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Only Sane by Comparison

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Fiona: How do you know this guy who hired you?
Michael: We worked together in the Balkans, '91-'92. It was a crazy time. He seemed somewhat sane in comparison.
Fiona: And now he kills people for a living.

In any group of weird and crazy individuals, the Only Sane Man is usually a necessary inclusion to stop the rest from self-destructing. Trouble is, sometimes you have a group that is so crazy that candidates for the position are a bit sparse, and you end up with someone who isn't really that sane themselves.

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The simple fact of the matter is they aren't simply cynical or eccentric, they are seriously flawed to point of impairment. Maybe they're incredibly stupid, maybe they're emotionally unstable, maybe they're flat out sadistic and malicious, or maybe they're quite simply nuts in their own right. The issue being that despite all the odds they still also happen to be the only rational, sensible, intelligent and/or reasonable person in cast (if only, as is most often the case, by comparison).

Always a case of Closest Thing We Got and usually Played for Laughs, this trope is most often used to demonstrate just how low the levels of competence and sanity for the group (and sometimes the situation) really are. The key point is that in any other situation or group they wouldn't have any claim to being the only sane man.

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Compare with Not So Above It All, where characters will spend most of the narrative presented as sensible and rational whilst having quirks and flaws of their own, and only have occasional moments showing themselves to not be above the insanity after all. To qualify for this trope, the character's flaws and issues have to be at the forefront and extreme enough that in any other circumstance you could never believe they would qualify for the voice of reason. Flanderization and Character Development can respectively turn one into the other.

Also compare Sanity Ball when someone takes on the role of Sane Man temporarily as the narrative needs one. Contrast Dumbass Has a Point, when someone who isn't usually the Sane Man makes a valid argument; and OOC Is Serious Business when the situation simply gets so extreme that it forces someone who is not the voice of reason to take up the role.

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See also Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond, where an average character only seems above average because of where they are.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bungo Stray Dogs:
    • In the Fifteen arc, Chuuya is a Blood Knight whose goal is to murder the Port Mafia members, but he still has morals and a sense of right and wrong. In comparison, Dazai is much less sane; while he isn't as overtly unstable, he's extremely ruthless and sociopathic. He giggles as he repeatedly shoots a corpse after delivering a Mercy Kill, and manipulates events to force Chuuya into joining the mafia by turning the boy's friends against him while also using them as hostages— all for the sake of humiliating Chuuya.
    • Verlaine is arguably less sane than Rimbaud, but by a thinner margin than one might expect. On their mission to capture the seven-year-old Chuuya, Rimbaud had been perfectly fine handing the boy over to be experimented on as he did not consider him a human like Verlaine despite them both being clones, leading to a fight when he decided to set Chuuya free. However, without Rimbaud to make him feel human, Verlaine's Cloning Blues cause him to snap and attempt to murder everyone close to Chuuya. He gets better.
  • Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: Nagito is known by his class for being a Cloudcuckoolander at best and a deranged terrorist at worst. After being brainwashed, the students use their talents to destroy the world, believing what they're doing is right. In contrast, Nagito's personality is mostly the same and he knows he is Ultimate Despair, though his deeds are far less horrific than those of his peers.
  • Delicious in Dungeon: Marcille is neurotic, skittish, and secretly specializes in The Dark Arts, and Chilchuck is snarky, blunt, and claims to be Only in It for the Money... but compared to Laios and Senshi's obsession with eating the dungeon monsters— and the crackpot plans in service of said obsession— they're pretty normal.
  • Durarara!!: Exaggerated. No one is sane in this series, but some are definitely saner than others given the cast includes multiple people obsessed with a headless fairy (some prefer the head, some prefer the body), knife-wielding love zombies, and more. Mikado initially seems to be the only normal person around, but he also founded a gang online because he was bored and undergoes Sanity Slippage until he becomes suicidal. Celty - the aforementioned headless fairy - is more consistently portrayed as the sane one, but she is still an entirely inhuman being who's suggested to act the way she does only because of her missing head.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: The homunculi are Axe-Crazy psychos with a myriad of individual issues. Gluttony is stupid and eats people, Sloth is similarly dim witted, Envy is an Attention Whore, Pride is immensely cruel and Lust likes killing people. Greed however, cares for his property (friends) and is the only homunculus not a part of a giant conspiracy to destroy Amestris. Wrath is evil, unlike Greed, but also highly intelligent and able to keep his cool, never hinting at his true allegiance or indulging his rage during his entire career as the Führer

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Batman's Rogues Gallery is notorious for the majority of its members suffering from some variation of insanity or other, to the point that even amongst other DC villains they're generally regarded as the crazies. However, some of them are so far over the line that they have this effect on the other members, as demonstrated during their frequent team ups and interactions. The most notable example is the The Joker with his sheer homicidal mania and sadism being too much even for their standards, but others who provoke this effect include Firefly (in one memorable incident his partnership with Killer Moth ended with Moth seriously fearing for his life after getting a good look at just how insane Firefly really was), The Mad Hatter and Professor Pyg.
  • In Sam & Max Sam serves as the straight man of the duo who reins in Max's worst urges... but Sam is also a trigger-happy vigilante who sees Max's violent and sociopathic tendencies as mildly irritating at best (in that they're getting in the way of doing something, not that he's being violent) and adorable character quirks at worst.
  • Suicide Squad: A psychiatrist once noted that Captain Boomerang is technically the most well-adjusted member of the Squad, since he's the only one who is fully comfortable with who he is. Unfortunately, he's a thrill-seeking sociopath who absolutely no one likes because he's a massive asshole and proud of it.
  • Supergod: Jerry Craven lives in a fantasy where he's in Heaven and goes back to Earth to help the government, when really they brought him back to life as a cyborg against his will after he died. Nonetheless, he's the only Supergod to treat humans with respect and compassion rather than apathetically killing them by the thousands. He's also the only one who recognizes that fighting Krishna will only cause massive civilian casualties and should be avoided at all costs.

    Films - Live Action 
  • The Big Lebowski: The Dude is an incredibly lazy, somewhat eccentric, stubborn, and almost perpetually stoned slacker, but he's the only character in the film who is even close to lucid enough to comprehend the world around him, and he generally spends his time having to play the voice of reason to the various lunatics and idiots that surround him.
  • In Mars Attacks!, General Decker is a hot-tempered and violent General Ripper who thinks the Martians are a threat and should be exterminated from the beginning... and yet he was the only character who was 100% right all along about the Martians.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Admiral William Stenz is a calm and collected military officer who at least tries to listen to the experts he's provided, but he's also all but blinded by his narrow-mindedness to the idea that humans coexisting with the Titans is mankind's best chance at survival and tends to be too focused on neutralizing the immediate Titan threat to recognize that the military's methods for attempting to kill them are very likely to only make things go From Bad to Worse. That being said, after what we saw of Stenz in Godzilla (2014), he comes off as comparatively more open to reason than the other U.S. government figures such as Senator Williams in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), who lack Stenz's respect for Monarch's top brass and are pretty much looking for any excuse to take over Monarch and fall back on Gotta Kill 'Em All.
    • Also in King of the Monsters, one of Ghidorah's three heads has this comparative to the other two. Ichi (the middle head) appears to be the most intelligent of the three, and he has quicker reactions than the other two when they notice a change in development. That being said, he also appears to be the most sadistic of the three if his more-frequent Slasher Smiles and attack on Dr. Graham are any indication; furthermore, if just one of the heads can be held responsible for Ghidorah's Evil Plan to reshape the Earth and wipe out the majority of life on it, it'd be Ichi as the trio's leader.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong:
  • Reservoir Dogs: Mr. Pink, despite being a neurotic robber, a jerkish coward and racist towards black people, fulfills this in comparison to his colleagues and supervisors. Throughout the movie he is the only one who tries to calm down the estranged group as they argue who the traitor is, reminding them that they are supposed to be professionals and to focus on the situation at hand. While he fails to stop the situation from escalating this is why only he survives the end of the story, whereas everyone else (including the traitor) dies. He still gets caught by the Police though.

    Literature 
  • Alice in Wonderland: The titular Alice is a strange little girl in her own right— prone to talking to herself, believing she might have become someone other than herself, coming up with creepy scenarios to play pretend around among other things— but among the wacky denizens of Wonderland, she becomes the Only Sane Woman by default.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Compared to Rodrick (who's illiterate and thinks bacon comes from pigs the way you get eggs from a chicken), his rather useless and oblivious parents, and Manny (who is very bratty and spoiled), Greg can come across as a reasonably normal child. He still regularly does impulsive and foolish things (i.e. not trying to explain himself, putting his socks on over his shoes, and having weird ideas about the world around him, such as thinking houseflies are spy drones).
  • Discworld: In Ankh-Morpork, the Canting Crew is a recurring group of Crazy Homeless People, with the least crazy among them being The Duck Man, who behaves almost normally, is fairly intelligent, and certainly more able to make good decisions than the rest of the crew... but has a duck riding on top of his head that has been there for years and that he will not acknowledge the existence of.
  • Owen Underhill from Dreamcatcher is a Reluctant Psycho Sociopathic Soldier who takes sexual pleasure in violence and death, but he's the only one to question the insanity going on around him, which include alien monsters bursting out of people's butts, a guy taking a psychic phone call on a gun, and his unhinged superior Kurtz's moronically bloodthirsty orders.
  • Flashman: Harry Flashman, supposedly a glorious Victorian military hero of the British Empire, is in reality a bullying, lecherous, backstabbing racist, misogynistic coward who kisses up to superiors and exploits everyone below him. However, compared to the sheer number of Upper Class Twits, incompetents and/or bloodthirsty senior figures that make up the British Army of the 19th century (or for that matter most of the world's armies), Flashman more often than not comes across as far more sane than he has any right to. Likewise while a self-admitted scoundrel (at least in private) and murderer, he's also usually the only one to be visibly disgusted by the needless loss of life or pointless cruelty that every side involved in the wars he takes part in is guilty of.
  • The Magicians:
    • Alice seems to be the one member of the Physical Kids who can act sensibly and isn't somehow horribly dysfunctional - at least compared to Quentin's Manchild tendencies, Eliot's alcoholism, Josh's Sad Clown antics, and Janet's nature as an Alpha Bitch. However, you don't get into Brakebills without being obsessive to the point of insanity. Alice is just a lot more self-aware about her issues, having seen her own parents go off the deep end. Among other things, she's one of only two students who participate in Mayakovsky's Ultimate Final Exam - a naked walk to the South Pole - and actually refuses to use the correct technique to do so, instead deliberately botching a spell in a way that'll burn her alive if she makes a mistake. Later, she's the first to take the journey into the Neitherlands, a course of action that could best be described as "ill-advised - and that's before she sucker-punches Quentin in the face.
    • In The Magician King, Julia seems to be one of the few sensible members of the Murs coven, in the sense that she hasn't descended into highly-dangerous Mad Scientist tendencies and thinks that the group's ultimate goal of summoning a goddess for the sake of truth and happiness might be a bad idea. However, Julia isn't without her own eccentricities: ever since she failed the Brakebills Incomprehensible Entrance Exam, she's suffered from crippling depression and has been obsessing over magic to the point of abandoning all her prospects, refusing all her college offers, and descending into the magical underground where she actually traded sex for magical knowledge.
  • Numero Zero: Maia Fresia is an eccentric young journalist with somewhat childlike mannerisms and a penchant for randomly blurting out her thoughts, to the point where it's speculated by her co-workers she might have an undiagnosed development disorder. However, compared to her colleagues, who are a bunch of unscrupulous swindlers (plus one crazy Conspiracy Theorist), she appears very rational and level-headed, not to mention quick witted and sharp.
  • Sharp Objects: Camille Preaker is the Token Good Teammate of the Preaker-Crellin family, as well as the most normal and relatable of the lot. She's also an alcoholic, a self-harmer, a Jaded Washout, and a completely self-destructive cynic who isn't even very good at her job of being an reporter. However, her mother is an abusive monster who's been poisoning her children for decades, her little sister Amma is a Fille Fatale, horrifyingly Barbaric Bully and a Serial Killer, and her stepfather Alan enables them both. Camille is at least genuinely trying to do better, tries to protect Amma from their mother, and is acutely aware of her own shortcomings.
  • Pelagia and the Red Rooster: Emmanuel (aka Manuila) is a a quirky religious prophet with peculiar speech mannerisms. However, compared to the others who are either religious extremists of various sorts (such as the fanatical Russian Orthodox Pobedin) or just plain weirdos (such as a bunch of Camp Gays who rebuilt and inhabited the biblical Sodom, and are planning to rebuild Gomorrah for lesbian women), Emmanuel appears one of the most sane, not to mention kind-hearted.

    Live Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Overall downplayed, but for all his goofiness, childishness and immaturity, Jake Peralta takes the role of the voice of reason a lot more often than you'd think (which might give you some idea about the general level of sanity operating within the Nine-Nine). Sure, he has some slightly strange ideas about the world, some gaps in his knowledge base and he's riddled with daddy issues, but he's in many ways a lot less eccentric and a lot more down-to-earth than several of his co-workers, lacking Holt's robotic stoicism, Amy's dorky neuroses, Charles's CreepyGoodness, Rosa's aggressive lack of social skills, Gina's all-consuming narcissism, Terry's insecurity and Scully and Hitchcock's sheer dimwittedness.
  • Burn Notice: This is how Michael Weston describes his original relationship with his Evil Mentor Larry Sizemore. Initially Michael couldn't see that beneath his charm and willingness to take Michael under his wing, Larry was an utterly amoral and ruthless killer. Only time, distance, and no longer comparing Larry to the craziness of his childhood (Michael grew up with an incredibly abusive father and joined the Army to escape an alternative of life on the street) or the chaos of The Yugoslav Wars let Michael see Larry for what he really was.
  • Everything's Gonna Be Okay: Genevieve Moss's struggles to deal with her father's recent death, coupled with severe teen angst, causes her to act out in bizarre and often incredibly stupid ways— such as pretending to get high on her dad's heart medication because she let friends Tellulah and Barb talk her into taking it, or allowing Tellulah to enlist her in a scheme to solicit dick pics from a boy in exchange for a supposed picture of Tellulah's vulva (that was actually just a random picture they got off of the Internet). Nevertheless she still comes across as the most level-headed and normal of the Moss siblings, compared to the immature, self-absorbed Nicholas (who once almost got dumped after thinking it would be a great idea to pour ceviche on his boyfriend's head) and autistic Matilda (who tried to arrange a threesome with two of her fellow autistic students, despite none of them knowing how to actually conduct a threesome).
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Downplayed, as the overall cast is relatively sane, or have reasonable excuses for their actions, but nevertheless Sam's most reliable ally (in the loosest sense of the word "allies") is Baron Helmut Zemo, the villain from Captain America: Civil War who is obsessed with vengeance and wants to ensure there are no more super soldiers (be they superheroes or villains)... mainly since his other allies consist of Bucky, a traumatized hundred-year old cyborg who has a ton of issues that he projects onto Sam, Sharon Carter, an unpleasant and cynical criminal who turns out to have been Evil All Along, John Walker, Steve Rogers' mentally unstable Sucksessor, and Lemar Hoskins, who's far more loyal to Walker and the government than Sam. Unlike the others, Zemo never comes to blows with Sam outside of a minor argument, doesn't cause that many problems, and does everything he can to help them before turning himself in after doing everything that was asked of him.
  • Farscape:
    • Compared to the explosively foul-tempered D'Argo, greedy ex-dominar Rygel, mercurial Chiana and the increasingly eccentric Crichton, Pa'u Zhaan is easily the calmest and most reasonable member of Moya's crew; as such, she can often be relied on to mediate when on-board sanity drops to lower levels than usual. Unfortunately, Zhaan has a dark side that can drive her to extremes of hatred, rage, paranoia and extreme selfishness, and though she does her best to keep it in check, her control occasionally slips.
    • John Crichton arguably counts as a deconstruction of this: initially, he's a classic case of Only Sane Man, considering violence a last resort and always trying to make peace; in fact, the only reason why he's considered crazy is due to his habit of making references to human pop culture. However, being stranded in deep space, surrounded by violence-prone fugitives, getting regularly traumatized, being constantly hunted down by an insane military commander and trying to be a reasonable man gradually wears on Crichton's sanity. Over time, he begins demonstrating greater and greater eccentricities until he's barely a few steps removed from a psychotic episode... and yet, he's still trying to be the most reasonable member of the crew apart from Zhaan. In one episode, when the Monster of the Week drives the crew insane with paranoia, Crichton is only able to get the situation under control by going even crazier than all the others!
  • Father Ted: Father Ted Crilly is a somewhat smug, legitimately corrupt, selfish man who spends the series constantly trying to cheat and scheme his way out of work or into fame and fortune and who is only really smart in comparison to the incredibly low standards of Craggy Island; he is also heavily implied to be a gambling addict and is overall a disinterested, unsuitable priest. However, compared to the childish, incredibly stupid and outright strange Father Dougal McGuire; the foul mouthed, hot tempered, lecherous, borderline subhuman and utterly insane Father Jack Hackett (who even in flashbacks to when he was sober and lucid was terrifying, abusive and sadistic); and the neurotic, tea- and housework-obsessed (to the point of staying up every night for two years straight in case anyone wanted a cup of tea despite none of them ever doing so), passive-aggressive Mrs Doyle, as well as all the other nutty inhabitants of the island, Ted usually comes across as the only (slightly) competent and rational person, and is generally the closet thing the series has to a normal person.
  • Frasier: Dr. Frasier Crane is this In-Universe, an esteemed radio psychiatrist who many people look to for guidance in their personal lives; however, while a legitimately skilled psychologist and educated man, his own personal life is a mess of failed relationships and eccentricities, fuelled by his amusingly huge ego and obsessive nature.
  • The Haunting of Hill House: Played with in the case of Steve Crain. Steve likes to style himself as the one sane, rational member of the family, and for the most part, he's often the first to take a practical approach to things. By contrast, his father is constantly speaking to an illusory version of his dead wife, Shirley is a Control Freak obsessed with "fixing" the dead through embalming, Theo is "a clenched fist with hair", Luke is an Addled Addict plagued with nightmarish visions, and Nellie experienced visions of her own, spiralled into depression and ended up apparently killing herself. However, Steve ultimately admits to seeing the same visions as the others, believing them to be symptoms of hereditary mental illness - and takes his fear of madness all the way into insanity: he obsessively distances himself from his family's "madness", instinctively denies the supernatural to the point of interrupting any attempts to explain things to him, refuses to acknowledge his habit of hurting people in pursuit of his ambitions, and transfers his guilt over Nellie's death to his father. Finally, he was so desperate to avoid spreading his "condition" that he got a vasectomy right out of college, and never told his wife, not even when she divorced him out of frustration. Of course, the supernatural is real in this setting, meaning that Steve is not only completely wrong about the hereditary mental illness deal, but is actually less in touch with reality than Luke and Nellie.
  • The Inbetweeners: Simon and Will tend to trade the Only Sane Man role depending on the situation, with Simon being more socially adept and Will more logical and intellectual. Both are certainly much more sane than Jay, a lecherous Casanova Wannabe who tells some of the most outrageous Blatant Lies imaginable, and Neil, who takes being The Ditz to absurd heights. However, they are still a pair of awkward, whiny and spectacularly uncool teenagers frequently prone to holding the Jerkass Ball or gaining Acquired Situational Narcissism, with Will being an Insufferable Genius at best and a Know-Nothing Know-It-All at worst, while Simon rapidly transitions from the most rational to least rational member of the group whenever his hopeless infatuation with Carli comes into play.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Dennis Reynolds is a deconstruction of the Only Sane Man with his higher (by comparison) intelligence and social capability being a sign that he's in fact by far the worst member of the group. However, on occasion, particularly when the situation has gotten ridiculously stupid or insane even by the Gangs standards, he ends up playing the role straight and falls into this. In spite of being a lecherous, narcissist with almost sociopathic levels of Lack of Empathy (as well as being heavily implied to be a Serial Rapist and possibly even a Serial Killer), he is also the most prone to moments of lucidity at how utterly bizarre and abnormal the gang really are and how stupid their plans are. He likewise usually is the only one to have any idea how to get out of the messes they get themselves into (many of which he's just as, if not more, guilty as the others for them arriving in).
  • The IT Crowd: Jen is a pathological liar with a massive chip on her shoulder, and is so appallingly unsuited for working in IT that she thinks the Internet comes out of a small box. That said, her co-workers are the lazy, immature Roy, Cloudcuckoolander Moss, and eccentric goth Richmond, and thus she was appointed head of the department simply because she's the only one there who can pass for functional.
  • Lost:
    • Michael Dawson is the closest thing the show has to The Everyman, as a father and construction worker who just wants to get off the Island as soon as possible. Compared to the rest of the survivors, he has no history of parental issues, incest, drugs, crime, or warfare. Naturally, his life is horrible, and he's a walking bundle of neuroses who gradually sinks to everyone else's level as the stress starts to mount.
    • Frank Lapidus, the freighter's helicopter pilot, is slowly revealed to be an alcoholic with a history of being a Conspiracy Theorist (even if some of those conspiracies ended up being correct), but compared to the rest of his team, the Others, and the 815 survivors, he comes off as downright normal, and a Running Gag throughout season 6 is that he's given up trying to understand his insane circumstances beyond a Deadpan Snarker quip.
      (After witnessing Ben apologize for killing Locke at the latter's funeral) Weirdest damn funeral I've ever been to.
  • Maniac: The scientists in charge of the Neberdine drug trial seem to be almost as neurotic as the test subjects they're studying: Dr Justin Mantleray is an obsessive, pompous egotist plagued with Mommy Issues and a technology-related paraphilia; Dr Robert Muramoto is a barely-Functional Addict and has been having an affair with the GRTA behind closed doors. Next to them, Dr Azumi Fujita seems to be the one consummate professional... except she's almost as obsessed with the project as Justin, compulsively bottles up her emotions, and suffers from such an extreme case of agoraphobia that she rarely leaves the project base.
  • New Girl: Jess, the title character, eventually becomes this. She's a spacey and awkward Cute Clumsy Girl, and in fact she was originally supposed to be the main Cloudcuckoolander of the show. But due to Characterization Marches On, her roommates become increasingly weird and over-the-top as the show goes on, leaving Jess to be often put in a Women Are Wiser role, and the voice of reason to the crazy antics of the three guys.

    Multimedia 
  • The Muppets: Depending on the Writer Kermit the Frog falls into this. Sure, he's pretty grounded and sensible compared to the diva pig, the bear comedian, and whatever Gonzo is... but he's still a Muppet. In Jim Henson's early career and The Muppet Show, whilst usually the voice reason compared with the other abrasive Muppets and their bizarre acts, he has a clear penchant for mischief, neurosis and sometimes poor decisions to keep the show barely held together which made up just as much of the humour as any of the other Muppets antics, with Henson even stating that Kermit was designed to say things he'd hold back. After Jim died and Steve Whitmire took over, this side of him was dialled down with Kermit becoming a more conventional Straight Man. Recent works such as The Muppets and Muppets Live however, call back to the earlier more flawed and eccentric Kermit. Lampshaded in one episode of the series:
    Lesley Ann Warren: You know, Kermit, I thought you were the one person on this show who wasn't crazy.
    Kermit: Me not crazy? I hired the others.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh: Rabbit is more serious than the goofy Hundred Acre Wood residents and tends to be more focused on working than they are. With all that said, he's neurotic, fussy, bad-tempered, prone to weird schemes, and has had several sanity slippages. He can also be a Know-Nothing Know-It-All who has a big ego despite his shortcomings, as Piglet and Pooh lampshaded in the original novel.

    Theatre 
  • Black Friday: After a Hate Plague infects most of the characters, Linda appears to be the Only Sane Man of her cult. While others became deranged, monstrous versions of themselves with no common sense or even much self-preservation, living only for the cult and the Adorable Abomination it formed around, Linda's personality stays pretty much the same, and she still has her usual level of intelligence and charm. However, this is because she was already a narcissistic sociopath. All the events of the play did was give her an outlet, validation in the form of being named "divine prophet," and a group of willing slaves to do her bidding.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In the Borderlands games, the Vault Hunters and the Crimson Raiders are mostly this. Though they're a band of misfits with plenty of issues, they're a far more trustworthy commune than the Always Chaotic Evil bandits (who would later unite under the cult-like Children of the Vault), the bureaucratic Crimson Lance (who would take a long time to reform into a much more respectable organization), and a number of armies under weapon manufacturers who are power hungry (such as Hyperion and Maliwan).
  • Crash Bandicoot: Depending on the Writer at least, Coco Bandicoot is a hot headed Genki Girl Bungling Inventor who has a tendency to not think her steps fully through. However being the little sister of Crash Bandicoot, an animalistic and extremely clumsy Cloud Cuckoo Lander, as well as often paired up with Crunch, a hyper enthusiastic macho lunkhead, she tends to still often take the role of the Straight Man, at least when Aku Aku is not around. Combined with all the zany and bizarre foes they regularly face, Coco still often manages to come off as the most normal character of the series.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • In the Dead Money DLC, Christine Royce seems to be the sanest possible member of your hopelessly ragtag heist team... at least compared to Father Elijah's omnicidal obsession with pre-War technologies, Dog's endless hunger, God's need for control, and Dean Domino's Irrational Hatred for anyone who seems even slightly better than him. However, Christine is almost as obsessed as everyone else on the team - in this case, she's out for revenge against Elijah and has continued hunting him down even after suffering crippling losses in the process: so far, she's lost the ability to read and write due to being lobotomized by the Big Mountain Think Tank, been locked in an auto-doc for god only knows how long, and had her vocal cords ripped out. But even mute, brain damaged and traumatized, she's still saner than any of the others.
    • In the Old World Blues DLC, every single member of the Big Mountain Think Tank team seems to be wildly eccentric verging on insane: Dr Klein is a bullying narcissist, Dr 0 is a Bungling Inventor with an irrational hate-on for Mr House, Dr Borous is a Red Scare promoting Psychopathic Manchild with No Indoor Voice, and Dr Dala is a creepy Soft-Spoken Sadist obsessed with organic bodies to the point of Fantastic Arousal. Next to them, the unassuming Dr 8 seems quite reasonable, even helpful; at his only problem seems to be his inability to speak in anything other than static. But then, he wouldn't be a member of the Think Tank if he wasn't a Mad Scientist willing to stuff his brain into a jar: translation reveals that he's a bit of a Mood-Swinger... and he's really, really into pleasuring himself, to the point that he prepares your sonic blaster for combat by sonically ejaculating into it.
      • There's also Dr Mobius, former member of the Think Tank turned Big Bad. He's got the personality of a rambling, senile old man and has an addiction to the mind altering drugs mentats and psycho but he's also got the strongest moral compass of the Think Tank and had long come to realize just how insane and dangerous they all are so he created an elaborate setup that keeps the Think Tank ignorant and trapped in Big Mountain so they don't reek havoc on the rest of the world.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening: Both recruitable dark mages, Tharja and Henry, have strong sadistic tendencies and worrying hobbies, as Tharja is a stalker willing to perform experiments her own daughter, and Henry loves senseless violence and gore. However, while Tharja has a grasp of morality and knows the difference between right and wrong, Henry has problems understanding what counts as ethical, frequently offers to massacre people and routinely admits to being a lunatic.
  • The New Order Last Days Of Europe: Among the Passionariyy Far-Right clique in Komi, Igor Shafarevich is a less-than-hidden cryptofascist who will pretend to run a democracy where his name's the only one in the ballots, and also a stealthier, but virulent Slavic supremacist that quietly disappears ethnic minorities. Seems awful enough, but when compared to Gumilyov (Eurasianist and Mongol Horde LARPer who wants to tie the continents into one thing), Serov (a literal Commie Nazi who blames the Koreans for everything bad that happened to Russia) and especially Taboritsky (unmedicated schizophrenic that thinks he needs to cleanse Russia to make (the deceased) Tsar Alexei come back, and takes to it with genocidal vigor), he at least tries to look like he'll make something stable.
  • The Secret World: Issue 9 introduces Harumi and Yuichi, siblings trapped on the outskirts of Kaidan by the Tokyo Incident. Of the two, Harumi is the most rational and a Cloudcuckoolander's Minder to her older brother - who spends most of the day too paranoid to even function thanks to nearly being used as a suicide bomber by the Fear Nothing Foundation. However, "Rum" is ridiculously exuberant, ever-so-slightly grandiose and obsessed with achieving digital omniscience by hacking anything with an internet connection.
  • Team Fortress 2: Inverted. Although all of the mercenaries are insane, ranging from obsessions with murder to hyperactivity to talking to inanimate objects, all of them are equally afraid and judgemental of the Pyro, whose misunderstood psychosis and irrational behaviour causes them all to label him as insane, even by their standards.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines: Alistair Grout is made the Malkavian Primogen almost immediately after being discovered by the Camilla more or less because he was pretty damn sane, for a Malkavian who ALL gain some sort of insanity by virtue of being turned. It's made clear from his tapes though that he is in fact fairly unhinged, not just because of his inhumane experiments of turning dozens of humans into insane ghouls (and that's only those we know about), but that he kept his dead wife's corpse in animation in hopes of reviving her at some point. It's also made clear that his condition has made him exceptionally paranoid.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Hajime is the only normal person with no apparent talent within class of Ultimates, who are at least slightly insane by default. However, in the past, his insecurity over his lack of talent drove him to enter the Izuru Kamukura project and undergo experimental brain surgery to become talented in everything. This unfortunately lead to him being subjected to Death of Personality and jump-starting the end of the world.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!: Monika tries to invoke this in a horrible way. She programs the other three girls to be more mentally unstable so the player will spend more time with her. Compared to Sayori's suicidal depression, Yuri's yandere Knife Nut tendencies, and Natsuki's anger issues and history of abuse and malnutrition, she naturally looks much more calm and rational in response. Once the player learns that Monika is haunted by the fact she knows she's not real and wants to kill her club mates just to date the protagonist in real life, it's clear she's probably the most disturbed of them all.

    Web Animation 
  • Hazbin Hotel: Vaggie has a Hair-Trigger Temper and a tendency to threaten people with knives and spears but she's one of the most level-headed and Properly Paranoid of the cast when compared to the cannibalistic Serial Killer Alastor, the drug addicted, promiscuous and flippant Angel Dust, the possibly crazy and obsessively clean Love Freak Niffty and the drunkenly depressed, apathetic Husk. However, it's more of a downplayed example with her girlfriend Charlie, compared to Vaggie, she can be somewhat naive and overly trusting but she's also the only person who's even attempting to find an alternative solution to Hell's overpopulation problem and has the sense to not make pacts with other demons.
  • Red vs. Blue: The Reds and Blues each have their own individual brand of crazy, and they always drive each other nuts with it. When Agent Washington joins the Blues, their various antics initially wind him up, and they're often only held back from complete self-destruction by his much more sensible, pragmatic attitude. However, he has his own brand of crazy that merely seems lowkey by comparison to the obvious madness of the Reds and Blues. Once Agent Carolina joins the team, Wash has gone through enough healing and character development to leave this trope behind and genuinely become the Only Sane Man along with Carolina; together they end up falling into the roles of Team Mom and Team Dad.

    Web Comics 
  • 8-Bit Theater: Of the Light Warriors, Thief is the smartest and most level-headed of them. He's also a compulsive thief and over the top haughty elf who's overly miserly and greedy ways would prevent him from being the Only Sane Man under most situations. However his team-mates are a violently insane Card-Carrying Villain wizard, a fighter who's so dumb it lets him ignore reality, and another wizard completely detached from reality, so he comes off as normal by comparison.
  • Dumbing of Age: Dina Saruyama is an implied undiagnosed autistic with No Social Skills who is more interested in dinosaurs than people. She also had a comparatively angst-free childhood and ends up playing the Only Sane Man to multiple more troubled characters, most notably Becky, Amber, and Joyce.
  • Romantically Apocalyptic:
    • Mr. Snippy initially seems like a classic case of the Only Sane Man, being the voice of reason and sanity against Captain and Pilot's insanity. However, it's gradually implied that he's crazy, just not as flat-out bonkers as them, and the second he runs into other survivors he looks like a gibbering lunatic compared to them, to the point that Engineer is genuinely afraid Snippy will murder him.
    • Engineer counts as this too. While he is probably the sanest person in the wasteland, he's still an asocial Mad Scientist who caused the apocalypse, or at the very least has partial responsibility in it, and an absurdly paranoid hypochondriac who's afraid literally everyone and everything will kill him, to the point of once having had a man reconfigured into an amnesiac DEX because he believed he was an assassin.
  • The central premise of Terror Island is that the two main characters, Sid and Stephen, refuse to buy groceries themselves and instead go to absurd lengths to trick or manipulate the other into buying groceries. Every other character is similarly devoted to following weird rules all the way to the most bizarre conclusions. Liln is the one character who tends to notice how dumb everyone else is being, and even calls out the grocery debate as stupid, but her proposed solution isn't that much better.
    Lewis Powell: I'd like to prepare any readers of the comic for the fact that Liln might be about as close to "voice of reason" as you're going to get. And since she recommends petty larceny as a problem solving technique, that should give you some sense of what 'reasonable' amounts to in a world created by Ben and myself.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Nicole is often the most responsible member of the Watterson family and tries to steer her kids in the right direction. She's work-oriented and wants her kids to have good lives. Despite this, she has a massive competitive streak, a very bad temper, a hypocritical side, and a rather fragile mental state. Over time, her flaws become more pronounced, and by the fifth season, she's lost any claim to being the voice of reason to Anais... and even she can be a bit off in some episodes, examples include being disturbingly clingy to her new friend in "The Parasite", being an Enfant Terrible in the Whole Episode Flashback "The Rival," kisses a frog to see if it turns into a prince in "The Gift", and sometimes not thinking through her plans.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
    • Carl is an ignorant, sex-crazed, crude Lazy Bum. On any other show, he'd be the wacky next-door neighbour. However, since he's the neighbour of the Aqua Teens, a bunch of crazy anthropomorphic fast food items, he's the sane one by default, being the closest thing to an actual human being.
    • Amongst the Aqua Teens themselves (and sometimes even to Carl), Frylock is by far the most rational and intelligent of them all. He's still a Mad Scientist of a floating box of fries (and not the most competent one at that) with his fair share of questionable moments.
  • Beast Wars: Waspinator is an eccentric, fatalistic, scatterbrained Minion with an F in Evil Butt-Monkey; despite all this he usually has to play the Only Sane Man to the rest of the Predacons, who consist of Megatron, a megalomaniacal Diabolical Mastermind who plans to risk destroying reality itself for his mad plans; Tarantulas, a treacherous, sociopathic Mad Scientist who frequently murders animals For the Evulz; Blackarachnia, Tarantulas' equally treacherous partner-in-crime and the resident Wild Card who betrays pretty much everyone; Inferno, a psychotic Pyromaniac who thinks he's an ant and is fanatically loyal to Megatron; Scorponok, a Yes-Man Genius Ditz; Terrorsaur, an incompetent Smug Snake with too much ambition for his own good; Quickstrike, a dense, short tempered Blood Knight; and Rampage, a Nigh-Invulnerable, cannibalistic Serial Killer.
  • Count Duckula: Igor is a ruthless yet very polite Card-Carrying Villain who spends most of the series trying to turn the Count back into a vicious bloodsucking vampire, regularly suggesting murder and other villainous tactics as the first solution to any problems the find themselves in. Yet as the rest of the cast consist of the naïve, easily excitable, spotlight obsessed Count Duckula and the immature and incredibly stupid Nanny, Igor is left as the only one capable of rational thinking, providing sensible suggestions to their many calamities and can be trusted to have a solid grasp of their situation.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Valhallen, despite being an idiotic rock star, posses far more self control, self-awareness and common sense than the other members of the Justice Friends.
  • Drawn Together:
    • Foxxy Love is as wacky as the other main characters, given that she is an exaggerated version of the Sassy Black Woman trope and indulges herself with bizarre sexual activities. However, given that the rest of the cast consists of a moronic Jerk Jock, a hyperactive idiot, a bigoted princess, a self-harming alcoholic, a sociopathic Asian monster, a raunchy internet cartoon and an overly sensitive Manchild, she often has to fill the role of Only Sane Woman. This is lampshaded when Wooldoor says that Foxxy is the only person in the house who is "not completely retarded".
    • Spanky Ham can be the level-headed one whenever Foxxy Love isn't, like when he brings up a good solution to a problem. Besides this, he's greedy, crude with his love of Toilet Humor, and has no qualms manipulating others for his own gain. His sane side is more obvious in later episodes, but his avarice and manipulation never completely go away.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Nazz is this of the main six Cul-de-Sac kids, and this is a very rare case where the Dumb Blonde is the sanest one. Her ditziness aside, she's a calm, friendly, and mature girl, especially compared to crazy weirdos like Rolf and Jonny, aggressive jerks like Kevin and Sarah, or childish nervous wrecks like Jimmy. As a result, she usually stays out of the regular conflicts of most episodes, and often serves as the voice of reason.
  • The Fairly OddParents: Denzel Crocker is sadistic, petty man prone to shouting spasms, who even ignoring his obsession with fairies is clearly insane. And yet he is the only member of the cast to actually notice and react to the clearly impossible events that occur. Likewise, just about everything he says about fairies proves to be true.
  • Family Guy:
    • Lois Griffin is a obnoxiously shrewish and abusive nymphomaniac, though due to her family consisting of her Psychopathic Manchild husband Peter, unhinged Butt-Monkey Meg, neurotic Kiddie Kid Chris, precocious and incredibly sociopathic baby Stewie, and pretentious Intellectual Animal Brian, she still tends to be designated to the Women Are Wiser role in many plots. Deconstructed in "The Most Interesting Man In The World", where Peter undergoes an intelligence boost, and Lois soon wants the old dysfunctionally stupid Peter back. Not because the new Peter is worse, but simply because Peter being well behaved and clever means she is no longer the smart adjusted one by relation.
    • Brian can fill this role with his usually down-to-earth attitude whenever Lois is being just as insane as the rest of the dysfunctional Griffins. He's still a smug, pretenious Know-Nothing Know-It-All who thinks he is a brilliant writer (when he's anything but) and he has a habit of getting caught up in his own hype, can be extremely selfish and consistently refuses to face up to or learn from any of his flaws.
  • Futurama:
    • Fry plays this role in "The Day The Earth Stood Stupid". Although he's usually the show's main Ditz, when earth is invaded by the Brain Spawn, Fry's lack of a Delta Brainwave makes him the only person on the planet who is immune to their powers, which turn everyone else into brainless morons. Although he's still very much an Idiot Hero, he's the only person who can save the day by default. It's best demonstrated when he yells at the people of New New York to stop acting so stupid through the wrong end of a megaphone.
    • Out of Mom's sons, since Larry is an overly neurotic Butt-Monkey and Igner is The Ditz, the oldest brother Walt appears to be the sanest and the smartest of the three. But only in relative terms, since Walt is still a Big Brother Bully who comes up with ridiculous plans. He may be smarter than his brothers, but he's not as smart as he thinks he is.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Mandy is a cruel and manipulative Tiny Tyrannical Girl, but she's also the most intelligent and mature character on the show, as well as the most competent. It helps that she has a very serious personality and most of the time she's Surrounded by Idiots, especially her stupid best friend Billy, her ridiculous Abhorrent Admirer Irwin, and her silly and obnoxious rival Mindy. Even Grim has his dumb moments and comes off as a loser compared to Mandy.
  • Inside Job (2021): Despite Reagan's eccentricities, she's still one of the most responsible members of her team. That being said she is still unhinged and dealing with a lot of trauma from her past, and is only sane because the rest of her teammates bar Brett are a bunch of degenerate assholes.
  • Invader Zim: Dib and Gaz are the only humans who recognizes Zim is an alien because everybody else in town is too idiotic to see through his Paper-Thin Disguise. Dib already has a reputation as an obsessive Conspiracy Theorist willing to hurt himself and others just to prove the supernatural exists, so everybody assumes he's just crazy when he insists Zim is an alien. Gaz, on the other hand, doesn't obsess over Zim like her brother, but she's an Enfant Terrible with serious anger issues who stalks and threatens the life of a boy over a video game console.
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat is The Smart Guy and is annoyed at the impulsivity of Cloudcuckoolander Kaeloo, the moronic Stumpy, bitchy Pretty, and Ditzy Genius Quack Quack. That said, he's violent, extremely perverted, and tends to lash out for petty reasons like touching him.
  • King of the Hill: Hank Hill is extremely uptight and a staunch believer in the Good Old Ways, and is the Only Sane Man among his closest friends: Dale Gribble, a Conspiracy Theorist, Bill Dauterive, a pathologically depressed barber, and Boomhauer, an unintelligible casanova.
  • League of Super Evil: Doktor Frogg is not just the group's mad scientist, but also the closet thing to actually evil amongst them being a chaos loving megalomaniac. However, considering the rest of the group consists of the childish Voltar who considers minor annoyances feats of great villainy and the utterly incapable of being evil in any sense of the word Red Menace (who even aside from that isn't especially bright or mature), he is left being their only voice of reason and logic.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Bugs Bunny is this in comparison to most of the cast. While definitely much more level headed than his roommate Daffy, several episodes, particularly in later seasons, show he's still a Looney Tune and just as prone to losing his head as the others. Examples include buying a restaurant he didn't know how to run just so he could have a Friday night hangout, destroying his house in an attempt to install a shelf to display his Nobel Peace Prize rather than hire someone to do it, ending up in an Albanian prison following a convoluted plot to avoid going to a prune festival with Porky, getting addicted to an expy of Red Bull called Spargle and going on a rampage to get more, and attempting to serve carrot PIE rather than cake at a dinner party. Also several episodes revolve around him getting addicted to things such as coffee, a video game or Porky's catering. Likewise whilst downplayed in this adaptation, if pushed too far, Bugs has no issues bringing his The Trickster skills back out to dispense reptribution.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Twilight Sparkle started off as the Fish out of Water in Ponyville dumbfounded by the group's eccentricities and even declaring the whole town to be "crazy". As episodes progressed however, she evolved into this trope and Twilight demonstrated just as many comedic flaws and neuroses, in particular her Super OCD behaviour which, rather ironically, has led her have maybe the most exaggerated Freak Outs of the whole main group. To the point that her having a nervous breakdown due to her obsessions has become a Running Gag and the others regularly acknowledge her flaws inverse.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: Private is the childishly naïve baby of the team, but he also tends to be the most sane and logical in comparison to Skipper's paranoid delusions, Kowalski's mad science, and Rico's love for explosions.
  • Pinky and the Brain: Brain is a self-admitted megalomaniac Mad Scientist who wants to take over the world and has a massive ego. He's still relatively sane compared to Pinky, who's completely insane, stupid, and keeps shouting random nonsense words such as "narf" and "zort". Likewise he is this compared to most of the regular citizens who exist in his world, with most of them being too stupid to even comprehend that he's a talking mouse. Then again, the theme song only says "One is a genius, the other's insane", but not who in the titular duo is which.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: In season four, Double Trouble is an amoral, self-serving sadist whose only goal is to cause drama and make money without a care for how they do it. But, even they are a picture of sanity compared to Catra, who by that point has destroyed her relationships and turned into a paranoid, spiteful wreck hellbent on conquering Etheria at any cost. Thankfully, she gets better.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Squidward Tentacles is a rude, selfish, and bad-tempered narcissist and a blatant case of Small Name, Big Ego, but he's also the most rational character who has to put up with his annoyingly idiotic neighbours (originally he was more a grouch and a stick in the mud, but over time their antics became increasingly disruptive and obnoxious), and usually has more common sense than most people around him to the point that he sometimes takes this as far as being effectively the only voice of common sense to the entire town.
    • Mr. Krabs is generally more mature and sensible than most of the cast, and is likewise usually the only one focused on business and the job at hand, especially compared to the foolish Patrick, the lazy Squidward, and the energetic Cloudcuckoolander SpongeBob, with him usually struggling to keep them in line with and focused on whatever goal he's got. This doesn't make him much saner than the others, though, as he's greedy to the point of obsession, prone to immature bouts of psychosis, and will prioritize his money over just about anything, even his own safety.
    • Sandy Cheeks is a downplayed case of this, since she is legitimately talented, virtuous and intelligent, often making her the undisputed voice of reason among the main group as a result of their aforementioned vices and stupid qualities. However Sandy also has her own eccentricities such as a violent Serious Business temperament and a very competitive streak. "Sandy, Spongebob and the Worm" lampshaded that her being the most competent civilian of the hapless Bikini Bottom doesn't necessarily make her infallible.
  • Steven Universe: Played with. Of the Homeworld Elite rulers Pink Diamond is initially viewed by the cast as being an insane, galactic tyrant just like her fellow Diamonds, but is eventually revealed to be the alter-ego of Steven's mom, Rose Quartz, who liberated Earth and fought against the Diamonds after she witnessed the destruction their actions were causing to other planets. However, it's later revealed that despite all that, she still did a lot of terrible things, such as tricking Spinel into staying alone for six thousand years, leaving Steven to deal with her problems, and causing Pink Pearl enough psychological stress that her eye is permanently cracked. In the end, everyone is left with a lot of complicated feelings towards her and her deeds, and accept she wasn't always the infallible hero they thought she was.
  • Teen Titans Go!: Robin definitely thinks he's the only down-to-earth Titan, and though he's not entirely wrong whenever the other Titans are goofing off, he's not entirely sane himself, since he's an egotistical, neurotic Control Freak who constantly wants attention.
  • Villainous: Dr. Flug is the meek scientist behind many of the schemes and weapons sold by Black Hat Organisation to take down heroes. He's considerably reasonable and easy-going compared to the other members, such as his vaguely demonic Bad Boss Black Hat and crazed cannibal CoDragon Demencia. However, he is still a villain, an Evil Genius Mad Scientist to be exact. His sadism surfaces when he does torturous experiments on others, and in his hobbies such as collecting shrunken planes, supposedly with passengers still inside.

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