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The Berserker
aka: Berserker

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His name is Guts, and he's about to hack out yours.

"Bodvar Bjarki ploughed into them now, hacking two handed, his only thought to do as much damage as he could before he fell. And now they fall in heaps before him, one on top of another, and both his arms are bloodied to the shoulder, and he felled so many, the dead were stacked all about him. He stormed on as if he was insane."

The Berserker is a character who throws himself into a fight with such reckless abandon, it seems like he wants to die. It could be over-enthusiasm, overconfidence, Unstoppable Rage, or the desire to die (in battle). Whatever the cause, it's usually accompanied by a bellowing warcry. Sometimes with total obliviousness to whether he's actually fighting the enemy. And he never, ever retreats.

For extra points of terrifying spectacle, oftentimes the Berserker is inexplicably immune to pain and/or injury. It's one thing for the screaming, frothing lunatic hacking people down left and right to simply be too savage to get near, but when they take so many arrows they look like a porcupine and it just pisses them off even more it is quite another. When they shrug off a cannonball with little more than a feral scream, that's usually sufficient for the opposing army to collectively shit itself and run.


Berserkers are equally capable of being good or evil. If they're good, then out of battle, they will likely brood about whatever it is that causes their berserk fits or remorse about losing control of themselves. Most end up one of two ways: being taught by their teammates to control themselves after a particularly close call, or dying in a dramatic fashion while lamenting that they died without completing their mission. Good Berserkers are also very prone to Heroic Sacrifices, for very obvious reasons. When this is not played for drama, the Berserker may have a Boisterous Bruiser attitude when not in his battle rage. An evil Berserker, on the other hand, is generally just unrepentantly Ax-Crazy and very often Chaotic Evil.

The trope's title refers to the berserkr of Viking-age Scandinavia: Warriors who are said to have thrown themselves into battle wearing only animal hides for armour and with no regard for their own safety. Their 'battle-madness', whose exact nature is presently unknown (some say it came from ingesting weird mushrooms or some other mind-altering drug before a battle) is said to have been a gift from Odin. The word "berserkr" means "Bear-shirt" in Old Norse, referring to either their going into battle with the ferocity of bears or for wearing bear pelts into battle. Their effectiveness in battle is up for debate, but they were an imposing and terrifying nightmare to the continental Europeans — and, if The Icelandic Sagas are to be trusted, to their own civilization. Some Norse societies would eventually outright ban the practices of the berserker, no doubt influenced by its people converting to Christianity.


With terms in sources speaking of the Norse berserkr also occasionally giving off some implication of Shapeshifting (or at least stating their ferocity was like they became savage animals...), it's a possibility the tales of the berserker would later inspire that of the Werewolf.

Berserkers that truly do wish to die in battle are better known as Death Seekers — those who don't often overlap with the Blood Knight or Barbarian Hero instead. When foolishly done without any regard to strategy or planning, the Berserker becomes a Leeroy Jenkins. Because of its historical root, berserkers are likely part of a Proud Warrior Race.

Compare Berserk Button, which is when pressing a character's Trigger turns them into this. Compare Hulking Out for cases where the berserk character changes physically as well as mentally. If the Berserker fights this hard so that no one else needs to help him, he might also a Martyr Without a Cause. Contrast Blinded by Rage, where a berserker's blind rage proves to be his undoing.

