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.
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.
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.
Examples, Examples, Examples, Examples:
- Anime and Manga, Anime and Manga, Anime and Manga, Anime and Manga
- Live-Action Films, Live-Action Films, Live-Action Films, Live-Action Films
- Literature, Literature, Literature, Literature
- Live-Action TV, Live-Action TV, Live-Action TV, Live-Action TV
- Music, Music, Music, Music
- Video Games, Video Games, Video Games, Video Games
- Western Animation, Western Animation, Western Animation, Western Animation
- 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
- After the Chameleon snapped in one issue of Spider-Man, all he was capable of saying was "Nothing nothing nothing nothing..."
- 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.
- 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. A nice combination of this trope and Earworm.
- 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."
- 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".
- 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 children attacked by a Fear Demon in Saga Of The Swamp Thing #26 keeps repeating "ANIMALANIMALANIMALANIMAL..."
- Kurt Gerhardt, the third Foolkiller, used "Bingo Bango Bongo".
- 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.."
- One of the Freak Brothers tries to write a horror story while high on drugs. The result: "Andtheywentandtheywentandtheywent..." (Promptly gets him a Frankenstein/Gertrude Stein pun.)
- 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... 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! Glowing...traitor...watch 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.
SUPER MEDICINE SUPER MEDICINE SUPER MEDICINE SUPER MEDICINE SUPER MEDICINE
- 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 Doctor Who Regenerated, Daisy has "I'm in my box, and I'm safe."
- The animated movie 9: "The source... The source... Go back... to the source..."
- In Nocturna, the Luminuses(?) chant the word "Kidnapper..." over and over again, due to so many of them going missing.
- Queen Elsa at one point in Frozen:
"Get it together! Control it! Don't feel, don't feel, don't feel, don't feel!
- Battlefleet Gothic: +++KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY+++ note
- In a similar vein, Warhammer 40,000 has "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..."
- BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!
- 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.
- 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.
- A weird one in Chicago; the "Cell Block Tango" has a madness mantra that consists of multiple words sung by six different women.
- 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,
- 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.
- In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, impersonator incubi must not fear, in a reference to Dune 's Survival Mantra.
- In Sluggy Freelance, when Oasis (who qualifies as Ax-Crazy even in the best of mental states) finds out about what Zoe looks like, she goes into a frightening Yandere persona that repeats her Pretentious Latin Motto, "Nosce te ipsum". The irony of her situation ("Know thyself" is the translation, when Oasis has no idea what she is) finally halts her rampage when she realizes it.
- BlackLillian's final round entry of the "Law of Talos" tournament... specifically, this page. That blank stare and repeated phrase during the monologue...
- Girl Genius: Lars often suffers panic attacks: "HORSE! HORSEHORSEHORSEHORSE!", or later "HORSE! PIE! HORSE! PIE!"
- Irregular Webcomic!: "I will not link to TV Tropes. I will not link to TV Tropes."
- Poor Murai has a few in Digger:
- Black Mother, pass us by, turn your face away from us, we are not here, we are not here, pass us by...
- The Good Man is dead. Who killed the Good Man?
- Questionable Content: "I must not laugh. Laughter is the Marten-killer. Laughter is the little death that brings total obliteration by an enraged Faye."
- A Dune reference, for those who didn't get it.
- VG Cats: "Hey, listen!"
- 8-Bit Theater's Red Mage: Don't be crazy, don't be crazy, don't be crazy... And he obviously can't be crazy, because if he was crazy, he wouldn't worry about being crazy all the time... right?
- In Narbonic, most mad characters have a whole bunch of personality sprites. Mell W Kelly has only this one◊ though... guess what it says.
- Homestuck: PLEASE TELL ME THAT'S JUST GRUB SAUCE. PLEASE JUST BE GRUB SAUCE PLEASE JUST BE GRUB SAUCE PLEASE JUST BE GRUB SAUCE. HAHA, OK, MAKE-BELIEVE TIME IS OVER! OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD
- honk. HONK. honk. :o)
- DO IT YO8 COW8RD KILL M8 KILL M8 KILL M8 KILL M8 KILL M8 KILL M8 KILL M8 KILL M8 KILL M8
- Let's Destroy the Shagohod!:
US President: Congratulations, Mr. Big Boss, you sure showed that traitorous whore a thing or two!Big Boss/Naked Snake: (thinking) Do Not Punch. Do Not Punch. Do Not Punch. Do Not Punch.
- In Dominic Deegan, we have this:
Celesto: I am Celesto Morgan. I am me. I am I. Repeat the mantra. Reassert and reflect upon your self. Establish your identity. Protect the sanctity of your being and make your mind a fortress.
- Parodied in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, when Jonesy keeps typing "all work and no play makes Jones a dull girl" in a parody of The Shining. Jared fears it's this but Commander Badass says no, she's just trying to boost her NaNoWriMo count.
- The inmates at Islington Asylum for the Criminally Insane in Autumn Bay are heard chanting "They don't remember...never remember."
- After an encounter with the demonic IT Guy from Bloody Urban, Murray is left with one word on his mind.
"TROJAN. TROJAN. TROJAN."
- Awful Hospital: The doctors' oath; CURE, CONTAIN, OR ERASE.
