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Madness Mantra

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"Better safe than sorry, Better safe than sorry, Better safe than sorry, I can't believe he bit me!! Better safe than sorry! I, I opened the door before and I got bit for my trouble. No. Won't fool me twice. Better safe than sorry! Better safe than sorry!"
The Church Guy, moments before turning into an Elite Mook. Left 4 Dead

Characters who are having a mental breakdown sometimes become fixated on a certain phrase that they repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat until everyone in the world is sick of it.

Sometimes, this chanting allows the character to snap out of their insanity. Sometimes, it becomes their life-long theme song as they rock back and forth in a cozy padded room. If they aren't locked up, expect a room with every square inch stating the phrase. When combined with As the Good Book Says..., the ominousness goes through the roof.

Just about every mental institution scene has someone chanting some sort of non sequitur in the background. And woe betide us all if this non sequitur should be significant.

May result in the terms becoming meaningless and possibly descend into a strange form of Mondegreen thanks to the human knack of picking up patterns out of nothing.


Contrast the Talkative Loon, who at least varies the chatter. Compare to Cluster F-Bomb and Rapid-Fire "No!". If this involves singing, see Tuneless Song of Madness.

A Survival Mantra is an attempt to master fear and pain, but when it doesn't work, you find the point where that trope crosses over into this one.

Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope.

Examples, Examples, Examples, Examples:


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    Advertising, Advertising, Advertising, Advertising 

    Comic Books, Comic Books, Comic Books, Comic Books 
  • In Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man, the Arkham inmate Psycho Pirate chants phrases such as, "Worldswillliveworldswilldie," and "One and two and ess and ex and three and four and prime." These turn out to be Arc Words, referring to the parallel Earths variously merged or destroyed in Crisis on Infinite Earths some years earlier. The Psycho Pirate is the only one in the DCU who remembers these lost worlds, and so these Madness Mantras allude to, respectively, DC's promotional tagline for the Crisis crossover and the names of various parallel Earths (Earth Two, Earth S, Earth X, etc.). His ravings are a premonition of the temporary reemergence of superheroes and supervillains from the lost Earths.
  • During The Avengers story The Celestial Madonna Saga, Kang's robots and clones repeat endlessly: "Kang conquers! Kang conquers!"
  • In The Boys, Billy Butcher may be a general jerk and super killer, but he genuinely loves his inaptly named British Bulldog Terror, and he usually serves to show Billy's more human side. When Jack From Jupiter kills Terror, Billy completely loses it.
    Billy: Why did you kill my dog, Jack? Why did you kill my dog, Jack? Why did you kill my dog, Jack?
  • In the Dark Souls anthology comic Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame, there's a lonely undead sitting outside the city of Quon, constantly retelling the tale of Quon's fall to himself. He dares not leave, for he knows that if he forgets the tale, he'll loose the last sliver of sanity he has left. He's Mistos, the former king of Quon.
  • In Detective Comics Annual #9, Riddler finally divulges his life story to (what he believes are) the doctors at Arkham. When he discovers that the doctors behind the one way glass left the room for a snack and he's been talking to himself the entire time, he begins repeating "no one there" in shock . It is unknown when he recovered from this.
  • One of the The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers tries to write a horror story while high on drugs. The result: "Andtheywentandtheywentandtheywent..." (Promptly gets him a Frankenstein/Gertrude Stein pun.)
  • In an issue of The Flash, Wally's ex-girlfriend Tina McGee calls him for help because she believes there is something wrong with everybody around her. When Flash gets there he finds that she is at her keyboard, repeatedly typing "I'magoodgirlI'magoodgirl". Everyone thinks she is having a nervous breakdown, but actually her colleagues have been taken over by the Kilg%re, and she's perfectly alright.
    "He won't have a gun, Trust me Ashley. He won't have a gun, Trust me Ashley..."
  • In an issue of Justice League of America, the Atom has the song Stardust stuck in his head throughout the issue, but can't remember all the lyrics. He and the other leaguers soon encounter an alien probe named Mnemon, who steals memories. After temporarily stealing the memories of the league, it is defeated and ends up drifting through space with just one memory that it repeats endlessly: the song Stardust. And it still doesn't know the words.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes storyline The Great Darkness Saga, -Darkseid brainwashes thee billions of Daxamites — a Kryptonian offshoot — into conquering the galaxy for him. Most of his mind-controlled slaves don't speak as they carve a path of destruction through the galaxy... except for one name.
    "Most do not speak as they trample lives and destroy riches... and those that do, simply mutter a single word over and over under their breaths... Darkseid."
  • After Starr gets his genitals eaten by a dog in Preacher, he spends a lot of time fondling a gun and muttering "DOOM cock, DOOM cock".
  • One of the children attacked by a Fear Demon in Saga Of The Swamp Thing #26 keeps repeating "ANIMALANIMALANIMALANIMAL..."
  • After the Chameleon snapped in one issue of Spider-Man, all he was capable of saying was "Nothing nothing nothing nothing..."
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: In Kanan, after Order 66 is given, Commander Grey repeats "Good soldiers follow orders" before ordering his men to begin firing on Depa and Caleb.
  • You know things are bad when Superman starts using one of these: during Grant Morrison's (Is there a pattern here?) run on JLA, in fact near the end, in "World War Three", Supes has his hope and will broken by the Old Gods' death machine from the edge of space, Mageddon. While under the influence of the doomsday device, he compulsively utters... "We can't win over this... the end of it all... oblivion... MAH-GED-DUN.."
  • In V for Vendetta, after V destroys Lewis Prothero's priceless doll collection in front of him, he goes insane, and can only say "mama, mama."

