Follow TV Tropes


Psycho Electro

Go To
From Shock Jock to just shocking.

"When your hair stands on end, you are already dead."

Lightning. An incredibly powerful force of nature that has awed mankind since before the beginning of civilization.

Today we know this to be an atmospheric discharge of electricity, but to the people of the past, this phenomenon was an Act of God and a symbol of great power. So characters who happen to wield the power of this electric element can be very powerful indeed... and you know what they say about those with great power. No, not those ones.

Enter the Psycho Electro.

A subtrope of Personality Powers, but one you have to do a bit of digging to make sense of. Lightning and Electricity related characters tend to be psychotic, sadistic, and/or just plain insane. Whether this is in a touchy and paranoid way or in a cold, unhinged manner is up to the writer, but mostly, they're marinated in A-1 crazy sauce.

Lightning is not associated with madness in folklore or mythology, where it's treated as a regal and divine ability. In High Fantasy, this power is attributed to knightly and chivalrous people. But when it comes to modern Speculative Fiction and especially Superhero fiction, characters with lightning powers are just plain nuts or incredibly sadistic, almost guaranteed to take delight in giving their victims some Electric Torture.

Perhaps it's because of the seeming disorder of thunderstorms. The songs of chaos sung by thunder and lightning, the loud, scary, booming sounds, the darkness that entails and the jagged appearance of lightning itself can make for decent symbols of madness. Maybe it has to do with the idea that the brain is controlled by electrical impulses, and the electrical current running through them messes with their mind. Cue the electroshock therapy, which in this case just makes things worse.

It may have nothing to do with lightning and all to do with electricity. Man-made electricity has allowed us to see it up close and witness its erratic patterns and behavior. Many associate electricity with pain and with good reason, thanks to the electric chair and the fact that electrocution (electrocution is electrical and execution) isn't a fun time for anyone. Whatever the reason, The Psycho Electro remains prominent in fiction. When it comes to crazy sadists with powers, nothing really expresses it better than the twitchy, destructive and unpredictable nature of lightning and electricity.

Or it could possibly relate the shocking sensation of electricity that would cause a person to twitch and how the typical psychotic person twitches. It's then just A+B=C+B=D.

Despite this, it is not a case of Bad Powers, Bad People. There are still many heroes and good characters that have lightning abilities. It seems to be one of those "double-edged sword" powers where it can help people just as much as it can harm them, but the great potential for destruction is still there and may serve to enforce how careful they need to be.

Compare Pyromaniac, Ride the Lightning. Often paired with Freaky Electronic Music to really sell the "psycho" vibes. Naturally, a fitting power for a Mad Scientist.