This trope should not be confused with the now-disbanded Australian grindcore band The Berzerker, the Berserker universe, the manga franchise Berserk, the classic arcade game Berzerk, or the 1967 B-horror movie Berserk.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Drake and Vasquez in Film/Aliens.
  • The aptly-named Sven the Berserk in Erik the Viking is one comedic example. His father is also a berserker and lectures him on berserking. He goes into a rage over every little thing, which leaves him with insufficient pent-up rage when he actually needs it.
  • In The 13th Warrior, Ahmad ibn Fadlan goes battle-mad during one attack, but seeing as he's hanging around Vikings and taking on more and more of their culture, it's not surprising.
  • Ajax in Troy. When he goes into battle, no Annoying Arrows or mere impalement can stop him from administering a righteous hammer of justice.
  • Parodied by Mr. Furious in Mystery Men. He gets angry. He gets really angry. That's it. No super-strength, no supernatural resistance to pain or injury, and he doesn't change into a monster. He's just a raging Ben Stiller with all the fighting ability of a loaf of bread. Then he finally finds something to get righteously furious about, and suddenly becomes as super-strong as he's supposed to be...
  • Dying in battle was a family tradition for Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump and he is furious when Forrest saves him (especially since he was crippled by his injury).
  • Benjamin Martin in The Patriot exhibits berserker-like qualities in battle. Especially his first and last fight scenes.
  • Unleashed: Danny fights with pure aggression when he's let off his leash.
  • Godzilla. When he gets into a fight, he doesn't stop until either his enemy has been defeated or until the battle ends in a draw. Only rarely has he been defeated in battle.
    • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah takes this Up to Eleven after Destoroyah kills Junior. Godzilla goes into a berserk rage and begins to unleash his wrath unto Destroyah all the while dying of a nuclear meltdown. This causes Destoroyah, one of the most (if not the most) sadistic and evil monsters in the films to run for his life.
    • This is a major plot point in the film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. It turns out that hearing Godzilla's roar is enough to send Kiryu (a cyborg version of the original Godzilla) to rampage across Tokyo. The JSDF end up reprogramming him to ensure this doesn't happen again.
    • Gigan and King Ghidorah are two evil examples of this. They don't care what planet they're helping the alien villains to conquer and why. As long as they get to fight and destroy things, they're happy.
  • One of the replacement players in The Replacements (2000) is Danny Bateman, a riot cop and Gulf War veteran. Stoic and reserved under normal circumstances, the second he's expected to perform he becomes a lunatic, equally likely to inflict bodily harm on friend and foe alike.
  • The Captain during the final battle in 300 becomes the Death Seeker version of this trope, having already witnessed the death of his son and knowing no Spartan will survive this fight. Boar spears have a cross-bar behind the head to prevent animals from doing the same thing the Captain does, which is charge up the spear haft after it pierces his gut - so that he can kill the wielder. Like most fabled berserkers, he is only defeated by the combined efforts of several enemies hacking him to pieces.
  • In the X-Men Film Series, Wolverine often flies into a rage when he's in a fight.
  • Kylo Ren from the Star Wars sequel trilogy. His lightsaber fighting style is very aggressive and he cares little about getting hurt in the process.