    Fan Works, Fan Works, Fan Works, Fan Works 
  • A written one from Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:
  • Then there's Calvin and Hobbes II: Lost at Sea: "Su... su... su... su... su... su... su... su... su..."
  • Evangelion 303: In chapter 12, while Asuka is arguing with herself during a breakdown, she yells out loud: "SHUT UP!!! Shut up Shut up Shut up Shut up Shut up Shut up SHUT UP!!!"
  • HERZ: In chapter 2 Asuka remembers her words during her battle against the MP-Evas:
    "I'll kill you. Kill you. Kill you. Kill. Kill. Kill." Her mantra as she clutched her face and reached out with her right hand of vengeance. "Kill you. Kill you. Kill you. Kill you. Kill. Kill."
  • In The Precious Book, Harry greatly cares for a copy of Alice in Wonderland given to him by a kindly bookshop owner, regarding the characters as his friends. When Quirrel uses a mind control curse on Ron Weasley to make him destroy it, Harry spends several heartbroken weeks doing little but sob "Murderer" over and over again.
  • Queen of All Oni has Jade's thought processes degenerate into this when Lung tortures her trapped astral form.
    "Gotta get away, gotta get away, gotta get away, gotta get away, gotta get away, getaway, getaway, getawaygetaway..."
  • The Second Try: Asuka uttered one when Gendo interrogated her about Aki and then taunted her with her speech not being very motherly:
    Asuka:"You bastard! You don't know anything about her! You have no right to talk about her! I swear, if you do as much as to say her name once more, I'll kill you!"
    Gendo:"Kill me? You don't seem to be in any position to make death threats. That aside... [...] That is not a very motherly way to talk..."
    Asuka:"You... I'll kill you. I'll kill you. I'll kill you! I'll kill you! I'LL K-agh... y-y..."
  • In chapter 13 of Passageways a time-travelling Harry attacks Abraxas Malfoy and several other Death Eaters after they show up to terrorize Diagon Alley. When Malfoy sees the lordship ring of a formerly-extinct family on Harry's hand, he goes into shock and keeps repeating "It can't be..."
  • Being a crossover with The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, The Grim EDventures of Ed, Edd, n Eddy includes a similar Madness Mantra to the one in the source material in the first chapter. It comes right outta nowhere, has absolutely nothing to do with the plot (despite there not being that much of a plot yet) and nobody ever mentions it again. Yup, it's a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, alright.
  • In Father Mine a Death Eater who came off rather poorly during an encounter with Sailor Moon keeps repeating "Never. Coherent. Moon! out! Moon..."
  • In The Boy with the Magic Notebook, the way Maxwell is writing down medicinal potions nonstop for hours on end comes off like this.
  • When Ginny learns the truth about her friend Tom at the climax of The Very Secret Diary, all she can do is repeat, "I do not know. I do not know. I do not know" over and over, until she passes out.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Satan Girl keeps repeating "KILL YOU KILL YOU KILL YOU KILL YOU KILL YOU", as well as "TearyoureyesoutandEATTHEM! RipyouapartandseveryourINTESTINES!" when she comes face to face with her genetic template.
  • Breathers For Applejack: "Let us help you, Applejack..." Ponies affected by the curse are compelled to say it, but also seems to function as some kind of Trigger Phrase. When one of Applejack's friends say it, you know they're pretty much doomed to succumb to the curse.
  • In the Fire Emblem Awakening fanfiction Golden Threads Tie Us, Severa goes berserk when a Risen archer gets Lucina wounded:
    Severa: You piece of trash how dare you hurt Lucina bastardbastardbastard
  • In Chapter 3 of the Freedom Planet fanfic Little Miss Heropants, Lilac is reminded of what happened to her on Brevon's ship and starts repeating "Don't tell him anything".

