ray. He was a soap salesman whose incomprehensible ramblingsnote claimed his soap could bring metaphysical cleansing in addition to the literal physical kind one would normally expect of soap, as well as unite all of humanity together. somehow. What earns him a place on this list is the fact that his soap is, surprisingly enough, a genuinely impressive product in its own right (if unable to live up to the more abstract selling points), being a Master of All soap useable for pretty much any soapy application with the right dilution ratio, to the point where it's still available for purchase today. You can get your own box here.
- X Development, previously known as Google X, a secretive company proclaimed to work on "radical" solutions. The stuff they worked on included Google Brain, advanced AI learning research with ethical controversies that surely can never go wrong, and purportedly, teleportation, which was found to violate the laws of physics.
- Ed Currie, Mad Horticulturist, created the world's hottest chili pepper of several magnitudes by carefully cross-breeding the hottest pepper plants he could get his hands on, just because he loves spicy foods that much. Like any good mad scientist Ed enjoys to pain his creation causes to others, and like any good mad scientist he has repeatedly taste-tested his peppers to the point that he is immune to their effects.
- Zig-Zagged by Jiankui He, a Chinese biophysicist who created the first genetically-modified humans in 2018 in order to bolster the newborn twins' resistance to HIV. While this doesn't sound like much compared to the other examples on this page and he's perfectly sane, human germline engineering is a massive no-no to the scientific community and virtually all the world's governments, even Red China, as the technology isn't yet fully understood and can easily lead to unintended consequences. In fact, his experiment may have actually enhanced their brains as the altered CCR5 gene is linked to improved memory function in mice (whether this was intended or not is yet to be determined). While Lulu and Nana are reported to be in fine health as of December 2021, He himself was sentenced to three years in prison and fined the equivalent of almost half a million USD.
- One of the reasons He faced such widespread condemnation is that scientists are intended to have their work peer-reviewed and their data analysis vetted in scientific journals. He attempted to do so but his manuscripts were rejected due to the illegal nature of his proposal. One of his confidants, Professor William Hurlbut of Stanford University, stated that if they had been published it would have offered some legitimacy to the experiment and He was essentially Trapped in Villainy.