  • In Lone Wolf, some enemies are described as entering fights in a state of rage, making them immune to basic psychic attacks.
    • This is common with the Drakkarim; they're sometimes seen hacking at lowly soldiers on their side, like Giaks, just to reach their main foe.
    • Several Acolytes of Vashna are also seen in battle frenzy in The Legacy of Vashna, thanks to the Adgana herb.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Gunn, as a result of Survivor Guilt and blaming himself for Alonna's death. Negated when he fell in love with Fred, giving him a new lease on life.
    • Connor tries to commit Suicide by Cop after Jasmine's defeat, and doesn't care if the Cop has to be Angel.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When we first meet Faith, the result of witnessing the gruesome death of her Watcher. She relapses back into it when she awakens from her coma.
    Buffy: Girl's not playing with a full deck, Giles. She has no deck. She has a 3.
  • Numerous alien species from the various Star Trek franchises, including the Klingons and Jem'Hadar (the latter first appearing in Deep Space Nine continuity), are brutally fierce warrior races which not only show no fear of death but in some instances actually seem to relish the prospect of death in battle (although the Enterprise franchise plays down this aspect of Klingon culture somewhat).
  • Gem and Gemma of Power Rangers RPM. A pair of psychopathic Man Children who have a five year old's fascination for guns and explosions (or rather, "boom time") and a Henshin Hero's armory. They have to be reminded rather frequently to, for example, not blow up the enemy factory until prisoners have been removed.
  • Kamen Rider Double's Mid-Season Upgrade, FangJoker, first started out as this, due to Philip's difficulty in controlling it.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In the Season 6 episode The Battle of the Bastards Jon Snow goes completely berserk in the battlefield after Ramsay kills poor Rickon, singlehandedly slaying every enemy soldier he can gets his hands on. Even Tormund is unsettled. At the end of the episode, he's a Blood-Splattered Warrior who beats the living shit out of Ramsay. Jon only calms upon seeing his sister Sansa, who ultimately kills Ramsay herself by feeding him to his own dogs.
    • In battle, Tormund and Styr both scream and howl while delivering powerful blows.
    • Brienne starts her fights with proper poise and footwork, but when she's pushed she'll go absolutely feral on her enemies, biting and screaming like a maniac until they are down.
    • After Yoren is killed in "What is Dead May Never Die", Gendry charges at the Lannister soldiers armed only with his smith's hammer.
    • Euron is an axe-wielding berserk captain who personally leads his boarding party with an attacking zeal and passing regard at best for actively defending himself (uncommon for a berserker, he wears heavy armor). When he boards Yara's flagship, he takes several hits from the Sand Snakes and Yara during their respective fights, but shrugs them off as easily as mosquito bites.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Doomsday Machine" features an unstoppable machine constructed by an unknown alien civilisation constructed to kill and destroy for ever without stopping.
  • Vikings: In season 2 Rollo, Jarl Borg, and a group of Borg's men are seen eating mushrooms before a battle and charging into the fight bare chested. Rollo's actions in the battle are horrifically brutal, and he attacks several of his former comrades savagely until a combination of having killed one of those comrades via Impaled with Extreme Prejudice and being confronted by his brother Ragnar finally snap Rollo out of it.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In the mythology of the Trope Namers, Odin was the patron God of the berserkers. The name Odin actually means the furious.
  • In Irish legend, when the hero Cuchulainn went into "warp-spasm," he was invincible — but could not distinguish friend from foe.
  • Lancelot from Arthurian legends had many aspects of this trope. When Monty Python did their Holy Grail movie, Lancelot's character was preserved. He was memorable for scenes where he would kill innocents and be pretty sorry for it later, just like the stories.
  • Myth/Greekmythology:
    • Although Ajax is described as a defensive fighter in The Iliad, a post-Homeric source makes him into this. At one point, blind with fury over not getting the recently-deceased Achilles' armor, he goes into a berserk rage and kills a bunch of sheep, thinking they are the Greek army. When he realizes what he has done, he is Driven to Suicide. He is depicted the same way in Troy, although the whole "sheep-killing" thing is skipped over.
    • Diomedes also fits, being unwilling to stand down in the face of two deities. He wounds both of them and forces them to retreat.
    • Achilles himself is also an example— once he gets out of his tent, that is.
    • Heracles is also known to fly into mad rages at times. This is never a pleasant thing for anyone he was fighting — or for any innocents in the vicinity. He murdered his family one time after a particular nasty rage brought about by Hera, which led to him undertaking the Twelve Labors as atonement.
    • Ares represented this aspect of war, as opposed to Athena's more measured approach.
  • Hindu Mythology:
    • Kali. Normally the benevolent mother goddess Parvati, she notably slew the demon Raktabija who kept making copies each time his blood was spilled. The solution? She drains his blood and eats the duplicates. Trouble was, she got blood thirsty, literally. She wouldn't stop until her husband Shiva either turned into a baby to bring out her maternal instincts or trampled by a dancing Kali who snapped out of it once she realized what she was doing.
    • Shiva was said to be prone to berserker rages as well. At one point, there was a party in his house that he didn't know about, so he went on a rampage and killed everyone present. It was only after he stopped that Parvati informed him that he'd killed their son, Ganesha, by chopping his head off. Remorseful, Shiva put everyone he'd killed back together, but some of the body parts got jumbled up; Shiva couldn't find Ganesha's head so he used the head of a female elephant that he found near Ganesha's body as a replacement.
  • The Book of Judges in The Bible reports that "the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson" several times, which inevitably resulted in a high body count. On one occasion he killed one thousand Philistines singlehandedly, armed only with a donkey's jawbone.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Oleg the Usurper and Chikara, who has The Gimmick of a Viking Berserker. Sidney Bakabella can keep him focused and under control but if Sidney is not around, Oleg will attack everything from fans, to referees to ring announcers.