    Animated Films, Animated Films, Animated Films, Animated Films 
  • The animated movie 9: "The source... The source... Go back... to the source..."
  • Queen Elsa at one point in Frozen:
    "Get it together! Control it! Don't feel, don't feel, don't feel, don't feel!"
  • In Nocturna, the Luminuses(?) chant the word "Kidnapper..." over and over again, due to so many of them going missing.

    Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling 

    Radio, Radio, Radio, Radio 
  • Madness Mantra Lite, courtesy of The Goon Show: "Ying tong ying tong ying tong ying tong ying tong iddle i po..."
    • Or Announcer Wallace Greenslade's parting line at the end of the show:
    It's all in the mind, you know.

    Roleplay, Roleplay, Roleplay, Roleplay 
  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Crispin screams in horror upon first seeing Jenna's bug form. This causes her to suffer a Heroic BSoD and lock herself in the closet, murmuring to herself over and over that she's a monster, monster, monster...
  • Nan Quest has one (potentially a few) of these in the journal found in the chapel area.
    • "for the love of god"
    • "into the fire into the fire into the fire into the fire"
  • Survival of the Fittest v4 character Kris Hartmann has, with variation, "Voice. Jump. Spin. Squeeze. Bang. Dead." She never actually says it, but it comes up in her thoughts frequently, starting from her Accidental Murder of Reika Ishida.

    Tabletop Games, Tabletop Games, Tabletop Games, Tabletop Games 
  • The Apocalyptic Log that opens All Flesh Must Be Eaten has a scientist, undergoing transformation into a zombie, muttering in his last log before complete zombification "God, why" about a dozen times.
  • Battlefleet Gothic: +++KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY+++ note 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • "KILL! MAIM! BURN! KILL! MAIM! BURN!" Good ol' Kharn the Betrayer. He's one heck of a guy.
    • From the fluff book Xenology, containing autopsies and analysis of various xeno species and artifacts: "The Metal Lives. The Metal Lives. The Metal Lives. The Metal Lives. The Metal Lives The Metal Lives The Metal Lives The Metal Lives..."
    • Dawn of War: "ATTAAAACK! BREAK THEM IN HALF! ATTAAAACK! BREAK THEM IN HALF! SPLIT THEM OPEN!" Servants of Khorne are not known for their subtlety.
    • Transience of flesh; purity of form...Transience of flesh; purity of form...Transience of flesh; purity of form... (from a certain mutation cult)
    • Chaos does this a lot (it's all in the name, really). Other examples include "SANITY IS FOR THE WEAK!" and "IT IS AS THOUGH A THOUSAND MOUTHS CRY OUT IN PAIN!" and the above-mentioned BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!!. And yes, upper case and exclamation marks are necessary in all examples.