Subtrope of Elemental Personalities and Shock and Awe. Contrast An Ice Person and Playing with Fire, the other two elements that form the Fire, Ice, Lightning trio, as well as Pacifist Wind, which associates the wind element with a lack of aggression and general pacifism.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Averted with Nue from Air Gear; while he does have a thing for the macabre (calling out Kogarasumaru in the middle of a graveyard, anyone?) he's far from being villainous, and he and his team members support Ikki and company later on in the story.
  • Luck Voltia, lightning magic user from Black Clover, was never a bad guy. But even after becoming less overtly bloodthirsty and more of a team player, the kid is still downright mental. His nickname, "Cheery Berserker," is appropriate. His favorite hobby is antagonizing fellow Black Bull, Magna Swing, who Luck considers to be his best friend, into trying to kill him. For fun.
  • Spooky Electric, one of the synthetic humans of the Towa Organization in Boogiepop Series has power over electricity. Aside from being able to taze people with touch, he can also control electronics and brainwash people by subtly altering their brainwaves.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
  • Kanon Ozu of Coppelion. She is not what you'd exactly call "stable". Her DNA was spliced with an Electric Eel, which granted her a hoast of electric based powers, not least of which is blasting out lightning bolts from her hands. She can sense how far people are away with electronic pulses and much more. She also can't feel pain. It's partly from this power, the last part in particular, that she goes down the path of insanity.
  • Denjin N: Tadahiro transforms into a being of pure electromagnetism after his death and resolves to murder anybody who gets in the way of Misaki's idol career.
  • Similar to the above, taser-wielding "knight" and title character Ame Ochibana of Denpa Teki na Kanojo, who, while not malicious, clearly has a few screws loose.
  • In Dragon Ball, a Super Saiyan 2 has a small lightning aura along with their regular golden one. The first person to achieve it, Gohan, went absolutely batshit insane and kicked the crap out of Cell.
  • Laxus from Fairy Tail is a Social Darwinist with the power to back it up. He even tries to take over the guild at one point, and it takes Natsu and Gajeel working together to bring him down...and that was after Mystogan softened him up a bit first and he crippled himself trying to cast an incredibly powerful spell. Thankfully, he Took a Level in Kindness.
  • Get Backers: If electricity-user Ginji uses his powers too much or loses control of his emotions, he can convert to his Lightning Lord personality — a super-powerful and hugely destructive badass.
  • She doesn't actually have electrical powers, but Shion Sonozaki from Higurashi: When They Cry might still count with her, um, enthusiastic taser usage.
  • Subverted with Ryuubi Gentoku from Ikki Tousen. She's normally a sweet and kind girl who would rather read a book than throw a punch. The only time she's ever psychotic is when she's under the control of her dragon spirit.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Akira Otoishi is an unrepentant killer and robber who can channel the power of Morioh's electrical grid into his Stand, Red Hot Chili Pepper.
  • Kamichama Karin's resident Mad Scientist slash Comes Great Insanity Big Bad just so happens to wield the power of Zeus, god of thunder and lightning and such.
  • Precia Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Mage with an affinity to Lightning and more than a tad insane. Fate, her daughter and another Lightning user, makes it a point not to turn out like her.
    • Fate could actually be considered an inversion of this trope, considering just how much of a Stoic Woobie she is.
    • Fate's adopted son Erio used to be like this, until Fate basically hugged the crazy out of him.
  • Sasuke from Naruto after his Face–Heel Turn. Most of the other lightning-users seem to avert this, like the mostly stoic Kakashi and the hotheaded, but mostly good Raikage and his "brother" Killerbee.
  • Atori from Noein nails this trope. Sadistic, insane and zapping everything in sight. Even if he did lose his sadism later on, he still kept the electricity and insanity.
  • In One Piece, the user of the lightning-empowering "Rumble-Rumble" Devil Fruit is called Eneru and has the title of God. He wants to destroy an entire island of people to reach the moon. Actually, he doesn't even need to destroy the island; apparently, he just likes to blow up his old island whenever he moves.
  • Ash's Pikachu in Pokémon: The Series is normally a lovable critter, but when he got possessed by the Blue Orb, he definitely fits.
  • Averted in Samurai Deeper Kyo with Sasuke, who, despite using lightning attacks, is one of the better-adjusted members of the team. Relatively speaking.
  • Averted in Soul Eater, where Harvar d'Eclair is one of the more stoic characters. Fellow lightning-related Weapon Marie Mjolnir, however, doesn't really count.
    • As her fight with Justin pointed out why she's a Death Scythe, Marie is more Lightning Bruiser, the lightning being related to speed rather than shocking people.
  • Megatron of Transformers: Cybertron.
  • An electricity controlling witch in Witch Hunter Robin, who was certified in the episode.
  • If we are talking tazers then The World God Only Knows' Kanon Nakagawa should come to mind: As a result of her neurosis, she, in her early stages, zaps Keima when ever he crushes her little self-esteem by ignoring her. When she is that way she is amazingly creepy.
  • Both used and subverted in Zatch Bell! Gash is about as gentle as you can imagine but his twin brother Zeon is extremely violent and vengeful (and is shown using Electric Torture in the manga).

  • The Firesign Theatre's "The Electrician", most prominently featured in Hemlock Stones and the Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra, fits "electric crazy person" to a tee.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Maxie Zeus is a minor Batman villain who thinks that he's the Greek god Zeus, best remembered in the comics for running into a tree and falling unconscious while escaping Arkham Asylum in Knightfall. In the not-quite-canon Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, he's portrayed as a man with messianic delusions and an obsession with electroshock treatment and coprophilia, since the electric shocks cause him to lose control of his bowels.
    • The Legion of Super-Heroes villain Mekt Ranzz, a.k.a. Lightning Lord, is nearly always evil and is frequently insane as well. In the post-Zero Hour version of the book, his brother Garth was convinced that the lightning had made him crazy and would do the same to Garth and his sister Ayla; Ayla convinced him that the lightning wasn't responsible, just Mekt's natural instability. Surprisingly subverted in the animated adaptation, in which Mekt reforms and helps Garth save Ayla.
      • In the Threeboot Legion, Mekt is still crazy, but this time it's because, being a solo birth on a planet of twins, he's missing out on a bond shared by everyone else he knows, and this naturally leads to depression. He gets over it when he realizes he owes it to the Wanderers not to die, but he's still got anger issues.
      • And Storm Boy, whose non-natural powers kept him from being accepted into the Legion. He's since had over 75 separate operations to increase the voltage of his bolts and also to see what they can do with his face.
    • The Superman villain Livewire's (pictured) powers affected her brain, kicking her natural Attention Whore tendencies to pathological extremes. Superman eventually fixed this by giving her one of his old containment suits from that time he was an Energy Being, facilitating a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Played with in relation to Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark. She is a genuinely kind and heroic person, but her Shock and Awe powers are tied to her emotions, most strongly utter rage, and the lasso she first used to be able to channel and control her powers was manipulating her behavior, making her more cold and angry all the time.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Averted with Zafir, one of the few costumed enemies of the "original" Paperinik. She is a violent criminal, but not psychotic in the least.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Spider-Man villain Electro is normally a very downplayed version of this trope. However, he went crazy after the Superior Spider-Man (actually Doctor Octopus in Peter's body, at that time) experimented on him. He can no longer control his powers (to the point of accidentally frying his ally/lover) and has frequent nightmares of Spider-Man torturing him.
    • The Electro of Ultimate Spider-Man is very psychotic, unhinged, and paranoid, unlike his original Marvel counterpart where he was (at the time, anyway) just your basic thug with electricity powers.
    • Max Dillon's sucessor as Electro, Francine Frye, is a much bigger case, a Monster Fangirl that soon after getting electric abilities gave a Kiss of Death to Max in order to absorb his power.
    • X-Men: When Magneto is a bad guy, his electromagnetic powers do have a tendency to mess with his brain chemistry. However, unlike most examples, he's more of an Übermensch with a god complex than your usual twitchy lightning-throwing psychopath.
  • Villain Protagonist Johnny Bolt from Supercrooks, an amoral master thief with electric powers.
  • Subverted in Top 10, whose character Shock-Headed Peter is a robot hater, but definitely not psychotic. He also loves his momma. However, one issue stated Peter had some sociopathic tendencies.
  • A tragic example from Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) is Surge the Tenrec, a deliberately-engineered Evil Counterpart to Sonic. While outwardly brash and cruel, she was originally just a normal person before Doctor Starline kidnapped her and turned her into a cyborg, using his Hypno Ray to wipe her previous personality and memories while implanting a false personality and Irrational Hatred of Sonic. when Surge finds all of this out, on top of the fact that he didn't even bother to keep a record of who she used to be, she becomes rather upset.