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Razoul and the warriors of Vanna's Black Guard in general. They tend to devour Drakeroot before battle in order to become more ferocious and powerful, but the root also has the side effect of turning them into nearly mindless brutes as a result.
  • Admiral Flota Vladimir Ilyavich Tokarev, HERO OF THE TRIBES, from v4 of Open Blue. The male population of the aforementioned "tribes" consists entirely of Hot-Blooded pseudo-Russo-Mongol warriors, and thus to be regarded as "HERO OF THE TRIBES" means you've gotta be a Berserker in your own right. It's even lampshaded as one of his specialties. Somewhat subverted in that he only does this when engaged in melees, and if there is no other viable ship tactic. When it's more effective to just blow you up from a distance, he will opt for that instead. Tokarev didn't become an admiral for stupidity, after all.
  • The third RP of Darwin's Soldiers has Gustave, a man who has a penchant for violence and has little regard for his personal safety. Being an anthropomorphic Nile Crocodile with thick muscle, thick scaly skin and scutes that essentially serve as body armor, "personal safety" might mean different things to him.
  • Darth Apparatus in The Gungan Council. He may seem reserved when not in battle. Yet when the lightsabers light up, he rips apart enemies in a fit of pure rage. He even used Oghren's quotes on berserkers while describing how he fights.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: The Meta is like this but seemingly in the "berserker rage" state permanently. In Reconstruction, he goes on a massive killing rampage whenever he gets a new AI fragment, and in Revelation this is taken to its final extreme.
  • In RWBY, Yang Xiao Long has some elements of this. Though she keeps a cool head most of the time, when a battle begins to go against her, there's a distinct change in her demeanor. She gets far more aggressive, accompanied by a boost in strength (which Ruby says is proportional to how much damage she's taken in the fight). This is usually accompanied by her normally purple eyes turning red, her hair glowing golden, and a Slasher Smile appearing on her face.