- DEUS VULT DEUS VULT DEUS VULT DEUS VULT DEUS VULT DEUS VULT DEUS VULT DEUS VULT DEUS VULT DEUS VULTExplanation
- Ruby Quest gives a written version: NEVER CATCH ME NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER
- Homestar Runner: I'm a long pants man, long pants long pants!
- Glove and Boots: "You gotta. You gotta do it. You gotta. You gotta do it..."
- 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."
- The Nostalgia Chick: Everybody's got AIDS and shit!
- The Dionaea House: The door is open.
- IM HAVING FUN IM HAVING FUN IM HAVING FUN
- 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 little...off.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Nostalgia Critic says NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NO!!
- 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."
- The Angry Joe Show: "Godzilla is approaching the generator... The generator is losing power... Godzilla is approaching the generator... The generator is losing power..."
- 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.
- 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"
- FUCK YOU BEN I'M NOT TALKING TO YOU
- 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."
Gohan: Uh, dad? What are you muttering?
- 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..."
Goku: SIXTH RULE OF POPO'S TRAINING!
- 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.
- 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.
- Everything is fine...
- Each of the last three episodes of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared features one.
Yellow Guy: Wow, look! [x]!Duck Guy: Digital style!Colin: Do a digital dancing! Hey, this is fun!
- 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.
- 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..."
- 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 Adventure Zone, as the Red Robes lose their memories: "I'm Davenport! I'm Davenport! I'm Davenport! I'm Davenport! Davenport!"
- 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."
- Let's play duo Pb&Jeff has "I PRESSED IT TO JUMP I PRESSED IT TO JUMP" when dying in platforming games.
- 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 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.
- CBS anchorman Dan Rather was attacked on Park Avenue in Manhattan by William Tager and an unknown accomplice. Tager kept repeating (according to Rather's own account) "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" Through Memetic Mutation and a certain R.E.M. song, everyone remembers the phrase as "What's the frequency, Kenneth?".
- When Rather resigned, the incident resulted in a parody news story reporting the frequency.
- According to America: The Book 104.3 is The Frequency (source: Kenneth).
- There is a novel by Spider Robinson that has this as its punchline. It actually makes a certain sense in context. It's "Lady Slings the Booze" Kenneth is a Rather lookalike; the frequency will trigger nuclear devices hidden in major cities, and the two assailants are Soviet agents.
- For clarification, the attacker was later discovered to be a paranoid schizophrenic, who thought the media were beaming signals into his mind and that if he found the right frequency he could block the signals.
- Discussed in this Dane Cook routine on crying:
Dane: ...and then as you're crying, what happens is that it starts to feel good... and what you do is that you latch on to one phrase that you just repeat over and over again; just something that means something to you, like, "I DID MY BEST! I DID MY BEST!"
- Lewis Black had one of these inflicted on him due to overhearing an Orphaned Punchline - "If it weren't for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college."
- "Herzensschatzi komm komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm, komm...
- TV Tropes: STOP SOPA STOP SOPA STOP SOPA STOP SOPA STOP SOPA STOP SOPA STOP SOPA STOP SOPA STOP SOPA note
- Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F. Kennedy's assassin, filled his diary with these. "RFK must die. RFK must be killed. Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated."
- "We live underground. We talk with our hands. We wear the earplugs all our lives." note
- Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, after learning about her beloved husband Louis's death: "He is dead. He is dead. It is to me as if the whole world died today! He's dead, he's dead, he's dead..."
- From the documentary Bellevue: Inside Out:
- Deliberately invoked in the Rosenhan Experiment from the early 1970s. Psychologist David Rosenhan wanted to reveal the poor conditions of some mental hospitals and developed a test: eight perfectly healthy individuals (including himself) from different backgrounds went to psychiatrists and explained that they had been hearing voices repeat the words "Empty," "Hollow," and "Thud" non-stop in their heads (the words were apparently chosen because they sounded vaguely nihilistic). All eight were admitted to mental hospitals, where they proceeded to act normal and say that the voices had stopped—and all eight ended up having to admit to having mental disorders and take antipsychotic drugs.
- A computer science researcher was getting very, very sick of being repeatedly spammed by a bogus computer science journal, so he submitted a 10-page paper (originally authored by an antispam group who had been similarly spammed) consisting entirely of the phrase "Get me off your fucking mailing list," complete with a flowchart and scatter plot illustrating the same phrase.
- Aforementioned spammy bogus journal then proceeded to state that the ten pages of MadnessMantra were "excellent" and they'd publish it for $150...despite the fact that the paper was nothing but a deliberately copied and somewhat profane Madness Mantra.
- At the peak of Zhang Xianzhong's madness, after ordering his troops to slaughter one another before his throne of gore, he had his few remaining loyal servants carve a Stele to explain his actions to the Ming who were on their way to vanquish him. And what an explanation it was. Heaven Brings Forth Numerous Things to Nurture Man. Man Has Nothing Good With Which To Recompense Heaven. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. It's even said that people were so terrified of the sheer malice contained in the "Seven Kill Stele" that they feared touching it, let alone destroying it, and it was only blasted to pieces in 1970.
- Ubisoft goes steamworks bye bye always on DRM
Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope. Must trope.