    Fan Works 
  • In Thousand Shinji, Shinji uses lightning attacks and is a manipulative, psychotic jerkass.
  • In The Rainsverse, Chroma's alicorn powers are heavily lightning-themed, and she is a paranoid Blood Knight.
  • Poké Wars has two examples.
    • On the villain's side is Raikou, one of Ho-Oh's lieutenants with a major sadistic streak and penchant for overkill.
    • On the heroic side is Ash's Pikachu. After he vaporizes an entire city of Muk, the surge in power and adrenaline he gains from the battle changes his personality from "eager to fight" to "bloodthirsty".
  • In the Magical Girl Crisis Crossover Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights, Kanna Kise / Bad End Peace II was originally an alternate-universe counterpart of Yayoi / Cure Peace who never met her teammates and never became a Precure. Joker found her, kidnapped her, and utterly broke her mind until she became his Perky Female Minion. Like her counterpart, Bad End Peace II harnesses the power of lightning... and she's also an Ax-Crazy Cloud Cuckoolander Talkative Loon, who at one point wonders aloud how much of her voltage it would take to turn Sailor Iron Mouse into a Pikachu.
  • In Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily, Specter somehow has a Split Personality named "Easter" that is capable of using lightining abilities. Notably, Specter is known to be a sadist — albeit Word of God reveals that this is the Season 2/3 Specter so he's not as villainous as before — but Easter is somehow even more unhinged with how he seems to be deatched from reality, takes being electrocuted as being part of an orgy and is obsessed with hearts. This is later revealed to be that Easter is actually a living lightning botl from a car Specter passed through prior to meeting with Gladion and later stops acting psychotic.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Electro was a nice guy, but he had voices in his head even before his accident, and an obsession with Spider-Man after the hero saved him once and gave him some kind words. When he gets his powers, he heads into the "panicking" stage, and when the cops start shooting and people pay more attention to Spidey than him... he doesn't take it well.
  • Big Trouble in Little China: Of the Three Storms, Lightning is the most impressive. His body is crackling with electricity that he can shoot from his hands. He's the last Storm to be defeated.
  • Parodied in Ernest Goes to Jail where attempting to fry him in the Electric Chair (It happens) gives Ernest electric powers (It also happens). While he's definitely framed as one of these (and the prison guards and prisoners react to him as such) he's still the same old lovable Ernest, just with the occasional comedic twitch.
  • Ghostbusters II: Since the two fried in an electric chair, the ghosts of the Scoleri brothers return to haunt the judge that sent them to it, as a pair of electrically-charged ghosts.
  • In Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), King Ghidorah is empowered by electricity, which he can control to create devastating thunderstorms of apocalyptic proportions. During the Final Battle at Boston, Ghido's right head bites into a power substation, absorbing the electricity and allowing him to fire a massive barrage of lightning from his wings that would make Palpatine either proud or green with envy.
  • Prison: Revolves around an electrically charged ghost who wants revenge.
  • The Ruling Class: In a more satirical vein, the chief psychologist attempts to cure Peter O Toole's protagonist — under the delusion that he is God — by introducing him to another crazed man calling himself the "AC-DC Messiah". Plenty psycho, so much so that he is convinced that he is also Electro.
  • Shocker: Horace Pinker, Serial Killer who made a Deal with the Devil, comes back after death as an electric ghost who can possess people.
  • Star Wars: Sith Lords, most notably Emperor Palpatine, have the ability to use the Force to attack and torture people with lightning. As he is arguably the most famous person to cackle madly while shocking victims, probably the Trope Codifier.
  • Street Fighter: M. Bison has these vibes. FOR I BEHELD SATAN AS HE FELL FROM HEAVEN... LIKE LIIIIGHTNIIIING!