    Web Comics 
  • Otsana from Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki is a Valkyrie from The Days of Berserkers and "High Adventures" and she even has a wolf motif which would confirm her berserker status
  • Ed from MegaTokyo not only seems to relish bloodshed and destruction and to engage in said activities with reckless abandon, he has himself been seriously maimed and/or killed numerous times only to be rebuilt/resurrected by his superiors that he might put himself (willingly) in harm's way again.
  • Dominic Deegan had a one-shot character named Brok that was hired by the Infernomancer during his first appearance, who goes into an Unstoppable Rage after Bumper tries (and fails) to knock him out by smashing a staff on the back of his head. He was at first meant to have a much longer run, but writer/artist Mookie stated that he just didn't feel right throwing in a Berserker-type character in a magic-based world, so a raging Brok chases Stunt and Bumper into the sunset and is never seen again.
  • Drowtales: The bulk of the Vloz'res army consists of heavily tainted warriors called berserkers. Curiously, the only named berserker is a subversion.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Jägermonsters. They were given the opportunity to become nigh unkillable super soldiers specifically because they were among the best and most dedicated warriors serving under the Heterodynes and any who chose to take the Jägerdraught did so knowing that it killed outright or drove to suicide nine out of ten of those who take it just so that they could continue fighting and pillaging alongside their Heterodyne and their descendants. Even the most reserved among them are eager to fling themselves into battle.
    • Not to suicidal levels, but Trelawney Thorpe has been shown to rather impulsively spring into action.
  • Subverted in Guilded Age: Byron the Berserker is arguably the most level-headed, well-adjusted member of the party because he apparently lives in fear of his tendency to lose his shit and become a true, foaming at the mouth, screaming, psychotic, berserkergang killing machine. (He does enjoy a good bloodbath, though.) The condition is probably some kind of supernatural curse. A cultist once tried to force him to kill one of his friends with it, and there's a Troubled Backstory Flashback that hints he might have killed a town as a boy. Possibly a deconstructed one.
  • Breakfast of the Gods: Several characters qualify, which makes sense given the premise. Consider how many cereal mascots over the years have regularly lost control over their preferred cereal...
    • Sonny the Cocoa Puffs Cuckoo-bird is a psychotic (and psychopathic) homicidal, maniac. When he's "sane" he's kept in a dungeon cell in a straitjacket.
    • Froot Brute is a pudgy sort of guy who turns into a bloodthirsty werewolf when he even thinks about his cereal
    • Near the end of book three, Super Bear makes an appearance. And everything the character has done through the first two books and first 3/4 of the final one makes perfect sense. In single combat he takes out Sonny and Froot Brute. And then is about to go after Tony the Tiger — one of his own friends.
  • Sweet, timid, Shrinking Violet Calvin in Lackadaisy can turn into a Berserker when you put a gun in his hands.
  • In Thistil Mistil Kistil, Coal's father, apparently. And Coal himself. Red Eyes, Take Warning...
  • A berserker visits a bordello in Oglaf, only to begin frothing at the mouth and pelvic-thrusting uncontrollably while engaging the services of one of the employees, who has an emergency sap on hand for just such an occasion. He is then kicked out for ignoring the clearly labeled "No Berserkers" sign the establishment has up.
  • Lewis Black has no superpowers in Fake News Rumble, but his sheer rage (and a chair) makes him just as capable of fighting monsters as his superpowered colleagues.
  • In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things Tank was literally engineered to be the berserker, forced into it by the army he worked for after an injury, because they wanted to see how far they can push this trope before a man becomes a liability to his team. His army family managed to jailbrake the chassis so the army couldn't pump Tank with aggro juice without warning, but this has left Tank with some hangups that occasionally prompt him to turn up the juice himself and take his insecurities out on his ex-boyfriend Commander Badass.
  • The Noordegraaf Files has Violet, a thin, silent 16 - year old girl, who flies into an Unstoppable Rage if hurt.
  • In El Goonish Shive, when Grace is well and truly pissed off, she defaults to her Super Soldier conditioning and morphs into this, ferociously and relentlessly attacking whatever's causing her stress until it's completely obliterated. The climax of the "Painted Black" arc is essentially Grace entering a literally Unstoppable Rage against Damien after the latter threatens her friends one too many times.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Thog of the Linear Guild, like all D&D barbarians, has the Rage ability (probably Greater Rage if he's around Roy's level) and is able to break open a jail cell and toss Roy around like a rag-doll while under its influence. Also, his post-Rage fatigue manifests itself as confusion and short-term memory loss.
    • Belkar Bitterleaf also has a couple of barbarian levels, but it's not always obvious when he goes into a rage because he's commonly in some kind of foul temper.

    Web Original 
  • Regan Bard in Void Dogs uses this, referred to in text as the "warp spasm" of Irish myth.
  • In Dead West, the two MacArkills, and even possibly the Amber Duchess. This is more believeable from the elder MacArkill, nicknamed the Beast, who is absolutely built for it, but when the Porcelain Doctor has a meltdown, it is an impossible sight to behold. Mind you, the smaller brother is still 6 foot tall, but thin as a stick. This does zero to diminish the ensuing carnage.
  • The Whateley Universe features an official "rager" classification for mutants that's Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Students afflicted that way frequently come to Whateley Academy with a body count already on their record. Razorback (a student turned into a sort of velociraptor by his mutation, complete with loss of his human vocal apparatus) is both a poster child and one of the good guys.
  • In The Anglo/American – Nazi War , a lot of the Waffen-SS and Hitler Youth approach this due to fanaticism garnered through years of propaganda against the "evil English" and a general lack of options. Brainwashed Child Soldiers with automatic weapons are quite terrifying. But it's Deconstructed because no matter how crazy these kids are, they're no more or less vulnerable than anyone else; they tend to be brushed aside easily while the Heer troops, men in their fourties and fifties pressed back into service with their old WW2-era guns, have a more methodical and rational approach to battle that means they can pull off good, even sometimes impressive efforts against the younger, fitter and better armed Allied troops.
  • Cobra Kai: This is Hawk's style of combat. He'll take as many hits as he has to in order to get in his own to deal with his opponent. Robby found this out the painful way — In the Back! — at the All Valley tournament when he mocked his "stupid haircut."