    Theatre, Theatre, Theatre, Theatre 
  • A weird one in Chicago; the "Cell Block Tango" has a madness mantra that consists of multiple words sung by six different women.
  • The Consul: In Magda's second-act aria of desperation, she takes great piles of documents from the Secretary's desk and hurls them around the room, shouting repeatedly: "Papers, papers, papers!"
  • In LeRoi Jones' play Dutchman, the lead woman, Lula, starts repeating the conclusion of a story told by her co-star: "And that's how the blues were born" several times before completely flipping out, stabbing him, and pushing him out of the subway car they're both riding.
  • At the conclusion of Ghosts, Oswald, who was infected with syphilis in utero by his philandering father, succumbs to dementia and stares blankly into space repeating the words "The sun."
  • In Heathers, "Our love is God" is chanted by J.D. and Veronica after they kill Kurt and Ram.
  • Older Than Steam: Macbeth: Lady Macbeth chants "Out out, damned spot". It is stated that she has been doing this for some days.
  • The Merchant of Venice: Shylock's speech pattern is very repetitive, even at the beginning. This becomes nightmarish later when he becomes intent on killing Antonio:
    I'll have my bond, speak not against my bond:
    I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond...
    I'll have my bond; I will not hear thee speak:
    I'll have my bond, and therefore speak no more...
    I'll have no speaking: I will have my bond.
  • Next to Normal has the song It's Gonna Be Good (reprise), where Diana repeats the phrase "what was his name?" in wanting to know her dead son's name, and Dan repeating "gonna be good" to convince Diana going back for therapy sessions.
  • Oofty Goofty, a sideshow performer from the 19th century American West, started out his career as a costumed "Wild Man of Borneo" act, in which he constantly babbled the nonsense-phrase that became his stage name.
  • In Shrek: The Musical, Fiona's lament in "I Know It's Today":
    Fiona: And the waiting, the waiting, the waiting, the waiting,
    The waiiiiitiiiiiing!
  • Sweeney Todd has an example which actually takes place in an asylum, with the inmates singing "Sweeney" over and over again, until Johanna kills the owner of the asylum, when they screech and stop the chanting.

    Webcomics, Webcomics, Webcomics, Webcomics 

    Web Original, Web Original, Web Original, Web Original 
  • 17776 begins as a seemingly ordinary article about the future of American football that ends up devolving into repetitions of "Something has gone terribly wrong."
  • In The Adventure Zone, as the Red Robes lose their memories: "I'm Davenport! I'm Davenport! I'm Davenport! I'm Davenport! Davenport!"
  • The Angry Joe Show: "Godzilla is approaching the generator... The generator is losing power... Godzilla is approaching the generator... The generator is losing power..."
    • During his playthrough of the terrible Rambo rail-shooter he's reduced to chanting "HE'S A MAN, NOT A GOD!" after hearing it one too many times.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: Linkara's "Anti-life justifies my hate! Anti-life justifies my ha-ha-hate..."
    • And one that is a might bit creepier from the Entity Saga, taking up a full page in the book Linkara finds: "Iamnevershould."
  • Criticized: "It's just a little paperclip..."
  • According to those who found him, Molly from Critical Role crawled out of his own grave, nearly catatonic, covered in dirt, and repeating the word "empty", over and over again. Gustav misheard him, and thought he was saying "M.T.", which is how he ended up with the name Mollymauk Tealeaf.
  • The titular character of Daisy Brown tends to use these in moments of stress. In friendship bracelet she repeats, "Nothing; it's fine. Nothing; it's fine," when Alan starts scratching at the door, and in im outside, it's, "I'm not scared of cars anymore."
  • The Dionaea House: The door is open.
  • Each of the last three episodes of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared features one.
    • The Teacher from episode 4 tries to demonstrate the variety of options on the internet, but there are only three things to do. It doesn't stop him from repeating the three options ad nauseum to the point that it ends up corrupting the digital world.
    Yellow Guy: Wow, look! [x]!
    Duck Guy: Digital style!
    Colin: Do a digital dancing! Hey, this is fun!
    • The Healthy Band's song descends into disharmony when they start to sing "You shouldn't eat food from a stranger's plate" with increasing intensity. It coincides with the serving of Duck Guy by to Yellow Guy.
    • As the Yellow Guy drowns in oil in the sixth episode, all the Lamp can do is happily cry "Looks like somebody's having a bad dream! A bad dream! Bad dream! Bad dream! Bad dream..."
  • Episode 40 of Dragon Ball Z Abridged shows Popo in a bonafide Out-of-Character Moment, staring down at the floor of Kami's lookout and repeatedly going, "All these squares make a circle...all these squares make a circle..." When Piccolo asked about his unusual behavior, Kami tells him that Mr. Popo had just gotten down dropping a gallon of LSD. "A literal gallon. Out of a milk jug."
    • In Episode 53, the episode begins with Goku and Gohan training, but when Goku sees some of the entrance wrecked, he starts panicky muttering "Don't break Popo's stuff... don't break Popo's stuff..."
    Gohan: Uh, dad? What are you muttering?
  • gen:LOCK: The Nemesis has "Kill the copy". It's the real Julian Chase, or at least his original mind uploaded into gen:LOCK. The Chase the audience knows is the "copy" Dr. Weller made.
    • Earlier, Cammie, suffering PTSD from her terrifying first field mission, and eventually digitally modifying her own personality to be more aggressive, says little during this time period other than "Not gonna get me again."
  • Glove and Boots: "You gotta. You gotta do it. You gotta. You gotta do it..."
  • Homestar Runner: I'm a long pants man, long pants long pants!
  • In one video from Jacksfilms, he has, "THEY'RE ALL PEWDIEPIE, THEY'RE ALL PEWDIEPIE..."
  • The Music Video Show: "I am the Paper Bag Princess. I am the Paper Bag Princess." This only happened a couple of times.
  • The Nostalgia Chick: Everybody's got AIDS and shit!
  • The Nostalgia Critic says NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NO!!
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum: "I must not shirk the Duty. I must not shirk the Duty ..."
    • Agent Len's infamous "Mr. Rogers! Mr. Rogers!", shouted while he tore through the corridors of HQ, wielding a flamethrower.
  • The Apathy in RWBY are a type of Grimm that cause crippling apathy to people near them, to the point that they will just lie down and wait to die. Those who fall under their influence with repeatedly comment how tired they feel as the effects worsen.
  • Fuck The Pain Away Fuck The Pain Away Fuck The Pain Away Fuck The Pain Away FUCK THE PAIN AWAY FUCK THE PAIN AWAY FUCK THE PAIN AWAY. Harry's a
  • One hentai series online has a demon-domination-fetish-incarnate called Talon Talonov, who enslaves his thralls by either having one of his slaves bugger them up the ass while chanting "Talon Dominus, Talon Dominus" or by doing this himself with his four-foot-long flexible penis-tail. Yeah, it's that kind of series, sorry.
  • 7-Second Riddles: After a traumatizing avalanche and a week's wait in the snow, one of the survivors went mad and began to repeat "Ate...Ate...Ate..." because they ate the eighth member.
  • In Episode 7 of Sex House, Tara gets one while under the influence of the "cloudy drink": "Cloudy drink kills frog!" Creepily enough, she's even seen writing and rewriting it obsessively on a piece of paper as she struggles to remember to tell her fellow housemates.
  • Occasionally crops up in The Slender Man Mythos, an example being in the blog Vivere Disce: "We gave him a name. We gave him a name."
  • Everything is fine...
  • Courtesy English Youtuber SovietWomble, we hereby present How To Play Horror Games, the Womble Method: 1) Repeat the phrase "It's fine, it's fine, itsfine, itsfine, itsfineitsfineitsfine..." to yourself as it becomes increasingly clear that it's not fine. 2) Do the same with the phrase "I'm not freaking out, I'm not freaking out, I'M NOT FREAKING OUT!" to no greater success. 3) Have between four and seven simultaneous nervous breakdowns.
  • In TANIS, the Cult of Tanis has such a mantra as part of its rituals. It also reappears over the course of an Apocalyptic Log detailing a trip into the area where Tanis is suspected to be:
    There are wondrous things. There are magical things. There are dangerous things. We get what we deserve.
  • In the Unus Annus video "Mark Knows What Ethan Did...", Mark kept repeating "The grip was loose...". For context, he and Ethan had done a grip strength test earlier in the year, where the loser would have to be the winner's butler for a day. Ethan supposedly won, but as revealed in this video, he cheated - his grip was loose.
  • The Weather: After going on a dark, nihilistic rant about life and death, Robby began to repeatedly ask:
    Where is the boat? Where is the boat? Where is the boat?

    Real Life, Real Life, Real Life, Real Life 

Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope.

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