  • In After the Golden Age, Barry Quinn was a superhero with electric powers. He was also a paranoid schizophreniac who believed his medication weakened his abilities. No one was surprised when his career ended with him being institutionalized.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Elaine is probably one of the least stable human characters in the Dresden Files, and she most of her battle magic is electric. Possibly justified that it tends to be more targeted than fire, (thus requiring less energy,) and fire is the favorite of combat wizards with more power than technique, such as Harry. In a subversion, Harry is suitably impressed by her technique, and mimics some of her electricity-storing gadgets, though he continues to fight with air and fire.
    • In the very first book, the Entropy Curses that are ripping peoples' hearts out are powered by the energy in thunderstorms. And sex. In this case, the thunderstorms were just big, huge natural batteries that were conveniently around, a power source to be tapped into, the nature of the rituals themselves was blood magic. And Harry harnessed the power of the storm as well to get rid of the toad demon that Victor Shadowman summoned.
  • Parricidal Luke from Duumvirate is less flashy than most examples on this page. It's the speed, strength, and raw hatred that make him so horribly dangerous.
  • The Rakasha in Lord of Light are pure energy beings represented by constantly shifting pillars of lightning. They are also arrogant, egocentric, and pathological gamblers.
  • The Electro-priests which show up in the first Soul Drinkers novel. They're techpriests who have their entire bodies covered in electoos (basically, tattooed circuits laid under a person's skin). They chant litanies before going into battle to drive themselves into a Berseker Mode and turn into living fonts of electricity. They actually slice the hands clean off of a fully armored Space Marine. With their bare hands.
  • In The Thrawn Trilogy, the cloned Dark Jedi Master Joruus C'baoth uses mass mind control on most people, and Force Lightning on the rest. He is very unstable.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gwen Raiden from Angel. Not exactly Ax-Crazy, and she's a good guy in most of her appearances, but she's still very chaotic and possibly a little unhinged from her problems with Power Incontinence, which have kept her from ever being directly touched (and which have caused at least one accidental death).
  • The Boys (2019): Stormfront. One of her powers involves casting purple lightning from her hands, which she uses to murder innocent civilians just because they were black.
  • Doctor Who: In "The End of Time", the imperfectly-revived Master gains the ability to generate and control electricity, an appropriate elemental complement to his already-established personality and mental state.
  • Flander's Company has Carla Burnelle, The Heavy from Season 2, who possess lightning-based power. Since she usually is a Faux Affably Evil Magnificent Bitch who work for a Clothes-producing company, you initially don't really expect her to be one, especially with Villain Protagonists as the main cast. Then come the season finale, where she is able to take down all the protagonists of her own, and has no problem attempting to kill them. This goes even worst after her Villainous Breakdown at the end of Season 3, causing her to come back in Season 4 and attack the Flander's Company in a state of insane rage.
  • Elle Bishop from Heroes. Once she started indulging in electric sadomasochism with imprisoned pretty-boy Peter, it was clear she wasn't exactly right in the head. It's implied to be the result of years of being a test subject who's been denied a normal childhood. As well, though arguably psychotic to begin with, once Sylar copies Elle's power, using it somehow manages to make him seem even more unhinged.
  • Generally averted by Kamen Rider Stronger: Stronger, the protagonist, has electricity as his motif, and is only crazy in a different sense than what this trope is about.
  • Heckyl from Power Rangers Dino Charge is funny, insane and very dangerous. His lightning powers are one of the reasons why he was locked up in a solitary confinement for centuries (or longer). His Establishing Character Moment in Wishing For a Hero says it all.
  • Nikola Tesla in Sanctuary, a gleefully sociopathic vampire who fell asleep in Edison's electric chair. Yes, really.
  • Done to freaking death in Smallville. Probably Smallville's most common evil mutant of the week power.
  • The X-Files: Darin Oswald from the episode "D.P.O.". If you mess with his arcade game, he will call down the lightning and fry your ass.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Lightning in Magic: The Gathering is mostly associated with Red, the color of emotion and chaos. Therefore, unlike most fantasy settings, people with electricity powers here tend less to be divine and more passionate, which in some cases is manifested through outright psychosis. Specific examples include the Izzet League, which as a Steampunk faction tend to show the "fried brains" side of this trope, and the Kolaghan Brood, who put lightning to good use by burning everything for their own amusement.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: The Court of Storms is (as you might guess) strongly associated with lightning, and they are the Court of hatred, self-destructive powers, and destroying anything touched by the Darkness, without mercy or concern for collateral damage.
  • In Unhallowed Metropolis, the power Electrokinesis allows the wielder to psychically control and generate electricity. At maximum power it allows the character to instantly kill anything in a particle beam blast that can take out a city block, unfortunately Electrokinesis causes a character to develop megalomania and at the highest rank it manifests as a full-blown god complex.

    Video Games 
  • Nikolai Dmitri Bulygin from Anarchy Reigns is a cyborg with electricity powers, and the first thing we see him do is electrocute an innocent bartender robot for information. He isn't exactly a nice guy.
  • Lord Deus from Asura's Wrath was probably the Regal version of a lightning user like this, like in Actual Folklore. Upon becoming the Big Bad, however, He shows his real colors by acting like this to some extent, electrocuting Asura to death and throwing him out of heaven to Earth.
  • City of Heroes: Shock Treatment is electric, all around crazy, and at least once she will turn on you seemingly against her will. As her name implies, an excess of shock therapy was the source of her powers. She was technically crazy before the powers, now she's crazy with them.
  • The users of Tesla weapons in the Command & Conquer series. Especially the Shock Trooper from the original Red Alert, who would declaim deranged Bond One-Liner catchphrases such as "Extra crispy!", "Lights out!" and "Fully charged!" Soviet commander Moskvin from Red Alert 3 is a former Tesla Trooper, and tends to be very aggressive and erratic, with unpredictable mood swings.
  • The Matron, one of your henchmen in Evil Genius, is a sweet, grandmotherly old lady with a morning-star and a penchant for electroshock therapy. During her time as a 'carer' in a Swiss mental institute, she'd administrate her torture until either the fuses were about to blow or the arthritis in her hands started to flare up. It was only uncovered when the electricity board decided to check on why a small village in the mountains was sucking up more juice than Zurich.
  • Downplayed in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The two most mentally unstable members of the playable cast, Dimitri and Jeritza, are both focused towards physical builds. However, if you decide to train them in Reason magic, they both gain electric spells.
  • Averted completely in Fragile Dreams: The Big Bad, a Mad Scientist ghost named Shin, has electrokinesis as part of his Psychic Powers. He, however, is The Stoic, and never acts sadistically or without purpose. He also seems quite sane, except during his "words are meaningless" rants. Once you discover what he means by that, it's hard not to feel for him.
  • Robo-Ky of the Guilty Gear series has some...idiosyncratic mannerisms. To be frank, he seems to be constantly malfunctioning. Ironically, he has lightning abilities because the original Ky Kiske has them, not because he's a robot. This trope is subverted by Ky Kiske himself. He's a very disciplined knight who's mastery of lightning magic is a sign of his skill. Other issues aside, he's not a psycho electro but can be consider sort of the opposite.
  • As the article quote implies, Heroes of Might and Magic use this trope in the fourth game, with Lightning spells being within the domain of Chaos magic, the "hey, let's burn the world to ashes" spell school. Which is an association inherited from Magic: The Gathering, as the schools in Heroes IV are equivalent to the five colors in Magic. Master of Magic has the same thing (with lightning spells coming, again, from the Chaos school) with both Master of Magic and Heroes IV also subverting the trope by having the lightning-using creatures belonging to each game's equivalent to M:TG's blue magic.
  • Cole McGrath from inFAMOUS can be played good or evil. And evil Cole has blood-red electricity instead of blue, and a less healthy-looking complexion ala Emperor Palpatine as well as gaining what is pretty much Force Lightning and clusterbombs for his grenades. If he chooses to commit a Moral Event Horizon at the end his lightning will turn black.
  • Larxene from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. She's not so much insane as she is a vicious Dark Action Girl who enjoys physically and emotionally abusing others. Don't forget her evil laughter. It's creepy as hell.
    "More pain for you means more fun for me!"
  • The King of Fighters:
  • Zan Partizanne of Kirby Star Allies is the leader of the Three Mage-Sisters, a trio of magic users who are fanatically loyal to Lord Hyness and his Apocalypse Cult. As Hyness's Dragon, Zan is far more militant than her underlings Francisca and Flamberge. During her Boss Battle, she cackles with glee as she stirs up thunderstorms. When she's beaten the first time, she escalates into full-on Laughing Mad territory and destroys her planet-sized Jambastion fortress, just to kill Kirby! During Soul Melter EX, Flavor Text reveals that Zan only gained her powers after climbing a tower and getting struck by lightning in an attempt to kill herself, implying that she was unstable long before joining Hyness's religion.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: One of the attacks of evil sorcerer Agahnim is shooting electricity from his hands. Also, if Link tries to attack Agahnim directly with the Master Sword, he will get electrocuted for his trouble.
  • King Boo in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon uses lightning attacks thanks to his new crown he got prior to the game's events. It's no coincidence that this game was the point at which he went from a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wanted to look after his fellow Boos, to an Ax-Crazy sociopath who was willing to collapse the entire dimension just to have revenge on Luigi.
  • The titular shark in Maneater becomes this if you equip her with the Bio-Electric mutations, adding electrical jolts to her attacks and even gaining the ability to turn herself into lightning. But she's completely psycho even without electric powers.
  • Mega Man Zero 3: Volteel Biblio, Elec Man, Spark Man, Cloud Man, (arguably) Flash Man and Bright Man, and *shudder* Clown Man from Mega Man 8. As well as Spark Mandrill, Volt Catfish, and other Mavericks from the Mega Man X series.
  • Given their Blood Knight tendencies and the elemental alignment of the unlocked Super Mode, this was probably the case for the extinct Zerker tribe of Mega Man Star Force.Also Gemini Spark/Noise from the same games!You can torture any boss to death that does not have Status Guard/any player that does not have the No Paralyze ability with a constant string of Sword-type Battle Cards!Psycho Electro indeed!