    Western Animation 
  • Samurai Jack:
    • While Jack usually keeps his emotions in check, he has a couple of moments where he completely loses his temper, especially when his Inner-Self is in control of his negative emotions. Aku exploits this twice. First, in an episode when he created a dark version of the samurai in an attempt to finish Jack. Jack defeats Mad Jack by simply meditating. Second, when Aku destroyed the last time portal that will get Jack back to the past. Jack loses it and kills three sheep out of anger.
    • Ashi. Whenever sufficiently enraged enough to fight someone, she's absolutely brutal and ruthless to her opponents; as best seen when she battles, for example: Jack, the Dominator, or that Orc Army. Her possessed form is even worse.
    • The Scotsman's wife from Episode XVII. After being shown as a damsel in distress, having been kidnapped by the enemy of the episode and making Jack and the Scotsman carry her out of the prison she was in, she flies off the handle when the enemy of the episode calls her fat. Cue [[Roaring Rampage of Revenge]] She also does it when Jack accidentally calls her fat at the end of the episode.
  • Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender is prone to such moments (running Zhao's Fire Navy fleet, seeking out fights with his more powerful sister) because he truly cannot fathom walking away from a fight.
  • Dinobot of Transformers: Beast Wars, is the very definition of this one. He wasn't afraid to die... Seeing a battle through to the end was a pretty significant part of his code of honor. True to form, he went out in a blaze of glory.
    • When Optimus gets infected with a cyberbee designed to make him a coward, but got the opposite effect, he tore through the Predacon base with apparent ease.
  • The Decepticon Sixshot is one of these. He is portrayed as possibly being the greatest pure warrior among the Transformers (though others may be more gifted at overall strategy, or just more powerful), aided by his (even more) rapid transformation speed and five alternate modes. Though a Decepticon, he speaks well of those he's beaten in combat, as he hopes that should anyone ever defeat him he will be treated as respectfully.
  • The minor character Shoza in Shogun's Samurai. When Tadanaga chooses to surrender to avoid the massacre of his troops, his retainer rebukes his decision. The samurai boldly announces his independence before his former master and the enemy and proceeds to set off on a lone charge, determined to defeat every last soldier and retrieve the rival prince's head. Even the enemy commander sincerely declares that Tadanaga has a retainer on his hands before ordering his troops to gun him down.
  • Superboy from Young Justice. It's justified by the fact that, due to telepathic g-gnomes always either inhibiting or inducing anger, he's never really been angry before and it takes him a while to learn how to deal with it. By the second season, he's grown experienced at channeling it.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Darth Maul initially starts out as one, due to years of isolation after his dismemberment at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He later regains his more cunning, manipulative side (along with a working pair of legs) but in a fight his berserker tendencies come back to the fore.

    Real Life 
  • The Vikings are both the Trope Namers and the best examples; among their soldiers there were the fabled Berserkers, warriors who, in a (possibly drug-induced) fit of Unstoppable Rage, would plunge themselves into battle wearing little to no armor and slash their way through countless amounts of enemies, and earned themselves the mythic reputation they have today.
    • The commonly-known term "berserker" and their bear symbolism wasn't the only way frenzied Norse warriors would manifest - "Úlfhéðnar" warriors had a similar fame for battle ferocity but instead used the wolf for their cult motif, which may have been particularly associated with the god Odin given he had a pair of wolves as pets. Neither "fire or iron" harming the berserkers was a repeated phrase in reference to the warriors in throes of their signature rage. A boar warrior cult also existed, though it doesn't appear that they had the same reputation for going into an uncontrollable frenzy.
      • Descriptions also commonly mentioned the berserkers gnawing the rims of their own shields (as shown by some of the pieces of a 12th-century chess set found in Scotland) like crazed animals, unlike most media portraying berserkers as forsaking their fortitude by Dual Wielding or using a single oversized weapon (perhaps even the berserkers had a semblance of survival instincts?).
  • The Viking at Stamford Bridge volunteered to stay behind alone and hold back the Saxons while they waited for their reinforcements to arrive. For an hour, he stood alone on the bridge, killing over 40 men and wounding dozens more. He was only stopped when one soldier got the smart idea of floating in a barrel underneath the bridge, and jammed a spear up through the bridge right between the Viking's legs.
  • Ukrainian Cossacks had their own kind of berserkers named "kharakterniki" ("the ones with a character" or "special ones"). Legends gave them some supernatural abilities like turning into ravens or hawks, healing wounds and charming bullets with words or catching bullets with bare hands. Probably the most famous kharakternik in history is the 17th centuary Zaporozhian Cossacks leader (Koshovyi Otaman) Ivan Sirko.
  • During the course of World War II, Audie Murphy went berserk at Anzio when his best friend Lattie Tipton was killed by a German machine-gunner pretending to surrender. The result was Murphy killing the entire machine gun crew that killed his friend before commandeering their machine gun and grenades and turning them on German positions and destroying anything not wearing the right uniform. This got him the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor, which he got a year later in a truly ballsy move that involved commandeering the machine gun of a burning tank and using it to hold off a German squad, taking a wound in the leg in the process, before leading his men to repel the Germans.
  • Probably half of the real people profiled on Badass of the Week got on the site by going full berserker. Late US Senator Daniel Inouye's story has a good example. He charges a series of German machine gun nests, gets his arm blown off while trying to throw a hand grenade, then picks up the grenade he just dropped with his good arm and throws it, and then charges the next machine gun nest in a fugue state, firing one handed until getting wounded in the leg, at which point he props himself against a tree and keeps shooting. When his buddies told him what he did, he replied, "No, that can't be... you'd have to be insane to do all that."
  • As the above examples illustrate, "going berserk" is a rare but well established phenomenon that manifests as one of several responses to a person being pushed to their psychological limit. Instances have been recorded throughout history across many armies and battles.
  • Many people with autism can slip into a state called "meltdown" when overstressed or overstimulated. In this state they can sometimes (but do not always) violently lash out at their environment, not conscious of any harm to themselves. It's often mistaken for a mundane temper tantrum, but a normal toddler throwing a fit is in full control of themselves and making a power play, while a meltdown is not a controlled action.
    • There is evidence that at least some of these meltdowns are caused by an imbalance of grey and white matter in the brain, which renders the brain so sensitive to sensory input that being exposed to too many noises, smells or even colors at once can literally trigger a small seizure in the frontal lobe of the brain. For reference, the frontal lobe controls reason, emotional regulation, and decision making. Is it any wonder an autistic person in this state can become violent or unreasonably depressed?
  • This phenomenon exists in the animal kingdom too, of course:
    • Many animals are easily driven to anger to protect their families and turf. As evidenced by the trope names Papa Wolf and Mama Bear, wolves protecting their packs and female bears protecting their cubs are best known for this sort of behaviour, but other animals do it too. For example, though not as dangerous to humans as bears and wolves are, geese are aggressively territorial, especially ganders protecting their mates' nests.
    • Mating season is also a major time for berserk aggression throughout the animal kingdom when creatures compete for partners. Among mammals, males typically fight each other for females.
    • Sharks and piranhas infamously go into feeding frenzies, often triggered by finding large concentrations of prey animals and/or smelling blood.
    • Chicken flocks are known to go berserk and peck at birds with blood on their feathers. This cannibalistic behaviour is especially destructive because other flock members often get bloodied in these frenzies, leading the rest to turn on them too.
    • Hippos are surprisingly aggressive too. In Africa, they kill more humans than any animal except mosquitoes and other humans.

Alternative Title(s): Berserker


Example of: