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Only Sane Man

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"I began to get a feeling... of being the only sane man in a nut house. It doesn't make you feel superior but depressed and scared, because there is no one you can contact."

When there is a group of characters who are all just totally weird, either in general or in a particular scenario, the Only Sane Man is the only one who, well, isn't.

Picture this: Alice is a Psycho for Hire, Bob is a Cloudcuckoolander, Doug is an Empty Shell, and Emily is a Mad Scientist. Looks like your standard Dysfunction Junction. But then you have Gardenia. Gardenia is actually a very well-adjusted individual. She reacts with appropriate horror to things like Alice's finger collection and the crimes against nature that Emily calls pets. Gardenia is the Only Sane Woman.

The other variant is where the other characters aren't always that weird, but everyone save one character is acting weird in a particular situation. For example, they might regard something absurd as Serious Business, with the Only Sane Man the only one who notices how crazy that is.

This latter variant also includes a standard comedy piece: something absolutely insane is going on, but only one person notices (or cares). There are usually three stages, with a rough correspondence to the Five Stages of Grief: Bewilderment (Shock and Anger), trying to get others to see or admit the weirdness (Bargaining and Denial), and bitter sarcasm (Acceptance).

In the more extreme cases, the poor soul may be trapped in a World Gone Mad and/or wind up Giving Up on Logic in frustration. Sometimes, though, they are Not So Above It All. A character may also think of themselves as the Only Sane Man without proper justification.

A Too Dumb to Fool character may be the Only Sane Man, although he is likely to be less worked up about the failures of others to see than in most cases.

The Only Sane Man is often relied upon as the Only Sane Employee. This character often ends up a Knight In Sour Armor. For a more horrific version, see Through the Eyes of Madness. For the sci-fi version, the Ignored Expert is your go-to guy. The comedy version will often end up being either a Butt-Monkey or a Chew Toy. If all the other characters are otherwise sane, and really should see something, but only one guy does, he's an Einstein Sue. See also Cassandra Truth, Surrounded by Idiots, and Surrounded by Smart People; contrast with the Unfazed Everyman. May temporarily overlap with What the Hell, Hero?.

If several characters take turns being the Only Sane Man, they're playing with a Sanity Ball. If it's a two-person show, with one person playing the Only Sane Man to the other's wackiness, it's a Straight Man and Wise Guy scenario. This trope is the savvy half of a Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl duo, one third of a Comic Trio, and part of the Four-Man Band.

Usually, but not always, a Cast Full of Crazy contains an Only Sane Man. Usually, he's prone to Sanity Slippage.

The Wonka may well feel like this (or be this!) in a world that doesn't follow his thinking. Insanity is, after all, in the eye of the beholder, and The Wonka often has quite valid points.

No Real Life Examples, Please!

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    Audio Play 
  • Exit Tunes Presents ACTORS: Hinata Mitsutsuka. Despite his character design and cheerful personality, he is in fact the one who reins in his fellow club members' more...unorthodox ideas.
    [talking to the Singing Club, about the cat the Singing Club had accidentally adopted] "Like I said, that kind of naming sense is no good!!"
    • In ACTORS2, Rei Ichijoudani. While he has his moments where he acts otherwise, for the most part, he acts like this. Especially when it comes to his former nanpa partner Takato...
    • In ACTORS3, Seijun Yuyama, mostly with regards to his Club President Kouya and friend Kaoru.
      Seijun: Don't drag me into this conversation, you perverts.
      Kaoru: I'm no pervert! I'm a Covert Pervert!
      Seijun: Don't just say that so easily!!


    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dilbert, as seen on the page image above, has been this at various points.
  • Frank Mellish from Liberty Meadows gets flustered and dismayed at the animals' antics.
  • Sam from InSecurity may have his quirks, but compared to his wife Sedine and her cousin Roy, he's practically the voice of reason.

  • Caleb the medic from the Firefly game of Cool Kids Table is the only member of the Zelda's crew who isn't weird (Roc), bloodthirsty (Kimmy), or just plain thirsty (Mickey).

Alternative Title(s): Only Sane Woman