  • This is how Tsukihime villain Michael Roa Valdamjong is portrayed in Melty Blood: Actress Again. It's somewhat subverted though as he's a lot more calm than most psychopaths.
  • Colonel Volgin in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. There is actually a scene of him casually using Electric Torture and he is described to be a sadist. Don't believe it? Check out the medical records of his Honey Trap sometime. There's a reason his boss music is named: "Clash With Evil Personified." Hell, halfway through the game he takes one of his own people he believes to be a traitor and rather than interrogate him, stuffs him in an oil drum and beats him death while he's inside it.
  • Kanden the bounty hunter, from Metroid Prime: Hunters, uses a weapon called the shock coil, which fires bursts of electricity. He is also known for being a mentally unstable, and supposedly unkillable, living weapon of destruction.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Monster Hunter Generations: Astalos is one of the most destructively violent creatures that can be encountered in the world of Monster Hunter. Just entering its line of sight is enough reason for it to try to kill something with electrically charged punches.
    • Monster Hunter: Rise: The Final Boss, Thunder Serpent Narwa, is one of few monsters in the series capable of rational thought, and conducts herself like a cruel and wrathful goddess who takes joy in the destruction caused by her calamitous lightning powers. When she kills her mate Ibushi and steals his powers, she's said to "lust for utter annihilation" in the Hunter's Notes section for her Allmother form.
  • General Dynamo from the Team Ninja reboot of Ninja Gaiden.
  • Persona:
    • It's a lighter case but you could count Kanji from Persona 4. He's rather hotheaded and was known for very destructive behavior before you saved him from the TV world. His Persona uses electric powers, seems to reflect his personality well.
    • Akihiko of Persona 3, however, is actually an Inversion. He uses the same element but he's a far more stable person and learns a lot of support and stat effect moves instead of attack focused techniques.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • Although lacking actual superpowers, Manfred von Karma and his infamous stun gun scene.
    • Then there's Gant somehow striking himself with lightning when he's losing.
    • The imagery returns in Trials & Tribulations, when Dahlia Hawthorne kills her ex-boyfriend with, of all things, a high-voltage wire.
  • RosenkreuzStilette brings us Iris Sepperin, who uses lightning attacks. And she gets crazy and starts Laughing Mad when she finally realizes that Spiritia is actually Rosenkreuz's other reincarnation, the "Blade of Rosenkreuz".
  • Sonny 2 plays with this one in a new way. One of the two kinds of powers Psychological builds give you, other than Mind Rape, are electricity-based powers. Rather than using insanity to destroy minds, you're using your own thoughts' electricity (the brain and nerves running on electric impulses and all) as a weapon, applying this insanity in a different way.
  • In Spider-Man 2 – Enter: Electro, the titular antagonist is hit with a jolt of power due to a mystical artifact, and becomes so strong that he is able to harness massive amounts of lightning. The final battle is held on top of a large industrial building, with Electro feeding off a power generator and smacking the hell out of the player until the generator is disabled.
  • The Electro in Spider-Man (PS4) is far more sociopathic and unhinged than previous versions. He was a career criminal even before becoming a supervillain, and one of the first things he did after he got his powers was start murdering cops. Eventually he started expressing a desire to "become pure energy".
  • Psymon Stark of the SSX series, who was electrocuted on power lines, leading to long-term mental health issues, noticeable tics, and a generally erratic and unpredictable personality.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, playing a Dark Side Sith Inquisitor in the Lightning discipline gets you this. Pretty much all of the Inquisitor paths are varying degrees of this trope, though.
    • In the Legacy of the Sith expansion, players are able to adopt disciplines from other classes, meaning that now any Dark Side Force user can become this. However, Inquisitors are likely to still be the only ones capable of electrocution as a dialogue option.
  • Subverted in Street Fighter. Crimson Viper, an electrified agent of the nefarious Shadaloo organization, presents a cold and villainous front (her presence is even accompanied by an ominous Ethereal Choir-ridden theme song), but her in-game ending reveals that she is actually a CIA double-agent working to take down Shadaloo.
  • Subverted by Horace Gage from The Suffering. Out of all the ghosts and creatures on Carnate Island, Horace is by far the most stable, though he's still unhinged from the decades he's spent frying in the electric chair that killed him to begin with. He's also the ghost for the Good alignment, not wanting Torque to become corrupted by prison life and the supernatural taint of Carnate, as he was.
  • Lightning is the element of choice for Hasta, the resident Blood Knight/Psycho for Hire of Tales of Innocence.
  • Tales of Symphonia:
    • Sheena Fujibayashi failed to form a pact with the summon spirit of Lightning in her backstory and it flips out and causes much destruction, as opposed to the other elemental summon spirits who just didn't give you the pact and left.
    • Problem was that Volt didn't speak English. Or Tethe'allan. But mainly English. Volt speaks a language few other characters speak in the game and interprets nearly everything as a threat.
    • There's also Kvar, the electricity-based Grand Cardinal, who is the most sadistic of the lot and also responsible for the death of Lloyd's mother.
    • And the other lightning-user, Yuan, while not exactly crazy per se, tends toward the cold and somewhat erratic.
  • The midget torturer in WET is pretty clearly one of these, given his choice of torture equipment, and it's apparently not his only "issue"...after capturing Rubi, Sorrell orders him to "finish her off... then you can do whatever you want with her."

  • In Crankrats, six of the seven titular crankrats were turned into this via steampunk Applied Phlebotinum. Even the one who isn't crazy has trouble controlling his powers sometimes, and has given people burns by accident.
  • Dominic Deegan has The Maestro, who isn't insane exactly but is a bit eccentric and probably not someone you want to annoy.
  • Raque, from Dubious Company, though her insanity is connected more with her heart than her electricity magic. After her attempt to seduce Elly fails miserably, she beats him to the ground and storms out of the room, locking and electrifying the door behind her. She later electrocutes him in an attempt to unbraid his hair.
  • Electricity is a common weapon in Girl Genius, but Anevka Sturmvoraus is borderline this. After frying her father with enough electricity to both kill him in an instant and set her clothes on fire, her only reaction is to complain about the loss of her dress. And then there's Bang, who, while having no ability to generate electricity on her own, is all too happy to use the defibrillator-like electrical device Gil built on anyone who gets close enough as a killing/interrogation method, as Abner unfortunately found out.
  • Slade from Heart Core, the right hand man of Royce. To give you an idea of just how insane the guy is, he is willing to kill his own kind just for fun and curiosity, loves to torture people with electricity (including children) and is even shunned by most demons for his actions.
  • Romeo in No Songs For The Dead has a very destructive personality, though it's more due to his rather rough life and the loss of his wife, than the powers messing with his mind. Despite all his anger, he is not without a softer side.
  • In Pacificators, lightning-type people are almost universally crazy, due to their abilities' effects on the electrical signals in the brain.

    Web Original 
  • In Pokémon Apokélypse, the Rocket torturer tortures Brock with a Magnemite's electricity and has fun doing it.
  • In Rain Quest, the main antagonist is an anthropomorphic, power-hungry lightning bolt.
  • In the Whateley Universe, the only group more susceptible to the neurological disorder Diedrick's Syndrome (which causes the sufferer to act like a stereotypical super-villain — megalomania, monomania, ranting about the wrongs done to them, plotting elaborate but impractical traps and weapons, etc.) than Devisors are Energizers, especially electrical Energizers. In an half-twist, it isn't limited to villains, though even well intentioned 'drickers tend to run afoul of the law because of it.
    • Olympia, who has both Diedrick's Syndrome and schizophrenia, is a Psycho Electro and a Flying Brick. She spends most of her time locked up in Hawthorne (a dorm for students with Power Incontinence or other unfortunate side-effects), not because she can't control her powers but because she won't. Rumor among the students holds that the Greek government agreed to foot the bill for her education on the condition that she not return to Greece for at least the next four years.
    • Imperious thinks he's the reincarnation (or something) of Zeus, and unfortunately, he's right. He treats both mere mortals and super-powered mortals accordingly.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Frylock of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force can shoot electricity out of his eyes. Subverted in that he's the most even-tempered member of the Hunger Force, and is usually no worse than a Control Freak. Usually.
  • Lightningbending is the secondary ability of Firebenders in Avatar: The Last Airbender. In the original ATLA, it's a complete subversion as it requires a kind of emotional clarity and detachment (which can be calmness, such as with Iroh, or cold-heartedness, as with Azula and Ozai) which allows one to separate and focus the necessary energies. Azula's ability to continue shooting lightning even after her Villainous Breakdown is probably due to a combination of familiarity, the significant power boost provided by Sozin's Comet, and having great clarity in terms of really wanting to kill Zuko and Katara.
    • Then it's subverted in the 70-years-later Legend of Korra, where bending lightning has become commonplace. There are even factories where lightningbenders can work to provide electricity for utilities.
    • On the other hand, in the prequel novel The Rise of Kyoshi, set about 412 years before Aang's show and 482 before Korra's, lightningbending is a secret technique first demonstrated by the daofei mob boss Xu Ping An. Xu Ping An was captured years before the story takes place and only escaped an Earth Kingdom death penalty because high-ranking Fire Nationals wanted to wring the secret out of him. Kyoshi had no idea lightningbending was a thing until he did it to her, and nor did her firebender girlfriend. Xu Ping An achieves the clarity and detachment necessary through being absolutely bonkers. One of Kyoshi's friends points out that he refers to himself as the 'General of Pandimu.' There is no such place as Pandimu; it is just Xu's name for the world that he thinks he owns and therefore he thinks that everyone on it owes him for allowing them to live.
  • The Batman: Maxie Zeus is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who believes that he's Zeus and demands worship, building a giant aircraft with a private army and outfitting himself with a suit that shoots lightning bolts.
  • Ben 10: Kevin is like this in his debut episode. His ability to absorb electricity is later revealed to give him insanity as a side effect, and it shows, what with him using it to derail a subway train and later electrocute the bullies that had been giving him a hard time. At the end of this episode, Kevin gains a power-up that allows him to phase out the electro part of this trope, and in the sequel series, avoids using his electric powers altogether to phase out the psycho part.
  • Megavolt in Darkwing Duck.
    Megavolt: They called me mad. They called me insane! They were right. But I'm running things now!
  • Parodied in one episode of Family Guy, when Peter goes mad with power after he finds out he can shock people by rubbing his feet on the carpet.
  • When The Archmage of Gargoyles possessed the spellbook the Grimorum Arcanorum, his primary offensive spell was a lightning bolt that jumped from his fingertip to the target. "Fulminus venite!"
  • Electronique, a villain from one episode of Kim Possible.
  • In Legion of Super Heroes (2006), we have the hotheaded Lightning Lad and his morally ambiguous brother Mekt.
  • Sparky from Lilo & Stitch: The Series is a subversion of this trope. Although he starts out as a destruction-happy monster, he is rehabilitated and put to constructive ends, such as powering an abandoned lighthouse.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Nightmare Moon zapped three Royal Guards when they tried to apprehend her. Her non-corrupted form Princess Luna also has power over lightning, but she only uses it for dramatic effect.
  • Electro from The Spectacular Spider-Man exemplifies this trope, essentially running around in a panic and discharging voltage uncontrollably. Before the accident he seems like a cocky Jerkass, and right after it, although he's rude and snappish, he isn't villainous so much as panicking and accidentally shocking things. However, after encountering Spider-Man and being threatened by cops, he immediately becomes the spastic crazed type.
  • Although usually pretty lowkey, Unagi from Sushi Pack has a tendency to lean toward megalomania when overdosing on electricity.
  • Shrapnel from the Transformers series, who repeats the last word of every sentence and is generally insane, insane.
    • For that matter, Megatron/Galvatron in Transformers: Cybertron. He can shoot lightning from his hands, like Shrapnel. Or a Sith Lord.
  • Uncle Croc's Block: The "Fraidy Cat" segments feature a cat whose nine lives come back to haunt him as ghosts. Fraidy's final (and current) life is personified as Cloud Nine, a sinister storm cloud who's fond of ejecting lightning strikes and always chases down Fraidy to zap him to death.
  • Livewire (pictured) from Superman: The Animated Series. She has electrical powers and isn't very sane.
  • The appropriately named "Lightning" (along with his sound-based brother "Thunder"), from Teen Titans (2003), though he comes across more as a Psychopathic Manchild since wasn't aware of the destruction he caused.
    • In the comic books, Thunder and Lightning deluded themselves into believing they were gods.
    • Then there's the villain Overload, who's just a great big sentient ball of electricity with a floppy disk for a face.
  • Electric Eel from Underdog.
  • From Winx Club we have Stormy, a witch with powers based on lightning, who is the most unstable villain of the whole series.
  • In W.I.T.C.H. Quintessence manifests itself as lightning, and Nerissa, wielder of this power since her days as a Guardian, went corrupted by her power and insane, in contrast to Will, her successor as a Guardian and wielder of the same power who does her utmost to NOT end like her.
  • Wander over Yonder: Lord Hater is a somewhat downplayed example, in terms of psychopathy at least. He's not exactly a laughing, murderous maniac, but he is a would-be planetary conqueror with vicious, cruel tendencies and horrific temper. His electric powers, however, are definitely not downplayed; he is enormously powerful when he's properly riled up, being able to fight a villain that Curbstomped every other at once without a problem to a standstill, and even one-shotting a planet-killing starship with an electric blast.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Several members of the law enforcement community. Witness the staggering number of excessive force incidents involving tasers.
    • "Don't tase me, bro!"
    • This is a result of the widespread belief that a taser is a harmless device that does no real damage. As it turns out, while less lethal than a firearm, it's still a dangerous weapon to be only used at utmost need.
  • Possibly originated with Nikola Tesla, famous for his studies of electricity and for pioneering mad science as we know it today.
    • Take a look at this picture and you might want to reconsider that "possibly" part.

These people have gone ec-static with the powers they've conducted, aren't exactly grounded and may get a jolt out of doing revolting things, whether it hertz others or not. Indeed, sometimes they Jump Off the Slippery Slope for a simple surge of enjoyment, and as such should never be left in charge. Notably, most of them go with the current, do watt they do best and sometimes, with a shocking past from their childhood's ohms as the driving spark, they run down the wire and pull the plug on a few puppies. Suffuse to say, their power has corrupted them and is reason enough to have them put in the chair.


Video Example(s):



First boss fight is against a deadite-possessed electroshock therapy patient, whom is more than happy to use all the volts on Ash.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / PsychoElectro

Media sources: